7. Tehillim prior to Maariv

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“One takes leave of the previous year with Mincha of Erev Rosh Hashanah. One greets the new year with Maariv of the first night of Rosh Hashanah”[1]


7. Tehillim prior to Maariv:[2]

Before Maariv on the eve of Rosh Hashanah one is to read Tehillim. [See Introduction of this chapter] 


 The greatness of Maariv on the night of Rosh Hashanah:[3]

In Kabala it is explained that the life force of the world which derives from the attribute of Malchus is in a state of withdrawal and renewal on the first night of Rosh Hashanah.


The form of Avoda of Maariv on the 1st night:[4]

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah the form of Avoda required from a Jew in his prayer is one of bitterness and broken heartedness over one’s lack of yoke of heaven and lack of faithfulness as a servant of G-d. This is to touch the core of his heart and he is to cry and supplicate before Hashem to accept him as His servant. This is the Avoda of Kabalas Ol Malchus Shamayim which must move his very essence. This Kabalas Ol is accepted above and causes great satisfaction before Hashem, and arouses His will for the Kingship.


The Maariv of the Chassidic Rabbeim:[5]

The Chabad Rabbeim placed much emphasis in the evening prayers of the first night of Rosh Hashanah.[6] The Rebbe Rashab would pray Maariv on the first night of Rosh Hashanah for 3-4 hours.[7] He would Daven singing the Niggun of the Alter Rebbe [for Yamim Noraim] with a heart piercing voice. His prayer was accompanied by waves of tears.[8] A crowd of Anash would gather to hear his prayers.[9] The Rebbe Rayatz would Daven Maariv from the beginning of the night until approximately 12:30 at night.[10] At times the prayer would take five hours.[11] This custom dates back to the Alter Rebbe and was accustomed by all the Chabad Rabbeim.[12]

Alter Rebbe did not speak:[13]

The Alter Rebbe was accustomed not to speak throughout the entire night of Rosh Hashanah.

The Avoda required of the Chassidim:[14]

From the above description of the Rabbeim it is understood that each and every Chassid must also exemplify the above intensity and spiritual investment into his Maariv prayer at least on some level.

Avinu Malkeinu:

The Chabad custom is to sing the Niggun of Avinu Malkeinu prior to the start of Maariv, as well as prior to all the other prayers on Rosh Hashanah.[15] This custom was initiated by the Rebbe.[16] 



[1] Sefer Hasichos 5704, p. 41

[2] Sefer Haminhagim P. 118 [English] from a letter of the Rebbe Rayatz

[3] Tanya p. 121 [Epistle 14]; Likkutei Torah Netzavim p. 106; Sefer Hamamarim 1924 p. 12; Likkutei Sichos 9:220

[4] Sefer Hamamarim 1943 p. 42-43

[5] See Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 72

[6] Sefer Hasichos 1992 p. 13 footnote 19; The main length was in the prayer of Vichein Ten Pachdecha. [Otzer ibid] See Darkei Chaim Veshalom 706 however that states to lengthen in the first three blessings of Shemoneh Esrei.

[7] Likkutei Sippurim p. 201

[8] Sefer Hasichos 1941 p. 27

[9] Hatamim 2 p. 131

[10] Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rayatz 4 p. 7

[11] Igros Kodesh 4 p. 17

[12] See Sefer Hasichos 1992 ibid; Sefer Hasichos 1942 p.2; See Beis Rebbe 1 p. 22 footnote 3; Migdal Oaz p. 93 that the Ragatchover Gaon exclaimed in amazement that the Alter Rebbe, who was a true Gaon and philosopher, lengthened his prayer on the night of Rosh Hashanah. This custom was followed also by the Maggid of Mezritch who would Daven Maariv at night for many hours with much cry accompanied with it.  [Sefer Hasichos 1942 p. 2]

[13] Sefer Hasichos 1941 p. 26-27

[14] Sefer Hasichos 1992 p. 13 footnote 19

[15] Hisvadyos 1984 1 p. 26-27 “The reason for the custom to sing the Niggun of Ainu Malkeinu of the Alter Rebbe prior to each prayer on Rosh Hashanah is in order to mention the merit of our forefathers, the merit of the Alter Rebbe”.

Regarding Maariv: The Rebbe ibid stated in 1984 “Now that we are coming closer to the redemption, in which the Avoda of action is emphasized, there is no place for singing Avinu Malkeinu prior to this prayer being that Avinu Malkeinu is not recited during this prayer. For this reason Avinu Malkeinu was not sung before Maariv.” Nevertheless, there was not one year similar to the next after this Sicha, in some years it was sung before Maariv and in others it was not. In 1992 it was only sung before Maariv on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. [Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 58]

R”H that falls on Shabbos: Based on the Rebbe’s reasoning when the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos one should not sing the Niggun of Avinu Malkeinu prior to the prayers. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[16] Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 58

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