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Friday, August 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Shofetim

R' Sadia Gaon lists 10 symbolic approaches to why we blow the shofar on Rosh HaShanah. However, he makes only a remote, if any, reference to the connection between the shofar and war. This connection is seen perhaps most prominently in the battle of Yericho. Additionally, when B'nei Yisroel are engaged in a war, we are instructed (Bemidbar 10:9) to blow the trumpets. The shofar serves as a battle cry of sorts.

This week, we began blowing the shofar following davening as part of our yearly Elul ritual in preparation for Rosh HaShanah, only a month away. These shofar blasts are generally regarded as a wakeup call. Perhaps we can also view these shofar blasts as a call to arms - a reminder to begin to wage war against our yeitzer hara as we turn our focus towards teshuvah in preparation for the Yom HaDin.

It is therefore fitting that Rosh Chodesh Elul coincides with parshas Shofetim. Of the many mitzvos discussed in this week's parsha, a good handful of them pertain to how we are supposed to conduct ourselves when doing battle. Most notably, we are warned when waging war not to exhibit any fear of the enemy for HaShem is with us orchestrating the outcome. We are then taught of the process of extending an offer for peace before waging war on a city. However, at closer inspection, the conditions of the peace are total and complete subservience from the inhabitants of the city. Indeed, the battle cry of the shofar coupled with the strict military instructions found in the parsha work together to focus our attention to the task at hand for the month of Elul. May it be a strong and productive month for us all and may we all merit a kesivah vachasimah tovah.

Have a good Shabbos.

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