Monday, September 21, 2009
"So, when did you finish?"
WSJ Photo Blog
Try as hard as you can, you still can't avoid having the conversation at least once over the High Holy Days, despite the point being childish and all. When your shul finishes Mussaf on R"H tells people a lot about you. If you finish early you obviously don't care enough about the day. You didn't daven a long enough Shmone Esrei, didn't say enough Piyutim, didn't take very long to say to say LaMnatzeyach, and so on. You probably go home, eat too much, talk too much Loshon HoRah, and maybe do a few grubbe aveiros. You may have woken before dawn and davened Netz, and you may have fasted until Kiddush after Mussaf, but it's not the same. You may have stood on your feet all day, but it's still not the real thing. In short, you didn't have the "true" RH experience, unless you came home from shul when all others were going back to Mincha. You may have had a four course kiddush after shacharis, and maybe even a nap, but you win, because you were seen with your tallis at 6pm. Somehow Rosh Hashonoh also became like Yom Kippur, where all day is spent in shul.
It used to be that when I was a kid there was Bobov. They were the only ones that stayed so late in shul on RH. Word on the street was that the Bobover Roov, Reb Shlomo z"l, said that "er ken zayn oylem," and that he'd best keep them in shul, otherwise who knows what they'll do once they get home and have some free time... I'm sure that made his people very happy, knowing what he thought of them... All other shuls finished at 2, 2:30, 3:00, Four o'clock was already "ibber di moss," way overboard. Most people had time to go home and have a normal seudas yom tov, and maybe even go to Tashlich, if you lived close enough to the water. If not you went back to shul and had plenty of time to say tehillim, maybe even the whole sefer. I don't know, maybe that was just Golus America, and in reality it was always that way in di alte heim. IIRC that's the way it was in Munkacs with the Minchas Elozor at the helm, and maybe in Galicia some of the Sanzer Eyniklach also led all-day services. I doubt that was the order in Poland, even in non-Gerrer circles, since they said little Yotzer there.
"Why does it bother you, Hirshel," is the obvious question. It doesn't. In no way do I feel like I don't have the RH experience, especially since I'm a SHaTZ on the high holy days. I'm just trying to understand the thinking, especially regarding those that only recently picked up on this, meaning that it was never their custom to keep people in shul all day. Take the Belzer, for instance. The last few years have seen the development of a new, bizarre minhag in Belz-Yerushalayim, where they finish mincha - which immediately follows mussaf - after Shkiah and even after Tzeis haKochavim DeRabbeinu Tam. This was - I believe - NEVER the case in Belz, but they want it all, including outdoing all other Hoyfen, so they do it. Nobody is happy in their own skins anymore, they look to make sure that they're on par with everybody else. That would be fine in important matters like education and Tzedokoh, but why the need to do it when it comes to times of finishing davening?! G-d bless the Gerrers when it comes to this; they do their thing and could care less what anybody thinks of their schedule. It's called taking pride in what you do and have done forever. Some of the others out there could take a page from their playbook.