JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute, spoke to Israel National News about the unusual situation of blowing a shofar at the Temple Institute on Rosh Hashanah, which fell on Shabbat.
This was the fourth time that the Temple Institute has restored the custom of blowing shofar on Shabbat in a Beis Din, a custom reinstituted by Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger in 1906 and approved by Rabbi Shmuel Salant, the Aderes and the Sdei Hemed, although extremist elements opposed Rav Schlesinger’s initiative. Rabbi Ariel recently published a 450-page book on blowing Shofar and taking the lulav on Shabbat, detailing the sources of the custom, which continued for over 1000 years after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, including in the Beis Din of the Rif in Fez, Morocco.
“There was great interest in participating in the observance of the mitzvah of blowing the shofar on Shabbat,” he said. “Families came from all over the country: from Tzfat, Bat Yam, Efrat, and also from the neighborhoods in Jerusalem. They also walked long distances to the Temple Institute to be part of the blowing of the shofar,” says Rabbi Ariel.
Ordinarily, rabbinic law prohibits blowing the shofar on Shabbat to prevent violations of Shabbat through the carrying of the shofar to synagogue. This restriction did not apply to the ceremony at the Temple Institute, as a Beis Din was convened to allow the blowing of the shofar, as detailed in the gemara.
According to him, “The prayer, in which about a hundred people participated, consisted of all shades of the spectrum – Sephardim, Ashkenazim, religious Zionists and haredim. Great scholars from the Mir Yeshiva also came with them, and a discussion of the sources about the methods in Babylon and Jerusalem developed. In the end, they wanted to glorify the mitzvah and the members of the Mir Yeshiva used the order of shofar blowing described by Rashi. Rabbis from Mea Shearim, who usually do not participate with religious Zionists in events, also came. Among those present was a very young boy, Malachi, of Bar Mitzvah age, but well-versed in all aspects of this issue. He came from afar, very excited, and brought his father and mother.”
Rabbi Ariel tells about the blasts themselves. “There was a meeting of the Beit Din, the Rabbinical court, because the blasts should take place during such a meeting. At the time of the shofar-blowing, there were seven members of the Beit Din who sat there and explained to the public the halachic aspects of the blast and then began sounding the shofar. The ruling states that the Beit Din determines that this is Rosh Hashanah – God leaves the Beit Din in heaven and abides by the ruling of the one on earth. That’s why after the tribunal announced ‘The new month is sanctified!’ three times, the whole audience replied, ‘It is sanctified!” and began blowing the shofar themselves.”
The prayer was held at the Temple Institute in the ‘Chamber of Hewn Stone’ hall, a name used in the Temple itself, where there are about 71 chairs. “The rest stood. It was truly a historic event. This is the fourth time we have held this event. We started in 2007, and continued in 2007 and 2018, and now one more time. In the past, we were a limited public and now there was greater interest. I wrote a book about this called Shofar and Lulav on Shabbat, a book that resonated to such an extent that there were also several localities where discussions were held on whether to renew the practices.”
To conclude, Rabbi Ariel says that a minyan was also held near the institute where they blew on Shabbat. “There was another minyan in the quarter of Lithuanians who also renewed the mitzvah. Two minyanim in the Jewish quarter blew the shofar on Shabbat.”