Sunday, 26 February 2017

Muktze Mobile

Question: I accidentally left my smartphone on my bed on Friday night. Was I allowed to move it?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:3) writes that items that are primarily used for prohibited acts (keli shemalachto leissur) can be moved on Shabbos if one needs the space. Thus, one can move a hammer on a bookcase to access books or from a chair which one wants to sit on. This doesn’t apply, however, to items that are muktze machmas chisaron kis, muktze for fear of financial loss.
Where one is very particular about an item, be it an expensive item or a delicate tool, etc. it takes on a higher level of muktze. Unlike regular muktze items, such items are not used for other functions. Thus, craft knives and expensive electronics cannot be moved just because they are in the way.
Seemingly, smartphones would fit into this category, and thus may not be moved in a regular way.
The Mishna Berura (309:10) writes that in such a scenario, the muktze item should ideally be tilted off by lifting the base. Thus, one may lift the covers (or mattress) allowing the phone to fall. If the phone is on and doing so may cause a button to be knocked, or if doing so may cause damage to the phone, then one may lift the blanket with the phone on it and place it down elsewhere.
In conclusion, while the phone may not be moved normally, one may either lift the covers to shake it off or if necessary, lift the covers off and place them elsewhere.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Wind up Baby Swing on Shabbos

Question: We have a baby swing that is operated by winding it up. Can we use it on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 338:3) writes that one can set an old clock before Shabbos even though it will chime throughout Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (338:14) explains that people will understand that it was set before Shabbos. The poskim discuss whether one can pull the chains that operate the clock on Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (338:15) paskens like the Chayei Adam (44:19) who writes that it is forbidden because it is akin to tikkun mana (fixing something). The Chazon Ish (OC 50:9) also says it is forbidden, though explains that as you are making the watch operational again, it is akin to boneh (building).
As there is a machlokes as to whether one can wind a watch on Shabbos that is still ticking (See Ksav Sofer OC 55; Daas Torah OC 338:3), the Mishna Berura (338:15) and R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbas Kehilchasa 28:20) pasken, that one may only do so under extenuating circumstances, such as for a choleh.
The poskim discuss whether wind-up toys and swings are included. R’ Yisroel Pinchos Bodner (Tiltulei Shabbos 1:n36) writes that he heard from R’ Moshe Feinstein that one mustn’t play with wind-up toys on Shabbos as they are like winding up watches.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (ibid. 16:14) writes that children can play with wind-up toys providing they don’t make a noise, etc. He writes that R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach differentiated between watches and toys. Watches are considered to be non-operational when not ticking, as opposed to wind-up toys that are only designed to work for a few seconds. Additionally, watches are far more complex and sophisticated than wind-up toys (See Minchas Shlomo 9; Be’er Moshe 6:32). He writes that they may be assur miderabanan according to the Chazon Ish, however.
Thus, R’ Ribiat (The 39 Melochos, p1132) writes that one may wind up a baby swing on Shabbos. He writes (ibid. Makeh Bepatish n58) that while R’ Moshe’s prohibition of wind-up toys may apply to wind-up swings, too, he heard from many poskim that one may wind up baby swings on Shabbos.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Forgot to Take Challa

Question: I baked challos for Shabbos though forgot to separate challa before baking them. Can I take challa on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Eruvin 83a) writes that one only needs to separate challa when making a dough that is the size of a tenth of an eifa. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 324:1) writes that one making a dough from the five grains with a volume of 43 (and one fifth) eggs, must separate challa. As there is a machlokes as to the size of kabeitza nowadays, there are different customs as to how large the dough must be. Common practice is to separate challa without saying a beracha if using 2.5lb of flour (See Shiurei Torah p158) and with a beracha only when using over 5lb of flour.
The Shulchan Aruch (YD 327:2; 5) writes that ideally one should separate challa after kneading the dough, though if one didn’t do so then, they can still do so after baking it. One mustn’t eat the bread until they have separated challa.
The Mishna Berura (339:26) writes that one can’t separate challa on Shabbos because of tikkun mana (the finishing act). Thus, if one forgot to separate challa in Eretz Yisrael, they wouldn’t be able to eat it until they had separated challa after Shabbos (See Bechoros 27a; Shulchan Aruch YD 323:1).
The Chayei Adam (44:22) and Mishna Berura (261:4), however, write, that one who forgot to take challa in chutz la’aretz, may leave over a slice on Shabbos, eat the rest and separate the challa from that slice after Shabbos.
In conclusion, if you leave a slice from one of your challos aside to separate challa from after Shabbos, you can eat the rest on Shabbos.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Baby Monitors on Shabbos

Question: Can we leave a baby monitor in our baby’s room on Shabbos so that we can hear her when she cries?
Answer: Contemporary poskim give different reasons for why one can’t use microphones on Shabbos.
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 2:17), R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 3:16:11; 4:26) and R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:230) write that one can’t use a microphone on Shabbos even if it has been switched on before Shabbos just like one can’t leave a radio or television playing on Shabbos. There is an issur derabanan of avsha milsa, allowing sounds to be made on Shabbos that will give people the impression that one is performing a melacha (See Shabbos 18a; Eruvin 104a; Rema OC 252:5). Thus, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:70:6) wrote that one shouldn’t set very loud alarm clocks to go off on Shabbos.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (ibid. OC 3:55; 4:84) gives other reasons why one mustn’t use a microphone on Shabbos, even if it was switched on beforehand. He explains that when one speaks loudly into the microphone, the electric current increases accordingly, and one mustn’t operate anything electrical on Shabbos. While it is difficult to understand exactly how electricity works, he compares the act of amplifying one’s voice to the melachos of kosev, (writing) boneh (constructing) and makeh bepatish (the finishing act).
Nonetheless, R’ Moshe (ibid. 4:85) permitted people to wear hearing aids, if necessary, on Shabbos. As it isn’t clear what the prohibition is, we don’t forbid using them in case of great need.
In conclusion, one shouldn’t use a baby monitor under normal circumstances on Shabbos. Only under extenuating circumstances such as with an unwell child should it be used, though when doing so, adults should be careful not to talk when in the room.