Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Kosher Knife Sharpener

Question: I recently bought an electric knife sharpener. Does it need to be tovelled? Can I use it for my meaty and milky knives?
Answer: The Rema (YD 92:8) writes that meaty and milky pots that touch each other do not contaminate each other. Thus, providing the lids are on, one can cook food in a milky pot next to that of a meaty pot. Thus, providing the knife and stone were clean when sharpening the knife, no taam, flavour, would be transferred from the sharpener to any future knives it is used for.
The Beis Yosef (YD 122:9) quotes the Mordechai (Avoda Zara 833) who writes that one who left their knives with a non-Jewish person to sharpen them must kasher them as they may have been used for non-kosher food. If one saw them being sharpened, however, and then took them home, they do not need to be kashered.
Based on this, R’ Shamai Gross (Shevet Hakehasi 4:192) writes that one may use the same knife sharpener for both meaty and milky knives.
The Shulchan Aruch (YD 120:4) writes that only items that come into direct contact with the food require tevila. Thus, trivets that support the pot don’t. Accordingly, a knife sharpener wouldn’t either.
In conclusion, a knife sharpener may be used simultaneously for meaty and milky knives and does not require tevila.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

House Dedication During the Sefira

Question: We recently bought a house and are moving in next week. Can we make a chanukas habayis during the sefira?
Answer: The Mishna (Berachos 9:2) writes that one recites the beracha shehecheyanu upon building a new house or buying new items. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 223:3) adds that this applies equally to buying an old house. The Mishna Berura (223:11) notes that when one is buying a family home that will benefit multiple people, one says hatov vehametiv instead.
The Sheiltos (1:1) mentions that there is also an ancient minhag to invite others to a party when completing a house. The Magen Avraham (568:5) writes that it is only considered to be a seudas mitzva if one buys a home in Eretz Yisrael. He quotes the Maharshal (Yam Shel Shlomo, Bava Kama 7:37) who writes that for such a party in chutz la’aretz to be considered a seudas mitzva, one must ensure that they share divrei Torah there (See Kaf Hachaim OC 223:19; 568:25).
R’ Malkiel Tannenbaum (Divrei Malkiel 1:3:8; 4:8) disagrees, however, writing that the Sheiltos and other early sources do not differentiate between buying a new house in Eretz Yisrael or in chutz la’aretz, and a party celebrating a new house would be considered a seudas mitzva regardless.
R’ Ephraim of Luntschitz (Ollelos Ephraim 2:107) writes that as the sefira is such an overwhelming time, one should avoid saying shehecheyanu during this period. The Mishna Berura (493:2) writes that while one shouldn’t increase one’s simcha during the sefira, one should say shehecheyanu if the opportunity arises.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 1:24) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:227) however, disagree, writing that the sefira is markedly different to the three weeks which is a time of mourning for the churban. The sefira is certainly an auspicious time, though not a sad one. One may, therefore, recite shehecheyanu then. R’ Ovadia concedes, however, that one shouldn’t look for such opportunities. Thus it is ideal to wait for Shabbos or until after the sefira to wear new clothes.
The Piskei Teshuvos (493:1) quotes both opinions and writes that ideally one should avoid moving into a new house during this time.
In conclusion, while one may say shehecheyanu during the sefira, one should ideally wait until lag b’omer to make a chanukas habayis.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Advertising over Shabbos

Question: Am I allowed to advertise in the local weekend paper that gets printed on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 244:1; 247:1; 252:2) writes that one may give work to a non-Jewish person to do even though it entails a melacha that is prohibited on Shabbos, providing that the non-Jewish person can reasonably do the work at other times if they wish. Any such work must not be performed publicly on Shabbos, however.
R’ Mordechai Yaakov Breisch (Chelkas Yaakov 1:66) dismisses another Rabbi’s argument that one may, therefore, advertise in a newspaper over Shabbos as the printers could technically print it beforehand. Anyone reading this paper will know that it was, in-fact, printed on Shabbos. He quotes the Taz (244:5) who writes that one cannot hire a non-Jew to sew a garment or write a book and expect them to complete it by a particular deadline if they know that they can only realistically do so in time by working on Shabbos. The Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav 245:5) explains that doing so is akin to instructing them to work on Shabbos. So, too, by placing such an advert, it is as if they are asking the non-Jewish printers to print the advert on Shabbos.
Likewise, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:280) writes that even if the adverts were placed in a supplement that is printed before Shabbos,  one still mustn’t advertise if it is distributed with a Saturday paper as people will erroneously suspect that melacha was performed on Shabbos on their behalf.
The Piskei Teshuvos (247:n21) adds that if one were to place a daily advert that included the Saturday edition, that would still be prohibited based on the above.
In conclusion, one must avoid placing adverts in a Saturday edition newspaper.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Havdala on Motzaei Pesach

Question: Should one make havdala on beer on motzaei Pesach?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 296:2) writes that one cannot say havdala over bread. One may use beer, however, providing that it is chamar medina, a national beverage. This is different to Friday night kiddush where the Shulchan Aruch (OC 272:9) writes that one should use bread for kiddush rather than other drinks, though similar to the daytime kiddush when beer would be second best.
The Rema (OC 296:2) writes that the minhag is to use beer for havdala on motzaei Pesach as one appreciates beer more then. The Taz (296:3) and Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 296:10) note that this is subjective, and if one prefers wine then one should use wine for havdala.
R’ Chaim Volozhin (Maaseh Rav 185) notes that the Vilna Gaon was particular to eat chametz on motzaei Pesach. The Taamei Haminhagim (Kuntres Acharon 593) explains that he wanted to demonstrate that the reason that he avoided chametz for the past week was only because it was a mitzva to do so. For this reason, there were various acharonim who were particular to use beer for havdala (See Nitei Gavriel, Pesach 3:21:2). The Torah Temima (Shemos 12:168) even relates that the Vilna Gaon himself used to use beer for havdala on motzaei Pesach.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 296:26), however, disagrees, writing that even if one prefers beer, one should use wine for kabbalistic reasons. Nonetheless, other poskim aren’t particular about this. Thus, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 551:26) writes that it is ideal to use beer for havdala during the nine days when it is best not to have wine.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 448:28) stresses that the Rav should buy back the chametz that’s been sold as soon as possible as one can’t take it until then.
In conclusion, some have the minhag to use beer for havdala on motzaei Pesach. They should only do so if they like beer, and must either buy it then or wait until the chametz that they sold has been bought back.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Drinking after Afikoman

Question: I have always found it difficult to stay awake until the end of seder night. Can I have a coffee after I’ve eaten the afikoman?
Answer: The Mishna (Pesachim 119b) teaches that we mustn’t eat anything after the pesach afikoman. We include this halacha in our answer to the chacham, wise son. Rambam (Chametz Umatza 8:9) writes that nowadays when we don’t have the korban pesach, one mustn’t eat after the afikoman.
The rishonim offer various reasons for this. According to Rambam this is to ensure that the taste of the matza remains in one’s mouth. The Baal Hamaor (Pesachim 119b) explains that immediately after eating, everyone would go outside and sing hallel on the rooftops. It was important not to eat anything else that may have delayed them. The Ramban (Milchamos Hashem), however, explains that the reason is that the afikoman had to be eaten at the end of the meal with the korban Pesach which must be eaten when a person is full.
There is a machlokes, however, as to whether this restriction applies to drinks, too. The Gemara Yerushalmi (Pesachim 71b) teaches that one mustn’t drink as one needs to stay sober. The Tur (OC 481:2 quoting Rabbeinu Yonah) explains that this is to ensure that one can properly fulfil the mitzva of relating over the story. While the Rif (Pesachim 27a) only allows one to drink water afterwards, the Rosh (Pesachim 10:33) writes that one may drink any non-alcoholic beverages. Ramban (ibid.) and the Ran (Pesachim 119b), however, write that having other drinks gives the impression that one is adding to the four cups and trying to start a second seder.
Following this, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 481:1) writes that one may only drink water after the four cups. The Mishna Berura (478:2; 481:2) explains that different drinks would be problematic depending on which reason one follows, though the acharonim permit mild drinks such as fruit juice and tea.
The Baer Heitev (481:1) writes, however, that there is a machlokes as to whether it is ideal to have coffee or not. The Mishna Berura writes that it is ideal for one to be stringent on the first night seder and avoid it (See Shulchan Aruch Harav OC 481:1). R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:317; 3:319:1) notes, though, that the Chassam Sofer would customarily drink coffee following his Seder. One is allowed to drink coffee if it would help them stay awake for the seder.
In conclusion, one may drink coffee even after eating afikoman if they feel that it will help them stay awake and continue the mitzvos of the seder.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Checking Car for Chametz

Question: Do I say a beracha when I check my car for chametz? Does it matter when I check it?
Answer: The Rema (OC 433:13) writes that one should properly clean every room of their house before they do bedikas chametz. This applies to any room where one may have taken chametz into throughout the year. One must, therefore, clean one’s car before Pesach.
The Chayei Adam (119:18) writes that even though one needs to check one’s pockets and containers, the main mitzva of bedikas chametz is specifically to check their house. One would, therefore, only recite a beracha upon checking their house. There is a discussion, however, whether one should recite a beracha upon checking their car.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 1:5) writes that one should do bedikas chametz in one’s car after they’ve looked around their house the night before Pesach. One should not repeat the beracha even if it took a while to get to one’s car. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Pesach 5:5) adds that if one can’t do it that night, one should do so earlier during the day. Regardless, as it isn’t one’s house, one would not say a beracha.
R’ Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 3:7:9; 19) writes however, that if one only has a car then one should say a beracha upon doing bedikas chametz on it. Similarly, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Mesores Moshe 1:286; 2:185) questioned whether a car is considered to be more like a house. If one only had a car then one should recite a beracha on searching it for chametz (See Rivevos Ephraim 4:106).
In conclusion, one should clean one’s car well before the night of bedikas chametz. One should begin bedikas chametz on their house before searching their car. If one only has a car then they could say a beracha before performing bedikas chametz. Otherwise, one wouldn’t say a separate beracha. 

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Taking Challa from Biscuit Dough

Question: I’m baking a big batch of biscuits. The recipe doesn’t call for any water. Do I take challa from the batter?
Answer: The Mishna (Challa 1:5) writes that one isn’t obligated to separate challa from a thin batter unless it takes on a thicker consistency when it is baked (See Rashi). Following this, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 329:2) writes that, providing it contains enough flour, one has to take challa when baking something from a liquid batter just as one does from a thick dough. R' Avraham Borenstein (Avnei Nezer YD 413) writes, however, that one shouldn’t separate challa until after the cake or biscuits have baked.
The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 329:15) disagrees, writing that as cakes and biscuits are not considered to be bread, there is no need to separate challa from them in chutz la’aretz when separating challa is only miderabanan.
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 68:n1; Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 42:n41) disagrees, however. After all, if one were to eat enough cake as a meal, one would need to wash beforehand, say hamotzi beforehand and bentch afterwards. R’ Pesach Eliyahu Falk (Machazeh Eliyahu 110) writes that it is clear that the other poskim disagree with the Aruch Hashulchan, too. One must, therefore, separate challa even with a beracha.
The Shulchan Aruch (YD 329:10) writes that one should avoid baking without water or one of the other liquids that is mekabel tuma. If necessary, one should add some water to avoid this issue (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 35:7).
In conclusion, if one bakes a large enough batch of cake dough, one should separate challa with a beracha. One should add a little water to recipes that don’t call for water (or one of the other seven liquids). If the mixture is more of a batter than a dough, then one should wait until it is baked to separate challa.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Disposing of the Challa

Question: What is the best thing to do with the challa that one separates? Should one wrap and dispose of it or burn it in the oven?
Answer: Rambam (Bikurim 5:13) writes that the challa which one is supposed to separate and give to the kohen is akin to teruma. Just as teruma which becomes tamei must not be eaten, so too challa nowadays may not be eaten as we are all presumed to be tamei. Likewise, any dough that came into contact with water or any of the other seven liquids would be tamei (See Mishna, Machshirin 6:4). According to Rambam (Yom Tov 3:8), there is a mitzva mideoraisa to burn this tamei challa (See Tosafos, Shabbos 24b). In chutz la’aretz where this mitzva is only miderabanan, the requirement to burn it would also be miderabanan.
Thus, the Rema (YD 332:5) writes that nowadays we burn this dough. As only kohanim may benefit from challa, it must not be baked together with other bread, though. While the Shach (YD 108:1 quoting from the Issur Veheter) writes that one may bake this challa in the oven together with one’s bread, the Aruch Hashulchan (YD 108:9) writes that one must wrap the challa first to ensure that no steam escapes.
Burning the challa, however, has its disadvantages. Especially as one is supposed to ensure that it doesn’t come into contact with other foods, it can take a while to properly burn through. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 4:13) adds that if one leaves the challa around until it is convenient to properly burn, it may get eaten or placed with food. In this case it would certainly be preferable to wrap it before placing it in the bin.
In conclusion, if it is easy for one to burn it properly away from their food one should do so. Otherwise, one should wrap it and place it in their bin.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Drinking at a Kiddush

Question: I know that if one has a drink after reciting kiddush, they don’t say another beracha. Does that also apply to one who hears kiddush from another?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 41b) teaches that wine exempts other drinks. Tosafos explains that as wine is such an important drink, any other drink is considered taful, insignificant in comparison. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 174:2) writes that saying the beracha hagefen on wine exempts one from saying a beracha on other drinks. The Mishna Berura (174:3) writes, however, that this only applies when the drinks are either on the table or one intends on having another drink at the time when one says hagefen.
If one heard kiddush from another but didn’t drink wine themselves, they should say shehakol before drinking another drink. There is a machlokes, however, as to whether one who hears kiddush from another and only sips a little, needs to say a beracha on other drinks. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 5:20) writes that other drinks are covered even if one has just a sip of wine. The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 174:1), however, writes that as there are different opinions, one should drink at least melo lugmav, a cheekful (at least 1.6oz). If one drinks less, there is a safek, doubt, as to whether other drinks are covered or not (See Minchas Yitzchak 8:19). One who drinks so little should either say shehakol on some food before drinking or listen to another person say shehakol.
R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:264; Moadim Uzemanim 3:243) quotes R’ Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik that one does not fulfil their obligation of daytime kiddush by listening to another recite it unless they drink some wine. R’ Ovadia Yosef, however writes that this is not necessary.
In conclusion, if one wants to have a drink at a kiddush then it is best if they don’t drink any wine first. Alternately, they should either ensure that they drink a melo lugmav, say shehakol on some food first, or listen to someone else say shehakol.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Mishloach Manos by Parcel Service

Question: Can I send mishloach manos before Purim with a delivery service if it is guaranteed to arrive on Purim?
Answer: There are two main reasons given for the mitzva of mishloach manos. According to the Terumas Hadeshen (111) we do so in order to ensure that everyone has food for their seuda. The Chasam Sofer (OC 196) quotes R’ Shlomo Alkabetz (Manos Halevi 9) who writes that Haman described the Jewish people as a nation scattered and dispersed among the nations (Esther 3:8). By giving food gifts to others on Purim, we demonstrate our friendships.
Following this, there is a machlokes as to whether one can send mishloach manos before Purim to arrive on Purim. The Baer Heitev (695:7 quoting the Yad Aharon) writes that as they have received their food, one fulfils their obligation regardless when they sent it. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 695:17), however, writes that as the primary reason is to increase happiness and friendship, one must give it on Purim, too.
The Ben Ish Chai (Torah Lishma 188) explains that this machlokes is dependent upon the machlokes as to why we give mishloach manos. The Rema (OC 695:4) writes that if one sent mishloach manos to another who refused to accept them, they have still fulfilled their mitzva. Clearly, the Rema follows the Manos Halevi that the main reason is to promote friendships. As one sending wouldn’t experience friendship on Purim by sending mishloach manos earlier, one shouldn’t do so (See Rivevos Ephraim 4:173:32).
Nonetheless, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 695:16) writes that one can appoint a shaliach to deliver mishloach manos on Purim. Likewise, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Purim 17:14) writes that one may pay a business to make up and deliver mishloach manos on Purim as they act as a shaliach.
In conclusion, while one may pay someone to deliver mishloach manos to another on Purim, one should not send a food parcel before Purim that will arrive on Purim.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Removing Tags from Clothing

Question: I forgot to remove the dry cleaning tags from my clothes before Shabbos. Was I allowed to remove them on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 317:3) writes that one mustn’t open a knot that ties new clothing together. The Rema brings an opinion that concurs with the Shulchan Aruch, writing that one mustn’t, therefore, open temporary stitching tying clothes together, etc. He then writes that there are those who allow opening temporary stitching providing one doesn’t do so in front of one ignorant of hilchos Shabbos (See Beis Yosef OC 317:8).
The Taz (317:7) defines a temporary stitch as one that was supposed to be undone within twenty four hours. The Levush (OC 317:3), however, writes that even if the cleaners tied it knowing that their customers wouldn’t open it for a while, that is still considered to be temporary.  
The Mishna Berura (317:21) writes that while the halacha follows the Levush, some follow the Taz. Nonetheless the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 317:22) and R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 9:n55) maintain that we follow the Levush.
Following this, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 15:63) writes that if one forgot to separate a new pair of socks or gloves, one may cut through the string that attaches them on Shabbos, providing that one destroys the string by doing so. R’ Ribiat (The 39 Melochos p828) adds that if necessary one may even use scissors to cut the tag.
In conclusion, if one forgot to cut one’s tags off before Shabbos, one may do so on Shabbos.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Placing Clothes in Washing Machine

Question: Can we place dirty clothes into the washing machine on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 138a) teaches that there are certain acts that are prohibited miderabanan on Shabbos because they are uvdin dechol, mundane, weekday activities. Included in this would be a vigorous massage (Rashi, Shabbos 147a) or weightlifting (Rashi, Beitza 29b).
R’ Mordechai Yaakov Breisch (Chelkas Yaakov OC 107) writes that one mustn’t place dirty clothes in a washing machine on Shabbos as it is considered uvdin dechol. Additionally, as one would normally fill the wash after Shabbos, putting clothes in on Shabbos is considered hachana, preparing for after Shabbos. We are also concerned that the clothes will get wet in the machine, which will aid the cleaning.
R’ Yisroel Dovid Harfenes (Nishmas Shabbos 4:367), however, disagrees. While emptying a basket into the washing machine would be hachana, if one would put such clothes straight into the machine during the week even long before they put the wash on, then doing so now is not considered hachana. As washing machines are typically dry when open, we don’t need to be concerned that the clothes will become wet.
R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 4:44) adds that providing that one would do so during the week, one doesn’t need to be concerned that others will suspect them of washing their clothes on Shabbos. Nor would the washing machine be muktze if one would normally put soiled laundry into the machine hours before washing them.
In conclusion, one may place dirty clothes straight into the washing machine on Shabbos if they would normally do so during the week even before putting the wash on. One may not, however, sort clothes or empty the washing basket into it.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

eBay Bid Ending on Shabbos

Question: Can I bid for something on eBay if the bidding ends on Shabbos?
Answer: The rishonim give different reasons for why one mustn’t conduct business transactions on Shabbos. Rambam (Shabbos 23:12) writes that we are concerned that one may record the transaction. Rashi (Beitza 37a) adds that there is a prohibition against discussing business matters on Shabbos.
The Gemara (Shabbos 18a) writes that one is allowed to open a flow of water before Shabbos that will run onto a garden on Shabbos. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 252:5) writes that one is allowed to have one’s utensils perform work for them on Shabbos. There is a machlokes as to whether this applies to business, too, however.
R’ Akiva Eiger (Teshuvos 1:159) writes that one cannot set up a business transaction before Shabbos that will be performed on Shabbos. R’ Avraham Borenstein (Avnei Nezer OC:51) explains why scheduled business transactions are different to other automated melachos.
R’ Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (Ohr Sameach, Shabbos 23:12) maintains, however, that there is no difference between business and other melachos. Likewise, the Maharam Shik (131) writes that one may submit a bid before Shabbos for an auction that will end on Shabbos. Although the auctioneer announces the final bid, by submitting the bid in advance, one has set the ball rolling. Additionally, while winning the actual bid obligates the winner to pay, the transaction is not complete until they have paid (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:232).
In conclusion, one may bid for an item on eBay that ends on Shabbos.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

A Late Pidyon Haben

Question: I never received a pidyon haben as a baby and so am undergoing it now. Should I redeem myself or should my father redeem me?
Answer: The Gemara (Kiddushin 29a) writes that if one failed to redeem his son when he was a child, then his son should do so himself. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 305:15) writes that one who wasn’t redeemed should redeem themselves when they grow up. The Pischei Teshuva (YD 305:25) quotes the Zichron Yosef (YD 26) who stresses that this must wait until he is bar mitzva.
There is a machlokes among the rishonim, however, as to whether the father is still obligated to redeem his son, or whether his grown up son should perform it himself. The Rashba (Shut 2:321) argues that the father’s obligation does not disappear with time. Similarly, the Sefer Hachinuch (392) writes that while the father should ideally perform this mitzva when the baby is thirty days old, the obligation remains even after one’s son has grown up. Thus, the Minchas Chinuch (392:1) writes that as the mitzva belongs primarily to the father, if his son performed it himself, he could be fined ten zehuvim (See Shulchan Aruch CM 382:1).
The Rivash (131), however, writes that once the son turns bar mitzva it becomes his primary obligation, rather than his father’s. As he couldn’t have redeemed himself as a baby, it was then his father’s obligation, but now that he can do so himself, he should.
While R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:518) writes that we follow the Rashba, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:370) writes that the Shulchan Aruch implies that we follow the Rivash, and the son should now redeem himself. Nonetheless, he suggests that it is possible for them to both perform the mitzva. The father should give his son the money while his son performs the actual pidyon.
In conclusion, both the father and his grown son are obligated to perform the pidyon haben. As there is a machlokes as to whose obligation is paramount, it is ideal to do the pidyon in a manner that involves them both, so that they can both perform the mitzva.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

A Heavy Pot of Soup

Question: We often host a lot of guests over Shabbos and cook our soup in a large pot. As it is so difficult to remove the pot when it is full, can we remove some soup while it is still on the hotplate?
Answer: Rambam (Shabbos 3:11) writes that one mustn’t put a ladle into a pot while it is on the flame on Shabbos as doing so stirs the food which aids the cooking. The Maggid Mishna explains that while it may not properly stir the food, chazal were concerned that one may come to stir it properly. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 252:1; 318:18) writes that one mustn’t stir food or remove any from a pot on the stove while it is still cooking.
The Mishna Berura (318:113) writes that while the Shulchan Aruch allows removing fully cooked food while it is still on the flame, the Elya Rabba writes that one should remove it from the flame first in deference of the minority opinion (Kol Bo quoted in Shaar Hatziyun 318:136) which maintains that stirring fully cooked food is assur mideoraisa (see Biur Halacha 318).
The Chazon Ish (OC 37:15) and R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 5:127:6), however, write that if the food was directly on the flame and so one wouldn’t be able to remove the pot and replace it, then they can follow the Shulchan Aruch and remove the food from the pot providing it was fully cooked (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:32).
Following this, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 10:11:2) writes that if one had a pot that was too heavy to move off the flame, one could take from it directly, though one should be careful not to stir it.
Likewise, R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:30:15) writes that if one needs to leave the pot on the flame for mitzva purposes, such as for seuda shelishis, late guests or children who wanted to eat later, then one can take food out of the pot while it is still on the flame.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74 Bishul 9), however, disagrees, writing that even if the pot was heavy it must be removed from the flame before taking any. If the pot was on a blech or hotplate, however, then one may take from the pot, providing that the flame isn’t hot enough to have cooked it or warmed it up by itself (ibid. 11).
In conclusion, one may take some soup from a heavy pot if it is too difficult to remove, though one should be careful not to stir it. When possible, one should remove the pot.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Friday Night Kiddush on Cake

Question: We have invited some friends for Friday night dinner though we are going to have to wait a while for them to arrive. Can we say kiddush and eat some cake and then start the meal when they arrive?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 20b) teaches that there is a mitzva mideoraisa to recite kiddush on Shabbos. Rambam (Shabbos 29:4) explains that this mitzva applies to the first kiddush that we recite on Friday night. The Mishna Berura (271:8) notes, however, that the kiddush that we say on Shabbos day is miderabanan (See Baer Heitev 289:2).
The Gemara (Pesachim 101a) writes that kiddush must be recited bemakom seuda, where one is going to eat their meal. Thus, Tosafos (Pesachim 101a) and the Rosh (Pesachim 10:5) write that kiddush must be followed by a bread meal. The Tur (OC 273:5), however, writes that seuda includes a snack or drinking some wine.
Following this, the Magen Avraham (OC 273:11) writes that just as mezonos is considered to be more prominent than hagefen, so too eating cakes, etc. would be like having a bread seuda. While R’ Akiva Eiger (OC 273:5) and the Vilna Gaon (quoted in Biur Halacha 273:5) disagree with the Magen Avraham, most follow the Magen Avraham and rely on cakes, etc. on Shabbos day to be kovea seuda (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 273:8; Mishna Berura 273:25).
The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (77:14) and R’ Yitzchak Elchanan Spector (Ein Yitzchak OC 12:11) write that one can only have cake as part of their kiddush during the day when kiddush is miderabanan, but not on Friday night when kiddush is mideoraisa.
Nonetheless, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 54:22) writes that one can recite kiddush on cake even on Friday night, though, unlike during the daytime, one cannot repeat kiddush before the meal.
In conclusion, it is preferable to have kiddush on Friday night before one eats their meal, though if one has to wait to begin their meal, they may recite kiddush and eat some cake first.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Cover Cakes During Kiddush

Question: We have always covered our cakes when reciting kiddush at home though note that this is not done in shul. Is it necessary?
Answer: While there are three different reasons given for why we cover our challa while reciting kiddush, some argue that not all of these reasons necessarily apply to covering cake, too.
Tosafos (Pesachim 100b) writes that one reason for covering the challa is to highlight the importance of kiddush. In the times of the Gemara they would wait until after kiddush to bring in the food, though now we simply cover the challa instead. Additionally, the covering serves to remind us of the man that fell between layers of dew to preserve it. The Piskei Teshuvos (271:n193) points out that both these reasons apply specifically to challa rather than cake. R’ Mordechai Leib Winkler (Levushei Mordechai OC 1:46) adds that the table would only be brought out on Friday night and not the following day for Shabbos lunch. Thus, this reason wouldn’t apply to kiddush during the daytime.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 299:14), however, writes that the main reason why we cover the challa is so as not to embarrass it. The Rosh (Pesachim 10:3) and Tur (OC 271:9) quote the Gemara Yerushalmi that teaches that as wheat is listed before wine in the shivas haminim, the beracha for bread should ideally be recited before the beracha for wine (See Mishna Berura 271:41). Based on this, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (55:5) and R’ Winkler (ibid.) write that when one is having cake at a kiddush, one would still need to cover it.
R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 2:8), however argues that this reason only applies to challa which one could, if necessary, use for kiddush. As one can’t use cake for kiddush, the acharonim never mentioned the necessity to cover cake.
Similarly, the Piskei Teshuvos (271:19) quotes various poskim who write that covering cake isn’t as important as covering one’s challa.
In conclusion, if one is reciting kiddush and having some cake at home, one should ideally cover the cake. At shuls where it isn’t easy to do so, the minhag is not to.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Feeding the Birds

Question: My children came home from school telling us that we have to put bread out for the birds on parshas beshalach. I’ve never done this before. Is it important to do so?
Answer: Various reasons are suggested as to why some have the minhag to put bread out for the birds on parshas beshalach. One reason given by the Taamei Haminhagim (Likutim, Inyanim Shonim 98) and Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha (87:7) is that when the bnei yisrael were told to gather extra man on erev Shabbos as none would fall on Shabbos, Dasan and Aviram tried to disprove Moshe by leaving some out on Friday night, only for it to be eaten by the birds. We recall this on this Shabbos when we read about the man. Others say that the reason is to remember the shira which the birds sang at the splitting of the sea.
The Gemara (Shabbos 155b) writes that while one may feed one’s own animals, one may not feed stray animals on Shabbos that don’t depend on them for food. According to Rashi, this is to avoid one performing extra tircha, bothersome acts, on Shabbos. Rambam (Shabbos 21:35), however understands that the reason is to prevent one breaking Shabbos when preparing the food. Based on this, the Magen Avraham (OC 324:7), Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 324:8), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (87:18) and Mishna Berura (324:31) disapprove of this minhag.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 324:3), however, justifies the practice, arguing that this is not considered feeding the animals for their sake. Rather, people do so to remember the birds singing shira at the sea (See Daas Torah OC 324:11). Similarly, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 14:28) notes that placing food for birds on Shabbos shira is an ancient minhag practised by many great people in Yerushalayim and should not be challenged.
While R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 27:21) writes that one shouldn’t put food out for birds on this Shabbos, he quotes the Eishel Avraham (167:6) who writes that Rashi’s reason not to feed animals because of extra tircha isn’t a real prohibition. Thus, one can allow children to feed the birds. R’ Neuwirth adds that one can shake out one’s tablecloth in one’s garden, as that isn’t considered to be extra tircha.
In conclusion, it is ideal not to put food out on Shabbos, though if one has the minhag, one should rather allow their children to put the food out, or do so before Shabbos.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Guests Lighting Shabbos Candles

Question: We have a couple staying over for Shabbos. When our guest lights candles, do we both say a beracha? Does it matter who lights first?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 263:8) writes that as there is a machlokes as to whether two families who are lighting candles in the same house should both recite the beracha upon lighting, only one family should recite the beracha, following the rule of safek berachos lehakel, we are lenient with regards to doubts about berachos.
Likewise, the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 263:15) writes that unless the guests have their own room to light in, there is no requirement for them to light their own candles. Thus, they would not be able to recite the beracha (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 263:5).
The Rema, however, disagrees, writing that the ashkenazi custom is for each person to recite the beracha upon lighting. The Magen Avraham (263:15) and Mishna Berura (263:35) explain that each person adds extra light with their candles (See Shulchan Shlomo, Shabbos 263:n12).
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 10:20:1) writes that as there is a machlokes as to whether guests should light their own candles, they should ideally light before their hosts. This way, they can say a beracha when lighting the first lights. As there is no dispute about the hosts lighting, they recite the beracha upon lighting the extra lights (See Rivevos Ephraim 6:283).
While sefardim typically follow the Shulchan Aruch, there is a machlokes as to whether guests should recite their own beracha. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 263:54) writes that the minhag of sefardim is for everyone to recite the beracha.
However, the Ben Ish Chai (Rav Pealim 2:50) and R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:18:6) only allow guests to light with a beracha if they do so in their own room.
In conclusion, the minhag­ among ashkenazim is for guests to light candles with a beracha, while some sefardim are particular to light in their own room. Ideally, the guests should light first.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Everyone Cover their Challos

Question: We were recently invited to a sheva berachos on Shabbos. Everyone was asked to cover their challa at their place before kiddush. Was this necessary?
Answer: The Gemara (Pesachim 100b) writes that one shouldn’t bring in the table until after one has recited kiddush. Rashbam quotes the Sheiltos who explains that this is to highlight the importance of kiddush. Tosafos adds that as nowadays we sit around a large table rather than our own individual ones and it isn’t practical to bring the table in then, we cover the challos instead. This way we are still honouring the kiddush properly. Tosafos writes that covering the challos also serves to remind us of the man that fell between layers of dew to preserve it.
The Rosh (Pesachim 10:3) and Tur (OC 271:9) quote the Gemara Yerushalmi that teaches that as wheat is listed before wine in the shivas haminim, the beracha for bread should ideally be recited before the beracha for wine. Thus, one should cover one’s challa so as not to embarrass the challa.
Sefer Leket Yosher (OC:p50) relates that the Terumas Hadeshen would recite hamotzi and then give everyone a piece from his challa so that they could partake of the lechem mishne. While those at his table had their own challa, they were not covered. In an era when it was normal for people to get married on Friday and celebrate their chasuna at the Friday night dinner, he writes that only the one making kiddush would need to cover their challos, as only they would need to be concerned about embarrassing the challa.
Following this, R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 11:216) writes that we see that the main reason is not to embarrass the challa. As it would have been the man of the house who would have collected the man, it is sufficient just for him to cover his challa.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:200; 2:115:66), however, disagrees. Firstly, we cannot ignore these other reasons, and secondly, when people are listening to another recite kiddush, it is considered as if they are reciting kiddush themselves (shomea keoneh). Thus, everyone should cover their challos.
Likewise, the Mishna Berura (271:41) writes that when one doesn’t have wine and so has to recite kiddush on one’s challa one should still keep the challa covered because of these other reasons.
In conclusion, there is a machlokes as to whether others also need to cover their challos while listening to kiddush. While it is commendable to do so, it is not strictly necessary.