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When the Shofar is Silenced During a Pandemic

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There are many reasons (many!) why this year’s Rosh Hashanah will be different from last year’s Rosh Hashanah.

One reason was predictable.

Last year we blew the shofar twice; once on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and once on the second day. This year, since the first day of Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat, we will only blow the shofar on the second day of the holiday. Our sages were concerned that blowing the shofar on Shabbat may lead to a violation of Shabbat and, therefore, we skip this mitzvah in years such as this one.

Skip the shofar this year? Of all years, how can the rabbis rob us of this powerful tool for prayer! Of all years, we need to storm the heavens as never before!

And yet, perhaps this is the perfect year to skip the shofar. Let me explain!

Rav Yehuda Amital, the founding Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, notes that the last mishnah in the third chapter of Rosh Hashanah is misplaced. The third chapter focuses on the intricate laws of the shofar. The very last mishnah in this chapter references Moses and the war with Amalek, a war in which the Jewish People were victorious when Moses’ hands were raised high.

The Mishnah teaches: “And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand Israel prevailed” etc. (Exodus 17:1.) Did the hands of Moses wage war or break [Israel’s ability] to wage war?........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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