Rosh Hashanah is the day that commemorates the creation of the world and is described as the ‘coronation’ of Hashem. Just as Hashem manifests His presence in the world in specific places like the Temple in Jerusalem, He also manifests His presence at special times, such as the Ten Days of Repentance. The ram’s horn reminds us of the Binding of Isaac when Abraham demonstrated his absolute faith in Hashem by being prepared to sacrifice his son. In the Talmud, tractate Rosh Hashanah 16A “Rabbi Abbahu said: Why does one sound a blast with a shofar made from a ram’s horn on Rosh Hashanah? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Sound a blast before Me with a shofar made from a ram’s horn, so that I will remember for you the binding of Isaac, son of Abraham, in whose stead a ram was sacrificed, and I will ascribe it to you as if you had bound yourselves before Me.” Rabbi Abbahu is claiming that the shofar is an allusion to the ram we read about in the story of the binding of Isaac, which is the Torah reading for Rosh Hashanah. The shofar reminds us of the sacrifice Abraham made as well as to pray for the rebuilding of the Temple.
Ani Ma’amin (I believe)
The artwork depicts a man bent in prayer at the Kotel in Jerusalem. The Western Wall, Kotel, or Wailing Wall, is considered holy due to its connection to the Temple Mount, which sits behind it. However, due to the Temple Mount entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray. ‘Ani Ma’amin’ is a prosaic rendition of Maimonides’ thirteen-point version of the Jewish principles of faith. The recitation consists of thirteen lines, each beginning with the phrase “Ani ma’amin be-emunah shelemah” (“I believe with perfect faith”). Many Jews recite Ani Ma’amin at the conclusion of their morning prayers. The penultimate line refers to the essential Jewish belief in the coming of the Moshiach. As such, this line has become a popular source of lyrics for Jewish songs.
It is a day of blowing the horn unto you
The title of this artwork comes from Bamidbar (Numbers) Chapter 29:1
“And in the seventh month, on the first day, there shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall not perform any mundane work. It shall be a day of shofar sounding for you”. The Torah contains many explicit references to the shofar, not just the Rosh Hashanah commandment. When the people receive the Ten Commandments from G-d on Mount Sinai, they hear a very loud blast of the shofar. We’re commanded to blow the shofar not only on Rosh Hashanah, but also at the beginning of the Jubilee year. The Torah prescribes the sounding of the shofar but does not say when or how this ritual is to be performed. It is rabbinic Judaism that supplies these details as outlined in the Mishnah.
Header image artwork It is a day of blowing the horn unto you by Dion Futerman.
Dion Futerman is a South African and Israeli artist whose art appears in private collections in Canada, USA, Israel, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Monaco, Denmark, Germany and France. He is currently working on documenting—through paintings and drawings—all the synagogues of South Africa (past and present) and the history thereof, to be published in book form. He is an associate member of the Jewish Art Salon in New York (one of only two members in Africa).
You can see more of Futerman’s on his website.