The Changes in the Liturgy of Rosh HaShana: M. Rosh HaShana 4:7

Meir Bar-Ilan

The aim of this paper is to suggest a new understanding in m. Rosh HaShana 4:7 that reads as follows: 'One who passes before the holy ark during the holiday of Rosh HaShana - the second should blow the horn; during the time of the Hallel - the first reads the Hallel'.

The main problems in the Mishna were as follows: 1) who is the second and who is the first? 2) It was never known that Hallel is to be recited on Rosh HaShana, and therefore the Hallel was thought to be said on other holidays, but not Rosh HaShana (as opposed to the plain reading of the Mishna).

The first paragraph is interpreted as related to three Hazanim that passed before the congregation, as is known to have been done in the Land of Israel on a few occasions, especially on fast-days, and Rosh HaShana was conceived as a fast-day (at least - half of it). The Tanna told his disciples that on a day like Rosh HaShana, (in honor of the congregation) three people ought to come before the congregation and the second Hazan should tell the first Hazan what kind of Tekiaa should be blown (as is done until this day, though this is not the normative explanation in the Talmud.

The second paragraph concerning the Hallel is suggested to say exactly what is meant to be said: that on Rosh HaShana the reader is the first Hazan (as usual, and not the second as in the former Halakha). Although R. Abahu explained why Hallel is not to be said on Rosh HaShana, it is argued that R. Abahu rejected an old custom of reciting the Hallel on Rosh HaShana just as the Hallel was recited on other occasions (maybe in accordance with Temple habits), but was rejected for various reasons

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last updated: September 2, 2002