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Consequence of Removal of Sleeve from under TefillinWhen after fastening the tefillin shel yad, I find part of my sleeve under the tefillin and pull it away, must I refasten the tefillin due to the rule of ta’aseh v’lo min ha’asuy (=tvlmh – mitzva-related actions must be performed directly)? In this case, the placement of the tefillin becomes proper not by fastening them but by removing something else!
Let us start by citing cases of tvlmh found in Shas. If one “forms” a sukka by hollowing out a pile in a way that leaves sukka-kosher objects over the space, the sukka is pasul until moving the s’chach. One needs to positively place s’chach over an area (Sukka 12a). If the tzitzit of a garment are attached before it is obligated in tzitzit, the tzitzit must be reattached (Menachot 40b). Mezuzot must be placed on an obligated doorpost and not placed on a board which later helps form such a doorpost (ibid. 33b). The gemara raises the possibility that tvlmh applies to hadasim connected to a lulav when they were invalid and remain after they were fixed (Sukka 33b).
There are some grounds to compare our case to the Talmudic cases. We will see if there are distinctions that would justify the apparent practice that people do not refasten the tefillin after removing the sleeve. First, we note that the gemara and Rishonim do not discuss tvlmh in regard to tefillin. Some say (see discussions in Levushei Mordechai, Yoreh Deah II:122 and Shevet Halevi II:154) that tvlmh applies specifically to mitzvot for which the Torah uses the root aso (do/make), i.e., sukka and tzitzit. Some explain that mezuza is only Rabbinical (opinion in Sdei Chemed, vol. V, p. 330) or a loose use of the term (Levushei Mordechai ibid.); lulav is unclear and might be because of its connection to sukka. This might (see later) remove the whole question.
Rav Frank (Har Tzvi, OC 23) uses the following convincing thesis about the mitzva of tefillin to rule leniently in your case. The mitzva of tefillin relates to the state of having tefillin on oneself, not to the act of putting it on, and therefore, for example, a non-Jew can put the tefillin on an infirmed person. Similarly, he says, tvlmh cannot be a problem if we do not care how the tefillin got there.
The Shevet Halevi (ibid.) points out that the classic tvlmh sources refer to preparing various mitzva objects (sukka, garment with tzitzit), not to the performance of the mitzva. One could use that distinction to negate any problem of tvlmh regarding fastening, but he argues that the need for direct action regarding the actual fulfillment of the mitzva is broader than the issue of tvlmh. However, the Shevet Halevi posits that just like when tvlmh disqualifies s’chach, this is remedied by shaking the s’chach (Sukka 15a), removing the chatzitza to fix the tefillin’s position is positive “doing.” The Eshel Avraham (Butchach), 27:4 said this before him.
Other opinions lend room for leniency. The Rashba (Megilla 24b) says that a sleeve under tefillin shel yad is not a matter of chatzitza; rather, tefillin should be under a covering rather than on top of it because it is “a sign for you” (Shemot 13:9). Therefore, says Rav Frank (ibid.), the fastening was not intrinsically flawed, and when the “side problem” is solved, one does not need a new action. A precedent for this concept is the Rama (OC 626:2) – a sukka under a pasul overhang becomes kosher when the overhang is removed without further action because external problems do not create tvlmh problems.
Also, perhaps a chatzitza on a minority of the place of the tefillin does not disqualify (Eshel Avraham ibid. considers it a possibility). If that opinion is correct (although we do not rely upon it l’chatchila), the whole question disappears. Perhaps even if one does not fulfill the mitzva with a partial chatzitza, fastening it in that way is at least considered a mitzva action.Because there are so many possible reasons for leniency, and several of them are strong reasons that negate the problem, there is no need in practice to refasten the tefillin shel yad after the sleeve is rolled back.
Key Accessibility for Non-Jew Who Buys ChametzMechirat chametz forms ask me to identify someone with access to our key to the chametz’s location if we are away. Is this necessary considering the non-Jew never comes to get the chametz?
Mechirat chametz has developed over the centuries. In the time of the Rishonim, it started to be used as an arguably fictitious sale, i.e., it was clear the sale would be reversed after Pesach (see Terumat Hadeshen I:120; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 448:3). However, it was expected that the non-Jew would physically remove the chametz from the Jew’s house (Shulchan Aruch ibid.). The current situation in which chametz remains within our homes raises technical problems regarding the laws of kinyan and heightens the ha’arama (deception) issue.
The concern that ha’arama disqualifies the sale is one of the major reasons behind a requirement raised by several Acharonim (including the Bach, OC 448 and Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 448:13) to give the buyer the key to the room that holds the chametz. The Taz (OC 448:4) rules that if the non-Jewish buyer lacks independent access to the room and certainly if the seller has kept the key to a locked room with the chametz within, the sale is invalid. This is likely because of concern about ha’arama (see Noda B’yehuda I, OC 18), but there are other explanations for some poskim’s requirement of giving the key to the buyer: It might be a requirement of the kinyan process or it may remove financial responsibility for the chametz from the seller to avoid bal yeiraeh (prohibition on possession of the chametz he is essentially guarding in his home – see Shevet Halevi VII:55).
The consensus among contemporary poskim is to not require giving the key. The Noda B’yehuda (ibid.) posited that the Taz’s concern that ha’arama could disqualify the sale was overblown because proper actions and words of sale are not undone by unspoken questionable intentions.
Furthermore, many say that giving over of a key is less important than it once was. The Biur Halacha (to OC 448:3) says that when a significant amount of chametz is sold and the non-Jew has not yet paid for it, the seller can monitor what is being taken and therefore need not provide free access. Several poskim (including B’tzel Hachochma VI:34) quote the Maharash Engel as saying that when the sale is done through an agent (e.g., the rabbi), not giving the key is not problematic. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 448:23) and Divrei Malkiel (IV:22) argue that now that one non-Jew buys a whole community’s chametz, it is no longer feasible to give him everyone’s key. Therefore, not doing so is not a sign of ha’arama.
However, most of the poskim who do not require giving a key, do require close to instant access to the chametz. Some of them mention allowing the non-Jew to enter the house without permission. Some mention letting the buyer know where he can get to the keys promptly.There is no requirement regarding a standard, financially based sale in which the object remains for a while at the seller’s place, that the buyer must have instant access. If one buys a car from a dealer, must he make the car available 24/7?! As long as the seller does nothing artificial to delay the process there is no legal problem. So too, presumably if there were a legitimate reason that the seller could not leave access to the chametz, the sale would still be halachically effective. Apparently, the sensitivity which caused the requirement of quick access that we find in most contemporary sales forms stems from the general concern that the whole sale is suspect to claims of ha’arama. Let us review – one person buys a huge amount of random chametz, which remains in the buyers’ homes, and the sale will be reversed right after Pesach. So it is logical that if classical poskim required giving the key, that nowadays we should at least give him the ability to get to the key promptly; this easy step gives the sale a more practical feel. Therefore, we should keep the minhag to write a contact person even if it is not fundamentally required.
Siyum for Taanit Bechorot Via Live StreamingOn Erev Pesach, I will be in a small Jewish community that will not have a siyum. Is it permitted for me – a bechor – to break the ta’anit bechorot based on a siyum in which I “participate” via Skype?
In the context of the halacha not to fast throughout the month of Nisan, Massechet Sofrim states that an exception is that bechorot fast on Erev Pesach. The Tur and Shulchan Aruch cite this practice as normative, and the Tur explains that it is in commemoration of the miracle that the Jewish firstborns were saved in Egypt.
The idea that one may eat at a seudat mitzva and thereby cancel the fast is debated among the Acharonim. The Magen Avraham does not allow firstborns to eat even at a brit mila on Erev Pesach. The Mishna Berura reports, however, that the minhag in his time was to allow eating at seudot mitzva, including the meal at a siyum. The idea that a siyum meal can serve this role as a seudat mitzva is found in the Rama regarding the permissibility of eating meat and drinking wine at a seudat mitzva during the Nine Days.
In these contexts, there is room to distinguish between those people who are the main individuals involved in the seudat mitzva, for whom the day is like a Yom Tov, and the other participants. For example, one who is a sandek on the day of his parent’s yahrtzeit may eat on that day, even if he ordinarily follows the minhag of fasting on that day, whereas a simple participant in the brit may not. Similarly, even those who do not allow firstborns to eat at another’s seudat mitzva are lenient regarding a firstborn who serves as the mohel or sandek, as well as the father of the circumcised baby. In any event, the minhag is to allow all participants at a siyum to eat at the siyum’s meal, and as a result, to continue eating the rest of Erev Pesach.
The simple logic for this leniency is that each individual’s participation makes the celebration more special, thus heightening the ba’al simcha’s event. Therefore, participation in the ba’al simcha’s meal is what is crucial regarding our discussion. Indeed, some allow even a firstborn who missed the siyum itself to take part in the seudat mitzva. Following the logic that it is the enhancement of the ba’al simcha’s event that matters, the Minchat Yitzchak says that even the Chavot Yair, who rules that a meal held the day after the siyum was made is still considered a seudat mitzva, is discussing only a seuda in which the one who made the siyum participates.
The gemara relates that Abaye was especially emotionally involved in the Torah successes of others, to the extent that he would make a party for the rabbis when a young scholar finished a massechet. Some understand that the halachic status of such a party extends even to one who is not present at all at the celebration of the one who finished the Torah section; the vicarious joy of all those who are happy about the siyum is equivalent to their participation in the seudat mitzva. The Minchat Yitzchak writes that according to this approach (which he discourages relying upon but considers legitimate), one can be considered a “participant” in the seudat mitzva even if he does not actually eat together with the main party.
In most cases, it would not seem logical to consider one who “takes part” in a seudat mitzva via Skype as being a halachic participant, certainly in regards to increasing the simcha of the one who made the siyum. However, according to the approach that anyone connected to the siyum is entitled to celebrate his happiness due to the occasion, it is at least somewhat plausible to say that witnessing the event via Skype is sufficiently significant.
A number of authorities take a surprisingly lenient approach about siyum standards for ta’anit bechorot, relying heavily on the following two factors: 1) The fast is only a minhag. 2) For many people, fasting would have a significantly negative impact on the Seder. While not actually cancelling the minhag, some seem to lower the bar of who is included in the siyum, such that they enable almost anyone to eat. If one feels a need to be lenient, Skype participation can indeed be contemplated. If so, it is best to watch the siyum and celebrate it as a group, and/or to witness a siyum that brings one true simcha (e.g., based on one's connection to the person or to the level of accomplishment).
We now apply our past response to those under Coronavirus quarantine or limitation on gatherings if the present situation (as of the time of this writing) persists. There are important factors that indicate that it is fully permissible, even as a single participant, to eat based on remote participation in a siyum via live streaming. In the area of need, many people will be unable to take part in a siyum in person, which creates a she’at hadechak, as above. This is combined with the fact that doctors have raised reservations about the advisability of fasting during the time of a serious infectious outbreak.
On a more positive note, such remote participation in a siyum has much more power than usual. While normally, such participation is abnormal, which detracts from its efficacy, this is presently the “new (temporary) normal.” Furthermore, the one who makes the siyum will be fully aware of his remote participants, and he will be honored and touched to share his personal simcha with many others, instead of being limited to a small group where he is. The remote participants will also feel part of the simcha, as the light of Torah, which unites us at happy times, like the recent siyum hashas, unites us as well in difficult times.
Undoubtedly then, taking part in such a siyum at this time is absolutely fine. In contrast, if one would have to break or even bend the instructions or advice of medical authorities and/or one’s rabbi, chas v’shalom, to take part in a siyum in person, that is unacceptable.
 Orach Chayim 470.
 Orach Chayim 470:1.
 Ad loc. in the introduction to the siman.
 Ad loc. 10.
 Orach Chayim 551:10.
 Mishna Berura 568:46.
 Ibid. 470:10.
 The person to whom the happy event is directly related.
 See Teshuvot V’Hanhagot II:210.
 Shut Chavot Yair 70.
 Shabbat 118b-119a.
 See Az Nidberu XII:58.
 Including Az Nidberu and Teshuvot V’Hanhagot op. cit.; Yabia Omer, I, Orach Chayim 26, is quite stringent.
Hearing the Megillah in QuarantineThese guidelines are written in response to inquiries from people who are in quarantine due to potential Coronavirus infection, and to inquiries from communities in the Diaspora where local authorities have forbidden public gatherings in places such as synagogues.
 Responsa Minchat Shlomo 1:9; Responsa Yechaveh Daat 3:54; Responsa Minchat Yitzchak 3:38,16, and others. The ruling in Responsa Bemareh Habazak 1:26 is that one should not be lenient under normal circumstances. See further, Responsa Bemareh Habazak 5:62 regarding places where the practice is to read the megillah with a microphone.
 Responsa Minchat Elazar 2:72
 See Responsa Igrot Moshe O”C 2:108, O”C 4:91; Responsa Tzitz Eliezer 8:11; see further Responsa Minchat Shlomo (ibid.) in the footnotes, who indicates that the Chazon Ish was also unsure of this.
 We understand that this is also the ruling of Rabbi Herschel Schachter for those asking in the United States.
 Responsa Igrot Moshe O”C 4:91; Responsa Yechaveh Daat 2:68; see also Piskei Teshuvot 215:3
 Shulchan Aruch O"C 692:1; see also Piskei Teshuvot 692:4
Hashem's Names with DashesSome people write Hashem’s Name in English as “G-d.” Is that necessary, or are the halachot of Hashem’s Name only in Hebrew? If a Name can be in any language, then isn’t “G-d” another recognized form to write Hashem’s Name and have the same problem?
What to consider a Name of Hashem is significant in several areas of Halacha, and the answer needs not be uniform.
The Torah prohibition of erasing Hashem’s Name (Makkot 22a) applies only to the seven principle Names (Rambam, Yesodei Hatorah 6:2); poskim posit that Hashem’s Name in different languages (= la’az) would not be included. Yet the Rambam (Shvuot 2:1-2) says that an oath, which must invoke Hashem, is binding in any language. There is a machloket Rishonim (see Bemareh Habazak VII:75) whether even the Name can be in a different language or only the rest of the oath. Another question is whether it is forbidden to utter a Name in la’az in a meaningless way or in an unnecessary beracha (see Shut R. Akiva Eiger I:25). It turns out that the prohibition on erasing might be more limited than some other applications. The Shach (Yoreh Deah 179:11) rules that the Name in la’az is not a halachic Name. On the other hand, the Netivot Hamishpat (27:1) and Urim (27:2) posit that is fully considered a holy Name.
Although he says it is permitted to erase “God,” the Mishna Berura (85:10) forbids disgracing that Name by uttering it in a dirty place, e.g., a bathroom. Therefore, even those who are not fully stringent about a Name in la’az may forbid disgracing a written version (see Ginzei Hakodesh 7:12). In Bemareh Habazak (ibid.) we dealt with the question of bringing dollar bills (which include, “In God we trust”) into a bathroom uncovered. We permitted it because of several possible mitigating factors, including that it is printed without intention for something holy.
Many observant Jewish English speakers write Hashem’s Name normally and many insert a dash. An individual’s writing is, in some ways, more stringent than dollar bills because he is writing it himself, especially if it is in the context of divrei Torah or serious references to Hashem (not, a flippant “OMG”). On the other hand, does an individual, at the time he wants to write about Hashem, have to be concerned it will be disgraced later? Although different contexts are different, the gemara (Rosh Hashana 18b), regarding writing a Name in documents, says we are supposed to look ahead. The Netivot and Urim (ibid.) spoke strongly against writing “adieu” (literally “with Hashem” in French) because of the prospect the paper will “lie in garbage dumps.” Rav Soloveitchik dismissed these concerns because he was convinced that “God” is not a Name. Thus, both practices have sources and logic to stand on.
Does the dash help? Rav Soloveitchik posited that it did not because if there a problem with what Names in la’az represents, then “G-d” also represents Hashem. However, this contention is not fully convincing. First, the Achiezer (III:32) presented, as a simple policy solution for a Yiddish paper, to put a dash between the Gimmel and Tet of the Yiddish Name. The Rama (YD 276:10) deals with abbreviations or written substitutes of the seven Names (in Hebrew). He says that one may erase “yud yud” written in place of Hashem’s main Name, but only in the case of need (the Gra ad loc. views this as a chumra). The Minchat Yitzchak (IX:62) equates the dashes separating between the letters of a Hebrew Name to the Rama’s case. The Avnei Nezer (YD 365) posits that dashes actually indicate that the separated letters form one word and thus dashes do not help. However, it is likely that they agree if the dash is in place of a missing letter. (Google-search “G-d” and see if it is obvious in English that it refers to Hashem.) While the Rama is “a little machmir” regarding “yud yud,” that is a hint to a Hebrew Name, not what the Achiezer and we are referring to.
In summary then, while it might be fine to write “God,” for those who prefer to be machmir, “G-d” offers a marked improvement.
Parashat Zachor with Different PronunciationsMy shul has always read Parashat Zachor once, with our regular havara (pronunciation). Some people now complain that we do not follow other shuls and read multiple times with different havarot to fulfill the mitzva according to more opinions and to do the mitzva properly for Sephardim. Should we change our minhag?
Let us start with those Ashkenazim who want to fulfill the mitzva according to as many havarot as possible. Is there some logic to do this for Zachor and not for any other lainings and mitzvot? Among lainings, this is the (almost?) only one with a Torah-level obligation, which may warrant more strictness (see Yabia Omer, VI, Orach Chayim 11).
It may be different from the common Torah-level mitzvot involving speech. Most of them may be recited in any language, including Birkat Hamazon, Kri’at Shema, and tefilla (Sota 32a). Reciting a text in lashon hakodesh (halachically recognized Hebrew) with a different, recognized pronunciation is no worse than doing so in a different language (Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:154). In contrast, there seems to be an open question whether kri’at haTorah (see Berachot 13a), and especially Parashat Zachor (see Tosafot ad loc.), may be done in any language or only in lashon hakodesh. Thus, perhaps we have to be more careful about pronunciation in Parashat Zachor than Kri’at Shema for example.
However, besides the possibility that Parashat Zachor does not require lashon hakodesh at all, there are other reasons for leniency. The Magen Avraham (685, accepted by some) , says that one fulfills the mitzva of Zachor by reading the story of Amalek’s treachery from Parashat Beshalach. If no exact text is required to fulfill the mitzva, it is likely that the mitzva does not need to be performed in an exact manner but in one that gets the idea across.
Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC III,5) brings a strong proof that there is fundamental flexibility regarding havarot for mitzvot. The recitations that are part of chalitza must be recited in lashon hakodesh (Sota 32a). If the “wrong” havara is not a valid recitation, then if a woman did chalitza, with, for example, a Polish pronunciation, then a man from another eida would not be allowed to marry her. We should then be required to train women to do chalitza in many havarot to secure her future. Since this idea is not found in the poskim or practiced, we must count all havarot as lashon hakodesh.
The logic is that if this is the way people pronounce the words, it is considered a legitimate expression of the language. It is similar to the halacha (Megilla 24b) that one may not appoint a chazan who does not distinguish between the letters aleph and ayin (like almost all Ashkenazim), but it is permitted for the whole community to pronounce it that way (Mishna Berura 53:37). The approach that one is yotzei with a havara unlike one’s own is accepted by the great majority of poskim (see Yechaveh Da’at VI:19: Igrot Moshe ibid.; Moadim U’zmanim VI:97; Halichot Shlomo, Moadim I, 18:1; Yashiv Moshe [in the name of Rav Elyashiv] p. 11).Actually, many of these poskim recommend, as a chumra, to try to hear Parashat Zachor in one’s own havara. What they suggest, though, is to go to a shul of one’s eida, to make a separate Sephardi minyan in an Ashkenazi yeshiva for Zachor, and to make sure the ba’al korei conforms to the shul’s minhag. We do not find in writing a major posek suggesting doing multiple readings in the same minyan. Several (Teshuvot V’hanhagot ibid.; Halichot Shlomo ibid.; Aseh Lecha Rav VI:22) mention hearing of such a new practice and consider it strange. They reject it as being disrespectful to the tzibbur, to the rest of our lainings, and/or to past generations who did not do such things. I would not criticize a minyan that decides to do so anyway (some fine places do), and there are circumstances in which there is a stronger argument (e.g., there is no minyan in the area of other eidot), but it is wrong to criticize the normal minhag for not adopting this innovation.
Drinking during DaveningI showed my surprise to a serious young man who was drinking coffee during Shacharit. He said it helps him daven and is permitted. Can that be correct?
We are not discussing one with special physical/medical needs.
It is forbidden to eat before davening Shacharit (Berachot 10b), as derived (although it is probably Rabbinic) from “Do not eat on the blood” (Vayikra 19:26) – i.e., before you have prayed for your blood (=life). It is considered haughty to indulge in food before addressing Hashem, and therefore drinking water, which is not indulging, is permitted (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 89:3). Many Acharonim permit drinking coffee and tea, specifically when one needs it to concentrate on davening; adding flavor enhancers is questionable (see Mishna Berura 89:22).
Tefilla is supposed to be done with reverence and awe. Many halachot govern how one’s body, clothes, and surroundings must be at that time (see Shulchan Aruch, OC simanim 97-99). The height of tefilla is considered “standing before the shechina” (Rambam, Tefilla 4:16). Eating and drinking when in close contact with Hashem is considered a big chutzpa (see Shemot 24:11). Since this is antithetical to tefilla and a beit knesset is set aside for tefilla, it is forbidden to eat there (Shulchan Aruch, OC 151:1). The incongruity between eating and davening is behind the halacha of not eating even before davening. It seems obvious that eating in the midst of davening is worse than eating before. Therefore, even if one davens in a place where he may eat, e.g., at home, in a beit midrash (Rama ad loc.) or he follows the lenient minhag (see Be’ur Halacha ad loc.), he should not drink during davening.
One can deflect these conclusions. If drinking coffee is permitted before davening, then it is not halachic eating, and who says the halacha is stricter during davening than before? (The counter-argument is that it is only permitted before due to need, and if one can drink before davening, why let him drink during it?) Also, assuming it is forbidden during Shemoneh Esrei, who says P’sukei D’zimra’s lesser level of “meeting Hashem,” as a preparatory/introductory stage, carries the same weight (Rama, OC 89:3 may equate them)? Indeed, many of the halachot of tefilla refer only to Shemoneh Esrei (see Mishna Berura 97:3).
What do the sources say? There are many sources on drinking before davening; I did not find classical sources on this question. Why would there not be much discussion of the matter? It is either because: A) It is obvious that it shares the same halacha as eating before davening; B) It is obviously permitted; C) It is obviously forbidden; or D) Few people were interested in doing such a thing, for sociological or convenience reasons. Intuitively, I find A and B implausible. C seems logical (Chevel Nachalato 17:3 cites Rav Y. Ariel as saying it is forbidden). D is a possibility. It is very possible to combine C and D. Perhaps there is not a full-fledged issur, but sensitivity to shul and tefilla made it taboo. I spoke to many (Ashkenazi) decades-long shul attenders, none of whom can recall until recently healthy people drinking during P’sukei D’zimra and later. Those who need coffee, drink before davening. Then they enter shul, put on tefillin, and DAVEN ONLY. That is a very appropriate minhag even IF arguably not fully required. There are signs that some in the new generation view things differently. While they can be wonderful Jews and daveners, they would be pulling things in the wrong direction, according to several rabbanim (and non-rabbanim) I have discussed the topic with. Drinking while davening degrades the atmosphere of the shul in our eyes.In some Sephardic communities, it has been more common for at least decades to continue, during P’sukei D’zimra, drinking coffee begun earlier. The Yalkut Yosef (OC 51:3), while preferring to avoid on the grounds of possible hefsek (even if the beracha was done before), does not mention fundamental grounds. I pray that the Ashkenazi minhag of full opposition will survive.
Kaddish after An’im ZemirotIn my shul, at the end of An’im Zemirot, the chazan (child) does not say “Lecha Hashem hagedula …” I understand that it is not permitted to say Kaddish after a shir (song of praise) without p’sukim. Can you provide me with sources to prove this?
To start with, we at Eretz Hemdah basically agree with you. We wrote a teshuva (Bemareh Habazak VII:2) about whether it is proper to say a Kaddish at all after An’im Zemirot in a place where the minhag was not to but an avel wanted them to change the minhag, which he claimed was wrong. In footnote 4, we accepted the thesis to which you subscribe, that it is the p’sukim added (they were not in the original) to the end of the piyut that justify the saying of Kaddish.
In general, it is problematic to recite an unauthorized Kaddish. The Mishna Berura (55:1) compares saying too many Kaddishes to reciting too many berachot. However, we do not generally find in poskim discussing doubts about Kaddish indications of the same severity of an unnecessary Kaddish as we do regarding a questionable beracha.
Therefore, while we generally agree with you, we are hesitant to state as a simple fact that your shul’s (and we understand others as well) minhag is wrong. Therefore, we will see if we can be melamed z’chut on those who skip the p’sukim and recite the Kaddish.
We found a teshuva by Chief Rabbi David Lau in which he questions the thesis that the p’sukim recited at the end are there to justify the Kaddish. He points to the standard sources (see Mishna Berura 55:2) that state that for p’sukim to justify Kaddish there must be three p’sukim and that, after An’im Zemirot, only two p’sukim are recited. One can add to the apparent incongruence according to the Sha’arei Ephrayim (10:44 in a footnote) that the p’sukim need to be continuous (the ones after An’im Zemirot are from Divrei Hayamim and Tehillim, respectively). Therefore, Rav Lau posits that the reason for the Kaddish is that a major part of An’im Zemirot is based on adapted or reworded p’sukim.
One can claim there is a precedent for saying Kaddish after a shir without added p’sukim in Aleinu. Siddurim cite p’sukim there as well, yet the very broad minhag is to ignore them and recite Kaddish anyway, and perhaps a shir of this type is deserving of Kaddish in and of itself.
However, one can argue with these attempts to break the linkage between p’sukim recited after a shir and Kaddish. First, there are opinions that two p’sukim is enough (Beit David (Saloniki) 30); Bemareh Habazak ibid.; see Ishei Yisrael 15:(98)). The claim that the p’sukim must be consecutive is apparently not accepted. Regarding Aleinu, the Mishna Berura (132:10) points out that it has p’sukim mixed into it (three, albeit from different places in Tanach and interspersed in Aleinu). Therefore, it seems very likely that the p’sukim at the end of An’im Zemirot were intended to justify the Kaddish.
There is another factor which can work (at least if orchestrated well), even according to your assumption, in shuls that do not jointly recite “Lecha Hashem … .” What if, as is likely, some people in the shul do say the p’sukim even if the chazan does not? We have written about whether Kaddish can be recited after Pitum Haketoret when there are not ten people who recite it. The basic sources seem to indicate that six reciters justify Kaddish, even if the chazan did not recite the critical sections (see parallel case in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 69:1). While even one suffices when the Kaddish is classically required (see ibid.; Pri Megadim, OC, MZ 55:3), there is a machloket (see Magen Avraham 54:9; Aruch Hashulchan 55:9) whether a minority of a minyan suffices when the Kaddish is optional (as the one after An’im Zemirot is). So perhaps someone like you and another one or two who still recite the p’sukim before Kaddish suffice to justify the Kaddish.
So while the sources indicate that it is proper for shuls to recite the p’sukim after An’im Zemirot, shuls that do not make a point of reciting them also have whom and what to rely upon.
Speaking to The DeceasedIs there a proof from the gemara in Berachot 18b-19a that when people speak to the deceased in the cemetery, he hears and understands?
We will peruse some sources in Chazal and later authorities and try to arrive at a balanced approach.
It is a basic Jewish belief (see Rambam’s principles of faith) that a person’s soul exists after death. While basically static, receiving reward and punishment (see Ramban’s Sha’ar Hagemul), the soul is impacted by the actions of relatives and those doing good things to elevate their souls.
There are old Kabbalistic and other sources that visiting a loved one’s grave brings the deceased some sort of positive feeling (see Gesher Hachayim I, 29:1). Various texts (hashkava, certain pirkei Tehillim) are recommended; we have not found sources that talking to the deceased increases his nachat. There is an old minhag, followed by some and not others (we respect both groups) of placing a written invitation and/or orally notifying a deceased of an upcoming marriage of a close relative. This is a form of communication, but it is not a pillar of faith to believe or not believe that this makes the deceased happy or more likely to “attend” the wedding.
There is a halacha (Yoma 87a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 606:2) that seems to include “communication” with a deceased. If one (seriously) insulted someone who subsequently died, he should take ten people to the grave to beg forgiveness. One might claim that this proves that the deceased is aware of the request. However, the recommended language is: “I have sinned to Hashem, and to Ploni, whom I damaged.” It is unclear whether the deceased or Hashem is the one/One who needs to listen, or whether just making an admission in the deceased’s “presence” is the important thing.
The sugya to which you refer contains ostensibly instructive elements. The gemara contemplates whether the dead are aware of what is happening in the world and tries to prove it from stories in which live people found out information from the deceased during interactions with them. (The Beit Yosef, YD 179 deals with what separates these cases from forbidden practices of attempted communication with the dead, a topic we are not broaching here). This gemara, though, is not a proof that one can talk effectively to the deceased. Some commentaries (see Maharasha) understand that the living did not communicate but received information in dreams. Also, “sprinkled” through Rabbinic writings are stories of supernatural events, dealt with differently by various commentaries. In any case, we know not to treat something that happened once as something that happens all the time, so we cannot learn from such gemarot of what to expect in our experiences. To the extent that the deceased are able to understand those who visit, it does not necessarily mean that one needs to verbalize to get the message across (their ears do not work, and we are not experts as to the tools their souls use).A gemara (Sota 34a) tells (at least according to the literal reading) how Kalev spoke to the forefathers in Chevron and asked for their help. While some say one should only ask Hashem to help us in the merit of the tzaddikim (Mishna Berura 581:27) or use a burial place as a holy setting (Derashot Haran 8), others allow asking the deceased to beseech Hashem on behalf of those who visit and/or love them (see Gesher Hachayim I, 29:9; Pri Megadim, EA 581:16). Many good Jews have done so at kivrei tzaddikim and their relatives’ graves over the centuries. (One must be VERY CAREFUL NOT to daven TO the tzaddikim.) One who asks the deceased to pray need not believe that the deceased hear or how. One can “speak” to Avraham Avinu in English or to “Mama Rochel” in Yiddish. It is possible (we do not know) that contemplation and/or set tefillot have the same results. (When we enunciate during tefilla, it is not because we believe that Hashem needs that to “hear us.”) It is important that the experience be healthy for the visitor and respectful to Hashem, who decides everything.
Frozen Challa for Lechem MishnehMay we use a frozen challa for lechem mishneh on Shabbat?
We will start by removing the main suspense: the one-word answer is clearly, “Yes.” After seeing why, we will see why some prefer avoiding the situation and weigh certain factors and distinctions.
The gemara (Berachot 39b) says that on Shabbat, one needs to start the meals with two loaves of bread, based on the pasuk (Shemot 16:22) regarding the double portion of manna that fell in the desert. The gemara then says that Rav Kahana would hold two loaves [during the beracha] but only cut off bread from one of them. Rabbi Zeira, it continues, would cut into the “whole sheiruta.” Rashi (ad loc.) explains that this means that his first cut was enough challa for the whole meal. The Rashba (ad loc.) says that it means that R. Zeira would cut bread from each of the loaves.
It does not seem that the Rashba understood R. Zeira’s practice as being a halachic requisite, and in any case, the accepted opinion is that of Rashi, that the preference is to cut a big piece but of only one loaf (Rambam 7:3; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 274:1). Several Acharonim (see Yabia Omer, VIII, OC 32) understand that according to Rashi’s approach, only one loaf is there for eating, whereas the second one is just for a reminder of the miracle in the desert. Accordingly, the second one does not need to be fit to eat from a practical perspective.
There is a machloket whether we go as far as saying that it does not have to be ready to be eaten at all. For example, some say (see Tzitz Eliezer XIV:40) that one can even use matza for lechem mishneh on Erev Pesach even though one is not allowed to eat matza at that time. The Pri Megadim (MZ 274:2) suggests that even one who does not usually eat bread baked by a non-Jewish bakery could count it for the second loaf of lechem mishneh.
On the other hand, some poskim prefer not to use frozen challa for lechem mishneh. The Shevet Halevi (VI:31) opines that if there is an opinion that instructs to actually cut from both loaves then everyone agrees that it should at least to be fit to eat. The Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (55:(39)) cites Rav SZ Auerbach as saying that it is likely that it needs to be fit to eat at some type during the meal (the Shevet Halevi above seems to assume that the loaf would not be defrosted by meal’s end). Therefore, it seem that if one uses a pita or a roll, which will defrost within fifteen minutes or so, the consensus should be that it is totally fine.
One could ask that regarding a large loaf, as well, even if it takes more than an hour to defrost, the outer layer should defrost quicker, and the minimum size of a challa is only a k’zayit. The stringent leaning poskim probably assume that since people do not eat challa by peeling off the outside, the challa would have to be mainly defrosted (this distinction may be implicit in the Rambam, Shabbat 9:4).
Another distinction to consider is whether seuda shlishit is different from the other meals. In the direction of stringency, it is usually a shorter meal, therefore giving less time for defrosting, especially since for many it has a set finish time – before the standard time for Ma’ariv. It is even possible to argue that at that point of the day, if it does not count toward lechem mishneh, it is muktzeh. (The Tzitz Eliezer ibid. discusses this correlation, but says that it is fit for lechem mishneh and therefore not muktzeh; Mishneh Halachot XI:197 rejects the possibility of muktzeh). On the other hand, there is more room for leniency because it is unclear that lechem mishneh is needed at seuda shlishit (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 291:4-5).
In short, when there is a need, frozen lechem mishneh is valid, but there is some halachic logic to avoid it if it will not defrost during the meal. Yabia Omer (ibid.) said that it is preferable to borrow a challa from a neighbor and return it. Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (55:(43)) has a slight reservation whether it is considered fit for him to eat if he lacks permission to eat and not return it.
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