The Jerusalem Ban Against Music

1. The Rabbis of Jerusalem, in the second half of the nineteenth century, declared a self-imposed prohibition upon the Jewish community in Jerusalem, (not in the rest of Eretz Yisrael), forbidding the use of instrumental music at weddings, with the exception of drums to keep the beat for the singers.

2. Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt”l (Salmas Chaim 77) writes that the custom was first instated by Rav Meir Auerbach, (author of Imrei Binah, 1815-1877). He writes, “I heard that the Imrei Binah enacted the prohibition, and someone who is not concerned about it and denigrates it will suffer harsh retribution.”

3. The reason for the ban is a bit unclear. The Sefer Beis Chasanim writes that the decree was created during a terrible plague in 1865-1866 that killed many people including some of Yerushalayim’s finest talmidei chachomim. To find out why Hashem was punishing the city, one of the great rabbanim made a sha’alas chalom (a procedure which allows a question to be asked while one is sleeping). In his dream it became revealed that the cause of the plague was due to a lack of respect for the Kosel Hama’aravi. Because of that, Harav Meir Auerbach zt”l and the other elders enacted a decree that no musical instruments should be played at Yerushalayim weddings. Within a few days of enacting the decree the plague ceased. Rav Tuviah Freund shlit”a, in his Sefer Shalmei Simcha (48) says that he asked the ziknei and chachmei Yerushalayim, including Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv zt”l, about why there is no documentation of this event, (the plague itself is well documented, but no one recorded how it ended), and they told him that the main reason for the decree was due to modesty. Due to the novelty of musical instruments in Yerushalayim at the time, women and girls would draw near to get a better view and this sometimes led to mixing of men and women. To put an end to this, Rav Meir forbade music altogether. Although the Maharil Diskin seems to imply that this custom is in remembrance of the churban, Rav Freund explains that this rationale is in addition to the considerations of modesty.

4. The sefardim in Israel never accepted this ban. Therefore the sefardic custom is to allow for music at weddings in Yerushalayim. (See Shalmei Simcha ibid. and Yalkut Yosef Nisuin page 181)

5. It is unclear whether the ban was only instituted in the “Old City” of Yerushalayim, within the old city walls, or whether all of Yerushalayim was included. For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.

עיין בספר שלמי שמחה הנ”ל שהביא מפי השמועה שדעת הגרשז”א זצ”ל והגרי”ש אלישיב זצ”ל לאסור כלי זמר בנישואין גם בירושלים החדשה. אכן כתב לו הגר”א נבנצהל שליט”א שדעת הגרשז”א זצ”ל לפעמים להלק, ולכן יש לשאול שאלת חתם. וכן בספר ישמח לב ס’ רנ”ז הביא מפי השמועה מהגרי”ש אלישיב זצ”ל שלא גזרו אלא על עיר העתיקה אכן שוב הביא שמועה אחרת להיפך, וצ”ע. וע”ע בשו”ת חמדת צבי ס’ נ”ב.

6. The poskim discuss whether the ban was only instituted against live music or whether it included cassettes or cds:

Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt”l was asked whether one may play music using a record player in Yerushalayim. He rules that one may not. It would seem that according to Harav Sonnenfeld zt”l all music, both live and recorded, is banned in Yerushalayim. (See Tzitz Eliezer 15:33) This is also the view of Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l and Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l.

Harav Yehuda Waldenberg zt”l permits recorded acapella music (just vocals). It is unclear, however, whether he also permits all forms of recorded music.

Harav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg zt”l rules that all forms of recorded music are permitted. (Shalmei Simcha ibid.)

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Dancing At A Wedding

1.It is a mitzvah to dance before the chosson and kallah. (Shulchan Aruch 65)

2. The Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 23:6) rules that one must be careful when riding any animal to sit on a saddle. Sitting on an animal without a saddle can cause potential problems in the laws of tznius (modesty). Harav Chaim Palag’i (Ruach Chaim O.C. 669:8) therefore rules that a chosson should not be put on someone’s shoulders at his wedding. The Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 12 page 192) cites the view of Harav Chaim Palag’i as normative halacha. Harav Shmuel Wosner shlit”a (Shevet Halevi 6:103:2, 6:229) also prohibits placing the chosson on someone’s shoulders. Accordingly, the chosson would be lifted up on a chair.

עיין בדרושי חתונה מהאדמו”ר האמצעי מחב”ד דף קמ”ו שכתב: וכל עיקר המצוה להגביה ולנשאות החו”כ בהילוך רוב עם ואנשים חשובים יושבים אצל החתן

There were poskim who did rule leniently and allowed a chosson to be carried on someone’s shoulders. They explain that since the chosson is scared to fall there is no concern of inappropriate thoughts (see Az Nidberu 13:59 and Shalmei Simcha page 319). Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l and Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l feel that while there may be basis to rule leniently, it is preferred to act strictly. The Steipler Gaon zt”l also rules that it is best to be avoided. (see Shalmei Simcha ibid., Machaneh L’Chaim 10:25, and Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 1 page 224)

3. Mixed dancing at weddings is forbidden. As the Aruch Hashulchan writes, “Mixed dancing is one of the gravest sins.” It does not matter whether the men and woman are holding hands when they dance or if they are dancing together without physical contact.

הגאון רבי משה פיינשטין זצ”ל בשו”ת אגרות משה אה”ע ח”ב ס’ י”ג כתב: “הנה בדבר ריקודים בתערובות אנשים ונשים הוא דבר פשוט שאסור אף עצם הדבר, ולהרמב”ם פכ”א מאיב ה”א הוא לאו מדאורייתא שלוקין עליו, לבד איסורים אחרים הבאים מזה שעובד על ונשמרת מכל דבר רע שהוא האיסור על הרהור בנשים כדאיתא בכתובות דף מ”ו, והרבה פעמים גם על איסור הוצאת זרע לבטלה”. כמו כן מצאתי בבן איש חי פרשת שופטים שכתב שאפילו ריקוד נשים לבדן אסור לפני האנשים מחמת שיתגרה היצר הרע באנשים הרואים אותן. וראה בשו”ת מנחת יצחק ח”ה ס’ צ”ט שכתב דהוי אביזריעא דג”ע דבכלל יהרג ועל יעבור, וראה עוד בערוך השלחן ס’ תקכ”ט ס”ק ז’ שכתב דריקודי תערובות הן מעונות הגדולים ועונשים גדול גדול מאוד. וא”צ להאריך בזה. ועיין בספר ילקוט יוסף דף קצ”ה שכתב דחתן שחלק מבני משפחתו חילוניים, וחושש שירקדו ריקודים מעורבים, עליו לצוות לתזמורת שאם יתחילו בריקודים מעורבים יפסיק מיד את התזמורת. וראוי לכל חברי החתן שירקדו ביתר שאת וביתר עוז כדי למנוע ריקודים מעורבים.
הנה ע”פ הנ”ל מבואר שאסור לרקוד עם הנשים אף כשאינו נוגע להן, עוד יש לציין שהריקודין מעורבים אסורים גם משום הפריצות הכרוכות אשר אלו הרוקדים בתערובות אי אפשר להמלט מהן. גם אזכיר שבשו”ת אגרות משה או”ח ח”ד ס’ ל”ה כתוב דלרקוד אף עם פנויות טהורות הוא דבר אסור, וראה שם שא”א להתיר הנ”ל מאיזה טעם שיהיה. וכן עיין בזה בשו”ת שאילת אהרן מהג”ר אהרן פעלדר זצ”ל סימן י’

4. Spouses may not dance with each other at a wedding.

בשו”ת שאילת אהרן הנ”ל כתב, וז”ל: “ועכשיו נדון במה שטוענים אנשים ונשים שהם אינם רוקדים רק עם זווגם בזמן שהם מותרות להיות ביחד, ואף שלכאורה היא טענה יפה, אולם האמת הוא שגם זה אסור לפי הטעמים דלהלן. ראשית דבר, הלא כתוב ברמ”א (אה”ע ס’ כ”א ס”ה) וי”א דאין לנהוג אפילו עם אשתו בדברים של חיבה בפני אחרים, וממילא כ”ש וכ”ש כשמרקדים ומדקדקים בריקודים שעל ידי זה באים המסתכלים להתאוות באשתו ועוברים אף על הלאו של לא תחמוד אשת רעך (שמות כ’, י”ד) שודאי אסור לרקוד בפי אחרים. וע’ ט”ז בתחילת הסימן שם. שנית, כתוב בשו”ת זכרון יוסף (ס’ י”ז המובא בביאור הלכה ס’ של”ט) שנוסף למה שעוברים על דת ודין תורתנו הקדושה גם רעה גמלו לנפשם שעוברים על דת יהודית, וראה שו”ע (אה”ע ס’ קט”ו ס”ד). והנה, עוד מצאתי בשו”ת משנה הלכות (ח”ד ס’ ע”ב) ששאל על הפסוק (ירמי’ ל”א) אז תשמח בתולה במחול ובחורים וזקנים יחדיו, דלמה לא כתב הנביא אז ישמחו איש ואשתו ומסיק דמהאי פסוק נראה דכה”ג אסור לרקוד עם אשתו בפרהסיא, וראה בספר חסידים (ס’ קס”ח). ועוד בו שלישית, לפי מה שכתוב בכל בו (סוף ס’ ס”ו) דשמו חרם למנוע אנשים ונשים מלהיות במחול יחדיו ועיין ספר הצנע לכת (עמ’ 75 אות 87) שמציין כמה ראשונים ואחרונים מדורות שונים שגם כן תקנו חרמים נגד פרצה הזאת. והלום מצאתי בספר טל אמרתי על תורת מנהגי איסור (עמ’ ק”ב) שמצטט דברי הרד”קּ שכתב שהסכימו שלא ירקדו הנשואין עם הנשואות מפני שיש בזה נדנוד עבירה. מכל הנ”ל, פשוט וברור דלכל הפחות אסור לרקוד עם אשתו בפרהסיא, ואולי אף מעשה מגונה זו גם בכלל החרם. סיכום הדברים שלא לבד שאסור לרקוד עם אשה האסורה לו משום הבטה ונגיעה של חיבה ואיסורים אחרים, אלא אף אסור לרקוד עם אשתו בפרהסיא משום הנ”ל, וכן משום שעוברים על דת יהודית

5. Men are not allowed to watch the women dance. It is therefore imperative that a proper mechitzah be set up to obstruct the view of the woman dancing from the men. (Ben Ish Chai Shoftim 18)

6. The poskim rule that a man cannot dress up as a woman and a woman may not dress as a man during the dancing. Cross-dressing is forbidden and doing so at a wedding is no exception. (Mishnah Berurah 696:30)

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Writing Surnames In The Kesubah

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

1. The names of the chosson and kallah are written in the Kesubah. If the names are omitted or written incorrectly, the Kesubah is invalid. (Nisuin K’Hilchosom page 345)

2. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, citing the words of the Sefer Nachlas Shiva, maintained that when writing the names in the Kesubah, one must make sure to use the same level of scrutiny as one would when writing a Divorce document. For if the couple ever gets divorced they might end up using the Kesubah as the blueprint as to how to write and spell the names of the chosson and kallah. (Shalmei Simcha page 267)

3. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe E.H. 178) discusses whether one should add the surnames to the names of the chosson and kallah in the Kesubah. He promotes the addition of surnames. He explains that since it is possible that multiple people in the city have the same name and their parents also have the same name, in order to specify who’s Kesubah it is we add the surnames. He writes that one should write the word “L’Mishpachas” (meaning family) after the father’s name. Thus if the chosson’s name is Moshe Goldman and his father’s name is Chaim, the following should be written: “Moshe Ben Chaim L’Mishpachas Goldman.” If one wrote “Moshe Ben Chaim Goldman”, the Kesubah is still valid.

Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l (Koveitz Beis Hillel 38) agreed with the ruling of Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l and he writes that that was his personal custom. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l would write the surname in parenthesis or brackets (Shalmei Simcha page 269). Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l would write the surname. But he would not write the word “L’Mishpachas.” He would just write the surname following the father’s name. (Yalkut Yosef Nisuin page 78)

4. If the surname was not written, the Kesubah is still valid.

5. If the chosson is a kohen we write: “Moshe Ben Chaim Hakohen L’Mishpachas Goldman.”

6. Some have the custom to only write the surname the first time that the chosson and kallah’s names are mentioned in the Kesubah. Every other time that the chosson and kallah’s names are mentioned, the surnames are omitted. (See Hanisuin K’Hilchosom 11:147)

7. Many, however, have the custom not to write the surname in the Kesubah (see Yismach Lev page 62). Harav Yisroel Belsky shlit”a writes that the common custom is not to write the surnames of the chosson, kallah and witnesses in the Kesubah. And that even Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, who endorsed the writing of surnames in his sefer Igros Moshe, practically did not write them, in order to adhere to the common custom. (Shulchan Halevi 27:14)

8. Those who do not have the custom of using surnames for the chosson and kallah will not do so for the witnesses. The question is according to those who do write the surname for the chosson and kallah, what is the procedure for the witnesses? Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, who was a proponent of adding surnames in the Kesubah, writes that the witnesses should also sign their surnames. However, it is reported that Harav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt”l, who would add the surnames of the chosson and kallah in parenthesis, maintained that one need not do so for the witnesses.

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Foregetting The Torah (Part 5): Drying One’s Hands On His Clothing and Leaving A Sefer Open

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

Please Read Forgetting The Torah (Part 1) before reading this post.

Drying One’s Hands On His Clothing-

1. The Tashbeitz (287) writes that drying one’s hands on his clothing causes one to forget his learning. This opinion is cited by the Magen Avraham (158:13) and Mishnah Berurah (158:45).

2. The Aruch Hashulchan writes that one should not dry his hands on any garment, whether its his shirt or pants.

הפרי מגדים שם מסתפק דאפשר חלוקו ממש הא שאר בגדים לא, או אפשר כל בגדיו במשמע, והו”ד במשנה ברורה. ובערוך השלחן סי”ז כתב בפשטות ולא ינגב ידיו בחלוקו או בבגדו דקשה לשכחה.

Leaving A Sefer Open-

1. The Shach (Yoreh Deah 277) writes that there is an angel who attacks and causes forgetfulness for those who leave seforim open when they leave the room.

2. The Aruch Hashulchan maintains that this is only true if one leaves the room for an extended period of time. However, one may leave the sefer open if he is merely stepping out of the room momentarily (such as to use the bathroom). However, Harav Chaim Palag’i zt”l and Harav Ovadia Hadaya zt”l disagree and rule that one may not step out of the room even for a moment if the sefer is open.

כתב הערוך השלחן שם ס”ב דזה דוקא כשיצא לרחוב אבל הנכנס מחדר לחדר, או אפילו נכנס לרחוב לזמן קצר אין חשש. ובשמירת הגוף והנפש דף רע”ד הביא דכן דעת הגאון בעל שו”ת שואל ומשיב בספרו ידות נדרים.
אכן ראיתי בספר כף החיים מהגאון רבי חיים פלאג’י ס’ כ’ אות י”א שכתב: “ויזהר שלא יניח הס’ פתוח ויצא אפי’ ע”מ לחזור תכף כי גורם לדי שכחה כנודע”. וכן בשו”ת ישכיל עבדי ח”ה יו”ד ס’ נ”ו כתב דאין חילוק בין זמן ארוך לזמן קצר, דפשוט שזה המלאך שממונה ע”ז, משתדל למצאו הזדמנות, למלאת את צפקידו, ותיכף שרואה מי שהוא השאיר ספרו פתוח אפי’ לרגע, מכיון שהוא ממונה על השכחה, הרי מוצא לו הזדמנות זו, להשכיחו תיכף את לימודו ע”ש.

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Forgetting The Torah (Part 4)- Reading Tombstones and Placing Two Articles Of Clothing On At One Time

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

Please Read Forgetting The Torah (Part 1) before reading this post.

 

Reading Tombstones-

1. The Gemara in Horayos 13b state that reading the text of a tombstone causes one to forget his learning. This ruling is cited by the Mishnah Berurah (2:2).

2. Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a (Sefer Hazikaron 2:26) maintains that it is preferable not to read the tombstone in one’s mind, even without verbalizing the words.

3. The authorities cite the Arizal who explained that it is only a concern if the words are protruding from the stone. If, however, the words are engraved one may read them (Nagid U’Mitzvah, Shaar Hamitzvos Veschanan, Mishnas Chassidim day 3, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:13, Kaf Hachaim 2:3).

4. Many have the custom to place stones on graves that they visit. The Beer Heitiv (124:8) explains that the custom of placing stones or tufts of grass on the grave is for the honor of the deceased person by marking the fact that his grave has been visited. The Sefer Yosef Ometz (page 273) cites those that say that placing a stone on a grave removes its ability to cause forgetfulness and that once one places a stone there one may read the tombstone. He is unsure, however, whether there is legitimate sources for this.

Placing Two Articles Of Clothing On At One Time-

1. The Magen Avraham (2:3) writes that one of the activities that causes forgetfulness is placing two articles of clothing on at the same time.

2. Many poskim maintain that one may don two shoes at the same time. Accordingly, one may don shoes with galoshes. (see Kaf Hachaim 2:6, Rivevos Efraim 2:4, 3:6. Aruch Hashulchan 2:6, Shulchan Melachim 3:17, Tzitz Eliezer 7:2. See however Maasef Lchol Machanos 12 for a dissenting view.)

3. According to Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l one may remove two articles of clothing at the same time. The prohibition only extended to donning clothing, not removing them (Halichos Shlomo vol. 1 page 22). However, Harav Yitzchak Eisik Yehuda Yechiel Safrin zt”l of Komarno, known as the Komarno Rebbe, writes that removing two articles of clothing at the same time is also detrimental to one’s memory (Shulchan Hatahor O.C. 2).

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Forgetting The Torah (Part 3)- Walking Between Two Women and Sleeping With Clothes Under One’s Head

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

Please Read Forgetting The Torah (Part 1) before reading this post.

Walking Between Two Women

1. The Gemara in Horayos (13b) writes that a man passing between two women can cause forgetfulness. Similarly, the Gemara in Pesachim (111a) states, “There are three things that should not pass between two men and a man should not pass between two of them. And these are a dog, a palm tree and a woman. And some say, also a pig. And some say, also a snake. And if they do pass in between, what is the remedy? Rav Pappa says that he should recite the verses found in Numbers 23:22-23, which begin with the word “Kel” (Almighty) and concludes with the word “Kel.” Alternatively, he should recite the verse in Numbers 23:19, which begins with the word “Lo” and concludes with the phrase ‘Lo Yekimenah.’”

2. This issue of not walking between two women is cited by the Aruch Hashulchan (2:6). The Chazon Ish (Sefer Hazikaron 2:19, Taameh Dekra 29) and Harav Elyah Lopian zt”l (see Rivevos Efraim 3:525) are both cited as being very diligent not to walk between two women.

3. Rav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld zt”l (Salmas Chaim 503) maintains that there is only a problem if a man travels between two women who are stationary. However, if all three are walking (as is common in busy streets), even if the man is walking in between the women, there is no concern of forgetfulness.

4. The Ben Ish Chai (year 2 Pinchas 17) writes that if two men travel in between two women it is permissible. In addition, the problem only exists if the two women are standing within four amos of each other.

5. Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a (Sefer hazikaron ibid.) posits that one may walk between girls who are under the age of twelve. This is also the view of Harav Nissam Karelitz shlit”a (Chut Shani Even Haezer page 69).

6. The Maharsham (4th edition 4:148) questions whether one is permitted to walk between two non-Jewish women. He concludes that if one wishes to be lenient he should recite the verses described in the Gemara cited above. The Sefe Otzar Hachaim (1034) discusses this issue and he offers a definitive ruling. He writes that one may not pass between two non-Jewish women.

7. The same law applies to one’s relatives. Therefore, one may not walk between his two daughter’s or his daughter and his wife. (Rivevos Efraim ibid. Sefer Shemiras Haguf V’Nefesh page 333)

8. The poskim write that if one needs to walk between two women, or if a woman is walking between two men, one should carry an item in his hand and that negates the issue. If one does not have an item to carry he should grab his peyos. (Rishfei Eish 334)

Sleeping With Clothes Under One’s Head-

1. The Gemara (Horayos 13b) lists sleeping with clothing under one’s head amongst five activities that cause one to forget his learning. This means that one may not substitute clothing for a pillow.

2. The Mishnah Berurah (2:2) rules that if one places something in between the clothing and his head (such as a pillowcase) it is permissible. A similar ruling was expressed by Harav Yaakov Emden zt”l (Sidur Hanhagos Haboker 2). Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a, however, disagrees with this lenient ruling.

3. Harav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld zt”l maintains that if the clothing does not belong to him he may use it as a pillow.

הקשו האחרונים מההיא דתנן בריש תמיד (כ”ה:) לא היו הכהנים ישנים בבגדי קודש אלא היו פושטין ומניחין הבגדי קודש תחת ראשיהן, ע”ש. והרי המניח כליו תחת מראשותיו בא לידי שכחה. ובשו”ת שלמת חיים ח”א סימן י’ תירץ הגאון רבי יוסף חיים זונפלד זצ”ל דדוקא כליו אסור אבל כשלובש בגד של אחר מותר ליתן תחת מראשותיו, ולכן בגדי כהונה שהם קודש ואינם כליו ליכא איסור. ועל חידוש זה דן הגר”ח קניבסקי שליט”א בספר הזכרון, ומסיק ולכן קשה להקל בכל זה. אכן מסיים: “מיהו בבגד חברו שאינו לובשו הוא אפשר שאינו בכלל כליו דלא דמי לכל הני דשם מיירי בלבשו בהם”. ועוד תירץ בשלמת חיים הנ”ל דדוקא ברגיל אסור. אכן הגאון רבי חיים קניבסקי שליט”א העיר דכאן בגמ’ לא הוזכר רגיל כמו שהזכירו גבי זיתים. וגם במהרי”ל הנ”ל מבואר להדיא דגם באקראי יש לחוש. וכן בשו”ת יביע אומר ח”ב יו”ד סימן ח’ חולק עליו ע”ש.

4. One may nap on his sleeve and it is not considered sleeping on clothing (Sefer Hazikaron).

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Forgetting The Torah (Part 2- Olives and Olive Oil)

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

Please Read Forgetting The Torah (Part 1) before reading this post.

1. The Gemara (Horayos 13b) writes that one of the things that causes one to forget his learning is “one who eats olives regularly.” The Gemara later lists five things that restore ones studies. One of them is consuming olive oil. The Gemara adds that this follows the view of Rav Yochanan who said that just as oils cause one to forget seventy years of one’s learning, so too olive oil restores seventy years of one’s learning.

2. The Maharsha uses the above Gemara to explain why out of all of the seven species the only one which is a bi-product (of the fruit or grain) is olives. Olive oil, not olives is one of the seven species. The reason being that olives is a friut that is damaging to one’s memory. While, olive oil is beneficioul to one’s memory. Therefore, it is appropriate that olive oil and not olives are one of the seven species that are listed in the Torah as being special products of the Land of Israel.

אגב עיין במגן אברהם הנ”ל דאין זה אלא בע”ה אבל המאכל בכונה המשכחים את האדם מוסיפין לו זכירה כי הוא מתקן אותה, ע”ש. וכ”כ בנגיד ומצוה (די”ח ע”ב), שיכוין בשמות “קל אלקים מצפץ”, שעולים כמנין זית, ע”ש. אכן שו”מ בשו”ת שלמת חיים ס’ מ”א שנשאל להגאון רבי יוסף חיים זוננפלד זצ”ל בלשון זה: “במג”א ס’ ק”ע ס”ק י”ט בענין דברים המשכחים את האדם כגון זיתים וכו’ אין זה אלא בע”ה אבל האוכלים בכוונה כנודע מוסיפין לו זכירה כי הוא מתקן אותה, ושמעתי לכוין על זיתים כך ק-ל א-לקים י-ק-ו-ק בא”ת ב”ש היינו מ-צ-פ-ץ בגימט’ זית [בגוף השאלה היה כתוב השמות כהויתן ובהפסקת קוים וגם צרוף חשבון העולה במספרים]. מהו אם יש לסמוך ע”ז שלא להקפיד להרגיל את עצמו באכילת זיתים שאמרו ע”ז ובמס’ הוריות דף י”ג כשם שהזית משכח לימוד של ע’ שנה וגו’, אם אין מצוי לו שמן זית”. והשיב הגרי”ח: “תמהתי על שכ’ השמו’ הקדושים וכן לענ”ד לא יעשה ומכ”ש שלא הי’ צריך לכתוב אח”כ החשבון ולענ”ד אינו דרך כבוד ועכ”פ יזהר בדף הזה מאד כי נכתבים בו שמו’ הקדושים לשמרו היטב ולענין הדין אין ראוי להרגיל בזה במה שמפורש בש”ס ומכ”ש עניני שכחה אפשר יש בזה לתה דלאו השמר פן תשכח [עיין לעיל שהבאנו מכמה פוסקים דאין בזה כלל איסור דהשמר פן תשכח את הדברים וכו’ ע”ש] אבל יאכל אותם עם שמן זית ואז מה טוב לכוין”. ובסמוך לזה בסימן מ”ב הוסיף שהמג”א לא העתיק דברי האר”י זצ”ל כ”א לומר שאם רואים אדם שאוכל זיתים שלא להרהר אחריו אבל עדיי’ אני עומד בסברתי שאין ראוי להרגיל בזה וכו'”.

3. The concept of avoiding eating olives regularly is cited by Rabbeinu Bachya (Parshas Vayishlach Vateitzei Dina), Magen Avraham (170:19), Aruch Hashulchan (2:5), Ben Ish Chai (Shana 2 Pinchas 17) and Kaf Hachaim (157:27).

4. Regarding eating olives, when analyzing the Gemara carefully, the Gemara states, “One who eats olives regularly” and not just “One who eats olives.” Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a writes that that the word “regularly” is indeed specific, for if one eats them only sparingly and not regularly, this will not cause one any forgetfulness. The question is what is the definition of “regularly.” He continues to cite the Talmud Brachos 40a (regarding the medicinal value of eating lentils) that if one consumes them once in thirty days that is called regular consumption. Rav Kanievsky shlit”a, therefore, rules regarding olives that if it is as infrequent as once in thirty days then that is not considered regular consumption. He does note in a postscript that the Gemara (Shabbos 110a) implies that “regular” consumption is once every forty days. Which would mean that regarding olives that if it is as infrequent as once in forty days then that is not considered regular consumption.(Sefer Hazikaron 2:11 and in hosafos)

5. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld writes that if one consumes olives with olive oil there is no concern of forgetfulness. This solution is indicated in the Gemara cited above where it states that olive oil is beneficial to one’s memory (Salmas Chaim 41). Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l is cited as ruling that even one drop of oil would suffice to remove any hallachic problems (Halichos Shlomo chapter 2 page 23 in a footnote). However, Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a questions whether adding olive oil to olives suffices to remove the concern of forgetfulness.

6. Harav Yaakov Emden zt”l (Mor Uketzia 170) noticed that even the religious people of his day commonly ate olives and he wonders why they were not concerned about forgetting their learning. He explains, “That the Gemara was referring to one who eats raw olives and makes them the focal point of his meal. However, if the olives are cooked, salted or brined, which are commonly eaten as a snack, one need not be concerned that they will cause forgetfulness.”

It seems that the common custom is to rely upon the view of Harav Yaakov Emden zt”l. However, Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a cites the Meiri who writes that salted olives also cause one to forget his learning.

If you have a question, comment, or an idea for an article please email me at avizakutinsky@gmail.com.