"Where the Yemenite Practice Does Not Match RMb"M" (famous 32 anomalies)

Although the Yemenite Jews accepted as a whole the halachic rulings of RMb"M, especially where RMb"M came to contend with other exponents of Jewish law over difficult halachic issues, still, where they found contradictions between their own halachic traditions and those prescribed by RMb"M in his Code of Jewish Law, the practices and customs bequeathed unto them by their forefathers were those that were generally upheld by the community- despite their great love and respect for RMb"M. This only goes to show that the Jews of Yemen were not devoid of Torah in themselves, before the light of RMb"M shone upon them in Yemen. RMb"M's epistle to the Yemenites, as also the following selection of thirty-two, so-called, anomalies found amongst them proves this fact beyond any reasonable doubt. By their persistence in their own particular customs, they showed thereby that Halakha and religious observance did not begin for them with RMb"M.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Ta'anith 5: 6) "When [the month of] Av comes in, joy is diminished. Now the week in which falls the Ninth of Av [fast day], it is forbidden to shave [one's head], or to wash [one's clothes], etc. …Yet, already do [the people of] Israel have it as their practice not to eat meat during this week, neither will they enter into a public bath until the fast is expired. And there are some places where they have it as a custom to cancel the ritual slaughtering [of all animals] from the New Moon until [after] the fast."

In Yemen, the custom was, indeed, to abstain from shaving their heads, and from washing their clothes, on the week in which falls the Ninth of Av fast day. Yet, was there no such custom to abstain from eating meat during that week. Rather, meat was eaten even on the eve of the Ninth of Av fast day, and only at the "se'udah mafseqeth" (the last meal eaten before the commencement of the fast) would they break-off from eating meat, or from drinking wine, in accordance with the Talmud (Ta'anith 30a).
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillin U'mezuzah Wasefer Torah 1: 4) "What is the remedy for making ink?" (After listing the ingredients for making ink, viz., the soot taken from burnt oils, gum resin, honey and gall – without mentioning vitriol, RMb"M then concludes by
saying:) "When he comes to write…he writes with it, whereby if he erases it, it will [easily] be erased. Now this is the ink with which one is commanded, by the most exemplary standard of halachic rule & order, to write books of the Law, Tefillin and Mezuzoth (door- post scripts). Yet, if he should write the three of them with [only] water of gall, and copper sulphate crystals (blue vitriol), which things cause the ink to take on permanence and is not [easily] erased, they are [still] valid."

In Yemen, the custom was always to add copper sulphate crystals
(Arabic: zaj, or blue vitriol) to the ink in order to give it lasting permanence. This, too, was done as a first resort, with no fear that they had acted in defiance of any commandment. This is because RMb"M changed his mind about the addition of copper sulphate crystals to the ink as a first resort, writing in his Questions & Responsa, responsum # 136: "For all [scripts] they add copper sulphate crystals (Heb. qalqanthos), except in the section of the suspected adulteress. Now it has already been explained in the Jerusalem Talmud (Sotah 2:4) that the ink mentioned in every place as mere 'ink,' is the ink with which they used to write the books of the Law, in which there was copper sulphate crystals (blue vitriol) in order that it have lasting permanence. Moreover, we have already explained that these copper sulphate crystals will have no effect without the addition of gall."
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Berakhoth 7: 11) "When they have finished eating, they take away the table, and sweep the place wherein they had eaten, and afterwards they wash their hands."

In Yemen, the custom was not to take away the table whereon they had eaten, which table was usually woven from slit palm-fronds and leaves of rush, and formed into a low, circular basket-like table
(Arabic: ghuta.) Large wooden tables were not used in Yemen.
Although we do find a similar teaching in Mishnah Berakhoth 8:3, requiring the sweeping of the floor before washing one's hands at the conclusion of a meal, why it is that we do not persist in this teaching today has been explained by Rabbeinu Yonah in his Commentary on Rabbi Yitzhaq al-Fasi's "Halachoth" (Berakhoth 8:3).
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Yom Tov 6: 3) "The 'eiruvei tavshilin' (which one makes on the eve of a Festival Day in order to permit him to cook on the upcoming Festival Day for the Sabbath, whenever these two days happen to come one after the other), its quantity is not less than an olive's bulk, whether it be for one, or for a thousand.
But they do not make this 'eiruv' with bread, neither with cakes, or things similar, but [only] with a cooked dish which is served as a savoury, like meat or fish or eggs, and similar things – even if it were only lentils left at the bottom of the pot, or the grease left on the knife with which they cut the roasted meat, he scrapes it off if it contains an olive's bulk."

In Yemen, the custom was to make the 'eiruvei tavshilin' with, both, bread and a cooked dish, in accordance with an old exegesis on Exodus 16:23: "They bake [bread on a Festival Day for the Sabbath] by virtue of what they had baked [prior to the Festival Day], and they cook [a hot dish on a Festival Day for the Sabbath] by virtue of what they had cooked [prior to the Festival Day]." àú àùø úàôå àôå åëå'
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Megillah wa-Hanukka 4: 5) "…Had he forgotten, or acted wantonly, and did not light [the Hanukka candles] with the setting of the sun, he has all the remaining time to light [them] until the feet [of the vendors] have vanished from the market-place.
Now how much time is this? Approximately, half an hour or [a little] more. Had this time passed [without his lighting the candles], no longer is he able to light [them]."

In Yemen, the custom was to light the Hanukka candles even though a person might have delayed in lighting them during its appointed hour. However, the lighting of the candles at that time was made without saying the blessing over them.
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth Tefillin U'mezuzah Wasefer Torah 1: 6-7) that there are three kinds of parchment: 1) Whole leather (gawil) – used for writing the books of the Law, or Torah; 2) the leather which, after it has been split down its middle, is closest to the animal's flesh (kalaf) – used for writing Tefillin; 3) the leather which, after it has been split down its middle, is closest to the animal's hair (doksustos) – used for writing Mezuzoth. RMb"M writes that each of these must be treated by salting, by flouring and by putting them into an astringent solution of gall, or some similar substance, before they can be used for the books of the Law, Tefillin or Mezuzoth (door-post scripts). So, too, writes RMb"M in his Questions & Responsa, responsum # 153.

In Yemen, the custom in treating leather hides that were to be used for the books of the Law and for the scroll of Esther was, indeed, to put them into an astringent solution of a gall-like substance extracted from the leaves of acacia (Arabic: qaradh). However, the parchment (kalaf) used in writing the Tefillin was never treated with any gall-like substance. (The reason being that leather, when treated with gall or similar substances, constricts and usually takes on a darker colour. Although this treatment gives the leather its durability , it makes writing on such parchment very difficult, as the ink tends to glide on the parchment and is not absorbed so readily into the leather. This makes writing the four portions of scripture in the Tefillin all the more difficult, since the strips of parchment are very small in order that they may be inserted within the phylactery boxes. For this reason, in Yemen as in other places of world Jewry, the leather used in writing the four portions of scripture for the Tefillin went without the treatment of gall, and was subsequently white.)
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Berakhoth 7: 15) "Although the grace said over the meals does not require [a cup of] wine, if he blessed over the wine after the manner prescribed by us, he must [first] scour the cup of blessing from within, and then rinse it from without, and then fill it with wine that has not yet been mingled with water.
When he reaches the benediction over the land, he adds thereto a little water, etc."

In Yemen, the custom was always to enquire after a cup of wine whenever ten or more persons had eaten together, over which they said the grace over the meal.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Shofar, Sukkah walolav, 1: 1) "…the shofar
(horn) with which they make the blast, whether on the New Year's day (Rosh Hashana), or the Jubilee (Yovel), is the curved horn of sheep.
Now all [other] horns are invalid, except the horn of a sheep…"

In Yemen, the custom was to make use of other horns, and not only that of the ram (the male sheep). Some would use the horn of the wild goat (Walia ibex) on Rosh Hashana, while others made use of the long, spiraling horn of the kudu antelope because of its deep, reverberating sound. Still, others were apprehensive about the words of RMb"M, and would blow only the ram's horn during the required blasts on that day, but at the end of making the required blasts, they would take out the kudu horn and blow it too, in remembrance of their former practice. (The practice to make use of any horn, except that of a cow, is an old teaching brought down in the Mishnah, Rosh Hashana 3:2, viz., that all shofars are valid except that of a cow.)

 

RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Shechita 11: 7-8) "The ordinary custom in Israel [is thus] . . . But if a ligament is found adhering to the lobe of the lung, in whatever place it extends itself, even if it were the size of a breadth of hair, they make it (the butchered
animal) forbidden."

In Yemen, the practice was to dislodge every adhesion which they happened to find connecting itself to the lungs, and to check it in lukewarm water. If it did not cause bubbles, it was permitted, just as RMb"M has written there in vs. 6. Now Rabbi Abraham, his son, was already asked concerning this [matter], and made the
reply: "What they have practiced in Yemen to permit [an adhesion which was found] close to the wall [of the lung] and which has outgrowths, by checking it in lukewarm water, they have practiced according to the law, and in keeping with what is prescribed, at close examination of the matter. Nevertheless, they have abdicated from the custom of the diaspora Jews."
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Shechita 11: 11) "Now we have never inflated a lung in Spain, nor in the Maghreb, except in the case where an uncertainty developed wherein there was reason to doubt [its fitness]."

In Yemen, they inflated every lung, just as he mentioned there (Mishne Torah, ibid., 11: 15), "there are places, [etc.]"
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Mechirah 5: 11) "There are many things that do not require [the act of] purchasing (Heb. "kinyan"), nor is there any rationale in those things. For example, with him that delivers a declaration [of protest before two witnesses.]"

In Yemen, the custom is that he who divorces his wife accepts, by the principle of this act of purchasing (Heb. "kinyan"), that he disavows all declarations which may have been made in protest before two witnesses. The act of purchasing was done in the following
manner: Before exacting from the husband a verbal declaration known as, "the cancellation of any statement" (Bitul Muda'a), the woman's husband was required to hold on to the end of a Tallith by its tassels, and one of the judges would say to him, "Purchase by this decent piece of clothing the right that you will have to cancel all statements which may have been made by you, and any statement you may have made against the statement [that you were about to make here, this day], even unto the very last statement, in the event that you made such statements against this divorce." The husband then simply answered "Amen," in agreement, since it is not necessary for him to utter with his own mouth the words, "Bitul Muda'a," the cancellation of all statements.
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth Mila 1: 8) that circumcisions should be performed in the early part of the day, saying in the language of the Talmud (Pesahim 4a), "those that are highly motivated press ahead with the commandment. "

In Yemen, the practice was to perform the circumcision around noon, or shortly before noon, according with a teaching brought down in Pirke Rebbe Eliezer.
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth De'oth 5: 19) that a disciple of the Sages must abstain from wearing perfume (fragrant oils &c.) because of the suspicion he would be under for wearing it.

In Yemen, they followed the conclusion found in the Gemara (Berakhoth 43b) in this regard, and they would often put fragrant rose water on their hands. For the prohibition of wearing perfume only applied to places where men were suspect of unnatural connections.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Ma'achaloth Asuroth 3: 15-16) "As for butter belonging to the gentiles, some of the Geonim have permitted it, since they did not decree against butter, while milk taken from an unclean [animal] will not stand (coagulate). Still, some of the Geonim have prohibited it, because of the thin film of milk that remains within it [after it coagulates], seeing that the agent [used in curdling the milk and which remains] in the butter is not mixed well-enough with the butter in order to cancel its small quantity.
Now we suspect all of their milk lest perhaps they have mixed with it the milk of an unclean animal.
It would seem to me that if he had taken butter from a gentile, if he cooks it long enough until the thin film of milk has evaporated, lo, such [butter] is permitted."

In Yemen, the custom was to eat butter produced by the gentiles all throughout the year, except during Passover. The cooking of butter taken from the gentiles was not even a requirement. Maharitz writes the following in his Questions & Responsa "Pe'ulath Sadiq," vol. II, responsum # 180: "Now what they have written [in the book, Sama Dehayei], 'Likewise, the Geonim, of blessed memories, have given legal instruction that butter, and honey and oil, in their natural state, can be taken from the gentiles all throughout the year, so too are they permitted at the Passover, etc.,' the sense here is that just like during the other days of the year we do not suspect the pollution of those vessels belonging to the gentiles, since ordinary vessels belonging to the gentiles do not usually suffer from any uncleanness contracted on the very day of its use, so too would the case be at Passover. For the rule that stands with us is this, viz., that that which imparts the mere vestiges of a corrupted taste is permitted. And, lo! Even though Maimonides, in the third chapter of Hilkoth Ma'achaloth Asuroth, has indeed forbidden butter belonging to the gentiles on the other days of the year, due to the pollution of those vessels in which it be contained, and the world is not careful concerning this matter except for a few of the aesthetes who separate themselves, that is, by reason of the fact that their own sustenance depends upon it, and they have no recourse to butter produced by Jews on account of poverty, and only one man in a thousand is able to raise for himself a cow in his stall, therefore the early expositors of our laws saw fit from the start to rely upon those who contended, and who reasoned that ordinary vessels belonging to the gentiles do not usually suffer from any uncleanness contracted on the very day of its use, and they went, from the very start, to make this a rule of practice on account of their lives depending upon it, not to mention that our Rabbi, Maimonides, was a sole objector in this, his opinion, while all the great Rabbis refuted it…"
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth Tefillin U'mezuzah Wasefer Torah 3:9) that when stitching the Tefillin (phylacteries) and scrolls of the Law
(Torah) they only make use of the sinew (tendon) that is situate on the heel of either the domesticated or wild animal, which [sinews] are hard [and] white, and are made pliable like unto flax by rubbing them down with stones, or similar things. They are then spun and twisted, etc.

In Yemen, the custom was to make use solely of the sinew (tendon) taken from the animal's loins (flanks) for sewing the Tefillin
(phylacteries) and scrolls of the Law (Torah), which same tendon was very long, and did not require softening by working it with a stone.
Nor was it necessary to twist the sinew before making use of it.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Shechita 14: 1) "It is an assertive command to cover up the blood of a ritually-slaughtere d animal that is clean, or a fowl that is clean, etc. Therefore, he must bless before he covers up the blood, [saying], '[Blessed art thou, O Lo-rd, king of the universe], who hast sanctified us through thy commandments, and hast commanded us concerning the covering up of blood.' "

In Yemen, the custom was to make the blessing as stated above, yet with the addition of, "with earth." That is, "…and hast commanded us concerning the covering up of blood with earth." (Heb. Be'afar).
RMb"M omits this word.
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth Avel 4: 3) that the pallbearers that carry the bier in a funeral procession are not to walk with their feet shod in sandals, lest one of their straps should break, and they be forced to delay the procession on that account.

In Yemen, the custom was to wear shoes, or sandals, while carrying the bier, since those that carried the bier took turns with others, ever so often, who followed along with them in order to relieve them if one of the pallbearers should grow faint, or encounter some other mishap along the way.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Avel 12: 4-5) "They do not make less than seven stations (Ma'amadoth) in a funeral procession for the dead… Just as they make ma'amad u'moshad * for the men, so, too, do they make them for the women, etc."

In Yemen, the custom was not to make the "ma'amad u'moshav" * for male children younger than the age of thirteen, nor for women.

[* The custom practiced during funeral processions is to halt at, at least, seven stations before the actual burial of the dead, beginning from the entrance of the house from whence the bier is taken, to the graveyard itself. This has come to be known as "Ma'amad u'Moshav," (lit. "Standing and Sitting"), or "seven standings and sittings," and is mentioned in Tosefta Pesahim 2: 14- 15, but in other editions, chapter 3, where we learn: "In the place where the custom is to make the Ma'amad u'Moshav, they do so. Where it is not a custom to do so, they do not do it. There is no Ma'amad u'Moshav less than seven times." During the first station, the bier is let down by the pallbearers upon the ground, a little beyond the gate of the city. While standing around the bier, the pallbearers and those accompanying will recite "Hatzur Tamim Pe'ulo," etc. "Ana Bakoach," etc., said in a doleful dirge-like melody, and which verses are followed by one of the party reading certain MidRaShYc literature that speaks about death, &c. in order to eulogise the deceased. The bier is again taken up by the pallbearers (these being exchanged by others when they grow tired), and, while the procession proceeds on a little space, they will recite a liturgical poem, its lines arranged in alphabetical order, viz., "Ahuv Yerahamekha, "
etc., "Borukh Yerahamekha, " etc., "Jibbor Yerahamekha, " etc. This poem is repeated as often as needed until reaching the second station, where the process is repeated. When the bier is once again taken up to go towards the third station, as also the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th stations, they continue with the abovementioned alphabetically arranged liturgical poem where they had left off. So, too, while letting down the bier at the various stations, one person eulogises the deceased, and concludes each eulogy with praise for the deceased, saying: "Ashrau, wa'ashrei helko" (àùøéå åàùøé çì÷å).
Thus have we found this practice described in all of our books.]
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 9: 5) "And
afterwards (i.e. after completing the "Nefillath Apayim"), let the
emissary of the congregation [who leads them in prayer] stand up by
himself and say the Kaddish a second time, and [let him] say, 'we-hu
rahum, [etc.],' 'tehiloh le-dhowidh, etc.', while he stands and
they are sitting and reading [the like verses] with him."

In Yemen, the emissary of the congregation who leads them in prayer
would only stand up to say the Kaddish when concluding the Nefillath
Apayim, but afterwards he would sit down also with them during the
ordinary readings of the day, beginning with, "We-hu rahum, etc."
The emissary of the congregation would also sit down with the
congregation while reciting Qiryath Shema`.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 7: 9) "The people
have it as their custom in most of our cities to make these
blessings (the morning blessings) one after the other in the
synagogue, whether or not they were obligated [to do so by their
actual performance] , and this is a mistake, and not proper that it
be done that way."

In Yemen, they have continued in their ancient custom to say them in
the synagogue. But there were those who tried to change the custom
according to Maimonides, yet to no avail, even though they had
brought support for their opinion from Rabbi Avraham Hanagid, as he
wrote in his Responsa, responsum # 83.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 11: 4) "How do the
people sit in the synagogues? The elders sit with their faces facing
the people, and their backs toward the recess in the wall [which
contains the scrolls of the Law], and all of the people sit in rows
one behind the other, so that all of the people's faces are facing
the holy [ark] (i.e., facing the recess in the wall containing the
Torah scrolls), and looking toward the elders and toward the
pulpit."

In Yemen, the custom was not so. Rather, the men sat around in a
circumference along the synagogue walls, and every man's son sat
before him. Yet, there is no doubt that this custom is old with
them, since it is impossible to say that they learned it from the
Arab people whom they live among, for they sit in their houses of
worship when all of their faces are in the direction of their
venerated place.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Berakhoth 1: 12) "[Concerning] bread and
wine, if persons intended to eat together, and one of their party
happened to make the blessing [over them], all of them have
fulfilled their obligation. But the other victuals and beverages
[which men make use of in their meals and] which do not require
reclining [when eating], even if they had not intended to recline
together and one of their party made the blessing [over them] and
all of them answered 'Amen,' behold, they are permitted to eat and
drink [of that same food without making any other blessings]."

In Yemen, the custom was that whenever a man ate fruit and roasted
nuts and grains on any of the festive occasions and ceremonial
meals, every man would make the initial blessing for himself out
loud, unlike the opinion of RMb"M. For they viewed this particular
ruling as being a dubious teaching (in accordance with that man who
brought it in the Talmud), while Ravad (Rabbi Avraham ben David)
held the first opinion brought down in the Talmud as being that
which should be followed.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 4: 3) "…besides
the morning prayer. But in the morning [prayer] he washes his face,
hands and feet, and afterwards he prays."

In Yemen, they did not practice the washing of their feet in the
morning.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 4: 1-2) "Five
things hold back the prayer, although its time had arrived: the
purity of one's hands, [etc.]…How [should this be done]? He washes
his hands with water up to place of his joints, and afterwards he
prays." And in the 6th chapter of Hilkoth Berakhoth, vs. 2, he
wrote: "All who wash their hands, whether it were for eating, or for
the recital of Qiryath Shema`', or for the prayer, blesses at the
beginning, "…who hast sanctified us through his commandments and
hast commanded us over the washing of hands." He then wrote there
(ibid.), vs. 5, "Anyone who needs washing of [his] hands and has
immersed his hands … in water which lacked the required quantity of
a ritual bath, or either in drawn water … he has done nothing."

In Yemen, they did not wash their hands with a vessel when they came
to pray together in the synagogues, nor did they say the blessing,
whether it were for the Afternoon Prayer, or for the recital of
Qiryath Shema`' in the evening. Rather, in every synagogue there was
a small basin fixed in its courtyard, made of stone, and which
contained a small quantity of water which they always changed. All
those who entered to pray the Afternoon and Evening prayers,
immersed his fingers in that water up unto their joints, and would
then dry them, and then enter to pray. Here, we find that they
practiced the teaching described by the author of Halachoth
Gedoloth, namely, that it is sufficient to immerse one's hands in a
vessel of water. Only with regard to the priests of Aaron's lineage
do we find that the Scriptures have excluded them from this leniency
of dipping their hands, by saying "from it," and not "in it."
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth Hametz umatzah 7: 6) that only men and women
are obligated to drink the four cups of wine on the night of
Passover, but he did not mention the necessity to educate babes, nor
to give them also four small cups of wine to drink on that night.
RMb"M's ruling comes in accordance with a teaching made by Rabbi
Yehudah in the Talmud.

In Yemen, they practiced in accordance with that other opinion
brought down in the Talmud (the first Tanna), namely, to educate the
small children in the observance of the four cups.
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth Megillah wa-Hanukka 3) that the practice of
the ancients in their reading of the Hallel was that no one
doubled the verses from where the passage begins "Odhekho," and
those verses which follow. (Heb. àåãê åëå') He added,
moreover, "This was the first custom, and it is fitting to walk in
accordance with it."

In Yemen, the practice was other than that of this opinion, and they
doubled the verses from where the passage begins "Odhekho," as well
as those verses which follow.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Shechita 1: 24) "And he must likewise check
(the knife) after the slaughter."

In Yemen, they had no custom to check the knife after the slaughter,
except in the case where he wanted to slaughter another animal.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Ma'achaloth Asuroth 15: 32) "…If the hind leg
(thigh) of an animal was inadvertently roasted with its long sinew
(i.e. displaced tendon, or what is called "gid hanasheh"), the meat
can still be eaten by first peeling away all flesh that surrounds
the tendon, until he reaches the tendon, in which case, the tendon
is discarded." (RMb"M's ruling here is identical to a similar
ruling made by Rabbi Yitzhaq al-Fasi in his "Halachoth," Tractate
Hullin, chapter "Kol Habasar.")

In Yemen, the custom was to permit its eating only by taking the
additional precaution, when peeling away the meat, of leaving the
thickness of a finger's breadth (about 2.25 cm.) surrounding the
tendon and which was not to be eaten. In other words, it was never
permitted, in such cases, to eat as far as the tendon itself. (So,
too, Rabbi Yoseph Karo, in his Commentary "Keseph Mishne," ibid.,
writes that the authors of the Tosefoth, and Rabbeinu Asher, as well
as Rabbi Shelomo ben Avraham Aderet and Rabbeinu Nissim, all had it
as their practice not to permit its eating by simply peeling away
the meat and eating until he reaches the sinew. Rather, the
thickness of a finger's breadth surrounding the tendon is the verge,
or limits, of what can be eaten.)

RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 9: 5) "And
afterwards (i.e. after completing the "Nefillath Apayim"), let the
emissary of the congregation [who leads them in prayer] stand up by
himself and say the Kaddish a second time, and [let him] say, 'we-hu
rahum, [etc.],' 'tehiloh le-dhowidh, etc.', while he stands and
they are sitting and reading [the like verses] with him."

In Yemen, the emissary of the congregation who leads them in prayer
would only stand up to say the Kaddish when concluding the Nefillath
Apayim, but afterwards he would sit down also with them during the
ordinary readings of the day, beginning with, "We-hu rahum, etc."
The emissary of the congregation would also sit down with the
congregation while reciting Qiryath Shema`.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 7: 9) "The people
have it as their custom in most of our cities to make these
blessings (the morning blessings) one after the other in the
synagogue, whether or not they were obligated [to do so by their
actual performance], and this is a mistake, and not proper that it
be done that way."

In Yemen, they have continued in their ancient custom to say them in
the synagogue. But there were those who tried to change the custom
according to Maimonides, yet to no avail, even though they had
brought support for their opinion from Rabbi Avraham Hanagid, as he
wrote in his Responsa, responsum # 83.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 11: 4) "How do the
people sit in the synagogues? The elders sit with their faces facing
the people, and their backs toward the recess in the wall [which
contains the scrolls of the Law], and all of the people sit in rows
one behind the other, so that all of the people's faces are facing
the holy [ark] (i.e., facing the recess in the wall containing the
Torah scrolls), and looking toward the elders and toward the
pulpit."

In Yemen, the custom was not so. Rather, the men sat around in a
circumference along the synagogue walls, and every man's son sat
before him. Yet, there is no doubt that this custom is old with
them, since it is impossible to say that they learned it from the
Arab people whom they live among, for they sit in their houses of
worship when all of their faces are in the direction of their
venerated place.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Berakhoth 1: 12) "[Concerning] bread and
wine, if persons intended to eat together, and one of their party
happened to make the blessing [over them], all of them have
fulfilled their obligation. But the other victuals and beverages
[which men make use of in their meals and] which do not require
reclining [when eating], even if they had not intended to recline
together and one of their party made the blessing [over them] and
all of them answered 'Amen,' behold, they are permitted to eat and
drink [of that same food without making any other blessings]."

In Yemen, the custom was that whenever a man ate fruit and roasted
nuts and grains on any of the festive occasions and ceremonial
meals, every man would make the initial blessing for himself out
loud, unlike the opinion of RMb"M. For they viewed this particular
ruling as being a dubious teaching (in accordance with that man who
brought it in the Talmud), while Ravad (Rabbi Avraham ben David)
held the first opinion brought down in the Talmud as being that
which should be followed.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 4: 3) "…besides
the morning prayer. But in the morning [prayer] he washes his face,
hands and feet, and afterwards he prays."

In Yemen, they did not practice the washing of their feet in the
morning.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Tefillah u'virkath kohanim 4: 1-2) "Five
things hold back the prayer, although its time had arrived: the
purity of one's hands, [etc.]…How [should this be done]? He washes
his hands with water up to place of his joints, and afterwards he
prays." And in the 6th chapter of Hilkoth Berakhoth, vs. 2, he
wrote: "All who wash their hands, whether it were for eating, or for
the recital of Qiryath Shema`', or for the prayer, blesses at the
beginning, "…who hast sanctified us through his commandments and
hast commanded us over the washing of hands." He then wrote there
(ibid.), vs. 5, "Anyone who needs washing of [his] hands and has
immersed his hands … in water which lacked the required quantity of
a ritual bath, or either in drawn water … he has done nothing."

In Yemen, they did not wash their hands with a vessel when they came
to pray together in the synagogues, nor did they say the blessing,
whether it were for the Afternoon Prayer, or for the recital of
Qiryath Shema`' in the evening. Rather, in every synagogue there was
a small basin fixed in its courtyard, made of stone, and which
contained a small quantity of water which they always changed. All
those who entered to pray the Afternoon and Evening prayers,
immersed his fingers in that water up unto their joints, and would
then dry them, and then enter to pray. Here, we find that they
practiced the teaching described by the author of Halachoth
Gedoloth, namely, that it is sufficient to immerse one's hands in a
vessel of water. Only with regard to the priests of Aaron's lineage
do we find that the Scriptures have excluded them from this leniency
of dipping their hands, by saying "from it," and not "in it."
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth Hametz umatzah 7: 6) that only men and women
are obligated to drink the four cups of wine on the night of
Passover, but he did not mention the necessity to educate babes, nor
to give them also four small cups of wine to drink on that night.
RMb"M's ruling comes in accordance with a teaching made by Rabbi
Yehudah in the Talmud.

In Yemen, they practiced in accordance with that other opinion
brought down in the Talmud (the first Tanna), namely, to educate the
small children in the observance of the four cups.
* * *
RMb"M wrote (Hilkoth Megillah wa-Hanukka 3) that the practice of
the ancients in their reading of the Hallel was that no one
doubled the verses from where the passage begins "Odhekho," and
those verses which follow. (Heb. àåãê åëå') He added,
moreover, "This was the first custom, and it is fitting to walk in
accordance with it."

In Yemen, the practice was other than that of this opinion, and they
doubled the verses from where the passage begins "Odhekho," as well
as those verses which follow.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Shechita 1: 24) "And he must likewise check
(the knife) after the slaughter."

In Yemen, they had no custom to check the knife after the slaughter,
except in the case where he wanted to slaughter another animal.
* * *
RMb"M wrote: (Hilkoth Ma'achaloth Asuroth 15: 32) "…If the hind leg
(thigh) of an animal was inadvertently roasted with its long sinew
(i.e. displaced tendon, or what is called "gid hanasheh"), the meat
can still be eaten by first peeling away all flesh that surrounds
the tendon, until he reaches the tendon, in which case, the tendon
is discarded." (RMb"M's ruling here is identical to a similar
ruling made by Rabbi Yitzhaq al-Fasi in his "Halachoth," Tractate
Hullin, chapter "Kol Habasar.")

In Yemen, the custom was to permit its eating only by taking the
additional precaution, when peeling away the meat, of leaving the
thickness of a finger's breadth (about 2.25 cm.) surrounding the
tendon and which was not to be eaten. In other words, it was never
permitted, in such cases, to eat as far as the tendon itself. (So,
too, Rabbi Yoseph Karo, in his Commentary "Keseph Mishne," ibid.,
writes that the authors of the Tosefoth, and Rabbeinu Asher, as well
as Rabbi Shelomo ben Avraham Aderet and Rabbeinu Nissim, all had it
as their practice not to permit its eating by simply peeling away
the meat and eating until he reaches the sinew. Rather, the
thickness of a finger's breadth surrounding the tendon is the verge,
or limits, of what can be eaten.)

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