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Hachrazah 5770 Tishrei 3

Informal translation from Hebrew of the 3 Tishrei, 5770, (21 September 2009) statement:

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Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah which occurs on the Sabbath - Summary

The Shofar Blowing took place in “Beit haBechira” Yeshiva, formerly known as “B’tochechi Yerushalayim” in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem


The minyan in “Beit haBechira” Yeshiva, the prayers took place in the court (beit din) with the participation of:

Rabbi Tzvi Idan, Rabbi Dov Stein, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, and other ordained rabbis that arrived during the ocurse of the prayers.

The place was set as a “place of court”, by means of the meetings of the court that took place before Rosh Hashana. At the time of the shofar blowing, there were 23 worshippers present. From a halachic perspective, it is enough with a court of 3, according to the approach of many of the commentators and halachic deciders: Rash”i, Ri”f, Tosafot, Ra’ava”d, Ramba”n, and more. That being said, Rabbi Tzvi Idan ordained those present for the sake of the shofar blowing, in order to satisfy the opinion of the Ramba”m that the entire court needs to be ordained. The prayer took place at the earliest time, k’vatikin. Between the Torah reading and the shofar blowing, there was a meeting of the court for about half an hour; and that is, per the halacha, so that the blowing is done at the time that “the court is in session”. Different subjects were discussed related to the Temple and shofar blowing on the Sabbath. Rabbi Stein, who blew the shofar, requested authorization from the court to blow the shofar. Those present came to the decision that the court is fulfilling the decree of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai; and from the strength of that decree, the shofar blower fulfills the shofar blowing – like the decree of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai and his court. At the end of the blowing and the musaf prayer, those present again convened for a continuation of the meeting of the court, for approximately another quarter hour. Halachic questions were asked, and the ordained rabbis answered to those who asked. The purpose of the discussion – in order to fulfill the halacha – “as long as the court is in session”. Rabbi Stein, who blew the shofar, brought the shofar to the synagogue before Rosh Hashana.

In the Jewish quarter, there was another shofar blowing accompanying prayers in a different place, headed by Rabbi Rogin, in the presence of fifteen men. And thus it is also known that there was another minyan that took place in the city headed by Rabbi Leiper, per the rule of Jerusalem, and all the cities near it. Details regarding this minyan and those that participated have not yet been received.

Conclusions and Lessons

Ahead of Rosh Hashana 5781 (in another 11 years) it is proper to prepare in a foundational way. Advertisement should start early, to advertise a pamphlet explaining the halachic sides, the obligation to fulfill the mitzvah on Sabbath according to the decree of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai. A later prayer time should be set (7:00am or 7:30am) in order to allow as many as possible from the different neighborhoods of Jerusalem to arrive at the prayer. People that wanted to come complained that the hour set for the prayers made it extremely difficult for their families, especially those that lived at a distance, those that can’t arrive for prayer at the time of vatikin. Thus the door was shut to those that were interested in doing a mitzvah. It should be set at a synagogue that is well known. People arrived at the Western Wall, asked and searched and didn’t find the place.

Two minyans should be set up: One for those interested in a minyan at vatikin. A second for worshippers coming from far away neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

It is proper to prepare ahead of time the cantors for shacharit and musaf, and thus those to read the Torah and blow the shofar, and to inform the public. There were complaints regarding faults that occurred in this matter. Since there are those that refrain from carrying, there should be a supply of machzorim according to different versions ready for use in the synagogue.

In the early announcement – already from the beginning of Elul – it should be added that the public is requested to make contact with the organizers and to notify ahead of time on their planned arrival, to order a place to sit, or multiple places, in the synagogue, in order to allow proper setup for those that come.

Existence of multiple minyans should be announced ahead of time: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Chareidi, according to the different prayer versions, and each worshipper can reserve a place in the minyan with the prayer version that he desires. An orderly prayer in an orderly location, which takes place with proper song, leaves an impression on the worshippers, when each worshipper can find the prayer version that he desires, is a condition for success and expanding the number of those that come from year to year, and to return the decree of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai to its place as it used to be.

The Decree of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai – as it should be

In regards to the blowing of the shofar on the Sabbath in the coming years, a discussion should take place with the chief rabbis ahead of Rosh Hashanah which will fall on the Sabbath in 5781. The rabbinate will announce that in that year there will be shofar blowing on the Sabbath, according to the decree of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai, as he decreed, to blow “in every place that has a court”, that, as the approach of the Ri”f, the Ra”n, the Tosafot, the Ramba”n, and other Rishonim, who hold that it is sufficient to have a court of three. The Chief Rabbinate needs to announce central synagogues as a place where courts convene on Rosh Hashana, and that the shofar blowings will take place at a gathering of rabbis and Torah sages. It is proper that the rabbinate would sent an official message to every court, regarding the day of sanctification of the month and Rosh Hashana, and this includes the Molad of the moon, such that the court will defined as a “court that sanctified the month”, that knows with certainty the time of the sanctification of the month.

Every court should set for itself a place (a synagogue or a public hall like a community center, etc) in which it will sit for discussions a few times in which it will turn the synagogue in to a fixed place for the court. On the day before Rosh Hashana, the Chief Rabbinate should send messages to all the courts in the Land of Israel to prepare for the shofar blowing of Rosh Hashana, to prepare shofars, to prepare those that will blow as “emissaries of the court”, and also to set those who will lead the prayers, G-d fearing, with pleasing voices, and a proper set up place for the prayers fitting for the ceremony.

There is what to say, per the approach of the Ri”f, that this be done throughout the Jewish world in the Diaspora, for many of the Rishonim agree with his approach, that the shofar blowing can take place in any court, even outside the Land of Israel.

Every court in its place is responsible to announce the precise place where the shofar blowing will take place in the presence of the judges, and to appoint those that will blow the shofar that are “emissaries of the court”, per the language of Rash”i, and that should be according to the expected number of worshippers.

In small communities in which there is no regular court authorized by the Chief Rabbinate, or a Bada”tz, it is proper that the local rabbi set up a court together with two other rabbis in the community. The court would sit in the local synagogue, for clarifying halachic questions, monetary questions, damages involving neighbors, etc, for a few months before Rosh Hashana. A court which wants to blow the shofar according to the stringency of the Ramba”m, that the blowing needs to be done in a court of ordained rabbis, can be ordained – even in writing – by ordained rabbis of the Sanhedrin. The Rabbinate will announce times of the prayers and the shofar blowing, and also the time that they will finish, the end of six hours, which is the end of the sitting of the court, in other words, halachic noon. The rabbinate should announce in accordance with the decree of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai, there is a prohibition of blowing the shofar in private homes. The announcement will include a warning, not to carry a shofar from place to place on Rosh Hashana.

Thus the Rabbinate should also declare that there is an obligation on every person in Israel to hear the shofar blowing on the Sabbath, and therefore every person should go to the place which will be set by the court, in order to fulfill the positive commandment of shofar blowing.

From the year 5781 to 5794, Rosh Hashana will fall on the Sabbath six times, one after the other, that is to say every two or three years. It appears that with proper explanation and preparation, it is possible to fulfill this commandment in a complete manner, in every community and every corner of the Land of Israel and even outside the Land of Israel, according to the decree of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai.

These words are said for until the building of the Temple, which Israel should build soon.

Then, they will return to blow the shofar according to witnesses that saw the Molad of the moon, and the Sanhedrin of the generation will set the order of the blowing of the shofar, according to what will be renewed in the generation of the Third Temple, which should be built speedily and in our days.

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