Sunday, 25 October 2020

Reaffixing Mezuzos

Question: We moved into a rented flat and removed the mezuzos to get them checked and put them back up the same day. They were all kosher. Should we have said a new beracha?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 8:14) writes that if one removed their tallis, they recite a new beracha when putting it back on, even if they intended on doing so when they removed it. The Rema disagrees, writing that if one had the intention to put it back on, one does not recite a new beracha when they do so.

The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 289:4) compares removing mezuzos to be checked, to a tallis. If one replaces them the same day, one would not recite a new beracha. Only if one replaced a non-kosher mezuza with a new one would one need to recite a new beracha.

The Chida (Birkei Yosef YD 286:10) and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (11:7) write that there is a safek (doubt) as to whether one who removes a mezuza to check it would need to recite a new beracha when reaffixing it. The Pischei Teshuva (YD 289:1) questions why this would be different to removing one’s tallis or tefillin. He suggests that as one removes their mezuzos to be checked, they are not convinced that they will be found kosher and therefore one may need to replace them with other mezuzos. Similarly, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 3:17; Yechave Daas 3:80) maintains that there is a difference between tallis and mezuza and one would recite a new beracha when reaffixing it after having it checked.

However, the Maharam Schik (YD:285) writes that even those who maintain that one would not recite a new beracha would agree that if one affixed a different mezuza, one would do so.

In conclusion, Ashkenazim do not recite a beracha when reaffixing a single mezuza the same day it was removed while many Sefardim do. Even Ashkenazim would recite a new beracha if the mezuzos were replaced entirely and switched around.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Second Mezuza

Question: We recently bought a new house and are affixing our mezuzos. There are some old mezuzos on the doorposts which have been painted over multiple times and are likely not kosher. Instead of removing them, can we just affix our new ones next to them?

Answer: The Sifrei (Devarim 82) writes that one who adds on a fifth corner to one’s tzitzis or a fifth species to the arba minim has transgressed bal tosif, the prohibition against adding to the Torah. Likewise, Tosafos (Rosh Hashana 28b) writes that if one added a fifth parsha to a pair of tefillin, they would have transgressed this prohibition.

R’ Avraham Dovid Wahrman (Daas Kedoshim 286:25) applies this to the mitzva of mezuza, too, writing that one mustn’t affix multiple mezuzos to one doorpost (See Minchas Yitzchak 1:9).

The Pischei Teshuva (YD 291:2) quotes the Chamudei Daniel (YD 291:1) who adds that one must remove the old mezuza before affixing a second, and one must be meticulous not to ruin the old mezuza when removing it.

R’ Moshe Feinstein (YD 1:176; YD 1:183) adds that one must remove the old mezuzos even if they have been repainted over multiple times and are likely passul, and even though by doing so, one may scratch the doorframe (See Shevet Halevi 8:169).

In conclusion, one must remove any old mezuzos before affixing new ones, even if one believes that they may not be kosher.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Children and Arba Minim

Question: I tried buying a passul set of arba minim for my children, but the shop wouldn’t sell them to me, claiming that they could only use a kosher set. If they can’t tell the difference, does it really matter?

Answer: The Mishna (Sukka 42a) teaches that children are obligated to shake lulav and esrog when they are old enough to do so. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 657:1) writes that parents must buy a lulav and esrog for their child when they are old enough to shake them properly. The Mishna Berura (128:123) explains that this age varies between different children and mitzvos.

The Biur Halacha (657:1) stresses that children must only be given a kosher set that is fit for an adult to use.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 658:6) writes that one should not give their arba minim to a child on the first day before fulfilling one’s own obligation, as while the child has the ability to receive a gift, they cannot gift it back. The Magen Avraham (658:8) writes that the child would not fulfil their obligation unless the arba minim belonged to them. The Mishna Berura (658:28) explains that the father would not have fulfilled his obligation in chinuch by lending his child a set. Nonetheless, he notes that other acharonim disagree, permitting lending one’s child a set. In Shaar Hatziyun (658:36) he clarifies that lending suffices (See Minchas Yitzchak 9:163:3.)

Likewise, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 8:152) demonstrates that a parent fulfils their obligation by lending them a set. As chinuch is only miderabanan, a child’s mitzva is like the second day of Yom Tov when one fulfils their obligation with a borrowed set (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 658:17).

Nonetheless, R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 3:95; YD 1:137; YD 2:104) writes that it depends on how we view the mitzvah of chinuch. If chinuch serves solely to prepare the child for when they are older, then a borrowed set is sufficient. If, however, the parents have an obligation to ensure that their children have performed the mitzva properly, then they need to own it. R’ Moshe concedes, following the Shaar Hatziyun, that children may, indeed, use a borrowed set, and parents would fulfil their obligation of chinuch. Children would not be able to recite the berachos, on such a set, however, unless they own it.

In conclusion, while it is ideal for parents to buy children their own set of arba minim, they must only use a set that is fully kosher.