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Shofar as a Temple Musical Instrument

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on September 14, 2014

Shofar as a Temple Musical Instrument

musical notes (1)

Arthur L. Finkle

The Shofar is the only musical Jewish musical instrument that survived two millennia in its original form and is still used to the sounding of the Shofar. Rabbi Saadia Gaon (11th century) stated that the sound of the Shofar raised awe and emotion in the hearts and souls of the people. Maimonides interpreted the sounding as reminding humankind of its duties to God. The mystical Zohar holds that the sound of the Shofar awakens the Higher Mercy.

The Shofar is the most-mentioned instrument in the Bible (72 times). It held a special religious and secular role in the life of the Jewish people. Only Priests and Levites (as Levites) were allowed to perform the religious function of sounding the Shofar in the Jewish Commonwealth.

The Shofar is first mentioned in Exodus 19:16 at the theophany on Sinai. It was used to proclaim the Jubilee Year and the proclamation of “freedom throughout the land” (Lev. 25:9–10); this verse is engraved upon the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was to be sounded on Rosh Ha-Shanah, which is designated as “yom teru’ah” (“A day of blowing”; Num. 29:1). It was also used as an accompaniment to other musical instruments (Ps. 98:6), in processionals (Josh. 6:4ff.), as a signal (Josh. 6:12ff., II Sam. 15:10), as a clarion call to war (Judg. 3:27), and in order to induce fear (Amos 3:6).

When used in the Temple, the Shofar was usually sounded in conjunction with the trumpet (hazozrah). The Talmud (RH 27a) states that the trumpet was made of silver while the processed horn of one of the five species of animal—sheep, goat, mountain goat, antelope, and gazelle—was used to fulfill the ritual commandment of the sounding of the Shofar. It further declares (ibid. 26b) that the Shofar should preferably be made of a ram’s or wild goat’s horn, because they are curved. Rabbi Judah states “the Shofar of Rosh Ha-Shanah must be of the horn of a ram, to indicate submission.” Traditionally a ram’s horn is sounded on those days because of its connection with the sacrifice of Isaac (the Akedah), the story of which is the Torah reading for the second day of the festival. Conversely, a cow’s horn may not be used because of the incident of the golden calf (RH 3:2). The Shofar may not be painted, though it can be gilded or carved with artistic designs, so long as the mouthpiece remains natural. A Shofar with a hole in its sidewall or a chip in its mouthpieceIN ITS SIDEWALL is deemed halakhically unfit, though it may be used if no other is available (Sh. Ar., OH 586).

shofar in stained glass

The Shofar had several religious roles recorded in the Tanakh (the Bible), such as the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6:15; Chronicles 15:28); the announcement of a New Moon (Psalms 81:4); the beginning of the religious New Year (Num. 29:1; the Day of Atonement (Lev. 25:9); the procession preparatory to the Feast of Tabernacles (Mishnah Hullin 1:7); the libation ceremony (Mishnah:  RH 4:9); and the Havdalah ceremony marking the end of a festival (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7)

In addition, the Shofar had a number of secular roles, such as coronating a king (2Sam, 5:10; 1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 1:13) and signaling in times of war to assemble troops to attack, to pursue, and to proclaim victory (Num. 10:9; Judges 6:4; Jeremiah 4:5 and Ezekiel 33:3-6)

 

Sacrificial Cult

 

After King David supervised the building of the first Temple (1000 BCE), he dedicated holy building as a sanctuary to house the written law (10 commandments) and to practice the sacrificial cult (which was how people in the Middle East worshipped.)

The Sacrificial Ceremony

The Priests consecrated five different sacrificial types  preponderantly involving animals or dough.  When the Priests stood on top of the ramp holding the parts of sacrifice, placing them into the fire as he carried them up. He then throws the sacrifice into the great fire; he walks over and places it neatly on the burning logs.

Accompanying this ritual were a choral group and a small orchestra. Special lyrics and songs played according the time of the week and the type of sacrifice (the Bible counts 5 different types of sacrifices in Leviticus 1:1).

Leviticus 1-7 gives the most detailed description of Israel’s sacrificial system. Rituals performed after childbirth (Leviticus 12:6-8), for an unclean discharge (Leviticus 15:14-15) or hemorrhage (Leviticus 15:29-30), or after a person who was keeping a Nazirite vow was defiled (Numbers 6:10-11) required a burnt offering, as well as a sin offering..

  1. Burnt offering (olah). The burnt offering was offered both in the morning and in the evening, as well as on special days such as the Sabbath, the new moon, and the yearly feasts (Numbers 28-29; 2 Kings 16:15; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 31:3; Ezra 3:3-6). was defiled (Numbers 6:10-11) required a burnt offering, as well as a sin offering.

The animal for this sacrifice could be a young bull, lamb, goat, turtledove, or young

pigeon; but it had to be a perfect and complete specimen. The type of animal chosen for this sacrifice seems to be dependent on the offerer’s financial ability.

  1. Grain offering (minchah; “meat offering” in KJV). An offering from the harvest of the land is the only type that required no bloodshed. It was composed of fine flour mixed with oil and frankincense. Sometimes, this offering was cooked into cakes prior to taking it to the priest. These cakes, however, had to be made without leaven. Every grain offering had to have salt in it (Leviticus 2:13), It may have symbolized the recognition of God’s blessing in the harvest by a society based to a large degree on agriculture. The bringing of a representative portion of the grain harvest was another outward expression of devotion.
  2. Peace offering . This consisted of the sacrifice of a bull, cow, lamb, or goat that had no defect. As with the burnt offering, the individual laid a hand on the animal and killed it. The priests, in turn, sprinkled the blood around the altar. Only certain parts of the internal organs were burned. The priest received the breast and the right thigh (Leviticus 7:28-36), but the offerer was given much of the meat to have a meal of celebration (Leviticus 7:11-21).
  3. Sin offering was designed to deal with sin that was committed unintentionally. The sacrifice varied according to who committed the sin. If the priest or the congregation of Israel sinned, then a bull was required. A leader of the people had to bring a male goat, while anyone else sacrificed a female goat or a lamb. The poor were allowed to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons.
  4. Guilt offering. This is hard to distinguish from the sin offering (Leviticus 4-5). In Leviticus 5:6-7, the guilt offering is called the sin offering. Both offerings also were made for similar types of sin. The guilt offering was concerned supremely with restitution. Someone who took something illegally was expected to repay it in full plus 20 percent of the value and then bring a ram for the guilt offering. Other instances in which the guilt offering was prescribed included the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 14:1), having sexual relations with the female slave of another person (Leviticus 19:20-22), and for the renewing of a Nazirite vow that had been broken (Numbers 6:11-12).

The burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt offering composed the basic sacrificial system of Israel. These sacrifices were commonly used in conjunction with each other and were carried out on both an individual and a corporate basis. The sacrificial system taught the necessity of dealing with sin and, at the same time, demonstrated that God had provided a way for dealing with sin.

Although the Prophets excoriated the sacrificial rites because the people seemed to be more impressed with ritual than the reason why the rituals were offered, the Prophets, conceding the collective mores of the people, did not want to abolish the sacrificial system.

Interestingly the sacrifice system is found in the New Testament. The New Testament consistently describes Jesus’ death in sacrificial terms. Hebrews portrays Jesus as the sinless high priest who offered himself up as a sacrifice for sinners (Leviticus 7:27). The book ends with an encouragement to offer sacrifices of praise to God through Jesus.

After the Romans destroyed the Holy Temple, the sacrificial cult terminated. During this time, moreover, the early Church also disbanded the sacrificial rites because Christianity began to differ materially form Judaism.

Thereafter, two Priests stood atop of a marble stand near the altar signaling trumpet blasts: tekiah, tekiah and teruah. A long note followed a series of short notes; then another long note.

leviim

On Rosh Hashanah and other full holidays (Full holidays are generally a Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the three pilgrmage fesitvals – Sukot, Pesach and Shavuot) a single Priest perfected two sacrifices in honor of the full holiday, Note that festivals such as Hanukah and Purim), are not considered full holidays requiring an extra sacrifice. On Rosh Hashanah, something special occurred during the special sacrifice. Arguably two Shofar Sounders played the long notes and one Trumpet player played the short note. Accordingly, Rosh HaShanah is called Yom Teruah (the day of the blast) Otherwise, the Trumpets had “top billing.” Rosh Hashanah27a, supports this claim: “Said Raba or it may have been R. Joshua B. Levi: What is the scriptural warrant fore this? – Because  it is written, “With trumpets and the sound of the Shofar shout ye before the King in the Temple, we require trumpets and the sound of the Shofar; elsewhere not.” See also Sidney B. Hoenig, Origins of the Rosh Hashanah Liturgy, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 57, The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Volume of the Jewish Quarterly Review (1967), pp. 312-331.   Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/1453499. Accessed December 31, 2009 

Indeed, on Yom Kippur, the Shofar was sounded to announce the Jubilee Year (every 50-years, Jews were granted freedom, forgiveness and debts and reclamation of sold lands. Shofar first indicated in Yovel (Jubilee Year –  Lev. 25:8-13). Indeed, in Rosh Hashanah 33b, the sages ask why the Shofar sounded in Jubilee year.  Further support is found in Rosh Hashanah 29a, where the Talmud talks of trumpets for sacrifices but Shofar in the Jubilee Year does not apply to priests who are exempt from the obligations of the jubilee. Perhaps, we have the first mention of Shofar Sounding by non-Priests. Perhaps the first distancing away from the Sacrificial Cult.

Otherwise, for all other special days, the Shofar is sounded shorter and two special silver Trumpets announced the sacrifice.

When the trumpets sound the signal, all the people who are within the sacrifice prostate themselves, stretching out flat, face down and on the ground.

Indeed, the idea that rabbinic prayer modeled itself of that of the

Temple is supported by:

  • Arthur L. Finkle, , Easy Guide to Shofar Sounding, Torah Aura, Los Angeles, CA, 2002.

Further support for this occurrence come from Alfred Edersheim, a 19th century biblical scholar:

The Shofar was blown at the temple to begin the Sabbath each week. There was within the temple an inscription on the lintel of the wall at the top of the Temple that said, “To the house of the blowing of the trumpet (Shofar)”.    Each Sabbath 2 men with silver trumpets and a man with a Shofar made three trumpet blasts twice during the day.  On Rosh haShanah, this was different.  The Shofar is the primary trumpet. According to Leviticus 23:24 and Numbers 29, Rosh HaShanah is the day of the blowing of the trumpets.  The original name is Yom (Day) Teruah (The staccato sound of the horn, which also means  “Shout”).  According to the Mishnah (Rosh HaShanah 16a, Mishnah RH 3:3), the trumpet used for this purpose is the ram’s horn, not trumpets made of metal as in Numbers 10. On Rosh HaShanah, a Shofar delivers the first blast, a silver trumpet the second, and then the Shofar the third.

Alfred Edersheim, by boldly setting out his aim: It has been my…” published in 1874, republished by Gregal Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI 1997.

Another source bespeaks this conclusion:

According to rabbinic tradition, “In the Temple on Rosh Hashanah two men blowing silver trumpets stood on either side of the one who blows the Shofar. Citing the Gemara, referring to verses [Psalms 47:5; 81:3; 98:6; 150:3] requiring trumpets along with the Shofar,”we also read that, “A community beset by calamity is under a Rabbinic obligation to…[be] assembled for supplication and prayer, and this is always accomplished with trumpets,  as written in Numbers 10:2”

And they shall be yours for summoning the assembly….we sound the trumpets in order to stir the hearts of the people and bring them to repentance by causing them to realize that the disaster resulted because of their sins. In the Temple, Shofars were blown along with the trumpets. The Shofar [blows] short…and the trumpets [blow] long…for the primary commandment is with trumpets.”

In these rabbinic statements, the word “Shofar” is footnoted: “The use of two Shofars, one on each side, is a Rabbinic innovation, to publicize that the special mitzvah of the day is with trumpets (Rosh HaShanah also called Yom Teruah).” (Schottenstein Gemara, chap. 3, “Rosh Hashanah,” pp 24b2, notes 21, 24, 27,28,)  “Trumpets” is footnoted with: “The purpose of sounding an instrument on a fast day is to assemble the people for supplication and prayer….blowing the trumpets is more important, for it is mandated by the Pentateuch, whereas the Shofar accompaniment is derived from the aforementioned verse in Psalms” (Schottenstein Gemara, chap. 3, “Rosh Hashanah 24b2, notes 21, 24, 27,28, Mesorah Publications, Brooklyn, NY.) Also see The Writings of Flavius Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews,” Bk. 3, Chap. 12, http://www.bible.crosswalk.com.)

It is also noted that we have confusion as to wher there was a Shofar with two trumpets or two trumpets and a Shofar. This is underastandsable because  Rosh HaShana 27a notes trumpets (plural) and Shofar (singular). On the other hand, in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Musical instruments) p 172) the trumpets (chuzotzrot) were the the ususal Temple instruments and the Shofar was used only for special occasions.

Moreover, the word for trumpet is used interchangeably with Shofar (See Maimonides, Yad. Hilchot Shofar 21.1; and the baraita in Rosh Hashanah 33b.

For more information about Shofar and other Holy Temple instruments.

We have three websites

1) Shofar Sounders WebPage

https://web.archive.org/web/20091026135103/http://geocities.com/afinkle221/


2) Joint Effort with Michael Chusid,an expert Shofar sounder and commentator

http://www.hearingshofar.com

3) Shofar WebPage

http://shofar-sounders.com

If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to ask

What Part of the Lips Sound the Shofar?

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on August 22, 2013

What Part of the Lips Sound the Shofar?

Arthur L. Finkle

Someone asked me a simple but often overlooked question regarding the function of the reciter of the notes voiced for the Shofar Sounder. In Hebrew, the reader is called the ‘Makri’; the Shofar Sounder the ‘Baal Tekiah’.

The obvious questions are why does the Shofar Sounder just play the note. Why does the Shofar Sounder need a reciter?

 images3

The Code of Jewish Law, written in 1565, cites the Makri at 585:4. Its reasoning is, in order to lift the burden and not to confuse Baal Tekiah as to the sequence of the notes; the Reader makes sure that the Shofar Sounder plays the correct notes in the correct sequence.

Now for the practical part. The Reader usually is the Cantor. It is imperative for the Shofar S9ounder and the Reader to rehearse so that they can get a sense of the cadence to be used on the service, itself. There is nothing more annoying for the Shofar Sounder to be ahead or behind the Reader.

 

The calling of the note before the Shofar Sounder plays also brings a solemnity to the shofar experience.

 

May all have a blessed happy and healthy New Year!

Shofar Construction and Expressive Intent of a Shofar Sounder

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on August 22, 2013

Great article explaining the construction and  the expressive intent of a Shofar Sounder. The article appeared in the San Francisco media featuring one of our ShofarCorps members, Maurice Kamins, Shofat craftsman and Ba’al Tekiah. 

 

 http://www.3200stories.org/blog/post/In-touch-with-the-ancient

Rabbi Natan Sflifkin

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on August 19, 2013

Natan Slifkin (born 25 June 1975 in Manchester, England), is the “Zoo Rabbi.” Rabbi Slifkinleft England to continue his studies in the Medrash Shmuel yeshiva and Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

He now lives with his family in Ramat Beit Shemesh, where he teaches at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah. Slifkin has a Master’s degree in Judaic Studies from the Lander Institute in Jerusalem, and is studying for his doctorate in Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University.

Slifkin explores traditional rabbinic perspectives in his books and discusses how they may relate to issues of interest to modern science. Slifkin is the author of numerous books dealing with the Torah, science and zoology.

His blog: http://zootorah.blogspot.com/

shofar in stained glass

 

The Joy of a Ba’al Tekiah

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on August 19, 2013

The Joy of a Ba’al Tekiah

Maurice Kamins

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I have been a shofar maker for the last 20 years. Over the years I have made some 4-500 shofarot from about 19 different kosher animals. Although I make traditional shofarot from rams horns I also made shofarot from Kudu, Waterbuck, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, Buffalo, Prong Horned Antelope, Scimitar Oryx and many others. I am honored that my shofarot have been carried around the world and are enhancing the High Holiday services in innumerable congregations. I have pictures from congregation after congregation showing their Ba’al Tekiah with one of my shofarot. Most recently I received a picture of Anat Hoffman from Women of the Wall blowing one of my shofarot at the Kotel, Rosh Hodesh Elul. For me an honor beyond measure

Ten years ago, I was asked by the rabbi of my temple to stop being just the maker of shofarot and become the Ba’al Tekiah for the congregation, an honor that I have had over these last years.

As a Ba’al Tekiah and a maker of shofarot, I have been teaching classes on the making, blowing and lore behind the shofar for many years. The joy in watching both young and old congregants make their first sound from the shofar is awesome. As that first sound leaves the shofar I watch the connectedness to the Jewish people as a smile forms across the budding Ba’al Tekiah’s face.

But what you may ask is it like to blow the shofar on the High Holidays?

When thinking about the HH service the most important point is to remember that the commandment is to hear shofar not to blow shofar. Not only are there pages and pages of rabbinic text discussing what constitutes hearing shofar, there are as many pages discussing what makes a shofar kosher.

A quick story: My youngest brother is a professor of music, teaching bassoon at Rice University’s Shepard School of Music. One afternoon, sitting around my workshop, we got into a discussion of where the sound that comes out of the shofar starts. We discussed how, be it a bassoon or shofar, the sound starts in the back of the head, moves through your body and comes out the instrument. He explained that the musician is the instrument and the shofar/bassoon is only the tool to release the sound from the musician’s soul. So as I prepare for the High Holiday services, I am thinking/feeling both the sound of my shofar and the calls that I will be playing.

The way I explain the experience of blowing shofar is as follows: As I stand in front of the congregation I remind myself of an old kabalistic story: “When a rabbi was asked by his young student, “Rabbi how do we touch the divine”, his answer was as follows: There are three ways to touch the divine, through words, through sound and in silence. “But what is the best way” the student asked. After thinking a minute, the rabbi responded. When our head is filled with words there is little space left for the voice of the divine, so this is the least effective way to touch the divine. When our soul is filled with music we can make room for the divine and when we sit in silence, the divine is free to enter our soul”.

During the HH service all three aspects for reaching the divine are covered. It starts with the words of the rabbi when he/she calls forth the sounds for the Ba’al Tekiah. Both the congregation and I the Ba’al Tekiah hear the words and the soul begins to awaken. As the Ba’al Tekiah I then take the shofar to my mouth to blow the Tekiah, Shevarim or Teruah that is called. The sound of the shofar then fills the temple with its ancient vibrations. Then as I blow the shofar sending the sound of the shofar into the temple surrounding the congregation with the magic of music I watch the spirit of the congregants move upward following the sound of the shofar skyward. Sitting in silence carried upward by the sound of the shofar, each congregent has opened his/her soul to connect with the divine. And then for a short time before the next call, we all bask in the silence as the divine fills our hearts. We are taken upward a hundred times until the final Tekiah Gedolah.

So now you know why I am both honored and humbled when I stand in front of the congregation to carry out this ancient ritual.

 

 

What Part of the Lips Sound the Shofar?

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on August 8, 2013

What Part of the Lips Sound the Shofar

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What Part of the Lips Sound the Shofar?

Arthur L. Finkle

Someone asked me a simple but often overlooked question regarding the function of the reciter of the notes voiced for the Shofar Sounder. In Hebrew, the reader is called the ‘Makri’; the Shofar Sounder the ‘Baal Tekiah’.

The obvious questions are why does the Shofar Sounder just play the note. Why does the Shofar Sounder need a reciter?

The Code of Jewish Law, written in 1565, cites the Makri at 585:4. Its reasoning is, in order to lift the burden and not to confuse Baal Tekiah as to the sequence of the notes; the Reader makes sure that the Shofar Sounder plays the correct notes in the correct sequence.

Now for the practical part. The Reader usually is the Cantor. It is imperative for the Shofar Sounder and the Reader to rehearse so that they can get a sense of the cadence to be used on the service, itself. There is nothing more annoying for the Shofar Sounder to be ahead or behind the Reader.

 

The calling of the note before the Shofar Sounder plays also brings a solemnity to the shofar experience.

 

May all have a blessed happy and healthy New Year!

rosh ha

Shofar Practice Schedule

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on July 7, 2013

Shofar Practice Schedule

 Arthur L. Finkle

Preparations One Whole Month Before Rosh Hashanah

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Tisha B’av signals to me that there are 7-weeks before Rosh HaShanah. Therefore, I should prepare myself mentally to devote practicing the shofar at the beginning of the next month – Elul.

Customarily, we sound the shofar at the end of morning (and, in some place, afternoon) services.

Sounding the shofar at services is a practical way of preparing for the “real deal” on Rosh HaShanah. In addition this period serves as a reminder to orient my attention to appropriate repentance.

Being a Shofar Sounder for 30+ years, I have established a routine which want to convey to readers of this article. The routine is based on sound musical principals expressed (hopefully) in plain English.

f you have any questions or concerns, contact me at: Shofar221@lycos.com

 

Joint Effort with Michael Chusid, an expert Shofar sounder and commentator

http://www.hearingshofar.com  Shofar Sounders WebPage

http://shofar221.com

Shofar WebPage

http://shofar-sounders.com

BLOGS

http://shofar-sounders.blogspot.com/ http://hearingshofar.blogspot.com/

 
   

 

Warm-Up

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WE MUST WARM-UP! This should not be left to chance nor treated lightly by a serious musician on any instrument. If I do not warm-up properly, my performance certainly suffers. Most brass players have several routines. For Shofar sounding, I suggest warming up on the fundamental note. In simple terms, a noise from a musical instrument plays more than one note, called Harmonics, but the principal musical tone produced by vibration (as of a string or column of air) is the fundamental or most prominent tone. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fundamental Then, focus on your attack (how you

 

articulate the note). Then play the Tekiah, Shevorim, Shevorim-Teruah, and Tekiah. Your warm up should be at home because the shul does not offer privacy. In shul, you should hold the Shofar between your arms so that the horn will become the same temperature as your body because the instrument should be the same temperature or more than the room. A cold note becomes flat (off-tune or atonal).

The shofar’s sound is similar to creation as that of a brass instrument b(Trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, etc) in that the lips vibrate creating a “buzzing.”

You should practice buzzing; (brass players do this by playing the mouthpiece alone. In the case of Shofar playing, you can buzz by shaping your thumb and forefinger in the shape of a mouthpiece and blowing into it to stimulate your embouchure. (See The Art of French Horn Playing by Philip Farkas, The Complete Method by Milan Yancich, and Embouchure Building by Joseph Singer; there are many good resources out there.)

When Should I Warm-Up? How Much Should I Practice?

Professional brass players warm-up every time they get the instrument out of the case to play. The first warm-up in the morning is the most important, as it sets up your embouchure for the rest of the day. The second and third warm-ups are usually shorter, but need to be there to maintain and build the embouchure.

Related issues are how much to practice, and when. I feel, if time allows, the serious brass student or professional usually practices three times a day for no more than one hour apiece. A Shofar sounder, not being a professional in the brass instrumentalist sense of the word, should practice each day at the same time of day. Practice standing up; sitting down will change your embouchure.

Initially, practice the fundamental note until you feel your muscles get adjusted. Do not play too much beyond this level. If they tire, your muscles are telling you that they have had enough. By repeated playing, however, your musculature will develop into high quality sound and endurance. Ten minutes is the usual limit.

Once, you have mastered the one fundamental note, you should concentrate on the attack. The quality of an attack is determined by the position of the tongue’s touching the lips. In some cases, the tip of the front of the tongue can be the part of the tongue used to tongue the attack. In other cases, you can use the side of your tongue. Some use the side of their side tongue and move it back. The technique that is most effective for the Shofar Sounder — and still allows maintenance of the correct embouchure — is the correct way.

 

Week 1

During the first week, work on your embouchure (muscle tone of your lip and surrounding facial muscles) by sounding the most prominent note (fundamental).

How long — start with no more than 5-minutes per day; gradually increase this practice time so you will build and tone your embouchure.

SHOFAR RANGE

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Week 2

Begin the play the sets

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Phrase I – T-SH-R-T (3X) Tekiah-SHevarim-teRuah-Tekiah Phrase 2 – T-SH-T (3X) Tekiah-SHevarim -Tekiah Phrase 3 – T-R-T (3X) Tekiah- teRuah-Tekiah

You may sustain `lip fatigue’ — your lip will tire and will not respond the way you desire.

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You should begin with phrase 1.

The tekiah is one blast — some end it with a small `up’ not (but is not necessary)

The shevarim is three moaning sounds. In music we call these sounds slurs. They begin with a low note and slide up to the dominant note. You accomplish this by tightening the lips from the dominant note to the third above note.

The Teruah — nine staccato notes. To avoid confusion, count the nine notes as three triplets, thus: xxx xxx xxx. The notes are articulated by touching the tongue to the tip of the shofar for nine times.

Tonguing needs practice and repetition to become natural.

Week 3

 

and embouchure definition. Note that you are focusing on endurance athletics but you do need a certain amount of stamina and lip strength to beat fatigue.

Learn Prayer To Be Recited On Rosh Hashanah

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Praised are You, O Lord, Master of the Universe who has commanded us to hear the shofar

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Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam, asher kid-shanu b-mitz-votav Vi-tzi-vanu Lish-moa Kol Shofar.

 

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Week 4

Work from the prayer book to practice each series of sounds. Some congregations sound thirty note; others, ninety; most, 100 sounds.

On a couple of the days, I suggest you work with the kri’ah (the one who pronounces the sounds so you can coordinate your activities. You also will `feel each other out,’ as so often happens in musical schemes.

On the day before Rosh HaShanah — do not practice. Although Jewish law forbids such practice, the musical reason is to enable your embouchure to rest on the day prior to performance, such as soloists do prior to musical recitals.

 

Special thanks for significant input of premier shofar Sounder Michael Chusid, RA FCSI

Public Proclamation of Shabbat

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on June 20, 2013
Tags: , ,

Public Proclamation of Shabbat

Arthur L. Finkle

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Shabbat 35a-b – asks, “How did people know when Shabbat was going to begin? The Gemara related that the Rabbi Yishmael school taught: Six blasts are sounded on Shabbat eve. The first tekiah – the people standing and working in the fields refrained from hoeing, and from plowing and from performing all labor in the fields. And those workers who work close to the city are not permitted to enter the city until those who work farther away come, so that they will all enter together. Otherwise, people would suspect that the workers who came later continued to work after the blast. And still, at this time, the stores in the city are open and the shutters of the stores, upon which the storekeepers would arrange their merchandise in front of the stores, remain in place.

 

After the second blast, the shutters were removed; the stores were locked. But  in the homes  hot water was still cooking on the stove and pots remained in place on the stove.

 

After the third blast, mean the removal of the  food from the stove; insulated hot water for Shabbat; the Shabbat lights lit.

 

And the one sounding the shofar pauses for the amount of time it takes to fry a small fish or to stick bread to the sides of the oven, and he sounds a tekia, and sounds a terua, and sounds a tekia, and accepts Shabbat.

 

The shofar blasts advising the people of Shabbat had to be heard throughout the city of Jerusalem and beyond, especially by those working in the fields. Although the Gemorra does not indicate where the Shofar was sounded, Josephus refers to the spot as being on one of the towers of the Temple (Wars of the Jews 4:9:12).

During the archaeological excavations  a large stone was discovered at the southwest corner of the walls surrounding the Temple Mount, with the inscription: “To the trumpeting place to…” Apparently, it fell from a tower atop the wall and shattered during the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.

 

 

 Image

 

Sukkot (Feat of Tabernacles): Shofar

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on October 13, 2011

Arthur L. Finkle

In reading the tractate Succah, both Palestinian and Babylonian, we come across some fascinating social history regarding the role of the shofar in the ceremonies of the Holy Temple.
We learn that part of the Succot ceremony is celebrated today insofar as dwelling in the sukkah and handling the lulav (palm branch), etrog (related to the lemon and indigenous to Israel), myrtle branch and water willow branch (Arava).
Two important ceremonies, however, were not carried over from the rites of the Holy Temple on Succot: the Aravot Ceremony and the Water Libation Ceremony.
In this article, we will discuss the Water Willow Dance, performed on the seventh day of Succos. This ceremony eventually was transformed by the Rabbi’s into Hoshana Rabba on the same day of Succos.
Water Libation Ceremony
The Water Libation Ceremony was performed each day of Succos. The rationale teaches the Jewish people to bring water before Him on Succot, petitioning for adequate rains, paramount to the success of an agricultural society. (Succah Bavli 37; and RH 16a). Another interpretation from the Midrash (book of ethical stories and interpretations) is that the lower waters were sad when God separated the waters to upper and lower. Their distress was noted by God that the lower waters would be elevated during this season. (Rabbaynu Bachya to Lev 1:13)

The Water Libation ceremony was an elaborate ritual emitting great joy, in fulfilling of Is. 12:3: ”You shall draw water with joy from the wellsprings of salvation.”

The Rabbi’s in Yerush. Succah 31b (Palestinian) give a social history of the role of the shofar in the Holy Temple, with particular emphasis on Succot. Further, the Rabbis agreed that the Water Libation Ceremony is Scriptural) See Bavli Zevachim 110b)

Aravot (Wiollow Branches) Ceremony

The Mishnah (Sukkah 4:5) indicates that the custom was to circle the altar one time on each day of Succos and seven times on the seventh day (similar to Joshua’s circling of Jericho). So too we circle the Bimah one Hoshana each day of Succos and seven Hosannas on the Seventh day.
Jonatan Adler discusses this ceremony as he describes ancient coins which depicted this ceremony. The depiction shows the golden flasgon used to gather the water from the well of Sheloah; a willow branch

“What was the rite of the willow-branch? There was a place below Jerusalem called Motza. The Talmud indicates that Baavli Talmud cites that city to be Kalonia. Because it was tax-exept, the trees were ownerless; thus, there was no taint of theft involved. See Meiri Bavli 45a.

They went down to there, and collected young willow branches, and then came and set them upright along the sides of the altar, with their tops bent over the top of the altar, after which the trumpets made a long blast, a quavering note, and a prolonged blast”. These trumpets were sounded by Kohanim (Priests) See Num. 10:8,9 and Mishnah Succos 5:6.
With reference to what we have learnt, ”’Every day they walked round the altar once, and on that day they went round seven times”‘, your father, citing R. Eleazar, stated: “[This was done] with the lulav (BT Sukkah 43b Soncino translation). This statement was challenged by contemporary sages, who held that the altar was encircled while holding willow-branches, and not the “four species” (ibid.); See also 1. L. Rubenstein:The History of Sukkot in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods, Atlanta, 1995, p. 109, who writes: “Most likely the circumambulations were performed with willows – the description says nothing of the lulav but we should not advance solid historical claims where the traditions are silent”. M Sukkah 4: 5, The statement by R. Johanan b. Baroka (M Sukkah 4: 6) regarding the beating of palm fronds should be seen as complementing this tradition (Rubenstein, above, n. 7, p. liS). Jonatan Adler, ,The Temple Willow-Branch Ritual Depicted on Bar Kokhba Denarii, Israel Numismatic Journal, 16 (2007–2008), pp. 129–133

Afred Ederssheom also concurs with the ritual s of this ceremony. Alfred Edersheim, http://philologos.org/__eb-ttms/temple14.htm#Tabernacles

The Mishnah indicates that, to prepare for the Sabbath restriction of carrying, they gathered the branches the day before and placed on the altar. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/etm/etm076.htm
The Yerul. Gemara 23b stated Motza was free from taxes. (The, itself, means exempt from taxes.) These branches were 11 amos high (c. 400 ft.) and placed near the altar. The altar was 9-amos.
The Yersul. Talmud, in Succah 24a describes the ritual. The priests, even those with blemishes, performed the Arava ceremony in the Temple, which required them to circle the altar one time for the first six days of Succos and 7-times on the 7-nth day of Succos, in remembrance of the Joshua’s encirclement of Jericho. (Only priests were allowed into the ante-chamber area.)

Because the priests had to enter the Antechamber adjacent to the altar area, the Rabbi’s ruled that for the Arava ceremony, R. Yehuda indicated that priests with blemishes were allowed because such a regulation was Rabbinic in nature and could be changed by the Rabbi’s.

An interesting note is that the Pharisee maintained that priests could enter the Temple cited in the Tractates, Parah, Kipuurim and Succos. The Sadducees opposed this holding. Yersul. Succah 27a.
It should be also noted that, although most trees in ancient Egypt were not considered holy, the willow tree was the primordial tree on which the sun rested in the shape of a bird at the beginning of the world. The Metternich Stela makes a connection between the tr-tree, apparently the willow, and the benu bird.

It was sacred to Osiris and gave shade to his coffin while his soul rested on it in the guise of the phoenix. In some versions of the myth it was the willow which grew around the coffin protecting it, in others it was the persea.

Trees were possibly less important in the Egyptian religion than in others. But some trees had divine connections, being home, birthplace or resting place of some deities. In the temple at Denderah one inscription proclaims: The names of the sacred trees are jS.t, kbs, tr. http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/botany/willow.htm

Shofar

The Bavli Succah (45a) discusses the mitzvah of “Arava” (willow branches). It states that during the time of the Beit HaMikdash the priests would go down on Succot to a place called Motza that was below Yerushalayim and there they would cut large willow branches. They would then bring the branches to the Beit HaMikdash and lean them against the side of the altar, with the top part leaning over the top of the altar. They would then blow the shofar in the standard fashion, with one broken sound (teru’ah) preceded and followed by a solid sound (teki’ah).
Although the Rabbi’s disagreed over the exact time this ritual began, they concurred that the Prophets instituted this custom. Thus, it was not likely occurring in the Frist Temple but was in the Second Temple.
The Rabbi’s taught that willows of the brook mean of special type of willow as opposed to the zafzafah which grows in the mountains. (Bavli Talmud, Sukkah 34a)

Accordingly, the Rabbi’s decreed the seventh day of Succos as Hoshana Rabba, the day of many Hosannas (petitions for salvation); the time that the Book of Life and Death are finally sealed.

Although trees in Egyptian culture did not have extraordinary significance, it should be noted that the Willow tree in Egypt, a primordial tree on which the sun rested in the shape of a bird at the beginning of the world. The Metternich Stela makes a connection between the tr-tree, apparently the willow, and the benu bird:
It was sacred to Osiris and gave shade to his coffin while his soul rested on it in the guise of the phoenix . In some versions of the myth it was the willow which grew around the coffin protecting it.

http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/botany/willow.htm

It should also be note that Bavli Succos, 54b, 55a provides that the shofar is sounded 48 times each day.

Water: Special Significance
Why was a special offering of the water willows brought on the last day of Succos?
The Talmud (Bavli, Rosh Hashana 16a) writes that as the world is judged for water on Succot, we bring a water offering so that the rains for the coming year should be blessed. Water was the lifeblood of the Israeli agricultural society. Petitioning adequate water was a prayer to further one’s livelihood.
Another reason is that the holiday of the harvest moon (on which Succot begins) occurs five days after Yom Kippur in the harvest season. During the harvest season, a person may become haughty and forget God. The Rabbi’s reflect that haughtiness affects not only farmers, of course. The wise may take credit for their knowledge and those of fine character may take credit for their graces. The bottom line is that all we get, whether it be money, wisdom, or respect, comes from God

http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/sukkos/vol3no21.html

The Succos 4:5 indicates that the shofar blew three times (tekiah, teruah and tekiah) right before the priests circled the altar. Again the shofar was featured to draw attention to an important festival.
The Rishonim Sages from the 11th through 16th centuries) explain that the reason that this is specifically done on the seventh day of Succos is as follows: Succos is the Day of Judgment for water. This means rain and, in a broader sense, all livelihood. We therefore add special prayers to ask for a good year. The Gemara records a dispute as to whether this is a prophetically ordained custom or not, but we do know that it traces back to the Holy Temple.
Transition of Water Willow Dance to Hoshana Rabba
The name for this holiday probably comes from Psalm 118:25. Hoshana means to save. This is the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles. It comes one day before Shimini Atzeret. It is usually observed on the 21st day of the Hebrew month Tishri. It is also called “the great Hosanna.”
• This practice in the Temple serves as the basis for our modern custom of Hosannas. As reported by The TUR (14th century German-Spanish Legalist, in Orech Chaim 660), we circle the bema once a day with a Torah being taken to the bema (a practice based on the Yalkut Tehillim) and thus serving as the focal point and in place of the altar. We also bring a Torah to the middle since during the time of the Holy Temple the marchers would recite the name of God while walking, and we have a tradition that the entire Torah is made up of various names of God. According to the Yerushalmi (Palestinian Talmud), our current practice reflects not only what was done during the time of the Temple, but also is meant to mimic the siege and conquering of Jericho in the time of Joshua, when they circled the city once a day for six days and seven times on the final day, causing the walls to come tumbling down (Joshua 6).

R. Joseph Caro (compiler of the Code of Jewish Law, 1565) notes that on Hoshana Rabba (seventh day of Succos), even a person who does not have the four species (palm branch, myrtle, water willow and etrog) should take part in the seven laps around the Torah. His rationale is that since there is a special remembrance of what was done in the Temple – see Succah 41a for more on this concept). The common practice is that a person who does not have the four species never takes part in the walking around the bima.

Rav Feinstein (mid-20th century) also notes that there is a custom to recite the Hosannas after Additional Service where in the Temple there was an additional sacrifice on special days, including the festivals. He gives a simple reason for this order – since one is obligated to read from the Torah and say the additional service, but the Hosannas are simply a custom, it is logical that obligations should precede customs.

The Bach (1586-1657 ) offers a second reason. The Mishnah concludes that after the Hosannas on Hoshana Rabba everyone would leave for home while praising the altar. The implication is that the Hosannas were the last thing done in the Holy Temple before people departed, and thus we also make them the end of our services every day before departing for home.

The Order of the Hoshana Rabba Service

The Night

The Mogen Avrohom records that the custom was to stay awake on the night of Hoshana Rabba. Commentators indicate that we read the eno9re Torah, Deuteronomy (as a review of the other 4-books) and the Psalms. (The Avudraham; R. Isaac Luria, (Arizal)

The Morning

The Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) cites a custom brings a Mintage to loosen the bindings of the Lulav so that the water willow is freed.
The congregants circle the Bimah seven times instead of the usual one. In some congregations they blow the Shofar after each circuit.
Hoshana Rabba is the Hebrew name given to the last and greatest day of Hag HaSuccos, the Feast of Tabernacles. Due to the mechanics of the calendar, …
http://www.betemunah.org/hoshana.html

Hoshana Rabba became recognized as an official judgment day in modern Judaism when the Zohar (13th century Kabala) declared it. During the worship service it is common to see congregations march around their worship room seven times (similar to Joshua marching around Jericho). Psalm 118 is chanted and when verse 25 is sung, and after the seventh cycle around the room, the worshipers take the willow branches that they have been carrying and strike the ground with them until the leaves fall off. This is symbolic of the worshiper beating their sins away. Sometimes these palm branches are saved and used to build a fire to burn bread just before Passover.

Conclusory Observations

We have found the rhythm of the Jewish Fall holidays from Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succos as series of vitally important holidays to the pulse of the Israelite in the days of the Holy Temple. Rosh Hashana began the religious year. Yom Kippur was the Day of Atonement not only for individual but also communal sins. Succos was the fall festival of paramount importance in the agricultural society.
We also observed the importance of the shofar. Rosh hashana is the festival of the shofar. Yom Kippur sounds the shofar at the end of the service, originally to announce the Jubilee Year. Succos, to petition God for abundant rains and consequent harvest, the shofar was utilized, particularly for the Water Libation Ceremony and the Water Willow Dance.
We also observed the role the synagogue has replaced the Holy Temple as mean for worship. No longer do we make animal and meal sacrifices. We have kept the intent of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. And we have spiritualized the festival of Succos to one of petition for our agricultural needs, to one of remembrance and thanksgiving. Further, Hoshana Rabba celebrates the closing of the book of accounting.

Shofar Practice Schedule

Posted in Uncategorized by afinkle221 on August 8, 2011

Shofar Practice Schedule

Arthur L. Finkle

Preparations One Whole Month Before Rosh Hashanah

Tisha B’av signals to me that there are 7-weeks before Rosh HaShanah. Therefore, I should prepare myself mentally to devote practicing the shofar at the beginning of the next month – Elul.

Customarily, we sound the shofar at the end of morning (and, in some place, afternoon) services.

Sounding the shofar at services is a practical way of preparing for the “real deal” on Rosh HaShanah. In addition this period serves as a reminder to orient my attention to appropriate repentance.

Being a Shofar Sounder for 30+ years, I have established a routine which want to convey to readers of this article. The routine is based on sound musical principals expressed (hopefully) in plain English.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact me at: Shofar221@lycos.com

The shofar’s sound is similar to creation as that of a brass instrument b(Trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, etc) in that the lips vibrate creating a “buzzing.”

You should practice buzzing; (brass players do this by playing the mouthpiece alone. In the case of Shofar playing, you can buzz by shaping your thumb and forefinger in the shape of a mouthpiece and blowing into it to stimulate your embouchure. (See The Art of French Horn Playing by Philip Farkas, The Complete Method by Milan Yancich, and Embouchure Building by Joseph Singer; there are many good resources out there.)

When Should I Warm-Up? How Much Should I Practice?

Professional brass players warm-up every time they get the instrument out of the case to play. The first warm-up in the morning is the most important, as it sets up your embouchure for the rest of the day. The second and third warm-ups are usually shorter, but need to be there to maintain and build the embouchure.

Related issues are how much to practice, and when. I feel, if time allows, the serious brass student or professional usually practices three times a day for no more than one hour apiece. A Shofar sounder, not being a professional in the brass instrumentalist sense of the word, should practice each day at the same time of day. Practice standing up; sitting down will change your embouchure.

Initially, practice the fundamental note until you feel your muscles get adjusted. Do not play too much beyond this level. If they tire, your muscles are telling you that they have had enough. By repeated playing, however, your musculature will develop into high quality sound and endurance. Ten minutes is the usual limit.

Once, you have mastered the one fundamental note, you should concentrate on the attack. The quality of an attack is determined by the position of the tongue’s touching the lips. In some cases, the tip of the front of the tongue can be the part of the tongue used to tongue the attack. In other cases, you can use the side of your tongue. Some use the side of their side tongue and move it back. The technique that is most effective for the Shofar Sounder — and still allows maintenance of the correct embouchure — is the correct way.

Week 1

During the first week, work on your embouchure (muscle tone of your lip and surrounding facial muscles) by sounding the most prominent note (fundamental).

How long — start with no more than 5-minutes per day; gradually increase this practice time so you will build and tone your embouchure.

SHOFAR RANGE

Week 2

Begin the play the sets

Phrase I – T-SH-R-T (3X) Tekiah-SHevarim-teRuah-Tekiah Phrase 2 – T-SH-T (3X) Tekiah-SHevarim -Tekiah Phrase 3 – T-R-T (3X) Tekiah- teRuah-Tekiah

You may sustain `lip fatigue’ — your lip will tire and will not respond the way you desire.

You should begin with phrase 1.

The tekiah is one blast — some end it with a small `up’ not (but is not necessary)

The shevarim is three moaning sounds. In music we call these sounds slurs. They begin with a low note and slide up to the dominant note. You accomplish this by tightening the lips from the dominant note to the third above note.

The Teruah — nine staccato notes. To avoid confusion, count the nine notes as three triplets, thus: xxx xxx xxx. The notes are articulated by touching the tongue to the tip of the shofar for nine times.

Tonguing needs practice and repetition to become natural.

Week 3

Practice on notes and embouchure definition. Note that you are focusing on endurance athletics but you do need a certain amount of stamina and lip strength to beat fatigue.

Learn Prayer To Be Recited On Rosh Hashanah

Praised are You, O Lord, Master of the Universe who has commanded us to hear the shofar

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam, asher kid-shanu b-mitz-votav Vi-tzi-vanu Lish-moa Kol Shofar.

First day of Rosh Hashana


Week 4

Work from the prayer book to practice each series of sounds. Some congregations sound thirty note; others, ninety; most, 100 sounds.

On a couple of the days, I suggest you work with the kri’ah (the one who pronounces the sounds so you can coordinate your activities. You also will `feel each other out,’ as so often happens in musical schemes.

On the day before Rosh HaShanah — do not practice. Although Jewish law forbids such practice, the musical reason is to enable your embouchure to rest on the day prior to performance, such as soloists do prior to musical recitals.

Special thanks for significant input of premier shofar Sounder Michael Chusid, RA FCSI

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