Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World
By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
Virtually every shul lists its Shacharis schedule. Some have separate times for Shabbos and for weekday mornings. Some give separate times for Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays (which have Torah readings), as well as for RoshChodesh and fast days. Within the Shacharis listing, some shuls indicate that the time listed is for Hodu, and some indicate the time for Berachos. Interestingly, a few shuls list times for when Shacharis begins and when tefillin are donned, minutes later, before dawn.
Overwhelmingly, the listings are for local residents who are somewhat familiar with the shul and with the particular minyan. However, for those not familiar with the shul and its minyanim, does the minyan begin with Berachos, Hodu, or Borchu? Every shul is different. No general rule applies. In Lakewood, many minyanim have the shaliachtzibbur leading from Yishtabach, though the listing for the Shacharisminyan is when the minyan actually begins with an understanding that shaliachtzibbur begins leading shortly thereafter. The trend there, as well as elsewhere, is to have the shaliachtzibbur lead from berachos and on.
Focusing on this very issue, an inaugural meeting was held on Sunday, January 4 at Beis Medrash Atzei Chaim Siget in Williamsburg. The shul is one of more than 50 that are under the direction of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe. The meeting was specifically for gabbaim of those Satmar shuls. Gabbaim from Williamsburg, Boro Park, Monsey, and Kiryas Yoel participated. They met under the banner of amudha’tefillah, with the specific purpose of enhancing tefillos in all of their shuls.
The meeting was in response to the Satmar Rebbe’s remarks at the annual 21 Kislev Convocation in December 2014 at the Marcy Avenue Armory in Williamsburg, which had tens of thousands of chassidim present. The Satmar Rebbe called upon the chassidim to elevate the intensity of their prayers, especially weekday prayers. Almost immediately, gabbaim rushed to explore weaknesses in weekday prayers and possible improvements.
Sunday, parashasSh’mos, January 4, was designated as the day the gabbaim of all Satmar shuls would gather and discuss what undertakings are possible. More than 100 gabbaim came. Rabbi Meir Zweibel, rav of Beis Medrash Kedushas Yom Tov (Satmar) in Williamsburg was the first to address the assembled.
He was followed by Rabbi Yisroel Ber Stein, Satmar Dayan, who introduced the first proposal. Rabbi Stein declared that those daveningShacharis should not join the minyan at Hodu, but rather at the opening Berachos. In order to give specific structure, Berachos are to commence by the shaliachtzibbur ten minutes before the scheduled Shacharis time, which has become the time that Hodu is begun. This would discourage joining the minyan at Hodu, BaruchShe’amar, or later.
Several other gabbaim rose to the microphone and suggested various other proposals. Discussions followed. A consensus developed regarding the commencement of Shacharis by the shaliachtzibbur ten minutes before the scheduled Shacharis time. All posted Shacharis times are to be moved up ten minutes and the previous Shacharis times are when Hodu is to begin. A 7:00 a.m. Shacharis is to be listed as 6:50 a.m. The shaliachtzibbur leads with Berachos at 6:50 a.m. and Hodu at 7:00 a.m. Thus, the Shacharisminyanim will end at the same time they had previously. The anticipated benefit is that minyan participants will engage from the opening Berachos and on, as they participate from Hodu and on.
Other proposals include the restriction of cellphones in the beismidrash. This would apply to “kosher” cellphones as well. (Kosher cellphones are those that are not connected to the internet.) Rabbi Eliezer Ginzburg, Mirrer roshkollel in Brooklyn, has introduced sponsorship of positioning mailbox cabinets in front of beismidrash entry doors, wherein congregants would deposit their cellphones under lock-and-key, daven, and retrieve their cellphones upon leaving.
Another proposal was limiting flyers and pamphlets in shuls. This restriction would include divreiTorah as well as tzedakah flyers with accompanying write-ups. These flyers and pamphlets interfered with davening. Vocal appeals for tzedakah during weekday davening were also labeled as distractions that disrupted proper tefillah concentration.
Discussions centered around insulating the shaliachtzibbur so that he is not rushed to daven faster. Several gabbaim raised the issue of encouraging more mispallelim to join the tefillos in a timely manner. Suggestions to improve tefillos overall were proposed, specifically, mispallelim who are good tefillah leaders must be encouraged to stand up, proceed to the podium, and lead.
These proposals and suggestions were recorded and will be discussed in contemplation of implementation at meetings to be scheduled in the near future. As a direct result of the meeting, many of the Satmar shuls have disallowed flyers and reposted Shacharis times.
As a result of the gabbaim meeting, at the following shaloshseudos in the main Satmar Beis Medrash on Ross Street, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Teitelbaum, Williamsburg Satmar Rav, focused on improving and elevating tefillos. He shared that every Jew should be a tzaddik in tefillah. The word tzaddik consists of four letters. The first letter, tzaddik, has a numerical value of 90; the second letter, dalet, has a numerical value of 4; the third letter, yud, has a numerical value of 10; and the fourth letter, kof, has a numerical value of 100. The letter values have tefillah adaptions. The tzaddik, 90, represents the 90 Amens that one is supposed to recite; the dalet, 4, represents the four Kedushos that one is supposed to recite; the yud represents the 10 Kaddish prayers that one is supposed to hear; and the kof, 100, represents the 100 berachos that one is supposed to make.
Rabbi Teitelbaum declared that if one comes late to Shacharis, he will miss hearing the opening Berachos and will fail to articulate the 90 Amen responses required. Rabbi Teitelbaum further stressed that if one is obligated to perform teshuvah publicly, the loud public response of Amen fulfills that obligation.
The implementation date of the new tefillah directive is Monday, parashasBo, January 19. As many chassidisherebbes, rabbis, and shuls worldwide closely follow initiatives embraced by Satmar shuls, this suggestion will surely be embraced worldwide. v
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is the rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.