Friday, 27 July 2018

Maaser from Gifts

Question: Does one need to take maaser from presents?
Answer: Tosafos (Taanis 9a) quotes the Sifri (Devarim 14:22) who writes that the mitzva of maaser, tithing one’s crops, applies equally to other forms of income. While this statement isn’t in our editions of Sifri, R’ Baruch Epstein (Torah Temima, Devarim 14:22) explains that this is one of many examples of statements of Sifri that the rishonim saw but are now lost to us.
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 249:1) writes that one should give between 10% and 20% of one’s earnings to help the poor. The Taz (YD 331:32) adds that this applies equally to wedding gifts that one receives, even from one’s own parents (See Rabbeinu Yona, Sefer Hayira 213).
While this applies to money gifts, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 5:133:7) writes that if one inherited a property or if one’s parents paid towards buying them a flat, one wouldn’t need to give maaser.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 2:112) and R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:282) write that one may stipulate when giving a gift that it should be used for a specific purpose. Thus, one supporting their children could stipulate that they shouldn’t give maaser from the money they were giving.
In conclusion, one should give maaser from any money that one earns, including as gifts, unless it was given for a specific purpose.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Delayed Tisha B’av

Question: When Tisha B’av falls on Shabbos and so is observed on Sunday, are the restrictions lifted earlier? Can I shower, shave and listen to music on Sunday night?
Answer: The Gemara (Taanis 29a) writes that the Beis Hamikdash continued burning throughout the tenth of Av. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 558:1) writes that one mustn’t eat meat or drink wine on the tenth either. The Rema, however, limits this until chatzos, noon, of the tenth of Av. The Mishna Berura (558:2) writes that this applies to the other restrictions of the nine days, too, including laundry, haircuts and bathing.
The Rema (OC 558:1) writes that when Tisha B’av is observed on the tenth of Av due to Shabbos, however, one should still refrain from meat and wine until Monday morning. The Mishna Berura (558:4) notes that the other restrictions such as haircuts are permitted that night, though. Thus, the Shaarei Teshuva (558:4) writes that those who are accustomed to avoid haircuts that night are mistaken.
While the Mishna Berura writes that one would normally have to wait until chatzos of the following day to hear music, he writes (Shaar Hatziyun 558:4) that one may be lenient when Tisha B’av is observed on the tenth and one may listen to music that night at a pre-wedding dinner (See Nitei Gavriel, Bein Hametzarim 96:15).
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 62:49) adds that when Tisha B’av is postponed, one may say shehecheyanu on new fruits on Sunday night. While he notes that R’ Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky (Luach Eretz Yisrael) forbids one to have a haircut or shave that night, he disagrees, writing that there is no source for this.
In conclusion, when Tisha B’av is postponed due to Shabbos, one may shower, shave, wash clothes and listen to music, etc. on Sunday night, though one should not eat meat or drink wine unless it is at a seudas mitzva.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Accidental Beracha on Meat During the Nine Days

Question: I forgot that it was the nine days and I prepared some meaty food for myself. I only remembered once I had said the beracha. What should I have done?
Answer: The Gemara (Taanis 26b) forbids eating meat and drinking wine at the seuda hamafsekes, though many rishonim record the minhag to abstain throughout this time period. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:9) writes that there are various minhagim as to exactly when this applies. Some just refrain throughout the week of Tisha B’av, others from Rosh Chodesh Av while others refrain throughout the entire three weeks. The Mishna Berura (551:58) writes that the ashkenazi minhag is to refrain from meat and wine during the nine days.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 551:23) explains that this minhag serves to remind us of the korbanos that we can no longer offer up since the churban (See Tur OC 552:2; Biur Hagra OC 551:11). While it is a minhag, he notes that it is observed universally and so one who eats meat has broken a communal vow which is a Torah prohibition (See Mordechai, Taanis 639).
On the other hand, the Gemara (Berachos 33a) writes that one who recites an unnecessary beracha has transgressed the Torah prohibition of lo sisa.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 2:5:11) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:378) quote the Sdei Chemed (Bein Hametzarim 1:5) who writes that if one accidentally recited the beracha on meat they should take a small bite. Doing so ensures that one hasn’t said a beracha levatala, and being so small ensures that one does not receive any simcha, especially as they are primarily doing so to avoid saying a beracha levatala.
In conclusion, if one accidentally said a beracha on meat during the nine days they should eat a tiny piece.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Music Lessons During the Three Weeks

Question: Can my children continue their music lessons throughout the three weeks?
Answer: The Mishna Berura (551:16) writes that one mustn’t listen to music during the three weeks between Shiva Asar B’tammuz and Tisha B’av (See Minchas Yitzchak 1:111:4).
The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 551:10) writes that musicians who are employed by non-Jews may play during this time. He compares it to working on chol hamoed, which while normally forbidden, is permitted for one who would otherwise lose substantially as a result (davar ha’avud). The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 551:2) explains that this only applies until Rosh Chodesh Av. One cannot, though, play music even for work purposes during the nine days (See Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 122:2).
Other poskim are more lenient. R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 16:19) quotes the Kaf Hachaim (OC 551:39) who allows employed musicians to continue playing up until Rosh Chodesh. He continues writing (ibid. 41) that one who does teach music during this time should teach sad songs rather than jolly tunes that bring happiness. R’ Waldenberg explains, however, that this restriction is referring to one who is employed to play even during the week of Tisha B’av.
Likewise, R’ Betzalel Stern (Betzel Hachachma 6:61) writes that one may play music if they are employed to do so even during the nine days. Similarly, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:155:2; 6:291:1) writes that as one doesn’t get such enjoyment out of learning or teaching music, one may continue to do so during the three weeks (See Igros Moshe OC 3:87).
In conclusion, one may continue music lessons up until Rosh Chodesh Av. One who needs to continue teaching for their livelihood or learn for an upcoming exam may continue playing even during the nine days but should try to play more sad songs where possible.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Baruch Sheptarani for Girls

Question: I was once at a shul where someone said baruch sheptarani for his daughter’s bas mitzva. Should I say it for my daughter’s bas mitzva?
Answer: The Rema (OC 225:2) writes that when one’s son becomes bar mitzva, his father recites baruch sheptarani meonsho shel zeh, (Blessed is He who exempted me from this one’s punishment). The Magen Avraham (OC 225:5) and Mishna Berura (225:7) explain that as the father is obligated to educate his son, he is responsible for his son’s misdeeds, too. The son is responsible for himself upon turning bar mitzva. Thus, his father recites this beracha upon being released from this obligation.
As the obligation to educate one’s sons in learning Torah does not apply equally to girls (Nazir 29a), the Pri Megadim (Eishel Avraham 225:5) writes that this is one of the reasons why parents don’t say baruch sheptarani on their daughter’s bas mitzva. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 225:15) adds that as girls typically stay at home and are supported by their parents until they marry, their parents are more likely to continue educating them even after their bas mitzva.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:97) writes that while there is an equal simcha with one’s daughter becoming bas mitzva as there is for one’s son turning bar mitzva, the change in a girl’s status is not as obvious as a boy who is now included in a minyan, etc. In the last teshuva that R’ Moshe wrote (ibid. OC 5:14), he adds that this beracha is specifically said when a bar mitzva boy gets his aliya (See Rivevos Ephraim 4:44:40; 5:464:2; 7:59; 7:71).
The Magen Avraham, however, quotes the Levush (OC 225) who writes that the reason for this beracha is because the father is relieved that his adult son will no longer be punished as a result of his father’s misdeeds. Accordingly, some suggest that the bar mitzva boy says this beracha rather than his father. R’ Baruch Epstein (Baruch Sheamar, Tefilla p189) questions whether according to this, girls should say it, too.
Likewise, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 6:29) argues that while girls don’t have all the same obligations as boys, their parents are still required to educate them. According to this Levush, one would recite this beracha on one’s daughter’s bas mitzva, too.
In conclusion, while some sefardim say baruch sheptarani on their daughter’s bas mitzva, it isn’t said in ashkenazi shuls.