Monday, 25 April 2016

Shabbos Clothes on Chol Hamoed

Question: Does one need to wear Shabbos clothes on chol hamoed?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 529:1) writes that one should wear nicer clothes on Yom Tov than one does even on Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (529:12) explains that this is because of the special mitzva to be happy on yom tov (See Rambam, Yom Tov 6:17).
There is also a mitzva to treat yom tov with both oneg (joy) and kavod (honour), though there is a machlokes among the poskim as to whether one needs to treat chol hamoed with the same oneg and kavod.
The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 529:5) writes that these don’t apply on chol hamoed.
The Mishna Berura (530:1) quotes the Magen Avraham (OC 530:1), however, who writes that one needs to treat chol hamoed with kavod and notes that the Maharil would wear his Shabbos clothes on chol hamoed. Thus, the Chayei Adam (106:1) writes that one must wear one’s Shabbos clothes on chol hamoed.
Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (Shaar Hatziyun 530:4) notes that while one needs to treat chol hamoed with respect, it isn’t on the same level as yom tov. Thus, while one needs to eat nicer foods and wear nicer clothes than on a regular weekday, one doesn’t need to wear ones finest (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 530:4).
R’ Moshe Stern (Be'er Moshe 7:3:3) writes that even those that have to work on chol hamoed should ensure that they wear nicer clothes than usual where possible.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Eating Matza before Pesach

Question: May one eat matza balls (kneidlach) or crackers before Pesach?
Answer: The Gemara Yerushalmi (Pesachim 10:1) teaches that one must not eat matza on erev Pesach. Rambam (Chametz Umatza 6:12) explains that this makes it clear that the matza one eats on seder night is eaten for the mitzva. The Rema (OC 471:2) writes that this prohibition applies all day though there is a machlokes as to whether this starts the preceding night or from amud hashachar¸ daybreak (See Magen Avraham 471:6, Chok Yaakov 471:7).
The Mishna Berura (471:12) adds that some have the minhag not to eat matza from Rosh Chodesh Nissan. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:155) notes that some abstain for thirty days before Pesach as according to one view in the Gemara (Pesachim 6a) this is when our Pesach preparations begin.
Tosafos (Pesachim 99b) writes that this only applies to matza that one can use to fulfil the mitzva (See Biur Hagra OC 444:1). Thus, the Baer Heitev (OC 471:5) writes that one may eat crackers providing that there is no possibility that they could be fit for matza. Likewise, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 471:2) writes that one can eat egg matza on erev Pesach before sha’ah asiris, three halachic hours before Yom Tov. Therefore, R’ Moshe Feinstein writes that when erev Pesach falls on Shabbos, one can use egg matza for lechem mishna on Friday night and in the morning.
The Rema (OC 471:2) writes that one cannot eat matza that had been broken up and kneaded with wine and oil. Thus, one would not be able to eat matza brei, etc. on Erev Pesach. The Mishna Berura (444:8; 471:20; Shaar Hatziyun 444:1) explains that even if one does so, it is still considered to be matza. However, if one cooked the matza, to make kneidlach one would be able to eat it up until sha’ah asiris.
R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet HaLevi 8:117) writes that this prohibition includes cakes baked from matza meal (See Piskei Teshuvos 471:3). According to R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Pesach 8:4), one may eat food made with matza meal providing that it does not have the ‘form of bread’. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 6:39) writes that the prohibition only applies to actual matza but cake made with matza meal can be eaten.
In conclusion, there are different customs as to when the prohibition to eat matza begins, though this only applies to actual matza. One may eat kneidlach and meat balls made with matza meal on erev Pesach. There are different customs as to whether one can eat biscuits and cakes made with matza meal on erev Pesach

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Moving a Sefer Torah

Question: Our family are going away for Shabbos and will have a Minyan. Can we take a sefer Torah with us even though we’ll only lein from it twice?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 135:14; 584:3) writes that one mustn’t take a sefer Torah to prison so that one can hear leining even on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur unless it’s for an important individual. The Mishna Berura (135:46) explains that this wouldn’t be kavod for the sefer Torah. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura writes that this halacha specifically applies to an individual. One can take a sefer Torah to a prison or hospital if there is a minyan there. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 135:74) quotes the Zohar who takes a strict stance on this halacha though writes that if a minyan accompany the sefer Torah, then it may be moved.
The Rema (OC 135:14) writes that one who transports a sefer Torah should prepare a place for it in advance. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 135:83) and Mishna Berura (135:49) write that it is sufficient to prepare a suitable place that day. R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:694) stresses that ideally it should be kept in an aron hakodesh rather than on a table. Likewise, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 9 OC 15:3) writes that while R’ Yaakov Emden (Mor Uketziah 135) disapproved of taking a sefer Torah into shiva houses, that was only because children run around. If they are looked after respectfully in an aron hakodesh, however, then it is permitted.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 135:32) writes that the minhag is to ensure that the sefer Torah is leined from on at least three occasions. Yet, many poskim question the mekor of this minhag (See Yabia Omer 9 OC 15:5)
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 5:219) writes that while he heard from R’ Moshe Feinstein that there is no mekor for this minhag, it is commendable, and one shouldn’t move sifrei Torah around when possible (See Tzitz Eliezer 17:12).
In conclusion, while many poskim allow taking a sefer Torah away for a private minyan, it should be stored in an aron hakodesh and treated respectfully. 

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Checking Eggs

Question: We forgot to check our eggs while baking a cake, and found a blood spot in the mixture. We removed the blood and baked the cake. Can we eat it? Do we need to kasher our dish?
Answer: The Gemara (Chulin 64b) writes that one mustn’t eat an egg with a blood spot as we are concerned that it is the beginning of an embryo. The Rema (YD 66:8) writes that as the majority of eggs don’t have blood spots, one doesn’t need to check them. Nonetheless, he writes, it is the minhag to check them. One may eat them if they weren’t checked, however (Aruch Hashulchan YD 66:32).
As modern commercial eggs are produced through artificially stimulated hormones, they cannot develop into chickens. Thus, the poskim write that any blood found in them isn’t proper blood. While the Shach (YD 66:14) allows one to eat such eggs even with blood spots, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 1:36; OC 3:61) writes that we should still abide by this minhag and throw out any eggs with blood spots particularly as eggs are so cheap. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 3:57), writes, however, that in Israel where eggs are more valued, one only needs to dispose of the actual blood spot (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:821; 2:384).
R’ Moshe Feinstein writes that if one did bake with eggs which had blood spots, the food would still be considered kosher and the dishes would not require kashering.