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.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Travelling on a Taanis

Question: I am travelling to Israel on asara b’teves. Can I end my fast when it ends in Israel or do I need to wait until the fast ends in England?
Answer: R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 7:76; 8:261:2) writes that as there are some poskim (Tosafos, Avoda Zara 34a; Vilna Gaon OC 562:1; Aruch Hashulchan OC 562:9) who hold that the minor fasts (asara b’teves, shiva asar b’tammuz and taanis Esther) end at shekia, one who started their fast earlier due to travel may rely on these opinions and end their fast at shekia. One travelling from Israel to America, for example, who found their taanis significantly lengthened, would be able to end their fast early if necessary, based on the timing of their departure city. One doing so must only eat what’s necessary, and not eat a proper meal until the fast is over in their arrival city. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 8:176) writes that one doing so should only eat in a quiet area and not in public where they’ll be seen by others. R’ Wosner doesn’t, however, address the scenario of one travelling eastwards who has their taanis shortened.
R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 4:122) writes that we are always lenient for these three minor fasts. Thus, whether one was travelling from Israel to England or England to Israel, they would end their fast at the earlier Israeli time. He quotes R’ Dovid Menachem Munish Babad (Chavatzeles Hasharon 1:YD:47) who writes that just as a boy turns bar mitzva when he turns 13 and we don’t need to calculate that it has been 13 complete years based on the location where he was born, so too, we don’t need to ascertain when a person travelling began performing other mitzvos.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 3:96), however, writes that one fasts according to where they’re located. Thus, one travelling on a taanis will end their fast when it is nacht in their arrival city, regardless of whether that lengthens or shortens their fast. This would even apply to one travelling on tisha b’av as there is no requirement to specifically fast for twenty four hours.
In conclusion, while there is debate regarding one travelling westwards, one travelling from England to Israel on asara b’teves may end their taanis when it is nacht in Israel even though they have shortened their fast by travelling.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Staying with the Menora

Question: I am eating out on Friday night and won’t be back until very late and I don’t want to leave my menora burning all that time. Does it matter if I won’t be there for half an hour with the lights?
Answer: As we light the candles earlier than usual on Friday, we must ensure that there is enough oil or candles to burn for at least half an hour after tzeis hakochavim. The Chaye Adam (154:18) writes that if there isn’t enough to last this long, then one hasn’t fulfilled the mitzva.
The Mekor Chaim (672) writes that remaining with the menora for half an hour is an integral part of the mitzva of lighting the menora.
Likewise, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 673:3) writes that one can’t light one’s menora with fuel that gives off an odour as it will cause people to leave the room. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 8:266:4) writes that based on this, we see that it is important for people to try and stay in the room with the menora for half an hour while the menora is alight (See Yalkut Yosef 677:2).
Nonetheless, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:394) writes that this is a nice minhag and not part of the mitzva itself. Nor is this aspect of the halacha mentioned by most of the poskim.
In conclusion, providing that one ensured that the lights could stay alight for half an hour after tzeis, one doesn’t need to stay with the lights.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Flying over Chanuka

Question: I am flying over Chanuka and won’t be home to light the menora. What should I do?
Answer: R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 7:46) writes that there is a machlokes among the poskim as to whether one who is away from their house can fulfil their obligation to light the menora by having a family member light on their behalf. The Mishna Berura (677:2) writes that one can fulfil his obligation with his wife lighting at home. R’ Weiss writes, however, that if one is in a different time zone to one’s wife at a time when he wouldn’t be able to light himself, then he wouldn’t be able to rely on his wife’s lighting. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Chanuka 13:4), however, writes that one can rely on one’s family members back home regardless of the time zone.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 2:OC:17; 3:OC:35; Yechave Daas 4:38; 5:24), R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:12) and R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 3:1-2) write that while one can use electric lights for Shabbos candles even with a beracha if necessary, chanuka lights must possess both oil and wicks. As electric lights have neither, one may only use an electric menora under extenuating circumstances, and one can’t say a beracha over such lights. If one was able to light a regular menora afterwards, he should then do so with a beracha. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:180:7; 3:240; 4:66) writes that electric flames are no good as there isn’t a proper flame. Additionally, having a lightbulb means that there is no naked flame (See Halichos Shlomo, Chanuka 15:3).
While Rashi (Shabbos 23a) writes that one doesn’t light the menora on a boat, the Maharsham (4:146), Aruch Hashulchan (OC 677:5) and R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 15:29) write that one is obligated to light a menora on a train. R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 7:67) explains that one doesn’t necessarily need to have a house in order to be obligated to light. Thus, one travelling by car would need to light (See Rivevos Ephraim 2:180:6).
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:434:5) discusses whether one should light a menora on an aeroplane. (This volume was published in 1974 when it was still acceptable to smoke on flights.) He writes that as one could argue that an aeroplane does not count as a place of living one should light without a beracha (See Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 139:13).
R’ Asher Weiss (, however, writes that there is a difference between a train and plane, and there is no obligation to light at all on a plane.
In conclusion, if one has someone else at home who can light on their behalf while it is night for both of them, they should light and be yotze them. Failing that, one can light an electric torch (preferably incandescent or halogen) if they want to fulfil the opinion of those who say one should ideally light. One wouldn’t say a beracha, though.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Saying Modim Loudly

Question: When listening to chazaras hashatz I sometimes hear the chazzan say modim quietly while everyone else says modim derabanan. Is this correct?
Answer: The Gemara (Sota 40a) writes that when the chazzan reaches the beracha of modim, the tzibbur say modim derabanan (See Rambam, Tefilla 9:4). This beracha is so important that the Gemara (Berachos 21b) writes that one who comes late to shul should not begin davening the amida unless he knows that he will finish before the chazzan reaches modim (See Shulchan Aruch OC 109:1).
The Mishna Berura (124:41) questions the practice of some chazzanim who say modim quietly. The chazzan must raise his voice if necessary, to ensure that he can be heard by at least a minyan of men.
Thus, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:91:1) questions whether the tzibbur should say modim derabanan quietly so as to ensure that they can hear the chazzan. Elsewhere, (ibid. 2:185:17; 5:76) he quotes R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv as saying that the chazzan should pause while the tzibbur say modim derabanan before continuing modim to enable everyone to hear. One shouldn’t do this, however, unless it is the minhag of that shul.
In conclusion, the chazzan should raise his voice a little while saying modim so that the tzibbur can hear him.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Tefillin over Watch

Question: Do I need to remove my watch before putting on my tefillin?
Answer: The Mishna (Megilla 24b) writes that there mustn’t be anything in between one’s tefillin and their arm (chatzitza). Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 27:4) writes that one should ensure to place one’s tefillin directly on their head and arm. The Rema, based on the Rashba (1:827), qualifies this to the tefillin boxes, though allows one to have something under the straps (See Magen Avraham OC 27:5).
The Mishna Berura (27:16) writes that the leniency only applies to the winding around the arm (kerichos). There mustn’t be any chatzitza by the tying (keshira), however (See Shaar Hatziyun 27:16). Similarly, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 27:13) writes that the minhag is to be particular not to have a chatzitza even with the arm straps.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 4:16:7) writes that according to the Chasam Sofer (YD 192) one must remove one’s rings before wrapping tefillin. The windings round the fingers are considered keshira and so a ring would be a chatzitza.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 3:2, Yabia Omer 2:OC:2) writes that especially if one wears one’s watch normally at the end of their arm after the seven wrappings, it doesn’t act as a chatzitza.
Nonetheless, he writes that while we shouldn’t prevent others from wearing their watch, it is ideal to remove it.
In conclusion, one should remove one’s ring before wrapping one’s tefillin round that finger. While one is yotze if they keep their watch on, it is commendable to remove it.