Monday, October 05, 2009

Sukkot stories

Sometimes I think that every synagogue needs a soundproof room for those who, as the old joke goes, come to shul to talk to Moish, not to talk to G-d. We could certainly have used one last Friday night, when the yakking from the folks who came to eat dinner in the sukkah, but not to pray, made it almost impossible for us pray-ers to focus on Maariv/Evening Service.

We could also have used one for the politician who graciously accepted our (president's, probably) invitation to join us in our sukkah for dinner (on our tab, of course) and then rather ungraciously proceeded to talk our ears off for roughly 20 minutes straight, instead of having the good grace to sit down and shut up after five minutes or so. Okay, we all know that, from your perspective, this was just another campaign stop, but, really, did you have to be so blatant about it?

But the real "fun" came on Sunday morning, when some wiseguy raided our sukkah for a full glass of wine and then proceeded to stand in the synagogue lobby drinking it until the police were called.

On the plus side, my Kaddish minyan may be far more pleasant than usual this week. Until today, I was following my husband's minhag/custom of laying tefillin without a brachah/blessing on Chol HaMoed, the "intermediate days" of Sukkot and Pesach, when one is permitted to work (if necessary) and to do other normal weekday acts (traveling, cooking, turning electrical appliances on and off, etc.). This is one of those "two Jews, three opinions" things: Some say that one shouldn't lay tefillin at all during Chol HaMoed. As of today, however, I'm no longer wearing tefillin during Chol HaMoed: When I walked into my Kaddish morning this morning, I looked around, to check out the local minhag, and saw that absolutely no one was wearing tefillin--and I'm not going to "out-frum" the rabbi. So I'll have no more worries about getting my tefillin off in time for Hallel. Better yet, since I finished the Amidah prayer during the Hallel psalms, and finished Hallel during the k'riat haTorah/Torah reading, I was actually right on time to start the Heicheh Kedusha of the Musaf Amidah with the minyan! Ah, five days straight of actually being on time to say Kedusha! I've only been on time to say Kedusha with this minyan once before, so this'll be a real treat.


Anonymous jdub said...

I follow my father's minhag. Since he didn't wear tefillin on chol ha'moed, neither do I. Then again, he never wears tefillin, but I draw the line there.

Tue Oct 06, 08:06:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Jdub: You are me and I claim my 5 pounds. This (abstention from tefillin on Chol Hamoed) is one of the few minhagim of kabbalist origin I follow, principally because I came to it through my own reasoning rather than al pi kabbalah.

We don't wear tefillin on Shabbat because tefillin are an 'ot' (sign) and so is Shabbat ('ot hi l'olam to quote V'shamru).
I consider matzah and the sukkah/4 species to also be signs of their respective holidays even during chol hamoed, and thus don't feel the need for tefillin as an extra sign.

BTW Shira, congrats on keeping up with the minyan. Looking foward to seeing you in the sukkah.

Tue Oct 06, 09:40:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

JDub, I've been following my husband's minhag because *my* father doesn't wear tefillin, either.

Larry, great minds think alike. :) I remember thinking the same thing yesterday, when I saw that no one, including the rabbi, was wearing tefillin: We already have the lulav and etrog (and the sukkah, for that matter) as signs for Sukkot, so it seems logical that we shouldn't need any more. I like your take on matzah being a sign for Pesach, obviating the need to wear tefillin on Chol haMoed Pesach.

The Punster and I are looking forward to joining you and ME in your sukkah tonight. Thanks for the invitation!

Tue Oct 06, 11:44:00 AM 2009  
Anonymous jdub said...

when I was at JTS, I asked the most traditional rabbi there what I should do. He said (and picture this with a heavy yiddish accent) There are three minhagim. You can wear the tefillin mit the brakha. You can wear the tefillin without the brakha, or you don't wear tefillin at all. Now, what does your father do?

I replied "he doesn't wear tefillin." Rav X said "that's what you should do." I said "he never wears tefillin." Rav X said "no, no, no, don't do that, chas v'shalom! don't do that."

So, many of my minhagim come from my father. I don't say a brakha on hallel by Yom ha'atzma'ut because he doesn't either. I don't say tachanun then, because he doesn't.

Tue Oct 06, 12:39:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I always wear something white on Yom Kippur, even if it's only a white blouse, because wearing white on YK was my mother's minhag. My father may not be very observant, but he always insisted on reading the entire Haggadah (albeit in English), even though half the guests left after dinner--I've always appreciated the fact that he stuck to his guns on that issue.

I guess the main minhag I got from my father and late mother was to try to give my kid a better Jewish education than I got, just as my parents made great efforts to ensure that my siblings and I got a better Jewish education than either of them had gotten. Given my son's special ed. needs at the time, I don't know how well I succeeded in following that minhag, but it wasn't for lack of effort.

Tue Oct 06, 01:08:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Paternal minhagim ME and I keep;
1) 3 hours between meat and milk(*)

2) Glass is intrinsically pareve (i.e., does not absorb), even for hot

3) No tefillin on chol hamoed :>)

4) Visiting graves in Ellul (maternal minhag)

(*)This is my grandparent's custom, my parents' followed 'minhag america' - finish meat meal, guests retire to living room while table is cleaned, new table cloth and dairy settings put in, approximately 1 hour later (dairy) dessert is served. This actually conforms to the minimum standard in the talmud, but isn't used today by any Orthodox group as far as I know.

Tue Oct 06, 01:24:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Tzipporah said...

Oh dear. Does this mean I should follow MY father's minhag and be agnostic? ;)

Tue Oct 06, 01:34:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Larry, I've heard that waiting one hour between meat and dairy is a Dutch minhag, but I don't know whether that's true. "This actually conforms to the minimum standard in the talmud, but isn't used today by any Orthodox group as far as I know." Maybe the "chumra-of-the-month club" is older than we thought. :)

Tzip, good one. :)

Tue Oct 06, 01:45:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous jdub said...

Dutch who know what they're doing wait 72 minutes (presumably, the longest "seasonal hour"). The Shulhan Arukh actually lays out only two scenarios, 1 hour or 6 hours. 3 hours (German) has no support in the text, although some think it derives from either 6 of the shortest sha'ot zmaniyot (seasonal hours), or perhaps it comes from the distance between one meal and the next in a place where people ate lunch and/or high tea. Who knows? They're Germans, they can't/won't change any way.

Tue Oct 06, 02:39:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

JDub, Steg blogged about the mystery of the waiting times between meat and dairy here.

Tue Oct 06, 05:27:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous jdub said...

I've seen that, but I think he's mistaken in assuming Yekke minhag is derived from the position of the Tosafot (and therefore "frummer" than them), although that might be the humorous part of the post. I think it's more likely related to sha'ot zmaniyot or simply to custom. Attempting to find a textual source for 3 hours has bedeviled historians of halacha for some time. Usually they just throw up their hands and say "Germans, feh."

Wed Oct 07, 07:21:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Shira I've been looking for Steg's post for months, but I had misremembered it as having been written by someone else, most likely Mah Rabu. Thanks for pointing it out.

We had a great time with you and and your husband last night. I hope you're not too exhausted today. :>)

Wed Oct 07, 09:05:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Larry, glad to steer you in the right direction.

Thanks so much to you and Malka Esther for last night's dinner in your sukkah. 'Twas a feast worthy of a festival, and in such fine company, too. Some things are worth being exhausted for. :)

Wed Oct 07, 02:37:00 PM 2009  

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