A parable from Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov:
A King had an only son, the apple of his eye. The King wanted his son to master different
fields of knowledge and to experience various cultures, so he sent him to a far-off
country, supplied with a generous quantity of silver and gold. Far away from home, the son
squandered all the money until he was left completely destitute. In his distress he
resolved to return to his father's house and after much difficulty, he managed to arrive
at the gate of the courtyard to his father's palace.
In the passage of time, he had actually forgotten the language of his native country, and
he was unable to identify himself to the guards. In utter despair he began to cry out in a
loud voice, and the King, who recognized the voice of his son, went out to him and brought
him into the house, kissing him and hugging him.
The meaning of the parable: The King is G-d. The prince is the Jewish people, who are
called "Children of G-d" (Deuteronomy 14:1). The King sends a soul down to this world in
order to fulfill the Torah and mitzvot. However, the soul becomes very distant and forgets
everything to which it was accustomed to above, and in the long exile it forgets even its
own "language." So it utters a simple cry to its Father in Heaven. This is the blowing of
the shofar, a cry from deep within, expressing regret for the past and determination for
the future. This cry elicits G-d's mercies, and He demonstrates His abiding affection for
His child and forgives him.