Rosh Chodesh Prayers!

(Torah Portion Korach) Rosh Chodesh Prayers!

Rosh Chodesh Tamuz is this Shabbat and Sunday.

There are a few adjustments to the prayers when Rosh Chodesh is observed on a weekday, such as: We insert the prayer of Yaleh V’yavo in all three daily Amidah prayers; the prayer of Hallel is recited; the additional Rosh Chodesh Musaf prayer is recited, and the portion concerning the Rosh Chodesh sacrificial offerings is read from the Torah when four Aliyahs – honors are called.

When Rosh Chodesh aligns itself with Shabbos there are a few more additions. Two Torahs are removed from the Ark. Seven Aliyahs are called from the weekly portion (Korach) and for the Maftir we read from the second Torah the portion which includes the Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh sacrifices. A special Haftorah is read in honor of Rosh Chodesh.

In the Mussaf prayer on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh we also make an adjustment. The word Mussaf means “additional”, for it makes reference to the added sacrifices that were offered in the Temple because of the specific occasion. Each and every day in the Temple in Jerusalem, two sheep were sacrificed, one in the morning and one in the evening. On Shabbos and Festivals the two daily sacrifices were offered in addition to the offerings that are prescribed in honor of the Shabbos and festivals. These additional offerings are called Mussaf – “additional.” Today, when our prayers are in lieu of the offerings, we recite an additional prayer – Mussaf – on these special days, which describes the nature of the offerings.

When Rosh Chodesh or a Festival coincides with Shabbos, the additional Mussaf prayer is different than the regular Shabbos for it incorporates two types of sacrifices and the unique features of each of the observances.

Shabbos and the Festivals differ from each other. The basic difference is that on Shabbos cooking, baking and carrying objects from a private domain to a public is prohibited while on the festivals (not coinciding with Shabbos) it is permissible to cook and bake – with a preexisting flame – and carrying outdoors is permitted. Basically, all other prohibitions are similar.

However, there is another fundamental difference between Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh/Festivals.
The seventh day of the week was ordained by G-d as the holy day of Shabbos for the Jewish people and each seventh day in succession is automatically infused with the holiness of the day.

The dates for the festivals are not set on an automated course. It is determined by the sighting of the new moon, Rosh Chodesh, the new month. G-d entrusted Israel – the Jewish court to determine and set when Rosh Chodesh falls out.

The blessings in the Amidah of the Shabbat and Festivals reflect these differences. On the Shabbat we say, “Blessed are You Hashem Who Sanctifies the Shabbos.” G-d is the one who personally sanctifies the holy day of Shabbos. While on the Festivals and Rosh Chodesh we recite, “Blessed are You Hashem who sanctifies Israel and the Festive times.” Through G-d infusing the Jewish people with sanctification they mark His sanctified Festivals.

Rosh Chodesh itself is a semi holiday and is not as sanctified as the Festivals. Therefore, when Rosh Chodesh coincides with Shabbos, the regular Shabbos Kiddush is recited without mention of Rosh Chodesh, while Kiddush of a Festival which coincides with Shabbat incorporates both.

My uncle, Mr. Asher Herzberg relayed the following incident to me: Before Pesach, my uncle was standing on line at a Matzah bakery in NY and the person behind him, another customer, was talking loudly (to an employee) on the phone. The language which this person was using was vulgar and totally inappropriate. After the person was done with the call, my uncle turned to him and engaged him in conversation (and in his inimitable soft style) pointed out the following:

On the Festivals and Rosh Chodesh in the Mussaf prayers we insert the words, “V’romomtanu Mekol Haleshonos – And You glorified us from all the other languages.”

What is it about our language – Lashon Hakodesh/Hebrew that is so special? It is the sanctified language through which G-d gave us the Torah and He communicates with us and we communicate with Him. It is the language the angels converse with. It means that our sanctified way of speech is an integral part of the identity of who we are – no matter which language we speak in.

My uncle told me that he was a bit concerned as how the person would react to his comments but felt he had to say something. Sure enough, his sincere words were well taken and the person kindly thanked my uncle for the inspiring message and perspective.

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks