Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 7 February 2015 / 18 Shevat 5775

The Shemoneh Esrei - Tenth Blessing: Ingathering of Exiles

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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“Sound the Great Shofar…”

Why do we call it the “great shofar”?

Our Sages taught: “Ten things were created on the first Shabbat eve at twilight.” One of the ten things mentioned is the “ram of Avraham our father (Avot 5:6). It is called by his name because he sacrificed it to G-d on Mount Moriah. In other places it is referred to as the “ram of Yitzchak” since it was sacrificed in place of him.

Considering the fact that all of the words of the Sages are precise, it must be understood why the ram is called by the name of both Avraham and his son.

It is well known that Avraham and Yitzchak correspond to the attributes of chessed (kindness) and gevurah (severity), respectively. Accordingly, the ram's left horn is connected with Yitzchak, since, according to kabalistic teachings the left is always associated with gevurah. The right horn is associated with chessed, the attribute of Avraham.

The Ramak (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero) explains in his commentary on the Siddur titled “Tefillah L'Moshe” that the left horn of the ram which is associated with the attribute of gevurah is connected with the redemption from Egypt. Since it came from the side of severity, the redemption was not complete — and we were therefore subjected afterwards to other exiles.

That same shofar was used again at Mount Sinai, when the Jewish nation received the Torah, which was also given from the side of gevurah, as is implied in the phrase “with fire and might.” As it is written, “He presented the fiery Torah to them (the Jewish People),” and it is also written, “On the third day when it was morning, there was thunder and lightning and a heavy cloud on the mountain, and the sound of the shofar was very powerful.”

The Ramak further explains that the “great shofar” refers to the right horn, namely the ram of Avraham, from the side of kindness. The redemption from the right side will be with abundant mercies, and will therefore not be followed by another exile. Accordingly, regarding the future redemption it is written, “It shall be on that day a “great shofar” will be blown, and those who are lost in the land of Assyria and those cast away in the land of Egypt will come together, and they will prostrate themselves to G-d on the holy mountain of Jerusalem.” We therefore hope and pray that G-d speedily sound the “great shofar”, for then all the Jewish People will experience eternal freedom.

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