Public Proclamation of Shabbat
Arthur L. Finkle
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.