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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabban Gamliel’

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part I)

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1), based on the Mechaber (ad loc.), states as follows: “After the congregation has finished the silent Shmoneh Esreh, the chazzan repeats it in a loud voice so that people who do not know how to pray can listen to the prayer of the chazzan and thus fulfill their obligation [to pray]. However, one who is thoroughly knowledgeable does not fulfill his obligation by means of the chazzan’s repetition. Even someone who does not know how to pray only discharges his obligation when in the company of a congregation, where there are nine individuals listening to and concentrating on the blessings of the chazzan and responding ‘Amen’ [after each blessing].”

The source of this halacha is Gemara Rosh Hashana (33b-34a) where the sages and Rabban Gamliel dispute whose obligation the chazzan discharges by repeating Shmoneh Esreh. The sages rule that the chazzan only discharges the obligation of people who do not how to pray themselves. Rabban Gamliel rules that the chazzan discharges the obligation of everyone.

The Gemara records: “The sages asked Rabban Gamliel, ‘According to your view, why should individuals pray quietly [if the chazzan will in any event discharge their obligation with chazaras hashatz]?’ He responded, ‘To give the chazzan time to organize his prayer.” Rabban Gamliel asked the sages, “According to your view, why should the chazzan descend before the ark [to say chazaras hashatz if he doesn’t discharge the congregation’s obligation to pray]? They replied, “For people unversed and unable to fulfill their obligation by themselves.” Rabban Gamliel responded, “Just as he discharges the obligation of one who is unversed, so can he discharge the obligation of one who is versed.”

Naturally, for the chazzan to discharge the obligation of people who do not how to daven properly, there needs to be a minyan present. He is fulfilling the obligation of tefillah b’tzibbur, as the Talmud (Megillah 23b) explains. Without a minyan, we do not recite Shema in Birkat Keriat Shema publicly, the chazzan does not say chazaras hashatz, kohanim do not say Birkat Kohanim, the Torah and Haftarah are not read etc.

Tosafot (Rosh Hashanah 34b s.v. “Kach motzi et habaki”) cites the Ba’al Halachot Gedolot, who rules that an individual who forgot to say Ya’aleh Veyavo during Shemoneh Esreh on Rosh Chodesh should concentrate on the chazzan’s repetition, from beginning to end. In this manner, he will discharge his obligation even though he is versed in prayer.

Tosafot dispute this ruling citing Rabin in the Gemara who, in the name of R. Yaakov and R. Shimon Chassida, argues that Rabban Gamliel only ruled that the chazzan discharges the obligation of workers in the fields who are restrained despite their own desire to participate in communal prayer since they are occupied with their labor and have no choice. The chazzan does not, however, discharge the obligation of city dwellers/workers who have some leeway in scheduling breaks during their working hours. They must pray themselves and cannot rely on the chazzan.

Tosafot, in the end, reconcile the ruling of the Ba’al Halachot Gedolot with that of Rabban Gamliel (according to Rabin) and states that the rule that the chazzan does not discharge the obligation of city dwellers/workers only applies if they did not pray at all. If they did pray, even if they do not understand, their obligations of tefillah b’tzibur are discharged by listening to chazaras hashatz. The Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chayim 124:2) cites many authorities who rule accordingly – that those who do not understand but are present for tefillah are no worse than those who, due to circumstances beyond their control, work in the fields. Thus, the chazzan can discharge their obligation with chazaras hashatz.

(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.

‘Ultimately, Scientists Always Realize The Torah Is Correct’: An Interview with Rabbi Moshe Meiselman

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Rabbi Moshe Meiselman is rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Jerusalem (which is marking its 29th anniversary with a tribute dinner on Sunday, December 11, at Ateres Avrohom Hall in Brooklyn). A nephew of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, Rabbi Meiselman learned Torah on a daily basis with his uncle for more than a decade. Rabbi Meiselman has just finished writing a book (as yet untitled) on Torah and science due to be published in the next few months.

The Jewish Press: What is your new book about and why do you feel it is relevant?

Rabbi Meiselman: A few years ago there was an explosion in the Orthodox world regarding Torah and science, with many people writing a lot of material and creating a lot of confusion. In many cases the authors lacked the necessary training in Torah, science, and machshavah required to properly address this topic. As a result the Torah was misrepresented and distorted.

I had spent many years thinking about this subject, and debated whether I should involve myself in the matter. When my name was mentioned in some recent literature against my will, I decided to sit down and organize my thoughts, and over time a book emerged.

There are new books and articles continuously being written on this topic. I therefore felt I would present what I consider to be the point of view of the Torah. Based on a tremendous amount of sources from Chazal, Rishonim, and Achronim, I show what the classic and constant approach of the Torah has been toward this topic.

According to our mesorah the Torah we have was given by Hashem on Har Sinai and does not contain mistakes. Everything the Torah describes is absolutely true. To suggest that Chazal are full of mistakes has the potential to undermine the authenticity of our mesorah. I felt motivated to show that Chazal are not full of mistakes and that the Torah, our mesorah, is completely true.

How does this book differ from other books on the topic?

I believe this book differs from others on this topic because I possess a unique background that enables me to bring to bear a tremendous amount of Torah knowledge coupled with very broad scientific knowledge and machshavah. I did not feel other books on this topic combined all three of these necessary components in a complete manner.

You were a talmid of your uncle Rav Soloveitchik. What was your relationship with him like? And did you ever discuss the topic of this book with him?

I learned very intensely with my uncle one on one for twelve years. I discussed all aspects of life with him including many of these topics. I quote him in this book, and where I do it is with an exact quote. Many other areas of the book are based on things he said. His heavy influence is felt throughout the book, even when he is not quoted.

Were you close with any other prominent rabbanim?

I lived in Los Angeles from 1977-1982 where I had a major responsibility for much of the psak halacha of the city. In that role I became very close with Reb Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and I was continually in touch with him. When I moved to Eretz Yisrael I asked Reb Moshe who my new “address” should be and he said I should go to Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Subsequently, I became a ben bayis there, and discussed psak halacha along with many other issues with him. When I founded Yeshivas Toras Moshe it was done in accordance with his psakim. I believe that my personal closeness to him and to his family played an important role in my daughter marrying his grandson.

Hating Immorality

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Question: Is a pious Jew allowed to desire the forbidden (as long, of course, as he doesn’t act on the desire)?

Response: The Talmud states that “no one should say: My soul cannot tolerate the meat of a pig; rather, one should say: I would eat it, but what can I do, it has been forbidden to me.” In other words, desiring forbidden foods is not a negative Jewish trait.

But what about desires for other forbidden items or deeds?

HaRav Shlomo Kluger contends that there is a distinction between different types of sins. There are logical mitzvot based on morality and ethics, and then there mitzvot beyond human comprehension (chukim).

Concerning the first kind of sin, one’s own rational mind should be powerful enough to eliminate even a scintilla of desire to sin. Accordingly, a truly observant and religious Jew should find lying, stealing, cheating, etc. morally repugnant.

Chukim, however, are laws whose reasons we don’t understand, and, therefore, there is nothing wrong with desiring to violate them as long as one doesn’t act on this desire.

Another distinction between logical mitzvot and chukim relates to how we should fulfill them. We fulfill logical mitzvot with great enthusiasm since they are obviously moral and of value. Regarding chukim, however, we fulfill them with the attitude expressed in Rabban Gamliel’s statement in Pirkei Avot: “Nullify your will before His will so that He will nullify the will of others before yours.” In other words, even though we may desire to violate chukim, we refrain from doing so and hope Hashem will reward us by nullifying the evil will of others toward us.

 

 

Rabbi Cohen is the recipient of the Jerusalem Prize and author of several sefarim on Jewish Law. His latest, “Shabbat the Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available in Judaica stores and at Amazon.com.

 

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/11/11

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Colorless Or Colorful? Readers Speak…

Initiated by Stand-Up Guy (see Chronicles Feb. 11 & 25)

 

Dear Rachel,

A concerned writer innocently asked, “What is wrong with a guy wearing colored shirts?” and cited girls who won’t date “such boys” but yet are adorned in Uggs and Juicy attire. He wanted to know what it really means to be open-minded and who really embodies that mindset. Then came your answer.

You used the description of the Bigdei Kehuna in the parsha as your justification for why your clothes really do make a difference. But isn’t the Kohen still the Kohen when he is not in his Kohen uniform?

I was surprised to see how much credence you give to the color of one’s shirt. I didn’t really personalize what you wrote until this sentence, “…If a girl turns you down on account of your jeans, just see it as a sign…you are more likely to find your right fit in your own backyard.”

This is where I felt it: the closing of the Jewish mind. And I AM one to talk. I just got married at the ripe young age of 30. My husband and I do not share religious backgrounds, but we share future goals and hashkafic compatibility. I mostly dated men who wore black hats, but their attire didn’t define their middos. Each individual was just that: an individual. There were men wearing “the pure” black and white uniform whose behavior was not congruent with Torah, and there were those in jeans who acted as descendants of Avraham Avinu.

If I would have married someone from a more yeshivish background who looks like all of my friends’ husbands, but who internally wasn’t as refined and lacked the yirat shamayim of the man in a “pink shirt” who I did marry, I don’t think I would have been at peace with it. I probably would have wished that I had looked “outside my own backyard” to find the right person for me.

We live in a world of color and no one is forced to wear any color they do not want to, but I’m pretty sure that Hashem’s expectations are “Hatznea lechet im Hashem Elokecha.Tzniut, humility and following in the ways of Hashem; color is not mentioned. Perhaps dates would go better if people were just a bit color-blind.

Married in living color

 

Dear Married,

Mazel tov on the occasion of your marriage!

Your disappointing dating experiences just go to prove that clothes do not make the man. Appearances can be deceiving and so we go to great lengths to get to know the person before making up our minds.

Common background between marriage partners is definitely a plus but is not a guarantee for long-lasting wedded bliss.

While we may live in a world of color, one might say that the issue of “black and white” in the Jewish orthodox world is a gray area. Most men instinctively carry on their family tradition, dressing in the way of their fathers. This goes for both the color and white shirted kind — and neither preference attests to the wearer’s moral fiber.

 

Dear Rachel,

I’m hesitant to waste time writing to you, but the opinions you expressed are not only misguided; they’re objectively wrong. I’m talking about your assertion that black-and-white clothing is preferable for yeshiva boys and men.

The Mishna in Masechet Megilla (4:8) states specifically: “If one declares, ‘I will not step before the Ark in colored raiment,’ he may not go even in white garments.” In other words, the clothes do not make the man and colored garments are completely acceptable for those leading the services.

In Masechet Berachot (28a), we learn that Rabban Gamliel’s policy was to bar anyone from the study hall who’s “inside did not match his outside.” In other words, anyone can dress like a yeshiva boy, but what really matters is what’s inside.

Your statement that white “exudes a purity of soul” is laughable. As is your assertion that colors in the beit midrash will distract Torah scholars from their learning. Honestly? Does the presence of color distract scholars in any other discipline or just teenage boys and men in yeshivot? Did you conduct a study? Should we ensure that all seforim are a uniform black or brown, so as not to distract the learners? What about the colors on the parochet and the Torah covers? Distracting?

You state that you like white, personally. That’s your opinion. But don’t go making blanket statements based on your personal preference.

I agree that materialism should not be a focus in yeshiva or in shidduchim. But if you notice, there are plenty of designer-label white shirts and dress slacks, not to mention high-priced hat brands, available to those whose souls are so ostensibly pure.

There’s nothing wrong with colored clothing and people in the shidduch parsha who are hung up on ‘white shirts’ should have their mistaken prejudices corrected.

True Blue Jew

 

Dear True Blue,

Since none of my colored-shirt wearing close kin found anything remotely disparaging in my reply to Stand-Up Guy, I can only deduce that you have an axe to grind (with the white-shirt wearing kind, apparently).

Anyone with an uncolored mindset will note that I simply enlightened the reader as to the logic behind the white-shirt tradition.

Regarding your Talmudic references, “in other words” doesn’t quite cut it. Open to interpretations, yes, but the samples you cite have little to nothing in common with this discussion.

One commentary focuses almost exclusively on Rabban Gamliel’s suitability as head of the rabbinic academy when he seeks to ease the overcrowding of talmidim by limiting their attendance (no mention of clothing or color). The other specifically designates the one who refuses to step in front of the Ark in colored clothing as flawed in his belief-system. Adjudged an apikores, he is deemed equally unsuited to the task whether attired in color or white.

Your rebuke of my tongue-in-cheek comment about loving the white snow that blankets our lawns doesn’t deserve the dignity of a remark. Suffice it to say that your attitude speaks volumes for itself.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Q & A: Cheshvan Or Marcheshvan?

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

   QUESTION: I see that some people refer to the month of Cheshvan as Marcheshvan. Which is correct?

Nachman M.

(Via E-Mail)

 

   ANSWER: The Gemara (Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashana 1:2) cites Rabbi Chanina who states, “The names of the [Jewish] months were brought up with them [the exiles who returned to the Land of Israel] from Babylonia.” Indeed, these were not the original names, as we see in the various biblical verses that refer to them only in a numerical fashion. The Gemara supports Rabbi Chanina’s statement by citing the following months and their scriptural sources (all post-exile), Nissan in Esther (3:7), Kislev in Nechemia (1:2), and Tevet in Esther (2:5).
   Though not included in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah, through a scriptural search, we find as well Shevat in Zecharia (1:7), Adar and Nissan in Esther (3:7), Sivan in Esther (8:9), and Elul in Nechemia (6:15), which are all post-exile references found only in the prophets and Hagiographa.
   However, we find no scriptural mention of Iyar, Tamuz, Av and Marcheshvan. Our tradition, based on the Gemara’s statement (“The names of the months were brought up with them…”), is that these names too were brought up from Babylonia. Indeed, when the exiles came to Babylonia they found a society that used a lunar calendar similar to ours and that were quite knowledgeable of astronomy.
   Thus, they eventually adopted the Babylonian names for the months. While all remain essentially the same as the Babylonian names, three differ slightly: Sivan (from the Babylonian Siman), Tamuz (from Tuvuz), and Marcheshvan (from Arachshamn, most probably originated from Arach Shaman – i.e., Eighth Month.) In each of these three changes, it is noticeable that a corruption occurred with a mem somehow replacing a vav or the opposite.
   True, the Gemara cited above (Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashanah) only cites three of the names: Nissan, Kislev, and Tevet. However, we find that the sages of the Talmud refer to these months as well as the others elsewhere. Almost all of the months’ names are referred to in Tractate Rosh Hashanah (Babylonian Talmud). An exception is Marcheshvan, which is mentioned in a mishna in Mesechet Ta’anit (10a) in the dispute between Rabban Gamliel and the tanna kamma about the proper time of year to start requesting rain via Shemoneh Esreh‘s blessing of Mevarech Hashanim.
   The tanna kamma posits to start at the 3rd of Marcheshvan, and Rabban Gamliel says the 7th of Marcheshvan. The latter’s reasoning being that the 7th is 15 days after the festival (of Sukkot), which provides sufficient time for the last of the olei regel – those who traveled to Jerusalem for the holiday – to have returned home unhampered by inclement weather.
   The Gemara explains as well that in the Diaspora, where there is less need of rain (or minimized dependence on rain for survival), the prayer request commences 60 days from the festival of Sukkot (today that is usually December 4th, 5th, or 6th, depending on the year and the day of week). Rambam (Hilchot Tefillah 2:16) rules according to Rabban Gamliel and puts the start of the request for rain on the 7th of Marcheshvan in Eretz Yisrael.
   It is relevant that the month in your question is consistently referred to in halachic discussions as Marcheshvan, not Cheshvan.
   Rabbi Sperlingin Sefer Ta’amei Haminhagim U’mekorei Hadinim (Inyonei Simchat Torah siman 836) stresses the minhag of using the name Marcheshvan when blessing the new month. Rabbi Sperling explains that this is extrapolated from the Midrash Tanchuma (Parshat Noach 11). There we learn that from the time of the mabul – the flood – and afterward, Hashem enacted that from the start of that month (Marcheshvan), there will always be heavy rains.
   This is what “mar” refers to. Mar means a drop (of rain), as in the verse in Isaiah (40:15), “Hen goyim k’mar midli… – Behold, all the nations are like a drop [of water] from a bucket…”
   Rabbi Sperling notes as well (infra 838) that even the names of the months used pre-exile in the scripture, for example, “Bul  (I Kings 6:38), reflects this same concept. Bul, from the word “mabul,” implies that this is the month of the flood. (However, it is at odds with the above rationale for the use of “mar.”)
   Additionally, Rabbi Sperling notes the midrash (Yalkut to Melachim p. 27) that tells about this season including heavy rains for the 40-day period. When King Solomon built the Holy Temple, the edict of heavy rains for 40 days was rescinded. Thus the name “Bul” represented the edicts having been rescinded with the removal of the mem, the numerical equivalent of 40, the 40 days fixed in the original edict.
   Consequently we might add, as far as the Babylonian name Marcheshvan is concerned, that the addition of the word “mar” (letters mem, resh) refers to this change, that the rains of that season will not necessarily be consistently heavy, but at times only “mar” – as drops of rain. Indeed that is what we pray for: A normal, bearable blessing of beneficial rain.

(To be continued)

 

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

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