With few exceptions (days when Tachanun isn't said, possibly on the Four Parshiyot), the prayer Av haRachamim, which talks about "the destruction of the Ashkenazi communities around the Rhine River by Christian crusaders during the First Crusade", is recited on every Shabbat. This prayer does not fit with the joyous theme of Shabbat, and as mentioned in Why are some bakashot made on Shabbat? , "prayers of request (bakashot)" are generally prohibited. Why, then, is this prayer recited every week?

(I could understand if it was recited specifically during the dates when the destruction took place, but every week?)

  • Do you want a reason (why do we say it every Shabas) or an excuse (how dare we say it every Shabas) or either/both?
    – msh210
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 4:10
  • @msh210 What's the difference?
    – Shmuel
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 7:59
  • 1
    A reason to say it every Shabas might be that the tragedy was so severe that we feel a need to mention it often or that there are more people in the synagogue on Shabas than other days, for example. Those don't excuse saying a somber prayer on Shabas, but they are reasons to do so. An excuse for saying it every Shabas might be that it doesn't count as mourning or that doesn't count as a request, for example. Those aren't reasons to say it, but they excuse saying it.
    – msh210
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 15:24
  • That quote from Wikipedia is taken out of context. In its proper context, it indicates when the prayer was enacted, not what it speaks about.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 3:41

1 Answer 1


In the Rödelheim siddur, Rallis Wiesenthal's Siddur Sefas Yisroel, and the original Commonwealth edition of the Sacks Siddur, the instructions are to say Av Harachamim only on the shabbat before Shavuout and Shabbat Chazon. The custom of saying it every shabbat is, according to the former two, an innovation of Minhag Polin, which might mean that due to the even-worse conditions in Poland, it was necessary to introduce an added note of solemnity for shabbat.

  • 1
    A reasonable conjecture. Tach v'Tat, which heavily affected Polish Jews, is linked with the Rhineland massacres of 1096 in one nusach of א-ל מלא רחמים even though the original prayer predates Tach v'Tat. Perhaps Tach v'Tat likewise compounded the importance of Av HaRamchamim for Polish Jews.
    – Fred
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 5:31
  • Polin don't say Av HaRachamim every Shabbos. They don't say it on Shabbos Mevorchim HaChodesh (except during Sefiras Haomer, i.e. Mevorchim HaChodesh Iyyar and Sivan). Polin also don't say it when צדקתך wont be said at Mincha. As I said, it is said every Shabbos (except during Pesach) of the Sefira, even in Nisan. Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 17:34
  • Prague have the same minhag as Polin, however, they also say Av HaRachamim on Shabbos Mevorchim HaChodesh Av. Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 17:35
  • @JoshuaPearl, when I say every shabbat, I mean they don't just say it those two specific shabbatot mentioned in my answer. I grew up in Eastern European-influenced schuls, so I am well aware of the exceptions you mentioned, however as above, the rule is that unless one of those exceptions occurred, Av Harachamim would be said. Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 18:31

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