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Mitzvah of lulav on Shabbat - 2006 Ynet Article PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:50
Mitzvah of lulav on Shabbat

lulav_100x100Most Jews do not perform mitzvah of waving lulav on Shabbat. What is the basis for these differing practices?

Published:     10.05.06, 12:25 / Israel Jewish Scene  YNetNews

This year the first day of the holiday of Sukkot falls on Shabbat. Most Jews do not perform the mitzvah of waving the lulav on Shabbat while others do so.
What is the basis for these differing practices and what is the stance of the Halacha?

Regarding the mitzvah of lulav–a positive Torah commandment – the Mishna (Sukkah 3a) states:

"When the first day of Sukkot falls on Shabbat all of the Jews bring their lulavim to synagogue (on Erev Shabbat because of the prohibition of carrying from
one domain to another); and (the next day) everybody identifies his lulav and takes it. And this is because it was said: 'One may not fulfil one's obligation on
the first day of Sukkot with the lulav of his fellow.'"

In the following chapter, the Mishna (Sukkah 4a) goes on to state:

"The lulav and the aravah (willow), six and seven….how is the lulav seven? When the first day of Sukkot falls on Shabbat one waves the lulav seven days; on
other days, six."

Thus we see that the Mishna unequivocally states that we should perform the mitzvah of waving the lulav on the first day of Sukkot, even if the first day of
the holiday falls on Shabbat. So naturally, the question must be asked: why do most Jews not hold by this practice today?

Between Israel and the Diaspora

In my humble opinion, the answer is related to the competition and rivalry which prevailed between the centre of Torah in Eretz Yisrael and the centre of
Torah in Babylon some 1,400 years ago. Without this perspective it is extremely difficult to understand why the Talmud states one thing and then contradicts
itself on the very same page.

At the beginning of the deliberation (Sukka 43a), the Talmud states simply that the Jews of Eretz Yisrael - who know which day was declared to be Rosh
Chodesh and are therefore in no doubt as to the date on which the holiday begins - perform the mitzvah of waving the lulav on Shabbat as per the Mishna.

The Jews of Babylon on the other hand - who are in doubt as to whether the first day of Sukkot falls on Shabbat or Sunday - do not perform the mitzvah of
waving the lulav.

However, as the discussion continues (43b) the Talmud suddenly changes its position and surprisingly declares:

"Since we in Bavel do not override Shabbat, they in Eretz Yisrael do not also. But what of the first day when we in Bavel do not override the Shabbat and they
in Eretz Yisrael do? They answered: Lulav will not override Shabbat for them either!"

An entirely new claim is made here that contradicts the previous conclusion: Since the Jews of Bavel do not override Shabbat by performing the mitzvah of
waving the lulav, the Jews of Eretz Yisrael must also act accordingly, and must therefore refrain from waving the lulav on Shabbat.

This latter claim is quite astonishing: on what basis can one claim that when one person can not fulfil a mitzvah that his neighbor must also refrain from so

Change of heart

This change of heart did not go unnoticed by the mepharshim (commentators) of the Talmud. Rashi comments that this was decreed “so that Israel would
not be fragmented and the Torah would appear to be two Torahs” (44a). The Rambam, too, explains the matter in a similar fashion (Hilchoth Lulav, 7, 16; in
the Vilna edition 17). This interpretation, however, is difficult to accept.

Would this be the only case in which the appearance of “two Torahs” is created? Do residents of the Diaspora not observe every Yom Tov (festival) for two
days, while the residents of Eretz Yisrael observe only one? One group observes the Sukkot holiday for eight days, and the other nine. And on Passover one
group makes one seder while the other makes two? Etc. etc…

Furthermore, the Talmud’s language does not readily lend itself to this explanation of Rashi and the Rambam; if the Talmud had wanted all Jews to observe
one custom, it would have said so explicitly. The declaration that “Since we in Bavel do not override Shabbat, they in Eretz Yisrael do not also” suggests that
the explanation lies elsewhere.

No temple

And indeed the Netziv (in his commentary Meromei Sadeh) rejects Rashi’s rationale and suggests another reason which appears more in line with the
Talmud’s original intention: After the destruction of the Temple, writes the Netziv, the bulk of the Jewish nation was transplanted to the Exile.

In this new reality the Jews of Eretz Yisrael who are considered after the destruction as “negligible” must fall in line with “the custom of Am Yisrael”.

But even this insightful elucidation requires further examination. The truth is that we do not possess sufficient historical data regarding the condition and
numbers of the Jews of Eretz Yisrael as compared to the Jews of Bavel during the period immediately following the destruction of the Temple.

In addition, as far as we know the process that the Netziv describes - the transformation of the Exile into the center of the Jewish world - took place over
hundreds of years.

Moreover, the Babylonian sage Abbaye, who lived 250 years after the destruction of the Temple, is quoted in the Talmud (Pesahim, 51a, Hulin 18b) as having
said “we are subservient to them” regarding the way the Jews of Bavel viewed themselves vis-a-vis the Jews of Eretz Yisrael.

Having said this, the Netziv’s understanding of the matter seems basically correct; it might, however, be formulated somewhat differently.

As previously noted, the process described by the Netziv did not occur immediately after the destruction of the Temple. During the periods of the Tannaim
(70-200 CE) and the Amora’im (200 to 500 CE) until at least the time of Abbaye (d. 337 CE), the Jews of Bavel recognized the lofty status and the birthright of
the Jews and Sages of Eretz Yisrael.

Center of Jewish life shifted

During this period, it was completely acceptable in their eyes that the Jews of Eretz Yisrael would perform the mitzvah of waving the lulav when the first day
of Sukkot fell on Shabbat even though they themselves did not. This period is reflected in the first deliberation of the Talmud (43a) cited above.

However, with the passage of time the center of Torah and the Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael was steadily weakened due to the persecutions of the
Romans and the Byzantines, and later in the aftermath of the Arab/Muslim occupation.

Thus, little by little, a new reality came into being: The center of Jewish life shifted to Bavel—as pointed out by the Netziv—and the worldview of Babylonian
Jewry was shaped by this fact.

To this we must add that it is well known, as found in many sources including statements of the Sages, that an atmosphere of competition and rivalry
prevailed between the Jewish centers in Bavel and Eretz Yisrael.

The sages of Bavel were not at ease with the fact that the Jews of Eretz Yisrael were fulfilling the mitzvah of lulav at a time that the Jews of Bavel were not
doing so; this would have been seen to imply that the Jews of Eretz Yisrael were of a higher status and order.

It seems that once the Babylonians felt that they were in a position to do so, they adopted the principle reflected in the summation of the second deliberation
(43b): "The Jews of Eretz Yisrael must accept the authority of the Jews of Bavel and act in accordance with their customs."

What about now?

Bearing all this in mind, one might well ask whether today we are required to continue to view the custom of the Jews of the Exile as the “custom of Klal
Yisrael”? Is this appropriate when, thank G-d, at least 50 percent of the world’s Jews live in Eretz Yisrael and when the largest and most significant Torah
center in the world is located in Eretz Yisrael?

Perhaps the time has come to take seriously the words of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi:

“One should always run to the Mishna more than to the Talmud” (Talmud Bavli, Bava Metziah, 33a), and conduct ourselves here in Eretz Yisrael in
accordance with the Mishna. Thus might we begin the process of redefining centrality and marginality in our lives as a nation and as individuals, and get
ourselves collectively back on track.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:26
Where should I put my Hannukiah? PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 15 December 2008 15:38
I'm on the 4th floor. Where should I put my Hannukiah?


1. Even were your apartment to be on the ground floor,but inside the building (as opposed to the door to your apartment opening directly on to the street), it is unclear whether it would be correct to place your Ner Hannuka at the entrance to the building - there exist a machloketh Rishonim regarding this question: according to the Rambam you would place the candles outside your own door, and according to the Tosaphoth you would place them outside the entrance to the building.

2. Seeing that your apartment is on the fourth floor, you have two options:
a) to light in a window (which faces the street if at all possible), or
b) to light outside the door to your apartment in the stairwell.

3. These two options are equally correct in my view. There is no issue of the window being too high when one lights inside as mentioned by the Tur (OH 672) in the name of Rabbenu Yoel. This is also the view of the Ra'avya (843). I believe this to be correct (even though the Tur disputes this - I do not understand the Tur's reasoning, whereas the reasoning of R. Yoel and the Ra'avya seems to me unassailable).

4. Regarding option 2b) there is a stipulation, namely that at least some people are likely to walk by in the stairwell and see your candles, even if this might only be one or two people. If however no-one is likely to see the candles, it is preferable to light in the window (where I assume at least some people will see them).
Last Updated on Friday, 03 April 2009 13:59
Al-HaNissim for Yom Y'rushalayim PDF Print E-mail
Written by David S.   
Sunday, 18 April 2010 02:00

Al-HaNissim for Yom Y'rushalayim

The Talmud (Pesahim 117a) informs us that the Hallel prayer "was instituted by the Prophets to be said by the Jewish People on Festivals. Further, upon having been saved from grave national calamity, they are to recite it in thanksgiving for their salvation." This statement is quoted by several Halachic codifiers (e.g. Rid ad loc.; Rosh Pesahim 1:10). Salvation from national disaster is the yardstick; where this standard is met, we are obligated to express our gratitude to Hashem. Indeed, the Hatham Sopher (OH 161; 191& 208) opines that this obligation is mandated by the Torah. Like Hannukah, the Divine salvation experienced is in 1948 and 1967 is an immutable fact independent of subsequent developments.

In addition, Al-HaNissim should be added to the Amidah and Birkat HaMazon of the holidays. The addition of Al HaNissim in our prayers is Halachically unassailable. The Tur writes that one may add a supplication or words of praise in the Modim section of the Amidah (Ohr HaHayim 582 and Hagahoth Maimoniyoth Tephilla 6:3). Indeed even on days when Hallel is not said, such as Purim, Al-HaNissim is recited.

'על הניסים' - ליום גאולת ירושלים ומקום המקדש

עַל הַנִּסִּים, הַגְּבוּרוֹת, הַתְּשוּעוֹת, הַמִּלְחָמוֹת וְהַפְּדוּת שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּנוּ וְעִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

בִּשְׁנַת עֶשְׂרִים לִתְקוּמָתֵנוּ, בְּקוּם עָלֵינוּ בְּנֵי עֲרָב. אָמְרוּ: לְכוּ וְנַכְחִידֵם מִגּוֹי, וְלֹא יִזָּכֵר שֵׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד תהילים פג, ה.

וְאַתָּה בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים עָמַדְתָּ לָּנוּ בְּעֵת צָרָתֵנוּ. רַבְתָּ אֶת רִיבֵנוּ, דַּנְתָּ אֶת דִּינֵנוּ, נָקַמְתָּ אֶת נִקְמָתֵנוּ. מָסַרְתָּ רַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים, וּרְשָׁעִים בְּיַד צַדִּיקִים. הֵמָּה כָּרְעוּ וְנָפָלוּ; וַאֲנַחְנוּ קַּמְנוּ וַנִּתְעוֹדָד תהילים כ, ט. בָּאוּ צִבְאוֹתֶיךָ אֶל חַבְלֵי אֶרֶץ נַחֲלָה אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לָתֶת לָנוּ. לְךָ עָשִׂיתָ שֵׁם גָּדוֹל בָּעוֹלָם, וּלְעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשִׂיתָ תְּשׁוּעָה גְדוֹלָה. וּבַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵׁנִי בִּשְׁמוֹנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים בּוֹ, עֹמְדוֹת הָיוּ רַגְלֵינוּ בִּשְׁעָרַיִךְ, יְרוּשָׁלִָם תהילים קכב, ב.

כְּשֵׁם שֶׁעָשִֹיתָ לָּנוּ תְּשׁוּעָה בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם, כָּךְ עֲשֵׂה עִמָּנוּ בָּעֵת הַזּאֹת, וְנוֹדֶה לְשִׁמְךָ לָנֶצַח.

יש לאומרו בשמונה עשרה בהודיה (ברכת מודים) בערבית, בשחרית ובמנחה, וכן בברכת המזון.

Download Al-hanissim-for-HaAtzmaout and Yom Yerushalayim
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 April 2010 18:12
Making Shabath Early PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 22 June 2010 08:38
Making Shabath Early

Can I do early shabbos?

1.    Yes, making Shabath early is entirely acceptable.
2.    Most people who do this, however, go about it incorrectly. Namely: one should daven Minha before P'lagh HaMinha, and then, after PHM, one can daven 'Arvith, i.e. the 7 B'rakhoth of the Amidah or "Sh'mone 'Esre". One can of course also say/sing Qabalath Shabath, even though this is not a Hova.
3.    One most definitely may not say Q'riyath Sh'ma with the B'rakhoth before sunset, and preferably one should not do so before Sseth HaKokhavim (the appearance of 3 stars). If one recites Sh’ma before the appearance of 3 stars, one must repeat it later at night.
4.    This means that if one wishes to make Shabath early, one says Q'riyath Sh'ma later at night, and not before 'Arvith. (Being “Somekh G’ula l’Tphila” is not a hova in this and similar cases – see Rav Hai Gaon quoted by Rosh, B’rakhoth 1:1).
5.    This is the almost unanimous opinion of all the G'onim and Rishonim. It is also logical: how can one say "HaMa'ariv 'Aravim" when the sun is shining in one's eyes?

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim
Rachem for the 9th of Av in Hebrew PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 19 July 2010 15:32
Rachem for the 9th of Av in Hebrew
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 12:37
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