Rav Mordechai Yehuda Leib Winkler (1845-1932, Hungary) was a student of the Ketav Sofer, the son of the Chatam Sofer and served as the Rabbi and Rosh HaYeshiva of Mád in Northern Hungary. His book of responsa, Levushe Mordechai, contains 1555 separate responsa addressed to 174 different locations (including 4 to the United States), testifying to his popularity and importance as a posek. And he continues to be seen as an important and reliable posek in the Charedi world today.
This teshuva addresses the technical question of why it is that a brit milah can be split between two mohels, whereas shofar blowing cannot be divided between two blowers except in extenuating circumstances. The answer, he argues, is that brit milah is a communal responsibility and therefore, there is additional merit for every person who is involved in the ceremony. On the other hand, the mitzvah of shofar blowing is an obligation on every individual which is enacted in community because of the power of doing mitzvot en masse and because not every individual is able to blow for themselves. Because it is an individual obligation, there is no additional merit to have a second shofar blower, and on the contrary, if somebody begins the mitzvah, we instruct them to finish it.
This year, when so many people will miss the communal aspects of Rosh Hashanah, and in particular the experience of hearing shofar in the synagogue, it behooves us to remember the individual nature of the mitzvah of blowing shofar. Though there is an aesthetic preference to hear the shofar amongst the masses, the mitzvah of blowing the shofar is ultimately incumbent on each and every one of us as individuals. It may be comforting to remember that this is a mitzvah that we are able to fulfill on our own, and its meaning and importance doesn’t change whether we hear it in shuls or in our homes.
|שו”ת לבושי מרדכי אורח חיים מהדורה תניינא סימן קיט|
… והנה לענ”ד יש ליישב, דשם בתקיעות כל יחיד ויחיד חייב בפני עצמו, כמ”ש בריש פ’ בתרא דר”ה [כ”ט ע”ב], ואין חיוב על חברו לעשות בעבורו מצוה ולהוציאו, רק שנוהגין כן משום ברוב עם, כמ”ש בסי’ תרי”ט במג”א [סק”ג] ובכ”מ, וגם אין כל אדם ואדם בקי, אבל במצות מילה הוה חיוב פרטי על הב”ד למולו אם לא מל האב, וכל אחד ואחד שייך במצוה זו… וא”כ לענין זכיה במילה ג”כ אפשר לומר דראוי לחלק המצוה כל כמה דיכולים לזכות בו, כיון דחיוב על כל ישראל, זוכה בחלק מה שראוי לזכות, וחיוב מצוה זו דוחה המצוה דהמתחיל אומרים לו גמור, משא”כ בתקיעת שופר אין שום זכיה לחברו להוציא את חבירו, רק ישראל קדושים לזכות את הרבים, אבל אין שייכות לומר גם אני אזכה בחלקי, מה חלק יש בו עליו, משא”כ במילה. ואפשר זה ג”כ הטעם בהקרבת קרבנות, דודאי החיוב על הב”ד ועל הכהנים לעבוד עבודתם וכל אחד ואחד ראוי לזכות בחלק העבודה ששייך ביה, על כן לא אמרינן המתחיל במצוה אומרים לו גמור, וזו סברא מספקת לחלק ביניהם לפי”ז…
|And in my opinion, it is possible to reply that in the case of shofar blowing, every single individual is obligated in their own right… and there is no obligation on one’s fellow to do the mitzvah for them and exempt them. It’s simply our custom to do this because “In the presence of multitudes the king is glorified” … and not every person is skilled enough (to blow shofar). But in the mitzvah of milah, there is a specific mitzvah on the beit din to circumcise the baby if the father does not. And every individual has a part in this mitzvah… And therefore, regarding the merit to participate in the milah, it is possible to say that it is appropriate to divide the mitzvah between as many people as can merit it. Since it is an obligation on all of Israel one can give the honor to whomever it is appropriate.. And the obligation of this mitzvah outweighs the requirement that someone who starts a mitzvah, we tell them, complete it.|
This is not the case for shofar blowing where there is no merit for one to fulfill the obligation on behalf of one’s fellow Jew. The holy collective of Israel brings merit to the masses but it is not possible for one to say, “I will also receive my portion”, for what portion does the individual have in this mitzvah as opposed to milah. And it is possible that this is also the reason that the offering of sacrifices can be split between different people. Because certainly, the obligation is on beit din and the Kohanim to do the temple service, and every one of them is appropriate to merit a part of the service that belongs to them. Therefore, we don’t say (in that case) one who starts a mitzvah must complete it. And this reasoning is sufficient to explain the difference between them…
Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (1878-1953), better known by the name of his magnum opus, Chazon Ish, was a major posek in Europe for more than two decades before moving to Israel in 1933 and settling in Bnei Brak. In the years that followed he became one of the foremost poskim in the entire world. He did not write responsa in any great number, but he was consulted on nearly every major halakhic issue of his time and his decisions continue to be authoritative, particularly in the Charedi community. Indeed, it may be said that the Chazon Ish was the pre-eminent leader of the Charedi community in Eretz Yisrael from shortly after his arrival until his death 20 years later in 1953.
In this text, he explores the question of the individual’s relationship to the second set of shofar blasts (the tekiyot demeumad) which are sounded during the repetition of the musaf amidah. He determines that those who are not able to come to synagogue can still fulfill the mitzvah of shofar at home by hearing thirty blasts and they have not sinned by missing the additional blasts that are sounded only during the repetition of musaf in synagogue. These additional blasts are an obligation on the community rather than the individual. Therefore, so long as the individual has done their part to ensure that these additional blasts will be sounded in shul, they have fulfilled their obligation towards them.
Once again, in a year when many people will not be attending communal services, this approach provides a framing where everyone, whether in shul or at home, belongs to one large community, supporting in whatever way they can the continued observance of the mitzvah of shofar. Those forced to stay at home can arrange to hear the first blasts (the tekiyot demeyushav) but the second blasts are only blown in a communal setting. Nevertheless, those at home are not excluded from this mitzvah. In actuality, the additional shofar blasts during musaf are being sounded partly on their behalf.
|חז”א או”ח-מועד קל”ז ס”ק ד’|
ויחיד שלא בא לביהכ״נ ולא שמע תקיעות דמעומד לא חשיב עבריין על שלא קיים מצות שופר, דמעולם לא נתחייב היחיד בתקיעות דמעומד, אלא חטאו שהוא פורש מן הצבור ואינו משתתף עמהן בתפלת הציבור שהיא מצוה ובכלל התפלה של רה”ש גם מצות שופר על סדר הברכות, ואין חומר בשמיעת תפלת הש”צ ברה”ש יותר מכל השנה, ודעת ריטב”א דתקיעות שעל סדר הברכות הן להמתקת התפלה כתקיעות של תעניות, ואמנם לאלו האומרים שאסור לדבר בין דקיעות דמיושב לתקיעות דמעומד משום הפסד הברכה משמע דיש בזה מצוה דרבנן של שופר דרה”ש ומ”מ אין תקנתם לחייב כל יחיד לשמוע קול שופר אלא חובת הצבור היא וחוב על כל יחיד לכונן בעיר תפלת ש”צ בעשרה, אבל אינה חובה על היחיד בתקיעת שופר מדין מצות שופר של רה”ש.
|The individual who does not come to the synagogue and does not hear the additional shofar blasts during mussaf is not considered a sinner for failing to fulfill the mitzvah of shofar. Musaf shofar blowing was never required of the individual, and their sin is that they removed themselves from the community by not participating with them in communal prayer which is a mitzvah. Included in the prayer of Rosh HaShana are the additional shofar blasts which are incorporated according to the blessings of musaf amidah, but there is no greater requirement on Rosh Hashanah to hear the prayer of the sha”tz than there exists all year round. And the opinion of the Ritv”a is that shofar blowing together with the blessings is to sweeten the prayer like the shofar blowing on public fast days. However, according to those who say that it is forbidden to speak between the first shofar blowing (tekiyot demeyushav) and the second (tekiyot demeumad) because of losing the blessing (on hearing the shofar blowing), it sounds like [the additional shofar blasts during musaf] are rabbinically obligated. . Nevertheless, this rabbinic decree does not obligate every individual to hear the additional blasts, but rather, the obligation for these blasts is on the community and it is the obligation of every individual to ensure that there will be communal prayer in the city on Rosh Hashana. . But there is no obligation on the individual to hear these additional blasts as a function of the mitzvah of shofar on Rosh Hashana.|
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