Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Serious Song

I originally saw this Dvar Torah here, but it was written in Yeshivish, so I translated it into English. The Hebew copy of this Dvar Torah was taken from the sample pages on this site.

The Talmud says[1] that Hallel is not said on Rosh HaShannah because the joyous song of Hallel is inappropriate for the day that the books of life and death are open in front of HaShem, the Judge of the World. Rabbi Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik of Brisk (1853-1918) says[2] that if this is why Hallel should not be said on Rosh HaShannah, then the same logic should be applied to say that the Song of the Day (Shir Shel Yom) should not be said on Rosh HaShannah; yet, it is clear from the Talmud that the Song of the Day by the Levites in the Holy Temple was indeed sung on Rosh HaShannah. This is from the fact that the Talmud says that the reason the Rabbis instituted a two-day Rosh HaShannah in order that the Levites should be able to sing the proper song in the Holy Temple[3]. Furthermore, it is known that the Song of the Day for Rosh HaShannah in the Holy Temple was Psalm 81. Rabbi Chaim Brisker answered that to sing Hallel one must be in a completely happy state, while to merely recite other songs, one need not be in such an absolutely joyous emotional state. This explains why Hallel is not said on Rosh HaShannah because of the fear from the judgment, while the daily song is still said. A footnote[4] explains from Nachmanides who says[5] who says that the happiness on the festivals is derived by the Talmud[6] from “Because you did not serve HaShem your G-d with happiness and goodness of the heart.[7]” This shows that Hallel on the festivals is an expression of complete elation, an emotion inconsistent with the serious mood of Rosh HaShannah. The source for the Daily Songs in the Temple, on the other hand, are merely scriptural imperatives which call for the Levites to sing while sacrifices are being offered, whether the feeling while singing is a feeling of happiness or not.

[1] Arachin 10b
[2] Mikroei Kodesh, Days of Awesomeness §8 as quoted in Kuntres HaMoadim from Brisk, pg. 13
[3] See Beitzah 4b-5a
[4] To Kuntres HaMoadim
[5] Ramban to Sefer HaMitzvos, Root 1
[6] Arachin 11a
[7] Deuteronomy 28:47

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