The Shofar (II)

The shofar is made from a hollowed out ram’s horn and is the world’s oldest wind instrument. The sounding or blowing of the shofar is one of the most ancient rites in the Rosh Hashanah service. The sound of the shofar is primitive and piercing, intended to rouse worshippers from their spiritual slumber and serve as a clarion call to repent and reconnect with their faith, their family and their G-d.


Blown like a trumpet, the shofar is sounded for a total of 100 notes during the morning service on each of the two days of Rosh Hashanah morning prayer services. The blowing of the shofar is divided into three sections: First, the shofar is blown for 30 notes (or blasts) immediately after the reading of the Torah and Haftorah. Next, a second 30-blast blowing occurs during the repetition of the Amidah, the pinnacle prayer recitation in the morning service. Finally, the last 40 blasts are sounded at the conclusion of the service.

Before each sounding of the shofar, a special prayer is recited blessing G-d for commanding the Jewish people to hear the call of the shofar. After this bracha (prayer), congregants are to stand at rapt attention in complete silence. Even young children are instructed to be silent (as much as possible) during the blowing of the shofar.

During the holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance, which follows Rosh Hashanah by ten days, the shofar is sounded for the final time of the Jewish calendar year. On Yom Kippur, the shofar blowing comes at the conclusion of the service, culminating an intense day of praying and fasting.

The blowing of the shofar reminds worshippers of the Biblical story of Abraham, the first Jew, and his beloved son Isaac. In the Book of Genesis, G-d commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son. This test of faith is revealed at the last moment, when G-d sends an angel to spare Isaac and instruct Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead. Blowing the ram’s horn on Rosh Hashana recalls the self-sacrifice of both Abraham and his thirty-something son, Isaac, and reminds modern day Jews that they, too, must commit themselves fully to G-d and to Judaism.

Come Blow our Horn!
Welcome in the High Holy Days by blowing our shofar!

The blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah consists of four sounds sounded in a specific order: tekiah (pronounced t-KEE-uh), shvarim (pronounced (sh-VAW-reem) teruah(pronounced t-ROO-uh) and tekiah gedolah (pronounced geh-DOH-luh). Each lasts approximately three seconds except tekiah gedolah. Tekiah is a straight, unbroken blast, shevarim (which means “broken ones”) is a tekiah broken into three one-second segments, teruah is a staccato division of the tekiah into nine rapid-fire notes, while tekiah gedolah is a triple tekiah, lasting a minimum of three consecutive tekiot, or nine seconds.
(Source: Ask

Tekiah Gedolah

Video: The Four Traditional Shofar Blasts

More Shofar and other High Holy Day Videos