Vayigdal Mosheh: Inyanei Rosh Hashanah

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The Auspicious Nature of Rosh Hashanah

In the Beis HaMikdash, on Rosh Hashanah, the Mishna says that the chatzotzros finished first, and the shofaros kept blowing, because mitzvas hayom is with the shofar.  Really, this is pashut pshat in the pasuk that says, “yom teruah yihyeh lachem”.  Of course, this is a mitzvah that one must do with the physical actions of his body; chovos ha’eivarim.  Together with this, though, is an avodas ha’nefesh which apparently is more than with any other mitzvah.  The first aspect is the arousal to do teshuva as the Rambam writes.

There is another amazing component to it, which is tefillah.  Chazal call Rosh Hashanah a yoma d’tzlosah, a day of tefillah.  Likewise, the Yerushalmi says on the pasuk, “v’Osi yom yom yidroshun” that the two days are referring to Rosh Hashanah and Hoshana Rabbah.  The essential nature of these two days is tefillah and seeking out Hashem.  Similarly, on the pasuk that says “panah el tefilas ha’ar’ar” (ar’ar means something which is all alone), the Maharsha says that it is referring to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

When it comes to the rest of the year, halevai that we could say that after putting in tremendous exertion we manage to have kavana in davening.  Halevai.  But these days, tefillah comes much easier.  It goes.  These days are extremely auspicious for being able to have kavana, perhaps in particular when it comes to mussaf of Rosh Hashanah.

However, you can’t just fall into it.  It needs preparation.  The best way to prepare – and this is agreed upon by all Batei Medrash – is by learning the sugyos.  With the Tur and Beis Yosef, and eventually getting to the Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Brurah.  Another aspect to this preparation is to look over the contents of the machzor.  Chazal tell us that without review, divrei Torah can get dusty and rusty.  So you take out the machzor ahead of time – it is not too early – to get off all the dust and rust.  Aleinu, in particular, needs this rejuvenation, since we say it three times a day, every day.


Malchuyos Zichronos & Shofaros: D’Oraysah or D’Rabbanan?

The Mishna and Gemara in Rosh Hashanah 32a tells us about the chiyuv to have malchuyos, zichronos, and shofaros.  The Gemara darshens it on the pasuk, “shabbason zichron teruah”.  Rashi al ha’Torah brings this derasha.  The implication is that Rashi holds that it is a drasha gmurah m’d’Oraysoh.  The Ramban al ha’Torah and in seifer ha’mitzvos takes issue with this.  He points out the Gemara on 34b.  There the Gemara asks, what is the chiddush that a person should opt to go to a city where there will only be tekias shofar over going to a city where there will be only davening – since, after all, tekias shofar is d’Oraysoh and davening is d’Rabbanan?!  (The Gemara answers there that the chiddush is that even if one city will for sure have davening, and the other city you’re not sure if they’ll have shofar, the safek for the kiyum of a d’Oraysah takes precedence over a vadai kiyum of a d’Rabbanan).  So, you see mefurash, says the Ramban, that the seider ha’brachos of malchiyos, zichronos, and shofaros is mi’d’Rabbanan, not like Rashi.  Even though the Gemara (on 32a and 16a) employs expressions such as “Rachmana amar” and “amar Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu, imru l’fanai malchiyos”, it is just a manner of expression, but does not mean that it is d’Oraysah.  Rather, it is like what Chazal say by hadlakas neiros Chanukah that we can say v’tzivanu since there is a mitzvah of “zekeinecha v’yomru lach”.

The teirutz for Rashi, I heard from my grandfather and saw in other Achronim as well, is that malchuyos, zichronos, and shofaros is d’Oraysah when it is together with tekias shofar.  Rashi is in fact mashma like this in numerous places.  Throughout Shas (for example, here in Rosh Hashanah on 33b and in Arachin 10a), whenever the topic comes up, Rashi always goes out of his way emphasize that one set of tekios is for malchuyos, one for zichronos, and one for shofaros.  Similarly, in explaining the shitah on 34a that holds only one set of tekios is d’Oraysah and the other two are d’Rabbanan, Rashi says that the reason they made the takana to blow the other two sets is in order to make malchuyos, zichronos, and shofaros all be the same.  What you see from this Rashi is that, according to this shitah, even before the takanah d’Rabbanan the blowing of the shofar was in the middle of mussaf, and that the takana was to make all the three brachos be the same.  The clear implication from all these Rashi’s, then, is that the brachos and the tekios are one combined kiyum m’d’Oraysah, that each enhances the other (just that shofar is d’Oraysah even by itself, whereas the brachos are only d’Oraysah when together with the tekios – compiler’s elaboration -).

This explanation of Rashi fits very nicely with the Ritva’s explanation of “ba’meh? Ba’shofar” on 16a.  He says that what that means is that the tekias shofar is together with each bracha.  This echoes the statement of Rav Saadiah Gaon that each set of tekios is defined by the bracha that it accompanies.  The tekios following malchuyos are an expression of being mamlich Hashem.  The tekios following zichronos serve as the vehicle to bring our zikaron l’tovah before Hashem, and the bracha of shofaros is that since we blow shofar, we have a bracha going directly on that.


The Tenth Pasuk

The Mishna in Rosh Hashanah 32a says that according to Rabi Yochanan ben Nuri the pesukim of malchuyos are included with the bracha of kedushas Hashem, and no tekios are blown following that bracha.  Rather, tekios follow the brachos of a) kedushas ha’yom, b) zichronos, and c) shofaros.  Rabi Akiva argues and says, “if he is not blowing shofar for malchuyos, why is he mentioning?”  The Gemara explains that what Rabi Akiva means is, “why does he need to say ten pesukim; nine should be enough?!”

At first glance, this question seems to have no pshat.  Why shouldn’t there be ten pesukim for malchiyos?  Why should the lack of tekias shofar together with malchuyos take away a pasuk?

My grandfather (Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l) said a gevaldikeh pshat.  It’s as follows.  If you take a look in the machzor – which, parenthetically, one should do as a preparation for Rosh Hashanah – you’ll see that for both zichronos and shofaros, the tenth and final pasuk is enveloped and incorporated into the bakasha of the bracha (in zichronos: “v’kayeim lanu…ka’amur v’zacharti…”, and in shofaros: “va’havieinu l’Tziyon…v’shahm na’aseh…ka’amur u’v’yom…”).  The first nine pesukim serve as the declaration, the proof of the fundamentals put forth in the bracha, but the tenth pasuk serves a different function.  It is part of the bakasha of the bracha.

In malchiyos, though, it is different.  The tenth bracha follows the previous nine, and is not incorporated into the nusach of the bakasha that follows.  However, this is not resultant of the tenth pasuk serving a declaratory/proof function like the previous nine.  If we see that in zichronos and shofaros the tenth pasuk serves as part of the bakasha, then it only stands to reason that that is the case with the tenth pasuk of malchiyos as well.  The reason, though, that it appears as a continuum of the list of ten instead of being incorporated into the body of the bakasha is that the Anshei Knesses Ha’Gedolah did not want to alter the consistency of the bakasha of the bracha of kedushas ha’yom.  L’maaseh, we pasken like Rabi Akiva who puts malchiyos together with kedushas ha’yom.  So the nusach bakasha that comes at the end of this bracha in musaf is the same as that of Maariv, Shacharis, and Mincha.  As such, they did not want to change that nusach.  So instead of the pasuk of Shema Yisrael appearing in the middle of the bakasha, it immediately precedes it.  But it is still part of the bakasha.

This fits perfectly with how Rashi in Chumash explains the pasuk.  He explains that Hashem echad means that just as we know now that Hashem is Elokeinu, l’asid lavoh He will be one to the whole world.  As soon as we say that, we immediately follow it with, “Elokeinu veilokei avoseinu meloch al kol ha’olam kulo bi’chvodecha…”  We are asking for the message of Hashem echad to come to fruition.

The Ritva explains that when the Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 16a) says, “u’ba’meh ba’shofar”, it means that the tekias shofar of each bracha expresses and carries the theme of that bracha.  It is a tekiah of bakasha that the bracha should be fulfilled.

Now we can understand what Rabi Akiva meant: if you are omitting from malchiyos the component of bakasha manifest in tekias shofar, then you can also omit the tenth pasuk which essentially serves the same purpose.


“Teruah”: defining the term

The Torah calls the sound that we have to blow on Rosh Hashanah a teruah.  Chazal darshen that a teruah always is preceded and followed by a tekiah, so it inherently becomes a set: tekiah-teruah-tekiah.

The Mishna (Rosh Hashanah 33b) says that a teruah is three yevavos, the staccato sound that we colloquially call teruah.  Rashi holds that it is only three, very-short blasts (=kol shehu), and other Rishonim hold each yevava is three very-short blasts for a total of nine.  The Braisah, though, says that the teruah is three shevarim.  The Gemara says it is a machlokes if the teruah of “yom teruah” is genuchei ganach (shevarim) or yelulei yalil (yevavos, which we colloquially call teruah).

The Gemara (34a) says that Rebbi Abahu maintained a safek about these two opinions.  He had a further safek as well that perhaps the teruah of the Torah is really a combination of the two, a shevarim-teruah.  Therefore, he made a takana to blow all three types: a) tekiah-shevarim/teruah-tekiah, which we call tashrat, b) tekiah-shevarim-tekiah, which we call tashat, and c) tekiah-teruah-tekiah, which we call tarat.

Tosafos points out that according to Rashi’s shitah that a teruah (using the vernacular way of referring to it) is merely three tiny sounds (kol shehu), when blowing a tekiah-shevarim-tekiah one must be careful that each one of the three shevarim are not as long as the length of three tiny sounds.  Why?  Because the Mishna says that the length of a tekiah is equivalent to a teruah.  So, the moment a shever has extended to the equivalent length of three tiny sounds, it is no longer a shever but a tekiah!

The Rishonim ask a very difficult kashya on this statement of Tosafos.  When you are blowing tekiah-shevarim-tekiah, that means that you are fulfilling the opinion of the Braisah that says the teruah of the Torah is three shevarim, not three tiny yevava sounds.  That being the case, while blowing the set of tekiah-shevarim-tekiah, the defining length of a tekiah is the equivalent length of three shevarim, not three tiny sounds!  So why should there be any reason to be careful that each shever not reach the equivalent length of three kol shehu’s?!  As long as each shever does not reach the length of three shevarim, that should be fine?!

The answer to this question apparently lies in the shitah of Rav Hai Gaon.  Rav Hai Gaon holds that there is no machlokes l’halacha.  Both the Mishna and the Braisah agree that both yevavos and shevarim are valid as a “teruah”.  You can blow either one.  They’re both good.  Just that differing minhagim evolved as to which type to utilize.  So that it should not look like there are two Torah’s, Rebbi Avahu enacted a uniform practice of doing both types, in addition to his innovation of the third type called shevarim-teruah.  That is the shitah of Rav Hai Gaon.

Accordingly, if Tosafos holds like this, there is no kashya, because even when you’re blowing a tekiah-shevarim-tekiah, you still hold that yevavos is also a valid teruah; and since the length of a tekiah is equivalent to the length of a teruah, once you have reached the length of the smaller teruah, it becomes a tekiah!

This is not quite sufficient, though, to answer the question.  The Rambam explicitly says that the machlokes between the Mishna and the Braisah evolved as a result of the passage of many years and the intensity of the galus.  He says that the precise definition of teruah was forgotten and that is how this machlokes became possible.  So, he clearly holds that it is either or, not both.  They are mutually exclusive.

Tosafos makes a statement that clearly indicates that he holds like the Rambam on this matter.  Our minhag nowadays is that we blow all three sets – tashrat, tashat, and tarat – for malchiyos, zichronos, and shofaros.  However, in the time of the Rishonim, such a minhag was practically unheard of.  They had it that for malchiyos a tashrat was blown, for zichronos a tashat was blown, and for shofaros a tarat was blown.

Tosafos says that Rabbeinu Tam found this minhag baffling because it is inherently contradictory.  If tashrat is correct, then you aren’t being yotzei for zichronos and shofaros; if tashat is correct, then you aren’t being yotzei for malchuyos and shofaros; and if tarat is correct, then you aren’t being yotzei for malchuyos and zichronos?!  Clearly, then, Tosafos holds like the Rambam that each shitah is mutually exclusive.  If he held like Rav Hai Gaon that really everybody agrees that either way is halachically valid, there would be no reason to find the minhag baffling.

That being the case, we are back to the kashya of the Rishonim on Tosafos.  Why, when blowing a tekiah-shevarim-tekiah do you need to be careful that each shever not be as long as three kol shehu’s, as long as each shever is not the length of three shevarim together, that should be fine?!

The answer to this question is that Tosafos holds similar to Rav Hai Gaon, but not completely like him.  We find that the concept of blowing a teruah is not unique to Rosh Hashanah.  In the midbar, they had to blow a teruah (albeit with chatzotzros) when it was time for the Yidden to travel, and in the Mikdash a teruah was blown when the korbanos were brought on Yamim Tovim, etc. (B’haaloscha 10:5-10).  Tosafos holds like Rav Hai Gaon in the sense that, in general, either a yevava or a shevarim are both inherently included in the definition of “teruah”.  Just what?  On Rosh Hashanah the mitzvah is to blow only one type of “teruah”, and that is the machlokes between the Mishna and the Braisah – which type to blow.

But even according to the shitah of the Braisah that the “teruah” of Rosh Hashanah is specifically shevarim, it is not that a yevava (what we colloquially call teruah) is not a “teruah”.  It is a “teruah”.  Just that the Braisah holds that that type of “teruah” is not the one the Torah mandates on Rosh Hashanah.  But it is still a cheftzah of “teruah”.  And the shiur of a tekiah is the equivalent length of a “teruah”.  So, once a shever has reached the equivalent length of the shortest “teruah” on record, it is no longer a shever, but a tekiah.  That is why Tosafos holds that even when blowing tekiah-shevarim-tekiah, each shever must not be as long as the equivalent length of three kol shehu’s (in accordance with shitas Rashi).

By the way, three kol shehu’s takes about one second.  Perhaps some baalei tekiah can do it in a bit less than a second, and for some it takes a bit more than a second; but it is right around the area of a second.

With this in mind, we can also understand why Tosafos said “v’nireh” when he put forth the halacha that in the set of tekiah-shevarim-tekiah the tekios have to be longer than those of tekiah-teruah-tekiah, and in the set of tekiah-shevarim/teruah-tekiah the tekios have to be even longer.  Since, explains Tosafos, the Mishna says that the shiur of the tekiah is the equivalent length of the teruah, it is therefore necessary to elongate the tekiah according to the length of the teruah of that set.  Now, that would seem to be self-evident.  So, why would Tosafos preface it with “v’nireh”?  “V’nireh” is an expression of “v’nireh li”; in other words, “this is my chiddush”.  So why is Tosafos saying that this is his chiddush when it seems to be self-evident from the Mishna?

The pshat is that since even when you’re blowing a tekiah-shevarim-tekiah or a tekiah-shevarim/teruah-tekiah, a tekiah which is as long as three kol shehu’s is inherently defined as a cheftza of tekiah, there could be room to think that such a tekiah suffices even in the sets where the teruah thereof is longer.

The chiddush of Tosafos is that there are two measurements relevant to tekiah.  One measurement is for defining the basic cheftza of the tekiah, and the second measurement is for determining how much of that cheftza you need for the fulfillment of the mitzvah.  A blast which is less than the length of the smallest “teruah” on record – namely, three kol sh’hu’s (according to Rashi) – is not at all called a tekiah.  Imagine someone trying to use an olive branch which is three tefachim long instead of hadassim for his dalet minim.  The requisite three-tefach shiur he may have, but the basic cheftza of the mitzvah he is missing!  Similarly, a shofar blast which is not at least as long as three kol shehu’s is simply not a tekiah.

But now think about someone who is trying to use a 2.9 tefach hadas.  The basic cheftza of the mitzvah – a hadas – he has.  But he is still not yotzei.  Why?  Because the Torah demands that he have a certain amount (shiur) of that cheftza-shel-mitzvah.

And that is the chiddush of Tosafos regarding tekios; that in addition to the shiur that defines the actual cheftza of a tekiah, there is also a shiur, a requisite amount, for the kiyum ha’mitzvah – and that goes according to whichever set he is blowing.  If he is blowing the tekiah-shevarim/teruah-tekiah set, for example, and the length of his tekios are only equal to three kol sh’hu’s, a tekiah he has, but the requisite shiur of that tekiah he is missing.

Based on this pshat in Tosafos, my son Avrohom explained pshat in a difficult Rashi.  On 34a – when the Gemara speaks out the safek of Rabi Avahu and says “maybe ‘teruah’ is genuchei (i.e. shevarim)” – Rashi elaborates “and you should not do the teruos [as] yevavos…”.  Why does Rashi need to say this?  Would it be necessary to say “don’t use an apple instead of an esrog”?!

The pshat is, perhaps, that a yevava is also a cheftza of a “teruah”, no matter what.  Just that on Rosh Hashanah the requirement is to blow one type of “teruah”, and not just any type of “teruah”.  So now it is perfectly understandable why Rashi says – on the tzad that “teruah” on Rosh Hashanah is shevarim – “and you should not do the teruos as yevavos”.

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