by Mordechai Djavaheri
There are lots of videos and guides out there about how to blow shofar. I know, because I was tasked with teaching a course on practical Halacha last Elul zeman and had just the summer to learn how. I watched and read practically everything available in English and Hebrew on the internet, but I didn’t get anywhere until I discovered Rav Avrohom Reit’s videos on All Daf and his books Teka BeShofar, Mastering Shofar Blowing and EZ Shofar: Everyone’s How-to Guide.
Rav Reit runs Camp Yoreh Deah, where many practical topics like shofar, shechitah, safrut, and matzah baking are taught, and he has been teaching and perfecting shofar blowing for many years, among his other skills. His books offer clear descriptions and directions that bring the mitzvot in your hand to life.
Teka BeShofar has everything you need to become a professional shofar blower, from the basics to the pro tips and tricks, FAQ’s, and troubleshooting. He has great charts that apply the complicated rules of when to go back for mistakes in blowing, describes the various styles of each sound, and gives solid purchasing advice. His second book on the topic, EZ Shofar is the quick starter, condensed version of the former, with more pictures and basics. It’s all about posture, breathing, and blowing.
I read both cover to cover, got my hands on a few different shofarot (I went shopping a couple times), practiced in yeshiva late at night for a month, and delivered a successful module which got my class blowing quite impressively in just a week. This is a book at least every Rav should have handy, as I got two messages this past Erev Rosh Hashanah about how Baalei Tekiah got sick and backups were needed. Since then, I’ve run the module an addition two times in and out of yeshiva with much success, and more good quality content has also been produced in print and on the internet. My shofar repertoire has expanded and my skills keep getting better. It all started with R’ Reit.
The Seforim are distributed by Feldheim. R’ Reit also gives private classes for groups and individuals.
This year picked up Rav Bentzion Ettlinger’s new book The Shofar from Mosaica Press. The author is the veteran Baal Tokea at Khal Adath Yeshurun in Washington Heights and lover of all things shofar. The reader is introduced to a litany of categorized halachot and Minhagim of every shofar species, shofar sound, shul participant, and part of davening.
It is a very thoroughly researched and comprehensive contemporary sefer that must also be available to any serious student of Shofar. Personally, it’s nice to have a likut of what’s out there, but what I enjoyed and valued more when reading through the sefer was observing Rav Ettlinger’s personality and personal shofar experiences bring the words to life. His interactions with and Mesorah from his great Rebbeim, Rav Schwab and the Novominsker Rebbe, as well as his own independent research of quirk issues such as Siamese shofarot that he presented to Rav Yitzchak Yosef are priceless and now recorded in Halachic history. אשריו ואשרי חלקו.
It was a treat taking my class on the long trek down the hills of Washington Heights to meet Rav Ettlinger in person, explore his shofar collection, and allow some of the boys to blow for him.
SeforimChatter had a podcast with Rav Ettlinger last year: https://seforimchatter.com/2022/09/21/with-rabbi-bentzion-ettlinger-discussing-the-shofar-the-halachos-minhagim-and-his-new-english-sefer-about-it/
R’ Ettlinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agav: Buying Shofarot
I should mention that Rav Levi Yitzchok Meisner of Shofar HaMeshuper (718-810-0130), an Elul pop up store in Brooklyn, has also been a tremendous aid and shofar rebbe to me. He knows the ins and outs of every manufacturer and hand selects a stunning inventory of the best shofarot you can get your hands on. If you need a “magical” shofar his is the only address.
The dozens of shofarot I order for my classes come from the gracious shop of R’ Eli Malka of Shofarot Yerushalayim (https://jshofar.co.il/). His shofarot are top quality at an unbeatable price. Ribak-Bar Sheshet (http://www.shofarot.co.il/) is great, too, but the price scale does not match up for the quality, it would seem to me.
Certainly, one should not buy before trying every single shofar in the store, but if you’re going to run a course and teach Talmidim how to choose and how to blow, you need a strong inventory for them to learn from. The picking itself is a melacha and a lesson in my module. Make sure you don’t buy any of the treif shofarot they sell on Amazon, though! They have all sorts of pesulim, especially chatzitzot.
In jest, I’ll close by noting how R’ Reit has books on Shofar, Kapporos, and Arba Minim. It’s only a matter of time until someone produces a guide to administering malkot on Erev Yom Kippur in anticipation of Yimot HaMashiach, and that will also become a module in my class. ועוד חזון למועד.
 One friend who is a young rav of a small shul actually attended a crash course what we ran in Elul and called me up 36 hours before Rosh Hashanah – he was going to have to learn to blow in 36 hours for exactly this reason! Hashem Ya’azor! Baruch Hashem, he chanced to have sat in on that workshop.
 And, if you’ll allow an informal comment: I pretty much said everything he said in class already, but when he said it, the students listened and took the ideas seriously!
 You can find the slides here (https://www.yutorah.org/lectures/1043021) and a playlist of the good videos I’ve curated here (https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq-sywv5n-3TQfP4FN9qv-k0GQpteTnxG&si=tsvA6QJV2sohE4pu) on shofar production, picking, and blowing.