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Q & A: Bal Tash’chit During The Nine Days (Conclusion)


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QUESTION: May leftover meat from the Sabbath during the Nine Days be used during the week so as not to violate “bal tash’chit” – the prohibition against wastefulness?
Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Rosh Kollel
Kollel Ayshel Avraham
Monsey, NY
ANSWER: The Rabbinical prohibition of eating meat during the Nine Days (from Rosh Chodesh Av until Tisha B’Av) as part of a general aveilut custom, the mourning for the loss of the Holy Temple, was discussed (Rambam, Hilchot Ta’aniyot 5:1). The goal is to inspire repentance.The Biblical prohibition of bal tash’chit is based on Deuteronomy 20:19, which specifically mentions fruit trees. Our Rabbis explain that this concept extends to any deliberate, unnecessary loss (Bava Kamma 91b).

This week we discuss the avoidance of bal tash’chit regarding meat during the Nine Days.

* * *

The Gaon R. Shimon Greenfeld, zt”l, was asked this very question (Responsa Maharshag Vol. 4, Orach Chayyim, Responsum 20).

His questioner, a noted scholar, cited the Bnei Yissaskhar (by the Admor R. Zvi Elimelech Shapira, the Dinover Rebbe, zt”l) who quoted the sefer Ikrei Dinim in the name of Kol Eliyahu, where we find a view that if meat is left over from the Sabbath meal during the Nine Days, it would be proper to eat it even during these days. He cites as proof the Talmud (Chullin 17a), where the Gemara discusses “evarei besar nechira – limbs of meat from an animal killed by stabbing,” i.e., not ritually slaughtered. Such meat was permitted to the Children of Israel prior to their entry to Eretz Yisrael, as the verse states (Deuteronomy 12:21), “Ki yirchak mimcha hamakom asher yivchar Hashem Elokecha lasum shemo sham, ve’zavachta mi’bekarcha u’mitzoncha asher natan Hashem lecha ka’asher tziviticha, ve’achalta bi’she’arecha bechol avat nafshecha – If the place where Hashem, your G-d, chooses to put His name will be far from you, you may slaughter from your cattle and your sheep that Hashem has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your cities according to your heart’s desire.”

From this verse we see that after they finally entered the Land of Israel, besar nechira is no longer permitted even if they subsequently travel to other lands outside Israel, and meat may only be consumed after ritual slaughtering.

The Gemara then discusses whether the limbs of animals that were stabbed prior to entry into Israel were permissible. The Gemara concludes “Teiku,” (Tishbi yeva’er kushiyot u’ve’ayot – When the prophet Elijah (who lived in Tishbi, a town in the territory of Naphtali) heralds the arrival of Mashiach, he will personally resolve this particular question).

The Rosh (Chullin ad loc. siman 23) explains the practical difference resulting from this Gemara. When someone vowed to abstain from eating meat during a certain period of time, but some meat was left over from a time prior to his vow, or there was an enactment of the Beit Din to prohibit a certain substance, we would be more lenient in allowing its use since the Gemara remains unresolved (teiku). It would seem that, similarly, meat left over from the Sabbath during the Nine Days would be allowed. Is this so?

The questioner points out - and R. Greenfeld agrees – that the Gemara cannot be taken as proof for our situation: for instance, would we assume that the prohibition of chametz on Pesach means only chametz that is newly acquired on Pesach, and not chametz possessed before Pesach? Of course not! The Sages extend this prohibition even to wheat of Kardunia (Cordyene), which, Rashi (Pesachim 7a) explains, is hard wheat that does not easily become chametz.

We see that regarding a Rabbinical prohibition it does not matter if the prohibited item is possessed before or after the prohibition takes effect.

If so, how can a scholar, as quoted by the Bnei Yissaskhar, wish to make a comparison and permit meat or wine that has been left over from an earlier period of time once the prohibited time, namely, the Nine Days, has arrived?

This view has to be reconciled not only with that of the scholar who wishes to opt for permissibility but also with that of the Rosh as well, who stated the practical difference between a case where one vowed to abstain from eating a certain food [such as meat] or where the Beit Din enacted a decree to prohibit a substance [such as cheese or cooked vegetables], and the case of besar nechira, i.e., meat from a stabbed animal, because his setting the time [or the Beit Din setting the time] when the prohibition is to take effect is not the same as a Torah-set time; we cannot differentiate between that which remains from before and that which he will now aquire ? both should be prohibited to him.

R. Greenfeld now seeks to explain and reconcile these views according to the Gemara in Chullin, for in regard to the vow the Torah did not prohibit that particular substance at that time, but rather the individual accepted upon himself a prohibition as a seyag (lit., a fence around the Torah law) or, similarly, the Beit Din did likewise, and there is now a doubt as to what the intention of the individual who made the vow or the Beit Din’s intention was. Does the prohibition apply only to that which will be acquired at the set time, or also to that which is in one’s possession already?

Since we find regarding besar nechira that the Torah only prohibited such limbs from the time of the Children of Israel’s entry into the land, [perhaps] the Torah had no intention of prohibiting that which they already possessed, but rather only newly acquired meat from a stabbed animal.

Thus, though normally we would say that in the case of any set time at which a matter becomes prohibited, such as chametz before Passover or food on Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, there is no distinction between the newly acquired food or that already in one’s possession, as all are prohibited. However, since there is a doubt in the Gemara regarding meat from a stabbed animal, we should apply the same rule regarding every enactment and individual vow – the intention may not have been to include that which was in one’s possession from before. Since it is a safek, a doubt regarding the enactment or vow (which is of Rabbinic rather than Biblical origin), we would be lenient.

As to the scholar who wished to be lenient, his leniency only referred to eating meat on the Nine Days, which is not specifically prohibited according to the law. Rather, eating meat is only specifically forbidden from erev Tisha B’Av at chatzot (noon), when it is surely forbidden [even if some meat were left over from the Sabbath - there is no doubt about this]. As to the rest of the Nine Days, the Sages only enacted a ‘fence’ in order to ensure our discomfort and to make us mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. If this is the case, possibly they only made an enactment regarding that which one will acquire or cook, but as to that which is already in our possession or was previously cooked, its consumption would be permitted.

Regarding wine, R. Greenfeld notes that if this prohibition only applies to that which we will acquire during this period, but not to that which one already has, there are many people who have extensive stocks of wine and, as such, we will cause the entire minhag of aveilut during the Nine Days to be cast aside.

We must thus understand that this aveilut is not a din but a minhag that our Sages imposed in earlier times. For this reason they allowed us to eat meat and drink wine at a seudat mitzva such as a brit, a pidyon ha’ben or a siyyum, the completion of a tractate. If this were based on a din, we would not be allowed to consume wine and meat.

Therefore, if one prepared food for the Sabbath, and due to means beyond his control some of the food was left over for weekday consumption, i.e., due to his being incarcerated on the Sabbath for a minor offense (something that often happened in Europe in R. Greenfeld’s time), since the food was prepared for the Sabbath it is considered food left over from a seudat mitzva, and leftovers from a seudat mitzva should be permitted for consumption during the Nine Days.

R. Greenfeld adds: “We must also state that to waste food is a prohibition of bal tash’chit, and if he prepared food for the Sabbath and, due to some unexpected reason beyond his control, he was unable to eat it and he were to discard this valuable meat, this would be a violation of bal tash’chit. Our Sages never intended the custom of aveilut to override a clear prohibition.

This rule, however, applies only to meat or a cooked dish that will spoil. Wine, which keeps for many days (and may improve with time), does not warrant leniency. Fear of bal tash’chit does not allow consumption of wine during the Nine Days.

One who would rely on this scholar should only do so where there will be a loss due to food spoilage, namely, food prepared for the Sabbath or another seudat mitzva (meals eaten at a celebration of mitzvot such as a brit milah, pidyon ha’ben of a firstborn son or a siyyum of a significant portion of Torah study).

The fact that the threat of spoilage of food causes leniency during the Nine Days is a demonstration of how meticulous our Torah is regarding the money of a Jew, “Chassa haTorah al mamon Yisrael” (Chullin 49b).

However, we caution that in today’s times of ample refrigeration, freezers and food storage options including sealing products to preserve food quality, storable food should be treated as wine. Leniency would not be warranted during the Nine Days, as bal tash’chit is not a viable threat. Rather, to ensure the freshness of the food to be stored, be sure to wrap it well and freeze it as soon as possible for later use.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


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Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

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Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

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(Via E-Mail)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

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