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This time of year is one of renewal: fresh starts, new beginnings, and opportunities to reflect on who we are as individuals and as a people.

But as we approach the High Holidays, many of us struggle to connect to an exciting story the way we do at Passover or Purim. So this year, Sefaria's Education Team has compiled a series of three stories for the High Holidays to help get you thinking about the new year, in a new light.

And so, why not kick things off as all things should in the month of Elul--with a shofar blast!
 
 
A Reminder: The Story of the Shofar
 
Abraham faced a test of faith that no one--and no parent--would ever wish to endure: he was commanded to sacrifice the life of his son Isaac.

The young man went willingly with his father, trusting Abraham as Abraham trusted God.

But just before Abraham took his beloved son's life, God spared Isaac. God mercifully provided a ram caught in the thicket--ready for sacrifice--to take Isaac's place. According to midrash, God said to Abraham:
In the future Isaac's descendants will sin against Me, and I will judge them on Rosh Hashanah. If they want Me to discover something to their credit, and to recall for their advantage the binding of Isaac, let them blow upon this shofar.
"עֲתִידִין בָּנָיו שֶׁל יִצְחָק לַחֲטוֹא לְפָנַי וַאֲנִי דָן אוֹתָם בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה. אֶלָּא אִם מְבַקְשִׁין שֶׁאֲחַפֵּשׂ לָהֶן זְכוּת וְאֶזְכֹּר לָהֶן עֲקֵדַת יִצְחָק, יִהְיוּ תוֹקְעִין לְפָנַי בְּשׁוֹפָר שֶׁל זֶה."
 
 
 
The shofar reminds us that just as Isaac was saved by a ram, the Jewish people are continually saved by the ram's horn--the shofar. Maimonides tells us that the sound that emerges from the ram's horn is transformed into a wake-up call, encouraging repentance. And in the course of the holiday prayers, it becomes a stand-in for the voice of the community, calling out in prayer, a reminder that we merit forgiveness.

We look forward to sharing a new story with you next week. In the meantime, you can find more Rosh Hashanah resources by searching for the holiday on our topics page and in our ever-growing collection of user-generated source sheets.

Onward to the New Year,

Team Sefaria
 
                   
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