Rosh HaShana Mussaf Companion
Commentary on verses of Kingship, Remembrance, & Shofar
The Holy One, Blessed be He said: “Recite before me Malkhuyot, Zikhronot and Shofarot on Rosh HaShana. Malkhuyot — so that you may coronate Me over you as King; Zikhronot — so that your remembrance may come before Me positively; And with what? With a shofar.” (Rosh HaShana 16a)
Mussaf is the central prayer of Rosh HaShana. As part of its recital we recite 10 Scriptural verses each of Kingship, Remembrance, & Shofar* from the Torah, Prophets, and Writings.
Selected commentaries on the verses:
יי יִמְלֹ֖ךְ לְעֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד
HASHEM will be king/reign forever and ever (Exodus 15:18)
Context: Part of the Song of the Sea sung after the Splitting of the Sea, a part of the davening we are to recite with great joy.
- Ibn Ezra: ‘G-D will be king’ — when the Temple will be rebuilt in His Name, then His kingship will be seen in the land. ‘Forever more’ — truncated language, essentially means ‘forever, and forever.’ L’olam v’ad haOlam.
- Ramban: You see now that G-D is King and Ruler of all, Who saves His servants and destroys His rebels — so too may it come to pass in His will that He does likewise in all generations.
- Sforno: May it come to pass that He alone will rule forever, with no foreign gods.
- Or HaChaim: ‘Will be king’ instead of ‘is king,’ because He only judged one nation — Egypt- without negating the false gods of the other nations. In the future, however, He will judge all the nations, and then He will be recognized as King over all the land.
לֹֽא־הִבִּ֥יט אָ֙וֶן֙ בְּיַעֲקֹ֔ב וְלֹא־רָאָ֥ה עָמָ֖ל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יי אֱלֹהָיו֙ עִמּ֔וֹ וּתְרוּעַ֥ת מֶ֖לֶךְ בּֽוֹ
He saw no wrongdoing in Jacob, no deceit did He witness in Israel, for HASHEM their G-D is with them, and their King’s acclaim among them (Numbers 23:21)
Context: This was stated by Bilaam, the Gentile prophet who intended to curse Israel but instead blessed them.
- Rashi: “He did not see wrongdoing” — G-D overlooks their deficiencies. “HASHEM their G-D is with them” — even when they anger and rebel before Him, he doesn’t move from their midst.
- Ibn Ezra: As long as no sin is found among themHe is with them — this was Bilaam’s inspiration for sabotaging Israel with the sin of the Moabite women. ‘King’s acclaim’ — the sound of the shofar blast.
- Sforno: ‘King’s acclaim among them’ — in the Wilderness when the camps and the Tabernacle traveled they would blow the shofar out of joy.
- Or HaChaim: “He did not see wrongdoing” — when a person sins it leaves a mark, an impression, though an impermanent one that requires cleaning — even a blemish that requires anguish to remove was not found among them. Among the multitude He did not see this sinful impression, and among the very righteous He did even see an improper thought.
וַיְהִ֥י בִישֻׁר֖וּן מֶ֑לֶךְ בְּהִתְאַסֵּף֙ רָ֣אשֵׁי עָ֔ם יַ֖חַד שִׁבְטֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
[G-D] became King in Yeshurun, when the heads of the people gathered, all the tribes of Israel together (Deuteronomy 33:5)
Context: The preamble to the blessing which Moses gave to Israel and each of the tribes before his death.
- Rashi: ‘Gathered’ — they gathered themselves together, as one unit with peace between them, then He is King, as opposed to when there is infighting. (Sifri)
- Ibn Ezra: ‘King’ here actually refers to Moshe, who taught the Torah to those gathered around him — the heads of the people.
- Ramban: When the elders gather together below, His Name is praised above. Moses as king here, according to some — this is so that the people believe in him. Honor of the messenger gives honor to the Sender, and this then makes them fitting for blessings.
- Or HaChaim — Torah as the rightful king, if not for the elders gathering to request a human king (see Samuel I 8:4 and 12:12).
כִּ֣י לַ֭יי הַמְּלוּכָ֑ה וּ֝מֹשֵׁ֗ל בַּגּוֹיִֽם׃
For kingship is HASHEM’s and He rules over the nations (Psalms 22:29)
Context: This psalm is a prayer to end the exile and rebuild the Holy Temple.
- Rashi: When they see the sovereignty returning to G-D they’ll return to Him.
- Gra: A king is accepted by the people whereas a ruler is forced upon them. Israel accepts G-D gladly whereas the nations who don’t want to submit will be ruled over — until the future (Zech. 14:9) when all nations will willingly accept Him.
- Ibn Ezra: “For” — then they will admit that the kingship is in His Name alone.
- Radak: ‘They’ — all the nations will realize He is King…and then He will rule over them.
יי מָלָךְ֮ גֵּא֢וּת לָ֫בֵ֥שׁ לָבֵ֣שׁ יי עֹ֣ז הִתְאַזָּ֑ר אַף־תִּכּ֥וֹן תֵּ֝בֵ֗ל בַּל־תִּמּֽוֹט
HASHEM reigns, He is robed in majesty/pride/grandeur. HASHEM is robed, girded with strength. The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved (Psalms 93:1)
Context: This psalm is dedicated to the Messianic Era when all will recognize G-D’s majesty.
- Baal HaTanya: Originally there was no physical matter, just the spiritual essence of the Divine. G-D chose to cloak the spirit in a material robe. At each progressive stage of Creation, G-D donned an additional ‘robe’ of matter which concealed His inner spirit. New creations fashioned and subject to His rule — each one a new robe — added another outward manifestation of G-D’s majesty.
- Sefer HaIkkarim: Pride is loathsome when displayed by humans but not so by G-D, Who is the source of all human accomplishments.
- Midrash Shocher Tov: All forces owe their existence to Him while He is dependent on nothing.
- Ramban: An arrogant man is rebelling against G-D’s sovereignty, stealing the royal vestments of pride which belong to Him alone.
- Sforno: Even when G-D girds Himself with strength and violently casts out the wicked, He won’t let the earth falter into utter chaos and destruction.
שְׂא֤וּ שְׁעָרִ֨ים ׀ רָֽאשֵׁיכֶ֗ם וְֽ֭הִנָּשְׂאוּ פִּתְחֵ֣י עוֹלָ֑ם וְ֝יָב֗וֹא מֶ֣לֶךְ הַכָּבֽוֹד׃ מִ֥י זֶה֮ מֶ֤לֶךְ הַכָּ֫ב֥וֹד יְ֭י עִזּ֣וּז וְגִבּ֑וֹר יְ֝י גִּבּ֥וֹר מִלְחָמָֽה׃ שְׂא֤וּ שְׁעָרִ֨ים ׀ רָֽאשֵׁיכֶ֗ם וּ֭שְׂאוּ פִּתְחֵ֣י עוֹלָ֑ם וְ֝יָבֹ֗א מֶ֣לֶךְ הַכָּבֽוֹד׃ מִ֤י ה֣וּא זֶה֮ מֶ֤לֶךְ הַכָּ֫ב֥וֹד יְי צְבָא֑וֹת ה֤וּא מֶ֖לֶךְ הַכָּב֣וֹד סֶֽלָה׃ֿ
O gates, lift up your heads! Up high, you everlasting doors, so the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? HASHEM, mighty and valiant, HASHEM, valiant in battle. O gates, lift up your heads! Lift them up, you everlasting doors, so the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? the LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory! Selah. (Psalms 24: 7–10)
Context: Composed by King David when he bought the plot of the land for the future Holy Temple and he built a temporary alter to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving.
- Shabbos 30a: In discussing the inspiration for the verse — ‘Display for me a sign for good so that those who hate me may see it and be shamed’ (Psalms 86:17) — the Sages explain: David asked G-D to forgive him for the sin of Batsheva. G-D said it is forgiven. David asked for a sign. G-D said the sign will only be in his son Solomon’s lifetime. When Solomon built the Temple and sought to bring the Ark into the Holy of Holies, the gates clung together and could not be opened. Solomon uttered 24 songs of praise and his prayer was not answered. He recited this first verse here (24:7). Immediately, the gates ran after him to swallow him, as they thought that in the words: “King of glory” he was referring to himself, and they said to him: “Who is the King of glory?” (Psalms 24:8). He said to them: “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (Psalms 24:8) and continued with reciting verses 9–10, but he was still not answered. When he said: “O Lord God, turn not away the face of Your anointed; remember the good deeds of David Your servant” (II Chronicles 6:42), he was immediately answered, and a fire descended from Heaven (II Chronicles 7:1). At that moment, the faces of all of David’s enemies turned dark like the charred bottom of a pot. And all of Israel knew that G-D forgave David for that sin.
- Radak: Until the Temple’s construction the Ark had no permanent abode, but now it would find eternal repose in the Holy of Holies, passing through these gates.
- Rashi: The gates’ sanctity lasts forever.
- R’ Avrohom Chaim Feuer: The gates exemplify the main purpose of the Temple. This material world is considered temporary, whereas our spiritual existence is everlasting. The function of the Temple is to serve as a channel through which eternal spiritual forces can filter down to this world from above, serving as a source of sacred inspiration to all humankind. Therefore, these gates are fittingly named the ‘entrance ways for the everlasting.’
- Shemot Rabbah: ‘King of glory’ — so named because He gives glory to those who fear Him, shared His glory with others. A mortal king lets no one sit on his throne nor ride his horse, yet HASHEM let Solomon sit on His throne and mounted Elijah on the stormy wind which is His steed. He allowed Moses to use His sceptre in the form of the staff. He cloaked Israel in His royal mantle which is His might. No mortal king would let anyone use his title, yet G-D addressed Moses by His own title, saying He had made Moses a judge / Elokim over Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1).
כֹּה־אָמַ֨ר יי מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל וְגֹאֲל֖וֹ יי צְבָא֑וֹת אֲנִ֤י רִאשׁוֹן֙ וַאֲנִ֣י אַחֲר֔וֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַ֖י אֵ֥ין אֱלֹהִֽים
This is what HASHEM, King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Lord of hosts has said: “I am the first and I shall be the last, and there is no other god but Me.” (Isaiah 44:6)
Context: G-D reassures Israel and scolds the idolators.
- Ibn Ezra: “King of Israel” — when they are in the lands and He redeems them from exile. “Lord of hosts” — He is always and forever King, and the witnesses are the hosts/constellations of the heavens.
- Abarbanel: The same Redeemer Who brought them out of Egypt at first is the One Who will redeem them from exile at the end. Therefore, they shouldn’t despair or lose hope.
- Malbim: This retorts against 2 sects’ claims: 1. That G-D is limited, not beyond time — “I am first and last” 2. That G-D is the only god — “No other god but Me.”
- Metzudat David: “I am first” — before the creation of the world. “I am last” — after the end of the world.
- Radak: “King of Israel & its Redeemer” — when He redeems them He alone will be King and not the earthly kings. “Lord of hosts” — below and above, and in His hand is the ability to bring them out of exile. “I am first” — even prior to the heavenly spheres that don’t change, He created them. “I am last” — these spheres will eventually end and He will endure. “No other god” — to counteract the faith of those worship the sun and moon and stars, that none of them are gods, rather they serve at His leisure
וְעָל֤וּ מֽוֹשִׁעִים֙ בְּהַ֣ר צִיּ֔וֹן לִשְׁפֹּ֖ט אֶת־הַ֣ר עֵשָׂ֑ו וְהָיְתָ֥ה לַֽיי הַמְּלוּכָֽה
Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to judge Mount Esau, and HASHEM’s shall be the kingdom (Ovadia 1:21)
Context: The last verse of the one-chapter book of Ovadia, which deals with the demise of Edom and the victory and homecoming of Israel.
- Abarbanel: “Saviors” — Israel alone couldn’t do it — rather the other nations will join them in the Holy Land to fight against Esau’s descendants and enact G-D’s vengeance.
- Malbim: This starts the War of Gog and Magog, and the 2 Messiahs — ben David and ben Yosef — will be revealed, along with the 7 shepherds who will save Israel, they will go up to judge Esau, and then G-D’s kingdom shall be His and all will accept the yoke of heaven — may it be speedily in our days.
- Radak: “Saviors” — the king Messiah, and his friends the 7 shepherds, and the 8 princes of man. “Judge Esau” — for all the evils Esau & his decscendants did to them.
וְהָיָ֧ה יְי לְמֶ֖לֶךְ עַל־כׇּל־הָאָ֑רֶץ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא יִהְיֶ֧ה יְי אֶחָ֖ד וּשְׁמ֥וֹ אֶחָֽד׃
And HASHEM shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one LORD with one name. (Zecharia 14:9)
Context: Looking forward to the great redemption.
- Rashi: All the nations will abandon their vanities and admit that G-D is One, no other god beside Him. His Name will be recognized by all.
- Malbim: “He will be king over all the land” — all will recognize His kingship, but still won’t believe in His unity and say there are multiple Prime Causes -> “One Lord” — then they will admit His uniqueness but still claim He has partners in running the world -> “One Name” — then they will believe in His true unity, divine providence, and kingship. And His Name will be recited as written, since the nicknames are according to His various manifestations of judgment, righteousness, mercy, etc — but in the future it will all be recognized as one and the same.
שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְי אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְי אֶחָֽד
Hear, Oh Israel. HASHEM is our G-D, HASHEM is One. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Context: The paradigmatic declaration of faith, this verse doesn’t contain an explicit reference to kingship. It is implied in recognizing Him as the One and Only.
- Rashi: HASHEM is now our G-D alone and not the god of the nations, but in the future He will be the One True G-D, when all the nations will call G-D by His true Name.
- Ramban: G-D’s status as the One True G-D was already stated in the 10 commandments. This was now stated a second time to counteract the heretics who claimed the duality of gods. This is the root of faith and whoever doesn’t acknowledge it denies the essential principle of our faith. ‘Our G-D’ instead of the usual ‘your G-D,’ since HASHEM had done great and awesome things with Moses, so Moses said ‘our G-D’ so as not to appear to exclude himself from this declaration of unity out of hubris after having performed miracles on G-D’s behalf.
וַיִּזְכֹּ֤ר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־נֹ֔חַ וְאֵ֤ת כׇּל־הַֽחַיָּה֙ וְאֶת־כׇּל־הַבְּהֵמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אִתּ֖וֹ בַּתֵּבָ֑ה וַיַּעֲבֵ֨ר אֱלֹהִ֥ים ר֙וּחַ֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וַיָּשֹׁ֖כּוּ הַמָּֽיִם
G-D remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark, and G-D caused a wind to blow across the earth, and the waters subsided. (Genesis 8:1)
Context: The waters of the flood had been raging.
- Rashi: “G-D” — G-D’s name connoting His attribute justice is used here, which is changed to mercy by means of righteous’ prayers. “Cattle” — animals’ merit was that they didn’t perverse their ways and cohabitate with other species — and then on the ark they didn’t cohabitate either in solidarity with the world’s suffering.
- Ibn Ezra: Noah’s children and their wives are included — just Noah is mentioned as he is the focus here.
- Chizkuni: G-D remembered Noah in that He provided for him all 12 months that he was in the ark.
- Or HaChaim: G-D remembered the effort Noah put in taking care of the animals in the ark.
- Radak: G-D doesn’t ‘remember’ since that implies ‘forgetting,’ which doesn’t apply to Him. The Torah is speaking in the language of humankind. G-D saw that they suffered enough and it was time for the floodwaters to stop raging.
וַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־נַאֲקָתָ֑ם וַיִּזְכֹּ֤ר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־בְּרִית֔וֹ אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֖ם אֶת־יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶֽת־יַעֲקֹֽב׃
G-D heard their moaning, and G-D remembered the covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. (Exodus 2:24)
Context: The beginning of the end of being enslaved in Egypt.
- Avi Ezer: G-D hearing their cries caused Him to take pity on them and redeem/remember them prior to the appointed time.
- Chizkuni: G-D remembered the covenant He made with Abraham at the Covenant of the Parts, that his descendants would be enslaved for 400 years, which is counted from Yitzchak’s birth.
וְזָכַרְתִּ֖י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֣י יַעֲק֑וֹב וְאַף֩ אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֨י יִצְחָ֜ק וְאַ֨ף אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֧י אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֶזְכֹּ֖ר וְהָאָ֥רֶץ אֶזְכֹּֽר׃
Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob; I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham; and I will remember the land. (Leviticus 26:42)
Context: The consolation at the end of the rebuke for disobeying Him.
- Rashi: Why in reverse chronological order? Starting with the smallest of them and working up to the greatest.
- Chizkuni: “Also” not mentioned by Jacob since his family was all brought into the covenant. All his years were spent as part of the covenant so he was mentioned first.
- Rashbam: G-D remembers if they humble their hearts.
זֵ֣כֶר עָ֭שָׂה לְנִפְלְאוֹתָ֑יו חַנּ֖וּן וְרַח֣וּם יי
He had made remembrance for His wonders, gracious and compassionate is HASHEM (Psalms 111:4)
Context: This psalm exhorts the common Jew to devote time to Torah study, which we should undertake out of gratitude to G-D and a desire to come closer to Him.
- Rashi: The Jewish calendar is filled with dates which commemorate G-D’s works — the Sabbath is a testimony to His creation, and the festivals celebrate the miracles He performed for the Jewish nation — particularly those He performed in Egypt (Radak). Moreover, each commandment stands for an aspect of G-D’s work in the world.
- Chomat Anach: The wonders were performed with a great light, and every year on the specified day those lights shine. G-D is gracious when the miracles are performed, and compassionate toward Israel each year on that day.
- Malbim: These supernatural wonders are not done regularly, rather only in the rarest of occasions to make known His power to humankind. These wonders cause us to remember in each generation that G-D can change nature, and because we remember there is no need for more miracles.
טֶ֭רֶף נָתַ֣ן לִירֵאָ֑יו יִזְכֹּ֖ר לְעוֹלָ֣ם בְּרִיתֽוֹ
He gives food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever (Psalms 111:5)
Context: Same as above.
- Radak: G-D gave the Egyptians’ wealth to the Jews when they left, as G-D promised to Abraham in the Covenant Between the Parts and is now remembering to uphold.
- Zohar (Parashat Emor): G-D forged another eternal covenant with the dedicated Torah scholars who study His word day and night. Diligent and devoted Torah study signify the student sincerely fears Him, and is therefore promised that G-D will provide food for him. The entire world is supplied with food in the merit of G-D fearing Torah scholars (Megillah Amukot, Taanit 10a).
וַיִּזְכֹּ֣ר לָהֶ֣ם בְּרִית֑וֹ וַ֝יִּנָּחֵ֗ם כְּרֹ֣ב חֲסָדָֽו׃
He remembered His covenant for their sake, and relented in His great love (Psalms 106:45)
Context: This psalm recounts how G-D miraculously sustained the Jews during their 40-year wandering through the Wilderness, yet they were negligent in their duties toward Him & failed to appreciate His wonders.
- Midrash Shocher Tov: Five factors which precipitate Israel’s redemption are listed in verses 44, 45 and 47. First, Israel is saved on account of its distress. Second, they are delivered on account of their prayer. Third, the covenant with the Forefathers. Fourth, G-D’s great love and kindness. Fifth, the appointed time of the ingathering.
- Rashi: This remembering was caused by repentance.
הָלֹ֡ךְ וְֽקָרָ֩אתָ֩ בְאׇזְנֵ֨י יְרוּשָׁלַ֜͏ִם לֵאמֹ֗ר כֹּ֚ה אָמַ֣ר יְי זָכַ֤רְתִּי לָךְ֙ חֶ֣סֶד נְעוּרַ֔יִךְ אַהֲבַ֖ת כְּלוּלֹתָ֑יִךְ לֶכְתֵּ֤ךְ אַֽחֲרַי֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר בְּאֶ֖רֶץ לֹ֥א זְרוּעָֽה׃
Go proclaim to Jerusalem: Thus said the LORD: I remembered / accounted to your favor the devotion/kindness of your youth, your love as a bride — how you followed Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. (Jeremiah 2:2)
Context: G-D warns the people, compares the current sinful generation to the nation’s first generations.
- Rashi: [G-D is saying] If you return to Me My desire is to have mercy on you, for I will remember.
- Chomat Anach: A man cannot force his wife to join him in a dangerous, barren land — therefore Israel deserves praise. Moreover, it was considered a kindness on our part.
- Metzudat David: [G-D is saying] I remember for you the kindness that I did for you in your youth when I chose you to be My nation because you found favor in My eyes.
וְזָכַרְתִּ֨י אֲנִ֧י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֛י אוֹתָ֖ךְ בִּימֵ֣י נְעוּרָ֑יִךְ וַהֲקִימוֹתִ֥י לָ֖ךְ בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם׃
I will remember the covenant I had with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant (Ezekiel 16:60)
Context: This long chapter depicts Israel as an ungrateful daughter in contrast to G-D’s enduring love for her as a protective giving Father.
- Malbim: This is referring to the covenant at the time of the Exodus — the Giving of the Torah — which served to fulfil the covenant He made with the Forefathers. G-D’s works are forever, and any good works which G-D declares He will do — even those dependent on conditions — cannot be undone, and therefore G-D upholds it as an everlasting covenant. He strikes a new covenant with them, not like the one He made with the Forefathers, but done by way of the Torah which will be carved on their hearts, that the Evil Urge will eventually no longer rule over them and they will have no doubt in G-D’s providence, and will become attached to Him always, to the point that sinning will no longer be a reality.
- Radak: Israel nullified the covenant of the Torah in their rebellious ways, but G-D remembers and won’t nullify it.
הֲבֵן֩ יַקִּ֨יר לִ֜י אֶפְרַ֗יִם אִ֚ם יֶ֣לֶד שַׁעֲשֻׁעִ֔ים כִּֽי־מִדֵּ֤י דַבְּרִי֙ בּ֔וֹ זָכֹ֥ר אֶזְכְּרֶ֖נּוּ ע֑וֹד עַל־כֵּ֗ן הָמ֤וּ מֵעַי֙ ל֔וֹ רַחֵ֥ם אֲֽרַחֲמֶ֖נּוּ נְאֻם־יְי׃
Is Ephraim not a treasured son to Me, My child of delights? As I speak of him, always, I remember him again. And so it is that I long for him within, I will tender him compassion, says the LORD (Jeremiah 31:10)
Context: Mourning our loss and looking forward to the rebuilding of Israel — the nation and land.
- Chomat Anach: One who loves mentions his beloved’s name constantly, whereas one who hates doesn’t.
- Metzudat David: Like a father who mentions his child’s name can then not stop talking about him for a long time because he takes enjoyment in mentioning his name.
וְזָכַרְתִּ֥י לָהֶ֖ם בְּרִ֣ית רִאשֹׁנִ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר הוֹצֵֽאתִי־אֹתָם֩ מֵאֶ֨רֶץ מִצְרַ֜יִם לְעֵינֵ֣י הַגּוֹיִ֗ם לִהְי֥וֹת לָהֶ֛ם לֵאלֹהִ֖ים אֲנִ֥י יְי
I will remember in their favor the covenant with the ancients, whom I freed from the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their G-D: I, HASHEM (Leviticus 26:45)
Context: The consolation at the end of the rebuke for disobeying Him.
- Aderet Eliyahu: This refers to the covenant of the tribes, which was forced with those who left Egypt — and sealed at the Giving of the Torah.
- Ibn Ezra: Always and forever He will remember.
- Sforno: At the time of the ingathering of the exiles.
- Ramban: Always, whether in the Holy Land or outside, in all generations, for His Name’s sake that it shouldn’t be defaced among the nations.
וַיְהִי֩ בַיּ֨וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֜י בִּֽהְיֹ֣ת הַבֹּ֗קֶר וַיְהִי֩ קֹלֹ֨ת וּבְרָקִ֜ים וְעָנָ֤ן כָּבֵד֙ עַל־הָהָ֔ר וְקֹ֥ל שֹׁפָ֖ר חָזָ֣ק מְאֹ֑ד וַיֶּחֱרַ֥ד כל־הָעָ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר בַּֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃
On the third day, as morning dawned, there was thunder and lightning, and a dense cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud blast of the horn; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. (Exodus 19:16)
Context: The Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
- HaKtav v’HaKabbalah: ‘Shofar’ — this is not an actual horn which one uses to blow, as it cant be that He and His entourage on high uses physical tangible objects, so the shofar here must be referring to the sound. There are such words that refer to both the object and the result of using the object, the action.
- HaEmek Davar: These sounds preceded HASHEM descending to the mountain, and served to cause awe and trembling in the people’s hearts, to cleanse/scour their bodily nature in preparation for His approaching Presence.
- Ibn Ezra: ‘Very loud’ — the sound of the shofar was loudest of all. “Trembled” — due to the sound of the shofar.
- Kli Yakar: Whereas thunder and lightning appears momentarily then subsides, the sound of the shofar grows and becomes stronger (see next verse 19:19 below). This can be likened to two groups: learned Torah scholars who grow in their wisdom and ignorant people who dont.
וַיְהִי֙ ק֣וֹל הַשֹּׁפָ֔ר הוֹלֵ֖ךְ וְחָזֵ֣ק מְאֹ֑ד מֹשֶׁ֣ה יְדַבֵּ֔ר וְהָאֱלֹהִ֖ים יַעֲנֶ֥נּוּ בְקֽוֹל׃’
The blare of the horn grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, G-D answered him in thunder. (Exodus 19:19)
Context: The Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
- Bechor Shor: This is unlike other horns where the sound gradually weakens, since the breath of the human fades — rather this sound retained its same strength at the end as at the beginning. [Q: but the text says it got louder, not stayed the same]
- Chizkuni, Rashbam: Moses’ voice wasn’t heard by anyone other than G-D, but G-D spoke in a loud voice so that His voice could be heard by Moses above the sound of the shofar.
- HaEmek Davar: This is not the same shofar sound as previous with the thunder and lightning, rather after those quieted there was another shofar blast with the cloud of smoke to signify to the nation that Moses was speaking. Why was this needed? To distinguish between what Moses said which, while it’s the Oral Torah, is not the same thing as the Written Torah which is the precise language of G-D Himself.
- Ibn Ezra: Generally the sound is strongest at the beginning of the blast. Maybe G-D did it this way so that the strength of the sound at the outset wouldn’t terrify them.
- Rabbeinu Bachya: It was a great miracle that everyone heard Moses’ voice over a great distance and the loud sound of the shofar — G-D gave Moses’ voice strength.
וְכׇל־הָעָם֩ רֹאִ֨ים אֶת־הַקּוֹלֹ֜ת וְאֶת־הַלַּפִּידִ֗ם וְאֵת֙ ק֣וֹל הַשֹּׁפָ֔ר וְאֶת־הָהָ֖ר עָשֵׁ֑ן וַיַּ֤רְא הָעָם֙ וַיָּנֻ֔עוּ וַיַּֽעַמְד֖וּ מֵֽרָחֹֽק׃
All the people witnessed [literally: saw] the thunder and lightning, the blare of the horn and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they fell back and stood at a distance.(Exodus 20:15)
Context: The Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai — following the 10 Commandments.
- Rashi: They [literally] saw the sounds.
- Gur Aryeh: All the people saw, indicating that there was not a blind or deaf person among them, thanks to the healing powers of the Torah.
- HaEmek Davar: Plural conjugated saw then singular saw. At first they merited to see a great and lofty holy thing which even an angel doesn’t see. But then they saw it was in reality beyond their strength. This is like a person who is capable of carrying a great weight, beyond his ability, for a short time.
- Sforno: Not literal, but rather they saw as in they understood that they couldn’t withstand it.
עָלָ֣ה אֱ֭לֹהִים בִּתְרוּעָ֑ה יְ֝י בְּק֣וֹל שׁוֹפָֽר׃
G-D [Elokim] ascends midst acclamation; HASHEM, to the blasts of the horn.(Psalms 47:6)
Context: On Rosh HaShana, this psalm is recited 7 times prior to the sounding of the shofar. G-D’s name Elokim appears 7 times, so after 7 recitals His name is recited 49 times, paralleling the 49 levels of spirituality which man can attain.
- Malbim: Divine providence is sometimes done by way of nature — Elokim — and other times in supernatural ways — Tetragrammaton.
- Sforno: When Elokim, the Dispenser of Strict Justice, rises up and executes His judgment against God and Magog, the horn of victory will sound a triumphant blast.
- Radak, Ibn Ezra: The Holy Ark, which was concealed in the depths of Mount Moriah in the waning years of the First Temple era, will ascend when the great horn of redemption is blown.
- Alshich: Following the teruah blasts, which symbolize our brokenness G-D’s accompanying harsh punishments, His justice is tempered with His name of mercy.
בַּ֭חֲצֹ֣צְרוֹת וְק֣וֹל שׁוֹפָ֑ר הָ֝רִ֗יעוּ לִפְנֵ֤י הַמֶּ֬לֶךְ יְי
With trumpets and the blast of the horn raise a shout before the King, HASHEM. (Psalms 98:6)
Context: In the Messianic Era the Jews will enjoy a special peace of mind & will sing this song.
- Shaarei Chaim: The trumpets are associated with joyous victory, whereas the shofar connotes fear. Man should harness all of his emotions, both fear and joy, in the service of G-D, for He is both the King Who inspired dread, and HASHEM Who is the Dispenser of Kindness and Creator of Joy.
תִּקְע֣וּ בַחֹ֣דֶשׁ שׁוֹפָ֑ר בַּ֝כֵּ֗סֶה לְי֣וֹם חַגֵּֽנוּ׃
Blow the horn on the new moon, on our feast day at the appointed time / when the moon is hidden. (Psalms 81:4)
Context: We celebrate our divine salvation from Egypt.
- Metzudat David: On the appointed time is the holiday, which is Rosh HaShana.
- Radak: Our slavery in Egypt ended on Rosh HaShana, so the blast of the shofar is a sign of freeing slaves.
- Rosh HaShana 32b: on RH we don’t recite verses which speak of punishment or calamity, unless it refers to that of the hateful Gentiles.
- Rosh HaShana 8a: RH is the one holiday which occurs on the first day of the month, when the moon is hidden.
הַ֥לְלוּ־יָ֨הּ ׀ הַֽלְלוּ־אֵ֥ל בְּקׇדְשׁ֑וֹ הַֽ֝לְל֗וּהוּ בִּרְקִ֥יעַ עֻזּֽוֹ׃ הַלְל֥וּהוּ בִגְבוּרֹתָ֑יו הַ֝לְל֗וּהוּ כְּרֹ֣ב גֻּדְלֽוֹ׃ הַ֭לְלוּהוּ בְּתֵ֣קַע שׁוֹפָ֑ר הַ֝לְל֗וּהוּ בְּנֵ֣בֶל וְכִנּֽוֹר׃ הַ֭לְלוּהוּ בְּתֹ֣ף וּמָח֑וֹל הַֽ֝לְל֗וּהוּ בְּמִנִּ֥ים וְעֻגָֽב׃ הַלְל֥וּהוּ בְצִלְצְלֵי־שָׁ֑מַע הַֽ֝לְל֗וּהוּ בְּֽצִלְצְלֵ֥י תְרוּעָֽה׃ כֹּ֣ל הַ֭נְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּ֥ל יָ֗הּ הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ׃
Hallelujah. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the sky, His stronghold. Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him for His exceeding greatness. Praise Him with blasts of the horn; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dance; praise Him with lute and pipe. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with loud-clashing cymbals. Let all that breathes praise the LORD. Hallelujah. (Psalms 150:3)
Context: The broad spectrum of human emotions brought on by a range of scenarios is reflected in the wide variety of musical instruments mentioned in this psalm, the entirety of which is recited and not just this verse.
- Malbim: The blast of the shofar is used to inspire fear from awe in HASHEM and his loftiness. “Is it possible that the shofar could be blown in the city and the nation not tremble?” (Amos 3:6)
כׇּל־יֹשְׁבֵ֥י תֵבֵ֖ל וְשֹׁ֣כְנֵי אָ֑רֶץ כִּנְשֹׂא־נֵ֤ס הָרִים֙ תִּרְא֔וּ וְכִתְקֹ֥עַ שׁוֹפָ֖ר תִּשְׁמָֽעוּ׃
“All you who live in the world and inhabit the earth, when a flag is raised in the hills, take note! When a ram’s horn is blown, give heed!” (Isaiah 18:3)
Context: G-D’s message of eventual redemption
- Rashi, Chomat Anach, Metzudat David: Messengers — mentioned in the previous verse — won’t actually need to be sent because G-D’s salvation will be made known by the raising of the banner and blasting of the shofar.
- Radak: This is not to be taken literally but by way of allegory, that these actions are done when trying to gather people — so too the Jews will gather from all corners of the earth at the time of the salvation, and the Gentiles will bring them and gather them as if they raised for them a banner and blasted the shofar.
וְהָיָ֣ה ׀ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא יִתָּקַע֮ בְּשׁוֹפָ֣ר גָּדוֹל֒ וּבָ֗אוּ הָאֹֽבְדִים֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ אַשּׁ֔וּר וְהַנִּדָּחִ֖ים בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וְהִשְׁתַּחֲו֧וּ לַֽיי בְּהַ֥ר הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ בִּירוּשָׁלָֽ͏ִם׃
And in that day, a great ram’s horn shall be sounded; and the strayed / lost who are in the land of Assyria and the expelled who are in the land of Egypt shall come and worship the LORD on the holy mount, in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:13)
Context: G-D will punish the sinners and the Jews will flourishץ
- Malbim, Metzudat David: This is the general ingathering. Those in Assyria called ‘lost’ because they forgot their place and reality until the end days, and hadn’t returned to their land since they had been exiled.
וַֽיי עֲלֵיהֶ֣ם יֵֽרָאֶ֔ה וְיָצָ֥א כַבָּרָ֖ק חִצּ֑וֹ וַֽאדֹנָ֤י יֱי בַּשּׁוֹפָ֣ר יִתְקָ֔ע וְהָלַ֖ךְ בְּסַעֲר֥וֹת תֵּימָֽן׃
And HASHEM will manifest Himself to them, and His arrows shall flash like lightning; My Lord HASHEM shall sound the ram’s horn and advance in a stormy tempest.(Zechariah 9:14)
Context: The approach of the King is a call for the exiles to return to the blessed land without fear from enemies because G-D will fight for them.
- Abarbanel: This is G-D’s war, as mentioned in Ezekiel. Sifri mentioned on Parashat Behaalotcha that this verse regarding the future redemption was stated to clarify the verse from Isaiah 27:13 which mentioned the shofar being sounded but didn’t specify who — this verse clarifies that G-D Himself will sound the shofar.
- Radak: G-D [Himself] will fight the war for the Jews.
- Malbim: In the final war of Gog and Magog, G-D will sound the shofar to gather the lost Jews from the 4 corners of the earth.
וּבְי֨וֹם שִׂמְחַתְכֶ֥ם וּֽבְמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם֮ וּבְרָאשֵׁ֣י חׇדְשֵׁיכֶם וּתְקַעְתֶּ֣ם בַּחֲצֹֽצְרֹ֗ת עַ֚ל עֹלֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעַ֖ל זִבְחֵ֣י שַׁלְמֵיכֶ֑ם וְהָי֨וּ לָכֶ֤ם לְזִכָּרוֹן֙ לִפְנֵ֣י אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם אֲנִ֖י יְי אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
And on your joyous occasions — your fixed festivals and new moon days — you shall sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being. They shall be a reminder of you before your G-D: I, HASHEM, am your G-D. (Numbers 10:10)
Context: The making of the trumpets and the times to use them. Like the final verse of the Kingship group, this verse doesn’t contain an explicit reference to shofar. See Rashi below.
- Rashi: “I am HASHEM your G-D” — from this verse we learn of [the 3 categories of verses of] kingship (“I am HASHEM your G-D”), remembrances (“a reminder”), and shofar (“trumpets”). (Sifri)
*the Shofar group of verses actually contains 11 verses.