The ancient ritual horn of Israel, representing, next to the
In the Pentateuch the use of the shofar is prescribed for the announcement of the New Moon and solemn feasts (Num. x. 10; Ps. lxxxi. 4), as also for proclaiming the year of release (Lev. xxv. 9). The first day of the seventh month (Tishri) is especially termed "a memorial of blowing" (Lev. xxiii. 24), or "a day of blowing" (Num. xxix. 1), the shofar; and the modern use of the instrument survives especially in this connection. In earlier days it was employed also in other religious ceremonials, as processions (II Sam. v. 15; I Chron. xv. 28), or in the orchestra as an accompaniment to the song of praise (Ps. xcviii. 6; comp. ib. xlvii. 5). More frequently it was used as the signal-horn of war, like the silver trumpets mentioned in Num. x. 9 (see Josh. vi. 4; Judges iii. 27; vii. 16, 20; I Sam. xiii. 3).
The Mosaic law providing for the first day of the seventh month (1st of Tishri = Rosh ha-Shanah) a "zikron teru'ah" (memorial of blowing; Lev. xxiii. 24) and a "yom teru'ah" (day of blowing; Num. xxix. 1) is traditionally interpreted by the Rabbis as referring to the ceremony of sounding the shofar. The shofar in the Temple was generally associated with the trumpet; and both instruments were used together on various occasions. On New-Year's Day the principal ceremony was conducted with the shofar, which instrument was placed in the center with a trumpet on either side; it was the horn of a wild goat and straight in shape, being ornamented with gold at the mouthpiece. On fast-days the principal ceremony was conducted with the trumpets in the center and with a shofar on either side. On those occasions the shofarot were rams' horns curved in shape and ornamented with silver at the mouthpieces. On Yom Kippur of the jubilee year the ceremony was performed with the shofar as on New-Year's Day. R. Judah, however, declares that the shofar of Rosh ha-Shanah was of ram's horn (and curved); that of the jubilee, of the horn of the wild goat (R. H. iii. 3); while R. Levi thought it proper that the shofar of ram's horn of a curved shape should be used for Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur (jubilee year), and that the straight-shaped shofar of the horn of the wild goat should be used on other occasions. The curved shofar is symbolic of the contrite heart repenting on the most solemn days of Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur (comp. ib. 26b; Yer. ib.). R. Abbahu thought that a shofar of ram's horn was used on Rosh ha-Shanah in order to call to mind the 'Aḳedah incident connected with the ram (Gen. xxii. 13; R. H. 16a). The shofar,however, may be the horn of any other clean animal, except that of a cow or calf, which would be a reminder of the golden calf incident (ib. 26a). A rent or hole in the shofar affecting the sound renders it unfit for ceremonial use. A shofar may not be painted in colors, but it may be carved with artistic designs (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 586, 17, note). Women and minors are exempt from the command to hear the shofar-blowing, but they nevertheless usually attend the ceremony.The Sounds.
The "teḳi'ah" and "teru'ah" mentioned in the Bible were respectively bass and treble. The teḳi'ah was "a plain deep sound ending abruptly; the teru'ah, a trill between two teḳi'ahs. These three sounds, constituting a bar of music, were rendered three times: first in honor of theocracy, or "malkiyot" (kingdom); then to recall the 'Aḳedah and to cause the congregation to be remembered before God, or "zikronot" (remembrances); a third time to comply with the precept regarding the shofar. Ten appropriate verses from the Bible were recited at each repetition, which ended with a benediction (R. H. 16a). Doubt, however, arose as to the sound of the teru'ah. Onḳelos translates "teru'ah" as "yabbaba"; but the Talmud is uncertain whether it means an outcry ("yelalah") or a moaning ("geniḥah") sound. The former was supposed to be composed of three connected short sounds; the latter, of nine very short notes divided into three disconnected or broken sounds ("shebarim"). The duration of the teru'ah is equal to that of the shebarim; and the teḳi'ah is half the length of either (R. H. iv. 9). This doubt as to the nature of the real teru'ah, whether it was simply an outcry or a moan, or both, necessitated two repetitions to make sure of securing the correct sound, the following formula, consisting of ten sounds, resulting: teḳi'ah, shebarim-teru'ah, teḳi'ah; teḳi'ah, shebarim, teḳi'ah; teḳi'ah, teru'ah, teḳi'ah. This formula was repeated twice, making thirty sounds for the series. The last teḳi'ah was prolonged and was called "teḳi'ah gedolah" = the "long teḳi'ah." This series of thirty sounds was repeated twice, making ninety sounds in all. The trebling of the series was based on the mention of teru'ah three times in connection with the seventh month (Lev. xxiii. 24, xxv. 9; Num. xxix. 1), and also on the above-mentioned division into malkiyot, zikronot, and shofarot. In addition a single formula of ten sounds is rendered at the close of the service, making a total of 100 sounds. Thus the original three sounds, constituting a musical bar, were increased to 100 at the New-Year's Day ceremony.
The general term for the sounds is "teḳi'ot." The first series of teḳi'ot is rendered after the hafṭarah, and is known as "teḳi'ot di-meyushshab" (sitting series) in contradistinction to the "teḳi'ot de-me'ummad" (standing series) rendered at the "'Amidah" (standing prayer). There are many variations in the division of the series and placing them in the "'Amidah." R. Amram Gaon in his "Siddur" (p. 45b) gives the first line, T. S.-Tr. T. (= teḳi'ah, shebarim-teru'ah, teḳi'ah), three times for malkiyot; the second line, T. S. T., three times for zikronot; and the third line, T. Tr. T., three times for shofarot. Rabbenu Tam introduced the custom of giving the first line, T. S.-Tr. T., three times for either malkiyot, zikronot, or shofarot (Tos. to R. H. 33b, s.v. ). In the Sephardic and west-German rituals the notes are rendered according to the scheme of Amram Gaon, while in east-European countries the minhag of Rabbenu Tam is followed. Other congregations render the first, second, and third lines in consecutive order for the three divisions of the "'Amidah."
The expert who blows the teḳi'ot is named "ba'al toḳea'" (the sounder of the shofar), and the prompter who calls off the sounds is termed "maḳri'." The following is the order of teḳi'ot for Rosh ha-Shanah:
The ba'al toḳea' prepares himself for his task of blowing the shofar for the congregation and says: "I am prepared to fulfil God's command to blow the shofar, as is prescribed in the Torah, 'a day of blowing unto you.'" Then he recites the benediction: "Praised be the Lord our God, the King of the Universe, who sanctified us with His precepts and commanded us to hear the sound of the shofar," and adds the She-Heḥeyanu. The congregation answers "Amen." Then follow the thirty teḳi'ot, after which the ḥazzan recites the verse: "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance" (Ps. lxxxix. 16, R. V.). The congregation repeats this and says "Ashre." In the Musaf "'Amidah" by the ḥazzan the series of thirty teḳi'ot is rendered as described above. After Musaf or, in some congregations, after 'Alenu, the thirty teḳi'ot are repeated. After Adon 'Olam the formula of ten teḳi'ot closes the service.
This order is repeated on the second day of Rosh ha-Shanah. If the first day falls on Sabbath (the second day never falls on that day), the shofar-blowing is dispensed with, and the words "day of blowing" throughout the liturgy are changed to "memorial of blowing." The reason given for the omission of the shofar ceremony on Sabbath is the apprehension lest the ba'al toḳe'a might carry his shofar in public premises to an expert for instruction, the carrying of articles from private into public premises being forbidden on the Sabbath though permitted on a holy day. However, where there was an ordained bet din, such as the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem in the Temple period, when strict discipline prevailed, the shofar-blowing continued on the Sabbath-day. Even after the second day of Rosh ha-Shanah was introduced, R. Johanan b. Zakkai, under whom there was a regular bet din at Jabneh, permitted the blowing of the shofar on Sabbath (R. H. iv. 1, 2). Later, however, the practise was discontinued; but it appears that Alfasi, in the twelfth century, still permitted it under his bet din (Abudarham, ed. Venice, 1566, p. 100a).
The addition, originally a substitution, of the three flourishes sounded in the additional service was due to R. Simeon ben Gamaliel H., who in the middle of the second century prescribed the sounding of a flourish at the close of each section of that service. It seems that the sounds were taken by the Roman authorities in Palestine for military signals (they may have resembled the calls of the imperial forces); for troops were sent to the synagogues in the early morning to prevent any martial exercises; and many Jews were put to the sword before an explanation could be given. In succeeding years the flourishes were delayed until the congregations had been for some time assembled and were obviously occupied in religious exercises only (R. H. 32b). The sounding was eventually restored to its proper place in the morning service (the "sitting series"), but the additional flourishes (the "standing series") were also retained.In the Cabala.
Many reasons are assigned for the ceremony of shofar-blowing. Saadia Gaon (892-942) gives ten. The Cabala emphasizes the significance of the shofar and the teḳi'ot. Thus a certain midrash, citing "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound" (= "teru'ah"; Ps. lxxxix. 15), asks: "Do other peoples not know the joyful sound? Have they not many kinds of coronets, buccina, and salpidin [= σαλπιδες]?" and then answers: "But the Israelites know how to serenade their Creator with the teru'ah" (Pesiḳ., ed. Buber, p. 152a). The Zohar dwells on the word "know" as signifying in this midrash passage a secret knowledge and mysticism. The shofar represents the windpipe or the spiritual part of the body alongside the gullet, through which the food or the earthly part passes. The sound of the shofar awakens the Higher Mercy = "Raḥamim" (Zohar, Emor, p. 99b, and Pineḥas, p. 232a). The object of the second and third series of teḳi'ot is to bewilder and stagger Satan (R. H. 16b), who, at first imagining that the Jews are merely complying with the Law, is surprised by the second blowing, thinking perhaps that the Messiah is coming, and finally is dumfounded, expecting the Resurrection, with which his power will finally cease.
It is the custom to blow one teḳi'ah every day during the month of Elul except on the day preceding Rosh ha-Shanah (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 581). This is a later innovation. The author of "Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ" (13th cent.) quotes (§ 282; ed. Buber, p. 132b) a midrash and Pirḳe R. El. to the effect that on New Moon of the month of Elul, Moses ascended Mount Sinai to obtain the tablets of the Law for the second time, and that the shofar proclaimed this fact in order that the Israelites might not be again misled. Thenceforth the shofar was sounded annually on the eve of New Moon Day in Elul to commemorate the event, showing that originally the shofar was blown only on the first night of Elul (Vitry Maḥzor, p. 361).At End of Yom Kippur and Other Uses.
The Ne'ilah service on Yom Kippur is ended with a single teḳi'ah. The Sephardim blow four calls: teḳi'ah, shebarim, teru'ah, teḳi'ah. This is not obligatory, but is a reminiscence of the shofar-blowing in the year of jubilee in the pre-exilic period (ib. p. 395).
The shofor was used also to arouse the people to repentance on fast-days (Ta'an. i. 6), which custom is still observed in Jerusalem in times of drought. The shofar has been from the most remote time the instrument by which an excommunication has been proclaimed. It is claimed that Barak used 400 shofars to excommunicate Meroz (Judges v. 23; M. Ḳ. 16a). The shofar was used at the announcement of a prohibition or a permission by the Rabbis (Niddah 40a). Among the paraphernalia of the bet din of R. Huna were: a rod to keep order; a strap for "malḳot"; a sandal for "ḥaliẓah"; and a shofar for excommunication (Sanh. 7b; see Rashi ad loc.). The shofar was sounded at funerals (M. Ḳ. 27b); and it was blown also when the ordained bet din announced the appearance of the new moon (Niddah 38a; see Rashi ad loc.).
On Friday afternoon six shofarot were blown at short intervals. At the first teḳi'ah the laborers in the field ceased work; at the second the stores closed and city labor ceased; and the third teḳi'ah was a signal to light the Sabbath candles. Then after a short pause the shofar sounded teḳi'ah, teru'ah, teḳi'ah, and Sabbath set in (Shab. 35b).
- Maimonides, Yad, Shofar, i.-iii.;
- Shulḥan 'Aruk, 0raḥ Ḥayyim, 585-590;
- Cyrus Adler, in Jour, of American Oriental Society, Oct., 1889, p.clxxi.;
- Dembitz, Jewish Services in Synagogue and Home, pp. 319-322.
In regard to the form of the modern shofar, the particular kind of curve which it presents is regarded as immaterial. It may be gradual, as in Fig. 12 in the accompanying illustration, although this shape is rarely met with. Among the Sephardim the shape preferred is the natural spiral of the ovine horn (generally favored by Orientals), as in Fig. 4, an example of the eighteenth century from Bagdad. The instrument from Aden (Fig. 1) is made from the horn of an African koodoo (Strepsiceros kudu), retaining its natural curve. TheAshkenazim prefer the simpler lituus shape (well known to the Romans, and used for their cavalry trumpet, being made of bronze), with the natural flatness of the horn accentuated by paring. Two shofarot found in England and believed to be ancient—one unearthed under the foundations of an old house in Leadenhall street, London (see "Cat. Anglo-Jew. Hist. Exh." No. 2); the other recovered from the Thames, off Vauxhall, together with a straight trumpet of ox-horn, at a spot which has yielded Celtic and Roman relics also (see "Jew. Chron." Feb. 6, 1903)—differ in no way from an average modern shofar of the lituus shape, save in having been less pared down, and so possessing greater thickness and weight.
The inferior limit of length is about six inches (comp. Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 586, 10); but the instrument varies from eight to thirty inches in length (the horn of the koodoo is four feet long), the majority of examples averaging fourteen or fifteen inches, like the two middle horns of the illustration.
There were those who sounded the shofar for its music (R. H. 33b); but the Rabbis found it necessary to make provision for one who could not finish the series of calls (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 585, 3), and for incomplete sounds, since the manipulation of the horn is of a very rough and empiric character. The embouchure, or mouthpiece, in particular, follows no standard in shape or size; and there exist horns which even the most skilful executaut can sound only in certain positions, and then only with particular tensions of the lips. After the tip of the horn has been removed a roughly cylindrical bore of very narrow section is gouged down to the natural hollow. The exterior is then made smooth by scraping; and the horn, after being softened by soaking in hot water, is gradually brought to the desired shape. The interior having been trimmed and smoothed, the broad end is cut level, and usually carved along the edges in a rough coronet. The exterior is sometimes ornamented with carving, either geometric or including an inscription (comp. Fig. 3 in the illustration). The mouthpiece is formed by forcibly expanding the heated cut edge of the tip, or narrow end, considerable skill being necessary to overcome the tendency of the softened horn to split and so to spoil the shofar. A conoid of more or less oval base outline is arrived at; and, the edges having been rubbed smooth, the instrument is complete.Variability of the Sounds
The traditional preference for the lituus or shape is due to the type of bore of the shofar classing it as a member of the trumpet, rather than the bugle, family. Its shrill and incisive tones similarly define its character.Notes and Signals.
The notes producible on any wind-instrument vary according to the division of the contained column of air into aliquot lengths, dependent on the particular tension of the player's vibrating lips. Modern brass instruments consist of a tube of considerable length, perfectly smooth and symmetrical, and are sounded through a regular mouthpiece of constant proportions. The shofar is a short tube, always somewhat rough and irregular internally, and it is sounded through a mouthpiece of indefinite shape. Hence no two shofarot necessarily produce notes of the same pitch, or same position in the harmonic series. Indeed, shofarot usually produce only two, or possibly three—very rarely four—sounds of their series, as against the five obtainable with the bugle or the ten with the trumpet. Of eleven shofarot examined together by the writer, the varying pitch covered six different keys. Five sounded the interval of the fifth (d:s); four, that of the octave (d:d'); one, that of the fourth (s:d'); and one—the clearest in tone and easiest to manipulate—that of the sixth (s:m'). Of three which happened to be pitched alike, in the key of A, one sounded E:E' (third and sixth partials of the harmonic range), another A:E' (fourth and sixth partials), and the last E:A (third and fourth partials). But while the two notes may thus differ, two forms of sounding them in succession have been recognized from time immemorial. When, however, the shofar and the silver trumpets were sounded together in the Temple they were not necessarily tuned in unison; but the ancient ear listened for the rhythm and figure of the sounding rather than for its actual notes, a distinction now to be noticed in some military calls differing in tune according as set for the trumpet or for the bugle. Hence the confused tradition, mentioned above, concerning the middle "call" of the three which together constitute a "flourish."
On a shofar sounding the interval of the fifth and pitched in the key of G the shofar-calls would be as follows:
Attempts at noting the traditional calls aim, like the early notations alike of the church plain-song and of the synagogue Cantillation, at representing their duration and outline only, by means of strokes of particular length and shape. Such neumes are to be found in the "Siddur" of R. Amram (ed. Warsaw, 1865, p. 45b), in a late fourteenth-century manuscript (Codex Shem, No. 74, in the Parma Library), and in Juan de Gara's small Maḥzor (p. 190, Venice, 1587). The Parma notation, entitled in the manuscript in question "Simani Noti," is reproduced in Sulzer, "Shir Ẓiyyon," ii. 153, as follows:
- C. Adler, in Proc. United States National Museum, xvi. 287-301;
- idem, Report United States National Museum, 1892, pp. 437-450; 1896, p. 976;
- F. L. Cohen, in Jew. Chron. Sept. 8, 1893, p. 11; Sept. 28, 1894, p. 17; Sept. 1, 1899, p. 25; Sept. 13, 1901, p. 16.