Sunday, 27 October 2013

Beracha on Chocolate

Question: What beracha does one make on chocolate-covered raisins?
Answer: While the accepted practice is to recite shehakol on chocolate, there are poskim that maintain that as it comes from the cocoa bean, the correct beracha should be ha’etz. While the Shaarei Teshuva (OC 202:19) writes that the correct beracha is shehakol, the poskim he quotes lived before chocolate was eaten in its solid form. There is no question that chocolate in a liquid form, just like any other fruit juice should be shehakol.
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 1:91:2) compares chocolate to finely ground spices. While these spices are no longer identifiable, their beracha remains the same. Similarly, one recites ha’etz on chocolate, even if there is more sugar than cocoa bean. (See Mishna Berura 202:76, 203:12)
Dayan Gavriel Krausz (Mekor Habracha 21) writes that while the correct beracha seems to be ha’etz, nonetheless the minhag is to say shehakol.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC3:31) addresses the issue of chocolate-covered raisins, though is clear that one recites shehakol on chocolate itself. While normally one makes the beracha on the ikar, main ingredient, neither the raisin nor the chocolate can be considered tafel, of secondary importance to the other. One would therefore need to recite both shehakol and ha’etz (ideally on another raisin, etc).
The Baer Hetev (204:19) holds that the raisin is the ikar (See Mekor Habrocha 22) while the Vezos Habracha (p96-97) quotes one opinion that chocolate is the ikar, and another that as the volume of the raisin is usually greater than the chocolate, the correct beracha should be ha’etz (see Yalkut Yosef 3 p431). R’ Moshe Heinemann writes that the beracha is subjective as the ikar is determined by personal preference.
In conclusion, while one can follow his preference, it is ideal to make 2 berachos on 2 other items.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Kiddush in Shul

The Gemara (Pesachim 100b) writes that the Chazan recites Kiddush in Shul on Friday night for the guests who would stay in the Shul. As nowadays, guests don’t typically eat their Shabbos meals in the Shul, the Tur (OC 269) writes that this custom no longer applies. Rambam (Shut Harambam 37) however, writes that although the reasoning may no longer apply, we shouldn’t abandon a takana of the Rabbis. The Beis Yosef (OC 269) quotes a few Rishonim who defend the practice, yet paskens like the Tur that one shouldn’t. The Tashbetz (quoted by his sons in Shut Yachin Uboaz 1:118) held that one shouldn’t even answer Amen to Kiddush in Shul as there is a safek of a bracha levatala.
Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (269:5) writes that the accepted minhag is for the Chazan to recite it. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef 269:2) writes that a Shul that doesn’t usually say it should change their custom if there is anyone in Shul that won’t otherwise say Kiddush. The Shulchan Aruch writes that as he is not going to eat immediately after (Kiddush B’makom Seuda), the Chazan should give the wine to a child. If there is no child present, the Chazan should drink at least a Revi’is, say a Bracha Achrona, and have intent to fulfill the mitzvah of Kiddush. This does not prevent him from later making Kiddush again at home (Mishna Berura 269:1, Yabia Omer 1:15).
The pre-war minhag in Finland was always to recite Kiddush, though as wine was scarce during the war, they stopped this practice. The Chief Rabbi asked R’ Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg whether he should reinstate this minhag. He was reluctant to do so based on the Beis Yosef. R’ Weinberg replied (Seridei Aish 2:157) that the Shul should begin doing so again as it adds grace and beauty of holiness to the start of Shabbos. Additionally, it may inspire others who wouldn’t otherwise make Kiddush, to do so when they return home.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Making Aliya

While Rambam (Melachim 5:12) writes that it is forbidden to leave Eretz Yisrael, nonetheless he does not include it in his list of 613 Mitzvos. Some explain that Rambam only holds that this Mitzva is Derabanan, while others (Megilas Esther) hold that this Mitzva applied specifically when Yehoshua conquered the land.
Ramban (Hasagos HaRamban 4, Bemidbar 35:53) disagrees with Rambam, and writes that certainly living in Eretz Yisrael is a Mitzva today. The Pischei Teshuva (EH 75:6) paskens like Ramban, and quoting the Sifrei (Re’eh 28), writes that the Mitzva to move to Eretz Yisrael is equal to all other Mitzvos. (See Igros Chazon Ish, 1:175 and Yechave Daas 4:49)
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe EH 1:102) wrote that while most authorities agree with Ramban, it is a Mitzva Kiyumis rather than a Mitzva Chiyuvis, optional (like tzitzis) rather than obligatory. While Rambam writes that one mustn’t leave Israel, he doesn’t write that one must move there. R’ Moshe quotes Rabbenu Chaim Cohen (Tosafos Kesubos 110b) who defended the practice of those who didn’t make aliya, as moving to Israel was considered dangerous.
Amazingly, the Pischei Teshuva quotes the Maharit (Shut 28) who writes that this opinion was mistakenly inserted into Tosafos by a student. Since when did a Mitzva stop being applicable simply because it is difficult to observe?!
R' Avraham Borenstein of Sochachov (Avnei Nezer 2:454) writes that R’ Chaim Cohen’s reasoning is no longer applicable. In spite of the potential difficulties, this is a Mitzva like no other. Furthermore, living in Eretz Yisrael enables one to fulfil so many other Mitzvos. (See Tzitz Eliezer 7:48:12)
While there are factors that may prevent one from making Aliya, one certainly fulfils a Mitzva (according to most Poskim) in doing so. We must bear in mind, too, the words of the Chasam Sofer (Derashos 1p18), The ideal way to observe Torah and Mitzvos is specifically in the land of Israel.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Kiddush Levana

Question: When’s the best time to recite Kiddush Levana?
Answer: According to Rabbeinu Yona (Berachos 21a) one must wait two or three days after the molad, when the moon has begun to show a little light, before one can recite kiddush levana. While the Beis Yosef (OC 426) writes that for Kabbalistic reasons one should not recite kiddush levana until seven days have passed, the Mishna Berura (426:20; Shaar Hatziyun 426:18) writes that most acharonim disagree and hold that one may recite it after the third day.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 426:2) follows the teaching of Maseches Sofrim (19:10) that one must only recite kiddush levana on motzaei Shabbos while one is still dressed in their Shabbos best. The Rema concurs, but adds that if one did not manage to recite kiddush levana on motzaei Shabbos, they should don their Shabbos clothes before reciting it during the week. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (ibid.) notes that many acharonim including the Vilna Gaon maintained that one should not push the mitzva off, especially in cloudy weather when it can be difficult to see the moon.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 426:3) writes that one can recite kiddush levana up until the sixteenth day since the molad. He quotes the Maharil (19) who defines this time more accurately as half of a lunar cycle: fourteen days, eighteen hours, and twenty-two minutes.
While kiddush levana should not be recited on Shabbos or Yom Tov (Shavuos) for Kabbalistic reasons, the Mishna Berura (426:12) allows one to do so if it is the last possible opportunity.
In conclusion, one can begin to recite kiddush levana from the third day following the molad. One has up until the sixteenth day to say it. While it is preferable to say kiddush levana on motzaei Shabbos, one should not wait if one has an earlier opportunity. Ideally, one should not recite kiddush levana on Shabbos.