Laws & Guidelines for blowing Shofar on Mivtzaim with emphasis on Covid-19 related laws
The following Chapter is a compilation of the relevant laws that have been written throughout our sefer and website article which are especially applicable to Mivtzaim. For the full details on the subjects discussed below, please refer to our Sefer or website!
Knowing the Halachos:
One who takes the great initiative of going on Mivtzaim on Rosh Hashanah and blowing Shofar for other Jews is certainly doing a great deed. Nevertheless, to ensure that the Mitzvah is done properly the person blowing must be aware of the Halachas involved in blowing Shofar. The following is a list of laws that one must know:
1. Who may blow?
Men below 18: On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, a man cannot be Yotzei the blowing of Shofar with the blowing of another man unless that man is above age 18 or has grown a nice amount of facial hair. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, a man may be Yotzei the blowing of Shofar with the blowing of a boy above Bar Mitzvah even if the boy is under age 18 and has not begun to grow facial hair. Nonetheless, initially, it is proper to be Yotzei the Shofar of even the second day through a man who is above age 18 or has grown facial hair. See Chapter 10 Halacha *2!
Women? Women may blow Shofar with a blessing on behalf of themselves or another woman. However, they may not blow on behalf of another man or even a male child. Furthermore, it is best for a man to blow Shofar for a woman rather than have a woman blow for herself or for another woman. Nevertheless, from the letter of the law she may do so.
Directives for Mivtzaim:
When performing Mivtza Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, precedence should always be given to a Bochur above age 18 or with facial hair, to perform the blowing. This applies on both days of Rosh Hashanah, but especially on the first day when blowing for men. Thus, it is proper for those below age 18 or without facial hair to partner up with one above 18 or with facial hair, who can blow the Shofar. If this is not possible, then so long as one is over Bar Mitzvah he may blow Shofar on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, and blow Shofar for woman on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Furthermore, if the boy in truth knows that he has developed the growth of two pubic hairs, he may blow Shofar for men on even the first day of Rosh Hashanah, if there is no other choice available and they would not hear Shofar otherwise. He should not be discouraged from doing so, and meriting other Jews with this great Mitzvah.
2. Who to blow for:
One is to blow for men, women and children who have reached the age of Chinuch [i.e. ages 6-7 and older]. Nevertheless, blowing for a man takes precedence over blowing for a woman.
3. Is the Shofar Kosher?
One must verify that the Shofar is Halachicly valid. This means that:
- It must be purchased under a reliable Hashgacha to verify it comes from a valid animal.
- One must check that it does not contain cracks or holes that can invalidate it.
See Chapter 1 for the full details of these laws.
4. How to hold the Shofar:
The Shofar needs to be placed on one’s lips when he blows. If feasible, it is proper to blow the Shofar from the right side of one’s mouth. It is proper to position the mouth of the Shofar facing upwards as opposed to having its mouth point towards the side. See Chapter 2 Halacha 10 for the full details of this subject!
Covid-19 Halacha notices: It is permitted for one to blow the Shofar with the opening pointing downwards for the sake of avoiding the spread of the virus. While initially one is certainly not to do so in a normal year, it is valid Bedieved, and certainly may be followed even initially to avoid the spread of Covid.
5. Blowing with a mask-Covid-19 Halacha:
One may not blow the Shofar through a mask, and is hence to remove the mask prior to blowing. In a time of need, one can blow by inserting the Shofar under the mask that is on his face. However, one may not blow with a mask on the opening of the Shofar. This applies even if one makes sure that the mask material does not enter the inside of the Shofar, and is externally attached from the outside.
6. How many sounds must one blow?
Initially one is to blow 30 blows Tashrat 3x, Tarat 3x and Tashat 3x for each and every group of individuals. If one is unable to do so then some Rabbanim permit one to blow Tashrat three times having in mind by the Shevarim Teruah that whichever is not correct is considered like the voice of an animal, not being done for the sake of a Mitzvah. See Chapter 3 Halacha 1 for the full details of this subject!
7. How long is each sound to be?
The Tekiah of Tashrat is to be at least 18 Terumatin long. The Tekiah of Tashat and Tarat is to be at least nine Terumatin long. Each Shever is to be exactly three Terumatin long. One is to blow at least nine Terumatin in the Teruah. One may lengthen the Tekiah as much as he desires. One may blow as many Terumatin as he desires within the Teruah blow. One is not to blow more than three Shevarim although some are accustomed to adding a small sound after the three Shevarim and so is the Chabad custom. See Chapter 3 Halacha 7 for the full details of this subject!
8. When to take breaths:
One must take a breath between each blow. Each individual blow must be done in one breath. The Shevarim- Teruah of Tashrat is to be done in one breath, although making a small break between the Shevarim and Teruah. In Musaf the Shevarim-Teruah of Tashrat is to be done in two breaths although one is not to delay more than the amount of a single breath between the two blows.
9. Mistakes-Blew the wrong sound:
Blew a Teruah instead of a Shevarim or vice versa: In all cases that one was supposed to blow a Teruah or Shevarim and instead he blew a Shevarim or Teruah [i.e. one blew a Shevarim inתר”ת instead of a Teruah, or a Teruah in תש”ת instead of a Shevarim] he must start again from the Tekiah of that particular set. [Each of the three groupings in תשר”ת/תש”ת/תר”ת is considered a set for a total of 9 sets] This applies even if one only began the wrong blow, and then remembered right away.
If in תשר”ת one began blowing the Teruah before blowing the Shevarim: If one began blowing the Teruah prior to finishing blowing the 3 blows of the Shevarim, then if it was all done in one breath he does not need to re-blow the Tekiah of that set. Rather he is to simply reblow the Shevarim-Teruah. If however one took a breath in between the Shevarim and Teruah, or began blowing a Teruah before even beginning the Shevarim, he must start again from the Tekiah of that particular set.
Blew an extra set of Teruah or Shevarim: In all cases that one is supposed to blow a Shevarim or Teruah and he blew a second set. Then if the first set was Halachically valid he must repeat from the first Tekiah of that set, if he took a breath between the two sets. This applies even if he did not complete the second set, such as he only blew one Shevarim or one Terumatin. If, however, one did not take a breath in between the two sets, or if the previous set was not Halachically valid then he may continue with the last Tekiah of that set.
10. Restarting an off pitched sound-If one blew a Teruah or Shevarim and stopped in middle, such as due to that the sound was not going well, may he restart the Teruah or Shevarim without repeating the first Tekiah?
If the ill sounding blow was Halachicly valid [i.e. contained the minimum required length according to even the first opinion in Halacha 7] and he then took a breath and blew a second time, he must repeat from the first Tekiah of that set. If, however, one did not take a breath in between the two blows, or if the previous blow was not Halachicly valid, then he may continue with the last Tekiah of that set. Thus, practically speaking, if one for example blew at least three Terumatin of a Teruah and it wasn’t blowing well and he took a breath and started again, then he is to begin again from the Tekiah of that set.
11. Who says the Bracha on Mivtzaim?
Blowing for other men: One who has already heard Shofar, or plans to fulfill the Mitzvah with a later blowing, should have the listener say the blessing. If, however the listener is a man and is unable to say the blessings himself then one may say both blessings for him. [On the second day when Rosh Hashanah does not fall on Shabbos, men of Sephardic origin do not say the Shehechiyanu blessing.]
Blowing for only Women: If one is blowing for only women, [then if the women are of Ashkenazi custom], she is allowed to say the blessings herself. If she cannot say the blessing herself one may not say the blessings for her. [If she follows the Sephardi custom, then she is not to make the blessing at all.]
See Chapter 2 Halacha 9 for the full details of this subject!
It is important to remind those hearing Shofar to have in mind to fulfill the Mitzvah of Shofar, as Mitzvahs require Kavana. See Chapter 2 Halacha 3 for the full details of this subject!
13. When is the Shofar to be blown?
Daytime: The Shofar may only be blown during the daytime of Rosh Hashanah. The entire day is valid for blowing Shofar.
From what time of day may one begin blowing Shofar? One may blow Shofar beginning from sunrise. If one blew before sunrise but after the beginning of dawn [Alos Hashachar] he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation and is not required to hear Shofar a second time. [Furthermore in a time of need one may even initially be lenient.] If one began blowing right before Alos and the sound continued past Alos, that sound is invalid. This applies even if it contained the minimum required sound from after Alos.
Until what time may one blow Shofar? One may blow Shofar until Tzeis Hakochavim. [Regarding if a blessing is made when blowing past sunset-See Q&A]
Blowing within the first three hours of the day: If one is blowing Shofar on Rosh Hashanah without a Minyan in order to fulfill the Mitzvah, he is to beware to delay the blowing of the Shofar until three hours have passed from the beginning of the day. [This is commensurate to Sof Zeman Kerias Shema. Thus, one should not blow Shofar until after Sof Zerman Kerias Shema. Some Poskim write that in today’s times it is proper not to blow the Shofar even with a Minyan until after three hours have passed. All the above however applies in a case that one will be able to blow or hear Shofar later on past the 3rd hour of the day. If, however, one may not have an opportunity to hear it later on, then certainly it may and should be blown prior to 3rd hour of the day. Accordingly, those doing Mivtza Shofar to merit as many Jews as possible in the Mitzvah may begin doing so from as early as sunrise. Likewise, those who need to eat before Shacharis due to medical reasons may blow the Shofar even within Zeman Kerias Shema for this purpose.]
One may blow Shofar from sunrise until Tzeis Hakochavim.
May one blow the Shofar past sunset?
One may blow Shofar after sunset until nightfall. After nightfall it is forbidden to blow the Shofar. Seemingly, this applies likewise on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah, that one may blow until nightfall.
Is a blessing recited? Some Poskim rule a blessing is not to be recited when blowing Shofar between sunset and Tzeis. Other Poskim rule that on the first day one may blow with a blessing between sunset and Tzeis. However, on the second day one must blow without a blessing.
14. Must the blower and listeners be in the same area/building/room?
One can be Yotzei Shofar even if he is not in the same area as the blower, so long as an echo is not sounded. Thus, a person can blow Shofar for a family from outside their home and have them be Yotzei by hearing the blows from inside. Likewise, people may stand outside the Shul and hear the blowing and be Yotzei. Likewise, the blower may stand outside the Shul and be Motzi those inside the Shul. Regarding if one can be Yotzei outside if the blowing is taking place in an underground, or basement Shul-see Q&A!
Background from Admur:
One is required to hear the pure sound of the Shofar blow without any echo. Therefore, one is not be Yotzei Shofar from an area that echoes even if they are positive, they heard the sound of the Shofar. Practically, the following areas are assumed to release an echo:
What areas are considered to give off an echo? One who is blowing inside a large barrel releases an echo both to those standing inside and outside. One who is blowing inside a pit or cave or one who is blowing inside a building that majority of its area is beneath the ground releases an echo only to those outside. (If, however, majority of the building is above the ground while minority of it is within the ground then it has the same status as a house [and does not release an echo at all].)
Hearing Shofar from outside a building: One who was standing outside the Shul and heard the Shofar being blown [and had in mind to fulfill his obligation] then if he is sure that he heard the sound of the Shofar and not of an echo, he is not required to be stringent upon himself and rehear the blowing. [This applies even if the windows of the Shul were closed.] However, if he is unsure whether he heard the sound of the Shofar or the sound of an echo then he is to rehear the blowing being it is possible that he heard the sound of the echo rather than the Shofar.
May one listen to Shofar outside a Shul which is within a basement or bunker [Miklat]?
Any building which is majority in the ground is assumed to release an echo to those outside and hence follow the same laws as stated above regarding a place that echoes. If, however, the basement has windows near its roof, and the windows are above ground, then it is questionable whether it releases an echo to those outside. Practically, due to this, it is proper that all the listeners of Shofar enter inside the Shul if the Shul is found in a basement or bunker. Nevertheless, by women there is room to be lenient to allow them to remain outside if the windows are open and they are sure they are hearing the sound of the Shofar and not the echo.
May one blow Shofar in a building that has acoustic ceilings?
This matter requires further analysis.
 Sefer Haminhagim: The Baal Tokeia is to review the Mamar, and this is of course in addition to being expert in the laws of blowing.
 Admur 589:2; Michaber 589:6; R”H 33a as rules Rebbe Yossi and Rebbe Shimon; Rabbeinu Tam; Ran; Rosh there; Beis Yosef 589; See Kaf Hachaim 589:22
The reason it is allowed for women to blow Shofar on Rosh Hashanah despite it being a Shvus: Although blowing Shofar on Shabbos or Yom Tov is forbidden if it is not done for the sake of the Mitzvah and women are not obligated in the Mitzvah nevertheless the Sages allowed women to blow it if they intend to do so for the sake of the Mitzvah. The reason for this is because this specific prohibition of blowing a Shofar is not an actual complete Shvus as it is merely forbidden due to Uvdin Dechol, thus for the sake of appeasing the women the Sages permitted this light Rabbinical matter. [589:2]
 M”E 589:8; Kaf Hachaim 589:15
 Halichos Beisa 15 footnote 91 in name of Rav SZ”A; Piskeiy Teshuvos 589:2
 Shaagas Aryeh 105; Machazik Bracha 589:4; Shaareiy Teshuvah 589; Kaf Hachaim 589:26
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 589:2
 The reason: As seemingly, the entire law of verifying the growth of two hairs by a Biblical command is for the person to initially be Yotzei, if however, in truth the boy has two hairs, then even if this was unbeknownst to the person, he is Yotzei Bedieved, in the eyes of Heaven, as in truth the boy is an adult! Now, although it’s possible to learn that until testimony is given regarding his development, he is considered a child even in the eyes of heaven regarding another person, since it is customary for all Jewry to immerse in a Mikveh on Erev Rosh Hashanah, certainly testimony exists, and hence the man is Yotzei with him Bedieved. Accordingly, in Mivtzaim when dealing with an unobservant crowd who would not hear Shofar otherwise, one below age 18 who does not have facial hair should not be discouraged from blowing for other Jews, if they would not hear Shofar otherwise!
 Admur 17:3; Shut Rav Akiva Eiger 1 Hashmatos; See Ashel Avraham Butchach 689 and Mahadurah Tinyana 592; so is implied also from Kitzur SHU”A 129:19; Ateres Zekeinim 689
 M”E 589:4; M”B 587:16; Kaf Hachaim 589:5; Gemara R”H 33B; Erechin 2b; Admur 343:2 regarding all Positive commands; See Admur 592:8 regarding children below Chinuch and 596:2 regarding educating children in how to blow Shofar; See Mikraie Kodesh 20 for why this law was not explicitly written in Shulchan Aruch here, as it is written regarding Shema; Tefila; Lulav; Megillah [Rama 596].
 Pashut from the Poskim, and so ruled the Baal Nitei Gavriel Lehalacha
 Admur 586:16
 Blowing with a mask, or any item attached to the Shofar especially by its end or between the mouth and the Shofar is a potential invalidation. If one blows the Shofar while wearing a mask, it is invalid. If one blows it with a mask on top, it is possibly invalid due to the clause that prohibits adding to the end of the Shofar, as well as the clause which invalidates a Shofar whose sound as changed. I am aware of the guidelines issued by some Rabbinical bodies that one should blow the Shofar with a mask on it, although I am unclear as to the basis of their ruling as it is clear from the Poskim that no material may be added to the end of the Shofar, otherwise it is invalid. Likewise, even if one were to argue that this invalidation only applies to a true attachment, it would still be questionably invalid due to a certain change in volume of the sound, which perhaps can be also viewed as a Halachic change of sound which invalidate the Shofar sound. Thus, in my opinion it should not be done, and as an alternative, the Shofar should be blown outside the Shul. So have also ruled other Migdolei Harrabanim, including the Baal Nitei Gavriel. However, in Elul when Shofar blowing is just a custom, certainly one may blow with a mask if such is required due to Covid. [See Michaber 586:7 regarding attaching non-Shofar material to the Shofar, and if the sound alters; Admur 586:16 regarding the invalidation of a plated Shofar if it is between the mouth of the person and the Shofar, and regarding the invalidation of a plating that changes the sound of the Shofar; Admur 586:11 and 16 and Michaber 586:11 that the Shofar is invalid if any material is added to the end of the Shofar even if the sound does not change.]
 As is the simple implication of the ruling of the Gemara Rosh Hashanah 34b, and Michaber:Admur in 590:1-2 that the 30 blows are Biblically required due to doubt as what consists of a Teruah, and so rules Ramban in Milchamos Hashem. However there are opinions in the Rishonim [Rosh:Chinuch:Ran] which bring Rav Haiy Gaon which rules that in truth only 9 blows are needed and there is no doubt at all, as all the sounds of the Teruah are valid.
 The length of the blows is measured by the amount of Terumatin [טרומטין] worth they contain. טרומטין refers to a short blow similar to that contained in the Teruah. [i.e. Tu, Tu, Tu = three טרומטין]. Thus if one were to say that a Tekiah must contain 10 Terumatin this would mean that the length of the Tekiah must be long enough for one to blow 10 Terumatin within that amount of time. So if it takes five seconds to blow 10 Terumatin the Tekiah would have to be five seconds long.
 Admur 590:8-9
 588:1; Michaber 588:1
 The reason: This is learned from the verse “Yom Teruah” that the Teruah must take place during the day and not night. [Admur ibid; Megillah 20b]
 The reason: Biblically, day begins from Alos Hashachar regarding all Halachic matters. Nevertheless, the Sages decreed that one must delay blowing the Shofar until after sunrise being that not all people are expert in the definition of Alos and hence in order to be assure that it is day one must wait until sunrise. [Admur ibid; Rashi Megillah ibid] In 488:3 Admur writes as follows: As it appears like night in the eyes of the masses.
 Kaf Hachaim 588:8 regarding one who is traveling based on Gemara Brachos 30a
 587:4; 588:2
The reason: The reason for this is because every blow must be valid in its entirety, from beginning to end, for it to be considered a Kosher sound. Hence since in this case the sound only became valid in its middle, it therefore is not considered a Kosher sound. [587:4]
 Admur ibid; Mishneh Megillah 20b; So also writes Admur 488:3 regarding Halel
 591:14; M”A 591:9; M”B 591:15; Kaf Hachaim 591:36
 The reason: The reason for this is because within the first three hours of the day G-D does not judge beyond the letter of the law, as during this time He learns His Torah which is called Truth [and thus judges people in accordance to Truth]. There is thus to worry that perhaps the supernal courts will investigate his actions and his prayers [Tekios] will be denied. However, after three hours into the day He judges the entire world and once He sees that the world cannot up stand to His judgment He therefore judges them in a manner of above the letter of the law, and the individuals prayer will not be differed. [ibid]
 Machazik Bracha 588:1; Mateh Efraim 588:2; Kaf Hachaim 588:6
 Admur 588:1; Chayeh Adam 141:1; Mishneh Berurah 588:1; Kaf Hachaim 588:2.
 So is implied from Stimas Haposkim brought above. However, Tzaruch Iyun as why do we not say Safek Derabanan Lehakeil, and hence there is no longer an obligation to blow by Bein Hashmashos which is questionably day/night. This would be similar to the ruling that on the 2nd day one who is in doubt as to whether he heard Shofar is not required to blow. However perhaps there is a difference if the doubt is in whether one already heard the actual blowing, or if one for certain did not hear the blowing but is in doubt if the Mitzvah still applies.
 Chayeh Adam 141:1; 144:20; Mishneh Berurah 588:1; Kaf Hachaim 588:2; 600:12; Regarding Lulav: M”A 658; Regarding Megillah: M”B 687:5; Kaf Hachaim 687:9; P”M 692 M”Z 3
 Michtam Ledavid 17; Birkeiy Yosef 600:5, brought in Kaf Hachaim 600:11
Opinion of Admur: Admur ibid rules that from Alos until Tzeis is the permitted time for blowing Shofar. So, writes Admur also regarding Halel in 488:3. The source of Admur is from the Gemara Megila 20b which states that until Tzeis Hakochavim it is considered day. This seems to imply that during Bein Hashmashos one may blow even with a blessing! This is further inferred from the change of wording from the Tur which writes simply “until night” while Admur specifies Tzeis. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol, as Bein Hashmashos is questionable whether it is night or day as rules Admur is 261:1, hence how can one say a blessing at that time.
 Admur 587:5; Taz 6587:1; Chayeh Adam 141:5; M”E 587:1; Kaf Hachaim 587:6
 Admur 587:1; Michaber 587:1; Gemara R”H 27b; The Ran ibid and Ritva ibid write in the name of Rav Haiy Gaon that the reason these laws were needed to be mentioned is because in those times the kingdom had forbade the Jews from hearing Shofar and they would thus blow the Shofar underground while in hiding. [Kaf Hachaim 587:1]
 Admur ibid regarding those outside of the pit; Taz 587:1; Elya Raba 587:2; M”E 587:1; M”B 5877; Kaf Hachaim 587:5
The reason: One should not rely on his assertion that he definitely heard the Shofar sound [being that it is possible that he is making a mistake as we see in many matters today that we are no longer considered an expert-Taz ibid]. Nevertheless, he should not re-blow the Shofar with a blessing being that Safek Brachos Lihakel. [ibid]
 When blowing in a large barrel it is possible that even the people inside the barrel hear an echo. [587:2]
 Admur ibid; M”B 587:2
 Admur 587:5; Taz 6587:1; Chayeh Adam 141:5; M”E 587:1; Kaf Hachaim 587:6
 Aruch Hashulchan 587:6
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 587:1
 Admur 587:1; M”B 587:2
 Biur Halacha 587 “Oa” leaves this matter in question. See Piskeiy Teshuvos 587:1 that if the windows are closed it certainly has the status of an area that echoes to those outside.
 In a case that the Ezras Nashim is on the second story of the Shul and the Shul is underground, this matter requires further analysis. [Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Mikraeiy Kodesh 8 footnote 216]
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