Was the Aleinu written for Rosh Hashanah? I just read what I think says this in the Rabbi Sacks intro to RH in the Koren Maczor. Making sure I am reading this correctly.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Hope to see you around! – mbloch Mar 14 '18 at 6:25
  • Aleinu is part of the shmonei esre of Rosh Hashana - only later did it become an addition to every prayer - is that what you are asking? – mbloch Mar 14 '18 at 6:25
  • "Some believe Aleinu was written by Tanna Rav in 3rd century Babylonia for Rosh Hashanah services. Rav was the first to institute the Aleinu into the service. However, other Jews believe the prophet Joshua wrote the prayer after conquering Jericho, signifying the Israelites as a superior nation among nations. " jewishvirtuallibrary.org/aleinu – rosends Mar 14 '18 at 9:42
  • And indeed, there are very old traditions about the 'simanim' (signs) within the prayer indicating it's authorship to Yehoshua ben Nun which are only present in the Rosh HaShanah version. Aleinu is one of the earliest traditions which we have about what the nature of the final and complete redemption will be. It speaks of the days of Moshiach and how all nations will come to worship G-d in symbiosis and hypocrisy will disappear. – Yaacov Deane Mar 14 '18 at 14:13
  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya. I esp. enjoy Iyun Tefilla (prayer inquiry) questions, so for your 1st question, this is excellent. Avrohom Yitchok's answer seems through. I'll see what I may be able to supplement from beureihatefilah.com. I have frequently heard that Aleinu was originally formulated by Joshua. – DanF Mar 14 '18 at 15:03

There is an article on Aleinu at Michleles Herzog which confirms that Aleinu originates in the prayers for Rosh Hashanah.

מקורה הראשון של תפילתנו בסדר התפילות מצוי בתפילת מוסף של ראש השנה, בתחילת סדר "מלכויות" - ולפי תוכנה, שצוין לעיל, ברור מדוע היא נכללת ב"מלכויות". מסדר מלכויות היא נלקחה לתפילות היום-יומיות. על הזמן המדויק שבו הועברה תפילתנו ממוסף של ראש השנה לתפילות החול ועל הסיבה לכך - אין ידיעה ברורה עד היום. צמידותה של "עלינו לשבח" לחתימת סדר תפילת השחרית של יום חול עוד אינה קיימת לא בסידורו של רב עמרם גאון (נפטר בשנת 875), לא ברמב"ם (1204-1135), ולא בסידורים קדמונים.

The first source of our prayer is found in the Mussaf prayer of Rosh Hashanah, at the beginning of the order of "Malchuyot" - and according to the content (especially “they shall accept the yoke of your kingdom and reign over them soon ... for your kingdom is eternal”), it is clear why it is included in "Malchuyot". From "Malchuyot", Aleinu was taken for daily prayers. The precise time when our prayer was transferred from the Mussaf prayer of Rosh Hashanah to the daily prayers and why is so far unknown. The placing of "Aleinu Le-Shabeach" at the end of the morning prayer of the weekday does not yet exist in the arrangement of Rav Amram Gaon (died in 875), not in Rambam (1135-1204), and not in previous arrangements.

  • Unless you are some Galizianer, I suggest Malkhuyot/Malchuyot transcription. – Kazi bácsi Mar 14 '18 at 12:26
  • @Kazibácsi Right. Done. – Avrohom Yitzchok Mar 14 '18 at 13:28
  • @kazi no, the chirik is right. its the plural of Malkit. It's not kingdoms, it's kinglets. – Double AA Mar 14 '18 at 13:28
  • 1
    Is that your translation? – Double AA Mar 14 '18 at 14:27
  • @DoubleAA I'm getting confused. Is it מלכייות or מלכויות? It's mixed at OU as well: ou.org/holidays/rosh-hashanah/… – Kazi bácsi Mar 14 '18 at 16:21

Some supplements to Avrohom Yitzhok's answer. I obtained this from beureihatefilah.com:

  • Siddur Rash"I seems to be one of the first that mentions the recital of Aleinu after Shacharit, and it was said silently by each individual at the end of the congregational prayer. (Similar to many of the extras that you see in the siddur after Shacharit such as reciting the 6 remembrances, 13 principles of faith (aka Ani Ma'amin)). It seems that it may have been added as a result of threats by the Crusades.

  • Originally, Shacharit ended with Psalm 83 said congregationally. Eventually, Aleinu was substituted, but it didn't originally end with Torah vesres (as we have now). The Torah verses were later added so that Kaddish could be recited. (I think the beginning of the linked article explains, somewhat, the relationship of Kaddish to Torah verses - a separate topic.)


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .