Sunday, 4 December 2016

Plasters on Shabbos

Question: Can we use plasters (band aids) on Shabbos? Do they need to be prepared beforehand?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (328:1) writes that one mustn’t perform any act of healing for one who is healthy but slightly uncomfortable (mechush) on Shabbos. Nonetheless, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 34:3) writes that one may apply a plaster to a cut on Shabbos, as it primarily serves to protect the wound from becoming infected.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 340:14) writes that sticking is a tolda of tofer, sewing. Thus, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 8:15:14:6) writes that ideally one should stick the plaster onto one’s body, rather than stick the ends over each other, thereby creating a weaker attachment.
The Rema (OC 317:3) brings a machlokes as to whether one may undo temporary stitching on Shabbos or not (See Mishna Berura 317:21). Accordingly, there is a machlokes as to whether one may remove the plastic tabs from plasters on Shabbos.
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 5:39:2; 9:41) writes that one would only be allowed to undo threads or removing something sticky that was tied or stuck on for very temporary use. As tabs on plasters aren’t so temporary, one mustn’t remove them on Shabbos (See Be’er Moshe 1:36).
Nonetheless, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo 328:45; Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 9:n55) held that the halacha follows the lenient opinion, and one may undo or unstick something that is not supposed to be tied or stuck long-term. Thus, the tabs may be removed on Shabbos.
Likewise, R’ Benzion Abba Shaul and R’ Pesach Eliyahu Falk (Machazeh Eliyahu 70:1) explain that although the tabs were placed on the plasters during production and may have been there for a while, that does not preclude them from being considered temporary, and one may remove them (See Az Nidberu 7:34; 35).
In conclusion, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 16:6:5) writes that it is ideal to remove the tabs and replace them before Shabbos. Either way, most poskim allow one to open and apply a plaster on Shabbos.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Beracha on Fruit Hors D'oeuvre

Question: Is one supposed to say a beracha on a fruit hors d'oeuvre if they’ve washed for a bread meal?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 41b) writes that one must say a beracha before eating fruit that was brought in to a meal, unless it serves as an actual dish or is eaten as a condiment together with the bread.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 177:1) explains that the beracha of hamotzi that one recites over bread only exempts foods that are eaten primarily to satisfy one’s hunger. Thus, the Mishna Berura (177:4) writes that if one has fruit as a dessert, one will need to say a beracha first. If one started eating the fruit with bread, they wouldn’t need to say a beracha.
The Mishna Berura writes that there is a machlokes as to whether one should say a beracha on fruit cooked together with another dish. He suggests that it is ideal to eat a piece of fruit first and say the beracha on that (See Shaar Hatziyun 177:7). The same would apply to a dish made of fruit served as part of the main meal (Biur Halacha).
The Magen Avraham (OC 174:11) writes that there is a machlokes as to whether one says a bracha before eating fruit as an hors d'oeuvre. Most rishonim including the Tur, Tosafos (Pesachim 115a), Bach (OC 176), Rashi (Berachos 42b) and the Mordechai (Berachos 136) hold that one shouldn’t say a beracha, while the Chinuch (430) and Rashba (Berachos 41a, quoted in Shaar Hatziun 174:45) hold that one should.
The Magen Avraham sides with the rishonim who say that one doesn’t say a beracha. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (Shaar Hatziun 174:45) writes that as this is a safek, one should avoid this scenario. One can do this either by having a small piece of this fruit before they wash, or have a different fruit first, as above.
R’ Yisroel Pinchos Bodner (Halachos of Brochos 5:D:5) writes that R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach held that an hors d'oeuvre such as melon is merely an appetizer and can’t be considered to be part of the meal itself. As such, it necessitates a beracha. R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, however, held that it does count as part of the meal and so one wouldn’t say a beracha.
R' Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:120) writes that one doesn't say a beracha before eating olives, etc. as it is normal to eat them during a meal.
In conclusion, one should ideally attempt to say the beracha in a way that satisfies the different views, either by having a small piece of fruit before one washes, or by eating another fruit that isn’t normal to eat during a meal, such as an apple. Alternately, one can eat the hors d'oeuvre together with bread and say no beracha.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Working before Shacharis

Question: I have an early morning work shift. Is it better to daven shacharis alone before I go, or to daven afterwards with a minyan?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 89:3) writes that one mustn’t work or travel before one has davened. This applies from alos hashachar, dawn, when one can begin davening. As one cannot daven before alos hashachar, one may work then. The Mishna Berura (89:37) writes that if one is going to work within half an hour of alos hashachar, they should say birchos hashachar beforehand (See Rema 89:3; Biur Halacha 70:5).
The Mishna Berura (70:23) writes that if one begins working before alos hashachar they may continue working until afterwards providing that they ensure that they say shema and daven before it’s too late.
The Mishna Berura (89:20) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:66) write that one must daven before one goes to work even if that means that now they have to daven without a minyan whereas later they would be able to daven properly with one.
In conclusion, if one is going to work before alos hashachar, they should say birchos hashachar first and daven later.
One who goes to work after alos hashachar must daven first, even if that means foregoing the minyan. Ideally, they should still go to shul after work to hear kaddish, etc.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Visiting Israel during November

Question: I will be visiting Eretz Yisrael during Cheshvan / November.  Do I say vesen beracha or vesen tal umattar?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 117:1) writes that in Eretz Yisrael we begin saying vesen tal umattar (prayer for rain) in the beracha of barech aleinu from the 7th of Cheshvan. In chutz la’aretz, we don’t start saying it until the 60th day of the tishrei season. As this season begins on the 7th of October, we begin saying vesen tal umattar during maariv on the 4th or 5th of December (See Taanis 10a). We continue saying this until pesach.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 117:5) writes that one who forgot to say vesen tal umattar after this time must do so in the beracha of shema koleinu. Failing that, they’d have to repeat the shemone esrei.
The Mishna Berura (117:5) quotes different opinions as to what someone visiting Eretz Yisrael during this time should do.
The Pri Chadash and Pri Megadim write that providing one is planning on returning within the year, they should follow their own community. Thus, one paying a short visit to Eretz Yisrael would continue to say vesen beracha until the 4th / 5th of December.
The Birkei Yosef, however, writes that those visiting Eretz Yisrael should say vesen tal umattar.
While R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 10:9) and R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 1:73) agree with the Birkei Yosef, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 8:21) and R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:55) hold that if they are staying in Eretz Yisrael until after the 4th / 5th December then they should say vesen tal umattar. One paying a shorter visit should say it shema koleinu (See Rivevos Ephraim 4:255).
In conclusion, the Ishei Yisrael (23:37) writes that if one plans on returning before the 4th or 5th December, they shouldn’t adopt start saying vesen tal umattar early. If one doesn’t plan on returning until afterwards, they should say it in shema koleinu. Many sefardim will say vesen tal umattar even if only paying a short visit.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Disturbance in Amidah

Question: I brought my child to shul and he was making a noise disturbing others during shemone esrei. Was I allowed to take him out while I was davening?
Answer: The Mishna (Berachos 30b) writes that one may not interrupt while davening shemone esrei even if the king asks them about their welfare or if a snake is on their leg. The Gemara (Berachos 32b) and poskim (Tosafos, Berachos 33b; Shulchan Aruch OC 104:3) explain that we’re not referring to dangerous situations – thus the Mishna refers to a Jewish king and a harmless snake.
The Vilna Gaon (Biur Hagra OC 104:3) writes that there is a machlokes as to whether moving constitutes an interruption. According to Rabbeinu Yona (Berachos 21a) and the Rema (OC 104:3) moving wouldn’t be considered to be an interruption while according to the Rosh it would be and so one mustn’t move unless they’re in danger.
The Magen Avraham (OC 104:3) and Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 104:3) write that while one shouldn’t move without reason, it is okay to move if absolutely necessary, even without being in danger.
Thus, the Mishna Berura (104:1) writes that if one is distracted by a child while davening shemone esrei, they should first try to quietly motion to them (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 104:4). Failing that, they can move elsewhere. Elsewhere, the Mishna Berura (96:4) writes that one shouldn’t begin davening with a young child in front of them as they will likely distract them.
R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (Dirshu Mishna Berura 104:n3) held that if the child is disturbing others in shul, they must be removed. R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Lezion 2:35:31) adds that it is better for a parent to stay home to daven with their child rather than bring them to shul if they may disturb.
In conclusion, one should only bring children to shul if one believes that they won’t disturb. In the unlikely event that they disturb, their parents can remove them even during their shemone esrei.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Mincha Before Shekia

Question: By the time I get home in the Winter, it is already after shekia. Is it better to daven mincha by myself before shekia or to daven after shekia in a chassidishe shul after shekia?
Answer: The Mishna (Berachos 26a) brings a machlokes as to whether one can daven mincha up until plag hamincha or until the evening. While Rashi and others define evening as nightfall, Rabbeinu Yona (Berachos 18b) and Rambam (Tefilla 3:4) hold that one only has until shekia as it corresponds to the korban tamid which mustn’t be offered after shekia. The Gemara writes that as this machlokes was never resolved, one can choose one time over the other (See Shibolei Haleket 48; Raavad 194). The Mishna Berura (Shaar Hatziun 233:18) writes that the machlokes as to whether we consider shekia or tzeis hakochavim the beginning of the evening is based on a machlokes between Rabbeinu Tam and the Vilna Gaon (OC 459:2) as to how we calculate shekia.
The Rosh (Berachos 4:3) and Shulchan Aruch (OC 233:1) write that one must choose one opinion and be consistent with it, not changing from one day to the next. Different communities have adopted different practices. Ashkenaz shuls typically daven mincha before shekia while chassidishe shuls are more inclined to daven after shekia (See Minchas Yitzchak 4:53:22).
There is a machlokes as to what one who usually davens earlier should do if they can’t get to a minyan until after shekia.
R’ Yaakov Emden (Mor Uketzia 233) and R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 5:22) write that it is preferable to wait to daven. R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 9:48) writes that they should daven alone unless it has just turned shekia, in which case he should daven with a minyan.
Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (233:14) writes that it is better to daven (and complete) mincha without a minyan before shekia than to daven later with a minyan. Only under extenuating circumstances, can one daven after shekia (Shaar Hatziyun 233:21). Similarly, many acharonim including the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 233:9) and R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:24) stress the importance of davening mincha before shekia.
In conclusion, unless the minyan starts right before or at shekia it would seem preferable to daven by oneself rather than to daven with a minyan after shekia.

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.