‘What is the Reason?’ Category Archives

21
May

Father or God

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in What is the Reason?

I noticed that some siddurim have the text “Hashkiveinu, Hashem Elokeinu” – Lay us down to sleep, God, Our Lord” in the closing blessing of the evening Shema, while others change the text from “Hashem, Elokeinu” – “God, Our Lord” – to Avinu – Our father. A.T.

The Ari HaKodesh changed the text from “God, Our Lord”, to “Our Father” because he felt that it is inappropriate to lay down to sleep in the presence of God as Lord. It is only appropriate to lie down to sleep in the presence of God as our Father.

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21
May

Why do we use an Atara?

by admin in What is the Reason?

I was told that the reason we have an “Atara” – Crown – on our Tallit is derived from the Mishkan. Is that true? How is it derived? Why do some people wear a Tallit without a crown? D.B.

The panels of the Mishkan walls were marked so that each would always remain in the same place. The panels that bordered the Holy of Holies could never be placed in a different place because we have a principle that “We rise in holiness and never descend.” A pillar that walled the holiest place could not be moved to a place of lesser sanctity. The Shelah HaKodesh strongly felt that the same principle should apply to a Tallit. The part the covers the head must always cover the head, which is the “holiest” place of the person. The Atara, or Crown, is to mark the “top” of the Tallit so that the head will always be on top. The Ari HaKodesh disagreed and did not apply the principle to the Tallit. Therefore, Chabad Chassidim do not have the top of the Tallit marked, so as to follow the Ari.

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20
May

Asking a Tzaddik to Pray

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in What is the Reason?

What is the reason we ask Tzaddikim (Righteous People) to pray for us? R. K.

The Talmud (Bava Kamma 116a) teaches that one should go in search of a Torah Scholar for a blessing to be saved from suffering.

The Rema (Yoreh Dei’ah 335:10) when discussing the laws of visiting the sick and caring for one who is dying, recommends going to the “sage of the city” to request a blessing for the person who is ill. The Ateret Zekainim (Orach Chaim 110) says that this is based on the historical fact that the Children of Israel would consult with the Urim V’Tumim of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court) before going to war. Rashi (Berachot 3b) explains that they consulted the Sanhedrin in order for the rabbis to pray for them. The Meromai Sadeh points out that they asked for the prayers of the Sanhedrin even after being instructed by the High Priest to go into battle.

My favorite source is Nachmanides description and explanation of the counting of Israel by Moses and Aaron: Each person would step in front of these two giants and introduce themselves in order that Moses and Aaron could recognize each individual and bless them.

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20
May

What is the reason that people sway when praying? S.G.

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in What is the Reason?

What is the reason that people sway when praying? S.G.

It is based on Psalm 35:10: “All my bones shall say; “God, who is like You?”

However, Rabbi Menachem Azariah da Fano (1548-1620) in Responsum 113:1, rules that the verse applies only to praises of God and not to prayer. The prototype of prayer is provided by Hannah, of whom it is said, “only her lips moved,” (Samuel I 1:13). Only Hannah’s lips moved, not her body. External movements of the body prevent adequate concentration in prayer. Although the Chayot (Living Creatures) in Ezekiel’s vision moved about, yet it is said: “when they stood, they let down their wings.” (Ezekiel 1:25) We, too, when we stand in prayer, should make no movements at all. Some people sway slightly at the beginning and end of each blessing on the basis of the verse (Isaiah 6:4) “And the posts of the door were moved at the voice of them that called.”

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20
May

The Reason for Kaddish

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in What is the Reason?

What is the reason for the Kaddish? Is it for the person who died, or to benefit the Mourner? TS

The Kaddish deserves an entire essay. However, I offer some basic thoughts:

Kaddish is recited for the deceased. Kaddish is recited for the mourner’s sake. Kaddish is also recited for the benefit of everyone listening and responding. There are many levels to the Kaddish.

When Jacob responded to his children, “May His great name be blessed forever,” he sanctified the name of God, Kiddush Shem Shamayim, and the angels composed the third blessing of the Silent Prayer, the blessing of Sanctity. The Aramaic translation of Jacob’s words is the “Yehai shemai rabbah,” of Kaddish. (Early sources actually refer to the Kaddish as the “Yehei shemai rabbah.” The first mention of this prayer as Kaddish is in Masechet Sofrim 16:12) All who participate in the Kaddish can fulfill the Mitzvah/Concept #5, of the Sanctification of God’s name.

When the mourner recites the phrase, ” in the world He created according to His will,” he is acknowledging God’s justice, the process known as Tziduk HaDin. The mourner is fulfilling the commandment of Honoring Parents even after their death. (Bet Yosef, Yoreh Dei’ah 376, Zohar, Volume 3, 115b, Tractate Semachot, Chapter 6) The mourner is lamenting the loss of the opportunity to perform the Mitzvah for a live person.

The mourner is stating that with the absence of the deceased the Presence of God has been diminished; the deceased brought a unique aspect of God’s light to the world. The Kaddish is a prayer for the restoration of all the light the deceased added to the world. (S.Y. Agnon, The Days of Awe)

The act of Sanctification, the declaration of God’s Justice, and the prayer for God’s name to expand in creation all are credited to the deceased, and serves to soften any harsh judgments. (Sifrei; Deuteronomy 21:8, TBKetubot 103a, Tanchuma; Ha’azinu 1).

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20
May

Separating Challah: Why?

by admin in What is the Reason?

What is the reason behind the Mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah? (In Temple times, a part of the dough when baking was separated and given to the Kohanim, Temple Priests. Today, we burn the small selection of dough) What are the Kavanot, or, what shall I have in mind, when fulfilling this Mitzvah? S.

I hope, with God’s help’ to address the Mitzvah of Challah in the 613 Concepts #273. However, I would like to add a few more basic concepts about the Mitzvah of Challah: (The first two can be found on the General Forum)

1) We derive the measure of Challah, the dough we separate, based on the Manna that fell in the desert. (See Rashi Numbers 15: 19) Challah is our way of acknowledging the miracle of Manna and all it represented. The Manna fell every day to remind us each day that all our sustenance comes from God. When we separate Challah we are actively acknowledging God as the ultimate sustainer.

2) The Manna was both a physical and spiritual food. The Manna was a daily reminder of God as sustainer. The Torah could be given only to people who were living on this perfect food. The Manna was 100% nutritious; all was absorbed and none was wasted. It is the perfect combination of physical and spiritual. as is a human being. We are the perfect combination of the physical, our bodies, with the spiritual, our souls. The Midrash actually describes a human being as the Challah of creation. (Bereishit Rabbah 17:13, and Bamidbar Rabbah 17:2) Challah represents the level of creation that is called “Murkav”, or, a mixture. This Mitzvah is a celebration of the ability of the physical and spiritual to combine and create something special.

3) When Moses was teaching the generation that was about to enter Israel about the Manna, he said, “In order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live, rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of God does man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) The Ari HaKadosh explains that the sustenance we derive from bread does not derive from the bread but from the word of God that gives existence to the bread. We activate the word of God in all the sustenance of our homes when we fulfill this commandment. (See Shem MeShmuel, Shelach, 5677)

4) This Mitzvah was activated immediately upon Israel’s entry into Israel, even before they captured and settled the land, unlike every other commandment that was not activated until the people settled the land. This is because all of Israel accepted mutual responsibility immediately upon entering the land. Individuals became part of a greater whole, which is symbolized by the Challah, the dough which changes from water and flour into a new entity. (Ibid. Volume 5, Collected Sayings, Shelach) One should keep in mind our mutual responsibility when fulfilling this Mitzvah/Concept.

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20
May

Singing Prayers

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in What is the Reason?

Is it preferable to sing while praying? M.

The Ma’avor Yabok, (Siftei Chaim, chapter 31) wrote that there is a courtyard in the highest heavens that can only be opened with a song. The soul responds to song because it is accustomed to the songs of the Ministering Angels. The Sefer Chasidim (#158) encourages us to find songs that are appropriate for each prayer in order to stir our hearts and enhance our concentration. The Zohar (Volume 2, 93a) describes the ability of song to bring joy to the heart and soul. The Sefer HaChinuch (#384) in his explanation of the mitzvah of the trumpets describes the power of music and instruments to enhance our spirit while serving God. However, Maimonides, in the Guide for the Perplexed (Volume 3, Chapter 45), reminds us how easy it is to focus on the singing and its joy and lose sight of the meaning of the prayer.

It is preferable to sing our prayers, however, we must keep Maimonides’ warning in our minds, and make sure that we do not become so caught up in the singing that we forget the meaning of the prayer. I suggest an easy way to evaluate our singing: Does the tune match the message of the words? There are many happy psalms we sing to sad tunes and vice versa.

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18
May

Test 4

by admin in What is the Reason?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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10
May

Consulting with your wife

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in What is the Reason?

Why does the Talmud say that Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah consulted his wife before accepting the position of Nasi – Prince of the Sanhedrin? If the greatest Sages of Israel felt that he was the best qualified for the position was he not obligated to accept the job? Isn’t his responsibility to the nation more important than his obligation to his wife? M. A.

Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshutz in the Ya’arot Devash #18 explains that R’ Elazar, in his current position as a Torah scholar, was obligated to spend one night a week with his wife. A Nasi, however, is only obligated to spend one night a month. R’ Elazar would have diminished his wife’s Ona – Marital Obligation – which this week’s portion teaches one may not diminish. A person, about to assume, what was at the time, the most prominent position in the Jewish world, cannot set an example of breaking Halacha, or of hurting his wife. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva of REITS once showed a Teshuva to me (which I am embarrassed to say I forgot which Responsum) that explained that a husband may not accept a job which will lessen his time with his wife without her permission. Ona – commonly translated as Intimacy, actually means time, her, his wife’s time. A husband must spend quality time with his wife. He must ask his wife’s permission to take a new job that will prevent him from spending more time with her.

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