web analytics
September 15, 2014 / 20 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



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.”

In summary, the Rambam does not mention “Yaakov,” nor does the 15th century Avudraham who lived in Spain. Yet, Rabbi Yechiel Bassan from Greece (16th century, in the period of the Maharit) tells us that Ashkenazim add “Yaakov” but Sephardim do not. He then informs us that in the Venetian siddurim published in the mid-16th century, the publishers take note of the Rivash’s objections but insist on mentioning “Yaakov” and cite a Zohar as support for their position against that of the Rivash. The Venetian publishers conclude that one should add the word Yaakov as it appears in all the early machzorim.

Most Ashkenazi machzorim that I have seen have the word “Yaakov” in parenthesis. But we find, for example, that the Baal “Yosef Ometz” (1570-1637) writes that the custom in Frankfurt is to add, “l’zaro shel Yaakov.” He also states, “One should not stray from the custom of the early, holy chazzanim of Frankfurt”

May Hashem remember us all in the great merits of all our holy fathers: Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.

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:


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
A Jew, a soldier and a Druze watch - very carefully - the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
IDF Stands By as Al Qaeda Offensive Threatens Golan Farmers
Latest Judaism Stories
15th century Book of the Torah

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

Leff-091214

All Jews are inherently righteous and that is why we all have a portion in the World to Come.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

Torah isn’t a theological treatise or a metaphysical system but a series of stories linked over time

In contrast to her Eicha-like lamentations of the previous hour or more, however, my youngest was now grinning from ear-to-ear.

An Astonishing Miracle
‘Why Bring the Infants to Hakhel?’
(Chagigah 3a)

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

e are in a time of serious crisis and must go beyond our present levels of chesed.

According to Ibn Ezra, the Torah was stressing through this covenant that hypocrisy was forbidden.

“Tony said that the code in most places in the U.S. is at least 36 inches for a residential guardrail,” replied Mr. Braun. “Some make it higher, 42, or even 52 inches for high porches. What is the required height according to halacha?”

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

Not only do we accept You as our King, it is our greatest desire that the name of Your Kingdom be spread throughout the entire universe.

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: