Malkus on Erev Yom Kippur

Malkus-Lashes:[1]

When?[2] It is customary to receive 39 lashes on Erev Yom Kippur[3] [after midday] prior to going to Mikveh[4], prior to Mincha.[5]

Why?[6] Although Malkus is no longer affective in today’s times due to lack of judges that have Semicha and due to lack of Hasara[7], nevertheless the custom is to receive lashes as through doing so one will arouse his heart to perform Teshuvah for his sins. Furthermore, it is done in order to subjugate one’s heart and prepare one to serve Hashem, the honored and awesome G-d, with awe and trepidation. 

Saying Vehu Rachum:[8] Both the person giving [and receiving[9]] the lashes recite the verse “Vehu Rachum..” three times, for a total of 39 words, corresponding to the 39 lashes.[10] [The order: One begins with the right shoulder, then the left shoulder and then the middle under the shoulder blades. There are 13 words in Vehu Rachum and hence one will end the first Vehu Rachum by the top right of the shoulder. One begins the next Vehu Rachum on the top left of the shoulder and concludes it on the top left. One begins the third Vehu Rachum on the bottom between the shoulder blades and concludes it by the bottom between the shoulder blades. This adds up to a total of 39 words and 39 lashes.]

What material belt should be used to give the lashes? The leather of a calf is the most preferred material to use for administering these lashes.[11] It is not necessary for the belt to be a Tefach wide.[12]

Which direction should one face upon receiving the lashes:[13] The person receiving the lashes is to sit on his knees, bowing his head towards north.[14]

Summary:

One receives lashes after midday prior to Mikveh, prior to Mincha. One faces north. The hitter gives a tap with a belt on the right shoulder, then the left shoulder, and then the middle under the shoulder blades. There are 13 words in Vehu Rachum and hence one will end the first Vehu Rachum by the top right of the shoulder. One begins the next Vehu Rachum on the top left of the shoulder and concludes it on the top left. One begins the third Vehu Rachum on the bottom between the shoulder blades and concludes it by the bottom between the two shoulder blades. This adds up to a total of 39 words and 39 lashes.

Q&A

May the lashes be given prior to midday?

The lashes are to be administered after midday, before Mincha.[15] However, some Poskim[16] rule the lashes may be administered even prior to midday. Practically, this is only to be done if one will be unable to do later after Mincha.[17]

May a child or student give Malkos to his father or Rebbe?[18]

It is forbidden for them to do so unless there is no other person available and the father or Rebbe is asking the son/student to do it.

Do women receive Malkus?[19]

It is not customary of women to receive Malkus on Erev Yom Kippur.

May a wife give the Malkus to her husband?

If she is in a state of ritual purity, it is permitted to do so.

The Malkus of the Rebbe:

It is told that until the year 1970, Reb Yochanon Gordon, the famed Gabai of 770, was tasked with slaughtering the chicken of Kaparos for the Rebbe, as well as administrating Malkus to the Rebbe, on Erev Yom Kippur. After his passing, and from the year 1970 and onwards, Rabbi Yisrael Shimon Kalmanson inherited this task, and would slaughter the chicken of Kaparos, as well as administer the Malkus for the Rebbe.

The following is a recollection as written by a student of Rav Kalmanson:[20] In the year 5730 (1970), after Reb Yochanon Gordon passed away, Reb Yisrael Shimon Kalmanson was asked to Shecht the Rebbe’s Kaparos, which he did. That afternoon upon coming to 770 for Mincha, he was told that Rabbi Groner was looking for him. Upon finding Rabbi Groner, he was told to come to the Rebbe. The Rebbe then said to him: “since the idea of Malkus is connected to the Kaparos and the Shechita, he should therefore give the Rebbe Malkus.” From then on, he was Zoiche to two Yechidus’ on Erev Yom Kippur, until 5752 (1991). One Yechidus would take place after Kaparos (see Reshimois that this seems to have been a minhag by the Rebbeim to have Yechidus with the Shoichet after Kaparos). At that Yechidus the Rebbe would speak to him about matters pertaining to Shechita in general, as well as details on Shechitas Lubavitch. You can imagine the sight of Malkus, the Rebbe on the floor, and Reb Yisrael Shimon standing over him with a belt giving the Rebbe Malkus. Reb Yisrael Shimon would shiver from fright, as a true dedicated chosid, it was hard for him to do it. In 1970 when the Rebbe asked him to do it, he refused, however the Rebbe said that kaparos and Malkus are connected. When he would do it, he did it extremely light, hardly touching the Rebbe and with great care. At the end of each year he would ask the Rebbe for “Mechilah”, as the thought of giving Malkus to the Rebbe didn’t allow him peace of mind. Obviously the Rebbe granted him Mechilah.

_______________________________

[1] Admur 607/11; Siddur Admur; Michaber 607/6, Rama ibid; M”B ibid; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 607/5

Other Opinions: Some Poskim record that many are not accustomed to receiving lashes on Erev Yom Kippur being it is viewed as a Yom Tov, and is thus not befitting for the giving of lashes. [Kaf Hachaim 608/40]

[2] Admur 607/11

[3]Other Customs: Some have the custom to receive Malkus on Erev Rosh Hashanah as Zerizin Makdimim, as well as one should enter into the Holiday clear of sin. [Yifei Laleiv 2/5; Kaf Hachaim 581/58] The Chabad custom is to receive the lashes only on Erev Yom Kippur as stated above.

[4] Siddur Admur

[5] Siddur Admur based on Kabala [see Kaf Hachayim 607/41; Shaar Hakolel]

Ruling of Admur in Shulchan Aruch: In the Shulchan Aruch 607/11 Admur rules that the lashes is to be performed after Mincha.

[6] 607/11

[7] This means “warning”. A person is not liable to receive Malkus unless he was warned that the Beis Din will give him lashes for him performing the sin. [ibid]

[8] 607/12

[9] Sefer Haminhagim p. 123 [English]

Ruling of Admur in Shulchan Aruch: The person receiving the lashes is to say Viduiy confession upon being lashed. [607/12]

[10]The meaning behind reciting Vehu Rachum: Seemingly reciting the verse of Vehu Rachum “He is Merciful” at the times of the blow is contradictory, as we are at the moment receiving lashes. The explanation is as follows: The suffering that a person receives from Hashem in matters of children, health, and sustenance is for the good. Even if the attribute of severity appears to be operative, ultimately setbacks and troubles reflect true Divine mercy. This is analogous to a loving father who wants to correct his son’s bad behavior. If it works, he gives him sweets, and if not, he is compelled to hit him. However, the intention is clearly not the blow itself, but rather to return the son to the path of virtue. To emphasize this idea we state during the lashes that he is merciful, as he desires to bring us close to him despite our ignoring his presence. [Mamarei Admur Hazakein Mamarei Razal p. 160]

[11] Admur 607/14

[12] Admur 607/13; This is unlike in Temple times the minimum width for the belt was one Tefach. [Admur ibid]

[13] Admur 607/15

[14]The reason: As the north represents money, and money is the main source of mans sins. [Admur ibid]

[15] Siddur Admur

[16] Kaf Hachaim 608/41

[17] Halichos Olam

[18] Piskeiy Teshuvos 607/5 in name of Makor Chaim of Chavos Yair and Shevet Hakehasi 4/166; However see Nitei Gavriel 20/22 in name of Taharas Hashulchan 607/1 who plainly writes it is permitted.

[19] See Makor Chaim 607; Nitei Gavriel 20/21

[20] Printed on Crownheights.info

About The Author

Leave A Comment?