The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 23 September 2006 / 1 Tishri 5767

The Shofar Shows Up

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll


There will be no shofar blowing on the first day of Rosh Hashana this year because of the rabbinical injunction against doing so on Shabbat.


Back in Moscow under oppressive Czarist rule, the community was faced with an entirely different situation preventing it from fulfilling this mitzvah on a weekday Rosh Hashana – there was no kosher shofar to be found. A disqualifying crack had been discovered in the only shofar it had, and bringing one from outside the city meant risking death at the hands of the anti-Semitic authorities.

The rav of the community, Rabbi Chaim Berlin, was greatly pained by this situation and decided to do something symbolic. He stayed up all night reviewing the laws of shofar and then set out early in the morning to the synagogue for the services which would be marred with the sadness of missing the shofar blowing.

On his way he came across a gentile wagon driver who had decorated his wagon with all sorts of horns. Amongst them he was surprised to see a beautiful kosher shofar and he approached the driver to ask him where he had gotten such a shofar. He was even more surprised when the fellow came running towards him with this shofar and begged him to take it.

It turned out that this driver had stolen the shofar from a local synagogue and was afraid that this was its rabbi who would report him to the police.

Never was the sound of the shofar so appreciated in that town as on that Rosh Hashana.

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