Hilchot Shabbat: Havdala

13 01 2012

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Shimon Isaacson

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim whether havdalah is d’orayta or d’rabbanan. The majority of Rishonim rule that it is d’orayta. Are woman obligated in havdalah? Is havdalah a mitzvah of Shabbat or of motzai Shabbat?

Since women are obligated in the negative commandments of shamor, they are also obligated in the positive commandments of zachor. According to the Rambam, havdalah is part of the mitzvah of Kiddush and women are obligated. According to the Orchot Chaim, women are only obligated in kiddush. Havdalah is a time bound mitzvah of motzai Shabbat from which woman are exempt. Based on this, the Rama rules that women should not make Havdalah for themselves.

Some Rishonim argue that although havdalah is d’rabbanan, women are still obligated because it was meant by the sages to be a part of the mitzvah of kiddush. The Mishna Berura cites the Bach who asks, if the Orchot Chaim is correct and woman aren’t obligated why can’t they make Havdalah anyway? In fact the Magen Avraham and the Bach rule that women can make havdalah. How then do we understand the Rama?

With havdalah there’s no maaseh (action). The blessing itself is the mitzvah. Therefore the Rama rules that women shouldn’t say it. Preferably, a man should intend to recite it for a woman when he says havdala for himself. The man should not say havdalah earlier because if in fact a woman isn’t obligated, he may be reciting it in vain. In principle, a woman is obligated and therefore if there’s no man the woman should say it herself.

The Biur Halacha questions whether a woman should say the blessing of Bori meorei haish since it is essentially a mitzvah of motzai Shabbat which women aren’t obligated in. Therefore, it may be an interruption between Borei Pri Hagefen and Havdalah. The common practice is that women do say Borei meorei haish.

There’s a Kabbalisticsource that mentions that women shouldn’t drink the wine of havdalah. Rav Meltzer explains that Borei meorei ha’aish may qualify as an interruption before Borei pri hagefen. Therefore, a woman shouldn’t drink the wine. However, the custom is that if she makes Havdalah for herself, she does drink from it.





Hilchot Shabbat: Final Halachot of Havdala class #17

22 11 2011
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Shimon Isaacson 

Community Kiddush #9 Havdala is recited twice, the first time in Maariv with the blessing of Ata Chonantanu and again over a cup of wine.

Why do we say Havdala in the blessing of Atah Chonen? The Yerushalmi in Brachot says, “Im ein da’at havdala minayin.” Without intellect, it is impossible to distinguish between different things. To make Havdala, one needs a measure of intellect. On Shabbat we are focused solely on spirituality. We don’t ask for any physical needs. Havdala serves as a sanction to begin working again. Therefore, Ata Chonantanu is inserted before the first supplication of mercy in order to allow us to engage in further requests.

If you forget Ata Chonantanu, you don’t have to recite it again, if you will be reciting Havdala over wine. If you didn’t say either of them, you must recite the prayer in Shachrit. The Mishna Berura cites the Magen Avraham that the makeup prayer would be the second prayer. Rav Akiva Eiger disagrees. Ata Chonantanu should be inserted in the first prayer because one needs its sanction to engage in further supplications.

One should not eat, drink, or do work before Havdala. If you are in the middle of a bread meal that you started before the end of Shabbat you can continue eating without reciting Havdala, but if it is just a fruit or cake meal, you must stop before bein hashmoshot, thirty minutes before the stars appear. Once Shabbat ends, one should say ‘Baruch hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol’ and then work is permitted. Women who generally don’t daven Maariv should be careful to say this. Why can’t we eat or do work before Havdala? On some level it’s still Shabbat, until it is formally concluded. In addition, Chazal wanted to be sure we wouldn’t forget to make Havdala.

The cup for Havdala must not be pagum (flawed). It is filled until the wine overflows, showing our confidence in Hashem’s beneficence.

The Mishna Berura mentions that women shouldn’t drink the wine because it is possible that they are not obligated in the blessing over the flame and there’s a hefsek (break) between Hagafen and the drinking.

Many poskim maintain that one cannot fulfill Havdalah over the phone. Rav Moshe ruled that where there is no choice, it is permitted.

We smell sweet smelling spices to give us a lift after losing our neshama yeteirah, (extra soul). According to the Mishna Berura, one should not make a blessing on the spices if one can’t smell.

One should use an avuka, a candle with multiple wicks for the blessing on the flame. Most poskim do not consider electricity to be aish (fire), but some rule that an incandescent bulb does fall under this category.

There is a custom to escort the Shabbat out with a bread meal, called Melave Malka. One should eat as soon after Shabbat as possible so that it’s noticeable that it’s not just a regular meal. If one is very full then one should at least eat fruit or mezonot. Our sages tell us that the luz bone is nourished with the food of Melave Malka. The resurrection of the dead will begin from this bone. Melave Malka highlights the sanctity of Shabbat. Shabbat is not just a one day affair. It’s a reservoir of holiness that flows over into the coming week.





Community Kiddush #9

28 10 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Shimon Isaacson

Community Kiddush #9 There is a disagreement between the Gra and the Gaonim regarding what constitutes Kiddush b’makom seudah (the obligation to eat a meal after Kiddush). The Gaonim rule that wine or any Mezonot food is enough, while the Gaon maintains that it must be a bread meal. The custom is to be stringent at the Friday night Kiddush, which is a Torah commandment, and lenient during the day Kiddush, which is a Rabbinic commandment. The Shulchan Aruch and the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchato concur with the Gaonim. However, if you make Kiddush during the day on mezonot in shul, you haven’t fulfilled Kiddush according to the Gra. Therefore, Rav Soloveitchik suggests that Kiddush be repeated again at home before washing in order to designate the meal as a seudat Shabbat. Rav Moshe agrees with this practice.

The Mishne Berura notes that one should eat at least a kezayit (an olive size measurement) of mezonot, which is enough to make an Al Hamichaya (after blessing). Any mezonot will do, as long as it is from chameshet minei dagan (five grains). On Pesach, one who does not eat mezonot foods made from matza flour should drink a maleh lugma (a mouthful)of winein addition to a reviit (3.3 ounces) in place of the Mezonot.

The Shulchan Aruch rules that we should be careful to eat immediately after Kiddush.

There are a number of laws related to Kiddush b’makom seudah (making Kiddush in the place where one will eat). One big room is considered one place. If you are going from one room to the next, there are opinions that hold that if you can see from the first room into the second, and you intend to eat in the second room, it’s permitted. Going from one house to another should be avoided. If there is no choice, the Mishna Berura rules that you should at least be able to see into the second house.

During the day Kiddush, there’s a custom to say the prefatory verses of V’shamru and Zachor, but according to the Rambam it’s sufficient to just recite the blessing Borei Pri Hagafen. The role of Kiddush is to establish the meal as a seduat Shabbat. We don’t recite Kiddush at the third meal (although the Rambam does recommend it), because the very fact that there’s an extra meal indicates that it’s a special seudat Shabbat.





The Essence of Shabbos

11 07 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen

The Essence of Shabbos

Hashem told the Jewish people at the time of matan Torah, “I have a a precious gift in my treasure house.  I will give it to you on condition that you accept the Torah.” The Jews asked what it was and Hashem answered, “Olam habah.” They then said, “Show us an example of this,” and Hashem replied, “Shabbat.” Indeed the Mishna in Avot tells us, Shabbath is 1/60th of olam habah.  If we observe this day properly we merit entering a world of eternal truth.

Vayichulu hashamayim…”-Hashem completed the heavens and earth yet there was still something lacking. Just as a wedding without a bride is not a wedding, the world without the Shabbbath queen was incomplete. We honor the day with delicacies, fine clothing and bright candles. However the Zohar says oneg doesn’t only mean bodily pleasures, but thinking about the Creator, praising Him and bringing Him into our life. Similarly the Michtav M’Eliyahu writes that Shabbat is olam habah in olam hazeh. It is the heavens touching earth. Hashem’s glory is revealed in the world on this day. And indeed the soul of a Jew expresses itself on Shabbat.  If you enter a room and instead of flicking on the switch, you grapple in the dark for what you need, or you come home soaked from the rain because you couldn’t carry an umbrella. You’ve tapped into the kedusha of the day. “Vayishbot Elokim m’kol melachto” Hashem did not physically work. What does the verse mean to say that He rested? The commentators explain that the entire world was concealed and when Hashem created Shabbath He lifted the curtain aside and revealed to us what was hidden.

 “Zachor et yom haShabbat” Remember the Shabbath during the week. The verse tells us to complete all our work during the week so that we won’t have to think about it on the holiest day. “V’asita kol melachtecha.” It should be in our minds as if all our work was completed. Mundane thoughts of weekday activity shouldn’t enter our thoughts for we are in olam habah on this holy day.

 “Vayivarach Elokim“-Hashem blessed the Shabbath. The Michtav M’Eliyahu asks, how could Hashem give an eternal spiritual blessing to a day that is limited by physical time. Indeed we see that Shabbath is really spiritual. Man is created incomplete, our world is a world of falsehood, but Shabbath is perfection. It is completely ruchniyut.

The Gemara states that all mitzvot were given with revelation except Shabbath which was concealed. Weren’t the luchot (which contains the mitzvah of Shabbat) given publicly? The Gemara  intended to say that we do not know the reward for the day because it is not physical. We will reap the dividends in olam haba. The Reishet Chochma writes that Shabbat gives us an aura of kedusha, holiness which stays with us throughout the week. When we hold on to the day we can perceive truth. It’s not just what we eat or where we go. It’s what we think and talk and do on Shabbat which makes it special. Hashem gave us a precious gift.  Let us take the day along with its depth and beauty into the coming week.





Shabbat Scenarios: Demonstrations of the Melachot of Koshair and Mattir

3 06 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Shimon Isaacson 

  Koshair and Matir Demonstrations One may not tie a single knot on the drawstrings of a sweatshirt on Shabbat.

One should not tie the drawstrings of a garbage bag together in a bow knot as it is meant to last. A single slip knot is permitted.

Knots that are prohibited to be made on Shabbat may not be untied on Shabbat. Therefore, one may not untie a permanent knot, such as a tzizit knot, on Shabbat.

One may untie an inadvertent knot that was formed while undoing shoelaces.

One may not undo the knot on a bakery box as it is considered permanent. It should be cut open instead.





Shabbat Scenarios: Fit To Be Tied – More Applications of the Melacha of Koshair #3

23 05 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Shimon Isaacson 

Shabbat Scenarios: Fit To Be Tied - More Applications of the Melacha of Koshair #3

Can you tie a knot on a Torah belt (gelilah) on Shabbat?

Today most shuls have clips or pre-tied belts, but the question may still come up. On Shabbat morning the knot is by definition temporary, as the Torah will be taken out again later in the day during Mincha. However, after Mincha the Torah will not be read again until Monday morning, thirty six hours later. According to the Rambam and the Rif it is still considered an ordinary temporary knot and it is permitted. According to Rashi, it is a quasi-permanent knot. There is a machloket if a quasi-permanent knot is a knot that is meant to last for more than a day or more than seven days. Therefore, the Mishna Berura advises against tying a knot meant to stay more than a day. However, in cases of need, there is room for leniency.

The Shulchan Aruch writes, based on the Rambam and the Rif, that tying a temporary knot for a mitzva is permitted. However, if the Torah will not be used again for more than six months, one should not tie such a knot on Shabbat.

 

Adjusting a necktie

Making a Half Windsor slip knot in a tie is permitted.  A Double Windsor knot could pose a problem as it is considered a more professional type of knot. There may be room for leniency based on a comment of Sharei Teshuva that discusses belts. A double knot on a raincoat belt is permitted because it is a loose, ordinary, temporary knot that is undone regularly. Both a belt and a tie are made of thick material which is usually tied loosely. However, tying a tight double knot on a women’s thin dress belt should be avoided.

Is it permitted to make a tight double knot on Shabbat with the intent to untie it that day?

Can you tie tzizit knots on Shabbat with the intent to untie it immediately after Shabbat?      According to the Pri Megadim, it is permitted as the knot is temporary. However, the Mishna Berura disagrees. Normally, people do not undo tzizit or tefillin knots.  If the nature of the knot is permanent, then an individual’s intent cannot nullify the intent of the masses. Therefore, such permanent kinds of knots should not be made on Shabbat even if they will be untied that day.

Twist-ties

The Rambam writes that twisting twine together to make a thick rope is a derivative (tolda) of Koshair and is Biblically prohibited. Are twist-ties analogous to this? Rav Auerbach and Rav Elyashiv rule that it is prohibited, certainly if one does not intend to untie it. Other poskim disagree and permit it. In general one should avoid using twist-ties on Shabbat. However twisting the tie once is permitted.





Dosh/Sechita Demonstration Part II

6 04 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Shimon Isaacson

Shabbat Scenarios: Dosh/Sechita DemonstrationsThe Torah prohibition of Dosh traces back to the times of the Mishkan when wheat kernels were separated from their external shells by threshing. The most common toldah (derivative) of Dosh is Sechita or Mefarek – extracting a liquid from a solid.

·         Can you milk a cow on Shabbat? This appears to be a classic case of sechita, squeezing the cow’s udder, a solid, so that milk can flow out. The Gemara limits sechita to gedulei karka (vegetation, which grew from the ground). However, the accepted view is that milking is prohibited on Shabbat, since a cow is sustained by vegetation. The son of the Rambam adds that the condition of gedulei karka only applies to the av melacha as it was done in the Mishkan, and not to the toldah of sechita.

·         Similarly, the view of the Magid Mishna is that extracting blood from humans who are also sustained by vegetation is prohibited. Therefore, blood transfusions should not be done on Shabbat, except when a person’s life is in danger.

·         Squeezing a liquid directly on to a solid so that the juice is completely absorbed into the food is permitted. Therefore, you can squeeze a lemon onto a slice of fish on Shabbat. Dousing the fish with copious amounts of juice so that the excess liquid pools around the plate is prohibited. The Gemara gives an example of milking a cow directly into a pail of oats which will be fed to animals. If the cow gives such an abundance of milk that the oats can no longer absorb it, it is prohibited.

·         Extracting liquid from grapes and olives, which were offered as libations in the Temple, is prohibited mi’doraita.

·         The Rabbis prohibited squeezing fruits that are commonly juiced such as strawberries and pomegranates.

·         Sucking the juice out of a fruit directly into your mouth is generally permitted. The exceptions are grapes and olives, which

are   prohibited mi’doraita. Although the Rama writes that there is room for leniency, it is best to avoid doing this.





Shabbat Scenarios: Kotev and Mochek Part III

11 03 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Shimon Isaacson

Kotev and Mochek Demonstrations, Part 3

·Can you zip or unzip a sweatshirt with words on it on Shabbat? A problem arises with bringing together and breaking apart letters on the shirt much like a book with wording on the side. Therefore, it should be avoided if possible. One can be lenient in cases of necessity as per the Mishna Berura.

·Jigsaw puzzles that are meant to last may not be put together on Shabbat.  Wooden picture puzzles where pieces are fitted into corresponding holes are permitted. Picture puzzles with a background are ok for children. Puzzles that are meant to be taken apart and are affixed to a surface may pose a problem. However if the pieces are on a cardboard background, one can posit that it is the same as affixing a background to a background, which is permitted. Nevertheless adults should avoid this if possible.

·Writing with icing on a cake violates the Rabbinic prohibition of Kotev. It follows that if one cuts  through the letters, one is violating Mochek.  One may not cut through icing with script writing as the letters are attached.

·Are biscuits with lettering ok to eat on Shabbat? The Maharam MiRottenberg prohibited this. Most Acharonim permit it on the basis that the Maharam ruled stringently in a specific case of biscuits which were meant to be erased/consumed as a Kabbalistic segula (good sign) for wisdom.  Indeed the Dagel Merivava notes that it is permitted as one is eating the letters directly, there is no intention to erase, and the writing is temporary. Likewise, the Mishna Berura permits it as one is swallowing letters in the normal manner of eating.

·Are chocolate bars with imbedded words a problem? Here too, the letters are engraved in the bar and one breaks the words with one’s mouth and not with an instrument. The Chazon Ish, ruled stringently and prohibited it. The custom is to be lenient.

·A four- pack yogurt, which when attached form a complete picture, may not be broken apart on Shabbat.

·Food particles stuck to a bentcher may not be removed on Shabbat as one can come to pull letters off a page.

·Food packages with printed words or images should be opened before Shabbat. If one needs to tear them on Shabbat, one should be careful to tear where there are no letters or pictures or between the letters.

·Shoes with soles that leave a written imprint in the snow may be worn on Shabbat as the writing is unintentional.





Shabbat Scenarios: Kotev & Mochek Demonstrations

9 03 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Shimon Isaacson

Kotev and Mochek Demonstrations, Part 2

·Can you play Scrabble on Shabbat? The Chayei Adam’s view is that any game that requires keeping score and would normally involve writing should not be played on Shabbat.  The standard Scrabble games which is simply bringing together and distancing letters without affixing them to a permanent surface do not pose a problem with Kotev. However the deluxe editions, where the pieces are affixed to a groove, constitute writing according to Rav Moshe. He also ruled that the game was muktzah.

·Developing X-Ray films creates an image and is prohibited on Shabbat.

·Can you open and close a book that has writing on the side? The Rema rules leniently and permits it. He explains that one is not actually writing or erasing, one is simply bringing together and separating letters. Others add that it is similar to opening and closing a door or window in that it is part of the functionality of the book. However the Levush disagrees and argues that it may be a d’orayta prohibition. The Chazon Ish also rules stringently. Therefore one should avoid doing this if possible. If there is no alternative, one can follow the accepted lenient view held by the Mishne Berura. Random designs on the side of a book do not pose a problem.





Parshat Vayakel: Removing The Mask

25 02 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shira SmilesParshat Vayakhel: Removing the Mask

There is an intriguing juxtaposition in Parshat Ki Tisa and Parshat Vayakel. In Vayakel, Hashem first tells Moshe to command the Jews about the mitzva of Shabbat and he singles out the prohibition of kindling a flame. He then tells the people about the mitzva of building the Mishkan. In contrast, Parshat Ki Tisa, which is a culmination of Parshat Terumah and Tezaveh and the building of the Mishkan, begins with the mitzva of Shabbat. Why the switch and why does the Torah continually connect Shabbat with the Mishkan?

 

The Siftei Chaim notes that Adam lived a pure existence before the sin of eitz hadaat. Every action he performed, even if it was physical, was entirely sanctified. His only goal was to do the will of Hashem. After the sin, Adam was thrust into a world of confusion. Suddenly he acquired busha (shame), which is a contradiction between what one knows to be correct and his actions. Every action from then on contains a mixture of good and evil, to the extent that man could now never say that his motives were completely altruistic.  Before the sin, Adam’s food did not require preparation. After the sin, producing bread became a long arduous process. This reflects life in microcosm. Life is about working with a mixture of good and evil and extracting the grains of goodness.

 

On Shabbat we can reach the state of Adam before the sin. All week long we mimic building the Mishkan by taking the physical and elevating it for Hashem. On Shabbat we enter a dimension of Gan Eden where we don’t need to work and can still achieve this same level of spirituality. Shabbat is about rejoicing with the kingship of Hashem. On this day we crown Him as master.  Our sages say that on Shabbat we receive an extra soul, an expansiveness of the heart. We can enjoy physical pleasures and our souls will not despise them because on Shabbat both the physical and spiritual work in tandem. Rav Wolbe notes that this level can be reached with the first kezayit of challa at the meal. If you consume it as if you are eating that first piece of matza at the seder, you can experience a foretaste of The World To Come.

 

At matan Torah, when the Jews completely nullified themselves before Hashem, they reached the state of Adam before the sin. After chet ha’egel they lost this level again. However, our Sages say that Moshe retained it. The parsha notes that he had a keren or, his face shone and he needed to wear a mask in order to speak to the Jewish people. His face, a reflection of his inner being, embodied a perfect melding of physical and spiritual. On Shabbat we return to this level.

The Netivot Shalom teaches that Shabbat is a propitious time for teshuva. The mask we wear all week long is lifted. We can return to our inner essence. Shabbat is a time to meditate on our true selves. Every Jew can recognize that life is about elevating the physical to the spiritual and about coming closer to Hashem. Our challenge is to take this message into our week and create a Mishkan for Hashem. The models of this were the women in Mitzrayim. They knew how to live Shabbat during the week. The Ibn Ezra writes that they were so committed to Hashem that they donated their mirrors, signifying their preoccupation with physicality, and came to the Ohel Moed to pray and learn.

 

Rav Kanatovsky notes that the reason for the reversal in the Parshiot is to teach us that we need to buttress the fundamental aspect of Shabbat-connection to Hashem, with action. Shabbat is the focus of Jewish belief. We need to recognize that we are not in control. Our job is to do our part, but ultimately the results are up to Hashem. This is why the Torah singles out fire. Fire symbolizes man’s mastery over the universe. The suspension of this act represents relinquishment of control. Shabbat is about recognizing that there is a larger force behind our everyday actions. Similarly, the word vayakhel means community. We belong to something bigger than ourselves.

 

The Klei Yakar writes that Ohel Moed reflects the womens’ tents. The greatest accomplishment of a woman is dedicating herself to a greater aspect of self, namely her home and family.  May our efforts to reach these lofty levels bring ourselves, those close to us, and all of Klal Yisrael to true sheleimut.