Volume 65 Number 70 
      Produced: Mon, 15 Aug 22 13:39:37 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Psalm 145:7 zaycher or zecher 
    [Chaim Casper]
Shabbat Candles and the Blessing (4)
    [Martin Stern  Sammy Finkelman  Menashe Elyashiv  Immanuel Burton]
Why do people think it's okay to take any empty seat in shul?  
    [Martin Stern]


From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 13,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Psalm 145:7 zaycher or zecher

Joe Kaplan and Haim Snyder (MJ 65#68) raised the issue of whether the correct
vocalization of ZKhR in Psalm 145 is Zekher or Zaykher. For those unfamiliar
with the word, it is the sentence that starts with zayin in Ashrei (which is
said twice at shaharit and once at minhah during the year as well as starting
the selihot prayers which will be shortly upon us). It also appears at the end
of Parshat Ki Tezei which is what we read on Parshat Zakhor.

For what it's worth: Rav Hershel Schachter, shlit"a, writes in one of his books
about the Rav, Rabbi Joseph Dov Halevi Soloveitchik, ztz"l, that the Rav used to
say ZKhR twice in Ashrei, once as Zekher and a second time as Zaykher. The same
ruling about the Rav can be found in the listing of minhagei haRav [practices of
the Rav] that appear in the Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur mahzorim of the Rav.

As to Parshat Zakhor, I believe the Mishneh Brurah by Rav Yisroel Meil HaCohen
Kagan, tz"l, rules that the sentence that contains the word ZKhR must be said
twice, once with each pronunciation of the word.

My apologies for not being able to give the exact source in either case as I am
currently in Israel and my library is back in Miami. To coin a phrase with
apologies to Yehuda Halevi, zt"l, libi b'mizrah v'sifriyah sheli b'sof ma'arav
(my heart [and I] are in the east [Israel] and my library is at the end of the
west [Miami]).

B'virkat Torah,

Chaim Casper
Neve Mikhael, Israel
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 12,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Shabbat Candles and the Blessing

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 65#69):

> Immanuel Burton asks (MJ 65#68):
>> When a woman lights Shabbat candles, she first lights the candles and then
>> says the blessing, even though a blessing on a mitzvah is USUALLY said before
>> the mitzvah is performed.  (Emphasis added)
> I have emphasised USUALLY because there is at least one other exception to the
> usual rule.  We first wash our hands, and then say the Bracha.  Most people I
> see recite the bracha while drying the hands with a towel.  This has nothing
> to do with Shabbat, because we wash our hands on weekdays as well.

I think the correct procedure is to wash one's hands, then say the berachah and,
finally, dry them. The thinking is that the drying is an integral part of the
netilah [washing] and so one saying it at that stage is effectively before the

Incidentally, another similar case is that of tevilah [immersion in a mikveh]
where a woman immerses once, then says the berachah and then immerses a second
time. There is no real reason why she should not say the berachah first but
Chazal instituted this procedure for geirim [converts] who prior to tevilah are
not Jews and cannot make an effective berachah and then extended it to women in
general mishum lo plug [so that there should not be any differences].

Martin Stern

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 12,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Shabbat Candles and the Blessing

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 65#69):

> if someone has a good answer for Immanuel Burton, it should take into account
> the handwashing exception as well.

No, handwashing is not the same thing, because in that case the brochah is with
the form "al" which means it is said around the time of doing something, and
could be after, but here with Shabbat candles the rochah is in the form  "L'"
(to) which is, it seems, is only said before the action it pertains to.

Lighting first may be a change from the original method of doing this (on
Chanukah, we don't, after all, usually light anything first before the brochah,
except maybe the Shammos, which doesn't count (but maybe every person has his
own individual minhag) but this practice with lighting Shabbat candles may be
the result of an unnecessary worry. (And doesn't covering her eyes fit in here

I did hear of an example of early acceptance - someone can end Shabbos by saying
V'hu Rachum at start of Maariv - it had something to do with a Tisha B'Av fast
that starts Saturday night.

From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 14,2022 at 03:17 AM
Subject: Shabbat Candles and the Blessing

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 65#68):

> When a woman lights Shabbat candles, she first lights the candles and then says
> the blessing, even though a blessing on a mitzvah is USUALLY said before the
> mitzvah is performed.  (Emphasis added)

This is an example of differing opinions. R. Y. Karo in the Shulhan Aruch holds
that just like any other case, the bracha is said before the lighting.  Although
some Sephardic places changed to the Ashkenazi practice, R.O. Yosef reversed
that practice and many say the bracha before lightning.

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 14,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Shabbat Candles and the Blessing

In response to Irwin Weiss (MJ 65#69):

I thought of another blessing that is made after the event, namely that of, "...
and has commanded us to bring (our son) into the covenant of Abraham, our
father" (translation by Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, z"l). The father of a
newborn son says this immediately after the circumcision.

To try and find out why a lady says the blessing after lighting the lights, I
looked in Shemirath Shabbath Kehilchathah. The English edition (volume 3,
chapter 43, paragraph 30, sub-paragraph B2) says that there is a view that
Shabbath is received not so much by the actual lighting as by the recitation of
the blessing. It looks as if this single view has become the dominant opinion.
Sub-paragraph B4 goes on to say that in order to satisfy this requirement and
the usual practice of reciting the blessing before performing the act, it is
customary for women to abstain from enjoying the benefit of the light by
covering or closing their eyes until after they have said the blessing, and only
then uncover or open their eyes to enjoy the light. This seems like a 
compromise, but then since one of the reasons for lighting Shabbat candles 
is for shalom bayit [domestic harmony], then maybe there's a lesson here that a
good way to achieving domestic harmony is to agree to compromise when there are

With regards to Irwin's example of the blessing on washing hands, I don't think
the blessing is actually recited after the action. The literal translation of
"netilat yadaim" is "the lifting up of the hands" - the same verb is used in the
blessing for the Lulav, but no-one would suggest that this means that one has to
wash one's lulav! The actual procedure for washing hands is basically along
these lines:

(1) Wash the hands - the right hand twice, and then the left hand twice.

(2) Raise the hands up so that water cannot run back down onto one's hands.

(3) Say the blessing.

(4) Dry the hands.

The hands are not considered ritually pure for the purposes of eating bread
until they have been dried, and indeed one's hands must be fully dry before
eating, so the blessing is said mid-process but before the process is completed.
With regards to saying this blessing on washing one's hands upon rising in the
morning, it seems as if it's deferred to the section of blessings at the very
beginning of the morning service, and so the above explanation doesn't work.
Does anyone know why the blessing in this case is deferred?

Going back to the blessing recited by the father after the circumcision has
taken place, it looks as this blessing is also said mid-process. A ritual
circumcision consists of two main parts: milah, the removal of the foreskin, and
periyah, the folding back of the secondary membrane. Both of these have to be
carried out for the circumcision to be valid, and the father says this blessing
after the milah has taken place but before the periyah. The book Rite And Reason
by Shmuel Pinchas Gelbard gives 3 explanations for this:

(1) Since someone other than the father usually performs the circumcision i.e.
the mohel,, it is proper to wait until afterwards in order to recite this
blessing in case the mohel changes his mind and doesn't circumcise the child.
[Tur, Yoreah Deah, 265.]

(2) The blessing is being recited mid-process, as explained above.

(3) The blessing is actually also one of praise and thanksgiving that God has
given one the privilege to bring a child into the covenant of Abraham. Blessings
in this category are usually said after one has experienced the event that
prompts the blessing. [Ran on Shabbat 137b.]

I'm not sure where all this leaves the blessing for lighting Shabbat candles,

Immanuel Burton.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 15,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Why do people think it's okay to take any empty seat in shul? 

A letter appeared on VINnews which I thought might merit some discussion:


> There is an issue that arises every week in many shuls that I believe should
> be addressed.
> When I visit a shul as a guest, Im faced with a dilemma. I dont want to take
> someone elses seat, so I usually end up standing in the back or finding a
> corner. In addition to being somewhat uncomfortable, it is an even bigger
> problem when my children are with me.
> Sometimes a shul member will approach me and tell me which seat is open.
> However this is not always the case, and even if they try to help, they dont
> always know which congregants are away that Shabbos, or if theyre just late
> for shul.
> In my experience, some people feel like they can walk into shul as a guest and
> take any vacant seat they find. This seems bizarre. How would they feel if
> they come into shul 15-20 minutes late (or later) and discover a stranger in
> their seat?
> You may be thinking: Why cant they politely tell the person to get out of
> their seat?
> I dont know about you, but I could never bring myself to kick someone out of
> my seat. I know it may technically be within my rights, but I just cant do
> it.
> I realize this is not as serious as the shidduch or tuition crisis, but I
> believe this is an issue and may have a simple fix. Im thinking that every
> shul should have someone officially in charge of seating who will monitor
> which seats are available, and guests can approach him and be guided to an
> available seat.
> This would prevent a lot of awkward situations, and be a solution for both
> shul members and guests to never need to stand in the back.

Personally, I always ask when visiting a shul (even on a weekday) whether there
are any vacant seats and usually the person I approach either directs me to one
or to someone else who can do so. Often their reaction is that I can sit
anywhere as they do not have fixed seats but I insist that should the person who
normally sits where I am placed come he should ask me to move. Similarly, if
someone comes while I am in a seat and sits near me, I ask if I am occupying his
seat and offer to move.

What do others on Mail Jewish think is the correct protocol?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 65 Issue 70