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 (Noach 2:11) 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.