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.