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Daily Moroccan Halachot

Rabbi Mordechai Lebhar, author Magen Avot
Redacted by Dr. Emile Amzallag

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Daily Halachot Topics

Selihot: May one add to Anenu?

One of the penitential prayers that are recited in the Selihot as well as throughout Yom Kippur is Anenu. In this prayer, we beseech Hashem to answer us in the merit of our forefathers and in different circumstances. In the Moroccan community, there are Anenu verses that are inserted in addition to the standard Sephardic text. For example, it is a common Moroccan custom to insert “Anenu Elah-a de Meir Anenu” (lit. “Answer us, Oh G-d of Meir, answer us”).  Interestingly, although some say “Elah-a de Rabbi Meir”, Rabbi Haim Palagi (Lev Haim, vol. II, pg. 160) and Rabbi Yosef Messas (Mayim Haim I:232) write that the Gemara (Avoda Zara 18b) says that when calling out to Hashem in the merit of Rabbi Meir Ba’al Hanes, one only uses his first name without the title of “Rabbi”. 

Other additions, which were not necessarily printed in Siddurim but were passed on orally from generation to generation to this day,  include “Magen Avot” (lit. “Shield of our forefathers”) “Bizchute de Bar Yohai” (lit. “in the merit of Bar Yohai”), “Ezrat Hashevatim” (lit. “the Helper of the tribes”),  “Misgav Haimahot” (lit. “Fortress of our foremothers”) or “Rochev Aravot” (lit. He who rides upon the highest heavens). Although one is not permitted to add to or subtract from the prayers that the Anshe Knesset Hagedola instituted, Selihot were, for the most part composed during the times of the Geonim or later. Furthermore, since most of the Selihot are supplicatory in nature, one may add as one sees fit. 

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, pg. 17) quotes Rabbi Eliyahu Mani (Shu”t Tana Deve Eliyahu), who says that one does not add to the Anenu prayer. Upon further inspection, it appears to mean that their custom was to not add more Anenu verses but not that it was prohibited to do so.  

It should also be noted that the original order of the Anenu verses is to alternate the Avot with corresponding pleadings, rather than to recite the Avot consecutively. The proper order is as follows:

  1. Eloh-e Avraham
  2. Ha’One be’Et Ratzon
  3. Ufahad Yitzhak 
  4. Ha’One be’Et Tzara (or Seliha)
  5. Avir Ya’akov
  6. Ha’One be’Et Rahamim

In the original Livorno Siddurim these were typed in columns and thus people confused the order and thus first recited Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya’akov and then the others. 

Summary:  The Moroccan custom is to add verses to Anenu.

Can one recite Birkat Halevana on the 15th?

The cycle of the moon begins with the Molad, or new moon, in which the moon is completely invisible. It then begins to wax until it peaks as a full moon, and the wanes until it is once again no longer visible. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 41b) states that Birkat Halevana is only recited when the moon is in its waxing phase. Accordingly, the Shulhan Aruch (O.H 426:3) rules that it can be recited up to and including the fifteenth of the Jewish month. On the other hand, the Rama (ibid.) points out that the length of the Jewish lunar month is twenty nine days, twelve hours and seven hundred and ninety three parts. If one were to divide this in half to ascertain when the peak is, the result is a little more than 14 days and eighteen hours after the Molad, as measured in Jerusalem. When taking into account that the peak does not include the entirety of the fifteenth day and that the Molad is calculated in Jerusalem, the Rama rules that one may not recite Birkat Halevana on the night of the fifteenth. Although the Shulhan Aruch rules that it may be recited the entire night of the fifteenth, the Ben Ish Hai (Shana Bet, Parashat Vayikra, § 23), the Kaf HaHaim (K.H., O.H, § 426) and Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Vol III, ch. 4, § 6), invoking the principle of Safek Berachot Lehakel, rule stringently like the Rama. 

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer, vol. VI, § 38) relies fully on the opinion of the Shulhan Aruch and says that one may recite Birkat Halevana the whole night of the fifteenth of the Jewish month. Rabbi Haim Benvenisti (Ba’e Haye) says that one may even recite it the next day, and even though this opinion is not the custom, it demonstrates that one may certainly do so on the night of the fifteenth. The Siddur of Rabbi Ya’akov Ibn Tzur also indicates that Birkat Halevana can be recited on the fifteenth. 

It should be noted that the night of the fifteenth day refers to the night which follows the fourteenth of the month and leads into the fifteenth.

Summary: One may recite Birkat Halevana the entire night of the fifteenth of the Jewish month.

What are the particulars of Modim?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 127:1) writes that when the Shliah Tzibur reaches Modim during the repetition of the Amida, the congregants bow and recite Modim Derabanan, but should not bow excessively. Indeed, the Arizal says that although one should bow during Modim of the silent Amida, when comes to Modim Derabanan, one should only bend one’s head forward. The Siddur Bet Oved and the Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Teruma) concur with this Arizal’s opinion. The Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H. 127:2) makes no distinction between Modim of the silent Amida and Modim Derabanan, and says one should bow for both, but this is not the common custom. 

Interestingly, Rabbi David Cohen-Scali (Kiryat Hana David, vol. II, Orah Haim, § 17) comments on the syntax of the words of Modim “Umagen Yishenu Ata Hu Ledor Vador Node Lecha…” He posits that this should be understood as meaning that Hashem is our shield and savior from generation to generation, and that we should thank Him. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in his gloss to Kiryat Hana David (brought down in Yabia Omer, vol. VIII, §11:19), based on Tehilim 79:13, questions this reading and says that the phrase should be separated between the words Ata Hu and Ledor Vador, such that the meaning is that Hashem is our shield and savior, and that we should thank Him from generation to generation. 

Summary: One should bow one’s head when reciting Modim Derabanan.

How is Kedusha recited?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 124:8), based on a discussion in the Gemara (Berachot 47a), says that “Amen” should not be recited in a manner that is “Hatufa”, “Ketufa” or “Yetoma”. Hatufa, or hurried, means that one does not vowelize the letter Alef with the Kamatz and thus pronounces it “‘men”. Alternatively, it means that one hurries to respond Amen before a blessing is completed. Ketufa, or plucked, means that one does not properly pronounce the final Nun and says “Ame’”. Finally, Yetoma, or orphaned, means that one answers Amen to a blessing that one is obligated in but did not hear. For example, if one knows that the blessing for the Shofar is being recited but does not actually hear it, but answers Amen anyway. The Rama (ibid.) adds that there is a stringent opinion the Amen Yetoma also applies to blessings that one is not obligated in. The Abudraham writes that Amen Yetoma is when one does not respond Amen immediately after a blessing, but rather waits a little, such that the Amen is orphaned, as it were, from the blessing. 

Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 5, § 16) clarifies that the Shulhan Aruch does not follow the strict opinion of the Rama and that only responding Amen to a blessing in which one is obligated but did not hear is considered Yetoma. Nevertheless, the Ben Ish Hai (Od Yosef Hai, Parashat Vayehi, §19) is of the opinion  that since the Gemara (ibid.) says that a person who is accustomed to recite Amen Yetoma will have orphaned children, he also takes the strict approach and says that one should not answer Amen to a blessing that one is not obligated in and does not actually hear. Similarly, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, 111:37)writes that one should never respond Amen to any blessing that one does not actually hear. 

Interestingly, the Gemara (Sukkah 51b) recounts that there was a synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt that was so large that attendants had to wave flags in order to notify the congregants when to respond Amen. This would seem to contradict the ruling of the Gemara. The Gemara clarifies that since everyone knew which blessing was being recited it was not considered Yetoma. Based on this, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Da’at) writes that one may answer Amen to a blessing that one hears over the radio.

Summary:  One should pronounce Amen properly. One should not respond Amen to any blessing that one does not hear.

How should “Amen” be said?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 124:8), based on a discussion in the Gemara (Berachot 47a), says that “Amen” should not be recited in a manner that is “Hatufa”, “Ketufa” or “Yetoma”. Hatufa, or hurried, means that one does not vowelize the letter Alef with the Kamatz and thus pronounces it “‘men”. Alternatively, it means that one hurries to respond Amen before a blessing is completed. Ketufa, or plucked, means that one does not properly pronounce the final Nun and says “Ame’”. Finally, Yetoma, or orphaned, means that one answers Amen to a blessing that one is obligated in but did not hear. For example, if one knows that the blessing for the Shofar is being recited but does not actually hear it, but answers Amen anyway. The Rama (ibid.) adds that there is a stringent opinion the Amen Yetoma also applies to blessings that one is not obligated in. The Abudraham writes that Amen Yetoma is when one does not respond Amen immediately after a blessing, but rather waits a little, such that the Amen is orphaned, as it were, from the blessing. 

Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 5, § 16) clarifies that the Shulhan Aruch does not follow the strict opinion of the Rama and that only responding Amen to a blessing in which one is obligated but did not hear is considered Yetoma. Nevertheless, the Ben Ish Hai (Od Yosef Hai, Parashat Vayehi, §19) is of the opinion  that since the Gemara (ibid.) says that a person who is accustomed to recite Amen Yetoma will have orphaned children, he also takes the strict approach and says that one should not answer Amen to a blessing that one is not obligated in and does not actually hear. Similarly, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, 111:37)writes that one should never respond Amen to any blessing that one does not actually hear. 

Interestingly, the Gemara (Sukkah 51b) recounts that there was a synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt that was so large that attendants had to wave flags in order to notify the congregants when to respond Amen. This would seem to contradict the ruling of the Gemara. The Gemara clarifies that since everyone knew which blessing was being recited it was not considered Yetoma. Based on this, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Da’at) writes that one may answer Amen to a blessing that one hears over the radio.

Summary:  One should pronounce Amen properly. One should not respond Amen to any blessing that one does not hear.

The Nine Days and the Week of Tisha Be’Av

Although there is no explicit Halacha regarding bathing during the Nine Days, the Shulhan Aruch  (Orah Haim 551:16) says that some had the custom to refrain as of Rosh Hodesh, while others only refrained during the week of Tisha Be’Av. The widely held custom in Morocco was to refrain from bathing during the entire Nine Days (c.f Meshulchan Avotenou Tishat Hayamim).
It would appear that this is a challenging restriction as people nowadays are accustomed to showering daily, especially in the hot summer weather.  distinction is made between bathing for pleasure, such as in hot water, and bathing to remove dirt and other uncleanliness. It should be noted that even on Yom Kippur, washing off dirt is permitted. As such, many rabbis are lenient regarding bathing in lukewarm water as it does not involve the same level of pleasure as hot water. Furthermore, although soap used to be considered a pleasurable accessory to bathing (Levush, ibid.), Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky (Kovetz Halachot), Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Shmatata d’Moshe) and others permit soap since it is used to clean off dirt.

*   *   *Within the Nine Days is the week in which Tisha Be’Av falls (“Shavua Shehal Bo [Tisha Be’Av]”) which has a greater level of stringency, such as restrictions on laundry or shaving. As an example, if Tisha Be’Av were to fall on a Tuesday, then Shavua Shehal Bo would begin two days earlier, on Sunday the 7th of Av. This year (5779/2019) presents an interesting case as the 9th of Av is on Shabbat and therefore the fast is pushed off till the following day. In such a case, the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 551:4) rules in accordance with the Yerushalmi (Ta’anit) that there is no Shavua Shehal Bo. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yehve Da’at, vol. 3, § 39; Hazon Ovadia pg. 223), Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeTzion, vol. 3, 27:6) and the Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Devarim) all agree that in such a year there would be no week of Tisha Be’Av, but mention that although laundry would be permitted, one should refrain from shaving or getting a haircut. It should be pointed out that the Moroccan custom is to refrain from shaving for the whole Nine Days, and some even stop shaving as of the Seventeenth of Tammuz.

Summary:  Although the original Moroccan custom is to refrain from bathing during the Nine Days. There is room to be lenient if one bathes with lukewarm water to remove uncleanliness from one’s body, even in the week of Tisha Be’Av. During Shavua Shehal Bo, it is forbidden to do laundry, wear laundered clothing and shave. In certain years such as this one (5778) there is no Shavua Shehal Bo and those activities would be permitted, but the custom is to still refrain from shaving or getting a haircut. The Moroccan custom is to refrain from shaving as of Rosh Hodesh Av.

When does one respond “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo”?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 124:5), citing the Tur, says that one responds “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo” (lit. “blessed is He and blessed is His Name”) to any blessing that one hears and at any time. The Shulhan Aruch makes no distinction between a blessing through which one is having one’s obligation of a particular Mitzvah fulfilled, such as one listening to Kiddush, and any other type of blessing. 
 
The Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 124:21), on the other hand, cites sources that say that one should only respond “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo” to blessings that are not being recited on one’s behalf, such as if one’s fellow is reciting Birkot Hatorah during an Aliyah, and the like. For blessings that are being recited on one’s behalf, such as those for Kiddush, Shofar or Megila for example, then reciting “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo” can be considered as an interruption. In other words, just as one would not interrupt one’s own blessing, the same is true when one is listening to a blessing said on one’s behalf, according to this approach. 
 
The HIDA (Birke Yosef, § 124) says that although there is a stringent approach not to respond to blessings said on one’s behalf, the custom to do so should not be challenged. 
 
Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, pg. 101) says that the custom to respond “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo” should be upheld, especially in light of the fact that he considers it part and parcel of the blessing itself. Indeed, when people are overly stringent, then they may forget to recite “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo” even when a blessing is not said on their behalf, in which case all agree that is must be said. Thus, when people are overly cautious about reciting it, the significance of “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo”, which is an important praise of Hashem, is greatly diminished. 
 
Summary: Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo is recited when one hears any blessing.

How many are needed for Hazarat Hashatz?

The Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 124:4) says that when the Shaliah Tzibur recites the repetition of the Amida, there should be at least nine congregants who listen and respond to the Hazara intently. If there are not nine who can respond, the Shulhan Aruch continues, there is a possible risk of the Shaliah Tzibur’s blessings being recited in vain. As such, each congregant should consider it as though he is the ninth person and should therefore respond to the blessings. 

There are situations in which having nine people responding is not readily available. For example, if there is a Minyan of exactly ten men and a few pray especially slowly, then it could be burdensome to wait for nine to respond. Or, there are congregations in which the congregants simply do not have the requisite level of concentration to respond during Hazarat Hashatz. In such circumstances, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, ch. 111, § 15 and introduction to Hashamayim Hadashim) says that the Shaliah Tzibur may recite the Hazara but should have in mind that the recital should have the status of a voluntary prayer. He also points out that this opinion is cited by the Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 124:19) in the name of the Shulhan Shlomo, as well as by Rabbi Shlomo HaKohen of Debdou, Morocco. 

It should be noted that this approach does not work on Shabbat or Yom Tov, during which voluntary prayers are not recited, but rather only on weekdays. 

Summary: At least nine men should listen and respond to the Hazarat Hashatz. If this is not possible, the Shaliah Tzibur should have in mind that the Hazara have the status of a voluntary prayer.

Hazarat Hashatz: What’s the Minhag?

After the Amida of Shaharit ,Minha and Musaf are recited silently by the congregants, the Shaliah Tzibur repeats it aloud so as to fulfil the obligation for anyone who does not know how to pray, and this is known as Hazarat Hashatz (repetition of the Shaliah Tzibur) . There is a common custom in the Moroccan community that the Amida is not repeated at all in certain prayers. When Hazarat Hashatz is not recited, the Amida is recited as follows:When the congregants start their silent Amida, the Hazan recites the first three blessings out loud with the congregants reciting it simultaneously, but silently. The Kedusha is then recited in its normal fashion, after which everyone continues the Amida on their own, silently. Finally, when the Hazan reaches the blessing of “Retze”, he raises his voice once again until the end of the Amida. If other congregants finish the Amida before the Hazan, they thus have the opportunity to recite Modim DeRabanan and to listen to Birkat Kohanim. Besides allowing those who do not know how to pray to fulfil their obligation to pray, the Rosh (Berachot) says that the repetition of the Amida allows the congregants to recite Modim DeRabanan. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, by raising his voice in Retze, the congregants still have the chance to respond to Modim even when the Amida is not repeated. 

Among Moroccan rabbis, there are two approaches to whether or not the Amida need be repeated by the Shaliah Tzibur. However, this discussion is not a recent one nor is it unique to the Moroccan community. The Radbaz (Shu’t HaRadbaz, vol. IV, § 1165) records a debate that took place in his era, between the Egyptian transplants in Tzfat, who followed the Rambam and never repeated the Amida, and the natives of Tzfat who did repeat the Amida. 

Rabbi Moshe Toledano (Shamayim Hadashim, Orah Haim, § 9) based on the Rambam (Teshuvot HaRambam, § 255), suggests nullifying the repetition of the Amida altogether, since many times, there are not enough congregants who actually respond to the repetition, and thus the Shaliah Tzibur’s blessing may be in vain. Rabbi Yosef Messas (Mayim Haim, vol. I, § 41) also was of the opinion that the Amida need not be repeated, and that if it were repeated it was the exception, not the rule. 

On the other hand, Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shemesh Umagen, vol. IV, § 45) writes that the Moroccan community’s dispensation to not repeat the Amida was not based on the ruling of the Rambam, but rather was circumstantial. For example, on Shabbat morning when the prayer is longer than usual and congregants look forward to returning home to eat, the repetition of Musaf could be burdensome, and thus an expedited Musaf would be recited. As well, the Bet Yosef (§ 234) writes that the custom in Spain was to not repeat the Amida of the weekday Minha prayer, since congregants had to return to work and were busy with their affairs. Another circumstance is if the latest time for a prayer to be recited is approaching, then it may be recited without a repetition. Thus, Rabbi Shalom Messas, as well as Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Halichot Olam, vol. I, § 185) write that when a situation arises that necessitates reciting the Amida without a repetition, only then may it be done. 

Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, § 111:5), quoting the Arizal, says that there is great significance to the Shaliah Tzibur repeating the Amida. He therefore suggests a compromise by saying that laypeople, who are busy with their affairs, may skip the Hazarat Hashatz. On the other hand, Torah scholars, yeshiva students and pious people should strive to pray the Amida with Hazarat Hashatz, as was instituted by our Sages. 

Summary:   There are two approaches to Hazarat Hashatz in the Moroccan community.

How does one pray for a recovery or for livelihood?

The Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim, 119:1) says that if one wants to make a personal request in any of the middle blessings of the Amida, one may do so on behalf of oneself or one’s family. For example, if one wanted to recite a personal prayer for one’s livelihood, one could insert it in the blessing of Birkat Hashanim, as that is the blessing which discusses one’s livelihood. The same is true if one wishes to pray for the health of oneself or a member of one’s household, one would insert a personal prayer in Refa’enu. If one wishes to pray on behalf of someone outside of one’s household, one could insert the prayer in Shome’a Tefila or after the second “Yihyu Leratzon” at the end of the Amida. In this context, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 7, § 33), based on the Gemara (Shabbat 105) says that a Torah scholar is considered a member of one’s household and one would be able to pray for his health in Refa’enu itself. He also adds that one should not get into the habit of inserting personal prayers every time one prays lest they become rote and thus less meaningful.

The HIDA (Birke Yosef), based on the Arizal, says that the proper course of action is to think about the health or livelihood in Refa’enu or Birkat Hashanim, respectively, and then to recite a verbal prayer for those things in Shome’a Tefila.

Another detail is that when praying for someone’s health, one should say the person’s name and their mother’s name (eg. David ben Mazal, Tamar bat Simha). As well, when praying for one’s father one should add the honorific “Avi Mori” (lit. “my father, my teacher”). 

Summary:  When praying on behalf of oneself or a member of one’s household, one may insert a personal prayer in the appropriate blessing in the Amida. For other people one should do so in Shome’a Tefila or after the second “Yihyu Leratzon”. 

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