Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Whole, Broken, Whole

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.

But what we do after each time we blow the sounds of brokenness? We blow the tekiah again. This reminds us that we can be restored to wholeness again.
What is more, following all of the shofar sounds, we reach the tekiah gedolah, three sounds? We reach tekiah gedolah, "the great tekiah"—one note that lasts as long as the shofar-blower has breath, a much longer note than the initial blast which began the cycle. Through surviving brokenness, we can reach an even deeper kind of wholeness than we knew before.

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