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    Shofar during Ellul – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why is the shofar blown during the month of Ellul?

    A. There is a danger that people will not be ready for Rosh HaShanah. Hence the whole of the month of Ellul is a time for spiritual preparation.

    This includes commencing the spiritual wakefulness that the shofar symbolises. The prophet Amos says, “Shall the shofar be blown in the city and the people not be afraid?” (Amos 3:6).

    To leave it to Rosh HaShanah to be shaken by the sound of the shofar may be too late for adequate introspection. We need the extra time beforehand to get our affairs in order, to recognise our sins, to repent and to perform deeds of lovingkindness and charity.

    There is a historical precedent that reinforces the value of hearing the shofar in advance.

    When Moses went back up Mount Sinai to secure forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf, the shofar was sounded in the camp to warn the Israelites not to sin again. Since it was 1 Ellul when Moses went up the mountain the second time, it was during Ellul that the shofar was sounded, and it was only because the Almighty saw the sincerity of the people’s penitence that he sent Moses back on 10 Tishri (Yom Kippur) with the message, salachti, “I have forgiven”.

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