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Can a woman blow the shofar during Elul for herself? Can anyone?

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Does a woman fulfill the obligation to hear the shofar during Elul if she blows it for herself, or is this one of the mitzvot where a man (must? should?) perform the action on behalf of others? For that matter, can anyone fulfill the obligation by personally blowing, or do you need to hear someone else?

I have learned, though I don't remember where, that hearing the shofar must be in person, not over the phone. I am wondering about the case where that is not possible, not due to illness (when I think I've learned you would be excused) but because there is no minyan. Can one "self-serve"? Including women?

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1 comment

Consider further a deaf person who blows but can't hear their own production. Does blowing for yourself do anything or is it just hearing someone blow that matters? AA​ 6 days ago

2 answers

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According to the views cited in the Dirshu Mishna Brura1: if one is praying without a minyan, there is no need to blow shofar. It is (apparently) a custom for a community, not for individuals.

  1. Dirshu Mishna Brura 1st edition, תקפא footnote 6, in the name of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, הליכות והנהגות, תשרי עמ' ג; Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, ציץ אליעזר חלק י"ב סי' מ"ח. See there for further discussion regarding "making up" these shofar blasts in shul at mincha time if they did not blow shofar in the morning. (Rav Elyashiv: no need. Rav Moshe Feinstein: yes.)

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I would posit that there is no obligation of Shofar during Elul. It is a longstanding custom, but there are none of the hallmarks of an obligation, even Rabbinic:

  • No ברכה (blessing) associated with it
  • No calling out of the notes, as is required on Rosh Hashanah
  • Extreme leniency (at least in my experience) with regard to length/quality of the notes

On that basis, there would seem to be no need to blow the Shofar during Elul without a Minyan. (See e.g. Tzitz Eliezer 12:48 and Rivevot Ephraim I:394.) On the other hand, doing so would not seem to be forbidden in any way (e.g., without a Minyan or by a woman), as there is no Muktzah or other restriction on use of a Shofar except on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

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Calling out the notes is not required on Rosh Hashanah as far as I know. AA​ 6 days ago

Why do you limit yourself to "there would seem to be no need to blow the Shofar during Elul without a Minyan"? All your arguments apply equally to a minyan as well AA​ 6 days ago

Calling out the notes is not required on Rosh Hashanah as far as I know. - Strictly required, no. If someone is blowing Shofar for an individual or group (or obviously, for himself by himself) outside of the regular Davening, calling out the notes is not needed. But it is a very structured and (I believe) important part when Shofar is blown as part of Davening. But that is not done during Elul - i.e., a definite difference from RH. manassehkatz 6 days ago

The difference (but I don't have the solid proof - if someone can provide it that would be great, I don't have time to research it right now) is that on RH it is normally with a Minyan but the obligation - particularly as evidenced by the Brachah - applies even without a Minyan. On the other hand, during Elul I believe this is a "part of Davening with a Minyan", not to require a Minyan but rather something that goes "with Minyan Davening* and not a personal obligation. manassehkatz 6 days ago

Calling out the notes is practiced on Yom Kippur at Neilah in at least some communities, even though that blowing is 'only' customary. AA​ 5 days ago

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