This Rosh Hashanah 5767 is a unique one. This year Rosh Hashanah falls on a weekend, which poses an interesting challenge, because one of the most esteemed and precious mitzvoth that we do every Rosh Hashanah, namely the blowing of the shofar, will be missing from this year’s first day of Yom Tov.
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There are many reasons given for this perplexing issue, but a very fundamental problem remains. It seems that from a basic reading of the Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 29b, the reason that we don’t blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah on Shabbat is because of a fear that you will carry the shofar in a place that doesn’t have an Eruv.
We know that one of the prohibitions of Shabbat that doesn’t apply on Yom Tov in general is the prohibition of carrying, and Rava, the sage in the aforementioned Talmud, was very fearful that because every Jew is so excited about Rosh Hashanah, we may forget about Shabbat and come to carry.
What every commentator is bothered by is how one can remove a Torah obligation to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah based on a far fetched fear that you may come to carry it? There are many answers given to this, and I would like to offer one.
There is a very big difference between Shabbat and Yom Tov, where Shabbat has a number of prohibitions that don’t exist on Yom Tov. What is behind this difference?
There is a very big financial gap that exists which puts everyone in different categories. We own different types of houses and cars and other items. On the other hand, we are all human beings and are all part of the same human race, and there is much more that combines us than divides us.
On Shabbat we don’t engage in our property, which is manifested by the fact that we can’t even move our own items, and this is the great equalizer between us. On Yom Tov however, we do engage in differences in our own property, because we have the ability to cook and move our property.
Therefore, on Rosh Hashanah on Shabbat, it becomes inappropriate to carry the Shofar, because the main theme of the prayer of Rosh Hashanah is the equality of the human race, because Adam was created that day, and the entire world is judged that day, by the absolute master of the world.
Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein is the rabbi of Beth Israel Synagogue, Nova Scotia, Canada. Courtesy of the Orthodox Union Take Five for Torah program