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Tekias Shofar

Brachah to be Motzi Others

  1. Individual. If one was already yotzei tekias shofar and wants to then be motzi less than ten other men, each man should make both brachos for himself (מ”ב תקפ”ה סק”ה). The general minhag is to be motzi them in any case; one should not protest this (שם).
  2. Ten. If he is being motzi ten men, one of them should make the brachos and the others are yotzei, since this is called a tzibbur (שעה”צ סקט”ו).
  3. Women. If he is being motzi women, he may not make a brachah for them, even bedieved. The Mechaber holds they do not make the brachos either; the Rama holds they make both brachos for themselves (רמ”א סי’ תקפ”ט ס”ז).

Didn’t Hear Brachos

  • If one came to shul after the brachos for the shofar were made [which is common for women who come to hear the tekios] and thinks he can make the brachos before the tekios start, he should quietly make the brachos to himself (מ”ב תקפ”ה סקי”א). Otherwise, he can make the brachos before the set of tekiah-shevarim-tekiah or the tekiah-teruah-tekiah.
  • If, while he was making the brachos, the baal tokeia started blowing, he should finish the brachah, but he lost that line of tekios since one needs to hear the tekiah from start to finish. He should make it up afterward.
  • If he arrived after the first series of tekios and wants to be yotzei with the tekios of Shmoneh Esrei, he may make the brachah mid-Shemoneh Esrei right before the tekios when he is at the right spot (חוט שני ר”ה עמ’ ס”א), in the same way a Kohen can make the brachah before Birkas Kohanim even mid-Shmoneh Esrei (מ”ב סי’ קכ”ח סקכ”ו). However, he should not make Shehecheyanu.

Noise During the Tekios

  • If one hears a sound besides for the shofar during the tekios but still heard the entire tekiah, he is yotzei. This is because it is an infrequent mitzvoh and dear to people, so they make sure to listen to the shofar without getting distracted by the other sound; thus, we do not say “two sounds together are not heard” and he is yotzei.
  • Still, the poskim write that everyone should make sure not to cough or clear their throats during the tekios so they hear all of them from beginning to end (מ”ב תקפ”ז סקט”ז). Also, one may not spit, grunt, or yawn out loud (מ”ב תקצ”ב סק”י). This is not because two sounds together are not heard; it is because we are concerned he will get confused due to the sounds of the coughing etc. and not listen well to the sound of the shofar.
  • For this reason, one should not bring small children to shul lest they distract the tzibbur with their games and noise (מ”ב תקפ”ז שם).
  • Similarly, people should not move chairs or tables during the tekios for the same reason. If, however, any of these sounds were made, but one still heard all the tekios, he is yotzei.

Blowing After the Makri Finishes

  1. The baal tokeia must only start the tekios after the makri finishes saying the whole word (מקור חיים סי’ תקפ”ה). Bedieved if he did not, the tzibbur is still yotzei since their mind is on the tekios (הליכות שלמה פ”ב סט”ו). However, once Maran the Gaavad of Yerushalayim made the baal tokeia repeat a tekiah because of this.

Two Breaths for a Shevarim-Teruah

  1. The poskim debate whether a shevarim-teruah should be blown in one or two breaths, as well as what is considered two breaths.
  2. Some say “one breath” means that the teruah comes straight after the shevarim without a pause (אבנ”ז או”ח תמ”ג תמ”ד, חזו”א או”ח קל”ו). Still, there must be a very short pause to end the shevarim (חוט שני עמ’ ע”ב).
  3. The Mishnah Berurah (סקי”ח) holds that “one breath” means without breathing between the two. However, there must be a pause, just less than the time it takes to take a breath. The Chazon Ish holds that is already considered two breaths.
  4. The Mishnah Berurah holds that “two breaths” means pausing between them for the time it takes to take a breath. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (ס”ח) and the Brisker Rav (פניני רבינו הגרי”ז עמ’ ס”ח) hold that the baal tokeia must actually take a breath [this means inhaling; presumably, exhaling the rest of his breath and then inhaling would be a longer-than-necessary pause.
  5. Ideally, we try to be yotzei all the opinions. Thus, one can divide them among the different sets of tekios (שו”ע ס”ד).
  6. By the Ga’avad of Yerushalayim, we do one breath according to the Mishnah Berurah – which is two according to the Chazon Ish – during the first set of tekios since that is for sure yotzei according to some. During the tekios in Shmoneh Esrei, they do the Chazon Ish’s one breath, and during Chazaras Hashatz, the Mishnah Berurah’s two breaths.

Length of a Teruah

  1. Rashi holds a teruah is three “kochos,” or a third of the shiur of what we call a teruah. That is the first opinion in Shulchan Aruch (תק”צ ס”ג). Tosfos holds it is at least nine kochos. That is the second opinion and the one we follow. This machlokes also has ramifications for the lengths of shevarim and tekios, as will be explained.
  2. The Mishnah Berurah (סקי”ב) rules that lechatchilah one should follow the second opinion; bedieved, he may rely on the first, which is the main one, if it does not create a contradiction within one line of tekios. Nevertheless, many are meticulous to fulfill both by dividing them up among the tekios.
  3. One can fulfill both opinions simultaneously for a teruah, since everyone agrees you can add on to it (שו”ע שם). Therefore, we blow at least nine blasts for every teruah (מ”ב סקי”ב).
  4. The true length of a teruah. It is important to know the true length of a teruah since that determines the tekiah and shevarim. The nine-blast teruah that we blow is between 1 and 1.5 seconds, depending on the baal tokeia [this is not an exaggeration; check and see for yourself].
  5. If the baal tokeia would blow exactly nine blasts, it would sound like six blasts to the tzibbur. Therefore, it is advisable to blow more than nine so as not to confuse the tzibbur.

Length of a Tekiah

  • A tekiah must be as long as the middle of teruah. I.e., in a tekiah-shevarim-teruah-tekiah, it must be as long as a shevarim-teruah; in a tekiah-shevarim-tekiah, as long as a shevarim etc.
  • The tekiah of a tek-sh-tr-tek must lechatchilah be equivalent in duration to 18 short blasts (שו”ע ס”ג), plus a bit (מ”ב סקי”ד), i.e., 19, since the shevarim is a drop longer than a teruah. In practical terms, this is no longer than three seconds.
  • Some say that the pause between the shevarim and teruah must be considered. Thus, a baal tokeia who inhales between the two must add the length of six kochos for a total of 25 kochos (אלף המגן ס”ו בהג”ה, תשובות והנהגות ר”ה עמ’ ס”ד) – no more than four seconds.
  • It is sufficient for the tekiah of a tek-sh-tek to be ten kochos long since that is a bit longer than a teruah. For a tek-tr-tek, nine kochos, which is no longer than 1.5 seconds, is enough.

Length of a Shevarim

  • We blow three shevarims, each shever longer than a teruah, but shorter than a tekiah, depending on which opinion is followed.
  • Therefore, for a tek-sh-tek, according to the first opinion, a shever should be less than three kochos, since three kochos is already a tekiah of a tek-tr-tek (שו”ע ס”ג). However, the Rama is meikel and holds a shever could be three kochos, since the tekiah of a tek-sh-tek is a bit longer and we only look at the tekiah of the current line.
  • According to the second opinion, it could be up until – but not including – nine kochos, since a tekiah is no less than nine kochos. The Mishnah Berurah (סקט”ו) writes that it is best for each shever to be just three kochos long, i.e., between a third and half of a second per shever. Therefore, do not be surprised at a baal tokeia who blows a short shevarim, since that is how it should be; on the contrary, it is improper to elongate a shevarim.
  • When blowing a tek-sh-tr-tek, each shever may be longer since the tekiah is also longer (רמ”א שם). Still, the Mechaber holds that the shever of a tek-sh-tr-tek should be no longer than that of a tek-sh-tek.

Sound Changed Mid-Tekiah

  • All shofar sounds are kosher (שו”ע תקפ”ו ס”ו). Therefore, if a tekiah changed in the middle from loud to soft or from clear to scratchy or went up a note, it is kosher as long as it did not have a full break (ארחות רבינו ח”ב עמ’ קפ”ג). Some lechatchilah make an upward change of note in the middle of a tekiah and shevarim (מנהג אמסטרדם ולאחרונה גם מנהג חסידי בעלז).
  • Still, some say that the Maharil Diskin was very makpid that the sound be steady and unchanging (תשובות והנהגות ר”ה עמ’ ס”א), but most poskim hold that is just a hiddur.
  • It should be pointed out that this hakpadah is primarily for those who blow a shevarim as a long sound that goes up and down, like ‘too oo too’ or ‘oo too’ (וכהוזכר בדרשת הרמב”ן ר”ה וכמנהג ליטא ורוסיא). Since the rise and fall separates the shevarim, any rise and fall will separate a tekiah and break it up. Those who blow a shevarim as several short tekios of one note with a pause between them, like the minhag of Poland and Hungary, have no reason to be makpid not to change the note.

Tekios in the Silent Shmoneh Esrei

  • Some blow tekios in the silent Shemoneh Esrei. One who is not up to the right point should stop davening to listen to the tekios and have in mind to be yotzei (מט”א תקצ”א סי”ג). If he went ahead and finished the brachah, he should wait for the tekios. They bang on the bimah to announce that they are blowing the shofar.
  • It would seem that the baal tokeia himself must be up to the right place in shmoneh esrei (כ”ק מרן גאב”ד ירושלים שליט”א).

Minhagim of Rosh Hashanah, Aseres Yemei Teshuva

Nuts

  • Some people do not eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah since “egoz” equals “cheit” in gematria [either by dropping the unpronounced alef in “cheit” or through “kolel” – counting the word “egoz” itself as one] (רמ”א סי’ תקפ”ג ס”ב). “Egoz” specifically is a walnut. Some also avoid “luz,” or hazelnuts (שו”ע הרב ס”ו).
  • Some people avoid other nuts as well, such as pistachios, almonds, and peanuts. Coconuts are not part of the nut family, and as such, may be eaten.
  • When? In many places, people do not eat nuts through Hoshana Rabah (קצה המטה סקט”ז). The Chasam Sofer’s minhag was to avoid nuts only on the two days of Rosh Hashanah (ס’ מחולת מחניים).
  • Nut cake. The minhag is not to eat a cake or dish containing nuts during this period, even if they are not noticeable (שו”ת באר משה ח”ג סי’ צ”ז) if people refer to it with the word “nut”, e.g., a nut cake. If the nuts are noticeable, it should be avoided even if its name does not include the word “nut.”
  • Peanut butter may be spread on bread or the like since even whole peanuts are only an addition to the minhag; when they are in a paste, it is something new and far from the original minhag. One may also put peanut butter in ice cream or eat Bamba.
  • The main idea is to stay away from anything which suggests or alludes to aveiros themselves. One should also remember that “cheit” also has the same gematria as “cheit” (The Kotzker Rebbe).

Sour Foods

  • Some people do not cook with vinegars or the like for Rosh Hashanah as a favorable sign (מ”ב תקפ”ג סק”ה). Here too, some keep this minhag until Simchas Torah. Therefore, during this period, they do not eat pickles or salads with a noticeably vinegary taste (מט”א ס”ג); they also avoid “chrain.”
  • One may eat food containing vinegar or something bitter as long as the final flavor doesn’t have a sour flavor, e.g., fish cooked with sugar and a bit of vinegar or lemon; mayonnaise; coleslaw; or a sauce for chicken that has both mustard and honey.
  • Spicy. The minhag is not to eat bitter or sour foods; there is no reason to refrain from eating spicy foods.

Anger

  • The beginning of the year should be a good sign. Thus, one should obviously be very careful not to get angry during this period so that he has a good sign, besides for the fact that it is a great issur. One should be happy and trust in Hashem with his teshuvah and good actions (מ”ב שם). Really, one should maintain this practice all year.

Sleep on Rosh Hashanah

  • There is a minhag not to sleep on Rosh Hashanah day. This is a proper minhag (רמ”א ס”ס תקפ”ג) since if one lies down on Rosh Hashanah day, his mazel also lies down (ירושלמי, מ”ב סק”ט). Sitting idly instead of davening or learning is tantamount to sleeping (מ”ב שם).
  • Rising before alos. Some say that the main idea of this minhag is not to sleep past alos hashachar (אלף המגן סי’ תקפ”ד סק”א, בן איש חי שנה א’ נצבים אות י”א) out of fear of judgment, or at least not past neitz hachamah (תשוה”נ ח”א סי’ של”ט).
  • Some say that one who does not usually rise at alos may sleep past alos on Rosh Hashanah since for him, sleep past alos is still “night sleep,” not “day sleep” (הגרשז”א, הליכות שלמה ר”ה פ”א סכ”ג). Nonetheless, if he wakes up after alos, it is proper to not go back to sleep (הגר”נ קרליץ, חוט שני ר”ה עמ’ נ’).
  • After midday. The Arizal says that one may sleep after midday since the defending malachis already awake then from the tefilos and tekios (מ”ב שם). Still, we, who are not on his level, should try to go to the beis medrash to learn after the seudah – or at least say Tehilim – until Minchah (מטה אפרים, אלף למטה תקצ”ח סק”א). If one’s head is heavy and he cannot do without sleep, he could sleep a little (ח”א) or sleep while sitting on a chair, which is not the type of lying down which is bad for his mazel (הגר”ח קנייבסקי טעמא דקרא עניני ר”ה). One who thinks he will not be able to daven properly without some sleep has poskim to rely on. This is especially true for women, and certainly on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

Zerachya Shicker is the translator for the English version of חוקי חיים. The Chukai Chaim is a halacha sheet in a league of its own. Started in August 2016 (Av 5776), the Chukai Chaim currently has a readership in the tens of thousands across the globe.

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