Sunday, 24 February 2019

eBay Bid Ending on Shabbos

Question: Can I bid for something on eBay if the bidding ends on Shabbos?
Answer: The rishonim give different reasons for why one mustn’t conduct business transactions on Shabbos. Rambam (Shabbos 23:12) writes that we are concerned that one may record the transaction. Rashi (Beitza 37a) adds that there is a prohibition against discussing business matters on Shabbos.
The Gemara (Shabbos 18a) writes that one is allowed to open a flow of water before Shabbos that will run onto a garden on Shabbos. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 252:5) writes that one is allowed to have one’s utensils perform work for them on Shabbos. There is a machlokes as to whether this applies to business, too, however.
R’ Akiva Eiger (Teshuvos 1:159) writes that one cannot set up a business transaction before Shabbos that will be performed on Shabbos. R’ Avraham Borenstein (Avnei Nezer OC:51) explains why scheduled business transactions are different to other automated melachos.
R’ Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (Ohr Sameach, Shabbos 23:12) maintains, however, that there is no difference between business and other melachos. Likewise, the Maharam Shik (131) writes that one may submit a bid before Shabbos for an auction that will end on Shabbos. Although the auctioneer announces the final bid, by submitting the bid in advance, one has set the ball rolling. Additionally, while winning the actual bid obligates the winner to pay, the transaction is not complete until they have paid (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:232).
In conclusion, one may bid for an item on eBay that ends on Shabbos.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

A Late Pidyon Haben

Question: I never received a pidyon haben as a baby and so am undergoing it now. Should I redeem myself or should my father redeem me?
Answer: The Gemara (Kiddushin 29a) writes that if one failed to redeem his son when he was a child, then his son should do so himself. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 305:15) writes that one who wasn’t redeemed should redeem themselves when they grow up. The Pischei Teshuva (YD 305:25) quotes the Zichron Yosef (YD 26) who stresses that this must wait until he is bar mitzva.
There is a machlokes among the rishonim, however, as to whether the father is still obligated to redeem his son, or whether his grown up son should perform it himself. The Rashba (Shut 2:321) argues that the father’s obligation does not disappear with time. Similarly, the Sefer Hachinuch (392) writes that while the father should ideally perform this mitzva when the baby is thirty days old, the obligation remains even after one’s son has grown up. Thus, the Minchas Chinuch (392:1) writes that as the mitzva belongs primarily to the father, if his son performed it himself, he could be fined ten zehuvim (See Shulchan Aruch CM 382:1).
The Rivash (131), however, writes that once the son turns bar mitzva it becomes his primary obligation, rather than his father’s. As he couldn’t have redeemed himself as a baby, it was then his father’s obligation, but now that he can do so himself, he should.
While R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:518) writes that we follow the Rashba, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:370) writes that the Shulchan Aruch implies that we follow the Rivash, and the son should now redeem himself. Nonetheless, he suggests that it is possible for them to both perform the mitzva. The father should give his son the money while his son performs the actual pidyon.
In conclusion, both the father and his grown son are obligated to perform the pidyon haben. As there is a machlokes as to whose obligation is paramount, it is ideal to do the pidyon in a manner that involves them both, so that they can both perform the mitzva.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

A Heavy Pot of Soup

Question: We often host a lot of guests over Shabbos and cook our soup in a large pot. As it is so difficult to remove the pot when it is full, can we remove some soup while it is still on the hotplate?
Answer: Rambam (Shabbos 3:11) writes that one mustn’t put a ladle into a pot while it is on the flame on Shabbos as doing so stirs the food which aids the cooking. The Maggid Mishna explains that while it may not properly stir the food, chazal were concerned that one may come to stir it properly. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 252:1; 318:18) writes that one mustn’t stir food or remove any from a pot on the stove while it is still cooking.
The Mishna Berura (318:113) writes that while the Shulchan Aruch allows removing fully cooked food while it is still on the flame, the Elya Rabba writes that one should remove it from the flame first in deference of the minority opinion (Kol Bo quoted in Shaar Hatziyun 318:136) which maintains that stirring fully cooked food is assur mideoraisa (see Biur Halacha 318).
The Chazon Ish (OC 37:15) and R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 5:127:6), however, write that if the food was directly on the flame and so one wouldn’t be able to remove the pot and replace it, then they can follow the Shulchan Aruch and remove the food from the pot providing it was fully cooked (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:32).
Following this, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 10:11:2) writes that if one had a pot that was too heavy to move off the flame, one could take from it directly, though one should be careful not to stir it.
Likewise, R’ Benzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:30:15) writes that if one needs to leave the pot on the flame for mitzva purposes, such as for seuda shelishis, late guests or children who wanted to eat later, then one can take food out of the pot while it is still on the flame.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74 Bishul 9), however, disagrees, writing that even if the pot was heavy it must be removed from the flame before taking any. If the pot was on a blech or hotplate, however, then one may take from the pot, providing that the flame isn’t hot enough to have cooked it or warmed it up by itself (ibid. 11).
In conclusion, one may take some soup from a heavy pot if it is too difficult to remove, though one should be careful not to stir it. When possible, one should remove the pot.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Friday Night Kiddush on Cake

Question: We have invited some friends for Friday night dinner though we are going to have to wait a while for them to arrive. Can we say kiddush and eat some cake and then start the meal when they arrive?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 20b) teaches that there is a mitzva mideoraisa to recite kiddush on Shabbos. Rambam (Shabbos 29:4) explains that this mitzva applies to the first kiddush that we recite on Friday night. The Mishna Berura (271:8) notes, however, that the kiddush that we say on Shabbos day is miderabanan (See Baer Heitev 289:2).
The Gemara (Pesachim 101a) writes that kiddush must be recited bemakom seuda, where one is going to eat their meal. Thus, Tosafos (Pesachim 101a) and the Rosh (Pesachim 10:5) write that kiddush must be followed by a bread meal. The Tur (OC 273:5), however, writes that seuda includes a snack or drinking some wine.
Following this, the Magen Avraham (OC 273:11) writes that just as mezonos is considered to be more prominent than hagefen, so too eating cakes, etc. would be like having a bread seuda. While R’ Akiva Eiger (OC 273:5) and the Vilna Gaon (quoted in Biur Halacha 273:5) disagree with the Magen Avraham, most follow the Magen Avraham and rely on cakes, etc. on Shabbos day to be kovea seuda (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 273:8; Mishna Berura 273:25).
The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (77:14) and R’ Yitzchak Elchanan Spector (Ein Yitzchak OC 12:11) write that one can only have cake as part of their kiddush during the day when kiddush is miderabanan, but not on Friday night when kiddush is mideoraisa.
Nonetheless, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 54:22) writes that one can recite kiddush on cake even on Friday night, though, unlike during the daytime, one cannot repeat kiddush before the meal.
In conclusion, it is preferable to have kiddush on Friday night before one eats their meal, though if one has to wait to begin their meal, they may recite kiddush and eat some cake first.