Volume 41 Number 56
                 Produced: Thu Dec 25  8:28:11 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Davening Nusach Ari
         [Aharon Noach]
Nusach Ari trumps other nusachot?
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Nusach at Ad-Hoc Minyonim (2)
         [Mordechai, Martin Stern]
Nusach HaTefilah
Test of Faith (3)
         [Tzvi Briks, Elazar M Teitz, Stan Tenen]


From: Aharon Noach <aaronnoach@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 15:59:10 -0600
Subject: Davening Nusach Ari

<<However, several years ago, the weekday minchah assembled at work had
 three aveilim.  One was Lubavitch and when it was his turn for the
 amud, he davened nusach ari even though he was the only one in the
 minyan to do so.  I questioned him and he said his Lubavitch dayan told
 him that he is permitted to do so even if he is the only one davening
 that nusach>>

The Lubavitch Dayan paskened erroneously.

The following is a quote from a letter of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe,
zechusoi yagen aleinu, dated 22 Kislev 5722, found on page 35 in the
book, "Letters From the Rebbe" Volume 4, published by Otsar Sifrei
Lubavitch in 1998

"Replying to your Questions: When you daven individually, you should
follow Nusach Ari; when you act as Shliach Tzibbur (if there is a need
for it)-- you should follow the Nusach of the majority of the

In Volume 3 of the Rebbe's letters page 79 dated 7 Marcheshvan 5722, the
Rebbe, after explaining why Lubavitcher's do not say Selichos during the
Aseres Yemai Teshuva, concludes,

"Needless to say, when you find yourself in a place where the custom is
to say Selichos, it is indeed proper to join with the rest of the
congregation, especially as, in this case, the saying of our sages, 'Do
not seperate yourself from the Tzibbur', applies."

Aharon Noach Grossman


From: Eitan Fiorino <Fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 12:29:28 -0500
Subject: Nusach Ari trumps other nusachot?

> From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
> . . . Chabad believe that their nusach is THE 
> nusach for anyone who is not familiar (as none of us are) of 
> his particular shevet's (tribe's) nusach going back to Biblical times.
> In their view, then, their one size fits all, and they feel 
> justifed in using it even in a shul that davens a different 
> nusach and they're the only one davening nusach Ari.

I had never heard this before and it sounded completely absurd, though I
have subsequently heard that this position with regard to nusach Ari can
be attributed to the Ari himself.

The view raises a number of questions.  Nusach Ari is perhaps the most
recent nusach to develop - considering that the Ari lived in the
mid-16th century and that Sephardic (Eastern and Western), Ashkenazic
and Italian nusachot were already well developed by this time.  Why
would nusach Ari be given any precendence over more ancient nusachot?
Probably the Ari has some mystical reason for this, but I think any
connection (mystical or otherwise) between nusach Ari and some kind of
presumed biblical nusach related to the shevatim is dubious at best.
Which raises the question of what relevance knowing one's shevet has to
one's nusach, considering that the development of the full seder
hatefilah appears to have largely been a post-chorban bayit sheini
phenomenon and possibly not fully standardized until the geonic period.
On what historical basis would one even generate a hypothesis that each
shevet had a specific nusach?  Moreover, in the absence of a family
tradition of belonging to shevet Levi, aren't we all considered members
of shevet Yehuda?

Aside from questionable historical basis for the opinion cited with
regard to nusach Ari, I believe that the view of Chabad on nusach Ari
does not extend to one who is the shaliach tzibbur in a tzibbur that
prays in a different nusach (which was the case in question) -
apparently the last Lubavitch rebbe wrote about this in his Iggerot.

The real question here is not "can the shaliach tzibbur pray with a
nusach that differs from the nusach of the tzibbur" - I think there is
no real dispute about the answer to that question.  Rather, the question
is, does a "weekday minchah assembled at work" constitute a tzibbur that
adheres to a specific nusach?  Perhaps not, and perhaps if the members
of such an informal minyan agree, it is perfectly acceptable for the
shaliach tzibbur to use his nusach.

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From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 03:48:26 EST
Subject: Nusach at Ad-Hoc Minyonim

<< From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
  Mr Wise does not make it clear if this minyan was an ad hoc gathering
or a regular fixture. If the former there can be no objection to any
sheliach tsibbur using whatever nusach he wishes. However, if it were
the latter and a certain nusach had always been used, then nobody is
allowed to change it under any circumstances as was ruled by the Maharil
(Hilchot Yom Hakippurim 21, Machon Yerushalayim edition p. 339) who is
one of the main authorities on which Minhag Ashkenaz is based...............>>

I enjoyed reading Mr. Stern's fine posting (the end of which I omitted
for purpose of brevity).

One comment however - he says that if the minyan was an ad-hoc
gathering, any shliach tzibbur can use any nusach. I wonder if that is
correct. If a majority of the minyan, for example, daven nusach
Ashkenaz, can a single [person with a different Nusach] then come in and
daven his way against their will ? A shliach tzibbur is just that - a
messenger of the tzibbur - not a free agent who can do whatever he
wishes. If a shliach doesn't do what those who send him wish, his right
to such a title and position comes into question, IMHO.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 10:17:10 +0000
Subject: Nusach at Ad-Hoc Minyonim

I am inclined to agree with Mordechai if the vast majority present use a
particular nusach but I think that, on balance, one cannot insist on it
when the ad hoc minyan consists of people with a wide variety of

Martin Stern


From: <egeiger@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 12:30:15 -0500
Subject: Re: Nusach HaTefilah

<<Chabad believe that their nusach is THE nusach for anyone who is not
familiar (as none of us are) of his particular shevet's (tribe's) nusach
going back to Biblical times. >>

I think that the concepts addressed above are not completely clear.  The
nus'chaot of today are not extensions of the nus'chaot of the tribes;
they are merely comparable to those nus'chaot.  In reading the above
statement, one might be led to erroneously believe that, according to
Chabad, because he does not know his shevet (tribe), then he should pray
using Nusach Ari.

It is also interesting to note that there are many Lubavitchers who
dress in Chasidic garb that is distinctly not Lubavitch.  This is
because when they joined the Chabad community, the Lubavitcher Rebbe
told these Chasidim to keep their former garb as their own.



From: <Brikspartzuf@...> (Tzvi Briks)
Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 02:16:53 EST
Subject: Re: Test of Faith

I enjoyed reading all the articles concerning Yitzchak Avinu and the
Akeida.  I would like to posit an alternate approach.  Both Avraham and
Yitzchak were trying to achieve an enormous task.  They were both
attempting to correct the Chet of Etz Hadaat Tov V'Ra of Adam Harishon.
According to Chazal, among the consequences of the Chet of Etz Hadaat
Tov V'ra were Avodah Zara, Shefichat Damim, and Gilui Arayot.  Adam
Harishon literally brought death upon his progeny, believed in other
deitic entities other than the Kadosh Baruch Hu, and had aberrated
sexual relations with Chava and Chava's alterego - Lilit.  To this day
we are still suffering the consequences of this major inter and
intradimensional defect.  The consequences are often difficult to bare.
The healing of the rift began with Avraham Aveenu and proceeded with
Yitzchak Aveenu.  Avraham corrected the Cheit of Avidah Zara.  Yitchak
corrected the Cheit of Shefichat Damim. (By the way, Yaakov with Yosef
corrected the Cheit of Gilui Arayot.)

Tzvi Briks
New Rochelle, NY

From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 22:57:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Test of Faith

To state, as some have, that Avraham, chalilah, "failed the test" or
"was punished for it" makes one wonder if the authors of those words
have the same Bible I have, in which Avraham is told, "Because you did
this thing, and did not spare your son, your only one, therefore I will
bless you and increase your progeny as the stars of the heaven and the
sand on the seashore, and your progeny will inherit the gates of his
enemies . . .  because you obeyed me."

Are these the rewards given to one for "failing a test"?  Does this
represent "punishment"?  Can any reasonable individual reach any
conclusion other than that Avraham passed this last and greatest test
with flying colors?

As for the claim that "what Hashem demands of Avraham is obviously
against His own system of morality," how is that so obvious?  By
definition, morality is what Hashem demands.  To state that He demands
something against His system of morality is a contradiction in
terms. One can say that in virtually every case, human sacrifice is
immoral, since Hashem forbade it; but when He asks it, in that
circumstance it would be immoral not to obey.  Indeed, what made the
test so difficult as to merit so great a reward was not only the
sacrifice of his son, but also Avraham's preparedness to violate what he
had spent a lifetime teaching, that human sacrifice was against G-d's

The question, "Is obedience more ethical than keeping faith with the
principles taught to us by Hashem?," is thus a meaningless one.  Since
there was a direct command to Avraham to offer his son, obviously the
principle taught by Hashem was not "Do not offer human sacrifice," but
"Do not offer human sacrifice unless directly commanded by Hashem to do

As to why Avraham argued about S'dom and was silent about Yitzchak, in
the case of S'dom Avraham was told what _G-d_ intended to do; as such,
he had the right to pray that Hashem stay the decree because of the
righteous residents, just as we have the right to pray for the cure of
those whom G-d has made sick, in effect beseeching Him to change His
mind.  In the akeidah, it was what _Avraham_ was to do. In such a
situation, he was duty-bound to obey the command given him

The statement that Yitzchak never spoke to Avraham again is also
unfounded, and is as accurate as saying that Yitzchak never spoke to him
before the akeidah.  All that can be said is that no other conversation
between them is recorded in the Torah, either before or after.  Would
anyone say that Yitzchak was punished for sending Yaakov to Lavan, since
Yaakov never spoke to Yitzchak again?

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 09:10:03 -0500
Subject: Test of Faith

It's important to notice that while it may have appeared to Abraham, and
certainly appears to us in reading the pshat, that God was asking
Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, that in fact did not happen.  Who knew what,
when, and why, is secondary to the fact that Isaac was not sacrificed.
>From this our sages learned greatly, and it is the prototype for later
action that we now laud.

For example, Solomon knew that he was not going to cut the child in
half.  But the two women claiming to be mothers didn't, and couldn't,
know that.  The position of the mothers is comparable to Abraham's

In Abraham's case, the Heavenly King "outs" Abraham's deepest feelings
and priorities, without risking a life.  How else to find out if
Abraham's commitment is first to God, or first to his own progeny?

In the case of the two mothers, the earthly king, emulating the Heavenly
King, knows exactly what to do to find out which mother is committed to
the life of the child, and which is committed to mere ownership and
control.  Solomon, from the point of view of the two mothers, makes the
same threat as Abraham, from the point of view of Isaac.

 From God's perspective, causality and time is never an issue, because
after all, God is out of time, and eternal.  The fact is that both God
and Solomon emulating God's action with regard to Abraham and Isaac,
knew that no human life was going to be taken.  There never was a risk,
either to Isaac, or to the child.

Once we drop out "causality" -- which is, after all, only our limited
view -- it turns out that the _threat_ was never to take a life.  The
threat was in the mind of Abraham -- only if he lacked faith, and only
if he didn't understand that God was outside of time -- and in the mind
of the mothers, who couldn't know what was in Solomon's mind -- except
also if they trusted that as the real secular king, Solomon did carry a
measure of God's wisdom, justice, and compassion.  Abraham succeeded
because of his great faith.  The true mother succeeded because Solomon
saw that she put life before property. The false mother failed because
of the same lack of faith that led her to make false claims in the first

Apparently, Solomon learned wisdom from reading Torah, and thus he
emulated what he read about.  This is _OUR_ test here and now.  Do we
choose to see the story of the Akeidah as a moral mistake? Or do we
learn the real lesson of the Akeidah, as Solomon did, and do we then
acquire a measure of Solomon's wisdom in using this lesson in our
everyday life?  Threats are not violence, per se.  The use of a threat
to "out" a truth to save a life is more than justified.  (But the actual
taking of a life, even to save a life, is a far more difficult

Our test here and now is to struggle with these ideas, and to learn to
choose as Abraham did, and as the true mother of the child did.

Happy Chanukah.

Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>
POB 503, Sharon, MA 02067 USA   Voice: 781-784-8902  eFax: 253-663-9273


End of Volume 41 Issue 56