Sunday, 29 March 2015

Pets on Pesach

Question: Do I need to feed my pet fish kosher l’pesach food over Pesach?
Answer: On Pesach one may not have any benefit from, or even own chametz. Thus, one mustn’t feed one’s animal chametz. Likewise, one must ensure that any pet food that is chametz is disposed of or sold over Pesach. One must also remember not to buy animal feed in a zoo to feed the animals. This applies even though the pet food is unfit for human consumption.
Not only may one not feed chametz to one’s animal over Pesach, but the Shulchan Aruch (OC 448:7) forbids one from instructing a non-Jew to do so on their behalf. The Mishna Berura (448:33) and Aruch Hashulchan (OC 448:12) write that one may sell their animal to a non-Jew for the duration of Pesach. It is best to sell the animal with one’s chametz to ensure that the transaction is carried out in a halachically accepted manner, and the animal should be removed to the non-Jew’s property. One shouldn’t sell the animal along with its chametz food as that is giving the impression that one is using a tricky loophole to feed one’s animal with chametz.
Although ashkenazim don’t eat kitniyos on Pesach, they are allowed to own and benefit from it. Thus, one may feed their animals food that contains kitniyos.
Rambam (Chametz Umatza 4:8) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 442:4) write that one does not need to dispose of a mixture containing chametz that is totally inedible (by humans). Thus, R’ Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 3:8:5) allows one to feed one’s fish with regular fish food on Pesach even though it contains a little chametz, as there is no way that such food can be considered edible.
Nonetheless, R’ Avrohom Blumenkrantz (Chasdei Avrohom 21) recommends one to buy kosher l’pesach food, such as dried worms, etc.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mezuza for Laundry Rooms & Wardrobes

Question: Do I need to place a mezuza on the entrance to a laundry room or walk in wardrobe?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (YD 286:2) writes that utility and storage rooms require a mezuza. The Gemara (Sukka 3a) writes that we are not required to attach a mezuza to a house which is smaller than four amos by four amos. This ranges from 3.7m2 (R’ Chaim Naeh) to 5.9m2 (Chazon Ish).
While the Rosh (Hilchos Mezuza 16) writes that both the width and length of the room needs to be at least 4 amos, Rambam (Mezuza 6:2) and Shulchan Aruch (YD 286:13) writes that it depends only on the size of the area. Thus, the Shach (YD 286:23) and Aruch Hashulchan (YD 286:21) hold that one should affix a mezuza without reciting a beracha.
The Pischei Teshuva (YD 286:11) quotes Teshuvos Chamudei Daniel who holds that a room that if it is normal for a room to be less than 4 amos by 4 amos then it still requires a mezuza (See Minchas Yitzchak 4:92; Yechave Daas 4:51).
R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 2:152) writes that if the laundry room contains soiled clothes and is less than 4 amos by 4 amos it doesn’t require a mezuza.
R' Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 3:103) writes that a small closet just used for storing things or hanging clothes does not require a mezuza.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Black Tefillin Straps

Question: As I was putting my tefillin away, I noticed that there are some spots on my retzuos (straps) where the black paint has come off. Are they kosher or do I need to paint them before wearing them again?
Answer: The Gemara (Menachos 35a) writes that there is a halacha lemoshe misinai that retzuos need to be (painted) black. According to the Elya Rabba (32:62) black is unique as any colour painted on top gets absorbed into it. Thus, black symbolises the oneness of Hashem.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 33:3) writes that only the side that shows needs to be painted black. Recently, many have bought straps that are painted black on both sides, though R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 9:16) writes that as the majority of poskim wrote that this isn’t necessary, there is no reason to do so.
The Mishna Berura (33:19) writes that one must pay particular attention to the kesher (knot) on the shel yad as that it is likely to get worn. So long as the retzuos look black at first glance they are kosher, however, even if on closer inspection they are grey or blue (Biur Halacha 33:3).
The Chafetz Chaim (Biur Halacha 33:3) writes that he isn’t sure as to whether the entire retzuos need to be black or just the minimum amount of the retzuos necessary to be kosher (See Shulchan Aruch OC 27:8).
Most poskim (Maharshag OC 1:7; Salmas Chaim 40; Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 4:28; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:22) maintain that so long as most of the straps are black, they are kosher.
In conclusion, one should paint over any white spots, especially if they are closer to the kesher and within the ‘minimum size’. When painting the straps, one should say leshem kedushas tefillin (Rema OC 33:4) and do so with ink made from kosher ingredients.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Exercise on Shabbos

Question: Am I allowed to jog or jump on a trampoline on Shabbos?
Answer: The Mishna (Shabbos 22:6) writes that there is a prohibition against being misamel on Shabbos. While Rashi translates this as massage, Rambam (Shabbos 21:28) understands it to mean exercise. Exerting oneself enough to bring out a sweat is a form of refuah, which is generally forbidden on Shabbos (See Shulchan Aruch OC 328:42). Thus, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 6:4) writes that one can’t work out with gym equipment.
The Gemara (Shabbos 113a) writes that one’s actions on Shabbos should be different to those during the week. According to Ramban (Vayikra 18:21), there is a mitzva deoraisa to rest on Shabbos. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 301:1) writes that one must not run on Shabbos unless it is to do a mitzva, such as running to shul (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 301:44). While the Mishna Berura (301:7) forbids jogging on Shabbos, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 1:58) writes that one may run to escape the rain.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 301:2) does allow one to jump and run for pleasure. One would therefore be allowed to jump on a trampoline for fun, though not for health reasons (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 16:39).
R’ Dr. Avraham Avraham (Nishmas Avraham OC 301:1) points out that if one had a medical condition and had to jog for medical reasons they can certainly do so.