Monday, May 26, 2008

Deal Softly with the Community! A Commentary on Current Practice.

Here is a responsa from Rabbi Shimon ben Tzemach Duran (Born 1361) who was Rav in Algiers written to the community of Tenes. Ténès (orتنس in Arabic) is an Algerian seaside resort located about 200 kilometers west of the capital Algiers. (Wikipedia).

שו"ת תשב"ץ חלק ג סימן צח

וענין יציאת בחורי חמד בשעת ס"ת וכמעט שאני אומר שעליהם נאמר ועוזבי ה' יכלו ומתרגמינן ודשבק אורייתא דיי' ישתצון ואע"פ שהתלמוד (ברכו' ח' ע"א) לא אסר אלא באמצע הפסוק והתירו בין גברא לגברא והית' השאל' בין פסוקא לפסוקא זה כשאירע הדבר באקראי בעלמא אבל כשעושין זה תדיר נראה פירוק עול תורה ואם יוצאים בהפטרה ואינם חוזרים לתפל' מוסף ראוי לצבור לגדור זה בקנס לשמן למאור. והזהרו מלהטיל חרם כי לא ישמעו ולא ימנעו עצמם מפני זה ויבואו להקל בחרמים כשהם על דבר חמור כמסירה ועריות וחלול שבת והנהג הצבור בנחת ושלום לכם:

The issue of the fine (sic) young men who leave shul in the midst of Kryat Hatorah I suggest that the verse “those who leave God will be destroyed” (Yeshayahu 1:28) applies to them based on the Targum that translates those who leave the Torah [in place of God as in the original] will be destroyed. Although the Gemara in Berachot only forbids walking out in the middle of a verse and permitted it when between two Alyot and leaves it open [whether it is forbidden] to walk out between verses [but does not seem to forbid walking out before or after the start of the reading]. That is only when it is not done regularly, however, when it becomes a steady practice it gives the appearance of a rejection of the yoke of Torah. Therefore if they walk out [even - D.G.) during the Haftorah and do not return for Mussaf, it is proper for the community to stop this by imposing a fine that goes towards subsidizing lighting for the shul. However, be careful and do not put them in cherem [cherem (excommunication) used to be a very common and effective enforcement tool in those times] for they will ignore you and not be stopped. This will bring about that people will make light of Charamim even when they are on a more stringent matter, like Mesira [snitching to the authorities], sexual misbehavior and desecration of the Shabbat. Deal softly with the community. Peace be unto you.

Some things never change. Note however, how a Posek takes into consideration that misusing Cherem takes its bite away and authority is weakened rather then strengthened.

I wish our “Gedolim” took note.

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