Shofar as Shirah – Shofarot
Continued from an unedited transcript: The Yalkut Shimoni, in parshat behalotcha, says as follows: according to Reb Levi not only must you blow shofar on Rosh Hashanah you must blow trumpet in the Temple.
If you do not have trumpet then blow the shofar, but you must blow the shofar as song, the tune that was normally sung in the presence of the ruler, because you are standing in the presence of G-d.
The Gemara says the following: why can you not use a shofar that is covered with gold? because gold represents sin, the sin of the golden calf. The Gemara responds, the high priest on Yom Kippur did wear gold cloths, the Gemara answers that he wore gold cloths outside the holy of holies but whenever he went inside the holy of holies he was only wearing white cloths. The Gemara questions this, you do not blow the shofar in the holy of holies?! So then why can’t you have a golden shofar?
The Gemara answers, because when you blow the shofar it is as if you are standing in the holy of holies. And there is a halachic obligation of trumpeting whenever the presence of G-d is revealed.
Shofros, the final section of the Shomnei Esrei, all the versus refer to revelation of G-d’s presence. First it speaks about G-d at Sinai, and what was there honoring G-d’s presence? the kol shofar chazek meod, who knew that G-d was there at Sinai? The entire world. The other shofar is when G-d reveals himself to the entire world, vehaya beyom hahu (it will be on that day) when the Messiah comes yitakah beshofar Gadol (they will blast this great shofar) vechol yoshvei tevel (and all the human beings will know) – they will blow a shofar because G-d’s presence is being revealed. When is the other time that G-d’s presence is reveled? On Rosh Hashanah.
But then it is not revealed to the entire world, it is only revealed to the few people who are paying attention. So when you sense that you are standing in the presence of G-d, what do you do? You blast the shofar, as in the presence of the king.
In the middle of shofarot, one of the ten versus that we read in shofarot comes from a familiar psalm, halleluhu betziltzelay teruah – that is one verse; however, when this verse is quoted an entire chapter comes with it, a very long way to quote one verse – why do we read an entire chapter? Because the minute you mention that you are in the presence of G-d, what do you do? You start to rejoice!! You are only supposed to have three versus in the beracha, so why do you have all those extra versus? Because the minute you say that G-d’s presence is there you have to start singing. Those verses are not there as part of shoferot, meaning the ten versus that you must have for each thing, they are there because you mention that G-d is present!
The result of which is spontaneous rejoicing, and song. In the middle of the beracha you start singing, shira. So when you hear the shofar at the end of shoferot, it is not tefillah, it is not tzaakah, it is a “this is unbelievable!! I’m in the presence of G-d!”
And halachically I am obligated to listen to the shofar when I am in the presence of G-d, this experience becomes a spiritual reality, it is as if I am standing in the presence of G-d.