Volume 28 Number 30
                      Produced: Tue Nov 24  7:04:17 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

As long as it's different every day
         [Zev-Hayyim Feyer]
Bircas HaChodesh
         [Michael E. Rosenberg]
Bowing at "vekara ze el ze" and "osei shalom"
         [Sheldon Meth]
Charity during prayer
         [Elliott Hershkowitz]
Davening Time
         [Steven White]
Escorting the Sefer Torah
         [Israel Pickholtz]
         [Marc Sacks]
Kavanah II:  Brochot
         [Moshe & Davida Nugiel]
Keter Shem Tov
         [Michael and Abby Pitkowsky]
"Stop Agonizing"
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Tzedakah during Tefilah
         [Warren Burstein]


From: <Rebbezev@...> (Zev-Hayyim Feyer)
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 14:47:22 EST
Subject: As long as it's different every day

One of my rebbeim (from a Satmar Hassidic family) tells of going to shul with
his father when he was a child.  "Tateh," he asked, "what are we going to do
in shul?"
"We are going to hear the Torah read."
"What part of the Torah, Tateh?"
"Parshat [whatever it was that week]."
"But, Tateh, didn't we hear that parshah last year?"
"Yes, my son; we did."
"And, Tateh, isn't the Torah exactly the same this year as it was last year?"
"Yes, my son; the Torah is exactly the same as it was last year.  But,
my son, are you the same as you were last year?"

B'shalom uv'ahavah,
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer (Jewish Renewal)


From: Michael E. Rosenberg <merosenberg@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 09:06:27 -0800
Subject: Bircas HaChodesh

Last shabbos I was asked to daven Mussaf and in reciting bircas ha
chodesh I instinctively substituted the plural verb "ha ba'im" aleinu
l'tova for the singular "ha ba" aleinu l'tova as there were two days of
Rosh Chodesh.  Somehow, I thought that was the thing to do.  Afterwards,
someone came up and asked me why? We then looked at a variety of
siddurim and could find no indication that I had done the correct thing.
On the other hand, because we are announcing at this point what day(s)
of the coming week Rosh Chodesh will fall on, it seems logical to me
that the verb "ba" refers to the day of the week.  If not that, what
noun is the verb "ba" relating to.  If it relates to the Rosh Chodesh,
then it makes for a kind of clumsy construction.

Michael E. Rosenberg


From: Sheldon Meth <SHELDON.Z.METH@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 08:01:13 -0500
Subject: RE: Bowing at "vekara ze el ze" and "osei shalom"

I don't know the sources, but the reason for the different sequence is
as follows: In osei shalom, as David Ziants mentioned, one is taking
leave, as it were, of the Shechinah.  Therefore, one bows first to the
right of the Shechinah, which, if one is facing the Shechinah, is to
one's left.  In "vekara zeh el ze," one should imagine one is standing
in a row of angels; therefore one bows to the angel on his right first.


From: <EEH43@...> (Elliott Hershkowitz)
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 15:50:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Charity during prayer

Russell Hendel seems to carry the day for me.  The famous revolving
minyans of Shomrei Shabbos (13th Ave. and 53rd St. in Boro Park) are
constantly being combed by collectors for various causes.  Most will
come back later if you are standing Shemona Asrei but they rarely miss
anyone.  The standard practice is to keep a roll of quarters in your
tallis beitl in the morning or your pocket the rest of the day and put a
few under your siddur (kliene gelt).  Move your siddur and expose the
appropriate sum for whoever comes by.  It's really not much more than
another preparation for prayer.

Elliott Hershkowitz


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steven White)
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 22:38:22 EST
Subject: Re:  Davening Time

One translation of "Pesukei D'zimra" is "Verses of Song" or "Verses of
Praise."  Artscroll points out that another would be "Verses of
Pruning," that is, verses to clear one's mind to prepare for the "real"
davening.  This would suggest, as someone did in #24, that one should
recite Pesukei d'Zimra in a sort of mantra-like way, to clear one's head
to prepare for davening, and then to daven Shma and Shmone Esrei with
specific kavvana.

Steven White


From: Israel Pickholtz <p2o5rock@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 07:27:37 +0200
Subject: Escorting the Sefer Torah

Last Thursday, someone in shul told the person who lifted up the Torah
scroll that he has a specific obligation to follow it back to the Ark.
Is there such an obligation, above and beyond that of everyone else in
the congregation?

Israel Pickholtz


From: Marc Sacks <msacks@...>
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 17:26:31 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re:  Kavanah

In connection with the subject of fast vs slow davenning, I have to ask
how many people can actually read all the words of, say, the Shmoneh
Esreh as fast as the congregation appears to be going?  My father was a
devout Jew who davenned almost every day after he retired and who I'm
sure could never read the whole thing at that speed but mostly mumbled
his way through it.  My Hebrew is generally better than his was, but I
can't even come close, except during the Shabbat service since I learned
to chant the whole thing for my Bar Mitzvah.  Generally I've taken to
reading it at my own speed and getting through as much as I get through,
perhaps sitting down early so as not to delay the rest of the
congregation for five or ten minutes.  I find my own kavanah increased
along with my understanding of what the prayers mean.

How do those of you who can easily daven at top speed learn to do it?
Do you practice at home until you're up to shul speed, or is it just
something you grew up with?

Marc Sacks


From: Moshe & Davida Nugiel <friars@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 11:54:04 +0200
Subject: Kavanah II:  Brochot

	Having received such valuable and supportive feedback from list
members on my Kavanah posting, I would like to share a further concern
on this topic.

	I would like to point to a minhag of ours which I believe has a
detrimental effect on our ability to say brochot with proper kavanah.
That minhag is the saying of the fifteen birchot ha'shachar as a body,
in shul, removed from their context.  The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 46:1)
presents the halacha of saying these brochot as it is presented in the
Talmud (Berochot 60), namely saying each appropriate bracha when its
concomitant action is taking place.  We bless God's giving the rooster
the ability to distinguish light from dark when we hear the rooster. We
bless God's giving sight to the "blind" when we open our eyes.  This
makes a lot of sense.
	However, in the next halacha (46:2) the Shulchan Aruch describes
the present day minhag of choosing to say these brochot together, in the
Beit Ha'knesset.  The reasons given are 1) nowadays our hands are not
clean and 2) for the sake of the unlearned people who come to beit
ha'knesset, but who don't know the brochot.

	I would first like to briefly describe the way, for me, this
minhag damages my ability to say brochot with kavanah.  In the worst
case scenario, I am in shul, and the sheliach tzibur is quickly rattling
off this list of brochot, and the congregation is mechanically answering
"amen."  This all to frequent experience engenders in me a kind of
mental anesthesia towards all brochot in general.  If this can possibly
be considered to be a fulfillment of one's obligation to say a bracha,
then the yetzer ha'rah (evil inclination) has achieved a tremendous
foothold in his mission to thwart us Jews from serving Hashem in a
proper and dignified manner.
	However, even in the best case scenario, when I am trying hard
to get through this list of brochot with some sort of kavanah, the
question remains, how can I have kavanah in the saying of a bracha which
is completely devoid of its context?  And how can I be asked to maintain
this difficult-to-achieve level of kavanah time after time fifteen times
in a row?  Invariably I do not succeed, my mind wanders, and I become
frustrated with the entire enterprise.  Why would chazal (our teachers
of old) put before me such a difficult daily test?

	I propose that we drop this minhag a return to the original
intent of the Talmud, viz. a praise of thanks to Hashem for every good
thing at the time that it is appropriate.  I have begun to do this, and
although not always successful, I am at least spared the damaging
effects of this minhag in terms of frustration and the cheapening of the
bracha experience.
	And what to do about the reasons for the minhag, as stated
above?  1) The Shulchan Oruch states, O.C. 4:23, that washing of hands
is only necessary for saying Shemah and for Tefilah, i.e., davening
Amidah.  It further states that if ones sleeps without pajamas, one must
wash before saying any bracha. (This is presumably what is meant by
"nowadays our hands are not clean," i.e., that they slept without
pajamas at that time.)  So I sleep with pajamas.  2) I believe that the
problem of am'ei ha'aretz (unlearned) coming to shul is solved by having
prayer books available for everyone these days.  Even if not, I do not
need to fulfill my obligation via the sheliach tzibur.  I've already
done it at home in its proper context.  That the sheliach tzibur is
cheapening the bracha-experience for the others is something I can do
little about--except voice my opinion on this list.

Kol tuv,  Moshe Nugiel


From: Michael and Abby Pitkowsky <pitab@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 98 20:37:38 PST
Subject: Keter Shem Tov

>I own a single volume of a set of sefarim called "Keser Shem Tov".  The
>English title page is subtitled "The Rites and Ceremonies and Liturgical
>Variants of the Sephardim of the East and West and of the Ashkenazim--
>Their Origin and Significance".  It was written by Rabbi Shemtov Gaguine
>-- Ab Beth Din of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregations in England.
>The one volume I have was published in 1955 in London --

Keter Shem Tov is a very important book and R. Gaguine did a thorough
and scholarly examination of Sephardic customs and their origins.  The
book has recently been reprinted and I have seen it in Seforim stores 
here in Israel.  If you are interested in ordering the reprinted
edition I would suggest that you contact "HaSifriyah haSefaradit,a store
which specializes in books from Sephardi scholars.  Their phone number
is 02-5372265 and their address is Ohalei Yosef 3, Jerusalem.

Name: Michael Menahem and Abby Pitkowsky
E-mail: <pitab@...>


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 12:13:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: re "Stop Agonizing"

That post was the best thing I've seen on this subject in a LONG time.
I recall a young man who was once our Shabbos lunch guest, saying that
he admitted that he was sometimes bored, that the davening felt too
long, etc. (especially on the yomim noraim!), but that he accepted that
in a sense it was a SACRIFICE, that you're expected to show up and offer
it, and he did.  (I'm not sure if I'm conveying his exact state of mind
but that's what I understood him to be saying.)

The distinction between public and private prayer really clears this up,

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 17:16:43 +0200
Subject: Re: Tzedakah during Tefilah

The only time that a person asking for tzedakah in shul really bothered
me, was when I went to a shul where three years running (as many years
as I lived in that neighborhood) someone came around on Purim while the
megillah was being read.  I think it was the same person each time, but
I can't be sure, I didn't have much attention to spare.  Forget
kavannah, if I miss a word I have to hear it all over again, and where
am I going to do that, there was no assembly-line shtible in town.  I
don't think Eliyahu Hanavi would want me to miss hearing the megillah,
so I think we can assume it was someone else asking for tzedakah.

For the same reason I couldn't give him money, I also couldn't give him a
piece of my mind.

On a related subject, I've come across two classes of people who ask for
tzedakah here in Israel that puzzle me.

1) Obviously poor people with receipts from a yeshiva.  Normally, people
collecting for themselves don't pass out receipts.  Are they employed by
the yeshiva?  Are these receipts bogus?  If so, should I care if person
#1 asks me for money for a nonexistant yeshiva when it's likely that he
needs money for himself?  If he picked my pocket, his economic status
wouldn't matter to me.

2) People with shtriemels asking for tzedakah (I don't recall if the
person I mentioned at the top was wearing one, but I certainly have seen
shtriemel wearers in shul on Purim and other occasions asking for
tzedakah).  Is it wrong for me to think that a person ought to sell this
very expensive garment and buy a wool cap before asking for tzedakah?

Note that I give to poor people if they look like Charedim or Chilonim,
if someone stretched out a hand wearing an expensive watch I would
wonder the same thing.  Yes, I know about the examples in the Gemarah of
poor people with extravegant tastes, when I can afford old wine and
someone to run in front of my horse I'll consider giving the same to
others, in the meantime all there is to give away is pocket change and
I'd rather give it to those who really need it.

Now maybe they're collecting for someone else.  I don't ask poor people
for details, but I think I would be justified in asking someone
collecting for others.  But person #2 doesn't say he's collecting for
someone else, he just holds out his hand.


End of Volume 28 Issue 30