web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 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.



Home » Judaism » Torah »

L’Zera Yaakov Tizkor

(Editor’s note: In contemplation of the yamim nora’im, we would do well to focus on proper liturgical expression in our tefillot. The topic that my good friend, Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rabinowich, rav of Beis Hamedrash Ahavas Torah, Flatbush, Brooklyn, discusses here is one that has long intrigued me as well as many others. Therefore, with his kind permission, we present this dvar Torah that he wrote for the shloshim of his dear friend, Menachem (Michael) Gruda from Ramot, l’iluy nishmato. Michael was torn away from us so suddenly while he was in the prime of his wonderful life. Yehi zichro baruch.)

A passage at the end of the Zichronot blessing in the Mussaf Amidah of Rosh Hashanah appears to have two slightly different versions. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, 591:7) rules that this is the correct text: “V’akeidas Yitzchak hayom l’zaro tizkor.” It also rules and those who change the words and specify “l’zera Yaakov tizkor” are mistaken and guilty of changing the text instituted by Chazal. The source for this ruling is a responsum (chapter 38) by the Spanish and then Algerian Rivash (14th century).

There are many difficulties with this ruling. The main one is that the Gemara itself asks on the verse (Genesis 21:12), “Ki b’Yitzchak yekarei lecha zera”: Perhaps, the reference is to Esav, not Yaakov? The Gemara asks this in two places – Nedarim 31a and Sanhedrin 59b. Why then is it considered so wrong to detail explicitly in the Mussaf Amidah that we are referring to Yaakov and not to Esav?

The Rambam in Hilchot Nedarim (9:21), probably to resolve this difficulty, quotes the Gemara’s drashah but makes his own addition: “If one vows to derive no benefit from the seed of Abraham, he is allowed to derive benefit from the sons of Yishmael and the sons of Esav, but he is forbidden to derive benefit from Bnei Yisrael as the pasuk states: ‘Ki b’Yitzchak yekarei lecha zera.’ And we find further (Genesis 28:4) that Yitzchak says to Yaakov, ‘Veyiten lecha et birkat Avraham.’ ”

It is also noteworthy for serious students of the Rambam that in Hilchot Melachim (10:7), the Rambam essentially cites the Gemara’s drashah, repeats his addition from Hilchot Nedarim, and writes: “Circumcision was commanded only to Avraham and his offspring as the pasuk (Genesis 17:9) states: ‘…ata v’zaracha acharecha l’dorotam.’ This excludes the offspring of Yishmael because the pasuk states ‘Ki b’Yitzchak yekarei lecha zera.’ Further, Esav is excluded because Yitzchak said to Yaakov ‘V’yiten lecha et birkat Avraham.’ From here we see that Yaakov (and his progeny) alone is considered to be the offspring of Avraham, the one who is firm in the practice of Avraham’s beliefs and proper path.”

Nevertheless, Rivash’s application of the Talmudic principle “that whoever deviates from the proper formulation is guilty of altering our sages text” is a very strong statement. One wonders if according to the Rivash we have fulfilled our obligation if we do mention Yaakov in the tefillah in Zichronot.

Even if we fully accept the proposition that “b’Yitzchak” refers to Yaakov, perhaps “zera Yitzchak” can still refer to Esav. Indeed, this question is posed by the Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim, loc. cit., sk7). And in fact, if one makes a vow not to derive any pleasure from “zera Yitzchak,” he is probably forbidden to derive any pleasure from Esav and his descendants! (Cf. the crucial emendation of the Yad Efraim (loc. cit.) on this suggestion of the Magen Avraham.) So, the question remains: Why does the Rivash so strongly frown upon adding the word “Yaakov” after saying “l’zaro”?

Although the answer to this question is not simple, this much is obvious: The Rivash, based upon the various drashot of Chazal, believed it was totally superfluous to mention the very obvious – that Yaakov alone is Yitzchak’s progeny. In fact, Rivash claims that it would be disrespectful to Yitzchak to mention Yaakov since it would imply that the merit of Yitzchak’s akeidah sacrifice is insufficient for us.

He also adds another fascinating argument: Although, he admits, it would be much simpler to add the word “Yaakov,” and not have to resort to all the various drashot to prove that Yaakov is the only progeny of both Avraham and Yitzchak, the “difficult” approach preferable. Why? Because it is obvious from the omission of Yaakov’s name that the one reciting the blessing of Zichronot is a talmid chacham: As the Gemara (Berachot 50a) states: From the blessings that a person recites one can discern whether a he is or is not a talmid chacham (see also supra 38a). And creating the impression of being a talmid chacham is a “good thing.”

About the Author:


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 “L’Zera Yaakov Tizkor”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Do you know where your vegetables grow?
Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin
Latest Judaism Stories
Greenbaum-102414

Noach was the lonely man of faith living in a depraved world, full of wickedness.

Parsha-Perspectives-logo

Avraham became a great man during the 175 years of his life, while his predecessors became increasingly wicked, despite staggering knowledge, during their lifetimes of hundreds of years.

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

Shem realized that he owed his existence to his father who brought him into the world.

Daf-Yomi-logo

Law-Abiding Citizen
‘That Which Is Crooked Cannot Be Made Straight…’
(Yevamos 22a-b)

The flood was not sent to destroy, but to restore the positive potential of the world.

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

Why is there is no mention of dinosaurs, and other prehistoric animals, in the Torah?

Strict din demands perfection. There is no room for shortcomings and no place for excuses; you are responsible.

Surprisingly, my husband and one son arrived home over half-an-hour earlier than usual. I excitedly shared my perfect-timing story, but my better half one upped me easily.

Noach felt a tug, and then heard a rip. His jacket had been caught on the nail, and the beautiful suit had a tear.

Boundaries must be set in every home. Parents and children are not pals. They are not equals.

Noah and his wife could not fathom living together as husband and wife and continuing the human race

The Babel story is the 2nd in a 4-act drama that’s unmistakably a connecting thread of Bereishit

Our intentions are critical in raising children because they mimic everything we parents do & think

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

More Articles from Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rabinowich

A passage at the end of the Zichronot blessing in the Mussaf Amidah of Rosh Hashanah appears to have two slightly different versions. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, 591:7) rules that this is the correct text: “V’akeidas Yitzchak hayom l’zaro tizkor.” It also rules and those who change the words and specify “l’zera Yaakov tizkor” are mistaken and guilty of changing the text instituted by Chazal. The source for this ruling is a responsum (chapter 38) by the Spanish and then Algerian Rivash (14th century).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/lzera-yaakov-tizkor/2012/09/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: