Love of the Land

For the week ending 16 July 2005 / 9 Tammuz 5765

Comfort for a Widow

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

"Dont look for another shliach tzibur to lead the service on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur."

These were the instructions which the rav of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, gave to the officers of his synagogue when the Jew who traditionally led the mussaf service on these holy days, Reb Nachum Bergman, passed away shortly before Rosh Hashana.

They complied with his wish, assuming that the rav himself intended to lead the services. But when the time for mussaf arrived, the rav signaled the son of Reb Nachum to lead the service. The congregation was shocked because it is traditional that one in the year of mourning does not lead services on Shabbat or a holiday.

At the conclusion of the service the rav explained his action:

The only reason a mourner does not lead the service on these special days is because of the objection of the public since it is not befitting their honor to have someone in such a state of sorrow representing them. Can we imagine, however, the grief of Reb Nachums widow who just lost her husband and what pain she will suffer as she sits in the ladies gallery and hears another voice leading the service in place of her husband? I am certain that it is the desire of all the worshippers to provide this widow with the comfort of hearing her son, whose voice is so similar to that of her deceased husband.

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