A. A Shofar with a hole that is not patched:
Some Poskim rule that a Shofar that contains a hole on its side is valid to use for blowing on Rosh Hashanah. Other Poskim rule that the Shofar is invalid [unless it is properly patched as explained in the next Halacha]. Practically if another Shofar is available one may not use this Shofar. However if no other Shofar is available then it may be used. This allowance applies even if the sound of the Shofar has changed due to the hole. [This allowance applies even if the hole is within one Tefach from the narrow hole of the Shofar. However it only applies if majority of the Shofar remains intact. If however majority of the Shofar length contains a hole then it is invalid even after the fact. If the Shofar has a hole which covers majority of its circumference in that area then it is required to have Shiur Shofar (8 cm) remain from the narrow end until the hole for the Shofar to remain Kosher.]
A Shofar that has a hole on its side may only be used if there is no other Shofar available. Even then it is only valid if the hole does not cover majority of the length of the Shofar and if the hole covers majority of the circumference of that area then there must be 8 cm. from the narrow end of the Shofar until the hole.
Must one check a Shofar in water to verify it does not contain a hole?
Some are stringent to do so in order to verify that it does not contain any hole at all.
Is the Shofar initially valid if it has a very small hole?
If the sound of the Shofar has changed then the Shofar is initially invalid as explained above. If the sound has not changed then this matter is disputed in Poskim and it is proper to initially be stringent.
B. A Shofar with a patched hole:
A Shofar that contains a patched hole is only initially valid to be used if it was patched with similar horn material and the patch does not envelop majority of the [length of the] Shofar and the sound of the Shofar is the same as it was originally before it received the hole [or is the same as it was before it was patched]. If however these three conditions are not fulfilled the Shofar is invalid. Nevertheless in a time of need such as when there is no other Shofar available one may be lenient so long as [the patch does not envelop majority of the length of the Shofar] and one of the other two conditions are fulfilled, such as one used horn material to patch the horn, or the sound remains the same as it was originally.
If the hole or crack was patched it may only be used if the following three conditions are all fulfilled:
- The patching is of horn material
- The patching does not make up majority of the Shofar
- The sound of the Shofar has not changed due to the patch.
In time of need, one may use the Shofar if condition 2 and either condition 1 or 3 are fulfilled. If condition 2 is not fulfilled the Shofar is invalid even in a time of need.
May one place his finger on a Shofar that contains a hole while blowing it?
If one is using a Shofar that contains a hole it is best not to cover it with one’s finger while blowing.
If the hole of the Shofar in the narrow end is too large and prevents one from blowing properly may one narrow the hole by inserting material inside?
C. A crack in the length:
A Shofar that contains a crack along its length may not to be used even if the crack is very small in size. If there is no other Shofar available then if the crack extends to only a minority of the length of the Shofar it may be used. [However if later on another Shofar becomes available then one is to re-blow the sounds without a blessing.] [If however the crack extends throughout majority of the length of the Shofar, it is invalid and hence may not be used even if there is no other Shofar available. This applies even if a Tefach remains from the narrow end until the crack.]
Tying a string around the crack: If the Shofar is only cracked in minority of its length it can be fixed and validated through tying a string very strongly around the area of the crack. [If however the crack extends to majority of the length of the Shofar tying the area does not validate it.]
If there is a crack in the Shofar’s length it may not be used unless there is no other Shofar available or one tied a string strongly around the area of the crack. [Bedieved if one used such a Shofar he is to repeat the blows if an valid Shofar becomes available.] If the crack extends through the majority of the Shofar’s length, it is invalid and may not be used even if no other Shofar is available.
What is the law if the crack does not extend through the full thickness of the Shofar?
An external crack that has not penetrated the thickness of the Shofar from one side to the other is not considered a crack at all and the Shofar hence remains initially valid. [Nevertheless care must be taken not to bang the Shofar as doing so can cause the crack to penetrate to the other side.]
What is the law if the Shofar is slightly cracked on its upper lip by the wide end?
One is not initially to use such a Shofar as explained above. However some Poskim rule that Bedieved if such a Shofar was used one is not required to repeat the blows. Furthermore, some rule that if this Shofar is easier to blow than other Shofros that are available, then it may be used even initially.
What is the law if the Shofar is slightly chipped at its ends?
If the Shofar is chipped at one of its ends, as commonly occurs by the narrow end in the area of the lips, then one is initially to fix it prior to R”H. Nevertheless if one did not do so the Shofar remains valid.
If after the blowing one noticed a small crack must he redo the sounds that were blown?
This matter requires further analysis. See next Q&A!
If the Shofar cracked and became invalid in the process of blowing what is one to do?
All the blows that were sounded until the crack occurred are valid. However the current blow in which the Shofar cracked in is only valid if one stopped blowing as soon as the crack occurred. If however one continued blowing then that sound is invalid. It goes without saying that if the Shofar was used after the invalidating crack occurred, all the sounds that were blown from that point and on are invalid.
D. A crack in the width:
A Shofar that contains a crack along its width, around its circumference, remains valid if the crack extends to only a minority area of that circumference while majority of that circumference remains intact. This applies even if the sound of the Shofar has altered due to the crack. If the crack extends throughout majority of that circumference then one is required to measure from the end of the Shofar that is entered into ones mouth until the area of the crack and if there is one Tefach [8 cm] in length from that end until the crack the Shofar remains valid. This applies even if the sound of the Shofar has altered due to the crack. If there remains less than a Tefach from that end until the crack then [since the crack extends through the majority of that circumference] it is invalid. This invalidation applies even if the sound of the Shofar did not alter due to the crack.
If there is a crack in the width of a Shofar then if from the crack until the mouth of the Shofar [in which one places his lips] there remains 8 cm, the Shofar remains Kosher. If there remains less than 8 cm then if the crack extends through the majority of the circumference of that area of the Shofar, it is invalid.
E. Is there a way to fix the crack?
One can fix and validate a crack through gluing or welding it together. [This applies whether the crack extends through minority of the Shofar’s length or majority of the Shofar’s length, nevertheless if one glued or welded the crack it is valid. If however the crack extends throughout the entire length of the Shofar then even if it is glued or welded together it is invalid. This invalidation applies even if there is only one full crack on the Shofar.] Nevertheless when using glue, the glue must be placed in a way that it is not recognizable on the Shofar. If however the glue is recognizable, such as if the crack is very wide and hence there is a hole being covered with glue then it is considered as if its hole has been patched with a non-horn material in which case the Shofar is initially invalid as explained in Halacha B.
The crack can be fixed by gluing or welding it together. This applies even if the crack extends to majority of the length of the Shofar, although not to a case that the crack extends throughout the entire length of one side of the Shofar. Likewise glue is only valid if it is not recognizable within the crack.
F. A Shofar that was made through welding together pieces of horn:
If one glued [or welded] many pieces of Shofar together and made it into a complete Shofar, it is invalid. This applies even if the Shofar contains a single piece of horn which is a Tefach in length from the narrow end of the Shofar.
The job of the Rav:
The Rav of the town is responsible for checking prior to R”H that the Shofar is valid without any question or doubts of cracks and chips and the like.
 Michaber 586/7; This Halacha is missing from the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch; Gemara R”H 27b
 Michaber ibid; The Michaber ibid rules like the Yerushalmi that if the hole was not stuffed or patched with material then it remains valid to use for blowing on Rosh Hashanah.
 This is in contrast to a crack which receives different laws. [Taz 586/8] See Halacha C!
 Kol Bo and Teshuvos Harosh [Klal 24/8] brought in Rama ibid forbid using a Shofar with a hole that was not patched up. [See Kaf Hachaim 586/53] So rules also Ritva brought in kaf Hachaim 586/52
The reason: The reason for the stringent opinion is because the sound of the Shofar is damaged when it has a hole. [M”A 586/8 based on Kol Bo; Elya Raba 586/10; Chayeh Adam 140/11; M”E 586/10] Another reason recorded for invalidating a Shofar with a hole is that just like Hashem blows with a complete Shofar similarly our Shofar is to also be complete without holes. [Yifei Laleiv 2/1 based on Pesikta brought in Kaf Hachaim 586/55; Biur Hagr”a; Rokeiach 203; Sheivet Halevy 8/133]
If a Tefach remains of the Shofar remains without a hole: This stringent opinion prohibits the Shofar even if there is one Tefach remaining from the hole until the narrow end of the Shofar. [M”A 586/8 based on Kol Bo; Elya Raba 586/10; Chayeh Adam 140/11; M”E 586/10]
The law if the sound of the Shofar did not change: It is implied from the Rama, Rosh and the first explanation in the Kol Bo, that the Shofar is invalid even if one knows that the sound did not become damaged and even if a Tefach has remained. Practically one must initially be stringent in this matter. [Kaf Hachaim 586/52, 53, 54] Some are accustomed based on this stringency to check whether a Shofar has a hole by placing it in water. [See Sheivet Halevi ibid] However some Poskim rule that if the sound did not change due to the hole then it may be used according to all, even initially. [M”B 586/28; Sheivet Halevy 8/133; Piskeiy Teshuvos 586/6]
 Rama ibid
If the sound did not change: This stringency applies even if the sound of the Shofar did not change and even if there is a Tefach remaining from the narrow end until the hole [Kaf Hachaim ibid], although some Poskim are lenient. [See previous footnote]
A small hole: Based on the above stringent opinion of the Kaf Hachaim ibid even if the hole is very small and the sound has thus not changed the Shofar should not be initially used. This certainly applies according to the reason recorded above from the Peskita. See Sheivet Halevy ibid
 Rama ibid
Ruling of Sefaradim: The Michaber rules that it is valid even initially to use this Shofar even if other Shofars are available. Practically even Sefaradim are to be stringent in this matter like the Rama. This especially applies regarding Shofar being that it is a positive command and one thus should try to fulfill his obligation according to all opinions. [Kaf Hachaim 586/52-53]
 Michaber ibid
The reason: The reason for this is because all sounds that come out of a Shofar are valid. [M”B 586/27; Kaf Hachaim 586/51 in name of Tur and Yerushalmi] In truth however this matter is disputed amongst Poskim as the Ritva rules that if the sound changed the Shofar is invalid. Practically in any event Lechatchilah we do not allow using the Shofar even if the sound did not change, although when no other Shofar is available one may use it even if its sound changed. [Kaf Hachaim 586/52]
 Taz 586/7 based on Reim brought in Beis Yosef; Elya Raba 586/10; Peri Chadash; Meaning that even if there does not remain the minimum Shiur of a Shofar from the area of the hole, nevertheless it remains Kosher. [M”B 586/27]
 Peri Chadash; Bach; Kneses Hagedola 586/6; brought in Peri Megadim 586 M.Z 7; M”B 586/27; Kaf Hachaim 586/52; This applies even if there is a Shiur Shofar remaining from the narrow end until the hole, nevertheless if majority of the Shofar’s length contains a hole it is invalid. [Shaareiy Tziyon 586/55] See Biur Halacha “Af Al Piy” for a discussion on this matter and the novelties he concludes.
 Peri Chadash ibid; Shaareiy Tziyon 586/56
 See Sheivet Halevi 8/133
 This follows the stringent ruling of the Kaf Hachaim 586/53-54 that the Shofar is initially invalid if it has a hole even if the sound has not changed. See footnotes above.
 See Kaf Hachaim 586/53-54; footnotes ibid regarding the law if the sound did not change according to the stringent opinion.
 Michaber 686/7; This Halacha is missing in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch
The Gemara R.H. 27b brings the Mishnah which states that if one sealed the hole of the Shofar and the sound altered the Shofar is invalid. The Gemara then brings Rebbe Nasan who rules a Shofar that contains a patched hole that was sealed with horn material is valid while if it was sealed with non-horn material it is invalid. The Rambam rules that this statement of Rav Nasan is in addition to the condition of the Mishnah and hence even when the sound has not changed it is only valid if the seal is a horn material. However the Rosh rules that Rebbe Nasan’s statement is an alternative to the Mishnah’s condition and hence whether the Shofar was sealed with horn material it is valid even if the sound changed and if its sound has not changed it is valid even if it was sealed with non-horn material. Nevertheless the Gemara establishes that the Shofar must always contain a majority of its length intact. The Michaber rules like the Rambam although he rules one may be lenient like the Rosh in a time of need. [Taz 586/6; M”B 586/26; Kaf Hachaim 586/50]
Other Opinions: The Peri Chadash is lenient even Lechatchilah like this opinion of the Rosh although the Achronim negate his view. [Kaf Hachaim 586/59]
 If however it was patched with other material, the Shofar is initially invalid even if the sound of the Shofar has not changed and the patch does not cover majority of the Shofar. [Michaber ibid] The reason for this is because its sound is a result of two different materials one of them being a material that is invalid for Shofar. [M”B 586/29]
Must the horn material be of the same species of horn as the Shofar? Some Poskim rule that the material is only considered the same material if it is the same species of horn. Thus a hole in a ram horn must be patched with material from a ram’s horn. However it is not necessary for the horn material to be taken from that same horn, and rather any ram horn suffices for the making of this material. [Leket Yosher p. 125; Piskeiy Teshuvos 586 footnote 17]
A very small hole: Some Poskim rule that a very small hole may be patched even with non-horn material since it is not recognizable and is considered like Min Bemino. [Peri Megadim brought in Biur Halacha 586 “Afilu”]
 M”B 586/32; Kaf Hachaim 586/58; This means that majority of the length of the Shofar is not made of patched material.
 The Reason: The reason for why majority of the length must be the original Shofar is because otherwise it is similar to a Shofar that was made through welding together many pieces and the sound that comes out of the Shofar is considered the sound of a Shofar and of also non-Shofar material. This applies even if there remains a Shiur Tefach from the narrow end of the Shofar until the patched hole. [Taz 586/9; M”B 586/31] On the other hand if majority of the length is not patched then it is valid even if the patched hole is within one Tefach from the narrow hole of the Shofar. [Kaf Hachaim 586/58]
 This means that the sound has not altered at all, neither for better or worse. [Ritva brought in Kaf Hachaim 586/63] If one is in doubt whether the sound of the Shofar has altered from its original form then some [Ritva] rule the Shofar is invalid although others [Erech Hashulchan 586/6] rule it remains valid as we assume the sound has returned to its original state unless one hears otherwise. [Kaf Hachaim 586/63] The Mishneh Berurah 586/36 rules like the Ritvah that one is to be stringent.
 M”B 586/30
 Thus even if one already blew with a Shofar that does not fulfill all three conditions, if another Shofar becomes a available he is to blow again without a blessing even if the first Shofar fulfilled two of the three conditions. [Elya Raba 586/11; Peri Megadim 586 A.A. 9; M”B 586/34] This is unlike the Levush which rules one may be lenient Bedieved if only two conditions were fulfilled. [Kaf Hachaim 586/60]
This invalidation applies even if the sound of the Shofar did not change from the way it was prior to the hole. [Peri Chadash; Kaf Hachaim 586/57]
May one remove the patching on Yom Tov? It is forbidden to remove the filling from the hole if it is tightly inserted. [M”A 586/9] If however the filling is loose then it may be removed, although even in such a case we are stringent like the Rama not to initially use the Shofar if other Shofar’s are available. [Kaf Hachaim 586/61]
 This condition is required even in a time of need and hence the leniency applies only regarding whether one must fulfill both of the other two conditions. Thus even if the Shofar was filled with horn material and its sound has not altered from its original form, if the majority of the length is made of the filling, its invalid even in a time of need. [Elya Raba 586/11; Peri Megadim 586 M.Z. 6; M”B 586/31 and 36 based on Gemara Rosh Hashanah 27b]
 Although the sound has changed. [Michaber ibid]
 Although one used non-horn material to patch the hole. [Michaber ibid]
 Kitzei Hamateh 586/12
 As if the sound is altered due to this the blow is invalid, as explained above.
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 586/6 in name of Yad Yitzchak 3/48
If minority of the Shofar cracked along its length while majority of it remained intact and one did not fix the cracked area through gluing or welding it together there are opinions which rule that the Shofar remains Kosher. This applies even if a Tefach of length does not remain from the start of the crack until the mouth of the Shofar that is placed in ones mouth, as it is similar to the law of a Shofar with a hole. Others however rule the Shofar is invalid being that the crack will eventually spread until it reaches the entire length of the Shofar. Thus even the smallest crack in the length of the Shofar renders it invalid being it is no longer considered a Shofar as it will eventually completely crack. This is not similar to a Shofar with a hole as the hole allows the sound to escape and hence the hole is not pressured by the sound to spread further. However by a crack being that no part of the Shofar is missing it does not give the sound an area to escape and this sound pressures the crack to spread until the Shofar is fully cracked. Practically Admur concludes that one is to be stringent like the latter opinion although in a time of need when there is no other Shofar available one may be lenient like the first opinion. [ibid]
 This applies even if the Shofar does not contain a Tefach from the narrow end until the crack. [M”A 586/12 and so is implied from Admur which does not mention this stipulation]
Bedieved if one blew with a cracked Shofar: If one blew with a Shofar that contains a minority crack then if another Shofar becomes available one is to blow again without a blessing. [Birkeiy Yosef 586/11; M”B 586/43; Kaf Hachaim 586/76]
 Birkeiy Yosef ibid; M”B ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid
 Michaber 586/8 that even according to the lenient opinion if majority is cracked it is invalid.
Other opinions: It is implied from the Mordechai; Aguda; Smak, Tosafus that even if majority has cracked it is valid so long as it has not cracked from end to end. [Elya Raba brought in Shaareiy Tziyon 586/76]
Bedieved if one blew with such a Shofar: One is to blow again from a valid Shofar but without a blessing in order to suspect for the other opinions. [Shaareiy Tziyon 586/79]
 Mateh Efraim brought in Shaareiy Tziyon 586/74
 As this prevents the crack from spreading to majority of the length [Admur ibid] and hence it would be valid even according to the second opinion mentioned in Admur. [see background]
Must a Shiur of a Tefach remain from the narrow end until the string? The Rama [586/8] stipulates that it is only valid to use a string if there remains a full measurement of 8 cm from the narrow end until the crack. The Levush explains the reason for this is because otherwise the sound of the Shofar comes as a result of the string and not as a result of the Shofar, and so rules the Nahar Shalom and Kaf Hachaim 586/73. However the Taz 586/12 argues that if the sound of the Shofar did not change there is no need for there to be a Tefach from the narrow end until the string. [See also M”A 586/11 who questions the Rama] So rules also Elya Raba 586/14; Peri Chadash; M”B 586/40 and many other Achronim. If the sound changed then if there is 8 cm from the narrow end until the crack the Taz ibid and Elya Raba are lenient to validate the Shofar although the Peri Chadash and Nehar Shalom are stringent. [Shaareiy Tziyon 586/72; Peri Megadim 586 M.Z. 12] Regarding the opinion of Admur in the above: Admur omitted both stipulations; he does not stipulate that there must be a Tefach remaining as rules the Rama and he also does not stipulate that the sound of the Shofar may not change. This does not follow any of the opinions above.
 M”B 586/44 in name of Peri Megadim; Mateh Efraim and Chayeh Adam
 M”B 586/38
 Sheivet Halevy 8/133; As the Poskim ibid do not differentiate between where the crack occurred and hence one must be stringent initially.
 Beis Av 83; Sdei Chemed R”H 2/33; Sheivet Halevi ibid based on Ritva R”H 27a
 The reason: As we see through experience that a small crack on the top does not cause it to continuously crack and thus the entire reason of the stringent opinion above is inapplicable. Thus perhaps the above Poskim that are stringent only referred to a crack on the narrow end. [ibid]
 Yabia Omer 5/42
 M”E 586/17; Kaf Hachaim 586/68
 Elya Raba 586/12; Chayeh Adam 140/15 brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid
The reason: As only a crack has suspicion of spreading, however a mere chip will not spread. [ibid]
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that a chipped Shofar has the same status as a cracked Shofar [and even worse] and is hence initially invalid unless another Shofar is not available. [brought in Elya Raba 586/12; Kaf Hachaim ibid; See also M”E ibid that is stringent unless there isn’t such a good Shofar available.]
 Birkeiy Yosef 586/10 in name of Mahriy Malko 98; Shaareiy Teshuvah 586/2 ; Kaf Hachaim 586/25
 This is based on the Yerushalmi that rules the entire sound must be valid from beginning to end, as rules in Admur 590/10 and 592/8
 Meaning that we measure the minority versus majority in the area of circumference that the crack is positioned. Hence a small crack on the narrow end of the Shofar may be the majority of the circumference of that area and hence invalidate the Shofar, while a large crack on the wide end of the Shofar may be minority of the circumference of that area and hence still remain valid.
 This applies even if the crack does not contain any missing pieces from the Shofar and hence the sound has no room to escape through the crack, nevertheless it is valid as sound does not pressure the width of an item but rather its length and hence the crack will not further spread due to the pressure of the sound. [ibid] This is unlike the previous case in which according to some opinions even a minor crack in its length is invalid due to the pressure of the sound which causes it to spread.
 Meaning even if the Shofar sounded different prior to the crack occurring and hence this crack has caused an altered sound in the Shofar nevertheless it is valid being that all sounds are valid for a Shofar. [ibid]
 This is the minimum length required for a Shofar to be Kosher. [ibid]
 The reason: Now although the sound of the Shofar is protruding from the area that is above the crack [and the area above the crack is considered cut off] nevertheless we do not invalidate the sound due to it coming as a result of a Kosher Shofar and external source or due to it being the sound of two Shofros. The reason for this is because when the Shofar was originally produced this area was connected to the main part of the Shofar and was never separated from it, therefore both areas [above and below the crack are] considered like one Shofar in this regard to not invalidate it on the pretense that it is like two Shofros. Nevertheless we do not consider it like one Shofar for all matters and hence with regards to measuring the length, the area above the crack is not included in the measurement being that the crack extends throughout majority of the circumference. [ibid]
 Meaning even if the Shofar sounded different prior to the crack occurring and hence this crack has caused an altered sound in the Shofar nevertheless it is valid being that all sounds are valid for a Shofar. [ibid]
 The reason: As since majority of the circumference has cracked it is considered as if it has been completely cut off from that area, and hence it is considered that one has a Shofar which does not meet the minimum required length. [ibid]
 586/7-8; Parts of this Halacha are missing in Admur and hence they have been supplemented from the Michaber; Rama and commentaries.
 The reason why gluing is valid and is not considered a non-horn material of which initially invalidates the Shofar, is because the glue is not recognizable within the crack. [M”A 586/14 in name of Tur; Rosh; Levush]
Other Opinions: The Michaber 586/8 brings the opinion of the Ramban that rules glue is invalid and only welding the crack together suffices. Their reasoning is because glue is considered a non-horn material and thus has the same law as a patched hole, explained in Halacha B. [M”A 586/79] Practically the main opinion follows the first opinion mentioned in the Michaber. [Elya Raba and other Achronim] although if the sound of the Shofar has changed one should be stringent
 Admur 586/8 implies that if the minority crack has been welded or glued then according to all opinions the Shofar is valid.
Other Opinions: The Beis Yosef writes that it is implied from the Ran that according to the opinion that invalidates a minority crack it would not help even to glue [or weld] the crack together, and so rules Peri Chadash. The Kaf Hachaim 586/78 concludes one is to be stringent and not initially use a Shofar that has a crack even if it was glued. However see Shaareiy Tziyon 586/84 which differentiates between if the sound changed or not and that if the sound did not change it may be used even initially.
 M”A 586/13 based on Rabbeinu Yerucham; Rosh; Tosafus; However see other opinions mentioned in the previous footnote.
 Michaber 586/8 as once the Shofar has cracked in its entire length it is no longer considered a Shofar. [Beis Yosef; Levush; M”B 586/48] As a Shofar is from the term Shoferes which implies a hollow tube and once there is a full crack it is no longer a tube. [Shaareiy Tziyon 586/85 in name of Levush] The M”A 586/16 however writes the reason for the invalidation is because the Shofar is considered like two Shofros. The Birkeiy Yosef 586/12 and P”M 586 A.A. 16 question this explanation of the M”A on the basis that when there is a crack on only one side it is not considered two Shofros.
 Meaning that even if the Shofar contains one crack throughout its entire length it is invalid even with glue and it is not required for there to be a crack on each side. [Birkeiy Yosef ibid; see previous footnote]
 As such a Shofar is not Halachicly considered a Shofar. [ibid]
 Meaning even if one welded pieces of horn to a Kosher Shofar which was at least one Tefach in length, in order to increase its size, nevertheless the Shofar becomes invalid due to these additional pieces. The reason for this is because the sound of the Shofar protrudes through the broken pieces and the Torah validated only the sound which protrudes from a single Shofar and not from two Shofros. [ibid]
 Alef Hamagen 586/32