The Shikkerdovid would like to share a piece of Gemarah that he learned this morning at Bircat Hatorah which demonstrates how the most intellectual and halachic of Talmudic arguments can still teach us moral lessons.
On page 24A of Masechet Shabbos in the perek known as Bama Madlikin, there is a whole discussion of Chanuka. The Talmud has a series of inquiries as to whether we say the “Al Hanisim” in our liturgy. The Talmud makes an assumption based upon Rashi that “Tfila” or The Amida prayer requires Al Hanisim since on some level- prayer is a Torah obligation. The Talmud then asks whether we include Al Haneisim in our Bircat Hamazon.
The next inquiry is whether we say it during the Mussaf of Rosh Hodesh during Chanuka and on the Mussaf of Shabbat during Hanukah. The support or proof that we say Al Hanisims in these Musafs is fascinating. The Talmud states SINCE we are saying Al Hanisiem IN the Arvis of Shabbat, the ShacHris of Shabbat and the Mincha of Shabbat, we should include it in the Musaf.
Rashi says something startling and not very halahic. Rashi says, since we are saying it IN the other prayers as the Talmud states, we say it in Mussaf so as not to ‘lessen’ this prayer. The term used was not to “denigrate” the mussaf. In essence, Rashi seems to be saying we do not want to hurt the feelings of Mussaf by making it feel less important.
The Shikkerdovid lesson is obvious. We are making halachic decisions based on moral or emotional foundations. The Talmud does not want to “lessen” the mussaf. The concern is not that people would take the mussad lightly or fail to say it, rather that it is simply not nice. What a message. If we are concerned for the feelings of a prayer-How much more so of people. The halachic lesson is to always be concerned for the feelings of others.