Posts Tagged ‘Shliach tzibbur’

The Special Experience of Chanukah Lighting at Khal Adas Jeshurun (‘Breuer’s’) – הדלקת נר חנוכה בק”ק קהל עדת ישורון, וואשינגטאן הייטס, ניו יורק

December 2, 2013

The הדלקת נר חנוכה at KAJ (‘Breuer’s’) is traditionally a special experience.

Now, thanks to the generosity of GWCTD, those who could not experience it in person can get a taste of it even from afar.

Here is a video from the first night of this year’s Chanukah.

Note the following.

1) The beautiful בית הכנסת.

2) The chazan is wearing a tallis in the evening (I believe it is a short while after shekias hachamah). This is in accordance with Minhag Ashkenaz, in which the chazan/shliach tzibbur wears a tallis for tefillos mincha and arvis, as well as the morning tefillos (as we discussed in the past).

3) The way he is wearing it – draped over his arms (as opposed to a common practice among some of throwing back that part of the tallis back over the shoulders, leaving the arms uncovered by it).

4) The beautiful way the brachos are chanted by the chazan, following a traditional nusach. Each one takes close to a minute!

5) The special portable mini platform, upon which the chazan stands when lighting the menorah, after ascending three steps.

6) How the chazan descends after the lighting, taking special action to avoid turning his back to the aron kodesh.

7) The general decorum.

This is a great example of זה א-לי ואנוהו, upon which חז”ל comment התנאה לפניו במצות, as well as כבוד בית הכנסת ושמירת מנהגים קדושים.

Hopefully others will learn from this great example and act similarly. ומהם ילמדו וכן יעשו.

א ליכטיגען און פרייליכען חנוכה


The Case Of The Missing Tallis – Informality vs. Kavod Hatzibbur & Kavod HaTorah – הטלית האבוד : לבישת טלית לכבוד הציבור ולכבוד התורה בין האשכנזים

November 3, 2011

Ashkenazic tradition is to wear a טלית (gadol) in Shul even at times when such is not  generally worn by the congregation at large, for example at a weekday mincha davening, when one is carrying out certain tasks, e.g. acting as the שליח ציבור, or חזן, leading the prayers and representing the congregation. The same goes for when leading the evening tefilloh commonly referred to as ‘maariv’, when getting an aliyah or leining at תפלת מנחה of שבת, and other occasions.

This practice is faithfully followed to the present day in (German) Ashkenazic congregations, as well as elsewhere, for example Lithuanian type Yeshivos, and such type ‘Yeshivishe minyonim’.

In other places, e.g. many Eastern European Ashkenazic Shuls, there has been an erosion in this aspect of the Ashkenazic tradition, due to, it seems, Chassidic influence, as well as perhaps modern trends toward informality. In such places, one can see people going to the amud to lead the services at maariv, and sometimes even at mincha, without a tallis gadol. And also leining and going up for aliyos at mincha of Shabbos similarly.

Some people believe that they may not wear a tallis when standing before the amud at maariv it seems, with the reasoning being that לילה לאו זמן ציצית, evening is not the Biblically ordained time for tzitzis. But what they don’t realize is that a טלית is worn then according to minhag Ashkenaz, not for the mitzvoh of tzitzis, but rather, since it is the uniform of a shliach tzibbur, for the honor of the congregation. As an aside, I strongly suspect that those same people, while they are davening maariv, are wearing their טלית קטן, under their shirt, despite it being evening. That seems somewhat inconsistent.

What is even harder to understand is why such people don’t wear a tallis gadol when acting as shliach tzibbur for mincha, before nightfall, especially when they are davening some time before evening, e.g. if they are davening mincha, מנחה גדולה, during lunch break in an office building not long after chatzos hayom (midday). It is then broad daylight and far from night.

Wearing a tallis gadol during such occasions is an ancient and holy minhog, which brings a nice measure of majesty and respect to the divine services.

As the fine English Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz synopsis (translated by R. David Silverberg)  that came out around last Chanukah puts it, wearing a tallis at such times “serves as an expression of dignity and respect. In addition to its being the official garb of the chazzan……(it) also shows esteem for the Shekhina (Divine presence) and elicits a sense of reverence and awe.” The synopsis chapter concludes that people should then wear a tallis as an expression of respect for the congregation and הקדוש ברוך הוא.

Nowadays, thoughtful people are looking for ways to make תפילה more meaningful and less of a mechanical, rote practice. Here we have an ancient practice that can (ideally) significantly contribute to the above, which does not cost money – לית ביה חסרון כיס – as people already have talleisim. I humbly propose that this be considered in such a vein alongside other worthy measures. Hopefully, even if people have neglected it in the past, they will consider returning to it, as it is spiritually helpful and desirable, sends a  loud (though silent) message that there is something special going on where and when  it is practiced, is ancient מנהג, and is backed by great authority.

In the zechus of our actions to increase kavod hatzibbur, kavod hatefilloh, and kavod haTorah, may we be zoche that our תורה and תפלה become more meaningful, relevant, and powerful, and are נתקבל ברצון למעלה.

Sources – מקורות

In order to give more background to the above, here are some sources for the ancient minhog that every שליח ציבור wears a tallis gadol, not only in the morning (from the comprehensive twenty nine page chapter entitled טלית משום כבוד הציבור in שרשי מנהג אשכנז חלק א).

Basis – the minhog is derived from the gemara, תלמוד בבלי מסכת ראש השנה דף יז, עמוד ב, where it is stated מלמד שנתעטף הקב”ה כשליח ציבור. That tells us clearly that a typical shliach tzibbur is נתעטף. No distinction is made there between שחרית, מנחה, and ערבית.

R. Avrohom Gombiner, the מגן אברהם, in שו”ע או”ח, סימן ח’, סעיף קטן ב, states “דכל עובר לפני התיבה צריך להתעטף כדאמרי’ מלמד שנתעטף הקב”ה כש”ץ“.

The ט”ז, R. Dovid HaLevi Segal, in או”ח סימן תקפ”א, סעיף קטן ב, in a discussion re a shliach tzibbur wearing a tallis at night, writes ” דודאי בלא עטיפה כלל א”א משום כבוד השכינה“.

R. Yechiel Michel Epstein, the ערוך השלחן, in אורח חיים, סימן י”ח, סעיף ז, writes, referring to the gemara cited above, דכל ש”ץ העובר לפני התיבה צריך להתעטף בציצית.

R. Yisroel Meir HaCohen of Radin, the חפץ חיים, in his Mishnah Berurah, in או”ח סימן י”ח, סעיף קטן ה, writes “ וכל העובר לפני התיבה צריך להתעטף“.

Up For Grabs? The Contemporary Confusion About Kaddish After Krias Hatorah (Leining) – קדיש לאחר קריאת התורה – למי שייך? האם כל דאלים גבר

July 3, 2011

In the recent post about the problem of Sepharadic minhagim infiltrating into the Ashkenazic community via the Ashkenazim of ארץ ישראל with their Sepharadic influenced practices, one of the examples was the קדיש after קריאת התורה. Traditionally recited by the baal keriah, the practice in many Sepharadic places was changed in recent centuries, and it was given to mourners instead.

That issue deserves a post of its own, so people will אי”ה better be able to understand what is involved and what the fuss about it is, as it is important 1) on it’s own, 2) as a representative of the category, and 3) the discussion sheds light on other aspects of kaddish as well.

So I will try בעזרת השי”ת to explain what the problem is, based mostly on what I have learned from רבש”ה.

רבש”ה was asked, a number of years ago, in light of what is stated in the sefer פני ברוך (a popular contemporary work on אבלות, which has also been rendered into English and published by Artscroll under the title Mourning In Halachah, from which this mistaken practice is unfortunately given an additional platform to influence English speakers), that the kaddish recited after קריאת התורה belongs to mourners, what is the basis for the Ashkenazic practice that it is said davka (specifically) by the baal koreh (and not a mourner)?

He responded that the Ashkenazic minhog here is a continuation of the ancient practice that came down to us from the Gaonim and Rishonim (while the practice that the פני ברוך and Artscroll version thereof contains is a later distortion of Sepharadim,which some Ashkenazim adopted).

רבש”ה then makes a very trenchant observation. In various halachic literature, there is discussion about when there are multiple mourners, which gets preference. In those discussions, the different kaddeishim available for such are delineated (and distributed). However, notes רבש”ה, in all those discussions, not once is the kaddish after krias HaTorah included and allocated in such a framework! The reason being simply, because it was known that that kaddish belonged to the shliach tzibbur (baal kriah), and not to aveilim.

As was discussed previously, in some Sepharadic circles, due to the great desire of the masses to say kaddish, people engaged in questionable practices, such as saying kaddish together with the shatz, something that the Ben Ish Chai, complained about and tried to adddress. Until today though, in Sepharadic congregations, such practices continue.

The purpose of the kaddish after leining is explained by the ספר האשכול, האגור, והבית יוסף. In the words of the Beis Yosef…טעם על הקדישות שאומרים בתפלה..וקדיש אחר קריאת התורה, כי היא מצוה בפני עצמה. The kaddish is to make a separation between different segments of the davening. This kaddish serves the purpose of the tefillah, distinguishing between various segments  thereof. It was not instituted to serve mourners by giving them a chance/place to say it, unlike other kaddeishim.

רבש”ה goes on to bring quotes from over thirty authorities, from the Gaonic era to the present day, which show that this kaddish belongs to the שליח ציבור (baal keriah). These authorities cover a very great spectrum of גדולי עולם, such as Rav Amram Gaon, the Machzor Vitri, the Rambam, ראב”ד, ראבי”ה, רוקח, אור זרוע, אבודרהם, מהר”ם מרוטנבורג,שבלי הלקט, מאירי, מרדכי, בעל הטורים, מהרי”ל, בית יוסף, יעב”ץ, בעל התניא, ר’ אהרן מקארלין, ר’ וולף היידנהיים, מהר”ם בריסק, דברי יואל (סאטמאר), אגרות משה, מנחת שלמה (ר’ שלמה זלמן אויערבאך), וכו

As time went on, some Sepharadim started to give this kaddish to mourners, mainly in parts of North Africa, and in the area of Eretz Yisroel. But other Sepharadic Rabbonim opposed this change. As time passed, it became more widespread among Sepharadim, to the point that it was seen as a sort of trademark Sepharadic practice, that Ashkenazim did not practice, as Rav Ovadya Yosef wrote in his שו”ת יביע עומר, ח”ג יו”ד סי’ כו אות ד.

In some Chassidic circles, where there already existed an inclination to  Sepharadic things, they accepted to a limited degree this change, to transfer the kaddish after krias haTorah to a mourner. However, this was limited to a mourner that got the last aliyah, not a mourner that was not involved with the keriah, who just came over afterward to say kaddish. Over time though, that stipulation was forgotten and/or discarded (as sometimes happens when a limited heter is given, which may not be understood by the masses), with the great demand by mourners for oppportunities to say kaddish, and in some of these circles aveilim took over that  kaddish in general. However, even in the Chassidic camp, important and powerful figures, such as the דברי יואל of Satmar for one, were makpid that only the shatz (baal keriah) should say this kaddish, and this הקפדה among some Chassidim continues to this day.

As stated earlier, in the area around ארץ ישראל this new Sepharadic practice took root, despite the fact that earlier Sepharadic authorities didn’t have it (see what R. Shem Tov Gaguine writes about it in Kesser Shem Tov here, that in London and Amsterdam that kaddish was said always by the שליח ציבור). And it spread to some Ashkenazic immigrants to Eretz Yisroel as well, as we have mentioned in the past, that some of them adopted certain Sepharadic practices. On the other hand, others, such as the family of Rav Chaim Brisker, held fast to the old Ashkenazic minhog that this kaddish belongs davka to the Shatz, cf מפניני הרב מד-מה

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this issue nowadays in some places, with practices shifting in some areas. If someone comes from ארץ ישראל, for example, especially if they are a ‘Yerushalmi’ (with the imaginary halo around them in some people’s minds ;-), and they promote the practice, in some places that can suffice for people to allow their old, correct, ancient practice to be pushed aside in favor of this new, incorrect one. People assume, incorrectly, that if something comes from someone from Eretz Yisroel it is automatically correct and superior to what they have been doing previously. Also, there is a natural attraction to new practices, especially if they can be seen as clever innovations.

Why does this matter so much? Well,  it is a case where an improper practice is being adopted, overthrowing over a millenia of precedent the other way, throwing out over a thousand years of mesorah. It is plain wrong. Additionally, it often leads to a degradation of the particular kaddish recitation, as the shatz ofttimes recites it in a superior manner than a typical aveil (e.g. slower, and with appropriate nusach chant, as opposed to an aveil, who may have fallen into a habit of ‘rattling off’ kaddeishim). And once the door is open to such changes, other questionable practices can soon follow, ח”ו.

As stated earlier, this incorrect innovation is unfortunately being promoted by the powerful Artscroll publishing house. Not just via the Mourning In Halachah book however. Also via instructions in their siddurim. I assume that they just ‘fell into it’, and it wasn’t some giant conspiracy ;-), but nevertheless, it is a big problem, and publishers who have millions of siddurim in circulation have a great אחריות (responsibility) on their shoulders. Hopefully they will correct this in the future, even if they don’t order an immediate recall now. Another reason why we have to be wary of publishers becoming ‘poskim’.

Personally, I have trouble understanding people who grew up with בעל קריאה saying it, how can they, all of a sudden, go along with  taking it away from him? Do they assume that the practice for all the years until this new innovation came along was wrong?

I suspect they may feel uneasy, but don’t know what to say or think. Hopefully this post will help them know what to do if such a case arises, to point out the problem, and insist on rejecting such a deviation from the holy מסורה of אשכנז (as well as from the old מנהג ספרד).

Finally, another thing I have trouble understanding about it, is that when I have seen this new practice, as far as I recall, only one person (e.g. aveil) said the kaddish, even if there were several people saying קדיש at other points where kaddish yasom is said, e.g. after עלינו. Now if these people claim that the kaddish after krias haTorah is a kaddish yasom, not the kaddish of the shliach tzibbur, so why is it only said by one of the kaddish sayers and not by all of them (although as we have discussed earlier, properly according to מנהג אשכנז only one person at a time says kaddish, in these places they follow the modern Sepharadic practice of ‘group kaddish’. So why not here too)? I suspect the answer may be because somehow, under the surface, it is known that this kaddish is really not just a regular קדיש יתום, that it is different. Anyone have another explanation?

May we be zoche, in the zechus of saying kaddish properly, that we should see the fulfillment of the words in it, בב”א.

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