Broken Notes

“Tekiah: We are whole.
Shevarim: We are broken.
T’ruah: We are completely shattered.
Tekiah g’dolah: We are more whole than before.

The sequence of shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah takes us from wholeness (the unwavering sound of the tekiah ) to the beginnings of vulnerability (the three sounds of shevarim ) to the utter despair of t’ruah (with its nine staccato notes) to a wholeness more complete than before (the long call of tekiah g’dolah ). And then the process begins again. In fact, over the course of the full Rosh Hashanah prayer service, we hear 100 shofar blasts that carry us over and over through these stages of wholeness and brokenness.

The shofar reveals a secret: Wholeness and brokenness cannot be separated from one another. As we do a cheshbon nefesh — a personal accounting — and delve deeper into ourselves, we may find cracks that we never before noticed. Only a sincere encounter with this brokenness will allow us to put ourselves back together again, more whole than before.”

Continue reading JTS alum Rabbi Jill Jacob’s “Broken Notes” in Sh’ma Now, hosted by Forward.