Sunday, 24 March 2013

How much Matza, Maror & Wine?

Shiurim in CC (ml)
Chazon Ish
R’ Moshe Feinstein
R’ Avraham Chaim Naeh
Larger Size
Smaller Size

There is a lot of debate amongst the Rishonim and later Poskim as to how to accurately calculate the shiurim (size or volume) of halachic measurements.
The Shaarei Teshuva (OC 486) and Mishnah Berura (486:1) rule that we should be particularly stringent for mitzvos that are deoraisa.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (quoted by R’ Avrohom Blumenkrantz) held, therefore, that one should follow the larger shiur (above) for the mitzvos that are deoraisa, and rely on the smaller shiur for those that are derabanan. A healthy person should certainly try to follow the Chazon Ish’s shiurim for the first kezayis of matza and the afikoman to be sure of fulfilling the mitzva according to all opinions. This is estimated at about 2/3 of a Machine baked Matza. By consuming the larger shiur, one also accommodates the preferred practice of eating two kezeisim for both the matza that is eaten at the beginning of the meal and the afikoman (see Shulchan Aruch 475:1 and Mishna Berura 477:1). For the matza and maror of korech, one can follow R’ Moshe’s smaller shiurim.
According to Sefer Kol Dodi (14:11 and 18:3) R’ Moshe’s larger shiur equals 6.25 by 7 inches of matza while the smaller one comes to 4 by 7 inches.
While most authorities hold that Kiddush on Yom Tov is derabanan, others (including the Minchas Chinuch, 31) hold that it is deoraisa, as it is on Shabbos, and therefore, even on a weeknight, it is best to be stringent and drink a ‘larger’ revi’is. One who finds it difficult to drink so much may follow the smaller shiur for the other 3 cups which are derabanan.
While maror is derabanan (nowadays), one need not use the largest shiur. Yet, as we make a bracha on it, one should not eat the smallest size either.
One who can’t even tolerate the small shiurim of R’ Chaim Naeh should consult their Rabbi about consuming less.
While it is ideal to finish one’s wine cup, if necessary one may drink most of it. If one can’t cope with the larger size revi’is, they should find a cup that just holds a smaller revi’is. The second cup may need to be refilled after wine has been spilled out while mentioning the makkos.
The matza, maror and 4 cups must be eaten kdei achilas pras. This time is also debated, with R’ Moshe Feinstein holding it is 3 minutes, and R’ Avraham Chaim Naeh allowing 4. If absolutely necessary, one can take up to 9 minutes.
I wish you a Kosheren and healthy Pesach where we can all fulfil these mitzvos to their utmost.

Shaving on Chol Hamoed

Question: Is one allowed to shave on Chol Hamoed?
Answer: Chazal instituted (see Shulchan Aruch 531:1-2) that one mustn’t take a haircut on Chol Hamoed. Rabbeinu Tam wrote that since the Gemara’s reason for the prohibition is to ensure that people will take a haircut before Yom Tov, if one did in fact have a haircut beforehand, he may do so again on Chol Hamoed.
The majority of the Rishonim reject this opinion. Firstly, others won’t know that he shaved before Yom Tov, and secondly, the Mishna (Moed Katan 13b) and Gemara don’t make any such exception.
The Noda Biyehuda (1:13 & 2:99-101) allowed one to shave on Chol Hamoed providing that the barber employed was destitute and needed the money to eat.
This innovative responsum caused quite a stir. The Chasam Sofer (OC:154) strongly disagreed, saying the Gemara is clear that it is forbidden, and laxity in this will lead to further transgressions.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:163) wrote that based on the Noda Biyehuda he could allow one who shaves regularly to shave on Chol Hamoed, too. As nowadays people shave so often, we don’t need to be concerned that people will mistakenly think that he hadn’t shaved prior to Yom Tov. As frequent shaving simply wasn’t the norm back then, the Gemara didn’t mention it. Even those who disagreed with Rabbeinu Tam would agree that nowadays it is permitted to shave.
He ends, however, by saying that this applies specifically if one has a strong need (e.g. it may jeopardize his job) or if it causes one particular discomfort to go unshaven.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa, 1:p264) among others, concurs with the Shulchan Aruch and Chasam Sofer and forbid one from shaving on Chol Hamoed even if he’d done so before Yom Tov.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Wine and Matza Alternatives

Question: I don’t like wine and matza. Can I drink grape juice and eat non-wheat matza instead on Seder night?
Answer: R’ David Feinstein writes that his father, R’ Moshe Feinstein held that one should push oneself to drink wine, even if it causes him mild discomfort. R’ Zvi Pesach Frank (Mikraei Kodesh, Pesach 2:35) argues that a non-alcoholic beverage does not make one happy in the same way that wine does and therefore cannot be used on Seder night.
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, however, (Halichos Shlomo, Pesach 9:11) writes that grape juice has the same status as wine, as drinking grape juice also symbolises freedom.
If possible, one should at least dilute the grape juice with a little wine. (R’ Moshe Sternbuch, Teshuvos Vehanhagos, 2:243)
R’ Avrohom Blumenkrantz (Chasdei Avrohom 20) writes that one shouldn't use grape juice made from concentrate for kiddush or on Seder night.

The Rema (OC 453:1) writes that we are accustomed to only eating wheat matza. Therefore, non-wheat matza should only be eaten as a last resort, such as for health reasons.
R' Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 9:49) was concerned that oats become chametz quicker than wheat.
Spelt-matza is easier to digest, and presents less concerns than oats. One should not choose to eat Spelt-matza on Seder night, however, just because they prefer the taste.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Lego on Shabbos

Question: Can I play with Lego on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 313:6; 341:1) writes that the Torah prohibition of binyan, building, does not apply to keilim, movable items, unless the connections are particularly robust. Thus, a cup that comes apart can be dismantled and reassembled on Shabbos. The Taz (313:7) and Magen Avraham (313:12) add that there is no issur of boneh to open and close something that is designed to be regularly opened and closed.
R’ Moshe Stern (Baer Moshe 6:25) and R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:42:5) write that while adults should avoid playing with Lego, there is no specific prohibition in it and children can even build a model that will last some time.
Many acharonim including the Chasam Sofer (OC 72) write that temporary building does not constitute binyan. Following this, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 7:39; Yechave Daas 2:55) writes that one should be able to play with Lego on Shabbos, especially if one is playing rather than building a specific model to last. He notes that R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 16:19: n57) initially permitted playing with Lego though later questioned it. Nonetheless, R’ Ovadia concludes that one may play with Lego.
Similarly, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 13:30-31) answers R’ Auerbach’s challenges and writes that there is no prohibition in playing with Lego on Shabbos.
R’ Pesach Eliyahu Falk (Machazeh Eliyahu 1:69) writes that while joining two pieces together is permissible, one shouldn’t even allow one’s children to play with Lego on Shabbos because building models could come under the prohibition of kesiva, and building a house with a roof could be creating an ohel.
In conclusion, one does not need to prevent children from playing with Lego on Shabbos, though it is preferable if they don’t build complete models or buildings.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Baby Wipes on Shabbos

Question: Can we use baby wipes on Shabbos?
Answer: Squeezing a wet sponge on Shabbos is forbidden because of sechita. There is a lot of debate as to whether this poses a problem for using baby wipes, too.
R' Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 10:25) forbids using baby wipes. Likewise, R' Pesach Eliyahu Falk maintains that as the very purpose of baby wipes is to squeeze out liquid for a constructive purpose, one cannot claim that one isn’t transgressing on sechita.
Some recommend only using wetter wipes, as the liquid is less absorbed and won’t need to be squeezed out (See The 39 Melochos, Ribiat, p352), while others only permit the drier wipes. R' Yechezkel Roth gave a hechsher to a brand that manufactured their wipes from man-made materials, such as polyester, as opposed to cotton (gidulei karka) which would be more problematic.
R' Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 14:33, note 94) quotes R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as permitting their use. R' Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 6:194:3; 7:118) and R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 320:38) write that it is okay to use baby wipes, though one shouldn’t press on them too hard, causing extra liquid to be extracted. R' Simcha Bunim Cohen writes (Children In Halacha p111) that they are only  forbidden if after using the wipes on one’s skin, there is enough moisture to wet another who touches the skin.
In conclusion, while there are stricter authorities who advise using tissues with water or lotion, many rely on the more lenient authorities. Care must be taken not to tear perforated wipes.