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Is a Difficult to Remove Residue a Chatzitza?I learned that due to the way we use our oven rack, it requires tevila (beyond our scope), but by now, it has baked-on residue. With hard work and chemical cleaners, I removed most of the residue, but it is not fully clean. May I do tevilat keilim now?
The laws of chatzitza (impediments to the water reaching all of the object) come up in the Shulchan Aruch regarding different tevilot – a woman (Yoreh Deah 198), netilat yadayim (Orach Chayim 161), and tevilat keilim (YD 120 & 202). The main difference is that for a woman, it is a more acute need (to prevent a severe aveira) than the latter two (a lower level positive mitzva – for hands, it is Rabbinic; for utensils, it is a machloket whether it is from the Torah).
The main rule about chatzitza (Eiruvin 4b) is that the Torah-level disqualification is when something is both stuck on a majority of the object (rov) and in a manner that the pertinent person wants it removed (makpid). It is a chatzitza on a Rabbinic level if only one of the issues exists (ibid.). You and most people prefer to remove residue on their racks (thus, the chemicals products) – all of it, unless it is impossible or highly taxing. It is a good question – when one does not remove only because it is not so feasible, is it a chatzitza?
There are several discussions about chatzitzot that are difficult to remove. One is about medically required chatzitzot, e.g., stitches, casts, post-operative bandages. The mishna states that a bandage on a wound constitutes a chatzitza (Mikvaot 9:2). On the other hand, some explain that this is because people often remove the bandage temporarily (see Sidrei Tahara 198:23; Ktav Sofer, YD 91). Despite the similarities (staying on for a while, difficult to remove), the bandage is different in both directions: a bandage is more annoying than residue; there is a plan to remove it in the future (stringent); the bandage is desired now (lenient).
Two relevant sources are focal points of discussion and distinctions: 1. There is a machloket among Tannaim whether an arrow lodged in one’s leg and is difficult to remove is a chatzitza (Tosefta, Mikvaot 7:9); 2. According to some Rishonim (see Beit Yosef, YD 198), one does not need to remove certain skin malformations, despite his desire to not have them, because removal is painful. To reconcile these sources, the Sidrei Tahara (198:26) distinguishes between foreign objects, which more naturally constitute chatzitzot, and addendums of the body itself. Others distinguish based on how safe it is to remove it (Rash on Mikvaot 10:8; Shut R. Akiva Eiger I:60). Those sources do not provide clear guidance for our case because of differences – here, the residue is foreign and difficulty is the only reason not to remove the residue; we are dealing with a utensil rather than a person.The closest cases are the following. A woman must try to remove lice from her hair before tevila, but irremovable lice are not a chatzitza (Shulchan Aruch, YD 198:47). Like our case, she would like to remove them and just did not succeed, and yet it is considered not makpid. The Gra (ad loc. 53) is confusing, as he points out two things: it is natural, and he is not makpid. Depending on how these reasons interact, it is unclear what he would say in our case. The Rama (Yoreh Deah 202:2) says that black stains on the outside of a pot are normal and therefore not a problem. However, not all agree (Gra ad loc. 3), although maybe the stains are not too difficult to remove. The strongest source seeming to indicate that residue that remains after removal efforts is not a chatzitza is the Shulchan Aruch, YD 120:13. One must remove rust before tevilat keilim, but if, after efforts to do so a little is left, one is not makpid, and it is okay. One could argue that residue in the age of oven cleaners is less acceptable than rust before the advent of stainless steel. However, regarding a case that you do not plan to clean anymore, we have seen enough justification to posit that normal modest residue is not a chatzitza.
Breaking a Plate with a Religious TextA friend made an artistic plate to break at my daughter’s engagement party. The pasuk, “ahavat olam tavi lahem” (bring them eternal love) is written on it. May we break such a plate?
Mazal tov! After commanding to destroy avoda zara, the Torah says: “Do not do so to Hashem” (Devarim 12:4). The gemara (Makkot 22a) takes this as a prohibition to destroy objects associated with Hashem/service of Him. The Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 6:1, 7) lists a few full violations: erasing a Name of Hashem, destructively removing a stone from a Temple or altar, and burning such a structure (ibid.). Destroying p’sukim from Tanach and their commentaries is a lower-level violation (ibid. 8). Thus, your concern is grounded, but we will look for alleviating factors.
First, presumably your interest is to break the plate, not specifically the pasuk. The gemara (Arachin 6a) says that holy writing on an object sanctifies only the part of the object that contains the text; one may cut off that part and use the rest of it (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 276:13). The rule of davar she’eino mitkaven allows one to do a permitted action even if it might (but also might not) unintentionally accomplish something that is prohibited (this rule is not limited to Shabbat - see Nazir 42a).
It is questionable though whether this reasoning would make it fully permitted to break a plate with a pasuk. After all, there are halachot that require one to avoid situations in which danger might come to holy texts (Ginzei Hakodesh 2:1; see Rosh Hashana 18b). To break the plate in a manner that the letters are likely to be severed is thus at least against the spirit of the law, if not its letter.
Common practice allows to erase words of Torah from a blackboard. While some posit that this is only permitted to replace it with other divrei Torah, due to little alternative (Shut HaTashbetz I:2), we erase blackboards after Torah classes even to use them for mundane writing. The Ein Yitzchak (OC 5:11) explains that when it was written in order to erase thereafter, it is considered as intention to not bestow kedusha on the writing. Similarly here, the plate designer wrote the text for it to be broken and the letters likely severed, and therefore it was not sanctified.
One could argue that only destructive breaking is forbidden (see Rambam ibid. 7), and here the breaking is a festive, holy act. However, this exaggerates the minhag. According to most (see Eliya Rabba, OC 560:7; Mishna Berura 560:9), the reason is to remember the pain of the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. Thus, our intention is to destroy, albeit for a good cause. The Aruch Hashulchan (Even Haezer 50:26) explains that breaking the vessel represents finalization of the tena’im document (which not everyone has at engagement parties). Either way, it is unclear that this is a sufficiently positive religious act to justify destroying something with a holy text. The Pri Megadim (60, MZ 4) explains that we use a vessel from pottery, preferably an already broken one, because the minhag does not justify wasting a fine utensil. Therefore, any trend to purposely make an arguably kadosh utensil just to break it seems regrettable.
Here, the plate was made with the best intentions, and there is likely concern about insulting your friend by not using it, and we have already seen reasonable grounds for leniency. This case has clearer grounds for leniency. First, the words’ meaning is borrowed (melitza) from the Torah context, a request that Hashem show his love for Israel (here it must be that the couple should have long-lasting love). The halachot of a pasuk do not apply to melitzot even using the precise words (Shulchan Aruch, YD 284:2). Finally, these words, are not a pasuk but come from Musaf of Rosh Chodesh (albeit modeled after Yirmiyahu 31:2). While we treat entire prayers with care, a few words from one without Hashem’s Name do not have kedusha (Ginzei Hakodesh 10:14). Therefore, you may break the plate in question.
A Renter Having a Zecher L’churbanThe house I am renting does not have an unpainted segment of wall as a zecher lachurban (a remembrance that the Beit Hamikdash has been destroyed). Should I make one?
The gemara (Bava Batra 60b) is the source of the halacha (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 56:1) to leave an amah X amah of wall unpainted. The gemara presents this and a couple of other small limitations on enjoyment as a balanced approach between showing no aveilut and those who stopped consuming meat and wine (which were parts of the Temple service).
The gemara states that one who acquires a fully painted home can leave it as is. Why is that so? The simple reading of the Radbaz (II:640) is that only a person who improperly painted is required to peel off paint. The Magen Avraham (560:1) says that one can leave it as is only if it might have been built in a permitted manner, e.g., even if he bought the house from a Jew, perhaps it was fully painted by a previous, non-Jewish owner. He and most poskim (see Mishna Berura 560:4) posit that if it was painted improperly, then even a subsequent owner must peel a section of paint.
So at first glance, the ruling for a renter depends on the landlord. If it is a non-Jew, who did nothing wrong, the paint can stay. If a Jew owns it, since he should have left an unpainted area, we obligate the present resident. However, the matter is more complex.
Some say that a renter is not considered like a temporary owner, and a non-owner who happens to be staying in a home is not required to make a zecher lachurban (Migdal Hashein 61; Avnei Yashfei I:116 disagrees). Thus, even if the owner sinned, the renter need not rectify like a buyer would. There is even an opinion that if it is built to be immediately sold or rented, the owner is not required to leave a zecher lachurban (Migdal Hashein ibid.; Igrot Moshe, OC III:86). While this makes more sense if the owner was not planning to sell or rent to a Jew, it is possible to exempt in both cases (ibid.; Mishneh Halachot V:71 disagrees). If so, the renter is not obligated since the gemara states that living there does not create an obligation to peel paint. If the renter paints himself, then he must leave over an unpainted area (Pri Megadim, 560, EA 4; Sha’arei Teshuva 560:3).
Most agree that if the owner does not permit, the renter may not and therefore is certainly exempt from peeling off paint (see opinions in Dirshu 560:10). If he lets on condition that the renter repaint fully before he leaves, there are two further reasons for leniency – 1. If he would otherwise not have to paint at the end, it is unclear whether the halacha was meant to require an outlay of money; 2. The full painting at the end (at least if the next resident is Jewish) might be worse than leaving things as they were (Avnei Yashfeh ibid.).
This final point highlights a chakira about the zecher lachurban. Is it a requirement to have a zecher lachurban to remind one about the Beit Hamikdash, or does the act of fully beautifying one’s house contradict our national aveilut? The term zecher lachurban implies the former approach (which Igrot Moshe ibid. posits). Actually the gemara does not mention it, but many Rishonim (including the Tur, OC 560) do. Parts of the gemara and several halachot or opinions imply that the idea is an aveilut prohibition (see Rashi, Bava Batra 60b). It is likely that a violation of the prohibition turns the house into a chillul Hashem that needs rectification. Among the cases that might depend on this chakira are: painting but having an alternative zecher (see Mishna Berura 560:3 and Sha’ar Hatziyun 8); having a palatial house with an unfinished area (see Radbaz ibid.); can there be a need for more than one such area (Mishna Berura ibid.). We cannot elaborate.
Because of some broad possibilities for leniency (including that our paint might not count (ibid. 2)) and the idea that we are generally lenient on this halacha (Radbaz ibid., Igrot Moshe ibid.), a renter may be lenient except when he paints in the midst of the rental period.
Chalaka (Upsherin) on Chol Hamo’edMy family’s custom is to first cut a child’s hair on his third birthday. Our grandson was born on Chol Hamo’ed Sukkot. The other set of grandparents live in chutz la’aretz and will be visiting for Sukkot, without time for a chalaka before or after chag. May we do the hair cutting on Chol Hamo’ed?
We must look at two things: 1. whether there is a prohibition on the hair cutting and, if so, its nature/extent; 2. whether the circumstances justify a dispensation.
Based on the basic laws of Chol Hamo’ed, haircuts should have been permitted, as melacha is permitted for needs (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 532:1). However, since the Rabbis wanted people to get haircuts/shave before the chag, they forbade doing so on the chag (Moed Katan 14a) unless one had certain special reasons he could not do so beforehand (ibid. 13b). The gemara (ibid. 14a-b) permits cutting the hair of a child, and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 531:6) rules that this is true not only for a newborn child (who had no chance before chag), but also for other children. The main explanation is that since children are not obligated in grooming themselves before Yom Tov, they are not subject to the special prohibition (Mishna Berura 571:15). However, the Magen Avraham (531:8) accepts the opinion in Rishonim that it is permitted only when the child has a real need for the haircutting (see also Aruch Hashulchan, OC 571:6). So, does having the chalaka on Chol Hamo’ed qualify as such a need?
Let us take a quick look at the centuries-old minhag of chalaka (mentioned already in the 16th century – see Radbaz II:608). The basic idea is that, when cutting the hair for the first time, one is careful that the payot are left prominently intact, based on the Torah’s commandment (Vayikra 19:27). Some connect this specifically to the age of 3, corresponding to the age of a tree when its fruits can first be used (see Taz, Yoreh Deah 245:3 regarding the related minhag of some of starting to teach the aleph bet at age 3 (Rama, YD 245:8)). Some view doing the upsherin on or near the birthday as important; others feel that the approximate age is fine or factor in other considerations, e.g., doing it on Lag Ba’omer and/or at Meiron or Shmuel Hanavi’s grave (see Nitei Gavriel, Upsherin 2:2).
If one is ambivalent about the whole practice or the timing, then it is questionable to pick Chol Hamo’ed for the haircutting. But you indicate that your minhag (implying your children’s as well) is to do it on the birthday. Most poskim posit that if the birthday is on Chol Hamo’ed, this is sufficient justification on its own (see Sha’arei Teshuva 531:7; Dirshu 531:14). Therefore, for you, there is no problem.
Regarding delaying it to Chol Hamo’ed to make it nicer, there is a machloket (Sha’arei Teshuva ibid. and Peulat Tzadik III:248 permit it; Be’er Moshe VII:20 forbids it). We want to point out (for whom and when it applies) that the idea of accommodating your in-laws would have been a more significant reason than just making a “nicer” event. The minhag applies to the child’s parents. They have a mitzva of kibbud av va’em towards their parents, who generally value taking part fully, for their own sake and for the child’s sake, in their grandchildren’s life-cycle events. While a chalaka is by no means a brit or a wedding, for many who have the minhag, it is significant. Also when young couples contemplate aliya, being away from family is often a major obstacle. Therefore, legitimate, measured leniency in matters that keep the family close is appropriate when it encourages aliya and helps make it work. (The interplay of kibbud av va’em and making aliya is interesting but not for now – see Rav Yisraeli in Amud HaYemini 22).
On Chol Hamo’ed, often a melacha is permitted, but it is forbidden to pay a Jew to do the work, unless he is really impoverished (Shulchan Aruch, OC 542:2). Assuming it is hard to find such a barber, it is at least recommended to have only “volunteers” do the cutting on Chol Hamo’ed (Kaf Hachayim, OC 531:30).
Measuring the Amount One Can Eat/DrinkI will need to drink on Yom Kippur in shiurim (small amounts at a time to lower the violation). Should I prepare the portions of liquid beforehand in order to not have to measure on Yom Kippur?
There is a Rabbinic prohibition to measure things (medida) on Shabbat and Yom Tov. It comes up in the context of selling holiday provisions on Yom Tov, which may be done in certain ways – one is not allowed to measure the food in a special utensil for that purpose (Beitza 29a). The gemara (ad loc.) places this prohibition under the category of uvdin d’chol (weekday-like activities).
The gemara (Shabbat 157a-b) refers to the violation of medida on Shabbat in the context of an exception – when the measuring is done for mitzva reasons. The case there is measuring the space above a grave in order to know what areas will be affected by its tuma.
The mitzva exception applies to measuring to determine how much a sick person may eat on Yom Kippur, either way you look at it. If one eats too much, he unnecessarily violates Yom Kippur. If he eats too little, he may improperly risk his life (see Mateh Ephrayim 618:11). Actually, even if the therapeutic need is not remotely life-threatening, it is permitted to measure, and it is not clear how sick a person needs to be (see Eliya Rabba 306:21; Mishna Berura 306:36).
Although mitzva needs are not usually grounds to waive Rabbinic prohibitions, the Mishna Berura (306:34) explains that it is possible here because medida is only forbidden due to uvdin d’chol. One can explain that, as a relatively weak prohibition, mitzva need overcomes it. However, it is more likely that it means that if the greater context is for a mitzva purpose, it is not considered mundane. The Pri Megadim (306, EA 16, cited in Mishna Berura 306:35) learns from the Terumat Hadeshen (I:54) that one may measure the halachic elements of a mixture to see if the permitted part “nullifies the forbidden by sixty (bitul).” The permissibility does not seem to be based on the great need for the food, but that since the concept is halachic investigation, it is not defined as uvdin d’chol.
Therefore, it may be surprising that the Kaf Hachayim (OC 618:40) states that it is proper to measure before Yom Kippur. He cites (in OC 323:62) a Pri Megadim (EA 323:14) who says that one should measure before, but that seems to be because the action of measuring makes the bitul considered fixing an object. Igrot Moshe (OC V:18) infers from the Magen Avraham (306:16) that one may measure for halachic determination even without a need but does not understand why that is so (perhaps regarding a sick person who could have prepared before Shabbat, Rav Feinstein would not have questioned the leniency). An early source permitting measuring for Yom Kippur amounts, the Sefer Hachinuch (mitzva 313), implies that there must be a particular need to do so on Yom Kippur.
It is recommended, on practical (see Mateh Ephrayim ibid.) as well as halachic grounds, to prepare a utensil with the right size for Yom Kippur drinking or marking it at the right spot, before Yom Kippur. However, it is unnecessary to pour out all the needed servings in advance, for the following reasons.
First, most poskim do not mention the Kaf Hachaim’s stringency (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 29:39; Orchot Shabbat 22:120). Even If one wants to be machmir, one does not have to go to the trouble of preparing all the servings. If one does not measure precisely, the Rama (OC 323:1) does not consider it measuring – if one draws a line at the exactly right spot, he must not exceed it, but putting in slightly less is usually fine medically. The Shulchan Aruch (ad loc.) does not cite this leniency, and Yalkut Yosef rules like the Shulchan Aruch. If one drinks from the cup, then pouring into it is not considered measuring, which exists when one pours into a measuring utensil just for the measuring and then removes it (Shulchan Aruch, OC 323:1). (This leniency might not apply to a solid that one has to carefully fit into the shape of the measuring utensil.)
Buying Land for ShemittaA group provides the opportunity to buy agricultural land in Israel for the Shemitta year. Is that worthwhile?
We start with an overview of the agricultural mitzvot of Shemitta along with a brief analysis of the significance of obtaining land ownership.
The Rambam (Lo Ta’aseh 220-223) lists four such negative commandments, about: 1) working the land; 2) tending to the trees; 3) reaping the produce in the normal way; 4) harvesting fruit of the trees in the normal way. The prohibition of working the land applies even to one who does not own the land. There is a machloket whether there is a Torah prohibition on harvesting someone else’s field (Chazon Ish, Shvi’it 12:5 is lenient; Rav Auerbach, Ma’adanei Eretz 7:4 is stringent). In any case, the reward for refraining from aveirot is a function of the availability of and the temptation toward the aveira (see Kiddushin 39b with Rashi). One who owns a distant, small piece of land is not tempted to work it. Just as we would not suggest buying a donkey and bull to refrain from plowing with them together, the above is not a reason to obtain land before Shemitta.
The positive mitzvot are more pertinent. There is a machloket Rishonim whether the positive state of cessation from working the land (Rambam, Aseh 135) is a function of an individual’s work irrespective of ownership (Rambam, Shemitta 1:1) or whether it is a landowner’s responsibility to ensure his field is not worked (Ritva, Avoda Zara 15b). A third approach holds Jews responsible to save the land from being worked, including by redeeming it from non-Jews who may work it (Netziv, Vayikra 25:4). According to the Rambam, obtaining land is not a factor in creating the positive fulfillment. According to the Ritva, buying creates an opportunity to fulfill the mitzva. According to the Netziv (whose opinion is not standard), the mitzva entails obtaining land that would otherwise be worked.
There is also a mitzva to deal properly with the fruit of trees and other things planted
before Shemitta, including treating them as ownerless (Aseh 134). While certain elements of the halachot of what to do with the fruit can also be fulfilled by non-landowners in Israel (beyond out present scope), buying a field certainly enhances the buyer’s ability to fulfill this mitzva.
Another gain of buying land is helping farmers keep Shemitta properly. Rav Kook (see his introduction to Shabbat Ha’aretz) and all other poskim who supported the heter mechira, did so for those who were unwilling or unable (without extreme financial hardship) to keep the mitzva as designed. Thus buying land from them helps interested farmers survive without needing to rely on the reluctantly provided leniencies. This is similar to giving ma’ot chitim to one who cannot afford mehadrin Pesach provisions or donating to “halachically improve” a mikveh. (One who rejects the heter mechira would view it as saving people from actual sin.) If the farmer would anyway not work the land, but with financial difficulty, buying from him is supporting a deserving person.
If one purchases the field at its value (including overhead), it is proper to not use ma’aser kesafim money, which is not for personal mitzvot one can afford (see Tzedaka U’mishpat 6:1). A donation (without buying land, or the part of the price that is beyond the land’s value) to an organization that helps farmers may be taken from ma’aser money (see ibid. 10).
While there are wonderful organizations to help with all sorts of tzedaka and mitzva needs, sometimes there are people “in the field” who plan to earn a lot of money in the process of providing a “quick mitzva fix.” We therefore recommend that one check that he is either paying a modest fee for land ownership, if those elements speak to him, or better yet, joining up with known organizations that help farmers and enhance the observance of Shemitta, with or without technically buying a small plot of land.
Air Conditioner Drain Pipe during ShemittaIn preparation for the upcoming Shemitta year, should I reroute my air conditioner drain pipe so that it does not drip in an area around vegetation?
While watering is not one of the four melachot that are forbidden by the Torah on Shemitta (planting/sewing, pruning, reaping, and harvesting), watering is forbidden Rabbinically (Mo’ed Katan 3a).
Let us first see what the halacha would be if this watering were happening on Shabbat. While one is allowed to do action A to get the permitted result A even if it might unintentionally cause forbidden result B, it is forbidden from the Torah if action A will certainly cause result B (p’sik reishei – Shabbat 75a). On the other hand, there is an important machloket about whether p’sik reishei is forbidden even if one has no interest in the result (lo nicha lei) and the prohibition is only Rabbinic. The Terumat Hadeshen (64) is lenient and the Magen Avraham (314:5), it is forbidden. While some poskim rule leniently (Yabia Omer V, OC 28), the standard ruling is to be stringent (Mishna Berura 314:11). However, here there are additional reasons to be lenient. One is that the fact that the water comes out of the pipe at a distance from the place of the main activity. Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (12:(51)) posits that this is considered the equivalent of gerama (indirect causation) and be permitted even in a p’sik reishei.
There are various reasons to be more lenient regarding Shemitta. The simplest is that we can throw in an additional reason that there is no Torah prohibition involved, and that is because we usually assume that Shemitta in our days is only Rabbinic in any case (Rav Kook, introduction to Shabbat Ha’aretz; Chazon Ish, Shvi’it 3:8). This is not infrequently used as the rationale for relatively lenient rulings on matters of Shemitta.
The more fundamental question is whether Shemitta should be forbidden at all when there is no intention for agricultural gain by one’s action. Let us start with the gemara in Sanhedrin (26a). Reish Lakish saw one cutting off a branch from a grapevine and criticized him for pruning. Others responded that perhaps he just needed a vine branch for tying something down. Tosafot (ad loc.) asks what difference did it make what his intentions were if he did an act of pruning and answers that it was talking about a case in which it was not beneficial. The simple reading of Tosafot implies that the intention for something else would not help when the action is agriculturally positive. The Aruch Hashulchan He’atid (Shemitta 19:22) assumes this approach.
The Chazon Ish (Shvi’it 19:14) posits that regarding a case of no intention whatsoever for improvement, there is no fundamental violation of Shemitta, and if done in a manner in which this is clear, it is permitted. Therefore, in a case like putting on an air-conditioner, where it is absolutely clear that his action’s intent is unrelated to watering plants outside, it is permitted. The logic can be as Rav Yisraeli (Eretz Hemdah I, additional pieces to Shaar II:2) presents to explain the Rambam’s leniency about doing work in a field that is not his own. The nature of the prohibitions on Shemitta are not innate but require one to refrain from actions that show his dominion over his land. Therefore, even if a melacha was technically performed, if it was in a way that is unrelated to treating his agricultural land as his own, it is permitted.
Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Derech Emunah, Shvi’it 1:2:(18) cites Rav Elyashiv as forbidding having the air-conditioner drip on an area with vegetation, which apparently rejects all of the leniencies above as well as the confluence of all of them. However, we agree with Minchat Asher (Shvi’it p. 25) who says that one need not be concerned about the air conditioner drip. (He adds that the way the water drips, often from well above on one spot could even be not good for whatever is growing below.) He also reports a discussion with Rav Kanievsky, in which he too agreed to be lenient when one’s intention is not to thereby water the garden.
Playing Darts on ShabbatCan we play darts on Shabbat? (Additional information requested – the darts are classic ones that pierce the board’s surface; the board hangs loosely from a nail in the wall; in between uses, the darts often stay on the board.)
There are several possible problems to resolve before we can permit this.
Tofer (sewing) – It is forbidden to attach two objects or two parts of an object to each other by stitching or the equivalent (see Mishna Berura 340:27). One can claim that connecting darts to the board is considered tofer. A full violation requires at least two stitches (Shabbat 73a) and here every dart is connected in only one place, but it could still be a Rabbinic prohibition. On the other hand, certain types of connections are permitted because they are for temporary opening/closing, e.g., buttons, zippers (Orchot Shabbat 11:7-8). One can argue that likewise the nature of the darts game is to connect them just long enough to see how many you placed where. Regarding the very similar case of using one thumbtack to attach a note to a bulletin board, Piskei Teshuvot (313:(157)) distinguishes between setups based on how long they are likely to stay pinned. In this case, the game would not be a problem, but leaving the darts on the board or removing them when starting to play could be. However, it is not clear that this is so for a flimsy, single connection. Also, the fact that the dart is not connecting two things but connecting itself flimsily may preclude it from being tofer (Orchot Shabbat 11:(14)).
Boneh (Building) – 1) The dart being attached to the board changes the board. However, having darts in the board in no way improves the board; it is just a fleeting situation of the game or a meaningless one during storage. Furthermore, since the dart board is only hanging from a nail and not itself attached to the wall, we are dealing with the more lenient matter of building utensils. Therefore, if one connects them lightly (e.g., a dart in its board), and especially if it is by nature a weak connection, this is not a violation of building a utensil (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 313:6).
2) It is forbidden to attach a nail to a structure (Shabbat 103a). This applies not just to a building/something attached to the ground, but even to a movable object (Mishna Berura 314:8). However, the K’tzot Hashulchan (119:(4)) says that if one attaches something not to use there but just for it to remain until it is removed later, it is permitted. One can prove that connecting one object to another just to hold the former for later use elsewhere is not intrinsically forbidden, from the gemara (Shabbat 50b) that one may return firmly to a wall a knife that had been held there previously.
Making or expanding a hole – It is forbidden to make or widen a hole in an object such as a barrel (Shulchan Aruch, OC 314:1). In playing darts, every successful throw makes a small hole in the board. However, the prohibition is when the hole is the type that is or could be useful (see Mishna Berura ad loc. 8). In this case, though, the holes are incidental and unhelpful.
Destroying – Holes created hasten making the board usable. Destroying utensils except flimsy ones to remove their contents on Shabbat is forbidden Rabbinically (Shulchan Aruch ibid. and Mishna Berura ad loc. 7). Yet, piercing a cork with a cork screw is permitted (Mishna Berura 314:17; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 9:20). The cork’s hole is neither a problem of being constructive or destructive and, practically, each hole the dart makes in the board is even less significant. Forbidding it because continuous dart throwing will eventually wear out the board is like forbidding walking in shoes because they will eventually get worn out. We also find that it is permitted to make a hole in a piece of paper (Mishna Berura 323:20), with the possible exception of when the hole is made in a place that communicates information (see Magen Avraham 323:5).
In all, you can play darts; you might want, as a chumra, to avoid storing the darts on the board.
Changes in Tefilla for those Visiting Israel?I hope to visit Israel this summer. Should I say “morid hatal” in Shemoneh Esrei like Israelis, and should I continue to say Baruch Hashem L’olam (=BHLO) at Ma’ariv?
First, realize that neither of these differences has to do with being in Eretz Yisrael per se (in contrast to the different practices of asking for rain between 7 Marcheshvan and Dec. 4). Rather, in both matters to which you refer, there is a machloket which applies throughout the world, just that practical halacha has developed that for many Ashkenazim, their natural community rules one way in Eretz Yisrael and another way abroad.
Let us review the basic rules of competing allegiance between our personal familial minhagim, our communal ones, and our regard for the place we presently are in. Generally and conceptually, communal minhagim takes precedence over personal minhagim when one is set in a community, even if he was not raised there (see Pesachim 51a; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 214:2; Living the Halachic Process I, H-12). Therefore, if you moved to Israel permanently (generally, very recommended), you would begin saying morid hatal in the summer and not recite BHLO at Ma’ariv. However, as a visitor, your basic halacha is to continue your practices.
An exception to the rule is based on the important halacha not to publicly do things that contradict the local minhag because of the conflict this could cause. This includes not being more lenient and, when possible, not being noticeably stricter than the locals are (Pesachim 51b-52a).
Saying or not saying morid hatal is certainly not noticeable. The poskim do not view even the longer BHLO as obtrusive if said quietly for travelers in either direction (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim II:102), and therefore you should continue silently as regular.
As chazan, though, one must conform to the local practice to avoid machloket. This is no real concern regarding morid hatal. The gemara (Ta’anit 3a) says that mentioning tal (dew) in tefilla is only optional because it is always present in Eretz Yisrael. Skipping BHLO is also not a problem because it is only a non-unanimous, post-Talmudic institution, based on the idea that the 18 p’sukim recited can represent the Shemoneh Esrei, which not always was done at Ma’ariv in shul because people were afraid of going home late (Tur, OC 236).
The only dilemma is whether it is permitted for a traveler/chazan from Israel to recite it abroad, as he is adding a beracha that his minhag does not recognize. However, there is halachic precedent for a chazan doing this type of thing. The gemara (Pesachim 106a) tells of Rav Ashi being asked as a visitor in Mechoza to make Kiddush on Shabbat morning in a way that sounded like they wanted him to include the beracha of Mekadesh HaShabbat. While he had misunderstood, the gemara implies he was willing to conform to the perceived local practice. The Chida (Chayim Sha’al I:99) rules based on this that a Sephardi who is chazan at an Ashkenazi minyan on Rosh Chodesh may recite the beracha on Hallel, against his regular minhag. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechaveh Da’at IV:31) disagrees, but to a great extent because of the word v’tzivanu (He commanded us), which is not used in BHLO. The consensus is that an Israeli may recite BHLO as a chazan abroad if necessary (Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:88; B’tzel Hachochma IV:25). However, it is likely worthwhile to avoid being chazan if not necessary (ibid.).
In your case, though, it is fine to be chazan for no particular need because BHLO may be skipped for a simple need, such as if it will cause you to start Shemoneh Esrei after the tzibbur (Mishna Berura 236:11). You would not be required to make it up after Shemoneh Esrei, although you could do so if you leave out the beracha at the end (ibid.). As an individual as well, you should not recite it if it will cause you to start Shemoneh Esrei after the tzibbur. If you turn out to be a few seconds late, that is fine (B’tzel Hachochma IV:3), and you can answer Y’hei Shmei Rabba and the amen to Kaddish in the middle of BHLO (ibid. 27).
Homeopathic Remedies on ShabbatIs it permitted to ingest homeopathic remedies on Shabbat?
We start with our approach to “alternative medicine,” which includes homeopathy (some use the terms interchangeably). Alternative medicine is subject to disagreement, from the grass roots to health agencies. As in most realms, extreme opinions are likely incorrect. Some treatments under the umbrella of alternative medicine are helpful; others are quackery and serve as a placebo at best (although sometimes placebos are useful). The efficacy or even safety of some medicines and treatments (homeopathic or conventional) is uncertain or varies from person to person. We are not in the position to take a stand on which treatments fall into which category. For the purpose of this general question, we will treat the remedy in question as one to which the user legitimately attributes medicinal efficacy and about which the objective observer is rightly skeptical.
It is prohibited to perform medical procedures, including ingesting medicine, to cure or calm a non-severe malady (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 328:37). The rationale is concern that one who is involved in such activity might violate Shabbat in the process, i.e., by grinding herbs (Shabbat 53b). The cases in which the prohibition does not apply fall into two broad categories: 1. When the need justifies certain halachic compromises (see Shulchan Aruch ibid. 17). Nafal l’mishkav (needing to lie down) is a classic description of such need (Rama, OC 328:37). 2. When the procedure is not considered dealing with illness or is otherwise dissimilar from cases in which there is a concern of chillul Shabbat.
In category #1, since normal Halacha is compromised, the steps taken must be truly warranted. Therefore, the Magen Avraham (328:1) allows chillul Shabbat to save a life only if the medicine is known (not theorized) to be effective (based on the Rama, Yoreh Deah 155:3 regarding eating non-kosher medicine). Therefore, even if someone is sick or suffering enough to allow medicine, he should not be allowed to use a homeopathic medicine if that is not scientifically accepted (as Halacha grants medical experts authority to determine the medical situation in a given case (Shulchan Aruch, OC 328:10)).
However, our case is different from the Magen Avraham’s in a couple of ways. On the one hand, there the need is to save a life, which brought the Pri Megadim (ad loc.) to ask why one may not try even an otherwise forbidden treatment of unknown efficacy if it is the only chance at survival. On the other hand, the violations to be waived are of a Torah level, whereas here we only need to waive a Rabbinic violation, so might even an unproven remedy not suffice? Actually, the Pri Megadim says that is specifically by a Rabbinic prohibition and not life-threatening illness that we need a proven medicine.
Might one argue that if the medicine is legitimate, it should be permitted based on need, and if it is not, it should be permitted because it is a non-medicine? Halachic logic dictates that it is not the status of medicine that causes the prohibition but that a sick person is searching for a cure that is close enough to cases of possible chillul Shabbat. In that way, homeopathic medicine is no better than conventional medicine.
Therefore, we believe that most homeopathic (see Shevet Halevi V:55) and other unproven treatments are forbidden on Shabbat (we will not get into defining what activities might be outside the realm of medicine and therefore permitted – see Mishna Berura 306:36). If one wants to use them for nagging situations that are not nafal l’mishkav, standard medicines are also problematic. Usually little is lost if one takes doses right before and after Shabbat. Presumably, one can use the leniency of inserting the medicine into a food or drink so that it is indiscernible before Shabbat and then eating on Shabbat (see Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 21; Orchot Shabbat 20:131). In unique cases, one who perceives great need and no alternatives should contact his rabbi and/or doctor.
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