Posts Tagged ‘Minhag HaGR”A’

Hallel in Shul on Pesach night – Understanding the basis of the מנהג אשכנז to refrain – מדוע א”א הלל בבית הכנסת בליל הסדר בפסח לפי מסורת אשכנז

April 18, 2011

(An important post from a few years ago, improved and updated, and moved to the front page for review, as Seder night approaches)

Singular Hallel, for a singular evening, or a duplicated Hallel? 

All proper Jews say הלל, praising הקדוש ברוך הוא, on פסח night, during the סדר. This joyous recitation is one of the highlights of the evening. Some others, however, recite it a second time that night as well, in Shul. It is the latter custom, to do a double recitation of Hallel, and the stance of מנהג אשכנז toward it, that is the subject of this posting.

A few years ago, I received a booklet of circa seventy pages from מכון מורשת אשכנז on the topic of הלל בבית הכנסת בליל פסח. It was a greatly expanded version of the chapter on the subject in שרשי מנהג אשכנז חלק א (app. fifteen pages), by רבש”ה, of ten years earlier.

It is a very thorough treatment of the subject from various angles, that shows very clearly, based on ancient (as well as more  recent), classical sources, that הלל on פסח night is, according to our holy מסורה, properly recited only at home, during the seder, בשעה שמצה ומרור מנחים לפניך, and not a second time in Shul at night as well. I highly recommend it.

For those who are not clear about the issue, and don’t have access to the aforementioned booklet, I will write some words, a combination of what I saw there, mixed with some of my own thoughts.

Looking at the Sources

The practice to say Hallel in Shul, in addition to the recitation at home during the seder, is not mentioned in the גמרא. It is contained in what is referred to as מסכת סופרים, a later compilation of teachings that were deliberately excluded from the גמרא, that is not on the level of the Talmud, where it is mentioned for people who were not learned (yes, believe it or not, not everyone learned in ישיבה and כולל for many years then ;-), and could not be relied upon to say it properly on their own, at home during the seder.

The רמ”א states clearly that we don’t say it. The משנה ברורה and ערוך השלחן do so as well. Interestingly, even the שלחן ערוך הרב, authored by the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, states that ‘we do not read it in Shul in these countries’ in his code of law (though in his siddur, which was made for his Chassidim, he says to do so).

Yemenite minhag not to duplicate Hallel on seder night

Also worthy of note is that Yemenite congregations that hew to their ancient minhog, mostly those categorized as Baladi, also do not say it.

What did the GRA, the Gaon of Vilna, do?

Some claim that מנהג הגר”א is to say הלל in Shul on Pesach night. However, that is not listed as a practice of the Gaon in the well known work מעשה רב, which records his minhogim. If the Gaon would have said Hallel in Shul, in opposition to the general minhag Lita around him, it would have certainly stood out and been sufficiently noteworthy to qualify for inclusion there. That omission speaks volumes. What seems to have happened is that some of the פרושים in ארץ ישראל  got it from the local ספרדים, among other non-Ashkenaz practices such as chalaka/upsherin, saying אין כאלקינו daily, and an expanded version of יחדשהו in ראש חודש bentching, for example, as when they settled in ירושלים circa two centuries ago, they were not permitted to have their own Shul for some time by the government, and had to daven with the ספרדים in order not to stand out. The ספרדים then were dominant there, and they had to subjugate themselves to them, and try to blend in.

Gedolim who said Hallel only once on seder night, even after moving to Eretz Yisroel 

Staunch advocates of the ancient Ashkenaz tradition not to duplicate Hallel on that night who came later on to ארץ ישראל, when אשכנזים were able to practice their faith and מנהגים more freely, rejected this anachronistic, submissive stance to Sepharadic (later Sepharadic – early Sepharadic practice in Spain didn’t have it either, but that is another discussion, עיין שם) practice, and maintained the מנהג אשכנז of saying it only once, during the סדר. For example the גרי”ז, Rav Velvel Soloveichik, whose refraining from saying הלל in Shul then was well known (שו”ת תשובות והנהגות חלק ב, סימן רמ”ה, הגש”פ מועדים וזמנים, ירושלים תש”מ, עמוד נ-נא), and the דעת סופר, Rav Akiva Sofer of Pressburg.

It seems quite ironic that at the very outset of the חג הגאולה, during זמן חרותינו, the festival of freedom, when ב”ה we are free to practice our ancestral faith, some people still slavishly follow a practice that some of our brethren were compelled into doing, in opposition to their ancestral מנהג. Presumably they just don’t know what the background of the matter is.

Another big problem with it to me, on an experiential level, in addition to all the other issues, is doing the same thing twice on one night. People should rather do it once correctly. Doing it twice the same night diminishes the experience.

If one finds themselves in a place where Hallel is duplicated, how should one act? מעשה רב ממרן הגרי”ז זצ”ל

Another angle to this issue, that should be addressed, is the situation that arises at times when people whose minhog is not to say it, are davening where they do say it. Sometimes such people are cajoled (by themselves – or imagine feeling so, perhaps a figment of their imagination? – or others), and convinced into believing that they must join the recitation, with the argument that it is not proper to be פורש מן הציבור. However, in that regard, they should know that when the Brisk’er Rav, the גרי”ז, was in such a situation, he would exit, and go to another room (סדר הערוך לרמ”י וינגרטן, פרק כח, הערה 16).

להבחל”ח הגאון ר’ שמואל קמנצקי שליט”א, the Gaon Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlit”a, has paskened that if someone who follows Ashkenaz minhog in this is in a place where Hallel is said, he should leave unobstrusively – and furthermore, if he cannot do so, he should recite Tehillim during the Hallel – but not Hallel itself!

The trend of continually adding on new things, at the expense of the old, is not recommended. As חז”ל teach us,  כל המוסיף גורע – whoever adds, subtracts. On the other hand, the one that follows the minhog of his holy אשכנז ancestors, is הולך בעקבי צאן קדשים, and is הולך בטח, striding securely in the steps of his forefathers.

In the zechus of following the מנהגים of our holy ancestors, may we be זוכה to have a meaningful and proper יום טוב.


Minhag Eretz Yisroel – What is it? Who is the mara de’asra in Eretz Yisroel? מיהו המרא דארעא קדישא?

March 11, 2011

Rafi, of the fine Life in Israel blog, recently reported about a very interesting case, related to a phenomenon of some Sepharadim adopting Ashkenazic practices. He mentioned the position of Chacham R. Ovadia Yosef shlit”a, that Rav Yosef Karo, aka מרן, Maran hamechaber of the שלחן ערוך, is the mara de’ara (halachic authority) in Eretz Yisroel.

I would like to share with you some thoughts that I heard in a talk by Rav Hamburger about this inyan, who discussed from a minhag Ashkenaz viewpoint, the inyan of מנהג ארץ ישראל, and also touched on the issue of מנהג ירושלים as well.

This is an edited rendering from my notes, not an exact transcription. I cannot guarantee every word, but I attempted to transmit the basic ideas properly.

I want to re-analyze what is מנהג ארץ ישראל. I am living in Eretz Yisroel over fifty years, I don’t know yet what is מנהג ארץ ישראל.

He goes on to describe a street in Bnei Brak. “… there are אפשר seven apartment houses of twelve apartments each and fifteen shuls. And each Shul is different. This is a Bukharan shul, this is a Yemenite, this is Sfardi,…this is the Kuzhmirer, this is the Spinker, and everything…” ……. two brands of Spinka…. now we’ve got three Vizhnitz in Bnei Brak….This is (a singular and unitary) מנהג ארץ ישראל?

He goes on to talk about מנהג ירושלים :

מנהג ירושלים, this is considered to be the epitome of מנהג ארץ ישראל. Rav Shlomo Zalman (Auerbach זצ”ל) told (a relation of his) that I have a kabboloh, from Rav Dovid Baharan, Rav Dovid Baharan was a poseik in Yerusholayim, az ‘oib einer vet kumen tzu eich un vet zogen dos iz minhag Yerusholayim, zolst vissen, er iz a ligener, veilst s’iz nisht doh kein מנהג ירושלים’ (there is no single [unitary] minhag Yerusholayim).

Farvos iz nit doh aza zach (Why not)? Who was the first Yerushalmi? …..דוד המלך. He conquered the place…….. His minhogim, besides saying Tehillim………I don’t know of from his minhogim a link to מנהג ירושלים.

After that, we have a more detailed account of minhog Yerusholayim, which is Talmud Yerushalmi. ..מנהג ירושלים. You can’t have much more ירושלים than the תלמוד ירושלמי. And after that, we have the Mustarbim, the old people that were left in Eretz Yisroel after the churban. You know what the Mustarbim are? I explained it yesterday to my audience. You have American Jews. You have Hungarian Jews. An Ingarishe Yid. A Deitche Yid. A Moroccaner Yid. You have, a Poylishe Yid. There was a term of ’Arabishe Yid’. An Arabishe Yid. In today’s terms it doesn’t sound politically correct……they used to call it, in (the) Middle East, in Arabic, must’arab. Musa is Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe Rabbeinu, Musa. Abu Musa. Musa Arab. Must’arab. So these are the old Eretz Yisroel’dike Yidden, which remained after the time of the churban. But they were am horatzim. Their minhogim were taken from (elsewhere, from) the Rambam. They took everything from the רמב”ם. Later on, the Beis Yosef, after the big exile of the Spanish Jews, they had the בית יוסף coming to צפת, and we had the אריז”ל coming to Tzefas. And from now on we have two trends. Some people go by the Beis Yosef and some people go by the Arizal. Look at Rav Ovadiah Yosef. He has such a struggle. ….. He goes by the בית יוסף, the others (among Sepharadim/Eidot Hamizrach) go by the אריז”ל……

And after that came a Yid, a Frankfurt’er Yid gradeh, של”ה הקדוש, he was the Rav of Frankfurt, and, he had his own minhogim. He accepted from the Sepharadim three or four minhogim which he counts in the beginning of his sefer, his siddur Shaarei shomayim. שערי שמים is a siddur which the Shelah composed in Eretz Yisroel because ארץ ישראל is shaar hashomayim. So the סדור של”ה is an Eretz Yisroel’dike siddur, and there he has got tefillin (wearing on) chol hamoed, he has got boruch Hashem leolam amein viamein, he has all these things. It didn’t occur to him that because it’s ארץ ישראל he has to do Sfard’ishe minhogim.

So what’s מנהג ארץ ישראל so far? We have Mustarbim, Arizal, Beis Yosef, and the Shelah.

…..Shpeter zenen gekumen (later came) תלמידי הבעל שם טוב…They didn’t do any of their minhogim (going by) the Sepharadim. Efsher here and there, but generally not ….The Baal hatanya, anyway, the בעל התניא took the Arizal as his model…..The Chassidim did not accept the Sfardishe minhogim. Okay, besides a few things that fitted… the חסידים and the ספרדים are not exactly identical in minhogim. Very far from it. And later on came, after them, came תלמידי הגר”א. They (generally) did what they liked, what fit what the Gaon did. So you have all kinds of walks of life, all kinds of communities.

(In more recent years) when people of Ashkenaz origin came to Eretz Yisroel, they have been told ‘this is minhog Eretz Yisroel’. (The minhog of the) פרושים…… (But) The (Vilna) Gaon himself was never in Eretz Yisroel. Why is he the master there then? Why not the Beis Yosef? Why not the Arizal? Why not the Mustarbim? Why not the Rambam? The רמב”ם is considered מרא דארעא דישראל by many people still. The Rambam was niftar here, he was brought here. The (Vilna) Gaon never came here. So there are many question marks, what’s minhog Eretz Yisroel. And limayseh, if you walk around, in ירושלים, in בני ברק, in every town, you find all walks of life (different eidos, kehillos, shitos)

עד כאן

So basically there are different shitos about who is the מרא דארעא קדישא.

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