Monday, 31 January 2022

Bar Mitzva and Yartzheits in a Leap-Year

Question: Our son was born in Adar and he turns thirteen during a leap-year. I was always under the assumption that he turns Bar Mitzva in Adar Sheni, but we were told to observe a relative’s yartzheit in Adar Rishon. Are they not the same?

Answer: There is a machlokes among the Rishonim as to whether ‘Adar’ during a leap-year generally refers to Adar Rishon or Adar Sheni. Rambam (Nedarim 10:6) writes that ‘Adar’ refers to Adar Sheni (See Kesef Mishna), while the Ran (Nedarim 63b) and Rosh (Nedarim 63a) write that it refers to Adar Rishon.

The Mishna Berura (427:3) writes that for the sake of clarity the chazan should ideally announce ‘Adar Rishon’ during mevarchim hachodesh.

When one’s relative passes away during one of the Adar’s in a leap year, the yahrzeit is observed during that same month in a leap year; either Adar Rishon or Adar Sheni. However, when one’s relative passes away during Adar in a non-leap year, there is a machlokes as to which month the yahrzeit should be observed in. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 568:7) writes that it should be observed in Adar Sheni. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 568:76) notes that this is the main Sefardi practice (See Bach YD 2201:12; Shach YD 220:16). Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch (CM 43:28) writes that in legal documents, it is presumed to be Adar Rishon.

The Rema (YD 402:12; OC 427:1; 568:7 quoting the Terumas Hadeshen 294; Mahari Mintz 9) disagrees, writing that it should be observed in Adar Rishon. (See Mateh Moshe 766; Chochmas Adam 171:11; Gesher Hachaim 32:10), though notes (OC 568:7) that some observe both (See Mishna Berura 568:42; Chassam Sofer OC 163; Tzitz Eliezer 22:39).


The Rema (OC 55:10) writes that a boy born in Adar in a non-leap year must wait until Adar Sheni to be considered Bar Mitzva as only then is he thirteen halachic years old.

In conclusion, a boy born in Adar in a regular year must wait until Adar Sheni to celebrate his Bar Mitzva. Sefardim typically observe yartzheits of those who pass away in Adar in a regular year, in Adar Sheni, while Ashkenazim typically do so in Adar Rishon.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Tallis for Aliya

Question: I am single and do not wear a tallis while davening. Do I need to make a beracha when I wear one to daven for the amud or for an aliya?

Answer: The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 91:2) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 147:4) write that one who receives an aliya (or any other kibbud) should wear a tallis out of respect for the tzibbur. The Magen Avraham (14:1) quotes the Rosh who writes that one who wears a tallis to lead the davening or to duchen recites a beracha.

The Mishna Berura (14:11; Biur Halacha 14:3) writes that there is a machlokes as to whether one recites a beracha when borrowing a tallis. This specifically applies to borrowing a friend’s tallis. However, one does recite a beracha when wearing a tallis that belongs to the shul, as the tallis partly belongs to him. He suggests, therefore, that it is preferable to borrow a friend’s tallis to avoid the safek of saying a beracha.

Nonetheless, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 14:14 quoting the Ben Ish Chai), R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 3:12), R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 5:14:2) and R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 9:234) write that one does not recite a beracha even when wearing a shul tallis for an aliya. R’ Greenblatt explains that the shul tallis was not necessarily bought on behalf of the shul members, but likely an old tallis that one no longer needed.

In conclusion, one recites a beracha when wearing their own tallis. One who borrows one to for daven for the amud or for an aliya does not recite a beracha.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Torah On Display

Question: I am always confused as to how exactly to do hagbah and so always refuse to do it if asked. Is there a particular way to open the Torah and turn?

Answer: The Gemara (Megilla 32a) teaches that the honour of gelilah is equal to all of the other honours. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 147:1) adds that this honour is typically auctioned to the highest bidder. The Mishna Berura (147:5) writes that this applies to the way we do hagbah today, and notes that it is no longer treated this way. Ramban (Devarim 27:26) writes very strongly about the importance of performing the mitzva of hagbah and gelilah properly.

The Magen Avraham (134:3) quotes Maseches Sofrim (14:14) which writes that the Torah should be opened three columns and shown to everyone as there is a mitzva for everyone to see and bow towards it. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (23:25) and R’ Betzalel Stern (Betzel Hachachma 5:54) write that it should specifically be opened three columns. The Mishna Berura (134:8) writes that one capable of safely opening it more should do so. The seam connecting the pages should be in the middle (See Shulchan Aruch OC 147:3; Aruch Hashulchan OC 147:13).

The Mishna Berura (134:9) adds that one should turn in a clockwise direction. One should turn slowly, allowing everyone to see the Torah.

In conclusion, one should open the Sefer Torah at least three columns, and turn slowly in a clockwise direction, allowing everyone to see the writing.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Mussaf Before Shacharis

Question: I forgot that it was Rosh Chodesh and so arrived late to shul. Should I have davened shacharis while the kehilla were davening mussaf, or davened mussaf with them and davened shacharis afterwards?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 286:1) writes that the correct time for mussaf is after shacharis. The Rema adds that if one davened mussaf before shacharis they have still fulfilled their obligation.

The Gemara (Zevachim 90b) discusses which rule takes precedence, that of tadir, the more frequent of two objects takes precedence, or mekudash, the one of greater sanctity. R’ Yitzchak Elchanan Spector (Baer Yitzchak OC 20) argues that if one missed davening shacharis betzibur, they should at-least daven mussaf betzibur and daven shacharis later. While shacharis is an everyday occurrence, and therefore tadir, nonetheless, davening mussaf betzibur is considered mekudash, and so should be performed now, while one can do so with a minyan. While this applies to mussaf on Yom Tov, it does not necessarily apply to mussaf on rosh chodesh and chol hamoed.

R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:68) disagrees, writing that one must always daven shacharis before mussaf. Firstly, the Torah refers to the korban tamid as haolah, the olah, to emphasise that no korban precedes it (See Mishna Berura 286:5; Kaf Hachaim OC 286:12). Additionally, the rule of tadir means that one must daven shacharis before mussaf. Also, shacharis must be recited in the morning, while musaf can be recited throughout the day.

R' Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 6:36) adds that one who davens the shacharis amida while the tzibbur are davening mussaf may even be considered as davening tefilla betzibbur (See Rivevos Ephraim 8:345).

In conclusion, one who comes late to shul on a day when we daven mussaf must ensure that they daven shacharis first.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Point at the Sefer Torah

Question: I see some people point at the Sefer Torah during hagba but could not find this in halacha. Are we supposed to do it, and is there a particular finger to point with?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 134:2) writes that when the Torah is lifted, there is a mitzva for everyone to look at it, bow down, and say vezos hatorah.. The Rema (Darchei Moshe OC 147:4) notes that this was the practice of the Maharil. The Magen Giborim (Elef Hamagen 134:7) adds that it is a mitzva to bow towards the Sefer Torah.

R’ Zvi Pesach Frank (Har Zvi OC 1:64) notes that in the tefilla of berich shemei that we say when taking the Torah out, we say ‘desagidna kamei’ meaning to bow down before the Torah. He questions why people are not particular about this halacha. He quotes the Shiltei Hagiborim (Kiddushin 14b) who writes that while it is important to stand for the Torah and those who learn it, we do not find anywhere in the Torah that people bowed to the aron hakodesh. Nonetheless, he concludes, we should follow the Shulchan Aruch and bow (See Sheyarei Knesses Hagedola YD 282).

R’ Chaim Falaji (Sefer Chaim 3:6; Lev Chaim OC 167:6) justifies the custom, explaining why it is not inappropriate to point. He does not give any source for this custom, however.

R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:80:23; 5:215) notes that the halacha of pointing at hagba is not to be found in either the Siddur Harav or the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Harav, etc. Nor is there any source among the classical commentaries for pointing.

In conclusion, there is no reason to point at the Sefer Torah during hagba. One should bow towards the Sefer Torah instead.