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Lighting Candles when Staying at Another’s HouseI am traveling to the US on Chanuka; my wife will be staying home. When I will be staying with family and/or friends, can/should I light there regularly?
The gemara (Shabbat 23a) states that an achsenai (guest) is obligated in Chanuka lighting. It then tells of Rav Zeira as a guest, who as a single man, would pay a small sum toward the homeowner’s oil/lighting to be included in his lighting, and as a married man would fulfill the mitzva with his wife’s lighting at home. This ostensibly gives you two valid options – 1. Fulfill your mitzva with your wife’s lighting in your house; 2. Give money to your host so that his lighting counts for you. We add the option you suggest: 3. Light yourself at your host’s house. We will investigate each before summarizing.
Wife lighting – The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 677:1) confirms that a traveler can fulfill the mitzva with his wife’s lighting, but does not say if this is best. The Terumat Hadeshen (I:101) recommended, based on the idea of mehadrin, i.e., it is proper that everyone lights their own candles, that the traveling husband also lights where he is with a beracha. The Maharshal )Shut 85) says that if one knows his wife is lighting at home and he thereby fulfills his mitzva, he cannot choose to light with a beracha. Although we allow, based on mehadrin, the children of the house to light after their father already lit, which can fulfill their mitzva, many posit that mehadrin does not apply to a husband and a wife, because they form a more cohesive unit (Eliya Rabba 671:3). On the other hand, some say that this cohesiveness is only when they are together (see Terumat Hadeshen ibid.; Am Mordechai, Mo’ed 24).
A major factor, which was once rare and not discussed by early poskim, is the matter of time zones. When your wife lights, it will be the previous daytime for you, when you are not obligated in lighting. When your obligation comes along, can you say that you already fulfilled the mitzva, before the mitzva applied where you were, because it was the right time for your house (and for your wife)? In Living the Halachic Process VI, D-8, we referred to a major machloket on the matter, and leaned toward the opinion that it does not work (see Minchat Yitzchak VII:46).
Contributing toward the hosts – The aforementioned gemara and Shulchan Aruch confirm that this works when he joins up with the household of the home in which he is presently staying. Most say that the money is to acquire a part in the oil that will be lit, and therefore if he is given permission to lift it up (a kinyan) and acquire some, it suffices without paying (Mishna Berura 677:3).
Lighting yourself: There are opinions that it is better if the guest lights on his own than to rely on his part with the homeowner (ibid.). In Sha’ar Hatziyun (ad loc. 10), he explains that it is in deference to the opinion that, given that nowadays everyone lights, if the guest does not light separately, it looks as if he is not taking part in the lighting. However, it is far from clear that such a technical rationale for a separate lighting would justify a beracha. It is true that when all the members of the household light, all make a beracha even though they could be yotzei with the head of the household, but this might be because they have kavana not to be yotzei with those who lit before them (Shut R. Akiva Eiger II:13). While you could do this also, having in mind not to be yotzei would be risky. Not all agree that you can fulfill the mitzva yourself since you are not a member of the household (see Am Mordechai ibid. in the name of Rav Soloveitchik).
Recommendation: Give the peruta to your hosts and have in mind to be yotzei with the lighting and berachot done there. Light again, using the berachot to which you answered amen as the berachot for your lighting (without speaking between the berachot and your lighting), in case such a lighting is a worthwhile additional act of Chanuka lighting (see Mishna Berura 677:16).
Making Sure your Check Is CashedI owed someone (=Reuven) 2,000 NIS, and he asked to give him an “open check” (i.e., payee left open), which he would give to someone else (=Shimon). I do not know whom or why. A couple of months have gone by, and the check has not been cashed. I believe that if Reuven, with whom I have a great relationship, had lost it, he would have told me. Assuming he already got his value from it, must I find out why Shimon has not cashed it, remind him, and/or replace the check, or, after paying my debt to Reuven’s satisfaction, Shimon is not my concern?
There are three approaches to how to view to the halachic significance of giving a check. 1) Since it is generally forbidden to cancel a check, a check is like money (Igrot Moshe, Choshen Mishpat II:15). 2) A check is a self-obligation of the check writer (drawer), to the payee or to anyone if it is an open check (Minchat Yitzchak V:119); 3) The check is no more than an order that the drawer gives to a financial institution to give money to the payee (Shevet Halevi VII:222). The starkest difference between #2 and #3 is whether, if the drawer cancels the check, the obligation to pay still exists. (From a technical perspective, banks usually allow one to cancel the check, but the legal system needs to be convinced he was justified to do so.) #3 is definitely the direct meaning of the check. As they are used in today’s society, the more accepted approach is #2, that it is not considered money, but that the drawer obligates himself to pay whoever uses it legally (see Pitchei Choshen, Halva’ah 10:(21); Shirat Devora II, CM 23).
(Almost) all agree that if one gave a check to one whom he owed and it got destroyed, he has to replace it. Even if one conceptually views a check like money, it is significantly different from real money in this context. If Levi pays Yehuda with cash, the payment is immediately usable, whereas a check needs to be cashed or transferred first. More significantly, if Levi feels bad and wants to pay money again, it will be an outright loss for him. But if Levi writes Yehuda a personal check and it was destroyed, the money was never drawn from Levi’s bank account as planned, and Levi is no worse off than he planned (except the price of a check) if he writes another one. So, if Reuven did not transfer the check to Shimon, you should enable him to do so.
If Reuven already gave the check to Shimon, you could argue that since you do not owe Shimon, it is not your responsibility to make sure he receives the money. However, this is apparently wrong. The mitzva to return a lost object is not limited to physical objects but applies broadly to help someone out regarding his property (Shulchan Aruch, CM 259:9), and therefore enabling Shimon to use the check he received should be included. While it is true that one does not have to lose money returning a lost object (see Shulchan Aruch Harav, Aveida 33), and here you will be “out” 2,000 NIS, having money you were obligated to give taken from your account is not a loss (see Tosafot, Bava Kama 58a).
Even if we did not view a check as creating an obligation, if Reuven owed Shimon, then through a rule called shibudda d’Rabbi Natan, you, who owed Reuven, would be considered as owing Shimon (Shulchan Aruch, CM 86:1). Although the application here is complicated (see ibid. 2), it is wrong for you to divorce yourself from this obligation.
There is a machloket (K’tzot Hachoshen 104:2 and Netivot Hamishpat 104:1) whether the mitzva to pay a debt starts when the debt is due, or only when the creditor requests payment. However, this refers to the timing of payment and does not allow one to try to benefit from the creditor’s oversight. Therefore, while you need not act quickly (especially because someone will probably cash the check), at some point you would have to inquire with Reuven if you need to do anything to ensure everyone gets what they deserve. (We are not addressing how to defend your right to make sure you do not end up paying twice or the rules of when it is legal to give open checks.)
Paying a Babysitter for Work on ShabbatWe need a babysitter for a few hours on Shabbat. Is there a problem paying her for Shabbat work?
S’char Shabbat (pay for permitted services one provided on Shabbat) is forbidden Rabbinically like other commercial activity, lest one come to write (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 306:4; Mishna Berura ad loc. 16). The direct prohibition is on the worker receiving pay (therefore, a Jew may pay a non-Jew but may not be paid by a non-Jew), but it is forbidden to give money to one who may not receive it (Mishna Berura 306:21).
The most common way to allow receiving money for work done on Shabbat is through havla’ah. That means having the Shabbat-related money “swallowed up” by combining it with weekday pay, as pay for a period of work that includes Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch ibid.; Nedarim 37a-b).
Poskim point out that “havla’ah units” are determined not by payment installments but by the period of employment. The period of employment is the time during which there is a commitment to continue the employer-employee relationship. We have dealt In the past (see Living the Halachic Process, vol. V, C-19) with a youth leader, whose employment unit is a year, in which case it is not difficult to give the leader some responsibilities during the week, within the course of the year.
This does not naturally work for the average babysitter, who is hired for an individual time period, which in this case, is entirely on Shabbat (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 28:58; Orchot Shabbat 22:94). However, poskim (ibid.; ibid. (146)) allow one to create a permitted merging of employment units in the following manner. When agreeing upon her working on Shabbat, commit to each other that she will also work in the future during the week. The Orchot Shabbat describes the commitment as being absolute, so that even if you would not want to use her again, you would still have to pay for the second time. The Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata suffices with an expectation of continuing employment so that if one backs out, the other would have a grievance on the other. It is possible that the difference is that the former refers to artificially creating another, single babysitting session, which then must be binding. In contrast, the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata is referring to a naturally ongoing relationship over a period of time, which also may explain why he permits even calculating the pay based on the exact hours worked on Shabbat.
If you do not have a commitment to an ongoing employment relationship with the babysitter, the above approach can be somewhat complex. Therefore, we present a different form of havla’ah, which can be accomplished at one time. There is a famous heter to pay waiters for their work on Shabbat by requiring them to also work before and/or after Shabbat (see Mishna Berura 306:21). Some also use this system to pay a chazan for Yamim Noraim, by having him be chazan for Selichot as well (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 28:(144)). In this case, you can arrange it by having her prepare something, in a way that could only be done before Shabbat (e.g., a game, a picture), to be used along with the babysitting. It does not suffice for the preparation to be theoretical or possible, but obligatory work that is time-consuming enough to warrant pay (Orchot Shabbat 22:90). Another form is for her to bring food for the kids, so that payment due for its price creates havla’ah that covers the babysitting. This is learned from the Noda B’yehuda (II, OC 26) who justified a mikveh operator taking money for the service they provide on Shabbat, as the compensation they deserve for the wood fuel they provide creates a havla’ah.
There is a machloket whether one can take money for providing a mitzva service on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, OC 306:5). While babysitting in and of itself is not considered a mitzva (see Nedarim 37a), if she is hired to enable parents to do a mitzva, it would count as mitzva work (see Bemareh Habazak III:36). However, the havla’ah system, if done properly, is a broader and more clearly accepted leniency.
Mezuza for a Storage RoomI am moving into an apartment and want to know whether the storage room (in the building’s basement) requires a mezuza.
We will start with the basic question – whether a room used for storage is considered “beitecha” (your home – see Devarim 6:9). The gemara (Yoma 11a-b) cites conflicting opinions about whether various areas in one’s property that are not for classic “living purposes” require a mezuza. These include animal pens and storage places for straw, wood, and general items. The gemara also raises the possibility that it depends on whether more classic living needs are also performed there. The Rif (Mezuza 6a) and Rosh (Mezuza 15) accept as halacha the opinions that mezuzot are required in such places. In contrast, the Rambam (Mezuza 6:7) says that only with additional, personal use of the room does one require a mezuza. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 286:2) rules like the majority opinion that it is necessary to attach a mezuza to the entrance of a storage room unless it is also used for disgraceful activity.
Nevertheless, the Aruch Hashulchan (YD 286:9) reasons (although he is inconclusive regarding practice) that because of the machloket on the matter, one should not make a beracha for such a room. This is also the ruling of Yalkut Yosef (YD 285:28) and the leaning of Chovat Hadar 2:(11), although the latter does not fault one who attaches a mezuza there with a beracha (ibid.). In a case of doubt regarding whether a beracha is appropriate for a certain room, the preferred system to use is to attach the mezuza after attaching one to a place that certainly requires one, with the intention that the beracha goes on both mezuzot (see Shach, YD 286:23).
That which makes the halacha regarding storage rooms is unclear is likely because in one’s daily activities, one does not frequent such a room, as putting things in and taking out of storage are periodical rather than ongoing actions (see Derisha, YD 286:2). It seems clear that a room used just for a family’s refrigerator would require a mezuza because that type of short-term storage is considered part of normal living. In contrast, in a place where one stores objects long term and a very long time goes by between times entering it, it should be exempt from a mezuza. However, most cases of storage rooms likely fit within the gray area that is governed by the opinions presented above (see Chovat Hadar 2:(12)).
Other factors could possibly make a mezuza unnecessary for a storage room. The minimum size for a house that needs a mezuza is four amot (somewhere between 6 and 8 ft.); less than this is not considered a house regarding several relevant halachot (Sukka 3a). The Rosh (ibid. 16) posits that both its length and width have to be at least 4 amot. Most early sources understand the Rambam (ibid. 2) as saying that it suffices that the room’s area be 16 sq. amot, even if one dimension is less than 4 amot, and the Shach (286:23) treats the matter as a doubt. According to these rules, many storage rooms may be too small to require a mezuza. (The whole space does not need to be traversable, as boxes that are placed there do not reduce the halachic size, since they can be moved (Mikdash Me’at 286:40). Even if shelves are permanently attached to the wall, if it is used for the room’s purpose (storage), it does not reduce the room’s size (see Chovat Hadar 4:(21)).)
The Pitchei Teshuva (YD 286:11) cites an opinion that a room whose size makes sense for the purpose for which it is used requires a mezuza even if it is less than four amot. While it is difficult to ignore this opinion (see Minchat Yitzchak I:8), it is not clear we accept it and its application is not always clear. Therefore a small storage room would raise further doubt whether a mezuza is necessary and certainly further reason not to make a beracha if attaching a mezuza (see Chovat Hadar 4:(16)).
In summary, regarding most storage rooms, there is doubt whether they require a mezuza, and attaching one there without a separate beracha is the best way to go.
Correcting Praise about RainAt a time of year when we do not mention rain in Shemoneh Esrei’s second beracha, the chazan started saying “Mashiv haruach …” People called out to him “morid hatal,” and right after he said “… hagashem,” he added “morid hatal” and continued. Was that valid?
One who says “morid hagashem” in the summer must go back (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 114:4), because we must not praise Hashem for rain when it is “a curse” (in Israel) (see Ta’anit 3b with Rashi). Although there are different opinions among Rishonim what the gemara means by making him go back (see Mordechai, Ta’anit 612; Rambam, Tefilla 10:8), we pasken that it means going to the beginning of the beracha. (If he went on to the next beracha, then it is to the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei (Shulchan Aruch ibid.).)
There are two explanations of why to return to the beginning of the beracha. 1) The incorrect beracha was valueless, making starting again fundamentally necessary (Korban Netanel, Ta’anit 1:1). 2) If one continues, there is no way of showing that he regrets mentioning rain; by going back and omitting it where it is mentioned, he shows he takes back mentioning it (Mordechai ibid.; Ma’adanei Yom Tov, Berachot 4:14). One apparent nafka mina is whether it is enough to go back to the words before the place to mention rain (rav l’hoshi’a), where he can omit rain this time but it is not a full redoing of the beracha. Indeed, the Chayei Adam (I,24:6) says that while it is proper to go back to the beginning, it suffices to go back to “rav l’hoshi’a.” Your case is likely another nafka mina for those (Sephardim, Chassidim, as well as Ashkenazim in Israel) who say morid hatal in the summer. Although dew is not “rain negating” (after all, we ask for it along with rain in Barech Aleinu in the winter), the fact that it is the formula for the summer can make it sufficiently clear that he regrets mentioning rain. Therefore, Tehilla L’dovid (114:4) says it suffices (at least b’dieved) for such people to say morid hatal instead of going back to the beginning of the beracha. In fact, the Be’ur Halacha (to 117:3) says that one who said v’ten tal u’matar (in the ostensibly parallel Barech Aleinu; Shevet Halevi (VI:16) says they are not comparable in our context) in the summer and went back to say “v’ten beracha” fixed the beracha. Possible support for the position that the beracha is not inherently flawed is the fact that one does not need to go back to the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei (see Pri Megadim, Eshel Avraham 114:9).
Despite all of this, several Acharonim posit that if one only went back to “morid hatal,” he has not fulfilled his requirement. The Shevet Halevi (ibid.) says that going back, even right away, does not suffice to erase the damage done, and starting the beracha anew is necessary, and this is Ohr L’tzion’s (II:7:29) bottom line as well. L’horot Natan VI:6 questions some of our assumptions, such as that going back to beginning requires the very first words, and that for those who say morid hatal it is an effective sign of retraction. Since there are formidable opinions on both sides, if one just added morid hatal and then finished the beracha, the matter is a doubt (Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:84). While generally it could be at least laudable to do another Shemoneh Esrei, with intention that if it is unnecessary, it should be an optional tefilla (Shulchan Aruch, OC 107:1). One cannot use this ploy on Shabbat, as optional tefillot are not possible then (ibid.).
The above relates primarily to a mistake made in the silent Shemoneh Esrei. While fundamentally the same rules apply to chazarat hashatz (Mishna Berura 126:3), a few factors are impactful. It is a true tircha d’tzibbura and embarrassment to the chazan to repeat chazarat hashatz because of the improperly corrected mistake. Additionally, since you describe the people calling out “morid hatal” as he started his mistake prompting the chazan to change course, it is clearer that he was taking back the mention of rain and one can rely on the opinions that morid hatal suffices.
Sharing Kaddish in a Mourner’s HouseI am saying Kaddish and recently went to a shiva house for tefilla. After I said a Kaddish with the aveilim, someone told me only the aveil(im) in shiva may do so in a shiva house. Is he right?
First we need to understand the stands on the question of whether all aveilim recite Kaddish or whether only one person is chosen (see rules in Be’ur Halacha, Orach Chayim 132) for each Kaddish. Until around 200 years ago, most Ashkenazi communities had one reciter, whereas the long-standing Sephardi minhag is for all to recite it. When concerns over quarreling between aveilim started changing Ashkenazi minhag, some of the poskim opposing change wrote teshuvot (see Shut Chatam Sofer I:159; Shut Binyan Tzion 122) pointing out the advantages of the old approach. (Their arguably biggest reason – not to change communal minhagim – is a non-issue in places where the minhag has been changed long ago.)
The main “halachic” reason to leave Kaddish to one person is the rule that two voices cannot be heard simultaneously sufficiently clearly (see Rosh Hashana 27a), which is a problem here because the tzibbur needs to hear and respond to the Kaddish said on behalf of the group (see Tzitz Eliezer XIV, 13). There is much to discuss but it does not affect your question, as it applies equally in a shul as in a beit ha’aveil.
The relevant question is whether additional reciters take away from the impact of one who would be reciting it alone. If yes, it is logical to argue that it was one thing to provide multiple year-long aveilim with parallel rights in the public domain more opportunities to get a lower benefit of saying Kaddish, and thereby also avoid quarreling. However, to go into the house of (a) specific aveil[im] in shiva, with unique, urgent spiritual needs, could be wrong.
We thus need to understand the power of Kaddish. There are four main explanations: 1) Leading/prompting the congregation who answer Kaddish brings merit to one’s deceased parent (Shut Chatam Sofer I:159). 2) Reciting Kaddish sanctifies Hashem’s Name, which is credited to the reciter’s parent (see Tzitz Eliezer ibid.). 3) Acknowledging Hashem’s greatness when focused on a death is a tzidduk hadin (accepting divine justice), which enables the death to atone for sins and/or fights off the mourner’s questioning of Hashem’s justice (Gesher Hachayim I:30:4). According to the latter reasons, the joint recitation of others with the shiva house aveil does not take away from Kaddish’s power and benefit. However, according to the Chatam Sofer’s reason, if many say Kaddish together, why should the main aveil be considered the minyan’s Kaddish facilitator? Thus, what you were told makes some sense.
However, the broad minhag is to not preclude others from saying Kaddish along with the aveilim. Therefore, you had a right to say Kaddish and not “sacrifice” your deceased’s benefit and your obligations toward him or her because of the possibility of taking away from the shiva house aveil. This is the way a community works in balancing competing needs. The shiva house aveilim have joined the “brotherhood” of Kaddish reciters, in which cooperation and mutual understanding is crucial. They may have their opportunities to continue reciting Kaddish in the coming year at other people’s shiva houses.
This being said, if the mourners themselves made a request, one should follow it. The emotional needs of the people in shiva are foremost even if their request is not ideal. You would then be justified to daven in a place where you can say Kaddish, assuming the shiva house will not have minyan problems.
In any case, it behooves other Kaddish reciters to be sensitive about another point in the Chatam Sofer (ibid.). Possibly the Kaddish reciter who is most audible and/or first to saying “v’imru amen” gets Kaddish’s main benefit. Therefore, it is good middot for visiting reciters to tone down the recitation so that it is clear that the minyan’s main focus is the shiva house aveil, whether this gives a spiritual or at least a psychological benefit to him.
Mother’s Name for Prayers for Ill ConvertI asked a friend who needs tefillot for her health what her name is for such purposes, and she answered, Shira bat Avraham Avinu. I knew she was a convert but wondered if this is the correct formula, as usually we use the mother’s name.
We have not found a halachic discussion of this interesting point. We will start by understanding the practice of using the mother’s name for tefillot. There are possible allusions to this in Chazal. In Shabbat (66b), Abaye quotes his adoptive mother as saying, according to Rashi’s explanation, that incantations should use the person’s mother’s name.
The gemara in Berachot (55b), describing steps to take when one is in a certain precarious situation, cites a declaration, including “I, ploni son of plonit (according to some texts of the gemara).” Some explain (see opinions in Yabia Omer II, Orach Chayim 11) that we are more likely to know for sure who one’s mother is than who his father is (apparently, we do not want to take chances). The Sifra (Emor 1:5) uses this distinction to explain why the Torah mentions both parents when allowing a kohen to take part in their burial. The Ben Yehoyada (Berachot 55b) considers that “concern” a disgrace to one’s father and gives several areas, spiritual and physical, in which a mother’s impact on her child is greater than a father’s, as well as the contention that a mother is likely to have fewer spiritual liabilities. The Panim Yafot (Bamidbar 12) sees Moshe’s mention of a baby coming out of his mother’s womb in his prayer for Miriam as inspiration for using a mother’s name in prayers.
Yabia Omer (ibid.) posits that all of the above can only create a preference for our formula, but that it does not make a true difference. He points to the gemara’s (Berachot 34a) derivation from Moshe’s prayer for Miriam that one does not have to mention the relevant person’s name at all. While the Magen Avraham (see Mishna Berura 119:2) limits this to cases when the prayer is in the subject’s presence, we still see that an exact name formula is not crucial for efficacy. Therefore, if one does not know the mother’s name or there is another reason not to use it, the father’s name is fine.
Regarding many halachot and as part of the philosophy of conversion, the convert is no longer linked to his biological parents (see Yevamot 97b). Therefore, we would not use your friend’s biological mother for this identification. Perhaps you were thinking of using Sarah Imeinu, as indeed she was also a leader in the field of conversion, at least regarding women (see Bereishit Rabba 39:14) as well as a matriarch for all Jews, which might be important regarding one without a halachically recognized mother.
However, Avraham and Sarah are probably not of the same ilk in our context. There is a machloket whether converts can make the declaration of bikkurim, which includes the phrase “the land that you gave to our fathers.” In explaining the opinion that he can (which we accept – Rambam, Bikkurim 4:3), the Yerushalmi (Bikkurim 1:4) cites Hashem’s proclamation to Avraham: “… for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations,” which is brought as the source for calling a convert “ben Avraham (Avinu)” (Mishna Berura 139:11). While Sarah was an important spiritual mentor in her time and is a matriarch of Bnei Yisrael, we do not have sources of this magnitude regarding being a mother figure for faith seekers from all nations.
Therefore, it would seem that your friend told you her name correctly. As far as whether to add in the word Avinu (to distinguish from the many Avrahams who live in our times), when the name’s use is of halachic significance (e.g., a get), Avraham Avinu is used (Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 129:20). Regarding aliyot, where the name is less crucial, many use just Avraham to not embarrass the convert or put his status in the spotlight (see possible hint in Rama, OC 139:3). We have seen above that exactness in the name is not very important for prayers (Hashem knows who is intended), and the convert can do it however she wants.
Taking Over as Chazan after YishtabachI was supposed to take over as chazan at Yishtabach, but I absentmindedly said Yishtabach quietly as the previous chazan was finishing Az Yashir. I quickly asked him to say Yishtabach and Chatzi Kaddish, after which I took over. Was this appropriate?
Given your mistake, there were a few potential options to consider (besides telling your friend to continue), which we evaluate and compare.
Your apparent assumption that Yishtabach leads straight into Kaddish has some basis. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 53:1) instructs the chazan to stand by the amud before Yishtabach so he can go straight into Kaddish (see Mishna Berura 53:1). However, the connection is more between P’sukei D’zimra (which Yishtabach concludes) and Kaddish than Yishtabach itself, as the following halacha illustrates. When there is an acute need to speak in the midst of Shacharit, which is permitted between Yishtabach and Kaddish, it is necessary to recite a few p’sukim of Psukei D’zimra to justify the upcoming Kaddish (Rama, OC 54:3). Although the break was long enough to divorce that which preceded the break from Kaddish, it is permitted, necessary, and sufficient to say some p’sukim and not to repeat Yishtabach.
Even to the extent that there is some importance to connecting specifically Yishtabach to Kaddish, the important thing is probably the tzibbur’s connection, irrespective of the chazan’s recitation. We see this, to a great extent, when a new chazan starting at Ashrei recites Kaddish (Titkabel) on a different chazan’s chazarat hashatz (see Divrei Sofrim, Yoreh Deah 376:103). There was even a minhag, cited and approved of by the Rav Pe’alim (II, OC 14), that after the chazan finishes Yishtabach, mourners (even one who didn’t say Yishtabach) recite Chatzi Kaddish.
The Pri Megadim (EA 52:1) posits that, classically, a chazan recites out loud all of Yishtabach, which enables people to be yotzei with him. The Chelek Levi (OC 31) says that our chazanim, who start at “Berachot v’hoda’ot …,” do not serve as full chazanim with all their halachot. One application of this distinction is relates to the halacha that when a chazan is replaced in the middle of tefilla, the new chazan must go back to the beginning of the unit (Shulchan Aruch, OC 126:2). In theory this applies to the berachot of Kriat Shema, but the Mishna Berura (59:29) points out that nowadays when everyone davens for themselves, the chazan functions more as a pace setter than a real chazan and he does not need to go back. So too here, we do not have use a halachic chazan for Yishtabach. For all of these reasons, you could have and should have either started with Kaddish without ending off Yishtabach again or had your friend finish Yishtabach and you recite Kaddish. (The first way would have made it easier to avoid speaking to explain yourself, at a time when speaking is permitted only for special needs.)
Let us now analyze what you apparently assumed, i.e., that making a switch between Kaddish and Barchu is better because they are not as connected as Yishtabach and Kaddish. We saw that Kaddish relates to Psukei D’zimra. In contrast, we repeat Barchu for those who missed even when not preceded by Kaddish. On the other hand, Kaddish and Barchu are quite linked. Classically, Kaddish goes with Barchu (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 69:1). Also we prefer to speak when critical between Yishtabach and Kaddish rather than between Kaddish and Barchu (Rama, OC 54:3; see the hesitation on the matter in Darchei Moshe, OC 54:1). In short, it was unnecessary and slightly unfortunate to do the switch after Kaddish, but you did not ruin anything.
You were right not to wait until after Barchu. The Beit Yosef and Darchei Moshe (to OC 69) disagree to what extent Barchu with its response is self-standing. Although it is not unanimous (see Sdei Chemed, vol. VII, p. 337), there is reason to look at Barchu as the beginning of Yotzer Ohr, making it a less logical time to switch. However, due to the chazan’s limited functionality at these points, this too would not have ruined anything.
Traveling to a Place without a SukkaIs it proper to go on a trip to a place where one does not know that he will have access to a sukka?
The gemara (Sukka 26a) exempts from sitting in a sukka those who travel for mitzvot and even travelers for other purposes, but whereas the former are exempt day and night, travelers for optional matters are exempt only during the time of the day they are traveling. Tosafot (ad loc.) explains that whereas the mitzva exemption is one application of a broad exemption from mitzvot for those involved in other mitzvot, the traveler exemption is based on a concept unique to sukka – teishvu, k’ein taduru. This means that because the sukka should replace your house, things that one regularly does outside his house are not required to be done in the sukka. Therefore, travelers, who do not eat in their home, do not have to eat in a sukka. The Rama (Orach Chayim, 640:8) understands this leniency for a non-mitzva traveler to allow him to travel even if he will not have a sukka during his night stopover.
How is the traveler expected to seek a sukka? The Magen Avraham (640:15) says he is to build one, if one is not available at his stopping point. The Levush (OC 640:8) considers it beyond normal expectations (see Rama, OC 640:4) to toil so much as to build a sukka there. He posits that his obligation is to try to get access to a local sukka. The Biur Halacha (to 640:8) agrees with the Levush, as the Rama implies. Based on the basic sources, then, seemingly one may travel, as is a normal thing to do, and eat along the way outside a sukka, and if he stays in a place with a sukka, he should just seek one out if possible.
In recent times, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC III:93) claimed that the gemara referred to cases of commercial trips, but pleasure trips, which are not a reasonable need, have no leniency. (See Shulchan Aruch, OC 539:5 regarding when commerce is permitted on chol hamo’ed). Rav Feinstein raises another issue. Even if under the circumstances, one is exempt from sukka, Hashem looks critically upon those who put themselves in situations that obviate mitzva obligation, e.g., one who wears clothing that does not require tzitzit (Menachot 41a). Rav Moshe reasoned this applies here as well.
Normally, we react negatively to distinctions that go against setimat haposkim. In other words, if this common exemption were limited, earlier poskim should have pointed this out. Indeed, Rav Elyashiv’s (see Dirshu 640:41) posits that recreational travelers also have the fundamental exemption. However, in this case, lack of precedent is a weaker argument than usual because until recent times, people rarely traveled recreationally away from their vicinity. Then, arguably, this case did not come up, and the assumption could have been that the traveler’s exemption applied only to a standard need, i.e., a financial or other pressing one.
On the other hand, the sociological pendulum has turned some examples of recreation into a necessity of life, as for very many, Sukkot “glued to” around the home is a lost family opportunity. Many bnei Torah shorten summer holidays to be home (part of) chol hamoed (see Living the Halachic Process I,D-9). It is thus no light matter (sometimes on a par with financial loss) to curtail the opportunity to spend it in a memorable way with the family due to concern about the sukka. Rav Elyashiv (ibid.) is cited as distinguishing between this and avoiding tzitzit, as that is a problem when one does something unnatural and/or on an ongoing basis to get out of the mitzva.
Rav Elyashiv advised, as did Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechaveh Da’at III:47), to use this exemption sparingly, and we would identify the following parameters as part of broad guidance: 1. How important is the recreational trip? 2. Does it have alternatives in places with a sukka or close enough to make it home to eat? 3. How long will the sukka hiatus be? Rav M. Willig suggested the following compromise: take the trip but look for a sukka, and if one cannot find one, eat things that do not require a sukka.
Does Pruzbol Ruin the Ability to Fulfill Shemittat Kesafim?My community has a project that in our pruzbol (=prz – a mechanism to obviate shemittat kesafim (=sk)), one excludes a loan given through a gemach, upon which we fulfill the mitzva of sk (voiding loans at the end of Shemitta). Why can’t the prz apply to everything, and I still fulfill the mitzva by voluntarily waiving my right to payment of the loan of my choice?
Various contemporary “projects” tap into the concept of sk, allowing the forgiving of certain loans. The systems can have two focuses: 1. Helping borrowers with debt burden, as Halacha did before prz was instituted. 2. Fulfilling the mitzva of sk. We applaud #1 without halachic analysis; your question focuses on #2.
Two main questions affect your question: A. What does sk entail? B. How does prz effectively neutralize sk?
Most Rishonim (see Mordechai, Gittin 380; Minchat Asher, Devarim 19) view sk as automatically erasing debt, after which the lender must not ask for a debt that no longer exists. The Yereim (164) champions another approach – the debt still exists, but the Torah demands the lender to waive payment. The Rosh (Gittin 4:20) posits that during Shemitta, the debt exists, but the lender may not demand it; at the end of the year, the debt is cancelled. The various approaches are tested by the gemara (Gittin 37b) discussing the proper exchange between borrower and lender without a prz. The borrower offers payment; the lender proclaims “meshamet ani” (app., I accept the cancelling of my rights to loan payment); the borrower says “even so [I want to pay] … it is my [money], but I am giving it to you as a present.”
The gemara (Gittin 36b) posits that in our days, the Torah law of sk does not apply, but the Rabbis instituted it as a “remembrance of the Mikdash.” When Hillel saw this caused people to refuse to lend money, he instituted prz to provide a mechanism for ensured payment despite Shemitta.
Some say that prz is a way to “hand over one’s documents to beit din”, which obviates even Torah-level sk (see Tosafot, Gittin 36a). This is because, on some level, it makes the debt be considered collected already (see Ran, Gittin 19b of Rif’s pages) and/or because the lender is not collecting himself, but beit din is in charge of it (Rambam, Shemitta 9:15). Some see the prz as a direct creation of the Rabbis based on their control over the Jewish community’s finances (see Gittin ibid.; Yalkut Biurim ad loc. (176)). Others see the prz as an alternative means of remembering the laws of sk (Hitorerut Teshuva I:151).
Our analysis is general, and we cannot, in this forum, answer your question according to every posek. However, according to most opinions, the Torah-level mitzva of sk entails following the rules whereby sk makes it forbidden to extract payment, which does not happen when there is a prz. Therefore, one who voluntarily agrees not to receive the money he may collect, while doing an act of kindness, is not following the mechanism of the mitzva of sk. Your idea that a prz does not prevent fulfilling sk, is feasible according to the Yereim – if the mitzva is always to not demand an existing loan, then the fact that there is a prz might not make a difference. On the other hand, the mitzva according to the Yereim is still talking about a case where it is forbidden to demand payment, whereas after prz, it is permitted. It is also difficult to predict how the Rabbinic nature of sk in our times impacts the mitzva mechanism (Minchat Asher, Shviit, 64).
The Ben Ish Chai (I, Ki Tavo 26) suggests making at least a small loan after making his prz to apply sk to. Teshuvot V'hanhagot (VI:280) disapproves of making Hillel's prz system look regrettable, but, in discussion of how one could apply sk, also assumes it would have to be with a loan to which prz does not apply. Rav Asher Weiss (ibid.) did not see the halachic sense in these efforts, especially if the “loan” (a misnomer) was never intended to be collected. If, though, one wants to show his excitement about the mitzva of sk, excluding it from the prz makes halachic sense.
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