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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.
Taking Tablets to Aid FastingIs it permitted/proper to take pills before Yom Kippur that improve one’s fasting on Yom Kippur?
Clearly, while the Torah commands “v’initem et nafshoteichem” (afflict yourselves) on Yom Kippur (Vayikra 23:27), the command’s operative meaning is to refrain from eating and drinking (Yoma 74b). One fully violates this prohibition only by ingesting food through the mouth/throat (see Achiezer III:61), and therefore intravenous feeding is not halachic eating (see Living the Halachic Process, IV, D-3). Still, there might still be a Rabbinic prohibition or perhaps even a lower-level Torah prohibition to ingest even through intravenous on Yom Kippur (see Teshuvot V’hanhagot II, 290; Chelkat Yaakov, Orach Chayim 216). Teshuvot V’hanagot raises the possibility that the positive element of the mitzva of inuy precludes any way the body ingests food-like nourishment.
Even so, there is a huge qualitative difference between nourishment ingested on Yom Kippur and taking a pill before Yom Kippur, as the timing is everything here. One cannot violate affliction on Yom Kippur by an act done before it (except for the short time of tosefet). (One may not put shoes on or put his feet in water before Yom Kippur and keep them there, but that is because keeping them there is equivalent to an action.) There cannot be a halachic requirement to feel the fasting on Yom Kippur. After all the period of inuy is more than 24 hours (see Vayikra 23:32), and one who eats until soon before Yom Kippur will not feel any hunger for many hours (see Mishneh Halachot VII:82). Even the opinion objecting to this type of special preparation, treated seriously by poskim (cited in S’dei Chemed, vol. IX, p. 133) does not object on halachic grounds.
The only question is, whether, hashkafically, it is proper to try to avoid being affected by the fast. There are two main approaches as to why the Torah commands us to eat on erev Yom Kippur (Yoma 81b). 1) We would like to eat on the Day of Atonement, but the prohibition makes it necessary to instead eat (festively) the day before (see Sha’arei Teshuva 4:9). 2) Eating before Yom Kippur leads to successful fasting on Yom Kippur. Arguably, Rashi (Yoma 81b) means that the goal is to complete the fast without a medical need to break it, in which case one could still argue that the Torah wants people to suffer from the ongoing fast. The Tur (OC 604) adds that Hashem wants us to not be “damaged,” which apparently refers to suffering on the day (see Bava Kama 91b), not to uncommon, long-term damage. The Rosh (Yoma 8:22) also sounds like Hashem wants us to feel as well as we can on the fast that is intended for our benefit for atonement.
One could still claim that some suffering is needed to make the atonement (fully) effective. However, many explain (see Sefer Hachinuch 313) that the atonement element of fasting does not relate to suffering (on Tisha B’av, it probably does) but that avoiding physical indulgence places one on a higher spiritual plane.
The persistent could still argue that only natural things like the right foods are appropriate, but not special things that take away the discomfort of fasting. Such distinctions need to be proved, and indeed Acharonim by and large reject the aforementioned opinion in the S’dei Chemed (see survey in Yabia Omer IX, OC 54). Furthermore, the question is largely moot on a practical level. There is apparently no magic potion that makes one feel as if he is not fasting. Those who benefit feel like they are fasting, just fasting very well.
In short, there is no halachic or hashkafic problem with taking one of the remedies offered before Yom Kippur, and it is very appropriate for those who suffer significantly on fasts (Yabia Omer ibid.) or feel it will enhance their tefillot to seek something safe that helps them. Should those who fast well also do so? If one is not an interventionist, clings to the traditional, or avoids unnecessarily ingesting things whose full effect is unknown, it is fine to suffice with a wise pre-fast eating regimen.
One or Two Breaths?I will be blowing shofar in an Ashkenazi minyan. What should I be doing about blowing tashrat (tekia-shevarim-teruah-tekia) – with neshima achat (=na – shevarim and teruah with “one breath”) or shtei neshimot (= sn – a significant break between them)?
The gemara (Rosh Hashana 34a) derives the need for three sets of shofar blasts during Rosh Hashana, with a teruah sandwiched between tekiot (=tk). The gemara identifies two types of crying as candidates for teruah, what we call shevarim (=shv) and what we call teruah (=tr). Rav Avahu instituted doing tashrat. The gemara rejects the possibility this covers both the opinion of shv and that of tr, because the incorrect blast creates a disqualifying break in the set. The gemara concludes that he did tashrat sets in addition to shv ones (=tashat) and tr ones (=tarat), because of the possibility that shv and tr together in that order are the correct teruah.
Rabbeinu Tam (cited by the Tur, Orach Chayim 590) says that since it is abnormal for one to change quickly from one type of cry to another, there should be a reasonable break (sn) between shv and tr. The Tur says that, consistent with this break, we refer to a full recitation of all the sets as 30 kolot, and not 27, because shv and tr count separately.
However, many Rishonim say that shv and tr should not be separated significantly (na). The strongest claim is that since they form a single, albeit complex, kol, it should be done as one unit (Ramban, Rosh Hashana 34a), i.e., without breaks (see Sukka 53b). While there is a machloket whether there should be some break between the tekia and teruah (ibid.), all should agree that there should not be one within a set of teruah. On the other hand, one can argue that shv tr is purposely not like the components of a single teruah unit.
The Terumat Hadeshen (I:142) sees no way to decide between the opinions and makes a suggestion that the Shulchan Aruch (OC 590:4) accepts. During the first set of 30 kolot, do na, and during the second set, do sn (the Terumat Hadeshen believes the order does not make a difference), and that way one fulfills the basic obligation of shofar blowing according to all major opinions at some point. The Rama (ad loc.) says that the minhag is to do everything as sn. The Mishna Berura (590:20) reports minhagim going either way in his times and supports continuing with them.
The Beit Yosef (OC 590; see Mishna Berura 590:17 and Sha’ar Hatziyun 590:14) posits that according to those who say na, one does not fulfill the mitzva with sn, but according to those who prefer sn, one fulfills the mitzva even if he did it as na. The Beit Yosef’s assumption has gone a long way in turning contemporary practice toward na especially when one does only 30 kolot (i.e., for those who cannot come to shul). How much one prefers na impacts on whether to do any sn (most expert ba’alei tokeiah do), to do sn in 31-60, or only in the last 30-40 after chazarat hashatz. There was once a minhag (see Rama, OC 592:1) to do only one set of tashrat each of the three times in Shemoneh Esrei/chazarat hashatz. This is predicated on the possibility that tashrat itself covers the possibilities of tashat or tarat. In order to give that a chance, it is more logical to have a break, because it is harder to claim that a connected closely shv tr counts for a shv and a tr separately (related to me by Rav M. Willig). However, we no longer have that minhag.
Even if there is not a long enough break to be called sn, there should be at least a small, noticeable break between shv and tr (despite a Chazon Ish (OC 136:1) to the contrary). According to the opinion of sn, it is not clear how long a breath we are talking about and whether one needs to actually breathe (see Dirshu 590:12). Therefore, it is plausible that a pause of about half a second could be considered na and/or sn. A break of a quarter of a second is definitely na and of a full second is definitely sn.
In short, if there is no local minhag otherwise, we recommend na for everything but kolot #31-60.
Going to and from an AliyaCan you explain the details of how one should walk to an aliya and how and when he should return?
There are no direct Talmudic sources on this matter, but Rishonim and Acharonim apply general principles and parallel sources.
The Terumat Hadeshen (II:119) says that (assuming there are two openings to the bima) one should go up through the one closer to him. He mentions a Talmudic source that describes that procedure regarding entering the complex of the Beit Hamikdash, but later authorities (including the Gra, Orach Chayim 141:7) found no such source. The Gra prefers an approach that puts a premium on going to the right rather than the shorter path. This has sources in Chazal, as a kohen who goes up to the mizbe’ach normally turns right first even if it is longer (Yoma 45a) as does one who enters the Beit Hamikdash courtyard (Midot 2:2). The Chatam Sofer (Shut Orach Chayim 187) claims that even the Terumat Hadeshen believed in going to the right, just that he would position himself so that the closer way would be to the right. In any case, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 141:7) rules that going to the closer “opening” to the bima is the first priority, and only when they are equivalent should one go to the right side. The Mishna Berura does not cite those who argue, and this is accepted practice.
The Mishna Berura (141:22) cites two reasons for going the shorter way: 1. Honor of the community warrants the shortest wait possible for the oleh. 2. To show respect for the (sefer) Torah, by going to read it as directly as possible (brisk walking also honors, running does not – Mishna Berura 141:25). There are different potential nafka minot: 1. On Shabbat, due to Mi Shebeirach for the olim, there is plenty of time to get to the bima, but getting there quickly still honors the Torah. Possibly, going to the right would then be better than the shorter route, although this is apparently not the minhag. 2. Whether it is permitted to walk the longer distance more quickly (Torah Lishma 57 cites precedent for the shorter path being a real advantage even when it is not done more quickly).
It is unclear whether in calculating the short path, we should consider the fact that the oleh stands right of center of the bima and if coming from the left, he may have to maneuver around the ba’al korei. The language of the Shulchan Aruch implies that the distance from the bima is the determinant, and that seems correct regarding the element of honor. In rooms where the bima has no partitions and thus openings, a beeline to the place the oleh will stand seems ideal.
Chayei Halevi (I:18) points out that the minhag is that the chazan approaching the bima with the sefer Torah always goes to the right. He explains that this is correct because the tzibbur is not waiting for an individual, the chazan is not going to (but with) the Torah, and because the bima is almost always in the middle (making the right side the “tiebreaker”), we are consistent.
After finishing the aliya, there are two reasons to prefer taking the opposite side (Shulchan Aruch ibid. and Mishna Berura 25). Going the long way shows “reluctance” to leave, and there is a precedence for leaving holy places from a different side than one came in (see Yechezkel 46:9).
As far as timing, Sephardim leave the bima after the ending beracha, but Ashkenazim wait longer. The Rama (OC 141:7) states that it is until after the next oleh makes it to the bima, so as not to leave the sefer Torah “unattended.” The Mishna Berura reports on our minhag to wait after the next aliya so that one not miss some of the laining while walking back to his place. Based on the reasoning, it makes sense to leave before the next oleh’s concluding beracha, as hearing the beracha is both easier to follow and less important for the individual than the laining. However, the Chayei Adam (I, 31:10) implies that it is better to wait until after the beracha to hear it properly. It also seems that people like to wait to wish Yasher Koach to the next oleh, and it is hard to argue with good manners.
Fulfilling Parashat Zachor on Ki TeitzeiI heard a chumra that during a leap year, with 13 months between readings of Parashat Zachor, one should have in mind to fulfill the mitzva of zechirat Amalek during the reading of those p’sukim in Ki Teitzei. Should I do that (shuls do not usually announce it)?
The 13 month “concern” occurs the year before a leap year. Between Parashat Zachor 5782 (a leap year) and that of 5783, there will be 12 months + 2 days.
The main reasons to reject this chumra are that it is first raised around 200 years ago and it is still not widely followed, but analysis is both interesting and of limited use. The Torah does not give clear instructions on the timing of the mitzva of zechirat Amalek, but Chazal understood it is to be a yearly mitzva. The Torah was not concerned when other yearly mitzvot (e.g., the mitzvot of the Seder) have a 13 month gap between them, so why should Zachor be different?
The Chatam Sofer (Shut Even Haezer I:119) theorizes that the idea behind a yearly schedule is that the Torah commands us not to forget what Amalek did, and there is precedence of forgetting after more than a year. His talmid, the Maharam Shick (on Sefer Hamitzvot 605), brings sources that forgetting happens after 12 months and reports that the Chatam Sofer would have in mind during Ki Teitzei’s reading to fulfill the mitzva in the years it was “necessary” (theoretically including this year due to the 2 days). Others (see Mo’adim U’zmanim II:166) point out that the Chatam Sofer writes that we can learn the laws of zechirat Amalek from those of batei arei choma, which are also connected to forgetting, and yet a year is the cut-off point even in a leap year (Arachin 31a). He explains that forgetting is impacted by the Jewish year cycle more than 12 months. Therefore, the leap year is not a problem for Zachor.
There are also reasons to reject the assumptions behind the Chatam Sofer’s question. For one, who says that we need to read Parashat Zachor (mitzva #603) to not forget Amalek (#605)? The gemara (Megilla 18a) says that zechira must be done orally from a written text, whereas forgetting depends on the heart. So as long as a person has given thought to the story of Amalek within the critical time period, even without intention for the mitzva, he will not forget, and he can do the active, oral mitzva at the prescribed time. Many (including the Mo’adim U’zmanim) disagree with the Chatam Sofer’s chiddush that concern of forgetting defines precisely the oral mitzva of Zachor. Also, since it is very possible that having Zachor done from a sefer Torah with a minyan is only a Rabbinic mitzva (see Minchat Chinuch #603), it is questionable whether it requires kavana (see Mishna Berura 60:10).
If one wants to have kavana during the Ki Teitzei reading, is that enough? The Har Tzvi (OC I:58) leaves as a question whether the ba’al korei must have kavana to be motzi one for this mitzva or whether it is enough he is reading on behalf of everyone in the shul. The Pri Megadim (EA 692:1) says that in order for Shehecheyanu recited at Megilla reading to cover all of Purim’s mitzvot, the Megilla reader should have the beracha’s broad use in mind, but there may be counter implications in other sources (see Har Tzvi ibid.; Magen Avraham 685). Perhaps also, since the mitzva is performed only as part of a community (see ibid.), the minyan, not just individuals, needs the appropriate kavana. Possibly, the Ki Teitzei reading cannot help. Divrei Yoel (OC I, 33) says the mitzva can only be performed around the time of Purim.
In practice, while there could be value in people having in mind for Zachor on Ki Teitzei, there is nothing compelling enough to create a new minhag because of leap years. If someone missed Parashat Zachor and faces the prospect of going two years, it pays for him to have intention for it. Therefore, it behooves a ba’al korei (he loses nothing) to have that in mind. Only a shul that likes to incorporate chumrot – in a wise manner – should consider instituting announcing that people should have such kavana.
Tasting Meat LiquidsWhen I cook for Shabbat, I like to taste the chicken soup and gravies to make sure they are properly spiced. Does that “make me fleishig”?
In many areas of Halacha, such a question would be easier to decide conclusively, but for whatever reason, Klal Yisrael shies away from leniency regarding meat and milk. We start by telegraphically mentioning multiple ways that such a case is or may be distanced from the Torah-level prohibition. 1) If the meat is poultry, not beef; 2) Perhaps, if you are tasting only gravies and not the meat itself; 3) The meat and milk were not cooked together; 4) You are eating one after the other, not together.
Different Rishonim give different reasons to wait six hours (or a different minhag’s time) between fleishig followed by milchig foods. Rashi (Chulin 105a) says that “meat exudes fat, and it sticks to the mouth and gives taste for a long time.” The Rambam (Ma’achalot Asurot 9:28) says that we are concerned that meat got stuck between the teeth in a manner that it is difficult to remove. The Tur (Yoreh Deah 89) brings nafka minot between the opinions: 1. If meat is found between the teeth after 6 hours, is the meat still fleishig? (Rambam- no; Rashi- yes); 2. If it was chewed but not swallowed (Rambam- must wait, as meat could be between teeth; Rashi – no wait, as swallowing is what makes the taste linger). The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (YD 89:1) rule like the stringencies of both positions, therefore even if one does not eat the fleishig food but chews and then spits out (e.g., to feed to one’s baby), he still has to wait before eating milchigs. The Pri Megadim (MZ 89:1) reasons that our being machmir for both opinions is logical either due to our carefulness about safek in all the relevant cases, or because the two reasons could both be true.
The Pri Megadim continues that if one chewed pareve food that absorbed fleishig taste, but does not contain pieces of meat (e.g., chicken soup broth), neither reason indicates having to wait. However, he says that holy Jews do not distinguish (lo plug) between similar cases and always wait, and the Pitchei Teshuva (YD 89:1) accepts his opinion. How broad is this lo plug? While some rabbanim view it as applying to everything that is put in the mouth, the more accepted opinion is that tasting with the tongue (without chewing) and then spitting out the fleishig food does not make waiting necessary (Pri Chadash, YD 89:18; Aruch Hashulchan, YD 89:14; Darchei Teshuva 89:22). (There are discussions in other kashrut areas on the extent to which tasting with the tongue alone is an especially lenient case – see Pitchei Teshuva, YD 98:1). Among Sephardi poskim as well, the mainstream approach is to be lenient (Kaf Hachayim, YD 89:4; Yalkut Yosef, YD 89:13). (See also a similar discussion in Living the Halachic Process, III, E-1).
There are some provisos, though. First, just as between milk followed by meat, we require washing the mouth by first eating liquid and solid pareve food (Shulchan Aruch ibid. 2), so too this is needed to remove the tasted meat residue (see the aforementioned lenient opinions). Since there is no minimum amount for how much one needs to eat to become fleishig (Badei Hashulchan 89:2), one would have to determine that the tasting included no swallowing.
These rules can be burdensome to follow. Consider also that on a day of substantial fleishig cooking, some people tend to eat samples of their food without giving it much thought and forget thereafter that they are fleishig. Therefore, it might be prudent for many home Shabbat chefs who want to eat milchig food around the time of their major cooking, to eat the real milchig food prior to tasting fleishig food and spending a long time around them.
However, this suggestion is no more than practical advice where it applies. As far as a halachic ruling is concerned, if one just tasted fleishig food with his tongue, spat it out, and washed his mouth, he does not need to wait six hours before eating milchig food.
Chazan Having Trouble Taking Three Steps BackAs chazan, I was unable to take three steps back after my silent Shemoneh Esrei because someone was davening close behind me even when the gabbai signaled me to start chazarat hashatz. What should I have done at that point?
The situation should not have occurred, as a slow davener or one who starts late should not daven right behind the chazan (Dalet Amot Shel Tefilla 5:6). If the gabbai signaled prematurely, that is not ideal either. If the “back davener” was diagonally behind you, while there is a machloket whether you can enter his 4 amot (Mishna Berura 102:16), you could have acted leniently. Actually, I recommend leniency in our days, since differences in Shemoneh Esrei finish time have skyrocketed.
You had four feasible possibilities, some depending on the specifics.
1) Alter the steps – Ideally, one takes three steps (2 + an “equalizer”) backward, where one foot’s toe touches the other’s heel (covering approximately two feet = an amah plus) (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 123:3). Many shuls do not have enough room between pews to do that, and there are two minhagim about dealing with this situation: take smaller steps (see Mishna Berura 123:14); take normal-sized steps but to the side (Aruch Hashulchan, OC 123:5).
In your case, the smaller steps will suffice only if you started off outside the 4 amot, as otherwise any further encroachment is a problem. While poskim (see Ishei Yisrael 29:16) recommend going sideways (i.e., further away from the back davener), it is unclear what the chazan will do when it is time to return (see Rama, OC 95:1), unless one starts outside the 4 amot.
2. Wait – Some say (Ishei Yisrael 29:(61) cites Simchat Cohen) that the congregation must wait until the back davener finishes. If one is not confident he will finish soon, this is unreasonable considering the gravity with which Halacha views tircha d’tzibbura (public inconvenience – see Rama, OC 123:3).
3. Do not take steps – The gemara (Yoma 53b) says that is better not to have davened than to not take the steps back, as it does not show proper reverence in “taking leave of Hashem.” This does not seem so offensive if one is not taking leave, but is about to begin his main amida of chazarat hashatz (see Rosh Hashana 34b, that the chazan’s silent tefilla is a “practice run”). Indeed, the Beit Yosef (OC 123) cites and rejects the Ohel Moed’s opinion that a chazan is not required to step back between his two amidot, as he will do so later. However, when the alternatives are tircha d’tzibbura or actively violating the halacha not to walk within someone’s 4 amot, several Acharonim (Mishpetei Tzedek 2, P’kudat Elazar 123:5, Halichot Shlomo, Tefilla 9:1) allow the chazan to start chazarat hashatz without the steps backward and forward. Although at the end of chazarat hashatz the chazan does not usually take three steps back (Shulchan Aruch, OC 123:5), it is permitted to do so (Mishna Berura 123:19). The Rama (OC 123:5) says that if the chazan did not do a silent Shemoneh Esrei he should step back, and if he did a silent amida but did not step back, it should be at least as appropriate (Ishei Yisrael 29:(62). Generally, the Mishna Berura (123:18) says that the chazan relies on the steps of Kaddish Titkabel (if he remains chazan) and should be careful not to be mafsik until then.)
4. Walk into the 4 amot – The Tzitz Eliezer (VII:23) is among Acharonim (see Ishei Yisrael ibid.) who see this as less problematic than missing the steps back. He also generally is lenient about this prohibition, finding many leniencies for it (see also Eshel Avraham (Butchatch) 102). One leniency to consider here is that when one positions himself in a manner that disturbs many in the congregation, he cannot “keep others out” (Da’at Torah to Shulchan Aruch, OC 102:4). Here too, one who impedes the chazan and thus makes all wait may lose his 4 amot rights (see similar idea in Aruch Hashulchan, OC 102:13).
Of these options, we prefer the modified steps back when feasible, and if not, then skipping the steps at this point.
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