Blessing Children On Friday Night

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

1. It is a custom for parents to bless their children on Friday night. [Parenthetically, it is also a custom for the chosson and kallah to be blessed by their parents before they walk down the aisle (see Shulchan Haezer 7:1) ]
2. The poskim discuss how to bless the children. The Maaver Yabok (cited by Shulchan Haezer 7:1) seems to indicate that one should bless the child by resting one hand on the head of the child. The reason is that there are fifteen limbs in one hand corresponding to the fifteen words found in the birchas kohanim.

3. An additional reason given to use only one hand when blessing others (as opposed to two hands) can be found in the Torah Temimah (Naso 131). The Gemara says that it is prohibited for a non-kohen to perform the birchas kohanim (priestly blessings). Therefore, the Torah Temimah explains, blessing with two hands may be too similar to the priestly blessings, which are performed using both hands. He adds that he heard from trustworthy sources that the Vilna Gaon would only use one hand when blessing others. When asked why, the Vilna Gaon explained that, “The only time we find a blessing given with both hands is by the kohanim.” (See however introduction to Sefer Emunas Hatichia which indicates that the Vilna Gaon would bless others with two hands.)

4. However, Harav Yaakov Emden zt”l (Siddur friday night) rules that one should lean two hands on the child’s head when giving the blessing. The Sefer Yosef Ometz (70) writes, “Although I do not like to focus on Kabbalistic concepts, nevertheless, I believe that it is preferable to bless the children (on Friday nights) using both hands. This way the blessing will be performed using all ten fingers which is beneficial, for kabbalistic reasons. In addition, blessing with only only one hand appears as if one is being ‘stingy’ with his blessing.”

Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Shalmei Simcha 153) would use both hands when blessing others. A similar ruling is expressed by the Rav of Debreczin (Beer Moshe 4:25).

ואין להקשות לפי שיטה זו, שנוהגים לברך בב’ ידים, דא”כ יש לאסור משום זר בברכת כהנים, דעיין בביאור הלכה ריש הלכות נשיאות כפים שהביא ב’ תירוצים לבאר מנהג העולם, ותירוץ השני שם דכיון דתקינו רבנן שלא לישא כפים בלא תפלה, שוב מי שאומר פסוקים אלו של ברכת כהנים בלא תפלה בין כהן בין ישראל הוי כמכוין בפירוש שלא לקיים בזה המצות דברכת כהנים ולכן שרי. [ועיין בבית ברוך כלל ל”ב ס”ק ח’ שטוב יותר לכוון בפירוש שלא לצאת ע”ש.] וע”ע בזה בשו”ת ציץ אליעזר חי”א סימן ח’.

5. The father rests either one hand or two and says, “May G-d make you like Efraim and Menasheh” (Genesis 48:20) [“ישימך אלקים כאפרים וכמנשה”]. This is the traditional blessing given to children. He then recites the priestly blessing: [“יברכך ה’ וישמרך וכו’]. (Siddur Yaavetz)

6. Some also add the verse, “May G-d’s spirit rest on him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and might, a spirit of knowledge and the fear of G-d” (Isaiah 11:2) [“ונחה עליו רוח ה’ רוח חכמה ובינה רוח עצה וגבורה רוח דעת ויראת ה'”]. (see Maaver Yabok Sifsei Rinanos 53) Beyond this, the parent’s may add any blessing or prayer that they desire.

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

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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.

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 hashevaynu.org]

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

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 hashevaynu.org]

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

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).

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

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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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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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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Paying The Shadchan (Part 2)

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

Section 2: Who Is Obligated To Pay The Shadchan

1. The Avnei Nezer (Choshen Mishpat 36) writes that the obligation to pay the shadchan belongs to the chosson and kallah. However, the parents customarily pay the shadchan.

2. Some poskim feel that because the parents customarily pay, the obligation to pay the shadchan now belongs to the parents, and not to the chosson and kallah (see Erech Shai Choshen Mishpat 185).

3. Harav Yisroel Belsky shlit”a also maintains that the obligation to pay the shadchan is that of the parents. He explains that even if the children do not live at home and are financially self-sufficient, as long as the parents are involved in the shidduch process, (giving the children advice, coordinating the vort and wedding), they bear the brunt of the obligation to pay the shadchan. However, if the parents are completely removed from the shidduch process, then they are exempt from paying the shadchan and the chosson and kallah must pay (Shu”t Shulchan Halevi Chapter 27 Note 2).

4. The Sefer Erech Shai (ibid.) agrees with the aforementioned poskim, who rule that a chosson and kallah who live with their parents are not obligated to pay the shadchanus (rather the parents must pay). He then adds that even if the parents cannot afford to pay the shadchan, the chosson and kallah still remain financially exempt. Harav Belsky shlit”a (ibid.) adds that while the chosson and kallah may not be obligated to pay the shadchan, if their parents cannot afford to fulfill the obligation, they should do their best to go above and beyond the letter of the law and complete the payment themselves. (see also Shu”t Teshuvos V’hanhagos vol. 3 457:3 and Sefer Yismach Lev page 22)

5. The custom is for the kallah’s family to pay for half of the shadchanus and for the chosson’s family to pay for the other half. This is so even if the Shadchan spent more time and effort with the kallah’s family than with the chosson’s family, or vice versa. If one family cannot afford to pay the shadchan, the other family is not obligated to pay the entire bill, but rather they should pay slightly more than half the bill in order to appease the shadchan and avoid any potential arguments (see Sefer Erech Shai Even Haezer 50, Shu”t Beis Yitzchak Even Haezer 115, Shu”t Binyan David 53:3, and Sefer Hanisuin K’Hilchosom).

Section 3: When to Pay-

6. The Rama (Choshen Mishpat 185) notes that the custom varies regarding when to pay the shadchan. Some pay immediately following the engagement (or tenaim), while others pay closer to the wedding. The Aruch Hashulchan (Even Hezer 50:42) writes that the custom in his area was to pay the shadchan immediately following the tenaim. [See also Sefer Halichos Yisroel 4]

7. The poskim disagree as to when to pay if there is no prevalent custom in the area (Rama and Taz ibid.). Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l writes that if there is no prevalent custom in the area, the payment is only required before the wedding and not following the engagement (Koveitz Teshuvos 1:207).

8. As cited above, many have the custom to pay the shadchan immediately after the shidduch is completed. Even if the shidduch is broken later, the shadchan does not have to return his fee (Aruch Hashulchan ibid.). The halacha may vary if the shadchan withheld information which, upon the uncovering of said information, led to the termination of the engagement. (See Shu”t Levushei Mordechai Tenina Choshen Mishpat 15 and Sefer Halichos Yisroel 11) For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.

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