web analytics
October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Q & A: Selichot Restrictions (Part III)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Question: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch states that an individual praying selichot without a minyan is not allowed to recite the Thirteen Midot or the Aramaic prayers. What is the rationale behind this halacha?

Moshe Jakobowitz
Brooklyn, NY

Answer: The Beit Yosef on the Tur (Orach Chayim 565) explains that the Shelosh Esreh Midot represent a communal prayer and thus a davar she’b’kedushah. A mishnah in Tractate Megillah (23b) enumerates the situations that incorporate a davar she’b’kedusha and require a minyan. Among them is communal prayer.

Last week we discussed whether it is permitted to pray for sick people in Aramaic, since, according to R. Yochanan (Shabbos 12b), ministering angels do not understand Aramaic. R. Yochanan’s statement is at odds with the opinion that these angels know the innermost thoughts of man (see Tosafot ad loc.). We concluded that praying for sick people is different since, as the Talmud (loc. cit.) states, the Divine Presence comes to help sick people in their suffering. Thus, there is no need for the aid of angels.

We asked, though, why the intercession of angels is ever necessary since we address our prayers directly to G-d. We also pointed out that there is a difference between individual prayer (tefillat yachid) and congregational prayer (tefillat hatzibur); we are assured that the latter one will be accepted.

* * * * *

The Shiltei HaGibborim to the Rif (Berachot, beginning of Ch. 2, “Ha’ya korei baTorah”) says a person may pray in a language other than Hebrew if he doesn’t know Hebrew as he needs to be able to pray in a language he knows (even if it is Aramaic). This is in accordance with Tractate Berachot 3a: “Whenever Israelites convene in synagogues and houses of study and respond, ‘Yehe shmei [shemo according to the Maharsha] hagadol mevorach – May His great name be blessed,’ the Almighty nods and says, ‘Happy is the king who is thus praised in his house.’ ” Tosafot remark that this Hebrew response is the equivalent of the Aramaic sentence in Kaddish: “Yehei shemei rabbah mevorach.”

Tosafot dispute those who maintain that this beautiful prayer of praise was instituted in Aramaic so that the angels would not fathom it and thus not cast a jealous eye upon us. Tosafot note that there are many other beautiful liturgical passages in Hebrew. Rather, Tosafot explain, Kaddish (in the Talmudic period) used to be recited at the conclusion of lectures given for the populace at large, amongst whom were many uneducated people who did not understand Hebrew. Kaddish was therefore composed in Aramaic, the language spoken by everybody.

Why, then, are individuals not generally supposed to pray in Aramaic? The Tur (Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 101) quotes his father’s statement that an individual may pray in any language – except Aramaic. The Beit Yosef (ad loc.) explains that angels have an aversion to Aramaic, which is not the case regarding any other language. The Chochmat Shlomo, commenting on the Mechaber’s ruling in the Shulchan Aruch that prayers can be recited in any language, notes that the angel of each of the 70 nations intercedes for that nation in its own language, and therefore an individual should not pray in a language that his nation’s angel does not speak. Michael, the angel of Israel, uses Hebrew, so Israelites should pray only in Hebrew, the Chochmat Shlomo writes.

This statement runs counter to the rulings of the Tur and Mechaber. The Chochmat Shlomo, in fact, goes further and cautions against people who have instituted prayers in any language other than Hebrew. (He is referring to “formally structured communal prayers” recited to fulfill our daily obligations of tefillah, not personal supplications.)

To explain the aversion angels are said to have for the Aramaic language in particular, we turn to the statement of Rabbi Yehuda in the name of Rav in Sanhedrin 38b. He says that the first man, Adam, spoke in Aramaic, for it is written (Psalms 139:17), “Ve’li mah yakru re’echa, Kel – How valued (or weighty) are your thoughts of me, G-d.”

To explain this statement, the Maharsha quotes Rabbi Yochanan’s statement in Bava Batra (75b) that in the time to come, the righteous will be called by the name of G-d, for it is written (Isaiah 43:7), “Every one that is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory – I have created them and fashioned them.” The Maharsha asks: Where in that pasuk are the “righteous” and the “time to come” mentioned? He explains that honor is attained only through the Torah. Indeed, the Gemara (Sanhedrin loc. cit.) continues its comments about Adam, stating that G-d showed him every generation to come and its scholars and sages. When it came to the generation of Rabbi Akiva, Adam rejoiced at his learning but was grieved at his martyr’s death at the hands of the Romans That is when Adam exclaimed, “Ve’li mah yakru re’echa, Kel.”

Mah yakru” is the Aramaic equivalent of “mah kavdu – how valued.” Adam did not want the angels to understand what he was saying to G-d because they would be jealous of him. Not only had G-d created man, but He also intended to give the Torah to a human being. Angels, therefore, have an aversion to the language Adam used to affirm our right to the Torah, which the angels would have liked to possess themselves. Thus, it is only in Aramaic that we are not permitted to pray.

Interestingly, it is precisely from this Gemara that we can bring another proof to the efficacy of tefillat hatzibur since it is obvious that notwithstanding any restrictions related to praying in Aramaic, when a tzibbur offer a prayer as one, it can do so even in Aramaic. This surely portends well for prayers in other languages.

However, the saintly Chofetz Chayim – in line with the previously-quoted Chochmat Shlomo – comes out very strongly in his Mishnah Berurah against those who would alter the language of our prayers from Hebrew to another language. He underscores that our tefillot are ancient, instituted by our Sages in Hebrew, also called lashon hakodesh, the holy language. (Obviously those age-old prayers and piyutim that our sages instituted in Aramaic are an exception and not subject to the Chofetz Chayim’s critique.)

The Chofetz Chaim is also contemptuous of those who remove referenced to Jerusalem and the ingathering of the exiles from their congregational prayers. He concludes that it was precisely because the Children of Israel did not alter their language (“shelo shinu et leshonam”) that they were delivered from servitude in Egypt. In that merit we will hopefully be delivered from this galut as well.

Notwithstanding all the above, we will shortly be sitting in our sukkot reciting – in Aramiac and without a minyan – the short “ushpizin ila’in – exalted guests,” which refers to the seven shepherds: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David. Why? The answer is that this recitation is not a prayer, but rather an invitation and greeting to our Patriarchs to join us and bear testimony as we fulfill G-d’s command.

May this mitzvah too serve us well as we seek Hashem’s blessing and deliverance speedily in our days.

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.

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: Selichot Restrictions (Part III)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Steve Emerson, author, journalist and terrorism expert.
Haaretz Smears American Terrorism Expert with Political Hit Job
Latest Judaism Stories
God-and the world

The creation of the world is described twice. Each description serves a unique purpose.

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Lessons-in-Emunah-new

To the surprise of our protectzia-invested acquaintances, my family has thrived in our daled amos without that amenity, b’ezras Hashem.

Business-Halacha-logo

Shimon started adjusting the branches on the roof. In doing so, a branch fell off the other side of the car and hit the side-view mirror, cracking it.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

For Appearance’s Sake
‘Shammai Did Not Follow Their Own Ruling’
(Yevamos 13b 14a)

If one hurts another human being, God is hurt; if one brings joy to another, God is more joyous.

I’m grateful to Hashem for everything; Just the same, I’d love a joyous Yom Tov without aggravation.

Bereshit: Life includes hard choices that challenge our decisions, leaving lingering complications.

Rabbi Fohrman:” Great evils are often wrought by those who are blithely unaware of the power they wield.”

The emphasis on choice, freedom and responsibility is a most distinctive features of Jewish thought.

The Torah emphasizes the joy of Sukkot, for after a season of labor, we celebrate our prosperity.

The encounter with the timeless stability of the divine occurs within the Sukkot.

Hashem created all human beings and it should sadden us when Hashem, their Father, does not see nachas from them.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-selichot-restrictions-part-iii/2012/09/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: