Sunday, 28 February 2016

Mezuza on a Lift

Question: I recently saw a mezuza on the entrance to a lift, though we don’t have one in our office. Do we need to attach one?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (YD 286:11) writes that one doesn’t need to affix a mezuza to a room on a boat. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 4:93) writes that there is a machlokes as to whether this halacha would apply to all moving rooms or not. Accordingly, there is a machlokes as to whether one needs to affix a mezuza to a caravan or not (See Minchas Yitzchak 2:82).
While rooms smaller than four amos by four amos don’t typically require a mezuza, the Teshuvos Chamudei Daniel holds that when such rooms are typically so small, they do require a mezuza (See Pischei Teshuva, YD 286:11; Yechave Daas 4:51).
Based on this, R’ Weiss writes that ideally one should place a mezuza on a lift. One should only place it on the lift itself, and not at the entrance on each floor.
Nonetheless, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 2:97:23) and R’ Moshe Stern (Be’er Moshe 2:88) disagree, writing that lifts are used for transport and cannot be considered a residential room. Likewise, the doors to the lift are useless doors once the lift has moved to another floor. Thus, a lift does not require a mezuza.
In conclusion, while there are those who are particular to do so, the general custom is not to affix a mezuza to a lift.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Office Mezuza

Question: Does one say a beracha on affixing a mezuza on one’s office doorway?
Answer: The Gemara (Yuma 11b) writes that only buildings that are used for dwelling require a mezuza. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 286:11) writes that a shop entrance does not require a mezuza. Elsewhere, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 286:2) does, however, require that one affix a mezuza to a storage room. The poskim have suggested different answers to explain the difference.
The Taz (YD 286:10) explains that one is more likely to access the storage area at any time of day and night, however the shopkeeper will never go to his shop at night while the Pischei Teshuva (YD 286:10) writes that the Shulchan Aruch is referring to temporary shops which are set up for a market and thus don’t require a mezuza.
Accordingly, there is a machlokes as to whether an office owned by a Jew requires a mezuza. Nonetheless, the poskim write that the owner should affix one without a beracha (See Minchas Yitzchak 2:83).
The Shulchan Aruch (YD 286:1) writes that one needs to affix a mezuza to a building that one owns together with another, though the Rema writes that one only needs to affix one if all partners are Jewish.
The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 286:2) writes that the Rema’s reason was because of the potential danger that can ensue from suspicious neighbours (See Shach YD 286:2). As this is no longer such a concern, one should affix a mezuza to such a property.
R’ Shamai Gross (Shevet Hakehasi 4:263) writes that if one is hiring an office, then one should affix a mezuza. If one is working in an office that belongs to a non-Jew, however, there would be no need to affix a mezuza.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Touching the Kosel

Question: On a recent trip to Eretz Yisrael, our tour guide warned us not to place our fingers into the stones of the kosel. Are we not allowed to place a note inside or touch the stones?
Answer:  According to the Mishna (Kelim 1:8) it is forbidden mideoraisa to go into the place of the beis hamikdash while tamei (See Zevachim 32b).
There are various midrashim (Shemos Rabba 2:2; Bamidbar Rabba 11:2; Midrash Rabba Shir Hashirim 2:9:4, et al.) that talk of the uniqueness of the Western Wall of the beis hamikdash. Based on this, the Radbaz (2:648; 691) believed that the kosel is a remnant of the beis hamikdash itself. Thus, the Chayei Adam (Mishpatei Eretz 11:8) writes that one can walk close to the kosel though one shouldn’t touch it (See Yabia Omer 5:YD:27).
However, the Avnei Nezer (YD 450),  R’ Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky (Ir Hakodesh Vehamikdash 4:2) and R’ Ovadia Yosef (ibid) write that the kosel is not a wall of the beis hamikdash but a retaining wall of the har habayis, Temple Mount (See Tzitz Eliezer 10:1). R’ Ovadia Yosef concludes that those who are machmir not to touch the kosel are mistaken. Similarly, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:113) writes that R’ Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik (the Griz) wouldn’t visit the kosel though he doesn’t understand why one would avoid it when it has been the practice to go for so many years.
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 3:160:3) writes that although the wall surrounds the har habayis, one may place one’s hands into the wall. Thus, there is no problem with placing a note in the wall.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Late to Shul on Friday night

Question: If one comes late to shul on Friday night, can they still daven Mincha?
Answer: The Mishna (Berachos 26a) writes that one can daven Mincha until evening. There is a machlokes among the rishonim as to when this is. While Mincha corresponds to the afternoon korban tamid, there is a machlokes as to whether its blood had to be offered up by shekia, sunset, or tzeit hakochavim, nightfall.
Chassidim (and many sefardim) typically follow the Rema (OC 233:1) who writes that one can daven Mincha until tzeit (See Shaagas Aryeh 17; Yechave Daas 5:22). Others, however, typically follow the Gra (OC 261:2), Aruch Hashulchan (OC 223:9), Mishna Berura (233:14) and R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:24) who write that one must daven before shekia and it would be better to daven alone before shekia rather than daven with a minyan after shekia.
Rabbenu Yona (Berachos 18b) writes that one must be consistent and follow one opinion rather than change whenever one wants.
The Mishna Berura (233:14; Shaar Hatziyun) writes that if one who usually davens Mincha before shekia hadn’t yet davened, they may daven up until about 15 minutes before tzeit.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 263:15) writes that if one had already been mekabel Shabbos, it is too late to daven Mincha, and one would have to repeat the Maariv amida (tashlumin). The Mishna Berura (263:63) writes that if one came late to a shul which had already been mekabel Shabbos, they should leave the shul to daven Mincha providing it isn’t too late.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 46:5) stresses the importance of davening Mincha before shekia before Shabbos so that they can properly be mekabel Shabbos in good time.