Torah Fax
Friday, September 22, 2006 - 29 Elul, 5766

For Rosh Hashana times and schedule click here
For Rosh Hashana customs click here
Peaceful Awakening
This year, the first day of Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat. One of the consequences of this combination is that we do not sound the Shofar on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The reason given by the Talmud is puzzling. The Talmud explains that there is a concern that one might inadvertently violate the Shabbat restrictions in the interest of learning how to blow the Shofar.
Commentators find this explanation difficult to comprehend. Why would the rabbis deprive all of the Jewish people of the opportunity to fulfill this profoundly inspirational and cosmically influential mitzvah of sounding the shofar because of a remote possibility that someone might inadvertently violate the Shabbat rules?
Chassidic thought answers that in reality, when Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat, the need to sound the Shofar is not as great because the spiritual effect of Shofar sounding is replicated by the Shabbat. In the layman's language, the Shofar is intended to arouse G‑d to take pleasure in the world. Similarly, Shabbat is the day of delight, when G‑d expresses His satisfaction with the creation
Another solution to this problem could be offered that is based on the singular significance of Rosh Hashanah.
On Rosh Hashanah, more than any other time of the year,  every detail counts. Rosh Hashanah is not just the beginning of the year, it is the "head" of the year; its brain and nerve center. A scratch on the hand may be irritating; a scratch on the brain can affect the entire body's well-being; it can even be fatal, G‑d forbid.
Similarly, the Talmudic Sages' concern that Shofar sounding might lead to an infraction of the Shabbat laws, was taken more seriously on Rosh Hashanah than any other time, because of the far-reaching effects of any imbalance in our lives at that auspicious time.
A moralistic approach can also be advanced to answer the question as to why a remote fear that the Shabbat will be violated is able to cancel the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.
There are Biblical commandments that tell us how to act in relation to animals, plants and even inanimate objects. For example, we are not to walk with wide strides up to the altar in the Holy Temple because it is immodest and disrespectful to the stones! Rashi explains that this is to teach us sensitivity to other people. If we condition ourselves to be modest in relation to an inanimate object, we will certainly become sensitive in the presence of other people.
Similarly, the ban against Shofar sounding when it coincides with Shabbat can be understood as a way to sensitize us to the concerns of others when they conflict with our own. When we try to do a Mitzvah, which is our way of growing spiritually, we must always be mindful of how it may impact other Mitzvot. An illustration of this conflict is the scenario of one who pushes through a crowd of people to get closer to a Torah so it can be kissed. This individual, in the pursuit of a Mitzvah, shows total disregard for the people he is pushing and perhaps harming. It is an example of how the urge to do one Mitzvah that expresses love and affection can be at the expense of another Mitzvah to show love and affection to other people.
In this vein, the message of not sounding the shofar might be: While we are trying to inspire ourselves to Teshuvah (repentance and returning to G‑d), and while we are asking G‑d to be our King, we should not forget to respect the demands of the weekly Shabbat. Don't let (what appears to be) the small details of Judaism get swept under the rug because we are doing something that we think is far more important and majestic.
The simple message in this is when you do one good thing don't let it be at the expense of another good deed.
Another approach to this issue as to why we do not blow shofar when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat is based on the difference between Shofar and Shabbat. Maimonides explains that the Shofar helps to jolt us out of our reverie. The Shofar, in most years, and on the second day of Rosh Hashanah this year, is needed to shake us up.
There are certain times, however, when we need to be awakened not by the jolting sound of a Shofar, but by the loving caress of a day that is permeated with delight, joy, peace, rest and tranquility, the qualities of Shabbat. On the first day of Rosh Hashana, our awakening to Teshuvah can be in this peaceful, Shabbat manner.
In the prophecies discussing Moshiach's arrival, which will be heralded by the sound of a Great Shofar, we find two different scenarios. Sometimes Moshiach's coming is described as the culmination of numerous cataclysmic events that jolt us into realizing that a New Age is upon us. This can be compared to the wake up call the Shofar gives us when Rosh Hashana occurs on a weekday. Elsewhere, the prophets describe Moshiach's arrival into a world permeated with an atmosphere of peace, serenity and love. This can be compared to the spirit of serenity that encompasses us on Shabbat and the peaceful awakening we receive when Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat.
All Rabbinic authorities are in agreement that through the terrible upheavals and catastrophes our people have suffered throughout the ages - and especially in our generation - all of the negative Messianic prophecies relating to suffering have already come to pass in the fullest measure.
We can now usher in the age of eternal peace just as we usher in this year's Rosh Hashana - in a spirit of tranquility and serenity.
May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year, a Shabbat year of peace and complete Redemption.  
Moshiach Matters
The word shofar is connected with the phrase “Shipru Ma’aseichem, Beautify (and improve) your acts.” The Talmud tells us that every command that G‑d asks us to fulfill, He Himself fulfills as well. Therefore, we request of G‑d that he also “improve” and “beautify” His works, the work of creation, in the ultimate and truest sense of the words - by sending our righteous Moshiach immediately.

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