Taanit, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five



Our mishnah relates a story in which some people used slightly different liturgy than was dictated in yesterday’s mishnah, and the rabbis objected to this liturgy.


Mishnah Five

1)      It happened in the days of Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hanina ben Tradyon that a man passed before the ark [as shaliah tzibbur] and completed the entire benediction and they did not respond, “amen.” 

a)      [The hazzan called out]:  Sound a tekiah, priests, sound a tekiah.

b)      [The shaliah tzibbur continued]:  He who answered Abraham on Mt. Moriah, He shall answer you and hear the voice of your cry on this day.

c)      Then [the hazzan called out]:  Sound a teru’ah, sons of Aaron, sound a teru’ah.

d)      [The shaliah tzibbur continued]:  He who answered our fathers at the Sea of Reeds, He shall answer you and hear the voice of your cry on this day.

2)      And when the matter came up before the sages, they said:  they only practiced in this way at the eastern gates on the Temple Mount.



Section one: There seem to be several differences between the customs mentioned here and those in the previous mishnah. First of all the people did not answer “Amen.” According to the Talmud they answered “Blessed is the name of His Kingship forever and ever” instead (this is the line we say after the first line of the Shema).  Another difference, according to some commentators, is that they blew the shofar after every benediction, instead of blowing once at the end of the entire Amidah. 

Section two: When the sages heard the report about these practices, they objected.  Note that they didn’t say that this practice was completely illegitimate, just that now that the Temple has been destroyed, our practice has changed slightly.  To me this seems very typical of rabbinic activity—they preserve many earlier practices, but modify them slightly to denote the radical change in the world that occurred during the destruction of the Second Temple.