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