כ״ט בסיון ה׳תשע״ד (June 27, 2014)

Ta’anit 16a-b: Shofar Blasts on a Fast Day

As was taught in the Mishna (15a), the procedure for a fast day called because of severe drought involved bringing the ark out of the synagogue and into the public thoroughfare. The elders of the town would speak, and the prayer service was made up of the usual 18 blessings of the Amida prayer with an additional six berakhot inserted. The Mishna continues, relating times that this was actually implemented by Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon, who recited these blessings and ended the service with a series of shofar blasts. The Mishna concludes, however, that when heard that this had been done by Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon, they objected, arguing that this procedure was only appropriate for use in the Temple.

What exactly was inappropriate about the activities led by Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon?

The Tosafot R”id says that the problem stemmed from their blowing the shofar. Outside of the Beit HaMikdash trumpets are sounded during times of need, rather than a shofar.

The Rambam explains that in the Temple the shofar was sounded between each of the additional blessings, while outside the Temple it was only supposed to be blown at the very end of the service.

The Ge’onim argue that the problem was the way the shofar was sounded. In the Temple the tradition was to blow a series of varying sounds – Teki’ahTeru’ahTeki’ah – while outside of the mikdash a Teki’ah – a single, simple blast – was appropriate.

Rashi has a different understanding of the story. In his view, Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon did not allow the traditional response of Amen to be said after the blessings. Although we respond with Amen after every blessing that we hear recited, in the Temple, Amen was never said; rather the accepted response in the Temple was barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed (which we say immediately after the first line in our daily recitation of Keriyat Shema). According to Rashi, by instructing the congregation to respond barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed instead of the usual Amen, Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon broke with tradition, which angered the other Sages.

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