Muktzah on Yom Tov

Question #1: Not far from the tree

An apple fell off my tree on Shabbos or Yom Tov. May I eat it?

Question #2: Raid the pantry!

We live in an apartment right above our grocery store. On Shabbos and Yom Tov, may we help ourselves to items that are in the store?

Question #3: Will these bones live?

May Fido’s Yom Tov seudah include leftover bones?

Introduction

When discussing the laws of Yom Tov, the Torah teaches kol melacha lo yei’aseh bahem, ach asher yei’acheil lechol nefesh hu levado yei’aseh lachem (Shemos 12:16),“No work should be performed on these days. However, that which is eaten by everyone, only that may be prepared for yourselves.” We see from the pasuk that, although most melachos are forbidden on Yom Tov, cooking and other food preparations are permitted.

Imagine preparing a meal in the days of Chazal, or even as recently as just over one hundred years ago. Refrigeration and most modern methods of preserving food do not exist. Most food cooked earlier than the day it is served will be spoiled, or at least not particularly tasty. Therefore, virtually all preparations for a festive meal must be done on the day of the occasion. Not only all the baking and cooking, but even the shechitah and salting the meat (kashering) are performed the day the meal is served. To guarantee that our Yom Tov feasts are memorable and quality events, the Torah permitted any activity necessary to prepare a meal that will be served on Yom Tov.

In truth, there are a few food preparatory activities that are not necessary to have a delicious meal that day. It is rarely necessary to pick fruit and vegetables on the day that they are to be eaten — they can be picked a few days in advance of a banquet, without any risk of spoilage. Similarly, juices and oil can be squeezed a few days in advance, without affecting them adversely. We will see, shortly, some of the halachic ramifications of these observations.

Laying an egg

The freshest egg is one recently laid. May I cook on Yom Tov an egg that was laid the very same day? The opening Mishnah of Mesechta Beitzah, which is the primary source for the laws of Yom Tov, quotes a dispute in which Beis Shammai rules that an egg laid on Yom Tov may be eaten that day, whereas Beis Hillel rules that it may not. This is an atypical situation, since Beis Shammai rules more leniently than Beis Hillel; usually, Beis Hillel is the more lenient (see Eduyos, Chapter 4).

Which came first, the chicken?

The Gemara inquires why Beis Hillel prohibits eating an egg laid on Yom Tov. After all, it is permitted to shecht a hen on Yom Tov and, thereby, eat its as-yet-to-be-laid egg. To resolve this conundrum, the Gemara (Beitzah 2a-3a) presents four approaches:

A. The Mishnah is discussing a hen that is a professional, designated egg-layer, not yet ready for retirement to the pot. Since this hen is still considered more valuable for its egg- laying talents, it would not be used typically for meat, which will permanently hamper its ability to produce eggs. This protected status renders the hen muktzah as a meat source on Yom Tov, since we assume that its owner does not consider it a candidate for the Yom Tov pot. Because of a concept called nolad — that the egg makes its grand appearance from a muktzah hen on Yom Tov — Beis Hillel considers not only the hen muktzah and not for Yom Tov consumption, but also its egg.

On the other hand, Beis Shammai does not consider this hen to be muktzah, since every farmer and homeowner always realizes where a hen’s retirement home is and never loses track of its ability to be a source of Yom Tov meat. Therefore, they permit shechting this hen on Yom Tov, and, as goes the hen, so goes its egg, even one laid on Yom Tov. Anything laid by a hen that is not muktzah cannot be muktzah.

Although a great scholar, Rav Nachman, explains the dispute between Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai in this fashion, the Gemara calls a technical foul (or should I say “fowl”?) on his reason — the wording of the Mishnah seems to indicate that the status of the hen is not the source of the dispute between the two esteemed academies.

Or the egg?

B. The second great scholar to explain Beis Hillel’s position is Rabbah. He contends that Beis Hillel prohibits any egg laid on Yom Tov, regardless of whether the hen is muktzah or not. Rabbah’s rationale is based on a concept called hachanah. When the Torah describes preparing the mann on Erev Shabbos to eat it on Shabbos, it uses seemingly unnecessary words. Rabbah derives from these words that there is a category of muktzah that is prohibited min haTorah.

Rabbah understands that Beis Hillel accepts this halachic genre, which teaches that a food that did not exist in edible form prior to the onset of Shabbos or Yom Tov is muktzah, and a freshly laid egg fits this category. Beis Shammai does not accept the concept of hachanah – and this explains why the latter academy permits an egg laid on Yom Tov.

The fruit does not fall…

C. The Gemara (Beitzah 3a) ultimately concludes that not all amora’im accept the halachic status that Rabbah calls hachanah. Among those who reject it are Rav Yosef and Rav Yitzchak. Since they also did not accept Rav Nachman’s approach, they present other approaches to explain why Beis Hillel banned consumption of an egg laid on Yom Tov.

Rav Yosef interprets that Beis Hillel prohibits any egg laid on Yom Tov because it was included in a rabbinic prohibition banning fruit that fell off a tree on Yom Tov. These fruits are prohibited because of concern that someone might pick produce on Yom Tov. As I explained above, failure to harvest fruit, vegetables or grains on the day of Yom Tov itself will not disturb the festivity or pleasure of a Yom Tov repast (Tosafos, Beitzah 3a). As such, although most food preparations are permitted on Yom Tov, picking fruit is not. Not only that, but Chazal prohibited eating fruit that fell off a tree on its own, out of concern that someone might pick fruit on Yom Tov. This is itself very curious, because it is not clear whether harvesting fruit on Yom Tov is prohibited min haTorah or only miderabbanan. (Rashi [Beitzah 3a s.v. Veyitlosh] and many rishonim understand that harvesting fruit is prohibited min haTorah on Yom Tov, whereas many other rishonim disagree and contend that it is prohibited only miderabbanan [Tosafos 3a s.v. Gezeirah; Rambam, Hilchos Yom Tov 1:5-7; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 495:2].)

Not far from the tree

At this point, we can answer our opening question: “An apple fell off my tree on Shabbos or Yom Tov. May I eat it?”

The answer is that, because of a rabbinic injunction, I must wait until after Shabbos or Yom Tov to eat it.

Free-run juice

D. Rav Yitzchak disagrees with Rav Yosef’s approach that the reason why Beis Hillel prohibits an egg laid on Yom Tov is because it is included in the rabbinic prohibition banning fruit that fell off a tree on Yom Tov. Rav Yitzchak agrees that the fallen fruits are prohibited, but he contends that freshly laid eggs are not included in that prohibition. Instead, Rav Yitzchak includes eggs laid on Yom Tov under a different rabbinic prohibition – that which bans consuming juice or oil that flows out of a fruit by itself (called “free-run juice”) on Yom Tov, until Yom Tov is over. This juice is prohibited, because of concern that someone might squeeze fruit on Yom Tov. All halachic authorities prohibit squeezing fruit such as grapes, olives or pomegranates on Yom Tov, although it is disputed whether this prohibition is min haTorah or miderabbanan. Beis Shammai agrees that free-run fruit juice or oil is prohibited on Yom Tov. According to Rav Yitzchak’s opinion, Beis Shammai does not include eggs in this prohibition, whereas Beis Hillel does.

Yom Tov stricter than Shabbos?!

In the course of the above lengthy debate, the Gemara points out that the Mishnah’s principles regarding the laws of muktzah are stricter on Yom Tov than they are on Shabbos. The Gemara (Beitzah 2b) then asks, why did Rebbi, the author of the Mishnah, treat Yom Tov more strictly than Shabbos? Should not Shabbos, where the laws of melacha are more severe (see Mishnah, Megillah 7b), have stricter muktzah rules than Yom Tov?

The Gemara concludes that, since Yom Tov has many halachic leniencies, people might bend its laws when forbidden to do so. In order to reinforce the proper observance of Yom Tov, certain categories of muktzah were made stricter on Yom Tov than they are on Shabbos.

Many early halachic authorities rule this way. Here are a few examples of items that are muktzah on Yom Tov, notwithstanding that they are not muktzah on Shabbos:

Edible merchandise

Edible merchandise that you intend to sell, such as fruits, vegetables or treats, are not muktzah, should you decide that you want to eat them on Shabbos. However, on Yom Tov these items are muktzah and cannot be consumed, since, when Yom Tov started, you intended to leave them as items to be sold in your business and not consumed at home (Mishnah Berurah 495:20).

We can now answer the second of our opening questions: “We live in an apartment right above our grocery store. On Shabbos and Yom Tov, may we help ourselves to items that are in the store?”

The answer is that on Shabbos this is permitted (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 310:2), whereas on Yom Tov it is not!

Partly dried fruit

Another example of an item that is muktzah on Yom Tov but not on Shabbos is fruit set aside to dry which is not fully dried when Yom Tov begins. If they are not yet dry enough for most people to eat them, it is not permitted to eat them on Yom Tov. However, if they are dry enough that some people would eat them, they are not muktzah on Shabbos, notwithstanding that most people would not eat them (Shaar Hatizyun 495:31).

Will these bones live?

Yet another example is leftover bones. The case would be that on Shabbos or Yom Tov you ate meat and you want to give the leftover bones to your dog. If the bones were considered part of a “people food” when Shabbos or Yom Tov started and are now considered animal food, they have a status called nolad,a category of muktzah that most poskim prohibit on Yom Tov, but not on Shabbos. Nolad means that the item changed status during Shabbos or Yom Tov – in this case, it changed from being food to feed.

This allows us to answer the last of our opening questions: “May Fido’s Yom Tov seudah include leftover bones?” The answer is that you may not feed Fido leftover bones on Yom Tov, although it is permitted to feed him the bones on Shabbos, because the laws of muktzah are stricter on Yom Tov (Mishnah Berurah 495:17).

Muktzah only on Shabbos

On the other hand, because the melachos of food preparation, such as shechting, cooking and kneading, are permitted on Yom Tov, sometimes something is muktzah on Shabbos but not on Yom Tov. In order to explain this adequately, I need to digress a little and explain some of the general rules of muktzah that apply every Shabbos and Yom Tov. There are three levels of muktzah:

K’li she’me’lachto le’heter

This is an item whose primary use is permitted, such as a chair or a pillow. These items can be moved on Shabbos or Yom Tov in order to accomplish one of three purposes:

(1) To use it.

(2) To use the place where it is located.

(3) To avoid it becoming stolen, lost or damaged.

However, it may not be moved without any reason (Shabbos 123b-124a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 308:4).

K’li she’me’lachto le’issur

This is an item whose primary use is forbidden, such as a hammer (primary use is to hammer nails, which violates the melacha of boneh) or a needle (primary use is to sew, which violates the melacha of tofeir), although you might have a permitted reason to use it. Items in this category may be moved to accomplish one of two purposes:

(1) To use it. If there is a need to use it for a purpose that is permitted and there is no k’li she’me’lachto le’heter readily available to do the job (Shabbos 124a). For example, it is permitted to use a hammer on Shabbos or Yom Tov to open a coconut, or a needle on Yom Tov to sew closed a chicken or turkey that you are baking with its stuffing inside.

(2) To use the place where it is located. For example, you accidentally left a hammer on a chair that is needed on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Under normal circumstances, k’li she’me’lachto le’issur may not be moved for any other purpose, including concern that it may be stolen, damaged or lost.

Completely muktzah

These are items that may not be moved on Shabbos. This includes items that are not considered “utensils,” such as stones, wood and animals.

Differences between Yom Tov and Shabbos

Because it is permitted to cook and prepare food on Yom Tov, the definition of what fits into each category on Yom Tov is often not the same as it is on Shabbos. For example, cooking utensils are usually categorized as k’li shemelachto le’issur on Shabbos and can be moved only if you have a Shabbos use for them, or you need their place for something else. However, these same items are k’li shemelachto le’heter on Yom Tov, since it is permitted to cook with them. Therefore, on Yom Tov, they can be moved, even if your only reason to move them is that you are afraid that they might become damaged where they are. In other terms: If the Torah permitted us to cook on Yom Tov, pots and stoves are therefore not muktzah on Yom Tov, although they have the status of k’li she’me’lachto le’issur on Shabbos.

Here is another example of a type of item that is muktzah on Shabbos, but not on Yom Tov. On Shabbos, charcoal, pieces of wood and other items that can be used as fuel are muktzah because they have no use. On Yom Tov, however, when cooking is permitted, charcoal and wood are usually not muktzah. Wood that fell or was chopped from a tree on Yom Tov is muktzah.

Moving muktzah to cook on Yom Tov

There is another leniency that applies on Yom Tov that does not apply on Shabbos. It is permitted to move a muktzah item on Yom Tov in order to enable the preparation of food or to enhance simchas Yom Tov (Rema, Orach Chayim 509:6 and 518:3). For example, a completely muktzah item was left or placed on top of a stove or a counter that you need to prepare food. You are permitted to pick up the muktzah item with your hands and move it, in order to cook and prepare food (Mishnah Berurah 509:31; 518:23). Since on Yom Tov it is permitted to cook and prepare food, if the prohibition of muktzah would disturb the ability to cook or otherwise prepare food on Yom Tov, it is permitted to move the muktzah item.

Conclusion

The Torah refers to the Yomim Tovim as Mo’eid. Just as the word ohel mo’eid refers to the tent in the desert which served as a meeting place between Hashemand the Jewish people, so, too, a mo’eid is a meeting time between Hashem and the Jewish people (Hirsch, Vayikra 23:3 and Horeb). Although on Shabbos we are to refrain from all melacha activity, on Yom Tov the Torah permitted melacha activity that enhances the celebration of the Yom Tov as a mo’eid. Permitting the preparation of delicious, freshly prepared meals allows an even greater celebration of the festivities of the Yom Tov, as we honor our unique relationship with Hashem.




Chol HaMoed – Weekday or Yom Tov?

Question #1: My shoes tore on Yom Tov. May I have them repaired on Chol HaMoed?

Question #2: The supermarket has something on sale on Chol HaMoed that I need right after Yom Tov. May I purchase it?

Question #3: I am visiting my parents in Chutz La’aretz for Yom Tov. I know that I must keep two days of Yom Tov while visiting them, but does that permit me to cook on Chol HaMoed for their Acharon shel Pesach?

Question #4: Someone told me that Chol HaMoed is sometimes stricter than Shabbos. How can that be?

Answering these shaylos provides an opportunity to discuss the important and complicated halachos of Chol HaMoed. As the Gemara (Moed Katan 12a) points out, the halachos of Chol HaMoed are hard to categorize. Therefore, although a short article cannot possibly explain all the halachos of Chol HaMoed, I will present many of the principles and provide a basis for each individual to ask his or her own shaylos.

The Gemara (Chagigah 18a) implies that working on Chol HaMoed is forbidden min haTorah. Indeed, observing Chol HaMoed is included in the mitzvah of keeping Yom Tov, which is testimony of Hashem’s special relationship with the Jewish people (Pesachim 118a with Rashbam).

The Torah describes four mitzvos as an “Os,” a sign of Hashem’s relationship with us: Bris Milah, Shabbos, Yom Tov (including Chol HaMoed) and Tefillin. Because Chol HaMoed is included in this very special category, Jews should treat Chol HaMoed with great respect. Indeed, the Gemara states that disregarding the kedusha of the Yomim Tovim, including Chol HaMoed, is like idolatry (Pesachim 118a with Rashbam). Some commentators explain that this includes even someone who fails to serve special meals in honor of Chol HaMoed (Bartenura, Avos 3:11). Observing Chol HaMoed appropriately attests to our special relationship with Hashem.

DEFINING WORK ON CHOL HAMOED

Chol HaMoed is an unusual holiday. On the one hand it is Yom Tov, and we may not engage in many melacha activities. On the other hand, we may do many activities that enhance the celebration of Yom Tov.

The laws determining what is permitted and what is prohibited on Chol HaMoed are very detailed and technical. What really governs whether something is permitted on Chol HaMoed or not? The Gemara explains that the Torah prohibits doing some melacha on Chol HaMoed, yet “passed on to Chazal the rules of what melacha is prohibited and what is permitted” (Chagigah 18a).

What does this mean? Is the foundation of this mitzvah min haTorah or is it miderabbanan? How could the Torah create a prohibition and “pass on to Chazal” what is prohibited?

There are three basic interpretations of this Gemara:

1. Some rishonim (Tosafos, Chagigah 18a) explain that melacha on Chol HaMoed is an asmachta, meaning something the Torah implies that it does not want us to do, but does not expressly forbid (see Ritva to Rosh Hashanah 16a). According to this approach, the Torah did not want Bnei Yisroel to work on Chol HaMoed, but never prohibited it. Thus, when the Gemara implies that melacha on Chol HaMoed is prohibited min haTorah, it is presenting the Torah’s sentiment, not a commandment.  Working on Chol HaMoed violates the spirit of Yom Tov min haTorah, but does not violate the letter of the law. Chazal then implemented the Torah’s sentiment as law by forbidding certain melachos on Chol HaMoed. Since Chazal created the prohibition, they also created the rules, prohibiting some activities and permitting others.

2. Other rishonim explain that the details of Chol HaMoed law are part of Torah Shebe’al Peh that Hashem gave Moshe Rabbeinu at Har Sinai for him to transmit orally (Ritva, Moed Katan 2a). Thus, someone who violates the laws of Chol HaMoed is violating a Torah prohibition, just as someone who violated any other interpretation of a Torah law transmitted to us through Chazal.

3. A third interpretation is that although the Torah prohibited melacha on Chol HaMoed, it delegated to Chazal the power to decide what to prohibit and what to permit. Thus, although Chazal formulated the rules that govern Chol HaMoed, someone who violates them abrogates Torah law (Rashi, Chagigah 18a).

Whether the prohibition of melacha is min haTorah or only miderabbanan, the purpose of Chol HaMoed is to devote one’s time to learning Torah (Yerushalmi, Moed Katan 2:3). In addition, ceasing from certain of these melachos elevates Chol HaMoed above ordinary weekdays (Rambam, Hilchos Yom Tov 7:1).

This last reason is a theme that lies behind the complex details of hilchos Chol HaMoed; we desist from activity that detracts from the purpose of Yom Tov. For this reason, Chazal prohibited some activities on Chol HaMoed that are not necessarily melacha but nonetheless detract from the Yom Tov experience.

These prohibited activities include:

1. Commerce that is not necessary for the festival.

2. Moving to a new residence.

COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY

Chazal prohibited business activity on Chol HaMoed unless it is to enhance the festival or to prevent financial loss (Moed Katan 10b). Even business that is permitted should be conducted in a discreet way that does not disturb kedushas Yom Tov (Mishnah, Moed Katan 13b). Thus, Chazal ruled that a clothing store may sell clothes to be worn on the festival, but that its main door to the street should be closed. If it has two doors to the street, one may be open and the other should be closed, in order to demonstrate that today is Chol HaMoed (Gemara ad loc.; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 539:11).

A store selling only perishable food items may remain open in the regular way, since everything purchased there is for Chol HaMoed and Yom Tov (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 539:10).

Thus, according to the Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch, a Jew may not open his store for business as usual on Chol HaMoed (see Shu”t Chasam Sofer #1). In the modern world, this is a hardship for business owners who may lose regular customers to their competitors who do not observe Chol HaMoed. The poskim consider loss of regular customers as a davar ha’avud (see below) that allows the business to make some accommodations (see Biur Halacha 539:5).

MOVING

Although theoretically one could change dwellings in a way that involves no melacha, the move itself is very strenuous and distracting. Therefore, Chazal forbade moving on Chol HaMoed (Mishnah, Moed Katan 13a). Sometimes moving results in an enhancement of Yom Tov, under which circumstances Chazal permitted it. If someone feels that his particular circumstances may be included, he should ask his rav.

EASY WORK

On the other hand, one is permitted to do melacha that does not detract from the atmosphere of Chol HaMoed. Therefore, Chazal permitted moving muktzah items  on Chol HaMoed (Tosafos, Shabbos 22a s.v. Sukkah) since this does not disturb the purpose of the day. Similarly, many poskim permit performing an actual melacha if it involves little effort, even if it does not fulfill any festival purpose (Terumas HaDeshen #153). According to these opinions, one may strike a match or take a photograph on Chol HaMoed even if no festival need is involved. There are poskim who dispute this and permit such activities only to fulfill a festival need (see Shu”t Radbaz #727).

FOOD PREPARATION

Chazal permitted activities that enhance Chol HaMoed and Yom Tov, such as cooking and shopping for Yom Tov and traveling for festival purposes. One may grind, select, knead and perform other standard kitchen activities for Yom Tov or Chol HaMoed meals, but one should not prepare for after Yom Tov.

This presents us with a problem that many people overlook. Since one may not cook on Chol HaMoed for after Yom Tov, someone living in Eretz Yisroel who observes one day of Yom Tov may not cook on Chol HaMoed for one’s Chutz La’aretz guests who are observing their Acharon shel Pesach or Simchas Torah.Because these days are no longer Yom Tov for a resident of Eretz Yisroel, one would be cooking on Chol HaMoed for after Yom Tov. This can result in an interesting problem. The visiting guests need to be served a special Yom Tov meal on the evening of Acharon shel Pesach or their Simchas Torah, yet the host/hostess, who lives in Eretz Yisroel, may not cook this meal on Chol HaMoed.

This problem has a simple solution if one plans in advance. One can either wait until after Yom Tov is over to begin cooking or one may cook a lot on Chol HaMoed for Shemini Atzeres (called Simchas Torah in Eretz Yisroel) or the Seventh day of Pesach, making sure to serve something from each course on Eretz Yisroel’s Simchas Torah (Shemini Atzeres) or Shevi’i shel Pesach. Then one serves the “leftovers” on the last day.

MA’ASEH HEDYOT, UNSKILLED WORK

Chazal permitted making and repairing items that are needed on Chol HaMoed, provided one does not use a skilled method (ma’aseh uman) to do so. For example, one may tune an instrument if it requires no special skills (Shu”t Shvus Yaakov #25). Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 540:5) rules that one may build an animal’s trough in an unskilled way. Similarly, one may perform household repairs that serve a festival purpose in an unskilled manner (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 540:1). However, they may not be performed in a skilled way, unless a financial loss is involved (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 537:1).

Many years ago, a talmid chacham visited me on Chol HaMoed and noticed that one of our front steps was damaged and somewhat dangerous. Ruling that repairing the step is a meleches hedyot, he proceeded to measure the step, purchased a suitable piece of lumber and nailed it in.

In general, one may not do skilled work on Chol HaMoed. Therefore, one may not develop film (should you still have such film), even for a festival purpose, since this is skilled work. However, one may use a digital camera or print out pictures on Chol HaMoed, since no skill is involved. Similarly, one may not repair shoes on Chol HaMoed since this is skilled work. Theoretically, one may repair them in an unskilled way or with a shinui, meaning in an unusual way; however, neither of these methods is usually a practical way to repair shoes. As we will see later, one may not have a gentile shoemaker repair them either.

MAY I REPAIR A GARMENT FOR YOM TOV WEAR?

One may repair a torn garment in order to wear it on Yom Tov or Chol HaMoed, but only if one sews it in a highly unusual way or it is sewn by an unskilled person (Mishnah Moed Katan 8b). In this instance, Chazal permitted the use of a shinui (doing something in an unusual way) for the sake of Yom Tov or Chol HaMoed. However, a skilled person may not sew in a normal way, even to fulfill a festival need.

Why did Chazal draw a distinction between skilled and unskilled work, and with a shinui and without? Does it enhance the spirit of Yom Tov by requiring the use of a shinui to repair a garment?

It appears that Chazal felt that regulating how one performs this activity reminds the person, even while engaged in a melacha activity, that today is Chol HaMoed. This enhances the spirit of Yom Tov, which should permeate all the days of Chol HaMoed.

“A WORKER WHO DOES NOT HAVE FOOD TO EAT”

Chazal permitted a worker who cannot provide his family with meat and wine for Yom Tov to work on Chol HaMoed (Biur Halacha 545:3; cf., however, the Magen Avraham 542:1, says that only a worker who cannot provide bread for Yom Tov may work.) It is self-understood why permitting this melacha enhances Yom Tov.

DAVAR HA’AVUD, FINANCIAL LOSS

One of the situations where Chazal permitted working on Chol HaMoed is when financial loss will result if the job waits until after Yom Tov. This is allowed because otherwise someone may worry about his loss and spoil his simchas Yom Tov (Ritva, Moed Katan 13a).

Another application of financial loss is that one may repair a broken lock or a broken alarm system on Chol HaMoed (Mishnah Moed Katan 11a). Similarly, someone may remove a stain from a garment that might become ruined. An employee may go to work on Chol HaMoed if taking vacation will jeopardize his job. However, if he can take unpaid vacation on Chol HaMoed without jeopardizing his job, he may not work.

Someone may purchase an item that he will definitely need after Yom Tov if the item is on sale only during Chol HaMoed. Poskim conclude that this is considered a davar ha’avud (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 539:9).

Because of davar ha’avud, the Mishnah (Moed Katan 2a) permits watering an irrigated field on Chol HaMoed, if a week without water will harm the growing produce. However, one may not irrigate a field that receives adequate rain, even though it benefits considerably from additional water. The latter situation is one of creating profit, for which I may not do melacha on Chol HaMoed; one may only do melacha to avoid loss and not to avoid loss of profit (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 537:1). Thus, although one may not engage in commercial activity in order to generate new business, one may service existing customers.

The rationale for distinguishing between loss and potential profit is that people become upset when they lose something they already own and this then disturbs their Yom Tov, but they are bothered much less when they lose potential profit.

LAUNDRY

Chazal prohibited laundering, shaving and haircutting on Chol HaMoed, precisely in order to enhance Yom Tov. In earlier days, people did their laundry and shaved very occasionally and could have postponed attending to them before Yom Tov. To enhance Yom Tov observance, Chazal prohibited laundering, shaving and haircutting on Chol HaMoed to guarantee that people would make sure to attend to such things before Yom Tov.

Chazal permitted laundering handkerchiefs and children’s clothes, since even if they are washed before Yom Tov they get soiled very quickly (Mishnah Moed Katan 14a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim534:1).

Many poskim permit removing a spot from a garment on Chol HaMoed, contending that this was not included in the gezeirah. However, one may not have this garment dry cleaned, even at a gentile’s shop, since this would indeed violate the gezeirah against doing laundry. One may iron because it is not included in the gezeirah (541:3). However, one may not make a new pleat because it is skilled work [meleches uman] (Magen Avraham 541:5).

WORK THROUGH A GENTILE

May a gentile do on my behalf on Chol HaMoed the kind of work that Chazal prohibited me to do myself?

In general, if I may not do something myself on Chol HaMoed, I may not have a gentile do it either (Moed Katan 12a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 543:1). However, if the non-Jew is a contractor paid by the job, there are some situations when I may allow him to work on Chol HaMoed.

WHY IS THIS CASE DIFFERENT?

When I pay someone by the job, it is halachically viewed as if he is working for himself and not for me. Therefore, when I hire a non-Jewish contractor and he chooses to work on Shabbos or Chol HaMoed, it is not considered that someone is working for me on these holy days. I may therefore allow him to work on Chol HaMoed, provided no one thinks that he is my employee.

Therefore, if I meet the following conditions, I need not prevent the gentile from working on Chol HaMoed:

1. I pay him a flat fee to complete the job, not an hourly or daily wage.

2. I do not instruct him to work on Chol HaMoed, and I hire him before Yom Tov.

3. The gentile performs the work in a way that Jews do not know that he is working for a Jew. Thus, the gentile must work on his own premises or in a way and place that no one knows that he is working for a Jew.

I will explain this halacha with an actual case: Friedman’s Department Store, which is located outside a Jewish community, retains Tim McCartney as a contract gardener to maintain the lawn and hedges around the store. Must Mr. Friedman insist that his gentile gardener not work on Shabbos, Yom Tov, Chol HaMoed, even when it fits his regular schedule?

The halacha is that Mr. Friedman may allow Tim to work on Shabbos or Yom Tov, but must insist that he refrain on Chol HaMoed.

HOW CAN CHOL HAMOED BE STRICTER THAN SHABBOS?

Since Friedman’s Department Store is not within walking distance to any Jewish community, we may assume that no observant Jew will see Tim trimming the hedges on Shabbos and Yom Tov and think that Mr. Friedman hired him to work on Shabbos or Yom Tov. Therefore, since Tim is a contractor, he may do the work (Moed Katan 12a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 244:1).

However, on Chol HaMoed a frum Jew might be traveling and see Tim mowing Friedman’s lawn and think that a Jew hired Tim to work on Chol HaMoed. Therefore, Tim may not mow the lawn or trim the hedges on Chol HaMoed (Moed Katan 12a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 543:2).

Chol HaMoed provides many unique mitzvah opportunities. By observing it properly, we demonstrate the tremendous Os between Hashem and us. May we always merit demonstrating Hashem’s presence amongst us and in His world!!




Second Zachor Readings

Question #1: Birchos haTorah min haTorah

Is birchos haTorah min haTorah?

Question #2: Parshas Zachor

Should a second parshas Zachor reading have a minyan?

Question #3: America, America

Is there an American angle to this halachic discussion?

Foreword

The halachic authorities dispute whether women are obligated to hear parshas Zachor, the Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah #603) ruling that they are exempt, whereas Rav Yaakov Ettlinger (author of Aruch Laneir and posek hador of western and central Europe during his lifetime), obligates them (Shu”t Binyan Tzion 2:8). A third opinion is that, although women are definitely required to observe the mitzvah of remembering what Amalek did to us, they are not required to hear parshas Zachor because it is a time-bound mitzvah miderabbanan (Shu”t Toras Chayim, Orach Chayim #37; Kaf Hachayim 685:30).

There is a second dispute, whether an individual is required min haTorah to hear the reading of parshas Zachor with a minyan, annually, which some rishonim require (Rosh, Berachos 7:20; Terumas Hadeshen 1:108) and others exempt (Sefer Hachinuch). If we combine the strictest interpretation of both rulings, we would conclude that women are obligated min haTorah to hear parshas Zachor annually with a minyan, although I am unaware of any early halachic authorities who rule this way.

In contemporary practice, women strive to hear parshas Zachor. To enable those taking care of children during the morning reading, many shullen schedule an additional reading some time later that day, to facilitate the hearing of parshas Zachor.

Some contemporary authorities have questioned this practice because of the following observation: There are poskim who forbid reading from a sefer Torah in public without reciting a berocha before and after the reading (Toras Raphael, Hilchos Keri’as HaTorah #2). This is based on the ruling of earlier prominent authorities who contend that such readings require the recital of a berocha min haTorah (Be’er Sheva, Sotah 41a; Shu”t Mishkenos Yaakov, Orach Chayim #63). Several early authorities attribute this position to the Talmud Yerushalmi (Shu”t Meishiv Davar 1:16; cf., however, Toras Raphael who disagrees) or other very early sources.

On the other hand, when there is no obligation to read from the Torah, many authorities forbid reciting a berocha when reading from a sefer Torah, considering it a berocha levatalah, one recited in vain (Elyah Rabbah 566:3; Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos Zahav Orach Chayim 566:7; Chayei Adam 31:11; Meishiv Davar 1:16; Shu”t Har Tzvi, Orach Chayim #52, #69, #70). This may potentially create a conundrum: It would be forbidden to recite berochos for an extra reading of parshas Zachor because of concerns about berocha levatalah. Yet, some authorities prohibit reading from the Torah in public without a berocha. Thus, we have a predicament whose obvious solution is to avoid extra public reading from a sefer Torah. On the other hand, we want to have an extra reading to facilitate fulfilling the mitzvah for those who cannot be in shul for the regular reading.

Other readings

A similar, but not identical, shaylah occurs on several other occasions, depending on various local customs. Many have the minhag to read sefer Devarim, or sections thereof, from a sefer Torah on the night of Hoshana Rabba. Similarly, many Chassidic kehillos read, on the first twelve days of Nisan, the passage in parshas Naso describing the dedication of the Mishkan, called parshas hanesi’im. There was also a custom that, upon completing the writing of a new sefer Torah, the sofer read from the brand new sefer Torah in front of the assembled (Toras Raphael). Other customs of reading from a sefer Torah on various occasions are recorded in different halachic sources (e.g., Shu”t Tashbeitz 2:39; Levush; Shu”t Minchas Yitzchak 8:84). Explaining the sources for this discussion and suggesting resolutions is the topic of this article.

Introduction

After the Rambam wrote his Sefer Hamitzvos, in which he listed his opinion of the count of the 613 mitzvos, the Ramban wrote an extensive commentary disputing dozens of points made by the Rambam. The Ramban also listed 34 mitzvos, 17 mitzvos aseih and 17 mitzvos lo saaseh, which he felt should be included in the count of the mitzvos according to the Rambam’s rules, but were omitted. In the Ramban’s listing of the “missing” mitzvos aseih, he includes the mitzvah (#15) to recite a berocha prior to reading the Torah.

Although it is unclear whether the Ramban here is counting a mitzvah to recite birkas haTorah prior to studying Torah, or a mitzvah to recite it prior to reading from a sefer Torah, several authorities assume that he meant the latter. In other words, although reading the Torah in public is not required min haTorah, when doing so, the requirement to recite a berocha is. All halachic authorities agree that the berocha after an aliyah is only a mitzvah miderabbanan.

Berocha before leining

The major discussion on this topic stems from the writings of three prominent acharonim, the Be’er Sheva (commentary to Sotah 41a), the Mishkenos Yaakov (Shu”t Mishkenos Yaakov, Orach Chayim #63) and the Toras Raphael (Hilchos Birchos haTorah #2).

These acharonim base themselves on a careful analysis of a passage of Gemara:

Rav Yehudah said, “What is the source from which we know that there is a requirement min haTorah to recite birkas hamazon after eating: ‘When you have eaten and been satisfied, you shall bless Hashem, your G-d, for the wonderful land that He gave you’ (Devarim 8:10). What is the source from which we know that there is a requirement min haTorah to recite birkas haTorah before Torah: ki sheim Hashem ekra, havu godel lei’lokeinu (Berachos 21a, based on Devarim 32:3), in which Moshe told the Jewish people, ‘I am about to sing praise to Hashem. Prior to my doing so, I will recite a berocha (ki sheim Hashem ekra) to which you should answer amen’” (havu godel lei’lokeinu) [Rashi, Berachos 21a s.v. Ki].

(1) What did Rav Yehudah mean when he required a “berocha before Torah?” Was he referring to:

            (a) What we usually call talmud Torah or limud Torah,or

            (b) Before reading from a sefer Torah, what we usually call keri’as haTorah?

(2) If he meant what we usually call limud Torah, what type of limud Torah is included?

The Gemara (Berachos 11b) cites a four-way dispute among amora’im what type of limud Torah requires birkas haTorah:

            (a) Only the written Torah.

            (b) The written Torah and the halachic midrashim on the written Torah.

            (c) In addition to the above, also before studying Mishnah.

            (d) In addition to everything mentioned above, also before studying Gemara.

The Gemara concludes that we recite birkas haTorah prior to any type of Torah learning. However, this does not teach us whether this is required min haTorah or only miderabbanan.

Let us return to the passage of Gemara quoting Rav Yehudah’s ruling that birkas haTorah is min haTorah and is derived from the pasuk in parshas Ha’azinu.

Rabbi Yochanan then adds to, and somewhat disagrees with, Rav Yehudah’s statement by claiming that, with the use of two applications of the principle of kal vechomer, we can derive that reciting a berocha before eating is min haTorah, as well as a berocha recited after learning. The Gemara ultimately refutes the applications of kal vechomer and, therefore, Rabbi Yochanan’s two rulings. Thus, recital of a berocha before eating and after learning are not required min haTorah.

The question that concerns the Be’er Sheva and the Mishkenos Ya’akov is:

To which berocha after Torah is Rabbi Yochanan referring? The only time we ever recite a berocha after Torah is the berocha recited after keri’as haTorah. This implies that the “berocha before Torah,” which both Rav Yehudah and Rabbi Yochanan agree is min haTorah, means the berocha recited before reading the Torah in public. The Be’er Sheva and the Mishkenos Ya’akov, therefore, conclude that the requirement min haTorah of birkas haTorah applies when reading the Torah in public. This includes:

(A) What we call keri’as haTorah on Shabbos, Mondays, Thursdays and holidays.

(B) The mitzvah of hakheil, when the Jewish king reads selections of sefer Devarim to the entire Jewish people on chol hamo’ed Sukkos in the year following shemittah (Mishnah Sotah 40b).

(C) When the Yisraelim who were on ma’amados, “Temple Duty,” read the Torah daily, during their rotation at the Beis Hamikdash (Mishnah Ta’anis 26a).

These acharonim conclude that the mitzvah of reciting birkas haTorah before we begin studying Torah every day is only miderabbanan.

Because the Be’er Sheva and the Mishkenos Yaakov conclude that both Rav Yehudah and Rabbi Yochanan agree that there is a requirement min haTorah to recite a berocha prior to any public reading of the Torah, this applies even if someone already recited birkas haTorah earlier in the day. The earlier recitation fulfilled only a mitzvah miderabbana, while the subsequent reading of the Torah in public requires recital of a berocha min haTorah.

However, as mentioned above, many authorities prohibit reciting birkas haTorah on a reading of the Torah that was not instituted either by the Torah or by Chazal. An interesting historical example is when the Netziv was asked, in the 1880’s, by a rav in Cincinnati the following shaylah: The community was dedicating a new sefer Torah, and the convenient day to schedule the dedication was Sunday, when people were off from work. In honor of the auspicious occasion, one of the organizers included a reading of the Torah, complete with berachos. The rav in Cincinnati strongly opposed this, contending that the berachos would constitute berachos levatalah, since Chazal never established reading the Torah on a Sunday that is not a Jewish holiday. The Netziv agreed with the rav’s ruling, commenting that it is permitted to read from the Torah, providing that no berachos were recited. However, according to the Be’er Sheva and the Mishkenos Yaakov, it is prohibited min haTorah to read from the Torah in public without reciting birkas haTorah.

Family feud

On the other hand, in response to a similar shaylah, Rav Raphael Shapiro, the Netziv’s son-in-law, author of Toras Raphael, ruled that it is prohibited to read from the Torah altogether. This is because some authorities prohibit reciting a berocha on this reading, and others, the Be’er Sheva and the Mishkenos Yaakov, rule that it is prohibited min haTorah to read the Torah without first reciting a berocha. The Toras Raphael concludes that the only solution is not to read from the Torah in public when it is not required.

Birchos haTorah min haTorah

At this point, we can address our opening question: Is birchos haTorah min haTorah?

The answer is somewhat complicated. According to the Ramban, there is definitely a requirement min haTorah, at times, to recite birchos haTorah. However, it is uncertain whether this means before studying Torah every day, or before reading the Torah in public. Among the rishonim,we find a dispute whether birchos haTorah before studying Torah every day is required min haTorah, a dispute that the Toras Raphael analyzes at great length. And we have two very prominent acharonim, the Be’er Sheva and the Mishkenos Yaakov, who contend that the requirement to recite birchos haTorah is min haTorah only before reading the Torah in public, but not when studying the Torah, in which case the requirement is only miderabbanan.

Later authorities

The question concerning whether we may read from the Torah in public to fulfill a custom without reciting birchos haTorah is discussed in some more recent teshuvos and articles. For example, Shu”t Minchas Yitzchak (8:84) discusses the custom, particularly but not exclusively, among Chassidim, of reading from a sefer Torah on the first twelve days of Nisan the portion of parshas Naso that describes the offerings that the nesi’im brought when the Mishkan was dedicated. Those who observe this custom do not recite a berocha before reading the Torah, nor should they, since most authorities rule that such a berocha would be levatalah, since no takkanas chachamim is observed. However, according to the Toras Raphael, it would seem that this should not be read with a minyan present, in order not to violate (according to the Be’er Sheva and the Mishkenos Yaakov) the mitzvas aseih of reading from a sefer Torah without a berocha.

Disputing the analysis of the Toras Raphael, the Minchas Yitzchak explains that, although these early poskim ruled that the requirement to recite birkas haTorah before keri’as haTorah is min haTorah, they never stated that it is required to recite a berocha prior to a reading that is optional. The Minchas Yitzchak concludes that since many great talmidei chachamim read from the Torah parshas nesi’im in the month of Nisan without reciting a berocha, this is the accepted halacha, not the ruling of the Toras Raphael.

Another, similar reason why these practices do not conflict with the ruling of the early acharonim is that, in these instances, each individual would like to read the Torah by himself, and the public reading is simply because of efficiency. Therefore, this is not considered a public reading of the Torah and there is no requirement to recite birchos haTorah (Shu”t Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:380). Rav Moishe Shternbuch, who suggested this last approach, was referring to the custom of reading the book of Devarim on the night of Hoshanah Rabbah, which is also performed without a berocha.

Parshas Zachor

At this point, we can address the second of our opening questions: Should a second parshas Zachor reading have a minyan?

Now we can understand our conundrum: If a second parshas Zachor reading is scheduled and there is a minyan in attendance, the Toras Raphael would certainly require the recital of a berocha. According to the Be’er Sheva and the Mishkenos Ya’akov, it would seem that it is prohibited to read the additional reading of parshas Zachor without first reciting a berocha, because this violates the mitzvas aseih of the Torah. On the other hand, if no one is required to still hear the reading of parshas Zachor, many authorities would rule that reciting a berocha is a berocha levatalah. According to the Netziv, there would be nothing wrong with reading from the Torah when Chazal did not require it, as long as no berocha is recited. Thus, in his opinion, the second reading may take place as long as no berocha is recited. However, according to the Toras Raphael, we should, perhaps, not read the Torah in public at all, to avoid getting involved in the dispute. A simple solution might be not to have a minyan when the second reading takes place.

America, America

Is there an American angle to this halachic discussion?

Surprising as this might be, there are several angles to this discussion that involve American Jewish individuals and communities. I mentioned above that the responsum of the Netziv was addressed to a rav in Cincinnati, although I have no idea as to the identity of the rav. By doing some research, I was able to determine that the responsum of his son-in-law, the Toras Raphael, was addressed to Rav Yehudah Eliezer Anixter, a talmid of the Volozhin yeshivah who immigrated to the United States in 1871, eventually becoming a prominent rav in Rochester and Chicago, and the author of a sefer titled Chiddushei Avi. The Toras Raphael read one of the responsa in Chiddushei Avi and wrote the author his own responsum, in partial disagreement with Rav Anixter’s conclusion. And the above quoted Minchas Yitzchak was penned in reference to Chassidim from America visiting Eretz Yisroel who noted that the method of reading the parshas ha’nesi’im was done differently in Eretz Yisroel from the way it is done in chutz la’aretz, and asked the Minchas Yitzchak which approach is preferred.

Conclusion

In the introduction to Sefer HaChinuch, the author writes that the main mitzvah upon which all the other mitzvos rest is that of Talmud Torah. Through Torah learning, a person will know how to fulfill all of the other mitzvos. That is why Chazal instituted a public reading of a portion of the Torah every Shabbos, twice, and on Mondays and Thursdays. Knowing that the proper observance of all the mitzvos is contingent on Torah learning, our attention to keri’as haTorah will be increased, as well as our sensitivity to the recital of its berachos and our kavanah when reciting and listening to those berachos. This should lead to greater respect and attentiveness to the observance of all the mitzvos.




Only New Chometz Apply

Since parshas Bo includes the prohibitions about chometz on Pesach

Question #1: First Fruits

Which korbanos are offered only from “first fruits”?

Question #2: New Grains

Which korbanos are offered only from the new grain?

Question #3: Wheat from Heaven!

May korbanos be offered from heavenly-dropped wheat?

Foreword

Virtually all grain korbanos, called menachos (singular: mincha), are wheat, mankind’s most common basic sustenance. However, on the second day of Pesach, the korban omer is offered in the Beis Hamikdash from the new crop of barley. Indeed, it is the only barley-flour korban offered by the tzibur, the community. In general, barley is viewed as animal feed, rather than “people food” (see Pesachim 3b). (The only other korban from barley was the minchas sotah, a privately offered korban for which there is an obvious reason why it is from a feed grain, as Rashi [Bamidbar 5:15] and the midrashim [Midrash Agadah and Yalkut Shimoni ad loc.] elaborate.) Presumably, the reason that the korban omer was from barley is because barley ripens earlier than wheat and the korban omer permits the consumption of the new grain crop; the Torah did not delay until the wheat is ready for harvest.

In honor of Shavuos

Seven weeks later, on Shavuos, special korbanos, called the shetei halechem, are offered from the new wheat crop. Although this korban is kosher if made from the previous year’s wheat crop, there is a mitzvah min haTorah to bring it from the new crop. The offering of the shetei halechem permits the new crop to be used for menachos.

Introduction

Immediately after describing the korban omer, the Torah teaches: “And you shall each count seven complete weeks, from the morrow after that day of rest [the first day of Pesach], beginning on the day of your bringing the omer, which is waved. You shall count fifty days, until the morrow after the seventh week, at which time you shall offer a new grain offering to Hashem. From your dwelling places (Hebrew: ‘mimoshevoseichem’) you shall bring two loaves of bread. They (the two loaves together) shall comprise two tenths of an omer of fine flour. They shall be baked leavened (Hebrew: ‘chometz’) and be the first fruits unto Hashem (Hebrew: ‘bikkurim’). Together with the bread, you shall bring a group of seven yearling sheep and, also, one young bull and two rams. These (ten animals) will be olah offerings for Hashem, offered together with their appropriate grain offerings and libations. This is a fire offering, to show Hashem the fragrance of compliance” (Vayikra 23, 15-18; the translation of the word ניחוח follows that of Rav Hirsch). The Torah then completes the description, including that three more korbanos accompanied the shetei halechem, a male goat as a chatas and two yearling sheep as publically-owned korbanos shelamim, for a total of thirteen animal korbanos.

The Torah passage that I just quoted includes several interesting observations:

Receiving the Torah?

(1) Although calculation demonstrates that the holiday of Shavuos coincides with the giving of the Torah, neither here nor any other place does the Torah make any association between the two. This article will not discuss this famous question, to which there are many answers.

Imported grain

(2) We are told that the shetei halechem must be brought “from your dwelling places.” But grain is never grown in dwellings, but open fields!

The Gemara (Menachos 83b) explains that “dwelling place” here means Eretz Yisrael, and that, whereas other mincha offerings may use grain imported from outside Eretz Yisrael, shetei halechem may use only grain that grew in Eretz Yisrael (Mishnah Menachos 83b; Keilim 1:6; Parah 2:1).

Alef emphasis

(3) The word immediately after mimoshevoseichem in the Torah is תביאו, “you shall bring,” but the letter alef in that word contains a dagesh. However, an alef never otherwise has a dagesh. Why this anomaly? Rav Hirsch suggests that this is to emphasize the uniqueness of the shetei halechem as the only mincha in which the animal offerings are brought only as an accompaniment to the grain offering.

Chometz

(4) The Torah reports that the shetei halechem “shall be baked leavened.” This is very unusual. All grain offerings in the Beis Hamikdash must be unleavened – they all halachically qualify as matzah. Even the “leftovers” from all mincha offerings may not be allowed to become chometz (Vayikra 6:9-10)! A kohein who violates this last instruction intentionally could receive malkus, lashes, and would no longer be accepted as a witness!

There are only two exceptions – two instances of a grain offering in the Beis Hamikdash which is made from chometz: one of the four types of “bread” that accompanied the korban todah was chometz (Vayikra 7:13) and the shetei halechem of Shavuos (Mishnah, Menachos 52b). In both of these instances, the Torah states that they must be chometz.

The shetei halechem are the only public korbanos that are chometz, since the korban todah is an individual’s thanksgiving offering for surviving travail (Tehillim 100, 107 and Berachos 54b). Since the Torah states that no mincha “offered to Hashem” may be chometz (Vayikra 2:11), the chometz parts of these menachos are never placed on the mizbeiach, but are eaten in Yerushalayim while completely tahor, either by the kohanim and their families or by the owners of the korban.

Who is first?

(5) Furthermore, the Torah states that the shetei halechem must be bikkurim. Yet bikkurim usually means the fruits that a farmer grows in his field and brings to the Beis Hamikdash as his own thanks offering (see Devarim 26:1-11 and Mishnah, Mesechta Bikkurim). The Gemara explains that the word bikkurim, here, means that this year’s grain crops cannot be used for menachos before the shetei halechem has been offered. In addition, the Mishnah teaches that, what we usually call the bikkurim, the special, first-ripening fruits for which Eretz Yisrael is renowned, are not brought to the Beis Hamikdash until the shetei halechem korban is offered (Menachos 68b; see also Bikkurim 1:10).

Meat with bread

(6) The Torah states: “Together with the bread, you shall bring a group of seven yearling sheep and, also, one young bull and two rams.” These are not the korbanos musaf offered on Shavuos, which are mentioned in parshas Pinchas and are offered on Shavuos, even if no shetei halechem mincha is brought.

Virtually all grain offerings in the Beis Hamikdash are brought either without any animal korbanos, or to accompany the animal offerings. It is unusual that the main korban is one made from flour, and the animal offerings accompany the grain offerings; but that is the law regarding the shetei halechem. This is truly unique in the instance of the shetei halechem, since it is the only mincha that causes thirteen animal korbanos to be brought as a result. If the shetei halechem is not offered, these korbanos cannot be brought, but if these korbanos are not brought, the shetei halechem is kosher by itself.

The only other mincha that is the cause of the bringing of a korban is the korban omer, but in that case, only one korban is offered, a sheep. Shetei halechem are completely unique in that it is the only instance in which a grain offering causes the offering of a large group of korbanos.

Details, details:

In addition to these observations that lie directly in the pesukim themselves, there are a host of other unusual features that apply to the shetei halechem, such as:

1. The Mishnah (Menachos 59a) notes that the mincha of the shetei halechem is not accompanied by either oil or frankincense, unlike most mincha offerings. Why not?

To answer this question, I refer you to read, in detail, the commentary of Rav Hirsch (Vayikra 23:17).

2. The shetei halechem must be brought from grain that had not yet taken root prior to this year’s crop season (Mishnah, Menachos 83b; Parah 2:1; we should note the Rambam does not rule according to this Mishnah, a position that engenders much discussion). The shetei halechem permitted use of new grain in the Beis Hamikdash (Mishnah Menachos 68b). Menachos offered from the new grain before the korban omer was offered were invalid, whereas those offered before the shetei halechem were brought were kosher, although a Torah violation was involved in bringing them (Menachos 68b). I will return to this halacha shortly.

3. Although you may bake bread, challah, cake or cookies on Yom Tov to serve on that day, and the korbanos to be brought on that day (such as korbanos musaf and korban pesach) are shechted, butchered and burnt on the mizbeiach on Shabbos and certainly on Yom Tov, the shetei halechem could not be baked on Shavuos (Menachos 95b and 100b). The reason they could not be baked on Yom Tov is because baking and cooking on Yom Tov are permitted only to benefit Jews who will be celebrating Yom Tov, but it is prohibited to bake a korban on Yom Tov. Although korbanos are brought on Yom Tov, this applies only to the processing of the korban necessary to be performed that day. The baking of the menachos, similar to the baking of the twelve loaves of the lechem hapanim (the showbread) for Shabbos, could be performed before Shabbos or Yom Tov, and therefore the two loaves of the shetei halechem must be baked before Yom Tov.

Many halachic authorities raise the following question: Why can’t you bake your own private bread on Yom Tov for Yom Tov use, and, while doing do, bake the shetei halechem? There is much discussion among acharonim regarding this question, without any specifically accepted answer.

4. The shetei halechem and the two shelamim sheep offered with it were held up by the kohein and waved in six directions – upwards and downwards and in four directions of the globe, similar to the way the lulav and esrog are waved on Sukkos (Mishnah Menachos 61a).

5. The Mishnah teaches that ten miracles occurred in the Beis Hamikdash, one of which was that the korban omer and the shetei halechem were never invalidated by a pesul in which something unplanned went wrong (Pirkei Avos 5:5).

Heavenly wheat!

In this context, we have the following unusual passage of Gemara: “What is the halacha regarding wheat that fell from the clouds? Can it be used for the shetei halechem offering?”

Rashi and his grandson, Rabbeinu Tam, disagreed regarding what case is being described here. Rabbeinu Tam understands that the Gemara is discussing wheat that miraculously fell from heaven, similar to the way the mann in the desert arrived every morning. As traditionally explained, the berocha recited before eating the mann was “Hamamtir lechem min hashamayim,” “Blessed are You, Hashem… Who rains bread from the sky” (quoted by Shu’t Torah Lishmah #63, in the name of the Rama MiFano).

The Radbaz (Hilchos Temidim Umusafim, 8:3) is dissatisfied with Rabbeinu Tam’s approach, noting that Hashem brings miracles only when a major reason exists for them.

Stormy wheat

For these and other reasons, most late authorities prefer Rashi’s approach that the Gemara is discussing wheat that was blown by gale-force winds off a ship in the Mediterranean, or perhaps were on an island in the Mediterranean Sea, and then landed in Eretz Yisrael. We do not necessarily know the origin of the wheat; just that it landed in Eretz Yisrael.

Following either Rashi’s approach or that of his grandson, the Torah states that the shetei halechem must be offered from grain that grew mimoshevoseichem, from your dwelling places, and we learned above that this requires that shetei halechem must use wheat that grew in Eretz Yisrael. The question is whether this wheat, either the miraculous variety of Rabbeinu Tam’s version, or the windswept variety of Rashi’s, qualifies as wheat that grew mimoshevoseichem. (Our intrepid readers are referred to the commentary of the Mahari Kurkus on the Rambam, Hilchos Temidim Umusafim, 8:3, who analyses this issue.)

Brought too early

Regarding the shetei halechem offering, the Gemara presents the following intriguing anecdote. As I mentioned above, the Mishnah states that both the korban omer and the shetei halechem must be offered from the new crop (the korban omer from the new barley crop, and shetei halechem from the new wheat crop). The Mishnah also states that it was forbidden to eat from the new grain crop before the korban omer was offered, which is the prohibition of chodosh, and it is forbidden to offer a grain korban from the new crop until after the shetei halechem are offered. But, regarding a mincha from the new grain crop that is brought before the shetei halechem, the Mishnah makes the following distinction: If the new grain mincha was brought before the korban omer was offered on the second day of Pesach, the mincha is invalid, whereas if such a korban was brought after the korban omer was offered but before the shetei halechem, the mincha is kosher, notwithstanding that it is prohibited min haTorah to offer such a korban mincha.

Rabbi Tarfon, an older contemporary of Rabbi Akiva and one of the greatest Torah scholars of all time, queried why the offering of the korban omer, whose purpose was to permit the new grain to be eaten, should affect whether a mincha offered in the Beis Hamikdash is kosher or not?

A budding young scholar named Yehudah bar Nechemiah (besides this passage of Gemara, his name appears in several midrashim, mostly Midrash Rabbah and Midrash Tanchuma) answered Rabbi Tarfon with a brilliant insight: Prior to the bringing of the korban omer, the new grain qualifies as ma’achalos asuros, foods that a Jew is prohibited from eating – and there is a halacha that one cannot offer korbanos from products that a Jew may not consume. On the other hand, once the korban omer is offered, it is permitted to eat the new grain. It cannot be used for menachos because of a different law — the Torah refers to the shetei halechem as mincha chadasha, meaning that they should be the first korbanos offered from the new wheat crop. Should a different mincha be brought first from the new wheat crop, the shetei halechem are no longer mincha chadasha.

Yehudah bar Nechemiah argued that prior to the offering of the korban omer, the new grain has the status of ma’achalos asuros, which are never acceptable as korbanos, even after the fact (be’dei’evid). However, once the korban omer is offered, although it is still prohibited to use the new grain for menachos, we find many instances in which it is not proper to offer a korban a certain way, but be’dei’evid, after the fact, the korban is still kosher. Rabbi Tarfon was silent, implying that he accepted Yehudah bar Nechemiah’s response.

Rabbi Akiva, who, among other great luminaries of the era, was in attendance during this discussion, noted that Yehudah bar Nechemiah was smiling – demonstrating that he was personally satisfied to have bested a gadol beYisrael in a Torah discussion. Rabbi Akiva realized that Yehudah bar Nechemiah was afflicted with a very bad shortcoming – misplaced personal pride. Rabbi Akiva then forecast, within Yehudah bar Nechemiah’s earshot.

“Yehudah, I will be surprised if you’ll live a long time!” This was not intended as a curse, but a prediction.

The Gemara then quotes from the famous tanna, Rabbi Yehudah (the son of Rav Ila’ii), who was also present during this exchange. Rabbi Yehudah shared that the discussion between Rabbi Tarfon and Yehudah bar Nechemiah took place two weeks before Pesach, and that when he, Rabbi Yehudah (who lived in the southern part of Eretz Yisrael) returned for Shavuos to the beis hamedrash of the Sanhedrin, he did not find Yehudah bar Nechemiah. When Rabbi Yehudah inquired about Yehudah bar Nechemiah’s wellbeing, he was told that Yehudah bar Nechemiah had passed away suddenly in the interim.

This very tragic turn of events brings to mind both the deaths of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 disciples (which occurred shortly after the sudden passing of Yehudah bar Nechemiah) and the much earlier tragedy of the sudden deaths of Nadav and Avihu, the two oldest sons of Aharon. In all of these instances, young, brilliant Torah scholars were suddenly taken because of personal character flaws. As implied by the midrash, had these young, great scholars become the leaders of the Jewish people, this would have caused irreparable damage to our mesorah. Klal Yisrael survives only when those who carry on the mesorah do so solely because of their obligation to Hashem, not because of personal interest.

Conclusion

Do we live with a burning desire to see the Beis Hamikdash rebuilt speedily in our days? Studying the halachos of the korbanos should help us develop our sensitivity and desire to see the Beis Hamikdash again in all its glory. May we soon merit seeing the kohanim offering all the korbanos in the Beis Hamikdash in purity and sanctity and Klal Yisrael in our rightful place in Eretz Yisrael, as a light unto the nations!




Appreciating Tashlich

Question #1: As a child, I remember being told that tashlich was our annual opportunity to throw away all our sins into the water. What is behind this custom?

Question #2: Someone once told me that tashlich alludes to the 13 middos of Hashem’s mercy. How do these middos correspond?

Answer:

The answers to both of these questions revolve around developing a deeper understanding of the custom of reciting tashlich on Rosh Hashanah. Let us research the sources and halachos of this minhag, and comprehend the lessons that we should learn while observing it.

The earliest surviving mention of tashlich of which I am aware is in the writings of the Maharil, who lived in Germany during the late Fourteenth Century, and others of his generation (Minhagei Rosh Hashanah #9). He mentions the custom of going on Rosh Hashanah to the ocean or rivers that contain fish in order to “throw our sins into the depths of the sea,” vesashlich bimtzulos yam kol chatosom.

We should note that in the verse upon which this is based (Micha 7:19), it is Hashem, and not ourselves, Who is casting our iniquities into the sea. This is important, because tashlich does not mean that we have now successfully thrown away our sins. It is the realization that only by doing teshuvah will Hashem throw away our sins.

Others cite a different biblical source, from Nechemiah (8:1), for tashlich: “On the first day of the seventh month [which is, of course, Rosh Hashanah] all the people gathered together as one, to the street that was before the gate of the water” (Rav Reuven Margulies, cited in Piskei Teshuvos 583: footnote 48). Tashlich is recorded by the Rema and the Arizal, and has become standard practice.

It is interesting to note that the earliest sources for tashlich are all Ashkenazic authors, and only later did the custom spread to Sefardic communities. For example, Rav Chaim Vital (Sha’ar Hakavanos, quoted by Kaf Hachayim 583:30) writes, “The custom practiced by the Ashkenazim, which they call ‘tashlich,’ to go on the first day of Rosh Hashanah after Mincha, slightly before sunset, to the Mediterranean Sea or to a spring is a proper custom. It is preferable to do this outside the city, stand on the seashore or alongside the spring and recite three times, ‘Mi Keil Kamocha…’ (Micha 7:18-20).”

Is it a Good Omen?

The Rema, both in Darkei Moshe and in his glosses to Shulchan Aruch, cites the custom of tashlich in what appears to be an unusual place. We would have expected that he mention tashlich as part of the discussion concerning what to do after Rosh Hashanah morning davening, which is found in Chapter 596 of Orach Chayim, or, alternatively, together with the laws of Rosh Hashanah Mincha, which are found in Chapter 598. Indeed, we find other authorities who discuss the rules of tashlich in both of these places. However, the Rema mentions the custom of tashlich earlier, in Chapter 583, where the Tur and Shulchan Aruch record the custom, mentioned in the Gemara, of eating special foods on the night of Rosh Hashanah as a good omen, a siman tov, for the coming year. Why did the Rema insert the practice of tashlich in the wrong place chronologically?

It appears that the Rema includes tashlich in the chapter of good omens for the New Year because the main reason for the custom of tashlich is its powerful symbolism.  One can certainly explain why, according to the Rema, there is a preference to recite tashlich near a river, ocean, or other source that contains fish, since they are a sign of prosperity without ayin hora.

A Different Reason

The Gr”a, in his notes to this Rema, presents a different reason for the custom. He quotes the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni #99):

If Avraham could see the place of the Akeidah, why did it take him three days to get there? The answer is that the Satan first attempted to dissuade Avraham from going. When the Satan realized that this plan would not be successful, the Satan tried a different tactic, and made himself into a large river that would be impossible to pass… Avraham continued on [accompanied by Yitzchak and the two lads] until the river was up to their necks. Avraham then lifted his eyes heavenward, saying, “Master of all worlds, You revealed Yourself to me and said, ‘I am the only One, and you are the only one. Make the entire world know about My name and bring your son as an olah.’ I did not question your words, nor did I delay fulfilling them. Now we are drowning. If my son Yitzchak drowns, how will I guarantee that Your unity be known?” Immediately, Hashem scolded the Satan, who left.

According to this approach, tashlich is a reminder of the tremendous mesiras nefesh of Avraham Avinu. This should make us internalize the message repeated daily in Shema — to love Hashem with all our being, even to sacrifice our lives for Him because we love Him so. Developing this quality of Ahavas Hashem is certainly one of the main goals of Rosh Hashanah. Thus, according to the Gr”a, tashlich is primarily an educational lesson.

A Fishy Place

However, according to the Gr”a’s approach, there is no apparent reason for reciting tashlich near a water source containing fish, a preference mentioned in most early sources. We may also note that the first reason I mentioned, that we want Hashem to wash away our sins as we do teshuvah, should also not require that the water contain fish.

The answer is that there are many other reasons for reciting tashlich at a water source that contains fish. For example, the Levush explains that we should see ourselves as fish caught in a net – this symbolizes how we have gotten caught in the traps laid for us by the yeitzer hora. This comparison should encourage us to do teshuvah and to take the Yomim Nora’im more seriously.

Here is another reason why tashlich should preferably be recited at a water source containing fish. Fish, living their lives concealed under water, are not exposed to ayin hora; we, also, hope not to be exposed to ayin hora (Elyah Zuta).

Must it be Fishy?

Notwithstanding the various reasons to explain saying tashlich at a place populated by fish, the Magen Avraham (583:5) emphasizes that whereas the Maharil advised reciting tashlich at a river with live fish, the Arizal implies that it is equally acceptable to say tashlich at a well, notwithstanding that it contains no fish. I will explain more about this shortly.

Outside the City

The Arizal (quoted by Magen Avraham 583:5) emphasizes that it is preferable to go to a water source outside the city. Based on the Midrashic source cited above, we can well understand that our traveling is an attempt to reenact, in our own small way, the tribulations that Avraham Avinu underwent on his way to performing the incredible mitzvah of akeida.

I quoted earlier Rav Chaim Vital, the main disciple of the Arizal, who writes that one should recite tashlich at the seashore or next to a spring. Going to the Mediterranean or some other sea is certainly hinted at in the verse asking Hashem to throw all one’s sins into the depths of the sea, implying that one is close enough to throw something into the water. Not all gedolei Yisrael were stringent about being next to the body of water when they recited tashlich, but they were satisfied with having the water in sight. For example, it is recorded that the Chasam Sofer went to a high place from where he could see the Danube River running through Pressburg (today known as Bratislava).

Anyone who has been in Yerushalayim for Rosh Hashanah has probably noted that, because there is no flowing river near the city, tashlich is recited in interesting places, such as near mikvaos and alongside buckets of water. For much time, Yerushalayim has been without any significant natural source of water, something unusual for any old city. The custom of reciting tashlich alongside a mikvah or a water cistern in Yerushalayim is mentioned by the Kaf Hachayim (583:30), who permits reciting tashlich even next to an empty water cistern! He explains that tashlich is only an allusion, and the main “water” to which we are referring is the “yam ha’elyon.” Obviously, he is alluding to a kabbalistic reason for tashlich.

In contemporary Yerushalayim, the most common practice is to recite tashlich alongside small backyard fish ponds stocked with a few inexpensive fish from a pet store. I assume that in the time of the Kaf Hachayim, there were few pet stores in Yerushalayim, and the scarcity of both potable water and tolerable living quarters did not allow for backyard fish ponds.

Feeding the Fish

The Maharil is emphatic that one should not take bread to tashlich on Rosh Hashanah to feed the fish. Apparently, this custom of feeding crumbs to the fish was observed over six hundred years ago, despite the opposition of most halachic authorities.

What is wrong with feeding the fish?

It is forbidden to feed any animals, birds or fish on Yom Tov, if they are not dependent on you for their nourishment.

Crumb Carrying

Some authorities quote an additional reason for prohibiting putting bread into the river on Yom Tov. Carrying is permitted on Yom Tov only for items that fulfill some Yom Tov need. Since fish in the sea are not dependent on us for nourishment, carrying in a public domain to feed them desecrates Yom Tov (Mateh Efrayim 598:5).

Instead of Feeding the Fish

Some authorities describe a different practice that does not desecrate Yom Tov: While reciting the word “tashlich,” one should empty out the dirt that one finds in the hems of one’s garment into the water, hinting at casting away our sins. With this act, we should accept doing teshuvah wholeheartedly (Likkutei Mahariach; Kaf Hachayim; see Mateh Efrayim 598:4).

Some sources quote, in the name of the Arizal, that one should only shake out the dust on the tzitzis of one’s talis koton (Likkutei Mahariach, cited by Piskei Teshuvos 583:footnote 50). Obviously, according to this Arizal, women cannot fulfill this part of the custom.

Women and Tashlich

Many authorities are strongly opposed to women going to tashlich altogether (Elef Hamagein 598:7). On the holy day of Rosh Hashanah, there should be no intermingling of the genders, and better that the men not see women altogether. If women want to go to tashlich, the best approach to avoid this problem is that introduced by my Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Ruderman, that women go to tashlich before Mincha and men after.

The Structure of Tashlich

The main part of tashlich is to recite three verses from Micha that allude to the thirteen attributes of Hashem’s kindness. Thus, to understand tashlich well, we should understand the concept of the thirteen attributes.

After the Jewish People sinned by worshiping the Eigel Hazahav, the Golden Calf, Hashem taught Moshe to use these thirteen attributes of His kindness to achieve absolution.

Rabbi Yochanan said: Were it not for the fact that the Torah itself wrote this, it would be impossible to say it. The Torah teaches that Hashem wrapped Himself in a talis like a chazzan and demonstrated to Moshe the order of prayer. Hashem told Moshe: “Whenever the Jews sin, they should perform this order and I will forgive them” (Rosh Hashanah 17b).

Rabbi Yochanan noted that the anthropomorphism of his own statement is rather shocking, and, without scriptural proof, we would refrain from repeating it. Nevertheless, the Torah compelled us to say that Hashem revealed to Moshe a means for pardoning our iniquities. According to the Maharal, Moshe asked Hashem to elucidate, to the extent that a human can comprehend, how Hashem deals with the world in mercy. Hashem did, indeed, enlighten Moshe, enabling him to implore for forgiveness for the Jewish people and teaching him how to lead the Jews in prayer (Chiddushei Agados, Rosh Hashanah 17b s.v. Melameid).

A Word about Attributes

What exactly are the thirteen attributes? For that matter, can we attribute personality characteristics to Hashem?

To quote Rabbeinu Bachyei: Although we no longer know how to beseech, nor do we properly understand the power of the Thirteen Attributes and how they connect to Hashem’s mercy, we still know that the attributes of mercy plead on our behalf, since this is what Hashem promised. Today, when we are without a kohein gadol to atone for our sins and without a mizbei’ach on which to offer korbanos and no Beis Hamikdash in which to pray, we have left only our prayers and these thirteen attributes (Kad Hakemach, Kippurim 2).

Who Knows Thirteen?

The Torah says: Hashem, Hashem, who is a merciful and gracious G-d, slow to anger, full of kindness and truth. He preserves kindness for thousands of generations by forgiving sins, whether they are intentional, rebellious or negligent; and He forgives (Shemos 34:6-7).

There are many opinions among the halachic authorities exactly how to calculate the thirteen merciful attributes of Hashem. The most commonly quoted approach is that of Rabbeinu Tam, who counts each of the three mentions of Hashem’s name at the beginning of the passage, Hashem, Hashem, and Keil, as a separate attribute.

However, it is important to note that the Arizal counted the thirteen merciful attributes in a different way. Whereas Rabbeinu Tam counted Hashem, Hashem, Keil as three difference attributes, the Arizal does not count the first two Names (Hashem, Hashem). Thus, the first attribute mentioned by the verse is Keil. To compensate for the loss of two attributes in the count of thirteen, the Arizal reaches thirteen by dividing the two phrases, erech apayim and notzeir chesed laalafim, each into two different attributes, whereas, according to Rabbeinu Tam’s count, each of these phrases counts only as one.

Micha’s Thirteen Attributes

The kabbalistic sources explain that the three verses of Micha that form the basic structure of tashlich also allude to the thirteen attributes of Hashem. For many years, I tried to figure out how the verses in Micha correspond to the thirteen attributes, until I discovered that this allusion follows the Arizal’s approach to the thirteen attributes. Many machzorim note this method of counting the thirteen attributes by placing the word from Moshe’s original prayer above the verse in Micha to which this attribute corresponds.

What do I do?

At this point, I want to return to the above-quoted Talmudic source that explains the power of the thirteen attributes, and note a very important point:

Hashem told Moshe: “Whenever the Jews sin, they should perform this order and I will forgive them.” The Hebrew word that I have translated as “perform” is ya’asu, which means that the Jews must do something, definitely more than just reading the words. If all that is required is to read these words, the Gemara should have said simply: They should read these words. Obviously, action, which always speaks louder than words, is required to fulfill these instructions and accomplish automatic atonement.

What did the Gemara mean?

Emulate Hashem

The commandment to emulate Hashem is the most important of the 613 mitzvos. To quote the Gemara: Just as Hashem is gracious and merciful, so should you become gracious and merciful (Shabbos 133b). When Hashem told Moshe: Whenever the Jews perform this order, I will forgive them. He meant that when we act towards one another with the same qualities of rachamim as does Hashem, He forgives us. Reciting the thirteen attributes of Hashem’s mercy is the first step towards making ourselves merciful, emulating Hashem’s ways. Ya’asu means that by emulating Hashem’s kindness and His tolerance, by accepting people who annoy and harm us, we become His G-dly People!

This sounds great in theory. What does it mean in practice?

Here are several examples, all taken from the sefer Tomer Devorah, to help us comprehend what our job is:

1. Whenever someone does something wrong (i.e., acts against Hashem’s wishes), at that very moment Hashem is providing all the needs of the offender. This is a tremendous amount of forbearance that Hashem demonstrates. Our mitzvah is to train ourselves to be equally accepting of those who annoy and wrong us.

2. We should appreciate the extent to which Hashem considers the Jews to be His People, and identify with the needs of each Jew on a corresponding level.

3. Hashem waits with infinite patience for the sinner to do teshuvah, always confident in a person’s ability to repent and change. While Hashem is waiting, He continues to provide the sinner with all his needs. Similarly, we should not stand on ceremony, waiting for someone who wronged us to apologize.

4. When a person does teshuvah after sinning, Hashem loves him more than He loved him before he sinned. As the Gemara states: In a place where ba’alei teshuvah stand, complete tzadikim are unable to stand. Therefore, if someone who has wronged me now wants to makes amends, I must befriend him and accept him at a greater level than I had previously.

All of these ideas are included when we observe the mitzvah of tashlich. We should read the verses and think how we can emulate Hashem’s kindness, by demonstrating the same degree of kindness to His creations.

Conclusion

There are so many beautiful lessons to learn from observing the ancient minhag of tashlich. We should be careful to observe this practice in the spirit of the day, and, by internalizing these lessons, may we and all Klal Yisrael merit a kesivah vachasimah tovah.




Eruv Tavshilin

Since Yom Tov begins on Friday, a rare occurrence, we must prepare an eruv tavshilin, whether we live in Eretz Yisrael or in Chutz La’Aretz.

Question #1: Where?

“Is it true that eruv tavshilin is more common in chutz la’aretz than in Eretz Yisroel?”

Question #2: What?

“In what way is the halacha of eruv tavshilin different on Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach from other Yomim Tovim?”

Question #3: Why?

“What is the reason that many people use a hard-boiled egg for eruv tavshilin?”

Foreword

With Shavuos beginning on Thursday evening, the laws of eruv tavshilin are germane both to those living in Eretz Yisroel and to those living in chutz la’aretz. In order to reply accurately to the above inquiries, we must first examine several aspects of this mitzvah that Chazal implemented – particularly, the whys, hows, and whats of eruv tavshilin. Because of space considerations, this article will not be able to address all the issues of eruv tavshilin, but will answer the opening questions that were posed. However, there are other articles on the topic, as well as on the laws of Yom Tov, that may be read on RabbiKaganoff.com.

First, the basics: When Yom Tov falls on Friday, an eruv tavshilin must be made on erev Yom Tov to permit cooking and other preparations on Yom Tov for Shabbos. As it turns out, making an eruv tavshilin is much more common in chutz la’aretz than it is in Eretz Yisroel. Since, in our calendar devised by Hillel Hanasi, the beginning of Sukkos, Pesach and Shmini Atzeres never falls on Friday, the only time there is a need for an eruv tavshilin in Eretz Yisroel is when Shavuos or the seventh day of Pesach falls on Friday, or when Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday. On the other hand, in chutz la’aretz, in additional to these instances, often the two days of Yom Tov fall on Thursday and Friday.

Introduction

When discussing the laws of Yom Tov, the Torah teaches kol melacha lo yei’aseh bahem, ach asher yei’acheil lechol nefesh hu levado yei’aseh lachem,“No work should be performed on these days; however, that which is eaten by everyone (kol nefesh), only that may be prepared for yourselves” (Shemos 12:16). We see from the posuk that, although most melachos are forbidden on Yom Tov, cooking and most other food preparations are permitted. However, cooking is permitted on Yom Tov only when it is for consumption on that day. It is forbidden to cook on Yom Tov for the day after, and at times this is prohibited min haTorah. There is, however, one exception – when Yom Tov falls on Friday and an eruv tavshilin is made, it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

To quote the Mishnah (Beitzah 15b), “When Yom Tov falls on erev Shabbos, it is prohibited to begin cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos. However, it is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, and, if there are leftovers, plan them to be for Shabbos. Furthermore (there is a way in which it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos), by preparing a cooked food from before Yom Tov which he leaves for Shabbos. According to Beis Shamai, this must be two cooked items, and, according to Beis Hillel, one cooked item suffices.” (As we are aware, we also set aside a baked item for the eruv tavshilin, but this is not essential.)

Prior to quoting the dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel, the Mishnah has expressed three distinct concepts:

No cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos

1. It is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos (without making the eruv tavshilin).

Plan-overs

2. It is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, planning to have leftovers for Shabbos.

Eruv tavshilin

3. Making an eruv tavshilin permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Each of these concepts requires clarification:

1. No cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos

It is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Let me explain a question that is implicit here. If it is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos, why does an eruv tavshilin permit it? Or, in other terms, there are three types of eruv that Chazal instituted, eruv techumim, eruv chatzeiros and eruv tavshilin. All three of these mitzvos have the status of a takanas chachamim, which means that they were instituted by Chazal to permit something that is otherwise prohibited because of a rabbinic injunction. An eruv techumim permits walking on Shabbos and Yom Tov beyond the techum Shabbos, the distance outside the city or other “Shabbos residence;” an eruv chatzeiros permits carrying on Shabbos from one individual’s jurisdiction to that of another. Both of these prohibitions permitted by their respective eruvin are rabbinic injunctions. An eruv, which is a rabbinic introduction, cannot permit something that is prohibited min haTorah, as the Gemara asks, “Can an eruv tavshilin permit a Torah prohibition” (Pesachim 45b)?

If cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is permitted min haTorah, and it is prohibited only because of a rabbinic injunction, we can understand how Chazal could create a rabbinic innovation called eruv tavshilin and thereby permit this cooking. To paraphrase this expression of the Gemara, since Chazal created the prohibition, they can also reverse it (ibid.). However, if cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is prohibited min haTorah, how do Chazal have the authority to permit that which the Torah forbade?

Two differing approaches

How we answer this conundrum is dependent on a debate between two amora’im, Rabbah and Rav Chisda (Pesachim 46b), which has major ramifications specifically for this coming Yom Tov, when Shavuos falls on Friday.

Rav Chisda contends that, min haTorah, it is always permitted to cook on a Friday Yom Tov for Shabbos. This is called tzorchei Shabbos na’asin beYom Tov, literally, “Shabbos needs may be performed on Yom Tov.” Since Shabbos and Yom Tov both have kedusha, and are both sometimes called “Shabbos” by the Torah, cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is permitted min haTorah, just as cooking on Yom Tov is permitted for the same day (Rashi ad loc.). The prohibition not to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos is a rabbinic injunction; Chazal prohibited this in order to make sure that people do not cook on Yom Tov for a weekday, or on the first day of Yom Tov for the second, both of which might be prohibited min haTorah. Making an eruv tavshilin permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos, since a person thereby realizes that, without an eruv tavshilin, he cannot cook on Yom Tov even for Shabbos — therefore, he understands that he certainly cannot cook on Yom Tov for any other day.

The other position — ho’il

Rabbah contends that it is often prohibited min haTorah to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos. In other words, he maintains that tzorchei Shabbos einam na’asin beYom Tov – notwithstanding that Yom Tov is sometimes called Shabbos, it is still prohibited min haTorah to cook on Yom Tov for any other day, including Shabbos!

If that is true, how can an eruv tavshilin, which is a rabbinic solution, permit that which is prohibited min haTorah?

The answer is a halachic concept called ho’il, which permits cooking on Yom Tov min haTorah whenever you might have a need for extra cooked food on Yom Tov itself, even when you are not expecting to need the extra food and it is unlikely that such a situation will arise. For example, after finishing the Yom Tov day seudah, min haTorah it is permitted to cook another meal, provided it will be ready to eat before the Yom Tov day is over. This is because unexpected guests may arrive at your door, and you now have a meal ready to serve them. The idea that perhaps something will happen is expressed as the word ho’il; this word is now used as a brief way of referring to a complicated legal concept.

Therefore, whenever it is possible that guests may yet arrive on Yom Tov, it is permitted to cook for them min haTorah. Although miderabbanan it is not permitted to rely on ho’il to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos, since this is only a rabbinic injunction, eruv tavshilin can permit the cooking.

However, this heter applies only as long as the meal will be ready to be eaten while it is still Yom Tov. There is no heter to begin cooking a meal on Yom Tov that will not be ready until Yom Tov is over g . In other words, according to Rabbah, when ho’il does not apply, it is prohibited min haTorah to cook. Under these circumstances, an eruv tavshilin will not permit someone to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Thus, there is a halachic difference between Rabbah and Rav Chisda that affects us! According to Rabbah, it is not permitted to put a cholent on the fire on Friday that will not be ready to eat until sometime on Shabbos. Usually, it is perfectly fine to cook food on Friday that will be left on a properly covered fire when Shabbos starts and not ready to eat until the Friday night seudah. However, this Yom Tov it is not permitted to do this, according to Rabbah. Since this food will not be ready to eat on Yom Tov, the law of ho’il does not apply. Since the rule of ho’il does not apply, there is no heter to cook the cholent on Yom Tov for Shabbos, even if one makes an eruv tavshilin! Thus, the menu for Shabbos may have to depend on what one is planning to cook, or, more accurately, on whether it will be cooked in a way that it can be eaten on Yom Tov.

How do we rule?

The Mishnah Berurah, in Biur Halacha (527:1), notes that it is unclear whether we rule according to Rabbah or according to Rav Chisda. He concludes, therefore, that it is preferred to be machmir and have the food cooked for Shabbos in a way that ho’il applies, particularly when we are dealing with a potential question of a Torah law, such as when the first day of Yom Tov falls on Friday, as it does on Shavuos. This means that all food cooked for Shabbos should be edible before Shabbos arrives. The Biur Halacha rules that, under extenuating circumstances, it is permitted to rely on the rishonim who rule according to Rav Chisda’s opinion, but it is preferable lechatchilah to have the food for Shabbos cooked in a way that it will be already edible on Friday.

When the the first day of Yom Tov falls on Thursday, and, therefore, Friday Yom Tov is miderabbanan, there is more latitude to be lenient.

At this point, we can answer the second of our opening questions: “In what way is the halacha of eruv tavshilin different on Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach from other Yomim Tovim?”

In the calendar we currently use, the first day of Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach never fall on Thursday, although they both often fall on Friday. When this happens, Friday is Yom Tov min haTorah, and it is important to plan the menu such that the meals cooked on Friday for Shabbos will be ready to eat when there is still time to eat them on Yom Tov.

Plan-overs

At this point, we will examine the second point that we derived from the Mishnah, which stated, “It is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, and, if there are leftovers, plan them to be for Shabbos.” In other words, even without having made an eruv tavshilin, there is a way to cook more than you need on Yom Tov in order to have plenty of leftovers, or, shall we call them, “plan-overs.” One may cook amply for the Yom Tov meal, knowing that there will certainly be leftovers that can be served on Shabbos. As a matter of fact, if one follows the halacha correctly here, it is even permitted to cook on the first day of Yom Tov planning to have enough leftover to serve on the second day, or even on a weekday. This is provided that each dish is, or could be, served at a Yom Tov meal on the day that it was prepared.

This plan-over preparation is called marbeh beshiurim, literally, “increasing the quantities,”which means that, while preparing food on Yom Tov, it is permitted to include a greater quantity while cooking, provided no additional melacha act is performed. For example, if you need to heat a small amount of water for a cup of tea, you may place a large pot of water on the fire, since only one act of heating water — placing a pot on the fire — is being performed.

However, it is prohibited if an additional melacha action is performed. For example, if the pot is already on the fire, you may not add extra water to it, since this involves a new melacha action.

Adding more

Here are other examples. You are making a cholent or cooking soup — you may add greater quantities of meat, beans or other ingredients than you will need for your Yom Tov meal into the pot before it is placed on the stove, because you place the entire pot onto the fire at one time, or turn up the fire only once, regardless as to how much is thereby being cooked.You may fill a pot with meat on the first day of Yom Tov, even though you need only one piece for the first day.

However, it is prohibited to prepare individual units of a food item, knowing that you are preparing more than can possibly be eaten on Yom Tov. For this reason, you may not fry more schnitzel or similar items than you will possibly need for a Yom Tov meal, since these involve separate melacha actions. Similarly, it is forbidden to bake more than what you will possibly need for the day (Beitzah 17a). Adding water or meat before putting the pot on the fire simply increases the quantity cooked, but does not increase the number of melacha acts, whereas shaping each loaf or roll is done separately, thus increasing the number of acts performed.

Why is this permitted?

Why is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov by use of marbeh beshiurim? We would think that cooking extra on Yom Tov is forbidden, just as in a situation of pikuach nefesh, where it is forbidden to cook more than what is necessary for the needs of the ill person. Why, then, is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov, as long as no extra melacha actions are performed?

The Ran (Beitzah 9b in Rif pages, s.v. Umiha) explains that there is a qualitative difference between the performance of melacha actions on Shabbos (or Yom Tov) to save someone’s life, and cooking on Yom Tov. Although saving lives is a huge mitzvah and supersedes Shabbos, the act performed is still an act of melacha. On the other hand, prohibited activities on Yom Tov are defined as melachos that are not food preparatory. Preparing food on Yom Tov involves no melacha activity whatsoever, and is as permitted on Yom Tov as it is to set the table on Shabbos. Since no melacha activity is performed, there is nothing wrong with adding more to cook while the Yom Tov meal is prepared, provided that no additional melacha action is done.

Hard-boiled eruv?

At this point, let us examine the third of our opening questions: “Why do many people use a hard-boiled egg for eruv tavshilin?”

It is permitted to continue cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos only as long as the eruv tavshilin, or at least a kezayis of the cooked part of the eruv tavshilin, still exists. In the days before refrigeration, someone who prepared meat or a different food on Wednesday or Thursday for eating on Shabbos was faced with a practical problem. Once you cook food, it begins to spoil very quickly, if it is not refrigerated. Therefore, notes the Aruch Hashulchan, it was not uncommon that the eruv tavshilin was no longer edible when people were cooking on Wednesday for Shabbos, and an inedible eruv tavshilin no longer permits you to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Using a hard-boiled egg for the eruv tavshilin resolved this problem, since an egg cooked before Yom Tov and kept without refrigeration will still be edible on Shabbos.

However, in today’s world, when you can place the cooked part of your eruv tavshilin in the refrigerator and it will last until Shabbos, it is preferred to use as eruv tavshilin a cooked delicacy that you intend to serve at the Shabbos meal. For this reason, I for the eruv tavshilin the gefilte fish that will be served on Shabbos.

Conclusion

The Torah refers to the Yomim Tovim as mo’ed. Just as the word ohel mo’ed refers to the tent in the desert which served as a meeting place between Hashemand the Jewish people, so, too, a mo’ed is a meeting time between Hashemand the Jewish people (Hirsch, Vayikra 23:3 and Horeb). Unlike Shabbos,when we refrain from all melacha activity, on Yom Tov the Torah permits melacha activity that enhances the celebration of the Yom Tov as a mo’ed. Permitting us to cook delicious, fresh meals allows an even greater celebration of this unique meeting time with Hashem.




It’s Hip to Dip

The Charoses Saga

Question #1: How Deep a Dip?

How deep into the charoses am I supposed to dip the maror?

Question #2: Only Lettuce!

What do you serve for karpas, if you realize that the only vegetable you have in the house is the lettuce you were planning to use for maror?

Introduction

Much Pesach and pre-Pesach discussion focuses on the vast preparation necessary for the holiday and, also, on the mitzvos of the Seder. Because of the importance of the mitzvos of hagadah and matzoh, some of the less vital aspects of the Seder sometimes get shunted to the side. One of these observances is that of the charoses, which actually has considerable discussion in the Gemara. We will be discussing some of the questions germane to charoses, such as:

Is charoses a mitzvah of its own, or just a garnish to the maror?

If it is a mitzvah, how do we fulfill its observance?

Does it require eating a kezayis within a specific timeframe?

Let us begin our discussion from the earliest halachic source that mentions charoses, the Mishnah (Pesachim 114a) that states, “They brought in front of him [the person leading the Seder] matzoh, lettuce, charoses and two cooked items [these correspond to the zeroa and the beitzah that we have at our Seder], even though charoses is not a mitzvah. Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok says that it is a mitzvah. [We will soon explain the two sides in this dispute.] During the era of the Beis Hamikdash, they also brought the roasted korban Pesach at this time.”

We see that this Mishnah is of a relatively later date, after the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed and there was no longer a korban Pesach, and the two “cooked items” at the Seder are to remind us of the korban Pesach and the korban chagigah. This is interesting, because the very next Mishnah (Pesachim 116a) dates back to the era of the Beis Hamikdash, since its discussion of the four questions includes a question that assumes that there is a korban Pesach at the Seder: She’bechol haleilos anu ochlin basar shaluk, tzeli umevushal, halailah hazeh kulo tzeli, “On all other nights we eat meat that is either boiled, roasted or cooked; this night, we eat only roasted [meat].” Obviously, this Mishnah dates to the time of the Beis Hamikdash and refers to the eating of the roasted korbanos Pesach and chagigah. The Gemara (Pesachim 70a) explains that the text of this Mishnah follows the opinion of a tanna, Ben Teima, who contends that the korban chagigah eaten Pesach night at the time of the Beis Hamikdash was also required to be roasted. Thus, in his opinion, all meat eaten at the Seder was roasted.

The structure of this chapter of the Mishnah implies that there was an earlier edition of this Mishnah dating to the time of the Beis Hamikdash, and that when Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi edited it after the churban, he rewrote certain parts to accommodate the new reality, but he left other parts in their original format.

A mitzvah or a garnish?

We asked, above, whether charoses is a mitzvah on its own, or just a garnish to the maror. This appears to be the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok in the Mishnah that I quoted. Let us see the passage of the Gemara (116a) that examines this dispute: First, the Gemara devotes itself to explaining the opinion of the Tanna Kamma, asking: Since this tanna insists that there is no mitzvah in using charoses, why prepare it and serve it at the Seder? The Gemara answers that charoses is brought to the Seder because of kafa, which is some type of toxin. Rashi and Rabbeinu Chananel disagree as to what kafa is. According to Rashi, it is in the sap of the maror, whereas Rabbeinu Chananel explains it to be an insect that is in the maror.

Tosafos (Pesachim 115b s.v. Kafa), in explaining Rabbeinu Chananel’s approach to kafa, asks the following: If kafa is an insect, then eating lettuce any time should be prohibited, because of a kashrus concern. Tosafos answers that most of the time, maror does not contain kafa. Since it is rare for maror to contain kafa, there is no kashrus concern when eating lettuce or other maror vegetables that you may be eating non-kosher kafa. (There may be a concern that you will eat thrips, aphids, leaf miners or other insects, but that is not the topic for today’s article. I recommend that our concerned readers contact their rav, posek or local vaad hakashrus for direction.)

However, there is a general halachic ruling of chamira sakanta mei’isura (see Chullin 10a), we are required to be more careful about safety concerns than about prohibitions. In other words, although there is no kashrus concern about possibly consuming kafa, there is still a safety concern, and for this reason, we eat the maror with charoses, which will prevent the toxin in the kafa from harming anyone.

According to both Rashi and Rabbeinu Chananel, we are faced with a question: When lettuce is eaten as karpas, most poskim (with the exception of Rashi and Tosafos, 114a s.v. Metabeil), do not require that it be dipped in charoses. What happened to the concern about kafa? The same question can be asked regarding eating lettuce or the other species of maror at any other time of the year. The halacha does not require that we eat these species with charoses – why not? Since we rule that chamira sakanta mei’isura, shouldn’t we always be required to eat charoses with our lettuce?

Rabbeinu Yonah asks this question and provides the following observation: “All year long, we eat lettuce without charoses, without being concerned about the ill effects that kafa causes… We are concerned only when we fulfill the mitzvah of maror – then the chachamim were careful that this [mitzvah] should not cause any possibility of danger.” In other words, the danger of kafa is not significant enough for us to show concern. However, in the opinion of the Sages, we should be careful to not let a mitzvah act cause even the remotest possibility of danger, and therefore we should eat the maror of the mitzvah with charoses (quoted by Rosh, Pesachim 10:25).

Tasting the maror

When the lettuce is eaten as maror, and you dip it deep into the charoses, you can hardly taste the lettuce, and you certainly don’t notice any bitterness. Have you fulfilled the mitzvah of maror this way?

The Gemara (Pesachim 115b) quotes the following: “Rav Papa said, ‘Don’t leave the maror sitting in the charoses, out of concern that the acid of the spices will overwhelm the bitterness, and we require the taste of maror, which you will not have.”

How deep a dip?

How deep into the charoses am I to dip the maror?

The answer to this question, which involves a dispute among the poskim, depends on the following discussion in the Gemara.

How does charoses work? The Gemara (Pesachim 115b) quotes a dispute whether it is contact with the charoses that overcomes the kafa, or whether it is the fragrance of the charoses that does the job. The difference in practical halacha is whether it is required to submerge the maror into the charoses, or if it is sufficient to dip the maror into the charoses. This difference of opinion in the Gemara manifests itself in a dispute between the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 475:1) and the Pri Chodosh.

The Shulchan Aruch rules that the maror should be submerged in the charoses, but you should not leave the maror in the charoses for long, and you should shake off the charoses. The Pri Chodosh notes that the prevalent custom is to simply dip the maror into the charoses, and he explains why this is sufficient. Both of these approaches are in order that the taste of the charoses not overwhelm that of the maror. The Mishnah Berurah mentions the opinion of the Pri Chodosh that disagrees with the Shulchan Aruch, and the custom in most places accords with the Pri Chodosh.

Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok

Until this point, we have been explaining the position of the Tanna Kamma. The Mishnah (Pesachim 114a) quotes Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok as saying that charoses is a mitzvah. The Gemara (ad locum 116a) asks, “What is the mitzvah? Rabbi Levi said, ‘In commemoration of the tapuach [usually translated as “apple” or “apple tree”].’ Rabbi Yochanan said, ‘To remember the clay [from which the bricks were baked in Mitzrayim].’”

Rashi explains the opinion of Rabbi Levi by quoting the verse in Shir Hashirim (8:5), tachas hatapuach o’rar’tich, “I roused you under the tapuach,” and the Midrash that the Jewish women encouraged their disheartened husbands to continue with married life, and thereby succeeded in creating the large Jewish nation that left Mitzrayim.

To quote the passage of Gemara that retells this miracle, “Because of the merit of the righteous women of that generation, Yisroel was redeemed from Egypt. When they went to draw water, Hashem prepared small fish in their buckets, such that what they drew was half water and half fish. The women then took two pots, one of hot water and one of cooked fish, and went to their husbands in the field. They washed their husbands, anointed them, fed them and gave them to drink… When the women became pregnant, they returned home. When it came time for them to give birth, they went out to the fields and gave birth under the tapuach, as the posuk says, ‘I roused you under the tapuach.’ Hashem sent from his upper heavens someone to make the children good-looking… When the Egyptians realized what had happened, they came to kill them [the Jewish women and the babies], but they were miraculously absorbed into the earth. At that point, they [the Jewish men] brought oxen who plowed above them” (Sotah 11b).

The Gemara in Pesachim, germane to the discussion about the charoses, continues: “Abaya said, ‘Therefore, you should make the charoses acidic [by adding apples, other fruits or vinegar], to remember the miracle of tapuach, and you should thicken the charoses, similar to the way clay functions.’ We found a beraisa supporting Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion [that charoses should contain spices] as a commemoration of the straw, and that the charoses should be ground up well, to commemorate the clay. Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok said: ‘The merchants of Yerushalayim used to advertise from the windows of their stores, “Come and purchase spices for the mitzvah.”’”

There is also a passage of Talmud Yerushalmi that states that the charoses should be of a thin consistency, so that it reminds us of makas dam.

Charoses recipe

What types of spices should be included in the charoses? The Rif and the Rosh both mention that charoses should contain spices such as cinnamon and ginger. This is in accordance with the description of Rabbi Yochanan, that it should have spices that have a physical appearance somewhat similar to that of straw.

The Rambam (Hilchos Chometz Umatzoh 7:11) adds to the recipe that it should include something like mashed dates, mashed dried figs or mashed raisins.

What is the dispute?

Above, I quoted the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok whether charoses is a mitzvah or not. What practical application results from this dispute?

It seems from the discussion in the Gemara that the two tanna’im disagree regarding the recipe that we should use for charoses. According to the Tanna Kamma, the requirement is that charoses contain some ingredient that will mitigate the toxicity of the kafa. However, Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok rules that it should contain something acidic, like wine, apples or vinegar, and spices that bear a physical resemblance to straw; and that it should have a consistency that reminds us of clay. And, according to the Yerushalmi, the final product should have the viscosity of a thick liquid.

The position of the Rambam on this topic seems to have changed from what he held initially. In his commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam seems to understand that the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok is that, according to Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok, charoses is a mitzvah on the night of the Seder that requires the recital of a brocha prior to eating it, whereas according to the Tanna Kamma charoses in not a mitzvah and does not require a brocha. The Rambam writes that the halacha is not like Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok. However, in the Mishneh Torah the Rambam seems to have had a change of opinion, as he rules that charoses is a mitzvah (Lechem Mishneh). He also seems to understand that the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok is as explained above, regarding which ingredients are required in the charoses (see Magid Mishnah, Hilchos Chometz Umatzoh 7:11).

Dip the matzoh in charoses?

There is also another interesting dispute among the very early poskim. Most people today have the custom that when they eat the matzoh the first night of Pesach to fulfill the mitzvah, they do not dip the matzoh in salt or anything else. There are some who dip it in salt. However, several very early authorities, including Rav Amram Gaon, Rabbeinu Yosef, Rashi, Rabbeinu Shmayah (quoted by Tosafos, Pesachim 114a s.v. Metabeil) and the Rambam rule that when eating the very first matzoh, you should dip the matzoh into charoses! What is the Talmudic source for this ruling?

Some explain that when the Mishnah states that you should bring out the charoses together with the matzoh, it is implying that just as we dip our hamotzi into salt or something similar the rest of the year, at the Seder the matzoh should also be dipped into something to make it tastier – in this case, charoses.

Others explain that Rav Amram and the Rambam understood that this is part of the machlokes between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok.

Only lettuce!

At this point, let us explain the third of our opening questions: “What do you serve for karpas, if you realize that the only vegetable you have in the house is the lettuce you were planning to use for maror?”

This situation is found in the following Mishnah (Pesachim 114a), which describes someone who had only one vegetable available for the Seder: the lettuce that he will be using for the mitzvah of eating maror. Since this is his only vegetable, it will have to serve also as his karpas.  The Mishnah says, “They brought in front of him and he dips the lettuce, prior to the lettuce that he will be eating after the matzoh.” There is a dispute between Rashi and his grandson, the Rashbam, as to how he dipped this lettuce. Rashi explains that he dips it into the charoses, presumably for the same reasons why the maror is dipped into the charoses. According to the Rashbam, when the lettuce is eaten for karpas, it is not dipped into the charoses, but into something else. Most of us are familiar with a custom of dipping the karpas into saltwater. I have also seen references to customs of dipping the karpas into vinegar or wine. The Rashbam’s opinion is that, notwithstanding that lettuce will also be used for maror, when being used as karpas, it is treated like karpas and dipped into something other than charoses.

The Gemara (114b) raises a question here: If for karpas you are eating lettuce, with which you can fulfill the mitzvah of maror, when do you recite the brocha of al achilas maror? How can you recite this brocha later, after you have already eaten maror? The Gemara concludes that you do not fulfill the mitzvah of maror when you eat the lettuce as karpas, a concept called mitzvos tzerichos kavanah, fulfilling a mitzvah requires that you have in mind to perform it (Tosafos ad locum).

Still, although the rule is that mitzvos tzerichos kavanah, there is a dispute as to when you recite the brocha of al achilas maror. Rav Huna rules that you recite it prior to eating the lettuce for maror, whereas Rav Chisda rules that you recite it prior to eating the lettuce for karpas, even though the main mitzvah of eating maror will be fulfilled later. The Gemara then describes how later amora’im ruled, some following Rav Huna and others Rav Chisda. The Gemara concludes that the halacha follows Rav Chisda. Despite this conclusion, an amora, Rav Acha the son of Rava, went out of his way to make sure that he had other vegetables in the house, so that he could avoid the entire question by serving something else for karpas.

Conclusion

The Seder is a very special time for us to transmit our mesorah and some of the most basic of our Jewish beliefs to our children and future generations. Chazal added to the beautiful Torah mitzvos of hagadah, matzoh, and maror many other mitzvos that broaden the entire experience. We should also note the Gemara (Avodah Zarah 35a) that teaches that the rabbinic laws are dearer than the Torah laws, since they demonstrate how much the Jewish people, as a nation, value our special relationship with Hashem.




Mizmor Lesodah, Parshas Tzav and Erev Pesach

Question #1: Korban Todah or Bensching Gomeil?

“Which is the better way to thank Hashem for a personal salvation, by reciting birchas hagomeil, or by offering a korban todah?”

Question #2: The Breadwinner!

“Why is the korban todah accompanied by so many loaves of bread and so much matzoh?”

Question #3: Mizmor Lesodah and Pesach

“I recently assumed a position teaching in a small-town day school. Before Pesach, I mentioned that we do not recite Mizmor Lesodah on Erev and Chol Hamoed Pesach. One of the students afterwards told me that this is not his family minhag, but only Ashkenazi practice. Is he correct?”

Answer:

Although Chapter 100 of Tehillim is known by its opening words as Mizmor Lesodah, there actually are two different chapters of Tehillim, #100 and #107, that devote themselves to the thanksgiving acknowledgement of someone who has survived a major physical challenge. In Psalm 107, Dovid Hamelech describes four different types of treacherous predicaments — traveling through the desert, traveling overseas, illness, and imprisonment — in which a person would pray to Hashem for salvation. When the person survives the travails and thanks Hashem, this thanks is reflected in the passage , Yodu lashem chasdo venifle’osav livnei adam, “they acknowledge thanks to Hashem for His kindness and His wondrous deeds for mankind.”These words are repeated four times, once after each of the four situations is described.

The Gemara cites this Psalm as the source for many of the laws of birchas hagomeil, the brocha we recite when surviving these calamities. To quote the Gemara: Four people need to acknowledge thanks to Hashem.

Actually, someone who survived these predicaments should offer a korban todah, which is described in parshas Tzav. The birchas hagomeil is recited in place of the korban todah that we cannot bring, since, unfortunately, our Beis Hamikdash lies in ruin (Rosh, Brachos 9:3; Tur, Orach Chayim 219).

What are the unusual features of the korban todah?

The korban todah is a specialized variety of shelamim, whose name means, according to the Toras Kohanim, that it creates peace in the world, since the owner, the kohen and the mizbeiach (the altar) all share in consuming it (quoted by Rashi, Vayikra 3:1). A shelamim, which was perhaps the most common korban in the Beis Hamikdash, was offered to express the desire to draw closer to Hashem from a sense that he lacks nothing in his physical life (see Commentary of Rav Hirsch, Vayikra 3:1).

The korban todah is offered following the general procedures and rules of a shelamim; however, it has several unique features. The first is that the korban is accompanied by a huge amount of bread, called korbanos mincha (plural, menachos), a total of forty loaves. Thirty of these comprise ten loaves each of three varieties of matzoh. However, the remaining ten loaves are highly unusual: first of all they are chometz, and this is the only instance of a private korban that includes chometz. (There is only one other korban that is chometz, and that is the two loaves offered by the community on Shavuos.) As a result, the korban todah could not be offered on Erev Pesach or on Pesach itself.

The chometz loaves are unusual in another way, in that each of them is three times the volume of the matzoh loaves (see Menachos 76b). Thus, the ten chometz loaves were, together, of equal size to the thirty matzohs.

Of the four varieties of mincha that accompany the korban todah, one of each type of loaf is given to the kohen to take home and consume together with his family and friends. The other 36 loaves are given to the offerer of the korban.

There is another unusual facet of the korban todah offering. Whereas a korban shelamim may be eaten until nightfall of the next day after it is offered, the korban todah must be eaten before the morning after it was offered, a much shorter period of time. Chazal further shortened the time it may be eaten — permitting it to be eaten only until halachic midnight — to assure that no one eat the korban when it is forbidden to do so.

Thus, there are three ways in which the korban todah is treated differently from an ordinary shelamim: 1) the todah is accompanied by an absolutely huge amount of bread, made from a total of twenty isronim of flour, which is twenty times the amount of flour that requires one to separate challah; 2) half of this bread is chometz and half matzoh; and 3) the korban and its bread must be consumed within a very short period of time.

Why would the Torah “impose” these additional requirements on the offerer of the korban? Well, let us figure out what is he going to do. He has a significant amount of holy meat that must be eaten by midnight, and a huge amount of accompanying bread with the same restrictions. What will he do?

Presumably, he will invite a large crowd to join him in his feast and will thereby explain to them the reason for his repast. Thus, we increase the appreciation of others forthe salvation that Hashem has provided him, which is the cause of this thanksgiving. This now leads us directly into our discussion of the chapter of Tehillim that begins with the words Mizmor Lesodah.

Mizmor Lesodah

Whereas the above-mentioned Chapter 107 of Tehillim describes the background behind korban todah and birchas hagomeil, the 100th chapter of Tehillim, Mizmor Lesodah, is a sample praise that the saved person recites. Although only five verses long, this psalm, one of the eleven written by Moshe Rabbeinu (see Rashi ad locum), captivates the emotion of a person who has just survived a major ordeal. The first verse expresses the need for everyone on Earth to recognize Hashem, certainly something that conveys the emotions of someone very recently saved from a major tribulation. The second verse shares the same passion, since it calls upon everyone to serve Hashem in gladness and to appear before Him in jubilation. The third sentence continues this idea. In it, the thankful person calls on everyone to recognize that Hashem is the personal G-d of every individual, that we are His people and the sheep of his pasture. He then calls on all to enter into Hashem’s gates and His courts, so that we can thank and bless Him. We should note that the gates of the Beis Hamikdash were meant for all of mankind, not only the Jewish people, as mankind is specifically included in Shlomoh Hamelech’s prayer while inaugurating the Beis Hamikdash (Melachim I 8:41-43).

The closing sentence of Mizmor Lesodah is also very significant: “For Hashem is good, His kindness is forever, and our trust should be placed in Him in every future generation.” (We should note that the word olam in Tanach means “forever” and never means “world,” which is a meaning given to this word by Chazal. The most common Tanach word for “world” is teiveil; see, for example, Tehillim 19:5; 33:8; and 90:2 — all of which are recited during the Pesukei Dezimra of Shabbos and 96:10, 13; 97:4; 98:7, which are part of kabbalas Shabbos.) The celebrant calls upon those he has assembled to spread the message that Hashem is the only Source of all good, and that we should recognize this at all times, not only in the extraordinary situations where we see the manifestation of His presence!

We can now understand better why the Mizmor Lesodah chapter of Tehillim is structured as it is. It provides the beneficiary of Hashem’s miracle with a drosha to present at the seudas hodaah that he makes with all the bread and meat that he does not want to go to waste — complete with encouragement to others to internalize our thanks to Hashem.

Clearly, then, this psalm was meant to be recited by the thankful person prior to offering his korban, and this is his invitation to others to join him as he thanks Hashem. The Avudraham notes thatHashem’s name appears four times in the psalm, corresponding to the four people who need to thank Him for their salvation.

Mizmor Lesodah on Shabbos

We find a dispute among early authorities whether one should recite Mizmor Lesodah on Shabbos (Shibbolei Haleket, quoted by Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 281). Why should this be?

Since the korban todah is a voluntary offering, it cannot be offered on Shabbos. The Tur mentions that established custom is to omit Mizmor Lesodah on Shabbos and Yom Tov, out of concern that when the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt, someone may mistakenly offer the korban todah on these days. On Shabbos, of course, it is prohibited to offer any korban other than the required daily tamid and the special Shabbos korbanos, whereas on Yom Tov one may offer only voluntary korbanos that are brought because of the Yom Tov (Beitzah 19b).

The Tur does not agree that this is a valid reason to omit reciting Mizmor Lesodah on these days, contending that we need not be concerned that people will mistakenly offer a korban todah on Shabbos or Yom Tov (Orach Chayim, Chapter 51 and Chapter 281). Others explain that we recite Mizmor Lesodah to remind us of the korban todah, and since it was not offered on these days, there is no point in reciting it (see Pri Megadim, Eishel Avraham 51:11). Perhaps this is done as an aspect of u’neshalma parim sefaseinu (Hoshea 14:3), “may our lips replace the bulls (of offerings),” which is interpreted to mean that when we have no Beis Hamikdash, we recite passages that commemorate those offerings. For this reason, the custom developed among Ashkenazim to omit Mizmor Lesodah on days that the offering could not be brought in the Beis Hamikdash.

Mizmor Lesodah on Chol Hamoed Pesach

For the same reason that Mizmor Lesodah is omitted on Shabbos, Ashkenazim omit reciting it on Chol Hamoed Pesach. Since the korban todah contained chometz, it could not be offered on Pesach; therefore Ashkenazim refrain from saying Mizmor Lesodah.

Mizmor Lesodah on Erev Pesach

Ashkenazic custom is to omit Mizmor Lesodah on Erev Yom Kippur and on Erev Pesach. The korban todah and its breads can usually be eaten until the midnight after the day it was offered. However, were one to offer a korban todah early on Erev Yom Kippur or on Erev Pesach, one would be restricted to eating its chometz for only a few hours. Since one may not offer a korban whose time limit is curtailed, one may not offer a korban todah on these days, and, following Ashkenazic practice, Mizmor Lesodah is omitted then, also. The common custom among Sefardim is to recite Mizmor Lesodah on Erev Yom Kippur, Erev Pesach and Chol Hamoed Pesach (Pri Chodosh 429:2; Kaf Hachayim 51:51-52).

With this background, I can now return to the third question raised above.

“I recently assumed a position teaching in a small town day school. Before Pesach, I mentioned that we do not recite Mizmor Lesodah on Erev and Chol Hamoed Pesach. One of the students afterwards told me that this is not his family minhag, but only Ashkenazi practice. Is he correct?”

Indeed, in this instance, the student is correct. Hopefully, the rebbe was not that badly embarrassed.

Mizmor Lesodah and our daily davening

In order to make sure that this thanks to Hashem takes place daily, the chapter of Mizmor Lesodah was introduced into our daily pesukei dezimra. We should remember that miracles happen to us daily, even when we do not realize it (quoted in name of Sefer Nehora; see also Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 281). Although Mizmor Lesodah was not part of the original structure of the daily prayers established by the Anshei Keneses Hagedolah, long before the time of the Rishonim, it was already common practice to include it as part of the daily recital of pesukei dezimra and to say it almost at the beginning. The importance of reciting this psalm should not be underestimated. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 51:9), states: One should recite Mizmor Lesodah with song, since eventually all songs will cease, except for Mizmor Lesodah. This statement of Chazal is explained by Rav Hirsch (Commentary to Psalm 100) in the following manner: One day in the future, everything on Earth will be so ideal that there will be no reason to supplicate Hashem for changes. Even then, prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving will still be appropriate.




Now I Have It, Now I Don’t

Question #1: Snail Mail

I mailed some hamantashen to a non-frum relative, well before Purim, as a “kiruv” gesture of friendship. The efficient post office has not yet delivered it. I am concerned that (1) as a result, my relative may eat chometz on Pesach; (2) I will be in violation of owning chometz on Pesach.

Question #2: Moonshine in the First Month!

The police confiscated some contraband moonshine in the beginning of April, issuing a criminal citation for the violation. Subsequently, the criminal charges were dropped. On Pesach, the police appeared at the door of the moonshine vendor to return the liquor, who told them that he could not receive the merchandise on his Jewish holiday. They came back to return it after Pesach. May he sell the liquor?

Question #3: Whiskey She’avar Alav haPesach

A non-Jewish business contact was shipped a gift of expensive whiskey, which never arrived. Instead, the shipping company returned it to the Jewish sender, and it arrived shortly after Pesach. Is this prohibited because of chometz she’avar alav haPesach?

Foreword

The above questions are all based on responsa in prominent late poskim, specifically, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Meir Arik, and the Sochatchover, Rav Avraham Bornstein, often referred to by the names of his most famous two seforim, the Avnei Neizer and the Eglei Tal. Each of our openings questions relates to a serious halachic shaylah involving two different issues:

(1) A legal circumstance referred to as shelo ve’eino birshuso,which means property that you own but is not under your control (Bava Kama 68b-70a and many other places).

(2) The specific ramifications that shelo ve’eino birshuso has regarding owning chometz on Pesach.

Shelo ve’eino birshuso

The concept of shelo ve’eino birshuso translates, literally, as “your property, but not in your jurisdiction.” The Gemara explains that when an item is stolen, neither the original owner nor the thief has the halachic ability to declare the stolen property as hekdesh, the property of the Beis Hamikdash, as long as the original owner has not lost hope that he might retrieve it. The thief cannot make it hekdesh, because it is not his property, and only an owner can declare an item hekdesh. But the original owner, also, cannot make it hekdesh, because it is outside his control, and only an item within your control can be declared hekdesh. Thus, the stolen item flounders in a twilight zone, in which no one has full legal control over it – it is in a no man’s land.

More important for our purposes, just as neither the thief nor the owner can declare the item hekdesh, they also cannot sell it. This creates an intriguing conundrum, when we need to make sure that no Jew owns chometz on Pesach. The owner certainly does not want to own chometz on Pesach and would like to include it with the chometz that he sells to a non-Jew, if he can. A self-respecting Jewish thief may, also, not want to violate bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei. He may be a gonif, and his gelt is earned in a non-kosher way, but he wouldn’t dream of owning chometz on Pesach! So, what does he do with the cases of Chivas Regal that he lifted and for which he has not yet found a fence? (For some interesting reason, in all of the teshuvos I found, the question was asked by the original owner, and not from the perspective of the thief! Maybe thieves are reticent to ask their shaylos from prominent rabbonim?)

Introduction

The Torah prohibits a Jew from owning chometz on Pesach. This is included in the two lo sa’aseh proscriptions of bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei, one of which prohibits a Jew from owning chometz that may be seen, but does not prohibit owning buried chometz that cannot be seen; and the other prohibits owning chometz, even when it has been buried. In other words, owning buried chometz violates one lo sa’aseh, that of bal yimatzei; owning unburied chometz violates two lo sa’aseh, bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei. Because of this distinction, the Rambam counts bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei as two separate lo sa’aseh prohibitions among the 365 lo sa’aseh mitzvos of the Torah. Most authorities contend that these two prohibitions apply both to chometz gamur (pure chometz) and to ta’aroves chometz (chometz mixed into another product). (See, however, the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam, quoted in Tosafos, Pesachim 42a s.v. ve’eilu.)

To enforce these Torah mitzvos, Chazal penalized a Jew who owned chometz during Pesach by barring benefiting from it. Chometz prohibited because of this penalty is called chometz she’avar alav haPesach.

Tashbisu

There is also a positive mitzvah to destroy chometz, tashbisu, which requires a Jew to rid himself of his chometz before Pesach. Since the Torah uses an unusual term, tashbisu, the rishonim explain that there are actually two ways to avoid violating bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei, and both involve the mitzvah of tashbisu.

Biur chometz: One is by physically destroying the chometz, either by burning it or disposing of in a different, equally effective way (Mishnah, Pesachim 21a and numerous places in the Gemara).

Bitul chometz: Alternatively, I can rid myself of owning my chometz by making a declaration of bitul, which states that I view all chometz in my possession to be like dust of the earth. This declaration, assuming that it is sincere, removes the chometz from my ownership, so that I do not violate bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei.

The preceding analysis reflects the halacha as explained by Targum Onkelos, Rashi, the Ran and many other rishonim. There is an alternative approach, that of Tosafos, who explains that bitul chometz is declaring the chometz to be ownerless, hefker. According to either approach, someone who performed bitul chometz and does not want to own their chometz will not violate the prohibitions of bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei. However, for reasons beyond the scope of this article, the halachic conclusion is that the penalty of chometz she’avar alav haPesach applies to chometz on which someone performed bitul, but not to chometz that was properly sold to a non-Jew.

Selling chometz

Although a Jew may not own chometz on Pesach, there is nothing wrong with selling chometz to a non-Jew before it becomes prohibited. In contemporary times, people usually do not undertake to sell their chometz themselves, but, instead, appoint a rav to sell the chometz for them. The reason for this is that the non-Jew does not take the chometz with him; he leaves it in our houses. Since this may have the appearance of a charade, the sale must be performed in a way that halacha recognizes as valid. Since the laws of selling are very complicated, it is better that a lay person not handle the arrangements for mechiras chometz by himself, which is why it is common to use a rav as one’s agent to sell the chometz.

Snail mail

At this point, we are prepared to discuss the halachic background to our opening question. Rav Moshe Feinstein discusses the following case: Someone wants to ship several products, including some chometz items, to a relative in Eretz Yisroel, and wants to include this chometz with his standard mechiras chometz that he does before Pesach. The rav who sent Rav Moshe the shaylah felt that there may be legitimate halachic grounds to do this, but Rav Moshe proves that such a sale cannot be done. This is because once the chometz is delivered to or picked up by the shipping company, the chometz is beyond the owner’s jurisdiction (shelo ve’eino birshuso), and there is no simple way to regain control over it. Even should the package be refused by the receiving party and returned to the sender, until and unless that happens and the item is indeed returned, it is eino birshuso.

Moonshine in Nissan!

The next shaylah is discussed by the Av Beis Din of Sochatchov (1839-1910), known as the first Sochatchover rebbe, whose halachic works are used by all talmidei chachamim. He was the son-in-law of Rav Menahem Mendel of Kotsk (known by all, very simply, as “The Kotzker”). The Sochatchover was a highly respected gaon in learning when he married the daughter of the Kotzker, even though he had just turned bar mitzvah!

To review the case: the police confiscated some contraband moonshine in the beginning of April, issuing a criminal citation for the violation. Subsequently, the criminal charges were dropped. On Pesach, the police appeared at the door of the moonshine vendor to return the liquor, who told them that he could not receive the merchandise on his Jewish holiday. They came back to return it after Pesach. May he sell the liquor?

It is interesting to read the actual shaylah as it appears in the teshuvos of the Sochatchover, from which we can appreciate the mesiras nefesh of the Jew involved. In czarist Russia, where this case occurred, the whiskey business was a government monopoly, and the czar and his agents did not take kindly to those who ignored this, particularly if they were Jews. The czar’s police investigated this Jew’s premises, and located both legal, government distilled liquor and privately made product, moonshine. All the liquor was confiscated, and the accused knew that his future as a client of the czar’s legal and penal system was far from envious. However, with great difficulty, much mazel, and an appropriate transfer of rubles, the police concluded that they had not discovered anything. The vendor assumed that the police had utilized the contraband or sold it, for some additional profit on their part of the venture.

Surprise of surprises: During Pesach, the cops showed up on his doorstep with the schnapps, insisting that if they held onto it any longer, they would be forced to reopen the “protocol” against the vendor. In my opinion, this would qualify as pikuach nefesh, a life-threatening emergency, permitting him to receive the chometz, and then immediately destroy it in honor of Pesach, thus fulfilling the mitzvah of tashbisu in an extremely exemplary fashion. (Note that, according to Tosafos, Pesachim, 29b s.v. Rav, there is no violation of bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei in this situation.) This worthy Jew did not ask me a shaylah, but simply told the czar’s finest that he could not receive the chometz during the holiday.

To complete our surprise, after Pesach, the police returned with the chometz. The vendor then asked his local rav, Rav Chanoch, whether the chometz was prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach. Although the vendor had indeed sold all his chometz before Pesach, it qualified as eino birshuso, and he could not halachically sell it; and, now, it may be prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach.

The Sochatchover contends that the whiskey is not prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach, because of the following reasons:

The Sochatchover weighs whether, according to halacha, the vendor owns the chometz in a way that he can still sell it. If, indeed, it is still considered to be his chometz, it was sold. However, we previously demonstrated that this is not true, because of the principle of shelo ve’eino birshuso. The Sochatchover quotes the opinion of the Maharam and the Rosh, quoted by the Shitah Mekubetzes, Bava Kama 33a, that when the property is returned to the owner, the hekdesh that he declared will take effect. (Note that many authorities do not agree with this conclusion, including Tosafos s.v ika and Penei Yehoshua ad loc.; Nachal Yitzchak, end of chapter 73.) Similarly, rules the Sochatchover, should the gift not take place and the chometz return to his hands, it is considered to have been under his control the entire time, and is included in the sale retroactively.

On the other hand, if we assume that having the whiskey confiscated is a reason why he cannot sell it, he also did not violate bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei, since the chometz was not his during the entire Pesach period. Rav Chanoch, the rav who sent the Sochatchover the question, noted that, according to Russian law of the time, when the police seized the contraband, it automatically became property of the czar. Since none of the czars were ever Jewish, this also means that it is not chometz she’avar alav haPesach. When the vendor received the liquor after Pesach, it was a new acquisition of chometz that had been owned by non-Jews over Pesach. As a result, no prohibition of chometz she’avar alav haPesach applies to this whiskey (Shu’t Avnei Neizer, Orach Chayim #339).

Whiskey she’avar alav haPesach

At this point, let us discuss the last of our opening questions: “A non-Jewish business contact was shipped a gift of expensive whiskey, which never reached him. Instead, the shipper returned it to the Jewish sender, and it arrived shortly after Pesach. Is this prohibited because of chometz she’avar alav haPesach?”

This question is based on a case discussed in Shu’t Imrei Yosher (1:32), authored by Rav Meir Arik (1855–1925), who was viewed as the posek hador of his era in Galicia. Among his most famous talmidim were Rav Meir Shapiro, Rav Reuven Margolies (author of Margoliyos Hayam on Sanhedrin and many other seforim), and Rav Zev Wolf Leiter, who later was the av beis din of Pittsburgh. The situation which the Imrei Yosher discusses was when a Jew sent a barrel of local spirits, by train, to a government official. The barrel, indeed, arrived before Pesach, but the official refused to accept it, so it was shipped back, arriving at the Jew’s house after Pesach. At this point, the Jew sees himself a loser on both scores – he did not successfully curry any favor with the official, and he is also out of the expensive barrel of liquor, which he fears is prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach because he did not sell it.

Rav Arik discusses several possible angles whereby the chometz might be permitted. First of all, he notes that, in their day in Russia, the primary ingredient in the mash that was fermented and distilled was potatoes, which are not chometz. However, all whiskey had a small amount of barley malt added, which is chometz. Nevertheless, the liquor manufactured this way was predominantly not chometz, and would have a status of chometz only miderabbanan, since the percentage of chometz in the final product is below the threshold to qualify as ta’aroves chometz min haTorah. Thus, the questioner did not violate bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei min haTorah.

A second reason to permit this liquor is that the owner had fulfilled bitul chometz before Pesach, in which he declared all of his chometz null, void and ownerless. In this instance, he would not have violated bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei, even without the bitul, and, therefore, it may be possible to permit the liquor.

This heter is not obvious, for two reasons:

The Shulchan Aruch rules that you cannot rely on bitul to permit chometz she’avar alav haPesach (Orach Chayim 448:5).

Some authorities reject relying on bitul when the owner would certainly have sold the chometz, rather than trash it.

The conclusion of the Imrei Yosher is that a Jew should not drink this liquor after Pesach, but that the owner can sell the liquor to a non-Jew for a price that subtracts the amount of chometz-malt in the finished product. If this is done, the Jew is neither drinking nor benefiting from the chometz. (He discusses concerns that the non-Jew may sell it, afterward, to a Jew who is not permitted to drink it, and suggests a couple of ways to make sure that this does not happen.)

I will share with you one last case, which happened to friends of mine. They had shipped their belongings on a lift while making aliyah, and realized that they had included chometz on their lift. The question was whether they could include the chometz in the sale that they made. This case is different from all those we have discussed because, although they have no access to the chometz at the moment, it is being shipped to themselves. The question is whether this qualifies as birshuso. They received a psak that it was permitted for them to do so, although I do not know who ruled this way and certainly recommend anyone with a similar shaylah ask his own rav or posek.

Conclusion

According to kabbalah, searching for chometz is symbolic of searching, internally, to locate and remove our own arrogant selves. As we go through the mitzvos of cleaning the house, searching, burning, and selling the chometz, we should also try to focus on the spiritual side of this search-and-destroy mission.




Women and Reading Megillah

Question #1: Ba’alas Korei

May a woman be the ba’alas keri’ah of the megillah?

Question #2: Kiddush and Arba Kosos

The elderly Mr. Klein is fully alert, but, unfortunately, he has difficulty enunciating. May Mrs. Klein recite kiddush and the other brachos of the seder for him?

Foreword

Although there is a general rule exempting women from mitzvos aseih shehazeman grama, (time-bound requirements involving positive action), such as tefillin, sukkah and tzitzis, there are numerous exceptions to this rule. For example, women are required to observe mitzvos related to Shabbos and Pesach and to hear Megillas Esther on Purim, all topics that we will discuss.

Part of the miracle

In three places, the Gemara quotes an early amora, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, who ruled that women are obligated to fulfill the mitzvos of megillah, ner Chanukah and the four kosos of seder night. Although these are all time-bound mitzvos aseih, women are obligated to observe these specific mitzvos because of a different rule, af hein hayu be’oso haneis, “they were also included in the miracle.” This rule means that, when Chazal created the mitzvos of kindling Chanukah lights, reading megillah on Purim or consuming the four cups on the first night of Pesach, they included women in the obligation, notwithstanding that they are usually exempt from mitzvos aseih shehazeman grama.

The rishonim dispute what the term af hein hayu be’oso haneis means. Is this emphasizing that they were saved by the miracle, or does it mean that they were involved in bringing about the miracle?

Rashi and the Rashbam (Pesachim 108b) explain that af hein hayu be’oso haneis means that women were involved in causing the miracle (think of Esther declaring that the Jews fast and do teshuvah, approaching Achashveirosh and setting Haman up for his execution). On the other hand, Tosafos (Megillah 4a s. v. She’af; Pesachim 108b s. v. Hayu) contends that it means that women, also, were saved by the miracle of survival, either physical or spiritual, that we celebrate in each of these observances.

Mitzvos min haTorah?

Note that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi applied his principle to three mitzvos, each of which is a requirement only miderabbanan. Is this coincidental, or is the principle of af hein hayu be’oso haneis a principle that Chazal created that does not apply min haTorah? This issue is disputed by two Ba’alei Tosafos. The first opinion cited by Tosafos contends that af hein hayu be’oso haneis is a rabbinic principle and will not create a Torah requirement (Tosafos, Megillah 4a s. v. She’af; Mordechai, Megillah #780). The disputant, Rabbeinu Yosef of Eretz Yisrael, rules that af hein hayu be’oso haneis applies even to mitzvos that are min haTorah.

Shomei’a ke’oneh

Prior to answering our opening questions, we need to understand a halachic principle called shomei’a ke’oneh, which translates, literally, as “hearing is like responding.” This principle means that when I hear someone recite a prayer, the megillah, kiddush or havdalah, it is considered as if I, myself, recited it.

I will explain this principle with an example that we utilize regularly: Except for heads of household, most of us fulfill the mitzvos of kiddush and havdalah by hearing someone else recite them. But the mitzvah is to recite kiddush and havdalah, not merely to hear them. So, how do we fulfill these mitzvos when we are only hearing them? The answer is that, because of shomei’a ke’oneh, it is deemed that we recited kiddush and havdalah ourselves.

Three conditions

For shomei’a ke’oneh to work, three conditions must be met:

(1) The individual performing the mitzvah must have in mind to be motzi the other people, meaning that he knows that he is acting on behalf of those listening.

(2) The individual performing the mitzvah must be required to observe this mitzvah. In other words, if a child (under bar or bas mitzvah) recites kiddush or havdalah on behalf of an adult, the adult does not fulfill the mitzvah, since the child is not obligated in this mitzvah min haTorah (see Brachos 20b).

(3) The listeners must have in mind that they are discharging their obligation to perform the mitzvah by hearing this recital.

Parshas Zachor

It is for this last reason that, immediately prior to Parshas Zachor, the gabbai announces that everyone should have in mind with the reading of the ba’al keri’ah to fulfill the mitzvah of remembering Amaleik’s dastardly deeds. Only the ba’al keri’ah actually reads the appropriate Torah portion. The rest of us discharge our obligation to observe this mitzvah by hearing the ba’al keri’ah, which, because of shomei’a ke’oneh, is considered as if we read it ourselves. In addition to Parshas Zachor, brachos, reading the Torah and the megillah, kiddush and havdalah, there are numerous other applications of shomei’a ke’oneh.

Not now!

We should note that, although the person being motzi others must be obligated by the Torah to fulfill the mitzvah, this does not require him to fulfill the mitzvah with this reading, by which he is being motzi others. He may recite kiddush or havdalah for someone else, even if he, himself, has already fulfilled the mitzvah, or if he intends to fulfill the mitzvah later with a different recital of kiddush or havdalah. That is why a ba’al keri’ah can read megillah many different times to be motzi other people, even though he has already fulfilled the mitzvah. This is also the reason why kiddush and havdalah are recited in shul, notwithstanding that the person reciting them plans to recite them again at home.

Ba’alas korei

At this point, I can present the halachic background behind our opening question: May a woman be the ba’alas korei or ba’alas keri’ah of the megillah?

Whether a woman may assume the role of ba’alas keri’ah is the subject of a fascinating dispute among rishonim, as we will soon see.

The Mishnah (Megillah 19b) states: Everyone is qualified to read the megillah except for a minor and someone who is not halachically responsible for his actions. The Gemara (Arachin 2b) asks: what is being added by emphasizing that “everyone” is qualified to read the megillah? The Gemara replies that women, who are usually not obligated in time-bound mitzvos, are obligated to read the megillah, to the extent that they may read the megillah to be motzi others. Rashi explains, explicitly, that this means that a woman may read the megillah to be motzi a man in his obligation. Thus, according to Rashi, a woman may be the ba’alas keri’ah of the megillah.

However, the Ba’al Halachos Gedolos (usually abbreviated as Bahag, the author of a halachic work from the era of the geonim) notes that the Tosefta, a halachic work dating back to the era of the Mishnah, disagrees. The salient part of the Tosefta (Megillah 2:4), as we have its text, reads: “All are obligated in the reading of the megillah… . Women… are exempt and cannot be motzi the public (rabbim) from their responsibility.”

Is there any way to resolve this contradiction between the Mishnah, as understood by the Gemara, and the Tosefta?

The Bahag presents an approach to explain the Mishnah and the Tosefta such that there is no conflict between the two positions. When the Mishnah implies, and the Gemara states explicitly, that a woman can be motziah (the feminine of motzi; plural motzios) someone else, it means that she can be motziah a woman, but not a man.

Why should this be true? The Bahag explains that there are two levels of mitzvah regarding the megillah:

(1) To read the megillah.

(2) To hear the megillah.

Ordinarily, a man fulfills both requirements when he hears the megillah from another man, since the person reading the megillah, who has both obligations, reads it for the purpose that the listeners fulfill all their megillah-related obligations. However, since a woman’s obligation is only to hear the megillah, but not to read it, it is not within her ability to be motzi someone who is obligated to read the megillah (Rosh, Megillah 1:4; note that Shu”t Avnei Neizer [Orach Chayim #511:4-5] and the Brisker Rav [Al Hashas, Inyanim #15] explain the Bahag’s approach slightly differently).

With this approach, the Bahag explains that the Mishnah refers to a woman reading the megillah for other women, which she can do, and the Tosefta refers to a woman reading the megillah for men, which is why it states that a woman cannot be motziah the public, which includes men.

The Tosefta according to Rashi

According to Rashi, either the text of this Tosefta is in error (as is not uncommon in our texts of the Tosefta) or it disagrees with the Mishnah as understood by the Gemara, in which case we rule according to the Mishnah and Gemara (both of these approaches are mentioned, in different places, by the Bach, Orach Chayim 689). We should point out that the texts that we have received of the Tosefta are notoriously unreliable, since copyists often made errors and, as a result, texts that were studied less frequently are often inaccurate. As an example, the rishonim who quote this Tosefta cite it with at least three significantly different texts.

Also, if, indeed, there is a dispute between the tanna who authored the Mishnah and the one who authored the Tosefta, the halacha follows the author of the Mishnah. Thus, either approach used to explain Rashi’s position is highly satisfactory.

Other rishonim?

Several authorities infer from the Rambam that he agreed with Rashi’s halachic conclusion (Magid Mishnah, Hilchos Megillah 1:2; Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 689). The Beis Yosef and the Darkei Moshe quote other rishonim on both sides of fence: The Or Zarua rules like Rashi, whereas the Ra’avyah and the Mordechai (Megillah #779) rule like the Bahag. The Shulchan Aruch’s conclusion is unclear (Orach Chayim 689:2), whereas the Rema rules like the Bahag.

According to the Bahag’s opinion, some authorities contend that a woman hearing megillah when no male is fulfilling the mitzvah should not recite the brocha al mikra megillah, since she is not required to read the megillah, but to hear it. The Rema records that she should recite lishmo’a megillah, but others prefer that she should recite lishmo’a mikra megillah (Mishnah Berurah 689:8).

Getting a third opinion

Are there any other opinions? We actually find a few other opinions among rishonim, who present alternative ways of resolving the contradiction between the Mishnah and the Tosefta, with halachic results unlike either Rashi or the Bahag. Rabbi Moshe of Coucy (France), a ba’al Tosafos who wrote a halachic work based on the 613 mitzvos, usually called Sefer Hamitzvos Hagadol (abbreviated as Semag), agrees with the Bahag that a woman cannot be motziah a man, but disagrees with the reason why. In his opinion, just as Chazal ruled that a woman cannot fulfill the mitzvah of keri’as haTorah, because it is not kavod hatzibur for her to read for the community (Megillah 23a), she may also not read to be motzi a man in megillah (towards the beginning of Hilchos Megillah in the Semag). Tosafos (Sukkah 38a s. v. Be’emes at end) may agree with this opinion of the Semag.

With this approach, the Semag answers the contradiction between the Mishnah and the Gemara, on one hand, and the Tosefta, on the other, in a way similar to that of the Bahag. The Mishnah and Gemara teach that a woman may read the megillah for someone else; the Tosefta is ruling that she may not be the ba’alas keri’ah for a community.

There is yet a fourth approach to the issue, that of the Ba’al Ha’itur (Hilchos Megillah, page 110, column 1), but the details of his opinion are somewhat unclear (see Ran [Megillah 19b, 6b in the Rif’s pages]; Tur and Bach, Orach Chayim 689).

Three is a crowd

There is yet another opinion, contending that the Tosefta means that a woman should not read the megillah for more than one other woman (Korban Nesanel, Megillah 1:4:60, in explanation of Tosafos, Sukkah 38a s. v. Be’emes). According to this position, the Tosefta meant this when it said that a woman she should not read for the “public” (“rabbim” in the words of the Tosefta). The Mishnah Berurah quotes this approach as authoritative halacha (Shaar Hatziyun, 689:15). This opinion actually ends up with a stricter ruling, since, according to both Rashi and the Bahag, a woman may read megillah to be motziah other women, regardless as to how many there are, whereas this opinion allows her to be motziah only one other woman, not any more.

Kiddush

Does this principle of the Bahag apply to kiddush just as it applies to the reading of the megillah? Let us explore the halachic data on the subject.

The Gemara (Brachos 20b) states, unequivocally, that women are obligated in the mitzvah of reciting kiddush. Does this mean that a woman may recite kiddush to be motzi a man? Or, is this dependent on the dispute between Rashi and the Bahag?

Several early acharonim understand that the same dispute that exists between Rashi and the Bahag regarding women reading the megillah for men applies to women reciting kiddush for men (Maharshal and Bach, in their commentaries to Tur Orach Chayim 271). They conclude that a woman may recite kiddush for other women, but may not recite kiddush to be motzi a man in kiddush.

However, the Taz, who was the son-in-law of the Bach, disputes his father-in-law’s conclusion, contending that the Bahag’s opinion is limited to reading the Megillah, and does not apply to reciting kiddush. Since the Gemara concludes that women are obligated in kiddush min haTorah, it appears that they can be motzi men in kiddush. (This approach appears to be implied by the Gemara, Brachos 20b).

Kiddush according to the Semag

We noted above the opinion of the Semag that women cannot be motzios men in reading the megillah, just as they cannot be called up to read the Torah. This position should apply only to a woman reading the megillah, but not to reciting kiddush, which is usually not performed publicly, but recited at home.

Arba Kosos

At this point, let us explore one of our opening questions: The elderly Mr. Klein is fully alert, but, unfortunately, he has difficulty enunciating. May Mrs. Klein recite kiddush and the other brachos of the seder for him?

Chazal required that men and women have four kosos at the seder. It is difficult to imagine that someone can be motzi someone else in this requirement – drinking the four cups of wine it a mitzvah degufei, a mitzvah that is performed with one’s body, similar to matzoh, lulav and tefillin, which preclude one person performing the mitzvah for another. However, someone can recite the brachos that pertain to these kosos for someone else.

The Gemara states that each of the four kosos is associated with a different mitzvah of the seder, and, in fact, each of these mitzvos includes at least one brocha. We hold the kos while we recite these brachos.

1. The first kos is kiddush.

2. Over the second kos, we recite the brocha of Asher Ge’alanu, which completes the mitzvah of magid.

3. The third kos is used for birkas hamazon.

4. The fourth kos is the brocha upon the completion of Hallel.

Women are obligated in all the laws of the seder, which includes reciting the brachos associated with its four kosos. Does it say whether they can be motzios a man in these brachos? Would the Bahag’s opinion that they should not be motziah a man in megillah apply to these brachos? I did not find anyone who discusses this issue.

How do we pasken?

Having explained the understanding and ramifications of all these issues, let us present the halachic conclusions:

Most late authorities conclude that, regarding the reading of the megillah, we should follow the approach of the Bahag that women should not read megillah for men, and, also, we should follow the approach of the Semag that women should not read in public for a group of women. If no man is available who can read the megillah for her, a woman may read the megillah for herself, and she may also read the megillah for another woman.

Regarding the halachos of women being motzios men in kiddush, the later authorities do not accept the approach of the Maharshal and the Bach that the same ruling applies to kiddush. Instead, they contend that when there is a valid reason for a woman to make kiddush for her family, she should do so and be motziah the male members (Magen Avraham, 271:2 and later acharonim). Regarding the bracha of Asher Ge’alanu at the seder, my halachic conclusion is that Mrs. Klein may recite these brachos and be motziah Mr. Klein with them.

Conclusion

Why are women exempt from mitzvos aseih shehazeman grama? Most people, and certainly several commentaries, assume that this is because a woman’s family responsibilities should not be subject to other mitzvos that may conflict with them. However, not everyone agrees with this idea. Some note that there already is a halachic principle of oseik bemitzvah patur min hamitzvah, someone occupied with fulfilling one mitzvah is exempt from performing a different mitzvah, until the first mitzvah is completed. Thus, it would seem superfluous for the Torah to have established yet another rule, to exempt women from mitzvos aseih shehazeman grama, because of the exact same rationale.

Other authorities contend that Hashem, Who created all of our neshamos, knows which mitzvos our particular soul needs in order to thrive, and each individual’s neshamah needs different mitzvos. Following this idea, it is obvious that kohanim need certain mitzvos, but are excluded from others; men require certain mitzvos and cannot fulfill others, and so, also, with women. Each person’s neshamah has its own Divinely created formula for what it needs.