Sunday, 25 December 2016

Flying over Chanuka

Question: I am flying over Chanuka and won’t be home to light the menora. What should I do?
Answer: R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 7:46) writes that there is a machlokes among the poskim as to whether one who is away from their house can fulfil their obligation to light the menora by having a family member light on their behalf. The Mishna Berura (677:2) writes that one can fulfil his obligation with his wife lighting at home. R’ Weiss writes, however, that if one is in a different time zone to one’s wife at a time when he wouldn’t be able to light himself, then he wouldn’t be able to rely on his wife’s lighting. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Chanuka 13:4), however, writes that one can rely on one’s family members back home regardless of the time zone.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 2:OC:17; 3:OC:35; Yechave Daas 4:38; 5:24), R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:12) and R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 3:1-2) write that while one can use electric lights for Shabbos candles even with a beracha if necessary, chanuka lights must possess both oil and wicks. As electric lights have neither, one may only use an electric menora under extenuating circumstances, and one can’t say a beracha over such lights. If one was able to light a regular menora afterwards, he should then do so with a beracha. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:180:7; 3:240; 4:66) writes that electric flames are no good as there isn’t a proper flame. Additionally, having a lightbulb means that there is no naked flame (See Halichos Shlomo, Chanuka 15:3).
While Rashi (Shabbos 23a) writes that one doesn’t light the menora on a boat, the Maharsham (4:146), Aruch Hashulchan (OC 677:5) and R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 15:29) write that one is obligated to light a menora on a train. R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 7:67) explains that one doesn’t necessarily need to have a house in order to be obligated to light. Thus, one travelling by car would need to light (See Rivevos Ephraim 2:180:6).
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:434:5) discusses whether one should light a menora on an aeroplane. (This volume was published in 1974 when it was still acceptable to smoke on flights.) He writes that as one could argue that an aeroplane does not count as a place of living one should light without a beracha (See Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 139:13).
R’ Asher Weiss (, however, writes that there is a difference between a train and plane, and there is no obligation to light at all on a plane.
In conclusion, if one has someone else at home who can light on their behalf while it is night for both of them, they should light and be yotze them. Failing that, one can light an electric torch (preferably incandescent or halogen) if they want to fulfil the opinion of those who say one should ideally light. One wouldn’t say a beracha, though.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Saying Modim Loudly

Question: When listening to chazaras hashatz I sometimes hear the chazzan say modim quietly while everyone else says modim derabanan. Is this correct?
Answer: The Gemara (Sota 40a) writes that when the chazzan reaches the beracha of modim, the tzibbur say modim derabanan (See Rambam, Tefilla 9:4). This beracha is so important that the Gemara (Berachos 21b) writes that one who comes late to shul should not begin davening the amida unless he knows that he will finish before the chazzan reaches modim (See Shulchan Aruch OC 109:1).
The Mishna Berura (124:41) questions the practice of some chazzanim who say modim quietly. The chazzan must raise his voice if necessary, to ensure that he can be heard by at least a minyan of men.
Thus, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:91:1) questions whether the tzibbur should say modim derabanan quietly so as to ensure that they can hear the chazzan. Elsewhere, (ibid. 2:185:17; 5:76) he quotes R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv as saying that the chazzan should pause while the tzibbur say modim derabanan before continuing modim to enable everyone to hear. One shouldn’t do this, however, unless it is the minhag of that shul.
In conclusion, the chazzan should raise his voice a little while saying modim so that the tzibbur can hear him.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Tefillin over Watch

Question: Do I need to remove my watch before putting on my tefillin?
Answer: The Mishna (Megilla 24b) writes that there mustn’t be anything in between one’s tefillin and their arm (chatzitza). Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 27:4) writes that one should ensure to place one’s tefillin directly on their head and arm. The Rema, based on the Rashba (1:827), qualifies this to the tefillin boxes, though allows one to have something under the straps (See Magen Avraham OC 27:5).
The Mishna Berura (27:16) writes that the leniency only applies to the winding around the arm (kerichos). There mustn’t be any chatzitza by the tying (keshira), however (See Shaar Hatziyun 27:16). Similarly, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 27:13) writes that the minhag is to be particular not to have a chatzitza even with the arm straps.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 4:16:7) writes that according to the Chasam Sofer (YD 192) one must remove one’s rings before wrapping tefillin. The windings round the fingers are considered keshira and so a ring would be a chatzitza.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 3:2, Yabia Omer 2:OC:2) writes that especially if one wears one’s watch normally at the end of their arm after the seven wrappings, it doesn’t act as a chatzitza.
Nonetheless, he writes that while we shouldn’t prevent others from wearing their watch, it is ideal to remove it.
In conclusion, one should remove one’s ring before wrapping one’s tefillin round that finger. While one is yotze if they keep their watch on, it is commendable to remove it.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Plasters on Shabbos

Question: Can we use plasters (band aids) on Shabbos? Do they need to be prepared beforehand?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 328:1) writes that one mustn’t perform any act of healing for one who is healthy but slightly uncomfortable (mechush) on Shabbos. Nonetheless, as plasters primarily serve to protect the wound from becoming infected, one may apply plasters to cuts on Shabbos (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 34:3).
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 340:14) writes that sticking is a tolda of tofer, sewing. Thus, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 8:15:14:6) writes that ideally one should stick the plaster onto one’s body, rather than stick the ends over each other, thereby creating a weaker attachment.
The Rema (OC 317:3) cites a machlokes as to whether one may undo temporary stitching on Shabbos or not (See Mishna Berura 317:21). Accordingly, there is a machlokes as to whether one may remove the plastic tabs from plasters on Shabbos.
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 5:39:2; 9:41) writes that one would only be allowed to undo threads or removing something sticky that was tied or stuck on for very temporary use. As tabs on plasters aren’t so temporary, one mustn’t remove them on Shabbos (See Baer Moshe 1:36).
Nonetheless, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo 328:45; Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 9:n55) held that the halacha follows the lenient opinion, and one may undo or unstick something that is not supposed to be tied or stuck long-term. Thus, the tabs may be removed on Shabbos. Likewise, R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (2:36:15), R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 6:24) and R’ Pesach Eliyahu Falk (Machazeh Eliyahu 1:70:1) explain that although the tabs were placed on the plasters during production and may have been there for a while, that does not preclude them from being considered temporary, and one may remove them (See Az Nidberu 7:34; 35).
In conclusion, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 16:6:5) writes that it is ideal to remove the tabs and replace them before Shabbos. Either way, most poskim allow one to open and apply a plaster on Shabbos.