From the Ramban
The Shofar Sounds
By way of the Truth, [the mystic teachings of the Kabbalah],
it shall be a day of t'ruah unto you means that the day that is set
aside for t'ruah [i.e., when the world is judged according to the attribute
of justice], will be to our succor [for we will be remembered in mercy].
Similarly, a memorial of t'ruah, 'a holy convocation' means that there
will be a remembrance [of mercy] in the t'ruah [the quavering sound
which alludes to the attribute of justice], and therefore it is a holy
Why should Scripture mention the t'ruah, and not mention
the t'kioth at all, neither in connection with the New Year nor the Day
of Atonement [of the Jubilee year]? It is because the t'kiah [the plain
accompanying sound] is the memorial, and it is the Shofar [all alluding
to the attribute of mercy], and the t'ruah is as its name indicates [i.e.,
a reference to the attribute of judgment]. And because it [the t'ruah]
is wholly surrounded by mercy - an accompanying plain sound before it
and one after it - therefore He said of those who know the t'ruah that
through righteousness they will be exalted, for Thou art the glory of
Thus it is clear that everything depends upon repentance,
but on the New Year He is concerned entirely with the attribute of justice
and conducts His world [by that attribute], and on the Day of Atonement
He is concerned entirely with the attribute of mercy. It is this that
is expressed in the saying of the Rabbis [with reference to these solemn
days]: "The King sits upon the throne of judgment etc." Thus
the New Year is a day of judgment in mercy, and the Day of Atonement is
a day of mercy in judgment.
[From the excellent annotated English translation by
Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel]
From the Chasidic Masters
"Remember us for life, King who desires life, and
inscribe us in the Book of Life."
The request "Remember us for Life" refers to a remembrance for
the life of the soul and the spirit. The request "Inscribe us in
the book of life" refers to an inscription for bodily life.
"And he bound Isaac his son"
On Rosh Hashana, the day of judgement, we read the Akeida, the scriptural
passage describing the binding of Isaac. Mystically, the Akeidah represents
the kindnesses of Abraham overcoming the severities of Isaac, the "sweetening
of the judgments."
(Rabbi Shneur Zalman - quoted in Days of Awe, Days of Joy)
From the Rebbes of Chabad
"This is the day of the beginning of Your work,
a remembrance of the first day...." (Musaf Rosh Hashanah,
from tractate Rosh Hashanah 27a)
Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world, yet
it is celebrated on the first of Tishrei, which corresponds to the sixth
day of creation, the day man was created. The reason for this is that
the ultimate purpose of creation is that man through his divine service
reveals G-dliness in the world--a revelation that could be pointed and
addressed as zeh - "This." This endeavor began on the day man
was created, Rosh Hashanah. The creation of the world is truly celebrated
on the day when its purpose began to be realized.
Some Laws and Customs
Why do we Blow the Shofar
We are told many meanings of the shofar-blowing. In fact,
the leading Jewish sage in the tenth century C.E., Saddia Gaon, listed
ten major ones, each with a scriptural basis. Rabbi Saddia explained that
the sound of the shofar should call to mind
1) the creation of the world,
2) the beginning of the new year,
3) the Mt. Sinai experience,
4) the inspiring words of the prophets,
5) the destruction of the Holy Temple, and
6) the Binding of Isaac.
It should also arouse and increase in us
7) fear and awe of G-d Al-mighty,
8) fear and awe for the Day of Judgment,
9) belief in the future ingathering of the exiles and ultimate redemption
of Moshiach, and inspire our yearning for it, and
10) belief in the future Resurrection of the Dead.
(His list and attendant verses may be found in English in "Book
of our Heritage," among other sources.)
Keep in mind that while all of these ten are true and excellent interpretations,
and are good to have in mind before or during the actual moments of the
shofar-blowing, we cannot single out one of them or even all of them collectively
as the real reason why the shofar is blown on Rosh Hashana. The official
reason is quite simple; G-d instructed in the Torah that the shofar should
be blown "on the first day of the seventh month." But he did
not confide in us what this commandment signifies to Him.
"Out with the old year and its curses!
with the new year and its blessings!"
Tova tikateiv v'tihateim
YOU BE INSCRIBED AND SEALED
FOR A GOOD AND SWEET
OF HAPPINESS AND GROWTH!
Last year's Rosh haShanah