Theodor Reik

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“One instrument only has been retained by the unfortunate people in their dispersion and condemnation.” This statement by Theodor Reik from his work Ritual: Psycho-Analytic Studies accurately and succinctly characterizes the Shofar as the ubiquitous Swiss-army knife of not only Jewish liturgical life, but also social life. The Shofar, an archaic and basic animal horn hallowed out so as to produce one simple sound, has come to be associated with the triumphs and defeats, mourning’s and celebrations, freedoms and exiles, excommunications and reaffirmations of the Jewish people. There are countless theories and interpretations offered by biblical exegetes, sociologists, psychologists, as well as others as to what the Shofar and its unsophisticated…show more content…
However, he differs from the classical Jewish interpretation. Reik, using the Freudian approach, contends that the Biblical passages relating to the Shofars used by the Israelite people in battle clearly show us the Shofar’s main purpose- to terrify. Reik asserts that the dread inducing sound produced by the Shofar “unconsciously recalls to every hearer the old outrage, and awakens his hidden guilty conscience, which, in consequence of the child’s repressed hostile wishes toward the father, slumbers in each individual, and admonishes him to repent and improve. The Shofar thus becomes a reminder never again to carry out that old outrage, and to renounce the gratification of the unconscious wishes which supply the incitement.” The old outrage that Reik is referring to is the murder of the father by the primordial horde as explained by Freud. The solemn and terror evincing wailings of the Shofar, according to Reik, are reminiscent of the agony saturated cries of the father whilst he was being murdered by his sons. Reik contends that for this reason, Jewish law is incredibly strict about not using a Shofar with any defects. Reik writes that the reason for this is because the voice of God cannot be “caricatured” and that the father/totem himself was completely free of defects, so therefore the Shofar must be

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