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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Birkat Hamazon’

Q & A: What Constitutes Shemot? (Part III)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Question: Since my daughter in high school started researching the topic of shemot for her school newspaper, I have become more and more confused. Does shemot only include items, such as books and sheets of papers, with Hashem’s name on them? Or does it even include items containing Torah concepts or even just Hebrew letters? For example, how do you advise I dispose of The Jewish Press? Finally, concerning Hashem’s name, must the name be spelled out fully in Hebrew to constitute shemot? What if it is in English in abbreviated form – “G-d,” for example?

Shlomo Newfield
(Via E-Mail)


Answer: The Mechaber (Yoreh De’ah 276:9-10), referring to writing and repairing a Sefer Torah, specifies certain names of G-d that may not be erased once written: Kel from Elo-kim and Kah (which is either a name in itself or part of the name of Hava’yah. The Rema (ad loc.) includes alef-daled from Adnut and alef-heh from Eh-yeh. These halachot extend to any writing, but authorities differ on whether they apply to languages other than Hebrew.

My uncle, Harav Sholom Klass, zt”l, helped popularize the accepted style of omitting a letter in the English words “G-d” and “L-rd” in The Jewish Press from its very inception in 1960. In “Responsa of Modern Judaism II,” two of his responses address this issue. The first (Book II, p. 535) stresses that the holiness of G-d’s name is related to it being written in Hebrew. The Rambam (Hilchos Tefilla 14:10) writes, based on various statements in the Gemara, that when Shimon Hatzaddik died, his fellow kohanim stopped using the Holy Name (Shem Hameforash) so that disrespectful and unruly people would not learn it, since the Holy Spirit departed from the Temple.

Many discussions appear in halacha regarding versions of G-d’s names that imply specific characteristics of G-d and whether they may be erased once written. The Shach (Yoreh De’ah 179:11) writes that while the name of G-d is holy only in Hebrew and may be erased – since the word “G-d” in a secular language is not His true name – it is still preferable to be as careful as possible. The Beth Yosef (Tur, Yoreh De’ah 276) quotes the Rashbatz’s opinion that G-d’s name is not holy and may be erased – whether written in Hebrew or any other language – if it was written without any intent of holiness. The Beth Lechem Yehuda (Yoreh De’ah 276:10) agrees with the intention requirement, especially in a secular language, and stresses that if the name was intended for a holy purpose, we are not to erase or discard it.

The Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh De’ah 276:24) quotes the Rema and other poskim to explain that the name of G-d which appears in our siddurim (the letter “yud” twice) may be erased if necessary. He also quotes the Tashbatz who warns that while the name of G-d in different languages may be erased, we still avoid writing it because it may be discarded into a trash basket and will put the Holy Name to shame. In Choshen Mishpat 27:3, the Aruch HaShulchan decries the custom of writing letters in any language using the name of G-d since they are discarded, and when G-d’s name is put to shame, respect for G-d erodes and poverty descends on the world.

In the second related responsum by Rabbi Sholom Klass (Book II, p. 533), he suggests passing the result of his labor, The Jewish Press, along to others after one is done reading it and explains printing the word “G-d” with a hyphen as a method to avoid profaning the Holy Name. He cites Rosh Hashana 18b regarding a feast the sages instituted to celebrate the day Israelites corrected the way they worded notes and bonds so as to avoid mentioning G-d’s name since these documents are ultimately discarded.

My uncle quotes some halachic authorities who allow writing G-d’s name and even erasing it in a secular context (such as on making and destroying coins). The Beth Yosef (on Tur to Yoreh De’ah 276), Rashbatz (ad loc.), and Shach (Yoreh De’ah 179:11) agree that without the writer’s intent to imbue holiness (especially if writing in a language other than Hebrew) G-d’s name may be erased or disposed of.

* * * *

We have received numerous inquiries regarding disposing The Jewish Press after one is finished reading it. One must understand the thought and effort that is involved in the production of a quality publication such as The Jewish Press, especially in our time when newer technology allows us to download complete texts which arrive from various worthy sources and authors. Many of these texts contain G-d’s name (in English) spelled out in various ways, which, in a Torah column, is obviously there for holy purposes.

Some authors ask that G-d’s name not be written out in full; they prefer that their text be edited to consistently read “G-d or L-rd” as the case may be. This practice is in line with the view of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Iggrot Moshe, Yoreh De’ah, 1:172).

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Journey Of An Academic Pariah

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

In the good old days, Forest Hills, New York – where I grew up between 1939 and 1951 – was a shtetl for assimilated American Jews. Like my parents, all our neighbors were American-born offspring of Eastern European immigrants. A generation removed from their identity conflicts, we children knew that Forest Hills, liberated from Judaism, was our promised land.

My father and mother rejected the Romanian Orthodoxy and Bund Socialism of their immigrant parents for the security of American Judaism. My Jewish boyhood was spent on the secular side of the shared living-room wall that separated our apartment from our neighbors, Cantor Gorsky and his wife. Through that wall, every Friday evening, I heard him recite Kiddush and the Birkat Hamazon.

On weekday afternoons he taught neighborhood boys the haftarah for their bar mitzvah. Long before it was my turn to join them, I had memorized the blessings that floated into our apartment. To make sure, I was required to attend after-school Hebrew school at the nearby Forest Hills Jewish Center. It provided some of the more vivid miseries of my childhood. My bar mitzvah was mandatory, but there was a tacit understanding with my father that it would mark my exit from Judaism. And so it did.

Yet some Jewish culture and history penetrated. My older relatives spoke Yiddish when they did not want children to understand. (But we became reasonably adept translators.) At the end of World War II Life magazine photographs brought the Holocaust, which had never been mentioned, into our home – though it was not a matter for discussion.


I also discovered that Hank Greenberg, the baseball star so beloved by American Jews for his perfect fusion of identities – hitting home runs on Rosh Hashanah and going to shul on Yom Kippur – was our cousin. His sister’s family hosted interminable Passover Seders, which invariably drove my cousins and me from the table after the Fourth Question.

I knew about Israel, born just after my twelfth birthday, because letters to my father began arriving from his Romanian relatives who had survived the war to make aliyah. I was intrigued by the foreign postage stamps and secretly proud of his generosity to our previously unknown cousins. But Israel never was a topic of family conversation.

My high-school years (at Horace Mann in Riverdale) were shared with other non-Jewish Jewish boys whose parents, like mine, wanted their sons to be free of Jewish encumbrances. I first encountered Christian America in Oberlin, Ohio, my college hometown. Before Sunday lunch, my classmates spontaneously sang the Doxology, praising “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Then we were served ham or pork chops. Christmas trees sparkled in every dormitory living room.

* * * * * Eventually armed with my doctorate, I arrived at Brandeis in 1965 to teach American history. Brandeis aspired to become the Jewish – but not too Jewish – Harvard. It proudly displayed its Protestant, Catholic and Jewish chapels, but I never saw anyone enter or leave this ecumenical enclave at the campus edge. Yet it canceled classes on Shemini Atzeret, a holiday totally unknown to me.

After five years of late-1960s campus turbulence I relinquished Jewish zaniness for the Christian decorum of Wellesley College, dedicated since 1875 to the education of young women. Like its ivy-covered Big Brothers and most other Seven Sister colleges, Wellesley had entrenched admission quotas designed to perpetuate an Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.

Genteel anti-Semitism was the pervasive Wellesley norm. By the time I arrived, Jewish students were no longer segregated within their dormitories. But just a few years earlier an Orthodox student who requested postponement of exams scheduled on the High Holy Days was incarcerated in the infirmary for the duration, without access to books or friends, and served treif food she could not eat – to ensure that she would not cheat. In the Religion Department, the unofficial custodian of Christian culture at the college, no Jew had ever received tenure nor was a Jew permitted to teach the required New Testament course.

Jerold S. Auerbach

The Scourge Of FakeOdoxy

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Back in the day when I was growing up, members of the Jewish community were categorized into three groups – Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. Those who kept kosher and were shomer Shabbat were considered Orthodox. Period. How men or women dressed, their choice of head covering – or not – was irrelevant. In fact, going to public school didn’t disqualify you from being viewed as Orthodox. The fact that you brought your own lunch, while everyone else lined up at the cafeteria for burgers and French fries confirmed your religious status.

Today, Orthodoxy is splintered into numerous factions and sub-groups, each defined by a plethora of subtle nuances that no doubt would have our sages scratching their heads, let alone confusing potential baalei teshuva and converts.

Frum Jews label themselves – or are labeled – as Modern Orthodox; Black Hat; Modern Orthodox machmir; Yeshivish; Yeshivish lite; Chassidish; Chassidish- but “with it”; just to name a few.

However, I sadly submit that there exists in our communities another kind of “Orthodoxy” – a version whose practitioners would never admit to being a part of or who due to their arrogance, are truly clueless of their affiliation. I call it FakeOdoxy.

There are actually two kinds of FakeOdox Jews. One is made up of men and women who are FFBs (frum from birth) and had the typical religious upbringing. However, for various reasons, they were turned off from yiddishkeit. Perhaps they had bad experiences in school, suffered a series of tragedies or despite everything they were exposed to, stopped believing in G-d.

However, they are afraid of being rejected by their families or ostracized by the community. Even though mentally they are off thederech, they don’t want to be cut off from everything they are familiar with, so they create the charade that they still are frum. They go to shul, eat kosher in public, wear the “livush” (the clothing favored by the people in their community) and “talk the talk” – but their hearts aren’t into it. So they, for example, wash for bread and later bentsch – but say Birkat Hamazon in like 20 seconds. Either they are super speed readers or they are just pretending to say it.

For the most part, they go through the motions of being religious; they know the routines and lifestyle – but sadly, it is meaningless to them. As long as they respect the beliefs of their family and friends, and don’t make them unwittingly sin, for example, by giving their guests treif food or if they are in business, selling their customers non-kosher items they claim is kosher, their FakeOdoxy is just a problem for them.

The other kind of FakeOdox Jews are more problematic because they can be emotionally hurtful. These are individuals who misguidedly believe that they are the “cat’s meow” in terms of their yiddishkeit. They consider themselves to be pious and authentically religious and because of this “self-righteousness” are full of contempt for those who they feel are not on the same page.

There is a Yiddish saying that states, “No-one see their own hunchback.” What it means is that people see other people’s flaws and shortcomings, but not their own.

The following scenarios (based on actual events) exemplifies this hypocritical behavior. First scenario: A young man works all week, including Sundays, to support his growing family, one that includes a colicky baby who screams half the night. One Shabbat morning he comes to shul later than usual – during leining (the Torah reading). As he walks in, a baal bayit turns to look at him, quickly glances at his watch and looks at the latecomer again, his face contorted in disgust. The man then blithely turns to his seatmate and continues his animated discussion on the pros and cons of buying stocks in today’s bear market. Not only is he talking during leining, but hepiously gives himself “dispensation” to do so, by declaring, “nisch Shabbas gerett.”(not spoken on Shabbas) – an utterance that I have been hearing more frequently as people talk about everything under the sun on Shabbat.

Which got me thinking – based on this mindset, if I say nisch fleisig gegessen – not meat eaten – can I have a milk-shake for dessert after my chicken salad?

The second scenario goes like this: A baalat teshuva and her husband move into a new community and try out the various shuls in walking distance to their apartment.

In one of the shuls, a “modestly” dressed young viebel (wife) wearing a stunning custom sheitel (that must have cost the equivalent of 6 months rent) and dressed in a tight spandex sweater that sharply outlines and emphasizes her baby bump (an obstetrician worth his salt would not need an ultrasound to figure out the size of the fetus) and adorned with enough sparkling jewelry to light up a dark room – told the baalat-teshuva, who was wearing a tichel- a head scarf (favored incidentally by many frum women in Israel) – that she did not belong in her shul.

These FakeOdox Jews walk around with an unwarranted “holier than thou” attitude that is fueled by unabashed hubris and ego. They pick and choose their mitzvoth and look down their noses at those whose observance is “different.”

Recently, a woman wrote an essay published in this newspaper lamenting a lack of derech eretz and respectin the frum community. The individuals she encountered who were rude and disrespectful to her are FakeOdox. I make this blanket statement based on the words of the sage Hillel, who when asked by a Gentile to teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one foot, emphatically exclaimed, “What you dislike, don’t do to your fellow man.”

Cheryl Kupfer

Q & A: Meat And Milk Issues (Part II)

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004
QUESTION: I am presently nursing. I would like to know until what age it is permissible to nurse my child soon after feeding him chicken. In general, how long do we wait between eating meat and dairy?
A Concerned Mother
New York City
ANSWER: The prohibition against eating meat and milk together, “… Lo tevashel gedi bachalev immo…” is stated three times in the Torah: Exodus 23:19 and 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21. Three warnings are learned from the repetition, one against eating basar bechalav, one against deriving benefit therefrom, and one against cooking the mixture (Chullin 115b). Other exegeses were also derived from this unusual repetition. The types of meat included in basar bechalav were extended by the Rabbis to include fowl and non-domesticated animals’ meat as well (Chullin 103b).We discussed the Gemara in Ketubbot (60a) that serves as a source for allowing mother’s milk (for babies), as presented by Rambam (Hilchot Ma’achalot Asurot 3:2) and the fact that it is considered pareve (Yoreh De’ah 87:4). Issues of mar’it ayin apply to mother’s milk with regard to cooking meat, but where this does not apply, as with a nursing infant, there is no need for concern.

We continue with an examination of the necessary wait between consuming meat and milk.

* * *

Regarding the required waiting time between the conclusion of a meat meal and the start of eating dairy, the Mechaber (Yoreh De’ah 89:1) states as follows: “If one ate meat, even [the flesh] of a non-domesticated animal (chayya) or of fowl, he may not eat cheese afterwards until six hours have elapsed.”

Pit’chei Teshuva ad loc. cites the Maharit, who questions whether these (six) hours are sha’ot zemaniyot (hours dependent on varying time). Sha’ot zemaniyot refer to the practice of dividing each 24-hour period into two separate units of daytime and nighttime, and then again dividing each into 12 hourly units. With this method, we find that at different times of the year the daylight “hours” can be either shorter or longer, and the same applies to the nighttime “hours.” The alternative is to make the waiting time dependent on sha’ot kevuot, set hours, meaning that we divide the 24-hour period comprising a day and a night into 24 equal units of 60 minutes each.

The difference in this matter is obvious. At times, the six-hour wait might be shorter, i.e., during the winter, and at times longer, during the summer. (We refer to the daytime hours because generally our meals are eaten during the day.) Thus we would be more stringent in the summer, waiting as much as six “hours” of 72 minutes each, and in the winter we would be more lenient, waiting six “hours” of 50 minutes each.

Pit’chei Teshuva further cites Kaftor Va[P]erach, the Pri Megadim and Chochmat Adam, who all agree with the view of Knesset HaGedola, who rules that the six-hour wait is not based on sha’ot zemaniyot but rather on sha’ot kevuot, and the Pit’chei Teshuva concludes that such is our custom.

The Mechaber continues: “And even if he has waited the proper course of time but finds [pieces of] meat between his teeth, he must remove them, and one who chews [the meat] for an infant [as was the practice before machinery came into use] must [also] wait.”

Pit’chei Teshuva (ad loc.) explains this last halacha, where one has only chewed but not eaten the meat, as being “la plug” – the Sages did not differentiate in their enactment, and one should not break down the barrier, or be a poretz geder.

The Mechaber’s rule is based on the following Gemara in Chullin (105a): “R. Assi inquired of R. Yochanan, ‘How long must one wait between [eating] meat and cheese?’ R. Yochanan replied, ‘Nothing at all!’ to which the other replied, ‘Surely this cannot be, because R. Hisda said that if one ate meat he is forbidden [immediately afterwards] to eat cheese, and if he ate cheese, he is permitted [immediately after that] to eat meat!'”

The Gemara then explains that we are to understand the question as follows: “How long must one wait between cheese and meat” To which R. Yochanan replied, “Nothing at all.'”

Let us examine R. Hisda’s statement: “If one ate meat he is forbidden to [immediately] eat cheese; if one ate cheese he is permitted to [immediately] eat meat.”

Rashi (ad loc., s.v. “Asur le’echol gevina”) explains that meat exudes fats which are retained in the mouth and the taste remains for a while.

R. Acha b. R. Yosef asked R. Hisda, “Meat that is [stuck] between the teeth, what is the law?” He quoted to him the verse (Numbers 11:33], “Habasar odenu bein shinneihem … – the meat [flesh] was still between their teeth …”

Rashi (loc. cit. s.v. “Habasar odenu”) explains that the substance that remains between the teeth is still referred to as meat.

Mar Ukva says, “Compared to my father, I am like vinegar [in comparison] to wine, for as regards my father, when he eats meat he does not eat cheese until the same time tomorrow.” [Rashi s.v. “Lemachar ki hashta” explains this to mean a 24-hour period]. “However, as for me at this meal, I do not eat [cheese immediately after meat] but at the next meal I do it.”

Based on this Gemara, the following are the assumptions for the Mechaber’s halacha: due to the digestive process, meat leaves behind a residue and that applies not only to consumed meat, but even to that which remains between the teeth, as well. If a person eats three meals daily, breakfast in the morning, lunch at midday and dinner in the evening, there is generally a six-hour separation between these meals.

The Rema (Yoreh De’ah ad loc.) adds in his glosses, “If [after his waiting period] he found meat between his teeth, he must remove it and he must then rinse his mouth before he eats cheese.” He then cites another view (Chullin 105a, Tosafot s.v. li’seudata) that one need not wait six hours but rather one hour, and he may eat [cheese after meat] immediately if he pushed away the table [in Talmudic times they would eat at small individual tables whether partaking of a meal together or individually, and they would push away the table at the conclusion of the meal] and he recited Birkat Hamazon.

The Rema, however, states that it is the custom in these lands (Ashkenaz) to wait one hour to eat cheese after meat, but that one must conclude that meal and recite Birkat Hamazon (our equivalent to “pushing away the table”).

Interestingly, this is one of those instances where the majority of Ashkenazic Jewry adopted the view of the Beit Yosef (R. Yosef Caro) as opposed to the more lenient view of the Rema. Some Dutch Jews follow the Rema and some German communities wait three hours, but for the most part Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewry follow the Beit Yosef and wait six hours after meat before eating cheese.

The fundamental reason for our stringency and preciseness as to the six hours is found in the Shach (Yoreh De’ah 89 ad loc.), whose statement is similar to Rashi’s, but who fixes a specific time. He cites the Tur: And during the six hours (of waiting), even where there is no meat found between the teeth, it is still prohibited [to eat cheese] as the meat gives off fats and secretions and the taste remains for a long time [six hours]; therefore, when one has just chewed meat for an infant but did not eat [and digest] it, there is no need to wait. He then cites Rambam, who reasons that our waiting is due to the meat between the teeth, and one who chews for an infant should also wait, as it is better to follow the more stringent of the two reasons.

The Rema (ad loc. 89:2) adds that there are those who are even more stringent and do not eat meat after cheese as well until a wait of six hours, according to the Taz ad loc., or one hour, according to the Shach ad loc. Even though some are lenient, especially where they rinsed the mouth, it is far better to be stringent in this area.

We note that the Mechaber uses the same phraseology as the Gemara when he refers to “meat and cheese.” The Chochmat Adam (Topic 40:12 et al.], however, substitutes the term “milk” for “cheese” because the halacha is the same. We wait six hours before we drink milk after eating meat, just as we would if we wished to eat cheese.

The question arises about the difference, if any, according to Halacha, if one wishes to drink milk before eating meat, as opposed to eating cheese before meat.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: A Kiddush Meal Without Washing

Wednesday, May 19th, 2004
QUESTION: I was at a kiddush recently where a lot of food (hot and cold) was served. Kiddush on wine was made, but no one washed the hands for eating bread. I am sure that most people were unable to eat a seuda afterwards. This seems to be a trend which is far from the kiddushim of the past, when a piece of herring and kichel and shnaps were the fare.
As I do not wish to denigrate my hosts, who were so gracious in spite of what I see as doing something incorrect, please omit my name.
Name Withheld On Request
ANSWER: We dealt with a similar question a number of years ago – except that there the matter concerned a simcha, a se’uda where an individual was honored with leading the Grace After Meals but had to decline because he had not washed for eating bread.The question there was whether one is required to wash and make Hamotzi when one partakes of a meal.

We noted the following in our conclusion then:

‘As regards what you observed at the simcha you attended, the individual you mentioned lost out on a great kibbud: At any meal where a minimum of ten men participate, the invitation to join in the Grace After Meals is recited with Hashem’s Name, Nevarech Elokeinu. Imagine the feeling of the host if out of the large crowd of invitees fewer than ten had bothered to wash!’

But let us now turn to the discussion.

Indeed, the proper manner to begin a meal is to wash the hands (netilat yadayim) in order to say the blessing of Hamotzi, which then serves as the blessing for all foods eaten at the meal – except wine, for which the beracha of Borei pri hagafen is to be recited – for bread is the foundation of the meal. If one does not recite the blessing over bread, one is required to say a separate blessing for each food that is served.

The following passage in Tractate Berachot (42a) might help us understand the principle involved:

R. Huna ate thirteen rolls (cakes) of three to a kab (a very small measure) without saying a blessing [Grace After Meals]. R. Nahman remarked: This is [a sufficient quantity] to satisfy hunger! (It is not just dessert, and therefore requires Grace After Meals. R. Nahman is consistent with his own view, for he said:) Anything which others make the mainstay of a meal requires Birkat Hamazon afterwards.

The Gemara then relates that R. Yehuda gave a wedding feast for his son in the house of R. Yehuda b. Habiba. They (the waiters) set before the guests “pat haba’ah be[k]isanin,” bread such as is served for dessert. (R. Chananel describes them as pockets of dough filled with sugar, almonds and nuts.) When R. Yehuda arrived, he heard the guests recite Hamotzi. He remarked [derisively, because he did not consider it the proper blessing]: What is this “tzitzi” that I hear? Are you perhaps saying the blessing of Hamotzi? They replied: Indeed, such is the case, for we have been taught in a baraita that R. Muna said in the name of R. Yehuda that “bread served with dessert” requires the blessing of Hamotzi, and R. Shmuel said that the halacha is as stated by R. Muna. R. Yehuda said: [It has been stated that] the halacha is not as stated by R. Muna. They retorted: Is it not the Master himself who has said in the name of Shmuel that bread wafers may be used for an eruv (meaning, they are considered substantial food) and the blessing recited over them is Hamotzi? [To which R. Yehuda replied:] In that instance the case was different, for they had based the meal on it (kava se’uda], whereas here
it does not apply because it was not the mainstay of the meal.

This Gemara is the basis for our halacha, and so rules R. Yosef Caro (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 168:6): For cake we say the blessing of Borei minei mezonot and conclude with the beracha [acharona] of Me’ein shalosh. However, if one ate a quantity that would usually serve as the mainstay of a meal for other people, he blesses Hamotzi and recites Birkat Hamazon even if he was not satiated. (This applies if he intended to eat such a quantity – whether or not it is sufficient for him.) However, if a person intended to eat a small quantity and [therefore] recited Borei minei mezonot, but ended up eating a larger quantity (the norm that usually serves as a meal), he recites the Grace After Meals even though he did not bless Hamotzi. Consequently, if he ate less than the quantity upon which others base a meal, he blesses “Borei minei mezonot” and concludes with “Me’ein shalosh” even if he considered it a meal for himself, since we follow the norm established by the population at large.

When asked a question on this matter, my uncle, HaRav Sholom Klass, zt”l, quoted the Gemara in Tractate Shabbos (62b) where R. Abahu states that three things bring man to poverty (aniyut) – one of which is eating without washing the hands.

My uncle remarked that there is an easy way to remember it with the acronym “ani” (poor) formed by the words “al netilat yadayim.”

He then quoted the Gemara in Sotah (4b), which is apparently more severe in its description of the punishment for violating this mitzva: R. Zerika said in the name of R. Eleazar, Whoever makes light of washing the hands will be uprooted from the world (i.e., death). Tosafot ad loc. (s.v. Ne’ekar min ha’olam) point out the inconsistency between these two statements and reconcile them by noting that poverty can be worse than [a swift] death.

Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayyim 168:18) decries what had become a practice in his days (and that is much more so the case in our days):

Many of our Gedolim are angry at the custom that has spread on festive occasions to set up tables laden with fish dishes and meat dishes (namely, smorgasbords) and “pat haba’ah be[k]isanin.” People eat without washing the hands, and without the blessing of Hamotzi or Birkat Hamazon. Instead, they recite “Borei minei mezonot” and conclude with “Al hamichya.” They consume a large quantity of these cake-like bread items and there is no doubt that it requires washing the hands, as well as Hamotzi and Grace After Meals … And even if they do not eat these, but eat several courses of the other dishes, they are required to wash the hands …

Indeed, recently I was at the bar mitzva kiddush of my nephew, Michael Davidson, which was held in the Ave. N Jewish Center in Brooklyn, NY, where they have a fine rule. They set out on the table challot so that all may wash, thus avoiding this problem.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-a-kiddush-meal-without-washing/2004/05/19/

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