Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
What if your Baal Tekiah is Not a Master Blaster?

Halacha Talk A Shofar Mishap

Reciting a Bracha for a Mitzvah that one is not performing himself. The difference between men and woman when reciting a Bracha on the Shofar. The length of the Tekiah and Shvarim.


Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

Elul 5768
In the middle of Rosh *Hashanah *, Baruch arrives at my door with the
following shaylah:

I assumed a position as *chazzan* for *Yomim Norayim*, incorrectly
assuming that I would not be compromising any *halachos* for the
undertaking. I know the *baal tekiah *to be a learned person who serves
as *baal tekiah* pro bono purely for the sake of performing the mitzvah.
The rabbi of the shul is not halachically knowledgeable, but I assumed that
the *baal tekiah* was meticulous enough that he would know how to blow
shofar correctly.

I was very surprised when the shofar was sounded and the *baal tekiah*blew a very short
* tekiah*. I expected the rabbi to have him repeat the *tekiah*, but
instead, the rabbi continued by calling *shevarim-teruah*. This style of
sounding shofar continued throughout the entire the entire *davening* –
none of the *tekios* were as long as they should be, although it was
difficult for me to determine exactly how long each *tekiah* was.

I know that I must hear at least thirty kosher sounds. Fortunately, I
discovered a shofar blowing for women unable to attend the morning *
davening*. I know that the *baal tekiah* does not recite a *bracha*before this blowing. My question is: Do I recite a
*bracha* before he blows shofar?"

What an interesting way to start off the New Year!

To explain why the *baal tekiah* does not recite the *bracha* when blowing
only for women, we need first to explain whether, and how, someone may
recite a *bracha* for a mitzvah that he is not performing himself.

Let us examine a case where two people are obligated in a particular
mitzvah, such as reciting a *bracha* or hearing shofar, and one of them has
already fulfilled the mitzvah but the other one has not. In such a case, the
person who has already fulfilled the mitzvah may recite the *bracha* or blow
the shofar and the other fulfills the mitzvah when he hears the *bracha* or
the shofar. The person reciting the *bracha* or blowing the shofar, whom we
will call the *performer,* must have in mind to be *motzi* the other person,
whom we will call the *fulfiller. *In addition, the fulfiller must similarly
have in mind to accomplish the mitzvah by listening to the performer.

The same concept is true when someone reads megillah or *Parshas Zochor* for
a later reading but has already heard or read the megillah or *Parshas
Zochor* himself: Although the reader (who is here the performer) has
fulfilled the mitzvah already, he can still be *motzi *others who have not
yet heard the reading. This legal concept is called *yotzo motzi*, meaning
that someone who has already fulfilled the mitzvah (*yotzo) *may still be *motzi
*others in their quest to fulfill the mitzvah.

We do not yet understand why this is true only when he will be *motzi* men
and does not apply when he is blowing shofar exclusively for women. When the
*baal tekiah* blows shofar to be *motzi* men, he recites a *bracha* before
blowing shofar, even though he is not now fulfilling his obligation.
However, when he blows shofar exclusively to be *motzi* women, he cannot
recite a *bracha*. Why not?

To explain this phenomenon, we must introduce a halachic principle called *
areivus*, as in the statement *kol Yisroel areivim zeh lazeh,* *all Jews are
responsible for one another*. Because of the halachic responsibility we have
for one another*, *the unfulfilled requirement of one individual devolves
upon any Jew who is also commanded to observe this mitzvah even if he has
already fulfilled it (*Rashi, Rosh Hashanah *29a). Because of *areivus, *the
"fulfiller" accomplishes his mitzvah when he hears the "performer's" recital
as long as both of them intended that the fulfiller thereby accomplish his

This explains how a *baal tekiah* or *baal keriah* who has already fulfilled
the mitzvah recites the *brachos*, reads the megillah, and blows the shofar,
so that others may fulfill the mitzvah (*Rama *585:2 and *Acharonim; *cf.*Magen Avraham)
*. Therefore, if a *baal tekiah* heard the shofar earlier in the day and now
blows shofar for a male shut-in, either of them may recite the *bracha*before blowing. Similarly, even if Reuven has already recited
*kiddush* today, he may recite it for his wife. In all of these instances,
the "fulfiller" accomplishes the mitzvah by hearing the words or blasts of
the "performer."

Why are men different from women? Of course, this question has many answers
that are beyond the scope of our article. In our context, my question is why
the *baal tekiah* may recite a *bracha* when men are fulfilling the mitzvah
with his blasts, but he does not recite the *bracha* when his audience is
exclusively female?
The answer to this question is that *areivus* only exists when both the
"performer" and the "fulfiller" are obligated to perform this mitzvah (even
though the performer may have already fulfilled his mitzvah). However, no *areivus
*exists if one is not obligated in the mitzvah; subsequently, a woman cannot
perform a mitzvah from which she is exempt in order that a man will fulfill
the mitzvah. Shofar blowing is one of the time-bound positive *mitzvos* (*mitzvas
aseh she'ha'zman g'rama*) from which women are exempt. Since a woman is not
obligated to blow shofar on Rosh *Hashanah *, or to take *lulav* or live in
the *sukkah* on Sukkos, she may not recite the *brachos* on these mitzvos to
fulfill them for a man, nor may she sound shofar for his benefit. (Although
women have the custom to hear shofar, and they are thereby obligated to do
so [*Chayei Odom *141:7; cf. *Shu"t Salmas Chayim* #349 who disagrees],
since the *Torah* never required them to observe this mitzvah, the concept
of *areivus *does not apply.)

The reverse is also true – a man may not recite a *bracha* for a mitzvah on
behalf of a woman if she is not required to fulfill the mitzvah unless he is
himself fulfilling the mitzvah at the same time (*Rama, Orach Chayim *589:6).
In the latter case, he is reciting the *bracha* for himself, and therefore
he may include her in his *bracha* without the rule of *areivus*.) Since a
woman is not obligated to observe the mitzvah of shofar, the *baal tekiah*may not recite the
*bracha* on her behalf.

Who recites the *bracha* when women assemble to hear the shofar blowing?

The *Rishonim* dispute whether one can recite a *bracha* on a *mitzvah* that
one is not commanded to perform. Some contend that women should not recite
the *bracha* because one cannot say "*asher kidishanu bi'mitzvosav **
vi'tzivanu*," "He who sanctified us in His mitzvos and *commanded us*" when
Hashem never commanded a woman to perform this *mitzvah*. Sefardim follow
this opinion, and therefore Sefardic women do not recite a *bracha* on *
mitzvos* such as shofar and *lulav *(*Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim *589:6).
Ashkenazim rule that one may recite *vi'tzivanu* even if one is not
personally obligated, since *Klal Yisrael* collectively observes the

Because of this dispute, there are different practices whether to recite the
*bracha, *and who recites it, when women assemble to hear the shofar. In
some Ashkenazic communities, one woman recites the *brachos* on behalf of
the others, whereas in others, each woman recites the *brachos* by herself
before the shofar is sounded. Although Sefardic women do not recite a *
bracha* before hearing the shofar, as I mentioned above, in a group of women
including both Ashkenazic and Sefardic women, an Ashkenazic woman may recite
the *bracha* on behalf of the *Sefardiyot*.

By the way, because of the above reason, an Ashkenazic woman who arrives in
*shul* after the first soundings of the shofar on Rosh *Hashanah *, should
recite the *bracha* before the shofar soundings that she hears later,
whether they are during the repetition of *Sh'moneh Esrei* or at the end of

I noted before that although the *baal tekiah* (who already fulfilled the
mitzvah) may not recite the *brachos* when his audience is exclusively
female, he may recite the *brachos* of *kiddush* to be *motzi *women. Why is
*kiddush* different from shofar?

The answer is that whereas women are exempt from the mitzvah of shofar, they
are obligated to fulfill the mitzvah of *kiddush (Gemara Brachos* 20b) and
therefore the principle of *areivus* applies *(Rabbi Akiva Eiger, *comments
to *Magen Avraham *271:2). For this reason, a man may recite the *brachos*of
*kiddush* to be *motzi *his wife even when he has already fulfilled the
mitzvah. (Note that some *poskim* contend that a woman is not included in
the concept of *areivus* even in regard to *kiddush*. According to their
position, a woman should daven maariv before her husband recites *kiddush*Friday night (
*Dagul Meirevavah,* ad loc.).

Thus far we have explained why someone who already fulfilled the mitzvah may
recite the *brachos* if a male will fulfill the mitzvah with his blasts, but
may not recite the *brachos* if his audience is exclusively female.

Our original case, however, provides us with a new *shaylah*. Although the *baal
tekiah* was blowing predominantly for a female audience, he had one male
participant. He should he able to recite the *bracha* for his audience,
since one male is now fulfilling the mitzvah with his blasts and therefore *
areivus* applies. However, this is only if the man did not yet hear the
halachically mandated shofar blasts. Did he?

To answer this question, we need to explore the laws of shofar blowing, and
the specific blasts that Baruch had heard. If the original blasts had not
fulfilled the mitzvah according to *any* accepted opinion, then indeed
Baruch is still responsible according to all opinions to hear the shofar and
therefore he, or another man, should recite the *brachos* first. In this
instance, if he must still recite the *bracha*, then the *baal tekiah* could
recite the *brachos* for his audience.

On the other hand, if the sounds had fulfilled the mitzvah according to *
some** *major halachic opinion, then Baruch's requirement to hear shofar is
only questionable -- because of a halachic dispute. The general rule to
apply in these situations is that one should fulfill the mitzvah to make
sure that one fulfills the mitzvah, but without first reciting a *bracha*,
because of *safek brachos lehakeil, *one does not recite a *bracha* when its
necessity is uncertain. Thus, before deciding whether Baruch or the *baal
tekiah* recite *brachos*, we need to establish whether he had definitely not
fulfilled the mitzvah or whether it is possible that he had.

To answer this question we need to explore the topic, "How long must a *
tekiah* be?"

Although we usually assume that the *tekiah* blown to accompany a *shevarim*
-*teruah* must be longer than 18 *kochos*, which is about three seconds, and
that the *tekiah* that accompanies a *shevarim* or *teruah* alone must be at
least nine *kochos*, which is about 1.5 seconds. In actuality the *poskim*dispute how long a
*tekiah* must be, and the above lengths follow the strictest of the
opinions. For our purposes, we are trying to determine whether Baruch
fulfilled the mitzvah according to *any *accepted opinion.

Among *Rishonim*, we find three main approaches to explain how long a *
tekiah* must be:

I. The Raavad (*Hilchos Shofar* 3:4) contends that every *tekiah* must be
nine *kochos* (1.5 seconds) regardless which broken sound it accompanies. In
his opinion, a *tekiah* blown together with *shevarim-teruah *does not need
to be as long as the broken sound it accompanies.

II. The Riva and the Rivam, two of the early *Baalei Tosafos, *maintain that
the *tekiah* must be as long as the minimum length of the broken sound (*
shevarim*, *teruah*, or *shevarim*-*teruah*) it accompanies, and that a *
teruah* must have at least nine sounds (*Tosafos, Rosh Hashanah *32b). The *
poskim* dispute how long each broken part of a *shevarim* must be, but the
accepted practice is that each part must be at least the length of three *kochos
*(see *Rama *590:3*). *Thus, the accepted halachic understanding of this
opinion is that the *tekiah* accompanying *shevarim*-*teruah* must be at
least 18 *kochos* long, which is the stringent opinion that we usually

It is noteworthy that there is a basic difference between the Raavad and the
*Baalei Tosafos* whether the minimum length of a *tekiah* is an objective
nine *kochos* regardless of which broken sound it accompanies, or whether it
must always be longer than the minimum length of the broken sound it
accompanies. According to the Raavad, every *tekiah*, regardless of when it
is blown, must be at least nine *kochos*, and does not need to be longer.
According to other *Rishonim*, the minimum length of each *tekiah* is
determined by its accompanying broken sound.

III. *Rashi (Rosh Hashanah *32b) maintains that the *teruah* and its
accompanying *tekiah* may be as short as three short staccato notes, which
takes less than half a second to blow. According to his opinion, the *tekiah
* accompanying the *shevarim*-*teruah *need be only nine-to-twelve *kochos*long, or between 1.5 - 2 seconds. Whether it must be nine or twelve
*kochos* depends on the following halachic issue:

A *shevarim* must be a minimum of three broken sounds, each called a *shever
*. The *shever* should preferably be as long as three swift, staccato sounds
(three "*kochos*"), making the entire *shevarim* the length of nine staccato
sounds (*Mishna Berurah* 590:13). According to this opinion, the
*tekiah*accompanying a
*shevarim* must be at least nine *kochos* according to all three *Rishonim *opinions
cited above.

However, there are opinions that each *shever* should be *shorter* than
three staccato sounds, making the entire *shevarim* about the length of six
staccato sounds (*Tosafos Rosh Hashanah *32b, cited in *Shulchan Aruch*590:3;
*Mateh Efrayim*). In some communities, the practice is to blow some of the *
shevarim* according to this opinion, although the predominant custom is to
follow the first approach (*Rama *ad loc.).

According to this latter approach as to the length of a *shevarim*, there is
a halachic dispute among the *Rishonim* how long the *tekiah* accompanying
the *shevarim* must be. According to the *Raavad,* the *tekiah* must be at
least nine *kochos* long because that is the minimum size of every *tekiah*.
However, according to the *Mateh Efrayim's* understanding of the length of a
*shevarim*, the minimum length of a *tekiah,* according to Rashi, the Riva
and the Rivan, is only six *kochos*, not nine.

According to which opinion do we *paskin*? What if the *tekiah* ended
earlier? It is not unusual that the *tekios* that accompany *shevarim*-*
teruah* are not eighteen *kochos* long. The *rav* who *paskins *the *shaylos
* will make the decision whether to repeat the blast. For example, the *Mateh
Efrayim* rules that a *tekiah* for *shevarim*-*teruah* that was only nine *
kochos* long is kosher *b'dei'evid*, after the fact, meaning that he feels
that one may rely on his interpretation of Rashi's opinion combined with the
opinion of Raavad. However, most *poskim* seem to feel that this is

However, if the *tekiah* is less than nine *kochos*, then all authorities
agree that one has not fulfilled the mitzvah.

Should Baruch recite a *bracha* on the women's blowing? The answer is that
it depends: If indeed enough of the *tekios* for *shevarim*-*teruah* were at
least nine *kochos* for him to have minimally fulfilled the mitzvah
according to some opinion, he should not recite a *bracha*. Since Baruch was
uncertain exactly how short the *tekios* were, and he was uncertain how many
of them were indeed this short, then he may have already fulfilled the
mitzvah and he should not recite a *bracha*.

In discussing this topic, someone shared with me the following anecdote:

I know someone who was a *rav* in an 'out of town' community in *Eretz
Yisroel.* One Erev Rosh *Hashanah *he had no *baal tekiah* for the shul.
Shortly before* Yom Tov* a guest arrived, who claimed he was an expert
shofar blower.

Rosh *Hashanah *morning the *Rav *discovered that this guest's blowing
was inadequate, but he could not figure out how to rectify the situation
without embarrassing the guest. He then remembered that there was a Yemenite
(Teimani) bochur* in the *shul* who would blow a *Nusach Teiman *series
of blasts every year after *davening*. The *Rav *decided that *Nusach
Teiman* would be better than what they were currently hearing, so after
the first thirty sounds were complete, he banged on his shtender and
announced "*Nusach Teiman,*" as if this was the congregation's regular

The *bochur*, who had heard what the '*baal tekiah*' was blowing, and
realized what the *Rav* really wanted and proceeded to blow a perfect
series of shofar sounds according to Ashkenazi custom!

After *davening *was over, the guest commented to the *Rav*, "I didn't
know that *Nusach Teiman* was so similar to ours!'"

What is the moral of both this story and of Baruch's dilemma? For one, that
one should strive to attend a Rosh *Hashanah **davening *where the *rav* is
a *talmid chacham* who can *paskin* *shaylos*, and the *baal tekiah* and *baalei
tefillah* are G-d fearing people. Although we cannot ever truly tell whether
an individual is sincerely G-d fearing, we can often tell if he is not.

Wishing everyone a New Year of much growth in *Yiddishkeit* and fear of

This Shiur is published also at Rabbi Kaganof's site
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר