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Vaera 5767

By: Rav Ari Shames

Parshat Vaera- Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Shevat- Rav Shames


This week I would like to veer a bit off of our normal path, instead of discussing the parsha I have chosen to share some ideas about Shabbat Rosh Chodesh.


When Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbat we need to make certain adjustments in our normal schedule to accommodate this combination. Obviously we need to add Hallel to our Shacharit as we would do on any Rosh Chodesh and in this area there are really no surprises. In the same manner we add the Yaaleh Veyavo to each and every Amida, just as we do when Rosh Chodesh falls on a weekday.


There are three areas that require special attention and become interesting:


1-     The Torah Reading-

As opposed to any regular Shabbat, we read a special maftir and Haftara. The Maftir is from Parshat Pinchas where we find the list of special korbanot that had to be brought on special occasions. In fact there is logic to reading this part of the Torah on every Shabbat, as it lists the special Korban Mussaf that was brought on every Shabbat. The reason that we do not read this part every week is that the Shabbat section itself contains only two pesukim. Under the laws of Kriat Hatorah we are prohibited from reading any less than three pesukim on any given aliyah. It seems that Chazal did not want to add any of the surrounding pesukim to the reading as they are “out of season”. (This is actually an oversimplification of the issue and requires more scrutiny as we read “extra” material on each Rosh Chodesh as we begin with the Korban Tamid which precedes all of the different types of Mussaf).


On Rosh Chodesh we are interested in reading the Korban Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh. However as “long as we are there” we may as well add the part for Shabbat as well. Practically this means that we read the Koran of Mussaf of Shabbat and the Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh.


2. Shir Shel Yom-

At the end of davening each day we say the special song that was said on the corresponding day of the week in the Bet Hamikdash. The shir for Shabbat is “Mizmor shir Leyom hashabbat…”(Tehillim 92). Rosh Chodesh has its own special shir (the generally accepted opinion is that the shir for Rosh Chodesh is Barche Nafshe (Tehillim104), however the gemara never explicitly states that this is the shir and indeed the Rambam felt that other parts of Tehilim would actually be the shir of Rosh Chodesh).


Which one should be said on the combined day of Rosh Chodesh on Shabbat? We would have expected the answer to be that of Shabbat based on the rule of thumb that states that we give precedence to items that are more frequent. In fact the gemara states that when any special occasion falls on Shabbat the shir to be said is that of Shabbat with only one exception- Rosh Chodesh. The reason for this anomaly is the need to publicize the declaration of Rosh Chodesh. We are interested in highlighting the fact that it is Rosh Chodesh in order that the general populace will get the message and will celebrate the subsequent holidays in their correct time. (It is the custom of many communities to say both of the shirim especially outside of Israel. In Israel most follow the Gra on this and many other issues who was insistent that only one shir be said on any given day).


3. Mussaf-

The most obvious change is made to the Amida of Mussaf. Instead of the standard “Tekanta Shabbat….”  we say the “Ata yatzarta”. The reason is in order to incorporate the mentioning of the Korban Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh as well as that of Shabbat.


I would like to draw your attention to a point that is generally overlooked. The introductory paragraph to the korbanot is very different than that of a regular Shabbat. On a regular Shabbat the introduction to the Korban simply states that we were commanded to bring a special korban on Shabbat and that we ask Hashem to “brings us joyously to our land, plant us in our borders and it is there that we will bring the korban….”.


This introduction is very “parve” if we compare it to the introduction on other occasions in which we say Mussaf. The standard introduction, for Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot and even Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur contains a much more moving text. On each of these days we open with the paragraph “umpnei chataeinu” where we state that it is due to our sins that the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed and we were exiled from our land and we therefore cannot fulfill our obligations properly. We then implore Hahsem to rebuild the Mikdash in order that we may be able to bring the korbanot for that particular day. To me this is one of the most moving tefilot that we have in the entire siddur. It is however missing on Shabbat. On Shabbat we do not mention the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash at all; we simply make a cryptic reference to a wish to be living in the right place in order to fulfill our obligations. There is a hint of the lack of Mikdash, but it pales in comparison to the text on Yom Tov.


If we examine the text of Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, which we will say this week, we find that the powerful references to the destruction, and its causes, are clearly mentioned (in what could be argued to be an even stronger formulation that that of Yom Tov):


“And because we have sinned before You our city has been destroyed and our temple is desolate and our honor has been exiled….and we are unable to fulfill our obligations in Your chosen house….May it be Your will to bring us to our land….”


Why is the lamentation absent from the standard Shabbat text?


I believe that the answer lies in examining the Korbanot themselves. On all days that we bring a Korban Mussaf it is comprised of bulls, rams and sheep that are brought as an Olah, in addition to a goat that is brought as a Chatat. The number varies based on which holiday it is but the general structure is the same. On Shabbat things are different. We bring only sheep for an Olah and there is no Chatat at all.


The concept of a Korban Olah is an offering to Hashem with the sole purpose being to create a relationship with Him. A Korban Chatat is meant to atone for sin.  Each and every holiday has its unique manifestation of our relationship with God and each and every holiday has an aspect of atonement for sins of one type or another. When it comes to Shabbat everything is toned down. Our “Olah Relationship” is the most simple of korbanot and more importantly we have no mention of any aspect of sin, there is not Korban Chatat at all. The korbanot of Shabbat represent the ultimate intimacy with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the perfect korban. The Baalei Hatosafot make a similar observation in describing the term used in the Shabbat Mussaf where we say “Korban Mussaf Shabbat kerauei” “The proper sacrifice”. This is a term that we do not encounter anywhere else. The Baalei Hatosafot explain that Shabbat represents the perfection of the week and its korban reflects the complete nature of the day.


I think that this is why we omit any mention of the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash in the introduction to the korban on Shabbat. Despite the fact that the destruction clearly impacts on the issue, the mood is too serene and complete to be blemished by such thoughts. On Yom Tov and Shabbat Rosh Chodesh we are dealing with a more complex issue. We encounter a framework of Korbanot that includes a Chatat. The recognition of our sins is an integral part of the introduction to the pesukim of the korbanot.


The introduction to the pesukim of the korbanot actually reflects the mood of the korbanot themselves. The authors of the teffila were very sensitive to the differences and incorporated the themes as a build up to the pesukim.


For Discussion around the Shabbat Table-

1. We have compared the Mussaf of Shabbat on one hand with that of the Yomim Tovim and Shabbat Rosh Chodesh on the other. I encourage the readers to examine the text of a standard Rosh Chodesh, one that falls during the week, and note the references there, in light of our discussion here (I also recommend comparing the standard version of the teffila with that of the  Rambam, which can be found in the Mishne Torah at the end of Sefer Ahava and as well has been adopted by the Yemenites and therefore can be found in a Yemenite siddur).


 2. Not all communities have the custom to actually mention the pesukim of the korbanot. See Shulchan Aruch OC 591:2 and the Rama in Shulchan Aruch 488:3. Why do some days get mentioned while others do not? How does this affect the saying of Korbanot in the morning before Pesukei Dezimra?


3. The final part of the middle Bracha on all Shabbatot, Holidays and Rosh Chodesh (weekday) contain the verse “kadshenu b’mitzvotecha veten chelkenu btoratecha…” does this section appear in your siddur for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh in the “Ata Yatzarta”? If not why not? (open a few different sidurim to check this out, specifically the Rinat Yisrael). See Aruch Hashulchan OC 425:2.


 I am looking forward to your comments (


Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov


Rav Shames


Midreshet HaRova

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