Shofar Calling. KEREN
Weekly Torah reading ‘Aqeedah’ is particularly important to understand the nature and depth of disclosure of the first of the names of the Shofar – “Keren”.
It is in this chapter, we find the very first mention of the word “keren” in the Bible. Later, this horn (Keren) becomes a musical instrument, full of symbolic meaning.
It is a horn of a ram, which God provided for Himself, and that Abraham offered as a burnt offering instead of Isaac.
1. Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him,
2. «Abraham!» And he said, «Here I am.» Then He said, «Please, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.»
3. So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.
6. So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.
7. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, «My father!» And he said, «Here I am, my son.» And he said, «Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?» 8. And Abraham said: «My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.» So the two of them went together. 9. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
10. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, «Abraham, Abraham!» So he said, «Here I am» …
Abram was 75 years old when the Almighty called him out of Haran (Gen.12 :1-4).
And the Lord gave a new name to our father Abraham, which means «the father of many nations», the name that contains both a purpose and an indication of how it is to become a reality – through a wonderful fatherhood.
So Eternal God opened eternal vocation to Abraham, He laid great destiny upon him and his descendants – to be a blessing to all nations. Perhaps it was then that Abraham heard the call of the horn — Keren in his heart.
Our mission extends into the eternity if we are faithful to the One calling us. It is like a light ray stretching into eternity.
A light ray has its beginning – its source. Without it there is no light. This source keeps, empowers and supports the light and spreads it everywhere.
This light ray in Hebrew is called “Keren”. That is, the same word “Keren” which, as I have already told, means “the horn of an animal,” and is one of 3 names of the shofar. Besides, it is used to mean “the horn of the people” or a person with a view to the glory and calling. As it is written: «bi ratsonha tarum karneynu» «in Your favor our horn is exalted. “(Ps.89:17).
Calling is always connected with the sacrifice
The sacrifice and calling are two important things that are central to the story “Aqeedah.”
And it is highly symbolic that the second mention of the horn – Keren in the Scripture has to do with God’s command concerning the altar. Moshe made it in the desert in the image of the heavenly one, “You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it…”. (Ex.27:2)).
And it is in connection with the altar we often find the word “horn – Keren”. It is clear that the horn of the altar is not intended for blowing, but it is genetically precedes the name “Keren” of the sounding horn. The earthly horn of the altar is closely associated with the horn which calls from the heaven. And the repeated appeals of the Torah to the horns of the altar is a reminder that glory and calling — keren are inextricably linked to the sacrifice and the ordeal.
Abraham had to pass through a great test – a test of faithfulness. God speaks to him with a terrible request: “Take your son … and sacrifice him to Me.”
In testing Abraham, God asked him to sacrifice his son, in doing so He gave him a free choice. It was a request, which is not seen in most translations, where it sounds like an order. But in the original (in Hebrew), these words exactly express a request: “Kah-na binha, et-yachidha …”. Literally, it should sound like this: I ask, or please take your son …
Archaeologists claim that in Canaan inhabited by pagans in those days there was a ritual of a firstborn sacrifice. When building a house, a city, or undertaking any other important things they sacrificed their firstborns. Thus, they “were buying” the goodwill of “gods” so that this business, the city, the house could be successful and lasted long. It was necessary (in a view of a person bringing this bloody human sacrifice) condition for the blessed FUTURE.
Abraham’s willingness to fulfill the words he heard and to follow the call can not be explained by the same motives that guided the Canaanites who sacrificed their children:
Abraham had to do the opposite to what the Gentiles were doing – to sacrifice his son so to withdraw from the future itself on his own will, to give up everything he had wanted for years. He had to sacrifice his dream, his mission depended on Yitzhak (Isaac). As being born by Sarah, neither the first nor the last son, he was the son of promise.
Yitzhak (Isaac) was a ” ray -keren,” aspiring to eternity and carrying light of blessing to all nations, he was “a glory-keren” of Abraham. He had a seal of the Almighty, he was “a horn-keren” stretched out into the future. In him was the calling of Abraham. In this sense, he was the only one. Losing him Abraham was losing everything a person could lose. He was losing himself.
Song (should sound passionately/emotionally)
Abraham would have been happy to give his life to God, to sacrifice himself. As there was Yitzhak (Isaac) left, so his life was not in vain – it brought great fruit. Oh no!
It was not in vain – his dream, his mission, everything he was looking for with all his heart had come true.
Here he is — an elderly man, the happiest of fathers who have ever walked the face of the earth. He is blessed, noble, rich, and he had a son, regardless everything and everyone, against nature, at the age of 100 years old he had a son.
The son grew up and became strong, he now stands firm on his feet, his Yitzhak (Isaac), his laughter and joy. And Abraham now has the one who will inherit all his property, experience, knowledge of which he was certain that the promise would come true …
Yes, all the promises will come true, as his being an old man and seeing the light of his life almost go extinct, has a great meaning, purpose, knowledge, which he could not dream of, calling- KEREN that no man before him had been called to: God promised him many descendants, a great nation, a holy nation, a royal people, people who will be a blessing for all living on the earth.
Great salvation will come of him. And every tongue on the earth will praise the King of the Universe, the Artist, the Creator …, his Friend. Yes, the One Who made the heaven and earth, Who commanded the sun and stars, and the waters of the seas obeyed Him, was his friend. And Abraham had experienced the immense generosity of his Friend, His great grace and faithfulness, His everlasting and infinite love.
And now his Friend invited him to prove his love, which also should be infinite. If one can expect infinite love from a finite human being.
This meant for Abraham to give everything he had, what was his dream and joy, his priesthood, kingdom, great blessing — his Yitzhak (Isaac) for the sake of his love and friendship… As it is written, “ve ahavta et Adonai Eloeha… meodeha” “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. “(Mark12: 30))
Abraham was shocked by what he heard. “Take your son …”.
Maybe even then in his heart he heard this special calling voice of the shofar … anxious … and awful, simple and great. His heart trembled, barely recognizing these piercing vibrations …
Always, when the calling voice of the shofar — KEREN sounds, it reminds of the calling and sacrifice. The voice of the shofar is always the voice of a sacrifice, a desperate cry of a sacrificial animal being led to slaughter.
(Gen.22 :11-18) 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, «Abraham, Abraham!» So he said, «Here I am.»
12 And He said, «Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (13) Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
(14) And Abraham called the name of the place, The- Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (15) Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven (16) and said: «By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son- (17) «blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. (18) «In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.»
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