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In some synagogues, on Simchas Tora, someone will shout "Tzon k'doshim!", meaning "holy sheep/goats", or "Tzon kadashim!", meaning "sheep/goats of sacrificial-offering sanctity". He's replied to with "Baaaaa!".

Does anyone have any information on an early source for or mention of this custom?

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Never seen this, but it sounds like fun. –  Seth J Oct 10 '12 at 15:41
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I've seen this done in many shuls, I kinda find it a little degrading to the kids (who are usually the ones who respond). –  user1668 Oct 10 '12 at 15:43
    
@PM, "tzon k'doshim" is a term applied to Jews generally (don't ask me where). I don't think any insult is meant. –  msh210 Oct 10 '12 at 16:10
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it's one thing to refer to them metaphorically that one, and another to command children to respond by bleating. I'm sure no insult was meant, but it is insulting none the less. Klall Yisroel are referred to as sheep for slaughter in Eicha and in some of the tisha b'av liturgy –  user1668 Oct 10 '12 at 16:41
    
I too have seen this custom. Perhaps Ezek 36:38 is related? –  Double AA Oct 10 '12 at 16:49
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2 Answers 2

I know that this is the custom of R. Yitzchok Ezrachi in the Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, but I have no idea whether it was done in the earlier days of the yeshiva.

The practice must be at least a century old, considering that it is mentioned in a story written by the maskil D. Y. Silberbusch (see here - published 1905), as well as in a story written by the maskil Mendele Mocher Sforim (d. 1917), as noted here. Unfortunately I'm not aware of any early "traditional" source.

[Just found another maskil story, by Leon Kobrin, here. Weird pattern!]

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+1, many thanks. –  msh210 Oct 11 '12 at 1:04
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The Kobrin link doesn't work for me. –  msh210 Oct 12 '12 at 8:02
    
@msh210 - Strange, that book (די צוקדונפט, vol. 2) was on Google Books yesterday, but now it's gone. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it in the meantime. –  Dave Oct 12 '12 at 16:51
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@msh210 - the link works now, in case you're still interested. –  Dave Nov 19 '12 at 22:39
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The Ben Ish Chai in his sefer Ben Yoho'ada on Chumash says that the reason why the Bnei Yisroel are called "Tzon" is to remind us that we must serve Hashem with the four traits laid out by Yehuda Ben Teima in Pirkei Avos (5:20). Az KaNamer, audacious like a Leopard; Kal KaNesher, light like an eagle; Ruzt KaTzvi, run like a deer; Gibor Ka'Ari strong like a lion. The Roshie Teivos of these for animal Tzadi for Tzvi, Aleph for Ari, Nun for Nesher and Namer make up the word "Tzon". Hashem's flock must use all four of these character traits for avodas Hashem. If we do so then we are zocheh to be called "Tzon Kodshim" and be led by a merciful shepherd.

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Thanks for the idea, but I don't see how it answers the question above, which asks for a source for or the provenance of the custom mentioned. Anyway, welcome to the site. –  msh210 Oct 10 '12 at 17:11
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I thought Ben Yehoyada covers only Talmud. Maybe you're thinking of the book Ben Ish Chai in one of the divrei Torah that precede his discussion of halachah? At any rate, an exact citation would be nice –  b a Oct 10 '12 at 19:24
    
I have indeed seen a sefer Ben Yehoyada on Chumash. It can be purchased here or here. –  Chanoch Oct 14 '12 at 21:31
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