Types of shofars

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Types of shofars

The Shofar has been used by the Jewish People to commemorate holidays and important events (processions, going to war) even during their exodus from Egyptian captivity, before arriving in the land of Israel. Indeed, when the children of Israel received the Torah at mount Sinai, the blast of a Shofar emanating from the thick cloud on Mount Sinai made the Israelites tremble in awe (Exodus 19:16). It has since become a fixture in the Temple and particularly in the celebration of the Tishrei holidays, a function it retains to the present day.

The Temple used two types of Shofars. Those used in Rosh Hashanah were straight, Shofars from wild goat horn ornamented in gold, whereas the Shofars used in Yom Hakippur were curving, ram horn Shofars decorated in silver. We do not have any description of the types of Shofars used for “secular” purposes (processions, war making, etc.).

There are many types of Shofars different Jewish communities developed during their scattering following the destruction of the second temple and modern technologies and craftsmanship have introduced many more.

Generally the type of the Shofar has been defined by its shape (curved Shofar or straight Shofar?), function (Tekiah Shofar or Teruah Shofar?) and material (Ram horn, Kudu horn, or synthetic Shofar?).

Perhaps the most intriguing subtype of Shofar for those interested in the evolution of Jewish customs, and one appealing to those concerned for animal rights, is the synthetic Shofar. Those using it need not feel guilty about slaughtering an innocent beast to fulfill ancient tradition, and price and quality consistency are better as well.