Sunday, 28 July 2019

Traveling to Israel During the Nine Days

Question: Am I allowed to travel to Eretz Yisrael during the nine days?
Answer: The Mishna (Taanis 26b) writes that from when the month of Av begins until after Tisha B’av, we reduce in our enjoyment. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:2) lists a few restrictions that must be observed during these nine days. The Noda Biyehuda (OC 2:105), however, writes that one should also avoid other activities that one enjoys during this time. Thus. R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 10:26) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:374) write that one should avoid going on outings during the nine days.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:18) writes that one should also avoid doing anything potentially dangerous during the three weeks. Following this, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Bein Hametzarim 14:24) writes that one should avoid flying during the nine days. While flying is considered a safe means of transport, one still says the beracha of hagomel afterwards due to its potential dangers.
Nonetheless, R’ Auerbach allowed yeshiva bachurim learning in Eretz Yisrael to return home during the nine days rather than leave yeshiva earlier. Likewise, he maintained that it is permitted to fly to Eretz Yisrael during the nine days, and if necessary, even on Tisha B’av (afternoon).
In conclusion, while one should avoid flying during the nine days, one may travel to Eretz Yisrael then.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Coin Collection on Shabbos

Question: I have a coin collection including ancient coins and coins from different countries. Some of it has been organized into albums. Are these coins muktze?
Answer: Rambam (Shabbos 25:6) writes that as coins cannot be used on Shabbos, they are muktze just like raw wood and stones that have not been fashioned into anything. The Mishna Berura (310:24) writes that they are muktze machmas gufo, inherently muktze.
While the Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:21) writes that rocks are usually muktze, this is only when they do not have a specific use. If one prepares a rock for a specific permitted use before Shabbos such as to keep a door open or to crack nuts, it would no longer be muktze. Thus, the Mishna Berura (303:74) writes that if one set a coin aside for a particular purpose it is considered to be non-muktze. This only applies when one does so in a permanent manner, such as creating jewellery out of a coin, but not if one sets it aside for just one Shabbos (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 20:38).
The Chazon Ish (Shabbos 42:13), disagrees, writing that one cannot set a coin aside, as one may choose to use it again as money. Thus, coins will remain muktze.
R’ Asher Weiss (Minchas Asher 2:36) writes that when one sorts such coins into a collection, one is treating them like a photo album whose purpose is simply to be viewed at one’s leisure. Nonetheless, he questions whether it is ideal to be stringent and avoid touching them on Shabbos.
R’ Yisroel Dovid Harfenes (Nishmas Shabbos 3:331) argues, however, that even the Chazon Ish would agree that a coin collection is not muktze. One who goes to the bother to collect various coins of different denominations and time periods is certainly not going to break up their collection to spend the money. Such coins would not, therefore, be muktze.
In conclusion, a coin collection is not muktze and may be handled on Shabbos, especially if the coins are no longer in circulation.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Hot Plate Gone Off

Question: I accidentally forgot to adjust our time switch before Shabbos so our hotplate switched off earlier than expected. Was I allowed to transfer the food onto our neighbour’s hotplate?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 253:2) writes that one may return a hot pot of cooked food to a flame providing that the flame is covered. The Rema adds that one should not put the pot down elsewhere before returning it to another heat source (chazara), and they must have intended to return it when removing it. The Biur Halacha discusses whether one needs all of these conditions in order to replace food (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:18).
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74 Bishul 38) writes that one may move hot food from one blech to another even if the fire went out, just as one may move food from one flame to another, providing that one didn’t plan on the flame going out. If one purposely set one’s timer to go off at a certain time, however, they have demonstrated that they did not intend to return it to the flame.
Likewise, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:n69) held that there is a difference between actively removing a pot before placing it elsewhere, whereby one demonstrates that one isn’t planning on returning it to the flame, and a flame accidentally going out.
Nonetheless, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:23) writes that one should ideally not place the food directly onto another blech, but only onto another pot or upturned plate, etc.
There is a machlokes among sefardi poskim, however, as to whether they can transfer food in this scenario (See Kaf Hachaim OC 253:46; Yalkut Yosef, OC 253:10).
In conclusion, one would be allowed to transfer food providing it was fully cooked and still warm from a hotplate that had switched off to another on Shabbos. It is ideal to place it on top of something else rather than place it directly onto the hotplate.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Turn Down Radiator on Shabbos

Question: We weren’t expecting the weather to be so hot over Shabbos and forgot to switch the heating off. Were we allowed to turn the radiators off by closing the valve to stop the hot water coming in?
Answer: Rashi (Shabbos 42a; 134a) writes that the melacha mideoraisa of kibui, extinguishing, is specifically when one puts the fire out in order to create something constructive such as charcoal. Otherwise, extinguishing a flame is assur miderabanan.
The Gemara (Shabbos 120b) teaches that it is assur to do a permitted action which will inevitably cause a melacha to be transgressed. This prohibition is known as pesik reisha. Thus, Rambam (Shabbos 5:17) writes that one mustn’t open a door near a candle as the breeze will inevitably extinguish or fan the flame (See Mishna Berura 277:9).
The Gemara (ibid.) writes that one hasn’t transgressed a melacha mideoraisa unless one does so in a direct action. While one cannot usually perform such an action, a gerama, on Shabbos, it is often permitted in actions which are assur miderabanan. Thus, the Rema (OC 334:22) allows one to place containers of water near a flame knowing that it will later extinguish it to stop it destroying something.
Following this, R’ Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion 2:41:4) writes that one is allowed to close a radiator valve even though by doing so one is causing the flame to go down. While it is a pesik reisha that the flame will lower itself, the issur is miderabanan. In addition, one isn’t causing this to happen directly, but as a gerama.
The Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha (80:4) adds that this must only be done to prevent discomfort, but not because one wants to conserve energy.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 23:19) writes that one should only close the valve if the radiator is hot. If the water is still heating up then one should ideally wait until it is yad soledes bo (approx. 43 °C) so as not to speed up the heating in the water tank. Likewise, if the boiler was off, one would be allowed to turn the radiator off to prevent it from coming on (See Orchos Shabbos 26).
In conclusion, one can turn a radiator off if one is uncomfortable, though one must ensure that it is either off or hot, rather than in the process of heating up.