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In the Birchas HaChodesh that we say monthly the Shabbos prior to Rosh Chodesh we say as follows:

Chaim Sheyesh Bohem Yiras Shomayim V'Yiras Chet and then in the same paragraph we later say Chaim Shetehei Bonu Ahavas Torah V'Yiras Shomayim.

Yiras Shomayim is the only thing that is repeated twice. Why is it repeated?

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3 Answers 3

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The answer that circulates in the name of the Vilna Gaon (if I recall correctly) is:

Once before we've asked for "a life of wealth and honor"; then once again afterwards.

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The prayer preceding the actual announcement of the new month is a late addition to the Rosh Chodesh ritual and is taken directly from the Talmud (TB Berachos 16). There it was the prayer of Rav that he added after completing his daily prayers. As quoted there, Yiras Shomayim is only found at the end and not together with Yiras Chet. Indeed the Siddur Avodas Yisroel (The Ber Siddur) removes the first instance of Yiras Shomayim and says that it is a mistake. He also says that it is not found in the Shaloh Siddur either. The mystery is who added it in the first place since it is not found in Rav's prayer in the Talmud. It would take a study of old siddurim to find when it was added and by whom.

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The following explanation is taken from a drasha given on leil Shabbos by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rosh Av Beis Din of the Eidah Chareidis of Yerushalyim, and rewritten by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis: (found online)

In the Birkas Hachodesh that is recited in shul before Rosh Chodesh, we mention yiras Shomayim twice. One time we add yiras cheit, fear of transgression, and once we say yiras Shomayim without any additions. [...]

These two descriptions refer to the two different types of Divine fear. Yiras Shomoayim by itself refers to an appropriate level of fear that is experienced as a result of the Divine Presence being revealed. However, yiras cheit is a constant sense of awe that can only come from Torah study and working to internalize the level that we reach when seeing and contemplating the Almighty’s miracles.

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