The quintessential experience of the High Holy Days is the sounding of the Shofar. Though to be specific, the actual mitzvah demands of us that we be present to hear the shofar being sounded. Hence the end of the bracha (blessing), “who causes us to hear the sound of the shofar.”
It is the very nature of the High Holidays that calls out to all Jews to enter sacred into spaces of worship. It is the sounding of the shofar that beckons us. It is the opening of the gates of teshuvah that invite us in. It is beautiful and melodic sounds of our choirs that lift up our souls. And it is the warmth of a people gathered together in prayer that encourages us to connect with one another.
The shofar is traditionally sounded each day during the month of Elul. It is then blown either 100 or 101 times during the Rosh Hashanah Morning Service, and then it is not sounded again until Yom Kippur, where it is blown one last time at the end of the Ne’ilah service.
A shofar can be made from the horn of just about any kosher animal with horns, save for one: the cow. This is attributed to the incident of the golden calf. My personal favorite happens to be the Yeminite shofar made from a Kudu (a species of antelope). I find I like its deeper richer tones over the traditional ram’s horn done in most Ashkenazic settings.
No matter, your preference, the shofar IS the sound to be heard during this season. True it is not as melodic as so many other sounds to be heard from the coo of a baby, to the cheers of fans excited for the return of Football season. But it is our sound. It is a sound that has echoed across the generations. It is a sound that should resonate within our very beings. All you have to do is listen and hear the shofar, and maybe, just maybe, your soul will be stirred as well.
(and yes I am aware of the irony of a picture Bevo - a bull - blowing the shofar)