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Sunbathing on ShabbatIs it permitted to sunbathe on Shabbat? Does it depend on the purpose of the sunbathing: health benefits, tanning, enjoyment?
We will not relate to issues of tzniut that can arise from sunbathing, which are of course important. Our discussion should also not be construed as a statement on the medical advisability of the practice. We just remind you that a certain amount of exposure to the sun can be beneficial (vitamin D, etc.), whereas over-exposure can be dangerous. Relatively recent poskim have discussed the matter, and the main discussions relate to the halachot of taking medicines on Shabbat and the melacha of tzoveia (coloring).
Regarding one who wants to sunbathe due to a specific medical condition, there are too many variables to address in this forum. If it is for general health benefits, the matter is similar to the discussion about vitamins on Shabbat. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 328:37) says that one may eat/drink medically-oriented foods that are eaten regularly by healthy people. However, the Magen Avraham (328:43) says that this is so only when he is eating the food for its food value, not when he is doing so entirely for its medicinal value. Igrot Moshe (OC III:54) says that this stringency is true only when the person, while not sick, needs strengthening, but not when he is simply trying to keep his body “well stocked” so that he will not deteriorate. Some are more stringent than this (see conditions to permit vitamins in Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 34:20). In any case, since sunbathing is something which people in our times do not usually associate with its health benefits, we posit that the limitations on medicines do not apply to it (see Yalkut Yosef, OC 328:78).
The question of coloring the skin is fascinating. Coloring applies to the human body, as we know from the prohibition of certain cosmetics on these grounds (Shulchan Aruch, OC 303:25). While no one would forbid going outside in a place where he could get a sunburn or a tan, perhaps it is forbidden to purposely get one, especially if he take steps to increase the extent of the coloring. Indeed some poskim do forbid it (Minchat Yitzchak V:32; Az Nidberu II:30). Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (14:44 and 18:(70)) implies that it is permitted because the person does not color through an action; rather he puts himself in a place where the sun does so. (Rav Neuwirth and his rebbe, Rav Auerbach, use this logic as part of their leniency for wearing photo gray lenses on Shabbat – see ibid.). Others add that the process is drawn out and has no immediate impact (see Torat Hamelachot 15:25). (Some melachot, such as cooking, always involve putting an object in a place where an outside force will have a gradual impact; the question is whether coloring is in this category.) Another claim is that the tanning is a natural, not artificial, color for skin (Nishmat Shabbat 215). It is hard to find conclusive proof from classical sources on these claims. However, for us, a general principle of “halachic philosophy” tips the scale. Since it is unreasonable to assume that the Torah and Chazal forbade walking in the sun on Shabbat, even if a person likes tanning, it is hard to imagine that the Torah/Chazal extended tzoveia to coloring the skin in the sun. Therefore, even purposeful tanning would be permitted.
Therefore, while not being particularly enthusiastic at the prospect of someone spending a good part of his Shabbat sunbathing, we would not forbid it on halachic grounds.Do realize that according to the consensus of poskim, it is forbidden to smear sunscreen cream over one’s body or part of it, due to the melacha of memachek (see Orchot Shabbat 17:20). One cannot justify using sunscreen due to an acute medical need if the need arises from one’s desire to sunbathe. It is permitted to spray liquid sunscreen (ibid.). This is not considered medicinal because its purpose is not to strengthen the body but to shield one from external injury (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 328:27, which permits covering a healing wound with a bandage).
Coin Collection on ShabbatIs it permitted to handle my modest home-based coin collection on Shabbat?
This question reminds us of a similar one we answered years ago – whether a rock collection is muktzeh (see Living the Halachic Process, vol. I, C-15). We will summarize our discussion there and then see how a coin collection compares.
Rocks are muktzeh (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 308:21) because generally they do not have a use that would make them considered a kli (utensil). However, if one prepares them for a given purpose or if their owner decides to use them for a specific permitted purpose, they are not muktzeh (ibid.:21-22). Thus, rocks that were incorporated in a rock collection need not be muktzeh because they are to enjoy looking at.
The question we had was regarding a case where the rocks are on display in a manner that the arrangement remains untouched over long periods of time. Does that turn the collection into muktzeh machmat chisaron kis, something one is careful not to use for various uses that may come up? While the usual cases of muktzeh machmat chisaron kis are utensils that are basically for forbidden purposes, where other uses are ruled out, does it extend to an object whose purpose is permitted but one is careful to rarely move it (e.g., wall clocks and paintings)? Rav Moshe Feinstein (responsum #13 in “Tiltulei Shabbat”) said such things are not muktzeh; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (20:22) said they are muktzeh machmat chisaron kis.
Coins are muktzeh (Shulchan Aruch, OC 310:7). This is not only because their use is related to a prohibited activity (commerce), for then their muktzeh status would be only partial. Rather, they are not considered utensils (see introduction of Mishna Berura to OC 308) because their value is not intrinsic but based on convention. However if one uses coins as something of interest they would not, on the basic level, be muktzeh (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 20:38, regarding coins incorporated into jewelry, which are not muktzeh).
In some ways, a standard coin collection is more likely to not be muktzeh than a rock collection, if we are correct in assuming that the coins are made to be handled. One keeps them in books, whose pages are turned to look at coin after coin. While they are nestled within plastic coverings, turning the pages is still considered moving the coins, as the pages and the plastic serve the coins. Therefore, the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata should agree the coins are not muktzeh unless one keeps locked in a safe and rarely handle. If the collection is slated for sale and the owner is careful not to use it in the meantime, the coins would be muktzeh (see Rama, OC 308:1). However, we understand that you are talking about a collection for the owner’s personal interest.
The one remaining issue is the Chazon Ish’s opinion. The gemara (Shabbat 65b) says that if one attaches a stone to an article of clothing for a purpose of utility, it is permitted to move the stone along with the clothes, as long as he intended to use the stone for that purpose before Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, OC 303:22). The gemara says that, as opposed to a stone, intention for that purpose would not suffice for a coin. Most understand that this is only if the coin was not permanently set aside for the use before Shabbat (see Beit Yosef, OC 303, Mishna Berura 303:74). Thus, if coins are permanently on display and no longer act as “money,” they would be permitted. However, the Chazon Ish (OC 42:17) says that coins cannot be considered as set aside for another purpose, as they are always candidates to be used again as money and remain muktzeh.
You, though, do not have to be concerned with the Chazon Ish’s opinion. Firstly, we follow the majority lenient ruling (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilcata 20:38). Secondly, the Chazon Ish’s logic seemingly does not apply to a coin collection. Since the coins involved have a special collectors’ value that exceeds their value as money, there is no reason to suspect they will revert to use as money.
Counting Sefira with a Beracha When One Expects to Miss a DayI rarely succeed in counting all 49 days of sefirat ha’omer. Considering that I seem to always discontinue making a beracha at some point, should I refrain from making one from the outset?
Your idea to not say the beracha from the outset is based on the thesis that sefirat ha’omer is one long “all-or-nothing” mitzva; i.e., if you miss a day, you will not have fulfilled any mitzva, retroactively rendering your berachot l’vatala. We will build up this reasonable conclusion (before rejecting it).
Tosafot (Ketubot 72a) asks why a zava does not make a beracha upon counting seven days toward purification and answers that it is because “if she sees, the count will be undone.” In contrast, regarding sefirat ha’omer and beit din’s counting of 50 years toward yovel, there is nothing to stop the count. Some Acharonim infer from this that it is forbidden to make a beracha on a mitzva when there is real concern it will later turn out that it was irrelevant. In our context, the Chida (Avodat Hakodesh, Moreh B’etzba 217) warns people to take precautions not to forget a day of sefira, for if they do, their berachot will retroactively be l’vatala.
Nevertheless, there are several reasons to allow counting with a beracha until one misses, even if we were certain he will be unable to finish with a beracha. (B’tzel Hachochma V:45 discusses a man who was told he had only a few days to live; Shraga Hameir VI:31 discusses someone scheduled for surgery that would incapacitate him for an entire day.) First, we note that the ruling that one cannot continue with a beracha after missing a day (the Behag’s opinion) is far from unanimous (see Tur, Orach Chayim 489). The Shulchan Aruch (OC 489:8) accepts it only out of doubt and says that if one is not sure if he missed a day, he should continue with a beracha due to a double doubt (maybe he didn’t miss; maybe it does not disqualify the mitzva- Mishna Berura 489:38).
Second, even if one may not continue with a beracha, it does not necessarily mean the count was worthless. While some explain this approach as positing that the 49 countings constitute a single mitzva, this may be an overstatement. One indication (not a proof) is the fact that we make a berachot 49 times. Rav Soloveitchik (Mesorah, ed. III, p. 35) explains that the Behag agrees there is a mitzva every day, just that the counting must be consecutive in order to fulfill the mitzva. Therefore the mitzva ceases to be operative only after one misses a day.
Third, the Rav Pealim (III, OC 32) suggest that the fact that we recite the beracha on sefirat haomer without an assurance we will succeed in completing the mitzva shows that the value of a partial fulfillment of a mitzva prevents the berachot from being retroactively l’vatala. Why then does Tosafot say that concern of non-completion precludes a beracha on a zava’s count? Some say the Behag does not agree with Tosafot. Some distinguish between a nominal value of a partial sefirat ha’omer as opposed to no value for a suspended count for a zava. Still others say that a future problem does not retroactively invalidate berachot, and Tosafot was only explaining that the Rabbis chose not to institute a beracha for a mitzva that lends itself to suspension (see discussion in Yabia Omer I, YD 21).
There are also philosophical arguments to reject consideration of the assumptions in almost all scenarios. How can one decide he will not survive to the end of the count or when surgery will incapacitate him? Certainly, how can one not recite the beracha in which the Rabbis obligated him if nothing prevents from success (especially if he can adopt practices, e.g., davening with a minyan every night, that mitigate the concern)?
Practically, there is a clear consensus among poskim and in minhag for men (see Mishna Berura 489:3) to start saying sefirat haomer with a beracha. Even the Chida, the most prominent apparent naysayer, did not write to start without a beracha; he just warned not to miss a day (see B’tzel Hachochma ibid. who distinguishes).
Siyum Participation Via SkypeI will be in a small Jewish community in which there will not be a siyum on Erev Pesach. Is it permitted for me (a bechor) to eat based on a siyum in which I “participate” via Skype?
In the context of the halacha not to fast throughout Nisan, Massechet Sofrim (21:1) says that an exception is that bechorot fast on Erev Pesach. The Tur (Orach Chayim 470) and Shulchan Aruch (OC 470:1) cite this practice as normative, and the Tur explains that it is a remembrance of the miracle that the Jewish firstborns were saved in
The idea that seudot mitzva cancel the fast is debated among the Acharonim. The Magen Avraham (ad loc.) does not even allow firstborn to eat at a brit mila; the Mishna Berura (ad loc. 10) reports that the minhag in his time was to allow eating at seudot mitzva, including a siyum. The idea that a siyum can play this role is found in the Rama (OC 551:10), who says that one can eat meat and drink wine at a siyum during the Nine Days.
In these contexts, there is room to distinguish between principals to a seudat mitzva, for whom the day is like a yom tov, and other participants. For example, a sandek can eat on the day of his parent’s yahrtzeit, but a simple participant in the brit may not (Mishna Berura 568:46). Similarly regarding ta’anit bechorot, those who do not allow firstborns to eat at another’s seudat mitzva are lenient regarding a mohel, sandek, and the father of the circumcised baby (Mishna Berura 470:10). Nevertheless, the minhag is to allow all participants to eat at a siyum.
The simple explanation is that their participation makes the celebration more special, thus heightening the ba’al hasimcha’s event. Therefore, participation in the ba’al hasimcha’s meal is the crucial thing. Indeed, some allow even one who missed the siyum to take part in the seudat mitzva (see Teshuvot V’hanhagot II:210). The following distinction would follow the same logical lines. The Minchat Yitzchak (VIII:45) says that when the Chavot Yair (70) allowed having a seudat mitzva the day after a night siyum, he was discussing only a seuda in which the one who made the siyum participates (see also Magen Avraham 568:10).
There is a gemara which is understood by some (see Az Nidberu XII:58) as turning the participants in the siyum into ba’alei simcha. The gemara in Shabbat (118b-119a) tells of those who were especially emotionally involved in the Torah successes of others, including one who would make a party for the rabbis when a young scholar finished a massechet. This implies that he was not just helping the learner celebrate, but that he felt the joy to initiate the party. The Minchat Yitzchak (IX:45) says that according to the latter approach (which he discourages relying upon but considers legitimate), it is not required for the participant to eat along with the main party.
It does not seem logical to consider one who “takes part” in a seudat mitzva via Skype as being a halachic participant, certainly not in regards to embellishing the simcha of the one who made the siyum. According to the approach that the observer has a right to celebrate his happiness, it is uncertain but at least plausible to say that witnessing the event via Skype is sufficiently significant.
Those who take a surprisingly lenient approach about siyum standards for ta’anit bechorot (including Az Nidberu and Teshuvot V’hanhagot ibid.; Yabia Omer, I, OC 26 is quite stringent) rely heavily on the following two factors. 1) The whole fast is a minhag. 2) For many people in our time, fasting would have a significant negative impact on the Seder. While not cancelling the minhag, some seem to lower the bar of who is included in the siyum to enable most anyone to eat. If one feels a need to rely on this approach, Skype participation can also be contemplated. If so, it is better to watch and celebrate as a group and/or to witness a siyum that brings true simcha (e.g., based on connection to the person or level of accomplishment).
Checking Books for ChametzDo one’s books need to be checked for chametz or sold before Pesach?
The gemara (Pesachim 6b), in discussing the need for bitul (nullification of) chametz, says that peirurim (small pieces or crumbs) do not need bitul, as there is no bal yeira’eh (prohibition to possess) because they are insignificant. Important poskim (including Ritva, Pesachim 7a; Pri Chadash, Orach Chayim 444:4; each refers to those who are stringent) understand from here that there is no need to discard crumbs.
On the other hand, the gemara (Pesachim 45b) says that pieces of dough under the size of a k’zayit that are stuck to a utensil (even one not used on Pesach) need to be discarded. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 460:3) requires bitul on pieces of dough that fall while making matza. Several distinctions may impact on the need to remove small pieces and help answer contradictions: dough (requires disposal) vs. bread crumbs (do not) (Magen Avraham 260:2); whether the pieces are clean (Mishna Berura 442:33); whether they are in a prominent place (see Shut Nitei Gavriel, Pesach 1).
You ask not about disposing known peirurim but searching for them, and we note the following halachot. One must check only the type of room that one would enter holding a piece of chametz (see Pesachim 8a with Rashi); we are not concerned about crumbs falling. If a toddler took chametz to a place where bedikat chametz was done and we found peirurim, we can assume the rest was eaten and do not need to re-check (Shulchan Aruch, OC 439:1), despite the likelihood of additional crumbs.
Perhaps the first major posek to require (not just out of piety) checking for crumbs is the Chayei Adam (II:119:6). He learns from the idea of checking in crevices (Pesachim 7a) that bedika is needed for crumbs, reasoning that despite the lack of bal yeira’eh, there is concern one may come to eat them. The Chazon Ish (OC 116:18) goes further, saying that if he does not check for crumbs, they are forbidden after Pesach, and he is perhaps the first to say that one must check his sefarim. This is not obvious from the Chayei Adam, as one does not purposely put food on sefarim and it is also unlikely that one would come to eat crumbs stuck to a book or trapped in its binding. The Mishna Berura (442:33), for example, says that everyone agrees that a piece of less than a k’zayit of soiled chametz does not need to be discarded.
The S’fat Emet (Pesachim 6b) proposes other reasons not to check for crumbs: 1) It is too much work for Chazal to have made it necessary; 2) It is anyway impossible to succeed in removing all crumbs. These points lead us to the following observation. What many people call “cleaning” their books in a few hours would not suffice if the obligation was rigorous; it would take tens if not hundreds of hours. While that might be a modern problem (a modern library of bound books is harder to check than a few scrolls), it is still illogical from the perspective of “halachic history” that discussion of the problem of checking books surfaces only in the 20th century.
The practice of some to “shake out” books is reasonable as a stringency (or spring cleaning), but realize that checking books for chametz is no more than that. The idea that some illustrious contemporary rabbanim suggest of selling sefarim to a non-Jew is less wasteful of precious time than properly checking them. However, this is a recent invention not imagined by those who instituted mechirat chametz for sell valuable chametz. How can one be required to sell a valuable collection of sefarim (and raise questions about the sale’s seriousness) and take them out of use for Pesach to avoid a problem very few poskim believe exists (see Chazon Ovadia, Pesach p. 38)? My personal choice of halacha/chumra is to clean bookshelves, not to use the same books at the table for during the year and for Pesach, and to sell bentchers. Important sources (see Shulchan Aruch OC 442:6) say not to belittle extra-halachic stringency regarding chametz. However, we oppose making new chumrot with a weak basis standard.
Waking Up on a Plane to DavenI will be on a trans-Atlantic overnight flight travelling east, so that during the time people normally sleep, the time for Shacharit will pass quickly. Is it necessary to get up, or do we say that one who is sleeping is exempt from mitzvot?
You raise a fascinating question: do obligations in mitzvot apply to a person while he is sleeping? This issue is at the heart of questions of what others should do when observing a sleeping person in a halachically problematic situation. However, that point is not necessary to answer your practical question.
While certain sources indicate that when a person is sleeping, the laws of the Torah fundamentally do not apply to him, there are several and stronger sources that prove that mitzvot do apply at least on some level. If rain forces one to sleep inside his house on Sukkot and the rain stops during the night, he does not have to go then to the sukka (Sukka 29a). The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 639; see also Mishna Berura 639:43) says that a major part of this discussion is about the people of the household not being required to wake the sleeping person. The simple implication of the sources (compare Shulchan Aruch, OC 639:6 and 7) is that this is a specific exemption from sukka for someone who will be unusually bothered to be in the sukka under those circumstances. The classical commentaries do not speak of a sweeping rule that mitzvot do not apply to those sleeping, implying that there is no such rule. On the other hand, Rav S.Z. Auerbach said that one is not obligated in sukka when he is sleeping and therefore it is (theoretically) permitted to remove a sleeping person from the sukka (see Halichot Shlomo, Tefilla, pp.335-337). Another important source involves someone who died in the room where a kohen is sleeping. The Rama (Yoreh Deah 372:1) says that people should wake the kohen so he can leave the premises.
Playing out the different approaches to a case of one who sees his friend sleeping as the end time for reciting Kri’at Shema approaches, Rav Auerbach’s camp would not require waking him, while others would (see Halichot Shlomo ibid.). There is logic to distinguish between mitzvot andowH aveirot in two directions. In some ways, being physically involved in a situation of aveira while sleeping may be more problematic than simply not doing a mitzva at that point (ibid.; see also Shut R. Akiva Eiger I:8). In the opposite direction, even if one is exempt from a mitzva when sleeping, if he does not perform it, he will not be credited for what he did not do; therefore, there is certainly what to gain by waking him. In short, there is room for other distinctions: whether a Torah-level mitzva, e.g., Kri’at Shema, or a Rabbinic one, e.g., Shacharit, is at stake (see Keren L’Dovid, OC 18; Shach, YD 372:3); whether the specific person would want to be woken (see Keren L’Dovid ibid.; Halichot Shlomo ibid.); whether the person went to sleep with a realization that the problem would arise while he would be sleeping (ibid.).
This last distinction brings us to the crucial practical point regarding your question. It is forbidden for one to go to sleep in a manner that will likely bring him to miss a mitzva. In several cases, there are Rabbinical prohibitions about eating or sleeping before doing a mitzva even when his plan is to perform the mitzva within its proper time (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 692:4 and Mishna Berura 692:15). This prohibition sometimes begins even before the mitzva applies (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 235:2 and Mishna Berura ad loc. 17). While Chazal obviously do not forbid going to sleep at night out of fear one will wake up too late for Kri’at Shema and Shacharit, they had harsh things to say about those who are not careful to wake up in time (see Avot D’Rabbi Natan 21; Pirkei Avot 3:10 with Bartenura). Therefore, whatever one’s fundamental approach to obligations while one sleeps, before going to sleep, one must have a good plan to ensure he will perform the mitzva when it becomes incumbent (see Halichot Shlomo ibid.).
Cosmetic SurgeryWhat does halacha have to say about cosmetic surgery?
We will survey halachic elements of the topic that relate to cases where it is readily understandable why a serious observant Jew would feel a need or a strong desire to have surgery. Needless surgery or, in the other direction, cases of gross malformations are, respectively, very different matters from a halachic and a philosophical perspective.
The fundamental issue that the poskim discuss is that of damaging oneself. The gemara (Bava Kama 91b) refers to a machloket among Tannaim whether one is allowed to damage himself, and the Rambam (Chovel U’mazik 5:1) and Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 420:1) rule it is forbidden. The question is whether totally elective surgery done for an understandable reason is included in the prohibition. On the one hand, in the immediate stage, surgery includes cutting the body, and Tosafot (Bava Kama 91b) says that one may not damage himself even for gain. On the other hand, Chazal allowed cutting the skin for certain purposes, including bloodletting and removing splinters (Yevamot 72a; Sanhedrin 84b). Some say that a procedure done to correct a blemish, even if it is just a significant aesthetic one and not a classic medical problem, is considered healing and included in the doctor’s mandate to heal (Mishneh Halachot IV:266, based on Ketubot 74b). Others infer from the Rambam’s language that only violent damage to the body is forbidden, not constructive cutting done to improve it (Igrot Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 5:66; see Minchat Shlomo II:82 and Minchat Yitzchak VI;105). There is a difference between the two approaches to leniency in a case where the initial situation is not one of a blemish, while the surgery can still provide substantial and not frivolous improvement. Yabia Omer (VIII, CM 12) reasons that one should distinguish between different levels of gain.
Another issue is the potential danger to life from surgery, specifically one that requires general anesthetic. Objectively, in our times, the chance of death from simple surgery is tiny (assuming a responsible choice of medical practitioners). While we do not generally take stands on medical questions, one could say that the danger is roughly equivalent to that from driving a few hundred miles. While there have been poskim, at least decades ago (Minchat Yitzchak ibid., Aseh Lecha Rav IV:65), who have forbidden cosmetic surgery that requires anesthetic on those grounds, this is a difficult position to take (see Yabia Omer ibid.).
Some poskim suggest an interesting distinction between the genders. Cases in which men act with concern about their own appearance to a degree that is not normal for men raise questions of a prohibition of lo yilbash. While this literally refers to cross-dressing, Chazal apply it to several activities that are normal specifically for the opposite gender. One gemara (Shabbat 50b) says that it is permitted for a man to remove certain scabs from his face due to pain, but it is forbidden for beautification. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that the problem is lo yilbash. Tosafot (ad loc.) says that pain does not have to be physical but that if a man is embarrassed to be among people in that state, “there is no greater pain than that.” Therefore, while there is likely to be a difference between genders regarding the extent of blemish that justifies intervention, surgery can be permitted for a man whose aesthetic problems would be disturbing for the average man (Mishneh Halachot IV:267; Minchat Shlomo ibid.).
The Tzitz Eliezer (XI:41) claims that performing surgery to change one’s G-d-given appearance (excluding the results of illness or injury) is improper intervention in the way Hashem created the world. Most of his contemporaries reject or ignore this position regarding cases where patient’s feelings are understandable. However, it is worthwhile to add this philosophical point to the above halachic ones regarding cases where there is absolutely nothing wrong with a person’s appearance.
Purim in TransitI plan to fly from New York during the night of Purim (after Megilla reading) and arrive in Jerusalem in the afternoon. Would I have to hear Megillat Esther in Yerushalayim before the end of the 14th of Adar, or is it enough that I will hear it there on the 15th?
If one is, at day break of the 14th of Adar, in a place which celebrates Purim then, he is obligated to hear both the day and night Megilla reading on that day (Megilla 19a). This is so even for a resident of Yerushalayim (sometimes intention makes a difference, but not in this case). This is learned from a pasuk (Esther 9:19) that discusses people who “are sitting in an un-walled city” in addition to residents of such cities. The same is true if he is in an uninhabited area (including a plane over the ocean), as the 14th is Purim for anywhere that did not have a wall at the time of Yehoshua (Rama, Orach Chayim 688:5). If he is subsequently in Yerushalayim on the 15th, he is obligated to hear the Megilla on the 15th as well (Yerushalmi, Megilla 2:3).
Not all agree with the apparent ruling of the Yerushalmi that one can be obligated to hear the Megilla for two days. The way the Korban Netanel understands the Rosh, the Bavli argues with the Yerushalmi and says that the place where one is at daybreak of the 14th sets his status and determines on which one day he will be obligated to read or hear. Therefore, Rav Ovadia Yosef says that one who starts Purim outside Yerushalayim and returns by daybreak of the 15th reads with a beracha on the 14th and without a beracha on the 15th (see Yalkut Yosef, Moadim, p. 306). Rav Frank (Mikraei Kodesh, Purim 19) goes further, saying that even the Yerushalmi required hearing the Megilla on the 15th after hearing on the 14th only if one moved permanently from one place to the other in between the respective reading times. However, we have not found any opinion that exempts one who is outside Yerushalayim on the morning of the 14th from hearing the Megilla on that day due to plans to hear the reading in Yerushalayim on the 15th.
The plan to arrange to hear the Megilla when you get to Yerushalayim toward the end of the 14th raises a few halachic issues. One is that only someone who is obligated in reading on the 14th can read for you. This is based on the Yerushalmi (ibid.), which says that one who celebrates Purim on the 14th cannot read the Megilla on the 15th for those keeping the 15th because he is considered like one who is not obligated in the mitzva. Rav Frank (Mikraei Kodesh, Pesach II:66) minority opinion is that the Bavli disagrees with this Yerushalmi, with the logic that the general obligation to read the Megilla along with the concept of responsibility for a fellow Jew’s religious obligations suffices to be considered obligated. While there is some basis to claim that regarding the 14th, all are considered obligated (see Yabia Omer, OC I:43.17), the consensus is that the ba’al korei for the 14th should be one who is obligated that day(see Yalkut Yosef ibid.). (His having fulfilled the mitzva earlier is not a problem.)
Eating is also an issue. It is forbidden to eat a meal before fulfilling the obligation to hear the Megilla (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 692:4), both at night and during the day (Mishna Berura 692:15). While one is allowed to snack, some say this is only in the case of significant need (ibid. 692:14) and while snacking sometimes means anything less than a k’beitza of bread (ibid.), some say that one should not eat more than a k’beitza of anything (Mikraei Kodesh (Harari) Purim 4:6 in the name of Rav M. Eliyahu). Certainly you would not be allowed to have the Purim Seuda, which you will need, until after Megilla reading. (For mishloach manot and matanot la’evyonim, appointing an agent in advance is likely a wise step – see Living the Halachic Process, vol. I, D-13 regarding some timing issues.)
Due to these complications, most people would probably avoid a trip such as the one you are planning or at least try to arrange to read or hear a valid reading from a kosher Megilla on the plane.
Use of Food from School EventsMy yeshiva entrusted me (a kollel student) to arrange an oneg Shabbat for the talmidim. I was to responsibly buy refreshments and be reimbursed based on receipts. There is a significant amount of leftover food, some of it in open packages and some untouched. Can I or other participants use that food, or should I give it to the yeshiva. If keep it, may I ask full reimbursement of the purchases?
There are a few models to the possible nature of your arrangement with the yeshiva, which would impact elements like the ones you ask about.
You could have been serving as an agent (shaliach), buying food on the yeshiva’s behalf. If so, they have to reimburse you in full for what you bought as their agent, and the food is theirs. Then you would have to determine whether they allow you to eat their food after the time during which they clearly gave permission (during the oneg). One may assume they would be happy that you finish small amounts from open packages. Regarding the rest, it likely depends on various factors, including the management style of the yeshiva and the extent to which it is worthwhile for them to store the food until the next event. Even in cases where one is confident the owner of an object would be happy with a friend taking his object, there is an unresolved machloket whether it is permitted (Shach 359:5) or forbidden (Tosafot, Bava Metzia 22a) to do so (see Living the Halachic Process vol. II, J-2, where we preferred refraining from use).
Another possibility is that you bought the food for yourself with a promise of compensation. If that is the case, the food is yours, and you can do whatever you want with it. However, it raises a different question: how much compensation can you ask from the yeshiva? If you do not take the food for yourself, then they probably have to compensate you for all you bought and cannot require you to use that which was not eaten at the oneg on your account. However, leftovers that you do want to use turn out to be things that you did not spend on the group, and it does not seem that you should ask for compensation for them. On the other hand, the value to you of the leftovers (certainly the open packages, but likely even some closed packages) may be less than the amount you paid in the store. Therefore, you would not have to reduce the full face value from your request of a refund.
We encourage stringency on matters of monetary ethics. The wisest stringency is often to raise the issue with the relevant authorities with a smile, hakarat hatov, and willingness to pay or forego, respectively. In cases of good relations and only a few shekels at stake, each side is usually generous. Asking permission not only removes a question of impropriety but likely gets the best deal in the present and builds trust for the future.
Question 2: I am a teacher who received 500 shekels to spend on a party for a group of my students. I am clearly expected to keep the leftovers. The generous budget enabled me to buy more expensive vegetables than I would not normally buy for myself. After further planning, I think a different salad will be more appropriate, which would make the expensive vegetables unnecessary. If I decide to not use them, I should “buy them” from the school, but they are not worth their cost to me. What should I do?
Answer 2: While the school might allow it, it is not so nice to ask the school to pay money for something that its students did not benefit from at all. On the other hand, you acted with good intentions, and there is no reason for you to lose money trying to do the nicest thing for your students and being honest. Sometimes “practical advice” augments halachic advice importantly. We suggest that you make the expensive salad even if you now think that you have a better idea. I am sure it will be fine, and it is worth it to avoid the moral dilemma
A Yad in the BathroomI have a yad (pointer) for a sefer Torah which is a family heirloom. When I lain, I like to use it, so I stick it in my pocket and bring it with me. While it is in my pocket, can I enter a bathroom?
The sources that lead to a discussion of a yad start with a Terumat Hadeshen. The Terumat Hadeshen (II:225) forbids turning a part of the support of a parochet (curtain) for an aron kodesh into “pachim used to label the sefer Torah for the obligation of the day.” The Rama (Orach Chayim 154:6) in accepting this opinion refers to “wood used to label …” This seems to me (the reader is encouraged to see the original rather than my translation) to be talking about tags that some shuls hang on sifrei Torah to indicate which sefer Torah is open to which reading (weekly parasha, Rosh Chodesh, fast day, etc.). The Magen Avraham (154:14, on this Rama) explains: “As they are not for adornment or to dress [the sefer Torah] but for a sign that they should not err, and now the practice is to hang them from the sefer Torah for adornment.” The Machatzit Hashekel (ad loc.) is unsure whether this refers to the tags, as we understand the Terumat Hadeshen, or whether the Magen Avraham refers to a yad. The Pri Megadim (ad loc.) understands that the Magen Avraham is indeed referring to a yad (and this is the way the Mishna Berura 154:31 rules). This makes sense within the Magen Avraham because he implies that he is talking about something that used to not be hung on the sefer Torah and now is (a tag would by its nature be on the sefer).
It follows, then, that the Magen Avraham says that in times when a yad is an adornment that is hung from the sefer, it has the status of noyei kedusha (something that adorns a holy object). Among the halachot of a noy kedusha are that it requires geniza and that it cannot be brought into a bathroom (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 282:17; Shach, Yoreh Deah 283:6).
However, your case may be different. If the yad was never used for hanging as an adornment but to be brought by members of the family to use in whatever location and then taken home, then there is no basis to consider it noyei kedusha (Shevet Halevi VI:63). Then we would revert to the status the Terumat Hadeshen and Rama attributed to it – a lesser kedusha than something that is used in a shul in a manner that is not directly related to holy texts. Even if the yad is beautiful, it is an adornment of the mitzva of reading the Torah, not of the sefer Torah itself, which it is not designed to hang from or even touch (unfortunately, not all ba’alei kri’ah are aware of that). In that way, it seems similar to a silver Kiddush cup or etrog box.
That being said, we should apply the balanced approach that poskim used in relation to non-kadosh religious objects. Neither tzitzit nor a tallit have kedusha. Yet, the Mishna Berura (21:14) rules that although tzitzit may be brought into a bathroom, a tallit, which is used exclusively for davening, should not be brought there. It would seem that a yad, which relates the sefer Torah and aids in the mitzva of its public reading, is no less deserving of dignity and should not be brought into a bathroom.
Yet, we propose that proper halachic balance requires limiting this stringency. The ruling against bringing a tallit into a bathroom is a suggestion, not a full-fledged halacha (see Living the Halachic Process II:G-5). One might claim that it is not clear that modern bathrooms with plumbing are considered a “dirty place” (see ibid. H-10). Still, we discourage you from taking the yad exposed into any bathroom, but to be lenient in the following way. While a sefer Torah and tefillin may be brought into a bathroom only in two covers, one of which not being its usual cover (Shulchan Aruch, OC 43:6), significant opinions hold that one cover suffices for lesser holy texts (Magen Avraham 43:14; see Living the Halachic Process II:G-4). In the case of your yad, then, we suggest you keep it fully covered, in any way, when going into the bathroom.
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