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Shabbat Parshat Emor

How and Why Yom Tov and Shabbat Evening Prayers are Different

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The Torah portion of Emor includes the section called Parshat Hamo’adot[1] which discusses the holidays (Yamim Tovim) and is read on Pesach and twice on Sukkot. This article will focus on some of the laws and customs relating to the evening prayers of Yom Tov and how they differ from the prayers of Friday night.
Connecting the Weekday and Shabbat Prayers
The Alter Rebbe explains[2] that all of the Torah and Mitzvot which a person performs during the week are elevated to G-d in his daily prayers. These weekday prayers offer us a glimmer of Shabbat since just as on Shabbat one ceases and desists from all one’s weekday activities, so too, during prayer one must remove his mind from all such activities. In addition, the daily prayers serve to prepare us for the holiness of Shabbat. [3] On Shabbat, the prayers of the week are elevated to a higher level – within the prayers of Shabbat whose prayers ascend to a much higher level.[4] Shabbat, however, is so much more elevated than the weekdays that, on its own, it is connect to, and elevate, the weekday prayers. We learn this from the fact that Shabbat is called “kodesh,”[5] which means “removed,” i.e., completely beyond the ordinary.
Yom Tov, on the other hand, is called “mikra kodesh,”[6] i.e., it is not quite “kodesh” (removed), but it is rather called (mikra) “kodesh,” and it can act as a channel for some of the holiness of Shabbat to reach the lower aspects of this world.  Thus, it is through the prayers of Yom Tov that the weekday prayers are elevated to the level of Shabbat. Specifically, the Yom Tov of Pesach, which is associated with our forefather Avraham Avinu, elevates the Shacharit (morning) prayers which were enacted by Abraham. The holiday of Shavuot, associated with Yitzchak Avinu, elevates the Mincha (afternoon) prayers which were established by Yitzchak. And the holiday of Sukkot, associated with Yaakov Avinu, elevates the Maariv (evening) prayers which were established by Yaakov.[7]
Yom Tov Evening Prayers
There are several, but not many, differences between the Shabbat and Yom Tov prayers. This article will explore some of the differences of the evening prayers of these two holy days.
Psalm 107
Some have the custom to recite chapter 107 on Erev Shabbat before Mincha. This was established by the Ba’al Shem Tov. The purpose of the prayer is elevate ourselves from our weekday activities so that our speech and prayers on Shabbat will be pure.[8] In addition, we say this to thank G-d that we were not negatively affected or injured, either physically or spiritually, during our work week. Some have a custom to recite this with a minyan similar to the blessing of HaGomel.[9] Others are not particular to say it with a minyan.[10] Some say that the Ba’al Shem Tov enacted this as a thanksgiving for a miracle that occurred to him when he was returning from his aborted journey to the holy land and that his students follow in his tradition until today.[11]
This psalm is not recited when Erev Shabbat coincides with Yom Tov or Chol HaMoed as we are not coming from a regular working situation.[12]
If Friday is a regular day and Shabbat coincides with Yom Tov, this Psalm is recited.[13]
Kabbalat Shabbat
Usually, the Friday night prayers begin with Kabbalat Shabbat, which is a compilation of Psalms; a poem about Shabbat; and a reading from the Zohar (Nusach Sefard and Arizal) or a chapter of Mishna – the second of tractate Shabbat (Nusach Ashekanz). The theme of these prayers is the transition from the six mundane workdays to the holy Shabbat. As such, these prayers are not appropriate for the evening of Yom Tov.
When Shabbat coincides with Yom Tov (or if Yom Tov was on Friday) much of the Kabbalat Shabbat is not recited. The reason for this is so that the Yom Tov not be “embarrassed” by the fact that such a compilation was made for Shabbat and not for Yom Tov.[14]
There are various customs as to where the Kabalat Shabbat should begin when Shabbat coincides with Yom Tov.[15]
  • The Chassidic custom is to begin with Mizmor LeDavid (Psalm 29).[16]
  • The general Ashkenazi custom is to begin with Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbat (Psalm 92).[17]
  • There are some who say a shortened version of Lecha Dodi consisting of the first two and last two stanzas. The middle stanzas are left out since they describe how the Jewish people and the Divine presence are in exile, and we do not wish to evoke sadness on Yom Tov by mentioning this.[18]
  • Those who say Lecha Dodi replace the words “berinah uvetzolah” (with singing and gladness) in the last stanza, with “besimcha uvetzholah” (with joyousness and gladness) due to the joyousness of Yom Tov.[19]
  • Some do not say the paragraphs of Kegavna and Raza DeShabbat (the readings of the Zohar included in Nusach Sefard and in Nusach of the Arizal) as it mentions that on Shabbat, the Shechina (Divine presence) is separated from the Sitra Achara (side of impurity). Since on Yom Tov (and on Chol HaMoed) there is no Sitra Achara in any case, we do not mention this.[20] Some say these paragraphs as usual.[21]
  • Some have the custom of saying a regular Kabbalat Shabbat.[22]
No Vayechulu or Me’ein Sheva
On a regular Friday night, we recite the paragraph of Vayechulu as well as a mini repetition of the Amidah after the silent Amidah. The mini- repetition is called Me’ein Sheva as it is similar (me’ein) to the seven (sheva) blessings of the Shabbat Amidah. When Yom Tov does not fall on Shabbat we do not recite Vayechulu as it is a paragraph about G-d resting on Shabbat and is not related to Yom Tov.
Neither do we recite the mini-repetition of the Amidah on Yom Tov. The reason for this is as follows: In ancient times the shuls stood outside of the city limits, for which reason many people would not come to shul for a weekday Ma’ariv but would only come on Friday nights. The sages were concerned that the latecomers may not be finished when the congregation finishes Ma’ariv and thus may have to walk home alone, which was dangerous. They therefore enacted a mini repetition of the Amida to allow the latecomers to catch up with the congregation. Since on Yom Tov many people would be busy cooking the food (which is not allowed on Shabbat) and would also not come to the shuls outside the city, there was no need to recite the mini-repetition. Even though now, thank G-d, people do come to shul on Yom Tov evening, we do not change the order of the prayers that were enacted in ancient times.
When Yom Tov coincides with Shabbat, we say the mini-repetition of Shabbat, but we do not mention the Yom Tov within that repetition. The reason for this is that we are saying this repetition due to Shabbat and not due to Yom Tov, so there is no need to mention the Yom Tov.[23]
When Shabbat coincides with the first night of Pesach, we do not recite the mini-repetition since on that night we are protected from all harm, and it was considered safe for the latecomers to walk home alone.[24] Some say that it should be recited as usual.[25] The general custom is not to say it.
Sholom Aleichem and More
On Friday nights, we generally welcome the angels by reciting the song called Sholom Aleichem before we begin the meal. This song, which greets the angels, is in keeping with the teaching in the Talmud that two angels escort a person when he comes home from Shul on Friday night.[26] On a Yom Tov that is on a weekday, we don’t recite this prayer since these angels do not accompany a person at that time. The reason for this is that these angels are associated with the additional soul we receive on Shabbat and not on Yom Tov. Even according to the opinion that we do receive an additional soul on Yom Tov, it is not as holy as the soul of Shabbat, and the angels associated with it do not merit a special greeting.[27]When Yom Tov coincides with Shabbat some say that it should be said[28] while others say it should be left out.[29] The reason for the latter opinion is so as not to insult the Yom Tov on which (usually) there is no angelic escort.[30] Some also leave out this prayer out on Shabbat Chol HaMoed and Motzoei Yom Tov.[31]
The Chabad custom is to recite this prayer (and Eishet Chayil etc.[32]) quietly on Yom Tov.[33] This is a compromise between these two opinions. To the best of my knowledge on Chol HaMoed and Motzei Yom Tov the Chabad custom is to recite it in the usual manner.
May we merit to experience the unique holiness of Shabbat and Yom Tov!

[1] Numbers, 24
[2] Likutei Torah, Parshat Behar, 41a
[3] Ibid, Parshat Ha’azinu, 72b
[4] Ibid, Parshat Pinchas, 76b
[5] Deut. 31:14
[6] Numbers, 24:2 and throughout the chapter. See Ramban on the verse that Mikra Kodesh is not referring to Shabbat.
[7] See Tur, O.C. 417 and Brachot, 26b
[8] Meor Einayim, end of Parshat Shelach, cited in Siddur Rabeinu HaZaken im Tziyunim by Dayan Raskin of London, page 244, note 1
[9] Sha’ar HaKollel, 17:2. See O.C. 219
[10] The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote (cited in Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad, page 25) that he did not see people being particular to say this with a minyan. But see a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (printed in Likutei Sichot, vol. 29, page 410) where the Rebbe recommends that the Chazzan for Mincha should begin with Korbanot and on Friday with Hodu (Palm 107) to ensure that no one forgets to say these. “This sort of new enactment is required by the Torah (Chadash kegon ze mechuyav min haTorah).” [These sources are cited in the abovementioned Siddur.]
[11] Rav Asher Zelig Margaliyot in the introduction to his book Ma’amar Tefilat Patach Eliyahu (Jerusalem, 5724)
[12] Siddur HaRav as explained in Dayan Raskin’s Siddur.
[13] Sha’ar HaKollel, ibid, cited in ibid.
The Piskei Teshuvot (487:3) writes that some say it should not be recited when Shabbat coincides with Yom Tov. He cites the Darkei Chayim VeShalom, ot 582 and the Elef HaMagen, 48 on Mateh Efrayim, 625. These sources are flawed, however. The Darkei Chayim simply records that the custom of the first Munkacher Rebbe (Rav Chayim Elazar Shapiro) was to not recite Hodu on the first night of Pesach when it coincided with Shabbat. This could have been specific to Pesach since Erev Pesach is considered a mini Holiday and is not a regular work day (see O.C. 468). The Elef HaMagen writes that “our custom is to not recite Hodu on any evening of Yom Tov even if it coincides with the evening of Shabbat. And so writes Rav Shneor Zalman in his Siddur (Siddur HaRav).” But, as mentioned above, the Siddur HaRav only says to not say it when Yom Tov coincides with Erev Shabbat, not with Shabbat itself.
[14] Piskei Teshuvot, 267, note 52
[15] See ibid and Minhag Yisrael Torah, 529:4
[16] The Mateh Efrayim, in 625:41 writes that this is the custom of Anshei Ma’aseh (men of action).
[17] Ibid. See Sha’arei Teshuva, 270:1 citing the Shalmei Chagiga and the Bait David that the reason some do no say the Lecha Dodi prayer which welcomes the Shabbat is so as not to embarrass the Yom Tov which does not get such a welcome. The Bait David defends the custom of those who say Lecha Dodi as he explains that it is only Shabbat that needs to be welcomed since the holiness of Shabbat comes to us from above. Whereas Yom Tov is sanctified by the Jewish people (who make the calendar) and, thereby, it has already been welcomed.
[18] Mateh Efrayim , ibid
[19] Ibid, citing the Arizal (Pri Etz Chaim, Sha’ar HaShabbat, 8 in a note).
[20] Mateh Efraim ibid as explained in the Elef LaMateh, 67
[21] Implication of the Siddur HaRav. See Ketzeh HaMateh 65 on Mateh Efraim, ibid, who explains that since Yom Tov is also called Shabbat, the Zohar can be understood as saying that both on Shabbat and on Yom Tov, the Shechina is separated from the Sitra Achara.
[22] Kaf HaChaim, 262:34 citing the Ru’ach Chaim by Rav Chaim Palagi, 262:3. The Ruach Chaim bases this ruling on the Zohar, Parshat Emor, that Yom Tov is considered the guest of Shabbat. If so, the Shabbat prayers should be the main prayers.
[23] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 268:12 -14
[24] Ibid, 487:4.
[25] Piskei Teshuvot, 487:3 in the name of the great Kabbalist Rav Shalom Sharabi
[26] Shabbat, 119b
[27] Responsa of Divrei Yatziv, 1:123
[28] Mateh Efrayim, 583:1
[29] Elef HaMegen, 1 on ibid
[30] Piskei Teshuvot (new edition), 271:2
[31] Divrei Yatziv, ibid
[32] See Sha’ar HaKolel, 18:2 that Eishet Chayil is referring to the Shechina. As such, since Yom Tov does not have this revelation of the Shechina, it is unbecoming to mention it out loud.
But see Piskei Teshuvah, ibid that there are some who skip Sholom Aleichem but do say Eishet Chayil.
[33] HaYom Yom Nissan 19 and Tishrei 17
Wishing You a Shabbat Shalom!
Aryeh Citron

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