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Thought for the Day: More Frequent Comes Before, Not Instead Of, Similar Obligations

It's a real thing: tadir v'sh'eino tadir, tadir kodem.  When faced with two obligations, the more frequently occurring is executed first.  For example, that's why "r'tzei" preceeds "ya'alei v'yavo" in both t'fila and bentching when Yom Tov, Chol HaMo'ed, or Rosh Chodesh fall on Shabbos.  It is also why Borchi Nafshi added after davening on Rosh Chodesh comes after the Shir shel Yom.

What about the second day or Rosh Chodesh Elul regarding l'Dovid and Borchi Nafshi.  On the one hand l'Dovid is said for a total of 40 days, while Borchi Nafshi is said no more than 20 or so.  On the other hand, l'Dovid is said at one time during the year, whereas Borchi Nafshi is said 12 (or 13) times each year.  The halacha is to say Borchi Nafshi first (after the Shir shel Yom, of course) and then l'Dovid.  The ba'alei mussar say we see from here that "less more often" has a bigger effect than "a lot less often".  One big inspiration is nice, but for keeps you need regular baby steps.

The Aruch HaShulchan has an innovative use of this principle regarding a situation where when has eaten and then used the wash room before making a bracha acharona.  Since one uses the wash room more often than one eats a snack or meal, he says, the asher yatzar comes before bracha acharona.  Us spoiled and overweight Americans may have to rethink that conclusion.

R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach notes that "tadir v'sh'eino tadir, tadir kodem" only applies when the obligations are comparable.  That's why Megilas Esther is read after k'ri'as HaTorah, for example.  Rus on Shavuos and Koheles on Sukkos are intentionally read before k'ri'as HaTorah to show that they are only being read because of a minhag.  Would that there was a rabinic obligation to read them, then they would have to come after k'ri'as HaTorah.  That is also why, he says, havdala in shul after Shabbos Chanuka comes after the lighting of the Chanuka menorah in shul; specifically to show that the Chanuka lighting in shul is minhag and cannot be used to fulfill one's obligation to light at home.

Finally, "kodem" means "precedes", not "takes priority".  If the question is "which one to do" instead of "which to do first", then tadir is irrelevant.  That's reasonably obvious, of course, since otherwise you can never have a special haftara!

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