End-blown natural trumpet without mouthpiece (423.121.21). The only Hebrew cult instrument still used at present. According to the rabbinic tradition, the shofar symbolizes the ram sacrified by the patriarch Abraham instead of this son Isaac. The left horn of this ram was the one heard on Mt. Sinai (Exodus XIX: 13, 16, 19); this is the first time the shofar is mentioned in the Old Testament. The right horn will announce the day of the Last Juddgement (Isaiah XVII: 13, Zachariah IX: 14), symbol of the salvation of Israel.
In biblical times the use of this trumpet was connected with both war and liturgy. Later it was sounded not only on feast days but also as a warning or in the event of a disaster, in an attempt to put an end to them. The Talmud determines the rules for its use and make. The only material to be used is the horn from a ram or an ibex. The natural shape and length of this horn cannot be altered, the least fissure being enough to render it useless. Even the ornamentations made of precious metals, a tradition kept until the destruction of the Temple, are also forbidden.
Nowadays, these rules are more flexible in Eastern and Central Europe. After soaking the horn in boiling water to soften it, it is flattened and L-shaped. The blowhole is made just by cutting the tip. The rim of the bell is quite often serrated.
The shofar, which only performs four calls is nowadays restricted to the liturgies of Roshhashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).
L. 30 x w. 5.8 x h. 14 cm.
Gift, Dr. Emilio Azzarini's Collection, 1964. IM 216