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When purchasing a Shofar, is it necessary to look for a 'hechsher' to ensure that it was manufactured properly (e.g, no cracks), or can its suitability be determined just by visual examination?

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You seem to be talking of someone who knows the halachos. The only thing I could think of that's not noticeable is to know what animal it came from. Good question. You never know what manufacturers might pass off. –  YDK Jul 30 '10 at 3:34
    
Are there indeed any non-kosher horns that look like kosher ones? –  Dave Jul 30 '10 at 3:55
    
It would also have to be a non-kosher horn that's cheaper than the kosher varieties, because otherwise there would be no reason to suspect the manufacturer. –  Dave Jul 30 '10 at 4:03
    
Since the horns are cut, smoothed and polished before they hit the shelves, they may look similar to, say, cattle horns which come in all shapes and sizes. At least to a city boy. –  YDK Jul 30 '10 at 5:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Even if the horn comes from a kosher animal, the shofar could still be rendered non-kosher if non-kosher materials are added during the shaping and polishing process. According to this article (http://www.jdoorpost.com/2010/06/non-kosher-shofars-imported/), there were problems last year with shofars from China and Morocco.

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Garet, welcome to mi.yodeya and thank you for your informative link! Consider clicking Register on the nav bar above to register your account and reap all the benefits of being a mi.yodeya member. –  WAF Aug 1 '10 at 15:13
    
Thanks for that link. I don't understand why the smearing of lard is such a major problem. If there is anything tangible left inside, it could just be cleaned out. Also, it should be pretty easy to tell whether the inside was smeared, just by looking inside and seeing if it still has that "raw" appearance. I also found it interesting that the Moroccan ones which had the cracking issue can be identified by a unique mouthpiece. There, too, it is hard to believe that they can repair cracks in a way that is undetectable. –  Dave Aug 1 '10 at 15:17

The issue is that cracks or holes can be filled, which invalidated the shofar, but is very hard to recognize.

Due to breeding, homones, etc., the horns are of a weaker and thinner-walled material. This make large shofars rarer, and the likelihood of tampered horns much more likely.

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Daniel R, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing this answer! You could make it more valuable by clarifying whether the issues you describe do, indeed, make it necessary to require a certification and by adding a source for that position. Also, please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  Isaac Moses Jul 25 '12 at 20:39

Apparently, you can hide cracks. See this.

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