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Chazan Starting with Chazarat HashatzAs we were finishing up silent Shemoneh Esrei, an avel came in and wanted to take over as chazan before doing silent Shemoneh Esrei. He davened until Kedusha and planned to continue silently. People told him to continue chazarat hashatz out loud. Was it possible to do this?
The idea of a chazan starting chazarat hashatz without silent Shemoneh Esrei is discussed in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 124:2), based on the Kol Bo (127). In short, it can be done, but it is not ideal. Understanding why it is not ideal helps guide people what to do in different circumstances.
The Mishna Berura (124:4) assumes that the Shulchan Aruch allows the chazan to do chazarat hashatz without silent Shemoneh Esrei in a case where no one else is capable of being chazan. He does not, though, state why it should not be done otherwise. The Kol Bo identified two issues that need addressing.
1) If this chazan is reciting Shemoneh Esrei for others (the tzibbur and/or one who cannot daven himself), how does he fulfill his own personal obligation? The Kol Bo says that if his tefilla helps others, it certainly works for himself; therefore, he does not need to repeat Shemoneh Esrei after his chazarat hashatz. Despite the strong logic, the Mishna Berura may imply that this is true only after the fact, but that it is better for him to do his own Shemoneh Esrei for himself, independent of chazarat hashatz.
2) How can that which is also serving as a personal Shemoneh Esrei be done out loud, which is usually forbidden because it makes the davener look like one who does not believe Hashem hears silent prayers (see Berachot 24b)? The Kol Bo says this is not a problem here because he is doing so due to pressing circumstances. The Eliya Rabba (OC 124:3) says that due to this issue, one with better alternatives should not make his chazarat hashatz his first Shemoneh Esrei.
The Magen Avraham (124:3; see Machatzit Hashekel ad loc.) says that the main problem is based on the gemara in Rosh Hashana (34b). The gemara says that the reason to have a silent Shemoneh Esrei even though people can fulfill the mitzva with chazarat hashatz is to give the chazan an opportunity to familiarize himself with what he will be reciting. While this is not crucial during a standard tefilla (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 100:1), it is still a reason to prefer that the chazan does not start with chazarat hashatz.
Is switching to the late-coming chazan justified because he is an avel? We did not find classical sources on this. Among less-known Acharonim, Birkat Habayit (Einhorn 42:2) allows within shloshim and on a yahrtzeit, but not the rest of the year. Ishei Yisrael (24:31) says that any chiyuv of aveilut suffices.
Who gets to decide which opinion to follow? According to the Eliya Rabba, it is a matter of a proper tefilla for the chazan, and thus up to him (/his posek). According to the Magen Avraham, the issue is the chazarat hashatz’s quality, which is the minyan’s call (see interesting application in Igrot Moshe, OC IV:33). Certainly on a matter that is about no more than preferability, this is not the type of thing to fight about (which, we hope people have learned, we are never fond of).We guess your story occurred at Mincha (i.e., he was only a few minutes late), and this is the Kol Bo’s context as well. Regarding Shacharit, if one was able to get up to Ga’al Yisrael on time, it is possible to do the same thing; otherwise, it is complicated (see Bi’ur Halacha to OC 124:2). Regarding your question of continuing out loud after Kedusha, the sources are clearly assuming that he will be doing so, as he “fills the shoes” of the chazan for chazarat hashatz. In any case, he has no justification to drag the minyan into a less than ideal chazarat hashatz (known as heiche Kedusha) or worse (analysis is beyond our present scope). After all, there is not an obligation to let an avel be chazan (Mishna Berura 53:60); Kaddish is enough. In any case, once the avel started chazarat hashatz, there was not due cause to revert to silent mode.
To What Does Havdala Relate?This is more of a philosophical than halachic question, but is Havdala a mitzva of Shabbat or a mitzva of chol (weekday)?
The Rambam (Shabbat 29:1; Sefer Hamitzvot, Aseh 155) is clear on the matter, as he views Kiddush and Havdala as equivalent “bookends”: “It is a positive mitzva from the Torah to sanctify Shabbat with words, as it says, “Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it” (Shemot 20:7); in other words, remember it as a remembrance of praise and sanctification. One needs to remember it as it enters and as it leaves: as it enters with Kiddush, and as it leaves with Havdala.”
Yet, there are notable distinctions between Kiddush and Havdala. Kiddush is done on Shabbat; Havdala is done after Shabbat. Kiddush focuses on Shabbat alone; Havdala distinguishes between Shabbat and chol. Indeed, one gemara (Sh’vuot 18b) seems to put the focus of Havdala on the distinction between Shabbat and chol, rather than viewing it is an appropriate time to praise Shabbat. It cites the pasuk, “To distinguish between the sacred and the mundane” (Vayikra 10:10) as the source for Havdala. One can also argue that Havdala is a way to usher in the weekday, as Shabbat continues (on some level) until Havdala ends it (see Tosafot, Berachot 27b).
Perhaps, whether Havdala relates more to Shabbat or to chol is the basis of a practical question, which Rishonim dispute (both opinions are cited in the Shulchan Aruch/Rama, Orach Chayim 296:8) – are women obligated in Havdala? Women are obligated in Kiddush of Shabbat. Even though it is a time-based mitzva, the positive (zachor) and negative (shamor) mitzvot of Shabbat are linked so that whoever is commanded to refrain from melacha is obligated in Kiddush (Berachot 20b). If Havdala is part of zachor, as the Rambam indicates, women can be obligated from the Torah in Havdala, or even if Havdala is of Rabbinic origin, Chazal could have modeled it after Kiddush (Maggid Mishneh, Shabbat 29:1). The Orchot Chayim (Havdala 18) says that women are exempt from Havdala because it is not linked to the negative element of Shabbat, as the Rabbis only artificially connected it to that pasuk. The Pri Megadim (MZ 296:7) adds on to the Orchot Chayim’s argument that Havdala is done on chol, and therefore it is missing the Shabbat linkage.
One could read into this approach that women are exempt from Havdala because it is a mitzva of chol. The mitzva could be to allow melacha on chol, as it is prohibited to do melacha (all or some – see opinions in Shulchan Aruch, OC 299:10) before a declaration of Havdala (even without wine). However, that seems overstated. The Orchot Chayim probably just means that the chiddush that women are obligated in Kiddush despite it being time-based does not extend to Havdala because Havdala is not as connected to “zachor-shamor” as Kiddush is. All seem to agree that the main point is to stress, as chol begins, how special Shabbat is. Why then is melacha forbidden? One possibility is that until Havdala, it is still, on some level, Shabbat (Mishna Berura 299:33). Another possibility is that one is not allowed to go about normal life before he has fulfilled the mitzva of parting from Shabbat (see Aruch Hashulchan, Tzitz Eliezer XI:34).
Another telling point is the gemara (Berachot 27b) that seems to say (so rules the Shulchan Aruch, OC 293:3) that Havdala can be made on Shabbat (from plag hamincha). Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC IV:49) says that this is because the Rambam is right that Havdala is a mitzva of Shabbat, even if we usually do it after Shabbat is over. This proof seems refutable (in addition to the fact that early Havdala is only for unusual circumstances) as follows. We find elsewhere that mitzvot that relate to the night can be done (at least according to some opinions) from plag hamincha. Therefore, a declaration of ushering in chol can begin then, even if melacha will certainly be forbidden until nightfall.
Unquestionably, though, the Rambam’s approach, that it is a mitzva of Shabbat, is the most straightforward and accepted one.
Reliability Regarding KashrutDoes “one witness is believed in matters of issurin (what is religiously forbidden/permitted, including, kashrut)” apply even if the witness has a personal interest, such as a store or restaurant? Does it apply to a woman? Must the person be a yareh shamayim? How is a mashgiach better than the owner if the business pays him?
[This is a general, not detailed, answer.] When full testimony is required, i.e., for monetary matters, punishments of beit din, and matters of “family status,” two witnesses are required (see Gittin 2b), and they must not have a direct interest in the matter (Rambam Eidut 9:1). Formal testimony is not needed for matters of issurin, which is the reason that one witness suffices (Chulin 10b).
When one person is enough, a nogeiah b’eidut, one who is affected by the “testimony” can be used. One example is that a butcher is believed to say that all the steps needed to make meat kosher were done (Rambam, Maachalot Assurot 8:7). We do not suspect him of lying to make money by selling non-kosher food to kosher consumers. The person does need to be under the presumption of reliability on religious matters, which requires him to, first and foremost, be personally observant (ibid.). As a rule, one who eats kosher will not feed non-kosher food to others. Some mainly religious people have serious flaws in their observance of certain areas of Halacha. Then, one might be believed regarding certain areas of Halacha and not others. The rule is that one who violates “light” aveirot does not automatically lose credibility regarding “heavy” ones; some of the complicated details are found in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 119.
Fundamentally, there is no distinction between the reliability of men and women regarding issurin (see practical distinctions in Rama, Yoreh Deah 127:3). In fact, one source that people can rely on others regarding issurin is from the Torah’s description of a woman’s counting the days to end her nidda status, regarding which her husband is to trust her (Tosafot, Gittin 2b). Rashi (ad loc.) says that the source is the correct assumption that one can trust the kosher status of food prepared by others, and this applies to both men and to women.
Where did the idea of requiring hashgachot come from? The Rosh (Chulin 1:24) says that in his time the broad minhag was not to trust butchers for all of the checking needed but to appoint experts. Mahari Halevi (17) points out that it is not out of fear of purposeful deceit but that some elements may be too complicated for certain butchers who might not admit it.
In some communities, a proprietor who is known to be trustworthy is not required to obtain a formal hashgacha. However, most communities require some level of rabbinic supervision (the supervision is often looser when the proprietor is known to be trustworthy). Having a mashgiach is “healthy” for the following reasons. 1. Since, as above, even honest people make mistakes, it is worthwhile for someone with training to supervise. He should catch as many mistakes as possible and know how to deal with them after the fact. The mashgiach also has easier access to kashrut experts when needed. 2. One who is new in or passing through town and does not know who is and is not trustworthy can be guided by the certification of known rabbis or organizations. 3. Every once in a while, someone who was assumed to be trustworthy turns out to not be; while Halacha does not demand us to suspect this, extra prudence on matters affecting the public can be positive.Regarding mashgichim being paid by the people they are supervising, #1 and #2 above are not issues. Regarding #3, the guarantees are indeed lower if the proprietor can pressure the mashgiach financially to not be sufficiently vigilant. However, halachically, the hashgacha is still valid. As we have seen, we do not expect trustworthy people to lie about kashrut even if they have a financial interest. However, many organized kashrut organizations pay the mashgiach themselves to reduce the chance of abuse of the system.
Answering Birkat Kohanim when One Kohen Finishes LastIn my shul, one kohen regularly finishes Birkat Kohanim after the others. When should I answer amen?
The gemara (Sota 39b) says that the congregation should not answer amen before the kohanim have completed each beracha. Is this halacha referring to all the kohanim completing the berachot or is a majority enough?
Let us check parallel contexts. Rav Chisda (Berachot 47a) says that while the one cutting the loaf of bread should wait until those present answer amen to his beracha, he does not wait for a minority who unnecessarily stretch out amen. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 124:9) rules that during chazarat hashatz, a chazan needs to wait only for the majority to answer amen and not for a minority that takes an unnecessarily long time. The Mishna Berura (ad loc. 38) says that an exception is in a context in which one is continuing with a beracha that each member of the congregation has a personal obligation to hear. In our case, although the congregation’s involvement may have importance (Sefer HaCharedim, Aseh 4:18), the kohen who is has not finished is apparently not deprived of any obligation. (On a practical note, the introductory beracha and the first two p’sukim end with a vowel, “ahava,” “v’yishmerecha,” and “viychuneka,” respectively, so that when it is stretched out, the last word is usually complete. The main problem is with the last beracha, where the “o” of shalom is stretched out before the “m” is pronounced.
Why must the congregation not answer amen to Birkat Kohanim too early? The B’er Sheva (Sota 39b) says that it is a simple application of a rule regarding berachot. The gemara (Berachot 47a) refers to an improper amen called amen chatufa, which some say is answering before the beracha is completed (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 124:8). This is probably worse than a chazan starting a new beracha before all have finished amen to the previous one, so perhaps a majority is not enough. However, it is hard to imagine that this would be a problem after most of the kohanim finished a beracha, as the amen is aimed on the beracha of the majority, who have finished.
The Halachot Ketanot (II:48, cited in Mishna Berura 55:4), regarding Kaddish, talks about answering different reciters who finish at different times. He says that if they finish within toch kdei dibbur (approximately, 1.5 seconds) of each other, one can choose to answer after the earlier or the later; if they are separated by more than that, one should answer both separately. The Birchot Horai (9:(9)) posits that the same is true for an unevenly finished Birkat Kohanim. He cites, without a source or explanation, Rav S.Z. Auerbach as preferring waiting until the later person is finished.
Should it make a difference that here there is a clear majority? We have seen that we follow the majority regarding the end of the recitation of amen for Hamotzi and in chazarat hashatz. However, that is apparently because of the assumption that the majority, not the minority, is doing things correctly, but if the majority is fast and the minority is at a nice pace, one should wait for the minority (Be’ur Halacha to 124:9). This is because of a specific issue with stretching out amen, which can distort the word (Tosafot, Berachot 47a; Mishna Berura 167:85), and it is unlikely this is a problem for the words of Birkat Kohanim. Therefore, on a basic level, it is better to wait for the last person.
The kohanim are expected to recite Birkat Kohanim in unison (see Tosafot, Sota 39b), although they are not angels, who can do things exactly. However, it is not ideal for one to stretch out words significantly longer than his friends. Therefore, the lack of conformity could arguably make the slower person’s recitation inappropriate and make it preferable to follow the majority. However, such a determination, especially with the potential for hard feelings it could cause, is not something we can make a call on from a distance. It is also not appropriate for an individual congregant to “take a stand” in a publicly discernable manner.
Answering Devarim Shebekedusha During One’s BerachaWhat are the halachot regarding someone who is saying a beracha (e.g., Asher Yatzar) and then starts hearing Kaddish or Kedusha? If she can finish before “amen yehei shmei rabba” (=aysr), should she just say the beracha quickly?
First, we must understand that there are two reasons not to speak external matters during a beracha: the disgrace to the beracha; it can render the beracha nonsensical.
Answering the main parts of Kaddish (Kadosh, Baruch k’vod) and Kedusha (aysr and amen to “…da’amiran b’alma”) are so important that one stops even in the midst of a perek of Kri’at Shema or its berachot (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 66:3). This is based on the mishna (Berachot 13b) that one may respond to greetings extended by a distinguished person. Most Rishonim posit that answering these group praises of Hashem is no worse than responding nicely to a person. If this is true during Kri’at Shema and almost anything else but Shemoneh Esrei (Shulchan Aruch, OC 104:7), then Asher Yatzar is certainly not too prominent to be interrupted without it being a disgrace.
The complication is regarding making the beracha nonsensical. The Kesef Mishneh (Tefilla 10:16), in one of his explanations for an unclear phrase in the Rambam, says that one does not answer “aysr” during birchot hanehenin (on food) and birchot hamitzva. He does not say what makes these berachot special, but Acharonim (including Chayei Adam 5:13) posit that these are examples of short berachot (see Tosafot, Ketubot 7b), as opposed to the berachot of Kri’at Shema, which are long.
Actually, it is not that short berachot are more important than long ones, but that they are more likely to be “messed up” by extraneous statements. As the Ben Ish Chai (I, Shemot 6) comments, reciting “Baruch ata … melech haolam kadosh kadosh …” does not make sense. It is not like interrupting one topic to go to another and then return. Rather, it makes the opening of the beracha worthless, which is a problem when it includes Hashem’s name in beracha form. We must not do that, even for the sake of answering Kedusha or Kaddish.
In truth, the distinction is not between long and short berachot per se, but on where in a beracha one is stopping. There are no good places to stop in a short beracha. A long one has some good places and some bad ones. The Mishna Berura (51:2) discusses the second half of Baruch Sheamar (from “Baruch ata…”), which is a long beracha with a short “beracha ending” (baruch ata Hashem melech mehulal batishbachot). He rules that one cannot answer Kaddish and Kedusha from the “Hashem” until “batishbachot.” Ishei Yisrael (19:4) applies the logic to the beginning of long berachot, namely from “baruch ata Hashem” until one has said a coherent idea that gives the beracha significance that allows him to interject a response to Kaddish or Kedusha. Let’s apply these concepts to Asher Yatzar. After “Baruch … asher yatzar et haadam b’chochma,” (one could argue, until “…chalulim”) the beracha is significant, and one can answer until Hashem’s name at the beracha’s end.
What about stopping in the middle of a phrase in the midst of a long beracha? The Shulchan Aruch (OC 66:3) rules that one stops for Kaddish and Kedusha even in the middle of a pasuk of Kri’at Shema. There is a machloket whether this is only at a coherent stopping point in the pasuk (see Mishna Berura 66:10). While he urges planning, to avoid this situation, the Mishna Berura allows stopping anywhere but says that after answering, he should return to the beginning of the pasuk. So too, it is proper to be at a good place in mid-beracha to pause to answer, but if necessary, one can answer in the middle of a long beracha and then return to a place that makes the continuation coherent.Finishing up quickly is fine if you can say the beracha with sufficient kavana. However, if you finish the beracha at the same time you need to answer amen, you should not say amen (other than to aysr) because it looks like you are saying amen to your own beracha (see Mishna Berura 51:3).
Unintentional and Innocuous DeceitI ordered something and had it delivered to my in-laws’ house. I forgot to mention it to them, so when it arrived, they assumed it was a gift for them and thanked me. Is it permissible to "play along" and pretend it was intended for them?
One forbidden form of geneivat da’at (deceiving someone) is when one sells a defective item, even when the buyer does not lose money from it (Chulin 94a). However, the same gemara includes several cases where Reuven makes Shimon think he is intending to give him something, when in fact he did not have that intention. One case is when Reuven urges Shimon to eat with him when he knows Shimon will not eat. Another is when he brings to his friend a utensil in a way that looks like he is bringing something of value, but he is not. Furthermore, the gemara forbids opening before a guest a barrel of wine most of which was already earmarked for sale. (Because the wine of newly open barrels tastes better than those open for a while, opening a new barrel looks like a big gesture to the guest.) Rather, says the gemara, you have to inform them that you would have had to open the barrel soon anyway.
Therefore, at first glance, it is problem to make your in-laws believe you gave a present. However, for one or more reasons, you are not required to tell them. First, we look at the reasoning behind the prohibition of this type of geneivat da’at. Rashi explains that the deceiver causes the recipient to feel that he owes him more reciprocally than he does. Had the recipient of the favor/gesture realized the situation, he would not be as generous in return. Thus, if there is no reason to expect any change in reciprocity due to the act, it is likely permitted to present a more positive picture than exists, and parents (in-law) usually give their children unrelated to little gifts their kids give them. (We do not usually make such distinctions regarding prohibitions, but a prohibition whose action is fine and the whole problem is situational is likely different.)
The following story (gemara, ibid. b) is very instructive. Two rabbis happened to be traveling in the opposite direction of a third rabbi. When they met, the third rabbi expressed his appreciation that they came to greet him. One of the two nicely corrected his mistake to avoid deceiving the third. The second one told the first he was mistaken in disappointing the third and that deception was not a problem because he had “deceived himself.” The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 228:6) rules like the second rabbi, that if the “recipient” should have realized that he actually did not receive a favor, the “giver” does not have to correct him. We can learn a stringency and perhaps also a leniency from this ruling. One might need to correct a misimpression even if he did not purposely do anything to create it if it turns out that he created the error. The leniency is that if he “should not” have jumped to the erroneous conclusion, the “giver” does not have to correct it. You would know better than we can how this idea applies to your case.
Another leniency is that it is permitted to give the wrong impression if the motivation of the “deception” is not to win favor but for the honor of the recipient (gemara and Shulchan Aruch ibid). In this case, it might be embarrassing to tell your in-laws that they made a mistake, although one could argue that it is not embarrassing, as it was your mistake not to tell them the item was coming for you.
Another difference is that, by letting them keep the item, you are, in truth, actually giving them a present. It turns out that they do have reason to be grateful. When one gives an actual present, whose degree is understood correctly (as opposed to the case of opening the wine), we do not find an obligation to divulge all the circumstances under which you gave it. For example, if you gave a nice present, you are not required to say the idea came from your sister-in-law. So too, you do not have to admit the idea of the present came from your in-laws’ mistake.
Maintaining a Possibly Grafted TreeI bought property with a nectarine tree and do not know if it is grafted. What do I do with it?
The main prohibition regarding tree grafting is the act of grafting – (inserting the branch (scion) of one tree into the wood (rootstock) of another tree). Actually, this prohibition is not explicit in the Torah, but Chazal (Kiddushin 39a) derived it from the proximity between crossbreeding of animals and crossbreeding in one’s field. The derivation is presumed to be of a Torah-level law (Rosh, Kilayim 3), and because it is derived from crossbreeding animals, which is not a land-based prohibition, it applies even outside Eretz Yisrael (Kiddushin 39a).
It is forbidden not only to plant kilayim (a mixture of species) but even to allow it to remain in one’s field (Rambam, Kilayim 1:3), and this extends to grafting trees as well (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 295:7). Although one may not leave the trees intact, one may eat or benefit from the fruit that grows there (Yerushalmi, Kilayim 1:4; Rambam, Kilayim 1:7). Exceptions to this rule are when grape orchards are involved and that the offspring of crossbred animals are invalid for a korban (Chulin 115a).
It is unclear whether leaving the grafted tree intact is a Torah-level prohibition or a Rabbinic one (see Tosafot, Bava Kama 81a), and it could depend if one is passive in the matter or active (see Shut Chatam Sofer II:288). In any case, the stronger opinion is seemingly that it is only Rabbinic (Derech Emuna, Kilayim 1:41).
The Chatam Sofer (ibid., cited by the Pitchei Teshuva, YD 295:4) was bothered by the practice in his time of many observant Jews (outside Israel) to buy orchards containing grafted trees. He explained that since the source for the prohibition and its extension to chutz la’aretz is from crossbreeding animals, the prohibition in chutz la’aretz is only when one is active in joining them together. Thus, claims the Chatam Sofer, their practice, even if it was not ideal, could be justified, especially if non-Jews control the doings in the orchard. The Chazon Ish (Kilayim 2:11) critiqued this leniency strongly. Thus, at first glance, it is quite problematic to keep and cultivate a grafted fruit tree even though its fruit are permitted.
In practice, you probably have no problem. Grafting trees is forbidden only when the scion is of a different species than the rootstock (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 295:6). Actually, nectarines are simply a variety of peaches; they are not (at least not usually) grafted onto a plum tree, as many think. Thus, it is permitted to graft a nectarine branch onto a nectarine or a peach tree. (Why would one graft if he does not want to mix species? Apparently, the main idea is almost like cloning. If you grow trees from seeds, fruit will only grow if there is cross pollination from another tree and then you don’t know their exact genetic makeup. By grafting, the scion will turn from a simple branch into, in effect, the beginning of a new tree with the old tree’s properties.)Since we do not want “to go out on a limb” botanically, let us keep your assumption that you do not know if your tree is grafted in a forbidden manner. (In most cases, one with horticultural experience can tell you if it is grafted at all.) The Chazon Ish (Kilayim 2:9) says that if one is unsure whether the scion and the rootstock are (considered) of the same species, it is permitted to keep the tree and cultivate it. This is based on a halachic type of “divide and conquer.” On the level of Torah law, there is a double doubt: perhaps there is never a Torah prohibition to maintain an already grafted tree; even if there is, perhaps the case before us is not an example of forbidden grafting. Therefore, regarding Torah law, we permit it based on double doubt. On the level of Rabbinic law (the Rabbis certainly forbid maintaining an improperly grafted tree), one may be lenient regarding the single doubt of whether they are different species. In chutz la’aretz, there is even slightly more room for leniency (see Chatam Sofer, ibid.).
Nichum Aveilim on Yom Tov and Chol HamoedCan nichum aveilim be done on Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed?
As is common regarding the laws of aveilut, there is a gulf between the gemara’s principles and current practice, but we will try to make some peace between them.
The gemara is clear that one may do nichum aveilim not only on Chol Hamoed but even on Shabbat and Yom Tov. The gemara (Shabbat 12a) says that Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagreed if it is permitted on Shabbat, and the halacha follows Beit Hillel, who permit it. A baraita (Sukka 41b) describing a person going from place to place holding a lulav and etrog mentions one going to nichum aveilim. The gemara (Moed Katan 20a) even says that since people do nichum aveilim on a mo’ed (even though shiva does not begin until after the chag), the number of days of chag after the burial are subtracted from the number of days of nichum aveilim after the chag because of nichum on the chag. So, for example, if there were three days of chag before shiva began, only on the first four days of shiva are people expected to be menachem (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 399:2).
Several relatively recent Acharonim point out that the minhag in our times is not to do nichum aveilim on Shabbat and/or chag. The Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chayim 287:3) and Kaf Hachayim (OC 287:4) say this in regard to Shabbat. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, YD II:172) reports that the same is true regarding Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed and suggests that this is the reason that we now assume that nichum aveilim is done during the entire period of shiva after chag even if the burial was during Chol Hamoed.
How did the change in practice come about? The following gemara (Shabbat 12b) may be most instructive: “Reluctantly, they permitted on Shabbat to console mourners and visit the sick.” Rashi (ad loc.) explains that the problem with nichum is that it raises upsetting things, and the Rif (Shabbat 5b) says that the visitor may scream out too strongly for this festive day. (This helps explain the Shulchan Aruch’s (OC 287:1) ruling that we use a different formula for nichum on Shabbat than during the week, although the Mishna Berura (287:3) also cites an opinion that one can use the regular one.) The Magen Avraham (287:1) expresses displeasure with those who improperly take advantage of “free time” specifically on Shabbat to do such mitzvot that are preferably done during the week. The Nimukei Orach Chayim (287:1) says that things have improved in this matter since the gemara’s time, as people now are careful to be menachem avel specifically during the week. He also points out that the nichum should be done with the aveilim sitting low, which should not be done on Shabbat, as it is public mourning. This finds expression in halachic practice in that we stopped doing this non-ideal nichum totally. While he does not discuss chagim, much of the same logic applies to it as well.
The Shevet Halevi (IV:53) points out that the factors that the Nimukei Orach Chayim raises existed in the gemara’s time. The B’tzel Hachochma (II:44) cites many Rishonim who describe nichum on Shabbat as a normal thing to do, and therefore says that we should not reject it. He even mentions some positives about it (people have time, are dressed nicely).The Gesher Hachayim (20:5:2) says that the minhag of Ashkenazim is to not do nichum on Shabbat or Yom Tov, but yes to do it on Chol Hamoed. As mentioned, more recent poskim (see Igrot Moshe, ibid.; Rav Auerbach, cited in Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 65:(181)) state that it is not practiced even on Chol Hamoed. Sephardic minhag (see Yalkut Yosef, Sova Semachot 26:2) is to sanction, even on Shabbat, to be menachem in the mourner’s house, when this is the only time he can do it. Ashkenazim do no more than mention one’s regrets and discuss feelings informally with the avel in shul. It seems that the Ashkenazic approach is that coming to an avel’s home is done only when he is accepting visitors as part of shiva (at the hours they set). At other times, only people who are very close would venture in.
Shehecheyanu on Shofar on Second DayWhy is it that at Kiddush on the second night of Rosh Hashana we require a new fruit in order to make Shehecheyanu but say Shehecheyanu before shofar-blowing of the second day without “help”?
Usually on the second day of Yom Tov (i.e., in chutz la’aretz), Shehecheyanu is recited at Kiddush even though it was already recited the day before, because we view the second day as based on doubt. In other words, we treat the second day as if it might be the correct day and thus the first day was incorrect and the Shehecheyanu of the first night was of no value. Therefore, it needs to be said on the second night. Rosh Hashana is somewhat different in that it was instituted more based on having two days of Yom Tov out of certainty (a concept often called yoma arichta = a long day). This certainty affects a few areas of halacha, not allowing us to employ leniencies that flow from viewing the second day as based only on doubt (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 600:1; ibid. 527:22). Some Rishonim suggest that due to yoma arichta, Shehecheyanu should not be said on the second day of Rosh Hashana since it was already properly, even in hindsight, recited on the first day. However, the more accepted opinion is that the second day was instituted with all elements of the first day. This apparently means that yoma arichta only strengthens the day’s practices and does not remove matters such as Shehecheyanu (see Tur, OC 600; Hapardes, Sha’ar Hama’aseh).
The Rosh (Rosh Hashana 4:14) recommended having a new fruit on hand to hedge our bets, so that even according to the opinion that Shehecheyanu is not called for due to the second day of Rosh Hashana, it is not l’vatala due to the fruit. However, it is not an absolute requirement, as both Ashkenazim and Sephardim rule that if one does not have a new fruit, he recites Shehecheyanu anyway (Shulchan Aruch, OC 600:2).
Regarding shofar, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, somewhat mysteriously, go in opposite directions. Ashkenazim follow the Rama (OC, 600:3) that regarding shofar Shehecheyanu is recited without the need for a new fruit (see Darchei Moshe, OC 600:2). Rishonim say that it is easier to recite it by shofar than at Kiddush (see Hagahot Maimoniot, Shofar 3:7), although the Mishna Berura does not understand why (see Sha’ar Hatziyun 600:5). The Minchat Shlomo (I:20) suggests that it is because regarding shofar there is a break in the yoma arichta, as at night the mitzva of shofar does not apply. Still, though, the Magen Avraham (600:3) and other important poskim recommend (as opposed to requiring when possible, as for Kiddush) for the ba’al tokeiah to wear a new article of clothing requiring Shehecheyanu and having that as his secondary intention while reciting Shehecheyanu on the shofar. Thus, it is not unanimous that there is a big difference for Ashkenazim in this regard between Kiddush and shofar. We agree that the more prevalent minhag is to not bother with the new clothing idea.
Sephardim follow the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 3), that one does not recite Shehecheyanu for shofar on the second day, even though the Beit Yosef cites no reason other than minhag for shofar being less deserving of Shehecheyanu than Kiddush (see Aruch Hashulchan, OC 600:4). Interestingly, Sephardim do not suggest bringing new clothes or fruit to enable it (perhaps because it is less practical than at Kiddush). While Teshuvot V’hanhagot (I:347) says that a Sephardi ba’al tokeiah should recite Shehecheyanu if blowing in an Ashkenazi shul, we expect him to follow Rav Ovadia’s ruling that he should not (Yabia Omer I, OC 29). (An Ashkenazi in the crowd can do so.)There is another comparison to pursue. On the second day of Yom Tov of Sukkot in chutz la’aretz, Shehecheyanu is not recited before taking the lulav. The distinction likely has to do with the possibility that Shehecheyanu of second night Kiddush covers it (Pri Megadim, EA 662:1) or the idea that Shehecheyanu can be said on lulav before Sukkot (Mishna Berura 662:2), so that the first day recitation sufficed.
When to Cut the Challa?Does one fulfill lechem mishneh if the bread is cut, or the matza is broken, prior to the completion of the beracha?
The basic question you ask is the subject of a machloket in the gemara (Berachot 39a) in regard to the preference of making a beracha on a full loaf of bread throughout the week. According to Rabbi Chiya, one does betziat hapat (the breaking of the bread, which, itself, has halachot) as he is making the beracha. Rava argues that the important thing is that at the conclusion of the beracha the bread is still whole, and therefore one should not cut off a piece until after the beracha is complete. The gemara (ibid. 39b) concludes that we accept Rava’s opinion (see also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 167:1).
As mentioned, the above is referring to weekdays, where the stakes are low, as one is not required to use a full loaf. On Shabbat, when one requires lechem mishneh, it is all the more important that the challot remain intact throughout the beracha. The Rama (OC 167:1) makes a practical distinction based on the heightened level of importance of wholeness on Shabbat. The Rosh (Berachot 6:19) says that although the separating off of the part of the bread to be eaten is done after the beracha, one should make a significant although partial cut of the loaf before the beracha. The reason is to minimize the delay between the end of the beracha and the eating of the bread. (See Bach, OC 167, who explains that it is not a halachically forbidden delay, but l’chatchila it should be minimized to the extent possible.) The Rama says that this preferable cutting is justified during the week when the wholeness of the loaf is only preferable, but on Shabbat, when it is crucial, one should not cut it at all. (If one did cut it, but only mildly, so that if one lifted the loaf by the smaller part, the weight of the larger part would not make it break into two, it is fine b’di’eved – see Rosh ibid. and Darchei Moshe, OC 167:2).
Poskim (Magen Avraham 274:1; Mishna Berura 274:5) recommend the following compromise, which most people follow, although to different degrees. One scratches a line on the challa at the place where he is going to want to cut, thereby saving time for that purpose. Many people do more than scratch but make a small cut, just not a significant one, due the concern the Rama addressed. (That seems to make more practical sense than scratching, because to have to position the knife exactly at the place of the scratch takes more time than to start cutting from the outset. In any case, any minhag along these lines is fine.)
Due to the above, using matza for the second “loaf” of lechem mishneh can cause challenges. (We are not even getting into the fact that using matza is a problem in regard to Sephardim (and, thus, when one has Sephardi guests), as matza is not bread for them, and its beracha is actually Mezonot.) One has to actually hold both loaves during the beracha (Berachot 39b; Shulchan Aruch, OC 274:1), and in the daytime the loaf which one is cutting should be on the top (ibid.). It requires some care to hold a nice-sized challa on top of a matza without the matza breaking. (Preferably no part of the lechem mishneh should break (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 55:8), although we generally assume that if the piece that broke off is less than 2% of the “loaf,” it is not a problem (see ibid. (24)).Despite the above, those Ashkenazim who want to use matza have every right to do so, just that they would be wise to be careful in handling it. Even at seuda shlishit, one should be careful to keep the loaves intact until after the beracha, as the poskim say that one should have lechem mishneh then, as well (Shulchan Aruch and Rama, OC 291:4). However, the stakes are much lower at seuda shlishit because of the following. There are opinions, cited in the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 5), that bread is not needed at all. Even if bread is required, the Rama (ibid.) rules that it is acceptable, although not preferable, to have one whole loaf at seuda shlishit.
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