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Methods of Receiving Pay for Work on ShabbatI work at a local shul’s youth department on Shabbat. They occasionally have activities during the week (e.g., Purim, Sukkot, Tu B’Shvat). Some of my co-workers believe that one of the intentions for these activities is to solve the problem of paying us for work on Shabbat (s’char Shabbat). I am skeptical for two reasons. First, would that work, considering that there are several months when we get paid without any such activities. Secondly, aren’t there better solutions than that?
S’char Shabbat (pay for permitted services one provided on Shabbat) is indeed forbidden Rabbinically like other commercial activity, lest one come to write (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 306:4).
The most common way to allow receiving money for work that was done on Shabbat is through havla’ah. That means having the Shabbat-related money “swallowed up” by combining it with weekday pay, as pay for a period of work that includes Shabbat (ibid.). You apparently assume that the applicability of havla’ah depends on the payment period. In other words, each payment has to include pay for work not related to Shabbat or Yom Tov. Therefore, you would forbid a paycheck for a payment period (month) in which there is no weekday work.
However, poskim point out that “havla’ah units” are determined not by the interval of payment but by the period of employment. The period of employment is the time during which there is a commitment to continue the employer-employee relationship, without the ability to back out under normal circumstance. This has ramifications for leniency and for stringency, respectively. If the employee is owed for work on Shabbat and the employer is not obligated to continue the employment during a period that includes weekdays, the work on Shabbat is viewed independently and it is forbidden to receive pay. One common application is a babysitter, who usually gets hired for each job on its own (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 28:58; Orchot Shabbat 22:94). Your situation is in all likelihood an example of the lenient ramification. A shul usually hires youth workers for “a year” (often, Sept.-June), which is the relevant time unit even if the payments are made in monthly installments. If that is the case, then since the year includes work on Tu B’Shevat and Purim, the pay is permitted.
Indeed, there is often another, related leniency – another application of havla’ah. Some suggest (including Aruch Hashulchan, OC 306:12) that the preparations chazanim do during the week justifies their receiving pay for their work on Shabbat and Yom Tov due to havla’ah. For this to constitute havla’ah, it does not suffice for the preparation to be theoretical work, but obligatory work that is time-consuming enough to warrant pay (Orchot Shabbat 22:90 – he (ibid. (149)) doubts whether chazanim are considered to receive any pay for their preparations.) Similarly, there is often an assumption that youth workers, beyond their frontal work with the children on Shabbat and Yom Tov, have necessary preparatory work that is slated for weekday. This can include buying prizes or food, setting or cleaning up, or preparing props. The shul can ensure from the outset that there are serious weekday preparations by requiring the leaders to come to a training session or meeting or to call the children and/or parents with whom they will be working. As mentioned above, one such serious practice during the employment period suffices.
The matter of chazanim introduces a final potential justification for receiving pay. There are two opinions in the Shulchan Aruch (OC 306:5) whether the prohibition on s’char Shabbat applies to mitzva activities. While the Shulchan Aruch seems to lean toward stringency, the Mishna Berura (306:22) acknowledges that the more prevalent minhag is to be lenient on the matter. Contemporary poskim leave the matter open (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 28:66). Whether or not a synagogue’s youth groups are considered a mitzva depends on the content of the activities.
Ranking Mishloach Manot StringenciesI have heard so many opinions about mishloach manot requirements (enough for a meal, different berachot, cooked food, etc.). Which are necessary?
We will refer to the practices you mention and a few others (not exhaustive), categorizing them according to our appraisal of the chumrot.
Proper to Be Careful (strong opinions require them)
Respectable quality/quantity – The gemara (Megilla 7b) tells of Amoraim sending simple foods and sharp spices, respectively, and a colleague implying this was inappropriate. Many explain that mishloach manot are supposed to foster warm relations and/or that they are for seudat Purim use (see Shut Chatam Sofer, Orach Chayim 196). Therefore, it can be expected that poskim say the manot should have some importance (Aruch Hashulchan, OC 695:15) and perhaps that this is magnified by the giver and/or the recipient’s affluence (Ritva, Megilla 7a; Chayei Adam 155:31; Be’ur Halacha 695:4). The opinions (see citations in Yalkut Yosef, Moadim, p. 329, Mikraei Kodesh (Harari) 12:4) that one person’s mishloach manot should suffice for some level of an independent meal (as opposed to an enhancement) are fewer and weaker.
Ready to be eaten – The Magen Avraham (695:11) requires that meat that is given be cooked. The logic is that raw food misses the mark, as the recipient cannot enjoy it without effort. The Mishna Berura (695:19) cites this as the main ruling, while noting there are distinguished lenient opinions. (Some mistakenly understand that one must give cooked food. Actually, the issue exists only for food that is inedible raw.) While important poskim are lenient (Yalkut Yosef, ibid. p. 318), it would be strange not to follow such an easily-followed logical stringency.
One May Want to be Careful (minority strict opinions with a measure of weight)
Drinks do not count – Some claim that manot refer to solid food, not drinks. However, the gemara (ibid.) that tells of a rabbi who sent a nice portion of meat and a barrel of wine indicates drinks are fine (Terumat Hadeshen I:111), as the Magen Avraham (ibid.) and Mishna Berura (ibid.) rule. According to a minority opinion’s reading of the Yerushalmi’s version of the aforementioned story, those manot were insufficient because drinks do not count.
Kedushat shvi’it – The Ben Ish Chai (Torah Lishma 193) includes mishloach manot in the prohibition on using Shemitta produce for paying various debts (Rambam, Shemitta 6:10). He applies this not just to fulfilling the basic mitzva of mishloach manot but even to giving to those who have already given you. Many are lenient (see Minchat Yitzchak X:57), apparently including our mentor, Rav Shaul Yisraeli (see Mikraei Kodesh 12:(31)). Some are machmir only to the extent that without the shvi’it produce, he has not fulfilled the mitzva (Mishnat Yosef, cited in Minchat Yitzchak ibid.).
Separate utensils – the Ben Ish Chai (I, Purim 16) says that whatever is in one utensil counts as one mana. This is difficult concerning foods that are, by their nature, unrelated (as opposed to something like assorted candies in a container – see Hitorerut Teshuva I:126). However, probably partially in deference to the Ben Ish Chai’s stature, several Sephardic poskim endorse this stringency l’chatchila (Yalkut Yosef, ibid. p. 330).
Foods of different berachot – The manot must be unique. Most poskim say not to suffice with one food separate into two portions (even if each is big). However, the idea that foods’ berachot are an indicator of being separate is contradicted by many prominent sources and is illogical (meat and juice share a beracha; different types of potato chips do not).
The stringencies are meant to ensure one fulfills the formal mitzva and are not always indicative of the mitzva’s goals. Therefore, if you give “halachically mehudar” mishloach manot to one person, the idea of giving to many people to cultivate friendship (Shulchan Aruch, OC 695:4) can be done in any way that enhances the Purim spirit. Do not let chumrot stifle your energy or creativity.
Women Hearing Parashat ZachorIt is not always easy for me (a woman) to make it to shul to hear Parashat Zachor. How much of an effort must I make?
There is a mitzva from the Torah to remember the actions of Amalek. It is related scripturally and, as simple logic dictates, innately to the mitzva to fight them (see Devarim 25:17-19). According to some Rishonim, it is included in the latter mitzva – see Mikraei Kodesh, Purim 5.) The question of how and when the Torah prescribes the mitzva can influence whether a woman has an obligation.
The basic mitzva of remembering can ostensibly be done at any time, which seems to preclude an exemption for women on grounds of being a time-based mitzvot. That which we do it on a specific Shabbat is Rabbinic. Yet, for a long time, the minhag was that women did not come to shul like men to hear Parashat Zachor, which prodded poskim to look for a reason why.
The connection to the mitzva to fight could be significant in this regard. One claim is that battle is usually carried out in the day, making it time-based. One of several questions on this idea is that one can remember the need anytime and act when it is practical. The Chinuch (#603) says that since women as a group are not obligated to wage battle, they are not included in the mitzva to remember either. The Minchat Chinuch (ad loc.) argues with the Chinuch by poignantly pointing out that women can and often should take part in other war-related efforts (see Sota 44b). Others argue that mitzvot are not dependent on whether the mitzva’s assumed logic applies to an individual. On the other hand, the Chinuch’s logic is reminiscent of the halacha that Moavite women are not included in the prohibition on marrying into our community because they do not usually bring provisions to nations passing through. Due to the Chinuch’s stature and the old minhag, it is hard to discard the opinions that women are exempt.
It is also possible that women, while obligated, fulfill the mitzva in other ways. The gemara (Megilla 18a) derives that the remembering of the story of Amalek should be done through a recitation from a sefer. The Terumat Hadeshen (I:108) posits that reading Zachor from a sefer Torah with a minyan is required from the Torah. Regarding men, we accept this opinions, thus making us expect men to go to significant lengths to have a minyan for Shabbat Zachor (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 685:7). However, not all agree that Torah law requires a minyan and perhaps not even a kosher sefer Torah. If so, the Rabbinically prescribed way men fulfill the Torah law (Shabbat Zachor), which is time-based, may not be binding for women (see Torat Chesed, cited in Yechaveh Daat I:84; Mikraei Kodesh, ibid.). If women have an obligation for some type of remembrance but not necessarily like men, it is not surprising that some (including Teshuvot V’hanhagot II:344) say that they should take the opportunity of Shabbat Zachor to read those p’sukim from a Chumash.
There is another possible way for women to fulfill the mitzva, which, if correct, does not require an extra action. Some Rishonim say that it is possible to fulfill the mitzva of Zachor by listening to Megillat Esther, which women anyway must do and usually even have a minyan (see Teshuvot V’hanhagot ibid.). It might just be necessary to have in mind for Zachor during that time (ibid.).
In general, over the last few hundred years, the minhag has developed for women to try to make to shul for the reading of Parashat Zachor (see Binyan Tzion (Chadashot 8) in the name of Rav Natan Adler). When this is doable, it is a good thing. However, if one has difficulty doing this, she should not feel undue pressure, and can rely on the several opinions and the old minhag that she does not have to fulfill the mitzva the way men do (Yechaveh Da’at, ibid.). (Some communities have a second reading. There are different ways of doing this, which raise certain halachic questions (see Minchat Yitzchak IX:68). However, whatever system a community uses should be fine for the individual who wants to hear.)
Standing for Parents in our TimesMost people do not stand up when their parents enter the room. Is this due to the opinion that it is enough to stand for them once in the morning and at night?
We believe in the great significance of upstanding Jews’ common practices and in looking for halachic justification for them. However, there has to be a good fit between sources/logic and the practices.
The gemara (Kiddushin 31b) gives examples of kibbud (honoring) for parents and of mora (awe). While standing is not on either list, it is evident from gemarot that it is expected (see Beit Yosef, Yoreh Deah 240). This is logical considering the mitzva from the Torah (Yayikra 19:32) to stand before old people and scholars (Kiddushin 32b).
R. Yannai (ibid. 33b) says that a talmid chacham is not permitted to stand for his rebbe more than once in the morning and in the evening to avoid giving to him more honor than to Hashem. The
The Rama (YD 242:16) accepts R. Yannai, but not according to its simple reading; one is not obligated more than twice a day, but he may do more (see Darchei Moshe YD 242:11; Semag, Aseh 13). Most Acharonim (see Chayei Adam 67:7; Shevet Halevi II:111; Yalkut Yosef ibid.) assume that the exemption applies to parents also. The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 240:24) suggests that the obligation to stand for one’s parent may exceed that toward his rebbe. (I believe, but cannot develop here, that according to the Rambam’s presentation of the case in which it is not permitted to stand more than twice a day, it does not apply to parents. Also note that the Rama rules that when one is among people who did not see him stand previously, he must stand again.)
It is difficult to demonstrate how the Rama’s opinion would justify the common practice of laxity about standing up for parents. After all, do people think about whether they already stood for their parent that day? The Rama can still help, depending on the following chakira about his opinion. Must one stand at the first opportunity of the day, after which there is an exemption, or should there just be a mode of behavior in which he is expected to stand roughly once in the morning and once at night? This might depend on if standing is part of the positive kibbud, making the exact timing less crucial, or the more negative mora, in which case without an exemption, remaining seated is an aveira (Yalkut Yosef ibid. is unsure to which category it applies). This, of course, helps only if the child stands with some regularity, which is not always be the case.
Another minimizing opinion found in the Aruch Hashulchan (ibid.) is that standing only applies when a parent comes in from outside the house, not when he moves from place to place in the home.
The most plausible explanation for the practice of laxity is the idea that a parent can be mochel (waive rights to) kibbud (Kiddushin 32a). (Regarding being mochel requirements of mora, see Living the Halachic Process III, G-4.) In our times, parents do not usually expect their children to stand up in their honor and often do not find it to even be positive. If that is the case in a specific household, then the child is indeed not required to stand.
Let us clarify a few things. Even after their mechila, it is a mitzva to stand for parents (Pitchei Teshuva, YD 240:16). Some say that one has to make some gesture of respectful acknowledgement (see Kiddushin 32b). If the reason parents are mochel starts from the children (i.e., the parents are so used to their not standing that they no longer demand or expect), this is not a good thing. Therefore, it is, in most cases, better for children (of all ages) who try to do things properly to stand for their parents more than is presently common.
Beracha on Pureed Vegetable SoupI read your recent response about the beracha on the broth of vegetable soup. Is the halacha any different for pureed vegetable soup?
You will remember that according to most fundamental approaches, based on the gemara (Berachot 39a), the beracha on the clear broth of vegetable soup is Borei Pri Ha’adama. On the other hand, there are enough factors against saying Ha’adama to convince most contemporary poskim to prefer Shehakol. Pureed soup shares certain factors, but other factors point in different directions.
We dealt with an apparent contradiction with the gemara (ibid. 38a) that says that the beracha on most fruit juices is Shehakol. Another reason to not make Ha’adama on vegetable soup broth is the contention of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and others that these soups often lack sufficient vegetable taste to justify it. These issues do not apply to pureed soup because one is not consuming just the juice/broth but the whole essence and taste of the vegetables.
However, in another way, the situation points more toward Shehakol than toward Ha’adama. We saw the Rosh (Shut 4:15) who says that the broth’s beracha is Ha’adama when and because it is normal for people to cook the vegetables to eat them. The broth is thus dependent on the vegetables, which generally exist even if one is eating only the broth. In this case, though, the vegetables cease to exist as a solid, clearly recognizable entity. V’zot Haberacha (p. 404) entertains the possibility that the beracha should be determined as Ha’adama when it was cooked, before it was pureed. However, he concludes that we follow the form in which it is eaten, certainly when the intention when cooking it was to puree it before eating. Since the soup is actually a semi-liquefied form of mashed vegetables, it is necessary to determine what the beracha is on mashed vegetables.
The gemara (Berachot 38a) says that when one takes dates and crushes them into terima, their beracha remains Borei Pri Ha’etz. What is terima? The Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 202:7) say it is totally crushed to the point that it is “like dough,” and yet the beracha is unchanged. The same should apparently apply to a mashed vegetable. On the other hand, Rashi (ad loc.) says that terima is only partially crushed, and based on this, the Terumat Hadeshen (29) and Rama (OC 202:7) say that mashed fruit (and presumably vegetables) should get the safer beracha of Shehakol. This does not necessarily turn into a clear machloket between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, as the Rama says that if one recited the beracha of the fruit/vegetable he can assume he was yotzei. Sephardi poskim also disagree whether to follow the Shulchan Aruch or to also make the safer Shehakol in light of this machloket Rishonim (see V’zot Haberacha, p. 99, Birkat Hashem 7:26-29).
Based on the above, we should, on the practical level, distinguish between different levels of puree. If the vegetables are pulverized to the point that there are no or few pieces of discernable vegetables, even if the soup is thick, then the more accepted beracha is Shehakol. However, if the soup is lumpy, then the beracha should be Ha’adama (V’ten Beracha (Bodner), p. 434). This distinction is similar to what many say regarding types of apple sauce and peanut butter. Those who make Ha’adama even for smooth pureed soup have what to rely upon, especially considering the fact that the stronger fundamental opinion regarding mashed potatoes, even if this not usually suggested, is to recite Ha’adama (see Mishna Berura 202:42).Another logical distinction within the case of totally crushed vegetables is whether they are still recognizable based on their characteristics, which is a major reason to warrant Ha’adama (see Birkat Hashem, p. 404-6). It would seem then that if the pureed soup has several vegetables that form its basis, then it is more difficult to recognize its component parts and harder to justify reciting Ha’adama unless there are many small pieces.
Beracha on a Newly Renovated HomeIf I did major renovations in my home, do I recite Shehecheyanu on it?
The mishna (Berachot 54a) says that one who builds a new house or buys new “utensils” recites Shehecheyanu. While the gemara (ibid. 59b-60a) cites an opinion that this beracha is only for the first such acquisition, which would exclude the possibility of a beracha on renovations, we follow the opinion that it applies even if one built a second house (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 223:3).
But are renovations comparable to a new house? The gemara in Sota (mishna, 43a; gemara, 44a) discusses the halacha that one who builds a new house that he has not inaugurated returns from the battlefield. The first opinion identifies building projects on his property that do not qualify as building a house. Rabbi Yehuda says that even if one rebuilt the house on its previous site, he does not return from battle. However, the gemara posits that extending the house’s height does qualify. The Mishna Berura (223:12) says that this serves as a halachic precedent for Shehecheyanu as well. Contemporary poskim (see Halichot Shlomo 23:14 in the name of Rav S.Z. Auerbach and V’zot Haberacha, p. 166 in the name of Rav M. Eliyahu) assume the same is true for any significant extension of the house, even without acquiring new land. However, renovations that do not include expansion, but just improvement of the house’s appearance or functionality, are not comparable to building or buying and do not warrant a beracha (ibid.). The time for the beracha is when the new area is ready to be used, which coincides with the time for attaching a mezuza (V’zot Haberacha ibid.). (We are not relating to the new furniture that often accompanies renovations, which itself likely warrants a beracha.)
A few factors could raise questions about the beracha. The first is that there is a minhag cited by several Sephardi poskim to not make a beracha on a new house. It is hard to determine this minhag’s exact origin, reason, and extent. The Pri Megadim (223, Mishbetzot Zahav 4), who is Ashkenazi, suggest that there is a minhag to not make Shehechiyanu on clothes and utensils, and he suggests that these people must rely on the opinion that Shehechiyanu for such events is merely optional. The Ben Ish Chai (I, R’ei 5-6) is not impressed by this logic, but he confirms the minhag concerning a new house. He recommends solving the problem by following a different minhag. One makes a chanukat habayit upon entering the house, at which point he wears a new garment and recites Shehecheyanu with intention for the house in addition to the garment. I do not know if there is such a minhag of a chanukat habayit for renovations. However, those who want to follow the minhag, as opposed to the established halacha to make the beracha (Yalkut Yosef 223:2 and Birkat Hashem 2:57 do not believe the minhag should uproot it), can solve the issue with a new garment.
Rav Chayim Palagi and the Kaf Hachayim (OC 223:18) say that one who bought a house on credit does not make a beracha because of the trouble he may have paying up and the possibility he might have to return it to the seller. Besides the strong questions on the basic opinion (see Birkat Hashem 2:(250)), the situation is uncommon regarding renovations, as even one who takes loans for that purpose rarely is nervous about his ability to pay, and the renovations will not be “returned”.
Is Shecheyanu the correct beracha? The rule is that for acquisitions that benefit more than one person, Shehechyanu is replaced by Hatov V’hameitiv (Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 5). The gemara talks about buying a house with a partner, but this also applies to family members (see Shulchan Aruch ibid. and Be’ur Halacha to 223:3). If there is a question of doubt between the two berachot, Shehecheyanu is the safer one, as it can work even when Hatov V’hameitiv is appropriate (Be’ur Halacha to 223:5). This is apparent from those (including above) who suggest using the beracha on new clothes to cover the beracha on a new house.
Using a Shabbat Clock for an UrnMy hot water urn has a Shabbat setting, in which the water is heated at a constant level and the switch for boiling the water is disabled. The socket where I plug it in is on a Shabbat clock that is off at night. When it goes on in the morning, the water that has become cold heats back up. Is that permitted?
Although we accept the opinions among Rishonim that it is forbidden to reheat boiled water that has cooled down (Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chayim 318:4,15), you would not be considered cooking since this is done automatically.
The question is whether your setup violates the Rabbinical prohibitions of shehiya or chazara. Shehiya, leaving food on the flame from before Shabbat, is sometimes forbidden, out of a concern one will raise the heat. It is permitted if the heat source is covered in a way that reduces its efficiency (Shulchan Aruch, OC 253:1) or (likely) regarding a non-adjustable heat source (Hilchot Shabbat (Eider), p. 340). However, neither lenient factor exists here (one can raise the heat from Shabbat to normal mode). It is usually permitted to use this urn when the water has already been boiled, as further boiling causes unwanted evaporation (see Shulchan Aruch ibid.). Your case could possibly be more problematic since one may desire the extra heat to heat the cold water.
Chazara, returning food on Shabbat that had been removed from the heat, has more stringency, including that it is forbidden on a normal, adjustable heat source even if raising the temperature is detrimental (ibid. 2). Is your case considered chazara, considering that the heat is returned to function by a machine rather than a person? The answer may depend on the reason of the stringency of chazara. Rabbeinu Tam says it is a heightened concern one will raise the heat since the food was returned after time off the flame. The Ran says that returning cooked food to a heat source can be confused with cooking. In this case, Rabbeinu Tam’s reason seems to apply, while the Ran’s does not since you do nothing on Shabbat.
Let us examine discussion about a parallel case. The Pri Megadim (OC, EA 253:41) and the Chazon Ish (OC 37:21) wonder about the permissibility of various cases similar to what the Rama (OC 253:5) allows. A non-Jew may put, on Shabbat morning, cold cooked food near a fireplace, which a non-Jew will be permitted to light due to the great cold, thereby also heating the food. Why are we not concerned that after the fireplace is on, a Jew will stoke the coals? The Pri Megadim suggests that this must rely on the opinion that reheating liquids is permitted, and so too the reheating is not significant enough to prompt one to stoke the coals. The Chazon Ish gives a few possible answers. One is that we treat a case where the food is put down when there is no heat as equivalent to shehiya. This helps since the Chazon Ish claims elsewhere (37:27) that the concern of raising the flame regarding shehiya does not apply to fully cooked food even if it is now cold. On the other hand, reheating cooled water may be worse than reheating other cooked foods (Orchot Shabbat 2:(11)). There is further room for leniency considering that Shabbat started with the urn operating and there was no action since then (see Am Mordechai, Shabbat, p. 51). Still, the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata () is stringent when the water has cooled off totally, and the Orchot Shabbat (2:(49)) is uncertain.
Your urn has a feature that provides further grounds for leniency – when the Shabbat mode is on, one cannot raise the heat. This is similar, in some ways, to one who seals an oven where food is heating, which is permitted even though the seal can be removed (Shabbat 18b). It is unclear if the Shabbat-mode button that is deactivated by a simple press is sufficient deterrent (see cases in Orchot Shabbat -19). It is also unclear if this leniency applies when elements of chazara exist (see ibid. 55). However, combining this factor along with the aforementioned grounds for leniency, it is not difficult to justify leniency.
Joining Pieces of Dough for Obligation of Hafrashat ChallaIf I make cookies and cupcakes one evening, do the different pieces of dough combine to form an amount that obligates hafrashas challa (the removal of a piece to, in theory, be given to a kohen)?
First we should point out that you appear to be aware of that which not all know – cookies and cake may need hafrashat challa. Even though the Torah refers basically to bread, cookies and cake made from the classic types of grain (especially, wheat) are closely enough related to the bread family to be obligated in hafrashat challa if either the dough is thick or the batter is baked rather than cooked (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 329:1).
The Torah describes the giving of challa as something which is taken from dough (arisoteichem – Bamidbar ). Classically, the requisite amount of dough (over 2lbs./ I kilo of flour – we will not get into all the opinions of the exact amount needed for hafrasha with and without a beracha) is present at the time there is one dough. One big dough can indeed be made into many cookies or loafs of bread afterward without affecting the obligation. However, we will briefly see that a big piece of dough does not always require hafrashat challa, and many smaller pieces of dough are not always exempt. A lot has to do with the plans one has for what to do with the dough in the baking process. For example, if the big piece of dough was made with the intention to be given out to different people before being baked, each one of which was to be less than the requisite amount for challa, hafrasha is not required (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 326:2). On the other hand, if one makes smaller amounts of dough at different times and then brings them together at a later time, then under certain circumstances the existence of an obligation of hafrashat challa is determined by the combined amount (ibid. 325:1). What the physical situation needs to be in order for the smaller pieces of dough to be joined is slightly involved (see ibid.). As we will see, that point is not necessary to answer your question, which we will now address.
The mishna (Challa 4:1) says that if two women make loaves of dough of the same type (i.e., from the same grain) and each one is not big enough to require challa taken, then even if the loaves touch each other, they do not combine to create an obligation of hafrashat challa. If one woman owned the two loaves, then they do combine to obligate her to give challa. The Yerushalmi (ad loc.) explains that it is not the ownership per se that is the issue, but the feasibility of the two pieces of dough being combined without anyone’s objection. One woman would usually have no issues about mixing between the two pieces of dough, whereas regarding two people, the assumption is that each one will want to keep that which is their own. The Yerushalmi goes on to give examples of when we can expect that even one owner would not want to mix the pieces of dough, e.g., if one piece is from “clean flour” and the other from unprocessed flour.
Indeed, when the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 326:1) codifies these concepts, he says that if an individual does not want the two pieces of dough to be mixed one with the other, then they do not combine to be obligated in challa. Regarding cookies and cupcakes, it seems self-evident that one would not want to mix the two, as they are quite different one from the other. In fact, it is not really feasible to do so as the former is dough and the latter is batter. Therefore, it is clear that if neither the cookie dough nor the cupcake batter has a sufficient amount of volume to be obligated in challa, then even if you want to connect them in a manner that would work for two similar loafs of dough, in this case there would not be an obligation of hafrashat challa.
Beracha on Vegetable SoupWhat beracha do I make on vegetable soup when I consume just the broth? What beracha do I make on vegetable soup when I consume just the broth?
We will not presently discuss soup with mezonot elements (e.g., croutons, noodles), which complicates matters.)
The gemara (Berachot 39a) says that the “water of boiled vegetables [has the same beracha] as the vegetables (i.e., Borei Pri Ha’adama).” Therefore, we would think that this clearly answers your question. However, the Rishonim are bothered by an apparent contradiction, as the gemara (ibid. 38a) says that the beracha of most fruit juices is Shehakol. The distinctions various opinions provide are crucial to answering your question.
The Rashba (Berachot 38a) says that the gemara refers to vegetables that are normally eaten cooked, whereas fruit are normally eaten whole and not as juice. The Rosh (Berachot 6:18) says that cooking provides more qualitative taste of the source food than squeezing.
Another factor is the focus on the vegetables vs. on the broth. The Rosh (Shut 4:15) says that the broth “deserves” Ha’adama when it is normal for most people to cook the vegetables to eat them. (The Mishna Berura (205:10) seemingly cites this opinion as requiring the individual to cook it with the intention to eat the vegetables). The Rambam (Berachot 8:4) puts the stress in the other direction – if one has in mind when cooking to drink the broth, the broth is important enough to merit Ha’adama. The simple reading of these Rishonim (V’zot Heberacha, p. 270 cites dissenters, but apparently overstates their strength) is that when one has in mind to both eat the cooked vegetables and drink the broth, Ha’adama is appropriate for both elements. (One beracha suffices when they are eaten together.) Thus, the classic ruling is that on soup that is based entirely on vegetables, which are normal to be used for making soup, the beracha is Ha’adama, even on the broth (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 205:2), and my recollection of the minhag where/when I grew up was like that.
On the other hand, several classical and contemporary Acharonim advise against this ruling, based on other opinions and possible distinctions, as follows. The Mordechai (cited by the Magen Avraham 205:6) says that only vegetable broth that is used for dipping foods warrants Ha’adama. The Ra’ah (cited, but rejected, by the Mishna Berura (Sha’ar Hatziyun 202:66)) and other important but minority Rishonim understand the gemara statement that water of boiled vegetables has the same beracha as the vegetables as just meaning that the beracha made on the soup’s vegetables covers the broth, but if the broth is eaten alone, one recites Shehakol. This was enough for some poskim, including the Kaf Hachayim (OC 205:11; see Birkat Hashem 7:20), to invoke the rule that we avoid “going out on a limb” regarding berachot. The common application is to refrain from a beracha when it is unclear if it is warranted. Here its application is that since Shehakol works after-the-fact for all foods, whereas Ha’adama is ineffective for a food whose beracha should be Shehakol, we recite Shehakol in a case of doubt between the two.
Important contemporary poskim (see V’zot Haberacha p. 270 in the name of Rav Auerbach; Rav Elyashiv reportedly agreed) claimed that the vegetables in today’s soup often do not provide discernible enough taste to make the majority water worthy of the beracha of Ha’adama. (Some cite the precedent that the beracha on beer is Shehakol rather than Mezonot.) Although I view most vegetable soups I have eaten as full of vegetable taste, these opinions push the direction of practice toward reciting the “safer” Shehakol on the broth of vegetable soup. (When one eats the soup’s vegetables as well (at least a significant amount of them – see V’zot Haberacha, p. 119) the consensus is that Ha’adama covers the broth too (see Sha’ar Hatziyun 205:66).) However, one whose practice has always been to recite Ha’adama on the broth is not wrong if he continues, as this is the fundamentally stronger opinion, which is still followed by significant authorities.
Immoral Commercial Practices?I want to ask about two elements of my business venture. 1. Our products have a large profit margin (often five times their cost to us), but this is in accordance with their market price on the US market. 2. Like many others, we use high-pressure sales tactics in our marketing. Are these ethical/halachic problems?
We are very pleased that you care and ask about the propriety of business tactics that apparently are earning you significant money. We will discuss some basics, which you can try to apply to your business, and/or you can ask us more specific questions.
1. The gemara (Bava Batra 90a; Bava Metzia 40b) states that a salesman should not have a profit margin of more than one sixth above the price at which he received the product. This is surprising considering that the prohibition of ona’ah (mispricing) focuses on straying significantly (a sixth) from the market price; profit margin does not arise in that context.
Actually, several classical statements limit the scope of the restriction on profit margin. The gemara points out that the said profit margin is applied after one factors in expenses and the intensity of the salesman’s labor. The Rambam (Mechira 14:1) limits the restriction to staple foods, as opposed to luxuries (an attempt at itemization is beyond our scope). More fundamentally, he says that the profit margin is not an obligation of the individual but of beit din to enforce proper pricing policy. The Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 231), following those lines, says that if beit din is unable to enforce their goal price, then an individual proprietor is not restricted to a price level that his competitors are not following. On the other hand, the Aruch Hashulchan (CM 331:20) says that if beit din feels that by some merchants conforming, others will be forced to follow suit, they should demand compliance from those who will listen.
2. There is a parallel to high-pressure sales tactics– someone who pressures the owner of an object who does not want to sell it to do so. This practice is actually forbidden by the last of the Ten Commandments – lo tachmod (do not covet). The desire to have someone’s object, which culminates in pressuring him to sell it, even at a fair price to which he agrees, is forbidden (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 359:9). Some claim that the prohibition applies in the opposite direction – to pressure someone to buy that which he does not want to buy (Pitchei Choshen, Geneiva 1:(26), article by prominent business ethicist, Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine). I find it somewhat difficult to accept that we can make an exact comparison between the cases without classical sources, especially considering that the prohibition begins with the desire for his counterpart’s specific possession (e.g., his wife). However, it seems perfectly logical that on, some level, there is an overlap in the impropriety.
There are classical sources that forbid practices that have a strong comparison to high-pressure sales techniques. It is forbidden to trick someone into buying something he otherwise would not want by making it look better than it really is (see examples in Bava Metzia 60a-b; Shulchan Aruch, CM 228:9), apparently even when the product is not overpriced (see Pitchei Choshen, Ona’ah 15:15). Thus, psychological techniques that cause one to buy something that, when left to his own better judgment, he would refuse is forbidden. This should apply to high pressure as well.
The combination of the two factors about which you ask is particularly troubling. One wonders why the forces of supply and demand do not lower the profit margin. One answer is that the prevalence of manipulation artificially raises the price, which is, in many cases, forbidden (see Shulchan Aruch, CM 231:21), and should bother someone of your moral sensitivity. However, if you can sell the items at the standard, albeit high, price without pressure, it is permitted. If you sell at a modestly lower price, you likely will be able to sell enough to make a healthy living without moral/halachic problems.
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