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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chol Hamo’

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

Wednesday, July 28th, 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’ flesh 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 continued with an examination of the necessary waiting time between consuming meat and milk. We also addressed the question of the necessary waiting time between the consumption of dairy foods (milk, as well as soft or hard cheeses) and meat. There are various opinions, but one common requirement is that the hands be washed and the mouth rinsed after dairy.

We continue this week with a discussion regarding the age at which a child is required to wait the full time between meat and milk as an adult does.

* * *

Regarding your young child and the wait between meat and dairy, we must discern the age at which a child becomes responsible for the observance of mitzvot.

The katan (lit. minor) we refer to is a boy or a girl younger than 13 years and one day or 12 years and one day, respectively. When a child reaches that age, he or she is no longer considered a child.

We derive this from the verse (Genesis 34:25), “… Vayikchu shnei bnei Yaakov, Shimon veLevi achei Dina ish charbo … - … The two sons of Jacob, Shimon and Levi, the brothers of Dina, took each man his sword…” The parasha relates how Yaakov’s two sons avenged the disgrace that Shechem son of Chamor perpetrated against their sister Dina.

The Gemara (Nazir 29b) discusses the responsibilities of the father regarding his minor son’s vows, and how those responsibilities conclude when the son attains manhood, which Rashi (ad loc. s.v. Ve R. Yosi b. R. Yehuda…) explains as being 13 years of age and a day, the source being the verse cited above (ish charbo…).

A girl’s maturity at the age of 12 is derived (Niddah 45b), according to Rabbi (Judah the Prince) from the verse (Genesis 2:22), “Vayyiven Hashem Elokim et hatzela [asher lakach min ha'adam le'isha, vayevieha el ha'adam] - G-d fashioned the rib[side] that he took from Adam into a woman, and brought her to Adam.” [Rashi ad loc. states the Midrashic view that G-d originally fashioned Adam as one side male and one side female.]

Rabbi reads the word vayyiven not only according to its literal sense, “He fashioned,” but also as “He added understanding,” meaning that women were given greater understanding (bina) than men. This is indicative by her maturing a year earlier than males, at the age of twelve.

This is how Rambam rules in Hilchot Nedarim (11:3): Vows made by a male at age 13 and a day, or a female at age 12 and a day, are beyond the father’s responsibility and rights, and thus he may no longer rebuke them. (If the young man or woman wish to change their mind, their only recourse is to seek a release, hatara, from the beit din).

Regarding the more lenient attitude reserved for minors, the Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 531:6) states that a minor is permitted to take a haircut even on Chol Hamo’ed, the intermediary days of the Festivals.

The Rema comments on the Mechaber’s statement that we will even allow a minor child to take a haircut in public.

The Magen Avraham, however, points out that in the event the minor child appears to have attained physical maturity, it would be better to prohibit him from taking a haircut on Chol Hamo’ed in public.

Thus we see that though young people may begin to mature earlier and can be mistaken for adults, we nevertheless fix the point of maturity at 12 and one day for females, and 13 and one day for males.

The Gemara (Yevamot 114a) states that we rule that when a minor eats unclean animals, the beit din is not required to restrain him, for until the child attains maturity (12 or 13 years of age), the child is still considered a minor with no mitzva encumbrances.

Yet we do find in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayyim 343:1, Hilchot Shabbat) that though there is no requirement for the beit din to restrain a minor child found to be eating nevelot (the carcass of unclean or non-slaughtered animals), it is incumbent upon the father to rebuke him and restrain him.

The Magen Avraham (ad loc.) cites Issur VeHeter Ha’aruch (chapter 248), who rules that this requirement upon the father applies only where the child has attained understanding, i.e., he/she is a bar/bat “havana.”

As to what constitutes havana (understanding), we find this to be a matter that varies from child to child, as we see from the arbitrary statement of the Mishna in Tractate Sukka (28a): “A minor [child] who is not dependent on his mother is obligated in the mitzva of sukka.”

The Gemara also asks how we define “a minor who is not dependent on his mother.” In the academy of R. Yannai they explained that he is toilet trained and has no need for his mother to clean him. R. Shimon b. Lakish explained it as a child who does not call for his mother when he wakes up. The Gemara questions this, because even some adults call out to their mother upon waking. The Gemara rephrases this to indicate that a child who lies awake and does not consistently call his mother until she comes is considered a minor child who is not dependent on his mother, and as such is obligated to sit in the sukka. Thus we see that this is not a clearly set age but one that varies somewhat from child to child.

(To be continued)

Q & A: Tu B’Shevat On This Coming Sabbath

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004
QUESTION: This year Tu B’Shevat falls on Shabbat. I recall that you discussed this holiday a while back, but since it falls on Shabbat this year, could you please review the topic again?
M. Goldman
Miami, FL
ANSWER: The first Mishna in Tractate Rosh Hashana states that there are four New Years (lit. “heads of the year”): in Nissan, in Elul, in Tishrei and in Shevat. These New Years, according to the Mishna, are regarded as the beginning of the year for the fulfillment of various precepts:”On the first of Nissan is the New Year for Kings and for Festivals. On the first of Elul is the New Year for the tithe of cattle – R. Eleazar and R. Shimon [who dispute this statement] say it is on the first of Tishrei.

“On the first of Tishrei is the New Year for years (such as the reckoning of dates for shetarot, or promissory notes), for Sabbatical years (the seven-year cycle of shemitta in Eretz Yisrael, when the earth lies fallow), for Jubilee years (the culmination of seven seven-year cycles, i.e., the 50th year), for planting (calculating the first three years when a newly planted tree is considered orla and its fruit may not be eaten), and for [the tithe of] vegetables.

“On the first of Shevat is the New Year for [tithing the fruit of] the tree, according to the ruling of Beit Shammai; Beit Hillel [disagree and] say, On the 15th of that month.”

We can easily see that these various “calendar” years are intertwined with the laws of tithes which are stated in Parashat Korach (Bamidbar 18:21-32), Parashat Re’eh (Devarim 14:22-29) and Parashat Ki Tavo (ibid. 26:12-15). Our sages expounded therefrom the laws regarding the various tithes: ma’aser rishon, the first tithe that is given to the Levites; ma’aser sheni, a second tithe set aside the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the shemitta cycle, and which had to be eaten in Jerusalem ; and ma’aser ani, the tithe set aside for the poor during the third and sixth years of the Sabbatical cycle, replacing ma’aser sheni.

Rambam (Hilchot Ma’aser Sheni 1:2 and Hilchot Terumot 5:11), based on Tractate Rosh Hashana 14b (the baraita of R. Shimon b. Eleazar) and 15b (stating, “If the fruit of a tree blossoms before the 15th of Shevat …”), rules that we follow the view of Beit Hillel. In fact, the discussion in the Gemara (ibid.) sets the date of the 15th (tet-vav or “tu”) of Shevat as the dividing line to determine for which year fruits of various trees are to be tithed.

In Bnei Yissaskhar, the Dinover Rebbe, R. Zvi Elimelech Spero, derives from the wording of the Mishna, “the New Year of the tree” (in the singular, as opposed to the plural used in the other cases) that on the 15th of Shevat every Jew should pray for a choice etrog that is beautiful to look at and in accordance with the most meticulous requirements (mehudar). He understands “the tree” to refer to one particular tree, the citron tree.

R. Yosef Caro states in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayyim 572:3) regarding the laws of fasting that “if a community desires to proclaim a public fast for a Monday and the Thursday and Monday that follow (Ta’anit B’Hav), and [one of] the fast day[s] would fall on Tu B’Shevat, the fast [schedule] is deferred to the following week so that a fast should not be decreed on Tu B’Shevat, which is the New Year for the trees.” Rema adds that if they have already started the fast [schedule], it is not canceled, as would be the case on Rosh Chodesh and Chol Hamo’ed.

The Magen Avraham and the Ba’er Heitev both relate the incident when the Maharil had decreed that the community refrain from eating meat every Monday until Rosh Hashana. That year, the 15th of Av (which is comparable in status to the 15th of Shevat) fell on a Monday, and the Maharil refused to eat meat. However, on the eve of Yom Kippur (when we have to eat two se’udot with meat) and on the occasion of a se’udat mitzva it was permitted because of his [original] intention - he had not intended to include these days in his decree.

This would conform with the view of Rema (supra), who indicates the lesser status of Tu B’Shevat in regard to fasting. It is a progression from the preceding halacha (572:2) which states that if the community had already started a fast on Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah, Purim or Chol Hamo’ed, they are allowed to complete the fast – but they incur the obligation of another fast day for having fasted on that day.

The Magen Avraham explains that even though Rosh Chodesh is referred to as a “mo’ed” (a festival), it is not a yom mishteh ve’simcha (a day of feasting and rejoicing). The Yad Ephraim points out that Purim is indeed referred to as “yom mishteh ve’simcha” (Megillat Esther 9:17), but he notes that Rosh Chodesh is de’oraita (Biblical) while Purim is not.

In reference to the Tachanun prayer and nefilat appayim (lit. falling on one’s face during the act of prostration), the Mechaber states (Orach Chayyim 131:6) that the custom is not to do so on Tu B’Shevat and other semi-holidays. (Note: The Talmud in Megilla 22b refers to the custom of falling on the face when prostrating during the Tachanun prayer on a public fast day. Rav, who happened to be in a synagogue in Babylon on a public fast day, did not “fall on his face” when the rest of the congregation did so. The Gemara assumes that the reason was that the floor of the synagogue was made of stone, and we are taught in Vayyikra 26:1, “Ve’even maskit lo titnu be’artzechem le’hishtachavot ale’ha – You shall not place a stone covering in your land to prostrate yourselves upon it.” “Ale’ha” is understood to refer to a stone covering “in your land,” meaning wherever you live, but not in the Temple, where it is permitted. The Gemara also offers an alternative answer – that it is only full prostration with arms and legs extended that is prohibited everywhere but in the Beit Hamikdash. Therefore, today we make sure that there is something, such as the arm, that separates between the face and [any] floor.)

There is no mention of a formal se’uda in regard to Tu B’Shevat, just as there is none for Rosh Chodesh. But the Magen Avraham and the Ba’er Heitev (loc. cit.) cite two interesting minhagim (customs). One is that on days when we do not say Tachanun, “Bnei Austria” (Jews living in Austria) did not eat lentils since these denote mourning. The other custom mentioned is that we, “Bnei Ashkenaz,” the Ashkenazic Jews, eat many kinds of fruits growing on trees. Of course, we have to be careful to recite the shehecheyanu blessing on new fruits in addition to the regular blessing we make before eating fruit (see Shevet Mussar, quoting the testament of R. Eliezer Hagadol to his son).

Although “Bnei Ashkenaz” are mentioned specifically, the Sepharadim also celebrate Tu B’Shevat. In fact, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Rosh Kollel of Chazon Ovadyahu and son of the Gaon Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, devotes no less than nine paragraphs to the laws of Tu B’Shevat in his halachic book Yalkut Yosef. He notes (Hilchot Tu B’Shevat, Siman 4) the custom [of Sephardic Jews] to learn Mishna and Zohar on the night of Tu B’Shevat, including, of course, the laws pertaining to orla, Teruma (the first produce offered to the Kohanim), and tithes.

Even though this minor festival does not affect our prayers nor is there any specific Torah reading for the occasion, whether it falls on Shabbat or on a weekday, we do find that he examines (Siman 6) the situation when Tu B’Shevat occurs on a Sabbath, and deals with the question when the new fruits are to be brought to the table to say the shehecheyanu blessing over them. If the fruit is served after Kiddush, but before washing for the meal, there is a dispute among Poskim whether the Grace After Meals serves as a substitute for the Beracha Acharona, the blessing that is normally said after eating fruit, based on the principle “safek berachot lehakel,” namely, when there is a doubt about the requirement for a blessing we tend to be lenient. He expresses the opinion that it is therefore proper to serve the new fruits during the meal, before Birkat Hamazon, so that the fruits are definitely included in the Grace After Meals.

We catch a glimpse of the importance of trees in our life when we read in Parashat Shoftim (Devarim 20:19) the admonition not to destroy fruit-bearing trees when we lay siege to a city. The phrase “Ki ha’adam etz hasadeh” is taken to be a question, meaning that we should not destroy trees because they do not attack us as people do or, alternatively, that man depends on the tree, “For man is the tree of the field.” All the commentators refer to man’s dependence on the fruit of the tree for his sustenance. The tree is considered as a source of life and we are anxious to preserve it.

The Talmud (Ta’anit 7a) relates that when R. Zera was not feeling well enough to teach the Law, R. Jeremiah asked him to expound something of an aggadic character. He replied by quoting R. Yochanan on the verse, “But is man a tree of the field?” Since it states “from it you shall eat,” and “it you shall not destroy,” but it also states in the following verse, “It (an ornamental tree) you may destroy,” we derive from the wording that if a scholar (who is compared to a fruit-bearing tree) is worthy, we should eat (i.e., learn) from him.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-tu-bshevat-on-this-coming-sabbath/2004/03/03/

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