- Question: [Wednesday, 17th Elul, 5781]
If one is praying without a Minyan is he to blow Shofar after Shacharis? Practically, for example, if I am Davening at home should I blow Shofar after Davening, and should I blow Shofar for my wife and children during Elul? I have heard conflicting answers to this question and would like to receive a practical directive.
While it is not an obligation to blow/hear Shofar when praying without a Minyan, nonetheless it is proper for you to blow the Shofar even when you are Davening alone at home, and likewise it is proper to be blown on behalf of other individuals and family members for the sake of invoking in them the spirit and desire for repentance.
I believe that the misconception lies in the following matter which has led you to hear conflicting answers: The Poskim of today discuss whether the Ashkenazi custom of blowing shofar during the month of Elul is an obligation also upon an individual, and practically conclude that is not is not an obligation upon the individual, and hence there is no requirement for every individual to purchase a shofar during Elul and learn how to blow it, or be careful to hear it every single day even if he missed the Minyan. However, this does not come to negate the benefit and Hiddur to blow Shofar even when one is alone with a Minyan. Thus, in answer to your question according to all it is a good thing for you to blow the Shofar even in such case.
Explanation: The Ashkenazi custom of blowing shofar during the month of Elul is to take place after Shacharis, as writes the Rama. Now, it is unclear from the text as to whether this only applies if there is a minyan present, or is to be done even when there is no Minyan. Some Poskim conclude that the institution to blow Shofar in the month of Elul was only established in the presence of a Minyan, however a person praying privately is not required to blow. The reason for this is because the blowing of the shofar in Elul is to commemorate the initial blowing done in public in front of the congregation in the times of Moshe, as recorded in Pirkeiy Derebbe Eliezer. Likewise, the concept of blowing the shofar is mainly to arouse the public in repentance and so much the private individual. Other Poskim, however, rule that one is to blow the Shofar even when praying in private, as in the end of the day it has the power to arouse a desire for repentance even amongst the individual and is no different than the saying of Selichos which is recited even in private. Practically, while one can argue that it is not obligatory for one to blow the Shofar when Davening in private, it is certainly a good thing to do so and indeed we find that the Rebbe was accustomed to blow the Shofar even when Davening in private.
Sources: See Rama 581:1 that it is to be blown after Shacharis; The following Poskim rule that there is no need to blow it when without a Minyan: Tzitz Eliezer 12:48; Rivivos Efraim 1:394 in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky and many other Rabbanim who he corresponded with; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:3; The following Poskim write to blow it even without a Minyan: Siach Yitzchak 264; Nitei Gavriel 4:9 and footnote 14
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