web analytics
August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Q & A: Incongruous And Unbecoming (Part III)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

 

According to their traditions the early Greeks used to place lit candles on cakes in order that they glow like the moon. They would then take these candle-laden cakes to the temple of Artemis, which they deified as a “goddess” of the moon. There was a folk belief that the smoke of the candles carried wishes and prayers to the gods in the skies. Thus developed the custom for the birthday celebrant to first make a wish and then blow out the candles. Further, it was believed that if all the candles on the cake were blown out in one breath, the coming year would bode well for the birthday celebrant.

 

Yet it seems that this “ceremony” has found its place in many Jewish birthday celebrations including some Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and nary a word is said in opposition. It would thus seem that once a practice has become so universal and generalized to the point where pagan origins no longer have any meaning or remembrance to the individual, there is no second thought or any hesitation in engaging in that practice. Simply put, party participants, especially the younger set, enjoy a nice birthday cake, and there is no intention or semblance of idol worship involved. Also, as we will see further, since it is a widespread practice in our society, irrespective of religion, practiced by Jew and gentile alike, it should not present itself as a problem.

 

Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva and Rosh Kollel at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Seminar at Yeshiva University, in his volume Nefesh HoRav, cites the following that he heard from his Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l, late Rosh Yeshiva at R.I.E.T.S., in the name of his father Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik zt’l.

 

In the year 1848, the Czar Nicholas of Russia, who then ruled over Poland as well, issued an edict directed at the Jewish populace. All Jews under his domain were to discard their Jewish garb in favor of modern garb. Most noticeably this meant that a short jacket would replace the traditional long kaftan. Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveichik Zt’l (the famed author of Bais HaLevi and father of Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik) considered this to be a matter of Shmad (a practice that may contribute to Jews leaving the fold) as related in the gemara (Sanhedrin 74a – b) where Rabbah bar R. Yitzchak states in the name of Rav that when the government so decrees, one may not even change his shoelace to the gentile style. Rashi interprets this to mean that it would be forbidden to tie one’s shoelace in the same style as the gentiles. Tosafot explain that Rav meant to forbid changing the color of one’s shoelaces if theirs is black and ours is white. Thus we would then be forbidden to wear black like them.

 

Yet Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveichik realized that he had little choice in the matter, so he set off to the city of Brod in Galicia where the donning of short jackets had already become the custom. He stayed there for two years before returning to Poland.

 

What we see from here is that if one happens to be in a place where there is an accepted distinction between Jew and gentile in the manner of dress, one may not change even the smallest iota. However in a place where there is no such distinction, one may dress as one pleases. Obviously one must take care to assure the rules of modesty are followed.

 

(To be continued)

 

Rabbi Yaakov Klass can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com 

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.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Incongruous And Unbecoming (Part III)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hamas Execution of 11
Hamas Executes 11 Arabs in Gaza, Warning – Graphic [photo]
Latest Judaism Stories
Weiss-082214-Beloved

Hashem recalls everything – nothing is hidden from His eyes.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Lessons-Emunah-logo

An interview was overheard in which an Arab asked a Hamas commander: “What’s the problem? Why aren’t you hitting your targets? Don’t you know how to aim?” To which he was answered: “We know how to aim very well. We are experts. But their G-d moves the missiles.”

Daf-Yomi-logo

Discretion
‘Vendors Of Fruits And Clothing…May Sell In Private’
(Mo’ed Katan 13b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

The first prayer of Moshe was Vayechal, where Moshe’s petition was that no matter how bad bnei Yisrael were, the Egyptians were worse.

“We’re leining now, and shouldn’t be talking,” Mr. Silver gently quieted his son. “At the Shabbos table we can discuss it at length.”

If we regard pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives

Culture is not nature. There are causes in nature, but only in culture are there meanings.

Rabbinic law is pivotal but it’s important to understand which laws are rabbinic and which biblical.

We give slave gifts? If he wants to stay, we pierce his ear?!

It is words that connect the individuals in a society and it is words that give that society its animating spirit. It is words that define its potential. People are a nation’s cells. Land is its body. But words give it life, animation and purpose. It is words that those who lay siege to Münster […]

“When a mother plays with her child there is an acute awareness of the child. But even when the mother works at a job or is distracted by some other activity, there is a natural, latent awareness of her child’s existence.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Questions-Answers-logo

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

A CPE class at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn was tailor made for Orthodox participants.

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
(Via E-Mail)

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-incongruous-and-unbecoming-part-iii/2011/11/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: