Monday, October 17, 2005

Question & Answer With Rabbi Lazer Brody - Part V - Auctioning Honors

A Simple Jew asks:

Is it appropriate during Yom Kippur services for a rabbi to auction off honors (i.e. taking out the Torah during Kol Nidre, reading Maftir Yonah, and opening the Aron Kodesh during Neilah)? To your knowledge was this done by our ancestors in Europe?

Rabbi Lazer Brody answers:

Dear SJ,

Your question is an important one, and relevant to Yom Tovim and Shabbos, in addition to Yom Kippur. In Tractate Shabbos, page 150a, the holy Amoraim Rav Chisda and Rav Himnuna are uncontested when they say that one is allowed to make calculations for mitvas on Shabbos. Rebbe Elazar is even more specific when he states (ibid.) that one may promise to give charity to a poor person on Shabbos. In other words, even though we're not allowed to mention commercial, monetary, and day-to-day matters on Shabbos (Shulchan Oruch Or Hachaim 107:1), we are allowed to discuss matters of tzedakka on Shabbos, Yom tov, and even Yom Kippur, such as pledging money for the poor or for the upkeep of the shul (ibid., 106:6, see also Rama there).

The Chofetz Chaim adds (ibid., Mishna Brura 27, 33) that one is permitted to earmark/pledge money for charity, and although some poskim object to the sale of aliyas on Shabbos because it resembles bartering and auctioning, while those poskim who permit selling aliyas say that this is totally different from auctioning off "goods", since the money is for the upkeep of the shul, a very big mitzva that's allowed on Shabbos, and concludes that wherever the custom is to auction off the aliyas, it is permissible.

Here in Eretz Yisroel, we auction off aliyas in one of two situations: One, when people don't pay dues to the shul, and the money is critical for the upkeep of the shul; two, to avoid having people fight over the aliyas. This practice was widespread both in Poland and the Ukraine. In Uman on Rosh Hashonna, the aliyas are also auctioned off.

May Hashem grant you, your readers, and all of Clal Yisroel a happy and sweet New Year 5766. Yours with warmest friendship, Lazer Brody

Visit Rabbi Lazer Brody's website here.


At October 17, 2005 at 10:48:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you more comfortable with the practice now (after R' Brody's response)?

I also remember the Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke in support of this custom (a very entertaining sicha at that).
I think that modern society has given us the impression that money and holiness don't mix, but this is terribly wrong - this is precisely what money is for! The auctioning of aliyos/kibudim gives us an opportunity to connect our spiritual desire with a tangible act (in addition to often giving us a much needed "break in the action"), and this encourages other to give more charity as well!

At October 17, 2005 at 11:05:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

You are correct. Initially I was not comfortable with this practice...especially in a shul on Yom Kippur. Now, however, that I see that it is firmly ground in halacha and all I can say is, "I was wrong. Halacha permits it."

At October 17, 2005 at 11:57:00 AM EDT, Blogger torontopearl said...

ASJ, glad you sought out the answer to this lingering pet peeve of mine...

Chag Sameach.

At October 19, 2005 at 7:47:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Jen: I read your recent posting and unfortunately I do not have any insight on the question you raised. Sorry.


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