Sunday, 6 October 2019

Build Sukka After Yom Kippur

Question: I heard that one is supposed to build their sukka after Yom Kippur though I don’t always have the strength to do so after fasting. How important is it?
Answer: The Rema (OC 624:5; 625:1) writes that it is commendable to begin building one’s sukka straight after Yom Kippur so that one goes from one mitzva to another. The Pri Megadim (Mishbetsos Zahav 624:3) and Mishna Berura (624:19) add that one should complete assembling it the following day.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 625:11) stresses the importance of building one’s sukka oneself rather than having another do so on their behalf. One should at least place a little sechach on by themselves.
The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 25:1) questions whether one who is unable to build the sukka oneself immediately after Yom Kippur should rather appoint somebody else to do so on their behalf. On the one hand, it is always preferable to do the mitzva at the first opportunity, though on the other hand, it is preferable to perform mitzvos oneself rather than by appointing others to do so on their behalf. The Sdei Chemed (Mem:58) and R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 4:66) write that in such scenarios, one should rather preferable to perform the mitzva oneself, even if it isn’t the ideal time.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 624:7) writes that if one cannot build their sukka on motzaei Yom Kippur, they should learn the halachos of building a sukka during that time instead (See Kaf Hachaim OC 624:35).
Nonetheless, the Shaarei Teshuva (625:1) argues that it is best to begin building one’s sukka before Yom Kippur (See Avnei Yashpei 8:110:3).
In conclusion, one should try one’s utmost to at least place some sechach on one’s sukka on motzaei Yom Kippur. One who cannot do so should learn some of the halachos then instead.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Late for Shofar

Question: I am scheduled to be on security rota on Rosh Hashana morning and don’t know if I’ll make it back in shul for the beginning of the shofar. What should I do if I arrive late?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 590:2) writes that one must listen to at least 30 sounds of a shofar.
The Mishna Berura (585:11) writes that one who wasn’t present for the berachos should recite them quietly by themselves before the baal tokea begins blowing. If one comes in and doesn’t have time to recite the berachos before the blowing then one can no longer do so as they have fulfilled the mitzva mideoraisa by hearing thirty blasts.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 585:39) quotes the Pri Haaretz (9) who writes that one can still recite the berachos. Tosafos (Sukka 39a) and the Rosh (Sukka 3:33) write that if one picks up the lulav and esrog before they said the berachos they can still recite them as they are still involved in performing the mitzva when they shake them (See Mishna Berura 651:26). Likewise, when one is in the middle of listening to the shofar, one may still recite the berachos. The Kaf Hachaim challenges this, however, writing that one has essentially completed the mitzva.
Nonetheless, R’ Asher Weiss (Ki Savo 5765) writes that one can recite the berachos as one is still in the process of fulfilling the mitzva. One may even do so in between the berachos of one’s own amida if necessary.
In conclusion, one who comes late to hear the shofar should recite the berachos quietly. If they arrive as the shofar begins, they should recite them before the next set. It is important to hear at least thirty blasts.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Ordering a Taxi when Shabbos Ends

Question: We are going on holiday on motzaei Shabbos. Can we order a taxi before Shabbos to be waiting outside our house the minute Shabbos ends?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 307:4) allows one to give a non-Jewish person money before Shabbos for them to purchase something providing that they don’t specify that they should buy it on Shabbos. The Taz (OC 307:3) writes, however, that if one tells the non-Jewish person that they’re leaving on motzaei Shabbos, it is as if they specified that it must be purchased on Shabbos as there is no other realistic time for them to purchase it.
Following this, R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 6:25) writes that one mustn’t book a taxi to be waiting for when Shabbos ends as inevitably, one is instructing the taxi driver to drive to their location on Shabbos. One would have to wait at least as long as it would take for the driver to arrive from the taxi rank or an average journey.
R’ Shalom Gelber and R’ Yitzchak Rubin (Orchos Shabbos 2:23:65), however, argue that the taxi driver’s journey to pick one up is incidental and not part of the instruction. They quote the Taz (OC 276:3) and Mishna Berura (276:27) who write that one is allowed to ask a non-Jewish person to wash their dishes even if that means that they will inevitably switch the lights on. Although they are doing so in order to perform something on your behalf, this is considered as doing so for themselves. Likewise, as the driver brings their car in order to perform their job, this is considered as if they are doing so for their own needs.
In conclusion, one is allowed to ask a non-Jewish driver to pick them up immediately after Shabbos even though they will be driving on Shabbos to get there.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Benefitting from a Child’s Melacha

Question: Our 11 year old son got up on Shabbos morning and switched the kettle on to make himself a drink forgetting it was Shabbos. Could we have used that hot water?
Answer: The Gemara (Sukka 42a) teaches that parents are obligated to teach and train their children to do mitzvos. The Mishna Berura (128:123) explains that this age varies between different children and mitzvos.
The Gemara (Yevamos 114a) teaches that one mustn’t instruct children to carry in a reshus harabim on Shabbos though one may allow them to do so of their own volition. Thus, Rambam (Maachalos Asuros 17:27) writes that the beis din does not need to protest against children who are eating non-kosher food or breaking Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 343:1) adds that one must prevent children doing a prohibited melacha for an adult, however.
The Mishna Berura (318:5) writes that if a non-Jewish person performs a prohibited melacha on behalf of a Jewish person on Shabbos then one must not benefit from that melacha on Shabbos, though wait the amount of time that it took after Shabbos. Thus, if they cooked something for half an hour on Shabbos, one would have to wait at least half an hour after nacht to eat that food (See Shulchan Aruch OC 325:6).
The Biur Halacha (325:10) quotes the Magen Avraham (325:22) and Pri Megadim (325:22) who write that this applies equally if a child performs a melacha on an adult’s behalf. If however, the child performs the melacha for their own sake then one may benefit from the melacha immediately.
In conclusion, while one would not normally be able to benefit from something cooked on Shabbos even accidentally (See Mishna Berura 318:7), if a child did the melacha for themselves, one may benefit from the melacha and use water they had heated.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Non Jew Preparing on Shabbos

Question: We’re making sheva berachos on Shabbos. Are our non-Jewish waiters allowed to wash our dishes afterwards or do we need to ask them to come back after Shabbos?
Answer: Rambam (Shabbos 23:7) writes that one is not allowed to wash dishes on Shabbos for use afterward. Such hachana, preparation, is prohibited as it is akin to mesaken, fixing things. The Ra’avad, however, explains that it is prohibited because it is an unnecessary tircha, effort.
R’ Yisroel Dovid Harfenes (Nishmas Shabbos 4:364) suggests that this machlokes would make a difference to our scenario. According to Rambam one wouldn’t be allowed to ask a non-Jewish person to do the melacha on their behalf while according to Raavad, it should be permitted as there is no reason to prevent non-Jewish people from expending effort on Shabbos. While the poskim generally follow Raavad in this machlokes, he writes that the poskim do not allow asking non-Jews to perform hachana unnecessarily.
The Magen Avraham (510:13) writes that not only is one forbidden from making cheese on Yom Tov because it is a tircha, but one mustn’t ask a non-Jewish person to do it on their behalf either (See ibid. 321:7).
The Elya Rabba (252:12) and Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 503) are more lenient, however, allowing one to ask a non-Jewish person to perform an act of hachana, providing that no other melacha is involved.
Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 319:18) and Mishna Berura (254:43; 319:62; 510:23) allow one to be lenient in extenuating circumstances, however, such as to prevent significant financial loss (See Machazeh Eliyahu 63:35; Sharaga Hameir 2:42:7).
Thus, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:284) writes that if one employed staff to work for an hourly rate on Shabbos, one wouldn’t be able to instruct them to wash the dishes. If one stipulated that one needed it done, for example, by Sunday afternoon, then the waiters are free to wash the dishes whenever they want. Likewise, if one merely states that the dishes are dirty and they understand that they need cleaning, they are allowed to wash them.
In conclusion, one should not ask a non-Jewish person to wash dishes for them on Shabbos for later use, though one can tell them that the dishes are dirty and allow them to wash them.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Inviting to a Bris

Question: I see that people are particular to inform people that they are making a bris rather than to invite them. Is this necessary?
Answer: The Gemara in (Pesachim 113b) teaches that one who doesn’t participate in a seudas mitzva is ostracized in Heaven. The Rashbam writes that an example of such a seudas mitzva is a bris seuda.
Following this, the Rema (YD 265:12) writes that somebody who avoids eating at a bris seuda is considered ostracized in Heaven. Thus, the Pischei Teshuva (YD 265:18) writes that one who makes a bris should be careful not to invite others explicitly to their seuda as they may not be able to attend.
The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 265:37) quotes the Midrash (Pirkei Derebbi Eliezer 29) which implies that a bris seuda is a mitzva mideoraisa, though writes that one doesn’t need to be concerned about this ostracization nowadays. One should still make every effort to attend.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (OC 2:95) writes that the minhag remains not to explicitly invite people to a bris seuda. He explains that there is a greater mitzva to attend a chasuna than a bris seuda. Thus, he allows one to shave during the sefira, if necessary, to attend a wedding, though not for a bris seuda. Nonetheless, the baby’s father has a mitzva to host a seuda for his son’s bris and it is inappropriate for those invited to turn down their invitations.
In conclusion, the minhag is for parents to inform people that they are making a bris seuda. This serves as a reminder as to the greatness of the simcha of this mitzva.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Affixing Mezuzos with Tape

Questions: The sofer recently came round to my house to check my mezuzos. Most of my mezuzos are affixed with double-sided tape and he told me that it’s preferable to attach them with nails, though I am reluctant to do so in a rented house. Do I need to do so?
Answer: Rambam (Mezuza 5:6) and the Shulchan Aruch (YD 289:4) write that one should hang the mezuza either with nails or by placing it into a hollow in the doorpost.
R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 4:140:12) notes that many people fix their mezuzos with glue, thereby not fulfilling the mitzva to attach a mezuza. Glue has a tendency to dry out causing the mezuzos to fall.
Nonetheless, other poskim understand nails to be an example of fastening the mezuza well. Thus, the Aruch Hashulchan (YD 289:15) writes that if one wraps the mezuza well and then sticks that wrapping or case firmly with glue, that is as good as nails.
R’ Mordechai Yaakov Breisch (Chelkas Yaakov YD 164), R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 7:72:3) and R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 6:58) all quote the Aruch Hashulchan as well as the Nimukei Yosef (Bava Metzia 102a) who writes that one can use either nails or sticky lime.
In conclusion, one can use anything to attach one’s mezuza to their doorpost providing that it is firmly attached.