Sunday, June 13, 2010

Care of the Shofar

Care of the Shofar

Arthur L. Finkle

The care of the shofar is important for both assur¬ing tonality and preserving the instrument itself. The shofar is conventionally cleansed with vinegar. But this is unsatisfactory. Although our ancestors probably thought that vinegar was a good antiseptic, it is not. Vinegar is a dilute solution of acetic acid. It is 95% water. Water has a hydration effect on the inside wall of the shofar. The hard material of a shofar is made essentially of a hard, globular keratin protein (related to hoof, hair, skin, claws, and fingernails). A manicurist, for example, softens fingernails by placing them in a dish of water. A similar softening effect takes place on the inside wall when vinegar is put into the shofar, and the soft horn walls deaden the sound.
The horn of the animal is made hollow by cleaning out the marrow, blood, and cords. It is usually not possible to clean it out completely. The stringy parts left behind throw off an offensive odor, especially when the parts come into contact with vinegar.
A much superior way of keeping the shofar clean is by the use of alcohol. Ordinary rubbing alcohol, either ethyl or isopropyl, is satisfactory. Both are highly antiseptic and have the further advantage of dry¬ing quickly and completely which vinegar does not. You can obtain a very quick dry¬ing by placing the shofar, after running alcohol through it, over the outlet grille of a room air-conditioning unit. A hairdryer works as well.

For more information about Shofar and other Holy Temple instruments, we have written extensively on the Shofar and have three websites

1) Joint Effort with Michael Chusid, an expert Shofar sounder and commentator
2) Shofar Sounders WebPage
3) Shofar WebPage


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home