Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dividing Meals [Se'udah Hamfseket]

There are several interesting parallels in the Final Meal before the Fast of Tisha b’Av and Yom Kippur
  1. The most obvious parallel is that both fasts are for a full day - actually about 25 hours - as opposed to other fasts which are from early morning until night.
  2. Both Final Meals traditionally follow the Minchah Service.
  3. Both Final Meals have several custsoms and rituals that are unique to these meals.

What makes these meals so special?  Nearly every Holiday has a special ritual at mealtime. The most obvious is the Passover Seder. At New Year, we eat special symbolic foods to start the year off right. At Sukkoss we eat in the Sukkah and even Shavuous we have the custom of eating dairy.

The problem with eating on Yom Kippur and Tisha b’Av is obvious since that they are both Fast Days. And since they are both FULL DAY fasts, we cannot possibly engineer a meal that would symbolize the day. That is where the final meal comes in. The reason it is eaten after Minchah is to connect as closely as possible it to the upcoming fast day. This explains perhaps why we specifcally recite the confession at Minchah BEFORE the meal on Yom Kippur eve.   Since Yom Kippur is after all a Yom Tov, this final meal is somewhat festive. We have Challah, some have honey and we eat meat - although it is wise to eat bland and easily digested foods to prepare for the fast.

On the other hand, Tisha b’Av is a day of mourning. Mourners coming back from the burial normally DO have a special Mourner’s Meal. Since we cannot eat on Tisha b’Av, this mourners meal takes place BEFORE the Fast.

Therefore, these Final Meals before Both fast, function as substitutes for the meals that should have been consumed on the days themselves, but could not due to the fasts.
The Talmud teaches us that whoever eats on Yom Kippur Eve for the sake of the Yom Kippur Fast Day is considered to have fasted Both Days.

Preriously Published On NishmaBlog  - Thursday, September 6, 2007

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tisha B'Av and Purim - Liturgical Parallels

The following outline lists some of the parallels, primarily liturgical, between Purim and the 9th of Av.
1 Maariv - Nighttime 
     1.1 Only Megillos that are read at night.
          1.1.1 Eicho
          1.1.2 Esther
     1.2 Similar Structure with Kaddish Tiskabel and v'Ato Kodosh

2 Shacharis - Omissions
     2.1  Purim - A "miracle" Holiday , no Hallel (Megillo instead)
     2.2  9th of Av -  A Fast Day  without   
          2.2.1  Selichos (Kinnos instead)
          2.2.2  Tachanun & Ovinu Malkeinu

3 Shacharis - Chazoros Hashatz
     3.1 Only weekday repetitions of the Amido with Krovos/Krovatz

4 Preceding Shabbos 
     4.1 Purim preceded by Zachor
     4.2 9 Av preceded by Chazon

5 Tanach  Pattern - Special Torah and Haftoro readings are read the Shabbos 
before the event, with the corresponding Megilloh on the day of the event.
     5.1 Purim - The Amalek Connection
          5.1.1  Torah- Zachor 
          5.1.2  Navi - Haftoro of Zachor (Shaul's War with Amalek in Shmuel)
          5.1.3  Kesuvim Esther
     5.2 9 Av - The  Eicho Connection
          5.2.1  Torah - Eicho in Devorim
          5.2.2  Navi - Eicho in the Haftoro of Chazon (Yeshaya)
     5.2.3  Kesuvim - Eicho

6 Month-wide 
     6.1 Mishenichnos Adar Marbin b'Simcho
     6.2 Mishenichnos Av M'maatin b'Simcho

7 Miscellaneous
     7.1 Some Pesukim in Esther are read to Eicho melody (in particular Asher 
     7.2 Chiyuv S'eudo vs. Chiyuv Taanis
     7.3 Similar Minhogim not to work


Learning Erev Tisha B'Av

One of the "perfect misundertsandings - perhaps - is the prohibition of learning Torah Erev 9 Av!    Especially when Erev 9 Av is on Shabbos!

I mean if 9th of Av is Shabboss we can eat a "Shaloshudes" fit for Shlomoh haMelech up to sheqia! But we can't LEARN after Hatzos!?

The fast allows us to eat food BEFORE the fast and to digest it DURING the fast after it has commenced.  However, with Torah the digestion is itself learning and generating simcha - Hours after it was first consumed! Therefore we must learn ONLY Tisha B'Av ready topics during the hours leading up to the fast - lest we derive Joy from our intellectual ruminations

May we merit a Nechama!


Tziyyon beMishpat Tipadeh

There are several brachos in which the Minhag "Seems" to deviate from the
Talmudic formula

1 Boneh BERAHAMAV Yerushalayim

2 Mechahem Tziyyon Bevinyan  Yerushalayim

The "classic" siyyumim are

1 Boneh Yerushalayim
2 Boneh Yerushalayim respectfully :-)

Opponents of the "change" from the classic style cite the Passuq "Tziyyon beMishpat Tipadeh". - Which closed last week's Haftara of Hazzon - as a prooftext for eschewing these alterations.

What's Pidyon got to do with it?

However, a careful read makes this prooftext problematic; Viz. What's BINYAN have to do with PIDYON? How can we conflate the 2 verbs?

Rather this prooftext MUST be al pi drush and not al pi P'shat!  So what is the reason for the anti Rachamim Position?

Glad you asked! It has to do with a fundamentalistic view of the matbei'a of brachos.

However, in Ashkenaz, that kind of rigidity was never enforced. Rather minor thematic embelshmints of siyyumim or chasimos was permitted, or even embraced for ad hoc puposes.

Is there a precedent? Yes during the 10 days of Teshuva the Talmud itself flexibly alters the chasimos in order to conform with the season's theme. By extension of Talmudic Methodology, the brachah of Menachem Tziyyon is similarly enhanced.

May we merit the rebuilding of Yerushalayim
Mercifully and Speedily


A 9 Days Shower - The Navy to the Rescue?

Given Bathing for pleasure is restricted before Av 9, either all 9 days or at least shavua shehol bo... The dilemma - how to stay "clean" w/o stepping on this restriction?

The Navy Method to the Rescue

A friend of mine served on subs and destroyers. The Navy needed to preserve precious fresh water. He described the Navy shower as follows: 

Step 1
Pull a ring and water flows to soak one's body

Step 2

The sailor then lathers himself with soap w/o any water flowing

Step 3

The sailor pulls the ring again and rinses off all of the soap and dirt.
(I'm guessing that Steps 1-3 might be repeated in an extreme case)

Thus we have a shower technique that effectively cleans while minimizing "hana'ah"



Shabbos Hazzon - Lechah Dodi and Eli Tziyyon

How can we mourn publicly on Shabbos By chanting L'cha Dodi to the tune of Eli Tziyon?


  1. While the tune is mournful, that does not necessarily constitute "mourning"in a technical sense!
  2. Many congregations chant the passuk Eicha in the Torah Reading and most of theHaftara of Hazzon to the Megilas Eicha "trop".  So what's the big deal doing Lecha Dodi, too?
  3. Tunes for Lecha Dodi sometimes reflect the season. Therefore the melody isn't in order to mourn but to remind one of the time of year.
  4. Hazanim already reicte the  plea of Bneh Vais'cha kevatchila on Yom Tov to the Eli Tziyyon motif! 
  5. Most Obvious:  Shabbos does not start - according to most Pos'qim - untilMizmor Shir or Bor'chu.  Therefore, Lecha Dodi precedes Shabbos anyway


Three Weks - Various Customs Refraining from Meat

The Shulchan Aruch 551:11 mentions several customs regarding refraining from eating meat and drinking wine during the 3-week period.

The customs mentioned are:
  1. From the 17th of Tammuz
  2. From the 1st of Av
  3. The wek in which 9th of Av falls
While at first glance they seems based upon Chmura etc. there is really a good rationales for these customs.

The Mishnah in Ta'anit 4:x mentions that on the 17th of Tammuz the Korban Tamid ceased.  Furthermore it mentions that at the advent of Av - reduce our Simcha  Based upon the above 2 principles we can understand the foundation of 2 of the customs. In discussing this with my friend Mordechai Shaffier, he articulated the follow construct:

  1. Those who rerfain from meat/wine from the 17th of Tammuz do so out of "zecher lemikdash," i.e the custom commemorates the catastrophe of termination of the daily sacrifice- which is triggered on its very anniversary.
  2. Those who refrain from meat/wine from the 1st of Av do so because of the principle that since there is no Simcha WITHOUT meat/wine; therefore meat/wine produce Simcha. And since we are told to reduce simcha from the 1st of Av, therefore it flows from and follows that meat/wine must be abandoned on that date in order to reduce our Simcha.
The Fundamentalist Halachah is that wine and meat are prohibited ONLY on the eve of he 9th of Av. Yet these minhaggim have a solid root in the Mishnah itself, they flow from a very natural source - without being forced


SA O'Ch 551:11 - and Poreitz Geder

How did RY Karo, the M'chabeir of the SA, differ from other Posqim who challenge
the Hegemony of Current Practice?

In this day and age we have non-Orthodox movements on the Left challenging Orthodoxy by using "halachic principles". RNCL seems to also question normative practice from a leftward position

Plus the various Neo-Karaite camps of various flavours are also looking to  up-end Halachah as we know it to be replaced by a Talmudic or Maimonidean Fundamentalism. Their approach seems more rightward in saying tht Halachah may not progress from Talmudic times, AND once it has we MUST Regress and restore it back to its pristine foundations. Although some friends feel that this fundamentalism is a trojan horse masking Reformist tendencies

RY Karo might have seen the Halchic loophole of permitting meat during the nine days. But he also saw that exploiting it where the issur had been established was "poreitz geder"

Mei-inyana d'yoma see SA O"Ch 551:11 in the m'chabeir

"Kol me she"ochel bassar b'maqom shenohagim bo issur, POREITZ GEDER ..."

The revisionists, on the left are thus prone to being "poretz geder".

Indirectly, the Right does not get off scott-free here either because many flimsy Humrot and other Revisionistic tendencies have undermined trust in our traditions and enabled revisionism on the left. [Law of unintended consequences] They don't see the Causal nexus, because they're so frum. Yet to me, discarding tradition, is often a "meta-message" being sent out when valid Traditions are ignored by the Right. Once distrust has set in, the left can manipulate it, too

For a great mashal, see Avot der. Nathan [ADRN] re: Anigonos ish Socho and how his dictum backfired. Hachamim nowadays have to see how their attempts at buttressing Halachah might undermine it in the long run if they do so arbitrarily.

Another Mashal the Midrash on Adam and Havvah re: "v'lo tig'u bo"

Here's the nimshal:
First the right issues a humra that is "unfounded" then the Left seduces others by "shlugging up" the right with texts. Thus, Tradition goes by the wayside when we ignore it to further an agenda.


Welcome to the New Nishma Minhag

For the past several years I have been moderating Nishma Minhag as a Yahoo Group. I found that for the most part Yahoo Groups are not as flexible as Blogger. And so I am inaugurating this new edition of Nishma Minhag on Blogger AKA

I plan to port most or all of the posts from the old Yahloo Group. Plus I plan to port many of the NishmaBlog Post that are Minhag-Centric over here. ThereWILL be overlap and BE"H it will be handled by posting on one BLOG and post a link to the other. This may go on a case by case basis

This also provides the flexibility to post multiple times to ONE blog and to summarize them by posting the links on thead one thread on the other Blog.

Kol Tuv