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< Tishrei 5782 September 2021 >
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Values Index - Customs of Israel

[Our Sages] explained the verse "The LORD is your guardian, the LORD is your shade [protection] at your right hand", which presents a double difficulty. Since it says "The LORD is your guardian" why does it repeat "the LORD is your shade"? This teaches us that the Almighty is like a shadow. A shadow does what the person does; should a person close their hand, the shadow will close its hand, and should the person open their hand, so will the shadow open its hand. So it is with the Almighty, Who does as a person does. If one opens one's hand, the Holy One, blessed be He, opens His hand, and bestows unlimited blessings.
Issachar Ve'Zevulun, The Attribute of Charity and Torah Toil, p. 37, Ahavat Shalom Publishing, Modi'in Illit, 2008
We should question ourselves concerning our womenfolk, who eat and drink before the Sabbath prayer, and then the men recite Kiddush for them. Do they act appropriately or not? Must they recite the Kiddush according to law or not, since this takes place before the prayer? …. The prohibition to eat before prayer applies to women as well, just as to men. Since this is the case, they are not to be considered as those who are hungry or thirsty - the hungry and thirsty are permitted to eat - the obligation of Kiddush applies to them. But this is not the case with women whose eating is not according to the Sages' intention; the obligation of Kiddush before prayer does not apply to them by law for the reason that they are not permitted to eat. Also, one must say that the law for these womenfolk - our womenfolk, who do not pray at all, not Shacharit nor during the entire day - is that the obligation of Kiddush does not apply to them during any part of the day. This situation, then, is to be avoided, otherwise we would be rewarding those who transgress…as though it were not enough that they eat when forbidden, we would also be allowing them to do so without Kiddush and this commandment, too, would be uprooted from them… For if a person transgresses and eats before prayer, it is not because he made one transgression by eating that we should also permit him to eat without Kiddush! It would be fitting to say, concerning those who eat in any case, that "at the place of reading there shall be pleasure". Despite that the pleasure is a forbidden one, people have, in this case, enjoyed pleasure and are, in any case, obligated to Kiddush. Therefore, those womenfolk who eat not in accordance with the wishes of our Sages, may they rest in peace, and are transgressing must nevertheless, since they are having enjoyment, recite the Kiddush… Anyhow, womenfolk who drink coffee on the Sabbath morning before Kiddush, act inappropriately. Therefore it seems that the proper and good way is that on Sabbath mornings women begin by making a supplication at the mezuzah and go on to recite the Kiddush, and then drink their coffee. All the same, a man is obligated to teach the members of his household to recite a supplication - in order to fulfill the commandment of prayer.has a special house in which to sleep must light, since as he has a specific house in which to sleep and the public sees him enter and leave it. The risk is that if he does not light, the public does not know that he eats in another place… What is implied by what was written here is that a son who is supported by his father - even if he is married, even if he wishes to light in the room in which he sleeps – (and this seems straightforward to me) may not recite the blessing unless he wishes to light himself – he depends on his father reciting the blessing [to fulfill the commandment]. This entire question is relevant in the case that he wishes to light so as enhance the commandment, for the principle of the law, in my humble opinion, is that it suffices that he participate with his father with a few pennies worth. He needn't at all light in his room, since in our times we actually light inside. This is certainly so in our city, where everybody would know who eats together with his father. Anyhow, concerning our case – a father who eats in his son's home and sleeps in another room must light only in the room in which he eats with his son; all this applies when the son is married, for if he is not married he need not even participate with a few pennies.
Chessed LeAvraham, Part 1, Orakh Haim, paragraph A, Bezalel Halevy Ashkenazi Press, p. 11a-b, Salonika, 1813
Nine hours away from Aram Tzova there is a village called Tiddif…where is a large synagogue. Our tradition has it that at the time they left the exile in the city of Babylon in the days of Ezra the Scribe, may his merit protect us amen, they came to this village. A debate began among [the people of] Israel concerning additions and omissions [in the Torah scroll]. Ezra, our master, said to them that "it should be written thus, and if you do not believe [me] – I will hereby write a Torah scroll, and leave an empty space for the Name of the Holy One blessed be He…I will set it aside overnight. Should you, at morning time, find the Name written as it should be – then you will know that I bear the truth. And they did so, and sealed that cave's door. Came morning. They opened it and saw the Name written in lovely and pleasing script. They built a beautiful synagogue by the cave, and there is a spring near the village, where our master Ezra, may his merit protect us amen, would bathe his body, and the place is called Ein Al Azair by the Gentiles as well, and every year in the months of Elul and Tishrei, people who have taken a vow at a moment of distress go there, to the hillula, and light candles in his commemoration.
Holech Tamim VePo'el Tzedek, memories of Aram Tzova, p. 131 - 132. Printed in Jerusalem, 1978
The custom of Egyptian Jews is not to recite Tahanun when a youth, learning how to fulfill the commandment of tefillin, is present in the synagogue. It seems that the origin of the custom concerning a youth turning 13 years of age lies in the fact that at this moment he resembles a groom, as the Magen Avot wrote, in section 225, in the following words: "It is a mitzvah for a person to hold a festive meal on the day his son becomes Bar Mitzvah, just as when he comes under the wedding canopy." End quote. His joy engages the congregation, so that they do not recite the Tahanun. The congregation is also joyful because an additional adult has joined them. Also, it was the custom to put tefillin on the youth on the exact day of his Bar Mitzvah, and some may have thought that laying Tefillin precludes reading Tahanun, so that even in our day - when the precise age of the youth is not taken into account, and some put on the Tefillin before [the date] and some do so after (which is not according to rule) - the custom, not to recite Tahanun on the day of the laying of Tefillin, has remained.
Shnot Haim im Mekor Haim, section 8, halakhot on Tahanun, paragraph 10 p. 29b, Halevy Zuckerman Printing, Jerusalem, 1921
If, Heaven forbid, a person's relative died during a particular year, then one must take care not to weep about this at all on the Seder eve, and the people of the household are not to agonize about this. One should gather one's strength and overcome one's nature notwithstanding; he, his wife and household should be happy and be strong and, with God's help, their luck will improve.
While we were still living abroad in the town of Amadiah, we had an excellent custom on this matter. On Passover eve, after the afternoon and evening prayers, or in the morning at dawn we would go to the home of one who was still within the twelve months [of mourning the deceased] and dress all the household members in festive garments, and go to the Passover festival prayers together.
Ma'asei Gedolim, Leviticus, Tzav weekly portion, section 15, B, p. 90. Ma'arav Printing, Jerusalem, 1974
It is our custom to gather at the baby's home the night preceding the circumcision, and reading from the Lech Lecha portion of the holy Zohar, singing hymns and songs, and praising the Covenant-Maker, who has granted a male child to the parents. Far be it from us to forbid this, and would that this hallowed Jewish custom endure…
We found this hallowed custom in Siach Yaakov, the holy book by our Teacher, the divine kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Alfieh, of blessed memory, a Jerusalem sage and one of the Beit El kabbalists in our mighty city.
Eshed Hanechlim, Part 3, p. 290, Raphael Ben Haim Hacohen Press, Jerusalem, 2009
It is the custom to release vows on Rosh Hashanna… Here, in the city of Safi, the custom has been to release vows on the 19th of Av, forty days before Yom Kippur, because it says in the holy Zohar that "Banishment or censure decreed by the Court of Heaven lasts forty days, and the prayers of whoever has been banished are not heard." The release of vows, therefore, is done forty days before Yom Kippur, after which time much care is to be taken not to do anything that deserves banishment.
Korban Mincha, p. 149, Nissim Ben Baruch Publishing, Kiryat Sefer, 1998
It is reasonable to say that in all serious gatherings and useful discussion there is no breach [of modesty] and men meet with women on a daily basis for commercial exchange and negotiate, and there is nevertheless no breach and no outcry. And even those of more breached carnality will not contemplate carnality while dealing seriously in commerce. And our masters said 'do not increase conversation with the woman' (Avot 1, 5) only concerning unnecessary idle conversation, and such conversation leads to sin, but a conversation of debate concerning important and public issues does not. Sitting together in one place for the sake of public work, which is saintly work, does not accustom one to transgression or lead to negligence, and all the men and woman of Israel are saintly, and not suspect of breaching the boundaries of modesty and morality.
Mishpatei Uziel Responsa, Chapter 2, paragraph 6
Our sages and rabbis, who have stood for us firmly in the past and still do in the present, are as connected to each other by their very beings as links are in a chain, leading to our Teacher, Moses, may he rest in peace, who received the Torah from the Almighty. Every rabbi, leader and rabbinic court that stands firmly for the People of Israel is like a link in the chain…
And it is a known fact that when a person shakes the last link of a chain - even if it be several hundred meters long and reach the top of a mountain thousands of meters high, and shaken from way below on the ground - the first link moves as well.
This is what the chain of transmission - received by our forefathers and passed on from one person to the next, going back to Moses, may he rest in peace - is like. Every word of learning expressed by the sages of any generation, even the least of them, is an expression of our Teacher, Moses, and the Almighty, and is as though the Shechina is speaking from the mouth of that sage himself.
Derishat Rachamim, Sermon 2, pp. 14 – 15, published by the author, 1985
There is a simple custom here, in the holy city of Jerusalem - may it be built and established, observed by even the simple folk in front of rabbis and prominent individuals, of wrapping oneself in the large tallit, observed even by young men who have not yet married.
This differs from the custom in the Maghreb, where simple folk do not wear a large tallit at all, and only Torah scholars do so - they alone wear a large tallit, no others do. This differs also from the Ashkenazi custom, where unmarried young men do not wear a tallit at all, even if they are scholars, while they are single. This is not to be considered vanity, for it has been the custom for generation after generation, and none have spoken out against it.
Sha'ar HaMifkad, Volume C, Hilchot Tzizit, paragraph 4, p. 1, Harav Levy Zuckerman Printing, Jerusalem, 1919
Lag ba'Omer evening, just like the day, involves an obligation to rejoice, a celebration of Torah, for which ornate lamps are lit. The way to the synagogue is accompanied by a procession of drums, violins and zithers, of poetry and song. Once there, all the books of Zohar and the new Zohar and its amendments are taken out, and the book of Hillula Raba praising the Teacher is studied in a great and splendid assembly; charity is given and pledges made, a festive meal of food and drink laid out, and songs praising God are sung all night.
This is also the case of Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNess' Hillula on the Second Passover, may his memory preserve us, during which we study the book Meir Bat 'Ayin, distributing the readings of all the mishnayot and learning them together in pleasant and clear language; songs are sung until the light of dawn, and pledges of charity for the elevation of his saintly soul are made. It has become the custom throughout the Jewish world to give charity in his memory. People who find themselves in distress declare "I hereby give charity for the elevation of Rabbi Meir Ba'al Haness' soul", calling "God of Meir, answer me!" three times, and are delivered from their troubles. This has been confirmed by several amazing and miraculous accounts that took place in ancient times as well as in our day.
Shalom David, p. 104, Castro and Friend Publishing, Tunis, 1909
If we interpret "All my bones shall say…" to mean that a person sway during recitation, it was not meant to refer to prayer but to psalms and other parts of the service, and not to the ‘Amida [Eighteen Benedictions]. A person who sways cannot focus their intention, whereas a person who stands steady can increase their focus, this is verifiable. Also, it is not appropriate behavior to sway before the King as might a tree in the forest before the wind, and it says "…acacia trees, standing" – Seraphim stand as do rooted trees.
Rabbi Eliezer Yedid Halevy's Books, Aryeh Sha'ag, p. 176, Yeshivat Kedushat Yom Tov Press, Jerusalem, 2008
"All of Israel has a share in the World-to-Come". It is the Jewish custom to recite this Mishna before reading a Mishna or Halakha. The reason may be found in what our sages, of blessed memory, said: "Whoever supports Torah scholars is considered as though he studies, 'for to be in the shelter of wisdom is to be also in the shelter of money'. We learn from this that those who support Torah scholars are considered as though they, themselves, study because they enable Torah scholars to study and are rewarded as though they have fulfilled [the mitzvah].
This is what is meant by "All of Israel". 'All' – includes the supporters, which is why we always recite this Mishna before we study, indicating that the supporters are rewarded as though they themselves study, as the verse that follows shows, "And Your people are all righteous". Question: Are there not, however, some people who do not deal in Torah? But by supporting them and providing them with a livelihood, they share the reward and all are, therefore, righteous.
Orchot Haim, p. 334, Ahavat Shalom Publishing, Jerusalem 1990
Whether the blessing is to be recited before lighting or after lighting remains a debate among Halachic adjudicators. I have seen cases in which men light and first recite the blessing, and the women [do so] after lighting; one should follow one's own custom.
Geulat Hashem, Hatavat Hanerot, p. 12b, Israel Kushta and Friends, Livorno, 1864
Concerning the Ner Tamid that is customarily lit in synagogues using olive oil or other kosher lighting oils, new things have arrived of late. A certain rabbi has come here, an Ashkenazi who became a rabbi in Shanghai, may God protect it, and instructed to take down the Ner Tamid and to light an electric one in its place, for its light is powerful and also because in all British regions they have the custom of lighting [with] electricity instead of olive oil. They ask whether doing so is permitted, for it is known that the Torah said: "that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually" – while electricity comes from the earth and can be called neither oil nor lamp…
It is shown by the words of the Shulchan Aruch that the obligation in synagogues is not olive oil in particular, since he wrote: It is the custom to light lamps to honor them. End quote. He did not write that there is an obligation to enhance the mitzvah by using olive oil. Concerning the Sabbath light he did write about enhancing the mitzvah [by using] olive oil.
Therefore, if it is difficult for them to light with olive oil and their intent is to honor the synagogue by illuminating it well with electricity, one should not protest if they act thus. And God, blessed be He, will illuminate our eyes with His Torah, amen.
Yad Eliyahu, Part A, Introduction, p. 9b, Shemesh David Torah Library, Jerusalem, 1992
Reuben dedicated his property [for the public fund], and his widow now claims [the sum of] her ketuba [marriage contract]. This means that it is to be paid from the monies that her late husband designated for the hekdesh, since he had no other property. We seek that you instruct us, whether the law is on her side - since it is clearly stated in her ketuba that he issued a lien to her for land and additional property - or whether she does not have the authority to withdraw funds from the hekdesh…
The words of the scribes are rigorous and good, as those who have the authority to expropriate monies. Even if their rulings may be contested, it is usually appropriate to not to seize [funds] from their possession. Townspeople's amendments, however, are made according to the ways of merchants, through negotiation and as each generation sees fit, just as in our case, where they refrain from consuming designated properties, so as to maintain order and so that individuals not incur losses and the like, certainly no individual has the authority to annul a ruling [Din Torah] by contesting its amendment, the principal of law being is but general custom…According to the sum of reasons and explanations I have here written, it seems that the widow should be granted the power of attorney that the amount of her ketuba be paid out from the monies her late husband designated to the Hekdesh.
Machaneh Ephraim, Halakhot on Claiming Debts, Section 1, p. 535 – 540, Or Haim – New Press, The Center for Jewish Books, Jerusalem 2011
The custom to refrain from eating meat from the 17th of Tammuz is the equivalent of a vow. However, if one has the opportunity to participate in an obligatory festive meal they are permitted to eat meat, for it is not actually a vow but is considered as having accepted to undertake a fast. It is like saying "I will fulfill this commandment" when it is obligatory by law. Any case of a mitzvah is permitted, since a vow to fulfill a mitzvah is not applied at the expense of another mitzvah.
Machaneh Ephraim, Halakhot on Vows, Section 40, p. 77, Or Haim – New Press, The Center for Jewish Books, Jerusalem 2011
The choice time to fulfill the commandment of reciting the Eighteen Benedictions is at the break of dawn, precisely; not before and not after. It is known that righteous people of old would complete the recitation at the crack of dawn. This is called Tefillat Vatiqim. The ancient custom at the Chesed El congregation on Mount Zion is to recite the Eighteen at the crack of dawn, according to the orderly calculations made by the great Rabbi Yehosef Schwartz, may he rest in heaven. And, seeing as our location is at a great height, we go up to the roof to see the sun begin to rise from behind the mountain, where the Temple Mount is situated, and when the moment arrives, we recite, "Who redeems Israel" and begin the Eighteen. This is how we always pray.
VaTitpallel Hanna, Ethics and Issues Pertaining to Prayer, p 24a-b, Zuckerman Printing, Jerusalem, 1889
There were a few women in Tripoli, the capital, and from the nearby provincial towns who maintained the Rachel Imeinu Fund, the proceeds of which were designated for the renowned Sephardi yeshivot of Jerusalem. It was principally women who donated to this fund…Some of the women who had these charity boxes would go from house to house on the eve of every New Moon to collect donations for Rachel Imeinu and were, of course, graciously received; each woman donated in keeping with her ability.
The privilege of being a Rachel Imeinu member was justly considered a great privilege that was not under any conditions to be relinquished, by neither the aged nor the infirm, and neither the winter rains nor the harsh summer weather could prevent these fundraisers from going out. And so we would see aged women bent with age, who walked with great difficulty, making a supreme effort and going out every eve of the New Moon to fulfill this good deed that required hours of tiring walking from house to house…
The blessings given to the donors by the fundraisers to the effect that the righteousness of Rachel Imeinu protect and preserve them and their entire families were often exceeded by those given to the fundraising women by the donors - for having accorded them the privilege of fulfilling their pledges and being party to supporting Torah scholars in the Holy Land …
Hochmot Nashim, p.9, The Libyan Communities Committee in Israel, Tel Aviv, 1981
It is a widespread custom not to raise the Torah scroll during the Shacharit prayer as is usually done, when the Torah scroll is lifted and its writing shown to the people standing to its left and to its right, and turned frontward and back, and then VeZot HaTorah is recited, as written in Sefer HaSofrim.
I did not find this written in any book. Where has the custom not to raise the Torah scroll on the 9th of Av during the Shacharit prayer originated? It may be that this custom developed because lifting the Torah scroll and showing it to the congregation, from side to side, in all four directions to show its writing, seems to be a joyous sight. Had I not seen that this is custom is commonplace, I would say that it is an error and that the custom should be annulled, for this lifting is required according to Tractate Sofrim Chapter 13, brought by the Rabbi, Beit Yosef, may he rest in peace, in Orah Haim, section 134. And by Nachmanides in his commentary on the Ki Tavoh Torah reading portion. And the Beit Yosef shows the reference in the Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Sotah, where it says, "Cursed be he who does not raise it: Why, can the Torah descend? Rabbi Simon bar Yochai says: This refers to the cantor. The Sages explain that a cantor who does not lift the Torah scroll in public must show its writing to the public, as it says in Tractate Sofrim.
If the cantor who does not raise the Torah scroll is considered to be cursed, why not raise the Torah scroll on the 9th of Av during Shacharit as usual? It is hardly plausible to say that Nachmanides was referring to all other days. Who disagreed with him, and on what basis? Since on the 9th of Av the Torah is taken out and read, I have decreed that here, in Izmir, may God protect it, in the Portuguese community, may God protect it, the Torah scroll is to be raised on the 9th of Av during Shacharit. We are not to abandon Nachmanides' explicit words based on the Jerusalem Talmud on the basis of a custom for which we have found no basis in any books, and to cause a curse, heaven forbid. I have written what is, in my modest opinion, apparent.
Be'i Hayay, Orah Haim, Part b, section 37, p. 79 – 80, Machon HaKetav Publishing, Jerusalem, 1984
This Sabbath day is called Shabbat Kallah by the People of Israel for two reasons: Because it was our forefathers' custom to utter holy words on this Sabbath and to fulfil what they, of blessed memory, wrote 'Moses enacted for [the People of] Israel that they should inquire and expound upon the matter of the day'. And also because the Assembly of Israel is named the 'bride of the holy groom', since by the Torah which was handed to us by our Teacher Moses, may he rest in peace, He consecrated us in total sanctification [kiddushin].
Divrei Hizkiahu, Vol. 2, Zichron Tzaddikim, p.309, Jerusalem, 1952
It is the custom that circumcisers take no fee for circumcision and that they vie with one another for the privilege. Many of them even go from one town to another, where there is no circumciser, and take no fee aside from travel expenses. The more meticulously observant ones among them even pay the travel expenses out their own pockets.
Brit Kehuna Hashalem, p. 277b, 1940
Concerning the faithful custom on Lag B'Omer eve, when candles are sold, when the names of certain Tana'im and Emora'im are mentioned and candles lit in their honor:
I have heard that at that very moment, the Tzaddik himself comes from the World of Truth and peers into the face of the person; he leaves remembering that person's name and form. When the person dies, the Tzaddik comes to their defense, saying how that person spent of their money and lit candles in honor of Tzaddikim.
Not having seen us and not having known us, but for the sake of their faith, as much merit as possible is sought for them; all the more so for a person who learns Torah and mentions their names in the Mishnah or tractate making his lips move in his grave – that person is helped even more.
Ahavat Haim, Shemini Torah reading portion, p. 34, Hevrat Ahavat Haim Press, Jerusalem, 1994
The women in room knead the dough, and so that they not tarry, request help from the boys, who pour water for them on the dough in order to speed up the kneading. Immediately after, they pass the dough to the men leaning over the tables and the person standing at the head of the table distributes the dough to them. The kneading by the men begins immediately, and they break out in jubilant song, reading the Hallel with great joy and outstanding devotion. Once the matzah takes its form, the boys make holes in them and those standing bring the matzoth to the bakery as quickly as possible, to prevent its leavening, to observe "and they could not tarry". The singing of Hallel echoes between the bakery walls during the entire time the matzoth are being prepared and can be heard from afar.
Ish Eshkolot, p. 59, Yaacov Sabban. From Rabbi Menini, published by R. Cohen and M. Haddad at Yated Teshuva Printing, Safed, 1987
What good personal qualities have those who make the effort to immigrate to the Land of Israel! The sooner the better, out of honor for the Shechina and to take her out of exile, and also to repair the world [Tikun 'Olam] so that the Messiah might arrive, as it says above, "to prepare his place". Those who are neglectful about immigrating to the Land of Israel, claiming that they await the Messiah's arrival, are mistaken for those who await and believe in his coming must be in Israel. Just like a person awaiting to receive a king, one must be there several hours in advance to find a place, and waiting for a king is part of honoring him. One should not remain at home and let the king arrive and wait for people.
Also, the Messiah will come to gather those Jews who are in remote places – those in remote places are the ones behind the Iron Curtain, or behind the Sambatyon River, or beyond the Mountains of Darkness, but who can say that those living in the lands of freedom and liberty are remote?... On this matter, it says in the Torah that "The hidden things belong to the LORD our God" – this refers to those Jews who live in hidden places such as behind the Iron Curtain and the like…but the "revealed" ones must harken to the voice calling "Go forth from your native land".
Lech Lecha, pp. 30 – 31, HaTehiya Press, Jerusalem, 1963
In 1915, during the World War, may a disaster not occur twice, we were exiled from the Holy City to Na Ammon [Egypt] and, on Lag Ba’Omer, I was asked to say a few words of Torah…
This holy and awesome day, marking the decease of the greatest of our masters, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, may his acclaim protect us Amen, has become a festival day of joy and celebration throughout the world’s Jewish communities. It is a very puzzling matter, since on the anniversary of the decease of the greatest of our masters, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai it would seem appropriate that we fast, weep and mourn at our loss of the world’s light. Yet we do the opposite, strangely, feasting in joy and celebration… How odd!
However, one part of the Torah, a superior part, was not revealed to the world until the day of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s decease, may he rest in peace, when permission was granted for its revelation. So that the day of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s decease is like the day of the Giving of the Torah…and since it was revealed on that day, this superior part could now exist for generations to come. This day, therefore, has become one of feasting and joy, and a festival likened to the day of the Giving of the Torah itself.
Am Mordecai, Sermon for Lag Ba’Omer, p. 35b, HaMaarav Press, Jerusalem, 1933
Ours is a "gathering" land. A land that gathers its children, who are returning to it from the ends of the earth. From one hundred and more countries, and speaking over eighty languages. Each ethnic community has its customs, each land its ways, and they do not resemble one another.
They are equal in that they hold the ways of their forefathers, whose customs light the way for them. Those who preach a consolidation of these ethnic communities are unaware of the great loss and damage that could be caused by a consolidation that would blur and lose the glorious and lovely values, customs and traditions that each community has maintained for two thousand years. A vase holding different flowers of a wealth of color and perfume is preferable to one holding flowers of a single type and color.
Our intention and objective in "unifying" the ethnic communities and "joining" the tribes one to another follows Ezekiel's prophecy, "And you, son of Man, take a stick…bring them close to each other, so they become one stick, joined together in your hand." Bring them close together, but do not consolidate them and blur their differences. What is unique must be preserved within the union.
Hagigei Habosem, Adam VeTachlito, p.43 Shauli Spiritual Community Center and Synagogue Publishing, Ashdod, 1984
The wording of the 'May it be Your will' prayer before Psalms reads: 'That we merit to live seventy years, or even by reasons of strength eighty years' and the wording is the same in several prayer books in the 'May it be Your will' recited upon the opening of the ark. What should an elder who is more than eighty recite? Moreover, even if one has not yet reached seventy, why ask for a limited term – when the Holy One, blessed be He, has perhaps accorded him a longer life? He should therefore not recite this version, but say: that we should merit a long and proper life. This version, certainly, holds mystical value, being the prayer recited by the Cohen Gadol at the end of Yom Kippur, upon his safely departing from the Sanctity.
Likutei Khemed, Part One, Halakhot for Rosh Hashanah, Halakha 21, p. 144, Hapoel Hamizrachi Press, 1977
It does not suffice to engage in Torah through reflection. It should be voiced, with a melody and tune, as the Talmud says, 'concerning anyone who reads without a melody or studies without a song, the verse states: So too I gave them statutes that were not good...' So that when it is fully enunciated with a holy melody…it becomes inscribed in the person's heart and is bequeathed to him as a gift.
Sefer HaMa'a lot, p. 39, Ahavat Shalom Publishing, Jerusalem 2008
Many people hold on to all types of embellishments of commandments to which charitable acts are preferable tenfold. Some sing Shalom Aleichem in a leisurely way, while their hungry guests' stomachs are rumbling…
We should always try to learn and consider what the Holy One, blessed be He, desires from us. There will be cases when it will become clear that at times when the Almighty's will is that we benefit people – rather that embellish embellishments with embellishments, which may be neither required, appropriate nor timely.
Netivei Or, Counsel and Pearls, p. 256, Nivei HaKetav, Jerusalem, 2008
Despite the fact that to date it has not been customary to perform marriages during the bein ha'metzarim period among Sephardim and among 'Edot HaMizrach as well, I have instructed that leniency be applied from now on…
I have heard that there are some who protest my approach, saying that since the Chief Rabbis of Tel Aviv-Yaffo who set stringency as the norm preceded me, the custom should not be changed, and that this is not a matter I have the have authority to oppose. It is, in any case, a known fact that the Sephardi Chief Rabbis preceding me were dominated by their colleagues, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis…who were in charge and controlled those rabbis who perform marriages, and imposed Ashkenazi custom everywhere. They remained silent for the sake of peace, ministers refrained from speaking, "Nobles held back their words; They clapped their hands to their mouths". These things are clear and public knowledge. In such a case, it is certainly not to be considered a custom…and for us, who are not dominated, praise the LORD, I will stand guard to reinstate the glory of the past, and instruct in keeping with the opinion of Maran [our master] whose teachings we have accepted.
Yabi'a Omer Responsa, Part 6 – Orakh Haim, Section 43, p. 142, Jerusalem, 1976
Question: Some twenty years ago an Ashkenazi man came to live among us in Gilat, having married a Sephardi (Tunisian) woman. He followed his Sephardi wife's customs on every matter for he knew nothing of his forefathers' customs, he also did not wish to follow their customs. They had, thank God, three children, two of them boys who 'earned the crown of Torah' and rose in sanctity and awe of Heaven. Somebody told one of the boys that he was to follow Ashkenazi custom, his father being Ashkenazi, and he came to me asking what he should do, both brothers having been my pupils when they were young and having since entered senior yeshivas; they are saintly in all good things, may God be their support, Amen.
Answer: Before asking me about the sons, ask about the father himself. Will he follow Ashkenazi custom or continue to follow his original custom? …Although the [book] HaPanim Me'irot states in part B paragraph 60 on page 121 that an Ashkenazi who acts lenient contrary to the RAM"A [Rabbi Meir Abulafia] must repent, our Master and Rabbi Rishon LeZion [Maran Rabbi Ovadia Yosef] wrote in Yabia 'Omer that this is certainly the case in their original places of abode, courts and palaces, but in the Land of Israel and its surroundings, where Maran's instruction has been accepted, one is certainly permitted to follow local custom in the place one resides…He wrote so in Avkat Rochel paragraph 212 as well, that Ashkenazim should follow Sephardim, because when the Jewish settlement was initiated the Sephardim were a majority, and Ashkenazim gradually increased in number little by little…Here, in Gilat, we have no independent Beit Din and all follow Sephardi custom…and since the father himself is permitted to follow Sephardi custom, his sons – who since their birth have followed this custom – are not to return to their forefathers' custom.
Toldot Peretz, Volume 1, Yoreh De'a Responsa, pp. 128 – 129, published by the author's family, Gilat, 1981
He who utters poetry and song in a pleasant voice, and composes piyut [liturgical songs] – appropriately – in honor of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, who has accomplished miracles and wonders for us, gets to see the countenance of the Redeeming King and Elijah, especially if he sings at his table… and what our rabbis of blessed memory said is known: [the word] zemirot [songs of praise] if from the linguistic form of "pruning", as in "pruning tyrants", so that he may prune all klipot [spiritual obstacles] and sabotage evil angels, and the advocates shall arise, just as when the people of Israel gained passage through the sea to dry land by virtue of the poetry and song they uttered, as it is said "The LORD is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation".
Kiseh Rachamim – Commentary on the Torah, Parshat Mishpatim, p. 99
Communities of Georgian origin, whether abroad or in Israel, customarily read and study the Avot tractate before the Mincha prayer during the six Sabbath days between the festivals of Passover and Atzeret, in keeping with the Sephardim's custom.
Some of our Ashkenazi brothers have the custom of continuing until the month of Tishrei (in addition to between Passover and Atzeret), until the Sabbath before Rosh Hashanah, so that as a result they study Pirkei Avot four times. We might astutely remark that it is certainly preferable to read Pirkei Avot, even after the Festival of Shavuot, rather than to hold idle conversation, but our custom, as noted above and in keeping with the custom of the sons of Sepharad, is to read Pirkei Avot from Passover to Atzeret. One reads during the Sabbath close to Shavuot - the time our Torah was given – and those who customarily read Pirkei Avot during the entire summer Sabbath days acknowledge that the six Sabbath days between Passover and Atzeret are the principal period of the custom.
Pirkei Raphael, First Chapter, pp.79 – 82, Hish Press, Ramla, 2011
The angels, during their accusations, said: We will receive the Torah. God said to them: Isn't this the one at whose home you ate? For God had made Moses's form in the form of our father Abraham, may he rest in peace. He said: Aren't you ashamed before him? Then they were silent. It so resulted that by their having eaten at Abraham's home that the People of Israel received the Torah.
This is the reason that we hold a festive meal when a Torah scroll is brought, writing a Torah scroll is like receiving Torah at Sinai, and because Abraham, may he rest in peace, fed the angels, Israel received it.
Si'ach Sasson, p. 10, Machon HaKtav Press, Jerusalem, 2009
Many Jews have given themselves permission to begin the morning Shacharit prayer at Hodu. They consider everything written in the siddur prayer book from the section of the Binding [of Isaac] before Hodu to be insignificant. This situation is all the more severe among our Ashkenazi brethren, where the congregation begins praying at Hodu and Baruch She’Amar. The general public, therefore, is not stringent about first reciting the Binding and Offerings, and has all but forgotten this part of the prayer’s sequence…This sequence has been strictly maintained by the Sephardim of all origins, in all communities and synagogues, where the cantor begins by reciting the Binding out loud, not skipping or omitting anything. The Jews of Yemen have also preserved this sequence. In recent times, however, students raised in Ashkenazi yeshivot have also begun to disregard the prayer’s completeness. And out of our own failings, there are some yeshivot whose students are all Sephardi, and who also begin the prayer at Hodu. They consider the omission to be permissible, and beleive that they are allowed to abandon their ancestral customs and detach themselves from the Sephardi public.
Kuntras HaHitorerut, p. 3-4, Yeshivat Emet LeYaakov, Jerusalem, 1985/6 (5746)
Concerning the custom in our holy city of Jerusalem, may it be speedily built and established, Amen, whose stones and earth are revered by God's servants who seek always to bare their souls at our Western Wall, which the Shechina has not abandoned… Every holy Sabbath Eve, people go to this holy place in large numbers to welcome the holy Sabbath Queen. The area barely suffices to hold them all. Their custom is to recite the mincha afternoon prayer, Kabbalat Shabbat and the 'Arvit evening prayer. Those who leave are replaced by those arriving to pray; they come and go in large processions, the one arriving when the other leaves, well into the night. No proper individual misses this, and they are such indeed, for the group that has completed the 'Arvit prayer will tarry, to answer the Kaddish and Kedusha being recited by the preceding group that is praying Mincha. And there are even some who tarry after having prayed 'Arvit to study chapters of Mishna, recite Psalms or the like, observing one group after another, answering in each recitation of the Kaddish, Kedusha and repetition of the Eighteen Blessings.
Yismach Libi, Orach Chaim, Section 16, p. 2, Otzrot Ge'onei Sepharad Publishing, Ashdod, 1997
In Egyptian towns it is customary that on the day a boy is initiated to wearing Tefillin he is brought to the synagogue in joy and song and with lighted candles on Mondays or Thursdays, so that he may be called up to the Torah scroll - on days that the tahanun is not recited during the morning Shacharit prayer. This is also the custom in the Land of Israel.
Keter Shem Tob, Chapter One, The Significance of Customs and Differences between Liturgical Rites, p. 13-14,Kedainiai, Movsoviciaus ir Kagano, 1934
'Hear our voices, LORD our God'. One should attend to praying for all one's needs and lacks, and for all things one wishes to do that day - pray for success, welfare and blessing, pray to find a match for oneself or for one's sons and daughters, for successful commerce or because of any hardship in one's household - for all one's needs. Such prayer comes from the heart and is not perfunctory.
One should also understand that there is nothing - present, past or future – that is not a matter of Divine providence. Do not think that anything is simply the result of nature, luck, or effort. So many have gone to great lengths and efforts, to no avail. One should entrust oneself to God and believe in Him, and not abandon Torah and prayer.
Binat Shlomo, p.195, Rabbi Yehuda Edery Publishing, Jerusalem, 2016
"For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." After many longings we were privileged to reach the Land of Israel, and from this time we accept the Torah of Israel – the customs and commandments current in the Land of Israel. We need devotion to preserve our customs, that do not contradict the Halakha that is current in Israel, but if there are customs that lie in contradiction, we must accept the Torah of Israel, from which emanates the word of G-d.

Having no writings of his teachings, we have written up what was said in his name by his children and pupils.
The purpose of celebrating the Sigd festival in Israel is to pray that our brethren in Ethiopia be able to come to Israel speedily in our days, and even if the borders appear blocked and the roads difficult, we must continue to pray for this, and to believe that our brethren will all earn the merit of coming to the Land of Israel.
Having no writings of his teachings, we have written up what was said in his name by his children and pupils.
A person who has yahrzeit [anniversary of a death] or another matter and wishes to pray as the cantor or to be called up to the Torah Reading, and there be others who also have yahrzeit or some other matter, should not quarrel because he seeks to be the one to lead prayer or to go up to the Torah reading, for he creates a lack, heaven forbid. His silence, rather, is his recompense, and honors and pleases his father.
Kaf HaChaim, section 53, paragraph 96
"And it shall be upon Aaron while officiating, so that the sound of it is heard when he comes into the sanctuary before the LORD and when he goes out – that he may not die." The word 'sound' indicates charity, which is the gematria [numerological] equivalent of 'monies'. They also said: 'Three sounds gladden, the sound of Torah, the sound of money, and the sound of rains' – charity given on Purim, in particular, as it reveals Mordecai's inspiration … This is what I indicated in: 'And it shall be' – that spell the letters of the Name [in Hebrew]. When will the Name of God be completed, Israel redeemed and Aaron called upon to officiate? At the time that 'the sound of it is heard' – hinting at the sound of Torah and the sound of money, both of which hasten the redemption… in particular 'when he comes into the sanctuary' - by the charity, which is called holiness, done on Purim day. It also hints that He will be charitable with Torah scholars, who are called holy; therefore it is certainly the case that 'he goes out', for they cause us to leave the exile - 'that he may not die'.
Dvar Tov, p.25b, Jerusalem, 1914
Our Sages, of blessed memory, differed as to which of the commandments included the most commandments. One said "Love thy neighbor as thyself" – that the commandment in which most of the Torah is included is brotherly love. That we should love each member of the people of Israel as our own souls, and be compassionate one to another. On the basis of this principle, elders should be appointed to institute the ingathering and to reconcile between us – in written and spoken laws, and in customs – since love is only between equals, and so that our Torah and religious observance not be [divided by] Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Polish, French or Italian custom and the like…
For the dwellers of the Land and those who will arrive…will be called Israelis, so that they may conduct themselves in love and brotherhood as appropriate to the ingathering.
The Writings of Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai; Volume I, Minhat Yehuda, paragraph 29, pp. 248-249, Mossad Harav Kook Press, Jerusalem 1974
There are those among us versed in the art of song, that is, in music. Six or eight members of our community raise their voices in praise and song on holidays and festivals in synagogue – honoring the LORD with Ein K'Eloheinu, Yigdal, Adon Olam and the like, in the orderly, proportionate, and artistic manner described above. An individual came up to dismiss them by saying it is inappropriate and forbidden to rejoice so, celebration is forbidden and singing – as they, musicians by craft, do – is forbidden, ever since the Temple was destroyed, since it says "Israel, rejoice not in song as do the nations"… Response: Singing when drinking wine or indulging in regal pleasures and the like are all forbidden because of the Destruction and the Exile…but when it serves the fulfillment of a commandment, such as in the case of a bride and groom and the like, even a youth will realize that this is entirely permissible… Nobody with a mind in their head will doubt that praising God through song in synagogue on the Sabbath and on festivals is considered a commandment. For we consider every holy Sabbath as a bride who is to be adorned and celebrated with rejoicing of all kinds, and so it is with festivals as well. It is also a mitzvah for cantors to sing in their most pleasant voice.
A Collection of Writings, p. 163 – 164, published by the Dorot Library, Bialik Institute, Jerusalem 1968
It was not against the rabbi, may he be safe and prosper, that they held the protest, but against the stringency concerning "women's hair" More than sixty boys, young and old, saying that stringency concerning covering hair originates in the Zohar and kabbalist texts, and that these books were not endorsed by the entire Diaspora, as were the Mishna and Talmud. They have therefore changed their clothing and their wives' clothing and dressed them in pleasant European fashion. Yes, this nation and the entire generation is beginning to awake from its old slumber. Who knows if the day is near when, in keeping with the prophet's words, we will be one single nation from one end of the world to the other, and nations will longer raise the swords of faith against each other nor study the war of argument. May God speedily rule the entire world in glory and in our day, Amen.
Michtavei Dodim Meyaiin, Letter 73, p. 128, Salonika, 1893
It has always been clear that Jews who wear beards are Jews, but the converse, to those who wear beards, has not always been that clear. Were it not for the power of Torah, were it not written in the Torah that every Jew is a Jew, the beard-wearing Jews would not have recognized their brethren as Jews. It is within this recognition that lies the beginning, the first stage or initial step in the highly crucial process of "And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew him not".
Misped Lamashiach?, Third Chapter – The Period of the Omer, p. 192, Manitou Institute Publishing, Dudu Press, Kiryat Arba, 2006
"Rabba said, the lulav in the right hand and the etrog in the left. What is the reason? These constitute three mitzvoth, and this [etrog] is one mitzvah. This can be understood to mean that the Gemara asks, "What is the reason for holding the etrog in the left hand?" Does the etrog not represent the complete Torah scholar, as we mentioned, and is the finest of all, in that it has taste and aroma? Isn't it more appropriate to hold it in the right hand? This is the Gemara’s reply: The lulav constitutes three mitzvoth – lulav, hadas and 'arava – while the etrog represents a single mitzvah, which gives them precedence over the etrog.
The Gemara seeks to indicate that if the complete Torah scholar, who has all the good attributes, does not carry the community's householders and common folk along with him – meaning the scholar does not give classes to the congregation - even if that person is great, the lulav which is lesser is preferable, for it carries the hadas and 'arava with it.
Kol Yehuda, Sha'ar HaAgaddah, p. 84/ Printed by the author's sons, Jerusalem, 1995
"If they were leading me before a flesh and blood king, who is here today and in the grave tomorrow; if he is angry with me, his anger is not eternal; if he incarcerates me, his incarceration is not an eternal incarceration. If he kills me, his killing is not for eternity [as there is life after any death]. I am able to appease him with words and bribe him with money; even so I would cry. Now that they are leading me before the supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who lives and endures forever and all time; if He is angry with me, His anger is eternal; if He incarcerates me, His incarceration is an eternal incarceration; and if He kills me, His killing is for eternity. I am unable to appease Him with words and bribe him with money. Moreover, but I have two paths before me, one of the Garden of Eden and one of Gehenna, and I do not know on which they are leading me; and will I not cry?"
One is seized by terror as might be a woman giving birth, shaken in horror, especially during these days when the Holy One, blessed be He, sits on the throne of judgement and the entire world passes before Him as might troops… all should reflect on their deeds, and note that their worship of God is insufficient, whether in prayer, Torah study or fulfilling the Commandments. Do not despair of punishment, nor trust that the netherworld be a haven, for all one's deeds are inscribed in the book.
See how the Evil Inclination leads people astray, and can offer no salvation whatsoever: A new evil and bitter custom has appeared. When people now meet to dine and fill their bellies, each person recites the Blessing after Meals alone, losing several benefits: group recitation of the blessing, precision in the recitation, the Amen responses, blessing the host by the guests... This is the custom. A custom of ignoramuses and simpletons. Those who take no pity on themselves and do not revoke this evil custom will discover that they are accountable…
Shlomo Amihud (collected & translated, editor), Pe'ulot Tzaddik, Chapter 18, p. 349, published by Agudat Achim, Jerusalem 1988
The reason for setting a tombstone at a grave is that when two people make a covenant between each other they set up a pillar as a symbol, such as the pillar that Jacob and Laban made when they established their pact, as it says in Scripture: “And Laban said to Jacob, Here is this mound and here the pillar which I have set up between you and me. This mound shall be witness and this pillar shall be witness that I am not to cross to you past this mound, and that you are not to cross to me past this mound and this pillar, with hostile intent.”
This is the sense in setting a tombstone on the grave of a deceased person. It is a symbol of the pledge between the deceased and his or her relatives. The relatives are obligated to learn Torah and give charity to commemorate and elevate the deceased’s soul, for their good deeds will always elevate the deceased’s soul from level to level, while the deceased is obliged to always appeal to God and request mercy for his or her relatives.
Lechem Lephi Taph, Ma’arechet Ko”F, p. 317, Matzliach Darki Publishing, Jerusalem, 1998
Be thou as a brother, strengthening his brother's heart in all cases, as it is written: 'And to his brethren he said, be of good courage' – so was he to me. He was as a friend who amuses his friend when meeting him, thus would he be amused and take pleasure when I would come to him; even when he was ill and lying in bed, on his deathbed, when hearing the sound of my footstep at the threshold of his house he would take heart and be strengthened, and would sit up in bed and speak with me to dispel his sorrow, and eat and drink, and would be very glad of spirit, as his sons are well aware and as is, in particular, his wife who upholds the house.
Therefore do I mourn you, my teacher and master, I grieve for you, father, I grieve for you, brother, who are like my soul; I grieve, my friend. Who is there left for me, through whom my grief to dispel, my comfort lies in the branches you have grown, saplings that resemble their roots, the pleasing Naaman in particular, beloved sapling called the light of time, 'with fair branches, and with a shadowing mantle' as is the cedar of Lebanon, well-read and well-bred.
Vayizra Yitzhak, sermon on Tefillin, pp. 121-122, Ezra Haim Press, Damascus, printed in Aram Tzova [Aleppo], 1928
I was asked what I thought and how I feel about the prevalent custom in our city’s community to refrain from eating black olives during the entire month of Nissan. My custom is also not to eat them, and may I say that the customs of the people Israel are considered as Torah.
Being that it was during this month that the Almighty took us out of slavery in Egypt, and that we were commanded to “Remember this day when you left Egypt”, and that our sages, of blessed memory said [concerning olives], “the father [the source, i.e. the olive] causes memory loss and its outcome [oil] clarifies [thought], they had the custom of refraining from eating olives, their reason being that eating them causes forgetfulness. We are commanded to remember the miracles performed for us during this month. In order to cherish the commandment in a timely way, on the date and time that the miracles happened, it is not right that we eat something that causes forgetfulness.
The reason for singling out black olives is because oil is usually drawn from them. They said that "the source causes forgetfulness" concerning the olive whose son [outcome] clarifies, and the ones that are common during this season are generally the black ones; the green ones are less common. Their ruling concerns the ones that are common, so they did not rule concerning the less common ones.
L'Yitzhak Re'akh, Volume II, p.5a, Bnei Issachar Institute Press, Jerusalem, 1986
What the people of Jerusalem, may it be built and established, do during every New Moon Eve service is a great thing. All the Jewish people living in Jerusalem assemble in a great crowd in the afternoon - sages, rabbis, householders, traders and craftsmen – in a grand and regal saintly crowd, and recite the entire service of Psalms in a saintly melody. After the Psalms, they recite the plea for all the kin of Israel in Diaspora, that they be preserved from all evils and afflictions. Afterwards they broken-heartedly recite the Selichot and Takhanun. We place our trust in the LORD our God, who is never distant when we call, for God is great and will never tire from accepting our prayers willingly and compassionately, may it by His will.
Tov MeYerushalaim, in Matok MeDevash, p. 266, Ahavat Shalom Press, Jerusalem, 2000
The Rabbi [author of] Beit Oved wrote on the halakhic rules concerning Hanukkah … that those who inherit are obligated to provide the widow with oil for Hanukkah to light each and every night, and are obligated to provide all requirements for commandments that have physical requirements…
It seems to me that since it is the custom to increase [lights] each night, as the Rabbi of the Shulchan Aruch wrote, and we have not heard that in our day "one light for each person and their household" [applies] but rather that people all add [a light] every night, that although inheritors are not obligated by law to provide more that the oil for a single light for each night, they are obligated to do so because of the custom in any case, and must give her oil so that she may add [a light] each night. Since it was the custom her entire life with her husband to add a light, even if she renounces before the inheritors and agrees to light a single light each night, she may not ignore the custom. All the more so if she does not wish to ignore the custom.
Akim Et Yotzhak, Responsa, Section 44, p. 104b, Shmuel Nissim Yonah Press, Tel Aviv, 1971
Only if a person gains the privilege of feeling the pleasure of the Sabbath day in this world, and by so doing achieves the aspect of the Sabbath's neshama yetera [additional soul]; only then will a person gain the privilege of also enjoying the pleasures of the "day which is Shabbat in its entirety" – the World-to-Come. Indeed, whoever is of a ready heart can sense the feeling of pleasure and sweetness of the Sabbath day, for the sky is more luminous on the Sabbath, the air in the world more clear, and the faces of people more beautiful and shining, as it says in the Midrash; everybody is more serene on the Sabbath. How can one not, therefore, feel the pleasure of the Sabbath.."
Imrei Noam, Part 1, Breishit, p. 5 Rav Pe'alim – Kol Rina, Netivot, 2013
Concerning the age-old custom in the month of Sivan (April) of storing worn Torah scrolls and printed books, and escorting them from town to the cemetery to be buried with song and piyut, whether there is any basis for this custom…
I have not seen anything written in books concerning the custom of escorting them with song and piyut, yet in the place of my birth, in Meknes, an important Jewish town, may G-d protect it, the custom was indeed to escort them to burial to the sound of much singing. I've heard that this was also the custom in several cities of the Maghreb and here, in Tlemcen, as well, the custom on the day of geniza is to hold a small festive meal…since the reason that the scrolls are worn is the extensive amount of study for which we have used them, and therefore at the sight of worn scrolls and pages, which shows how much Torah study there is in the city, we sing and rejoice at having studied so much Torah.
Mayim Haim Responsa, Chapter 1, Orach Haim section, pp. 60-61. Published by Otzrot HaMaghreb, Bnei Issachar Institute, Jerusalem, 1998
"And Jacob called his sons and said, Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come. Assemble and hearken, O sons of Jacob; Hearken to Israel your father." This raises a question. Having said "Come together that I may tell you", why does the text repeat itself and say, "Assemble and hearken"? He had already told them to come together. Second, why does it first say, "sons of Jacob" and then repeat, "to Israel your father"? Third, "and hearken", and then "hearken", a second time – why?
When he wanted to bless them, our forefather Jacob, may he rest in peace, did indeed say "Come together that I may tell you". But then he saw that despite their being together in one place, their hearts were not together, that they were estranged, and the blessing could not apply in a situation where there were differences and division. He therefore repeated himself, saying, "Assemble and hearken, O sons of Jacob" – join your hearts together.
"Come together" – You will not be righteous and called "sons of Jacob" and the blessing will apply, for the name Jacob is used when he is not worthy, since it says, "But you have not worshipped Me, O Jacob" but "that you should be weary of Me, O Israel". Our Sages, of blessed memory, said, "Greatest is peace" – even if Israel worships wood and stone, Satan cannot testify against them, since it says, "Ephraim is addicted to images – Let him be." Even if the blessing will apply when you are "sons of Jacob" it is worthy that you be righteous, and "Hearken to Jacob your father" – until the name Israel is applied to you.
Yad Yosef, Hayei Sarah Torah Reading Portion, Third Sermon, p. 29a. Printed by Immanuel son of Yosef Attias, of blessed memory, Amsterdam, 1700
The Jewish custom of eating candied fruit and cakes on the Sabbath and Festivals is a lovely one, and despite that they may have various designs on them, they [our predecessors] had no reservations concerning the prohibition of moheq [erasing]. We note that despite that they may have all kinds of decorations, they have no letters at all; since these shapes cannot be considered writing but resemble forms made by striking with a hammer, moheq does not apply, and they had no misgivings concerning the prohibition of erasure…
The rule that applies, despite that the letters or words may be made of the dough itself, and an adult may not break the cake on the Sabbath because of [the proscription of] moheq, being that it is nevertheless a Jewish custom to eat candied fruit and cakes on the Sabbath and on Festivals, it that it is [as valid as] Torah and is permitted a priori, and despite that they may have all kinds of shapes, one needn't worry at all about [transgressing] moheq.
Tal Orot, Section 1, p. 343, Or VaDerech Press, 1987, Jerusalem
Reuven sold Simon gold rings, and Simon sold them to Levy and they received monies from each other. Levy subsequently demanded to return the rings to Simon, claiming that the rings were joined with silver only, and not with a mixture of gold and silver as was the custom of old. Simon replied that this case was not one of erroneous transaction, since all rings made in our day are joined thus, of unalloyed silver only, and this is not a case of imitation… It is well known among Jews that rings made in our day, in keeping with the market vendors wishes, are joined with silver only, and a buyer buys according to current custom. The obvious and evident fact of the matter is that their sale price is at rates far below the rate for gold, and since this fact is simple and known throughout the city, what basis can there be to consider this an erroneous transaction, even if it is an imitation…?
We learn from this that the case of even a complete imitation, such as our case – made of gold but contains silver – when it customary to fashion imitations, is not termed an erroneous transaction. Even in the case of a complete defect, the customer must swear that he knew not of the defect or was reconciled to it. In such a case, the vendor reimburse the money he took, minus his profit from the transaction, as in the law for cattle and land.
Tokfo shel Yoseph, Part 1, paragraph 15, p. 94. Bnei Issachar Sephardi Library Publishing, Jerusalem, 2004
"Anyone who sheds tears over a righteous person, the Holy One, Blessed be He, counts and places them in His treasury". Question: Why is counting relevant here? Because it is known that it is the way and nature of people to weep from sorrow upon entering the house of a person who has passed away. For example, upon the death of one's father or mother or sons, seeing the public weep will rapidly bring on one's weeping. Later on, however, one will seclude oneself because of the death. For this reason they said: "The Holy One, Blessed be He, counts and places them…" Meaning – counting is necessary. The tears that one sheds over one's own sorrow are not taken into account, because they abate one's grief.
Yoseph Hen, Sermon D on the Upright and Wise Person, p. 38, Abraham Teshuva Press, Tripoli, 1928
When a person approaches sanctity or studies Torah in depth must strengthen him or herself even more, and make the effort to give charity. For charity opens the fountains of wisdom; just as one thus opens the eyes of the poor so does the way to wisdom open.
We can, in this way, understand what is written in the text, "Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you". We know the Torah is called "land", in keeping with the text "Her measure is beyond land". This is what "Justice, justice shall you pursue" means – to give more charity, for in this way we will benefit and "inherit the land" – land being Torah wisdom. In this way, we also learn the intention behind the text " Look to the LORD and keep to His way, and He will raise you high that you may inherit the land;" which refers to giving charity. Just as the merciful and compassionate LORD has mercy on His creatures, you must safeguard His ways as well and have mercy on the poverty-stricken…as it says Scripture, "And all your children shall be disciples of the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children" – our sages, of blessed memory said that charity is called peace.
Neve Zion, Part 2, section 90, Charity. David Saadon Press, Djerba, 1942
This question was posed by one of our revered sages, who are comparable to a town where all the trees and their fruits are beautiful, the faultless sage, our master and teacher Rabbi Yitzhak ben Sahal, may his Rock preserve and vitalize him, concerning a citation from what Maran [Master] Tor Orach Haim [Yaacov ben Asher] said: One does not recite the Blessing on Fragrances at the termination of a Yom Kippur that occurs on Saturday night, the reason being that he has no additional soul [neshama yeterah] because of the fast. This reasoning, however, implies that one who fasts on the Sabbath because of a disturbing dream must refrain from reciting the Blessing on Fragrances at Havdalah, which is peculiar, for this is not common practice.
And I, in all humility, say the custom should be observed, for there is a distinction to be made between an individual's fasting and the public's fasting. When an individual fasts there are no grounds for neshama yeterah - since he is fasting; when everybody has eaten their fill and drunk to their enjoyment, and they have neshama yeterah, it does then behoove one to recite the Blessing on Fragrances, and one must note that his blessing is being recited on the ways and mending of the world.
Ginat Vradim, Section Orah Haim, rule a, paragraph 8, pp. 16-17, Yismach Lev Publishing, Jerusalem, 2008
In Egypt, may G-d preserve it, when a festival occurs on the Sabbath eve, the custom of the sages in all synagogue communities is to perform eiruv tavshilin for the entire congregation, because there are many congregation members who are not knowledgeable in the performing of the eiruv commandment, and an announcement is made before the congregation to the effect that anyone who did not prepare an eiruv may depend on the sage's having done so.
I was once asked by a certain sage who had forgotten to properly perform the eiruv by including others as it should be done. In my modest opinion, it seems one may be lenient on the issue. I can almost say that since he is accustomed to always perform the eiruv and including the congregation, that there is no need for another to do so… the Halacha tends to leniency in eiruv, and we would say that since he is accustomed in doing his eiruv with the intent to exempt the others, one may consider that his eiruv was fulfilled for him by others, as it were… for by virtue of this fulfillment - that fulfills for others who depend on his eiruv - there is no loss; one profits and the other loses naught, since the eiruv, in any case, benefits the others yet not at the expense of the one performing it. We therefore find it fitting to consider that it is as though he were exempted by others.
Ginat Vradim, Section Orah Haim, Gan HaMelech, paragraph 120, p. 37-38, Yismach Lev Publishing, Jerusalem, 2008