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 place a blech in my slow-cooker?
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).  
One way of allowing food to be left on a flame, is by placing a blech over the flame. (This only applies to slow-cookers that have a setting control.) While placing foil in between the heating element and bowl helps for shehiya, it is arguable whether it also helps for hatmana, the prohibition against ‘insulation’.
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 (See Rema OC 253:1; Taz OC 258:1; Shulchan Aruch Harav, Kuntres Acharon 257:3).
Otzros Hashabbos (p514) quotes contemporary poskim on both sides of this debate: R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo 257:13) and R' Yosef Shalom Elyashiv forbid its use, whereas R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 9:52) and R’ Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg permit it.
R’ Ribiat (The 39 Melochos, p615, n187) writes that even according to R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, it is sufficient to line the inside of one’s slow-cooker with foil, though it should stick out a little and be noticeable. Those following R’ Elyashiv raise the insert slightly by placing some scrunched up foil balls underneath to ensure that the top of the sides are not insulated.
R’ Moshe Feinstein is quoted as taking a more lenient approach saying that there is no hatmana so long as the lid is not enclosed  (Ribiat p633; See Igros Moshe OC 4:74). He writes (Igros Moshe OC 1:93) that one should tape up the control settings before Shabbos. Similarly, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Chazon Ovadia 1:p64) permits using one, though writes that one must cover the control settings.
Especially as one may want to return the pot to the flame, it is advisable to line one’s slow-cooker with a foil-blech.

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.