Sunday, 31 July 2016

Door Knocker on Shabbos

Question: Can one use a doorknocker on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Beitza 36b) writes that chazal forbade one from dancing and playing with musical instruments on Shabbos as they were worried that they may come to fix a broken instrument (makeh bepatish).
Thus, the Gemara (Eruvin 104a) discusses whether one may make sounds that have no melody such as knocking on a door. Based on this, Rambam (Shabbos 23:4) and the Beis Yosef (OC 338:1) write that one mustn’t use any instrument that makes noise as we are concerned that one will use it to play music. The Mishna Berura (338:1) writes that the same applies to objects that aren’t created for noise. Thus, one should even avoid clapping in the normal way.
The Biur Halacha (338:1) quotes Rambam (Pirush Hamishnayos, Eruvin 104a) who implies that one may use a door knocker on Shabbos. Nonetheless, the Rema (OC 338:1) writes that one must only knock on a door on Shabbos with one’s hand and not with a door knocker.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 28:35) writes that one may use something else, such as a key, to bang on the door, providing that one doesn’t do so in a specific rhythm.
In conclusion, one shouldn’t use a door knocker on Shabbos nor should one knock in a specific rhythm.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Adjusting Fan on Shabbos

Question: Can one adjust a fan on Shabbos to blow in one direction?
Answer: R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 3:49; 4:91:5) writes that electric appliances such as lamps and fans are muktze as they are considered to be kelim shemelachtam leissur, items that serve a forbidden action on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:3) writes that such items are allowed to be moved either if one needs the space (letzorech mekomo) or for personal need (letzorech gufo).
Thus, R’ Moshe Feinstein and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:235; 5:250; 6:206) allow one to move a fan on Shabbos so that it blows in the right direction. Similarly, one can adjust its mechanical levers to allow it or prevent it from oscillating.
R’ Moshe warns, however, that one must be careful to ensure that the plug doesn’t get pulled out. Likewise, R’ Yisroel Belsky (quoted in The 39 Melochos, p1235:n165) advises that the speed dial is taped down before Shabbos to prevent people from accidentally adjusting it.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 7:OC 38:3) writes that while there are poskim who take a stringent view on this, one may follow the lenient authorities.
In conclusion, one may adjust a fan on Shabbos providing that one is careful not to adjust the speed, etc.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Disposable Cup for Kiddush

Question: Can one use a disposable cup for Kiddush?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 183:3) writes that one mustn’t use a cracked cup for bentching. The Magen Avraham (OC 183:5) writes that even a broken base disqualifies the cup. The Mishna Berura (183:11) applies this halacha to the cup used for kiddush and havdala, too (See Shulchan Aruch OC 271:10).
There is a machlokes as to how to apply this halacha to disposable cups.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:75; 3:39) writes that one mustn’t use a disposable cup for kiddush as it isn’t respectable. Using a disposable cup would be worse than a real cup with a cracked base. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 10:23) adds that just as one wouldn’t tovel such a cup as it isn’t considered a proper kli, so too it doesn’t qualify as a proper kli for kiddush (See Ohr Letzion 2:47:12).
R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 6:48), however, writes that there is no need for the cup to be particularly respectable. If there is no nicer cup available, one may use a disposable one. Similarly, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 12:23) writes that people often reuse disposable cups, especially those made for hot drinks. Thus, irrespective as to whether one ever reuses them or not, they are considered to be proper cups and may be used for kiddush (See Beer Moshe 5:55; Rivevos Ephraim 1:150:2).
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 47:n51) allows one to use disposable cups that are respectable looking and would not look out of place at a dinner.
In conclusion, one should try to use a proper cup where possible, though when necessary, one can use a disposable cup.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Long Road Ahead

Question: I always say tefillas haderech when I travel abroad. Do I also need to say it when I travel more locally?
Answer: According to the Gemara (Berachos 30a), one says tefillas haderech when travelling a parsa (approximately 2.5 miles) out of the city. As danger is more prevalent on a deserted road, the Tehila Ledovid (110:3) writes that one only says it when travelling on a road that is not within a parsa of any city. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 21:31) suggests that as there is less inherent danger in travelling nowadays, it is best to recite it without the concluding beracha, or to say it in the shemone esrei (in shema koleinu) before travelling. R’ Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg also suggests this if one will find it easier to concentrate when not driving (Tefilla Kehilchasa 27:80).
While, one travelling, from Manchester to London, for example, should recite it, there are different opinions about one travelling on a shorter journey, such as from Manchester to Leeds. Sefardim should not recite it, based on the opinion that it is only recited if the journey takes 72 minutes (the time it takes to walk a Parsa - Halacha Berura 110:16 based on R’ Ovadia Yosef), while ashkenazim should, following R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and others. (See Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 68:2)
When flying, tefillas haderech should be recited while taxiing on the runway unless the airport is outside the city, in which case it should be said on the way there. Ideally, one should stand while reciting tefillas haderech, and should say it oneself, rather than listening to another and answering amen.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Beracha after Coffee

Question: Should I say borei nefashos after drinking a coffee?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 210:1) writes that one doesn’t say borei nefashos after drinking unless they drink a revi’is in one go (See Mishna Berura 210:1).
The Baer Heitev (204:12) quotes some poskim who hold that one should recite borei nefashos after sipping a hot drink. The Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha (51:5) compares this to drinking alcohol, which according to the Taz (OC 210:1), one would say borei nefashos after drinking just a shot as that is the normal way of drinking it (See Har Tzvi OC 1:159).
Nonetheless, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 202:7) writes that even though this is the normal way of drinking hot drinks, the Shulchan Aruch doesn’t differentiate between hot and cold drinks, etc. Likewise, the Baer Heitev sides with the other poskim who disagree, saying that the minhag is not to say borei nefashos. To avoid the safek, however, he advises one to leave a revi’is in the cup to cool down to drink normally and then say borei nefashos (See Mishna Berura ibid). Similarly, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 8:86) suggests that where possible, one should have a drink of water with one’s hot drink (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:135).
In conclusion, one doesn’t say borei nefashos after a coffee, though one should try to drink it with something else so that one can say the beracha.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Milky Bread

Question: I wanted to bake a milky bread loaf though was told that I couldn’t. Is that true and why?
Answer: The Gemara (Pesachim 30a; 36a) writes that chazal instituted that one mustn’t bake a loaf of bread using milky or meaty ingredients as people may not realize and come to eat milky bread in a meaty meal, or vice versa (See Shulchan Aruch YD 97:1).
The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 97:1) writes that this is so serious that if one accidentally baked such bread, one mustn’t eat it at all (See Kaf Hachaim YD 97:11; Yabia Omer YD 1:5).
The Gemara writes that one may bake milky or meaty bread, however, providing that they bake it kaein tura, like the eye of an ox. According to Rashi (Pesachim 36a) this refers to baking a small quantity while Rambam (Maachalos Asuros 9:22) understands it to mean baking the bread in a different shape to regular bread.
The Shulchan Aruch (ibid) writes that if either of these conditions were met, one could bake such bread. Thus, in Yerushalayim, all milky borekas are made in a triangular shape. While the Shulchan Aruch limits this small amount to the amount that one eats in one meal, the Rema says it equals the amount of bread that one will eat in one day.
In conclusion, you may bake milky bread providing that you either bake a small quantity, or shape it differently to usual.