L’shem Yichud…

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Many people have the custom to recite a special declaration of intent prior to performing many mitzvot or reciting certain prayers. This kabalistic formula is known as the l’shem yichud, its name taken from the opening words of the declaration. This formula expresses one’s intention to fulfill a mitzva for the sole sake of serving God as well as to request that God’s Divine Presence join in one’s performance of the imminent mitzva.

It is believed that reciting such a declaration of intent will better prepare a person’s heart and mind for the holy act he is about to perform. Some commentators suggest that the practice of verbalizing one’s intention prior to the performance of mitzvot is actually alluded to in the Torah itself.[1] It is also likely that the practice of reciting l’shem yichud derives from the requirement that one must have the proper intentions in mind when performing a mitzva in order to properly discharge one’s obligation.[2] Some authorities have been especially particular to recite it and to have others recite it as well. As Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk writes:

“Whenever you perform any deed, whether Torah study, or prayer, or positive commandments, you should familiarize yourself with the following words and make it a habit to recite them: “Hareini oseh zot l’shem yichud kudsha berich Hu u’shechintei la’asot nachat ruach la’Borei yitbarach shemo (I am hereby doing this in order to unify the Holy One blessed be He and the Shechina, to give delight to the blessed Creator).” You should say this regularly and with great feeling from the depth of your heart, and after a while you will feel a great awakening and spiritual inspiration from saying this.”[3]

The l’shem yichud can be found in most siddurim with slight variations depending on nusach. Almost all siddurim include it prior to Baruch She’amar, the counting of the Omer, and the shaking of the lulav. The wording of the l’shem yichud also has the reader invoke God’s holy name. Very often the standard l’shem yichud is followed by an additional declaration of intent which discusses the mitzva that one is about to perform in great detail. It is especially appropriate to recite l’shem yichud prior to performing mitzvot that do not have a preliminary blessing. Some authorities teach that l’shem yichud should only be recited once each day, prior to Baruch She’amar, at the start of Pesukei D’zimra. According to this approach, one should have in mind that this once-daily recitation of l’shem yichud is to apply to all the other mitzvot that one performs throughout the day.[4]

Reciting l’shem yichud before performing a mitzva is especially encouraged by the more mystical authorities. This is because the Kabbala teaches that one who performs a mitzva after having recently sinned causes that mitzva to be soiled by evil spirits. The recitation of l’shem yichud is said to remedy this concern, and ensure that one’s performance of mitzvot will be performed with the proper intent and will be favorably received before God.[5]

It is interesting to note that historically, the inclusion of l’shem yichud in the liturgy had been met with some fierce opposition. Rabbi Yechezkel Landau waged a fierce battle to ban the recitation of l’shem yichud and to have it removed from all texts. He also took great personal issue with those who had the practice of reciting it. As Rabbi Landau writes:[6] “In my opinion this is an evil sickness in our generation.… [Those who recite it] are the destroyers of the generation.” Indeed, it is recorded that Rabbi Landau would forbid anyone who had the custom of reciting l’shem yichud from reciting a blessing over his personal lulav and etrog set on Sukkot.[7]

This fierce opposition to what seems to be a completely innocuous and even praiseworthy practice is difficult to digest. It is suggested that Rabbi Landau may have believed that the l’shem yichud formula, with its strong mystical connotations, was actually a creation of the Shabtai Tzvi movement that led many Jews astray. Some claim that Rabbi Landau retracted his objection to the l’shem yichud later in life.[8]


[1] Knesset Yisrael, based on Shemot 35:4.

[2] OC 60:4.

[3] Tzettel Katan 4. See also Kedushat Levi, Shemot; Kav Hayashar 5.

[4] Sha’arei Halacha U’minhag (Chabad) 1:139.

[5] Or L’yisharim, cited in Minhag Yisrael Torah, OC 8:1.

[6] Noda B’Yehuda, YD 93.

[7] Minhag Yisrael Torah, OC 8:1.

[8] Minhag Yisrael Torah, OC 8:1.

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com

73 comments

  1. It’s not “hard to digest” at all. The plain meaning of the text is that God’s name is, somehow, “broken” (God forbid), and needs to be “united.” This is one of two things:

    1. Heresy.

    2. Has some deep kabbalistic meaning (if you believe in such things) that most of us are not privy to.

    A rationalist rav of my acquaintance, a prominent talmid of the Rav, pointed out that even if #2 is correct, it is strictly forbidden to recite something whose meaning you don’t know, especially if, with the lack of knowledge, it’s only #1.

    So much for l’shem yichud- I promptly stopped saying it. I eventually dropped the “hininei mechavens” as well (for some reason, I held out on tallit and tefillin longer than the others, but dropping them* gives lots of time): After all, birkot hamitzvot were created for exactly this reason. What’s next, saying l’shem yichuds on l’shem yichuds? I’m very happy with what Chazal gave us, thank you.

    *Interestingly, this was also recommended by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The reason given in his siddurim is that chassidim were giving so much importance to the l’shem yichud that they went without doing the mitzvah altogether if they negelectedt to say it.

    R’ Enkin, I’m afraid this post was typical of the complaints some have had. You’ve presented a very one-sided view. For example, there is zero acknowledgement here that many people simply don’t say any of this. You know the rest…

  2. R. Enkin:

    you offer various explanations for le-shem yichud, but you don’t refer even once to lurianic kabbalah and the role it ascribes to man in effecting the unity of the godhead? maybe i’m wrong, but i always assumed *this* was the background to the spread of the le-shem yichud invocation. i would have expected this explanation to be the central one.

    “It is believed that reciting such a declaration of intent will better prepare a person’s heart and mind for the holy act he is about to perform.”

    a hineni muchan declaration sans the phrase of le-shem yichud would work just as well.

    “It is also likely that the practice of reciting l’shem yichud derives from the requirement that one must have the proper intentions in mind when performing a mitzva in order to properly discharge one’s obligation”

    again, if this were the case a declaration sans the phrase of le-shem yichud would work just as well.

    “This fierce opposition to what seems to be a completely innocuous and even praiseworthy practice is difficult to digest.”

    no it isn’t. isn’t it the height of arrogance to assume that our earthly actions have the ability to effect changes in the nature of god himself?

    “It is suggested that Rabbi Landau may have believed”

    acc. to wiki there is no need for suggestions wrt to what he may have believed. the minhag is mezalzel on previous generations who didn’t have it (this is in the direct quote wiki). the minhag departs from the nusach of anshi keneset hagedola. the theo-reparative effect of the mitzvos stems from the actual performance of the commandment itself.

    “There are also grounds to suggest that Rabbi Landau retracted his objection to the l’shem yichud later in life”

    what are those grounds?

  3. r. enkin:

    i see now nahum’s comment and critique:

    “For example, there is zero acknowledgement here that many people simply don’t say any of this”

    i persnonally don’t read this posts for halacha le-maase, so i don’t really care if you that you didn’t provide dissenting views other than the noda biyehuda (and even with you conclude by leaving the impression that even this opposition is irrelevant because maybe he retracted it). but i do think you need to be more robust (or even accurate) in your presentation of the taamei haminhag. i know i’m repeating myself, but how can you open the post with acknowledgement that this is a kabbalistic formula but then not explain what it kabbalistic about it?

    (skoyach in any case)

  4. Nachum and Abba-

    Thanks for the pointers. But please keep in mind that I actually work hard to keep these posts short. Of the course there is much more that can be said, but this is not always the forum.

    ***

    I saw somewhere that Rav Landau retracted his opposition. If I find the source I will post it.

    Ari Enkin

  5. Preparing one’s heart for the mitzvah… That is arguably one of the roles of the birkhas hamitzvah. It’s like a prelude to the prelude of the mitzvah.

    I sort of agree with R’ Nachum’s point. I do believe it was written with some deep qabbalistic meaning. I think he is confusing his own opinion on the reality of that meaning with the question of whether the author of Lesheim Yichud had a similar doubt. Regardless of whether one buys into the system or not, it’s pretty clear the author did.

    I personally don’t doubt that the Ari’s model of creation is no less accurate than any other model we’ve come up with. What is implied in Lesheim Yichud that wasn’t already implied by Zechariah’s “bayom hahu yihyeh H’ Echad ushemo echad”? I don’t understand how the Rambam would handle that pasuq; it’s roughly the same problem.

    But, since all this is only understood by a few elite, how can anyone else say words that are either rattled off without kavanah or create heretical thoughts while saying them?

  6. Micha: Indeed, how can one?

    Zecharia may simply mean that all the world will acknowledge God. When you say “Yached shem yud-heh v’vav-heh” you’re straying much closer to saying that Hashem’s name has been split in two and you’re rectifying that.

  7. The Nodah B’yehudah’s objection was that it is a Chassidic innovation (that’s what he means by “Chadashim mikarov ba’u”) and the suggestion that it is necessary impugns all the generations of gedolim who didn’t say it. As he says explicitly.

  8. Lawrence Kaplan

    R. Enkin: We have an explicit teshuvah of the NB strongly criticizing the recitation of le-Shem yihud. And then some unverified rumor that late in his life he retracted it. Give me a break. What’s next? Thar the Teshivah of the Hatam Sofer on Metzitzah BePeh was a horaat sha’ah. Or, better, that the Rambam late in life became a Kabbalist?!

  9. Prof. Kaplan-

    Ouch. A little too snappy there. There is no shortage of poskim who were “chozer” on their psak liater in life – in all areas – whtether l’chumra or kula. This is especially true for somethign like this that is likely more “hashkafa” [read: politics] than “halacha”.

    Is it reliable, not sure. Could it have happned — absolutely.

    Ari Enkin

  10. “There is no shortage of poskim who were “chozer” on their psak liater in life – in all areas – whtether l’chumra or kula. ”

    Indeed. I’ll bet you didn’t know that the Arizal was chozer on his support for saying “l’shem yichud” and regretted ever having introduced the concept and told his students not to, but by then the custom had already spread too far for it to be stopped. This isn’t written anywhere, but I have a mesorah for it.

    For the record – for anyone who didn’t realize – the above is sarcastic and I have no intention to add to the distortions which are already present in halachic discourse…

  11. Lawrence Kaplan

    I’m sorry for being sharp. But we have too many examples of where people try to explain away inconveient pesakim or attitudes by saying, without any evidence, “he didn’t mean it, he retracted it,” etc. Another good example is the NB about shaving on Hol Ha-Moed.

  12. Regarding the “hineni muchan” before sefirat haomer, I have heard that it contradicts the “harachaman” which we say afterwards. The former says that we are doing the mitzvah “as is written in the Torah” – implying that the mitzvah is deoraita. The latter is a formulaic request for the Temple to be rebuilt, implying that the mitzvah is a zecher lemikdash, which is derabanan. If it’s derabanan, as implied by the last line, the “hineni muchan” makes you guilty of bal tosif!

  13. Re posthumous retractions, see this post discussing the Noda Bi-Yehudah’s son’s adamant rejection of such a suggestion: https://www.torahmusings.com/2011/03/posthumous-retractions/

  14. Black Hatted Sheep

    “Is it reliable, not sure. Could it have happned — absolutely.”
    Seriously?! I am normally an advocate of civil discourse, but if that’s your justification for including the suggestion that the NB changed his mind, you cannot fault R’ Kaplan’s incredulous reaction.
    Unfortunately, you’ve just done some serious damage to your credibility with that, as well as with your failure to at least mention how many kehilos do not recite l’shem yichud today, even if you do not cite their reasons for the omission.

  15. Black Hatted Sheep-

    Ill check the “Minhag Yisrael Torah” again for who said what, but if it damages my credibility by reporting what I read somewhere, then I am happy to damage it.

    Ari Enkin

  16. R. MICHA:

    “What is implied in Lesheim Yichud that wasn’t already implied by Zechariah’s “bayom hahu yihyeh H’ Echad ushemo echad”?”

    the kabbalistic intentions

    R. ENKIN:

    “Thanks for the pointers.”

    thanks for these posts

    “But please keep in mind that I actually work hard to keep these posts short.”

    of course, this is a blog post, not a phd dissertation. but in the effort to be concise you can misrepresent the subject with a glaring ommission. and this post didn’t have to be a dissertation. just one more paragpraph on the origins.

    “Is it reliable, not sure. Could it have happned — absolutely.”

    well anything could have happened.

  17. “if it damages my credibility by reporting what I read somewhere, then I am happy to damage it.”

    Then just say “Some claim that he retracted.” If you say “There are grounds that he retracted” then you are making your own claim, and you are putting your own credibility on the line.

  18. Black Hatted Sheep

    I wasn’t commenting on your citing the Minhag Yisrael Torah. My issue is with your admission that you are not sure about its reliability, but nevertheless included it because a retraction was within the realm of possibility.

  19. Natan-

    Thanks for that. I should have better explained what I saw in the Minhag Yisrael Torah. I didnt know that one sentence would cause such a ruckous. I’m impressed, actually.

    Ari Enkin

  20. a modicum of research would have produced a reference to the origins according to Rabbi Elazar Felkeles zt”l (the outstanding pupil of the Noda’ BiYehudah and successor of his Rabbinical position) in his Teshuvah Meiahavah (Responsa, I, 90), it was introduced in about 5300.

    A fierce discussion arose in their era about saying it. The author of Chavos Yair zt”l (Responsa, 210), who was asked to explain it, humbly replied that he didn‟t understand it. However, with the spread of the Chassidic movement, which adopted many Kabbalistic elements, saying Lesheim yichud has become widespread. The author of Noda’ BiYehudah zt”l (Responsa, 1st ed., Y.D.
    93, and see 2nd ed., O.C. 107) strongly opposed saying it in the light of the era of the ill-famed Shabsai Tzevi and the consequent limitations imposed on learning Kabbalah (Sukas Shalom, kelal 2).

    some explain that the Noda BiYehudah‟s suspicions related to those hidden intentions and unifications of Names that can be easily confused, as is apparent from his words (Responsa Chesed LeAvraham; Responsa ‘Arugas HaBosem, O.C. 16, os 1, cited in Hachanah Lemitzvah ‘al yedei Dibur).

    maybe you need to readjust your internet filters – its on daf yomi.org web site (i didn’t bother with academic scholarship but mucj inked has been spilled there too). doesn’t seem like there is any issue of a retraction.
    “This fierce opposition to what seems to be a completely innocuous and even praiseworthy practice is difficult to digest.” another spot where a modicum of research would not produce this sentence.

  21. Rabbi Enkin, quite the opposite i suspect. many years later, the story is that the chassidim paid the printer to change the wording in the tshuvah which read: “tzaddikim yailchu vah ve’chassidim yekashlu vah” back to the actual passuk – “tzaddikim yailchu vah u’reshaim yekashlu vah.” perhaps only a rumor, the nodah beyudah (or his son) said: I turned reshaim into chassidim and the chassidim turned chassidim back to reshaim.

  22. I agree with those who both oppose the general public saying “leshem yichud..” and the tone of this post. Who cares what the author of Minhag Yisroel Torah claims about Rav Landau? The very strong opposition of the Nodah Biyehudah to the Hassidic innovations is well known (“vachasidim yikashlu bah”). Besides, the conventional nusach of the leshem yichud, “leshem yichud kudsha berich hu ushechinitai al yedei hahu tamir vene’elam, beshem kol yisroel” can be interpreted as a kind of invocation of the Christian belief in a trinitarian deity. Here you have the deity, the holy spirit, and some mysterious hidden entity. One assumes that that entity is the messianic figure who will bring about the return of the Jewish people to their land and thus end the period of “shechina begalut”. Yet, there is a danger of misinterpretation (especially when encouraged by Christian propagandists). In any case, such a cosmic change is not in our power to effect by the mere act of individuals doing mitzvot.

  23. As I heard it, the simplest reason to oppose saying L’Shem Yichud is that that is not why we are doing the mitzvah — we are doing it because God commanded, pure and simple.

    This formula expresses one’s intention to fulfill a mitzva for the sole sake of serving God as well as to request that God’s Divine Presence join in one’s performance of the imminent mitzva.

    Not quite. “L’shem yichud kudsha b’rich hu u-schinteh bi-d’chilu u-r’chimu l’yached shem Y”K b’V”K bi-y’chuda shlim, b’shem kol yisrael.”

    English translation: “For the sake of unification of the Holy One, Blessed is He, and His Presence, in fear (awe; reverence) and love, to unify the Name Y”K with V”K (which together comprise the full Divine Name, YKVK) in a complete unity, in the name of all Israel.”

  24. Aside from the Yichud Hashem issues, I’ve always been troubled in saying that I’m doing anything “b’shem kol yisrael” — isn’t that yuhara?

  25. The Minhag Yisrael Torah cites the Ketzeh Hamateh 585:9 and Vayoel Moshe, Yishuv Eretz Yisrael 47 and others who argue that the Noda Beyuda was ‘chozer’ or at least would be post-Shabtai Tzvi.

    I rest my case.

    Ari Enkin

  26. “This fierce opposition to what seems to be a completely innocuous and even praiseworthy practice is difficult to digest”

    If you translate the words, does it seem innocuous? Performinh a mitzvah “in the name of the unification of the Holy One and his Shechinah” may seem completely innocuous – because you are used to it. But think about what it means, and whether or not it is a sentiment native to or grafted onto Judaism.

  27. “Zecharia may simply mean that all the world will acknowledge God.”

    That sure seems to be how Rashi understood it in his comment to the first possuk in Sheman.

  28. shaul shapira

    “What’s next? … Or, better, that the Rambam late in life became a Kabbalist?!”

    That’s old news.

    http://ishimshitos.blogspot.com/2008/10/some-notes-rambam-and-kabbalah-and-on.html

    “On Rambam and Kabbalah – I saw in V. 3 of Igrot Kodesh of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (letter to R’ Y Leiner – earlier note in same letter discounting Redak and Abravanel (on Yirmiyahu) on Keri and Ksiv is alos of interest) that he has a tradition in his family going back to the Besht that the Rambam was “a great Mekubal”. He questions this based on the statement in Shar HaGilgulim that the Rambam was משמאלא דדיקנא דזעיר אנפין ,etc.”

    I also remember seeing that R Kasher is medayek in the rogachover that the Rambam learned kabbalah sof yamav. (It’s somewhere in mefanayach tzefunos; I don’t remember where.)

    And of course we have the great Rabbi Abulafia who wrote:

    סתרי תורה המפרש את המורה נבוכים בצורה קבלית. נוסח קדום של פירוש זה, בתרגומו הלטיני של פלאוויוס מיתרידאטס יצא לאור על ידי חיים וירשובסקי בשם Liber Redemptionis.

    Hope I didn’t ruin your day.
    🙂

  29. “Another good example is the NB about shaving on Hol Ha-Moed.”

    And sturgeon.

  30. “The Minhag Yisrael Torah cites the Ketzeh Hamateh 585:9 and Vayoel Moshe, Yishuv Eretz Yisrael 47 and others who argue that the Noda Beyuda was ‘chozer’ or at least would be post-Shabtai Tzvi.
    I rest my case.
    Ari Enkin”

    But how is that “grounds to believe that he was chozer”?

  31. Natan-

    That is my trans/explanation of the [intention of the] citations.

    Ari Enkin

  32. If you are merely reporting them making a claim, then say so. But you didn’t. You made an assertion that there really are grounds. Which is why people are jumping on you.

  33. R. ENKIN:

    “The Minhag Yisrael Torah cites the Ketzeh Hamateh 585:9 and Vayoel Moshe, Yishuv Eretz Yisrael 47 and others who argue that the Noda Beyuda was ‘chozer’ or at least would be post-Shabtai Tzvi.”

    aside from va-yoel moshe (presumably the satmar rav), can you please tell this am haaretz what are the dates for the other authors. thanks!

    TAL:

    “That sure seems to be how Rashi understood it in his comment to the first possuk in Sheman.”

    that sure seems to be how all the classic meforshim (so we don’t quibble, by classic i mean mikraos gedolos type) understood it in their comments to the pasuk in zecharia

  34. Lawrence Kaplan

    R. Enkin: What in the world does your comment “or at least would be post-Shabtai Tzvi” mean? And what is the basis for the claim of Ketzeh ha-Mahaneh or Va-Yoel Moshe? Not to mentrion relying on Va-Yoel Moshe a a historical source!

  35. ….uncle

    Ari Enkin

  36. “It is suggested that Rabbi Landau may have believed that the l’shem yichud formula, with its strong mystical connotations, was actually a creation of the Shabtai Tzvi movement that led many Jews astray.”

    Check your source again. No one suggested that it was created by shabtai Tzvi. Rather since the sabbatian movement relied heavily on kabbalistic sources, it would be better to remove all references to kabbalistic ideas.

  37. But how is that “grounds to believe that he was chozer”?

    Their “proof” is that the R. Landau issued a hascoma on a Sefer called Or layesharim which advocates saying leshaym yichud.

  38. Interestingly, Koren Sacks/OU includes both L’Shem and Hineni Mechaven; whereas, Sacks/Authorized (UK) omits L’Shem (but, includes the Hineni Mechaven).

  39. Joseph Kaplan

    A true “uncle” would be to ask Gil to delete the offending sentence from the post. That’s one of the benefits of internet articles; corrections are easy.

  40. R Asher Weiss has a long shiur in one of his sefarim in which he discusses the views of the Nodah BiYehudah and other Acharonim who debate saying Lshem Yichud.

  41. Lawrence Kaplan

    Jr. Thanks. At least we now know what the dubious grounds are. As if Rabbis agree with all the views set forth in books to which they give haskamot!

    Joseph: R. Enkin doesn’t even have to delete the sentence. All he has to do is to follow R. Slihkin’s advice and change it to “Some claim that R. Landau…” How about it R. Enkin?

  42. “A true “uncle” would be to ask Gil to delete the offending sentence from the post. That’s one of the benefits of internet articles; corrections are easy”

    Sounds positively Orwellian.

    THe better practice, IMO, is to add a note at the end that mentions the issue and retracts the claim, if that is what is intended.

  43. IH: The Koren Hebrew and Rinat Yisrael also have Hinini (“some say”) but not l’shem.

  44. Rafael Araujo

    “Sounds positively Orwellian.”

    🙂

  45. I am not sure if the Nodah BeYehudah cites this source, but the Ritva in Pesachim in discussing Birkas Hamitzvos clearly views Birkas HaMitzvos as a form of preparing ourselves for the mitzvah. Why, as Nachum pointed out, would that not suffice in lieu of reciting a Lshem Yichud before the Birkas HaMitzvah?

  46. Black Hatted Sheep

    Is “uncle” grounds to suggest that Rabbi Enkin has retracted?
    🙂

  47. Nachum — In fairness, Rinat Yisrael does have both in their Nusach S’farad Siddur (Nusach Ashkenaz as you say has Hinneni, but not L’Shem; their Adot ha’Mizrach Siddur has neither).

    What I am curious about — in terms of the sociology lurking behind this post — is why the (Nusach Ashkenaz) Koren Sacks/OU includes L’Shem. And more ironically, perhaps, that L’Shem presumably also appears in the Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur since it uses the same Siddur text as Koren/OU per previous discussions here (perhaps someone who owns it can check).

  48. That passage in V’yoel Moshe by the Satmar Rebbe zt”l is as plausible as the rest of his ma’amar yishuv eretz yisrael, which is a lengthy attempt to “prove” that even the Ramban held there is no mitzvah of yishuv eretz yisrael b’zman hazeh (he took it as a given that the Rambam held that way)

  49. If L’Shem Yichud… somehow enhances the Mitzvah which it precedes, presumably by focusing and preparing the mind, then the L’Shem Yichud… should perhaps itself be preceded by another L’Shem Yichud to ensure the L’Shem Yichud is performed properly. And so on ad infinitum. Don’t we have sufficient duties and obligations in our Siddurim without adding largely meaningless (to the masses) additions?

  50. I don';t get it

    Rabbi Enkin –

    With all due respect, once again some very serious flaws in your methodology are seen here.

    How can you rely on partisan Chassidishe works, which have an inherent bias, when it comes to controversial matters in which Chassidim and non-Chassidim argued?

    The workd you cite are not neutral works, they are by Chassidic partisans. How can you cite them with such acceptance as if they were neutral works?

  51. Lawrence Kaplan

    Again, R. Enkin could have defused all this criticism by simply changing “There are also grounds for suggesting that….” to “Some claim that…,” although I personally would have preferred “Some (very dubiously) claim that….”

  52. My edition of the Siddur HaGra , while containing the Lshem Yichud, notes in an asterisked footnote that the Gra was opposed to saying Lshem Yichud and other similar “yichudim” prior to the performance of a Mitzvah.

  53. While one can certainly question the role of saying the Lshem Yichud, I would suggest that as the period of Sefiras HaOmer is viewed as a time for preparation for Kabalas HaTorah, that one can work striving for acquiring the 48 Midos set forth in the Braisa of Kinyan Torah which are viewed as prerequisites for an individual’s Kinyan Torah.

  54. I don’t think most Litvishe yeshivos are noheig to say it. Lakewood certainly is not.

  55. IH: Interestingly, the new all-Hebrew Koren puts it back in.

    It just occurred to me that Misnagdim don’t worry what Chassidish rebbes may have said, and don’t make up bubbe meyses about how they “changed their minds” at the end or didn’t really mean it (and burn books stating disagreements, as happened with the Gra’s biography). Only Chassidim seem to be that insecure- or perhaps too committed to “daas Torah” to allow for any disagreement.

    Steve: It’s well-known that most if not all siddurim with some famous name on them (Amram Gaon, Saadiah Gaon, Rashi, etc. etc.) are simply modern siddurim with hanhagot added. I’ve seen Nusach Sfrad Emden siddurim. Obviously, he didn’t daven Nusach Sfard.

    As to the Sefirah, mah inyan shemittah etzel har sinai? (As I recently learned is a secular Israeli expression too. Appropriate for this week in Israel, of course.)

  56. The infamous sentence has been changed!

    Ari Enkin

  57. I believe the minhag in YU as well is not to say lishem yichud

  58. Hi R’ Enkin,

    This is probably a silly question but in the leshem yichuds (for example before counting the omer), it says leshem yichud……..leyached shem yud hey bevav hey….are you meant to say it as it is written or do you say yud key vav key?

    Thanks

  59. Avrohom-

    I’ve seen talmidei chachamim say:

    1. yud-hey-vav-hey
    2. yud-key-vav-kay
    3. ya-b’vah

    I do #1 but never really looked into it.

    Ari Enkin

  60. R’ Ari — I assume you’ve unintentionally missed the conjunctive “Ve” in your itemization above. My understanding is that it is 1 with the conjunctive as Avrohom wrote out: Yud-Hey Ve’Vav-Hay. And without casting aspersions, I have a hard time believing a learned Kabbalistic would say 2 or 3.

  61. Learned kabbalist (by which I mean someone who is both a Talmid Chacham and a Mekubal in the Kabbalistic sense).

  62. Yes – I did miss that. But is it “Ve” or “B'”?? (ie: “B’vav hay”)

    Ari Enkin

  63. STEVE:

    “My edition of the Siddur HaGra , while containing the Lshem Yichud, notes in an asterisked footnote that the Gra was opposed to saying Lshem Yichud and other similar “yichudim” prior to the performance of a Mitzvah.”

    acc. to nulman, encyclopedia of jewish prayer, p. 229, the gra “also opposed saying the formula leshaym yihud as well as hineni mukhan umezuman . . . since precepts do not require kavanah” (citing otz din umin, p. 178; cf. also siddur ha-gra, ishay yisrael, 1974, p. 35, note)

  64. Vet, according to all the siddurim I have which include the L’Shem.

  65. FWIW nulman says this is a hasidic and sephardi practice. the ashkenaz artscroll i used last night said some congregation have the custom to say it.

    r. enkin:

    “The infamous sentence has been changed!”

    i’m sorry but this post is still terribly misleading

    1) it has been repeatedly been pointed out in this thread that the noda biyehuda says be-ferush why he opposed it.
    why do you need to “suggest” in the post reasons for his opposition, as if he didn’t say so himself?
    at least write why he opposed it and then state you don’t think this fully accounts for the vehemence and then offer your conjecture.

    2) your explanation of le-shem yihud just plain ignores the peshat. it reflects the theo-reparative aspects of practical kabbalah. you can offer later or your own explanations, but be clear these are post facto for those not comfortable with the kabbalistic implications.

  66. It seems to me this post highlights a point Rabbi Sperber makes in his book On Changes in Jewish Liturgy:

    Many of the changes that have come about, or that are coming about, will gradually become accepted in any case without a full awareness of the fact. If you look at modern siddurim such as Artscroll, Rinat Yisrael, or Koren, they incorporate many changes of which most people are not fully aware, but which have become completely accepted mainly because they are in a printed edition. The printed book has become the canon. Even its mistakes have been canonized.

    The fact that these now appear in all, it seems, current Koren Siddurim portends that R’ Ari’s narrative is becoming normative. Steve’s example too: why on earth would a Siddur ha’GRA include this, even with a footnote? And how long before the footnote falls away, or is further diluted by this narrative?

    Perhaps ironically, the corrective is academic historical analysis, but that won’t work for those who reject such analysis in favor of “mesorah” (such as this post).

  67. Mea culpa — the last 2 paragraphs at 9:56am are mine, not Rabbi Sperber’s. The book quotation should have ended at “canonized.”

  68. Abba's Rantings

    IH:

    “Steve’s example too: why on earth would a Siddur ha’GRA include this, even with a footnote?”

    for the same reason there is a nusach sefard siddur of r. emden.
    people are interested in the nusach of the gra, r. emden, etc., but they still want a siddur that matches what is the contemporary minhag, either for personal use or to match the minyan they daven in. nothing wrong with this per se.

    same story btw with the the rav’s siddurim that are now being published. i had bought the yom kippur mahzor when it first came out (nothing after that). but if it was published nusach sefard (as the rav davened) i would not have bought it. it would not have been practical. similarly, the rav’s nuscha’ot and minhagim iirc are not integral to the text but in a preface.

    would you oppose a gra siddur that includes the tefila for tzahal with a footnote indicating that he (obviously) didn’t say it?

  69. Two answers, Abba:

    1. Assuming one accepts the artificiality of such a siddur, surely there is a difference between including something that did not exist at the time — your example of the T’filla for Tzahal — and something that the “author” explicitly opposed.

    2. I intellectually object to the artificiality you describe. If someone ones Siddur ha’GRA or Siddur R. Emden because they are interested in the Nusach, they should use a text for that purpose which really is (as best we know) that Rav’s nusach. Making a contemporary nusach by synthesizing all sorts of stuff is nisht ahin, nisht aher and ultimately risks corrupting the very text that was originally of interest.

  70. IH wrote:

    “Steve: It’s well-known that most if not all siddurim with some famous name on them (Amram Gaon, Saadiah Gaon, Rashi, etc. etc.) are simply modern siddurim with hanhagot added. I’ve seen Nusach Sfrad Emden siddurim. Obviously, he didn’t daven Nusach Sfard.”

    FWIW, my edition of Siddur HaGra ( Nusach Ashkenaz), which is a 2008 reprint, is entitled Sidur Ishei Yisrael MeHaGra , which includes the Perushim Avnei Eliyahu, Siach Yitzchak on the Tefilos, Seder Maaseh Rav, Shealtos and Keser Rosh from R Chaim Volozhin ZL, as well as marginial notes quoting the Gra’s hanhagos, and references to MB, as well as Perushim Al derech HaPshat to Shir HaShirm and Avos.

  71. Let me amend my prior post. I had only remembered the Leshem nusach before Baruch She’amar. Upon checking my sidurim for the corresponding nusach for sefirat ha’omer, I find the following:
    “L’shem yichud kudsha b’rich hu u-schinteh bi-d’chilu u-r’chimu l’yached shem Y”K b’V”K bi-y’chuda shlim, b’shem kol yisrael.”
    This nusach is even more problematic than the “leshem yichud kudsha..ushechyinteh al yedei hahu tamir vene’elam..” since it implies, as Nachum noted, that:
    “The plain meaning of the text is that God’s name is, somehow, “broken” (God forbid), and needs to be “united.”.
    The implication is that not only is such a “repair” needed, but that the individual reciting these words has the power to effect it. In some circles, that idea would be regarded as heretical. I realize that such ideas are commonplace in kabbalistic works, but why should anyone not involved in kabbalah say it? Mouthing words that may be problematic without any understanding of its rationale is foolish. Is tefila to be considered a magical rite or merely customary mumbo jumbo? Such mouthings don’t assist real kavanah; they detract from it. It should be considered demeaning to publish a siddur for the general public with such incantations. Why, in the world, is it in the Koren siddur?

    Of course, the Leshem yichud is not the only instance where people mumble stuff in davening which they don’t begin to understand. How many people davening nusach Sefard understand the “kegavnah” said at the end of the kabbalat shabbat tefilot? The worst example, however, could be found in some old machzorim for Rosh Hashana where there is a “kavanah” to be said after each set of shofar sounds that includes the phrase, “al yedei Yeshua sar hapenim”. If that isn’t a heretical notion, I don’t know what is.

  72. Y. Aharon, as I was reading your post, I was anticipating your last bit. The funniest version is, in fact, Koren’s, which says, “Some don’t say this and some say it’s assur to say it.” So…why include it at all?

  73. Nachum- pluralism – orthodox version.

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