How to Care For A Shofar
A shofar is an ancient Jewish musical instrument made from a ram’s horn, used for religious purposes. It’s blown on Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur; the shofar is also sounded every weekday morning in the month of Elul leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Shofars are available in various sizes and shapes, depending on the animal chosen and the level of finish desired.
A ram’s, antelope’s, gazelle’s, goat’s, or Rocky Mountain goat’s horn can be used to make the shofar. These horns are made out of cartilage that can be removed rather than solid bone. Shofar is a Hebrew word that means “empty.” The animals’ horns listed above can be used as a shofar because they have split hooves and chew their cud.
According to the Talmud, a shofar can be manufactured from the horn of any Bovidae family animal except a cow, although a ram is most preferred. A coating of keratin surrounds a core of bone, with a layer of cartilage in between that can be removed to reveal the hollow keratin horn.
Types of Shofars
- Ram’s horn
It’s the most common and preferred type of shofar from Israel. It is blown today to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to offer his son as a sacrifice to God.
- Yemenite Kudu’s horn
The kudu horn shofar is most notable for its extended and curving body, which is made according to Yemenite traditions. The kudu shofar is made from an African antelope and has a loud brass tone, making it ideal for Rosh Hashanah and the end of Yom Kippur.
- Illustrated Shofar
In the same way, as menorahs and candlesticks are used for religious purposes, the shofar can be utilized for ornamental purposes. Hand-painted shofars are typically beautiful and unique; however, they are not Kosher for use in Jewish ceremonies.
- Silver adorned Shofars
Silver embellishments on the shofar’s body are another beautiful design. On fast days, it is said that the main ritual was held at the Temple in Jerusalem, with trumpets and shofars fashioned of ram’s horn and adorned with silver on the sides.
Cleaning the shofar
Once the shofar is blown on Jewish holidays and occasions such as Rosh Hashanah, it is essential to rinse out the horn with bleach. Because saliva from your mouth collects in the inner part of the horn while you blow it, the bacteria in your saliva interacts with animal tissues, resulting in an unpleasant odor.
It is advised that the shofar be cleaned before blowing it, as debris inside might generate poor and hoarse sounds. I recommend that you wipe the inside using an alcohol-soaked cotton cloth since that’s where most dirt collects. Use a tiny amount of alcohol into the nozzle, then shake to clean it quickly.
Here’s how to do it:
- Plug the mouthpiece with an earplug or finger cotton.
- Fill the huge opening with scented bleach and ensure it’s tilted upward. Keep an eye on the outside finish because the bleach may corrode it once it comes in contact.
- Let it sit for approximately 20 minutes – but not any longer because the bleach is quite drying. The bleach should then be poured out. You might need to repeat the step for a shorter period if the odor is too strong.
- Rinse well with water. You could try putting some peroxide in the bone to see if it would bubble out more.
- Rinse it again, then soak it in alcohol to help it dry. Use brushes and pipe cleaners to clean the openings.
- Pour in some borax and set aside for a while. After that, use the brushes and pipe cleaners to make sure you get all the borax out.
- Use a fan to dry out the shofar once you are done. You need to store it in a cool, dry place because moisture is likely to cause the growth of mould and cause cracks to form.
When purchasing a shofar, keep in mind that because the shofar is made from a genuine, living animal, there may be some sinew, muscle, or bone left inside the shofar, causing the stench. It’s crucial to get rid of a strong odor since it could detract from the mitzvah’s (commandments) honor, violating the premise that “mitzvot should not be despicable in your sight.”
Here are a few ways to prevent an unpleasant smell from forming on your Shofar:
Dissolve vinegar into water, then fill the shofar with synthetic vinegar and let it dry naturally. The shofar should then be soaked in warm soapy water for twenty minutes before drying. This procedure can be used a couple of times.
- Baking Soda
Pour a few scoops of baking soda into the shofar after dissolving it in water. Shake for roughly a minute after blocking the mouthpiece and large end. Pour off the liquid, rinse it, and let it air dry.
- Hydrogen peroxide
Fill the shofar mouthpiece halfway with hydrogen peroxide and an earplug, which will bubble as it cleans out the shofar of particles and residue. Pour it out after swirling it around the horn. This approach can also be used once or twice more.
- Neutralizing spray
Non-toxic, biodegradable shofar odor neutralizer spray removes any unwanted odors from your shofar and leaves it odor-free.
Polishing your Shofar
To maintain the condition of your shofar and ensure its usefulness for years to come, use a microcrystalline wax to buff the outer coat. A thin coat of olive oil can also be used to shine and keep the shofar polished. The most crucial thing is to avoid breaking or cracking the shofar, which would render it unkosher.
Shofars are a vital part of Jewish culture, having been in use since the Old Testament up until now. Caring for your instrument is crucial not only in maintaining the quality of the sound but for its aesthetic appeal. Visit our Judaica Store to find the perfect Shofar for sale for you, your family, or friends.