Birkat Hashkivainu for Yom Yerushalayim by Rabbi Chaim Jachter



On Shabbat and Yom Tov we recite a special conclusion to the Beracha of Hashkivainu.  Instead of the usual “Shomer Amo Yisrael Laad,” we recite “Haporais Sukkat Shalom Alainu V’al Kol Amo Yisrael V'al Yerushalayim.”  In a responsum to Dr. Joel Wolowelsky of the Yeshiva of Flatbush (published in the ninth volume of the Israeli Torah journal Techumin), Rav Shlomo Goren rules that the special conclusion to Birkat Hashkivainu should be recited on Yom Yerushalayim.  Rav Goren’s approach has not been implemented in almost all circles (even among the most fervent Religious Zionists).  In this essay we will present Rav Shlomo Goren’s reasoning, and why his ruling has not been accepted.

Gemara, Rishonim, and Shulchan Aruch

The Talmud Bavli does not record that a different conclusion to the Beracha of Hashkivainu should be recited on Shabbat and Yom Tov.  The Rambam also does not mention such a change.  In fact, the Tur (Orach Chaim 267) notes that it is not the universally accepted practice to recite “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” on Shabbat and Yom Tov.  The Tur notes that the practice among French and German Jewry is to make the change, but Spanish Jews do not make the change.  The Tur, however, vigorously supports the practice to make the change and this has emerged as the accepted practice.  Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 267:2) codifies without dissent the practice to recite “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” on Shabbat.  None of the commentaries to the Shulchan Aruch express dissent to this ruling.

Reasons for the Change - Tur and Kol Bo

The Tur presents a number of reasons for this change.  One reason is that since Shabbat acts as a Shemira for us, we need not beseech Hashem, “U’shmor Tzaitainu U’voainu,” to watch us.  The Tur also records that the Talmud Bavli states that the conclusion of Shomer Amo Yisrael is reserved for weekday use and is not recited on Shabbat (see Yerushalmi Berachot 4:5 and Midrash Tehillim 6:1).  In addition, the Tur records the practice to recite the Pesukim of “Veshamru Bnai Yisrael Et Hashabbat…” after concluding “Haporais Sukkat Shalom.”  This practice, explains the Tur, is based on the Gemara (Shabbat 118b) that states that when the Jewish People will observe two Shabbatot properly, the Messiah will arrive immediately.  The Tur states that this idea relates to “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” because Haporais also celebrates the future “Geula,” redemption.

The Kol Bo presents another reason for the change.  He explains that during the week we pray for Shemira, protection, because of our travel to work.  On Shabbat and Yom Tov, however there is no need to make this request, since we do not travel and do not require the same level of protection as we do during the week.

Rav Goren’s Responsum

Rav Goren cites the Pri Megadim who explains the practice of reciting Pesukim between Hashkivainu and Kaddish on the various Yamim Tovim.  The Pri Megadim explains that each selection relates in some way to the future Geula.  Rav Goren concludes that the Tur and Pri Megadim regard “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” as a Beracha recited in anticipation of the future Geula.  This is why this special Beracha is followed by Pesukim which herald the future redemption.

Rav Goren argues that since Yom Yerushalayim (and even Yom Haatzmaut) celebrates (in his view) the beginning of the Redemption, “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” should be recited.  Rav Goren cites commentaries to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 561 as a proof that both Yom Yerushalayim and Yom Haatzmaut represent the beginning of the Redemption.  The Shulchan Aruch codifies the Talmudic ruling that one should rend his garments (perform Kriah) upon seeing “the cities of Judea in ruin.”  The Beit Yosef, Magen Avraham, Bach, Taz, and Mishna Berura all rule that one must perform Kriah if non-Jews rule these cities, even if Jews reside in them.  These authorities note, however, that one does not tear Kriah upon seeing these cities if Jews control them, even if non-Jews reside in these cities.  Accordingly, Rav Zevin rules (Moadim B’halacha p.371) that one need not perform Kriah on those Judean cities that are under the sovereign control of Medinat Yisrael.

Rav Goren concludes from this Halacha that Jewish sovereign control over sections of Eretz Yisrael represents Geula and should be celebrated as such.  Accordingly, Rav Goren argues, the Beracha of Geula (“Haporais Sukkat Shalom”) should be recited on holidays of Geula (i.e. Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim).

Criticism of Rav Goren

There are many reasons why almost all Jews have not accepted this responsum of Rav Goren.  First, Rav Goren’s ruling is based on only one of many reasons for why the Beracha of “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” is recited on Shabbat and Yom Tov.  Rav Goren’s ruling is not compatible with the other explanations of this practice.  For example, we mentioned that the Kol Bo explains that “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” is recited due to the fact that we do not work on Shabbat and Yom Tov.  This reason is certainly not relevant to Yom Yerushalayim.

Indeed, Rav Uri Dasberg (the editor of Techumin) notes that we do not recite “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” on Chanuka even though an aspect of our Chanuka celebration is the restoration of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael.

The Rambam (Hilchot Chanukah 3:1) notes that on Chanuka we thank Hashem for restoring Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael for more than two hundred years.  This citation from the Rambam is often cited as a highly significant precedent for the celebration of Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim.  Hence, one may conclude from the fact that we do not recite “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” on Chanuka, that we should not recite “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” on Yom Yerushalayim.

Moreover, the practice of reciting “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” is not firmly rooted in all of our classic sources.  We noted that this Beracha is not mentioned either in the Talmud Bavli or the Rambam, and that as late as the era of the Tur, it was not universally accepted to recite this Beracha.  Accordingly, one might argue that we should not expand upon our somewhat questionable practice to recite “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

A more fundamental issue needs to be addressed.  Rav Goren believes that Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim celebrate Geula and that restoration of Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim constitute Geula.  However, one may celebrate these holidays even if one does not associate these days with Geula.  For example, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik served as the Honorary Chairman of the American Religious Zionist movement for many years until his death.  Yet, it seems that Rav Soloveitchik did not view Medinat Yisrael as a manifestation of Geula (carefully examine his essay Kol Dodi Dofek).  Thus, one may be an enthusiastic supporter of Medinat Yisrael without subscribing to the belief that Medinat Yisrael represents the beginning of the Geula.  According to this approach, there is no reason to recite “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” on Yom Yerushalayim since the celebration is not because of Geula.


Rav Goren’s responsum regarding “Haporais Sukkat Shalom” appears less than convincing and therefore has not been widely accepted.  In this context, it is worthwhile to quote Rav Michael Rosensweig (a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University) who stated that it is improper to gauge the depth of one’s commitment to Medinat Yisrael by the way he observes Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim.  One might follow the opinion that forbids reciting Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim and still be passionately committed to supporting Medinat Yisrael.  Similarly, one might recite “Shomer Amo Yisrael” on Yom Yerushalayim and still be profoundly grateful to Hashem for granting the Jewish People sovereignty over Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh.


Last year a number Torah Academy students asked whether one must perform Kriah when seeing the Judean cities that now have been, sadly, transferred to Arab control, such as Beit Lechem and portions of Hebron.  This question, in turn, was posed to two Halachic authorities, Rav Hershel Schachter and Rav Yehuda Henkin.  Rav Hershel Schachter responded that one should perform Kriah over these cities as they are considered B’churbanan now that they not under Jewish sovereignty.  Rav Yehuda Henkin, on the other hand, replied that one should not currently perform Kriah.  Rav Henkin reasons that since most do not perform Kriah upon seeing Yerushalayim because it is under Jewish control, we should not perform Kriah for Judean cities under Arab control.  Rav Henkin argues that since the obligation to perform Kriah for destroyed Judean cities stems from the obligation to perform Kriah upon seeing a destroyed Yerushalayim, it is not appropriate to perform Kriah on destroyed Judean cities since (with Hashem’s continuous help) we control Yerushalayim.

Incidentally there was some debate whether one should perform Kriah when one saw Hebron before 1967, as it is one of the Arei Miklat (cities of refuge - see Joshua 20:7).  Some sought to argue that since Chevron is defined as a Levite city and not a Judean city, it is not included in the obligation to tear Kriah upon seeing a Judean city in ruin.  For discussion of this issue, see Shaarei Teshuva to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 561 and Rav Hershel Schachter’s B’ikvai Hatzon pp. 105-106.

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