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?

  • 6
    Never seen this, but it sounds like fun.
    – Seth J
    Oct 10, 2012 at 15:41
  • 1
    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, 2012 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, 2012 at 16:10
  • 1
    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, 2012 at 16:41
  • I too have seen this custom. Perhaps Ezek 36:38 is related?
    – Double AA
    Oct 10, 2012 at 16:49

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!]


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.

  • 2
    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, 2012 at 17:11
  • 2
    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, 2012 at 19:24
  • I have indeed seen a sefer Ben Yehoyada on Chumash. It can be purchased here or here.
    – Chanoch
    Oct 14, 2012 at 21:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .