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Hilkhot T'fillah 1:10

Public T'fillat N'davah
Yahrzeit Shiur for Rabbi Soloveitchik zt"l

by Yitzchak Etshalom

10. The Tzibbur (community) does not say a T'fillat N'davah, since the Tzibbur does not offer a Korban N'davah (voluntary offering).

Even an individual should not say two T'fillot Musaf - one for that day's obligation and the other as a N'davah - since we may not bring a Musaf as a N'davah (i.e. there is no Halakhic mechanism by which a person can voluntary bring a Korban Musaf).

Some of the Ge'onim ruled that we may not say T'fillat N'davah on Shabbat or Yom Tov since we may not bring a Korban N'davah on those days - we may only bring the obligatory offerings of the day.

[RABD: We find a Korban N'davah brought by the Tzibbur, which is the Olah (burnt offering) brought from the money left over (from public offerings of the year just completed) which is all brought to the altar; however, this was not a common occurrence. Regarding the statement that an individual should not say a T'fillat N'davah of Musaf and the statement of the Ga'on that it is forbidden to say T'fillat N'davah on Shabbat and Yom Tov because N'davot are not brought on those days (rather, only the obligatory offerings are brought that day) I have a different opinion in these matters. When R. Yohanan said "Ideally a person would say T'fillah all day" (see the last two shiurim), he was only referring to the Eighteen B'rakhot (i.e. standard weekday T'fillah) which is asking for compassion and specific requests - and he must wait between them (i.e. the obligatory T'fillah and the T'fillat N'davah) long enough to regain his focus - and then he should focus his thoughts to ask for compassion; however, the T'fillah of Shabbat and Yom Tov, which are merely thanksgiving, was not what R. Yohanan intended - for, if he would give thanks and repeat giving thanks, it is a B'rakhah in vain, just like the B'rakhot of Yotzer (said before and after K'riat Sh'ma in the morning), the B'rakhot of 'Arvit (said before and after K'riat Sh'ma in the evening), Birkat haMitzvot (said before fulfilling many Mitzvot) and Birkat haPeirot (B'rakhot said before eating) and so forth].

This shiur, which was first presented on Shabbat Hol haMoed Pesach 5757, is dedicated in loving memory to Morenu v'Rabbenu, haRav Yosef Dov Ber haLevi Soloveitchik, zt"l. The "Rov", who returned his soul to his Maker four years ago on Hol haMoed Pesach 5753, had more impact than any other single person on the success of Talmud Torah in America and we are eternally in his debt for teaching us so much - not only making the "Brisker Derekh" of learning accessible to at least four generatoins of Talmidim, but also for teaching us so much about the relevance of every jot and tittle of Torah in every facet of our lives. May we always be enlightened by his instruction.



As noted in the previous shiur, the basic source for the notion of T'fillat N'davah is R. Yohanan's statement "Ideally, a person should say T'fillah all day." (BT Berakhot 21a, BT Pesahim 54a, JT Berakhot 4:4). As noted, this statement seems to stand in contradiction to the ruling of Sh'mu'el (which is juxtaposed to it in BT Berakhot), that if in the middle of saying T'fillah, someone realized that he had already said that T'fillah, he should halt his T'fillah - even in the middle of a B'rakhah. In that shiur, we outlined two approaches among the Rishonim to resolving this apparent dispute; both predicated upon the difference between saying T'fillah with the intent of fulfilling an obligation (Sh'mu'el's case) and planning it specifically as a N'davah (R. Yohanan). Whereas most Rishonim insist on some form of innovation (Hiddush) to "justify" this voluntary T'fillah (and Rambam differs with them about the ideal extent of this innovation), RABD maintains that no innovation is necessary.

Tosafot (both in Berakhot ibid. and Pesahim ibid.) mentions a third resolution. Sh'mu'el was addressing a situation where the individual knew that he had said the proper T'fillah - but it slipped his mind until he was in the middle of saying a second T'fillah. R. Yohanan, on the other hand, was responding to a case of Safek (doubt). Tosafot rules that a person may not say a T'fillat N'davah, but may only say such an "extra" T'fillah if he is in doubt if he said it at all.



Once we have (according to most Rishonim) found permission for T'fillat N'davah, what are the various limitations placed on this opportunity?

As Rambam points out, there are two (possibly three) limitations which exist vis-a-vis T'fillat N'davah. Rambam (following Rif) attaches the scheme of T'fillat N'davah to the Korbanot, as follows:

  • An individual may offer a Korban N'davah, hence he may say a T'fillat N'davah.

  • He may not, however, offer a Musaf as N'davah - so that particular T'fillah may not be said an extra time.

  • He may also not offer a Korban N'davah on Shabbat or Yom Tov - so (according to some Ge'onim) he may not say T'fillat N'davah on Shabbat or Yom Tov.

  • The community (Tzibbur) may not offer a Korban N'davah - therefore, they may not say a T'fillat N'davah.

We will try to clarify several issues relating to "public" T'fillat N'davah:

  1. Is it really the case that the Tzibbur does not offer a Korban N'davah?

  2. How close should the association be between Korbanot and T'fillah?

  3. Is there any other reason to invalidate a communal T'fillat N'davah - besides the Korban-association?



In the Mishnah (Sh'kalim 4:4), we are introduced to the Kayitz laMizbeach - the "summer-fruits" of the altar:

[Introductory note: Every year, during the few weeks before the beginning of the spring month (Aviv/Nisan), the yearly collection of Sh'kalim was taken for all of those communal offerings and needs associated with the Beit haMikdash. Those coins collected for the year could not be used for any of the next year's needs; hence, the Mishnah addressed the question of what should be done with the leftover coins at the end of Adar]

What would they do with the extra moneys?...R. Akiva says: it would be used for Kayitz laMizbeach - (lit. "summer fruits for the altar"; the implication is something akin to dessert after a meal, i.e. extra offerings at the end of the year of regular offerings.)

Although R. Yishma'el disagrees with R. Akiva (see there), the Halakhah follows R. Akiva, as Rambam rules in MT Sh'kalim 4:9:

The leftover contributions...are used to purchase male animals which are all offered as Olot (burnt offerings)...which are called Kayitz laMizbeach.


Rashi , in his commentary to Vayyikra 1:2 (citing the Rabbinic exegesis in Sifra), notes that the use of the plural Korbanchem (your [plural] offering) in the introductory verse of the voluntary offering refers to the Olat Kayitz laMizbeach.

Ramban (ad loc.) infers from Rashi that the only communal Korban N'davah possible is the Kayitz laMizbeach; that if the community would volunteer any other offering, it would be considered a Korban haShutafin (offering of many individuals), requiring S'mikhah (laying of the hands on the animal prior to slaughtering - which only applies to non-communal offerings). Ramban suggests another, more expanded approach. He raises the possibility that if the community agreed to pool their resources and offer a voluntary offering that it would be considered a proper Korban Tzibbur.This comment will play a role in understanding Ramban's approach to public voluntary T'fillah.

As we have seen, the community certainly does have some form of a voluntary offering; the Gemara (Arakhin 11b) refers to the Kayitz laMizbeach as Olat Nidvat Tzibbur - (a voluntary burnt offering of the Tzibbur). How then can Rambam (and Rif) invalidate public T'fillat N'davah based on the notion that the Tzibbur does not offer a Korban N'davah?




The Gemara (Arakhin 11b) addresses the question of the status of the Olat Nidvat Tzibbur/Kayitz laMizbeach; is it accompanied by the Shirah (singing) of the Levites, following the model of the regular, obligatory Olot (see Bamidbar [Numbers] 10:10). The Gemara ultimately rules that no Shirah accompanies this Korban. Rambam cites this in two places in Mishneh Torah. In Hilkhot T'midin uMusafin (6:8), he rules that:

We do not say Shirah except with Olot of the Tzibbur and their Sh'lamim (fellowship-offerings) which are mandated in the Torah. Olot N'davah which are brought from the leftover fund, even though they belong to the Tzibbur, are not accompanied by Shirah.

Here we see that Rambam distinguishes between the obligatory Olot and those which are not expressly written in the Torah.

We might posit that Rambam feels that those offerings which constitue a "full-fledged" Korban Tzibbur is not only who brings it (community), but what motivates them (obligation). The same failing which prevents Shirah may also prevent the Olat Nidvat Tzibbur from being a proper model for T'fillah. See also Hilkhot K'lei Mikdash 3:2 for a slightly varied formulation.


The Beit Yoseph (commentary to Tur authored by R. Yoseph Karo) - in Orach Hayyim 107, notes that although the Olat Nidvat Tzibbur is theoretically possible, it was not a common occurence (this is an echo of the idea mentioned by RABD in our Halakhah). As such, he feels that this is not a sufficient model for a public T'fillat N'davah.

As opposed to Rambam, the Beit Yoseph apparently feels that there is no inherent significant distinction between an obligatory offering and that which is voluntary. There is good reason for this, since even the individual's Korban N'davah is, by definition, voluntary.

To defend Rambam against this challenge, we might distinguish (noting Rambam's wording in T'midin uMusafin) between those Korbanot which, although voluntary, are sanctioned by the Torah (the first section of Vayyikra specifically deals with Korbanot N'davah) and those which are not mentioned in the Torah at all (except by allusion). This approach may be similar to that suggested by Rabbenu Yonah, below.

Returning to the Beit Yoseph, he may feel that even though there is nothing inherently weak about a "non-mandated" offering, the fact that it was not common indicates that it should not be viewed as a regular part of worship - rather as an anomaly. Curiously, this may also be associated with Rabbenu Yonah's opinion.


Rabbenu Yonah, in his commentary on the RIF in Berakhot (12b), notes that the Olat Kayitz laMizbeach was not brought for "positive" reasons, rather to obviate two potentially negative situations. First of all, the concern that the altar should not "sit empty"; second of all, in order to properly dispense with the extra moneys from the year just completed. That being the case, we could not use this offering as a model for public T'fillah, since it was not brought for its own value, as it were, rather to obviate "external" concerns.


In assessing Rambam's explanation that the Tzibbur cannot say a voluntary T'fillah because there is no public Korban N'davah, we noted that there is, indeed, a public Korban N'davah - the Kayitz laMizbeach. We then cited three approaches in the Rishonim which help distinguish between regular (set/mandated, common) public offerings and the Kayitz laMizbeach, thus defending Rambam's explanation. In addition, we noted that Ramban suggested that there is another possible form of public voluntary offering.



In his glosses on RIF (Berakhot 12b in Rif pages), R. Zerahiah haLevi ("Ba'al haMa'or" - 12th c. Provence) challenges the ruling that the Tzibbur may not say a T'fillat N'davah because of the lack of a corresponding Korban. His challenge is based on the Olat Nidvat Tzibbur (Kayitz laMizbeach) as we mentioned above. Since the Tzibbur does bring this non-mandated offering, he maintains that the Tzibbur can have a complete T'fillat N'davah. Rabbenu Ephraim (a close student of the RIF), cited in the Ramban (Milhamot ad loc.) concurs.


As mentioned above, Ramban disagrees with Rashi's read of the word Korbanchem and maintains that if the community were to decide to bring a voluntary offering exclusive of the leftover fund at the end of the year, this would be valid and would have the full force of a Korban Tzibbur. In his glosses on the RIF ("Milhamot Hashem") in Berakhot (ad loc.), he suggests a third possibility, sort of splitting the difference between RIF/Rambam and Ba'al haMa'or/Rabbenu Ephraim. He raises the proposition that the community may be able to say a T'fillat N'davah, based on the model of the Olat Kayitz laMizbeach, but that since it is a voluntary T'fillah, there would be no Sha"tz sent "down" to lead the communal prayers.

[although we will address this more fully in a later shiur, a brief note about the role of the Shaliach Tzibbur (Sha"tz) is appropriate here. In the times of the Mishnah and Gemara, many people were not able to say a proper T'fillah, nor were there siddurim available. As such, the Rabbis mandated that after the quiet T'fillah, which is the ideal format, a Shaliach Tzibbur (abbreviated Sha"tz) (lit. "agent of the community") would repeat the T'fillah in order to enable those who were unable to say their own T'fillah to follow along and say Amen at the end of each B'rakhah. This format may only take place within the context of a proper quorum. There are many interesting dimensions to the role of the Sha"tz, particularly in our era when siddurim are available - but that will have to wait for our discussion in Chapter 9.]


We have encountered three distinct opinions among the Rishonim regarding the issue of a public voluntary T'fillah:

  1. Rambam/RIF: not at all;

  2. Ba'al haMa'or/Rabbenu Ephraim: it may be held as a proper public T'fillah;

  3. Ramban: the community may say a T'fillat N'davah; however, it remains in the realm of the voluntary and, as such, does not merit/require a Sha"tz and a public repetition.

Ramban and Ba'al haM'aor seem to agree in their basic understanding of the issue and only disagree on the prerequisites for a Sha"tz-repetition.



What is the basis for their disagreement with Rambam/RIF (by the way, the position articulated by Rambam is held by a majority of the Rishonim - see M'orot and Hashlamah on the sugya and Rabbenu Manoach on our Rambam)?

It may be that they disagree about the scope of the correlation between Korbanot and T'fillot: Are T'fillot fundamentally parallel to the regular mandated offerings (Rambam) or to any Olot (Ba'al haMa'or)?

On the other hand, they may disagree about the intensity of the parallel: How tightly must T'fillot correlate to Korbanot? We have some indications from the Halakhah that the two have a strong correlation - and some that they is not so tightly bound together.

The Halakhah regarding the times for T'fillot is directly derived from the time for specific Korbanot. This seems to support a tight correlation. There is, however, no Korban which correlates with 'Arvit, nor is there a corresponding offering to T'fillat N'eilah. In addition, if R. Elazar disagrees with R. Yohanan and disallows a voluntary T'fillah (as many Rishonim understand), then he clearly disassociates T'fillot from Korbanot, since it is abundantly clear that an individual may bring a voluntary offering. These points may demonstrate a weaker link between T'fillot and Korbanot.

It may be that Rambam understands T'fillah as tightly associated with - and based on - the world of Korbanot. As such, there must be a proper Korban "model" for each T'fillah (and 'Arvit and Ne'ilah must have some other source). Ba'al haM'aor may feel that the connection need not be as close and that as long as there is some general model in the world of Korbanot upon which to base this T'fillah, that is sufficient.

To be honest, this is a difficult position to maintain in explaining the Ba'al haMa'or - his entire argument is based on the Kayitz laMizbeach - but it will help us understand the RABD, below. It seems more likely to explain the debate between Rambam and Ba'al haMa'or in terms of T'midim vs. Olot, as above.



As mentioned above, we have a serious challenge to the entire association of T'fillot with Korbanot when we look back at the debate (BT Berakhot 21a) between R. Elazar and R. Yohanan. As many Rishonim understand it, R. Elazar does not allow for a voluntary T'fillah; why would he not do so, if T'fillot are patterned after Korbanot?

An inverted question may be asked on the approach of Rambam in R. Yohanan; once he allows voluntary T'fillah (if we assume that T'fillot are disassociated from Korbanot), why limit it to the individual?

Ra'aviah (#65) and Or Zarua' (#294) provide an explanation which distinguishes between public and personal T'fillah which may help us solve these questions.

Although individual T'fillah is not connected with - nor dependent upon - any type of Korban (and the dispute between R. Elazar and R. Yohanan is purely a T'fillah-issue: Is it appropriate to approach God in a non-mandated form? - see R'ah BT Berakhot 21a), public T'fillah is patterned after the daily T'midin.

[This explanation leaves us with one immediate question - why does the individual have to pattern his T'fillot (esp. the times of those T'fillot) after the Korbanot? We might answer that even if the individual is saying Shacharit alone, he is still associating this with a general public T'fillah. In other words, we might posit that Shacharit (and Minchah and perhaps 'Arvit - certainly Musaf) is fundamentally a public obligation which devolves upon each individual, operating as a member of the community.]

Following Ra'aviah and Or Zarua', we might suggest that although the individual may say an extra T'fillah (according to R. Yohanan), the community may not do so because once they operate as a community, they are parroting an activity in the Beit haMikdash - and, if there is no such activity to parrot, it is an "empty" act. In addition, some Rishonim suggest that adding a public T'fillah may be a (quasi-)violation of "Thou shalt not add..." (Devarim 13:1).



In our Halakhah, RABD challenges Rambam's reasoning - although in the final analysis he agrees with the ruling. To summarize his comment, RABD says that the reason that both Musaf and Shabbat/Yom Tov T'fillot may not be said as N'davah is based on the reasoning behind R. Yohanan's comment. R. Yohanan only intended to allow requests and needs to be expressed to God - and neither Musaf nor Shabbat/Yom Tov T'fillot are fundamentally request-driven.

RABD is silent on the issue of public T'fillat N'davah, so we must assume that he agrees with Rambam and Rif that there is no mandate for it.

This is a bit difficult to understand, and we must address his opinion: If the issues relating to T'fillat N'davah are disassociated from Korbanot, why disallow public T'fillah?

We could utilize the argument raised by Ra'aviah above; but there may be something else implicit in RABD's words which will help us out.

RABD maintains that the only justification for a T'fillat N'davah is request (hence, no Musaf or Shabbat/Yom Tov N'davah). This fits well with his opinion in Halakhah 9, that no innovation is necessary in a T'fillat N'davah - it is the T'fillah itself which is the innovation (as we explained in the last shiur).

When the Tzibbur says an obligatory T'fillah, they are driven by a common motivation - the obligation. This obligation, which devolves equally upon every member of the Tzibbur, is "blind" and does not discriminate between the person who has a great need to call out to God and the relatively insensitive soul. Hence, the community can say T'fillat Shacharit (e.g.) together - they are driven by a common motivation.

On the other hand, there is no way that even two people, much less a quorum, could be driven by the same internal needs which justify T'fillat N'davah. This for two reasons:

  1. By definition, requests are individualized

  2. The tzibbur could not be driven by the same motivation.

There would be a significant difference in practice, depending on which of these explanations we adopt. If there is a public threat (war, epidemic), the second reason may not stand. The community could certainly respond to threatening news with one voice. On the other hand, the actual T'fillah said by each individual would reflect his or her own personal "take" on the situation.

For instance, in the case of war, although we would all be motivated by a concern that God act compassionately and save us from such a horror, some people may be chiefly driven by an idealistic vision of peace, while others may picture children trapped in bombed-out buildings while others may be considering their own relatives in the threatened area.

RABD may hold that a T'fillat N'davah by a Tzibbur is definitionally impossible, due to the individual - hence distinct - orientation and motivation which each member of the Tzibbur brings to such a T'fillah.

now, to the questions:

- Q1: Why should the rules of T'fillat N'davah be so closely aligned with Korban N'davah?
YE Yitz Etshalom (
See the shiur above, particularly the comments of Ra'aviah and Or Zarua'.

- Q2: Why does Rambam rule definitively regarding the community and Musaf - but seems to shy away from such a ruling regarding saying T'fillat N'davah on Shabbat and Yom Tov?
YE: It may be the case that Rambam distinguishes between the type of T'fillah which has no connection with a voluntary act (Tzibbur and Musaf) and the time of that T'fillah. The time does not define the T'fillah nearly as much as the text or communal aspect.

- Q3: Why aren't voluntary offerings brought on Shabbat and Yom Tov?
YE: Every offering involves some level of M'lakhah (creative action) which is prohibited on Shabbat. In those cases where the Torah commands us to bring the offering on Shabbat and/or Yom Tov, we clearly heed this command and "override" the particular instance of M'lakhah. We would not, however, override the prohibition of slaughtering, burning, cooking etc. on Shabbat (nor of S'mikhah on Yom Tov - see the famous debate in the Mishnah Hagigah Ch. 2) for a voluntary offering.

- Q4: What is RABD's position regarding Musaf (he hints to disagreement but doesn't explicate his own position)?
YE: There are two possibilities. On the one hand, RABD clearly and explicitly limits R. Yohanan's Halakhah of "Ideally" (haL'vai) to "requests" and excludes "praise"; so only the weekday T'fillah would be indicated. On the other hand, every Musaf (in our day) is structured around one very basic request - for God to return His Presence to Yerushalayim and to allow/encourage (?) us to rebuild the Beit haMikdash. However, it would seem from RABD's comment that it is chiefly personal requests - which, by nature, may be more or less intense with varying circumstances - which generate and justify a T'fillat N'davah. I would tend to think that RABD would not allow Musaf as a N'davah - but not for the same reason as Rambam (and Rif - see the shiur), as above.

- Q5: How could Rambam (and the unnamed Ga'on) respond to RABD's challenge?
YE: See the shiur above.



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