Sunday, 26 January 2014

Mayim Acharonim

According to the Gemara, there are two reasons for washing mayim acharonim. Firstly, washing one’s hands removes the dangerous melach sedomis (Eruvin 17a and Chullin 105a). Secondly, one should wash one’s hands before reciting a beracha (Berachos 53b).
While Rambam (Brachos 6:2) and Shulchan Aruch (OC 181:1) both pasken that one should wash mayim acharonim, the Shulchan Aruch (181:10) brings Tosafos’s opinion that defends the practice of those who don’t, as we no longer need to be concerned about melach sedomis. The Rema (Darkei Moshe OC 181:1) writes that this is the normative askenazi custom. R’ Yaakov Emden (Mor Uketzia 181) explained that nowadays when people eat with cutlery, one doesn’t need to be so concerned about melach sedomis.
Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (181:22) writes that the Vilna Gaon was particular to do so, and that ideally askenazim should wash. Although the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 181:4) writes that one doesn’t need to wash if one’s hands are clean and they wouldn’t normally wash them after a meal, he carries on to say that following the poskim, one should be careful to wash mayim acharonim and encourage one’s family to do so, too.
While R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef 3:181:2) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:140:3) hold that women are also obligated to wash, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi OC 4:23) writes that mayim acharonim is a chumra that was never practiced by women (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:174; Piskei Teshuvos 2:181:1).
Many are particular to cover up or remove the used mayim acharonim for Kabbalistic reasons (Kaf Hachaim OC 181:8). According to this view, one should specifically only use a few drops of water (Ben Ish Chai, Shelach 8). Interestingly, the Ben Ish Chai (ibid 7) writes that one should say the 3 words of this Halacha, Mayim Acharonim Chova, and thereby fulfil one’s obligation to learn at the meal, too.
The ashkenazi poskim don’t follow this view, however: The Aruch Hashulchan (181:7) and Mishna Berura (181:10) both write that one must use a revi’is (See Ma’ase Rav 84).
Thus, while sefardim (who follow the Ben Ish Chai) should use the small mayim acharonim sets that are both small and hide the used water, ashkenazim who wash, should wash with a regular cup.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Tovelling Disposables

Question: I usually reuse disposable aluminium dishes a few times. Do I need to tovel them?
Answer: Rambam (Kelim 5:7) writes that when one only intends on using a container once before throwing it away, it is not mekabel tumah. The Shav Yaakov (Shut 31) writes that only containers that are considered to be proper kelim require tevila. Following this, R' Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 2:32) paskens that disposable dishes that are only used once do not require tevila. If they will be reused at all, then they do require tevila.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 3:23), however, quotes Rambam elsewhere (Kelim 2:1) who writes that the criteria for a container to be mekabel tumah is also that it is long lasting. Thus, even if one decides to reuse such a container, it will not require tevila. R’ Moshe does concede, however, that if one buys it with the intention to reuse it a few times (or later decides to use it a few more times), then one should tovel it without a Bracha.
R’ Asher Weiss (tvunah.org) writes that the Tiferes Yisroel (Intro to Taharos - Yevakesh Daas 44) quotes the Vilna Gaon saying that only containers made from the six metals mentioned in the Torah (gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead) can be mekabel tumah. Although aluminium is not one of the ‘Torah’s metals’, the Tiferes Yisroel argued that it should be included along with other types of metal.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (YD 2:164) however, disagrees, as aluminium was never included.
R’ Asher Weiss therefore concludes that disposable aluminium dishes do not require tevilah even if they are reused a few times.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Please Remain Seated - Sitting during Leining

Rambam was asked (Teshuvos Harambam 46) whether it’s right to stand for the reading of the Aseres Hadibros. Many have the custom to do so to remind us of the time we stood when we received the Torah. The Gemara (Berachos 12a) tells us that the Chachamim did not incorporate the Aseres Hadibros into the davening as there was a danger that some would think like the heretics that this was the only passage given at Sinai. Similarly, writes Rambam, one who normally sits during leining must not stand for the Aseres Hadibros.
While many acharonim including R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:22) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 6:153:14) justify standing, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechaveh Da’as 1:29) writes that had they seen Rambam’s responsum they wouldn’t have written what they did.
R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos V’hanhagos 1:144) recommends standing up before the Baal Koreh begins reading the Aseres Hadibros so no one will mistakenly think that the Torah is only comprised of the Aseres Hadibros. R’ Ovadia Yosef writes that as the Rabbi is usually honoured with this aliya it would be okay to stand for him and remain standing.
Nonetheless, R’ Moshe writes that whatever one’s individual practice, one must join in with everyone else, and not go against the norm. While the individual may not have much choice, the tzibbur should either remain seated throughout, or stand for the whole aliya.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

How many for Chazaras Hashatz?

Question: How many people need to have finished davening shemone esrei before the chazan can continue?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 124:4) writes that the chazan should wait for nine others to respond before beginning chazaras hashatz. Failing that, it is close to making a beracha l’vatala. Elsewhere, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 55:6) seems to contradict himself, however, by saying that if one of the ten cannot respond as they have begun davening or fallen asleep, they may still be included. The acharonim give different solutions to explain the difference. The Magen Avraham (55:8) concludes that one does not need nine to answer for chazaras hashatz (See Taz, Pri Chadash and Aruch Hashulchan OC 55:13), while the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 55:7), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (20:2) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 55:48; 124:20) maintain that there does need to be a minyan.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:145) explains that one only needs a minyan when repeating chazaras hashatz. It is sufficient to have just six men to say kaddish during maariv, and one can rely on others still davening or sleeping.
The Noda Biyehuda (EH 1:54) was asked about someone who was mesader kiddushin without checking that there was a minyan present for the berachos. He replied that while lechatchila one needs to have a minyan present for all devarim shebikedusha, bedieved if one does not have a minyan, one is still yotzei. He quotes the Gemara Yerushalmi (Megilla 30b) to prove his point: If people leave the davening in the middle, leaving less than a minyan, the chazan may continue.
R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 4:14) however, challenges this proof, differentiating between starting chazaras hashatz when you need a minyan to bring the shechina, and already having a minyan, when the shechina will not leave just because one or two people do.
In conclusion, one should ideally wait for nine others to respond for chazaras hashatz, though can rely on the more lenient authorities when absolutely necessary (Tzitz Eliezer 12:9; Yalkut Yosef 124:14). One can say kaddish after maariv with only six men who have finished their amida.