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Playing Darts on ShabbatCan we play darts on Shabbat? (Additional information requested – the darts are classic ones that pierce the board’s surface; the board hangs loosely from a nail in the wall; in between uses, the darts often stay on the board.)
There are several possible problems to resolve before we can permit this.
Tofer (sewing) – It is forbidden to attach two objects or two parts of an object to each other by stitching or the equivalent (see Mishna Berura 340:27). One can claim that connecting darts to the board is considered tofer. A full violation requires at least two stitches (Shabbat 73a) and here every dart is connected in only one place, but it could still be a Rabbinic prohibition. On the other hand, certain types of connections are permitted because they are for temporary opening/closing, e.g., buttons, zippers (Orchot Shabbat 11:7-8). One can argue that likewise the nature of the darts game is to connect them just long enough to see how many you placed where. Regarding the very similar case of using one thumbtack to attach a note to a bulletin board, Piskei Teshuvot (313:(157)) distinguishes between setups based on how long they are likely to stay pinned. In this case, the game would not be a problem, but leaving the darts on the board or removing them when starting to play could be. However, it is not clear that this is so for a flimsy, single connection. Also, the fact that the dart is not connecting two things but connecting itself flimsily may preclude it from being tofer (Orchot Shabbat 11:(14)).
Boneh (Building) – 1) The dart being attached to the board changes the board. However, having darts in the board in no way improves the board; it is just a fleeting situation of the game or a meaningless one during storage. Furthermore, since the dart board is only hanging from a nail and not itself attached to the wall, we are dealing with the more lenient matter of building utensils. Therefore, if one connects them lightly (e.g., a dart in its board), and especially if it is by nature a weak connection, this is not a violation of building a utensil (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 313:6).
2) It is forbidden to attach a nail to a structure (Shabbat 103a). This applies not just to a building/something attached to the ground, but even to a movable object (Mishna Berura 314:8). However, the K’tzot Hashulchan (119:(4)) says that if one attaches something not to use there but just for it to remain until it is removed later, it is permitted. One can prove that connecting one object to another just to hold the former for later use elsewhere is not intrinsically forbidden, from the gemara (Shabbat 50b) that one may return firmly to a wall a knife that had been held there previously.
Making or expanding a hole – It is forbidden to make or widen a hole in an object such as a barrel (Shulchan Aruch, OC 314:1). In playing darts, every successful throw makes a small hole in the board. However, the prohibition is when the hole is the type that is or could be useful (see Mishna Berura ad loc. 8). In this case, though, the holes are incidental and unhelpful.
Destroying – Holes created hasten making the board usable. Destroying utensils except flimsy ones to remove their contents on Shabbat is forbidden Rabbinically (Shulchan Aruch ibid. and Mishna Berura ad loc. 7). Yet, piercing a cork with a cork screw is permitted (Mishna Berura 314:17; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 9:20). The cork’s hole is neither a problem of being constructive or destructive and, practically, each hole the dart makes in the board is even less significant. Forbidding it because continuous dart throwing will eventually wear out the board is like forbidding walking in shoes because they will eventually get worn out. We also find that it is permitted to make a hole in a piece of paper (Mishna Berura 323:20), with the possible exception of when the hole is made in a place that communicates information (see Magen Avraham 323:5).
In all, you can play darts; you might want, as a chumra, to avoid storing the darts on the board.
Changes in Tefilla for those Visiting Israel?I hope to visit Israel this summer. Should I say “morid hatal” in Shemoneh Esrei like Israelis, and should I continue to say Baruch Hashem L’olam (=BHLO) at Ma’ariv?
First, realize that neither of these differences has to do with being in Eretz Yisrael per se (in contrast to the different practices of asking for rain between 7 Marcheshvan and Dec. 4). Rather, in both matters to which you refer, there is a machloket which applies throughout the world, just that practical halacha has developed that for many Ashkenazim, their natural community rules one way in Eretz Yisrael and another way abroad.
Let us review the basic rules of competing allegiance between our personal familial minhagim, our communal ones, and our regard for the place we presently are in. Generally and conceptually, communal minhagim takes precedence over personal minhagim when one is set in a community, even if he was not raised there (see Pesachim 51a; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 214:2; Living the Halachic Process I, H-12). Therefore, if you moved to Israel permanently (generally, very recommended), you would begin saying morid hatal in the summer and not recite BHLO at Ma’ariv. However, as a visitor, your basic halacha is to continue your practices.
An exception to the rule is based on the important halacha not to publicly do things that contradict the local minhag because of the conflict this could cause. This includes not being more lenient and, when possible, not being noticeably stricter than the locals are (Pesachim 51b-52a).
Saying or not saying morid hatal is certainly not noticeable. The poskim do not view even the longer BHLO as obtrusive if said quietly for travelers in either direction (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim II:102), and therefore you should continue silently as regular.
As chazan, though, one must conform to the local practice to avoid machloket. This is no real concern regarding morid hatal. The gemara (Ta’anit 3a) says that mentioning tal (dew) in tefilla is only optional because it is always present in Eretz Yisrael. Skipping BHLO is also not a problem because it is only a non-unanimous, post-Talmudic institution, based on the idea that the 18 p’sukim recited can represent the Shemoneh Esrei, which not always was done at Ma’ariv in shul because people were afraid of going home late (Tur, OC 236).
The only dilemma is whether it is permitted for a traveler/chazan from Israel to recite it abroad, as he is adding a beracha that his minhag does not recognize. However, there is halachic precedent for a chazan doing this type of thing. The gemara (Pesachim 106a) tells of Rav Ashi being asked as a visitor in Mechoza to make Kiddush on Shabbat morning in a way that sounded like they wanted him to include the beracha of Mekadesh HaShabbat. While he had misunderstood, the gemara implies he was willing to conform to the perceived local practice. The Chida (Chayim Sha’al I:99) rules based on this that a Sephardi who is chazan at an Ashkenazi minyan on Rosh Chodesh may recite the beracha on Hallel, against his regular minhag. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechaveh Da’at IV:31) disagrees, but to a great extent because of the word v’tzivanu (He commanded us), which is not used in BHLO. The consensus is that an Israeli may recite BHLO as a chazan abroad if necessary (Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:88; B’tzel Hachochma IV:25). However, it is likely worthwhile to avoid being chazan if not necessary (ibid.).
In your case, though, it is fine to be chazan for no particular need because BHLO may be skipped for a simple need, such as if it will cause you to start Shemoneh Esrei after the tzibbur (Mishna Berura 236:11). You would not be required to make it up after Shemoneh Esrei, although you could do so if you leave out the beracha at the end (ibid.). As an individual as well, you should not recite it if it will cause you to start Shemoneh Esrei after the tzibbur. If you turn out to be a few seconds late, that is fine (B’tzel Hachochma IV:3), and you can answer Y’hei Shmei Rabba and the amen to Kaddish in the middle of BHLO (ibid. 27).
Homeopathic Remedies on ShabbatIs it permitted to ingest homeopathic remedies on Shabbat?
We start with our approach to “alternative medicine,” which includes homeopathy (some use the terms interchangeably). Alternative medicine is subject to disagreement, from the grass roots to health agencies. As in most realms, extreme opinions are likely incorrect. Some treatments under the umbrella of alternative medicine are helpful; others are quackery and serve as a placebo at best (although sometimes placebos are useful). The efficacy or even safety of some medicines and treatments (homeopathic or conventional) is uncertain or varies from person to person. We are not in the position to take a stand on which treatments fall into which category. For the purpose of this general question, we will treat the remedy in question as one to which the user legitimately attributes medicinal efficacy and about which the objective observer is rightly skeptical.
It is prohibited to perform medical procedures, including ingesting medicine, to cure or calm a non-severe malady (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 328:37). The rationale is concern that one who is involved in such activity might violate Shabbat in the process, i.e., by grinding herbs (Shabbat 53b). The cases in which the prohibition does not apply fall into two broad categories: 1. When the need justifies certain halachic compromises (see Shulchan Aruch ibid. 17). Nafal l’mishkav (needing to lie down) is a classic description of such need (Rama, OC 328:37). 2. When the procedure is not considered dealing with illness or is otherwise dissimilar from cases in which there is a concern of chillul Shabbat.
In category #1, since normal Halacha is compromised, the steps taken must be truly warranted. Therefore, the Magen Avraham (328:1) allows chillul Shabbat to save a life only if the medicine is known (not theorized) to be effective (based on the Rama, Yoreh Deah 155:3 regarding eating non-kosher medicine). Therefore, even if someone is sick or suffering enough to allow medicine, he should not be allowed to use a homeopathic medicine if that is not scientifically accepted (as Halacha grants medical experts authority to determine the medical situation in a given case (Shulchan Aruch, OC 328:10)).
However, our case is different from the Magen Avraham’s in a couple of ways. On the one hand, there the need is to save a life, which brought the Pri Megadim (ad loc.) to ask why one may not try even an otherwise forbidden treatment of unknown efficacy if it is the only chance at survival. On the other hand, the violations to be waived are of a Torah level, whereas here we only need to waive a Rabbinic violation, so might even an unproven remedy not suffice? Actually, the Pri Megadim says that is specifically by a Rabbinic prohibition and not life-threatening illness that we need a proven medicine.
Might one argue that if the medicine is legitimate, it should be permitted based on need, and if it is not, it should be permitted because it is a non-medicine? Halachic logic dictates that it is not the status of medicine that causes the prohibition but that a sick person is searching for a cure that is close enough to cases of possible chillul Shabbat. In that way, homeopathic medicine is no better than conventional medicine.
Therefore, we believe that most homeopathic (see Shevet Halevi V:55) and other unproven treatments are forbidden on Shabbat (we will not get into defining what activities might be outside the realm of medicine and therefore permitted – see Mishna Berura 306:36). If one wants to use them for nagging situations that are not nafal l’mishkav, standard medicines are also problematic. Usually little is lost if one takes doses right before and after Shabbat. Presumably, one can use the leniency of inserting the medicine into a food or drink so that it is indiscernible before Shabbat and then eating on Shabbat (see Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 21; Orchot Shabbat 20:131). In unique cases, one who perceives great need and no alternatives should contact his rabbi and/or doctor.
The Transition From Shabbat Into Tisha B’AvCould you please explain how to handle the transition from Shabbat into Tisha B’Av (when it falls on Motzaei Shabbat) regarding se’uda shlishit, Havdala, and changing clothes?
Se’uda shlishit: The baraita, quoted in Ta’anit 29a says that one may eat as extravagant a meal as he wants on Shabbat even if Tisha B’Av falls on that day or the next. The Tur (Orach Chayim 552) cites customs that one is allowed and would do best to curtail the Shabbat meal. This is especially so at se’uda shlishit, which is, in effect, the se’uda hamafseket. However, these considerations are countered by the need to avoid displaying mourning on Shabbat. Therefore, there are no real restrictions, even at se’uda shlishit (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 552:10). However, the mood should somewhat reflect the coming of Tisha B’Av, as long as it does not bring on clearly noticeable changes (Mishna Berura 552:23). One important halachic requirement is that one must finish eating before sunset (Rama ad loc.).
Havdala: One says Havdala in Shemoneh Esrei. Havdala over a cup of wine is done after Tisha B’Av (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 556:1). Despite these facts, if one forgot to mention Havdala in Shemoneh Esrei, he does not repeat Shemoneh Esrei. Rather, the declaration of HaMavdil, which enables one to do actions that are forbidden on Shabbat, suffices (Mishna Berura 556:2). Unlike Havdala during the Nine Days, where we try to give the wine to a child rather than an adult (Rama, Orach Chayim 551:10), after Tisha B’Av, an adult can freely drink the Havdala wine (Mishna Berura 556:3). The beracha on besamim is not recited this week because it is always recited only on Motzaei Shabbat, and on Tisha B’Av it is not appropriate because it is supposed to serve as a pleasure that revives the soul.
The beracha on the fire is specific to Motzaei Shabbat, is not a pleasure, and does not require a cup. Therefore, the minhag is to recite it in shul toward the end of davening, before the reading of Eicha (Mishna Berura 556:1). There are those who say that a woman should, in general, avoid making Havdala. This is because of the doubt whether a woman is obligated in the beracha on the fire, which is not directly related to Shabbat and thus is a regular time-related mitzva, from which women are exempt (Bi’ur Halacha 296:8). Therefore, if one’s wife will not be in shul at the time of the beracha, it is better for the husband not to fulfill the mitzva at that time, but to make the beracha on the fire at a time that his wife can hear it (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 62:(98)).
Taking off shoes: As we mentioned, one may not do a noticeable act of mourning before Shabbat is over. While finishing to eat before sunset or refraining from washing need not be noticeable, taking off shoes is. There are two minhagim as to when to take them off: 1) One waits until after Shabbat is out, says HaMavdil, and then changes clothes and goes to shul. One can do so a little earlier than the regular time listed for Shabbat being out, which is usually delayed a little bit beyond nightfall to allow for a significant adding on to Shabbat at its end. The exact time is not clear and depends on the latitude of one’s location. It is advisable to start Ma’ariv a little late in order to allow those who take this approach to make it to shul (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 62:40; Torat HaMo’adim 9:1). (If the rabbi has ruled that everyone should take the following approach, all should conform, and there is no need for such a delay). 2) One takes off his shoes after Barchu of Ma’ariv. One who takes the second approach should bring non-leather footwear and Eicha/Kinot books to shul before Shabbat to avoid the problem of hachana (preparations for after Shabbat). However, if one uses these sefarim somewhat in shul before Shabbat is out, he can bring them with him on Shabbat (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata ibid. 41).
Learning in a CemeteryI work in a cemetery on upkeep in the area of the graves. May I listen to Torah shiurim with earphones on site?
The gemara (Berachot 18a) forbids “holding a sefer Torah and reading it, wearing tefillin on his head,” wearing tzitzit in an obvious manner, davening, and reciting Kri’at Shema in a cemetery/close to the deceased, due to the concept of lo’eg larash (literally, mocking the pauper). Chazal applied “One who mocks the pauper blasphemes his Maker” (Mishlei 17:5) to one who performs actions (especially mitzvot) in front of the deceased in a way that “reminds” them that they are now incapable of doing such special activities. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 367:3) forbids speaking words of Torah there even if not from a sefer, and there is a question whether holding a sefer Torah without reading from it is forbidden (Pitchei Teshuva ad loc. 2). The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 23) infers from the gemara’s language of tefillin on the head that tefillin shel yad are not a problem because they are not visible. He rules, therefore, that covering tefillin shel rosh (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 45:1) and tzitzit (ibid. 23:1) is sufficient.
How should we view listening to recorded Torah with earphones? In certain contexts, limud Torah refers to that which is spoken. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 47:4) rules that one does not need a birkat haTorah before learning Torah in his head, and this apparently includes reading with his eyes only from a sefer (Taz ad loc. 3; Mor U’ketzia, OC 47 may disagree). The Gra (ad loc.) disagrees because contemplating Torah is included in the mitzva. In that context, the Shaarei Teshuva (47:2) reasons that listening to divrei Torah is like speaking them; it is unclear if that applies to listening to a recording rather than a person (see Halichot Shlomo 6:5).
However, it is likely that what defines limud Torah in our context is different. It is apparently assumed that one may not read Torah with his eyes from a sefer in a cemetery because it is clear what he is doing. Presumably all would forbid one to listen to a shiur without earphones. In the other direction, we have seen that full-fledged mitzvot such as wearing tefillin may be done when the mitzva is concealed.
How noticeable must something be to be forbidden? Reciting Kri’at Shema and tefilla are forbidden even though they need not be audible or from a book (Shulchan Aruch, OC 62:4). Is that because it is usually discernable, or because it is active, which may make it worse than just leaving covered tefillin or tzitzit on? If so, is listening (and/or putting on the recording) to a shiur active, or do we view it as coming from an outside source to a passive listener?
Some sources may indicate that a mitzva can be forbidden even if not seen, if there is a visible sign that it is taking place. The Taz (OC 45:2, accepted by Mishna Berura 45:3) says that one needs to cover not only the tefillin shel yad but also the retzuot on the finger. Presumably it is not because of the retzua on the finger itself (which is not a full-fledged mitzva), but because it is a sign that he is wearing tefillin on his forearm. Similarly, the Shiltei Gibborim (45:1) says that one may not carry a sefer Torah in a cemetery even if it is fully covered because people realize what the bulge is. Would we say, then, that someone who sees you with the earphone will figure out you are listening to a shiur? Is it enough that you might be using it for something else? Would we follow what one would guess about you or about most people?
We have been unable to conclude that your situation is discernable enough to be forbidden. We add in the leniency of the Netziv (Ha’amek She’ala 14:6) that since in our days, bodies are buried deeper than ten tefachim, lo’eg larash does not apply. So we will not rule to deprive you of the opportunity of limud Torah. You should seek your employers’ agreement, to ensure you are not guilty of lowering the quality of your work or upsetting others around you. Also, try to conceal what you are doing as best as you can.
How Many Challot to Take Home?My neighbor works in a bakery, and when they have a lot of unsold challot, he often takes home dozens of them and encourages people at Maariv of Shabbat to come take as many as possible. I took what I thought I might use but not what I knew would go straight into the freezer because I thought it was hachana (preparation for after Shabbat). Is that correct?
Your reaction is understandable. After all, even taking something from one place to another can be hachana, as we see from the halacha not to bring wine on the first day of Yom Tov for Kiddush of the second day (Magen Avraham 667:3). The fact that the extra challa will be used for another Shabbat does not help because one may not prepare on one Shabbat for the needs of another one (Tehilla L’Dovid 302:6; see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 334:4).
However, there are several possible ways to justify leniency regarding the difficult to define prohibition of hachana. The Maharshag (OC 61) has a broad leniency that hachana does not apply when there is not a viable way of doing the same thing after Shabbat, which might apply here. However, there are many problems with this thesis, if taken broadly (see Kinyan Torah II:115).
In certain contexts, when an action is needed for Shabbat for a certain amount of objects, hachana does not forbid doing it to additional objects. One example is that one may wash multiple dishes even if he only needs one of them, because any one of them could be the one he decides to use (Mishna Berura 323:26). It is likely that similarly, you can bring home multiple challot, since any one of them can be the one you decide to use (there may be an indication of this in Orach Chayim 323:1).
There are other grounds for leniency, based on need. Apparently, your neighbor’s idea is to give out all the challot as soon as possible. If he is successful, then if you do not take them on Shabbat, you will lose your opportunity. Does that matter? One is allowed to move a non-muktzeh object from place to place in order to prevent it from being harmed (Shabbat 123b), and poskim explain that an action done to prevent loss is not defined as hachana (see Orchot Shabbat 22:176). It is not obvious that this applies here to your lost opportunity if the challot are not in danger but will just go to someone else. Also, you are not losing property, just not obtaining more, and in Halacha, not receiving profit often lacks the halachic weight of losing something one already has (see Magen Avraham 533:6 regarding Chol Hamo’ed).
However, in this context, it appears that the lost opportunity to receive something for free is enough to waive hachana. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 266:13) says that one may not pick up a wallet that he found in public on Shabbat, but the reason for that is muktzeh, and one may move it where he likes by kicking it (Be’ur Halacha ad loc.) In order to explain why this would not be forbidden due to hachana, we must apparently have to assume that it is due to the loss together with the fact that moving an object is not a serious action requiring toil (see analysis of Machzeh Eliyahu 58). In our case, the situation is in some ways more lenient than there, in that here it is not clear to the observer that the challot will not be eaten (see Chayei Adam II:153:6).
In the case that your neighbors will not take all of the challot, there is a different type of damaging situation that justifies action. That is that the challa may need to be discarded, which is a situation we try to avoid (see Living the Halachic Process VI, G-9). Alternatively, the well-intentioned bakery worker may have the inconvenience of having a bothersome amount of challa in his house, making helping him of immediate value.
While it is permitted to acquire food presents one might eat on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 306:15), it is a problem if he is planning not to eat it. Therefore, if there are loaves that you are confident you will not eat, you should have in mind not to acquire them until after Shabbat (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 29:29).
When to Top the Bagel?At a brit, I said Hamotzi on a bagel, and after taking a bite, put on cream cheese and lox. A friend corrected me, claiming that Halacha requires that the first bite, which connects to the beracha, should be done when it is in its optimal form, so that after the beracha, one should cut open the bagel, put on the toppings, and then eat. Could that be?
We attribute great religious significance to berachot (see Bava Kama 30a), and therefore try to do things the best way, even though almost no “mistake” here would be a real problem. The competing values involved here make it necessary to appraise net gains and losses. Your system (not putting toppings until after eating) maximizes two values: 1. Making Hamotzi on a complete “loaf” (Berachot 39b; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 167:1). 2. Minimizing any break between the beracha and the eating (Shulchan Aruch ibid.). Your friend’s system prioritizes #1 and: 3. The bread should be in an optimal form when taking the first bite (ibid. 5). Let us look at each rule and the interaction between them.
When one chooses on what bread to make a beracha, its being “whole” is one of the most important factors (Shulchan Aruch, OC 168:1). Prioritizing this versus minimizing the break between the beracha and eating may be a machloket of Amoraim. Rabbi Chiya (Berachot 39a) says that one should break off from the loaf the piece of bread he will eat as he finishes the beracha to minimize the time lapse (Tzelach ad loc.), even though the beracha does not finish with a whole loaf. We pasken like Rava (ibid.), who instructs keeping it whole until the beracha is complete even though this requires a small break to sever the piece after the beracha. It is a worthwhile delay to put some salt or spread on the bread before eating (Shulchan Aruch, OC 167:5). If the bread is of low quality or seasoning, one should put on salt; if it is of a high level, this is unnecessary, but it is permitted (Mishna Berura 167:29) despite the short, food-related break.
This does not mean that we do not care about such breaks between the beracha and eating. Actually, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 1) instructs to cut the loaf partially before the beracha to save the extra time (I estimate 3-4 seconds) to cut the loaf to that point (Mishna Berura 167:4). In order to not lose the wholeness, semi-cut sections must be such that if one lifts the bread from the smaller part, the weight of the heavier part will not cause it to sever. This still somewhat compromises the completeness of the unit, as we see that on Shabbat, where the wholeness is a requirement of lechem mishneh, we do not cut to that extent (Rama, OC 167:1). Still this time-saving technique is deemed worthwhile. While these few seconds would not invalidate the beracha, it is best to avoid them.
While we have seen that improving the taste of the bread can justify a break, your friend expanded the rule in two ways: 1. By not sufficing with a little salt or sauce but adding all the bagel’s toppings you are planning to eat during the meal. 2. By extending the 3-4 second break to add salt to 20-30 seconds for cutting and spreading cream cheese and lox all over the bagel. I have not found a source nor see compelling logic to make these extensions at the expense of waiting. The Mishna Berura (167:27, 29) also implies not to allow such a break, as he mentions allowing a longer break only between netilat yadayim and the beracha. We thus reject your friend’s approach and see yours as the straightforward one.
One benefit that your friend’s approach offers relates to the preference to eat a reasonable amount of bread soon after the beracha (Mishna Berura 167:15). Some people initially have a tiny piece of bagel and then go to get lox and perhaps strike up a conversation before eating “for real.” But in this case, the solution with the benefits and no serious drawbacks is to top your bagel with it cut partially (see above) before the beracha. Then, the beracha is on a whole bagel, at its tastiest, and there is no break. But your way is fine too.
Birkat Kohanim by Non-KohanimIs it clear that a non-kohen (=zar) may bless his children or others with the blessings of Birkat Kohanim (=BK)?
This is a good question, conceptually. Concerning practice, we do not reject broadly followed minhagim, certainly when practiced by righteous and knowledgeable people. However, it is fine to inquire about the justification.
First, let us see the basis for your question. The gemara (Ketubot 24b), in discussing whether the fact one does nesiat kapayim (BK) is proof that he is a kohen, posits that an issur aseh (prohibition derived from a positive statement) precludes a non-kohen from doing BK. Rashi learns this from, “So shall you bless Bnei Yisrael” (Bamidbar 6:23) – “you (kohanim) and not zarim.” On the other hand, a gemara (Shabbat 118b) tells of R. Yossi who said that even though he was not a kohen, he would listen to his friends if they told him to go up with the kohanim. Tosafot (ad loc.) comments that a zar does not seem prohibited to do BK, except for the matter of an unwarranted beracha.
The Rama/Darchei Moshe (Orach Chayim 128:1) suggests the following reconciliation between the sources. A zar may not do BK without kohanim but is permitted to join them. This approach is not widely accepted (Mishna Berura 128:6).
Acharonim (including Be’ur Halacha to 128:1) ask how may a zar bless his children or friends with the same words of BK, as you asked. We will survey the major answers given.
The Magen Avraham (128:1) and Taz (128:2) suggest another way to understand the derasha excluding non-kohanim – it is not that a zar may not give these blessings, but that he is not required to do so (the matter depends on two opinions in Ketubot 24b). The Pnei Yehoshua (Ketubot 24b) posits that a zar is forbidden to do BK only in the Beit Hamikdash. There are significant questions on this approach (see Keren L’David, OC 24)
Most of the answers recognize the potential of a problem but limit it. The Bach (OC 128) posits that BK is forbidden for a zar only if he raises his hands during it, as kohanim must do to fulfill BK (Sota 38a based on Vayikra 9:22). Otherwise, the zar is not acting like the kohen is supposed to. Is it then okay to bless our children with our hands extended to their heads? The Torah Temima (Bamidbar 6:131) relates that the Gra would only put one hand on the recipient of the beracha so as not to violate the prohibition for the zar, which is with two hands. Rav Yaakov Emden (Siddur Beit Yaakov, p. 153a) says that there is nothing wrong with using two hands. It is unclear if extending hands to the head of the recipient, which was done generally for blessing people (see Bereishit 48:14; Bamidbar 27:23), counts as nesiat kapayim (see Beit Baruch 32:8).
Some say (see Dirshu 128:10) that since Birkat Kohanim is supposed to be done as part of tefilla (Sota 38b), there is no prohibition if zarim do it in a different context. The Be’ur Halacha (ibid.) does not believe that this helps. Since the prohibition for the zar is from the Torah and the requirement of tefilla for BK is only Rabbinic, the prohibition must exist independent of tefilla.
The Magen Gibborim (Shiltei Gibborim 128:2) says that a zar violates this prohibition only if he intends to do so as a fulfillment of the mitzva of BK, not if he does it because these are nice blessings to bestow on a child or friend. (This is more likely if one needs intent to fulfill a mitzva (Ktav Sofer, OC 14; Be’ur Halacha ibid.)). As long as the one blessing does not make a beracha prior to reciting the p’sukim of BK, it should be quite clear that he is doing it independent of the mitzva of BK, just wishing well to someone he cares about (Kaf Hachayim, OC 128:14).
One might want to be machmir and use one hand for blessing his child (there may be kabbalistic preferences one way or the other – beyond our scope) or have in mind explicitly that he is not doing it as a mitzva of BK. However, I plan to use two hands, like most fathers and as I have always received and given, and feel that my intention is clear enough.
The Logic Behind Marit AyinI don’t see consistency in how marit ayin is applied. There are cases that are forbidden where the likelihood of mistake seems remote, while cases I view as more problematic are permitted. Can you explain why that is?
We will attempt a partial overview of the concept marit ayin, focusing on elements that help understand the phenomenon that troubles you.
The laws of marit [ha]ayin forbid “Reuven” from doing otherwise permitted action A when people may think he did the similar B, when B is forbidden. Marit ayin is based on two concerns: 1. People who know B is forbidden may suspect that Reuven sinned. One must avoid chashad (people believing he sinned), as the Torah says: “You shall be “clean” [in the eyes] of Hashem and Israel” (Bamidbar 32:22, as understood by mishna, Shekalim 3:2). 2. People will think that if Reuven did B, it must be permitted. Rashi in some places (including Keritut 21b) cites #1 as the reason and in others (including Avoda Zara 12a) cites #2.
Rashi’s dichotomy is among the indications that the two reasons complement each other. In some cases, Chazal may have felt that one of the reasons did not apply but the other did. For example, people do not often suspect a large group of people of openly sinning (see Rosh Hashana 24b). Regarding a marit ayin prohibition on something that looks like bowing down to an idol (Avoda Zara 12a), it is unlikely someone would think it is permitted to do so.
So when should we say marit ayin? If one thinks it is very likely his actions will be misunderstood, creating violations or chashad, he should refrain from the action. However, what if there is only a modest chance? For such cases, we look to Chazal and poskim for guidance. Chazal forbade a few dozen cases due to marit ayin. Subsequently, it remains forbidden even when in a particular case the chance of mistake and/or chashad is small (e.g., one lives in a very religious, knowledgeable, and trusting community). If the whole basis for the prohibition disappears, we generally suspend the prohibition. For example, the gemara (Avoda Zara 20b) says that one must not rent out his bathhouse to a non-Jew to operate on Shabbat because usually a bathhouse’s workers were wage-earning employees (forbidden on Shabbat). However, in a society in which they are commonly profit-sharers, it is permitted (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 243:2). A minority of poskim equate marit ayin more closely to other Rabbinic prohibitions in regard to the prohibition continuing after the reason no longer applies (Pleiti 12:2).
There is a fundamental machloket, crucial to your question, as to whether post-Talmudic poskim can create a marit ayin prohibition in the type of case in which Chazal likely would have. The Kneset Hagedola forbids using matza meal to coat food because it looks like it is made with flour (he knew of a case of incorrect “copying”). The Pri Chadash (OC 461:2) argues that we cannot make our own Rabbinical prohibitions (and that isolated mistakes cannot be avoided).
We do find some post-Talmudic marit ayin prohibitions, but many of them follow a common construct. The gemara (Kritut 21b) forbids eating collected fish “blood” because it resembles forbidden (animal) blood. The Rashba (III:257) extends this concept (as opposed to creating a new marit ayin prohibition) to not combining mother’s milk with meat. Poskim extend the idea of confusing types of food to not putting “almond milk” into meat (see Rama YD 87:3 and Shach ad loc. 6 about whether it applies to poultry, which is only “Rabbinic meat”). Regarding these extensions of a Talmudic marit ayin prohibition, we care about what is and is not confusing in our times/places. Therefore, Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer VI, YD 8) says that synthetic milk is common enough for it not to be suspicious to serve it with coffee after a meat meal; we do the same with pareve ice cream.
In summary, the main reason marit ayin is not always applied according to our logic is because we usually do so by comparison to Talmudic precedents and not just contemporary society.
Throwing Out LeftoversIt pains me to throw out leftovers. Often, after a few days, it is clear that no one will eat any more (although they are still edible), and my family wants me to throw them out. We asked a rabbi, who told us to put them in a bag
First we will discuss bal tashchit, the prohibition to destroy things that should be used. The classical formulation (Rambam, Melachim 6:10) is of a destructive action, but cases of wasting a usable resource, e.g., throwing out a salvageable cup of wine (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 170:22) are included. But the halacha, even regarding the most severe case of bal tashchit, cutting down fruit trees, is very balanced and practical – certain things are just not worthwhile to keep (see Bava Kama 91b; Living the Halachic Process VI, G-13).
It is inappropriate and arguably forbidden to make ridiculous amounts of food and throw out the leftovers at meal’s end. However, making a little extra on purpose (appropriate for a mother or hostess) and sometimes having more leftovers than expected so that you do not succeed in finishing it, is not wasteful or forbidden. (Feeling compelled to finish to the point of eating unhealthily is certainly misguided.) Norms in society or segments therein and circumstances likely impact on what is considered illegitimately wasteful. Therefore while some view it is bal tashchit for a caterer to throw out large amounts of food at the end of an affair (Shevet Halevi IV:225), we agree with the approach that when there is no reasonably easy alternative (we encourage positive planning), it is not forbidden (Etz Hasadeh 35:(14) in the name of Rav Elyashiv).
It is standard practice to protect “foods” with kedusha before placing them in a garbage. Examples include: teruma (see Derech Emunah, Terumot 2:(399)); hafrashat challa (see Minchat Yitzchak IV:13; kedushat shvi’it (see Yalkut Yosef, Shvi’it 15:13). Regular foods do not have “kedusha.” K’zayit-sized pieces of bread do not have kedusha per se, but their “higher status” makes it forbidden to “disgrace it” even if it does not cause “damage,” which does not apply to other foods (Berachot 50b).
Some claim that throwing food in the garbage is doing something active to make it unfit to eat, and therefore one should not do so even if he will clearly anyway not be eating it or giving to another. In some ways, it is more stringent than teruma or challa, where we have an interest in prompt disposal to prevent someone from mistakenly eating it. Here it is possible to wait for it to deteriorate until it is inedible. (Indeed, Mishneh Halachot 15:64 says that putting food in a bag is not enough because the bag will not hold up in the garbage truck.) But this is not the minhag.
Etz Hasadeh (35:(13)) cites a few contemporary poskim who require or recommend putting the food in a bag before throwing it into the garbage. But this too would be a new stringent practice, representing a big jump from arrangements to avoid marginal bizuy, which in the past were reserved for holy objects. It is best if we can provide logic and precedent to support the very broad minhag to throw leftovers directly into a garbage. The main idea is that normal practices of civilized people are not a disgrace. For example, while it is a disgrace to rub food on the skin instead of eating it, when it is normal (e.g., olive oil), it is permitted (Be’ur Halacha to 171:1). It is not that the need overcomes the problem, but that the fact that it is normal precludes its being disgraceful (ibid.). Also, we do put bags in our kitchen garbages, and the contents are mainly leftover food and used disposables, which are removed before decomposing occurs. Therefore, when there are not unseemly things inside, it is quite redundant (and a waste of non-biodegradable bags) to put each set of leftovers in a separate bag.
You, however, received a p’sak with a basis (even though we view it as overly machmir), and you are bound by it (Rama, Yoreh Deah 242:31).
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