Mending a Sacred Horn
By: Haim Greidinger Translated from Maariv (Israel).
For many [Jews in Israel and abroad], the coming New Year will be marked by the traditional ceremony of blowing the shofar [the horn, customarily that of a ram] on the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). However, while many are preparing for the High Holiday and buying the horns for ritual use, firm owners caution that this year there are numerous counterfeits and that it isn't at all clear whether the horns offered on the [local] market can be regarded as kosher [acceptable for use under Jewish religious law].
About This Article
On the High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah, Israelis wait each year to hear the blowing of the shofar. However, Haim Greidinger reports, this year it appears that the market is flooded with horns made in Morocco and China and a large number are suspected to be "non-kosher."Publisher: Maariv (Israel)
Non-Kosher blowing of the Shofar
Author: Haim Greidinger
First Published: September 11, 2012
Posted on: September 16 2012
Translated by: Hanni Manor
Categories : Israel
In every synagogue anywhere in the Jewish world, there is a person, the shofar blower, who is in charge of blowing the shofar as prescribed — which is a key commandment pertaining to the Jewish New Year. However, elements traditionally dealing with the manufacture of horns for ritual use claim that the market has been flooded with horns made in Morocco and China, so that many of the horns bought by shofar blowers are faulty and unacceptable for use.
They say that some 30% to 40% of the horns are getting cracked in the manufacturing process. Israeli horn manufacturers discard such faulty horns. However, manufacturers operating overseas are often gluing the cracked horns. Under the Jewish religious law, such practice is prohibited, as the shofar should be "made of one piece" [and any crack or hole in it that affects its sound renders it unfit for ritual use].
The commandment to hear the shofar blowing is well known [as one of the oldest and most sacred rituals in the Jewish faith]. The blowing of the shofar consists of a series of sounds sounded in a specific order: tekiah — a straight, unbroken blast, shvarim — a tekiah broken into three one-second segments, and terua — a staccato division of the tekiah into nine rapid-fire notes. The shofar is blown on each of the [two] days of the High Holiday, between the morning prayer and the festive Mussaf prayer. The process of preparing the shofar for use as prescribed under the commandment is highly complex, as the horn has to be straightened without cracking it.
"Gluing with super glue"
Rabbi Aryeh Levin, who is in charge of the division of ritual objects and shatnez [garments made of both wool and linen, considered incompatible and prohibited for use under the Jewish law] at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Rabbinate, explains: "People who are unfamiliar with this sphere are unaware of the challenges, in terms of the Jewish law, involved in the manufacture of a kosher shofar. Unfortunately, in Morocco the manufacture of horns for ritual use is done by local Moslems in the absence of supervision on the part of [Jewish] religious authorities and such horns have been imported to Israel this year. When holes or cracks are created in the horn, they are glued with polyester or with super glue, an unacceptable practice which renders the horns faulty and prohibited for use under the Jewish religious law."
Levin further says: "We would have expected the shofar blowers, who are under the responsibility to enable the worshippers attending the prayers at the synagogue to fulfill the commandment to hear the shofar blowing, to show more responsibility and integrity. It's a pity that on this High Holiday they fail to fulfill the commandment trying to save a few dollars."
Avraham Ribak, co-owner of Barsheshet Ribak Shofarot, one of the oldest manufacturers of horns for ritual use in the world, yesterday [Sept. 10] commented on the counterfeits flooding the [local Israeli] market: "It's all fake, the certificates guaranteeing fitness [of the horns] for use under the Jewish law are dubious. Many of the horns are glued. A shofar made by us may cost anywhere from 100 to 400 shekels [approximately $25 to $100], depending on its quality," Ribak says. "However, what's going on in this sector is simply anarchy. People are looking for the lowest price; that's all they are interested in."
"They are putting us out of business"
Shimon Keinan, the owner of Kol Shofar, manufacturer of ritual horns, which is located in the Golan heights, agrees with the complaints on the situation in the market. "They are putting the Israeli firms out of business [undercutting us on price] and misleading the public," Keinan says. "The horns imported from Morocco and China are unfit for ritual use under the Jewish law. In the manufacturing process, a large number of the horns are discarded as unfit for ritual use — up to 30% of the total manufacture. The horn manufacturers in Morocco and China are operating without supervision on the part of [Jewish] religious authorities and [rather than discard faulty horns,] they patch up cracks in the horns, so that the buyers cannot notice them."
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