Sunday, 30 November 2014

Announcing Yaaleh Veyavo

Question: What are the halachos of reminding others to say yaaleh veyavo on rosh chodesh? Is it okay to say ‘yaaleh veyavo’ loudly during shemoneh esrei?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 236:2) writes that the chazan announces ‘rosh chodesh’ before shemoneh esrei to remind everyone to say yaaleh veyavo. As this is necessary for davening, it is not considered to be an unnecessary hefsek (See Shut Harashba 1:293). The Mishna Berura (Shaar Hatziyun 236:4) points out that one may not announce this during shacharis, though, as there mustn’t be the slightest interruption before shemoneh esrei. Nowadays, the minhag is to announce ‘yaaleh veyavo’, though some bang on a table instead.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 236:16) writes that the chazzan may announce the words ‘yaaleh veyavo’ loudly while saying his shemoneh esrei. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Rosh Chodesh 1:1) wrote strongly against anyone other than the chazzan / gabbai calling out any words during shemoneh esrei. One is allowed to hint to someone else to say yaaleh veyavo, however. R' Moshe Stern (Be’er Moshe 4:10) writes similarly that while anyone may say the words ‘yaaleh veyavo’ loudly, no one else should do so afterwards.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 236:17) write that one may not make other announcements during maariv that are of lesser importance, such as al hanissim, though the Mishna Berura (236:7) allows it (See Magen Avraham 236:1).

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Buying non-Kosher Food

Question: I want to buy gifts for our non-Jewish clients. Can I buy them non-Kosher food?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (YD 117:1) writes that one mustn’t do business with any food which is forbidden to eat mideoraisa. The Rema and Beis Yosef (YD 117) write that one mustn’t, therefore, buy such food for one’s non-Jewish workers as one stands to benefit from giving such gifts (See Kaf Hachaim YD 117:28).
The Taz (YD 117:2), however, allows buying such food for workers, as this does not constitute business (See Shach YD 117:3).
The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 117:28) and Kaf Hachaim (YD 117:47) write that if one received non-Kosher meat, one may pass it on to a non-Jew.
As meat and milk that were cooked together are assur behanaah, (forbidden to benefit from, See Shulchan Aruch YD 87:1), if one received such a food product, one may not even pass it on to a non-Jew. The Rema writes that this doesn’t apply to chicken cooked in milk (or other foods assur miderabanan). Thus, one may buy food that is bishul akum, etc.
The Kaf Hachaim (YD 117:52) writes, however, that even those poskim who are stringent would allow buying gifts for non-Jews. Likewise, the Aruch Hashulchan (YD 117:19) writes that one doesn’t need to spend more money in order to buy Kosher food.
The Rema (YD 123:1) writes that as there is a machlokes about the status of non-Kosher wine (stam yeinam), one should not benefit from it unless one will make a substantial financial loss. The Chochmas Adam (75:14) writes that if one receives such a bottle, they may rely on the lenient authorities and pass it on.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Slow-Cookers on Shabbos

Question: Do I need to line my slow-cooker with foil in order to use it on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 36b) writes that to prevent one from accidentally lighting a fire on Shabbos (mavir) there is a restriction against leaving uncooked food cooking on Shabbos (shehiya). The Mishna (Shabbos 3:1) teaches that one may place a pot in an oven after one has removed the coals (garuf) or cover the coals with ashes (katum).
The Chazon Ish (OC 37:11) writes that placing a metal sheet, or blech, over one’s stove hardly affects the cooking and so doesn’t help on Shabbos. Nonetheless, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 253:11), R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:93), R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 7:15) and R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 1:91) write that placing a metal sheet or blech over one’s stove would be considered garuf vekatum, allowing one to leave food on the flame even if it wasn’t yet fully cooked when Shabbos begins (See Biur Halacha 253:1).
A second issue with slow-cookers is hatmana, insulating. The poskim debate as to whether it is enough for just the lid to be uncovered, or if part of the sides need to be exposed to avoid hatmana. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo, Shabbos 257:13) maintains that in order to avoid the issue of hatmana, one must line the pot with foil which should stick out a little so that it is noticeable. R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 9:52), however, writes that as the pot is not covered on top, there is no issue of hatmana (See Rema OC 253:1; Taz OC 258:1; Shulchan Aruch Harav, Kuntres Acharon 257:3(. R’ Dovid Ribiat (The 39 Melochos, p633) writes that this was also the view of R’ Moshe Feinstein (See Igros Moshe OC 4:74).  
R' Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (quoted in Orchos Shabbos 2:n149) maintained that in order to avoid hatmana, one must raise the pot insert a little. Thus, some place some scrunched up foil underneath the pot, too.
In conclusion, one should ideally line their slow-cooker with a foil-blech, especially if one may want to return the pot to the flame.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Destroying Fruit Trees

Question: We have an apple tree in our garden that produces apples each year. Its roots are now causing damage to our house. Can we cut it down?
Answer: The Torah (Devarim 20:19) writes that when fighting against a city, one must be careful not to destroy any fruit trees.
Rambam (Melachim 6:8) writes that if the tree is causing any type of damage, one may destroy it.
While the Kaf Hachaim (YD 116:85) writes that one shouldn’t destroy a fruit tree to build an extension, most poskim allow one to (See Rosh, Bava Kama 91b; Aruch Hashulchan YD 116:13, Yabia Omer YD 5:12:3).
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 5:12:5) writes that even when it is permitted to destroy the tree, it is best to sell the tree to a non-Jew first, and let them destroy it. R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 5:95) writes similarly, though adds that one should also sell him the land on which the tree grows (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:729).
While the Gemara (Pesachim 50b) writes that one who destroys fruit trees will not see a good sign all his life, the poskim (Aruch Hashulchan ibid; Yabia Omer ibid; Shevet Halevi 6:112) write that when one does so in a permissible manner, one does not need to be concerned.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Kissing Others in Shul

Question: I kissed my crying son in Shul to placate him, though was told that I shouldn't have. Yet, I’ve seen others kiss in Shul. What are the parameters?
Answer: The Rema (OC 98:1) writes that fathers should not kiss their children in Shul, as Shul is a place where one should demonstrate their love to Hashem (Sefer Chassidim 255).
R’ Avraham Yitzchak Kook (Orach Mishpat OC 22) writes that this prohibition applies to kissing other family members and friends, too.
The Ben Ish Chai (Vayikra 11) writes that while one shouldn’t kiss one’s young children in Shul, the sefardi minhag of kissing the hand of a Talmid Chacham is commendable because it is done out of respect rather than personal affection. Likewise, one may kiss one’s father or Rabbi after being called up for an aliyah where that is the accepted practice (See Kaf Hachaim OC 151:6). R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 4:12) explains that showing them kavod is a form of honouring Hashem, just as one must stand for them, even in Shul. One shouldn't kiss any other relatives who one isn't obligated to honour, however.
Others hold that as this Halacha is written in Hilchos Tefilla (as opposed to Hilchos Bais Hakenesses) this prohibition only applies during Davening (See Piskei Teshuvos 98:7).
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:66) quotes R’ Ovadia Yosef who writes (Yabia Omer EH 3:10) that when making a chuppa in a Shul, one must be careful not to embrace one’s relatives. Thus, kissing is always forbidden in Shuls. One would be allowed to kiss one’s child if they are crying, however, as this serves to calm them, rather than show affection.