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 God.
  • 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 daily song?
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 audibly.)
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.