Even on the high seas, the Shofar reveals the greatness of God…
A great and saintly Rabbi was once aboard a ship, together with two of his disciples. Rosh Hashanah drew near and land was not in sight yet. So the Rabbi and his disciples prepared to spend the Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah on the High Seas.
On the night of Rosh Hashanah a terrific storm broke out. The ship was tossed about by the huge waves and was in grave danger of breaking up. The big waves swept over the ship again and again, flooding it from bow to stern. The sailors worked hard to bale the water out, until they had no strength left in them. It seemed only a matter of time before the ship would sink, unless the storm passed immediately.
During all this time the saintly Rabbi sat in his cabin, engrossed in prayer, paying no attention to the storm threatening the ship. At dawn, when the storm had not let up, his two disciples decided to tell the Rabbi of the danger that threatened all of them.
Entering his cabin, and finding him engrossed in prayer, they hesitated and withdrew, finding no courage to disturb him. A little while later they tried again, but again they turned back, not daring to disturb him. Finally, when the storm seemed to have reached its height and it was a matter of minutes before they would all be drowned, the disciples decided there was no time to be lost. With trembling voices and tears in their eyes they approached the Rabbi and told him of the danger they were in
"If this is the case, then waste no time. Bring the shofar quickly and let us fulfill the sacred commandment of sounding the shofar while we still are alive," the Rabbi said.
The disciples brought the shofar, and soon the sound of the shofar was heard through the boat -- tekiah, shevarim, teruah, tekiah… ah... ah…" And the high winds seemed to snatch up the sounds of the shofar and carry them far away…
Suddenly the wind began to calm down, as if afraid to drown out the holy sounds of the shofar. Also, the roar of the sea grew quieter and quieter and before long there was perfect calm over the water. The last sounds of the shofar rang clearly in the stillness of the early morning.
It was a wonderful miracle!
The captain and the sailors and many passengers, following the sound of the shofar, came to the Rabbi's cabin, where they found the Rabbi and his two disciples joyfully concluding the solemn shofar service.
Amazed and full of awe, they bowed their heads in respect, and when the Rabbi concluded the service, the captain said, "That is certainly a magical horn that you have there, for it has changed the stormy sea into a calm lake. If you will sell it to me, I will give you anything you wish for it."
The Rabbi smiled as he answered: "No, my friend, it is not a magical horn, but a shofar, a simple ram's horn, which we Jews are commanded to sound on the solemn days of our New Year. It raises a storm in our hearts, which is mightier than the storm of the sea, for it calls us to return to God with humility.
"I did not know," the Rabbi continued, "that it would save us all. All I wanted to do was to fulfill one more Divine commandment in the last moments of life left to us. But God is merciful, and spared us all, so that we might live a good and holy life. Let us show our gratitude to God by obeying His commandments always, in times of safety as well as in times of danger, for we are always at His mercy."
Excerpted from The Complete Story of Tishrei, published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn NY