Posts Tagged ‘Shabbos’

Did you bless your children tonight (Motzaei Shabbos)? Birkas Habonim elucidated – A Minhag Ashkenaz nugget -ביאורים במנהג ברכת הבנים בשבת

May 29, 2011

Dear readers – I have been working on some special pieces, בעזרת השי”ת, but the more original and high quality and lengthy something is, the more time and effort it may take, which can mean less posting (quality over quantity and frequency). So I leave you high and dry sometimes with no new posts for a while.

But I know that there is a great thirst out for the beautiful and unique type of Torah that we are zoche to from רבש”ה. So I am thinking of to fill that kind of gap, taking some short pieces from רבש”ה to hopefully sustain you in the interim. Sort of like Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz nuggets. So here is one such nugget, on the minhog of ברכת הבנים, the bentching of children, taken from a shiur given by רבש”ה a few years ago. Enjoy!


Many Jews give their children a blessing, a brocho, birkas habonim, on שבת. Most people who heard of it, who know of it, who do it, who practice this, do it only Friday night, but the original מנהג, as it came down from the ראשונים, was to do it after every major tefilloh of שבת, which means Friday night after davening, Shabbos morning after davening, and מוצאי שבת after davening. And if people are so surprised I’m talking about Motzaei Shabbos, I can tell them (that) the משנה ברורה mentions it in הלכות תשעה באב, that is, if you usually give a brocho on Motzaei Shabbos, and this Motzaei Shabbos falls out on Tisha be’Av, then you do not give the ברכה. But that is the exception to the rule, only מוצאי תשעה באב is it so. But most שבתות are not Motzaei Tisha be’Av, so there is room for giving a brocho for the children on Motzaei Shabbos. This applies to fathers and mothers, and grandparents to their grandchildren, etc.


Now why three times? Because the brocho which we give to our children is an extension of a brocho which we give to everybody else. We meet our friends in Shul after davening, what do we say to them? Gut Shabbos. What is Gut Shabbos? It’s a brocho (like good morning, להבדיל). But with your own child, you extend the brocho, you say something else, you add something, ישימך אלקים כאפרים וכמנשה, or יברכך ה’ וישמרך. When do you say Good Shabbos? When do we say Gut Voch? After maariv, after shacharis umusaf, and after maariv Motzaei Shabbos. Not after mincha. Why not after mincha? Many people do not know the reason.מען זאגט נישט גוט  שבת נאך מנחה(‘one doesn’t say good Shabbos after mincha’). Some people do say it, because they do not know the reason for the minhog not to do so. The reason we do not say it after מנחה, was because (in the old minhag Ashkenaz) people would not leave Shul then. Either because of a shiur or because of aveilus for משה רבנו, they never left Shul. There are still places today where it is so, where they sit in Shul, they have a shiur, etc., they don’t leave Shul then. If you don’t leave Shul you don’t say good Shabbos. ..and therefore there’s no room for an extension of the brocho (of גוט שבת) because there’s no brocho altogether. There are some people nowadays that have come back to this מנהג of blessing the children not just on Friday night, but rather they bless them three times around Shabbos.


Dear readers – do any of you do this (bentch the children three times around a typical Shabbos)? Do most bentch them just once a Shabbos? I believe that some people only bentch their children on erev Yom Kippur. Anyone know where that comes from? Please feel free to chime in if you can help us here. Thanks in advance.

P.S. I think that ברכת הבנים, done properly, can be beautiful, and strengthen the relationship between parents and children. Birkas habonim as a way of showing love and strengthening familial bonds. Hope that doesn’t sound like modern psychobabble. What do you think?

(Possible) Remnant of Beis Hamikdosh disappearing! !שריד בית המקדש הולך ונעלם

April 3, 2011

(Endangered minhog #1)

The strains of an ancient melody, preserved for eons, reputed to be from the בית המקדש, are heard less and less these days.

I am referring to the tune for תהלים קמד (Psalm 144), לדוד ברוך, and תהלים סז (Psalm 67), למנצח בנגינות, traditionally sung in Shuls just before ברכו on מוצאי שבת.

There is a tradition that this tune comes from no less than the לויים (Levites) in the Beis Hamikdosh!

Gevald! געוואלד געשריגען!!!!!!!!

Where are all the activists and committees to save this priceless part of our heritage?

We beseech הקב”ה to rebuild the בית המקדש. But here we have a remnant of it, that is, in many places (not everywhere, ברוך השם in some places it is still lovingly preserved) neglected and ignored, forgotten and unknown.

There are people that learn the portions of the תורה related to the בית המקדש. Some have even been working on figuring out how to make בגדים and כלים for it. Such work can be difficult and expensive. Here we have a simple melody that we can use to keep a connection to that Holy Place, costing no money, and taking just a short amount of time. In addition to other great benefits of this minhog, which are explicated in שרשי מנהג אשכנז חלק א, and in the new English Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz synopsis volume.

So how about it folks? Why not speak to people in your Shul/minyan about this? Speak to the Rav and the gabbaim. What a beautiful way to transition at the end of Shabbos, right before ברכו, to serenade the departing שבת המלכה, and ease the shift from קודש to חול! And if your grandfather, and great-grandfather, and great-great grandfather, and on and on, going back, did so at the end of Shabbos, hey, that can’t hurt, can it? Oh, you say, it is not your minhog. I don’t want to introduce a new minhog. Well, I have news for you. It is your minhog, and it is not new at all. It has just, for some reason, been lost in some places, for a relatively short period of time, relatively recently. But it can be brought back! להחזיר עטרה ליושנה is not just a concept for ספרדים (who, by the way, have a minhag of לדוד ברוך as well). And this is not a Yekke minhog either (although they do it too). It is a minhog of Eastern European Jews, which the משנה ברורה praises highly (סימן רצג, סעיף קטן א) , and of Central European Jews (such as those of Oberlander heritage), as well as Western European Ashkenazim. So that means אשכנזים of American, European and ארץ ישראל background. So basically all of us.

Here are the ancient sounds, as sung by ר’ מיכאל פרידמאן, the chazan of K’hal Adas Yeshurun of ירושלים עיה”ק.

לדוד ברוך and למנצח בנגינות.

There is almost a full week left to practice, to be ready to sing this ancient tune next motzaei Shabbos, the first motzaei Shabbos of Nissan, in a way the first motzaei Shabbos of the year. Start the new year off with a bang!

The traditional way to do it is בציבור. However, if for some reason the tzibbur you are with is not singing it, I don’t see why you couldn’t do it yourself, individually, respectfully. Until such time as the tzibbur arises and does it as well.

In the zechus of preserving this remnant of בית ה, we should be zoche to ביאת משיח צדקנו and בנין בית המקדש, בב”א.

Cf  Endangered minhogim list

Askinu seudasa – The minhog NOT to say/sing it – אתקינו סעודתא – המנהג שלא לומר או לזמר אותו

March 4, 2011

אתקינו סעודתא, a Kabbalistic zemer in Aramaic from the Arizal, which is a few hundred years old,  is widely sung these days at Shabbos seudos, even in some non Chassidic places. Especially at סעודה שלישית. How many people understand it is another matter.

It  may be less well known that there are those who specifically have refrained from, or opposed such a practice.

It is hard for people to abstain when a group is singing something, with a lively tune, especially in our culture that puts such value on being part of a tzibbur and going along with the group. But people should know that there are differences of opinion about this practice.

What if your minhog is not to sing it? What if your father didn’t? Which is the case I found myself in. I felt that it was not my minhog, but didn’t fully understand why (beyond perhaps a vague feeling that ‘we don’t get into that heavy Kabbalistic stuff’, at least not in public). And then some could say, hey, your father didn’t sing it, but was he opposed to it, or maybe he just didn’t grow up with it? Is abstaining from something a minhog davka (specifically) not to do it, or just a neutral stance, no minhog on the matter either way, which would not be in opposition to someone adopting it if he wishes?

Recently, while glancing at a Torah journal by the name of צפונות, from ארץ ישראל in תשמ”ט, א, לד-ה, I noticed a piece there with a תשובה (responsum) from the  מהר”ם שיק, senior talmid of the חתם סופר, who was asked if it should be said.

The  מהר”ם שיק says that he doesn’t say it and neither did the חתם סופר. The reason he gives is that we are not on that level, just as it is brought down in Shulchan Aruch (שו”ע או”ח סימן ג, הלכה א)  that we nowadays do not say התכבדו מכובדים before entering the בית הכסא, so kal vachomer this שיר, which is even holier.

I asked רב בנימין שלמה המבורגר שליט”א about it and he furnished me with additional information on the matter, as follows.

The Chasam Sofer’s son, Rav Shimon Sofer, the מכתב סופר, reported that the Chasam Sofer did not say the zemiros of the Arizal אסדר לסעודתא, אזמר בשבחין, ובני היכלא because “עס איסט צו פיעל ארויסגעזאגט”  it expresses too much openly of matters that should be more hidden (brought in באר מרים introduction to מכתב סופר). Esoteric, Kabbalistic manners are not for every person. One should be on a high level, a holy person to get involved with such things.

מהר”ם א”ש, the famous talmid of the Chasam Sofer and Rav of Ungvar, didn’t say it either, as brought down here, a little less than halfway down the page, in the paragraph starting קודם סעודת צהרים, where it states לא מלאו לבו לומר האתקינו סעודתא ולומר דא היא סעודתא.

The בן איש חי brings (בן איש חי, שנה ב’, פרשת חיי שרה, סעיף יג) that even among Sepharadic mekubbalim there were those that refrained from saying it due to פחד. And he concludes by saying that ‘we are not נוהג to say it at all‘!. And he was a great מקובל!

Western European Sepharadim, in London and Amsterdam, also didn’t say it, as reported in sefer כתר שם טוב of רב שם טוב גאגין, חלק א’ עמוד רא

So quite a line up of gedolim there who didn’t say it, for various reasons. So there are definite grounds for a practice/מנהג to refrain. And if you refrain from it for the reasons mentioned by the above גדולי עולם, I dare say that you are definitely מקבל שכר על הפרישה (are rewarded for refraining).

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