I am a woman and recently bought a Shofar which I have been blowing for myself throughout the month of Elul. Am I allowed to also blow on Rosh Hashanah on behalf of myself and others, if I’m not able to make it a shul.
Although it is best for a woman to hear shofar from a man rather than from a woman, including herself, nonetheless, from the letter of the law she may blow shofar on her behalf or on behalf of other women, and you may even initially do so if you are not able to make it to Shul. You may not however blow on behalf of a man. Of course, even when blowing on behalf of yourself or other women, it is necessary to properly study the laws of shofar blowing, and learn how to properly blow the sounds in a valid manner, in order to fulfill one’s obligation.
Explanation: It is a clear ruling in the Talmud and Poskim that although women are exempt from the time dependent command of shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah, nonetheless, it is permitted for them to blow on their own behalf, and that it is likewise permitted for men to blow for them. Now, in regards to the question as from whom it is better for a woman to hear shofar; from a man or another woman such as her blowing on behalf of herself, so we find deficiencies in either approach. If a man blows on behalf of the woman, perhaps it is considered that they are blowing for no need being that in truth women are not obligated in the mitzvah, and so indeed rule some Poskim that it is forbidden for a man to blow on behalf of a woman. Now, although we do not rule like this opinion, nonetheless, perhaps it is proper to suspect for it initially and have a woman blow on her own behalf rather than have a man blow the shofar for her, and perhaps it is for this reason that the Shulchan Aruch first mentions the option of a woman blowing on her own behalf and only afterwards mentions the option of a man blowing for her. On the other hand, the famous Gaon the Shaagas Aryeh argues that there is also a deficiency involved in having a woman blow on behalf of herself or other women, as according to the opinion Rebbe Yehuda as ruled by some Rishonim [i.e. Rif] it is forbidden for a woman to blow the shofar on behalf of herself being that it is forbidden to blow shofar on Shabbos or Yom Tov unless there is a mitzvah involved, and being that women are not obligated to hear shofar it therefore does not involve a mitzvah. However, even in their opinion, men may blow shofar on behalf of a woman being that they are obligated in the mitzvah on that day and it is hence not considered a forbidden form of blow. Practically, the Poskim conclude that initially it is better for a woman to hear from a man whose anyways blowing on behalf of himself or other men, and if not possible, then it is better for a man to blow for her then for her to blow for herself, and only if no men are available should she blow for herself.
Sources: See regarding if women desire to blow Shofar, they may do so and blow for themselves or have a man blow for them: Admur 589:2; Michaber 589:6; R”H 33a as rules Rebbe Yossi and Rebbe Shimon; Rabbeinu Tam; Ran; Rosh there; Beis Yosef 589; Piskeiy Teshuvos 589:2; See Kaf Hachaim 589:22; See regarding that despite the above, initially a woman should not blow even for herself: Shaagas Aryeh 104-105; Machazik Bracha 589:4; Shaareiy Teshuvah 589; Kaf Hachaim 589:26; See regarding the issues with having a man blow on behalf of a woman: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden for men to blow the Shofar on behalf of only women as it is forbidden to blow the Shofar for no need. [Baal Hitur brought in Tur 589; Peri Chadash; See M”E 589:12] The Kaf Hachaim 589:27 concludes that since there are Achronim that agree to the ruling of the Peri Chadash the custom therefore is that women come to Shul to hear Shofar and only in a case of need do we blow for them outside of Shul.