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Making Food in Fleishig Pot to Transfer into Other UtensilsSometimes I want to make a big pareve vegetable soup in a meat pot (my largest) and later put some of it in milchig or pareve pots or bowls. Is this permissible?
Questions of nat bar nat (twice removed taste, i.e., food into pot and then pot into food) are often complex due to the multiple permutations of l’chatchila (proper action) and b’dieved (after the fact). Let us proceed from rules to details.
Amoraim dispute whether pareve food that was placed while hot on a fleishig utensil can be eaten with milk, and we rule leniently (Chulin 111a). Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 95:1) rules that one may mix pareve food cooked in a fleishig pot (nat bar nat of fleishig) into milchig food. However, the Rama (whom Ashkenazim follow) rules that cooking food in a fleishig pot is more severe than simply placing hot food in a utensil. He says that in the former case, the originally pareve food may not be mixed in with milchig food (ad loc. 2).
However, the Rama incorporates a few leniencies. If the food cooked in the fleishig pot was subsequently mixed into milchig food, it may be eaten, b’dieved. Also, the pareve food may l’chatchila be placed hot into a milchig utensil without affecting the status of the pot or the food (ibid.). Thus, the soup you describe may be placed in a milchig pot or bowl.
However, there is a complicating factor – a further level of l’chatchila. The Beit Yosef cites several Rishonim who say that one may not set up l’chatchila a situation of nat bar nat. While his final opinion is unclear, most prominent Sephardi poskim (see Kaf Hachayaim, YD 95:1) say that one should not put hot pareve food in a fleishig pot if he intends to subsequently mix it in with milchig. The question is whether there are other cases where a food would be treated as pareve, b’dieved, but should not be “created” in that way.
One case in point is when a fleishig pot has not been used for fleishig within the 24 hours before the pareve use. The Rama says that in such a case, the resulting food is pareve enough to mix in with milchig. The Gra (95:10) says that in such a case it is even permitted to l’chatchila cook the pareve in that fleishig pot with intention to mix it in with milchig. However, the Chochmat Adam (48:2) says that one should not cook it in the fleishig pot with that intention, and this is the more accepted position.
Regarding your first specific question, making the soup in a fleishig pot with intention to put it into a milchig pot, there is a machloket among the Acharonim. Among the earlier authorities, the Bach allows it, and the Pri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav 95:4) forbids it. Amongst contemporary authorities, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, YD
In cases where there is an additional reason for leniency, one can be lenient freely. One is the second case you ask about – where the second utensil is itself pareve, not milchig. Since nothing can go wrong to the food in this utensil, and it is just a question of making the utensil fleishig, we do not have to go so far in our concern. It also makes sense that if the fleishig pot has not been used in 24 hours, it is permissible to cook in it with the intention of putting the food in a milchig pot.
It is important to realize in questions such as these that “all bets are off” if one is dealing with onions or other sharp vegetables that were sautéed in the fleishig pot or cut with a fleishig knife (Rama, ibid.). The details are beyond our present scope.
Does Acknowledging Lag Ba’omer Count as Counting?If one mentions, before counting omer, that “Tonight is Lag Ba’omer” (= the statement), can he subsequently count with a beracha?
This is one of the cases where we prefer to not have fulfilled a mitzva, so that we can perform it properly with a beracha. While the statement includes the basic elements needed to fulfill the mitzva of sefirat ha’omer, it may not do so for a few reasons.
First, there is an unresolved machloket whether gematria, which is a secondary but accepted way of expressing numbers, is valid for sefirat ha’omer (see Sha’arei Teshuva 489:6; see applications in Living the Halachic Process, I:D-19). The statement (Lag) is thus questionable for fulfilling the mitzva.
Second, the weeks are not mentioned. Acharonim debate whether one who has mentioned only days, after day seven, has completed his mitzva. The matter relates to Ameimar’s opinion (Menachot 66a) that there is no need to count weeks at a time that there is no Beit Hamikdash in which to offer the korban omer. The Mishna Berura (489:7) concludes that one who says just the days should count again, but this ruling lacks the level of certainty to justify a new beracha (see Sha’ar Hatziyun 489:9). (According to Eliya Rabba (489:14), the full force of missing weeks applies only on days when the number of weeks changes – e.g., 28, 35).
The strongest reason to disregard the statement’s impact is that it is almost certainly said while not having in mind to fulfill the mitzva of sefirat ha’omer. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 60:4) rules that one does not fulfill a mitzva without intent to do so, and therefore the statement should not prevent one from counting afterwards with a beracha. However, the following halacha in the Shulchan Aruch (OC 489:4) seems to contradict this. If one is asked before counting what day of the omer it is, he should answer what day yesterday was, for stating the current day compromises his ability to count later with a beracha. The Taz (489:7) says that the Shulchan Aruch must mean that avoiding saying the day’s count is just a stringency, but, due to the lack of intention, he would b’dieved count with a beracha later anyway. Yet many point out that the Taz’s claim does not fit the Shulchan Aruch’s language. The Magen Avraham (489:8) says that one would not make a beracha because of the opinion that intention is not critical, and some say that sefirat ha’omer is fulfilled without intention because it is only a Rabbinic obligation (see Yechaveh Da’at VI:29).
While each individual reason to allow counting with a beracha after the statement is arguable, the combination of reasons makes that prospect convincing in two possible ways. First, poskim (including Be’ur Halacha 489:4, Eliya Rabba ibid.) say, in different cases, that when there are specific indications that one intends to not fulfill the mitzva, he indeed does not fulfill it. In the standard case, when “Lag Ba’omer” is used as the name of a semi-holiday as opposed to the gematria of the count, the statement would be precluded from fulfillment of the mitzva, and a beracha could be made later (Kaf Hachayim 489:30). (Note that in gematria, we usually say “Lamed gimmel,” not “Lag,” and that halachic declarations are not supposed to be made in a mix of languages.) The Mishna Berura (489:22) says that we would accept the aforementioned Taz’s logic in cases in which the week should have been mentioned and was not. Second, the coinciding of factors may create enough doubts against the chance the mitzva was fulfilled to justify a beracha. Indeed, we find cases of beracha on sefirat ha’omer when s’feik s’feika indicates its appropriateness (Shulchan Aruch, OC 489:8; Mishna Berura 489:38). On the other hand, that halachic phenomenon likely does not apply to every set of doubts (see Yabia Omer IV, OC 43).
In short, it is unlikely that one has fulfilled sefirat ha’omer by noting the day is Lag Ba’omer. However, it is worthwhile to avoid such a statement before counting and, where easily feasible, to use someone else’s beracha if he did.
Hamapil for Those Who Go to Sleep Before DarkDo people who go to sleep before nightfall (e.g., night shift workers, the old and ill during the summer) recite Hamapil before going to sleep?
The gemara (Berachot 60b) mentions Hamapil for one “entering to sleep on his bed,” without noting time of day. However, the Rambam (Tefilla 7:1) writes “when one enters his bed to sleep at night.” Despite varied opinions of Rishonim (see Meiri, Berachot ad loc), this guideline is accepted (see Be’ur Halacha to 239:1; B’tzel Hachochma V:166). However, this position’s rationale impacts your question.
The above gemara continues with the berachot upon awaking, starting with Elokai Neshama, which some see as a bookend along with Hamapil (see B’tzel Hachochma ibid.). We recite these berachot only once a day. In both cases (although some distinguish), there are questions as to whether the berachot are only for those who sleep or they are general praises to Hashem related to sleep and awaking at the classic times.
Most poskim saying that one recites Hamapil only before a serious sleep (see gemara above). The connection to night is that this is the average person’s time of serious sleep, based on which the beracha was instituted (which is apparently the Rambam’s basis).
B’tzel Hachochma (ibid.) understands the element of night very formalistically – there is no obligation and thus no ability to say Hamapil before night, even if one is embarking on a full night’s sleep before nightfall. He compares Hamapil before night to a beracha on sitting in a sukka before Sukkot starts when one plans to remain there (a beracha is not made there).
However, there are sources and logic that night is a criterion for Hamapil on practical rather than fundamental grounds. The Chayei Adam (35:4) says that regarding day sleep we are concerned he will not fall asleep, it is improper to sleep, and/or it is not effective sleep. These reasons do not apply to the cases you raise of one who has a valid reason to start sleeping before nightfall (although sometimes we say lo plug- see ibid.).
Several poskim (see Teshurat Shai I:82; Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:198) explain why it might be proper to recite Hamapil before one’s major sleep after dawn when one did not sleep at night (e.g., Shavuot morning). One could add to the equation the opinion that one may recite a birkat hashevach (of praise) even when there is a doubt whether it is necessary because the content of such berachot are never inappropriate (Halachot Ketanot I:264). However, the consensus is that safek berachot l’hakel (in doubt, refrain) applies to there as well (Yabia Omer VII, OC 29).
However, in cases where the sleep is primarily at night, the argument to say Hamapil is much stronger. Notice that the Rambam (ibid.) talks about Hamapil preceding going to sleep at night. My reading is that the point is that sleep done at night defines it as justifying Hamapil, not that it is forbidden to recite Hamapil during the day. Thus, if the majority of one’s sleep will be during the night, the fact that it begins earlier need not preclude Hamapil.
Whether the case for reciting Hamapil is stronger or weaker if one goes to sleep soon before nightfall is interesting. Many halachot of night begin at plag hamincha, so perhaps one who sleeps then for the night is considered to be just extending slightly the time of night sleep, which in summer nights in northern latitudes is also common. Note that one who wakes up after midnight may recite the morning berachot including Elokai Neshama (Shulchan Aruch, OC47:13), presumably because morning regarding wake up is flexible. Perhaps the same is true in the evening. On the other hand, perhaps Chazal would not have extended a beracha for going to sleep for the night at a time when one cannot fulfill the mitzva of Kri’at Shema of the night.
The rules of practical p’sak point toward not risking reciting the beracha of Hamapil before nightfall, despite my inclination to the contrary. However, one who does so before his major sleep that extends well into the night has what to rely upon.
Stealing by Accident?If one accidentally took and used a friend’s similar coat, is he considered a ganav (thief)? Is he obligated to pay kefel (double)? Must he pay the owner if something happens to it (onsin)? [The querier then presented sources he found about geneiva b’shogeg (unintentional theft).] How can there be geneiva b’shogeg considering one needs intention to acquire something?
We will only scratch the surface of the scholarship on whether one is obligated for geneiva b’shogeg and relate to some of the issues you raise.
The K’tzot Hachoshen (25:1) is among those who posit that a ganav b’shogeg is exempt. He infers this from Rishonim, but his main rationale is that the concept of culpability for accidental financial harm to his friend is limited to mazik (one who physically damages another’s property) because it specifically is derived from a pasuk. Thus, if one takes another’s object without damaging it, he is not responsible to pay for it. Of course, he has to return it when he finds out the truth, but the matter is important if it was lost, damaged, or passed on to someone else.
The Machaneh Ephrayim (Geneiva 7) cogently presents opinions of Rishonim, but agrees with those who obligate a ganav b’shogeg. He is particularly impressed by the gemara (Pesachim 32a) concerning payment made by one who accidentally ate teruma, which says that if the food’s price went down after he ate it, he pays the higher price because “it is no less than one who steals.” The Machaneh Ephrayim sees this as proof that there is payment for geneiva b’shogeg.
Let us now discuss your quandary about the need for intention. The gemara (see Bava Kama 79a) does speak of a kinyan (an act of acquisition) as a necessary step for the obligations of a ganav, and kinyanim require a certain level of intent. However, not all of the levels of intent pertinent to geneiva are equal to those regarding other acquisitions. If one lifted up an object to move it out of his way, he would clearly neither acquire nor be considered stealing it. If he wanted to use it without ever returning it, this would be intention for theft even if he tried to be “shrewd” by having in mind to “not acquire it” (it indeed would not become his). Furthermore, even one who intended to briefly borrow something without permission is considered a ganav (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 359:5).
The Machaneh Ephrayim makes a relevant fundamental distinction. Geneiva b’shogeg can be culpable when one intended to bring the object from another’s possession into his own. If one thought he was just continuing using his own, that would not be considered an act of stealing. (This idea is indeed parallel to the halacha regarding intention to acquire something legally (see Yevamot 52a).) According to this, the accidental coat switcher is not even a ganav b’shogeg and does not have, as of the time he took the object, the accompanying responsibilities for its welfare. Cases in which geneiva b’shogeg applies include unknowingly buying a stolen object or even borrowing one.
The Marcheshet (II:32) posits that a ganav b’shogeg has the basic obligations of a ganav. He sees the K’tzot Hachoshen’s source to exempt – the obligation of an unintentional mazik – as the source to obligate an unintentional ganav as well. As such, though, just as a mazik is exempt b’oness (under extenuating circumstances), so too a ganav b’oness is exempt. In our case, taking another’s coat is usually shogeg rather than oness. According to this approach, it could be considered geneiva. Regarding intention, he does intend to use something that turned out to actually belong to someone else.
All agree that one is not disqualified for anything (e.g., testimony) due to such an unintentional aveira. Kefel is never levied in our days, and it is thus not discussed much by poskim. However, logic and implicit statements indicate that this k’nas (penalty), which applies to only certain types of theft and when one is exposed by witnesses, is predicated on full culpability and does not apply b’shogeg.
The Need for a Mechitza Without a MinyanIs there a need for a mechitza between men and women when there is no minyan?
We must start our answer with some sources that serve as the basis for the need for a mechitza. Most explicit discussions on the matter are relatively recent, as the mechitza was taken for granted without halachic discussion until the 19th/20th century.”
The gemara (Sukka 51b) tells of structural changes made in the Beit Hamikdash to deal with the growing realization of problems of modesty between the genders. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim I:39) is prominent among those who learned from the fact that such changes in the Beit Hamikdash are generally prohibited that the need for separation must be a matter of Torah law.
The only context in which there is any Orthodox unanimity that a physical separation is necessary is when davening in shul. It appears that the concept need not be linked specifically to davening, as the gemara says that Beit Hamikdash renovators based themselves on a pasuk relating to a funeral (Zecharia I:28:12). On the other hand, in practice there is not a history of anything close to universal separation between the genders. Rav Moshe (ibid., OC V:12) makes a distinction between settings that are private (i.e., by permission only), which do not require separation, and those that are open to the public, which require.
Since the setting of davening in shul is unique in its unanimity and its level of definitiveness, it is worthwhile to investigate the halacha’s scope by broadening your question. Does all tefilla require a mechitza? Does everything in shul? How do we define a shul? A man is not allowed to daven, learn aloud, or even make berachot when exposed to a lack of modesty (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 75 with commentaries). However, it is agreed that regarding davening in a place that is not set for tefilla, the formal requirement of mechitza per se does not exist. This is more obvious in a public place, like a plane. The need for a mechitza is more of an obligation to put one in the proper place than a prohibition to daven without it. Therefore, since there is no way to expect an airline servicing Jews and non-Jews to put up a mechitza, there is no problem. Even in places like sheva berachot and a shiva house, there is not a formal need for a mechitza (see Igrot Moshe ibid.).
If men are davening in a shul at a time when there is no minyan, it would seem that a mechitza is needed if women are present (one or two women are likely not a problem (see ibid.; Ishei Yisrael )). After all, they are davening and the shul has sanctity that elevates tefilla even without a minyan (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 90:9).
What about a place that is set for tefilla without a minyan? The gemara in Megilla 27b can be instructive. In explaining the various positions on whether a communal beit knesset can be sold to become a beit knesset of an individual, the gemara raises the claim for R. Meir that an individual’s shul does not have kedusha. Rashi (ad loc.) and others explain that this is because matters of kedusha (i.e., elements of prayer that require a minyan) are not recited there. On one hand, this downplays the status of a shul without a minyan, but many posit that even according to R. Meir it has some kedusha (Ramban, ad loc.) and at least the status of a beit knesset. We note that many places that have semi-regular davening but without a minyan usually have several other uses, which also makes it less like a classic shul, in which we know a mechitza is required.
Tying things together, we suggest the following approximate guidelines (there are many slightly varying cases). In a room that is treated like a shul, just that it belongs to such a small community that there is not usually a minyan, there should be a mechitza. In a multi-use room that has semi-regular davening but without a minyan, davening should be done with a separation between men and women, but a mechitza per se is not necessary (assuming it is done in a way that there are no modesty in dress problems).
Hachnasat Sefer Torah on Chol HamoedI have strong reasons to make a hachnasat sefer Torah on Chol Hamoed. Is it permitted to do so?
The main issue with the hachnasat sefer Torah for a new sefer Torah (as opposed to purchasing one or changing its venue) is writing its final letters, as the minhag is to do so on the day of the ceremony.
The mishna (Moed Katan 18b) says it is forbidden to write even a small part of a book on Chol Hamoed. The Rama (Orach Chayim 545:1) cites two opinions on whether it is permitted if the masses need the book after the chag and concludes that it is permitted if one uses simple, “non-artisan” writing. In other words, he understood that the mishna is referring to cases where there is not an acute need. These halachot follow the rule that simple work (ma’aseh hedyot) is permitted on Chol Hamoed for festival needs or communal needs, which are as significant even if they are for after the chag (Shulchan Aruch, OC 544:1).
Since writing a sefer Torah certainly needs an expert acting carefully (ma’asaeh uman), it should be forbidden on Chol Hamoed. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 545:2) does say that if there is no other sefer Torah for the community’s Torah reading, a sefer Torah can be finished on Chol Hamoed for that purpose. However, it does not sound like that is your predicament.
Despite the above, there has long been a phenomenon of hachnasot sefer Torah on Chol Hamoed. Some poskim (including Aruch Hashulchan, OC 545:5) criticize the practice. However, several poskim justify the practice when done in a certain way, which is anyway common.
Usually the main writing of the sefer Torah is complete days before the event, except that the last letters are written by the sefer’s owner and his honorees. To facilitate this, the sofer uses one of two systems: 1. Write the letters in very light ink, so that the donor writes on top to darken it. 2. Write hollow letters and have the donor fill them in. Some poskim suggest that in those cases the halachic writing already exists, in which case that which is left for the end is not a melacha (see discussion in B’tzel Hachochma IV:50). Moreover, even if it is a full melacha of writing, it is an example of ma’aseh hedyot, as a non-expert can follow the tracing or fill in the hollow letters. In that case, it is permitted for a simple mitzva even of an individual or an enhancement of the chag.
What mitzva or enhancement of the chag applies here? Some say it is the mitzva of having a sefer Torah. While some of the leniencies of Chol Hamoed apply only if one had to do the work at that time (which might not apply in your case), festival and mitzva needs can be done even if they could have been done at different times. Some question (see Minchat Elazar III:2) whether in our days, the writing of the sefer Torah is considered a mitzva, but that seems like a weak claim. In any case, since the whole celebration is such a joyous and chag-appropriate activity, all of its standard elements, which customarily include writing the last letters, are festival needs. (The poskim are not concerned with the possibility that the celebration impinges on the proper focus on the chag, which is the reason weddings are forbidden on Chol Hamoed (Chagiga 8a). A Torah celebration of this type is within the appropriate focus.) If the sefer Torah will be read from during the chag, including Simchat Torah, that should also be considered a mitzva purpose.
Thus, under the above conditions, it is permitted according to most poskim, including the Beit Yitzchak (Yoreh Deah II, addendum 20), Kaf Hachayim (545:6, based on the Sdei Chemed), and the contemporary Chol Hamoed K’hilcahato (6:24). As mentioned, there is also some history of leniency. Some poskim (Shevet Halevi III:96, B’tzel Hachochma, ibid.) are willing to be lenient only in the case of real need, which you indicate you have.
In summary, if the celebration is most appropriately done on Chol Hamoed, feel free to do it then. Make sure the sofer completes his part before Pesach and leaves any expert brush-up work for after chag. Mazal tov!
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.
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