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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.).
Women Doing Work on ChanukaIs the minhag of some women to curtail work on Chanuka binding? When exactly does it apply, and what type of work is included?
Assuming either one’s community or family has the minhag of women refraining from work on Chanuka, which existed broadly from the time of the Rishonim (see Tur, Orach Chayim 670; Orchot Chayim, Chanuka 21), it should normally be kept. However, various reasons are given for it, and there are great differences of opinion as to when, to what, and even to whom it applies. The opinions in each of the questions also impact on other questions. Some early sources also describe it as a grass-roots minhag, which makes it less predictable and rigorously consistent.
The reasons given for the minhag are: 1. Orchot Chayim ibid. – as a reminder that one may not benefit from the Chanuka candles (or out of concern the candles will go out and one will be using them). 2. Levush, OC 670:1 – it was made like a Yom Tov so people will not take their minds off the miracle.
These reasons do not explain a distinction between men and women, and there are opinions that it also applies to men (Maharil, Chanuka 11, as understood by Eliya Rabba 670:11; the Mishna Berura 670:3 reports that in some places men also refrain). However, this is not the recommended (Shulchan Aruch, OC 670:1) or common practice. Some claim that women doing work are more likely to use the Chanuka candles (Mor U’ktzia, OC 670), but it is more accepted that it is because of women’s place of honor in the miracle of Chanuka, through Yehudit (Magen Avraham 670:1 based on Mateh Moshe, Chanuka 994). (One can explain that women’s feeling of connection caused them to accept it or that it is objectively proper, because of women’s virtue, to connect them to the celebration and even have a “vacation,” like some say regarding Rosh Chodesh (see Shibolei Leket 184; Tur, OC 417).)
According to most opinions, the minhag applies only as long as the candles are required to be lit (Mishna Berura 670:4), i.e., a half hour, which is when there is a prohibition of benefit (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 672:2 and Mishna Berura ad loc. 7-8). Some say it is as long as they are still lit (implication of Shulchan Aruch, OC 670:1), or perhaps as long as the lights in shul are expected to be lit (Magen Avraham 670:2). The latter opinions work better with the idea of women’s connection or creating a Yom Tov to focus on Chanuka’s significance. There was a minhag for women to refrain from work for all of Chanuka, which is maligned as unhealthy (Orchot Chaim ibid.), but some say it is reasonable to do so on the first and last day, as we find on Yom Tov (ibid.). This again does not work with the idea of benefit from the candles, but certainly this is not a common minhag.
Regarding what is prohibited, logically if it is related to benefit from the candles, it could apply to any work, and if women treat this time like a Yom Tov, it would be no broader than the restrictions of Yom Tov or probably even Chol Hamo’ed (Shraga Hameir VI:87). According to the latter approach, it would be permitted to cook, which is the prevalent minhag (Mikraei Kodesh 1:5). The consensus is to allow melacha that is trivial from a work perspective (e.g., turning on lights), unless perhaps if they are in the context of “major work,” such as turning on the washing machine (see Rivevot Ephrayim VI:409.2). Certainly those who practice a long time of restriction do so only in regard to major jobs, but the claim of some that the minhag in Yerushalayim is to refrain from virtually everything to keep focused on the candles is practical because they refer only to a period of around a half hour (see P’ninei Chanuka (Q&A with Rav Elyashiv), p. 131-3; Rivevot Ephrayim I:436).
We would recommend to everyone to follow her minhag, but many are confused about its details and, on such a matter, can choose. One should not be machmir if it will create tension or take away from her (family’s) Chanuka joy. She should also spell out at least mentally that she does not want it to be a neder.
Taking Medicine to Facilitate Mitzvot[This is my question.] Last Friday, I developed minor nasal issues, resembling my allergies, but uncommon for me in the fall. I woke up at night, sneezing. I reasoned that if I am not sure it is allergies, I should stay home until I can rule out Covid (even though I am fully vaccinated and was without other symptoms). I would miss shul and have a problem with scheduled guests (disinvite? stay in my room?). I figured that if I take my allergy medicine and wake up symptom-free, I can assume it was allergies. Was I permitted to take it (nasal spray) on Shabbat?
Question: [This is my question.] Last Friday, I developed minor nasal issues, resembling my allergies, but uncommon for me in the fall. I woke up at night, sneezing. I reasoned that if I am not sure it is allergies, I should stay home until I can rule out Covid (even though I am fully vaccinated and was without other symptoms). I would miss shul and have a problem with scheduled guests (disinvite? stay in my room?). I figured that if I take my allergy medicine and wake up symptom-free, I can assume it was allergies. Was I permitted to take it (nasal spray) on Shabbat?
Answer: It is Rabbinically prohibited to have medical treatment (refuah) on Shabbat (Shabbat 111a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 328:1) out of concern that this may lead him to violate Shabbat, e.g., by grinding herbs. However, just as there are dispensations for one who is truly sick, even if it is not life threatening (choleh she’ein bo sakana =csebs) to have things done that are usually forbidden on Shabbat (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 328:17), so too the prohibition of refuah is waived (Rama ad loc. 37; see Orchot Shabbat 20:(149)).
There is also leniency in the other direction. Sometimes a health-minded action is not considered medicinal, either because there is no “halachic malady” or because the action is not similar enough to the prohibition. (Details/distinctions are complex – see Shulchan Aruch, OC 328 and Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 34.) However, nose drops/spray for nasal issues are halachically medicinal (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 34:10).
Seasonal allergies do not usually rise to the level of csebs, which is described as someone who is forced into bed by the illness (Shulchan Aruch ibid.), but is called meichush. While literal time in bed may not be critical (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 33:1), it still conveys a level of severity well beyond what I experienced.
One can raise grounds for leniency. The goal was not to solve a problem of allergies but to rule out a concern for Corona and allow normalcy. In contrast, the logic of issur refuah is that one whose mind is focused on healing his malady may forget to not avoid violating Shabbat in the process (see Rif, Shabbat 24b; Eglei Tal, Tochen 16). Rav M. Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah IV, 13) allowed a “healthy asthmatic” to take medicine to prevent an attack while exerting himself walking to shul, because he was not suffering when he took the medicine, so it is dissimilar to the classic concern. This could apply to our case as well. However, while my main motivation was for something external, I also would have used the spray, during the week, to alleviate the likely allergies.
A better justification is to facilitate mitzva/ot (minyan, kri’at hatorah, guests – discussion of which need is a sufficient mitzva is beyond our scope). The Minchat Yitzchak (I:108) argues, in a parallel case, that since mitzvot are grounds to allow asking a non-Jew to violate a Rabbinic prohibition (Shulchan Aruch, OC 307:5), they can justify taking medicines (based on Radbaz III:640).
The Orchot Shabbat (20:(197)) strengthens this approach with the Magen Avraham’s statement (338:1) that whatever is permitted for a csebs is permitted for a mitzva. He is slightly hesitant, perhaps primarily out of concern for a slippery slope (e.g., people will say “I cannot learn or enjoy my meal properly the way I feel”). I would distinguish between defined mitzvot one will miss and between enhancing mitzvot. Chazal were well aware that people with a meichush enjoy everything less, and still their concern about chillul Shabbat caused them to prohibit medicine. Similar concerns made them cancel the mitzvot of shofar and lulav!
Some claim that issur refuah is anachronistic, as people do not prepare their own medicines nowadays. The main refutation is that we do not undo Rabbinic laws even if their basis changes (Rambam, Mamrim 2:2). Actually, the claim is anachronistic - nowadays many people prepare home-made remedies (Google search “herbal remedies” – 141 mil. results).
I did use the medicine.
Tevila of Something that Turns into a “Meal Utensil”I received an ornamental honey dispenser and glass plate. I want to use the plate every Shabbat to hold challa rolls for lechem mishneh. Does it require tevilat keilim, assuming that it was made by a non-Jew(ish company)?
You correctly imply that you could use the plate for its intended purpose without tevilat keilim, as we will illustrate. The gemara (Avoda Zara 75b) posits that only “klei seuda” (utensils for meals) require tevila, and the poskim understand that it must be used to come in direct contact with food, as opposed to serving/touching a utensil that holds food (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 120:4), e.g., the plate for the dispenser.
What happens when something is designed for a purpose to which tevila does not apply but is now being used for a purpose that requires it, e.g., a plate for bread. The Rama (YD 120:8, based on the Issur V’heter 58:85), says that if one bought and uses a knife for cutting parchment, he may not use it, even occasionally, for cutting food. Most of the classic commentaries of the Shulchan Aruch/Rama seem to accept this ruling. On the other hand, the Pri Chadash (ad loc. 19) argues, invoking a (not unanimous) rule (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 451:6) regarding the companion halachot of hechsher keilim (kashering) that determinations of status follow the majority of usage. Here, says the Pri Chadash, all should agree that if the majority of usage is such that does not require tevilat keilim, it is not required.
The two opinions likely disagree as to the heart of tevilat keilim – is it the mitzva to do the tevila or the lack of permission to use the kli before tevila. Logically, the mitzva should depend on the overall status, but not using without tevila could apply to even sporadic usage. Our chakira likely gives us the opposite outcome in a case where a kli requires tevila but one wants to use it beforehand for a non-seuda use. If it the main point is the usage prohibition, this is likely only relevant to seuda uses. If the main thing is a tevila obligation, then it might be necessary to not use it for anything before discharging one’s obligation. See Chelkat Binyamin (p. 284) for opinions on this matter.
As far as practical halacha is concerned, Chelkat Binyamin (120:68) finds it difficult to ignore the near consensus of the classical poskim who requiring tevila before any seuda usage. He also does not dismiss the Pri Chadash and therefore advocates not making a beracha on that tevila. Rav Zvi Cohen (Hagalat Keilim 1:2) rules like the Pri Chadash regarding keilim whose purpose is not as a kli seuda, as the Aruch Hashulchan (YD 120:40) agrees fundamentally and this is apparently the more prevalent practice. There is also more room for leniency regarding a glass utensil, where the maximum obligation is Rabbinic (see Hagalat Keilim 1:3; see Chochmat Adam 73:8 regarding a similar context)) or when there are other grounds for exemption.However, in your case, the lenient opinions do not suffice. That is because when one decides to change a non-kli seuda into a kli seuda, it becomes obligated in tevila. As we find such decisions change the status even to remove a tevilat keilim obligation (Shach, YD 120:17), all the more should it add an obligation. Perhaps you were thinking about Rav Moshe Feinstein’s novel leniency (Igrot Moshe YD II:40) that one who buys a container that does not require tevila because it is disposable and decides to use it regularly does not thereby create a tevila requirement. However, his (not unanimous) idea is that we view it as a Jew “creating” the status of a kli, and one can even exempt himself from tevila by physically undoing a kli status and then have a Jew repair/restore it (Pitchei Teshuva, YD 120:1). There is no precedent that a kli that was not yet obligated in tevila when acquired from a non-Jew would not become obligated later based on a new usage (see Shulchan Aruch, YD 120:8). Therefore, barring other grounds for exemption, the plate needs tevila before it can be used regularly for challa.
When to Attend a LevayaIt is difficult for me (a part-time working woman with school-age children) to know when to attend a levaya (lit., accompanying the deceased) of people I know but am not close with. Can you give me guidelines?
It is more feasible to provide background and perspective than exact guidelines.
The basic sources seem clear. The gemara (Ketubot 17a) discusses the deceased’s spiritual prominence’s impact on how many people should stop their activities, including Torah study, to escort him. Another gemara (Moed Katan 27b) says that when there is a deceased in the city, the townspeople are forbidden to work unless there is a chevra kaddisha to prepare for the funeral. Tosafot (Ketubot ibid.), accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 361:2) says that at the time of the levaya, all are forbidden to work, implying that all should take part.
However, many Acharonim encountered a more lenient common practice. In some cases, one could distinguish between Talmudic and later times. Perhaps Talmudic Jewish communities were smaller than some later ones. (See Minchat Elazar IV:2, referring to L’vov, exclaiming that if one went to every funeral in a big city, he would not be able to learn.) However, it is difficult to claim that differing situations account for the whole difference between sources and practice.
The Netziv’s opinion (Ha’amek She’ala 14:2) serves as a limud z’chut. The gemara (Berachot 18a) harshly criticizes one who sees the deceased and is not melaveh him, and the Netziv posits that the obligation is only upon seeing him; if one knows about the levaya without seeing it, he need not go. While the Netziv and others identify important poskim who disagree (including Beit Shmuel 65:3 and Shach, YD 361:5), this may suffice to justify the established practice.
The Pitchei Teshuva (YD 361:2) accepts the opinion that the requirement of levaya extends all the way to the cemetery. But others (Netziv, above; see more opinions in Even Yaakov (Waldenberg) 19) limit it to 4 amot, and according to them, we can explain the lenient practice as follows. Perhaps it was common for the funeral procession to pass through town, and each person would pause his activities and escort the deceased a short distance, showing respect by giving a few minutes of his time. Nowadays, when attending a funeral involves an hour and often much more, the average person is not expected to do so.
Divrei Nechemia (YD 25) fascinatingly explains that the lenient practice is “self-fulfilling.” One can, during his life, waive his posthumous honor, e.g., he can instruct not to eulogize him, (see Sanhedrin 46b). Thus, one who lives in a society in which people go only to the funerals of people with whom they had a significant connection, he accepts having this be true for his funeral. The gemara (Ketubot 72a) indeed views death-related chesed as reciprocal. A man’s broad forbidding of his wife to be menachem avel is grounds for divorce because “one who eulogizes will be eulogized, one who buries others will be buried by others, …”
Let us put things in perspective. The Rambam (Avel 14:1) lists halvayat hameit among the Rabbinic obligations that fulfill the general mitzva of “V’ahavta l’reacha kamocha,” along with bikur cholim, hachnasat orchim, etc. It is almost impossible for a person to find the time/energy to excel in all of these, thus leaving room for people to specialize in some areas, while doing the minimum (perhaps even with leniencies) in others. Sometimes life dictates one’s abilities regarding such mitzvot, e.g., some people would get fired for going to funerals too often; for others, doing so would contradict familial responsibilities – see Kiddushin 30b). One should internalize the Rabbinic perspective on the great reward for levayat hameit (see Berachot 18a) and the belief that a well-attended funeral is impactful for the deceased (multiple gemarot). Then she can try to determine when this is appropriate for her, factoring in the level of connection, “deservedness” of the deceased, and her availability at that time.
Is a Difficult to Remove Residue a Chatzitza?I learned that due to the way we use our oven rack, it requires tevila (beyond our scope), but by now, it has baked-on residue. With hard work and chemical cleaners, I removed most of the residue, but it is not fully clean. May I do tevilat keilim now?
The laws of chatzitza (impediments to the water reaching all of the object) come up in the Shulchan Aruch regarding different tevilot – a woman (Yoreh Deah 198), netilat yadayim (Orach Chayim 161), and tevilat keilim (YD 120 & 202). The main difference is that for a woman, it is a more acute need (to prevent a severe aveira) than the latter two (a lower level positive mitzva – for hands, it is Rabbinic; for utensils, it is a machloket whether it is from the Torah).
The main rule about chatzitza (Eiruvin 4b) is that the Torah-level disqualification is when something is both stuck on a majority of the object (rov) and in a manner that the pertinent person wants it removed (makpid). It is a chatzitza on a Rabbinic level if only one of the issues exists (ibid.). You and most people prefer to remove residue on their racks (thus, the chemicals products) – all of it, unless it is impossible or highly taxing. It is a good question – when one does not remove only because it is not so feasible, is it a chatzitza?
There are several discussions about chatzitzot that are difficult to remove. One is about medically required chatzitzot, e.g., stitches, casts, post-operative bandages. The mishna states that a bandage on a wound constitutes a chatzitza (Mikvaot 9:2). On the other hand, some explain that this is because people often remove the bandage temporarily (see Sidrei Tahara 198:23; Ktav Sofer, YD 91). Despite the similarities (staying on for a while, difficult to remove), the bandage is different in both directions: a bandage is more annoying than residue; there is a plan to remove it in the future (stringent); the bandage is desired now (lenient).
Two relevant sources are focal points of discussion and distinctions: 1. There is a machloket among Tannaim whether an arrow lodged in one’s leg and is difficult to remove is a chatzitza (Tosefta, Mikvaot 7:9); 2. According to some Rishonim (see Beit Yosef, YD 198), one does not need to remove certain skin malformations, despite his desire to not have them, because removal is painful. To reconcile these sources, the Sidrei Tahara (198:26) distinguishes between foreign objects, which more naturally constitute chatzitzot, and addendums of the body itself. Others distinguish based on how safe it is to remove it (Rash on Mikvaot 10:8; Shut R. Akiva Eiger I:60). Those sources do not provide clear guidance for our case because of differences – here, the residue is foreign and difficulty is the only reason not to remove the residue; we are dealing with a utensil rather than a person.The closest cases are the following. A woman must try to remove lice from her hair before tevila, but irremovable lice are not a chatzitza (Shulchan Aruch, YD 198:47). Like our case, she would like to remove them and just did not succeed, and yet it is considered not makpid. The Gra (ad loc. 53) is confusing, as he points out two things: it is natural, and he is not makpid. Depending on how these reasons interact, it is unclear what he would say in our case. The Rama (Yoreh Deah 202:2) says that black stains on the outside of a pot are normal and therefore not a problem. However, not all agree (Gra ad loc. 3), although maybe the stains are not too difficult to remove. The strongest source seeming to indicate that residue that remains after removal efforts is not a chatzitza is the Shulchan Aruch, YD 120:13. One must remove rust before tevilat keilim, but if, after efforts to do so a little is left, one is not makpid, and it is okay. One could argue that residue in the age of oven cleaners is less acceptable than rust before the advent of stainless steel. However, regarding a case that you do not plan to clean anymore, we have seen enough justification to posit that normal modest residue is not a chatzitza.
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