- The Song of the Day
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- The Talmud in Rosh Hashanna 31a discusses the reasoning behind
the various songs which were recited each day together with the
afternoon sacrifice. We now recite them each morning at the end
of the morning prayers following Alenu. They are referred to
as the "Song of the Day". It is interesting to note
the Talmud's reasoning for the Song of the Day: Each day's song
correlates to some element which was created on that corresponding
day of the week during God's creation of the world.
- Sunday, we speak of God's complete rulership, as this
was the day in which God brought matter from non existence into
existence. Giving existence to that which did not exist is the
ultimate demonstration of rulership.
- Monday: Manipulation of existing matter shows sovereignty,
or kingship - the theme on Monday - as God divided the upper
and lower waters via the creation of the firmament (atmosphere).
Interesting is that kingship is not dependent on man's existence,
as man was not created until day six, nonetheless, God is referred
to as a "king" on day two.
- Tuesday: In the third day of creation, God made land
appear, and made it inhabitable. We therefore sing the song describing
God as "standing in the congregation of God". Standing
refers to land upon which man requires for standing. That God
stands in the congregation of God teaches that man's existence
finds purpose only when man lives in a congregation of God, that
is, man recognizing God.
- Wednesday: On the fourth day God created the luminaries,
namely the sun. Therefore, the Talmud continues, we describe
God as a vengeful God, Who will exact punishment from those who
worshiped the sun.
- Thursday: On day five, God created birds, among other
things. We therefore read "sing unto God....". The
reason given is that since man is impressed by the various species
of fowl, man is struck with awe and an urge to sing praises to
- Friday: We commence song with "God is robed in
majesty", as on day six, God completed the works of creation
on that day and rules over them.
- Sabbath: We read the "song of Sabbath",
referencing to the ultimate day of rest, the Next World.
- The questions I would like to address are the following:
- Question 1) What are the general concepts described by each
- Question 2) Why are these concepts not in line with physical
creation, but also incorporate concepts like revenge, kingship,
etc., which is additional to creating objects themselves?
- Question 3) What is the concept of referring to creation
on each of the six days of the week, when the Sabbath is already
devoted to commemorating God of creation?
- Question 4) Why not simply recall all seven ideas each and
every day, instead of only one idea per day? Why are we mimicking
creation by having the songs follow a seven day week, and aligning
our days with God's days of creation?
- We must say that the Rabbis deemed it essential that man
have cognizance of God - the Creator - not only on the Sabbath,
but on each day. This is proven by the fact that we recite songs
dealing with elements of creation each day. This idea I believe
is actually borne out of a passage in Genesis, where the Torah
states,"six days you shall do your work and on the seventh
day, rest". If this passage is to teach the command of the
Sabbath, there is no need to make mention of what we should do
on the six other days. Simply telling us to rest on the seventh
day suffices. Since in this passage we do find a discussion
of the other six days in connection with the Sabbath, I conclude
that these 6 other days also partake of the very concept of the
Sabbath. Meaning, we are to be cognizant of God's creation not
only on Shabbos, but on each day of the week, and we are to do
so by recalling some aspect created on that day.
- This could very well be the source for the idea of reciting
songs dealing with creation on a daily basis. It also makes sense
that the main idea man must be mindful of, should not be limited
to only one seventh of his life. Contemplating that God is the
Creator is critical enough that we should ponder it daily. (This
answers "Question 3" above)
- I would answer the remaining 3 questions above as follows:
- Answer 1) Which ideas of creation are so essential for us
to ponder weekly? This is exactly what the Rabbis were discussing
in the Talmud:
- Sunday: The first idea is that God has complete mastery
over the world, to the point, that He can simply will matter
into existence. Correlating to God's act of creating matter from
nothingness. We must recognize God's creation of the world.
- Monday: God's separation of created matter-the firmament.We
must recognize God's role as King.
- Tuesday: God made land appear and made it inhabitable.
We must recognize God's will is for man to exist only in as
much as he partakes of intelligence and learns about the Creator.
- Wednesday: God is vengeful. We must recognize God
desires and dispenses man's justice.
- Thursday: God's created multitudes of species for
man to stand in awe. God gave us the perfect means to achieve
His goal for our contemplation of His wisdom - as it is reflected
in all creation.. Our surroundings are designed to call attention
to the existence of a Creator with magnificent abilities. (Perhaps
birds call our attention to creation more than other species
as they sing beautifully, attracting not only us visually, but
- Friday: Initially I thought this day taught us that
God's completion of creation displays that He did not deviate
from His plan - teaching that God is trustworthy. However, after
discussing this with my friend Jesse Fishbein, she asked that
God being consistent should really be part of God's justice,
as justice by definition means that God is fair to all, which
is based on consistent acts. I agreed. I then realized that what
is left from the central points of creation is that one might
feel that God can create and leave the scene, leaving all creation
Godless. However, this is impossible, as matter cannot exist
of its own, as is proved by the very fact that it was brought
into existence by God. This is an essential point. Matter could
not have been created without God, and requires regular maintenance
of its existence, to continue existing. If God would not will
something to exist, it would cease to be. I believe this to be
the concept of the sixth day. That is, that God completed the
works of creation, but it continues, "and rules over them".
Meaning, He continually supplies all matter with existence. This
is actually a statement in our prayers, "uvi'tuvo michadesh
b'chol yom tamid maseh beraishis", "He renews the works
of creation each day regularly."
- Sabbath: Through the act of "resting" on
God's part, God made a point of teaching us that abstinence from
creation is firstly a positive quality, and secondly, was actually
the goal of creation, as He blessed the Sabbath day, clearly
distinguishing its elevated status. God created physical beings
so they may partake of the highest good, that is the world of
ideas, which like Sabbath, is not limited to the physical. On
the Sabbath absolutely no matter was created, and being blessed
teaches that this is God's desired state for man.
- Answer 2) The physical world is not the goal of creation,
but rather, the goal is man's reflection on ideas. It is for
this reason that the Rabbis aligned each day, not with simple
matter, but with a concept essential to man's existence, thereby
teaching us that we aren't simply praising God for the creation
which would make the physical an ends, but we are praising God
for the higher aspects of creation, the world of ideas.
- Question 4) This question I must think into more.