Peeled Eggs, Onions or Garlic Overnight (Part 2)

Overnight Peeled Eggs-

1. Overnight peeled eggs might actually be permitted according to several authorities, as Rashi when explaining the prohibition omits eggs from the criteria. Rashi did not have the word “eggs” in his edition and accordingly eggs that were left overnight would not be prohibited. Harav Yaakov Breisch zt”l (Chelkas Yaakov Y.D. 39) also writes (albeit hesitantly) that Rashi would permit eggs that were left overnight and that this is also the opinion of the Tashbetz. Indeed, the Ben Ish Chai writes that “one should not eat peeled onions and garlic that were left overnight.” He clearly omits eggs from the prohibition. Perhaps he is following the view of Rashi who did not have the word “eggs” in his edition of the Gemara.

2. However, almost all of the later authorities include eggs in the prohibition and therefore one should act stringently.

3. The Darkei Teshuva (116:74) cites the Seforim Yad Meir and Degel Efraim who maintain that only cooked eggs are dangerous. Shelled raw eggs that were left overnight are permitted.

4. The Beis Shlomo (cited by Darkei Teshuva ibid.) and Kaf Hachaim (O.C. 504:1), however, maintain that the prohibition applies only to raw eggs and not to cooked eggs.

[Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:8) notes that the Maharam M’Rutenberg implies that there is danger on cooked eggs.]

Harav Ovadia suggests that according to the view of the Beis Shlomo and Kaf Hachaim dried onion would be permitted since they are dried with heat which provides a minimal cooking as well.

5. The Tzitz Eliezer (18:46) cites both opinions and writes that in essence there is legitimate basis to eat both raw and cooked eggs and that one should not rebuke those who act leniently. He explains that since many poskim feel that this entire prohibition no longer applies (as we explained in Part 1) coupled with the fact that there are authorities who permit cooked eggs and authorities who permit raw eggs, one always has legitimate basis to rule leniently. Contrastingly, Harav Yisroel Belsky shlit”a (Shulchan Halevi page 211) maintains that we should assume that the halacha applies to both cooked and raw eggs.

Food Mixed With Other Ingredients-

6. The Smak (171) writes that the reason why many eat garlic that was left overnight is that “since there is bread mixed with the garlic there poses no danger.” Indeed, many other poskim, including Zivchei Tzedek, Ben Ish Chai and Kaf Hachaim, rule that if the egg etc. is mixed with other ingredients before they are left overnight there is no concern. The Chazon Ish (Shemiras Haguv V’Nefesh page 25) also ruled in accordance with the Smak. Based upon these poskim many eat salads with onions even if the salad was made the day before.

7. The Chazon Ish and Harav Ovadia Hadaya zt”l both permit a fried egg that was left overnight since the egg has oil mixed in with it. (Orchos Rabbeinu page 209 and Yaskil Avdi 7:44. See however Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a in Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 4:186 for a dissenting view.)

8. The Tzitz Eliezer cites the Sefer Mataamim that a way to fix garlic etc. that was left overnight is by adding salt. The Tzitz Eliezer deduces that adding salt would permit the food even if the salt was added the next day (after the food was left overnight). However, the Sefer Beis Shlomo implies that adding other ingredients only suffices if they were added before the night.

9. The Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l rules that one may not use eggs, garlic or onions as the other ingredient in the mixture. Rabbi David Cohen (Daf Hakashrus ibid.) writes, “Rav Belsky also agreed that eggs, onion or garlic could not serve as the ‘other ingredient.’”

10. Most poskim do not write any criteria as to how much of the other ingredient must be added to allow the food. It would seem that any amount would suffice. However, the following poskim offer specific amounts:

Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 3:256) writes that the common custom in Israel is to be lenient if the salt or sugar is at least 2% of the mixture. Rav Moshe Sternbuch himself is only lenient l’chatchila if the color is changed by the mixture.

The Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l, in his Sefer Divrei Yetziv (Y.D. 31:14), maintains that one may only rely on this if the taste is actually changed by adding the salt or sugar.

Rabbi David Cohen (Daf Hakashrus ibid.) writes, “Rav Belsky felt the OU should follow Divrei Yetziv that there must be some threshold at which point the ‘other ingredient’ is insignificant and does not protect the peeled egg, but not with the suggestion that the criteria is nisenas ta’am (affecting the taste). Rather, as long as the other ingredient had some effect on the egg it would be significant enough to not be ‘batel.’ Thus, it would be sufficient if the other ingredient acted as a preservative or balanced the pH (acidity level) in the egg.”

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Peeled Eggs, Onions or Garlic Overnight (Part 1)

The Source-

1. The Gemara (Nidah 17) cites an extremely strong statement by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. He states that one who eats a peeled onion, egg or garlic that has been left sitting out overnight is literally endangering his life, and will be ultimately judged as a person who took his own life.1 The cause of this prohibition is a “ruach ra’ah,” a type of ‘spirit of impurity’ or spiritual contamination that rests upon these three foods when peeled and left overnight.

2. Astoundingly, there is absolutely no mention of this proscription in any of the works of the the Rambam, Rif, Tur, nor Shulchan Aruch. Yet, many later authorities, including the Pri Chadash (Y.D. 116:9), Shulchan Aruch HaRav(Shmeiras Haguf 7), Chida (Birkei Yosef Y.D. 116:10), Ben Ish Chai (Year 2 Pinchas 14), Chofetz Chaim (Likutei Halachos note 9) and Aruch Hashulchan (Y.D. 116:22), all do cite the Gemara’s statement, and consequently rule that eating a peeled egg, onion or garlic that sat overnight is strictly forbidden.

3. The assumption amongst the poskim is that this danger of “ruach ra’ah” is a spiritual danger and not a danger that a doctor would warn against. (see Shevet Halevi 3:169)

4. According to most authorities if the food was left overnight (b’dieved) it must be discarded. (Chida ibid. and Shemiras Haguf V’nefesh 3:6. See also Minchas Yitzchak 9:28)

Does This Halacha Still Apply-

5. The aforementioned poskim (Pri Chadash, Shulchan Aruch Harav etc.) who cite this halacha as normative, clearly feel that this halacha is in full effect today. However some wish to explain that the reason that the Rambam, Tur and Shulchan Aruch do not cite this ruling is because they feel that this ‘ruach ra’ah’ is no longer applicable. (See Shevet Halevi 6:111:5, Pri Hasadeh 2:61, Beis Meir 19, Yaskil Avdi 7:44. See also Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:20)

6. This is not a new debate, but rather one between the rishonim. Maharam M’Rottenberg, cited by the Mordechai (Shabbos Chapter 8), writes, “Regarding your question why we are lenient with peeled eggs and we do not concern ourselves with the “ruach ra’ah” stated in the Gemara. Perhaps the “ruach ra’ah” is no longer applicable.” [Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:7) explains that although the Maharam prefaced his heter with the word “perhaps”, one should not misconstrue this for uncertainty on his part. Rather, this is a terminology that many poskim use out of modesty.]

It seems that this is also the view of the Maharshal (Chullin Yam Shel Shlomo 8:12). The Maharshal discusses different concepts found in the Gemara dealing with medicinal issues and whether they still apply today. In his discussion he writes, “Many times the Gemara will warn against a certain action because of ‘ruach ra’ah’, however, none of these concerns still apply today.” Indeed, the Sefer Zivchei Tzedek (vol.2 116:61) explains that the reason why many are lenient regarding these halachos (onions, eggs or garlic) is because they are relying on the view of the Maharshal that “ruach ra’ah” no longer applies. Harav Yitzchak Weiss zt”l (Minchas Yitzchak 2:68:13 and 6:64) also writes that although one should be machmir, those who wish to rule leniently have legitimate basis to do so.

[In the May 2005 edition of The Daf Hakashrus (“A Monthly Newsletter For The Orthodox Union Rabbinic Field Representative”), Rabbi David Cohen discusses this issue and he writes, “Rav Belsky ruled that we should follow this second (stricter) opinion, while Rav Schachter is of the opinion that in the United States it is generally accepted to follow the first (lenient) opinion. Nonetheless, Rabbi Schachter agrees that we should not allow OU certified caterers or restaurants to leave peeled eggs etc. overnight since undoubtedly there will be customers who are machmir and we must serve them as well.”]

However, it should be noted that the prohibition is mentioned by several other Rishonim including Tosafos (Shabbos 141 and Beitzah 14), Rosh (Beitzah 14), the Sma”k (171), and Trumas HaDeshen (cited in Leket Yosher Y.D. page 6). They obviously feel that the concern of “ruach ra’ah” still applies today. And as noted above most later authorities also cite this Gemara as normative halacha. This seems to be the common custom and should be strictly adhered to. The poskim do, however, take the lenient view into consideration and allow for some leniency in certain questionable situations, as we shall discuss later on in this chapter.

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Fish and Meat (Part 4)

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

Fish and Dairy-

1. Harav Yosef Karo zt”l in the Beis Yosef (Yoreh Deah 87), the Shulchan Aruch’s commentary on the Tur, writes that “one should not eat fish and milk together because of the danger involved, as it is explained in O.C. 173.”

2. However, many authorities, including the Rama, Prisha, Taz, Shach, Magen Avraham and Aruch Hashulchan point out that the location the Beis Yosef referenced for his halachic decision to be machmir is referring to eating fish with meat, not milk. They therefore maintain that this issue is a case of mistaken identity (misprint) and that eating fish with milk is 100% permissible. The Chida (Machzik Bracha 87:4) also feels that it is permissible to eat fish and dairy together and that there is a misprint in the Beis Yosef. He adds that if it is indeed true that fish and dairy is dangerous, Harav Yosef Karo should have written so in his Shulchan Aruch.

3. It is worth noting that although many assume that there was a misprint in the Beis Yosef, the notion of avoiding fish and dairy due to danger was already advanced hundreds of years earlier by Rabbeinu Bachya (Shemos 23:19). Rabbeinu Bachya writes, “The doctors feel that fish and cheese that are cooked together can cause bad health and tza’raas.

4. Indeed, there were authorities who were stringent and did not allow for fish to be eaten with dairy. They explain that they also heard from doctors that fish and dairy can be harmful to one’s health (see Darkei Teshuva 87:43 and Yechava Daas 6:48).

5. Other authorities, including the Chinuch Beis Yehuda, Pri Megadim (see Pischei Teshuva Y.D. 87) and Kaf Hachaim (87:24), differentiate between fish and milk (or cheese) which they believe to be harmful and fish and butter (or cream) which is not damaging to one’s health. The Ben Ish Chai (Year 2 Bahaloscha 15) cites these authorities and writes that one should be stringent with all forms of dairy and that in Baghdad the common custom is to refrain from even eating fish and butter.

6. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l discusses this issue at length and concludes that, “One should refrain from eating fish and milk or cheese due to the potential danger involved. However, those that are lenient to eat fish and butter together are permitted to continue in their approach. Ashkenazi Jews dismiss this issue entirely and eat fish with all forms of dairy and they have what to rely on.” It is based upon the ruling of Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l and the Ben Ish Chai that many Sefardim avoid eating fish and dairy together (some will eat fish and butter, as cited above). However, as noted most Ashkenazic communities dismiss this issue entirely.

Drinking Water After Fish-

1. The Rama (Y.D. 115:3) writes that in between eating fish and meat one should eat and drink something.

2. Tosafos (Moed Katan 11a) writes that in his day it was considered dangerous (to one’s heart) to drink water immediately after eating fish. This teaching is cited by many authorities, including Rav Akiva Eiger zt”l (Y.D. 116:5) and the Aruch Hashulchan.(116:10)

3. According to Harav Nissam Karelitz shlit”a (Chut Shani Shabbos vol. 4 page 399) tea, coffee, soda and cola have the same status as water.

4. Harav Nissam Karelitz shlit”a writes that today one may rule leniently. He explains that Tosafos never meant to imply that this is a rabbinic prohibition, rather the doctors of his time felt that it was harmful to drink water after eating fish. Therefore, today where the doctors feel that it is no longer harmful one may rule leniently. Harav Karelitz shlit”a continues that some are stringent however, and avoid drinking water after eating fish.

5. On Shabbos, following the fish course, those who are stringent face an interesting dilemma. As noted above (halacha 1) in between fish and meat one should drink something. However, according to Tosafos one should not drink water (or soda etc.) after fish. Therefore, writes Harav Karelitz shlit”a many have the custom to drink wine or whiskey in between the fish and chicken soup courses.

6. Harav Chaim Elazar Shapiro zt”l of Munkatsh (the author of the Minchas Elazar) added another reason why many drink whiskey immediately following the fish course on Friday night. The word whiskey in Hebrew is “yayin saraf.” The first two letters being “yud” and “shin.” The first letter of the hebrew word for fish is “daled” (“dagim”). All three letters together spell out the name of Hashem “Shakay.” In order not to separate the name of Hashem one should drink the whiskey immediately after the fish (Darkei Chayim V’Shalom 396).

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Fish and Meat (Part 3)

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

Cooking Fish In A Meat Pot-

1. The Torah requires us to use separate utensils for meat and milk because we assume that the taste of the food becomes absorbed in the utensil and would then impart taste into future foods cooked in the pot. The poskim discuss whether one muse have separate pots for fish and meat.

2. The Tur (Yoreh Deah 116:2) writes the following, “One must be careful not to eat fish and meat together as it may cause tza’raas. Some are stringent to have separate utensils for fish.” The Sefer Shulchan Chai (1:7) also writes that one should have separate pots for fish and meat. The policy of the Star-K is also not to allow its caterers to cook fish in a meat pot (based upon an article from the Star-K website).

3. However, most poskim are not convinced that we must concern ourselves with the infusion of taste into the utensils and they allow for fish to be cooked in a clean meat pot. Indeed, this is the view of the Issur V’Heter, Maharshal, Taz, Knesses Hagedolah, Chochmas Adam, Edus B’Yehusef and Kaf Hachaim (see Yoreh Deah 116:20). The Chasam Sofer also writes that the common custom is to eat fish on meat utensils and that many great leaders also maintained that one need not have a separate set of pots for fish.

4. The Sefer Dalsei Teshuva (cited by Darkei Teshuva 27) writes that most people commonly cook fish in clean meat pots. He adds that if onions or garlic (or any other sharp foods) are being cooked with the fish, one should not cook them in the meat pot. He basis this on the fact that generally, in the laws of kashrus, sharp foods are treated more stringently. According to this opinion one should not slice an onion with a meat knife and cook those onions with fish.

However, others are lenient and permit one to slice a sharp food with a meat knife and cook it with fish. For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted. (see Shemiras Haguf V’Hanefesh page 8)

5. If the fish and meat were cooked in the same pot simultaneously, the Pischei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 116:3) cites Tiferet L’Moshe that the utensil must be kashered. He reasons that while mere infusion of taste is not strong enough to create a prohibition, if fish and meat were cooked together there is “poison” in the walls of the pot that needs to be removed.

6. The Divrei Malkiel (cited by Darkei Teshuva 28), however, disagrees and feels that one need not kasher the pot. Rather, one may just wait twenty four hours and continue to use the pot without concern. The Kaf Hachaim (Yoreh Deah 116:13) rules in accordance with the Divrei Malkiel.

7. Harav Shmuel Wosner shlit”a (Shevet Halevi 6:111) cites the above argument and concludes, “We commonly rule in accordance with the Pischei Teshuva and require for the pots to be kashered. The Sefer Mishmeres Shalom does, however, rules leniently if the pot is made of earthenware or porcelain (which cannot become kashered).”

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Fish And Meat (Part 2)

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

Does This Prohibition Still Apply Today-
1. The Magen Avraham (173) writes that there are many natural phenomena mentioned in the gemara that no longer apply today. The health concern of eating meat and fish is simply another example of something that used to be a real concern, but is no longer an issue. The teaching of the Magen Avraham is cited without comment by the Mishnah Berurah and the Aruch Hashulchan.
2. The Chasam Sofer (Y.D. 101) noted that the Rambam omits the concern of fish and meat entirely from his Mishnah Torah. The Chasam Sofer suggests that the Rambam knew that nature has changed and although there once was a legitimate health threat posed by mixing fish and meat, no such threat exists today. (It is important to note that the Chasam Sofer does not recommend that we rely on the Rambam’s opinion in this area.)

וכדאי לציין למה שראיתי בשו”ת מהרש”ם ח”ד ס’ קכ”ד וז”ל: “בדגים עם בשר שהמג”א צידד דליכא בזה”ז סכנה וגם אמרתי לרו”מ בשם ס’ הקנה דאחר אלף החמישי בטלה הסכנה אבל לא ראיתיו בעצמי רק ח”א אמר לי כן

3. The vast majority of poskim disagree and the basic halachah forbids eating meat and fish together. This is surely the universal custom and should be strictly adhered to. (The poskim do, however, take the Magen Avraham’s view into consideration and allow for some leniency in certain questionable situations, as we shall discuss later on in this chapter.)

Bitul B’shishim With Fish and Meat-
4. In general if an ounce of non kosher food becomes absorbed in sixty ounces of kosher food we assume that the entire mixture is kosher. We require sixty times the forbidden food to nullify it because the taste of the forbidden food is not discernible when mixed with sixty times its volume.
5. Although halachically forbidden foods may be nullified in sixty times their volume, the poskim dispute whether this principle applies to nullifying dangerous foods. The Taz (116:2), citing the Rama, rules that dangerous foods cannot become nullified in sixty times their volume. His ruling is based on the Talmudic dictum “chamira sakanta m’issura.” This means that something that involves a severe health risk is considered more stringent than regular prohibitions. In a case of a severe health risk, halachically there is no nullification, as halacha is extremely cautious when it comes to people’s health.

The Leket Yosher (Y.D. page 7) writes that his rebbi, the author of the Terumos Hadeshen, and the Maharam Mintz also ruled that dangerous foods do not become nullified in sixty times their volume.
6. However, most authorities maintain that even dangerous foods are nullified in sixty times their volume. The Shach argues that chamira sakanta m’issura is a principle that is limited to a case of doubt, but would not extend to the laws of bittul. Indeed, Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 1:7) uses his encyclopedic knowledge of halacha to list all the authorities who rule leniently and he does so as well.
7. One very common practical application of the above dispute is the issue of Worcestershire sauce which is always made with fish. Many people enjoy eating their Worcestershire sauce together with meat. Some brands of Worcestershire sauce have sixty times the volume of other ingredients than fish, while others have a higher concentration of fish. The policy of the Orthodox Union Kashrut Division is to label any sauce that contains more than 1.67% fish with an OU Fish to indicate that it should not be eaten with meat. If, however, the sauce is composed of less than 1.67% fish they will not label it as containing fish indicating that it may be eaten with meat even though there is some fish in the ingredients. Harav Herschel Schacter shlit”a explains that the logic for this policy is that the Orthodox Union relies on the opinion of the Shach that foods prohibited on account of danger may be nullified. In addition, they take the Magen Avraham’s view (cited above) into consideration, that the danger of fish and meat no longer applies.

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Fish and Meat in Halacha (Part 1)

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

1. The gemara (Pesachim 76b) states that fish that is cooked with meat may not be eaten because it is likely to lead to “davar acher.” Rashi (ibid.) understands “davar acher” to be a reference to tzara’as. The Shulchan Aruch (173) also rules that one must be careful not to eat fish and meat together because it may cause tzara’as.
2. Most authorities, including the Magen Avraham, understand the Gemara to mean that combining fish and meat can cause a physical sickness. When the Gemara says that it can lead to tzara’as, it means that the person will become physically ill. It is for this reason that the Magen Avraham writes that perhaps one may be lenient with fish and meat since the doctors today feel that there is no longer a medical concern (this will be discussed in part 2). However, there is a minority view that feels that the Gemara was referring to a “spiritual” sickness and not a physical ailment (see Tiferes Tzvi Y.D. 91 and Toras Chesed E.H. 5:5).

3. Rav Yehuda Ayas zt”l (Beis Yehuda 26) seems to feel that the prohibition of eating fish and meat together is biblical in nature. Similarly, the Shu”t Avnei Tzedek (Y.D. 49) writes that one who endangers himself by eating fish and meat together transgresses the positive commandment of “Venishmartem Meod Lenafshoseichem” and the negative commandment of “Lo Sasim Damim B’Veisecha.” The Pri Megadim (Sifsei Daas 97:3) also writes that if there is a doubt whether fish fell into a meat dish one must be stringent and discard the dish. He explains that since the prohibition of eating meat and fish together is biblical in nature one must be stringent in case of doubt (safek d’oraysa l’chumra).

4. However, other authorities, including Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook zt”l (Daas Kohen 55) and Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 8), rule that it is only rabbinically prohibited to eat fish and meat together.

5. This debate is, most likely, closely related to a broader debate amongst the poskim as to whether a person violates a biblical prohibition when he places himself in harms way or is it merely rabbinic in nature. This debate centers around a few seemingly contradictory rulings of the Rambam in Hilchos Rotzeach. The Rambam (Chapter 11:4) writes, “Similarly, it is a positive mitzvah to remove any obstacle that could pose a danger to life, and to be very careful regarding these matters, as Deuteronomy 4:9 states: ‘Beware for yourself; and guard your soul.’ If a person leaves a dangerous obstacle and does not remove it, he negates the observance of a positive commandment, and violates the negative commandment: ‘Do not cause blood to be spilled.’” The Rambam is quite clear that it is biblically prohibited to endanger oneself.

However, the Rambam continues (Chapter 11:5-6), “Our Sages forbade many matters because they involve a threat to life. Whenever a person transgresses these guidelines, saying, ‘I will risk my life, what does this matter to others,’ or ‘I am not careful about these things,’ he should be punished by makos merdus. They include: A person should not place his mouth over a conduit through which water flows and drink. Nor should he drink at night from rivers and lakes, lest he swallow a leech without seeing. Similarly, a person should not drink water that was left uncovered, lest a snake or other poisonous crawling animal might have drunk from them, and as a result, the person would die.” This teaching of the Rambam implies that our Sages forbade placing oneself in danger and it is not biblical in nature. Indeed the Beer Hagolah (end of Choshen Mishpat 70) questions whether the prohibition is biblical or rabbinic in nature.

6. The Sefer Tevuos Shor (Y.D. 13:2) writes that it is assur m’doraysa to enter a dangerous situation. This is also the view of the Sma, Levush (see Darkei Teshuva 115:57), Aruch Hashulchan, Marcheshes (20) and Minchas Chinuch (556).

The Sdei Chemed also cites authorities who maintain that according to the Rambam it is biblically forbidden to endanger oneself. They explain that although the Rambam writes that the “Sages” forbade these actions, he does not mean to say that it is forbidden on a rabbinic level. There are many times where the Rambam uses this terminology regarding biblical laws. His intention is that the “Sages” explained what the true definition of the verse is. In this case the meaning is that all dangerous actions are biblically forbidden. It is the Sages who define what is considered dangerous. Once they classify an action as dangerous it is considered forbidden on a biblical level. This is also the view of the Chasam Sofer (Y.D. 101).

7. The Sefer Shiva Einayim (cited by Darkei Teshuva ibid.) writes that it is only assur m’drabbanun to enter a dangerous situation. The verse cited above by the Rambam “Beware for yourself; and guard your soul” is not actually referring to guarding the physical body, rather it is requiring a Jew to protect his Torah knowledge and not to forget his learning. The Sages extended a rabbinic prohibition to protecting the physical body from danger (as the verse continues “Beware and watch yourself very well, lest you forget the things that your eyes saw”). Therefore, when the Rambam cites the verse as a source for the prohibition his intent is really that it is a rabbinic prohibition which merely finds a hint (asmachta) for it’s source in Torah.

8. The Sefer Maases Hamelech (on Rambam) also discusses the seemingly contradictory rulings of the Rambam. He explains that it is biblically prohibited to place oneself in danger and this is what the Rambam was referring to in his first ruling. However, the Sages forbade certain actions as a safeguard for one’s health even though it is unlikely that they will actually lead to mortal danger. The Sefer Divrei Malkiel also maintains that performing acts of which the Gemara warns against as being dangerous is only rabbinically forbidden.

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Reciting A Blessing Upon Seeing A Torah Scholar

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

1. The Gemara (Brachos 58) says that upon seeing a Torah scholar one recites the blessing “Shecholak Mechochmaso Lireav” (Blessed are You…who apportioned of His wisdom to those who fear Him). This teaching was also codified by the Shulchan Aruch (224:6).

2. None of the commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch indicate that this blessing is no longer relevant and therefore, it would seem that this blessing should be recited today (see Az Nidberu 11:4).

3. The Chayei Adam (63:5) also rules that the blessing is recited, even today. He proves this from a ruling of the Tur. The Tur cites the Gemara that there is a different blessing to be recited upon an exceedingly great Torah Scholar, the blessing of “Chacham Harazim.” The Tur writes that this blessing is not said anymore since there is no longer a scholar of such caliber to warrant such a blessing. Since the Tur only made such a statement regarding the blessing of “Chacham Harazim” and not regarding the blessing of “Shecholok”, one can deduce that the blessing of “Shecholok” is in fact said today. A similar line of reasoning was advanced by Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yechava Daas 4:16).
4. The Sefer Yosef Ometz (450), however, writes the following, “I have omitted the laws of reciting a blessing upon seeing a Torah scholar since there are very scarce Torah scholars today (that would warrant such a blessing). If one wishes to recite the blessing without reciting the name of Hashem one may do so.” (see also Chesed Lalafim Orach Chaim 224:12)

5. The Aruch Hashulchan (224:6) says that it is unclear as to what level of a Torah scholar one must be to warrant this blessing and therefore many do not recite this blessing anymore. The Ben Ish Chai (Ekev 13) also rules that one should only recite the blessing without the use of Hashem’s name. This was also the view of Harav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt”l (Tzitz Eliezer 14:36:3).

6. It should be noted that Rabbi Yitzchak Eisik Yehuda Yechiel Safrin zt”l of Komarno, known as the Komarno Rebbe, writes that the scholar must also be proficient in Kabbalah to warrant such a blessing (Shulchan Hatahor 224:3).


7. The poskim offer some examples of different Gedolim upon whom the blessings were recited:

The author was present when a prominent New York Sefardic Rav recited the blessing upon seeing Harav Yitzchak Yosef shlit”a.

Harav Ephraim Greenblatt zt”l (Rivevos Ephraim 8:128) writes that one should recite the blessing upon seeing Harav Elazar Menachem Mann Shach zt”l, Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l, and (ybc”l) Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a.

Harav Shmuel Wosner shlit”a (Shevet Halevi 10:13) writes that he recalls that when the Rogachover Gaon zt”l visited Vienna many recited the blessing upon seeing him.

The Minchas Elazar of Munkatch (5:7) also writes that he remembers the blessing being recited upon seeing Torah scholars (though he does not mention which Rabbi’s specifically).

It is also reported that the Chazon Ish was in favor of others reciting the blessing upon seeing the Steipler Gaon zt”l (Orchos Rabbeinu 1:109).
The Steipler Gaon zt”l told the author of the Sefer Orchos Rabbeinu (ibid, 110) that he recited this blessing upon seeing the Chofetz Chaim zt”l and Harav Meir Simcha zt”l of Dvinsk.

Harav Yisroel Taplin shlit”a (Orach Yosrael page 255) writes that he heard from Harav Yaakov Kamanetzky zt”l that Harav Baruch Ber Lebowitz zt”l recited the blessing upon meeting Harav Dovid Karliner zt”l and that Harav Dovid responded “Amen” to the blessing. Harav Yaakov zt”l also ruled that one should say this blessing upon seeing Harav Ahron Kotler zt”l.
Harav Taplin adds that he heard in the name of Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l that today if one sees a Torah scholar who is proficient in all of Shas one may recite upon this scholar the blessing of “Shecholok.”

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The obligation for a man to wear a yarmulka

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

[The following is a translation from the authors hebrew work Umekareiv Biyamin.]

1. The source for the requirement for a man to cover his head can be found in the Gemara Kiddushin (31a). The Gemara says that Rav Huna (the son of Rav Yehoshua) would not walk four Amos with his head uncovered, because the Divine Presence is above. Similarly, the Gemara in Shabbos (118 b) relates that Rav Huna said, “I will receive (reward- Rashi) for not going four Amos with my head exposed.”

2. Many authorities, including the Tashbetz (559), Bach (O.C. 2), Gra (O.C. 8), Chida (Birkei Yosef O.C. 2), and Maharshal (72), deduce from the above Gemara that one is not obligated to wear a yarmulka, rather it is a Minhag (custom). For if it were an obligation why would Rav Huna expect to receive reward for fulfilling his obligation. Rather, it is not obligatory and Rav Huna was going above and beyond the letter of the law. It is for this reason that Rav Huna expected reward for his actions.
3. It is unclear as to the view of Harav Yosef Karo zt”l regarding whether the head covering is obligatory or customary. In Beis Yosef (O.C. 91) he cites the view of the Tashbetz that it is customary. While in Beis Yosef (O.C. 8) seems to explicitly imply that one is forbidden to walk without a head covering. What’s more, in his Shulchan Aruch, Harav Karo zt”l writes, “It is forbidden to walk in an erect posture. And a man should not walk four Amos with an uncovered head.” The Magen Avraham points out that from the fact that the Shulchan Aruch uses the term “forbidden” regarding walking with an erect posture and not walking without a head covering, it seems that the Shulchan Aruch feels that it is not obligatory. The Chida noticed the discrepancies and cites the Ben Ish Chai that any time one finds a contradiction between the Beis Yosef and Shulchan Aruch we follow the Shulchan Aruch.
The Chida summarizes his view with the following statement, “It is clear from the words of the Gemara and the poskim that it is not forbidden (to walk without a head covering), rather, it is a Midas Chassidus (pious conduct) or praiseworthy to cover one’s head. I, therefore, do not understand the view of Rav Yehuda Ayas zt”l who maintained that it is forbidden to travel without a head covering. Since according to the Gemara and poskim it seems that it is merely customary etc.” (Machazik Bracha O.C. 2)

4. However, the Taz (8:2) suggests that although a headcovering was originally an act of piety, it gained the status of Torah Law, due to the custom of non-Jews to remove their caps as a sign of honor. Since the Torah prohibits Jews from “going in the ways of non-Jews,” one who does not cover his head would therefore be in transgression of a negative Commandment of the Torah. However, Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe O.C. 4:2) questioned this stringent view. He explains that not every action that non-Jews perform is forbidden. It is only forbidden if they do something for religious purposes, promiscuity reasons, or an action that has no clear reason. If they, however, perform an act for valid reasons a Jew is also allowed to act accordingly. For example, a non-Jewish doctor wears “scrubs” to indicate to others that he is a doctor and in case of need he may help. Since there is a rationale for wearing “scrubs” a Jewish doctor may likewise wear “scrubs.” Therefore, argues Harav Feinstein zt”l there is a clear rationale for the actions of non-Jews. They are not covering their head for comfort reasons. It is also not a religious act since many non religious non-Jews do not cover their hair as well. Therefore the view of the Taz is no longer applicable.

[Rav Moshe (Igros Moshe 4:40:14) does admit that there is one case where the view of the Taz still applies, and that is praying without a head covering. Because the non-Jews  remove their head covering when praying, one may not pray without a head covering.]

5. It must be noted that although most authorities feel that one is not obligated to wear a yarmulka, it has become a widespread custom amongst Klal Yisroel and one must always adhere to this custom. The Baal Hatanya (2:6) added that since it is customary for a man to cover his head if he fails to do so it is a lack of Tzniyus (which requires us to cover all body parts that are customarily covered). Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer 9:1) noted that wearing a yarmulka nowadays serves as a symbol of one’s affiliation with the observant Jewish community and failing to do so would lead others to believe that he is non-observant. And the halacha of Maris Ayin tells us that we are not allowed to portray ourselves as less observant than we actually are.

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Leaving The Wedding Before The Sheva Brachos

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)
1. After birchas hamazon is recited at a wedding, the sheva brachos are recited. Harav Yitzchak Weiss zt”l (Minchas Yitzchak 2:43) writes that one may leave a wedding before the sheva brachos. He explains that the obligation to recite sheva brachos only applies to those present at the end of the meal and is not an intrinsic obligation to all that participated in the meal. If one were not allowed to leave before the sheva brachos the Gemara would have said so, the same way that the Gemara states that one is not allowed to leave a meal early before taking part of the zimun.

2. Harav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt”l (Tzitz Eliezer 11:84) proves that this was originally advanced by Harav Shlomo Kluger zt”l. Harav Waldenberg zt”l then concurs with the view of Harav Weiss zt”l and rules that one is allowed to leave a wedding early after reciting birchas hamazon with the proper zimun.

Harav Nosson Gestetner zt”l (Lehoros Nason 11:111) likewise rules that one may leave a wedding early before the Sheva Brachos. He explains that while the obligation to recite the Sheva Brachos belongs to the entire wedding group, each individual does not need to be part of it. All one needs to do is make sure that there are ten men left at the end of the wedding to recite the blessings.

3. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe O.C. 1:56) disagrees with the aforementioned poskim. He feels that everyone who eats at the wedding meal is required to recite (or hear) the sheva brachos. He sources this in the words of the Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 62:11) who rules that if many wedding groups split up and eat in different rooms, each group, even the ones without the chosson, is required to recite sheva brachos. This seems to indicate that the obligation to recite sheva brachos belongs to everyone who ate bread at the meal (see also Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 1:742 and Shaarei Halacha U’Minhag Lubavitch E.H. page 125).

Accordingly, one may not leave before the sheva brachos, even if he recites the birchas hamazon with the proper zimun. The Sefer Even Yisroel (8:82) proceeds to prove this point from the words of the rishonim. The Avudraham states that the obligation to recite the sheva brachos and the obligation to recite birchas hamazon are “one in the same and begins when one begins eating bread.” This leads the Even Yisroel to the same conclusion as Harav Moshe, that one may not leave the wedding before hearing the sheva brachos (see also shu”t Vayivarech David on Nisuin 89-90).

4. Harav Moshe understands that this is a very difficult obligation to fulfill, as many people cannot stay until the very end of the wedding. Harav Moshe offers a simple solution. At the beginning of the meal one should have specific intent that he does not want to be a part of the wedding meal. By having in mind that he does not want to be included in everyone else’s meal, but is rather eating alone, he will not be required to hear the sheva brachos or recite the zimun. Through this stipulation he has removed himself from the larger wedding meal and may leave whenever he wishes.

Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l would also endorse the solution of Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a likewise rules that if one must leave a wedding early he should stipulate before he eats that he does not intend to be included in the larger wedding meal (see Sefer Yismach Lev vol. 4 page 209-210).

5. It is reported that Harav Yaakov Kamanetzky zt”l also feels that the obligation belongs to everyone who ate bread at the wedding. Unlike Rav Moshe, however, he maintains that a stipulation would not help. Therefore, if one knows he cannot stay the whole time, he must make sure not to wash on bread or eat enough cake that would require him to recite birchas hamazon (Emes L’Yaakov on Shulchan Aruch E.H. 62).

6. Harav Pesach Feinhandler, in his Sefer Avnei Yashfei (3:20), notes that if one follows the approach of Harav Moshe and stipulates before the meal that he does not wish to be part of the wedding meal, he is not only exempt from the zimun, but may not be included in the zimun. However, it seems that the Rav of Debreczin (Beer Moshe 3:32) did not concur with this ruling.

7. The Sefer Hanisuin K’Hilchosom (page 521) cites the previous argument and adds that, “If the guest is not required to recite birchas hamazon, such as he only ate fruit and drinks, he may leave without hearing sheva brachos according to all authorities.”

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

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

Reciting Modeh Ani In The Morning

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

1. “One should strengthen himself like a lion to get up in the morning to serve his Creator.” These are the opening words of the Shulchan Aruch, the standard code of Jewish law. A Jew should not be lazy, but rather excited to start a new day in which he can serve Hashem.
2. One should not allow himself to be persuaded by his inclination which tells him that he did not get enough sleep. The Shulchan Aruch writes that, “He should contemplate how if he were to lie in the presence of a king of flesh and blood it would be considered a capital offense and even more so here that he is lying before the King of all Kings.” He should then contemplate that due to this he should therefore immediately and speedily come out of bed to serve his lofty creator.

3. Hashem takes our soul each night while we sleep and graciously returns it the next morning (see Brachos 57a). When we wake up in the morning, we must immediately recognize and thank Hashem for the gift of life. Therefore, while still in bed, we recite the prayer “modeh ani l’fanecha Melech Chai V’Kayam shehechezarta bi nishmasi bichemla rabba emunasecha” (“I gratefully thank You, O living and eternal King, for You have returned my soul within me, with compassion. Abundant is your faithfulness”). (Mishnah Berurah 1:5. see also Igros Kodesh from the Admur of Lubavitch zt”l vol. 10 page 23)
4. Since the modeh ani prayer does not contain Hashem’s name, one is permitted to recite it before washing his hands in the morning (netilas yadaim). (Mishnah Berurah, see however Yaavetz for a dissenting view. See also Maasef Lchol Machanos 1:23)
5. Harav Aryeh Tzvi Frumer zt”l (Eretz Tzvi 1:52) questions whether one may recite the prayer in the vicinity of excrement or urine. We permit one to recite modeh ani when his hands are unclean (before netilas yadaim), but perhaps we do not permit it when the area is unclean. He concludes that it is permitted to recite modeh ani in an unclean environment.

Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a also rules that it is permitted to recite modeh ani in an unclean area (Gam Ani Odecha 2:33). However, the Minchas Aharon (1:5) writes that if one is within four amos of excrement or a bedpan he should not recite modeh ani. Rather, he should think the prayer modeh ani in his mind.
6. Women also recite modeh ani. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo chapter 2 note 17) feels that women should pronounce the word modeh with a kumatz under the letter “daled,” so that the word would be read as moduh (מודָה).
7. One is to make a slight stop between the words bichemla and rabba emunasecha. (Shaarei Teshuva 1:5)
8. The Sefer Haminhagim of Chabad, which discusses all the customs of Chabad Chassidim, writes that one is to place one hand against the other, and lower his head upon reciting modeh ani.

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

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