What is the minimal length of a shofar?

A shofar must be at least a tefach long. The Rishonim disagree about whether this prerequisite is min HaTorah or mid’rabonon. The reason behind this measurement is based on the following: The average width of four fingers pressed together is slightly less than a tefach. When a person blows, part of the shofar must be visible so that people do not think that he is creating the sound from his mouth. A tefach-long shofar is just large enough to slightly protrude from the blower’s fingers.

[שו"ע תקפו, ט, משנ"ב נד, וביה"ל ד"ה ארבעה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 59]

May a small person blow from a small shofar?

The poskim disagree about whether a person who has larger fingers than average may blow from a shofar that is only a tefach long. Some are lenient, while others say that the shofar must be slightly longer, so that it will protrude slightly from his fingers. All opinions agree that a smaller than average person may not use a shofar that is shorter than a tefach. A person who only has a shofar that is shorter than a tefach should still blow, but without reciting a brocha. According to some Rishonim, he can still fulfill his Torah requirement in doing so. Even according to those who disagree (see above), he should still blow, since the mitzvah would be fulfilled to some extent.

[משנ"ב תקפו, נד, וביה"ל ט, ד"ה ארבעה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 57 ו־64]

May a shofar be glued together? 

A shofar that is cracked across its circumference is still kosher, provided that there is a minimal amount (a tefach) that remains from the small end of the shofar up to the place that is cracked. Even if part of the shofar was already severed along the crack, it is of no consequence as long as the minimal amount of the shofar remains. If a minimal amount does not remain, the shofar may be used if the cracked area is glued together. A glued shofar should only be used if there are no other shofros available.

[שו"ע תקפו, ט, משנ"ב מט, נ, נא, נב, נג ו־נו, ושעה"צ צב; וראה ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 61]
  • Under pressing circumstances in which there are no other shofros available, a shofar with a sealed hole in it is still acceptable if it is mostly intact and it either retained its original sound or is plugged with the original material.

  • The poskim say that although a cup with a hole in it can still be used for netilas yadayim under certain circumstances, a cracked cup is invalid.

  • When only a minor area of a shofar is cracked, the problem can be solved by fastening it with string or rope.

  • Can one fulfill the mitzvah when blowing the shofar from the wrong side?

  • Must the interior of the shofar be entirely empty?

  • Can a shofar be gold-plated?
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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