Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tearing "K'ri'ah" At the Kotel

Disclaimer: As in all halachik discussions, what appears below is not meant as ruling, but as discussion only. Please discuss any practical applications with an orthodox rabbi.

The Talmud (מו"ק כו:א) discusses the commandment of rending one's clothing in three distinct situations: the first is when learning of a relative's (or, under specific circumstances, even non-relatives) death. This is a commonly known law. However, less known is the law to 2) tear "קריעה" (rending) upon various pieces of bad news. An additional category of קריעה is 3) upon the desolate cities of Judea, and the remains of the Temple:

"אמר ר' אלעזר: הרואה ערי יהודה בחורבנן אומר ערי קדשך היו מדבר וקורע. ירושלים בחורבנה, אומר ציון מדבר היתה ירושלים שממה וקורע. בית המקדש בחורבנו, אומר בית קדשינו ותפארתינו אשר הללוך אבותינו היה לשריפת אש וכל מחמדינו היה לחרבה וקורע."

Cities that are under Jewish control would no longer be subject to this law (see שו"ע או"ח תקס"א -- it seems הכל תלוי בשלטון) -- such that we would no longer tear קריעה on Jerusalem, but we would on Bethlehem which, while given to us in the Six Day War by God, was handed over to our enemies by our own government later on. However, even while under Jewish sovereignty, the Temple Mount would still be subject to קריעה, as the tragedy is not so much its control by others, as its desolation and absence of the בית המקדש.

Codified by the Shulchan Aruch (יו"ד ש"מ ל"ח-ל"ט), the law is that one who visits the Temple Mount after longer than 30 days of absence tears his garment. (If one finds this law difficult to observe, he can give his shirt to a friend as a gift, and even while he still wears it, would be exempt from tearing it, since one may not tear a shirt owned by another. This gift must be true, and Rabbi Eliezer Melamed comments that one should at least tear a shirt over the desolation of the Temple Mount once in his life.)

The question that came up yesterday was, what if a person visits the Kotel for the first time in 30 days on חול המועד? On the Sabbath or full-fledged holiday, it is clear that קריעה is not done (שו"ע סע' ל"א). What of חול המועד?

As with the other two categories of קריעה, this would be subject to a rishonic dispute. According to the Mordechai and Ramban, one would tear as usual during חול המועד, but according to the T'rumat Hadeshen, one would refrain, as one does on a full-fledged holiday, unless the קריעה is on parents. The Shulchan Aruch declares that one would tear on חול המועד. The Rema rules as the T'rumat Hadeshen, and yet, in a place with no standard tradition, he rules as the Shulchan Aruch.

It would seem from this that the S'faradim would tear on Chol Hamoed, while the Ashkenazim would refrain. However, Rabbi Melamed mentions that in general, the מנהג is that on Chol Hamoed, one does not tear. (This combined with the especially festive atmosphere at the Kotel during Chol Hamoed make it seem particularly out of place for a person to tear קריעה in front of others at a time when even the laws of אבילות are only observed in private.)

The question that remains is, if one arrived at the Kotel on חול המועד and therefore did not tear, but then re-visits within 30 days, after the holiday, would he be required to tear since he did not fulfill his obligation on the holiday? Is the obligation to tear one that is simply נדחה, pushed off, during the holiday, and re-devolves upon a person immediately afterwards (as is the case in tearing over a death), or is the nature of the obligation different?

The answer can be inferred from the מגן אברהם in או"ח סי' תקס"א, where the law of tearing for the Temple is discussed again. He deals with a case where a person was raised in Jerusalem. As a child, he does not have a requirement to tear. However, upon reaching the age of Bar Mitzvah, although he has an obligation to tear, he is not in a position to tear, since he has seen the Temple area within thirty days! Such a person would never be required to tear, unless he were to leave Jerusalem for longer than thirty days. The ערוך השולחן rules so, as well.

It seems clear from this discussion that the requirement to tear is fundamentally one which requires the "newness" of not having seen the Temple area for thirty days. Only if this requirement is fulfilled would one tear. If one has seen the Temple Mount during a time of פטור, when he is younger than thirteen, it seems clear that he has nonetheless seen the area and is thus no longer obligated in tearing קריעה. Tearing over the Temple Mount is fundamentally different in its parameters from tearing over a dead relative.

It seems to me that this reasoning applies in completely the same way to seeing the Kotel on חול המועד. Thus, one who sees the Kotel on חול המועד and then returns to the site afterwards, would not tear on חול המועד, and would also not tear after the holiday, until having been absent from the Temple area for longer than thirty days. (I was pleased to see that Rabbi Melamed comes to the same conclusion as I do.)

May God help us rebuild his Holy Temple quickly. May these laws become theoretical discussions, and no longer practical, with the pilgrimage of the nation to the בית המקדש.

Again, the above is not meant as ruling, but as discussion only. Please discuss any practical applications with an orthodox rabbi.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Basics of Music

Apropos of not much, here is an outline sketch of what is colloquially called "Classical Music":

Early Period: Voice, Gregorian chant, Choral church music. until about 1400.

Medieval Period: More instrumentation, Renaissance period -- introduction of bass instruments and musical transcription. 1400 - 1600.

Common Practice Period:

Baroque Period: 1600 - 18th C. Continuous bass line, use of counterpoint (independent musical voices enunciated together that are harmonically interrelated), distinction of maj/minor motifs. More ensemble, chamber music. eg Bach, Handel.

Classical Period: 18th C - 1820's. Symphonies. More order to music, use of single reed instruments. eg. WA Mozart, Haydn.

Romantic Period: 1820 - 1910. Nationalist (eg Wagner, Dvorak). Less order, even as orchestras began forming for classical period music. Nocturnes, preludes -- free-form. Piano in present form. Romantic, emotional motives and themes. Grand opera. Eg. Beethoven (really straddles Classical and Romantic), Shubert.