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White Wine for the SederIs it permissible to use white wine for the arba kosot (four cups at the Seder)?
We dealt previously (Living the Halachic Process, II:C-7) with the question of white wine for Kiddush, which is pertinent because poskim generally equate between the requirements of the two (compare Orach Chayim 272 and 472). The gemara (Bava Batra 97a-b) posits that wine that is unfit for libations even b’di’eved may not be used for Kiddush, but that which is nominally fit can be used for Kiddush. The gemara cites a pasuk (Mishlei 23:31) that wine is expected to be red. According to most Rishonim, this was not meant to disqualify white wine for Kiddush, but the Ramban (ad loc.) understands that white wine without any red-leaning tint is unfit even for Kiddush. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 272:4) cites both opinions but sides with the lenient one. The Mishna Berura (272:12) adds that regarding very white wine (many assume this is now rare) one should defer to the Ramban’s concern unless there are extenuating circumstances, including that the available red wine is of poor quality.
Regarding the arba kosot, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 472:11) paraphrases the Yerushalmi (Pesachim 10:1) that one should prefer red wine. The Rama (ad loc.) excludes cases in which the white wine is of higher quality. The Ramban’s opinion is not mentioned, even though arba kosot should not be less demanding than Kiddush (and the first cup is for Kiddush), likely because the Ramban was already mentioned and basically rejected. There seems to be, then, an additional preference.
The Taz (ad loc. 9) and Magen Avraham (ad loc. 13) are among those who say we desire that the color red serve as a remembrance of the blood of the Pesach story. The Taz says that it reminds us of the Jewish blood spilled by Paroh. Chazon Ovadia (Haggada, Kadesh (10)) finds that strange, considering that drinking the wine (during which we lean) is a festive action, and so he prefers those who say that it relates to the blood of the Korban Pesach, of mila, and/or of the first plague.
Both the language and the logic point to the remembrance constituting only a preference. On the other hand, those who are lenient regarding “white” wine that is not fully white for Kiddush likely should still prefer something that is actually in the red family as a proper remembrance. That is because while the potential Kiddush problem is likely because such an abnormal wine color is treated as deficient (see Tashbetz I:85), even the finest wine may not remind us of blood. Ultimately, the Rama says that the opportunity to use a finer white wine justifies preferring it to a simpler red wine. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Chazon Ovadia ibid. 12) says that Sephardi practice (not all Sephardi poskim agree – see Mikraei Kodesh (Harari), Leil Haseder 4:15) is to defer to the Ramban’s opinion unless the white wine is both better and not too white.
Several Acharonim suggest to “upgrade” white wine by mixing in a little red wine, so that the mixture has some redness. This makes good sense if the issue is the remembrance (see opinions cited by Piskei Teshuvot 472:10), as one can see some redness (while blood is redder, red wine does not really look like blood either). Surprisingly, the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (47:(89)) suggests mixing a little red for Kiddush during the year. Ostensibly, if the Ramban is right, then the white wine is invalid wine, and why would a little red (i.e., kosher) wine help?! Apparently the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata views the color not just as a sign of proper wine but that the color provided by the wine combination is a necessary characteristic of the wine use, as can be read into the gemara in Pesachim (108b).
Since we hold that there is no prohibition of coloring with foods, putting red wine into white wine is permitted (Mishna Berura 320:56). Yet, due to the opinion that it is forbidden if one intends for the color (Nishmat Adam II:24:3), the stringent can put in the red wine first and “dilute” the color with the majority white wine (Shevet Halevi X:56).
Erev Pesach that Falls on ShabbatWhat do you suggest we do on Erev Pesach this year, which is on Shabbat, regarding when and what to eat?
Among the valid solutions to the challenges of Erev Pesach on Shabbat, people must determine the most practical solutions, according to the halachic possibilities their rabbis present. One practical assumption is that people will use only Pesachdik and/or disposable utensils, keeping any remaining chametz separate. “Bread” is needed for the first two meals and is preferred for seuda shlishit (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 291:5), which should be held in the afternoon (ibid. 2). Since the prohibition to eat chametz begins four halachic hours into the morning (consult a local calendar), our standard Shabbat practice needs to be changed. Let’s take a meal-by-meal look.
Friday night meal - Those who do not want to keep chametz around can eat matza according to most poskim. If one has the minhag not to eat matza from the beginning of Nisan, matza ashira (known as “egg matza”) is an alternative.
Shabbat morning meal - If one finishes eating chametz (not necessarily the whole meal) by the end of the 4th hour, accomplished by davening very early, matters are halachically simple. (Getting rid of crumbs or leftovers by the end of the 5th hour is solvable and beyond our present scope.) Matza is desirable for situations when it is hard or nerve-racking to deal with chametz. However, Chazal forbade eating matza on Erev Pesach, according to most, from the beginning of the morning, so that when we eat it at the seder, it will be clear that it is for the mitzva (see Rambam, Chametz U’matza 6:12). However, one may eat matza that cannot be used for the mitzva (Shulchan Aruch 471:2), primarily, matza ashira, which is kneaded with liquids other than water (see Pesachim 35a). If it contains no water, most Rishonim rule that it cannot become chametz, and one would seemingly not need to rush.
Yet there are two issues. Firstly, as Ashkenazim are stringent to treat matza ashira as possible chametz, which is permitted to eat on Pesach only in cases of great need (Rama 462:4), the time issue reawakens. (Some poskim rely on the Noda B’yehuda (I, OC 21) that it is sufficient to be wary of matza ashira only after midday of Erev Pesach.) Secondly, matza ashira may have a status of pat haba’ah b’kisnin, similar to cake, making it a questionable substitute for challa. (Igrot Moshe OC I:155 explains that this is not a problem on Shabbat, but still seems to prefer challa when convenient. To see Rav O. Yosef’s preferred solution, see Yechaveh Da’at I, 91).
Seuda shlishit (=ss) - We mentioned the two preferred opinions about how normally to perform ss, which conflict this Shabbat. One is to eat bread at ss. The other is to have ss after midday, at which time chametz and matza are forbidden, and matza ashira is problematic for Ashkenazim. The Rama (444:1) says that we eat other foods, such as fruit or meat, at this ss. The Mishna Berura (444:8) cites a different solution, of breaking up the morning meal into two, so that one can fulfill ss on challa or matza ashira at that time. He points out that there should be some break between the two meals, to avoid a problem of an unnecessary beracha. However, he does not say how long that should be. Opinions range from a few minutes to half an hour, with some suggesting taking a short walk in between (see Piskei Teshuvot 444:6). One who is not usually careful to have challa at ss throughout the year need not consider this idea. He can eat a normal ss for him (no bread) in the afternoon, preferably earlier than usual to leave a good appetite for the seder. Even those who are stringent about ss may follow the Rama over the Mishna Berura’s suggestion, which is somewhat counter-intuitive and not without halachic problems. Sephardim, who can use matza ashira, must do so before three hours before sunset (Shulchan Aruch, OC 471:2).
Adding a Shabbat Candle after ForgettingI am a man living alone. Last week, I forgot to light Shabbat candles. Must I light an extra one from now on?
The Rama (Orach Chayim 263:1) accepts the minhag presented by the Maharil (Hilchot Shabbat 1) that if a woman forgets to light Shabbat candles one week, she must add one from that point on. Most see it as a penalty to reduce the likelihood of repeating such mistakes (Mishna Berura 263:7). Therefore, poskim assume that if she missed for reasons beyond her control, she does not need to add (Magen Avraham 263:3). The minhag has possible negative consequences for those who light exactly two lights, corresponding to zachor and shamor, as arguably this correspondence is lost when the number is changed (Darchei Moshe, OC 263:1). Nevertheless, it was widely accepted. The Eliya Rabba (263:7) understands the Maharil differently – there is no need for an extra candle, but it suffices to improve the lighting by adding more oil or having longer candles.
In your case, there are two grounds for leniency. One is that some prominent poskim (including Yalkut Yosef, OC 263:26) reason that in our days, when without the ritual candles there is plenty of light for a pleasant Shabbat, there is no need to penalize people for not lighting the candles. There are a few reasons not to agree with this contention. For one, despite the fact that we always have electric lights, we still view the Shabbat candles as a relevant mitzva, which we take seriously and make a beracha on. As such, if one did not do it, why shouldn’t the regular penalty apply? The matter is clearer according to the Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 263:3) who says that even if a woman lit one less light than she normally does, she still is penalized. The Melamed L’hoil (I:46) says that there is a need for some penalty, but one can be partially lenient by following the above Eliya Rabba.
The Be’ur Halacha (to 263:1), after citing the Pri Megadim (ibid.) that omitting any of the lights is grounds for the penalty, not only disagrees but also makes a general comment about the penalty: “All of this is only a minhag, and let us not add on to it.” We see this as a logical direction to take regarding this unusual minhag. (Consider that there seem to be many bigger shortcomings in our religious lives for which there are no penalties. Have you ever heard, for example, that whoever forgot to daven Mincha should add a mizmor of Tehillim to it from then on?!). Therefore, some have a rule that when there is doubt whether something is included in this minhag, we do not implement it, as Piskei Teshuvot 263:(37) cites in the name of Rav Vosner. On the other hand, not every idea for leniency counts as a doubt, as the same Rav Vosner (Shevet Halevi V:33), Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (43:5), and others did not think having electric lights is strong enough to preclude the penalty. Chut Shani (IV:83) presents an interesting compromise – if one lit the electric lights with intention for it to supplement the Shabbat candles, it precludes the penalty (it is not easy to know where to draw the line on what counts for that intention).
Your case includes another serious reason for leniency. Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (43:(35)) raises and leaves as an unsolved question, whether the penalty applies to men, considering the special connection between women and the mitzva. Dirshu (263:(13)) also cites important contemporary poskim who say that men are not penalized despite the identical obligation on a fundamental level. This makes sense according to Chazal’s shocking statement that women could meet tragedy if they are not careful about Shabbat candle lighting (Shabbat 31b). I would not venture to comment on why this mitzva, as dear as it is, mysteriously has such a surprisingly great weight for women, but it can explain the minhag of the penalty as well as the logic of not extending it to men.
In the final analysis, we do not think that is necessary for you to add a candle in the future. If you want to do something to enhance the mitzva, who are we to object?
Attaching a Mezuza to a Door Leading to NowhereWe are adding a floor to our house. At first, we will access it from the house, but we may eventually make it a separate unit with access via stairs from the street. Therefore, we made a door on the side of the street – during construction it is accessed by a temporary ramp, but then it will be sealed until if and when we build stairs. Does that door require a mezuza now? If we put one up, will it be able to stay if we open it, or will it be ta’aseh v’lo min he’asuy (=tvlmh; pasul because it came into a proper mitzva state without a direct action)?
To be obligated in mezuza, a doorway and the adjacent area must have certain structural characteristics (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 286:6-17), one needs to own it on some level (Menachot 44a; see Tosafot ad loc.), and the area must serve a recognized function (Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 1-2). During construction, the function is normally missing. Even after one buys or builds a house that is ready for use but people have not moved in, there is no obligation for a mezuza (Magen Avraham 19:1; Birkei Yosef 19:2). Even after starting to use, one’s obligation stops if he abandons the place or rents it out (Tosafot ibid.). So you do not yet need a mezuza for either entrance.
When the extension is ready, if the external door was not made to be used at all past the construction stage, the obligation will not begin on it (see Shulchan Aruch, YD 186:17-18). If it will be used for a while and the ramp will be removed later, then it will require a mezuza. Then, if the door will be sealed shut for a long time, that likely uproots the obligation (see Pitchei She’arim 286:208; Shut Shevet Sofer, YD 92). If the mezuza remained, there would be a machloket upon putting in the stairs whether it would be tvlmh, and it should be removed and returned (Pitchei Teshuva, YD 286:13); what to do about a beracha is beyond our present scope.
Is it good/okay to be “machmir” and put up the mezuzot while construction is in process? Mezuza resembles tzitzit (Tosafot and Birkei Yosef ibid.); they are activated by wearing a garment/living in a house. The mitzva act is attaching the tzitzit/mezuza to the garment/doorpost. We tie on the tzitzit well before the mitzva is fulfilled upon wearing it. (There is a machloket whether one may put the garment on and then start tying on the tzitzit - see Tosafot, Yevamot 90b and Rambam, Tzitzit 3:10.) We might then expect that if one put up the mezuza before moving in, he would make the beracha when moving in. The Magen Avraham (ibid.) believes there is a beracha with different language if one moves into a house that already has mezuzot. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Shut I:9) thought that logic dictated that anytime a person leaves his house for several days, he would make a new beracha upon returning. We accept the Birkei Yosef (ibid.), who argues that the beracha on mezuza was instituted for the last time one is involved in the mitzva, which is when one attaches it to the wall. But then that should be at a time of obligation.
According to most poskim, the best time to attach the mezuza is around the time that one begins to live in the house, either right before (Da’at Kedoshim 289:2) or after one starts living there (see Chovat Hadar 3:(7)). If it is too early, it will not be possible to make a beracha as there is no obligation yet. Some say that once one starts moving his possessions into the house, it is close enough (see Dirshu 19:3).
The classic case of tvlmh is when one attaches a mezuza before the elements for mezuza exist (including when the door led to nowhere or when the area is a construction site). If one attached it when the area was ready to be used but he just did not start using it, according to most opinions it is a valid attaching, and he would not have to redo it when the time came (see Sdei Chemed, vol. V, p. 59; Keren Ora, Menachot 44a). However, he could not make a beracha when attaching it (making the beracha later is complicated – see Chovat Hadar 11:(22)); thus, doing it clearly early is likely not positive.
Purim MeshulashCould you please review some of the rules and rationale of the practices of Purim Meshulash (Triple Purim) in Yerushalayim? [This is a re-edited repeat from 15 years ago.]
When the fifteenth of Adar, celebrated as Purim in cities that were walled at the time of Yehoshua (notably including Yerushalayim), falls on Shabbat, when some of the mitzvot of Purim are inappropriate, the various mitzvot of the day are spread over three days, as we will explain. We will start conceptually and then review day-by-day activities.
Even in such a year, conceptually, the main day of “Shushan Purim” is still 15 Adar, even though it is the least “eventful” of the days. Therefore, matters that are connected directly to tefilla, and are not problematic on Shabbat, are done on Shabbat. This includes reading the story of the battle of Amalek (the last 9 p’sukim of Beshalach) as maftir and the special haftara and reciting Al HaNissim in Shemoneh Esrei and Birkat HaMazon.
Megillat Esther is not read on Shabbat for one of two reasons (Megilla 4b). Rabba says that it is out of fear that someone will carry the megilla in the public domain and thus desecrate Shabbat. Rav Yosef says it is because at the time of the megilla reading, poor people look forward to receiving charity, which they cannot do on Shabbat. As the rule is that Megillat Esther is never read later than the fifteenth of Adar (based on the words, “and they shall not pass,” see Megilla 2a) the reading is pushed forward to Friday, 14 Adar. One who is celebrating Purim Meshulash should be extra careful to hear the megilla with a minyan in such a year (Mishna Berura 690:61), as when megilla is read early, it requires a minyan. (Follow health authorities/your rav/doctor regarding safety concerns; there are grounds for leniency – see Dirshu 690:58.)
Matanot la’evyonim (presents to the poor) follow suit and are given on Friday (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 688:6). After all, according to Rav Yosef, that was the reason to read the megilla early, and even Rabba must accept some level of linkage between reading the megilla and giving matanot la’evyonim (see Megilla 4b).
The seuda (festive meal) is held on Sunday, 16 Adar, according to most authorities (Shulchan Aruch ibid.). The Yerushalmi (Megilla 1:4) learns that it is not held on Shabbat because it must be a seuda whose obligation can be attributed only to Chazal’s decision at the time of Mordechai and Esther. On Shabbat, of course, there is a mitzva to have a festive meal irrespective of Purim. Therefore, it says to delay the seuda. There are opinions that one can/should have a Purim meal on Shabbat, and so some make an effort to have more food and wine than usual at the Shabbat-day meal (Purim Meshulash (Diblitzki) 5:11). At the Sunday meal, Al HaNissim is not recited, at least not in the body of Birkat HaMazon (see Mikraei Kodesh, (Harari) Purim 15:(34) in the name of Rav Yisraeli).
The mitzva of mishlo’ach manot (presenting foods to a friend) is apparently linked to the Purim seuda, and thus we give them on Sunday (Mishna Berura 688:18). Those who want to be have a Purim seuda on Shabbat (see above) can attempt to fulfill mishlo’ach manot as well by giving to a neighbor or having a guest at the meal.
Visitors to Yerushalayim over Shabbat (even if they celebrated a full Purim on Friday) are obligated (according to most authorities - see Mikraei Kodesh ibid. 15:30) to do the mitzvot of both Shabbat and Sunday (wherever they are on Sunday) even if they leave Yerushalayim soon after Shabbat. This is because the obligations of Sunday are tashlumin (a make-up date) for what ideally should have been done on Shabbat (Purim Meshulash 8:15). (One should give the mishlo’ach manot to one who is obligated in the mitzvot of Sunday). Based on the same logic, one who comes to Yerushalayim after Shabbat is not obligated (ibid.).
Hearing the Megilla for Those Who Cannot Go to ShulIf one who is not a ba’al koreh cannot make it to shul to hear Megillat Esther (e.g., if the pandemic will preclude one from coming), how else can he fulfill the mitzva of hearing it?
For those who can hear from a distance, not being in shul is not a problem; if they miss a few words, they can make them up.) Almost all poskim agree that one cannot fulfill the mitzva of hearing shofar via microphone, telephone or radio (besides chillul Yom Tov issues), because one must hear the authentic sound of a shofar (Rosh Hashana 27b). The ruling regarding a live megilla reading via microphone is less clear. Although one does not hear the actual voice of a valid ba’al koreh, but a device-generated reproduction, it is better than a recording in two ways. First, the sound waves that the the ba’al koreh produces directly cause the almost identical sounds heard. Secondly, the reproduction is heard at essentially the same time and place the ba’al koreh reads. Therefore, while most poskim posit one cannot fulfill the mitzva via microphone (see Yechaveh Da’at III:54; Minchat Shlomo I:9), the lenient position is marginally tenable (see Tzitz Eliezer VIII:11; Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim II:108).
The gemara (Sukka 51b) seems to not require hearing the voice of the person reciting, if one knows what is being said. It tells of a huge amphitheater in Alexandria, where flags were waved to inform people when to answer amen. However, this source is not sufficient here, because Tosafot (ad loc.) explains that the participants did not attempt to fulfill any mitzva but just wanted to answer amen.
Rav SZ Auerbach (Minchat Shlomo ibid.) does not allow even answering amen regarding via radio and telephone. He argues that the people in Alexandria were close enough to be connected to the berachot without hearing them. However, there is no physical connection between the person reciting and the one “listening” remotely via telecommunication. For him, one could certainly not fulfill a mitzva this way. Nevertheless, there were serious poskim who allowed, in a case of necessity, to fulfill mitzvot such as megilla and havdala via telephone (Minchat Elazar II:72, Igrot Moshe, OC IV:91). Adding in video will not improve things halachically, and all agree that one cannot fulfill a mitzva by or even answer amen to recorded events because of the total break from the human performance of the mitzva.
If one is unable to hear the megilla normally, it is worthwhile to hear it electronically. This is not only due to the lenient opinions. Exposure to Megillat Esther’s content has value (Mishna Berura 692:27), like reading the parasha from a chumash when one cannot go to shul (ibid. 143:9), and it enables one to remember Hashem’s kindness (Aruch Hashulchan, OC 691:14). In present difficult times, in many communities, the feeling of comradery is also important, especially on a holiday as communal as Purim. Hopefully, people will not incorrectly learn from this, that if away or infirmed for Purim, they do not need to make an effort to fulfill the mitzva properly.
The halachically simple way to fulfill the mitzva is for the people to read it themselves from a kosher klaf they own or can borrow. (One who lains without a minyan does not make the beracha of Harav Et Riveinu at the end of the Megilla – Rama, OC 692:1). A non-proficient ba’al korei will need help, not only because of difficult trop, which is not crucial, but because of hard words and kri u’k’tivs. One who is precise in his reading can help the makeshift reader and correct as needed. It is possible to read along with a live or recorded reading. This is not very practical, especially if reading for others, as they need to hear the person rather than the electronic sound. One can use a recording and start and stop it as necessary. For those who prefer, I have made a (1 hour 8 minutes) video of the laining with pauses every few words, so that one can read along at a comfortable pace. It is available upon request at: email@example.com.
Workplace Requirement for Vaccination[This question was sent by a European rabbi.] A business owner demands that his employees be vaccinated against Corona due to the type of work done and makes them sign a waiver of claims for damages stemming from the vaccine. Can an employer make such a demand and transfer risk to a reluctant employee?
[The answer (written on Jan. 15, 2021) is a short, general, fundamental one and should not be seen as giving the whole picture regarding claims in a specific case. It also can be impacted significantly by local law and health policies, which may differ by location and by changes in the situation and scientists’ knowledge on the subject. Our general instruction is for all to follow public health guidelines and consensus (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 328:10). At this point (with 30 million given worldwide), vaccination appears safe and effective and enjoys medical consensus.]
Regarding the morality of requiring a theoretically risky action, many jobs include risk, e.g., exposure to contagion, chemicals, extensive driving. It is legitimate for an employer to put his worker in necessary, responsibly assumed risk (Bava Metzia 112a). If, based on scientific consensus (which in many workplaces worldwide appears likely), the workplace will be safer overall if all members vaccinate, it is morally prudent to protect the staff as a whole. Should the other worker’s be forced into working with people who are endangering them?! Would the unvaccinated worker agree to be sued if he causes death or serious harm to a co-worker whom he infected (some 5% of the vaccinated are presently expected to be vulnerable)?!
We now turn to the efficacy of the waiver. The rule is that conditions on monetary obligations are binding (Ketubot 56a), and written commitments are a strong way of formalizing commitment (see Ketubot 101b; Rama, Choshen Mishpat 12:7). Sometimes a conditional agreement is not binding because the one committing may not have believed the situation would occur (asmachta – see at length in Shulchan Aruch, CM 207). This is apparently not a problem here (analysis is beyond our scope).
On the other hand, one who is coerced into a one-sided commitment (e.g., waiving damage claims) is not bound to it if either he made a moda’ah (a formal statement nullifying the step taken due to another’s coercion) or he has proof of coercion (Shulchan Aruch, CM 242:1). It would not be coercion if the employer had the legal/moral right to force the worker to take a vaccine if he wanted to be or remain employed. (This can depend on too many factors to discuss here, including governmental regulations employed to deal with the health crisis, which fall under dina d’malchuta powers (see Rama, CM 369:11).) When the employer has the right, it is worker’s decision whether he wants the job enough to accept dictates he opposes, and a decision based on a difficult situation rather than coercion initiated by a person is not halachic coercion (see Bava Batra 47b).
There is some chance of late-emerging bad news on coronavirus vaccine safety, and a given person can end up being the “one in a million” with a serious reaction. However, our mentor, Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg z.t.l., taught an important idea about medical malpractice (see Techumin vol. XIX, p. 320). The discussion of malpractice applies only when there was a mistake, considering the situation. When a doctor recommends/performs a procedure that is correct based on benefits vs. risks, and it failed based on no clear mistake, there is no basis to sue. Claims must be based on p’shi’ah (negligence). When a patient is part of the minority of people for whom the risks come to fruition, the one giving the medical advice is not culpable. Therefore, in our case, the waiver is unnecessary, as the boss should not be culpable. If the waiver makes the boss feel good or protects him from a non-halachic legal suit, so be it. If the FDA and its counterparts turn out, chas v’shalom, to have done their job poorly, suits can be made against governments.
Challot on the Table for KiddushWe like to keep our challot in a warm place until bringing them to the table after netilat yadayim so they taste their best. Must they be on the table during Kiddush?
The question to start with is: why do we (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 271:9) cover the challot?
The gemara (Pesachim 100a-b) mentions “spreading out a cloth and making Kiddush” regarding Kiddush when a meal is in progress. The Yerushalmi (as cited by the Rosh, Pesachim 10:3) discusses covering challa to avoid “embarrassment” that we use “lower-level” wine over bread for Kiddush. The gemara (ibid.) actually says that we do not usually “bring out the table” until after Kiddush. Tosafot (ad loc.) raises a contradiction with a gemara (Shabbat 119b) that the angels who escort a ba’al habayit from shul only bless him if they find the table set. Tosafot answers that in Talmudic times, mini-tables were brought for each person after Kiddush but were set elsewhere previously. It is harder to bring in today’s bigger tables, so they are set at the place of Kiddush, and therefore (at least the challot) need to be covered. The She’iltot explained that it is clearer that the food is to honor Shabbat if it is brought after Kiddush. Being covered is enough for this effect. The Tur (OC 271) cites another reason – the covering reminds us of the man from the desert, as it was covered with layers of dew. The Mishna Berura (271:41) summarizes three distinct reasons to cover challa – 1. Honoring Shabbat by properly timing its arrival; 2. Not embarrassing bread; 3. Reenacting the man. Many discuss possible nafka minot between them, including whether a covering is needed if one makes Kiddush over challa rather than wine.
According to the simple reading of the gemara/Tosafot, accepted in practice by the Gra (Ma’aseh Rav 118), and the matter of embarrassment, it seems better if the challot (and perhaps other food – Nefesh Harav p. 158) are not present. Covering is permitted, not required. Nevertheless, the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (47:24) says that the minhag is to specifically put the covered challot on the table before Kiddush. There are at least three ways to explain this.
1) The Shulchan Aruch (OC 262:1) learns from the story of the angels that one should prepare his table and beds before Shabbat. While this refers to a table cloth, others (including Tosafot ibid.) apply it also to challot. According to some, this should be done even before Shabbat enters.
2) The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 271:22) says that since Kiddush must be at the place of a meal, it is respectful to have the challot present at Kiddush. This seems to contradict the gemara that prefers the food being brought later. However, it is possible that since our system of a covered challa replaced that of prepared mini-tables, this is the desired manner of preparedness and timing.
3) Regarding the idea of the man (which the Shulchan Aruch, OC 271:9, adopts, as he writes about a covering below and above), it is unclear whether it needs to be covered at the time of Hamotzi (see Mishna Berura 271:41). Some assume the reminder can be done in a short time (Pri Megadim, 271, MZ 12), and perhaps not specifically at Kiddush. Az Nidberu (II:2) argues that it has to be at a significant time. According to those who keep the challot uncovered at the time of Hamotzi, it might, then, need to be man-like during Kiddush.
There are a variety of opinions on which reason is the main reason for covering. There is logic to say we should strive to accomplish all elements (Minchat David I:2). In any case, the minhag, recognized by Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata, could very well have value. One can question whether the fact that the great majority of Shabbat tables have challot on the table is the sign of a full minhag, since for most people, there is no reason not to, whereas you have a k’vod Shabbat reason. However, proper planning (including avoiding hatmana) can allow you to have warm challot even if you bring them to the table a little “early.”
Borer on PlatesWe set our Shabbat table with a larger "charger" plate under the main plate. At the end of the meal, we clear off the dirty dishes and leave the charger plates. Is there a problem with borer (selecting)?
Avoiding suspense – it is clearly permitted. One reason for our confidence is that while charger plates may be new, fish or appetizer plates sitting on top of main plates and are then removed, have been common, without poskim over the generations being bothered. We now set out to identify the precise reason(s).
Ostensible borer is permitted when three conditions are met: the desired is taken from the undesired; it is done soon before usage; it is done by hand. The classic usage of a plate is to serve on it; you are taking the plates right after their use, not soon before the next meal. Even if you were to wash them right away and use them later on Shabbat, selecting them specifically among other objects in a taarovet (mixture) of utensils would not be considered for immediate use (Orchot Shabbat 3:121).
Our rationale of permitting removing the dirty off the charger plate at meal’s end will thus be based on the premise that there is no halachic taarovet. In Living the Halachic Process (vol. I, C-19), we dealt with sorting silverware after washing at night after they were joined together in a sink, well before their being placed on the table the next day. We presented the machloket among contemporary poskim, which we will review very briefly, on whether this may be done without special care.
The Terumat Hadeshen (57) suggests that there is no borer between relatively large foods in close proximity to but clearly discernable from each other. However, he stops short of permitting this in practice, and the Rama (Orach Chayim 319:3) concurs.
Yet, Rav Ovadia Yosef (V, OV 31) is lenient regarding silverware due to a combination of (weaker and stronger) possible leniencies. 1) According to the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 319:9) borer does not apply to big pieces that are clearly discernable; the Ohr Sameach (Shabbat 8:11) posits similarly that borer does not apply for almost all intents and purposes to utensils or clothes (even according to the Taz (OC 319:12) that it is not limited to food). 2) The Pri Megadim (319, MZ 2) says that if the various objects being sorted will all be used at the same time in the future, it is permitted. 3) Perhaps (it is a fringe opinion) borer only applies to things that “grow” from the ground. 4) Selecting for the next meal is considered short term no matter when that meal is. Leniencies 1 &3 apply to this case, whereas #2 and #4 do not (at least at the last meal the plate will be used). Thus, one cannot prove from Rav Ovadia’s responsum that he would be lenient here. While the Tzitz Eliezer (XII:35) also considers the Ohr Sameiach’s position a significant contributor towards leniency, the Mishna Berura (319:15) and Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (3:78) do not.
However, we are confident that all poskim would not consider the two plates sitting one on the other to be a taarovet, for the following reason. Everyone agrees with the Terumat Hadeshen’s basis thesis that objects that are touching but absolutely separate are not a taarovet. His and the Rama’s hesitation was because it is not always easy to know the level of ease of discerning. In our case, though, since the normal usage of these plates is to have a normal plate sitting on top of a charger plate, one can “separate” them with zero concentration and blindfolded with ease. This idea is at the heart of the aforementioned Yabia Omer and Tzitz Eliezer.
We find a close precedent in the distinction between books piled on a table and those in their place and/or labeled in a bookcase (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 3:(179); Orchot Shabbat 3:23-4). While the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata is hesitant to use the leniency, taking off the right plate is far easier than grabbing for the right sefer (I not infrequently reach for one book and take its neighbor). The strong logic is only strengthened by the minhag regarding fish plates.
Behavior during Kedusha of Street MinyanimMy neighborhood is filled with outdoor Covid 19 minyanim. I was walking down the street on Shabbat and a minyan across the street was in the middle of Kedusha. In such cases, do I need to stop, keep my feet together, and respond to Kedusha until they are done, or may I continue walking?
The Rashba (Shut HaRashba 1:249) was asked by someone who assumed that if after reciting Kedusha, one enters a shul reciting it, he would be forbidden to repeat it. The Rashba rejects this, arguing that there is no reason not to repeat Kedusha in this manner. The Rama (Orach Chayim 125:2) in paskening like the Rashba, rules that in this case one should do so. Some posit that not repeating Kedusha with the congregation would appear as if he did not agree with the concepts expressed, which is a disgrace (see Yabia Omer VI, OC 20). All agree to this concept regarding the first pasuk of Kri’at Shema (Shulchan Aruch, OC 65:2). Others explain that the opportunity to sanctify HaShem’s Name obligates one to do so (Igrot Moshe, OC III:89). Both pieces of logic also apply to Kaddish and Barchu, where the congregation joins together to sanctify HaShem’s Name (see ibid. and Mishna Berura 65:9). Answering Kedusha is important enough to allow one to recite its crucial sections during P’sukei D’Zimra and Kri’at Shema (Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:3 and Mishna Berura 51:8).
Yet, significant sources posit that there is just a preference rather than a full obligation to answer Kedusha outside one’s own minyan. Rav SZ Auerbach (as cited by Ishei Yisrael 24:(62)) notes that the language of the Shulchan Aruch (OC 55:20) is that one who is adjacent to a minyan reciting Kaddish or Kedusha may answer with them; he does not say they are required to. Rav Elyashiv is similarly cited regarding someone walking outside a shul (Tefilla K’hilchata 13:(119)). Others (see Ishei Yisrael ibid.) argue that while the Shulchan Aruch is focused on the ability to connect to a minyan one hears, if they are able, it is obvious that they must.
There is much discussion about the challenges of davening in a place like the Kotel. Many (including Rav Chaim Palachi in Nishmat Kol Chai I:4) assume that there is an obligation to answer other minyanim and recognize this can be unconducive to focusing on one’s own davening/minyan. That conflict between competing mitzvot allows some to raise concepts such as osek b’mitzva patur min hamitzva (see Tzitz Eliezer XI:3). Also, as part of a different minyan, continuing to daven with one’s own minyan looks less like rejecting the words coming from an adjacent minyan.
Street minyanim may raise other factors. Sometimes one is very close and/or in the same domain even when not part of the minyan. On the other hand, sometimes there can be “dirty matters” (e.g., garbage bins, dog droppings) in between oneself and the minyan, which may preclude answering (Shulchan Aruch ibid.)Generally, we would posit that walking down the street, there is usually no compelling reason not to answer, which is what we expect one to indeed do. One is permitted to continue walking during Kaddish as there is never an obligation to not move (it is less respectful if he looks like he is ignoring it). Kedusha it is more complicated. While the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 95:1) requires having one’s feet together during Shemoneh Esrei, to “imitate” angels in service of Hashem, he writes regarding Kedusha that it is good to maintain that position, based on the same comparison (ibid. 4). There would still need to be a compelling reason not to do so. On a weekday, Kedusha takes less than a minute, even until the end of the beracha (there is some dispute as to when the status of Kedusha ends – Ishei Yisrael 24:26). On Shabbat, the additional liturgy within Kedusha not only takes longer but it is not considered a full-fledged part of Kedusha (see Mishna Berura 125:1 regarding learning quietly then). Therefore, one who has reason to make progress going down the street during the singing of those parts has what to rely upon.
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