Sunday, July 27, 2014

KAJ burial area in Clifton, NJ

KAJ burial area in Clifton, NJ

R' Breuer's Tombstone

R' Schwab's Tombstone

Innocent Blood

"The land of the Law of God exists for the sake of human beings. Its most precious product, the purpose and goal of all the blessings bestowed upon it by God is every human soul that it nurtures and thus consecrates for the realization of God's law. The land is given to all the people only under the condition that they will regard every human life, which is sacred to the Law, as sacred and inviolable. Even one drop of innocent blood spilled unnoticed will drop a stitch form the bond that binds the land to the nation and both the land and the nation to God."

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, Bamidbar 35:10, parshas Masse

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Washing One’s Hands Before Or After Kiddush by Raphael Grunfeld son of Dayan Grunfeld

Linked post from the Jewish Press:

"If you eat mayonnaise with everything, or you attended Breuers, or you wash your hands before Kiddush, you are probably of German Jewish descent. The first two inferences are understandable. Where does the third one come from?

The Talmud quotes the following passage of Rav Bruna in the name of Rav: “One who washes his hands for bread before reciting Kiddush on Friday night should not recite Kiddush himself, but should rather fulfill his Kiddush obligation by having someone else recite Kiddush for him.” The reason for Rav Bruna’s ruling, as explained by the Rashbam, is that there should be no interruption between washing one’s hands – netilat yadayim – and eating bread."


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Letter from R Hildesheimer in English from On the Main Line blog

This is a find from the On the Main Line history blog. I don't know how to describe why but there's something really neat about this. Perhaps, it's because I'm so used to reading Rav Hirsch in translation, to read something from one of his peers written originally in English feels very immediate.

"This is an interesting piece that I found on the Isaac Leeser digital archive (link), a handwritten letter from Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer to the Occident, dated 26 Adar 5625. The letter asks Leeser to print an English version of an account on behalf of the "Central Committee for Building Dwellings for the Poor and Pilgrims in Jerusalem," of which Rabbi Hildesheimer was a member, along with Rabbis Jacob Ettlinger of Altona and Joseph Hirsch of Halberstadt."  continue

"Eisenstadt 26 Adar 5625.
Since the great interest which you have always shown for the
wellfare (sic) of our brethren in all countries and particularly the unfor-
tunate Jews of the Holy Land is known to me I have the liberty to
send you the enclosed statutes etc of the dwellings which we are arecting (sic) on the holy ground and pray you to give insertion to it in your esteemed
journal in at possible great parties.
I have the honour to sign

your humble
Dr. Hildesheimer

Monday, July 21, 2014

Learning good manners

"The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any."

Fred Astaire

Thursday, July 17, 2014

R' David Tevele Schiff, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom

"Chief Rabbi David Tevele Schiff (Hebrew: דוד טעבלי שיף‎; died December 17, 1791) was the chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and the rabbi of the Great Synagogue of London from 1765 until his death.

He was son of Solomon Schiff, member of a famous and learned family from Frankfurt am Main. His mother was Roesche, daughter of the quarrelsome Reb Aberle London. Tevele Schiff was educated in the schools of Rabbis Jacob Poper and Jacob Joshua Falk. He served as maggid in Vienna. He also was head of the Beth Midrash in Worms, and later dayan in Frankfurt.

After Hart Lyon left London in 1764 it was agreed that his successor should be appointed and maintained by the Great Synagogue and the Hambro' Synagogue jointly. However, they could not agree on a single name. The Great Synagogue appointed Rabbi Schiff on February 24, 1765, while the Hambro' Synagogue appointed Rabbi Israel Meshullam Zalman (who became known in England as Meshullam Solomon)."


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

More on Washing Before Kiddush

Linked post from

"In the old days, there was a very widespread custom that was stamped out by leading rabbis who felt that it did not sufficiently conform to the Talmud. This despite explicit approval of the practice by scholars of the highest tier.

No, I am not referring to any example of the so-called Haredization of the Jewish community in the twentieth century. I am talking about a development in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the practice is washing one's hands (with a blessing) prior to reciting kiddush over wine and then proceeding directly to reciting a blessing over the hallah.

The Talmud (Pesahim 106b) records a view that one who washes his hands may not recite kiddush, presumably because the kiddush is an interruption between the washing and reciting the blessing over the hallah. Another view is then presented that if one wishes, one may recite kiddush over hallah rather than wine and, presumably, wash one's hands before the kiddush. The simple understanding of this passage is that one may not wash before kiddush unless one is reciting kiddush over the hallah."


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Breuer yeshiva in Frankfurt am Main

Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
Courtesy of Jacob G. Wiener
Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

More on Washing Before Kiddush

Linked post from

Washing Before or After Kiddush?

"After I published this to the web, I found a more elaborate (and scholarly) discussion of the topic on - similar conclusions, though the directions bringing us there are very different.

Having eaten at the homes of a number of "Yekkes" on shabbos, my wife and I have always admired the German custom to wash before the Kiddush, to allow for Kiddush to flow straight into the Hamotzi and the eating of bread. "Typical yekkes, find a way to be efficient in these meals by cutting corners." It's true. How many people finally figure out where everyone is going to sit, only to have everyone get up again to wash for the bread? A little bit of frustration is easily removed through there being only one "general seating."

I hadn't looked up the law in a while, so I opened up the Shulchan Arukh to find this [I left the notes that link to the comments I record below in bold, underlined]:
שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות שבת סימן רעא"   continue