A Shofar is a natural instrument made from animal horn that has been in use since Biblical times. The shofar is mentioned frequently in the Hebrew Bible. It was a shofar blast that emanated from the thick cloud on Mount Sinai and made the Israelites tremble in awe (Exodus 19-20). The shofar was used the announce holidays (Psalms 81:4), to sound in the New Year (Leviticus 7:9), in procession with the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6:15, I Chronicles 15:28), to signify war (Joshua 6:4, Judges 3:27), and just as a beautiful musical instrument (Psalms 98:6, 47:5).
It is important that the shofar used is kosher. There are specific requirements for a shofar to be considered kosher. First, the shofar must be from an animal which complies with the kosher standards for eating the animal. These standards can be found in Leviticus 11:3-8 and Deuteronomy 14:4-8. According to these rules, anything that chews the cud and has a cloven hoof would be ritually clean. However, cow horns and animals in the cow species cannot be used to make shofars. The horn of a cow or bull is called in Hebrew “keren” and not “shofar.” In addition, the cow/bull horn is forbidden because of sin of the Golden Calf committed by the Israelites coming out of Egypt.
The two animals horns most commonly used to make shofars are the African kudu which gives us the Yemenite shofar and the ram which, of course, gives us the rams horn shofar. Additionally, the shofar can have decorations; however these cannot affect the natural sound of the shofar. Finally, many prefer the shofar to have a bend as this reminds us to bend our hearts to G-d.
Therefore, there are two basic kinds of shofars: the Yemenite and the Rams horn. The rams horn shofar is considered by many to be the more genuine shofar. When Abraham was on the verge of sacrificing his son, Isaac, G-d send an angel to stop him. Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by the horns in the thicket. This ram was provided by G-d for sacrifice in Isaac’s place. Some say than Abraham took the horns of this ram, cleaned them and made the first shofar. The rams horn shofars are preferred for use on Rosh HaShannah because they serve as a reminder of Abraham’s devotion as we ask G-d for redemption for our sins.
The Yemenite Shofar has a much more recent history. The Jews of Yemen (a country on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula) had no access to the horns from rams. Therefore, to make shofars and fulfil the mitzvahs of sounding the shofar, horns from the Kudu, a type of antelope, were brought from Africa. These were brought across the narrow Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The kudu fulfilled the standards for making a kosher shofar. Yemenite shofars can be quite spectacular; they are elongated spirals in shape and have a deep resonance which some liken to an echo off a mountain.
At Shofar.co you will find an amazing variety of both Yemenite shofars and rams horn shofars. They come in many sizes and finishes. All the shofars for sale at Shofar.co are kosher and of the highest quality. Shofar.co also offers beautiful shofars decorated with silver plating in a number of inspirational designs.