For the week ending 7 June 2014 / 9 Sivan 5774

Rosh Hashana 30 - 35

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Shofar blowing on Shabbat in the Beit Din
  • Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai's decrees regarding lulav taking and Chadash grain after destruction of Beit Hamikdash
  • The late-coming witnesses and the wrong Levite song
  • The psalms sung when sacrifices were offered
  • The travels of the Shechinah and of the Sanhedrin
  • The shoeless kohanim and other decrees of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai
  • Order of the Rosh Hashana Mussaf prayers
  • The passages of Torah, Prophets and Writings in those prayers
  • The anti-religious decree which moved shofar blowing to Mussaf
  • Why Hallel is not said on Rosh Hashana
  • What is forbidden to be done in order to have a shofar
  • Womenand young children in regard to non-obligatory blowing of shofar
  • Which sounding of the shofar is not a fulfillment of the mitzvah
  • Defining the sounds of the shofar and their lengths
  • Sources for these sounds and their number
  • When the sounds of the shofar are heard at intervals
  • Relationship between the shofar sounds and the prayers
  • The role of shliach tzibur (Reader) who repeats the silent service

A Pattern of Passages

  • Rosh Hashana 32a

In the Mussaf service of Rosh Hashana we say ten passages in each of the three sections of malchiot, zichronot and shofrot. These passages are taken from Torah (4), Prophets (3) and Writings (3). The order dictated by Rabbi Yossi is to begin with three Torah passages and end with one. No specific mention is made, however, as to what the order should be for the passages from Prophets and Writings said in between.

Our custom is to say the passages from the Writings before those from the Prophets despite the fact that what appears in the Prophets is considered to be on a higher level of holiness than those of the Writings. (What appears in the Prophets is referred to as divrei kabbalah – words received by the Prophet from G-d – while what appears in the Writings is called divrei kedusha because it is the product of ruach hakodesh – Divine inspiration – rather than prophecy.)

Rabbeinu Nissim (RaN) offers a suggestion for understanding our pattern of passages. We start with Torah passages because we wish to stress the primacy of the Torah which is not only prophecy but our source of commandments. We proceed to the passages from Writings and follow them with those from the Prophets according to the principle that we must always ascend in matters of holiness.

What the Sages Say

"The final and most depressing of the ten exiles of the Sanhedrin was in Tverya, and it is from there that the Redemption foreseen by the Prophet Yeshayahu will begin – 'Arise from the dust, O Yerushalayim, and take your seat on your throne.' (52:2)"

  • Rabbi Yochanan - Rosh Hashana 31b

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