Sunday, 26 November 2017

Next Day Delivery on Shabbos

Question: Am I allowed to order something online to arrive on Shabbos?
Answer: The Mishna (Shabbos 121a) writes that one mustn’t ask a non-Jewish person to extinguish a fire on Shabbos. Rambam (Shabbos 6:1) writes that this prohibition (amira leakum) is miderabanan (See Shaar Hatziyun 243:7).
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 244:1) writes that one may pay a non-Jewish person to do a melacha for them if they don’t specify that it needs doing on Shabbos. Thus, one may give one’s car in to a garage on Friday and pick it up after Shabbos providing they have enough time to do it before or after Shabbos if they want. The Mishna Berura (244:24) notes that this must include daytime hours when it normal for one to work.
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 247:1) allows one to pay a delivery man to deliver a parcel without worrying when they’ll deliver it, providing that they weren’t specifically instructed to deliver it on Shabbos. Likewise, the Mishna Berura (247:4) writes that if they have been instructed to deliver the parcel on a particular weekday, they must have enough time to travel there without travelling on Shabbos.
Nonetheless, the poskim write that there are a few reasons to be lenient to allow sending a parcel that will arrive on Shabbos.
Firstly, R’ Mordechai Yaakov Breish (Chelkas Yaakov 1:65) and others write that as the deliveryman is delivering so many other parcels along with this one, they are not performing melacha especially for the Jew. The Mishna Berura (318:13; Shaar Hatziyun 316:33), however, writes that this may still be problematic mideoraisa.
Additionally, the Chavos Yair (53) writes that while one mustn’t instruct a non-Jewish person to perform melacha on their behalf, one may ask them to instruct a second person to do so (amira leamira). According to the Chasam Sofer (OC 60) this is especially true when the instructions were given before Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (307:24; Biur Halacha 307:2) writes that one can only do so to avoid a major financial loss.
Based on this (and other reasons), R’ Pesach Eliyahu Falk (Machazeh Eliyahu 37) says that there is no issue in sending a package to arrive on Shabbos.
The consensus of poskim (Minchas Yitzchak 6:18; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:278:2; Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 31:20), however, is not to do unless there is an urgent necessity. 
In conclusion, one should avoid ordering something to specifically arrive on Shabbos unless one really needs it then.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Beracha on Tasting Food

Question: I regularly taste food while cooking. Should I say a beracha?
Answer: Rambam (Berachos 1:2) writes that one does not need to recite a beracha before tasting food, though Rabbeinu Chananel (quoted by Tosefos, Berachos 14a) writes that one does need to unless one spits the food out (See Tur OC 210:2).
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 210:2) writes that one who tastes less than a revi’is of food doesn’t need to say a beracha if they spit it out, though there are opposing views as to whether one does say a beracha if they swallow the food or not. The Mishna Berura (210:19) writes that the Shulchan Aruch sides with Rambam, meaning that one wouldn’t say a beracha regardless if they swallowed some food or not. The Rema adds that safek berachos lekula, when there is a doubt as to whether one needs to say a beracha, we follow the lenient view as (most) berachos are derabanan.
Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (ibid., Shaar Hatziyun 210:30) notes that the Magen Avraham disagrees with the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema, writing that one should say a beracha if they are going to swallow any food. Thus, he writes that one should avoid any such doubt by intending on properly eating and benefiting from some of the food so that they need to say a beracha. Regardless, the Mishna Berura (210:13) concedes that if one isn’t intending on eating the food, but is just tasting it before it’s cooked to see if it needs further spicing, etc. or to see if it tastes good once cooked, one doesn’t need to recite a beracha.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 210:29) disapproves of spitting out food. One would only say a beracha if they tasted fully cooked food, in which case they should take a proper bite, but not if they tasted food that was still cooking.
In conclusion, it is ideal to avoid the question by saying a beracha on other food first. Otherwise, if one thinks they will enjoy tasting the food, they should have a proper bite and say the beracha. If tasting to see if the food is ready, etc. then they don’t need to recite a beracha.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Beracha on Smelling Coffee

Question: I particularly enjoy the smell of coffee beans. Should I say a beracha when I smell them?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 43b) writes that one who smells an esrog or quince should recite the beracha, ‘..hanosen reiach tov bapeiros’ (He who places a nice aroma in the fruit). According to the Shulchan Aruch (OC 216:2), one says this beracha upon smelling an edible fruit, providing when they picked it up, they intended to smell it, regardless of whether they are eating it or not.
The Mishna Berura (216:9 quoting the Elya Rabba 216:5) writes that the correct wording is ‘..asher nasan reiach tov bapeiros,’ using the past tense rather than the present tense. The Ben Ish Chai (Vaeschanan 1:15) writes that as there is a doubt as to what the correct beracha should be, many avoid saying this beracha (See Kaf Hachaim OC 216:27). Nonetheless, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Chazon Ovadia, Berachos 216:15) writes that one may say it.
The Rema (OC 216:14) writes that there are some who say a beracha upon smelling bread straight from the oven, though concludes that one shouldn’t (See Beis Yosef OC 297). Based on this, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 216:86) writes that one wouldn’t recite a beracha upon smelling coffee.
Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (216:16) writes that one should say a beracha upon smelling fresh coffee beans.
In conclusion, while there are some sefardim that avoid saying this beracha, one who enjoys the smell of coffee beans should say the beracha, ‘..asher nasan reiach tov bapeiros’ before smelling the coffee.