Shulchan Aruch Chapter 590:  The Correct Order Of Shofer Blowing (9 Chapters)

Note:  The REMA is in brackets []


1. The number of blows on is required to hear on Rosh Hashanah is nine.  This is because the Torah writes “Teruah” by the Jubilee (יובל) and by Rosh Hashanah three times.  Also, every “Teruah” has a blow [1] before it and after it.  From the tradition we learned that every “Teruah” of the seventh month refers to one (hence three Teruahs each containing a blow before it and after it).  On both Rosh Hashanah and the day of atonement of the Jubilee we blow nine blows.  On each (of these holidays) we repeat Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah, Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah and Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah. 


2.  This “Teruah” that is written in the Torah, we are in doubt if this is the blow that we call “Teruah” or if it is what we call “Shevarim” or if it is both of them together (what we call ShevarimTeruah); therefore, to remove ourselves from uncertainty, it is necessary to blow Tekiah-Shevarim-Tekiah three times, Tekiah-ShevarimTeruah-Tekiah three times and Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah three times [2]. 


3.  Some say that the length of time one blows a Tekiah is identical to that of a Teruah.  Furthermore, the Teruah consists of [3] three short notes that are three blows of any length called טרומיטין [4].  Because of this, caution must be taken not to lengthen any one of these three notes.  [Other opinions hold that we don’t worry if the Shevarim was lengthened a little bit as long as it was not extensively lengthened as such is our custom.]  For if it was lengthened, it is no longer a “Shever” but becomes a Tekiah.  The Tekiah must be lengthened when one blows the Tekiah of Tekiah-ShevarimTeruah-Tekiah more so than that of Tekiah-Shevarim-Tekiah and that of Tekiah-Shevarim-Tekiah more than that of Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah.  However, if one extensively lengthened any Tekiah, we don’t worry that the other blows didn’t have the propper length [5].  Similarly, one may lengthen the Teruah as much as one desires.  Also, if one adds to the three short blows in the Shevarim and makes four or five, this is of no concern. 

(We go back to the dispute over the composition of the Teruah.) Others say that the composition [6] of each note consists of three sub notes so the composition of a Teruah is comparable to three of these notes, which is nine sub notes [7].  Plus, the length of a Tekiah is that of the nine sub notes in a Teruah.  Be cause of this, we are not worried if the Shevarim was lengthened a little bit [8].  It is also necessary to lengthen the Tekiah of Tekiah-ShevarimTeruah-Tekiah to that of twelve sub notes.  And one who did not lenghten the Tekiah as such does not fulfil the Mitzvah according to both opinions.


4. One is required to blow the three notes of the Shevarim in one breath.  As for the three Shevarim notes with the Teruah of Tekiah-ShevarmimTeruah-Tekiah, some say that you are not required to blow them in one breath as long as you don’t wait longer than it takes to inhale and others say that you must blow them in one breath.  One who fears heaven will satisfy both opinions.  Also, the תקיעות דמיושׁב [9] shold be done in one breath (togeather with the other blows) and the תקיעות דמעומד [10] should be done in two breaths. [The common custom is to do everything with two breaths and it should not be changed [11].]


5.  If one blew Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah in one breath you fulfill the commandment but there are those who say you do not fulfill the commandment.


6.  If one extends the last Tekiah of Tekiah-ShevarimTeruah-Tekiah as much as two Tekiahs in order that it should be counted both as the last Tekiah of Tekiah-ShevarimTeruah-Tekiah and as the first Tekiah of Tekiah-Shevarim-Tekiah, it is only counted as one Tekiah.  Others say that it is not even considered as one Tekiah.  [If you blew one Tekiah between two sequences of blows and stipulated which sequence it should be counted with, for that one you are Yotzai [12].]


7.  If one erred by Tekiah-ShevarimTeruah-Tekiah by blowing only two Shevarim notes (instead of three) and mistakenly starting blowing (the next blast, Teruah); if one remembered right away then he should blow one Shevarim note.  But if one did not remember until he finished the Teruah started in error, this does not invalidate the first Tekiah that was blown, but one goes back and blows the three Shevarim notes and goes on.  But if this happened by Tekiah-Shevarim-Tekiah or by Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah, even the first Tekiah is invalidated. 


8.  If you placed the Teruah before the Shevarim of Tekiah-ShevarimTeruah-Tekiah, or you placed a Shevarim after a Teruah in Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah [13], or if you blew two Teruahs one after another, or you blew after the Teruah with difficulty so that it doesn’t sound like a Tekiah but sounds like a Teruah or after you blew the three Shevarim notes you were quiet and then blew another Shevarim, even one, in all these cases it is considered an interruption and even the first Tekiah is invalidated. 


9.  If you blew two Tekiah-ShevarimTeruah-Tekiah or two Tekiah-Shevarim-Teruah or two Tekiah-Teruah-Tekiah correctly and you made a mistake on the third one, you only need to repeat the last one that you erred on.  If you blew on the wide end of the Shofer, you are not Yotzai.  [After they blow, the Chazon should say the verse “אשׁרי העם יודעי תרועה” and “אשׁרי” and return the Sefer Torah to its place. ]

[1] Literally, “something”

[2] 27 blows total

[3] Literally, “the length of the Teruah”

[4] M.B: And others say the Teruah consists of 9 short notes.

[5] Literally, “we don’t worry that there was no length above”.

[6] Lit. “length”.

[7] According to all opinions, the Teruah has three notes.  One holds that each note is a single blow.  Hence, the Teruah is three short blows.  The other opinion holds that the Teruah consists of nine blows, arranged in a trio;  (blow, blow, blow), (blow, blow, blow), (blow, blow, blow).

[8] Since the length of time for a Tekiah is a whopping nine sub notes long, if one lengthens a little a few of the sub notes in the Shevarim, there is no way one of them could be transformed into a Tekiah. 

[9] Tekiahs blown not in the order of prayer see 585:4. 

[10] Tekiahs blown in the order of prayer see 585:4.

[11] The Mishna Brura says that if you blew them all in one breath, you fulfill the Mitzvah.

[12] Fulfill the commandment

[13] The following wass translated by the Mishna Brura as such since the literal meaning is confusing.