Posts Tagged ‘Melting Pot Minhogim’

Rav Elyashiv, Rav Shach, and the Chazon Ish, זצ”ל, On Going To Meron On Lag Baomer: Rav Elyashiv’s Talmid (Student) Speaks Out

April 30, 2013

I just came upon, not long ago, a critical analysis by a mekurav of Rav Elyashiv זצ”ל, R. Dov Halbertal, להבחל”ח , that expresses well the point of view of very important gedolei Yisroel about the problematic nature of the Meron pilgrimage nowadays. Although it focuses on the viewpoint of gedolei Lita, namely Rav Elyashiv, the Chazon Ish and Rav Schach, זצ”ל, commenters mention that, להבחל”ח, Rav Ovadya Yosef and Rav Shmuel Wosner שליט”א also have taken similar positions with regard to the Lag Baomer event. So you have quite a spectrum of top level gedolim there expressing similar concerns.  Highly recommended reading!

Additionally, those that follow the news know about the chaos and צער that many suffered from in and around Meron this year in particular. Which reminds me of a story (brought in פניני מנהג – ל”ג בעומר, דף לח) regarding Rav Akiva Sofer, the דעת סופר. After he left Pressburg and fled to Eretz Yisroel due to the persecutions around WWII, one year he set out to travel to Meron (I am assuming to observe the goings on there). On the way, his vehicle broke down, necessitating lengthy repairs Whereupon he decided not to continue on to Meron then, even though things had already been fixed. He waited until after Lag Baomer to resume his journey, remarking that מן השמים, from Heaven, they do not allow him to go (on Lag Baomer), due to the קפידא (objection to the practice of the pilgrimage then) of his forebear, the Chasam Sofer. This shows how a גדול בישראל reacts to such phenomena. He makes a חשבון הנפש, he practices introspection.

וממנו ילמדו וכן יעשו, אכי”ר

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All Ye Into The Melting Pot! Melting Pot Minhogim vs. Minhag Avos – Minhogim Fads vs. Mesorah

June 17, 2011

In the Western world in recent decades (e.g. in the USA, Western Europe, and Australia), the melting pot model, encouraging the assimilation of immigrants into the dominant white culture, formerly the prevailing approach, has been dropped (a similar thing has happened in Eretz Yisroel, to a degree). In it’s place, a more enlightened approach of cultural pluralism was adopted. People of different backgrounds could still (or were even encouraged to) maintain their culture, language, links to homeland, etc.

But from what I am reading and hearing from some people, it seems that some frum Jews still adhere to the melting pot assimilationist model. They seem to believe that we all must go into a melting pot with regard to מנהגים. Everyone must accept the new frum commandments of upsherin and the like. After all, it is a מצוה דאורייתא of ערלה, right 😉 ? And חס ושלום that you refrain from dancing around a bonfire on ל”ג בעומר. How can anyone have the חוצפה to do such a thing, after all? What are you anyway? Some type of killjoy?

These assimilationists use euphemisms like ‘development of minhogim’. ‘Minhogim have always changed’, they claim. So how dare you insist on keeping the commandment of אל תטוש תורת אמך, sticking to the Ashkenazic minhogim of your מסורה, and resisting the latest fads, whether from ארץ ישראל, a Chassidic group, or elsewhere? After all, the grass is greener there, you know. Their מנהגים must surely be better than the ones of your father, right? So you better change and assimilate. You must accept all the fads that come along. Get with the program! Point your finger at the sefer Torah during hagbah, say Hallel on Pesach night in Shul in addition to your old way of saying it just during the seder at home, stop wearing tefillin on Chol Hamoed, give your son an upsherin even if you, your father, and grandfather didn’t….. You must conform and jump into the new frum melting pot, ASAP!  Don’t waste a minute!

Is this what ‘frumkeit’ has come to today?

Well, I, for one, am not going along with this new, PC (politically correct) ‘frumkeit’. I am not jumping into the melting pot to join all the latest fads. Nope. Mesorah is more important to me. I am not giving up my Ashkenazic מסורה, just because someone may think it is old fashioned.

Enough of this phony PC frumkeit already. Vive la difference!

Consumer Alert: Minhog Scammery On The Rise! Mislabeled, Cheap Middle Eastern Imports Flooding In, Threatening To Overwhelm Natives!

June 15, 2011

One of the more difficult challenges we face in keeping the holy minhogim of our Ashkenazic ancestors is posed by present day unrestricted imports from Eretz Yisroel, of Sepharadic minhagim posing as Ashkenazic ones.

With so much travel these days between Eretz Yisroel and the diaspora lands, instant worldwide communication, so many youngsters as well as more mature students studying in the Holy Land, and massive amounts of Judaica produced in and exported from there, we are faced with a virtual invasion of foreign customs.

As we have touched on in the past, many Ashkenazic Jews in ארצנו הקדושה, whether due to past compulsion or present proximity, practice some questionable Sepharadic minhagim (actually they may not be really Sepharadic, but for descriptive ease, I am referring to them that way now), that are not in accordance with their heritage.

When people are aware that practices are not from or in accordance with the holy מסורה of אשכנז, they can more easily be on guard against their infiltration. But when they are depicted as Ashkenazic, and even more so, from the holy Ashkenazim of  ארץ ישראל, the people that some think have a constant virtual halo around them, especially if they are of the ירושלמי variety, people can let their guard down and think that they are 100% acceptable for Ashkenazic Jews. But it ain’t so. The minhogim of the אשכנזים in חו”ל (the diaspora) are actually often more authentic and accurate than those of their cousins in Eretz Yisroel.

So first and foremost, people have to be alerted about this dangerous phenomenon. And then hopefully they will take steps to counter this dangerous fad, and reject the foreign adulterated customs, בעזרת השי”ת.

I will list here a few examples of such dangerous foreign imports, the mislabeled practices that need to be exposed for what they are, Sepharadic minhagim posing as Ashkenazic minhogim. Some of them have been written about previously, while others will perhaps אי”ה will be the subjects of future posts.

1) Chalaka (a word of Arabic origin), also known as Upsherin in Yiddish.

2) Bonfires and other questionable Lag Baomer activities. I wonder if there is a relationship between the widespread Lag Baomer bonfires in Eretz Yisroel and the new problem of an outbreak of Charedi juvenile pyromania there. השם ירחם.

3) Expanded version of the last part of Rosh Chodesh Bentching, starting with יחדשהו, as we have touched on in an earlier post. סידורים from ארץ ישראל can be vehicles for spreading such foreign nuschaos. Hey, the בני ארץ ישראל need to make a פרנסה, I know they sell siddurim overseas, but if they want to sell them to us, they can make them according to our מנהג.

4) Kaddish after Krias HaTorah being given to any aveil, rather than being said by the בעל קריאה, as per the classical minhog.

5) Cheap Judaica trinkets, e.g. Sepharadic/Oriental Shivisis and Hamsas. The former are sometimes purchased by well meaning people and given to Shuls, where sometimes unwittingly they are accepted and hung, usually at the amud, despite being against Ashkenazic practice. The latter may be hung or worn by individuals.

6) Finger pointing (pinky or other) at the sefer Torah during hagbah. The minhag Ashkenaz is to bow toward the sefer Torah then, an earlier recorded minhog mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch, a gesture of reverence and respect toward the holy Torah. But now one sees quite a few people in some places doing the easier finger pointing which lacks the type of giving of kavod to the Torah that bowing shows.

7) Hallel in Shul on Pesach night. Minhag Ashkenaz is only to say it at the seder later.

People have to be aware of this serious problem, take a stand, and refuse to go along with the adulteration of our holy Ashkenazic heritage, which happens when people accept such customs. And then אי”ה we will be hopefully be able to get the אשכנזים of ארץ ישראל to go back to their old minhogim, ולשלוח המנהגים הנכריות , and return to the ways of their ancestors before they came under foreign influences.

יה”ר שנזכה לכך בב”א, ובזכות השבת מנהגי האבות החביבים והקדושים אל הבנים נזכה ל”והשיב לב אבות על בנים ולב בנים על אבותם” בקרוב, אכי”ר

The Hidden Costs Of The Shtiebel On Your Block – Davening in a Shul of a different minhog than your own – Is it a good idea?

May 1, 2011

לילך לשטיבעל סמוך לבית או להעדיף להדר ולהתפלל במקום שמתפללים בו כאבותי, אפילו בריחוק מקום מה? שאלה מעניינת

An issue that we sometimes hear about these days involves parents complaining that their children have adopted a different religious path than the one they were raised in. For example, Modern Orthodox parents may complain that their children have become Haredi. Balabatish/Torah Im Derech Eretz (TIDE)  type parents may complain about children learning in Kollel. Non Chassidim may complain about children joining a Chassidic group, and Chassidim may complain if their children leave the Chassidic path and join another frum category. And so on.

An oft heard response to the above involves shifting the blame to the parents. For example, telling them, hey, if you didn’t want your son/daughter to become like that/join this other frum group, why did you send them to an institution where the faculty is of that group and teaches that their way is the proper way to live?

The above issues have been much discussed elsewhere and this website was not created to repeat what others have already covered.

However, I wish to point out that this issue has a counterpart in the area of מנהגים as well.

People daven in various venues. Shuls, Botei midrash, Yeshivos, shtiebels…..Sometimes people choose the places where they daven based primarily on the nature and quality of the Torah and tefilloh offered. Other times, however, factors such as how close the venue is to your house loom large in the calculations. Or how you get along with the people. Or if the place has a good kiddush.

Now these decisions are not necessarily simple. There are various factors involved. But I do wonder when people give too much weight to geographic proximity, and don’t go the proverbial extra mile to find a minyan that is a better fit for them and their ancestral minhog. Many people seem to feel that, hey, what is the difference if the Shul has a different minhag/nusach? I can daven my own nusach privately anyway. I can have a siddur of my own nusach for that. Maybe the minyan even provides such siddurim.

But what these people may not realize, is that by doing so, their own proficiency in their personal מנהג will erode over time. We know that people are influenced by their surroundings. The nusach they were raised with can start to mix and merge with the one around them in their mind, forming a new creation that is neither one or the other, נישט אהין און נישט אהער, neither here nor there. This phenomenon is sometimes on display when such people go to the amud.

Also, as a friend of mine, let’s call him Reb Yisroel, mentioned to me, if people daven in a minyan of a different nusach/minhag than their own, even if the father retains his knowledge of the different tradition that he was raised in, if his children grow up in the ‘other’ minhog environment, they will not have the deep rooted background in their ancestral custom the way their father has, and at times, that can even lead to them ultimately leaving that minhog altogether, and assimilating into the ‘new’ minhog they grew up hearing around them during davening. I have heard of such cases.

I realize that life is complex and that there might be other factors that outweigh the minhog/nusach angle. But to ignore it and leave it out of the deliberations? Wrong and foolish, if you ask me.

To clarify, I am focusing more on sustained long term exposure here, which has a greater effect than short term, rare, and ad hoc experiences, which are not as dangerous.

על פי הלכה, an argument can be made for this as well, it seems to me. אל תטוש תורת אמך is interpreted by our tradition as an exhortation not to leave one’s מנהגים. If someone places themselves into a situation where their connection to ancestral tradition will be endangered, even if only gradually and long term, and that of their children to it even more so, is there not a halachic issue? And even if someone would dispute that, would they not at least concede that it would be at least a הידור מצוה for someone to daven in a place that follows their ancestral minhog? And we live in a time when people seek הידורים and חומרות, right? So why not this one too? A הידור in תפלה. Gevaldig!

Do we need an explicit פסק הלכה that one should or must travel extra, as in the case of getting water for נטילת ידים, or finding a מנין, to get to a minyan of one’s own tradition, to make people aware that this should be an area of concern? Is convenience everything? Are you willing to accept erosion of your connection to your personal mesorah, your family heritage, just because some shtiebel opened up near your house, to save yourself a little bit of walking? And if someone says, hey, there is no Shul according to my מנהג near me anyway………well, maybe you should start one then!

So walk the extra mile for your מנהג אבות. It will be both physically and spiritually healthy for you, and you will rack up the miles in sechar halicha/שכר פסיעות!

שבוע טוב – גוט וואך

P.S. I hope the Association of Shtiebel Owners and Operators (ASOO) doesn’t get too angry at this post, but hey, I think the issue needs to be raised! 😉

Update : In further contemplating this question, other scenarios come to mind as well.

E.g. a person can say, it is a מצוה to help the new shtiebel. Have רחמנות on the Rav/Rebbe. Help a fellow Yid. Maybe he needs a פרנסה. Maybe he needs a tenth man (and a ninth, and an eighth, and a seventh..) to make his minyan. And then you, the nice guy who likes to help people, are gradually roped in. But at what cost? Short term it may be seem innocuous and even admirable. But long term? You are going to be exposed to customs that are not your own and that exposure can have a significant effect on you and your family, heritage and future generations.

If the shtiebel does not have a constituency of it’s own in the location, to the extent that it has to recruit others from different עדות and מנהגים to survive, does it really belong there? Perhaps it really belongs in a different location. How about all Shtiebel owners having a comprehensive market survey of a location to ascertain that they have a constituency, before moving in? Yes, I know that I am a dreamer. 😉

The Development of קדיש יתום – part II Recent Developments

April 15, 2011

(Continued from here)

GROUP KADDISH HISTORICALLY NOT DONE IN ASHKENAZIC LANDS IN PAST

Now, I’ll  prove to you that the conception of group kaddish did not (historically) exist in Europe, not even Eastern Europe, even in Chassidishe circles.

If you open any שלחן ערוך, with the רמ”א, מגן אברהם…., or if you open poskim, like the אור החיים, כנסת יחזקאל……and many others, you will find something called סדר קדימה. It delineates in great detail who has the right to say kaddish. If you have several people in Shul to say kaddish, it lays out what is the order, who has priority. We know that a בן שבעה (someone within the shiva) has priority over a בן שלושים,  (someone within shloshim) בן שלושים over בן יב’ חודש (someone within the twelve months of aveilus after a petirah), and a יארצייט (yohrzeit – someone marking the anniversary of a passing) priority over all of them. All these priorities. All the discussions among poskim (decisors) about who has priority. Someone may even have to wait a day, week, or month to say kaddish. Why? If there is a group kaddish, there is no need for all these priorities, because everybody could say kaddish, its open to everybody.

I remember once I came to Manhattan, a tourist from Israel. I had to daven מנחה. We went into a modern synagogue. I’m not used to this, I’m living in ארץ ישראל. People came in without כיפות – an ordinary mincha. It was very heartwarming for me to see so many people at a regular weekday mincha. They all stood around. Then, at the end of the תפלה, the penny dropped. I realized what was going on. Everyone said kaddish. I was the only one to answer this kaddish. Women said it too – everyone, except me and my wife. This is something that did not exist in the past.

CHASSIDIM ADOPT THE GROUP KADDISH, WITH SOME DISSENT

As I mentioned already, Sepharadim accepted group kaddish first. Then Chassidim, who adopted nusach Sephard, and certain things from Sepharadim, were the second ones to accept it. And yet, even in the Chassidishe world, we find voices that were not happy about it. The sharpest is the Komarna rebbe. In his sefer, שלחן הטהור (תל אביב, תשל”ג, סימן קלב, הלכה ד, p.194), he says that if two people say kaddish together, הוא פגם וחטא גדול – it is a big sin. Not only does he not do a favor to the נפטר, not help him, but it could be that it even harms him, getting him down to a lower stage in גיהנום, חס ושלום, or in גן עדן. He says that it comes from ספרדים, is not really part of our heritage, and we should reject it. But you find that hardly anyone in Chassidic world obeys this.

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE COMPELS GROUP KADDISH IN ASHKENAZ

But how did it come to the non-Chassidic world, which follows the משנה ברורה and does go by the rules of the פוסקים?

So we have a number of historical factors, from the beginning of the nineteenth century C.E. One was Napoleon Bonaparte. To some extent he is responsible for such a turn in our history, our religious history.

Now that’s puzzling! What does Napoleon have to do with our קדישים?

Well, Napoleon was a big conqueror, he conquered almost every part of Europe and he established new states, one of which was the Kingdom of Westphalia. He let his brother, Jerome-Napoleon, rule it. He had the new ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity (equality, freedom, brotherhood), and wanted to make the Jews equal to everybody else, and make their religion equal as well. So he established the Consistoire, which meddled in the religious lives of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. He opened churches for all three. The Consistoire, ruling Jewish life, instituted reforms, appointing reform motivated individuals to introduce all types of reforms, (relatively) mild reforms, in Jewish life. Amongst them was the group kaddish.

The group kaddish was very much an idea of democratization, and equality. You know, because of ideas of equality, of rights, they (also) forbade to call up to עליות to the Torah by names (יעמוד פב”פ) because some people are called up by titles (e.g. יעמוד מורנו הרב)……Inequality! Can’t fit in with the regime of Napolean Bonaparte! So they didn’t call up anybody by name – they gave out cards instead (of which practice there is a remnant in some synagogues today). Another thing they didn’t like was priorities in kaddish. Why should there be priorities in kaddish? We want everybody to have the right to say kaddish! They abolished the priorities in kaddish and forced the group kaddish on German Jewish communities under them. Obviously, as soon as this regime collapsed, after not so many years, it was rejected strongly by all the German rabbis – but it slowly leaked into Eastern Europe (see more on this  in הישיבה הרמה בפיורדא, v.II, p. 410-417).

RAV AKIVA EIGER AND GROUP KADDISH

And here we find an interesting part in this, played by the great master Rav Akiva Eiger. What happened? How does Rav Akiva Eiger come into this story?

In the year 1831 C.E. there was a great epidemic in Europe, which cost the lives of thousands upon thousands of people. Cholera. Hundreds of thousands died. It hit Jewish communities hard as well, including Posen, where Rav Akiva Eiger was the Rav. And Rav Akiva Eiger was confronted with strong pain, of people desiring to say קדיש for their loved ones. He was under enormous pressure to give them a היתר for group kaddish. So he gave them a heter. The great Rav Akiva Eiger. And he said, he writes in his own handwriting, ‘in chodesh Av in 5591/1831 when the cholera started here in our town, there were so many אבלים, they needed קדיש, I made a takanah allowing group kaddish, for one year only…..he gave a heter for one year only …and after that year, by the following ראש חודש אב,  boruch Hashem, the epidemic stopped, people stopped dying, the trouble was over, so I said now we stop it, it was a הוראת שעה (strictly temporary enactment). It was then not allowed any more generally, only one kaddish a day was still allowed as a group kaddish. So this was stated by Rav Akiva Eiger (פסקים ותקנות רעק”א, ירושלים תשל”א, עמ’ סג-סד, brought in note 114, on p.455 of הישיבה הרמה בפיורדא, חלק ב).

But then people came later and they said, if the great Rav Akiva Eiger could allow it in his town, in his time, so we can allow it in our time, unlimited, anytime we need a kaddish. If it’s good enough for R. Akiva Eiger, its good enough for us. There is a misconception, many people go around and say, if R. Akiva Eiger allowed it, R. Akiva Eiger allowed a group kaddish…..

But I have a discovery, which I found two days ago – I think you’re the first ones to hear of it. We found a manuscript of his son, Rav Shlomo Eiger, his successor in the רבנות of Posen, and he refers to this הוראה of his father,  re the group kaddish, and I read from this newly discovered manuscript, which has never been published (passage can now be seen in note 115, on p.455 of הישיבה הרמה בפיורדא, חלק ב) –

‘It’s clear to my mind that what my late father זכרונו לברכה, the great Rav Akiva Eiger, instituted for everybody to say kaddish together, it was not his wish at all, rather it was against his will. But he found a היתר to be מתיר an איסור – note that he refers to it as an issur (prohibition). There was a terrible psychological need for the common people. צורך ההמון he calls it – psychological need. At the time of the cholera people were panicking – trying to do anything they could to help the deceased. He says that we find a similar היתר also with a יאהרצייט licht that goes out בין השמשות, where you can call a non-Jew and it can be lit again through him, because of psychological need. But those תלמידי חכמים who say a group קדיש דרבנן after a שיעור? What is their היתר to say such a group kaddish? It is not meant for talmidei chachomim! It is meant for common people who have psychological need. Am haaratzim, המון עם. Don’t lean on my father Rav Akiva Eiger (for a general blanket היתר for group kaddish)! That is a discovery, which I must say, is an eye opener in the whole sugya of Rav Akiva Eiger and group kaddish.

RAV YAAKOV EMDEN AND GROUP KADDISH

Now, when the Consistoire in Westphalia came to introduce the group kaddish, as well as other new היתרים that never existed before, they tried to give it a halachic image, or to find halachic grounds to support them……… For example, they instituted that all אשכנזים should start eating קיטניות on פסח – not only they allowed them to, they forced רבנים by a decree to start eating it, as non-Ashkenazim do. They found an opinion that the issur of kitniyos did not logically apply to their times, and they claimed that in times of war, of shortage of food, it was okay, and went as far as forcing רבנים to eat it. They found the חכם צבי and רב יעקב עמדין, his son, who both stated their views that today it doesn’t make sense, because today the grains are not all mixed as in ancient times. However they themselves only brought up the idea that they believed there is no room for it anymore in our times, but didn’t introduce it practically, and did not rely on it themselves.

The same thing, with these two great gedolim, applies with group kaddish. They lived in Portugese communities, Spanish Jews, Marranos in their places, Hamburg, Amsterdam, London. Marranos who fled one hundred years after the great exile of Spanish Jews in 1492, and established beautiful flourishing communities in Western Europe. They were Sepharadic places, so they observed Sephardic practices, observing what might be worthy to learn from them. But again, they never practically introduced it, never said that it was proper for an Ashkenazi to rely on a Sepahardic heter.

WHAT RAV YAAKOV EMDEN’S POSITION REALLY WAS

But the Rabbis that were engaged in the Consistoire of Westphalia took advantage of the expression of Rav Yaakov Emden in this matter and they brought him down as the model for a Rabbi trying to practically institute it (למעשה).

Therefore I find it perhaps worth our while to bring the exact quotation of Rav Yaakov Emden on this matter, and see if he really wanted to institute it practically. So I will read it out for you, see what Rav Yaakov Emden really says. He says it in his סידור, the very famous רב יעקב עמדין siddur, perhaps the most important siddur of an אחרון. We find no acharon on his level who makes his own siddur. The siddur itself, and commentary on the siddur. He publishes his own siddur, in his own lifetime. In his own house. עמודי שמים and שערי שמים. Two volumes.

When it comes to kaddeishim, he says that he will not count out קדימות (priorities) in קדישים, which are given elsewhere……..כבר דברו בו מספיק גדולי האחרונים (it has already been sufficiently discussed by the great later authorities)………anyway, מה טוב ומה ישר הוא מנהג ספרדים, that more than one person says it. No מחלוקת, no competition….so you don’t have to go into all those דינים of who goes first. If you really want to know the קדימות, see שלחן ערוך, לבוש, other מפרשים, see there.

But after having said that, which is the passage proponents of group kaddish like to quote, they miss two points. Firstly, people miss out that he says go look it up (the קדימות)….he doesn’t say you don’t have to do it – he says look elsewhere for the information. He says I like it (the Sepharadic way), but he doesn’t say ‘I am a Sepharadi’. Additionally, he says, you know אשכנזים have a מנהג that the last day of saying קדיש in the אבילות year (called יום הפסקה- the day people stop saying kaddish), you know people say kaddish for eleven months, not twelve months, because we don’t want the deceased to appear as a רשע (wicked person), who we are taught has twelve months in גיהנום. On the last day of his קדיש, the last day of the eleventh month, he gets the top priority, he gets all the קדישים of that day, everyone else is pushed aside.

So this only applies only according to those who go by the Ashkenazic מנהג, that only one person says kaddish. Comes Rav Yaakov Emden and says, I want to warn you….When you finish the last day of the eleventh month, you should stop (saying kaddish) then, and not go by the practice of the Sepharadim who have a pesak that you can go on for another week and stop after eleven and a quarter months, a week later. So we see that Rav Yaakov Emden didn’t actually follow the Sepharadic minhag. He himself says that he stopped right after the eleventh month, like Ashkenazim….This same Rav Yaakov Emden who wrote that it was very nice what Sepharadim did, never tried to introduce the same among Ashkenazim.

WHY THESE INNOVATIONS WERE REJECTED IN ASHKENAZ

The reason why in the German communities, like where Mr. Rosenberg came from, they did not go by this new היתר, is primarily because they knew exactly where it came from. It did not come from the רבנים like Rav Akiva Eiger, it did definitely not come from the חתם סופר. It was one of the early Reform steps, from the Consistoire.

Rav Yaakov Ettlinger was also a German Rav. You all heard of him, the ערוך לנר, his seforim are learned all over in Yeshivos. He was once queried about this by someone asking if it’s right for his community to adopt this new Sfardishe minhog of group kaddish, citing for support the words of Rav Yaakov Emden. His response was as follows. You call it a great תקנה to go along with the group kaddish? To change a מנהג ישראל which prevailed in אשכנז, prevailed in Europe, not only in Western Europe, but also in Eastern Europe, for hundreds and hundreds of years, ever since we had קדיש יתום, we had it that only one person said a kaddish, and you want to follow מתחדשים, the reformers who instituted this, and have changed so many other things of תפלה as well? No, no, no, one should not do it (תשובות בנין ציון, קכב).

OTHERS WHO REJECT THE GROUP KADDISH

And the interesting thing is, we think that, okay, some Yekkes still obey this rule, they don’t say group kaddish, some Litvakes still obey this rule, those that go by the Chazon Ish, for example,…but Sepharadim all do say it. However, we find that that even some Sepharadim, like those of the Tunisian Jewish capital, Djerba, according to their Rabbanim, even in our time they are very מקפיד that only one person says קדיש.

Anyway, I was trying to show the historical development, that initially everyone had the single קדיש, and then ספרדים started with group kaddish, then חסידים started it, then some  אשכנזים followed……………but there are still some pockets that do not go by Rav Yaakov Emden’s idea, but go by R. Yaakov Emden’s פסק, not to change, and they say a single kaddish.

CONCLUSION

Tonight, בעזרת השם – in America it’s not night yet – I’m sure that there will be people saying kaddish for Mr. Rosenberg. Whether they will be saying group or a single kaddish, I don’t know, but we all hope that the idea of kaddish, the power of kaddish is to get the people to answer אמן יהא שמיה רבה…. There’s a חתם סופר that says that the core of kaddish is to bring people to answer אמן יהא שמיה רבה. What is the idea of amein yihei shmei rabbah…? The great name of Hashem should be blessed in all worlds, at all times. By declaring that הקדוש ברוך הוא is the Almighty, all we have, by doing this, biezras Hashem, the נשמה should have a great עליה, the neshomo of Mr. Rosenberg.

And we should be זוכה…….the Yekkes have a beautiful ברכה on a יאהרצייט……….they say to a person who has the yohrzeit, they say to him….’עד ביאת הגואל’…and the בעל היאהרצייט answers ‘במהרה בימינו…אמן’. So we repeat together with them, ad bias hagoel, bimheira biyomeinu, אמן!

Rosh Chodesh bentching controversies – חילוקי דעות ומנהגים בברכת החודש

April 1, 2011

לכבוד שבת מברכים ר”ח ניסן התשע”א הבע”ל

ברכת החודש, aka Rosh Chodesh bentching, has, in the last few centuries, grown greatly in size, and been transformed from a short tefilloh into a a great and elaborate part of the davening, in many places.

The major change was made by taking a tefilloh from the gemara, תפלת רב, starting with the words יהי רצון מלפניך (from תלמוד בבלי, ברכות טז,ב, near bottom, see here), which is not related to Rosh Chodesh there, adding a few words to the beginning related to rosh chodesh, and making it the opening of that segment of the davening. Over time, it became a main focus of chazonim and chazonus, and of women who came to Shul for rosh chodesh bentching.

But not everyone has gone along with the changes. Gedolei olam like the Chasam Sofer, Noda biYehudah, and the Gaon of Vilna, opposed the incorporation of tefillas Rav there. It is not seen in the (original – later versions have been greatly altered, and even transformed from nusach Ashkenaz to Sfard, as has been done with other siddurim as well, such as siddur Chasam Sofer, a subject perhaps for later discussion) siddur that Rav Yaakov Emden issued either. They held that since we know that it is not permitted to ask for individual needs, such as פרנסה – livelihood, on Shabbos, being that תפלת רב contains many such requests, it was not appropriate for recitation then. And it was not there before, so why change things and add it, if previous generations didn’t? So the מנהג אשכנז, in places like Frankfurt a Main, the renowned bastion of ancient minhog, was not to say it. למעשה, as רבש”ה pointed out in a shiur, we see sometimes that people get very emotional during ראש חודש bentching, even to the point of crying. Especially women perhaps (if one is allowed to say that nowadays ;-). And some chazonim get into it like that as well. However, that is a big problem, since people are not supposed to cry on Shabbos! Shabbos is a time of שמחה!

רבש”ה also related interestingly that once a woman came to his Shul to daven on Shabbos mevorchim, and afterward was very scared that she would not live through the month, since they didn’t say the tefillas Rav which asks for חיים ארוכים. It didn’t occur to her that people that stick to that old nusach omitting it, have ב”ה been doing so for centuries, and, בחסדי השי”ת, continuing בחיים.

But that was not the only place where this issue arose לגבי שבת מברכים. It also manifested itself later, at the end of Rosh Chodesh bentching. After the חזן proclaims aloud when Rosh Chodesh will fall, the ציבור proceeds to say the short tefilloh of יחדשהו הקב”ה עלינו ועל כל עמו וכו. The נוסח אשכנז version of that tefilloh ends with the words לחיים ולשלום, לששון ולשמחה, לישועה ולנחמה ונאמר אמן, while a Sfard version is longer and contains בקשות for things like פרנסה, רפואה, וגשמים בעתם. As above with tefillas Rav, the latter version is viewed as more problematic by nusach Ashkenaz, due to the issue of שאלת צרכים בשבת. Therefore, people who stick carefully to nusach Ashkenaz, do not accept the longer Sfardishe nusach. This is the predominant minhog in חו”ל. In Eretz Yisroel, some people believe erroneously, that to say the longer nusach is incumbent upon them due to an alleged ‘מנהג ארץ ישראל’ (re which see here). In the famous Lederman Shul in Bnei Brak, however, they do not say it. Rav Chaim Kanievsky שליט”א explained, in the name of the Chazon Ish, that they conduct themselves that way because it is assur to be marbeh in bakoshos on Shabbos (לוח ארש מהדורת אוצרנו תשס”א, דף תר)

. א גוטען שבת און א פרייליכען חודש