Blowing the Shofar in Elul

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Blowing the Shofar:[1]

It is the custom of Ashkenazi[2] Jewry to blow Shofar throughout the month if Elul.[3]

On which day of Rosh Chodesh does one begin to blow?[4] Some Poskim[5] rule one is to begin to blow the Shofar from the first day of Rosh Chodesh which is the 30th of Av. Other Poskim[6] rule one is to begin blowing Shofar from the second day of Rosh Chodesh which is the first of Elul. [Practically the Chabad custom is to blow the Shofar for practice on the first day of Rosh Chodesh and from the second day and onwards one begins the regular order of blows until Erev Rosh Hashanah.[7] When the first day of Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos, there is no need to practice blowing the Shofar on Erev Rosh Chodesh, even according to our custom.[8]]

How many sounds are blown and when?[9] The Chabad custom is that from the second day and onwards one blows nine blows [Tashrat, Tashat, Tarat].[10]

When is the Shofar blown?[11] The Shofar is blown daily following Shacharis [and the daily recital of Tehillim, with exception to Shabbos in which it is forbidden to sound the Shofar]. [It is customary to blow the Shofar also during children’s gatherings.]

One who makes a mistake in blowing:[12] If one made a mistake during the blow there is no need to repeat it, as these blows are merely a custom.

Erev Rosh Hashanah:[13] One does not blow the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah.[14] This applies beginning from the night of Erev Rosh Hashanah [the night of the 29th of Elul].[15] This applies even when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos.[16] It is forbidden to blow the Shofar, even for practice, in an open area.[17] One is however allowed to practice blowing the Shofar in a closed room.[18] [This applies whether one is learning how to blow or is trying to get used to blowing from a new Shofar.[19] However one may not blow the Shofar for no reason even in a closed room.[20]]

 

Summary:

It is the custom of Ashkenazi Jewry to blow Shofar throughout the month if Elul. One begins to blow the Shofar for practice on the first day of Rosh Chodesh. From the second day and onwards, one blows nine blows [Tashrat, Tashat, Tarat] following Shacharis and the daily recital of Tehillim. One does not blow Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah unless one is blowing for practice in a closed room.

 

Q&A

If one is praying without a Minyan is he to blow Shofar after Shacharis?[21]

There are opinions[22] which write that the institution to blow Shofar in the month of Elul was only established in regards to a Minyan, however a person praying privately is not required to blow.

 

What is a congregation to do if they did not blow the Shofar after Shacharis?[23]       

The Shofar is to be blown after Mincha.

 

May one blow Shofar at night?[24]

Some Poskim[25] rule one is not to blow the Shofar at night, even for practice, being the Tekios arouse the supernal attributes which is not to be done during the night. From other Poskim[26] however it is evident that one may do so even at night.

 

Must one stand when hearing the blows?[27]

There is no source for such an obligation although practically the custom is to do so.

 

May one stop in middle of Shemoneh Esrei in order to hear the Tekios?[28]

Yes.

 

Does one fulfill the above custom of hearing Shofar in Elul through hearing the recording of a Shofar blowing?[29]

No. One is required to hear the live sound of a person blowing a physical Shofar in order to fulfill this custom.[30]

 

 

 

Sparks Of Chassidus

The meaning behind blowing the Shofar in Elul:[31]

The Tur writes that the blowing of Shofar in Elul is practiced in order to arouse one to repent, as the sound of the Shofar brings one to trepidation. This explanation falls in context with the general service of Elul which is to arouse fear of G-D and acceptance of Him as our King. The Tzemach Tzedek explains that this level of fear aroused through the Shofar is a preparation for a higher level of fear which is revealed on Rosh Hashanah through blowing the Shofar. The difference between the two levels of fear is as follows: Both levels of fear of G-d bring one to not allow himself to rebel against G-d’s wishes, neither in though speech or action. However in the lower level of fear ones desires for those actions which defy His will still remain, however the fear affects him to control the desire and overcome it. However in the higher level of fear one desires nothing that is against G-d’s will, and thus has completely nullified every part of his existence towards G-d, even his desires.  In Chassidic terminology the lower level of fear is called ביטול היש [an existence which nullifies], as one still retains his personal existence and desires, and it’s just that he nullifies it from being expressed. The higher level of fear is called ביטול במציאות [nullification of one’s existence] as one’s entire existence is nullified. It is to this level of fear that the lower level of fear prepares one for in the month of Elul through the blowing of the Shofar.

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[1] Rama 581:1

Background:

The Rosh in his conclusion of Tractate Rosh Hashanah records the Pirkeiy Direbbe Eliezer 46 that on Rosh Chodesh Elul Moshe ascended to heaven to receive the 2nd tablets. On that day they blew the Shofar proclaiming Moshe’s ascent to the public so they do not make another calculation mistake as they did by the golden calf. Due to this the Sages instituted that every year one is to blow Shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul for the purpose of arousing the people to repent and in order to confuse the Satan. The Rosh then concludes: This is the custom in Ashkenaz-to blow the Shofar in the morning and evening after prayers. The Tur 581 quotes his father and then writes “and there are those that increase in Selichos from Rosh Chodesh Elul”. In the Shulchan Aruch the Michaber 581:1 records only this latter custom of the Tur regarding saying Selichos and does not mention the blowing of the Shofar. The Rama however negates the custom of Selichos in Ashkenaz and states that they are rather accustomed to blow Shofar. From the wording of the Rama it implies that in exchange for the saying of Selichos throughout the month, the Ashkenazim blow Shofar. Perhaps the meaning behind this is that all Jewry begins to do some form of spiritual preparation in the month of Elul, the Sefaradim with the saying of Selichos, and the Ashkenazim with the blowing of the Shofar.

[2] Rama ibid; Rosh ibid; Tur ibid

Do Sefardim also blow Shofar during Elul? It is not the Sefaradi custom to blow Shofar after prayer during Elul. This follows the second opinion of the Tur which implies that those which increase in Selichos during Elul do not follow the custom of blowing the Shofar. This is implied from the Rama [and lack of mention of Michaber] that this custom only applies to Ashkenazim and not to Sefaradim. Nevertheless there are some Sefaradim that are accustomed to blow Shofar during their recital of Selichos in order to follow both opinions. [Kaf Hachaim 581:13] See Aruch Hashulchan 581:1 that writes all Jews are accustomed to blow Shofar during the month of Elul.

[3] The reason behind blowing Shofar in Elul:

  1. On Rosh Chodesh Elul Moshe ascended to heaven to receive the 2nd tablets and on that day they blew the Shofar proclaiming Moshe’s ascent to the public. Due to this the Sages instituted that every year one is to blow Shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul. [See Background from Pirkei Derebbee Eliezer] This however only explains why we blow Shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul, however the reason for why we blow the entire month, even after Rosh Chodesh Elul, is due to the reasons brought next. [Perisha on Tur ibid] However it is possible to learn in the Tur that due to this occurrence in the times of Moshe the Sages themselves instituted that we blow the Shofar every day n Elul. This however is not the wording in Pirkei Derebbe Eliezer ibid, as well is not the way the Perisha explains the Tur. See also Pirush Haradal on Pirkei Derebbe Eliezer who says perhaps such a Girsa existed in the Pirkei Derebbe Eliezer of the Tur.
  2. Blowing Shofar arouses fear of G-d, and leads one to repentance. [Tur ibid; Kitzur SHU”A 128:2]
  3. The verse states “Blow Shofar [for a] month”. [M”A 581:2; 28 days in Elul, as on Erev RH we don’t blow, and 2 days of RH for a total of 30-Levushei Serud]
  4. Blowing Shofar refrains the Satan from prosecuting the Jewish people, as he recalls the day in which the great Shofar will be blown which is the date of his prosecution and death. [Hosafos Rav Nechemia Medovrana p. 1362 in SH”A Admur]
  5. Blowing Shofar confuses the Satan in regards to the date of Rosh Hashanah. [Hosafos Rav Nechemia Medovrana p. 1362 in SH”A Admur]

[4] Background:

The Rama simply writes that we blow the Shofar from Rosh Chodesh Elul, and does not specify if this is in reference to the first or second day of Rosh Chodesh. The Magen Avraham [581:2] brings two opinions in regards to which day one is to begin to blow. The Levush, Shalah, Mateh Moshe, Maharil and other Poskim rule that one is to begin blowing from the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, as that day begins the count of 40 days before Yom Kippur, on which Moshe ascended the mountain to receive the second Tablets [and on that day the Shofar was blown in order so all the people know the day he ascended, and prevent a similar mistake to that of the golden calf. For this reason the Sages instituted to blow every year on Rosh Chodesh Elul. {Rav Nechmeia Dubravna}] Hence they hold the reason for blowing Shofar is in preparation for Yom Kippur, which we see from Moshe, began on the 1st day of Rosh Chodesh. Others however begin from the 2nd day of Rosh Chodesh, as they hold that the entire concern of blowing Shofar in Elul is that there be exactly 30 days of blowing Shofar, in living with the verse “Blow Shofar [for a] month” [M”A ibid; 28 days in Elul, as on Erev RH we don’t blow, and 2 days of RH for a total of 30-Levushei Serud]. The M”A himself suggests an alternative reason for beginning to blow on the 2nd day of Rosh Chodesh, as in truth Moshe ascended the mountain on the 2nd day of Rosh Chodesh, and that year Elul was a full 30 day month.

The final ruling: The Taz [581:1] rules that we begin blowing from the first day. The M”A ibid rules that many are accustomed to blow from the second day of Rosh Chodesh and one should not move from this custom. [See Kaf Hachaim 581:17 that M”A means to say that each one is to hold to his custom and so writes the P”M 581 A”A 2.] Practically this is the custom today. Nevertheless in a place where there is no accepted custom one should begin blowing from the 1st day of Rosh Chodesh, as this is the main ruling. [Rav Nechemia Dubravna in name of Eliyahu Raba] The Rebbe Rayatz directed that one is to blow the Shofar on the 1st day of Rosh Chodesh as mere practice, while on the 2nd day one begins to blow as normal. This is a compromise between the two opinions brought above. As we do blow on the 1st day of Rosh Chodesh, hence satisfying the opinions which require this, and as well do not blow the common blows, hence satisfying the opinions which don’t require it. [Likkutei Sichos 33 Elul] Many Poskim record both customs and do not arbitrate as to which custom one is to follow. [Chayeh Adam 138:1; M”E 581:7; M”B 581:3; Kaf Hachaim 581:17; See Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 7]

[5] First opinion in M”A ibid in name of Levush; Shlah; Mateh Moshe; Maharil; and so rules Taz ibid; Mishmeres Shalom 41:2

[6] Second opinion in M”A ibid recorded in Chayeh Adam 138:1; M”E 581:7; M”B 581:3

[7] Sefer Haminhagim p. 113 [English edition]; Hayom Yom 30th Menachem Av. This ruling is a directive of the Rebbe Rayatz.

[8] Likkutei Sichos 34 p. ??

[9] Sefer Haminhagim p. 113 [English Edition]; Custom in Bach 592 based on Aruch; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 690; Likkutei Sichos 2:446; See Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 7

Background:

The Bach 592 writes that based on the opinion of the Aruch [regarding blowing Tashrat-Tarat-Tashat in Musaf-See “The laws of Shofar” chapter 4:5] one is to blow 9 blows in order so people not think that one fulfills the obligation with less than these nine blows. He however concludes that the custom is not to do so possibly due to that they hold like the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam that argues on the Aruch [regarding the blows in Musaf and says one is only to blow Tashrat three times]. In Likkutei Sichos 2:446 the Rebbe states that the ten sounds correspond to the ten soul powers.

Other opinions: The custom of most communities is to only blow Tashrat. [Bach ibid based on Rabbeinu Tam; Kitzur SH”A 128:2; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:3 ]

[10] The reason: One is to blow a total of nine blows in the order of Tashrat, Tashat, Tarat in order so people do not think that one fulfills the obligation with less than these nine blows. [Bach ibid] This follows the ruling of Admur in 592:5 that the best custom to follow is the custom of Aruch by Musaf and so rules Admur in the Siddur.

[11] Rama ibid.

Blowing at night: The Rama records that there are places that likewise blow the Shofar at night. [Rama 581:1] This is not our custom today. [Aruch Hashulchan 581:1]

[12] 590:19 regarding blows of after Musaf

[13] Rama 581:3 in name of Minhagim; Hashlama of Reb Nechemia 581:2

[14] The reasons:

  1. To make a separation between the Tekios of the custom and those Biblically required on Rosh Hashanah. [Levush 581:1; Taz 581:4; M”A 581:14; Hashlama of Reb Nechemia 581:2]
  2. To confuse the Satan so he think that R”H has already passed. [M”A ibid in name of Minhagim; Elya Raba 581; Hashlama of Reb Nechemia 581:2]
  3. To be able to say Shehechiyanu on the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. [Chochmas Shlomo 581; Ashel Avraham 581]
  4. To show that the next day is Rosh Hashanah. [Chochmas Shlomo 581]

The practical ramification-Blowing at home: The M”A ibid writes that according to the first reason one may blow the Shofar for practice in the privacy of his home. However according to the second reason of the Minhagim one must completely avoid blowing the Shofar at all. 

[15] M”A 581:14

[16] M”B 581:24; Kaf Hachaim 581:77

The reason: As by reciting the words “Zichron Teruah” on Shabbos it is considered as if the Shofar was blown. This especially applies due to the fact that in the Mikdash the Shofar was blown. [ibid]

[17] M”A ibid; P”M 581 A”A 14

[18] Elya Raba 581:4 in name of Amrakel; First opinion in M”A 581:14; P”M 581 A”A 14; M”B 581:24; Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 2 [“One who needs to practice is to do so in a closed room or in a pit”]; Hashlama of Reb Nechemia 581:2

Other opinions: The M”A ibid writes that according to the reason that this custom is done in order to confuse the Satan, then one may not blow at all. This implies that one may not blow even for practice and even in a closed room. However from the P”M ibid and M”B ibid it implies that even according to this reason in a closed room it is permitted to blow for practice.

[19] Kaf Hachaim 581:76

[20] So is implied from Poskim ibid to suspect for the second reason of the Minhagim as rules the M”A ibid.

[21] Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:3

[22] Tzitz Eliezer 12:48

[23]  Hisvadyos 1991 4:314 [printed in Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 5:66; Shulchan Menachem 3:74]; Igros Moshe 4:21; See Chayeh Adam 1338:1; See also Rama 581:1 that there are places which blow also by Maariv.

[24] Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:3

[25] Aruch Hashulchan 581:12, Igros Moshe 4:21 explains that this does not contradict the Rama which says that some would blow after “Arevis” as here it refers to an early arvis, which is prayed while it is still day.

[26] Kaf Hachaim 581:13, and Mateh Efraim 581:7

[27] Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:3

[28] Piskeiy Teshuvos 581 footnote 27

[29] Sichas Balak 7th Tammuz 1984

[30] The reason: “Even the sounding of the Shofar in Elul, which is only to arouse Teshuvah, is not to be heard from a recorder as since it needs to arouse ones feelings of Teshuvah therefore it has to be done through a person, as words that come from the heart enter the heart”

[31] Mamar Ani Lidodi 1974

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