Avodah Mailing List

Volume 37: Number 1

Thu, 03 Jan 2019

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Alexander Seinfeld
Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2018 12:44:16 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Whether You Come to Talk to God, etc.

> IMO one of the reasons why people talk in shul is because davening on
> Shabbos morning often takes a long time. If there are speeches, Me
> Shebeirachs, announcements, etc, then people get restless.

> Of couse there are other reasons why people talk as the article points
> out.

That's not why they talk. They talk because they saw their parents or
other adults talk. They learned that talking is perfectly acceptable. The
fact that the Shul has not followed the Mishna Berura and appointed
people to end the talking merely reinforces the talkers' understanding
that talking is OK.

It's like asking why people cheat on their taxes. They don't cheat
because they're greedy. We're all greedy. But the tax-cheaters don't
have a red line.

I admit sometimes the davvening is too long for me, and I get restless.
But I never talk.

And bli neder I won't davven in a shul where there are talkers, even if
it's the only shul in town. Ruins it for me.

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Message: 2
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2018 21:45:48 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Whether You Come to Talk to God, to Your Friends

R' Yitzchok Levine posted:

> Please see the article at https://goo.gl/fsMEir
> IMO one of the reasons why people talk in shul is because
> davening on Shabbos morning often takes a long time. If there
> are speeches, Me Shebeirachs, announcements, etc, then people
> get restless.

If there were people who can keep quiet during the weekday minyanim,
and only talk on Shabbos, then I would consider it to be a reasonable
explanation. But in my experience, the same people talk regardless. If
someone talks during a weekday maariv, then shaving twenty minutes off
of the Shabbos morning won't prevent his restlessness.

The authors of the linked article suggested:

> Not talking until the conclusion of Chazaras HaShatz, including
> the time between when we finish our silent Amidah and we are
> waiting for the chazzan, is doable, it is realistic, it is a
> fair expectation of those attending and it is the minimum to be
> respectful of our friends and neighbors.

Sadly, IMO that's not doable, and not realistic. I'd like to think
that I'd be satisfied if they'd be quiet merely from when we finish
our silent Amidah until the chazan begins. THAT is a minimum for being
respectful of our friends and neighbors.

They don't even have to be silent for a noticeable improvement.
Halevai they would hold it down to a whisper. (And it doesn't count as
a whisper if they can be heard 20 feet away.)

Akiva Miller

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Message: 3
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2018 06:22:36 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Whether You Come to Talk to God, to Your Friends

I should have concluded my previous post with this:

Despite my pessimistic tone, I praise those who are working towards a
solution. I have seen many corrective attempts fail, but that doesn't
mean there's no way to fix it. Talking in shul is a serious problem,
and I apologize if my frustration made it sound otherwise.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2019 14:20:36 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Whether You Come to Talk to God, to Your Friends

On Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 04:49:10PM +0000, Professor L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
: Please see the article at https://goo.gl/fsMEir

: IMO one of the reasons why people talk in shul is because davening
: on Shabbos morning often takes a long time. If there are speeches,
: Me Shebeirachs, announcements, etc, then people get restless.

While I agree it's a factor, I think it's a minor one. Yes, people do
chat more once they gets started during Mi sheBeirakh. (Many shuls have
instituted short-cuts to announcing the names in the Mi sheBeirakh leCholim
to minimize this effect). But it's not like the problem is any less in
Hashkamah Minyanim or my own 9-11am Shabbos morning minyan. Or, as RAM
noted, even at a weekday Maariv.

Also, R Efrem Goldberg refers to repeatedly talking in shul as an "epidemic".
I don't know. My experience has been that talking has been in a constant
decline since my childhood. Yes, it's still ubiquitous in some places, but
more and more shuls do manage to maintain decorum.

REG writes:
:> Talking during these parts of davening is not only disrespectful to God,
:> it is also unkind, insensitive, and cruel to those trying to offer
:> heartfelt and focused prayers. It is a gross violation of bein adom
:> l'chaveiro. If you wouldn't talk during a show, the opera or a movie,
:> no matter how bored or distracted you might be, how could you entertain
:> talking when people around you are in the middle of a conversation with
:> Hashem, even if you are done? It is hard enough to connect with our
:> prayers, to concentrate on the words and to feel we have experienced an
:> intimate rendezvous with our Creator in the best of circumstances. To
:> do it while people in our vicinity are chatting away is nearly impossible.

So the answer I would give falls out from this paragraph... It's that
we might know intellectually that we are conversing or holding a meeting
with the Creator, but for many of us, that's not an experienced reality.

Talking in shul is only a symptom. As is the experience many shuls have
where people tend to show on time for Barekhu or Shochein Ad, and are
folding their tallis during Adon Olam.

I have repeatedly said that if I ran a shul, I would teach what davening
is about. It would reduce the boredum. And for those for whom that's not
enough, it would make the idea of "lifnei Mi atah omeid" more of a
reality. Where people wouldn't have the chutzpah to talk.

(After all, bored people could be silently learning too. There is no shortage
of well written parashah sheets, illustrating every point with an engaging
story, if need be.)

Yelling "Don't! Don't! Don't!" when people have no motive not to will do
little but annoy. Shuls that don't have the problem licked have given us
decades of evidence of this. We need to motivate people to be talking to
G-d, and the problem of talking to friends will evaporate on its own.

Here's a litmus test... I have often, in my usual style of eschewing
normalcy, have gone over to people who interrupted their davening for
something (eg a woman who was davening while waiting for the train, as
she sits down in the train and reopens her siddur), or the fellow whose
mind wantered in shul) ... I would go over to them and say, "Tell Him
I say 'hi!'" Of course, they can't hear the capital "h". Sad to say,
while it's a significant minority, only a minority of people get Who
I am talking about. There is a dirth of people who remember they are
talking to G-d. "If you don't know who I mean, you're not davening right."

Start with teaching the hashkafos of tefillah, from R' Chaim Volozhiner, the
Besh"t, Moharan and RSRH.

Teach various techniques to turn muttering syllables into avodah shebeleiv,
whether hibonenus or hispa'alus or ...

And teach peirush hamilim, Ri Yaqar, Avudraham, R Breuer, R Meir Birnbaum,

Again, if I ran a shul, here's how I would adapt minyan for today's
short attention spans:

1- Between Yishtabach and Barekhu, a 5 minute shiur on either how to
approach tefillah in general, or about something the minyzan is about
to say. (As above.) By the time you make it from Barekhu to UKhashanim
Qadmonios, you could do another cycle. No one will remember a derashah
from years ago.

As for questions about hefseiq -- it is for tefillah. CYLOR, but I would
bet it's fine.

2- If possible without attracting everyone frustrated that their shul
banned their Kiddush Club...

In the yeshivos in Litta (and in Camp Munk in my childhood), there
was a seder between leining and Mussaf. The Torah is returned before
Ashrei, IIRC.

If davening is too long for the current generation, do the same. Have
the rav's derashah be during Qiddush before Mussaf. Maybe even a shiur,
and just close with a vertl long enough to repreat at the Shabbos table.
Break up the service into two pieces.

Since I've started on how I would modify shul norms, other changes I would
institute that have nothing to do with the talking and late-in-rush-out

3- Chessed programming -- something that involves some subset of the
membership hands-on (not fundraising) in an at least weekly basis. Shuls
provide both Torah and Avodah, why not be a full Judaism Center and
provide opportunities for Gemilus Chassadim too? At least if the shul
sponsors something, there is a different atmosphere about what a shul
and Yahadus are.

4- Mussar Ve'adim -- one for each gender, although given the Ahavas
Yisrael Project <http://ayproject.com/site/index.php> 's presence in
Passaic, the men's va'ad would be more critical. The idea isn't just to
have a chaburah in a mussar sefer, but to have a group that actually works
together on their middos. (AishDas set up a few groups that meet weekly
going through the ve'adim and doing the exercises in Alei Shur vol II.)

5- Every Elul, offer a Teshuvah Workshop with a wider audience than
those willing to commit to full-year ve'adim. Host speakers giving
actual techniques for change. Rather than being all motivated and well
intended on Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, but not having a strategy to actually
get anywhere. (And that's in a good year! Then we wonder why our list
of things to fix is the same year after year...)

6- The membership agreement would include an ethics and dina demalkhusa
clauses. In the "Shomerei Shabbos" type shuls of 70 years ago, those
who were fighting upstream to retain their Shabbos observance created a
supporting atmosphere by creating synagogues in in which only shomerei
Shabbos could retain full membership in the shul. We need something
similar to shore up what's weak in today's observance.

This is largely unenforceable, as we're not going to have accountants
check people's books. But the point is to be clear on values and intended
culture. It combines with the chessed programming and the ve'adim at
adding Gemilus Chassadim to an institution whose format has already grown
to include Torah and Avodah. I realize both of those programs would
in the real world be limited in population. But they make a statement
to the majority of the membership. There is secondary involvement --
helping out once, donating money, just reading about it in the shul
email -- that make an impact on everyone. As would knowing there are
ethical standards in the by-laws / membership agreement.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             For those with faith there are no questions.
mi...@aishdas.org        For those who lack faith there are no answers.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Rav Yaakov of Radzimin
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 5
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2019 15:11:26 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Whether You Come to Talk to God, to Your Friends

At 02:20 PM 1/2/2019, Micha Berger wrote:
>  But it's not like the problem is any less in
>Hashkamah Minyanim or my own 9-11am Shabbos morning minyan.

When I can, I daven in the Lakewood K'Vosikin minyan during the week. 
There is literally  no talking during this minyan.

The attendees are people who take davening very seriously.  Also the 
davening is paced. Brachos start exactly 30 minutes before 
sunrise,  Baruch Sheamar is exactly 10 minutes later.  Borachu is 
exactly 10 minutes later than this, and Shemoneh Esrei is exactly at 
netz.  One is given 7 or 8 minutes to say Shemoneh Esrei. On a 
weekday without leining davening takes about 50 minutes,  With 
leining about an hour.

There is little talking during the Hashkama minyan that I run on 
Shabbos morning in the YI of Ave J.  If people talk,  I often suggest 
that they go to the Main  Minyan which starts at 9.  I know for a 
fact that people talk during this minyan.

>I have repeatedly said that if I ran a shul, I would teach what davening
>is about. It would reduce the boredum. And for those for whom that's not
>enough, it would make the idea of "lifnei Mi atah omeid" more of a
>reality. Where people wouldn't have the chutzpah to talk.
>Start with teaching the hashkafos of tefillah, from R' Chaim Volozhiner, the
>Besh"t, Moharan and RSRH.

The sefer Rav Schwab on Prayer is what I would recommend.  It gives 
marvelous insights into the weekday davening.


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Message: 6
From: Ben Waxman
Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2019 19:38:31 +0200
[Avodah] Mitzva surveys

Rambam writes, based on a Gemara, that Yochanon Cohen HaGadol did a 
survey of how people were keeping hilchot trumah and ma-aser.

Were there any other examples in the Gemara of chachamim actually going 
out, checking how people keep mitzvot, and actually changing halacha 
based on that survey? Did this ever happen in the post-Talmudic period?


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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2019 18:24:52 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Bircas Kohanim when when the Shaliach Tzibbur is

On Tue, Dec 25, 2018 at 06:08:38AM -0500, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
: On Areivim, R' Sheldon Liberman asked:
:> I heard over Shabbos that in chutz l'aretz, during the chazzan's
:> repetition at shacharis, if the chazzan is a kohen, then during
:> bircas kohanim, there is an opinion that the tzibbur should
:> answer "Amein" rather than "Kein y'hi ratzon".

:> Has anyone heard this?

: The critical words here are "there is an opinion".

Discussing the case where the sha"tz is not a kohein:

The Avudraham (really: R' David abu-Dirham) is quoted by the BY (end of
OC 127) and Taamei haMinhagim (#117) that some people say "kein yehi
Ratzon" instad of "amein" because the berakhos are not being said --
the pesuqim /about/ the berakhos are.

The SA (OC 127:2), talking about when there are no kohanim, turns it
into a recommendation, not like the Avudraham recording a minhag among
many. And the chazan begins "Elokeinu vEilokei Avoseinu, borkheinu..."

The MB (s"q 10) paraphrased the same reasoning -- the chazan is requesting
that Hashem Bless us the way the kohanim did. Not making a berakhah himself.

The Derishah says it's wrong so say amein.

The Kaf haChaim (16-17) agrees with it being problematic to say amein,
but since shu"t Yachin uVoaz (25) records a minhag to say "amein",
says either is okay.

The Darkei Moshe (4) says "kein yehi rasons", and he quotes the Mahara
(?) who didn't answer at all.

RMSternbuch (shu"t Teshuvos veHanhagos 2;101, 3;43) also doesn't recommend
any answe. RMS cites R' Chaim Brisker that one is over an asei (and
possibly bal tosif -- see Rashi Kesovus 24b) by accepting the birkhas
kohanim by a a non-kohein.

So, when it comes to the question of what to do when the sha"tsz *is* a
kohein, I could see a chiluq depending on which sevara is dominant:

1- If the iqar is that the chazan isn't actually making a berakhah, then
a chazan who is a kohein who said "EvE Borkheinu" before the pesuqim is
also describing the berakhah, not making a berakhah. So, I could see
saying no amein for him either.

2- If R' Chaim Brisker's sevara is the reason for not saying amein, then
there is no assei against accepting the berakhah from the sha"tz who is
a kohein. And implied is that if saying amein after a non-kohein sha"tz
violates an asei of accepting birkhas kohanim, then it would seem that
by saying amein, the pesuqim are indeed the berkahos -- regardless of
the lines said before them.

3- And if one holds by the minhag the Avudraham assumed was dominant,
and the Derishah recommends, then one is saying "amein" even when the
sha"tz isn't a kohein. Lo kol shekein when he is!

PS: The MB (s"q 11) says you say "kein yehi Ratzon" once, after the last
berakhah. The AhS (127:4) records what is the norm (in my experience),
once after each berakhah.

PPS: My own minhag is "kein yehi Ratzon bizkhus Avraham avinu" after
the first berakhah, and invoking the zekhus of Yitzchaq and Yaaqov after
each of the other berakhos.

But as long-timers know, Berger family minhagim are from a pretty broad
chulent (and chamin!) of sources. Anyone else hear of this one?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             We look forward to the time
mi...@aishdas.org        when the power to love
http://www.aishdas.org   will replace the love of power.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                - William Ewart Gladstone

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2019 18:41:23 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Amoraic statements

On Thu, Dec 27, 2018 at 07:49:00PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
: Anyone know of any writings on how to think about Amoraic statements
: that are not sourced but very basic (i.e., why weren't they recorded
: earlier)? Two quick examples: 1.) Shmuel -- dina dmalchuta dina (the
: law of the land controls), 2.) Rav-Tisha achlu dagan vechad achal
: yerek-mitztarphin.(9 who ate grain and 1 who ate greens combine[for a
: zimmun of 10]}

And waiting until the rishonim to argue about what order the parshios
were in the tefillin does make sense to you?

I could think of two opposite reasons why this would happen:

1- They are only basic once the machloqes is resolved. (Like in the case
I raised, where Tosafos notes that in Bavel they found both of what we
would call "Rashi" and "Rabbeinu Tam" tefillin.) Which shifts the question
to why the machloqes suddenly needed resolution, if eilu va'eilu was good
enough until then.

2- They were so basic they didn't need saying until people started
questioning them. Then, a gadol hador needed to get up and tell the
doubters they're wrong.

As for DDD in particular, Shemu'el was a friend of Shevur Malka. So
"malkhusa" may have been a hot topic in his live.

And Rava's proof (BQ 113b) is of a puq chazi variety -- of course that's
the din, because the government cut down trees to make bridges, and no
one avoids using them because of stolen property!

So I think it's a "didn't need saying" until people questioned it.

Although on second thought I'll add: or maybe simply asked the
hypothetical question in Beis Medrash, not actually questioning

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You want to know how to paint a perfect
mi...@aishdas.org        painting?  It's easy.
http://www.aishdas.org   Make yourself perfect and then just paint
Fax: (270) 514-1507      naturally.              -Robert Pirsig


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