Posted by Kar-Ben Team on 9/3/2021 to
On Rosh Hashanah, it is a mitzvah to hear the blowing of the shofar. To fulfill the mitzvah, one must truly hear the shofar. An echo doesn’t count, and neither does a recording. It is a climactic moment in the cycle of the Jewish year. But what if you weren’t allowed to hear the shofar blown on Rosh Hashanah? During the Spanish Inquisition, when openly practicing Judaism was illegal, many Spanish Jews pretended to live as Catholics but continued to practice Judaism in secret. A constant fear of discovery hung over the conversos (the “hidden Jews” who outwardly converted to Christianity but remained Jewish in their hearts and practice) who, in darkness and whispers, kept their traditions alive for generations. In The Secret Shofar of Barcelona, the converso conductor of the Barcelona orchestra and his son come up with plan to blow the shofar in public. How? A concert has been scheduled to coincide with Rosh Hashanah. The conductor’s son takes it upon himself to learn the traditional notes of the shofar. The conductor incorporates the sounds of the shofar into the musical piece as part of the concert, and the son plays the shofar with all his heart – under the very noses of the Inquisitors - so that every secret Jew in Barcelona will hear its call. Sometimes, as we see in this story, the easiest place to hide something is in plain sight. There may be things right in front of us that, if we do not make a sincere effort to look with new eyes, we fail to see. Shanah Tovah!