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    Hard of hearing

    It’s customary to call it teki’at shofar, the blowing of the shofar, but that in fact is not the mitzvah at all.

    The mitzvah is lishmo’a kol shofar, to hear the sound of the shofar.

    There are two aspects, two obligations: the blowing must be by a competent person who follows the rules, whilst the congregation as a whole need not have the ability to blow but must hear the sounds.

    By analogy, there is a wider sense in which everyone has a duty to hear.

    When someone is in pain, others must hear their cry.

    When God says, “I shall hear, for I am compassionate” (Ex. 22:26), we human beings have a duty to emulate the Almighty.

    When we hear the call, Sh’ma Yisra’el – “Hear, O Israel”, we must be receptive and take the message seriously.

    Rabbi Elazar ben P’dat asks in the Talmud (Ket.5b), “Why do fingers look like pegs?”, and the answer is given, “So that when a person hears something unworthy, they can plug their ears”.

    Conversely, when one hears something important, they must listen intently and not pretend to be deaf.

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