Number of Daily Shofar Blasts

Number of Daily Shofar Blasts

Blasting Horn 21-48 Times a Day

Arthur L. Finkle

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During Daf Yomi shiur, I came across the blasting of a trumpet, which could be interpreted as a shofar. 21 to 48 times a Day. See Arakhin 11a-b.  This is also cited in the Mish Shabbos 35.

Succah 31b (Palestinian) gives a social history of the role of the shofar in the Holy Temple, with particular emphasis on Succot.

Indeed, the shofar was sounded in the Temple every day from 21 to 48 times: three times to accompany the opening of the Temple Courtyard Gates; 9-blasts to accompany the morning offering; another 9-blasts to accompany the afternoon sacrifice; 9 for the musaf offering.

On days when there was an additional sacrifice (Musaf), commemorating New Moons, festivals, and other special days, another 9-blasts were added.

Prior to the Sabbath, on Friday, the shofar sounded 6-blasts. The first three blasts for cessation of labor to prepare for the Sabbath. The latter three sounds to separate the sacred from the profane in order to officially begin the Sabbath.

If a Friday fell during the Succot festival, there were a total of 48 blasts.

3=opening of the Courtyard Gates

3=Upper Gate

3=Lower Gate

3=for the filling of water from the spring of Siloam

3=when the water willow branches were placed by the altar

9=morning tamid offering

9=afternoon offering

9=additional offering for special days

3=to tell people to cease labor

3= distinguish between the Sacred and profane.

temple 2nd model

Notes in the Talmud tell us that blowing the trumpets at a sacrificial services is derived from Num. 10:10

And a day of your joy and on your festivals and on your Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) days, you shall sound the trumpets over your olah (burnt sacrifice) offerings and over your shelamim (peace sacrifices) offerings, etc.

After the procession marched to the Lower Gate, it drew water for the libation from the well spring of Siloam. See Rashi. The Rabbi’s interpret this verse to include the daily sacrifice (Zevech Todah to Tamid, Ch 7; Minchas Chimnuch 384:7)

The Rabbi’s also point out that 3-blasts were omitted, when climbing down the steps to the Woman’s Courtyard.

In the next Gemora, the Rabbi’s explain that the writer of the prior Mishnah was different from the writer of the second Mishnah. Accordingly there is an unresolved dispute. It turns out that one Tanna cites three blasts on the tenth step in Mishnah; the second, the three blasts are at the side of the altar. Nevertheless, they agreed on the 48 blasts. (Succah, Yersush. 31a)


Sounding Shofar During Morning Services During Elul

Sounding Shofar During Morning Services During Elul

Arthur L. Finkle

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The Code of Jewish Law (Shulhan Arukh, I28:8) instructs that the shofar be sounded in the period between rosh hodesh (new month) Elul until after Yom Kippur. The religious rationale was that Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the second tablets; dwelt there for 40 days; and descended on the tenth of Tishre, when the Israelites completed atonement for creating the Golden Calf. The musi­cal rationale is that a forty-day period provided the necessary practice for the Shofar Sounder to develop the appropriate embouchure.

The religious rationale come from the Midrash (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer 45; R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (80-118 C.E.), a disciple of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai and teacher of Rabbi Akiva):

[During the Jews’ first year in the desert,] they received the [Ten] Commandments on the sixth of the month [of Sivan], [and then] Moshe forty days on the mountain studying, [and then] on the seventeenth of [the month of] Tammuz he came down and broke the Tablets. [Forty days later] on Rosh Chodesh Elul, HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to him “Come up to Me on the mountain” (Devarim 10:1), and an [announcement through blowing] shofar was spread throughout the camp, [saying] that “Moshe has gone up on the mountain!” – so that they would not be [led] astray after strange worship [once] again, and [the honor of] HaKadosh Baruch Hu was uplifted through that shofar [blowing], as it says (Tehillim 47:6) “G-d rises up at [the blowing of] the shofar.” Accordingly, the Sages instituted that shofar be blown each and every year on Rosh Chodesh Elul [the authorities’ text – unlike ours which says “Tishrei” (from here on are the words of the Tur and the Rosh – possibly their text to the Midrash itself)] and [throughout] the entire month, in order to urge Israel that they do teshuvah [i.e. “return to Hashem” (repent)], as it says (Amos 3:6), “If a shofar shall be blown in a city [can it be that the inhabitants will not be shaken?],” and in order to confuse the Satan [i.e. angel of Heavenly prosecution].

In rabbinic commentaries, the Rosh (1250 – 1327) ruled: ‘it is the Ashkenazi minhag (custom) to blow [shofar] throughout the month of Elul, morning and evening, after the prayer [services].”

The Code of Jewish Law of 1665 (with glosses 1797) brings a variation – blowing only after the morning service (Shacharis). The Mishnah Berurah, an update of religious laws in the Code of Jewish Law, (dated approximately 1900) confirms the accepted custom. See http://www.learnhalacha.com/ElulShofar.pdf


The musical rationale is what any instrumentalist would do preparatory to a performance. See Arthur L. Finkle, The  Easy Guide to Shofar Sounding, LA: Torah Aura, 2003


Shofar Classes at 2013 Aleph Kallah in New Hampshire

A workshop on “The Still Small Voice of Shofar” is being offered at the Aleph Kallah to be held 2013-July-1 to 7 at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH. Eight hours of shofar-related instruction is included, as well as a performance by a shofar choir.

As described in the Kallah brochure, “Shofar echoes throughout time — from the breath of Creation to trumpeting the final redemption. Holy texts describe our ancestors using shofarot to communicate with God, warriors and laborers, to hold oil for anointing and wine for drinking, and to mark fasts and seasons of joy. Calling in both masculine and feminine voices, shofar unifies the Four Worlds. We will reclaim shofar as a technology for prayer, meditation, tikkun olam, music, and ritual. In time for Elul and High Holy Days, you will craft shofarot and learn to sound them, deepen your hearing, and prepare to serve the community as master blasters.”

The class will be lead by Michael Chusid. He has taught shofar at American Jewish University, Hebrew Union College, Limmud, Cactus Kallah, and many synagogues and havurot. Reb Zalman calls Michael Chusid “the mouthpiece of the shofar.” He is author of Hearing Shofar: The Still Small Voice of the Ram’s Horn and blogs at www.HearingShofar.com

Aleph is the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Kallah is an international gathering that aspires to illumine and explore an aspect of our relationship to what is holy. More information is at www.aleph.org/kallah.htm.

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Our Man in London

Malcolm Miller is making plans for a shofar event in London during Elul. He brings a wealth of shofar wisdom to Shofar Corps as a professional musicologist. He is the author of several papers on shofar and has composed and presented several musical compositions that feature shofar. He has also organized shofar events for the Jewish Museum in London.


Shofar during the “Off-Season”

What does a shofarist do the rest of the year, after sounding shofar throughout Elul and the Days of Awe? Here is what some Shofar Corp members have been doing to continue hearing the call of the ram’s horn:

CANTOR DANIEL PINCUS has been engaged by The Jewish Center of North West Jersey to lead a six-month shofar program to prepare a new group of shofarists, with in-person visits and videoconferences for distance learning.

MAURICE KAMINS visited Israel and met with Rabbi Natan Slifkin, author of  Exotic Shofars, presenting him with four shofarot that Maurice had fashioned from American Bison, Prong Horned Antelope, Sable Antelope and Scimitar Oryx. In addition, he gave a workshop in Visalia, CA on the shofar, and continues to make both exotic as well as traditional shofarot (see sable antelope shofarot in photo below).


ART FINKLE taught 12 students from a Conservative synagogue and two Rabbis to sound shofar. He also conferred with Rabbi Avrohom Reit, author of Teka BeShofar: A Shofar Blowing Manual, wrote a Responsa about the halachah (Jewish Law) of repairing shofarot, and researched and published a work on the Jewish Laws of Shofar. He continues to steep in Talmud, participating in Daf Yomi and studying other tractates.

MICHAEL CHUSID continues to write about shofar at www.HearingShofar.blogspot.com and to edit a video of a shofar symposium held during the past year’s International Day of Shofar Study. He also taught classes on shofar at the Cactus Kallah in Tucson, AZ.

How do you stay in contact with shofar during the “off season”? Write and let us know.


Buglers Across America

There is a way for you to keep giving of your spirit and talents to the broader American civic world – become a bugler and volunteer for Buglers Across America. There is a bugler shortage, and BAA is working to fill the need for buglers at funerals of veterans. There will be millions of military funerals in the near future, and there is a need. Know that buglers can receive honoraria, so there some money can be made. In this economy, that is no small matter. Also, you can play taps at unveilings conducted by your rabbi and cantor.

Visit them at http://www.buglesacrossamerica.org/Home.aspx

By the way, becoming a bugler will help your shofar playing no end. You will be in good lip all year round.


Online Forum to Discuss Shofar

caption=Topics being discussed.

Organizers of International Day of Shofar Study announce the formation of an online Forum for discussions about shofar. The forum is at http://shofarcorps.proboards.com and is open to the public.

The first International Day of Shofar Study started an avalanche of emails among participants, eager to continue learning about shofar and networking with other enthusiasts. Email is great for quick messages to a few individuals, but not a practical way for large groups to follow and discuss multiple topics. Another limitation about email dialogs is that they are not available for study or reference by additional interested parties.

The Forum is easy to use, and includes online help. If additional assistance is required, contact info@




“Shofar Addicts” gather in Los Angeles

It was like the beginning of a meeting for a 12-step program. One by one, they said their names, where they live and how they became addicted … to playing the shofar.

Shofarist David Zasloff, Photo by Rico Mandel.

That’s the provocative, but accurate introduction to an article in the Jewish Journal, about the recent International Day of Shofar Study event in Los Angeles.

Informal shofar classes for the public will be offered throughout the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 11 at Shalom House, 19740 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. For more information, call (818) 704-7100 or visit shofarcorps.org.


Monmouth County NJ Shofaron A Big Success

Richard Sachs, long-time French horn player and shofarist, “went for it” when Cantor Dan Pincus suggested that he convene a Shofaron at his temple.  A new tradition was born that night for Monmouth County Jewry.  Take a look at this article in the New Jersey Jewish News:



Yashar Koach, Rich.    As you said, the kids would not have taken their shofarot out of the closet so early were it not for International Day of Shofar Study on Rosh Chodesh Elul, which Shofar Corps. declared.

Outstanding  job, what with the post-Hurricane Irene power outage at your temple.


Elul Shofar FlashMob

The following is not organized or sponsored by International Day of Shofar Study, but seems to share many of the same goals:

Join a global project at the nexus of sound, spirit and technology! On September 18th, Art Kibbutz NYC will host the greatest Shofar-blowing event since Sinai, a worldwide art performance that takes the Jewish tradition of sounding the Shofar daily during the Hebrew month of Elul…and gives it a 21st century, postmodern twist.

Action: Join a large group of artists and creative volunteers on September 18th who will blow the shofar together at a designated public space for 2 minutes as a call for teshuvah (return). This is the first-ever FlashMob utilizing a Shofar. Your action will be synchronized with other FlashMob teams around the world. This creative event will be documented and incorporated into an artistic, Rosh Hashana electronic greeting card, orchestrated by a composer. This is your chance to learn how to use the instrument and make a teruah gedolah (huge blast) that will rouse the heavens, and make Jews around the world, the international media and passers-by tremble.

See: http://shofarflashmob.weebly.com/