This letter was addressed to R. Efraim Eliezer HaKohen Yallis, a leading Rabbi from Philadelphia.

B”H, the 7th day of the Ten Days of Teshuvah, 5708

Greetings and blessings,

During these days, I would like to extend my wishes for a chasimah and a gmar chasimah tovah, for you and for your entire household.

With regard to a concept pertinent to these days, Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Kiddush HaChodesh 7:7) writes:

Why isn’t [Rosh HaShanah] established on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, according to this reckoning? Because these calculations... do not necessarily reflect the true position of the sun.... Therefore, they instituted that on one day [Rosh HaShanah] would be established and on one day it would not.

As [Raavad] questions, what is the fault of Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday that Rosh HaShanah is never established on them? And what is the merit of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Shabbos,[that they were chosen for commemoration of the holiday]?1

It is possible to explain that the first day of Rosh HaShanah, which is Rosh Chodesh Tishrei, is a day of severe judgment. Therefore it was postponed so that it would not fall on Sunday, the first of the Seven Days of Creation, which is identified with the Sefirah of Chessed, nor on Wednesday, which is identified with the attribute of Netzach that is also from the right vector.

Since it is impossible to have two days of postponement following each other, the only day possible for the third day of postponement was Friday. [Moreover,] it appears more logical to me [to say that] Friday is excluded because [the quality of] Yesod identified with Friday sweetens the quality of severity. An allusion to this is found in our Sages’ statement (Pesachim 54a): “Why is the expression ‘it was good’ not mentioned with regard to Monday? Because the fires of Gehinnom were created on that day.... It was, however, included [in the statement ‘it was very good’ made] concerning Friday.” See the notes of Mahari Chaver to that passage.2

This also clarifies another problematic point: Since Rambam certainly had a reason why there should be a postponement on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, why did he not mention it, as Raavad states in his objection?

If, however, the rationale is as above, it is understandable. As explained in Sefer HaSichos (Kayitz 5700, p. 41) in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, Rambam was a kabbalist (see my note there3), but he was careful not to reveal the matter even with a hint, because that would have been dangerous in his time.

With blessings for a gmar chasimah tovah,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Chairman of the Executive Committee