Welcome to the weekly newsletter of Igud HaRabbonim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, in which we share news for and about members, including communal news, announcements, publications, Divrei Torah, press releases and media mentions.
In this newsletter:
• Chaplaincy Commission Update
• Covid Update Motzei Shabbos
• Divrei Torah: Bereishis
• JP Luach Bereishis 5781
• Upcoming Yahrtzeits 29 Tishrei-6 Cheshvan
• 5TJT: RAA Calls for Civil Discourse
• The Rabbinical Alliance of America Calls for Respect and Civil Discourse
• Rav Ya’akov Klass: Etrog Jelly
Please let us know about your family simchos and l"a aveilus, book publications and career changes or milestones, so we can share as chaveirim our life events. Send updates to email@example.com.
From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
October 15, 2020
SHALOM – ACHDUS – JEWISH MEANINGFUL LIFE – WHAT DOES THE HOLY ONE THE AIBERSHTA WANT FROM US ??? – WHAT DO WE WANT FROM THE HOLY ONE THE AIBERSHTA??? -WHAT FOLLOW UP IS THERE AFTER THE YOMIM NEARIM, SUKKOS AND SHEMINI ATZERES??? -CONTINUED EMUNAH STRONG FAITH IN H – THE ESSENCE OF YIDDISHKEIT – KIDDUSH H.
Some of my thoughts with meaningful stories and quotes that I found worthwhile to share with our readership. With much appreciation to the Aibershta and I dedicate this article to my wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohein A”H who as her father’s name Shalom always’ conveyed through her wonderful midos with shalom, kindness, chesed, the love of the Aibershta and Klal Yisrael.
The first from the Yated Ne’eman Ushpizin A collections of Perspectives October 5781/2020. A Career in Rabbonus “As A Shepherd Cares For His Flock” A Yom Tov interview with Rav Avrohom Chaim Feuer former Rov of Kehillas Ohr Hachaim in Miami Beach and Kehillas Bais Avrohom in Monsey by Avrohom Birnbaum. In one of Avrohom Birnbaum’s interview questions “Rav Feuer, you have been a rov for decades. How has the rabbinate changed an evolved over the years, and what is the key to motivating people-especially today’s generation? After sharing what it was like for his shver HaGoan HaRav Mordechai Gifter’s ztkl early years as a rov, Rav Feuer mentions “Today, Boruch H, things are different. Yidden want to understand Yiddishkeit, they really do want to know, but they also want to feel that you care about them and their families in a very personal way. Another important thing is that the rov must be excited about Yiddishkeit. When the kehillah is convinced that what really excites the rov is Torah, they will eagerly flock to hear Torah from this rov. I was in rabbonus for decades and merited to be mekarev many people to Yiddishkeit, and I could tell you that the integral ingredient is excitement about Yiddishkeit. If they see that you are excited about Yiddishkeit, they will also become excited.” When the Bobover Rebbe HaRav Shlomo Halberstam ztkl would come to Miami for his annual rest, he would not receive any visitors except Rav Feuer. They became close to each other. The rebbe would share with Rav Feuer personal insights dealing with many areas of Jewish life such as difficulties relating to chinuch, parnossah, marital issues etc. and many meaningful stories. Avrohom Birnbaum asked Rav Feuer, “I always wondered how the roshei yeshiva and rebbes who came to America after the war had the fortitude to rebuild, transcending their personal losses. Rav Feuer continues a story related to him by the Bobover Rebbe ztkl. It’s about a man in Bobov who is known as “Reb Moshe Chile,” as in the South American country. Who was he, and what was the story behind his name? In the early 1950’s survivors were slowly finding their way to America, and the Bobover Rebbe want to build a cheder and yeshiva for the children of the survivors. To achieve his goal, he needed fund. At that time, many Eastern European survivors had experiences financial success in the country of Chile, and the rebbe decided to journey there to raise funds. He spent a few weeks garnering support for these projects. On the last Shabbos he was there, the community made a kiddush in his honor. On Sunday, the day before he was to leave, a Jew came to the home of his host to bid farewell”. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it on Shabbos, so I came here to bid the rebbe farewell”. Where were you on Shabbos?” the rebbe asked him, “I’m embarrassed to tell the rebbe,” the man replied. Finally, after much gentle prodding, the man told the rebbe. “I was in my factory. You see, my factory must run seven days a week. The machine is complicated and cannot be shut down, so I go in for a few hours on Shabbos morning to make sure they are running properly.” “Oy vey!” the rebbe exclaimed in a pained voice. “Is there no other eitza for you-especially today, when there are machines that can run things without human intervention? Is there no automatic machine that you can purchase that will run the machines for you ?”“The truth is,” the man replied, “such a machine does exist, but the price is so exorbitant that I simply cannot afford it.” “How much can it be?” the rebbe asked. “$50,000, “replied the man-an astronomical sum in those days. Imagine the man’s surprise when the rebbe nonchalantly said, “Nisht geferlach! and dipped his hand into his pocket, pulling out a thick wad of bills.” Here, take this $50,000 and buy the machine!”. “Rebbe!” the man protested, “You are not fooling me! I know that this is the money you collected for the yeshiva back in New York. You took money from Yidden for a cheder and a yeshiva. The rebbe has no right to give it to me!” The rebbe responded with a tremendous insight, “You are incorrect! I didn’t collect money for a cheder or a yeshiva- I collected money for the Ribono Shel Olom! If there is an urgent need to use the money for H in one way, I will use it that way. “Ordinarily, if there is no pressing matter, I collect for Bobover mosdos – after all, as Bobover Rebbe, I am responsible for Bobov. But if I feel there is something more urgent for H’s kovod, I will drop everything for that purpose. Your shemiras Shabbos is the most urgent thing right now. I want you to take this money and buy the machine!”.The rebbe was also concerned about this mans son and what future would there be in Yiddishkeit where he lived, The rebbe was willing for the son to return with him to Bobov under his personal mentorship which the father consented. He grew up in the Bobov community with his own children and grandchildren and he is known as Moshe Chile. The rebbe showed what is it that H wants and what is it that we want.
The Sukkoth edition of the Hamizrachi magazine published by the Mizrachi World Movement, Mizrachi Religious Zionists of America Vol 3 Issue 4 , 5781-2020 has various articles including from Rabbi Dr. J. Twersky ,Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Doron Perez and others. From Rabbi Dr. Twersky “Why Kohelet on Sukkot?” He writes “As a psychiatrist, I was once asked to explain why we read Kohelet on Sukkot, the season of joy. After all, Kohelet is so terribly depressing, negating everything as futile and worthless. Sukkot is indeed the season of simcha. However, our concept of simcha is flawed. I have heard people say, “If only I could get out of debt, I would be happy, ”or“ If only I had a better job, I’d be happy,” or If only I could get relief from my arthritis, I’d be happy,” or “ If only my daughter would do a shidduch, I’d be happy,” The “If onlys” are countless. I’ve been around long enough to see people get what they thought would make them happy but remain unhappy. Happiness does not depend on comfort or pleasure. They are indeed admirable desires, but they do not produce happiness. The Talmud says,” No one leaves this world having achieved even half of his desires.” In Kohelet, Shlomo states this clearly.” As a king, I was the richest of all. I did not deny myself any human pleasure. But I found that this too was a vexation.” It is wonderful to enjoy good things, but don’t deceive yourself that these enjoyments will bring you happiness. Happiness is achieved when you work toward becoming what G wants you to be, a mentsch! What separates a mentsch from animals is not his greater intellect. Animals are totally self absorbed, seeking their physical pleasure. One cannot be happy if one lives a life of self- absorption, seeking pleasure, you are a mentsch when you get out of your own skin. When you do chesed, when you have goal in life of serving G instead of expecting that G should fulfill all your desires. Shlomo ends Kohelet by saying, “In summary, fear G an do His mitzvot, because then you will be a mensch.” Only when one is a mensch can one be happy. So, reading Kohelet on Sukkot is most important. We live in a culture that places self-gratification as a goal in life. Kohelet tells us this can never result in Simcha.”
Rabbi Berel Wein describes the significance of any siyum and the siyum of Simchat Torah, the essence of Shemini Ateret and Simchat Torah. He goes on with “However, despite the elation, the Torah ends on an apparently sad note, poignantly describing the death of our great teacher Moshe. He will never enter the Land of Israel but will only be able to glimpse it from afar. The generation he shepherded for 40 years has passed away, his sons will not inherit his position or power, and with his great gift of prophecy, he is aware of the terrible problems his beloved people of Israel must face and overcome through their long journey of history and destiny. Nevertheless, the joy of the presence of the Torah within our nation overcomes these feelings of melancholy. As long as Moshe’s words and ideal still live amongst the Jewish people there is great reason to rejoice. It means we have not lost our way and the eternity of Moshe and Israel is guaranteed. The nations of the world resent the fact we still have a chance to rejoice or attempt to live normal productive lives under terrible duress and distress. Simchat Torah comes to teach us that we should rejoice when we are able to do so, celebrate our existence and accomplishments even if things are not exactly as we would wish them to be. Completing the Torah reading is a matter of perseverance, as is all Jewish life. The Torah’s description of Moshe’s death is meant to impress us with the fact that Judaism is not the cult of the personality. Even when Moshe, the greatest ever Jew ever dies and leaves us bereft and alone, we are not to overly mourn and certainly not to despair. We may yet continue to rejoice because the eternal Torah is still present within us with great vigor and vitality. As far as we are concerned, the game is never defeated. That is the power the Torah grants us. It is the source of our great joy in celebrating the completion and simultaneous beginning of the reading of the Torah this year, so be it for all of the years to come.”
Rabbi Doron Perez in his article also writes “in our unpredictable and transient world, there is one immutable constant G. It is our unshakeable faith that everything is somehow ultimately for the good. There is Providence in unpredictability and purpose in seeming chaos. This allows us to transform our perspective and trust in that the Almighty knows what He is doing. Such is the transcendent power of faith and belief. It is for this very reason the Zohar calls the sukkah” tzila demehimenuta,” the shadow (or shade) of faith. Nothing is more temporary and transient than a shadow. It has no existence of its own and can disappear in a moment. Nevertheless, our temporary sukkah is the shadow cast by the most permanent reality of life- G, the Creator and Sustainer of all Life. When we understand we live in His shadow an all that happens is somehow a reflection of the purposeful plan of Providence- whether we understand it or not – we are ready to transform. So, as we begin the new year, still very much in the throes of the old, we can change. With our belief that everything is ultimately for the good, we can begin to celebrate the gift of life. We can cultivate peace of mind and faith-based serenity in our unpredictable, vulnerable world.”
What does the Ribono Shel Olom want from us ? To know how much He means to us by doing mitzvos, to be a mensch, to do chesed, Kiddush H, Torah, Avoda Ugemilus chasadim. We should be excited about Yiddishkeit and share that enthusiasm with others. What do we want from the Ribino Shel Olom? Let me share this with you on a personal note. As you know after having read previous articles which I included many personal emotional and spiritual life’s journey with my wife A”H during her illness and after she was nifteres there were understandably many tears during the grief and bereavement. But what are my tears in the present? The tears are from the heart beseeching His wisdom, His guidance, and the right path to take. From my wife not only to be a melitza yeshara, but I should continue to fulfill her wishes that I continue with the meaningful and good things I am doing which also brought her simchas hachayim with continued happiness in life. meant so much to her. When you think of this, we all have been beseeching the Aibershta not just for His forgiveness, but to help direct us in the right path with the proper wisdom and guidance we need every day of our lives. We pray that each of all of our loved ones who we recently recited the yizkor for to be a meilatz yashar for us and for us to do those things they would want for our lives to be filled with much happiness, success and simchas hachayim. But it is important to have Shalom, to have achdus, to remove any machlokes that would prevent achdus. We davened and cried our hearts out from the beginning of Elul, though the Yomim Nearim and Hoshana Rabba and again Yizkor on Shemini Ateres with the joy in our hearts on Simchas Torah. Our emunah our faith must never falter, the meaning of our Jewish way of life should be filled with kindness, understanding, sincerity, care for others, for each other and yes ourselves too. The Aibershta is sending us clear messages of how important it is to make a Kiddush H and not chas veshalom a Chilul H. We cannot permit COVOID-19 or any other disturbance in our daily lives to tear us asunder. We must impress upon our mispallim to be aware that there are many individuals who are fearful of contracting this virus and if anyone has any symptoms or has been near anyone with the virus to be considerate of others. I have been hearing from some and reading about many who feel they are immune and maybe so, but I also have heard from some that it is not serious, and they have not heard of anyone being hospitalized. But there are many who are homebound with fever and with other symptoms. There are many who have been hospitalized some on vents and in serious conditions. It is true, many do not have symptoms, and many have gotten over this virus without serious side effects at least none that we know of at this time. But part of our Yiddishkeit is to be caring for other’s. We each have to be a mensch. Of course, we also must have feelings for all those who were not able to celebrate Simchas Torah in their shuls. No matter what the reason is we still have to feel sadness for those shuls with no minyanim or had to make drastic changes, or for businesses to once again be closed if they ever were open to begin with all of these months. Our “normal way of lives” has been changed dramatically and often drastically. Our Yiddihskeit has kept us living meaningful lives even with all the chaos in the world. To all our rabbonim and rebbitzens, please continue to be a source of chizuk for your mispallim and all those you care for and encourage them to seek professional help from professional licensed practitioners during these difficult times. Much praise must be given to all our members for the tremendous support you have been giving. Special mention must be given to all chaplains who with their special training give so much expertise and supportive care in the various settings they serve in. All of our members who serve in professional settings as I have mentioned in the past are role models, and leaders for Klal Yisrael helping to encourage the Torah precepts with Ahavas Torah, Ahavas Chesed, Yiras Shamayim, Ahavas Yisrael and most of all Ahavas H. In Pirkei Avos mentions who is rich, whoever is content with what he has vesamachto vechelko and do not say “if only I could, would or have “Someone once asked HaGaon HaRav Dovid Feinstein for a bracha about a certain shidduch that it should work out. Rav Dovid’s response was to paraphrase that he could give a bracha that whatever the Ribono Shel Olom wants best for you should work out. Often individuals want something that maybe is not in his or her best interest. We are mispallel to have what the Aibershta wants us to have.
I would like to share these thoughts. If you were in a crowded room and people were standing next to a small table with a lichter and lit candles that is shaking, would you say something to the others to be careful. It is possible to prevent an accidental knocking over the lit candles onto the carpeting which could catch on fire. Aside from making a Kiddush H even if it is only a 1% of the population who is vulnerable (maybe more) and yes, they should be taking appropriate care for themselves, but we all should be thoughtful of them and who knows how many others that we might not know of. I have written this many times, listen to your medical specialists and your posek. It is not my position to question their decisions. My doctors tell me I should wear a mask, as best as possible keep social distancing and wash with soap and water thoroughly. On Shabbos for those not wanting to use soap which is supposed to be the best in cleansing the hands, then use liquid hand disinfectant or alcohol. Where I reside, management recently posted for all to read that they will be enforcing with giving (yes, it is true) a warning and then a fine of $100 for anyone not wearing a mask or observing social distancing in any of our building public arears (not apartments) meaning no congregating in the laundry rooms, parks between the buildings and only one family or a few in an elevator at any given time. With the cold weather, schools, businesses, sporadic scheduling, being in the presence of others who might have been a carrier ,flu season, colds season, they are concerned about having an outbreak in the buildings and want to prevent that from happening. There have been many articles, recommendations and so on about appropriate precautions and to really be considerate of others. It takes only one person even without symptoms to spread this virus. Rabbonim of shuls and yes even the rebbitzens can encourage making a Kiddush H. Listen to the following video sent to me as seen on Yeshiva World News today Tuesday October 13th, 2020 from the following Roshei Yeshiva, Rav Yisrael Resiman, Rav Elya Brundy and Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff. There have been other such messages in the past from Rav Hershel Schachter, Rav Mordechai Wullig and others., Bezras H. with everyone’s compliance we can and will overcome the on going illness in our communities. I know there has been constant controversy about wearing a mask. What is so important is not to speak loshon harah which could lead to sinas chinan. We have to have achdus in Klal Yisrael. Every Yid is an ambassador of H. What and how we act, do and say reflects on Klal Yisrael’s greatness.
May the Ribono Shel Olom remove all the illnesses and give us all the guidance, brachos and koach we need to help bring Moshiach soon. Let our emunah in H become stronger every single day and night. May our tefilos our bakawshos be answered. We are so grateful for all the wonderful opportunities no matter what impediments might come our way, to continuing learning Torah, Gemara, Halachos, Mussar and so much more as well as on line shirurim for men and women. We are also grateful for the multitudes of webinars helping with many difficult and challenging daily lives for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities. Please see the video that was posted on Yeshiva World News sent to me this past
Tuesday October 13th with HaRav Reisman, HaRav Brundy and HaRav Leiff.
I am presently working on collaborations with various organizations to be announced in the near future.
Continuing chaplaincy education and information ,please read the following information and registration link about the webinar especially geared for chaplains. There is no fee for this chaplaincy webinar. Many thanks to my long time chaver, Rabbi Lowell Kronick ,MHL,BCC Chaplain Coordinator, VACO National Chaplain Service Veterans Health Administration Department of Veterans Affairs for sharing the information with me about this forthcoming chaplaincy webinar.
This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim, Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan is two days, Sunday and Monday.
This Shabbos all tefillos as usual. There is no HazkarasNeshamos (Av HaRachamim and Kel Malei) and at Mincha we do not say Tzidkas’cha. The molad is Sunday morning, 23 minutes after 3:00 a.m. in Jerusalem.
Rosh Chodesh, Motza’ei Shabbos:at Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. (However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo (at Maariv only) one does not repeat. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1 on Berachos 30b explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night). Following the Shemoneh Esreh, the chazzan recites half Kaddish – all say Viyehi No’am and Ve’ata Kadosh. Chazzan recites Kaddish Tiskabbel (some say Havdala in the synagogue), followed by Aleinu, Kaddish Yasom.
Sunday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh, half-Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah from the Ark. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15), we call four Aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael), the Baal Keriah recites half-Kaddish. We return the Torah to the Aron, Ashrei,U’va LeTziyyon – we delete La’menatze’ach, the chazzan recites half-Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin.
Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by Reader’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitals (for mourners). Sefarad say shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half-Hallel, and before Aleinu they add Ein KeElokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.
Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, which we also add to Birkas Hamazon, as well as mention of RoshChodesh in Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times.
Sunday evening and Monday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh, the order of the day is the same as yesterday. Kiddush Levana at first opportunity (from the third evening after the molad), Wednesday evening, until the (entire) evening of Sunday, the 15th of Cheshvan.
The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and yeshivas for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapters 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis — calls upon members of the Jewish community to exercise respect and engage in civil discourse while protecting our religious liberty and our right to conduct public worship.
Over the past two weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have singled out the Orthodox Jewish community and imposed draconian measures locking down Orthodox neighborhoods. Without attributing malice to the mayor and governor, who in the past have been strong partners with the Orthodox Jewish community, the Rabbinical Alliance of America supports those who are challenging these measures in the courts as discriminatory. New York is facing an unprecedented challenge. The government and community must work together to successfully maintain public health, both spiritual and physical. Public well-being includes engaging in business and commerce while taking proper precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing, and also includes the ability to engage in public worship and religious education while taking necessary precautions.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America calls on the mayor and the governor to work together in good faith with the Jewish community to reach solutions that will safeguard public well-being in its broadest sense. Synagogues and yeshiva schools must be allowed to remain open in a safe and healthy way. The Rabbinical Alliance of America also calls on the entire public to follow public health guidelines in order to prevent the spread of disease and save lives. There is no excuse for failing to follow the publicly mandated health precautions.
Over the past week, some members of the Jewish community protested the closing of synagogues and yeshiva schools by engaging in violence and unacceptable behavior that does not reflect the attitudes of most members of the Jewish community. The Rabbinical Alliance of America unequivocally supports the need for public worship and our constitutional right to assemble and to congregate in our synagogues, especially over the joyous holidays of Sukkos, Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. However, protest must be done responsibly and peacefully. The behavior we have sadly and painfully witnessed, the language we have heard used, does not reflect a proper Torah attitude. We must rise to the challenge of demonstrating for our rights without resorting to violence or to dehumanizing or denigrating those we believe are depriving us of those rights. The Torah demands refinement of character.
As Jews, throughout our long history we have faced persecution and anti-Semitism. We celebrate the freedom and liberty that America offers our community and fiercely object when we risk losing them. We will not forfeit our right to openly and freely pray according to our sacred tradition and to educate our children as our religion demands. At the same token, we do not condone violence and reckless, disrespectful behavior toward the public or toward law enforcement officers and government officials. Such actions are counterproductive and will not successfully accomplish anything positive. We should never endanger law enforcement, nor create the impression that our community sanctions such harm. We, as a community, must commend law enforcement and appreciate how they place themselves in danger in order to protect our community. We pray they should safely return to their homes and loved ones each and every day.
Question: May one eat etrog jelly on Simchat Torah?
Answer: The Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 503:1, based on a Baraita (Betza 17a) states: “One is forbidden to bake, cook or slaughter on Yom Tov for the needs of the following day even if it be for the Sabbath or Yom Tov [the second day in the Diaspora] and even on the two days of Rosh Hashana [for we may not bake, cook and prepare on one day for the following].
As regards Rosh Hashana, Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayyimad loc.) explains that though our Sages (Betza 6a; see Rashi s.v. “Mi amar”) consider the two days as one long day (and one sanctity), this applies only to stringencies but not to leniencies.
We assume that you refer to Simchat Torah in the Diaspora, that is, the day after Shemini Atzeret. Shemini Atzeret, as its name indicates, is “the eighth day of assembly” that immediately follows the seven days of the Sukkot festival. (In Eretz Yisrael Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are celebrated on the same day, and that entails some halachic differences.)
Regarding Sukkot we read in Parashat Emor (Vayikra 23:40,42), “U’lekachtem lachem bayom harishon pri etz hadar kappot temarim va’anaf etz avot ve’arvei nachal u’semachtem lifnei Hashem Elokeichem shiv’at yamim . . . Basukkot teshvu shiv’at yamim, kol ha’ezrach B’Yisrael yeshvu ba’sukkot — You shall take unto yourselves on the first day the fruit of a citron (lit. a beautiful) tree, branches of date palms, myrtle branches (lit. branches of a plaited tree) and brook willows; and you shall rejoice before Hashem your G-d for seven days… You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all who are part of Israel shall dwell in booths.”
The Talmud (Sukkah 35a, Lulav Hagazul) concludes, through a process of elimination, that “pri etz hadar,” the fruit of a beautiful tree, is indeed our etrog (referred to as a citron). R. Avahu explains that hadar refers to the fact that the etrogshedar – that resides on the tree from year to year, and Ben Azzai points out that idur (hydor) means water in Greek, and the etrog is a fruit that grows by every water [source].
A Mishna further on in that chapter (ibid. 41a) states: “Formerly (in Temple times) the lulav [together with the etrog and the other Species] was taken in the Temple all seven days, and one day only in the provinces (Rashi: including the city of Jerusalem outside the Temple area). When the Temple was destroyed, R. Yochanan b. Zakkai ordained that in remembrance of the Temple, the lulav [and the other three Species] be taken seven days in the provinces as well . . .”
The practice in the Temple era was based on the literal interpretation of the beginning of the verse, “You shall take unto yourselves on the first day . . .” But the conclusion of the verse, “And you shall rejoice before Hashem your G-d for seven days,” allows the interpretation that it be taken for seven days, that is, all the days that we were commanded to rejoice in the Temple on that festival (as R. Yochanan b. Zakkai later on ordained).
Accordingly, R. Yosef Caro (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 665, Etrog asur le’echol ba’shevi’i) states that it is forbidden to eat the etrog on the seventh day since it is muktzeh, i.e., it was set apart for all seven days [for the mitzvah]. Even should it become invalid [due to some deficiency] after it was used for the performance of the mitzva, it nevertheless remains forbidden for the remaining time of those seven days; on Shemini Atzeret [the eighth day] it is permitted; but in the Diaspora, where we observe two days of Yom Tov, it is also forbidden on the eighth day [Shemini Atzeret] and permitted on the ninth day [Simchat Torah] even if it falls on a Sunday. However, there are some who prohibit it in the instance where Simchat Torah falls on a Sunday.
The Mishna Beruraad loc. explains the ruling of the Mechaber regarding an etrog on the seventh day, but notes that if one had, for example, as many as seven etrogim, with a different etrog set apart for each day, each etrog would remain forbidden only that entire day until nightfall.
The Mechaber’s ruling that the etrog remains forbidden even on the eighth day in the Diaspora is derived from the fact that we are dealing with sefeika de’yoma (a doubt regarding the day), and we follow the advice which the Sages of Eretz Yisrael sent to the Babylonian communities (Betza 4b), “Hizaharu beminhag avoteichem — Give heed to the customs of your ancestors” (although there was already an established calendar in existence).
The Mishna Berura adds that if Simchat Torah occurs on a Sunday, we do not abide by the constraint of hachana (preparation). The Torah teaches us (Shemot 16:5), “Ve’haya bayom hashishi ve’hechinu et asher yavi’u, ve’haya mishneh al asher yilketu yom yom — And it shall be that on the sixth day [Friday], when they prepare that which they bring in, it will be twice as much as what they gather daily.” We apply the concept of preparation to something that is not yet in existence — such as an egg that was not yet laid — but the etrog already exists. The opposing view maintains that it is prohibited nevertheless, and the Mishna Berura explains that opinion with the argument that the very fact it was prohibited on the eighth day implies the concept of hachana.
The Mishna Berura also advises us that Eliyahu Rabbah, although he subscribes to the stricter opinion, is more lenient in times of need since most authorities permit it.
Partaking of an etrog, whether in the form of a jelly or a liqueur, does require some form of preparation. Liqueur requires soaking the whole fruit, and what is familiarly known as “etrog jelly” is actually a marmalade which consists of both the fruit and its peel. Since the fleshy part of the etrog is scant in relation to the peel, there would be little left if the peel is not used, and therefore the etrog is sliced and soaked before preparing the jelly. This year especially, when Shemini Atzeret is on Shabbos, there would be no time to prepare this jelly so that it can be eaten on Simchat Torah.
Considering the hypothetical case referred to by the Mishna Berura, there is also the problem that most people do not have access to several etrogim. Thus we might ask whether eating this delicacy on Simchat Torah, even if it was prepared before Sukkot, creates a situation of mar’it ayin (lit. appearance to the eye) – an unseemly appearance. Some actions, although permitted, might be mistaken as prohibited [thus resulting in mistakenly suspecting someone of transgressing, or alternatively, incorrectly inferring that a forbidden action is permissible]. The Rabbis rule that actions prohibited because of mar’it ayin are forbidden even in private (see Tractate Shabbos 146b).
We might look for a possible solution to the problem of mar’it ayin in the Aruch Hashulchan’s discussion (Yoreh De’ah 97:1) of the Rabbinic prohibition (Pesachim 36a) to knead dough with milk. The prohibition was instituted because of the worry that dough kneaded with milk might mistakenly be eaten with meat (which is a much more severe violation than mar’it ayin). And yet Rambam permits it if the shape of the dough is significantly altered, to indicate that the baked item may not be eaten with meat. And the Aruch HaShulchan points out that items baked with milk or butter is easily discernible as such [speaking of local bakeries in Eastern Europe].
Today one can leave the original printed wrapping of the baked item on the table, thus making it possible to ascertain the ingredients.
We can look for ways to make it clear that the etrog jelly eaten on Simchat Torah was made before the holiday of Sukkot, or that it was made from etrogim that were never used to fulfill the mitzvah of the Four Species. One could leave the etrog that was used on Sukkot in full sight, on display as it were, together with the other Species.
Of course, this problem would not arise in an area where there is a glut of etrogim. Indeed, I am reminded of a conversation I had with my late dear friend, Rav Gershon Tannenbaum, director of Igud HaRabbonim, who told me that in Yemen they eat etrogim all year round. In such places one assumes that the marmalade was made from etrogim that were reserved for eating.
In our society, however, great care must be taken not to arouse suspicion in any manner, and to follow the advice Moshe Rabbenu gave to the tribes of Reuven and Gad (Bamidbar 32:22), “Vih’yitem nekiyim me’Hashem u’mi’Yisrael — You shall be guiltless before G-d and before Israel” [i.e., your fellowmen].
Rabbi Yaakov Klass is chairman of the Presidium of the Rabbinical Alliance of America; rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn; and Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Rabbi@igud.us.