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Nidah 26


QUESTION: The Gemara rules that a Shofar has to be a Tefach in size. Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel explains that it has to be large enough that it can be held by four fingers and still be visible at both ends. Why does the Gemara find it necessary to mention two ways of determining the size of the Shofar (Tefach, visible at both ends)?


(a) The ROSH (Rosh ha'Shanah 28b) explains that the Chachamim decided that a Shofar must be a Tefach *in order* that it may be held in four fingers and remain visible on both ends. There are two approaches to understanding the words of the Rosh: (1)The LEVUSH (Orach Chayim 586) understood the Rosh to mean that the entire Shiur of a Shofar is mid'Rabbanan. (2) There are cases in which the Torah left it up to the Chachamim to determine the final parameters of the Halachah. For example, in Chagigah 18a we find that the prohibition to perform Melachah on Chol ha'Moed is mid'Oraisa, but nevertheless the Torah left it up to the Chachamim to assess which Melachos are included in this prohibition. Similarly, perhaps the Torah left it up to the Chachamim to determine what the size of a Shofar should be mid'Oraisa. The Chachamim decided that it should be a Tefach in order that it could be held in four fingers and still be visible.

(b) The RITVA explains that actually two different Shiurim were given for a Shofar: (1) For a midget and for normal people, a Shofar must be at least a Tefach. (2) For exceptionally large people a Tefach is not large enough. The Shofar must be large enough so that it can be held in four fingers and still remain visible at both sides.

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