Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rosh haShana 5772 SPECIAL EDITION

What NOT to do when listening to the Shofar?

Every day, we have many opportunities to ask God Almighty what WE need and what we want from Him. On weekdays, three times a day we recite the Amida. From its nineteen blessings, thirteen focus on our needs and requests from God: we ask God for good health, good livelihood, protection, etc. During Shabbat and Chaguim, when opening the Hekhal, we ask haShem to grant us good health, good livelihood, protection, etc. In high Holidays, we request the Almighty several times for our Parnasa (livelihood) and long life, etc.

What are we supposed to do when we listen to the Shofar? Should we keep

asking God for more? Public opinion (and general practice) notwithstanding, when listening to the Shofar we should not focus on asking God for anything.


Because it is actually the only time of the whole year, God is asking something

from us!

The voice of the Shofar should be understood as a 'divine call', as if at that time

God demands to know what good have we done with the year of life He graciously gave us.

When the Shofar is blown, it is actually improper to ask. The Shofar remind us

that haShem is our King, and we owe Him obedience. We are asked to admit our

mistakes and learn from them. It is not a time to ask but to answer to God. We

answer God's call by becoming mentally answerable, accountable from what we

have done wrong and for what we have not done right.

That is what we need to do when listening to the Shofar!

Shana Toba !!!

Candle lighting for Rosh haShana in NYC: 6:25 PM


Read HERE very important information on

Erub Tabshilin

Read HERE about the difference between men and

women regarding Shofar

Click HERE for information on Mikve and relations on Rosh haShana

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Basics of the Shofar (Part2)

What is the best Shofar to use?

The most typical Shofar used for Rosh haShana is the ram's Shofar. Lately, however, the 'antelope shofar' (also known as the 'greater kudu' or 'Yemenite' Shofar, see here ) which is 3 to 4 times longer than a ram's Shofar, became very popular. Probably because it is easier to blow than the ram's Shofar and it has a beautiful 'deeper' sound.

Can we use the 'antelope' Shofar or any other Shofar for Rosh haShana?

An antelope Shofar is perfectly fine to be used for the Selichot of the month of Elul and even for the end of Yom Kippur.

For Rosh haShana, however, using an antelope Shofar or any other Shofar, except a ram's shofar, is a matter of controversy.

The Rabbis discussed the usage of other types of shofar on Rosh haShana, from bovid animals, and explicitly forbade using a cow's horn as a Shofar, because it will remind us of the sin of the golden calf. A ram's Shofar, on the contrary,brings a positive reminiscence: In Rosh haShana we remember aqedat Yitzchaq(the binding of Yitzchaq abinu). Abraham found a ram 'caught in the thicket by its horns', which he then offered it as a sacrifice in place of Yitzchaq.

For some opinions (Maran) it is preferable to use a ram's Shofar in Rosh haShana, and for other Rabbis (Maimonides) the only Shofar that can be blown in Rosh haShana is a ram's Shofar.

In our community, therefore, we would allow using an antelope Shofar on Rosh haShana, only if no ram's Shofar would be available (it never happened yet!).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Basics of Shofar (Part 1)

The shofar is an animal horn, which was modified removing its inside material (keratin) and opening a 'mouthpiece' in its upper narrower ending. (see here how the Shofar is made). The most common horn used to make a Shofar is a ram's horn. When blown, the Shofar emits a deep and loud sound. The sound is produced by releasing air through its mouthpiece.

If you try to blow a shofar, do not place it inside your mouth, in between your lips, the way you would blow-up a balloon. Place it on your lips. Usually the Shofar is placed in one of the corners of your lips. You should blow air, with your lips tightly closed, emitting the sound of the letter 'P', and vibrating your lips as you release the air. Don't inflate your cheeks and don't force your lungs. Breath as normally as possible. The most difficult part will be to adjust the position of the Shofar on your lips, and avoiding air to escape from any other point of your mouth.

The Shofar, normally, produces one sound. In Rosh haShana we play three different voices, using the same sound. The three voice have theoretically the same length. The first one, Teqi'a is a plain uninterrupted sound. For the sake of illustration of the length, let us imagine that the Teqi'a lasts for nine seconds (in reality, it last less than that). Then we have Shebarim: a sound divided into three smaller unit. Following our example, each unit of the Shebarim will last for3 seconds. And finally, Teru'a : a sound, consisting of nine smaller units, each sound would last for one second.

The typical combination of sounds in Rosh haShana is the following combination:

teqi'a/ shabrim-terua/ tequi'a.

teqi'a/ shebarim/ teqi'a

teqi'a / teru'a/ teqi'a.

This formula repeats itself several times until we reach more that 100 sounds.

Click here to watch a great tutorial on how to blow the Shofar.

Click here to read a rare piece of true information: A Scottish professor responding to a boycott of Israel in his university.