Friday, December 06, 2013

Ki Shem Hashem Ekra

Yesterday a student told me that she'd noticed for the first time that it says in the siddur (she thought it was unique to the one siddur she's just used and I told her to double check in other siddurim and she did) that at mincha you add this line before Shemoneh Esrei. She asked me between mincha and our class and I printed this out for her to have at the start of class.  She was happy.  I was happy too.  Being asked questions like that can make my day.

by Cantor Sherwood Goffin

I have been asked why “Ki Shem Hashem Ekra” (Devarim 32:3)appears before “Hashem S’fatai Tiftach” at the start of the Amida only for Mincha and Musaf, but is not said for Shacharit or Ma'ariv. The simple answer is that it is because, in Shacharit and Ma'ariv, the blessing of “Gaal Yisrael” is said before the Amida. Since “Ki Shem” is not an integral part of the Amida as “Hashem S’fatai” is, to say “Ki Shem” would be an invalid interruption between “Gaal Yisrael“ and the Amida. However, in Musaf and Mincha, “Gaal Yisrael” is not present (Kaddish is said before the Amida). Therefore it is acceptable to say “Ki Shem” there.
The recitation of “Ki Shem” is found in the Machzor Vitri, the most influential predecessor to our siddur, but not in the siddurim of Rav Amram Gaon or Saadia Gaon. The Rambam omits both “Ki Shem” and“Hashem Sfatai.” Rambam is, however, the Sfardi Minhag, whereas Machzor Vitri is our Ashkenazic precursor, therefore we follow the latter. The words are a meaningful preamble to our tefillot: “When I call out the name of G-d, ascribe greatness to (Him)” – i.e.: acknowledge that His ways are just, His word is true and His prophesies of Redemption will come true. From this the Talmud decides that we should make a blessing before Torah study; the“Rabbosai N’vorech” before Bentching and “Baruch Shem Kavod” to be said after the utterance of G-d’s name in the Holy Temple.


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