Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is Moshiach Always Shayech [relevant]?

I've been davening in a Nusach-Sfard (chasidic-style) shtible lately, because it has a morning minyan at a convenient time (7:45) without another mourner competing for leading the prayers.

I was chatting with the gabbai about my confusion between the Nusach Ashkenaz and Nusach Sfard texts, that Nusach Sfard has a lot of extra words stuck in. He commented that he once said the extra phrase in Kaddish, "Vayatzmach Purkanei Vikareiv Meshicheih" (his redemption will flower and his Messiah will draw near) at a Nusach Ashkenaz place, and they came down on him hard for it*.

At any rate, the gabbai was puzzled, who wouldn't want to invoke the Final Redemption during Kaddish?

I just came up with an answer. Look at the Kaddish. Aside from the phrase in question, it's all about God's existence, kingship, praiseworthiness, and relationship with Israel. Basically, expanding on "Baruch atah H' Elokeinu melech haolam." It's said by mourners largely as a defiant expression of their continuing belief in God in the face of ultimate tragedy, the destruction of one of the pillars of their personal worldview - one's parent.

So my return question is - while we're proclaiming the greatness of God, how is mentioning an earthly king appropriate?

* They may have feared he was a Lubavitcher, many of whom practice what I call "cultural imperialism" - they will insist on praying their nusach when leading prayers in a non-Lubavitch synagogue. Actually, I find this is mostly the position of ignorant lay Lubavitchers, while trained Lubavitch cantors who know the halacha will use the local nusach.


Anonymous said...

i think it represents cultural hegemony and stating that Others are inferior nusach-wise to the prime expression of RBSO's desire of tfila--which is nusach ARI...

Litvak said...

Thank you for raising an important point, which gives an opening to discuss some related important issues as well.

With regard to the main subject of the post, namely the bafflement of certain people as to why kaddish in nusach Ashkenaz does not contain the additional phrase 'viyatzmach purkonei viykoreiv meshichei' which is added by some -

From what I have heard and read, my response is as follows.

1) It is not part of the original nusach. The oldest siddur we have, siddur Rav Amram Gaon, does not have it in the kaddish (hear in a shiur from Rav Binyomin Hamburger shlit"a). The later siddur Rav Saadia Gaon does have it, but Rav Amram Gaon was some time earlier.

2) The Aruch Hashulchan offers the following explanation (expanded and expounded by your's truly).

The idea of kaddish is praying for the glory of the messianic age, after milchemes gog umagog, from where the language yisgadal veyiskadash comes from, based on a phrase in a posuk in novi about that time, which says 'venisgadalti veniskadashti'.

Moshiach is not G-d, Moshiach is rather a means by which the era of 'vihaya Hashem limelech al kol haaretz' is brought about. So when we say yisgadal veyoskadash and ask 'veyamlich malchusei', may the kingdom of Hashem rule on earth, bechayeichon uveyomeichon uvichayei dichol beis Yisroel....soon...we are already asking for the messianic age. Therefore it is meyusor, extra, and unnecessary to say so again in more words, with veyatzmach...(recall that in general, esp. in nusach Ashkenaz, brevity is prized and preferred over verbosity).

I could say more on the matter, but limit my remarks now.

As to your proposed answer, it's creative, but falls short in my opinion. Recall that the kaddish wasn't originally a mourner's prayer. It only became that, in the popular mind, later.

Litvak said...

The attitude of the gabbai is a typical Hassidic attitude. People who are ignorant can find the gabbai's questiont baffling, but nusach Ashkenaz is a deep and ancient mesorah, so better to assume that there is something you don't know when not understanding something in it.

I can definitely understand why they came down hard on the gabbai for deviating from the nusach of the minyan, as many Hassidim have the attitude that their nusach is superior, and try to undermine the holy, ancient, and beautiful nusach Ashkenaz when they can. Not only Lubavitchers.

Perhaps it is because they feel guilt and feel they have to justify the Hassidic movement's abandonment of it.

Litvak said...

In general, davening (even when not leading the services) in a place that davens a different nusach can be confusing, disorienting, and damaging to kavonnoh, so I feel and recommend against such 'cross-cultural' experiences, even is a local shtiebel minyan factory seems convenient. You may seemingly gain some quantity, e.g. more kaddeishim, more words in 'Sfard', by going there, but you lose in quality of davening and adherence to the ancient nusach of Ashkenazic Jews.

Quality trumps quantity.

Litvak said...

See also

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

עדות הצפון: אשכנז ובני רומי
וימליך מלכותיה

עדות המזרח והמערב
וימליך מלכותיה ויצמח פורקניה ויקרב משיחיה

עדות הדרום: תכלאל תימן בלדי
וימליך מלכותיה ויצמח פורקניה ויקרב משיחיה ויפרוק עמיה

וימליך מלכותיה ויצמח פורקניה ויקרב משיחיה ויפרוק עמיה ברחמתיה

Litvak said...

Hey Steg, nice to 'see' you. No more blogging for you?

Seder Rav Amram Gaon, which I cited earlier, goes back over 1100 years I believe, by the way.

Another interesting point which I personally observed at a Yemenite minyan, is that although they say viyatzmach...they don't answer amein after that segment, (after meshichei), unlike others who say it. Perhaps they only answer amein where the text itself orders it, e.g. with the words veimru amein.

Litvak said...

The phenomenon of Chassidim going into Ashkenaz Shuls and not respecting the nusach there, goes back to the early days of Chassidus. There is a story, in Shivchei haBesht no less, about such a case over two hundred years ago. Featuring it there does grant it a certain prominence and it is not condemned. It seems to be related more in an approving way.

Evidently certain Chassidim revel in such behavior, though of course others act more respectfully. I didn't see mention of it being a Lubavitcher there either, by the way.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Yeah, no more blogging... it stopped being fun after a while, but i can't completely keep away :-)

After i was in grad school in Israel and went frequently to a Yemenite shul Friday night (went back there finally a few weeks ago) and learned about their nusaḥ, i developed the habit of responding ויפרוק עמיה instead of אמן when in a place davening Nusaḥ Pseudo-Sfard and they say ויצמח פורקניה ויקרב משיחיה. Now that i learned about Romaniote's further extension, sometimes i throw in ברחמתיה too, especially when it feels relevant like for a קדיש יתום.

Joe in Australia said...

Speaking for myself, I find that I have "my" nusach programmed in and it is incredibly hard for me to recite anything different - even if I have the text before me. The solution, frankly, is for Ashkenazim in an Ashkenaz minyan to be more sprightly when descending to daven and not leave it up to the poor Chabad bochrim who are trying to help out.

thanbo said...

Do the Yemenites have

יהא שלמא רבא מן שמיא, חיים ושבע וישועה ונחמה ושיזבא ורפואה וגאולה וסליחה וכפרה, ורוח והצלה לנו ולכל עמו ישראל, ואמרו אמן"

The old guys at S&P practically used to shout ורוח. Who doesn't want parnossa, after all?

Dov said...

I just davened a lunchtime mincha in Rehovot. The shatz today was Teimani, and he certainly added the extra stuff in the Yehei Shlomo stich. Don't know if he is Baladi or Shami.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


I think so, but i think it's not the same... don't remember exactly.

dan said...

in the book hasidic prayer by louis jacobs, he talks about the argument over different nusachim, specifically the hasidim switching from nusach ashkenazi to the nusach sephardi used by chabad which i believe is the nusach of the ari. the end of the argument between the rabbis was that in the end whatever nusach you use is ok - it all goes to the same place.

Litvak said...

It is brought from the Arizal that there are twelve gates in heaven and each shevet has it's own way, nusach (based on a description in navi of there being twelve gates in the beis hamikdash for the different shevotim). It goes on to state from him that if someone davens with a nusach that it is not his, ein tefillaso oleh limaalah - his tefillah does not ascend on high.

So it is not a light matter of 'everything goes', as you seem to believe.

Joe in Australia said...

Litvak, R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi ZY"A (the "alter rebbe" of Lubavitch) certainly knew of this Arizal, and wrote his siddur anyway.

Litvak said...

Joe, you are giving what is presumably the Lubavitcher point of view, I am giving the Ashkenazic shitah.

The Lubavitcher nusach is not so old. Yidden managed for so many generations without it, davening nusach Ashkenaz. Gedolei olam like Rashi, Rosh, Rama, Bach, Taz, etc., whose teachings we follow as hayom hazeh. Why a sudden switch some 235 years ago or so, which is a not so long ago in Jewish history?

Litvak said...

Non-typo version of the above -

Joe, you are giving what is presumably the Lubavitcher point of view, I am giving the Ashkenazic shitah.

The Lubavitcher nusach is not so old. Yidden managed for so many generations without it, davening nusach Ashkenaz. Gedolei olam like Rashi, Rosh, Rama, Bach, Taz, etc., whose teachings we follow ad hayom hazeh. Why a sudden switch some 235 years ago or so, which is not so long ago in Jewish history?

Joe in Australia said...

We also follow the teachings of the Rebbe R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi ("the Rav") ZTz"L in many areas. Why would this be the case if poskim thought that the Rav was wrong to write his siddur?

Furthermore, are you so sure that "your" nusakh is Ashkenaz? Perhaps your ancestors came from Spain? Or from Italy, or Rome, or Cologne or wherever?

Litvak said...

Hi Joe -

Most Jews do not daven with the Alter Rebbe's siddur. It seems that down under in certain places Lubavitch is strong and dominant, so you may be under the mistaken impression that that is the case all over as well, that Lubavitch controls things, but it ain't so mate. ;-)

I am an Ashkenazic Jew. No family traditions or stories that I have heard of dealing with Spain.

Perhaps Italy, Rome and Cologne are somewhere way back in my family's past, but hey, there were Ashkenazic Jews in those places! If you know the history of Ashkenazic Jewry, it did not start in Russia or Lithuania, FYI....

Nancy said...

I liked your post. You have raised an important point.

Keep blogging!!

This is Nancy from Israeli Uncensored News