Q. How can the shofar be both a call to war and a proclamation of redemption?
A. A good answer is given by the Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus (early 1st century CE) who says that it is not only a military war that is announced by a trumpet blast but the struggle for the restoration of the inner state of the world at large which is symbolised by the shofar.
Philo says, “There is a kind of war ordained by God, when nature is at variance with itself and its different parts attack one another.”
When nature is out of joint the world lacks harmony, and it is the will of God that human beings mend the world by means of a metaphorical call to arms. Redemption comes when man and God together succeed in re-stabilising the universe, “not allowing a single spark that could lead to destruction or destructiveness”.
Following this line of thinking, we could use the shofar analogy in relation to our individual lives.
When we lack inner equilibrium and our personality is at sixes and sevens with itself we need a shofar-like wake-up call and the determination to re-create stability and harmony within every part of ourselves.