Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Korach Minyan this past Shabbos

This past week, we held a minyan which in part tried to resolve one of the problematic inequalities in halacha (Jewish law) -- the inferiority of leviim and yisraelim as opposed to kohanim. In a regular minyan, a levi or yisrael is not called up for the first aliya where there is a kohen present, and a levi or yisrael may not duchen.

This is an unfortunate situation, for were not all Jews present at Har Sinai? Did not all Jews hear Hashem give the Ten Commandments? All of Israel is holy (see Bemidbar 16:3), yet the kohanim have taken upon themselves a special role!

So I gathered a group of likeminded Leviim (including some Korach Leviim, of the Horowitz family, who can trace themselves to Korach and refer to him as the heilege zeide Korach) and Yisraelim, and we set about making a minyan in which we could get the first aliya and could duchen.

To this end, we excluded kohanim from the minyan. Thus, we had no problem of getting the first aliya.

In terms of duchening, I came up with the following ingenious solution: As the time in Shemoneh Esrei approached for birkat leviim veyisraelim, the select few used the facilities. Afterwards, we had other leviim wash their hands, after which they said asher yatzar.

Meanwhile, these prechosen few had deliberately omitted birchat haTorah in the beginning of davening. Now they said it, and immediately thereafter, stood before the tzibbur, faced them, and said in a loud voice "yevarechecha Hashem veyishmerecha..."

Don't think I did this without getting prior Rabbinic approbation. I approached Rav Schachter outlined my plans, and asked if he thought that they met halachic requirements.

He replied: Don't be a schnook.
I asked him: Does this mean that there are no halachic issues?
He replied: Don't do it.

I surmised from this that there are no halachic reasons to refrain from doing this, but he did not think it was a good idea from a sociological perspective. And he and I clearly differ on this aspect. But at least on purely halachic standing, I was good to go!

// yes, satire
// and there is a story behind it besides just being parshat Korach
// what do you think? comments welcome.


Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Larry Lennhoff said...

OK, I've read Women, Jewish Law and Modernity: New Opportunities in a Post-Feminist Age where the author talks about this in the context of opposition to certain practices of Women's tefillah groups.

The other thing you are making a reference to is the fact that Rabbi Avi Weiss went to his rebbe RYBS about his desire to march the Torah down the women's section and was told not to do it, but it was not halachically forbidden. He then went ahead and did it anyway.

joshwaxman said...

Indeed, I am roughly reacting to certain aspects of (certain) Women's Tefillah Groups, though the specific impetus is something I'm not going to post here.

And indeed, it was an allusion to that story involving Rabbi Weiss, but the extension to women's prayer groups in general was not done initially by me. see this post on Hirhurim where he explains the link, and this link where he goes into more detail.


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