Sunday, 27 July 2014

Siyum During the Nine Days

Question: Is it okay to plan a siyum for during the nine days so that I can eat meat together with my family and friends?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:9) writes that one mustn’t eat meat or drink wine during the nine days. The Rema (OC 551:10) adds that if one has a seudas mitzva during this time then one may partake of wine and meat as such celebrations are incomplete without them. This includes Shabbos meals, a bris seuda, a pidyon haben, or a siyum.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 551:28) strongly disapproved of postponing one’s siyum to coincide with the nine days in order to eat meat, though writes that if one was learning something (extra) and planning on making the siyum then, that is commendable (See Mishna Berura 551:28). The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged people to specifically make a siyum during this time, saying it would add light to this dark period (though his minhag was not to eat meat then). Other poskim write that one should avoid making a siyum afer the 6th of Av (See Moadei Yeshurun p132).
The Mishna Berura (551:75) writes that anyone who would normally be invited to one’s siyum may participate and eat meat, too, though one shouldn’t invite extra people.
While some poskim hold that only one who was present for the learning and siyum may partake of the meal, the consensus of poskim (Minchas Yitzchak 9:45; Rivevos Ephraim 3:343; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:300) is that one who came late may still join in and eat meat (See Mishna Berura 470:10).

Sunday, 20 July 2014

God or G-d?

Question: I see that many people are particular to write ‘G-d’. Is there anything wrong with writing ‘God’ out fully?
Answer:  There is no issue in writing or printing Hashem’s name properly, providing one knows that it won’t be destroyed.
Rambam (Yesodei Hatorah 6:1) writes that there are 7 sheimos (names of Hashem) that mustn’t be erased. There is no issur in erasing a kinui (moniker) such as chanun or rachum, etc. R’ Akiva Eiger (YD 276:9 quoting the Tashbetz) writes that as translations of sheimos have the status of kinuim, there is no issur in erasing them either.
The Shach (YD 179:11) writes that Hashem’s name in a foreign language is not considered sheimos and thus may be erased. Likewise, the Mishna Berura (85:10) writes that the issur only applies to erasing sheimos in Hebrew (See Minchas Chinuch 437:5).
Nonetheless, the Aruch Hashulchan (CM 27:3) urges people to be extra particular when writing letters with sheimos even in a foreign language.
Thus, while it is not strictly forbidden to write or erase the word ‘God’, it is good practice to write ‘G-d’ and such writings must still be treated with respect. Thus, rather than thrown in the bin, a paper containing the word ‘God’ should be recycled with other documents, or wrapped before disposal (See Igros Moshe OC 4:39).

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Pets on Shabbos

Question: We recently got a pet rabbit. Are we allowed to play with her on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:39) writes that animals and birds are muktza and so must not be moved on Shabbos (See Shabbos 128b). Tosafos (Shabbos 45b) and the Mordechai (Shabbos 316) write that there is a view that as children can play with pets, they serve a practical use. Nonetheless, they write that animals are muktze, comparing them to figs and grapes which are in the process of drying. Likewise, the Maggid Mishna (Shabbos 25:25) explains that animals are considered to have no practical use on Shabbos (See Mishna Berura 308:146). The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 308:78) adds that this prohibition applies even to giving a pet bird to quieten a crying child (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 27:n101).
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 5:26) quotes other poskim who don’t consider animals to be muktze but writes that we follow the great rishonim such as the Rosh who disagrees. The Mishna Berura (324:28) cautions that when one feeds one’s animal on Shabbos, one must ensure that they don’t move it at the same time.
Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (305:70) and R’ Ovadia Yosef write that if one’s animal is in distress one can move it if necessary. Thus, while R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:16) writes that fish and aquariums are muktze, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 27:28) allows one to return a fish that had jumped out of its aquarium.
In conclusion, one cannot play with or handle animals under normal circumstances on Shabbos.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Ideal Way to Make Kiddush

Question: I have always made kiddush over my wine, and then poured some out for others after drinking though have seen others pour out wine for others before kiddush. Which is correct?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 271:14) writes that one fulfils their obligation of kiddush by listening to another person reciting it (and answering amen), though it is ideal for everyone to drink from the kiddush wine.
The Taz (OC 182:4; 190:1) writes that it is wrong to drink a little from the kiddush cup and then pour into other cups as the wine becomes pagum, unfit for kiddush after. Ideally, everyone should have wine poured out before kiddush. Thus, the Mishna Berura (Shaar Hatziyun 271:89) writes that one may recite kiddush, drink from their cup, and then pass it around to others. One should not pour out from it after drinking, however. If one did so, they could fix the pagum wine by pouring some fresh wine into the cups. One pouring out from their own cup must ensure that they are left with a revi’is in their cup (Mishna Berura 271:51). 
The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 190:5) adds that one shouldn’t pour wine out into other cups after reciting kiddush before drinking oneself, as doing so would be considered a bizayon, disgrace, to the mitzva (See Mishna Berura 296:4). Nonetheless, he maintains (OC 271:20) that there is no hefsek to pour out from one’s kos before drinking after bentching.
While R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 48:11) writes that it is preferable for those listening to drink from the main kos, he writes (48:n69) that R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach disapproved, as the Shulchan Aruch (OC 170:16) writes that it is dangerous for two people to drink from the same cup. Nonetheless, many have the custom to pass around the kos to one’s family members.
Alternately, one can pour out wine into everyone’s cup before kiddush, though unless they have a revi’is, they must wait for the one reciting kiddush to begin drinking before they do (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 48:n74).
In conclusion, one should either pour out wine for everybody before kiddush or pour out from their own cup into others before drinking, providing that they are left with a revi’is in their kos