Standing up, sitting down
While very much enjoying a New York Mets game this past Sunday evening over at Citifield with two of the Oisvorfer’s three boys during which the fans -kimat all of them- repeatedly jumped out of their seats, literally, and stood on their feet every time the Mets had a big hit and every time the pitcher had a two strike count on the opposing hitter, the Oisvorfer asked his boys the following question: Did we, in the past two hours, stand up and sit down more often than we do over the entire Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur davening? It was close, very. And while some complain about this constant up and down every time the Oroin Koidesh (Ark) is opened and closed during various parts of the davening, it’s zicher emes that when it comes to sports, people do so willingly and with gusto. They mamish can’t wait for the next opportunity.
We all chap that it’s a minhag yisroel (accepted custom) practiced by many but zicher not by all, to stand while the Ark is open during certain tefilos (prayers) including Ovinu Malkanu on fast days, and for many of the piyyutim recited on the High Holy Day services ober when did this minhag of standing up in shul begin? Do all religious Jews follow this minhag? Is it in fact a minhag (custom) or is this the law, one of our 613 commandments? Must we stand up every time the Oron Koidesh is opened? Maybe not! Growing up in a shtibel and davening nusach Sefard for the first 13 years of my life, I had never seen this minhag, everyone sat. Even bazman hazeh (in our times), when the many have moved way to the right and have adopted minhogim the RBSO Himself may never have ever imagined, people in shtibles and those davening nusach sefard still don’t stand when the Ark is opened. Nu, shtelt zich di shaylo (the question arises) azoy: why taka is it the case that those davening nusach sefard do not stand when the Ark is opened but kimat 100%of those davening nusach ashkenaz do get up and sit down multiple times over the Yom Tov? Noch a sheylo: can one change his minhag and daven sefard so as to avoid standing? And are those whose custom it is to sit when the ark is opened, standing on firm ground? Finally, who developed this up-and-down minhag? And when?
Nu the Oisvorfer did some digging and reports as follows: Avada we all know that the Oron (Ark) is taka opened and closed many times during the davening (service) on Rosh HaShono and Yom Kippur. It is opened when we recite –or make believe we are- certain Piyutim, whatever those are. We can kler that the minhag to open and close the Oron may have started because the shuls needed to honor those members whose pledges weren’t high enough to earn them a speaking part by getting an aliya. What to do with these members? Shoin: let’s open and close the Oron and appease many. Sounds plausible, ver veyst. But are we in fact required to constantly stand up? Let’s find out.
Says the Taz (YD 242:13) azoy: one does not need to stand when the Oron (ark) is open so long as the Toirah remains inside the Ark. And why not? Because while the Sefer Toirah remains inside, it is considered to be in a different rishus (neighborhood) and not in the rishus where you are sitting. Accordingly, though you are in your seat and in the same shul, sometimes but feet away from the Oron, you are not required to stand. The Ark is its own neighborhood, a holy one, and separated from you no matter how close your seat may be. And he says “…People who do so (stand), do it for the Kavod (honor) of the Sifrei Torah.”
Moreover, says the Pri Megadim azoy: one does not have to stand while the Oroin is open even if it is considered to be in your rishus, since the Toirah is at rest and hasn’t moved from its place. It’s only when the heylige Toirah is on the move, that we must pay it honor by standing. He goes as far as saying that if the chazan holds the Sefer Toirah for Hazkaras Neshamos, it is also considered in its place and there is no obligation to stand. Does everyone agree? Of course not! And say the Ponim Me’iros and the Chasam Soifer (Minhag Yisroel Torah OC 585:5) that one must stand when the Oron is opened. Of course the Oisvorfer does not paskin (make final rulings) on issues that don’t involve chapping: Consult your local rabbi or do as the others do in your shul.
And listen to this shtikel tidbit. Says the Chasam Soifer (Ch.M. 73) azoy: Someone who is suspected of swearing false oaths, in order to scare him, we may not force him to lay down in a casket and make the Shevua (oath). And why not? One of the reasons is because; he needs to stand while the Aron Hakoidesh is open.
Shoin, speaking of the heylige Toirah being on the move, please respond to the Oisvorfer’s Sefer Toirah campaign. The effort to being a newly minted scroll into the world has begun. A Soifer (scribe) has been retained and he is already hard at work. We need more sponsors and avada thank those that have already donated. For as little as $5, you too can be part of the mitzvah to bring a new Torah into the world. Please click here. For more details. Feel free to sponsor but one letter, word, posik (sentence), perek (chapter), a specific reading, a complete parsha or even a complete Sefer (Book). You can sponsor a letter for as little as $5. Of course we would like you to sponsor more than one letter but will be grateful for every single donation to this cause.
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Grada this standing vs. sitting question is timely because though it’s only the first week of August, Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur are mamish quickly approaching. How quickly you ask? Very! Need proof? This week’s mail included seating requests from a few shuls the mishpocho belongs to. Moreover, solicitations from every organization known to man are flooding the mailbox. Honey delivered in mini plastic bottles is but days away. So happens that the Oisvorfer’s father, OBM, who passed away back in early 2004,-eleven years ago- is also still getting mail solicitations and also included in the mail, was one solicitation for him from the charity known as Rebbe Meir Baal Ha’ness. (he, known for performing miracles). Nu, efsher for a healthy donation, they can bring him back to life, ver veyst. And with Choidesh Elul just around the corner, it’s almost time to start thinking about tshuva (repentance) for yet another year of giferliche behavior, if you chap(ped).
Welcome then to parshas Eikev, a parsha read during the dog days of summer, one that was never studied in yeshiva and one where many rabbis, retired and still active, find themselves off on vacation or leading some tour to Africa, the Rockies, Israel, China, Poland and other places. Ober for those who are still here and would like to read a few highlights, so happens that Eikev provides a few very interesting topics.
From past postings on this parsha, mistama you recall that the mitzvah or obligation mamish, to bentch (recite grace after meals) is found in but three words from this week’s parsha. We have previously covered this topic and avada you should be inspired to check out the archives where you can read the Oisvorfer’s rants about having to look all over the bentcher just to find the bentching. Finding a bentcher with nothing but bentching or with bentching on page 1, remains a challenge. One final comment on bentching. While many do sit down to bread during the week, it appears that ruba-diruba (most), leave all the bentching for the shabbis tish. Weekday bentching remains unpopular. In an effort that could work, todays rabbis should consider a newer abbreviated version, maybe an app that bentches for us, ver veyst. Just a thought.
Shoin, how do we follow up last week’s parsha which contained not only a repeat of the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments) but also the ubiquitous words of the Shema and the first of its three paragraphs? Not to worry: Eikev has a few gems of its own to offer including the second parsha of the Shema as well as lessons in psychology and bribery 101.
As the Parsha begins, Moishe is still talking; he is in the middle of speech number two of three he will give in his last days. He is attempting to get through to the Yiddin and will employ tactics often used by parents and business people when they need immediate results. He will bribe them with rewards, he will threaten them with severe punishments for insolence, and, he will also introduce a tactic since emulated by thousands: he will attempt to guilt them into better behavior. It’s all here in parshas Eikev. Ober what does the word Eikev really mean? Nu, it depends on who you ask.
Seemingly, the parsha receives its name from the second word in the first sentence.”V’hoyo-eikev-tishm’un…” the RBSO promises blessing and prosperity should the Yiddin obey His mitzvois. Says Rashi: the use of the word “eikev,” which literally means “as a result of,” implies here the other meaning of the word “eikev” – a heel. Its usage here means obeying specifically those “mitzvois-kalis” – “light mitzvois” – that “individuals step on with their heel.” Did you chap that? Let’s try again.
Rashi is telling us that rewards will come to the Yiddin if they observe mitzvois that, for whatever reason, people treat with less seriousness than others. Ober since we mentioned the Taz earlier with regard to his position on standing vs. sitting, let’s see what he says about the word eikev. And taka he disagrees with Rashi and suggests that the mitzvois to which Rashi refers, are good deeds above and beyond the strict letter of the law. In other words: those performed “lifnim-mishuras-hadin.” The RBSO promises us rewards which include prosperity when we not only observe the mitzvois, but also demonstrate a willingness to perform them beyond the minimum required mode of piety.
Another view: says the Kesav Soifer so gishmak azoy: the first three words of the parsha -V’hoyo-ekev-tishm’un-mean that if afterwards, you will listen…”and vos meynt dos (what does that mean?) Pshat is azoy: the Yiddin are bidden to listen and to understand, only after their actual performance of the commandments. As the verse continues, “… ushmartem-va’asisem-oisom…” The heylige Toirah speaks of reward only if we first perform the mitzvois and only thereafter seek to chap why and what the rationale might be for their observance. In other words: it’s na’seh v’nishma. First we do them then we ask questions.
After 40 full years of trials and tribulations, during which Moishe sadly had to witness scandals, meltdowns, rebellions and nebech much more –even some mixed dancing with the Moabite shiksas say it’s not so please- Moishe is mamish totally exasperated with the Yiddin. And if the stick hasn’t worked the way it should have, if you chap, it may be time for honey. Moishe is ready for a new approach: bribery. Avada we all chap that reward programs and other forms of bribery always seem to get a response, usually quite an impressive one.
And long before American Express and the airline industry came up with rewards programs, here in Parshas Eikev, Moishe has its first iteration. Says he: if the Yiddin will do good (by keeping the Toirah) and trust the RBSO, they will be rewarded with many blessings. “This shall be the reward when [Eikev] you hearken to these ordinances and you observe and perform them… The RBSO will love you, bless you and multiply you, and bless the fruit of your womb… there will be no barren men or women amongst you…” (Devarim 7:12-14). Fertility and material success are serious issues and the RBSO knows just what buttons to push to get our attention.
And just to make sure he would taka get a response, Moishe, brilliant still at the advanced age of 120, takes it up a notch with another stroke of genius: he will lay the guilt on the Yiddin, an affliction we’ve been cursed with ever since. This final part of his strategy was mamish brilliant. Here’s how it worked. He reminds the Yiddin of every single misdeed over the past 40 years. Remember what you did 40 years ago with the eygel? Likely they didn’t, because those sinners were long dead and buried. Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop Moishe from making the others feel giferlich about what took place. Moishe regurgitated every ugly detail. Do you remember that you cost us 38 years of valgering (wandering) here in the midbar because you wanted to send spies to check out the land and then spoke loshoin horo about Eretz Yisroel? Those perpetrators were also long dead, but he reminded the next generation anyway. You owe me and the RBSO!! And do you remember how good the RBSO was to you despite your less than admirable behavior? Moishe, just like the eishes chayil does regularly (as mentioned in previous editions,) becomes “historical” and reminds the Yiddin over and again in this week’s Parsha of their checkered past – yikes- and how undeserving they were of the RBSO’s good graces and blessings. Such reminders are very unpleasant, if you chap.
He then reminds the Yiddin about all the chasodim (underserved rewards) the RBSO already paid forward, including: redemption from Mitzrayim and slavery, the more than excellent albeit a shtikel boring menu of Munn that fell for 40 years, clothing that never shrunk, wore out or got dirty, plentiful water – most of the time-, and the various local women they chapped and enjoyed, even local zoinas (whores) at various stops. Avada you recall what a portion of the Yiddin did when they laid their eyes and more on the seductive Moabite girls, rachmono-litzon (heaven forbid). Shoin. And how did the Yiddin repay these favors to the RBSO? They didn’t, and continued throughout the entire 40 year ordeal to find new and imaginative ways to anger the RBSO. Are we a tough bunch or what? Doing the right thing seems to be problematic for the Yiddin, what else is new?
Ober (but) says Moishe: the party is over, those miracles are behind us and new rewards need to be earned, and are all contingent promises based on one word, ‘eikev’, hence the Parsha’s name; meaning if or because or in exchange for or on account of. In other words, it’s a deal. Of course Yiddin love a deal, even if, at times, they get snookered. If the Yiddin behave and follow the RBSO’s ways, good things will happen. Otherwise it’s curtains, and maybe that’s why the parsha also has the second paragraph of the Shema. Meaning that if the Yiddin don’t behave, they had better start praying and davening, and what better prayer more universally known than the Shema?
A gittin Shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv