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The Music of Silence

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The following was given as a sermon on the first day of Rosh Hashana 5781:

On a late summer day in 1952, the pianist David Tudor took the stage of Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York to debut a new three-movement piece by the legendary composer John Cage. He sat down at the piano and in front of a stunned audience closed the keyboard lid. After a minute or two he opened and closed it again, and then a few minutes later opened and closed it again. After 4 minutes and 33 seconds had passed without a sound from the piano, he opened it one final time to mark the conclusion of the piece. Critics were aghast. What was Cage up to they wondered? Could the absence of sound even be called music?

Just as it is hard for us to imagine a concert without music, the sound of the shofar is one of the first things we think about when we think of Rosh Hashana. This connection is of course not just based on our own experiences, the Torah refers to Rosh Hashana as Yom Teruah- a day of sounding. Despite this, we will not blow the shofar today because it is Shabbat, but why is this the case?

The most well-known answer is found in the Babylonian Talmud, which explains that although the shofar was blown on Shabbat in the Beit HaMikdash, the sages decreed that the shofar should not be blown in other locations, lest a person who does not know how to blow the shofar........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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