Excerpt from the upcoming Sefer on the Laws of Rosh Hashanah
It is the custom of Ashkenazi Jewry to blow Shofar throughout the month if Elul.
The Rosh in his conclusion of Tractate Rosh Hashanah records the Pirkei Direbbe Eliezer 46 that on Rosh Chodesh Elul Moshe ascended to heaven to receive the 2nd tablets. On that day they blew the Shofar proclaiming Moshe’s ascent to the public so they do not make another calculation mistake as they did by the golden calf. Due to this the Sages instituted that every year one is to blow Shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul for the purpose of arousing the people to repent and in order to confuse the Satan. The Rosh then concludes: This is the custom in Ashkenaz-to blow the Shofar in the morning and evening after prayers. The Tur 581 quotes his father and then writes “and there are those that increase in Selichos from Rosh Chodesh Elul”. In the Shulchan Aruch the Michaber 581/1 records only this latter custom of the Tur regarding saying Selichos and does not mention the blowing of the Shofar. The Rama however negates the custom of Selichos in Ashkenaz and states that they are rather accustomed to blow Shofar. From the wording of the Rama it implies that in exchange for the saying of Selichos throughout the month, the Ashkenazim blow Shofar. Perhaps the meaning behind this is that all Jewry begins to do some form of spiritual preparation in the month of Elul, the Sefaradim with the saying of Selichos, and the Ashkenazim with the blowing of the Shofar.
The reason behind blowing Shofar in Elul:
- On Rosh Chodesh Elul Moshe ascended to heaven to receive the 2nd tablets and on that day they blew the Shofar proclaiming Moshe’s ascent to the public. Due to this the Sages instituted that every year one is to blow Shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul. [See Background from Pirkei Derebbe Eliezer]
- Blowing Shofar arouses fear of G-d, and leads one to repentance. [Tur ibid; Kitzur SHU”A 128/2]
- The verse states “Blow Shofar [for a] month”. [M”A 581/2; 28 days in Elul, as on Erev RH we don’t blow, and 2 days of RH for a total of 30-Levushei Serud]
- Blowing Shofar refrains the Satan from prosecuting the Jewish people, as he recalls the day in which the great Shofar will be blown which is the date of his prosecution and death. [Hosafos Rav Nechemia Medovrana p. 1362 in SH”A Admur]
- Blowing Shofar confuses the Satan in regards to the date of Rosh Hashanah. [Hosafos Rav Nechemia Medovrana p. 1362 in SH”A Admur]
Do Sefardim also blow Shofar during Elul?
It is not the Sefaradi custom to blow Shofar after prayer during Elul. This follows the second opinion of the Tur which implies that those which increase in Selichos during Elul do not follow the custom of blowing the Shofar. This is implied from the Rama [and lack of mention of Michaber] that this custom only applies to Ashkenazim and not to Sefaradim. Nevertheless there are some Sefaradim that are accustomed to blow Shofar during their recital of Selichos in order to follow both opinions. [Kaf Hachaim 581/13] See Aruch Hashulchan 581/1 that writes all Jews are accustomed to blow Shofar during the month of Elul.
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