Q. Is there a minimum length for a shofar?
A. The longest shofars are made by the Yemenites, who use the horn of the kudu from India, Persia or Ethiopia. Their spiral shofarot can be as much as four feet long. The minimum length however is four inches, yet such short shofarot can sometimes produce very loud blasts.
A shofar must not have any holes apart from the one which the ba’al t’ki’ah puts to his mouth.
Shofarot must not be painted to change their colour but may be decorated with geometrical patterns, Biblical verses or the name of the synagogue or private owner.
The shofar must come from a kosher animal such as a sheep, goat, gazelle or even an antelope. The preference is for the ram’s horn because it recalls the ram offered by Abraham in place of his son Isaac, and also because its curved shape symbolises our duty to bend our will to the Almighty’s.
Unlike a trumpet, a shofar has no mouthpiece, and it requires considerable skill to blow it. A ba’al t’ki’ah who puffs and pants to produce a note is no expert; the shofar requires chochmah v’einah m’lachah, “skill, not hard work”.