The main mitzva of shofar is during the musaf prayer. The Talmud in
Tractate Rosh Hashanah, however, concludes that the shofar should be sounded
an extra time in order to confound the Soton (the accusing angel). As a
result, the shofar is sounded prior to musaf. At this time, the brochos for
the shofar are recited.
Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Mikraei Kodesh) described the Soton's confusion
according to Rashi: Our repetition of the mitzva, which shows how dearly we
hold the mitzvos, confounds the accuser. In fact, the opinion of Rashi is
that the brochos recited before performing mitzvos are for this purpose
alone -- to demonstrate the great love that we have for the mitzvos.
According to the custom of the Sefardim, the Chasidim, and others, the
shofar is to be sounded during the shemona esreh (the silent prayer) of
musaf. One could not recite the brocha over the shofar at that time,
because it would constitute an interruption. Therefore, the Rabbis decreed
an extra sounding of the shofar, in order to allow for the brocha.
According to the custom of the Ashkenazim, however, the shofar is only
sounded during the repetition of the musaf, and a brocha could have been
recited then. Here, the previous explanation does not hold. Undaunted, Rav
Tzvi Pesach Frank presented another solution. The mitzva of the brocha and
the mitzva of the shofar itself could have been fulfilled at the same
time -- during the repetition of the musaf prayer. Performing the mitzva an
additional time, however -- purely in order to recite the brochos -- serves
the purpose of showing the beloved quality of the mitzva.
The month of Elul is a preparation period for Rosh Hashanah. Not only
neglected mitzvos should be emphasized, but those which we are accustomed to
perform, as well, should be performed in an exemplary manner.
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156