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.