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Rosh Hashanah – Are Women Required to Hear the Shofar?

Women are exempt from the obligation of Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, in accordance with the general rule exempting women from "Misvot Aseh She’ha’zman Gerama" – Misvot that apply only at a particular time. As the obligation of Shofar applies only on Rosh Hashanah, women are exempt from this Misva.

Nevertheless, if a woman comes to the synagogue and hears the sounding of the Shofar, she is credited with a Misva. Although she has no obligation to hear the Shofar, she is considered as having performed a Misva if she chooses to do so. And thus a man who has already fulfilled the Misva is allowed to blow the Shofar again for his wife or another woman. This is not considered a violation of Yom Tob by producing sounds, because the woman fulfills a Misva by hearing the Shofar, and thus it is permissible to blow the Shofar for her just as it is permissible to blow the Shofar for men. In such a case, however, no Beracha is recited over the Misva, neither by the woman nor by the man blowing the Shofar. Women who perform a Misva from which they are exempt – such as sitting in the Sukka or taking the Lulab – do not recite a Beracha over the Misva, because the Beracha is only for those who are commanded to perform the Misva (as indicated by the text of the Beracha – "Asher Kideshanu Ba’misvotav"). Therefore, when one blows the Shofar for a woman on Rosh Hashanah, no Beracha is recited.

One may carry a Shofar through a public domain on Rosh Hashanah for the purpose of blowing the Shofar for a woman. Carrying on Yom Tob through a public domain is permitted "Le’srech Ha’yom" – when this is needed for the Yom Tob – and carrying a Shofar so it can be blown for women is considered a need that allows carrying. Although women are exempt, they nevertheless fulfill a Misva by hearing the Shofar, as discussed, and therefore carrying the Shofar to a woman’s home so she can hear the blowing is allowed. By the same token, it is permissible to carry the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah in a public domain to blow it for a child who has reached the age of Hinuch (training in Misvot), as this, too, is considered a legitimate need of Yom Tob.

Summary: Women are exempt from the Misva of Shofar, but they fulfill a Misva if they hear it blown. A man may blow the Shofar for a woman on Rosh Hashanah, even if he had already fulfilled the Misva, and he may even carry the Shofar through a public domain on Yom Tob for this purpose. However, neither he nor the woman recites a Beracha over the Misva, since she is not obligated in the Misva.

 


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