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I have the 2015 calendar from the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, and today I noticed that the September page has a picture of a shofar made from an ibex horn. The calendar dates it to 1850-1900 (Amsterdam) and has the catalog number JHM00837.

Coincidentally, this week's edition of my local Jewish newspaper contains an article about somebody researching the history of the Jewish community in southern Italy (Calabria), and there too there is mention of blowing an ibex-horn shofar.

These are the only two times I've heard of an ibex horn being used for a shofar instead of the usual ram's horn, and in one case we only have an anecdote in the press. So I'm wondering: is or was an ibex horn commonly used anywhere? (If so, where and when?) Or would that be giving too much weight to a single Dutch artifact and some Italian stories?


Notes:

I know that some of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 ended up in various parts of Italy and some ended up in Amsterdam. So if using an ibex horn was done in both places, there could have been a common origin.

This question talks about Yemenite Jews using an antelope (not ibex) horn because, according to the answer, they find it more beautiful than the Rambam-mandated ram's horn. An ibex is not an antelope and I'm not aware of commonalities among these communities, but I mention it in case it's relevant.

  • I think Rabbi Slifkin (a.k.a - the "zoo rebbe" discussed exactly this issue.)I don't know if he discussed the history of its use; only the question of whether it is permitted. BTW, if you have veer seen an ibex, you would wonder how they can get close enough to get a shofar from its head ;-) They're beautiful animals but very agile. – DanF Aug 23 '15 at 20:47
  • See zootorah.com/assets/media/essays/ExoticShofars.pdf This discusses the issue of IF an ibex horn CAN be used. Since you asked if it actually WAS used, I can't really post this as an answer. – DanF Aug 24 '15 at 19:50
  • Following the Mishna Kilaym, Ibex seems to be Yael in mishna vocabular. Yael Pashut in opposition to mouflon – kouty Jun 22 '16 at 20:15
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According to what is found on the current web site of the shofar maker, Bar-Sheshet-Ribak, the custom of Holland, Germany and Italy was to make the shofar from the horn of the goat family. They say people who follow this minhag still use them today.

The ibex is from the goat family.

Bar-Sheshet Ribak web site

According to what they say, this was primarily because it is easier to process the horn. They are naturally partially straight.

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Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 3:3:

שופר של ראש השנה של יעל, פשוט, ופיו מצופה זהב, ושתי חצוצרות מן הצדדין. שופר מאריך וחצוצרות מקצרות, שמצות היום בשופר.

Translation from Sefaria.com

The shofar of Rosh Hashanah – is to be from an ibex, [and] straight. Its mouth is to be coated in gold, and there are to be two trumpets, [one] on each side [of it]. The shofar [blast] is to be long and the trumpet [blast] is to be short, since the commandment of the day is with a shofar.

Rambam on Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 3:3:1 (excerpt)

שופר של ראש השנה של יעל פשוט כו': זה הסדר לא היה אלא במקדש לאמרו הש"י [תהלים צח] בחצוצרות וקול שופר הריעו לפני המלך ה' אבל חוץ למקדש אין תוקעין בראש השנה אלא בשופר בלבד.

This order (i.e. - both shofar and trumpets) was done only in the Temple. Outside the Temple, they used only the shofar (no trumpets).

So during the times of the Temple, at least, they were using an ibex shofar.

Refer, however, to Talmud Rosh Hashannah 26b for a detailed discussion on this. While using an inbex shofar is allowed, it is not the preferred type to use because it is straight and not curved.

  • Whose translation is that? – Double AA Aug 26 '15 at 17:56
  • @DoubleAA The top is Sefaria, bottom is mine. I'm not seeing where there might be an error, offhand. – DanF Aug 26 '15 at 19:45
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    Re your comment ("where there might be an error"): There's often error when translating names of types of animals (and plants). And that word's translation is obviously very important to this answer. You should give credit anyway to a translator, but especially in this case. – msh210 Aug 27 '15 at 11:28

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