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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.
Raising Charitable Funds on ShabbatI am one of the organizers of a charity that provides free transportation for a broad spectrum of underprivileged New Yorkers. May I try to drum up support for it among fellow Jews I see on Shabbat?
In general it is forbidden to discuss monetary matters and prohibited activities on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 306). This is derived from the pasuk (Yeshaya 58:13, so that this is a Rabbinic, not a Torah-level, law) about the proper atmosphere of Shabbat, which requires refraining from “metzo cheftzecha v’daber davar” (tending to your interests and speaking of [forbidden] matters). However, the gemara (Shabbat 150a) derived that only “your interests” are forbidden, whereas “interests of heaven” are permitted. It is thus permitted to discuss money and other actions forbidden on Shabbat in the context of plans for mitzvot. Generally, mitzva opportunities do not override Rabbinic prohibitions. Rather, metzo cheftzecha and daber davar are lesser prohibitions (see Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 306:12). Furthermore, there is likely a more sweeping distinction. Metzo cheftzecha and daber davar are context-oriented, rather than objective Rabbinical prohibitions, so that if the activity is for the sake of a mitzva, the context is appropriate for Shabbat.
Among the mitzvot that are explicitly mentioned as justifying discussing money (Shabbat 150a, Shulchan Aruch, OC 306:6) is pledging money for tzedaka. The Ran (Shabbat, ad loc.) is surprised by this application of the heter of interests of heaven. After all, the mishna (Beitza 36b) says that it is forbidden to be makdish (donate to the Beit Hamikdash) on Shabbat because this can be confused with commercial activity. Ostensibly, this should also apply to pledging to charity. The Ran answers that the prohibition of making hekdesh refers to specific objects, whose transfer to hekdesh is more similar to a monetary transaction than a pledge to charity is. The Beit Yosef (OC 306) extends the distinction and points out that even pledging an object to a shul or the like is different from hekdesh, for in the latter the pledge takes effect immediately.
There are times when one may get involved in semi-commercial discussion but is not allowed to mention a sum of money (see Shulchan Aruch ibid., Rama ibid. 3). However, in regard to tzedaka pledges, the pledges may include specific amounts (Rama ibid. 6; Mishna Berura 306:33; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 29:55). Of course, if one is allowed to make pledges, then it is also permitted to try to interest people in doing so.
The non-profit organization you are, baruch Hashem, involved in serves a cross-section of the
Paying a Poor Person’s Guaranteed Loan from Ma’aser MoneyMy shul has a gemach, which gives loans only with an arev (guarantor). One borrower (Reuven) came into serious financial and medical problems some time after the loan. Realizing that he was not going be able to pay, some friends decided to pay the loan for him, and they want to use for this purpose their ma’aser kesafim money (a personal tzedaka fund, consisting of a tenth of one’s income). The question arose: since the arev (Shimon) will have to pay, given that the borrower cannot, and the arev is not poor, the donors are actually not sparing the poor but the “rich,” and therefore can ma’aser money be used?
This is a case where halachic intuition screams from the outset that it must be permitted to use ma’aser money, as the money is being given with the intention to help Reuven. We now aim to provide specific reasons why the intuition is indeed correct.
We begin with a simple halacha. After a guarantor has, based on the agreed terms, paid the loan back instead of the borrower, the borrower is required to reimburse him (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 130:1). This halacha impacts on our question in two ways. First, on the practical level, the donors are extricating Reuven from debt, whether you view it as the present debt to the gemach, or the future one to the arev.
Perhaps more significantly, the above and other halachot are instructive in understanding the nature of the mutual obligations when a borrower is unable to pay and an arev is called on to do so. It is not that the arev turns into the borrower, as the borrower remains obligated. Therefore, if the donors pay, they will be paying and relieving Reuven’s debt. The fact that practically this will benefit Shimon greatly does not cancel the tzedaka toward Reuven.
Under certain circumstances, there are additional reasons. Let’s assume Shimon took the responsibility as a chesed (not for some personal gain) and planned that if Reuven would be unable to pay, he would count his payment of the loan as tzedaka/ma’aser, as he may (see Tzedaka U’mishpat 5:(50)). If so, if the new donors relieve Shimon of paying, they are saving money for Shimon’s ma’aser fund, which is in effect a donation to it. While we usually thinking of giving our ma’aser kesafim to poor individuals or official NPOs, one can give (or, as in the case, give, in effect) his ma’aser money to someone else’s ma’aser fund. Thus, even if one views it (incorrectly, in our opinion, as above) as giving money on behalf of Shimon, it could still be considered giving it to his ma’aser fund.
Another way of looking at the donation as a valid use of ma’aser is to simply look at the donors’ actions as replacing the existing guarantor. While one could claim that this was an unnecessary gesture, as Shimon does not need to be replaced, in the final analysis, the donors are paying for Reuven, as Shimon had been prepared to do. So if, as we posited, Shimon could consider his payment as a legitimate tzedaka outlay (even though he originally hoped not to), certainly the new donors, who are acting in at least as altruistic a manner as Shimon, can consider it such.
Finally, it may be possible to give the money as a donation to the shul’s gemach, as they are actually giving it, just doing so on condition that the gemach will let their friend “off the hook.” This is not far-fetched. After all, the gemach is not interested, despite the requirement of an arev, in forcing payment from one with extreme difficulty paying. Rather, they are concerned that if they let people off too lightly, they will lose the ability to continue lending to others in the future. The new donors are assuring the gemach that they can forgive Reuven because the donors are replenishing their resources commensurately.Thus, we have been able to find five constructs to support the intuitive conviction that the donors’ philanthropy should be considered a proper use of tzedaka funds. However, we would point out that the first two constructs are the most straightforward truths.
Chanuka Candles and Havdala – Which Comes First?I never got a clear answer as to whether, on Motzaei Shabbat, we light Chanuka candles before or after Havdala. Can you clarify the matter?
In terms of practice, we can clarify only a few things. The minhag in shuls is to light Chanuka candles first (based on Terumat Hadeshen 60, Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chayim 681:2). Regarding the home, Sephardim do Havdala before Chanuka candles (Kaf Hachayim, OC 681:4; Yalkut Yosef; Mikraei Kodesh (Harari), Chanuka ). Among Ashkenazim, some schools of thought have clear rulings (which vary one from another); we will not provide lists of the opinions. However, the standard approach, to which we subscribe is that this is a case where one may follow the approach he wants (see Mishna Berura 681:3). We note that not only are both approaches well grounded, but also the question is only of preference; following the “incorrect” approach is not a “violation.” We will survey some of the indications presented by prominent protagonists.
The Terumat Hadeshen’s reason for lighting Chanuka candles first is the gemara’s (Pesachim 105b) concept that we delay Havdala (i.e., put it at the end of the series of berachot) and, thereby, the exit of Shabbat, so that Shabbat not appear as a burden. The Taz (OC 281:1) counters the Terumat Hadeshen’s assumptions on two fronts. First, he argues that tadir kodem – a more common beracha is recited before a less common one – is a stronger factor than delaying the end of Shabbat. Additionally, argues the Taz, doing Chanuka candles before Havdala is not even a correct application of delaying the end of Shabbat. This is because lighting candles itself contradicts the continuation of Shabbat, for if it were still Shabbat, lighting a candle would be forbidden.
The following discussion in Tosafot (Shabbat 23b) can shed light on the relative strength of the factor of tadir kodem. The gemara says that if one has enough money only for Chanuka candles or wine for Kiddush (which is more tadir), Chanuka has precedence because pirsumei nisa (publicizing the miracle) is more important. Tosafot asks why, regarding Rosh Chodesh on Chanuka, we read the haftrara of Chanuka, yet read the Torah portion of Rosh Chodesh before that of Chanuka. Tosafot’s first answer, which the Taz cites as support, is that the advantage of pirsumei nisa prevails when only one of the mitzvot can be fulfilled, whereas tadir kodem is the key factor regarding the order when both are done. However, points out the Eliyah Rabba (681:1), Tosafot’s other two answers diminish the importance of pirsumei nisa only regarding the Torah/haftara readings. This implies that when pirsumei nisa applies, as it does to Chanuka candles, it has order precedence over the more common Havdala.
R. Yaakov Emden (Mor U’ktzi’ah 681) rejects the Taz’s claim that lighting Chanuka candles contradicts the idea of delaying Havdala/end of Shabbat. He points out that after Havdala in davening or Hamavdil, we are allowed to do work (including Yom Tov candles and Borei Me’ore Ha’eish) before doing Havdala over wine, and yet we delay the beracha of Havdala.
Some cite a proof that Chanuka lighting precedes Havdala from the Yerushalmi (cited by the Shulchan Aruch, OC 581:1), that one should not use the Chanuka candles for Borei Me’ore Ha’eish. This implies that the Chanuka candles are lit first.
Is there any logic, other than minhag, to switch the orders in shul and at home, as Sephardim and some Ashkenazim do? The Maharal (Ner Mitzva, p. 28) cites, as a reason to do Havdala first, the concern that one who one did not say Havdala in Shemoneh Esrei will light in violation of Shabbat. The Eliya Rabba points out that in shul, we trust that the person appointed to light will be a diligent person who will not forget. It is also possible that since pirsumei nisa is a heightened element and exists for a shorter time in shul, we do it as soon as possible. The Kaf Hachayim (681:4) claims that after men have heard Havdala in shul, delaying the one at home is less important.
Melaveh Malka for WomenMy husband is careful to have a melaveh malka that includes bread and meat. I do not have at all. Should there be a difference between men and women on the matter?
The gemara (Shabbat 119b, accepted by the Rambam, Shabbat 30:5 and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 300:1) says: “One should always set his table on Motzaei Shabbat, even if he needs only a k’zayit [of food].” Rashi explains that it is an honor to Shabbat to “escort” it as one escorts a king when he leaves. Various authorities add other, esoteric reasons. A crucial (including for techiyat hameitim) bone in the body is nourished by food eaten on Motzaei Shabbat (Beit Yosef, OC 300 in the name of ancient works). Another idea is that eating after Shabbat draws the sanctity of Shabbat meals onto weekday eating (see Kaf Hachayim, OC 300:2). Some say it is a segula for women for easy childbirth (see Kaf Hachayim 300:4). However, melaveh malka has a long history of not being kept by the masses, as acknowledged by authorities who nonetheless believed in adhering to it (see Aruch Hashulchan, OC 300:3).
It is unclear to what extent melaveh malka is a weak but binding obligation, a proper practice (see Shulchan Aruch Harav OC 300:3; Mishna Berura 300:2), and/or a spiritual opportunity. It is also tricky to implement melaveh malka because there are many things mentioned by one or more poskim to enhance the practice (we will mention only some). The gemara, after the above quote, mentions both (hot) bread and meat, which some, like your husband, see as matters to be makpid about (see Maharsha Shabbat 119b; Mishna Berura 300:1).
The gemara implies (as the Taz, OC 300:1 understood) that the main factor is actually the setting of the table, and the food seems an afterthought (“even … a k’zayit”) or that which makes the table “the stage.” Many people who are machmir regarding eating ignore such elements mentioned by poskim as a nice tablecloth, place setting, and candles – matters of kavod modeled after Shabbat. On the other hand, some of the reasons given for melaveh malka do indeed focused on food, as does the ensuing passages of the gemara.
Some hiddurim mentioned are close to mutually exclusive. It is best to have melaveh malka soon after Shabbat; yet, it is best to cook for it after Shabbat. One idea is to eat something right away for melaveh malka, with Shabbat ambience, and have more serious eating later (Siddur Beit Yaakov (Emdin) p. 206b).
Is there room for leniency not to have a melaveh malka? Besides the possibility that it is not halachically required, there is a serious opinion (Eliya Rabba 300:1, quoted by many; see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 63:6) that any eating at seuda shlishit after nightfall (whose exact time is unclear) counts as a melaveh malka. The Tehilla L’Dovid’s (300:1) cogent argument that since we treat that time as Shabbat, it cannot count for melaveh malka does not delegitimize the lenient shita (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 63:6). Many poskim (including the Mishna Berura 300:1) say that one can fulfill melaveh malka without a full meal, even with fruit, as makes sense from the legitimacy of doing so for the greater obligation of seuda shlishit (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 291:5).
Women do have some extra room for leniency because melaveh malka is ostensibly a time-based mitzva (see doubt of Pri Megadim 300, EA 1). On the other hand, we assume that women are obligated in such mitzvot when they relate to Shabbat, i.e., Havdala and seuda shlishit (Machatzit Hashekel ad loc., based on Magen Avraham 291:11), as all agree regarding Kiddush (Berachot 20b). Furthermore, many women will presumably desire and deserve their share of the aforementioned spiritual treasures (see Kaf Hachayim 300:2).
In summary, your husband’s practices are positive, although there is room for doing more or doing less. You do have incrementally more room for leniency than he. However, we recommend that you have at least some food in an honorable setting in honor of Shabbat after it has departed (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 63:3).
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