Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sprinklers on Shabbos

Question: We just planted new grass and need to water it every day. Are we allowed to place a sprinkler on a timer so that it waters the grass on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Moed Katan 2b) writes that there is a machlokes as to whether one who waters plants on Shabbos transgresses the melacha of choresh, plowing, or zorea, planting. Rambam (Shabbos 8:2) writes that it is considered zorea. Thus, one mustn’t turn on a sprinkler on Shabbos.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 252:5) writes that one is allowed to open a flow of water before Shabbos that will run onto a garden on Shabbos (See Shabbos 18a). The Rema adds that if the action creates a noticeable sound (avsha milsa), such as a flour mill, then it must not operate on Shabbos.
While the sprinkler may be seen, the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 265:8) notes that chazal were not concerned that people will jump to the wrong conclusions and think that such melachos may be operated on Shabbos.
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 4:31; 5:6:3) writes that one may set one’s sprinkler to run on Shabbos, comparing this to switching lights on before Shabbos. While they can clearly be seen, avsha milsa only applies to sound. While one can also switch the taps off, he quotes the Chazon Ish who writes that one must be careful when doing so if there is more than one sprinkler to ensure that they don’t cause the water pressure to increase in the other, thereby causing extra watering. Thus, one must switch it off at the main tap (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 8:228).
Nonetheless, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Shabbos 252:2) and R’ Zvi Pesach Frank (Tzitz Eliezer 5:6:3) write that this isn’t such a concern.
In conclusion, one may place sprinklers on a timer to water one’s lawn on Shabbos, and switch the taps off as necessary.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Using a Peeler on Shabbos

Question: Can I use a potato peeler to peel fruits and vegetables on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 319:1) lists three conditions for allowing one to select an item from a mixture on Shabbos so as not to transgress the melacha of borer. One must select the ochel, wanted item, from the pesoles, unwanted item, use one’s hand rather than an implement, and it must be for immediate use. While peeling requires one to remove the pesoles from the ochel, the Rema (OC 321:19) writes that one may peel garlic and onions on Shabbos providing it is for immediate use. The Biur Halacha (321) explains that this is permitted because it is the normal way of eating such food.
The Magen Avraham (OC 321:30) extends this halacha to peeling apples. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:124) notes that as it isn’t feasible to peel an apple without a knife, doing so is considered as an extension of one’s hand, rather than considered to be using a special implement.
The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 321:30) challenges the Magen Avraham asking why one can’t peel apples even for later, writing that as both are edible, peeling an apple would be like cutting it in half (See Rivevos Ephraim 8:118:8). Thus, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 319:22) writes that peeling does not constitute borer and thus allow one to use a peeler on Shabbos. Likewise, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 321:141) allows one to peel apples for later as the peels are edible.
Nonetheless, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74 Borer 8) writes that the Mishna Berura (321:84) seems to side with the Magen Avraham, and while apple peels may be edible, if one is discarding them, then they are considered to be pesoles. As the peeler acts as a kli for borer, one cannot use it on Shabbos (See Machazeh Eliyahu 1:51).
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 3:30) differentiates between edible and inedible peels. When the peel is considered to be edible, then the peeler can be used as it is like a knife that cuts two pieces. It may not be used to remove inedible peels, however, as it is considered to be a kli for borer.
In conclusion, one may not use a peeler for inedible peels on Shabbos. While some poskim allow one to use one to peel edible peels, one should ideally only do so if one isn’t going to discard the peels.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Matza on Pesach Sheni

Question: I have heard that some people eat matza on pesach sheni. Should I do so?
Answer: Rambam (Korban Pesach 5:1) writes that anyone who didn’t manage to bring the korban pesach on Pesach either because they were tamei or because they were too far away from the beis hamikdash could do so on the 14th of Iyar.
While this doesn’t apply nowadays, R’ Yaakov Emden (Siddur Beis Yaakov, Shaar Hayesod 21) writes that there is a minhag to eat matza on pesach sheni. According to the Piskei Teshuvos (492:n11) and Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 57:9), many chassidim do so together with maror and a cooked egg. Others do so on the following night, instead.
Unfortunately, some people have a tendency to confuse such minhagim with performing the actual mitzva. Thus, R’ Yisrael Weltz (Divrei Yisrael 1:130) suggests that the reason why many who eat matza on pesach sheni do so specifically during the day and not at night is to avoid any issue of bal tosif, adding onto mitzvos. Likewise, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 10:27:10) quotes R’ Malkiel Tannenbaum (Divrei Malkiel 5:104) who writes that he had to urge people to stop saying the beracha of al achilas matza when eating matza on pesach sheni.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:129:39), however, points out that this is a chassidishe minhag, and, according to R’ Chaim Kanievsky, not the mainstream ashkenazi minhag. Likewise, the Chazon Ish himself, did not eat matza on pesach sheni (Nitei Gavriel, Pesach 57:n15). Interestingly, the Vilna Gaon was particular to only eat matza on Pesach (Maaseh Rav 185).
In conclusion, there are different minhagim about eating matza on pesach sheni. If one doesn’t have this minhag they shouldn’t make a point of eating matza then.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Checking Lettuce

Question: Is it really necessary to check lettuce for bugs?
Answer: The Gemara (Pesachim 24a; Makkos 16b) writes that one who eats an insect transgresses multiple aveiros.
While mideoraisa certain prohibited foods in a mixture would be battul berov, annulled against the majority, Tosafos (Chullin 95a) writes that this wouldn’t apply when the forbidden item can be clearly seen.
Additionally, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 100:1) writes that a beriya, whole creature, is not even battul in a ratio against one thousand kosher parts (See Gemara Chullin 99b).
The Rema (YD 84:8) quotes the Rashba (Toras Habayis 3:3; Teshuvos 274) who writes that one only needs to check dates if there is a miut hamatzuy, reasonable chance, that they are infested. There is a machlokes, however, as to what constitutes a miut hamatzuy. R’ Yaakov Bruchin (Mishkenos Yaakov YD:17) writes that it refers to a 10% chance. There is a further debate as to how to calculate this (See Minchas Shlomo 2:61). R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 4:81; 5:156:4), however, writes that it cannot be measured by such statistics. Rather, it refers to anything considered to be a common occurrence. Different kashrus organizations follow various opinions on this matter.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 1:18) stresses the importance of checking one’s lettuce before eating it for maror on seder night, though stresses that there is no need to look for insects with a magnifying glass (See Shevet Halevi 7:122; Igros Moshe YD 4:2).
In conclusion, it is very important to only eat lettuce that has been checked for bugs, though there is no need to use magnifying glasses, etc. to check them.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Building a Redemptive Nissan into a Transformational Iyar

I feature on this clip for Yom Ha'aztamaut.

  • What has Israel got to be proud of?
  • Where is it going?
  • What does that mean for us?

Sunday, 15 April 2018

New Clothes During the Omer

Question: I don’t really need a new suit, but there is a sale on. Can I buy one during the omer?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 493:1) writes that because the students of R’ Akiva died during the omer period, one shouldn’t get married or have haircuts during this time.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 3:26; Yechave Daas 1:24) writes that many people confuse this time period with the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av. Unlike the three weeks which is a time of mourning for the churban, the omer is primarily a time of growth leading up to Shavuos. Thus, while the Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:17) writes that one should ideally not say shehecheyanu during the three weeks on new clothes or a new fruit, the Mishna Berura (493:2) writes that one may say shehecheyanu during the omer.
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 18:41) notes that there were some communities that had the minhag to avoid saying shehecheyanu, though even they would allow it on Shabbos. Unless, one has such a minhag, however, one may buy new clothes and say shehecheyanu.
R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 3:17:2) writes that as the Shulchan Aruch only forbade haircuts and getting married during this time, there is no prohibition against buying new clothes or big furniture (See Emes L’yaakov OC 493:n486; Halichos Shlomo, Sefiras Haomer 11:n53)
Nonetheless, R’ Ovadia Yosef (ibid.) and other poskim write that if one doesn’t need new clothes, they should wait to wear them. Thus, R’ Betzalel Stern (Betzel Hachachma 4:48) writes that one observing the first half of the omer may buy clothes in the second half and vice versa.
The Mishna Berura (551:45) writes that one can buy clothes during the three weeks that one wouldn’t normally say shehecheyanu on. Thus, there would certainly be no issue with buying new shirts, etc. during the omer.
The Piskei Teshuvos (493:3) quotes various poskim who write that one can buy a new suit if their old one needed replacing. Likewise, one may buy children’s clothes. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 8:227) adds that one may buy clothes during the omer, especially if they are on sale.
In conclusion, one may buy new clothes during the omer, unless one has a specific minhag not to. If it is something that one should say shehecheyanu upon wearing for the first time, they should ideally do so on Shabbos.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Second Day Yom Tov in Eretz Yisrael

Question: I am visiting Eretz Yisrael for Pesach. Can I ask Israelis to perform melacha on my behalf on my second day Yom Tov?
Answer: The Mishna Berura (496:13) writes that one visiting Eretz Yisrael who observes two days Yom Tov mustn’t perform any melacha and must daven the Yom Tov davening as if they were in chutz la’aretz. There is a machlokes among the poskim, however, as to whether they may ask local people to perform melacha on their behalf.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 9:OC:49) and R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 1:19:3) write that especially as the second day is miderabanan and there is a machlokes about its status for one visiting, one may ask others to perform melacha if necessary. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 263:17) writes that one who has accepted Shabbos early may ask someone else who hasn’t yet accepted Shabbos to do a melacha on their behalf. The Magen Avraham (OC 263:30) explains that this hetter applies as they could have chosen to take Shabbos in later. According to R’ Ovadia Yosef and R’ Auerbach, these cases are similar as one visiting Eretz Yisrael can choose to stay there and keep only one day. As they potentially have a way out, they can ask someone else (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 31:n80).
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 3:73; OC:4:107) and R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 7:34), however, dismiss this comparison. R’ Moshe writes that making aliya isn’t so simple, and many who try it end up moving back. Thus, one cannot compare our scenario to one who brought Shabbos in early. Just as if one were in chutz la’aretz they wouldn’t be able to ask a non-Jewish person to do a melacha on their behalf on both days of Yom Tov, so too they can’t ask another to do so when they’re observing Yom Tov in Eretz Yisrael, whether they are Jewish or not (See Shaarei Teshuva 496:3).
Likewise, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 31:33) writes that one must not ask an Israeli to perform melacha on their behalf.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (ibid.) notes that while R’ Moshe Stern (Be'er Moshe 7:p258) initially prohibited asking, he later (ibid. p291) retracted, allowing one to ask an Israeli to do a melacha on their behalf, noting that the minhag is to be lenient.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 4:77:26) writes that one may rely on the lenient poskim under extenuating circumstances. He quotes R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 11:29) who writes that while one may benefit from such melacha, one should avoid asking them where possible.
In conclusion, it is certainly preferable not to ask Israelis to perform unnecessary melachos for one observing yom tov sheni in Eretz Yisrael, though one may benefit from melacha that they do.