Tuesday, March 16, 2010

a month of no tachanun -- why?

Those like myself in a perpetual rush to get out the door to work in the morning will enjoy a few moments saved by not having to say tachanun the entire month of Nissan. Why is it that tachanun, tzikascha tzedek, ta’anisim are all cancelled for the entire month? Some poskim make the following calculation: close to two weeks of the month would be exempt from tachanun because of Yom Tov, Chol haMoed, Isru Chag, Shabbos; the inauguration of the Mishkan took place at the beginning of Nissan, so those are days of celebration as well; since the majority of the month is exempt from tachanun, we just knock off tachanun from the end of the month as well.

The Aruch haShulchan, however, offers a different rationale. He writes that the zodiac sign for the month is Aries, the ram, which was worshipped by the Egyptians as a diety. The act of offering a korban Pesach from the very animal worshipped by the Egyptians demonstrated the falseness of their entire belief system. The entire month was thereby transformed from a celebration of idolatry to a celebration of Hashem’s dominion and geulah.

The nafka minah between these two approaches would be whether to skip tachanun during the last days of Tishrei, post- Sukkos. If the reason for skipping tachanun for the entire month is because we already omit tachanun for most of the month anyway, the same logic should apply in Tishrei, with its many Yamim Tovim. But if the reason for skipping tachanun depends on the unique character of Nissan, the same would not apply to any other time period.

As an aside, I’m just wondering about the association of Aries with Egyptian worship. The zodiac signs are based on ancient Greek tradition. Maybe someone with more knowledge of ancient Egypt than I have can shed light on whether these same signs carried significance in ancient Egyptian culture as well.


  1. But Nissan also has the 12 days of Chanukas HaMishkan, so that even according to the former rationale, we should still say tachanun during the last week of Tishrei.

  2. Sukkos is longer than Pesach, then you have R"H, Y"K, isru chag, 3 other Shabbasos, and I'll also throw in the days between Y"K and Sukkos when I don't think anyone says tachanun, and most of Tishrei is covered.

  3. On the other hand, there is a much longer tachanun-free stretch in Nissan - the first 21 days between the Nesiim, erev Yom Tov and Pesach. Tishre, on the other hand, doesn't come in a block - there's tachanun during the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah, Yom Kippur davening is one big tachanun, and the week at the end.

    I have a question on this subject - according to the Mishnah Berurah we don't say tachanun during Nissan. The Artscroll siddur throws in a "Some congregations omit tachanun from the 23rd of Adar" but don't give a source. Any ideas?

  4. Anonymous5:41 PM


    Refers to the Shiva Yemei Miluim. A lot of the Polishe shuls in Toronto stop saying tachanun from 23 of Adar.

  5. Garnel Ironheart6:58 PM

    Okay, that makes sense but if we don't say tachanun the first 12 days of Adar because each day was a YomTov for its respective nasi, what's so special about the shiva yemei miluim? It wasn't a YomTov for anyone, just a practice run.

  6. Not that it makes a difference lema'aseh - but I don't think that the Rishonim mention the "tachanun-free" days of Nisan at all. It seems that this is a later nihug.

  7. I just found your blog and hope I didn't jump into this discussion too late. I wanted to add my 2 cents. When the poskim say that for a majority of the month of Nissan we don't say Tachanun, I think what they mean is that we otherwise wouldn't even start saying Tachanun until a majority of the month has passed (and not that 15+ days were without Tachanun). Hence, the rest of the month is shlepped along. Therefore, this idea doesn't apply to Tishrei at all, when we're saying Tachanun during 10 Yemei Teshuva. The proof for this is that the Chassam Sofer (siman 429) asks why is it that we don't say Tachanun on 13 Nissan. He then offers a few reasons. Nevertheless, if it was simply a numbers thing, whether or not we say Tachanun on the 13th wouldn't make a difference.