On Rosh Hashanah we produce three sounds via the shofar. The first sound is called tekiah, a single whole note. The second is shevarim, three shorter “broken” notes, which sound like three sighs. The third is called teruah, nine staccato notes in rapid succession, which sound like the short sobs.
What do they represent? Tekiah reminds us that once we were whole. Each of us was born whole. Shevarim reminds us that in life we are plagued by questions, confusion, and disappointments; we become fragmented, and scattered, causing our existential sighs. Teruah reminds us how many people’s lives have been shattered through various negative experiences into tiny pieces. They are sobbing consciously or unconsciously.