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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Hashana’

Q & A: Tashlich

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004
QUESTION: Why do some people say Tashlich on the second day of Rosh Hashana when the first day falls on a Sabbath, while others say it on the first day (in areas where there is an eruv)? What if someone missed saying Tashlich? Finally, what is the source for this custom?
Zvi Kirschner
(via email)
ANSWER: We will first address the source of Tashlich, and then deal with your specific questions.In his encyclopedic work Otzar Erchei HaYahadut, HaRav Yosef Grossman, zt”l, states as follows in his discussion of Tashlich based on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Hilchot Rosh Hashana Ch. 129): “On the first day of Rosh Hashana after the Mincha prayer, but before shekia, it is customary to go to the seashore or to a riverbank, preferably outside the city [limits]; it
[the body of water] should contain fish in order to remind us that we are compared to fish that are captured in a net, and through this we will return to Hashem in repentance.

“It also serves as a good omen that we will multiply and be fruitful like fish; and the evil eye will
not prevail over us just as it does not affect fish [which are hidden in the water and generally
protected from the evil eye.]”

If there is no body of water, ocean or river in that locality, one goes to a water well or a water pond and one says the verses found in the machzorim (Micah 7:18-20, Psalms 118:5-9 and Psalm 31, with some machzorim substituting or adding Psalm 33 and other tefillot for parnassa).”

As for the word “Tashlich,” it is found in Micah (7:19), “… Vetashlich bi’metzulot yam kol chatotam – You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

We go to a stream of water because of the following (I Samuel 7:6): “… Vayish’avu mayyim
vayishpechu lifnei Hashem … vayomru sham, chatanu l’Hashem - … They drew water and poured it out before Hashem … and they said there, We have sinned to Hashem.”

Targum Yonatan (ad loc.) explains that they poured out their hearts like water in repentance
before Hashem. Rashi (ad loc.) explains it as “a sign of submissiveness: we are before You like these waters that are poured out.”

The Midrash (Tanchuma, Parashat Vayera 29) cites the following: “When Abraham brought his son Isaac to be bound for a sacrifice [on Rosh Hashana], Satan transformed himself into a large river before them. When [upon crossing] the water reached their necks, Abraham prayed and the river dried up.”

Aside from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch upon which R. Grossman obviously bases his discussion, we also find that the Rema (Orach Chayyim 583) mentions this minhag in the name of the Maharil. The Mishna Berura (ad loc.) quotes the Pri Megadim as a reference as well.

We find another reason in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (ad loc.): We go to the riverside because it is the custom to anoint kings next to a river, and on Rosh Hashana we anoint Hashem as our King.

We also find another possible early source for Tashlich in Yitav Panim by the Admor R. Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, zt”l, the Sigheter Rav (Vol. 1, page 28), who sees a hint to this custom in Psalm 137: “Al naharot Bavel sham yashavnu gam bachinu bezochrenu et tziyyon… – By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, there we cried, as we remembered Zion…”

My uncle, HaRav Sholom Klass, zt”l, in his discussion on this topic, quotes the Aruch
HaShulchan (Orach Chayyim 583) who cautions against Tashlich becoming a ‘social scene.’ He also quotes his grandfather (my great-grandfather), HaRav Yaakov Epstein, zt”l, who was of the family of Aruch HaShulchan, who cited R. Yitzchak Elchanan’s opinion that it is a far greater mitzva to sit and learn Torah than to waste one’s time going to Tashlich. My uncle notes that R. Epstein never went to Tashlich.

However, my uncle concludes that the majority do indeed follow the Rema (citing the Maharil). The custom is to say Tashlich, and we do not violate a custom.

Next we address whether saying Tashlich is universal to all Jewry or only to Ashkenazic Jews, as it would seem from the above discussion that our source is the Maharil as cited by the Rema. R. Yosef Caro (the Beit Yosef, whom Sephardim follow) makes no mention of this practice. Thus it would seem that Sephardim do not go to Tashlich.

Yet we find that the Rishon LeZion Rav Ovadiah Yosef, past Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel,
was asked if one should go to Tashlich on the first day of Rosh Hashana if it falls on the Sabbath (Responsa Yechaveh Da’at, 56).

The question in and of itself points out that both the questioner and R. Ovadiah Yosef accept as fact that Sephardim do go to Tashlich.

In his notes, R. Ovadiah Yosef explains that in this matter Sephardim follow the Arizal, and
disputes the Gaon R. Moshe Sternbuch, who states in his Mo’adim U’zemanim (Vol. I, 34) that the Gaon of Vilna did not say it, nor do many Gedolim as well as Sephardim.

R. Ovadiah Yosef also explains that going to Tashlich on Shabbat is permissible only where the body of water is within the boundaries of the locality’s eruv.

He reasons that we follow the rule of “zerizim umakdimim lemitzvot – The zealous perform their religious duties early.” [The Gemara (Pesachim 4a) refers to Abraham's haste in performing the mitzva of the Akeda].

Thus, it would be proper to say Tashlich on the first day, even on a Sabbath, rather than wait until the second day of Rosh Hashana.

However, a problem arises because there are numerous prayers that we are accustomed to recite as part of Tashlich, and we fear that people might carry a machzor outside the permitted boundaries, much as we delay blowing the shofar to the second day of Rosh Hashana when the first day falls on a Sabbath, because “he might carry it four cubits in the public domain”  (Rosh Hashana 29b). In such a case, R. Ovadiah Yosef agrees that we delay until the
second day.

However, after citing an almost equal number of sources for both sides of the issue, he concludes that Sephardim will recite Tashlich on the first day, including those who are more stringent and do not carry even in an area that has an eruv; they are able to go to Tashlich by having minors carry the machzorim for them.

Ashkenazim, however, generally follow the Chida (Birkei Yosef ch. 583), who states that it is a Kabbalistic rule that we do not say Tashlich on the Sabbath, but postpone it to the second day.

Similarly, the Gaon R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin, zt”l, notes in his Hamo’adim BaHalacha (Hilchot Rosh Hashana) that it would be permissible to go to Tashlich on the first day that falls on a Sabbath. However, he cites the Pri Megadim who states that “in some places I have seen that when the first day falls on Shabbat, they go to the river on the second day…”

It seems that the custom in all places is not to go to Tashlich on a Sabbath but rather to wait until the second day.

In Likutei Maharich (Rosh Hashana Vol. 3 p. 772) the Gaon R. Yisrael Chaim Friedman notes that if one did not say Tashlich on either of the two days of Rosh Hashana, one says it on any of the days of Aseret Yemei Teshuva, the Ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Lipchitz’s Prayer

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

No time of prayer is more intense than at Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, as we literally pray for our lives, our sustenance, and ultimately, our salvation. Our fate hangs in the balance poised between the gates of mercy and the awesome judgment we fear. No other contemporary sculpture so terrifyingly captures this primal apprehension and hope of the Days of Awe than Jacques Lipchitz’s The Prayer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art seen in the recent exhibition “Jacques Lipchitz and Philadelphia.”

Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) was born in Druskieniki, Lithuania and after schooling in Bialystok, went to Paris in 1909, then into the cauldron of the modern art revolution. Picasso and Braque, among others, were creating an entirely new way of seeing and depicting the world in Cubism. Lipchitz quickly established himself as one of the leading proponents of
Cubist sculpture. The bronzes shown here, including Sailor with Guitar, Woman With Braid and Bather, all from 1914-1917, are masterful meditations on the multiple perspectives of the Cubist vision that preserve the integrity of the human form even as the figure is reassembled with daring wit and cunning creativity.

Early in the 1930′s, Lipchitz abruptly changed both his style and subjects. His form, whether in stone, plaster or cast bronze, became baroquely expressionistic in what seemed like an organic celebration of life. His subjects were now derived from Greek mythology and Jewish life ranging from Prometheus and Theseus to Jacob and David. The subject of Prometheus, the Greek mythic figure who stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind, dominated his work up to the Second World War. His cruel punishment, struggle and ultimate vindication expressed Lipchitz’s concern with oppression and the struggle for liberation as he witnessed the rise of Nazism and rampant anti-Semitism.

As the Nazis invaded France in May 1940, Lipchitz first fled to southern France and then finally was forced to flee to New York in June 1941. He had become a victim (even though he survived) of the vast evil that was consuming Europe, devouring Western culture and the Jewish people. If anything, this was the time for prayer.

The Prayer was first cast from a wax model in a foundry in Long Island City in 1943. Lipchitz struggled with the complex forms that slowly draw us into the composition as we begin to make out a figure of an old man entangled in flame-like foliage. He is clad in a heavy, ornate tallis as he swings a large rooster over his head in the kapparah ritual. He holds in his other hand a book, perhaps a siddur that has burst into flames.

As we look closer the forms becomes more terrifying. The man’s midsection has been ripped open by what appears to be three rams’ heads exposing the form of a fetal lamb, curled up and nascent. It is as if in the very act of kapparah this Jew has been disemboweled, perhaps by the soul shattering blasts of the ram’s horn and has exposed the Azazel that must die on Yom Kippur to atone for the sins of the Jewish people. Lipchitz understood the power of this work explaining that, “The entire subject is the Jewish people, whom I thought of as the innocent victims in this horrible war… I was praying, I was crying when I made this work” (My Life in Sculpture, p. 163).

Further along in the exhibition is a color lithograph, The Sacrifice of Isaac, from 1968. Again, the expressionistic image demands careful study to interpret its meaning. Slowly we can discern a ram’s profile at the bottom and the suggestion of the kneeling figure of Isaac just to its right. Rising above this foundation is the figure of Abraham, knife in his right hand, locked in a struggle with a winged angel. The red ocher, broken color, is unified by a stark, nervous, black line that summarily delineates the figures.

The concept of Abraham struggling with the angel, echoing the Midrash that states that Abraham, even when he was halted, demanded to carry out G-d’s original command, brings us into the terrifying nexus of G-d’s “need” for the test. Abraham understood the need for
some kind of sacrifice so that it could come to atone for the Jewish people throughout the ages. Expiation of sin does not come easily. For Yom Kippur to be effective, we must summon the merit of Abraham’s sacrifice along with our sincere teshuvah, fasting, tzedakah, prayer and weeping as we approach G-d.

As I walked back through the exhibition somewhat shaken as these works of art settled into my consciousness, I came upon a small bronze, Biblical Scene II from 1950. A dramatic figure is poised atop a vertical mass of rock about to strike a ram with his knife. Suddenly I realized that Lipchitz had depicted Abraham’s sacrifice of the ram. Upon closer inspection, I could
make out the figure of Isaac below on the left holding the bundle of wood while one other figure waited even further below. But here, Abraham seems triumphant, almost celebrating the successful completion of G-d’s command to sacrifice. This little sculpture, done only five short years after the liberation of the camps and three years after the new State of Israel fought for its survival, celebrates sacrifice and not the saving of Isaac.

The most meaningful art does not provide answers; it only forces us to confront the most difficult of questions. The rest is up to us, just as after Yom Kippur the real challenge of permanent teshuvah and meaningful change lies ahead. Perhaps the challenge of Lipchitz’s
works is best expressed in a quote from a most unlikely source: “Ready must thou be to burn thyself in thine own flame. How couldst thou become new if thou hast not first become ashes!” (Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche).

Richard McBee is a painter of Torah subject matter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at www.richardmcbee.com.

Q & A: Kiddush Levana (Part I)

Wednesday, November 26th, 2003
QUESTION: Why do we say Shalom Aleichem at Kiddush Levana, when we bless the new moon, and why do we do so three times? Is it because we have not seen a new moon for a whole month? Can you explain a little more about this mitzva?
Ira Warshansky
Philadelphia, PA
ANSWER: Indeed you are correct in your assumption that we are pleased to see the moon return, and for good reason, as it is the moon which forms the basis for the Jewish year.In the very first Rashi commentary on the Bible we find the statement that the Torah should have begun from the verse in Parashat Bo (Exodus 12:1), “Vayomer Hashem el Moshe ve’el Aharon be’eretz Mitzrayim lemor, Hachodesh hazeh lachem rosh chodashim, rishon hu lachem lechodshei hashana – Hashem said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: This month is to be for you the beginning of months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year”. This is the first mitzva that the Jewish people were commanded as a people. And since the main purpose of the Torah consists of its commandments, beginning the Torah with a mitzva would seem to make sense. (We do find a few commands in the Book of Genesis, such as the command to be fruitful and multiply [peru u'revu], circumcision on the eighth day, and gid ha’nasheh [the prohibition of eating the sinew of the thigh], which could have been included along with the other commandments had G-d so intended.)

Siftei Chachamim explains Rashi’s statement to mean that the Torah did not have to include all the incidents and historical accounts of our forefathers, as these could have been included separately in another volume, just as we have the Book of Joshua and others.

“Hachodesh hazeh” includes the first mitzva (rosh chodesh), a most important one. As we see in both the first and second chapter of Tractate Rosh Hashana, extreme care was given to the proper timing and proclamation of rosh chodesh. Based on witnesses’ testimony, the precise timing of rosh chodesh was crucial for the proper functioning of the Jewish calendar, which is based on the monthly cycle of the moon. Our calendar incorporates another requirement: All the festivals must occur during their proper seasons.

Yet our sages understood that if one were to strictly follow a single set of rules, it would be impossible to satisfy the other requirement. Therefore, a whole formula of calculation was instituted to synchronize the requirements. Ibn Ezra (Shemot 12:1) explains this in great detail.

We know that our festivals are very dependent on the lunar cycle since all biblical references to their yearly arrival is based on the timing of the months. Passover arrives on the 15th of Nissan (the first month), and Shavuot follows 49 days later. Rosh Hashana is referred to as the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei), Yom Hakippurim as the tenth day of that month, and Sukkot comes on the 15th.

Rashi (ad loc.) explains, quoting the Mechilta (Shemot Rabbah), that G-d actually showed Moses the exact shape of the moon that one must see to determine that a specific viewing constitutes a new moon.

The Gemara (Menachot 29a) explains that a Tanna of the school of R. Yishmael taught that three matters remained difficult for Moses until G-d specifically showed them to him with His finger. All three include the word zeh (this): the menorah in the Holy Temple, as it says (Numbers 8:4), “And this is the workmanship of the candelabra”; rosh chodesh, as it says (supra), “This month is to be for you …”; and sheratzim, creeping creatures, as it says (Leviticus 11:29), “And this shall be for you unclean…” Others add even a fourth, the laws of ritual slaughtering, as it says (Exodus 29:38), “And this is what you shall offer upon the altar.” Rashi (Menachot 29a) explains that in all these cases Moses was not able to discern on his own precisely how it had to be done.

The mishna (Rosh Hashana 24a) tells us that based on what Moses saw, and what was subsequently handed down from generation to generation, R. Gamaliel fashioned a picture of the moon in its various phases and would ask the witnesses to a new moon, “Did you see such or did you see such?” as a means of ascertaining whether it was indeed a new moon.

Thus we see that the mitzva of the sanctification of the month is one of such exacting specifications that only after it was shown to Moses by G-d did Moses fully understand it.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 42a) teaches us another mitzva associated with the new moon – Kiddush Levana. The Gemara quotes R. Acha b. Chanina who said in the name of R. Asi in R. Yochanan’s name: “He who blesses the new moon in its due time welcomes, as it were, the Holy Presence, for it states in our verse (supra), ‘This month is to you …’ and it says in yet another verse (Shirat HaYam, Exodus 15:2), ‘… This is my G-d, I shall glorify Him….’”

It was taught in the school of R. Yishmael that had Israel merited only to greet the Presence of their Father in Heaven but once every month, that would have been sufficient. Rashi explains this to mean that even if this had been their only mitzva, in and of itself it would suffice to sustain us. Abaye says that therefore we must recite that prayer while standing.

The Gemara then quotes R. Yehuda, who would bless the new moon with the text that we recite today, as quoted both by Rambam (Hilchot Berachot 16) and by the Tur and R. Yosef Caro (Orach Chayyim 426, Hilchot Rosh Chodesh). The Tur and the Mechaber add extra verses quoted from Tractate Soferim (20:2), which also quotes the Gemara in Sanhedrin: “Siman tov etc.,” three times, “Baruch yotzrech etc.” three times while “dancing” (rising on our toes), “Keshem she’ani ro’ked etc.” three times, “Tippol aleihem etc.” (May Your fear and dread fall upon them etc.) stepping three times forwards and three times backwards,
and “Shalom aleichem” three times.

Our present text includes some variations of extra prayers that we have added over time.

But why are these various pesukim said three times? The Perisha (O.C. 426) explains that we say Shalom alecha (actually we say Shalom aleichem) three times because we previously cursed our enemies with “Tippol aleihem.” Thus we are assuring our friends that we do not wish this upon them, but rather peace (shalom).

One may find it rather odd that the Perisha does not explain why the other verses are said three times, including “Tippol aleihem,” which is the reason for saying “Shalom aleichem” three times.

(To be continued)

Q & A: ‘Bal Tosif’ And The Shofar Blasts (Conclusion)

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003
QUESTION: I do not understand the practice of blowing so many extra blasts of the shofar, as is done in most synagogues on Rosh Hashana. Is that not in violation of the command bal tosif, as stated in Deuteronomy (13:1), “You shall not add to [G-d's commandments]“?
Elliot Solomon
(Via E-Mail)
ANSWER: Last week we discussed the types and the sequence of the shofar blasts. This week we present our conclusion, focusing on the concept of adding to the minimum required number of blasts.

* * *

Tosafot (Rosh Hashana 33b) s.v. “Shiur teruah”, refer to the Aruch (by Rabbi Natan ben Rabbi Yechiel zt”l, a contemporary of R. Gershom Me’or Hagolah and Rashi). We now quote from the text as found in the Aruch, under the entry “arev de’halin”, where he states as follows – referring to the verse (Isaiah 25:8), “Bila hamavet la’netzach… – Death shall be destroyed forever…” and another verse (ibid. 27:13) stating, “Vehayah ba’yom hahu yitaka be’shofar gadol – And it shall be on that day that a great shofar will be sounded…”: When Satan hears the shofar the first time, sometimes he is alarmed and sometimes he is not alarmed. But when he hears the shofar blast a second time, he is suddenly aware that the shofar blast is the great shofar heralding his own destruction, and he is thus shaken and confused and has no time to prosecute. (See Rosh Hashana 16b, where the Gemara explains that some of the blasts are performed while sitting and some while standing in order to confuse Satan).

From here, continues the Aruch, we learn that those who are strict blow 30 blasts while “sitting”, namely, before the amida (of Mussaf); 30 during the silent Shemoneh Esreh; and 30 according to the order [of Malchuyot, Zichronot, Shofarot in the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh]. These sounds parallel the 100 sobs of the mother of Sisera [when she heard of her son's defeat (Shoftim 5:28)]. Since the blasts listed here only total 90, the Aruch continues, an additional 10 [blasts] are blown when they finish the entire prayer, and this last set must  be TaShRaT, TaShaT, TaRaT, a set of 10 blasts, for a total of 100. (The custom is to blow these 10 blasts during the concluding Kaddish.)

We can now address your interesting question. The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 33b) concludes that we fulfill the mitzva with 30 blasts. Nevertheless, we follow the Aruch and blow an additional 70 blasts. You ask whether, in doing so, we transgress the prohibitory precept of “bal tosif.”

This precept is derived from two biblical verses. One is found in Parashat VaEt’chanan (Deuteronomy 4:2): “Lo tosifu al hadavar asher anochi metzaveh et’chem velo tigre’u  mimenu … – You shall not add to that which I have commanded you nor shall you detract from it…” The other verse is in Parashat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 13:1) “Et kol hadavar asher anochi metzaveh et’chem oto tishmeru la’asot, lo tosef alav velo tigra mimenu – Every matter that I have commanded you, you shall take care to observe; you shall not add to it nor shall you detract from it.”

Rashi in his commentary gives numerous instances of how one might violate this command. Some examples are: attempting to enhance the mitzva of tefillin with five parashiyot instead of four, using five species on Sukkot for the mitzva of the lulav (one more than what the Torah commanded), adding a fourth blessing to the three of Birkat Kohanim (see Rosh Hashana 28b, which also discusses netifat hadam, the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices. The blood of a sacrifice which requires only one sprinkling, such as that of a firstborn animal sacrifice, is not to be mixed with the blood of other sacrifices, such as shelamim or asham - peace offerings or guilt offerings - which require four sprinklings. This is also a case of not adding and not diminishing.)

Commenting on the verse in Deuteronomy (4:2), Da’at Zekenim explains that if one adds to a commandment, one is considered to be detracting from it because of the rule of “Kol hamosif gore’a” – Whosoever adds, detracts. Therefore, should one add a fifth tzitziyot, he has lost out by not fulfilling the required mitzva of four tzitiyot. Likewise, as Rashi states, a fifth parasha in the tefillin, or five species for the precept of lulav (and etrog) invalidate the entire mitzva.

Da’at Zekenim then concludes by explaining that if one sits for eight days in the sukka, the eighth day is not added to the seven days to invalidate them, and what he has done (on the seven previous days) is considered to be a fulfillment of the mitzva. Da’at Zekenim bases this opinion on the Gemara’s (Sukka 47a) conclusion in reference to the eighth day, which might actually be the seventh day: “The halacha is that indeed we do sit in the sukka, but we may not recite the beracha (leishev basukka).”

Beit Yosef in his commentary on the Tur (Orach Chayyim 668) cites the Rosh, who explains that the reason we do not recite the blessing (leishev basukka) is that the last day is referred to as Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Assembly (which is considered a separate festival). If it is still Sukkot then it is not Shemini Atzeret. On the other hand, if it is Shemini Atzeret it is not Sukkot. Since we have a doubt, we opt for strictness and continue to eat in the sukka. However, we do not recite the blessing.

If such is the case, then why not use the lulav on that day as well, as we have done throughout Sukkot? Beit Yosef explains that as regards the lulav they did not wish to rule that we should take it without reciting a blessing – since there is a doubt – because it would then be considered muktzeh on Yom Tov. As regards the sukka, at times sitting in the the sukka is quite pleasurable, and thus we will eat in it on the last day of Yom Tov (Shemini Atzeret).

Regarding tekiat shofar, we might ask whether it can be compared to the mitzva of lulav, and thus we may not blow any additional blasts beyond the 30, or whether it is similar to the sukka, where, although we do not recite a blessing, we do sit in it (on the eighth day). Do we violate “bal tosif” when blowing beyond the first 30 blasts?

Tosafot (Rosh Hashana 16b s.v. “Vetok’im”; and note also Tosafot 28b s.v. “Umina teimra”) ask this question. How can the Gemara state that we blast the shofar when we sit (before the amida), preceded by the two berachot, Lishmo’a kol shofar and Shehecheyanu – see Orach Chayyim 585:2, Hilchot Rosh Hashana – and then blast the shofar when we stand (during the amida) in order to confuse Satan, when this seems to be a violation of “bal tosif”, not to add to a mitzva?

Tosafot then postulate that since the first set of tekiot fulfill the obligation, any additional blasts would not be in a timely manner of performance. Since the mitzva has been [completely] fulfilled, there cannot be a violation of “bal tosif.” That is further explained by Tosafot regarding Birkat Kohanim, the [three] priestly blessings to which a kohen may not add a blessing of his own. As long as it is still within the time when the Priestly Blessing may be recited, and possibly another assemblage in need of the Priestly Blessing will call upon his services, he may not insert a blessing of his own (because that would be a hefsek, an interruption). Here as well, perhaps it is possible that another congregation will seek out the ba’al tekiah to blast the shofar for them, thus it is still timely, and any additional blasts possibly constitute a bal tosif.

Tosafot then allay this concern and point out that the rule of bal tosif is not relevant when one fulfills a mitzva (in its entirety) more than one. Thus, even where a kohen blesses the same assemblage twice (the three berachot are recited twice) or if one takes the lulav twice, or in our case, if one blasts the shofar (the required thirty blasts) and then blasts again, or regarding the sprinkling of blood of the sacrifice of the firstborn animal, and the kohen sprinkles at the same corner (of the altar) twice, this is not considered a violation of bal tosif.

Yet even with the analysis of Tosafot we still do not fully comprehend how it is not bal tosif. For further clarification, we turn to Responsum 20 of the Ketav Sofer (R. Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer-Shreiber, zt”l, one of the great poskim of Hungarian Jewry in the 19th century), where his main topic is the sukka on the eighth day, on Shemini Atzeret, regarding eating, sleeping, etc. In that responsum he discusses our problem at great length. He cites Rashba (in Rosh Hashana 16b), who states as follows: “Whenever there is an enactment by the Sages (which appears to be in violation of bal tosif), there is actually no bal tosif, and thus we may add to the blasts of the shofar and, likewise we sit in the sukka on the eighth day – which is possibly the seventh day - because for a mitzva to be considered in an untimely fashion there is a need of intent (kavana), and without that element of premeditation there is no bal tosif.”

Rashi (Eruvin 96a) s.v. “ve’od ha’yashen ba’shemini basukka” states that if the day is indeed the eighth day, it is understood that the specific intent is not to fulfill any obligation of sukka. This would be satisfactory in a case where there is true doubt. Today we are considered “beki’im bi’keviat di’yarcha,” experts at calculating the calendar, and thus when we observe a second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora, we keep the traditions of our fathers, as our sages instruct us. Since we do it at the behest of our sages, there is no bal tosif.

Similarly, in our case we deduce that where the Sages have decreed to blast the shofar again (and it appears to be timely), one is considered to be an annuss, one who is forced against his will to fulfill the instruction of the Sages. According to Rav Shreiber’s scholarly thesis, as we noted at the outset, our blasting of the extra tekiot on Rosh Hashana does not violate bal tosif.

Indeed, may the final blast of the shofar at the conclusion of Yom Kippur shatter Satan as well as those who wish Klal Yisrael any harm, and may it herald the beginning of our final redemption. As we read (Isaiah 27:13), “Vehayah bayom hahu yitaka beshofar gadol, u’[b]a’u ha’ovdim be’eretz Ashur ve’hanidachim be’eretz Mitzrayim vehishtachavu la’Hashem behar hakodesh biYerushalayim - And it shall be on that day that a great shofar will be sounded, all those who were lost in the land of Ashur will come, and the outcasts in Egypt, and they will bow to Hashem on His holy mount in Jerusalem.”

Le’shana haba’ah biYerushalayim ha’benuya – Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem.

Q & A: ‘Bal Tosif’ And The Shofar Blasts (Part I)

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003
QUESTION: I do not understand the practice of blowing so many extra blasts of the shofar, as is done in most synagogues on Rosh Hashana. Is that not in violation of the command bal tosif, as stated in Deuteronomy (13:1), “You shall not add to [G-d's command-ments]“?
Elliot Solomon
(Via E-Mail)
ANSWER: As we shall show throughout our discussion, there is no problem of bal tosif (the prohibition against adding to the mitzvot, based on the above-mentioned verse in Devarim 13:1, as well as Devarim 4:2, which states: “Do not add to that which I [G-d] command you”) in regard to the “extra” shofar blasts that we correctly blow. However, first we will review an earlier discussion to specify the number of shofar blasts required on Rosh Hashana.That discussion is based in part on the concise essay of Harav Yosef Grossman, zt”l, in Otzar Erchei Hayahadut (p. 446), with some additions regarding the 100 blasts.

The main mitzva of the day of Rosh Hashana is the blowing of the shofar. Indeed, in the Torah the day is referred to as one of blasting the shofar, “yom teruah” (Parashat Pinchas, Bamidbar 29:1) and “zichron teruah, a remembrance of the shofar blasting” (Parashat Emor, Vayikra 23:24). We find that the purpose of the blasting of the shofar is to serve “le’zikaron lifnei elokeichem… – As a remembrance before your G-d” (Parashat Beha’alotecha, Bamidbar 10:10).

Indeed, we find the following in the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 39:3): “When Hashem rises to sit upon the throne of judgment, He rises with the intent of judgment … but when the Israelites take their shofarot and blast before Hashem, He arises from the throne of judgment and sits on the throne of mercy.’

In the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 16a) we find an explanation for the power of the shofar. Rabbi Abbahu asks, Why do we blast with a shofar of an ayil (a ram’s horn)? Says the Holy One, Blessed Be He, Blast before Me with a ram’s horn in order that I remember the binding of Isaac, son of Abraham [on the altar], and I will thus consider it as though you have bound yourselves [on the altar] before Me.

We also find in Parashat Beha’alotecha (Bamidbar 10:9) that the shofar blasting serves as a prayer for heavenly help in time of need: “Vechi tavo’u milchama be’artzechem al hatzar hatzorer et’chem vahare’otem bachatzotzrot, venizkartem lifnei Hashem Elokeichem venosha’tem me’oyveichem – And if you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresses you, you shall blast on the trumpets and you shall be remembered before Hashem your G-d, and you shall be saved from your enemies.”

In Tehillim (98:6) we find that the blasting of the shofar elevates the glory of the kingship of Hashem so that it is the most exalted upon the land, as the verse says, “Bachatzotzrot vekol shofar hari’u lifnei hamelech Hashem - With trumpets and the sound of the shofar, call out before the King, Hashem.”

Rambam (Hilchot Teshuva 3:4) states that while the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashana is a Biblical decree (Bamidbar 29:1), it also has another message: “Wake up, you sleepy ones, from your sleep, and those in lethargy, arise from your slumber. Search your ways and return with repentance and remember your Creator…”

As to the order of the blasts of the shofar, the Mishna (Rosh Hashana 33b) explains that first there are three sets of three types of sound each – a tekiah, a teruah, and a tekiah. We repeat this set three times. We derive this from the hermeneutic principle of gezera shava. The word “shevi’i” (the seventh [month]) is stated regarding Rosh Hashana and applies as well to Yom Hakippurim of Yovel, the Jubilee year, and vice versa. “Teruah” is mentioned three times in the Torah in relation to holidays, twice in reference to Rosh Hashana – in Parashat Emor (Vayikra 23:24), “In the seventh month, on the first of the month… a remembrance of teruah,” and also in Parashat Pinchas (Bamidbar 29:1), “And in the seventh month, on the first of the month … there shall be a day of teruah for you.” The third mention of teruah is found in Parashat Behar (Vayikra 25:9) in relation to Yom HaKippurim of the Jubilee year: “You shall sound a shofar blast of teruah in the seventh month, on the tenth of the month, on Yom HaKippurim of the
Jubilee shall you sound the shofar.”

The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 33b) explains that we derive from this last verse in Parashat Behar that every teruah requires a tekiah before and after, since the verse states “…a shofar blast of teruah … shall you sound the shofar…” [shofar is in this case representative of the one-note tekiah blast]. Thus we blow tekiah, teruah, tekiah, and this is the requirement according to the Torah.

However, since our sages (ibid. 34a) were in doubt as to whether the teruah is a sobbing sound [which would require tekiah, teruah, tekiah] or a moaning sound [which would require tekiah, the three sounds of the shevarim - (lit. broken sounds or blasts - and tekiah], it was decided to combine them to create tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah. This became the enactment of Rabbi Abbahu in Caesarea.

We thus blow a set of tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah (TaShRaT) three times, a set of tekiah, shevarim, tekiah (TaShaT) three times, and a set of tekiah, teruah, tekiah (TaRaT) three times - for a total of 30 blasts.

In the weekday Shemoneh Esreh we recite 18 (19 when we include Ve’lamalshinim) blessings, and on a holiday we recite seven: the first three blessings are, as always, Avot, Mechayyeh Hameitim and Kedushah, and the last three, as always, Hamachazir Shechinato Letziyyon, Hoda’ah and Shalom [the middle one is the blessing of kedushat hayom]. On Rosh Hashana we add an additional three blessings: Malchuyot (kingship), Zichronot (remembrance), and Shofarot (shofar blasts). It is at the conclusion on these three blessings that we blow the shofar in the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh, thus they are called the tekiot di’me’ummad, blasts [blown] when standing, which are separate from the tekiot di’meyushav, blasts [blown] when sitting (which also number 30) that precede the Shemoneh Esreh.

In some congregations we find a third set, the tekiot belachash, the blasts blown when we are reciting the silent Shemoneh Esreh.

Our present-day order of TaShRaT, TaShaT, TaRaT for each series in tekiot di’me’ummad and the additional 30 blasts at the conclusion of Mussaf follows the custom of the Shelah, (as cited by the Baer Heitev, Orach Chayyim 592:1), who differs with both the Mechaber and the Rema. [The Mechaber indicates TaShRaT for Malchuyot, TaShaT for Zichronot, and TaRaT for Shofarot, while the Rema posits TaShRaT for all three.]

Insofar as today’s practice of blowing 100 blasts - 30 are actually sufficient. In fact, my good friend Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Rosh Kollel Aishel Avraham, recalls that when HaRav Yaakov Yitzhak Halevy Ruderman, zt”l, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshiva Ner Israel in Baltimore, was sick in bed on Rosh Hashana, he asked Rabbi Spivak, his student at the time, to blow the shofar for him. Not wishing to cause undue inconvenience, Rabbi Ruderman noted that 30 blasts would be sufficient.

Even so, we find that as a general rule we blow 30 blasts before the Shemoneh Esreh, another 30 during the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh, and another 10 following the Shemoneh Esreh, during the Kaddish. Following that, there are an additional 30 blasts - as we noted, some congregations follow the custom of the Arizal and blow those 30 blasts in the silent Shemoneh Esreh – thus totaling 100 blasts.”

Now we are left with a question: If 30 blasts are indeed sufficient, why do we blow an additional 70 and, if so, why are those not considered to violate the bal tosif, as you ask?

(To be continued)

Tasty Wishes For A Sweet New Year

Friday, October 17th, 2003

 Old favorites and new delicacies add up to wonderful additions to a Yom Tov meal.

Flaky dough filled with apples and raisins and covered with a light glaze - great for a Rosh Hashana side dish or appetizer and easier than pie with Athens Fillo Dough Pastry Sheets. Produced by Athens Foods (OK parve), these new packages contain two 8-ounce rolls of fillo dough, each in their own sealed pack. The beauty of this packaging is that if you are making a small batch, you don’t have to worry about thawing out a whole package. And the variety of ingredients with which you can fill the dough is unlimited. We tried fried onions (just cover with a layer of sesame seeds and bake), the apple and raisins I mentioned above, and
our all time favorite - chopped meat. Just prepare the chopped meat as you would for meatloaf or hamburger - bake until done and then cool. We then cut off small cubes and filled the fillo dough - then just heat and serve. You can also order a free 100-page recipe book from the company - for more information visit their website at www.athens.com.

While you are in the frozen section, continue looking until you find the large selection of products under the Ratner’s label (produced by King Kold Frozen Foods, OU parve and dairy). They have potato blintzes and knishes, cheese blintzes, mini potato pancakes – all the old classics with the great Ratner’s taste. But there are some great new additions as well – our family loved the Veggie Grillers. These are vegetable burgers that are made to look like they have been on the grill – they are all natural, high in fiber and low in fat – and just delicious.
Our Staten Island testers tried the bow-ties and kasha – ready to eat in just a few minutes - and loved it; it was one of the best they had ever tasted. There are also the famous Ratner’s soups - all great tasting and easy to prepare. For a full list of products, check out their website at www.kingkold.com.

Next, take a walk over to the low-carb section, where you’ll find some new products by our old friends at O’ So Lo Foods Inc. They have a line of lo-carb sweet ‘rollz’ (OU parve) that are the closest thing a low-carb eater can find to a Danish. Available in Banana Walnut and Cinnamon Raisin, they are incredibly sweet and tasty. We toasted the banana walnut and tried it with a smear of cream cheese - just delicious. We have a few low-carb eaters in the building and these rolls are part of their daily meals. At 3.3 grams of carbs per roll, they are a great snack or an easy and simple breakfast. For a complete list of all products and flavors visit their website www.osolo.com.

For this next item, I’d love to send you over to the salsa aisle, but the Bandana Bandito (KSA parve) products are so high end you won’t find them in your local grocery. Their amazing line of salsa and relish are available in a few specialty shops or on the web at www.bandito.com. Now, you may wonder, why bother going on the Internet when I can just
go to the grocery? Because this stuff is great. Don’t just take my word for it, we gave out samples of some great flavors and everyone who tasted them loved it. Their salsa comes in incredible flavors - mango, peach, raspberry, apple (absolutely loved by our executive department), black bean corn, roasted garlic and other flavors in hot and fiery. The jars are
adorable as well - each comes with its own little bandana. So take a look at their website and find out why Bandana Bandito offers you the best of two cultures.

Now, as long as you’re on the Internet - I have another fantastic specialty product for you to look for. The Republic of Tea (OU parve) sells tea, herbs and many tea-related products. You can try flavors like Jasmine Jazz - a combination of Chinese tealeaves and jasmine – or
Wuyi Oolong – a tea grown near western Taiwan, considered one of the rarest teas in the world. The tea bags come in delightful tins with beautiful pictures and wonderful sayings. But The Republic of Tea sells more than just teabags. We tried their delicious bottled iced tea - sold in the most exclusive restaurants. The flavor we tried was Organic Ginger Peach, with absolutely no sweeteners added - no sugar or honey - and a very refreshing clean taste. They also have a full line of products to make your tea drinking more pleasurable - tea strainer,
elegant teapots and the all important tea spoon. Their catalog itself is a joy to look at – you can find the entire selection on their website at www.republicoftea.com.

Shopping for Rosh Hashana is never complete without certain staples – a nice roast, new fruit, a few jars of honey and of course, gefilte fish. Just the smell of the fish cooking – salt, pepper, some sugar and carrots – is enough to make you smile. Benz’s Food Products (Star-K, Tartikover Bais Din, parve) an old family friend for almost 20 years – are connoisseurs in the gefilte fish market. This week we sampled gefilte fish and horseradish – the fish was not overly sweet, with just a hint of carrot, and the horseradish was strong enough for my husband and yet not too overpowering for me. The fish is available in regular loaf size or a twin pack, and you can also enjoy the great Benz’s taste without the work – in their 24 oz jar. Benz’s also has a full line of regular grocery products – ketchup, canned goods, frozen vegetables and more. As always, their full line of products can be found in your local kosher grocery or supermarket.

From my family to yours, best wishes for a happy, healthy and safe new year. 


Friday, September 28th, 2001

One of the favorite food staples in the Jewish home during the High Holy Day season is honey. Traditionally, from Rosh Hashana until after Succot, honey is served with every major meal. It is smeared on the bread over which we recite the Hamotzi blessing, the sweet apple is dipped into honey on the night of Rosh Hashana, sweet baked goods are baked with honey, and honey is used in the preparation of foods such as glazed carrots and sweet desserts. Aside from the caloric disaster that this custom entails, one is really hard pressed to find a negative thing to say about honey. The custom of honey on the Jewish table during the period of the Tishrei holidays which will begin in three weeks is an ancient and universal Jewish custom. It is already recorded in the works of the Babylonian Geonim in the seventh century and probably dates back to even much earlier times. It is no exaggeration to say that Jews always seemed to possess a sweet tooth.

The obvious reason for the use of honey on our table at this time of the year is the symbolism of our desire for a sweet new year. Sweet means dear, precious, enjoyable, satisfying, serene, secure and something most pleasing. Well, that about sums up our hopes and prayers for the new year and therefore honey serves as our representative in expressing these fervent hopes and prayers. However, honey represents more than sweetness per se. It is one of the attributes of the Land of Israel which is described in the Bible as being a land that “flows with milk and honey.” Thus honey on the table always reminded the Jew wherever he or she resided, of their ancient homeland of Israel and of the Jewish attachment to its history and holy soil. The honey referred to in the land flowing “with milk and honey” is not the common bee honey that we use today, but describes rather the honey of Biblical times that was primarily produced from overripe dates. Even today, here in Israel, date honey is produced and sold, though again the overwhelming majority of honey on the market here comes from bees.

The use of bee honey as a permissible kosher food raises an interesting halachic question. The general rule is that food products that are derived from non-kosher creatures are never considered to be kosher for Jewish use as a food. Bees are a non-kosher species of insect life and therefore one would think that the honey that they produce within the sacs of their bodies would also not be kosher. Yet, we find in the Bible that bee honey was eaten without compunction, the story in the book of Shoftim (Judges), of Samson and the bees producing honey on the lion's carcass being only one such Biblical example of honey being used as a legitimate Jewish food. Why is this different from, let us say, milk from a camel that remains non-kosher, since the camel itself which gave the milk is a non-kosher animal? The rabbis of the Talmud studied the problem and decided that the sac in the bee that contains the honey is halachically considered to be only a storage place of the honey and neither it or the honey produced are an integral part of the bee's body, whereas the milk-producing organs and the lactating process of the camel are an integral part of the camel's circulatory and digestive system and thus the camel and its milk product both have the same halachic status of being non-kosher. The same logic applies to permitting the use of resinous glaze in kosher products today even though the product originally comes from the body of the insect lac which is found on the trees of rain forests. There too the sac that contains the glaze and the glaze itself are not considered to be an integral part of the body of the lac insect itself.

Its symbolism of sweetness in life, its connection to the Land of Israel, its role in halachic discussion, decision and precedent concerning its kashrut, all have combined to make honey a “Jewish” food. The use of honey as a food is certainly one of the more enjoyable customs of Jewish tradition. May its symbolism of sweetness truly be a harbinger of delight for the good year that is about to begin for all of us.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food/jewish-fress/honey/2001/09/28/

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