OF THE SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE
JEWS' CONGREGATION, LONDON
A Guide for Parnasim
G. H. WHITEHILL
An Elder of the Congregation
Thesoureiro do Heshaim
PRINTED FOR THE SOCIETY OF HESHAIM
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, OXFORD
INTRODUCTION PART 1. NOTES ON THE MITSVOT
THE SABBATH MITSVOT Keriat Ha-Torah The Aliyot Other Shabbat Mitsvot
Hashcabot, Rogativa, Ha-gomel The Haphtarah THE THREE FESTIVALS New Year and the Day of Atonement
PART II. THE TASK OF THE PARNAS
THE THREE FESTIVALS
THE NEW YEAR
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
THE FAST OF AB
A. THE RITUAL OF THE MITSVOT
CALLED TO THE SEPHER
C. HAPHTAROT RESTRICTED TO MEN OVER FORTY
YEARS OF AGE, OR MARRIED
D. LIST OF MITSVOT FOR NEW YEAR AND THE DAY OF
Part I, therefore, sets out some brief explanatory notes on them Missvot, and Part II then proceeds to offer suggestions on the points which the Parnas has to bear in mind. The explanatory notes in Part I are by no means intended as a complete exposition of the subject, for that would require a whole volume. They are confined, indeed, to the barest minimum which is indispensable to a proper understanding of those parts of the service which chiefly concern the person presiding. If we have allowed ourselves an occasional digression, that is due to the interesting nature of the subject. The actual mode of performance of the Mitsvot is explained in Appendix A (The Ritual of the Mitsvot). Appendix A is in fact a revision of a leaflet published in 1948 by the Society of Heshaim, in the preparation of which the Reverend David Bueno de Mesquita, the former Senior Hazan of the Congregation, played a leading part.
In preparing this booklet I have received valuable suggestions and criticisms from virtually all the Inspectors of the Society of Heshaim, to whom I am accordingly most grateful. The Haham of the Congregation, Dr. S. Gaon, and the Reverend E. S. Abinum have helped and corrected me on many points; and I have to acknowledge a particular obligation to Rabbi Abraham Levy, who has guided me with the greatest patience at almost every step.
NOTES ON THE MITSVOT
THE SABBATH MITSVOT
THE Jewish liturgy consists of two basic elements-praise and petition. To these is added, on Sabbaths and on certain other days, a third element, that of instruction., This instruction, the earliest example of what would today be called adult education, consists chiefly in public readings from the Bible and the Talmud; and the Mitsvot are principally, though not exclusively, associated with the scriptural readings. It is worth noting that the blessings we say on being called to the Sepher are expressed not only in the past tense ('who hast given us Thy Torah, and hast planted eternal life within us'), but are continued into the present tense ('Noten ha-Torah', that is, 'who givest us the Torah'). We thank God not only for the original revelation at Sinai, but also for the continuous revelation which we believe is granted to us every time we read and study the Torah afresh.
There may be no public reading from the Torah, unless at least ten men (Minyan) over the age of thirteen are present. This rule is founded on the belief expressed in the Mishna,2 that when ten people sit together to study the Torah, the Divine Presence (Shechina) abides among them. There may also be a reference to the ten spies (called 'an evil Congregation', Joshua and Caleb being excluded),3 or, again, to the ten righteous men whose presence Abraham suggested in the Cities of the Plain.4
We confine ourselves here to the Sabbath observance, since the weekday ritual is similar, though naturally less elaborate.
We read the Torah from the unpainted text, because the pointing was the work of the Massoretes, and was carried out from the fourth century onwards, only after the final fixing of the canon of the Bible. We have to read from the original text (or a copy thereof), without Massoretic or other notes, vowels, or marks of intonation (Ta'amim); if we use, for public reading, a text in which these appear, we thereby diminish the holiness of the reading. For public reading an unpainted text is essential, and the use of such text does not (as is sometimes thought) involve an unnecessary effort of memory on the part of the reader.
The ancient Palestinian custom was to complete the reading of the Torah over a period of three years (the so-called triennial cycle), and this persisted in Palestine until the thirteenth century. Under this system each weekly portion was called a Sidra or Sedra, a term still used for it by the Ashkenazim, although they adopted the Babylonian custom (which we also follow) of reading the whole Torah through once every year. Our use of the word Parashah (or Perashah)6 to denote both the complete weekly reading, and also each of the seven sub-divisions thereof, is confusing.
The custom of calling up members of the congregation to read a portion of the Law goes back at least to Talmudic times. This Mitsvah is called an Aliya (literally, a going up).
On Sabbath, seven persons are called up; on Kippur, six; on the three Festivals and on Rosh Hashana, five; on Rosh Hodesh, four; and on weekdays and in the Sabbath and holy day Minha services, three. Various fanciful explanations of these numbers have been put forward, but the general principle is that the more important the day, the more people are called up.
In Jewish lore seven is the sacred, the perfect, and the lucky number. Apart from the seven days of creation and rest, we have the seventh year of release, the seven lamps, the seven blessings of marriage, and so on. There were seven heavens, too: whence the English expression 'the seventh heaven of delight'. But the principal reason for the sanctity of this number is undoubtedly its association with the Sabbath-the most important and, in a sense, the most ancient of all Jewish holy days; for, according to Genesis ii, the seventh day was blessed and sanctified, at the very time of the creation. For this reason, when any of the holy days falls on the Sabbath, seven persons are called up, irrespective of what has been written above, to emphasize its overwhelming importance; and when, on such occasions, we thank God for sanctifying the Sabbath, Israel, and the holy day, we always mention them in that order, with the Sabbath first.
Originally, the man called up read his own portion. The first man said the opening blessing ('who has chosen us') and then read his portion, but he did not say the concluding blessing ('who has planted eternal life'). The rest of the seven were then called and read their portions without saying any blessing, except for the seventh or last man, who, after reading his portion, said the concluding blessing. But later, when some of the men called up were found to be unable to read their own portions, this procedure was thought unsatisfactory, for it might mean that only the first and the last man said anything at all: the rest being completely silent. Accordingly, our present custom was substituted, and each person says both blessings, but does not, as a rule, read his own Portion. According to an alternative explanations the change was made so that latecomers to the service could be sure of hearing both blessings. The Rabbis were well aware of the tendency (which survives to this day) to arrive after the start of the service.
Nowadays, the only persons who read their own portions in our Kahal are:
(a) The Haham or a Rabbi, when called up for the Ten Commandments in Yitro and Vaethanan, and on the first day of Pentecost; and when he is called up for the Song of Moses, in Beshallah and on the seventh day of Passover.
(b) The Hazan, when given the Mitsvah of calling himself up.
(c) The Bar Mitsvah,
(d) the Hatan Torah and Hatan Bereshit, and
(e) A Shaliah (emissary) from the Land of Israel.
If a Cohen is present, he is called first, not so much on account of the prominent part that the Cohanim played in the Temple service, nor because of any inherent sanctity, but rather because traditionally he was regarded as the teacher and guide of the people. This idea is a very old one, and is stressed by the prophet Malachi., The importance of education, particularly of one's children, is repeatedly stressed in the Bible.
Indeed some Rabbis hold that if there is only one Cohen present, and he an ignorant man (Am ha-Aretz), and if there is also present a Talmid Haham (a learned scholar), it would be proper to ignore the ignorant Cohen and to call in his place the scholar; but in our London Congregation, we generally call the Cohen first (if one is present), irrespective of his knowledge or lack of it. It should be repeated, however, that the public reading of the Law is essentially educational in its purpose, and for that very reason it is deemed to be the most important part of the service .2 A Levi is called up second, since by tradition he helped or supported the Cohen. If when a Cohen has been called there is no Levi present the same Cohen is called again for the second portion.
After these two first portions, the third is generally considered (in our Congregation-other customs obtain elsewhere) the most honorific, as being the first Parashah available to an ordinary Israelite. The seventh portion, called Mashlim (i.e. completing), is the next most prized, since it used to carry (and still carries in many congregations) the privilege of reading the Kaddeesh Le'ela, which is said immediately after the seventh Parashah, to mark the completion of the Mitsvah of reading the Law. But in our Kahal, this Kaddeesh is always said by the Hazan.
The sixth portion called Samuch (i. e. near to the seventh ranks after the seventh. Thereafter come the fourth and fifth, in that order. A Bar Mitsvah is usually given the fifth portion.
The institution of the Bar Mitsvah is hinted at in the Mishnah;, the custom as we now know it is medieval. The real Bar Mitsvah ceremony takes place not on the Sabbath, but on the Monday or Thursday prior to the thirteenth Hebrew birthday, when the boy lays his Tephilin and is called up for the first time. Our custom is to call the boy again for the fifth portion on the following Sabbath, but if the fifth portion is too long or otherwise unsuitable, it may be abbreviated (to not less than three verses) or another portion may be read instead. If the boy is a Cohen or Levi, he will naturally read the first or second portion. The recital of Dr. Artom's prayer is no longer obligatory in our synagogues, but is rarely omitted.
The titles used in announcing the Mitsvot and in calling up to the Law are in most cases peculiar to London (e.g. Gebir, for a married man, Bahur for a bachelor, Aroos for an engaged man, Hatan for a man on the morning of his wedding and the ensuing week, Abi ha-ben for a man to whom a son has been born, Ba'al ha-Berit if the Milah is on the day he is called, Abi ha-Bat on the birth of a daughter, and so on).
Other Mitsvot Connected with the Sepher
The following are the Hebrew, Portuguese, and English descriptions of these Mitsvot.
Abot v. 2 i.
Petihat ha-Echal Que abrira as Portas do Opening the Echal
Mitsvat Sepher Que levara o Sepher Carrying the Sepher
Torah or Hotsa'at Torah
Halvayat ha-Sepher Que accompanhara o Accompanying the
Sepher Torah Sepher
Ets Haim Que fara Heshaim do Bells
Gelila Que desenfaxara o Bands
Mareh ha-Ketav or Que levantara o Raising the Sepher
Hagbaha Sepher Torah
The reason why these Mitsvot were announced (and are still announced) by us in Portuguese, while the Aliyot are announced in Hebrew, can only be that the Kahal knew enough Hebrew at one time to recognize their names when the Torah was on the readingdesk, but did not know enough Hebrew to understand the announcement of the other Mitsvot!
These Mitsvot are the tasks necessary to take out the Sepher from the Echal, to prepare it for the reading, and to display it to the Kahal. The persons to whom they are allotted also discharge them, if they are present, in the afternoon service, and also on the following Monday and Thursday.
The Portas (Petiha) has acquired a symbolic significance; for the Echal represents the Aron ha-Kodesh (the ark of the covenant) which formerly stood in the Temple. As the Torah is the most sacred possession of the Jews, the Echal is the most sacred part of the synagogue. To open the doors of the Echal is, symbolically, to open the doors of Heaven to our prayers, which thereby, we hope, will secure a more speedy acceptance; and this is why the doors of the Echal are opened on certain other occasions, as shown below. To carry the Sepher from the Echal to the Teba is an obvious and necessary part of the task for preparing for the reading.
The Mitsvot of the Bells and the Band were originally one, called Gelila (rolling), and simply completed the preparation of the Sepher for the reading, after it had reached the Tebah. At one time this Mitsvah was one of the most prized, as immediately preceding the reading (except, of course, for the raising). The Hebrew name for the Mitsvah of the Bells is Etz Haim (the Tree of Life), referring to the two wooden rollers on which the parchment is mounted. There is also an allusion to the verse from Proverbs (iii. 18) 'Wisdom is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her'. This is one of the verses sung during the procession to the Tebah.
The purpose of raising the Sepher is twofold: first, to enable the Kahal to see the scroll and to bow to it, and, secondly, to show that the correct Parashah is about to be read. In some Kehilot the Yad or pointer is held up to mark the place while the scroll is raised. In Bevis Marks synagogue, when the scroll is turned to the four points of the compass, a pause is made at each of the four points, sufficiently long to enable the worshippers in each direction to say, at each pause, the prescribed verse (Ve-Zot ha-Torah).
The Square Cloth
Between the reading of each portion the Sepher is rolled up and a square cloth is placed over it.
There are two reasons for this. First, because the Sepher should not be open when the persons standing by it are saying words which are not in the Torah (namely, the blessings, or a Hashcaba ), lest the Kahal might be led to believe that these extraneous matters were art of the Holy Writ. The second reason is connected p
with the quaint habit we have of attributing to certain of our ritual objects feelings or emotions, almost as if they were alive. Thus, by covering or rolling up the Sepher, we avoid the risk of affronting it, by making it listen to these extraneous matters: being covered up, it is able to ignore them. If it were left open or uncovered it might be put to shame (Bizzayon). There are other examples of this curious kind in our ritual.,
Our procedure in this connection is illogical, for not only do we roll up the Sepher, but we cover it as well: whereas to do one of these two things should be sufficient.
The earliest Biblical reference to prayers for the dead occurs in the Apocrypha . The Mishnah mentioned prayers of this kind,
and suggested that the souls of the dead might be saved through prayer and charity. Our present custom goes back to Gaonic times (about the tenth century), and the Rabbinic view is that such prayers are answered. They were said to be offered Limnuhat Nephesh (for the repose of the souls) and were frequently accompanied by gifts to charity. However, there are Rabbinic warnings against the undue prolongation or repetition of Hashcabot, on the quaint grounds that such excesses might result in the sins of the deceased becoming too evident before the Throne of Grace. A more prosaic objection to the recital of too many Hashcabot is that this makes the service too long and becomes oppressive to the Kahal (Torah Tsibur).
Compare the custom of closing the Echal during the priestly blessing (see below). Another interesting example occurs in the Kiddush over the wine and bread. During the blessing over the wine, the bread is covered by a cloth, lest it be affronted by having to take second place after the wine. But there is an alternative explanation, namely that the cloth is meant to remind us of the layer of dew which covered the manna (Exodus xvi. I3, 14).
We say a general Hashcabah for those who have died within the past eleven months, during the A4inha service on Sabbath, and also during the Kal Nidre service.
The form of these prayers now appearing in our Daily Book is a slightly abbreviated version of that which appeared in Gaster's book. Both forms, for men and women, consist of a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, but the proportion of Aramaic is much higher in the women's prayer. There is also a form for a child, but this is seldom used, it being considered preferable to include the child's name in a collective Hashcaba. The reason for this is the wish not to strike too sad a note in the service.
The titles given in Hashcabot are decided by the Haham or by his representative, after consultation with the Parnas Presidente.
Abudarham, writing in the fourteenth century, held that the reading of a portion from the Prophets originated in the time of the persecutions under Antiochus Epiphanes (I68 B.c.), because it was then forbidden to read the Torah, and a lesson from the Prophets was accordingly substituted for it. Talmudic passages, and also the New Testament3I (. luke iv. 17).offer evidence of the extreme antiquity of this custom.
Haphtarah means literally 'release' or 'dismissal'. This may refer to the fact that, at one time, the Haphtarah came at the end of the Morning Service, the Musaph being regarded as a separate service, read after the first meal of the day. More probably, however, the word refers to the conclusion, not of the service, but of the Biblical readings. if this is right, the word harks back to the dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducces. The Pharisees, in order to emphasize the divine inspiration of the prophetical books, sought to associate the Haphtarah as closely as possible with the Parasha, and accordingly called the Haphtarah the concluding part of the day's Biblical readings. This was contrary to the views of the Sadducees, who believed that only the Pentateuch was divinely inspired.
In order to emphasize the importance of the lessons from the Prophets, an additional person is called up, and the last few verses of the Parashah are repeated to him. The Kaddeesh Le'ela, however, is not said again after the repetition of these verses, for such repetition does not constitute an additional Mitsvah, and, for the same reason, the Maphtir is not usually called by name, but merely by the announcement 'Maphtir'. However, on days when two Sepharim are taken out and parashiyot are read from each of them (as on Rosh Hodesh, the special Sabbaths, the Festivals, New Year, and the Day of Atonement), the Kaddeesh Le'ela is said again after the Parashah from the second Sepher has been read, to mark the completion of this additional Mitsvah;l and on such days the Maphtir is called by name.
The Haphtarah normally contains an explicit reference to some event described in the week's Parashah, but it sometimes happens that the two readings bear nothing more than a general resemblance to each other in their contents:2 this is the case with most of the Haphtarot for the Holy Days. The Haphtarot for the three weeks preceding the Fast of Ab (the Haphtarot of Retribution) and the Haphtarot for the seven weeks following that Fast (the Haphtarot of Consolation) have no connection with the Parashiyot of those weeks. All these Haphtarot, and also the Haphtarot for the four special Sabbaths (Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, and Ahodesh) are read even if the day in question falls on Rosh Hodesh, or on the day before Rosh Hodesh. In such case, after reading the special Haphtarah, we add the first and last verses of the Haphtarah for Rosh Hodesh or Mahar Hodesh (the day before the New Moon), or of both, if it happens to be a Rosh Hodesh with two days falling on the Saturday and Sunday.
When two parashiyot are read together, the Haphtarah applicable to the second Parashah is read, except that when Ahare Mot and Kedoshim are thus combined, the Haphtarah of Abate Mot is said.
On the Festivals and the Yamim Noraim, the additional Parashah is an obligatory Mitsvah, because it describes the offerings to be made on those days.
Rogativa (Prayer for the Sick)
The earliest example of this type of prayer is to be found in the short but moving plea of Moses, when Miriam was smitten with leprosy, Elijah and Elisha also prayed for the recovery of children near to, or actually at, the point of death.2,
We have two forms of Rogativa. The first and longer appears in the Daily Prayer Book under the title Metsale-in le-Holim (one form for a man, and another for a woman). These consist of quotations from the Psalms, followed by prayers, partly in Aramaic, sung to a penitential chant (sometimes a form of change of name is added-a custom mentioned in the Talmud). This form of Rogativa is said immediately before Kaddeesh Titkabbal, with the doors of the Echal open. On weekdays it is said after Kaddeesh Titkabbal. This form of Rogativa is not usually said for a person over the age of seventy.
On account of their length, these forms are now but rarely used. More often a short Misheberah (including the words 'Refua
Shelema') is said immediately after the Sepher has been returned to the Echal, but while the doors are still open.
The Rabbis say that a man should thank God in public, when arrived safely from a sea voyage or from a dangerous journey; or on being released from prison; or on recovery from illness.
The blessing may be said either after saying the concluding blessing when called up, or in front of the Echal immediately after the Sepher has been replaced therein.
MITSVOT FOR THE THREE FESTIVALS
This section touches only on those Festival observances which involve additional or different Mitsvot from the point of view of
the Parnas, or which may concern him in his general supervision of the service.
Bi'rcat Cohani'm. Originally the priests recited this blessing daily,, but in course of time such recitation was confined to Sabbaths and holy days; later, the recital on Sabbath was given up, although it still persists in certain congregations, as in Amsterdam. Now, therefore, except on holy days, the blessing is merely said by the Hazan, with a short introductory prayer.
When the Cohanim give the blessing, the Hazan spells each blessing out word by word (except for the first word) to the
Cohanim, who then repeat each word. This custom has been variously explained:
(a) As fulfilling the instruction in Numbers Vi. 23 'Say unto them' (i.e. to the priests);
(b) In allusion to Numbers Vi. 27, to make it quite clear that it is God, and not the priests, who blesses the people;
(c) To enable those not familiar with the text, to follow it the more easily and
(d) More simply, that the words are read out in this way to prevent the Cohanim from making a mistake.2
On the first day of Passover and oil the Eighth day of Solemn Assembly (Shemini 'Atseret) the doors of the Echal are opened in the repetition of the Musaph, for the prayers for the Dew, and the Rain, respectively. On this see p. I2, above.
On Succot, the Echal is opened for the Hosha'anot, for the same reason. Unless it be the Sabbath a Sepher is taken out for the Hosha'anot and remains on the Tebah while a circuit is made by worshippers carrying Lulabim. This circuit, and these prayers, perpetuate a very ancient custom, associated with prayers for rain.3 The Tebah, with the Sepher on it, represents the altar around which the processions were made. The reason for not carrying the Lulab, and for not sounding the Shophar, on the Sabbath is the same, namely to avoid the risk of breaking the commandment which prohibits the removal of any object from a private to a public place (or vice versa) on that day. So transcendent, in the eyes of the Rabbis, was the importance of the Sabbath!
On the seventh day of Succot, called Hosha'ana Rabba3 the ceremony, likewise connected with the prayers for rain, is even more elaborate. At the end of the Amida of Musaph, the Echal is opened and seven Sepharim are taken to the Tebah. Seven circuits are made with the Lulabim round the Tebah, each in commemoration of a Biblical hero. During the circuits the Thirteen Attributes, are recited seven times, the Shophar sounds seven groups of notes, and Kippur prayers are sung to Kippur tunes. The Sepharim and the cover of the reading-desk are in white, as for the Yamin Noraim.
The intrusion, as it were, of the Kippur atmosphere into the rejoicing of Succot has resulted in a remarkably varied and picturesque service. It is probably derived from a passage in the Mishna, according to which 'judgement is passed on the water at Succot': that is to say, the decision on the next year's rainfall .2 In this way the seventh day of Succot took on the aspect of a final day of judgement, and the Jerusalem Talmud calls it 'the day of sealing the decree'. Hence the treatment of the day by the Cabbalists as a kind of extension of the Day of Atonement, and the tradition that the decrees sealed on the Day of Atonement are sealed in clay, but that those of Hosha'ana Rabba are sealed in blood. Hence likewise the tradition that Hosha'ana Rabba gives a man a last chance of repentance, should he have failed thereof, on Kippur.
On the eve of Simhat Torah, the Echal is opened and eight Sepharim are taken out. The first, called the Sepher Hakafot, remains on the Tebah; the other seven are carried in seven circuits.
The institution of the Hatanim arose, it is believed, in Gaonic times (about the tenth century). The person who read the last Parashah in the Pentateuch had a crown, or garland, placed on his head, similar to that worn by a bridegroom: whence probably the title Hatan Torah, and, by a natural extension, Hatan Bereshit, for him who read the first Parashah of Genesis. Details of the arrangements will be found in the second part of these notes.
Formerly the Hatanim sat on special couches, which can still be seen at Bevis Marks.
It may be added that on Simhat Torah, as soon as the last verse of Deuteronomy has been read, the first chapter of the Book of Genesis is immediately begun, even the customary Kaddeesh Lengela being omitted: a reference, perhaps, to Isaiah liX. 2I, where it is said: 'My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, from henceforth and for ever.'
NEW YEAR AND THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
On Rosh Hashana the Sepharim, the parochet (the curtain in the Echal), and the cover of the reading-desk are all in white. White is the colour of purity and forgiveness: Aaron was to wear white linen garments on the Day of Atonement. The custom reminds us also of the well-known passage in Isaiah, and of a verse in Ecclesiastes All this, of course, holds good for Kippur as well. We are commanded to sound the Shophar on the New Year; the following is a brief summary of the development of this Mitsvah.
In the Bible itself only two types of notes are suggested, corresponding to Teki'ah and Teru'ah. The first is taken to be a long note, the second a wavering note, or a succession of staccato notes, or both. According to ancient tradition these were to be sounded in a series of three (namely Teki'ah, Teru'ah, and then again Teki'ah): and as the commandment to sound the Shophar occurs in three passages in the Torah, the series has to be thrice repeated, making a total of nine notes.
However, in the third century of the common era doubts arose as to the correct rendering of Teru'ah. Some thought that it should resemble a sigh, others that it should be a tremulous note, as of weeping; others, again, thought that the correct rendering was a combination of the sigh and the tremulous note. It was finally decided to recognize all three opinions, and to sound the Teru'ah in three ways: first, by Shevarim and Teru'ah combined (i.e. broken notes and staccato notes); second, by broken notes, called Shevarim, and the third a vibrating or staccato note, called simply Teru'ah. At the same time, the number of notes was increased to thirty, in three groups, namely:
Teki'ah, Shevarim, Teru'ah, Teki'ah: Teki'ah, Shevarim, Teki'ah:
Teki'ah, Teru'ah, Teki'ah:
each group being sounded three times.
According to Rabbi Akiba, these three groups were to be closely associated with the three divisions of the Amida of Musaph for Rosh Hashana (Malchiyot, Zichronot, and Shopharot).' It is these thirty notes, sounded during the Musaph while the Kahal is standing, that are held to constitute the actual fulfilment of the Biblical command. In some congregations they are sounded not only during the repetition of the Musaph, but also while the Kahal is saying the Musaph silently.,
Another similar group of thirty notes is now sounded before the Musaph, as an additional act of our own free will; and the Kahal remains seated during this group.
The Cabbalists held that it was desirable to sound no less than one hundred notes on Rosh Hashana, and so two further groups were added, during and after the Kaddeesh Titkabbal which marks the conclusion of the Musaph, to bring the total up to this figure. During this, the Kahal is seated. Finally, after Alenu, a Teru'ah Gedolah is added (a group of repeated staccato notes).
These three essential sections of the prayer are intended to impress on us the supreme Majesty of God (Malchiyot), His remembrance of man and man's deeds on this day (Zichronot), and the theme of revelation, typified especially by God's revelation at Sinai, which was preceded by Shopharot, the sound of the Shophar (cf. Exodus xix. i6).In the Musaph each section is concluded by the sounding of the Shophar.
- This is a very impressive custom, and there is a case for introducing it into our service.
Various explanations are given for these additional notes. The Cabbalists believed that the oft-repeated sounds of the Shophar confused the Adversary and prevented him from accusing us before the Throne of Grace. Others believe that these repetitions enable the worshippers to say their prayers with such earnestness and devotion (Kavanna), as to be the more readily acceptable. The reason why the Shophar is not sounded on the Sabbath has been given above (p. i8).
During each of the Rosh Hashana services (except Minha) and during Kippur, two members of the Congregation stand on either side of the Hazan (but not during the reading of the Parashiyot and Haphtarot). The custom recalls the passage in Exodus, where it is related that Aaron and Hur stood on either side of Moses, to support him during the battle with the Amalekites. The task of these Segani'M I is to support the Hazan, either by saying some of the prayers (especially the Selihot), or to correct him if necessary, or to take his place, should the occasion arise. The London Sephardi Congregation is one of the few where the Seganim remain silent: elsewhere they usually help the Hazan by saying part or all of the Selihot.
Seganim are required for all five services of Kippur (Kal Nidre, Shahrit, Musaph, Minha, and Ne'lla).
On Kal Nidre3 a number of Sepharim are taken out of the Echal, and proceed to the Tebah, where they stay during the recital of the formulae (Bishiva shel Ma'la, and Kal Nidre) and the blessings which follow. They constitute a kind of ad hoc Bet Din, for the purpose of these announcements. The Parnas Presidente should stand on the Tebah during this part of the service.
' Exodus xvii. I2.
I Literally, Chiefs, or Prefects.
3 This is the only evening service at which the taleet is worn. The reason lies
in the fact that the whole Kippur ritual is Properly regarded as one continuous service, starting, with the Kai Nidre and ending only with the end of the Fast on the following evening. Hence the ancient custom Of spending the whole night in the synagogue, reading from Scripture and other religious literature.
( This is not to suggest that even numbers never occur in our ritual, for of course they do. But there is a curious tendency to make excuses for them, sometimes, when they do crop up. For example, on Haggada night we drink four cups of wine, but it is explained that that night is Lel Shimmurim (a night or watchfulness), on which the evil eye is powerless to do harm.)
THE TASK OF THE PARNAS
As will be seen below, Din or Minhag lays down or suggests in advance the allocation of many Mitsvot, but for the large remaining part, where the Pamas can use his discretion, the following general points are worth bearing in mind.
i. The service is a combined act of public worship and private devotion. It is, and should be kept, holy, and it follows that, where possible, Mitsvot should be given to people who will perform them in the right spirit, with dignity, and even with grace. If there are people lacking in these qualities, a tactful word of guidance or instruction (through the Hazan, perhaps) may be helpful: but not during the service.
2. It is important to see that, over a period, the Mitsvot are distributed as widely as possible, so as to give the greatest pleasure to the largest number. The more people that take an active part in the service the better.
3. Every effort should be made to encourage the young to take an interest, and there is no better way than by giving them Mitsvot. Difficult as it may seem, such encouragement of the young must be combined with a due respect for age, for it is age and learning, not wealth, rank, or eminence, that constitute the true aristocracy in the synagogue.
4. The task of the Parnas will be greatly eased if he can count on the co-operation and the active goodwill of the Ministers and the Shamash. Indeed it is vital to give these servants of the Kahal every encouragement, and to recognize and acknowledge the merit of their work, both in general and in particular. Criticism is all too common and all too easy: praise is all too rare.
5. It is quite a good idea for the Parnas Presidente to read the Parashah and the Haphtarah at home during the week; this may sometimes suggest useful ideas. Moreover, the Parnas should be in a position to correct the Hazan, should the latter make a mistake in the reading.
6. The Parnas should not forget visitors, and should give them a welcome, where appropriate, in the form of a Mitsvah. But they should not be offered Mitsvot which, from their ignorance of our ritual, they might find it difficult to perform.
7. One should avoid giving too many Mitsvot on one day to members of any one family, except of course on the occasion of a special Simhah.
8. It is better not to give Mitsvot to Parnasim in office (or to the Gabay), unless for some special reason: for to be in the Banca is itself a sufficient Mitsvah.
9. The careful Pamas, on entering the synagogue, will inquire of the Shamash if there is anything special on that day (for example, births, forthcoming marriages, confirmations, bereavements, Nahalot, distinguished visitors, or the like). A first-class Shamash can give invaluable help on these and similar points.
Io. The offer of a Mitsvah, once made, should not be withdrawn or replaced by another. If, after a person's name has been announced, it is found that he is not present, or cannot perform the Mitsvah, the announcement must not be altered or amended; but some other person must be discreetly asked to take his place. A person to whom a Mitsvah has been offered should not refuse it, unless by reason of absence, infirmity, or the like.
Iii. On Shabbat, the distribution of the Mitsvot is settled immediately after the Kedushah of the Amidah of Shahrit, either by the Parnas Presidente, or, if he is absent, by the Par'nas or Gabay next in order. On Festivals, this is done during the latter part of the Hallel. Accordingly, if the Parnas Presidente arrives later than that, it is the Pamas (or Gabay) next in order who will arrange the Mitsvot and who will actually preside.
,2. To preside is in itselfa Mitsvah, and therefore a Parnas
not preside during his thirty days of mourning (see below). should
follows: the Parnas Presidente and the other Parnasim in rotation, the Gabay, the Treasurer and Parnas of I-leshaim, the Parnasim of Hebra, the Treasurer of Beth Holirn, the Parnasim of Beth Holim, the Parnas of Terra Santa, the President of the Welfare Board, the Parnas of Cautivos, the Elders of the Congregation according to seniority of age, and the Yehidim of the Congregation (other than the salaried officers) according to seniority of age. The President and Vice-President of the Elders have no precedence here; they merely rank as Elders. When there is a change of Parnas Presidente on Rosh Hodesh, and when there are two days of Rosh Hodesh, the change takes place on the first day.
1. On Shabbat seven persons are normally called, excluding the Maphtir; but this seven may be increased to nine (not eight). A fairly sparing use should be made of this facility, for it tends to interrupt the reading too much. If nine people are to be called, the Hazan must be warned in advance, in order to make the necessary additional pauses (Haphsakot). These additional breaks are now made in the seventh or the sixth parasha (they were formerly made in the first). In some congregations an eighth person is occasionally called up after the Kaddeesh Le'ela as 'Bimqom Maphtir' (in the place of the Maphtir); and the Maphtir himself goes up to the Tebah to read the Haphtarah after this eighth person has said his concluding blessing. This device enables an eighth person to be called up, but it is better avoided on a day when only one Sepher is taken out, for there is no authority in Din for calling UP an eighth person on such a day just for the repetition of the last few verses of the Parashah: further, eight is an even number (cf. p. 23). On a Sabbath when two or more Sepharim are taken out, this objection loses a part of its force, for the reading from a second Sepher constitutes a separate and additional Mitsvah; but even so, it is better avoided, as introducing an irregularity into the service.
2. No person is to be called up unless he is able to say the blessings properly. If he knows the blessings, but hesitates through nervousness, the Hazan may prompt him.
4. If no Cohen is present the Mitsvah of being called up first should be offered to a learned or pious man, for example, the Haham, a Hazan, or someone of religious standing and not too young. If such is called, the second Aliya is not to be offered to a Levi, but to an Israelite. A Levi should not be called first, when no Cohen is present. If a Cohen is present, but no Levi, the Cohen is called again for the second Parashah. On a special occasion, a second Levi may be called, either sixth or seventh,, and he may so be called, even though no Cohen is present.
5. For the reasons given above, the third portion is suitable for a bridegroom during the week of his marriage, the father of a newborn son or daughter, an engaged man on the Sabbath before his wedding, and a newly engaged man (in that order of precedence). It is also suitable for a distinguished visitor or for a visiting preacher.
6. The seventh portion (Mashlim) is suitable for a man of standing, not too young, and the sixth is but slightly less honorific (Samuch). As between the two, it must be remembered that in the synagogue old age (followed by learning) is the prime aristocracy and that these rank before official position. Thus, if it is proposed to call up for sixth and seventh an Elder aged say fifty, and also a septuagenarian who is not an Elder, the Elder should be called samuch, and the older man seventh (Mashlim).
7. Usually, the Bar Mitsvah is called fifth, and his .But if the fifth portion is unsuitable, another portion can be given to the boy. If he is a Cohen or Levi, he should naturally be called first or second, as the case may be. There should be no Bar Mitsvah on the intermediate Sabbath of Pesah or Succor, nor on the first days of Festivals or Holy Days which fall on Sabbath, on the eighth day of Passover or the second day of Shavuot (which can fall on Sabbath), nor on Shabbat Bereshit.
It is a good custom to call up the Bar Mitsvah on the Sabbath following that on which he read his portion, in order to encourage his interest in the service.
8. Our order of preference as between the seven Aliyot, as given above, is just our local custom in London; elsewhere the order of preference may be different. For this reason it may sometimes be advisable, in offering a Mitsvah to a visiting Rabbi, to explain to him (through the Shamash) that the Mitsvah we propose to offer him is considered the most honorific of all, here in London: but that if he would prefer some other we would gladly meet his wishes.
9. Father and son, brother and brother, or grandfather and grandson, should not be called up for successive Aliyot. The reason for this is said to be the desire to avoid the evil eye (i.e. the eye of envy or malice), to which prominent persons were said to be peculiarly susceptible. Hence, it is wise not to make any family too prominent in this way.
io. The third portion in Behukotai (the fifth, when Behar and Behukotai are read together),, and the sixth in Ki Tabo called, respectively, the Tocheha and the Kelalot, describe the national calamities which would follow disobedience to God. Many people therefore prefer not to be called up for them (a superstition which should not be encouraged). The proper course is for the presiding Parnas to have himself called up for these portions or, if this is not possible, to make sure that the person called has no objection.
. On Shabbat Shuva it is customary to call up those who attend the Medrash.
i i. The synagogue ranks married men above bachelors, because of the assumption that a married man is likely to lead a more regular life. Wedded life was regarded by the Rabbis as the most natural and most exalted state.- the unmarried man lives (as it was said) without joy, without blessing, and without good. According to another Talmudic passage, all sins are forgiven at marriage. Again, an unmarried man was said to be only half a man, and at one time unmarried men were forbidden to live in Jerusalem, the holy city.
12. While the Sepher is on the reading-desk5 there must always be three people standing there: the Hazan, the Parnas, and the person called up. This to remind us that at the covenant at Horeb there were present God, Moses, and the children of Israel: three parties, for Moses stood there to show the word of the Lord to Israel., Accordingly, if the Hazan calls himself up, or the Parnas has himself called up, the person called previously does not leave the Tebah, but waits there until the Parashah in question has been finished, and the next person has been called up. If the Hazan is so called up, the person previously called stands on the left of the Hazan; if the Parnas is called up, that person stands temporarily in the place of the Parnas.
I3. On occasions of family rejoicing (a Bar Mitsvah, approaching wedding, engagement, or the like), the Parnas will naturally take account of the wishes of the people concerned, in his allocation of Mitsvot.
I4. If there is no Minyan it is permissible to read the Parashah from a pointed text, but the Echal is not opened, no Sepher is taken out, and there are no Mitsvot.
MOURNING, HASHCABOT, AND NAHALOT
A man should not be called to the Sepher, or given any other
Mitsvah during the thirty days after the burial of a parent,
brother, sister, or child. The Rabbis say that we can only pray, in the fullest sense, from a joyful heart (Mitoch Simha), an idea no doubt associated with Psalm C ('Serve the Lord with gladness'). It is felt, therefore, that intense grief is incompatible with prayer; a man requires an interval to recover from the blow. Originally this period was seven days, as provided by Din, corresponding to the seven days of mourning at home (Shib'a), itself a reference to the seven days of mourning by Joseph for Jacob;, but in London we have extended it to thirty days, the period during which the children of Israel mourned for Moses in the plains of Moab . 'I'he thirty days are deemed to be ended by the advent of any of the three Festivals; if the New Year occurs within the seven days, the thirty days are deemed to end at the Day of Atonement following. If the Day of Atonement occurs within the seven days, the thirty days are deemed to end at the beginning of Succor. If the first day of Succor falls within the seven days, the thirty days are reduced, and last for only eight days after Simhat Torah. If a person is buried on one of the intermediate days of Pesah or Succot, the thirty days are kept as from the evening of the last day of that Festival. The mourner (Abel) should be called up as soon as possible after the end of the thirty days a Hashcaba is said on the Sabbath following the burial, after the Haphtarah. If a Festival or Holy Day occurs during the seven days, this Hashcabah is said on such Festival or Holy Day.
it is undesirable that individual Hashcabot should be read immediately after the reading of a Parashah, except (i) at the end of the thirty days, (2) during, and at the end of, the eleven months, or (3) on anniversaries of the death (called Annos or Nahala)., But even with these limitations it may well happen that more people have Nahala (or otherwise qualify for an individual Hashcaba) than can be accommodated, more particularly if there is a Bar Mitsvah or other special event. Naturally, everyone would prefer to be called up and to have his own separate Hashcaba said, and the difficulty must sometimes be explained tactfully to the disappointed.
It is an old custom for a man who has Nahala to read the Haphtarah on the Sabbath preceding the anniversary. Here again, there may be conflicting claims. In the case of this Mitsvah, as in all Mitsvot, it is very undesirable that anyone should think that
he has a prescriptive right to it (hazaka): and it is against our practice to allow this to happen.
It is most important that this Mitsvah should be properly performed. The general points to be borne in mind are the following:
(a) The Maphtir should read the Haphtarah in the right spirit, not as a piece of virtuosity or exhibitionism, but as a reverent contribution to the dignity and beauty of the service.
(b) Not only should his pronunciation of Hebrew be correct, but he should be encouraged to study the context and meaning of the passage, and if possible to read a good commentary on the same. Too many people read a Haphtarah without properly understanding what it is all about.
(c) His Tangamim should be correct, but too rigid an insistence on exact conformity with our own special London rendering is not necessary.
(d) He must be audible, and, if possible, pleasant to hear.
(e) Everything possible should be done to enlarge the panel of
those able and willing to read Haphtarot, especially young people.
A boy may read a Haphtarah before reaching the age of thirteen. In such case he is called up Maphtir (not by name), and the person called before him waits on the Tebah until the Hazan has repeated the reading of the last few verses of the Parashah, and the boy has said the concluding blessing.
Those wishing to read a Haphtarah for the first time should consult one of the Hazanim to make sure that the required standard is reached. Any Ijazan who is in doubt about the proficiency of the would-be reader should be encouraged to say so frankly. Even those who have previously read Haphtarot might be well advised to go over the passage with one of the Hazanim, and this is But not on a Sabbath when there are two or more Sepharim.
Certain Haphtarot, either because of their tenor, or because of the importance of the occasion, should be read only by married men, or by those over the age of forty. A list of these Haphtarot will be found in Appendix C.
For the three Haphtarot immediately preceding the Fast of Ab, the tune of the opening blessings is altered, and some people, following the custom of Amsterdam, modify the Ta'amim throughout. We have no strict rule on this, but clearly these three Haphtarot should be read only by those familiar with the variations.
OTHER SHABBAT MITSVOT
The Mitsvot connected with the Sepher arise, of course, on other days besides Shabbat, when the Law is read.
The Mitsvah of Petiha (Portas) is suitable for an elderly man but should by no means be confined to such. It offers, perhaps, a special opportunity for prayer since it involves approaching so closely the most sacred part of the synagogue. It is therefore a good Mitsvah to offer to a man whose wife is in her last month of pregnancy.
The carrying of the Sepher may well be entrusted to a man in the prime of life, or even to a youth .- but he should be familiar with our ritual, so that he times himself properly on the return to the Echal. If in doubt he should be encouraged to practise the circuit beforehand with the Shamash.
Due honour must always be paid to the Sepharim. They are never to be left unattended, except when in the Echal; they must always be carried5 supported, raised, or on the reading-desk. The Kahal honours the Sepher by bowing to it when carried in procession or raised, by not turning their back on it, and by rising when the person carrying it rises. The Kahal also rises out of respect to the Echal whenever the doors are opened or closed.
It is our custom not to remove all the Sepharim from the Echal, but always to leave at least one therein: just as the two Tables of the Law remained permanently in the Ark.
If by accident the wrong Sepher has been taken out of the Echal, it should not be replaced and another taken out instead (even though the first one taken out may be rolled to another Parashah). To take a Sepher out, and then to replace it and take out another, would be to show disrespect (Bizzayon) to the Sepher first taken out.
If during the reading of the Sepher a letter or word is thought to be defective, or so worn as to be hardly legible, and if there is a doubt on this account as to whether that particular Sepher is fit for use, the Din lays down that a young boy shall be called to see if he finds the writing clear enough to read. If he does, his judgement is accepted; but if he finds it impossible to read, that Sepher is declared Pasul (unfit for use), and must be replaced by another. The same applies if a letter or word is found to be missing.
If a Sepher is thus found to be Pasul during the reading of the Parashah, it is rolled up and left on the Tebah while another Sepher is taken out of the Echal in silence. The portion in which the defect occurred is then read afresh from the second Sepher, followed by the rest of the Parashah.
If by misfortune a Scpher is dropped, the event is considered an
ill omen, and the persons present should fast for a day as a kind of
penance. Such a day is appointed by the Haham or by his repre-
Although the Mitsvah of Gelila (Bells and Band) was once considered of great importance, as explained above, we nowadays usually give these two Mitsvot to young boys, except on New Year and the Day of Atonement. The Mitsvot of the Bells and the Band are a useful and pleasant way of allowing a boy to play an active, if small, part in the service.
The Mitsvah of Levantar (raising the Sepher, or Hagbaha) is reserved for members of the Society of Levantadores, elected by
the Elders. They must pass a test as to their proficiency before election.
Ascama 60 provides that a Rogativa shall be recited only with
the consent of the Parnas Presidente. Usually we say the shorter form (the Misheberach), but, if anyone were to ask for the longer form, this could hardly be refused.
The Zemirot, a collection of blessings, Talmudic passages, Psalms, and other readings,, are intended to prepare the mind of the worshipper for the Shahrit service proper. They are read in our synagogues by a panel of people who undertake this Mitsvah; in former times they were often read by a man who had Nahala. it is most desirable to enlarge the number of people willing and able to read this attractive and beautiful part of the service, and especially, to interest younger members in it.
The Hashem Melech, a short verse, is often read by a very young boy, and forms a useful initiation into the service.
THE THREE FESTIVALS
The Bircat Cohanim. It is essential for the Cohanim to remove their shoes (if made of leather) and to wash their hands before the blessing. Our former practice was to ask certain of the Leviim to take part in this, but now they all take part in it. Any Cohen who does not propose to say the blessing should leave the synagogue while it is being recited. But every Cohen should be encouraged to take part in the blessing, and thus perform his duty. These rules of course apply equally to Rosh Hashana and to Kippur.,
We have already referred to the opening of the Echal for the Prayer for the Dew in the first day of Pesah, and for the rain on the Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly. These Mitsvot are announced together with the other Mitsvot, before the reading of the Law. On the seventh day of Pesah it is our present custom to give the principal Mitsvot to Elders, but the Haham must be offered the Mitsvah of being called fifth (on Sabbath, seventh) for the Song of Moses.
On the first day of Pentecost, the Thesoureiro or the Parnas of Heshaim presides (Ascama 58). The Haham must be offered the Mitsvah of being called for the Ten Commandments.
The Cohanim remove their shoes in allusion to the passage in Exodus iii. 5 ('Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground').
We have already mentioned the procedure for the Hosha'anot on Succot. On the seventh day, Hosha'ana Rabba, the seven Sepharim taken out have to remain for a considerable time on the Tebah, during the circuits; and these Mitsvot should therefore be given only to able-bodied men. The first two Sepharim are carried by the Hatan Torah and the Hatan Bereshit.
On the Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly, the principal Mitsvot are given to Elders.
On the eve of Simhat Torah, seven circuits are made with seven Sepharim, or a larger uneven number. It is usual for the bearers to change at every circuit, the original bearers resuming at the seventh or last circuit. This procedure makes possible a very wide distribution of Mitsvot, and the occasion is one of joy and relaxation. We usually include among the Sepharim very small scrolls, so that quite young boys can share in the Mitsvah. In addition to the seven Sepharim, the first taken out stays on the Tebah during the circuits, and is called the Sepher Hakafot. For the first and the last circuits the first three Sepharim are carried by the Haham, the Hatan Torah, and the Hatan Bereshit, respectively.
On Simhat Torah and Shabbat Bereshit, the Hatan Torah and the Hatan Bereshit, respectively, open the Echal on entering the synagogue, and it remains open for the whole service (except for the priestly blessing on Simhat Torah). On these two days the number of persons called up may be increased, and the Hatanim distribute the Mitsvot, each on their respective days. On Shabbat Bereshit the Hatan Bereshit is called first, whether or not he is a Cohen; and the Hatan Torah is called second. Both Hatanim read their own portions if able to do so; they, and their attendants (Shushbinim), sit in the Banca. On Shabbat Bereshit the Cohanim leave the synagogue during the reading of the first portion, unless the Hatan Bereshit is himself a Cohen.
The allocation of the Mitsvot for the High Holidays is quite an
undertaking, for on the two days of Rosh Hashana and on Kippur
the total number of Mitsvot exceeds one hundred. It is therefore essential to make all arrangements well in advance, as far as possible, in order to avoid confusion and embarrassment at the last moment. A complete list of the Mitsvot for these days will be found in Appendix D.
The important and solemn character of these days makes it necessary to use special care. People who have publicly flouted the laws of the Torah (for example by marrying Gentiles without conversion) are not suitable for any of the more important Mitsvot, and indeed should probably be passed over altogether. Further, the most important Mitsvot should go to married men, or to men over the age of forty.
The Seganim should be persons with a good knowledge of Hebrew and a good knowledge of the service, for the reasons given in Part 1. They should also be observant. But in addition it must be remembered that they have to stand, at certain services, for a very considerable time. Accordingly this Mitsvah is not very suitable for the infirm or the very old, although they may qualify on other grounds.
No one should perform a Mitsvah on Kippur unless he is fasting at the time, and this also applies to the Parnas Presidente, for it is a Mitsvah to preside.'
The large number of Mitsvot on these days generally makes it possible to include all the Elders, but there is a case for leaving out the Parnasim in office, as suggested above. Apart from the Elders, it is generally felt that those Yehidim who attend the Sabbath services regularly have a special claim to be remembered on the Yamim Noraim.
On Rosh Hashana the Tokea is called up third, whether it be a Sabbath or not.
The Haphtarot on these days require a Maphtir with a sufficiently powerful voice (in addition to the other necessary qualifications), for the building is very crowded and it is the more difficult to make oneself audible in every part.
Certain of the Mitsvot (the Zemirot on all three days, and the Portas for Shahrit on Kippur) require very early attendance. The Echal must in any case be opened on Kippur before Baruch Sheamar is said; and if the person entrusted with this Mitsvah is not present by then, someone else must do it for him.
At the Kal Nidre service the Gabay, if present, opens the Echal after the introductory poem (Shema' Koli); if he is not present the Parnas Presidente allocates this Mitsvah at his discretion.
The Sepharim are carried by the Haham, the Hatan Torah, the Hatan Bereshit, and by representatives of the congregational bodies and charities (see Appendix D). As a rule, only one Sepher is allocated to each body, but it is sometimes necessary to vary this rule in order to keep the number of Sepharim uneven. In the event of any person entitled to carry a Sepher not being able to do so, the Mahamad nominates a substitute, but not for the Haham's Sepher.
After the end of the Kal Nidre service we read Hashcabot for the benefactors of the Kahal, both men and women. Each Kippur a certain period of benefactions is covered. These Hashcabot are read by two Yehidim, chosen by the Mahamad; and a Kaddeesh is said.
The Mitsvah of opening the Echal for the Ne'ila service is given to the oldest Elder present. The Seganim for that service are usually the Hazan who is not reading Ne'ila, and the Parnas Presidente.
The persons performing the principal Mitsvot on Kippur, including of course the Seganim, should not wear leather footwear.
FAST OF AB
On the Fast of Ab, nobody sits in his accustomed seat; the
Banca is left unoccupied, as is the Tebah, which is draped in black. The Echal is likewise draped in black, the cloak of the Sepher is black, and the bells are replaced by small wooden ornaments. A small table, with a black cloth, is placed near the Echal, and is used instead of the Tebah. The Mitsvot are not announced, and those who are called up omit the customary greeting 'Hashem 'Immachem'. The persons who receive Mitsvot in the Morning Service are entitled to the same Mitsvot in the afternoon; this applies also to the Maphtir.
THE RITUAL OF THE MITSVOT
THESE notes give an account of the ritual practices observed in the Bevis Marks and Lauderdale Road Synagogues of the London Congregation, which are a direct heritage from our ancient past. Where there are differences between the practices of the two synagogues, they describe those which are followed in the Lauderdale Road Synagogue. Some of the variations practised in Bevis Marks, however, are also noticed.
Any attempt to reduce a body of oral tradition to writing is dangerous, for it may come to be regarded as a code with binding effect. Then any deviation from the written word is regarded as unorthodoxy and the oral tradition tends to wither and become fossilized.
It follows that these notes should be regarded as a guide rather than as a ruler. In general, variations in other Sephardi synagogues have not been noted, though some of those at Bevis Marks have; but it is not intended to suggest that where others diverge from the practice of Lauderdale Road they are wrong, still less that they should abandon their own Minhag in these matters and adopt ours. It is hoped that if these considerations are borne in mind this work will be of use to Parnasim and others charged with the care of the ritual in our own and other Sephardi synagogues, and of interest to them and to those many others who love our ancient ceremonial and draw from it spiritual encouragement and refreshment.
(Opening of the Ark)
SABBATHS, FESTIVALS, AND NEW YEAR (MORNING SERVICE)
The gentleman to whom this Mitsvah is given leaves his seat on Sabbaths and on Festivals immediately after the announcements of the A4itsvot and proceeds to the Ark. Before ascending the steps of the Ark he should bow towards it. (The Congregation bow towards the Echal at the words Baruch Ha Makom . He should open the Ark while the Hazan chants Kohanecha He then opens the curtain, takes the Yad (pointer) from the Sepher in which it is resting, and moves to the left side of the Ark. He waits there until the Sepher or Sepharim to be carried are removed, then goes behind them a little to the right side of the Ark, takes one step down, and hands the Yad to the Parnas bowing at the same time.
Then he inserts the Yad into the band of the first Sepher, adjusts, if necessary, the position of the Sepher or Sepharim, draws the curtain, closes the doors, and returns to his seat. He bows to the Hazan who is standing by, to the presiding Parnas, and to others who bow to him.
On Simhat Torah the Hatan Torah opens the Ark on entering the synagogue, and it is likewise opened by the Hatan Bereshit on Shabbat Bereshit. The Ark remains open during the whole of these services except for the Priestly Blessing on Simhat Torah, when the Hatan Torah closes the doors only-not the curtain-shortly before, and opens it after, the Blessing.
The Ark-opener leaves it open and returns to it as the Congregation sings L mangn Dangat kol ha-ares in order to receive the Yad and adjust the Sepharim, but he leaves it open thereafter. Further, it is closed by the Hatan at the end of Kaddeesh Titkabbal in the Shahrit service, to be reopened by the gentleman given the Mitsvah of Portas. The Ark-opener leaves it open and returns to it as the Congregation sings Yimloch for the second time, in order to receive the Yad and adjust the Sepharim, but he leaves it open thereafter. At the conclusion of the service, he (and not the Hatan) returns to the Ark and closes it.
closes it at the word Titkabal, and returns to his seat.
On each of the days of Succot the Ark is reopened for the Hoshanganot. After the Amidah of Musaph. This again is a separate Mitsvah, and is after the Amidah of Musaph. This is announced with the other Mitsvot before the Law is taken out. The Ark is opened before the Hoshanganot are begun, and the opener goes to his seat. He returns to the Ark at the beginning of the passage and closes it at the end of the Kaddish that follows.
On Hosha-'ana Rabba, when the Mitsvot for the Hoshanganot are announced at the end of the Musaph service, the procedure for opening the Ark is exactly as on a Festival morning, save that the Yad is not taken out and that the Ark is left open until the end of the Hoshanganot.
The Ark is opened on six occasions during Kippur:
i. On Kal Nidre night when the Gabay of the Congregation has an ex-officio right to this Mitsvah. He goes up to the Ark as on a Festival morning. The Yad is not taken out, and the Ark is left open. The Gabay returns to the Ark on the second singing of Yimloch, by the Congregation, and leaves it open. He closes the Ark at the conclusion of the service while the last line of Yigdal is being sung.
2. For the early Morning Service the Mitsvah of opening the Ark is announced during the Kai Nidre service. The Ark should be opened at the beginning of the Zemirot, and the opener should arrive in synagogue in time to do this. It must be opened before Barooch Sheamar is said, and if the opener is not in his place by then, someone else must do it for him. When Kadshenoo ((before retzeh) is reached in the Repetition of the Amidah, the doors of the Ark are closed - the curtain is not drawn - for the Cohanim to stand before the Ark for the Priestly
Blessing. The doors are reopened when the Cohanim return to their seats. (While the Cohanim are pronouncing the Priestly Blessing from before the Ark, the Congregation should stand in their places in the normal way; they should not turn their backs to the Cohanim and the Ark, nor stand at a half-turn away from that direction. To do so is an act of discourtesy, and never was the practice of our Congregation; indeed, we are taught that the Congregation should turn their faces towards the Cohanim, but look downwards.) The curtain of the Ark is drawn and the doors closed during the Kaddish which follows the Selihot, at the word Titkabal.
3. For the reading of the Morning Parashah the procedure for opening the Ark is exactly as on a Festival morning, save that the Ark is left open. It is closed when the Sepharim are returned.
4. For the Repetition of the Musaph the Mitsvah is announced with the Mitsvot which precede the taking out of the Law. The Ark is opened before the Repetition of the Amidah of Musaph is commenced, and thereafter the procedure is as in @ 2 above. The Ark is finally closed with the last words ofAdon Olam..
6. For the Nengila Service this Mitsvah, which by long-established usage belongs to the senior Elder, is announced with the Mitsvot for Minha. The Elder who opens the Ark proceeds thereto during the repetition by the Hazan of the last verse El Norah Alilah. The closing of the Ark during the Priestly Blessing is as in paragraph 2 above. The Ark is finally closed after the Teru'ah Gedola at the end of the service.
Those given this . Mitsvah proceed to the Ark as the Congregation begins to chant Barooch Ha-MakomThe Sepher should be carried on the right arm, the right hand taking the weight by holding the wooden rings below the parchment: the cloak to be left free. The bearer should take his Sepher out of the Ark as he finds it and without turning it round in his arms. The Sepher-bearers stand facing the congregation until Rommemoo is begun. (In the Lauderdale Road Synagogue the Sepher-bearer, when there is only one, should stand centrally on the second step of the flight leading down from the Ark. When there is more than one Sepher the first bearer should stand on the third or fourth step, but still centrally.)
The Sepharim then proceed to the Tebah at ordinary walking pace, the bearers there taking the seats provided for them, with the first Sepher on the right and the others in order. As soon as the first Sepher is divested of its bells, cloak, and band, its bearer takes it forward, places it on the reading-desk, and then returns to his seat on the Tebah.
If more than one Sepher has been taken out, the others are in their turn brought forward by their bearers and laid on the reading-desk as the Congregation says Elohim Tzabaot As soon as the next in order has been placed there, the bearer of the preceding one removes his Sepher, and steps backwards to his seat so that it can be re-vested. He must be careful not to lift it from the desk until its successor has been laid there.
On Simhat Torah the procedure is exceptional. The first two Sepharim are not withdrawn until the fourth has been laid on the reading-desk, when they and the third are removed together. If only one Sepher is being used, it is taken from the reading-desk as Eloheem Tsebaot is begun. The Sepher is brought forward by its bearer and handed to the Haham, or, in his absence, to the officiating Hazan for the Prayers for the Royal Family the Congregation, and Israel. The bearer steps back until the Prayer for Israel is finished when he goes forward, relieves the officiant of the Sepher, and steps backwards to his seat, which he resumes.
Bearers of additional Sepharim remain seated during these prayers.
The Sepharim are brought forward by their bearers at the words Debar Yom B'Yomo and ranged by them side by side at the reading-desk. The Scrolls may be placed upright on the desk instead of being held on the arm. They remain there until the congregation starts Mizmor L'David. Then, headed by the first, and in due order, they go down from the Tebah (in Lauderdale Road) by the left-hand steps, turn left, go round behind it, and then along the right-hand aisle, to the Ark. In Bevis Marks the procession goes down the right-hand steps and directly along the right-hand aisle to the Ark. Sepharim are replaced in the Ark in the spaces from which they were respectively removed, with the last words of Mizmor L'David They are put in with the silver plate on each facing the wall of the Ark. After replacing the Sepher in the Ark, the Sepher-bearer, without turning his back to the open Ark, walks to the first step and stands on the left-hand side. After the closing of the Ark he bows to it and returns to his seat, bowing to the Presiding Parnas.
Sabbaths when three Sepharim are taken out. On three Sabbaths three Sepharim are taken out, viz. Shabbat Rosh Hodesh Hanuccah, Shabbat Rosh Hodesh Shekalim, and Shabbat Rosh Hodesh Hahodesh. From the first Sepher the Parashah of the week 's 'read in six, instead of the usual seven, portions. Kaddish is not recited, and the Sepher is not removed; but the second Sepher is brought immediately to the reading-desk and placed by the side of the first, while Eloheem Tsebaot is chanted. After the proper portion has been read from the second Sepher, Kaddeesh is recited. Eloheem Tsebaot is again intoned, during which the third Sepher is placed on the reading-desk and the first two Sepharim are removed. After the reading from the third Sepher, Kaddeesh and Eloheem Tsebaot are said again. The procedure which follows is the same as on Sabbaths and Festivals when less than three Sepharim are taken out-except that after putting the Sepher Torah in the Ark, the first Sepher-bearer, without turning his back to the open Ark, walks to the first step and stands on the left-hand side. The second Sepher-bearer walks to the first step and stands on the right-hand side of the Ark. The third Sepher-bearer walks to the second step and stands on the left-hand side of the Ark, etc. After the closing of the Ark, the Sepher-bearers bow to the Ark and return to their seats, bowing to the Presiding Parnas.
On Kal Nidre night and on Hoshangana Rabba the Sepher-bearers proceed as above, taking care to space themselves out while they are waiting to proceed to the Tebah, and to set off in their right order. When they reach the Tebah they at once group themselves round the reading-desk and remain standing there until they return to the Ark.
Again they must be careful to take their due places in the procession.
For the Hoshanganot on the Festival of Succot one Sepher is taken out of the Ark when it is opened after the Repetition of the Amidah of Musaph, by the gentleman whose name has been given out when the Mitsvot are announced before the Law is read. This Sepher, accompanied by the Parnas Presidente, carrying his Lulab and Etrog, is brought straight to the reading-desk by the steps on the bearer's right as he comes from the Ark, and is taken directly back after the Hoshanganot, when the Officiant reaches the paragraph beginningkakatoob proceeding by the steps on the right as he faces the Ark. On the Sabbath no Sepher is taken out and no circuit is made.
For Minha on Kippur one Sepher is taken out. The procedure is as prescribed above on page 42, paragraph 5. After the concluding blessing of the Haphtarah, Hashcabot are made, and Offerings announiced. Then the Officiant begins yehalleloo and as he does this the Sepher-bearer rises and takes the Sepher down the steps on the right of the Tebah and heads the procession back to the Ark, setting the usual slow pace. The SePher should be replaced as the Congregation finishes the words Vain kemanagasecha with the plate facing the wall of the Ark, and the bearer at once bows to the Parnas and goes to his seat.
For Minha on Sabbath the Mitsvot are not announced, but the following Mitsvot are performed by the same persons (if present) to whom they were allotted in the Morning Service: Portas Accompanhador, Bells, Band, and Levantar. The Parnas stands in front of the Banca while the Ark is opened and the Sepher is taken out, and follows the Sepher (after the Accompanhador) to the Tebah. The Sepher-bearer goes to the Ark while V'Ani is being sung by the Congregation for the second time. The procedure is then as set forth in the first three paragraphs of 'Sepher-carrying" PP- 42 and 43. The Sepher is withdrawn from the reading-desk as the Officiant commences Mizmore Shir L'Yom Ha'Shabbat. Hashcabot are then recited. As the officiant begins Yehallelloo the Sepher-bearer rises and carries the Sepher down the steps on the right of the Tebah and heads the procession back to the Ark; the further proceedings are as described in the preceding paragraph.
[Note: Hashcabot are not recited on the Sabbath of the Middle Days of Passover and Tabernacles.]
THE RITUAL OF THE MITSVOT
The gentleman who has this Mitsvah leaves his seat, proceeds towards the Ark, and takes his stand at the left-hand side of the space before the Ark. He remains there until the procession to the Tebah sets out, when he takes his place behind the Sepher.
On reaching the Tebah, he remains standing until the Cohen (or other person called first to the Sepher) completes the first Sepher blessing, when he (the Cohen) turns round and bows to the Accompanhador, who returns the bow, bows to the Parnas, receives his bow, and then takes a seat on the Tebah.
When the Sepher returns, he takes his place immediately after the
Sepher, and stands to the left of the open space before the Ark untilthe latter has been closed, when he bows to the Parnas and returns to his seat.
BELLS, BAND, AND MANTLE
First or only Sepher. The person given this Mitsvah goes to the Tebah after the Hazan and Parnas have proceeded to the Ark. As soon as the Sepher-bearer has seated himself on the Tebah, he takes the bells off the Sepher and gives them to the Levantador. (On reaching the Tebah in the Sepher-procession, the Presiding Parnas, having given the Yad to the officiating Ijazan, proceeds straight to his position at the side of the reading-desk. One of the bells is then handed to him by the Levantador, which he places on the stand provided for it on the Tebah enclosure. The other bell is given by the Levantador to the officiating Hazan, who similarly places it on the stand.) Then he removes the silver plate, places it over his arm, removes the mantle, and keeps both silver plate and mantle over his arm while he helps to hold the Sepher in a horizontal position so that the person removing the band can perform his Mitsvah. Then he drapes the mantle over the stand on the left-hand side, places the silver plate on one of the bell-stands, and resumes his seat.
He returns to the Tebah as the Sepher is removed from the desk, and helps to support it while the band is being put on; he then fetches and replaces mantle, plate, and bells in that order. Then he bows to the Presiding Parnas and resumes his seat.
Second and other additional Sepharim (one goes up for this Mitsvah while the last portion of the Parashah in the preceding Scroll is being read). The procedure is the same as for the first Sepher, save that as there is no Levantador to whom to hand the bells, they, as well as the silver plate, must be placed by the Mitsvah-holder upon the bell-stands. When the band has been removed, the mantle is replaced temporarily over the Sepher, and the Mitsvah-holder sits on the Tebah until the reader says Eloheem tsebaot, when the mantle is finally removed.
Variations. See at end of 'Band'.
The holder of this Mitsvah for the first Sepher goes to the Tebah after the Hazan and Parnas have proceeded to the Ark. When more than one Sepher is out, the holder of the Mitsvah of 'band' (or 'desenfaixar') for the second and other Sepharim proceeds to the Tebah during the last chapter of the preceding Parashah. In each case, as soon as the mantle has been taken off and the Sepher placed in position, he unties the bow in the band, and then unrolls the band, taking care to gather the ribbons and the band in his hands as he unrolls them. He takes this with him to his seat, and re-rolls it in readiness for his return, beginning at the ribbon end. He returns to the Tebah while Eloheem Tsebaot is being said. When the Sepher has been removed from the reading-desk and is in position for re-vesting, he inserts the end of the band in the Sepher and rolls it tightly round it, tying the ribbons at the end in a bow. He then bows to the Presiding Parnas and resumes his seat.
On Simhat Torah and Shabbat Bereshit the persons who have had these Mitsvot walk in the procession of the Sepharim on their return to the Ark. They come up to the Tebah to be marshalled for this during the singing of the second Yimloch
(Elevation of the Law)
This Mitsvah is reserved for members of the Society of Levantadores,
who are elected by the Elders. The Levantador goes to the Tebah after the Hazan and Parnas have proceeded to the Ark. He receives the bells from the person holding the Mitsvah of 'bells' and hands one bell to the Parnas Presidente and the other to the officiating Ijazan. When the Sepher has been laid on the reading-desk, he opens it by unrolling an equal distance to the right and the left, waits until the officiating Ijazan and the Parnas Presidente have put on the bells, and then raises the Sepher until it is in a perpendicular position with the bottom of the parchment slightly above the level of his eyes. At least three columns must be showing, but it is the practice to show part of five or seven. The Levantador then completes a slow turn to the left, timing his turn so that the Congregation in all parts of the synagogue have ample time to see the text and that he may replace the Sepher on the reading-desk when the Congregation reach the words Kehilot Yangakob. The officiating Hazan and Parnas Presidente remove the bells when the Sepher has been laid on the reading-desk, and the Levantador closes the Scroll by rolling it up equally with both hands, and then moves it across the desk to the Parnas Presidente for him to cover. He then bows to the Parnas Presidente and returns to his seat.
BEING CALLED TO THE LAW
He who is called up should, after completing his opening blessing, turn round and bow to the person to whom the previous portion was read, who will be standing behind him and will then resume his seat. In the case of the Cohen or Israelite who is called up first this bow will be made to the Accompanhador. On completing his concluding blessing after the reading of his portion, the Mitsvah-holder will bow to the officiating Hazan and then step a few paces back and wait for the next to be called up to approach the Sepher, complete his opening blessing, and turn and bow. He returns this bow, bows to the Parnas Presidente, and returns to his seat by the steps opposite to those by which he came up.
Should the officiating Hazan or the Parnas Presidente be called to the Law, the last holder of that Mitsvah will take the place at the reading-desk of the Hazan or Parnas as the case may be, standing, however, on the left of the Hazan if the latter is called. He then steps back and waits until the next person called to the Law has completed his opening blessing and bowed to him before returning to his seat.
In the case of a boy being called up Bar Mitsvah, the person called up to the previous portion will remain on the Tebah behind the boy until the latter has said the special Prayer and completed his opening blessing, and will then bow to the Parnas Presidente and return to his seat.
If the Maphtir is not yet Bar Mitsvah, he does not bow to the gentleman called up before him until he has had read to him the Maphtir's portion and said the concluding blessing. The gentleman must be careful to remain behind the Maphtir until this concluding blessing has been said
PROCESSION OF SEPHARIM ON THE EVE OF SIMHAT TORAH
After Kaddeesh Titkabbal the names of those who are to open the Ark and carry the Sepharim are announced. Eight Sepharim are takenout, one of which is kept stationary on the Tebah. The first three Hakkapha are carried by the Haham, Hatan Bereshit. The seven Sepharim make seven circuits, between each circuit the bearers change, but the original bearers return to their Sepharim for the last circuit.Additional Sepharim may be taken out and may participate in the
circuits, but the number thus participating must be uneven.
PROCESSION OF SEPHARIM ON SIMHAT TORAH AND SHABBAT
On SimhatTorah the order in the Procession on the return of the Sepharim from the Tebah to the Ark is as follows:
Shushbin of Hatan Torah
Shushbin of Hatan BereshitMezammer
Holders of the Mitsvot of Bells and Bands
The reader of Hashem Melech.
Shushbin of Hatan Bereshit
Shushbin of Hatan Torah
Holders of the Mitsvot of Bells and Bands
The reader of Hashem Melech
SABBATHS AND FESTIVALS
Shabbat Beshallah Shabbat Rosh Hodesh
Shabbat Yitro Seventh Day Pesah
Shabbat Vaethanan First Day Shabungot
Shabbat Teshuva Kippur (Shahrit)
Shabbat Hanuca Shemini Hag Ngatseret
ON WEEK DAYS
Rosh Hodesh Pureem
LIST OF HAPHRAROT RESTRICTED
TO MEN OVER THE AGE OF FORTY,
OR MARRIEDHaye Sarah Ngekeb
Va-Yesheb Shabbat Shuba
Shemot First Day of Pentecost
Beshallah New Year (both days)
Ahare Mot First and Second Days of Pass-
Emor First Day of Succot
Bemidbar Shabbat Ha-Gadol
Shelah Lecha Shabbat Parah
Hukkot Shabbat Zachor
Haphtarot for the three weeks Shabbat Rosh Hodesh
preceding the Fast of Ab Mahar Hodesh
Shabbat Nahamu Intermediate Sabbath of Succot
LIST OF MITSVOT FOR ROSH HASHANA
First Day Second Day
Segan I for Arbit Segan I for Arbit
Segan II for Arbit Segan II for Arbit
Segan Shahrit I Segan Shahrit I
Segan Shahrit 11 Segan Shahrit II
Sepher I Sepher I
Sepher II Sepher II
Bells I Bells I
Band I Band I
Bells 11 Bells 11
Band II Band 11
Tokenga (unless on Shabbat) Tokenga
Third (Tokenga even if Shabbat) Third
Sixth (if on Sabbath)
Segan Musaph I Segan Musaph I
Segan Musaph II Segan Musaph II
LIST OF MITSVOT
SEPHARIM1. The Haham
2. Hatan Torah
4. Thesoureiro (or Parnas) of Heshaim
5. Parnas of Hebra
6. Thesoureiro (or Parnas) of Bet Holim
7. Parnas of Terra Santa
8. Parnas of Cautivos
9. Parnas of Shangare Ezra
io. Parnas of Yeshivat Ohel Moshe Veehudit
i i. Parnas of Shangare Tikva
Portas for Sepher
Seventh (if Sabbath)
Segan I (Nengila)
Segan II (Nengila)