Rosh Chodesh bentching controversies – חילוקי דעות ומנהגים בברכת החודש

לכבוד שבת מברכים ר”ח ניסן התשע”א הבע”ל

ברכת החודש, aka Rosh Chodesh bentching, has, in the last few centuries, grown greatly in size, and been transformed from a short tefilloh into a a great and elaborate part of the davening, in many places.

The major change was made by taking a tefilloh from the gemara, תפלת רב, starting with the words יהי רצון מלפניך (from תלמוד בבלי, ברכות טז,ב, near bottom, see here), which is not related to Rosh Chodesh there, adding a few words to the beginning related to rosh chodesh, and making it the opening of that segment of the davening. Over time, it became a main focus of chazonim and chazonus, and of women who came to Shul for rosh chodesh bentching.

But not everyone has gone along with the changes. Gedolei olam like the Chasam Sofer, Noda biYehudah, and the Gaon of Vilna, opposed the incorporation of tefillas Rav there. It is not seen in the (original – later versions have been greatly altered, and even transformed from nusach Ashkenaz to Sfard, as has been done with other siddurim as well, such as siddur Chasam Sofer, a subject perhaps for later discussion) siddur that Rav Yaakov Emden issued either. They held that since we know that it is not permitted to ask for individual needs, such as פרנסה – livelihood, on Shabbos, being that תפלת רב contains many such requests, it was not appropriate for recitation then. And it was not there before, so why change things and add it, if previous generations didn’t? So the מנהג אשכנז, in places like Frankfurt a Main, the renowned bastion of ancient minhog, was not to say it. למעשה, as רבש”ה pointed out in a shiur, we see sometimes that people get very emotional during ראש חודש bentching, even to the point of crying. Especially women perhaps (if one is allowed to say that nowadays ;-). And some chazonim get into it like that as well. However, that is a big problem, since people are not supposed to cry on Shabbos! Shabbos is a time of שמחה!

רבש”ה also related interestingly that once a woman came to his Shul to daven on Shabbos mevorchim, and afterward was very scared that she would not live through the month, since they didn’t say the tefillas Rav which asks for חיים ארוכים. It didn’t occur to her that people that stick to that old nusach omitting it, have ב”ה been doing so for centuries, and, בחסדי השי”ת, continuing בחיים.

But that was not the only place where this issue arose לגבי שבת מברכים. It also manifested itself later, at the end of Rosh Chodesh bentching. After the חזן proclaims aloud when Rosh Chodesh will fall, the ציבור proceeds to say the short tefilloh of יחדשהו הקב”ה עלינו ועל כל עמו וכו. The נוסח אשכנז version of that tefilloh ends with the words לחיים ולשלום, לששון ולשמחה, לישועה ולנחמה ונאמר אמן, while a Sfard version is longer and contains בקשות for things like פרנסה, רפואה, וגשמים בעתם. As above with tefillas Rav, the latter version is viewed as more problematic by nusach Ashkenaz, due to the issue of שאלת צרכים בשבת. Therefore, people who stick carefully to nusach Ashkenaz, do not accept the longer Sfardishe nusach. This is the predominant minhog in חו”ל. In Eretz Yisroel, some people believe erroneously, that to say the longer nusach is incumbent upon them due to an alleged ‘מנהג ארץ ישראל’ (re which see here). In the famous Lederman Shul in Bnei Brak, however, they do not say it. Rav Chaim Kanievsky שליט”א explained, in the name of the Chazon Ish, that they conduct themselves that way because it is assur to be marbeh in bakoshos on Shabbos (לוח ארש מהדורת אוצרנו תשס”א, דף תר)

. א גוטען שבת און א פרייליכען חודש

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2 Responses to “Rosh Chodesh bentching controversies – חילוקי דעות ומנהגים בברכת החודש”

  1. Cheski Says:

    In Holland, we say the Yehi Ratzon softly to show that it is not an original custom.

  2. Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

    It has been brought to my attention that the minhog of Lubavitcher Chassidim is to omit tefillas Rav as well as the larger Sepharadic version of Yechadesheihu at Rosh Chodesh bentching too, see #16 here.

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