Volume 26 Number 59
                      Produced: Tue May 20  7:16:17 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Mickey Mantle and the Succoh on Shimini Problem
         [Mechy Frankel]
Music and Prayer
         [Jordan Wagner]


From: Mechy Frankel <FRANKEL@...>
Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 17:23:02 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Mickey Mantle and the Succoh on Shimini Problem

When I was a kid we used to endlessly and fruitlessly argue the
respective merits of those two immortals Mickey Mantle and Willie
Mays, who by happy confluence of the baseball fates, reigned in their
respective domains at the same time, and practically in the same
neigborhood.  Being from Washington Heights we locals instinctively
discounted the claims to a comparable level of centerfield greatness
by their exact contemporary Duke Snider, who plied his trade in far
off Brooklyn (and I believe evolved historical consensus has also
validated this youthful rush to judgment).  I am reminded of such
partisan exercises when reviewing one class of responses to my recall
of the common chassidish practice to not sit in the succoh on shimini

 A number of respondents noted that various authoritative individuals,
the Minchos Elozer, or Rav J.B. Soloveitchick z"l were adamantly
convinced that such behavior was a "mistake".  Indeed, R. Hershel
Schachter's Nefesh Harav was quoted to that effect, along with the Rov's
speculation that the mistake might have originated as a result of the
misinterpretation of some early chasidim forced out of the succoh by
overcrowding during the rebbe's tish, which then was "na'aseh lohem
ki'heter".  I am not sure what this is meant to prove other than the
fact that the Rov was firmly in the camp of those who believed that it
was necessary to sit in the succoh, and we have already noted that this
is a matter of significant dispute with many Chassidic rebbes - and
while the Rov was certainly entitled, who are we mere mortals to label
the practice of other gidolim and gi'onei torah as a "mistake".  One
might as well argue, lihavdil, the respective virtues of Mays and Mantle
(or in more classically resonant formulation, gavroh a'gavroh
qoh-romis?).  It is also hard to take the Rov's historical suggestion
seriously as an explanation for this "mistake's" origin, indeed I can
hardly believe the Rov meant it as anything but a hashoroh bi'almoh, a
tossed off speculation with no real basis, never meant to really be
taken seriously.  In any event, with all the due respect of a former
talmid for his rebbe, there is not the slightest credible corroboration
for this notion.

Another class of responses attempts to re-explain for us
shimini-succoh-less dullards the talmudic position, recounting ever
more slowly and precisely as it were, the apparently undisputed
masqonoh of Maseches Succah 47a, that on shimini, "..yosvinon, biruchei
loa mivorichinon" as though we would surely get with the program if we
were only aware of this source, or forced to sit down and listen
carefully as someone explained it very clearly.  To be sure this
masqonoh is in turn re-inforced by its codification in the three major
sifirei pisak emanating from the rishonic period (Rif, Rambam, Tur),
and , coup de grace, finally enshrined in that most authoritative of
acharonic works, the Shulchon Aruch.  In truth, the issue needs to be
turned on its head.  Since one supposes it beyond the fantasies of
even the most zealous of (current anyway) Litvaks that all Chassidishe
rebbes were unaware of such literary sources, what then could possibly
have been in their minds to ignore such apparent uniform consensus?

 A. Wertheim attempted to address this issue amongst others a few
decades ago in Halochos Vehalikhos Bachasidus (an apologetic work to be
sure but I like it anyway).  Wertheim points out that the version of the
sugyoh as recorded is not without problems, and that these internal
inconsistencies point to a likely corruption in the girsoh as presently
recorded (though I don't know of any independent evidence for this
conjecture.) and that this instability, or discomfort with, the recorded
girsoh led to a consistent and continuous history of non-acceptance of
apparent masqonoh by a string of talmidei chachomim right back to the
closing of the amoraic period in the year 500, and in any event was
hardly a completely new idea first introduced by some 18th century
johnny-come-lately chassidim.  (For the technically inclined, the
inconsistency stems from the gimoroh's apparent reliance on
R. Yochonon's position as being determinative -"niqot di'rav yochanon
biyodokh - for the masqonoh, which means that it is relying on the first
cited of the eaqoh di'amrei, but then Rav's position makes no sense when
read straightforwardly - it is for this reason that rashi interprets
Rav's references to "biruchei loa mivorichinon as not applying to the
birochoh of leisheiv ba'succoh, but as referring to other birochos
associated with qiddush or whatever, but this may strike a reader as a
"dochaq tayrutz" introduced ex machina to resolve the implied
inconsistency in rav's position)

Anyway, it is one thing to claim that the gemoroh's masqonoh is such and
such , but it is quite a leap from there to the claim of yesterday's
poster that: <It is even brought as halacha in the gemara in Succah
(47a) that all the gedolei hador in Babel sat in the succah on the
eighth day and said no bracha.>

 This is clearly false and contradicted by the text of the gemoroh in
Succcos which records how the chakhomim who came to visit rabbah found
him sitting outside the succoh on shimini.  So clearly there were
amoraim who didn't sit on shimini - and while one may argue that this is
all occurred prior to the final resolution of ..yosivinon veloa
movorichinon, the Tanchumoh to poroshas Pinchos - surely written after
the amoraic period - also clearly records the practice to not sit in the
succoh on shimini, and these chakhomim were a lot closer to the
gimoroh's true masqonoh than we are today.  Similarly, Ra'aviyoh(I
think) and sifrei di'vei rashi record the custom of certain
distinguished families in France not to sit in the Succoh (at night - a
practice later decried by the Tur, but indicating that people still had
traditions of dissent from the ostensible masqonoh).

Yestrday's posting goes on to helpfully render us a pisaq that
<according to halacha and one should not sway right or left from this,
especially sinceit was bluntly stated as halacha in the gemara ..> While
I didn't realize that mj had now advanced to offer such posqining
services - perhaps we will be cross inexed in the next Bar Ilan responsa
release - it is important to realize that, whatever the actual girsoh in
the gimoroh, it is not necessarily important in any operational sense
today, since that is not how halokhoh is made for non-posqim, and there
are many practices today which do not accord with the reading or
conclusions of the talmud. And while a real decisor will go back to
talmudic sources and feel free to utilize the full range of sources and
precedent available to him according to his personal shiqul hada'as, the
masses of people operationally and halakhically have a right to follow
the traditions of gidolim whose shiqul hada'as may have differed without
the suggestion that this is all a "mistake" or that the operational
halokhoh is always single valued, a conceptually preposterous idea.
  I think it would behoove mj'ers expressing opinions about the
practices of gidolim, goh'onim, and tzadiqim (in both senses) to
exercise a certain care in their characterizations.  Recall the
halakhically hallowed traditon that elu vi'elu, at that, at the end
of the day, both Mantle and Mays (and yes, even Snider - I think) made
it to Cooperstown.

Mechy Frankel				W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>			H: (301) 593-3949


From: <JordanleeW@...> (Jordan Wagner)
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 16:39:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Music and Prayer

> A few issues back I quoted the Rav, Rabbi Soloveitchick, as stating that
>  Jewish Music is basically petionary in mood while Christian music
>  focuses on the emotion of grandeur.
>  In V26,n49, Jordan Wagner (correctly) notes that their are examples of
>  petionary Christian music and examples of grandeur in Jewish music.
>  Allow me therefore to clarify what the Rav said.
>  * In the first place the Ravs remarks were confined to music used during
>  services.
>  * Furthermore "prayer" is identified with the Shmoneh Esray...while
>  Piyutim like Ayn Calokaynu etc have a place in the service, the main
>  concept of "prayer" are the petitions we make there.

This last statement of yours invalidates the Rav's generalization (at least
as you've reported it above).  You are not saying anything about music here
except what any composer or careful listener knows: that good vocal music
expresses what's in the text.  The assertion that Jewish litugical music is
usually petitionary is true only to the extent that you say Jewish text is
usually petitionary.  To make the original statement comparing "Jewish
[liturgical] Music" and "Christian [liturgical] Music" (as in your first
paragraph), is tantamount to making an underlying assumption about which part
of Christian liturgical text you take to be most Christian and which part of
Jewish liturgical text you take to be most Jewish.  Thus you are really
claiming that there is a trend in Jewish prayer text that differs from the
trend in Christian prayer text.  When you selected the Shemoneh Esreh above,
I was reminded of my freshman physics professor who used to tell of a child
riding in a car driving past a farm, who exclaimed:  "Mommy!  Look at all
those filthy disgusting animals rolling around in the mud!  No wonder they
call them pigs!".  

To say that there's actually a difference between Jewish and Christian
*music*, I think we'd want to look at how they treat the *same* text.  For
example we can compare settings of the Kedushah with settings of the Sanctus,
or settings of the Kaddish with settings of the Magnificat and Pater Nostre,
their settings of Psalm 136 and Psalm 23 and Psalm 122 with ours, Gregorian
chant with Haftarah chant, etc. etc.      

>  * Finally there is a subtle but clear difference between saying
>  something is a >>trend>> and saying something as a >>blanket
>  concept>>(Mr Wagners own term).

>  With the above principles in mind I think the meaning of the Rav's
>  remarks are clear. The majority of melodies used in Shmoneh Esray
>  (Chazarath Hashatz) throughout the year and on the high holy days
>  reflect a petionary nature consistent with the petionary content of the
>  prayer. The music is 'usually' delivered by a soloist(the Chazan).

All true; and mandated by the text.  

>  Christian liturgical music emphasizes grandeur.  The words of the masses
>  focus a great deal on G-ds greatness The masses are delivered by choral
>  groups (which help the atmosphere of grandeur).

Again, the words are paramount, for a chorus can move you to tears of abject
supplication, like dust encountering creator, just as easily as to a joyful
experience of G-d's grandeur.  

I think Christian music is diverse, and has varied in different time
periods; and not every Mass is a *functional* liturgical piece.  The
grandest of them are concert pieces only.  The title only indentifies
the text being set rather than the music's function.  E.g., Beethoven's
Missa Solemnis is not a functional Mass, any more than Bloch's Adon Olam
is a functional congregational hymn.

BTW, I think Gershon Sirota emphasized grandeur over petition.  (Can we say
that at some time this was a distinction between Deutschers and

>  I believe this is an accurate statement of the trends of the music. The
>  existence of some counterexamples here and there doesn't prohibit one
>  from making a general statement.

You've really said something about the trends in the text rather than in
the music.  (Although even Masses have a Salva Mei (Hoshia Na) from time
to time.)  Petitionary texts are set to pettitionary music, and praise
texts are set to appropriately grand music.

In summary, thank you for clarifying the Rav's remark.  I agree that the
central function of congregational worship is different in Judaism than
Christianity.  Since Tachanun and Vidui happen in the Confessional with
the Priest, and petition happens privately (which I might expect from a
faith that emphasizes personal salvation evidenced by an inner
transformation), that leaves Thanks (and praise) to predominate the Mass
whose central feature is the eucharist.

> To illustrate m1y point I would ask Mr Wagner to review the Piyutim used
> in Shmoneh Esray during the High holy day services. True, one can have a
> Choir sing VECHOL MAMINIM in a very grand manner but I think it valid to
> assert that works like UNETHATA TOKEF and LEKAYL ORAYCH DIN or even
> AVINU MALCAYNU are more characteristic of the day in the sense that we
> stand helpless and ask God for mercy--it is inevitable that the music
> should reflect this.
> I hope this clarifies the Ravs Remark.

It does.  I had originally seen it as an unjustified generalization
about Jewish (and Christian) music, but now I see it was actually
intended to be construed narrowly; a statement applicable to one limited
situation (communal worship) made in support of a valid comment about
the text (and theology) of one particular experience (communal worship).


End of Volume 26 Issue 59