Monday, October 27, 2003

More on Carlebach-style Minyanim

Here's my reader's response to my last post on the issue:
"Ok, now I understand much better at what you are getting at. Though I don't agree 100%, I certainly understand where you are coming from. The shul I used to daven in when I lived in chutz laaretz (we can leave your remaining in chu"l for later) had a monthly Carlebach minyan, so I thought you were referring to those types of minyanim where they did it occasionally to liven things up (although in my old shul it was a separate minyan in the beis medresh). Perhaps you should clarify that in your comments."
"I totally agree with you about bringing in guest chazanim. I haven't actually seen anyone you mention daven before. In fact I have never been at a Carlebach minyan with a professional chazzan. I do know Elie Kranzler, and he is a very holy man, and I know that his heart is in the right place. In fact I have heard that he finds it odd that people will pay to have a chazzan."
"I was at a Carlebach Shabbos that Elie Kranzler was hired to lead in New York. It is not my intent to criticize him personally -- he does seem to be sincere. However, the behavior of the participants in the minyan -- some of which I described in my earlier post—as well as the general spirit in the room caused me to feel that the davening wasn't sincere. Again, this is not a comment about Kranzler himself. I'm describing my impressions of the congregation as a whole.
"I was at one slichos of Kranzler's (in his shul), and while it was a little bit too much for me, I think for the not so connected youth in our times, this flavor of davening will keep them going to shul. In general many people find tefilos dry and boring."
I agree that for some people, this approach to tefila makes sense and turns an otherwise dry experience into a spiritually moving one.
"That said, I would say that this entertainment value in davening preceeds Carlebach by 100 years. Ever hear a real Chazan? In my old shul, a group of wealthy influential members used to bring in professional chazanim of all types. While the events brought in much money for the shul there was a higher price to pay. These guys would come in, repeat words and turn the tefilos into meaningless statements."
I've seen this to and am opossed to it as well. Davening should never be turned into entertainment.
"One "frum" chazan even used a tuning fork on shabbos!"
I can't remember the sources, but I do believe that there are reliable poskim who are "matir" the use of a tuning fork by a Chazzan on Shabbos. I think the logic was that since it is "huktzeh (set aside) for this purpose before Shabbos it is not considered muktzeh. I'll try to track down the sources on this.
"The lack of respect you describe of those immature gentleman looking over the mechitza is just that, immaturity. Hopefully it will go away some day, but sadly, it often does not. Many people are taught from childhood to disrespect a shul (eating cheerios, candy, reading non torah books or playing with toys in shul). I don't think it has much to do with the davening itself, but these "events" will draw those people not particularly interested in davening to begin with. I don't mean here non-frum people, I mean the frum people who may even wear black hats, and even though they won't admit it they are truly bored by davening (usually you can observe certain behaivors of people with this problem, for instance much talking and laughing, or even talking or learning torah when they should be davening). Perhaps those who attend the events are the ones who realize some sort of conviction to find more meaning in tefilah."
"I also very much agree with you on the dancing and kavod issue. I find for the first time, that in the Carlebach minayn I attent semi-regularly now in Ramat Bet Shemesh, there is actually a true urge to dance (just a little). The shul has a set time, route, and duration for the hakafah around the shul. I again observe that many of those who show disrespect during davening, by dancing, are those in the age of late teens early 20's. Clearly, many of these people are looking for some sort of spiritual outlet, and they are not properly focused."
These are essentially the points I was making in my earlier post
"The yeshiva I davened in for RH and YK has several young madrichim of this new kind of Carlebach/Breslover chasidim (I don't know if they have these in NY yet, they where the big white yarmulka's, colored talis, and often have long hair). These guys were dancing with the aron hakodesh open (best left for simchas torah or Dovid Hamelech), they feel the need to clap during Shmoneh Esrei and disturb the entire tzibbur, and they have something about jumping up and down and moving side to side so quickly that they constantly slap people with their tzitzis. Now I am ranting."
I like the description of the Carlebach/Breslover Chassidim. These are becoming more and more common here too, although they usually don't wear colored taleisim. And, they are annoying.
"My point is, I think you need to clarify your post, and not judge all these things so broadly."
OK, I thought I'd been pretty clear, but consider this a clarification.
"What kind of sources do you have for preserving the nusach? I have thought about that a bit."
This is something I will IY'H take up in a future post.