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Thought for the Day: Being Yotzi With T'kiyas Shofar

Just for the record.  It's "korei" or "ba'al kriya"; it's "tokei'a" or "ba'al t'kiya".  When a ba'al k'riya is asked, "Are you a ba'al korei?", an accurate answer would be, "No".  A more informative answer would be, "No, I am Orthodox.  My wife, however, is a ba'alas korei."  The appropriate answer is, of course, "Yes."

There are some fascinating issues with being yotzi t'kiyas shofar when someone else is blowing.  More than fascinating, we are talking a very chashuv and chaviv mitzvas asei m'd'oraiso, so it's worth getting things right.  The first rule that everyone knows is that for this to work at all, the ba'al t'kiya needs to:
  1. be obligated in the mitzvah himself
  2. have kavana to be blowing a "mitzvah blast", and not just tooting a tune
  3. have intent to be motzi the intended hearer; aka "shomei'a" or "ba'al shmiya" (What?  I've made my point, you say?  No need to drive it into the ground?  Sheesh; spoil sport!)
Before proceeding, I'd like to review exactly how this yotzi/motzi thing works for kiddush.  (I could use "ha'motzi", but that would just be a capricious misuse of potential punniness.)  As already discussed, it is based on the principle of shomei'a k'ona and appropriate kavanos on both sides.  The one saying kiddush has to have in mind that he will speak for you, if you want that.  He can even have in mind to be motzi some and not others.

T'kiyas shofar, however, is not based on shomei'a k'ona.  The mitzvah of t'kiyas shofar is to hear the blast, not say it. The ba'al t'kiya cannot hear for me!  Yet he must have in mind to motzi me.  Moreover, the way the Rahn explains arus (which is also an ingredient in this whole thing working), is that if one Jew has not fulfilled his mitzvah, than all Jews are lacking in their mitzvah fulfillment.  It seems strange, therefore, that a ba'al t'kiya needs to have the hearer in mind at all.  After all, he is blowing a proper blast and he is obligated in the mitzvah as long as any Jewish man hasn't heard the shofar; that should be enough to make the process work.  The fact that the ba'al t'kiya does need to have in mind to motzi the hearer leads to Halichos Shlomo to say one must say a huge chidush -- that the ba'al  t'kiya is in charge of that sound all the way to the listener's ear.  The ba'al t'kiya can decide that the blast is a mitvah blast for one listener and just a toot on the horn for another!

This brings up an interesting question: suppose the ba'al t'kiya makes a mistake and decides to redo a the end t'kiya, but you think it was just fine and have kavana for the start t'kiya of the next set.  Since his kavana does not match yours, perhaps you are not yotzi.  Cool, huh?

Two things come out from this.  First, it is best to have kavana to hear whatever the ba'al t'kiya has in mind to blow.  Second, stay on his good side; and his wife's for that matter.

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