21 February, 2018 18:11

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מנהגים

Liturgy (Piyutim)

On certain occasions piyutim are chanted during pesuqé dezimra:

On Shabat Shira and the Seventh Day of Pesah the piyut "Ashira keShirat Moshé" is sung before Shirat haYam (The Song on the Sea).

On Shabat Zakhor the piyut "Mi Khamokha" is chanted during Nishmat.

On Rosh haShana and Yom Kipur special piyutim are chanted after Shirat haYam, before Yishtabah, and between Yishtabah and the Qadish.

The minhag of inserting piyutim into the prayers is actually quite ancient, dating back at least to the times of Ribi Yehuda haLevi (c. 1000-1100 CE) who penned the piyut "Mi Khamokha" for Shabat Zakhor and instituted its recital in the middle of Nishmat Kol Hai.

Several Rishonim, among them the Ri miGash (d. 1141), the Rashba (d. 1310), and the Radbaz (d. 1573), attest that this was the custom in their time, showing no sign of disapproval.

Nevertheless, this custom was met with sharp, repeated critique by later halakhic authorities, all challenging the halakhic basis for this custom, as it constitutes a forbidden interruption (hefseq) in the prayers.

Though Maran instructs in the Shulhan ‘Arukh (O"H §68:1) that it is best to refrain from including liturgy in the Blessings of Qeriat Shema’, he makes no mention of adding liturgy in Pesuqé deZimra. The determining factor for allowing liturgy in Pesuqé deZimra is whether or not there exists a prohibition to add praises or Tehilim to those instituted by the Sages as Pesuqé deZimra.

The Hida in Tub ‘Ayin (§18:35) cites the opinion of Ribi David Hayim Corinaldi in this matter, denouncing the practice of those who reserved the recital of liturgy intended for Pesuqé deZimra (e.g. Ribi Yehuda haLevi’s Mi Khamokha) until after the repetition of the ‘Amida; arguing that the Tur and Maran only took issue with adding liturgy to the Blessings of Qeriat Shema’. The simple logic behind Ribi Corinaldi’s judgment seems to be that, since Pesuqé deZimra were instituted as praises to G-d, additional praises, such as the piyutim, should not be deemed an interruption therein. Still, the Hida rules that liturgy may not be added to Pesuqé deZimra, explaining that these praises were carefully arranged by the Sages in accordance with Qabala and are thus strictly unchangeable

Maghen Abot – e"H Ribi Mordekhai Lebhar s"t

The Minhag in our Bet Hakeneset, which is the Spanish & Portuguese Minhag, is to say the Piyut Mi Chamoch in the middle of NISHMAT

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This Shabbat, (the Shabbat immediately before Purim) is called Shabbat Zachor.שבת זכור.
The Maftir, (additional reading), from Deut. / Devarim, Parshat Ki-Teitze, (25:17-19), deals with the commandment to "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way, upon your departure from Mitzrayim (Egypt)…. … how they perpetrated a cowardly and unprovoked attack… You shall erase the memory of Amalek from the heavens, you shall not forget."

This commandment, to remember Amalek, is one of the 613 commandments. It is incumbent, therefore, upon every person to attend services on ShabbosZachor in order to hear this special reading and remember its message.

What is the connection between erasing the memory of Amalek and Purim? The wicked Haman, who intended to destroy all the Jews in one day and claim their spoils, was the descendant of Agag who was the king of Amalek in the time of King Shaul. Thus we know that Haman was from Amalek. This is why our sages ordained carrying out the commandment of remembering to erase the memory of Amalek before Purim. Zachor means remember – "Remember… do not forget!"

HAFTARA: (which is read after the Parsha) Samuel 1 / Shmuel I 15:2-34

This week’s Haftorah takes place 2,873 years ago. In the year 2883 – 878 b.c.e. Shmuel conveys to King Shaul Hashem’s command to wage battle against Amalek, and to leave no survivors–neither human nor beast. Shaul mobilizes his military and attacks Amalek. They kill the entire population with the exception of the king, Agag, and they also spare the best of the cattle and sheep.

Hashem reveals Himself to Shmuel. "I regret that I have made Shaul king, for he has turned back from following Me, and he has not fulfilled My words."

The next morning Shmuel travels to Shaul and confronts him. Shaul defends himself, saying that the cattle were spared to be used as sacrificial offerings for Hashem. Shmuel responds: "Does Hashem have as great a delight in burnt offerings and peace-offerings, as in obeying the voice of Hashem? Behold, to obey is better than a peace-offering; to listen, than the fat of rams. . . . Since you rejected the word of Hashem, He has rejected you from being a king."

Shaul admits his wrongdoing and invites Shmuel to join him on his return home. Shmuel refuses his offer. "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you, today; and has given it to your fellow who is better than you." Shmuel then kills the Amalek king.

The commentaries state that in the interim, Agag was able to marry a maidservant, from which the nation of Amalek would survive.

The connection to Purim is well documented. Haman is called, "the Agagi". He was a direct descendant of Agag. In ascertaining Hashem’s mercy and justice, we are forced to acknowledge our limited understanding. The notion of killing men woman and children is thankfully foreign and abhorrent to us. Nevertheless, Shaul was commanded to eradicate the entire nation.

The Haftorah identifies Shaul’s sin in not fulfilling Hashem’s commandment as misplaced mercy. Had he known that, 521 years later, his merciful act would result in the potential extermination of the entire Jewish people, Shaul would not have had mercy on Agag and the cattle. It is the responsibility of a king to think beyond the immediate and do what has to be done to guarantee the future of his nation. Being that no single human can ever guarantee the future, he has no choice but to listen to Hashem’s commandments and do as he is told. That ensures the future.

The message of Purim is the story of our Haftorah. Hashem works His miracles through the normal passage of time. Actions done today set in motion ripples in time that radiate far into the future.

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Q & A on Parashat Tetzave

All references are to the verses and Rashi’s commentary, unless otherwise stated.

  1. What two precautions were taken to assure the purity of oil for the menorah?
    27:20 – The olives were pressed and not ground, and only the first drop was used.
  2. How was Aharon commanded to kindle the menorah?
    27:20 – He was commanded to kindle it until the flame ascended by itself.
  3. What does tamid mean in reference to the menorah?
    27:20 – It means that it should be kindled every night.
  4. What does kehuna mean?
    28:3 – Service.
  5. Name the eight garments worn by the Kohen Gadol.
    28:4,36,42 – Choshen, ephod, me’il, ketonet, mitznefet, avnet, tzitz, and michnasayim.
  6. To what does Rashi compare the ephod?
    28:6 – A woman’s riding garment.
  7. In which order were the names of the Tribes inscribed on the ephod?
    28:10 – In order of birth.
  8. The stones of the ephod bore the inscription of the names of the sons of Yaakov. Why?
    28:12 – So that G-d would see their names and recall their righteousness.
  9. For what sins did the choshen mishpat atone?
    28:15 – For judicial errors.
  10. What are three meanings of the word mishpat?
    28:15 –
    (i) The claims of the litigants,
    (ii) The court’s ruling,
    (iii) The court’s punishment.
  11. What was lacking in the bigdei kehuna in the second Beit Hamikdash?
    28:30 – The Urim V’Tumim