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).

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

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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.

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

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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