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Learning in a CemeteryI work in a cemetery on upkeep in the area of the graves. May I listen to Torah shiurim with earphones on site?
The gemara (Berachot 18a) forbids “holding a sefer Torah and reading it, wearing tefillin on his head,” wearing tzitzit in an obvious manner, davening, and reciting Kri’at Shema in a cemetery/close to the deceased, due to the concept of lo’eg larash (literally, mocking the pauper). Chazal applied “One who mocks the pauper blasphemes his Maker” (Mishlei 17:5) to one who performs actions (especially mitzvot) in front of the deceased in a way that “reminds” them that they are now incapable of doing such special activities. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 367:3) forbids speaking words of Torah there even if not from a sefer, and there is a question whether holding a sefer Torah without reading from it is forbidden (Pitchei Teshuva ad loc. 2). The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 23) infers from the gemara’s language of tefillin on the head that tefillin shel yad are not a problem because they are not visible. He rules, therefore, that covering tefillin shel rosh (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 45:1) and tzitzit (ibid. 23:1) is sufficient.
How should we view listening to recorded Torah with earphones? In certain contexts, limud Torah refers to that which is spoken. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 47:4) rules that one does not need a birkat haTorah before learning Torah in his head, and this apparently includes reading with his eyes only from a sefer (Taz ad loc. 3; Mor U’ketzia, OC 47 may disagree). The Gra (ad loc.) disagrees because contemplating Torah is included in the mitzva. In that context, the Shaarei Teshuva (47:2) reasons that listening to divrei Torah is like speaking them; it is unclear if that applies to listening to a recording rather than a person (see Halichot Shlomo 6:5).
However, it is likely that what defines limud Torah in our context is different. It is apparently assumed that one may not read Torah with his eyes from a sefer in a cemetery because it is clear what he is doing. Presumably all would forbid one to listen to a shiur without earphones. In the other direction, we have seen that full-fledged mitzvot such as wearing tefillin may be done when the mitzva is concealed.
How noticeable must something be to be forbidden? Reciting Kri’at Shema and tefilla are forbidden even though they need not be audible or from a book (Shulchan Aruch, OC 62:4). Is that because it is usually discernable, or because it is active, which may make it worse than just leaving covered tefillin or tzitzit on? If so, is listening (and/or putting on the recording) to a shiur active, or do we view it as coming from an outside source to a passive listener?
Some sources may indicate that a mitzva can be forbidden even if not seen, if there is a visible sign that it is taking place. The Taz (OC 45:2, accepted by Mishna Berura 45:3) says that one needs to cover not only the tefillin shel yad but also the retzuot on the finger. Presumably it is not because of the retzua on the finger itself (which is not a full-fledged mitzva), but because it is a sign that he is wearing tefillin on his forearm. Similarly, the Shiltei Gibborim (45:1) says that one may not carry a sefer Torah in a cemetery even if it is fully covered because people realize what the bulge is. Would we say, then, that someone who sees you with the earphone will figure out you are listening to a shiur? Is it enough that you might be using it for something else? Would we follow what one would guess about you or about most people?
We have been unable to conclude that your situation is discernable enough to be forbidden. We add in the leniency of the Netziv (Ha’amek She’ala 14:6) that since in our days, bodies are buried deeper than ten tefachim, lo’eg larash does not apply. So we will not rule to deprive you of the opportunity of limud Torah. You should seek your employers’ agreement, to ensure you are not guilty of lowering the quality of your work or upsetting others around you. Also, try to conceal what you are doing as best as you can.
How Many Challot to Take Home?My neighbor works in a bakery, and when they have a lot of unsold challot, he often takes home dozens of them and encourages people at Maariv of Shabbat to come take as many as possible. I took what I thought I might use but not what I knew would go straight into the freezer because I thought it was hachana (preparation for after Shabbat). Is that correct?
Your reaction is understandable. After all, even taking something from one place to another can be hachana, as we see from the halacha not to bring wine on the first day of Yom Tov for Kiddush of the second day (Magen Avraham 667:3). The fact that the extra challa will be used for another Shabbat does not help because one may not prepare on one Shabbat for the needs of another one (Tehilla L’Dovid 302:6; see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 334:4).
However, there are several possible ways to justify leniency regarding the difficult to define prohibition of hachana. The Maharshag (OC 61) has a broad leniency that hachana does not apply when there is not a viable way of doing the same thing after Shabbat, which might apply here. However, there are many problems with this thesis, if taken broadly (see Kinyan Torah II:115).
In certain contexts, when an action is needed for Shabbat for a certain amount of objects, hachana does not forbid doing it to additional objects. One example is that one may wash multiple dishes even if he only needs one of them, because any one of them could be the one he decides to use (Mishna Berura 323:26). It is likely that similarly, you can bring home multiple challot, since any one of them can be the one you decide to use (there may be an indication of this in Orach Chayim 323:1).
There are other grounds for leniency, based on need. Apparently, your neighbor’s idea is to give out all the challot as soon as possible. If he is successful, then if you do not take them on Shabbat, you will lose your opportunity. Does that matter? One is allowed to move a non-muktzeh object from place to place in order to prevent it from being harmed (Shabbat 123b), and poskim explain that an action done to prevent loss is not defined as hachana (see Orchot Shabbat 22:176). It is not obvious that this applies here to your lost opportunity if the challot are not in danger but will just go to someone else. Also, you are not losing property, just not obtaining more, and in Halacha, not receiving profit often lacks the halachic weight of losing something one already has (see Magen Avraham 533:6 regarding Chol Hamo’ed).
However, in this context, it appears that the lost opportunity to receive something for free is enough to waive hachana. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 266:13) says that one may not pick up a wallet that he found in public on Shabbat, but the reason for that is muktzeh, and one may move it where he likes by kicking it (Be’ur Halacha ad loc.) In order to explain why this would not be forbidden due to hachana, we must apparently have to assume that it is due to the loss together with the fact that moving an object is not a serious action requiring toil (see analysis of Machzeh Eliyahu 58). In our case, the situation is in some ways more lenient than there, in that here it is not clear to the observer that the challot will not be eaten (see Chayei Adam II:153:6).
In the case that your neighbors will not take all of the challot, there is a different type of damaging situation that justifies action. That is that the challa may need to be discarded, which is a situation we try to avoid (see Living the Halachic Process VI, G-9). Alternatively, the well-intentioned bakery worker may have the inconvenience of having a bothersome amount of challa in his house, making helping him of immediate value.
While it is permitted to acquire food presents one might eat on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 306:15), it is a problem if he is planning not to eat it. Therefore, if there are loaves that you are confident you will not eat, you should have in mind not to acquire them until after Shabbat (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 29:29).
When to Top the Bagel?At a brit, I said Hamotzi on a bagel, and after taking a bite, put on cream cheese and lox. A friend corrected me, claiming that Halacha requires that the first bite, which connects to the beracha, should be done when it is in its optimal form, so that after the beracha, one should cut open the bagel, put on the toppings, and then eat. Could that be?
We attribute great religious significance to berachot (see Bava Kama 30a), and therefore try to do things the best way, even though almost no “mistake” here would be a real problem. The competing values involved here make it necessary to appraise net gains and losses. Your system (not putting toppings until after eating) maximizes two values: 1. Making Hamotzi on a complete “loaf” (Berachot 39b; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 167:1). 2. Minimizing any break between the beracha and the eating (Shulchan Aruch ibid.). Your friend’s system prioritizes #1 and: 3. The bread should be in an optimal form when taking the first bite (ibid. 5). Let us look at each rule and the interaction between them.
When one chooses on what bread to make a beracha, its being “whole” is one of the most important factors (Shulchan Aruch, OC 168:1). Prioritizing this versus minimizing the break between the beracha and eating may be a machloket of Amoraim. Rabbi Chiya (Berachot 39a) says that one should break off from the loaf the piece of bread he will eat as he finishes the beracha to minimize the time lapse (Tzelach ad loc.), even though the beracha does not finish with a whole loaf. We pasken like Rava (ibid.), who instructs keeping it whole until the beracha is complete even though this requires a small break to sever the piece after the beracha. It is a worthwhile delay to put some salt or spread on the bread before eating (Shulchan Aruch, OC 167:5). If the bread is of low quality or seasoning, one should put on salt; if it is of a high level, this is unnecessary, but it is permitted (Mishna Berura 167:29) despite the short, food-related break.
This does not mean that we do not care about such breaks between the beracha and eating. Actually, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 1) instructs to cut the loaf partially before the beracha to save the extra time (I estimate 3-4 seconds) to cut the loaf to that point (Mishna Berura 167:4). In order to not lose the wholeness, semi-cut sections must be such that if one lifts the bread from the smaller part, the weight of the heavier part will not cause it to sever. This still somewhat compromises the completeness of the unit, as we see that on Shabbat, where the wholeness is a requirement of lechem mishneh, we do not cut to that extent (Rama, OC 167:1). Still this time-saving technique is deemed worthwhile. While these few seconds would not invalidate the beracha, it is best to avoid them.
While we have seen that improving the taste of the bread can justify a break, your friend expanded the rule in two ways: 1. By not sufficing with a little salt or sauce but adding all the bagel’s toppings you are planning to eat during the meal. 2. By extending the 3-4 second break to add salt to 20-30 seconds for cutting and spreading cream cheese and lox all over the bagel. I have not found a source nor see compelling logic to make these extensions at the expense of waiting. The Mishna Berura (167:27, 29) also implies not to allow such a break, as he mentions allowing a longer break only between netilat yadayim and the beracha. We thus reject your friend’s approach and see yours as the straightforward one.
One benefit that your friend’s approach offers relates to the preference to eat a reasonable amount of bread soon after the beracha (Mishna Berura 167:15). Some people initially have a tiny piece of bagel and then go to get lox and perhaps strike up a conversation before eating “for real.” But in this case, the solution with the benefits and no serious drawbacks is to top your bagel with it cut partially (see above) before the beracha. Then, the beracha is on a whole bagel, at its tastiest, and there is no break. But your way is fine too.
Birkat Kohanim by Non-KohanimIs it clear that a non-kohen (=zar) may bless his children or others with the blessings of Birkat Kohanim (=BK)?
This is a good question, conceptually. Concerning practice, we do not reject broadly followed minhagim, certainly when practiced by righteous and knowledgeable people. However, it is fine to inquire about the justification.
First, let us see the basis for your question. The gemara (Ketubot 24b), in discussing whether the fact one does nesiat kapayim (BK) is proof that he is a kohen, posits that an issur aseh (prohibition derived from a positive statement) precludes a non-kohen from doing BK. Rashi learns this from, “So shall you bless Bnei Yisrael” (Bamidbar 6:23) – “you (kohanim) and not zarim.” On the other hand, a gemara (Shabbat 118b) tells of R. Yossi who said that even though he was not a kohen, he would listen to his friends if they told him to go up with the kohanim. Tosafot (ad loc.) comments that a zar does not seem prohibited to do BK, except for the matter of an unwarranted beracha.
The Rama/Darchei Moshe (Orach Chayim 128:1) suggests the following reconciliation between the sources. A zar may not do BK without kohanim but is permitted to join them. This approach is not widely accepted (Mishna Berura 128:6).
Acharonim (including Be’ur Halacha to 128:1) ask how may a zar bless his children or friends with the same words of BK, as you asked. We will survey the major answers given.
The Magen Avraham (128:1) and Taz (128:2) suggest another way to understand the derasha excluding non-kohanim – it is not that a zar may not give these blessings, but that he is not required to do so (the matter depends on two opinions in Ketubot 24b). The Pnei Yehoshua (Ketubot 24b) posits that a zar is forbidden to do BK only in the Beit Hamikdash. There are significant questions on this approach (see Keren L’David, OC 24)
Most of the answers recognize the potential of a problem but limit it. The Bach (OC 128) posits that BK is forbidden for a zar only if he raises his hands during it, as kohanim must do to fulfill BK (Sota 38a based on Vayikra 9:22). Otherwise, the zar is not acting like the kohen is supposed to. Is it then okay to bless our children with our hands extended to their heads? The Torah Temima (Bamidbar 6:131) relates that the Gra would only put one hand on the recipient of the beracha so as not to violate the prohibition for the zar, which is with two hands. Rav Yaakov Emden (Siddur Beit Yaakov, p. 153a) says that there is nothing wrong with using two hands. It is unclear if extending hands to the head of the recipient, which was done generally for blessing people (see Bereishit 48:14; Bamidbar 27:23), counts as nesiat kapayim (see Beit Baruch 32:8).
Some say (see Dirshu 128:10) that since Birkat Kohanim is supposed to be done as part of tefilla (Sota 38b), there is no prohibition if zarim do it in a different context. The Be’ur Halacha (ibid.) does not believe that this helps. Since the prohibition for the zar is from the Torah and the requirement of tefilla for BK is only Rabbinic, the prohibition must exist independent of tefilla.
The Magen Gibborim (Shiltei Gibborim 128:2) says that a zar violates this prohibition only if he intends to do so as a fulfillment of the mitzva of BK, not if he does it because these are nice blessings to bestow on a child or friend. (This is more likely if one needs intent to fulfill a mitzva (Ktav Sofer, OC 14; Be’ur Halacha ibid.)). As long as the one blessing does not make a beracha prior to reciting the p’sukim of BK, it should be quite clear that he is doing it independent of the mitzva of BK, just wishing well to someone he cares about (Kaf Hachayim, OC 128:14).
One might want to be machmir and use one hand for blessing his child (there may be kabbalistic preferences one way or the other – beyond our scope) or have in mind explicitly that he is not doing it as a mitzva of BK. However, I plan to use two hands, like most fathers and as I have always received and given, and feel that my intention is clear enough.
The Logic Behind Marit AyinI don’t see consistency in how marit ayin is applied. There are cases that are forbidden where the likelihood of mistake seems remote, while cases I view as more problematic are permitted. Can you explain why that is?
We will attempt a partial overview of the concept marit ayin, focusing on elements that help understand the phenomenon that troubles you.
The laws of marit [ha]ayin forbid “Reuven” from doing otherwise permitted action A when people may think he did the similar B, when B is forbidden. Marit ayin is based on two concerns: 1. People who know B is forbidden may suspect that Reuven sinned. One must avoid chashad (people believing he sinned), as the Torah says: “You shall be “clean” [in the eyes] of Hashem and Israel” (Bamidbar 32:22, as understood by mishna, Shekalim 3:2). 2. People will think that if Reuven did B, it must be permitted. Rashi in some places (including Keritut 21b) cites #1 as the reason and in others (including Avoda Zara 12a) cites #2.
Rashi’s dichotomy is among the indications that the two reasons complement each other. In some cases, Chazal may have felt that one of the reasons did not apply but the other did. For example, people do not often suspect a large group of people of openly sinning (see Rosh Hashana 24b). Regarding a marit ayin prohibition on something that looks like bowing down to an idol (Avoda Zara 12a), it is unlikely someone would think it is permitted to do so.
So when should we say marit ayin? If one thinks it is very likely his actions will be misunderstood, creating violations or chashad, he should refrain from the action. However, what if there is only a modest chance? For such cases, we look to Chazal and poskim for guidance. Chazal forbade a few dozen cases due to marit ayin. Subsequently, it remains forbidden even when in a particular case the chance of mistake and/or chashad is small (e.g., one lives in a very religious, knowledgeable, and trusting community). If the whole basis for the prohibition disappears, we generally suspend the prohibition. For example, the gemara (Avoda Zara 20b) says that one must not rent out his bathhouse to a non-Jew to operate on Shabbat because usually a bathhouse’s workers were wage-earning employees (forbidden on Shabbat). However, in a society in which they are commonly profit-sharers, it is permitted (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 243:2). A minority of poskim equate marit ayin more closely to other Rabbinic prohibitions in regard to the prohibition continuing after the reason no longer applies (Pleiti 12:2).
There is a fundamental machloket, crucial to your question, as to whether post-Talmudic poskim can create a marit ayin prohibition in the type of case in which Chazal likely would have. The Kneset Hagedola forbids using matza meal to coat food because it looks like it is made with flour (he knew of a case of incorrect “copying”). The Pri Chadash (OC 461:2) argues that we cannot make our own Rabbinical prohibitions (and that isolated mistakes cannot be avoided).
We do find some post-Talmudic marit ayin prohibitions, but many of them follow a common construct. The gemara (Kritut 21b) forbids eating collected fish “blood” because it resembles forbidden (animal) blood. The Rashba (III:257) extends this concept (as opposed to creating a new marit ayin prohibition) to not combining mother’s milk with meat. Poskim extend the idea of confusing types of food to not putting “almond milk” into meat (see Rama YD 87:3 and Shach ad loc. 6 about whether it applies to poultry, which is only “Rabbinic meat”). Regarding these extensions of a Talmudic marit ayin prohibition, we care about what is and is not confusing in our times/places. Therefore, Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer VI, YD 8) says that synthetic milk is common enough for it not to be suspicious to serve it with coffee after a meat meal; we do the same with pareve ice cream.
In summary, the main reason marit ayin is not always applied according to our logic is because we usually do so by comparison to Talmudic precedents and not just contemporary society.
Throwing Out LeftoversIt pains me to throw out leftovers. Often, after a few days, it is clear that no one will eat any more (although they are still edible), and my family wants me to throw them out. We asked a rabbi, who told us to put them in a bag
First we will discuss bal tashchit, the prohibition to destroy things that should be used. The classical formulation (Rambam, Melachim 6:10) is of a destructive action, but cases of wasting a usable resource, e.g., throwing out a salvageable cup of wine (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 170:22) are included. But the halacha, even regarding the most severe case of bal tashchit, cutting down fruit trees, is very balanced and practical – certain things are just not worthwhile to keep (see Bava Kama 91b; Living the Halachic Process VI, G-13).
It is inappropriate and arguably forbidden to make ridiculous amounts of food and throw out the leftovers at meal’s end. However, making a little extra on purpose (appropriate for a mother or hostess) and sometimes having more leftovers than expected so that you do not succeed in finishing it, is not wasteful or forbidden. (Feeling compelled to finish to the point of eating unhealthily is certainly misguided.) Norms in society or segments therein and circumstances likely impact on what is considered illegitimately wasteful. Therefore while some view it is bal tashchit for a caterer to throw out large amounts of food at the end of an affair (Shevet Halevi IV:225), we agree with the approach that when there is no reasonably easy alternative (we encourage positive planning), it is not forbidden (Etz Hasadeh 35:(14) in the name of Rav Elyashiv).
It is standard practice to protect “foods” with kedusha before placing them in a garbage. Examples include: teruma (see Derech Emunah, Terumot 2:(399)); hafrashat challa (see Minchat Yitzchak IV:13; kedushat shvi’it (see Yalkut Yosef, Shvi’it 15:13). Regular foods do not have “kedusha.” K’zayit-sized pieces of bread do not have kedusha per se, but their “higher status” makes it forbidden to “disgrace it” even if it does not cause “damage,” which does not apply to other foods (Berachot 50b).
Some claim that throwing food in the garbage is doing something active to make it unfit to eat, and therefore one should not do so even if he will clearly anyway not be eating it or giving to another. In some ways, it is more stringent than teruma or challa, where we have an interest in prompt disposal to prevent someone from mistakenly eating it. Here it is possible to wait for it to deteriorate until it is inedible. (Indeed, Mishneh Halachot 15:64 says that putting food in a bag is not enough because the bag will not hold up in the garbage truck.) But this is not the minhag.
Etz Hasadeh (35:(13)) cites a few contemporary poskim who require or recommend putting the food in a bag before throwing it into the garbage. But this too would be a new stringent practice, representing a big jump from arrangements to avoid marginal bizuy, which in the past were reserved for holy objects. It is best if we can provide logic and precedent to support the very broad minhag to throw leftovers directly into a garbage. The main idea is that normal practices of civilized people are not a disgrace. For example, while it is a disgrace to rub food on the skin instead of eating it, when it is normal (e.g., olive oil), it is permitted (Be’ur Halacha to 171:1). It is not that the need overcomes the problem, but that the fact that it is normal precludes its being disgraceful (ibid.). Also, we do put bags in our kitchen garbages, and the contents are mainly leftover food and used disposables, which are removed before decomposing occurs. Therefore, when there are not unseemly things inside, it is quite redundant (and a waste of non-biodegradable bags) to put each set of leftovers in a separate bag.
You, however, received a p’sak with a basis (even though we view it as overly machmir), and you are bound by it (Rama, Yoreh Deah 242:31).
“Baruch Hu U’varuch Shemo” in ZimunIt is unclear to me whether one is supposed to say “Baruch hu u’varuch shemo” at the end of zimun and if so, who is supposed to recite it. What is proper?
The first halachic code that mentions the phrase Baruch hu u’varuch shemo (meaning that we “bless” Hashem and His Name) is the Tur in two places. It is not found in the gemara or the halachic works based on it (Rambam, Rif, Rosh). In Orach Chayim 124, the Tur cites an oral statement of his father (the Rosh) to recite the phrase upon hearing all berachot, in line with the statement that Moshe taught Bnei Yisrael to praise Hashem whenever he mentioned His Name (Yoma 37a based on Devarim 32:3). The Shulchan Aruch (OC 124:5) brings this as the halacha. (It is not a full obligation, and therefore it should not be said when it would harm a beracha - Mishna Berura 124:22.)
The second place the Tur mentions Baruch hu u’varuch shemo is regarding zimun (OC 192), as part of his text at the end of the mezamen’s final recitation. The Maharshal (see Taz 192:1) considers it a misprint, and Rav Yosef Karo ignores it in both the Beit Yosef and the Shulchan Aruch. However, other of the Tur’s commentaries (Bach and Perisha) find earlier sources (Rokeach and Avudrohom (with a different text)).
We found three explanations for the rationale to recite Baruch hu u’varuch shemo in zimun. The Bach views it as an extension of the Rosh/Tur’s idea of blessing Hashem upon hearing His Name in a beracha. Therefore, he reasons, it applies only in a zimun of ten, when His Name (i.e., Elokeinu) is used. The Bach adds that this formulation is particularly appropriate here because the same pasuk (Devarim 32:3) is a source for saying Baruch hu u’varuch shemo and for the requirement of zimun in general (Berachot 45a).
The Darchei Moshe (OC 192:2) posits that the Tur intended that it create a desirable break between the zimun and Birkat Hamazon (the basic idea and different opinions about a short recitation between beracha groups is found in Shulchan Aruch and Rama, OC 215:1). The Eliya Rabba (192:2, see also Pri Megadim 192, MZ 1) connects this with a minhag which very few people practice today – that the zimun responders answer Amen to the mezamen’s “Baruch she’achalnu …” (see opinions in Magen Avraham, introduction to siman 192). Amen is their break; the mezamen’s break is Baruch hu u’varuch shemo. According to this, since we do not answer Amen, the responders might want to say Baruch hu u’varuch shemo as well.
The Perisha (OC 192:2) and the Maharal (Netivot Olam, Netiv Ha’avoda 18) connect Baruch hu u’varuch shemo to the idea of adding on to one’s counterpart’s blessing (see Taz, Yoreh Deah 242:5). Here, every time the response switches sides, something should be added – the responders add “… u’v’tuvo chayinu”; the mezamen adds “Baruch hu u’varuch shemo.” If so, of course it would be only the mezamen who recites it, as it sounds from the language of the Tur.
In addition to the Shulchan Aruch not bringing the minhag of saying Baruch hu u’varuch shemo, the Rama (despite his suggested explanation in Darchei Moshe) does not believe it is worthwhile, nor does the Taz (OC 192:1). The Magen Avraham (ibid.) and the Mishna Berura (192:4) cite both the practice of saying and of not saying, and view the former as more prevalent. It is hard for me to say which is more common today. For Sephardim, the Yalkut Yosef does not mention Baruch hu u’varuch shemo regarding zimun. The Kaf Hachayim (OC 192:8) discusses the counter indications and says that due to lack of clarity, it is better to refrain. The reason to not welcome additional nice words could be out of opposition to post-Talmudic additions. It is also possible that, between zimun and Birkat Hamazon, it is forbidden to break for unnecessary things (see dilemma of K’tzot Hashulchan 45:(35)).In conclusion, if one does not have a minhag one way or another, the stronger option is to not recite Baruch hu u’varuch shemo, at least if there is there are not ten for the zimun.
Automatic Commerce in Cryptocurrency on ShabbatI joined a “stock exchange” for crypto coins, in which I can buy and sell, and have a linked service that enables me to create “bots” to find and carry out deals 24/7, according to parameters I set. If I do not shut it off for Shabbat (which is easy), it will almost certainly find profitable trades. May I let the bots run on Shabbat?
Let us first discuss the easier issues. There is no problem of s’char Shabbat (earnings on Shabbat) because buying and selling is not considered sachar (Noda B’Yehuda II, Orach Chayim 26; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 28:51). These transactions do not include marit ayin concerns. While your bots might be doing a deal with a Jew who is actively involved on Shabbat, there should not be a problem of lifnei iver (facilitating sin) for a combination of factors. These include (among other factors): you are focusing on the majority (non-Jews); it is unclear if a Jew will violate Shabbat and if yes, he would do so knowingly; he can do a transaction with someone else (see Bemareh Habazak, V:37). Although your machine is involved in Rabbinic electrically-based and not-in-the-spirit-of-Shabbat activities (metzo cheftzecha – see Yeshayahu 58:13), you would not be personally involved.
The complicated issue is that you plan for transactions to take place on your behalf on Shabbat. The gemara (Beitza 37a) says that donating to hekdesh is forbidden on Shabbat because it can lead to commercial activity (which thus must itself be forbidden). Rashi (ad loc.) explains that buying/selling is forbidden either because of metzo cheftzecha or out of concern one might write in the process. Neither of those concerns would seem to apply when a person set up everything before Shabbat and the deal took effect without his involvement on Shabbat (Shut K’tav Sofer, OC 46). In fact, the Magen Avraham (339:8) says that while one may not do a pidyon haben on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, OC 339:4), the reason he may not give the money to the kohen before Shabbat and have it take effect on Shabbat is only that he would be unable to make the beracha at either time.
However, Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Shut I:159) infers otherwise from two versions of the preparation of an alternative wife for the kohen gadol lest his wife die on Yom Kippur, which would harm his avoda. The Yerushalmi (Yoma 1:1) says that although it is usually forbidden to marry on Shabbat, here it was permitted if his wife died. The Bavli (Yoma 13a-b) describes a complicated arrangement. R. Akiva Eiger argues that the fact that they did not use the simplest situation – to marry a woman before Yom Kippur to take effect only on condition his present wife would die – shows that an acquisition on Shabbat is forbidden even if it was prepared beforehand. So too here, even if the bots do the work, your transaction on Shabbat seems to be forbidden.
We have leaned toward leniency in some of this concept’s modern applications. First, while other prominent poskim agree with R. Akiva Eiger, several do not (see opinions in She’arim Hametzuyanim Bahalacha 80:64). Igrot Moshe (OC III:44) deflected the proofs in both directions and advised being strict out of doubt (even though this is a Rabbinic issue). Also, the stringency’s unclear logic and thus parameters led to distinctions (see Chelkat Yaakov OC 67 regarding vending machines; Bemareh Habazak V:36 regarding commercial internet sites open on Shabbat). One of the distinctions, which might or might not apply here, is if one did not purposely set the transaction for Shabbat. Another applies especially well to cryptocurrency – if the acquisition takes effect on something ethereal, as opposed to a specific object. The Avnei Nezer (OC 51) explains the mechanism of the prohibition as the action done before Shabbat relating to the result on Shabbat. So one might claim that since the transaction was done by the bot on Shabbat, you are not linked to any action of the transaction, so it would be permitted.
In short, there are enough grounds for leniency to permit you to keep the bots on over Shabbat.
Adding Salt to Hot Food on ShabbatIn our home, the health concerns of some and the taste concerns of others clash in regard to salt in our food. If I cook with less salt, may people add salt to their soup or cholent on Shabbat?
We will discuss the issues that impact the different permutations of the question.
The gemara (Shabbat 42b) cites three opinions regarding cooking salt in comparison to cooking other spices (which occurs in a kli rishon but not a kli sheini). 1. It occurs only in a kli rishon on the fire; 2. It is like other spices; 3. It occurs even in a kli sheini. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 318:9) rules like the lenient opinion (only forbidden on the fire), which would solve your problem. However, the Rama cites the opinion that salt cooks even in a kli sheini and praises those who are machmir. Therefore, we will seek other grounds for leniency.
First, we must survey the three modes of salt production: 1. mining underground; 2. cooking seawater so that only salt remains; 3. evaporating seawater in the sun and drying the moist salt with hot air. #3 is the standard in Israel.
If #2 is done, we can apply the rule that the prohibition of cooking does not apply to solid foods that were already cooked. This does not guarantee permissibility, as some claim that since salt becomes liquefied during its usage, it is treated like a liquid, for which recooking is likely forbidden (see Mishna Berura 318:71). Even regarding definite liquids, the prohibition might only be a chumra (Igrot Moshe, OC IV:74.5, based on Rama OC 318:15). Therefore, regarding such salt, the case for leniency is very strong.
If system #3 is used, the case is arguably weaker because hot air accomplishes baking as opposed to cooking, after which Ashkenazim generally forbid cooking (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama ibid. 5). On the other hand, this too is a matter of machloket (many Sephardim do not view cooking as a problematic addition for a baked food – see Yalkut Yosef, OC 318:61), and the minhag is to be stringent regarding a kli rishon and kli sheini, but lenient in a kli shlishi (Mishna Berura 318:47).
What are the statuses of the cholent and the soup? There is an unresolved machloket whether food that was ladled from a pot to a bowl is considered a kli sheini or kli shilishi (ibid. 87). If the cholent contains chunks of food and not much gravy, it is considered a davar gush (a food that comes in a chunk). There is yet another unresolved machloket whether a davar gush sitting in a kli sheini is treated like a kli sheini, or perhaps a kli rishon because the walls of a kli sheini do not cool a solid like a liquid (ibid. 45). The machmirim treat a davar gush like a kli rishon even in a third utensil (Orchot Shabbat 1:63). Not only is it difficult to combine all the stringencies (salt cooks off the flame, cooking after baking is forbidden, we are machmir by davar gush), if it is dry, it is baking, not cooking.
Regarding significant liquid, we posited in the past that a mixture of liquid and chunks (e.g., vegetable soup, liquidy cholent) is not treated as a davar gush. Therefore, cholent ladled into a serving bowl and soup in bowls are a safek of kli sheini or kli shlishi, which are both permitted for baked things (Mishna Berura 318:45).
If the salt has not been heated, leniency would have to rely on the (main) opinion that salt does not cook easily or the possibility it is in a kli shlishi, in which case there may never be problems of cooking (Igrot Moshe, OC, IV 74:15). Even the stringent about kli shlishi would probably permit if for salt (see Orchot Shabbat 1:41). When there is a safek between kli sheini and kli shlishi, it is slightly more problematic.Therefore, while we cannot claim unanimity in all the permutations, in the great majority of cases, the consensus is to permit putting salt in utensils with hot food other than the cooking pot (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 1:58; Igrot Moshe ibid. 5 & 17). In borderline cases, helping establish workable solutions for family health is a factor that strengthens the case for leniency.
Giving Ma’aser Years LaterOver the years, I have received cash gifts for birthdays, bar mitzva, etc. and never gave ma’aser kesafim (=mk) from them. I would like to do so now but do not remember the exact amounts I received. What should I do?
Indeed, the standard ruling is that in most cases, cash gifts are subject to giving mk (see Tzedaka U’mishpat 5:5).
The basic question, whether one maintains a responsibility to take mk on “income” from which he did not take at the appropriate time, arises in different ways. For one who never gave ma’aser, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 249:1, based on Yerushalmi Peah 1:1) prescribes: “The first year, from the principle, subsequently … from what he earned every year.” (The Shulchan Aruch discusses a fifth, the maximum rate of giving tzedaka, but the same is true for those who give the “average rate” of mk (Shach ad loc. 2).) Thus, whatever remains in liquid accounts, no matter how he received the funds, would be tithed with the principle, and what was spent is “water under the bridge.”
This is not a full proof that we do not look back to the past, especially if we consider the likely origin of mk. While some view it as a Torah-level law (see Tosafot, Ta’anit 9a), most hold that it is only a Rabbinic requirement and, more likely, non-binding advice on how to properly fulfill the mitzva of giving tzedaka (see Pitchei Teshuva, YD 331:12). When one accepts the practice, it becomes an obligation (ibid.), and it makes sense that it starts with the aforementioned clean-the-slate system.
What happens if one who was already practicing mk failed to tithe some income? The Tashbetz (II:131), focusing on money that had been spent, compares this to one who ate food slated to be given to a kohen or the poor. The gemara (Chulin 130b) says that in such a case, he is not required to pay because there is no specific recipient with rights, and it is only an act of the righteous to do so. Here too, once the money is spent, one need not donate money in its place.
The K’tzot Hachoshen (212:6) views mk differently. He argues that unlike produce to be donated, which applies to specific objects, mk is a matter of accounting how much to give, from any asset. The obligation cannot be “eaten,” and there seems no reason for it to disappear over time.
Tzedaka U’mishpat (5:14) cites both opinions without a clear preference. It is difficult to understand the Tashbetz’s logic, as indeed: why should the obligation disappear? Also, when would this occur? Perhaps, one question answers the other.
Poskim discuss making mk calculations at given intervals, which is important according to our ruling that expenses and losses are deducted from profits (Chavot Yair 224). So one needs a cutoff point to know which losses can be deducted from which profits (ibid.). The Noda B’yehuda (II, YD 198) demonstrates that the relevant pasuk and the halacha we cited from the Shulchan Aruch (YD 249:1) hint at a year as a likely mk-calculation period, and the Chavot Yair (ibid.) posits that erev Rosh Hashana is a logical time to do so. Once there is an idea of a periodic accounting, the Tashbetz can view whatever was passed over at that time as relegated to history.
Still, there are several reasons for you to give mk on the past: The K’tzot Hachoshen is likely correct. The Tashbetz says it is praiseworthy to give and you seem interested to do so. If you have not yet spent the money, the Tashbetz might not apply.
As far as estimating amounts, halachic logic would have it that it suffices to give only that which you know you “owe” (Shevet Halevi V:133 disagrees). After all, mk is likely Rabbinic or less and when you accepted upon yourself, you may/should have considered (which is impactful - see Shut Chatam Sofer, YD 231) that you would sometimes forget income and do not want to be liable for what you do not remember. (Many are also more stringent in the system of calculating than may be necessary.) On the other hand, those who can afford to give tzedaka generously are promised reward (see Ta’anit 9a).
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