Volume 56 Number 62
                   Produced: Sun May 24 17:25:06 EDT 2009

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Baruch Hu U'varuch Sh'mo (was: A plurality of customs)
        [Elie Rosenfeld]
Congregational Minhagim and behavior
        [Martin Stern]
Grave stone question
        [David Ziants]
        [Avraham Norin]
Martin's shul ignoring a Beit Din
        [Mordechai Horowitz]
A plurality of customs
        [Joseph Kaplan]
Question regarding saying the Viduy before tahanun on weekdays (2)
        [Haim Snyder, Dov Bloom]
Schul Minhagim
        [Martin Stern]


From: Elie Rosenfeld <erosenfe@...>
Date: Fri, May 22, 2009 at 8:51 AM
Subject: RE: Baruch Hu U'varuch Sh'mo (was: A plurality of customs)

First of all - welcome back MJ!

Before the recent break, there had been an ongoing discussion on the
custom of saying "Baruch-Hu U'varuch Sh'mo" ["blessed be He and His
name"] after hearing G-d's name in a beracha. David Ziants has asked the

> How ancient is the custom to say Baruch-Hu U'varuch Sh'mo at a place
> where there is no issues of hefsek what so ever?

I am very interested in the answer to this, since my own custom -
inherited from my father Z'L - is to *never* say Baruch Hu U'varuch
Sh'mo (BHUS) for *any* beracha. His reasons for this were:

- Saying BHUS was, to his knowledge, a relatively "recent" custom - i.e.,
significantly post-Talmudic

- There is no compelling reason to say BHUS - unlike saying "Amen" which
of course allows one to be yotze [fulfill one's obligation] with
another's beracha

- Since for some berachos, one is not *supposed* to interrupt by saying
BHUS, saying it can sometimes be a detriment. Therefore, one should
avoid it for all berachos, since there is the risk that if one gets in
the habit of saying it where it is "allowed", one will come to say it
where it is not.

Again, I'm very interested in concrete information on when the custom of
BHUS started, and who instituted it.

- Elie Rosenfeld


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 19, 2009 at 8:40 AM
Subject: Congregational Minhagim and behavior

On Sun, May 17, 2009, Bernard Raab <beraab@...> wrote:

> The situation described by Martin Stern is astonishing and deplorable.
> The idea that a Rav can come to a congregation and do away with
> long-established minhagim of the shul without claiming halachic
> necessity is regretable.
> I am not unfamiliar with similar actions taken by rabbis of
> congregations that I have belonged to. I have asked such rabbis if they
> did not think that shul minhagim of long-standing deserved some
> respect.
> This argument almost never prevailed with these rabbis. But these were
> not changes designed to change the very nature of the shul. They were
> typically singular changes designed to satisfy the rabbi's unique
> perspective on some issue. They seemed not to be troubled by the fact
> that the next rabbi could make his own changes in accord with his unique
> perspective, and the members are regarded as just a flock of sheep.

Bernard's analysis is absolutely accurate in the case of my shul and its
newly appointed spiritual leader. The latter certainly regarded the
members as just a flock of sheep and took offence if they even asked him
the rationale for any changes he might wish to make.

This is perhaps highlighted by something that happened quite soon after
his appointment. The custom in the shul had always been that the ba'al
shacharit had said the chatsi kaddish after Kriat Hatorah. The rabbi
changed this to the currently more common custom of this kaddish being
said by the ba'al kore. I have a teshuvah from Rabbi Binyamin Hamburger
on this where he shows that this custom is found in the Rishonim with no
alternative until about 300 years ago when the term "or the ba'al kore"
begins to appear. It would appear that previously the ba'al shacharit
had also been ba'al kore but with the rise of more elaborate chazzanut,
individuals were being appointed who could not lein.

May I first state categorically that I am not necessarily opposed to
this very minor change if there were some cogent reason to make
it. However, when I asked the rabbi about the matter, his whole
demeanour was as if I had asked him why he was continually pilfering the
petty cash and he refused even to comment.

I thought over the matter over the next few days and came to the
conclusion that there was a very good reason. As sometimes happens the
ba'al shacharit is engrossed in a sefer (bein gavra legavra, not during
the actual leining r"l) and does not notice that the time has come for
the kaddish. There ensues a silent pause with everyone looking around to
see what has gone wrong and then, in great embarrassment, he realises
what has happened and rushes up to the bimah. Since the ba'al kore is
anyway on the bimah, it would make sense to let him say the kaddish to
avoid such embarrassing incidents.

When I pointed this reasoning out to the rabbi, he was not particularly
mollified. Quite obviously he expected members to be sheep and under no
circumstances to ask such impudent questions. The fact that, on his own
admission, he had never obtained hatarat hora'ah (formal rabbinic
ordination) may well explain his obvious sensitivity in such matters.

I only bring up this incident to illustrate the problem not because I
had any strong feelings on this particular matter and would have gone
along with this change. However it will explain why I found his claim
that every member should accept his "absolute authority in matters
related to the shul", echoes of papal infallibility, somewhat

Martin Stern


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, 23 May 2009 23:41:38 +0300
Subject: Re: Grave stone question

I wish to thank everyone who replied both privately and publicly to my
questions, and also for the comforting wishes I received and of course
for the advice that was presented. In the end, I was able to set a date
before the end of November, and this is within the cut-off date from the
point of view of the ground settling. I realise that a lot on how things
are done is based on local custom and there is the necessity to go
along, even things I find awkward. I almost gave an example here, but
have now decided to leave this for a discussion point at another time.

One of the posters mentioned about the Teimani (Yemenite) custom of
putting the Stone on the grave straight after "shiva". Someone else told
me, during a phone conversation, that it is also the old Ashkenazi
Jerusalem custom to place the Stone straight after shiva and also not to
engrave the letters on the Stone, but to write them on with a paint.  I
think this (similarly to wanting to bury the dead at night in
Jerusalem), very much indicates the sensitivity to Tuma in the Holy
City, and preventing having a grave exposed even for a day longer than

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Avraham Norin <harbashan@...>
Date: Fri, May 22, 2009 at 3:40 AM
Subject: Kedusha

Tosephta messechet Brachot 1:9 "Rabbi Yehuda answered with the one who
made a blessing "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh" and "Baruch Kavod Hashem

Tosephta's KPshuto- "To fulfill the words "Kulam Kechad Onim V'Omrim"

Nachum Lamm's book (Hebrew) - "Halachot V'Halichoot"- which explains the
rational behind many minhagim al pi hahalacha including Kedusha (chapter
4). There he shows that there are two possible sources for Kedusha and
that the halachik ramifications from each source explain the different
minhagim with kedusha.

Avraham Norin


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: 2009/5/19
Subject: Martin's shul ignoring a Beit Din

I look at this very simply.

If I ignore the ruling of a Beit Din I would be put in herem, banned
from attending any shul, working in any Jewish organization banned from
attending simhas or having normal social relations with members of the
Torah community. (ie assuming the shul, organization, social group
followed halacha)

I don't understand how this Rabbi or shul is still considered Orthodox.
The Beis Din must enforce its ruling. If it doesn't then I guess we can
all assume the Rabbis don't mean it when they tell us go to Beit Din
instead of secular court


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Tue, May 19, 2009 at 7:09 AM
Subject: A plurality of customs

I have great sympathy for Martin Stern concerning the unfair treatment
and pain that he has been put through, but my advice, given reluctantly,
is to let it go. I say this, I emphasize, not because I think he has
acted improperly in any way. Based on what he has written (and as a
lawyer, I must say that we have heard only one side, although it
certainly has the feel of truth), he has acted in a restrained and
dignified manner. Bur sometimes one must admit defeat, not because ones
goal isn't just bit because victory simply is not possible.

Let's say Martin "wins" Then what? He'll be a shul where the rabbi and a
large number of congregants revile him; he'll be in a shul where there
will be constant friction, debate and disagreement over procedures and
minhagim; he'll be in a shul where his behavior, and that of the others
including the rabbi, will be constantly under a microscope and will take
precedence over tefillah. I believe that, unfortunately, as just as his
cause is, he simply can't win. That is truly sad, but rather than spend
his tefillah time in such an uncomfortable setting, he should try to
find another place for tefillah where, even if the minhagim are not
exactly those of his youth and the tradition of his family, the
atmosphere and people among who he davens are such that his tefillot
will bring him comfort rather than continued angst.

Joseph Kaplan


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 at 6:48 AM
Subject: Re: Question regarding saying the Viduy before tahanun on weekdays

In vol 56 #60, David Ziants states that saying viduy and 13 midot on
Monday and Thursday in Israel is "the normative Nusach Ashkenaz of the
Land of Israel (and was introduced by the students of the Gr"a)".

Whereas it is true that Nusach Ashkenaz was introduced in Israel by the
students of the Gr'a, it isn't necessarily true that they introduced
saying viduy and 13 midot on Monday and Thursday. It is almost
positively true that the Gr'a did not say them or think that they should
be said on those days. The siddur "Azor Eliyahu", which purports to be
Nusach HaGr'a, does not have them in the daily prayer at all.

The compilers of that siddur pointed out other places where Nusach
Ashkenaz in Israel was influenced by the Sephardim who were living here.
Another example is saying "Sim Shalom" in Minha on Shabbat.

On the other hand, the Sephardim were influenced by the Gr'a. They also
don't say "Baruch Hashem L'Olam" in Maariv.

Thus we see that Nusach is influenced by the surroundings and that it is
a two-way street.

Haim Shalom Snyder

From: Dov Bloom <dovb@...>
Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 at 6:54 PM
Subject: Re: Question regarding saying the Viduy before tahanun on weekdays

The viduy before tachanun was only popularized post-ARIz"l, who was said
to have added 13 midot and viduy daily, and never made it into Nusach
Ashkenaz.  This is evidenced by older Ashkenaz manuscripts which
uniformly dont have viduy or 13 midot before tachanun.

The nusach sfard of the chassidim adopted it (did we say ARIz"l?). Why
in Israel many Ashk shuls say it on M-Th is beyond me. Apparently the
early talmidei haGRA compromised with the local custom, and the GRA was
influenced by the ARI on other issues also.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 19, 2009 at 9:09 AM
Subject: Schul Minhagim

On Mon, 18 May 2009, Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote:

> Re: Adath Jeshuron (or Adat Yeshuron) in Manchester, if, as I seem to
> be able to figure out, the situation revolves around 30 members of so,
> with between 8-15 leaving/being felt they are forced to leave, allow
> me to leave you to your travails. For that amount of people, I don't
> think its worth all the aggravation.

Perhaps we could extrapolate Yisrael's attitude to the situation of the
Jews in Germany in 1933. They were a relatively small minority (less
than 5%), certainly proportionately far smaller than that involved in
the current dispute (about 50%). So removing them from society in order
to enhance its future development might, according to his reasoning,
have been justified.

> I think I understand that the new Rav seems to be working to increase
> the number of members by altering the minhagim in conjunction with a
> new majority that he hopes will develop.  Maybe that will save the
> schul.

The rabbi may have thought that a policy of a "night of the long knives"
to get rid of the "dead wood" might have allowed the shul to expand. In
fact this has not happened and the only new faces were a kollel he
introduced who were expected to turn up for davenning on Shabbat and Yom
Tov as part of their contract of appointment. On weekdays, when they
were not so obliged, they do not come. The result has been a drop in
weekday shacharit attendance from 25-30 to 12-15!

There are plenty of yeshivishe shuls in Manchester and, obviously,
people prefer to support the genuine item rather than ersatz substitute.

He obtained his majority by a process that can best be described by the
almost untranslatable German word "Gleichschaltung", literally
"harmonisation", but, in reality, a process whereby opposition is
suppressed by either physically removing or intimidating it.

Perhaps Yisrael should remember the words of the Lutheran pastor
Niemoeller "When they came for the Communists, I did not protest because
I was not a Communist. When they came for the Jews I did not protest
because I was not a Jew. When they came for the Trades Unionists I did
not protest because I was not a Trades Unionist... So when they came for
me, there was nobody left to protest"!

Martin Stern


End of Volume 56 Issue 62