Friday, February 02, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 25 - Switching from Ashkenaz to Sfard

In the teshuvos from the Divrei Chaim (O”C 2:8), he inquires if one is allowed to switch his Nusach Hatefillah from Ashkenaz to Sfard.

The Chasam Sofer (O”C 15) writes that Nusach Sfard contains kavanos according to kabbalah which were established and partially revealed by the Arizal. The Chasam Sofer had a tradition from his Rabbeim, Reb Nosson Adler and the Haflo’ah that Nusach Ashkenaz contains kavanos according to kabbalah as well. All the kavanos contained in Nusach Sfard can also be found in Nusach Ashkenaz and both nuschaos ascent to the same place. Nusach Hatefillah can be analogous to prophecy. Thee identical prophecy can be given to two prophets but they will not be able to say it over in the identical manner. The Arizal, because he davened Sfard, incorporated all of the kavanos in their proper location because he understood the essence of the kavanos and the tefillos. If the Arizal would have davened Ashkenaz, he could have established Nusach Ashkenaz according to the precise understanding of kabbalah. According to this, one would be required to daven in the Nusach that he has accepted from his father because it is with this approach that will enable his tefillos to reach their designated place.

The Divrei Chaim quotes Mekubalim who explain the Nusach Hatefillah in a different manner. Reb Chaim Vital says in the name of the Arizal that there are twelve gates in the Heavens corresponding to the twelve tribes and each tribe has a designated entrance for their tefillos. Each gate and their approach are different than the others. It emerges that each of the tribes had their own specific Nusach Hatefillah. It is therefore incumbent on everyone to keep their particular Nusach and not switch to another since perhaps you are from one tribe and now will be davening the Nusach of another tribe. The Arizal established a Nusach that is corresponding to all twelve of the tribes. If someone does not recognize the tribe that he is from, he can daven using the Nusach Ha’Arizal and the tefillah will be accepted. Therefore, the Divrei Chaim rules that unless one is positive that he is from a specific tribe, he may switch from Nusach Ashkenaz to Nusach Sfard and it will be preferable for him to daven using the Nusach of the Arizal.

The Chasam Sofer (O”C 16) writes this concept in the name of the Maggid MiMezritz. He explains that in fact, there are thirteen gates in Heaven for our tefillos to pass through. Each gate is for one of the tribes and everyone’s tefillah can pass through the thirteenth gate. Someone who doesn’t know from which shevet he is from should therefore daven Nusach Sfard, which will pass through the thirteenth gate.

The Chasam Sofer asks on this from our Gemora. The Gemora relates an incident that Rabbi Eliezer recited the twenty-four benedictions at prayer, but he was not answered. Rabbi Akiva followed him at the reading-desk, and said: "Father and King! We have no other king but You. Only for Your sake have mercy upon us!" And his prayer was answered. The people then began to murmur (and say that Rabbi Akiva was a greater man than Rabbi Eliezer). A Heavenly voice went forth and said: It is not because Rabbi Akiva is a greater man than Rabbi. Eliezer that his prayer answered, but rather because he is forgiving, while Rabbi Eliezer is not."

It is known that Rabbi Eliezer was a Levi and according to the Arizal would be davening in the Nusach which was designated for Shevet Levi. Rabbi Akiva was a convert so he obviously was davening Nusach Sfard. How could Rabbi Akiva discharge the obligation of the entire congregation if he davened a different Nusach? This is the Chasam Sofer’s question on the explanation from the Maggid.

The Divrei Chaim disagrees with the Chasam Sofer’s question for several reasons. Firstly, he says, that it seems that the Chasam Sofer’s intent is to disagree with the explanation from the Maggid. This is a wonder indeed when it has been well established that this is the Arizal’s viewpoint and the Arizal has been well accepted amongst all the Gedolei Haposkim. The Divrei Chaim lists the Beis Yosef, Rama (not the Ramah),Alshich, Taz, Shach and Magen Avraham. He lists later Acharonim as well, such as the Chacham Tzvi, Pnei Yehoshua and Tevuos Shor who all trembled ffrom the Arizal’s words. The Chasam Sofer’s question is not on the Maggid but on the Arizal.

Secondly, he asks, the main distinction between Nusach Ashkenaz and Nusach Sfard is in Pesukei D’Zimra and not in the Shemoneh Esrei. There was no need for someone to discharge the obligation for the others in Pesukei D’Zimra. The differences in Shemoneh Esrei are not in the endings of the brochos; in the middle of the brochos there are some changes in the wording but that will not be an obstacle in the chazzan discharging the obligation for others.

Thirdly, where does it state in the Gemora that Rabbi Akiva was discharging their obligation? In the tefillos that are recited every day, each person davens by himself and fulfills his own obligation.

He asks other questions on the Chasam Sofer and concludes that one is permitted to switch from Nusach Ashkenaz to Nusach Sfard. (Peninei Halacha)


Anonymous said...

I believe that there are Tshuvos from R' Moshe ZT"L that deal with the same topic. Don't remember exact location but may be of further interest.

I also heard that one may switch from Ashkenaz to Sefard, but not the reverse based on the topics discussed of the various Kavanos incorporated. However, the "Sfard" that has become common place is probably not the "sfard" that the Divrei Chaim was talking about. He was referring to "Sfard" based on the "Arizal" and not Artscrollized. (Simple examples include -Kee Kail Melech--in Ata Kadosh...etc....Great topic!

yaak said...

Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a talks about this and brings a proof from Rav Nosson Adler that one may switch to Sepharadi/Edot Hamizrah Nussah.

Avromi said...

Do you know what the proof is?

yaak said...

See here

Avromi said...

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Take a look at Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim Part 2, Siman 24, in which Rav Moshe wrote, first, that what is known todat as "Nusach Sfard" is not the Rambam's authentic Nusach, second, that the claim that Nusach Sfard is the "universal" nusach to use if you do not know your origin has been debunked and third, that one from a Chassidishe family is allowed to switch to Nusach Ashkenaz because Ashkenaz is the family's true ancestral nusach from before they became Chassidim and adopted the newly created Chassidishe nusach.

Anonymous said...

I have heard (but I have not seen the teshuvos) that others (Rav Hutner, perhaps?) paskened that it is impermissible for someone from a Misnagdishe family to switch from Ashkenaz to Sfard because it is a safek whether it is permissible to switch from minhag avos, but that it is permissible for someone from a Chassidishe family to switch to Ashkenaz because either the safek is resolved lekula, in which case there is no prohibiiton at all, or the safek is resolved lechumra, in which case the alter-zeide never should have switched from Ashkenaz when Chassidus started.