July 23, 2024
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A Joint Bar Mitzvah and Shabbat Chatan

Hashem blessed Shaarei Orah with an extraordinarily beautiful Shabbat last week. We experienced a joint simcha of the bar mitzvah of Yonah Amos, and the Shabbat Chatan of Dr. Binyamin Benson, who married Ms. Shira Goldberg of Manhattan. Dr. Benson permits me to share an interesting discussion in which we engaged on Shabbat.

Honoring Family Practices

When Dr. Benson’s father, Mr. David Benson, received his aliya, he said Emet Toratenu HaKedosha before reciting the bracha that follows the reading of his portion. However, when the chatan received his aliya he did not proclaim Emet Toratenu HaKedosha. I asked Dr. Benson, who was my talmid at TABC and has been a congregant for 19 years, why he is not following his father’s practice. After all, Chazal teach the importance of following family practices.

The obligation to abide by the halachic practices of our parents is best illustrated by the following Talmudic passage (Pesachim 50b): The Bnei Byshan did not travel from Tyre to Sidon on Friday to avoid detracting from their preparations for Shabbat. Their children posed the following question to Rav Yochanan: “Our fathers were able to abide by this stringent practice because they were wealthy. We, however, find it economically cumbersome to abide by this stringency. Are we obligated to maintain their practice?” Rav Yochanan answered that they must follow their fathers’ customs, as Sefer Mishlei teaches, “Listen, my son, to the teachings of your father, and do not abandon the Torah of your mother” (1:8).

Dr. Benson replied that reluctantly he was not following his father’s practice since he was told that reciting Emet Toratenu HaKedosha constitutes a hefsek (unwarranted interruption) between the Torah reading and its subsequent bracha. He made a compromise, though, by thinking Emet Toratenu HaKedosha. This is a good interim idea as some rule that hirhur k’dibbur, thought is the equivalent of articulating (Brachot 20b). However, I advised Dr. Benson that it is better if he would follow his father’s practice and actually say Emet Toratenu HaKedosha before the bracha.

The Emet Toratenu HaKedosha Debate

Although Dr. Benson was told that Emet Toratenu HaKedosha constitutes a hefsek, there is considerable debate about this topic. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yabia Omer 1 Orach Chaim 9) does express concern that it does constitute a hefsek. He concludes that while it is preferable to omit saying these words, one who does recite them has upon what to rely.

However, North African Jews and many Persian Jews do recite Emet Toratenu HaKedosha. Many have defended this practice including the dean of Moroccan practice, Rav Shalom Messas (Teshuvot Shemesh U’Magen 3 Orach Chaim 85:17) and Rav Mordechai Lebhar in his Magen Avot.

Those who defend its recital note the widespread practice among Sephardic Jews to recite “Go’alenu Hashem Tzevakot Shemo” after reading the haftarah but before its after-brachot. It is argued that just as Go’alenu Hashem Tzevakot Shemo does not constitute a hefsek since it furthers the theme of the brachot on the haftarah, so too Emet Toratenu HaKedosha does not constitute a hefsek since it supports the theme of the bracha for after one’s aliya.

Conclusion

Interestingly, Rav Lebhar quotes Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv who rules in accordance with those who defend the custom to recite Emet Toratenu HaKedosha. Accordingly, since the custom of many Persian Jews is to recite Emet Toratenu HaKedosha and is the custom of his father (who is a Persian Jew), I recommended to Dr. Benson that he should recite Emet Toratenu HaKedosha after his aliyah. Indeed, the only way for our children to care about our practices is if we follow the practices of our parents. Dr. Benson agreed and from now on will follow his father’s practice to recite Emet Toratenu HaKedosha after his aliya.

Postscript

For a presentation of the rich debate regarding the recital of Emet Toratenu HaKedosha, see the beautiful collection of sources assembled by Rav Mordechai Djavaheri, archived at: https://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/908722/mordechai-djavaheri/keriat-hatorah-declarations-hashem-imachem!-emet-toratenu-hakedoshah,-&-goaleinu


 

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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