Sunday, March 30, 2008

What's the Yetzer Hara Behind "Shalosh Sheudos" Speeches?

For various reasons, last night I davened at a Shul other than the one I usually daven in for Maariv after Shabbos and after making Shalosh Sheudos at home. I had the misfortune of being there early and hearing what that Shul's regularlar mispalelim experience in place of a regular Shalosh Sheudos each week.

Baruch Hashem, the Shul I daven at really knows how to do Shalosh Sheudos. It is my understanding that the time of Shalosh Sheudos is the holiest part of Shabbos. It is called Ra'ava D'ra'avon, ratzon shebaratzon, the most desirous time of Shabbos. It is a time of growth in ruchnius. It is a time of dibuk Chavreirim, connecting as friends, zmiros, niggunim, divrei Torah, and divrei hisorerus, words that uplift. This is how Shalosh Sheudos is spent in my Shul and I guess I have become pampered by that and have forgotten what kinds of experiences other Jews are subjected to at the time of Shalosh Sheudos.

In the Shul I visited last night, there was, first of all, no seuda at all. In it's place the people were subjected to a rabbi/professor, who was telling over some interesting article written by another rabbi/professor. The topic involved a little bit of Torah, a modicum of intellectual stimulation and absolutely no ruchnius, spirituality. Given my lack of exposure in recent times to such fare, I was mortified that such a thing was going on in an orthodox Shul.

My question is, though, why would a Shul have such speeches during Shalosh Sheudos, the holiest part of Shabbos?! Is a seuda with singing and divrei Torah/divrei hisorerus really so much less interesting than speeches by rabbi/professors?

I think that the answer is that it's escapism. One has to be somewhat active and intersted to appreciate a really nice and uplifting Shalosh sheudos. But if your soul is thirsting for something greater at the holiest time in Shabbos, but you're not ready to give it that because it might involve some feeling of wanting/actual spiritual growth, then the the best way to take your mind off of that feeling is just to listen to some speech that gets your mind off of ruchnius, and keeps the soul asleep till the time that you really look forward to, Motzoi Shabbos, with its pizza, movies and even more exciting six-days-of-the-week distractions.

It's sad but I think that's really what these "Shalosh Sheudos speeches" are really all about. Just passing the time and keeping your mind off of ruchnius till Shabbos will finally be over.

Give me a nice warm Shalosh Sheudos over such dry, soul-numbing fare anytime!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of video is of Shalosh Sheudos [taken after Shabbos] of Krechniv rebbe of Yerushalayim)

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Jaren said...

My dear Dixie! I expect better from you! Where's your dan l'kaf zechus? You sound so biting and nasty in this post. Criticizing pizza on Sat. night would perhaps be valid (except that too is a mitzvah of melava malka). But criticizing other Yiddin who are learning Torah? Sure, they're not doing shalosh seudos in chassidic style, etc. but they are learning Torah!

Jaren said...

This post is def. not Rav Levi Yitzchak from Berdichivesqe! Give Yiddin, esp. those not given the chinuch and exposure that you have been given, a break.

DixieYid said...

Jaren, I appreciate what you're saying. Which is why I was debating about whether to post this or not.

But a couple of things. One is that you can't ignore bad things completely. I generally focus on the positive but you have to speak against things that are wrong so that people who may not have thought about the issue before will hear thoughts about what's right.

Also, on the dan l'kaf zechus aspect, two points. One is that I phrased it that people are "subjected to" this type of Shalosh Sheudos replacement because perhaps with better leadership, this wouldn't be as big of a problem. It's not entirely their fault if the leadership is foisting this type of program on them.

On the other hand, the point of the post *was* an aspect of dan l'kaf zechus. There are two ways to view such a sad sight as what I saw. One is to look at the people as bad and low people. The other way is to say that these people really do have a spiritual sense for what they should be accomplishing during that time. But that for whatever reason in their lives, they don't feel capable of accessing that. Therefore, they feel their only option is to escape from that feeling by listinging to some speech to get their mind off of it. That is a big dan l'kaf zechus. They wouldn't have anything to escape from if they didn't have great potential to begin with.

Also, as to learning Torah, although technically true on some level, it's not equivalent with what Chabadniks do, by learning Torah instead of a normal Shalosh Sheudos. Even though that's not appropriate for anyone but Lubavitchers, at least there's an aspect of growth there and an appreciation for the holiness of that part of Shabbos.

-Dixie Yid

Ben Avraham said...

"Sure, they're not doing shalosh seudos in chassidic style, etc. but they are learning Torah!"

It is not about "chassidic style" it's about "Shulchan Aruch" style:

"One should be very careful in holding he third Shabbos meal." O.C. 291:1

"Some authorities hold that it is preferable to say the Minchah prayers first and such in is the practice, initially, in all these lands." Rema O.C. 291:2

"According to all views, the most preferred way of performing the mitzvah is with bread and with two loves..." Mishnah Berurah 291:23

See also O.C. 242:1 and M.B. 242:2

Of course it is great that whenever people learn Torah rather than being m'vatel zman, but lechatichilla we have an avodah at that particular zman and it is unfortunate when bedieved is institutionalized.

I've never been to Dixie Yid's shul but I attend a shalosh sheudos that could be considered loosely affiliated and that shares the varmkeit he speaks of, and it is not to be missed. However I do not believe that Dixie Yid would have made his criticism if it was merely a davar reshus that he felt was uplifting rather than our avodah lechatchilla at that time.

yitz.. said...

I don't believe these people are aware of any alternative..

i know from growing up in a modern orthodox community that if you had told me at age 13 that one day I would be shomer negiyah, have gone through shidduch dating, have peot, and wish i could sit in kollel i would have told you you were absolutely crazy..

i'm sure i would have similarly scoffed and singing/divrei torah at seudah shlishit..

in a lot of ways the time between minchah and arvit on shabbath is really 'dead' time that people are just trying to pass as quickly as possible..

for me it was always a very sad time, because you knew shabbat was leaving, but you couldn't do anything to stop it.. so in a way i think you are right. it is a form of denial .. of the unwillingness and the inability to deal with the reality that shabbath is about to leave us again..

Jaren said...

who says they didn't eat shalosh seudos at home before the shiur was given?

all you had to write, dixie, was the better way to do shalosh seudos without trashing other yidden

Anonymous said...

Which Rebbe is that in the video?
Is he the rebbe you usualy daven by?

DixieYid said...

Ben Avraham,

Thanks for the sources. It's true that Shalosh Sheudos is an obligation. I did not focus on that though because I wanted to hone in on the point that it is not only a halachic problem, a more pervasive issue as well, going to the heart of what keeping Shabbos is about.


You're right that people may not know better in terms of having never seen anything like a Shalosh Sheudos in the video above. I cannot speak to what what Shalosh Sheudos was like in New York while I was growing up (I'm in my early 30's), but the Shuls I was in in my younger years did have a seuda with a few standard niggunim and a d'var Torah by the rabbi. It may not have been with people swaying and having a "religious experience," but it was being done in the traditional way. This idea of skipping Shalosh Sheudos and placing a speech there in its place is not how these people grew up (I think... am I wrong about this?) This is a newly invented way of escaping from Yiddishkeit.


Once in a while you have to acnowledge what is bad so you know what *not* to do. L'havdil, at the Pesach seder, we also say "Shfoch Chamascha." It's not all about geulos and yeshuos. There's a focus on the bad as well.

That's not generally the approach I take in my blog, but it is appropriate to make an exception in a case like this where I saw a practice which upset me.

It's not all puppies and bunnies out there man.

Anon 8:04,

No, as you can see at the bottom of the post, I wrote who the Rebbe is.

-Dixie Yid

Jaren said...

Rav Levi Yitzchak would be very disappointed in you.

And to marshal as a source shefoch chamasch on pple like the Nazis in a discussion about yiddin who perhaps, we're not sure, were not yotzeih shalosh seudos, woe man, take a real powerful chill pill

Jasmine said...

Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation
(, an organization dedicated to raising the quality of interpersonal relationships. Here is a partial quote from the orange juice container:

People do not always speak or act as we would wish. As a result, we sometimes feel impelled to embark upon a rough road of anger or disappointment.

But there is another path -- a high road -- that bypasses anger and strife and leads instead to a life of tranquility. That road is marked by the well-known phrase, "the benefit of the doubt."

Seeing someone else's mistake in the best light does not mean we are naive. It means we have the insight to know that misunderstanding, inexperience, worry and stress are usually behind the offending acts of otherwise well-meaning people.

DixieYid said...


See the second article linked to HERE, at the Center for Jewish Values, a group of kollelim which study hilchos bein adam l'chaveiro.

-Dixie Yid

Ben Avraham said...


I recognize that you did not emphasize the halachic side of the equation (which is why I stepped in :) ). That being said the aspects you did focus on, the potential you described, is rooted in the halachic obligation. Like I said, if this was a function that you and your shul simply chose to do, I doubt your criticism would have been what it was regardless of how personally uplifting you found it.