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A Glance at the Man Who Revolutionized the World of HalachaA few days ago, the Torah world lost a true talmid chacham, Rav Yehoshua Yeshaya Neuwirth (pronounced, Noyvirt), zt”l, who died at the age of 85. We have not in the past used this column to eulogize but felt that this case was different – not because of various connections with Rav Neuwirth or even the fact that we have quoted him in this column hundreds of times. The main reason we are writing about Rav Neuwirth and his sefer, Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata, is that it has served as the model of a new genre of halachic works, followed by hundreds of seforim (including, to a great degree, our series, Bemareh Habazak.
A few days ago, the Torah world lost a true talmid chacham, Rav Yehoshua Yeshaya Neuwirth (pronounced, Noyvirt), zt”l, who died at the age of 85. We have not in the past used this column to eulogize but felt that this case was different – not because of various connections with Rav Neuwirth or even the fact that we have quoted him in this column hundreds of times. The main reason we are writing about Rav Neuwirth and his sefer, Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata, is that it has served as the model of a new genre of halachic works, followed by hundreds of seforim (including, to a great degree, our series, Bemareh Habazak.
We will start with a quick biographical look at Rav Yehoshua Neuwirth, whose life was symbolic of Jewish history of the last century. His father, Rav Aharon Neuwirth, served as rabbi in important communities in pre-war
Upon arriving in Eretz Yisrael, he enrolled in Yeshivat Kol Torah, founded by German Jewish rabbis, and became close there with his life-long rabbi, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l. In addition to spreading and applying much of Rav Auerbach’s scholarship, as finds expression in Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata, Rav Neuwirth was also his student in regard to modesty and active concern for people, prominently including the poor.
The first edition of Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata came out when Rav Neuwirth was still a sparsely known talmid chacham in his thirties. The sefer stood out for being user-friendly and making the laws of Shabbat accessible to the broad public. This he did in a few ways. One was to change the focus of the choice of halachot. The Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch are strongly based on discussions in the Talmud, written 1500 years ago. Yet, much of the subject matter relates to practices, foods, and utensils that are no longer prevalent. Many of today’s pressing issues relate to situations and technologies that developed in recent times, and Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata addresses them very deliberately and thoroughly.
Another innovation, which had roots in the Mishna Berura, is the breakup between the body of the work, in which practical halacha is clearly, succinctly presented, and the footnotes, which contain the sources and halachic analysis. This system, which we too employ in Bemareh Habazak, makes the study of the basic halacha accessible to those who cannot follow the intricate world of halacha and helps the more developed scholar with better organization.
The sefer also has a detailed index, enabling one to easily find the discussion of the practical application for which he needs a ruling. This is a great improvement, taken from the world outside of Torah scholarship, over previous seforim, which had no more than a table of contents, perhaps following an order such as that of the Shulchan Aruch. A final point that opened to a wider target audience the laws of Shabbat, and through his emulators, many other areas of halacha, is the style of writing. Instead of the classical rabbinic language, with a mix of Hebrew and Aramaic, with difficult, run-on sentences, Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata is written in clear modern Hebrew. The index and the editing were both provided by Rav Neuwirth’s friend of many years, Rav Asher Wasserteil, who while yeshiva trained, was not a rabbi by profession. We are proud to have a long-term relationship with this unsung partner in the revolution in the presentation of halacha, as Rav Wasserteil, father of Eretz Hemdah’s long-time chairman of the board, also edited the first five volumes of Bemareh Habazak.
May Rav Neuwirth’s life works, and those that he inspired, bring him eternal merit.
Pay for Overtime on ShabbatI work for a Jewish institution doing important work with Jewish groups from a range of religious and political affiliations. There are periodic Shabbatons (of sorts), which provide positive religious exposure for many participants who need it, although that is not the organizer’s main interest. My boss told me I can report and receive pay for “overtime hours” over Shabbat. Is it permitted to do so? A negative ruling may encourage them to mold the pay arrangement to obviate the problem.
We will discuss whether this arrangement violates s’char Shabbat (pay for permitted services one provided on Shabbat), which is forbidden rabbinically like other commercial activity, lest one come to write (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 306:4).
The most common way to allow receiving money for work that was done on Shabbat is through havla’ah – having the Shabbat-related money “swallowed up” when combined with weekday pay, as pay for a period of work that includes Shabbat (ibid.). However, it is not enough for the pay to be received together with that from weekdays, if the obligation was accrued in a way that some of it is connected distinctly to Shabbat (see Rama and Biur Halacha ad loc.). Regarding our case, it is forbidden to receive special overtime money for work done on Shabbat (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 28:64). Orchot Shabbat (22:(158)) suggests that it is permitted to receive pay at a higher rate for work on Shabbat than for during the week, but only when his salary is set in a way that includes a certain amount of required work on Shabbat. However, for one’s pay to be changed based on a fluctuating amount of work one does on Shabbat is forbidden. Still, though, if the overtime includes related work before or after Shabbat, it is permitted if you can generally specify hours for the weekends without specifying how many of the hours were for Shabbat itself or list the exact times (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 28:65).
Another area of leniency to explore, if the above does not help, is the matter of pay for doing a mitzva. The Beit Yosef (OC 306) cites a machloket whether s’char Shabbat is prohibited when the work done is for a mitzva. There are indications in the gemara both ways. The gemara in Pesachim (50b) says that a meturgeman (one who translates laining into Aramaic – now practiced primarily in Yemenite communities) will not see blessing from his salary. This implies that it is permitted, just frowned upon. On the other hand, the gemara (Nedarim 37a) says that a Chumash teacher may take money for teaching on Shabbat because it is done with havla’ah. Apparently, the mitzva of teaching Chumash does not justify taking money for Shabbat. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 306:5) cites both opinions, with a preference toward the strict opinion. On the other hand, the minhag is that chazanim get paid on Shabbat. On yet another hand, some chazanim also get paid for davening they do during the week (including Selichot), and thus havla’ah plays a role. Other chazanim can stretch havla’ah and say that part of their pay is for preparing during the week (see Aruch Hashulchan OC 306:12; discussion in Orchot Shabbat 22:(149)).
Your case includes an educational element that can make the machloket of pay for a mitzva on Shabbat relevant. It is not important whether your employers intend for the same mitzva element, as s’char Shabbat applies (directly) only to the worker (see Mishna Berura 306:21), and you have the mitzva in mind. Still, it is likely forbidden and even more likely not a good omen. Therefore, it is proper for your employers to restructure compensation for your efforts.
Another possibility is for you to have a maximum salary for a global amount of work that exceeds your base job, based on expected overtime. In this case, the money you get will be with havla’ah. Overtime hours (not necessarily on Shabbat) can factor in specially in fulfilling your maximum work obligation, and you can report your Shabbat hours in arriving at the number. If you do not make it to those hours, they can take off from your salary.
Statute of Limitation on Hagomel After BirthMy wife gave birth this winter and has not yet recited Birkat Hagomel. Can she still do so?
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 219:5) says regarding the timing of Birkat Hagomel: “If one delayed, he has as long as he wants, and it is correct not to delay three days.” Does the Shulchan Aruch really leave this totally open-ended? Considering that three days is not proper, maybe he did not extend it by months. The three day period comes from the opinions cited in the Beit Yosef (OC 219) that after three days, it is too late to make the beracha. Similarly, others give a five day deadline (the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 219:7) cites it as a minority opinion). It is clear from the Shita Mekubetzet and Ra’ah (Berachot 54b) that it can be recited more than a month after the obligation began, but how long?
For a long time, the prevalent minhag was that women did not recite Birkat Hagomel at all; nowadays it has become prevalent after birth, but it is rare for women to say Hagomel for other things, certainly not for a trip for which her husband recites it. The Magen Avraham (beginning of OC 219) explains the minhag based on the conjecture that it is generally an optional beracha. The Halachot Ketanot (II:161) says that according to the opinion that Hagomel cannot be done without ten men, it makes sense that women were excluded from the obligation due to tzniut issues. Har Tzvi (OC I:113) suggests an interesting reason for new mothers specifically not to say Hagomel, due to the language of “l’chayavim” – for the guilty. The danger a person was in could be a sign that he is guilty of something, whereas the danger of a woman giving birth stems simply from her participation in the most natural, wonderful mitzva.
Whatever the reason for exemption, why should a woman put herself in the position of a possibly improper beracha in which she is likely not obligated. Furthermore, there are “safer” alternatives. There was, for example, a minhag (see Torat Chayim, Sanhedrin 94a) that the husband would get an aliya the first time the woman returned to shul. When he blessed Hashem with “Borchu…” and she answered “Baruch Hashem …” they would have in mind to thereby thank Hashem. This avoids an extra, questionable beracha. She can also wait for a man who has to say Hagomel and have him make it for the two of them (see Living the Halachic Process II, B-7). However, while we are generally not opposed to finding ways to obviate questionable berachot, here we are confident that it is appropriate for your wife to recite Hagomel even months later, as we will explain.
The opinions about saying Hagomel within three or five days relate to Hagomel after a trip, as the Beit Yosef brings sources about how long is considered “after a trip.” There it makes sense that the next trip may be “around the corner.” In contrast, births (other than twins) are usually considerably more than a year apart. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 219:7), going on the Shulchan Aruch’s language of “as long as he wants,” excludes cases where so long has passed that the matter is forgotten. Halachically, the prominent cutoff time for remembering is twelve months (see Bava Metzia 24b; Berachot 54b; Shut Chatam Sofer, Even Haezer I, 119). Furthermore, while a trip is often forgotten relatively quickly, memories of a birth linger on for much longer. While the memories usually focus on the happy parts of the birth and the beracha relates to the danger, the two are related and thoughts of labor also linger for a long time. Additionally, the time to start saying Hagomel and thus its general time frame is not clear. A sick person says Hagomel when he is fully recuperated (Mishna Berura 219:2). When does a woman recuperate from birth? There are halachic cutoffs after seven days (probably the most common, but not unanimous, position regarding Hagomel) and thirty days (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 330:4). A lot depends on the specific case.
In summation, a woman within twelve months of birth can and should be encouraged (barring a personal reason to the contrary) to recite Hagomel.
A Buyer Not Admitting He Erred to His Own BenefitWhile pricing computers, a proprietor promised me he would beat any price I found. I told him a cheap quote I had received and he agreed to beat it. When I checked that quote, I realized it was for a cheaper computer. Do I need to tell the proprietor my mistake or can I go with the agreed price?
It is forbidden to deceive someone (Chulin 94a), as finds expression in several p’sukim (Bereishit 31:26; Vayikra 19:11; Vayikra 25:14). You are asking because of the convergence of mitigating circumstances. You cited the price with honest intentions; by the time you realized, he had already agreed to the price, i.e., it is apparently a reasonable, worthwhile one.
However, if one takes money due to an honest mistake, he must return it. The matter is clearer here because the deal is not yet complete, and going through with it based on false information given in the past is continuing the disinformation, by not correcting it, now intentionally. The gemara (Shvuot 31a) says that acting in a manner that just gives a false impression is considered a violation of the requirement to distance oneself from a lie even if he said nothing. Going through with the transaction is thus not much different than lying in the first place.
What if the transaction took place? There are rules of ona’ah (sales that took place at an unfair price), and the general rule is that if the difference between the sales price and the proper one is less than one sixth, one does not have to return the mispricing (see Bava Metzia 49b). If we could determine that in our case, the price was not off by that much from the range of normal prices, ostensibly there should be consequences to your questionable discount. Also, if the “victim” of the unfair price was told the proper price but still agreed to the “wrong” one, the agreement stands as is (Shulchan Aruch, CM 227:21). Arguably, the proprietor knows costs and prices, and this should be equivalent to one who was told the real price yet agreed. (See a discussion of whether it is enough for the party to know or whether there must be an explicit stipulation in Pitchei Choshen, Ona’ah 10:(30).)
However, there is a fundamental distinction between the regular rules of ona’ah and a factual mistake. The leeway of a sixth given for ona’ah is based on the inexact science of setting an exact price, making modestly differing prices marginally legitimate. However, if someone gives false information regarding something exact, such as measurements of size, weight, or number, ona’ah applies even for a difference of less than a sixth and even regarding objects that are excluded from the standard laws of ona’ah (Shulchan Aruch, CM 232:1; S’ma ad loc. 2). If the price was based on an exact fact, the price you were quoted by someone else, ona’ah applies even if off slightly. The fact that he agreed to a low price reflects a calculated concession on his part – but his buyers have to keep to the parameters of that concession.An important distinction is crucial here. Sometimes a buyer or seller will try to make a deal look better by information he provides (e.g., “the going rate is X, but I am giving you a discount”). Even if he lies, there are not always grounds for employing ona’ah if other factors are missing (see Taz to CM 332:4). However, if people set the price based on, for example, the price he gives other customers, and he lied about what that price is, the laws of ona’ah apply even if the price is objectively reasonable (see Rama, CM 332:4). In such cases one has to analyze the language of the agreement: was there a set price set, with the other information just trying to convince? Or, was the price to others the basis for the price here (see Netivot 332:4). The way you worded it (“I will beat anyone’s price”) indicates direct linkage to the quote. Therefore, you would have to return any price difference (see harsh words of the Maharashdam CM 434, regarding an agreement to a certain price margin, where the seller gave the wrong information regarding the cost of supplies).
How Can the Mesader Kiddushin Recite the Chatan’s Beracha?I was told that the berachot made by the rabbi (mesader kiddushin) under the chupa are berachot that the chatan should be making, but because some do not know how to do so, the rabbi does so. Is it possible to have someone who is not obligated make the beracha?
Conceptually and historically there are different approaches to the issues of the function of the berachot under the chupa and to whom they relate. We will focus on birkat eirusin, the second beracha, “…asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al ha’arayot...” There is what to say about the beracha on the wine, considering that usually the rabbi does not even take a sip from it, but that is a separate, albeit related, topic. The seven berachot at the end are apparently not the chatan’s responsibility (see Yabia Omer VII, EH 17).
The Rambam (Ishut 3:23) states that the chatan (or his agent, if he performs the kiddushin) makes the birkat eirusin. However, the practice has been for many hundreds of years that someone else (usually the mesader kiddushin) is the one who makes the berachot.
The Rama (Even Ha’ezer 34:1) cites the minhag that someone other than the chatan recites the beracha. The Derisha (EH 34:1) explains that the Rama is based on the Rosh’s (Ketubot 1:12) approach that kiddushin is not a mitzva per se. It follows, says the Rosh, that the beracha is not of the category of berachot on mitzvot but of berachot of praise to Hashem, in this case, for providing us with halachot and procedures to navigate them. Once the beracha is general and not connected directly to the performance of the mitzva, there is no reason why someone other than the chatan cannot recite it. According to some (see Tuv Ta’am Vada’at III, YD 98; Har Tzvi, YD 1), these two approaches also explain another machloket. The Rambam (ibid.) says that if the beracha was not said before the kiddushin, it cannot be said afterward, while the Ra’avad (ad loc.) says that it can. The Rambam is consistent, since the beracha, as one on the action of a mitzva, must be before the mitzva. In contrast, the Ra’avad can follow the Rosh’s approach that it is a beracha of praise, and, therefore, as long as it is connected to the marriage process, it is appropriate.
The Noda B’Yehuda (II, EH 1) follows the Rambam’s approach, yet understands that the Rambam allows for the minhag that the mesader kiddushin recites the beracha. It is simply based on the rule that one who is generally obligated in a mitzva, but practically not now, can make the beracha on behalf of someone who is presently obligated in it. The conditions are that the listener hears the reciter and each has the intention that the reciter is doing it on the listener’s behalf, either individually or as part of a group (see Rosh Hashana 29a).
So, then, we have one nafka mina (practical ramification) between the two approaches. According to the Rambam/ Noda B’Yehuda, the chatan and the rabbi should intend that the rabbi’s beracha covers the chatan, whereas according to the Rosh/Derisha such intention is not required. Another nafka mina is when the chatan and kalla are deaf, so that they cannot hear the rabbi’s beracha. In that case, the Noda B’Yehuda says that the rabbi cannot make the beracha on their behalf. (The Noda B’Yehuda raises a dilemma whether it would be enough for the kalla to be able to hear, as it is not clear whether a woman, who is not obligated in p’ru u’r’vu (procreation), has a mitzva to get married.) Rabbi Akiva Eiger (to Taz, YD 1:17) and the Tevuot Shor (YD 1:(59)) take the Rosh’s approach and say that the rabbi can make the beracha for a deaf couple.
Not only is it possible for someone other than the chatan to make the beracha, but it has also become customary that the chatan should not make it. The Mordechai (Ketubot 131) says that it would be seen as showing off for the chatan to do it. The Beit Shmuel (34:2) says that in order to avoid embarrassing to those chatanim who do not know how to recite the beracha properly, we do not let any chatanim do so.
Tasting Non-Kosher WineI will be touring France, and our group will be doing wine tasting with wine that has no hashgacha. It is permitted to taste the wine if I spit it out thereafter
We must deal with a few issues.
Some of the main kashrut concerns in
One part of the prohibition of stam yeinam is that it is forbidden to drink the wine, out of concern that such behavior could lead (down the line) to intermarriage (Avoda Zara 36b). (This concern finds expression in similar prohibitions, e.g., bishul akum). If the wine was actually involved in idol worship, it could become yayin nesech, which is forbidden on the level of Torah law even in benefit other than drinking. Because these two prohibitions can be confused with each other, the Rabbis added a rabbinic prohibition on benefit from stam yeinam (Avoda Zara 29b; see Beit Yosef, Yoreh Deah 123).
There are sources that show leniency regarding the rabbinic prohibition on benefit from stam yeinam. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 124:7) rules that the wine of a non-Jew who is not involved in idol worship is forbidden only to drink, not in benefit, but it is not clear what category members of various religions fall under. The Rama (YD 123:1) says that since it is not common for non-Jews to use wine for libations, not all agree that there is a prohibition in benefit and that one can receive benefit if needed to avoid a loss of money (e.g., when it is the main available asset of a non-Jewish debtor). Wine tasting, even if one spits the wine out, is benefit due to the taste, and therefore it is forbidden if there is no loss. Not taking part in wine tasting is not a loss of money, and the loss of a pleasant opportunity does not count in this context. (Even being precluded from doing commerce in non-kosher wine is just a lost opportunity and forbidden- ibid.).
If stam yeinam were only forbidden to be drunk, we would have to check the status of putting food in the mouth and spitting it out. [For those who are unaware, it is cultured to spit out wine into a spittoon at wine-tasting events, allowing one to sample many wines and drive home.] According to the great majority of sources, it is forbidden to taste foods one is forbidden to eat (see Pitchei Teshuva, YD 98:1). One of the main sources for this concept is the gemara’s halachic advice for someone who is unsure if a mixture of kosher and non-kosher foods is permissible (discernable taste of the non-kosher minority element makes it forbidden). The gemara (Chulin 97a) says that one should give it to a non-Jew to taste, implying that a Jew may not taste it even if he plans to spit it out. On the other hand, Rishonim (see Beit Yosef, YD 42) allow a Jew to taste a piece of liver to see if the animal had a hidden gallbladder (important for the laws of tereifot), even though if they discover it is missing, the meat is forbidden.
Several possible distinctions are raised: 1. Tasting without swallowing is permitted when it is not clear that there is forbidden food, but one needs to swallow to rule out the presence of non-kosher taste (Taz, YD 98:2). 2. One may only stick out his tongue to taste but may not put the liver in his mouth (see Pitchei Teshuva ibid.). 3. If it is almost always kosher, it is permitted to taste to make sure (Shach, YD 42:4). However, the consensus is that it is forbidden to taste even a rabbinically prohibited, fully edible food by putting it into the mouth. This is even clearer if one is tasting it in order to enjoy the taste.
Therefore, for two reasons, you may not taste the non-kosher wine.
A Minyan Split Between Adjacent RoomsIn small shuls and “shiva houses,” where there is an overflow to an adjacent room, do there have to be ten men in one room? Someone claimed that if everyone is under one roof, there are no questions.
The gemara in Pesachim (85b), in the context of eating Korban Pesach within a certain area, discusses whether those who are within the doorway of the border are considered inside or outside. The gemara says that the same is true for tefilla, i.e., tziruf (formation of a minyan). The gemara in Eruvin (92b), regarding a minyan split between adjacent courtyards of different sizes, distinguishes between different configurations. One might have argued that these sources are not referring to cases under one roof. However, it is clear from Rishonim, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 55:19) and many poskim that the guidelines for separate rooms inside a building are much the same as those of separate courtyards.
The Rashba (Shut I:96) asks why it is allowed for a chazan to stand on the bima when its dimensions make it a separate domain, thus separating the chazan from the tzibbur. He gives two answers: 1. A bima specifically functions as an integral part of the shul; 2. If some people in one domain see some people in the other one, they constitute one unit (as they do regarding a zimun for bentching- Berachot 50a). The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) cites the Rashba’s first answer as halacha regarding tziruf for a minyan, while citing an opinion that this is only on condition that the bima’s partitions do not reach the ceiling. These are among the many sources that debunk the claim you were told, as a bima is obviously under the same roof as the rest of the shul, and still other reasons are needed to explain the tziruf.
Most practical cases depend on the extent to which we accept the Rashba’s second answer – that a visual connection between the two groups suffices. (Another scenario, based on the details of the aforementioned gemara in Eruvin (see Shulchan Aruch ibid. 15), is rarely applicable. Those standing in the doorway probably do count (Mishna Berura 55:50), but that is not of much help.) The major question is whether the parameters for connecting groups regarding zimun (i.e., visual) apply to creating a minyan for tefilla. The Mishna Berura (55:48 & 55:52) is not conclusive on the matter. Therefore it is best, when possible, to have ten people in one room.
Once a minyan is achieved in one room, most opinions assume that those in the overflow room receive the benefits of a minyan, regardless of the visibility connection. The Radbaz (650) says that those in the small room are fully considered as davening with a minyan if the small room can be accessed only through the main room. In any case, those not in the room with the minyan may answer to those parts of tefilla that require a minyan (Shulchan Aruch, OC 55:20) and be exempted from obligations by those inside the main room (Mishna Berura 55:61). The logic is that the ten in one room create the setting (the shechina – see Mishna Berura 55:60) for the matter of kedusha, after which we say that partitions do not prevent the sanctity to flow (see ibid. and Pesachim 85b). (See further opinions in Piskei Teshuvot 55:27.)It seems that the logic just mentioned allows for leniency in the following common scenario. Ten men are davening in the main room, but not enough of them have finished Shemoneh Esrei when the chazan would like to start. In Living the Halachic Process (I:A-10) we preferred the opinion that one needs eight people, not including the chazan, to answer. Some poskim required fewer because the presence of the ten brings the shechina, but others counter that chazarat hashatz requires a minyan who relate to the repetition. In the case of adjacent rooms, we can combine factors. The presence of ten in the big room brings the shechina. Then, we only need ten people who are connected to chazarat hashatz. Since those in the small room can fulfill their obligation through the chazan, they count toward the quorum needed to start.
Treatment of Leftover BreadWhat are the halachot of treatment of bread at the end of a meal?
There are clear halachot in the gemara (Berachot 50b; 52b) and poskim (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 171, 180) regarding “respect” due to food in general and especially bread. Two related issues are involved: not causing food to be wasted; not degrading food.
First we shuld mention that if one plans things as he or she should, there should little waste of sizable pieces of bread (or other foods). Leftover bread can be frozen, used for breadcrumbs (while avoiding meat/milk issues), or left for birds. Where this is difficult is at semachot, where there can be half-eaten rolls, etc.
One is not allowed to involve food in non- eating, in a way that it is likely to become soiled and become unappetizing (Shulchan Aruch OC 171:1). It is forbidden to throw any food that could get soiled upon falling and to throw bread even if it will not become soiled, due to bread’s extra importance (ibid. - see Beit Yosef, ad loc.). The gemara (Berachot 52b) explains Beit Shammai’s opinion that one should clean the eating area before washing with mayim acharonim so that the water not fall on and ruin the food. Beit Hillel is not concerned because people will know to remove k’zayit-sized pieces of bread. We are not concerned about smaller pieces, as Rabbi Yochanan says these can be destroyed. Seemingly then, sizable pieces are due respect, while small ones are not, as the Shulchan Aruch (OC 180:3-4) assumes.
However, the matter is complicated. The gemara in Shabbat (143a) says in the name of Rabbi Yochanan that one may not destroy even pieces smaller than a k’zayit. The gemara in Chulin (105b) also says that not being careful with small pieces of leftover food makes one susceptible to poverty. Tosafot (Shabbat 143a) says that our text in Shabbat, which follows Rashi, is incorrect, as the gemara in Berachot says that one is not required to care for small pieces. On the other hand, Tosafot (Berachot 52b) says that even if there is no prohibition, disgracing small pieces could cause poverty. The Magen Avraham (180:3) distinguishes based on different types of lack of care. One is not required to preserve small pieces; however, he may not disgrace them, e.g., by having people trample them. Water falling on them and making them not usable is not a disgrace. Bigger pieces must not even get soiled by water. The Pri Megadim (ad loc.) claims that according to the Rambam, there are no halachic limitations on small pieces, although perhaps there is a danger of poverty.
Even regarding big pieces, if one has decided not to eat them and there is no issue of not wasting them, what should one do with them? Presumably one should discard them without disgracing them, but what is considered a disgrace? Is putting them in the garbage, the normal place to discard things, a disgrace? Every written source I found on the topic (see V’zot Haberacha, p. 16; Etz Hasadeh 19:4; Rav E. Melamed - online) said (without classical sources) that one must put k’zayit -sized pieces in a bag before throwing them into the garbage, and many people, especially in Israel, are careful about this.
Is there any explanation for at least most of the American community within which I grew up, who are not careful about this? We have mentioned in the past (Beshalach 5768) that Rav Yisraeli’s ruled that one can put food with the sanctity of Shemitta in a bag before throwing in the garbage even together with foods without sanctity, as long as those other foods are not spoiled. Touching and even getting a little soiled by other foods before being thrown into the garbage dump may not be a disgrace. One could claim, then, that most kitchen garbage bins contain bags in which there are various leftover food and disposable matters; thus, putting bread in there may not be a disgrace. However, the easier position to justify, in regard to halacha and avoiding poverty, is to put bread leftovers (at least, bigger pieces) that cannot be salvaged, in a separate bag before putting it in the garbage.
Short Pants for Davening on ShabbatSomeone in shul told me last Shabbat that I should not wear shorts to shul. When I told him I learned it is permitted, he said that Shabbat is different. Why should Shabbat change the halacha?
Halachot like these involving clothes tend to be subjective. However, one needs to start with the halachic philosophy and standard situations. We wrote (Eikev 5771) about wearing shorts, with a focus on a chazan, and we refer you there for additional sources.
When one davens, he stands before Hashem and should be dressed respectably (Shabbat 10a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 91). The Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 4) says that this includes covering one’s legs, when this is how people dress before important people. The Mishna Berura (91:12) adds that one should wear a hat, explaining that this is the way people dress publicly. (In some circles, this is still true; in others, it does not apply at all).
Even in surroundings where one should cover his legs, there are limits to the severity of the matter. One’s tefilla is invalid after the fact only if his private parts are uncovered (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 91:1) or there is no separation between his heart and private parts (Biur Halacha ad loc.). There is some question as to whether it is better to daven or to skip davening if he is not able to cover his chest (ibid.). Regarding other “improper attire,” including one who has only shorts, he may daven. However, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 5) writes that when it is possible, one must be properly dressed.
Rav Ovadya Yosef (Yechaveh Da’at IV:8 – see also the dissenters he cites) says that in places (e.g., kibbutzim) and for people (children during the summer) where shorts are commonplace, it is permitted to daven in shorts (not as a chazan). We accept that approach, which leads to the challenge of determining whether short pants are commonplace enough in a give venue.
Does Shabbat change anything? Actually, shorts on Shabbat, not just at the time of davening deserves a similar discussion to the above, as one is supposed to wear nice clothing on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, OC 262:2). This is not a matter of oneg (enjoyment) but of kavod (honoring Shabbat), and this applies even when one is by himself (Mishna Berura 262:6) or prefers more casual clothes. Here, too, societal factors are crucial in determining what types of clothes are necessary, praiseworthy, and appropriate. (The Biur Halacha to 262:3 discusses whether wearing white clothes is showing off. In some circles, the same question could be raised about wearing a black hat, while in others a hat or even a shtreimel are expected). Factors such as age, weather, venue (vacation resort, camp) may also play a role.
Logic dictates that since we are taking a practical, subjective approach, there is every reason to combine factors. On average, people dress more formally at tefilla on Shabbat than they do either at tefilla during the week or on Shabbat outside of shul. The same is true regarding standing before important people, the model for attire for davening. One is likely to dress more formally at a formal setting with an important person than at a casual setting with him. We also find the honor of Shabbat elevating the prominence of other halachic matters. For example, a Shabbat meal warrants Sheva Berachot even without panim chadashot (Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 62:8); even minor eating (ara’i) is forbidden on Shabbat before taking ma’aser (Rambam, Ma’aser 3:4).
In summation, if it is rare for people to come to shul in your community with shorts on Shabbat, we would certainly agree with the content of the person who spoke to you (hopefully, in an appropriate way, which is not always easily done). If it is not uncommon, one needs to know where to draw the line, which is best done by local rabbis with a finger on the pulse of the community. In general, though, it is appropriate for the norm to be to wear long pants.
Delay Between Birkat Kohanim and Sim ShalomI, a kohen, turn around at the end of Birkat Kohanim when the chazan starts Sim Shalom. Recently, a chazan chanted a tune between Birkat Kohanim and Sim Shalom. Was that proper? Were we supposed to turn around when he started chanting or when he said Sim Shalom?
The gemara (Sota 39b) indeed says that kohanim should not turn around until the chazan begins Sim Shalom. Therefore, it seems that you should have waited until he actually started Sim Shalom, as an introductory tune does not have halachic standing. However, the matter deserves a better look.
Rashi (ad loc.) describes the end of Birkat Kohanim as follows: the congregation finishes saying Amen to the last beracha, the kohanim turn around and close their hands, the chazan starts Sim Shalom, and the kohanim start reciting “Ribono shel olam.” His order places turning around after Amen but before Sim Shalom (i.e., in your case, you did not have to wait). How could Rashi contradict an explicit gemara? The Maharshal (ad loc.), based on Rashi, says that the gemara means that the time for Sim Shalom must have come, i.e., the congregation must have completed answering Amen.
While Tosafot (Sota 39a) and the Ran (Megilla, 16a of the Rif’s pages) quote Rashi without comment, the Rambam (Tefilla 14:6) and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 128:15) bring the halacha with the simple reading of the gemara – when the chazan starts Sim Shalom. There is no indication from their wording or the sources that the Beit Yosef and commentaries cite that their intention is the Rashi/Maharshal approach.
Let us see if there is halachic logic to have to wait literally for the beginning of Sim Shalom. The apparent logic for the kohanim not to turn around immediately is that they should not rush to finish their job before Birkat Kohanim is totally finished, perhaps thereby showing disrespect to the blessings and the blessed (see Birkot Horai 12:(1)). Perhaps, then, Sim Shalom is not necessary, as long as Birkat Kohanim is over.
Does one need to start a new beracha to finish the previous section? This point seems to be at the heart of another halachic discussion. If one did not mention rain in the winter in the second beracha of Shemoneh Esrei until after the beracha, he needs to return to the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei (Shulchan Aruch, OC 114:4). However, the beracha is not considered over in this regard until he begins the next beracha; before this, he can insert the mention of rain where he is up to (ibid. 6). This provides a precedent for the end of one section (e.g., Birkat Kohanim) depending on the beginning of the next (e.g., Sim Shalom).
One might deflect this proof because: 1) Not everyone agrees with that Shulchan Aruch (see Biur Halacha ad loc.). 2) The Mishna Berura (114:31) says that one should start mentioning rain within k’dei dibbur (1-1/2 – 2 seconds) of the beracha’s end. To this, we respond: 1) Not only is the Shulchan Aruch ultimately accepted, but even some dissenters do not say that it is like one started the next beracha but that at that point the mistake is viewed as a nonretractable. 2. The Mishna Berura (based on Derech Hachayim 33:34) only says it is preferable to mention rain right away.
There are also strong indications (based on Megilla 18a) that Sim Shalom is the natural continuation of Birkat Kohanim and may serve as confirmation of the blessing (see Rav Nota Greenblatt in Afikei Torah, pg. 131) and is the appropriate time for the kohanim to commence the second stage of their blessing (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 128:15). Therefore, it makes sense that the gemara means that only after Sim Shalom actually begins should kohanim turn around and say Ribbono Shel Olam.
Kohanim should follow the consensus of poskim (see Magen Avraham 128:28; Mishna Berura 128:70) to not turn around until Sim Shalom starts. Chazanim should not procrastinate or chant before Sim Shalom, which confuses the kohanim and the congregation (see Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 23).
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