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Tefillin in Pre-Dawn HoursI work at a hospital and, some days, I am unable to wear tefillin during the day, but only pre-dawn. May I then put on tefillin before its regular time? [Our staff knows the querier.]
There are varied opinions among the Tannaim if, fundamentally, the mitzva of tefillin exists at night (Menachot 36b). According to most Rishonim (see Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 30; the Rambam, Tefillin 4:10 is a notable exception), tefillin does apply at night, fundamentally. However, we are not allowed to put on tefillin at night because of the concern that we may fall asleep and then release gas with the tefillin on (Rashi, Menachot 36b). (Certain circumstances, e.g. – the tefillin are still on from daytime, one needs the tefillin on to protect them – complicate the matter.) Although a halachic day starts at alot hashachar (72-90 minutes before sunrise), we are not supposed to put on tefillin until “misheyakir,” approximately 50 minutes before sunrise.
A baraita (Menachot 36a) says that if one will be on the road from before the time of tefillin and is concerned that if he does not wear them they are more likely to get lost, he can don them but make the beracha(ot) when the proper time comes. The Rambam does not cite this gemara, apparently because he reasoned it followed the opinion, which he did not accept, that tefillin fundamentally applies at night (see Beit Yosef ibid.). However, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 30:3) does pasken this baraita, and the Mishna Berura (30:11) assumes that this traveler can put on the tefillin even before alot hashachar.
One crucial question is about the nature of the above permission to put on the tefillin. Is it a sign that one is performing the mitzva before its normal time, or is he just wearing the tefillin to protect them without doing the mitzva at that time? The idea of waiting with the beracha seems to indicate that he does not fulfill a mitzva. In fact, Rabbeinu Peretz (cited by the Tur, OC 30) says that the baraita follows the opinion that tefillin does not apply at night, but that according to our ruling that it does, the traveler should make the beracha right away. The Shulchan Aruch (following the Rosh and others) rules not to recite the beracha then. The Shaagat Aryeh (45) posits that one fulfills the Torah-level mitzva of tefillin at that time, just that given that the Rabbis generally required to wait until misheyakir, the berachot were not instituted for unusual circumstances when it is permitted earlier. Eliya Rabba (30:3) says that if one mistakenly makes the beracha before daytime, he does not repeat it at the right time because the beracha was valid due to the Torah-level fulfillment. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (to OC 30:3) agrees not to repeat the beracha in that case, but it is due to the possibility that Rabbeinu Peretz is correct and the beracha was the right thing l’chatchila.
So while some disagree (see Divrei Mordechai (Friedberg) 4), we assume there is benefit to putting the tefillin on even before alot hashachar if the alternative is not putting them on at all. This is the recommendation of Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC I:10) and Rav Moshe Shternbach (Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:49). Rav Feinstein adds that if the person will not take the opportunity seriously if he is told not to make a beracha (this does not apply to you), one can rely on Rabbeinu Peretz and make the beracha. Rav Shternbach believes it is rare for a person to have no opportunity to put on tefillin for a few seconds and suspects that the issue is more often embarrassment to put them on at the workplace (we do not suspect this applies to you, either), which he does not consider justified in our times.Permission for the traveler to put on tefillin at night is based on the assumption that he will not fall asleep in those circumstances. Therefore, if one is not walking or riding but is being drawn in a carriage, he may not wear them (see Magen Avraham 30:5; Taz 30:5). If a doctor is on a long shift in which he is able/expected to catch power naps, the leniency does not apply.
Doing Tevilat Keilim Before Giving PresentI often give glass salad bowls as presents. Is there any problem with doing tevilat keilim on them before giving them to save time for the recipient or out of concern that they will not do tevila?
On a certain level, tevilat keilim is a matter of purifying utensils we obtain from a non-Jew, but it is not classical purification but a mitzva act that models purification, i.e., putting in a mikveh (see Rambam, Ma’achalot Assurot 17:5). This can help explain some lenient halachot, such as that food placed or prepared in a non-toveled utensil is untainted after being removed (Avoda Zara 75b). However, in the context of your question, poskim seem to apply the concept to create a stringency, which we will see after additional background.
The Beit Yosef (Yoreh Deah 120) cites a halacha from the Haghot Ashri that if one buys a knife to use for cutting parchment, not food preparation, and thus does not yet need tevila, one who borrows it from him does not have to do tevila even if he does use it for food. This is because a borrower is obligated in tevila only if the owner had an existing obligation. The Beit Yosef extends this logic to one who borrows a food-related utensil from one who bought it only to sell. Since the merchant was not obligated to do tevila, neither is the one who borrowed from him. Thus, using the “impure” utensil for food is not a problem if the grounds for an obligation of tevila did not materialize.
The Taz (YD 120:10) is not certain whether the Hagahot Ashri and/or the Beit Yosef are correct (even though the Rama, YD 120:8 brings the former as halacha). He says a borrower for food use from a merchant should, therefore, do tevila before using it. He warns, though, that word should be gotten to the eventual buyer to not to tovel it with a beracha. Later Acharonim (apparently including Rav S.Z. Auerbach, cited in Tevilat Keilim (Cohen) p. 241) understand that the buyer must do tevila even though the borrower already did it. The reason is that according to the opinions that there was no obligation to do tevila, the tevila did not work (Chelkat Binyamin 120:66; Tevilat Keilim 8:(9)). This must be based on the idea we started out with – tevilat keilim is not a matter of removing tumah, which should work even if there was no obligation, but of doing a mitzva, which usually needs to be done only after the mitzva is in force. In this case, the Taz and later Acharonim assume that not only did the borrower doing the tevila not fulfill the mitzva, but no purity was achieved. Therefore, when someone would buy and want to use it with food, he would need a new tevila. (While this is a surprising idea to me and not well known, the Taz seems to assume it.)
Therefore, the simple answer to your question is that your tevila prior to giving the present will not spare or save the recipient. Rav Cohen (ibid.) suggests having someone acquire it on behalf of the recipient, so that it will be obligated in tevila (as he will presumably use it for food), and at which point your tevila works. Rav Auerbach (ibid.) counters that since it is not clear that the recipient will use it himself, it is not yet defined as a utensil that is obligated in tevila. (It is not clear if/why the tevila will not work for the more common case that he will use it himself.)
One can suggest a different idea. You can plan to (and carry out after the tevila), use the utensils briefly, and thus the tevila will be needed for you and thus will be valid. (While this seems tacky, the whole idea of opening the package and putting the utensils in a mikveh before giving them is not exactly standard etiquette.)
In summary, there are both halachic and social issues about toveling utensils you will give as a present. If the recipient is one who might tovel himself, you, in any case, would have to discuss the matter with him (so that if your tevila works, he will not do tevila with a beracha l’vatala). In doing so, you can already ask him if it would be helpful for you to acquire it on his behalf and do the tevila for him.
Returning Another Person’s TheftI was at a coffee shop, and an ostensibly religious Jew (Reuven) left intentionally without paying. I heard the angry reaction of the proprietor (Shimon) and decided to pay instead of Reuven, hoping to reduce the chillul Hashem. Did my payment exempt Reuven? What about paying kefel (double payment for covert theft)? How did it affect Reuven’s teshuva process? Also, were the berachot Reuven made on the food l’vatala when it turns out retroactively the food was stolen?
Your actions and questions show noble concern for both your fellow man and the honor of Hashem, and it is a pleasure to analyze halachic elements you raise. There are troubling educational and societal issues in this scenario, as you understand it, but we will suffice with what you asked.
The gemara (Nedarim 33a) says that one who pays his friend’s debt is not considered giving his friend positive benefit but removing an obstacle (this makes a difference regarding nedarim and whether he can demand compensation from the debtor (see Ketubot 107b)). However, it is a given that the debt is considered paid, precluding the creditor’s further demands on the debtor. How payment by a person other than the debtor or his agent works is an important question. One possibility is a concept known as eved k’naani (Kiddushin 7a) –when Levi gives something to Yehuda on behalf of Naftali, it counts as if Naftali gave it (Chazon Ish, Even Haezer 36, p. 237). Another possibility is that there is an implied stipulation that the creditor is receiving money on condition that he waives the debtor’s debt (Mishneh Lamelech, Malveh 5:14).
Your question on kefel assumes there was theft, which is apparently not the case. The coffee shop willingly gave Reuven the food, and therefore Reuven did not steal. Rather, upon receiving the food, Reuven became obligated to pay for it, and he (purposely) did not fulfill this obligation. While it is an aveira not to pay a debt (see Tehillim 37:21), such a person does not incur kefel. One could argue that it was theft because had Shimon known Reuven’s plan (assuming the “eat and run” move was planned in advance), he would not have given the food. That is a fascinating outlook which has several related applications (see Pitchei Choshen, Halva’ah 2:(26) for one), to which we cannot do justice in this forum. On at least technical grounds, had Shimon read Reuven’s mind at the moment Reuven would have been stealing, i.e., when receiving/eating the food, Shimon likely would have forced him take the food and pay, rather than take the food back. In any case, kefel is predicated on beit din’s ruling, and since we have lost the uninterrupted chain of semicha from Moshe Rabbeinu, we now lack the authority to obligate penalty payments such as kefel (Bava Kama 84b).
If we view the food as stolen, then indeed the berachot were themselves an aveira (Bava Kama 94a). However, if we are correct, the food is permitted, and the fact that the situation will likely lead to do a future aveira (not paying) does not preclude a beracha (compare to poskim on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 196:1). Certainly, the food cannot become stolen retroactively.
Whatever the aveira violated, Reuven certainly requires teshuva. There are several elements to teshuva. Confessing sin, having remorse, and changing one’s future behavior are obviously not affected by your noble actions. However, there is also a matter of practically rectifying one’s actions vis a vis the person whom he wronged. The Rambam (Teshuva 2:9) refers to taking care of any money due and appeasing the victim for the accompanying affront. Your payment removes the ongoing requirement to pay his debt. This helps Reuven if he would otherwise ignore his duty to pay Shimon (although, to a great extent, reducing the positive value of paying if he had a change of heart). The matter of appeasement would still apply. Perhaps you removed some of the sting from Shimon, which probably helps Reuven, and we hope you succeeded in lessening the chillul Hashem.
Hatarat Nedarim for Promise Toward AnotherIf someone committed to a certain amount of Torah study to win a special aliya, may he do hatarat nedarim on it (with a good excuse)? (I assume there is no problem of nidrei mitzva.)
First, we urge the beit knesset to consider favorably stipulating that these commitments will not have the status of neder. Generally, we are to avoid nedarim (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 203:1-5). Although making a neder regarding Torah learning goals, among other mitzvot, is an exception (ibid. 6), it is different when there is particular concern he will not abide by the neder (see Kol Nidrei 3:2).
It is problematic to undo a neder to fulfill a mitzva in which one is anyway obligated, including accepting an amount of Torah learning (Aruch Hashulchan, YD 228:128-133). However, it can be done when there is enough need, and in certain cases of very great difficulty one may not even need hatarat nedarim (ibid.).
Is there is an added problem if there is a neder that was made as a means of acquiring something from his counterpart? According to the understanding of most Rishonim (see Beit Yosef, YD 228) the gemara (Nedarim 65a) says that such a neder can only be undone in the presence of and with the agreement of the counterpart (Rama, YD 228:20; the Shulchan Aruch apparently agrees- Shach and Taz ad loc.).
The gemara cites relevant stories from Tanach. Hashem told Moshe he required permission from Yitro to return to Egypt because of Moshe’s oath to stay with him, even though hatarat nedarim would have had obvious justification (i.e., to orchestrate yetziat Mitzrayim). King Tzidkiyahu was punished for not keeping his oath to Nevuchadnetzar to keep an embarrassing secret quiet, even though he too had a good reason for hatarat nedarim.
Rishonim deal with many complicated questions, including whether the hatarat nedarim works b’dieved if done improperly. On the one hand, Tzidkiyahu was a righteous king, so he ostensibly would not have relied on an invalid hatarat nedarim. On the other hand, perhaps his punishment is a sign the hatarat nedarim did not work (see Ran ad loc. and two opinions in the Shulchan Aruch, YD 228:20).
In our case, it would seem clear that one needs permission as the noder (the one making the neder) did get something (the honor) because of his learning pledge. (While it is a complicated matter, we will work with the assumption that the pledge is considered a neder.) There is an opinion that if there is a mitzva need for the hatarat nedarim, it is permitted without permission (Tosafot, Nedarim ibid., cited by the Rama, YD 228:20). One example of mitzva need is when the load of learning the person accepted is taking away from his more important/appropriate service of Hashem. It is far from clear that this leniency is accepted, (see Taz 228:33, who denies the Rama meant to rely on it).
However, the Noda B’Yehuda (II, Orach Chayim 117, cited by Pitchei Teshuva, YD 228:13) says that when there is a mitzva and no one loses out by his not keeping the neder, all permit hatarat nedarim. The analysis of our case, in terms of a loss to others, is tricky. On the one hand, if people can receive kibbudim by making pledges they will not keep, the system will not work. Additionally, the one who would otherwise have received the honor might be considered to lose out retroactively. On the other hand, if the pledge was sincere and realistic at the time, and the circumstances changed, does anyone gain by holding him to it?
In practice, our standard halachic advice would be that if there is a serious need, the noder should ask permission from an appropriate representative of the congregation (preferably the rabbi). It also makes sense for him to change the pledge for which he won the kibbud to another one of parallel seriousness that he can still handle. However, the specifics of each case need to be considered. We again urge congregations to consider explicitly making such bidding bli neder.
Imperfectly Said Tefillat HaderechWhen I go on bus tours, the tour guide often has someone say Tefillat Haderech, to which everyone answers “Amen,” before we leave the city limits of Yerushalayim. I thought it is supposed to be recited after you have left the city. In such a case, should I say "Amen"? Should I say it myself at the right time? Also, on a one day trip, if the person leaves out the phrase “v’tachzirenu l’vaytenu l’shalom,” should I repeat the tefilla with that phrase?
[We will not answer the question you did not ask: nowadays, when traveling in relatively built up areas, whether Tefillat Haderech is called for when traveling from point X to Y.]
The gemara (Berachot 30a) asks when one begins to recite Tefillat Haderech and until when, and answers “from the time he seizes the road” (there are different texts and it is hard to translate literally) and up to a parsa (approximately 4 km.), respectively. It is unclear from the Rishonim when one is considered on the road. The Magen Avraham (110:14) says it is after he leaves the city, and in fact comes to a place where there has been 70 amot without houses outside the city. (The determination on each road out of a city and whether rules for the city limits are the same as for eiruv techumin are beyond our present scope – see Machatzit Hashekel 110:14).
The Taz (110:7) says that there is no source for waiting until after leaving the city, as the gemara about seizing the road means just that one must be certain he is embarking on the journey. The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 110:6) cite the practice of the Maharam MiRutenberg to connect Tefillat Haderech to Birkot Hashachar (since Tefillat Haderech starts as an open beracha, which is fitting to follow a previous beracha). The Taz understands that this is done during Shacharit and thus before leaving the city. Others, including the Eliya Rabba (110:14), counter that the Maharam did this when he davened on the way. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 230:1) connects Tefillat Haderech to the beracha said for leaving the city one was visiting. The Pri Megadim (OC, Mishbetzot Zahav 110:7) sees that as a sign that he holds that it is recited right after leaving the city, even if there are still houses.
You are likely right that sometimes people recited Tefillat Haderech too early. However, b’di’eved (after the fact), this is not so bad. First, almost all Acharonim agree that b’di’eved one fulfills the obligation when reciting once he was preparing to leave (Eliya Rabba ibid., Mishna Berura 110:29). Therefore, the beracha is not l’vatala and you may and should answer Amen (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 215:2). Also, In our times, it may make more sense to say Tefillat Haderech earlier. In the past, the main concerns were bandits and animals, who were more prevalent outside the city, whereas nowadays our primary concern, car accidents, can happen anywhere (see an application in Shevet Halevi X:21). On the other hand, it is hard to change halachic rules based on such a factor.
One could argue that it would be best for you to answer Amen but have in mind not to be yotzei, and say it later yourself at the better time. However, besides possible awkwardness, you can lose out. One advantage of saying it relatively early is that Rashi (Berachot ibid.) understands that you must say Tefillat Haderech within the first parsa after leaving (the Rama OC 110:7 cites as l’chatchila), and, if the Taz is right or if you do not act quickly, you can miss. So simply being yotzei with everyone else is proper.
The matter of not saying the addition for the return trip is not an issue. The phrase (different siddurim have variations), is mentioned for all trips by certain Rishonim (Rosh, Berachot 4:18) and not by others (see Kaf Hachayim, OC 110:13). It is only some Acharonim and contemporary practice who set it aside for cases where you are returning the same day. Therefore, there is no good reason to be concerned that the validity of the beracha is affected by omitting it (Ishei Yisrael 50:(3)).
LED Shoes for Children on ShabbatCan a child wear on Shabbat shoes that have lights (LED) in the soles that light up when he walks?
The consensus is that activating light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on Shabbat is not a Torah-level prohibition, but is a Rabbinic level one. One connects a circuit and light is emitted (by the transfer of electrons through junctions of semi-conductors). It is not simple to pinpoint what the Rabbinic violation is (when the diodes do not form writing or pictures). Some (including Rav S.Z. Auerbach) say it is molid (creating something new), even though there is no explicit Talmudic category of molid with light. Others say it is under the category of uvdin d’chol, which is a sort of catch-all for things that by halachic intuition and precedent, must be forbidden on Shabbat, which we assume regarding operating electric systems on Shabbat.
In the case of a child’s shoes, we can raise various grounds for leniency. This is especially the case if we assume, as depends on the circumstances, that despite the initial excitement of watching himself light up his shoes, a child eventually walks without thinking about the lights. Since the lights definitely will go on, this is a case of p’sik reishei, someone who intends to do an act (e.g., walking) for a certain purpose, but, by necessity another result, which is forbidden (e.g., activating LEDs on Shabbat), also occurs. While p’sik reishei is forbidden, the Terumat Hadeshen (64) says that a p’sik reishei of a Rabbinic violation is permitted. While we accept the opinion of the Magen Avraham (314:5), who forbids p’sik reishei even of a Rabbinic prohibition (see Mishna Berura 314:11), it is still a mitigating factor.
At some point, it is possible that the child is not considered to have a preference that the shoes light up, in which case, we have a p’sik reishei d’lo nicha lei, which the Aruch permits (see Beit Yosef, OC 320). Admittedly, the Aruch’s opinion is not generally accepted (Shulchan Aruch, OC 320:18; see Mishna Berura 320:53, that all agree with the Aruch that there is no Torah prohibition). However, there are quite a few opinions (including Yabia Omer V, OC 28) that a p’sik reishei d’lo nicha lei on a Rabbinically forbidden result is permitted. While many are stringent even in that, in cases in which refraining from the matter at hand causes particular trouble, it is quite accepted to be lenient (Orchot Shabbat 30:5). Thus, if an adult were to ask about wearing the shoes in question, we would not allow it without special need, but this strict ruling would not be a definite one if he did not care out all about the lights.
When we turn to the question of a child wearing such shoes, the situation becomes much more lenient. If it is a toddler, who is too young to train in any serious way about observing Shabbat, then his parents do not have to distance him from violations of Shabbat. On the other hand, when one is involved in facilitating the prohibition for the child (the applications are broader than the Talmudic term of “feeding him by hand,” and certainly include putting shoes on him), it is prohibited. The Rashba and Ran say that this prohibition does not apply to Rabbinic prohibitions (see Beit Yosef, OC 343). While the Shulchan Aruch (OC 343:1) does not accept this opinion, many are lenient in certain cases of need, at least with small children (Orchot Shabbat 24:(32) - see Bi’ur Halacha to 343:1). Regarding something which is not even unanimously agreed to be forbidden for an adult, it is much easier to be lenient for a child.Despite all the technical grounds for leniency, it is very much out of the spirit of Shabbat to have a child wear such shoes on Shabbat, and, therefore, we rule that it is generally forbidden. That being said, if a one-time, unique situation arises where these are the only shoes the child is able to wear and the child does not think about activating the lights, it is possible to combine the indications for leniency and let a small child wear such shoes (or even put them on for him).
Products Containing Minute Quantities of Non-Kosher FoodI want to use a homeopathic allergy medicine that contains some apis mellifica, which is trace quantities of crushed honeybee. Is this permitted?
There is disagreement on the topic of alternative medicine. Extreme opinions are rarely right. Some treatments under the umbrella of alternative medicine are helpful, and some are quackery and serve as a placebo at best. There is also a significant category of medicines and treatments (homeopathic or conventional) whose efficacy is unclear or varies from person to person. We are not in the position to take a stand on which treatments fall into which category. This general disclaimer has added significance in the case of ingesting something non-kosher as a medication. There is significant room for leniency when ingesting non-kosher items in a not classic manner of eating for the medicinal needs of the sick (Pesachim 25b; Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Yoreh Deah 155:3). Not only do many cases of allergy not qualify as sick, but the Rama (ibid.) requires that a medicine must be proven effective for leniency to apply; this is rarely if ever true of homeopathy. So let us look at the kashrut of the ingredient in question.
Bees are sheratzim and thus not kosher, even though their honey is (Rambam, Maachalot Assurot 3:3). It is permitted to eat honey into which taste from parts of bees enters, because the taste is assumed to be negative (Shulchan Aruch, YD 81:8). One could say that this is only true when bee parts fell in accidentally, but that if one purposely put them in, he thereby gives them importance, thus preventing bitul (nullification) due to its bad taste (achshevei – Chulin 120a). Many poskim (including Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim II:92, Minchat Shlomo II:65) say that if the purpose of the non-kosher food is not related to its food qualities but just medicinal ones, achshevei does not apply.
In this case, we ostensibly have a simpler reason for permissibility - homeopathic solutions use trace quantities of the active ingredient, so that there is usually sixty times more kosher than non-kosher (see Shulchan Aruch, YD 98:1). On the other hand, bitul is supposed to come about by accident, whereas it is forbidden to add kosher material to arrive at criteria for bitul (Shulchan Aruch, YD 99:5). If this is done, the bitul is disqualified, and the food remains forbidden for the person who did the bitul and those for whom he did it (ibid.). Ostensibly, in this case, that is the consumers of the apis mellifica.
However, bitul is disqualified as a penalty for the sin of nullifying the forbidden food. If the food was put into a mixture in which it is batel by a non-Jew, who is obviously not forbidden to make that mixture, there is no reason to penalize him, and it is permitted, according to most opinions, for a Jew to buy the product (see Badei Hashulchan 99:38).
If the company is owned by Jews but the act of nullification was done by non-Jews, the matter is not simple. On the one hand, the Beit Yosef (YD 99) says that if a Jew asked a non-Jew to do bitul, the Jew cannot eat it (or sell it to profit from the bitul – Rama ibid.). On the other hand, even if a Jew did bitul, the Taz (99:9) says that if he did not realize it is forbidden for him to do so, the mixture is permitted.
Apparently, the product in question has an edible base (including alcohol), whose kashrut we cannot confirm, and thus ingesting may be forbidden due to the inactive ingredient. This leads us to an interesting question. Would it be permitted to give a hasgacha to this product? The Badei Hashulchan (to 99:5) says that this is forbidden because the rabbi becomes a partner in the nullification process through his instructions. However, this is logical only in a case where the rabbi has them do the process according to his instruction. If, though, the regular process renders the mixture kosher by bitul, formal halacha should allow him to inform the public of this fact. However, formal hechsherim are not generally given in such cases (see Igrot Moshe, YD II:41).
Removing Hair from EyebrowsI am a young man with a unibrow, which I find very embarrassing. May I remove some hair with tweezers from that area? Also, may I remove some more hair to make my eyebrows less bushy?
The gemara (Nazir 58b-59a) forbids a man to shave his pubic and underarm hair with a razor. There are different versions on whether this ruling is a severe Rabbinic violation or a violation of the Torah law forbidding a man to do things of aesthetics that are considered feminine (“lo yilbash gever simlat isha” – see Devarim 22:5).
There is a machloket among the Rishonim (see Beit Yosef, Yoreh Deah 182) whether there is any problem with hair removal from other parts of the body. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 182:1) rules that in these other places, it is forbidden only with a razor, whereas it is otherwise permitted even to cut short with scissors. Presumably, tweezing eyebrows falls under the category of being permitted.
The gemara (ibid.) tells of one whom Rav Ami gave a special dispensation when Rav Ami discovered he did not remove underarm hair. The Ran (Avoda Zara, 9b of the Rif’s pages) makes the following halachic observations. It must have occurred in a place where most men remove hair from there, so that we see that hair removal is then permitted, just that the pious still avoid it. This is how the Rama (YD 182:1) rules. The Rambam (Avoda Zara 12:9) says that in that case, it is not a severe Rabbinic violation, which warrants flogging, but, as the Beit Yosef (ibid.) understands the Rambam, it is still forbidden, as he rules in the Shulchan Aruch (YD 182:1). The Rav Pealim (III, YD 18), after declaring that Sephardim should rule like the Shulchan Aruch, justified the wide practice in Bagdad for men to remove hair from one of the problematic places using chemicals, given that women do it by razor.
While we find that changed practice can turn classically forbidden grooming into permitted, practice can also expand matters forbidden due to its feminine nature. The gemara (Makkot 20b) forbids removing individual hairs (from the head or the beard, which is generally permitted) if he is removing white hairs from among dark hairs, to make him look younger, as women do. Similarly, poskim of our era have generally assumed that grooming eyebrows is a feminine activity, and thus, as a rule, is forbidden for men.
Even so, fixing a unibrow is permitted according to rabbinic consensus (including Rav S.Z. Auerbach, cited in Nishmat Avraham, YD, p. 140). While not meaning to put down anyone who is willing to keep it, many, including you, consider it an embarrassing blemish (in some cultures, it is desired). Just as the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 4) permits hair removal that would otherwise be forbidden when it is done to alleviate skin pain, so too it is permitted to remove emotional distress, even if it is not extreme. The main rationale is not that the need enables waiving minor prohibitions or relying on lenient opinions. Rather, the prohibition is based on the assumption that a man is acting with a degree of care for beautification that is generally reserved for women (see Igrot Moshe, YD II:61, in permitting coloring hair in order to get a job for which he looks too old). Removing a unibrow is not seen as acting to looking one’s absolute best, but just as avoiding sticking out negatively, and this is not within the prohibition’s parameters.
Regarding bushy eyebrows, the matter is less clear-cut and depends on time/place but likely also on the degree of grooming one is talking about. Extreme bushiness could reach the point of blemish. Regarding cases that are within the bounds of normal, we would say that a few decades ago, it was forbidden. However, it has become increasingly common for men to groom eyebrows (the norms of non-Jews are, according to many, relevant for determining these matters – Prisha, YD 282:5). Therefore, it is likely permitted these days in many places. We would just say that a man should do the grooming in the way men do it, if and assuming it is different from the way women do.
Kashering Frozen LiverIf a piece of liver was frozen for weeks, can it be cooked and roasted?
Your question touches on several halachic issues, which we will mention only in passing as necessary background for the answer to your question.
As you know, meat must have its blood removed before it can be eaten. Not everyone is aware that the main halachic problem relates to blood that moved from its initial position (Kritot 21b; Beit Yosef, Yoreh Deah 67). Salting, following the regular process, which includes rinsing the meat, is usually sufficient to remove the blood (YD 69). However, due to the high concentration of blood in liver, salting is insufficient and the more powerful process of broiling is required, after slitting the meat to allow blood to flow out more easily (Shulchan Aruch, YD 73:1). (There are important halachot regarding this process that we assume you know or will learn).
One of the situations that makes it more difficult to remove blood from any meat is if it sat 72 hours in between the shechita and the salting (Shulchan Aruch, YD 69:12). The situation can be remedied only by removing the blood through broiling (ibid.). The classical poskim were unsure to what extent broiling is fully effective in that case. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) takes a middle approach. On the one hand, he is concerned that the broiling did not remove all the blood, so that if one cooked (or fried or sautéed) the meat afterward, some blood could come out and render the meat not kosher. Therefore, one should not cook such meat even after broiling. On the other hand, since it is not certain that further blood will be displaced in the process, if he did cook such meat after broiling, it is permissible to eat it.
Decades ago, there was a major halachic dispute regarding the aforementioned 72 hours. Important poskim (including Aruch Hashulchan, YD 69:79, Yabia Omer II, YD 4) reason that if one froze the meat solid (basar kafoo), so that chemical processes are suspended, the “72-hour clock” stops. Others argue that freezing cannot change the halacha. (Nowadays the salting process is almost always done at the slaughtering facility soon after the shechita.) If one takes the lenient approach there, then the liver as well, assuming (on technical grounds, a safe assumption) it was frozen well within 72 hours, the broiling should work as it normally does.
The question is if one were to be stringent in regard to salting frozen meat. Based on our introductory words, we should understand the following Pitchei Teshuva (YD 69:26). He cites the Chamudei Daniel as saying that although one should not let meat sit for 72 hours before salting because he might improperly cook it instead of broiling (Rama, YD 69:12), he may let liver sit that long, because in any case one always has to broil liver. He raises the issue that the broiling of the liver is not a full solution for liver that sat 72 hours (which is no better than such meat) since one is not allowed to cook it after broiling. However, he answers that since we said that if he did cook after a delayed broiling, he may eat it, the issue is not so serious and one may therefore allow liver to sit 72 hours.
The same approach of relative leniency regarding liver that is to be broiled as compared to meat that is to be salted will help answer your question as well. It is quite a stringency to keep the 72 hour clock ticking when meat is frozen. Therefore, it is certainly halachically safe to use liver freely after broiling after it was frozen for 72 hours (see HaKashrut (Fuchs) 9:(263)). It is also permitted to l’chatchila allow this situation of freezing the liver with this intention, as Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechaveh Da’at VI:46) explains cogently.There is a difference of opinion among poskim whether one must wait for the liver to thaw before broiling (so that the beginning of the process not be considered cooking the liver in liquid as it thaws) or whether broiling is effective in any case (see HaKashrut 9:87).
Al Hamichya on a FruitI ate a fruit that requires the beracha acharona of Al Ha’eitz but, due to a lack of concentration, I recited Al Hamichya. Do I have to subsequently recite the correct beracha acharona?
It actually depends which fruit you ate. We will start, though, with the Levush’s (Orach Chayim 208:17) overview of the various berachot acharonot and of one reciting the wrong one.
Birkat Hamazon is a Torah-level obligation (see Devarim 8:10), prescribed by the Torah for bread, which is filling and is the staple of a classic diet. The Rabbis modeled a Birkat Hamazon-style beracha (Me’ein Shalosh) for the seven foods that are mentioned in the p’sukim around the one on Birkat Hamazon. (There are opinions that this too is a Torah-level obligation.) Within the versions of Me’ein Shalosh, the highest level (and thus the first mentioned when one makes a beracha on multiple Me’ein Shalosh foods) is Al Hamichya because it is for grain-based foods, which are generally more filling than fruits. Afterward, wine (Al Hagefen) is more important, followed by Al Haeitz for grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. The Levush explains that it is obvious that a lower-level or an inaccurate beracha is insufficient for that which requires a higher-level one. Additionally, a higher-level beracha does not cover foods which call for lesser praise because an exaggerated beracha is not of value. Thus, for example, reciting Birkat Hamazon for vegetables, as if it constituted a meal, is valueless, and Borei Nefashot must still be said.
Two exceptions to this rule are dates and wine. The gemara (Berachot 12a, as understood by Rishonim – see Beit Yosef, OC 208) says that if one recited Birkat Hamazon after eating dates, he fulfilled his obligation because dates are particularly filling. Another gemara (ibid. 35b) says similarly that wine is filling and would have required Birkat Hamazon if not for the fact that people rarely make it the basis of a meal. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 208:17) rules that Birkat Hamazon is valid after-the-fact for dates and wine. All other foods that require Me’ein Shalosh are not exempted by Birkat Hamazon that was recited on them outside the framework of a meal with bread (ibid.).
What about when the mistake was to recite Al Hamichya instead of Al Haeitz (or Al Hagefen)? The Levush (ibid.) assumes that regarding dates and wine, if Birkat Hamazon is not too much of an exaggeration, then certainly Al Hamichya is not, and one would not have to repeat Me’ein Shalosh. The Taz (OC 208:16, see Pri Megadim ad loc.) disagrees. He argues that Birkat Hamazon contains the word zan (roughly, sustain), which is appropriate for dates and wine, whereas michya (roughly, food that gives life) is a different quality, which does not apply to them. The Malbushei Yom Tov (208:11) reasons that the fact that the halacha of fulfilling the beracha on dates with the wrong beracha acharona was said in regards to Birkat Hamazon implies that Al Hamichya is invalid even after-the-fact, and the Eliya Rabba (208:26) does not discount this possibility. However, the majority of Acharonim assume that after Al Hamichya for dates or wine, one does not need another beracha (see Minchat Shlomo 91, V’zot Haberacha p. 48). Since the general rule is that when is in doubt, he does not make another beracha, this is the proper ruling to adopt.
The question of Al Hamichya sufficing for dates and wine is much more complicated when one had both grains and dates or wine and mentioned “al hamichya” without the other elements. In that case, we assume that the person, when omitting the other elements, demonstrated that he did not remember the need to have the beracha cover them. Therefore, the stronger view in that case is to repeat Me’ein Shalosh with just the missing element (see discussion in Har Tzvi, OC I:108; Yalkut Yosef, OC 207:(2)).
The clear consensus is that one does not fulfill his beracha acharona obligation on grapes, figs, pomegranates, and olives with Birkat Hamazon or Al Hamichya (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 208:17).
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