R. DOSA B. HARKINAS RULED: THE PERSON WHO ACTS AS CONGREGATIONAL READER ON [THE FIRST DAY OF] THE FESTIVAL OF THE NEW YEAR SAYS: ‘FORTIFY US, O LORD OUR GOD, ON THIS FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH, WHETHER IT BE TODAY OR TOMORROW’; AND ON THE FOLLOWING DAY HE SAYS: ‘[FORTIFY US ETC.] WHETHER IT BE TODAY OR YESTERDAY’.
THE SAGES, HOWEVER, DID NOT AGREE WITH HIM.
We are dealing, again, with a Diaspora community who could not be certain if the new month of Tishrei had been declared in Jerusalem or not, and so observed two days of Rosh Hashanah. Rabbi Dosa Ben Harkinas suggests acknowledging the uncertainty in the words of prayer. Others disagree.
Then there is the additional problem of reciting the benediction for the day, when it is not certain if the day is sacred or not! The discussion continues to another problem: the benediction of the day – the kiddush – is said over a cup of wine. What do you do on Yom Kippur? You can’t drink the wine, but you can’t say a benediction and then NOT drink the wine!
The Rabbis sent R. Yemar the Elder to R. Hisda on the eve of the New Year. ‘Go,’ they said to him, ‘observe how he acts in practice and come and tell us’. When [R. Hisda] saw him he remarked: ‘He who picks up a moist log desires to have a press on the spot’.
An expression which means – no one does things without a reason. i.e. R. Yemar must be there for some purpose. Now Hisda realizes he’s on the spot:
Thereupon a cup of wine was brought to him [over which] he recited the kiddush and also the benediction on the season. And the law is that the benediction on the season is to be recited both on the New Year festival and the Day of Atonement.