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How many shofar blasts do we hear on Rosh Hashanah?

by Rabbi Simcha Bart

  

Library » Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » Shofar | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Each of the following three - tekiah (long blast), shevarim (three medium blasts), and teruah (series of at least nine short blasts) - is considered as one sound.

The Torah obligation is satisfied through hearing 30 sounds:1

tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah x3 = 12
tekiah, shevarim, tekiah x3 = 9
tekiah, teruah, tekiah x3 = 9

Total sounds: 30

However, it is customary to hear 100 sounds* from the Shofar on each day of Rosh Hashanah.

Here is the calculation:2

A total of thirty sounds (as described above) are blown during the official shofar blowing ceremony which follows the Torah reading.

During three breaks in the silent part of the Musaf Amidah, another 30 blasts are sounded, ten (tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah; tekiah, shevarim, tekiah; tekiah, teruah, tekiah) during each break.

We so love G-d's mitzvahs that we decide to listen to the shofar once again
The same thing repeats itself during three breaks in the repetition of the Musaf, another 30.

Following Musaf, during a break in the Kaddish, another 10 blasts are sounded.

30
30
30
10
____
=100

Incidentally, many have the custom of hearing another thirty blasts (the same sequence as the original thirty) at the conclusion of the services. This is in order to further confuse the Satan. After we have concluded the 100 obligatory blasts, Satan fully expects us to return to our homes to enjoy our meals -- time for him to peacefully organize his ironclad case against us. But no... we so love G-d's mitzvahs that we decide to listen to the shofar once again -- who knows, perhaps we didn't concentrate properly during the first go around! Seeing our commitment and devotion, the Satan realized how his arguments are futile, and we are blessed with a sweet and happy new year.

[*Ed. note: for the symbolism in 100 sounds see this article from www.Jewishnewyear.com]

Footnotes

  • 1. Technically the Torah obligation is to hear a Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah set three times. However, we are not sure what the Torah's Teruah is - is it the Teruah we know, the Shvarim, or the Shvarim-Teruah combo? We therefore hear each possibility three times.
  • 2. The following is the calculation according to chassidic/Sephardi custom. In most Ashkenazi synagogues the shofar is not sounded during the silent Amidah of the Musaf. Instead they complete the 100 sounds after the prayers.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
Shofar
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Amidah
Highlight of every prayer, recited silently while standing. Weekday Amidah consists of nineteen blessings, Sabbath and holiday Amidah contains seven blessings.
Musaf
The additional prayer service added (after the morning prayers) on Sabbath, Biblically mandated holidays and the first day of the Jewish month.
Kaddish
A prayer sanctifying G-d's name which is sprinkled throughout the daily prayers and is recited by the leader of the services. This prayer is also recited by mourners during the first year of mourning, and on the anniversary of the death.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.