About the Shofar

including Saturdays and Holidays, cannot be properly supervised, and therefore not approved by the Rabbinate, as production on Saturdays and Holidays cannot be determined.

Tips for caring for the horn, to prevent disqualification: the horn should be taken care of and kept whole, avoid dropping it on the ground. Even when put for drying and airing on the window sill, it should be put in a basket to avoid slipping, because after cracking or breaking, it cannot be mended. The sound of a horn plated by silver or gold for beauty, changes the sound and therefore it is not Kosher. There are those who purchase decorated horns as a work of art, for decoration, as a talisman or for any other purpose, this cannot be used for blowing the horn on New Year.

I would like to end with the holy words of Rabbi Jacob Segal of Magenza, known as (The Maharil) who writes that the commandment of the horn aims to prevent bad things. This is based on the sentence in Hebrew ‘no Satan and no devil’ which in Hebrew is ‘Ein Satan ve ein pega ra’ and the initials spell ‘shofar’. Maybe this is the reason why some people take care to keep a horn at home for safety.

The process of horn production: the horns are sterilized to prevent the transfer of disease and contamination, or parasites adhering to the horns.

This process is also required to ensure the Kashrut of the Shofar, because if the horn is full of vermin, it may already be perforated and cannot be processed to make a kosher horn. This detail is emphasized in producing Israeli horns, as described above. In the next stage the horn undergoes controlled heating, up to partial softening. Its narrow side, which is blown, remains natural and therefore cannot be drilled for the passage of air until it is flattened. After flattening and ironing the edge it is polished professionally to obtain the bright look we are familiar with. During the final stage a mouthpiece is formed with a special mold, and then the air passage is drilled.

Now it needs to be determined whether during polishing and drilling the horn was not damaged and repaired. Therefore one should always by from trustworthy dealers. All over the world there are producers who plug holes with acrylic materials, mixed with horn dust or plastic casts which resemble the look of the horn, and may be detected only by sophisticated technological means. There is a reason why there is such a difference in price between kosher horns approved by the Rabbinate and other Kashrut institute, and those sold on every corner, cheaply, which have been mended and are unfit for use on New Year.

Clearly they may serve as ornaments or souvenirs, unrelated to the New Year, but they  may not be blown on New Year since they are unfit. 

The form and structure of the horn: fifty years ago elongated horns were made, with a small, rounded spout.
This made it difficult for the blower to make all the sounds required continuously. He had to stop every now and then and was not able to continue. Human lips are not completely round and therefore many people avoid using this type of shofar in synagogues. Currently the horns are not completely flattened, which helps the quality of the sound and the tekiah sound itself, as the producer shapes the spout according to the structure of human lips. Each year new blowers are added, purchasing modern horns which are easy to blow, and the rates of success increase yearly, Thank God.

The horns undergo a final polish with a special brush destined for polishing silverware and other metals. Therefore the final horn is infinitely handsomer, shining in its natural colors, fulfilling the divine guideline ‘he is my God and I will give him praise’, to beautify the vessels used for Mitsvot.

Some look for horns which are only partially polished, one of the reasons may be that the external appearance proves that this is a ram horn. An additional reason is that when there is an unpolished part, the thickness of the horn has a double volume during tekiah. In principle, Kishrei Kodesh market completely polished horns, semi-polished and unpolished, as per demand. All horns are quality controlled at the place of production and then reexamined to grade the horn in terms of sound and easiness of blowing. We strive to give to each client the horn they require.

All horns are hand made and supervised by the Chief Rabbinate of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa and other religious institutes.
For additional details and professional questions please apply: For Hebrew and Yiddish speakers

052-7649168, and for English speakers 050-4111464.

At the time of the Temple, they used to blow two different types of horns, one of a ram and the other of an ibex. On the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) they used the ram horn, for two reasons: first for its downward structure, hinting that man should be bent during prayer in front of his Maker, and the other, to remind us of the binding of Isaac, when God told Abraham to sacrifice the ram instead of his son, Isaac.

On the other hand on Yom Kippur they blew the ibex horn which has the opposite quality: its structure upward. The reason is that this is the last date for freeing the slaves, and serves as a reminder for all those who have slaves, that it is time to set them free.

 Israel’s greatest sages have emphasized the importance of blowing the ram's horn on Rosh Hashanah ,is to invoke the memory of the Binding of Isaac and so that we should be granted a blessed new year.

In the picture we see an ibex horn, straightened at one end in order to drill a passage for air to flow during blowing. Before this change, the horn resembled a bow, about one meter long. The Rambam said that this must be a ram’s horn, otherwise, the blowing does not fulfill the commandment. however all other adjudicators disagreed. They believe that it is best to use a ram's horn, but if one is not available, other shofars may also be used.

The Yemenites follow the Rambam, and insist on blowing only ram horns, although during the special Slichot prayers in the month of Elul they also blow other types of horns. This is because that on Rosh Hashanah blowing a shofar is required by the Torah, while in Elul this is only a custom used in the Jewish Diaspora to signify the approach of the Holy days. The ram horn is made of a strong yet brittle material. It contains cartilage. When disconnecting the horn from the ram’s head, we get a kind of tube, with a filling. The Hebrew word shofar is derived from the Hebrew word for "tube" –"shfoferet" simply said: the shofar is the external part of the horn, where we take out the internal filling.
A horn whose biological structure is unlike a filled tube, is unfit for blowing. For this reason, a cow’s horn is not Kosher for blowing on Rosh hashanah. The horn is made of a male ram’s horn, aged 2-7 years. The older the ram, the longer the horn.

Sometimes we find horns of 60-65cm long. Additional types of horns that currently exist:  antelope and goat horn .
The ibex horn is also Kosher but is rare, and very expensive Therefore it is hardly used. What are the conditions for a horn being Kosher? The horn needs to be from a kosher animal, its length should be at least 10 cm, as mentioned in the Halacha. This is because when blowing it should protrude from the hand on both sides. So that one should  so that one  should be able to see the horn  itself.

An important condition in the horn’s structure is that blowing is done from the narrow side, and not from the wide side, where the horn was attached to the ram’s head. What disqualifies a horn? A horn made upside down by extending the narrow side and narrowing the wide side. such a horn the Torah forbids change in its structure.

A horn cracked from the mouth piece on the narrow side, is disqualified and cannot be repaired, as will be explained below. A horn cracked crosswise, if there are still 10 cm of horn from the crack to the mouth, the horn is Kosher. The difference between the length and the width is that the lengthwise crack can open completely from the pressure of blowing, and therefore is not fit for blowing. (Experience shows that even a small lengthwise crack expands with time due to the pressure and the differences of wetness and dryness). On the other hand, a crosswise crack can remain for long periods of time without changing).

A horn with a hole, where, as we know, often causes an additional sound from the hole – if the hole is small and does not make a sound which distorts the blast, is Kosher. If there is another sound – it is disqualified. A horn whose sound is weaker due to the hole, is still considered Kosher, as the Halacha was made that all sounds are Kosher. Namely, when a horn has a weak sound from the beginning, it is usable, and also a horn whose sound becomes weaker due to the hole, is not disqualified.

One should not use a horn with a hole, but where there is no possibility of obtaining a “whole” horn, this should be done. A horn, most of which is holed is disqualified, because most is considered all of it. A horn with holes which were plugged with acrylic materials, abundant on the market is disqualified, as the sound it makes is from a horn and an additional, foreign material. Even if the sealing materials are horn dust and other materials, it is still disqualified. One should take care to use a horn made in Israel by trustworthy people, supervised