However, I am not so sure that our accepted practice is as the Mishnah Berurah suggests. How then can we justify the accepted practice (to say even “I have dreamt a dream…”)? Perhaps the answer is: “lo plug – that the sages made no differentiation” between the first and second day of yom tov in order not to cause any zilzul (diminution) of the second day’s sanctity (see Betzah 4b).
This is the same logic underlying the recital of “Slach lanu avinu ki chatanu – Forgive us, our father, because we have sinned” on Motza’ei Yom Kippur. Can we possibly have sinned in the short period between the awesome and reverent Ne’ilah prayer and the Shemoneh Esreh of Ma’ariv? We barely had any time to breathe, let alone sin. And yet, we say “Slach lanu avinu ki chatanu” because that is the text of Shemoneh Esreh for Ma’ariv that our sages established for us and we do not deviate from it.
My friend Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Serebryanski of Canarsie, Brooklyn, made a further observation. Prior to Barechu at Ma’ariv we say, “Ve’hu rachum yechaper avon velo yashchit… – May He who is all merciful forgive all iniquity and not destroy…” Again, since we have just concluded Ne’ilah, why are we talking about our sins causing destruction? He explains that since Mashiach did not arrive even after reciting Ne’ilah, we must possess iniquities that portend our destruction. Thus, we commence Ma’ariv with, “Ve’hu rachum.”
However, this explanation leaves us with a difficulty. The Mishnah Berurah obviously knew of the Gemara in Betzah that talks of not diminishing the respect of the second day of yom tov and yet he writes that we should not say the full text of “Ribono shel olam.”
The answer would seem to be the following. There is a fundamental difference between Shemoneh Esreh and the tefillah of “Ribono shel olam.” The former is a communal prayer and its text reads accordingly (for example, “Elokeinu v’Elokei avoteinu – Our G-d and the G-d of our fathers”). The latter prayer, however, is personal and reads accordingly as well (for example, “Chalom chalamti – I dreamt a dream”). That is why perhaps the Mishnah Berurah writes that one should not say “I dreamt a dream” in the “Ribono shel olam” prayer if it is plainly untrue. Rather, one should start from the more generic, general section of the prayer that starts with “Yehi ratzon.”
(To be continued)
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.