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Hallel with Electric Guitar and Pushka

by Yori Yanover

Everybody knows the term Hallelujah, which is the Biblical English version of the Hebrew Halelu-Yah or Praise God. One segment of the Book of Psalms (113 – 118) has been adopted by the Jewish sages into a communal song of praise which is recited, with or without music, on most holidays and on the first days of the Lunar months. And before I suck the oxygen out of one of the most beautiful Jewish traditions with my dissertation here, let me say that the Hallel, as it has come to be known, is one of the most loved components of our liturgy. The tunes are hauntingly beautiful and the opportunity for communal singing is cherished.


Because most of the opportunities for Hallel fall on holidays on which it is forbidden to use musical instruments, electric and acoustic alike, it’s a rare thing to have your rabbi pull out his electric guitar (mercifully pre-tuned!) and leap into a melodious and sweeping strumming of some exciting Hallel tunes. The effect this morning, the second day of Hanukkah, was truly exhilarating, and even the relatively small minyan at the Stanton Street synagogue this morning (they packed the house on Shabbat – but most stayed in bed Sunday) sounded positively robust.


Rabbi Yossi Pollak is a competent musician and his choices for tunes combined the shul classics (Ma lecha hayam kit anus) with vigorous, Shlomo Carlebach picks. We were invited to bring any musical instrument we could carry in, and some actually did. The kids hammered joyously on a bench and on the pushka (charity box). In the end Rabbi Polack tore his guitar off the amplifier and lead a singing-dancing conga line of happy men around the shul.

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24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your hippie rabbi in action. Its assur to daven with musical instrucments until the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt. Hashem, may you rebuild it soon and remove this heresy from our midst. Amen.

12/17/2006 5:07 PM  
Blogger Yori Yanover said...

In the words of the immortal Groucho Marx: "Chicolini here may look like an idiot and sound like an idiot, but don't let that fool you, he really is an idiot..."

I honestly hope the above post is a joke, which is why I've chosen not to remove this heresy from our midst...

Amen.

12/17/2006 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Menachem said...

I can see why Rav David Feinstein barred any religious Jew from entering this place

12/17/2006 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Convenient lack of knowledge about halacha-according to some authorities , it's assur to listen to music AT ALL until the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt, not to daven with music. Been to any weddings or Bar Mitzvahs lately? Then you violated that issur.

12/17/2006 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Hippie Rabbi,

I forgot to mention it also an averah to daven with instruments for it is the way of the goyim to do so. I guess they did not that mention this in your "Open (ie phony) Rabbinical Seminary of yours.

Menachem HaKaton

12/17/2006 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not the rabbi. But I'd sooner follow a hippie rabbi than someone who doesn't know that lashon hara is assur.

12/17/2006 7:11 PM  
Anonymous slumlord said...

Rav David Feinstein did not bar any religious Jew from entering Stanton Street. That is an ignorant lie. He said he prefers his Yeshiva students to daven in the Yeshiva.

12/17/2006 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Lilliput said...

How tall is Menachem HaKaton?

12/17/2006 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is so sad that menachem is failing at his mission, he is actually driving more jews too stanton, keep it up your message is having a wonderful effect for us. Let me be the first (ever) to thank you. Keep up the hating!

12/17/2006 9:01 PM  
Blogger MenachemHaKaton said...

Hashem, spare the community from this plague. This nonsense never went on when Rabbi Singer, A'H was the Rav of the Shul.

PS How tall am I? tall enough to step on your feet.

12/17/2006 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Yanover,
your spelling of R. Pollak's name was incorect

12/17/2006 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Menachem:

If you are so upset with this neighborhood, why don't you leave? I do not understan why you must be so hateful and intolerant of others. I think you've read my comments on another message board where you wrote very hateful things. But since you just ignored my comments let me repost them-

It's more of a shame that you must be so hateful. Let me ask you something- is it better to be a hateful discriminatory person that talks condescendingly about other Jews or somebody that accepts others?

Do you think that you are winning favor in G-D's eyes by the nasty things you have been saying?

How does telling people not to go to Stanton make you a better Jew or even a better person? And why must you be so judgmental against other Jews?

I am trying to understand where you are coming from Menachem, but let me just say that contrary to what you may think, you are not better than me.

12/17/2006 9:19 PM  
Anonymous slumlord said...

"This nonsense never went on when Rabbi Singer, A'H was the Rav of the Shul."

Menachem: You are correct. Rabbi Singer, much like Rabbi Pollak, was a non-judgmental Rabbi. He was happy to see Jews come in the door. He didn't ask for any Orthodox ID cards for entry. Only you do.

12/17/2006 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Menachem said...

I am not engaging in lashon hara, I am as a public service warning people that Stanton Street is a non-orthodox shul, Rav David Feinstein has said it is forbidden for religious Jews to daven there.

I have nothing to do with the other Menachem.

P.S. if Stanton Street has so many Jews there why was it closed for mincha\maariv last shabbat?

12/18/2006 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because we davened minchah at 1pm so that our older members would't have to walk out again, it also gave others a chnce to have a longer shabbos afternoon. Menachem, when you assume you continue to make an ass of yourself, it is clear to me that you talk w/out doing background research, if you really want to appear as an individual doing a "public service", you might want to do a little fact checking.It is sloppy and irresponsible.Rabbi Pollak,is available for questions via email rabbi@stantonstreetshul.com or by phone on the shul's website www.stantonstreetshul.com . I hope this helps you with your mission.

12/18/2006 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And when they are open they have those heretics from Chabad who think there rebbe is the Moshiach preach. How can they give this an audience?

The haskafa is the shul is wrong. May a strong wind take care of this plague.

Menachem HaKaton

12/18/2006 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

menachem,
I like to know where you get your info? and why you are the sole person on this mission? did you apply for the job as the rabbi? are you worried he will take people away from other shuls?
whatever the reason, you are a poor example of a torah jew, even a jew.
please consult a rav on your behavior.

12/18/2006 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an interesting idea. I have never been to a service with a musical Hallel and I am sorry I missed this one. Too bad it wasn't more widely promoted as I imagine a lot of people on the Lower East Side (and, being a Sunday, from the rest of the city) would have enjoyed seeing if the musical instruments really enhance the sense of joy and praise that are the purpose of the Hallel.

In any event, I am really impressed that Stanton Street and its new Rabbi are trying hard to widen the reach of Jewish experience, and I hope they are successful.

It is obvious from the comments section that the Lower East Side may not be the most welcoming community for anything different, no matter how well halakhically grounded. Nevertheless, as a local, I can say I am glad I will now have the same opportunity to experience a taste of what Orthodox Jews in communities in Israel and the rest of the country get to enjoy. Good luck to Stanton Street and its new Rabbi. Some on the Lower East Side are glad you are here.

12/18/2006 12:23 PM  
Anonymous lilliput said...

The lower east side is welcoming and warm and friendly -- and there's one bitter little man living here, too. What, you got no bitter little people out there?

12/18/2006 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the last Anonymous-make sure you sign up for Stanton Street's email list so you can find out about events like Sunday's Hallel.

http://www.stantonstreetshul.com/joinmailinglist.html

12/18/2006 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Menachem HaKaton said...

You know, you people should turn your building in to a night club. With your psudo rabbi and his guitar and some liquor, it might be a better use for the 'hood.

12/18/2006 4:54 PM  
Blogger Benny the blade said...

The late Rabbi Singer would consider 9 men a minyon if he opened the Torah. No other ORTHODOX RABBI in our area would permit this. Where was the outcry then? IF the musical instrument is banned then the MTJ Yeshiva should issue a proclomation and NOT a wispering campain which to me is Loshon Harah. Benny the blade

12/19/2006 12:55 PM  
Anonymous lilliput said...

This is not the Yeshiva, this is just one man with hatred in his heart not just for Stanton, but for Lubavitch, too, and I guess for anyone else who's not davening out of his siddur. It's totally stupid to respond to him, it only gives him power he doesn't other possess. The same moron posts elsewhere online and when nobody answers him he goes away quietly. He also went on the community message board. From this we should deduce that the MTJ is to blame? G-d forbid.

12/19/2006 1:14 PM  
Anonymous outsider said...

Clearly, whoever considered Rabbi Singer a"h a tzaddik is unfamiliar with events of the last few years...And he was cahoots with Reb David Feinstein, so the reactions are understandable.

2/19/2007 11:20 AM  

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