Rosh Hashanah Daf 29 (scroll down for video shiur)
Rosh Hashana on Shabbat – Thoughts
By Susan Suna
The fourth chapter of the Masechet begins with a discussion of what happens when Rosh Hashanah is on Shabbat. Was the Shofar blown only in the Mikdash on Shabbat or was it also blown in Jerusalem? According to the Rambam, the Shofar was also blown in Jerusalem and surrounding cities within 2000 Amah that could see Jerusalem, hear the sounds of the Shofar, and were not separated by a stream as indicated by the Mishna. No other city could blow Shofar. And the blowing of the Shofar was limited to the time when Beit Din was in session, which was the first six hours of the day. Tosafot explains that the Shofar was only blown in the Mikdash. After the destruction of the Mikdash, since the Shofar reminds Am Yisrael of their father in heaven, the Rabbis didn’t want to cancel the Mitzvah completely. They therefore allowed the Shofar to be blown in Jerusalem and in the cities nearby as qualified by the Mishna. The Rashba states that the blowing of the Shofar in Jerusalem began once the Sanhedrin was exiled from the Gazit Chamber in the Mikdash to an outer area of Har Habayit. This was around forty years before the destruction of the Second Temple. Interestingly the Ramban states that at the time of the Mikdash, the Shofar was not blown in Jerusalem. The residents of the city were able to come to the Mikdash to hear the Shofar being blown. However it was permissible for nearby cities as qualified by the Mishna to blow Shofar on Shabbat Rosh Hashanah as the Rabbis didn’t want to burden them to leave their city and travel to the Mikdash.
Once the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai instituted that the Shofar could be blown on Shabbat Rosh Hashanah in a city where there is a court, according to the first opinion in the Mishna. Rashi indicates that this is a Beit Din of 23. Rebbi Elazar, in the Mishna, argues on the first opinion, and claims that Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai only permitted blowing Shofar on Shabbat Rosh Hashanah in a city where the Sanhedrin of 71 judges sat, which at that time was Yavne. The Mishna concludes with the Rabbis response to Rebbi Elazar that Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai instituted the practice both in Yavne and in any place where there is a court.
According to the Rif, Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi ha-Cohen, who lived in the 11th century, the term Beit Din refers to any court of three. The Rif’s Beit Din sounded the Shofar in Fez (Morocco). However his students did not continue the practice. (R. Y. Rabinowitz). In 1870, Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger moved to Jerusalem from Hungary. He wanted to blow Shofar on Shabbat Rosh Hashanah in 1871, 1904 and 1905. The interesting story is in 1904 when he requested permission to blow Shofar from a bedridden Rav Salant on behalf of Russian Jewry. He argued that the shofar has the power of saving the Jews, and since blowing Shofar on Shabbat is a rabbinic violation by one person, how can the Rabbinical leaders of Jeruslaem abandon the Jewish community in Russia and not save them? For more about this interesting historical event see Shofar on Shabbos, http://halachicadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Shofar-on-shabbat.pdf by Ari Z. Zivotofsky and Ari Greenspan. More recently, in 2006 Rabbinical leaders set up a Sanhedrein and blew Shofar on Shabbat Rosh Hashanah at the Beit Habehira Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Old City as reported by Haaretz. They indicate on their website http://www.thesanhedrin.org/en/ that they blew Shofar in 2009 when Rosh Hashanah was again on Shabbat.
Already in the Gemara, Rabbah expresses concern with allowing people to blow Shofar on Shabbat. While everyone is obligated in Shofar, not everyone is an expert. Therefore there is concern that one would carry the Shofar on Shabbat to a knowledgeable teacher and would end up carrying four Amot in a public space, violating a Torah edict. Our Gemara explains that blowing the Shofar itself on Shabbat is not an act of labor rather it is a skill and therefore not prohibited by the Torah but by Rabbinical decree. The Yerushalmi on Rosh Hashanah 18b also analyzes the two verses brought on our Daf regarding Rosh Hashanah: יום תרועה, וזכרון תרועה. On a weekday, Rosh Hashanah is יום תרועה, and we are obligated to blow the Shofar. On Shabbat Rosh Hashana, the day is זכרון תרועה and one is not obligated to blow Shofar. Where on our Daf, Rava rejects this position, the Yerushalmi sees it as a Torah prohibition based on a derivation of Scripture.
The next Shabbat Rosh Hashanah will be in 2023 /5784. May we be Zoche to hear the sound of the Shofar in the Beit Hamikdash.
Teachers: Yehidit Epstein & Dena Rock