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

The shofar may only be blown from the narrow opening. The narrow opening is the side of the shofar that is not attached to the animal’s head. If a person applied heat to the shofar in order to widen the narrow side and constrict the wide side, he would not fulfill the mitzvah by blowing from the formerly large side. Similarly, turning the shofar inside out (like an article of clothing) and then blowing from the wrong side would be unacceptable. Some Achronim disqualify a shofar which was altered on either end, even if the blowing takes place on the correct side.

[שו"ע תקפו, יב, ומשנ"ב ס-סב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 66-65

Must the interior of the shofar be entirely empty?

Although a shofar may not be inverted, it may be shortened or thinned out. There is no restriction on how much the inner or outer surfaces can be scraped down, as long as the shofar can still produce an audible sound. The sound does not have to be the same as the shofar’s original sound. Under normal circumstances, a shofar is prepared for blowing by removing the cartilage from its interior. This is not an absolute requirement, however; it is sufficient to merely poke a hole through the cartilage so that the shofar can produce a sound.

[שו"ע תקפו, יג-טו, משנ"ב סג, סה, סו, סז ו־סח, ושעה"צ קה]

Can a shofar be gold plated?

The Gemara states that a shofar which is plated with gold at the spot where the mouth rests is invalid. Some Rishonim explain that this is because the sound of the blast would be heard not just from the shofar, but from the gold plating as well. Others say that since the shofar must be placed on the blower’s mouth, a gold plate is not allowed to block that connection. According to this view, it is also invalid to blow into the shofar from a distance. If the shofar was plated outside of the area where the mouth rests, it would only be invalid if the gold changed the sound of the shofar.

[שו"ע תקפו, טז ו־יט, משנ"ב ע, עא, עה ו־עו, ושעה"צ קיב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 69 ו־74]
  • A shofar must be at least a tefach long. The Rishonim disagree about whether this prerequisite is min HaTorah or mid’rabonon.

  • The poskim disagree about whether it is permissible for a person who has larger fingers than average to blow from a shofar that is only a tefach long.

  • A shofar that is cracked across its circumference is kosher if there is still a minimal amount (a tefach) that remains from the small end of the shofar up to the place that is cracked.

  • Why is blowing the shofar permitted on Rosh Hashonah?

  • Can a non-Jew be instructed to do melacha for the sake of a mitzvah?

  • Is it permissible to blow two shofros at the same time?
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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