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Alternative AfikomanIn some years, my kids have been aggressive about hiding the afikoman. They have hid it in places where it broke into several pieces. When I have not found it, they have “negotiated” its return for more than I think is proper. In such a case, can I just use a different piece of matza? And when it has been broken into pieces, is it better to use a new piece or to use the original?
The minhag of the afikoman being taken (some oppose the word “stolen”) is at least several hundreds of years old and might even be referred to by the Rambam (Chametz U’matza 7:3) or even the gemara (Pesachim 109a) (Chok Yaakov 472:2). It is meant to keep the children’s interest and usually does its job. Therefore, most of us put up with the little problems (some great rabbis did not allow the practice in their homes – see Dirshu 473:70).
It is certainly possible to fulfill the mitzva/minhag of afikoman with a matza other than the one broken during yachatz (Rama, Orach Chayim 477:2). Even the ostensibly arguing opinions (see Beit Yosef (OC 477)) seem to be talking about cases where only three matzot were baked with intent to be used for the mitzva of matza, whereas all of our shemura matza has been.
The question is when the afikoman is not lost but one has an interest in replacing it. The gemara (Shabbat 22a) says that one may remove tzitzit from one garment and place them on another obligated garment. However, we pasken (Shulchan Aruch, OC 15:1) that it is forbidden to remove them and not use them for another garment. The Taz (ad loc. 2) says this is bizuy (a disgrace) for the tallit and/or the tzitzit (depending on the case – see Pri Megadim ad loc.), which one is removing from their involvement in a mitzva. Likewise, if you take the matza that is the afikoman and replace it, this is ostensibly a problem.
However, this does not apply to our case because the afikoman has never been used for the mitzva. We hold that hazmana lav milta – the preparations one makes to use something as a mitzva do not give it the level of an object that was already used for the mitzva. The Beit Yosef (Yoreh Deah 259) cites the Mordechai that the concept that a shul’s candelabrum should not be switched to another purpose is so only if it has already been used. Has our afikoman already been used? It has been part of the act of yachatz and some even have, by the time the kids grab it, carried out the old minhag to carry it over their shoulder in remembering the matza taken out of Egypt (see Kolbo 50). However, the halachic part of the afikoman is to eat it, and for that, the matza has had merely been put aside. Therefore, bizuy mitzva does not apply.
One might also distinguish and say that here we are not actively replacing anything, just that we are taking out another matza to use. However, passing over (even without removing) one object to be used as a mitzva instead of another can also be a problem, which we call: ein ma’avirin al hamitzvot. While much of the discussion is about doing one mitzva before a different mitzva, it also applies to not passing over one place or object that is slated to be used for a given mitzva in place of another (Tosafot, Megilla 6b). However, that should only apply if the object is before us and we skip over it. In this case, the matza in question is in an unknown hiding place and, from your perspective, is not being passed over at all, but rather replaced in abstentia. (Note also that at most sedarim, the matza set aside for afikoman is only part of what will be eaten as afikoman).
Regarding the case where the matza gets broken into several pieces, this is not a halachic problem. When challa or matza needs to be whole at the time of a beracha, its being broken is a problem. However, since the afikoman is supposed to be a broken piece, it is not a problem that it is broken up further earlier than expected. While it is not clear it is forbidden (see discussion above) to remove it after opening it and seeing its state, it would seem preferable to keep the multi-piece matza than to replace it.
Keeping Foods Cooked in Chametzdik PotsSometimes I have foods that I cooked in chametzdik pots without any chametz ingredients that I fail to finish before Pesach. May I keep them in the corner of the freezer and mark them as chametzdik? (I try to not sell chametz, especially if it was already cooked.)
First we will deal with the question of whether it is really forbidden to eat such food on Pesach. Let us assume (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 122:7) that the pot was eino ben yomo (had not been used for 24 hours) from chametz use. For forbidden food, what comes out of such a pot gives off a negative taste (noten ta’am lifgam), and the food is permitted if done accidentally (ibid. 103:5). If one made pareve food in an eino ben yomo fleishig pot without an intention to eat with milchig food, he may eat leftovers with it (ibid. 95:2). There is a machloket whether noten ta’am lifgam of chametz is permitted on Pesach (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 447:10), or not (Rama ad loc.). The Rama is machmir only on Pesach. On Erev Pesach, despite the Torah-level prohibition to eat chametz, the regular rules of kashrut apply, and it is permitted.
Do the laws of kashrut change when Pesach starts and turn what was not considered chametz due to bitul (nullification) pre-Pesach into chametz based on Pesach standards (chozer v’neior)? This too is a machloket. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 4) prefers the lenient opinion, that those things that were batel remain batel. The Rama says that it depends on the type of bitul. If it is only in regard to knowledge (i.e., we do not know where the chametzdik food is), the food becomes forbidden when Pesach starts. If there is a physical mixture (i.e., it is mixed in in a way that the chametz does not give taste to the mixture), it remains permitted. The classic case of the latter is when there was 60 times more kosher vs. chametz that is mixed in. However, we cannot assume there is 60 times more non-chametz because the food in a pot will not be 60 times the volume of the pot. However, since noten ta’am lifgam allows for bitul with less than 60, the food cooked in an eino ben yomo chametzdik pot was batel before Pesach (Mishna Berura 247:21). Thus, such a pot would not make the food forbidden even to eat on Pesach.
We must, though, consider the high possibility that small amounts of chametz got into the food, whether in the ingredients, the pot’s surface, the work area, or storage containers. Assuming, as is also highly likely, we are discussing trace quantities of chametz, it was batel by 60 times. We then return to the above question of chozer v’neior, which is permitted, according to the main opinions, in such a mixture. (For this reason, many purchase (e.g., milk) and cook as much as possible before Pesach, so that trace quantities of chametz would be batel before Pesach and remain such.) Thus, on this point as well, it is probably permitted to eat the food (although our minhag is not to do things like that).
If one is not in the practice of eating such food, may he at least keep it around? There is no violation of bal yeiraeh (possession of chametz) when there is only taste of chametz or there are trace quantities that are batel by 60 (Mishna Berura 452:1). While according to some (including Tur, OC 442) it is permitted to leave in one’s possession any food that is permitted to eat on the level of Torah law, the more accepted approach is to not leave most (exceptions beyond our present scope) foods that are forbidden to be eaten even Rabbinically (ibid.). This, though, would not apply to foods that it is only a chumra not to eat. Even so, it is proper to remove them from the places (like the same freezer) where kosher-for-Pesach foods are being kept, lest one mistakenly eat them (ibid.).
If you put such food in a different place (e.g., a different freezer or a section of the freezer that is taped off), you are not required to sell it, but you do not lose anything by including it in your sale. Stringencies regarding sale of chametz apply to cases where you need to rely on the sale, not when it is extra.
Use of a Heter Iska when Lending Money to One’s CompanyI am a general partner (having special authority and responsibility) in an LLC (Limited Liability Company) with only Jewish partners. In order to facilitate a real estate purchase, some of us lent money to the company (we have the authority to do so at market rate interest or invest for equity) without a heter iska. Does one need a heter iska to lend money to an LLC, and if yes, can we do one now?
Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah II, 63) posits that the prohibition on ribbit applies only when there is a full-fledged borrower, one who has a personal obligation to pay, beyond having a lien on his assets. In an LLC (as well as a corporation), no individual has a personal obligation to pay; only an amorphous financial entity has to pay, with its assets seized if necessary. While a Jewish-owned LLC may not take interest from Jews, he rules that Jews can take interest from the company.
Not all poskim accept Rav Moshe’s logical but novel leniency, but many agree on the level of Torah law, and it is seen as a legitimate opinion one can choose to rely upon it (see Torat Ribbit 17:52-54; Laws of Ribbis, p. 105). It is generally recommended (see ibid.) to use a heter iska when lending money to a Jewish-owned corporation (Israeli banks have heter iskas). This makes the return on the money given linked to an investment (in which the money is not guaranteed but, fundamentally, based on the recipient’s success).
Yet, you face challenges in implementing a heter iska. First, the fact that you did not have one at the time of the loan was a problem; your money is now a loan, not an investment, so the return you seek is ribbit. You can redo the process and turn the money into an iska investment. The best thing is for the money to be returned and then given again with a heter iska (Laws of Ribbis, p. 404). The partner-lenders and the company can also do a kinyan sudar to transfer assets to the lenders in lieu of payment and then give them back to the company as an iska (ibid.; Torat Ribbit 16:28-29; Brit Yehuda 40:23).
The second problem is that it does not fix things retroactively. Therefore, you cannot take interest due before this process, which might be a lot of money. Some poskim allow raising the rate of return in the heter iska, which is somewhat flexible (Netivot Shalom, Kuntrus Heter Iska 25), but only when it is not clear that it is to make up for relinquishing past ribbit. In your case, you are supposed to receive only an accepted interest rate, so it does not seem feasible, on practical and halachic grounds, to raise the rate.
Finally, the full provisions of the heter iska likely do not work for you. In an iska, one cannot promise the investor a given return, which must be a product of profits. The reason the projected return is usually given is that to pay less, the iska recipient must corroborate lack of gains by oath and losses with witnesses. Otherwise, we assume profits. Many poskim (see Torat Ribbit 27:11) rule that this cannot be done when the investor is a partner in the business because when the investor knows there were not enough profits, he cannot demand proof of what he knows. Therefore, receiving the expected returns when they are not justified is ribbit. Some are lenient on the matter (ibid. (24)), but the stringency is logical. You could make the heter iska and use it for cases where there are profits. Realize that you would have to accept the risk of losses that you would know about. How would the heter iska help at all? The value would be in cases when there are apparent profits but it is hard to quantify them, so the heter iska sets clear return assumptions.
In summary, it is legitimate to rely on Rav Feinstein and not worry about anything. If you want to do a heter iska, it can be done, but if you want to use it even for cases where there were not gains, it is questionable whether it helps and will probably not allow profits on the past. You may want to just end the loan and, from this point and in the future, take the equity approach.
When to Make Up P’sukei D’zimraSomeone in shul did something I see as strange. He came late, skipped to Yishtabach when the tzibbur got up to it, but then was making up few p’sukim of P’sukei D’zimra at each of the pauses in Birchot Kri’at Shema and during chazarat hashatz (we barely had a minyan, and it was unclear to me how often he was answering amen). Is that the right way to do things?
Your shul-mate was correct to skip parts of P’sukei D’zimra in order to daven with the tzibbur, preferably finishing Yishtabach together and, more crucially, starting Shemoneh Esrei together (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 52:1). For Sephardim, one may even skip all of P’sukei D’zimra, including Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach (ibid.), whereas Ashkenazim should say at least those berachot and Ashrei (Mishna Berura 52:6).
However, it was wrong to say parts of P’sukei D’zimra during pauses in Birchot Shema, during which one may not speak non-crucial things. There are two sets of rules of speech at that time: in between berachot and sections of Kri’at Shema (bein haperakim), and in their midst (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:1). Actually, most of the “pauses,” i.e., when we wait for the chazan, are in the midst of berachot of Kri’at Shema or other times when it is particularly bad to speak, even for mitzva purposes. (The exception is after “…yotzer hame’orot.”)
Even bein haperakim, the list of permitted recitations is very limited. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) rules that one who did not put on tallit and tefillin previously may do so with a beracha during bein haperakim. However, the Rama cites an opinion that one does not recite the beracha until later, even though putting on tefillin at that time is important (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 25:4), and rules this way regarding tzitzit/tallit. The Mishna Berura (66:15) explains that since having a tallit on at that time is only desirable and not a real requirement, the beracha is an unjustified interruption during the Kri’at Shema section.
How critical is P’sukei D’zimra at that point? For one who skipped all of P’sukei D’zimra (see above), arguably, if he now realizes that he can fit it in bein haperakim, it might be important enough to do. After all, according to the Shulchan Aruch, a make-up P’sukei D’zimra will be without Baruch She’amar/Yishtabach. We find a machloket whether a passing opportunity to make a non-critical beracha (see Mishna Berura 66:19 regarding the beracha on lightening) justifies recitation bein haperakim. However, assuming the person said a shortened P’sukei D’zimra, why recite individual mizmorim at this sensitive point? After all, there already was a basic pre-tefilla praise of Hashem (P’sukei D’zimra’s main function), and the fact that one may shorten it shows the rest is not critical. Whatever he recited was out of its normal framework (i.e., between Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach), and the mizmorim can and should be done after tefilla. There is a better idea, for one who hopes to get in more of P’sukei D’zimra than if he just skips to Yishtabach and knows he davens faster than the chazan. He can continue P’sukei D’zimra, answering Kaddish and Barchu while in its midst, and then catch up to the tzibbur during Birchot Kri’at Shema (Mishna Berura 52:6).What about P’sukei D’zimra during chazarat hashatz? The basic halacha is that it is only forbidden to speak mundane matters during chazarat hashatz (Shulchan Aruch OC, 124:7). However, poskim consider it bad precedent to even learn Torah or recite supplications when people should be concentrating on chazarat hashatz (Mishna Berura 124:17). If it is unclear if there are ten (perhaps, nine – see Living the Halachic Process vol. I, A-10) people listening to every word (Igrot Moshe, OC IV 19) then it is certainly wrong to be involved in anything else. If (as is likely) recitation of P’sukei D’zimra will cause him to miss answering some amens and this may cause the loss of the quorum for amen during some berachot (others in shul likely also sometimes lose concentration), this is severe (Shulchan Aruch, OC 124:4).
Receiving Credit Card Benefit on Purchase for Someone ElseReuven paid for Shimon’s plane ticket using his credit card and was to be reimbursed. Is it considered that Reuven lent money to Shimon, so that if Reuven receives more than he gave because of credit card points he earned, it is ribbit (forbidden usury)? Also, who deserves to get the points, i.e., should Reuven credit Shimon for his gain?
When Reuven gave money to the airlines via his credit card based on Simon’s request, it is indeed considered as if he lent money to Shimon. This is based on a broad concept known as arvut (guarantorship). By means of arvut, the one who becomes obligated is not the one who received the money (the airline) but the one who requested the money to reach the party he specified (Shimon) (Kiddushin 7a). This concept can be used in creating loan obligations, kiddushin, and transactions. Thus, if Shimon would refuse to pay Reuven back because Reuven did not directly give him anything, we would say “Are you kidding?! When asking Reuven to pay the airlines, you said (or implied) you would pay Shimon back.”
Now that we have determined that Reuven has, effectively and halachically, lent money to Shimon, the question is whether Reuven can receive benefit as a result of the transaction. Indeed, ribbit is not only when a lender receives money straight from the hand of the borrower. If, for example, the borrower wanted to give the interest to the lender by means of a shaliach (agent), it would also be forbidden.
However, the problem is only if the benefit that Reuven receives is, in some way, coming from Shimon (Bava Metzia 69b). This case is different because of the nature of the benefit the credit card company gives Reuven. Because credit card companies benefit when their card is used more times/for larger sums of money, they sometimes give incentives to cardholders to use their card as much as possible. The company, thus, gives benefit to the cardholder, i.e., because Reuven decided to use their credit card; they are certainly not doing it at Shimon’s behest. Therefore, there is no problem of ribbit.
Is Reuven, though, required to give or share the gain with Shimon, and, then, if Shimon waived his rights, would that waiver not be considered ribbit? The gemara (Ketubot 98b) asks about a case in which someone serves as an agent to buy a certain amount of a commodity for a buyer for a certain price, and the seller decides to give more commodity than was requested. The gemara says that if the object does not have a set price, we say that the buyer’s money ended up bringing him more than expected. If, though, there was a set price, we view the extra as a present.
Who receives the present? The gemara accepts the opinion that it is divided equally between the buyer and the agent. Rashi explains that this is because there is a doubt for whom the present was intended. Based on this, the Rama (Choshen Mishpat 183:6) says that if the seller specified that he added on for the agent, the agent keeps the whole surplus. The Rif (Ketubot 57b of his pages) says that even assuming the agent was the intended recipient, the buyer deserves a share because the benefit came through him. The Beit Yosef prefers the Rif’s opinion, and the Shach (183:12) wonders why the Rama wrote according to Rashi as if it is agreed upon.
One might have claimed that our case depends on the machloket of the Rif, Rashi et al., as Reuven got the benefit because of Shimon’s purchase. However, in this case, Shimon is less directly involved with the credit card company than the gemara’s seller is to the buyer. Also, the “present” is part of an ongoing deal between company and client (Reuven), to which Shimon is not a party. The Rashba (Meyuchas L’Ramban 60; see K’tzot Hachoshen 283:7) says that when the present is because of the agent’s relationship with the seller, the agent receives the whole benefit.In summary, based on your description, Reuven need not credit Shimon for the points benefit, and there is no problem of ribbit.
Joining a Shushan Purim SeudaAt my Purim seuda this year (Friday, in Yerushalayim), I will be hosting my children from outside the city. Are there any limitations on their participation considering that it is Erev Shabbat?
While the main halacha of refraining from serious eating before a holy day is before Pesach (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 471:1), it is proper to refrain from even a moderate meal during the last quarter of Friday day (ibid. 249:2). It is also prohibited to make, anytime on Friday, an especially big meal. However, this is permitted for seudot mitzva that fall specifically on this day (Rama ad loc.), including a Purim seuda (Rama, OC 695:2).
At first glance, since the Purim seuda does not apply, halachically, to your visiting family, they do not have an excuse to do that which is normally forbidden. However, one can argue cogently to the contrary. One who makes a brit or pidyon haben on Friday makes a seuda (Rama ad loc.), and standard sources do not limit whom he can invite. It follows that whoever joins the seuda is properly contributing to the occasion’s festiveness. Similarly, we cite for those for whom it is not intuitively obvious, that important sources (including Eliya Rabba 695:4; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 696:3) write that Purim is properly celebrated in the context of a broad gathering of family and friends.
We would not, though, say that this is a proof that your out-of-town guests have no more restrictions than you. Consider that the nature of a seudat brit is that the ba’alei simcha invite and rely on guests who are not ba’alei simcha. In contrast, it is plausible that since one’s whole community is celebrating Purim, participation is a mitzva only for such people. On the other hand, some festivity is appropriate for all Jews on both Adar 14 and Adar 15 (Rama, OC 695:2).
It is even likely that the “prohibition” on eating a big meal in the morning is not a problem at all for your guests. The source to refrain from it is a gemara (Gittin 38b), which tells that a family that set a meal on “Erev Shabbat” was punished. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that their main Shabbat meal was Friday night, but most say it is referring to a seuda on Friday day. However, some say it is a problem only if it is on a regular basis (Ramban, Gittin 38b)); some say any occurrence of a big meal even in the morning can ruin one’s appetite (Shulchan Aruch, OC 249:2); others (Rashba in name of Rach; Pri Megadim, EA 249:4) say that is to not take away from Shabbat preparations (here, the seuda and Shabbat organizers are Shushan Purim people). Thus, only according to one approach (albeit, the Shulchan Aruch’s) should it be a real problem for the guests in the first place.
In the final analysis, based on multiple grounds, we posit that it is appropriate to include your children in the seuda. The question remains whether any limitations are appropriate.
While most years, the Purim seuda is preferably held in the afternoon, on Friday it is preferable to start it in the morning so that one will have enough time to recover his appetite by Shabbat (ibid.). (There is an opinion that it is enough to start before the last quarter of the day (Shut Maharil 56, cited as a secondary source in Mishna Berura 695:10).) There is a serious albeit minority approach to hold the seuda at the end of the day and have it turn into a Shabbat meal (contact our office for guidelines). The involvement of out-of-town guests is an added reason to prefer an earlier meal, as serious eating close to Shabbat is clearly problematic, and the advantages of enhancement of Purim by eating later do not apply directly to them. Therefore, having the meal in the morning (starting is enough - Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 42:(96)) is significantly preferable for the guests.
If the guests want to be stringent, there is logic for them to eat less than they might have. It is not justified for them to get drunk or even drink a lot of wine. (Any year, it is hard to justify getting drunk when it is not his Purim, nor do we ever favor drunkenness on Purim.)
Tefillin on a Semi-Permanent ToupeeMy balding at a young age is having a major effect on my dating and my self-image. I am considering getting a toupee that is glued down to the scalp, which lasts for 3-6 months. Would I have a problem of a chatzitza (separation from the body) for my tefillin?
The Rashba (Shut III:282) believes that the laws of chatzitza do not apply to the tefillin shel rosh. However, the accepted opinion is that chatzitzot are a problem, although possibly only for the bayit and not the retzuot (straps) (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chayim 27:4 and Mishna Berura 27:16).
Many poskim (including Igrot Moshe, OC IV:40.18; Aseh Lecha Rav III:3; Yalkut Yosef, OC 27:14) posit that a removable toupee is a chatzitza. However, Rav Moshe posits that transplanted hair is not a chatzitza since it is a permanent, desired part of his body. Furthermore, he writes that is also true for a permanently glued-on toupee. Is a toupee that is glued down for a matter of months a temporary or permanent appendage to the body?
Matters of chatzitza on appendages that remain for an extended period are discussed regarding items such as removable stitches and temporary fillings for women going to the mikveh. In that context, many poskim (see opinions in Badei Hashulchan 198:179 and The Laws of Nidda (Forst), vol. II, p.313-4) are lenient to allow tevilla. One of the lenient factors (see Igrot Moshe, YD I:97) is that the ostensible chatzitza is something that is specifically needed for medical reasons for a significant amount of time. This factor is missing in our case. However, several poskim are lenient in a case of aesthetic need to allow a married woman to have braces on her teeth (see The Laws of Nidda ibid.), and that is parallel to our case. Our case is also better than braces in that people want to remove the braces as soon as possible, whereas you would want to keep the toupee as long as you can.
There are various opinions regarding how long the item needs to remain on the body: six months; a month; a week (see ibid.). Finally, if, for example, the required time is a month, then according to some opinions, the appendage becomes a chatzitza a month before it will be removed; others say that if it is on for a month, it is okay until it is removed (see ibid.). Your situation is better if the toupee is being removed to be re-glued rather than replaced. A woman who wants to follow the stringent opinion can accordingly synchronize going to the mikveh and removing the appendage; a man who has to put on tefillin every day cannot.
Let us halachically contrast tevilla and tefillin. On the one hand, tevilla is needed to remove a more stringent halachic matter than tefillin. Also, we saw an opinion that chatzitza is not a problem for the tefillin shel rosh. Yet, in other ways, your case is more severe. A chatzitza on a minority of the body (as in the cases above) is no worse than a Rabbinic disqualification (Nidda 67b). In contrast, the entire area of the tefillin is covered by a toupee, and there is thus the potential for a Torah-level disqualification (see Ran to Rif, Sukka 13b). Some even argue that the parameters of chatzitza for tefillin are broader than for tevilla (see Rivevot Ephrayim III;38), and some claim that even one’s own hair that is under the tefillin in an unnatural way is a chatzitza (Machatzit Hashekel 27:4). A toupee should be no better than that.In summary, it is likely that the toupee in question would not be a chatzitza (and one could make a beracha on the tefillin while it is on) as long as it is still considered desirable. However, we cannot deny that according to significant opinions, the mitzva of tefillin could be compromised. In the following way a removable toupee has an advantage. Several poskim allow one who will be embarrassed to remove it publicly to put on tefillin at home without the toupee, say Kri’at Shema, and then daven in shul with tefillin on the toupee without a beracha (Igrot Moshe ibid.; Aseh Lecha Rav, ibid.).
Leaving Money for Tzedaka in a WillHow much could or should one leave in a will for tzedaka before dividing the rest among the children?
First, realize that there is absolutely no requirement to leave anything in a will for tzedaka. The obligation to give tzedaka applies during and throughout one’s lifetime. When he dies (may it be at 120), he is exempt from it like other mitzvot and does not have to make provisions before his death. It becomes the inheritors’ obligation to give tzedaka from the money they inherit (Tzedaka U’mishpat 5:4).
The question the poskim deal with is whether it is permitted to leave money for tzedaka. Chazal frowned upon (at least; perhaps, forbade!) giving money slated for his inheritors to others or giving the share of one inheritor to another (Bava Batra 133b). This is called avurei achsanta (=av ach). This is even if there is a logical reason, e.g., one child is more “deserving” than another (ibid.). This certainly applies when it is done or takes effect at the end of his life, when the laws of inheritance were to apply. The gemara (Ketubot 53a) says that one who gives an exaggerated dowry for his daughter is considered av ach. This indicates that giving at least an amount of money that is appropriate to serve as an inheritance can be considered av ach even during his lifetime.
The gemara in Bava Batra (ibid.) indicates that giving money as a mitzva (e.g., hekdesh) can still be forbidden as av ach. It is thus hard to know where to draw the line. Could it be prohibited to give a nice present to anyone, including tzedaka (beyond the recommended amount)?! On the one hand, the gemara (Ketubot 50a) says that one may not give more than 20% of his property/earnings to tzedaka. However, the reason is concern that he might need the money, not because it deprives his inheritors, and it is permitted to give it “after he dies” and thus will not be needing the money (Ketubot 67b).We will present some of the distinctions raised to reconcile the sources.
Several poskim posit that if one leaves significant amounts of money for his inheritors, then he can give major tzedaka donations (see Pitchei Teshuva, Choshen Mishpat 282:1; Yabia Omer VIII:9). In fact, the gemara (ibid.) tells that Mar Ukva donated half of his assets to tzedaka soon before his death, after declaring it is prudent considering his insufficient merits (he was an Amora!!) for his judgment in Heaven. Some claim that since Mar Ukva was wealthy, his inheritors were anyway well provided for (see Pitchei Choshen, Yerusha 4:(9)).
Let us move to the related question of when it is appropriate to leave money to tzedaka. The Chatam Sofer (CM 151) discussed one who was dying without children and wanted to leave huge amounts of money to tzedaka. He posits that while it is problematic to give to others (even tzedaka) so that his inheritor not receive much, there is justification to give to tzedaka if he feels, especially without the merit of leaving children, that he is need of the merit of tzedaka.One should consider a few more things. Often one’s children are very worthy recipients of all of the inheritance money by virtue of their needs (which can verge on tzedaka) and the good things they can do with it (e.g., pay day school tuition, afford to live in a religious neighborhood). Not only may tzedaka be given to the needy in the family, but they have precedence (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 251:3). Also consider that while when the money one earned and saved through hard work goes to tzedaka, it is a significant posthumous merit, leaving it in a will is not the full mitzva of tzedaka (Tzedaka U’mishpat 1:(7)). After all, a major part of the mitzva is to give to others rather than spend on oneself. Here, giving away to others money slated for one’s children, when he cannot use it himself, does not have the full effect. Fortunate is one who can trust his children to use an appropriate amount of the money they inherit for tzedaka and mitzvot. One can seek the right balance for his situation with the help of a sensitive rav who knows the family.
Finishing Time for MinchaAm I correct that l’chatchila, it is proper to start Mincha early enough to finish before shekiah? If so, what are the key sources on the matter?
Question: Am I correct that l’chatchila, it is proper to start Mincha early enough to finish before shekiah? If so, what are the key sources on the matter?
Answer: There are two opinions in the gemara (Berachot 27a) about the end time for Mincha – until plag haMincha or the erev (evening). The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 233:1) says that the latter opinion, which most people now regularly follow, is until layla (night), which for the Shulchan Aruch (see Mishna Berura 261:20) is around an hour after sunset. (There are two major approaches in the poskim whether what the gemara calls shekiah, which is the first part of the break-off point between day and night, is what we call sunset or is when the sun is well under the horizon. This machloket has many direct and indirect halachic implications, and this is one of them.) The great majority of us (except those who follow the much later opinion for the end of Shabbat and the time to start Ma’ariv known as Rabbeinu Tam/Magen Avraham) follow the opinion (often called the Gra’s opinion) that halachic shekiah is sunset. The Rama (ad loc.) is more specific, saying that this means tzeit hakochavim (stars coming out).
The Mishna Berura (233:14) points out that they do not mean full night, i.e., tzeit hakochavim. Rather, the intention is for approximately a quarter hour before, when bein hashemashot starts and it is a doubt whether it is night or day. Furthermore, he contends that many disagree with the Shulchan Aruch and follow sunset like the Gra. Therefore, indeed shekiah is the presumed cut-off point. Because there are opinions that later is sufficient, there is room for leniency in times of great need (Mishna Berura, ibid), especially within the first thirteen and a half minutes, which is no later than bein hashemashot (see also Shevet Halevi IX:48).
Does one only have to start or also finish in time? Most poskim posit that, as a rule, things must be finished by their time limit, and this rule also applies to Mincha (Mishna Berura ibid., Ishei Yisrael 27:6). A minority say the beginning is enough (Aruch Hashulchan, OC 110:5; see sources in Ishei Yisrael 27:(12)). Therefore, many poskim (Mishna Berura ibid., Ishei Yisrael 27:6) say that it is better to daven without a minyan before shekiah than to finish it after shekiah with a minyan (ibid.). One could claim that given the minority opinions above and here, there is more reason for leniency if one starts soon before and ends soon after sunset (see Piskei Teshuvot 233:7). This, though, is not simple for those who do not heed Rabbeinu Tam’s opinion at all.
Fundamentally, there is little difference between Shemoneh Esrei and chazarat hashatz, which, after all, is supposed to be Shemoneh Esrei for certain individuals and/or the tzibbur. On the other hand, if everyone already got in their own Shemoneh Esrei, the stakes regarding chazarat hashatz are lower. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that there is a machloket among Acharonim whether it is better to do a shortened chazarat hashatz (heiche Kedusha) or to finish chazarat hashatz after shekiah (see Ishei Yisrael 27:40). Thus, it is quite important to finish chazarat hashatz in time. However, several poskim say that if one is in a shul in which chazarat hashatz is being done after shekiah, even one who does not accept that approach may answer Amen (see Maharam Shick, OC 91; Shevet Halevi IX:20; Tefilla K’hilchata 18:33).While we do not put our heads down for Tachanun at night, the Mishna Berura (131:17) says that it can be done during bein hashemashot (certainly including thirteen and a half minutes after sunset). He also says (ibid. 16) that one can say the words of Tachanun without putting his head down even at night. We note, though, that several report a minhag Yerushalayim not to recite Tachanun after shekiah (see Halichot Shlomo 13:4). Reciting Kaddish Titkabel (after chazarat hashatz) after shekiah is not a problem whether one finished chazarat hashatz before or after shekiah (see Ishei Yisrael 27:39).
Use of Salad Slicers on ShabbatMay I use a salad slicer (approximately, a hand-operated food processor) on Shabbat?
The gemara (Shabbat 74b) states, according to the explanation of several Rishonim, that cutting certain vegetables into small pieces is a Torah-level violation of tochen (grinding).
There are several lenient opinions that limit the scope of this prohibition on cutting. Some say (see Tosafot ad loc.) that it applies only to foods that are not edible whole, which makes cutting them into small, edible pieces a significant and thus forbidden change. The Rambam (Shabbat 21:18) implies that it is only when it is cut up in preparation for its being cooked. These two possibilities, and especially when one connects them, logically make cutting comparable to grinding grains to be used for baking bread. A further leniency is cited by many, including the Rama (Orach Chayim 321:12), in the name of the Rashba (Shut IV:75). The Rashba says that cutting done soon before consumption is considered part of the eating process and not a forbidden melacha, similar to the distinction regarding borer (selecting).
If one makes a standard salad right before the Shabbat meal it would thus seem that there should be several grounds to permit the matter. However, there are a few difficulties in allowing use of a salad slicer on Shabbat. First, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 321:12) considers the cutting into small pieces of all vegetables, even not for the purpose of cooking, as a full-fledged violation of tochen. Furthermore, the Magen Avraham (321:15) is among those who are unhappy with the leniency of cutting soon before eating (see Mishna Berura 321:45), at least when the vegetables are cut very small.
In this regard, a simple compromise is to indeed turn the device only enough for the vegetables to, by and large, be cut into relatively large pieces. Many poskim point out that there are no exact dimensions for what is considered small, and that the matter is relative to the normal preparation of the salad (see Dirshu 321:59). There is also a machloket about when a vegetable is cut thin in one dimension but remains larger in the other two dimensions (and thus, for example, the pieces still need to be chewed before swallowing). Igrot Moshe (OC IV, 74) is lenient on the matter, while some others say that cutting thin in any dimension is a problem (see Orchot Shabbat 5:(12)).
However, it is still a problem to use a salad slicer because it is a utensil that is made for the purpose of cutting into small enough pieces to be considered tochen. The Biur Halacha (to 321:12) follows the comparison that the Rashba made to borer. For borer, it is not enough that the selecting is done for short-term use, but it also must not use a utensil because that makes it more work-like. Using a regular knife that is used for cutting of all shapes and sizes does not impact the permissibility because that is the way that permitted cutting is done as well. However, when one uses a special set of blades which is made for making salads of small pieces, it is forbidden even if he limits the use so that it does not, in this case, produce small pieces (ibid.). This is on two possible grounds. One is that it turns the action into one which is closer to classic tochen. The other is that use of such a special preparing machine is a violation of uvdin d’chol, weekday-like activity, even in cases when the melacha of tochen does not apply to the object being cut (Shulchan Aruch, OC 321:10).There are some types of salad preparation gadgets that always leave the pieces quite large. It that case, it is possible (some require that the pieces be bigger than usual) that there is neither a direct prohibition of tochen nor a problem of uvdin d’chol (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 6:3). We cannot give you an opinion without seeing the operation of the specific appliance. In general, it is a good idea to either prepare the salad before Shabbat or use a regular knife.
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