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Shofar Scents

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Topic: Cleaning a Shofar

Michael R. Leavitt wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I just got a beautiful shofar from a friend returning from Israel. It sounds great, but it has one problem. It smells. But really bad. There were probably some marrow pieces left inside. My question is simple: How do you clean a shofar?

Dear Michael R. Leavitt,

To answer your question, my wife spoke to Mrs. Sarah Glaser, author of Life Saver! - The Jewish Homemaker's Survival Kit (Targum Press/Feldheim ). She recommends vinegar or baking soda for removing odors. Pour synthetic vinegar into the shofar. Or dissolve baking soda in water, and pour into the shofar. Rinse and repeat. If necessary, let sit overnight in the vinegar/baking soda solution.

Eliminating a strong odor is important, because such an odor might lessen the honor of the mitzvah, violating the principle that "mitzvot should not be contemptible in your eyes." And if the odor is as bad as you say, it's forbidden to say a blessing in its presence.

But remember, the inside of the shofar neednt compete with perfumes such as Eau d'Elegance or Chanel. Most shofars retain a slight, lingering reminiscence of their humble origin, the ram.

When Isaac blessed Jacob, Isaac said, 'My son's fragrance is like the fragrance of the field blessed by Hashem.' Of course, Jacob was wearing animal skins on his hands and neck. Perhaps the power of Jacob's mitzvah turned a bad smell into a good one. May Hashem accept our mitzvah of shofar this year, and may all our deeds be sweet-smelling!


  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 79:8-9
  • Mishna Berurah 79:29,31 and 586:90
  • Bereishit 27:27, Rashi

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