Sunday, 26 February 2017

Muktze Mobile

Question: I accidentally left my smartphone on my bed on Friday night. Was I allowed to move it?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:3) writes that items that are primarily used for prohibited acts (keli shemalachto leissur) can be moved on Shabbos if one needs the space. Thus, one can move a hammer on a bookcase to access books or from a chair which one wants to sit on. This doesn’t apply, however, to items that are muktze machmas chisaron kis, muktze for fear of financial loss.
Where one is very particular about an item, be it an expensive item or a delicate tool, etc. it takes on a higher level of muktze. Unlike regular muktze items, such items are not used for other functions. Thus, craft knives and expensive electronics cannot be moved just because they are in the way.
Seemingly, smartphones would fit into this category, and thus may not be moved in a regular way.
The Mishna Berura (309:10) writes that in such a scenario, the muktze item should ideally be tilted off by lifting the base. Thus, one may lift the covers (or mattress) allowing the phone to fall. If the phone is on and doing so may cause a button to be knocked, or if doing so may cause damage to the phone, then one may lift the blanket with the phone on it and place it down elsewhere.
In conclusion, while the phone may not be moved normally, one may either lift the covers to shake it off or if necessary, lift the covers off and place them elsewhere.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Wind up Baby Swing on Shabbos

Question: We have a baby swing that is operated by winding it up. Can we use it on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 338:3) writes that one can set an old clock before Shabbos even though it will chime throughout Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (338:14) explains that people will understand that it was set before Shabbos. The poskim discuss whether one can pull the chains that operate the clock on Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (338:15) paskens like the Chayei Adam (44:19) who writes that it is forbidden because it is akin to tikkun mana (fixing something). The Chazon Ish (OC 50:9) also says it is forbidden, though explains that as you are making the watch operational again, it is akin to boneh (building).
As there is a machlokes as to whether one can wind a watch on Shabbos that is still ticking (See Ksav Sofer OC 55; Daas Torah OC 338:3), the Mishna Berura (338:15) and R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbas Kehilchasa 28:20) pasken, that one may only do so under extenuating circumstances, such as for a choleh.
The poskim discuss whether wind-up toys and swings are included. R’ Yisroel Pinchos Bodner (Tiltulei Shabbos 1:n36) writes that he heard from R’ Moshe Feinstein that one mustn’t play with wind-up toys on Shabbos as they are like winding up watches.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (ibid. 16:14) writes that children can play with wind-up toys providing they don’t make a noise, etc. He writes that R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach differentiated between watches and toys. Watches are considered to be non-operational when not ticking, as opposed to wind-up toys that are only designed to work for a few seconds. Additionally, watches are far more complex and sophisticated than wind-up toys (See Minchas Shlomo 9; Be’er Moshe 6:32). He writes that they may be assur miderabanan according to the Chazon Ish, however.
Thus, R’ Ribiat (The 39 Melochos, p1132) writes that one may wind up a baby swing on Shabbos. He writes (ibid. Makeh Bepatish n58) that while R’ Moshe’s prohibition of wind-up toys may apply to wind-up swings, too, he heard from many poskim that one may wind up baby swings on Shabbos.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Forgot to Take Challa

Question: I baked challos for Shabbos though forgot to separate challa before baking them. Can I take challa on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Eruvin 83a) writes that one only needs to separate challa when making a dough that is the size of a tenth of an eifa. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 324:1) writes that one making a dough from the five grains with a volume of 43 (and one fifth) eggs, must separate challa. As there is a machlokes as to the size of kabeitza nowadays, there are different customs as to how large the dough must be. Common practice is to separate challa without saying a beracha if using 2.5lb of flour (See Shiurei Torah p158) and with a beracha only when using over 5lb of flour.
The Shulchan Aruch (YD 327:2; 5) writes that ideally one should separate challa after kneading the dough, though if one didn’t do so then, they can still do so after baking it. One mustn’t eat the bread until they have separated challa.
The Mishna Berura (339:26) writes that one can’t separate challa on Shabbos because of tikkun mana (the finishing act). Thus, if one forgot to separate challa in Eretz Yisrael, they wouldn’t be able to eat it until they had separated challa after Shabbos (See Bechoros 27a; Shulchan Aruch YD 323:1).
The Chayei Adam (44:22) and Mishna Berura (261:4), however, write, that one who forgot to take challa in chutz la’aretz, may leave over a slice on Shabbos, eat the rest and separate the challa from that slice after Shabbos.
In conclusion, if you leave a slice from one of your challos aside to separate challa from after Shabbos, you can eat the rest on Shabbos.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Baby Monitors on Shabbos

Question: Can we leave a baby monitor in our baby’s room on Shabbos so that we can hear her when she cries?
Answer: Contemporary poskim give different reasons for why one can’t use microphones on Shabbos.
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 2:17), R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 3:16:11; 4:26) and R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:230) write that one can’t use a microphone on Shabbos even if it has been switched on before Shabbos just like one can’t leave a radio or television playing on Shabbos. There is an issur derabanan of avsha milsa, allowing sounds to be made on Shabbos that will give people the impression that one is performing a melacha (See Shabbos 18a; Eruvin 104a; Rema OC 252:5). Thus, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:70:6) wrote that one shouldn’t set very loud alarm clocks to go off on Shabbos.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (ibid. OC 3:55; 4:84) gives other reasons why one mustn’t use a microphone on Shabbos, even if it was switched on beforehand. He explains that when one speaks loudly into the microphone, the electric current increases accordingly, and one mustn’t operate anything electrical on Shabbos. While it is difficult to understand exactly how electricity works, he compares the act of amplifying one’s voice to the melachos of kosev, (writing) boneh (constructing) and makeh bepatish (the finishing act).
Nonetheless, R’ Moshe (ibid. 4:85) permitted people to wear hearing aids, if necessary, on Shabbos. As it isn’t clear what the prohibition is, we don’t forbid using them in case of great need.
In conclusion, one shouldn’t use a baby monitor under normal circumstances on Shabbos. Only under extenuating circumstances such as with an unwell child should it be used, though when doing so, adults should be careful not to talk when in the room.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Children Waiting after Meat

Question: At what age should children begin waiting between meat and milk?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 343:1) writes that parents mustn’t feed their children non-kosher food. Thus, one can’t even feed a baby meat and milk together. How long children need to wait after eating meat before eating milky foods depends primarily on their age.
The Rema (OC 328:17) writes that very young children have a similar halachic status as a choleh shein bo sakanah (a bedridden patient), who doesn’t need to wait long between eating one meal and the next. Thus, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 4:84) and R’ Moshe Stern (Be’er Moshe 8:36:4) write that one can feed babies milk just after they’ve eaten meat, though the baby’s mouth should be cleaned first (See Chochmas Adam 40:13).
R’ Mordechai Yaakov Breish (Chelkas Yaakov YD:16; 17) writes that children only need to wait an hour until they’re nine. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 1:YD:4; 3:YD:3) writes that if older children want to have a milky meal, they only need to wait an hour. He writes that one shouldn’t, however, utilise this leniency to give them chocolate treats, etc.
Other poskim disagree, however, writing that parents are obligated to begin educating children as soon as they are old enough to understand the concept of milky and meaty foods. R’ Moshe Stern writes that children should begin waiting an hour after eating meaty foods when they are 3 years old.
R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:435) writes that children should begin waiting three hours when they are about five or six and wait (about) six hours when they reach nine or ten.
The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 89:7) writes that older children should wait longer than an hour unless they are weak.
In conclusion, babies can be fed milk after meat providing their mouths are clean. As children mature, they should be trained to wait longer. Certainly, children who are weaker or have health issues shouldn’t be encouraged to wait too long.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Responding to Another Minyan

Question: Occasionally, I daven in a shul that has multiple minyanim going on at the same time and I can hear another minyan clearly while I’m davening. Is it correct to respond to their kaddish and kedusha, etc?
Answer: R’ Chaim Kanievsky (quoted in Ishei Yisrael 24:n62) holds that one who is davening and hears kedusha from another minyan needs to respond (See Mishna Berura 124:3). R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 3:11:4) writes that according to one opinion, even the chazzan would have to respond to the other minyan.
Nonetheless, R’ Waldenberg writes that when part of one minyan, one wouldn’t need to respond to any other. One should try one’s utmost to daven in a minyan where one can’t hear other minyanim simultaneously.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:89:2) writes that according to R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and others, one would only respond to keduasha in one’s own minyan, especially if doing so would disrupt one’s concentration. This would even apply to one saying pesukei dezimra (See Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 20:1).
In conclusion, R’ Avraham Yeshaya Pfoifer (Ishei Yisrael 24:28) writes that while one davening doesn’t need to respond to kedusha and barechu, etc. that they heard in a different minyan, they may do so if they want to. One should avoid this situation where possible by davening in a place where they’re less likely to be disturbed from outside.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Guests and Shabbos Candles

Question: We’ve been invited by some friends to Friday night dinner. Where should we light our Shabbos candles?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 263:9) writes that one who lights their candles inside their house but eats in the courtyard needs to ensure that their candles burn longer so that they can see them when they come back inside. Failure to do so will result in the beracha being a beracha levatala. The Mishna Berura (263:40) writes that while it is ideal for the candles to burn into the night, it is sufficient even if they burn during his meal when one eats before nacht (See Baer Heitev 263:14).
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 263:6) writes that students who learn away from home should ideally light their Shabbos candles in their bedrooms. Thus, the Mishna Berura (236:46) writes that while the hosts should light on the Shabbos table, guests should ideally light in their own room even if they aren’t eating there at all.
Following this, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:183) writes that one eating out though sleeping at home should ideally light at their own house. It is ideal if they can leave the candles burning until they come home, though if necessary they can stay with them for a few minutes before they go out.
Likewise, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 45:8) writes that while children who visit their parents for Friday night dinner often light together with their parents, they should ideally light in their own houses.
If lighting at one’s house isn’t an option, then one can light in their host’s house. Even though their host has lit candles one can still light with a beracha as they are adding to the light (Mishna Berura 236:35).
In conclusion, it is preferable to light where one sleeps on Friday night, rather than where one eats.