What Do The Sounds of The Shofar Mean?

Did you know that in the Bible Rosh Hashanah is not called Rosh Hashanah? It's called Yom Teruah, the day of blasting the shofar (ram's horn).

The shofar is sounded 100 times during a traditional Rosh Hashanah service. And a long and loud shofar blast marks the end of the fast day of Yom Kippur. While the blower must first take a big breath, the shofar only sounds when the air blows out. This is a symbol for Rosh Hashanah: we must turn inward to fix ourselves so we can then burst out and contribute to the world. 

Below, you can listen to each of the four shofar sounds we blow on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and learn more about what they each mean:


Tekiah is a single blow. It's a long, loud blast. If you've ever seen a knight or court messenger play a horn or blow a long sound to call attention to a king in a movie, tekiah, is kind of like that. When tekiah sounds, it brings everyone to attention. 

Listen to Tekiah


The next type of sound made with the shofar is called shevarim. The three, broken blows of shevarim, sound like crying. Some scholars believe that shevarim is our tears of sadness, or joy, at another year passing.

Listen to Shevarim


The third type of sound made by the shofar blower is called truah, and involes nine or more rapid fire, or staccato, blows. Think of this sound as an alarm clock that you can't hit snooze on. Truah is the wake up call to the new year.

Listen to Truah

Tekiah gedolah

The three sounds above are played all throughout the Rosh Hashanah service. And during the final combination, the shofar player concludes with tekiah gedolah, the great blast, one last, long tekiah to wrap up.

Listen to Tekiah gedolah 


Here are all four blows in sequence:


PJ Library Rosh Hashanah Holiday Hub
PJ Library Yom Kippur Holiday Hub