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Posts Tagged ‘Moshe Jakobowitz’

Q & A: Selichot Restrictions (Part III)

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

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.”

Q & A: Selichot Restrictions (Part I)

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

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 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (128:9 – Hilchot Chodesh Elul) is your source. He notes that an individual praying selichot without a minyan may not recite the Shelosh Esreh Midot – the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy – as found in Parshat Ki Tissa (Exodus 34:6-7) as a prayer or supplication. He may, however, recite them as if reading from the Torah with the proper melody (indicated by the cantillation). The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch also states that he should not say any of the references to the Thirteen Attributes in selichot, i.e., “z’chor lanu hayom brit shlosh esreh – remember for us today the covenant of the Thirteen [attributes].” Finally, he rules that he shouldn’t say the Aramaic entreaties – “Rachmana,” “Machei u’massei,” “De’ani le’aniyyei aninan,” and “Maran di’bi’shemaya.”

The Beit Yosef in his peirush to the Tur (Orach Chayim 565 sv “katav R. Nattan she’ein…”), citing Teshuvot HaRashba, refers to the Thirteen Attributes as a davar she’b’kedushah – a matter involving great holiness. They therefore need a minyan to recite. He cites Rosh Hashanah 17b, which states that G-d donned a tallit in the style of a chazzan to demonstrate to Moses how Israel should pray (the Thirteen Attributes) before Him to expiate their sins. The implication is that the Thirteen Attributes should be said in the presence of a congregation of Israel, and as such, are an aspect of tefillah b’tzibbur.

A mishnah in Tractate Megillah (23b) enumerates the situations that require the presence of at least 10 men because they incorporate a davar she’b’kedushah. Tefillah betzibbur is one of them. This halacha is based on several Biblical verses; see Leviticus 22:32 and Numbers 14:27 and 16:21. A discussion on this topic is found in Tractate Berachot (21b). (The parallel passage in Talmud Yerushalmi (Megillah 4:4) utilizes different verses to deduce the gezerah shavah on which these rules are based – namely, Leviticus 19:2 and Genesis 42:5.)

Other situations that require a minyan include prisat Shema. (Rashi explains that this situation concerns a group that enters a synagogue after the congregation has already recited Shema. This group may together recite Birkat Keriat Shema, including the preceding Kaddish and Barchu, if they constitute a minyan [although even then, they only recite the first berachah of yotzer ha’meorot].) Other situations include the repetition of Shemoneh Esreh by the chazzan, the Priestly Blessing, the public reading of the Torah and haftarah, certain practices at a funeral, the mourner’s consolation, public wedding blessings, the invitation to join in the Grace after Meals (which includes the name of G-d), and the appraisal of consecrated land.

While codifying this halacha based on the mishnah in Tractate Megillah (23b), the Rambam notes that congregational prayer is conducted in the presence of at least 10 adult men who are bnei chorin – i.e., not slaves (Hilchot Tefillah 8:4). The chazzan is included in the count. The Rambam adds that the recitation of Kedushah and the reading of the Torah and haftarah (with the appropriate blessings that precede and follow them) cannot take place unless 10 men are present. He also states (8:5) that we do not do Prisat Shema, recite Kaddish, or invoke the Priestly Blessings without a minyan.

Returning to the Beit Yosef, we see that he refers to the Thirteen Attributes as belonging in the category of davar she’b’kedushah. Hence, its recital is limited to occasions when a quorum of 10 adult males is present.

(To be continued)
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.

Q & A: Noy Sukka – Sukka Decorations (Part I)

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003
QUESTION: Is decorating the sukka part of the mitzva, or does the mitzva only require the sukka itself?
Moshe Jakobowitz
Brooklyn, NY
ANSWER: The simple answer is that providing for the mitzva of [dwelling in a] sukka would seem to be limited to the requirement to erect the structure, namely, the walls and the sechach (the thatch).In Parashat Emor the Torah states regarding the Sukkot festival (Leviticus 23:42): “Basukkot teshvu shiv’at yamim, kol ha’ezrach be’Yisrael yeshvu basukkot – You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all who are natives in Israel shall dwell in booths.” This verse serves as the command for us to sit in sukkot on the Festival of Tabernacles (see Rambam, Sefer Hamitzvot, Mitzvot Aseh, Mitzva 168).

The sukka, including the specifications of the walls and the sechach, are discussed in detail in the first chapter of Tractate Sukka. The materials one may use for the sechach must be gidulei karka, products of the ground. This is in accordance with R. Meir’s teaching (op. cit. 36b-37a). R. Meir states that we may take sechach from any available tree. The Gemara also mentions nesarim, slats of lumber, which is what many of us use today.

Thus there is no doubt that if one constructed the sukka according to the above requirements, without noy sukka (sukka decorations), one will clearly fulfill the essence of the biblical command.

Yet we find the following baraita (Sukka 10a-b): “If one covered the sukka with sechach, as halachically required, and decorated it with [any or all of these:] embroidered hangings and sheets, and hung in it nuts, almonds, peaches and pomegranates, clusters of grapes and wreaths of grain, wine, oil, or fine flour [in clear glass bottles] it is forbidden to make use of them [as they are muktzeh] until the conclusion of the last day of the festival. However, if he made a stipulation [before yom tov], everything depends on and goes according to his stipulation [and the rule of muktzeh does not apply].”

We see from this baraita that the sechach on the sukka, when used in the prescribed manner, fulfills the basic halachic requirement. All the other items listed seem to be placed there to please the eye, and since each of them has other possible uses, either as garments and covers, or food and drink, of which one might wish to avail oneself at any time, the baraita cautions us that in the event of no prior stipulation, these items are all considered muktzeh, which we may not use on the Sabbath and on holidays, or even during the Intermediate Days.

Nevertheless, R. Yitzhak Yosef explains in his Yalkut Yosef (Hilchot Noy Sukka) that it is a mitzva to decorate the sukka. He refers to the Gemara (Shabbat 133b), which states regarding the verse in Parashat BeShalach (Exodus 15:2), “Ozi vezimrat kah va’yehi li liyeshua; zeh keli ve’anvehu elokei avi va’aromemenhu - G-d is my strength and my praise, He is my salvation; this is my G-d and I will glorify (beautify) Him, the G-d of my father and I will exalt him.”

We derive from the phrase “zeh keli ve’anvehu” the concept of glorifying G-d with mitzvot. Accordingly, we make for Him a beautiful sukka, we buy a beautiful lulav, etc.

Therefore it is customary to adorn the sukka with all kinds of decorations as well as pictures (including pictures of Gedolei Yisrael).

We see that R. Yosef’s reading of the Gemara is that the mitzva to decorate the sukka is not part of the mitzva of fulfilling the sukka’s structural requirements, but rather because of “zeh keli ve’anvehu.”The only problem with this line of reasoning is that while Rambam does cite this Gemara in reference to acquiring a beautiful lulav, etrog, and the other species (Hilchot Lulav 7:7), he does not refer at all to beautifying the sukka as a mitzva, but makes casual reference (Hilchot Sukka 5:17-18) to sukka decorations. In no way does he state that it is a mitzva.

In fact, R. Moshe Sofer, zt”l (Responsa Chatam Sofer, Orach Chayyim 184), discusses a case where a kosher etrog was hung in a sukka as a decoration, and someone came to that sukka on Chol HaMo’ed from a distant place where no etrog was available. May he use the etrog that was suspended to fulfill the mitzva of lulav and etrog?

Since the etrog served as a decoration and thus became muktzeh, may one nevertheless use it? If adorning the sukka is a mitzva under the rule of noy sukka, then perhaps this etrog should not be used. Yet we find that the Chatam Sofer permitted the etrog to be used in that case. This would sustain our original statement that the mitzva consists only of the sukka itself and not its decorations.

(To be continued)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-noy-sukka-sukka-decorations-part-i/2003/11/05/

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