The typical Shofar used for Rosh haShana is the ram’s Shofar (qeren hakebasim).
Lately, however, the antelope shofar (also known as the ‘kudu Shofar’ or the ‘Yemenite’ Shofar) which is three to four times longer than a ram’s Shofar became very popular. Probably because it is easier to blow than the ram’s Shofar, looks impressive and has a deeper sound.
Can we use the antelope Shofar for Rosh haShana?
The Rabbis discussed the usage of horns of other bovid-animals for the Mitsva of Shofar. The rabbis explicitly forbade using a bull’s-horn (qeren shel para) for Shofar. That Shofar will bring memories of the sin of the golden calf (a calf is a young bull in its first year) precisely on the days we hope our sins will be forgiven and “forgotten”. A ram’s Shofar, on the contrary, brings a positive association to mind: ‘aqedat Yitzhaq, the binding of Yitzhaq abinu. Why? Because after our forefather Abraham passed successfully the ultimate God’s test, demonstrating that he was willing to sacrifice what loved the most for the sake of God, he found a ram ‘caught in the thicket by its horns’, which Abraham then offered to HaShem as a sacrifice in place of Yitzhaq.
Now, if the bull’s Shofar, is excluded and the ram’s Shofar is the preferred one, can we use the antelope Shofar or any other non-bovid Shofar for Rosh haShana? Or, are we obligated to use exclusively a ram’s Shofar?
The Rabbis debated on this issue. In the opinion of the Shulhan ‘arukh (OH 586:1) it is preferable to use a ram’s Shofar in Rosh haShana. Which means, for instance, that if a ram’s Shofar cannot be found, the antelope Shofar could be used (=bedi’abad). In the opinion of Maimonides (MT Shofar 1:1), however, the only Shofar that can be blown in Rosh haShana is a ram’s Shofar. All other Shofarot are invalid. An antelope Shofar is perfectly fine to be used for the Selihot of the month of Elul and for the end of Yom Kippur.