Weekly Story: Shofar Part 2

by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon

Last week we explained through a story, why we don’t blow a shofar on erev Rosh Hashanah. Being that this year the first day of Rosh Hashanah is on Shabbos, we don’t it on the first day, only on the second day of Rosh hashanah (on Sunday), do we blow it. The gemorah explains that this is a rabbinical decree, as we are afraid that one may carry the shofar in a public domain.

Therefore in davening on Shabbos instead of saying the words Yom Teruah (A day of blowing) we say Zichron Teruah (a remembrance of the blowing), as we do mention the ten pesukim of blowing in the musaf prayer, but we don’t actually blow on Shabbos.

So this week instead of a story, I will post some of the points that the Rebbe explained on this topic.

I take this opportunity to thank all those who are participating in the effort to publish the 640 page biography of the Rebbe Rashab, and express my blessing to each and every one of the readers of this post that you and your family be blessed in an open and revealed way of only good May Hashem fulfill all of your requests in a bountiful measure..

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

The first question is why is this halachah selective? The sages instructed us not to blow the shofar on Shabbos and similarly not to take the lulav on Shabbos. So in essence they feel this concern is strong enough to prevent all Jews from fulfilling a mitzvah of the Torah.

Yet when Pesach comes out on Shabbos the sages didn’t instruct us not to conduct the seder, even though there is a greater possibility that someone might carry his matzos etc. Also if a baby boy is supposed to be circumcised on Shabbos, we don’t say we are fearful that the mohel will carry his special utensils, o the parents will carry the baby, and therefore forbid it from being done on Shabbos.  So what is the difference between these mitzvos? Why are we concerned about carrying only in certain cases?

Concerning the mitzvah of tefillin, the halachah is that one does not put on tefillin on Shabbos. The reason given is that tefillin is called a sign and Shabbos is also called a sign, so there is no reason to have two or duplicate signs. Therefore since we already have the sign of Shabbos, it is not necessary to also have the sign of tefillin, on that same day.

In other words every mitzvah accomplishes a specific purpose, in addition to the common denominator which is by every mitzvah, that by doing it we are fulfilling Hashem’s will. So when the purpose is already accomplished, there is no need to redo it.

Therefore we can say that Shabbos accomplishes the same thing that blowing the shofar does and subsequently blowing the shofar is no necessary than, and it is not done.  However, a mitzvah such as circumcision or eating the matza at the seder accomplishes a different aspect which is not accomplished through observing the Shabbos and subsequently Shabbos doesn’t negate or absolve their fulfillment.

However, this has to be understood. By tefillin, there was never a commandment to put on tefillin on Shabbos. However, for hundreds of years, the Jewish people blew the shofar on when Rosh Hashanah even when it came out on Shabbos. Furthermore, even when the sages made this guideline, they still blew the shofar in the shofar in the beis hamikdash. So what is the difference?

The Rebbe explains, our sages state that on Rosh Hashanah Hashem takes stock of the world and weighs His decisions. Therefore, Rosh Hashanah is a day that we proclaim Hashem’s sovereignty over the world and that is accomplished through tekias shofar. It creates His desire to continue give life to the world. While Shabbos accomplishes a similar concept. On Shabbos the world is on an elevated level and therefore it is not a mundane day like the other days of the week.

The Jewish Supreme Court (the Sanhedrin) decide which day Yom tov comes out on. For example they established the calendar that the first day of Rosh Hashanah can never come out on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday and subsequently Yom Kippur can never come out on a Sunday, Tuesday or Friday. However, Shabbos the court has no say over it when it shall be, it is always the seventh day of the week.

Yet, even though Shabbos is sanctified on its own, nevertheless, there is a mitzvah to enhance the beauty and pleasure of Shabbos, by adding in our prayers, eating special meals and wearing finer clothing. So we see there are levels in the splendor of Shabbos itself.

The same is by tekias shofar. The regular level of accomplishment that the Jews were able to achieve, is accomplished through Shabbos itself, and therefore there is no need to blow the shofar. However, in the beis hamikdash, it accomplishes it on a deeper level and therefore it was blown. Similarly, during the initial years before the sages made this ruling, the Jews were able to accomplish something greater through blowing the shofar than Shabbos does, and therefore they blew it.

However, one may ask; the whole concept of tekias shofar, is that we are proclaiming that we accept the Creator as our King, and we will obey the laws He instructed us to do in the Torah. But it is a declaration of the people. But here you are saying Shabbos is holy on its own, but it is missing the person’s self-nullification to the King.

There are days that a person is so occupied that he didn’t have time to eat anything. But we don’t call that fasting, fasting is when I actively decided that I won’t be eating that day. So too on Shabbos. Shabbos is not a day off of work. Shabbos is a day that a Jew actively abstains from work, as he feels that he is in the presence of the Creator, and when one stands in front of a king they don’t do work.

So if that is why we don’t blow the shofar, then it is an expression of us accepting His sovereignty and it is not something that comes automatically.

Yet, if that is the case, why did they blow it in the Beis Hamikdash (and before the decree was made)?

I gave the following parable to an individual who I learn with on the phone.

If you were invited to the white house and there was a pitcher on the table, would you get out of your seat and pour the cup for the president? The person replied, probably not. Out of respect for the Oval Office, I don’t think that would be appropriate for me to do.

So, who will pour from the pitcher?

An attendant of the White House will do it, he replied.

So is his walking around the room a sign of disrespect, I inquired?

Not at all, he replied, that is the reason he is there.

That is the same thing by the shofar. On Shabbos, out of respect for Hashem, we don’t do any work. We demonstrate that we are His subjects and are thankful to be allowed to bask in His presence. However, in the Beis Hamikdash, that is expressing His splendor and glory, there, there is no reason not to blow. To the contrary, the proper way to respect Him is by fulfilling His will, (just as we bring communal sacrifices on Shabbos).

This weeks’ post is l’zechus my sister Chaya Rivkah bas Cheyena, may she merit to have a complete and immediate healing, together with all those who need a brocha.

For an in depth analysis of this topic, Sichos In English just published a translation of the Rebbe’s sicha of 5749, where the points are discussed in greater detail, and can be downloaded from the following link http://sie.org/media/pdf/1137/COTr11370893.pdf

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He can be contacted at avtzonbooks@gmail.com

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