Archive for November, 2014

Don’t Waste Time

Posted: November 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

ויש סוד גדול בדבר שלא יאבד זמן מן הזמנים לישב בטל, כי כל זמן וזמן הוא ענין בפני עצמו בסוד התפשטות ענף מענפי שם ידו”ד, ועל  זה בא הרמז בפרשת וארא ‘אני ידו”ד,’ ופירש רש”י, ‘אני ידו”ד — נאמן לשלם שכר,’ כי זמן זמנים זמניהם כולם סובבים על שם ידו”ד בשרשו ובהתפשטות ענפיו.      -של”ה, פרשת ויצא

The ShLa”H here refers to the kabbalistic concept that every moment of time comes into existence through a change in the interface between HaShem’s Four-Letter Name and the created world. This name brings the world into existence, and, the kabbalists explain, in order for any change to occur in the world, something must change, so to speak, in the name of HaShem. So the letters (and vowels) of the name continually change combination in the supernal realm (according to a pattern) which allows for the phenomenon of time and thereby, change within the world, to take place.

Therefore, petitions the ShLa”H, it is incumbent upon every person to utilize every moment to its fullest, for every one is unique and will never come again and eac h represe”nts a unique opportunity to connect to HaShem, fomenting a “tikun” that can never be duplicated at any other time.

It is for this reason that Rashi explains HaShem’s statement, “I am HaShem (Four-Letter Ineffable Name),” to mean, “the One who is faithful to pay reward, for every moment, with its unique quality, carries a unique reward. Not a single moment goes by that HaShem does not reckon for its unique reward to each individual who fulfilled the unique potential of that moment as brought into existence by His Name, or, Heaven forfend, the heavy consequence borne by one who allows that moment to pass unfulfilled.

Orach Chayim 110:1: “One must follow the section of Redemption (גאולה) immediately with the Amidah (תפילה) without any intervening interruption, even reciting ‘Amen’ to the blessing of Gaal Yisrael, nor any verse other than, ‘O Lord, open my lips…’
RaMA: There are those who say it is permitted to respond ‘Amen’ to ‘Gaal Yisrael,’ and this is the custom. And there are those who say that the obligation to follow Geulah with Tefilah is specifically for weekdays or Festivals, but on the Sabbath it is not necessary (since the reason it is necessary to follow Geulah with Tefilah is because it is written, ‘The Lord will answer you on a day of sorrow,’ and following that it is written, ‘May the utterances of my mouth be favorable… O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,’ and the Sabbath is not a day of sorrow…) however it is better to be stringent unless there is a necessity.”

Mishnah Berurah: “The Beth Yoseph disagrees with the justification of the RaMA for permitting an interruption between Geulah and Tefilah on the Sabbath… for the principle reason for following Geulah immediately with Tefilah is because the Sages likened the recitation of Shemoneh Esreh after the blessing of Redemption to a king’s beloved companion who has come and knocked at the king’s door, and whom the king has come forth to greet. If the king sees that his visitor has departed, he too departs, and does not come near again when the visitor returns to knock once more. So it is with one who interrupts between Redemption and Amidah.”

About 13 years ago, while a student at Brooklyn College, I was very active at the Hillel House and even held a position on the e-board (basically, a student board — not sure what the “e” stood for, “executive” maybe?) as “Director of Jewish Learning.

Anyway, I attended a Hillel “leadership” weekend retreat (essentially a “shabbaton”) at the Hamptons. Davening, meals and other functions took place at the Hamptons Shul. There were a lot of funny (i.e. unusual) things about that shul, as anyone who has ever been there can tell you, but I remember one in particular that his bothered me for the last 13 years. Until now.

During Shabbos morning services, the assistant rabbi would call out, in the middle of the services, the respective page numbers of whatever section the congregation was meant to be up to. Now, while everyone knows that “talking” during the services is strictly forbidden (an alien from outer space visiting many Orthodox shuls today might not get that impression, but, whatever), certain utterances are permitted in case of pressing need, such as announcing pages in a congregation in which many attendees would otherwise have difficulty following the service. The Hamptons shul certainly qualifies.

But if there is one place where EVERYBODY knows that NO INTERRUPTION is allowed, it is between the blessing of “Gaal Yisrael” and Shemoneh Esreh (a.k.a. the Amidah or “Silent Meditation”).

Therefore was I ever shocked when, whaddaya know, right after “Gaal Yisrael” the assistant rabbi goes ahead and shouts out the page number! Hey, was this shul Orthodox or what? (Now, as I mentioned earlier, the Hamptons Shul is not your typical Orthodox shul, but still, I imagined there had to be some justification in halacha for this practice, and besides, the assistant rabbi — I had shmoozed with him — was a graduate of Yeshiva University, and his mode of dress gave off a pretty frum impression: black suit, white shirt, you know. So I was surprised that he would do this.)

Well, ladies and gents, with patience and diligence comes reward.

So, I should probably be embarrassed by this,  but in this day and age, no one seems to be embarrassed about anything. The things people are not ashamed to post to social media! I won’t recount here some things I saw recently, cuz the people who posted ’em might read this and get mad at me. (Who am I kidding? No one reads my blog!) But my reaction was something like: Really? You would post that for all to see? I think it’s low enough to begin with, but at least share your ambitions over a private message with a few potential candidates who might appreciate such a message. But publicly? Where is the shame? Where is the dignity? *AHEM* Excuse me, but I digress. My point is that in comparison, my shame seems a lot more dignified and justifiable to publish.

And that is my plain ignorance of an open statement in Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law). Orach Chayim 110:1 clearly lays out the prohibition to interrupt between Gaal Yisrael and Shemoneh Esreh, but the Rama comments there that according to some opinions this prohibition only exists on weekdays and Yom Tov (Festival Days), but NOT ON SHABBOS! (See there for the reason for this exception.) Rama concludes that one should be stringent except in cases of NEED, and as I mentioned earlier, in this congregation, that need does exist. So this was perfectly acceptable Ashkenazic practice! Shame on me for being so ignorant! Though, in my defense, I did judge favorably in assuming there must have been some halachic justification for this, rather than assuming that these people were just plain sinners. Go me!

And after 13 years of wondering, a little Torah study once again puts my mind at ease.

ShLaH-Toledoth

והמבין יבין

The Upper Realm has one hundred gates (מאה שערים). Each gate has an opening from which flows a wellspring of blessing to the world. From there our forefather Isaac drew one hundred forms of blessing, from the Hundred Gates, from which blessing and bounty and Divine Emanation come forth to all creations. Therefore… the Tent of Meeting (in the Tabernacle) had one hundred foundation rings (אדנים)…  Every foundation ring had an opening to receive [blessing].

(שני לוחות הברית, פרשת תולדות, בשם ריקנאטי)