Nusach Ashkenaz says Shalom Rav at Mincha most days. However, when there is Birchas Kohanim (such as a fast day), they say Sim Shalom. Is there a connection between Birchas Kohanim and Sim Shalom? If there is a connection, what is it?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
Textual variants other than Nusach Ashkenaz simply have the text sim shalom.
In Nusach Ashkenaz, it appears that the lengthy sim shalom was intended for prayers at which Birkat Kohanim (which concludes with "may G-d grant you peace") could be said; and an abridged version, shalom rav, at prayers where it couldn't. (At night, as well as afternoons as often people would have had a strong drink by then, except on fast days. This is also why many, many synagogues do Birkat Kohanim on Simchat Torah early on in the prayers, before the liquor starts flowing.)
Nusach Ashkenaz does connect Sim Shalom with Birkas Cohanim, as opposed to Nusach Sefard where Shalom Rav is said at Maariv due (I think) to the less obligatory nature of the prayer. The Arizal rules that Sim Shalom is to be said at all three prayers as all three are obligatory, and Sefardim and many Chasidim follow his ruling. I know the Artscroll siddurs give over reasons for all of this, but I don't have access to those right now.
According to the Rambam Hil. Tefillah 1:2, Tefillah ends with hoda'ah, gratitude, not a request to grant peace. Bakashos, requests, are in the middle of the tefillah.
My Rav gave a shiur based on the above, plus the idea of bircas kohanim following avodah (Shmini 9:22) (and other sources), that sim shalom is a distinct part of tefillah specially instituted as a format for saying bircas kohanim. In other words, sim shalom exists only to say bircas kohanim.
However, it was instituted as an integral part of shemona esre and is said even in the silent tefilla and even when there are no kohanim or where the minhag is not to say bircas hakohanim. I don't know how the nusach change was established.
I recently got a ksav yad of the shiur from my rav. I can't post the entire shiur, but the upshot is as follows: