What does your Shofar call say about you? There are three of them, you may know, three Shofar calls that are made on Rosh Hashanah: Tekiah, Teruah and Shevarim. (Okay, there are four if you count the Tekiah G’dola – the big Tekiah – but in my book it is really just a long winded Tekiah.)
The Tekiah call is the stable, long and simple call. Tradition teaches us it was the call used to gather the people for just about any reason a group of people could gather: festivals, defense, celebration, attack. any kind of gathering that necessitated or were enhanced by the power of community. In my imagination, I see Tekiah as the coxswain at the head of the boat – calling, urging the rowers toward their goal. The coxswain/Tekiah call is constantly reminding them of the power in their unity and community and the attention needed to maintain it.
The Shevarim call is the series of three short, almost mournful calls. The word translates as ‘broken things’ and the call somewhat embodies that sense. It is a call to get us to pay attention to the broken things … and I suppose we can take it in many ways given our attention to our broken world, selves, etc. Perhaps since there is so much of that focus on the brokenness of the world during this time of year, that aspect of Shevarim does not speak to me. Instead, of broken I rather think of the weak, vulnerable things … which sometimes can be some of the most precious elements of life. What comes to my mind is the proverbial cute and adorable kid/puppy/kitten (you know, those images that advertisers know will sell anything) whose big eyes or impish nature simply melts anyone who encounters such a sight. The Shevarim/Kitty Cat call demands us to pay attention to the weak, vulnerable yet valuable parts of us and the world.
The Teruah call is the repetitive, nine staccato burps from the Shofar. The repetition, the brevity does not allow for us to savor the calls (as does Tekiah) or even wallow for a moment (as does Shevarim). Teruah is morning revile, the annoying default alarm on any clock radio, the piercing beeping of the smoke alarm … well, you get the picture. What forms in my imagination is the pesky sibling who chooses to annoy by gently, but firmly poking her or his adversary with an index finger over and over and over … well, you get the picture. The Teruah/Annoying Sibling pokes at us as if to say … enough rallying around the majestic call of Tekiah, enough indulging in the brokenness and vulnerability of Shevarim … get up, stand up and do something about it.
Which one do you like the best? Which call would you rather not hear? How do your preferences change from year to year? Which one will call to you this year? … The Coxswain, the Kitty Cat or the Annoying Sibling?