Volume 24 Number 41
                       Produced: Fri Jun 14  7:21:32 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Birkat Kohanim
         [Israel Botnick]
Dreams and Birchat Kohanim
         [Moshe Schor]
Duchenen on shabboth
         [Percy Mett]
Duchening Nigun
         [Jonathan Baker]
Duchening on Shabbat and non-Jewish religious practices
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Right versus Left
         [Shira Kallus]
Right wing vs. center
         [Yehudah Prero]


From: <icb@...> (Israel Botnick)
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 1996 17:54:40 +0500
Subject: Birkat Kohanim

Being on the same side of the talis as Avi (our moderator) (and this is
literally true, as we have duchened together on occasion) I have a few
comments on the birkat kohanim discussion.

1) There's an interesting Comment in the Maharsha (to brachos 55a ) about
which dreams require the RS'O prayer. The statement in the gemara is that
'Man dechaza chalma velo yadah mai chaza' [One who had a dream and does'nt
know what he saw]. Many achronim explain this as someone who had a dream,
and remembers it, but doesn't know if it indicates something good or bad.
The maharsha there says though that this isnt what the gemara means. The
gemara is referring to one who had a dream, but by the morning doesn't
remember any of it. 
His reasoning is, that if a dream is still remembered, and it
bothers the person, it would require a different process, which is called
'hatavat chalom' (and is described earlier on that page of gemara and also
in shulcah aruch orach chaim 220). Secondly he says, the
phrase 'velo yadah mai chaza' is also found earlier on that page of gemara

2) As Avi pointed out, the Rama says that the RS'O prayer should
be said while the kohanim draw out the last letter of the last word.
The mishna brura writes that the custom has changed, and now the RS'O is
said, and the kohanim sing, before saying the last word of each bracha.
(Both concepts are brought in the mishna brura, but
my guess is that he has the first one only to explain the opinion of the
shulchan aruch. In the biur halacha he says that the custom has already

I have a theory about why the custom changed, but I have no
idea whether it is correct or not.
The original custom was that the kohanim would extend the end of certain 
words with a melody. The Rama (siman 128) writes that there are 6 places 
that the Kohanim do this. The Terumat Hadeshen discusses whether the kohanim 
could sing a different tune for each word. He says that it isnt a good idea,
since it would decrease their concentration, but otherwise he sees nothing
wrong with it. (it is possible that in his place they actually sang each

This scheme worked out fine, when birkat kohanim was done every day, 
when very few people, if any, said the RS'O (see Avi's earlier post).
Those people who did say it, said it while the kohanim sang the last word 
of the blessings. When the custom began in chutz laaretz to duchen only
on holidays (I dont know exactly when this was, Ive heard around 1400
- 1500 - does anyone know?) suddenly everyone in the shul was saying the
RS'O (as the magen avraham says was the custom). Drawing out the
last word, wasn't long enough anymore to give enough time for everyone
to say the RS'O, also there was the problem of having everyone saying
RS'O, while the Kohanim are saying the last word. The custom perhaps then
changed over time to have the Kohanim sing in a more practical place, which
is before the last word of each bracha, and to sing then for a longer time.

The original custom of singing was really for its own sake, to beautify
the birkat kohanim, whereas the current custom primarily uses the singing
as a delay tactic, to give the kahal enough time to complete the RS'O.
Israel Botnick


From: <MOESCH@...> (Moshe Schor)
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 1996 00:56:29 -0400
Subject: Re: Dreams and Birchat Kohanim

We know from scientific experiments that people have dreams every
night.Perhaps we had a bad dream,which we don't remember.This would
explain the custom of saying the prayer every time the Kohanim Duchan.


From: Percy Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 1996 10:38:20 +0100
Subject: Duchenen on shabboth

One of the reasons given (sorry I do not have any references to hand) for
missing out nesiath kapayim when Yom Tov falls on shabbos relates to the
custom (mentioned in poskim) that the cohanim immerse themselves in the
mikve on the morning of Yom Tov in preparation for duchenen. Since it was
the minhog in some kehiloth not to dip in the mikve on shabboth, duchenen
was omitted.

In this connection I recall being told by my father z"l, who hailed from
Congress Poland where the general minhog was to duchen on Yom Tov even if
fell on shabboth, that he got quite upset in a year like the forthcoming
one, when Rosh Hashono falls on shabboth. Whereas he was used to duchenen
taking place at five musophin during Succoth (first two days of Yom Tov,
Hoshano Rabo - in accordance with a practice of some groups of chasidim,
and the final two days of Yom Tov), the shtibl at which he davened in
London only managed once - the second day of Succoth. They omitted duchenen
on shabboth (losing first day Yom Tov and Shmini Atsereth) and on Simchath
Torah made do with duchenen at shacharith.

Perets Mett                             * Tel: +44 181 455 9449
5 Golders Manor Drive                   *=20
London                                  * INTERNET: <P.Mett@...>
NW11 9HU England                        =20


From: <baker@...> (Jonathan Baker)
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 23:18:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Duchening Nigun

Mordechai Lando cites Reb Dovid Lebowitz, nephew of the Chofetz Chaim,
that "the nigun sung by the cohanim when the mispallelim say the ribono
shel olom was the same nigun that had been used by the cohanim in the
Beis Hamikdosh." [M-J v24n36]

I find this hard to understand, since cohanim do not all use the same
nigun for this part of the blessing.  Different shuls and families use
different nigunim.  They sound slightly similar, but not the same.  Reb
Dovid's illustrious uncle was surely aware that there were different
nigunim.  The nigunim already differed by the time of the Shulchan
Aruch, as it says in Orach Chaim 128:21, "The Cohanim are not permitted
to sing two or three different tunes during the blessing of the Cohanim,
because there is a suspicion that they might become confused, they do
not sing more than one tune from the beginning to the end."

On a similar note, I saw a post on alt.music.jewish documenting that the
standard tune for Shalom Aleichem dates from 1918, composed by Rabbi
Israel Goldfarb, my great-uncle's brother.  Rabbi Goldfarb had written a
letter, reproduced in the post, to someone who had attributed his tune
to "Traditional" in a songbook in 1963.  My great- aunt confirmed that
he had written it.  SABBATH IN THE HOME, published for Rabbi Goldfarb's
50th anniversary, has the tune, but slightly differently from the way
most people sing it.  Normally, those of us who sing each verse once
alternate the first and second tunes.  Rabbi Goldfarb intended the first
tune for the 1st and 4th verses, and the second tune for the 2nd and 3rd
(ABBA rather than ABAB), each verse sung once, rather than three times.

What's the source for singing each verse once or thrice?  My family does
once, Yemenites & Lubavitchers do thrice.

	Jonathan Baker


From: <mshalom@...> (Saul Mashbaum)
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 1996 10:13:16 EDT
Subject: Duchening on Shabbat and non-Jewish religious practices

Two topics which have come up recently in mail-Jewish are related to in
"Nefesh Harav", the book about Rabbi Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveichik zt"l
(the Rov) written by Rabbi Hershel Shachter, shlita, one of the Rov's
most outstanding talmidim.

I)"Duchening" on Shabbat

In mitzvot for which there are different customs, the Rov was as a rule
in favor of each person continuing the practice of his fathers.  Several
practices, however, the Rov regarded as "minhag taut", halachically in
error, and encouraged their elimination.  Regarding "duchening" on
Shabbat, the Rov was emphatic that KOHANIM DEFINITELY SHOULD DUCHEN ON
SHABBAT, and instructed his students to institute this practice in their
congregations.  However, the Rov told a story of a congregational Rabbi
who was so zealous and aggressive in getting the cohanim in his
congregation to "duchen" on Shabbat that he was fired almost immediately
after Yom Tov! The Rov remarked ironically that the issue is not worth
getting fired over. It is the Rabbi's responsiblity to direct his
congregation in the right path without generating antagonism and
resentment. See pages 3 and 132 of Nefesh Harav.

II) Non-Jewish religious practices.

The Torah (Dvarim 12,30) says that one should not say "I will see how
other people worship their gods, and will do the same". The Ramban says
on this verse that there is a specific prohibition against including
non-Jewish religious practices in the synagogue. On this basis the Rov
explained the Ari's opposition to saying Yigdal,the poem which is based
on the Rambam's 13 principles of faith, in the synagogue; this practice
is similar to the recitation of the catechism by Catholics.  The Rov's
vehement opposition to mixed-seating congregations was based in large
part to his position that mixed-seating was instituted by early
Christians in opposition to normative Jewish practice. See pages 231-2
of Nefesh Harav.

Saul Mashbaum


From: <nv9qc@...> (Shira Kallus)
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 1996 13:06:43 EDT
Subject: Re: Right versus Left

	This is in response to Chaim Shapiro's very unfortunate
incident.  It's very upsetting to hear that a fellow Jew did not help
another in time of need - however, I always learned that one must be Dan
Lechaf Zechut.
	 Firstly, perhaps the gentelman didn't realize that you were
Jewish, or maybe he was in a big rush. For whatever reason - I'm sure
that the man had a very valid reason for not stopping to offer you a
ride home.
	 Secondly, if it's one thing that I've learned through my
various encounters with different people (i.e. someone who wears a black
hat versus someone who wears a kippah Srugah) I know that I cannot
generalize. Just because someone, in today's day and age, wears a black
hat, dresses Yeshivish and the like, does not mean that automatically he
has perfect Midot. I can say that from personal experince that I had
attributed the "Yeshivish garb" into meaning one thing and having
experinced something different, however - one cannot stigmatize that if
one dressed one way he neccessarily acts the way society expects him to
	My Rav at Michalah, Harav Zave Rudman Shlita, told one of my
classes a beautiful analogy. We were discussing dating and how many
girls thought that they should only date a boy who wears a black
hat. Now, although my Rav dresses in full Yeshivish garb and wears a
black hat himself, the answer was: Torah knowledge and fine Midot will
not escape through the holes of a Kippah Srugah.
	Finally, as a driver who lives in a predominately Jewish
community, I do not stop my car and give rides to people I do not know.
Althouh I have never driven in a snow storm, and therefore I can't say
how I would react in that situtation, I know that I only offer rides to
people I know. Even though there are many people that I pass who wear a
Kippah - I don't think I would be comfortable offering a ride to a
stranger even if they were Jewish. Anyone could put on a Kippah and
disguise himself as a Jew - it's a matter of Pekuach NEfesh. Why put
myself into a situation that I have no idea could seriously affect my
	I'm sorry that Mr. Shapiro had a bad experience but I hope that
he doesn't condemn all people who wear black hats just becasue of that
one isolated and unfortuante incident.

	Shira Kallus


From: <DaPr@...> (Yehudah Prero)
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 1996 20:38:04 -0400
Subject: Re: Right wing vs. center  

>Why such a disparity?  I am at almost a complete loss.

I read this post, and specifically this question, and I had a question
of my own: Where can this thread lead? Is there any lesson to be
learned, insight to be gleaned, or is the question posed merely
rhetorical? My gut feeling is that such a question has no answer because
it is based on one person's anecdotal experience. Unless one would like
to posit that such a stereotype is really more than that, that it is
reality, then this question has no answer. However, I find it difficult
to belive that this stereotype, regardless of how many people send in
their own anecdotes that tend to empathize with the sentiments
expressed, will be accepted as truth - flatly and undeniably. If that is
the case, I find it difficult to understand what the purpose is of
asking this question in this forum. Could it raise the consciousness of
those who consider themselves "right," to be more sensative to those who
consider themselves "center" or to any Jew or person for that matter?
Perhaps. Could it lead to a meaningful discussion on how to ameliorate
those problematic conditions that cause rifts to exist in the Frum
community? Perhaps. Could it lead to a war of the anecdotes, "Well I had
THIS experience..." "Oh yeah, well THIS happened to me...!"? I think
this could very well happen, and it is this type of discussion, a type
of discussion that could be breeding ground for Sinas Chinom, which has
no place in this forum, in my opinion.

Is there really a 'disparity?' Is there _really_ an issue here? Is there
an issue here that needs to be discussed, that the general populace can
gain from? As some previous posters commented not too long ago - are we
talking "tachlis," or are we venting? If this thread leads to good,
thoughtful, meaningful discussion - that is fantastic. If not, lets try
to remember the purpose of the forum known as Mail-J, and stick to it.

Yehudah Prero

[Thanks Yehudah, and it is the first set of possible reactions that
prompt me to allow posts of this sort on mail-jewish. I think it is
often easy to fall into the trap of "only this sort of Jew is REALLY my
brother and will do this and that for him/her but not for someone who
looks differently from me. I hope that mail-jewish can sometimes act as
a vehicle for all the groups to communicate, since by email you cannot
see how someone is dressed, and I know that based simply on what people
write, I have made incorrect images in my mind as to what they "look
like". One of my hopes with this list is that some people at least may
be more open to listen and say, yes even if s/he may look different from
me, what they are saying/thinking/feeling etc is similar and we all, as
part of Klal Yisrael are brothers. This is not to downplay the concern
memtioned by another poster on this specific issue that stopping for
anyone you do not know may be an issue of Pikuach Nefesh, an unfortunate
fact of our current days, and that would bias the situation at least
some places for "similar looking" people stopping for each other, as
they are more likely to know each other.



End of Volume 24 Issue 41