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How to Tell When Your Tefillin Need AdjustmentHow can one tell when his tefillin shel rosh needs adjustment?
Firstly, an adult who has not adjusted his tefillin shel rosh’s knot in several years almost certainly needs an adjustment. Tefillin straps stretch slowly as we apply pressure to them (some more than others) when fastening the tefillin on our head. If one’s hairline has not receded, he can easily check (see above).
Now, a little review of the anatomy of a normal human head. The skull is highest towards the back of the head; it then gradually slopes down. Near the front of the head, the slope increases, and then turns into a “cliff” (i.e., the forehead). The hairline ends at the end of the gradual or the midst of the increased slope. No hair (except eyebrows) is rooted in the forehead.
Based on the above, the following are signs of misplaced tefillin. If the end of the tefillin looks like it is “hanging off a cliff,” it is certainly much too far forward, as a line drawn down from the end of the tefillin would hit the forehead or even the nose. Because of the increased slope, there may be a little space between the bottom of the tefillin and the head. However, if there is too much room (i.e., a finger fits in comfortably), it is very likely not in the right place.
Another sign is the tefillin’s angle. The angle is determined primarily by where the tefillin are fastened to the head by the straps – at the back of the tefillin. Generally, tefillin in the right place will be upright with a slight downward slant. If the tefillin has a serious downward-facing angle, it is generally (unless one has a rounder head than most) too far forward, so that its rear is where its forward part should be (on the steeper slope). Thus the tefillin’s front will be too far forward, unless the tefillin are very small.
A final sign is the kippa. With average size kippot and tefillin, there should be little or no room between the two. One with a particularly large kippa or who wears it on the top of the head (as opposed to part top/part back) will have to move the kippa back.
When I look around many of the shuls I regularly daven in or visit, I see many too many people with apparent (or definite) problems in this regard. Among the older generation, I would estimate that the problems are in well above 50% of the people. As I HATE correcting people (and most hate being corrected), I am torn as to when the rectifiable problem is clear enough to halachically/morally require me to do the uncomfortable. The following limud zechut decreases the problem. Most people put the tefillin at a certain position and push it forward in the process of fastening. Thus, some of those who keep the tefillin too far forward had it in the right place for a few moments after the beracha (so that it is not l’vatala) before the fastening was complete, and thereby may have fulfilled the mitzva for that short time.
More people should learn how to shorten the circumference of the head strap, which is necessary for the tefillin to stay in the right place. You are invited to visit me or ask a sofer. It may be easier to Google search: “youtube tefillin head adjust.” Then, you can help yourself and your friends.
Taking Off Challa on ShabbatMy sons were guests in Bnei Brak. The hosts forgot to do hafrashat challa before Shabbat. On Shabbat, the ba’al habayit separated some challa to be burnt after Shabbat. Was it okay for my sons to have eaten?
It is not clear what you mean by “separated some challa,” and the situation for your sons depends on that.
Among the mishna’s (Beitza 36b) long list of Rabbinic prohibitions of Shabbat and Yom Tov is taking terumot and ma’asrot, which includes the taking of challa (which is likewise theoretically slated to go to a kohen). Therefore, if your sons’ hosts did hafrashat challa on Shabbat, they apparently acted improperly. We do find leniency for taking ma’asrot in a case where one does not have alternative food to eat for Shabbat, due to the mitzva of eating on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 261:1; see Mishna Berura ad loc. 4). However, that is only to do so during bein hashemashot (twilight, at the time when it is a doubt whether it is day or night). (One can contemplate some leniency as to when bein hashemashot ends in regards to this question, considering the issue is a Rabbinic prohibition, but we will not analyze all the opinions as to specifics.) On Yom Tov, it is permitted to take challa if the obligation began (with kneading) on Yom Tov (which is prohibited on Shabbat) or by making more dough and taking off from it on the existing dough/challa (Shulchan Aruch, OC 496:3).
However, regarding your sons, even if their host did hafrasha improperly, they were still allowed to eat the challot. This is because if one took ma’asrot improperly on Shabbat unintentionally (including out of ignorance of the halacha), the food may be eaten (Gittin 54a). (It is a fascinating question why we do not say that since when Shabbat started the food was not fit to be eaten, it should be muktzeh. However, it apparently is not muktzeh – see Tosafot, Shabbat 43a, Shut R. Akiva Eiger II:103; Minchat Shlomo 62.11).
Perhaps the hosts did not actually take challa but left enough of the challa (loaf) over to take challa from it after Shabbat. (There is a discussion among the Rishonim whether one may eat everything except the part that will become challa or whether he must leave over enough to take challa off and still have some bread that is permitted to eat – see Tosafot, Beitza 9a.) This practice has a strong basis, but if this is what they did, they misapplied it. Shmuel says (Beitza 9a): “Regarding the taking of challa of chutz la’aretz, one may eat now and take off the challa later.” This is different from the situation regarding ma’asrot, where until the ma’aser has been taken, the produce is forbidden as tevel.
Shmuel clearly states that this halacha is true specifically regarding chutz la’aretz, not Bnei Brak. However, one might want to suggest that it might apply even in
Lighting Chanuka Lights at a Chanuka PartyIt is popular to light Chanuka candles in public gatherings. My extended family (about 40 people) will being getting together on a night of Chanuka in a small hall. Should/can we light with a beracha? (We expect all to have already lit at home.)
Chanuka candle lighting is tied to specific places to light, primarily a house that relates to the person (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 671:5-8). There is a precedent for public fulfillment of the mitzva, with a beracha – in a beit knesset (ibid. 7). We can gain insight from the discussion of this post-Talmudic practice, which has two parts: Why was it started? What is the justification for making a beracha?
The Beit Yosef (OC 671) cites a few reasons for the minhag. 1) The lighting is due to guests who lack a home to light in, similar to Kiddush in shul. 2) That public setting is appropriate for pirsumei nisa (publicizing the miracle). 3) It compensates for the fact that we no longer light outside (i.e., publicly) as was originally instituted (see Rivash 111). In the Shulchan Aruch, he cites pirsumei nisa without further explanation. 4) Some explain that a beit knesset , as a “mini-mikdash,” has special significance for commemorating a Beit Hamikdash miracle (see Kolbo 44).
Reasons #1 and #4 are linked to a beit knesset, whereas #2 and #3, which the Shulchan Aruch seems to accept, could arguably be applied to any large gathering (a minyan being a likely minimum - see Bemareh Habazak IV:64, regarding lighting in a shul without a minyan). We have never heard talk of a requirement to light out of the house, nor of real objections to lighting without a beracha. Therefore, the question boils down to whether the case for lighting in a public place is strong enough and/or similar enough to the minhag in a shul to justify a beracha.
The question of how one can make a beracha in shul without a Talmudic source is acute for the Shulchan Aruch who does not allow berachot for post-Talmudic minhagim, e.g., Hallel on Rosh Chodesh (OC 422:2). Rav O. Yosef (Yabia Omer VII, OC 57) presents several ideas. 1) A minhag that extends an existing mitzva receives a beracha (i.e., Hallel on seder night). 2) An important minhag justifies a beracha. 3) A minhag that was instituted by rabbis to strengthen observance has a beracha, whereas a grass-roots minhag does not.
Most contemporary poskim oppose making a beracha on Chanuka lighting in public places that are not shuls (see several quoted in Yabia Omer ibid.). Yet, some important poskim either encourage it or at least support the growing practice’s validity post facto. Rav Ovadia says that those who do it have what to rely upon, basing himself on the enthusiasm of Rav Rozental (Mishnat Yaakov, Zemanim p. 260 about settings in which there is better pirsumei nisa than in shuls). Az Nidberu (V:37) also feels it is the right thing, at least when it is in an outdoor, very public location. Davening Mincha/Maa’riv there strengthens the case (see Yalkut Yosef, Moadim p. 204).
Our analysis leads to the following compromise. One of the Kolbo’s (ibid.) reasons for the practice in shul is that it helps those who do not know or do not care enough about the mitzva to do it properly. This is very relevant for a large part of the Jewish community, in
How Fast Does a Guarantor Have to Pay?Does an arev kablan (strong form of loan guarantor) have to pay immediately upon being asked to? If not, how much time does he have?
Let us first make sure we understand each other’s terminology. There are different forms of arevim, with the two main ones being: a regular arev and an arev kablan, literally, a receiving arev. An arev kablan, either by explicit agreement, language and/or circumstances, is treated like a direct recipient of the loan, even though the ultimate beneficiary is someone else. As a result, while usually a lender can approach the arev only after it is apparent that the borrower will not pay (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 129:8), he can approach an arev kablan before trying the borrower (ibid. 15).
Now to your question. The Rambam (Malveh 26:2) says that an arev does not have to pay until 30 days have passed from the time he became obligated, just as a borrower gets 30 days. The Bach (CM 129) understands that the arev is exactly like the borrower for whom he is covering. Therefore, just as the 30-day grace period is only if the borrower does not have money to pay immediately (Shulchan Aruch, CM 100:1), so too the arev’s 30 days is only under those circumstances. The Shach (CM 129:23) argues cogently that it is evident from the Rambam, that the arev has the following advantage. Even if the borrower’s time to pay has already passed, the arev’s 30-day clock starts ticking only at the point the payment of the debt becomes his responsibility. Even if he has money, he has time to figure out how to best handle the payment. The 30 days is based on the concept that when one takes a loan for an unspecified length of time, its duration is normally assumed to be 30 days (see Shulchan Aruch, CM 73:1).
However, the Shach’s ruling is not so relevant to an arev kablan. Since the arev kablan accepts the responsibilities of a borrower, he does not deserve extra time beyond the borrower’s. On the practical realm, since the borrower can extract payment without first trying the lender, he should not be surprised if the payment falls on him and should have his payment plan worked out.
However, the question is: even if an arev kablan is like the borrower, does the borrower have to pay immediately? The gemara (Bava Metzia 118a) says that “the time of beit din is 30 days.” This means that from the time that beit din makes an award or gives instructions, the standard time for carrying it out is 30 days. Thus, if one admits to beit din that he owes money but requests time to raise it, beit din gives him 30 days (Shulchan Aruch, CM 100:1). The Rama (ad loc.) says that this is only an average of time. If they understand he needs either more or less time, they should adjust it accordingly, including immediate payment for those with the wherewithal (ibid.).
The same is true of your arev kablan. While in theory he should pay right away, in practice, his request to push it off for around 30 days will be accepted when based on legitimate need. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 2) cites two opinions on whether a borrower can request a 30-day grace period for payment when the target date of payment was set in advance. The rationale of the stricter opinion is that he had the time to prepare the payment, which should have been complete by the stated time. There is strong logic to argue that in the case of an arev kablan, all might agree to give him the 30 days upon a reasonable request. This is because even though the lender can come to the arev before the borrower, it is not usually clear that he will do so. Thus, the arev kablan can legitimately say that he needs the normal amount of time to prepare.
In summary, an arev kablan should pay the debt as soon as he reasonably can after the lender’s request, which may often be immediate. If there are difficulties, the average grace-period is 30 days from the time he is told to pay, just as it is for the borrower. It is possible that our assumption about the speed of the payment may be slightly different for an arev kablan than for a borrower.
Beracha Acharona on Fruit of Non-Jews in IsraelIf I eat nochri (field in Israel owned by a non-Jew) fruit that gets an “Al Haetz”, do I end the beracha with “… al hapeirot” or “…al peiroteha”?
While this sounds like a Shemitta (whose halachot continue regarding fruit) question, it applies every year. It also applies to orchards sold through heter mechira.
We start with the main sources on the change of wording of the beracha. The gemara (Berachot 44a) cites both versions of the beracha and first says that in chutz la’aretz one says “peiroteha” (on its [the Land’s] fruit) and in
The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 208) cites a machloket between Rabbeinu Yona and the Rashba whether one says hapeirot or peiroteha on fruit grown in
There is a major machloket, raised most prominently in Gittin (47a), whether a non-Jew’s acquisition of land in Eretz Yisrael uproots the laws that apply to Eretz Yisrael. The halachic conclusion is not fully clear (see Rambam, Terumot 1:10). There are macholokot in different applications, including the one between Rav Yosef Karo (Avkat Rochel 24) and the Mabit (I:11) whether the fruit that grows under a non-Jew’s ownership has Shemitta status. The former’s opinion, that Shemitta status is removed, is the more accepted one (see Shabbat Ha’aretz (R. Kook), Mavo 15). One could then claim that such fruit is uprooted from Eretz Yisrael status regarding our question as well.
However, I have been unable to find a hint in classical texts or rulings in more recent sources that indicate a distinction within Eretz Yisrael between the fruit of Jewish-owned fields and non-Jewish fields. There are some opinions (see discussions in Birkei Yosef, OC 208:11 and Kaf Hachayim, OC 208:59) that on fruit from sections of Eretz Yisrael that lost kedushat ha’aretz with the Babylonian exile and were not restored to kedushat ha’aretz in the Second Temple, we do not say peiroteha. Not all agree. After all, these areas are still Eretz Yisrael regarding many spiritual matters (see Shabbat Haaretz ibid.). Hashem gave them to us, we will return, and, according to most, we still presently have a mitzva to live there (see Encyclopedia Talmudit, Yeshivat Eretz Yisrael, ftnt. 28-29). Our question is about areas with the kedusha from the time of the
Saying Shemoneh Esrei AudiblyI daven with someone who davens Shemoneh Esrei loudly enough to disturb my davening significantly. Can/should I say anything?
There are two matters to discuss: whether the davener may do what he is doing; what you should do about it. The former is straightforward; the latter is difficult.
The gemara (Berachot 31a) learns from Chana (Shmuel I:1:13) that tefilla (referring at least mainly to Shemoneh Esrei) should not just be contemplated but that words should be formed by the movement of the lips, but in a manner that is not audible. The gemara (Berachot 24b) even refers to one who recites tefilla aloud as one who does not believe Hashem will hear him otherwise and to one who raises his voice as an idol worshipper. There is a machloket, from Talmudic times and on, whether it is proper to pronounce the words loudly enough to hear them himself (see Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 101). While Kabbalistic sources oppose being able to hear, standard halachic ones recommend being able to hear (Shulchan Aruch, OC 101:2, but see Be’ur Halacha ad loc.).
The gemara (ibid.) assumes that the main problem of saying tefilla audibly is contextual and that he may do so if he needs to for his kavana (concentration). The Taz (OC 101:1) posits that it is justified even to improve his otherwise reasonable kavana (the Be’ur Halacha, concerned for the Kabbalistic opinions that audibility disqualifies tefilla, objects). However, the gemara says that even one who needs to recite aloud for his kavana may not do so in a communal setting because it disturbs others. The Mishna Berura (101:6) posits that this problem exists even if he disturbs only his closest neighbor(s) in shul. This indeed seems obvious. If the proper thing is to be quiet and this is waived to help kavana, why would we bend the rule if it hurts another while helping him?
It is difficult to apply these rules like an exact science. Most people cannot make themselves hear and still be certain that those next to them do not hear at all. It is also difficult to know when a quiet undertone will disturb others. And what if the words are not audible, but a low hum still disturbs someone? If it is his neighbor’s over-sensitivity, then it is arguably his problem, and the neighbor should deal with it or find a different place to sit.
These are issues that are hard to quantify and their practical application are often the type of things that separate average people from those with sterling middot. One optimally should make sure that he is not disturbing others. On the other hand, the person being disturbed should try to be understanding and give the davener leeway in borderline cases.
I often recall the general concept that I heard from my Rosh Yeshiva decades ago. There is, for example, a pasuk (Shemot 22:24) that it is forbidden to harass a borrower who is having difficulty paying back. There are also severe words for a borrower who does not pay back (Tehillim 37:21). The problem is when the borrower is all too familiar with the pasuk for the lender to know, and the lender is all too familiar with the borrower’s pasuk.
Even if one may ask the audible davener to conform to the halacha, it is not always clear if and how he should do this practically. The Chazon Ish (YD 2:21) made famous the opinion that in our days we do not know how to give rebuke. I would add that our generation is particularly unsuccessful (not that it was ever easy) in accepting not only rebuke but corrections. So you must think (and/or discuss with someone who knows him better than you) how your co-worshipper will react. This may depend on how he is told – directly, with a carefully worded (anonymous?) letter, having the rabbi speak to him directly or perhaps discuss the halachot with the community. Depending on the prospects, it might be better to put up with the situation or move your seat discreetly. [For readers who practice (possibly) audible davening, please discuss the matter with someone whom you respect and avoid disturbing others and having someone approach you.]
Taking Ribbit from a Non-Jew in IsraelI understand that the reason it is permitted to take ribbit (usury) from a non-Jew is that we live among them and cannot avoid business with them. Can one who lives in Israel rely on logic that does not apply here?
The mishna (Bava Metzia 70b) says it is permitted to lend money to a non-Jew with interest, yet the gemara indicates that it is Rabbinically forbidden. The gemara suggests two distinctions: 1) It is permitted to lend only to ensure a basic livelihood (k’dei chayav); 2) The prohibition is to discourage business relationships that could cause a Jew to learn his counterpart’s ways, and it is therefore permitted for a talmid chacham, who is not susceptible to such relationships. According to a second version in the gemara, there is no prohibition to lend to a non-Jew.
Tosafot (ad loc.) is troubled by the fact that usury taken by Jews from non-Jews was common in their times, and presented three possible answers: 1) On this matter, which is no more than Rabbinic, we accept the gemara’s lenient version that there is no prohibition. 2) Due to great difficulty in making a living, we generally consider usury as k’dei chayav. 3) Since we anyway have to do business with non-Jews, permissibility to take interest does not change the equation on interactions. You based your question, that it should be forbidden to lend with interest in Israel, on the assumption that the third explanation is correct, which is reasonable, considering that the Rambam (Malveh 5:2) and the Tur (Yoreh Deah 159) use it. Indeed, Netivot Shalom (159:16) cites Klala D’ribbita, who suggests that it could be forbidden to lend under such circumstances. Standard practice is certainly not that way (see also Torat Ribbit 1:35), and we do feel it is important to justify it. (On an individual basis, we have no problem with the Chochmat Adam’s (130:6) praise of those who are stringent. However, making such a ruling for others is very different.)
First, we must note that this prohibition is highly unusual in that the gemara says that it does not apply to all people (i.e., talmid chacham) and that it is waived in the face of financial need. This could be a sign of focus on practical considerations, which would strengthen your question. But it is more likely a sign of great leniency and perhaps that it is not a full-fledged prohibition. It is then not difficult to rely on the opinions that there is no prohibition or that it is still considered k’dei chayav.
It is probably more correct to put this in the context of how practical halacha works. We are familiar with the concept that once Chazal, or often even post-Talmudic minhag, have forbidden something, we rarely say that things have changed and the prohibition no longer applies. A less common but still important phenomenon is that when the rabbis of a period decide, for certain reasons, to be lenient regarding a certain (usually, Rabbinic) prohibition, we do not easily reinstate the prohibition even when the leniency’s reasons have diminished. It seems that “halachic inertia” requires clear indication of strong reason to change back to old practice, even from leniency to stringency. Even in the times of the Rishonim, it seems that this prohibition was broadly ignored, even in cases where the reasons for leniency were not so strong.
In our times, there are still practical reasons to apply the leniency in
Thus, it is justified to assume that the broad permission that developed to lend with interest to non-Jews remains intact even in
Inheritance Without Ma’aser KesafimMy parents are planning their will and want to divide the estate evenly between my brother and me. They are bothered by my practice of giving ma’aser kesafim, as they want their children, not charity (to whom they will also leave money), to receive their inheritance. If I cannot figure out a way to avoid ma’aser, they will give the entire estate to my brother. Is it there a permitted way for me to obviate the obligation of ma’aser, or should I stand on principle even in the face of losing a lot of money?
We praise not only your willingness to forgo inheritance if halachically required but also for not trying to trick your parents in this regard.
There are times when parents’ gifts are ma’aser exempt. Rav M. Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 112) says that when parents promise money to a child for his basic needs, the parents have the right to have the son not give ma’aser on it, as it, in effect, forces the parents to give more to cover those needs. Teshuvot V’hanhagot (III:282) says that if that son gives ma’aser against his parents’ conditions, it is considered stealing.
However, this logic does not apply in your case. Your parents are not giving you money for a specific purpose that will not be met if you give ma’aser but object to your use of what will be your money after their death (not before 120 years). This is like a parent who commands his child to not fulfill a mitzva, which is an illegitimate request (Bava Metzia 32a).
If your parents are serious about withholding all your inheritance over this matter and it is a large amount of money, then you can be exempted from ma’aser, as the Rama (Orach Chayim 656:1) rules that one does not have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a mitzva. Of course, tzedaka (ma’aser falls under its rubric – see Rambam, Matanot Aniyim 7:5) is expensive by its nature, but here we are talking about a large loss beyond natural tzedaka costs.
In general, there are three opinions as to whether the practice of ma’aser kesafim is a mitzva from the Torah (Tosafot, Taanit 9a), a Rabbinic obligation (Maharil 54), or a proper practice to accept upon oneself (Shut Chatam Sofer, YD 231). We believe that the third opinion is the strongest and thus if you use the above exemption, it is good to do hatarat nedarim on the practice of ma’aser kesafim in regard to this inheritance.
However, it is better (for your sake and probably for your parents’) to obviate the mitzva rather than refrain due to loss from a mitzva in which you are fundamentally obligated. Therefore, try to take your parents up on their offer to leave you an inheritance in a way that you are exempt from ma’aser. According to most opinions, one who receives objects or property is not required to give ma’aser based on its value unless and until he sells them (see Tzedaka U’mishpat 5:(25); Hilchot Ma’aser Kesafim (Bronstein) 3:6). According to many opinions, money received that is bindingly earmarked for a certain expense is exempt (ibid. 11). Thus, their will can create a trust fund for certain purposes (e.g., children’s weddings, education) or you can receive real estate, as opposed to cash.
There are strong indications that ma’aser kesafim is not a separate mitzva but a set of rules within tzedaka. Your parents are presumably not against your giving tzedaka but annoyed by the level and the automatic nature of giving ma’aser. However you solve the issue with your parents, it does not mean that in the long term, you will not be a less generous person. If inheritance and hopefully other sources and merits enhance your ability to give, you at some point might end up giving a similar amount of tzedaka as if you followed you the rules of ma’aser kesafim formalistically on the inheritance. (One may give more than 10% when he wants or not rely on leniencies that he used to.) We do not condone calculating the amount to add to make up for following your parents’ conditions, as this would be dishonest to them. But if it happens through natural dynamics over time, this is fine.
Delayed Chanukat HabayitWe moved into a new house four months ago. Are we still obligated to make a chanukat habayit, or have we missed the opportunity? What does the obligation entail?
Besides house-related mitzvot like mezuza and ma’akeh (fence for roof), there are two practices regarding a new house.
The mishna (Berachot 54a) says that one who builds a new house or buys new clothes should recite Shehecheyanu (see also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 223:3). The same is true for purchasing an existing house (Mishna Berura 223:11). Yet, as we know and as has been reported for centuries, many people do not recite Shehecheyanu on a new house. It is hard to know to which halachic factor(s) to attribute this phenomenon (assuming it is not just lack of awareness), but we will mention a few.
Tosafot (Sukka 46a) cites (and is among many who argue on) Rav Shrira Gaon, who says we do not follow the mishna due to the rule that Shehecheyanu is only for cyclical events. Some suggest that worries about financing take away from the necessary simcha (see opinions in Yalkut Yosef, Sova Semachot I, p. 487). Timing may be an issue, as the mishna talks about reciting at the time of buying, but the house may then be unfit for inhabitance, either for pragmatic reasons or possibly if it is missing mezuzot (see R. Akiva Eiger, on Shulchan Aruch, ibid.). However, one should still be able to recite Shehecheyanu at the time he enters the house. The proper beracha is not clear, as there is a machloket whether Shehecheyanu or Hatov V’hameitiv (a variation, when there are multiple beneficiaries) is appropriate when a family unit acquires the house (see Be’ur Halacha ad loc.). However, when in doubt between the two, Shehecheyanu works (ibid. 4).
There are also significant opinions that Shehecheyanu is a mitzva but not an obligatory beracha (see Magen Avraham 225:6). Therefore, one should not feel he is sinning if he follows the many who do not recite Shehecheyanu over their new home. Certainly, when several months have passed since moving in, it might even be too late for Shehecheyanu (although this is not certain – see Halichot Shlomo I:23:13). However, you can “cover your bases” by using the idea of making Shehecheyanu on a new garment with intention for the house as well (see Be’ur Halacha to OC 22:1).
You are apparently asking about the seudat hodaya (thanksgiving meal) in honor of the occasion, which we call a “chanukat habayit.” This is clearly a minhag rather than a halachic obligation, and it does not have explicit classical halachic sources. Yet, many sources give it basis and significance, including the following. The Torah (Devarim 20:5) instructs to send home from battle one who built a house and did not “inaugurate it.” We see that beginning to live in the house is a very significant event, and therefore many poskim consider it fitting enough for celebration for it to be a seudat mitzva. There are strong sources that both the war-time halacha (see Yerushalmi, Sota 8:4) and the importance of the seuda (see Magen Avraham 568:5) are only on houses in
There is a more Kabbalisitically-oriented approach, which is more prevalent for Sephardim. One makes the seuda on the day he moves into the house. While also having an element of thanksgiving, this is more focused on the right spiritual start to enhance the family’s success in the house. Some great rabbis, such as the Chida, composed set orders of things to do, learn, recite (see Chanukat Habayit (Mark)).
Practicing Saying “V’ten Tal U’Matar"How many times is it required to recite repeatedly “V’ten tal u’matar” (=Vten) until we can assume, when in doubt, that I said the recitation correctly?
If one is unsure if he remembered to cease saying Mashiv haruach …(=Mashiv), we assume for the first 30 days that he continued the now incorrect recitation (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 114:8, based on Yerushalmi). However, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 9) accepts the Maharam M’Rotenberg’s (see Tur, OC 114) remedy of reciting the correct version 90 times, after which we assume he got it right. The source that concentrated change is effective like a change over time is the opinion that an ox which gores three times on one day changes its status like one who gored three days (Bava Kama 24a). While many question the comparison’s aptness (see Taz 114:13), this is the accepted practice (see Biur Halacha ad loc.). The Mishna Berura (114:40) says that reciting the new version 90 times is applicable for Vten as well
There are also technical questions about this system. The Rama (Darchei Moshe, OC 114:2) points that 90 times seems an inexact substitute for 30 days, as Mashiv is said more than 90 times (due to Mussaf) in 30 days and Vten (absent on Shabbatot) is said fewer. He says that 30 days is just the average time, but the important thing is the 90 recitations, however long each one takes. (The Rama’s opinion in the Shulchan Aruch is unclear (see OC 114:8 and Mishna Berura 114:37)). The Chatam Sofer (OC 20) posits that often 30 days has 101 sayings of Mashiv, and 101 is known to be a number of repetitions which makes a text absorbed (see Chagiga 9b). The Gra (ad loc.) is among those who say that it is the passage of 30 days that creates the change, even though there are more than 90 Mashivs and fewer Vtens during this time.
The accepted opinion is that one who does not do extra repetitions determines whether to assume that he said the correct text based on a cut-off of 30 days. Yet, the practice of those who do “artificial repetitions” is to do the ostensibly contradictory 90 recitations. The Mishna Berura (114:37) says we accept the lenient opinion in both major questions because of the concept of safek berachot l’hakel. In other words, if we are not sure whether there is a need to make additional berachot, in this case by repeating Shemoneh Esrei or parts of it, we refrain from doing so. (Admittedly, there are cases (e.g., Mashiv slightly before 30 days) when we could have been more lenient than the standard practice.) Most (see Mishna Berura 114:42; Ishei Yisrael 23:(137)) assume that one can mix and match, achieving confidence about the transition by an appropriate mixture of days and repetitions (e.g., 10 days and 60 repetitions).
Some suggest that it is preferable to avoid the artificial 90 repetition system (see Shulchan Aruch Harav OC 114:11; Halichot Shlomo, Tefilla 8:26). The logic is that since it is unclear whether it sufficiently removes doubt that one said the wrong thing, (i.e., it might still be correct to repeat), it is better to leave things with the accepted 30-day guideline. (Rav Yaakov Emdin has a technical issue with the repetitions, as he assumed it required saying Hashem’s Name in vain. However, our practice has us start the recitation after the Name). However, this claim is very surprising. First of all, when not using this system, there are also plenty of doubts (e.g., after 30 days of Vten, which do not include 90 recitations; if one missed some tefillot or made mistakes in some). More significantly, since the repetition, if done with moderate concentration, certainly helps significantly to get things right faster, we are saving a lot of unnecessary berachot by getting ourselves accustomed. It would seem that the approach that one should avoid the repetitions makes sense only for those who rarely make these mistakes anyway.
In summary, doing 90 “artificial repetitions” for Vten and Mashiv, which the Shulchan Aruch/Mishna Berura and minhag ha’olam endorse, is valid and worthwhile (but not obligatory).
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