The sound of the shofar is truly singular; its abrupt and powerful resonance capturing immediate attention. For Jews from all corners of the world, the highly distinctive sound is charged with symbolic significance, evoking a perennial yearning for deliverance and renewal. Indeed, the main mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah is to hear the blowing of the shofar, and its sounding at the conclusion of Yom Kippur service marks the end of the fast.
From biblical times to this day, the shofar was there in moments etched in national memory and was part of both jubilation and sorrow. It has served for a number of purposes, including ritual use in worship, in war, and heralding the ascent of kings to their throne, in addition to serving as a potent symbol for messages of joy, triumph, and redemption. People have used horns to make shofars for millennia – but while all shofars are made of horns, not every horn is suitable for making a shofar. What can it be made from, and how, and which materials and horns are unsuitable? Ahead of the High Holidays and the start of a new year, we would like to invite you to a special visit to the Biblical Museum of Natural History, whose extraordinary shofar exhibit introduces one of the world’s largest collections of shofars from different species. It explores the diverse world of horns and shofars and the various considerations and features of the kosher shofar. The exhibition also features artifacts and multimedia that weave a generations-spanning narrative, in addition to items that may not be used as shofars, including an Aboriginal didgeridoo – and even a unicorn’s horn!
The entire collection (and much more) can be viewed at the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Har Tuv B, across from the main entrance of Beit Shemesh on Route 38. The museum
Water Buffalo Shofar (Photo courtesy)
East Caucasian Tur