Volume 11 Number 89
                       Produced: Sun Feb 20 21:37:05 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Davening and Music
         [Eliyahu Juni]
Putting Mishloach Manot in Perspective
         [Yosh) Mantinband]
Shul Choirs
         [Daniel Epstein]


From: <ao107@...> (Eliyahu Juni)
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 94 03:40:15 -0500
Subject: Davening and Music

>I'm interested in what people have to say about:
>1. personal opinions about the musicality of Shabat and Yom Tov
>davening, e.g. does having a "nice sounding" davening enhance or
>detract from your davening experience.

I find that when the music is appropriate for the occasion, (i.e.
sombre on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, joyful on Yomtov) it enhances
davening very much, but when it is out of sync with the general context
of the occasion, it can detract from davening.  One widespread nusach
which I find especially bothersome is the mournful "nusach" sung by most
Ashkenazim during Hallel, which is a joyous homage to G-d.

>2. experiences with choirs in Orthodox shuls(listening or singing)
>3. Any halachic opinions on matters relating to the musicality of
>Shabat and Yom Tov davening.
>4. What the issues are with repeating words in different parts of
>the davening.  (We currently don't repeat words, but do have the
>choir echo the shaliach tsibur on one or two parts.)

     I think these three can best be answered together.  Since the
earliest structured t'fila, there have been paytanim who composed
additions to the text of davening; some have been incorporated into our
standard text.  (See recent m-j discussions on the origins of El Adon
and HaMeir La'Aretz in the first Bracha before Kriyas Sh'ma.)  Most of
these additions were in verse, and may have been composed with a chant
or tune in mind.  Ashkenazi paytanim continued this practice until
sometime in the period of the rishonim; I'm not sure about S'phardi
paytanim.  Most of the Chazaras HaShatz of Yamim Noraim is made up of
these piyyutim, and in some Kehillos, they say long piyyutim during the
brachos of Kriyas Sh'ma and Chazaras Hashatz of *every* Yomtov and some
special Shabbosos of the year--Shabbos Shira, Shabbos Zachor, Shabbos
HaGadol, etc.  The piyyutim for Birchos Kriyas Shma are usually referred
to as "Ma'aroviyos" (sing. "Ma'arovis"), especially in the halachic

     The GRA, among other poskim, felt that additions to the text of
davening were inappropriate, unwarranted interruptions, and that the
text should be preserved in its "original" form.  In the Lithuanian
Yeshivos and in many Kehillos, the ma'aroviyos were abandoned, and the
additions to Chazaras HaShatz were cut down to only a smattering on Rosh
HaShana and Yom Kippur, and T'filos Geshem and Tal.  Other poskim
disagreed, and many Chassidishe, German and Hungarian communities
(especially the "oberlander"-- Hungarians who did not embrace Chassidus)
retained them.  The issue is a very complex one, and, in addition to
matters concerning what is the proper approach to davening, touches on
the precedence of halacha vs. minhag and the authority of the Talmud

     Along with the additions to the text of davening, a traditional
"nusach" was developed.  ("Nusach" is rather difficult to translate--it
can mean a chant or the set of standard "traditional" tunes.)
Individual chazanim and composers made changes, and nusach varied with
geography, but it retained certain similarities throughout the
Yiddish-speaking world.  The tune sung for Kol Nidrei is one well-known

     In the last few hundred years, "pure" nusach began to fade.  The
flowering of Chassidus, and particularly some very musical Chassidic
dynasties, (e.g. Ropshitz, Mozhitz, Melitz) produced a plethora of new
tunes and new styles, which were often merged with the old nusach.  Many
chassidim emphasized participation of the tzibur over musical precision
and aesthetics.  The modernization of German and Hungarian Jewry led to
the adoption of a style and decor in shul which often imitated the style
of worship of their host nations, even in some Orthodox kehillos.  These
changes aroused fierce debate as to how much innovation in the style of
t'fila is permitted without contravening the issur of Chukos HaGoyim--
adopting non-Jewish (religious) customs.  The controversy spread
throughout Europe, and as far as music goes, dealt with style, choirs,
organs, the repetition of words during t'fila, and the permissibility of
employing chazanim who made up in virtuosity what they lacked in virtue.
Any major work of t'shuvos (responsa) from the nineteenth century will
probably include some material on these topics, and German and Hungarian
t'shuvos should be full of them.

     Although these issues never really died down, they have been
relegated to the back burner, behind the "blech" :-).  In most chareidi
communities, it has become the norm not to repeat words in any posuk
containing one of the sacred names of G-d, or in any part of the
davening were a hefsek (interruption) is not allowed.  Since this covers
most of davening, repetition is basically out.  (There may also be an
issue with garbling the meaning of a sentence: This this sensensentence
just might just sound beautiful with with with a tututune, but it it it
doesn't make much much sense much.)  The use of fisher syllables (oy oy
oy oy oy / la di da di dye, etc.  etc.) is considered acceptable. (Some
authorities consider this to be a hefsek too.)  Some poskim maintained
that repetition which enhances the meaning or beauty of davening is
permitted, and many kehillos rely on this view.  Many professional
chazanim repeat words in davening, and this may be one of the reasons
why the profession is not held in high esteem in some chareidi circles.
Choirs are found in many German kehillos and some Chassidishe courts.
Ger has a choir most Shabbosos which they call a "kapelle" (stress on
the first 'e'; I think the word is a corruption of the musical term "a
cappella", meaning unaccompanied voice music.)  I don't know if Ger's
minhag predates or follows the adoption of choirs in German shuls; I
know it was already an institution in pre-war Ger.  Bobov has a choir on
special occasions, and on Yamim Noraim, when the choir sings many of the
piyyutim.  Both of these choirs are silent during the entire portions of
t'fila which the chazan must recite, and only sing L'cha Dodi, El Adon,
V'Chol Ma'aminim, and the like.

     Regarding a choir echoing the chazan, I have seen some concern
raised over the possibility that the tzibur will not be able to hear the
chazan's words.  I know that some don't approve of the minhag where the
tzibur sings the traditional refrain between passages of Chazaras
HaShatz on R.H. and Yom Kippur for this reason.  I don't know if it is
ever discussed as an issue of hefsek.

>5. Sources of appropriate music and arrangements.

     I would guess that the various cantorial schools maintain libraries
of this stuff; if you live in NY, YU and JTS are good places to start.
In the heyday of German Jewish scholarship, there was a lot of notation
of traditional music, though I don't know how much was for davening.
I've seen photocopies on occasion, usually of chassidishe tunes and
ta'amei ha-mikra.

(416) 256-2590				Eliyahu Juni


From: <ak764@...> (J. Y. (Yosh) Mantinband)
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 1994 16:53:13 -0500
Subject: Putting Mishloach Manot in Perspective

The following is a free translation of an article by Rav Elisha Aviner, 
of Maale Adumim, Israel.  This article appeared in our weekly "Parsha 
Sheet."  I feel this helps to put the mitzva of Mishloach Manot 
(sending portions of food on Purim) in the proper perspective, 
especially in light of the recent discussions on MJ sparked, in part, 
by my innocent query for mishloach manot project management software.
(Note:  Although some of the references are specific to the Maale 
Adumim community, I believe they are easily generalized.  Any errors in 
the following should be assumed to derive from my translation.  -ym)

		To Whom Shall We Send Mishloach Manot?
			 by Rav Elisha Aviner

  Two reasons are mentioned in rabbinical sources for the obligation to 
  send "mishloach manot" on Purim.  Rabbi Shlomo Alkebetz explains the
  primary reason as being to *increase harmony, peace, and 
  neighborliness*.  However, Rabbi Yisrael Isserlan explains that we 
  are commanded regarding mishloach manot because there are poor people 
  whose means do not permit them to purchase the necessities of Seudat 
  Purim (the Purim festive meal), and they are too embarrassed to ask 
  for assistance.  Therefore, we send them gifts in an acceptable and 
  honorable way.

  In light of these two reasons, we may establish a set of priorities 
  for the giving of mishloach manot:

  1) First priority must be for needy families.  Unfortunately, there 
     are families among us suffering from financial hardship.  These 
     people need both financial and moral support.  They have the 
     highest priority on our list of recipients. (This includes Olim 
     Hadashim (new immigrants to Israel) from the CIS and other such 

  2) All clear-sighted individuals will take advantage of the mitzva of 
     mishloach manot to soothe differences and end tensions that may 
     have developed over the course of the year among friends, 
     neighbors, and acquaintances.  This is a  simple and easy way to 
     renew the ties of friendship that have been severed.  Thus, we 
     increase love and harmony instead of enmity and separation, and 
     fulfill the words of the Megillah, "Go and bring together all 
     the Jews."  Included in this group are those to whom we owe our 
     thanks, but have not yet had the opportunity to express it.

  3) We must not forget those who are lacking in social ties and 
     connections, sitting alone even on Purim.  At their neighbors, 
     people come and go and make merry, as they sit alone and unvisited.
     *We must not forget them!*  We bring them mishloach manot and,
     likewise, good cheer and happiness.  Perhaps with a little effort, 
     we can invite them to join us for our Seudat Purim, as well.

  4) If we have any energy left over to send still more mishloach 
     manot, we send to our good friends and loved ones.

  It is a worthy endeavor of those who collect the excess mishloach 
  manot and distribute it in institutions, hospitals, army camps, 
  etc.  *Bruchim Yih'yu!*  Also deserving special praise is the 
  neighborhood campaign in Mitzpe Nevo, designed to eliminate waste 
  while raising significant sums for tzedakah (charity).

  Mishloach manot is a very special mitzva.  Let us work to fulfill 
  it in the most meaningful and effective ways.


From: <d.epstein@...> (Daniel Epstein)
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 94 18:51:44 -0500
Subject: Re: Shul Choirs

In MJ V11 #83,Benzion Berliant writes...

        The second problem with the choir is that they "perform".  I
	find that, when the choir is there, the davening turns into more of a
	theatrical performance than a tefila b'tzibbur;  the congregation
	becomes purely passive participants while the choir and the chazzan put
	on a show.  It is certainly beautiful music, but I find it hard to
	relate to as tefila.

I sing in a choir in England called the Shabbaton Choir.It was set up in
its current form in 1990 as a response to the fact that congregants on
the one hand and choirs & chazannim on the other were fast approaching
(if not already experiencing) a THEM & US scenario.  The main purpose of
the choir was to re-introduce traditional cantorial music back into
shuls where the kehilla (congregation) would
  (a)recognise the 'pieces' and
  (b)JOIN IN!

Therefore old pieces were completely (but sensitively) rearranged to
encourage 'audience participation' and shortened where necessary to
avoid the cases of severe cramp where the musaf kedushah dragged through
to lunchtime and beyond!

One of the main points about the rearrangements was that all the stresses
on the words are correct (and if anyone finds 'mistakes' the music is
altered to remedy this. For example we sing 'TzaDIK kataMAR yifRACH' as
opposed to 'TZAdik kaTAmar YIFrach' in the Shir Shel Yom (Song of the Day)). 

New pieces were also introduced and a complete 'programme' is put on
each seat before the service to 'explain' what is going on.We only sing
at orthodox shuls and even the most knowledgeable mispallel
(worshipper?) is grateful for the kavanna (spiritual focus) that these
notes provide.

The choir is also time sensitive. How many choirs have you heard of that
have the confidence to leave out large chunks of 'set pieces' in order to
adhere to an unspoken but understood Adon Olam ETA (Estimated Time of 
Arrival!) of 1200 for a shacharit (morning service) start of 0900?!

Anyway, to come back to my point,I think that choirs and chazannim have
to be, IMHO, sensitive to the congregation's tolerance/appreciation of
the music that they are presenting and that a general sense of anavah
(humility) can go a long way to making sure that tefilla becomes an
integral AND TOTALLY MEANINGFUL expression of your 'shevach v'hoda'a
la'Shem' (praise and thanksgiving to G-d).

We don't sing every week and we travel round England singing Kabbalat
Shabbat and Shacharit/Mussaf wherever we are invited.This works out to
about 5-10 Shabbatonim a year(plus concerts!)and we take our own chazan
along with us.

As an aside,we also PERFORM at concerts where the comment before some of
the pieces usually takes the form of..."And here is a piece by X called
Y which we seldom have time to sing in shul but is beautiful


Daniel Epstein             Internet:<de01@...>
Chemistry Department
Imperial College
London SW7 2AY


End of Volume 11 Issue 89