Since ancient times, Jewish music has been closely associated with divine services. For more than three thousand years, the blowing of the shofar has been heard over the lands of Israel. What is the value of a musical instrument and what ancient traditions are associated with it?
What is a shofar
The shofar is a wind musical instrument that has its roots deep in the pre-Jewish era. It is considered an integral part of the national symbols of Israel and the land where the Jew has set foot. Not a single holiday significant for Jewish culture passes without it.
The horn of an artiodactyl animal sacrificed is used for making. It can be wild and domestic goats, gazelles and antelopes, but it is advisable to choose a suitable ram’s horn. The Jerusalem Talmud strictly prohibits the manufacture of a sacred shofar from a cow’s horn, which is associated with the illusion of a golden calf.
The shape and length may vary depending on the chosen animal. A Jewish instrument can be short and straight, long and sinuous all over. A prerequisite is that the horn must be hollow from the inside.
To produce sound, the sharp end is cut off, processed (a drill can be used) and a simple pipe mouthpiece is formed. Due to the invariability of manufacturing technology, the sound remains the same as it was many centuries ago.
The tradition of blowing the shofar
The appearance of the instrument is associated with the beginning of the history of the Jews as a separate nation. The first time the world heard the shofar was when Abraham decided to sacrifice his son. Instead, a ram bowed its head on the sacrificial table, from the horn of which the first instrument was made. Since then, the shofar has great power and influences the soul of the Jewish people, urging them not to commit sins and come closer to the Almighty.
Since ancient times, the pipe has been used to send military signals and warn of impending disaster. According to ancient legends, its sound brought down the walls of Jericho. According to traditional Jewish law, the shofar is blown during worship on the Jewish New Year. They do this a hundred times – the sound reminds of the need for repentance and obedience. Later, the custom arose to use the instrument during Shabbat, the traditional holiday of rest that falls on every Saturday.
There is a legend that magical music will sweep over the whole Earth on the last, Judgment Day, to remind the Lord of the devotion of the people and the deed of Abraham.