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Koren Sacks Rosh HaShana Mahzor, Rohr Edition


The Koren Sacks Rosh HaShana Mahzor provides a lucid translation of the text and an eloquent introduction and translation by Rabbi Johnathan Sacks, whose commentary for the first day of the Shofar service includes this observation:

“Once it happened in the days of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook that a group of workers, under pressure to complete a building in one of the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, worked on Rosh HaShana. People living in the area sent word to Rabbi Kook, expecting him to order them immediately to stop. Instead he sent an emissary to blow shofar for the workers.

“They stopped working to listen. Some began to cry. When the blowing was completed, they decided of their own accord not to continue working on the holy day. Some ran home, changed their clothes, and went with the emissary to pray with the rabbi.

“In his early years Rabbi Kook would himself blow shofar, but in his later years, when the effort was too great, he would read out the order of the blasts and Rabbi David Cohen, ‘the Nazarite,’ would blow.

“One year Zalman Shazar, later to become President of the State of Israel, visited Rav Kook during Elul and found the Rav and Rabbi David rehearsing the blowing for Rosh HaShana, together with the kavanot, the mystical meditations that silently accompanied them. Shazar later told Rabbi David’s son, Rabbi She’ar Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa: ‘They both stood with closed eyes, Rav Kook reading out the sounds and Rabbi David blowing shofar. The blasts sounded as if they came from another world. I felt that I was hearing the shofar of redemption, the call of the shofar of Mashiach, which heralds the ingathering of the exiles. I was shaken to the roots of my soul, and will never forget that experience’.” (From Celebration of the Soul: The Holidays in the Life and Thoughts of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook by Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neriah.)