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In shul yesterday, we said "Av Harachamim" before Ashrei. We also did not bless the month of Tishrei. I know that there are various reasons why we aren't mevarchim the chodesh Tishrei and I figured that since, according to my siddur, we don't say Av Harachamim on a festive shabbat (when Tachanun would be skipped were it a weekday) as signified by blessing the month, the lack of said blessing would require saying the A"Har -- the two seemed intertwined. During sefirah, when, regardless of blessing the month, the entire tone is sad due to bloody massacres, we say A"Har even when we bless the month (from the commentary in the Artscroll siddur) to reflect this pervasive sadness.

But the shabbat before Rosh Hashanah is no more sad than any other. Our reasons for not blessing Tishrei are not because the month doesn't start -- the shabbat should be as festive as any other on which we do bless the month! In fact, the Koren siddur implies in the English instructions to omit A"Har ("It is also omitted on a Shabbat before Rosh Hodesh (except for the Shabbat before Rosh Hodesh Iyar and Rosh Hodesh Sivan)"). The Hebrew makes the inference more tenuous, labeling the day not "The Shabbat before" but "Shabbat Mevarchim" though this doesn't clarify whether the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah is a "Shabbat Mevarchim on which we don't say the blessing for other reasons" or "not a Shabbat Mevarchim even though it precedes the new month."

Is there an inherent connection between the saying of A"Har and the saying of the text of birchat hachodesh? Is there some other, external reason why we DO say Av Harachamim on the Shabbat preceding Rosh Hashanah?

  • I'm unfamiliar with how Koren instructions are written. But general rule regarding Av Harachamim is that is skipped either on a Shabbat when Rosh Hodesh is "blessed" (except during Sefirah) OR a day when Tachanun would not be said on a weekday. Neither circumstance occurs on the SHabbat preceding Rosh Hashanna. Therefore, Av Harachamim was said. – DanF Oct 5 '16 at 1:43
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    @DanF but that's a chicken/egg argument. Would we not say tachanun only if we bless the month, or do we bless the month because of the particular status of the day? R"H is a rosh chodesh. The reason for NOT blessing the month is not about the day not being rosh chodesh. Therefore the status of the shabbat before is still the "shabbat before rosh chodesh." – rosends Oct 5 '16 at 1:51
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    @DanF "Av Harachamim is attached to mevarchim hachodesh i.e. the activity / prayer, not the day, itself" except when it isn't, like during the Omer. – rosends Oct 5 '16 at 16:11
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This beureihatefilah.com article explains the history of Av Harachamim as well as its various customs regarding when it should (not) be said.

The part that best answers your question is on page 4 of the article. The custom that many Nusach Ashkenaz people follow seems to be that mentioned in Siddur Avodat Yisra'el (I gather this is of Germanic origin, but it's unclear from reading the article).

He says that most people from Poland recite Av Harachamim each Shabbat except for when tzidkatcha tzedek is omitted, if there is a chattan (groom) or brit milah (circumcision) in shul that day, or when the new month is blessed (note, he mentions the activity, not the day), except during the days of sefirah. Some people from Prague recite Av Harachamim when the month of Av is blessed.

On the SHabbat prior to Rosh Hashannah, tzidkatcha tzedek IS recited and there is no blessing of the new month. So, unless there is either a groom or circumcision occurring, Av Harachamim should be recited.

  • so does it have to do with the combination of not saying Tzidkatcha in mincha along with blessing the new month? According to my lu'ach, last year, when we blessed Cheshvan and Kislev, we said Tzidkatcha at mincha but not Av Harachamim in Shacharit , so only one part of that combination was there. – rosends Oct 5 '16 at 18:14
  • I'm confused about your last comment. It's EITHER condition, not both. – DanF Oct 5 '16 at 19:03
  • Your final paragraph indicated "and" so I thought you were pointing to a combination of two elements. Once you have it at only one mitigating factor then the exceptions (2 months during the omer) creep in, but the reason WHY there is an exception hinges on the nature of the day/time of year and that reasoning doesn't apply. – rosends Oct 5 '16 at 20:05
  • Siddur Avodat Yisrael is of German origin. – ezra Sep 1 '17 at 3:52
  • @ezra - not true. The Siddur Avodat Yisrael is NOT of German origin. It's written by a Yid who maybe lived in Germany. They were/are called Ashkenazim, (or possibly Yekkes, depending on the era), but never Germans. – Danny Schoemann Jan 29 '18 at 13:17

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