Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Learning to Blow Shofar

Once, before Rosh Hashanah, the Chozeh of Lublin, zt”l, ordered all baalei tokei’a to come see him. It was time to decide who would blow the shofar that year and to instruct him in the deep significance of this holy mitzvah.
Rav Simchah Bunim of Peshischa, zt”l, joined the group of hopefuls even though he had no training and couldn’t blow the shofar.
When the Chozeh saw him he was very glad. He said, “In Rosh Hashanah 29b we find that blowing shofar is a chochmah, wisdom. Rav Bunim is a chacham, wise man, so he should blow shofar for us.”
The two met privately and the Chozeh taught him all the kavanos, the mystical intentions, of blowing shofar. At the end of their last session, the Chozeh offered a shofar to Rav Simchah Bunim saying, “Take a shofar to be mechaven with.”
Rav Simchah Bunim demurred, “But I don’t know how to blow.”
The Chozeh got angry with him. Rav Bunim really was a chacham. He said, “How can the Rebbe be angry with me? I learned this hanhagah from Moshe Rabbeinu. First, Moshe said to Hashem, ‘What will I tell them if they ask me Your name?’ After Hashem answered, Moshe Rabbeinu said, ‘I am not a man of words,’ and asked Hashem to send someone else!”
The Chozeh looked at him in a marked manner and said, “How can you compare yourself with Moshe Rabbeinu?”
Rav Bunim shot back, “The Rebbe is also not Hashem…”
When Rav Shamai Ginzberg, zt”l, told this story over he said, “Although this seems a difficult ma’aseh to understand on the face of it, there is a source for it in Yevamos 105b: When Rabbi Yishmael arrived in the beis medrash of Rav Yehudah HaNasi as a disciple, he said, “…I am Yishmael b’Rebbi Yossi, and I have come to learn Torah from Rabbeinu HaKadosh.”
Avdan asked him, “Are you worthy to learn Torah from Rebbi?”
Rabbi Yishmael answered, “Was Moshe worthy to learn Torah from Hashem himself?”
“Are you Moshe?” was Avdan’s immediate response.
Rabbi Yishmael shot back, “Do you think Rebbi is Hashem?”

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