Shabbat Mussaf

February 26, 2013

The heart of the Mussaf prayer is the Divine Command of the offering stated in Sefer Bamidbar, 28:9-10.  “And on the Sabbath Day you shall bring two male first year lambs….”

On Rosh Chodesh, in addition to two bulls and a ram, there are seven lambs brought.  On Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkoth, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur there are also seven lambs. The Shabbat Mussaf offering is smaller than all of the other holiday Mussaf offerings. So why on Shabbat are we commanded to only bring two offerings?

Response: The Ohr Hachaim explains that the Mussaf offering reflects the gift of the Lechem MishnahDouble Portion of Shabbat. For forty years in the desert, the Jews received a double portion of Manna on Friday for Shabbat. So too, in the Temple the Mussaf is double the rest of the week. During the rest of the week, we bring a Daily Morning Sacrifice (Tamid) and a Daily Evening Sacrifice (Tamid). On Shabbat, we double the amount and offer an additional two lambs as the Mussaf.

The message of the Lechem Mishnah is that while during the work week we are responsible to be productive and creative to build and maintain the world around us, on Shabbat we leave behind the struggles and challenges and enter the realm of Shabbat, the Palace of the Almighty where G-d takes care of us and all of creation.

Finally, in the prayer Yismichu Bemalchutsecha Shomrei ShabbatThey will rejoice in your Majesty…. the phrase is conspicuously in the future tense. All the other Tefillot in Mussaf are in the present or past tense. Why is Yismichu in the future tense?

Response: The Otzar Hatefillos writes that besides the sense of family, serenity and tranquility we enjoy in keeping the Shabbat with care and exactitude, the ultimate reward will be in the time of Moshiach when we will experience the ultimate joy – Yismichu BemalchustechaThey will rejoice in your Majesty

Take Home Tip (true story): There was a Torah outreach seminar where a rabbi was lecturing about self introspection, improvement and growth. An attendee spoke up and stated, “The ideas you propose are wonderful and inspirational but who has time for them in our busy world? What we really need is one day a week to return to ourselves and do a spiritual inventory before advancing into the week ahead.” The rabbi said, “We have that day, it is called Shabbat.”

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This concludes our 1st semester on Shabbat Mussaf. We selected Shabbat Mussaf to begin Tefillah Tips because Shabbat has the greatest attendance of the week in many synagogues. Our hope and prayer is that these tips have enabled you to understand a little more of the wisdom, beauty, depth and meaning of our tefillot. We welcome your comments and feedback to community@ou.org.  Our next semester begins the 1st Shabbat of February, which will focus on Kabbalat Shabbat for an eleven week period