Big Tallis Roundup: Tallis Wearing During Drosho, Hesped, Megillas Esther night reading, etc. – טלית גדול לדרשה, הספד, קריאת מגילת אסתר בלילה, וכו

March 26, 2015

We are now at a special time of the year, just before שבת הגדול, which is one of the times when people can see prominently a special, ancient minhag in practice in some kehillos, namely the Rav’s wearing of a טלית גדול for the דרשה.  As expounded upon at length in שרשי מנהג אשכנז חלק א, according to Minhag Ashkenaz, talleisim (tallis gadol) are not only for davening with, and not only for daytime use. Rather they also have the role of being recommended appropriate garb for communal functionaries performing certain functions, מפני כבוד הציבור, for the honor of the congregation, during both daytime and nighttime hours.

A few months ago, it was touched upon here, on this website, in conjunction with a שבת שובה דרשה, Shabbos Shuva being a twin of sort to Shabbos Hagadol in this respect.

Now, I would like to point out some other examples, which I noticed recently, which show this ancient practice continuing in other contexts as well.

Zayin Adar drosho with tallis

In some kehillos, for example those of Oberlander (Hungarian Ashkenaz) background, ז’ אדר  (the seventh day of Adar, yohrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu) is marked religiously with special observances, one of them being a prominent דרשה given by the רב.

In a recent report online from קהל עדת יראים וויען in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the USA, a kehillah with Oberlander roots (למרות שהסניף בוויליאמסבורג שינו נוסח התפלה שלהם בשנים האחרונות) , one can plainly see the Rav giving his drosho while wearing a tallis.

A tallis for Hespedim

A. In a Chasidic Beis Midrash 

Recently there was a hesped in London for R. Elchonon Halpern, a leading Chasidic figure in the recent era, especially in Europe, who was recently niftar, in his Beis Medrash there, at the end of the shiva for him. I found it interesting to notice, in a photographic report of the event, that various maspidim were wearing a tallis while delivering their eulogies. In a Chasidic Beis Medrash no less.

Another Minhag Ashkenaz vestige where you might not expect it, evidently….

It seems that such things are more common in some parts of the world than others. It seems that in the old world (such as Europe) (as well as former old world colonies, as opposed to, for example the USA which was פורק עול of the U.K. via its revolution :) such practices are stronger than in new world places like the Americas, the old world being more history and tradition conscious and bound at times than the new one.

So, for example, at a hesped for the same R. Halpern in a Chasidic Beis Medrash in Boro Park in the USA, a tallis was not seen on the maspidim (although it is possible that it was at night, which could have been a factor as well, though I think it was not the decisive factor, rather the location was).

B. In the Lederman Shul in Bnei Brak 

In Bnei Brak, at the famous (nusach Ashkenaz) Lederman Shul, at a hesped for Rebbetzin Bassheva Kanievsky z”l a few years ago, one sees talleisim on the maspidim as well.

Wearing a tallis for Megillas Esther leining at night

Needless to say, according to Minhag Ashkenaz, the one who reads the megillah at night on Purim does so with a tallis. In Litvishe Yeshivos where the chazan regularly wears a tallis gadol for maariv during the week around the year, the same applies.

Interestingly, it seems that many Chasidim do so as well, see e.g. these photos from various minyonim in Bnei Brak, and these from the Gorlitzer Rebbe there.

It is seen in these photos at an Oberlander kehillah down under too.

So we see quite a broad spectrum of Ashkenazic Jewry is doing so (of course, not 100%, Moshiach has not arrived yet ;-), even some of those who don’t usually wear a tallis at night. Something worthy of consideration.

Important article re wearing a tallis gadol at night

An important, wide ranging study on the wearing of the tallis gadol at night was recently published by a leading scholar, מחבר, and researcher of minhogim, R. Yechiel Goldhaber, of Eretz Yisroel, in the kovetz חצי גבורים, mentioned in our previous post on מי שברך לחולים בשבת.

He shows in it, that what people think is an absolutely unequivocal, clear cut matter, re a kabbalistic position on wearing of the tallis gadol at night, is actually not exactly so, but rather much more complicated than generally known. An important area of study and line of inquiry, which we hope will be continued.

Perhaps we will discuss it, as well as some other relevant material, in the future, בעזרת השי”ת.

יה”ר מלפני אבינו שבשמים שבזכות טלית גדול ושבת הגדול נזכה לתקיעת השופר הגדול בב”א

א גוטען שבת און א כשר’ן און פרייליכען פסח

Fascinating, Little Known History of a Mi Shebeirach Revealed: The Hidden Story Behind A Shabbos Practice – מי שברך לחולים בשבת: הלכה, מנהג, ומציאות, נחשף, נחקר, ונברר ע”י רב המבורגר

December 24, 2014

Davening for a sick person on Shabbos?

May one daven for a sick person on Shabbos?

Not a simple matter. Recall that we don’t say the regular, weekday Shmoneh Esrei, which contains a prayer to heal our sick, on that day.

What about making a מי שברך לחולים for an ill person on Shabbos?

Were your answers to the above two questions the same? Different? If so, why?

Mi shebeirach for cholim on Shabbos today

A recent issue of a קובץ תורני (Torah journal) by the name of קובץ חצי גבורים, פליטת סופרים, from this past אלול, includes a major contribution by רבש”ה, Rav Binyomin Shlomo Hamburger, נ”י, bearing the title of מי שברך לחולים בשבת, in which these and some related topics are masterfully and comprehensively expounded upon and explicated.

קובץ

In many Shuls today, the mi shebeirach lecholim on Shabbos is a drawn out affair. Some people seem to rack their brains to think of any person, with almost any kind of health issue, they could include in it (not surprising – after all, we are רחמנים בני רחמנים :). In some places, long lists are read by the mi shebeirach maker, while in others a new custom has been innovated, in which people in the congregation say names they wish to have included, while remaining in their places.

Many people do not seem to be aware that it is not a simple matter to assume that davening for a sick person is allowed on Shabbos. While there were and are decisors who ruled that such davening is allowed, a significant  body of חכמי אשכנז held that such is allowed only for a חולה שיש בו סכנה, someone who’s life is in danger, specifically בו ביום, on that very day of Shabbos.

Mi Shebeirach for Cholim on Shabbos through the ages

Rav Hamburger takes his readers on a journey through many centuries, exploring how our chachomim addressed this issue, navigating skillfully through the waters of Talmud, and pages of Midrash, Responsa, and Siddurim. The wide ranging exposition ranges far and wide through many centuries, including examinations of various nuschaos (versions) of mi shebeirach texts, as well as the emendation made by R. Avraham Gombiner, the Magen Avrohom, to the מי שברך לחולה text, the reaction to it, and instructions (or their lack) in סידורים (prayer books).

Also discussed are the meanings of enigmatic Talmudic phrases that figure in the discussion, such as שבת היא מלזעוק ורפואה קרובה לבא, and יכולה היא שתרחם.

At the end he notes that while widely accepted poskim such as Chayei Adam, Aruch Hashulchan, Mishna Berurah, Shulchan Aruch Harav, among others, said that it should be restricted to a חולה מסוכן on Shabbos, much of Eastern European Jewry (with some notable exceptions) seem to be meikil on it, conducting unrestricted mi shebeirachs for cholim. On the other hand, the older minhog was maintained among Bnei Ashkenaz (‘Yekkes’), among whom, not only was such restricted to a choleh sheyeish bo sakonoh, but also the mi shebeirach used was a regular mi shebeirach לבריא, rather than the mi shebeirach lecholeh.

Understanding the spirit behind the practice 

The gedolim and poskim that limited mi shebeirach for the ill on Shabbos, did so, not, חס ושלום, G-d forbid, out of a lack of compassion or cold heartedness, but rather, following the mesorah they received, out of concern that the special atmosphere of Shabbos, its sanctity and tranquility, not be compromised by such supplications (except for extreme cases, and even then just in a limited manner). The Shabbos itself, with its atmosphere of holiness and tranquility, is therapeutic and healing. As alluded to in the text of the מי שברך לחולה, there is a connection between רפואת הנפש, healing of the spirit, spiritual health, and רפואת הגוף, healing of the body, physical health. That special Shabbos atmosphere needs to be guarded to be properly maintained. Additionally, the zechus, the merit of keeping Shabbos properly, which, as we say in the shmoneh esrei of mincha on Shabbos, is מנוחת אהבה ונדבה, מנוחת אמת ואמונה, מנוחת שלום ושלוה והשקט ובטחת, is itself a great zechus, which accrues to the benefit of the חולה and others who guard it.

Once again, Rav Hamburger has illuminated for us, with great light, the ins and outs, as well as the roots, branches and variations of a Jewish practice forgotten and misunderstood by many.

The return of Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz (hopefully)

In addition to the great contribution and sheer enjoyment that this enthralling contribution to לימוד התורה represents, it is also very welcome for another reason. Namely that it is the first such new lengthy, Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz type exposition (it is written in a format like that used in Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz, e.g. starting from the beginning, from relevant early sources, such as Biblical and Talmudic, tracing the practice down through many generations in later sources such as halachic codes, collections of minhogim, and siddurim, followed by surveys of practice in different lands of Jewish settlement, culminating in a final review/summation section) to appear in some time. Since the four initial volumes of Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz (SMA) (as well as the accompanying small introductory volume, גדולי הדורות על משמר מנהג אשכנז), appeared between app. twenty and ten years ago, no new volumes have appeared in recent years (though a fine volume with an English synopsis of the Hebrew volumes appeared a few years ago – and now is listed at hundreds of dollars at Amazon.com – wow!), while Rav Hamburger was occupied with other literary endeavors, such as הישיבה הרמה בפיורטה, ירושתנו, וכו. It is hoped that this new perek (which Rav Hamburger indicated may be incorporated in a future volume of SMA) heralds the return and resumption of the highly acclaimed and very necessary series in the near future. According to the Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz website, a number of new works are awaiting sponsorship, including SMA V & VI. Hopefully הקב”ה will send discerning sponsors soon that appreciate the greatness of this work (along with other valuable MMA products), to partner with the Machon and enable the resumption of its dissemination. It is a series that has gained wide acclaim, in wide circles of cognoscenti. From Talmidei Chachomim, to Academics, to Bnei Ashkenaz, to regular Jews, who recognize something special when they see it.

יה”ר שנזכה לכך במהרה בימינו, אכי”ר

Beautiful Literary Tribute to Chanukah at KAJ WH

December 23, 2014

In the vein of the classic “Why I Daven with the Yekkes” of a few years ago, Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer has just penned a beautiful explication and appreciation of Chanukah at “Breuer’s”.

May Hashem bless the scribes who pen such works of art and truth for the edification of us all.

א גוטען חודש און א פרייליכען חנוכה

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!

Enjoy!


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