web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Q & A: ‘Bal Tosif’ And The Shofar Blasts (Part I)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

QUESTION: I do not understand the practice of blowing so many extra blasts of the shofar, as is done in most synagogues on Rosh Hashana. Is that not in violation of the command bal tosif, as stated in Deuteronomy (13:1), “You shall not add to [G-d's command-ments]“?
Elliot Solomon
(Via E-Mail)
ANSWER: As we shall show throughout our discussion, there is no problem of bal tosif (the prohibition against adding to the mitzvot, based on the above-mentioned verse in Devarim 13:1, as well as Devarim 4:2, which states: “Do not add to that which I [G-d] command you”) in regard to the “extra” shofar blasts that we correctly blow. However, first we will review an earlier discussion to specify the number of shofar blasts required on Rosh Hashana.That discussion is based in part on the concise essay of Harav Yosef Grossman, zt”l, in Otzar Erchei Hayahadut (p. 446), with some additions regarding the 100 blasts.

The main mitzva of the day of Rosh Hashana is the blowing of the shofar. Indeed, in the Torah the day is referred to as one of blasting the shofar, “yom teruah” (Parashat Pinchas, Bamidbar 29:1) and “zichron teruah, a remembrance of the shofar blasting” (Parashat Emor, Vayikra 23:24). We find that the purpose of the blasting of the shofar is to serve “le’zikaron lifnei elokeichem… – As a remembrance before your G-d” (Parashat Beha’alotecha, Bamidbar 10:10).

Indeed, we find the following in the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 39:3): “When Hashem rises to sit upon the throne of judgment, He rises with the intent of judgment … but when the Israelites take their shofarot and blast before Hashem, He arises from the throne of judgment and sits on the throne of mercy.’

In the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 16a) we find an explanation for the power of the shofar. Rabbi Abbahu asks, Why do we blast with a shofar of an ayil (a ram’s horn)? Says the Holy One, Blessed Be He, Blast before Me with a ram’s horn in order that I remember the binding of Isaac, son of Abraham [on the altar], and I will thus consider it as though you have bound yourselves [on the altar] before Me.

We also find in Parashat Beha’alotecha (Bamidbar 10:9) that the shofar blasting serves as a prayer for heavenly help in time of need: “Vechi tavo’u milchama be’artzechem al hatzar hatzorer et’chem vahare’otem bachatzotzrot, venizkartem lifnei Hashem Elokeichem venosha’tem me’oyveichem – And if you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresses you, you shall blast on the trumpets and you shall be remembered before Hashem your G-d, and you shall be saved from your enemies.”

In Tehillim (98:6) we find that the blasting of the shofar elevates the glory of the kingship of Hashem so that it is the most exalted upon the land, as the verse says, “Bachatzotzrot vekol shofar hari’u lifnei hamelech Hashem - With trumpets and the sound of the shofar, call out before the King, Hashem.”

Rambam (Hilchot Teshuva 3:4) states that while the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashana is a Biblical decree (Bamidbar 29:1), it also has another message: “Wake up, you sleepy ones, from your sleep, and those in lethargy, arise from your slumber. Search your ways and return with repentance and remember your Creator…”

As to the order of the blasts of the shofar, the Mishna (Rosh Hashana 33b) explains that first there are three sets of three types of sound each – a tekiah, a teruah, and a tekiah. We repeat this set three times. We derive this from the hermeneutic principle of gezera shava. The word “shevi’i” (the seventh [month]) is stated regarding Rosh Hashana and applies as well to Yom Hakippurim of Yovel, the Jubilee year, and vice versa. “Teruah” is mentioned three times in the Torah in relation to holidays, twice in reference to Rosh Hashana – in Parashat Emor (Vayikra 23:24), “In the seventh month, on the first of the month… a remembrance of teruah,” and also in Parashat Pinchas (Bamidbar 29:1), “And in the seventh month, on the first of the month … there shall be a day of teruah for you.” The third mention of teruah is found in Parashat Behar (Vayikra 25:9) in relation to Yom HaKippurim of the Jubilee year: “You shall sound a shofar blast of teruah in the seventh month, on the tenth of the month, on Yom HaKippurim of the
Jubilee shall you sound the shofar.”

The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 33b) explains that we derive from this last verse in Parashat Behar that every teruah requires a tekiah before and after, since the verse states “…a shofar blast of teruah … shall you sound the shofar…” [shofar is in this case representative of the one-note tekiah blast]. Thus we blow tekiah, teruah, tekiah, and this is the requirement according to the Torah.

However, since our sages (ibid. 34a) were in doubt as to whether the teruah is a sobbing sound [which would require tekiah, teruah, tekiah] or a moaning sound [which would require tekiah, the three sounds of the shevarim - (lit. broken sounds or blasts - and tekiah], it was decided to combine them to create tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah. This became the enactment of Rabbi Abbahu in Caesarea.

We thus blow a set of tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah (TaShRaT) three times, a set of tekiah, shevarim, tekiah (TaShaT) three times, and a set of tekiah, teruah, tekiah (TaRaT) three times - for a total of 30 blasts.

In the weekday Shemoneh Esreh we recite 18 (19 when we include Ve’lamalshinim) blessings, and on a holiday we recite seven: the first three blessings are, as always, Avot, Mechayyeh Hameitim and Kedushah, and the last three, as always, Hamachazir Shechinato Letziyyon, Hoda’ah and Shalom [the middle one is the blessing of kedushat hayom]. On Rosh Hashana we add an additional three blessings: Malchuyot (kingship), Zichronot (remembrance), and Shofarot (shofar blasts). It is at the conclusion on these three blessings that we blow the shofar in the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh, thus they are called the tekiot di’me’ummad, blasts [blown] when standing, which are separate from the tekiot di’meyushav, blasts [blown] when sitting (which also number 30) that precede the Shemoneh Esreh.

In some congregations we find a third set, the tekiot belachash, the blasts blown when we are reciting the silent Shemoneh Esreh.

Our present-day order of TaShRaT, TaShaT, TaRaT for each series in tekiot di’me’ummad and the additional 30 blasts at the conclusion of Mussaf follows the custom of the Shelah, (as cited by the Baer Heitev, Orach Chayyim 592:1), who differs with both the Mechaber and the Rema. [The Mechaber indicates TaShRaT for Malchuyot, TaShaT for Zichronot, and TaRaT for Shofarot, while the Rema posits TaShRaT for all three.]

Insofar as today’s practice of blowing 100 blasts - 30 are actually sufficient. In fact, my good friend Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Rosh Kollel Aishel Avraham, recalls that when HaRav Yaakov Yitzhak Halevy Ruderman, zt”l, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshiva Ner Israel in Baltimore, was sick in bed on Rosh Hashana, he asked Rabbi Spivak, his student at the time, to blow the shofar for him. Not wishing to cause undue inconvenience, Rabbi Ruderman noted that 30 blasts would be sufficient.

Even so, we find that as a general rule we blow 30 blasts before the Shemoneh Esreh, another 30 during the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh, and another 10 following the Shemoneh Esreh, during the Kaddish. Following that, there are an additional 30 blasts - as we noted, some congregations follow the custom of the Arizal and blow those 30 blasts in the silent Shemoneh Esreh – thus totaling 100 blasts.”

Now we are left with a question: If 30 blasts are indeed sufficient, why do we blow an additional 70 and, if so, why are those not considered to violate the bal tosif, as you ask?

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: ‘Bal Tosif’ And The Shofar Blasts (Part I)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Colin H. Kahl, VP Joe Biden's new national security adviser.
Biden’s New NSA Chief Mocked Israeli Nuke Fears
Latest Judaism Stories
Duxvielfalt_2011

Contrary to popular belief, the Talmud never explicitly limits the ban on footwear to leather shoes.

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-bal-tosif-and-the-shofar-blasts-part-i/2003/10/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: