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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vayeira, Bereishis 18:13. Shalom Bayis and Folding the Tallis

Section I
Shalom Bayis is a Good Thing

Sarah laughed when she heard the guest predict that she would have a son.  Hashem rebuked Avraham for Sarah's scoffing, perhaps because Avraham should have inculcated his household with a greater awareness of the possibility of miracles.  Sarah had laughed "Could this desiccated body bear a child?  Could my ancient husband possibly father a child?"  According to other medrashim, Sarah actually had miraculously become youthful again on that morning, and this is what she meant- although I have become young again in my old age, my husband is still an old man who cannot father a child.  According to either pshat, when Hashem quoted her as if she had only said "Could my old body bear a child," this was not quite what she had said, and there was some degree of either omission or misdirection.

Rashi 18:13 explains that this was intended to preserve the Shalom Bayis, domestic harmony.  Avraham didn't need to hear that Sarah considered him to be an old man who was incapable of fathering a child.

In 18:9, we are told that the Malachim asked Avraham where his wife was, an odd question in that cloistered society. ויאמרו אליו איה שרה אשתך ויאמר הנה באהל.  Rashi says, הנה באהל: צנועה היא.  Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz explains that their reason for asking was because they wanted to reinforce Avraham Avinu's awareness of Sarah's refinement and modesty.  They were the greatest tzadikim in history, he knew her- his niece- from the day she was born, and they had long since passed their golden anniversary, and אעפ"כ the Ribono shel Olam knew it was important that Avraham Avinu be reminded of what a treasure he had.  No matter what stage the relationship is in, Shalom Bayis needs to be nurtured and reinforced.

Similarly, the Radak in 21:11 says
 כי אף על פי שהיה בן האמה, בנו היה, והיה אוהב אותו, כי היה בכורו והיה מרחם עליו כְּרַחֵם אָב עַל-בָּנִים (תהלים ק"ג יג), ובדרך טובה היה הולך כי הוא גדל עמו ולמדהו דרך ה', כי אפילו לאחרים היה מלמד ומדריך בדרך טובה כל שכן לבנו, והיה רע בעיניו לגרשו מביתו, ולא גער באשתו מפני שלום בית כמו שכתבנו בדבר הגר והיה מצטער על הדבר והיה סובל מריבת 
אשתו עד שבא אליו הדבור".
the point being that when Sarah angrily told Avraham to expel Hagar and Yishmael, Avraham was terribly aggrieved, because he loved Yishmael.  Despite his unhappiness at Sarah's harsh behavior, he did not chastise her, but instead tolerated her behavior silently, so as to preserve the peace in the home.

So it is generally agreed that Shalom Bayis is a good thing.  I am pleased that it makes an appearance in this week's parsha, because it allows me to talk about the minhag of folding the Tallis right after Shabbos.

Section II
Some Men Do Not Fold Their Talleisim on Shabbos

Many men do not fold their Tallis on Shabbos, or if they do, they don't fold it on the lines it is properly folded on.  This is based on the Mishna in Shabbos 113a, as brought in OC 302:3.  Even though most poskim don't consider it Tikun Kli anymore (KolBo), many are still machmir either because it is hachanah, preparing for something that won't occur until after Shabbos, or melaben, that you might see a spot and rub it off.  (For a strongly expressed opinion that we must be machmir,here and here are Harav Greenblatt's teshuvos.)  The Mishna Berura (302:19) says that although one may fold a Tallis not on its original creases, (and by the way, this is not specific to Talleisim; if you're machmir by your tallis, you shouldn't fold your pants at night either.  In fact many aren't machmir at all and do fold their talleisim and their pants at night in the normal manner.) it is praiseworthy to not fold it at all until Shabbos is over.

If you are not folding it on its regular creases, it stands to reason that you will have to refold it later on the original creases, or the new way of folding will become the real creases.  So the Maharsham (Daas Torah 302:3) says that he should re-fold it correctly after Shabbos.  Others say that is not necessary, because you can switch from one fold each week, or just not fold it on the original creases.  In any case, many of us wait until after Shabbos to fold our Talleisim.  

Section III
There is a Well Known Segula For Shalom Bayis to Fold the Tallis Right After Shabbos.

I think that it is almost universally known that a man should fold his tallis right away after Shabbos because it is a Segula for שלום בית.  I have been told that some women make it absolutely clear to their husbands that they better not do a thing until they have folded their Talleisim.  Because it is a segula for Shalom Bayis.

Where does this come from?  It is so well known and observed, it must be a Medrash somewhere, or a Zohar, or from the Ari Za'l, right?

Section IV  
The Reason for This Minhag is Not the Reason Everyone Thinks It Is.

Nope.  It's in the Taamei Haminhagim, and nowhere else.  It just had a mazal of becoming popular.  But that does not mean that the minhag only comes from there.  It is only the explanation of the minhag that comes from there.  The minhag itself does have a serious provenance and is brought by the poskim, but based on a totally different reason.  It's like Gresham's law applied to the reasons for minhagim.

The Magen Avraham (OC 300) says the following:
   מהרי"ל היה לו טלית של שבת והיה קופלו בכל מוצאי שבת כדי להתעסק במצוה מיד עכ"ל וכן היו עושין אנשי ציפורי
The Maharil had a Tallis for Shabbos and he folded it every Motzei Shabbos in order to immediately be involved in a Mitzva.  So, too, says the Magen Avraham, the men of Tzipori did.

I found three points of interest here.
1.  That the Maharil had a special Tallis for Shabbos.
2.  That he folded it immediately after Shabbos because he wanted to do a Mitzva right away.
3.  That this is how the Magen Avraham learned pshat in the minhag of the people of Tzipori as brought in Brachos 53.

Point 1 is a general mussar haskeil, that it is meritorious to have a special garment that you wear only on Shabbos.  I guess it's based on Shabbos 113 וכבדתו", שלא יהא מלבושך של שבת כמלבושך של חול".

Section V
In Fact, Several Commentators Have Been Less Than Complimentary Regarding the Alleged Reason

Point 2 shows us the true source of the minhag- like our minhag to fix something in the Sukkah right after Yom Kippur.  How Shalom Bayis got involved is anyone's guess, but that reason has no makor other than the Taamei Haminhagim.  I particularly liked this reaction to that explanation- והבל יפצה פיהם, which is a way of saying that he respectfully disagrees with the reason proposed by the the Taamei Haminhagim.  The one he is quoting as objurgating the T'H is here.  So it turns out that the minhag actually has nothing to do with Shalom Bayis, and therefore has nothing to do with the parsha, but I had to put this somewhere.  Also, I like the Otzar's choice of words.  Maybe he was being complimentary when he called it Havolim.
This also illustrates the danger of berating something that sounds foolish, because you never know what can turn up in a dark corner that might make you regret saying it, such as this, which places the minhag in a whole different schema.
Also, please realize that the person who used that expression is someone I know nothing about: only that he was born in Kovneh, ended up in Pittsburgh, and printed his sefer in 1918.  And here's his picture.  You'll have to scroll up a little to see it.  He does, however, have a haskama from Reb Yitzchok Elchonon, and a more hearty haskama from Reb Leibele Chosid of Kelm, רב לייבעלע חסיד, who was close to my mother's mother's family and used to eat the cheese made at my mother's mother's family's house, but had nothing to do with the Kelmer Talmud Torah, but I know nothing more about him..  So while I'm sure he was a nice man, this Rabbi Hirschowitz Ish Kovneh of Pittsburgh 1918, he's not necessarily ואליו תשמעון.

Point 3 is particularly interesting.  I heard that Rav Eliashiv, in the new sefer on Brachos, says an excellent pshat based on this Magen Avraham.  The Gemara in Brachos 53a says 
אמר רבי יוחנן המהלך בערבי שבתות בטבריא ובמוצאי שבתות בצפורי והריח ריח אינו מברך מפני שחזקתו אינו עשוי אלא לגמר בו את הכלים
and Rashi explains that 
בטבריא. היו רגילים לגמר ערבי שבתות ובצפורי במו"ש

that in Tveria they used to perfume their clothes before Shabbos began, and in Tzipori, after Shabbos.  One would assume that the minhag of Tveria is kavod Shabbos, and the minhag of Tzipori is like what we do with Besamim by Havdala, and indeed this is how Rabbeinu Yona learned the Gemara there (in the pages of the Rif 39b).  But Rav Eliashiv explains that we see that the Magen Avraham understood the minhag of Tzipori as being a way of being mechabeid Shabbos- not like the mitzva of besamim by havdala, which is for the neshama yeseira, but rather because you're putting away your Shabbos Tallis, and you want to ensure that next week when you wear it for Shabbos, it will be fragrant.  So they had the minhag to prepare the clothing immediately after Shabbos ended- precisely the idea of the Maharil.  The difference between the Anshei Tveria and the Anshei Tzippori is whether it is more Kavod Shabbos to do it right before Shabbos begins, or as soon as the previous Shabbos ended.
The Yaavetz in his Siddur in the Seder Motz'Sh 11 also says like the Magen Avraham, that it was preparation/kavod for the coming Shabbos.

Section VI
Something That Works Better Than a Segula

Eli sent me a link to the introduction of a sefer called טיב החסד (published two years ago by R' Gamliel Rabinowitz/Rappaport, associated with ישיבת שער השמים),  in which he tells us a story about the Satmerer Rov's reaction to the Shalom Bayis explanation of the minhag:
הרה"ק מסאטמר זצוק"ל שמע פעם מאחד הרבנים שמדקדק לקפל הטלית מיד במוצאי שבת קודש, שמקובל לסגולה לשלום בית. ענה לו רבי יואלש בחן פקחותו, כמה שהסגולה עוזרת איני יודע. אבל אם מיד במוצאי שבת תקפל גם השרוולים ותיגש לעזור בעבודת הבית זה בוודאי יעזור
that he's not sure how much the segula (of folding the tallis right after Shabbos is to bring Shalom Bayis) helps.  But if right after Shabbos someone would fold up his sleeves and get to work helping to put the house in order, that for sure would help.

Section VII
The Big Mussar Haskeil

Minhagei Yisrael are Kodesh Kodoshim.  The Reasons Advanced for Some Minhagim, Not So Much.

Section VIII
Post Script
I mentioned R' Leib Chosid above, and said I didn't know much about him, other than my mother's mother's family being close with him.  I did a search and found this article:
A very rare and original Kelme type was Rebbe Leib Tsigler, famous as “Rebbe Leib Hasid.” He was in fact only a small, slim little Jew, but he possessed a very great mind with a very warm Jewish heart. His spiritual, illuminated face always had a smile. And his good eyes looked with love on everyone. Together with his extraordinary goodness, his boundless piousness was literally limitless. He spent entire days and nights in Torah and worship.
His father was a simple Jew, who had a mill in Virpyan [Verpena], a village near Kelme, and Rebbe Leib, in his early youth, had to bear the yoke of earning money and helping his father in his difficult work. Understand that under such circumstances, the child Leib did not have the opportunity to devote himself to Torah study. Once married, however, he gave up his work in the mill and began to study Torah and ethics with great diligence and in a very short time he reached a high level of learning. He studied Torah for the love of it. Even then, when he was already famous as a great scholar and well-versed in the Talmud and post-Talmudic commentaries, he remained a simple Kelmer resident.
He was a rare modest person. When someone called him “rebbe,” he protested and thoughtfully said: “My name is Leib Tsigler and I am not a rabbi.” When Kelme Jews actually did call him “rebbe” and honored him in shul with tributes appropriate to a rabbi, he completely stopped going to shul, with the exceptions of rosh hashanah and yom kippur, public reading of the Torah, yizkor [prayers for the dead] and Purim.
As already said, he was a great scholar, but much greater than his erudition was his goodness, his reverence to God, ethics and habits. Non-Jews literally idolized him and blessed him, and during his lifetime he became a legendary figure in the entire area. Even the great men of the generation of that time recognized him as a just and perfect man.
Even the maskilim had great respect for him. In the obituaries in talpiot in 1895 and in luah ahi'asaf in 1896, he is described as a symbol of truth and goodness, piety and wisdom. He died at the age of seventy on the 21st of tammuz 5654 [25th of July 1894] in a dacha [country house] in the shtetl Tzitavian [Tytuvenai]. Four thousand people, among them twelve rabbis, from all of the surrounding cities andshtetlekh, accompanied him to his eternal rest.
Among the thousands of mourners could be seen his regular doctor, a Christian. After all the eulogies by the rabbis, the Christian doctor went over to the grave and made a vow that in memory of the Hasid's soul he would heal all the poor sick Jews and non-Jews without cost for an entire year.
And I found this:
Tsitevyan Jews were proud of the Gaon and Tsadik rabbi Leib Tsigler (Leib Hosid) from Vertyan who lived in their town.... 


Anonymous said...

I was always taught that folding in the creases is a sofek issur d'oryso of tikkun kali.

Also, the connection of the tallis and sholom bayis is the minhag for a bride to buy her choson his first tallis and folding straight after shabbos demonstrates his continuing recognition of the chashivus of her first present

Barzilai said...

Thank you for pointing that out.

The reason I didn't mention tikun is because the generally accepted halacha is to follow the shitta of the KolBo, that with our clothing, and if done by one person, there is not issur d'oraysa of tikun. See OC 302:3 and especially the Aruch Hashulchan 302:10-12, available here .

Barzilai said...

By the way, I appreciate your explanation for the minhag, too. I think I may have seen that explanation in the sefarim too.

But allow me to point out that while it's very nice, it would mean that if your wife did not buy you your tallis, or if bought yourself a new talis down the line, or if you weren't at home in her presence, the minhag wouldn't pertain. But it's a nice idea. Maybe the minhag would be enhanced if the man would say "zacharti lach chesed ne'urayich" while he folded it.

But the bottom line is that you don't agree with those that say הבל יפצה פיהם.

Eli said...$201211010926468

Barzilai said...

Thanks Eli. That's the perfect coda. I put it into the post.

Anonymous said...

You made it clear that the origin for folding one's tallis Motzei Shabbos is not connected to a segula for Shalom Bayis. That does not mean it is not connected now. A man with a wife who believes that folding the tallis is a segulah for Shalom Bayis better fold his tallis or there won't be Shalom Bayis. You wrote not that long ago, there is no reason why the Shabbos Licht must be lit before the husband comes back from Shul Friday evening (related to davening at plag) but that your own Eishes Chayil insists on it. What's the advantage in arguing?