An Incriminating Shofar

Rosh Hashanah (3:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 5 years ago

During the week we made the transition from learning about Kiddush Ha'Chodesh to Rosh Hashanah, focusing on the mitzvah of blowing the Shofar. The first opinion in the Mishnah (3:2) teaches that any shofar can be used, except for the horn of a cow. The Mishnah thereby permits the bent horn of a ram or the straight horn of a yael (wild goat). R' Yossi however allows that use of a cow's horn as well. We shall try to understand the first opinion.

The Mishnah explains that the issue with a cow's horn is that it is referred to as a "keren", while on Rosh Hashana we required a "shofar". The Bartenura explains the requirement of a shofar on Rosh Hashana is learnt for the shofar that was blown on Yom Kippur in the yovel year, about which it is written "you shall sound a broken blast on the shofar".

The Tosfot Yom Tov notes that the Mishnah referred to the horn of a cow as being invalid instead of an ox. He explains that this was necessary since we learn that the horn of a cow is referred to as a keren from the pasuk that explicitly refers to an ox. Had the Mishnah only mentioned an ox, one might think that only the ox, which is mentioned in the pasuk, is invalid and not the horn of a cow.

The Tosfot Chadashim however notes that another reason is brought in the Gemara why such horns are invalid – ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor – "the prosecutor cannot become the advocat". In other words, since the horn of an ox can potentially arouse the memory of the sin of the golden calf (chet ha'egel) it would be detrimental to be used on the day of judgement. That being the case one might think that only the horn of an ox is invalid and not a cow's since we find that the cow comes to repair a sin. The Tosfot Chadashim directs our attention to Rashi in Parshat Chukkat. There he cites Moshe Hadarshan, who cites the parable when commenting on para aduma, explaining that the mother (para aduma) comes to clean up after the mess made by the child (sin of the golden calf). Consequently, it was necessary for the Mishnah to exclude the use of a cow's horn explicitly.

We find however the egel itself has been used to atone without facing the issue of ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor. During the inauguration of the mishkan, Aharan Ha'Kohen was told to offer a calf (Vayikra 9:2). Rashi there comments that this was to publicise that Hashem was going to atone through this egel for Aharon's creating the egel.

The Mizrachi explains that the issue of ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor is only lifnai ve'lifnim. For example, we only find the issue of wearing gold when the kohen gadol enters the kodesh ha'kodashim and not when he performs the rest of the avodah. The Gemara notes that the principle does still apply to the mitzvah of shofar since it shares the same status as the clothing that the kohen gadol, because it raises the zichoronot (remembrances) of Israel before Hashem. The egel that was brought during the inauguration however was outside, so there was no issue.

The Gur Aryeh however answers that the there is significant difference between the case of Aharaon Ha'Kohen and ours. One Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur the intention is not to atone for the chet ha'egel. Consequently, allusions to that sin at the time, is not a good strategy. If however one is attempting to atone for a particular sin, using the object that one sinned with is preferable. He explains using an example of servant who stole an object from the king. If he later requests something from the king and presents a copy of that object, then it would simply remind the king of the crime and be unwise. If however he wanted to beg forgiveness for the crime itself, then returning the stolen object would be the best strategy. Consequently, for Aharon Ha'Kohen during the inauguration, an egel was the appropriate korban.


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