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Restrictions on a Former EmployeeA long-time rebbe at Yeshiva A left his job and now teaches at Yeshiva B, which caters to a similar population. May he approach Yeshiva A alumni, with whom he developed a relationship at Yeshiva A for assistance (money, ideas) in promoting his work at Yeshiva B? May he raise money for an NPO he formed personally? Do note that the rebbe had been unwilling to raise money for Yeshiva A when he worked for them. (The question is not intended to be used in deciding a dispute between the sides.)
We are unsure if the question is coming from the concerns of Yeshiva A’s administration, the laudable conscience of the rebbe, or a third party. We will give a general approach to the topic, while stressing that we do not know how it relates to the specifics of a case we know little about.
Most of the answer is based on logical analysis of the morality of the situation, but we will start with a source. Jewish workers/employers are not allowed to build relationships that resemble slavery (we are servants only to Hashem – see Bava Metzia 10a). Included in this halacha is that a worker may quit his job without being financially penalized (ibid. 77a – see Rashi ad loc.).
Therefore, a worker (including a dedicated teacher) may quit his job, and under normal circumstances is fully permitted to take a job with a rival of the first employer. If someone could not work in the same type of field and region, this would be restricting his livelihood and thus penalizing him significantly.
What about using “resources” he acquired in the first job? Part of the fringe benefits of many jobs are the skills, experience, and contacts acquired. Your question focuses on using the contacts. There is nothing wrong with doing so in a normal fashion. One does not steal anything from the first job. Everyone develops friends and contacts over the years, and one does not have to “erase” them upon leaving a job where some were cultivated.
In some ways, the matter is even clearer for rabbeim, for the following reason. Part of a rebbe’s job is to develop real, lasting relationships with his students. Real relationships are real relationships. Let’s say that ten years after teaching a student, the student sought out guidance or emotional support from his rebbe due to a life crisis. Imagine if the rebbe said: “I don’t work anymore in the yeshiva where I taught you; I have no time for you.” Imagine if his new employer said: “You may not help students from your past; they are a drain on your allegiance to us.” My words of criticism for one who would utter either statement are best to remain unwritten. (We are referring to cases in which time spent with old talmidim does not prevent the rebbe from fulfilling his present responsibilities competently.) A rebbe’s responsibility for life stems not from his employment by a yeshiva but from Hashem who entrusted him to teach His Torah to children and students (=children; see Rambam, Talmud Torah 1:2; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 245).
Talmidim also have responsibilities toward their teachers (see Shulchan Aruch, YD 242). While a rebbe should consider carefully how to “use” their respect and gratitude, others do not have a right to intervene. This is more so when the help is requested for a good cause. All have a responsibility to help good causes and those to whom they owe a debt of gratitude, whether monetarily or with their time, talents and energy. A tzedaka recipient cannot prevent another from asking for tzedaka from his benefactor because it may cause him to receive less. The donor makes his own choices. Similarly, if the rebbe asks his students for help in new projects, they can be trusted to decide how much to help Yeshiva B and Yeshiva A, and hopefully many other good causes.
A former employee should be particularly careful not to bad-mouth his former employer. He should also not take private information which he was privy to as an employee, (e.g., a detailed donor list of Yeshiva A). Working on a future job while still employed at the old one raises many questions and gray areas.
Making Up a Skipped Beracha during Shemoneh EsreiAfter Kedusha of chazarat hashatz, the chazan went to “R’ei v’onyeinu” instead of “Ata chonen” and finished the beracha before people succeeded to correct him. He went back to “Ata chonen.” When he got up to “R’ei v’oyneinu,” he did not recite it, reasoning that it was incorrect to repeat it. Was he correct, and why?
Dealing with skipping berachot of Shemoneh Esrei is the subject of a machloket between Amora’im and apparently Rishonim. Rav Huna (Berachot 34a) says that when one makes a significant mistake during any of the sections of Shemoneh Esrei (first three; next thirteen; final three), he returns to the beginning of the section. Rav Asi agrees regarding the first and last sections, but regarding the middle one, he does not require going back to the beginning (Ata Chonen). He expresses his opinion as follows: “The middle ones have no order,” and the Rishonim accept the opinion of Rav Asi. (In your case, either way he had to return to Ata Chonen, which is the one he skipped).
Rashi (ad loc.) seems to take the gemara’s language quite literally, and says that since the middle berachot do not have an order, if one skipped a beracha, he can make it up at whatever point he catches the mistake. In other words, after saying the beracha that he missed, he continues with the next beracha that he had been up to before his realization. For example, if he skipped #6 and realized after #8, he would recite #6 after #8 and then jump back to #9, without repeating #7-8. In your case, the chazan went from #3 (Ata Kadosh) to #7 (R’ei). Therefore, Rashi would have him make up #4-6 and then skip over #7 to continue with #8. (A minority of Acharonim learn Rashi differently.) This is exactly what the chazan did, when he skipped R’ei because he had already recited it.
Tosafot (ad loc.) disagrees, and says that after going back to the beracha he skipped, he continues straight from there, even though it means that he will repeat whatever he recited between making the mistake and discovering it. In the example above, after going back to #6, he continues with #7 and continues forward, thereby reciting #7 and #8 twice. Tosafot posits that the importance of saying the berachot in order is important enough to justify repeating berachot. We are used to repeating berachot when something was done wrong the first time. If one forgot something, for example, Ya’aleh V’yavo, he goes back to R’tzei and continues straight. In your case, the chazan should have recited R’ei another time.
Tosafot deals with the language of the gemara by saying that the lack of order is only in comparison to the halacha found regarding the first and last berachot. While there, one has to go back to the beginning of the set, this is not necessary in the middle ones (rather, one starts with the one he skipped). Tosafot bring a strong proof that the order of all the berachot is important. The mishna (Megilla 17a) says that if one read Megillat Esther out of order, he does not fulfill that mitzva; the gemara says that the same is true for Hallel, Kri’at Shema, and tefilla. This indicates that this is an absolute requirement even b’dieved and therefore justifies repetition to get the order back in synch. (One does not have to go back to the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei, but rather ignores the berachot already recited out of order.) Indeed, the gemara (Megilla 17b) says that Anshei Knesset Hagedola instituted eighteen berachot “al haseder” (according to an order). The gemara then goes on to bring p’sukim to show the logic of each beracha following the one before it. There are other sets of berachot regarding which the order is not critical, such as most of the sheva berachot (see Ba’er Heitev, Even Ha’ezer 62:1) and Birchot Hashachar (Mishna Berura 46:20).The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 119:3) follows the predominant opinion of the Rishonim like Tosafot. Therefore, the chazan in question did the wrong thing. Had this been realized any time during chazarat hashatz, he should have returned to R’ei and continued from there.
Davening in Front of a MirrorIs the prohibition against davening in front of a mirror or reflective glass a chumra or a serious halacha?
The matter of not davening in front of a mirror is not a Talmudically mandated halacha, but it is modeled after, an extension, or perhaps even an application of one or more halachot of Chazal.
The Radbaz (IV,107), in discussing davening facing the image of a lion, says that since we forbid davening in front of a mirror because it looks like he is bowing to himself, it is certainly forbidden to daven in front of an image of a lion (which is found in the kisei hakavod). He connects this to the halacha of not davening behind one’s rebbe (Berachot 27b), which, he posits, is in order not to look like he is bowing to him (as one suggestion in Tosafot ad loc. has it). Although he mentions looking like “bowing,” which we do only during Shemoneh Esrei, it likely applies throughout davening (see Machatzit Hashekel 90:37).
Others connect this practice to a different halacha. The gemara (Berachot 5b) says that one should not have a break between himself and the wall when he is davening. The poskim understand that it has to do with creating a distraction (see Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 90) and posit that it is likewise improper to have colorful pictures or wall hangings in front of him (Shulchan Aruch, OC 90:23). The Machatzit Hashekel (ibid.) says that this is an additional reason not to daven in front of a mirror. (Da’at Torah, OC 90 suggests that only the latter concern is correct.) This problem can be solved by closing one’s eyes or looking only at one’s siddur (Mishna Berura 90:63), which will not work for looking like bowing (Mishna Berura 90:71).
There is some logic for a reason that combines the two (admittedly, this does not seem to be the Radbaz’s intention). When one looks at himself when davening, we view this self-absorption as antithetical to the mindset one should have in davening. While this is not literally bowing to himself, there is an element of it, figuratively.
This “prohibition” is not mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Rav Yosef Karo met the Radbaz late in life (in Safed) but apparently did not have access to his scholarship when writing his sefarim). However, many of the classical commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch and related works cite it as a halachic fact (see Mishna Berura ibid.). Therefore, while it may not have the full force of a formal Rabbinical prohibition, it is an accepted minhag related to full halachot, which we do not consider a chumra.
This status makes it more reasonable to look for leniency in cases that are close but not identical to the classic case, when logic so dictates. Several Acharonim are lenient when one can see his image but not in a mirror per se. The Shevet Halevi (IX, 21) justifies the minhag to daven before reflective objects when that is not the object’s purpose (he discusses a “Shiviti Hashem l’negdi tamid” sign situated in front of the chazan). Ohr L’tzion (II, 7:11) says that it is permitted to daven in front of a window, even if the lighting makes his image clearly visible, as long as he closes his eyes or angles himself so he does not see it. The apparent logic is that fear of looking like davening to himself only applies when he puts himself in front of a mirror, which makes him look interested in looking at himself as he davens. However, when the ability to see is incidental, no one will think that one is davening to himself. Admittedly, some poskim are machmir even in the case of davening before a window at night (see Ishei Yisrael 9:(66)).
It would seem that one difference of this not being a full-out Talmudic prohibition could be in a rare case where the only way to daven is opposite a mirror. If it were a full-fledged prohibition based on the first reason, it might be better not to daven at all. Although I did not find sources on the matter, it would seem that indeed it would be better to daven (although he should certainly not look) than not to daven at all, if this is his only option.
Sefarim under SeatsIn our shul, the seats have drawers underneath them to store chumashim, siddurim, etc. Thus, we sit over these books. Is that allowed?
A few gemarot are relevant. One (Berachot 18a) forbids putting a sefer Torah under one’s saddle when riding an animal unless it is necessary to protect it. Another gemara (Menachot 32b) cites an opinion (accepted by the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 282:7) that one may not sit on a bed that has a sefer Torah on it. A final gemara (Berachot 24b, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 40:3) discusses having tefillin that are incased in coverings under him as one lies in bed. It is a forbidden disgrace if they are under his feet. It is more lenient if they are by his head, especially if not directly below it.
To which case should we compare a storage box underneath a seat? The Rama (Shut 34) compares it to sitting on the same bed with a sefer Torah and forbids most cases. Ohalei Yaakov (Sassportas, 1) compares sitting over something to putting it under his feet, i.e., it is more degrading than having it by his head, and, at first, he forbids it.
Yet, there is some room for leniency because one does not sit on it but above it. As Bnei Yonah (YD 282:7) points out, it is certainly permitted to walk in a room directly above a sefer Torah on the floor below. In that, there is a clear break between where one is sitting/standing and the holy article. In contrast, not all agree that being directly under the top of “storage box” creates such a separation (Rama, ibid.; Taz, YD 282:4). A very large box, (containing 40 se’ah – approximately the size of a person) makes it considered a separate domain and permitted to sit above (ibid.).
The gemara does mention that the tefillin are beyond disgrace if they are three tefachim (around ten inches) above or below where the person is lying. However, not all agree that so much space is necessary. The Ohalei Yaakov (2) suggests the following based on a comparison to sitting next to a sefer Torah. If the Torah is not directly on the bed but rests on something of even minimal height which is on top of the bed, one may sit elsewhere on the bed. So too, when sitting on the storage box, if there is any noticeable space between the tefillin and the bottom of the seat, it is permitted because of the separation. The Mishna Berura (40:13) cites the stringent and lenient as equals; if there is a tefach of space, he permits it. The Tiferet L’Moshe (YD 282; see Pitchei Teshuva, YD 282:8) says that the matter depends whether the bottom of the cover/seat touches the tefillin [case]. His distinction probably is not about separation but about connection. The gemara talks about soft coverings around the tefillin, so that one’s weight presses on them and thus disgraces them. When they do not touch/press, there is less disgrace. Ohalei Yaakov also suggests that in a crowded shul, the idea of protecting the holy article might apply.
One might argue for more leniency when discussing, not a sefer Torah or tefillin, but printed Torah texts. However, this does not create automatic permission (at least for Ashkenazim – see Yabia Omer IX, YD 22) without strong reason for leniency (see Ohalei Yaakov 1). Some say it is better if non-kodesh objects are also present (Pitchei Teshuva ibid.).
Physical distinctions may be significant. Most of the poskim discuss sitting on the box’s cover. The Taz, who was generally machmir, says that if the furniture is connected to the wall, it is permitted. Presumably, the same is true if the bench is drilled into the floor. If the box is separate from the bench, it is likely not considered that one is sitting on the sefarim below. What you describe as a shelf connected to the bench seems equivalent to what the poskim discuss (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 20:35 regarding muktzeh in the drawer of a table).
In summary, leniency is certainly legitimate in your case, with it being somewhat better if: you do not have tefillin in there; there is room between the top sefer and the seat above; non-kodesh objects are also present.
Moving Kugel into a Cholent PotMay I take a kugel that was on a hot plate on Shabbat and put it into a cholent that is in a crock pot?
In addition to making sure the kugel and cholent are fully cooked before the transfer, two issues need to be addressed.
One issue is chazara – the prohibition on putting, on Shabbat, a food that was off a heat source onto one unless factors exist that make it considered an innocuous return to its place (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 253:2). The main factors are: the heat source must be in a state that raising the heat is unlikely; the food was removed from a heat source with the intention of returning it; one did not put it down (ibid.). When these conditions are met, one may transfer the food from one heat source to another, even if the latter is hotter (Rama, OC 253:2 and Mishna Berura 253:62). Thus, it would seem okay to take food from a hot plate to a crock pot assuming the steps were taken to reduce the chance of raising the crock pot setting (which is a separate discussion).
However, the matter depends on an important machloket: Is it permitted to move food from a refrigerator on Shabbat morning to a hot plate? Let us briefly explain the opinions and the connection. There are two Rabbinic concerns about returning food to a heat source: one may “stoke the coals” (i.e., raise the setting); placing the food looks like cooking. “Shabbat hot plates” have only one setting, eliminating the concern of adjusting. Regarding looking like cooking, some (Halachos of Shabbos (Eider), p. 313; Am Mordechai, Shabbat 7) argue that since hot plates are made only for reheating, no one will make a mistake. Rav Ovadia Yosef adds that the fact that a hot plate is known to be used only for reheating on Shabbat improves the situation, as does the fact that there is space between the heating element and the metal upon which the pot sits (Yechaveh Da’at II:45). They, thus, posit that the hot plate is not halachically considered “on the fire.” The Orchot Shabbat (2:(117)) argues cogently that if someplace is considered “on the fire” enough to forbid taking food from the refrigerator onto it, then one may move food from there to anywhere “on the fire.” However, if a place is categorized as “off the fire,” such that one may put food from the refrigerator onto it, then it is forbidden to move from that place to a full heat source. It is difficult to argue with this thesis, for if it is wrong, one could take food from the refrigerator to even a stove top with a blech in two steps. First, put it on a weak heat source, and from there move it to a full heat source.
Thus, if you follow the lenient opinions above, regarding the hot plate, you could not move the kugel from there to a crock pot, for the latter is a full heat source, as it is used for cooking food from scratch. If you follow the stringent opinions regarding placing food on a hot plate on Shabbat (such as Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 1:25), the laws of chazara would not preclude your moving a kugel from a hot plate to a crock pot. (If one is stringent for a hot plate only out of doubt/chumra, then it would be a problem to treat as a real heat source in order to allow moving from there to a crock pot.)
Another issue is hatmana – insulating something to keep it hot, which is forbidden on Shabbat and sometimes even before Shabbat (see details in Shulchan Aruch, OC 257-8). If the kugel is wrapped in aluminum foil or the like and put in the cholent, with the latter keeping it warm, it seems a candidate for this prohibition. (Food directly within other food is not a problem (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 1:72).) However, there are at least two ways to solve all problems. First, if the kugel is not fully submerged, it is not hatmana (see Mishna Berura 258:2). Second, if one makes holes in the aluminum foil, so that taste of cholent is expected to enter the kugel, the cholent and kugel are considered united enough for hatmana not to apply (Orchot Shabbat 1:93). (Additional grounds for leniency regarding hatmana are beyond our present scope.)
Donating a Sefer Torah to a ShulPeople who own sifrei Torah often lend them to a shul. Is there any reason they cannot donate them (which can get them a tax credit)?
The 613th mitzva in the Torah is, “Write for you (plural) this song,” which refers to the Torah (see the Rambam’s formulation of Chazal’s derivation – Sefer Torah 7:1). Not many people fulfill the mitzva of writing a sefer Torah, which is either very difficult and time-consuming (to do oneself) or expensive (to hire a sofer). There are two almost opposite justifications for why not. The Sha’agat Aryeh (36) and Chatam Sofer (Shut Orach Chayim 52) say that we anyway cannot assume that a sefer Torah will be valid since there are certain words that even Chazal were not sure how to spell. The Rosh (Sefer Torah 1) views the mitzva much less formalistically – the idea is to have text material for Torah study, and therefore having a good library of Torah sefarim is a better way to fulfill the mitzva than having a sefer Torah which is used “only” for laining. You are asking about someone who wants to fulfill the mitzva in the classical way but would prefer to give it to a shul, where it is used these days, rather than keep it in his home.
There is a chakira that is critical to answer your question. Is the mitzva to write a sefer Torah or to have a sefer Torah? The pasuk refers to writing, but maybe that is just the description of how one gets a sefer Torah (note that the Torah also says to write mezuzot on one’s doorposts, yet we fulfill the mitzva not by writing one but by attaching the text).
Rava says that if one inherits a sefer Torah, he does not fulfill the mitzva and must write one anyway (Sanhedrin 21b). That sounds like the mitzva is to write. A different gemara (Menachot 30a) says that one who buys a sefer Torah is like one who “grabs a mitzva from the marketplace.” Rashi says that this means that he fulfills the mitzva in a not optimal way. In contrast, the Rama (Yoreh Deah 270:1) says that one does not fulfill the mitzva. The Beit Halevi (I:6) reads the Rambam (ibid.) like the Rama, and explains that Rashi understands that the two gemarot above argue on each other.
Thus, there seem to be formidable opinions on both side of the chakira. Should we claim that if the mitzva is to write the sefer Torah, it does not make a difference what happens afterward? The gemara (Megilla 27a) says that it is forbidden to sell a sefer Torah (except under specific circumstances). However, the issue there is apparently not because it will leave one without a sefer Torah (Rashi ad loc. says the gemara is referring even to a case where he has another sefer), but rather that it is a disgrace to sell a sefer Torah (see Aruch Hashulchan, YD 270:14). Indeed, your idea of donating to a shul does not have that problem.
However, it is possible that the above chakira is one-sided. In other words, it is a question whether ownership is enough to fulfill the mitzva, as it might be necessary that one’s sefer Torah is one that he wrote or was written on his behalf (see formulation of Sha’agat Aryeh 36). But, argues the Torat Chaim (Sanhedrin 21b), everyone agrees that if one no longer owns his former sefer Torah, including if he donated it to a shul, the mitzva to “write it” ceases to be fulfilled and he is obligated anew. On the other hand, the Pitchei Teshuva (YD 270:3), after citing this opinion, cites other opinions that even if one writes and then donates and perhaps even if he loses his sefer Torah, he has fulfilled the mitzva.
In summary, there is value to writing a sefer Torah even if one will then donate (preferably to a shul that can use it). If one can only afford doing so if he gets a tax break for a donation, this can be a good move. It is not clear, though, whether he will still be in fulfillment of the mitzva of writing a sefer Torah. If he will give it away, it is critical that he commissioned the writing (at least the end of the sefer – see Menachot 30a). After all, if he bought and then donated, he is lacking according to both sides of the chakira.
Reading before Going to SleepIs it permissible to read a book after the bedtime Shema/Hamapil? I like to read in bed before falling asleep, but I sometimes fall asleep and, if I have not said them beforehand, it is possible that I will sleep through the night without reciting them.
Reciting the beracha of Hamapil is mandated by the gemara (Berachot 60b) and codified as halacha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 239:1). We say it in conjunction with Kri’at Shema prior to going to bed, which is also an obligation (Berachot 4b; Shulchan Aruch ibid.), and there are other p’sukim and texts relating to our desire for divine protection during sleep.
The gemara says that one makes the beracha as he prepares to lie down in bed to sleep. The Rama (OC 239:1) says that one should not eat, drink, or talk between Kri’at Shema and actually sleeping. Most assume that this applies as much or more to interruptions between Hamapil and sleeping.
A break could be particularly problematic after Hamapil for two reasons. First, if one made a break after Kri’at Shema, he can repeat Kri’at Shema as much as he likes (according to Rama ibid., the more the better). In contrast, one may not recite Hamapil, which is a beracha, at will (Mishna Berura 239:4). Furthermore, there is a fundamental question as to Hamapil’s function. The Chayei Adam (35:4) says that the beracha is a general thanks to Hashem for providing sleep, and it is appropriate to recite it at night, when people generally sleep. He says that the beracha remains appropriate even if one did not end up falling asleep, because other people did sleep. This is similar to the idea of one reciting Birchot Hashachar for things from which people benefit in the morning, even if he did not personally benefit that day from those things (Shulchan Aruch, OC 46:8). On the other hand, many cite the Seder Hayom, who says that Hamapil should be said very close to the time one falls asleep, as the beracha relates to one’s personal sleep. The Biur Halacha (239:1) strengthens this opinion by pointing out that Hamapil was composed in the first person, implying it refers to the sleep of the one reciting the beracha (see Sha’arei Teshuva 46:12).
The question then is whether reading is a hefsek (a halachic break) between Kri’at Shema/Hamapil and sleeping. Reading with one’s eyes (without moving his lips) is halachically considered hirhur, i.e., thinking about something (see Mishna Berura 47:8). Although the gemara cites a dispute on the status of hirhur, the consensus is that it does not generally count as speaking (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 62:3; 47:4). Therefore, when only a full hefsek is forbidden, reading is not forbidden (see Yabia Omer, II, OC 4 regarding learning between Yishtabach and Kaddish). After Kri’at Shema/Hamapil is not a particularly strict time. On the other hand, we have seen that the ideal is to do the recitations as close as possible to going to sleep.
In practice, the best advice depends on the way your reading and sleeping interact. If the reading is relatively short and a part of how you fall asleep, then you can do the recitations before reading; the reading can be considered a part of the process of going to sleep (similar to adjusting the blanket, or at least like setting an alarm that you forgot to do before). If you read at that time because it is a convenient/pleasant time to do so and then put down the book and make the final preparations for sleep, Kri’at Shema/Hamapil should be part of those final preparations. If the reading is something in between, where you sometimes finish reading and then get ready for bed and sometimes fall asleep while you are reading, then you should read until you feel yourself getting close to sleep. At that point, you should do the recitations and either put the book down or continue the final minute(s) of reading. If you accidentally fall asleep before reciting Hamapil, you are not to be blamed. Only if it is likely that you will fall asleep soundly without enough warning is it better to recite Hamapil/Kri’at Shema first.
Short Mincha on ShabbatIn my community (I am the rabbi), we daven Mincha during the week without a separate chazarat hashatz (=heiche Kedusha) because of people’s busy schedules. In the winter, we have the practice of davening Mincha of Shabbat after the shul Kiddush following Musaf. Some congregants have requested that we do short Mincha, as their wives wait to go home with them. Is there any basis to allow this?
Chazarat hashatz was instituted after the silent Shemoneh Esrei and for the purpose of providing Shemoneh Esrei for those who cannot daven themselves (Rosh Hashana 34b). Of course, we continue doing it even if no one needs such a service, and it has a special status of tefilla in and/or of the tzibbur. Chazal also instituted that the chazan recites a silent Shemoneh Esrei before chazarat hashatz, even though that could have fulfilled both his private and public obligations. It is done so the chazan can “practice” before chazarat hashatz (ibid.).There was a time when heiche Kedusha was done with the chazan continuing to recite the amida out loud while individuals were saying it quietly (see Radbaz IV:94; Magen Avraham 232:2). The way we do heiche Kedusha (the chazan stops reciting the amida out loud after HaKel Hakadosh), we miss all of these elements, and what is left is the ability to recite Kedusha together.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 124:1) allows one who needs to be chazan but comes to shul very late to recite chazarat hashatz “without practice.” The Rama (ad loc.) notes that if they will not be able to recite Shemoneh Esrei and chazarat hashatz before the appointed time, the tzibbur may start Shemoneh Esrei with the chazan. (In Living the Halachic Process III, A-2, we discussed whether the tzibbur should start immediately or after Kedusha.) Another situation of need brought to justify heiche Kedusha is when it is unclear if the requisite number of people will answer amen to chazarat hashatz (see Radbaz ibid.). The Beit Yosef (OC 124) relates that the minhag in most congregations was to regularly do a shortened Mincha but he does not cite this as halacha in the Shulchan Aruch. The Darchei Moshe (ad loc. 3) reports that this was not the minhag in the communities he knew of and permits it only for cases of need. Nevertheless, a reasonable minority of congregations (like yours) always posit that they have enough need to shorten the davening at Mincha during the week, which is a local rabbi’s call.
You ask if this can be done on Shabbat, for a new need – so that wives do not have to wait too long for husbands. We have found opinions that restrict when one can do heiche Kedusha. The Pri Megadim (EA, OC 591:1) raises the problem of fulfilling one’s amida obligation with chazarat hashatz on a day that piyutim are said, as they can be a hefsek. Another questionable situation is on a fast day where the chazan is not able to recite Aneinu as a separate beracha (see Magen Avraham ibid.; Biur Halacha 232:1).
Of course these problems do not apply at a regular Shabbat Mincha, and we have not identified other problems. The practice of chazarat hashatz is not significantly different on Shabbat than during the week. We have not found sources that preclude heiche Kedusha. While there is little literature on the topic of doing so, the fact that a minority of Sephardi communities do so for Shabbat Musaf regularly, without special need, lends credence to its halachic legitimacy.
You are likely bothered by the lack of a minhag to do short Mincha in communities you have seen, which is a valid concern. However, this does not necessarily mean there is a minhag against it. Rather, on Shabbat it is rare for there not be enough time or that the minyan is so weak that this is necessary.Thus, it is a question of advisability. To what extent is lowering the level of an element of tefilla justified to encourage more people to come (or stay)? To what extent does it foster harmonious relationships within the community and its families? You are more equipped to answer than we are.
Shaming those who do Not VaccinateIs it permitted to publicly shame those that do not vaccinate their children for measles and put people in the community at risk in order to get them to vaccinate?
[Presumably, some readers will find our response offensively strong and others will find it vexingly weak – this is often a sign of reasonable balance.]
Let us first summarize the medical consensus. (We do not give medical advice when there is not a consensus). Measles is a highly contagious disease that is at least unpleasant but more importantly can cause severe long-term health problems, and occasionally death. Immunization includes an extremely low chance of severe problems and normally only causes mild discomfort. It is recommended by virtually all doctors. Although the vaccination is not foolproof, its success rate in preventing contracting measles is well above 90 percent. Therefore, when almost the entire population is vaccinated, there are only a handful of cases of measles a year, and such a disease has a chance of being eradicated. When many are not vaccinated, an outbreak can occur, as has happened in Jerusalem. Then, while each individual vaccinated person is unlikely to contract measles, a certain percentage of the many exposed to it will. Children before their second dose are slightly more susceptible, and babies under a year old, who are too young to be vaccinated, are at great risk.
Halacha believes in following the instructions of doctors, whether Jewish or not, to the extent that their orders to save lives are sufficient grounds to violate Torah-level Shabbat violations (Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chayim 328:10). When there is disagreement between doctors, weight is given to both the number and the level of expertise on the various sides (see Biur Halacha ad loc.). The obligation to protect one’s health is a more severe matter than avoiding aveirot (Chulin 10a). Therefore, it is not surprising that poskim rule that one who refuses to follow doctor’s life-saving orders can be coerced to do so (Magen Avraham 328:6). The matter is even clearer when one not only endangers himself but is endangering others. If vaccination was being done almost universally, one might have the right to listen to his medical advisor (non-standard doctor or rabbi or “guru”), as the risk raised by a small number of not vaccinated people is small. But when it becomes a trend, it is dangerous, and when an area is in the midst of an outbreak (because of the prevalence of such people), the situation is grave, as is unfortunately the case in Jerusalem at the time I am writing.
In theory, then, it is justified to take steps to pressure people to vaccinate. Despite this, we at Eretz Hemdah oppose individuals taking the matter into their own hands by shaming (whether the old-fashioned ways or through social media). The precedent of condoning such behavior is extremely dangerous to society. One will shame over a medical matter; another over something religious; another for a political cause, etc. Do realize that when rebuking people for doing aveirot, one must not do so by means of shaming a person, especially publicly (Rambam, De’ot 6:8)
We are believers in steps being taken by those with responsibility and authority. In this case, public health officials, in cooperation with other government arms, should take the steps their experts deem appropriate. In many cases, intense public education is more effective than attempts at coercion, but they have the prerogative and even responsibility to the public to take punitive steps if deemed necessary.
What an individual and an “unauthorized” group may do is take steps focused on protecting themselves. At a time of an outbreak, it is legitimate to avoid contact with friends or relatives who do not vaccinate, even when it is insulting. A shul, by decision of its rabbi and officers, may decide that the danger at a given time warrants demanding of such people not to come/bring their children to shul. But intentional shaming is not the way to go about it.
Interruptions during HallelIs it and/or under what conditions is it permitted to interrupt Hallel for matters of some importance?
The mishna (Berachot 13a) cites two opinions about when it is permitted to greet people during Kri’at Shema and its berachot. The factors are: whether the speaking is in the midst of a beracha or section of Kri’at Shema or between units; how important is the person one is greeting; whether one initiates or responds. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 66:1) rules that between units, one may initiate greetings to any respected person and respond to anyone. Within units, one can only initiate to one’s father, rebbe, or a great scholar, as well as someone who can cause him harm; he can respond to anyone who is respected. Responding to Kaddish, Kedusha, and Barchu is important enough to do even in the midst of a unit (ibid. 3).
The gemara (Berachot 14a) inquires whether one may be as lenient regarding when he may speak during Hallel as during Kri’at Shema. It considers that on the one hand, Kri’at Shema may be more stringent because the mitzva to recite it is a Torah law. On the other hand, Hallel might be more severe, since it is an act of publicizing Hashem’s greatness. The gemara posits that Hallel is not more severe. The gemara then distinguishes between days in which “Full Hallel” is recited (e.g., Yom Tov, Chanuka), in which case one may interrupt only in between units, and days in which “Half Hallel” is recited (Rosh Chodesh, Chol Hamoed Pesach), in which case one may interrupt even within a unit. (Hallel’s units are the mizmorim which constitute it; these correspond to the “chapter numbers” that are usually used.)
Sephardim have a clear reason to distinguish between the two types of Hallel recitations: Full Hallel has berachot before and after it, which Half Hallel lacks (Shulchan Aruch, OC 422:2). The juxtaposition between berachot makes it problematic to talk (see Tosafot, Berachot 14a). However, even Ashkenazim, who make berachot before and after both types of Hallel, accept the above distinction. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that only on the days of Full Hallel is there a real obligation to recite; when there is no obligation, interruptions are less problematic.
We cannot go through all the permutations that can arise, but we will address some. The basic difference is that the same respected person whom one may greet only between the units of Kri’at Shema (Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:1), one may greet during Half Hallel even in the midst of mizmorim (ibid. 422:4).
Nowadays, most people do not view the need to greet others as seriously as Chazal did. Therefore, the poskim have assumed for quite some time that it is no longer appropriate to greet others during Kri’at Shema (Mishna Berura 66:2). Since one cannot speak at any time during Hallel without a special reason (Shulchan Aruch, OC 422:4), the same is true for Hallel, and we do not greet people even during Half Hallel (Dirshu, 422:25). What remains permitted to talk about is mainly matters of mitzva that need to be recited, and we will give a few examples. Answering Kaddish, Kedusha, and Barchu can be done even in the middle of a unit of Kri’at Shema (Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:3) and therefore certainly during Hallel. Regarding one who is called up to the Torah when he is still in Kri’at Shema, there are several opinions (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:4), but the standard one is that he does go up but should try to make it to a unit break before he starts the aliya (Mishna Berura 66:26; see details of how to handle the aliya). If this was during a Half Hallel, it would not be necessary to make it to a unit break. If one has to go to the bathroom, he should not recite Asher Yatzar until after Shemoneh Esrei (Mishna Berura 66:23) and in this case after Hallel because it can wait. The poskim dispute whether one may recite the beracha on thunder because it cannot be done later, and the more accepted opinion is to do so only if it is between units of Kri’at Shema (Mishna Berura 66:19). During Half Hallel, it would be permitted at any point.
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