Afinkle221's Blog


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?

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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!

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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

images3

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