Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Olifants and Triceratops

As with every year at this time, I would like to announce that my monograph "Exotic Shofars - Halachic Aspects" is freely available. Each year I add some new material to it. This year's addition is to the section discussing a shofar made from a non-kosher animal. The halachic status of such a shofar is the subject of considerable discussion amongst Rishonim and Acharonim. But does this dispute have any practical relevance? Is there such thing as a shofar from a non-kosher animal?

In this latest version of the monograph, I discuss two new potential candidates. One is the olifant, which is the name given to a horn made out of the tusk of an elephant. But while an interesting candidate, it seems to be halachically invalidated for separate reasons that I discuss in the monograph. Another candidate which, it seems, would indeed potentially be a viable shofar, and would be the sole case of a shofar from a non-kosher animal, is a triceratops (pictured below). However, the keratin sheath from which the shofar is made would only be found on a living specimen. Thus, short of radical advances in cloning technology, à la Jurassic Park, this would not appear to present a practical situation for the halachic discussion.

Meanwhile, in the previous edition of the monograph, I noted that the largest shofar in the world would come from a Marco Polo argali sheep. I just noticed a head of such a sheep appear on eBay - if you want a pair of the largest shofars in the world, they can be yours for just a quarter of a million dollars!

You can download the monograph at this link. Please spread the word!


  1. Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed the article.

    One nitpick: "a shofar can be discarded in the garbage without requiring any respectful treatment."
    That is true according to the Shulchan Aruch (O"C 21), but Rama says that tzitzis (and other mitzvos, including shofar -M"B from the Taz) shouldn't be discarded in a disrespectful way.

  2. "the shofars traditionally used in many parts of Europe, which were straight with a small curve at the end;"

    like these, I presume?:
    one, two, three

  3. Is a taxidermed shofar still kosher?

  4. Why do you assume an original triceretops horn would be kosher?
    How do you know the triceratops horn isn't filled inside like the rino's?

  5. You mean the original triceretops bones survived? they don't just have fossilized remains?


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