How and Why We Blow the Shofar During the Month of Elul
The month of Elul is a month of preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. That’s why Jews blow the shofar (almost) every day of the month.
When to blow?
The optimum shofar-blowing time is right after morning services, when everyone is still together. Missed it? You might still want to catch a shofar-blowing some time before sundown.1 We blow the shofar every day other than Shabbat, starting from Elul 1 and ending on Elul 28. We do not blow on Elul 29, the day before Rosh Hashanah.2
What to blow?
Using a kosher ram’s horn, we blow a condensed version of the full sequence blown on Rosh Hashanah:
One long blast, three midsized blasts (with a little tiny blast), nine short blasts, one long blast.
One long blast, three midsized blasts (with a little tiny blast), one long blast.
One long blast, nine short blasts, one long blast.
That’s how it’s done in Chabad; there are others who just blow the first segment. On Rosh Hashanah, the sequence is much longer, with many more requirements and specifications.
For lots of reasons. Here are just a few:
- After Israel sinned with the golden calf, Moses spent 40 days pleading for forgiveness. Then he ascended Mount Sinai once again for another 40 days—after which he descended with the second tablets. This ascent, which began on the first of Elul and lasted until Yom Kippur, was accompanied by shofar blasts. To commemorate this, we blow the shofar during the month of Elul.3
- Elul is the month during which we search our souls in anticipation of the High Holidays. The soul-stirring shofar blasts inspire us to come closer to G‑d, as we read, “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?”4
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