Sunday, 26 April 2020

Fewer Candles

Question: Since our oldest child was born, I have always lit an extra candle for each of our children. Last week, I accidentally lit one too few. Do I need to add an extra candle every week?
Answer: The Rema (OC 263:1) quotes the Maharil (Shabbos 1) who writes that if a woman forgot to light Shabbos candles one week, she should light an extra candle from then on. The Mishna Berura (263:7) explains that this acts as a kenas (fine) to deter people from forgetting. R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 5:33) adds that this applies even nowadays when there are also electric lights on in the house.
Many have the minhag to light an extra candle for each child born. R’ Yisrael Chaim Friedman (Likkutei Mahariach, Hisnahagus Erev Shabbos) explains that this is in keeping with the Gemara (Shabbos 23b) that writes that one who lights Shabbos candles properly is rewarded with children who are talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars). R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 7:35) explains that this is akin to chanuka when one should (according to Rambam) light a candle for everybody in their house (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 43:n51).
The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 263:3) writes that if one lit one less candle than they usually do they still need to light an extra one in future. The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 263:2), however, disagrees, arguing that the halacha is that one only needs to light one light whereas extra candles is a minhag.
In conclusion, one who accidentally lit too few candles one week does not need to light any extra candles after that.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Matza Throughout Pesach

Question: Is there a mitzva to eat matza throughout Pesach?
Answer: The Gemara (Pesachim 120a) teaches that there isn’t the same requirement to eat matza on the last day of Pesach as there is on the first night. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 475:32) explains that when the Torah tells us to eat matza on the other days, it clearly means to eat something other than regular bread.
There is a machlokes among the rishonim and acharonim¸ however, as to whether one performs a mitzva by eating matza on the remaining days of Pesach. According to Ibn Ezra (Shemos 12:15), one is obligated to eat matza all seven days (See Chizkuni 12:18).
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 1:22) quotes the Baal Hamaor (Pesachim 26b) who asks why we don’t recite a beracha when eating matza throughout Pesach, just like we do upon eating in a sukka following the first day of sukkos. He answers by differentiating between Pesach and Sukkos, when one can live for six days by eating other food, thus one has a choice to eat matza or not. One cannot live for six days on Sukkos without any sleep. As one has no choice, therefore, but to live in a sukka, they recite a beracha upon performing this mitzva. According to R' Avraham Borenstein (Avnei Nezer OC 377), the Baal Hamaor holds that eating matza after the first day to be an optional, rather than an obligatory mitzva.
Similarly, the Vilna Gaon (Maaseh Rav 185; Kesav Vehakabala, Devarim 16:8; Mishna Berura 475:45; 639:24) maintained that while one may not be obligated to eat matza throughout Pesach, one still fulfils a mitzva by doing so. Thus, he would make a point of eating seuda shelishis on the last day of Pesach even though he wouldn’t normally eat seuda shelishis on Yom Tov (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 475:18).
Sefer Hamichtam (Sukka 27a), the Meiri (Pesachim 91b) and the Orchos Chaim (Sukka 36), however, maintain that there is no mitzva to eat matza following the first night. Likewise, the Magen Avraham (639:17) quotes the Maharil who writes that we don’t say a beracha as there is no obligation.
R’ Ovadia Yosef writes that even according to the Vilna Gaon, saying a beracha upon eating matza other than during the seder would be a beracha levatala (beracha in vain).
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 10:27:5; 13:65) writes strongly against those who have the practice to avoid eating matza out of concerns for their kashrus, stressing the importance of washing for pas over Shabbos and Yom Tov.
In conclusion, while we only say a beracha upon eating matza during the seder, some rishonim and acharonim maintain that one fulfils a mitzva by eating throughout Pesach.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Best time to Count the Sefira

Question: When is the best time to count the sefira when I’m not davening with a minyan?
Answer: The Beis Yosef (OC 489:1) writes that there is a machlokes as to whether one may count the sefira during bein hashemashos (the time between shekia, sunset, and nacht, nightfall). Tosafos (Menachos 66a), the Rosh (Pesachim 10:40) and Tur (OC 489:1) maintain that as counting is only miderabanan nowadays, one may count before nacht. The Ran (Pesachim 28a) and Rambam (Temidin U’musafin 7:22) however write that one should wait until nacht. Following this, the Mishna Berura (489:14) writes that ideally one should wait until nacht to count.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 489:1) writes that one should count the sefira after maariv. The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 489:1) quotes R’ Yaakov Emden (Mor Uketzia 489:1) who explains that the reason we count after maariv is because people used to daven maariv before nacht. Accordingly, one davening maariv later would count the sefira first (See Shevet Halevi 6:53:3).
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:99:1) however, writes that we follow R’ Yaakov Reischer (Chok Yaakov 489:16) who explains that the reason is because we follow the rule of tadir kodem, giving precedence to the more common mitzva. The only reason we count the sefira before reciting kiddush and havdala is because those must be done at home while it is ideal to count the sefira together with others in shul.
Likewise, the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 489:16) writes that while one may count as soon as it’s nacht, it is best to do so after maariv.
In conclusion, one should ideally daven maariv at nacht followed by the sefira.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Kimcha Depischa

Question: Can I use maaser money for kimcha depischa?
Answer: The Gemara Yerushalmi (Bava Basra 1:4) teaches that one who has lived in a city for twelve months is considered to be a resident. Thus they must give wheat to the poor and are entitled to receive wheat if necessary. Following this, the Ohr Zarua (Pesachim 255) writes that the minhag is to distribute wheat to those in need before Pesach. This serves as the Rema’s opening words to hilchos Pesach (OC 429:1).
Thus, we see in the Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 429:5) that the prevalent custom was for communities to levy taxes on their townspeople for this purpose (See Mishna Berura 429:3).
The Mishna Berura (Shaar Hatziyun 429:10) explains that it is inappropriate for us to celebrate Pesach, knowing that our friends are unable to. Additionally, we must consider the added costs of Pesach food. R’ Yaakov Betzalel Zolty (Mishnas Yaavetz OC:7) explains that the Rema wrote this halacha in hilchos Pesach rather than hilchos tzedaka because this is, in fact, an integral part of Yom Tov, rather than tzedaka. Thus, Rambam (Yom Tov 6:18) writes that one who doesn’t look after others on Yom Tov demonstrates that his Yom Tov expenditures were not done for Yom Tov but for oneself.
Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch Harav and Aruch Hashulchan (OC 429:7) refer to this as tzedaka. Thus, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Nissan 2:2) maintains that one may use their maaser money for kimcha depischa.
In conclusion, one may use one’s maaser money for kimcha depischa.

בבא בתרא י. רבי יהודה אומר גדולה צדקה שמקרבת את הגאולה..
Rabbi Yehuda says, ‘Great is charity for it hastens the Redemption’ (Talmud, Bava Basra 10a).
May the merit of this mitzva lead to our own redemption במהרה בימינו.