Three Questions – No Answers

Rabbi Shlomo Cohen
Sept. 2023

Over the years I have asked many, many questions and almost all of them had good answers. However, there are three questions, research as I might, asked around, but have yet to find or hear a reasonable answer.

1. Two-day Rosh Chodesh

Of the twelve months in a year, about half the time we have a two-day Rosh Chodesh. Why? What does this accomplish? It has no effect on the calendar or when Yomin Tovim fall out.

In fact, every two-day Rosh Chodesh has, as the first day, the last day of the previous month, (except for Rosh HaShana), which is not the beginning of a new month.

We also do something which Chazal normally frown upon. We are Marbeh B’Brachos. On the first day there is Krias HaTorah for Rosh Chodesh. Six extra Brachos! Plus two more in Hallel. That’s eight. Plus Musaf, 7 more. 15 extra Brachose not counting Chazoras HaShatz.

The Rambam, assuming I’m understanding correctly, indicates that since the exact time of Rosh Chodesh may occur late in the afternoon, leaving us without a full day of Rosh Chodesh. To avoid this problem, we add the day before as a full day of Rosh Chodesh.

The problem with this is that we do observe a full day. Even if Rosh Chodesh doesn’t actually begin until late afternoon, we say Ya’aleh V’Yavo the night before, say Hallel, Layn, and Daven Musaf in the morning.

Leaving us with the question – Why 2 days?

2. Seder HaParshios

No matter the Nusach or Minhag, every Shul in the world Layns the exact same Parsha every week. (There is actually one small difference in the starting point of one Parsha.) Breishis, Noach, Lech Lecha, etc.

Who set this up? When did it begin?

Not only that, the Seder of Aliyos is virtually exactly the same throughout the world.

The Gemora indicates that Krias HaTorah is Halacha L’Moshe MeeSinai. Where did they Layn? Shuls were perhaps invented during the first Galus after the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. Before that, the only Kriah we are told about is that of the Kohanim. Each week there was a new Mishmar in the Bais HaMikdash. And each week they read Parshas Ha’azinu. In fact, we get those Aliyos from what the Kohanim read.

There was also a Mishmar of Yisroelim each week, who layned Parshas Breishis over and over.

So, who was reading the rest of the Torah and where were they reading it?

Krias HaTorah is central to both Shabbos and Yom Tov services, yet we have no idea how it even got started!

3. Additional Aliya for Maftir

Another Marbeh B’Brachose problem revolves around Maftir.

We know that during the time of the Yevonim there was a decree forbidding Krias HaTorah. Chazal instituted a reading from Navi which had some connection to that week’s Parsha. When the Gezeira was lifted, there was a new Minhag, Haftorah, which Chazal decided to continue.

We now finish the Parsha, say Chatzi Kaddish, call up another Aliya, who makes both Brachose. We then re-read the last few P’sukim of the Parsha. After which comes Hagba and then Haftorah.

Chazal could have made Shvi’I the Maftir. Say Kaddish followed by Hagba and then recite Haftorah which is exactly what we do on Tanis Tzibbur after R’vii.

This would accomplish the same thing without the extra Brachos as well as avoiding Tircha D’Tzibura.

Why the extra Aliya?

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