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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
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Q & A: Birkat HaGomel (Part II)


“The custom developed to recite the blessing after Keriat haTorah because [at that time] 10 are assembled. However, if someone said the blessing with less than 10 present, there are those (Tur O.C., ad loc.) who opine that his obligation has been fulfilled, while others (Rabbenu Yonah) are of the view that he has not discharged his obligation. It is [therefore] better that he repeat the blessing before a quorum of 10, but without mentioning the Holy Name – Shem u’Malchut.

(To be continued)


* * * * *


Re: Q&A – Sefirat HaOmer – When To Start Counting? – Clarification


Question: In your Q&A columns in early April, you write the following which seems to be incorrect. “The Kesef Mishneh explains, however, that there is a difference between the two cases. On Shemini Atzeret we would be contradicting ourselves if in the very same Kiddush we said both ‘yom Shemini Atzeret hachag hazeh’…”

First, where is this Kesef Mishneh? Second, I doubt that Rav Yosef Karo said “yom Shemini Atzeret hachag hazeh” since in his Mechaber (668:1) he uses the following wording: “yom Shemini Chag HaAtzeret hazeh.” I believe this wording is universal among Sefaradim. Many Ashkenazim use it as well, though adding a heh: HaShemini.

Yisrael Levi
(Via E-Mail)


Answer: The Kesef Mishneh is found in Hilchot Sukkah (6:13, s.v.B’zman hazeh…”). But you are correct. I should have placed the words “Shemini Atzeret” in brackets since, as you note, Rabbi Yosef Karo is very clear in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 668:1) that the text is “b’yom Shemini Chag HaAtzeret hazeh.”

The Rema (in his glosses ad. loc.) explains that the custom of European Jewry is to omit the word “chag” on Shemini Atzeret because we do not find anywhere in Chumash (see Leviticus 23:36 and Numbers 29:35) that Shemini Atzeret is referred to with this word. The Magen Avraham (ad. loc.) nevertheless cites the Maharshal who writes that one should say “Shemini Atzeret hachag hazeh.” Hence the almost universal inclusion of the word “hachag” in most of our prayer books, albeit in a different order in nusachot Ashkenaz and Sefard.

B’kavod Rav,
Yaakov Klass


Yisrael Levi Responds: The Rema is quoting Sefer HaMinhagim and is speaking of Eastern European Jewry, not all of European Jewry. The Maharil and Tosafot (Sukkah, 48a) clearly include the word “chag”but use the word order of the Shluchan Aruch, not the Maharshal.

The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 668:3, 4), relying on the Gra and others, agrees with the Mechaber’s word order – which is also the order suggested by the Maharil and Tosafot. Thus, almost all contemporary Nusach Ashkenaz siddurim and machazorim follow the Mechaber et al – and not the Rema or the Maharshal. Nusach Sefard follows the Maharshal. Non-Ashkenazim, as in almost all cases, follow the Mechaber. Thus, your last sentence needs revision, as it is not a clear-cut dispute with Ashkenazim on one side and Sefardim on the other.

My response: Our readers are most indebted to you for your knowledge and very keen eye.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

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