Friday, May 27, 2016

R. Yair Hayyim Bachrach as a Writer of Romance?, A Non-Jewish Song Made Holy, Love (and More) Before and After Marriage, and Memoirs that Maybe Tell Too Much

R. Yair Hayyim Bachrach as a Writer of Romance?, A Non-Jewish Song Made Holy, Love (and More) Before and After Marriage, and Memoirs that Maybe Tell Too Much
Marc B. Shapiro
Continued from here
There is an interesting responsum of R Yair Hayyim Bacharach, Havot Yair, no. 60, that deals with a man and woman who were in love and get married despite the strong opposition of the woman’s father. The story is quite romantic. It describes how during an epidemic in Worms in 1636 the beautiful and intelligent only daughter of one of the rich leaders of the local Jewish community falls ill. There is a man who had fallen in love with her and wants to take care of her in her illness. We are told that this man is tall and handsome, yet he comes from “the other side of the tracks” (i.e., from the lower class). He is able to get the agreement of both the father and daughter that if he takes care of the woman, which would be at great personal risk to himself, and she recovers, that they will marry. The woman indeed recovers but the man himself becomes sick, and the roles are reversed. The woman now takes care of him, which is only fitting since he caught the illness taking care of her. She too has fallen in with him and fortunately he survives, meaning that they are now able to marry. However, the father wishes to go back on his side of the agreement, which obligated him to provide a dowry, and that is the halakhic matter that the responsum focuses on.

Elchanan Reiner has argued that the entire story is a fiction, and what R. Bacharach, one of the most important 17th century halakhic authorities, has done is create a love story in line with the romantic stories that were appearing at this time in general literature. The story can therefore be seen as similar to a parable that is created for use in a sermon.[1]
The story R. Bacharach records is about a woman, indeed an only daughter, from a rich and important family. On the other side you have a poor man with no financial future. These are two people who in traditional Jewish society (and general society as well) normally would never be allowed or even want to come together. Yet because of the unusual circumstances of the epidemic, the man who dreams of the woman he could normally never have, is able to arrange a way to spend time with her and cross the boundary that otherwise would have kept them apart.
In the end we are inspired to see how love conquers all. For the sake of love the woman defies her father and gives up all the wealth that would be hers if she would only listen to her father and reject what her heart is telling her. It is a case of love vs. money, position, and power, and love wins. R. Bacharach mentions that when the father refuses to allow the marriage, the daughter says to him שעל כל פנים תזדקק לו הן בהיתר הן באיסור. What this means is that she threatens her father that if he doesn’t allow her to marry the man she loves, that she will be with him, i.e., sleep with him, anyway. For his part, the father says that he will not give her a dowry, and in the end ולקחה המשרת חנם. In other words, they married, but without any money from her father. They did what virtually no one else in 17th century Jewish society did. They married for love, choosing their own partners, without concern for status or money. According to Reiner, what R. Bacharach has given us in abridged form is nothing less than a Jewish version of Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story.
The late R. Raphael Posen responded to Reiner’s article, rejecting completely the latter’s hypothesis.[2] He acknowledges that the case described in R. Bacharach’s responsum may be theoretical, and notes that there are many such theoretical cases in the responsa literature. As for the romantic elements in the responsum, he states that in responsa one can find much “juicier” stories than the one discussed by Reiner, and there are also cases of lovers’ entanglements from completely different eras. Posen refers in particular to two responsa that appear in the Tashbetz. These responsa predate R. Bacharach by a couple of centuries. They also were written in North Africa, a place that did not have the sort of romantic literature that according to Reiner was the model for R. Bacharach’s responsum.
Reiner has a short and somewhat biting response to Posen.[3] He states that Posen’s article shows the very mentality that created the need for R. Bacharach to “cover up”, as it were, the love story he inserted into his responsa.
לא ניתן היה להעלות על הדעת דוגמא טובה הימנו להציג לקורא את פניה התרבותיים של השכבה החברתית שמפניה היה על חיים יאיר [!] בכרך מוורמס להסתיר לכאורה את סיפורו: שכבה העשויה מתלמידי חכמים בינוניים ובעלי בתים למדנים למחצה, הקוראים את הטקסט באופן חד ממדי, מפרשים אותו פירוש אחד ויחיד, שאינו סוטה מערכי היסוד הבסיסיים ביותר של סביבתם.
Reiner also states that what upset Posen was that Reiner’s portrayal of R. Bacharach diverges from the standard portrayal of “gedolei Torah” in that Reiner assumes that R. Bacharach was aware of the world around him and responded with originality to its intellectual challenges. Reiner obviously did not know Posen, as he assumed that Posen was an unsophisticated haredi ideologue with no appreciation for complexity in great rabbinic figures. The truth is that Posen, who represented the best of the German Orthodox tradition, was the exact opposite of this, as anyone can see by examining his essays in Ha-Ma’yan and elsewhere. As for the substance of the dispute between Reiner and Posen, I would love to hear which side readers come down on.
Regarding love prior to marriage, which we also discussed in the last post, it is noteworthy that there is a non-Jewish song focused on this theme that was turned into a religious song. Here is a Yiddish version of the original song, recorded by R. Yekutiel Yehudah Greenwald. It would have originally been sung in German or Hungarian [4]
וואַלד, וואַלד, ווי גרויס ביסטו
ראָזא, ראָזא, ווי ווייט ביסטו
וואָלט דער וואַלד ניט גרויס געווען
וואָלט דאָך מיין ראָזא נענטער געווען
וואָלט מען מיך פון וואַלד אַרויסגענומען
וואָלטן מיר זיך ביידע צוזאַמענגעקומען
This translates as:
Forest, Forest, how large you are,
Rosa, Rosa, how distant you are,
If the forest was not so large,
My Rosa would be closer,
If I would be taken out of the forest,
We would both come together.

By changing only a few words, R. Isaac Taub, the Kaliver Rebbe (1744-1828) turned this love song into a religious song, the title of which is גלות, גלות.[5]
גלות, גלות, ווי גרויס ביסטו
שכינה, שכינה, ווי ווייט ביסטו
וואָלט דער גלות ניט גרויס געווען
וואָלט דאך די שכינה נענטער געווען
וואָלט מען מיך פון גלות ארויסגענומען
וואָלטן מיר זיך ביידע צוזאַמענגעקומען

All this is well known in the hasidic world. It is so well known that one can only wonder how R. Yaakov Moshe Hillel could attempt to deny what I have just mentioned. In his Va-Yashav ha-Yam,[6] R. Hillel states, “Heaven forbid” to believe that any love songs were ever turned into religious songs by great rabbis:
(וכן מה שמפיצים שמועות כאלו על גדולים אחרים שהיו שומעים מהגוים שירי עגבים ומעתיקים אותם אל הקדושה, להלחין עליהם גם שירות ותשבחות גם קדישים וקדושות) אנא דאמינא ולא מסתפינא דחלילה להאמין כזה על גדולי ישראל שכבר כתבנו לעיל דלדעת כל הפוסקים אסור לשמוע שירי עגבים, ובעצם השמיעה לבד יש איסור, ואיך יתכן שגדולי ישראל יתעסקו בדברים מכוערים כאלו, חלילה להעלות כן על הדעת.
I have often written about how people are sometimes so convinced of something that when they are confronted with an alternative perspective in the writings of authoritative sages or in a report by a trustworthy person, they argue that the text is a forgery or the report is fraudulent, because gadol X never could have said or done such a thing. The situation with R. Hillel is even beyond this. The fact that the Kaliver Rebbe took a love song and turned it into a religious song is something that is known by all pretty much all educated Hungarian Hasidim (and not only Hasidim). It is worth noting that he didn’t just take the tune and add religious words, which is the case with other songs taken from the non-Jews. He actually kept the words, just changing a few of them.[7] Yet R. Hillel refuses to believe any of this. R. Hillel is a Sephardic Jew from India who probably knows close to zero about the history of Hasidism. Yet somehow he feels that he can declare that all the people who know the truth about this matter are not only incorrect, but are also degrading the honor of the Kaliver Rebbe.
Regarding love between husband and wife, I found an interesting passage from R. Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev.[8] He asks, why does the Torah tell us that Isaac loved Rebekkah? He answers that there are two ways a man loves his wife. One is that he loves her because of his physical lusts, “and this means that she is not his wife at all, rather, he [really] loves himself.” The other way of loving ones wife is because she is the “vessel” by which he can fulfill God’s commandments,[9] just like a person loves other mitzvot. “This is what it means that Isaac loved her, because he didn’t think at all about his physical desires, but was only intent on fulfilling God’s commandments.”
ויש אדם שאוהב אשתו ואינו מחמת תאות גוף שימלא תאותו רק מחמת שהיא כלי לקיים על ידה מצות הבורא ית' שמו כמו שאדם אוהב שאר מצות וזה נקרא אוהב את אשתו וזהו ויאהבה יצחק שלא חשב כלל מחמת תאות הגוף שלו רק כדי לקיים מצות הבורא ית' שמו ויתעלה זכרו.
R. Daniel Eidensohn has called attention to a similar approach attributed to the Baal Shem Tov, that you should love your wife as you love your tefillin. That is because with each of them you have the opportunity to fulfill mitzvot. See here. I don’t think this sort of interpretation will find much appeal in modern times, as it completely ignores the most obvious, and most important, type of love from husband to wife, which one hopes is present in every marriage. In fact, it is not only in modern times that such an interpretation would not be appealing, as all of the pre-modern sources that speak about loving one’s wife are indeed referring to real love.
R. Levi Yitzhak’s stress on love of one’s wife since she gives one the ability to perform mitzvot (i.e., purely utilitarian) is also at odds with other hasidic sentiments. For example, there is a famous story about a hasidic rebbe who was ill. A Lithuanian rabbi came to visit him late one night. He knocked on the door and when the rebbe answered the door, the rabbi said, “I have come to fulfill the mitzvah of bikur cholim”. The rebbe replied, “It is very late now, and I am tired and not in the mood to be the cheftza for your mitzvah.” This story is told among hasidim as a way to knock the non-hasidim. The lesson is that the Lithuanian rabbi should have come to visit the rebbe because he had the basic human emotion of wanting to show empathy to another who was suffering. Instead, he showed that this was foreign to his way of thinking, and his primary goal was simply to fulfill the mitzvah. And for that, the rebbe was not interested in taking part.
Since we are talking about love, I can’t resist sharing the following story told about R. Jacob Lorberbaum of Lissa. Like all of these types of stories, we can’t say if it actually occurred, but the fact that it is told is itself significant even if in this case I find it hard to believe that the sentiments expressed would be widely shared by any group. The story is found in R. Israel Beckmeister’s Ahavat Yisrael (Tel Aviv, 1976), pp. 49-50.

According to the story, a student once came to R. Lorberbaum and told him that since his wife hadn’t given birth in ten years he wished to divorce her. R. Lorberbaum asked him what his wife says about this, and he replied that she doesn’t want to be divorced as she loves him greatly. He also added that he too loves his wife greatly. R. Lorberbaum told him that he shouldn’t love her so much, and he should return home and God would grant him a child.
The student could not understand what R. Lorberbaum was telling him, since how could he tell a husband not to love his wife so much. When he returned home his wife asked him what R. Lorberbaum said, and he replied sharply that it does not concern her. This led to an argument and he slapped his wife, causing her to faint and leading to a great rift between them. The wife’s parents intervened and they were able to make peace between the couple, and following this the wife became pregnant and had a son.
R. Lorberbaum, who served as sandak, asked his student if he followed what he told him, i.e., not to love his wife so much. The student replied that he did, and that he also slapped her. R. Lorberbaum told him that the slap was too much, but that he should know that the scientists have stated that if a husband and wife are very much alike they cannot have children. Thus, when he heard that his student and his wife loved each other greatly, he understood why they couldn’t have children, and that is why he told the student that he shouldn’t love her so much. In other words, only if there is some distance between them will they be able to have children. (The nonsense that earlier generations believed in never ceases to amaze me. I realize, of course, that future generations might think the same about us.)
Another relevant text is found in R. Hayyim ben Betzalel of Friedberg’s Sefer ha-Hayyim. As part of my Torah in Motion tour of Germany this summer, we are going to Friedberg. The most famous of the rabbis of Friedberg was R. Hayyim ben Betzalel, the brother of the Maharal and a great scholar in his own right. In preparation for the trip I am reading material by and about R. Hayyim, and the following is one of the fascinating things I found.
In his Sefer ha-Hayyim,[10] R. Hayyim notes that the demons want to connect themselves with scholars or even with any men. However, this is difficult since men are on the highest spiritual level, and thus distant from the demons. Therefore, the demons connect themselves to women who are on a lower spiritual level than men, and thus closer to the demons. In other words, at the bottom you have demons, women are above them, and men stand at the top. As R. Hayyim explains, both demons and women share an important characteristic, namely, that they are naturally defective: חסירי היצירה. As proof for this contention about women, he cites Sanhedrin 22b:
אשה גולם היא ואינה כורתת ברית אלא למי שעשאה כלי
“A woman [before marriage] is a shapeless lump, and concludes a covenant only with him who transforms her [into] a [useful] vessel.”
The fact that the Talmud refers to a woman as a “shapeless lump” is proof for R. Hayyim that she is on a lower level than a man, and this basic division is not altered after marriage.
This then leads R. Hayyim to call attention to Exodus 22:17 which states מכשפה לא תחיה, “Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live.” He asks, why is only a sorceress mentioned, and not a sorcerer מכשף? He also calls attention to Avot 2:8, מרבה נשים מרבה כשפים, “The more wives, the more witchcraft,” which also makes the connection of sorcery to women. R. Hayyim explains that because of the closeness of women and demons the Torah was concerned that women would seek to “go down” and achieve completeness by connecting themselves with the demonic forces below them. This wasn’t such a worry when it came to men since they were “two levels above” the domain of the demons.
All of this is quite interesting, and R. Hayyim ben Betzalel was very happy with this explanation (which must be causing some readers to pull their hair out.) After offering it he expressed pride in what he wrote:
והנה לא קדמני אדם בפירוש זה והוא ענין נכון אצלי.
So what does this have to do with what I have been discussing in the post? R. Hayyim warns men not to be too connected to women (which includes their wives) since this will mean that they are trying to complete themselves and find perfection by means of someone who is on a lower level than them. I believe this to be in complete opposition to the modern romantic notion that men and women can be soulmates, for one cannot be a soulmate with one whose soul is literally on a lower level.[11]
Since I mentioned love between future husbands and wives, I should also note that there was concern that because young men and women were engaged, that they might initiate a physical relationship before the marriage. This explains the takkanot in Candia (1238) and Corfu (1663) forbidding an engaged man to even enter the house of his future father-in-law (where his fiancée lived).[12] The Corfu takkanah also states that an engaged woman is not permitted to be in the house of her future husband. The Corfu takkanah does make an exception that a month before the wedding the man and woman can be in the homes of their future in-laws. This is because there are wedding plans that need to be taken care of. But the takkanah specifies that the engaged couple must not be left alone.

The Candia takkanah states that if for some reason the man has to enter his future father-in-law's home, he has to bring two men with him to act as his "guards". The only exception to this rule is if the young man is studying Torah with his future father-in-law. In that case he can be at the home, since "the study of Torah is such as to weaken the force of the tempter."

Solomon Buber records a 1776 oath signed by a man in Lvov declaring that he will not enter the house of his future bride under any circumstanced.[13] This was no doubt required by the rabbi. According to the text of the oath, if the man violates his pledge

אהיה נדון כעובר על השבועה בכל מיני עונשין וקנסים עצומים וחרפות ובזיונות בלי שום המלטה בעולם
R. Jonathan Eybeschuetz, in a sermon delivered in Metz in 1744, declared that “from this point on” he would only write a betrothal contract if the man and woman give their solemn agreement not to touch one another until after the wedding.[14]
As is clear from the sermon of R. Eybeschuetz just referred to,[15] many engaged couples were ignoring the law of negiah. Even Mendelssohn did not follow it, as we see from a letter he wrote to his fiancée. “Even the kisses that I stole from your lips were mixed with some bitterness, for the approaching separation made me heavy of heart and incapable of enjoying a pure pleasure.”[16]
In his autobiography, R. Leon Modena records the following about his young fiancée who was on her deathbed. He was 19 years old at the time.
On the day she died, she summoned me and embraced and kissed me. She said, “I know that this is bold behavior, but God knows that during the one year of our engagement we did not touch each other even with our little fingers. Now, at the time of death, the rights of the dying are mine. I was not allowed to become your wife, but what can I do, for thus it is decreed in heaven. May God’s will be done.”[17]
This story reminded me of an incident R. Jacob Emden records in his autobiography, although the details are entirely different. The translation of this lengthy passage is by Jacob J. Schacter in his outstanding dissertation on R. Emden.[18]
A miracle also occurred to me, especially relevant to matters spiritual. (It was) a miracle similar to that of Joseph the righteous and (even) slightly more so. I was a young man, tender in years, in the full strength of my passion. I had been separated from my wife for a long time and greatly desired a woman. A very pretty unmarried young girl who was my cousin happened to meet me there and was alone with me. She brazenly demonstrated great love to me, came close to me and almost kissed me. Even when I was lying in my bed, she came to cover me well on the couch, in a close loving manner. Truthfully, had I hearkened to the advice of my instinct she would not have denied my desire at all. Several times it (indeed) almost happened, as a fire (consumes) the chaff. Frequently there was no one in the house with me but her. They (i.e. the members of her family) were also not accustomed to come for they stayed in the store on the marketplace, occupied with their livelihood all day. Had God not given me great strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power (Gen. 49:3), to overcome my fiery instinct which once almost forced me to do its bidding, (and) were it not for the grace of God which was great upon me, (I would have been unable) to withstand this very powerful temptation, greater than all temptations. I was a man at the prime of my strength and passion. There was a very pleasant beautiful woman before me who demonstrated for me all manner of love and closeness many times. She was related to me, unmarried, a tender child and recently widowed. She may have been ritually pure or would have ritually purified herself had I requested it. If I had wanted to fulfill my passionate desire for her, I was absolutely certain that she would not reveal my secret. I controlled my instinct, conquered my passion and determined to kill it. My heart was hollow and I did not . . . Blessed be the Lord who gives strength to the weary for I was saved from this flaming fire.
Schacter does not translate the next sentence in the memoir in which R. Emden expresses the wish that as a reward for standing firm, he and his descendants until the end of time will be protected from sexual temptation.
Here are the pages from the Warsaw 1896 edition of Megilat Sefer, pp. 82-83.
In 2012 a new edition of Megilat Sefer appeared, edited by R. Avraham Yaakov Bombach. Here is page 106 from this edition.
As you can see, the Bombach edition has omitted the entire story R. Emden tells. While R. Emden thought it was important for people to know about how he overcame his evil inclination, and he therefore recorded it for posterity, Bombach obviously felt that this is “too much information.” Instead of discussing the significance (and strangeness) of R. Emden allowing us entry into his most personal memories, Bombach chooses the other path and censors that which he is uncomfortable with.
On the other hand, in the introduction to the recently published memoir of the Sephardic scholar, R. Joseph Hayyim Abuhbut,[19] the editor calls attention to the very passage I have quoted, and which was censored by Bombach. He notes how much value the reader can derive from this passage in seeing how R. Emden was able to overcome temptation.
מה מאוד מופלאים הם דברי הגאון יעב"ץ זצ"ל . . . כמה תועלת תצמח לקורא כאשר יווכח לראות באיזה נסיונות נתנסה זה האיש המרעיש ארץ, מי מילל ומי פילל.
R. Elijah Rabinowitz-Teomim mentions in his autobiography that he lived in the home of his future father-in-law together with the girl he was engaged to.[20] At that time he was around sixteen years old and she was under fifteen. He mentions that she was in love with him: והיא דבקה אחרי בלבה. As with R. Emden, he makes a point of telling us that although he engaged in much conversation with her, as they had become very close (“like brother and sister”), he never touched her in all the time he lived in her home. Unlike R. Emden who tells us how much he was tempted and that he “greatly desired a woman,” R. Rabinowitz-Teomim tells us that his relationship with the girl was purely platonic, and he never even thought about her in a sexual way. 
בשלהי שנת תרי"ט העתיק אאמו"ר ז"ל משכנו לעיר ראגאלי ועמו יצאו כל ב"ב, ונשארתי לבדי בשילעל בבית המחותן . . . בכל משך היותי בבית המחותן לא הייתי רחוק מהמשודכת והיינו מדברים זע"ז, ובשגם אחרי נסע בית אאמו"ר ז"ל משם ונשארתי בבית אביה, כל היום, והיא דבקה אחרי בלבה, כאשר ראיתי וידעתי גם שמעתי כי יקרתי בעיני'. . . היינו קרובים זה לזה כאח לאחות, לשוחח כנהוג בבני הנעורים, אבל לא עלה לבי על דבר אחר, חלילה, ולא נגעתי בה אפילו באצבע קטנה כל משך שבתי עמהם, כדת שלת תורה.
So we have three memoirs by leading rabbis, all of which mention them with a girl. Both R. Emden and R. Rabinowitz-Teomim feel it is important to inform the reader that they never touched the girl. As we have seen, R. Emden was very proud of how he overcame his evil inclination and that is why he tells the story. I don’t know why R. Rabinowitz-Teomim thought it was important to mention the matter, especially as no one would have assumed that he had any physical contact before marriage.
I found another interesting source in R. Eleazar Kalir’s Havot Yair.[21] R. Kalir, who died in 1801, was the rabbi in Kolín, today in the Czech Republic. He discusses the common phenomenon of engaged couples having physical contact, and he tells us that no rebuke can stop the practice. He also says that the fault for this must be placed mostly upon the parents, since they are happy to see this behavior by the engaged couple and thus make no efforts to stop it.
בעו"ה רבו המספחת זו בישראל שתיכף אחר התקשורת התנאים, החתן הולך אל הכלה ואינו נזהר מח"ו [חיבוק ונישוק], והיא גם היא אסור לו משום נדה שהיא בכרת . . . ובעו"ה הדבר הזה הוא כמנהג הקבוע, ואולי הוא ממנהגות סדום ודור המבול שהשחיתו את דרכם, והיתר זה אינו בא רק כמאמרם, עבר ושנה נעשו לו כהיתר, ובעו"ה אין התוכחה מועלת בזה, שאמר יאמר מה בכך, שאני הולך אל הכלה שלי, שהיא המיועדת לי, על זה סיים הנביא וכלה מחופתה שאינה נקראת כלה אלא לאחר חופתה, ואז רשאי ליחד עמה, ואמרו כלה בלא ברכה אסורה לבעלה כנדה, וק"ו בעודה לא טהרה מטמאת נדתה.
ולא על החתן לבד יש להתלונן אלא ביותר על אבותיהם שרואים דבר זה, ולא די שהם שותקים אלא אף משמחים אלי גיל בראותן מעשים הללו בעיניהן ממש כצאן לטבח יובל . . . והוא מסייע ידי עוברי עבירה, בראותו תולדותיו כיוצא בזה ולא די דאינו מוחה אלא אף מסייע לדבר עבירה, ואדרבה מוטל על האבות להיות מוחים ובפרט מי שסיפק בידו לעשות.
Elsewhere in his book, we see that R. Kalir told his female congregants that on Shabbat morning they should leave the synagogue and go home before the end of services. This was to prevent men and women mixing which would happen if the women were still there when services ended.[22] It is hard to believe that he found much of a receptive audience for this request.
To Be Continued
1. In my last post I mentioned Maxine Jacobson’s new book on R. Leo Jung. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a soft-cover copy of the book for $25 can contact her directly at maxine.jacobson at

2. One of the most prolific authors of halakhic works in English is Rabbi Ari Enkin. His most recent book (which is his eighth such publication) is Halichot V’halachot. Anyone who is interested in modern issues and their halakhic ramifications will enjoy this book and his previous volumes. The topics he discusses run the gamut, from Shabbat and holidays, to kashrut, interpersonal issues, and civil and monetary law. As one can see from the numerous references in each essay, Rabbi Enkin has great erudition in the responsa literature, particularly the modern halakhic authorities. He cites these authorities no matter which ideological camp they are found in, and as such should be a model for all. Those who wish to order the book can contact the author at rabbiari at His website is here.

3. On June 5, 2016, in honor of Yom Yerushalayim, I will be speaking at the Community Synagogue of Monsey, 89 West Maple Avenue. The title of my talk is “R. Shlomo Goren: The Revolutionary Chief Rabbi.” The talk will follow minhah which is at 8:15pm.

[1] See Reiner, מעשה שאירע בק"ק ווירמייש"א ברעש הגדול שנת שצ"וHa-Aretz, Oct. 4, 2006, available here.
[2] See Posen, מגדלים פסיכולוגיסטייםHa’aretz, Oct. 17, 2006, available here.
[3] See Reiner, שערי פירושים לא ננעלוHa’aretz, Oct. 24, 2006, available here.
[4] Toyznt yor Idish lebn in Ungarn ([New York, 1945]), p. 173.
[5] See ibid.
[6] Vol. 2, no. 7 (p. 145).
[7] See R. Avraham Mordechai Katz, “Be-Inyan Shirat Nigunim ha-Musharim Etzel ha-Goyim,” Minhat ha-Kayitz 8-11 (2006), pp. 73-74, who makes this point and responds to R. Hillel. Regarding using non-Jewish music, Dov Weinstein called my attention to this shiur on the Yeshivat Kise Rahamim website which begins with music from Abba’s song “Dancing Queen.” I can’t imagine that the person who inserted the music has any clue where it comes from.

The Kise Rahamim website is where you can find R. Meir Mazuz’s shiurim, but a number of short videos are not included on the website. For example, this video appeared on Yom ha-Zikaron 2016:

R. Mazuz refers to the day as “kadosh ve-nora” and calls for synagogues to recite the prayer for Israeli soldiers every Shabbat. As he notes, if someone donates ten shekalim you make a blessing for him, so how could you not make a blessing for one who spills his blood for the Jewish people? I understand full well why haredim don’t say the prayer for the State of Israel. Yet I have never understood how haredi society could refuse to recite a mi-sheberakh prayer for the soldiers, the same soldiers who are the only reason why there can be a haredi society in Israel in the first place. Interestingly enough, in all the conversations over the years that I have had with haredim regarding this matter, to my recollection I have never met one who agreed with, or was willing to defend, his community’s avoidance of the prayer. (I am referring to mainstream haredim, not Satmar or other anti-Zionists.)
[8] Kedushat Levi (Warsaw, 1902), p. 15b, s.v. ויביאה יצחק
[9] The text has מצות which could be read as singular or plural.
[10] (Jerusalem, 1993), p. 153 (Sefer Selihah u-Mehilah, ch. 10). See Byron Sherwin, “In the Shadows of Greatness: Rabbi Hayyim Ben Betsalel of Friedberg,” Jewish Social Studies 37 (Winter 1975), pp. 49-50.
[11] Since this post has dealt a good deal with love, let me add one more point about a different sort of love. There is an old question, why when the kohanim bless the people do they say וצונו לברך את עמו ישראל באהבה? Where do we find that the kohanim were told to bless the people “with love”?  A number of different answers have been given, and one famous answer, intended as a joke, is as follows.
Before giving us the text of the priestly blessing , the Torah, Numbers 6:23, states:
דבר אל אהרן ואל בניו לאמור, כה תברכו את בני ישראל אמור להם.

This word, אמור, sounds a lot like the French and Italian words for love, so we see that God is telling the kohanim to love the people.
As mentioned, this is a famous answer. Not so famous is that it was actually stated by R. Leon Modena with reference to Italian. He, of course, also intended it as a joke. See Ziknei Yehudah, no. 127:
ואמרתי על דרך צחות דכתיב כה תברכו אב"י אמו"ר להם אמור בלע"ז היינו באהבה.
[12] See Louis Finkelstein, Jewish Self Government in the Middle Ages (New York, 1964), pp. 271-272, 279, 320-321.
[13] Solomon Buber, Anshei Shem (Cracow, 1895), p. 132.
[14] See Ya’arot Devash (Jerusalem, 1988), vol. 1, p. 62, s.v. ואתם עם ה'. The last three sources I have cited are mentioned by Salo Wittmayer Baron, The Jewish Community (Philadelphia, 1942), vol. 3, p. 206. For other relevant sources, see David Biale, Eros and the Jews (Berkeley, 1997), pp. 70ff.
[15] See Ya’arot Devash, vol. 1, pp. 61, 62
[16] Alexander Altmann, Moses Mendelssohn (Portland, 1998), p. 93.
[17] The Autobiography of a Seventeeth-Century Venetian Rabbi, trans. Mark R. Cohen (Princeton, 1988), p. 91.
[18] “Rabbi Jacob Emden: His Life and Major Works” (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, 1988), pp. 55-57.
[19] Meoraot Yosef (Elad, 2014), p. 14 (first pagination).
[20] Seder Eliyahu (Jerusalem, 1983), pp. 22-23.
[21] (Jerusalem, 2004). p. 76.
[22] Ibid., p. 75.


Dr. Ezra Chwat said...

Regarding the fascinating tale of the Baal HaNetivot RY Lorberbaoum, fictive or not, this is simply reenacting the tale of RASHBY in Shir Hashirim Rabba I, who apparently also felt that he could induce pregnancy by easing up the relationship between over-constrained lovers. Ironic you should post this around lag B'omer and miss this obvious literary spin-off.

Dr. Ezra Chwat said...

also written here: ."I don’t know why R. Rabinowitz-Teomim thought it was important to mention the matter, especially as no one would have assumed that he had any physical contact before marriage".
Here to there's a literary level, that. as long as there's no reason to omit, there's literary value to the story- here he's simply echoing the tragic widow in the visitation of Elijah in Tanah Dvei Eliyahu recorded ain TB Shabbat 13a.
Both of these aggadot are so well known, that Rabbinic literature employ them as literary idiom (Melitazh). Even Halakhic literature has license for an occasional Melitzah. certainly Rabbinic memoirs do too.

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