Talmidei Shel Aharon
02-5767 Mitzvah 30
October 23, 2006
Mitzvah 30 – It is a positive commandment to hear the sound of the Shofar (rams horn) on the first day of Tishrei which is Rosh Hashana
Hafetz Hayyim: As the Torah says: “it shall be for you a day of blowing the horn” (Num. 29:1). The Shofar is the horn of a sheep, which is curved; other kinds of Shofar are not acceptable. One has the duty to hear nine sounds on Rosh Hashana : three times, the series tekia-terua-tekia. We are not certain, however, what the teruah should be; and therefore we blow three times tikiah, shevarim teruah tekiah:; three times; tekiah shevarim tekiah; and then three times: tekiah teruah tekiah so as to be free from any doubt. It is in effect at all times and it every place for males but not for females.
One would think that Blowing the Shofar would be a rather simple affair. One should take the horn of a Ram, hollow it out and then blow on it for Rosh Hashana. There are just two notes. There is the long clear blast of the Tekiah, and the staccato of the Teruah. The problem is, nobody is quite sure what a teruah sounds like. Are the notes very short or only short compared to the tekiah. We know the teruah was the sound of warning but what did the warning sound like? To resolve the issue, the Shevarim was created, three medium notes and then the Teruah became nine staccato notes. We do one set of nine with Tekiah-shevarim-tekiah to cover one possibility and nine notes of tekiah-teruah-tekiah to cover the other possibility. We begin with nine notes of tekiah-shevarim/teruah-tekiah to show that the middle two notes are the same. This entire set is called as if it were 27 notes but it represents 30 sounds (after all there really are 4 notes in the first set) During the Musaf on Rosh Hashana, the three sections of the Amidah, the Malchuyot, the Zichronot and Shofrot sections are divided by nine Shofar blasts (which are really 10) giving us a total of 60 sounds of the Shofar. The Talmud will later insist that we hear 100 blasts of the Shofar so many communities add another 40 notes into the middle of the final Kaddish Shalem to round out the count. The Tekiah Gedolah, the “great tekiah” is just a longer tekiah and has no added significance other than it marks the end of the first set and the final set.
There are two blessings that are recited by the Baal Tekiah (the Shofar player) The blessing for sounding the Shofar and the Shehechiyanu.
A Shofar can be made from the horn of a ram, either wild or domesticated, or from the horn of any kosher animal. The horn of a cow or ox cannot be used. It must be long enough to hold in your hand and the ends stick out of both sides. It can not be cracked or changed in anyway that would affect its sound. The reason that a Ram’s horn is preferred is because it reminds us of the binding of Isaac and the ram that was sacrificed in his place.
The Shofar is not sounded on Shabbat because of the fear that one would carry it on Shabbat..
As far as Conservative Judaism is concerned, since women are required to hear the sound of the Shofar, they are also permitted to sound the Shofar.
Questions: From Eitan Konigsburg: The name “Talmidai shel Aharon” is in “smichut” form and is therefore grammatically incorrect. It should be either “Talmidai Aharon” or Talmidav Shel Aharon”
Rabbi Replies: You are correct, it is a mistake. Thank you for catching it. The name of the list will have to be “Talmidav shel Aharon” since that is how it reads in Pirke Avot, the reference I was alluding to when I put the format together.
Question: from B. Horowitz: (In our last lesson,)Why does the Torah specify 7 COMPLETE weeks for the Omer. It doesn’t say 7 complete days for Shabbat or 7 complete months from Pesach, etc. Is there an explanation for this discrepancy? Rabbi Replies: Rashi teaches that the word “complete” implies that we begin our count in the evening (this is from the Sifra) otherwise they would not be complete. Rabbi Eli Munk compares it to a process of purification that our ancestors performed between the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Law at Sinai. Just as a woman’s purification needs 7 “complete” days, so too did our ancestors need seven “complete” weeks.