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A Kohen Becoming Right-HandedI am a left-handed kohen. In anticipation of the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash, realizing that a left-handed kohen cannot do avoda (service), I want to train myself to be right-handed. Is there anything I need to know?
Yours is a beautiful approach to our glorious national future and your kehuna, but I feel a need to flash a “yellow light” regarding your efforts to become right-handed (or ambidextrous).
A left-handed person may not do avoda (Bechorot 45b). The Rambam (Bi’at Hamikdash 8:11) categorizes him as a ba’al mum (blemished), by kohen standards. Rashi (Bechorot 45b) considers him lacking a “right hand,” which is needed for avoda (see Chazon Ish, Bechorot 26:13). We accept the opinion among Tannaim (Bechorot 45a) that an ambidextrous person is fit for avoda (Rambam ibid.). There is discussion of doing things to remove disqualifications (ibid.), and your idea might logically work. However, Eliyahu Hanavi or the like will make the decisions on if and how (e.g., which hand functions) training would help. I will not venture a guess on such a matter.
So “why not try?” My hesitation concerns your tefillin status. Presumably, you put your tefillin shel yad on your right arm (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 27:6), although some arguable lefties place tefillin on the left arm because they do many things with the left hand but some with the left. This depends on a machloket throughout millennia (see Menachot 37a; Shulchan Aruch ibid.; Be’ur Halacha ad loc.) on whether we follow strength, the ability to write, or some combination (see Living the Halachic Process, II:G-12).
Does learning how to use the other hand change the halacha? The Mordechai (Tefillin 969) brings a machloket about the arm upon which a righty who made his left hand dominant puts tefillin. The more accepted opinion is that he can switch his status (Mishna Berura 27:22). However, if he only changed to writing left-handed but continues to use his right hand for most activities, the Magen Avraham (27:10) rules that he remains a halachic righty because of two doubts – a. which function is more important?; b. does training change the halacha?
You are asking about a lefty who trains himself to be a righty. Rav Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC III:2) did not distinguish between the direction of the right-left switch and based on the Magen Avraham, posited that if a born lefty switched only his writing, he would retain his old status due to double doubt. Ha’elef Lecha Shlomo (I:11) says that the doubt about changing is countered by the fact that the standard person (including the ambidextrous) is considered a righty, and he would place tefillin on his left arm. Rav Frank (Har Tzvi, OC I:26) agreed in principle with Ha’elef Lecha Shlomo but was unhappy with a boy putting himself into even a single doubt (if writing or strength is more important). He also argued that to qualify even as ambidextrous, one must write with his right as well as with his left, which is difficult to learn. Therefore, he instructed a twelve-year-old who was training to write with his right hand to restore his left-handed dominance to remove doubt.
This background demonstrates that you will enter some doubt about your status after making the change. In fact, depending on what changes you make (writing’s critical importance is probably unique to tefillin (see Menachot 37a), not avoda), your status could be unclear. Furthermore, during the transition process, there will certainly be times when you won’t know which side of “the line” you are on. (There are rabbis who, in some cases, instruct to put on tefillin on both arms (at different times)). I would not recommend getting into such dilemmas without sufficient justification.
Whether we will build the Beit Hamikdash or it will descend intact from Above, people will need time to learn the intricacies of avoda. At that time, many may do a course on becoming a righty. We recommend funneling your beautiful dedication to improving right-hand usage, while remaining more proficient with your left hand temporarily.
Getting a Sponge Wet on ShabbatI keep my sponge (the type one may not use on Shabbat) hanging from a hook near the sink; when the faucet is on, some water generally splashes onto the sponge. May I leave the sponge there for Shabbat?
We will focus on halachic permissibility. (Some might convince you to find another place due to Shabbat aesthetics and practicality or hygienic considerations.)
One issue to explore is the concern that one might come to squeeze it out, which is prohibited in several cases of things getting wet. One of the gemarot is Beitza 30a – one should not cover an open barrel of water with a cloth, lest it get wet and one might squeeze out the water. One prominent case in poskim is the Magen Avraham (326:8) who says that one of the reasons not to allow swimming/bathing even in cold water (when it is not for a mitzva) is the concern that one might squeeze out water.
However, this will not be a reason to disallow the sponge to be near water, for at least two reasons. 1) Extending the prohibition to cases not discussed in Chazal is a new g’zeira (a prohibition not to do A lest it lead to doing the forbidden B), which we do not create ourselves (see Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim II:34). 2) The Shulchan Aruch (OC 320:15), in the context of the cloth/barrel prohibition (above), permits hanging a cloth normally used for that purpose because one is not perturbed if it gets wet and we are therefore not concerned he will squeeze it out. In our case, since the sponge is in its regular place and there is no reason to think he will have an urge to squeeze it out, it is permitted.
The other issue is that putting water on an absorbent material can be a form of laundering (Zevachim 94b; Shulchan Aruch, OC 302:9). Rishonim deal with the fact that a few gemarot (see Yoma 77b; Beitza 18b) allow going into bodies of water with clothes on. Tosafot (Shabbat 111b) presents two distinctions that may reconcile the sources: 1. The Ri – it is permitted to get fabrics wet when they are “clean.” 2. Rabbeinu Tam – it is permitted when the exposure to water is derech lichluch (in a manner of dirtying). Is derech lichluch limited to cases in which the garment becomes dirtier than it was before (e.g., using a rag to soak up water from the floor)? Although we cannot give the matter sufficient clarity in this forum, the stronger approach is that derech lichluch means that this is not the way anyone would want to launder, even if it does get more clean – see Harchev Da’at, Melaben 3). After all, one of the permitted cases is entering a body of water with clothes on, and the classic sources do not limit this to unclear water. In this case, water from the faucet is clean, but no one would wash a sponge by having sink water splash on it from time to time.
There are different opinions as to whether one can be lenient based on either distinction or perhaps only the two together (Rama, OC 302:9-10). Some of those who are stringent may have low standards of what is considered a clean fabric (Orchot Shabbat 13:(56)). If not, one would have to inspect a towel to make sure it is truly clean before drying his hands on it, against common practice. It might vary from kitchen to kitchen whether a used sponge would be clean enough, but hopefully one’s sponge left out for Shabbat would at least look clean from the outside. One should be able to rely on the leniency of derech lichluch (Be’ur Halacha to 302:9), especially when there is no intent to clean it now (see Tosafot Yeshanim, Yoma 77b).
While the sponge and faucet’s positions are not described exactly, it is unlikely that there is certainty that each time you use the sink, a noticeable amount of water will hit the sponge. If so, beyond the aforementioned reasons for leniency, this is a case of a davar she’eino mitkaven (one does a permitted action (opening a faucet), that may or may not inadvertently cause a melacha (rinsing the sponge)), which is certainly permitted.
In short, leaving the sponge near the sink is always permitted according to most poskim, and often is indisputably permitted.
A Mistake in the Beracha Acharona on WineAfter Havdala, I recited quietly the beracha acharona on grape juice by heart, and finished it aloud for my family to answer Amen. I was caught off guard when my wife alerted me to the fact that I mistakenly finished off “… al ha’aretz v’al peiroteha” (instead of “al ha’aretz v’al pri gafnah”). I do not know if my mistake was only on the last line (I knew the beracha was for grape juice, and I am usually proficient at berachot.) Should I have redone the beracha?
(The order of presentation is pedagogically rather than logically chosen). Starting to fix the mistake within toch k’dei dibbur (1-2 seconds) of finishing the beracha (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 209:2) would have solved your problem, but it sounds like your realization came later.
Can you assume you did the rest of the beracha correctly? On the one hand, you regularly make this beracha correctly right after Havdala. On the other hand, since you finished off incorrectly, there is a good chance that the mistake started earlier. We, thus, must treat the matter as a safek whether you were accurate in one or both of the other mentions the specific food-category. When one has a safek whether he recited a beracha on food (or, equivalently, whether he did so validly), he does not recite/repeat the beracha (ibid. 3).
However, it would not help if you said the other part(s) of the beracha correctly. A beracha’s concluding part is crucial, and while there is a machloket whether getting the end right suffices, if it is wrong, the beracha is invalid (ibid. 59:2; Be’ur Halacha ad loc.).
However, you did not have to repeat the beracha acharona because the text you recited was not so wrong. There is a rule (with exceptions) that a beracha that is not slated for a certain food counts b’di’eved when its content is also true, even when a more specific beracha was prescribed. The most famous application is that Shehakol N’hiya Bidvaro is a valid beracha rishona after the fact for any food. The rule also validates b’di’eved one who recited Borei Pri Ha’adama instead of Borei Pri Haetz (Shulchan Aruch, OC 206:1) because fruit of a tree in effect grow from the ground, because the tree itself grows there (Mishna Berura ad loc. 1).
Grapes and wine come from an etz (a grapevine, halachically, is a tree) and, specifically, from a gefen (a grapevine). Therefore, logic seems to dictate that if one recites Borei Pri Haetz on wine, he should be yotzei because the beracha is true – the wine came from a tree. (R. Akiva Eiger (to Magen Avraham 208:22) and Nishmat Adam (I:50:1) are among those who concur.) If so, the same is true of the beracha acharona (our case) – although he should have recited Al Hagefen, he should be yotzei with Al Hapeirot (see Be’ur Halacha to OC 208:18). However, there is actually a machloket – the Magen Avraham (208:22), Yad Ephrayim (ad loc.), and Aruch Hashulchan (OC 208:28) say that Borei Pri Haetz does not work b’di’eved for wine. The Yad Ephrayim explains that since wine (and bread) received a special beracha beyond those of their category of food, Chazal did not allow the beracha to be fulfilled with a lesser, albeit accurate, beracha. The Mishna Berura (208:70) cites both positions and identifies Rishonim corroborating each (Sha’ar Hatziyun ad loc. 67). In conclusion, he treats the situation as a safek, and therefore based on safek berachot l’hakel, recommends not reciting Borei Pri Hagefen afterward.
Based on the comparison between beracha rishona and beracha acharona, safek obviates the practical need for another beracha in your case. In your case, there is an additional reason to refrain from another beracha. According to a serious position among Rishonim, the beracha acharona on wine is supposed to conclude with “… al ha’aretz v’al hapeirot” (mentioning land and fruit, whereas the “fruit of the grapevine” is mentioned only earlier), and the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 11) rules that either is fine. Therefore, you, conceivably, said the beracha perfectly, and even if not, it was close enough to preclude another recitation.
When to Say Haneirot HalaluWhen do we say Haneirot Halalu … (=Hnhl), when one person lights and when several light?
The earliest source of the practice to recite Hnhl is Massechet Sofrim (20:4), an early, post-Talmudic work. While many early Rishonim (including the Rambam) do not mention the practice, the Maharam Meirutenburg and his students (see Rosh, Shabbat 2:8) helped make it mainstream, so that it is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 676:4) and practiced by all eidot.
The recitation’s timing is debated. Massechet Sofrim seems to present it (see Bach, OC 676) as being said after the beracha of L’hadlik ner … as an accompanying “condition,” before She’asa Nissim and Shehecheyanu (perhaps before or during the lighting). This diverges greatly from normal rules of mitzvot/berachot (see Shut Maharil 145).
The Shulchan Aruch describes it as after the berachot and lighting, but does not say after how much lighting. The Maharshal (Shut 85) posits that Hnhl is after the first candle, which is the main mitzva. The Pri Megadim (676, MZ 5) demonstrates that the beracha relates to all of the candles, and therefore sees it is as a problematic break before the mitzva is complete. The main answer is that after a beracha takes effect on the beginning, primary fulfillment of the mitzva, speaking to help enhance the continued fulfillment of the mitzva is fine. This concept finds expression regarding bedikat chametz (Shulchan Aruch, OC 432:1; Mishna Berura 432:6) and shofar blowing (Shulchan Aruch, OC 592:3; Mishna Berura 592:14). The Mishna Berura (676:8) cites both opinions (after the first candle, after the last) as legitimate, but the main practice (which the Pri Megadim concedes), is to recite Hnhl after lighting the first candle, accompanying the lighting of the other candles.
I did not find poskim discussing multiple lighters. Does each lighter recite Hnhl in its regular place, or is there one recitation and when? Let it be clear that regarding this far from critical practice (see Aruch Hashulchan, OC 676:8), there are many legitimate and practiced permutations on timing, and I do not mean to oppose them. We will focus on what logic based on the concepts may suggest, rather than what one should do.
The basic content of Hnhl is twofold: 1. The candles are an expression of thanks to and praise of Hashem; 2. The candles may not be used for another purpose other than looking at them. This may suggest that a main goal of Hnhl is to remind oneself/others not to benefit from the light because the candles were lit for the mitzva (see Moadim L’Simcha II:4). According to that, reciting Hnhl after the first candle could be to reduce the chance of benefitting at that stage. If so, the first person likely should recite it out loud after his first candle. However, it seems more likely that the recitation’s main purpose is to put the lighting into perspective – it is instituted to praise Hashem for saving our ancestors in their battle against the Greeks (ibid.; Minchat Shlomo II:58). According to that, it is done after the first candle to give correct perspective in the midst of the lighting. Since we do not recite it before the lighting but as we are doing it, it makes sense that everyone recite it as he lights.
Presumably, either way, we would not want to wait until the last lighting to recite Hnhl, which many people do (Harav Mordechai Willig told me he recommends saying it only after the last person lights his first candle.) The idea of waiting can be justified by the concept that the lightings constitute a joint lighting of the household. One such indication is that one candle for the household is essentially enough; another is the Rambam’s opinion of mehadrin min hamehadrin (Chanuka 4:1; admittedly, few do so) that one person lights candles corresponding to the number of people in the household.
While all permutation are fine, the following appeals to me – the first lighter recites it out loud for all; other lighters recite for themselves; at the end, all (including any non-lighters) do it festively.
Whose Pronunciation Should the Oleh Use?In my shul, the “functionaries” do the havara (custom of pronunciation) as they like. This week, the ba’al korei (=bk) did Sephardi/Israeli, while I did the berachot of my aliya in Ashkenazis. When reading the kri’ah along with him, should I have been using my havara or his?
First, we must investigate the roles of the oleh and the bk. In the gemara’s time, the oleh read the Torah aloud for the tzibbur. In Tannaic times, only the first aliya had an opening beracha and the last one had an ending beracha (Megilla 21b), and all the middle olim did was read the Torah. The Rambam (Tefilla 12:5) describes kri’at haTorah as the olim doing the laining. Other Rishonim, though, report a minhag that a bk lains, whereas the oleh makes the berachot and reads along quietly (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 141:2).
The consensus is that the bk’s reading is the halachically significant kri’at haTorah, which needs to be done carefully, as the point is for the tzibbur to hear (see Sha’ar Ephrayim 3:1; Mishna Berura 142:3). (The Maharil (Shut 23) considers the possibility that the oleh’s reading can also count for the tzibbur.)
The Rosh (Megilla 3:1), though, requires the oleh to read along with the bk, for if he does not, his berachot are l’vatala, because his beracha cannot connect to the bk’s laining but must relate to his own reading. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 139:2-3) rules that one who is unable to read from the Torah even with the bk’s help (whether due to blindness or ignorance), may not receive an aliya, but the Rama (ad loc.) allows it. The Taz (OC 141:3) argues on the need to read along, as he understands the Yerushalmi (Megilla 4:1) to say that when the one making the beracha listens to the reading, the beracha is connected to the reading. The She’eilat Ya’avetz I:75 rejects the Taz, saying that listening can connect one to a text but cannot make it count as if the listener read that text from a sefer Torah, as is required for kri’at haTorah. We generally pasken, albeit likely because of the great need, to allow even a blind person to get aliyot even though he cannot read along (Mishna Berura 139:12-13). In many, many shuls it is also clear that not everyone reads along, and it is rare for gabbaim to try to enforce it. (The She’eilat Yaavetz considers it conceivable, but probably wrong, that one who follows in the sefer Torah the words he listens to is considered as if he read them with his lips.) Thus, reading along is not a critical need.
However, it is certainly proper to follow the Rosh’s ruling that the oleh read along, which the Rosh says he should do “quietly and precisely.” This desire for preciseness should be tempered by the fact that we make no real effort to ensure such quality. We allow non- proficient readers to get aliyot, and Acharonim point out that we do not trust the oleh to read well enough for the tzibbur to fulfill the mitzva by his reading (see Mishna Berura ad loc. 10). Also, given that an oleh reads quietly, we have no way to correct him if he reads inaccurately.One can fulfill recitation-based mitzvot in a different havara from his own, which is what one should do when leading a congregation with that havara (see Igrot Moshe, OC III:5; Bemareh Habazak III:1). Therefore, it is not a problem for him to follow the bk. However, there is generally a preference to do things one’s own way for a “private mitzva” when it is not offensive to the public (see ibid.). Since it is most likely the oleh’s reading is a personal matter (the berachot are more complex – see Bemareh Habazak ibid.), one’s own havara is conceptually preferable. However, it is easier for those who do not know dikduk well to “parrot” the bk than to try to make the proper adjustments for his own havara. While his failure in that regard is unlikely to ruin the meaning, which would make it correctable if he were the bk (see Rama, OC 142:1), it is better to avoid mistakes than to use one’s havara (see ibid.). Therefore, except for olim who are proficient enough to make the adjustments consistently, it is better to follow the bk.
Pikuach Nefesh Principles, part II – Public Pikuach NefeshIntroduction: These days, the precious need to save lives is on our minds. We will now present some of the halachic and practical underpinnings of the laws that pikuach nefesh (saving a life) takes precedence over almost all of the Torah’s mitzvot and prohibitions. Now we look at the distinction between public and private pikuach nefesh decisions and contemplate some ramifications, especially regarding Shabbat.
Presentation: The following approach to the unique qualities of pikuach nefesh decisions for matters decided on a communal and especially a national level are based on the writings of our mentor, Rav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l (see Amud Hayemini, siman 17). Rav Asher Weiss presented the same basic approach in a question and answer session after the outbreak of the war.
As we mentioned last week, a danger can be too remote to count for pikuach nefesh dispensations. Let us say, for example, that the potential danger from a specific situation is only 1 out of 10,000 and that this would not qualify to justify an individual violating Shabbat. A halachically-guided police force would need to have a policy about what to do if they are called to neutralize the danger, in this or equivalent cases – do they drive there on Shabbat or refuse to do so? The policy they decide upon will be applied indefinitely, in every police station, week after week. Therefore, although any specific case is highly unlikely to cause loss of life, the cumulative effect of a decision not to drive is statistically very likely to cause loss of life. (Additionally, if criminals know the police will not to come, it will increase the occurrence of such crime, which can also endanger life.) Because the decision is made by and for public policy, not on individual basis, we include all, including future, situations that are affected by the policy decision, in the equation for the halachic decision-maker to address. This will often lead him to conclude that pikuach nefesh applies.
An apparent fallacy of this cumulative view approach is that to save a tiny number of lives, many thousands of chillulei Shabbat must be performed, whereas in the decision regarding an individual case, limited chillul Shabbat would be needed. Rav Yisraeli responded that in the face of even one life we need to save, there is no limit on the number of people or actions involved in violating Shabbat. When the decision is correctly viewed broadly, we do not distinguish between many chillulei Shabbat stemming from different situation and many stemming from one.
Rav Yisraeli also explained the idea of machshilan le’atid lavo (see Rosh Hashana 21b; Eiruvin 44b; Rambam, Shabbat 2:23). If someone went to save a life, he may violate Shabbat (to what extent is a machloket) in returning so that people will agree to save lives on future Shabbatot. Chazal deemed this as a case where we should view the future danger from the reaction to a strict halachic ruling in the present as a concern to consider in the present.
How should an individual citizen act in the realm of situations like these? Certainly, one with a public role must follow leniencies that stem from the public outlook. For example, a soldier on guard duty must not refuse to violate Shabbat to do this, even if he is correct that the chance of a dangerous infiltrator around his post are extremely low. If he did, the system would not work! Even regular citizens, for example, during Covid, were required to avoid infection as instructed, even if by age/health, they were not significantly endangered by the virus, because they were endangering others. Even regarding protecting only one’s own life, especially as part of a war effort, the rules of safety that citizens are demanded to take as part of the home front element of the war are binding and justify chillul Shabbat. However, in most cases of safety recommendations for individuals (which Halacha generally views positively), Shabbat violations are not justified if the danger involved is objectively tiny and the average person is not concerned about it (I purposely avoid examples).
Halachic Principles of Pikuach NefeshIntroduction: Over the past few weeks, we have on our minds the precious need to save lives, including by “pushing off” Shabbat to enable this. We will now present some of the halachic and practical underpinnings of the laws that pikuach nefesh (saving a life) takes precedence over almost all of the Torah’s mitzvot and prohibitions.
Principles: While the gemara (Yoma 85a-b) cites several possible derivations that pikuach nefesh supersedes Shabbat and by extension other prohibitions, the most accepted one is general: the statutes of the Torah are “to live with them” (Vayikra 18:5) and not to die due to them. The nature of the derivation makes the halacha broad, conceptually and practically, including when the need or chance of saving is not definite (ibid.; see Be’ur Halacha to OC 329:4).
The most important thing needed to make a determination of when pikuach nefesh allowances apply is expertise in evaluating the danger. Special weight is given to people whose expertise is professionally recognized, e.g., doctors (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 328:10). However, many times a rabbi, parent, or bystander will have to make a determination; knowledge and wisdom are helpful, but it is better that he err on the side of concern for the life.
There are not clear statistical guidelines as to what counts as danger. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Shut I:60) mentions in passing that a one thousandth chance of death is not halachic danger. Rav Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 32:2) presents an appealing approach in the name of Rav Auerbach. Danger is not measured actuarially. Rather, just as regarding when one is permitted to enter danger, what society considers dangerous is impactful (see Yevamot 72a), so too pikuach nefesh applies to situations that normal people consider life-threatening. This approach explains a limitation important Acharonim (see Pitchei Teshuva, Yoreh Deah 363:5; Chazon Ish, Ohalot 22:32) put on life-saving needs – danger must be one that is felt in the short-term (there are likely exceptions). The logic is that it is not normal to look well into the future, and therefore it is not justifiable to violate prohibitions over things that people usually ignore.
A major question involves steps one should take to lessen prohibitions, which we find regarding eating on Yom Kippur (Shulchan Aruch, OC 618:7), eating non-kosher foods (ibid. 9) and melacha on Shabbat (ibid. 32:15-16). The Kiryat Sefer (Ma’achalot Assurot 14) posits that the requirement to minimize violations is only Rabbinic. Many, not all, agree (see Yechaveh Da’at IV:30; Minchat Shlomo I:7). In any case, the gemara (Yoma 84b) limits efforts to minimize violations, saying that saving lives on Shabbat should be carried out by adult Jews, as opposed to having a non-Jew do it. (The latter option is often used when there is great but not life-saving need (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 328:17).) Rishonim present two reasons for this exceptional halacha (see Beit Yosef, OC 328): 1. Perhaps the non-Jew will not be diligent enough, thus increasing danger. 2. If people get used to looking for a non-Jew, if one is not readily available, they may miss the opportunity to save in time. Despite the gemara, the Rama (OC 328:12) cites an opinion that we prefer a non-Jew who will do the job well. The Taz (ad loc. 5) disagrees due to the gemara, and the Mishna Berura (328:37) is inconclusive.
Practice (in places such as Sha’arei Tzedek Hospital) is that a Jewish doctor will take overall responsibility for orchestrating and doing the saving, but when there is time for a non-Jew to do simple actions, e.g., turning on lights, that is preferred. The Rama (ibid.) likewise adds that one should try to do what he can b’shinuy (in an unusual way), to lessen Shabbat violation. On this point, there is less opposition, which makes sense according to our distinction between the macro and the micro of the efforts to save. The ability to violate Shabbat with a shinuy is valuable for encouraging a G-d-fearer who is reticent to violate Shabbat when he is not convinced of its pressing nature.
Unicycles on ShabbatIs it permitted to use a unicycle on Shabbat?
We have, in the past, discussed bicycles (forbidden) and tricycles (permitted), and the sources on the two can help us analyze the less common unicycle, which we have not found discussed by the poskim. We will refer to riding indoors or within an eiruv. Otherwise there are serious carrying issues (see Living the Halachic Process VI, C-12, regarding the similar but not identical case of a rickshaw).
When bicycles became popular, poskim discussed their use on Shabbat, and almost all forbade it, for one or more of the following reasons. 1) Uvdin d’chol – This is a weekday-like activity, for, amongst other reasons, it is a mode of transportation that takes people to places, often for purposes that are not appropriate for Shabbat (see Tzitz Eliezer VII:30). 2) Bicycles often need repairs, notably including fixing the inflatable tubes of the tires, which a rider might perform while forgetting about Shabbat (see ibid. and Yaskil Avdi III, Orach Chayim 12). 3) One might ride outside the techum Shabbat (boundaries of travel outside the city). 4) When riding on ground, one makes grooves (Shut R. Azriel Hildesheimer I:49). While Rav Yosef Chayim of Bagdad (Rav Pe’alim I, OC 25) dismissed the issues and permitted riding a bicycle (some say he later changed his mind), the consensus of both Ashkenazi (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 16:18) and Sephardi poskim (see Kaf Hachayim 403:8) and the broad minhag is to forbid it. While, in theory, Rav Ovadia Yosef did not consider the halachic issues formidable, he agreed that one should not ride a bicycle on Shabbat (see Yabia Omer, OC 55:29 and Chazon Ovadia IV, p. 40).
Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (ibid.) says that children can be allowed to ride tricycles – but not bicycles. He cites two distinctions between the two (see ftnt. 53). 1) Tricycle wheels do not have an inflatable tube. 2) A tricycle is clearly a form of recreation, as opposed to serious transportation. It is also likely that he factored in that the average tricycle rider is a child.
How should we view a unicycle? A classic unicycle shares features with a bicycle, including an inflatable tire, so reason #2 to forbid bicycles applies. However, when it is used as a hobby or for non-professional exhibition, elements of uvdin d’chol and going out of techum Shabbat would not apply. (We are not referring to use for the uncommon sport of unicycles on mountain trails, where #4 could apply.) Also, unicycles did not exist when the original bicycle minhag began, and they are not used interchangeably with a bicycle. Therefore, one could argue against extending the bicycle minhag/ruling to unicycles. In Bemareh Habazak (IX:8), albeit under circumstances that include significant need, we entertained the possibility of distinguishing even between clearly different models of bicycles, based on the different likelihood of problems in one versus the other.
On the other hand, given similarities in name and design and given that some of the explanations of the prohibition on bicycles do apply to it, it is likely that poskim would not allow it, especially since the need for it on Shabbat is rarely significant. If a child under bar mitzva wanted to use it, that would be significantly more lenient because of his lower level of obligation in mitzvot, which encourages leniency (see this column, Vayeira 5777).
My basic research indicates that “unicycles” are nowadays also used for transportation, which can make the issues for bicycles of uvdin d’chol and techum Shabbat applicable. On the other hand, that is apparently mainly with electric unicycles (which are anyway forbidden because of the electric element) that are used for transportation. It is doubtful, though, that we must be more machmir due to the existence of electric unicycles, especially since their design is totally different.
In the final analysis, we do not recommend allowing unicycle riding on Shabbat, but for someone (especially a child) who uses it only for private recreation, leniency is conceivable.
Forgetting R’tzei at Seuda ShlishitI was not sure if during Birkat Hamazon (=BHMZ) after seuda shlishit, I said R’tzei V’hachalitzenu or not. Should I have repeated BHMZ?
The rule is that one who forgets R’tzei in BHMZ on Shabbat must repeat BHMZ (Berachot 49b). Is that also true for one who is unsure (safek) if he recited it? On one hand, the requirement to mention Shabbat in Birkat Hamazon is only Rabbinic, making it logical to apply safek berachot l’hakel when there is a safek whether one said R’tzei. Indeed, regarding one who is unsure whether he recited Ya’aleh V’Yavo (=YVY) on Rosh Chodesh, the Rama (Orach Chayim 422:1) invokes safek berachot l’hakel. However, the Mishna Berura (288:16) points out that the consensus of Acharonim rejects his opinion because we can presume he left out YVY, as there is a chazaka that one who was not concentrating (a fair assumption about one who soon thereafter (see below) does not remember what he said) did not recite infrequent additions. This follows the precedent of a safek on what one said regarding rain-related recitations at the beginning of a “recitation season” (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 114:8).
Even if one does not accept the Rama, there are a few reasons to not repeat BHMZ in a case of safek if he said R’tzei (see Yabia Omer VII, OC 28): 1. A weekly addition is not as easily forgotten as a monthly one. 2. The different atmosphere of Shabbat makes it easier to remember R’tzei than YVY. 3. An extra tefilla done due to safek is not problematic (Berachot 21a), whereas for BHMZ, it is problematic. Indeed Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer ibid.) rules not to repeat BHMZ in a safek if he recited R’tzei. On the other hand, Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (57:7) accepts the Mishna Berura that we should repeat BHMZ for a safek of missing R’tzei (if the doubt arises soon after he should have said it – see Mishna Berura 422:10).
However, there is an accepted reason not to repeat BHMZ in your case. The gemara (Berachot 49b) says that one who forgets YVY in BHMZ of Rosh Chodesh, as opposed to Shabbat and Yom Tov, does not repeat BHMZ. The difference is that on Shabbat, one must eat [enough bread to make BHMZ a necessity – Tosafot ad loc.], whereas on Rosh Chodesh, he need not. The Mishna Berura (188:26) explains that Chazal instituted that only for the special days when BHMZ is necessary are the additions to BHMZ for those days essential. Although some consider it a full obligation to have bread at seuda shlishit, other serious positions do not view it as a full requirement (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 291:5). Therefore, repeating BHMZ due to a forgotten R’tzei at seuda shlishit might be unwarranted, and one must not take that chance (Shulchan Aruch, OC 188:8; Mishna Berura ibid. 31; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata ibid.). According to most, this is true even for one who is always careful to eat bread at seuda shlishit because the fact that he always bentches is a personal decision, not an objective Shabbat obligation (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 57:(20)).
It is possible to do a type of repetition. The gemara (ibid. a) says that for one who realized he left out the addition after finishing the third beracha but before starting the fourth, there is an independent beracha for each of the respective days to thank Hashem for giving us the day. The gemara mentions this even regarding Rosh Chodesh, but leaves it as an unsolved question whether the beracha on Rosh Chodesh finishes with the Baruch ata Hashem … form. This beracha applies also to seuda shlishit, and since seuda shlishit is likely supposed to be a real meal, the Mishna Berura (Be’ur Halacha to 188:8) advocates finishing it with a beracha form. However, one would not do so if he bentches after nightfall, as it is a doubt whether the additions are called for then, and a separate beracha is therefore not warranted (Be’ur Halacha to 188:10). Regarding a case that he missed this cut-off point, some allow reciting R’tzei during the section of “Harachaman” recitations, but the stronger opinion is to not do so (see Rama, OC 188:7).
Switching the Location of a MezuzaI noticed that a storage room jointly owned by several residents of our apartment building in Jerusalem does not have a mezuza. I bought a mezuza myself, and because it is nicer than some of those in my home, I thought of taking the new one for myself and moving one of my apartment’s mezuzot to the storage room. Is there any problem doing that?
Yasher koach for taking care of the mezuza. The responsibilities of multiple people can often be neglected (see Bava Batra 24b). Since you bought the mezuza yourself, unless you had in mind to formally acquire it on behalf the group, you do not need permission from anyone from a monetary perspective.
The issue has to do with the nature of the obligation to have a mezuza in a storage room. In this column (Toldot 5783), we presented a machloket Rishonim whether a storage room that is not part of a home’s daily activity requires a mezuza. Although the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 286:2) rules it is required, we accepted the opinions of several poskim (see Yalkut Yosef, YD 285:28) that there is enough doubt to recommend not reciting a beracha when attaching a mezuza to a storage room. The fact that it is jointly owned does not raise additional doubt (Chulin 135b; Shulchan Aruch, YD 286:1), unless there are non-Jewish partners (Rama ad loc.) – of course, we do not know your neighbors.
Moving a mezuza from a location where it is definitely part of a mitzva to one in which the obligation/mitzva is doubtful could potentially violate the rule of ma’alin bakodesh v’lo moridin (=mbkvlm; one is forbidden to lower the status of a sacred object). This concept is derived from p’sukim (Menachot 99a) in the context of increasing and not decreasing the honor of holy objects in the mikdash, and there are varied opinions on whether this is an authentic Torah law or a Rabbinic asmachta (see Be’ur Halacha to Orach Chayim 42:1). Additional Talmudic applications of mbkvlm vary greatly (including: a temporary kohen gadol not returning to serve as a simple kohen (Yoma 73a); increasing the number of candles as Chanuka progresses (Shabbat 21b); not using something from tefillin shel rosh for a shel yad (Menachot 34b)). It is likely that some applications represent the heart of the halacha and others are only related concepts (unpublished shiur by Rav Asher Weiss).
The following, cited by the Mishna Berura (15:1), is the closest case to ours that is discussed by classical Acharonim. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 15:1) permits moving tzitzit from one garment to another. The Pri Megadim (EA 15:2) is unsure whether it is permitted to move them from a garment with a Torah-level obligation to one with only a Rabbinic one. The Artzot Hachayim (15:5) permits it, whereas he forbids taking them from the garment of an adult to that of a child. (Their short pieces mention the possibility of bizuy (disgrace) to the tzitzit, not the concept of mbkvlm).
It is unclear whether we can extrapolate from these sources to our mezuza question. There is a machloket whether mbkvlm applies only to matters related to kedusha or even non-kedusha-related mitzva objects (see Beit Yosef, YD 259). Mezuza is in the kedusha category, whereas tzitzit are not (Megilla 26b). We also have to consider to what extent the change in the mezuza’s location impacts on its sanctity, as one can argue that wherever a mezuza is, it itself has the same kedusha irrespective of the mezuza-obligation status of the doorway (see discussion in Kvi’at Mezuza K’hilchata 14:5).
In any case, (among?) the first to write about taking a mezuza from a doorway that fully requires a mezuza to one in which it is only a safek are contemporary poskim. The very influential Rav S.Z. Auerbach (Minchat Shlomo II, 97.24) reasons that it is forbidden because of mbkvlm, as does Teshuvot V’hanagot (I:649). In the absence of anyone of such prominence disagreeing with them, it is difficult to allow the move. On the other hand, it is reasonable to argue that one should be able to rely on the majority opinion that a storage room’s mezuza obligation is definite.
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