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Removing Dirt from a Sefer Torah on ShabbatDuring laining on Shabbat, I noticed dirt of some sort that distorted a letter of the sefer Torah. I pushed it with my tallit, and it readily came off. Did I violate Shabbat?
The classic case of the melacha of mochek (erasing) is to erase letters or a form in order to afterward write two letters in its place (Shabbat 73a). The tosefta (Shabbat 11:11) says that removing ink or wax that fell on paper in a way that enables writing two letters is a full violation of Shabbat. The Rosh (Shabbat 7:9) learns from this that mochek is not necessarily erasing letters/forms, but any substance in a way that enables writing. The Bach (Orach Chayim 340) extends it beyond enabling new writing to erasing substances that cover letters, where the erasure makes them visible again (Rabbinically, even one letter).
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 340:3) codifies the tosefta’s ruling, and important commentaries (including Taz 1; Mishna Berura 11; Aruch Hashulchan 22) accept the Bach. On the other hand, there are significant opinions (Shvut Yaakov II:4, discussed in Bi’ur Halacha to 340:3; see more opinions in Piskei Teshuvot 340:(82)) that this is not erasing (some suggest other problems) but it is similar to removing a cover from letters sitting in a box.
A halacha regarding tefillin seems to support the Shvut Yaakov. The letters of tefillin must be written in order, so a mistake cannot be simply fixed later once one has gone on to subsequent letters (Shulchan Aruch, OC 32:22). However, if wax fell onto properly written tefillin, when the wax is removed, the writing is kosher, as the wax did not undo the covered letter (Mishna 32:61). The Bi’ur Halacha (ibid.) deflects the proof, claiming that while the letter still exists regarding tefillin, regarding Shabbat, we are interested in the practical point of whether it is visible, so that if it is not, removing is equivalent to erasing in a way that facilitates writing (here, the already existing writing).
(In a case in which it is forbidden to remove the covering, it is a good question what one does about reading done from such a sefer Torah. The Mishna Berura (340:10) and others (see Dirshu 340:10) discuss the matter (with a few permutations), but it is beyond our scope.)
Despite the above, we presume that what you did was fine. The Orchot Shabbat (15:(72)) says that if the covering consisted of some sort of food or dirt that does not cling tightly to the parchment/writing, the way that wax does, it is permitted to remove it. The Mishna Berura (340:13) seems to disagree with this distinction, as he writes that if ink or another liquid falls on top of a letter, one may not rinse it off. However, the Orchot Shabbat argues that this is referring only to writing substances or those that adhere tightly. Chut Shani (Karelitz, Shabbat 21:(1)) distinguishes between that which is already stuck on and that which will stick only if left alone. However, it seems that he too requires somewhat tight adhesion. According to this approach, all agree with the Shvut Yaakov’s principle, that something can be considered an external covering, and the question is regarding the degree. Your description makes it seem that you did not reach the level of problematic.
One can ask on the thesis that serious adhesion is needed concerning mochek. We rule that sprinkles or frosting that spell out letters, etc., on cake may not be cut because of mochek (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 11:7), despite their low level of adhesion to the cake. However, that misses the point. It is not that there is no mochek when the writing and its base are not tightly connected. Rather, it is that in order for an already existing letter that is covered to be considered temporarily non-existent, that which neutralized it must be strongly connected.
While other questions, especially muktzeh, are not trivial (see Shvut Yaakov ibid.), it is permitted to remove dirt from a surface (when not considered laundering), with the help of something or even by hand (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 15:27; Orchot Shabbat 19:205).
Correcting a Ba’al KoreiWhat are the rules about correcting a ba’al korei?
The Tur (Orach Chayim 142) seems to present a polar machloket on the matter. The Rambam (Tefilla 12:6) rules that if one made a mistake even on a single “dikduk” of a letter, we make him go back. Hamanhig (p. 160) prefers not correcting to embarrassing the ba’al korei. This is based on the midrash (cited by Tosafot, Avoda Zara 22b) that even if one reads the name “Aharon” as “Haron,” it is acceptable. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 142:1) paskens like the Rambam.
The Rama (ad loc., based on Terumat Hadeshen II:181) calls for corrections only when a mistake changes how the “matter” is understood. His contrasting cases are mistakes in ta’amei hamikra (trop) and nikud (vowels). The Mishna Berura (ad loc. 4) says that the real distinction is whether the meaning is changed, just that letters usually change the meaning (Aharon-Haron being an exception), and nikud/trop usually do not.
There may be indications that a mistake in a letter always warrants correction, whereas regarding nikud and te’amim changing meaning is the determinant (see B’er Moshe I:4). After all, the Rambam (ibid.) mentions letters, and the Yerushalmi’s (Megilla 4:5) example of needing correction is between “im” and “v’im” (vav as a prefix is translated as “and” but often does not change the meaning at all (Shemot 21:9 is one of many cases)). The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 142:1) gives, as an example of changing words, “keves” and “kesev” – the same letters, inverted, both meaning a sheep. Perhaps, then, the Rama is only lenient by non-impactful mistakes not involving letters. In short, it is unclear how much of a machloket there is between Rambam/Shulchan Aruch and Terumat Hadeshen/Rama.
There is much complexity regarding being yotzei b’dieved with a mistake that changes the meaning. The Terumat Hadeshen thought it likely (not definite) that according to the Rambam, a mistake disqualifies the mitzva, whereas Hamanhig says one is yotzei. Others (see Beit Yosef, OC 142) reason that Hamanhig’s b’dieved acceptance, based on the Aharon-Haron precedent, applies when the meaning is unchanged (Shut Beit Yaakov 76 posits that Haron is a different name than Aharon). There are different levels of l’chatchila and b’dieved (in order): 1. The ba’al korei should prepare for an exact reading (see Rama ibid.); 2. We correct right away, but not if the ba’al korei has “moved on.” 3. The aliya has ended with its beracha (see Eshel Avraham (Butchach) 142:1). 4. The sefer Torah has been put away. There might be a difference between Shabbat, with its specific text quota (see Berachot 8a), and weekday laining, if without the pasuk of the mistake, there are three p’sukim in the aliya and ten p’sukim overall (Bi’ur Halacha 142:1).
Now we will over-generalize regarding guidance. A small percentage of trop mistakes change the meaning. The minhag is not to correct mistakes between letters with a dagesh and those without (even if we pronounce vet like vav and, in classic Ashkenazis, tov is pronounced like tet, and sof like samech/sin). The shva na / shva nach distinction rarely changes the meaning, all the more so where people unfortunately do not distinguish with regularity (see Mishna Berura 128:120). Putting stress on the wrong syllable does not usually change the meaning, but one needs to know dikduk well to know when it does. Trop usually does not change the meaning, but again only an expert will have a good feel for when it does.
The above is less than the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, it is big beracha to have ba’alei k’riya who make few mistakes. Because it is important to avoid both under-correcting and over-correcting, it is crucial to have “correctors” who are excellent in Halacha and dikduk, and at appraising the ba’al korei’s sensitivity. (I also announce that my friend and colleague, Rabbi Menachem Jacobowitz, and I have embarked, b’ezrat Hashem, on writing a sefer that explores the halachot and dikduk behind these matters and provides recommendations for dozens of common mistakes per parasha.)
Me’ein Sheva at a Rotating VenueThe fledgling community of which I am rabbi does not have access for Kabbalat Shabbat to the place we daven on Shabbat morning, so we have a rotation of houses for it. Should we say Me’ein Sheva (the beracha with “Magen avot…” in its midst) at Maariv?
Me’ein Sheva (=MS) is like a shortened chazarat hashatz, which Ma’ariv during the week does not have. The gemara (Shabbat 24b) says to recite it because many shuls were in dangerous places; by stretching out the davening, latecomers have time to finish before everyone leaves.
Because of MS’s unusual nature, it is not surprising that Rishonim limit it to circumstances that resemble the original situation. The Ra’avya (see Tur, Orach Chayim 268) says that the danger the gemara discussed is no longer prevalent and that we continue doing MS but only when there is a minyan. The Rivash (Shut 40) and Beit Yosef (ad loc.) say that it does not apply to makeshift minyanim, where it is not as likely for people to come from all over to daven and for one to come late. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 268:10) rules that a minyan formed in a home where sheva berachot or a shiva period is held do not to recite MS, as these groups are not expected to have people coming and going late.
What is the line between a set shul and a makeshift minyan? The Taz (268:8) broadens the definition of a shul, saying that a group that leaves home and sets aside a place to daven for a few days recites MS. The Eliyahu Rabba (268:19), in bringing this Taz, posits that a sefer Torah must also be present, as does the Mishna Berura (268:24), but not all agree (see Minchat Yitzchak X:21). The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 268:15), in bringing the Taz’s expansion, describes it as a place they daven for several weeks, which probably means a minyan for Shabbat for several weeks (see Minchat Yitzchak ibid.). In contrast, the Eshel Avraham (Butchach, to OC 268:8) says that to be set based on temporary use, it must be used every day, three tefillot a day.
At first glance, your case lacks consensus in favor of MS, as there is no sefer Torah and no place is used on consecutive days (or even weeks). Since MS is a beracha of Rabbinic origin, the normal rule is to say safek berachot l’hakel (=sblk – when in doubt, refrain from making a beracha), and several poskim invoke this rule (including Eshel Avraham ibid.; Pri Megadim on Taz ibid.; Mishna Berura 268:25). On the other hand, the Magen Avraham (268:14) says that we do not protest against the practice to recite MS even in a minyan that is not in a shul of any sort. His source is the Maharlbach (Shut 122), who demonstrates that the Orchot Chayim, a Rishon, does not limit MS to a shul at all. The kabbalistically oriented cite the Arizal as seeing MS as a fundamental part of tefilla, which does not require a shul (see Kaf Hachayim, OC 268:50). Some also claim that we do not say sblk against the Arizal, but not all agree (see opinions in Yabia Omer ibid.) and not all are kabbalistically oriented (see K’nei Bosem II:48).
There is a strong factor in favor of your doing MS. Many, if not all, posit that the venue’s main importance is not intrinsic but a sign of how much the group resembles the original institution of MS – of people drawn together from around the community (see sources in Minchat Yitzchak ibid.). The Tehilla L’Dovid (268:13) posits that if the majority of a community leaves its shul to daven, for whatever reason, in a different place, they recite MS because the logic applies. The Minchat Yitzchak concurs. In your case, wherever you do Kabbalat Shabbat is your community’s central and only minyan. This should be enough reason to do MS when the shul davens Maariv in a home. Once the place is of less importance per se than the minyan, it should not make a difference that the venue changes from week to week or that there is no sefer Torah.
We saw above further support, if needed. Therefore, we posit that you should recite MS.
Mechirat Chametz and Tevillat KeilimI never do tevillat keilim after Pesach on keilim I sell. Can that be justified?
Your excellent question has been bothering Acharonim for centuries. If one follows the apparent consequences of mechirat chametz, the relevant keilim should require tevilla because when a Jew sells a kli to a non-Jew and buys it back, it needs tevilla (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 120:11). The determinant, regarding both stringency and leniency, is non-Jewish ownership, not his physical contact with the kli (ibid. 10-11). In fact, we take significant steps to ensure the chametz is halachically sold to the non-Jew (see Mishna Berura 448:12).
So maybe we should just do tevilla? While a handful of people do such a tevilla (it would be without a beracha – Yabia Omer VI, YD 11), the very broad minhag is not to do tevilla. The need for leniency is clear. If one sells all of his chametzdik keilim, it is a lot of work; if he sells just those it is hard to clean, the daunting problem is that a kli must be without chatzitzot for the tevilla to work (Shulchan Aruch, YD 202).
What is the mechanism for leniency? The straightforward approach is to not sell keilim that require tevilla. One does not need to sell a clean chametzdik utensil, as the prohibitions to possess chametz (= bal yeira’eh …) and the resulting chametz she’avar alav haPesach (=chshahp) apply only to chametz that is b’en (roughly, intact), not that which is absorbed in a kli (Pesachim 30a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 451:1). Any mechirat chametz contract that refers to selling particles that are absorbed in keilim is employing extreme chumra, and it is far from clear one can even sell them (see Mishpat Hamechira II:4:4).
A more reasonable problem relates chametz that is b’en but is difficult to remove (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 442:11), which can be the subject of bal yeira’eh. Some recommend selling only the stuck-on chametz without the kli (Shut Chatam Sofer I:109). The problem is that it is questionable if and how one can sell something while it is in the seller’s utensil (see Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 200:5). Therefore, some require to sell the keilim also (Ben Ish Chai I, Tzav 9). There are two alternatives to selling these keilim: 1. Rent out the keilim to the non-Jewish buyer, while selling the chametz stuck to them, which many say solves the acquisition problem (see Mishpat Hamechira ibid.). 2. Make sure the remaining chametz is totally inedible (see Shulchan Aruch, OC ibid.).
One who wants to avoid selling keilim must check the mechirat chametz text he is signing. Some are very broad, and include even chametz and keilim one does not realize he is selling. You can shop around for a less inclusive text or specify in your personal form that you are selling only things you put in the assigned places. If you do that, you will have chshahp problems if you failed to put in its place something that needed to be sold (see Living the Halachic Process III:D-20). (It is unclear to what extent one can rely on selling chametz one did not know about; the classic mechanism for such items is bitul chametz (see Pesachim 4b, 6b).)
There are poskim who approve of selling chametzdik keilim and not doing tevillat keilim. Haelef Lecha Shlomo (YD 193) says that mechirat chametz, as a “deception,” is only effective enough for the chametz because we have bitul chametz as a fallback and not valid enough a sale to require tevilla for the keilim. The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 120:52) takes the same basic approach, that we do not need a full sale, but explains that even to the extent the non-Jewish buyer owns the keilim, it does not require tevilla because “the name of the non-Jew is not upon it.” These ideas are plausible but their weakness is self-evident (see Mishpat Hamechira ibid.)
I personally prefer limiting the scope of mechirat chametz to what is needed, as extreme chametz chumra creates the need to rely on unusual tevillat keilim kula. However, one may simply follow his rabbi’s mechirat chametz system and not do tevillat keilim thereafter.
Melacha Done on Yom Tov Sheni in Chutz La’aretzWe (Israelis) will be spending Pesach at my parents’ home in chutz la’aretz. They keep the basics of the chag, especially when we are there, but do not observe Yom Tov Sheini (=YTS). May we benefit from forbidden melacha (ed. note – e.g., turning on a flame or electricity for cooking; turning on lights) they will do on YTS? (They are respectful of our shemirat mitzvot, but we do not want to make unnecessary issues.)
Do not encourage your parents to do melacha; if you know they will do so on your behalf, ask them not to, due to lifnei iver (not facilitating aveirot). It is best to discuss this in advance, after which you need not “police them.”
The main gemarot (see Ketubot 34a) forbidding the result of a Jew’s melacha refer to Shabbat (ma’aseh Shabbat). A gemara (Beitza 17a) examines whether one who cooked on Yom Tov for Shabbat without an eiruv tavshilim (=et) may eat the food. The gemara (ibid. 17b) deflects a proof from the halacha that one who cooked on Shabbat may not eat the food by saying Shabbat is different. Rashi contrasts – chillul Shabbat is a Torah-level, capital offense; cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbat without an et is a Rabbinic prohibition. Since Yom Tov has elements of each – a Torah violation but no capital offense, it makes sense that we find a machloket if there is a prohibition on ma’aseh Yom Tov (Taz, Orach Chayim 502:1) or not (simple reading of Shut Harashba V:8).
According to some (see Rav SZ Auerbach in Yom Tov Sheini K’hilchato, p. 369), for Torah-level violations of Yom Tov, ma’aseh Yom Tov is forbidden; for Rabbinic violations, the result is permitted. That aligns well with the Magen Avraham (538:2), who says regarding the result of forbidden work on Chol Hamoed, that its status depends if melacha on Chol Hamoed is forbidden from the Torah or Rabbinically. If something is forbidden on the first day of Yom Tov, it widely has the same status on the Rabbinic-level second day.
We can, then, claim that your parents’ Torah-level violations will be forbidden and the Rabbinic ones will not. The cooking process, including burning to fuel it (including glowing filaments) should be included in ochel nefesh and permitted on Yom Tov and thus the prohibition of creating a new fire, forbidden because of molid (Beitza 33b), is likely a Rabbinic prohibition (see Shevet Halevi VI:68). The Taz (ibid.) views it as a Torah prohibition and forbids not only using the resulting flame but also eating the food it cooked. However, this is not the accepted ruling (Mishna Berura 502:4). Some say a new flame has special leniency because it has no substance and/or it keeps on replacing itself (see Aruch Hashulchan, OC 502:4; Dirshu 502:3). Most of the violations you would use are likely Rabbinic on Yom Tov.
Does it help on YTS that you are Israeli? While you may not do melacha in a Jewish community abroad even privately (Mishna Berura 496:9), this is due to concern over discord; it is not an intrinsic violation. Therefore, for example, an Israeli may cook without an et, as a bystander for the cooking will not know he does not have an et (ibid. 13). Arguably, then, ma’aseh Yom Tov should only be forbidden for one for whom melacha is innately forbidden, especially considering it is unclear to a ben chutz la’aretz seeing the benefit what the history of the object is.
This claim may depend on the reason to prohibit ma’aseh Shabbat for people other than the violator (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 318:1). If it is considered enjoyment of a Shabbat violation, it should not apply on YTS to one for whom it is not intrinsically Yom Tov. If it is part of the penalty on the violator, it likely follows the status of the violator, for whom YTS applies intrinsically. Further analysis is beyond our scope. However, since many poskim treat the violator’s household as “him” and not “others” (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata, 5770 ed. 1:34), this leniency will not help here.In conclusion, it is permitted to benefit from Rabbinic Yom Tov violations; regarding Torah-level ones, this would require significant need.
Nefilat Apayim without a Sefer TorahWhat are the rules of when one does and does not do nefilat apayim (putting one’s head down and partially covering it) during Tachanun?
The sources and depth of discussion regarding this question are underwhelming, but the background is fascinating.
Although no mishna mandates doing nefilat apayim in davening, several gemarot (including Megilla 22b and Bava Metzia 59b) refer to it as a known entity. Some used to do it as a more elaborate prostration than now practiced (see Megilla 22b).
The idea of not doing nefilat apayim without a sefer Torah comes from a short statement in the Rokeach (Tefilla 324), who cites as inspiration a pasuk regarding Yehoshua, who in a time of need, fell on his face and beseeched Hashem “before Hashem’s ark” (Yehoshua 7:6). The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 131) is unimpressed with the Rokeach’s assertion’s halachic basis. Although he does say, “If it is an accepted tradition, we will accept it,” he does not cite the Rokeach in the Shulchan Aruch. The Rama (OC 131:2), though, does cite this requirement.
Concerning details, the Rama (ibid.) says that people davening in a courtyard that is open to a shul do nefilat apayim, as does an individual at home reciting Tachanun at the same time as the shul. We will not go into the details and permutations of these mainly uncommon occurrences (see Mishna Berura 131:13-14).
One common question is what needs to be present. The Rama writes that there should an aron with a sefer Torah in it. While the pasuk mentions the aron of Hashem, the Rokeach mentions only a sefer Torah as being required, and the Mishna Berura (131:11) says the sefer Torah is the determinant. Igrot Moshe (OC, IV:21) refers positively to a case where the sefer Torah is kept in the room in a more secure place than the aron kodesh. Ishei Yisrael (25:(36)) cites Rav S.Z. Auerbach as positing that an empty aron kodesh that houses a sefer Torah only on days it is used suffices, apparently even if the sefer Torah is in a different room on this day.
The Mishna Berura (ibid.) brings a machloket Acharonim on whether sifrei kodesh other than Torah scrolls justify doing nefilat apayim. Some say that sefarim are enough if it is the people’s regular place to daven (see Igrot Moshe, OC, V:20; Beit Avi IV:85), and/or if the sefarim are permanently there (Dirshu 131:17), perhaps in a bookcase (Halichot Shlomo, Tefilla 11:(37)).
The minhag is that Yerushalayim provides enough “before Hashem” sanctity to do nefilat apayim without any sefarim (see Siddur Olat Re’iya; Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah III:129). It is logically questionable whether and why this should apply outside the Old City (see Halichot Shlomo ibid. 11).
Should one do nefilat apayim in a case of safek/machloket whether it is called for? One would think the stakes are low – What could be wrong with doing it when not called for? Is it a big deal to do Tachanun without it? However, study of the sources of nefilat apayim (including gemarot, Rambam (Tefilla 9:5), and Shulchan Aruch (OC 131)) demonstrates that the raison d'etre of nefilat apayim is the body position, whereas the specific words of supplication (which we call Tachanun) to be used are an afterthought (explaining lack of focus and greatly varied texts among eidot). On the other hand, nefilat apayim is not a “why not?” practice. One may not to do it at night (Shulchan Aruch ibid. 3), even though Tachanun may be recited then (Mishna Berura 131:16). Although the Shulchan Aruch mandates nefilat apayim, in recent times, most Sephardim say Tachanun without nefilat apayim because of kabbalistically-based fear for one’s life if he does it improperly (see Yalkut Yosef, OC 131:16).
Like the 13 Middot (the two are often paired), nefilat apayim makes for very powerful prayer (see story in Bava Metzia 59b). But it is viewed as a “nuclear option,” which needs the right conditions (see Shulchan Aruch ibid. 8). Therefore, it is appropriate to take a moderate approach (not overly lenient or stringent) in deciding between opinions.
Learning during KaddishI give a shiur to a few people before Shacharit and aim to finish when davening begins, with Rabbi Yishmael/Kaddish D’Rabbanan. Sometimes we are not quite finished then, in which case, we try to answer Kaddish’s main recitations, although we sometimes get caught up and fail to respond. Someone complained that continuing to learn during Kaddish is assur and a disgrace to Kaddish and the people listening to it. I don’t see it that way but said I would ask.
It is good that you plan to finish by Kaddish. Hopefully you learn with your tallit and tefillin on and have davened up to there. It would be a shame to either need to skip parts of P’sukei D’zimra, speed through it, or be behind the tzibbur. We will focus on Kaddish, as you ask.
There are three possible objections to a shiur continuing during Kaddish: 1. Listening/answering Kaddish has innate precedence over learning; 2. The learning can transmit one’s rejection or disregard for Kaddish’s content. 3. The learning can disturb those trying to focus on Kaddish.
1. One may/should answer the main responses of Kaddish, Kedusha and Barchu in the midst of almost any part of davening (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 66:3). The only debate is whether this is so if one who is davening in one minyan should respond to what he hears from another minyan. On the one hand, there is no Kaddish quota, so that any prompt makes responding important (Igrot Moshe III:89). Others say that the sources on non-participants responding are to permit answering, not obligating it, and so in multi-minyan locations (e.g., the Kotel) one does not have to harm his tefilla by having his focus wander from minyan to minyan (see Tzitz Eliezer XI:3; Yabia Omer VI, OC 20).
Only the study of the loftiest scholars (see Shabbat 11a) can push off the normal requirements of tefilla (Igrot Moshe OC II:27). Some people opt to learn Torah during chazarat hashatz, and even there most poskim oppose it (Mishna Berura 124:17; Kaf Hachayim, OC 124:16). On the other hand, the problem may be that less learned people will speak/not listen without a good reason (Mishna Berura ibid.). Therefore, some permit learning Torah in one’s head (see Dirshu 124:27). However, during Kaddish and Kedusha, one’s mind must be only on them, not learning (Mishna Berura 125:1).
2. If one is among a minyan who are up to Kri’at Shema, he must say the first pasuk along with them, even if he has already recited Kri’at Shema, in order to not appear reluctant to recite his allegiance to Hashem (Shulchan Aruch, OC 65:2). Poskim extend this idea to other central parts of davening, including such a major joint recitation of praise to Hashem as Kaddish (see Igrot Moshe ibid.). When one is at a minyan, not answering a different minyan need not look a rejection (Tzitz Eliezer ibid.). However, in your case, learning audibly in the beginning of your minyan is publicly indicating that joining everyone in declaring praise of Hashem is not at the top of your priorities, which is included in this problem.
3. The local rav or gabbai can best consider the technical and communal elements of what is an unacceptable disturbance to others. However, the concept is generally applicable. We note that the Mishna Berura (566:12), regarding the minhag to collect tzedaka on a fast day as a “kofer nefesh,” says that the gabbai should not go around announcing it during chazarat hashatz because it disrupts concentration.
The remaining question is whether these matters apply to the entire Kaddish or just the public’s responses. Regarding chazarat hashatz, l’chatchila one is to listen to every word but answering the berachot (while knowing which one is being said each time) is sufficient b’di’eved (Mishna Berura 124:17). However, regarding Kaddish, the need to listen to every word seems stronger (Mishna Berura 125:1).
In terms of bottom line, your shul-mate is right. Since stopping learning “on a dime” is difficult, try to stop a little earlier, making Kaddish the absolute endpoint.
Do All Who Ask Really Get Matanot La’evyonim?What is the operative result of the concept of kol haposhet yad notnim lo (= kpynl – whoever extends his hand to receive is given)?
There is little discussion in the poskim on kpynl but two sources in Chazal touch on it. The Tosefta (Megilla 1:5, cited in Bava Metzia 78b), in discussing that money earmarked for Purim should be used for it, says that we are not medakdek (exact) in the matter; it does not explain what that means practically. The Yerushalmi (Megilla 1:4) says we are not medakdek on the mitzvot (Ritva, Bava Metzia ibid. – money) of Purim. It adds, “but rather kol haposhet yad notnim lo.” The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 694:3) codifies these words in the siman that discusses matanot la’evyonim (=mtlevy).
Rashi (Bava Metzia 78b) says that the case discussed there is a gabbai tzedaka who collected money to be used by the city’s poor for seudat Purim. If the Yerushalmi and Shulchan Aruch also refer to that, it is unclear if kpynl is a halacha of mtlevy. Specifically, the sources imply that the public collection was in addition to people’s personal practice of mtlevy. The fund was a form of public tzedaka, which we find for example regarding making sure the poor have wine for the seder (Pesachim 99b) or ma’ot chitim. Accordingly, the gabbai of these funds is instructed to give to whoever requests it.
What need is there for a special collection for the Purim seuda of the poor if that is the main purpose of mtlevy (see Mishna Berura 694:2); wouldn’t all the townspeople’s mtlevy suffice for one meal for them? There are a few possibilities. 1) According to many, a mere peruta suffices for mtlevy (see ibid.), so that the poor might not have received from mtlevy enough for a nice meal; 2) The poor person has the right for a fancy meal that even average mtlevy will not cover (Bava Metzia 78b may imply this; see Ramban ad loc.); 3) For various reasons, some evyonim will not receive, so the gabbai ensures all have enough.
Some understand kpynl as relating to mtlevy. The Ramban (ibid.) says that in light of kpynl, there is a minhag (mentioned by the Shulchan Aruch ibid.) to give on Purim even to non-Jews. The Beit Yosef (OC 694) cites objectors, since mtlevy is supposed to go to Jews (all agree that tzedaka money may go to non-Jews – see Gittin 61a). This (from Shulchan Aruch’s author) implies that kpynl can be relied on to fulfill mtlevy. The Ritva (Bava Metzia ibid.) explains that we need not be exact and ensure that the intended recipients of mtlevy (the poor) receive because the spirit of the day is to funnel happiness into giving, with one’s intention to include the poor, but that anyone who claims to fit suffices. (There is significant machloket on who is included in the intended evyon). According to this approach, kpynl is a leniency – one does not have to be certain the recipients are as needy as designed (Mikraei Kodesh (Harari) 11:3). Dirshu (594:16) claims there is a machloket between Rav Elyashiv (stringent) and Rav Chaim Kanievsky whether this is true. There is also an approach that willingness to embarrass oneself and request defines one as an evyon (see Moadim U’zmanim VI:106).
Some view kpynl as a stringency – one may not refuse to give Purim provisions to any poor person who asks for it (see Kol Meiheical VI, p. 328). But what if one already fulfilled the allotment of two evyonim? Possibly, while at that point it is only recommended to look for more poor recipients (Mishna Berura 694:3), it could be obligatory upon request. Alternatively, it is not mtlevy but a mitzva of tzedaka. It is never simple to refuse to give tzedaka (Devarim 15:7), but presumably this stringency means that even in cases one does not have to give (as much) (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 249:1; ibid. 251:10), one should do so on Purim (the degree is unclear).
To summarize, kpynl is either: a leniency that one may give mtlevy to anyone who claims to qualify, instructions for Purim to gabbaei tzedaka or individual tzedaka givers, or an extension of the minimum matanot la’evyonim obligation.
Purchasing Tax LiensMay a Jew purchase a tax lien when the tax delinquent is Jewish, or is that taking ribbit? Background: In about half of US states, tax authorities auction off tax liens (unpaid taxes create liens on taxpayers’ property) to the public. After purchasing the tax lien (approximately for the amount due to the government), the buyer is entitled to ever-increasing charges. If, after a set time, the debt is unpaid (most redeem their property before then), the buyer can foreclosure on the property and fully acquire it. As I understand from some research, the system works somewhat differently in different states/localities.
We have not found explicit discussion in classical poskim or contemporary halachic discussion of this exact case. To evaluate this possibly new question, we seek halachic parallels.
The closest parallel is loans that involve three parties – two Jewish and one not – which makes the existence of ribbit possible (see permutations in Bava Metzia 71b). The determining factor is generally whether the obligation and payment (perhaps even partially) are between two Jews (interest is forbidden) or only between each Jew separately with the non-Jew (permitted). The Rashba (Shut I:764) speaks of a case where a Jew owes a non-Jew with accruing ribbit and the non-Jew transferred his rights to the debt to another Jew. This is parallel to our case, as the taxpayer owes the non-Jewish government, and the government transferred its rights to a Jewish tax lien purchaser. The Rashba rules that if the non-Jew receives the money from the first Jew, even if he then gives it to the second Jew, it is permitted. If the money goes directly between the two Jews, it is forbidden. The Rashba, and the Rama (Yoreh Deah 168:10), who codified this opinion, imply that the prohibited case is only a stringency because of the severity of ribbit.
The Taz (ad loc. 12) makes two qualifications. The potential problem of ribbit is only on that which is accrued after the transfer to the Jew; the second Jew may directly take that which was coming to the non-Jew prior to the transfer. (If the original debtor was not entitled to pay early, all the eventual ribbit is considered previously accrued (Chavot Da’at (Chiddushim) 168:20), but in our case, the taxpayer can pay at any time.) The Taz also says that the relative leniency of the Rashba/Rama was only regarding a non-Jew’s partial/temporary transfer of rights to the second Jew, i.e., the non-Jew can pay off the second Jew and go back to demanding payment from the first Jew. In contrast, if the second Jew had obtained irrevocable rights to the loan, he has a full debtor/creditor relationship with the other Jew, so that taking additional ribbit is strictly forbidden. Although the Shach (Nekudot Hakesef ad loc.) takes issue on the Taz’s first qualification and somewhat on the second, the consensus of poskim is like the Taz (see Gra ad loc.; Chavot Da’at ibid.; Torat Ribbit 24:1).
The purchase of the tax lien appears to be like the Taz’s stringent case, making it forbidden to purchase a Jewish taxpayer’s tax lien. Since auctions list details of the taxpayer and his property, it might be possible to pick someone who is highly unlikely to be Jewish; such “profiling” is, of course, an inexact science.
However, we do not want to take a clear stand on this matter for a few reasons. 1) The laws of ribbit are very complex, and we do not preclude a future or unknown-to-us responsum convincing us otherwise. 2) Obligations created by government decree can have special qualities, and sometimes may be able to obviate the prohibition of ribbit (see Shut Ramban 46). 3) We do not know certain potentially impactful factors (some likely differ from place to place), including the degree of finality of the purchase, and who receives payment from the taxpayer. In the meantime, we cannot permit purchasing tax liens of a Jew. We add that the system appears to have some draconian provisions. This might make it appropriate to avoid on moral grounds.
We invite information/insight from our readership.
Making Up a Tefilla Missed to Help the SickI spent all afternoon in the emergency room with my mother and did not daven Mincha. Can/should I daven a second Ma’ariv as tashlumin (makeup prayer)?
The gemara (Berachot 26a) introduces the idea of tashlumin for tefillot missed “by mistake.” Those who missed intentionally are excluded. Rishonim posit that there is tashlumin for one prevented from davening (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 108:1). However, the Rosh (Shut 27:1, codified in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 341:2) rules that an onen (one between the death and burial of a close relative, who is exempt from positive mitzvot) who missed a tefilla does not make it up at the next tefilla. He explains that the onen did not forget but was not obligated in the missed tefilla.
The Derisha (YD 341:3) extends this exclusion from tashlumin to exemptions from tefilla due to pressing involvement in a mitzva (osek b’mitzva). Caring for a mother with acute medical needs certainly qualifies (see Sukka 26a and Mishna Berura 640:7).The Taz (YD 341:5 & OC 108:1) takes issue with the Derisha, arguing that an onen’s exemption is qualitatively different from that of one involved in a mitzva. The Derisha and Taz may disagree on whether mitzvot erase obligations, like aninut does (see nuances in Kehilot Yaakov, Berachot 15; Atvan D’orayta 13). Alternatively, they may argue on the breadth of the institution of tashlumin.
Given that the Rosh regarding onen appears to be based more on logic than Talmudic precedent, it makes sense to distinguish between the cases. During aninut, one may not use windows of free time to do mitzvot. In contrast, our entire day should be filled with various mitzvot, yet we seem to almost always fit in davening with a (set) minyan (see Ishei Yisrael 22:9, who advises doctors and nurses to look for opportunities to daven). Therefore, it makes a lot of sense that even if a certain mitzva could not be interrupted, osek b’mitzva does not make it considered that the obligation of tefilla at that time did not exist. Nevertheless, the majority of Acharonim, including some of the most authoritative ones (Shach in Nekudot Hakesef, YD 341, Magen Avraham 93:5; Eliya Rabba 93:4; Mishna Berura 93:8), rule that one does not need to do tashlumin in a case of mitzva involvement.
That being said, it might be good to do tashlumin voluntarily, an idea we find even in the following cases when tashlumin is not prescribed: 1. He purposely did not daven; 2. More than one tefilla has gone by since he missed. Poskim encourage doing tashlumin as a nedava (voluntary tefilla). The possible proviso is that when the case is further away from warranted tashlumin, the nedava must be done with a chiddush, i.e., additions to his regular Shemoneh Esrei. The Shulchan Aruch requires chiddush regarding #2 (OC 108:5), but not regarding #1 (ibid. 7). Since the requirements of chiddush are not trivial and perhaps difficult (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, OC 107:2), we would not recommend it for the average person.
Regarding an osek b’mitzva, the Pri Megadim (MZ 108:1) says it depends whether the Taz’s opinion is strong enough to create a reasonable doubt whether tashlumin is needed; his inclination is not fully clear. It is an open question (see Yabia Omer IX, OC 90.6) whether there is an indication from the Rivash (140) like the Taz, and the Shevel Halevi (I:205) claims the Zohar supports the Taz. On the other hand, the Mishna Berura (108:2) rules that it requires a chiddush.
In your case, there could be reasons to require tashlumin. If your mitzva involvement began after the earliest time for Mincha, then according to almost all poskim, the subsequent exemption does not preclude tashlumin (Mishna Berura 71:4; the Birkei Yosef, YD 341:17 is equivocal). Also, while you had a right to err on the side of medical/kibbud eim caution and while one may use short breaks for ensuring his ability to continue the mitzva rather than tefilla (see Mishna Berura 71:13), if, in hindsight, you could have davened without compromising your mother’s care, tashlumin is called for.
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