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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ask Rabbi Pinky: Searching for Divine Wonders on Shabbos Koidesh

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THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Ask Rabbi Pinky: Surfing the Internet for the Reboinoisheloilum’s Niphlaois on Shabbos Koidesh


This week’s Shailah comes from a Minuval Talmid living in the great community of London, a place where classical Koisher British cuisine is only rivaled by the succulent creativity of Indian and Pakistani feasts, with their delectable mélange of diverse flavors and odors that recall what the Bais Hamikdash must have smelled like every week before Shabbos Koidesh.
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Harav Hagoin Reb Pinky

I have a question none of the Menuval Rabbonim in Golders Green can answer (they keep saying it’s Assur – whatever that means), and I’m sure with all your learning you’d be able to help.

My Bashert “Yentyl with the Groisse Boobellech” bought me Eppes a Moderne Sach called a “Kindle”, something that helps you read. She bought it for me for a Hailiger St. Valentine’s Yomtiff present. My question is, am I allowed to read from it or to surf porn on Shabbos Koidesh, Rachmana Litzlan?

Please help me.

Your Talmid

Reb Mordechele

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Oy, Reb Mordechele, I am so pleased and honored that you have graced me with this Shailah which your local Moireh D’Asra is not equipped to address. A chicken with a nick in its neck, he can handle. (“Traiffus!”) A psak on Nidah, he can deliver. (“No soup for you, two weeks!”) Even a complex understanding of Toirah, he can interpret. (“How is it that Avraham Avinu served his guests milk, butter and freshly slaughtered meat at the beginning of Parshas VaYayrah? Why, the milk was soy of course, and the butter was Pareve margarine!”)

But your Shailah calls for a more nuanced understanding of the roots of Halacha, and requires deep insight into the human condition. So who else could you reach out to besides me? After all, it was I who advised Sir Paul McCartney to once again marry a Jew, if only because her proud heritage and professional stature enable her to stand on her own two feet.
In any case, to address this question, we must break the Shailah down into its commensurate parts:

-- Shabbosh Koidesh – Can electricity be used?

-- Pornography – Is this a mortal sin, or a reward for putting in a long day at the office?

But first I must ask you a simple question about this St. Valentine’s Yuntif – Is this a Yuntif identified by the Gemarrah? I am not familiar with it. Is it from the Rishoinim? But they were too busy running from the Crusaders to declare a new holiday. So I guess this must be a Sephardic Minhag of which I am not aware. I am not sure why they would have created a Yuntif named after a mediocre Major League Baseball manager. But Nisht Gerferlech. Ah Gutten Yuntif to you!

(Of course, you are British and will not understand the reference to American baseball. Suffice it to say – It is a sport like cricket, only an individual game [match] lasts two hours instead of two days. It’s kind of like the difference between a quick Mussaf, and a Chazzan who Dreys on and on and on until you pray to Hakadoshboruchhu to open up the ground underneath your feet like He did with Koirach, Yemach Shemoi, so that the suffering can end already. So there is a much lower level of Tircha DeTzibburah. Shoyn.)

So your Zaftig Bashert wife purchased for you a Kindle, Eppis. On the one hand, you are concerned that this device runs on electricity, and may be Assur DeRabbanan to use on Shabbos Koidesh. On the other hand, the device itself is called a Kindle, and, of course, Licht Benchen, kindling candles in honor of Shabbos, is a Dioraisa. So certainly a Dioraisa outweighs a DeRabbanan. So Avadah, what greater Mitzvah can you possibly have than using a Kindle on Shabbos Koidesh?

Next, we must address the Shailah of pornography. There is a famous Machloikess in Masechess Baba Kama Sutra between Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel on whether a Jew may look at pornography. According to Bais Shammai, pornography is never permitted, unless someone is located in a prison with a bunch of other men, in which case pornography is considered to be for “medicinal purposes”. But according to Bais Hillel, pornography is always permitted. The Gemarra goes onto explain: “Bameh Devarim Amurim?”, “When were these words said?”, when discussing a married man. But “Kooley Alma Loi Pligi”, everyone agrees”, that an unmarried man may look at pornography all day and all night. According to Rav Sheshess, “Toirah Loi BaShamayim Hee, You can try to make it Assur, but no one is going to listen to you anyway. So why bother.”

The Gemarra further cites the reasoning of Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel. Says Rav Pappa, the reason that Bais Shammai holds that a married man may not look at pornography is because it might lead him to be Moitzee Zerah LeVatalah, it might lead him to spill his seed outside of coitus, Chass V’Sholom.

However, says Rav Pappa, Bais Hillel holds Farkhert “out of respect for marriage”. What does this mean? Rav Pappa says a beautiful Vort: When a newly married couple is alone in the same room, they see each other’s physical beauty, and they have a Taivah to engage in marital relations. It is a Mitzvah, and an enactment of the will of the Aimishteh. However, after a man and woman are married for twenty years, when they look at one another, they do not see each others’ physical beauty, even when their looks have been preserved. The man and woman look at each other and see the person whose flatulence they have smelled every night for the last twenty years. They look at one another and see tuition bills, tax bills, credit card bills, the upcoming Bar Mitzvah bills, bills for replacing the roof, car lease bills, wedding bills not too far in the distance, etc. They see aging, infirm parents and rebellious teenagers. They see the schmuck across the street doing construction, and the putz up the block who leases a new Lexus every two years.

So if looking at pornography helps a man forget his current woes and returns the Taivah for his wife, if only for six minutes or so, then it is not only NOT Assur, but it is a Mitzvas Asey SheHazman Grammah. (It goes without saying, of course, that since looking at pornography is a Mitzvas Asey SheHazman Grammah, women are exempt from this Mitzvah, and while their husbands are surfing porn on the Internet, women should be reciting Tehilim , baking rugelach, or being Mafrish Challah.)

Now I know that some of my Talmidim, the stubborn pain-in-the-ass ones, will not be convinced by my Psak. For them, they see Halacha through a black and white filter. So I would like to illustrate the flexibility of the Gedoilim in applying Halachic rulings to modern day problems. Yiddishkeit, of course, is not Roman Catholicism; ours is not a religion with a central doctrine filtered through an infallible Pope. Rather, Yiddishkeit is a decentralized structure in which legitimate Rabbinic figures may have differing opinions and Halachic positions, and yet they continue to coexist as a singular cohesive Klal Yisroel.

So let us look at the different approaches taken to address a not-uncommon challenge in everyday life. As we all know, one may not tear toilet paper on Shabbos Koidesh because of a Toldah of Koirayah. But what does one do if he forgets to tear toilet paper on Shabbos and does not have any tissues?

According to the Tzitz Eliezer, in such an instance one may tear toilet paper because of Kvoid HaBriyois, out or respect for the human dignity of the individual.

According to the Schvantz Mordechai, one must not tear the toilet paper, but may use the toilet paper without tearing it, depositing the soiled toilet paper in the toilet without tearing it off of the unused roll. Indeed, there is a famous Maiseh Shehoya about the Schvantz Mordechai. One Shabbos Koidesh, in his home in Bnei Brak, the Schvatz Mordechai forgot to set aside tissues or pre-cut toilet paper. When he woke up on Shabbos morning, he had to… ummm… do his morning Asher Yatzar. Since he did not have pre-cut toilet paper, he used the regular toilet paper, but did not remove the soiled toilet paper from the roll. But he also forgot to discard the paper in the toilet. So after redressing , he walked to Shul, inadvertently dragging along a 200 foot Charmin tail.

Because of this risk, there are a number of Gedoilim who in principle do not use either toilet paper or tissues on Shabbos Koidesh.

Reb Shmiel Kalbasavuah goes outside to relieve himself, and has one of his Talmidim clean up after him.

Reb Yoisaiph Katsky, on the other hand, has a designated private area in his home where he goes to relieve himself, and his Drek is cleaned up after Shabbos Koidesh.

Reb Betzalel Kupkayk goes outside to relieve himself in obscure places, so that no one should Chass VeSholom step in his filth.

Finally, the Pooper Ruv occasionally relieves himself in obscure places in other peoples’ homes, much to the dismay of the Chief Rabbi’s family. VeHamayvin Yavin.

In other words, there is room for debate within Yiddishkeit. Ours is a religion of tolerance. So while your Ruv in Golders Green may not permit the use of a Kindle on Shabbos Koidesh, you should proudly use it for Oineg Shabbos, if only to prepare you for six minutes or so of Oilum Habbah with your Bashert “Yentyl with the Groisse Boobellech”.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

On the Twilight Years

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THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN

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Rabboisai,

I had the occasion last Moitzee Shabbos Koidesh to meet several of my Talmidim at a Melaveh Malka. Besides the Freilichen singing and dancing, we had delightful yellowtail and spicy tuna, although the squid was a little stringy. (I know you are wondering how the Yeshivah could serve squid at a Melaveh Malka. According to the RAMAH one may eat squid and octopus even though they do not have fins and scales, since they neither have shells nor dwell on the ocean floor. However, they must be prepared in a separate pot and eaten with a separate fork. According to the Mogayn Avraham there is even a special Brachah for squid and octopus: “Al Achilas Scungeel”.)

In any case, I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, to learn that these Talmidim read my Drashas every week but have not purchased my Seforim. A Shandah!

Minuvals: Do you think that I am writing Divrei Toirah and selling Sforim for my own good? The proceeds of my Sforim, in addition to paying off my bookie, are used to support my Talmidim in Yeshivah, provide a small stipend to the Buchrim in Koilel, subsidize the restoration of Kever Amalek in Eretz Kena’an, and purchase packages of EZ Wider, 1.5 inches, double gummed, at the local Sforim store, located right above The Jewish Press and across from the beef jerky.

Finally, I would like to remind all of my Talmidim that my Drashas are LeChatchila not meant to be read on an iPhone or other 4 inch screen, or even on a PC or an iPad. MY DRASHAS ARE MEANT TO BE PRINTED OUT AND READ IN SHUL, so that you can look smart sitting two seats away from that Schmuck who kills one tree a week printing out Drashas from Aish HaToirah, Toirah.Org, the Young Israel, and Vatican.Com on such critical Inyunim as why Moishe Rabbeinu never used dental floss on Shabbos and why Aroin HaCoihain always wore striped boxer shorts while performing the Avoidah in the Mishkan.

Shoyn.
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On the Twilight Years

“Al Tashlichainu Le’ais Ziknah, Kichlois Koichainu, Al Ta’Azveinu.” “Do not discard us in our old age; as our strength wanes, do not abandon us.” This phrase, familiar to us from Shma Koilaynu, is rooted in the words of Tehillim, Psalms, written by Dovid Hamelech after his son Shloimoi came by to visit and stole money to support his crack habit. This phrase was later inserted into the Tefillois of Slichois. Of course, in its inclusion into the Shma Koilaynu, the Passuk was transformed from the singular form to the plural.

There is a famous three way Machloikess between the MAHARAL MiPRAGUE, the Toisfois Yuntif, and the Tzemach Dovid about the proper Kavvanah, the proper intent, that one is meant to have when reciting this Passuk.

According to the MAHARAL, when reciting these words, we are supposed to be thinking about our individual selves, despite the transition of the paraphrase into plural form. This is because we are all aging as individuals, and will age in the future, and are pleading to the Reboinoisheloilum for divine assistance. Many men will lose their hair. Many women will have their Tzitzach sag so low to the ground they are in danger of stomping on their nipples every time they take a step. Many men will have erectile dysfunction so frequently that they will have the Bracha of Zoikaif Kefufim tattooed on their arms. Many women, after having a minimum of twelve children, will have their Ervas become so loose that they will be able to carry around their keys, their cellphones, a bagel, and a book to read on Shabbos Koidesh without being Chayuv for the Dioraisah of carrying in Reshus HaRabim, Chass V’Sholom.

The Toisfois Yuntif, however, holds that as we say this Passuk, we are supposed to be concentrating on pleading to Hakadoshboruchhu on behalf of all of Klal Yisroel. Here we are, a proud People, beaten down by all of the other nations, Yemach Shmum, as we pass through the millennia, ravaged by history. We were at eternity’s doorstop, says the Toisfois Yuntif, as our Moshiach arrived to bring about the end of time and initiate an eternity of Divine grace, Toirah, and free parking. However, our Moshiach was rejected by a rebellious clique, and now we await His second coming, as we celebrate Him by making Kiddush on red wine and taking the Eucharist every Sunday morning. Of course, the Toisfois Yuntif was a practicing Roman Catholic, so his Sheetah is not relevant to us, with the possible exception of the utopian vision of adequate street level parking in Oilum Habbah.

Finally, the Tzemach Dovid holds like the Toisfois Yuntif, that as we recite this Passuk we need to have in mind the well being of Am Yisroel. We are suffering the indignities of our collective longevity and feel forgotten after two thousand years of exile. Sure, we control world banking, the global media, and the diamond industry, and have absolutely cornered the market on Kemach Yoshon. And of course we have our own country after two thousand years. But it is filled with corruption and immorality, and is certainly not the redemption that we prayed for, what, with its young girls scantily clad in their long sleeve shirts and long skirts, invading the holy space of the true Shoimrey Emunah, tempting them with their coquettish ways. So we must throw stones and attack this evil amongst us in order to expunge it from our midst, or at the very least get it off of our side of the street, while continuing to pray on behalf of Klal Yisroel that the Aimishteh does not abandon us in our communal old age.

This Halachic debate is actually rooted in a historical question on the proper understanding of the strange story of Avishag HaShunamis. We are told at the beginning of Sefer Melachim Aleph about how Dovid HaMelech, in his deteriorated, elderly state, is given a young woman, Avishag HaShunamis, to keep him warm in his bed. However, we are told, “VeHana’arah Yuffuh Ad Meoid, VaTehee LaMelech Soicheness VaTeshursayhu, VeHamelech Loi Yudu’uh”, “And the young woman was very beautiful, and she became a companion to the king and ministered to him, and (but) the king did not know her.” (Melachim Aleph, Perek Aleph, Passuk Daled.)

There is a famous Machloikess in a Gemarrah in Makkois about what actually happened between Dovid HaMelech and Avishag. According to Rava, Dovid was disinclined to engaged in Znuss with his unmarried concubine because he was too busy studying Toirah. Rava cites a Braisah quoting Rabban Gamliel who insisted that his ancient ancestor Dovid HaMelech was absolutely obsessed with Daf Yoimi and studying Sefer Shemiras HaLashoin, and would ignore everything else: Young maidens in his bed, the occasional son trying to usurp his throne, the many rivalries between his multiple wives, and the all-you-can-eat buffet at the local Red Lobster.

Abaya, on the other hand, believes that Dovid had lost all interest in the Meidelach, but instead loved to spend time with his arms bearer, Horace, with whom he wrestled day and night, if you know what I mean, while poor Avishag had to retreat to bed alone every night with one of David Hamelech’s battery powered spear polishers. According to the RADAK, Klal Yisroel could hear Avishag’s solitary passionate outbursts all the way in Bais Lechem, Rachmanah Letzlan.

However, Rav Chisda holds Farkert. According to Rav Chisda, the term in the Passuk stating that Dovid Hamelech did not “know” Avishag is not to be understood in the traditional Biblical/ Rabbinic sense of not having intimate relations. Adderabbah! Rav Chisda cites a Medrish that suggests that Dovid HaMelech always had Tashmish HaMitah with Avishag immediately after reciting Shmoineh Esrei – that is three times a day during the week, four times a day on Shabbos un Yuntif, and five times a day (!) on Yoim Kippur. And the reason the Passuk says that Dovid did not know her is that he never, once, had an actual conversation with her, since, due to his age, he could only complete the Makka V’Patish when Avishag performed Metzitzah Bipeh on him. So whenever Dovid Hamelech asked Avishag a question about her family or the weather or her philosophical position on euthanasia or her perspectives on supply side economics, she could not respond because she always had a little something stuck in her throat.

Shoyn.

It is without a doubt that Tehillim and the Toirah in general note the impact and ravages of time as part of the collective human experience. Klal Yisroel is portrayed as a nation passing through history, with heroes, leaders and other figures who are not deities or demi-gods, but who are frail, fragile human beings who are born, struggle throughout life, and then, if they do not die young through war or disease, reach the Oilum HaEmess after 120 years. This is part of the inescapable reality that is the human condition. The Zoihar ponders this idea, speculating on the basic nature of humanity. Why, asks the Zoihar, were humans and other living things made mortal, while rocks and other inanimate objects are designed to exist forever?

The Zoihar suggests that humanity’s basic nature is derived from the Sefirah of Yesoid, one of the ten Sefirois, elements of the Godhead, as described in Kabbalah, classical Jewish Mysticism. The Sefirah of Yesoid is responsible for channeling energy into the human world from the other Sefirois of Hoid, Netzach, and Tiferess. In the anthropomorphic understanding of the Divine Sefirois, Yesoid is also viewed as the equivalent of the Shvantsyl, the male Tashmish organ. (Note: This is absolutely true, but the way. Look it up, if you dare…) As such, Yesoid is associated with the organ that participates in a physical act that has an often challenging beginning, a typically pleasurable middle part, and a disruptive culmination, and is frequently followed by a quick cigarette and turning over and going to sleep. In other words, human existence is a reflection of the Divine, which has its own cadence of bio-cycles. While the Reboinoisheloilum is eternal, He embodies processes that involve a beginning, middle, and end, followed by a nap, and then, eventually, renewal.

The ARIZAL, however, takes this thinking one step further. The ARIZAL agrees with the Zoharic conception of humanity being a reflection of the Divine. However, he sees the human condition as in fact directly mirroring Hakadoshboruchhu. Let’s face it: Whether you are a Biblical literalist and believe that the world is 6000 years old, or someone with half a brain who understands that the universe is billions of years old, the Aimishteh is one old Dude. He probably has some grey hair at this point, or no hair at all. Maybe the Yesoid isn’t working quite the way it once did, and maybe at this point the Melech Malchei HaMelachim needs an afternoon nap. Maybe the reason that the Reboinoisheloilum seems to have forgotten the Jews from time to time is not because He is punishing us or trying to teach us a lesson, but because He is actually absent minded, and genuinely forgot about us (Hakadoshboruchhu knows, He has a lot of things to keep track of). Maybe pogroms happened for hundreds of years as He was taking naps, the Spanish Inquisition happened because He was having a pacemaker put in, and the Shoah happened because He was out for a few days (in Aimishteh time) to have His gall bladder removed. And the State of Israel was established after He took a sizable dose of Viagra.

Regardless, “Al Tashlichainu Le’ais Ziknah, Kichlois Koichainu, Al Ta’Azveinu,” just as we do not want to be abandoned in our old age, we should not abandon the Reboinoisheloilum in His twilight years. After all, He is the only Hakadoshboruchhu we’ve got. So we have to nurture the relationship and care for Him, visit Him a bit more often and remind Him to put on His pants. We should not expect Him to be the Aimishteh He once was, at least in our eyes, but have reasonable and realistic expectations about His capabilities and limitations. And most important, we should make sure that He does not sign over all His assets to our goddamned brother, since we need those funds to pay off our bookie and buy some more EZ Wider for rolling our Bsomim, so we can get nice and Freilichin at a future Maleveh Malka.

Ah Freilichin Shabbos, You Minuval.

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Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess

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http://rabbi-pinky.blogspot.com/
http://stores.lulu.com/rapas

Friday, February 03, 2012

Ask Rabbi Pinky – On Tefillah BiTzibbur (Communal Prayer)

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Ask Rabbi Pinky – On Tefillah BiTzibbur (Communal Prayer)


Rav Pinky,

I need the benefit of your wisdom and experience.

We have recently started a Hashkama minyan in my shul, much to the Rav’s dismay. I personally wonder why we should spend 3 hours doing what only takes 1.5 hours, unless of course you are talking about being fruitful and multiplying.

My question to you, Rav Pinky: Is that extra hour and a half spent in the main minyan bitul Torah?

Thank you for your help in clarifying this troubling question.

Your talmid,

Reb Yankel
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Dear Reb Yankel,

Thank you for your critical and insightful question.

Eppis, Tefillah BiTzibbur is a tremendously important and misunderstood mitzvah, so I am glad at least one of my talmidim asks about it, instead of the usual shailah about apikorsus or sexual innuendo, chass ve’sholom. Sadly, there is too much focus on sex in our Dor. When you are sitting in your house, and when you are traveling on your way. When you lie down, and when you get. Too much. It’s dirty. Ichh! Now I need to go the the mikvah with some 300 pound cholent-fressers to get the thought out of my mind…

Now, I would actually characterize your question into a couple of subordinate questions: Does length really matter? And is a little variation good for the relationship? Err… I mean… When it comes to davening, do we care how long the davening is? And how should we consider the occasional aspiration to be Poiraish Min Hatzibur, separating oneself into a different Kehillah, spinning off as a Hashkama minyan, or a chulent-kugel minyan, or a woman’s minyan chass v’sholom, or a “young marrieds” minyan, or a youth minyan, or a gay minyan, or a local chassidishe shtibul, or a Sephardic minyan, etc.

To answer these questions, we will of course begin by looking to our Avois in the Toirah for the principal clues. I ask you, when Avraham Avinu stopped at Ur Hakasdim to daven Shacharis, was it a quick, meaningless Shacharis, like you do everyday, you miserable minuval? Or did Avraham take his time to put on his Tefillin, have the proper kavannah, recite the Karbanois, and make sure not to skip anything? When Yitzchak Avinu davened Mincha, did he mumble through Tachanun? Or did he make sure to say every word, especially when referring to himself during Shmoineh Esray? Did Yankif Avinu, while studying in Yeshivas Shame V’Eyver, skip an occasional Maiyriv to spend a bit more time on the basketball court or to surf porn or the Internet? Or did he daven with Yiras Shamayim even though it was nine o’clock at night and he was missing his favorite TV show? What kind of vilda chaya are you to ask such questions anyway?

No. Tefillah has always been the cornerstone of Yiddishkeit. Even in the desert, Moishe Rabbeinu led Klal Yisroel in Tefillah BiTzibbur. A Medrish in Shmois Rabbah describes the beauty when all of Klal Yisroel surrounded Har Sinai, shuckling in unison during the Shmoineh Esray. There they stood, united in kavvanah, at the height of their communal holiness. Indeed, according to the Medrish, the Aimishteh planned to bring about the redemption right there on the spot, erasing the need for forty years of wandering the desert and for Kibbush Eretz Yisroel. But just as Hakkadoshboruchhu was about to reveal himself, someone in Kehilas Yankif broke wind, offending the Reboinoisheloilum and the rest of the congregation, thereby delaying the Geulah for many millennia.

Even during the period of the Malchuss Bais Duvid, Tefillah was the essence of Klal Yisroel’s relationship with Hakkadoshboruchhu. Sure, there were Koihanim who brought sacrifices in the Bais Hamikdash for spare change; but their trade was established because, nebech, they studied for too many years in yeshiva and couldn’t hold down a real job. So it was either karbanois or selling cell phones.

But for the rest of Klal Yisroel, there was davening. Why else did Duvid HaMelech write all those Tehillim? Not to write silly poetry, you MeChutziff! What do you think he was -- some kind of left-wing homosexual Arab loving college educated self-hating Soinay Yisroel? No! He was a groisseh tzaddik, and when he wasn’t busy studying Toirah, he was cutting off Philistine foreskins (except for when he was busy being Mezaneh with the wives of his generals.) Yes, even back then, Klal Yisroel, Kehilas Yankif, regularly reached out to commune with the Reboinoisheloilum through the fundamentally mystical act of prayer, as well as through IM.

So what is the essence of Tefillah? Tefillah is more than just an act of individual unity with Hakadoshboruchhu. Were it only that, there would be no special inyun, no higher value, to the notion of Tefillah BiTzibbur. But Tefillah is also about the joining of the voices of Klal Yisroel. Essentially, it is about the power of community.

As a communal act, prayer is not only about the recitation of liturgy. It is also about acts of prayer, the trappings including:
-- Having a Shaliach Tzibur lead Shacharis
-- Having a chazzan schlep on and on and on during Mussaf until you are ready to ingest that cyanide pill sewn into your Talis Katan
-- Having some Bar Mitzvah boy read from the Toirah while three sadists in the minyan drool in anticipation as they wait for him to make a mistake so they can correct him in the ultimate act of Toirah-inspired humiliation.

But Tefillah is also about the social exchanges within a congregation. After all, throughout the Galus, as much as Klal Yisroel preserved Yiddishkeit, Yiddishkeit preserved Klal Yisroel. While our ancestors were cast across the furthest reaches of the globe, scrounging about for a living and to find some solace from millennia of persecution, they were able to maintain their unique identities through the institution of Tefillah in the Bais HaKnessess, the synagogue. Now, if all they had done during davening is daven, I assure you that you and I would now be speaking Latin or Arabic while sleeping with hot shiksas. However, they also used their time to build strong social bonds during davening by discussing chiddushim on Toisfois, linkages for business, insights on sports, perspectives on politics, and assessments of the talent on the other side of the Mechitza. Tefillah -- and in particular talking during davening -- became the cornerstone for the survival of the Jewish People.

Consequently, whenever the is a lull in the action – silence between aliyas, a pause while waiting for the Chazzan to recite a Bracha, an insignificant or boring part of the davening, it is a mitzvah for a Ben Toirah to talk to his neighbor in shul and perpetuate the social bonds that are the essence of Klal Yisroel. Indeed, according to the RAMBAM in Hilchois Tefillah, when one talks during davening, it is as if he has saved a life. Consequently, the RAMBAM holds that talking during davening is a Chiyuv Dioraisa, a requirement mandated by the Toirah.

As such, we all know that one must be Marbim BeMitzvois, one must spend as much time as possible engaged in fulfilling the commandments. So given the importance of davening, the longer the better, and one should always include a healthy dose of talking. And on Shabbos, a day we are charged with sanctifying, we should must add special sanctity to morning Tefillah by speaking extensively throughout the davening with other members of the Tzibbur.

I am reminded of a famous story about Rabbi Yitzchak Meyer Alter, the first Gerrer Rebbe. The Rebbe was once traveling to collect funds for the sect’s Shaytel G’Mach. One night he stayed in a lodge run by a Polish woman and her three daughters. As it was time to retire for the evening, the woman asked the Rebbe, “Rabbi, would you like anything before I turn in for the night?”

The Rebbe responded, “Well, you should turn in at once, but I would like for your three daughters to come and visit me in my bedroom.”

Shocked, the woman asked, “All three daughters! How can a devout man like you have such bad intentions?”

The Rebbe smiled and looked the woman right in the eyes. He then spoke, “Let me ask you, when you cook, do you cook for only yourself, or for the entire lodge?”

“The whole lodge of course, guests and all” she whispered tersely.

“My good woman, if I go back to my room by myself, I will end up bringing joy to myself. Why should I not share the joy with all three of your daughters?”

Satisfied at the answer, the woman asked to go back to the Rebbe’s room as well, to which he agreed on the condition that she would wear a bag over her head. Shoyn.

Now, with regard to your other shailah regarding establishing a second minyan, Chazzal are very much divided on this topic. According to a Yerushalmi in Orla, “anyone who splits up a congregation, it is as if he brought about the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. Or even worse, drank a cup of coffee without a Hashgacha.” However, according to the Roish, commenting on a Gemarrah in Nezikin, “A community must maintain a multitude of congregations just as a rich man maintains a multitude of oxen.” So which position is correct?

On this I would like to offer a very practical solution. You should explain to your rabbi that a Hashkama minyan is not an effort to take away from the centrality of the main minyan, but represents an attempt to broaden the appeal of the shul to a wider target audience. Who knows, maybe some guy who lives in the neighborhood, eats traifus and sleeps with farm animals will find out about the early minyan, attend one day, and do a full and complete Teshuvah. And who is your rabbi to stand in the way of a lost soul returning to the fold of Yiddishkeit?

If that doesn’t work, you can also donate a couple hundred dollars to the rabbi's discretionary fund. Throughout the millennia of Diaspora, that's always helped too.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, you minuval.