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Parashat Zachor with Different PronunciationsMy shul has always read Parashat Zachor once, with our regular havara (pronunciation). Some people now complain that we do not follow other shuls and read multiple times with different havarot to fulfill the mitzva according to more opinions and to do the mitzva properly for Sephardim. Should we change our minhag?
Let us start with those Ashkenazim who want to fulfill the mitzva according to as many havarot as possible. Is there some logic to do this for Zachor and not for any other lainings and mitzvot? Among lainings, this is the (almost?) only one with a Torah-level obligation, which may warrant more strictness (see Yabia Omer, VI, Orach Chayim 11).
It may be different from the common Torah-level mitzvot involving speech. Most of them may be recited in any language, including Birkat Hamazon, Kri’at Shema, and tefilla (Sota 32a). Reciting a text in lashon hakodesh (halachically recognized Hebrew) with a different, recognized pronunciation is no worse than doing so in a different language (Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:154). In contrast, there seems to be an open question whether kri’at haTorah (see Berachot 13a), and especially Parashat Zachor (see Tosafot ad loc.), may be done in any language or only in lashon hakodesh. Thus, perhaps we have to be more careful about pronunciation in Parashat Zachor than Kri’at Shema for example.
However, besides the possibility that Parashat Zachor does not require lashon hakodesh at all, there are other reasons for leniency. The Magen Avraham (685, accepted by some) , says that one fulfills the mitzva of Zachor by reading the story of Amalek’s treachery from Parashat Beshalach. If no exact text is required to fulfill the mitzva, it is likely that the mitzva does not need to be performed in an exact manner but in one that gets the idea across.
Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC III,5) brings a strong proof that there is fundamental flexibility regarding havarot for mitzvot. The recitations that are part of chalitza must be recited in lashon hakodesh (Sota 32a). If the “wrong” havara is not a valid recitation, then if a woman did chalitza, with, for example, a Polish pronunciation, then a man from another eida would not be allowed to marry her. We should then be required to train women to do chalitza in many havarot to secure her future. Since this idea is not found in the poskim or practiced, we must count all havarot as lashon hakodesh.
The logic is that if this is the way people pronounce the words, it is considered a legitimate expression of the language. It is similar to the halacha (Megilla 24b) that one may not appoint a chazan who does not distinguish between the letters aleph and ayin (like almost all Ashkenazim), but it is permitted for the whole community to pronounce it that way (Mishna Berura 53:37). The approach that one is yotzei with a havara unlike one’s own is accepted by the great majority of poskim (see Yechaveh Da’at VI:19: Igrot Moshe ibid.; Moadim U’zmanim VI:97; Halichot Shlomo, Moadim I, 18:1; Yashiv Moshe [in the name of Rav Elyashiv] p. 11).Actually, many of these poskim recommend, as a chumra, to try to hear Parashat Zachor in one’s own havara. What they suggest, though, is to go to a shul of one’s eida, to make a separate Sephardi minyan in an Ashkenazi yeshiva for Zachor, and to make sure the ba’al korei conforms to the shul’s minhag. We do not find in writing a major posek suggesting doing multiple readings in the same minyan. Several (Teshuvot V’hanhagot ibid.; Halichot Shlomo ibid.; Aseh Lecha Rav VI:22) mention hearing of such a new practice and consider it strange. They reject it as being disrespectful to the tzibbur, to the rest of our lainings, and/or to past generations who did not do such things. I would not criticize a minyan that decides to do so anyway (some fine places do), and there are circumstances in which there is a stronger argument (e.g., there is no minyan in the area of other eidot), but it is wrong to criticize the normal minhag for not adopting this innovation.
Drinking during DaveningI showed my surprise to a serious young man who was drinking coffee during Shacharit. He said it helps him daven and is permitted. Can that be correct?
We are not discussing one with special physical/medical needs.
It is forbidden to eat before davening Shacharit (Berachot 10b), as derived (although it is probably Rabbinic) from “Do not eat on the blood” (Vayikra 19:26) – i.e., before you have prayed for your blood (=life). It is considered haughty to indulge in food before addressing Hashem, and therefore drinking water, which is not indulging, is permitted (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 89:3). Many Acharonim permit drinking coffee and tea, specifically when one needs it to concentrate on davening; adding flavor enhancers is questionable (see Mishna Berura 89:22).
Tefilla is supposed to be done with reverence and awe. Many halachot govern how one’s body, clothes, and surroundings must be at that time (see Shulchan Aruch, OC simanim 97-99). The height of tefilla is considered “standing before the shechina” (Rambam, Tefilla 4:16). Eating and drinking when in close contact with Hashem is considered a big chutzpa (see Shemot 24:11). Since this is antithetical to tefilla and a beit knesset is set aside for tefilla, it is forbidden to eat there (Shulchan Aruch, OC 151:1). The incongruity between eating and davening is behind the halacha of not eating even before davening. It seems obvious that eating in the midst of davening is worse than eating before. Therefore, even if one davens in a place where he may eat, e.g., at home, in a beit midrash (Rama ad loc.) or he follows the lenient minhag (see Be’ur Halacha ad loc.), he should not drink during davening.
One can deflect these conclusions. If drinking coffee is permitted before davening, then it is not halachic eating, and who says the halacha is stricter during davening than before? (The counter-argument is that it is only permitted before due to need, and if one can drink before davening, why let him drink during it?) Also, assuming it is forbidden during Shemoneh Esrei, who says P’sukei D’zimra’s lesser level of “meeting Hashem,” as a preparatory/introductory stage, carries the same weight (Rama, OC 89:3 may equate them)? Indeed, many of the halachot of tefilla refer only to Shemoneh Esrei (see Mishna Berura 97:3).
What do the sources say? There are many sources on drinking before davening; I did not find classical sources on this question. Why would there not be much discussion of the matter? It is either because: A) It is obvious that it shares the same halacha as eating before davening; B) It is obviously permitted; C) It is obviously forbidden; or D) Few people were interested in doing such a thing, for sociological or convenience reasons. Intuitively, I find A and B implausible. C seems logical (Chevel Nachalato 17:3 cites Rav Y. Ariel as saying it is forbidden). D is a possibility. It is very possible to combine C and D. Perhaps there is not a full-fledged issur, but sensitivity to shul and tefilla made it taboo. I spoke to many (Ashkenazi) decades-long shul attenders, none of whom can recall until recently healthy people drinking during P’sukei D’zimra and later. Those who need coffee, drink before davening. Then they enter shul, put on tefillin, and DAVEN ONLY. That is a very appropriate minhag even IF arguably not fully required. There are signs that some in the new generation view things differently. While they can be wonderful Jews and daveners, they would be pulling things in the wrong direction, according to several rabbanim (and non-rabbanim) I have discussed the topic with. Drinking while davening degrades the atmosphere of the shul in our eyes.In some Sephardic communities, it has been more common for at least decades to continue, during P’sukei D’zimra, drinking coffee begun earlier. The Yalkut Yosef (OC 51:3), while preferring to avoid on the grounds of possible hefsek (even if the beracha was done before), does not mention fundamental grounds. I pray that the Ashkenazi minhag of full opposition will survive.
Kaddish after An’im ZemirotIn my shul, at the end of An’im Zemirot, the chazan (child) does not say “Lecha Hashem hagedula …” I understand that it is not permitted to say Kaddish after a shir (song of praise) without p’sukim. Can you provide me with sources to prove this?
To start with, we at Eretz Hemdah basically agree with you. We wrote a teshuva (Bemareh Habazak VII:2) about whether it is proper to say a Kaddish at all after An’im Zemirot in a place where the minhag was not to but an avel wanted them to change the minhag, which he claimed was wrong. In footnote 4, we accepted the thesis to which you subscribe, that it is the p’sukim added (they were not in the original) to the end of the piyut that justify the saying of Kaddish.
In general, it is problematic to recite an unauthorized Kaddish. The Mishna Berura (55:1) compares saying too many Kaddishes to reciting too many berachot. However, we do not generally find in poskim discussing doubts about Kaddish indications of the same severity of an unnecessary Kaddish as we do regarding a questionable beracha.
Therefore, while we generally agree with you, we are hesitant to state as a simple fact that your shul’s (and we understand others as well) minhag is wrong. Therefore, we will see if we can be melamed z’chut on those who skip the p’sukim and recite the Kaddish.
We found a teshuva by Chief Rabbi David Lau in which he questions the thesis that the p’sukim recited at the end are there to justify the Kaddish. He points to the standard sources (see Mishna Berura 55:2) that state that for p’sukim to justify Kaddish there must be three p’sukim and that, after An’im Zemirot, only two p’sukim are recited. One can add to the apparent incongruence according to the Sha’arei Ephrayim (10:44 in a footnote) that the p’sukim need to be continuous (the ones after An’im Zemirot are from Divrei Hayamim and Tehillim, respectively). Therefore, Rav Lau posits that the reason for the Kaddish is that a major part of An’im Zemirot is based on adapted or reworded p’sukim.
One can claim there is a precedent for saying Kaddish after a shir without added p’sukim in Aleinu. Siddurim cite p’sukim there as well, yet the very broad minhag is to ignore them and recite Kaddish anyway, and perhaps a shir of this type is deserving of Kaddish in and of itself.
However, one can argue with these attempts to break the linkage between p’sukim recited after a shir and Kaddish. First, there are opinions that two p’sukim is enough (Beit David (Saloniki) 30); Bemareh Habazak ibid.; see Ishei Yisrael 15:(98)). The claim that the p’sukim must be consecutive is apparently not accepted. Regarding Aleinu, the Mishna Berura (132:10) points out that it has p’sukim mixed into it (three, albeit from different places in Tanach and interspersed in Aleinu). Therefore, it seems very likely that the p’sukim at the end of An’im Zemirot were intended to justify the Kaddish.
There is another factor which can work (at least if orchestrated well), even according to your assumption, in shuls that do not jointly recite “Lecha Hashem … .” What if, as is likely, some people in the shul do say the p’sukim even if the chazan does not? We have written about whether Kaddish can be recited after Pitum Haketoret when there are not ten people who recite it. The basic sources seem to indicate that six reciters justify Kaddish, even if the chazan did not recite the critical sections (see parallel case in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 69:1). While even one suffices when the Kaddish is classically required (see ibid.; Pri Megadim, OC, MZ 55:3), there is a machloket (see Magen Avraham 54:9; Aruch Hashulchan 55:9) whether a minority of a minyan suffices when the Kaddish is optional (as the one after An’im Zemirot is). So perhaps someone like you and another one or two who still recite the p’sukim before Kaddish suffice to justify the Kaddish.
So while the sources indicate that it is proper for shuls to recite the p’sukim after An’im Zemirot, shuls that do not make a point of reciting them also have whom and what to rely upon.
Speaking to The DeceasedIs there a proof from the gemara in Berachot 18b-19a that when people speak to the deceased in the cemetery, he hears and understands?
We will peruse some sources in Chazal and later authorities and try to arrive at a balanced approach.
It is a basic Jewish belief (see Rambam’s principles of faith) that a person’s soul exists after death. While basically static, receiving reward and punishment (see Ramban’s Sha’ar Hagemul), the soul is impacted by the actions of relatives and those doing good things to elevate their souls.
There are old Kabbalistic and other sources that visiting a loved one’s grave brings the deceased some sort of positive feeling (see Gesher Hachayim I, 29:1). Various texts (hashkava, certain pirkei Tehillim) are recommended; we have not found sources that talking to the deceased increases his nachat. There is an old minhag, followed by some and not others (we respect both groups) of placing a written invitation and/or orally notifying a deceased of an upcoming marriage of a close relative. This is a form of communication, but it is not a pillar of faith to believe or not believe that this makes the deceased happy or more likely to “attend” the wedding.
There is a halacha (Yoma 87a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 606:2) that seems to include “communication” with a deceased. If one (seriously) insulted someone who subsequently died, he should take ten people to the grave to beg forgiveness. One might claim that this proves that the deceased is aware of the request. However, the recommended language is: “I have sinned to Hashem, and to Ploni, whom I damaged.” It is unclear whether the deceased or Hashem is the one/One who needs to listen, or whether just making an admission in the deceased’s “presence” is the important thing.
The sugya to which you refer contains ostensibly instructive elements. The gemara contemplates whether the dead are aware of what is happening in the world and tries to prove it from stories in which live people found out information from the deceased during interactions with them. (The Beit Yosef, YD 179 deals with what separates these cases from forbidden practices of attempted communication with the dead, a topic we are not broaching here). This gemara, though, is not a proof that one can talk effectively to the deceased. Some commentaries (see Maharasha) understand that the living did not communicate but received information in dreams. Also, “sprinkled” through Rabbinic writings are stories of supernatural events, dealt with differently by various commentaries. In any case, we know not to treat something that happened once as something that happens all the time, so we cannot learn from such gemarot of what to expect in our experiences. To the extent that the deceased are able to understand those who visit, it does not necessarily mean that one needs to verbalize to get the message across (their ears do not work, and we are not experts as to the tools their souls use).A gemara (Sota 34a) tells (at least according to the literal reading) how Kalev spoke to the forefathers in Chevron and asked for their help. While some say one should only ask Hashem to help us in the merit of the tzaddikim (Mishna Berura 581:27) or use a burial place as a holy setting (Derashot Haran 8), others allow asking the deceased to beseech Hashem on behalf of those who visit and/or love them (see Gesher Hachayim I, 29:9; Pri Megadim, EA 581:16). Many good Jews have done so at kivrei tzaddikim and their relatives’ graves over the centuries. (One must be VERY CAREFUL NOT to daven TO the tzaddikim.) One who asks the deceased to pray need not believe that the deceased hear or how. One can “speak” to Avraham Avinu in English or to “Mama Rochel” in Yiddish. It is possible (we do not know) that contemplation and/or set tefillot have the same results. (When we enunciate during tefilla, it is not because we believe that Hashem needs that to “hear us.”) It is important that the experience be healthy for the visitor and respectful to Hashem, who decides everything.
Frozen Challa for Lechem MishnehMay we use a frozen challa for lechem mishneh on Shabbat?
We will start by removing the main suspense: the one-word answer is clearly, “Yes.” After seeing why, we will see why some prefer avoiding the situation and weigh certain factors and distinctions.
The gemara (Berachot 39b) says that on Shabbat, one needs to start the meals with two loaves of bread, based on the pasuk (Shemot 16:22) regarding the double portion of manna that fell in the desert. The gemara then says that Rav Kahana would hold two loaves [during the beracha] but only cut off bread from one of them. Rabbi Zeira, it continues, would cut into the “whole sheiruta.” Rashi (ad loc.) explains that this means that his first cut was enough challa for the whole meal. The Rashba (ad loc.) says that it means that R. Zeira would cut bread from each of the loaves.
It does not seem that the Rashba understood R. Zeira’s practice as being a halachic requisite, and in any case, the accepted opinion is that of Rashi, that the preference is to cut a big piece but of only one loaf (Rambam 7:3; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 274:1). Several Acharonim (see Yabia Omer, VIII, OC 32) understand that according to Rashi’s approach, only one loaf is there for eating, whereas the second one is just for a reminder of the miracle in the desert. Accordingly, the second one does not need to be fit to eat from a practical perspective.
There is a machloket whether we go as far as saying that it does not have to be ready to be eaten at all. For example, some say (see Tzitz Eliezer XIV:40) that one can even use matza for lechem mishneh on Erev Pesach even though one is not allowed to eat matza at that time. The Pri Megadim (MZ 274:2) suggests that even one who does not usually eat bread baked by a non-Jewish bakery could count it for the second loaf of lechem mishneh.
On the other hand, some poskim prefer not to use frozen challa for lechem mishneh. The Shevet Halevi (VI:31) opines that if there is an opinion that instructs to actually cut from both loaves then everyone agrees that it should at least to be fit to eat. The Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (55:(39)) cites Rav SZ Auerbach as saying that it is likely that it needs to be fit to eat at some type during the meal (the Shevet Halevi above seems to assume that the loaf would not be defrosted by meal’s end). Therefore, it seem that if one uses a pita or a roll, which will defrost within fifteen minutes or so, the consensus should be that it is totally fine.
One could ask that regarding a large loaf, as well, even if it takes more than an hour to defrost, the outer layer should defrost quicker, and the minimum size of a challa is only a k’zayit. The stringent leaning poskim probably assume that since people do not eat challa by peeling off the outside, the challa would have to be mainly defrosted (this distinction may be implicit in the Rambam, Shabbat 9:4).
Another distinction to consider is whether seuda shlishit is different from the other meals. In the direction of stringency, it is usually a shorter meal, therefore giving less time for defrosting, especially since for many it has a set finish time – before the standard time for Ma’ariv. It is even possible to argue that at that point of the day, if it does not count toward lechem mishneh, it is muktzeh. (The Tzitz Eliezer ibid. discusses this correlation, but says that it is fit for lechem mishneh and therefore not muktzeh; Mishneh Halachot XI:197 rejects the possibility of muktzeh). On the other hand, there is more room for leniency because it is unclear that lechem mishneh is needed at seuda shlishit (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 291:4-5).
In short, when there is a need, frozen lechem mishneh is valid, but there is some halachic logic to avoid it if it will not defrost during the meal. Yabia Omer (ibid.) said that it is preferable to borrow a challa from a neighbor and return it. Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (55:(43)) has a slight reservation whether it is considered fit for him to eat if he lacks permission to eat and not return it.
Definition of Davar Gushl have learned that a hot solid piece of food, such as a chunk of meat or a potato, has special halachot because it holds in the heat. How do we consider something like vegetable soup, which has both significant broth and solid pieces of vegetables?
The concept that you to refer, known as davar gush, has two major areas of impact. 1) When something is hot and is found in the utensil in which it was heated (kli rishon) it can cause transfer of taste from it to another food or utensil. This is less likely if it has been transferred to another utensil (kli sheni) (see opinions in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 105:2). If the hot food is a davar gush, then according to the Maharshal, cited in and accepted by the Shach (Yoreh Deah 105:8), we assume that it retains enough heat to be considered food in a kli rishon. The Rama (YD 94:7) disagrees. 2) Cooking on Shabbat takes place in a kli rishon, but not in a kli sheni (Shabbat 40b). But if the hot, kli sheni food is a davar gush, some say it is able to cook food put on top of it like a kli rishon does. The Mishna Berura (318:118) concludes that we treat the matter as a doubt. Some poskim (including Issur V’heter 36:7) posit that a davar gush is only able to transfer taste but not to cook. Your question can apply to either area of Halacha, which also makes it possible to look for sources from either
The K’tav Sofer (Chulin 104b) comments on the gemara’s search for a case in which one might come to cook meat and milk together at the table considering that one does not usually bring food in kli rishon utensils there. He wonders why the case is not when milk is in contact with a hot chunk of meat. He answers that if the meat is dry, there is no Torah prohibition of basar b’chalav with tzli (dry heat). If there is liquid, then the stringent status of davar gush would not apply for the following reason. Tosafot (Shabbat 40b) says that the reason kli sheni does not cook is that its cold walls lower the heat. Therefore, says the Issur V’heter (ibid.), since davar gush does not cling to the kli’s walls, it does not become a kli sheni. Therefore, says the K’tav Sofer (the Minchat Solet 23:7 agrees), the liquid in a pot with a davar gush would be impacted by the walls and then impact the food. Therefore, the K’tav Sofer would clearly treat the soup in question as a kli sheni.
On the other hand, the Yad Yehuda (105:14) argues that the somewhat hot broth keeps the davar gush hotter than if it is sitting alone in cool air. He therefore says that according to the Maharshal’s camp, a davar gush in liquid in a kli sheni halachically remains a davar gush. Ostensibly then he would treat your soup as a davar gush. However, we will illustrate, with the help of a well-known halacha that the general assumption is not this way.
There is a machloket whether it is permitted to put bread into hot soup on Shabbat, as it is possible that cooking significantly changes the previously baked bread (see Shulchan Aruch/Rama, Orach Chayim 318:5). The Mishna Berura (ad loc. 45) permits putting bread in soup that went into a ladle and then into a bowl (in which case it might be a kli shlishi – see Mishna Berura 318:87). This compromise ruling is cited and accepted by many poskim (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 1:59; Orchot Shabbat 1:42). The Mishna Berura (whose language is unclear) and those who adopt his ruling do not warn us that this is not permitted if there are vegetables in the soup out of concern that davar gush prevents the soup from being considered a kli shlishi.
This can be due to the K’tav Sofer. However, the consensus on this point may be due to the following thesis. The impact that a “complex” warm food has is measured by its “average qualitative heat” rather than the highest level of any of its components. In summary, a kli sheni has lower level heat than a kli rishon and while some say a davar gush is an exception, that exception is applied only when the davar gush interacts with another food by itself (Orchot Shabbat 1:142 leans in this direction).
Difficulty in Returning Stolen FundsYears ago, when I was working for a consulting firm, my bosses had me inflate hours we charged clients. (I received a set monthly salary). I now feel bad that I stole from my clients. I would want to return that money, but it is too hard to track down the clients and know how much to pay each. I understand that in such cases, one can donate money for public needs, so that those who are owed benefit. How do I do that, considering that many clients probably now live throughout the country and likely the world?
When one stole from a group of people but does not know how much from whom, if the victims also do not know, beit din cannot force the thief to pay more than he admits, but he does not fulfill his moral obligation until he removes all the doubt (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 365:2). Therefore, if one wants to do the right thing and can track people down, he should do so, even if it means paying more than he owes.
However, there is a different halacha to deal with cases where the range of possibilities is so broad that it is unfeasible to pay everyone who might possibly deserve it. The gemara (Bava Kama 94b) says that shepherds (who grazed in others’ fields) and tax collectors (who took more than they were entitled to) who cannot remember who they owe should use the money due for communal needs. An example is digging publicly accessible water holes. Others (see Pitchei Choshen, Geneiva 4:(50)) give the example of giving sefarim to the local beit midrash. While you have the problem that people may have moved away (and anyway may have never lived in the same community), technology now makes it possible to try to help people throughout the world simultaneously. Do realize, though, that even if you did this successfully (perhaps easier said than done) it is not considered full payment (S’ma 231:34), and if one were able to figure out later who he owes, he would have to pay them (see Pitchei Choshen ibid.).
However, the above does not apply to you. On a certain level you were an accomplice to the deceit of your clients (and you may have lied to them), and this warrants teshuva. However, the decision to deceive your clients was made by your bosses, you did not (we assume) physically take money from them, and the money did not go to you (but likely the firm’s bank account). So even though there is a concept of ein shaliach lid’var aveira – according to which if one’s boss tells him to steal, the worker alone is responsible (Bava Kama 79a), that is in a case where the subordinate actually takes the money from the victim and it is initially in his possession. At this point, it does not seem practical to “open a can of worms” by taking on your former firm and trying to make them research and return whatever money they can (We do not volunteer to attempt this mitzva of rebuke and hashavat aveida). There is even a concept that when someone has stolen a lot and now wants to do teshuva, his victims should not accept the return of what he owes them, for this would discourage him from doing teshuva (Bava Kama 94b).
In regards to you, we are not experts in the perfect steps to take to rectify and receive atonement for each aveira in each circumstance. Certainly, the basics are admitting one’s misstep, regretting it, and not returning to it (Rambam, Teshuva 2:2), and it seems that you have done these. From the time it was decreed on Adam to need to work hard to earn a living, a major part of that involves not allowing one’s job to cause him to sin, whether it be in regard to Shabbat and chagim, relationships with co-workers, or in matters of business ethics (stemming from his bosses’ inclinations or his own). Certain fields lend themselves to bigger challenges in one or more areas. May you and others be zocheh to have not only a sufficiently profitable job but also “a clean and easy” job (see Kiddushin 82a) from the moral perspective. The best ways to increase the likelihood include: tefilla, good training, setting priorities, and being willing to quit if the situation warrants it.
Using Tzedaka Funds for Grandchildren’s EducationCan one use ma’aser money to pay for their grandchildren’s education? Is there a distinction between grandsons and granddaughters or Judaic studies and general studies? If it is permitted, may I putting money in a 529 fund (which earmarks savings for education, primarily post-secondary in return for tax breaks for the donor in the US)?
There are two major channels for use of ma’aser funds. The classic one is to help provide essentials for the poor (Ahavat Chesed II:19). Another is to enable the fulfillment of mitzvot. There appears to be a machloket if ma’aser money can be used for mitzvot (see Rama, Yoreh Deah 249:1; Shach ad loc. 3). In practice, only if the donor is not required to finance the mitzva is he allowed to use ma’aser funds (see Beitza 19b).
It is a complicated question whether the parents are able to count their children’s tuition toward ma’aser since it is their obligation to educate their children (see Igrot Moshe, YD II 113). Regarding Torah education, it is likely permitted after bar mitzva (Tzedaka U’mishpat 6:14). Without getting into a discussion about what the Torah considers the ideal secular education, schooling is generally included in the positive matter of teaching a child a profession, and the obligation is on the father alone (see Kiddushin 29a). It is unclear to what extent this would be considered like a classic mitzva, like teaching Torah, which would justify one using his ma’aser money on it. However, if due to lack of funds, the child would be forced to go to public school unless someone pays his day school tuition, then the secular tuition, of boys or girls, can be taken from tzedaka funds, whether from the community or from grandparents’ ma’aser, as this is a critical mitzva. This could apply to a college education in the framework of a makom Torah as well.
Grandfathers have a mitzva to teach Torah to their son’s sons (see Rambam, Talmud Torah 1:2). It is unclear whether this includes paying for yeshiva (see Kesef Mishneh, Talmud Torah 1:2; Igrot Moshe YD II, 110), but the Shach (YD 245:1) and Shulchan Aruch Harav (Talmud Torah 1:8) assume that he is obligated. Thus, a son’s son’s Torah education before bar mitzva might not be able to be taken from ma’aser.
The way to justify using ma’aser funds for a grandchild’s college education is to focus on his parents’ needs. If from one’s child’s perspective, he needs to provide a college education that he cannot afford, then that middle generation could be considered poor for such matters (poor is whoever cannot afford that which is subjectively considered a necessity in his healthy milieu – Ketubot 67b). The needs of a close relative are a tzedaka precedence compared to people with less connection (Shulchan Aruch, YD 251:3). While it is possible that one who can afford to support his poor parents cannot use ma’aser for that purpose (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, YD 240:5), one may give ma’aser money to a son who should normally be financially independent (Tzedaka U’mishpat 6:4).
Now we present crucial questions you need to answer yourself. Is your child unable to afford his children’s education? To what extent is the planned education a necessity (e.g., they want their son to go an expensive university, which might not improve his future significantly compared to a cheaper alternative)? Setting up a 529 fund might complicate the answers to these questions, as one may not know when putting the money aside what the situation will be when it will be time to use it (it is difficult to reassign the funds later).Let us hint in closing that many people who give ma’aser are already acting beyond their basic obligation, by not using legitimate leniencies to greatly lower their ma’aser obligations. They, therefore, have a right to rule leniently on ma’aser questions. On the other hand, the more one is noble and generous about giving tzedaka (within limits) the greater his merit and blessing (see Taanit 9a), which all who can afford it deserve.
Where Should the Tzitzit Be Connected to the Tallit?I have learned that the tzitzit should be laying on the outside of the tallit, but I do not see that people are careful about it. How important is it for it to be done properly?
The gemara (Menachot 42a) cites Rav Giddel who learns from the pasuk’s words of “on the corners of their garments” that the tzitzit need to be resting (likely translation) on the corner of the garment, (as opposed to hanging down over only the ground – see illustration).
This looks like a Torah law, which would ostensibly make it crucial. However, you are right that people are not careful about it, and this phenomenon is reported (without alarm) already by the Sha’arei Teshuva (Orach Chayim 11:26). This laxness could be horrible, but it could also be telling. Let us search for further indications.
There are other indications that not being careful about this does not ruin the mitzva. The Darchei Moshe (OC 8:3) introduces the minhag not to make a beracha on a tallit katan (i.e., tzitzit) out of concern that it might be too small, but to make it on a tallit. If hanging from the incorrect side disqualifies, it might be more of a problem for a tallit (see below). Also, we are instructed to check that the strings of the tzitzit have not ripped before putting them on, so as not to make a beracha l’vatala (Shulchan Aruch, OC 8:9), whereas our issue, which is much more common, is not mentioned.
There are actually different explanations as to the gemara’s (ibid.) intention. Rabbeinu Gershom (ad loc.) and others explain it, that the knot should not be attached to the garment too close to the corner but further up and in. Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 11:15) introduces the halacha as you described it with “there are those who say…,” although he does pasken that way, as he does not cite dissenters. The Sha’arei Teshuva (ibid.) suggests that people are not careful about this because some of the Rishonim who raised the issue were not resolute about it.
Actually, the Levush (OC 11:15), Magen Avraham (11:24), and Mishna Berura (11:72) posit that even those who understand the gemara to be referring to our case, posit that it does not disqualify the tzitzit. The Tehilla L’David (OC 11:11) argues that the issue is only at the time that one ties the tzitzit to the garment. The Levush and Magen Avraham say that the bigger issue is to avoid having the knot attached right on the garment’s vertex because it looks like he is trying to have on “eight corners” or because this was the Karaites system.
For rectangular tzitzit, the place to put the knot is on the long side. On the square tallit, the matter is more complicated. While the back side hangs similarly to the strings of tzitzit, the front part is draped over the shoulder and chest, and initially wrapped over one’s head. It is likely, then, that it usually ends up resting on the corner when it is put on the side that is horizontal before putting it on. Assuming, as we do, that the issue has to do with the time of wearing, this is where most poskim recommend to have it (see Bi’ur Halacha to 11:15). Thus, it turns out that the proper position can actually change during a given wearing based on how the garment is positioned. Perhaps this is a reason that the poskim assumed that this could not be a problem that disqualifies the mitzva.
A Late TachanunThe chazan skipped Tachanun, and everyone assumed there was a chatan or a brit. After davening, the chazan said he just forgot Tachanun. People disagreed about whether we could/should say Tachanun at that point. What is the halacha?
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 131:1) says that one must not speak between Shemoneh Esrei and Tachanun, based on “students of the Rashba’s” (see Beit Yosef, OC 131) comment on the following gemara (Bava Metzia 59b). After Rabbi Eliezer’s major dispute with his brother-in-law, Rabban Gamliel, the former’s wife was afraid that the intensity of his Tachanun could cause harm to her brother, so she always interrupted him when it was time for Tachanun. The Rashba reasons that she could not have prevented him from saying Tachanun all day, but just made him stop and/or speak at the right time, to lower its efficacy. This taught the Shulchan Aruch and others of the danger of interruptions at that time.
What does the above teach us about the required level of connection between Shemoneh Esrei and Tachanun? The conviction that a break makes Tachanun less effective does not necessarily mean that Tachanun need not or should not be said after such a break or that it lacks value. The Rashba/Shulchan Aruch’s understanding of the story of Rabbi Eliezer strongly implies that R. Eliezer recited Tachanun after the break. The Rivash (412) claimed that his wife bothered him until he forgot to say it, also implying he would have said it later. Thus, at this point, we would say: “Better late than never.”
The Taz (OC 131:10, which seems to contradict Taz, Yoreh Deah 376:2) complicates the matter. He discusses whether non-mourners who daven at an avel’s house, where Tachanun is omitted because the presence of “strict judgment” makes it not worthwhile to recite Tachanun there, should make it up when they get home. He says not to do so based on the halacha that Tachanun should come without an interruption after Shemoneh Esrei. It is unclear if that means it is not required or wrong (there are kabbalistic sources for such a possibility – see Shulchan Hatahor 131:16), unnecessary, or somewhere in between. This seemingly indicates that you would not say Tachanun, in your case, at the end of tefilla. (Change of place does not seem to be the issue – see Magen Avraham 131:1).
However, the Taz’s claim is surprising, considering the indications from the gemara and the p’sak (Mishna Berura 131:2) that b’di’eved, if one made a break, he says Tachanun anyway. How could the gemara’s case be a model for a ruling not to say Tachanun at all? The L’horot Natan (VI:7) raises the possibility that continuing tefilla is worse than talking, and in the Taz’s case (and ours), it could be too late for Tachanun, not just of reduced value. However, he posits that this is not so and that the Taz would agree in our case to say Tachanun. Here, at the time of Tachanun, there was an obligation to recite it, which was pushed off on technical grounds (the chazan’s mistake). The Taz spoke only about a case that at the correct time, there was no obligation (albeit based on the circumstances). What he says is that it is not created later at an unnatural time (which, in turn, we learn from the halacha that it is important not to break).
The Derech Hachayim (42:(7)) implies that the Taz would not say Tachanun after any break. However, the Derech Hachayim (42:1) and Eliya Rabba (OC 131:1), who are accepted by the Mishna Berura (131:2), reject this view. Rav SZ Auerbach is also cited (Halichot Shlomo 11:2) as instructing to say Tachanun if it was accidentally skipped, even after laining, and presumably also after davening.
Some contemporary poskim (Ishei Yisrael 26:(1); Dirshu 131:3) cite an account about the Chazon Ish and a very cryptic reaction of Rav Chaim Kaniefsky which may indicate to not say Tachanun once Chatzi Kaddish was said. While the stakes are low (see Rivash ibid.) in both directions, we recommend saying Tachanun if it was skipped by mistake, as this approach has a stronger basis in the sources/logic.
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