season is the concept of unity. During the Aseret Yimei Teshuva,
penitential days, we beseech God to make us into Agudah Achat, a single
united group. Similarly, the Midrash notes the unity among the different
types of Jews represented by each of the four species carried throughout
the Sukkot holiday.
Shmini Atzeret portrays an even greater sense of unification among
the nation. In contrast to the seventy oxen brought as Korbanot offerings
in the temple during the Sukkot holiday, only one was brought on Shmini
Atzeret. Rashi explains that this lone bull was representative of the
Jewish people and the day, as one of farewell between the nation and their
God who declares Kasheh Alai Preidatchem, that the departure of the people
is difficult for him. Yet, we never depart from God or his presence. Why
then is God so disturbed on Shimini Ateret?
Many commentaries (Sfas Emes, Shem MiShmuel) observe that the word
Preidatchem does not refer to the departure of Jew from God's presence.
Rather, it refers to the parting and divisiveness between the Jews
themselves. The lack of unity upsets God. The single offering of Shmini
Atzeret was not only a fitting way to take leave of Hashem but to give the
nation a lesson with which to depart. In the same manner that we are aware
of our status as one nation under God indivisible while in his home, we
must remain indivisible even after returning to our own.
Shimini Atzeret also is a time of personal reflection. It is a day
of Yizkor and commemoration. But for many, the Yizkor time is a period of
break. This week's Chaburah examines the Yizkor practice and is entitled:
Stepping out: Kasheh Alai Preidascheim??
The Michaber (O.C. 621:6) notes a custom to give Tzeddaka for the
merit of the departed, on Yom Kippur. The Beis yosef cites a Mordechai
(Yoma 727) who cites a source for this practice from the famous case of
Eglah Arufa where the elders of the city ask God to "Kaper l'Amcha Asher
Padisa - to forgive the nation that you redeemed". The Mordechai explains
that the double phrase Amecha Asher Padisa refers to the living and the
dead. The Talmud (Horiyot 6a) deduces that even the departed need Kappara.
The Rema adds a practice of not only offering charity on their behalf but
also praying for the departed on this special occasion.
The difference between Michaber and Rema has resulted in different
Yizkor practices today between Sefardim and Ashkenazim. Sefardim recite a
Yizkor-like prayer known as Ashkava, but once a year on Yom Kippur night.
Ashkenazim recite Yizkor before Musaf on Yom Kippur and on the last day of
each of the Shalosh regalim. The Levush (O.C. 490:9) explains that on the
last day in the exile we always read the section of Ish K'matanat Yado."
In Israel, the practice is to recite Yizkor on the last day of the holiday
as well. There, they do not read the same section of the Torah. Still,
Yizkor is recited on that day as it is a day of Rachamim (Kav Hayashar,
86) based on the great miracles of Omdim Tzifufin U'mishtachavin Rivachim.
Since that period is about to end, and the souls that joined together for
the holiday will be returning to their proper locations, we recite Yizkor
on these days even in Eretz Yisrael (See Shut Divrei Chaver Ben Chaim
cited in Yalkut Gershuni to O.C. 621:2; Shut Tzitz Eliezer XII:39). Either
way, Yizkor is recited on the last day of Yom Tov (Gesher HaChaim ,31).
However, the practice of those not reciting Yizkor who leave seems
to be odd. The only parallel we have for portions of the congregation
walking out, is when Kohanim must leave when they do not ascend the Duchan
with their friends or when they leave for a Yisrael to receive the first
Aliya (Rema O.C. 135:5, & Mishna Berura; See also Techumin vol. 17). Where
do we find a Minhag for large portions of a congregation's departure from
Rav Efraim Zalman Margolies (Shaarei Ephraim 10:32) suggested that
perhaps the practice was instituted in order to not have some saying
Yizkor while others were silent. Chazal seemed to feel trhat any instance
where some are praying and others are silent, this was not a good sign for
the community (See Berachos 20b).
The Gesher HaChaim (31:7) suggested that such silence in the
community, in such large numbers would appear as if the community were
splitting within itself (Agudos Agudos). This would indeed not be true as
the community will rejoin itself in unity after Yizkor. However, the mere
appearance of a split does not bode well for the community and thus, it
was not to be demonstrated through long silences by large sections of the
Pischei Shaarim was concerned for an Ayin Hara. One whose parents
are still alive might induce the ire of others who are remembering their
loved ones when he makes his own requests as they recall theirs. The
author utilizes an example of Rav Papa and Abaye (Yevamos 106a) to
demonstrate that indeed, this is a concern.
Tosefet Chaim (commentary to Chayeii Adam, Hil. Shabbos end of
Klal 7) explains that a further concern raised by remaining in the room is
a fear that the person might recite Yizkor. This would be a bad sign as it
is "Bris Kerusa l'Sifatayim" and should not be done. Tzitz Eliezer (ibid)
adds that the congregational Yizkor will ruin the festive nature of
Simchat Yom Tov. Thus those who are supposed to recite it, are able to do
so for closure. However, those who do not need closure, should not recite
Yizkor, lest the dampening effect of Yizkor violate the festivities of Yom
Tov. Otzar Dinim U'Minhagim Yeshurun (Breuer's ) adds that the crying and
sadness of Yizkor could ruin others concentration if it were to be fully
congregational. He also adds that if it were not to be recited by all, it
might be perceived as an invitation to talk in Shul and that too, must be
fully halted as a practice.
In the end, the Tzitz Eliezer is not proud of the Minhag of having
sections of the community leave during Tefilla. Still, he shudders at the
change in Minhag. He feels that those who must leave, should rejoin for
the Azkarot for communal tragedies such as the Shoah and the victims of
Israeli wars (and potentially terror victims). He cites the public Av
HaRachamim as the source for this practice. Bela Maves L'netzach U'macha
Hashem Elokim Dimah Me'Al Kol Panim.
Shabbat Shalom V'Chag Sameach