|Reciting L’Dhawidh HaShem Ori W’Yish’i|
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|Monday, 13 September 2010 22:16|
Reciting L’Dhawidh HaShem Ori W’Yish’i - Revised Version27-06-63 (06-09-2010)
I am told that the earliest mention of the custom of saying LeDavid Hashem Ori Veyishi from Rosh Hodesh Ellul until Hoshana Rabba is in Sefer Chemdat Yamim, first printed in Izmir in 1731-2. The anonymous author of Chemdat Yamim was accused of Sabbatean tendencies by, among others, R. Yaakov Emden, and the balance of scholarly opinion today is that his claims were rooted in fact. I have heard that the Sabbateans interpreted some psukim from this mizmor as alluding to their heretical doctrines but I cannot think what these may be. Is this sufficient reason to put an end to the minhagh of reciting this mizmor?
1. There is good reason to believe that the author of Hemdath Yamim was a Shabtai – a follower of the false Qabalistic messiah, Shabtai Ssvi – as were quite a number of talented writers during that
period. The reality that pertained at that time is very much analogous to the Habad heresy of the
present generation, only more widespread.
2. A section of the T‟nakh does not become „pasul‟ because others misuse and misinterpret it. The Christian world has been systematically and tendentiously misinterpreting various p‟suqim and indeed entire sections of the T‟nakh for nearly two millennia.
3. Reciting T’hilim is always a very positive thing (assuming the recitation comes from the
heart). On the other hand, there is no obligation to recite this particular mizmor at a
particular time of year.
4. Whether a minhagh should be discontinued due to its origin is a moot point. The fact is that
this practice does not stem from the book Hemdath Yamim. The first mention of reciting
this mizmor starting in Elul and until Simhath Tora is found in Shem Tov Qattan, a book written
by Binyamin Beinish (or Beinosh), a Qabalist from Krotoszyn (or Krotoschin), Poland, printed in
Sulzbach in 5466 (1706). In another book, Amtahath Binyamim (printed 5476–1716), Beinish recommends reciting it after the Sh‟mone „Esre of Shaharith. This practice was later quoted in many mystically influenced works, one of which was Hemdath Yamim, first printed in Izmir in 5491-92 (1731). Much has been written on this relatively unimportant subject; these are the facts to the best of my knowledge. (See the following article:
5. There is no mystery as to why this practice became widespread (apart from the underlying trend
of the last several centuries of adopting customs that originated in mystical circles). The author of
Shem Tov Qattan claims that if one recites this mizmor morning and evening from Rosh Hodhesh
Elul till Simhath Tora “he will live a long and happy life, and by this recitation he will nullify all
evil decrees of Heaven and is guaranteed to be acquitted by the Heavenly Court” (p. 23). If you make promises like that, most people will do most anything. This, unfortunately, is the way of the
world. People used to turn to magic, spirits and the dead to improve their chances; some still do
(„Tashlikh‟ is such an example). Today it is fashionable to appeal to the imagined magical powers
of specific chapters of T‟hilim to somehow circumvent the system. The Tora is opposed to all such
practices – see Rambam‟s MT „Avodha Zara 11:13. No intelligent person should believe such empty and misguided statements uttered by irresponsible and frequently unschooled individuals.
6. The likelihood is that even if people were told to desist from this practice, they would be most reluctant to do so. The very conservative tendencies of the Jewish people are at once a blessing and a curse; it is our strength and weakness. At any rate, there is no Halakhic problem in the present state of affairs.
7. The „problem‟ you raise therefore, in and of itself, is a non-issue. The real issue is a more general problem, viz. the improper accretion of additional texts to the order of prayers in the
Beth HaK‟neseth. Rambam z”l writes that all manner of optional additions, while positive and praiseworthy if said by the individual, are not to be made a fixed part of the synagogue service (T‟shuvoth HaRambam no. 261). The Beth HaK‟neseth, explains Rambam, is for the ssibur, the community, and the ssibur is to be defined and gauged according to the weak, the old, and those pressed for time such as those having to rush to work (i.e. most of the community). Therefore, says Rambam, only those prayers instituted by Hazal should be said in
the Beth HaK‟neseth. This applies to L‟Dhawidh HaShem Ori W‟Yish‟I as it does to all such optional additions.
8. It should be noted that the Gr”a (the Vilna Gaon) was opposed to reciting this mizmor in public.
(see Ma'aseh Rav nos. 53 & 66). In such matters the Gr”a‟s view was akin to Rambam‟s. HaRav „Adereth‟ (Rav Kook‟s father-in-law) understood the Gr”a‟s position in this way (T’philath Dawidh pp. 139-150 or 157-177 depending on edition).
9. In brief: this relatively recent minhagh, like so many others, began as the private practice of certain mystics. Those who wish to recite this or any other mizmor should do so on their own time.
10. I reiterate: reciting T‟hilim is a wonderful thing. Studying T’hilim with various perushim is
Rabbi David Bar-Hayim
PDF copy attached below....
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 September 2010 23:20|