Sunday, 6 October 2019

Build Sukka After Yom Kippur

Question: I heard that one is supposed to build their sukka after Yom Kippur though I don’t always have the strength to do so after fasting. How important is it?
Answer: The Rema (OC 624:5; 625:1) writes that it is commendable to begin building one’s sukka straight after Yom Kippur so that one goes from one mitzva to another. The Pri Megadim (Mishbetsos Zahav 624:3) and Mishna Berura (624:19) add that one should complete assembling it the following day.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 625:11) stresses the importance of building one’s sukka oneself rather than having another do so on their behalf. One should at least place a little sechach on by themselves.
The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 25:1) questions whether one who is unable to build the sukka oneself immediately after Yom Kippur should rather appoint somebody else to do so on their behalf. On the one hand, it is always preferable to do the mitzva at the first opportunity, though on the other hand, it is preferable to perform mitzvos oneself rather than by appointing others to do so on their behalf. The Sdei Chemed (Mem:58) and R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 4:66) write that in such scenarios, one should rather preferable to perform the mitzva oneself, even if it isn’t the ideal time.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 624:7) writes that if one cannot build their sukka on motzaei Yom Kippur, they should learn the halachos of building a sukka during that time instead (See Kaf Hachaim OC 624:35).
Nonetheless, the Shaarei Teshuva (625:1) argues that it is best to begin building one’s sukka before Yom Kippur (See Avnei Yashpei 8:110:3).
In conclusion, one should try one’s utmost to at least place some sechach on one’s sukka on motzaei Yom Kippur. One who cannot do so should learn some of the halachos then instead.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Late for Shofar

Question: I am scheduled to be on security rota on Rosh Hashana morning and don’t know if I’ll make it back in shul for the beginning of the shofar. What should I do if I arrive late?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 590:2) writes that one must listen to at least 30 sounds of a shofar.
The Mishna Berura (585:11) writes that one who wasn’t present for the berachos should recite them quietly by themselves before the baal tokea begins blowing. If one comes in and doesn’t have time to recite the berachos before the blowing then one can no longer do so as they have fulfilled the mitzva mideoraisa by hearing thirty blasts.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 585:39) quotes the Pri Haaretz (9) who writes that one can still recite the berachos. Tosafos (Sukka 39a) and the Rosh (Sukka 3:33) write that if one picks up the lulav and esrog before they said the berachos they can still recite them as they are still involved in performing the mitzva when they shake them (See Mishna Berura 651:26). Likewise, when one is in the middle of listening to the shofar, one may still recite the berachos. The Kaf Hachaim challenges this, however, writing that one has essentially completed the mitzva.
Nonetheless, R’ Asher Weiss (Ki Savo 5765) writes that one can recite the berachos as one is still in the process of fulfilling the mitzva. One may even do so in between the berachos of one’s own amida if necessary.
In conclusion, one who comes late to hear the shofar should recite the berachos quietly. If they arrive as the shofar begins, they should recite them before the next set. It is important to hear at least thirty blasts.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Ordering a Taxi when Shabbos Ends

Question: We are going on holiday on motzaei Shabbos. Can we order a taxi before Shabbos to be waiting outside our house the minute Shabbos ends?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 307:4) allows one to give a non-Jewish person money before Shabbos for them to purchase something providing that they don’t specify that they should buy it on Shabbos. The Taz (OC 307:3) writes, however, that if one tells the non-Jewish person that they’re leaving on motzaei Shabbos, it is as if they specified that it must be purchased on Shabbos as there is no other realistic time for them to purchase it.
Following this, R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 6:25) writes that one mustn’t book a taxi to be waiting for when Shabbos ends as inevitably, one is instructing the taxi driver to drive to their location on Shabbos. One would have to wait at least as long as it would take for the driver to arrive from the taxi rank or an average journey.
R’ Shalom Gelber and R’ Yitzchak Rubin (Orchos Shabbos 2:23:65), however, argue that the taxi driver’s journey to pick one up is incidental and not part of the instruction. They quote the Taz (OC 276:3) and Mishna Berura (276:27) who write that one is allowed to ask a non-Jewish person to wash their dishes even if that means that they will inevitably switch the lights on. Although they are doing so in order to perform something on your behalf, this is considered as doing so for themselves. Likewise, as the driver brings their car in order to perform their job, this is considered as if they are doing so for their own needs.
In conclusion, one is allowed to ask a non-Jewish driver to pick them up immediately after Shabbos even though they will be driving on Shabbos to get there.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Benefitting from a Child’s Melacha

Question: Our 11 year old son got up on Shabbos morning and switched the kettle on to make himself a drink forgetting it was Shabbos. Could we have used that hot water?
Answer: The Gemara (Sukka 42a) teaches that parents are obligated to teach and train their children to do mitzvos. The Mishna Berura (128:123) explains that this age varies between different children and mitzvos.
The Gemara (Yevamos 114a) teaches that one mustn’t instruct children to carry in a reshus harabim on Shabbos though one may allow them to do so of their own volition. Thus, Rambam (Maachalos Asuros 17:27) writes that the beis din does not need to protest against children who are eating non-kosher food or breaking Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 343:1) adds that one must prevent children doing a prohibited melacha for an adult, however.
The Mishna Berura (318:5) writes that if a non-Jewish person performs a prohibited melacha on behalf of a Jewish person on Shabbos then one must not benefit from that melacha on Shabbos, though wait the amount of time that it took after Shabbos. Thus, if they cooked something for half an hour on Shabbos, one would have to wait at least half an hour after nacht to eat that food (See Shulchan Aruch OC 325:6).
The Biur Halacha (325:10) quotes the Magen Avraham (325:22) and Pri Megadim (325:22) who write that this applies equally if a child performs a melacha on an adult’s behalf. If however, the child performs the melacha for their own sake then one may benefit from the melacha immediately.
In conclusion, while one would not normally be able to benefit from something cooked on Shabbos even accidentally (See Mishna Berura 318:7), if a child did the melacha for themselves, one may benefit from the melacha and use water they had heated.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Non Jew Preparing on Shabbos

Question: We’re making sheva berachos on Shabbos. Are our non-Jewish waiters allowed to wash our dishes afterwards or do we need to ask them to come back after Shabbos?
Answer: Rambam (Shabbos 23:7) writes that one is not allowed to wash dishes on Shabbos for use afterward. Such hachana, preparation, is prohibited as it is akin to mesaken, fixing things. The Ra’avad, however, explains that it is prohibited because it is an unnecessary tircha, effort.
R’ Yisroel Dovid Harfenes (Nishmas Shabbos 4:364) suggests that this machlokes would make a difference to our scenario. According to Rambam one wouldn’t be allowed to ask a non-Jewish person to do the melacha on their behalf while according to Raavad, it should be permitted as there is no reason to prevent non-Jewish people from expending effort on Shabbos. While the poskim generally follow Raavad in this machlokes, he writes that the poskim do not allow asking non-Jews to perform hachana unnecessarily.
The Magen Avraham (510:13) writes that not only is one forbidden from making cheese on Yom Tov because it is a tircha, but one mustn’t ask a non-Jewish person to do it on their behalf either (See ibid. 321:7).
The Elya Rabba (252:12) and Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 503) are more lenient, however, allowing one to ask a non-Jewish person to perform an act of hachana, providing that no other melacha is involved.
Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 319:18) and Mishna Berura (254:43; 319:62; 510:23) allow one to be lenient in extenuating circumstances, however, such as to prevent significant financial loss (See Machazeh Eliyahu 63:35; Sharaga Hameir 2:42:7).
Thus, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:284) writes that if one employed staff to work for an hourly rate on Shabbos, one wouldn’t be able to instruct them to wash the dishes. If one stipulated that one needed it done, for example, by Sunday afternoon, then the waiters are free to wash the dishes whenever they want. Likewise, if one merely states that the dishes are dirty and they understand that they need cleaning, they are allowed to wash them.
In conclusion, one should not ask a non-Jewish person to wash dishes for them on Shabbos for later use, though one can tell them that the dishes are dirty and allow them to wash them.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Inviting to a Bris

Question: I see that people are particular to inform people that they are making a bris rather than to invite them. Is this necessary?
Answer: The Gemara in (Pesachim 113b) teaches that one who doesn’t participate in a seudas mitzva is ostracized in Heaven. The Rashbam writes that an example of such a seudas mitzva is a bris seuda.
Following this, the Rema (YD 265:12) writes that somebody who avoids eating at a bris seuda is considered ostracized in Heaven. Thus, the Pischei Teshuva (YD 265:18) writes that one who makes a bris should be careful not to invite others explicitly to their seuda as they may not be able to attend.
The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 265:37) quotes the Midrash (Pirkei Derebbi Eliezer 29) which implies that a bris seuda is a mitzva mideoraisa, though writes that one doesn’t need to be concerned about this ostracization nowadays. One should still make every effort to attend.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (OC 2:95) writes that the minhag remains not to explicitly invite people to a bris seuda. He explains that there is a greater mitzva to attend a chasuna than a bris seuda. Thus, he allows one to shave during the sefira, if necessary, to attend a wedding, though not for a bris seuda. Nonetheless, the baby’s father has a mitzva to host a seuda for his son’s bris and it is inappropriate for those invited to turn down their invitations.
In conclusion, the minhag is for parents to inform people that they are making a bris seuda. This serves as a reminder as to the greatness of the simcha of this mitzva.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Affixing Mezuzos with Tape

Questions: The sofer recently came round to my house to check my mezuzos. Most of my mezuzos are affixed with double-sided tape and he told me that it’s preferable to attach them with nails, though I am reluctant to do so in a rented house. Do I need to do so?
Answer: Rambam (Mezuza 5:6) and the Shulchan Aruch (YD 289:4) write that one should hang the mezuza either with nails or by placing it into a hollow in the doorpost.
R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 4:140:12) notes that many people fix their mezuzos with glue, thereby not fulfilling the mitzva to attach a mezuza. Glue has a tendency to dry out causing the mezuzos to fall.
Nonetheless, other poskim understand nails to be an example of fastening the mezuza well. Thus, the Aruch Hashulchan (YD 289:15) writes that if one wraps the mezuza well and then sticks that wrapping or case firmly with glue, that is as good as nails.
R’ Mordechai Yaakov Breisch (Chelkas Yaakov YD 164), R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 7:72:3) and R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 6:58) all quote the Aruch Hashulchan as well as the Nimukei Yosef (Bava Metzia 102a) who writes that one can use either nails or sticky lime.
In conclusion, one can use anything to attach one’s mezuza to their doorpost providing that it is firmly attached.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Hot Food on Shabbos

Question: I was invited to some friends for Shabbos lunch who insisted that I must eat some cholent as it is a mitzva. Does one need to eat hot food every Shabbos?
Answer: The Baal Hamaor (Shabbos 16b) writes that chazal decreed that we must eat hot food on Shabbos as part of oneg Shabbos. One who refuses to do so is suspect of being a heretic. The Rema (OC 257:8) quotes the Baal Hamaor though clarifies that it refers to one who believes that it is prohibited to eat hot food on Shabbos. R’ Moshe Stern (Baer Moshe 1:1:2) explains that as the Karaites denied the Torah Shebaal Peh, they sat in the dark all Shabbos refusing to leave any flames lit (See Ibn Ezra, Shemos 35:3). By eating hot food such as cholent on Shabbos one is protesting against this belief and demonstrating one’s belief in chazal.
R’ Nissim Karelitz (Chut Shani 28:8) notes that the Rema (OC 257:8) refers to it as a mitzva rather than a takana (decree) while the Mishna Berura categorizes it as a minhag that one should be particular to keep.
R’ Karelitz writes that even one who drinks a hot drink on Friday night that was insulated in a thermos flask has fulfilled this minhag, though it is ideal to have hot food during lunch.
The Magen Avraham (257:20) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 257:49) note that if one can’t eat such food then they must avoid it as it doesn’t serve as their oneg Shabbos.
In conclusion, there is a strong minhag to eat hot food such as cholent on Shabbos, though if necessary, one can fulfil this minhag by having a hot drink.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Benefitting from Melacha

Question: One of our teenage children added water to our Shabbos kettle on Shabbos mistakenly thinking that it was muttar. We need hot water to make baby bottles. Can we use the water?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 38a; Bava Kamma 71a; Kesubos 34a; Chullin 15a) teaches that chazal enacted a decree that one cannot benefit from a forbidden melacha, (maaseh Shabbos) that was performed on Shabbos. There is a machlokes as to whether this only applies to one who purposely transgresses a melacha and whether it applies to everyone or just the one who performed the melacha.
Rambam (Shabbos 6:23) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 318:1) follow R’ Yehuda who maintains that one can never personally benefit from melacha that one did on purpose (bemeizid) though others may benefit from it after Shabbos. If one did so accidentally (beshogeg), however, then all may benefit from it after Shabbos.
Tosafos (Chullin 15a) and Ritva (Shabbos 38a) however, follow R’ Meir who allows one to immediately benefit from a melacha performed beshogeg. The Mishna Berura (318:7) writes that the Vilna Gaon (OC 318) follows this view and one may rely on this view in time of need.The Mishna Berura (318:6) defines one who performs a melacha due to not knowing the halacha as shogeg. Thus, one who accidentally cooked food on Shabbos would usually have to leave it until after Shabbos before consuming it unless there was a particular necessity, though that is difficult to define.In conclusion, one would be allowed to use the water for baby bottles as that constitutes a real necessity. One shouldn’t use this water to make oneself a hot drink, however.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Traveling to Israel During the Nine Days

Question: Am I allowed to travel to Eretz Yisrael during the nine days?
Answer: The Mishna (Taanis 26b) writes that from when the month of Av begins until after Tisha B’av, we reduce in our enjoyment. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:2) lists a few restrictions that must be observed during these nine days. The Noda Biyehuda (OC 2:105), however, writes that one should also avoid other activities that one enjoys during this time. While the Rema (OC 551:2) only prohibits outings on erev Tisha B’av, some later acharonim extend this to the nine days (See Shevet Halevi 10:26; Rivevos Ephraim 1:374).
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:18) writes that one should also avoid doing anything potentially dangerous during the three weeks. Following this, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Bein Hametzarim 14:24) writes that one should avoid flying during the nine days. While flying is considered a safe means of transport, one still says the beracha of hagomel afterwards due to its potential dangers.
Nonetheless, R’ Auerbach allowed yeshiva bachurim learning in Eretz Yisrael to return home during the nine days rather than leave yeshiva earlier. Likewise, he maintained that it is permitted to fly to Eretz Yisrael during the nine days, and if necessary, even on Tisha B’av (afternoon).
In conclusion, while one should avoid flying during the nine days, one may travel to Eretz Yisrael then.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Coin Collection on Shabbos

Question: I have a coin collection including ancient coins and coins from different countries. Some of it has been organized into albums. Are these coins muktze?
Answer: Rambam (Shabbos 25:6) writes that as coins cannot be used on Shabbos, they are muktze just like raw wood and stones that have not been fashioned into anything. The Mishna Berura (310:24) writes that they are muktze machmas gufo, inherently muktze.
While the Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:21) writes that rocks are usually muktze, this is only when they do not have a specific use. If one prepares a rock for a specific permitted use before Shabbos such as to keep a door open or to crack nuts, it would no longer be muktze. Thus, the Mishna Berura (303:74) writes that if one set a coin aside for a particular purpose it is considered to be non-muktze. This only applies when one does so in a permanent manner, such as creating jewellery out of a coin, but not if one sets it aside for just one Shabbos (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 20:38).
The Chazon Ish (Shabbos 42:13), disagrees, writing that one cannot set a coin aside, as one may choose to use it again as money. Thus, coins will remain muktze.
R’ Asher Weiss (Minchas Asher 2:36) writes that when one sorts such coins into a collection, one is treating them like a photo album whose purpose is simply to be viewed at one’s leisure. Nonetheless, he questions whether it is ideal to be stringent and avoid touching them on Shabbos.
R’ Yisroel Dovid Harfenes (Nishmas Shabbos 3:331) argues, however, that even the Chazon Ish would agree that a coin collection is not muktze. One who goes to the bother to collect various coins of different denominations and time periods is certainly not going to break up their collection to spend the money. Such coins would not, therefore, be muktze.
In conclusion, a coin collection is not muktze and may be handled on Shabbos, especially if the coins are no longer in circulation.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Hot Plate Gone Off

Question: I accidentally forgot to adjust our time switch before Shabbos so our hotplate switched off earlier than expected. Was I allowed to transfer the food onto our neighbour’s hotplate?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 253:2) writes that one may return a hot pot of cooked food to a flame providing that the flame is covered. The Rema adds that one should not put the pot down elsewhere before returning it to another heat source (chazara), and they must have intended to return it when removing it. The Biur Halacha discusses whether one needs all of these conditions in order to replace food (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:18).
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74 Bishul 38) writes that one may move hot food from one blech to another even if the fire went out, just as one may move food from one flame to another, providing that one didn’t plan on the flame going out. If one purposely set one’s timer to go off at a certain time, however, they have demonstrated that they did not intend to return it to the flame.
Likewise, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:n69) held that there is a difference between actively removing a pot before placing it elsewhere, whereby one demonstrates that one isn’t planning on returning it to the flame, and a flame accidentally going out.
Nonetheless, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:23) writes that one should ideally not place the food directly onto another blech, but only onto another pot or upturned plate, etc.
There is a machlokes among sefardi poskim, however, as to whether they can transfer food in this scenario (See Kaf Hachaim OC 253:46; Yalkut Yosef, OC 253:10).
In conclusion, one would be allowed to transfer food providing it was fully cooked and still warm from a hotplate that had switched off to another on Shabbos. It is ideal to place it on top of something else rather than place it directly onto the hotplate.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Turn Down Radiator on Shabbos

Question: We weren’t expecting the weather to be so hot over Shabbos and forgot to switch the heating off. Were we allowed to turn the radiators off by closing the valve to stop the hot water coming in?
Answer: Rashi (Shabbos 42a; 134a) writes that the melacha mideoraisa of kibui, extinguishing, is specifically when one puts the fire out in order to create something constructive such as charcoal. Otherwise, extinguishing a flame is assur miderabanan.
The Gemara (Shabbos 120b) teaches that it is assur to do a permitted action which will inevitably cause a melacha to be transgressed. This prohibition is known as pesik reisha. Thus, Rambam (Shabbos 5:17) writes that one mustn’t open a door near a candle as the breeze will inevitably extinguish or fan the flame (See Mishna Berura 277:9).
The Gemara (ibid.) writes that one hasn’t transgressed a melacha mideoraisa unless one does so in a direct action. While one cannot usually perform such an action, a gerama, on Shabbos, it is often permitted in actions which are assur miderabanan. Thus, the Rema (OC 334:22) allows one to place containers of water near a flame knowing that it will later extinguish it to stop it destroying something.
Following this, R’ Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:41:4) writes that one is allowed to close a radiator valve even though by doing so one is causing the flame to go down. While it is a pesik reisha that the flame will lower itself, the issur is miderabanan. In addition, one isn’t causing this to happen directly, but as a gerama.
The Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha (80:4) adds that this must only be done to prevent discomfort, but not because one wants to conserve energy.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 23:19) writes that one should only close the valve if the radiator is hot. If the water is still heating up then one should ideally wait until it is yad soledes bo (approx. 43 °C) so as not to speed up the heating in the water tank. Likewise, if the boiler was off, one would be allowed to turn the radiator off to prevent it from coming on (See Orchos Shabbos 26).
In conclusion, one can turn a radiator off if one is uncomfortable, though one must ensure that it is either off or hot, rather than in the process of heating up.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Clothes from the Dryer

Question: Can I remove clothes from the washing line or dryer on Shabbos?
Answer: The Rema (OC 301:46) writes that as one is not allowed to squeeze clothes out on Shabbos (sechita), wet clothes are muktze on Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (308:63) adds that clothes that are wet when Shabbos came in are muktze the entire day.
Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 301:19) writes that something which will automatically become usable does not become muktze during bein hashmashos. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 1:81) explains that the Mishna Berura may be referring to clothes that one isn’t sure would dry over Shabbos. As the owner clearly never intended on using them over Shabbos, they are muktze. Thus, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 1:62:3) writes that if one was sure that clothes will dry on Shabbos, they are not muktze (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 15:15).
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 1:10:7) and R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 5:22:38) write that if it wasn’t for the noise, one would be allowed to put the clothes in on Friday and let the dryer finish on Shabbos. Providing the machine ended before Shabbos, however, one may remove the clothes from a dryer on Shabbos.
In conclusion, one may remove dry clothes from a washing line or dryer to wear on Shabbos, even if they were wet when Shabbos came in.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Building a Fence

Question: I’m building an extension and having a small balcony installed. Can I still say the beracha on building a fence even though my builders are installing it?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (CM 427:1) teaches us the details of the mitzvah to build a maakeh, a fence around a flat roof. The Meiras Einaim (CM 427:1) notes that this chapter, the last in Choshen Mishpat, does not exist in the Tur and is in fact a copy of Rambam (Rotzeach Ushemiras Nefesh 11).
The Gemara (Kiddushin 41a) teaches that while one can appoint a sheliach to perform certain mitzvos on their behalf, it is preferable for one to perform them oneself. Thus, Rambam (Berachos 11:13) writes that if one asked a Jewish worker to build a maakeh on their behalf, the worker recites the beracha.
The Shulchan Aruch (CM 427:1) writes that one cannot appoint a non-Jewish person to act as a sheliach to perform a mitzva on one’s behalf. Nonetheless, the Machaneh Ephraim (Sheluchin Veshutfin 11) argues that one would still say the beracha if one’s non-Jewish worker built the fence. Firstly, the worker is working on behalf of the house owner rather than independently. Additionally, it is the practical result that matters more than the act of building (See Aruch Hashulchan CM 427:3).
The Nesivos Hamishpat (188), Minchas Chinuch (546) and Shoel Umeshiv (1:2:110) challenge this, however, writing that building a maakeh is no different to any other mitzva for which one cannot appoint a non-Jewish sheliach.
In conclusion, if one employs a Jewish worker to create the fence, then the worker can recite the beracha as a sheliach. One doesn’t say a beracha, however, if the builders are not Jewish.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Start Wearing Tefillin

Question: I am going to be bar mitzva in a few weeks. When should I start wearing tefillin? Do I say a beracha before my bar mitzva and do I say shehecheyanu?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 37:3) writes that a boy’s father must buy him tefillin when he’s mature enough to control himself and treat them with the proper respect. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 6:3; Yechave Daas 2:4) demonstrates that this is the sefardi minhag (See Ohr Letzion 2:44:47)
While the Rema disagrees, writing that he must wait until he’s bar mitzva, the Magen Avraham (37:4) and Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 37 write that the minhag is for boys to start wearing them two or three months before their bar mitzva. Thus, minhag chabad is for boys to begin wearing tefillin two months before their bar mitzva.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 37:4) notes that the minhag ashkenaz is to begin one month before one’s bar mitzva. R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 13:10:3) notes that this is the minhag ashkenaz in Yerushalayim. He adds that even though they are doing so to train themselves for when they are bar mitzva, they should still say a beracha.
R’ Waldenberg later (ibid. 13:24:5) writes that one who who wears them in advance of his bar mitzva doesn’t recite shehecheyanu as when he first wears them, he does so to train for when he is bar mitzva and later on they are no longer new. Yet, the Chasam Sofer (OC 55) suggests that a bar mitzva boy recites shehecheyanu when he wears his tefillin for the mitzvos that he is now obligated.
As there is a doubt as to whether one should say shehecheyanu or not, the Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 22:1) recommends that one wears new clothing then so that one says shehecheyanu on both simultaneously. Similarly, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo 4:14) ensured that while his sons began wearing tefillin a month before their bar mitzva, he didn’t gift them their tefillin until the day of their bar mitzva so that they could say shehecheyanu then.
In conclusion, the main ashkenazi custom is for boys to begin wearing their tefillin for a month before their bar mitzva with a beracha. Ideally, they should wear a new suit on their bar mitzva and recite shehecheyanu when they put on their tefillin.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Skipping a Parsha

Question: I am going on holiday to Eretz Yisrael for a week. As they are a parsha ahead of us, I will be skipping a parsha. What should I do?
Answer: The Rema (OC 135:2) writes that if a shul didn’t manage to lein one week, they should catch up the following week by reading the omitted parsha. The Gra (OC 135:2) comments that this is akin to one who skipped a tefilla who can later make it up. Following this, the Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 135:2) writes that if one purposely skipped leining one may not be able to make it up. The Mishna Berura (135:7) writes, however, that a shul only needs to catch up if the majority of the congregants didn’t manage to hear the leining.
When Pesach begins on a Shabbos or Shavuos begins on a Friday, the last day of Yom Tov in chutz la’aretz is also Shabbos while in Eretz Yisrael it is already isru chag. This discrepancy causes Eretz Yisrael to be one parsha ahead of chutz la’aretz. The Piskei Teshuvos (285:9) writes that one who travels to Eretz Yisrael during this time should ideally find a minyan that will read the missing parsha allowing one to catch up. R’ Gavriel Zinner (Nitei Gavriel, Pesach 40:5) writes that if this isn’t feasible, then one fulfills one’s duty of listening to the local leining.
R’ Nosson Gestetner (Lehoros Nosson 3:13:8) writes that even though when one returns to chutz la’aretz they have already heard that leining, one needs to listen again, as one shouldn’t go for three days without hearing leining.
In conclusion, if one can easily daven in a minyan where they will catch up the leining, one should do so. Otherwise, one should listen to the leining there and listen to it again upon their return.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Wait at the Bus Stop

Question: I want to go to visit someone in hospital on motzaei Shabbos. Can I walk to the bus stop on Shabbos and wait for the bus that will come a few minutes after Shabbos? My sister will meet me there with the fare.
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 114b; 118a) decreed that one mustn’t prepare on Shabbos or Yom Tov for the following day (See Shulchan Aruch OC 302:3; 503:1). Different reasons are offered for this prohibition. According to Rashi (Shabbos 114b) the extra tircha, effort, that one has to expend is inappropriate on Shabbos (See Mishna Berura 323:28). Rambam (Shabbos 23:7), however, writes that hachana, preparation, is akin to mesaken¸ fixing something.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 306:1) writes that the prohibition of hachana includes actions that are not otherwise melachos. One of the examples given is walking to the city gates in order that they can rush to the bathhouse when Shabbos is out. The Magen Avraham (306:1), however, writes that this is only problematic when it is apparent that one is preparing.
Thus, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 4:97:92) quotes R’ Refael Zilber (Marpeh Lenefesh 3:40:2) who writes that while it would be wrong to wait in a bus stop, one can walk towards it and wait nearby so that it isn’t obvious that they are catching the bus. Similarly, R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 7:50) gives a few reasons why one can walk to a bus stop if necessary on Shabbos.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa) allowed one to walk until the end of one’s techum before Shabbos was out though only if they were travelling for a mitzva. Under such circumstances, one would even be allowed to do so if it was apparent.
In conclusion, one who is going to perform a mitzva may walk to a bus stop to catch a bus after Shabbos. They must ensure that they are not carrying anything muktze. Preferably, they should not stand by the actual stop where it is obvious that they are waiting for a bus.

Making Sushi on Shabbos

Question: If I prepare the rice before Shabbos, can I make sushi rolls on Shabbos?
Answer: There are a few potential issues with making sushi on Shabbos.
The Gemara (Shabbos 145b) teaches that one mustn’t rinse salted fish on Shabbos. The Levush (OC 318:4) and Pri Megadim (OC 318:16) explain that doing so would be makeh bepatish (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 318:29). The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 318) disagrees, and writes that makeh bepatish does not apply to food (See Igros Moshe OC 3:52). Regardless, R’ Asher Weiss (tvunah.org) writes that as each of the ingredients are edible before rolling, this prohibition wouldn’t apply even according to the Levush and Pri Megadim.
The Chayei Adam (87:2) writes that the prohibition of tefira, attaching, also applies to food. Nonetheless, moistening the seaweed sheet to close the roll would not pose an issue of tofer as it isn’t something that lasts (See Rema OC 317:3). Additionally, R’ Weiss notes that a little moisture does not count as attaching.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 321:12) writes that one must not cut vegetables into small pieces as doing so is tochen, grinding. Thus, the Mishna Berura (321:45) writes that one must ensure that the pieces are slightly larger than usual. Nonetheless, he cautions (Biur Halacha) that this is hard to define.
The Magen Avraham (340:17) writes that one mustn’t create cheese on Shabbos, as it is included in the prohibition of boneh, assembling. While some foods can be attached together, one mustn’t do so to create a particular shape or picture. Following this, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (80:25) and Chayei Adam (39:1) write that boneh applies to food as well as other items. Based on this, R’ Asher Weiss writes that creating sushi on Shabbos would also be an issur of boneh.
In conclusion, one should not make sushi on Shabbos.

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.