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Different Drinks for KiddushIf I do not want to drink wine/grape juice, may I use other drinks for Kiddush?
The gemara (Pesachim 107a) prescribes wine to make Kiddush upon, and this generally applies across the board, for the two Kiddushes of the day, as well as Havdala. (We will not discuss other ceremonial occasions (e.g., brit mila, cup for bentching).) However, we see in a story in the gemara that in a case in which shechar (date liquor) is chamar medina (we will translate it as the major replacement for wine as a central drink), it may be used for Havdala. The gemara then continues to bring the opinion of Rav Huna that shechar should not be used for Kiddush. The Rosh (Pesachim 10:17) views the matter as a machloket Rishonim if the gemara posits that even chamar medina is invalid for Kiddush or whether we could be lenient as we are regarding Havdala.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 272:9) cites different opinions on whether one can use shechar for Kiddush, but he and the Rama prefer the opinion (attributed to the Rosh) that at night one should not use other drinks as a substitute for wine, but should rather should use challa for Kiddush, whereas in the daytime, shechar is preferable to bread. The Rosh explains the distinction as follows. Bread is the main part of the meal, and Kiddush is closely dependent on the meal, which makes challa the best alternative to wine. However, in the daytime, the essential Kiddush is just the beracha with which one starts the meal (the p’sukim recited are just a preference – Mishna Berura 289:2), whereas at night there is a whole separate beracha of Kiddush. If, then, making Kiddush on challa would consist of saying Hamotzi, it would be the same as if he had a meal without Kiddush.
Regarding the night, then, it is very difficult to use any drink as an alternative to wine. One reason is that it is the main Kiddush of the day can be a mitzva from the Torah (although the element of the wine itself is only Rabbinic). Another is that the Kiddush at night is connected to the pasuk of “Zachor (remember) et yom …” and in various places in Tanach we find a connection between zechira and wine (Eliya Rabba 272:14). This is in contrast to Kiddush in the day, which is not connected to zechira. Also, the minhag has developed to be much more lenient on this matter in the day (including in the regular practices of great rabbis – see Bach, OC 272:10) than at night.
One of the problems with chamar medina is that determining what counts as such is very elusive. The simplest reading of the gemara and the opinion of most Rishonim (see Beit Yosef, OC 272) is that it only applies when there is a lack of available wine. The Rambam (Shabbat 29:17) is somewhat more expansive about what is chamar medina (the main drink drunk as wine in that place), although on the other hand he rules that chamar medina may be used only for Havdala and not for Kiddush, apparently even during the day. The Taz (OC 272:6) posits that when wine is expensive (presumably, expensive is relative to the abilities of society and perhaps the person), it is permitted to make Kiddush on chamar medina.
There are few drinks in contemporary society (which likely differ from place to place) that are considered chamar medina according to a consensus of poskim. Whiskey (there is much discussion about how much one must drink) and beer have been on the “short list” for generations (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 53:9-10), and some have added natural fruit juices and coffee, with milk and soft drinks/soda being “lower on the totem pole” (see ibid.).
In our generation, with a wide variety of wine/grape juice available at cheap prices, the pendulum has rightly turned toward making Kiddush only on them. The best reasons to still use other drinks are when one ran out of them, dislikes them, or has a physical sensitivity to them. Another case is if one is very attached to a family minhag to use a different drink that is indeed still a notable, important drink.
Using Hot Water on ShabbatMay I use my hot water on Shabbat since I have the boiler on a timer to go on every morning before I wake up? (My hands are arthritic; in the winter it is hard to wash with cold water.) If this arrangement is unacceptable, please suggest a permitted one.
There are two problems with extracting hot water from the faucet when the water is heated by an electric boiler. One is that it will cause the thermostat to heat water sooner than it would have had you not used it. This is a problem in terms of connecting an electric circuit, and, more importantly, that a glowing filament or a gas flame will go on, as well as cold water being heated in the process. All of the latter involve Torah-level Shabbat melachot. It is a complicated question whether there is a Torah-level violation for the person who takes out the water, as the normally delayed reaction makes it likely that it is a form of gerama (indirect causation). We will not go further into this interesting question because you describe your system as off when you want to use it, until the end of Shabbat.
The other problem that occurs when you extract hot water from the tank is that cold water rushes into the tank to take its place and mixes in with the remaining hot water. The systems are designed in such a manner that the cold water enters on the bottom, whereas the hot water (due to the physical properties of heat rising and hot water being less dense than cold water) for the most part stays on top and does not fully heat the cold water below. However, it can be assumed that if the hot water is hot enough, at least a small amount of the cold water will reach the forbidden level of yad soledet bo (113°F, 45°C). Even in this case, there is some amount of leniency in that you do not place the cold water in the hot water tank but it goes in based on properties of physics after you open up your tap (see Yabia Omer IV, Orach Chayim 35). However, at least under normal circumstances, it is forbidden to remove water from a hot-water tank (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 1:39). If you were referring to a tank that had only solar-heated hot water in it, then this would very likely be permitted (see the famous leniency and its partial withdrawal in Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (ed. I, 1:31, and ed. II 1:45), as water heated by the sun is not fundamentally deemed to cook other things (Shabbat 39a). But, here too, we will be brief because this is not your case.
There are several practical ways to obtain lukewarm water. One is to not have the heating system go on on Shabbat and prepare things before Shabbat so that the water left in the tank does not heat the incoming cold water to yad soledet bo. Based on the physics discussed above, if you remove a nice amount of hot water before Shabbat after shutting off the heating system, the incoming water will not come in contact with hot water (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata ed. I, ibid.).
Another way to have warm water is to use a different source of hot water. If you remove hot water from a Shabbat urn, you can use it to create warm water in a container in two different ways. Many are used to using an extra cup in order to have a kli shlishi in which they put their tea, as many poskim (see Igrot Moshe, OC IV:74.15; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 1:57 is slightly more stringent) posit that kli shilishi does not cook even kalei habishul (easily cooked food). However, regarding water, all agree that it is permitted to put it into a kli sheini (Shabbat 40b; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 318:13), so that the extra cup is unnecessary. (Just as when making tea, one should make sure that there is not a small amount of (never heated) water in the cup before pouring into the kli sheini (Igrot Moshe ibid. 19).
If there is a nice amount of cold water in a cup one can pour in a small amount of hot water if the resulting mixture will clearly be less hot than yad soledet bo (Rama, OC 318:12; Mishna Berura ad loc. 84). This is a good idea only if one is confident he will remember to be careful about the amount.
Beracha on Hearing AidsI am excited to be getting hearing aids, which will improve my quality of life greatly, so that it deserves a Shehecheyanu. Considering that my family will find it easier to speak to me, should I recite Hatov V’hameitiv?
Indeed Shehecheyanu is for important acquisitions; Hatov V’hameitiv is for those that also benefit others (Berachot 59b; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 223:5). The question is how direct the others’ benefit must be.
The gemara (Berachot 59b) says that Hatov V’hameitiv applies to cases where the recipient has a partner, or that it is for him and a friend. The Yerushalmi (Berachot 9:3) says that an individual who receives a nice present recites Hatov V’hameitiv, and the Rosh (Berachot 9:16) explains that the gift giver also benefits, as it is nice to be able to give and to have it accepted. Tosafot (Berachot 59b) sees the two Talmudic sources as contradictory, as the Bavli requires joint ownership to make Hatov V’hameitiv, and the Yerushalmi views side benefit as sufficient. If that is the case, the rule is that we follow the Bavli, that Shehecheyanu would be said, not Hatov V’hameitiv. The Rosh (ibid.) and the Beit Yosef (OC 223:5), though, believe the two sources are compatible, explaining that the Bavli does not mean to require a literal partner but one who joins in the benefit. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) therefore rules that a gift recipient recites Hatov V’hameitiv, whereas many poskim say that Shehecheyanu is said (see Mishna Berura 223:21).
The Mishna Berura (ibid.) recommends resolving the issue in practice by doing Shehecheyanu. The Be’ur Halacha (ad loc.) explains that this is the safer choice. First, even if the higher-level beracha of Hatov V’hameitiv is called for, one still fulfills the requirement with Shehecheyanu (similarly to Shehakol being a valid beracha after the fact for all foods). Additionally, there is a respected opinion that when Hatov V’hameitiv is called for, it means Hatov V’hameitiv in addition to Shehecheyanu. According to this opinion, Shehecheyanu is anyway warranted, and we would omit the second beracha of Hatov V’hameitiv due to doubt.
At first glance, your question depends on this machloket. After all, you are the one clear owner/user of the hearing aid who is benefitting directly. It is even possible that the Yerushalmi did not mean that Hatov V’hameitiv is said on all cases of indirect benefit.
Your excellent outlook causes you to assume that at least Shehecheyanu is called for. Those people who dread hearing aids certainly would not make a beracha even if they are very helpful (see Magen Avraham 223:10). It is less certain that people who value that which most people do not make a beracha (see Mishna Berura 223:24).
There is a machloket whether to recite Shehecheyanu on things which serve to rectify or alleviate an unfortunate problem. Avnei Yashfeh (V:41) says to do so for a wheel chair or glasses if they bring him joy. Be’er Moshe (VIII:67) says the same about dentures. He claims that there is a proof from the halacha that when one’s parent dies and he inherits, he makes a beracha on the inheritance despite the tragedy (Berachot 59b). One can deflect that proof, as inheritance is positive and not just rectifying a problem; therefore, it gets a beracha even if accompanies tragedy. This is different from a hearing aid, which just overcomes the ear’s malfunctioning. I have seen accounts of Rav SZ Auerbach (Berachos of Praise, p. 201) and Rav Mazouz (online) saying that one does not make a beracha on medical appliances. There is also an old, although dubious, minhag to make Shehecheyanu only on clothes and not other articles (see Magen Avraham 223:5)
Your happiness/thankfulness should find expression with a beracha. It is safer to do it by making a Shehecheyanu on something that definitely warrants it and having the hearing aid in mind. However, there is a strong enough case to make Shehecheyanu (not Hatov V’hameitiv) independently if you like, all the more so regarding the latest hearing aids that have uses that go beyond fixing.
Returning to a Gemach Newer Medicines than One ReceivedI used a local medicine gemach, which prefers receiving replacement medicine but also allows giving back with money. The pills they gave me were slightly past expiration (they said it was okay for immediate use). While not wanting to be difficult, isn’t it ribbit to give back either (new) pills or their monetary value, considering that expired medicine is worth less than normal?
We will not discuss the pharmaceutical questions this question raises, which are not within our expertise.
Let us expand the question. Is it permitted to receive and return new medicine? The mishna (Bava Metzia 75a) forbids (Rabbinically) lending commodities in a way that obligates the borrower to return the same type and amount he received (se’ah b’se’ah). This is out of concern that the article’s price will increase and the borrower will have to return more value than he received, and it applies even if the article’s price remained unchanged.
We will take a cursory look at relevant leniencies (see more in Living the Halachic Process, II-F-5), which can apply in many cases of gemachs. One reason for leniency is yatza hasha’ar (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 162:3). It permits the loan of a readily available commodity with a stable price.
Another heter applies to cases of warm relationships. The gemara (Bava Metzia 75a) rules that one may lend loaves of bread to a friend without stipulations. The Rama (YD 162:1; the Shulchan Aruch is somewhat stricter) rules like those who explain that small changes in the value of small quantities are not considered purposeful interest. It is difficult to know what he would say about a case like this. On the one hand, we are talking about kind people who run gemachs and their chesed “clients,” but on the other hand, gemachs often have clear rules.
Both of these heterim are problematic when the borrower returns a clearly larger quantity than he borrowed (Torat Ribbit 7:(7); Brit Yehuda 17:(6).), and a clearly more valuable version of the same commodity is equivalent. It is hard to know what to say about this case. On the one hand, many people would not be willing to accept expired medicine. On the other hand, it is unclear that it has a lower price, as people who would buy it anyway, might be willing at the regular price. Furthermore, the service one gets along with the product affects its price (Pitchei Choshen, Ona’ah 10:(1)). If a business would sell under the conditions of a gemach (e.g., late at night, Shabbat), they likely could sell old medicine for at least the regular price.
The fact that you are not required to return with money may be helpful. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 162:1) rules that if one lent a commodity but set a price above which the borrower does not have to pay if the price goes up, then he may give back the commodity. Applying this concept to our case is too complicated to do justice in this context, both in regard to halachic complexity and the likelihood that it is impacted by nuances regarding the rules of the gemach (see Chavot Da’at (161:1), Netivot Shalom (p. 193-4) Divrei Sofrim, p. 71).
Regarding most gemachs, there is a strong leniency to rely upon. Rabbinic ribbit is waived when the lender is a charitable entity (Shulchan Aruch, YD 160:18). Poskim generally apply this rule broadly to gemachs (Torat Ribbit 20:26; The Laws of Ribbis 19:5; Brit Yehuda 17:(45) distinguishes between different types of gemachs). This likely applies to your case, whose potential violations are Rabbinic – se’ah b’se’ah and/or voluntary ribbit. This explains how many gemachs can encourage (not, require) donations from borrowers (Torat Ribbit 20:27).
Finally, many pasken that a borrower does not violate Rabbinic ribbit other than for causing the lender to sin (Rama, YD 160:1). Therefore, if a lender has what to rely upon, the borrower does not have to worry (see Netivot Shalom, p. 83). Considering all the above and the likelihood that what the gemach did was standard and that many gemachs have halachic guidance, you may follow their instructions.
Bikur Cholim by Electronic MeansDoes one fulfill the mitzva of bikur cholim by “visiting” a sick person (choleh) by electronic means?
It is difficult to speak definitely about “fulfilling” bikur cholim, as it is regarding many mitzvot bein adam lachaveiro. There is a consensus among poskim (many of whom we will cite, discussing phone calls) that there is moral and mitzva value to “visit” not in person. On the other hand, they all say that if one can come in person, he should. In order to appreciate both the value of a visit by telecommunication and the preference of in-person, we need to see the goals of bikur cholim and some sources on them.
One of the main of many reasons for visiting the sick (featured in the Ramban’s Torat Ha’adam and the Tur, Yoreh Deah 335), is to be moved by his condition and inspired to daven powerfully for him (Nedarim 40a). This is important enough to give cause for a halacha that one should visit at times of the day when his situation looks more severe, thereby increasing the prayer’s likely intensity (ibid.; Shulchan Aruch, YD 335:4). The Rama (ibid.) says that one who visited but did not pray for the choleh did not fulfill the mitzva. Considering the importance of the tefilla’s quality, being there in person helps in two ways: 1. It helps one feel the choleh’s condition more acutely (B’er Moshe II:105). 2. The Divine Presence is found around the choleh’s bed (Nedarim 40a). For that reason, one who davens away from the choleh should daven in Hebrew, as the angels do not bring before Hashem tefillot from other languages (at least, Aramaic), whereas before the choleh, Hashem Himself accepts the tefilla in any language (Shulchan Aruch ibid. 5). Therefore, while we value tefilla for cholim at all times and places, when we aim for the best tefillot (i.e., while visiting), it is best in person (Igrot Moshe, YD I, 223; Yechaveh Da’at III:83).
Another major reason for visiting is seeing to his practical needs, including advice (Nedarim 40a). The Minchat Yitzchak (II:84) presumes that one can get a fuller assessment when being there. On the other hand, he posits that if one has visited in person once, he can subsequently fulfill this element of the mitzva by phone. Tzitz Eliezer (V, Ramat Rachel 3) suggests that this element is rarely necessary in our days when the choleh is getting good care and medical advice in a hospital. The Minchat Yitzchak (died, 1989) also foresaw that when “television technology” would develop to the point that one could speak and see the choleh, that would suffice.
There is a concept that someone born at the same time of year (Bava Metzia 30b) or perhaps anyone (see Rambam, Avel 14:4) may relieve some of the illness. If this is mystically based, it would presumably work only in person. Another element is psychological encouragement, which Igrot Moshe (ibid.) posits works better in person than by phone. It would seem that while audio-visual contact is stronger than telephone, it still does not compare to being in person, especially because part of the encouragement comes from knowing that the visitor made a real effort to come visit, which is obviously harder than reaching out by telecommunication.
The gemara discusses cases where there is more to lose than to gain from one coming in person to visit, and the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 8) says that one can stay outside in such cases. So one who is unable to come should not use that as an excuse to do nothing. Rather, the consensus of poskim is that in addition to davening for the choleh, one should “visit” electronically when appreciated. On the other hand, while we can use modern technology to help significantly in many mitzvot, it should not turn into a replacement for the full-fledged personal fulfillment. The following is a scenario upon which I have not seen discussion and am unable to say anything conclusive: one (especially a rabbi) has only enough time to either visit many electronically or a few in person. Which is preferable? About such cases, Kohelet says: “The eyes of the wise are in his head” (2:14).
Hagomel for One Who Became Bar Mitzva after FlightOur family will be going to Israel for our son’s bar mitzva. We will arrive a few hours before he becomes halachically bar mitzva, and the next morning, he will get his aliya. Should he recite Hagomel after his aliya?
Although mature children generally recite berachot, the consensus of opinions is that a child does not recite Birkat Hagomel (Mishna Berura 219:3; Yalkut Yosef, Orach Chayim 219:3). The reason is not related to Hagomel’s minyan requirement, as a woman can recite Hagomel (see Mishna Berura ibid.; Living the Halachic Process ((=LTHP); V, B-8).
The source of this halacha is the Maharam Mintz (Shut, 14), who says that since the language of the beracha is that one thanks Hashem for doing kindness (saving his life from danger) for those who deserve punishment (chayavim), it does not apply to children who cannot deserve punishment. Although it is possible that a potential harsh decree could come from his parents demerits, to call them chayavim would be a disgrace of the parents. He is also not in favor of the father making the beracha on the child’s account (see more in LTHP III, B-10).
Mahari Basan (Lachmei Todah 5), cited by many as a minority opinion (the Birkei Yosef 219:1 says that his local minhag did follow him), disagreed. He argues that if the capability of deserving death as divine punishment were a requirement, then adolescents until 20 would also not be able to recite Hagomel. He also points out that we are not supposed to say harsh things about our religious state (Berachot 19a). He claims that chayavim does not mean deserving of death but being in debt, i.e., we have received more from Hashem than we deserve. This can apply to children as well. As mentioned, we do not pasken like the Mahari Basan.
If the reason for children not making the beracha is that we cannot attribute the danger to them, then if one’s danger was over when he was a child, the beracha should not apply, and therefore your son, who will iy”H land safely before his bar mitzva should not make the beracha. It is true that R. Akiva Eiger (to OC 186:2) considers it plausible that one who ate a meal right before he turned bar mitzva and remains satiated after he became bar mitzva might become obligated in Birkat Hamazon on the level of Torah law. We might argue then that since the time of your son’s aliya would be the correct time to recite Hagomel and he should still be thankful, Hagomel should become an obligation. However, this is incorrect for two reasons. For one, R. Akiva Eiger is predicated on the possibility that Birkat Hamazon is fundamentally on the state of satiation, which remains in adulthood. In contrast, here the extrication from danger was over during childhood (Be’er Sarim V:2). Also, since the word chayavim relates to childhood, it is still problematic.
It is likely that the inability to say chayavim is not a mere technical impediment to the beracha. Consider that one can fulfill the mitzva without saying the word chayavim (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 219:4) which is not even in our text of the gemara (Berachot 60a). Rather, the Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham, intro. to 219) implies that considering the language usually used, Chazal decided not to institute it regarding children, unlike other berachot, and therefore it cannot be created after the event that generates the beracha passes.
Rav S.Z. Auerbach (Minchat Shlomo II, 60) goes further, leaning toward saying that even if the child’s recovery was completed after bar mitzva, he would not recite Hagomel if the time of danger was earlier. (Be’er Sarim (ibid.) goes even further, regarding sickness, but not regarding travel.
In conclusion, since there is solid logic for those who think children should recite Hagomel, plus the fact that he will be bar mitzva at the time one would normally make the beracha, if your son wants, the two of you can have in mind during your recitation of Hagomel that, if appropriate, it relate to him also (see LTHP, II, B-7).
Giving Away Orla FruitI have a tree in its second year, so that its fruit is orla. Can I suggest to my non-Jewish worker to take it?
It is not only forbidden to eat orla fruit but even to benefit from them. The main non-eating benefits discussed regarding issurei hana’ah are physical (e.g., using orla for paint or fuel – Pesachim 22b), feeding animals (ibid. 22a) and selling.
The Rambam (Ma’achalot Assurot 8:16) forbids giving issurei hana’ah to non-Jews as a present. The Kolbo (92) points out that this prohibition is implicit, according to some, in the Torah’s formulation of the prohibition of neveila (meat of an animal that was not shechted properly) – one must not eat it but give it to a non-Jew who enjoys special standing (ger toshav) or sell it to another non-Jew (Devarim 14:21). Rav Avahu (Pesachim 21b) learns, according to R. Meir, that had it been forbidden to benefit from neveila, it would have been forbidden to give it to a non-Jew.
The logic is that giving presents causes reciprocity in some way/time, making the present a cause of benefit to the giver, and this is expanded to less direct cases. The Rama (Yoreh Deah 294:8) forbids helping a non-Jew pick his orla fruit, even for free, because the owner will be grateful. There is more room for leniency when the benefit is indirect. For one, the Avnei Nezer (Orach Chayim 489) posits that if one did not intend to enjoy the recipient’s gratefulness, it is permitted to provide him the orla. However, it is difficult for one who gives a present to determine he has no intention for beneficial good will, and such a situation can also create other halachic problems (ibid.), which it is unclear how easy it is to overcome (see Beit She’arim, OC 61; Chatam Sofer, Avoda Zara 64b).
The way to do things is not to present the orla as a gift, but to make your worker aware of the situation. Explain that you must not benefit from the fruit, that if no one takes them you will throw them out, and therefore you have nothing to lose (and even a little toil to gain) if someone, including him, takes them.
The following is the main source that allowing people to take issurei hana’ah, as opposed to giving a gift, is permitted. The mishna (Bava Kama 108b-109a) rules on one whose father used a neder to preclude his son from benefit from his property, and then the father died, and the son inherited the property. The son may indeed not benefit from the property, but he can direct it to his relative who may benefit from it. The Ran (Nedarim 47a) asks why this transfer of the property to the person of the son’s choice is not forbidden benefit. The Ran answers that the son is not allowed to give it to them regularly. Rather, he is to explain to them that he cannot use it himself, and therefore, from his perspective, they may as well take it. The Shach (YD 223:4) accepts this Ran, including that the son must mention that he has no use for the property. If you do so regarding the orla, it should work for you as well.
There are times that one may not give to a non-Jew, an object that is forbidden for Jews out of a concern that it will end up in the hands of Jews who will not realize the object’s status (see Avoda Zara 65b). However, this is not a broad concern, at least regarding things that people know need a kashrut check. Regarding orla, the gemara (Avoda Zara 21a)) and Shulchan Aruch (YD 294:14) allow people, in preparation of their trees producing orla, to sell or have a partnership with a non-Jew so that the non-Jew gets the fruit during the years of orla and the Jew gets them afterward. Rav Kook (Mishpat Kohen 6) says that such actions are permitted because they were done before the prohibited fruit existed, which would imply that at the stage you refer to, it would be a problem to make such fruit available. However, he discussed transferring an orchard of orla, which is meant for commercial use, which may go to Jews, as opposed to your small amount of fruit meant for personal consumption. The fact that you will mention that Jews may not eat it is also helpful.
Men Lighting Early in YerushalayimShould single men in Yerushalayim light 40 minutes before sunset like women do?
There are varied indications whether hadlakat neirot Shabbat is to honor (kavod) the upcoming Shabbat and/or maximize enjoyment (oneg) of the day (see Rambam, Shabbat 5:1 and 30:5; Living the Halachic Process VI, C-17). Seemingly, there is no gain in these regards to light well before Shabbat.
There is a machloket as to whether hadlakat neirot includes implicit acceptance of Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 263:10). Ashkenazi women accept Shabbat with the lighting unless they make a condition to the contrary (Rama ad loc.). Therefore, early lighting causes early acceptance of Shabbat, which is likely laudable for enthusiasm about Shabbat (see Igrot Moshe, OC III:38). It may also help avoid the remote chance of violating Shabbat, considering the opinion of the Yereim that Shabbat begins around a quarter hour before sunset (Mishna Berura 261:23), the different ways to determine sunset, and the chance of making a mistake about the time. While tosefet (adding onto) Shabbat is required, a few minutes is plenty (Shulchan Aruch, OC 261:2). So why do 40 minutes, when most of the world does 18-20? Some suggest that it is based on the most stringent way to calculate the Yereim’s approach (see Orchot Shabbat 33:(74); Magen Avraham 261:9 with Machatzit Hashekel).
Most Sephardi women do not accept Shabbat with hadlakat neirot (see Yabia Omer, II, OC 16). Ashkenazi men generally do not accept Shabbat with the lighting (Mishna Berura 263:42), which is important if they still need to daven Mincha (ibid. 43). If the 40 minutes has to do with accepting Shabbat, then it logically would not apply to men or to women who do not accept Shabbat at that time (indeed Yalkut Yosef, OC 261:45 shows that Sephardi women of Yerushalayim did not and do not need to light then).
Rav S.Z. Auerbach is cited (Orchot Shabbat 33:(74)) explaining minhag Yerushalayim as being done to give husbands time after their wives’ lightings to go to daven Mincha and accept Shabbat with Kabbalat Shabbat before sunset. (We will not analyze every conjecture about the reason.) Logically, then, a man lighting would want to light early enough to accomplish those things, and the minhag would apply to him. However, Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (46:(20)) says in Rav Auerbach’s name that the minhag does not apply to men. The author’s son explained the rationale to me. Whereas a minhag was enacted to encourage women to light when their husbands are home while they could still do a pre-sunset Kabbalat Shabbat, a man lighting can see what time works for him. It is possible to disagree with this logic.
There may be another reason for men to light at the same time as women. Ashkenazi women light before the beracha because they accept Shabbat with the beracha, which makes it forbidden to light. The Be’ur Halacha (to 263:5) brings a machloket whether we say that since men do not accept Shabbat then, they should make the beracha first, like most Sephardi women. The reason to disagree (see also Maharam Shick, OC 119) is lo plug (we do not distinguish between people despite the logic to do so). Regarding the time of lighting, too, it makes sense for everyone to light at the same time. The Minchat Yitzchak (IX:20) seems to assume that men also light early in Yerushalayim. While there is sometimes concern about lighting too early if one is not accepting Shabbat, this is not a problem if it is the standard time that others are lighting (Orchot Shabbat 33:(84)).
In conclusion, there are weak indications, a handful of varied sources, and no strong minhag on the matter. The 40-minute period is generally not an absolute requirement. (Although the Mishna Berura (262:11) says that if a woman is late in lighting, her husband should light, Rav Neventzal (B’yitzchak Yikarei ad loc.) clarifies that this is only when sunset is approaching.) We recommend that you try to light around the same time as other Yerushalmim but not to feel as strong an obligation as women do.
A Harmless Lie?Kids in camp often ask counselors when color war will be, and they often respond that they don’t know, when they actually do. Does this violate the prohibition of
The term sheker in the Torah’s halachic contexts is found regarding oaths (Vayikra 19:12), testimony (Shemot 20:12), and “Distance yourself from falsehood” (Shemot 23:7, in the context of instructions to judges). The gemara’s (Shvuot 31a) several examples are in the realm of adjudication, referring to any of the participants (including the litigants) giving a false impression even without lying.
The Yereim (235) posits that the prohibition applies even to non-judicial matters, but in cases where the lie causes damage. The gemara (Chulin 94a) forbids doing even nice things without lying if it may cause the recipient to be more grateful than he would be if he knew the truth, which could cause him to reciprocate at a cost. In non-judicial cases, we find an assortment of leniencies. The gemara (Yevamot 65a) allows distortions to preserve peace, citing three biblical precedents: 1) The brothers told Yosef that Yaakov had asked to forgive them; 2) Shmuel told Shaul he was going to Beit Lechem to bring a sacrifice, when his goal was to choose David as Shaul’s successor; 3) Hashem told Avraham that Sarah had called herself, rather than Avraham, too old to have a baby. Whereas #3 was to save someone else from dispute, #1 and #2 allow even saving oneself; whereas #1 and #2 carried the potential of grave danger, #3 refers to only hurt feelings. Torah Lishma (364) brings dozens of Talmudic examples of altering the truth for altruistic reasons. The gemara (Bava Metzia 23b) permits denying having learned a certain Talmudic massechet, out of humility (Rashi ad loc.). Another is lying to hide matters of relations between spouses (ibid.), which extends to not divulging when a woman is going to the mikveh (Rama, Yoreh Deah 198:48).
It is not limited to cases when the need could outweigh the prohibition, as not all the needs are great. Beit Shamai say that one violates lying if he praises the beauty of an unattractive bride, whereas Beit Hillel (Ketubot 17a), whom we accept, posit that this is okay, to make the chatan happy. The need there or due to humility (above) is not enough to overcome prohibitions. Rather, whereas most mitzvot are more absolute, the prohibition of non-judicial lying is contextual, and benevolent lying is not morally or halachically problematic.
Our answer is that counselors may, at least usually, say they do not know when color war is. Let us use your case to highlight some of the many distinctions that affect what is permitted. The accepted practice regarding color war in camp is that the staff tries to make it a surprise. The camper who is trying to find out is in essence saying, “It is my ‘job’ to try to guess; it is your job to try to deceive me.” This is equivalent to what I answered a young child of mine, who asked how I could try to fake out defenders when playing basketball. Along similar lines, if the counselors do not hide the truth, the campers, including the one who asked, will be damaged (i.e., have less fun). Misleading and even lying is permitted when the benefit to others outweighs any disadvantage (see Chulin ibid.; Titen Emet L’Yaakov p. 334).
When it is justified to alter the truth, one should try to limit the degree of deception. It is better to mislead than to directly tell a lie (see Aruch La’ner, Yevamot 65a). “I don’t know,” when one does know, is particularly palatable. In fact, Chazal instruct us to get used to saying we do not know (Berachot 4a). Kalla Rabbasi (4:22) learns this from Achima’atz, who knew that Avshalom had been killed and told David he did not know. It is not only farther from a full lie but apparently is also a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” In other words, once it is acceptable to say “I don’t know,” when is told that, he should consider that it might mean “I would rather not say” (one may use a literally incorrect statement when it is not particularly misleading).
Challenge with Monetary PrizeAs fun motivation, several friends are pooling 180 NIS each, which we will give to the one who raises the most money for our shul. Is this forbidden gambling?
The gemara (Sanhedrin 24b) gives two reasons why a mesachek b’kubia (=mbk – gambler) is pasul l’eidut (unfit to be a witness): 1) Rami Bar Chama – Because of asmachta (the loser of a bet did not plan to lose/pay), a gambler is a thief; 2) Rav Sheshet – A mbk’s life is unproductive, making him untrustworthy. The gemara says the practical difference is if the gambler also has productive activity. According to most, Rav Sheshet considers a mbk’s obligation valid.
The Rambam (Eidut 10:4; Gezeila 6:10) and Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 370:1-2) mix between the approaches – mbk violates (each time) Rabbinic-level thievery even though he is pasul l’eidut only if he is a full-time mbk. The losing party’s agreement to pay is insufficient because it is likely to not be whole-hearted (S’ma 370:3). The Rama (CM 370:2) rules that part-time mbk is permitted. Therefore, Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer VII, CM 6), regarding buying lottery tickets, which he equates to mbk, forbids it for Sephardim and permits it for Ashkenazim. Other poskim (see Rav A. Shapira in Techumin V; Teshuvot V’hanhagot IV, 311) argue that the Shulchan Aruch would permit lotteries because one expects to lose, he receives a lottery ticket with value, the rival gamblers do not interact, and/or because the money is taken by the lottery authority, not any specific counterpart.
Your case lacks one of the Rama’s (CM 207:13) conditions – mbk involves no skill, giving him less room for irrational optimism. In this case, any friend might think that he has a great chance to win, and therefore lack full intent to surrender money. There may also be technical problems, such as whether the money is found in a place in which a kinyan can take effect when the winner is determined (Rama ibid.). Therefore, we will look for other grounds to permit it.
The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 258:10) rules that one who made a conditional obligation to tzedaka cannot exempt himself due to asmachta. Arguably, since your motivation is noble (funds for a shul), this might apply. However, that will not suffice here because the question is about intent that one’s money will end up by his counterpart, and the shul is just background.
There may be a way of dealing with the limitations of asmachta, by strengthening the agreement by doing an act of kinyan (like a chatan does at the wedding) and having it take effect mei’achshav (immediately) and/or doing it in front of a distinguished beit din, or writing that it was done in front of such a beit din (see Shulchan Aruch, CM 207:14-15). This would apparently make it permitted according to the Rama but not the Shulchan Aruch (Bemareh Habazak (new edition) VI:95). To avoid machloket, because the details are not simple, and to avoid halachic ploys to remove moral issues (see Aruch Hashulchan, CM 207:35), we should look for a natural way to remove the stain of mbk.
A likely claim is that no one’s intent is to make money, but to create motivation and/or to make things fun. This is reminiscent of the practice of many good Jews to play dreidel on Chanuka for money. On the other hand, some require modifications or allow it only on Chanuka (see opinions and a compromise in Nitei Gavriel, Chanuka, p. 307-308; see also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 322:6). Also, you are not talking about small coins. Without knowing the group, we would not preclude the possibility someone could start off with a nonchalant attitude but could end up competitive and resentful over such things.
Therefore, while you might not have a problem and/or might be able to use the beit din chashuv system, we recommend the following (or equivalent) “mehadrin” modification. The pot is given to someone who will use the money for the shul, a get-together, etc. At his discretion, he will use some of the money for a modest prize object (not money) for the winner (based on Yabia Omer ibid.).
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