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Yom Tov Musaf

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Shabbat Parshat Pinchas 
Understanding the Language of Some of the Musaf Prayers
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The Torah portion of Pinchas contains the sections about the various sacrifices brought throughout the year.[1] It includes the daily sacrifice (Tamid) as well as the Musaf sacrifices (additonal sacrifices) for Rosh Chodesh and for all of the holidays. The commentaries suggest several reasons as to why the section about the sacrifices is placed in this section of the Torah.
The Queen and her Friend
The Midrash Tanchuma brings the following parable to explain the order of these parshiyot: There was a king who would often get angry at his wife. She had a good friend. He would always calm the king down and make peace between them. This friend got sick and was dying. Knowing that he would no longer be able to make peace between the king and queen, the friend called for the king and begged him not to get angry at his wife any longer. The king said, “Instead of telling me to be nice to my wife, why don’t you tell her to respect me more (and not anger me in the first place)?”
The Jewish people are like the queen as we are constantly angering Hashem (who is compared to the king) in the desert. Moshe Rabbeinu is like the queen’s friend because he was always pleading with G-d to forgive us. Now that Moshe was passing away, he asked G-d to treat the Jewish people kindly (by appointing an appropriate leader[2]). G-d responded and said to Moshe, “Instead of telling me how I should treat them (by appointing a new leader), you should be telling them how to treat Me and honor Me (by bringing the sacrifices in the right time).” (It is not clear why the mitzvah G-d chose to tell Moshe the mitzah of these sacrifices as the example of honoring him. Perhaps it’s because sacrifices atone for sins which is similar to Moshe’s interceding on our behalf after we sinned. Or perhaps it is because the sacrifices (and our prayers) bring G-d a unique satisfaction (nachat ru’ach[3]).[4]
No Musaf in the Desert
The Ramban explains that the Musaf sacrifices were not sacrificed in the desert,[5] nor were the libations accompanying the sacrifices offered.[6] The reason for this is that the Jewish people had sinned with the golden calf and were in state of excommunication by G-d.[7] Now that they were beginning to divide the land in preparation for entering it (see Numbers 26:52 – 56) and the excommunication was over, it was necessary for them to receive this command.
A Command Saved for the Right Moment
Rabbeinu Bachaye explains that, although Moshe had been told by G-d about the mitzvot of sacrifices at Mount Sinai, he didn’t transmit the mitzvah to the Jewish people at that time as they did not need to observe it in the desert (as explained above). He now realized that he needed to tell them the mitzvah since he would not be allowed into the Land of Israel to instruct them later. (It is not clear to me why Moshe would not teach this mitzvah earlier even if it was not relevant until later.)
Ensuring Continued Prophecy
The Abarbanel explains that although Moshe had already taught them about the sacrifices, he exhorted them to continue bringing them properly after his passing. While Moshe was alive, he would go to the Mishkan every day and make sure that everything was being done properly. He wanted to be certain that, even after his passing, no sacrifice would be neglected.
In addition to the fact that the sacrifices are a mitzvah, they were essential to maintaining the spirit of prophecy among the Jewish people. While Moshe was alive, the Divine spirit that rested on him was so intense that the overflow of that spirit effortlessly reached other holy and wise men. After his passing, it was necessary to put a greater effort into maintaining the Divine Presence among the prophets. Bringing the sacrifices properly would enable the Divine spirit to continue resting on the (prophets of the) Jewish people. We find that sacrifices are associated with communication from G-d as many of our holy ancestors brought sacrifices at the time that they were receiving communication from G-d.[8] This was also accomplished by the wicked prophet Bilaam in last week’s Torah portion.[9]
Sacrifices During Wartime
The Ba’al HaTurim explains that the laws of sacrifices are placed here to teach us that Moshe taught these laws to Yehoshua (who is mentioned in the verse that precedes this section) and instructed him that he should make sure the sacrifices never cease, even during wartime.[10]
Brought by the Public and Even in Israel
The Ohr HaChaim says that Moshe was instructing the Jewish people that they had to bring these sacrifices collectively and that they could not be brought just by the leader Yehoshua, whom he had just appointed. Although in many ways Yehoshua’s sacrifice might represent all of the Jewish people, the sacrifices must actually come from funds gathered from the entire community.
In addition, the Jewish people may have thought that the sacrifices were only necessary while traveling in the desert[11] (perhaps to protect them during their journey) but not when they settled into the land of Israel. Therefore, Moshe had to instruct them to continue with these sacrifices.
The Death of Tzaddikim as an Atonement
The Midrash[12] says that, by placing the section of the sacrifices after the one where G-d informs Moshe that he will pass away,[13] the Torah is teaching us that just as sacrifices atone, so, too, the death of the tzaddikim (righteous people) atone for the generation.
Yom Tov Musaf
Since this section discusses the laws of the Musaf sacrifices of Yom Tov, the rest of this article will be about some of the language of the Musaf prayers of Yom Tov.
Jerusalemites Praying to Return to Jerusalem
Rabbi Yakov Chagiz[14] (1620-1674) of Fez and later of Jerusalem was asked if the Jews of Jerusalem should pray (in the Musaf prayers) “and bring us to Jerusalem, your holy city” since they are already there. He answered that they should do so for two reasons: Firstly, coming to Jerusalem without Moshiach is considered an “empty coming,” whereas we are praying for a proper return to Jerusalem with all of the holiness that accompanies Moshiach. Secondly, we are praying for our brothers who are still far from Jerusalem, that they, too, should return.[15]
Returning to Our Homes
Part of the text of the Yom Tov Musaf prayers reads as follows: “Restore Kohanim to their service and Levites to their chanting and song, and return Israel to their dwelling places. There we will go up and appear and bow before You on the occasion of our three pilgrim festivals.” Rabbi Pinchas Epstein, one of the chief rabbis of the Eidah HaCharedit from 1948 – 1969, questions the wording of this prayer. Why is it that for the Kohanim and Levites we ask for elevated, spiritual matters (Divine service, chanting and song) while for the Israelites we only ask that they be returned to their dwelling place? And why is it that we ask to be able to go up and bow at the pilgrimage festivals right after asking for the return to the dwelling places?
He offers the following explanation:
The Talmud (Pesachim 8b) says that whoever does not own land in Israel need not ascend to Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals. This is derived from the verse “No one will covet your land when you go up to appear before the L-rd, your G-d, three times each year.”[16]This can be understood to mean that it is only if you have land (which the gentiles will not covet, as the Torah assures us) must you appear before G-d three times a year. We therefore pray that we should return to the land and receive a portion of it so we will be able to fulfill (to the fullest extent[17]) the mitzvah to “appear and bow before You on the occasion of our three pilgrim festivals.”[18]
The Order of the Redemption
In the Yom Tov Musaf prayer, we say, “May it be Your will… Have mercy on us and on Your sanctuary, and rebuild it soon and increase Your glory. Our Father, speedily reveal the glory of Your kingship… Gather our dispersed from among the nations.” Rabbi Epstein questions the order of these requests. Why don’t we first ask for the return of the exiles, then for the revelation of G-d’s kingship, and after that for the rebuilding of the sanctuary, which is the expression of the revelation of G-d’s glory?
To explain this, Rabbi Epstein cites several sources[19] that maintain that the Bait HaMikdash will be built before the revelation of Moshiach and the ingathering of the exiles. This is in accordance with the order of these prayers (“reveal the glory of your kingship” is referring to the revelation of Moshiach). Although the Rambam clearly says[20] that Moshiach will arrive, thenl build the Bait HaMikdash, and only then gather in the exiles, it is possible that the Rambam is referring to a redemption that happens speedily when we are in a state of merit, while in our prayers we are referring to the normal order of the redemption which happens at the predestined moment.[21]
May we soon merit to be speedily returned to our land and to ascend and bow to G-d at all the pilgrimage festivals!

[1] Numbers chapters 28 and 29
[2] See ibid, 27:16
[3] See Likutei Sichot, 13 pg. 102 and 104
[4] Rashi brings a similar Midrash. But see ibid pg. 99 that Rashi is actually explaining the word “Tzav –  command” and not the fact that the sacrifices are placed in this position.
[5] He bases this on the fact that in the section about the festivals in Parshat Emor, which was commanded in the beginning of the Jewish people’s stay in the desert, there is no elaboration on the Musaf sacrifices. Instead it merely says (about some of these days) “and you shall sacrifice a burnt offering to G-d (Levit. 23: 8 and 37). The reason for the lack of detail is that it was not a command for that time.
Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz (1731 – 1805 of Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, a student of the Maggid of Mezritch), in his sefer Panim Yafot, questions this Ramban. The Mishnah in Menachot, 45b states clearly that all of the sacrifices mentioned in the book of Numbers were brought in the desert. In addition, the Talmud in Zevachim 101b states that on the day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, the Musaf of Rosh Chodesh was sacrificed.
Rabbi Meir Dan Poltzki (1866 – 1928 of Poland), in his sefer Kli Chemda, explains that the Ramban does not mean that the Musaf offerings were not sacrificed in the desert. Rather, he means that these sacrifices were brought exclusively by the tribe of Levi and not by the entire Jewish people. (I.e. it was not purchased with communal money.) This idea is mentioned in Chagigah 6b. The reason for this is that the Jewish people were excommunicated after the sin of the golden calf (see Yevamot 72a).
(Personally, I find this interpretation of the Ramban to be forced. As the Ramban says, in the same breath, that there was no Musaf sacrifices in the desert and there were no libations in the desert. In the latter case he certainly means there were actually no libations (see Kiddushin 37a). So presumably, he means the same regarding the Musaf sacrifices. It would seem to me that the Ramban is giving an interpretation that differs from the understanding of the sages of the Talmud as there are “70 faces to the Torah.” A.C.)
[6] See Numbers 15:2 and Kiddushin 37a
[7] See Yevamot 72a
[8] See Gen. 8:20 – 22 (regarding No’ach), 12:7 (regarding Avraham), 26:24 – 25 (regarding Yitzchak), and 46:1 – 4 (regarding Ya’akov).
[9] Numbers 23:1, 14 and 29
[10] In fact, during the battle against Jericho, there was one day that the Jewish people neglected to bring the Tamid (daily) sacrifice. An angel appeared to Yehoshua soon after that, to reprimand him (see Joshua, 5:13 – 15 and Tractate Megillah 3a).
[11] It is noteworthy that in this respect, the Ohr HaChaim argues with the Ramban (see above) who says the Musaf sacrifices were not sacrificed in the desert. But see above note 4 as to a possible different meaning of the Ramban.
[12] Cited in Torah Sheleimah, 28, note 2
[13] Numbers 27:12 – 14
[14] Rabbi Chagiz was one of the prominent rabbis of Jerusalem who opposed Shabtai Tzvi and put him in cherem (religious excommunication).
[15] Halachot Ketanot, 252
[16] Exodus, 24:24
[17] One who is not obligated may also fulfill this mitzvah. But there is an advantage to fulfilling a mitzvah that it mandatory rather than voluntary (see Kiddushin, 31a)
[18] The Halachic Journal HaPosek, article 1382
[19] Tosfot Yom Tov, Ma’aser Sheini, 5:2 based on the Jerusalem Talmud on that Mishnah, see also Megillah 17b and 18a. Rabbi Epstein also says that the Zohar in Parshat Terumah subscribes to this view.
[20] Laws of Melachim, 11:4
[21] The Halachic Journal HaPosek, article 1453
Alternately, perhaps it is the opposite. We pray for a miraculous redemption in which case Moshiach will not need to build the Bait HaMikdash as it will come ready made from Heaven. In this scenario, Moshiach can arrive after this miraculous occurrence. Whereas, the Rambam is explaining the Halachic (i.e., essential) viewpoint of Moshiach which is that the redemption will occur (even if we are not in a state of merit) in a natural way. In this scenario, it will be Moshiach who will undertake the task of building the Bait HaMikdash (with our help, if course).
Wishing You all a Shabbat Shalom!
Aryeh Citron

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