Sunday, 23 October 2016

Sukka Hopping and Berachos

Question: On Sukkos, we go sukka hopping, visiting various friends’ sukkas. If we say the beracha, leisheiv basukka in the first one, does that cover us for subsequent visits? Do we need to say a new beracha rishona and acharona at every sukka?
Answer: The Gemara (Pesachim 101b) writes that if one moves to another house while eating, they need to recite a new beracha rishona before continuing to eat (See Shulchan Aruch OC 178:1).
The Mishna Berura (178:33; 40) writes that providing one intended on continuing their meal when they said hamotzi, they may continue eating elsewhere without reciting another beracha. The Mishna Berura (178:28) stresses that they must have eaten a kezayis of bread in the first location.
The poskim extend this halacha to other food made from the 5 grains (mezonos) as well as the shivas haminim (See Shulchan Aruch OC 178:5; 184:3).
As this halacha doesn’t apply to other foods, one who said another beracha such as shehakol would need to say a beracha acharona before moving on elsewhere (providing they had eaten a kezayis).
R’ Yisroel Pinchos Bodner (The Halachos of Brochos p151) writes that if one ate other foods along with mezonos at the first location intending to continue eating elsewhere, there is a machlokes as to whether one would need to say those other berachos again elsewhere, so it is best to avoid this scenario.
The Mishna Berura (639:48) quotes the Magen Avraham (639:17) who writes that one always needs to recite a new beracha of leisheiv basukka even if one intended to go to another sukka when he said the beracha. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura writes that walking from one sukka to the next is not considered to be a hefsek, interruption, so long as they intended to do so when they said the first beracha.
In conclusion, if one plans to visit different sukkas, they should say leisheiv basukka just at the first sukka where they eat mezonos. Providing one has eaten a kezayis at the first sukka, one doesn’t repeat mezonos (or ha’etz on the shivas haminim) at the second. One must recite any other berachos at each sukka one visits.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Move Lamp on Shabbos and Yom Tov

Question: Am I allowed to move an electric lamp in and out of my sukka on Shabbos and Yom Tov?
Answer: The Mishna (Shabbos 3:6) teaches us that oil lamps mustn’t be moved on Shabbos while they are burning. The Gemara (Shabbos 45a) explains that there is a specific type of muktze prohibition for a fire. The Chazon Ish (Hilchos Shabbos 41:16) gives two reasons for why lamps are muktze. Firstly, in order to avoid extinguishing the flame, lamps are not usually moved around. Secondly, as lamps are not normally moved around, it is muktze to move them.
R’ Moshe Feinstein writes about moving electrical appliances in a few teshuvos. He writes (Igros Moshe OC 3:49; 4:91:5) that lamps, like fans, etc. are 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). He allowed the use of electric blankets on Shabbos (OC 3:50) and wrote (OC 5:21:3) that an appliance is only muktze machmas chisaron kis (concern for monetary loss, a more stringent category) if one is reluctant to use it out of fear that it will get ruined.
Accordingly, regular lights would be allowed to be moved letzorech gufo umekomo, for its permitted functions or if its place is needed. According to R’ Moshe (OC 5:23) this would include brightening or darkening a room (See Tiltulei Shabbos, Teshuvos 11).
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 1:14:1) also wrote that there should be no reason why one shouldn’t be able to move an electric lamp on Shabbos.
Nonetheless, some poskim write that one mustn’t move electric lamps on Shabbos. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 3:43) writes that while one can’t move lights on Shabbos, one may do so on Yom Tov, providing it is switched on.
The Piskei Teshuvos (279:1) argues that the reason lamps are muktze, is because the actual flame is muktze machmas gufo, inherently muktze. Even the poskim that forbid moving lamps on Shabbos will only forbid moving incandescent lamps. All poskim would agree that lamps without a filament, such as LED and fluorescent lamps do not fall under this category, and may be moved on Shabbos.
In conclusion, as there is a machlokes concerning moving incandescent lamps on Shabbos, one should only move them if absolutely necessary. One may move LED and fluorescent lamps around as one needs them.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Children and Fast Days

Question: When should we start training our children to fast?
Answer: The Gemara (Yoma 82a) writes that we start training children to fast for ‘hours’ before they are bar mitzva or bas mitzva. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 616:2) writes that when a child reaches the age of nine, we begin to educate them about fasting by feeding them a little later than usual on Yom Kippur. When they reach 11, there is a rabbinic obligation to fast the whole day. The Rema, however, disagrees, writing that there is no such obligation.
Nonetheless, the Bach (OC 616:6) demonstrates from the Gemara that children who study all day are considered to be weak and therefore have the status of a choleh who doesn’t fast. This justifies the practice of children not fasting before they are bar mitzva or bas mitzva (See Kaf Hachaim OC 616:16). Likewise, the Mishna Berura (616:9) writes that children nowadays should not fast before they are bar mitzva or bas mitzva as they are assumed to be weak. Only if one can ascertain that the child is fit to fast, may they do so.
The Mateh Ephraim (Elef Hamagen 616:5) criticizes those who don’t feed their younger children as usual on Yom Kippur night.
While many children observe the three fasts before their bar mitzva and bas mitzva, R’ Shlomo Zalman (Halichos Shlomo, Moadim 6:n67) maintained that this custom is erroneous and has no source.
The Mishna Berura (550:5) writes that there is no obligation for children to fast for a few hours on the other fasts, either, though they shouldn’t eat too much.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 39:31) writes that a choleh or child who eats on Yom Kippur does not make kiddush before eating. Nor is there a requirement for lechem mishne. Quoting R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, he writes that they should, however, wash their hands until the wrist before eating bread.
In conclusion, 11 year old girls and 12 year old boys should ideally eat breakfast a little later on Yom Kippur. There is no obligation to train children to fast at all before their bar mitzva or bas mitzva for tisha b’av or the other minor fasts.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Eating Before Shofar

Question: Our shul makes a kiddush before tekias shofar. Isn’t it best to wait to eat until after hearing the shofar?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 652:2) writes that one mustn’t eat a meal before shaking the lulav on sukkos as we are worried that they may forget to perform the mitzva (See Sukka 38a). The Magen Avraham (OC 692:7) and Mishna Berura (652:7) write that in case of great need, one may eat a small amount of food beforehand. This includes fruit and a small piece of cake, etc. (See Shulchan Aruch OC 232:3).
Thus, R’ Betzalel Stern (Betzel Hachachma 4:147) writes that one shouldn’t eat before hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashana unless one is sick.
Others, such as the Mateh Ephraim (588:2) allow one to eat (something small) if they wouldn’t be able to concentrate properly without eating. Similarly, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 585:26; 588:11) writes that as the Gemara only mentioned this halacha with regards to lulav and not shofar, one who is hungry and feels that he won’t be able to daven as well without eating may be lenient and eat (See Shulchan Aruch OC 89:4).
Nonetheless, many poskim justify the practice of everyone eating beforehand. R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 6:7:2) writes that according to the Shulchan Aruch (OC 288:1; 597:1) and Magen Avraham (OC 652:4) it is assur to fast until chatzos on Rosh Hashana (See Mishna Berura (597:2). R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Moadim Uzemanim 1:4) writes that because one mustn’t fast, it can be considered a case of ‘great need.’ Nor do we need to be worried that one in shul will forget to listen to the shofar. Additionally, there is a difference between performing the mitzva of lulav which one can be yotzei in a few seconds, and shofar, which carries on until the end of mussaf. Lastly, he argues that there is a mitzva to be happy on Rosh Hashana. This is most difficult if one isn’t allowed to eat until after listening to the shofar. Based on these reasons, he allows one to eat even a few pieces of cake.
R’ Sternbuch concludes, however, that when one is in a shul that doesn’t stop for a kiddush, one mustn’t publicly recite kiddush and eat as there are good reasons to wait.
In conclusion, while it is ideal not to eat before hearing the shofar, it is also problematic to fast until chatzos. Especially if it will help one to daven better, one may eat first.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Pesukim on Invitations

Question: I sometimes receive wedding invitations with pesukim written on them. Can I throw them away or do I need to put them in sheimos?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 115b) writes that if one writes berachos unnecessarily it is as if they burnt the Torah, as they will eventually cause them to be discarded and mistreated. Thus, Rambam (Teshuvos Harambam 268) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 283:4) writes that one should not write pesukim on a tallis. The Shach (OC 283:6) explains that when the tallis wears out, it will likely be thrown away, together with the pesukim on it.
Following a machlokes in the Gemara (Gittin 6b), Rambam (Sefer Torah 7:14) and Shulchan Aruch (YD 283:3) disagree on whether one may write 3 or 4 words on a document without it becoming holy. The Tashbetz (2) writes that this doesn’t apply if the words are rearranged or not aligned on one straight line.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 2:135) writes that he didn’t print any pesukim on his own children’s invitations and advises others not to, either. Elsewhere (YD 4:38:4) he writes that while one does avoid the problem if they split the words onto different lines, one should still avoid writing pesukim. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo 20:n72) likewise disapproved of printing pesukim on invitations, saying that if it contains a full passuk, it requires geniza (burying).
In conclusion, one printing invitations should ideally avoid printing any pesukim on them. If one received an invitation with more than three words together, it should be placed in geniza.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Leaving Dinner Early

Question: If I want to leave a chasuna early, what do I do about bentching with a mezuman?
Answer: There are two potential issues with leaving a chasuna early. The first is whether one who is part of a large gathering can bentch without a mezuman of ten.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 193:1) writes that one eating along with nine other men must not leave early and bentch with a smaller mezuman without a minyan. The Mishna Berura (200:5) writes that if one really needs to leave early, it is best if he makes a zimun with two others.
The second issue is whether one can miss the sheva berachos that are recited after bentching.
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 2:43:15) writes that while sheva berachos needs to be recited at the meal, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to participate. The Gemara and poskim make no mention of staying as they do for bentching. Thus, one who can’t stay until the end may leave early. R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 11:84) agrees, writing that only those who participate in the bentching together with a zimun of ten are obligated to join in with the sheva berachos. It would be wrong, though, to gather a minyan to bench and say the sheva berachos without the chassan and kallah.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:56) writes, however, that everyone who participates in the meal is obligated to participate in the sheva berachos. Thus, one who doesn’t want to stay until the sheva berachos must stipulate before they eat that they don’t want to be included with everyone else and that they want to eat and bentch alone. Accordingly, one would bentch without a mezuman.
R’ Moshe Stern (Be’er Moshe 3:32) argues that the obligation to join in for sheva berachos only applies when the chassan and kalla are bentching, and not earlier. He challenges the basis for making such a stipulation, and suggests that one should rather ensure that he washes after the others, so that he isn’t starting to eat together with everyone else. Even if one does this, one would be allowed to make a mezuman, preferably with a minyan, but otherwise with just two others.
In conclusion, it is ideal if one can bentch with a mezuman of ten. If one knows that they need to leave early in advance, it is best to stipulate in advance that one doesn’t want to participate in the communal meal and wash at a different time. One who didn’t make this stipulation and needed to leave, could make a mezuman, even with two other men if necessary.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Adding Hot water to Cholent

Question: If my cholent dries out on Shabbos, may I add hot water to the pot?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 318:4) writes that one can pour hot water into a hot dish that has already been cooked on Shabbos. Yet, elsewhere, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 253:4) writes that it is forbidden to pour hot water from a kettle into a pot of food. The Beis Yosef (OC 253:15) explains that we are worried that the dish has cooled down and it is now being ‘cooked again’ by the hot water (or vice versa). Thus, providing both pots are hot, it should be permitted to pour from one to the other.
Nonetheless, R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:17:8) writes that there are other reasons why the Shulchan Aruch writes this halacha and one shouldn’t add hot water to the pot regardless as to whether it’s on the stove or not. Thus, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 4:22) writes that sefardim should ideally not add hot water to hot dishes.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:16) writes that one may transfer the contents of one pot to another while they’re both on a blech (See Mishna Berura 318:84). Quoting R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (1:n44), he writes that ideally one should pour the water directly from the urn, though if necessary one can use a cup (kli sheni) to pour the water providing the water is still hot (See Minchas Yitzchak 6:20; 10:18).
As one cannot stir the pot while it’s on the flame (maygis), one should pour the water in slowly (See Rambam, Shabbos 9:4) or remove the pot from the flame before adding water.
In conclusion, while many sefardim avoid doing so on Shabbos, ashkenazim may add hot water to a hot cholent pot on Shabbos providing that the food is fully cooked and is on a blech.