What is the purpose for which the Jewish people have been placed in the world? The answer is to be found within the Massif of Rosh HaShanah: the three blessings of Malchuyot (kingship), Zichronot (remembrances) and Shofarot (the essence of the shofar), each punctuated by the sounds of the shofar; each containing the essence of our faith.
In explaining anti-Semitism, Maurice Samuel once wrote, “No one likes his alarm clock.” He believed that the fate of the Jews provided an early warning signal to humanity, which resented the awakening, however necessary.
Have you ever seen a straight Shofar? There’s a reason why; according to Jewish law, a Shofar must be crooked. In the first chapter of his Laws of Shofar, Sukkah, and Lulav, Maimonides writes: “the Shofar that is blown…is the crooked (twisted, bent over) ram’s horn.” What is the symbolism of blowing a crooked Shofar? The Talmud, in tractate Rosh Hashanah 26b, connects the bent shape of the Shofar to the bending will of each human, the humble acknowledgement that our desires alone do not dictate the future.
At the opening of the Book of Samuel, in a story we retell each Rosh Hashanah, we are introduced to Hannah, a woman distressed for the child she yearns to raise, but cannot conceive. The Book of Genesis recounts yet another story we read on Rosh Hashanah, the story of Hagar, a mother who, unable to stay with her son and watch him wither away to death from lack of water, can do nothing more than walk away from him and weep.