Sunday, 13 September 2020

Blowing Shofar for Another

Question: I have been asked to blow shofar for people who are housebound. Should I repeat the berachos each time even though I have already fulfilled the mitzva?
Answer: The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 29a with Rashi; Shavuos 39a) teaches that Jewish people are spiritually responsible for each other. As such, one person can recite certain berachos for another even if they don’t need to recite it themselves. The Magen Avraham (167:40) explains that because of this responsibility (arvus), if one knows that another person hasn’t performed a mitzva, it is almost as if they haven’t performed the mitzva themselves. Therefore, one who has already fulfilled their obligation for kiddush can recite kiddush for another person who has not.
There is a machlokes as to whether one can recite a beracha on a mitzva that one is not commanded to perform. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 589:6) writes that as women are not obligated to hear the shofar, they do not recite the beracha as they cannot say vetzivanu, that ‘we are commanded’. Accordingly, a man blowing for women could not recite the beracha on their behalf.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 1:39-42; 4:50; 5:43) writes that this is the practice for sefardim, and women should not recite the beracha of shehecheyanu either. However, ashkenazim follow the Rema who writes that women can recite the beracha as the Jewish people were commanded collectively. Other sefardim follow the Ben Ish Chai (Rav Poalim OC 1 Sod Yesharim 12) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 589:23) who write that women may recite the berachos.
Nonetheless, the Rema writes that a man may not recite the beracha if blowing shofar for women if he has already heard shofar. The Rema (Darkei Moshe OC 589:2) quotes the Maharil who writes that a man may recite the beracha for a woman who cannot do so. Yet, the Rema disagrees, writing that while women may say the beracha if they want to, it remains optional, and so a man shouldn’t do so on their behalf.
The Mishna Berura (585:5) writes that even when blowing for other men, it is ideal for the ones listening to recite the berachos, rather than the one blowing shofar to repeat them.
In conclusion, one blowing shofar after they have already fulfilled the mitzva should ask one of those listening to recite the berachos. He may recite the berachos on behalf of other men if necessary.

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