Accompanied by an anointed priest and blowing two types of shofars (rams’ horns) along with silver trumpets in the Biblically prescribed manner, representatives of the nascent Sanhedrin gathered on the Mount of Olives on Thursday to count the third year of the Jubilee cycle in the most Biblically-accurate way possible.
Sanhedrin members gathered at the spot closest to where the Kohanim (Jewish men of the priestly caste) used to perform the Biblically-mandated mitzvah (Torah commandment) of blowing shofar for the New Year. Also present was Shai Golan, a Kohen who had been properly annointed, dressed in priestly garments.
Two types of shofars were used in the ceremony: two shorter, curved rams’ horn and one longer, straight horn from an ibex. Each had a symbolic meaning.
“Normally, Jews blow the shorter bent shofar on Rosh Hashana (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Repentance), since the Talmud explains that repentance is achieved by a man being modest and bending his will to God’s will,” Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the Sanhedrin, explained to Breaking Israel News.
“On the Jubilee, the shofar of an ibex is blown to announce freedom to the land. An ibex represents freedom, because of the character of the ibex itself, running free in the mountains. The Jerusalem Talmud says that you blow a shofar from a rare animal to announce freedom, which is itself a rare and wonderful thing.”
The Sanhedrin recreated the ceremony as it was performed in the Temple. Short blasts were blown on the silver trumpets, prepared by the Temple Institute for use in the Third Temple, while longer blasts were blown on the shofars, so the sound of the animal horns was heard at the end.
Kohen blows ibex shofar to announce third year of Jubilee
In some points, the ceremony fell short of actually recreating the holiday events as it took place in the Temple
“The priests blew the shofarot in the eastern gate of the Temple,” Rabbi Weiss explained. “Due to police restrictions, the Mount of Olives is as close as we can come to that place today.”
Though the Sanhedrin was only reenacting the mitzvah of announcing the New Year, at the same time they were actually fulfilling the commandment of announcing the new year in the Jubilee cycle. Two years ago, the Sanhedrin ruled that conditions for the prophesied Third Inheritance of the land of Israel had been fulfilled.
At that time, the Sanhedrin began counting the 50 years of the Jubilee cycle. This mitzvah is performed after the New Year by saying a blessing, but unlike most Torah commandments observed today which are incumbent on an individual, the Jubilee is a national, collective mitzvah.
According to the Bible and in Temple times, this blessing was accompanied by blasts on ibex shofarot and silver horns, precisely as the Sanhedrin did last Thursday on the eve of Yom Kippur.
Last year, the Sanhedrin counted the new year of the Jubilee cycle without musical accompaniment.
“Thank God, every year we come closer,” Rabbi Weiss said, noting that next week, a full-dress reenactment of the Temple water libation ceremony will be held at the Shiloah Spring.