Sunday, 24 September 2017

Shehecheyanu and Yom Tov Candles

Question: I have always said shehecheyanu when lighting my Yom Tov candles. What should I do when my husband says shehecheyanu when reciting kiddush?
Answer: Rambam (Shabbos 29:23) paskens that one should say shehecheyanu every night of Yom Tov except for the seventh (and eighth) night of Pesach.
R’ Yaakov Emden (She’elas Yaavetz 107) writes that while many ladies are accustomed to saying shehecheyanu when lighting, the Gemara (Sukka 47b) writes that this beracha should ideally be said when reciting kiddush. He notes that his own wife said the beracha then and as it can be said at any time over Yom Tov there is no need to prevent women from doing so. Nonetheless, it isn’t the ideal time, and it is best to wait for kiddush to say / hear it.
Thus, while the Mateh Ephraim (581:54, 599:9, 619:4) writes that women should say shehecheyanu when lighting candles, the Mishna Berura (263:23), Aruch Hashulchan (OC 263:12) and R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 44:4) write that it isn’t the ideal time to, though one shouldn’t prevent women from doing so.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:101:1) likewise points out that while this practice may have no basis, women have been saying shehecheyanu when lighting for hundreds of years and so should continue doing so if it their practice. On the other hand, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 3:34) writes that we should discourage women from saying shehecheyanu then, instead waiting for kiddush.
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 14:53), however, writes that all women should be encouraged to say shehecheyanu when lighting. He writes that this is true of sefardim, too, noting that the Ben Ish Chai recorded that this was the practice in Baghdad.
A woman who said shehecheyanu when lighting who later said kiddush must ensure not to repeat shehecheyanu.
There is a machlokes, however, as to whether she should say amen to another saying shehecheyanu during kiddush.
R’ Zvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi OC 1:154) writes that as she has already said shehecheyanu, answering amen now would constitute a hefsek, interruption.
R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 3:69) writes that answering amen would not be a hefsek on Pesach and Sukkos as while she will have said shehecheyanu upon lighting the candles, the shehecheyanu in kiddush applies to other mitzvos including matza and sukka. Thus, one should say amen only on Pesach and Sukkos.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe ibid; OC 4:21:9) and R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky (Emes L’yaakov OC 263) however, explain why answering amen would not be a hefsek at all, irrespective of what yom tov it was (See Rivevos Ephraim 1:182; 8:182:1).
In conclusion, women should say shehecheyanu when lighting Yom Tov candles, though men who light should only say shehecheyanu when saying kiddush. Women who recite kiddush should not repeat shehecheyanu, though there are different opinions as to whether they should answer amen upon hearing shehecheyanu again. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Checking Mezuzos and Tefillin in Elul

Question: I got a leaflet through my door advertising tefillin and mezuza checks, saying that one must check them during Elul. Do I need to check them every year?

Answer: Rambam (Tefillin, Mezuza and Sefer Torah 2:11) writes that providing one’s tefillin come from a reputable sofer one can safely assume that they are kosher and they do not need to be checked even many years later. Similarly, the Tur (OC 39) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 39:10) write that a good pair of tefillin does not need checking providing that they are worn regularly. Otherwise, they should be checked twice in seven years as we are concerned that they may have gotten mouldy (Magen Avraham OC 39:15; Aruch Hashulchan OC 39:6).

The Magen Avraham (39:14) and Mishna Berura (39:26) write that as sweat can permeate the tefillin and ruin them, they should be checked periodically. Similarly, the Aruch Hashulchan (ibid.) writes that they should be checked regularly as the ink in his day would crack easily (See Chayei Adam 14:20; Mor Uketzia 39).

However, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 4:36; n52) writes that as tefillin nowadays are generally manufactured from thicker hides and better quality ink and parchment, one should not have them checked unless one has a specific reason to.

The Gemara (Yoma 11a) writes that while public mezuzos only need to be checked once every fifty years, mezuzos on private dwellings should be checked twice every seven years. Rashi explains that we need to check to ensure that the mezuzos haven’t been spoiled or stolen. Thus, Rambam (Tefillin, Mezuza and Sefer Torah 5:9) and Shulchan Aruch (YD 291:1) write that mezuzos should be checked twice every seven years. The Mateh Ephraim (581:10) and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (128:3) write that it is commendable to check one’s tefillin and mezuzos every year during Elul. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 1:49) adds that this is particularly important as there are many inept sofrim who make mistakes. The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 291:1) writes that this specifically applies when the mezuza is prone to dampness.

Nonetheless, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, ibid.) writes that mezuzos wrapped in proper cases would not need checking this often.

In conclusion, it is most important that one buys good quality tefillin and mezuzos from reputable sofrim which do not require frequent checking. Good tefillin that are worn regularly do not need to be opened and checked unless one suspects that there may be an issue. Mezuzos on internal doors should not need regular checking if they are in good cases and are untouched, though it is advisable to check those on external doors that are exposed to the wind and rain every Elul.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Beracha on Cholent

Question: What beracha does one make before and after eating a regular cholent made of potatoes, meat, beans and barley?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 208:2) writes that when a cooked dish contains one of the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye) the correct beracha is mezonos even if the grain is not the main ingredient providing that it wasn’t added to bind the ingredients together. Thus, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 208:18) writes that one should recite mezonos on dishes such as noodles mixed with potatoes even if there are more potatoes than noodles in the mix.
However, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 212:2) writes that it depends how big the pieces in the mixture are. Thus, if the meat and potatoes are cut into small pieces in a manner that a typical spoonful may contain pieces of each, one would just recite mezonos.
If the potato and meat pieces are bigger, though, such that the pieces would typically be removed and eaten alone, then it is no longer considered to be a mixture and one should make separate berachos.
If one isn’t sure which category their cholent falls into, one can’t just say all the berachos as saying mezonos might render the other berachos unnecessary (Mishna Berura 168:43). Dayan Gavriel Krausz (Mekor Haberacha 23:5) advises in this instance that one removes the other ingredients and says ha’adama and shehakol before saying mezonos (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:146).
One would only say al hamichya if one has eaten a kezayis of the barley within 3-4 minutes (kedei achilas peras). Otherwise, one would recite borei nefashos afterwards.
In conclusion, one should say mezonos on cholent providing that the pieces are small. Large pieces of potatoes and meat should be removed first to make separate berachos on. One says borei nefashos after eating cholent unless one ate a kezayis of barley.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Repeat Kiddush at Home

Question: I usually hear kiddush in shul after davening on Shabbos morning. Do I need to repeat kiddush before lunch?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 273:5) writes that while one is only yotzei making kiddush if it is followed by the seuda, it is sufficient just to eat a little bit of bread or drink some wine. The Magen Avraham (OC 273:10) explains that this is at least a kezayis. The Magen Avraham (OC 273:11) and Mishna Berura (273:25) write that a kezayis of cake will suffice and is preferable to drinking wine. Thus, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (77:17) even writes that one making kiddush over cake should use two pieces of cake as lechem mishne, just as one would for any other seuda on Shabbos (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 55:4).
The Vilna Gaon (Maaseh Rav 122) and R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:63), however, hold that as one doesn’t fulfil one’s obligation to have Shabbos lunch without bread, one needs to recite kiddush again before the meal.
Nonetheless, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:264) writes that while he himself recites kiddush again before the meal, the general accepted minhag is to rely on the Magen Avraham.
R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:20:28) and R’ Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 8:31) thus write that if one eats (mezonos) kugel or noodles at a kiddush that is sufficient, too (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 52:16; 54:22).  
In conclusion, providing everybody has heard kiddush, one doesn’t need to recite kiddush again before eating lunch.