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Shabbat Rosh Hashana | 5770

Ask the Rabbi: Does the shofar become muktzeh after hearing it on Rosh Hashana?

Question: After finishing blowing or hearing shofar blowing on Rosh Hashana, is the shofar muktzeh from that point on?

Answer: First we have to check if it is permitted to blow the shofar after the mitzva is completed. If it is permitted, then the shofar is a kli shemelachto l’heter (a utensil used for permitted purposes) and will be able to be moved for any reasonable purpose.

This matter is actually the subject of substantial machloket. The Rama (Orach Chayim 596:1) says that it is forbidden to blow the shofar for no specific need on Rosh Hashana after he has fulfilled the mitzva. He (in the Darchei Moshe, OC 588:2) refers to earlier sources that indicate this approach. The Tur (OC 589) cites an opinion that a man may not blow shofar on Rosh Hashana just for a woman after fulfilling the mitzva himself, since the mitzva does not apply to her and thus it is blowing without justification. We reject this opinion because we rule that there is a value for a woman, although she is exempt, to hear the shofar. Otherwise, though, it would have been forbidden. Another discussion (Tur 590) mentions that one who makes the shofar blower repeat blowing when he is not required is making him violate the rabbinic prohibition of blowing the shofar without a reason. The gemara (Rosh Hashana 33a) also talks about children blowing the shofar for practice for the future without a mitzva need, implying that an adult should not do this.

On the other hand, the Taz (596:2) argues that blowing shofar is forbidden only on Shabbat, out of concern he may carry it in the public domain, but it is permitted on Yom Tov, when carrying is permitted. He argues that the sources forbidding blowing for adults refer to Shabbat. The Ohr Zarua (II, 266) in fact explicitly permits blowing shofar all day long on Rosh Hashana that does not fall on Shabbat. In the final analysis, most poskim forbid blowing shofar without a specific purpose after fulfilling the mitzva. One may blow to fulfill the minhagim to add more blasts (100, for most) than are strictly required for the mitzva.

One of the Taz’s arguments that it is permitted to blow after finishing the mitzva is that if it were forbidden, then it would be forbidden to move the shofar due to muktzeh. In fact, the gemara (Sukka 41b) assumes that it is permitted to carry a lulav after fulfilling the mitzva, and the Rama himself says only regarding Shabbat that a shofar is muktzeh. One might then argue that since we forbid blowing shofar after fulfilling the mitzva, it should also be forbidden to move. Furthermore, the Magen Avraham (588:2) says that a special type of muktzeh applies to a shofar, namely, muktzeh l’mitzvato (an object that is set aside for a mitzva may not be used for another, non-mitzva purpose). The Machatzit Hashekel (ad loc.) implies that this muktzeh not only precludes using the shofar for another purpose but even makes it forbidden to move. However, many assume that muktzeh l’mitzvato does not prevent moving the object (Tosafot, Shabbat 45a; see Tz’lach, Shabbat 44a and Mishna Berura 588:15).

In any case, the great majority of poskim assume that even though one may not blow the shofar beyond the needs, one can move the shofar (Mishna Berura 596:3 in the name of Acharonim; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (28:34)). The Mishna Berura (ibid.) explains that one cannot determine that a shofar is no longer slated to be used because it is possible that someone has not heard the shofar blowing and needs it. The Kaf Hachayim (OC 596:7) explains that since children may blow throughout the day, the shofar can be used for them.

The Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (20:(51)) wonders why we assume that one may move a shofar after finishing to use it but not move a brit mila knife after the mila (see the machloket between the Rama, Yoreh Deah 266:2 and Taz, ad loc.: 1). He suggests that is more common to unexpectedly find someone that is in need of shofar blowing than to find an eighth day baby who unexpectedly needs a mila.

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