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This page lists 4 rules that may cause the first day of Rosh Hashannah to be postponed from being on the date of the molad Tishrei. One of the rules is:

If molad Tishri occurs on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, Tishri 1 must be delayed by one day for the following reasons:

Wednesday or Friday would cause Yom Kippor (Tishri 10) to fall on Friday or Sunday making it impossible to prepare food (because of Sabbath restrictions) on either the day before or the day after the Yom Kippor fast. Sunday would cause the seventh day of Succoth (Hoshana Rabba) to fall on the Sabbath.

OK, I understand that on Hoshannah Rabbah, there is a custom to beat the aravot twigs on the ground, and we cannot do this on Shabbat.

I'm curious as to why the calendar rules would be that concerned about performing what is a minhag rather than giving priority to performing a Torah commandment such as assuring that Rosh Hashannah never falls on Shabbat so that we can always be sure to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashannah?

I know that there are 2 days of Rosh Hashannah, so if we miss blowing on Shabbat, at least we know that we will hear SHofar blowing on Sunday. OTOH, Hoshanna rabbah is 1 day so if we don't beat the twigs that day, there's no other day to do it.

Nonetheless, shofar is still a Torah commandment, and the Torah says that there is just 1 day of Rosh Hashanna. The fact that we have 2 days is b/c we are following the sfeika deyoma rules. But it is still a Torah law vs. a minhag. I would think that performing the Torah law would be more important and should have precedence in deciding these postponement rules.

My Jewish history timeline is bad. Which came first? The establishment of the calendar via Hillel IV, which we now use, or the minhag of beating the aravot on Hoshannah Rabbah. I don't think this is mentioned in the Mishnah or Gemarrah, but I may be wrong.

  • If there isn't an alternate day, people might forget that it is done at all, which would be the worst – Double AA Sep 18 '15 at 19:18
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This priority is given in the Yerushalmi Sukkah 4:1:

ר' סימון מפקד לאילין דמחשבין יהבון דעתכון דלא תעבדין לא תקיעתה בשבת ולא ערבתא בשבתא ואין אדחקון עבדון תקיעתה ולא תעבדון ערבתא

R' Simon ordered those who calculate [the calendar rules], "See to it that you don't let the blowing of the Shofar be on Shabbos, or the [beating of the] Arava on Shabbos. If you're stuck, let the Shofar [be on Shabbos], but don't let the Arava."

Pnei Moshe says that this is because there are two days of Rosh Hashanah, so if one is on Shabbos we'll still have another day for Shofar. Korban Ha'eida adds (similar to DoubleAA's comment) that Shofar is a Torah commandment and so it doesn't need strengthening, but Arava is Divrei Kabbalah (from the Nevi'im) and does.

By the way, the beating of the Arava is mentioned in the Bavli, Sukkah 44b, as being done in the times of R' Eliezer bar Tzadok and Rav. (And the Yehi Ratzon we say when we do it calls it מנהג נביאיך הקדושים.) So it's a lot older than Hillel's setting up the calendar.

  • I don't think that's similar to my comment at all. – Double AA Sep 18 '15 at 20:57
  • @DoubleAA You had said that if the Arava is skipped one year, it might be forgotten altogether. Seems to me that that's basically why KHE associates this with the idea that divrei kabbalah tzrichin chizuk. – Shamiach Sep 18 '15 at 21:49
  • Someone recently upvoted my question, so I noticed it, today. Follow up - "So it's a lot older than Hillel's setting up the calendar". Assuming this, I think this may contradict the notion that there even were two days of Rosh Hashannah during the time of the Nevi'im, no? If so, that would seem to allow for years when the shofar was not blown. – DanF Jul 31 '18 at 17:01
  • @DanF what alternative is there to 2 days of R"H? You have no idea if it's Rosh Hashanah or not until the witnesses either show up or don't. – Heshy Jul 31 '18 at 17:08
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    @DanF yes but for the night and part of the day nobody, not even the judges (whether you call it Sanhedrin or not doesn't really matter), knew if witnesses were going to come. And if they didn't, the second day was really R"H but they had already kept the first day too. – Heshy Jul 31 '18 at 17:23
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The Torah implies that a day of Rosh HaShana can be on Shabbas, “Zichron Terua” (Vayikra 23:24), where the Shofar is only remembered and not blown. Therefore, Chazal had no problem letting Rosh HaShana fall out on Shabbas.

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    Even the Famous Taz didn't go this far. Besides, what about Lulav on the first day of sukkot; what verse did they rely on for that? – Double AA Jul 31 '18 at 16:41
  • Double AA you make a good point. Perhaps one can say that Lulav and Esrog was not put aside competely for Shabbas like Shofar because it was still done on Shabbas in the Mikdash. – David Slotkin Jul 31 '18 at 17:22
  • Shofar was also still done in the Mikdash on Shabbat – Double AA Jul 31 '18 at 17:39
  • Shofar not being on Shabbos is only d’Rabbanan. – DonielF Jul 31 '18 at 17:40
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    Welcome to MiYodeya David and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Jul 31 '18 at 22:30

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