This Shabbat is the
108th day (of 383); the 16th Shabbat (of 55) of 5765
Z'MANIM - HALACHIC
TIMES - Correct for TT #649
Sunset, on the other hand, is given for an elevation of 825m and, in parentheses, as if at sea level. There are different opinions as to which sunset time should be used for halachic purposes. We present both times.
The deadlines for the SH'MA and the Shacharit Amida can be calculated in two ways. Either considering the day to be from sunrise to sunset or from dawn to stars out. The first way of reckoning is known as the opinion of the GR"A, and is the first time given in each case. The second method is known as the Magen Avraham, and is presented in parentheses.
Aside from candle lighting and havdala, the times are presented as a range, from the current Thursday of the issue of Torah Tidbits until the coming Thursday, a span of 8 days. Days between the two Thursdays can be determined by interpolation (which means: a method by which to estimate a value of between two known values-this is something that people above a certain age might remember from high school trigonometry and logarithms, but younger people who went to school during the calculator era might not be familiar with).
It is usually wise to
"pad" the times with a minute or two in the "play it safe"
direction. E.g. Plag Mincha. Better to finish Mincha a minute or two
before the given time. But, better to not light candles until a
minute or two after the given time.
Aside from being a
month, Tevet is also one of the four T'kufot, seasons, of the year -
T'kufat Tishrei (officially, the beginning of the fall - autumnal
equinox), Tevet (winter solstice), Nisan (vernal equinox), and Tamuz
(summer solstice). Actually, the T'kufot do not match up well with
the seasons' beginnings because we use an admittedly inaccurate
(albeit Tradition- al) calculation for the T'kufot. Known as the
T'kufot of Shmuel, it considers the length of a solar year to be
365¼ days, which was the basis of the Julian calendar, rather than
the more accurate calculations of Rav Adda. The only practical use
of the T'kufot are the beginning of Tal U'Matar season in Chutz
LaAretz (60 days after T'kufat Tishrei), and the once in 28 years
Birkat HaChama, on T'kufat Nisan (next one coming IY"H Wed. April
Now we find ourselves at the beginning of the Book of Sh’mot, the first sedra of the rest of the Torah. The giant personalities from this point on are now Moshe Rabeinu and Aharon HaKohein, but there is a big difference between the rest of the Torah and B'reishit. That difference is not measured by comparing Moshe to Avraham Yitzchak, and Yaakov. The difference for us is that the Avot were alone. It was only them. From Sh'mot on, we are there too. Bnei Yisrael. The multitude of the former small family soon to be nation. And with that, the challenge of reliving the events, of putting ourselves into the situations, become much more real, much more possible to do. Certainly, we take note and hopefully internalize Moshe Rabeinu's concern for his fellow Jews, his chivalry with the daughters of Yitro, his humility... and much more. But there are also thousands of "plain" Jews we were enslaved to Par'o and who were confronted with the day to day struggles and challenges.
"They didn't change
their language, method of dress, their names." But many did. And
those became lost in one way or another in Egypt, to Egypt. What
about each of us? When the Hagada "commands" us to relive the
experiences of the Exodus, at least on a K'ILU (as if) level, we are
also being asked if we are the types of Jews who would have left
Egypt, or would we be among the countless Jews who perished during
the plague of Darkness - literally and figuratively. Would we call
out to G-d; would we rally to Moshe's call; what kind of Jews are
SDT The opening words of the sedra/book of Shmot - V'EILEH SH'MOT - form the initial letters of V'chayav Adam Lilmod Sh'nayim Mikra V'echad Targum - And a person is obligated to review the Torah text twice and once in translation. Baal HaTurim extends this acronym to the next two words. His whole statement is: "One who learns the sedra 2+1, singing it pleasantly, shall merit long life."
SDT The final letters of the opening words (sofei teivot) rearrange to spell the word T'HILIM. When the People of Israel are in trouble (a play-on-words on Egypt - MITZRAYIM - MEITZARIM), they shall use T'hilim to help them focus their prayers to G-d, thereby meriting redemption.
SDT Our first exile was associated with the number 70, the number associated with the members of Yaakov's family who went down to Egypt. The exile following the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash lasted 70 years. The termination of the final exile will be associated with our dominance over, or recognition and respect by the "70 nations" of the world.
"And Yosef and all his brothers and all that generation died." This pasuk (1:6) has a g'matriya (numeric value) of 981. There is one other pasuk in the Torah with that same g'matriya - D'varim 4:4 -
B'HASHEM ELOKEICHEM CHAIM KULCHEM HAYOM:
He instructs the midwives to kill the baby boys at birth to prevent the development of his "potential enemies" (and to kill off the potential redeemer of the People). They refuse to do his bidding and save the lives of the boys.
SDT VA'T'CHAYENA ET HAY'LADIM ...and they gave life to the boys". The Midrash says that not only did the midwives defy Par'o by not killing the boys, they also were responsible for saving those that might have died during childbirth. It is natural that some babies do not survive birth. The midwives were concerned that if they happened to deliver a stillborn, that it might appear as if they had carried out Par'o's orders. Their prayers were answered, and miraculously none of the babies died. Thus they are credited, not just with assisting in the births, but also with giving life to some of the babies.
There is a parallel idea concerning the night of the Exodus. It is said that even the normal deaths that might be expected in a large population did not occur on the night of the Exodus, lest it detract from the miraculous nature of the Night. Thus, we have then similar miracles at either end of the Mitzrayim experience.
SDT AND THEY EMBITTERED
THEIR LIVES... The trup (Torah notes) on these words seem unduly
happy for such sad words. The GR"A points out the "happy" result of
the unusually harsh oppression, namely, that G-d reacted to Egypt's
excess by cutting down our time in bondage to 210 years from the
original prophecy of 400, by counting from the birth of Yitzchak,
rather than from Yaakov's descent into Egypt. Understand that this
is not just an exchange of 210 years of extra harsh conditions for
400 years of regular slavery. Commentaries say that if we did not
get out when we did, we would not have made it to Nationhood.
[P> 2:1 (22)] Amram reunites with Yocheved and a baby boy is born. When he is no longer able to be hidden (some say that Moshe was three months premature; that the Egyptians knew when Yocheved was due; therefore she was able to hide him only for those three months), Yocheved prepares a water-proof basket and sets him on the river under the watchful eye of his sister.
Bat-Par'o finds Moshe
and sends Miriam to bring a wet nurse for the crying infant who
apparently will not nurse from an Egyptian breast. Miriam brings
Yocheved, Moshe's mother, who takes Moshe until he is weaned. From
that point on, Moshe is raised in the royal palace by Bat Par'o
(Batya). She names him Moshe.
"And she called his name Moses, for from the water he was drawn."
Does not quite make it
in English. This is one of the demonstrations that the Torah was
written in Hebrew. Similarly, ADAM was made from the ADAMA. Try that
in English. Copper snake? No, N'CHASH NECHOSHET.
[P> 2:23 (3)] Meanwhile, after much time passes, the king of Egypt dies (or maybe got so sick that it was like he died) and the oppression in Egypt is greatly intensified. The People react by calling out to G-d. He too, “reacts”...
SDT Yosef was identified by the Wine Steward as a NAAR IVRI, a Jewish lad. Moshe was identified by Yitro's daughters as ISH MITZRI, an Egyptian man. Yosef was privileged to have his remains buried in the Land of Israel. Moshe did not have that same "z'chut", although it was mainly Moshe who brought Yosef's remains from Egypt to the threshold of Eretz Yisrael. Gives you pause for thought. No criticism is intended.
SDT When Moshe realized that Datan and Aviram informed on him to Par’o, the Torah tells us that Moshe was afraid. Rashi says that we can understand that literally, and also on a deeper level. With Jews like Datan and Aviram, Moshe feared that the people of Israel might not merit redemption.
(Note that Rashi
includes the p’shat (plain) meaning as well as the additional
meaning. Both apply in this case. It isn't always so that the plain
meaning is retained when there is a drash that is "favored".)
Moshe asks "why me?". G-d assures Moshe that He will be with him and that as proof of the Divine nature of his mission, Moshe will be bringing the people back to "this spot" (Sinai) to "serve G-d" (and receive the Torah).
Furthermore, Moshe is to "reintroduce" G-d to the People. Moshe asks G-d what he should tell the People when he comes to them at G-d's command. G-d's answer spans nine p'sukim (3:14-22). G-d identifies Himself as EH-YEH ASHER EH-YEH (Alef-Hei-Yud-Hei is one of the 7 names of G-d that may not be erased.
Probably the least known of the list of seven.) This name of G-d's has the meaning: I will be with you (Bnei Yisrael) in your time of trouble (in Egypt) as I will be with you in future situations of enslavement and oppression.
SDT Baal HaTurim points out that the letters of this unusual name of G-d total 21. The initial letters of the first three names of G-d in the Thirteen Divine Attributes are YUD, YUD, ALEF = 21 (HaShem, HaShem, Keil...). The initials of the Patriarchs are ALEF, YUD, YUD = 21. The initials of the Five Books of the Torah are BET, VAV, VAV, VAV, and ALEF = 21.
At Moshe's suggestion, so to speak, G-d agreed to be identified to the people as EH-YEH, with the more comforting connotation of "I will be with you", without the implication that there will be other periods of oppression in the future. (based on Rashi).
G-d gives Moshe
detailed instructions as to what to say to the people. He tells
Moshe how the people will react and how Par'o will react. He tells
him about the plagues and about the "friendly" reaction of the
Moshe asks "on what basis will they believe me?" G-d gives Moshe three signs to perform for Par'o and the People.
The three signs are the staff becoming a snake and then turning back to a staff. His hand inserted into his cloak and emerging stricken with TZORAAT and then being restored. Taking water from the river and spilling it on the ground and it turns to blood.
SDT Rashi says that the first two signs were also reprimands to Moshe for speaking against the people and doubting in advance their potential to believe what he would tell them. This is Lashon HaRa, and both the snake and the Tzoraat are associated with Lashon HaRa. The third sign seems to have been specifically selected by G-d (so to speak) to be a bridge and introduction to the MAKOT (plagues), the first of which was an extension, shall we say, of the third sign.
Moshe still questions G-d as to "why me"; G-d gets angry at Moshe for doubting His choice of leader. G-d informs Moshe that Aharon will assist in these matters. Moshe is instructed to have his special staff with him when he presents himself to the People and Par'o.
SDT The Staff, HaMateh.
Baal HaTurim says that there is/was a scribal custom to put Torah
crowns on the TET in the word THE STAFF. This, to say that Moshe was
the ninth (TET=9) righteous individual who had the miraculous staff
in hand. (Pirkei Avot tells us that the Staff was one of the items
created in the instant between the Six Days of Creation and the
first Shabbat B'reishit.) The previous eight are: Adam, Chanoch,
No'ach, Shem, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef.
Rashi says that Moshe's experience at the Burning Bush and his communication with G-d there lasted for SEVEN DAYS! All during that time, G-d was trying (so to speak) to convince Moshe to undertake his mission.
Try this on your kids
and/or Shabbat guests. Ask them how to say MATEH (staff) in Aramaic.
If they don't know, give them a hint: Pesach Seder. The answer is
found in CHAD GADYA - CHUTRA.
On the way, Tzipora circumcises her son. Commentaries explain that Moshe had neither circumcised his son Eliezer because of the danger in traveling when recently circumcised, nor did he postpone his return to Egypt, which would have been in defiance of G-d's command. It seems that he was in error in not having circumcised him, hence his life was in jeopardy until Tzipora performed the circumcision. Another question on this episode concerns the acceptability of a female circumcising. Commentaries get out of that problem in different ways.
[P> 4:27 (29)] G-d tells Aharon to greet Moshe. Moshe tells Aharon all that has happened. They gather the elders and Aharon tells them what will occur. The People believe what they hear and bow to G-d.
SDT Rashi says that the
donkey that Moshe used to bring his family to Mitzrayim was the same
one that Avraham took to the Akeida and the one that the Mashiach
will ride upon. Why not a regular donkey? To tell us that these
monumental events were not haphazard, but rather specially prepared
parts of G-d's master plan for the world.
SDT Notice that the elders are not mentioned. Rashi tells us that one-by-one, the elders "disappeared" (in fear of Par'o) as the entourage was going to Par'o, until only Moshe and Aharon were left. Because of this, it was to be this way at Sinai also. The elders were left at the foot of the mountain and Aharon and Moshe ascended. (Then Aharon stopped and Moshe proceeded to the top alone.)
questioning who this G-d of Israel is. He then increases the burden
on the People (who obviously have too much free time because they
ask for a 3-day release) by requiring them to also collect the straw
for the raw materials of the bricks they have to make.. The leaders
of the People bear the brunt of the new edicts and complain to Par'o.
Par'o blames Moshe; the People react with anger and disappointment.
Moshe tells G-d that his efforts were counter- productive. G-d says
that NOW you (Moshe) will see what G-d will do to Par'o... Maftir is
the last 3 p'sukim.
Unless otherwise indicated, I draw no distinction between houses and other types of structures and even vacant real estate, and therefore I employ the term real estate to mean all of them.
The rental of a house is one of the most important decisions that a person makes since it affects so many aspects of his and his family's life. Similarly, the location of a commercial enterprise may be of utmost importance to the success or failure of the enterprise. Both the owner and the lessee should consult a lawyer for the legal aspects of the rental agreement. The lease should clearly set forth their rights and obligations. But as so many lawyers and so many laymen find out to their dismay, even with well-drawn leases, there may be unanticipated problems, so much more so when the lease is not expertly drawn to reflect the desires and agreements of the parties, and even more so when the parties enter into the landlord/tenant relationship without any written lease.
CAVEAT: Unless otherwise specified, the leases mentioned in these lessons, may be either written or oral or partly written and partly oral.
These lessons set forth some of the laws that apply absent agreement to the contrary, whether because no lease was drawn or the lease failed to adequately provide for the questions that arose.
Halacha makes a distinction between leases that have specified terms of duration, whether for a short period, as, for example, for a day, or for an extended period, such as for 99 years, and anything in between, on the one hand, and leases of real estate that have no specified terms, on the other hand. Halacha also distinguishes between a lease for residential space and one for commercial space.
I have divided the lease for residential space into two sections: (1) where there is a definite term of duration of the lease, and (2) where the lease has no definite duration.
Anything stated in these lessons to the contrary notwithstanding, the agreements between the parties will generally be controlling. This applies to all of the terms upon which they have agreed, whether for the term (length of the lease), rentals to be paid, termination of the lease, holding over by the lessee after the end of the lease, destruction of the premises, changes in circumstances, repairs, paying of taxes and fees, and any other stipulations that are agreed upon between the parties.
In halacha, a lease for real estate is entered into the same way that real estate is purchased. In prior lessons it was stated "In many matters dealing with real estate the halacha specifically follows the law of the land."
The lease is effective even if the lessee has not yet entered upon the real estate; the lease protects him. The lessee may enter upon the real estate whenever he desires.
If the rented real estate is in poor repair before the lessee enters upon the real estate, halacha requires the owner to make repairs, unless it was otherwise specified.
A lease for real estate, whether residential or commercial, may or may not have a definite period of duration. It may have a definite termination date or until the rent paid is used up. A lease of definite duration for real estate may not be unilaterally rescinded, canceled, or revoked by the owner or the lessee without the consent of the other party.
Unless otherwise stipulated between the parties, a lease for a night's lodging is held to be for 24 hours, a lease for a weekend is held to be for 48 hours, and a lease for a wedding is deemed to be for 7 days.
The owner may not cancel the lease before the termination date even if he needs the real estate for himself, for example, when the house in which he resides collapses and he has no other place to live, or if the owner becomes impoverished and must sell his residence to obtain cash and now requires the rented real estate to live in.
The owner cannot compel the lessee to vacate the real estate because the owner wishes to rebuild the improvements on the real estate, even if the owner will provide the lessee with superior real estate during construction and the lessee will be moved back to the real estate when the construction is completed. Unless the lease provides otherwise, the lessee need not permit the owner's workers to enter into the rented real estate to make repairs.
The owner cannot compel the lessee to vacate the real estate even if animosity evolved between the parties unless such a reason for terminating the lease was part of the lease as negotiated between the parties.
Assume that the lease contains a provision that the owner can terminate the lease if he requires the real estate for his own use, and the owner sells the real estate to a purchaser. The purchaser cannot take advantage of this clause; the clause is held to be personal to the owner who entered into the lease and cannot be sold since the requirement of the new owner is not known when the sale takes place.
The rental payments provided for in the lease may not be unilaterally changed even if there is a rise or fall in the cost of living or inflation or deflation, unless the lease so provides.
The owner pleads that
the lease was for a definite term and the lessee pleads that it was
for an indefinite term, or the pleadings are reversed, the owner
pleading that the lease was for a definite term and the lessee
pleads that the lease was for an indefinite term. Each party who
pleads that it was for an indefinite term demands that he is
entitled to notice of termination of the lease, which notice was not
given, and the party pleading that it was for a definite period
pleads that the term ended and no notice is required. In all these
situations the lessee has the burden of proof. Should the lessee
fail to produce proof, the owner takes a hesseth oath (an oath of
Rabbinic origin) and wins the case. If there is a dispute regarding
the rent or other monetary terms, the defendant in the lawsuit must
take a Torah oath if he admits part of the plaintiffs allegations,
and if he does not admit any part of the plaintiffs pleading, he
takes a hesseth oath and wins the lawsuit.
The subject matter of
this lesson is more fully discussed in volume IX chapter 312 of A
Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law by E. Quint. Copies of all volumes
can be purchased via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and via
website: www.israelbooks.com and at local Judaica bookstores.
Questions to email@example.com
Fish, however, live in a totally distinct environment. This reminds us of those talmidei chakhamim (Torah scholars) who are totally submerged in the world of Torah. Torah study and observance has the ability to elevate and sanctify even our basest tendencies. For example, indulgence in eating and sleeping are a mitzva when they contribute to Shabbat delight. Those fish that are kosher, which are susceptible of assimilation to holiness, do not require a demonstrative separation from their environment to become permissible.
While this explanation encompasses both animals (mammals) and fowl, actually there is a difference between them. Shechita of animals must include both the windpipe (the passage for air) and the esophagus (the passage for food). But birds are kosher even if the shochet severed only one of these two passages (SA YD 21:1).
According to one explanation in the gemara, this is because birds are an intermediate level of creation, between animals and fish. "Ovar Glila'ah learned: Animals, which were created from the land, require two signs [windpipe and esophagus]; fish, which were created from the water, require no preparation; birds, which were created from the mud, require one sign." (Chullin 27b. The idea that birds were created partially from the land and partially from the water is found in Rashi on Bereshit 2:8 and 2:19.)
In a previous column we explained the difference between domestic animals (whose abdominal fat is forbidden) and birds and wild kosher animals (whose abdominal fat is permitted). One explanation was that "these animals have more freedom and independence than domestic beasts. Wild animals are completely free, while even domestic birds have the where- withal for freedom in their wings. Our tradition esteems this natural free state; the Yaavetz writes that the reason we have to feed our animals before ourselves is because by domesticating them we have deprived them of their freedom to provide for themselves (Sheilat Yaavetz I:17). More precisely, wild animals obtain their sustenance directly from the Creator, without human intervention. (See Rashi on Bereshit 8:11.) This same explanation can help us here, for birds exemplify freedom and independence even more than wild beasts.
Assembling these elements, we get the following picture: The greatest danger is for man to be enslaved to his animal nature. This is the state represented by domestic beasts. Sanctification can take place only after completely subduing this kind of connection to the material world, as represented by cutting of both signs.
A somewhat higher level of consciousness is where we are still limited to the world of physical reality, but we fully exercise our human freedom. This is the ultimate ideal in many modern ideologies; we see that this level has some value in Torah, but it is not the ultimate value. Even someone at this level is required to attenuate his connection to materiality, as represented by the single sign we sever in a bird. (We may point out that according to halakha, even birds should be slaughtered in both signs when possible.)
And the highest level is someone who manages to connect all his acts to the transcendence of Torah. Such a person is submerged in a completely different world where all of our tendencies are elevated and sanctified, and thus has no need to cut himself off from the world.
Publication Update: Both volumes of the book have already been through page design, type-setting, and proof reading. It won't be long now, IY"H, that we will see it IN PRINT.
Rabbi Meir authors a
popular weekly on-line Q&A column, "The Jewish Ethicist", which
gives Jewish guidance on everyday ethical dilemmas in the workplace.
The column is a joint project of the JCT Center for Business Ethics,
Jerusalem College of Technology - Machon Lev; and Aish HaTorah. You
can see the Jewish Ethicist, and submit your own Qs —
www.jewishethicist.com or www. aish.com
The syndrome of the pious king with an evil heir, followed by a righteous son is a recurring theme in the stories of the kings of Judea. Menashe who had repented from evil, was the son of Hezkiyahu the righteous. His son, Amon, was an evil and sinful king who fathered the tzadik Yoshiyahu. It is interesting to note that Amon's mother came from a town, Yotva, [the site of a present day moshav shitufi of that name] in the Galil, in the former territory of the exiled Ten Tribes. This is further evidence that not all of those tribes were exiled and that the kings of Judah, among them Menashe, kept close connections with the remnants, if not actually ruling over them. Yoshiyahu actually extended his kingdom to include the major areas of the Shomron and Galil in to present day Syria and Lebanon.
Coming after the 22 years of the reign of the reformed Menashe, his son Amon did not follow in the footsteps of his repentant father. Rather, "He walked in the path of his father, Menashe; that is, not following him in his teshuva but in all his previous evil" (Abarbanel, 21:21). In his short reign of two years, he did evil similar to Menashe's first 33 years, in which he had worshiped every form of idolatry imaginable, as well as committed bloodshed and social crimes. The Sages (Sanhedrin 104a) explained that despite his evil acts, it was out of respect for the saintly Yoshiyahu that Amon was not included amongst those kings who forfeited their share in the World to Come. Finally, the Am Ha'Aretz rebelled and assassinated the king in his palace and anointed Yoshiyahu in his stead, although he was only 8 years old, the second youngest of all the kings.
Avraham had dealt with the Am Ha'Aretz of Hevron who sat as city fathers in the gates, in order to have them witness and approve his purchase of Ma'arat HaMachpeila from Efron (Gen.22). In Eishet Chayil we read, "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land" (Mishlei 31:23). In Israel in the days of the Tanach the phrase 'am ha'aretz' had none of its latter day connotations. They were neither people who were careless of the laws of purity as in Mishnaic times nor ignoramuses as in our own days. They were communal leaders, laymen who were actively engaged in every aspect on national life and influential in court circles. Their loyalty to the House of David was an important factor in maintaining the throne of Judah for that house, unlike the constant changes that characterized the Northern Kingdom of Israel through the generations.
Yoshiyahu set about strengthening the Temple buildings as these had weakened during the 200 years that had passed since Yeho'ash had repaired them. There are instructive similarities and differences between these two cases.
In both cases the funds were collected and administered by Levite treasurers and in both of them it was unnecessary to supervise the accounts rendered by the artisans, suppliers of raw materials or the laborers. All of them pursued their work "b'emuna", in faith; that is not merely honestly, but also with trust in Hashem.
Unlike, during the building of the Temple by Shlomo HaMelech, we do not read in either of these cases of foreign workers being used nor of a tax of labor imposed on Israel. The funding in Yoshiyahu's case came from the free will contributions of the people both of Judah and the remnants of the Northern Tribes in Israel.Yeho'ash, in contrast, first tried to finance the work from the annual ½-shekel meant to pay for the communal sacrifices that had not been collected for years under his father and grandfather, and the monies meant for the sin offerings and asham etc. When that proved ineffective, he still relied on the Temple funds and placed a chest next to the mizbei'ach into which the people placed their gifts for the repair of the Temple. Yoshiyahu did not have to purify the Temple, nor remove idols and asheirot that his father and grandfather had placed there, as he did that in the two years previously. On the other hand, Yeho'ash did not remove the bamot at which the people continued to sacrifice despite the ban on such localized worship. Furthermore he had to clear the obstacles that the Queen Mother Atalya bat Achav had erected after she murdered the rest of her grandchildren, in order to make the people's pilgrimages to the Bet HaMikdash more difficult.
It is interesting that neither of the two kings thought it necessary, as an act of, 'zeh keili v'anveihu - He is my G-d and I will glorify Him', to embellish, gild or add to the beauty of the Bet HaMikdash as did Hezkiyahu in his day.
This is the 65th
installment in Dr. Tamari’s series on “Tanach and its messages for
Q In the shul where I am gabbai, there are a few parts of chazarat hashatz (= chaz/hash; repetition of Shmoneh Esrei) where we sing along with the chazan, sometimes a few words and occasionally an entire section. A member of the community complained that it prevents him from hearing the chazan, as he should. Should I step in?
A Public policy matters, certainly in regard to running the tefila, are the local rabbi's domain. In this response we assume that either your shul does not have a rav or you want to know whether or how to bring up the matter to him.
The Tur (Orach Chayim 124) cites the Rosh, who strongly opposed those who recite chaz/hash along with the chazan, for a few reasons. Most of his concerns do not apply (or apply less) in this case, but one main, possible issue may remain (the Rosh's opinion seems to be in dispute). Let us address the Rosh's issues.
Issue 1 - If one says chaz/hash along with the chazan, he is making berachot l'vatala, as he has already said his own Shemoneh Esrei. In our case, congregants recite only sections or words and do not recite the beracha part (see Beit Yosef, ad loc.). The fear that they might continue on to the beracha's conclusion (see Shaarei Teshuva, 124:7) does not apply, assuming there is a standard procedure for singing along in your shul and people never continue on to the beracha.
Issue 2 - By singing along, the person does not get to say "amen," which he is not allowed to say right after he himself makes the same beracha. This too does not apply in our case.
Issue 3 - It is haughty (Mishna Berura 124:16) and lightheaded to sing along out loud. This applies when the chazan is accompanied by a self-appointed assistant(s). However, when the congregation finds it uplifting to sing sections together, it need not be haughty or lightheaded.
Issue 4 - The Mishna Berura (124:18) and Igrot Moshe (OC IV, 19) understand that the requirement that nine people listen to chaz/hash (see also Nefesh Harav, pg. 126) applies not only to the end of each beracha but to its entirety. (The Perisha does not mention this as one of the Rosh's concerns, but he may refer to a case where many others were listening quietly and could hear the chazan.) One might want to claim that since shomei'a k'oneh (one who hears is as if he recites) one can hear part of the chaz/hash from the chazan and hear other parts from others. We do find that when a chazan is unable to continue, we allow someone else to continue (Shulchan Aruch, OC 126:2), so one can fulfill chaz/hash (b'dieved) with multiple chazanim. However, that is only in between berachot. If chazanim change in the middle of a beracha, the new one must start at the beginning of the beracha (ibid.) even if he had been listening to every word until that point (see Mishna Berura 126:8). So, two cannot share one beracha. Furthermore, there is a problem concentrating on words that a group recites in unison (Shulchan Aruch, OC 141:2).
There are a few ways to deal with this problem. Firstly, when only a few words are sung together, the words that are not heard properly usually do not disqualify the beracha (see Mishna Berura 126:10). Even in critical sections, if the congregation only provides some background voices, then there will be nine (if not many more) who hear the chazan clearly enough to fulfill the requirements of chaz/hash. When the congregation drowns out the chazan on entire sections of the tefilla, it is proper for him to wait to recite that section after things quiet down.
Let's put things in perspective. From a purist's approach, it is best for everyone to listen silently to the chazan with great concentration. But we must be realistic. Practically, in most of our shuls, joint singing adds a lot to the atmosphere and increases concentration. Therefore, trying to prevent it is not only unfeasible but is probably counterproductive in regard to the atmosphere necessary to keep our shuls inviting, vibrant and focused.
Ask the Rabbi Q&A is
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"Rebbe", the man asked him: "Why are you giving me more money? You already gave me a donation."
"In the time that we
spent talking, you could have been seeing other people. Just because
I enjoyed our conversation is no reason why you should have to lose
In the context of this dismal situation, the Torah introduces us to Moshe Rabeinu. In the very first prophecy to this Father of Prophets, G-d tells him that He will go into Egypt and take the people out OF Egypt... TO BRING US TO A GOOD AND EXPANSIVE LAND, A LAND FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY... to bring us to Eretz Yisrael. Yes, Eretz Yisrael was a promise to the Avot, for them and their descendants, but for us, Eretz Yisrael is the reason for our redemption from Egypt, the reason for our existence as a nation.
G-d's plan, stated right up front, so to speak, was not merely to free us from Egyptian bondage and oppression. His Plan was to take us from there, give us the Torah, and bring us to Eretz Yisrael.
If we believe in the G-d Who said, "I am the Lord your G-d Who took you out of Egypt...", then we must also believe that He wants us in Eretz Yisrael.
We have caused interruptions in His Plan for us by behaving in such ways that brought about the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (first and second). We have the opportunity in our own time to strengthen our commitment to Torah and Eretz Yisrael and do our share in bringing about the Geula Sh'leima.
The dunnart burrows in
the ground, lives under rocks, or builds nests of leaves and grass
in sheltered places such as hollow logs... Females breed year round,
producing successive litters of up to ten young each time. Gestation
is only 13-16 days... 10-18 different species of dunnart... a 1-day
old dunnart in pouch is as big as a 1/2 CM
In all, five terms of
outpouring of the heart describe the intensity of the people's
reaction to their oppressors, each, it seems, more directed to
Hashem as the servitude increased. We thus learn not only of the
importance of crying out against injustice but also of directing our
prayer so that, like in the days of old, Hashem will "hear" and
"know" (ibid 2:24-25). Perhaps we could also learn the urgency of
prayer now rather than when we are desperate.
Surmounting the Wave
The magnificence of torpid Achaemenian Persia was reserved for the Shah and his entourage hidden away in Persepolis and Shushan HaBira. For this reason, the art and culture of Achaemenian Persia had no real influence on the private lives and tastes of the subject peoples of the empire. The Greeks, on the other hand, threw open the doors of their new bouncy cosmopolitan civilization to all. The Greeks became the world's best architects, artists and sculptors; they wrote magnificent plays and composed melodious music. They were philosophers, scientists, mathematicians and debaters. The fact is that the Greeks did enjoy a more refined life and a higher standard of living than any but their most royal neighbors. The new Greek cities planted in the East by Alexander and his successors, whether Ptolemaic and Seleucid, or Roman, radiated Greek mores, culture, and philosophy throughout the "known world". Unlike previous conquerors, the Greeks permitted, if they did not encourage, additions to their ranks by the process of cultural assimilation. There were no racial or national barriers. It was no wonder that so many members of the "native" upper classes and literati in Judea and elsewhere in the oikoumene were hypnotized by the brilliance of this new world wide civilization and speculated how they might participate. II Mac. 4:12 describes how young Kohanim, "despising the Temple, and neglecting the sacrifices, hastened to… the place of exercise… not setting by the honors of their fathers, but liking the glory of the Grecians best of all." Josephus notes how the aristocratic Tobiads and their "cultured" friends "retired to King Antiochus (IV) and informed him that they were desirous to leave the laws of their country (i.e. the Torah), and the Jewish way of living… and to follow… the Grecian way of living." The steady "brain drain" of the "best and the brightest" that was suffered by local cultures throughout the oikoumene over generations and centuries, caused them to weaken, atrophy and die. There was, however, one exception.
Judaism had one very important advantage over other local cultures. In contradistinction to the hide-bound sacerdotal cultures of Egypt, Babylonia, and our own Sadducees who restricted religious learning only to members of the priesthood, the Yahadut of Chazal demanded of all Am Yisrael "to occupy themselves with words of Torah." Under the patient tutelage of Chazal, the written Torah and its Oral Tradition became the heritage of Am Yisrael collectively, and not just the property of a small coterie of Mikdash-based Kohanim. This difference in outlook between the Sages and the Sadducees is dramatically illustrated in an absorbing narration from the Gemara. King Yanai asked a Sadducee leader, Eleazar ben Poira, how he should punish the sages whom he believed affronted him. The Sadducee replied, "Trample them under foot." The king then asked, "And what will happen to the Torah?" The Sadducee answered, "It will be wrapped up and laid in a corner, and all who wish to study it, let them come and study" (Kiddushin 66a).
Contrast this Sadducee lassitude with the virile "affirmative action" of Chazal who taught, "Raise up many students!" In Babylon, under the corrosive influence of Hellenic civilization, the ancient Babylonian civilization withered away and entered a long twilight ending in extinction. The number of priests who were able to read and write the sacred cuneiform script and perform the hallowed rites in the Babylonian temples continually decreased; the latest extant cuneiform tablet was written in 76CE. High priests from all over the oikoumene had to "modernize" and "update" their templerites to assuage Greek taste. Even the venerable Egyptian cults were largely Hellenized. Josephus comments, 'Of the nations, some still preserve the names given to them by their founders, some have changed them, while yet others have modified them to make them more intelligible to their neighbors. It is the Greeks who are responsible for this change of nomenclature; for when after ages they rose to power, they appropriated even the glories of the past, embellishing with names which they (the Greeks) could understand and imposing on them forms of government (and religion), as though they were descended from them- selves'" (AntiquitiesI,5,5). Professor Millar summarizes, "When Seleucus I had been spreading Greek colonies over much of the Fertile Crescent, it is very likely that there had been a large-scale immigration by Greek speakers from Greece itself, the Aegean, and Macedonia… There may even have been some immigration during the Hellenistic period,for instance, when the Greek cities of the Decopolis… came into existence. But, paradoxically, while the full expression of Greek city-culture in the Near East was a feature not of the Hellenistic but of the Roman period, there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that this was achieved by further immigration or settlement from the rest of the Greek world. It was not that, but the adaptation of the norms of Greek city culture by both dependent kings (such as Herod) and local communities which progressively transformed not only cities, old and new, but a vast network of villages into urban, or suburban, communities using Greek" (pg 524).
Deprived of new leadership for generations, the local cultures had stagnated and finally ceased to exist! "By the moment of the conversion of Constantine in 312CE, there was almost no place west of the Euphrates where texts were being inscribed in any other language except Greek and Latin. One isolated… exception is provided by (one) Arabic inscription; another (exception) is a few Nabatean texts… and the third is the continued use of both Hebrew and Aramaic in the epitaphs, mosaics, and building- inscriptions from the Jewish areas of Syria- Palaestina. This last exception of course is the major one… (Jewish culture) was to survive… and express conceptions of a single deity which were wholly at variance with the anthropomorphic cults of Greek paganism. Judaism cannot but be seen in sharp contrast to Graeco-Roman culture" (p.521) "…If we think of a 'culture' in the full sense, as a tradition, an educational system, a set of customs and above all, a collective understanding of the past, then we can find in the Roman Near East only two established cultures: Greek and Jewish" (p. 517). But the dazzling all-encompassing Greek oikoumene is long gone, the Roman Empire, "eternal and divine" has vanished and … B"H, we are still here!
Catriel's book in
progress: The Temple of Jerusalem, A Pilgrims Prospective; A Guided
Tour through the Temple and the Divine Service
• As we've featured many times, there are many verbs (at least 10 in Sh'mot), that are in future (or command) tense because of a VAV prefixed to the past tense form of the verb. In most cases, this is accompanied by an accent-shift from the next to the last syllable to the last syllable.
E.g. G-d says that He will "send His hand" and smite Egypt... (Sh'mot 3:20). sha-LACH-ti, I sent. Accent is MIL'EIL. sha-LACH-ti. Prefix a VAV and leave the accent alone would produce v'sha- LACH-ti, meaning "and I sent". The tense stays past. The VAV is conjunctive. For the VAV to be the tense-switcher, in most cases the prefixing of the VAV is accompanied by the word becoming MILRA. v'sha-lach-TI. That means "(and) I will send", future tense. [The (and) is in parentheses, because there are differing opinions as to whether a tense-switching VAV is also conjunctive, or just tense-switching. We've probably presented this in the past, but we will see what comments we get from our cadre of experts.]
Aside from the ten examples in Parshat Sh'mot giving your Baal Korei a headache, this fact of pronunciation/accent life is very important to every Jew who says the Shma (at least) twice daily. As we've pointed out many times in the past, if you say v'a-HAV-ta in the Sh'ma and wrongly accented it as indicated (MIL'EIL),there are opinions that not only does the word change meaning, but that the validity of the fulfillment of the mitzva to recite Sh'ma is thrown into question. This sounds very tough, but please check out the seriousness of this point with the posek of your choice.
It was this specific issue (of the words in Sh'ma that change meaning with a miss-accent) that launched this whole TDBATR column a few years ago.
[Personal comment: I
went through over 30 years of saying v'a-HAV-ta, v'di-BAR-ta, v'na-SA-
ti (that would be v'na-TA-ti for some readers, both words are
mispronounced), and others. But there's more. I had learned about
the tense- switching VAV in elementary school, high school, and
college, and never pid enough attention to it to correct my own
reciting of the Sh'ma. In a way, this column is part of a T'shuva
process for sloppy davening all those years. I again ask all readers
to close their eyes and start the Sh'ma by heart. Do you say
v'a-hav-TA with the accent on the last syllable (MILRA)? Yes, good.
How about v'di-bar- TA? v'na-sa-TI(or v'na-ta-TI)? Fine. But if you
say v'a-HAV-ta, v'di-BAR-ta, v'a-SAF-ta, v'a-CHAL-ta, and others
like them - All those words should be MILRA. Each mis-accenting
changes the meaning of the word. I know that this sounds obsessive,
but it really isn't. Many times that I've mentioned this to friends,
their reactions have been, "you mean Rabbi So-and-so who taught me
in first grade was wrong?" "You mean my father says the Sh'ma
wrong?" That's sort of what I am saying. But please chaeck it out
with your Rav. If I would write that the bracha for popcorn is
HaAdama or that something is permitted or forbidden on Shabbat, I
would expect you to check it out further - please do it here too. —
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