Monday, 13 May 2013

Too Cheesy!

Ask anyone what Shavuos reminds them of, and they’ll likely respond eating cheesecake. This minhag seems to have been first mentioned by the Rema (OC 494:3) who explains that the extra dairy dish commemorates Shavuos’s unique Korban, the Shtei Halechem. Sefer Metaamei Moshe lists 149 different reasons for this minhag!
The Maharam Mirottenburg (615) related that after eating hard cheese, he could taste it hours later. The Rema (YD 89:2) paskens that it is appropriate to wait after eating hard cheese before eating meat, just as one must between meat and milk. R’ Moshe Feinstein (YD 2:26) points out that this is only a stringency. Interestingly, the Maharshal (see Shach YD 89:17) dismisses this custom as heresy as the Gemara (Chullin 105a) writes that there is no need to wait between cheese and meat! The Gra disagrees, saying that it is similar to adopting other personal stringencies. Nonetheless, this has become the accepted practice for Ashkenazim (See Chochmas Adam 40:13). Sefardim have various lenient opinions to rely on (See Yabea Omer YD 6:7).
Exactly what constitutes ‘hard cheese’ is a matter of much debate. Fatty, greasy cheese and cheese that has developed holes would both qualify as ‘hard’ (See Taz and Aruch HaShulchan YD 89:11). The Shach (YD 89:15) writes that cheese that has aged for 6 months, such as ‘swiss cheese’ (Taz 89:4) generally qualifies as hard cheese.  While some measure the 6 months from the time of production, R’ Yisroel Belsky maintains that the cheese only matures while in the factory, before it is packaged. Mild cheddar is typically a couple of months old, though mature cheddar is often older than 6 months.

R’ Aharon Kotler held (Ohr Yisroel 6:p89) that only cheese which needs a sharp grater to cut up is considered ‘hard.’ Following this, R’ Moshe Heinemann classes parmesan cheese as one of the few ‘hard cheeses’. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Mishneh Halachos 16:9) and the Chazon Ish (Maaseh Ish 5:p22) likewise, held rather leniently.
The Yad Yehuda (89:26) writes that if hard cheese is used in baking, it loses its ‘hard cheese’ status when it melts. R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (Kovetz Teshuvos 1:582) disagrees, however, as melting the cheese doesn’t change its taste.
While eating dairy foods is certainly an important minhag, the Darchei Teshuva (89:19) challenges it, saying that there is a more important mitzva to eat meat as part of Simchas Yom Tov and this mitzva applies during every meal. R’ Moshe Feinstein, however, notes (OC 3:68) that we eat meat to remember the Korban Shelamim which was only brought once a day. Thus, one could have both dairy meals to fulfill the Shavuos custom and meat meals to properly fulfil Simchas Yom Tov.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Don’t Rub It In

Most contemporary poskim (Mishna Berura 326:30, Aruch Hashulchan OC 326:11) forbid using bar soap on Shabbos. While some have argued that the reasons to forbid it no longer apply, it is universally accepted that it should not be used.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (OC 1:113) writes that liquid soap is also problematic because when using soap, foam is created and the soap becomes even smoother. This is a problem of mimachek (smoothing). He concludes that he didn’t allow it in his house and it is best to be stringent.
Many poskim write that the original prohibition for bar soap does not extend to liquid soap and it may be used. (See Aruch Hashulchan 326:11, Kaf Hachaim 326:43 and Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos 32:4). In response to the authorities that hold foam should be forbidden because of nolad (creating a new entity), the Kovetz Teshuvos (1:38) writes that foam does not last. It must be permitted as it is no different from pouring beer on Shabbos, which is permitted even though it produces a foamy head. Thus, foaming soap would be permitted.
There is a further problem, however, of mimarayach, smearing thick oil (Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Berura 314:11). Thin oil, such as baby oil, may be used. While it is unclear what exactly constitutes thick and thin, many Poskim allow the use of dishwashing liquid soap, though there is debate about thicker hand-washing soap. R' Ribiat notes that some are particular to water down their liquid soap before Shabbat in order to accommodate the strict approach.