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Birkat Kohanim for a Kohen who is in Shemoneh EsreiA kohen often comes to my minyan and even if he is early, he says Shemoneh Esrei together with the chazan and does not perform the mitzva of Birkat Kohanim (=BK). I understand that he is allowed to break his prayers to do BK and then to return to his place. He claims that what he does is fine according to a different opinion. Who is correct?
The question of BK during Shemoneh Esrei is a complex one that can depend on several factors. The mishna (Berachot 34a) states that a chazan should do BK if he is the only kohen there and he is confident that he can return to complete chazarat hashatz without confusion. The implication, as the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 128:20) rules, is that if there were another kohen available, the chazan would not recite BK. The Radbaz (IV:293) reasons that the same thing should be so for one in the middle of his personal Shemoneh Esrei – if and only if he is the only kohen should he go up. The Magen Avraham (128:40) accepts the Radbaz, and this is the first opinion cited in the Mishna Berura 128:106).
However, many disagree with this Radbaz and Magen Avraham. The Rav Pealim (III, OC 4) points out that in the mishna’s case, the chazan is up to the point of Shemoneh Esrei in which BK is recited. If he is anywhere else in Shemoneh Esrei, we can say that BK is a hefsek (improper break). Indeed, a second opinion in the Mishna Berura makes this distinction, ruling that only if the kohen is up to the correct place for BK does he recite it, and this is the opinion that seems prevalent today (see Tefilla K’hilchata 14:35; Yalkut Yosef, Birkat Kohanim 21).
Your question implies that since the kohen says Shemoneh Esrei “along with the chazan” (a system that has certain advantages for some somewhat slow daveners – beyond our scope) he would be up to the right place. Then, almost all agree that he should do BK when he is the only kohen. If so, we do not know why he is reluctant to do this. However, there are two factors that impact whether he is required to do so.
First, one whose tefilla will be confused by doing BK (see aforementioned mishna, Berachot 34a), does not recite BK (Sha’ar Hatziyun 128:83). (Admittedly, it is hard to know what qualifies as being confused). Yalkut Yosef (ibid.) does cite an opinion that confusion applies only to a chazan, as everyone will be waiting for him to resume tefilla, and not to an individual. However, the Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 128:40) is among the more accepted opinions that confusion plays a role here as well.
Another factor is that the obligation to do BK has to be activated in a timely fashion. One violates his obligation for BK only if he has been called to do so, based on the pasuk in this context “amor lahem” – say to them (see Beit Yosef, OC 128). There is another halacha that a kohen can do BK only if he stepped toward the duchan during the beracha of R’tzei (Sota 38b). So if this kohen failed to move forward at least a little bit at that time (he may do so during Shemoneh Esrei, but the kohen in question presumably does not), he is disqualified. Realize that usually a kohen is not called until right before BK (if he is the only kohen, he will not be called at all – Shulchan Aruch ibid. 10.). So for those who did not step forward, it will be too late to obligate them. It is strange, then, that some poskim, including the Radbaz (ibid.) discuss a Torah obligation of BK superseding the Rabbinic mitzva of Shemoneh Esrei even before he is called (Halachot Ketanot I:64 points out this difficulty). It is difficult to say that the kohen violates his obligation if he does not prepare himself for BK on time. In theory, someone could force the issue by telling your kohen earlier in chazarat hashatz to prepare himself (based on Magen Avraham 128:40). However, we do not think that this is appropriate behavior.
So, one might encourage the kohen to find the best way to make BK possible (see Living the Halachic Process vol. IV, A-16). However, we do not think he should be shamed into doing so when he might have a reason not to.
Receiving Video of Personal Event on ShabbatAt my son’s recent Shabbat bar mitzva, a non-Jew who is close to him came to shul. It turns out he videoed some of the proceedings on his phone (if I had noticed, I would have asked him not to) and offered to send it to me, which, of course, would be nice. May I accept the offer?
Mazal tov!! This thought-provoking question touches on important points.
A Jew is not allowed to receive benefit from the melacha a non-Jew did on a Jew’s behalf on Shabbat (Shabbat 122a). If he did it on behalf of himself or other non-Jews, a Jew may benefit (ibid.). When benefit is forbidden, the prohibition lasts bichdei sheya’asu – until the time that the result would have been available if the work had been done after Shabbat ended (Beitza 24b). In your case, bichdei sheya’asu is forever, as if the non-Jew had not videoed on Shabbat, the moments of interest would have never been available. In this context and many others, the content of the electronic recording is equivalent to an “object” from which one could be forbidden to benefit in whatever form it is now found.
So our first question is: for whose benefit did this non-Jewish guest take the video? There are four possibilities: 1. He did it for himself, due to his feelings about your son, and only afterward thought of sharing it with you. 2. He did it for your family, possibly knowing you are unable to video yourselves. 3. He did it with both himself and you in mind. 4. As is now common, people video interesting things with no clear intent about what they will do with it. If #1 or #4 is the case, there is no prohibition to benefit. If #2, it is forbidden. If #3, a discussion is required.
A baraita (Shabbat 122a) states that if a non-Jew did work on behalf of a group of people, then if the majority is Jewish, Jews may not benefit from it, and if the majority is non-Jewish, benefit is permitted. If there is an even number of Jews and non-Jews, it is forbidden. Why is it forbidden in a tie? Rashi (ad loc.) says that it is considered a doubt for whom it is considered done, and we decide stringently in the case of this doubt. Another approach (see Mishna Berura 276:16) is that in the case of a tie, we consider him to have acted on behalf of both, and when one does it for both, it is forbidden. Indeed the Rama (OC 515:6) says that when we know something was done for both Jews and non-Jews, it is forbidden even if the majority was non-Jewish.
Thus, if we really knew that it was for both of you, it would seem to be forbidden (see Bi’ur Halacha to 276:2). On the other hand, when the non-Jew who does the melacha benefits himself, we assume that he mainly has in mind for himself (Shulchan Aruch, OC 276:2; see Shabbat 122b). Yet, the Magen Avraham says that if we know that he had in mind both for himself and others, it is forbidden. Not all agree with the Magen Avraham (the Mishna Berura 276:17 basically agrees; see Bi’ur Halacha ad loc.; see discussion in Orchot Shabbat 23:(97)).In theory, if you know or can ask the guest in a manner of meisiach l’fi tumo (he does not know his answer is of halachic importance to you) and you got the “right” answer, it could be permitted according to straight halacha to accept the video. However, we think that it would be a bad precedent to do so. As you intuited, had you known the guest was filming, you should have nicely informed him that it is inappropriate to do so in a shul or even at a private Jewish Shabbat activity. If people start seeing that involving non-Jews in their Shabbat events may bring “benefits,” a trend can develop. This can lead to not-in-the-spirit-of-Shabbat situations and to halachic abuses. For example, hinting to a non-Jew to film or addressing the camera is forbidden (analysis is beyond our scope), and few know these halachot well. We contend that in general we do not want our Shabbat moments on video. (In a shul, we anyway need the rabbi’s blessing.) Therefore, we urge to keep the precious Shabbat bar mitzva moments captured as they always have been - in the participants’ minds and hearts.
Preferring the Fruits of Eretz YisraelDo the fruit of Eretz Yisrael in our times have kedusha that would make it preferable to eat them over other foods?
Usually discussion of kedusha of the Land’s produce relates to land-based mitzvot. Without going into detail, we posit that most land-based mitzvot apply on a Rabbinic level rather than a Torah-level after the Beit Hamikdash’s destruction. However, the parameters regarding your question may be different.
Actually, Eretz Yisrael’s special qualities exist at all times, as we find in many statements of Chazal from the post-Temple period (see Ketubot 110-112). True, there were elements that were greater at the time of the Beit Hamikdash (see Sota 48a regarding the special taste of fruit) or will be greater when Mashiach comes (see Ketubot ibid.). The success of the fruit of the Land is also a harbinger of the advent of the era of Mashiach (Sanhedrin 98a). But even in destruction, Eretz Yisrael is wonderful, and one should feel a special love for everything connected to it (Ketubot 112a-b). Indeed, the great majority of poskim posit that the mitzva to live in Eretz Yisrael applies now (see Ramban, Mitzvat Aseh 4; Pitchei Teshuva, Even Haezer 75:6).
Does the Land’s innate kedusha create a preference to eat its fruit? The gemara (Sota 14a) wonders why Moshe so strongly desired to enter the Land. It dismisses the possibility that he was interested in eating its fruit and says that he wanted to fulfill the mitzvot of the Land. Based on this approach, there are Rishonim (see Tur, Orach Chayim 208) who say that we should not say, as part of the beracha acharona on fruit, “v’nochal mipirya” (we shall eat of its fruit), as this is unimportant. While the poskim do not come to a consensus on the matter (see Sha’ar Hatziyun 208:51), all our texts include the phrase. Yet the Beit Yosef explains the phrase’s relevance as follows. Since the beracha is thanking Hashem for food, focus on food is appropriate. He seems to agree that overall it is not particularly important. On the other hand, the Bach (ad loc.) argues that while for Moshe eating the fruit was not important, for us, when things are proper, the fruit of Eretz Yisrael connects us to a world of spirituality.
There are other indications of the fruit’s special status. The gemara (Berachot 44a) says (as the Rashba ad loc. and Shulchan Aruch, OC 208:10 understand) that if one eats fruits that grew in Eretz Yisrael, his beracha acharona includes “… v’al peiroteha” (on its fruit), instead of just say “v’al hapeirot” (on fruit). This stresses the significance of the fruit coming from the Land.
The seven species of produce for which Eretz Yisrael is praised have a high priority regarding what fruit to eat right after one’s beracha (Shulchan Aruch, OC 211:4). Logically, produce that is actually from Eretz Yisrael should have prominence in this regard, as V’zot Haberacha (p. 124) says in the name of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu. Others point out (see Mishpetei Uziel I, OC 24; Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:188) that there is not support for this outlook in classical sources. (One could explain that until recently, the fruit of bnei Eretz Yisrael was always from the Land and Jews living abroad did not have access to the fruit of Eretz Yisrael. Since few had a choice between them, the topic is not discussed.) In any case, we note that we do not find a preference to eat the seven species, just that, if we do, it has precedence for the beracha. In other words, prominence does not necessarily mean one should go out of his way to eat it.
We put things together as follows. There is no halachic obligation or clear preference to eat the fruit of Eretz Yisrael. However, since one is supposed to love the Land and matters connected to it (see above), wanting to connect to Hashem and His Land by eating its fruit is displaying and likely fostering a healthy outlook, which gives it added value. (To the extent that eating such fruit helps Israeli Jewish farmers and thereby helps strengthen our hold on the Land, this is valuable (see Gittin 8b).)
Alternative AfikomanIn some years, my kids have been aggressive about hiding the afikoman. They have hid it in places where it broke into several pieces. When I have not found it, they have “negotiated” its return for more than I think is proper. In such a case, can I just use a different piece of matza? And when it has been broken into pieces, is it better to use a new piece or to use the original?
The minhag of the afikoman being taken (some oppose the word “stolen”) is at least several hundreds of years old and might even be referred to by the Rambam (Chametz U’matza 7:3) or even the gemara (Pesachim 109a) (Chok Yaakov 472:2). It is meant to keep the children’s interest and usually does its job. Therefore, most of us put up with the little problems (some great rabbis did not allow the practice in their homes – see Dirshu 473:70).
It is certainly possible to fulfill the mitzva/minhag of afikoman with a matza other than the one broken during yachatz (Rama, Orach Chayim 477:2). Even the ostensibly arguing opinions (see Beit Yosef (OC 477)) seem to be talking about cases where only three matzot were baked with intent to be used for the mitzva of matza, whereas all of our shemura matza has been.
The question is when the afikoman is not lost but one has an interest in replacing it. The gemara (Shabbat 22a) says that one may remove tzitzit from one garment and place them on another obligated garment. However, we pasken (Shulchan Aruch, OC 15:1) that it is forbidden to remove them and not use them for another garment. The Taz (ad loc. 2) says this is bizuy (a disgrace) for the tallit and/or the tzitzit (depending on the case – see Pri Megadim ad loc.), which one is removing from their involvement in a mitzva. Likewise, if you take the matza that is the afikoman and replace it, this is ostensibly a problem.
However, this does not apply to our case because the afikoman has never been used for the mitzva. We hold that hazmana lav milta – the preparations one makes to use something as a mitzva do not give it the level of an object that was already used for the mitzva. The Beit Yosef (Yoreh Deah 259) cites the Mordechai that the concept that a shul’s candelabrum should not be switched to another purpose is so only if it has already been used. Has our afikoman already been used? It has been part of the act of yachatz and some even have, by the time the kids grab it, carried out the old minhag to carry it over their shoulder in remembering the matza taken out of Egypt (see Kolbo 50). However, the halachic part of the afikoman is to eat it, and for that, the matza has had merely been put aside. Therefore, bizuy mitzva does not apply.
One might also distinguish and say that here we are not actively replacing anything, just that we are taking out another matza to use. However, passing over (even without removing) one object to be used as a mitzva instead of another can also be a problem, which we call: ein ma’avirin al hamitzvot. While much of the discussion is about doing one mitzva before a different mitzva, it also applies to not passing over one place or object that is slated to be used for a given mitzva in place of another (Tosafot, Megilla 6b). However, that should only apply if the object is before us and we skip over it. In this case, the matza in question is in an unknown hiding place and, from your perspective, is not being passed over at all, but rather replaced in abstentia. (Note also that at most sedarim, the matza set aside for afikoman is only part of what will be eaten as afikoman).
Regarding the case where the matza gets broken into several pieces, this is not a halachic problem. When challa or matza needs to be whole at the time of a beracha, its being broken is a problem. However, since the afikoman is supposed to be a broken piece, it is not a problem that it is broken up further earlier than expected. While it is not clear it is forbidden (see discussion above) to remove it after opening it and seeing its state, it would seem preferable to keep the multi-piece matza than to replace it.
Keeping Foods Cooked in Chametzdik PotsSometimes I have foods that I cooked in chametzdik pots without any chametz ingredients that I fail to finish before Pesach. May I keep them in the corner of the freezer and mark them as chametzdik? (I try to not sell chametz, especially if it was already cooked.)
First we will deal with the question of whether it is really forbidden to eat such food on Pesach. Let us assume (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 122:7) that the pot was eino ben yomo (had not been used for 24 hours) from chametz use. For forbidden food, what comes out of such a pot gives off a negative taste (noten ta’am lifgam), and the food is permitted if done accidentally (ibid. 103:5). If one made pareve food in an eino ben yomo fleishig pot without an intention to eat with milchig food, he may eat leftovers with it (ibid. 95:2). There is a machloket whether noten ta’am lifgam of chametz is permitted on Pesach (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 447:10), or not (Rama ad loc.). The Rama is machmir only on Pesach. On Erev Pesach, despite the Torah-level prohibition to eat chametz, the regular rules of kashrut apply, and it is permitted.
Do the laws of kashrut change when Pesach starts and turn what was not considered chametz due to bitul (nullification) pre-Pesach into chametz based on Pesach standards (chozer v’neior)? This too is a machloket. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 4) prefers the lenient opinion, that those things that were batel remain batel. The Rama says that it depends on the type of bitul. If it is only in regard to knowledge (i.e., we do not know where the chametzdik food is), the food becomes forbidden when Pesach starts. If there is a physical mixture (i.e., it is mixed in in a way that the chametz does not give taste to the mixture), it remains permitted. The classic case of the latter is when there was 60 times more kosher vs. chametz that is mixed in. However, we cannot assume there is 60 times more non-chametz because the food in a pot will not be 60 times the volume of the pot. However, since noten ta’am lifgam allows for bitul with less than 60, the food cooked in an eino ben yomo chametzdik pot was batel before Pesach (Mishna Berura 247:21). Thus, such a pot would not make the food forbidden even to eat on Pesach.
We must, though, consider the high possibility that small amounts of chametz got into the food, whether in the ingredients, the pot’s surface, the work area, or storage containers. Assuming, as is also highly likely, we are discussing trace quantities of chametz, it was batel by 60 times. We then return to the above question of chozer v’neior, which is permitted, according to the main opinions, in such a mixture. (For this reason, many purchase (e.g., milk) and cook as much as possible before Pesach, so that trace quantities of chametz would be batel before Pesach and remain such.) Thus, on this point as well, it is probably permitted to eat the food (although our minhag is not to do things like that).
If one is not in the practice of eating such food, may he at least keep it around? There is no violation of bal yeiraeh (possession of chametz) when there is only taste of chametz or there are trace quantities that are batel by 60 (Mishna Berura 452:1). While according to some (including Tur, OC 442) it is permitted to leave in one’s possession any food that is permitted to eat on the level of Torah law, the more accepted approach is to not leave most (exceptions beyond our present scope) foods that are forbidden to be eaten even Rabbinically (ibid.). This, though, would not apply to foods that it is only a chumra not to eat. Even so, it is proper to remove them from the places (like the same freezer) where kosher-for-Pesach foods are being kept, lest one mistakenly eat them (ibid.).
If you put such food in a different place (e.g., a different freezer or a section of the freezer that is taped off), you are not required to sell it, but you do not lose anything by including it in your sale. Stringencies regarding sale of chametz apply to cases where you need to rely on the sale, not when it is extra.
Use of a Heter Iska when Lending Money to One’s CompanyI am a general partner (having special authority and responsibility) in an LLC (Limited Liability Company) with only Jewish partners. In order to facilitate a real estate purchase, some of us lent money to the company (we have the authority to do so at market rate interest or invest for equity) without a heter iska. Does one need a heter iska to lend money to an LLC, and if yes, can we do one now?
Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah II, 63) posits that the prohibition on ribbit applies only when there is a full-fledged borrower, one who has a personal obligation to pay, beyond having a lien on his assets. In an LLC (as well as a corporation), no individual has a personal obligation to pay; only an amorphous financial entity has to pay, with its assets seized if necessary. While a Jewish-owned LLC may not take interest from Jews, he rules that Jews can take interest from the company.
Not all poskim accept Rav Moshe’s logical but novel leniency, but many agree on the level of Torah law, and it is seen as a legitimate opinion one can choose to rely upon it (see Torat Ribbit 17:52-54; Laws of Ribbis, p. 105). It is generally recommended (see ibid.) to use a heter iska when lending money to a Jewish-owned corporation (Israeli banks have heter iskas). This makes the return on the money given linked to an investment (in which the money is not guaranteed but, fundamentally, based on the recipient’s success).
Yet, you face challenges in implementing a heter iska. First, the fact that you did not have one at the time of the loan was a problem; your money is now a loan, not an investment, so the return you seek is ribbit. You can redo the process and turn the money into an iska investment. The best thing is for the money to be returned and then given again with a heter iska (Laws of Ribbis, p. 404). The partner-lenders and the company can also do a kinyan sudar to transfer assets to the lenders in lieu of payment and then give them back to the company as an iska (ibid.; Torat Ribbit 16:28-29; Brit Yehuda 40:23).
The second problem is that it does not fix things retroactively. Therefore, you cannot take interest due before this process, which might be a lot of money. Some poskim allow raising the rate of return in the heter iska, which is somewhat flexible (Netivot Shalom, Kuntrus Heter Iska 25), but only when it is not clear that it is to make up for relinquishing past ribbit. In your case, you are supposed to receive only an accepted interest rate, so it does not seem feasible, on practical and halachic grounds, to raise the rate.
Finally, the full provisions of the heter iska likely do not work for you. In an iska, one cannot promise the investor a given return, which must be a product of profits. The reason the projected return is usually given is that to pay less, the iska recipient must corroborate lack of gains by oath and losses with witnesses. Otherwise, we assume profits. Many poskim (see Torat Ribbit 27:11) rule that this cannot be done when the investor is a partner in the business because when the investor knows there were not enough profits, he cannot demand proof of what he knows. Therefore, receiving the expected returns when they are not justified is ribbit. Some are lenient on the matter (ibid. (24)), but the stringency is logical. You could make the heter iska and use it for cases where there are profits. Realize that you would have to accept the risk of losses that you would know about. How would the heter iska help at all? The value would be in cases when there are apparent profits but it is hard to quantify them, so the heter iska sets clear return assumptions.
In summary, it is legitimate to rely on Rav Feinstein and not worry about anything. If you want to do a heter iska, it can be done, but if you want to use it even for cases where there were not gains, it is questionable whether it helps and will probably not allow profits on the past. You may want to just end the loan and, from this point and in the future, take the equity approach.
When to Make Up P’sukei D’zimraSomeone in shul did something I see as strange. He came late, skipped to Yishtabach when the tzibbur got up to it, but then was making up few p’sukim of P’sukei D’zimra at each of the pauses in Birchot Kri’at Shema and during chazarat hashatz (we barely had a minyan, and it was unclear to me how often he was answering amen). Is that the right way to do things?
Your shul-mate was correct to skip parts of P’sukei D’zimra in order to daven with the tzibbur, preferably finishing Yishtabach together and, more crucially, starting Shemoneh Esrei together (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 52:1). For Sephardim, one may even skip all of P’sukei D’zimra, including Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach (ibid.), whereas Ashkenazim should say at least those berachot and Ashrei (Mishna Berura 52:6).
However, it was wrong to say parts of P’sukei D’zimra during pauses in Birchot Shema, during which one may not speak non-crucial things. There are two sets of rules of speech at that time: in between berachot and sections of Kri’at Shema (bein haperakim), and in their midst (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:1). Actually, most of the “pauses,” i.e., when we wait for the chazan, are in the midst of berachot of Kri’at Shema or other times when it is particularly bad to speak, even for mitzva purposes. (The exception is after “…yotzer hame’orot.”)
Even bein haperakim, the list of permitted recitations is very limited. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) rules that one who did not put on tallit and tefillin previously may do so with a beracha during bein haperakim. However, the Rama cites an opinion that one does not recite the beracha until later, even though putting on tefillin at that time is important (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 25:4), and rules this way regarding tzitzit/tallit. The Mishna Berura (66:15) explains that since having a tallit on at that time is only desirable and not a real requirement, the beracha is an unjustified interruption during the Kri’at Shema section.
How critical is P’sukei D’zimra at that point? For one who skipped all of P’sukei D’zimra (see above), arguably, if he now realizes that he can fit it in bein haperakim, it might be important enough to do. After all, according to the Shulchan Aruch, a make-up P’sukei D’zimra will be without Baruch She’amar/Yishtabach. We find a machloket whether a passing opportunity to make a non-critical beracha (see Mishna Berura 66:19 regarding the beracha on lightening) justifies recitation bein haperakim. However, assuming the person said a shortened P’sukei D’zimra, why recite individual mizmorim at this sensitive point? After all, there already was a basic pre-tefilla praise of Hashem (P’sukei D’zimra’s main function), and the fact that one may shorten it shows the rest is not critical. Whatever he recited was out of its normal framework (i.e., between Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach), and the mizmorim can and should be done after tefilla. There is a better idea, for one who hopes to get in more of P’sukei D’zimra than if he just skips to Yishtabach and knows he davens faster than the chazan. He can continue P’sukei D’zimra, answering Kaddish and Barchu while in its midst, and then catch up to the tzibbur during Birchot Kri’at Shema (Mishna Berura 52:6).What about P’sukei D’zimra during chazarat hashatz? The basic halacha is that it is only forbidden to speak mundane matters during chazarat hashatz (Shulchan Aruch OC, 124:7). However, poskim consider it bad precedent to even learn Torah or recite supplications when people should be concentrating on chazarat hashatz (Mishna Berura 124:17). If it is unclear if there are ten (perhaps, nine – see Living the Halachic Process vol. I, A-10) people listening to every word (Igrot Moshe, OC IV 19) then it is certainly wrong to be involved in anything else. If (as is likely) recitation of P’sukei D’zimra will cause him to miss answering some amens and this may cause the loss of the quorum for amen during some berachot (others in shul likely also sometimes lose concentration), this is severe (Shulchan Aruch, OC 124:4).
Receiving Credit Card Benefit on Purchase for Someone ElseReuven paid for Shimon’s plane ticket using his credit card and was to be reimbursed. Is it considered that Reuven lent money to Shimon, so that if Reuven receives more than he gave because of credit card points he earned, it is ribbit (forbidden usury)? Also, who deserves to get the points, i.e., should Reuven credit Shimon for his gain?
When Reuven gave money to the airlines via his credit card based on Simon’s request, it is indeed considered as if he lent money to Shimon. This is based on a broad concept known as arvut (guarantorship). By means of arvut, the one who becomes obligated is not the one who received the money (the airline) but the one who requested the money to reach the party he specified (Shimon) (Kiddushin 7a). This concept can be used in creating loan obligations, kiddushin, and transactions. Thus, if Shimon would refuse to pay Reuven back because Reuven did not directly give him anything, we would say “Are you kidding?! When asking Reuven to pay the airlines, you said (or implied) you would pay Shimon back.”
Now that we have determined that Reuven has, effectively and halachically, lent money to Shimon, the question is whether Reuven can receive benefit as a result of the transaction. Indeed, ribbit is not only when a lender receives money straight from the hand of the borrower. If, for example, the borrower wanted to give the interest to the lender by means of a shaliach (agent), it would also be forbidden.
However, the problem is only if the benefit that Reuven receives is, in some way, coming from Shimon (Bava Metzia 69b). This case is different because of the nature of the benefit the credit card company gives Reuven. Because credit card companies benefit when their card is used more times/for larger sums of money, they sometimes give incentives to cardholders to use their card as much as possible. The company, thus, gives benefit to the cardholder, i.e., because Reuven decided to use their credit card; they are certainly not doing it at Shimon’s behest. Therefore, there is no problem of ribbit.
Is Reuven, though, required to give or share the gain with Shimon, and, then, if Shimon waived his rights, would that waiver not be considered ribbit? The gemara (Ketubot 98b) asks about a case in which someone serves as an agent to buy a certain amount of a commodity for a buyer for a certain price, and the seller decides to give more commodity than was requested. The gemara says that if the object does not have a set price, we say that the buyer’s money ended up bringing him more than expected. If, though, there was a set price, we view the extra as a present.
Who receives the present? The gemara accepts the opinion that it is divided equally between the buyer and the agent. Rashi explains that this is because there is a doubt for whom the present was intended. Based on this, the Rama (Choshen Mishpat 183:6) says that if the seller specified that he added on for the agent, the agent keeps the whole surplus. The Rif (Ketubot 57b of his pages) says that even assuming the agent was the intended recipient, the buyer deserves a share because the benefit came through him. The Beit Yosef prefers the Rif’s opinion, and the Shach (183:12) wonders why the Rama wrote according to Rashi as if it is agreed upon.
One might have claimed that our case depends on the machloket of the Rif, Rashi et al., as Reuven got the benefit because of Shimon’s purchase. However, in this case, Shimon is less directly involved with the credit card company than the gemara’s seller is to the buyer. Also, the “present” is part of an ongoing deal between company and client (Reuven), to which Shimon is not a party. The Rashba (Meyuchas L’Ramban 60; see K’tzot Hachoshen 283:7) says that when the present is because of the agent’s relationship with the seller, the agent receives the whole benefit.In summary, based on your description, Reuven need not credit Shimon for the points benefit, and there is no problem of ribbit.
Joining a Shushan Purim SeudaAt my Purim seuda this year (Friday, in Yerushalayim), I will be hosting my children from outside the city. Are there any limitations on their participation considering that it is Erev Shabbat?
While the main halacha of refraining from serious eating before a holy day is before Pesach (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 471:1), it is proper to refrain from even a moderate meal during the last quarter of Friday day (ibid. 249:2). It is also prohibited to make, anytime on Friday, an especially big meal. However, this is permitted for seudot mitzva that fall specifically on this day (Rama ad loc.), including a Purim seuda (Rama, OC 695:2).
At first glance, since the Purim seuda does not apply, halachically, to your visiting family, they do not have an excuse to do that which is normally forbidden. However, one can argue cogently to the contrary. One who makes a brit or pidyon haben on Friday makes a seuda (Rama ad loc.), and standard sources do not limit whom he can invite. It follows that whoever joins the seuda is properly contributing to the occasion’s festiveness. Similarly, we cite for those for whom it is not intuitively obvious, that important sources (including Eliya Rabba 695:4; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 696:3) write that Purim is properly celebrated in the context of a broad gathering of family and friends.
We would not, though, say that this is a proof that your out-of-town guests have no more restrictions than you. Consider that the nature of a seudat brit is that the ba’alei simcha invite and rely on guests who are not ba’alei simcha. In contrast, it is plausible that since one’s whole community is celebrating Purim, participation is a mitzva only for such people. On the other hand, some festivity is appropriate for all Jews on both Adar 14 and Adar 15 (Rama, OC 695:2).
It is even likely that the “prohibition” on eating a big meal in the morning is not a problem at all for your guests. The source to refrain from it is a gemara (Gittin 38b), which tells that a family that set a meal on “Erev Shabbat” was punished. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that their main Shabbat meal was Friday night, but most say it is referring to a seuda on Friday day. However, some say it is a problem only if it is on a regular basis (Ramban, Gittin 38b)); some say any occurrence of a big meal even in the morning can ruin one’s appetite (Shulchan Aruch, OC 249:2); others (Rashba in name of Rach; Pri Megadim, EA 249:4) say that is to not take away from Shabbat preparations (here, the seuda and Shabbat organizers are Shushan Purim people). Thus, only according to one approach (albeit, the Shulchan Aruch’s) should it be a real problem for the guests in the first place.
In the final analysis, based on multiple grounds, we posit that it is appropriate to include your children in the seuda. The question remains whether any limitations are appropriate.
While most years, the Purim seuda is preferably held in the afternoon, on Friday it is preferable to start it in the morning so that one will have enough time to recover his appetite by Shabbat (ibid.). (There is an opinion that it is enough to start before the last quarter of the day (Shut Maharil 56, cited as a secondary source in Mishna Berura 695:10).) There is a serious albeit minority approach to hold the seuda at the end of the day and have it turn into a Shabbat meal (contact our office for guidelines). The involvement of out-of-town guests is an added reason to prefer an earlier meal, as serious eating close to Shabbat is clearly problematic, and the advantages of enhancement of Purim by eating later do not apply directly to them. Therefore, having the meal in the morning (starting is enough - Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 42:(96)) is significantly preferable for the guests.
If the guests want to be stringent, there is logic for them to eat less than they might have. It is not justified for them to get drunk or even drink a lot of wine. (Any year, it is hard to justify getting drunk when it is not his Purim, nor do we ever favor drunkenness on Purim.)
Tefillin on a Semi-Permanent ToupeeMy balding at a young age is having a major effect on my dating and my self-image. I am considering getting a toupee that is glued down to the scalp, which lasts for 3-6 months. Would I have a problem of a chatzitza (separation from the body) for my tefillin?
The Rashba (Shut III:282) believes that the laws of chatzitza do not apply to the tefillin shel rosh. However, the accepted opinion is that chatzitzot are a problem, although possibly only for the bayit and not the retzuot (straps) (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chayim 27:4 and Mishna Berura 27:16).
Many poskim (including Igrot Moshe, OC IV:40.18; Aseh Lecha Rav III:3; Yalkut Yosef, OC 27:14) posit that a removable toupee is a chatzitza. However, Rav Moshe posits that transplanted hair is not a chatzitza since it is a permanent, desired part of his body. Furthermore, he writes that is also true for a permanently glued-on toupee. Is a toupee that is glued down for a matter of months a temporary or permanent appendage to the body?
Matters of chatzitza on appendages that remain for an extended period are discussed regarding items such as removable stitches and temporary fillings for women going to the mikveh. In that context, many poskim (see opinions in Badei Hashulchan 198:179 and The Laws of Nidda (Forst), vol. II, p.313-4) are lenient to allow tevilla. One of the lenient factors (see Igrot Moshe, YD I:97) is that the ostensible chatzitza is something that is specifically needed for medical reasons for a significant amount of time. This factor is missing in our case. However, several poskim are lenient in a case of aesthetic need to allow a married woman to have braces on her teeth (see The Laws of Nidda ibid.), and that is parallel to our case. Our case is also better than braces in that people want to remove the braces as soon as possible, whereas you would want to keep the toupee as long as you can.
There are various opinions regarding how long the item needs to remain on the body: six months; a month; a week (see ibid.). Finally, if, for example, the required time is a month, then according to some opinions, the appendage becomes a chatzitza a month before it will be removed; others say that if it is on for a month, it is okay until it is removed (see ibid.). Your situation is better if the toupee is being removed to be re-glued rather than replaced. A woman who wants to follow the stringent opinion can accordingly synchronize going to the mikveh and removing the appendage; a man who has to put on tefillin every day cannot.
Let us halachically contrast tevilla and tefillin. On the one hand, tevilla is needed to remove a more stringent halachic matter than tefillin. Also, we saw an opinion that chatzitza is not a problem for the tefillin shel rosh. Yet, in other ways, your case is more severe. A chatzitza on a minority of the body (as in the cases above) is no worse than a Rabbinic disqualification (Nidda 67b). In contrast, the entire area of the tefillin is covered by a toupee, and there is thus the potential for a Torah-level disqualification (see Ran to Rif, Sukka 13b). Some even argue that the parameters of chatzitza for tefillin are broader than for tevilla (see Rivevot Ephrayim III;38), and some claim that even one’s own hair that is under the tefillin in an unnatural way is a chatzitza (Machatzit Hashekel 27:4). A toupee should be no better than that.In summary, it is likely that the toupee in question would not be a chatzitza (and one could make a beracha on the tefillin while it is on) as long as it is still considered desirable. However, we cannot deny that according to significant opinions, the mitzva of tefillin could be compromised. In the following way a removable toupee has an advantage. Several poskim allow one who will be embarrassed to remove it publicly to put on tefillin at home without the toupee, say Kri’at Shema, and then daven in shul with tefillin on the toupee without a beracha (Igrot Moshe ibid.; Aseh Lecha Rav, ibid.).
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