“In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), the sages note that the world stands on three things: Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Chasadim (acts of kindness).” The term “avodah” is associated with prayer and with the sacrificial service in the Temple, both important parts of Jewish life since the days of Abraham. 

The sages relate that the three services of the day (shacharit/morning, mincha/afternoon, and maariv/night) are connected, respectively, to the three patriarchs. Given that assertion, one who is familiar with a traditional Shabbat service might then ask, but what about Musaf?

Musaf, which translates as additional, is the name of the prayer service that follows the reading of the Torah and the haftarah on Shabbat, as well as on Festivals and on Rosh Chodesh (celebration of the new month). It is primarily an additional Amidah, the silent standing prayer that is recited. Included in the Musaf service are references to the additional (musaf) sacrifices that were brought in the Temple on these special days.

In the days of the Holy Temple (and, prior to that, the Tabernacle in the Wilderness),the Musaf offering consisted of two male lambs. Because there is no longer a Temple for worship, the additional Shabbat offering was transformed into a prayer. Thus, the main body of the Amidah recited in the Shabbat Musaf also includes a prayer for a return to Israel where the sacrifices will once again be offered, the recitation of Numbers 28:9-10 (“On the Sabbath day, two first year lambs, unblemished…”) and a prayer for the Jewish people to be able to fully rejoice on Shabbat.

Related Treats:
Sacrifice and Innocence

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