Sunday, 30 December 2018

Moving Furniture on Shabbos

Question: We’re having a lot of people over for Shabbos lunch. Are we allowed to move the bookcase into the other room to create extra room?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 35a) cites a machlokes as to how heavy an item needs to be in order for it to be rendered muktza. Tosafos, however, demonstrate that the halacha does not follow this Gemara as elsewhere (ibid. 45b; Eruvin 102a), the Gemara allows moving large items on Shabbos. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (308:2) writes that an item does not become muktze based on its size or status. The Mishna Berura (308:9) adds that this applies even if it takes a few people to lift the item.
The Mishna Berura (308:8) and R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 20:22) write, however, that if one would normally be hesitant about moving something because they are concerned about it getting ruined, then it is considered to be muktza machmas chisaron kis (valuable items which cannot be moved).
The Gemara (Shabbos 138a) teaches that there are certain acts that are prohibited miderabanan on Shabbos because they are uvdin dechol, mundane, weekday activities. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:222:4) quotes R’ Chaim Biberfeld (Menucha Nechona 4), who writes that moving one’s furniture around on Shabbos is considered uvdin dechol.
In conclusion, while it is preferable to move one’s furniture before Shabbos, it would be permitted to move a regular bookshelf on Shabbos providing that it isn’t an expensive one that one is concerned that it shouldn’t get damaged.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Turn Lights off for Havdala

Question: I see that some people switch off the lights during havdala before saying the beracha, borei meoiray haeish. Is this necessary?
Answer: The Mishna (Berachos 51b) teaches that one doesn’t recite the beracha, borei meoiray haeish, unless one benefits from the light, though there is a machlokes in the Gemara (ibid. 53b) as to whether one actually needs to benefit from the light or not. Thus, Rambam (Shabbos 29:25) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 298:4) write that one should ensure that the flame is close enough so that one would be able to distinguish between various types of currency.
While R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Moadim Uzemanim 6:90) writes that he switches the lights off during havdala, elsewhere (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 5:86) he writes that one would still say amen upon hearing the beracha while the lights were on, as if necessary, one can rely on the electric lights themselves (See Rivevos Ephraim 2:115:32).
Similarly, R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 15:92) writes that there are some poskim who even allow using an electric light for havdala. He compares our scenario to many people lighting Shabbos candles next to each other. While everyone’s candles only add a little bit of extra light, one still performs the mitzva of lighting. Likewise, there is no need to switch off one’s electric lights when performing bedikas chametz with a candle. Based on all of this, he writes that there is no need to switch the lights off.
R’ Dovid Ortenberg (Tehilla Ledovid 298:4) writes that the language of the Shulchan Aruch (and others) implies that one doesn’t actually need to benefit from the light. One simply needs to be close enough that they could distinguish coins from each other. The Piskei Teshuvos (298:5) writes that this is why we typically recite this beracha even where there is otherwise ample light.
In conclusion, there is no need to switch the lights off during havdala before saying the beracha, meoiray haeish.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Insulating Food on Shabbos

Question: Can I wrap my pot of soup in tea-towels to keep it warm on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 34a) writes that one can only insulate food (hatmana) providing that they use a material that doesn’t emit heat and that they do so before Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 257:3) lists which substances are considered to be heat emitting, and therefore forbidden to place around one’s pot even before Shabbos. Rambam (Shabbos 4:3) explains that chazal were concerned that if one were to place their pot among the embers, they may come to stoke the coals.
Thus, one would be able to wrap a pot with tea-towels, provided they did so before Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 257:8), however, writes that while one can leave a pot on a stove on Shabbos, one would not be able to wrap it with tea-towels even before Shabbos. While the tea-towels themselves don’t emit heat, they will insulate the heat coming from the stove.
For it to be considered a prohibition of hatmana, the insulation would have to cover the whole pot. Thus, if the tea-towels were not wrapped around the actual pot but draped over a couple of pots together with some air space between them, it would not be considered hatmana. Likewise, if the pot wasn’t fully covered so that a significant part of the pot was exposed, it would not be considered hatmana. It is permitted to cover a pot in such a manner even on Shabbos.
In conclusion, while one may not cover a pot tightly with tea-towels while it is on the stove or hotplate, one may do so if it isn’t on the flame providing they did so before Shabbos. Alternately, one may place a tea-towel over the pot on Shabbos providing it didn’t properly touch all the sides or left part of it uncovered.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Silver Menora

Question: I have a nice silver menora though it takes a lot of effort to clean. Is there an advantage to using this over a cheap disposable one?
Answer: When the Bnei Yisrael sang shira after crossing the yam suf, they said “zeh eli veanvehu, this is my G-d and I will glorify Him” (Shemos 15:2). The Gemara (Sukka 11b; Nazir 2b) writes that this passuk teaches us that we should not just perform mitzvos in their most basic manner, but we should make extra effort to build a nicer sukka and spend more money on our lulav and esrog, etc. Similarly, the Gemara (Shabbos 23b) teaches that one who is particular about lighting their Shabbos candles will merit having children who will be Torah scholars. The Tur (OC 263) and Bach (OC 263:1) qualify this to those who make beautiful lights. Rashi writes that this applies equally to the Chanuka menora.
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 673:3) writes that earthenware dishes should not be reused as they are not nice when used again. The Mishna Berura (673:28) adds that one should go the extra mile to ensure that they have a beautiful menora. Likewise, the Chida (Birkei Yosef OC 673:7) and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (139:5) write that one who can afford to, should buy themselves a silver menora.
Similarly, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 673:60) writes that according to the Chessed Avraham, there are fifteen levels of how nice a menora can be. The very best is a gold menora followed by a silver one and then various other semi-precious and regular metals, followed by glass, wood, bone, and various earthenware ones, etc.
R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 8:157) notes that even though the actual oil may be placed into a small glass cup, this does not detract from the hiddur mitzva of using a silver menora.
In conclusion, it is most appropriate to use a beautiful menora rather than a cheap one. This is particularly apt on Chanuka, when we are particular to perform the mitzva of lighting the menora in the very best manner, mehadrin min hamehadrin.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Defining Liquids and Solids

Question: I know that we can heat up solid foods on Shabbos but not liquids, though am confused as to where to draw the line. Can I heat up chicken with a little bit of sauce on a hotplate?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 318:4) writes that one may heat up a davar yavesh, dry cooked item of food on Shabbos, but not a davar lach, liquid food. There is a machlokes, however, as to how dry the food needs to be to allow it to be reheated.
The Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav OC 253:13) quotes some rishonim who define the issur of bishul as a food made up mainly of liquid which will improve through further cooking. Thus, he writes if the dish is mainly solid then it is considered to be a davar yavesh.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 7:42:6; OC 9:108:169; Yechave Daas 2:45) quotes other poskim who likewise maintain that if less than half of the dish is liquid, it is still considered to be dry and may be heated on Shabbos (See Kaf Hachaim OC 253:91; Har Tzvi OC 1 Mevashel:1)
The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 318:11), Mishna Berura (318:32) and R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:30:13), however, define yavesh as having no liquid element to the dish. Thus, one wouldn’t be able to heat up any chicken or meat in a sauce, etc. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe 4:74:Bishul:7) writes that one should ideally follow this view.
Nonetheless, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach  (quoted in the Dirshu Mishna Berura 318:n37) maintains that the food doesn’t need to be totally dry, and even according to the Shulchan Aruch Harav, there would be no issue with heating up food with a little bit of thick sauce, such as ketchup.
In conclusion, one can heat up dry pieces of food, even if they have a little bit of thick sauce on them. One should avoid heating up food in gravy, however, unless absolutely necessary.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Accidental Cooking on Shabbos

Question: I took a tray out of the fridge on Shabbos morning, thinking it was schnitzel, and placed it on the hotplate though it was chicken in a sauce. Could I have served it?
Answer: There is a machlokes among the rishonim as to whether the rule ‘ein bishul achar bishul, something that has been cooked cannot be cooked again’, applies to liquids as well as solids. Rambam (Shabbos 9:3), Rashba (Shabbos 40b) and Ran (Shabbos 19a) write that it applies to liquids, too and so there would be no issur mideoraisa to reheat liquids (See Beis Yosef OC 318:4). The Shulchan Aruch (OC 318:4), however, follows Rashi (Shabbos 34a), Rabbeinu Yonah and the Rosh (Shabbos 3:11), who holds that reheating liquids is bishul (See Biur Halacha 318:4).
The Gemara (Kesubos 34a, Chullin 15a) writes that if one transgressed a melacha on Shabbos, there is a machlokes as to whether they or others can benefit from it on Shabbos or afterwards. The Gemara discusses whether this prohibition is mideoraisa or miderabanan. Rambam (Shabbos 6:23) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 318:1) follow R’ Yehuda and write that if one accidentally cooked food on Shabbos, everyone must wait until after Shabbos to eat it. The Vilna Gaon (Biur Hagra, OC 318:1), however, follows Tosafos and others who pasken like R’ Meir, who holds that may one eat such food on Shabbos.
The Mishna Berura (318:7) writes that while we should generally follow the Shulchan Aruch on this, if necessary, one can rely on the Vilna Gaon. Thus, if this was one’s main dish for their Shabbos meal, one could still serve it.
The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 318:10) and Mishna Berura (318:2) write that when there is a machlokes as to whether something is an issur or not, one doesn’t need to wait to benefit from it. Following the opinion in the Gemara that this prohibition against benefitting from forbidden melacha is miderabanan, we apply the rule of safek derabanan lekula, we are lenient in matters of Rabbinic doubt. As there are rishonim who maintain that ein bishul achar bishul’ applies equally to liquids, one who accidentally reheated a liquid would not have to wait to eat it.
In conclusion, one may serve food containing liquid that was accidentally reheated on Shabbos.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Invitations on Shabbos

Question: Can I deliver bar mitzva invitations on Shabbos to people who I only see then?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 307:1) writes that one shouldn’t make plans on Shabbos for what they are going to do after Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (307:1) explains that this prohibition only applies to actions that are otherwise forbidden on Shabbos.
As there is a machlokes as to whether one can discuss mitzva matters that involve melachos, he writes that it is best to avoid such conversation. However, there would be no issue in talking about such a mitzva if it means that they are more likely to perform it afterwards. Thus, one is allowed to pledge money to tzedaka when receiving an aliya, etc.
R’ Chaim Falagi (Lev Chaim 3:72) writes that as one gets such simcha, enjoyment, from inviting people to special occasions, one may do so on Shabbos. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 8:185:1; 8:500) quotes this but adds that one shouldn’t hand out printed invitations, however, to avoid paying the postage.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Shabbos 307:21) however, disagrees. While it is certainly ideal to distribute such invitations during the week, one may distribute invitations to a seudas mitzva on Shabbos when necessary. One must be careful not to give one to anyone who may come to carry it home outside of an eruv, however.
In conclusion, one should try one’s utmost not to distribute such invitations on Shabbos. Ideally, one should bring them to shul before Shabbos and tell friends about them for them to take home afterwards.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Children’s Tents on Shabbos

Question: My children like to create various tents and shelters by draping curtains and blankets onto furniture. Can they do this on Shabbos?
Answer:  The Gemara (Shabbos 125b) writes that it is forbidden to build a temporary ohel, tent, on Shabbos. Rambam (Shabbos 22:27) explains that building a permanent ohel is a tolda of boneh, building, and therefore assur mideoraisa. Chazal made a gezeira, decree, that one shouldn’t build a temporary ohel to prevent one from making a permanent one. Thus, the Mishna Berura (315:1) writes that one mustn’t spread out mats or sheets like a tent on Shabbos.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 315:2) writes that if the ohel existed already, then one may add to it. Thus, one may place long tablecloths over tables or add to other structures, providing the roof is at least a tefach wide.
Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 315:3) and Mishna Berura (315:17) write that one may build a temporary structure if they construct it in a backwards manner. Thus, one may hold up the roof and build the walls under it.
Likewise, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 315:4) writes that one mustn’t dismantle an ohel on Shabbos. Yet, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 24:22) writes that one may do so in a backwards manner, that is by raising the roof and dismantling the walls before lowering the roof.
In conclusion, as creating tents out of blankets on Shabbos is problematic, one needs to teach one’s children to build them in a backwards manner, or create them before Shabbos.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Lighting Shabbos Candles too Early

Question: We were going out for Friday night Dinner so I lit candles and stayed with them for a while before leaving the house. I later found out that I lit them before plag hamincha. Did that count, or does it mean that I didn’t light Shabbos candles?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 23b) writes that one should not light the Shabbos candles too early or too late. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 263:4) writes that one shouldn’t light the Shabbos candles before plag hamincha, one and a quarter halachic hours before nacht, as it wouldn’t be apparent that one is lighting them for Shabbos. The Rema adds that if the candles were lit too early, they need to be blown out and relit for Shabbos.
R’ Akiva Eiger (OC 263:4) writes that the Rema only requires relighting the candles if they weren’t lit lekavod Shabbos. While lechatchila one shouldn’t light too early, if one lit early lekavod Shabbos, they have fulfilled their obligation.
The Mishna Berura (263:20; Biur Halacha) argues that R’ Akiva Eiger’s statement applies only to one who lit after plag hamincha. If one lit before plag hamincha, they would need to relight the candles regardless of their intent.
R’ Aryeh Zvi Frommer (Eretz Zvi 1:113), however, understands that R’ Akiva Eiger is referring to lighting before plag hamincha lekavod Shabbos. Providing they lit lekavod Shabbos, one wouldn’t need to relight even if they lit before plag hamincha (See Elef Hamagen 610:7).
Similarly, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 263:19) writes that while it isn’t ideal to light before plag hamincha, if one did so, they wouldn’t need to relight later.
In conclusion, one should not ideally light their Shabbos candles before plag hamincha though if one did so, they wouldn’t need to relight them later.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Early Maariv on Motzaei Shabbos

Question: My neighbour has started a minyan for maariv in his house on Motzaei Shabbos. They begin 15 minutes before nacht. Is this ideal?
Answer: The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 9a; Yuma 81b) teaches that there is a mitzva of tosefes Shabbos, to add on a little bit of time both at the beginning and at the end of Shabbos. One should therefore endeavour to bring Shabbos in a few minutes early and not end it until a few minutes after nacht (See Mishna Berura 261:19).
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 293:1) writes that one should delay davening maariv on motzaei Shabbos in order to add some time onto Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (293:1) writes that this is the universal practice. The Rema adds that there is even a minhag to say the opening words of maariv, vehu rachum, very slowly to add on a few extra seconds.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 293:3) writes that in extenuating circumstances, such as one had a pressing mitzva matter, they can daven maariv after pelag hamincha. Nonetheless, the Magen Avraham (293:4) writes that the acharonim disapprove of this as it doesn’t look right when most people are waiting until nacht and some are davening earlier. The Mishna Berura (293:9) adds that we also need to be concerned that people may come to perform melacha before it is nacht.
In conclusion, it is important to wait until nacht to daven maariv on Motzaei Shabbos.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Standing up for a Rabbi during Davening

Question: Should we stand up for a Rav or old man who comes into our shul while we are davening?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (YD 244:1) writes that there is a mitzva mideoraisa to stand for a talmid chacham or anyone over seventy. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 3:70) writes that if one isn’t sure if one is seventy yet, they need to stand regardless, following the rule of safek deoraisa lechumra, that we are strict with regards to doubts of Torah laws.
The Shulchan Aruch (YD 244:11) writes that if a talmid chacham walks in while one is learning, one should interrupt their learning to stand up for them. The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 244:7) explains that this is no different to other mitzvos which one is supposed to interrupt their learning for.
The Mishna (2:1) and Shulchan Aruch (OC 66:1) discuss when one can interrupt during shema and its surrounding berachos for important reasons. The Magen Avraham (66:1) and Mishna Berura (66:2) write however, that this doesn’t really apply nowadays, and we don’t interrupt the shema to speak to anybody.
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 14:10), however, writes that the reason that one who is learning should stand is because one should be able to do so without properly interrupting their learning. Nonetheless, he writes that while one should stand during their davening, one shouldn’t if they are reciting the shema.
Nonetheless, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 4:22) writes that one should stand even while saying the shema especially as it is unlikely that it will stop one’s concentration (See Shevet Halevi 6:146:4). Similarly, the Ben Ish Chai (Ki Seitzei 2:15) writes that as honouring a talmid chacham is essentially honouring Hashem, one should stand even in the middle of the shema.
In conclusion, one must stand up when a Rav or elderly person passes them even if one is davening and even while saying the shema providing it won’t disturb them.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Forgot to Wait after Meat

Question: I forgot that I was still meaty and accidentally said a beracha on a cup of tea. What should I have done?
Answer: The Gemara (Chullin 105a) writes that after eating meat, Mar Ukva would wait until the next meal before eating milky food. There is a machlokes however, as to how long this wait is.
Rambam (Maachalos Asuros 9:28) and the Shulchan Aruch (YD 89:1) writes that one must wait six hours after eating meat before eating cheese while the Rema writes that one only has to wait one hour, wash their hands and rinse their mouth first. While the Dutch community typically waits one hour and many wait three, the Taz (YD 89:2) notes that the main minhag is to wait six hours.
The Gemara (Berachos 33a) writes that we learn from a passuk not to say a beracha levatala. According to Rambam (Berachos 1:15) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 215:4), it is forbidden mideoraisa while Tosafos (Rosh Hashana 33a) holds that it is forbidden miderabanan (See Mishna Berura 215:20).
R’ Moshe Stern (Baer Moshe 4:24) and R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:389) thus write that providing one had finished their meal and it had been an hour since they ate meat, one who accidentally recited a beracha on milky food should taste the food rather than say a beracha levatala.
While R’ Sternbuch writes that this doesn’t necessarily apply to sefardim who follow Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 2:5; Yechave Daas 4:41) writes it is still preferable to taste the food. While there is a machlokes as to how long to wait after meat, all agree that it is forbidden to say a beracha levatala.
In conclusion, providing one is no longer in the middle of their meaty meal and at least an hour as elapsed since they had meat, one who accidentally recites a beracha over milky food should taste a little bit of the food rather than say a beracha levatala.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Children getting Aliyos on Simchas Torah

Question: At what age should our son get his own aliya on Simchas Torah?
Answer: The Rema (OC 669:1) writes that on Simchas Torah we add on extra aliyos, reading the same parsha a few times. The Mishna Berura (669:12) explains that we want to give everybody an opportunity to participate in the simcha of the Torah. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Sukkos 12:15) adds that when everyone receives their aliya they get to recite the beracha, ‘asher bachar banu.. venosan lanu es toraso, Who chose us.. and gave us His Torah’ (See Rivevos Ephraim 2:176)
While the Mishna Berura (282:12) writes that we shouldn’t call up a child under bar mitzva for an aliya during the year, the Rema writes that on Simchas Torah we are accustomed to give all the children a joint aliya. The Mishna Berura (669:13) explains that this serves to train them in the mitzva of reading from the Torah. According to the Shaarei Ephraim (8:57) this is also to give them a love for the Torah.
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 669:4) writes that every child gets their own aliya and if the child is unable to read the beracha by themselves then the baal korei should assist them. While different shuls have different customs, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Sukkos 12:n20) writes that we should only give aliyos to children when they are at least nine years old and mature enough to follow along properly. The Shaarei Ephraim (ibid.) suggests that even children as young as six or seven can receive an aliya.
In conclusion, younger children should be brought in to shul for their joint kol hanearim aliya. Older children who can read the berachos and can follow along should be given their own aliya, depending on the shul’s custom.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Rain on Sukkos

Question: What is the procedure for leaving the sukka if it rains?
Answer: The Mishna (Sukka 2:9) teaches us that if it rains enough to ruin one’s food then one may leave their sukka. While the Mishna writes that it is a bad sign if one has to leave due to rain, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 639:20) writes that this specifically applies in Eretz Yisrael, but not in places where it is likely to rain. The Rema (OC 639:7) and Aruch Hashulchan write that one who stays in the sukka when they’re exempt is considered to be unrefined (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:304).
Nonetheless, the Rema (OC 639:5) writes that this halacha doesn’t apply on the first night, as if it is raining then, one must still make kiddush and eat a kezayis of bread in the sukka. According to the Mateh Ephraim (625:51), one should ideally eat a kebeitza.
While one who is mitztaer (uncomfortable) is usually exempt from eating in the sukka, the Mishna Berura (639:35) explains that according to the Rema, this exemption doesn’t apply on the first night. Then, one is obligated to eat in the sukka even if they are somewhat uncomfortable, just like matza on seder night. As there are those who disagree with the Rema and hold that one who is mitztaer is exempt even on the first night, they shouldn’t recite leishev basukka so long as it is raining. One should, therefore, wait until the rain stops to fulfil this mitzva properly according to both views.
While the Magen Avraham (OC 639:15) writes that one should wait until chatzos for the rain to clear up if necessary, the Mishna Berura quotes the Shaarei Teshuva who writes that this is unnecessary, especially as having to wait so long can ruin one’s simchas Yom Tov. Rather, one should wait an hour or so, depending on whether one has young children or guests, etc.
The Magen Avraham writes that if it is raining on the second night, one can start the meal inside their house without having to wait for the rain to clear. One should eat a kezayis of bread in the sukka at the end of their meal, however. If it has stopped raining by then, then one should say the beracha, leishev basukka (See Shaar Hatziyun 639:73).
In conclusion, if it is raining on the first night of Sukkos, one should wait before starting their meal. How long they wait will depend on their circumstances, though they shouldn’t wait so long that it will ruin their simchas Yom Tov. When it is too late to wait any longer, they should recite kiddush and eat a kezayis of bread in the sukka without saying leishev, before closing the roof or going inside to continue the meal. If it does stop raining before chatzos, one should go back into the sukka to eat another kezayis of bread and say leishev, washing again if necessary.
If it rains throughout any other meal over sukkos then one should close the roof or go inside.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Pills to Help One Fast

Question: Can I take pills on erev Yom Kippur to help me fast more easily?
Answer:  The Gemara (Berachos 8a; Yoma 81b) writes that there is a mitzva to eat on erev Yom Kippur. According to Rashi, we do so to properly prepare for the fast on the following day (See Rashi, Rosh Hashana 9a).
The Sdei Chemed (Yom Kippur 1:18) writes that one mustn’t purposely continue eating until the fast begins as this will prevent one from feeling that they’re fasting on Yom Kippur. R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 7:32:4), R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 2:66:4; 7:82) and R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 9:54), however, challenge this, writing that we are not supposed to actively do anything to oppress ourselves on Yom Kippur. If we are supposed to eat and drink more before Yom Kippur, then we are allowed to plan our eating in this way. Thus, these poskim write that one may take slow release energy capsules before Yom Kippur (See Rivevos Ephraim 3:413:2). While R’ Ovadia Yosef writes that one should only take such pills if they really struggle to fast, other poskim allow everyone to take them.
Similarly, R’ Mordechai Yaakov Breish (Chelkas Yaakov OC:216) argues that taking such a pill is no different to eating well before Yom Kippur and deciding to eat again before the fast starts in order to curb their hunger pangs later. He adds, however, that it is important to ensure that the ingredients are all kosher. Only one who was ill would be allowed to take non-kosher medicine.
In conclusion, while some sefardim may avoid taking them unless they struggle to fast, the consensus is to allow taking such pills before the fast.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Group Hataras Nedarim

Question: Last year, I joined a new shul where they do many things differently to what I am used to. I have always done hataras nedarim by myself, though in this shul people do it together. Is this okay?
Answer: The Gemara (Nedarim 23b) writes that if one doesn’t want their nedarim, vows, to endure throughout the year, they should proclaim on Rosh Hashana that they wish them to be annulled. According to the Ran (Nedarim 23b), this is the source for saying kol nidrei on Yom Kippur.
According to the Mishna Berura (619:2), kol nidrei does not automatically annul all vows, however. Likewise, the Shaarei Teshuva (581:1) quotes various poskim explaining why one should specifically perform hataras nedarim on erev Rosh Hashana, while it is still Elul (See Kaf Hachaim OC 581:12; 19; Minchas Yitzchak 9:61). The Chayei Adam (138:8) stresses the importance of performing hataras nedarim at this time, writing that people erroneously view it as another prayer. Rather, people should study the halachos of nedarim, and say it in their own language if necessary so that they understand the process.
The Rema (YD 228:2) and Shulchan Aruch (YD 228:46) write that one may annul multiple vows simultaneously and annul a few people’s nedarim together, though they should use the plural refrain ‘mutarim lachem, it is permitted for you’.
While the Mateh Ephraim (581:49) writes that this should only be relied on under extenuating circumstances, the Ben Ish Chai (Re’eh 2:25) implies that it ideal for people to do it together.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 8:533), notes, however, that if the three dayanim don’t use the plural refrain, then it is ineffective.
In conclusion, while there is a preference to do hataras nedarim by oneself, there is a precedent for shuls to do it in groups to ensure that everyone stays to do it.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Early Selichos

Question: I have always found it difficult to get up extra early for selichos before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur though have read that they should not be recited after maariv. What should I do?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 581:1) writes that one should say selichos at the break of dawn. The Magen Avraham (565:5; 581:1) and Mishna Berura (565:12) write that the end of the night is an auspicious time for selichos. Thus one should not recite selichos before chatzos, midnight, for Kabbalistic reasons.

R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 1:46) quotes the Chida (Birkei Yosef OC 581:1) who explains that this time is one of din¸ judgement, rather than rachamim, mercy. This is so important, that if one is present when others are saying selichos at this time, they should not participate. According to the Chida (ibid.) it would be better not to say selichos at all than to say it at this time of night (See Mateh Ephraim 581:20; Rav Pealim OC 2:2). While there are poskim who write that we follow the timing of chatzos in Yerushalayim which would allow those West of Eretz Yisrael to say selichos earlier, R’ Ovadia says that we follow other poskim who disagree with this.

Nonetheless, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 581:4) notes that nowadays it is common for people not to recite selichos until much later when it is already properly light outside.

R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:105) acknowledges that the ideal time to recite selichos is after chatzos though writes that there is no mention of this throughout the Gemara. Thus, one who will not be able to recite selichos early in the morning may do so at night, though should preferably do so after the 10th halachic hour or 2 hours before chatzos, as the Shulchan Aruch (OC 1:2) writes that this is also an auspicious time (See Mishmeres Shalom 41:4).

In conclusion, the ideal time to recite selichos is between dawn and shacharis. While Sefardim should avoid reciting selichos early at night, Ashkenazim who find it too difficult to do so may do so, ideally after the 10th halachic hour.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

When to Affix Mezuzos on New House

Question: We recently bought a house though we won’t be moving in for a couple of months while we renovate and furnish it. When should we affix our mezuzos?
Answer:  The Beraisa (Maseches Mezuza 2:11) teaches that one is obligated to affix a mezuza on a new house as soon as it is completed. There is much discussion, however, as to whether this refers to owning the house, furnishing it or actually living in it (See Shevet Halevi 6:161).
R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:544; 4:440) writes that one is only obligated to affix one’s mezuzos when the house is fit to be lived in. So long as the house is unfurnished, it isn’t considered to be habitable and so exempt from mezuzos. He quotes R’ Akiva Eiger (Teshuvos R’ Akiva Eiger 141:9) who questions whether one who leaves his house for a few weeks, leaving it uninhabited, should recite the beracha over one’s mezuzos upon their return. R’ Yehoshua Leib Diskin challenges this as so long as the house has remained furnished, it is habitable and so requires mezuzos. Thus, R’ Sternbuch writes that one is obligated to affix mezuzos as soon as one furnishes one’s house with beds, chairs and tables.
The Mishna Berura (19:4) writes that one should affix one’s mezuzos just before they move in comparing it to the beracha that one says before donning their tallis. Likewise, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 19:2; YD 289:3) writes that one can say the beracha even before moving in as they intend on moving in.
In conclusion, one who buys a new house should not affix their mezuzos until they have furnished it. While most people wait until they move in to affix their mezuzos, it is appropriate to do so from when it is furnished.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Mezuzos on a Rented House

Question: We have just signed a year’s lease on a new flat. When should we affix our mezuzos?
Answer: The Gemara (Menachos 44a) writes that while one who rents in Eretz Yisrael must affix a mezuza immediately upon moving in, one who rents a home in chutz la’aretz isn’t obligated to affix a mezuza for the first thirty days. Thus, one renting a holiday home in chutz la’aretz for a week or two has no obligation to affix a mezuza.
Following this, there is a machlokes as to whether one renting a home for over a month in chutz la’aretz should wait until the thirtieth day to affix their mezuzos or should do so immediately.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 1:179) quotes the Pischei Teshuvah (YD 286:17) who writes that one may say the beracha earlier while the Nachlas Zvi (YD 286:22) wonders whether it is ideal to wait until the thirtieth day. Thus, R’ Moshe writes that one should fix a mezuza straight away but not recite the beracha until the thirtieth day.
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 2:82) quotes the Derech Hachaim and Harei Besamim (2:219) who write that in this case the obligation begins immediately and one may affix a mezuza with a beracha when one moves in.
Likewise, the Aruch Hashulchan (YD 286:49) writes that while one isn’t obligated to affix a mezuza if one is staying there for less than thirty days, if one is renting a place for longer, their obligation to affix a mezuza begins immediately. R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:644) adds that contracts nowadays are legally binding making the lease more permanent than in the past. Thus, one must affix their mezuzos immediately.
In conclusion, one who signs a tenancy agreement for more than a month should ideally affix their mezuzos when they move in.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Removing Mezuzos when Moving Home

Question: We have just bought a house and are leaving our rented one. As our ‘old house’ is going to remain empty for a few weeks until the next (Jewish) tenants move in, can we remove our mezuzos?
Answer: The Gemara (Bava Metzia 102a) writes that one renting a house from a Jewish person shouldn’t remove their mezuzos upon leaving (See Rambam, Mezuza 5:11; Shulchan Aruch YD 291:2). Tosafos (Shabbos 22a) explains that aside from serving to remind us of Hashem, mezuzos also protect the house from harm. The Tur (YD 285:2) stresses, however, that this isn’t the reason for this mitzva and one shouldn’t affix one’s mezuzos with this in mind (See Aruch Hashulchan YD 285:3).
The Rema (YD 291:2) points out that the old tenant can charge the new tenant or owner for their mezuzos. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 3:18) writes, therefore, that even if one knows that the new tenant will be affixing their own mezuzos, the old ones must stay up until they affix their new ones. One who has expensive mezuzos and is concerned that they won’t be paid for them properly may remove them to have them checked and replace them with cheaper ones.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 4:44) quotes R’ Yosef Eliyahu Henkin who held that if the house is going to anyway be repainted and one will remove them to protect them, then one can take them with to affix in their new home (See Aruch Hashulchan YD 291:3).
In conclusion, it is important that one doesn’t remove one’s mezuzos upon leaving one’s house if another Jewish person is moving in. If the house is going to be repainted in the meantime and they will need to be removed, one may take them with them for their new home if necessary.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Shelling Nuts and Peas on Shabbos

Question: Can we crack open nuts and remove peas from pods on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Beitza 13b) writes that one mustn’t roll grain between one’s fingers to remove its chaff on Shabbos. Such extraction, mefarek, is a tolda of the melacha of dosh, threshing. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 319:6), writes, therefore, that if one wants to eat the grain, one would have to remove the chaff with a shinui such as using one’s fingertips. The Magen Avraham (OC 319:8) and Mishna Berura (319:21) add that this prohibition only applies when the pod or shell is inedible.
There is a machlokes, however, as to what exactly mefarek applies to. According to the Taz (OC 319:4), it only applies when the food is attached to its outside shell such as peas in a pod while the Maharil (quoted in Elya Rabba 319:11) and Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham, Introduction to 320) write that it applies specifically to loose food, unattached to its shell like peanuts. Following this, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 1:81) forbids shelling peanuts on Shabbos.
R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 3:32) follows the Taz, however, and writes that one may shell peanuts right before one wants to eat them. Likewise, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Elizer 10:24) writes that when it is normal for food to be removed right before it is eaten, there is no prohibition in removing its shell, especially when it’s a hard shell. He was critical of another Rabbi who wanted to prevent shelling peanuts on Shabbos. Thus, pistachio and sunflower seeds, etc. may be opened and eaten on Shabbos (See Mishna Berura 319:24; Igros Moshe OC 1:125).
In conclusion, one may shell loose nuts on Shabbos. Peas may only be removed normally if their pods are edible. Otherwise, they must be removed with a shinui.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Maaser from Gifts

Question: Does one need to take maaser from presents?
Answer: Tosafos (Taanis 9a) quotes the Sifri (Devarim 14:22) who writes that the mitzva of maaser, tithing one’s crops, applies equally to other forms of income. While this statement isn’t in our editions of Sifri, R’ Baruch Epstein (Torah Temima, Devarim 14:22) explains that this is one of many examples of statements of Sifri that the rishonim saw but are now lost to us.
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 249:1) writes that one should give between 10% and 20% of one’s earnings to help the poor. The Taz (YD 331:32) adds that this applies equally to wedding gifts that one receives, even from one’s own parents (See Rabbeinu Yona, Sefer Hayira 213).
While this applies to money gifts, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 5:133:7) writes that if one inherited a property or if one’s parents paid towards buying them a flat, one wouldn’t need to give maaser.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 2:112) and R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:282) write that one may stipulate when giving a gift that it should be used for a specific purpose. Thus, one supporting their children could stipulate that they shouldn’t give maaser from the money they were giving.
In conclusion, one should give maaser from any money that one earns, including as gifts, unless it was given for a specific purpose.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Delayed Tisha B’av

Question: When Tisha B’av falls on Shabbos and so is observed on Sunday, are the restrictions lifted earlier? Can I shower, shave and listen to music on Sunday night?
Answer: The Gemara (Taanis 29a) writes that the Beis Hamikdash continued burning throughout the tenth of Av. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 558:1) writes that one mustn’t eat meat or drink wine on the tenth either. The Rema, however, limits this until chatzos, noon, of the tenth of Av. The Mishna Berura (558:2) writes that this applies to the other restrictions of the nine days, too, including laundry, haircuts and bathing.
The Rema (OC 558:1) writes that when Tisha B’av is observed on the tenth of Av due to Shabbos, however, one should still refrain from meat and wine until Monday morning. The Mishna Berura (558:4) notes that the other restrictions such as haircuts are permitted that night, though. Thus, the Shaarei Teshuva (558:4) writes that those who are accustomed to avoid haircuts that night are mistaken.
While the Mishna Berura writes that one would normally have to wait until chatzos of the following day to hear music, he writes (Shaar Hatziyun 558:4) that one may be lenient when Tisha B’av is observed on the tenth and one may listen to music that night at a pre-wedding dinner (See Nitei Gavriel, Bein Hametzarim 96:15).
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 62:49) adds that when Tisha B’av is postponed, one may say shehecheyanu on new fruits on Sunday night. While he notes that R’ Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky (Luach Eretz Yisrael) forbids one to have a haircut or shave that night, he disagrees, writing that there is no source for this.
In conclusion, when Tisha B’av is postponed due to Shabbos, one may shower, shave, wash clothes and listen to music, etc. on Sunday night, though one should not eat meat or drink wine unless it is at a seudas mitzva.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Accidental Beracha on Meat During the Nine Days

Question: I forgot that it was the nine days and I prepared some meaty food for myself. I only remembered once I had said the beracha. What should I have done?
Answer: The Gemara (Taanis 26b) forbids eating meat and drinking wine at the seuda hamafsekes, though many rishonim record the minhag to abstain throughout this time period. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:9) writes that there are various minhagim as to exactly when this applies. Some just refrain throughout the week of Tisha B’av, others from Rosh Chodesh Av while others refrain throughout the entire three weeks. The Mishna Berura (551:58) writes that the ashkenazi minhag is to refrain from meat and wine during the nine days.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 551:23) explains that this minhag serves to remind us of the korbanos that we can no longer offer up since the churban (See Tur OC 552:2; Biur Hagra OC 551:11). While it is a minhag, he notes that it is observed universally and so one who eats meat has broken a communal vow which is a Torah prohibition (See Mordechai, Taanis 639).
On the other hand, the Gemara (Berachos 33a) writes that one who recites an unnecessary beracha has transgressed the Torah prohibition of lo sisa.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 2:5:11) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:378) quote the Sdei Chemed (Bein Hametzarim 1:5) who writes that if one accidentally recited the beracha on meat they should take a small bite. Doing so ensures that one hasn’t said a beracha levatala, and being so small ensures that one does not receive any simcha, especially as they are primarily doing so to avoid saying a beracha levatala.
In conclusion, if one accidentally said a beracha on meat during the nine days they should eat a tiny piece.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Music Lessons During the Three Weeks

Question: Can my children continue their music lessons throughout the three weeks?
Answer: The Mishna Berura (551:16) writes that one mustn’t listen to music during the three weeks between Shiva Asar B’tammuz and Tisha B’av (See Minchas Yitzchak 1:111:4).
The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 551:10) writes that musicians who are employed by non-Jews may play during this time. He compares it to working on chol hamoed, which while normally forbidden, is permitted for one who would otherwise lose substantially as a result (davar ha’avud). The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 551:2) explains that this only applies until Rosh Chodesh Av. One cannot, though, play music even for work purposes during the nine days (See Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 122:2).
Other poskim are more lenient. R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 16:19) quotes the Kaf Hachaim (OC 551:39) who allows employed musicians to continue playing up until Rosh Chodesh. He continues writing (ibid. 41) that one who does teach music during this time should teach sad songs rather than jolly tunes that bring happiness. R’ Waldenberg explains, however, that this restriction is referring to one who is employed to play even during the week of Tisha B’av.
Likewise, R’ Betzalel Stern (Betzel Hachachma 6:61) writes that one may play music if they are employed to do so even during the nine days. Similarly, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:155:2; 6:291:1) writes that as one doesn’t get such enjoyment out of learning or teaching music, one may continue to do so during the three weeks (See Igros Moshe OC 3:87).
In conclusion, one may continue music lessons up until Rosh Chodesh Av. One who needs to continue teaching for their livelihood or learn for an upcoming exam may continue playing even during the nine days but should try to play more sad songs where possible.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Baruch Sheptarani for Girls

Question: I was once at a shul where someone said baruch sheptarani for his daughter’s bas mitzva. Should I say it for my daughter’s bas mitzva?
Answer: The Rema (OC 225:2) writes that when one’s son becomes bar mitzva, his father recites baruch sheptarani meonsho shel zeh, (Blessed is He who exempted me from this one’s punishment). The Magen Avraham (OC 225:5) and Mishna Berura (225:7) explain that as the father is obligated to educate his son, he is responsible for his son’s misdeeds, too. The son is responsible for himself upon turning bar mitzva. Thus, his father recites this beracha upon being released from this obligation.
As the obligation to educate one’s sons in learning Torah does not apply equally to girls (Nazir 29a), the Pri Megadim (Eishel Avraham 225:5) writes that this is one of the reasons why parents don’t say baruch sheptarani on their daughter’s bas mitzva. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 225:15) adds that as girls typically stay at home and are supported by their parents until they marry, their parents are more likely to continue educating them even after their bas mitzva.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:97) writes that while there is an equal simcha with one’s daughter becoming bas mitzva as there is for one’s son turning bar mitzva, the change in a girl’s status is not as obvious as a boy who is now included in a minyan, etc. In the last teshuva that R’ Moshe wrote (ibid. OC 5:14), he adds that this beracha is specifically said when a bar mitzva boy gets his aliya (See Rivevos Ephraim 4:44:40; 5:464:2; 7:59; 7:71).
The Magen Avraham, however, quotes the Levush (OC 225) who writes that the reason for this beracha is because the father is relieved that his adult son will no longer be punished as a result of his father’s misdeeds. Accordingly, some suggest that the bar mitzva boy says this beracha rather than his father. R’ Baruch Epstein (Baruch Sheamar, Tefilla p189) questions whether according to this, girls should say it, too.
Likewise, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 6:29) argues that while girls don’t have all the same obligations as boys, their parents are still required to educate them. According to this Levush, one would recite this beracha on one’s daughter’s bas mitzva, too.
In conclusion, while some sefardim say baruch sheptarani on their daughter’s bas mitzva, it isn’t said in ashkenazi shuls.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Mezuza Fell on Shabbos

Question: Our mezuza fell out of its case on Shabbos. Should we have picked it up and replaced it?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:4) writes that one is allowed to move kisvei kodesh, holy writings, on Shabbos, though the Rema adds that tefillin are muktze. The Magen Avraham (OC 308:11), however, writes that one may move tefillin to protect them if they are in the way (gufo umekomo). While tefillin are expensive and have a very specific purpose, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 20:n32) explains that they are categorized as muktze machmas issur (items with a prohibited use) rather than muktze machmas chisaron kis (valuable items which cannot be moved even for such reasons).
The Magen Avraham (OC 308:19) and Mishna Berura (308:35) write that a door that fell off is muktze. R’ Neuwirth quotes R’ Shmuel Burstein (Minchas Shabbos 88:38) who compares this to a mezuza that fell, and writes, therefore, that one mustn’t move it unless it is in a place where it may be trampled on, etc.
R’ Moshe Stern (Baer Moshe 8:72) however, disagrees, writing that mezuzos are not muktze. The Mishna Berura (307:63) allows one to read a get on Shabbos as one can learn from it. Likewise, mezuzos are not muktze and may be handled on Shabbos as one can read the shema and learn from them.
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 13:53) quotes the Sedei Chemed (4:115) who writes that there is a machlokes as to whether one can even return a mezuza that fell on Shabbos to its case as there are poskim that hold that one mustn’t live in a house without a mezuza. Similar to tovelling a new dish on Shabbos, replacing the mezuza is a form of tikkun kli, fixing something, and therefore prohibited.
R’ Waldenberg and R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 4:143) write, however, that there is no issue in replacing the mezuza in such a manner. One msutn’t, however, reattach a mezuza with a nail on Shabbos as this is akin to boneh, building (Rivevos Ephraim 2:29:10).
In conclusion, while one can’t affix a mezuza case on Shabbos, one may replace a mezuza that fell out of its case.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Fixed Place for Davening

Question: How important is it to sit in the same seat in shul? If someone takes my place should I ask them to move?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 6b) writes that there are special praises and rewards for one who establishes a fixed place for their tefilla. Rabbeinu Yonah (Berachos 3b) explains that this refers to davening in the same shul, though if one has to daven at home, they should do so in a designated place. The Rosh (Berachos 1:7) and Shulchan Aruch (OC 9:19), however, disagree, writing that one must have a designated seat within their shul.
Some poskim follow both these rishonim. Hence, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 90:23) writes that one should have both a designated spot in shul as well as at home if they sometimes daven there.
Nonetheless, the Magen Avraham (OC 90:34) and Mishna Berura (90:60) extend this to davening within four amos of one’s seat.
If one has an important reason to move, however, one may do so. Thus, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 90:118) writes that if one is being disturbed by others, they should move seats.
Accordingly, if one find’s another person in their seat, they should sit elsewhere rather than bother them, ideally within four amos of their regular seat.
In conclusion, it is important that one davens in the same shul regularly and one should try, where possible, to daven in the same seat, though not at another’s expense.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Carrying in Hospitals

Question: Our local hospital is outside our eruv. Can I carry food from the Shabbos room to a patient in a ward?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 370:4) writes that neighbours whose houses back onto a shared courtyard where they eat together do not require an eruv as they are considered to be like one family.
In the previous seif, the Shulchan Aruch writes that a boarder does not need to make an eruv with their host even if they sleep on a separate floor. As they use the house for functions other than sleeping, it is all considered to be one house for purposes of eruvin.
R’ Nosson Gestetner (Lehoros Nosson 5:29) compares this to a hospital where patients receive their food, bedding and medication from the hospital. Unlike a hotel where guests rent a specific room, the hospital reserves the right to move patients around from one ward to another as they deem fit (See Biur Halacha 370). Thus, R’ Avraham Borenstein (Avnei Nezer 3:380) writes that patients are not considered to be renting their own space, thus obviating the need for an eruv. Likewise, they would not be obligated to affix a mezuza even if they were there for over thirty days.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 370:2) writes that if a landlord rents out various rooms that contain valuable furniture, then the residents are considered to be the landlord’s guests and so would not need an eruv to carry to a shared courtyard. As hospitals keep valuable equipment in each room which only their madical staff can use R’ Gestetner writes that this, too, means that this space does not belong to the patient.
In conclusion, one may carry indoors within a hospital’s building on Shabbos.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Shabbos Staff

Question: I had a lot of friends and family join us for lunch and I asked my regular cleaning helper to come on Shabbos to help me clean up afterwards. Was it okay for her to have used the dishwasher?
Answer: The Mishna (Shabbos 121a) teaches that one mustn’t ask a non-Jewish person to perform melacha on their behalf on Shabbos. While the Levush (OC 243:1) and Elya Rabba (243:1) write that this prohibition, amira leakum, is mideoraisa, the consensus of poskim (Beis Yosef OC 244; Mishna Berura 243:5) is that it is miderabanan (See Gemara Gittin 8b).
The Taz (OC 276:5) writes that one may instruct a non-Jewish person to wash dishes on Friday night even though they will have to switch the light on to do so. As they are doing so for themselves, that isn’t considered to be amira leakum (See Mishna Berura 276:27). R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 30:23) explains that while one may ask them to do something that inevitably means they will be doing a melacha, that only applies if one isn’t going to benefit directly from this melacha. Thus, one may ask them to wash the dishes even though they will switch the hot water on, though one shouldn’t do so if they’re planning on washing up with them and using that water. If they choose to use the dishwasher, they may do so, too.
The Rema (OC 252:5) writes that one mustn’t have machinery operate on Shabbos if it creates a noise (avsha milsa). While some argue that one mustn’t have a dishwasher running in one’s house because of avsha milsa (See Shulchan Shlomo 252:14), R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:70:6) writes that one may set an alarm clock for Shabbos providing it can’t be heard outside of the room. As modern dishwashers are typically very quiet when they run, it would seem that even according to these poskim¸ they would pose no such problem.
In conclusion, one may ask a non-Jewish person to wash the dishes, even if one knows that they will most probably do so by performing a melacha, providing that they don’t ask them directly to perform it in that manner.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Washing Clothes on Friday

Question: Is one allowed to wash clothes on Friday?
Answer: The Gemara (Bava Kama 82a) writes that one of Ezra’s ten decrees was that one should wash their clothes on Thursday in honour of Shabbos (See Shulchan Aruch OC 242:1). The Magen Avraham (OC 242:3) explains that the reason is that people should not be preoccupied with their laundry while they’re supposed to be otherwise getting ready for Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (242:5; Shaar Hatziyun 242:16) quotes the Elya Rabba (242:9), who writes that the main reason is to ensure that nothing prevents one from having clean clothes for Shabbos.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 42:n13) questions whether this decree still applies nowadays when we wash our clothes in washing machines. He quotes R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, however, who held that since we typically wash our clothes for the following day, it is ideal to do our laundry on Thursday as that best demonstrates that we are washing for Shabbos.
R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:16:1) writes that while Ezra’s decree still applies, one can wash their clothes on Friday if they have a dryer that can dry their clothes before Shabbos. He adds that this decree never applied to young children’s clothes.
The Ben Ish Chai (Lech Lecha 2:8) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 242:20) write that if one didn’t manage to wash their clothes beforehand, they may still do so on Friday.
In conclusion, it is ideal for one to wash one’s clothes earlier during the week, though one may do so on Friday if necessary, especially if one is going to wash and dry them before Shabbos.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Defrosting for Next Day Yom Tov

Question: Can I remove food from the freezer on the first day Yom Tov so that it can defrost in time for the second day?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 503:1) writes that one mustn’t prepare on Shabbos or Yom Tov for the following day, even if that day is Shabbos or Yom Tov. Thus, one mustn’t wash dishes on Shabbos or Yom Tov that won’t be used that day (ibid. 323:6).
The Mishna Berura (667:5) writes that this issur even applies to preparing for mitzva purposes, such as rolling a sefer torah for the next day’s leining.
The Mishna Berura (ibid.) quotes the Chayei Adam (153:6) who allows one to bring water or wine from a storeroom during the daytime while it’s still light for the following night. One should do it earlier in the day, however, to not make it too obvious to others that one is doing so for the following day. The Chayei Adam, writes, however, that this specifically applies to something needed for a mitzva such as a Yom Tov meal.
Similarly, the Magen Avraham (OC 500:13) and Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 500:20) write that one may soak raw meat on Yom Tov on the third day of it being shechted so that it can be properly salted afterwards. If one leaves the meat, it will be too late to wash it. Unlike washing dishes for the following day which is prohibited as one is actively performing something, soaking meat does not involve any substantial action.
Based on this, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt and R’ Gavriel Zinner (Rivevos Ephraim 3:268; 4:248) write that one may remove frozen food from the freezer, writing that moving the food does not constitute an action of hachana (See Machazeh Eliyahu 1:64:35).
While R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 10:10; n27) writes that one mustn’t remove food from the freezer on Shabbos or Yom Tov for the following day, he writes that R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach deliberated whether this is similar to washing dishes or not.
In conclusion, one may remove food from one’s freezer on Shabbos or Yom Tov, especially for another Shabbos or Yom Tov meal, though one should do so in an inconspicuous manner.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sprinklers on Shabbos

Question: We just planted new grass and need to water it every day. Are we allowed to place a sprinkler on a timer so that it waters the grass on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Moed Katan 2b) writes that there is a machlokes as to whether one who waters plants on Shabbos transgresses the melacha of choresh, plowing, or zorea, planting. Rambam (Shabbos 8:2) writes that it is considered zorea. Thus, one mustn’t turn on a sprinkler on Shabbos.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 252:5) writes that one is allowed to open a flow of water before Shabbos that will run onto a garden on Shabbos (See Shabbos 18a). The Rema adds that if the action creates a noticeable sound (avsha milsa), such as a flour mill, then it must not operate on Shabbos.
While the sprinkler may be seen, the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 265:8) notes that chazal were not concerned that people will jump to the wrong conclusions and think that such melachos may be operated on Shabbos.
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 4:31; 5:6:3) writes that one may set one’s sprinkler to run on Shabbos, comparing this to switching lights on before Shabbos. While they can clearly be seen, avsha milsa only applies to sound. While one can also switch the taps off, he quotes the Chazon Ish who writes that one must be careful when doing so if there is more than one sprinkler to ensure that they don’t cause the water pressure to increase in the other, thereby causing extra watering. Thus, one must switch it off at the main tap (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 8:228).
Nonetheless, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Shabbos 252:2) and R’ Zvi Pesach Frank (Tzitz Eliezer 5:6:3) write that this isn’t such a concern.
In conclusion, one may place sprinklers on a timer to water one’s lawn on Shabbos, and switch the taps off as necessary.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Using a Peeler on Shabbos

Question: Can I use a potato peeler to peel fruits and vegetables on Shabbos?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 319:1) lists three conditions for allowing one to select an item from a mixture on Shabbos so as not to transgress the melacha of borer. One must select the ochel, wanted item, from the pesoles, unwanted item, use one’s hand rather than an implement, and it must be for immediate use. While peeling requires one to remove the pesoles from the ochel, the Rema (OC 321:19) writes that one may peel garlic and onions on Shabbos providing it is for immediate use. The Biur Halacha (321) explains that this is permitted because it is the normal way of eating such food.
The Magen Avraham (OC 321:30) extends this halacha to peeling apples. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:124) notes that as it isn’t feasible to peel an apple without a knife, doing so is considered as an extension of one’s hand, rather than considered to be using a special implement.
The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 321:30) challenges the Magen Avraham asking why one can’t peel apples even for later, writing that as both are edible, peeling an apple would be like cutting it in half (See Rivevos Ephraim 8:118:8). Thus, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 319:22) writes that peeling does not constitute borer and thus allow one to use a peeler on Shabbos. Likewise, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 321:141) allows one to peel apples for later as the peels are edible.
Nonetheless, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74 Borer 8) writes that the Mishna Berura (321:84) seems to side with the Magen Avraham, and while apple peels may be edible, if one is discarding them, then they are considered to be pesoles. As the peeler acts as a kli for borer, one cannot use it on Shabbos (See Machazeh Eliyahu 1:51).
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 3:30) differentiates between edible and inedible peels. When the peel is considered to be edible, then the peeler can be used as it is like a knife that cuts two pieces. It may not be used to remove inedible peels, however, as it is considered to be a kli for borer.
In conclusion, one may not use a peeler for inedible peels on Shabbos. While some poskim allow one to use one to peel edible peels, one should ideally only do so if one isn’t going to discard the peels.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Matza on Pesach Sheni

Question: I have heard that some people eat matza on pesach sheni. Should I do so?
Answer: Rambam (Korban Pesach 5:1) writes that anyone who didn’t manage to bring the korban pesach on Pesach either because they were tamei or because they were too far away from the beis hamikdash could do so on the 14th of Iyar.
While this doesn’t apply nowadays, R’ Yaakov Emden (Siddur Beis Yaakov, Shaar Hayesod 21) writes that there is a minhag to eat matza on pesach sheni. According to the Piskei Teshuvos (492:n11) and Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 57:9), many chassidim do so together with maror and a cooked egg. Others do so on the following night, instead.
Unfortunately, some people have a tendency to confuse such minhagim with performing the actual mitzva. Thus, R’ Yisrael Weltz (Divrei Yisrael 1:130) suggests that the reason why many who eat matza on pesach sheni do so specifically during the day and not at night is to avoid any issue of bal tosif, adding onto mitzvos. Likewise, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 10:27:10) quotes R’ Malkiel Tannenbaum (Divrei Malkiel 5:104) who writes that he had to urge people to stop saying the beracha of al achilas matza when eating matza on pesach sheni.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:129:39), however, points out that this is a chassidishe minhag, and, according to R’ Chaim Kanievsky, not the mainstream ashkenazi minhag. Likewise, the Chazon Ish himself, did not eat matza on pesach sheni (Nitei Gavriel, Pesach 57:n15). Interestingly, the Vilna Gaon was particular to only eat matza on Pesach (Maaseh Rav 185).
In conclusion, there are different minhagim about eating matza on pesach sheni. If one doesn’t have this minhag they shouldn’t make a point of eating matza then.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Checking Lettuce

Question: Is it really necessary to check lettuce for bugs?
Answer: The Gemara (Pesachim 24a; Makkos 16b) writes that one who eats an insect transgresses multiple aveiros.
While mideoraisa certain prohibited foods in a mixture would be battul berov, annulled against the majority, Tosafos (Chullin 95a) writes that this wouldn’t apply when the forbidden item can be clearly seen.
Additionally, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 100:1) writes that a beriya, whole creature, is not even battul in a ratio against one thousand kosher parts (See Gemara Chullin 99b).
The Rema (YD 84:8) quotes the Rashba (Toras Habayis 3:3; Teshuvos 274) who writes that one only needs to check dates if there is a miut hamatzuy, reasonable chance, that they are infested. There is a machlokes, however, as to what constitutes a miut hamatzuy. R’ Yaakov Bruchin (Mishkenos Yaakov YD:17) writes that it refers to a 10% chance. There is a further debate as to how to calculate this (See Minchas Shlomo 2:61). R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 4:81; 5:156:4), however, writes that it cannot be measured by such statistics. Rather, it refers to anything considered to be a common occurrence. Different kashrus organizations follow various opinions on this matter.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 1:18) stresses the importance of checking one’s lettuce before eating it for maror on seder night, though stresses that there is no need to look for insects with a magnifying glass (See Shevet Halevi 7:122; Igros Moshe YD 4:2).
In conclusion, it is very important to only eat lettuce that has been checked for bugs, though there is no need to use magnifying glasses, etc. to check them.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Building a Redemptive Nissan into a Transformational Iyar

I feature on this clip for Yom Ha'aztamaut.

  • What has Israel got to be proud of?
  • Where is it going?
  • What does that mean for us?

Sunday, 15 April 2018

New Clothes During the Omer

Question: I don’t really need a new suit, but there is a sale on. Can I buy one during the omer?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 493:1) writes that because the students of R’ Akiva died during the omer period, one shouldn’t get married or have haircuts during this time.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 3:26; Yechave Daas 1:24) writes that many people confuse this time period with the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av. Unlike the three weeks which is a time of mourning for the churban, the omer is primarily a time of growth leading up to Shavuos. Thus, while the Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:17) writes that one should ideally not say shehecheyanu during the three weeks on new clothes or a new fruit, the Mishna Berura (493:2) writes that one may say shehecheyanu during the omer.
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 18:41) notes that there were some communities that had the minhag to avoid saying shehecheyanu, though even they would allow it on Shabbos. Unless, one has such a minhag, however, one may buy new clothes and say shehecheyanu.
R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 3:17:2) writes that as the Shulchan Aruch only forbade haircuts and getting married during this time, there is no prohibition against buying new clothes or big furniture (See Emes L’yaakov OC 493:n486; Halichos Shlomo, Sefiras Haomer 11:n53)
Nonetheless, R’ Ovadia Yosef (ibid.) and other poskim write that if one doesn’t need new clothes, they should wait to wear them. Thus, R’ Betzalel Stern (Betzel Hachachma 4:48) writes that one observing the first half of the omer may buy clothes in the second half and vice versa.
The Mishna Berura (551:45) writes that one can buy clothes during the three weeks that one wouldn’t normally say shehecheyanu on. Thus, there would certainly be no issue with buying new shirts, etc. during the omer.
The Piskei Teshuvos (493:3) quotes various poskim who write that one can buy a new suit if their old one needed replacing. Likewise, one may buy children’s clothes. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 8:227) adds that one may buy clothes during the omer, especially if they are on sale.
In conclusion, one may buy new clothes during the omer, unless one has a specific minhag not to. If it is something that one should say shehecheyanu upon wearing for the first time, they should ideally do so on Shabbos.