Using Secular Dates In Halacha

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)
1. The poskim stress the importance of using the Jewish calendar for calculating years (ex. 5774), as apposed to using the Gregorian calendar (ex. 2014). The Chasam Sofer (Drashos Chasam Sofer 7 Av year 5570) writes that by counting our years back from the creation of the world we are reminding ourselves of our Creator and of our divine rights to Eretz Yisroel.
2. It is generally assumed that the calendar system currently in use dates back to the birth of Yeshu Hanotzri. Therefore using this calendar system may not be hallachically permitted. The Maharam Shick strongly objected to using secular dates on tombstones. He explains that the Torah says (Shemos 23:13) that we may not mention the names of other gods. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 63b) understands this prohibition to include one who tells his friend to meet him near a particular avodah zara.

The Maharam Shick (Yoreh Deah 171), in turn, extends this prohibition to any action that would cause people to think about avodah zara, even without mentioning it by name. Therefore, he argues, since the secular calendar year is counted from the birth of Yeshu, it is biblically prohibited to use the secular calendar year. A similar stringent ruling is expressed by other poskim (see Sefer Get Pashut 127:30, Hillel Omer Yoreh Deah 62, Yayin Hatom Orach Chaim 8,Beer Moshe 8:18).

3. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Yoreh Deah 3:9), however, proves that there exists a very strong possibility that the secular dates do not correspond at all to the birth of Yeshu Hanotzri. He argues that if the dates have nothing to do with the birth of Yeshu Hanotzri, there would be no hallachic issue with the secular date.

4. Some object to this leniency on the grounds that as long as people think the date relates to avodah zara, they will be reminded of the avodah zara, and one will then violate a Torah prohibition by bringing the avodah zara to people’s attention (Beer Moshe ibid. This is also the view of Harav Nosson Gestetner zt”l printed in Tzitz Eliezer 9:14).

5. The Tzitz Eliezer addresses this objection and explains that if the date really has no relevance to the avodah zara, and people only mistakenly equate the two, there would be no prohibition in using the secular date. One is not responsible for the thoughts of others and as long as he does not mention the avodah zara, or something related to the avodah zara, he has not transgressed any prohibition. In addition, most people are not reminded of Yeshu Hanotzri when told the date. Therefore, he rules leniently and allows others to use the secular date.

6. The Sefer Yereim(75) writes that, “There is no prohibition (of mentioning avodah zara) except when the name is given as a divine name that suggests divinity. But if it is a secular name, then even if this being is treated as a god, since the name does not suggest lordship or divinity, and it also was not given in that context, then it is permitted. For the Torah says, ‘The name of other gods you shall not mention’ – the verse is only concerned with divine names.” According to the Yereim one would be permitted to utter the name of Yeshu outright, and therefore there should be no prohibition of reminding others of his name, so long as one does not reference any “godly characteristics” of Yeshu. (Harav Azriel Hidsheimer zt”l (Yoreh Deah 180) writes, that even if the position of the Yereim is granted, this would certainly not extend to the second part of Yeshu’s title [beginning with the letter “c”], which definitely suggests a “divine status.”)

7. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l continues to cite that many achronim, including the Shach, Chasam Sofer, and Maharm Padwa, have dated letters using the secular dates.
Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l and Harav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt”l both conclude that when necessary, it is permissible to use the secular date. When possible, however, one should try to use the Jewish year. Furthermore, it would seem that one who uses both the Jewish and Gregorian years next to each other is clearly indicating that the Jewish date is meaningful to him, and that he is only using the secular dates for practical reasons.

8. In addition to the issue of counting the years according to the secular calendar, there is an additional debate regarding the best way to identify the secular months when writing invitations. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l cites the Ramban who stresses the importance of counting months according to the Jewish calendar. When the Torah says that Nissan is the first month of the year, it is implying that one may not consider any other month to be the “first.” Therefore, Harav Ovadia concludes, that when writing the secular months one should not refer to them by number, but by name. For example, one should write January, 12, 2014 and not 1,12,2014 (see also Tzitz Eliezer 8:8, 9:14 and Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 1:850).

A similar ruling is expressed by Harav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt”l (Shalmei Simcha page 687). Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a, however, writes that it is permitted to count the secular months by number (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 1:830).

9. The Tzitz Eliezer disagrees with the ruling of Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l. He writes that because the months are named after gentile gods, one may not mention the names by name, but should instead refer to them by number (see also Orchos Rabbeinu page 231).

10. Harav Hershel Schachter shlit”a, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchonon, in a letter addressed to the author, writes that he feels that it is preferable to write the name of the month than to reference it by number. Harav Noach Isaac Oelbaum shlit”a, in a letter addressed to the author, explains that it is difficult to advance a clear hallachic ruling. However, he personally adheres to the view of Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l and references the secular months by name and not by number.

[Hashevaynu’s Sunday Night Madness at Dave and Buster’s will take place on December 7th, for all information please go to]

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The Mitzvah Tantz (Part 2)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

Who Dances-

1. Father- The Sefer Mor V’Ohalos (page 82b) maintains that the father of the kallah may dance with his daughter without using the gartel. He explains that many poskim rule that a father may have physical contact with his daughter and so the use of the gartel is rendered unnecessary.

This was also the view of Harav Moshe Stern zt”l. He adds that many great rabbis also followed this practice (shu”t Beer Moshe 4:132). Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a (Netai Gavriel Nisuin page 272) writes that the author of the Sefer Kol Aryeh, the Minchas Elazar of Munkatch, the Vayaged Moshe of Pupa, the Rebbe of Kasson, the Imrei Chaim of Vizhnitz, and the Ahavas Yisroel of Vizhnitz all danced with their daughters without a gartel.
2. Harav Zinner shlit”a continues that the leaders of Chernobyl, Nadvorna and Bobov all had the custom to dance with their daughters using a gartel.

3. Harav Yosef Greenwald zt”l and Harav Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam zt”l would dance before their daughters without holding a gartel.

4. The father of the chosson is not allowed to have physical contact with his daughter in law and must, at the very least, use a gartel.

5. Grandfather- The Beis Shmuel (Even Haezer 21:14) cites the Chelkas Mechokek and the Bach who both permit a grandfather to have physical contact with his granddaughter. He does note, however, that the Ran seems to rule stringently. While the Beis Shmuel attempts to find a source for the lenient view, it is unclear whether he rules leniently for normative halacha.

Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Even Haezer 4:63) writes that it appears to him that the Beis Shmuel also allows for a grandfather to have contact with his granddaughter. One can argue that according to the Bach, Beis Shmuel, and the Chelkas Mechokek a grandfather can perform the mitzvah tantz without the use of a gartel.

6. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, in his first volume of Igros Moshe Even Haezer (60), explains that there may be a distinction between a paternal granddaughter (his son’s daughter) and a maternal granddaughter (his daughter’s daughter). There is more room to be lenient with a maternal granddaughter, than a paternal granddaughter. He explains that the daughter is an extension of her mother and any contact with the daughter will remind the person of her mother. Therefore, physical contact with a maternal granddaughter is permitted because it will only remind the father of his daughter, who he is also permitted to touch. However, a paternal granddaughter will remind him of his daughter in law, a woman with whom he may not have any contact. He concludes that while one should be machmir and not have contact with his paternal granddaughter, one should not rebuke those who rule leniently. Yet, in the fourth volume of Even Haezer (ibid.) he notes that the common custom is to permit contact with both forms of granddaughters. (see also Shevet Halevi 5:198)

7. Harav Moshe Stern zt”l (shu”t Beer Moshe 4:133) was asked whether a grandfather may perform the mitzvah tantz with his granddaughter. He writes that one would only be permitted to do so with the use of a gartel. He explains that the aforementioned poskim, who permit physical contact between a granddaughter and grandfather, only allowed this in private. In public one should refrain from all physical contact so as to not lead others to become lenient in these areas of halacha.

8. All other relatives of the kallah may not dance with the kallah without the use of the gartel.

9. The chosson- Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a writes that many have the custom that the chosson dances with the kallah without the use of a gartel. He continues to cite the custom among Nadvorna Chassidim that the chosson uses a gartel when dancing with the kallah. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l told Harav Zinner that he has never heard of the custom of the chosson and kallah dancing together without the use of a gartel.

10. Harav Dovid Harfenes (Vayivarech David page 279) warns that care should be taken that no one else dance with the chosson and kallah. In addition, no men should watch them dance.

11. The custom among many Chassidic sects, (Belz, Sanz, Square, Vizhnitz and Amshinov), is that single men are not present during the mitzvah tantz. It goes without saying that a single man should not participate in the mitzvah tantz (Netai Gavriel ibid. See also shu”t Mishneh Halachos 7:249).

Assorted Hallachos-

12. It is customary for badchanim to rejoice with the chosson and kallah during the mitzvah tantz. The badchan also calls up each person to dance with the kallah (Hanisuin Kesidram chapter 21).

13. Some give charity before dancing with the kallah (Netai Gavriel chapter 45:8).

14. During the dance there is a custom to announce the words “Shabbos Shabbos.” (Sefer Mataamim Chosson V’Kallah 115)

15. Harav Dovid Harfenes rules that there is a need for a mechitzah during the mitzvah tantz. This way no other men can see the kallah dance. He explains that while in earlier seforim it says that there is no need for a mechitzah due to the immense holiness of the mitzvah tantz, unfortunately, the times have changed and there is a need to place boundaries to protect those present from sin (Vayivarech David Nisuin 96).

Harav Meir Brandosdorfer zt”l and Harav Yitzchak Weiss zt”l also feel that there should be a mechitzah separating the men and the women during the mitzvah tantz. The mechitzah should be placed in such a way that the men cannot see the women but the women can still see the kallah dancing (see shu”t Koneh Bosem 2:108).

16. The Tzaddikim of Nadvorna, Vizhnitz and Square all had the custom for the kallah to wear her veil during the mitzvah tantz (Netai Gavriel ibid.).

17. The chosson does not perform the mitzvah tantz with the kallah when she is a nidah (Taharas Yisroel 192:35), even with the use of a gartel (Netai Gavriel page 283).

[Hashevaynu’s Sunday Night Madness at Dave and Buster’s will take place on December 7th, for all information please go to]

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The Mitzvah Tantz (Part 1)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. Few customs in Judaism are as debated as the mitzvah tantz. The mitzvah tantz. or mitzvah dance, is the chassidic custom of honorable men (related to the chosson or kallah) dancing before the bride, after the wedding feast. Commonly, the bride, who usually stands perfectly still at one end of the room, will hold one end of a gartel, while the one dancing before her holds the other end. Many consider this to be a very special and holy practice, while others feel that this practice should not be performed, as shall be explained (see Shulchan Haezer vol. 2 page 79b).
2. The Gemara makes reference to “dancing before the kallah.” The Machzor Vitri (496) writes that, “Following the meal we take the chosson and kallah and we seat them facing each other. We then dance around them etc.” Some point to the Machzor Vitri as the source for the mitzvah tantz, even though he makes no reference of dancing with the kallah, which is usually the case with the mitzvah tantz.

3. Many chassidic seforim explain that the mitzvah tantz carries great spiritual importance (see Sefer Derech Pekudecha Mitzvah Lo Saaseh 35:14, Sefer Avnei Esaser and Sefer Netai Gavriel Nisuin chapter 45).

4. The Sefer Shulchan Haezer (vol. 2 page 80) illustrates the importance of this custom from the following story. Grand Rabbi Moshe Hager of Kosov zt”l was once approached by a very poor kallah a few days before her wedding. She wished to receive charity from the Rebbe. The Rebbe gave her money and said that due to his age and the arduous trip he will not be able to attend the wedding. However, he does wish to perform the great mitzvah of dancing before the kallah. So he donned his Shabbos clothing and performed the mitzvah tantz.

5. The Pischei Teshuva (Even Haezer 65:2), however, cites the Sefer Torah Chaim who prohibits dancing with the kallah, even if a gartel is used and no physical contact is made with the kallah. He adds that the Gemara discusses the virtue of dancing “before” the kallah, not “with” the kallah.

Based upon this teaching, Harav Moshe Stern zt”l (shu”t Beer Moshe 4:131) writes that he performs a modified version of mitzvah tantz. He dances before the kallah without holding a gartel. This was also the practice of the great Rebbe of Shinova zt”l (see Sefer Divrei Torah Munkatch vol. 1 note 6), Harav Yosef Greenwald (Pupa Rav) and Harav Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam zt”l (see Netai Gavriel 45:3).

6. Those who do use a gartel during the mitzvah tantz feel that since the man is not touching the woman (or her clothing), but rather he is touching the same thing that she is touching, there is no prohibition. Even though normally this is not something that one would do (as it may be prohibited for a husband to act this way with his wife when she is a nidah- see Shach Yoreh Deah 195:2), for the sake of the mitzvah of simchas chosson v’kallah it is permitted (see Shulchan Haezer ibid.).

Moreover, the kallah does not really “dance.” She merely holds on to the gartel as the man dances. This way they are really dancing  “before” the kallah and not “with” her (Shu”t Vayivarech David Nisuin page 278).

7. Ashkenazim and sefardim do not have the custom to perform the mitzvah tantz. Chabad Chassidim also do not have the custom to perform the mitzvah tantz (see Netai Gavriel ibid.).

8. The Bach (Even Haezer 21) writes that if one has the custom to perform the mitzvah tantz he may continue to do so. If he does not have such a custom, then one may not decide to perform the mitzvah tantz. This ruling was cited by the Chelkas Mechokek and Beis Shmuel as normative halacha.

Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l also rules that sefardim, who do not have the custom of the mitzvah tantz, should not perform the mitzvah tantz (Yalkut Yosef Sovea Semachos page 197).

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Melavah Malka

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. The Gemara (Shabbos 119) rules that after Shabbos one should eat a meal. This meal is referred to as Melavah Malka – literally “escort the Queen”.

2. The poskim disagree as to whether one is obligated to eat this meal or is it merely an optional mitzvah. The Radvaz (Matnos Aniyem 9:13) writes that eating the Melavah Malka is not obligatory. This is also the view of the Mishnah Berurah (300:2). He therefore writes that if one only has a limited amount of food one should use it for the three Shabbos meals, which are obligatory, and not for the optional Melavah Malka. However, the Chaya Adam (8:36) writes that “the Melavah Malka is an absolute obligation.” Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a also writes that there is a rabbinic obligation to eat the Melavah Malka (shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 2:166).

3. Women are also obligated to eat the Melavah Malka (see Chazon Ovadia vol. 2 page 444 for a full list of poskim). Harav Elimelech of Lizhensk adds that women eating the Melavah Malka is a segulah for an easy and safe childbirth. Before they eat the food they should say that they are eating the food in order to fulfill the mitzah of Melavah Malka and by doing this it protects them from difficult and dangerous childbirth (see Taamei Haminhagim page 63b).

4. The poskim debate whether one is allowed to take food out of the freezer on Shabbos in order to let it thaw and become edible on motzei Shabbos. Some authorities permit it, while others forbid it because they consider it an act of hachana (preparation for the weekday which is forbidden on Shabbos). Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that if one is thawing the food in order to fulfill the mitzvah of Melavah Malka one may rule leniently (Chazon Ovadia vol. 2 page 447).

5. One should eat bread and meat or some other cooked food for this meal. If it is difficult for a person to eat bread, he should eat cake or some other mezonos food or at least some fruit (Mishnah Berurah 300:1). Where this is not possible, one may fulfill his obligation by drinking a cup of coffee or tea (Siddur Yaavetz).

6. It is proper to cook something specifically for the Melavah Malka and not to merely eat left-overs from Shabbos, but one is not actually obligated to do so (Shaarei Teshuva and Mishnah Berurah).

7. Some have a custom to light candles for this meal and to sing zemiros and piutim (Mishnah Berurah 300:3).

8. The Ari Z”l explains that the Neshama Yiseira (extra soul) that accompanies a person during Shabbos only fully leaves after the Melavah Malka. Therefore, one should eat the meal immediately after Shabbos before becoming preoccupied with other work (Machzik Bracha 300:2).

9. The poskim discuss how late into the night one can still eat the Melavah Malka. (A) Rav Chaim Palag’i (Kaf Hachaim 31:59) rules that one can only fulfill his mitzvah if he eats the meal within the first four hours into the night. After four hours one can not fulfill the mitzah. (B) The Ben Ish Chai (Vayeitzei 2:27) writes that it is preferable to eat the meal within the first four hours of the night. If one is unable to do so one should still eat the meal until chatzos. The Mishnah Berurah also writes that one should make sure that the meal is eaten before chatzos. (C) The Gra was once ill and threw up after eating the Melavah Malka. He felt that since he threw up he needs to re-eat the Melavah Malka. He then asked a student if it was already dawn because if it is not yet dawn he can still eat the meal (Tosefes Maaseh Rav 150). It is therefore clear that the Gra rules that one can still fulfill the mitzvah by eating the meal before dawn. This is also the view of Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Chazon Ovadia Shabbos 2 page 449).

10. There are those who make it a point not to remove their Shabbos garments until after they have eaten Melavah Malka (Radiance of Shabbos 144).

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Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. Many people have the practice to wear two pairs of tefillin each day, Rashi Tefillin and Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin. Rashi and Rabbenu Tam disagree with regard to the sequence of the Scriptural text contained in the parchment of the tefillin. While the accepted view is that of Rashi, some wear the Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin as well (for a full discussion see Shu”t Yabia Omer 1:3. See also a fascinating teshuva in Shu”t Min Hashamayim 3).

2. There is no blessing recited while wearing Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin. Yet, one may still not speak in between placing the tefillin shel yad and the tefillin shel rosh of the Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin (Yabia Omer 3:3).

3. The Shulchan Aruch (34:3) rules that Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin should be worn only by one who is known to be a very pious person. The Mishnah Berurah explains that it is a sign of haughtiness for anyone else to do this because the accepted practice is to wear only Rashi Tefillin. This led to the custom among many ashkenazim not to wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin.

4. Many chassidim and sefardim have the custom to wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin. Some explain that since today many people wear these tefillin, it is no longer considered a sign of haughtiness (see Yalkut Yosef vol. 1 page 46, shu”t Chaim Shaul 1, Birkei Yosef 34, shu”t Minchas Yitzchak 6:7, Yabia Omer 9:108).

In addition, the Teshuva Me’ahava (cited in the sefer Os Chaim V’Shalom 34:9) explains that one does not need to be pious to wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin. He feels that the restriction of the Shulchan Aruch was only for wearing both Rashi Tefillin and Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin at the same time. Wearing Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin after wearing Rashi Tefillin would be permitted according to all authorities.

5. Many have the custom that the chosson begins wearing Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin the morning following his wedding. The Sefer Shulchan Malachim writes that this is the common custom and that “one should not change or deviate from this practice.” The reason given for this is that the average single man is unfortunately prone to inappropriate thoughts. Therefore, they do not wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin so as not to have such thoughts while wearing the tefillin. Married men are not as prone to such thoughts and are permitted to wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin. This is also the view of Harav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l (shu”t Ohr Litzion 2:3:11) and Harav Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam zt”l (Divrei Yetziv Orach Chaim 42).

[Although the aforementioned concern of inappropriate thoughts should apply when any single person wears Rashi Tefillin, we allow them to wear Rashi Tefillin so as to allow them to fulfill the great mitzvah of wearing tefillin each day. However, once they have fulfilled their obligation, they are not allowed to wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin, out of concern of impure thoughts (see Os Chaim V’Shalom 34:10, Shulchan Malachim page 348, shu”t Beis Shearim 29, and shu”t Mishneh Halachos 6:12).]

6. The custom among Chabad, Komarna, Nadvorna, and Breslov Chassidim is to begin wearing Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin at the bar mitzvah (see Netai Gavriel Nisuin vol. 2 page 74 and sefer Shaarey Halacha U’Minhag 29).

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Lechem Mishnah On Shabbos (Assorted Halachos)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. The Torah (Shemot 16:22) records that in the Midbar two portions of Mann fell on Fridays (see Rashi). The Gemara (Shabbos 117b) writes that based on the Pasuk we are obligated to take Lechem Mishneh on Shabbos.

2. Acharonim debate whether this is a biblical or rabbinical obligation. The Magen Avraham (618:10) indicates that it is only a rabbinic obligation, whereas the Taz (see Shar Hatzion 271:11) states that it is a Torah obligation.

3.The Rishonim rule that women are obligated in Lechem Mishneh. Rabbeinu Tam says despite the fact that it is a time bound positive Mitzva, women are obligated to observe Lechem Mishneh because they too were involved with the miracle of the double portion of Mann falling on Fridays. The Ran offers a different reason for the obligation. He believes that the Gemara (Berachot 20b) that teaches that women are obligated to recite Kiddush implies that women are obligated in all matters relating to Shabbos, including Lechem Mishnah (see Yabia Omer 6:28 for a full list of all the opinions. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l does note that Harav Shlomo Kluger zt”l seems to exempt women from Lechem Mishnah, however, as noted the Rishonim disagree with his view). 

4. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (77:17) rules that even somebody who makes Kiddush on cake (as many do on Shabbos morning) must fulfill the mitzvah of Lechem Mishneh, which is achieved by making the berachah on two cakes or crackers.

However, this is not the common custom, and several poskim note that the obligation applies only to bread (see Orchos Chaim 289:5; Da’as Torah 274:1). Shut Minchas Yitzchak (3:13) adds that taking two whole cakes would be considered michzi k’yuharah (a haughty practice), and should not be performed in public (see Minchas Yitzchak for a discussion as to whether yuhara applies to an action done privately).

5.  Harav Betzalel Stern zt”l (shu”t Bitzeil Hachochma 3:110) was asked whether a frozen challah may be added to a fresh challah for lechem mishnah, or is it necessary that both rolls be fresh? Harav Stern says that as long as the roll will thaw and become edible at the end of the  meal one may use it as lechem mishnah. And since practically one may decide to extend the meal as long as one wants, most bread will become edible during the meal and may be used as Lechem Mishnah. This is also the view of Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a (see Shu”t Rivevos Ephraim 2:115).

Similarly, Harav Simcha Bunim Cohen shlit”a (the Radiance of Shabbos page 76) reports that he was told by Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l that one may use frozen challah as Lechem Mishnah. Although, the frozen challah is inedible, since one is able to heat it  up (through permissible methods of course) it can be used as Lechem Mishnah. This is also the view of the Tzitz Eliezer and Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer 8:32). Harav Yosef zt”l does add that it is preferable to borrow a fresh roll of challah.

However, Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa page 196) feels that frozen inedible challah may not be used as Lechem Mishnah. He adds that even if the challah will be able to thaw and become edible during the meal it is possible that we require you to wait until the challah is edible and only then can you use it for Lechem Mishnah.

6. One definitely should remove the lechem mishnah from any plastic bags before reciting the blessing (opinion of Harav Sheinberg zt”l in Radiance of Shabbos page 76). The opinion of Harav Ephraim Greenblatt zt”l in Rivevos Ephraim 1:201 is that if the blessing was recited when it was in the bag you have still fulfilled your obligation.

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Dancing on Shabbos

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. Fixing an instrument on Yom Tov and Shabbos is a biblical violation of the melacha of maka b’patish. The use of instruments on Yom Tov and Shabbos is also forbidden because chazal was concerned that if one of the instruments would break, one might come to fix it.

2, The Mishna in Beitza (36b) rules that it is forbidden to clap one’s hands, bang on one’s thighs, or dance on Yom Tov and Shabbos. Since dancing and clapping were generally done to the accompaniment of musical instruments, these actions were forbidden as well. This law is codified by the Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos 23:5) and the Shulchan Aruch (339:3).
3. Tosafos argues that clapping and dancing should be permitted given that the concern which led to the decree is no longer relevant. He feels that since nowadays very few people are skilled in instrument repair, there is little reason to fear that someone would come to repair an instrument which had broken. The view of Tosafos is cited by the Rama.

However, the poskim do not fully concur with the lenient view of Tosafos, for reasons beyond the scope of this article (see Shu”t Yechave Daas 2:58 and Shu”t Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld 194).

4. The Toras Shabbos (139:2), based on the Yerushalmi, defines dancing as the action when one picks up his first foot, and before it fully returns to the ground, the second foot has already begun to rise. Simply moving around in a circle would be permitted (see also the Agudah on Beitzah and Yechava Daas ibid.). [See also the Aruch Hashulchan and Shu”t Lev Avraham 42 for an additional reason to rule leniently]

5. In many chassidic circles the custom is to permit dancing on Shabbos and Yom Tov. The Minchas Elazer (1:29) explains that dancing and singing is permitted for those who are engrossed in the simcha of Shabbos, since for them it is considered a mitzvah. There are, however, many poskim who have raised issues with the ruling of the Minchas Elazar (Yechava Daas, this is especially so according to the opinions [that we will cite shortly] who forbid dancing even with the chosson during his aufruf , which is a Mitzvah).

6. While the custom among many Chassidic circles is to permit dancing on Shabbos and Yom Tov, the custom for the majority of Jews is to be stringent (see Igros Moshe 2:100).

7. Many poskim prohibit dancing with the chosson during the aufruf. The Mishnah Berurah (339:8) only permits dancing on Simchas Torah where clapping and dancing is a mitzvah, as it is a form of honor for the Torah. However, for any other reason, such as for an aufruf, it would not be permissible. This is also the view of the Shulchan Aruch Harav (339:2) and the Kaf Hachaim (339:13).

8. However, the Chavos Yair (Mekor Chaim 511:1), Rav Chaim Palag’i (Lev Chaim 2:9), Rav Avraham Wahrman Rav of Butchetch (Eishel Avraham 339:3), and Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Shalmei Simcha page 115) all permit dancing during the aufruf.The Chazon Ish is also cited as saying that the custom is rule leniently (Maaseh Haish vol. 5 page 17).

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Praying Towards Jerusalem Or Towards The Aron

Today’s article is dedicated to the memory of Yaakov Chanoch Henech ben R’ Baruch Naftali Hertz a”h.

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. When one is praying shemoneh esrei one should always face the direction of Jerusalem (Brachos 30a and Shulchan Aruch 94).

2. It is for this reason that we always place the Aron Kodesh on the wall that is facing Jerusalem. This way we can face both Jerusalem and the Aron when we are praying (Mishnah Berurah 94:9).

3. The question arises what should one do if he is praying in a shul which (for whatever reason) placed the Aron on a different wall. Should he face Jerusalem or the Aron?

4. The Mishnah Berurah, in his commentary Biur Halacha (150), discusses this very issue and he writes that he is not sure what the hallachic ruling should be.

5. Although in his commentary Biur Halacha he does not offer a definitive ruling, in his commentary Mishnah Berurah (94:9,10) he definitively rules that one should pray in the direction of Jerusalem and not the Aron Kodesh. He writes, “Because one must face Jerusalem when he prays it is customary to place the Aron on the eastern wall. If one cannot place the Aron on the eastern wall he should place it on the southern wall. Care should be taken not to place in on the western wall since this would lead the congregants to pray with their backs to the Aron. Even if the Aron is placed on the southern or western wall one should still pray towards the east, towards Jerusalem.”

6. Harav Shmuel Wosner shlit”a (10:20) writes that one should follow the definitive ruling of the Mishnah Berurah. He adds that this is also logical since the Mishnah and Gemara only mention praying towards Jerusalem. It is only customary to place the Aron on the eastern wall since that is direction of Jerusalem. Therefore, if you cannot accomplish both it would make sense to fulfill the requirement of the Mishnah and face Jerusalem.

7. The Mishnah Berurah adds that if one is praying with a congregation and the congregation is erroneously praying towards the Aron and not Jerusalem he should also pray towards the Aron. He should, however, turn his face slightly towards Jerusalem. The Aruch Hashulchan explains that although the congregation should be praying in the direction of Jerusalem, if they are praying towards the Aron he should follow along. Not because they are correct, but rather if he were to be the only person praying towards Jerusalem then when he bows he will be bowing in a different direction then everyone else and it would appear as if they are praying to two different gods (chas v’shalom).

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Printing Pesukim In Wedding Invitations

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. Many people print pesukim that are related to marriage in the invitations. The poskim point out that one may not discard an invitation if it contains within it pesukim (Shu”t Radvaz 2:45, see also Ain Yitzchak Orach Chaim 5). Therefore, one should not print a posuk or a message from chazal in the invitation because an invitation is generally discarded (Halichos Shlomo chapter 20 note 72 and Sefer Yivakshu Mipihu Shaar 4 Chapter4 ).

2. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:135) opposes printing pesukim in invitations and flyers, as he writes, “For my children’s wedding I refrained from printing any verses in the invitation, not even the phrase Kol Sasson V’Kol Simcha. It would be advisable for others to follow this approach.”
3. Some change the format of the posuk and write it on two different lines. They believe that because it is not read as one verse, its’ status as a verse is removed. Based on this, some poskim, including Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l (Yivakshu Mipihu ibid.) and ybc”l Harav Yisroel Belsky shlit”a (Hallachically Speaking Vol. 3 Issue 12), say that one should write the phrases of Kol Sasson – V’Kol Simcha – Kol Chosson – V’Kol Kallah on different lines. Many poskim maintain that one should not print any pesukim in the invitation even in the aforementioned manner (Hanisuin K’Hilchosom vol. 2 page 485 and Shu”t Ateres Paz Yoreh Deah 3:5).

4. Harav Binyamin Zilber zt”l (Az Nidberu 7:65:2) discusses the permissibility of discarding an invitation that contains the words Od Yeshama B’Arei Yehuda. Harav Zilber rules that we treat it as a verse of the Torah, even though it is taken from two different parts of one posuk (Yirmiyahu 33:10), and one is not allowed to discard it in the trash, unless it is wrapped in a covering beforehand. A similar prohibitive view is expressed by Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l.

5. However, Harav Noach Isaac Oelbaum shlit”a, in a letter addressed to the author, writes that many rule leniently and print invitations that contain the words Od Yeshama etc. and Kol Sasson etc. Since these are not complete verses they are not as sacred and one need not be concerned with throwing them away. He adds that while it is beneficial to be stringent, nevertheless, those who rule leniently are permitted to do so.

6. Harav David Harfenes (Vayivarech David 1:114) maintains that the phrase Naaleh Es Yerushalayim Al Rosh Smchaseinu is not a verse because the verse is actually Aaleh Es etc. and may therefore be printed in any invitation.

7. Rav Moshe Heineman shlit”a, in an article published on the Star – K website, writes that the verse of Od Yeshoma is most often used as a melitza (common expression or figure of speech) and is not written on the invitation as a posuk. For this reason he argues that one may print invitations with the entire posuk. He continues on to say that one who receives such an invitation may throw it away.

8. Harav Betzalel Rudinsky shlit”a writes (Mishkan Betzalel on Nisuin) that for his daughter’s wedding invitation he placed a dot in between each word of the verse (for example, Kol Chosson), which is obviously not the normal way of writing pesukim. This way it is clear that the pesukim are merely being used as a melitza.

9. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt”l feels that printing pesukim in an invitation is not allowed even if it is printed in the shape of a rainbow or circle. A similar view is expressed by Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l.

10. One is permitted to throw away an invitation that contains the acronym bs”d (short for besiyata deshmaya- meaning “with the help of Heaven”). However one may not discard an invitation that contains the acronym b”h (short for baruch Hashem- meaning blessed be G-d, or b’chasdei Hashem- meaning with the grace of G-d). (Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:138)

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Inviting The Departed To A Wedding

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. The poskim tell us that the souls of the departed come to the wedding of their children and grandchildren (see Zohar Pinchas, Shu”t Maharash Engel vol. 7 page 119, Yesod Veshoresh Haovodah Shaar Hakolel 15, and Sefer Minhagim Chabad 75).

2. Many have the custom that if the chosson or kallah have lost one of their parents, the engaged child goes to the cemetery before the wedding to extend an invitation to the parent who is deceased (see Shulchan Haezer vol. 2 page 137 and Shu”t Mishnah Halachos 5:247). Some write that the source for this custom is the Zohar (Minhag Yisroel Torah on Nisuin page 137).
3. It is unclear whether this custom extends to grandparents or other relatives (see Sefer Derech Sicha page 152, Yismach Lev page 55, and Sefer Shaarei Nisuin Miluim 2). The Shulchan Haezer writes that the custom is to invite “the parents and the relatives.” It would seem that he feels that this custom does extend to the grandparents. However, Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l is of the opinion that one need not invite the grandparents who are not alive (Sefer Yivakshu Mipihu page 478).

4. The concept of inviting the departed may be used to explain a very interesting custom amongst Chabad Chassidim. The custom among Chabad Chassidim is that during the kabbalas panim the chosson recites the chassidic sermon called maamer lecha dodi 5689 (Sefer Minhagim Chabad page 75).

The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l explains why this maamer is recited. He writes (Toras Menachem vol. 8 page 218), “At my wedding, before the previous Rebbe started saying the Maamer Lecha Dodi, he said, ‘It is well known that at a wedding souls of the fathers come from the World of Truth, going back three generations – and this applies to all Jews – however, there are occasions (by the weddings of Rabbeim) when even more than three generations of souls are present. The recitation of this maamer actually serves as an invitation for these great souls to come to the wedding. A portion of this maamer is from the Alter Rebbe, a portion from the Mittler Rebbe, a portion from the Tzemach Tzedek, and a part from the son of the Tzemach Tzedek (the Rebbe Maharash) the great grandfather of the kallah. A part from the son of the Tzemach Tzedek (Reb Baruch Sholom) the great grandfather of the chosson, and a part from the Rebbe Rashash, the grandfather of the kallah.’ Certainly in the maamer there was something from the Previous Rebbe himself, although he did not state this explicitly. Since we walk in the ways of the previous Rebbe, it is correct that at every wedding (of those who are connected to the Rebbe) that before the chuppah the chosson or another person should say the maamer lecha dodi. Which as aforementioned has a part from all the Rabbeim, and this will serve as an invitation to the souls of all the Rabbeim to participate in the wedding.”

[Following this reasoning, some wish to say the maamer lecha dodi 5714 which is a maamer of the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l (and also mentions all the other Rabbeim). This way all the Rabbeim, including the most recent Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l, will be invited to the wedding.]

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