Raising the Pinky

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  • #589973

    When the Sefer Torah is raised why is the pinky also raised? What is the source? I was told by a Rav. doing this is not necessary. If this is so then why do most people lift their Pinky during Hagba?

    #1115251

    Jothar
    Member

    Never found a source for the pinky, although I had the same question. The Siddur Vilna quotes sources that one should point with his index finger, the finger next to the thumb, since that is the finger that (in a metaphoical manner) Hashem used to write the Torah.

    #1115252

    cherrybim
    Participant

    Are there any (Rosh)Yeshivos in America doing it?

    #1115254

    feivel
    Participant

    i dont know its source

    but i wouldnt make fun or think less of those who do it

    i personally have an aversion to it

    cant say why, just a feeling

    #1115255

    oomis
    Participant

    I have never seen this done in shul or even heard of it until now. Is that something that the olam is supposedly noheig to do at Hagbah or the person who is picking up the Sefer? If the latter, maybe the person doing hagbah had a sore pinky, and didn’t want to put the stress of lifting on that part of his hand… (I am totally ignorant about this, so bear with me, please).

    #1115256

    feivel
    Participant

    oomis

    during Hagboh in many shuls a large number of people raise their pinkys to point to the Torah then kiss their pinkys. its a “virtual’ kissing of the Torah

    like touching the Montle of the Torah then kissing their hand, or Talis, or Siddur

    #1115257

    anonymrs
    Participant

    perhaps it has no source, and actually comes from somewhere else, like going up three times after you finish shmona esrei. actually, the reason for going up is because one is supposed to remain in their place until kedusha. at the beginning of kedusha one takes three steps forward, and then by kadosh kadosh kadosh one goes up.

    i personally never did the pinkey thing, and as far as i know neither does my father. (although its been a LONG time since i davened standing next to him, seeing as i am female, so i could be wrong.)

    #1115258

    Jothar
    Member

    The minhag to point does make sense. On Pesach, we point to the matza and marror when we say matza zu and marror zeh. So why not point to the Torah when we say Zos Hatorah? The Siddur Vilna quotes a Sefer Chassidim and some other sources for pointing with the index finger. The Mishna Brura ( O.C. 134:2) doesn’t bring down pointing, but he does say that there is an inyan to see the writing in the Torah for kabbalistic reasons. The pinky minhag, however, still eludes me.

    #1115259

    cherrybim
    Participant

    Jothar- “On Pesach, we point to the matza and marror when we say matza zu and marror zeh. So why not point to the Torah when we say Zos Hatorah?”

    Yes, but we don’t kiss our finger when pointing at the matza.

    When we touch a davar sh’bikdusha, the holiness is tranferred over to our hand and we can kiss it, i.e., kissing: a sefer; a mezuzah; sefer torah; t’felin; s’fardim kiss their hand after shaking the hand of an adom chashuv.

    The order is never reversed; we do not kiss our hand and touch it to the object.

    So even if what you say is correct; what’s with the kissing?

    #1115260

    feivel
    Participant

    like going up three times after you finish shmona esrei

    im not familiar with this

    is it a common Minhag?

    when do you rise 3 times, when you have finished and have not taken 3 steps forward yet?

    can anyone shed some light?

    #1115261

    azi
    Participant

    Jothar, we aren’t talking about whether its a nice thing to do or if there is an actual source for it, which there is not.

    There is a story that the Chasam Sofer davened in some shul somewhere and during Aleinu the congregation turened around to say it. After some investigation he found out that many years prior there were not enough sidurim in the shul and so they placed a large sign with the words for aleinu on the back wall. So even after the signs were taken down people kept on turning around – with their siddurim – do say aleinu.

    The point is people do things with no rhyme or reason. And sadly these are the types of nonsense things that people fight for while overlooking actual halochos.

    The gemorah in pesachim says that if someone is noheg a minhag shtus (if someone has a custom that is complete nonsence) you could/should tell them to stop. and you certainly dont have to follow the minhag hamokom. (which people dont seem to care about these days anyway)

    #1115262

    Jothar
    Member

    Feivel, the “going up three times after shemona esrey” is a nonsensical minhag nashim. Azi, agreed that some minhagim have no mekor. I haven’t found a mekor for pointing with the pinky or kissing it. I once asked a rav, who told me that any minhag that we can’t passul as a minhag shtus or a minhag ra has the status of minhag yisroel kodesh. In this case (pointing with the index finger), the Sefer Chassidim and Rav Chaim Palagi ZT”L bring it down, taking it out of “questionable minhag” status. The Siddur Vilna also quotes some midrashim in Shir Hashirim which translate “Diglo alai ahava” as godlo alaei ahava, that when you point to the name of Hashem with the index (the finger next to the agudol, or thumb) Hashem gets nachas.

    The pinky has no mekor as far as I see except as a distortion of pointing with the index finger. It’s meant to show respect for the Torah, however, and as such it’s not worth making a fuss about. What is clear in halacha is:

    1. Seeing the writing, which brings all sorts of holy influence on a person.

    2. Saying the passuk of Vezos Hatorah.

    The “al pi Hashem beyad Moshe” is also very questionable, as it’s half a passuk with Hashem’s name in it. Some leave it out or say the full passuk ( Al pi Hashem yachanu ve’al pi Hashem yisa’u, es mishmeres Hashem yishmoru al pi Hashem beyad Moshe)

    #1115264

    oomis
    Participant

    Thanks,everyone for the clarification. I think the only problematic issue inherent in a minhag, whether shtuss or not, is that the noheig tends at soem point to begin to feel that all those who are NOT noheig are somehow not doing the right thing. Look at the gebrochts/non-gebrochts issue.

    #1115265

    anonymrs
    Participant

    i have seen the rising up done by both men AND women, and take great offense in the phrasing of your response.

    in response to feivels question, it is done AFTER you finish and before the chazara begins. those who rise up three times do so upon completion of the silent shmona esrei, after they take three steps forward.

    like i said before, i was taught that you remain in your spot STANDING until kedusha. then you take three steps forward, and when you say kadosh kadosh kadosh you rise up.

    #1115266

    Jothar
    Member

    No offense meant, and I apologize. Actually, the Rashba speaks quite approvingly of minhag nashim zekeinos, which is why we should be makpid not to walk over a child. I used that phrase because I first heard about this from my wife, who said all the girls used to do the jumping thing in her seminary (it was the firt time i heard about it) until they asked one of the seminary Rabbeim about it. I should have thought about the phrase more before tossing it out. Mea culpa. “Keshgaga hayotzei mipi hashalit”…

    Pinky minhag- I looked in the Piskei Teshuvos tonight, and sure enough he has a mekor. He quotes Yalkut Me’am Loez (Ki Savo, 27:26) for pointing the pinky at the Torah and kissing it. I looked it up, and the Me’am Loez says “nahagu”, mentions the minhag of pinky pointing and kissing, and doesn’t disparage it. The Me’am Loez is from the 1700’s, so the pinky pointing minhag is an old minhag. The Siddur Vilna, as I mentioned earlier, is all gung-ho about pointing, but with the index finger, and doesn’t mention kissing it. Most Rabbonim I’ve seen don’t point at all. So ask your LOR.

    #1115267

    HaKatan
    Participant

    I believe my Rov does not point to the sefer with his pinky nor with any other finger.

    #1115268

    azi
    Participant

    Jothar

    I dont think its the kind of thing anyone would need to ask their LOR about. Either way you pretty much plum.

    Also, the Rashba may speak quite approvingly of minhag nashim, bur I think that when we stopped marrying girls off with the promise of a fatty cow to come along with her, we stopped referring to things, in all honesty derogatorily, by calling it a minhag nashim. Or at least people should have stopped.

    #1115269

    mamashtakah
    Member

    Cherrybim wrote: “When we touch a davar sh’bikdusha, the holiness is tranferred over to our hand and we can kiss it, i.e., kissing: a sefer; a mezuzah; sefer torah; t’felin; s’fardim kiss their hand after shaking the hand of an adom chashuv.

    The order is never reversed; we do not kiss our hand and touch it to the object.”

    Years ago, I remember one of my Rebbeim telling our shiur that it’s acceptable to kiss the Sefer Torah by touching it with a hand and then kissing the hand only if that is how one kisses his wife.

    #1115270

    Jothar
    Member

    We don’t do fatty cows but we do years of support. but that’s for the shidduchim thread.

    #1115271

    anonymrs
    Participant

    azi, it wasnt the minhag nashim part which offended some of us. it was the nonsensicle part 🙂 there is nothing wrong, at least in my opinion, with saying something is a minhag nashim.

    #1115272

    azi
    Participant

    anonymrs,

    it’s one in the same. You have to read between the lines.

    #1115273

    anonymrs
    Participant

    personally, i would not have been offended had the word nonsensicle been eliminated. it happens to be that it IS mostly a minhag nashim- although, like i said, i have seen SOME men do it, it is MUCH more common among women.

    have a great shabbos 🙂

    #1115274

    Interesting. It’s one of those things I never thought about; I just always did it from the time I was old enough to sit in shul and noticed that my family and for that matter nearly all the congregants did it. I’ve always seen the pinky raised straight up, though, which doesn’t seem to fit with the standard definition of “pointing”, though, does it? I mean, if we’re supposed to be “pointing” at the Torah, why wouldn’t we angle our fingers so that they’re facing wherever the Torah is? Maybe other posters here have seen that done– if so, please comment– but I never have.

    #1115275

    i love coffe
    Participant

    The lifting of the pinky is done when the Torah is held up and done by the Sephardim. Sephardim also raise their hands towards the Aron Kodesh and the Torah when it is opened and then kiss it.

    #1115276

    its done by plenty of Ashkenazim

    #1115277

    i love coffe
    Participant

    Oh I didnt know. I have been to plenty of Ashkenazi shuls and whenever I do that everyone just looks at me strangely so I just assumed it was just a Sephardic custom, unless many Ashkenazim have picked up on it now?.

    #1115278

    maybe it depends on the area of the country

    by me, id say about a fourth of the men do it

    the Rabbaim generally dont

    could be youre right that it was originally a purely Sephardi minhag

    theres a lot of mixing nowadays

    #1115279

    ZosHaTorah
    Participant

    If you look at my screen name, you’ll know I’m the expert on this subject. Nearly all the men in my shul do the pinky thing. And I have no idea why we do it!

    #1115280

    me too
    Member

    I have seen quite a few Sefardim kiss their fingertips after the first Posuk of Shema. Any Mekor ? ( Also, the way they cover their eyes during Shema is different Doubt there is any significance here)

    #1115281

    i love coffe
    Participant

    Yes, when Sephardim say shema we (Sephardim) form our fingers in to a “shin” for Shema and cover our eyes.

    #1115282

    me too
    Member

    ILC thanks!! So there is significance to what a large group of Jews do

    #1115283

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    This is all from an acharon I looked up when I was in 10th grade. I’ve long since forgotten the source, but he was ashkenazi. Maybe one of our more learned members can help out. During Hagba’ah we look for a letter from our name in the text and point at it. We use our pinkies because pointing with the index finger is coarse and not kavod hatorah. He (the acharon) said he doesn’t know why we kiss the finger afterwards.

    #1115284

    ronrsr
    Member

    Our new rabbi does it. She is an ashkenaz, but she is from Israel.

    #1115285

    minyan gal
    Member

    I asked a Chabad Rabbi about this tonight. He said because we are saying “v’zot haTorah” (this is the Torah), we raise our pinkies to point at the Torah. This is obviously not just a Sephardic minhag. A couple of years ago I was given a different explanation by my rabbi. He said that the pinky is the smallest finger and looks similar to a “yud”, a very small letter. We are comparing our finger to a yud and hoping that today we may have learned some Torah, even if it is just a very small amount. I imagine that there are probably many other explanations for this practice. I have seen many people hold up a corner of their tallis while holding up their pinkie and have also seen some who wrap one of the tzitzit around the pinkie before holding it up.

    #1115286

    MHY
    Participant

    The Shulchan Aruch says to bow toward sefer Torah at hagbah, not to point finger, according to discussion at http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/1180/reason-behind-pinky-during-hagba

    #1115287

    TikkunHatzot
    Member

    …many years prior there were not enough sidurim in the shul and so they placed a large sign with the words for aleinu on the back wall. So even after the signs were taken down people kept on turning around

    Some how I can imagine that many minhagim come from similar types of stories.

    Our new rabbi does it. She is an ashkenaz, but she is from Israel.

    Does she also say it in English HaKodesh as well?

    #1115288

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    I’ve seen the pointing with the pinky but I never noticed the kissing part. The Medrash that Jothar pointed out actually says that Hashem has Nachas from the pointing although it is course, as ItcheSrulik pointed out. Pointing with a pinky would make a good compromise.

    #1115289

    mamashtakah
    Member

    What is clear in halacha is:

    1. Seeing the writing, which brings all sorts of holy influence on a person.

    2. Saying the passuk of Vezos Hatorah.

    The Rav of the shule where I grew up always said Hashem elokaynu emes v’soraso emes before saying the pasuk of v’zos hatorah. I’ve looked in many siddurim over the years, and I’ve only seen this printed in one of them.

    #1115290

    DovidM
    Member

    The Sephardic custom is to point with the pinky with the tzitzit of the tallis draped over it. The pinky is angled towards the Torah. I routinely this.

    I had heard the explanation growing up that to point with the index finger would be disrespectful.

    #1115291

    The “minhag” to bounce three times after the Amidah has no mekor, and it probably started because people finished the Amidah just before the tzibbur said “Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh.” This probably gave the appearance that you’re supposed to bop three times at the end of Amidah.

    #1115292

    Toi
    Participant

    piskei tshuvos makes up somemekoros on his own from pesukim. A”S.

    #1115293

    zen3344
    Participant

    When we say, “V’zot haTorah….” we are saying, “And this is the Torah….” We raise the pinky to emphasize “This” as we point to the Sefer Torah. We USUALLY point at things with our pointer finger, but that’s considered rude (ever hear, “It’s rude to point!!”), so we use our pinky instead.

    #1115294

    Sam2
    Participant

    A Kabbalist at our school once said that even though you’ll never find a source for the pinky thing, you should do it because if anyone could ask their great-great grandfathers they all did it to.

    #1115295

    Toi
    Participant

    zen hope that was a joke. i asked a prominent talmid chacham and he told me there is no mekor. a few years later i saw one in one of those weekly english jewish mags but i dont remember it.

    #1115296

    yeshivaguy45
    Participant

    Toi, f you look in the piskei Tshuvos on the bottom, he brings down a yalkut Meam Loez in Devarim that says the minhag. I once looked it up but I don’t remember if he brings down with the pinky or just a finger. He also brings down sefer Hachaim by R’ Chaim Palagi, which Jothar quoted. So there is a mekor but some people still question whether it’s necessary to do this

    #1115297

    yeshivaguy45
    Participant

    The meam loez is in Devarim chaf zayin chof vov (which is quoted by lothar above)at the end of the paragragh that starts ???? and he says “People are noheg to point with the finger zeres over the ksav and to kiss it.” I think zeres is the pinky but I could be wrong

    #1115298

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    According to ????? ?????? the reason is as follows: There is a segula to look for a letter from your name in the part of the sefer Torah being displayed at hagbah, so people skim the text with their finger, but it’s rude to point at something as holy as sefer Torah with your index finger so you use your pinky which is apparently more aidel.

    I only know this because I was flipping through the sefer in my local shtibel a while ago. I didn’t know there were halachos about which finger to point with outside the beis hamikdash. When I lein on weekdays (including this morning) I usually use my middle finger since it’s hard to point with any other one with my tefillin on.

    #1115299

    zen3344
    Participant

    No joke at all, Toi. That’s what we do in a Conservative shul. But, I was at an Orthodox shul in EY over the summer and they did the same thing.

    #1115300

    While never saw ths minhag while I was growing up or in yesiva, I have seen that the Baal Koreh often uses his pinky finger to follow the place in the kriya if he doesn’t have a yad.

    #1115301

    old man
    Participant

    Rabbi Poliakoff from Baltimore put out a sefer on minhagei Lita where he discusses this issue.

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