New Vizhnitzer Bais Medrash Rules


vizhnitzer-rebbe-bnei-brakRav Yisroel Hager, oldest son of the Bnei Brak Vishnitzer Rebbe, has introduced new shul rules. The rules are being implemented in every Vishnitzer beis medrash around the world. Amongst the listed items is the closing of the coffee room on Shabbos morning once the Shaliach Tzibbur begins Yedid Nefesh, before Hodu, in order that congregants begin prayers together.

Distribution of Torah flyers is not allowed until after davening on Friday night. Flyers that contain general news items are not permitted for distribution in shuls at all. They should be delivered to residences. If that is not possible, the flyers may, with special permission, be distributed on Motzaei Shabbos after Maariv. Furthermore, the distributor of any flyers must remove them from the shul, without exception, before the following Shabbos. Both on weekdays and Shabbos the start of Berachos indicates that Shacharis is beginning, followed 10 minutes later by Yedid Nefesh.

The pace of davening, too, is regulated. Davening from Borchu to Shemoneh Esrei must take a minimum of 10 minutes. On Shabbos, a minimum of 45 minutes must be devoted to Pesukei D’Zimra. A Shaliach Tzibbur (prayer leader) who finishes the Berachos of Krias Shema too early must stop, wait, and give all congregants the opportunity to catch up.

Weekly Torah Flyers Prohibited

The new Vishnitzer rule regarding Torah flyers touches on a tangential but real problem that plagues many shuls. Over the past decade, people have deluged most shuls with weekly Torah flyers, published by the shul itself, worthy organizations, or well-intentioned individuals. The flyers overwhelmingly have valuable insights into the weekly Torah reading and other timely anecdotal Torah vignettes. With the advent and accessibility of the Internet and inexpensive home copy machines, there seems to be no limit to the variety of weekly flyers. This causes manyshuls to literally be submerged in their accumulation.

Though numerous advocates of distributing Torah flyers in shuls may contend that talking during tefillah has been, and continues to be, greatly minimized by the flyers, others note that one’s concentration must be on tefillah and Chazaras HaShatz. Torah learning duringtefillah is proscribed. Poskim warn scholars not to peruse holy books during tefillah as that causes contempt for the tefillah amongst the unlearned who will be inclined to speak to each other during prayer time. If scholars, who know better, do not pay attention to Chazaras HaShatz, why should they?

In the summer of 2000, Rabbi Aryeh Yaakov Alter, Gerer Rebbe, ordered the head gabbai in the Gerer Beis Medrash in Jerusalem to announce that no one is to bring any Torah flyers into the beis medrash. At permitted times, seforim such as Sefas Emes, Beis Yisroel, Lev Simcha, Pnei Simcha, (all authored by Gerer Rebbeim) as well as other Chassidishe works, should be the reading material of preference. At best, the information in the flyers is only equal to holy books. The flyers do not take precedence over holy books.

At a Flatbush meeting of congregational rabbis organized by Agudath Israel in 2003 to combat the detriments of the Internet, Rabbi Yosef Rosenblum, Rosh Yeshiva Shaarei Yosher, strongly suggested that any Torah flyer transmitted through the Internet, regardless of its strong Torah content, absolutely be banned from distribution in shuls.

As with home-cooked foods being brought into shuls, the kashrus of the Torah flyers has also becomes an issue. Not every shul member approves of every religious organization. As with foods, once individuals take the liberty to decide what may be brought into the shul and offered to fellow members, all sorts of material may become interesting enough for one’s personal duplication and distribution. When there is some religious issue being publicly debated by gedolim, a layman may aggressively flood fellow congregants with literature arguing his favorite rabbi’s side.

Torah flyers have become a burden and concern toshuls in their disposal of Shaimos (unusable old tattered holy books). Many shuls receive a large amount of Shabbos Torah flyers, often volunteered by well-meaning members, which are liberally distributed to those present on Friday night and during the day on Shabbos, presumably to effortlessly reduce unnecessary conversations. The Torah flyers are, for the most part, much appreciated and studied. However, once read, the Torah flyers are left in shulsand pile up. Reluctantly collected by overburdened gabbaim or volunteers to maintain decorum, the flyers represent additional laborious efforts as well as additional large bulk of Shaimos.

A letter-to-the-editor in one of the popular Yiddish weeklies raised the issue in 2004. He noted that various shuls have taken different steps to impose some sort of control. The letter-to-the-editor writes about his then recent visit to New Square, N.Y. Spending Shabbos there, he noticed that Skver’s weekly flyers, Likras Shabbos and Gut Shabbos Aleh Yidden, were distributed only after davening had ended. The flyers, he noticed, have a bold instruction legend for distribution to be made only after davening. Of course, Skver has a universally accepted eruv and recipients are able to take the flyers home, a luxury not necessarily available elsewhere.

In May of 2004, together with a group of other congregational rabbis, I was privileged to meet with the Gerer Rebbe in Jerusalem. In personal conversation, I asked the Rebbe about his prohibition, four years earlier, of individuals bringing and distributing Torah flyers in shul. He answered that the flyers accumulate and create Shaimos problems, and those that are industrious in their distribution are conspicuously absent in their collection and disposal.

The issue of Torah flyers and their administration is complex. Each shul must decide for itself its own needs and clarify and publicize its own guidelines. We must appreciate the good intentions of distributors of Torah flyers and the literal explosion of available Torah being placed into our hands. Ger, Skver, and now Vishnitz have taken an initiative.

{Rabbi G Tannenbaum-Machberes/ Newscenter}


  1. Whats the big news. The Bobover Rebbe Shlita (48th St)implemented all these Takonus on the first week that he became Rebbe.

    He even stands by the leining in the back of the Bais Hamedresh to make sure that there is total silence.

  2. The problem of Torah flyers is real. Ask any shul about the shaimos problem and you will hear and see clearly that there’s just too much (if that’s possible) of these flyers. What do you do with them once everyone has read them? Good luck !!

  3. ” At a Flatbush meeting of congregational rabbis organized by Agudath Israel in 2003 to combat the detriments of the Internet, Rabbi Yosef Rosenblum, Rosh Yeshiva Shaarei Yosher, strongly suggested that any Torah flyer transmitted through the Internet, regardless of its strong Torah content, absolutely be banned from distribution in shuls.”
    Sorry, but this takes the cake!

  4. No. 2: What takanos are you talking about in Bobov 48 ?
    I think the main thust of the article about Vishnitz was about Torah flyers.
    Does Bobov 48 or Bobov 45 have any takanos about Torah flyers ?
    Thank you

  5. What is the din? Are there any t’shva references to this??

    These torah flyers whether in hebrew or english:
    1. Must they be placed in shaimos?
    2. Can they be thrown in the garbage (wrapped in a bag) if never requested and never used?
    3. Does it make a difference if they were used?
    4. If the din is that I have to put it in shaimos, would this be considered “gezeila” on the part of those that left it since they are forcing me to pay for things I have not requested?

  6. To add to what #2 wrote and maybe he can confirm this. I once heard that the the old Bobover Rebbe MHR Reb Shlomo Zt”l once walked over to a yunger man in middle of Singing Lechu dodi the “Yunger Man” was looking in to a sefer. He told him “Yetz davent men” and walked away. There is a time for everything. Singing is also davening

  7. To #5 to answer for #2 No flyers alowed in Bobover shul during Davening at all. All flyers are placed in the baesment Friday afternoon on a shelf near the mikvah for who ever want’t to take home and read at home.
    And to make it clear. Even the Rebbe’s Torahs which are available in a box in the main Shul during the week are put away Erev shabbos before Mincha.

  8. “this causes many shuls to literally be submerged”, wow things have really gone to far, do they have to dig people out after davening?

  9. the gerrer books include sefer hazchus [from the rim] as well as imrei emes and pnei menachem[theres no pnei simcha]

  10. If you hand out, say, 100 one page flyers every Friday night, in a year’s time you’ll have 5,200 flyers. Now, if 10 balei batim are handing out their preferred flyers, that adds up to 52,000 flyers that have to gathered from every end and evry crevice of the beis medrash. That’s only if it’s a one page flyer like most.