Sunday, 24 November 2019

Life Insurance

Question: I went to a shiur about having bitachon in Hashem. Is it appropriate to buy life insurance or is that considered to be a lack of bitachon?
Answer: R’ Yisroel Yaakov Fisher (Even Yisrael 9:161) writes that sometimes Hashem keeps people alive in order so that they can support their family. Thus, he argues that one isn’t obligated to buy life insurance as one is removing this merit. Additionally, he argues that by buying a policy, one removes the great mitzva opportunity for others to support one’s relatives.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:111; 4:48), however disagrees, arguing that buying an insurance policy does not demonstrate a lack of belief in Hashem. As we are not supposed to rely on open miracles, it is inappropriate to daven for one. Rather, we must use the resources available to us to earn money. Hashem placed the idea of insurance in the minds of modern man and we should utilize this (See Shevet Halevi 4:1:2). R’ Moshe Stern (Baer Moshe 8:118) and R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 4:325) add that it is particularly important to buy life insurance and do what one can for one’s family members.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 3:85) stresses that while buying a life insurance policy, one must ensure that one isn’t breaking any other halachos. Thus, one must ensure that one doesn’t give the insurance companies the right to insist on an autopsy, etc.
In conclusion, it is perfectly acceptable for one to buy a life insurance policy and it is not considered to be a lack of bitachon in Hashem.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Returning Muktze Items

Question: I came to shul on Friday night and saw that my friend had left his phone charger on the windowsill. Was I allowed to place it in his seat so that he didn’t lose it?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 266:13) writes that if one finds a purse on Shabbos, one mustn’t pick it up.
The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 266:13) writes that it is questionable whether the prohibition of muktze is set aside for the mitzva of hashavas aveida. He notes that the Vilna Gaon (OC 586:50) quotes the Mordechai (Sukka 747) who allows one to use a shofar that would otherwise be muktze on Rosh Hashana. Nonetheless, R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 5:42:12) writes that even the Vilna Gaon doesn’t pasken like the Mordechai and the consensus is that one cannot pick up something muktze even to perform such mitzvos.
The Shulchan Aruch (CM 264:1) writes that the halacha is that one may recover one’s own lost objects before bothering with others’ objects. Thus, the Chasam Sofer (OC 82) writes that as one wouldn’t be able to recover one’s own muktze items on Shabbos, one wouldn’t be able to return another’s muktze items either. He compares finding a muktzeh item on Shabbos to finding chametz on Pesach which one must cover rather than move (See Shulchan Aruch OC 446:1; Magen Avraham 446:2).
The Shulchan Aruch Harav (CM Metzia 40) adds that the mitzva of hashavas aveida does not take precedence over certain other mitzvos. Although muktze is assur miderabanan, one still may not pick up a muktze item to perform this mitzva.
In conclusion, one may not pick up a muktze item on Shabbos, even to return someone’s lost item.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Collecting Tzedaka During Davening

Question: Our shul has a sign on its door asking meshulachim not to collect during davening. Isn’t it appropriate to give tzedaka during davening?
Answer: The Gemara (Sukka 25a) teaches that one who is involved in one mitzva is exempt from participating in another. Thus, one who is visiting a sick person would be exempt from eating in a sukka. The Ran (Sukkah 25a) and Rema (OC 38:8) write that even if one can continue performing the first mitzva, one is exempt from performing the second mitzva if the first one will be affected as a result.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 92:10) writes that it is commendable to give tzedaka before davening. The Mishna Berura (92:36) notes that in some shuls people collect for tzedaka during kerias Hatorah. This is wrong as it prevents people from following along and answering barechu.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 96:1) writes that one mustn’t hold money while davening the amida. The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 132:1 Mishbetzos Zahav 96:1; 566:3 quoted by Mishna Berura 96:1) extends this to when reciting the shema, pesukei dezimra or chazaras hashatz, too. Nonetheless, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 7:4) disagrees, writing that there is no prohibition in handling money during pesukei dezimra. Indeed, the Mishna Berura (92:36) writes that some have the minhag to specifically give tzedaka during vayevorech Dovid. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach would prepare money beforehand so that people could collect money.
Following this, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:287) writes that while one is davening they are exempt from giving tzedaka. Especially as those collecting usually specify what they are collecting for, it can be quite distracting. It is wrong to collect money then.
Seemingly, this would explain why many shuls allow one to collect with a tzedaka box where no explanation is required and distraction is kept to a minimum.
In conclusion, one should give tzedaka before or after davening rather than during davening.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Pouring out Havdala Wine

Question: I see people pouring out some of their havdala wine to extinguish their havdala candle. My family don’t ever do this. Is this not a waste?
Answer: The Gemara (Eruvin 65a) teaches that there is a special beracha given to a house in which wine is spilled. Following this, the Rema (OC 296:1) writes that we pour some wine out after havdala and extinguish the light in it in order to start the week off with a siman beracha.
The Taz (296:1) writes however, that pouring out wine in such a way would be wasteful and considered a disgrace. Rather, the Gemara means that one should fill one’s cup to the brim, even allowing it to overfill a little. He explains that the Gemara doesn’t ask for one to pour out some wine, but teaches us that one who does not become angry when wine is spilled in their home, will be blessed.
The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 296:5) writes that it isn’t disrespectful to overfill the cup as one is only wasting a little bit. After drinking some of the wine, one should pour out a little of wine to extinguish the havdala candle to demonstrate that one only lit it in order to perform the mitzva of havdala.
In conclusion, while one mustn’t purposely waste any wine, it is commendable to overfill one’s havdala cup slightly and to extinguish the candle in the wine.