Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rosh Hashono and Beyond - Has It Been Three Days Already?

As I began the first draft of this Yom Tov wrap up post, I happened to check in on last year's post, only to discover that frankly, not all that much has changed...

Aside from the fact that Yom Tov was immediately followed by Shabbos this year and not ON Shabbos, everything else still rang true.
  • The table was still set with Avram's great-great-grandmother's linen. It was further enhanced by a flower arrangement that we designed after being inspired by a lovely table decoration we saw in the dining room on our recent trip to Olana.
  • I still relied HEAVILY on my "shalom bayis honey dish". (I'm going to have the sweetest year ever!)
  • I was still inspired by my husband's emotion filled davening - especially his rendition of "Unesaneh Tokef".
  • We had similar mixed reviews regarding the שהחינו fruits - pepino melons, by the way, taste a lot like cantaloupe. Oh, and on the bright side, this year's pomegranate was ruby red and delicious!
  • And believe it or not, one of my children still complained about our choice of Tashlich location (we passed the pumpkin, by the way...) - apparently it's not "the place to be". It seems though, that scores of other people were not privy to this information either.
Since we were lucky enough to have today a Sunday and not a work day, I was able to continue the inspiration gained through the tefillos of Rosh Hashanah by attending several shiurim this morning dedicated to teshuva and our awareness of Hashem.

And in the "Now this is all I'm going to say about that (...well... for now....)" category:
It seems to me to be a very dangerous thing for a Rabbi to take upon himself to say that he is confident that were a Gadol (whom he never met) alive today, this Gadol would pasken on a particular issue the exact OPPOSITE of what he actually paskened in his lifetime.


Yekke Wannabe said...

My Rosh Hashono was very nice i really enjoyed your husband davening also.

I'll take avram's side of the honey argument i dont like to much honey.

and really the linen was Avram's great-great-grandmother?

WAdsworth3 said...

>It seems to me to be a very >dangerous thing for a Rabbi...

While I found that rather arrogant, more dangerous is his proclivity for picking fights with established groups in the Kehillo. Overall, my takeaway was three fold:

1. It was a nice dvar torah on the structure of Rosh Hashanah mussaf.

2. This is the consequence of lifetime tenure. He feels empowered to do and say whatever he wants without any consequences whatsoever.

3. The bit about only consuming chalav yisroel and pas yisroel is not radical, but I am sure I am far from the only one who will disregard it. Sadly, I (we?) have been pushed like much of the rest world to not take the rav seriously. Chalav yisroel may no longer be a luxury, but having respect for the rav may soon be.

Anonymous said...

Lets remember that we are approaching Yom Hakippur and we should be extra careful with what we say or in this case write.

tesyaa said...

I had to read the comments to have any clue about what you were talking about. I still have almost no clue, but at least I know I don't have a clue. :)

efrex said...

It seems to me to be a very dangerous thing for a Rabbi to take upon himself to say that he is confident that were a Gadol (whom he never met) alive today, this Gadol would pasken on a particular issue the exact OPPOSITE of what he actually paskened in his lifetime.

"Dangerous?" Hardly; it's a practice mit a lange bard as they might have said back in the old country (look, I'm working on my Yiddish in between 20 other responsibilities: don't expect me to start using idioms accurately overnight...). It's also a much less distasteful practice than saying "the gadol NEVER said such a thing," which I find far more distressing and, unfortunately, only slightly less prevalent.

Yekkishe Bekishe said...

Sounds like I missed some fun in FfaH (Frankfurt am Hudson) on Rosh Hashonoh. Didn't Ezra Lasdun daven Musofim in KAJ?

G6 said...

YB -
Ezra Lasdun did an exemplary job on Rosh Hashana.
My husband was baal tefilla in a different minyan.

Yehudah said...


Defending or fighting good causes is not a sin; it's a mitzvah.

Anonymous said...

I have only heard second hand comments about the Rav's speech. But what I heard was disturbing. There is a pattern in the complaints I have heard over the past several years.

Obviously there is a lack of respect for the way things were formerly done.

Taking a swipe at our very old custom of burial on the second day of yom tov is in keeping with this lack of respect for "our way".

The German culture of our fathers and grandfathers has certainly passed on and developed into a variety of current day jewish cultures.

But, this does not mean that our customs, and, halachos, need to accomodate the prevailing yeshiva culture. We still have our way - and that is fine.

Anonymous said...

efrex -
Are you justifying?
I thought for SURE you would be jumping on the implications (halachic and otherwise) of such behavior.

Yehudah said...

I'm confused: Did Rav Mantel attack eating non-chalav Yisrael or burying someone on the second day of yom tov?

Anonymous said...

what's a sholom bayis honey dish?

G6 said...

Anonymous -
A Shalom Bayis Honey Dish (as explained in last year's posting) is the supplementary honey dish that sits on MY end of the table, so that I can add extra honey on top of whatever Avram puts on at his end of the table.
We differ in what we consider "appropriate" honey portions ;)

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:10 PM:

By your own admission, you only heard about the speech second hand. Had you not mentioned that fact, it would have still been obvious since the Rav did NOT take a swipe at an old custom nor show lack of respect for the way things were formerly done.

Quite the contrary. He mentioned Rav Breuer several times during the sermon, always showing the utmost respect.

(Perhaps before you dare to attempt zilzul morim in the future, be sure to be present yourself so that your analysis can be accurate rather than conjecture).

What he did say was that at THIS TIME, he will not allow funerals to take place on Y"T. He did not elucidate what has changed to cause the psak to change though in no way did he imply it is because we are better (or attempting to be better) than the previous generation.

He did NOT say that he disagrees with R' Breuer's psak at the time. He said that he feels that R' Breuer would agree with his psak for us today.

Never once did he mention that he is trying to do away with German culture to try to accommodate Yeshiva culture. In fact, he proudly mentioned a story how R' Chaim Ozer, the leader of the Lithuanian world, trusted the Shechita of R' Shlomo Breuer and that we today, are trying to uphold the high standards established back then. Where in the speech do you hear him bashing German customs?


You certainly have a choice as to whether or not you will accept upon yourself to only eat Chalav Yisrael, but in this case the Rav gave a reason for it (and if I remember correctly, Rav Gelley, along with many other Rabbanim from other Kehillos as well gave the same reason several years ago). He said that non Chalav Yisrael milk comes from cows that may have been treated in such a way that causes them to potentially be treif. I fail to understand why this causes you to lose respect for a Rav. I hope you do not belong to the same group of people who respect R' Moshe zt"l for his heter for Chalav Yisrael but disrespect him for his psak on not allowing an eiruv in Manhattan.

In regard to the Rav not being afraid for his job:
1. Kol Hakavod. Would you really want a Rav who just panders to the congregation and says what makes THEM feel good?

2. Since you seem to be in the know, do you recall that a few years back, KAJ of Monsey did bring their Rav to a Din Torah which eventually resulted in his being ousted from the position and the Shul? Do you really think that the Rav is so secure in his position such that he only said what he said because he thinks he is secure in his position forever?

3. Do you recall that Rav Breuer also tried to introduce changes to the Kehillo? Just one example, I have been told that he strongly pushed the women of the Kehillo to cover their hair even though it is well known that there were wives of prominent Rabbanim in Europe that often didn't cover their hair. (I am told that any man who married a woman who was to cover her hair was granted the title 'Chaver' upon his marriage by R’ Breuer.) Is it because Rav Breuer didn't respect the Rabbanim in Europe? Is it because he was trying to accommodate a Yeshiva culture? Apparently he wasn't afraid for his job either...

Everyone is entitled to choose a Rav for him or herself and your Rav does not have to be the present Rav of KAJ. Please be careful, though, before you bash other Rabbanim. At the very least, you should respectfully debate the issues rather than attempt character assassination of anyone, especially someone who is a proven Talmid Chocham and a respected Rav.

Moshe said...

Yehudah: YES.

Old Timer said...

Anonymous 8:20pm :

Just a few clarifications. The rav invoked Rav Breuer's name on only two occasions. Once that he permitted levayos on the second day of yom tov and the second time that he did not approve of the eiruv.

Regarding levayos,the rav specifically did give a reason for his change of the psak. He said that times have changed and that levayos on the second day of yom tov might possibly lead to chillul yom tov by non-frum relatives or friends driving to shul or the cemetery. With all due respect this reasoning does not make sense. I think everyone will agree that the general Jewish population today has become much more aware of the prohibitions of chilul yom tov than they were 50, 60 or 70 years ago. And yet at that time Rav Breuer did not seem to be concerned by this extremely remote possibility. In fact I would defy anyone to show where there was even one case of chilul yom tov when these levayos did take place. To say that today there is a greater worry of this is just not logical.

The rav mentioned that Rav Breuer said there could be no eiruv in Washington Heights. As far as I know, and I have verified this with a number of people who are also old enough to remember, the only time Rav Breuer said that an eiruv is not permissible was regarding an eiruv around Manhattan. This is not to say that he would or would not have permitted an eiruv in Washington Heights. It's just that the question was never raised and therefore was never even discussed. Again, The rav is quoting Rav Breuer, which sounded very impressive, but it was not based on any facts. For the rav, who never met, spoke to or had any contact with Rav Breuer, to tell his kehilla that he knows what Rav Breuer would have said based on his own pure conjecture and not fact is just wrong.

As for calling Rav Breuer's call to the women of the kehilla to cover their hair being a big change is laughable. If anything, the German Jewish women were known that a majority of them always did cover their hair. Rav Breuer just continued the justifiably proud tradition of his predecessors by encouraging those women of the kehilla who did not cover their hair to do so. And it is not true that if a woman covered her hair her husband automatically received the chover title. The wife covering her hair was just one of a number of conditions to receive this honor.

Rav Breuer led his kehilla and was also unbending when he felt what he was doing was correct. Yes, he invoked changes where he felt they were necessary. It was not always easy and he often had to fight for what he thought was right. Yet he also reached out to his baalei batim and lay leaders of the kehilla. He consulted with them and listened to their advice which he respected and often took into account. He also appointed dayonim with whom he consulted and later on with Rav Schwab zt"l.

In this case it appears that times HAVE indeed changed.

WAdsworth3 said...

Yehuda: He spoke passionately for a full hour, covering numerous topics.

Anon at 8:20:
A few points.

First, I echo Mrs. G6's point. Rav Mantel is certainly entitled to pasken as he sees fit. However pakening exactly the opposite of Rav Breuer while insisting that Rav Breuer would thank him for doing so is disingenuous.

Second, I think that a Rav ought to take into account whether people will widely follow his psak. Actually, that is the idea of avoiding gezeirah she'ein hatzibur yachol la'amod ba.

Second, you may recall the embarrassment, time, and enormous costs KAJMo incurred in parting ways with their former Rav. While I am unaware of the inner workings of the Kehillo, I assume no one wants a repeat of that.

Third (side point), I would suggest some chazarah: Rav Moshe did not write that there may not be an eruv in Manhattan, rather he paskened against the all-Manhattan and most-Brooklyn eruvs of that era. While he does appear to dislike any eruv in New York City, he clearly endorsed the Kew Gardens Hills eruv. I know far less about eruvin than any KAJ Rav (past or present), but I know that Rav Moshe's teshuvas are not clear.

Anonymous said...

sadly this is what happens when some board members push to have a rav that most people don't want. and instead of publicly openly complaining, questioning, or demanding other options, people just kvetched to each other. There was no organized grass roots protest at the time this rav was installed. the give up, what can I do, I am a nothing, it won't work anyway attitude is what landed the community with this rav. the best way to protest would have been to vote out all those board members who voted this rabbi in

Chulent macher said...

Whats all this? It isn't as if this is a KAJ minhog without a basis....this one has a very clear basis in the gemora:
Betza 6a
אמר רבא מת ביום טוב ראשון יתעסקו בו עממים מת ביו"ט שני יתעסקו בו ישראל ואפילו בשני ימים טובים של ר"ה

Anonymous said...

G6-I enjoy reading your blog and you make it interesting but I think you might want to close the comments on this section. You don't want to be the medium for such talk especially during this time. We all have problems etc. and we dont need to be judging others when we need Rachame Shamayim more than ever. Lets leave it for the correct time and place and may the Ultimate Judge , judge all the readers favorably for a health and good year.

Anonymous said...

The board voted the Rav in? The members don't get to vote?

Yekkishe Bekishe said...

A better understanding of the Eiruv issue can be found in Maayan Beis Hashoevah, in Parshas Vayakhel. Horav Schwab Z"tl discusses the Manhattan Eiruv controversy. The reasoning given applies to community Eiruvim as well.

BTW, the reasoning given by Horav Mantel Shlito is very similar to the reasoning found in the source mentioned.

G6 said...

Dear Readers -

As always, your recent thoughts and comments regarding my Rosh Hashonoh post have been expressed in a respectful and constructive manner.

In deference to the suggestion made by Anonymous - 8:22, I will leave it up to you my friends if you feel that any further constructive discussion regarding this topic should be postponed until after Yom Kippur.

Although I know that all of us who have voiced our opinions have meant them l'shem shomayim, perhaps, in these days leading up to Yom Kippur, we should be extrra careful and at the same time daven that Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give all of us the wisdom and understanding to face all of our problems, both personal and communal, in the proper way so that they can be resolved in a manner that will be satisfactory to all involved.

Yehudah said...

1) I never understood this idea -- that we can be one type of Jew before Yom Kippur and another type after.

2) I can think of no greater zechus leading into Yom Kippur than a renewed dedication to preserving and honoring the tradition and minhagim of one's forefathers.

3) For what it's worth, Rav H. Schechter spoke to Rav Schwab regarding an eruv in Washington Heights and Rav Schwab's objections were all policy-based (he felt it would lead to greater chillul Shabbos -- people carrying outside the eruv), not halachic. You can ask Rav Schechter; he will verify this.

4) Although both practices are bad, I agree with Efrex that it's better to ignore history than to revise it.

5) Finally, it's very nice to hear that R' Chaim Ozer trusted R. Breuer's shechitah. Who cares? What makes R' Chaim Ozer the standard? A member and rav of KAJ should care more about whether R. Breuer trusted R. Chaim Ozer's shechitah rather than the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Yehuda-You know as well as everyone else that of course one should try hard to do good all year round but during this time we should be extra careful. So of course this doesnt mean that anyone should come home from shul after Yom Kippur and continue to Rabbi bash or some may say defend their minhagim on a forum that doesnt have any necessary constructive outcome. If you feel strongly about something you should do something about it BUT go discuss it in a respectful way with those that can make a difference.

R' Hirsch said...

CW VI, pg 198:
"One who lacks the courage to sign his true name to his views must be aware that what he is saying is meaningless and that he therefore cannot expect others to take notice of it."

N Joy said...

G6- I am waiting for your post on the 'new' voting system.

BLD said...

What is interesting is that neither Rav Breuer nor Rav Schwab published Teshuvos even tho they were asked hundreds of shailos. So their rulings can be questioned. 25-30 years from now absolutely no one will remember anything they said. Rav Moshe's Teshuvos (he forbids the YomTov burial BTW) will last forever.
It seems rather sad and bitter like the Golus.

WIshing I could use my real name said...

Anonymous 7:21-

You are correct that in an ideal world we should all be brave enough to sign our name when we express our opinions. Unfortunately these days one can very quickly become branded as a rebel or even worse when expressing even the most constructive and respectful criticism of the current "regime". It is amazing how some people have no problem openly rebuking others but have big problems accepting any
critiques of themselves. You cannot blame anyone for not wanting to put themselves into such a position. A perfect proof is that you didn't use your real name either.

As for the usefulness of this forum. It is quite obvious from the
very animated dialogue which sprouted from one short sentence, that there are many people who are very concerned about the current state of KAJ. Unfortunately there really is no other venue right now
for them to express themselves on these issues without being ostracized by those who hide behind the great cloak of
'Kovod Horav'.
Perhaps you are correct that nothing constructive can come from this. But perhaps those people "who can do something" are actually reading this or are aware of it and the message is being heard.

efrex said...

Anonymous poster(s): At the very least, have the creativity to come up with a unique pseudonym so that people can distinguish and respond appropriately.

Anonymous @ 1654: I was not intending to justify the practice, merely noting that it is not inherently "dangerous," in that many people (both left and right of center) have done so without ill effect.

Yehudah (and YB): One does not need to ask R' Schachter about R' Schwab Zt'l's objections to eruvin in Manhattan. In his long letter in Ma'ayan Beit Hashoevah (originally in Hapardes), R' Schwab provides a list of reasons why he does not like the idea, all of which are hashkafic in nature, and many of which are specific to a Manhattan-wide eruv. This does not minimize the validity of his argument, but it is crucial to contextualize it.

Anonymous @ 2020: holding by a qualified posek who disagrees with a gadol is not inherently disrespectful to that gadol. R' Moshe has many p'sakim, both large and small, which are not held of by large segments of the torah community (e.g., his positions on artificial insemination, civil marriage, the pronounciation of "geshem" vs. "gashem" in mashiv haruach, eruvin, the wearing of plastic hat covers on shabbat, the permissibility of smoking, the permissibility of wearing sheitels in general and in particular on shabbat, the minimum height of a mechitza... ).

BLD: While it is unfortunate for history that R' Schwab & R' Breuer never published their teshuvot, I think it's inappropriate to suggest that, had they done so, their rulings would never get overturned. Many great poskim have seen their positions get turned around, and, as I noted above, it should not be seen as disrespectful for that to happen (indeed, R' Moshe has a wonderful teshuva on just that topic, written to a talmid chacham in b'nei b'rak, encouraging him to stand his ground in disagreeing with the Chazon Ish.)

Nicht Challah...Dages (und Berges) said...

In response to BLD -
This is precisely the issue.

A) R' Breuer did 'permit' burial on the second day yom tov. As is known by anyone who grew up in KAJ - and especially by those who participated in such burials. It happened on more than a handful of occasions and even on Rosh Hashono.

B) The teshuvo of R' Moshe Feinstein notwithstanding - this "permission" was not a kuloh - but rather was a chumro with regards to a mitzva m'doraiso. And moreover - is explicitly mandated by the gemoro and the shulkhan arukh and many many rishonim and acharonim.

C) The Breuer family (ahem) should be encouraged by this incident to record and publish the teshuvos and piskei din of Rav Breuer. Even if Rabbi Breuer never intended to publish his responsa - an effort could be made such as was done for Rabbi Hirsch (Shemesh Merapeh).

efrex said...

Nicht Challah: publishing the torah writings of gedolei yisrael should always be encouraged, but I wouldn't count on it to change much. Shemesh Marpeh is a fascinating work for historical purposes, but I don't think any contemporary posek would cite it in a teshuvah. It's also somewhat ironic to quote the publishing of Shemesh Marpeh in controverting historical revisionism, considering considering the deliberate omission of "controversial" material in that work.

Avram said...

Nicht Challah -

In response to point C, the Breuer family has never and will not publish Rav Breuer's teshuvos and piskei din as the Rav left clear instructions, as did his grandfather, Rav Hirsch, that these are not to be published. In fact Rav Hirsch's oldest daughter burnt most of her father's teshuvos after he passed away in order to insure that his wishes would be complied with. However, not all of them were destroyed and those that remained were later used for Shemesh Marpeh. It is well known that Rav Breuer was against the publishing of this sefer and refused to cooperate with its publishing as it went directly against the wishes of Rav Hirsch. And yes, Efrex is correct, there were a number of ommissions from the sefer in order to "avoid controversy". The only thing which Rav Breuer did put into writing were the minhogim of the kehilla and its Chevra Kadisha which have been published and, for the most part, are being adhered to.

G6 said...

In support of and then in response to efrex -

I heartily agree that all commenters should please choose a name and then stick with it. It gives us more a sense of 'who you are' without compromising your anonymity. (Of course, I'd also really like to know what "Nicht Challah...Dages (und Berges)" means... feel free to expound...)

Now to one of your other points. I think you misunderstood my position. While I have no problem with a Rav disagreeing with a Gadol's psak, I *do* take issue with claiming to know that a now deceased Gadol would have COMPLETELY REVERSED his previous position and claiming said deceased Gadol for an ally......

efrex said...

Avram: Thanks for the additional information. The history of people publishing the Torah of their ancestors/ rebbes against the latter's express wishes has quite a pedigree (and, IIRC, a teshuva from the Netziv trying to justify the practice). Had their authors' wishes been adheared to, then besides Shemesh Marpeh, we wouldn't have many of the works of R' Bamberger or the fascinating letters of R' Weinberg, all invaluable resources. No pressure, just saying... :)

G6: to clarify: I don't disagree. As R' Soloveitchik was alleged to have said: "I don't mind if you quote my ideas in your name; just don't quote your ideas in my name!" As historical revisionism goes, however, this is relatively innocuous, and might even be accurate.

Barches and Dadcsher said...

Ok Ok - I concede all your of your points. Shemesh Merapeh was not a great example. Rabbi Breuer never wanted his teshuvos published and even if they were, it has no bearing on the current issue. I agree whole-heartedly that the current Rav should feel free to pasken halacha as he feels appropriate - and that the real disturbing thing here is the claim that Rav Breuer would have agreed with his psak.

But one must assume that the Rav mentioned Rabbi Breuer in this context simply because his opinion is still held in very high regard among KAJ members (several of whom are relatives). In other words - Rav M. was pre-empting the inevitible criticism connected with over turning a long held practice of our community. Of course in doing so he made some disingenuous comments about our late great rav Breuer. Which was G-6's and Wadsworth's original point.

Now on to other matters:
My pseudonym was intended to let people know of my family connection to pre-war Germany. My grandparents used to tell me that they didn't eat challes in Germany they ate Barches and Dadcsher... pardon my original transliteration - I had no idea how those words would have been spelled in German as I only ever heard them spoken. To me they sounded like Birches and Dodger. Oh well. Subsequently I found that they are mentioned all over the internet: For more on Barches and Dadcsher - see

Barches/Dadcher said...

I just wanted to say kol hakavod to G-6 for this blog. I enjoy reading it - although I don't often comment unless its a matter of German Minhogim.

There really are very few outlets for KAJ members and Philo-Breuerites to discuss issues, ask questions, and, yes - vent their frustrations. And although I am sure this is not the primary purpose of your blog - it is a much appreciated by-product.

So, thank you!

Not sure which name to use said...

Rav Moshe clearly writes in his hakdomo to Igros Moshe that his teshuvos are for a specific and personal cases and that no one should pasken from it so it shouldn't make a difference that it was published

G6 -
I am not sure which of the 4 names that i sign off as i should continue using.