The Unique Character of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh

By Alexander Tsykin

The Gemara in Berachos 49b rules that if you forget to say ya’aleh veyavo in benching on Rosh Chodesh, you need not repeat benching. The Rashba comments that this only applies on a regular Rosh Chodesh, but if Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos you will have to repeat benching, even if you only forgot ya’aleh veyavo but not retzeih.

חידושי הרשב”א מסכת ברכות דף מט עמוד ב

והילכך ראש חדש שחל להיות בשבת כיון דעל כרחיה אכיל אפי’ טעה בשל ראש חדש בברכת המזון מחזירין אותו לראש הברכה דהיינו לנחמה, ואין צריך לומר בשלא פתח הטוב והמטיב שאומר ברוך שנתן, ואפי’ בכל ראשי חדשים נמי אומר ברוך שנתן.

While most Rishonim disagree with the Rashba, and his position is not accepted by Tur or Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 424), I think the theory behind his opinion may have resonance in our practice.

I head in passing from by rebbe, Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, that a possible understanding of the Rashba is that when Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos, together they create a new type of hybrid holiday.  I think that the nussach of our mussaf reflects this hybridization.  When Yom Tov, Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur fall on Shabbos, we daven an amidah of Yom Tov and add a short passage for Shabbos. In contrast, on Shabbos Rosh Chodesh the mussaf is wholly different from that of either Shabbos or Yom Tov.  Let us examine the text:

אַתָּה יָצַרְתָּ עולָמְךָ מִקֶּדֶם כִּלִּיתָ מְלַאכְתְּךָ בַּיּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי.  (1) אָהַבְתָּ אותָנוּ וְרָצִיתָ בָּנוּ וְרומַמְתָּנוּ מִכָּל הַלְּשׁונות וְקִדַּשְׁתָּנוּ בְּמִצְותֶיךָ. וְקֵרַבְתָּנוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ לַעֲבודָתֶךָ וְשִׁמְךָ הַגָּדול וְהַקָּדושׁ עָלֵינוּ קָרָאתָ:
וַתִּתֶּן לָנוּ ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ בְּאַהֲבָה שַׁבָּתות לִמְנוּחָה וְרָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים לְכַפָּרָה. וּלְפִי שֶׁחָטָאנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ אֲנַחְנוּ וַאֲבותֵינוּ. חָרְבָה עִירֵנוּ וְשָׁמֵם בֵּית מִקְדָּשֵׁנוּ. וְגָלָה יְקָרֵנוּ וְנֻטַּל כָּבוד מִבֵּית חַיֵּינוּ. וְאֵין אֲנַחְנוּ יְכולִים לַעֲשות חובותֵינוּ בְּבֵית בְּחִירָתֶךָ בַּבַּיִת הַגָּדול וְהַקָּדושׁ שֶׁנִּקְרָא שִׁמְךָ עָלָיו. מִפְּנֵי הַיָּד שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּלְּחָה בְּמִקְדָּשֶׁךָ:
(2) יְהִי רָצון מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבותֵינוּ. שֶׁתַּעֲלֵנוּ בְשמְחָה לְאַרְצֵנוּ וְתִטָּעֵנוּ בִּגְבוּלֵנוּ. וְשָׁם נַעֲשה לְפָנֶיךָ אֶת קָרְבְּנות חובותֵינוּ תְּמִידִים כְּסִדְרָם וּמוּסָפִים כְּהִלְכָתָם. וְאֶת מוּסְפֵי יום הַשַּׁבָּת הַזֶּה וְיום ראשׁ הַחדֶשׁ הַזֶּה. נַעֲשה וְנַקְרִיב לְפָנֶיךָ בְּאַהֲבָה כְּמִצְוַת רְצונֶךָ. כְּמו שֶׁכָּתַבְתָּ עָלֵינוּ בְּתורָתֶךָ עַל יְדֵי משֶׁה עַבְדֶּךָ מִפִּי כְבודֶךָ כָּאָמוּר:…

[כאן אומרים הקרבנות]

(2) יִשמְחוּ בְמַלְכוּתְךָ שׁומְרֵי שַׁבָּת וְקורְאֵי ענֶג עַם מְקַדְּשֵׁי שְׁבִיעִי. כֻּלָּם יִשבְּעוּ וְיִתְעַנְּגוּ מִטּוּבֶךָ וּבַשְּׁבִיעִי רָצִיתָ בּו וְקִדַּשְׁתּו חֶמְדַּת יָמִים אותו קָרָאתָ. זֵכֶר לְמַעֲשה בְרֵאשִׁית:
(2) אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבותֵינוּ. רְצֵה בִמְנוּחָתֵנוּ (3) וְחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ בְּיום הַשַּׁבָּת הַזֶּה אֶת הַחדֶשׁ הַזֶּה. לְטובָה וְלִבְרָכָה. לְששון וּלְשמְחָה. לִישׁוּעָה וּלְנֶחָמָה. לְפַרְנָסָה וּלְכַלְכָּלָה. לְחַיִּים וּלְשָׁלום. לִמְחִילַת חֵטְא וְלִסְלִיחַת עָון. (2) קַדְּשֵׁנוּ בְּמִצְותֶךָ וְתֵן חֶלְקֵנוּ בְּתורָתֶךָ. שבְּעֵנוּ מִטּוּבֶךָ וְשמְּחֵנוּ בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ. וְטַהֵר לִבֵּנוּ לְעָבְדְּךָ בֶּאֱמֶת. וְהַנְחִילֵנוּ ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצון שַׁבַּת קָדְשֶׁךָ וְיָנוּחוּ בו יִשרָאֵל מְקַדְּשֵׁי שְׁמֶךָ:
כִּי בְעַמְּךָ יִשרָאֵל בָּחַרְתָּ מִכָּל הָאֻמּות וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשְׁךָ לָהֶם הודָעְתָּ וְחֻקֵּי רָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים לָהֶם קָבָעְתָּ:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’. מְקַדֵּשׁ הַשַּׁבָּת וְיִשרָאֵל וְרָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים:

I have marked  those elements which seem to have been taken from from other places. The text marked (1) was borrowed from Yom Tov; the text marked (2) was borrowed from Shabbos; the text marked (3) was borrowed from regular Rosh Chodesh davening. The result is a fascinating mixture: The opening of the berachah, Atah Yatzarta, is unique and does not come from any other source. We then plunge into a litany borrowed largely from the liturgy of Yom Tov, but with the element of bechirah, of the chosenness of Israel excised. [This is the portion that begins אתה בחרתנו.]  Viein Anachnu parallels the mipnei chataaeinu in regular Rosh Chodesh davening that explains why we don’t have korbanos nowadays. After that we have the text which precedes and follows the actual recital of the korbanos, borrowed from Shabbos davening. Finally, we have the regular end of the middle berachah from Shabbos, but with the request that our sins should be atoned for mentioned in the middle, and that is the only thing borrowed from Rosh Chodesh.

It would seem that Rosh Chodesh is subsumed into Shabbos in that the only borrowing from Rosh Chodesh davening is buried in the standard Shabbos portion. However, in being subsumed in this fashion, the character of Shabbos is changed, becoming a festival in its own right, similar to Pesach, Shavu’os and Sukkos. We see that it is Shabbos which absorbs the content of Rosh Chodesh in that we say “renew for us on this Shabbos day this new moon,” whereas in the regular berachah for Rosh Chodesh we usually say “renew for us this new moon.” As a result, Shabbos becomes a testament to the character of Am Yisra’el, but uniquely among the mo’adim, not to their having been chosen. I would venture that when Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh coincide in this fashion they are able to combine in a way which other festivals are not, because each is a testament to the creation of the world as well as Israel’s special relationship with G-d. Shabbos is of course zecher lema’aseh bereishis and we might adventure that Rosh Chodesh is indeed something of a reenactment of the creation of the world in the sense that it celebrates the renewing of the moon, directly (the Ibn Ezra in Shemos 12 states that the word Chodesh actually means the renewal of the moon). The combination contains that content, but does not commemorate the choosing of Israel in that is does not commemorate any specific historic event in the desert.

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One thought on “The Unique Character of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh

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