Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The Siren’s Wail
‘If a Festival Falls on Erev Shabbos…’
(Chullin 26)



The mishnah on our daf refers to the custom in Talmudic times of blowing a shofar on Erev Shabbos to remind people that Shabbos was imminent and to therefore refrain from all prohibited labor.

The mishnah notes that the shofar was blown even if Erev Shabbos landed on a Yom Tov. Since some melachos – e.g., cooking and carrying – are permitted on Yom Tov, it was necessary to remind people that Shabbos was coming so they would cease any melachah permitted on Yom Tov but prohibited on Shabbos. Normally blowing a shofar on Yom Tov is prohibited mi’derabbanan, but the sages waived the issur to prevent Chillul Shabbos.

What if Yom Tov falls out on a Sunday? The mishnah states that the shofar was not, but Havdalah was recited to remind people that certain melachos were now permitted.

To Blast

Rashi and Tosafos assume that on an ordinary Erev Yom Tov, the shofar was blown to remind people of the approaching Yom Tov and its prohibitions. And that is why the mishnah had to inform us that the shofar was not blown for a Yom Tov that followed Shabbos. (It was not blown since no one was doing melachah anyway.)

Or Not To Blast

The Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos 5:20), however, indicates that a shofar was never blown on Erev Yom Tov. Why, then, did the mishnah tell us that a shofar was not blown at the end of Shabbos if Yom Tov immediately followed it? Why would it be?

According to the Rambam, a shofar was normally blown on Motzei Shabbos to inform everyone that they could perform melachah again. If the following day, Sunday, though, was a Yom Tov, the shofar would not be blown since they could not, in fact, start doing melachah again.

Shabbos Is Coming!

The custom of blowing a shofar before Shabbos was discontinued after our exile from Eretz Yisrael, but the Rema (Orach Chayim 256:1) notes that many communities in his day would appoint an individual, a shamash, who would loudly proclaim the approaching Shabbos every Friday afternoon.

The Chofetz Chaim in his Biur Halacha commentary states that this person should proclaim Shabbos’s arrival when Friday is a Yom Tov, too. In his Mishnah Berurah commentary, he lauds those community leaders who volunteer to perform this much-needed service. Great is their merit, he writes. Their reward will be children who are gedolei Yisrael.