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Polish Shofar, 17th-18th Century

NNM 2369. Shofar, Poland, 17th-18th century

NMM 2369. Shofar, Poland, 17th-18th century. Ex coll.: Carol Geller, Vienna. Board of Trustees, 1990.

Made from ram's horns, which are heated and shaped, shofars--the only ancient Jewish instrument that survived the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans (AD 70)--are signal instruments used for both liturgical and secular purposes. This splendid example came from the estate of Carol Geller, a Viennese dealer who specialized in obtaining antiques from behind the iron curtain, before he was murdered in Warsaw, Poland, in 1975. The seldom-seen, mystical Kabalistic text carved on the two sides can be translated:

"The essence of the blowing of [the] shofar is to awaken the merit of the binding. And the count is as follows: Abraham together with Isaac amount to the word [6+5+4=15], which equals the name of God [5+10=15]. The Tervah amounts to 24 in front and afterward two straight sounds twice Tekiah, amount to the word [36]. [2+4] amounts to 6 and the [6+3] equals 9, together it amounts to God's name [5+10=15]. And therefore in order to sweeten the judgments of the fear of Isaac we combine the merit of Jacob the complete one since he completes the name of 4 letters which is in the likeness of the whole one, Jacob, which comes to 182 numerically. This is an indication of the statement and the binding of Isaac to the seed of Jacob, with mercy remember."

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