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Finishing Time for MinchaAm I correct that l’chatchila, it is proper to start Mincha early enough to finish before shekiah? If so, what are the key sources on the matter?
Question: Am I correct that l’chatchila, it is proper to start Mincha early enough to finish before shekiah? If so, what are the key sources on the matter?
Answer: There are two opinions in the gemara (Berachot 27a) about the end time for Mincha – until plag haMincha or the erev (evening). The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 233:1) says that the latter opinion, which most people now regularly follow, is until layla (night), which for the Shulchan Aruch (see Mishna Berura 261:20) is around an hour after sunset. (There are two major approaches in the poskim whether what the gemara calls shekiah, which is the first part of the break-off point between day and night, is what we call sunset or is when the sun is well under the horizon. This machloket has many direct and indirect halachic implications, and this is one of them.) The great majority of us (except those who follow the much later opinion for the end of Shabbat and the time to start Ma’ariv known as Rabbeinu Tam/Magen Avraham) follow the opinion (often called the Gra’s opinion) that halachic shekiah is sunset. The Rama (ad loc.) is more specific, saying that this means tzeit hakochavim (stars coming out).
The Mishna Berura (233:14) points out that they do not mean full night, i.e., tzeit hakochavim. Rather, the intention is for approximately a quarter hour before, when bein hashemashot starts and it is a doubt whether it is night or day. Furthermore, he contends that many disagree with the Shulchan Aruch and follow sunset like the Gra. Therefore, indeed shekiah is the presumed cut-off point. Because there are opinions that later is sufficient, there is room for leniency in times of great need (Mishna Berura, ibid), especially within the first thirteen and a half minutes, which is no later than bein hashemashot (see also Shevet Halevi IX:48).
Does one only have to start or also finish in time? Most poskim posit that, as a rule, things must be finished by their time limit, and this rule also applies to Mincha (Mishna Berura ibid., Ishei Yisrael 27:6). A minority say the beginning is enough (Aruch Hashulchan, OC 110:5; see sources in Ishei Yisrael 27:(12)). Therefore, many poskim (Mishna Berura ibid., Ishei Yisrael 27:6) say that it is better to daven without a minyan before shekiah than to finish it after shekiah with a minyan (ibid.). One could claim that given the minority opinions above and here, there is more reason for leniency if one starts soon before and ends soon after sunset (see Piskei Teshuvot 233:7). This, though, is not simple for those who do not heed Rabbeinu Tam’s opinion at all.
Fundamentally, there is little difference between Shemoneh Esrei and chazarat hashatz, which, after all, is supposed to be Shemoneh Esrei for certain individuals and/or the tzibbur. On the other hand, if everyone already got in their own Shemoneh Esrei, the stakes regarding chazarat hashatz are lower. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that there is a machloket among Acharonim whether it is better to do a shortened chazarat hashatz (heiche Kedusha) or to finish chazarat hashatz after shekiah (see Ishei Yisrael 27:40). Thus, it is quite important to finish chazarat hashatz in time. However, several poskim say that if one is in a shul in which chazarat hashatz is being done after shekiah, even one who does not accept that approach may answer Amen (see Maharam Shick, OC 91; Shevet Halevi IX:20; Tefilla K’hilchata 18:33).While we do not put our heads down for Tachanun at night, the Mishna Berura (131:17) says that it can be done during bein hashemashot (certainly including thirteen and a half minutes after sunset). He also says (ibid. 16) that one can say the words of Tachanun without putting his head down even at night. We note, though, that several report a minhag Yerushalayim not to recite Tachanun after shekiah (see Halichot Shlomo 13:4). Reciting Kaddish Titkabel (after chazarat hashatz) after shekiah is not a problem whether one finished chazarat hashatz before or after shekiah (see Ishei Yisrael 27:39).
Use of Salad Slicers on ShabbatMay I use a salad slicer (approximately, a hand-operated food processor) on Shabbat?
The gemara (Shabbat 74b) states, according to the explanation of several Rishonim, that cutting certain vegetables into small pieces is a Torah-level violation of tochen (grinding).
There are several lenient opinions that limit the scope of this prohibition on cutting. Some say (see Tosafot ad loc.) that it applies only to foods that are not edible whole, which makes cutting them into small, edible pieces a significant and thus forbidden change. The Rambam (Shabbat 21:18) implies that it is only when it is cut up in preparation for its being cooked. These two possibilities, and especially when one connects them, logically make cutting comparable to grinding grains to be used for baking bread. A further leniency is cited by many, including the Rama (Orach Chayim 321:12), in the name of the Rashba (Shut IV:75). The Rashba says that cutting done soon before consumption is considered part of the eating process and not a forbidden melacha, similar to the distinction regarding borer (selecting).
If one makes a standard salad right before the Shabbat meal it would thus seem that there should be several grounds to permit the matter. However, there are a few difficulties in allowing use of a salad slicer on Shabbat. First, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 321:12) considers the cutting into small pieces of all vegetables, even not for the purpose of cooking, as a full-fledged violation of tochen. Furthermore, the Magen Avraham (321:15) is among those who are unhappy with the leniency of cutting soon before eating (see Mishna Berura 321:45), at least when the vegetables are cut very small.
In this regard, a simple compromise is to indeed turn the device only enough for the vegetables to, by and large, be cut into relatively large pieces. Many poskim point out that there are no exact dimensions for what is considered small, and that the matter is relative to the normal preparation of the salad (see Dirshu 321:59). There is also a machloket about when a vegetable is cut thin in one dimension but remains larger in the other two dimensions (and thus, for example, the pieces still need to be chewed before swallowing). Igrot Moshe (OC IV, 74) is lenient on the matter, while some others say that cutting thin in any dimension is a problem (see Orchot Shabbat 5:(12)).
However, it is still a problem to use a salad slicer because it is a utensil that is made for the purpose of cutting into small enough pieces to be considered tochen. The Biur Halacha (to 321:12) follows the comparison that the Rashba made to borer. For borer, it is not enough that the selecting is done for short-term use, but it also must not use a utensil because that makes it more work-like. Using a regular knife that is used for cutting of all shapes and sizes does not impact the permissibility because that is the way that permitted cutting is done as well. However, when one uses a special set of blades which is made for making salads of small pieces, it is forbidden even if he limits the use so that it does not, in this case, produce small pieces (ibid.). This is on two possible grounds. One is that it turns the action into one which is closer to classic tochen. The other is that use of such a special preparing machine is a violation of uvdin d’chol, weekday-like activity, even in cases when the melacha of tochen does not apply to the object being cut (Shulchan Aruch, OC 321:10).There are some types of salad preparation gadgets that always leave the pieces quite large. It that case, it is possible (some require that the pieces be bigger than usual) that there is neither a direct prohibition of tochen nor a problem of uvdin d’chol (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 6:3). We cannot give you an opinion without seeing the operation of the specific appliance. In general, it is a good idea to either prepare the salad before Shabbat or use a regular knife.
Doubt Whether you Recited Birkat HaTorahI usually recite Birkat HaTorah on the way to shul. This morning, I was mentally preoccupied, and I have reason to suspect I did not say it. I thought of this when I came home and asked my wife, who had not yet recited it, to do so with me answering Amen. Did that cover my obligation?
The gemara (Berachot 21a) cites the pasuk of “When I call out Hashem’s Name, give greatness to our G-d” (Devarim 32:3) as the source for Birkat HaTorah. Given the apparent Torah-level of Birkat HaTorah, most poskim (see Shaagat Aryeh 46) posit that although usually in the face of a doubt about whether one is obligated in a beracha we refrain from it, we require a Birkat HaTorah when there is doubt (see Mishna Berura 47:1). Some prominent opinions prefer not to make Birkat HaTorah when one suspects he might have already recited it, due to the opinions that Birkat HaTorah is Rabbinic (see ibid.). However, if there is no other option, one should recite only the second beracha (“… asher bachar banu”) (ibid.; Ishei Yisrael 6:10).
There are usually other options. The gemara (Berachot 11b) says that if one realized he did not recite Birkat HaTorah and it is now after davening, he is exempt because he fulfilled the mitzva by reciting Ahava Rabba (before Kri’at Shema), which expresses our appreciation of Torah study. It does not mention a need for special kavana to thereby fulfill Birkat HaTorah. Thus, since you are after davening, you would seem to have no problem. However, the Yerushalmi (cited by Tosafot, ad loc.) says that this works only if one learned “directly after” Ahava Rabba. Some say that Kri’at Shema, which are words of Torah, counts for this. Others require other words of Torah, although these can be recited right after davening (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 47:7-8). Unless you learned something not “davening-related” before you left, your status depends on this unresolved machloket.
It is agreed that women are expected to recite Birkat HaTorah (see Shulchan Aruch ibid. 14). This is surprising considering that women are exempt from Torah study (Rambam, Talmud Torah 1:13) and Sephardi women do not recite a beracha for a mitzva in which they are not obligated (Shulchan Aruch, OC 589:6). The Beit Yosef (ad loc.) and Magen Avraham (47:14) explain that women need to make Birkat HaTorah because there they are required to learn how to perform the many halachot that apply to them and because there are Torah passages in their davening. The Gra (ad loc.) posits that women are not obligated in Birkat HaTorah, as they lack the normal obligation to learn Torah, but that they are still permitted and expected to recite it anyway. The Biur Halacha (to 47:14) says that one consequence of the various explanations is whether women can enable men to fulfill their obligation. According to the Beit Yosef/Magen Avraham they can because both are obligated in Birkat HaTorah. According to the Gra, a woman’s voluntary beracha cannot count for an obligated man (see Rosh Hashana 29a). So whether your wife’s beracha helped you once again depends on a machloket.
There is another reason for leniency in your case. Your routine, which you took part in, includes Birkat HaTorah. Regarding someone who is not sure if he said the right rain-related matters in Shemoneh Esrei, we assume he followed his norm, which depends on how long has passed since the change to the present version (Shulchan Aruch, OC 114:8). This would indicate that you did recite Birkat HaTorah. Furthermore, the Mishna Berura (114:38) rules that if a person’s doubt whether he made a mistake arose only after davening is over, he can assume he did it right. You starting doubting yourself only after davening was over, well after the omission would have taken place. Therefore, you may assume you did things right (even if not with the greatest kavana) unless you have a conviction to the contrary.
Putting all the indications together, you are not required to look for someone else to recite Birkat HaTorah for you again and certainly should not do it yourself.
Approach to Kidney DonationIs it a requirement, a proper thing, or an improperly exaggerated act of chesed to donate a kidney to someone with whom the only connection is that you both are Jews?
[People often ask whether our questions are sent in or whether I make them up. Actually, the great majority are sent in. However, this question is one I asked myself for myself. Also, I did not answer it in our usual style. A little background: after deciding I wanted to donate a kidney, I asked my posek this question. His conviction is that while one is not required to donate, it is a very big mitzva to exceed one’s chesed obligation and do so. He also ruled that if I donate, I am obligated to share this fact with as many people as possible to encourage others (very healthy middle-aged men and women) to consider it. I have decided that after a very brief discussion of the halachic issues, I will share a unique Torah-based approach (not ruling) that motivated me (intellectually).]
The Radbaz (III:627) was asked whether one who can save a Jew’s life by agreeing to sacrifice a limb should do so. He responded that one is not required to make such a life-altering sacrifice but that doing so would be an “act of chasidut.” He continues that if giving the limb endangers his life (as he assumes), only a “chasid shoteh (crazy)” would agree. There seem to be differing opinions within Chazal about endangering oneself to save someone in great danger (see S’ma 426:2).
There are decades-old teshuvot (Minchat Yitzchak VI:103; Tzitz Eliezer IX:45) that discourage kidney donation due to perceived dangers. However, the present consensus encourages it, as Rav Yisraeli did decades ago (Chavot Binyamin 109). All surgery has some danger, but these days it is negligible for healthy people. There are slight disadvantages to having one kidney. It can be life-threatening, but uncommonly so for those who pass the rigorous pre-donation testing. However, it is unclear, based on what we have learned (so far) in the last few decades, whether the Radbaz would consider a donor a chasid shoteh. Poskim (see Pitchei Teshuva, CM 426:2; Mishna Berura 329:19) and the Radbaz elsewhere (see Chavot Binyamin ibid.) urge people not to exaggerate self-concern when others need saving.
When there is a communal danger from attackers, Jews are expected to come, even on Shabbat with weapons, to defend their counterparts (Eruvin 45a; Shulchan Aruch, OC 329:6-7). Considering that there must be some danger to the defenders, doesn’t this contradict the Radbaz?
The following approach is based on the way I was taught at Eretz Hemdah and by Rav Yisraeli to view communal needs, especially in the State of Israel. Members of Israeli society face many dangers – hostile countries, criminals, national disasters, etc. People (soldiers, policeman, firefighters, etc.) risk their lives to protect society. Nationally, we are far better off with an apparatus of protection than to have everyone fend for themselves. But who should risk his life? We draft, appeal to, and/or provide incentives for people to take these positions. I believe that no posek would forbid being an Israeli soldier or policeman based on the Radbaz.
Similarly, if society, as guided by doctors, lawmakers, and poskim, has to decide whether to encourage healthy people to accept difficulties and minor risks to save recipients from extended dialysis and/or death, the logical answer is, “Yes!” It is just a matter of finding the right number and profiles of donors. The government provides incentives (including modest “financial gratitude”), the most important being that the donor’s family goes to the top of the list of future recipients if needed. It also ensures careful screening. When organizations (e.g., Matnat Chaim), rabbis, and others (I am hereby trying) succeed in presenting the matter to the public eye, our philanthropically-minded nation will respond appropriately. We’re getting closer to providing the desired number of donors but need more work. If Israel is not the world leader yet, let us be soon!
Is Raising Children a Mitzva? – part IIIs it a mitzva to care for one’s own children: feeding, changing diapers, getting them to bed, etc.? If so, what is the source? Does it apply equally to men and women? If it is not a mitzva, wouldn't any mitzva take precedence over such activities?
[Last time we saw that even if taking care of one’s children were not a mitzva, it would be a proper, central reality of life, to be done even when it takes away from one’s ability to perform certain mitzvot and delays others. Now we will see sources that indicate that it is a mitzva in its own way.]
The gemara (Ketubot 50a) states: “‘Praiseworthy is one who guards justice, who does tzedaka every moment’ (Tehillim 106:3). Is it possible to do tzedaka every moment? Our rabbis in Yavneh said that it refers to one who supports his sons and daughters when they are young.” Let us consider two difficulties in this gemara: 1. Why is supporting one’s own children considered tzedaka? (The gemara’s next opinion attributes the pasuk to raising orphans). 2. How is supporting one’s children “every moment”? Rashi answers both questions: 1. It is talking about an age at which there is no full obligation to support. The support of close family members actually has tzedaka precedence over others, unless there is a halachic obligation (e.g., a husband to a wife) (Shulchan Aruch, YD 251:3). 2. “Always, day and night, they are his responsibility.” I understand “day and night” that it is not just giving money, which one can do in a moment, but that whatever needs arise can and often do fall upon him.
The gemara (Makkot 8a) says that a father is exempt from the consequences of injuring his son while disciplining him because it is a mitzva. It does not make sense that discipline is a mitzva and positive elements of child-rearing are not. Thus, we have another indication of a mitzva to raise children.
However, one will not find this mitzva in one of the “lists of mitzvot,” as it is not a free-standing mitzva. The Rambam (Avel 14:1) lists several acts of kindness as Rabbinic positive mitzvot, including visiting the sick, comforting mourners, involvement in a funeral, and escorting a guest, among other acts. He concludes: “Although all of these mitzvot are of Rabbinic origin, they are included in ‘v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha’ (You shall love your friend like yourself) (Vayikra 19:18).” This formulation is paradoxical. On the one hand, if these mitzvot are Rabbinic, they are not from the Torah, but on the other hand, they are included in a mitzva of the Torah! This apparently means the following. The Torah requires one to do his fair share of acts of kindness. One person could fill his whole kindness quota on, say, visiting the sick, and never take part in funerals or have guests. Therefore, the Rabbis instituted an independent obligation in each of the matters listed.
Actions of raising children are not on the list above although the Rambam does mention applications elsewhere in his work (Matanot Ani’im 10:16 for one). It is possible the list is not exhaustive. It is also possible (see part I) that not only the Torah but even the Rabbis left these matters for a person to do voluntarily, in principle, even though practically, from a human perspective, they are activities that are incumbent upon him. Indeed, if one is not able (for various reasons) to do a lot of the caring for children, he/she can arrange for others (e.g., pre-school, day care) to take major parts in providing the child’s physical, educational, and emotional needs. However, when a mother or father acts normally, which includes a tremendous amount of work raising his children, this is a fulfillment of “v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha.” This fundamentally applies equally to men and women; in practice, reason and practicality should guide a family how to share these responsibilities. It is unlikely that a father will have to miss putting on tefillin one day because he is too busy tending to his children. But he might legitimately put them on later and miss minyan because a child is sick.
Is Raising Children a Mitzva? – part IIs it a mitzva to care for one’s own children: feeding, changing diapers, getting them to bed, etc.? If so, what is the source? Does it apply equally to men and women? If it is not a mitzva, wouldn't any mitzva take precedence over such activities?
I imagine your question is about how to explain the phenomenon that we spend time raising children that we could be spending on various mitzvot. The fact that all normal Jewish (and non-Jewish) families will continue toiling over their children is a given. Your question presents a wonderful opportunity to (telegraphically) discuss basic principles of avodat Hashem before looking at the specific sources you seek.
Mitzvot are the highlights of our life, into which we need to learn how to incorporate undeniable realities, both mundane and special. Hashem made the world in such a way that we must eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, bathe, etc. These are not mitzvot in the classic sense, but Hashem certainly wants us to partake in them. They are so obviously a part of our life that they do not need to be commanded.
Let us illustrate with a famous pasuk – the source of the mitzva to recite Birkat Hamazon. “You shall eat and you shall be satiated, and you shall bless Hashem your G-d for the good land He gave you” (Devarim 8:10). The pasuk contains three grammatically identical verbs. Why did Chazal not derive a mitzva to eat and one to be satiated? The answer is that we eat enough food because that is normal for a person, which Hashem created us to be. If we need confirmation that Hashem wants us to do this and not be ascetics, note the p’sukim from the second section of Kri’at Shema (Devarim 11:13-15). We keep the mitzvot of the Torah, Hashem brings rain, and our crops grow and are harvested. This section describing the ideal situation ends with “you shall eat and be satiated.” Similarly, when one is busy with work, another proper non-mitzva, he is exempt from constant involvement in mitzvot, whether learning Torah, visiting the sick, etc. (see Orach Chayim 156).
What is the Torah perspective on supporting children? A father (not mother) is required Rabbinically (not by Torah law) to support his children when they are small (see Ketubot 65b; Rambam, Ishut 12:14). So until the Rabbinical institution, did the average father not support his family? Consider the Torah-derived law (see Rashi, Shemot 21:3) that an eved ivri’s master must support his slave’s wife and children, obviously because the father/family breadwinner is at work all day for the master. But why should the master be required by Torah law to support them in lieu of the father when the father is only obligated Rabbinically? The answer is that the Torah left it to fathers to support their families because they are normal human fathers, and the Torah trusted that this would be the rule. The Torah expects a mother, who is technically not obligated, to provide food for her children if they do not have a father doing so. In the animal kingdom, they do this based on instinct; in humanity, the instinct is augmented by basic G-d-given morality.
The Torah expects parents to be involved with their children’s various needs, which is nobler and harder to delay than other needs. This justifies taking care of children before even such mitzvot before which it is forbidden to eat or work (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 89:3; we do not find such limitations regarding caring for children). It justifies not pursuing other mitzvot that are not clearly incumbent upon us. (We hopefully learn a proper balance from our wonderful parents’ example.) Only if one has earned a deep relationship with his children can he expect success in raising them with a Torah lifestyle, which is the Jewish way since Avraham Avinu (see Bereishit 18:19). How the responsibilities of providing all of a child’s material, educational, and emotional needs are broken up between two parents, sometimes with help from their families and the community, depends on the time, place, and the individuals’ circumstances.
Where to Light on Motzaei ShabbatMy family will be at my parents’ house for Shabbat Chanuka and will be leaving there for home (an hour commute) relatively soon after Shabbat. Where should I light Chanuka candles?
An achsenai (guest) is obligated to light unless his family lights on his behalf at home (Shabbat 23a). While the achsenai’s obligation can be fulfilled by chipping in for the host’s lighting (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 677:1), he usually lights his own candles there (Mishna Berura 677:3), which we assume you will do on Friday.
On Motzaei Shabbat, there is a two-fold question. Does your achsenai status continue as you are leaving? If it does (or can), is it preferable to light earlier at your temporary home or later at your real home?
Most poskim (including Chazon Ovadia (Yosef), Chanuka, p. 155, Chovat Hadar, Chanuka 1:(65), Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:391) rule that it is better, if possible, to light at your own home. Realize that differing circumstances impact on the latest time to light, and there are also various opinions. It is best to light when the public is still on the streets, especially if one usually lights outside or in a visible window. If you cannot make it by such a time, it is better to light in your parents’ home (Teshuvot V’hanhagot ibid.).
Rav S.Z. Auerbach (cited in Halichot Shlomo, Chanuka p. 279) generally prefers the host’s home, with a condition. He says that since when the obligation takes effect, his host’s house is his “home,” he should fulfill the mitzva then and there. He posits, in contrast to Rav Ovadia (ibid.), that living by a host for a whole day makes it his effective home until he leaves. Much depends on one’s reading of the Biur Halacha 677:1. He says that one who eats a meal at a local friend should not light there, but if he is staying at his parents’ for all of Chanuka, he lights there even if he sometimes eats at home. The Acharonim differ about cases that are between these two extremes. By lighting on Friday at your parents’, you show you accept Rav Auerbach’s reading.
Rav Auerbach, though, posits (see Minchat Shlomo II, 58.2) that you can light at your parents’ only if you remain a half hour after lighting. That is because the lighting must be viable for a half hour. If one lights with less than a half hour of oil, the lighting is invalid (Shulchan Aruch, OC 675:2). Similarly, if one lights with the intention to extinguish the candles within a half hour, he does not fulfill the mitzva (Minchat Shlomo ibid.). Since once the person leaves his host, it is no longer his home and the lights are no longer connected to him, leaving within a half hour is equivalent to extinguishing them.
Rav Ovadia Yosef (ibid.) reasons that the various opinions depend on whether one’s place is determined by where he eats (i.e., at your parents’) or where he sleeps (at home, on Motzaei Shabbat), and he posits the latter. We usually assume this is a machloket between Ashkenazim (eat) and Sephardim (sleep) (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, OC 677:1).
It seems to me that the two opinions are more a function of how important it is to light as soon as possible, as there is a correlation between that question and the view on your question. For example, Rav Auerbach puts great importance on lighting at the first opportunity (within 30 minutes). For example, although he regularly followed Rabbeinu Tam and did not do melacha until 72 minutes after sunset, he nevertheless was very careful to light on Motzaei Shabbat between 35 and 50 minutes after sunset (Halichot Shlomo, p. 312). Teshuvot V’hanhagot, as a contrasting example, treated lighting until 7:30 PM as not a problem and therefore, not surprisingly, expected a Shabbat guest to make it home to light by then.
Most people are not very careful (if there is a conflicting need) to light within a half hour of the starting time for lighting. If you fall into that group, we advise you to try to make it home relatively promptly (without being inappropriately hasty) after Shabbat and light at home. Otherwise, light at your parents’ and stay a half hour.
Chazan Starting with Chazarat HashatzAs we were finishing up silent Shemoneh Esrei, an avel came in and wanted to take over as chazan before doing silent Shemoneh Esrei. He davened until Kedusha and planned to continue silently. People told him to continue chazarat hashatz out loud. Was it possible to do this?
The idea of a chazan starting chazarat hashatz without silent Shemoneh Esrei is discussed in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 124:2), based on the Kol Bo (127). In short, it can be done, but it is not ideal. Understanding why it is not ideal helps guide people what to do in different circumstances.
The Mishna Berura (124:4) assumes that the Shulchan Aruch allows the chazan to do chazarat hashatz without silent Shemoneh Esrei in a case where no one else is capable of being chazan. He does not, though, state why it should not be done otherwise. The Kol Bo identified two issues that need addressing.
1) If this chazan is reciting Shemoneh Esrei for others (the tzibbur and/or one who cannot daven himself), how does he fulfill his own personal obligation? The Kol Bo says that if his tefilla helps others, it certainly works for himself; therefore, he does not need to repeat Shemoneh Esrei after his chazarat hashatz. Despite the strong logic, the Mishna Berura may imply that this is true only after the fact, but that it is better for him to do his own Shemoneh Esrei for himself, independent of chazarat hashatz.
2) How can that which is also serving as a personal Shemoneh Esrei be done out loud, which is usually forbidden because it makes the davener look like one who does not believe Hashem hears silent prayers (see Berachot 24b)? The Kol Bo says this is not a problem here because he is doing so due to pressing circumstances. The Eliya Rabba (OC 124:3) says that due to this issue, one with better alternatives should not make his chazarat hashatz his first Shemoneh Esrei.
The Magen Avraham (124:3; see Machatzit Hashekel ad loc.) says that the main problem is based on the gemara in Rosh Hashana (34b). The gemara says that the reason to have a silent Shemoneh Esrei even though people can fulfill the mitzva with chazarat hashatz is to give the chazan an opportunity to familiarize himself with what he will be reciting. While this is not crucial during a standard tefilla (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 100:1), it is still a reason to prefer that the chazan does not start with chazarat hashatz.
Is switching to the late-coming chazan justified because he is an avel? We did not find classical sources on this. Among less-known Acharonim, Birkat Habayit (Einhorn 42:2) allows within shloshim and on a yahrtzeit, but not the rest of the year. Ishei Yisrael (24:31) says that any chiyuv of aveilut suffices.
Who gets to decide which opinion to follow? According to the Eliya Rabba, it is a matter of a proper tefilla for the chazan, and thus up to him (/his posek). According to the Magen Avraham, the issue is the chazarat hashatz’s quality, which is the minyan’s call (see interesting application in Igrot Moshe, OC IV:33). Certainly on a matter that is about no more than preferability, this is not the type of thing to fight about (which, we hope people have learned, we are never fond of).We guess your story occurred at Mincha (i.e., he was only a few minutes late), and this is the Kol Bo’s context as well. Regarding Shacharit, if one was able to get up to Ga’al Yisrael on time, it is possible to do the same thing; otherwise, it is complicated (see Bi’ur Halacha to OC 124:2). Regarding your question of continuing out loud after Kedusha, the sources are clearly assuming that he will be doing so, as he “fills the shoes” of the chazan for chazarat hashatz. In any case, he has no justification to drag the minyan into a less than ideal chazarat hashatz (known as heiche Kedusha) or worse (analysis is beyond our present scope). After all, there is not an obligation to let an avel be chazan (Mishna Berura 53:60); Kaddish is enough. In any case, once the avel started chazarat hashatz, there was not due cause to revert to silent mode.
To What Does Havdala Relate?This is more of a philosophical than halachic question, but is Havdala a mitzva of Shabbat or a mitzva of chol (weekday)?
The Rambam (Shabbat 29:1; Sefer Hamitzvot, Aseh 155) is clear on the matter, as he views Kiddush and Havdala as equivalent “bookends”: “It is a positive mitzva from the Torah to sanctify Shabbat with words, as it says, “Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it” (Shemot 20:7); in other words, remember it as a remembrance of praise and sanctification. One needs to remember it as it enters and as it leaves: as it enters with Kiddush, and as it leaves with Havdala.”
Yet, there are notable distinctions between Kiddush and Havdala. Kiddush is done on Shabbat; Havdala is done after Shabbat. Kiddush focuses on Shabbat alone; Havdala distinguishes between Shabbat and chol. Indeed, one gemara (Sh’vuot 18b) seems to put the focus of Havdala on the distinction between Shabbat and chol, rather than viewing it is an appropriate time to praise Shabbat. It cites the pasuk, “To distinguish between the sacred and the mundane” (Vayikra 10:10) as the source for Havdala. One can also argue that Havdala is a way to usher in the weekday, as Shabbat continues (on some level) until Havdala ends it (see Tosafot, Berachot 27b).
Perhaps, whether Havdala relates more to Shabbat or to chol is the basis of a practical question, which Rishonim dispute (both opinions are cited in the Shulchan Aruch/Rama, Orach Chayim 296:8) – are women obligated in Havdala? Women are obligated in Kiddush of Shabbat. Even though it is a time-based mitzva, the positive (zachor) and negative (shamor) mitzvot of Shabbat are linked so that whoever is commanded to refrain from melacha is obligated in Kiddush (Berachot 20b). If Havdala is part of zachor, as the Rambam indicates, women can be obligated from the Torah in Havdala, or even if Havdala is of Rabbinic origin, Chazal could have modeled it after Kiddush (Maggid Mishneh, Shabbat 29:1). The Orchot Chayim (Havdala 18) says that women are exempt from Havdala because it is not linked to the negative element of Shabbat, as the Rabbis only artificially connected it to that pasuk. The Pri Megadim (MZ 296:7) adds on to the Orchot Chayim’s argument that Havdala is done on chol, and therefore it is missing the Shabbat linkage.
One could read into this approach that women are exempt from Havdala because it is a mitzva of chol. The mitzva could be to allow melacha on chol, as it is prohibited to do melacha (all or some – see opinions in Shulchan Aruch, OC 299:10) before a declaration of Havdala (even without wine). However, that seems overstated. The Orchot Chayim probably just means that the chiddush that women are obligated in Kiddush despite it being time-based does not extend to Havdala because Havdala is not as connected to “zachor-shamor” as Kiddush is. All seem to agree that the main point is to stress, as chol begins, how special Shabbat is. Why then is melacha forbidden? One possibility is that until Havdala, it is still, on some level, Shabbat (Mishna Berura 299:33). Another possibility is that one is not allowed to go about normal life before he has fulfilled the mitzva of parting from Shabbat (see Aruch Hashulchan, Tzitz Eliezer XI:34).
Another telling point is the gemara (Berachot 27b) that seems to say (so rules the Shulchan Aruch, OC 293:3; the Mishna Berura 293:9 says not to do this in practice) that Havdala can be made on Shabbat (from plag hamincha). Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC VI:49) says that this is because the Rambam is right that Havdala is a mitzva of Shabbat, even if we usually do it after Shabbat is over. This proof seems refutable (in addition to the fact that early Havdala is only for unusual circumstances) as follows. We find elsewhere that mitzvot that relate to the night can be done (at least according to some opinions) from plag hamincha. Therefore, a declaration of ushering in chol can begin then, even if melacha will certainly be forbidden until nightfall.
Unquestionably, though, the Rambam’s approach, that it is a mitzva of Shabbat, is the most straightforward and accepted one.
Reliability Regarding KashrutDoes “one witness is believed in matters of issurin (what is religiously forbidden/permitted, including, kashrut)” apply even if the witness has a personal interest, such as a store or restaurant? Does it apply to a woman? Must the person be a yareh shamayim? How is a mashgiach better than the owner if the business pays him?
[This is a general, not detailed, answer.] When full testimony is required, i.e., for monetary matters, punishments of beit din, and matters of “family status,” two witnesses are required (see Gittin 2b), and they must not have a direct interest in the matter (Rambam Eidut 9:1). Formal testimony is not needed for matters of issurin, which is the reason that one witness suffices (Chulin 10b).
When one person is enough, a nogeiah b’eidut, one who is affected by the “testimony” can be used. One example is that a butcher is believed to say that all the steps needed to make meat kosher were done (Rambam, Maachalot Assurot 8:7). We do not suspect him of lying to make money by selling non-kosher food to kosher consumers. The person does need to be under the presumption of reliability on religious matters, which requires him to, first and foremost, be personally observant (ibid.). As a rule, one who eats kosher will not feed non-kosher food to others. Some mainly religious people have serious flaws in their observance of certain areas of Halacha. Then, one might be believed regarding certain areas of Halacha and not others. The rule is that one who violates “light” aveirot does not automatically lose credibility regarding “heavy” ones; some of the complicated details are found in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 119.
Fundamentally, there is no distinction between the reliability of men and women regarding issurin (see practical distinctions in Rama, Yoreh Deah 127:3). In fact, one source that people can rely on others regarding issurin is from the Torah’s description of a woman’s counting the days to end her nidda status, regarding which her husband is to trust her (Tosafot, Gittin 2b). Rashi (ad loc.) says that the source is the correct assumption that one can trust the kosher status of food prepared by others, and this applies to both men and to women.
Where did the idea of requiring hashgachot come from? The Rosh (Chulin 1:24) says that in his time the broad minhag was not to trust butchers for all of the checking needed but to appoint experts. Mahari Halevi (17) points out that it is not out of fear of purposeful deceit but that some elements may be too complicated for certain butchers who might not admit it.
In some communities, a proprietor who is known to be trustworthy is not required to obtain a formal hashgacha. However, most communities require some level of rabbinic supervision (the supervision is often looser when the proprietor is known to be trustworthy). Having a mashgiach is “healthy” for the following reasons. 1. Since, as above, even honest people make mistakes, it is worthwhile for someone with training to supervise. He should catch as many mistakes as possible and know how to deal with them after the fact. The mashgiach also has easier access to kashrut experts when needed. 2. One who is new in or passing through town and does not know who is and is not trustworthy can be guided by the certification of known rabbis or organizations. 3. Every once in a while, someone who was assumed to be trustworthy turns out to not be; while Halacha does not demand us to suspect this, extra prudence on matters affecting the public can be positive.Regarding mashgichim being paid by the people they are supervising, #1 and #2 above are not issues. Regarding #3, the guarantees are indeed lower if the proprietor can pressure the mashgiach financially to not be sufficiently vigilant. However, halachically, the hashgacha is still valid. As we have seen, we do not expect trustworthy people to lie about kashrut even if they have a financial interest. However, many organized kashrut organizations pay the mashgiach themselves to reduce the chance of abuse of the system.
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