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A small shofar

A shofar (Hebrew: שופר‎) is a horn, traditionally that of a ram, used for Jewish religious purposes. Shofar-blowing is incorporated in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.


In the Bible and rabbinic literature

Shofar (by Alphonse Lévy)

The shofar is mentioned frequently in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud and rabbinic literature. The blast of a shofar emanating from the thick cloud on Mount Sinai made the Israelites tremble in awe (Exodus 19, 20).

The shofar was used in to announce holidays (Ps. lxxxi. 4), and the Jubilee year (Lev. 25. 9). The first day of the seventh month (Tishri) is termed "a memorial of blowing" (Lev. 23. 24), or "a day of blowing" (Num. xxix. 1), the shofar. It was also employed in processions (II Sam. 6. 15; I Chron. 15. 28), as a musical accompaniment (Ps. 98. 6; comp. ib. xlvii. 5) and to signify the start of a war (Josh. 6. 4; Judges 3. 27; 7. 16, 20; I Sam. 8. 3). Note that the 'trumpets' described in Numbers 10 are a different instrument, described by the Hebrew word 'trumpet' not the word for shofar.

The Torah describes the first day of the seventh month (1st of Tishri = Rosh ha-Shanah) as a zikron teruah (memorial of blowing; Lev. xxiii) and as a yom teru'ah (day of blowing; Num. 29). This was interpreted by the Jewish sages as referring to the sounding the shofar.

In the Temple in Jerusalem, the shofar was sometimes used together with the trumpet. On New Year's Day the principal ceremony was conducted with the shofar, which instrument was placed in the center with a trumpet on either side; it was the horn of a wild goat and straight in shape, being ornamented with gold at the mouthpiece. On fast days the principal ceremony was conducted with the trumpets in the center and with a shofar on either side. On those occasions the shofarot were rams' horns curved in shape and ornamented with silver at the mouthpieces. On Yom Kippur of the jubilee year the ceremony was performed with the shofar as on New Year's Day. Rosh Hoshana is the Jewish New Year. A ceremonial horn, called a “shofar” is blown, reminding Jews that God is king. A feast with symbolic food is eaten on Rosh Hashana, and the next ten days are spent in repentance. Rosh Hashana ends on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a day of judgment, during which prayers are made asking for forgiveness.

On Rosh Hashanah and other full holidays (Day of Atonement, Ingathering of the harvest [Succot], Passover and the Feat of Weeks – Pentecost) a single Priest perfected two sacrifices in honor of the full holiday, Note that festivals such as Hanukah and Purim), are not considered full holidays requiring an extra sacrifice. On Rosh Hashanah, something special occurred during the special sacrifice. Arguably two Shofar Sounders played the long notes and one Trumpet player played the short note. Accordingly, Rosh HaShanah is called Yom Teruah (the day of the blast) Otherwise, the Trumpets had “top billing.” Rosh Hashanah27a, supports this claim: “Said Raba or it may have been R. Joshua B. Levi: What is the scriptural warrant fore this? – Because it is written, “With trumpets and the sound of the Shofar shout ye before the King in the Temple, we require trumpets and the sound of the Shofar; elsewhere not.” See also Sidney B. Hoenig, Origins of the Rosh Hashanah Liturgy, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 57, The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Volume of the Jewish Quarterly Review (1967), pp. 312-331. • Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press. Accessed December 31, 2009

Indeed, on Yom Kippur, the Shofar was sounded to announce the Jubilee Year (every 50-years, Jews were granted freedom, forgiveness and debts and reclamation of sold lands. Shofar first indicated in Yovel (Jubilee Year - Lev. 25:8-13). Indeed, in Rosh Hashanah 33b, the sages ask why the Shofar sounded in Jubilee year. Further support is found in Rosh Hashanah 29a, where the Talmud talks of trumpets for sacrifices but Shofar in the Jubilee Year does not apply to priests who are exempt from the obligations of the jubilee. Perhaps, we have the first mention of Shofar Sounding by non-Priests. Perhaps the first distancing away from the Sacrificial Cult.

Otherwise, for all other special days, the Shofar is sounded shorter and two special silver Trumpets announced the sacrifice.

When the trumpets sound the signal, all the people who were within the sacrifice prostate themselves, stretching out flat, face down and on the ground. See external references.

The shofar was blown in the times of Joshua to help him capture Jericho. As they surrounded the walls, the shofar was blown and the Jews were able to capture the city. The shofar was commonly taken out to war so the troops would know when a battle would begin. The person who would blow the shofar would call out to the troops from atop a hill. All of the troops were able to hear the call of the shofar from their position because of its distinct sound.

Post-Biblical times

In post-Biblical times, the shofar was enhanced in its religious use because of the ban on playing musical instruments as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the temple. (It is noted that a full orchestra played in the temple, including, perhaps, a primitive organ.) The shofar continues to announce the New Year and the new moon, to introduce Shabbat, to carry out the commandment to sound it on Rosh Hashanah, and to mark the end of the day of fasting on Yom Kippur once the services have completed in the evening. The secular uses have been discarded (although the shofar was sounded to commemorate the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967) (Judith Kaplan Eisendrath, Heritage of Music, New York: UAHC, 1972, pp. 44–45).

The shofar is primarily associated with Rosh Hashanah. Indeed, Rosh Hashanah is called "Yom T’ruah" (the day of the shofar blast). In the Mishnah (book of early rabbinic laws derived from the Torah), a discussion centers on the centrality of the shofar in the time before the destruction of the second temple (70 AD). Indeed, the shofar was the center of the ceremony, with two silver trumpets playing a lesser role. On other solemn holidays, fasts, and new moon celebrations, two silver trumpets were featured, with one shofar playing a lesser role. The shofar is also associated with the jubilee year in which, every fifty years, Jewish law provided for the release of all slaves, land, and debts. The sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah announced the jubilee year, and the sound of the shofar on Yom Kippur proclaimed the actual release of financial encumbrances.

The halakha (Jewish law) rules that the shofar may not be sounded on Shabbat due to the potential that the ba’al tekiyah (shofar sounder) may inadvertently carry it which is in a class of forbidden Shabbat work (RH 29b) the historical explanation is that in ancient Israel, the shofar was sounded on Shabbat in the temple located in Jerusalem. After the temple’s destruction, the sounding of the shofar on Shabbat was restricted to the place where the great Sanhedrin (Jewish legislature and court from 400 BCE to 100 C.E.) was located. However, when the Sanhedrin ceased to exist, the sounding of the shofar on Shabbat was discontinued (Kieval, The High Holy Days, p. 114).

The shofar says, "Wake up from your (moral) sleep. You are asleep. Get up from your slumber. You are in a deep sleep. Search for your behavior. Become the best person you can. Remember God, the One Who created you." Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance 3:4.[1]

See Arthur l. Finkle, Shofar Sounders Reference Manual, LA: Torah Aura, 1993

Mitzvah: Hearing the Sounds

The Sages indicated that the mitzvah was to hear the sounds of the shofar. They go so far as to establish whether a person hears the actual sound or just the echo at the outside of the pit or cave; the bottom; and midway. The Shulchan Aruch sums up that if the hearer hears the reverberation, the mitzvah is not valid. However, if the hearer perceives the direct sounds, he fulfils the mitzvah. See Mishnah Berurah 587:1–3. You can extrapolate this ruling to hearing the shofar on the radio, the Internet, etc. as being invalid.

In addition, if one hears the blast but with no intention of fulfilling the mitzvah, then there is no mitzvah. However, there is a minority decision on this point.

If one blows with the intention that all who hear will perform the mitzvah, the mitzvah is valid. If someone passes by and does intend to hear the Shofar, he can perform the mitzvah because the community blower blows for everybody. If he stands still, it is presumed he intends to hear. MB 590:9

Qualifications for Sounding the Shofar

The Shulchan Aruch begins its exploration of fitness by citing excluding classes of people:

  1. Whoever is not obligated to fulfill the mitzvah of sounding the shofar should not substitute his efforts for another whose duty it is to perform a mitzvah. For example, the Baal Tekiah sounds a shofar for a synagogue in Chelm cannot perform he same mitzvah when another in the town of Lodz can fulfill the mitzvah.
  2. The mitzvah is not valid for a deaf mute (cannot hear), moron (lacks the capacity) and a child (lacks the adult status).
  3. Women are exempt because the mitzvah is time bound.
  4. A hermaphrodite may make his shofar sounding serve for other hermaphrodites.
  5. Women should not be Baal Tekia’s because they would be substituting her efforts for another whose duty it is to perform a mitzvah. However, if a female Baal Tekiya has already intoned the shofar for other women, it is valid. However, women should not make a blessing.
  6. Only a freeman (not even a slave who will become free in the next month) can be a Baal Tekiya. MB 590:1–5

Being a Baal Tekiya (Shofar Sounder) is an honor.

"The one who blows the shofar on Rosh Hashanah . . . should likewise be learned in the Torah and shall be God-fearing; the best man available. Nevertheless, every Jew is eligible for any sacred office, providing he is acceptable to the congregation. If, however, he sees that his choice will cause disruption, he should withdraw his candidacy, even if the improper person will be chosen” See Shulchan Aruch 3:72.

Moreover, the Baal Tekiya shall abstain from anything that may cause ritual contamination for three days prior to Rosh Hashanah. See Shulchan Aruch 3:73

A Baal Tekiya can sound the shofar for shut-ins and home-bound women who have had baby.

If a blind blower was dismissed, but the community did not find a blower as proficient, he should be appointed as community blower. The touchstone is proficiency not disability.

Choice of animal

According to the Talmud, a shofar may be made from the horn of any animal except that of a cow or calf (Rosh Hashanah, 26a), although a ram is preferable. (Mishnah Berurah 586:1). There is no requirement for ritual slaughter (shechitah), and theoretically, the horn can come from a non-kosher animal based on the principle of mutar beficha (the material is acceptable for putting in the mouth). Moreover, since the mitzvah is hearing the shofar, not eating it, using the horn of a neveylah or a non-kosher animal falls into the category of tashmishe mitzvah (MB 586:16 (8) Since unkosher substances unfit for human consumption are not food (Avot 67b), it is permissible to use animal hair, anointing oil and incense produced from animal secretions and dyes of crimson, which are made from mollusks (Megillah 26b).

To cap this issue, a recent article appeared in the Journal of Halacha, Number LIII, and Contemporary Society, Rabbi Ari Z, Zivotofsky, Yemenite Shofar: Ideal for the Mitzvah?, Cleveland, OH: Rabbi Jacob Joseph School R. Ari Z, Zivotofsky, 2007

The Elef Hamagan (586:5) delineates the order of preference: 1) curved ram; 2) curved other sheep; 3) curved other animal; 4) straight—ram or otherwise; 5) non-kosher animal; 6) cow. The first four categories are used with a bracha, the fifth without a bracha, and the last, not at all.[2]

Shape and material

A shofar made from the horn of a Greater kudu, in the Yemenite Jewish style.

A shofar may be created from the horn of any kosher male animal from the Bovidae family except for cattle, which is specifically excluded. In practice two species are generally used: the Ashkenazi and Sefardi shofar is made from the horn of a domestic ram (see sheep), while a Yemeni shofar is made from the horn of a kudu.

Bovidae horns are made of keratin (the same material as human toenails and fingernails). An antler, on the other hand, is not a horn but solid bone. Antlers cannot be used as a shofar because they cannot be hollowed out.

A crack or hole in the shofar affecting the sound renders it unfit for ceremonial use. A shofar may not be painted in colors, but it may be carved with artistic designs (Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayim, 586, 17). Shofars (especially the Sephardi shofars) are often plated with silver across part of their length for display purposes, although this invalidates them for use in religious practices. According to Jewish law women and minors are exempt from the commandment of hearing the shofar blown (as is the case with any positive, time-bound commandment), but they are encouraged to attend the ceremony.

The horn is flattened and shaped by the application of heat, which softens it. A hole is made from the tip of the horn to the natural hollow inside. It is played much like a European brass instrument, with the player blowing through the hole, causing the air column inside to vibrate. Sephardi shofars usually have a carved mouthpiece resembling that of a European trumpet or French horn, but smaller. Ashkenazi shofars do not.

Because the hollow of the shofar is irregular in shape, the harmonics obtained when playing the instrument can vary: rather than a pure perfect fifth, intervals as narrow as a fourth, or as wide as a sixth may be produced.

The sounds

A man demonstrates sounding a shofar at a synagogue in Minnesota.

The tekiah and teruah sounds mentioned in the Bible were respectively bass and treble. The tekiah was a plain deep sound ending abruptly; the teruah, a trill between two tekiahs. These three sounds, constituting a bar of music, were rendered three times: first in honor of God's Kingship; next to recall the near sacrifice of Isaac, in order to cause the congregation to be remembered before God; and a third time to comply with the precept regarding the shofar.

Ten appropriate verses from the Bible are recited at each repetition, which ends with a benediction. Over time doubts arose as to the correct sound of the teruah. The Talmud is uncertain whether it means a moaning/groaning or a staccato beat sound. Shevarim was supposed to be composed of three connected short sounds; the teruah of nine very short notes divided into three disconnected or broken sequences of three notes each. The duration of the teruah is equal to that of the shevarim; and the tekiah is half the length of either. This doubt as to the nature of the real teruah, whether it was simply a moan, a staccato or both, necessitated two near-repetitions to make sure of securing the correct sound.

The sequence of the shofar blowing is thus tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah; tekiah, shevarim, tekiah; tekiah, teruah, and then a final blast of "tekiah gadola" which means "big tekiah," held as long as possible. This formula makes thirty sounds for the series, with tekiah being one note, shevarium three, and teruah nine. This series of thirty sounds is repeated twice more, making ninety sounds in all. The trebling of the series is based on the mention of teruah three times in connection with the seventh month (Lev. xxiii, xxv; Num. xxix), and also on the above-mentioned division of the service into malchiyot, zichronot, and shofarot. In addition to these three repetitions, a single formula of ten sounds is rendered at the close of the service, making a total of 100 sounds. According to the Sephardic tradition, a full 101 blasts are sounded, corresponding to the 100 cries of the mother of Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army who did not make it home after being assassinated by the biblical Yael (Judges 5:28). One cry is left to symbolize the legitimate love of a mother mourning her son. Another popular kind of a Shofar is the Moroccan Shofar. A Moroccan Shofar is known in its beauty and the ease of using it when blowing the Shofar. A Moroccan Shofar is a flat Shofar with no curves, beside the main curve. The Moroccans use it because of two main reasons: The first reason is that years ago, when the Morrocan Jews where not allowed to practice Judaism, it was easy to hide it in their clothes because of its flat shape. The second reason is that it has a special sound different from the other Shofars, also thanks to its shape. A picture of a Moroccan Shofar can be found at the following link [1] where you can see the flat shape of the Moroccan Shofar.

The performer

The expert who blows (or "blasts" or "sounds") the shofar is termed the Tokea (lit. "Blaster") or Ba'al Tekia (lit. "Master of the Blast"). Every Jew is eligible for this sacred office, providing he is acceptable to the congregation. If a potential choice will cause dissension, he should withdraw his candidacy, even if the improper person is chosen. See Shulkhan Arukh 3:72; The Ba'al Tekia shall abstain from anything that may cause ritual contamination for three days prior to Rosh Hashanah. See Shulkhan Arukh 3:73.

Shofar in National Liberation

During the Ottoman and the British occupation of Jerusalem, Jews were not allowed to sound the shofar at the Western Wall. After the Six Day War, Rabbi Shlomo Goren famously approached the Wall and sounded the shofar. An additional stanza was added to Naomi Shemer's song Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold) in which she sings, "שופר קורא בהר הבית בעיר העתיקה", "a shofar calls out from the Temple Mount in The Old City"[3]

Use in modern times

Religious usage

The shofar is used mainly on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is blown in synagogues to mark the end of the fast at Yom Kippur, and blown at four particular occasions in the prayers on Rosh Hashanah. Because of its inherent ties to the Days of Repentance and the inspiration that comes along with hearing its piercing blasts, the shofar is also blown after morning services for the entire month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish civil year and the sixth of the Jewish ecclesiastical year. It is not blown on the last day of month, however, to mark the difference between the voluntary blasts of the month and the mandatory blasts of the holiday. Shofar blasts are also used during penitential rituals such as Yom Kippur Katan and optional prayer services called during times of communal distress. The exact modes of sounding can vary from location to location.

Non-religious musical usage

The shofar is sometimes used in Western classical music. Edward Elgar's oratorio The Apostles includes the sound of a shofar blowing, although other instruments, such as the flugelhorn, are usually used instead.

In pop music, the shofar is used by the Israeli Oriental metal band Salem in their adaptation of "Al Taster" psalm. The late trumpeter Lester Bowie played a shofar with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In Joey Arkenstat's album Bane, the former bassist for Phish is credited for playing the shofar. In the musical "Godspell", the first act opens with cast member David Haskell blowing the shofar, in preparation for singing "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord." In his performances, Israeli composer and singer Shlomo Gronich uses the shofar to produce a very wide range of notes.[4]

See also


  1. ^ The Shofar: Impetus to Anticipation & Consummation
  2. ^ Elef Hamagen, Rabbi Shemarya Hakreti, edited by Aharon Erand, Jerusalem: Mekitzei Nirdamim, 2003
  3. ^ JERUSALEM OF GOLD accessed 9 Dec. 2008
  4. ^ The Abraham Fund Initiatives::Press Clips - Crossing the Middle Eastern Tightrope
  • Arthur L. Finkle, Easy Guide to Shofar Sounding, LA: Torah Aura, 2003
  • A Moroccan Shofar
  • [2] Hearing Shofar: The Still Small Voice of the Ram's Horn by Michael T. Chusid, a three volume compendium of shofar information.

External links

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


—Biblical Data:

The ancient ritual horn of Israel, representing, next to the 'Ugab or reeds, the oldest surviving form of wind-instrument. As a rule "shofar" is incorrectly translated "trumpet" or "cornet"; its etymology shows it to signify either "tuba" (comp. Jastrow, "Diet.") or, more accurately, "clarion" (comp. Gesenius, "Dict." ed. Oxford). It is mentioned frequently in the Bible, from Exodus to Zechariah, and throughout the Talmud and later Hebrew literature. It was the voice of a shofar, "exceeding loud," issuing from the thick cloud on Sinai that made all in the camp tremble (Ex. xix. 16, xx. 18); and for this reason, while other musical instruments were in each age constructed according to the most advanced contemporary practise (comp. 'Ar. 10b), the trumpet family itself being represented by the long, straight silver "ḥaẓoẓerah," the shofar has never varied in structure from its prehistoric simplicity and crudity.

Use and Pattern.

In the Pentateuch the use of the shofar is prescribed for the announcement of the New Moon and solemn feasts (Num. x. 10; Ps. lxxxi. 4), as also for proclaiming the year of release (Lev. xxv. 9). The first day of the seventh month (Tishri) is especially termed "a memorial of blowing" (Lev. xxiii. 24), or "a day of blowing" (Num. xxix. 1), the shofar; and the modern use of the instrument survives especially in this connection. In earlier days it was employed also in other religious ceremonials, as processions (II Sam. v. 15; I Chron. xv. 28), or in the orchestra as an accompaniment to the song of praise (Ps. xcviii. 6; comp. ib. xlvii. 5). More frequently it was used as the signal-horn of war, like the silver trumpets mentioned in Num. x. 9 (see Josh. vi. 4; Judges iii. 27; vii. 16, 20; I Sam. xiii. 3).

In the Temple.

The shofar is the only musical instrument of ancient Israel that survived two millennia in its original form and is still used today. Unlike some of the other instruments of the Temple period, the shofar was uniquely semitic. The word "shofar" is derived from the Assyrian shapparu, a wild goat of the ibex family. Medieval philosophers and mystics have attributed certain moralizing and occult meanings to the sounding of the shofar. Rabbi Saadia Gaon (10th century) stated that the sound of the shofar raised awe and emotion in the hearts and souls of the people. Maimonides interpreted the sounding as reminding humankind of its duties to God. The mystical Zohar holds that the sound of the shofar awakens the Higher Mercy. The shofar is the most-mentioned instrument in the Bible (72 times). It held a special religious and secular role in the life of the Jewish people. Only Priests and Levites were allowed to per-form the religious function of blowing the shofar in the Jewish Commonwealth. The shofar had several religious roles recorded in the TaNaKH (the Bible), such as the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:15; 1 Chronicles 15:28); the announcement of the New Moon (Psalms 81:4); the beginning of the religious New Year (Numbers 29:1); the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9); the procession preparatory to the Feast of Tabernacles (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7); the libation ceremony (Mishnah, R.H. 4:9); and the Havdalah ceremony marking the end of a festival (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7). In addition, the shofar had a number of secular roles, such as coronating a king (2Samuel 5:10; 1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 1;13) and signaling in times of war to assemble troops, to attack, to pursue, and to proclaim victory (Numbers 10:9, Judges 6:4; Jeremiah 4:5 and Ezekiel 33:3-6). In post-biblical times, the shofar was enhanced in its religious use because of the ban on playing musical instruments as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the Temple. (It should be noted that a full orchestra played in the Temple, including, perhaps, a primitive organ.) The shofar continues to announce the new year and the New Moon, to introduce the Sabbath, and to carry out the commandments on Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur. The secular uses have been discarded (although the shofar was sounded to commemorate the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967) (Judith Kaplan Eisendrath, Heritage of Music, New York: U.A.H.C., 1972, pp. 44-45).

See Finkle, The Easy Guide +o Shofar Sounding, Torah Aura Productions, 2002. See also

—In Post-Biblical Times:

The Mosaic law providing for the first day of the seventh month (1st of Tishri = Rosh ha-Shanah) a "zikron teru'ah" (memorial of blowing; Lev. xxiii. 24) and a "yom teru'ah" (day of blowing; Num. xxix. 1) is traditionally interpreted by the Rabbis as referring to the ceremony of sounding the shofar. The shofar in the Temple was generally associated with the trumpet; and both instruments were used together on various occasions. On New-Year's Day the principal ceremony was conducted with the shofar, which instrument was placed in the center with a trumpet on either side; it was the horn of a wild goat and straight in shape, being ornamented with gold at the mouthpiece. On fast-days the principal ceremony was conducted with the trumpets in the center and with a shofar on either side. On those occasions the shofarot were rams' horns curved in shape and ornamented with silver at the mouthpieces. On Yom Kippur of the jubilee year the ceremony was performed with the shofar as on New-Year's Day. R. Judah, however, declares that the shofar of Rosh ha-Shanah was of ram's horn (and curved); that of the jubilee, of the horn of the wild goat (R. H. iii. 3); while R. Levi thought it proper that the shofar of ram's horn of a curved shape should be used for Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur (jubilee year), and that the straight-shaped shofar of the horn of the wild goat should be used on other occasions. The curved shofar is symbolic of the contrite heart repenting on the most solemn days of Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur (comp. ib. 26b; Yer. ib.). R. Abbahu thought that a shofar of ram's horn was used on Rosh ha-Shanah in order to call to mind the 'Aḳedah incident connected with the ram (Gen. xxii. 13; R. H. 16a). The shofar,however, may be the horn of any other clean animal, except that of a cow or calf, which would be a reminder of the golden calf incident (ib. 26a). A rent or hole in the shofar affecting the sound renders it unfit for ceremonial use. A shofar may not be painted in colors, but it may be carved with artistic designs (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 586, 17, note). Women and minors are exempt from the command to hear the shofar-blowing, but they nevertheless usually attend the ceremony.

The Sounds.

The "teḳi'ah" and "teru'ah" mentioned in the Bible were respectively bass and treble. The teḳi'ah was "a plain deep sound ending abruptly; the teru'ah, a trill between two teḳi'ahs. These three sounds, constituting a bar of music, were rendered three times: first in honor of theocracy, or "malkiyot" (kingdom); then to recall the 'Aḳedah and to cause the congregation to be remembered before God, or "zikronot" (remembrances); a third time to comply with the precept regarding the shofar. Ten appropriate verses from the Bible were recited at each repetition, which ended with a benediction (R. H. 16a). Doubt, however, arose as to the sound of the teru'ah. Onḳelos translates "teru'ah" as "yabbaba"; but the Talmud is uncertain whether it means an outcry ("yelalah") or a moaning ("geniḥah") sound. The former was supposed to be composed of three connected short sounds; the latter, of nine very short notes divided into three disconnected or broken sounds ("shebarim"). The duration of the teru'ah is equal to that of the shebarim; and the teḳi'ah is half the length of either (R. H. iv. 9). This doubt as to the nature of the real teru'ah, whether it was simply an outcry or a moan, or both, necessitated two repetitions to make sure of securing the correct sound, the following formula, consisting of ten sounds, resulting: teḳi'ah, shebarim-teru'ah, teḳi'ah; teḳi'ah, shebarim, teḳi'ah; teḳi'ah, teru'ah, teḳi'ah. This formula was repeated twice, making thirty sounds for the series. The last teḳi'ah was prolonged and was called "teḳi'ah gedolah" = the "long teḳi'ah." This series of thirty sounds was repeated twice, making ninety sounds in all. The trebling of the series was based on the mention of teru'ah three times in connection with the seventh month (Lev. xxiii. 24, xxv. 9; Num. xxix. 1), and also on the above-mentioned division into malkiyot, zikronot, and shofarot. In addition a single formula of ten sounds is rendered at the close of the service, making a total of 100 sounds. Thus the original three sounds, constituting a musical bar, were increased to 100 at the New-Year's Day ceremony.

The general term for the sounds is "teḳi'ot." The first series of teḳi'ot is rendered after the hafṭarah, and is known as "teḳi'ot di-meyushshab" (sitting series) in contradistinction to the "teḳi'ot de-me'ummad" (standing series) rendered at the "'Amidah" (standing prayer). There are many variations in the division of the series and placing them in the "'Amidah." R. Amram Gaon in his "Siddur" (p. 45b) gives the first line, T. S.-Tr. T. (= teḳi'ah, shebarim-teru'ah, teḳi'ah), three times for malkiyot; the second line, T. S. T., three times for zikronot; and the third line, T. Tr. T., three times for shofarot. Rabbenu Tam introduced the custom of giving the first line, T. S.-Tr. T., three times for either malkiyot, zikronot, or shofarot (Tos. to R. H. 33b, s.v. (image) ). In the Sephardic and west-German rituals the notes are rendered according to the scheme of Amram Gaon, while in east-European countries the minhag of Rabbenu Tam is followed. Other congregations render the first, second, and third lines in consecutive order for the three divisions of the "'Amidah."

The expert who blows the teḳi'ot is named "ba'al toḳea'" (the sounder of the shofar), and the prompter who calls off the sounds is termed "maḳri'." The following is the order of teḳi'ot for Rosh ha-Shanah:

In the Liturgy.

The ba'al toḳea' prepares himself for his task of blowing the shofar for the congregation and says: "I am prepared to fulfil God's command to blow the shofar, as is prescribed in the Torah, 'a day of blowing unto you.'" Then he recites the benediction: "Praised be the Lord our God, the King of the Universe, who sanctified us with His precepts and commanded us to hear the sound of the shofar," and adds the She-Heḥeyanu. The congregation answers "Amen." Then follow the thirty teḳi'ot, after which the ḥazzan recites the verse: "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance" (Ps. lxxxix. 16, R. V.). The congregation repeats this and says "Ashre." In the Musaf "'Amidah" by the ḥazzan the series of thirty teḳi'ot is rendered as described above. After Musaf or, in some congregations, after 'Alenu, the thirty teḳi'ot are repeated. After Adon 'Olam the formula of ten teḳi'ot closes the service.

100 Blasts

The Rabbi’s developed the rule that there should be 100 blasts during Rosh Hashanah. The issue arises that, if there are nine blasts (biblically) how does one arrive at 100. Thus, prior to the Reader’s Kaddish, 60 blasts should have sounded. If there were nine blasts instead of ten, the count would be 56. See table below.

Shacharis (morning) Service

Torah 30 27 Musaf Malchuyot 10 9 Zuchronot 10 9 Shoforot 10 9 Subtotal 60 56

Reader’s Kaddish 40 44

Rabbi Ezra Bick of Beis Midrash Yeshiva of Hebron, founded by R. Soloveichik’s son-in-law, R. Aaron Lichtenstein) states:

There is no REAL significance to the total number. One requires a tekiya-shevarim-tekiya. That unit gets multiplied a few times to reach 9, 9x3 (=30!) or 90 (100). For conventional reasons, we count tekiya-shevarim-terua-tekiya as 4 sounds, although you are correct - it very likely should count as three. But these numbers are purely convention and have no real halakhic significance. We simply call it 30 to keep track.

The Torah requires nine sounds - as in SA 590:1-3. The rabbis had a problem with the Teruah, whether it is nine short sounds, three medium sounds, or a combination of the two. Therefore, we have three sets of nine; thirty (counting shevarim-teruah as two). The "Shlah" (Rabbi who wrote on the customs) (SA 592:3-4) was stringent and had the custom (which is our custom as well) of blowing 30 sounds for "Malchiot, Zichronot and Shofrot" (the three blessings in Musaf) and added ten to complete 100 sounds (for esoteric reasons).

The Shevarim - Teruah, are generally counted as two sounds (in counting the thirty). Halachically, although the Shevarim - Teruah could be counted as one when the congregation is seated, (SA 590:16): however, because the Shevarim and Teruah, are each counted separately in the other two series. the Teruah and Shevarim are counted as two in the counting of thirty, we therefore count them separately. (SA 592:4), where all the hundred sounds are enumerated, and the Teruah and Shevarim are clearly counted as two sounds, in counting the hundred sounds; the custom mentioned in the "Shlah." Accessed 12/26/01. E-mail by (Ezra Bick)

A weak or elderly person may lean on a shtender or a table during these sets of tekios. (SA 585:2)

A person who is in dire circumstances (a patient in the hospital, a shut-in; etc.) and is unable to hear (or blow) thirty blasts, should try to hear (or blow) 10 sounds, one tekiya, shevarim-teruah, and one tekiya, three times. No blessing, however, is recited over these blasts.

This order is repeated on the second day of Rosh ha-Shanah. If the first day falls on Sabbath (the second day never falls on that day), the shofar-blowing is dispensed with, and the words "day of blowing" throughout the liturgy are changed to "memorial of blowing." The reason given for the omission of the shofar ceremony on Sabbath is the apprehension lest the ba'al toḳe'a might carry his shofar in public premises to an expert for instruction, the carrying of articles from private into public premises being forbidden on the Sabbath though permitted on a holy day. However, where there was an ordained bet din, such as the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem in the Temple period, when strict discipline prevailed, the shofar-blowing continued on the Sabbath-day. Even after the second day of Rosh ha-Shanah was introduced, R. Johanan b. Zakkai, under whom there was a regular bet din at Jabneh, permitted the blowing of the shofar on Sabbath (R. H. iv. 1, 2). Later, however, the practise was discontinued; but it appears that Alfasi, in the twelfth century, still permitted it under his bet din (Abudarham, ed. Venice, 1566, p. 100a).

The addition, originally a substitution, of the three flourishes sounded in the additional service was due to R. Simeon ben Gamaliel H., who in the middle of the second century prescribed the sounding of a flourish at the close of each section of that service. It seems that the sounds were taken by the Roman authorities in Palestine for military signals (they may have resembled the calls of the imperial forces); for troops were sent to the synagogues in the early morning to prevent any martial exercises; and many Jews were put to the sword before an explanation could be given. In succeeding years the flourishes were delayed until the congregations had been for some time assembled and were obviously occupied in religious exercises only (R. H. 32b). The sounding was eventually restored to its proper place in the morning service (the "sitting series"), but the additional flourishes (the "standing series") were also retained.

See Arthur L. Finkle, Repsonsa, 2000. See also [Shofar Sounders WebPage]

Technique: The Day of Sounding the Shofar

There is normal anxiety when you go to bed the night before and the day of Rosh Hashanah for a Shofar player. This obviously is normal for someone who will play in front of an entire congregation, many of whom you know personally.

After dressing, I usually play the Shofar for the first round of: Tekiah, Shevarim, Shevarim-Teruah, and Tekiah. Then, I stop.

When I attend services that day, I keep the Shofar hidden from the congregation by resting the Shofar under my arm. In this way, I warm the Shofar to my body temperature, a brass instrumentalist technique. I also try to buzz into a pretend mouthpiece, composed of my thumb and forefinger simulated as a mouthpiece. In I can, I may go to a private place to warm up a little, although I find privacy less and less. When you are ion the bimah, while the Torah and Haftorah are read, take several deep breaths to relax your body. I also will meditate by focusing my eyes on something in the synagogue . In one of synagogues where I play, I focus of a stain-glass window that depicts, two Shofars. Playing Problems

While many Shofar Sounders experience many problems, I treat the major complaints others have experienced and have asked me. The main problem is mental. Being in front of entire congregation without really warming up to play an ancient instrument one day a year is daunting. The main remedy to achieve mental acuity. Remedies include learning/Playing Paralysis; Zen mastery (Mental Aspect of playing.); claming you nerves; and the power of suggestion (positive thinking). Poor Attacks – have you ever hear d Shofar sounder blow in to the Shofar only to hear his air without any hint of a tone or note? This is a humiliating experience. Having experienced it myself, I have some suggestions:

1. Act as if nothing went worrying and replay the note again (MB 590:7, Notes 23-36), using another technique of lip placement, move the mouthpiece over your upper lip, change your attack by moving your tongue in another direction, or take a deep breath. Weak Stuffy Tone Weak, stuffy tone results from too little air used, too much pressure or a closed throat (when you play your voice box actually closes the back end of your mouth)

Bright Shrill Tone A bright shrill tone is not a problem. The Shofar acts more like a trumpet announcing something special. The herald effect of a shrill tone satisfies this function. A Changing Quality of Sound Changing quality of sound means that you have poor breath support, your is either too tongue arched or you have some other tonguing problem.

Slow Response

You blow but the note is not immediate in perfecting itself. If so, you are using too much mouthpiece pressure or you have poor breath support or your lips too tense.

Missed Notes

Avoid Panic When You Miss a Note

You should keep in mind that when your note comes out incorrectly, it is better to know what to do beforehand what adjustments to make so that you can readily adjust rather than panic (and believe me, everybody has experienced this). If your notes are not exact, ignore the mistake and go on to the next note. If you blow and no note comes forth, stop the attempt and place the mouthpiece on moist lips in a different place or on a different angle. If you persist, aim for the fundamental note and just sound it with no other accompanying notes. When your lips get acclimated to the vibrations, you can sound the other notes.

Poor Endurance Many, if not most Shofar sounders have a problem of endurance, particularly when they sound 100 notes. (Mishah Berurah 586:23, Note 88) I personally have a p problem when I sound the Shofar at more than three services. The reasons for lack of endurance may be using too much mouthpiece pressure; not sufficient practice; or the mouthpiece too big or deep. (Clint 'Pops' McLaughlin)

Shofar Gurgles

If your Shofar gurgles, you have spittle in the horn. The best remedy is to use a coffee brush or an aquarium brush to remove the spittle. In fact, after each section of the service in which the Shofar is sounded, you should clean the Shofar to avoid a spittle problem. Shofar Odors

Shofars do emit certain unpleasing odors. Allow an instrument to remain in an open air space after playing. Febreze is useful for deodorizing Shofars. Hydrogen peroxide could be applied in severe cases and it cleans the bell opening nicely. Be warned that it could dissolve the material in the mouthpiece area and hurt its performance. Vinegar, although it takes away one smell, it substitutes its own acrid smell and it “eats” the keratin.

Another method is to use ethyl alcohol because it rids the horn of debris, which causes odor, and it dries quickly via evaporation. You can also use ethyl alcohol to eliminate spittle that could severely compromise the sounds.

Mid-East Mfg. now has a functional synthetic Shofar that has no odor and it's attractive for display purposes as well.

See Arthur L. Finkle, Repsonsa, 2000. See also [Shofar Sounders WebPage]

In the Cabala.

Many reasons are assigned for the ceremony of shofar-blowing. Saadia Gaon (892-942) gives ten. The Cabala emphasizes the significance of the shofar and the teḳi'ot. Thus a certain midrash, citing "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound" (= "teru'ah"; Ps. lxxxix. 15), asks: "Do other peoples not know the joyful sound? Have they not many kinds of coronets, buccina, and salpidin [= σαλπιδες]?" and then answers: "But the Israelites know how to serenade their Creator with the teru'ah" (Pesiḳ., ed. Buber, p. 152a). The Zohar dwells on the word "know" as signifying in this midrash passage a secret knowledge and mysticism. The shofar represents the windpipe or the spiritual part of the body alongside the gullet, through which the food or the earthly part passes. The sound of the shofar awakens the Higher Mercy = "Raḥamim" (Zohar, Emor, p. 99b, and Pineḥas, p. 232a). The object of the second and third series of teḳi'ot is to bewilder and stagger Satan (R. H. 16b), who, at first imagining that the Jews are merely complying with the Law, is surprised by the second blowing, thinking perhaps that the Messiah is coming, and finally is dumfounded, expecting the Resurrection, with which his power will finally cease.

It is the custom to blow one teḳi'ah every day during the month of Elul except on the day preceding Rosh ha-Shanah (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 581). This is a later innovation. The author of "Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ" (13th cent.) quotes (§ 282; ed. Buber, p. 132b) a midrash and Pirḳe R. El. to the effect that on New Moon of the month of Elul, Moses ascended Mount Sinai to obtain the tablets of the Law for the second time, and that the shofar proclaimed this fact in order that the Israelites might not be again misled. Thenceforth the shofar was sounded annually on the eve of New Moon Day in Elul to commemorate the event, showing that originally the shofar was blown only on the first night of Elul (Vitry Maḥzor, p. 361).

At End of Yom Kippur and Other Uses.

The Ne'ilah service on Yom Kippur is ended with a single teḳi'ah. The Sephardim blow four calls: teḳi'ah, shebarim, teru'ah, teḳi'ah. This is not obligatory, but is a reminiscence of the shofar-blowing in the year of jubilee in the pre-exilic period (ib. p. 395).

The shofor was used also to arouse the people to repentance on fast-days (Ta'an. i. 6), which custom is still observed in Jerusalem in times of drought. The shofar has been from the most remote time the instrument by which an excommunication has been proclaimed. It is claimed that Barak used 400 shofars to excommunicate Meroz (Judges v. 23; M. Ḳ. 16a). The shofar was used at the announcement of a prohibition or a permission by the Rabbis (Niddah 40a). Among the paraphernalia of the bet din of R. Huna were: a rod to keep order; a strap for "malḳot"; a sandal for "ḥaliẓah"; and a shofar for excommunication (Sanh. 7b; see Rashi ad loc.). The shofar was sounded at funerals (M. Ḳ. 27b); and it was blown also when the ordained bet din announced the appearance of the new moon (Niddah 38a; see Rashi ad loc.).

On Friday afternoon six shofarot were blown at short intervals. At the first teḳi'ah the laborers in the field ceased work; at the second the stores closed and city labor ceased; and the third teḳi'ah was a signal to light the Sabbath candles. Then after a short pause the shofar sounded teḳi'ah, teru'ah, teḳi'ah, and Sabbath set in (Shab. 35b).

Bibliography: Maimonides, Yad, Shofar, i.-iii.; Shulḥan 'Aruk, 0raḥ Ḥayyim, 585-590; Cyrus Adler, in Jour, of American Oriental Society, Oct., 1889, p.clxxi.; Dembitz, Jewish Services in Synagogue and Home, pp. 319-322.

Forms of Modern Shofar.

In regard to the form of the modern shofar, the particular kind of curve which it presents is regarded as immaterial. It may be gradual, as in Fig. 12 in the accompanying illustration, although this shape is rarely met with. Among the Sephardim the shape preferred is the natural spiral of the ovine horn (generally favored by Orientals), as in Fig. 4, an example of the eighteenth century from Bagdad. The instrument from Aden (Fig. 1) is made from the horn of an African koodoo (Strepsiceros kudu), retaining its natural curve. TheAshkenazim prefer the simpler lituus shape (well known to the Romans, and used for their cavalry trumpet, being made of bronze), with the natural flatness of the horn accentuated by paring. Two shofarot found in England and believed to be ancient—one unearthed under the foundations of an old house in Leadenhall street, London (see "Cat. Anglo-Jew. Hist. Exh." No. 2); the other recovered from the Thames, off Vauxhall, together with a straight trumpet of ox-horn, at a spot which has yielded Celtic and Roman relics also (see "Jew. Chron." Feb. 6, 1903)—differ in no way from an average modern shofar of the lituus shape, save in having been less pared down, and so possessing greater thickness and weight.

The inferior limit of length is about six inches (comp. Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 586, 10); but the instrument varies from eight to thirty inches in length (the horn of the koodoo is four feet long), the majority of examples averaging fourteen or fifteen inches, like the two middle horns of the illustration.

There were those who sounded the shofar for its music (R. H. 33b); but the Rabbis found it necessary to make provision for one who could not finish the series of calls (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 585, 3), and for incomplete sounds, since the manipulation of the horn is of a very rough and empiric character. The embouchure, or mouthpiece, in particular, follows no standard in shape or size; and there exist horns which even the most skilful executaut can sound only in certain positions, and then only with particular tensions of the lips. After the tip of the horn has been removed a roughly cylindrical bore of very narrow section is gouged down to the natural hollow. The exterior is then made smooth by scraping; and the horn, after being softened by soaking in hot water, is gradually brought to the desired shape. The interior having been trimmed and smoothed, the broad end is cut level, and usually carved along the edges in a rough coronet. The exterior is sometimes ornamented with carving, either geometric or including an inscription (comp. Fig. 3 in the illustration). The mouthpiece is formed by forcibly expanding the heated cut edge of the tip, or narrow end, considerable skill being necessary to overcome the tendency of the softened horn to split and so to spoil the shofar. A conoid of more or less oval base outline is arrived at; and, the edges having been rubbed smooth, the instrument is complete.

Variability of the Sounds

The traditional preference for the lituus or (image) shape is due to the type of bore of the shofar classing it as a member of the trumpet, rather than the bugle, family. Its shrill and incisive tones similarly define its character.

Duration of the Notes

Some authorities indicate that each sound is geenerally similar in duration as the others, excpet the tekiah gedolah. Mishnah Berurah 590:2 There are other authorities who rule to extend the shevarim somewhat, provided he does not extend the note too long.

However, the Mishnah Berurah rules that, if one wishes to extend the t sound considerably, a Baal Tekiah should have no compunction, as there is no maximum length for this sound. May also extend teruah sound as long as wishes. Mishnah Berurah 590:2 4) R. Karo and the Chofetz Chaim agree that the tekiyah should equal the teruah MB 590:2 (5). There is a cintinued discussion of the Tosfos, the Tur, Rashi and the Mordechai about the extention of the shevarim. However, the Rabbi’s generally rule that the shevarim is equal to the teruah and the tekiah. (Mishnah Berurah 592:2 (3) 5) In one breath because one makes of teruah sound stated in Torah. Therefore sound not be divided in two sounds. Majority of Poskim rule that this requirement is ruled as essential even after the event. Stringent

6) It is unnecessary to make the combined shevarim-teruah sounds in one breath because people do not make groans and yelps in one breath. See BY and Bach who rule that one breath after the event, is valid. But they prefer in two breaths.

7) other authorities say one breath

Reason that the Torah meant the teruah to be sounded in one breath. Therefore, no interrupt sh and ter - even if after the event.

8) But 2 breaths while the cong standing . . . in those congregations which do the malkuyot, zichronot and shoferot with ten blasts each. 9) In localities where practice to do one breath, should continue to do so

10) When two breaths, make sure the interval is not more than one breath. And one interval after sounding these two note, the baal kriah will l say ter-shevarim in one breath; then tekiah

See Arthur L. Finkle, Responsa, 2001. See also Shofar Sounders WebPage

Notes and Signals.

The notes producible on any wind-instrument vary according to the division of the contained column of air into aliquot lengths, dependent on the particular tension of the player's vibrating lips. Modern brass instruments consist of a tube of considerable length, perfectly smooth and symmetrical, and are sounded through a regular mouthpiece of constant proportions. The shofar is a short tube, always somewhat rough and irregular internally, and it is sounded through a mouthpiece of indefinite shape. Hence no two shofarot necessarily produce notes of the same pitch, or same position in the harmonic series. Indeed, shofarot usually produce only two, or possibly three—very rarely four—sounds of their series, as against the five obtainable with the bugle or the ten with the trumpet. Of eleven shofarot examined together by the writer, the varying pitch covered six different keys. Five sounded the interval of the fifth (d:s); four, that of the octave (d:d'); one, that of the fourth (s:d'); and one—the clearest in tone and easiest to manipulate—that of the sixth (s:m'). Of three which happened to be pitched alike, in the key of A, one sounded E:E' (third and sixth partials of the harmonic range), another A:E' (fourth and sixth partials), and the last E:A (third and fourth partials). But while the two notes may thus differ, two forms of sounding them in succession have been recognized from time immemorial. When, however, the shofar and the silver trumpets were sounded together in the Temple they were not necessarily tuned in unison; but the ancient ear listened for the rhythm and figure of the sounding rather than for its actual notes, a distinction now to be noticed in some military calls differing in tune according as set for the trumpet or for the bugle. Hence the confused tradition, mentioned above, concerning the middle "call" of the three which together constitute a "flourish."

On a shofar sounding the interval of the fifth and pitched in the key of G the shofar-calls would be as follows:

Early Notation.

Attempts at noting the traditional calls aim, like the early notations alike of the church plain-song and of the synagogue Cantillation, at representing their duration and outline only, by means of strokes of particular length and shape. Such neumes are to be found in the "Siddur" of R. Amram (ed. Warsaw, 1865, p. 45b), in a late fourteenth-century manuscript (Codex Shem, No. 74, in the Parma Library), and in Juan de Gara's small Maḥzor (p. 190, Venice, 1587). The Parma notation, entitled in the manuscript in question "Simani Noti," is reproduced in Sulzer, "Shir Ẓiyyon," ii. 153, as follows:

Bibliography: C. Adler, in Proc. United States National Museum, xvi. 287-301; idem, Report United States National Museum, 1892, pp. 437-450; 1896, p. 976; F. L. Cohen, in Jew. Chron. Sept. 8, 1893, p. 11; Sept. 28, 1894, p. 17; Sept. 1, 1899, p. 25; Sept. 13, 1901, p. 16.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

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