Sunday, 29 December 2013

Eating Before Kiddush on Shabbos Morning

Question: I find it difficult to wait until after shul to hear kiddush. Can I eat before davening?
Answer: Rambam (Shabbos 29:10) and Shulchan Aruch (OC 289:1) write that one is not allowed to eat anything before kiddush. Ra’avad disagrees, as one has already recited kiddush the previous night (See Magen Avraham OC 289:1).
Some chassidim (See Igros Kodesh 10 p326) rely on this Ra’avad, and eat a light breakfast before shacharis to better enable them to daven.
R’ Ben Zion Abba Shaul, (Ohr Letzion 2:7:8) however, writes that it would be preferable to stay home and daven rather than eat before going to shul.
While one mustn’t eat a meal before davening, the Shulchan Aruch allows one to have a drink of water as one isn’t obligated to make kiddush until after davening. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 289:16) extends this to tea and coffee, etc. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:26) writes, however, that one who must eat for health reasons before shacharis, must recite kiddush before eating.
While some rishonim (Rashba; Maharam Chalava, Pesachim 106a) hold that women do not need to hear kiddush during the day, the Mishna Berura (271:3) writes that women must recite (or hear) kiddush in the same way that they have to observe all other laws of Shabbos.
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 52, n46) held that women should recite kiddush before eating. However, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:101:2) permitted married women to eat before they daven and their husbands return from shul, explaining that during that time, it is like a man who has not yet davened, and who is not yet obligated to make kiddush. The Minchas Yitzchak (4:28) allowed women to rely on the lenient rishonim when necessary (See Machazeh Eliyahu 33:3).
In conclusion, one can certainly have a drink before davening even without hearing kiddush. While many chassidim eat some cake before davening, most poskim say that one shouldn’t eat before hearing kiddush. While it is best for women to hear kiddush first, they may eat before davening if necessary.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Tovelling Toasters

Question: Do I need to tovel my new toaster?
Answer: There is a machlokes as to whether electrical items require tevila altogether. R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:450) quotes a view (see Chelkas Yaakov 1:126) that when electrical items are plugged in, they are considered mechubar lekarka, attached to the ground, and therefore exempt from tevila, though he disagrees (see too Minchas Yitzchak 2:72 and Shevet Halevi YD 2:57:3).
Although the bread is fully baked before it goes into the toaster, the Aruch Hashulchan (YD 120:35) writes that as such kelim come into contact with food, they require tevila with a beracha. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 3:24), however, writes that as the bread is fully baked before it goes in, the toaster may be used without tevila. Elsewhere, (YD 1:57-58) he writes that while (other) electrical items require tevila, it is sufficient to tovel just the parts that come into contact with food. The electric parts – even if they are attached – do not need to be immersed (See Rivevos Ephraim 2:172).
As kelim manufactured by a Jew don’t require tevila, some disconnect and reconnect an integral part of the appliance. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 2:66:4) writes that it isn’t enough to just change the plug or disconnect a wire outside of the appliance, though it must be an internal one (that requires a professional).
R’ Zvi Cohen (Tevilas Kelim 11:51) writes that one needs to tovel a toaster with a beracha. Nonetheless, as there are Poskim who hold that electrical appliances shouldn’t be tovelled at all, one who does so should ideally make the beracha on something that certainly does require tevila.

Kiddush on Whisky

Question: Is it okay to make kiddush on whisky or beer?
Answer: Certainly on Friday night, when kiddush is d’oraisa, one must make kiddush on wine (or grape juice). If one has no wine, one must recite kiddush over his challa (Shulchan Aruch OC 272:9).
On Shabbos morning, when kiddush is d’rabannan, the rules are relaxed somewhat:
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 289:2) writes that when one doesn't have wine one may use Chamar Medinah, popular beverages. This includes whisky and other liquors (See Igros Moshe OC 2:75). While the Shulchan Aruch (OC 272:9) includes beer in this category, the Mishna Berura (272:24) writes that this only applies where beer is commonly drunk (See Machazeh Eliyahu 34 regarding tea and coffee).
Even when wine is available, many have the custom to recite kiddush on a shot of whisky. While some Poskim (Mateh Ephraim 625:99, Minchas Yitzchak 10:22) defend this practice, others (see Aruch Hashulchan OC 272:13) disapprove. The Mishna Berura (272:30) writes that while it is certainly best to use wine, it is okay to use other drinks when wine is more expensive and drunk less. R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 3:26; 5:32) explains that people used to drink wine much more than water. Nowadays, however, wine is not drunk quite as much, hence the hetter to use other beverages.
While the Magen Avraham (OC 190) and Mishna Berura (272:31) write that one who does make kiddush on whisky should use a cup that holds a revi’is and drink melo lugmav, a cheekful (at least 1.6oz), others hold that one may use a shot glass (See Taz OC 210:1, Teshuvos Chasam Sofer 49). R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi OC 1:159) points out that one who relies on this should say Borei Nefashos afterwards, even if they have not drunk a revi’is.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Babysitting on Shabbos

Question: How can I pay my babysitter for working on Shabbos?
Answer: The Mishna Berura (306:16) writes that chazal forbade one from getting paid for services performed on Shabbos as they were worried that people would inadvertently do business on Shabbos. As paying one will cause them to transgress, one is forbidden to pay another, too (ibid 306:21).
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 28:68) writes that one who received money would never be allowed to benefit from it. Quoting R’ Chaim Soloveitchik, he writes (28:n110) that if one worked on Shabbos intending to get paid, that work is forbidden, too.
Ideally, one should ask their babysitter to do some work for them during the week, and pay them for that work and their Shabbos babysitting as a single unit, rather than per hour (Shulchan Aruch OC 306:4). R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach held that this extra work must be something for which one would normally pay another to do (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 28:66, n145).
Likewise, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 306:12) writes that one may pay another (an inflated fee) for any preparations they did during the week, such as travelling.
Another option is to give a gift, rather than paying them (Mishna Berura 306:15). R’ Ribiat (The 39 Melochos, Kosaiv p976) stresses that this gift must not have been pre-negotiated, and both parties must understand that it is indeed a gift.
In conclusion, one cannot pay babysitters normally if they just work on Shabbos. One may give them a gift for their work, though it is ideal if they do some work during the week, too, and are paid, even an inflated fee, for that.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Scrabble on Shabbos

Question: May one play Scrabble on Shabbos?
Answer: There are a few potential issues with playing Scrabble on Shabbos. The first is whether forming the letters into words is considered kesiva, writing (and mechika, erasing, when breaking up words).
The Levush (340:4) writes that one mustn’t open or close a book on Shabbos if there are words stamped on the edges of its pages. Doing so will form or erase the words, which may be forbidden midoraisa! Likewise, putting letters together to form a word in a game is forbidden.
The Machtzis Hashekel (340:6) extends this prohibition to picture jigsaws, as one mustn’t create or ruin a picture.
The Taz (OC 340:2) disagrees, comparing opening and closing a book to opening and closing a door which isn’t considered building or destroying. While we don’t Pasken like the Levush, the Mishna Berura (340:17) writes that one should avoid such books if possible.
R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi – Tel Harim, Koseiv 4) argues that the Levush only forbids using such books as the letters themselves are formed or erased, though would allow joining letters together to form words. Thus, R’ Yehoshua Kaganoff maintains that even the Levush would permit playing scrabble, where the letters are already formed (See Chazon Ish (OC 61:1) who prohibits eating cake with writing on if doing so will destroy a letter).
R' Yisroel Pinchos Bodner (Tiltulei Shabbos 1:n24) writes that R’ Moshe Feinstein also forbade playing when the letters are affixed to the board.
Yet another issue is playing games which normally involve writing. The Chayei Adam (Shabbos 38:11) forbids playing such games on Shabbos. As one usually records the score while playing Scrabble, one would not be allowed to play on Shabbos (See Bris Olam, Koseiv 13 who questions this and Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 17:31, Igros Moshe OC 5:22:14), though similar games which don’t involve keeping score (such as Junior Scrabble) would be permitted.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Time to Light

Question: I see different people lighting their menora at different times. What is the optimum time?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 21b) writes that the proper time for lighting the Chanuka light is at shekia, the setting of the sun. There is a considerable range of opinions regarding exactly what this means.
According to Rambam (Chanuka 4:5) this means the beginning of shekia. Thus, the Vilna Gaon (Biur Hagra OC 672:1) writes that one should light at sunset while the Rema (Darkei Moshe OC 672:4) writes that the Maharil would light just after sunset.
Other poskim however, write that the Gemara refers to the end of the process of the sun setting, tzeis hakochavim. The Mordechai (Shabbos 455) writes that one should wait until tzeis to light as candles are more noticeable during the night. The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (OC 672:1) rule like the Mordechai (See Rosh, Shabbos 2:3; Tosafos, Menachos 20b; Bach OC 672:1; Magen Avraham OC 672:1).
The Mishna Berura (672:1; Biur Halacha 672:2) quotes both opinions and writes that those who daven maariv at tzeis should ideally light first, though should ensure that there is enough oil to last until a half hour after tzeis.
Similarly, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:101:6) writes that the ideal time to light is about ten minutes after shekia though one should ensure that there is an hour’s worth of oil.
In conclusion, there are different minhagim as to when to light with some lighting at shekia and some waiting until tzeis hakochavim. Those lighting earlier should ensure that there is enough oil to last for half an hour after tzeis hakochavim.