Blowing the shofar, an instrument traditionally made from a ram’s horn, is an important part of the Jewish High Holidays. It is meant to serve as a call for believers to “wake up” and take action to turn their lives in a new and better direction. This year I was researching the many associations of the word “shofar” in the Hebrew Bible and was amazed at the richness of its meanings.


The ancient language spreads
Like a web through many minds
Letters forming words that stretch and ring

 Shofar can mean a herald’s trumpet
A cornet-shriek of jubilation
Or an urgent, angry bugle-call to war

It can be a moan, a sigh, a weeping
A deep groaning, close to death
A refusal to go silent to the grave

It’s the voice of God
A sound that walks
To find you in the Garden
Of your learning and transgression
It strips you naked
And asks you what you know

Strangest of all, it’s an incision
Or a burning brand
It cuts and marks you
Searing while you bleed

Let your heart quicken
As you hearken
To the sound
Inside the sound
And promise this year
To follow where it leads

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