Saturday, 26 September 2015

Sleeping in the Sukka

Question: I slept in a sukka as a teenager though now that I’m married with children, I am reluctant to leave them alone at night. Is that a good enough excuse to sleep in the house?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 639:2) writes that while one is allowed to eat a snack outside of a sukka, the halachos of sleeping are stricter, and one shouldn’t even take a short nap outside of a sukka.
Nonetheless, the Rema justifies the practice of many who don’t sleep in their sukka. Firstly, he reasons, the sukka may be too cold to sleep in. One who is particularly uncomfortable (mitztaer) is exempt from sleeping in a sukka. The Mordechai (Sukka 741) wrote that in his time (13th Century, Germany) most people didn’t sleep in the sukka due to the cold weather. The Mishna Berura (639:17), however, understands this to refer to someone who doesn’t have pillows and blankets to keep them warm. Seemingly, one who does have would not be exempt from sleeping there.
Additionally, the Rema writes that if one’s wife can’t sleep together with him in the sukka, he is exempt. The Taz (OC 639:9) and Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 639:9) explain that as sleeping alone can ruin one’s simchas Yom Tov, it would be better not to sleep in the sukka (See Mishna Berura 639:18).
The Rema (OC 660:4) cautions against building a sukka that is unfit to live in, due to it not being safe or comfortable, writing that such a sukka wouldn’t be kosher. The Mishna Berura (640:18) points out that if it’s just the climate that makes it difficult, though the sukka is otherwise sound, it is kosher as one could take extra blankets in and sleep there comfortably.
Rabbeinu Manoach (Sefer Hamenucha, Sukka 3:6) writes that even those who don’t sleep in the sukka at night, should try to do so when napping during the day, especially as many of the above reasons aren’t relevant.
In conclusion, the acharonim allow one to sleep outside of the sukka if one is concerned about leaving their family, though one should try, where possible, to take naps in one’s sukka.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Squeezing Lemons on Shabbos

Question: Can I squeeze a lemon for salad dressing on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 320:1) writes that it is forbidden mideoraisa (prohibition of sechita) to squeeze olives and grapes on Shabbos as these fruits are planted primarily to make oil and wine. It is forbidden derabanan to squeeze other fruits such as pomegranates or strawberries to make drinks on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (320:6) writes that one may however, squeeze lemons on Shabbos. Elsewhere (Beis Yosef OC 320), he explains that people in Egypt would do so on Shabbos. Firstly, he reasons, as lemon juice can’t be drunk unless it has been diluted, it isn’t considered a regular juice. Secondly, they would do so into sugared water, rather than into an empty container (See Teshuvos Harosh 22:2).
Many of the poskim challenge this, as lemons are primarily grown for their juice. The Mishna Berura (320:22), Kaf Hachaim (OC 320:36) and R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 5:5) write that as nowadays, juice is primarily squeezed to make lemon juice for drinking, one mustn’t squeeze the lemons straight into water or into an empty container. Rather, one should squeeze the lemons onto sugar before adding water.
Nonetheless, squeezing lemons directly onto a salad wouldn’t pose a problem (See Shulchan Aruch OC 320:4).

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Kingsmill Bread in the Aseres Yemei Teshuva

Question: Do I need to avoid eating Kingsmill Bread and Ryvita® crackers during the aseres yemei teshuva?
Answer: The Gemara (Avoda Zara 35b) writes that in order to protect the Jewish community and prevent assimilation with non-Jews, chazal instituted that we mustn’t eat certain foods prepared by non-Jews. One of these was pas akum, bread baked by a non-Jew. Tosafos (ibid) writes that according to the Talmud Yerushalmi, the ban on bread was lifted, as it was too restrictive to limit such a staple food.
The Shulchan Aruch (YD 112:2) writes that while one may never buy bread from a non-Jewish ‘home baker’, one may buy from a commercial baker (pas palter) when there is no local Jewish baker. The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 112:17) writes that when the local Jewish baker’s bread is as good, one should only buy that.
The Rema (ibid; Toras Chatas 75:1) writes that one may buy pas palter even when there is a local Jewish baker (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 38:1).
R’ Moshe Feinstein (YD 2:33) writes that if one likes the taste of factory bagels better than the local bakery, one may eat it. He warns, however, that factory bread may contain non-kosher ingredients and it isn’t enough just to ask them what it contains.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 5:596) writes that R’ Moshe Feinstein held that bread baked in modern factories can be eaten, and wouldn’t even be considered pas palter (See Igros Moshe YD 4:48:5). R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 6:108:6) writes that preferably one should buy from one’s local Jewish baker.

The poskim write that one should be meticulous in their observance during the aseres yemei teshuva (See Baer Heitev 603:1).
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 603:1) writes that one who eats pas palter during the year, should refrain from eating it during the aseres yemei teshuva.
The Levush (OC 603) explains that this should remind us of the holiness of these days. The Chayei Adam (143:1) writes that just we have gone above and beyond in halacha, so we ask Hashem to go above and beyond in judging us favourably.
Based on the above, R’ Moshe Feinstein seemingly would allow one to eat Kingsmill Bread and Ryvita® crackers during the aseres yemei teshuva, though others, including R’ Shmuel Wosner wouldn’t.
Certainly, though, where one has an equal choice, one should, as the Aruch Hashulchan writes, opt for the bread baked by one’s local Jewish baker.

Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:4) writes that during the aseres yemei teshuva, one should give extra tzedaka, do extra good deeds and mitzvos. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 603:2) warns against taking on certain chumros during this time, as doing so may necessitate that they continue observing it. Instead, he urges that one examine their actions and do teshuva.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Cold Shower on Shabbos

Question:  Can one take a cold shower on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 39b) writes that chazal decreed that one mustn’t wash one’s entire body with hot water on Shabbos, as they suspected that if it would be allowed, people would heat up water on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 326:1) writes, however, that one is allowed to wash one’s face, hands and feet with water that was heated before Shabbos.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 326:4) does allow one to pour cold water over one’s whole body. Nonetheless, the poskim write that the ashkenazi custom is to avoid showering on Shabbos. The Magen Avraham (OC 326:8) writes that one can’t dip in a river as we are concerned that one may carry (outside of an eruv) or squeeze water out of one’s hair, etc. (See Shut Maharil 139; Mishna Berura 326:21).
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74: rechitza 3; 4:75) writes that while the reasons for this minhag may not apply to taking a cold shower in one’s house, one shouldn’t do so under normal circumstances. Only if one is particularly uncomfortable (mitztaer) such as during a heat wave, may they do so. R' Moshe Stern (Be'er Moshe 6:73) writes that one doing so under such circumstances should cover up their hot tap and avoid wetting their hair.
R’ Akiva Eiger (OC 326:1; 5) even allows one to use hot water provided it was heated before Shabbos (e.g. from a Shabbos kettle), though one doing so must ensure that they don’t pour the water directly from the kettle into the cold water.