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Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Shofar was Sounded on the Sabbath




The Shofar was Sounded on the Sabbath

Arthur L. Finkle

The shofar was sounded six time before the Sabbath. In Shabbos 35b, we find that cites a braisa (legal decision not codified in the Mishna)  providing for six shofar blasts on the eve of the Sabbath to stop people form their labor and to prepare for the Sabbath.
The first call instructs those in the fields to cease their work and return home.
The second call tells people in the cities to cease their work and return home. Tana d'vei R. Yishmael, a transmitter of Jewish law in the first and second centuries (third tannaitic generation) indicates that Stores may remain open with merchandise on removable doors outside until the second blast. It is added that, after the second blast, the doors are removed and the stores are closed - pots and hot water may be left on ovens;

The thirds tells the people to light the Sabbath  candles. Judah Na-Nasi, the great codifier of the Mishna in the third century,  answers that people also remove their tefillin (phylacteries) and that there is also time to roast a fish or make bread.  R. Shimon ben Gamliel, the religious leader of the Jewish Legislature/Judiciary (Sanhedrin) in 50 CE, just before the destruction of the Second Temple, also cites the practice in Babylonia that even before the series of shofar sounds occurs, the people must cease work. It is also noted that pots and hot water for the evening meal are taken off the oven.
The Talmud is then astonishingly silint of the fourth, iffth and sixth blast.
Thereafter the Rabbi’s debated the question of whether one could move a shofar during the Sabbath. R. Abaye, a commentator to the Talmud who lived in Babylonia  at the close of the third century,  indicates a unique use of the shofar. He cites that one may move a shofar on the Sabbath so that it could be used as a receptacle to give water to a child to drink. In addition the shofar of the (community) can be used to give water to an poor to drink.


Then, the Rabbi’s debate the meaning of the word ‘shofar.’ After some discussion, Rav Chisda indicates that the meanings of three pairs of words changed after the destruction of the Temple. – one of these changes was  trumpet became shofar and shofar, trumpet. To which someone asks: What difference does it make?

The Rabbi’s answered that on Rosh Hashanah we must blow what was initially called a shofar but commoners now call it a trumpet. This explanation leaves us in more confusion. 


Are we to sound the trumpet today or the shofar which is mentioned in Jewish Law?







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