Sunday, 27 December 2015

Saying Berachos with Children

Question: Can I pronounce Hashem’s name properly when teaching children?
Answer: The Gemara (Nedarim 7b) warns us about the consequences of saying Hashem’s name in vain. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 215:4) writes that one who says an unnecessary beracha has said Hashem’s name in vain. The Magen Avraham (OC 215:6) writes that according to Rambam (Berachos 1:15) this is forbidden mideoraisa while Tosafos (Rosh Hashana 33a) and the Rosh (Kiddushin 1:49) write that it is forbidden miderabanan.
The Gemara (Berachos 53b) says that when children are practicing reciting berachos, one shouldn’t say amen in response. The Kesef Mishna (Berachos 1:15) writes that it is clear from the Gemara that adults teaching children can say the berachos for them to repeat, complete with Hashem’s name. In such a case, one shouldn’t say amen when the child says the beracha (See Mishna Berura 215:14). The Shulchan Aruch (OC 215:3) writes that one should say amen, however, if they are saying a regular beracha, e.g. before eating. The Mishna Berura (215:16) points out, however, that this only applies to a child over the age of chinuch (See Mishna Berura 128:123).
R’ Yaakov Emden (Sheilas Yaavetz 1:81) writes that his father, the Chacham Tzvi, admonished a teacher who avoided using Hashem’s name when teaching children chumash. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:56) explains that this only applies when the children are reading the complete passuk in one go. R’ Moshe adds that one may even use Hashem’s name when teaching adults how to properly recite berachos.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Wet Clothes on Shabbos

Question: What can one do if they get soaked in the rain over Shabbos? Can they stand next to the radiator and hang their wet clothes up?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 301:46) writes that one can’t dry wet clothes next to a fire on Shabbos. The Magen Avraham explains that it is forbidden both because of bishul (cooking or heating) as well as melaben (whitening or improving the colour).
Thus, the Mishna Berura (301:169) writes that one can’t stand next to a heater while wearing wet clothes. This only applies if the water could get heated up to yad soledes bo (approx. 43 °C, See Igros Moshe OC 4:74).
The Mishna (Shabbos 146b) writes that it is prohibited miderabanan to lay out wet clothes to dry on Shabbos. Rashi explains that it will give the impression that it is permissible to wash them on Shabbos. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 301:45) writes that one mustn’t hang wet clothes up normally to dry even where others won’t be able to see them.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 15:35; n119) writes that one may, however, hang up a wet raincoat as everyone will realize that it became wet in the rain. Similarly, R’ Dovid Ribiat (The 39 Melochos, p719) writes that this prohibition doesn’t apply to clothes that aren’t normally washed, as people won’t suspect they’ve been washed. Thus, one may hang up a jacket that is normally dry-cleaned.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Dreidel on Shabbos

Question: May one play with a dreidel on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (CM 370:2) writes that one mustn’t gamble or play betting games. Doing so is forbidden derabanan because it is akin to stealing as when losing, one isn’t happy about giving up their money, etc. The Mishna Berura (322:22) writes that this prohibition applies equally to playing with one’s own children even though they would be happy to share, as it will lead to playing with others. Elsewhere, (Biur Halachah 670) he writes that one shouldn’t spend one’s time on Chanuka playing such games.
Nonetheless, many have the minhag to bet with a dreidel over Chanuka (See Taamei Haminhagim 859). To avoid proper gambling, many only play with nuts and sweets rather than money.
Others justify this practice when playing with small amounts of money as people playing together with their families are particularly close and generous over Chanuka and we aren’t worried about the prohibition (See Nitei Gavriel, Chanuka 51:n5).
Nonetheless, the Rema (OC 338:5) and Mishna Berura (ibid) write that one mustn’t play such games on Shabbos, as winning and losing involves a transaction. However, one doesn’t need to stop one’s young children from playing such games (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 16:32).
As dreidels are primarily children’s toys, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 5:22:10) writes that they aren’t muktza and they may be spun by adults on Shabbos, too.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Lighting the Menora at a Concert

Question: I’m helping to organize a concert on Chanuka and have been asked to light the menora. Should I do so with a beracha?
Answer: R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:398) writes that even though the minhag is to light the menora in Shul, one should not do so elsewhere with a beracha. Thus, if one davens in a minyan outside a Shul, or attends a wedding, there is no need to light a menora. If one chooses to do so, they must do so without saying a beracha.
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 6:65:3) and R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 15:30) explain that the mitzva of lighting the menora only applies to lighting in one’s home. Nowadays, we have a minhag to light in Shul with a beracha, too, though that wasn’t unanimous among the poskim. Thus, we cannot extend this minhag to light at parties, etc. with a beracha.
R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 4:65) points out that as the mitzva is to light at home, one wouldn’t fulfil one’s obligation at such a lighting. The minhag to light in Shul is reminiscent of lighting the menora in the Beis Hamikdash. Thus, even if one knows that there will be someone present who won’t be lighting at home, it doesn’t help to recite a beracha on their behalf (See Az Nidberu 6:75).
Nonetheless, others disagree. The Rivash (111) writes that the mitzva to light the menora includes lighting it at the entrance to one’s home for pirsumei nisa, to publicize the miracle. As we generally light indoors nowadays, it is important that we also participate in a public lighting. Thus, R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 5:37) writes that lighting in shuls nowadays ensures that we are fulfilling the mitzva properly. Lighting in a public place where others may not have lit is even more important than lighting at shul and one who does so should light the menora with a beracha.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 7 OC 57:6) writes that while most poskim write that one should light in public locations without reciting a beracha, one may do so with a beracha if they want to. Ideally, they should daven maariv with a minyan and light beforehand, as one would in Shul.