Tefillat Mussaf

  • Deracheha Staff; Laurie Novick, Director
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Dedicated by Mr. and Mrs. Leon Brum for the Refua Sheleima of
Dana Petrover (Batsheva bat Gittel Aidel Leba)
and Marvin Rosenberg (Meir Chaim ben Tzipporah Miriam)
What is the nature of the mussaf offering? How is it related to the mussaf Prayer? Are Women obligated to pray tefillat mussaf?

Korban Mussaf

To understand tefillat mussaf, we need first to discuss the korban mussaf, additional sacrifice. A korban mussaf was offered in the Temple on days with special sanctity: Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, festivals and Yamim Nora'im, in addition to the twice-daily korban tamid.[1] Both korban mussaf and korban tamid consist of animal sacrifices, accompanied by a meal offering and a wine libation.
The mussaf offerings feature some interesting patterns. Shabbat's additional sacrifice is simply a doubling of the korban tamid, perhaps representing the double portion of manna that fell on Friday, to serve for Shabbat.
In Tishrei, on Rosh Ha-Shana, Yom Kippur, and Shemini Atzeret, the korban mussaf includes one bull, one ram, and seven sheep. The korban mussaf of Pesach, Shavuot, and Rosh Chodesh adds a bull to that pattern. Sukkot's korban mussaf is a combination of these two models -- double the rams, double the sheep, and multiple bulls -- possibly because Sukkot is simultaneously part of the Tishrei season of “the turn of the year” and of the trio of pilgrimage festivals.[2]
Every korban mussaf except for Shabbat's also includes a se'ir, a he-goat. The Mishna teaches that these goats serve as a sin offering. What transgressions do they atone for? A person who is tamei, ritually impure, may not enter the Temple or eat kodshim, consecrated items. The goat of the korban mussaf atones for unwitting violations of these prohibitions.
Mishna Shevuot 1:4
…They [the goats] all come to atone for impurity of the Temple and its consecrated items
Even when it is certain that no such transgressions have taken place, korban mussaf includes the goat. In other words, the goat is not solely a means of atonement for these transgressions. It is also a reflection of the day's special sanctity, kedushat ha-yom.[3]

A Communal Offering

The korban mussaf is a communal sacrifice. The obligation to offer the korban mussaf falls on the Jewish community as a whole, though the kohanim have direct responsibility for it.
Sefer Ha-chinuch 401
This mitzva is practiced in Temple times, and it is among the mitzvot that are incumbent upon the community, and especially upon the kohanim
Sefer Ha-chinuch seemingly includes women in this obligation, as part of the community.[4]
To whom does a communal offering such as korban mussaf belong? We might consider it to be co-owned by all the contributors of the half shekel, or as belonging to the entire Jewish community.
I. The Half-Shekel Contributors' Half-shekel funds collected annually from the community pay for communal offerings such as the korban mussaf. The Torah obligates only those counted in the military census, i.e. men over the age of twenty, to contribute the half shekel:
Shemot 30:13
This they shall give, all who pass through the conscription, half a shekel of the sacred shekel, the shekel is 20 gera [both “shekel” and “gera” are units of weight], half a shekel [as] a gift to God
Although women are exempt from contributing to the half-shekel collection, the option of participating remains open to women:
Mishna Shekalim 1:5
Even though they said we do not seize property [in order to ensure payment of the half shekel] from women…If they donated the half shekel, we accept it from them
In his comments on a mishna, Rashi writes that specifically those who contribute to a Temple offering via the half shekel own a portion of it:[5]
Mishna Shekalim 1:4
And the omer and the two loaves [on Shavuot] and the showbread are ours.
Rashi Arachin 4a s.v. shelanu
…If we donate the half shekel to the treasury, the omer offering and the two loaves and the showbread become ours.
According to this opinion, only women who have voluntarily contributed a half shekel would have a portion in korban mussaf. We should note, however, that in that same mishna Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai rejects this model of ownership.[6]
II. The Entire Community's In contrast with Rashi's comment, Ramban distinguishes between voluntary offerings of the community funded by the half shekel and voluntary offerings brought by partners.
Ramban Vayikra 1:2
…For if many people volunteer to bring a burnt offering, it is the burnt offering of partners, what difference is there between two partners in a sacrifice and ten or a thousand who take part in it?…But [a voluntary offering] that comes from the leftovers [of the half-shekel collection]…is a burnt offering of the community. In his [Rashi's] opinion, every burnt offering brought by many, aside from [one that comes from the half-shekel collection's] leftovers, its law is like the law of a burnt offering owned by partners…
To Ramban, the community represented by the half-shekel offering is more than the group of individuals who actually contribute a half-shekel. Community here is its own entity, greater than the sum of its parts. A sacrifice bought from half-shekel funds belongs fully to all of the Jewish people.[7]
According to this view, a woman is part of the community that owns korban mussaf, whether or not she personally donates a half shekel.
With this background information about korban mussaf in place, we can now turn our attention to tefillat mussaf.

Tefillat Mussaf and Korban Mussaf

We recite tefillat mussaf on days on which the korban mussaf (additional sacrificial offering) was offered. Anshei Kenesset Ha-gedola (the men of the Great Assembly) enacted tefillat mussaf to correspond to the sacrifice,[8] and in Temple times, tefillat mussaf was actually recited following the offering of korban mussaf, just as shacharit was recited right after offering the morning korban tamid.
Sukka 53a
Rabbi Yehoshua son of Chananya said: When we were rejoicing at the festival of the water drawing [on Sukkot], our eyes saw no sleep. How? The first hour, the morning tamid, from there to tefilla[t shacharit], from there to korban mussaf, from there to tefillat mussaf, from there to the house of study, from there to eating and drinking, from there to tefillat mincha
The timeframe for bringing the sacrifice forms the basis for the timing of the tefilla to this day. Mussaf should ideally be recited prior to the end of the seventh halachic hour, which is when the sacrifice was usually brought, but the prayer (like the sacrifice) remains valid any time before halachic sunset.[9]
Structure and Rachmi
Like other tefillot (i.e., shacharit, mincha, and ma'ariv) of Shabbat and holidays, Tefilat mussaf includes one central blessing of kedushat ha-yom.
Tosefta Berachot 3:10, 12
And in mussaf one prays seven [blessings] and says kedushat ha-yom in the middle…On Shabbat and Yom Tov and Yom Kippur [shacharit, mincha, and ma'ariv] one prays seven [blessings] and says kedushat ha-yom in the middle…
Unlike other Shabbat and holiday prayers, however, the central blessing of tefillat ha-mussaf always includes a description of the day's korban mussaf.
This seven-beracha structure, tefillat sheva, is distinct from the nineteen berachot of the daily shemoneh esrei, in which the central thirteen berachot express supplications for Divine mercy, rachmi.
Rosh makes two important observations that mitigate the difference between the beracha of kedushat ha-yom and the thirteen supplicatory berachot of the weekday shemoneh esrei.
First, he contends that most tefillot of Shabbat and festivals really ought to include all the supplicatory berachot of a weekday. Although our sages shortened the prayers to make them less burdensome and out of respect for the honor of Shabbat,[10] they remain prayers of rachmi. Second, he suggests that the mussaf prayers of Rosh Chodesh and chol ha-mo’ed may once have included the full set of berachot of rachmi.
Rosh Berachot 3:17
For the fundamental halacha would be that one needs to pray shemoneh esrei [with all supplications on Shabbat] and out of honor for Shabbat our sages did not burden them [the people]….For in mussaf of Rosh Chodesh and chol ha-mo'ed they would pray eighteen blessings, and it would have been fitting to do so on Shabbat and Yom Tov, but they were lenient with tefillat mussaf [to shorten it], as they were lenient with other prayers [of Shabbat]
Rosh's suggestions lay open the possibility that tefillat sheva, even of mussaf, retains the character of prayer as rachmi.
Tosafot, however, maintain that tefillat mussaf was established only as a way of making up for the lack of opportunity to bring the korban mussaf, and that it is thus unlike prayers of rachmi.[11]
Tosafot Berachot 26a
They only established the seven blessings of mussaf because of "And we shall make up for the bulls [of sacrifice] with our lips [in prayer]" (Hoshea 14:3)…But the rest of the tefillot are of rachmi
Both of Tosafot's claims are subject to challenge. If tefillat mussaf was merely a replacement for korban mussaf, why was it recited in Temple times, when the sacrifice was offered?[12] What makes Tosafot certain that kedushat ha-yom, which includes prayers for redemption and the renewal of the sacrifices, is not a beracha of rachmi?

Women Reciting Mussaf

Some halachic authorities derive an exemption for women from tefillat mussaf from the close connection between the tefilla and the sacrifice. One school of thought bases its arguments more on the sacrifice, the other more on the nature of the tefilla.
I. Exemption because of the Sacrifice Rabbi Akiva Eiger argues that women are exempt from reciting mussaf because of women's exemption from contributing the half shekel. [13]
Responsa Rabbi Akiva Eiger 9
…For prima facie it would seem that women are exempt from tefillat mussaf. Since women did not donate the half shekel, they have no portion in the communal offerings.
Rav Eiger assumes that korban mussaf belongs specifically to contributors of the half shekel and that obligation in tefilat mussaf depends on having a portion in korban mussaf.
But according to the view that korban mussaf belongs to the entire community, women would have a portion in it. If we follow that approach, a particular person’s obligation to donate a half shekel does not determine their obligation in tefillat mussaf.
Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank Mikra’ei Kodesh Purim 10
For the obligation of tefilat mussaf does not depend on obligation in the mitzva of giving the half shekel, but on the sacrifice's atonement.
According to Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, anyone who receives atonement through korban mussaf is also obligated in tefilat mussaf. Rav Yechiel Heller (nineteenth century, Lithuania) articulates how this would include women.[14]
Responsa Amudei Or 7
For even though women did not donate the half shekel, in any case they too received atonement through the communal offerings...for how many atonements were dependent on the communal offerings. Should we think women were not atoned for at all?
Alternatively, we can see both the mussaf sacrifice and the tefilla essentially as expressions of kedushat ha-yom. In that case, Rav Shaul Nathansohn argues, women may be obligated to recite mussaf because it expresses kedushat ha-yom, just as women are obligated to recite kiddush, which does so as well.
Sho'el U-meishiv Second edition II:55
…Also with respect to mussaf [women are obligated] since it comes as a commemoration of the sacrifice that they offered on account of the sanctity of the day, and women are obligated on a Torah level in sanctifying the day [of Shabbat]…
II. Exemption because of the Tefilla The Talmud teaches that women have an obligation in daily prayer because of the importance of every person seeking rachmi, God's mercy.
Berachot 20b
[Mishna:] And they [women] are obligated in prayer: [Gemara:] For it is rachmi.
Building on the position of Tosafot that we saw above, that tefillat mussaf is not rachmi, Tzelach argues that women are exempt from reciting it:
Tzelach Berachot 26a s.v. U-midivrei
For I am unsure whether tefillat mussaf applies to women, for it is a time-bound mitzva…Certainly women are exempt according to the view of the Tosafot [that tefillat mussaf isn’t rachmi].
Halachic authorities present three different grounds for rejecting this argument for exemption, on three different grounds. One, Rav Betzalel Zolty argues that mussaf is like other prayers, so women are obligated.
Mishnat Ya'avetz Hilchot Rosh Chodesh 4
…For even in the time when they would offer korban mussaf, they would pray tefillat mussaf, i.e., its fundamental obligation is…the [standard] obligation of prayer. And if so, it is clear that women too are obligated in tefilat mussaf, since they are obligated in prayer…
Two, Magen Gibborim claims that since teflilat mussaf on Rosh Chodesh and chol ha-mo'ed may have once included the full set of supplicatory blessings, tefillat ha-mussaf is rachmi.
Magen Gibborim Elef Gibborim 2, 106:4
…Since they would pray even at mussaf eighteen berachot…Then, at that time, it was a full obligation [for women] since they [the mussaf blessings] were rachmi, and why would their obligation cease?
Finally, Rav Soloveitchik argues that tefillat mussaf is rachmi based on its content.
Rav Yosef D. Soloveitchik, Ra'ayonot al Hatefilla, Areshet 5 5745
In tefillat mussaf, the soul pours itself out over the exile of Israel from its land and beseeches God for a speedy redemption. Mute sorrow is poured over the frame of the prayer “and because of our sins.”
Furthermore, Rav Soloveitchik explains, tefilat mussaf sets the stage for the Divine judgment unique to each sacred day. In the face of judgment, we seek mercy
Rav Yosef D. Soloveitchik, Reshimot Shiurim Berachot 26a p. 339-340
But in truth it seems that even though the obligator of tefillat mussaf takes effect through “we shall make up for bulls with our lips,” in any event in tefillat mussaf there is also a fulfillment of rachmi. Perhaps according to this even women are obligated in tefillat mussaf, for it is the time to pray that the judgment will emerge for good.
Even those who would otherwise exempt women from tefillat mussaf make an exception for the Yamim Nora'im. Rav Shimon Sofer (19th century, Chatam Sofer's grandson) writes that on Rosh Ha-shana, when the connection to rachmi in mussaf is very strong, there is even greater reason to consider it obligatory for women.[15]
Hit'orerut Teshuva 3:66
But tefillat mussaf of Rosh Hashana, which is rachmi, it is clear that they [women] are obligated.
We can extend this logic to Yom Kippur as well.[16]

In Practice

Mishna Berura mentions both positions, to exempt and to obligate. He does not rule decisively either way.
Mishna Berura 106:4
And tefillat mussaf, in the Tzelach he wrote that [women] are exempt but in Magen Gibborim he ruled that they are obligated, see there.
In light of the strong arguments and counter-arguments, women's obligation in tefillat mussaf remains a matter of debate.
Rav Eliezer Melamed argues that this debate creates a situation of doubt. Since the doubt concerns a matter of rabbinic law and not Torah law, there is room to allow women not to say mussaf.[17]
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Peninei Halakha, Laws of Women’s Prayer 2:9
In practice, because this is a rabbinic mitzva, the halakha follows the lenient opinion, and women are not obligated to pray Musaf, although one who wishes to may do so and it is to her credit.
On the other hand, even if we maintain that women are exempt from mussaf, a woman may recite it voluntarily. Rav Ovadya Yosef generally rules that women should not recite berachot over voluntary mitzva performance. Therefore, he initially wrote that a woman should hear mussaf in synagogue and not recite it on her own, since her recitation would be voluntary and include berachot.[18] Later on, though, he changed his mind and permitted all women to recite tefillat mussaf, perhaps because the berachot of mussaf do not include the phrase "ve-tzivanu" "and He commanded us."
Chazon Ovadya Shabbat 2 p. 204
Women, too, are permitted to pray tefillat mussaf on Shabbat…For women who are moved in wisdom and desire to pray must also pray tefillat mussaf.
Shevet Halevi notes that when a woman prays mussaf, it is not considered a mere tefillat nedava, or voluntary prayer. Rather, her prayer is a full-fledged tefillat mussaf.
Shevet Ha-levi 4:12
…They [women] pray mussaf like one who is obligated to pray, for they did not accept it upon themselves as a voluntary prayer but accepted it upon themselves as an obligation, and they pray on that level.
Many women do regularly recite mussaf,[19] and that custom can itself be binding.[20] Given this fact, that women might be obligated, and that voluntary recitation is fully permissible, women who pray regularly should make an effort to recite tefillat mussaf, keeping in mind the atonement of the sacrifice, the sanctity of the day, and longing at all times for rachmi.
Why is the matter of women reciting mussaf often treated as a matter of doubt?
The question of women's obligation in tefillat mussaf is a machloket, debate. Typically, when there is machloket as to whether someone is obligated in a mitzva, halachic authorities urge them to perform it, unless there is a clear reason not to.
Yet here, many halachic authorities present the matter as an open question, without making a clear recommendation—as a doubt and not a debate. This leaves the impression that tefillat mussaf is not considered obligatory for women.
Why the hesitation to make a more decisive ruling?
One possible contributing factor is that many women over the ages were illiterate or did not recite formal prayers at all, so that this question was not practically relevant for them.
Of the women who were literate and regularly recited formal prayers, many did have the custom to recite tefillat mussaf, and did not question it.
In general, throughout our series on tefilla, we have seen that the custom of many devout women not to recite the full complement of prayers has led to a hesitation to issue rulings that would leave those women on the wrong side of Halacha.
Clarifying the Halacha here has practical consequences. Halachic obligation would mean that women would have full access to heavenly reward and punishment for reciting tefillat mussaf. It would also determine that tefillat mussaf be given priority over certain customs, such as reciting Hallel on Rosh Chodesh, if time is short. A woman obligated in mussaf would make every effort not to miss reciting it.
Nowadays, when women are literate and many lack a clear custom in any direction, the desire not to pressure women can lead to the misimpression that Halacha has little to say on the matter or that there are no voices obligating women in mussaf. It is important for women to know that there are halachic authorities who maintain that women are obligated to recite it.
Further Reading
1. Rav David Auerbach, Halichot Beitah 6:6
3. Rav Haim Navon, "Woman’s Obligation to Recite the Musaf Prayer." VBM shiur, available here https://www.etzion.org.il/en/shiur-05-womans-obligation-recite-musaf-prayer

[1] Bemidbar, Chapters 28-29.
[2] For a more detailed discussion of these patterns, see Prof. Yonatan Grossman, "The Mussaf Sacrifices." Available here: https://www.etzion.org.il/en/mussaf-sacrifices
[3] Shiurei Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Horayot p. 207
It seems that the goats of Rosh Chodesh are first of all sacrifices that come because of the sanctity of the day…even if we know with certainty that in the course of the month there arose no doubt regarding impurity of the Temple and its consecrated items, we still are obligated to bring the goat of the sin offering on Rosh Chodesh.
[4] The Talmud in Zevachim 85a refers to men as forming a tzibbur (community) for the purpose of korbanot, but that does not exclude the possibility of women being part of such a tzibbur.
The Steipler (Kehilot Ya’akov) writes that women may be exempt from bringing korbanot because sacrifices are not brought during the night, and thus are positive time-bound mitzvot, not because women aren't counted in a tzibbur. Rav Menashe Klein (Mishneh Halachot) maintains that women are not exempt from positive time-bound commandments incumbent on the tzibbur.
Kehilot Yaakov Zevachim 4
But regarding women, one can well say that just as they are exempt from shekalim, they are similarly exempt from the primary mitzva of sacrificing the tamid and mussaf, for every communal offering is a positive time-bound commandment.
Responsa Mishneh Halachot 6:326
It makes sense to say specifically for a mitzva that is incumbent on each individual we say that women are exempt from positive time-bound mitzvot, but for a positive mitzva of the community, even if it is time-bound, women are also obligated unless there is an explicit teaching to exempt.
[5] Kohanim sought an exemption from the half shekel on the basis of this approach. A kohen's meal offering must be fully burnt. If the kohanim were to become co-owners in communal offerings such as the showbread, how could the mitzva to eat those offerings be reconciled with the requirement to burn offerings of a kohen? The response is that the command to burn their offerings was limited to individual offerings and did not extend to communal offerings.
Mishna Shekalim 1:4
Rabbi Yehuda said: Ben Buchri testified in Yavneh that a kohen who donates the half shekel is not a sinner. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai said to him: No, rather any kohen who does not donate the half shekel is a sinner. But the kohanim expounded this verse for their own [benefit], (Vayikra 6) "Every meal offering of a kohen shall be fully [burnt], it may not be eaten." Since the omer and the two loaves and the showbread would be ours [if we gave the half shekel], how could they be eaten [as commanded]?
[6] Ibid.
[7] See further that we are not concerned lest members of the community that gave the half shekel died before the communal sacrifice was brought. Whereas we would be concerned in the case of partners bringing a sacrifice.
Temura 15b
For God said [in the Torah] bring them [Rosh Chodesh and festival offerings] from the monies collected from the half shekel. And [should we be concerned] perhaps the owners of these monies died [people die every day and the collection is annual]? But no. We learn from this that the tzibbur do not die.
[8]  Berachot 26b
The forefathers enacted the prayers, and our rabbis connected them to sacrifices.
[9] Shulchan Aruch OC 286:1
The time of tefillat mussaf is right after shacharit. And one should not delay it past the end of the seventh halachic hour. But if he prayed it after the seventh hour, he is called negligent but even so has discharged his obligation, since its time is all day long.
[10] Vayikra Rabba 34
"From seeking your desires and speaking matters [of weekdays]" Yeshayahu 58:13, from here we learn that it is prohibited for a person to appeal [to God] for his [personal] desires on Shabbat.
 [11] Rabbeinu Yona refers to tefillot with only seven berachot as prayers only of shevach, praise, as opposed to rachmi:
Rabeinu Yona Berachot 13a
The other prayers [aside from shemoneh esrei], of seven berachot, have only praise [not rachmi]
See also Rosh Berachot 4.
[12] One possibility is that it was instituted after the destruction of the First Temple (when Anshei Kenesset Ha-gedola were composing prayers), and then maintained during the Second Temple period.
[13] This argument might extend to kohanim, levi'im, and men under the age of twenty as well. See http://etzion.gush.net/shvut/099/99bick.html
[14] Available here: http://olamot.net/sites/default/files/pdfimages/13_08.png See there also Kehillot Yaakov, Zevachim 4, who concedes this point.
[15] Available here: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1770&st=&pgnum=263
[16] Rav David Auerbach, Halichot Beitah 6:3:7
In tefillat mussaf of Rosh Ha-shana and so, too, in tefillat ha-mussaf and ne'ila of Yom Kippur, women are obligated…
[17] Available here: https://ph.yhb.org.il/03-02-09/
[18] Responsa Yabi'a Omer II, OC 6
Women should not recite berachot when they are exempt…therefore it is fitting that women should come to synagogue and hear tefillat mussaf from the shaliach tzibur and discharge their obligation according to all opinions, and at least should not pray tefillat mussaf on their own.
[19] Kaf Ha-Chayyim 286:7
Thus is the custom: that women pray mussaf like they pray shacharit.
Besamim Rosh 89
They already became accustomed to pray everything and obligated themselves in all the mitzvot.
[20] See our discussion of obligation deriving from custom here.