Volume 57 Number 25 
      Produced: Sun, 13 Sep 2009 02:24:58 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Candle Lighting 
    [Sapper, Arthur G.]
Diversity of minhag 
    [Daniel Wells]
Nusach Achid 
    [Joel Rich]
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Viddui (Confession) 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Western Ashkenazi siddurim (was "Nusach Achid") 
    [Ben Katz]


From: Sapper, Arthur G. <asapper@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 13,2009 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Candle Lighting

>And I wonder why is it referred to as licht BENCHING rather than licht

        There may be an additional, psychological reason why Jews commonly
render "licht bentching" into English as "candle lighting" instead of "candle
blessing," its literal translation.  Many English religious terms, such as
"blessing," have Christian connotations and emotional resonances.  I suggest
that Jews often avoid them in favor of either more neutral terms ("candle
lighting" instead of "candle blessing") or leave the term untranslated and use
the original Yiddish or Hebrew, which preserves a warmer and more familiar
ambiance.  This explains, I suggest, why Jews hardly ever use expressions like
"grace after meals" (which is distinctly Latinate) or "pray" (we use "daven"
        By the way, this idea is not original with me.  For example, the Jewish
writer Cynthia Ozick wrote,  "English is a Christian language.  When I write
English, I live in Christendom."  Rabbi Dr. Reuven Hammer and others have
written similarly.

Art Sapper


From: Daniel Wells <biuashur@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 30,2009 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Diversity of minhag

Martin wrote

> This was precisely the point I was making but just as I would not wish to
> impose my ('Ashkenaz proper') minhagim on those from Poland-Lithuania so I
> object to attempts to impose theirs on us, which is at the root of the
> trouble at the Adass Yeshurun Synagogue of Manchester.

Not only as I pointed out in my previous post that there is no one standard
what constitutes Minhag Ashkenaz but even in what Martin defines as Ashkenaz
Proper (which is not necessarily today's national state of Germany and
certainly not UK's Manchester) there were divergent minhagim between
Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin.

And I wouldn't be surprised if  Adass Yeshurun Synagogue of Manchester even
before the current change had influences NOT attributable 'Ashkenaz Proper'.

> Since our minhagim have been handed down from previous generations and
> follow such venerable authorities as the Maharil, their claim that, for
> example, the Mishnah Berurah rules otherwise is irrelevant. What they fail
> to understand is that the latter was a machria [someone who weighs up
> conflicting opinions and comes to a conclusion] who ruled for those who did
> not already follow a definite valid halchic ruling. This might apply to
> ba'alei teshuvah who do not know their ancestral tradition but cannot be
> enforced on those who are aware of it.

Even in Frankfurt there was a flux in minhag between that of Yosef Ometz et
al. over not such a big period of time. Today what is considered Ashkenaz
proper minhag is also split between Breuer's and Hamburger's conception.

While I personally like Yekkishe minhagim, I would put it to Martin that the
primary function of a synagogue is not the practice of a particular minhag,
but rather that its congregants at the end of the day have davened the WHOLE
tefilah with full kavanah to the Almigh-ty in an acceptable halachic manner.

It was the opinion of the GRA [Vilna Gaon --MOD] that many of the piyutim
[liturgical poems --MOD] and other additions since the time of the Anshei
HaKenesses HaGdolah, cause irreverance amongst congregants who are unable to
comprehend their relevance.

As such I see the appointed Rav of a Kehillah as the Morah D'Atra, like a
pilot of an airplane that due to the prevailing conditions can change course
within acceptable (halachic) boundaries.

Almost all second generation schuls in many cities ariound the world
are/were startups by a disaffected minority from the original place of

Martin should gather his like-minded friends and create a new schul
according to his conception of Ashkenaz Proper. That way everyone in
Manchester will be zoche [meriting --MOD] to glorifying HaShem, BeRabim [in
public --MOD].


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 6,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Nusach Achid

Eitan Fiorino wrote:
> I think the the entire conversation about which nusach is "correct" and which
> is THE one single nusach that should be used by all Jews, or at least all Jews
> in eretz yisrael, can only occur in the absence of knowledge of the history of
> tefila.

WADR please consider your tone. It is fairly clear from the mishna that 
historically different people in the same community  maintained common halachic
practices. You are certainly free to choose your own approach, but please accept
that some see galut [exile --MOD] and its practices as an unfortunate result of
our not heeding the dvar hashem [word of G-d --MOD] and yearn for the day when
we will return to our original unified state/status (see sanhedrin 88b re:
talmidim of hillel and shammai)

Joel Rich


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 6,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: nusachim

Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...> stated in mail-jewish Vol.57 #17 Digest:
>The plural of nuscha (formula) is nuschaot
>The plural of nusach (prayer rite) is nusachim

There is good reason to write the word nosah (nun with a holam 
haser), in which case the plural is nesahim (nun with a sheva).  If 
we nevertheless choose to adopt the tradition that the word is nusah 
(nun with a melafoom * ma'le), then the plural is nusahim (Even 
Shoshan, 1973) or nus'ha'ot (Milon Hahoveh, Bahat and Mishor, 1995).

* Please note that I have not taken a stand on which is the qubutz 
and which is the shuruq.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 13,2009 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Viddui (Confession)

In vol 57 number 20 I mentioned that I recite the entire viddui at the
end of the High Holy Day prayers only when I am officiating as a cantor.
However when I am privately praying I only mention those sins, if any,
that are applicable (So for example I don't 'confess' about murder,
adultery etc. but only on any sin, if applicable, that I did.)
Furthermore I spend time elaborating on what is done and how the
repentance should take place.

In vol 57, #21 several discussants - Akiva, Martin, and Ken - gave
various disagreements to my position and also asked questions. The
purpose of this posting is to answer these questions and try and show how
what I am doing is a reasonable approach in terms of known poskim
(deciders of Jewish law). I shall try and show the issues between our two

First let me answer some questions WITH REASONS. When I recite the viddui
(confession) in private I do so in the singular not in the plural. Why,
or more precisely what is my authority for doing this? Well, there is a
famous passage (Isiah 6) where Isiah says "Woe to me that I saw God for I
am a person of unclean lips and live in a nation of people with unclean
lips." An Angel then came and placed a coal on his lips (to atone for his
sin). The Rabbis of the Talmud explain "Isiah had a right to say he had
LIPS" In other words (and this is a LEGAL POINT) "It is a violation of
the Jewish laws of slander to say that the NATION has done some sin."
(This law is brought down in the laws of slander). Because of this I
never do private confession in the plural (since I consider it prohibited
based on the above). However as a cantor I am representing the entire
community and therefore can list sins done by some members.

But Ken, Akiva and Martin tried to defend our current plural version of
the confession. So let me add some more background and then answer them.
The background is as follows. 1) There is a Biblical commandment to
confess when one has performed a sin. 2) The Talmud and Rambam explain
that this requirement of confession is not a GENERAL CONFESSION but a
DETAILED confession. For example a person who says "I committed a sin of
idolaty" has not fulfilled his obligation - rather he must be specific "I
made a golden god and bowed to it etc...."  3) Furthermore the confession
requirement is not a requirement in words but rather a requirement in
VERBALIZED THOUGHT. The confessant must sincerely a) detail his sin b)
examine why they did it c) resolve not to do it again in the future, d)
express embarassment and e) express/experience remorse.  In other words
the TRUE law of confession according to Jewish deciders of law is a
requirement in detailed personal analysis of specific behavior patterns
with a resolve, goal and attitude of embarassment/remorse on the past and
non repetition in the future. It is very clear that the Biblical
commandment of confession cannot be done by reading some template of
words. There has to be introspection and personal detail.

Before proceeding further let me list the first point of contention
between me and Ken-Akiva-Martin. I argue that the confession listed at
the back of the prayers is a template to facilitate performance of the
Biblical commandment of repentance. Ken-Akiva-Martin have already said
that they consider this confession at the end of prayers as separate and
having nothing to do with the Biblical commandment of confession. (If so
they must explain the SOURCE - who and why was it placed at the end of
the prayers)

Next let me answer the specific suggestions of Ken-Akiva-Martin.

1) Are you sure you have not done certain things? Did you really never
look at a married woman? Did you really never steal? If you are  not sure
say confession for those things.
1-RESPONSE) Akiva already conceded "We can be sure we didnt have full
relations with a forbidden woman" I would add that I am certain that I
did not steal. I would also argue that you confess on what you are sure
(There are specific sacrifices to atone for sins on which you are not
sure or aware). There is an issue of responsibility. You confess on what
you did---you dont confess blindly. As to the point about looking at
married woman - let us suppose someone did this. Then my response /advice
would be that they shouldnt confess on FORBIDDEN SEXUAL RELATIONS since
that is too broad...rather they should confess (if they did this)  on
violaing certain Rabbinical fences set around the forbidden relations.
Furthermore there must be detail. For example a person may have sinned
(by looking at) with women who wear fancy clothes, or fancy hairdos, or
resemble their wives etc. Again the requirement is specificity with an
understanding of WHY the sin happened - this enables repentance and
prevention in the future.

2) You should confess for the sins of a previous incarnation (possession
of a previous persons soul)
2-RESPONSE) While the Ben Ish Chai is a respected scholar I think many
would agree that incarnation is not accepted by all Jewish deciders of
law. Furthermore the idea that I have to confess on something done in a
previous life again avoids RESPONSIBILITY. I am saying I am responsible
for something I know nothing about. As indicated above, there are
specific sacrifices to atone for unknown sins

3) All Jews are responsible for each other---hence if one Jew committed
MURDER we ALL should confess on murder. 
3-RESPONSE) I agree that all Jews are responsible. However Jewish law is
unequivocally clear that even if I paid someone to kill I am not the
murderer. The person who kills is RESPONSIBLE. He is tried not me.
However to be fair to this argument I have (if I paid someone to kill)
violated "Dont cause others to sin" and I should confess on this (But I
shouldnt confess on murder). The theme I want to emphasize is
RESPONSIBILITY. I should confess on things that I did (not on things I
did not do) If I caused someone else to sin (or eg if as a parent I could
prevent my child from sinning) then I should confess about bad parenthood
not about the sins my child did).

4) I get the impression that there is an attitude - "well say the
confession listing all the sins...maybe you partially did some of them
and it cant hurt"
4-RESPONSE) But it can hurt! I once heard (From Rabbi Soloveitchick) the
following question: "Suppose you say Yaaleh Veyavoh (a prayer said on the
new month) on an ordinary weekday. Do you have to repeat the prayers
(since  you inserted a wrong prayer) or, perhaps, you simply added some
praise to God and we can let the whole thing go?"  The Rav explained that
"We must repeat the prayer. Why? Because there is a prohibition of
placing falsehood and flattery before God - so it is prohibited and
intrinsically invalid to say an extra prayer if it does not apply). I
would therefore conclude that I should not say any part of the confession
unless I am certain I said it.

SUMMARY: What is the main difference between me and Ken-Akiva-Martin. I
think the main difference is that 1) I consider the insertion by the
sages of the confession at the end of the standing prayer as a template
and reminder that we should personally do repentance while
Ken-Akiva-Martin think that this confession is something stand alone and
additional (But what?) 2) I believe confession is about RESPONSIBILITY -
I shouldnt confess for something unless I am sure I did it 3) I have a
very serious problem with attributing a sin to the Jewish people - I
consider it  a violation of slander.

Finally one person noted "You are likely a Rasha is you go against the
recognized posekim" First of all name calling is not the mail-jewish way.
But more importantly I think there are alternatve posekim which can
reasonably lead to the position I advocated above.

Finally as a merit for our confession of sins and resulting purity may we
all be inscribed for a healthy, happy, joyous year with many good

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 27,2009 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Western Ashkenazi siddurim (was "Nusach Achid")

Eitan Fiorino wrote:
> In any case, the move to Biblical
> forms was supported by orthoprax grammarians like Shlomo Zalman Hanau and Isaac
> Satnow (by "orthoprax" I mean to say I am uncertain that their approaches would
> survive any contemporary "Orthodox" smell tests, as silly as those smell tests
> might be).  By the time Wolf Heidenheim published his version of the siddur, the
> switch was complete and total, and for whatever reasons, his siddur seemed to
> mark the end of any consideration of the matter.

I believe Heidenheim's major "innovation" was to vocalize the end of a sentence
as in a sof pasuk (end of a verse) in the Torah: e.g, boray peri hagafen (end of
the blessing over wine) instead of boray peri hagefen, and that the major drive
of the maskilim [followers of the Enlightenment --MOD] was not against Rabbinic
Hebrew per se but against Hebrew as it was mispronounced by Yiddish speakers
(the culmination of which, in my mind, was to spell shabat with a samach as its
final letter).


End of Volume 57 Issue 25