Mussaf Rosh Chodesh

Question

Shalom aleichem Rabbi Lauffer. Thank you for answering my last question. On pages 290-291 of the book “Festivals in Halachah” volume 2, Rabbi Zevin makes what appears to be a gross error. He writes

“However, HaLevi goes too far when he asserts that ‘with regard to the wording of the prayers, no innovations at all were made after the Churban during the era of Yavneh, the only innovation dating from that period is the bircas haminim.’ Further, claims this author, not only the 18 weekday blessings and the 7 for Shabbos and Yom Tov, but also ‘the musaf prayer for Rosh Chodesh, Chol Hamoed, Shabbos and Yom Tov had all been entirely formulated and established since the day of the men of the Great Assembly.’ Now can it really be that in Temple days they prayed the musaf which laments: ‘and because of our sins we have been exiled from our Land and which requests ‘Build Your House as in former times, establish Your Temple on its site’? It is reasonable to assume that this formulation was first produced in the era of Yavneh. And even when we turn to the 18 blessings of the weekday prayer– could it be that the blessing ‘And may our eyes behold Your return to Zion’ with its conclusion ‘Who returns His presence to Zion,’ was recited in Temple times?”

Thus far Rabbi Zevin’s words. They are, however, false. The Talmud informs us that the Shechinah was not present during the Second Temple, refuting Rabbi Zevin’s assertion that it is impossible that Chazal would have written “may our eyes behold Your return to Zion” and “Who returns His Presence to Zion” when the Temple was still in existence. How could Rabbi Zevin have made such a gross mistake? Was he willfully lying due to his warped Zionist hashkafah, or did the ma’amar Chazal informing us that the Shechinah was not present in Bayis Sheni simply slip his mind, or am I simply missing something? Thanks a lot. Chag kasher v’sameach.

3 weeks

Answers

  1. Please allow me to address a detail that is not pertinent to your question. I do not wish to argue with you, but your suggestion that perhaps he is “willfully lying due to his warped Zionist hashkafah” is inappropriate. And, in my humble opinion, unacceptable. Rav Zevin was a Talmid Chacham of note. It is true that his Hashkafic affiliation was with the Religious Zionists, but that does not allow for any disparaging comment about him.

    In answer to your question, I do not know what Rav Zevin’s sources are. There is an accepted opinion that all Tefillos were composed by the Anshei Keneses Hagedolah. In truth, I am not sure that I understand why he writes as he does, because the nusach used for Musaf on Rosh Chodesh could have been composed between Churban Bayis Rishon and Binyan Bayis Sheni.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team