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Wednesday
Sep052018

THE REBBE’S SHOFARS

By Y. Michal

“The black one is too hoarse,” said Feivish, sounding worried.

“On the other hand, the yellowish one is too old and is no longer like the old days,” rejoined Simcha.

“I think we will take a new one,” decided Feivish. “New, fresh, with a loud, clear voice that can easily be heard even in the women’s section.”

True, it is not polite to listen in to the conversations of adults, but Feivish and Simcha were sitting near me, so apparently it wasn’t a secret or something else that was important.

No, I am not mistaken. I remember the conversation precisely and I am convinced that is what they said. They were going to replace the chazanim of the shul!

I am really surprised that Feivish plans on replacing Lazer, the steady Rosh Hashana chazan. Lazer is a very good chazan and has a powerful voice, not hoarse at all. Lazer has a big, black beard and a thunderous voice. There is no reason in the world to replace him!

Furthermore, from the conversation I overheard, it sounds like Feivish plans on changing the Yom Kippur chazan too, R’ Tzvi. True, he is not young anymore. I think he is long past 60, but in his blondish beard there are very few white hairs and his voice is as strong as ever.

Feivish might be thinking this is no big deal, to change the regular chazanim of the shul, but I think it’s major and won’t just let it pass. We will protest! Sign a petition! Demonstrate!

I am really surprised at Feivish’s plans to hire a new chazan. I think we can easily check whether R’ Lazer and R’ Tzvi’s voices reach the women’s section.

As I thought about how to get the two Chassidim to the chazan’s lectern and ask them to project their voices while I stood at the end of the women’s section, Feivish could be heard saying, “So tomorrow, I will go and buy a new shofar for the shul, one with a loud sound, instead of the old, croaking shofars we have now.”

Oy! I had suspected them wrongly! Feivish wasn’t talking about the chazanim at all! He was talking about old shofars. And he is definitely right. These shofars have been in use for many years and our shofar-blower in shul has to work hard so that the shofar is heard throughout the shul.

Downcast and blushing, I went over to Feivish to ask his forgiveness for wrongly suspecting him. Goodhearted Feivish of course told me it was nothing and to reassure me, he told me about the Rebbe’s special shofars.

Did you know that throughout the years, the Rebbe was the one who blew the shofar? Do you know the story of the shofars the Rebbe blows? Listen …

Although the Rebbe is the one who blows the shofar in 770, it wasn’t always that way. The one who blew the shofar the first Tishrei after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz was Rabbi Dovber Rivkin. R’ Rivkin had been the one to blow the shofar for the Rebbe Rayatz in the last years.

A year later, Rabbi Yosef Menachem Mendel Tennenbaum replaced him. He asked the Rebbe to blow the shofar but the Rebbe declined. He finally agreed to say the brachos but R’ Tennenbaum blew the shofar.

In the two years that followed, R’ Tenenbaum continued asking the Rebbe to blow the shofar as Chassidim all over the world requested. The Rebbe blew the first t’kia and R’ Tenenbaum blew the rest.

It was only in the years that followed, from Tishrei 5716, that we had the privilege of hearing the Rebbe blow the first 30 sounds, every year.

In the way the Rebbe blew the shofar, it was apparent that this was something holy and that great secrets and spiritual avoda were to be found in these t’kios.

Near where the Rebbe stood, on the platform where the Torah is read, several shofars were placed, which he covered with various colored handkerchiefs. The Rebbe arranged them again and again in different formations and no Chassid in the world managed to figure out the secret behind this. Near the shofars were sacks of pidyonei nefesh that Chassidim had submitted to the Rebbe.

The Rebbe used several shofars during the t’kios:

The first shofar was the shofar of the Tzemach Tzedek. This shofar is black and white and was used for many years until it became pasul (unfit for use). The Rebbe said to fix it by cutting off the pasul part, but now the shofar is pasul because of many cracks.

Another shofar is the shofar of the Rebbe Maharash which is known as the black shofar. This shofar too became pasul and was fixed and is still kosher today.

Another shofar is the Rebbe Rayatz’s shofar. It is white and smooth with no twists and ridges.

Another special shofar is one from the Rebbe’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok. It is yellowish and its curve is pronounced.

In addition to these, there are another two shofars which the Rebbe used in certain years: After his heart attack on Shmini Atzeres 5738, the Rebbetzin asked that they find a new shofar for the Rebbe that is easier to blow. Two shofars were imported from Eretz Yisroel and they are called the Israeli shofars.

The Rebbe used these two shofars for only three years: 5739, 5740 and 5741. Then he went back to using the first four shofars.

It is interesting to note that over the years the Rebbe mainly used the shofar of the Rebbe Maharash and even when he used shofars that were easier to blow, he went back to using this shofar.

By the way, R’ Tenenbaum continued to blow the t’kios during the davening and he used one of the Rebbe’s special shofars. His children continue the tradition today, blowing the shofar in 770. Each year they continue the practice of choosing one of the shofars of the Rebbeim.

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