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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yom Tov’

The Time For Lighting Candles

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Shabbat candles must be lit by (and preferably 18 minutes before) sunset. Once it is twilight, the time between sunset and nightfall known as bein hashmashot, it is too late to light. Bein hashmashot begins when the sun sets below the horizon and is no longer visible.

According to Rabbi Yehuda in Tractate Shabbat, bein hashmashot lasts 13 and a half minutes. In Tractate Pesachim, however, the same Rabbi Yehuda maintains that bein hashmashot lasts 72 minutes.

In explaining the discrepancy between the duration of bein hashmashot according to Rabbi Yehuda in Shabbat and Rabbi Yehuda in Pesachim, Rabbeinu Tam explains that there are two separate sunsets: Sunset I, which begins immediately after the sun has sunk below the horizon and lasts 58 and a half minutes, and Sunset II, which starts thereafter when light begins to fade into darkness and lasts an additional 13 and a half minutes until nightfall.

According to Rabbeinu Tam, the period on Friday between Sunset I and Sunset II (58 and a half minutes) is considered weekday, during which time all weekday work may be performed and one may light candles until Sunset II, i.e. 58 and a half minutes after Sunset I.

Many Rishonim, such as the Rambam and the Gaonim, disagree with Rabbeinu Tam. They maintain that for candle lighting there is only one relevant sunset, i.e. Sunset I, when the sun dips below the horizon, and candles must be lit before such time.

Though the Shulchan Aruch agrees with Rabbeinu Tam and maintains that candles can be lit as late as 58 and a half minutes after Sunset I, the Vilna Gaon, following the opinion of the majority of the Rishonim, disagrees with the Schulchan Aruch and maintains that candles must be lit by Sunset I.

There is a third opinion, that of Rabbi Eliezer of Metz, according to which bein hashmashot begins 13 and a half minutes before Sunset I. In his view, candle lighting time would be 13 and a half minutes before Sunset I.

It should be noted that the 13-and-a-half-minute period is derived from the time it takes a person to walk 3/4 of a mile. According to most opinions, it takes a person 18 minutes to walk the distance of one mile (in which case 3/4 of a mile would take 13 and a half minutes) but according to a stricter opinion, it takes a person 24 minutes to walk one mile (in which case 3/4 of a mile would take 18 minutes).

In view of the fact that we are dealing here with the possible violation of a biblical melachah, all modern poskim agree that one must adopt the strictest of all approaches, namely that of Rabbi Eliezer of Metz and that of those who say it takes 24 minutes to walk a mile. Therefore, we light candles 18 minutes before Sunset I. To know when this is, one should consult a local newspaper or a reputable Jewish calendar.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein writes that during the 18-minute period between candle lighting and Sunset I, members of the household that are not responsible for lighting the Shabbat candles may continue with weekday work until Sunset I, but that this should not be encouraged.

On the first night of Yom Tov – except for Shavuot – candles may be lit either at the same time as on Erev Shabbat or after returning from Maariv, provided one lights from an existing light. On the second night of Yom Tov, however, as well as whenever Shabbat precedes Yom Tov and on both days of Shavuot, candles should be lit from an existing light, after nightfall.

Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore.  He can be contacted at rafegrunfeld@gmail.com.

Tishrei Memories

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have come and gone. It is time to return my beloved Machzor to the bookshelf. Gifted to me by my beloved parents, of blessed memory, for my bat mitzvah, it is one of my most precious possessions.

When I daven from it, I stroke its silky pages. Its front and back book covers are long gone. The years melt away and I am a young girl again, clad in my new Yom Tov outfit and shiny black patent leather shoes. Soon I will skip home for Mommy’s yummy Yom Tov pot roast and mashed potatoes.

Sometime later in the afternoon, we will march hand in hand to the Hudson Bay for Tashlich, convinced, as Mommy assured us, that we would be much lighter after having thrown breadcrumbs into the water, symbolizing our aveirot.

Before we know it, Sukkot is on its way. We will join the other children at our rav’s sukkah to decorate it. How we got the paper chains to stretch from one end of the sukkah to the other is beyond me since I don’t recall a ladder helping the little ones reach the ceiling.

In those days, before the advent of global warming, Sukkot actually signaled the beginning of the cold, crisp weather.

The highlight was Simchat Torah – as my joy knew no bounds. As a teen having attended YU Seminars, I could not wait to showcase some of my new dance steps and wonder why everyone else seemed to be apathetic fuddy-duddies!

The years passed. I married and moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where sukkah-hopping kept us visiting one another from morning until evening. Following several years there we lived a military life. We were the chaplain and rebbetzin on a UK Air Force base. Our sukkah was lovingly built by the non-Jewish spouse of one of our congregants.

Returning to the present, as my children marry and set up their own homes and traditions, I hope that they will carry some fond memories of their own childhoods in Crown Heights. There, neighbors, especially in the building where we have lived for many years, have the opportunity to spend some quality time together for at least one precious week until, in the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, “V’Yaakov halach ledarko.” We depart, taking all the strength from our spiritual work during Tishrei to hold us in good stead for the coming year.

Judaism in a Jar

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

If the recent Sukkot overdose of Shabbat, followed by two days of Yom Tov, and another Shabbat followed by two more days of Yom Tov, isn’t enough to get Diaspora Jews to move to Israel, with its force-feeding of gefilta fish day-after-day, until gefilta fish jelly drips out of people’s noses and horseradish pours out of their ears, I don’t know what it’s going to take until Diaspora Jews are fed up with practicing Judaism in a jar.

With an average of two balls of gefilta fish per meal for the 3 Shabbat meals, and two balls at each of the 2 seudot on Yom Tov times 2 – that makes for 28 gefilta fish balls over the holiday for each and every Jew. For New York’s 1 million Jews, that means that 28,000,000 gefilta fish balls were consumed during Sukkot, not counting the 14,000,000 balls eaten during the two days of Rosh HaShanah and the preceding Shabbat.

It’s a big boom for gefilta fish companies, but a big belly ache for Diaspora Jews, many of whom end up rushing at the end of the holiday to hospitals where emergency rooms are crammed with gefilta-fish-overdosed Jews suffering from Diaspora Poisoning.

[Incidentally, the booming gefilta fish market may get an additional boost from a very unexpected source - U.S. President Obama who, in a bid to attract more Jewish voters, is planning to announce that if he is re-elected, the traditional White-House Thanksgiving Dinner will feature gefilta fish instead of turkey.]

As we’ve written on many occasions, the Torah isn’t meant to be observed in the Diaspora. Judaism isn’t meant to be kept in a jar, but on the mountains and Biblical valleys of Israel. The Torah was given to be performed in Eretz Yisrael. We described how the holiday of Sukkot is natural to the Land of Israel, with sukkah booths all over the country, on terraces, rooftops, street corners, shopping centers, and army bases – not only in back yards in isolated Jewish ghettos. And here in Israel, Sukkot is an official national holiday, with a long 10-day vacation from school, so kids here grow up being proud Jews, and not some minority with a chip on their shoulder for being different than Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Another example is the prayer for rain which we began saying yesterday in the Amidah prayer. As we said it, rain started to fall outside the synagogue window, marking the start of the rainy season in Israel, and a ushering in a united feeling of joy. In America, where it rains all the time, the prayer is meaningless. The same things happens come Hanukah time, when in Israel we say, “A great miracle happened here,” while Diaspora Jews say, “A great miracle happened THERE.” Judaism is happening in Israel.

As long as the curse of the exile was upon us, we had no choice and had to observe whatever individual  commandments we could in the Diaspora, but now that everyone can come home to a national Jewish life in Israel, where Jerusalem is once again the center of world Jewry, the practice of Judaism-in-a-bottle, in the ghettos of foreign, gentile lands is no longer necessary.

So, as we all proclaimed at the conclusion of our Yom Kippur prayers: “Next Year in Jerusalem!” See you here soon!

Road to Recovery

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Dear Brocha,

Thank you so much for your honesty! Since you have bared your soul, I now feel I can do the same. While growing up, the Yomim Tovim were always my favorite times of the year. On Sukkos we always went sukkah hopping, to Simchas Bais Ha’Shoeva, and boy did we dance on Simchas Torah. On Purim we went collecting in fancy cars, danced in the streets to the leibedike music, and had a mesiba in yeshiva where we danced with our rabbeim. On Pesach we ate lots of delicious food and yet we still complained that we had so little to eat. We went on fun Chol Ha’Moed trips and made good wholesome memories together as a family.

Today, I am a father of six bochurim b”ah. While I love and appreciate all of my children, unfortunately the Yomim Tovim aren’t filled with the good memories as in the days of yore. You see, one of my sons got involved with the wrong crowd, and at 16 he looks forward to Shabbos and Yom Tov as simply another opportunity to drink. Now that Sukkos is almost upon us, instead of joyfully anticipating, I am cautiously fearful about what Simchas Torah will bring.

Simchas Torah is a celebration of Klal Yisroel’s completing and re-commencing the cycle of reading the heilige Torah. It is a time when we can reach great heights in our closeness to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. It is a time for parents to enjoy their sons getting an aliyah, dancing with them and watching them be showered with candies to symbolize the sweetness of the words of the Torah. All of this is greatly encouraged!

However, my 16-year-old son has graduated from candies to liquor. Last year someone had to call Hatzolah because he appeared to be so inebriated, we thought he might have had alcohol poisoning. Some of the members of our shul were concerned about adults getting into trouble for giving liquor to minors, so instead he was taken to a local pediatrician who instructed us on what to look for so he wouldn’t have to have his stomach pumped. I was hoping that this scare would make him abstain from liquor for good. Yet now, he simply recounts that incident with pride as if it’s his rite of passage to adulthood. Unfortunately, most of the young adults pat him on the back and give him high fives over this “great accomplishment.”

Just last week, my wife and I told him, in no uncertain terms, that his behavior was unacceptable. We also told him that while we try to look the other way when he takes a drink on Shabbos, we would not permit him to get drunk on Simchas Torah. We also told him that if we saw him drinking, we would be forced to take him home. Boy was I shocked by his reaction! He told us that if he were offered a drink, he would not refuse it. He said that while he will not drink on his own, if others offered him a drink, he would partake.

I know that liquor flows freely in our shul on Simchas Torah and I can’t stop it from happening. I went to discuss this with the rov, who was empathetic, yet said he can’t enforce a change to this tradition. My wife and I even considered going to our married son for the second days of Yom Tov so there would be no temptations, however, our son informed us that in his shul there are plenty of l’chaims on Simchas Torah as well. We have desperately been searching for an alcohol free or alcohol reduced shul and are unable to find one. Why do people think they need alcohol to attain a level of simchas hachaim? Why can’t we get a spiritual high through the kedushas hayom? Where have the days gone, when our primary concern was that there was too much candy being given out in shul?

A Worried Father

Dear Worried Father,

What a terrible way to have to look at Yom Tov! I actually believe that the dilemma you face is far greater than just the issue of Simchas Torah. The teenage years are chock full of episodes of experimenting and asserting one’s independence. As teens transition into adulthood, they often become tempted to partake in what they perceive as adult activities. They want to follow their parents’ lead, try the activities already done by their friends and establish their own identities. Alcohol frequently becomes a factor in this struggle. Many teens will likely turn to alcohol or other substances during their teenage years. Seventy percent of high school students have had at least one alcoholic beverage, and they are often with their friends when they drink.

Driveway Sukkah

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Sam Berger and Moti Farber shared a two family house, with a joint driveway in front. The Farbers had an extensive family, whereas Sam was relatively young and just recently had his fourth child.

For the past ten years, Moti had built a large sukkah that covered almost the entire driveway, whereas the Bergers would spend the holiday with their parents.

This year however, was different. As Sukkos approached, Moti saw Sam measuring the driveway with a tape measure and some wooden beams. “What are you measuring?” Moti asked.

“Our family is beginning to grow and it’s getting harder to stay at the parents for all of Yom Tov,” said Sam. “We’re planning to build a sukkah this year.”

“How big a sukkah?” asked Moti.

“Eight feet square,” said Tom.

“Is there enough room left in the driveway with our sukkah?” asked Moti.

“That’s what I was checking,” replied Sam. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem so.”

“So where will you build it?” asked Moti.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” said Sam.

“Why don’t you build your sukkah in the back of the house?” asked Moti.

“It’s not convenient there,” replied Sam. “It means walking around the back all the time.”

“What’s the other option?” asked Moti.

“I’m going to have to ask you to make your sukkah somewhat smaller,” said Sam, “and leave me room in the driveway.”

“But I can’t do that,” protested Moti. “Even with the big sukkah we’re tight, and our married daughter and son are both coming for the first days with their seven children.

“I’m sorry about that,” replied Sam, “but I’m entitled to my share of the driveway just as you are.”

“But you allowed me years ago to build the sukkah there,” argued Moti. “I’ve been building this sukkah for ten years!”

“I never said I gave you permission forever,” answered Sam. “I was happy to allow you to build your sukkah there so long as I didn’t need the space, but not when I also need the space.”

“But I’m established there,” said Moti. “You can’t make me move!”

“The fact that we didn’t need a sukkah in previous years,” replied Sam, “doesn’t mean that we relinquished our rights!”

“If you had no other place I’d understand,” said Moti. “But just because the back is not as convenient is no reason to ruin our Sukkos plans. It’s going to be very hard to fit into a smaller sukkah.”

“You can make it a little smaller and squeeze a bit,” said Sam. “It’s not fair to expect us to use the backyard.”

“We need to discuss this with Rabbi Dayan,” said Moti.

“Agreed,” said Sam. “Let’s make an appointment with him. I’ll give him a call.”

The following evening, Sam and Moti met with Rabbi Dayan in his study and presented their case.

“Uncontested usage of a property for an extended time can indicate ownership or usage rights of that property,” said Rabbi Dayan. “This is known in halacha as chazaka. Everybody agrees that to indicate ownership of the property requires three years of steady use and a legal basis for the claim of ownership. Usage or squatting alone does not make something yours.” (C.M. 140:7)

“I am not claiming sole ownership of the driveway, though,” said Moti, “just usage rights to continue building my sukkah as is on the joint property.”

“That is true,” said Rabbi Dayan. “Typically, though, one partner does not protest if the other partner makes temporary use of the joint property. Therefore, the fact that you used the driveway for many years to set up your sukkah does not establish a chazaka of usage rights. Only if you were to build a permanent wall or affix anchors in the driveway could you possibly establish a chazaka.” (140:15; SM”A 140:22; Shach 140:20)

“There is an additional reason why building a sukkah cannot serve as a chazaka without some permanent element,” added Rabbi Dayan. “Sam continued to use the driveway for the rest of the year. Many authorities maintain that one cannot establish even a chazaka of usage rights when the other party also uses the area.” (See Ketzos 140:3; Nesivos 140:19, 153:12; Emek Hamishpat, Shechenim, p. 39.)

“There was nothing permanent put up all these years,” said Sam. “The sukkah was constructed and completely dismantled each Yom Tov, and we share the driveway the rest of the year.”

Daf Yomi

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Lulav, Shofar, Bris
“His Hand Is Not At Rest”
(Shabbos 3a)

Our Gemara discusses cases of transferring items from hand to hand. Our Gemara discusses all objects. On Rosh Hashanah and on Sukkos, we can clearly specify an object that would be given from hand to hand. When Rosh Hashanah falls out on Shabbos, we do not blow shofar. On Shabbos of Sukkos, we do not shake our lulavim. The concern that we might carry a shofar or lulav on Shabbos was so great, that our Sages deemed it preferable to forbid the performance of these mitzvos altogether.

A Shabbos Bris?

On the other hand, we find in the sugya at Shabbos 131b that a bris milah may be performed on Shabbos, if it is the eighth day after the child’s natural birth. The accepted halacha follows Rabbi Akiva’s opinion, that it is a Torah prohibition to carry a knife through the reshus harabim to the site of a bris milah. Why did our Sages not forbid bris milah on Shabbos, to prevent the mohel from accidentally carrying a knife, just as they forbade lulav and shofar?

Skilled Mohel

The Rishonim address this question in various places throughout Shas, and offer a variety of answers. Tosefos (Megillah 4b, s.v. vaya’’avirena) explains that the mitzvah of bris milah has preeminent importance, since Hashem sealed thirteen covenants with Avraham Avinu in its merit, as we learn from the pesukim beginning, ““This is My covenant with you,”” (Bereishis 17). Furthermore, Tosefos explain that every Jew, regardless of the level of his Torah knowledge, must perform the mitzvos of shofar and lulav. Therefore our Sages were concerned that an unlearned Jew might accidentally come to carry. However, bris milah is only performed by a skilled mohel, who is presumably knowledgeable enough to refrain from carrying on Shabbos.

Communal vs. Individual

The Ran (Rosh Hashanah, on the Rif 8a) explains that on Yom Tov, the entire Jewish people are busy performing the mitzvos of the day, therefore they cannot be expected to keep an eye out to prevent one another from carrying. However, when a bris milah occurs, only the mohel is busy in performing the mitzvah. The other Jews assembled will be free to prevent the mohel from carrying his knife.

An Overriding Mitzvah

Other Rishonim (Ritva, Succah 43a; Meiri, Megillah 4b) explain that in contrast to the mitzvos, the bris milah itself involves a Torah prohibition. If not for the pasuk that orders us otherwise, it would be a violation of meleches choveil (wounding) to perform a bris milah. Since the Torah instructs us that bris milah takes precedence over a definite violation of meleches choveil, our Sages did not forbid it.

An Eight Day Count

The Ritva (ibid.) adds another explanation. As we know, outside of Eretz Yisrael, two days of Yom Tov are observed, since the messengers from the Beis Din in Yerushalayim were unable to reach Chutz La’’Aretz in time to inform them when the new month began, and on which day to observe Yom Tov. As a result, they observed both days just in case. Our Sages forbid shofar and lulav in favor of guarding Shabbos, since shofar and lulav might be observed on the wrong day. The certainty of Shabbos observance took precedence over the possibility of shofar and lulav. Even in places where they were familiar with the fixed lunar cycle, and knew which was the correct day for Yom Tov, our Sages made no exception. They wished to preserve one consistent set of rules for all Jewish communities throughout the world. Bris milah, on the other hand, does not depend on a lunar date. The certainty of bris milah performed on the correct day, eight days after birth, takes precedence over Shabbos.

Doubt and Negligible Doubt

The Chasam Sofer (in his commentary on Shabbos 131b), discusses bris milah as also involving an element of uncertainty. Unbeknownst to us, the child may have been born with health complications, G-d forbid, which would classify him as a neifel, whose bris does not preempt Shabbos. He states that a question of the correct date is a justified concern, since the Bnei Chutz La’Aretz observed both days, without knowing which was the Yom Tov medeoraisa. However, only a small minority of babies are neifels, therefore it is a negligible doubt, which would not justify preempting the bris.

The Last Day Of Sukkos

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

The Gemara in Megillah 31a says that on the last day of Sukkos the Torah reading is the parshah of Vezos Haberachah and the maftir is Vaya’amod Shlomo (Melachim 1:8). The Rishonim are bothered by the following question: the Mishnah in Megillah says that Moshe Rabbeinu instituted what portion of the Torah should be read on each of the Yamim Tovim. Each portion relates to that particular Yom Tov. What then is the connection between Vezos Haberachah and the last day of Sukkos?

One cannot answer that it is because we are scheduled to read that parshah in our weekly reading of the Torah, because on Yom Tov we never continue from that reading. Also, the Mishnah states that the reading for each Yom Tov was instituted by Moshe Rabbeinu and must relate to that Yom Tov.

The Ran, on the page of the Rif  (Megillah 11a), says that it is because this is the last of the Yamim Tovim and therefore we finish the Torah cycle on that day.

The Sefer Hamanhig writes in the section of Simchas Torah that on the last day of Sukkos we read the parshah of Vezos Haberachah because Shlomo Hamelech would bless Bnei Yisrael on the eighth day of Sukkos. Therefore we read Vezos Haberachah on that day, which is the parshah in which Moshe Rabbeinu blessed all of Bnei Yisrael as well.

The Gemara in Sukkah 48a says that Shemini Atzeres is a separate Yom Tov from Sukkos regarding six things. One of them is berachah. Rashi quotes a Tosefta that explains that berachah refers to the blessing of the king, for as it says: “On the eighth day he [Shlomo Hamelech] sent the people off and they blessed the king.” Earlier in that perek the Navi tells us that Shlomo Hamelech blessed the nation on that day before the nation would bless the king.

The sefer, Harirai Kedem, explains that the Gemara in Zevachim 102a says that Moshe Rabbeinu had the status of a king. Similarly Rashi in Shavuos 15a (d”h vechain ta’asu) also says that Moshe Rabbeinu was a king. The Even Ezra and the Ramban, on the pasuk in Vezos Haberachah, “vayehi vishurun melech…” explain that the melech in the pasuk is referring to Moshe Rabbeinu.

Now we can understand the answer of the Sefer Hamanhig. Since Shemini Atzeres is a separate Yom Tov regarding the fact that the king would bless the nation, we read the parshah in the Torah that discusses the blessing of the king – namely Moshe Rabbeinu, who was a melech.

The fact that the haftarah that we read on Shemini Atzeres is the parshah whereby Shlomo Hamelech blesses the nation and the nation blesses him is testament that the reason why we read Vezos Haberachah is because it discusses Moshe Rabbeinu’s blessing of Bnei Yisrael. And as we know, the haftarah always follows the general theme of the Torah portion that was read.

It was the custom of many people in Lita and Russia to go to the rav’s house after davening to bless him and to receive his blessing. The source for this custom is that our rabbanim are considered to be kings, as Chazal tell us: “man malki rabbanan.”

There is one other point that I would like to mention regarding the reading of Vezos Haberachah. When the chassan Torah is called up, the gabbai says, “amod, amod, amod….” Why is amod said three times?

The Gemara in Berachos 34a says that when someone is asked to daven for the amud he should refuse the first request, then act unsure on the second request, and finally accept the third time he is asked. However, regarding an aliyah to the Torah, the Gemara in Berachos 55a says that if one is called to the Torah and refuses the aliyah, his life is shortened. The difference between the two is simple. Davening for the amud is an honor, whereby it is not proper to ascend immediately without first refusing. Receiving an aliyah, on the other hand, is a mitzvah – and one may not refuse to perform it.

Based on this the sefer, Harirai Kedem, suggests that the aliyah of chassan Torah has both of these components: it is an honor and it is an aliyah to the Torah that cannot be refused. Therefore we call up the oleh three times so that he is not put in the position of having to refuse the first two times (since we’ve already called him up three times). At the same time it is not improper for him to ascend immediately since he was already called three times.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-last-day-of-sukkos/2012/10/04/

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