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: What are the halachos of holding and feeding my pets on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 128b) writes that animals are muktza and so must not be moved on Shabbos (See Mishna Berura 308:146). One may walk a dog in the street even outside an eruv, though there are certain criteria that must be followed (See The 39 Melochos p877).
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 5:22:21) writes that small birds that are usually played with are not muktza, though elsewhere (Tiltulei Shabbos, p 119) is quoted as taking a stricter approach. As there is a machlokes as to whether playful pets are muktza, too, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 5:26) writes that one should follow the majority of poskim and not move one’s pets. Nonetheless, as some poskim (Az Nidberu 8:36) are lenient, one shouldn't criticize those who do handle their pets on Shabbos.
Certainly, if one’s pet is in distress, one may be lenient and move it or carry it (Mishna Berura 305:70; Yabia Omer 5:26). Thus, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 27:27) allows one to return a fish that had jumped out of its aquarium.
On Shabbos one may feed one’s own animals and any other animals that depend on one for food (Shulchan Aruch OC 324:11). This includes feeding someone else's pets (Biur Halacha 324:10). One may not, however, go to the park and feed the birds or any other stray animal. The Magen Avraham (OC 324:5) writes that as there is a mitzvah to feed stray dogs one may feed them on Shabbos, too (See Mishna Berura 324:31; Aruch Hashulchan OC 324:2).
If the animal’s food needs a lot of preparation, it should be done before Shabbos where possible. Thus one shouldn’t cut one’s dog’s bone into smaller pieces if the dog can eat it straight from the bone (even if he avoids tochen, grinding. Mishna Berura 324:3).

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: Halachically, everyone is yotze (fulfils their obligation to hear) kiddush just by listening to one recite it (and answering amen), though it is ideal for everyone to drink from the kiddush wine (Shulchan Aruch OC 271:14).
The Mishna Berura (Shaar Hatziyun 271:89) writes that one may recite kiddush, drink from his cup, and then pass it around to others though should not pour out from it after drinking as the wine becomes pagum, unfit for kiddush. If one had done 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).
According to the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 190:5), if one drank wine that was poured out before kiddush, that is considered drinking from the kiddush wine, though R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 48:11) writes that it is preferable for those listening to drink from the main kos (See Shulchan Aruch Harav OC 190:5). R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 48:11 n68) however, 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.
In conclusion, one should either pour out wine for everybody before kiddush or pour out from his own cup into others before drinking and ensure that he is left with a revi’is in his kos.