Vestiges of Minhag Ashkenaz in Unexpected Places: Satmar Rebbe’s Teshuva Drosho – דרשת שבת שובה ושבת הגדול ע”י הרב בטלית

October 2, 2014

Sometimes one is pleasantly surprised when they see an unexpected sight. Such was the case when, a short while ago, I came across a photo of the (Kiryas Joel) Satmar Rebbe giving a ‘Shabbos shuvah drosho’ in Williamsburg in New York, a few days ago, wearing a tallis. The practice seems to be a vestige of the old minhag Ashkenaz, in which a tallis is worn not only for davening, but also on other special occasions, such as when a Rav is mesader kiddushin, officiating at a chassunah (wedding), and for Shabbos Hagodol and Shabbos Shuva drashos, and so on, מפני כבוד הציבור. In this case it was especially interesting as it was not even on Shabbos, but rather on Sunday, צום גדליה!

Interestingly, this minhag survives in a variety of locations around the world, such as Eretz Yisroel, Europe, as well as some places in the USA. Did you see it at the drosho you attended this year?

Do you have any other examples of sightings of Minhag Ashkenaz practices, or vestiges thereof, in unexpected places, that you would like to share with us? Do tell!

יה”ר שנזכה לשוב בתשובה שלמה בקרוב

New Edition of Selichos KeMinhag Ashkenaz – סליחות כמנהג אשכנז: מהדורה חדשה לשם ולתפארת

September 30, 2014

A great new edition of selichos according to Minhag Ashkenaz, has just been released in Eretz Yisroel.

In addition to being arranged according to that venerable tradition, with pleasing to the eye font and layout, it also features translations of difficult words into easy Hebrew, as well as more extensive commentary notes to the prayer text on the bottom of the page, among other features. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the mechaber, Rav Shimon Schuster of Kiryas Sefer, for all the work he put in to make it available to the public.

This should be of significant interest to those who follow מנהג אשכנז, as well as those who are interested in tefilloh and selichos in general. Those who say selichos arranged according to other orders, such as מנהג ליטא, or מנהג פולין, will also find it of interest, as while there are some differences in the selichos selections and order between them and that in this publication, there is also significant overlap and sharing as well. Additionally, seeing other, variant minhogim is usually illuminating, helping one to better understand, and contextualize one’s own tradition, as well.

More information on this fine new work (over five hundred pages!), and a link to download it (free of charge!), here.

Let us hope, as the mechaber writes, that this new work will help enhance our כוונה during selichos recitation, and make the tefillos more accepted on high.

בברכת חתימה טובה

Chacham Ovadia Yosef זצ”ל Never Went To Meron On Lag Baomer, And Was Pained By The Mass Pilgrimage There – (מפי בנו, הרב דוד יוסף שליט”א)

May 19, 2014

It is not just staunch Ashkenazim, proud of their great heritage, that refrain from going to Meron on Lag Baomer, and oppose participation in the activities there. Rav Elyashiv, zt”l, who never went there in his life (at any time of the year), did not stand alone in never taking part in the event. Okay, you might think, I understand, Rav Elyashiv had talmidim…but others, from other chugim, different backgrounds, with the same practice?

Yes! And where you may not have thought.

Chacham Ovadia Yosef, the recently niftar Sepharadic Torah giant, also never went to Meron on Lag Baomer, not even once, in his ninety three plus year life!

That was one of the things recently revealed by his son, לבחל”ח, Rav David Yosef, in a strong address about problematic aspects of Lag Baomer festivities.

In the recording attached to the linked article (worth checking out), Rav Yosef states, in strong and colorful language, among other things, that 1) his father, Chacham Ovadia, even in his youth, when he studied at Yeshiva Porat Yosef, on an occasion when the Yeshiva was in dire straits and a trip to kivrei tzadikim in the north of Eretz Yisroel was arranged for the benefit of the Yeshiva, declined to participate in it, insisting instead on staying where he was and learning Torah, 2) Rav David Yosef himself refused entreaties to go to Meron on Lag Baomer, even via special, exclusive  helicopter transit, and, as his father, has never been there on that day, 3) he went through the chumash hundreds of times and has never seen the ‘מצות עשה’ to make ‘aliyah liregel’ to Meron then, 4) שומר נפשו, someone who guards his soul, should be careful about such things, 5) אין לך ביטול תורה גדול מזה.

We see here a great example of the common practice and outlook of paramount gedolim, at the pinnacle of Torah leadership in our time. Both Sepharadic and Ashkenazic recognized the problematic aspects of the Meron pilgrimage and stayed away.

ומהם ילמדו וכן יעשו, אכי”ר

The Spreading Fires Of Lag Baomer: Tempting Quick & Easy ‘Spirituality’ vs. Enduring Ruchnius

May 16, 2014

In the past we have discussed at length (5771, 5772, 5773A, 5773B, and 5773C) how Lag Baomer is marked in minhag Ashkenaz, and contrasted it with other, more recent customs, that have become popular among other groups. Postings on that topic have been among the most visited of any in the history of this site, indicating that there is a great thirst and need for authentic information on the inyan. Readers are directed to those previous posts if they wish to review them. However, there is still a need for additional accurate information and Torah perspective on the inyan, especially when people are being bombarded with information not in accordance with our mesorah, which can seem tantalizing and tempting. So it is time to revisit the inyan again, as it is about to become ענינא דיומא once more.

The Prescience of the Chasam Sofer

A main exhibit of the stance of Minhag Ashkenaz on Lag Baomer, is, of course, the words of the Chasam Sofer about it, as we have discussed and linked to in the past.

Some may wonder, about the Chasam Sofer’s position. After all, we see some groups who claim to venerate and follow him, which do not follow what he wrote on this topic.

However, observant and honest people can see the prescience, the greatness of the Chasam Sofer, how he was רואה את הנולד, how he anticipated with his greatness, חכם עדיף מנביא ( a wise man is greater than a prophet), the problems that the later observances added on to the day, such as the mass Lag Baomer Meron pilgrimage, could lead to.

One of the things the Chasam Sofer expressed concern about with regard to Lag Baomer, was the exaltation of Meron over ירושלים עיר הקודש. There is only one Yerusholayim, which has such a special status in our faith, and that special status needs to be guarded.

However, in some writings today promoting the Lag Baomer Meron pilgrimage, we see language that might have made the Chasam Sofer shudder. For example, in a contemporary sefer called טיב מירון, which came out just a few years ago,  from a prominent Chasidic Kabbalist in Eretz Yisroel, ר’ גמליאל הכהן רבינוביץ, it is stated (p.180-181) that going up to Meron is like עליה לרגל to the בית המקדש! Astounding!

How great was the foresight of מרן החתם סופר זצ”ל!

Be wary of spreading fires

Another aspect of the evolving Lag Baomer situation in recent years is the spreading of the bonfire custom.

A number of Chasidic groups, as well as some others, who didn’t do it in the past (does anyone have any evidence of such large bonfires in prewar Europe for example?), have recently adopted it (though others remain faithful to their previous customs and refrain from it). For example, Satmar Chasidim  in Kiryas Joel, in just the last few years, has started a new practice to make a giant bonfire on Lag Baomer eve (Satmar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, however, does not, maintaining that they do not deviate from the practice of the previous Rebbe, R. Yoel Teitelbaum, who did not do so). Belzer Chasidim as well, have adopted it, in recent years, both in Eretz Yisroel and in the diaspora. Gerrer Chasidim, although the Rebbe does not do it, are allowing it elsewhere (beyond the Rebbe’s court). Similar for Bobover Chasidim. A prominent Chasidic leader once told me that there is no makom for such fires outside the land of Israel. He laughed at the importation of the custom to the diaspora. However, the fact that other, smaller Chasidic groups were doing it, which attracted some of their followers, evidently has recently influenced some of the larger Chasidic groups to adopt the practice, to one degree or another, in order not to seem to lag behind the others. Lubavitch as well, with their emissaries in various places, in addition to promoting the Lag Baomer parade custom initiated by their previous Rebbe, are adopting the bonfire custom, even though it was not traditionally Lubavitcher practice (this is made easier by the fact that since the last Rebbe passed away, there is a dimunition of central authority in that group).

Bonfires are quick, easy, and colorful, but they can be dangerous as well. Our ancestors didn’t build things like this, and we shouldn’t either.

Mixing customs from opposing traditions is inconsistent, and breeding grounds for confusion

Another interesting development is the development of new practices by some. For example, I recall reading about a Yeshiva, maybe it was in the Lakewood area, which had a bonfire, but, adding a Litvish-Yeshivish twist to their adoption of this Chasidic practice, auctioned off the lighting of the fire to bochurim who bid for it with pledges to learn various amounts of gemara. They took a practice used by some Yeshivas on Simchas Torah and attempted to combine it with a new custom they brought in from outside. And there are some Ashkenaz Shuls and Yeshivas who are trying to jump on a Chasidic bandwagon and have bonfires as well, even without such modifying touches. They think they can have it both ways, be poseach al shtei haseipim evidently. But one cannot do so. To mix customs from differing  traditions is problematic, fraught with danger, and introduces confusion into the minds of their followers. Let them not be surprised if some of their followers in the future, decide to jump ship. After all, if, as the saying goes, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and their leaders are imitating outside customs, why should they not get the underlying message and join the groups being imitated entirely? Such mixed messages are confusing and dangerous.

Stay the course, the way of our holy ancestors, אבותינו הקדושים

The lesson that must be taught is that we stay faithful to our mesorah and do not sell it, neither for a pot of red lentils, nor for a blazing red bonfire. That we eschew the hype and sales pitches for questionable, quick, alleged yeshuos, and newfangled foreign practices, and stay the course. That we realize that quick and easy, and genuine growth in רוחניות don’t usually go together. That instead of looking for a quick ‘spiritual’ thrill, we keep a distance from faux spirituality, and go instead for genuine, slow, solid work and aliyah in avodas Hashem.

In the zechus of our staying the course, and resisting the temptations for quick, flashy, easy, excitement, in favor of our perhaps less glamorous, but time-tested minhogim, of אבותינו הקדושים, a great path to follow in general, year round, may we be zoche to קבלת התורה בשלימות באמת, and solid, genuine aliyah בעבודת השי”ת תמיד.

א גוטען שבת

The Yoshon Renaissance and Vintage Minhogim – החזרת עטרה ליושנה: אפשר או א”א? ישן ומנהגים ישנים

March 2, 2014

Can old minhogim realistically make a comeback?

There are some people, who, upon learning about vintage minhogim whose observance has been lost in some quarters, such as, let us take for example, the singular Ashkenazic kaddish, as well as others mentioned at the conclusion of the previous post, agree that ideally they should be reinstituted or reinvigorated. However, they feel that it can not be accomplished, it is too late, the cat is out of the bag, and so on. They have despaired of them coming back. They think that it is impractical to realistically think or dream such a thing, of such a restoration.

But is such a pessimistic attitude itself realistic/justifiable? Can we really ‘turn the clock back’? Has such a thing ever been done in recent times? The answer is a resounding yes!

The return of Yoshon observance

Leaving aside great modern Jewish examples along such lines of other types, such as those related to ארצנו הקדושה, Eretz Yisroel, let us just examine what has transpired in recent years with regard to the מצוה/practice of ישן/שמירת איסור חדש, in the diaspora, חוץ לארץ.

Consumption of grain products from plants grown after the beginning of Pesach, the time the korban omer was brought בזמן שביהמ”ק היה קיים, is proscribed by the Torah. In the past, in the exile, it was difficult to observe and there were heterim expounded to deal with the issue. Nowadays, in our modern era, ב”ה, it is much easier to observe, and a growing practice, especially among the more learned and pious, is to observe it without recourse to leniencies utilized in the past.

‘They said it couldn’t be done’, but now, the practice of Yoshon is solidly entrenched and frequently incorporated and respected by institutions, manufacturers, caterers, and individuals. I am not getting involved now in the details and different opinions/shitos about it, but rather am just observing how it is possible, and we have seen in our own time, something that was forgotten among the masses, making a remarkable comeback.

Analyzing the Yoshon return

How did it happen? אכשר דרא, a new generation, better educated in תורתנו הקדושה, ב”ה, better conditions of living, ב”ה, and so on. Education led to people here and there taking upon themselves the old-new altneu practice/הנהגה , and, after a while, things snowballed, and it became even better known, and headed into  ‘mainstream’ territory.

A return of Yoshon in the realm of minhogim

So why can’t a similar thing happen with important old practices of our ancestors, such as the Ashkenazic kaddish, the Ashkenazic way of reciting kedushah, LeDovid Boruch on מוצאי שבת, and so on, as well? Such things don’t happen overnight, of course, but to state with absolute certainty that the old ways are gone forever, seems much too pessimistic and misplaced.

Cycles, ebb and flow, in Jewish history

We are now at the beginning of a new chodesh, אדר שני. Rosh Chodesh is a time of renewal. The moon seemingly disappeared. Then there is an invisible rebirth, followed by a glimmer of light, a sliver of white, which proceeds to grow and increase. Just like the לבנה, practices that were neglected can become rediscovered, reestablished, and reinvigorated, like עם ישראל, the Jewish people, who are compared to the moon. Such things have happened many times in Jewish history.

In fact we see nowadays a great and growing interest in classic minhogim in general. There are more publications, seforim, articles, discussions about them, in places where you may not have expected such. In just the last year or so, I have noted in well-trafficked, highly popular fora, online, as well as in a well-known Chareidi newspaper, discussions about the old Ashkenaz way of saying kaddish, in which it was held up as a proper and superior practice, and serious grappling with the question of why it  is not universally followed today. I don’t recall such discussions at such a level growing up. This indicates a growing awareness and interest in such מנהגים ותיקים. And why should it be surprising? We are in a time when people are going back to practices of their ancestors in other areas, so why not here? It is a well-established general trend, going back to roots, חזרה אל השרשים. So why not in the area of minhogim as well? The groundwork, the foundation, has already been laid, conceptually, and in practice.

ב”ה, אכשר דרא באמת, תודה להשי”ת.

In the zechus of such renewal, may we be zoche to national renewal, בביאת משיח צדקנו, במהרה בימנו, אמן!

א גוטען חודש!

Gentrification and Retro-Ashkenaz: Back To The Future! ג’נטריפיקציה ורטרו-אשכנז: חזרה אל העתיד

February 13, 2014

In recent years, gentrification has become very popular , as well as one of  the ‘hottest’ trends in real estate, and living in general. In places around the world, old, run down areas and buildings, often in inner cities, have been rediscovered, renovated, improved, and resettled, in the process greatly increasing in valuation. People have gotten tired of continually moving further away from the city or city center, to more modern and newer developments. They have come to realize that older buildings and places can possess considerable charm and value, exceeding that of newer structures and locations at times. And that is even before factoring in the convenience of being closer to the center of things, rather than on the periphery.  In the wake of these trends, urban living has become popular again, and suburbs and exurbs have lost some of their shine.

People have come to realize that newer is not always better, and that the polish of old, solid quality can outshine more modern glitter, bringing about a sorely needed correction in perspective.

Spiritual Gentrification

In the spiritual realm as well, gentrification is something that deserves serious consideration. Instead of continually looking to newer ideas and customs, older and time tested practices of our ancestors and previous generations should be reexamined with a fresh eye, discarding preconceived notions that they are outdated, irrelevant, and inferior, to their newer competitors. Those who do so will often find themselves richly rewarded. It might take somewhat of a pioneering spirit to buck some current, modern trends at first, but, after a while, the vintage minhogim and teachings can become popular and mass movements, as they were in the past. We see stirrings of such trends developing now, with the growing interest in מנהגים ישנים מדורות קדמונים, as evinced in contemporary seforim, shiurim, and articles.

Practically Speaking

If a tzibbur is in need of some spiritual reinvigoration, they might consider incorporating some ‘spiritual gentrification’ into their lives. Trying some old minhogim of מסורת אשכנז, such as reciting kedushah in the derech of old Ashkenaz, saying kaddish the old Ashkenaz way,  singing לדוד ברוך on מוצאי שבת, and so on. The old minhogim may take some time to get used to for those new to them – like fine wine, they can be somewhat of an acquired/learned taste. But once you savor their special flavor, it can be addictive.

השיבנו ה’ אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו כקדם

Lehodos Ulehallel – New Clips of Shira Vezimra from KAJ WH choir – שירה וזמרה, להודות ולהלל, ממקהלת קהל עדת ישורון, וואשינגטאן הייטס, ניו יארק

December 16, 2013

During the recent Yom Tov of Chanukah, the KAJ WH choir performed for a local senior group. Now, all of us, קרובים ורחוקים, can enjoy the experience, thanks to GWCTD.

Here are some selected clips, for your listening pleasure.

To the choir and the Kehillah, keep up the good work. כה לחי!


The Special Experience of Chanukah Lighting at Khal Adas Jeshurun (‘Breuer’s’) – הדלקת נר חנוכה בק”ק קהל עדת ישורון, וואשינגטאן הייטס, ניו יורק

December 2, 2013

The הדלקת נר חנוכה at KAJ (‘Breuer’s’) is traditionally a special experience.

Now, thanks to the generosity of GWCTD, those who could not experience it in person can get a taste of it even from afar.

Here is a video from the first night of this year’s Chanukah.

Note the following.

1) The beautiful בית הכנסת.

2) The chazan is wearing a tallis in the evening (I believe it is a short while after shekias hachamah). This is in accordance with Minhag Ashkenaz, in which the chazan/shliach tzibbur wears a tallis for tefillos mincha and arvis, as well as the morning tefillos (as we discussed in the past).

3) The way he is wearing it – draped over his arms (as opposed to a common practice among some of throwing back that part of the tallis back over the shoulders, leaving the arms uncovered by it).

4) The beautiful way the brachos are chanted by the chazan, following a traditional nusach. Each one takes close to a minute!

5) The special portable mini platform, upon which the chazan stands when lighting the menorah, after ascending three steps.

6) How the chazan descends after the lighting, taking special action to avoid turning his back to the aron kodesh.

7) The general decorum.

This is a great example of זה א-לי ואנוהו, upon which חז”ל comment התנאה לפניו במצות, as well as כבוד בית הכנסת ושמירת מנהגים קדושים.

Hopefully others will learn from this great example and act similarly. ומהם ילמדו וכן יעשו.

א ליכטיגען און פרייליכען חנוכה

The Special, Elevated Nature of the Kaddish in Nusach Ashkenaz – הייחודיות של הקדיש בנוסח אשכנז

October 18, 2013

Note: In the past we discussed the special nature of the Ashkenaz kaddish recitation (in a number of posts, for example this one), with a focus on the minhog that only one person recites kaddish at a time. In this post we turn our gaze to the actual text of kaddish in nusach Ashkenaz, and examine what makes it unique.

One of the most well known, and high profile (and frankly, baffling to many people, it seems) differences between nusach Ashkenaz and other nuschaos appears in the kaddish. The kaddish is a very exalted, ancient prayer, and requires a minyan (quorum of ten adult men) to be recited, as it is classified as among the ‘devorim shebikdushoh’ – דברים שבקדושה – which require an edah (congregation) for recitation, as derived and defined by our Rabbis and tradition. The kaddish especially stands out as a difference between nusach Ashkenaz and other nuschaos to a great degree, it seems, due to the fact that it is recited aloud multiple times a day as part of tefillah betzibbur (communal prayer). Whereas one only encounters the difference between nusach Ashkenaz and other nuschaos re the placement of Hodu (before or after Boruch Sheomar), for example, once a day during davening, kaddish is repeated a number of times each tefillah.

But what is behind the special nature of the nusach Ashkenaz kaddish, which takes center stage in Shul at various times, and is one of the most important and focal points of our communal prayer, תפילה בציבור?

Preserving a strong focus on the essential kaddish theme

Upon examination, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Ashkenaz kaddish is unique in how it expresses and preserves the basic, essential, and original theme/idea of the kaddish – namely exalting, elevating and praising the Great Name of Hakodosh Boruch Hu – שמיה רבה.

How does it do so, one might ask?

It does so by maintaining a clear focus on the whole point of kaddish – which is magnifying and sanctifying the Great Name of Hakodosh Boruch Hu – by excluding certain later additions made in other nuschaos. Other nuschaos contain additional, added components, that were inserted over time, for example ones asking for Moshiach and/or asking for health, parnassah, etc. As important as they are (and nusach Ashkenaz incorporates them prominently elsewhere in the davening), in nusach Ashkenaz, the focus of kaddish being a דבר שבקדושה, a special holy prayer, where we exalt the great name of Hashem, is considered to be critical, and something that needs to be guarded, and not confused or diluted. That focus must to be maintained.  Including other things diminishes it and leads to a dimunition of the strength and kavannah of the tefilloh.

Examining the text with the ערוך השלחן

Let us examine some segments of kaddish, to bring out the point. We will be guided by the great Aruch Hashulchan, ר’ יחיאל מיכל עפשטיין זצ”ל. The ערוך השלחן in אורח חיים, simanim 55 and 56, shares with us some very important yesodos, fundamentals, about kaddish. In סימן נה he gives us general background of the kaddish, and dinim. In the following siman, סימן נו, he gives us, translates, and explains the text of kaddish, in detail, which we will get into now.

יתגדל ויתקדש שמיה רבה – may His Great Name be magnified and sanctified. This is based on a posuk in Yechezkel (לח, כג) regarding the aftermath of milchemes gog umagog.

בעלמא די ברא כרעותיה – in the world he created according to his will.

וימליך מלכותיה בחייכון וביומיכון ובחיי דכל בית ישראל – may his Kingdom rule in your lives, in your young years, and in the lives of all of Israel. This is part of exalting the Great Name of Hashem as well, as we know, והיה ה’ למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה ה’ אחד ושמו אחד – when the Kingdom of G-d, the Malchus Shomayim will come to pass, on that day Hashem’s name will be one.

Here, we arrive at a major divergence. At this point, in nusach Sfard, Sepharad, etc. (as opposed to nusach Ashkenaz, which, following the oldest nusach of kaddish we have, from Rav Amram Gaon, does not include such) there appears an additional בקשה of ויצמח פורקניה ויקרב משיחיה, asking for Moshiach. However, the Aruch Hashulchan explains, that in nusach Ashkenaz it is not recited because the idea is already included in the aforementioned וימליך מלכותיה, as the establishment of the Kingdom of Hashem and the coming of Moshiach is one and the same idea. Moshiach is, so to speak, a subsidiary agent of מלכות שמים. After all, what does Moshiach come for? To establish the מלכות שמים. Which touches on another important point, as an aside, namely that Moshiach is not an end in and of itself, but rather a shliach, an אמצעי (intermediary) to bring about the מלכות שמים on earth. However, it needs to be stated and remembered that even when Moshiach comes, it is הקדוש ברוך הוא that is our redeemer, as we say in Shabbos davening, אפס בלתך גואלנו לימות המשיח (see Rav Schwab on Prayer , as well as the peirush of the Rokeach there) (the second major point of divergence is toward the end of the kaddish, in the section starting יהא שלמה רבה מן שמיא וחיים. We have already discussed that in a previous post, to which I refer the interested reader).

Do a few words really make a difference, one way or another?

Some people might say (or think), what is the difference, a few words here, a few words there. But that is not attitude of our gedolim, past and present, whether it is in מקרא, משנה, גמרא, הלכה, תפלה or elsewhere.  Every word is considered and weighed. Words do make a difference. A shift of even one word, even a letter, can make a significant difference. Kal vachomer a difference of a number of words, or inserted additional bakashos.

Actually, it is quite surprising that some members of the people of the book nation, would even harbor such a notion. As a limud zechus, we can perhaps ascribe it to קוצר רוח ועבודה קשה.

Davening at high speed, with a lack of kavonnoh, can make things turn into a big blur. Greater clarity is attainable though.

One actually can easily understand why some people nowadays, unfortunately, see no significant difference, or any at all, between נוסחאות, and therefore claim that there is no issue/problem of switching from one to another. If people pray at high speed, with a lack of כוונה, it is not surprising if the whole davening is a blur to them, all the more so if they do it in an early morning haze, half asleep. If you are speeding on a road at 60mph, can you focus in and appreciate the intricacies of a flower on the side of the road, and how it differs from its neighbor? The solution is to slow down and tune in to the davening in a more inner, פנימי, manner.

Nevertheless, even if things seem unclear to us at times, we need to have respect and humility before our great ancestors and leaders, the גדולי עולם, the גדולי אשכנז, who bequeathed to us this great treasure of a nusach, an ancient gem, which was cherished and preserved for generations before being handed over to us, even if we don’t always understand every word and nuance of it. After all, do we really think that we know better than them, and can blithely, casually, throw to the side of the road the great inheritance that they left us, to exchange it for a newer, more flashy model? A nusach is not like a car, which people might switch every so often. True, it is a vehicle for עבודה שבלב, but it was not put together with a plan to become obsolete and get replaced in a few years, unlike some metal conveyances of the modern era.

In the zechus of כוונה בתפלה, עיון תפלה, and הליכה בדרכי אבותינו הקדושים, may we be zoche to the קיום of the words of the kaddish, וימליך מלכותיה, בעגלא ובזמן קריב, ואמרו אמן.

א גוטען שבת

Avinu Malkeinu, A Closer Look: Customs & Insights – תפלת אבינו מלכנו: מנהגים וביאורים

September 13, 2013

One of the tefillos that especially colors and characterizes this time of the year is אבינו מלכנו. Though its basis is ancient, based on a gemara, it was further developed as time went on, and divergent customs developed around it in some places. As with tefillos in general, it is highly recommended to learn more about it, to make your prayer more meaningful, and hopefully more effective, and to leave rote prayer behind (hopefully).

The renowned siddur Avodas Yisroel, as is its wont, sheds significant light on the prayer. It informs us that the amount of supplications starting with Avinu Malkeinu therein varies greatly between Sepharadic, Ashkenaz, and Polish versions, from 29, to 38, to 44, respectively, with a total of 53 different versions existing. In addition, there is a difference in sequence between nuschaos as well. One difference in sequence which caught my attention in particular, is that while in nusach Polin (Eastern European), אבינו מלכנו החזירנו בתשובה שלמה לפניך, asking Hashem to bring us back in complete repentance before Him, follows lines such as א”מ סלח ומחל לכל עונותינו, א”מ מחה והעבר פשעינו וחטאתינו מנגד עיניך, א”מ מחוק ברחמיך הרבים כל שטרי חובותינו, in nusach Ashkenaz it precedes them. That seems to have significant logic on its side, as at the least, praying, yearning, and striving for repentance (hopefully followed by actual repentance), should lead the way, rather than asking for an outright, unequivocal pardon from above first (although it is true that part of repentance, the admission of sin, was already addressed by the first line, אבינו מלכנו חטאנו לפניך).

Another difference in אבינו מלכנו between nusach Ashkenaz and nusach Polin, is that nusach Ashkenaz says it during aseres yemei teshuvoh, but not on a regular calendar taanis tzibbur in other parts of the year, while nusach Polin, in a relatively recent development, does. Update: I looked at a Sepharadic siddur and it seems to be the same as Nusach/Minhag Ashkenaz here, meaning that Avinu Malkeinu is not routinely recited during a regular taanis tzibbur outside Aseres yemei teshuvoh.

May we be zoche, in the zechus of עיון תפלה, analysis and delving into our prayers, which we are taught (as said in tefillas Shacharis) is one of the things שאדם אוכל פירותיהן בעולם הזה והקרן קיימת לו לעולם הבא (sounds like a great investment!), to more meaningful and spiritual davening, תשובה שלמה, and a שנה טובה.

Thanks to all for their support.

חתימה טובה


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