Monday, June 18, 2007

brachos kriyas shema and teaching kids halacha

To get back to brachos kriyas shema, since the brachos are part of the kiyum of kriyas shema itself, it is critical according to R’ Chaim to daven the brachos of kriyas shema with shema in its proper time, even if that means davening alone without a minyan. I usually daven at an 8:30 Shabbos minyan, and for the 2 or 3 weeks of the year that this is not early enough to make zman kriyas shema we will start a few minutes earlier. If you daven at 9:00, then you will not make zman kriyas shema I think about 85% of the time (e.g. this week the last time for shema was 9:09). Most shules simply announce that shema should be recited before davening, which only works if you do not accept R’ Chaim’s position.

I raise the issue because my son was invited to a bar mitzvah this past Shabbos where davening was scheduled to start at 8:45. I was unsure whether to tell him to daven earlier or not – do I have to impose R’ Chaim Brisker’s opinion on him because our minyan (and I) think it correct even though the majority of minyanim are either ignorant of the chiddush or follow other views and start later? L’ma’aseh, the question became moot because he knows this is what we do even if he does not understand the lomdus, so he got up early to daven at a hashkama minyan and then went over to the bar mitzvah. But the same issue has come up in other contexts – does chinuch mean teaching kids what the majority of “frum” Jews do, or does it mean teaching the views in halacha one thinks are correct, even if they be chumros that others ignore (or kulos that others reject), and even if these practices will not be understood unless or until the child matures and looks into the topic for him/herself?


  1. anon16:09 PM

    You use the example of R'Chaim's chumra (which by the way I have heard conflicting stories as to whether one should adopt that chumrah when R'Schachter was asked -- as you note, many poskim would say just say krias shema beforehand). The reason the issue presents itself is because outside of the YU or Brisk world it is not a well known chumra. But, in concept, doesnt this issue really manifest itself 100 different ways? For the serious Jew, I would say that what we do is comprised in large part of what is accepted halacha, in part a result of personal chumra (or a chumra resulting from being part of a group, such a minyan, a family, yeshiva, etc.) and by the same token, in part certain kulos -- which also result from personal, yeshiva, familial, etc. You can ask the question on any of these fronts on how to be mechanech your kids. Not that this is necessarily the right answer (although not necessarily wrong either), I think most people are generally mechanech their kids to be like them - bein lechumrah bein lekulah (though sometimes perhaps the kids get a break on certain chumros).

    I think that is more than a convienence factor -- I think with the classic lesson that the greatest chinuch for kids is by example, and how kids see through inconsistency, etc. etc. that it makes sense to train your kids to follow halacha as you do. Obviously there can be exceptions to the rule -- globally and specifically, but as a general klal, it seems to make sense.

    I think that is also the "pshat" in what your son did -- even without reading volume 1 of Mesorah to see the lomdus. Good parenting in action.

  2. Bill Selliger9:08 PM

    משנה מסכת עדויות פרק ה משנה ז

    בשעת מיתתו אמר לבנו בני חזור בך בארבעה דברים שהייתי אומר אמר לו ולמה לא חזרת בך אמר לו אני שמעתי מפי המרובים והם שמעו מפי המרובים אני עמדתי בשמועתי והם עמדו בשמועתן אבל אתה שמעת מפי היחיד ומפי המרובין מוטב להניח דברי היחיד ולאחוז בדברי המרובין

  3. Bill, do you mean to suggest that you can resolve every machlokes achronim by just counting up the # of books/poskim on each side of the scale?

    Anon1, I could have used a different example, but I wanted to write over this r' chaim anyway.

  4. Bill Selliger10:09 AM

    No. I thought that you asked how to instruct your son with regard to machloksim - or minhagim - that you feel one way about but the majority disagrees. This mishna addresses that issue directly.