Home > Ask The Rabbi
ASK THE RABBI
Do not hesitate to ask any question about Jewish life, Jewish tradition or Jewish law.
Reading before Going to SleepIs it permissible to read a book after the bedtime Shema/Hamapil? I like to read in bed before falling asleep, but I sometimes fall asleep and, if I have not said them beforehand, it is possible that I will sleep through the night without reciting them.
Reciting the beracha of Hamapil is mandated by the gemara (Berachot 60b) and codified as halacha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 239:1). We say it in conjunction with Kri’at Shema prior to going to bed, which is also an obligation (Berachot 4b; Shulchan Aruch ibid.), and there are other p’sukim and texts relating to our desire for divine protection during sleep.
The gemara says that one makes the beracha as he prepares to lie down in bed to sleep. The Rama (OC 239:1) says that one should not eat, drink, or talk between Kri’at Shema and actually sleeping. Most assume that this applies as much or more to interruptions between Hamapil and sleeping.
A break could be particularly problematic after Hamapil for two reasons. First, if one made a break after Kri’at Shema, he can repeat Kri’at Shema as much as he likes (according to Rama ibid., the more the better). In contrast, one may not recite Hamapil, which is a beracha, at will (Mishna Berura 239:4). Furthermore, there is a fundamental question as to Hamapil’s function. The Chayei Adam (35:4) says that the beracha is a general thanks to Hashem for providing sleep, and it is appropriate to recite it at night, when people generally sleep. He says that the beracha remains appropriate even if one did not end up falling asleep, because other people did sleep. This is similar to the idea of one reciting Birchot Hashachar for things from which people benefit in the morning, even if he did not personally benefit that day from those things (Shulchan Aruch, OC 46:8). On the other hand, many cite the Seder Hayom, who says that Hamapil should be said very close to the time one falls asleep, as the beracha relates to one’s personal sleep. The Biur Halacha (239:1) strengthens this opinion by pointing out that Hamapil was composed in the first person, implying it refers to the sleep of the one reciting the beracha (see Sha’arei Teshuva 46:12).
The question then is whether reading is a hefsek (a halachic break) between Kri’at Shema/Hamapil and sleeping. Reading with one’s eyes (without moving his lips) is halachically considered hirhur, i.e., thinking about something (see Mishna Berura 47:8). Although the gemara cites a dispute on the status of hirhur, the consensus is that it does not generally count as speaking (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 62:3; 47:4). Therefore, when only a full hefsek is forbidden, reading is not forbidden (see Yabia Omer, II, OC 4 regarding learning between Yishtabach and Kaddish). After Kri’at Shema/Hamapil is not a particularly strict time. On the other hand, we have seen that the ideal is to do the recitations as close as possible to going to sleep.
In practice, the best advice depends on the way your reading and sleeping interact. If the reading is relatively short and a part of how you fall asleep, then you can do the recitations before reading; the reading can be considered a part of the process of going to sleep (similar to adjusting the blanket, or at least like setting an alarm that you forgot to do before). If you read at that time because it is a convenient/pleasant time to do so and then put down the book and make the final preparations for sleep, Kri’at Shema/Hamapil should be part of those final preparations. If the reading is something in between, where you sometimes finish reading and then get ready for bed and sometimes fall asleep while you are reading, then you should read until you feel yourself getting close to sleep. At that point, you should do the recitations and either put the book down or continue the final minute(s) of reading. If you accidentally fall asleep before reciting Hamapil, you are not to be blamed. Only if it is likely that you will fall asleep soundly without enough warning is it better to recite Hamapil/Kri’at Shema first.
Short Mincha on ShabbatIn my community (I am the rabbi), we daven Mincha during the week without a separate chazarat hashatz (=heiche Kedusha) because of people’s busy schedules. In the winter, we have the practice of davening Mincha of Shabbat after the shul Kiddush following Musaf. Some congregants have requested that we do short Mincha, as their wives wait to go home with them. Is there any basis to allow this?
Chazarat hashatz was instituted after the silent Shemoneh Esrei and for the purpose of providing Shemoneh Esrei for those who cannot daven themselves (Rosh Hashana 34b). Of course, we continue doing it even if no one needs such a service, and it has a special status of tefilla in and/or of the tzibbur. Chazal also instituted that the chazan recites a silent Shemoneh Esrei before chazarat hashatz, even though that could have fulfilled both his private and public obligations. It is done so the chazan can “practice” before chazarat hashatz (ibid.).There was a time when heiche Kedusha was done with the chazan continuing to recite the amida out loud while individuals were saying it quietly (see Radbaz IV:94; Magen Avraham 232:2). The way we do heiche Kedusha (the chazan stops reciting the amida out loud after HaKel Hakadosh), we miss all of these elements, and what is left is the ability to recite Kedusha together.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 124:1) allows one who needs to be chazan but comes to shul very late to recite chazarat hashatz “without practice.” The Rama (ad loc.) notes that if they will not be able to recite Shemoneh Esrei and chazarat hashatz before the appointed time, the tzibbur may start Shemoneh Esrei with the chazan. (In Living the Halachic Process III, A-2, we discussed whether the tzibbur should start immediately or after Kedusha.) Another situation of need brought to justify heiche Kedusha is when it is unclear if the requisite number of people will answer amen to chazarat hashatz (see Radbaz ibid.). The Beit Yosef (OC 124) relates that the minhag in most congregations was to regularly do a shortened Mincha but he does not cite this as halacha in the Shulchan Aruch. The Darchei Moshe (ad loc. 3) reports that this was not the minhag in the communities he knew of and permits it only for cases of need. Nevertheless, a reasonable minority of congregations (like yours) always posit that they have enough need to shorten the davening at Mincha during the week, which is a local rabbi’s call.
You ask if this can be done on Shabbat, for a new need – so that wives do not have to wait too long for husbands. We have found opinions that restrict when one can do heiche Kedusha. The Pri Megadim (EA, OC 591:1) raises the problem of fulfilling one’s amida obligation with chazarat hashatz on a day that piyutim are said, as they can be a hefsek. Another questionable situation is on a fast day where the chazan is not able to recite Aneinu as a separate beracha (see Magen Avraham ibid.; Biur Halacha 232:1).
Of course these problems do not apply at a regular Shabbat Mincha, and we have not identified other problems. The practice of chazarat hashatz is not significantly different on Shabbat than during the week. We have not found sources that preclude heiche Kedusha. While there is little literature on the topic of doing so, the fact that a minority of Sephardi communities do so for Shabbat Musaf regularly, without special need, lends credence to its halachic legitimacy.
You are likely bothered by the lack of a minhag to do short Mincha in communities you have seen, which is a valid concern. However, this does not necessarily mean there is a minhag against it. Rather, on Shabbat it is rare for there not be enough time or that the minyan is so weak that this is necessary.Thus, it is a question of advisability. To what extent is lowering the level of an element of tefilla justified to encourage more people to come (or stay)? To what extent does it foster harmonious relationships within the community and its families? You are more equipped to answer than we are.
Shaming those who do Not VaccinateIs it permitted to publicly shame those that do not vaccinate their children for measles and put people in the community at risk in order to get them to vaccinate?
[Presumably, some readers will find our response offensively strong and others will find it vexingly weak – this is often a sign of reasonable balance.]
Let us first summarize the medical consensus. (We do not give medical advice when there is not a consensus). Measles is a highly contagious disease that is at least unpleasant but more importantly can cause severe long-term health problems, and occasionally death. Immunization includes an extremely low chance of severe problems and normally only causes mild discomfort. It is recommended by virtually all doctors. Although the vaccination is not foolproof, its success rate in preventing contracting measles is well above 90 percent. Therefore, when almost the entire population is vaccinated, there are only a handful of cases of measles a year, and such a disease has a chance of being eradicated. When many are not vaccinated, an outbreak can occur, as has happened in Jerusalem. Then, while each individual vaccinated person is unlikely to contract measles, a certain percentage of the many exposed to it will. Children before their second dose are slightly more susceptible, and babies under a year old, who are too young to be vaccinated, are at great risk.
Halacha believes in following the instructions of doctors, whether Jewish or not, to the extent that their orders to save lives are sufficient grounds to violate Torah-level Shabbat violations (Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chayim 328:10). When there is disagreement between doctors, weight is given to both the number and the level of expertise on the various sides (see Biur Halacha ad loc.). The obligation to protect one’s health is a more severe matter than avoiding aveirot (Chulin 10a). Therefore, it is not surprising that poskim rule that one who refuses to follow doctor’s life-saving orders can be coerced to do so (Magen Avraham 328:6). The matter is even clearer when one not only endangers himself but is endangering others. If vaccination was being done almost universally, one might have the right to listen to his medical advisor (non-standard doctor or rabbi or “guru”), as the risk raised by a small number of not vaccinated people is small. But when it becomes a trend, it is dangerous, and when an area is in the midst of an outbreak (because of the prevalence of such people), the situation is grave, as is unfortunately the case in Jerusalem at the time I am writing.
In theory, then, it is justified to take steps to pressure people to vaccinate. Despite this, we at Eretz Hemdah oppose individuals taking the matter into their own hands by shaming (whether the old-fashioned ways or through social media). The precedent of condoning such behavior is extremely dangerous to society. One will shame over a medical matter; another over something religious; another for a political cause, etc. Do realize that when rebuking people for doing aveirot, one must not do so by means of shaming a person, especially publicly (Rambam, De’ot 6:8)
We are believers in steps being taken by those with responsibility and authority. In this case, public health officials, in cooperation with other government arms, should take the steps their experts deem appropriate. In many cases, intense public education is more effective than attempts at coercion, but they have the prerogative and even responsibility to the public to take punitive steps if deemed necessary.
What an individual and an “unauthorized” group may do is take steps focused on protecting themselves. At a time of an outbreak, it is legitimate to avoid contact with friends or relatives who do not vaccinate, even when it is insulting. A shul, by decision of its rabbi and officers, may decide that the danger at a given time warrants demanding of such people not to come/bring their children to shul. But intentional shaming is not the way to go about it.
Interruptions during HallelIs it and/or under what conditions is it permitted to interrupt Hallel for matters of some importance?
The mishna (Berachot 13a) cites two opinions about when it is permitted to greet people during Kri’at Shema and its berachot. The factors are: whether the speaking is in the midst of a beracha or section of Kri’at Shema or between units; how important is the person one is greeting; whether one initiates or responds. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 66:1) rules that between units, one may initiate greetings to any respected person and respond to anyone. Within units, one can only initiate to one’s father, rebbe, or a great scholar, as well as someone who can cause him harm; he can respond to anyone who is respected. Responding to Kaddish, Kedusha, and Barchu is important enough to do even in the midst of a unit (ibid. 3).
The gemara (Berachot 14a) inquires whether one may be as lenient regarding when he may speak during Hallel as during Kri’at Shema. It considers that on the one hand, Kri’at Shema may be more stringent because the mitzva to recite it is a Torah law. On the other hand, Hallel might be more severe, since it is an act of publicizing Hashem’s greatness. The gemara posits that Hallel is not more severe. The gemara then distinguishes between days in which “Full Hallel” is recited (e.g., Yom Tov, Chanuka), in which case one may interrupt only in between units, and days in which “Half Hallel” is recited (Rosh Chodesh, Chol Hamoed Pesach), in which case one may interrupt even within a unit. (Hallel’s units are the mizmorim which constitute it; these correspond to the “chapter numbers” that are usually used.)
Sephardim have a clear reason to distinguish between the two types of Hallel recitations: Full Hallel has berachot before and after it, which Half Hallel lacks (Shulchan Aruch, OC 422:2). The juxtaposition between berachot makes it problematic to talk (see Tosafot, Berachot 14a). However, even Ashkenazim, who make berachot before and after both types of Hallel, accept the above distinction. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that only on the days of Full Hallel is there a real obligation to recite; when there is no obligation, interruptions are less problematic.
We cannot go through all the permutations that can arise, but we will address some. The basic difference is that the same respected person whom one may greet only between the units of Kri’at Shema (Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:1), one may greet during Half Hallel even in the midst of mizmorim (ibid. 422:4).
Nowadays, most people do not view the need to greet others as seriously as Chazal did. Therefore, the poskim have assumed for quite some time that it is no longer appropriate to greet others during Kri’at Shema (Mishna Berura 66:2). Since one cannot speak at any time during Hallel without a special reason (Shulchan Aruch, OC 422:4), the same is true for Hallel, and we do not greet people even during Half Hallel (Dirshu, 422:25). What remains permitted to talk about is mainly matters of mitzva that need to be recited, and we will give a few examples. Answering Kaddish, Kedusha, and Barchu can be done even in the middle of a unit of Kri’at Shema (Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:3) and therefore certainly during Hallel. Regarding one who is called up to the Torah when he is still in Kri’at Shema, there are several opinions (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:4), but the standard one is that he does go up but should try to make it to a unit break before he starts the aliya (Mishna Berura 66:26; see details of how to handle the aliya). If this was during a Half Hallel, it would not be necessary to make it to a unit break. If one has to go to the bathroom, he should not recite Asher Yatzar until after Shemoneh Esrei (Mishna Berura 66:23) and in this case after Hallel because it can wait. The poskim dispute whether one may recite the beracha on thunder because it cannot be done later, and the more accepted opinion is to do so only if it is between units of Kri’at Shema (Mishna Berura 66:19). During Half Hallel, it would be permitted at any point.
Shaming one who does not vaccinateShalom Eretz Chemda, Is it permitted to publicly shame those that do not vaccinate their children and put other people in the community at risk in order to get them to vaccinate? Thank you very much Please dont print my name.
It is our opinion that the government (Health Ministry) who should set proper and effective penalties on people who do not vaccinate in those cases in which it endangers others. It is a dangerous precedent for individuals to take the right to resort to shaming, which, as we know, can be used for a variety of reasons, even if in a case like this, the rationale is noble (saving lives). On the other hand, individuals and groups have every right to distance danger from themselves. Thus, one can turn down an invitation to someone's house or not invite someone he normally would have if there is some at risk for exposure to the disease (e.g., children under the age of a year). A shul can decide to tell people who(se children) are not vaccinated that they should not come to shul. This, though, should be done without going out of one's way to shame, as the Rambam (Hilchot Deot 6:8) writes about rebuke.
Muktzeh during Bein HashemashotMay one “violate” muktzeh during bein hashemashot (=bhs; the time between sunset and nightfall treated as a doubt of day or night) based on the rule of sefika d’rabbanan l’kula (we are lenient in cases of doubt of a Rabbinic prohibition) even without a mitzva need. If not, why?
The gemara (Eiruvin 32b) cites R. Yehuda Hanasi (=RYHN) as saying that anything that is forbidden only Rabbinically on Shabbat is permitted during bhs. The gemara’s language implies that the Rabbis made a conscious decision to not extend their prohibitions to this period, not that it is based on sefika d’rabbanan l’kula. The Rosh Yosef (Shabbat 34a) does attribute RYHN’s rule to safek d’rabbanan l’kula, but he points out that this rule does not apply to all Rabbinic laws. If it were a simple application of safek d’rabbanan l’kula, it would apply equally to bein hashemashot entering Shabbat and bein hashemashot ending Shabbat. Saturday evening bhs is actually the subject of debate among the poskim (see Mishna Berura 342:2 and Biur Halacha ad loc.). In any case, the RYHN’s rule is “on the books” at least for Friday evening. However, there is a need for further halachic exploration.
The Rambam (Shabbat 24:10, accepted by the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 342:1) writes that the leniency applies only when it is needed to enable a mitzva or in a pressing situation. How great must this need be? On the one hand, the Mishna Berura cites the Gra as requiring the pressing need to be a great one. On the other hand, he writes (Biur Halacha, ad loc.) that even if the thing only adds oneg (enjoyment) to Shabbat, this is considered for a mitzva, even if there are alternatives. This seems to contradict what he writes (in Mishna Berura 261:4), in the context of taking ma’aser during bein hashemashot, that it is a mitzva only when there is not alternative food. The needs of guests are generally equivalent to those of mitzva (Rama, OC 333:1).
As we mentioned, not all d’rabbanans are equal. A mishna (Shabbat 34a) mentions actions that are permitted during bhs (eiruv chateizrot, hatmana, ma’aser of d’mai), and there are strong indications that these are permitted without special need. On the other hand, many poskim say that certain Rabbinic prohibitions are forbidden even during bhs for a mitzva because they bring one too close to a Torah-level Shabbat violation (see Mishna Berura 342:1). One example is a melacha that is done in the form of a melacha she’eina tzricha l’gufa. In the other direction, some say that actions that are forbidden as weekday-like activity or melacha-related speech do not require special need (see Dirshu 342:11).
Where does muktzeh stand in this regard? Some explanations of muktzeh connect it to the concern that one will come to fully violate Shabbat, e.g., carrying to a reshut harabim (see Rambam and Ra’avad, Shabbat 24:13). However, indications are that muktzeh is a regular Rabbinic law in our regard, as the Mishna Berura (394:3) posits.These halachot are of limited practical value. According to our consensus (against Rabbeinu Tam), bhs begins directly after what we call sunset. Although many communities do not consider it night for 20-25 minutes, since the core opinion is that bhs is around 13 minutes, we do not allow Rabbinic prohibitions beyond that (Orchot Shabbat 27:(69)). Another time issue is tosefet Shabbat, which prevents us from doing work before actual nightfall (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 261:1). While RYHN’s rule does not impact tosefet regarding the Torah level, it is likely that a short time at the end of bhs should be free of Rabbinic prohibitions as well (Biur Halacha to 342:1). It is permitted to apply RYHN’s leniency after one personally accepted Shabbat, when there is proper need (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 46:19 rules this way, despite citing dissenters). However, once the community has, as a group, accepted Shabbat (through davening, probably, at Mizmor Shir …), an individual may no longer use this leniency (Mishna Berura 261:28).
Greeting before DaveningThe Mishna Berura rules that one may not go over to his friend’s place in shul before davening. As the shul’s rabbi, is there a heter for me to go over to a new congregant to make him feel welcome and comfortable with our tefilla?
After discussing the halacha in general, we will examine if and how it can be different for a rabbi.
The gemara (Berachot 14a) forbids greeting someone with “Shalom” before Shacharit. It then asks from the mishna which allows, at times, greeting someone even during Kri’at Shema and its berachot. The gemara answers that the problem is when you go specially to his place to greet; if one chances upon him, it is permitted (see Rashi, ad loc.). The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 89:2) describes the case of not going out of his way as one in which he went to see to something that needed attention, and in the course of going there, greeted his friend.
The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) cites room for leniency once one has recited Birchot Hashachar. While most Acharonim severely limit this leniency (see Taz ad loc. 2), Ishei Yisrael cites some who are lenient to greet without saying “Shalom” after Birchot Hashachar.
The Magen Avraham (89:7, accepted by the Mishna Berura 89:12) says that once one has cause to be near his friend’s house, he may continue on to his house to greet him. A few Acharonim (including the Pri Megadim (89, Eshel Avraham 7), accepted by the Mishna Berura (89:9)) say that it is forbidden to go from his place in shul to his friend’s place. Why don’t these two rulings contradict each other? Is it permitted to go several feet out of one’s way for this purpose or not? I believe the following distinction explains the matter. If one legitimately went quite a distance to the point that he is near his friend’s house, going a few more feet to greet him is “called for” and permitted. If one is in shul and the natural thing is for him to daven, going over to someone else first is inappropriate. Therefore, one should not leave his place in shul or detour noticeably on his way there (Piskei Teshuvot 89:150 is lenient on detouring).
However, there are several arguments to allow you, the shul’s rav, to greet someone when you think it will be meaningful. One is need based. The Mishna Berura (89:10) says that one may greet a violent person before Shacharit to avoid enmity. On the other hand, he does not permit this for every legitimate need; he writes there that one should not go to greet his father or rebbe. Perhaps the distinction is that normally, these important people do not need or want one’s greeting specifically before davening. In contrast, if someone will be affected positively by the rabbi’s approaching him right away, this is likely sufficient need. Furthermore, if the problem is to not see to your needs first but to your relationship with Hashem, then your greeting to another Jew to further his relationship with Hashem should be permitted.
Additionally, the Eshel Avraham (Butchatch) suggests that it is only problematic to go greet someone in his place, but it is fine in a public place like a shul. Although most poskim reject this idea, a similar idea may be more widely acceptable. Part of the job of many rabbis is to deal with issues and help matters run nicely throughout the shul. Therefore, one can look at such a rabbi’s “domain” as throughout the shul, so that he is never really leaving his domain whenever he greets someone within the shul. Thus, there are ample halachic grounds to allow you greet and especially enquire if you can be helpful. It is certainly worthwhile, especially since it is easy, to first recite Birchot Hashachar and to avoid using “Shalom (Aleichem).”
This being said, a rabbi should consider carefully not only the positive but also the negative impact of potentially appearing talkative before (and/or during) davening. Others with less noble intentions might follow his lead, and it becomes harder to preach quiet. You are best equipped to make the local determination and find the right balance.
Do the Chatan and Kalla Need to Eat at Sheva Berachot?Must the chatan and kalla eat (bread) at Sheva Berachot (upper case for the week and the meal; lower case for the berachot recited) in order to recite the berachot? (Sometimes one does not feel well and eats little or nothing.)
There are several issues, which we will only be able to touch upon, that lack a consensus among classical poskim.
Two overlapping but distinct halachic elements of the Sheva Berachot period (usually a week) are pertinent to our question. One is an obligation of simcha (a week if it is a first marriage for the kalla, three days if she was previously married), in which the chatan must not work but focus on making the kalla happy. The other is that during these days, sheva berachot are to be recited when applicable.
A minyan is required to recite sheva berachot (Ketubot 8a). It is done specifically following Birkat Hamazon of a meal done in celebration of the marriage (Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 62:4). There are different opinions as to how many of the participants have to have eaten bread, which necessitates the Birkat Hamazon after the meal – the most prevalent opinion is seven (see Yabia Omer III, EH 11; Nitei Gavriel, Nisuin 102:2).
Does the couple have to be among those who had a full halachic meal? Several Acharonim discuss the matter. Rav Shlomo Kluger (Haelef Lecha Shlomo, Orach Chayim 93) posits that even at the wedding, if the chatan does not bentch with the others, sheva berachot cannot be recited. The logic is that the celebration (including the seudat mitzva) must include the chatan for the berachot to be relevant. This is not unanimously held. The Radbaz (Shut IV:249) justifies a minhag that the chatan would not eat during the wedding, but would do so with the waiters after the wedding and that sheva berachot would be recited at both meals. Nevertheless, most Acharonim (see Tzitz Eliezer XIII:99) accept Rav Shlomo Kluger’s ruling.
What is not as clear is whether this applies to the kalla as well. Rav Kluger (and the Tzitz Eliezer ibid. and Hillel Omer, OC 63, who cite him) writes not to make a beracha if the chatan did not eat bread, but does not mention if the kalla’s not eating would cause the same result. If the kalla is equivalent, we can still ask: is one eating enough or are both required? Let us search elsewhere.
The couple’s presence is needed, even if eating is not. The Ritva (Ketubot 8a) says that chatan/kalla must both be present at the celebration to recite sheva berachot. The Ran (Sukka 25b) writes that it suffices for the chatan or the kalla to be present at the place where the sheva berachot are recited. Neither distinguishes between the chatan and kalla. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer ibid.) assumes there is no reason to distinguish and posits that it is critical for both of them to eat bread (Nitei Gavriel ibid. 5; Hanisuin K’hilchatam 14:86 concur). The Maharam Shick (EH 90) does distinguish, saying that the berachot relate to the mitzva of marriage, which is incumbent specifically on the chatan. Note that while the simcha element is for the kalla’s benefit (see Rama, EH 64:2; Chelkat Mechokek 64:1), the sheva berachot relate more to the chatan (ibid.).It is undoubtedly proper policy for the chatan and kalla to eat bread at Sheva Berachot. However, we see that it is not unanimous that this is absolutely required. Considering the possibility that the kalla is not critical in this regard and that her feelings are to be respected (always, but especially this week), if she does not feel up to eating bread, she should not be coerced to do so. (In most cases, refusing to recite sheva berachot would be embarrassing and, effectively, coercion). Even regarding a chatan who did not wash when the kalla did, we would not recommend “protesting” if people are planning to recite the sheva berachot anyway (see Sova Semachot 1:(100)).
Announcements before Shemoneh Esrei of Ma’arivI thought that at Ma’ariv of Rosh Chodesh (or other times there is something new to say), the gabbai calls out “Ya’aleh V’Yavo” (=YVY) before Shemoneh Esrei. But in many shuls, someone just bangs. Which way is correct?
While all agree that semichat geula l’tefilla (connecting the beracha of “Ga’al Yisrael” to Shemoneh Esrei) is important at Shacharit, not all agree regarding Ma’ariv (see Berachot 9b). Since the conclusion is that it does apply at Ma’ariv, one may not talk before Shemoneh Esrei of Ma’ariv (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 236:2).
Nevertheless, the Rashba (Shut I, 293) justified a minhag to call out “Rosh Chodesh” before Shemoneh Esrei at night. He reasons that talking for the needs of tefilla is not considered a hefsek and that the fact that Ma’ariv is an optional prayer reduces the severity of such a break. Indeed we rule that pertinent announcements are permitted at Ma’ariv (Shulchan Aruch ibid.), but not at Shacharit (Taz, OC 114:2).
The Maharashal (see Bach, OC 236) disagrees with the Rashba. He argues that the only speech permitted between geula and tefilla is reciting things instituted by the Rabbis (such as Hashkiveinu and Baruch Hashem L’Olam). He posits that Ma’ariv is no longer optional because Klal Yisrael accepted it as binding, and that in any case, in the midst of tefilla, even if it were optional, one may not make a break. The Mishna Berura is among those who bring no dissenters on the Shulchan Aruch’s permission to announce YVY at Ma’ariv, and this is the standard approach presented by contemporary Ashkenazi tefilla compendiums (see Ishei Yisrael 28:24; Tefilla K’hilchata 19:20).
Some poskim, though, cite minhagim which do not permit calling out “YVY.” The K’tzot Hashulchan (27:5) cites the Ba’al Hatanya’s siddur as forbidding it; the Kaf Hachayim (OC 236:17) says that the minhag in Yerushalayim was against it, and the Yalkut Yosef (OC 422:2) rules this way. One explanation (see Kaf Hachayim ibid.) of these counter minhagim is that they are concerned that the Maharashal, not the Rashba, is right. It is perhaps more likely that it is a shame to allow speaking when there are effective, preferable alternatives.
As you mentioned, many suffice with simple banging, as in many shuls everyone understands what they are hinting at. Producing sounds, like other forms of non-speech hints, is not a hefsek in davening except for in Shemoneh Esrei and the first parasha of Kri’at Shema (Shulchan Aruch, OC 653:6; Mishna Berura 104:1). It is likely that the minhag of banging developed not as a rejection of the possibility of announcing, but out of a realization that, in some shuls, it is unnecessary.
Another alternative (see Magen Avraham 114:2, in a related context; Kaf Hachayim ibid.) is for one who gets up to YVY in Shemoneh Esrei to remind others by saying those words out loud. While one generally should not daven Shemoneh Esrei out loud, it is permitted for one davening at home when there is a reason for it (Shulchan Aruch, OC 101:2). In shul we are concerned that this will disturb others (ibid.). However, it is hard to have such an objection when one person is saying two words to help the tzibbur. An advantage of this system is that the reminder comes closer to the time people recite YVY, and is in that way more effective. Do note that some consider saying words of Shemoneh Esrei out loud to be disrespectful (see opinions in Dirshu 422:2), at least if not done by someone appropriate like a gabbai or the chazan (Halichot Shlomo, Mo’adim p. 1). There is often a technical problem – if the one saying out loud does not start early or daven faster than others, many will get to YVY before him.
In summary, there are three legitimate ways to remind people to recite YVY, each with advantages and disadvantages, some of which depend on the shul (e.g., if people understand the bang). Since people have seen each system, many shuls develop a hodgepodge of practices, which is neither great nor terrible. If the rav has not set a policy, any alternative is fine.
Bar MetzraI want to soon sell my semi-detached house, which, as is common, is officially owned by the Jewish Agency and rented by me. Do the halachot of giving precedence to buy to adjacent property owners (bar metzra) apply in my case? If yes: does the owner of the other half of my building take precedence over the neighbor from an adjacent building? Do I have to allow my neighbors bargain with me? If they decline at my asking price and someone else bargains me down, do I have to return to the neighbors with that price?
The basis of the idea of the rights of a matzran (adjacent neighbor) to acquire real estate before others is a Rabbinic rule that exceeds the letter of the law but is a matter of “hayashar v’hatov” (straight and good) (Bava Metzia 108a). It is based on a general assumption that a neighbor gains more by obtaining the property than someone else, and we therefore expect the other to buy elsewhere (see Rashi ad loc.). It is not surprising that various opinions limit the scope of this novel extra-judicial halacha, especially when the logic in a given case differs from that of the gemara’s classic case.
Rabbeinu Tam (see Tosafot, Bava Metzia 108b) posits that bar metzra applies only to agricultural fields, where the ability to connect and work the fields together is valuable, not to houses. (The Rosh, Bava Metzia 9:34 makes other distinctions.) We do not accept this opinion (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 175:53). However, it is apparently not because we reject the concept that the logic has to apply, but that we reject the premise that an adjacent homeowner does not have significant reasons to benefit more (see Bi’ur Hagra ad loc.).
The Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 59) rules that the laws of bar metzra do not apply when one has rented out his land which his neighbor wants to rent, but only when he sells. Thus, your point that you and your buyer are/will be leasing from the Jewish Agency is cogent. However, a few contemporary piskei din (including one I co-authored) posit that since on practical grounds you bought your home and plan to sell it, the laws of bar metzra apply despite the formality that it is officially a long-term lease.
Regarding who is a bar metzra, poskim are also relatively practical. While bar metzra rules apply to adjacent single-family homes, that is because they can be “attached” for some joint usage (see Taz to CM 175:53; Pitchei Choshen, Matzranut 11:(61)). The Pitchei Choshen (ibid.) raises the importance of people within a building, even if their apartments are not adjacent, sharing stairways. In most cases, an apartment within one building cannot be “attached” to an apartment in another building. It is hard to determine without studying the layout and municipal rules of your situation whether your adjacent neighbor from a different building might have bar metzra rights; we assume that the owner of the other half of your building does.
Your personal responsibility to see to this matter is tricky. A seller does not have a halachic obligation per se to ask permission of neighbors, as the halacha focuses on the neighbor’s ability to claim the right to obtain the real estate from the buyer after his valid sale (see S’ma 175:7). Although the neighbor can protest before or after the sale, it does not seem that the seller must seek anyone out, and this is also common practice when one does not know of such interest.If the bar metzra wants to buy, he must meet the eventual price. If the buyer tells the seller that he will not buy it, this precludes later protest (Shulchan Aruch, CM 175:31), but if he was not given the final price, he can claim (at least, if it holds water) that for the lower price, he would have bought it (see S’ma ad loc. 56). Therefore, if you know of a neighbor’s interest, it is wise to be up front on the matter. In most cases, the neighbor makes a good buyer anyway. (If there is a good, verifiable reason that selling to the neighbor is not advantageous to the seller, the rules of bar metzra do not apply (Shulchan Aruch and Rama ibid. 23).)
Top of page
Send to friend