From the Rav’s Desk: 1) What to learn, Likkutei Torah or Likkutei Sichos; 2) Riding on shoulders

  1. Question: [Tuesday, 14th Teves 5781]

I only have a certain amount of time in my schedule for learning Chassidus and wanted to know what has priority, learning Likkutei Sichos of the Rebbe, or learning Torah of the Alter Rebbe? Also, on Shabbos between Mincha and Maariv and prior to Shacharis, should I learn Torah Or or Likkutei Sichos?


If your intent is to study Chassidus, then certainly learning Torah Or takes precedence over learning a Sicha in Nigleh, which is the content of many of the talks in Likkutei Sichos. However, if the chosen Sicha is also in matters of Chassidus, of which there are many as well, then in general Hassidim are accustomed to preceding the learning of the texts of their personal Rebbe, as aside for the more emotional connection [i.e. Hiskashrus] that they feel with their personal Rebbe, it also usually contains directives more relevant to them and their challenges being that it deals with issues of this generation. Nonetheless, seemingly this was not the Rebbe’s personal view, as the Rebbe stated in a public talk in 1971 that he was going to stop publishing Likkutei Sichos for that year and one of the reasons is because he saw that the Hasidim were studying it instead of studying the works of Torah Or and Likkutei Torah, and that the intent of the Likkutei Sichos was to be in addition to the regular studies of Torah Or and Likkutei Torah and not instead of them. Accordingly, the Rebbe is encouraging the Hasidim to make the weekly study of the Chassidishe Parsha from Torah Or and Likkutei Torah of more importance than the study of Likkutei Sichos, and it should be secondary regarding the weekly learning for the Parsha. In the Rebbes words from that talk of Simchas Torah: “I already discussed before that in the past the custom was that on Shabbos, they would learn Torah Or/Likkutei Torah, or other discourses relevant to that week’s portion. However, from the time that the Likkutei Sichos have been printed it has become the main subject of learning of the week as being that he is a Shpitz Chabad he claims that since it was printed that week this is a sign that this is the main subject of learning of the week and he thinks throughout the entire week that since he needs to learn the Likkutei Sichos therefore he is now exempt from learning Torah Or/Likkutei Torah… Therefore, since we are now beginning a new year from now on everyone should learn the discourses in Torah Or/Likkutei Torah and the other discourses that begin with verses of the weekly portion, and they should learn it in depth.”

Practically, a Chassid needs to invest time to studying both subjects weekly, and regarding what to learn between Mincha and Maariv and before Davening, it can be a subject of Chassidus, whether from Torah Or or Likkutei Sichos, although in general the old age Chabad tradition is to designate these times were studying Torah Or and Likkutei Torah.


  1. Question: [Wednesday, 14th Teves 5781]

Is it permitted for one to pick another man up on one’s shoulders as is commonly done by weddings where they pick up the Chasan and other relatives on the shoulders and the like? I heard that there are opinions who prohibit this and would like to know the details.


Indeed, this matter is under debate amongst the Poskim, with some siding that it is absolutely forbidden to do so and others saying that it is permitted from the letter of the law. Practically, the widespread custom today is to be lenient and those who do so should not be protested, although certainly one has the right to choose to be stringent and avoid doing so, either to avoid doing so to others or to avoid being lifted up. To mention, that there have been cases that the person lifted on the shoulders fell and injured himself as a result, and therefore aside for the halachic question one should also take in consideration this factor as well, and not turn this custom of lifting the Chasan onto the shoulders as an obligatory wedding practice of rejoicing the groom and bride. A simple alternative which is both safer and circumvents any halachic question is to simply lift him up on a chair rather than on the shoulders in this we can say that it is Noach Lashamayim and Noach Labriyos.

Explanation: It is forbidden for a man to ride a horse without a saddle due to that the friction of the movement can lead to Zera Levatala or its accessory prohibitions. Accordingly, some authorities argue that it is therefore likewise prohibited [and perhaps even more so] to ride on someone’s shoulder due to the same reason. Other authorities however argue that the cases are not the same, as a shoulder ride does not last very long and likewise the rider has an inherent fear of falling off and therefore is not to be suspected of it leading to any accessory prohibition of Zera Levatala. Likewise, if a person is married and his wife is in the city the prohibition does not apply. Furthermore, they say that the mere fact that the widespread custom is to do so by weddings and that it has been done in the presence of many elderly Rabbanim who do not protest, is itself a proof that they accepted it as permitted.

Sources: See regarding riding on a horse: Michaber E.H. 23:6; Otzer Haposkim 23:19 in name of Semak 292 that it does not apply for one who is married or if there is fear; Poskim who prohibit riding on shoulder: Ruach Chaim O.C. 669:8; Otzer Haposkim 23:19; Tzitz Eliezer 12:73-3; Mishneh Halachos 6:229 discourages doing so and says it is not an act of piety; Rav Mordechai Gross prohibits it and says that it is only recently being done in this generation; Shevet Halevi 6:203-2; Nachals Pinchas 1:122 Poskim who permit riding on shoulder: Az Nidbaru 13:59 based on Nida 13a [and Shabbos 41 with Rebbe Zeira] and Semak ibid that when there is fear one does not entertain forbidden thoughts argues that it is completely permitted and perhaps that there is even no act of piety involved in being stringent; Olas Yitzchak 1:146; Mishneh Halachos 6:229 rules that it is allowed from the letter of the law; Rav SZ”A, brought in Vealeihu Lo Yibol 2:184, is brought to rule leniently due to the inherent fear; Sefer Beis Chasanim in name of Harav Bentzion Aba Shaul and Harav Elyashiv that they both rule leniently due to the above reason of fear; Yalkut Yosef Chuppah Vikidushin  14:7 says those who are lenient should not be protested; Mori Verebbe Harav Yaakov Yosef z”l although due to the possible danger he says to do it on a chair.

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