Monday, 29 August 2016

Preparing Egg and Liver on Shabbos

Question: I’ve always prepared my egg and liver before Shabbos lunch. Is that a problem?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 321:9) writes that the melacha of tochen, grinding, doesn’t apply to food that doesn’t grow from the ground such as meat and eggs. Thus, while one needs to be careful not to chop the onion too fine, one is allowed to cut liver and eggs into very small pieces or mash it with a fork (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 8:23). The Mishna Berura (321:36) writes, however, that one mustn’t use a specialized utensil such as a grater to cut such foods, as it is uvda dechol, weekday activity. R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 6:3) writes that one may use an egg slicer even for vegetables, as it is simply a few ’knives’ placed closely together.
As shelling the eggs is considered borer, separating, one must only prepare them right before the meal.
Another potential issue with mixing the ingredients together is losh, kneading. R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 8:23) writes that while there are reasons to permit mixing the ingredients together normally, ideally one should do it slightly differently, placing the ingredients in a different order to normal and mixing it in a crisscross rather than circular fashion, etc. (See Mishna Berura 321:68; Baer Moshe 6:44).
In conclusion, while onion and other vegetables can’t be chopped too fine, egg and liver may be chopped and mashed. When mixed with other ingredients, ideally it should be done with slight variations. It should only be prepared right before use.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Shaving before Shacharis

Question: Is it appropriate to shave before shacharis?
Answer: The Mishna (Shabbos 9b) writes that one mustn’t cut one’s hair before davening mincha as we are concerned that they will forget to daven.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 89:7) writes that this prohibition does not extend to before shacharis as it isn’t common for people to have a haircut so early in the morning (See Rambam, Tefilla 6:7).
Nonetheless, the Elya Rabba (89:12) explains that this refers to the time before alos hashachar. All work, including haircuts, is forbidden after that time before one davens. Thus, the Mishna Berura (89:36) writes that one can’t have a haircut after alos hashachar before shacharis. He concedes, however, that it is sufficient to just say the birchos hashachar first for activities that one regularly gets up early to perform.
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo 2:7) writes that one shouldn’t shave before shacharis as it is no different from taking a haircut (See Ohr Letzion 2:7:9).
However, the Piskei Teshuvos (89:24) writes that people who shave regularly may do so before shacharis as we don’t need to be worried that they will get distracted and miss davening. Similarly, R’ David Yosef (Halacha Berura 89:36) allows it, writing that there’s a difference between having a haircut and shaving, etc.
In conclusion, while it is preferable to shave at other times, one who shaves regularly may do so before shacharis. Ideally, one should say birchos hashachar beforehand.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Guests on Shabbos Tisha B’av

Question: Can I invite guests on Shabbos Tisha B’av?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 552:10) writes that if Tisha B’av falls either on Sunday, or on Shabbos and so is observed on Sunday, then one may eat meat and drink wine during seuda shelishis. Even though normally the seuda mafsekes, the meal before the fast is eaten in a state of mourning, one isn’t allowed to mourn on Shabbos.
The Magen Avraham (OC 552:14) and Aruch Hashulchan (OC 552:12) write that while it is prohibited to limit oneself from eating properly because of Tisha B’av, one must eat this meal in a solemn mood and mustn’t invite guests.
The Mishna Berura (552:23) writes, however, that if one usually spends seuda shelishis in company of friends then not doing so because of Tisha B’av is a public demonstration of mourning which is prohibited on Shabbos. Likewise, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:112:1) writes that one may sing zemiros during seuda shelishis even if one doesn’t regularly sing.
In conclusion, one may invite guests throughout Shabbos Tisha B’av, though one shouldn’t do so for seuda shelishis unless they normally do so.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Gardening During the Nine Days

Question: My gardener comes every month to mow the lawn and trim the hedges, etc. Can he come during the nine days?
Answer: The Mishna (Taanis 26b) tells us that when the month of Av enters, we decrease our rejoicing. The Gemara (Yevamos 43a) writes that among other things, one shouldn’t build or plant during these nine days. Tosafos writes that the Gemara Yerushalmi qualifies this prohibition as building or planting for joyous purposes such as building a house for a wedding and planting a royal garden. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:2) only forbids building or planting for joyous purposes. The poskim, however, extend these restrictions to anything done for beauty (See Mishna Berura 551:12). Thus, one should avoid planting new plants and herbs.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:374) writes that one may, however, mow their lawn and maintain their garden during this time. It doesn’t matter whether one has their gardener do it for them or one does it themselves. On Tisha B’av itself, however, one mustn’t do any gardening.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Door Knocker on Shabbos

Question: Can one use a doorknocker on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Beitza 36b) writes that chazal forbade one from dancing and playing with musical instruments on Shabbos as they were worried that they may come to fix a broken instrument (makeh bepatish).
Thus, the Gemara (Eruvin 104a) discusses whether one may make sounds that have no melody such as knocking on a door. Based on this, Rambam (Shabbos 23:4) and the Beis Yosef (OC 338:1) write that one mustn’t use any instrument that makes noise as we are concerned that one will use it to play music. The Mishna Berura (338:1) writes that the same applies to objects that aren’t created for noise. Thus, one should even avoid clapping in the normal way.
The Biur Halacha (338:1) quotes Rambam (Pirush Hamishnayos, Eruvin 104a) who implies that one may use a door knocker on Shabbos. Nonetheless, the Rema (OC 338:1) writes that one must only knock on a door on Shabbos with one’s hand and not with a door knocker.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 28:35) writes that one may use something else, such as a key, to bang on the door, providing that one doesn’t do so in a specific rhythm.
In conclusion, one shouldn’t use a door knocker on Shabbos nor should one knock in a specific rhythm.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Adjusting Fan on Shabbos

Question: Can one adjust a fan on Shabbos to blow in one direction?
Answer: R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 3:49; 4:91:5) writes that electric appliances such as lamps and fans are muktze as they are considered to be kelim shemelachtam leissur, items that serve a forbidden action on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:3) writes that such items are allowed to be moved either if one needs the space (letzorech mekomo) or for personal need (letzorech gufo).
Thus, R’ Moshe Feinstein and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:235; 5:250; 6:206) allow one to move a fan on Shabbos so that it blows in the right direction. Similarly, one can adjust its mechanical levers to allow it or prevent it from oscillating.
R’ Moshe warns, however, that one must be careful to ensure that the plug doesn’t get pulled out. Likewise, R’ Yisroel Belsky (quoted in The 39 Melochos, p1235:n165) advises that the speed dial is taped down before Shabbos to prevent people from accidentally adjusting it.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 7:OC 38:3) writes that while there are poskim who take a stringent view on this, one may follow the lenient authorities.
In conclusion, one may adjust a fan on Shabbos providing that one is careful not to adjust the speed, etc.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Disposable Cup for Kiddush

Question: Can one use a disposable cup for Kiddush?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 183:3) writes that one mustn’t use a cracked cup for bentching. The Magen Avraham (OC 183:5) writes that even a broken base disqualifies the cup. The Mishna Berura (183:11) applies this halacha to the cup used for kiddush and havdala, too (See Shulchan Aruch OC 271:10).
There is a machlokes as to how to apply this halacha to disposable cups.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:75; 3:39) writes that one mustn’t use a disposable cup for kiddush as it isn’t respectable. Using a disposable cup would be worse than a real cup with a cracked base. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 10:23) adds that just as one wouldn’t tovel such a cup as it isn’t considered a proper kli, so too it doesn’t qualify as a proper kli for kiddush (See Ohr Letzion 2:47:12).
R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 6:48), however, writes that there is no need for the cup to be particularly respectable. If there is no nicer cup available, one may use a disposable one. Similarly, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 12:23) writes that people often reuse disposable cups, especially those made for hot drinks. Thus, irrespective as to whether one ever reuses them or not, they are considered to be proper cups and may be used for kiddush (See Beer Moshe 5:55; Rivevos Ephraim 1:150:2).
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 47:n51) allows one to use disposable cups that are respectable looking and would not look out of place at a dinner.
In conclusion, one should try to use a proper cup where possible, though when necessary, one can use a disposable cup.