Volume 52 Number 24
                    Produced: Fri Jun 23  5:40:52 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chassidic inovations (was Women saying kaddish)
         [Chana Luntz]
History of the Mourner's Qaddish
         [Jay F Shachter]
Kaddish and German Minhag
         [Lipman Phillip Minden]
Role of Women
         [Emmanuel Ifrah]


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 13:16:57 +0100
Subject: Chassidic inovations (was Women saying kaddish)

I wrote:

> One of the ironies, of course, is that R' SBA is closely 
> identified with certain chassidic communities, and my 
> impression is that very similar charges were levelled against 
> chassidism in its early years regarding inovation and absence 
> of permission from (or even contradiction with) the Shulchan 
> Aruch by those (the "misnagdim") who were against what were 
> seen as the inovations of chassidism.

Perhaps to elaborate on the question I raised in this post, by way of an
example (I am not sure if it is the best example, in some ways it may
be, in other ways not):

The Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim siman 339 si'if 3) (discussing hilchos
shabbas) states that it is forbidden to slap one hand against the other,
or to clap a hand against a thigh, or to dance [on shabbas] as a gezera
[decree of the rabbis] lest one come to fix an instrument.

This appears to be the opinion followed generally by Sephardim (there is
a special heter given that allows Sephardim to dance on Simchas Torah)
who will not dance on shabbas.

The Rema comments on this halacha as follows:

"And that where they clap and dance today and are not reproved in this
this is because it is better that they do this unknowingly [d'mutav
shehayu shogegin] and there are some who say that today it is permitted
because we are not experts in making instruments and therefore there is
no need for a gezera lest we mend instruments as it is an uncommon
occurrence and it is possible that it is on the basis of this that the
custom is to be lenient in all these (tosphos)."

Now I wouldn't exactly describe this Rema as a ringing endorsement of
the practice of dancing and clapping.  The concept of d'mutav shehayu
shogegin is one that comes up in other places (most notably, I would
say, in relation to women) and the idea is that if you do not believe
that saying anything is going to have any effect, it is better to leave
the perpetrators ignorant of the fact that they are violating the
halacha than have them do it intentionally.  Something described as
m'mutav shehayu shogegin is not the sort of practice that one would
expect to be led by rabbaim and talmidei chachamim and certainly not
advocated as an integral and key part of the shabbas experience.

And even though the Rema does find a limud zechus [a justification for
leniency] based on Tosphos, it is pretty clear from the language that
this is all it is, rather than anything approaching support for the

And yet, while I haven't been to the kotel on a Friday night for some
time, my recollection is that there are numbers of groups that come down
to the kotel dancing, led by Rebbes and Roshei Yeshiva and who engage in
dancing as part and parcel of the Friday night experience.   And there
used to be a group of kiruv workers who used to dance and sing some song
that went something like "Just one shabbas and we'll all be free, just
one shabbas, come and join with me ..." and when you ask them what that
song is about, they say that there is a midrash that if all of Bnei
Yisroel were to keep two shabbassim, then the redemption would come, and
they kept one shabbas in the desert at the time of Moshe Rabbanu, so we
just need one more, and that is what they are trying to encourage.

And perhaps because I have a weird sort of mind, I am standing there and
thinking: - if your aim is to get all of bnei yisroel to keep shabbas,
should you be doing it by doing something that according to the Shulchan
Aruch is a clear rabbinical violation of shabbas? - and even if you
don't hold like the position advocated by Rav Ovadiah Yosef that in
Eretz Yisroel everybody should be following the Shulchan Aruch and not
the Rema, because Eretz Yisroel is the place of the Shulchan Aruch,
still, is it really derech eretz and appropriate behaviour to dance at
the kotel when the Shulchan Aruch and the Sephardim who follow him
clearly holds that it is assur to do so, and even the Rema is so luke
warm about it?

And yet my understanding (although I am no expert on chassidus) is that
it is as part and parcel of chassidus that dancing, as led by and
sanctioned by the Rebbe, became identified with cleaving to G-d, and
almost a fundamental part of worship and that part of the acceptance of
something like dancing at the kotel has to do with the general
acceptance of chassidic practices that were originally frowned upon.

And there is no question in my mind that as an emotional spur to
worship, this kind of devotional dancing works - which is why it is used
so much by kiruv organisations the world over.  And while today the
kiruv movement is focussed on people who are not halachically observant
(and are generally not knowledgeable enough to be halachically observant
without education), the chassidic movement was also clearly a kiruv
movement, in that, while it may in the main have appealed to people who
were already (or still) halachically observant, its appeal was, equally
clearly, to those who, for one reason or another, were alienated
emotionally or intellectually from current observance (one does not need
to throw one's lot in with a new movement, particularly a contraversial
one, if one is happy and comfortable with what one has).

So while the position taken by one poster (Esther Posen
<eposen@...>):"Mitzvot are not given to us to fill our
emotional needs, though an act of chesed could fill the emotional need
of the recipient of the chesed." - might seem to sum up a misnagdishe
position very well, it seems equally clearly to reject the chassidishe
movement, especially given how close to violation, if not violation
itself, of specific provisions of the Shulchan Aruch that movement
comes.  The saying of kaddish by women, as a matter of pure halacha,
actually feels rather tame in comparision.  That is why I wondered to
what extent we were rehashing old arguments (and whether, specifically,
the "type of woman who would want to say kaddish" discussion we are
having here was translatable to the "type of man" attracted to the
chassidishe movement at the time of founding - because certainly amongst
the misnagdim, the attitude to those who turned to the chassidic
movement was that constituted the less knowledgeable and committed (to
put it mildly)).



From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 20:58:42 -0600 (CDT)
Subject: History of the Mourner's Qaddish

In mail-jewish v52n22, Elazar M. Teitz, who is normally exceptionally
clear-thinking and erudite, has given an analysis of the Mourner's
Qaddish that is belied by the historical reality.  He has stated that
the recitation of the Mourner's Qaddish by individual mourners arose as
a way to give a mourner an opportunity to function as a Shliax Tsibbur
(emissary of the community in public prayer) when said mourner could not
function as the actual Shliax Tsibbur, either because he was not learned
or skilled enough to serve as the actual Shliax Tsibbur, or because
another mourner was already serving in that capacity.  He then drew the
conclusion that a woman should not be the sole person reciting Qaddish,
because this then places her in the role of the Shliax Tsibbur (a role
that women do not assume, because of their legal exemption from most
forms of public prayer).  This is, I believe, an accurate summary of his

This analysis would be plausible only if the Mourner's Qaddish was
originally recited only by adult men, and recited by underage minors
only more recently, when the custom mutated, deviating from its original

The historical reality, however, is the reverse.  The historical reality
is that the recitation of the Mourner's Qaddish by individual mourners,
was, at first, only practiced by underage minors -- people who could not
legally function as the Shliax Tsibbur, because their age legally
disqualified them.  They were allowed to recite the Mourner's Qaddish in
lieu of being the actual Shliax Tsibbur.  If a mourner was an adult
male, he would serve as the actual Shliax Tsibbur; a mourner who was a
minor could not do so, and so would recite the Mourner's Qaddish
instead.  The recitation of the Mourner's Qaddish on the part of adult
male mourners is, historically, a more recent phenomenon.

Since the recitation of Mourner's Qaddish was originally offered (and
exclusively offered), not to mourners unskilled at being the Shliax
Tsibbur, but, rather, to mourners legally disqualified from being the
Shliax Tsibbur, it is not obvious that it should not be offered to
women, even to women reciting it alone.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
Chicago IL  60645-4111


From: Lipman Phillip Minden <phminden@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 12:18:49 +0200
Subject: Re: Kaddish and German Minhag

Meine Herren le-ourech yomim touvim,
here are some basic facts:

- Saying kaddish is not a mourner's obligation other than via the mitzve
to keep the minneg. It's a privilege. So, if there are several mourners
r"l, and only one says kaddesh, the others don't have any (fulfillable
or unfulfillable) obligation. They aren't youtze anymore through the one
who does say kaddesh than any other member of the tzibber
[congregation], because they don't have any obligation other than to go
to shul and answer to kaddesh when they hear it.

- Until a relatively short time ago, the principle "ein leharbes
bekaddeishem shellou letzourech" [the number of unnecessary kaddeishem
is not to be increased] was heeded generally, today only by some
Yekkes. An even more recent error is to understand "letzourech" as
"whenever somebody has a chiyev or feels like it". So, formerly, when
ten people learned certain things, one of them would say kaddesh at the
end, and he and the others would answer "Yehei shemei‚^ņ¶", while
nowadays one person mumbles an out-of-context five-seconds mishne in
order that nine people may mumble kaddesh for nobody to answer.

- So, in the older rite, and still partly among Yekkes and Sefardem,
there's no kaddish and no artificially inserted psukem [biblical verses]
after Oleine, after korbones, after Anem zmires, after Shir hayyiched,
after the added Mizmer shir chanukkes habayes, after each of the
recently added kapitels tillem at the end of shachres and maarev
etc. etc.

- The actual privilege is to ore fore [daven before the amud {lead the
congregation in prayer}]. If he can't, let him say at least
Lamenatzeiach etc. If he can't either, let him nebbich say a kaddesh at

- The old minneg, still practised by some Yekkes, is that one and only
one person says kaddesh. This is not a question of different minhogem -
not only is this the original one, but it is the only one that makes
sense: The sha"tz' most important role is to prompt the tzibber to
answer "Yehei shemei‚^ņ¶"! Sefardem nowadays have several people say
kaddesh in unison, but even if - in contrast to your typical Ashkenazic
mumblers - they're really unisono, still one might ask if "trei kole"
are OK. Every mourner should be happy to be able to answer kaddesh,
which is much more important than saying the shatz part. (Goes without
saying that the shatz is part of the tzibber and should answer as well.)

- Saying the kaddesh without any sound together with the shatz is
nonsense. Nobody will answer. Whispering or mumbling can even prevent
people to keep track with the main "kaddesh zeger". Worst if such a
mumbler doesn't answer himself either because he thinks he doesn't have
to or because he's missing the main calling through his "own" kaddesh.

- Taking a talles lekoved hattzibber [in order to be respectful towards
the congregation] and standing next to the chazzen might be a specific
Western minneg, but old it is certainly, and at least I wouldn't be
astonished to learn it's the original minneg everywhere.

- On a general note, kaddesh is not a prayer for the dead. Kaddesh is
not a prayer for the dead. It's also not really a prayer anyway. And
certainly not the most important part of the service, even if in modern
times, people jump up for it.

Lipman Phillip Minden


From: Emmanuel Ifrah <emmanuel_ifrah@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 05:22:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Role of Women

Shoshana L. Boublil wrote (Volume 52 Number 22):
> But during the past 25 years, Rav Ovadia has been pushing the younger
> generation to abandon their mothers' practice -- and to follow Maran
> on 2 of these 3.  Nowadays, I know plenty of Sephardi women who have
> abandoned their mother's tradition, and follow Maran on these matters.

The third issue is the number of days after which women can began 7
nekiim. Maran rules that is 5, most North African communities held 6 and
some other Sefaradim or Edot ha-Mizrach even 7 or 8. This is not a small
issue! As for head covering only following to the development of French
culture in North Africa did women begin not to cover their heads. I can
clearly recall that my great grandmother, z"l, always kept her head
covered. My grandmother did not (she was born after WWI), it was a
different generation, a generation where French and not only Arabic was
spoken, some women worked, etc.

To me, the decisions of R. Ovadya Yossef spread so widely due to a
number of factors.  First, his stature as a Possek and as the main
authority for Sefaradim in Eretz Israel is an element.  The second one
is the activism of Shass as a social movement and the publishing
activism of his son R. Yitzchak Yossef. Most people abidind by R. Ovadya
Yossef study the too famous Yalkut Yossef and not the responsa Yechave
Daat or Yabia Omer.  The third factor is that while they left their
lands of origin, the majority of Sefaradic Jews had difficulty
maintaining their traditions.  All streams where mixed together,
resulting into a kind of esperanto of minhagim, often they had to
integrate into Ashkenazi communities, etc.  The fourth factor is that
Tora knowledge was less spread in the previous generations and a lot of
children abandoned minhagim that their parents could not explain.  Fifth
factor, the fact that rabbis of Sefaradic lands published fewer books
that Ashkenazim. They wrote a lot but sometimes they thought out of
'anava that their books were not that important to be published; also
Jewish printing was less flourishing in Morocco or Tunisia than in
Lithuana, obviously. At a later period, rabbis like the late R. Shalom
Messas zt"l put a lot of energy in publishing these books... A lot of
institutions are active in this field today. I can cite the case of
Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom of R. Yaakov Hillel who publishes lots of books
of great value in magnificent editions.

In conclusion, I would say that even here in France, where 95% of
Sefaradim are of North African origin, it is harder and harder to stick
to our minhagim, as there is now a new Tora and one who does not want to
go by R. Ovadya Yossef's psakim is considered an ignoramus and sometimes
an apikoros.


End of Volume 52 Issue 24