Who’s Your Teacher

The Sages, seeing that his mind was clear, entered his chamber and sat down at a distance of four cubits. ‘Why have ye come?’ said he to them. ‘To study the Torah’, they replied; ‘And why did ye not come before now’, he asked? They answered, ‘We had no time’. He then said, ‘I will be surprised if these die a natural death’. R. Akiba asked him, ‘And what will my death be?’ and he answered, ‘Yours will be more cruel than theirs’. He then put his two arms over his heart, and bewailed them, saying, ‘Woe to you, two arms of mine, that have been like two Scrolls of the Law that are wrapped up. Much Torah have I studied, and much have I taught. Much Torah have I learnt, yet have I but skimmed from the knowledge of my teachers as much as a dog lapping from the sea. Much Torah have I taught, yet my disciples have only drawn from me as much as a painting stick from its tube.

Sandheden 68a

And My Master Yeshua of Nazareth is the Greatest of them all.


HaMoshiach Confirms and Expounds the Law of Moses

Matthew 5:17

HaMoshiach Confirms and Expounds the Law of Moses. Matt. 5, 17-37.

Good works Yeshua has just urged. He now proceeds to give a definition of good works from the Law. He makes clear His position with regard to the Law: V.17. Think not that I am come to destroy the Law and the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. The teaching of the Kingdom, the Gospel which He came to proclaim, is a doctrine radically different from the teaching of Moses. But it does not invalidate the demands of the moral law as taught by Moses, it does not substitute a new moral law. Yeshua rather emphasizes its proper understanding, and for that reason takes great pains to explain its spiritual content. He wants to fulfill, to bring out fully, the real import, to counteract the influence of the shallow, superficial explanation then in common use; and then to render a perfect obedience to the Law. He who might abrogate all its demands, who has power to modify any of its injunctions, places Himself under the Law, Gal. 4, 4, and, by fulfilling its every letter, cancels the law of the letter. And He fulfills the prophets.

Whatever, in the revelation of the Old Testament, is type and prophecy, finds its completion, its realization in HaMoshiach the Redeemer, Col. 2, 17. Note the emphasis of His assertion: V.18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and. earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled. With a solemn oath HaMoshiach here affirms that the Law shall be retained also in the Church of the New Testament in the unabridged exercise of its strength. The whole Old Testament is a divine revelation, and so its minutest precept has religious significance which should find recognition and proper understanding in the New.

So long as the earth shall stand, the sacredness of the Scripture of olden times shall remain so absolutely unimpaired that not even an iota, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, nor a tittle, the slight projecting point on some of its letters, shall fall to the ground. There is here a gleam of Gospel glory in the midst of the proclamation of the Law, implying a fulfillment which was to be made, and was in fact made, in and through the person of Yeshua HaMoshiach. In the mean time all men should know: V.19.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Here is a conclusion. Since the above is HaMoshiach’s view, He is bound to take His stand with reference to the transgressors of that rule. He that dissolves, abrogates, sets aside even those commandments that seem small and of little import, he that disregards as much as one of the little horns or hooks, whose presence or absence may, indeed, change the meaning of an entire passage, falls under HaMoshiach’s sentence of condemnation, he is declared to be the least in the kingdom of heaven.

The sincerity of his convictions will not be accepted as an excuse, and his fault will only be made greater by his extending the false opinion he holds by means of teaching. He shall be called the least, he shall be rejected in this kingdom, he shall be excluded from its glories. On the other hand, he that teaches in entire conformity with the Old Testament, that preaches not only the Gospel, but the Law in its great purpose of preparing the hearts, that keeps silence with regard to nothing, that does not add thereto nor take therefrom, he shall have a great name in the kingdom of heaven, he shall receive the reward of faithfulness. For this teaching is essential in educating men as to the true righteousness of life, in holding up before the Netzarim a proper rule of conduct. How strongly this feature is brought out by the contrast: V.20.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Not in the teachers of the people as they were then acknowledged, but only in Himself there would be the perfect realization of teaching and doing. The scribes were the accepted teachers of the Law, and many of them were members of the sect, or party, of the Pharisees. The chief accusation which HaMoshiach brought against these people is recorded in many passages of the Gospels; cp. Matt. 23.

The feature of their doctrine and life was this, that they set aside the great for the little, the divine for the sake of the traditional. The result was a slavish observing of externals, which gave them a great show of piety before the people, an impression which they were very careful to nourish. So far as the great majority of these sectarians was concerned, their hearts were far from true piety and righteousness of the heart, which seeks, in true love of one’s neighbor, to do the will of God in word and deed. Wherever such is the case, there is no faith, and therefore no idea of entering into the kingdom of heaven.

The Lord now proceeds to prove His condemning statement by expounding a few of the commandments of the Law according to their full spiritual significance: V.21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill: and, Whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. They were accustomed to hear this in the regular synagog services, where the reading of the Law was never omitted. It was said both to them of old time, Ex. 20, 13; Deut. 5, 17; Gen. 9, 5. 6, and by them of old time, in the precepts delivered by tradition from father to son as well as by the teachers of the people, 2 Chron. 17, 7-9, but the addition, fixing the penalty, was made in the interpretation of the rabbis. But by this explanation the meaning of “kill” was restricted to actual murder, and the commandment of God became a mere external legal enactment.

The end of the transgression was penalized, but the beginning, in desires, in thoughts, in words, was not restrained. “Behold, that is the beautiful holiness of the Pharisees, which can cleanse itself, and remain pious, so long as it does not kill with the hand, though the heart be filled with anger, hatred, and envy, the tongue also with cursing and blaspheming.” 49 HaMoshiach’s exposition is not so narrow: V.22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire.

The statement of the Lord is very general: Every one, none excepted; it is a universal prohibition of angry passion. He that gives way to such wrath is guilty of judgment, of condemnation. Anger against a brother, any member of the human family, is a deadly sin. It should properly come under the jurisdiction of the council or court, Deut. 16, 18; 2 Chron. 19, 5. This is speaking relatively. The person that gives way to anger is as great an offender in God’s sight as the one that slays his brother in cold blood, Gal. 5, 20; Col. 3, 8; Jas. 1, 19. 20. The same condemnation, but with greater emphasis, falls upon him that cannot control his anger, permitting it to burst forth in maledictions. Raca is an Aramaic word meaning an empty head, a stupid.

The one using angry epithets of this nature is guilty of the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews that tried the worst offenses and inflicted the severest penalties. Anger that is not quickly controlled will become hatred combined with contempt, and freely indulge in railing, 1 Pet. 3, 9. A still greater insult lies in the epithet, “Thou fool,” which was used to denote a good-for-nothing, hopeless, helpless, morally worthless fool, and expressed contempt for a man’s heart and character.

This expression of utter disregard of the fellow-man’s position in the eyes of God is an offense equal to that of murder, it is a damnable sin, 1 John 3, 15; Rev. 21, 8. It is punishable by the fire of Hinnom, the valley where the refuse of Jerusalem was burned – a figure often used by Yeshua in speaking of the punishment of hell-fire. Yeshua presents the positive side of His exposition: V.23. Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee,V.24. leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

The forgiving attitude is pictured from a happening which was very frequent among the Jews, with which they were thoroughly familiar. A Jew might bring his Corban, his gift, used of every kind of bloody and unbloody sacrifice which was brought to the Temple, Matt. 8, 4; 15, 5; 23, 8. But in the very act of handing it to the officiating priest at the altar there comes the remembrance. It suddenly flashes into his mind that he has been guilty of an act or a word which might have provoked a brother. The natural way of dealing with the situation might seem to be to keep on with the worship, get through as quickly as possible, and then hurry to make peace with the offended. But HaMoshiach tells us to interrupt our worship and go on the errand of seeking forgiveness first, though it may seem profane to do so. It is more important that the heart be free from anxiety for a brother’s peace of mind than that an external rite be performed: mercy before sacrifice. There will be plenty of time for sacrificing afterward. Cp. Is. 58, 4-7.

The same truth in a different parable: V.25. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou. art in the way with him, lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.V.26. Verily, I say unto thee, Thou shall by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. The picture is that of a debtor on the way to court with his creditor, Deut. 21, 18; 25, 1, who is his adversary, but probably might be found willing to come to terms outside of court. The advice is that the debtor be in a very conciliatory mood, ready and eager to straighten out the difficulty without litigation.

In case a settlement would not be effected in this manner, the danger would be that the adversary, losing all patience, would deliver and even forcibly drag the debtor before the judge, secure a favorable decision, have this carried out by the officer of the court, and have the satisfaction of seeing him taken to prison. All hopes of obtaining mercy would then be shattered. For even the last quadrans, the fourth part of a Roman assarion, which was worth not quite two cents, would be demanded of him. Payment would be exacted to the last fraction of a penny. A very earnest admonition not to wait or hesitate about coming to terms with our adversary, with any one whom we owe reconciliation. The brief period of life is soon behind us, and the implacable that refused to agree will find in the Lord an equally implacable Judge.

A lesson from the Sixth Commandment: V.27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.V.28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looked on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. The Sixth Commandment had indeed been given to “them of old time,” Ex. 20, 14; Deut. 5, 18. But it was understood by the Jewish teachers of the sin in deed only, of the deliberate unfaithfulness of those joined in wedlock, or the carnal intercourse of the unmarried. Many rabbis expressly stated that the evil thought should not be regarded on a level with the sinful act. 50

HaMoshiach’s explanation opens the deeper meaning of the commandment. He finds the beginning of adultery in the deliberate nourishing of the awakening lust of the heart. A woman may be seen, come within the range of vision of a man, and there is no wrong in the act. Ordinary human intercourse would be impossible without it. But when the look turned upon any woman, married or unmarried, is deliberate and intentional, conscious and persistent, as on a person of the opposite sex, and this is followed by an impure desire of coveting her for immoral purposes, then adultery has in fact been committed, although the sin is hidden deeply in the heart.

HaMoshiach’s advice to the tempted: V.29. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.V.30. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee. For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. The right eye and the right hand are named as prominent members in the actual committing of sin, through which the evil desire of the heart finds its expression. They are represented as the organs of temptation. According to popular view, they are the members that offend, that incite to the actual commission of sin. Therefore, symbolically speaking, these members and all the members of the body must be controlled, if necessary, by an absolute and painful renunciation.

Better to be without individual organs and members of the body than have the whole body condemned. HaMoshiach speaks figuratively, and His words must be understood in the spiritual sense; for mutilation evidently may prevent the outward act, but will not kill the desire. Every member of the body shall be so controlled and governed by the sanctified will that it will not yield to sin, thus bringing the whole body into condemnation. Yeshua again uses the figure of the perpetual fires of the valley of Hinnom, where the waste and refuse of the city of Jerusalem was burned, for the punishment of hell. “This, then, is the meaning: If you feel that you look upon a woman with evil lust, then pluck that eye or vision out as being contrary to God’s commandment, not of the body, but of the heart from which the burning and desire proceeds, then have you torn it out rightly.

For when the evil lust is out of the heart, then the eye will also not sin nor offend you, and you will look upon the same woman with the same eyes of your body, but without desire, and it will be as though you had not seen her. For no longer is that eye there which was there before, which is called an eye of burning or desire, although the eye of the body remains uninjured.”

51 A further illustration; V.31. It hath been said,. Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.V.32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery. The form in which Yeshua here speaks indicates that He disapproves of their literal interpretation of the permission granted by Moses, Deut. 24, 1. The Mosaic law was given in the interest of the woman, to give her at least some show of right. But the Jewish doctors, concerned only about the outward form and about getting the bill of separation into due legal shape, permitted a license which was soon carried to scandalous and criminal excesses.

Pouncing upon the phrase: “She find no favor in his eyes,” they permitted divorces when a man found a handsomer woman, when he was displeased with his wife’s cooking, when he did not find her manners agreeable. Only the bill or letter of separation must be made out, that formality was insisted upon. But such a deliberate breaking of the marriage-tie, though it be sanctioned by the civil courts, has no validity before God.

The Lord recognizes only one reason for divorce, when there is a plain case of unfaithfulness, of adultery, of any unlawful intercourse of a married person with any other person but the lawful spouse. In this case a divorce may be secured, but is not commanded. “We neither command nor hinder such divorce, but leave it to the government to act…. But to give advice to such as want to be Netzarim, it would be far better to admonish and urge both parties to stay together, and that the innocent spouse be reconciled to the guilty one (if this one were humble and willing to amend) and forgive in HaMoshiachian love.” 52 If any other reason is alleged and the divorce brought about, adultery is committed, both by the complainant, in severing the marriage-tie, and by the accused that permits the frivolous dissolution. In the same way he that marries a woman divorced from her lawful husband, to whom she still belongs before God, is an adulterer in the eyes of the Lord.

An illustration from the Second Commandment: V.33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.V.34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;V.35. nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king.V.36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.V.37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Yeshua introduces the subject as before, referring to the customary reading of the Law and the accompanying teaching. The implication of HaMoshiach is that the people were really kept under a false impression, by being permitted to draw the conclusion that they were listening to the exact words of Moses. The words as stated are indeed found in the Law, Lev. 19, 12; Num. 30, 3; Deut. 23, 22. But the interpretation left much to be desired. It placed no emphasis upon the inner truthfulness of the heart. If that is missing, what object have all oaths? All the careful distinctions as to degrees of oaths, and therefore of perjury, were a yoke on the necks of the Jews that did not affect their hearts. And it was a matter of mere sophistical quibbling that permitted all manner of affirmations in which the divine name was not mentioned directly, Deut. 6, 13, and thus evaded the obligation of the oath. There is not the slightest difference between an oath in the name of God and such asseverations as substitute the names of holy things, heaven, or such over which God alone has control: His city, Jerusalem, the earth, His footstool, a man’s head or life.

All these oaths involve a reference to God. And all of them, as He distinctly specifies them, one after the other, are superfluous where the heart is pure and truthful. The Lord distinctly condemns the incessant, frivolous calling upon the Deity in all kinds of garbled forms. He does not imply that oaths, under circumstances, are not altogether lawful and right. “In civil life the most truthful man has to take an oath because of the untruth and consequent distrust prevailing in the world, and in so doing he does not sin against HaMoshiach’s teaching. HaMoshiach Himself took an oath before the high priest.” 53 His demand is absolute truthfulness and straightforwardness in the dealing of people with one another.

There the affirmation shall have the full value and force of the Yea, and the denial the simple power of the Nay, that there may be an unhesitating dependence upon all statements, without the support of an oath. Anything that goes beyond this simple definition is of evil, even savors of the influence of the evil one, the devil, the father of lies. Yeshua expressed Himself mildly with a purpose, and did not deny the necessity of oaths in, a world full of falsehood. “I know, He means to say, that in certain circumstances something beyond yea and nay will be required of you. But it comes of evil, the evil of untruthfulness. See that the evil be not in you.”

Teimani Halakhah

Why Teimani halakhah?

To reconstruct the ancient Netzarim halakhah, modern Netzarim were faced with the challenge of restoring the lacuna left by nearly 2,000 years of dormancy. To fill this lacuna, based on the state of the first-century Jewish community described in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT, the Netzarim adopted as the base set the halakhah, tradition and culture that scholars consistently regard as most authentic and uninfluenced by external forces: the Teimanim (Yemenite Jews).

Instead of “assuming” 4th-century C.E. Hellenist Roman-pagan doctrines unless Jesus and the “saints” specifically declared otherwise, like the Christians do, the Netzarim restored the most pristine set of halakhah on the planet — the same halakhah that Ribi Yәhoshua knew, practiced and taught! Oriented exactly opposite to Christians, the Netzarim assert Teimanim halakhah unless Ribi Yәhoshua specifically declared otherwise — and he didn’t.

The Teimanim best reflect the 1st-century Jews and the 1st-century observant (i.e., non-secular / non-Hellenist) Jewish community, who — undiluted by European caucasian or 4th-century pagan and anti-Torah Roman Christianity defined the parameters (for which cf. Qimron on Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT) within which Ribi Yәhoshua lived, taught Torah, and defined his original followers — the Netzarim.

It is the Teimanim who have most pristinely preserved the Judaism and liturgy not only of the 1st-century which Ribi Yәhoshua and his original Netzarim followers practiced and taught, but which dates back to Har Sinai — the Judaism which Ribi Yәhoshua taught and championed.

The most respected scholars in the world are virtually unanimous that the Teimani liturgy and sidur is the most pristine written record on the planet of how Ribi Yәhoshua and his original Netzarim followers — as well as all other 1st century religious Jews — prayed. The Teimani liturgy and sidur differs significantly from the Sepharadi liturgy and sidur and even moreso from the Ashkenazi liturgy and sidur.

Recognized by historians as the most ancient, undiluted and pristine halakhah and liturgy from Har Sinai, Teimani tradition is, therefore, the most authentic example of Judaism on the planet.

Therefore, because Teimani liturgy best reflects 1st-century Judaism as corroborated by Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT — which describes the 1st-century Judaism endorsed by Ribi Yәhoshua — Teimani liturgy is embraced as Netzarim liturgy; and all Netzarim are expected to make it their life study to learn and adopt Teimani — Hebrew — liturgy as their own liturgy.

Distinguishing features

The Baladi-rite prayer in its current textual form, at least in its uniqueness as a text that stands in a distinct category of its own and that does not fully conform with any other version, belongs without question to the Babylonian or eastern branch of the prayer ritual variants, a branch whose first clear formulation came through Rabbi Saadia Gaon and his Siddur. By simple comparison with other prayer-rites of other Jewish communities, the Yemenite version shows distinct signs of antiquity, in which, generally-speaking, it is possible to say that it is the version least adulterated of all prayer versions practised in Israel today, including the original Ashkenazi version.[61] In spite of a general trend to accommodate other well-known Jewish traditions (e.g. Sephardic, etc.), the Baladi-rite prayer book has still retained much of its traditional distinguishing features. Among them:

  • In the Baladi-rite tradition, there is no “confession of sins” (Hebrew: וידוי) arranged in alphabetical order, nor is there any confession said immediately prior to saying taḥanūnim (supplications) during nefilat panim following the Standing Prayer. Rather, the custom is to lie upon the floor on one’s left side, cover one’s head in his talith and to say the supplication,Lefanekha ani korea, etc., followed by Avinu malkeinu, avinu attah, etc., excepting Mondays and Thursdays on which days the petitioner will also add other suppliant verses such as, ana a-donai eloheinu, etc., and wehu raḥum yikhaper ‘awon, etc., as are found in the Sephardic prayer books.[62]
  • The version of the Kaddish used in the Baladi-rite is also unique, containing elements not found in the Siddur used by other communities, and is believed to date back in antiquity.
  • In the earlier Baladi-rite prayer books one could not find at the conclusion of the morning, afternoon, and evening prayers the text now widely known as Aleinu le’shebeaḥ (Hebrew: עלינו לשבח), but only in the Mussaf-prayer said on Rosh Hashanah. Unique to Jewish prayer rituals, today, the custom among adherents to the Baladi-rite is to say Aleinu le’shebeaḥ only during the Morning (shaḥrith) and Evening (‍ ’​arvith) prayers, but not in the Afternoon prayer (minḥah).[68][69]
  • The older prayer books also contained formularies of documents (Marriage contracts, bills of divorce, court waiver of rights to payment,[70] legal attestations,[71] etc.) which are lacking in the modern prayer books. Most also contained themodi operandi for Havdallah ceremonies at the conclusion of Sabbath days and festival days, and for establishing symbolic joint ownership of a shared courtyard ( ‘erub), and for separating the dough portion (ḥallah), as well as for the redemption of one’s firstborn son (pidyon haben) and for the ceremony of circumcision. So, too, the Old Baladi-rite prayer books contained a brief overview of the laws governing the making of tassels (tzitzit) worn on garments, and the writing of door-post scripts (mezuzah), inter alia. Most also contained a copious collection of liturgical poems and penitential verse (selichot).
  • The single individual who prays alone and who is unable to join a quorum of at least ten adult men (minyan) follows nearly the same standard format as those who pray among the congregants. However, unlike the congregation, he that prays alone alters the Kaddish by saying in its place what is known as Bĕrīkh shĕmeh deḳuddsha bĕrikh hū le’eilā le’eilā, etc., both, before and after the Standing Prayer.[72][73]
  • The single individual who prays alone does not say the Keddusha (e.g. Qadosh, Qadosh, Qadosh), but rather says, “Keddushath Adonai Tzevo’oth” (Hebrew: קדושת יי’ צבאות), in lieu of the words Qadosh, Qadosh, Qadosh, insofar that the Talmud (Berakhoth 21b) requires a quorum of at least ten adult males to say the Keddusha.[74]

Scroll of Antiochus

(Megillath Benei Ḥashmunnai)

  • One of the more salient features of all the older Baladi-rite prayer books,[75] as well as those compiled by Rabbi Yiḥya Bashiri, is the Aramaic Scroll of Antiyuchas[76] with Saadiah Gaon‘s Arabic translation, the original Aramaic being written by the elders of the Schools of Shammai and Hillel.[77]

Aramaic Scroll of Antiochus written with Babylonian supralinear punctuation, including a Judeo-Arabic translation

Tractate Avoth

According to 16th–17th century Yemenite prayer books, many Yemenites, but not all, recited but only the first chapter of Avoth after the Shabbath Minchah prayer, doing so throughout the entire year.[78] Beginning with the 17th century, external influence[79]—just as with the Shami prayer text—brought about completely changed customs, with the prevalent custom today being to read the entire tractate throughout the Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuoth, a chapter each Shabbath.[80] Rabbi Yosef Shalom Koraḥ was quoted[81] as pointing out that in the synagogues of RabbiYiḥye Qafih and Rabbi Yiḥye al-Abyadh, rather than apportioning the learning for the Sabbaths between Pesaḥ and Atzeret,[82] they would learn the entire tractate withMaimonides‘ commentary during the two days of Shavuoth.[83]

First night of Shavuoth

The old Yemenite siddurim did not mention anything unique about the night ofShavuoth compared to other holidays; the practice relating to the Tikkun came to Yemen only from approximately the second half of the eighteenth century.[84]Furthermore, while in most of the synagogues in Yemen they would learn the “Tikkūn” printed in Machzorim and SefardicSiddurim, in some they would learn the Sefer Hamitzvot compiled by Maimonides, while by Rabbi Yihya Qafih it was learnt in its original Arabic.[84] Even among the Baladi-rite congregations in Sana’a who embraced Kabbalah, they received with some reservation the custom of the kabbalists to recite the “Tikkūn” all throughout the night, and would only recite the “Tikkūn” until about midnight, and then retire to their beds.[85]

Other features peculiar to the Baladi-rite

  • On the night of Passover, the Baladi-rite Siddur requires making four separate blessings over the four cups of wine prior to drinking them, as prescribed by the Geonim and the Jerusalem Talmud.[86]
  • The Yemenite custom is to make a blessing over the hand washing prior to dipping a morsel (karpas) into a liquid, especially during the night of Passover.[87]
  • The blessing over the Hanukkah candles is with the preposition “of” (Heb. של), as in: ברוך אתה יי’ אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר שֶׁלַּחֲנֻכָּה.[88]
  • The Baladi-rite custom requires making the blessing, “to dwell in the Sukkah,” each time one enters his makeshift booth during the seven days of Sukkoth, even though he had not intended to eat a meal there, in accordance with teachings brought down by Rabbi Isaac ibn Ghiyyat (1038–1089)[89] and by Maimonides.[90]
  • The Grace said after meals (Heb. ברכת המזון) shows an old format, lacking the additions added in subsequent generations by other communities.[91] (Open window for text)
  • The “Counting of the Omer” (sefirath ha-ʻomer) between Passover and Shavu’oth is said in Aramaic, rather than in Hebrew. The emissary of the congregation (Shaliach Tzibbur) commences by making one blessing over the counting and fulfills thereby the duty of the entire congregation, although each man makes the counting for himself.[86][94]
  • The textual variant of the third benediction (Ḳeddushah) said in the Mussaf Prayer on Sabbath days shows signs of an early tradition, believed to antedate the version used by other communities (both, Ashkenaz and Sepharad), insofar that the original version was said without mentioning Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad.[95]
  • The Evening Prayer (ʻArvith) on weekdays is unique in that, in the second blessing said after Ḳiryat Shema, there is an extension enacted by the Geonim, now abandoned by most other communities.[102] (Open window for text)
  • The third blessing of the Amidah retains the same form throughout the Ten Days of Repentance, even on weekdays, with the addition of ובכן.
  • In Yemenite public service (both, Baladi and Shami), the pesukei dezimra of the Morning Prayer is chanted in unison by the whole sitting congregation, unlike other communities where only one person, usually the Shaliach Tzibbur (precentor), recites it aloud.[104] The same rule applies to the recital of the Qiryath Shema.[105]
  • In Yemenite public service (both, Baladi and Shami), only one person says the Kaddish at any given time, but never two or more simultaneously. Moreover, in every Kaddish the words וְיִמְלוֹךְ מַלְכוּתֵיהּ וְיַצְמַח פּוּרְקָנֵיהּ וִיקָרֵב מְשִׁיחֵיהּ וְיִפְרוֹק עַמֵּיהּ are incorporated. The yod in the word וימלוך is vocalized with a ḥiraq, and the lamad with a ḥolam.[106]
  • The custom of the Baladi-rite is to answer “Amen” at the conclusion of the benediction known as Yotzer in the Morning Prayer, as also to answer “Amen” during the Evening Prayer at the conclusion of the benediction, Ma’ariv ‘Aravim.[107]
  • The Cohenim do not have a custom to wash their hands prior to their standing up to bless the congregation.[108]
  • The Baladi-rite custom, on any given Monday or Thursday, as well as on Rosh Ḥodesh (New Moon), is to return the Scroll of the Law (Torah) to the ark after reading it in the synagogue, before the congregation recites Ashrei yoshəvei vethəkha, ‘odh yehallelukha seloh, etc. (אשרי יושבי ביתך עוד יהללוך סלה). This rule, however, does not apply to Sabbath days and Festival days.[109]
  • The Yemenite custom (both, Baladi and Shami) when reciting the Hallel is that the congregation attentively listens to theShaliach Tzibbur reading without repeating the words of the Hallel, but only cites the word “Hallelujah,” in a repetitious manner, after each verse. “Hallelujah” is repeated 123 times, like the number of years attained by Aaron the High Priest. The congregation will, however, repeat after the Shaliach Tzibbur only a few selected verses from the Hallel, considered as lead verses.[110]

Selections from siddur

The ‘Standing Prayer’ known as the Eighteen Benedictions, or Amidah, as prescribed in the Yemenite Baladi-rite tradition, and which is recited three times a day during weekdays, is here shown (with an English translation):[111]

Nishmath Kol Hai is recited on the Sabbath day, and dates back to the 1st century CE:.


kashrut supervision?

Question: Is it halachically permissible to drink brandy, cognac, or champagne produced without kashrut supervision?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained the law that our Sages imposed a prohibition on a non-Jew’s wine and usually, the wine is not only forbidden to consume, it is likewise forbidden to benefit from.

Regarding the above question, clearly, champagne is absolutely forbidden for consumption if it was not produced under the supervision of a respected kashrut organization, for champagne is actual wine and although it has not completed its fermentation process in its barrel and it is for this reason that it is bubbly in the bottle, nevertheless, it is wine for all intents and purposes whose blessing is “Boreh Peri Ha’Gefen.” Thus, without an adequate kashrut symbol, it is completely forbidden for consumption.

Regarding cognac, let us first quote the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 123) regarding a similar matter:

Aguardiente (an alcoholic beverage which the Poskim compare to cognac) made from non-Jewish wine is forbidden even to benefit from just like actual wine.” The Rama adds: “Although an alcoholic beverage made from non-Jewish libation wine is merely a secretion (byproduct) of the wine, it is prohibited like the forbidden wine itself.”

This means that even an alcoholic beverage produced by boiling wine and using the vapors and steam to produce the beverage is forbidden for consumption and to benefit from if it is produced from non-Jewish wine.

On the other hand, the Sefer Otzar Ha’Michtavim (authored by Hagaon Harav Yosef Mesas zt”l, late Chief Rabbi of Haifa and cousin of Hagaon Harav Shalom Mesas zt”l) supports those who are customarily lenient in this regard, for the Rama’s words “made from non-Jewish libation wine” imply that this prohibition applies only to beverages made from wine that was actually offered as a libation to idols; however, regular non-Jewish wine that is unknown to have been offered as idol worship is not as stringent and does not prohibit a byproduct produced from it. Since it is fairly uncommon nowadays for non-Jews to offer wine to their deities, he rules that nowadays it is permissible to consume alcoholic beverages produced from a byproduct of non-Jewish wine, including cognac.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l vehemently disagreed with this opinion since the source for the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch is the Rivash who writes specifically that this law applies to all non-Jewish wine (even wine that is unknown to have been offered to idols), for since our Sages prohibited this wine, they likewise forbade any other alcoholic beverage produced from it. Maran zt”l therefore rules that it is forbidden to drink any beverages that are produced as a byproduct of wine if it does not bear a respectable kashrut symbol.

We must add that all of the above applies only to alcoholic beverages produced from the vapors of wine (such as “Arak” and the like). However, cognac (commonly referred to by its proper name, “Brandy”) is not produced from wine vapors at all such that it would be possible to even begin discussing a leniency in this regard. Rather, cognac is actual wine distilled by cooking it for a long period of time after which it is aged until it reaches the desired taste; however, it retains the law of actual wine regarding the laws of non-Jewish wine. (Indeed, this beverage was discovered in the following way: The people of the French city of Cognac would export wine to England. The English later requested that they distill the wine by evaporating much of its liquid in order to lessen its weight so that they would not have to pay such high taxes when it entered England. Once it had entered England, the locals would add water and sell it as wine. Eventually, a war erupted between the countries and a large amount of distilled wine remained in France. They placed it in wooden barrels and several years later when they tasted it, they realized it had a superb taste. This beverage was named after the city it was produced in, “Cognac.”) Thus, there is certainly room for leniency regarding this beverage and one should point this out to those who act leniently for various incorrect reasons.

Operating Vending Machines and Websites on Shabbat

Question: May one place an automatic snack or soda machine in a non-Jewish neighborhood on Erev Shabbat even if one is certain that the residents of this neighborhood will put money into the machine in order to purchase an items on Shabbat or is this forbidden?

Answer: We have already explained above, that in terms of leaving a machine on before the onset of Shabbat, there is no prohibition to do so, for the individual is not performing any forbidden work on Shabbat itself. It seems that the same law should apply to turning on automatic vending machines on Erev Shabbat although non-Jews (who are not obligated to observe Shabbat) will come and purchase merchandise from these machines on Shabbat.

However, there is another prohibition which may apply to such vending machines which may cause the owner of these machines to transgress a prohibition on Shabbat. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 200, Section 3) states: “An individual’s vessels acquire [any object] for him anywhere one has permission to leave them; as soon as any object enters one’s vessels, one has acquired them completely.” For instance, if an ownerless object falls into one’s vessel in a place where the owner of the vessel has permission to leave it, this object immediately belongs to the owner of the vessel, for one’s vessels are like his hands in that one will acquire anything that comes within them. It seems that this idea should apply here as well, for since the automatic vending machine belongs to its owner and one it stands in the street because one has a permit from the local municipality to place it there, any money inserted into the machine immediately belongs to the owner of the vending machine and this constitutes the prohibition of conducting monetary transactions on Shabbat.

Nevertheless, even with regards to this issue, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that this does not constitute the prohibition of performing monetary transactions on Shabbat, for the owner of the vending machine is not actually performing any action. On the other hand, Maran zt”l writes that there is only room for leniency in this regard when people are not aware whom this machine belongs to, for if everyone knows that this machine belongs to a Jew, there is no longer room for leniency. Indeed the Maharam Schick deals with a similar issue where Jews participated in a public bid on Erev Shabbat and many times, the non-Jewish judges deliberated on Shabbat who should win the tender. Several times, Jews would be granted the tender on Shabbat. The Maharam Schick writes that it seems to him that this is completely permissible, for one may begin any biblically-forbidden work before the onset of Shabbat as long as the forbidden work will conclude on its own. The same would seem to apply here in that it is permissible to leave these machines to operate in order for non-Jews to purchase items from these vending machines on Shabbat. Nevertheless, if one wishes to be concerned with the more stringent opinions, one may specifically stipulate that he only wishes to acquire whatever money is inserted into the machine on Shabbat after Shabbat has concluded, for one’s vessels cannot acquire objects for him against his will. Since one specifically stipulates that he does not wish to acquire the money until Motza’ei Shabbat, this is certainly permissible, for the transaction will only be complete after the conclusion of Shabbat.

It seems that it is likewise permissible to allow websites where one sells merchandise to continue to operate on Shabbat as long the owner of the website is unknown and the customers making the purchase on Shabbat are non-Jews, for the Jewish owner is not performing any form of forbidden work on Shabbat. Nevertheless, one should not draw an analogy from this to all other situations, for there are many details involved here and one must consult a competent halachic authority regarding each individual scenario.

Summary: According to the letter of the law, one may place an automatic vending machine in a non-Jewish neighborhood before Shabbat when the public is unaware whom the machine belongs to. If one wishes to act stringently, one should stipulate before Shabbat that one wishes to acquire the money inserted into the machine, hence completing the transaction, until Shabbat has concluded. Similarly, one may allow a website with merchandise for sale to continue to operate on Shabbat provided the owner of the website is unknown, the customers are non-Jewish, and the website requires no maintenance on Shabbat.

As a side note, we have asked Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”lregarding our very own website, “Halacha Yomit,” that many times, unfortunately, we receive requests for subscriptions to receive the “Halacha Yomit” by email on Shabbat itself. The question was whether or not to honor these requests, for this will cause the individual who desecrated Shabbat by sending the subscription request to benefit directly from this Shabbat desecration by receiving the daily Halachot. On the other hand, if we were to ignore these requests, these individuals would lose the merit of Torah study that they may have enjoyed, were we to honor their request. Maran zt”l instructed us not to ignore these requests and send Halachot to these individuals with the hope that the light of the Torah would help them return to the correct path and to observe the holy Shabbat properly. In this merit, may we all merit greeting our righteous Mashiach, speedily and in our days, Amen.


Inheritance of father’s tribe

Numbers 36:5-9

Num 36:5 And Moses commanded Mosheh misvahed
the children sons of Israel Yisra El
according to the word mouth of the LORD Yah Veh ,
The tribe rod of the sons of Joseph Yoseph
hath said worded well .

Num 36:6 This is the thing word
which the LORD doth command Yah Veh misvaheth
concerning the daughters of Zelophehad Seloph Had ,
saying, Let them marry be women
to whom they think best of whom is good in their eyes ;
only to the family of the tribe rod of their father
shall they marry be women .

Num 36:7 So Thus shall not the inheritance
of the children sons of Israel Yisra El
remove turn around from tribe rod to tribe rod :
for every one man of the children sons of Israel Yisra El
shall keep himself adhere to the inheritance
of the tribe rod of his fathers.

Num 36:8 And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance
in any tribe rod of the children sons of Israel Yisra El ,
shall be wife woman unto one of the family
of the tribe rod of her father,
that the children sons of Israel Yisra El
may enjoy possess every man
the inheritance of his fathers.

Num 36:9 Neither shall the inheritance remove turn around
from one tribe to another tribe rod to rod ;
but every one man of the tribes rods
of the children sons of Israel Yisra El
shall keep himself adhere to his own inheritance.

Moses declared that what they had affirmed was right (כֵּן), and then, by command of Hashem, he told the daughters of Zelophehad that they might marry whoever pleased them (the suffix ־הֶם, attached to בְּעֵינֵי, for ־הֶן, as in Exo_1:21; Gen_31:9, etc.), but that he must belong to the family of their father’s tribe, that is to say, must be a Manassite. For (Num_36:7) the inheritance was not to turn away the Israelites from one tribe to another (not to be transferred from one to another), but every Israelite was to keep to the inheritance of his father’s tribe, and no one was to enter upon the possession of another tribe by marrying an heiress belonging to that tribe. This is afterwards extended, in Num_36:8 and Num_36:9, into a general law for every heiress in Israel.

Shulchan Aruch

A Jew must not ask a non-Jew to do work for him on the Sabbath; see 247:4-5 and 252:2. However, a Jew is allowed to hire a non-Jew to do work or business for him as long as he does not specify that it be done on the Sabbath (245:5;247:1;252:2;307:2-4) and does not benefit from it being done then (see 244:5;247:1,6), provided the work is not done on the Jew’s premises and it is not known that it is being done for him (252:2-3), and provided the payment was specified in advance or the work was given to the non-Jew before Friday (see 247:2-3;252:2).

A non-Jew may be told to do things on the Sabbath that are only rabbinically forbidden to Jews, provided sickness, or great need, or religious purposes are involved; see 306:11 and 307:5,19. A Jew must not even hint that a non-Jew should do work for a Jew on the Sabbath, except in an emergency (334:26), but it is permitted to hint that he should do such work after the Sabbath (307:22). A Jew’s converted slave is forbidden to do work on the Sabbath even for himself; if he has not converted, he may do work for himself, provided it is evident that he is not doing it for his owner (see 304:1-3;307:21).

A non-Jew may do work on the Sabbath on property (or financial rights; see 244:6) that he is known to have leased from a Jew, even if the Jew benefits from it (243:1-2). He may do work on a Jew’s property as a contractor in a place where no Jews are present or if it is not known that the property belongs to a Jew (244:1-2,4). If the non-Jew does forbidden work without the Jew’s permission, the Jew should not benefit from the results (see 244:3;245:6;304:1;305:21-23).

Equipment that is used for work should not be lent to a non-Jew on (or immediately before) the Sabbath, and should not be rented to a non-Jew even on Friday (246:1-2). If such equipment is rented to a non-Jew, the Sabbath portion of the rent should not be itemized (246:1). An animal that is used for work must not be lent or rented to a non-Jew unless it is specified that it be returned for the Sabbath (246:3) or unless the non-Jew is made fully responsible for it (see 246:4-5). Other things, however, may be given to a non-Jew even on the Sabbath if it is not certain that he will carry them away (see 252:1; 306:10;307:4;325:1,3) or if it is necessary to give them to him (see 325:2).

If a Jew and a non-Jew are partners in an enterprise that operates on the Sabbath, the Jew should stipulate that the income earned on the Sabbath belongs entirely to the non-Jew; but even if this was not done, the Jew is allowed to take his share of the total income as long as the portion earned on the Sabbath is not itemized (245:1-4;246:5).

A Jew may take goods from a non-Jew on the Sabbath, use them, and pay for them afterward, but must not discuss their price on the Sabbath (252:4; 307:22). If work was done for him by a non-Jew, he must not benefit from it until a sufficient amount of time after the Sabbath (see 276:1-5;307:20; 325:4,6,10-14), but he may use goods that are brought to him even if the non-Jew worked on them on the Sabbath (see 252:4). On things brought by a non-Jew from outside the Sabbath boundary see 325:8,15; on cases of doubt see 325:5-7,9,16; on work that was done on behalf of a sick person see 306:9 and 318:2.