Sunday, October 07, 2007

Modern Birchas Kohanim sketch...

This post will only be understood by those in Chutz La'Aretz.

It is about the 11th Commandant.

Thou shalt bring thy children and babies and place them under thy Tallis during the Priestly Blessing on my Holidays.

Outside of Israel when Birchas Kohanim is done only a few times a year, it becomes a whole production. There are special Prayers added and special chants intoned by the Kohanim 3 times during the Blessing.

There are 2 traditional songs sung.
One is the more popular song used by the Litvishe world and the second is the lesser known Chassidish chant, which according to tradition descends directly from a song sung in The Beis Hamikdosh and one can distinctly hear oriental motifs there.

The problem is that most modern shteeblich have Kohanim that were raised in the Litvish and Chassidish traditions and suffice it to say, these 2 songs do not compliment each other at all.

Since it's such a rare event, it has become a custom to bring children, and for some odd reason the blessing for children only works in the mens section, so the room promptly fills with toddlers, infants and newborns (i could've sworn there was one baby still attached at the umbilical chord).

The custom is to cover everyone under a tallis because it is harmful to see the fingers of the Kohanim.

This past Yom Tov, about halfway through Birkas Kohanim suddenly the day care center in the Tallis behind me started screaming all at once "I want Mommmmyyyyyy!!" "Ahhhhhhhhhh" "MOMMMMMMMYYYYY"
The flustered father balancing his Machzor, the screaming kids and the shushing Mispallelim...
I turned around..

Two people went on a camping trip into the wild and about halfway through the night they were awakened by a rustling sound. They groggily opened the flaps of the tent and a huge grizzly bear rushed in roaring a terrible sound. A horrible struggle ensued and the tent collapsed on the 3...

I only mention this tale so you can sort of envision when was going on under the tallis next to mine.

Now my memories of being "under the tallis" are far from pleasant. I somehow always ended up under my Gradfathers Tallis. He insisted on bringing the Tallis all the way down to the table in essence vaccum packing us under the old yellowed fabric.
Since there are alot of prayers said during the few minutes under there, the only source of oxygen filling our mini tent was directly from his mouth.
It's a miracle we didnt die of carbon monoxide.

So while I keep up the tradition with my kids I always make sure to use Scope and leave some room for fresh oxygen to flow through.

So now you women know what goes on in the mens section...

The most important thing is that..the Blessings should all come true...




Blogger The Dreamer said...

i always loved going under my father's tallis.
he used to always come get us to make sure we were included...
gosh, this brings back memories...

October 08, 2007 10:27 PM  
Anonymous YudNo.22 said...

Ah, I unfortunately do not have such memories, but reading through, could only consistently think, is this not playing out, but in a more universal sense?
Do we not all gasp for breath, and struggle, blind though we may be, to the bigger draw of events, only to walk later and secured in papa's blessings?

From your lips to G-d's ears.

Yes, "the Blessings should all come true."

October 08, 2007 11:31 PM  
Blogger Bas~Melech said...

I just have one warm and fuzzy memory of a moment under my father's tallis. Just once. I can't even think of when it could have been, because as long as I remember he's been the baal mussaf...

Anyway, I've never witnessed what you describe. Probably because I'm too busy trying to shut out the noise on the women's side...

October 09, 2007 2:04 AM  
Anonymous Lvnsm27 said...

wow had no idea, probably because I look at the siddur and not at them. Interesting to hear diff experiences

October 09, 2007 6:20 AM  
Anonymous m00kie said...

we do it twice every shabbat, not just on the holidays, so i assume kids are well trained in not breathing.. or escaping before their dad pulls them in. the truth tho is that i remember it also, and it was sooo nice.. but it was at neila not birkat cohanim.. then again that might be cuz we only went on YK :) but can you imagine the breaths under there.. yikes..

October 09, 2007 7:20 AM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

hmm till what age?

nice spin...and lesson..
although honsetly..this was just a lighthearted sketch..i spose there are lessons lurking under every stone and talis..

Im also a Baal Mussaf..and thus have to hope that my kids will come on their own..and even then..i have to be careful not to be distracted...but thats only on RH and YK...

oy...u must daven where i was this yom tov..

lvnsm... u know..

you guys do it every day...
and yikes is

October 09, 2007 9:19 PM  
Blogger The Dreamer said...

don't remember.
i can ask...

October 09, 2007 9:46 PM  
Blogger jewmaican20 said...

I just remember it being so hot under there. And, since you're not supposed to lean on anything, we were all crowded under there, knocking heads because my dad put us on chairs.

By the way, Dave...carbon monoxide is odorless. :)

Still, I'm gonna do it, God willing, but I'll probably give my kid a candy to keep him quiet..

October 10, 2007 7:00 AM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...


ur not supposed to lean on anything?
NOW u tell me?

October 10, 2007 11:39 AM  
Anonymous YudNo.22 said...

ah, lightheated!
this scenario you paint is very common for women. it is good, i suppose for the men's side to have a taste!

October 10, 2007 6:46 PM  
Blogger jewmaican20 said...

Dave, that's what I was taught...

October 10, 2007 10:44 PM  
Anonymous megapixel said...

carbon dioxide, is what people exhale, carbon monoxide is in car exhaust
but whatever,
your point comes across! My husband always nudges me to bring the baby, but i think its cuz she's so cute, he wants to show her off.

October 11, 2007 10:47 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Hmm maybe thats why we have this minhag..

right..well any time u have to stand for cant lean in a way that if you take away the object ..youll fall

oh..well ol grandpops was exhaling car exhaust..
yea...i suspect thats the motivation behind it..most of the time..
"Here's my Esrog...isnt she cute..?..oops..thats Chavie..sorry"

October 11, 2007 11:21 PM  
Anonymous YudNo.22 said...

This story, reminded me or yours, although with similar and yet different triumphs. You can delete it's length. Just wanted to share:

6. Priestly Blessing on Temple Mount
by Hillel Fendel

A historic first: Last week, during a special visit to the Temple Mount, the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) was recited there, for arguably the first time since the 1st-century destruction.

The Blessing is recited daily in synagogues in Israel by descendants of Aaron the Priest, and only on festivals in the Diaspora.

*On the Temple Mount: During the Priestly Blessing, the "Kohanim" raise their hands.*

The special visit was held to commemorate the 842nd anniversary of Maimonides's famous visit to the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. A group of some 25 Jews, organized by the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, marked the special day with a commemorative visit. Giving extra-special meaning to the occasion was a spontaneous Priestly Blessing delivered to the group by Yehuda Katz, the lead singer of the Reva L'Sheva band, and Eliezer Breuer, originally of the former Soviet Union and now from Kiryat Arba.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, one of the organizers of the trip, said, "This was probably the first time since the destruction of the Temple [1,928 years ago] that the Priestly Blessing was delivered on our holiest site. At times like these, when there is talk of giving away our precious places, and when despair is sometimes in the air, events of this nature serve to remind us that G-d has not forgotten about us, and that He still has big plans for both us and the Holy Temple - and that the Temple will yet become the focal point of the world once again."

Another notable aspect of the visit was the welcoming attitude of the police. "In an unusual departure from standard procedure," one participant said, "we found that the police were particularly sympathetic to our needs. At one point, when the Moslem Wakf guards started yelling that we were praying, one of the policemen took our side and even threatened to remove them if necessary."

Maimonides, also known as the Rambam, made his historic visit to the Temple Mount on the sixth day of the month of MarCheshvan in the year 1166 (4926 in the Jewish calendar). Unanimously considered one of Judaism's greatest figures, the Rambam wrote that he put himself in danger to make a trip to Jerusalem, where he entered "the Large and Holy House [the Temple Mount] and prayed." Three days later, he also visited the Machpelah Cave in Hevron, and vowed to commemorate the anniversaries of those days as his personal festivals for years to come.

*Thursday's visit to the Temple Mount*
Last week's visit was also led by Rabbis Yisrael Ariel and Yehuda Glick. Rabbi Ariel is a former Yeshiva head, founder of the Temple Institute, and one of the paratroopers who took part in the 1967 liberation of the Temple Mount. Rabbi Glick made news briefly over two years ago when, as Director of the Absorption Ministry's Ashkelon region, he became the first public official to resign in protest over the plans to withdraw from and destroy Gush Katif.

Though the Chief Rabbinate disagrees, the Yesha Rabbis Council has ruled that one who ascends and visits the Temple Mount while adhering to three conditions - prior immersion in a mikveh; keeping the laws of Awe of the Temple (no leather shoes, proper respect, etc.); and knowledge of the precise permitted areas - is fulfilling a "great mitzvah [Torah commandment]."

The group stands on a staircase built recently by the Muslim Waqf on the Mount's southern end, leading to new mosques below. The Waqf does not allow entry to non-Muslims.
To arrange a trip to the Temple Mount in accordance with the above requirements of Jewish law, click here.

"The more Jews who visit this holy site," Rabbi Richman told Arutz-7, "the more cooperative the police are with us and the more respectful they are of our needs - as some police officers have indicated to me. And the more we encourage Jews with stories like what happened last week, the more they will come."

October 21, 2007 9:33 AM  

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