26 Feb 2013

The Shabbat Mussaf prayer symbolizes the Sacrificial Mussaf (offering) that was offered in the Temple. Just as the Mussaf offering was brought before the seventh hour of the day, so too our Mussaf prayer should be recited before the seventh hour of the day. Just as the Mussaf offering was brought between the daily morning sacrifice and the daily afternoon sacrifice, so too the Mussaf prayer is recited between the morning and afternoon prayers.

The highlight of the Shabbat Mussaf is the Kedushah – Communal Prayer of Expressing a longing for G-d’s holiness. The Kedushah may only be recited in the presence of a Minyan– quorum of ten men over age thirteen.

We recite Kedushah every day at the morning and afternoon prayers during the reader’s repetition of the Amidah– Prayer of Benedictions. Although the Shabbat Benedictions are shorter than the rest of the week, the Shabbat Kedushah is longer than the weekday Kedushah and includes a more detailed description of the fascinating actions and reactions of the angels above when they praise God (as described by the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah).

This Kedushah includes an introduction, the recognition of God’s holiness, the deeper recognition that God’s essence transcends our finite minds and that our world is bound up in Him (to be explained). We then proclaim God’s oneness with the Shema and beseech Him to reveal Himself to the world as He did during the Exodus from Egypt and bring forth eternal and ultimate truth, justice and the destiny of our nation and the world. We then say a quote from God referenced in the prophets that states, “Indeed I am Your All Powerful Maker”. We conclude with a final fervent declaration that our God, the God of Zion, will indeed reign forever in the generations to come.

The commentators discuss why the Shema is included in our Mussaf Kedushah. It is explained that there was a fifth century Persian king named Yezdegerd that forbade the recitation of the Shema. Therefore the Jews deleted the Shema in Shacharit and when the guards departed from the synagogue, they recited the Shema in Mussaf instead. Despite the fact that the decree was removed, our sages maintained the Shema in the Mussaf Kedushah as a reminder of the evil decree and our deliverance from it.

In the next Tefillah Tip BE”H, I intend to explain the Kedushah line by line so that when we recite the words we will understand the meanings properly.

Take Home Tip: When reciting the Kedushah have in mind that we are uttering the same words and phrases as the angels above. We are literally singing the songs of heaven