Parshas Vaeira Halacha Article

                                                    R’ Avi Zakutinsky        


                                                        Parshas Vaera

אַתָּ֣ה תְדַבֵּ֔ר אֵ֖ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲצַוֶּ֑ךָּ וְאַֽהֲרֹ֤ן אָחִ֨יךָ֙ יְדַבֵּ֣ר אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֔ה וְשִׁלַּ֥ח אֶת־בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מֵֽאַרְצֽוֹ

“You shall speak all that I command you, and Aaron, your brother, shall speak to Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel out of his land.”


Moshiach in Halacha


            In this week’s parsha we are told of Moshe Rabbeinu beginning the redemption of Klal Yisroel from Egypt. Moshe Rabbeinu was the first redeemer of the Jewish People [the verse Breishis 49:10 calls Moshiach “Shilos” which is the same numerical value of the word “Moshe”] and we anxiously await the arrival of Moshiach (may he come speedily) to complete the job of Moshe and redeem us from Galus. In this article we will discuss some of the laws related to Moshiach and hopefully merely learning some of the laws related to Moshiach will hasten his arrival, Amen.


Belief in Moshiach

  • The Rambam (Melachim 11:1) writes: “Anyone who does not believe in him or does not await his coming, denies not only the statements of the other prophets, but those of the Torah and Moses, our teacher. The Torah testified to his coming, as Deuteronomy 30:3-5 states: ‘God will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you. He will again gather you from among the nations… Even if your Diaspora is at the ends of the heavens, God will gather you up from there… and bring you to the land….’These explicit words of the Torah include all the statements made by all the prophets.”
  • It is therefore clear from the words of the Rambam that one must believe in the arrival of Moshiach and that one that doesn’t believe in Moshiach is a kofer. He similarly rules in the laws of Teshuva (3:6) that one who denies the coming of Moshiach has no share in the World To Come. As we say every day in the Ani Maamins (12): “I believe in complete faith in the coming of Moshiach, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come.”
  • It is also clearly evident that it is not enough to believe in Moshiach, rather, one must anxiously await his arrival and that one that doesn’t await his arrival is also a kofer.
  • The Rambam (Parah Adumah 3:4) writes: “Nine red heifers (para adumah) were offered from the time that they were commanded to fulfill this mitzvah until the time when the Temple was destroyed a second time. The first was brought by Moshe our teacher. The second was brought by Ezra. Seven others were offered until the destruction of the Second Temple. And the tenth will be brought by the king Mashiach; may he speedily be revealed. Amen, so may it be G-d’s will.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l (Hisvadios 5746 page 535) notes that the ending of this Rambam seems a bit peculiar, since the Rambam is a halacha sefer. Why then does he end this halacha with the statement “May he speedily be revealed. Amen, so may it be G-d’s will”? The Rebbe zt”l explains that the Rambam is teaching us a halacha that one must await the arrival of Moshiach and therefore at the mere mention of his name one must add a prayer that he come speedily in our days.
  • It should be added that merely awaiting the coming of Moshiach hastens his arrival. (Medrash Yalkut Shimoni Eicha 5 and Chida Midbar Kideimos Kevui)


Moshiach Will not know that he is Moshiach-

  • There is an interesting teaching of the Chasam Sofer (Teshuvos 6:96). The Chasam Sofer explains that Moshiach will not know that he is Moshiach until Hashem reveals Himself to him and informs him that he will redeem the Jewish people. He likens this to the revelation of Hashem to Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe was eighty years old and still did not know that he would redeem the Jewish people. Even more so, he refused to believe it when Hashem informed him of his fate. So too Moshiach will not know that he is Moshiach until the revelation from Hashem.


Building The Beis Hamikdash-

  • There is a classic difference of opinions between our rabbis regarding the construction of the Third Beit Hamikdash. According to some the Beis Hamikdash will be built by man, more specifically Moshiach, while others believe it will be built by Hashem Himself.
  • The Rambam (Melachim 11:1) writes: “In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel.” Rambam clearly states that the Beis Hamikdash will be built by man—more specifically, by Moshiach. Indeed, its construction will be one of the signs of Moshiach’s advent. Rambam’s view appears to be based on the Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 1:11 and Pesachim 9:1; Vayikra Rabbah 9:6; and Bamidbar Rabbah 13:2.
  • Rashi (Rosh Hashana 30a), by contrast, explains that the Beis Hamikdash has already been constructed by G-d and exists in the heavenly realms, waiting for the time when it will descend to the earth. For the Third Beis Hamikdash will be “the Sanctuary of G-d, established by Your hands.” When the setting within the world is appropriate, this heavenly structure will descend and become an actual reality within our material world. Rashi’s view has its source in the Midrash Tanchuma, Pekudei 11; Zohar 1:28a; and other texts.
  • There is a possibility to explain that there is no disagreement between Rashi and the Rambam and that they are explaining two different Messainic situations. The Gemara in Sanhedrin(98a) writes the following: “Rav Yehoshua Ben Levi noted a contradiction. On the one hand it is written ‘in it’s time’ (be’ita), which implies that the redemption will occur in its preordained time. But on the other hand it is written ‘I will hasten it’ (achishena) which implies that God will bring the redemption before its preordained time. Rav Yehoshua Ben Levi resolved the contradiction as follows- If the Jews are deserving, I will hasten it. If they are not deserving, the redemption will occur in its time.” In the present context as well, it can be explained that the if the redemption occurs before its preordained time, the Beis Hamikdash will be built miraculously by Hashem. If, however, the redemption comes in its preordained time, the Beis Hamikdash will be built by Moshiach with the help of the Jewish people. (Maharam Shick Y.D. 253. Refer to Tiferes Yisroel Middos, Aruch Lener Sukkah 41a for alternative methods as to avoid an argument between Rashi and the Rambam.)
  • May we witness the actual resolution of this issue in the immediate future, with the coming of the Redemption and the rebuilding—or the descent—of the Beis Hamikdash. “And then, the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to G-d, as in the days of old and as in bygone years.”
    Parshas Vaera


וּמשֶׁה֙ בֶּן־שְׁמֹנִ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה וְאַ֣הֲרֹ֔ן בֶּן־שָׁל֥שׁ וּשְׁמֹנִ֖ים שָׁנָ֑ה בְּדַבְּרָ֖ם אֶל־פַּרְעֹֽה

“And Moshe was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.” (Vaera 7:7)


The Bracha Upon Seeing Royalty


1) The Gemara (Brachos 58a) tells us that one should make an effort to see kings “and not only Jewish kings, but even gentile kings, because if he will merit, he will be able to distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish kings”. Rashi explains that this refers to those who will see the coming ofMoshiach. They will appreciate how much greater the honor given to theMelechHa’Moshiach is than the honor given by the various nations to their leaders in this world. The Gemara adds that additionally there is an obligation to recite a special bracha when seeing a king. As was codified by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 224:8), when one sees a Jewish king, he should say “Baruch…she’cholok mikvodo li’yireiav” and if he sees a non-Jewish king he should recite the blessing “Baruch…she’noson mikvodo l’basar v’dam”.

2) Rav Chaim Palag’i zt”l (cited by the Sefer Shearim Metzuyanim B’Halacha vol. 1. 60:6) rules that one is required to recite the bracha upon seeing a king even if he is known to be an evil tyrant. He explains that this blessing is not meant as a symbol of honor or respect towards the king. Rather, the rationale for this blessing is in order to appreciate how much honor is shown to kings now, so that we will be able to appreciate how much more honor will be given to the Melech Ha’moshiach.

3) The term “king” employed by the gemara is somewhat vague. In fact, nowhere in the gemara or in its major commentaries are we told what kind of authority one must have in order to warrant a bracha. The Radvaz (cited by Magen Avraham and Mishna Berurah) explains that the bracha need not be said over a king exclusively, but rather, any official or leader who is able to execute and exercise capital punishment is deemed to have requisite power to warrant a bracha. This ruling of the Radvaz is particularly essential when evaluating whether a blessing should be said over the President of the United States, as is discussed at length by the modern day Poskim. There are primarily two views on this subject:

4) Bracha Is Recited– Rav Wosner zt”l (Shevet Halevi 1:35) reasons that the ruling of the Radvaz is only necessary regarding a governor or officer who are not the most honored and revered in their land (as they don’t hold the highest position). A person like this needs the ability to execute criminals to have the power to require a blessing. The President or king, however, who are shown the most honor require a blessing regardless of their abilities and duties.[This author was told from reliable sources that Rav Zelig Epstein Zt”l indeed recited a bracha upon    meeting President Clinton.]

5) Bracha Without The Name of Hashem– Since the President is unable to execute prisoners at will, he should not warrant a blessing. This is the opinion of Rav Moshe Stern zt”l. In his Sefer Beer Moshe 2:9, he advises that one recite the blessing while omitting the name of Hashem.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef zt”l cites a number of authorities who rule that one does not recite a beracha when he sees a king wearing normal clothing, and without the accompaniment of an entourage. These authorities reason that the blessing is recited on the “honor” granted the king. If the king is not currently displaying that honor there is no need for a beracha. Rabbi Yosef himself is unsure whether or not these authorities should be relied upon and therefore rules to recite the beracha without uttering the name of God. Therefore, since presidents do not wear “the garb of kings” one does not recite the name of Hashem.

Rav Moshe Shternbuch Shlit”a (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 2:139) explains that since the criteria for this blessing is that they must be shown the honor reserved for royalty, one would not make a bracha on a president because, although he holds the highest position in the land, he only holds it for four years. He may be impeached at any time, and his approval is not necessary for all laws to be passed. For this very reason, Rav Shternbuch rules that a bracha should be recited upon seeing the monarch in modern day England.

Rav Asher Weiss shlit”a maintains that the bracha is not recited today on any monarch. Most leaders do not have the power necessary to warrant a bracha. Even those tyrants that have the power to kill at will do not warrant a bracha, in his view, since they do not judge properly with tzedek. Only a king that judges fairly and still has power would require a bracha.

6) The poskim rule that one does not make a bracha upon seeing a king or president on the television; see Shut B’tzel Hachochmo 2:19, Beer Moshe 2:9, Yechava Daas 2:28.

7) Rabbi Moshe Stern zt”l and his brother Rav Bezalel Stern zt”l (Be’er Moshe 2:9:4 and B’tzel Hachochmo 2:19) both explain that one need not actually see the king himself in order to make the beracha. It is sufficient to see the entourage parading the monarch through the streets.



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Parshas Shemos Halacha Article

                                                                       Parshas Shemos
ואלה שמות בני ישראל הבאים מצרימה את יעקב איש וביתו באו- שמות א:א
“And these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt; with Jacob, each man and his household came.”
                                                                      Naming The Baby
                                                                    (Assorted Halachos)
         Our sages stress that the name of a person can affect his actions for the good or  G-d forbid for the worse, (refer to Medrash Haazinu 7, Gemara Brachos 7b and Yoma 83b) [clearly one is able to overcome a bad name and cannot rely on a virtuous name alone, rather, one must strive to act in the most righteous way possible by doing mitzvos and learning Torah].
      The Sefer Bris Avos (8:47) cites the Arizal as saying, “It is a mere misconception that a parent names a child arbitrarily. Rather, it is with Divine inspiration. For it is known before Him the purpose and (eventual) actions of the child, be it for the good or for the bad, all of which are concealed in his name. Each letter of the name reveals more and more about the person. Even if one finds an evil person with a name destined for the righteous, it is clear that contained in him is a small spark of goodness”.
         It is clearly evident that naming a child is a great responsibility and not something to be done lightly. We will now discuss the more practical issues related to naming a child.
Section 1- Who Chooses The Name
1) The right to name the child belongs to the parents of the child and to them alone. No other person (grandparents etc.) should get involved in the naming of the child. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l (Likutei Sichos vol. 12 page 182) writes, “As for her question regarding a suggestion as to what to name the child that was born, may he live. The Response of my father in law, the Rebbe, on this matter is known: He does not get involved in these matters. [This lack of involvement] is understood in light of the Arizal’s words that parents are given the thought from Above as to what to name the boy or girl that is born, a name connected to this child’s soul, so that the letters of the name are connected to the life force of the sould and body.”
2) The common custom is that the parents do not reveal the name to others until the baby is formally named, the boy at the bris and. refer to Section 2 as to when the girl is formally named. Rav Sarya Deblitzky zt”l explains that the reason that the name is not revealed to others is out of concern of ayin hara. (Shu”t Avnei Yashfei vol. 1 196:6)
3) As noted above, both the father and the mother have the right to decide the name of the child. Whose side of the family should name the first child, and any subsequent children, is dependent on custom:
4) Sephardic Custom– The Sephardic custom has always been to name the first child from the father’s side of the family and the next child from the mother’s side and it continues with this pattern.
5) Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer 5 Y.D. 21), citing Rishonim, points to the naming of Yehuda’s children in Sefer Breishis as the source of this custom. The Torah records that Yehuda named his first son (Er), and his wife named the second son (Onan). Thus it is evident that the first child is named by the father and the second by the mother. Although, the Torah mentions that his wife named the third son as well, the Daas Zekeinim Mibaalei Hatosafos points out that the Torah specifically tells us that Yehuda was out of town at the time of the naming of his third child and was therefore unable to name him. If both parents are present, however, it seems that they should alternate naming the children, with the father naming the first child.
6) Interestingly, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l was asked what is the proper order for naming children and he explains that if there is no set custom in the locale, one should follow the custom of the Rishonim, cited above, that the first child is named by the father, the second by the mother and so on. (Likutei Sichos vol. 7 page 308)
7) The Ben Ish Chai (Year 2 Shoftim 27) maintains that even if the father wishes to forgo the honor and wishes to let the wife name the first baby after the mother’s side, he may not do so. However, Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that if the paternal grandfather is willing to forgo the honor, they may name the baby after the maternal grandfather. Such as the maternal grandfather was a rabbi etc. This is especially so when the need to maintain shalom bayis is at play. For practical halacha, a competent rabbi should be consulted.
8) According to this custom if the child is given two names, one after the father’s side and one after the mother’s side, the name after the father’s side should be used first.
9) Ashkenazic Custom– The current Ashkenazic custom is that the mother’s side of the family has the rights to the first name. (Refer to Hamaor Year 5732 vol. 2, Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:101 and Shearim Hametzuyanim B’Halacha 163:22)
10) One reason given for this custom is that the bond between a daughter and her parents is weakened by her marriage because she leaves their home and now has responsibilities to her husband. Indeed, this weakened bond manifests itseld in the halacha that a married woman is no longer obligated in the mitzvah of kibud av v’em as it may interfere with her responsibilities toward her husband. In order to strengthen this newly weakened bond, the first child is named from the mother’s side of the family. (Kovetz Noam 13 page 294)
11) Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a offers a second reason for this custom. He explains that since the mother just went through a painful delivery process, she is given the rights of the naming of the first child in order to help ease the pain. (Halichos Ketanim Uketanos page 31)
12) According to this custom if the child is given two names, one after the father’s side and one after the mother’s side, the name after the mother’s side should be used first.
13) Despite the various customs, cited above, great should be taken that no arguments arise when naming the baby and that both the husband and wife are happy with the decision.
Section 2: When Do We Name The Child
14) Naming A Boy– It is well known that the custom is to name the boy at the Bris. This custom is sourced in the Rishonim. (Siddur Rokeach page 728) The reason for this is that only after the baby is in his perfected state, after the removal of the orlah (foreskin), is the baby prepared to receive his Jewish name. (Chesed L’Avraham 2:52)
15) The poskim discuss what to do if a child is ill and will not be able to have the bris on time at 8 days: A) The Sefer Chemudei Daniel is of the opinion that if a child is ill and will not have a bris for weeks, one may give him a name before the bris. (Zicharon Bris L’Rishonim 12) According to the Chamudei Daniel one should name the baby before he is 8 days old, while the Sefer Kores Bris maintains one should name before the bris, but after the baby is 8 days old. Indeed, there were rabbanim who endorsed naming an ill baby before the bris so that the baby will have a name that others can use when davening for his recovery. (Kovetz Assia vol. 4 page 244) Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l and the Satmar Rebbe zt”l are also cited as advising one to give an ill child a name, even before the bris. B) Harav Shach zt”l is cited as ruling that one should only name the baby before the bris if the baby is in a life threatening situation. However, if the bris is postponed because the baby’s bilirubin levels are high, however, the baby is not in a life threatening situation, one should not name the baby before the bris. C) The Steipler Gaon zt”l is cited as ruling that one should never name the baby before the bris. According to the Steipler Gaon zt”l if one wishes to daven for the baby one would pray for “tinok (child) ben plonis.”
16) Harav Binyamin Zilber zt”l (Az Nidberu 13:73) writes that if one follows the view that one may name the baby before the bris milah, then during the bris one may follow the normal procedure, including the words “Vayikareh Shemo B’Yisrael” (he shall be named) even though no additional name is added. However, Harav Shmuel Wosner zt”l is cited as ruling that it would be preferred to add a name at the bris since one is declaring “Vayikareh Shemo B’Yisrael.” (Netai Gavriel Nidah vol. 3 page 588)
17) Naming A Girl– The custom is to name the girl when the father receives an aliyah to the Torah. The Gabbai recites a special Mi Sheberach and the baby is formally named.
18) There are various customs as to when to name the baby girl, however, there are primarily two approaches:
A) The view of the Bnei Yisasschar was to name the baby at the first Torah reading after the birth, even if that is a Monday or Thursday, and one does not wait for Shabbos. (Minchas Yitzchak 4:107) This is also the view of the Minchas Elazar of Munkatch zt”l and is followed by Munkatcher Chassidim. (Darchei Chaim V’Shalom 219) This is also the custom of Chabad, Ziditshov, and Spinka Chassidim. [Similarly, according to the custom of Chabad Chassidim, if a mother gives birth on Shabbos morning after Shachris, the father will name the baby at Mincha.]
B) While others name the baby at the Torah reading on the first Shabbos after birth. As it states in the Sefer Ben Uziel Parshas Shemos, “I have heard in the name of Rav Yechezkal of Shinova zt”l that he was particular not to name a girl during the week, rather only to do so on Shabbos. He explained that the reason being that a baby boy receives his holy neshama at the bris milah, however, a baby girl receives her holy neshama on Shabbos.” The Avnei Nezer is also as cited as being very particular that one name a girl on Shabbos. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh 3:283) This is also the practice of many chassidim, including Siget, Satmar, Tchernobel, Sanz, Ger, Amshinov, Bialeh and Belz. This is also the custom of many sefardim.
19) The custom of Belz is that they name on Shabbos. However, if the baby is born on Friday, they will wait and name the baby the following Shabbos (8 days later).
20) The custom of Sanz and Babov is to name the baby on Shabbos. This is true even if during the week is Yom Tov, they still wait for Shabbos.
21) Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a writes that all agree that if a baby girl is born ill and requires others to daven for her health that one should name her right away and one need not wait for a day that the Torah is read.
Section 3: Naming After Family Members
22) There is an age old custom, dating back to the times of the Tenaim, to name one’s child after one’s family members (such as grandfather etc.). (Yalkut Yosef Kibud Av V’Em vol 2 ch. 8)
23) The poskim explain that when the parent’s of the baby name the baby after their parents or grandparents they are fulfilling the mitzvah of kibud av v’em. (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 1:501) The reason for this is that the name of a child is connected to his soul and when one names a child after someone one is connecting that person’s soul to the soul of a child. It is for this reason that we do not name a child after an evil person (as we shall discuss in the next section). Therefore, when one chooses to name the child after a family member, such as a grandfather, one is, in essence, requesting that the child become connected to that family member. This clearly is a great sign of honor and when naming after one’s grandparent would thereby be considered an act of kibud av v’em for the parents.
24) In addition, there is a practice among many to name a child after a great rabbi and tzaddik. This practice is especially prevalent in chassidic circles. Indeed, the Gemara Bava Metzia 84b states that Rabbi Eliezer Ben Rebbi Shimon one day arrived at the Beis Medrash and had to rule on blood stains from sixty different women. After analysis of each stain, he determined that all of the women were tahor and therefore permitted to be with their husbands without having to immense in a mikvah first. The women all went home, conceived and subsequently gave birth to male children, all of whom were named Eliezer after the great Tanna.
25) The poskim discuss whether a parent should give precedence to naming the child after a rabbi or religious leader, or a family member. Harav Menashe Klein zt”l discusses this issue and he rules that one should give precendence to his family members. He writes that the author of the Macheneh Chaim wrote a letter to the author of Divrei Yirmiyahu stating that he regrets promising his rebbi (the author of Shaarei Torah) that he would name his son after him. He explains that there are important kabbalistic reasons to specifically name a child after a family member. He adds that, indeed, the Chasam Sofer who had a very close relationship with his rebbi, Rav Nosson Adler zt”l, did not name any of his sons after his rebbi, even though Rav Nosson Adler had no children who could perpetuate his name. Therefore, concludes Rav Menashe Klein zt”l, one should give precedence to naming a child after family members, more so than after a rabbi. This is also the view of Harav Binyamin Zilber zt”l. (Az Nidberu 13:72)
Section 4: Naming Boys After Girls And Vice Verca
26) Naming Female After Male- The poskim discuss whether one may name a baby girl after a man, such as naming a girl Mindy after a male relative Mendy. The Sefer Sharbit Hazahav (8:37) writes, “Regarding naming a girl after a male (for example a male named Simcha passed away and they now wish to name a baby girl Simcha after him or a male named Baruch passed away and they wish to name a girl Beracha after him) one should avoid doing so. This is especially so according to the mekubalim who explain that a person’s name is closely connected to his soul and the baby’s soul is connected to his namesake. Therefore, if one names a girl after a man, he is connecting this young girl’s soul to that of a man, which in turn can make it difficult for her to have children.”
27) Indeed, the majority of poskim, including Harav Eliezer Deutsch zt”l, Harav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt”l and Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, were not in favor of those that name girls after men. However, some poskim, including the Ragotchover Gaon zt”l, permitted naming a girl after a boy. For practical halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.
28) Naming Male After Female– Although most poskim were not in favor of naming a female after a male, however, the poskim have no objection to naming a male after a female. Indeed, this was the custom in many locales. For examples, if a female named Dina passed away, they would name a baby boy Dan after her.
Section 5: Naming After One Who Died Young or Tragically r”l
29) Introduction- The Maharshal (Yam Shel Shlomo Gittin 4:31) writes that one should not name a child after a person that had “bad mazal” (rei’ah mazlei). He therefore writes that one should not call a child Yeshayahu, but rather Yishayah, since the prophet Yishayahu suffered a violent death, whereas the name Yishayah, mentioned in Divrei Hayamim (one of the books of the Bible) has no such negative connotations.
30) However the Beit Shmuel (E.H. 129 Shemos 10) writes that the Ramah argues on this as he says that one should write in a divorce document Gedalyahu (if one is called by that name) and not Gedalya, despite the fact that Gedalyahu ben Achikam, the leader of the Jews after the destruction of the First Temple, was murdered. Therefore, according to the Beis Shmuel, whether one may name after one who was murdered or died young would be a matter of argument between the Maharshal and the Rama.
31) However, the Chasam Sofer (2 E.H. 25) is of the opinion that all agree that one may not name after one who has “bad mazal.” Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:122) rules that one should act stringently in accordance with the view of the Chasam Sofer.
32) If one wishes to name after one who had “bad mazal” the poskim offer three possible heterim to avoid any potential halachic issues: A) One should change the name slightly from that of the person with “bad mazal.” This is indeed the reason that the poskim say that the name Akiva should be spelled with the “hei” at the end of the name, even though Rav Akiva spelled his name with an “aleph” at the ending. The Chasam Sofer cites those who explain the shift in this spelling as being due to “rei’ah mazlei.” Even though Rebbe Akiva lived a noble life and was willing to die for yiddeshkeit, due to his tragic end we would need to make a change in the name before applying it to our children. B) If one cannot make a slight change to the name, one may name a child after the deceased person who had bad mazal as long as he adds an additional name, so that the child has two names. C) A third solution was given by the Steipler Gaon zt”l. He was asked whether a father can name a child after someone who died young. He explains that when the father says the name at the bris he should concentrate that if the chosen name would not be successful, then the child should really be named after a tzaddik who shares the same name. Therefore, if the name of the deceased was Yaakov, then the father should think that if naming after the deceased will not be successful for the child. the child is being named after Yaakov Avinu, or any tzaddik named Yaakov.
33) One Who Was Killed As A Martyr– It is thus clear that one should not name one’s child after one who was murdered, unless employing one of the three aformentioned solutions, as that person had a “bad mazal.”
34) The poskim add that the same is true if a person was killed because he was a Jew. Although such a person is a tzaddik that has the great merit of giving one’s life for Hashem, it still would fall under the category of one who has “bad mazal.” It is for this reason that we change the spelling of the name “Akiva” (as explained earlier) because Rav Akiva was killed. Even though he was killed for being a jew (al kiddush Hashem), yet we still need to make a change in the name before applying it to our children.
35) The question that many ask is whether one may name after someone who perished in the Holocaust. Is there any reason to allow this or is this also an issue of rei’ah mazley. The Satmar Rebbe zt”l and Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l are cited as ruling that if one wishes to name after someone who perished in the holocaust one should add a name in order to avoid issues of rei’ah mazlei. (Beis Vaad L’Chachamim Elul vol. 5 page 356)
36) However, some poskim, including Harav Yitzchak Oelbaum zt”l and ybc”l Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a, offer a permissive view regarding naming after those that were killed in the Holocaust. They explain that  that since this was a cataclysm which affected the entire Jewish nation and not just individuals, it could not be considered bad luck to name for those holy individuals who perished in the Holocaust. For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.
37) Naming After One Who Died Young R”l– Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l discusses whether one may name a child after one who died young r”l and he writes that although there may be an issue with doing so, it is difficult to ascertain at which age is dying young a sign of bad mazal. Since there were many great tzaddikim that died relatively young. An example would be Shmuel Hanavi and Shlomo Hamelech who lived to the age of 52 and many name their children after these great tzaddikim without concern. Rav Moshe is hesitant to give a specific age, however, he does write that if the young person died childless, one should not give the same name but rather add another name.
38) The Minchas Elazar of Munkatch zt”l (Darchei Chaim V’Shalom 929) was of the opinion that one should not a name a child after one who died below the age of fifty, unless one adds a name and the additional name should be before the name of the deceased.
39) Harav Yaakov Kamanetzky zt”l is cited as putting the cut-off age at sixty. (Ziv Hasheimos ch. 15)
40) Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l and ybc”l Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a explain that the above concern, of naming after one who died young, does not apply when naming after the baby’s grandparent. Naming one’s child after one’s own parent is part of the Mitzvah of honoring your father and mother. Therefore, this overrides the traditional concern of naming after someone who died young.
Section 6: Naming After The Living
41) Ashkenazic Custom– The custom amongst Ashkenazik Jews is not to name a child after the living. Therefore, a parent may not name the child after the child’s grandfather if the grandfather is still alive. (Sefer Chassidim 460)
42) One of the reasons given for this is that since the common custom is to name children after parents or grandparents who are no longer alive. To name a child after a living person gives the impression that one wishes they were dead, Chas V’Shalom.
43) One should avoid doing so even if the grandparent doesn’t share the exact name of the child. Therefore, one should not name the child Menachem Mendel if that is the name of the grandparent, even if the grandparent is actually named Yosef Menachem Mendel. (Ziv Hasheimos ch. 10)
44) Although one does not name after the living, especially after a grandparent, the custom is to allow one to give a child the same name as the baby’s uncle or aunt.
45) Sefardic Custom– The custom amongst Sefardic Jews is to name after the grandparents even if they are alive. In addition, they feel that this is an act of honor for the grandparent and a segulah for the grandparent to have a long life.
46) Even amongst the Sefardim one should not name the child the same name as the child’s father.
R’ Avi Zakutinsky sends out a daily email containing 2 halachos. To subscribe to that daily email, free of charge, please email and ask to be signed up. Thank you

Nittel Nacht

1: Many Jews have a custom not to learn Torah on the night preceding December twenty-fifth. This night is referred to as Nittel Nacht. (See Netai Gavriel Chanuka 385-418 for a full discussion) Most, however, learn Torah on Nittel Nacht. For practical halacha, one should follow his or her custom and consult a rav.

2: Some poskim question whether one may marry on Nittel Nacht. (See Shulchan Haezer vol. 2 page 88b) The Netai Gavriel (Nisuin chapter 48 note 45) cites the Sefer Chazon Yeshayahu who reports that the Satmar Rebbe zt”l was against arranging weddings on this night.
However, the Sefer Shulchan Haezer notes that two great rabbanim made weddings on Nittel Nacht. He adds that one of the rabbanim was a grandchild of the Chasam Sofer, and that perhaps he had a tradition from his grandfather to permit marriage on Nittel Nacht. The Netai Gavriel adds that the accepted custom in Israel is to rule leniently and allow for weddings to take place on Nittel Nacht. This was also the view of Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l. (Yevakshu Mipihu page 419) A similar permissible view can be found in the Sefer Yalkut Yosef. (Sovea Semachos page 43)

Chanukah Candles and Shabbos

1: The time for lighting the Chanukah candles on Friday is after Plag Hamincha, before sunset, and should burn a half hour after Tzeis Hakochavim. Therefore, care should be taken to see that there should be enough oil in the Menorah at the time of the lighting, to burn for the required amount of time. One should preferably daven Mincha first and then kindle the Chanukah lights. However, if this is not possible, one may light first and then daven Mincha. One should rather daven Mincha with a minyan after lighting the Chanukah candles, then daven alone before lighting the candles. (See Shulchan Aruch 679 and Mishnah Berurah 2)
2. On Erev Shabbos, the Chanukah lights are kindled before the Shabbos candles even if a man is lighting the Shabbos candles. The reason is that there is a view which holds that men are mekabel Shabbos when he lights the Shabbos candles and melacha is prohibited. Although most poskim disagree with this view, and feel that men are not mekabel Shabbos when lighting the Shabbos candles, the custom is to preferably conduct himself accordingly.
3. However, if a man lit the Shabbos candles and did not intend to usher in Shabbos, he may kindle the Chanukah lights afterwards. This Halacha concerns a man, who does not accept Shabbos by lighting the Shabbos candles. However, when a woman lights the Shabbos candles, the custom that the she does accept Shabbos and is prohibited from doing any melacha. Therefore, if she should, accidentally, light the Shabbos candles, she is no longer permitted to kindle the Chanukah lights. She should, instead, instruct another person to light for her (as long as it is before sunset) and recite the blessing “Lehadlik Ner Shel Chanuka” on her behalf. She may, however, recite “Sheasa Nissim”. (Mishnah Berurah 679:1)
4. The poskim debate whether one should light the Chanukah lights before reciting Havdalah this Motzei Shabbos, or is Havdalah recited before kindling the Chanukah lights. (See Shulchan Aruch, Rama, Mishnah Berurah and Biur Halacha 681 for full discussion) In shul, the custom is to light Chanukah lights first. At home, however, since there is basis for both views, one should continue to conduct himself according to his own custom. If one has no specific custom he should perform Havdalah first and then kindle the Chanukah lights. (Opinion of Harav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin zt”l cited in Luach and of Harav Shimon Eider zt”l in Halachos of Chanukah page 44)

Amirah L’Akum

1) There is a rabbinic prohibition for a Jew to instruct a non-Jew to perform on his behalf any activities that are prohibited on Shabbos.
There are 3 reasons given for this prohibition: A) The Rambam (Shabbos 6:1) writes that it is prohibited so that Shabbos will not be taken lightly. [Parenthetically, this is the very reason that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l was against using electrical items with Shabbos clocks, as it is included in the prohibition of the Rambam.] B) It is included in the prohibition of “V’Daber Davar”, forbidden speech on Shabbos. C) The non-Jew is your messenger to do a prohibition.
2) In addition to the prohibition to command a non-Jew to perform prohibited activities on Shabbos, it is also prohibited to benefit from the non-Jew’s action. Therefore, if a non-Jew “knows” to turn on the light for you or turn on the fire etc. without being told, one still cannot benefit from those activities (one cannot read by the light or stay warm by the fire etc.) Even though he didn’t command the non-Jew, he cannot benefit from the actions.
Leniencies in cases of Torah prohibitions (Part 1)
Under certain circumstances, it is permissible to tell a non-Jew to perform even a biblical prohibition:
1) Bein Hashmashos– Bein Hashmashos is the time between sunset and nightfall. During Bein Hashmashos on Friday night one can be lenient to ask a non-Jew to perform any activity, even biblical in nature, for any one of the following reasons- A) For the sake of a mitzvah, B) Shabbos needs (oneg shabbos), C)Avoiding substantial financial loss, D) Avoiding significant distress.
2) Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l discusses the specific amount of time one can ask a non-Jew during Bein Hashmashos and he concludes that for this discussion one can be lenient to ask the non-Jew (as per the needs above) during the 30 minute period after sunset. The leniency of Amirah L’Akum would no longer apply  after 30 minutes. (Refer to Igros Moshe O.C. 4:62 and 4:64 40)
Some examples of the above halacha is- One can tell a non-Jew to turn on an electric stove during Bein Hashmashos in order to warm the food. (Oneg Shabbos) One can ask a non-Jew to lock one’s place of business and activate an alarm system during Bein Hashmashos if one forgot to do so. (Avoiding substantial loss) (Refer to Orchos Shabbos vol. 2 page 503 and The Sanctity of Shabbos pgs. 40-45)
1)  Pesik Reisha– Pesik Reisha describes a permissible action which will inevitably result in the performance of a prohibited melacha on Shabbos. An example is opening a fridge on Shabbos when the light will go on. The desired action is to open the fridge (permissible action), however, this will inevitably cause the forbidden act of turning the light on. On Shabbos performing a Pesik Reisha is forbidden. Therefore, in the above case one cannot open the fridge on Shabbos if the light will go on.
Yet, it is permitted to tell a non-Jew to perform the permissible act even though it will result in a melacha being performed by a pesik reisha. (Magen Avraham 253:41)
2) Therefore, if something necessary for Shabbos was left in the car, one may ask a non-Jew to open the car door even though a light will inevitably go on. Similarly, one may ask a non-Jew to open the fridge, even though the light will go on. (Igros Moshe 2:68) [The non-Jew may also be asked to close the fridge because that too is a pesik reisha. If food which is essential for the Shabbos meals remain in the fridge after it is closed, the non-Jew may be asked to first uncsrew the bulb if: A) There will not be a non-Jew available to open the fridge door at a later time, and B) there is no other way to preserve the food. (Sanctity of Shabbos page 49)]
1) Public Mitzvah– If a group of people cannot perform a mitzvah a non-Jew can be asked to do even a biblical prohibition in order to facilitate the performance of the mitzvah. (M.B. 276:25 and Sanctity of Shabbos page 57)
Therefor, if the lights (even incandescent) went out in the shul and the congregants are unable to daven on learn, a non-Jew may be asked to turn the lights on.
2) Similarly, it is permissible to tell a non-Jew to do a biblical prohibition if it will save many people from sinning. Therefore, if a public eiruv broke, and many people are unaware of this and they will continue carrying, a non-Jew may be asked to repair the eiruv, even if it involves a biblical act of repairing.
1) Choleh She’ein Bo Sakana– It is permitted to ask a non-Jew to perform any action on Shabbos to cure or to ease the pain of a choleh she’ein bo sakana, an incapacitated person. (M.B. 328:47)
An incapacitated person is a person who is feeling so unwell that he or she would go to bed if that would help (e.g. someone with a severe cold or flu). Similarly, when an illness causes a person so much pain that he cannot function normally, that person is considered to be incapacitated. (Shulchan Shlomo 328:23)
2) Therefore, one may ask a non-Jew to drive to a drug store and buy the patient medicine; to turn on a light; to turn on the heat or the air conditioner. One may also tell a non-Jew to adjust an electric hospital bed for a sick person.
[It should be noted that if it is possible to achieve the objective treatment without asking a non-Jew, then we must do that. (Beis Yosef 330:4) Therefore, if the medication can be obtained without having a non-Jew drive to the store, one must obtain it in a permissible way.]
Adults must be ill to be categorized as cholim shein bahem sakana. However, children, in general, are treated as cholim shein bahem sakana even when they are healthy. Therefore, if a child has a need, that if left unfulfilled, may lead to any sickness, one may tell a non-Jew to do a biblical prohibition. (Rama 328:17) For example, if an infant will only eat a certain baby food which was not prepared before Shabbos, one may tell a non-Jew to prepare and cook that food. Similarly,  a child who experiences fear of the dark is considered a choleh. Therefore, if the fuse in the house blew and the lights are off, one may ask a non-Jew to repair the fuse on Shabbos. (Sanctity of Shabbos page 53)
2) The poskim debate what age is a child still considered a choleh and has the heterim described above. According, to Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l, Harav Elyashiv zt”l and Harav Wosner zt”l all maintain that until the age of 3 the child is treated as a choleh. The Tzitz Eliezer extends it to 6, the Minchas Yitzchak 9 and Harav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l permits it until the child is bar or bat mitzvah. Harav Oelbaum shlit”a (Minchas Chein vol. 1 page 51) discusses this issue and after compiling all of the opinions he concludes: “All agree that a child under 3 can be considered a choleh shein bo sakana. A child more than 9 years old cannot generally be considered a choleh, according to most opinions. For children aged between 3 through 9, it is dependent on the relative strength or weakness of the child. If he is relatively weak, he may be treated as a choleh shein bo sakana, if he is relatively strong, he should not be included in this category.”
Question: If my house is cold can I ask a non-Jew to turn on the heat? Does it make a difference if there are elderly or children in the house?
Answer: Turning on the heat on Shabbos is a biblical prohibition. Therefore, to ask a non-Jew should only be permitted in the case of a ill person (choleh shein bo sakana) as was discussed in the previous emails. However, the poskim have determined that people who live in a house that is not adequately heated are likely to become ill. Therefore, people lacking adequate heat are treated as a choleh shein bo sakana.
Thus, it is permitted to tell a non-Jew to turn on the heat in a house that is very cold. (S.A. 276:5) [If the house is adequately heated for the average adult, then one would not be able to ask a non-Jew to turn on the heat. The Aruch Hashulchan does point out that it is very difficult to determine what is considered adequately heated and what is considered very cold in halacha.] Even if the house was warm enough for the average adult but there are children or elderly people present, who require additional heat, it is permissible to tell a non-Jew to turn on the heat. (Sanctity of Shabbos page 52)
Reader’s Question: Over the last few halachos you mentioned numerous heterim to allow one to ask a non-Jew to perform even biblical prohibitions (such as pesik reisha, public mitzvah, cholim etc.). Is one allowed to outright ask the non-Jew to perform the prohibition or must one hint it to him? What is the whole inyan of hinting in general?
Answer: In short, one need not hint to the non-Jew in all those cases. When it is permitted to ask a non-Jew (such as pesik reisha, public mitzvah, cholim etc.), it is permitted to do so outright.
The whole concept of hinting is only in a very specific case, as we shall discuss below. The reason is as follows: There are 2 issues with AmirahL’Akum- 1- The prohibition to command the non-Jew and 2- benefiting from his actions. Therefore, even if one hints for a non-Jew to perform a prohibited activity (which removes the 1st issue), it is still prohibited to benefit from his actions (2nd issue). In the previous halachos one is permitted to ask and benefit from the activities of the non-Jew.
When then does hinting apply? Hinting only applies when one is not directly benefiting from a non-Jew. The poskim describe 2 instances where one does not benefit from his actions (and when hinting would be effective). A) Indirect Benefit- Indirect benefit is where the actions of the non-Jew merely removes an obstacle rather than giving direct benefit. For example, putting out a light in the bedroom does not directly enable a person to sleep. It merely removes the obstacle of light. Therefore, one may hint to a non-Jew to turn off a light in the room. B) Additional Benefit- Addition benefit is where the melacha only makes it easier to do something which was possible even without his actions. For example, additional lights in an already lit room. Therefore, one may hint to the non-Jew to turn on a light in an already lit (albeit dimly lit) room.
In these 2 instances there is no prohibited command (1st issue), since one is hinting and there is no issue of benefiting from the non-Jew (2nd issue) as there is no benefit from his actions in this case. In all other cases hinting is not effective and not relevant.
Reader’s Question: If I need to overnight a package for work on Friday am I allowed to do so or is it Amirah L’Akum since I am asking the UPS workers to work for me on Shabbos.
Answer: Sending a package express overnight on Friday is a problem in general do to the issues of Amirah L’Akum. However, in case of great need and financial loss one can be lenient to overnight the package. A rabbi should always be consulted to determine if this case is considered “a great need” and warrants a lenient ruling.
The reason for the lenient view is that the poskim debate whether one may ask a non-Jew to ask another non-Jew on shabbos to perform an activity for the Jew. This is called “Amirah L’Amirah“. The Chavos Yair 53 rules that one may tell a non-Jew to tell another non-Jew to perform a melacha on Shabbos. However, the Avodas Hagirshuni rules stringently on the matter. The Mishnah Berurah 307:24 cites both views and rules that one may rule leniently in case of great financial loss. Overnighting a package is indeed a case of Amirah L’Amirah because the Jew does not directly commission the non-Jew who will deliver the package. The Jew merely interacts with a clerk in the UPS store who in turn tells the other non-Jew to deliver the package.
Yet, this case is a little bit better than the case of the Mishnah Berurah since the command is happening during the week. The Chasam Sofer 60 rules that Amirah L’Amirah is allowed if the command happens before Shabbos. The whole debate is whether one may tell a non-Jew to tell another non-Jew on Shabbos, however, before Shabbos is more lenient. (See Biur Halacha 307 for a dissenting view) Based upon the above reasoning one may be lenient only in a case of great need.

Lighting Shabbos Candles (Assorted Halachos)

1) Although, the sages have established that candle lighting is the woman’s responsibility, the obligation to light Shabbos candles rests equally on every member of the household. When the wife lights the candles she is being motzei her family’s obligation. (Tur Orach Chaim 263)
Rashi (Shabbat 32a s.v. Hareni) writes in name of Bereshis Rabba that women are more obligated in lighting candles since they were involved in the sin of extinguishing the light of the world in the sin of Etz HaDaas.

2) If a man is single living alone, or he is married and his wife is out of the house, or his wife is running late and will not make it home to light,  then he should light candles with a bracha.  A woman alone should obviously light with a bracha.

Mishnah Berurah 262:11

Question: What should a woman do regarding the Shabbos candles when she is in the hospital for Shabbos after giving birth?
Answer: Lighting the Shabbos candles is an obligation that applies even to someone who is hospital bound.
If her husband will be at home, he should light the Shabbos candles at home with a bracha. (See M.B. 263:32) However, she is still required to light at the hospital. Since hospital regulations forbid the actual lighting of candles in the room, one should light an electric incandescent lamp or flashlight in the hospital room. Since according to some poskim, including Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, one may not recite a bracha when lighting electric lights, she should light them without reciting a brocho.
[The poskim debate whether one can recite a bracha when lighting electric lights- 1) The Beis Yitzchak Y.D. 120, Mechezeh Avraham 41, Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l Yabia Omer 2:17, Rav Henkin zt”l Edus Lyisroel page 122, Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso vol. 2 page 34 note 22, Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l Kochvei Yitzchak page 20 all feel that one can recite a bracha on electric lights. 2) Harav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l and Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l feel that one can only recite a bracha on a battery operated flashlight. 3) While many poskim rule that no bracha is recited on any electric lights- Refer to the Maharshag 2:107, Beer Moshe Kuntres Electric 58, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l Mekraei Kodesh Chanukah 20, and Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l in Radiance of Shabbos page 12]
There is a custom that the wife adds a candle for every child that she has. If she lit two candles before having the child, she now lights three. (Mateh Moshe 414)
1) If one lights candles and does not benefit from them in any way (e.g. she lights in the dining room and then eats on the porch) and by the time the meal is over the lights will be extinguished, the bracha is a bracha l’vatala (bracha was said in vain). (S,A. 263:8)
2) There is an interesting machlokes between the Shulchan Aruch (sefardim) and the Rama (Ashkenazim). According to the Shulchan Aruch (263:8) only one woman is able to light with a bracha in a room. Meaning, once one woman lights in that room if another woman lights, the second cannot recite a bracha. Therefore, if a mother and daughter in law are staying in the same house and both will light, the mother lights in the dining room and the daughter in law lights in her bedroom. The daughter in law should make sure to eat or read using the light, in order to benefit from them before they extinguish. Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l codifies this law as normative for Sefardim. The Rama, however, maintains that many women can light in the same room with a bracha.
A very common question is where a couple should light when they are eating in one location and sleeping at home. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Radiance of Shabbos page 13) is cited as ruling that it is preferable for the woman to light candles in her own home where she is sleeping (this is the custom of Sefardim, as we shall explain), however, Harav Moshe explains that if this is difficult she may light in her hostess’ home.
Although, both locations are legitimate options (as cited above), each has its own challenges and stipulations, as we shall explain:
Lighting Where You Eat– The reason to light where you eat is that one needs to benefit from the candles (as we discussed in yesterday’s email) and many times when one lights where one sleeps the candles are extinguished by the time the couple arrives at home. This problem does not exist when lighting at the host. In addition, women accept Shabboswith the candle lighting and if she wishes to drive to the host for the meal, she cannot light beforehand at home. However, the issue with lighting at the hostess’ home is the view of the Shulchan Aruch (cited yesterday) that according to Sefardim two women cannot light in the same room with a bracha. Therefore, Sefardim should light at their home and not at the hostess’ home. As noted yesterday, the Rama maintains that multiple women can light with a bracha in the same room. [Indeed, Rav Moshe endorsed lighting at home in order to adhere to the strict view of the Shulchan Aruch.]
Lighting At Home Where You Sleep– As noted above, Rav Moshe advised lighting at home. However, she must derive some benefit from the candles which she lights. This can be accomplished in multiple ways: A) She should either leave home after having derived some benefit from the candle light (e.g. she should daven next to the candles), B) She should use candles which will burn long enough to provide light when they return home from their meal. She may then derive her benefit from them by eating next to the candles. C) I recently heard from Harav Menachem Genack shlit”a that Harav Soloveitchick zt”l offered a very clever eitzah. He explained that before lighting the candles, she should light the electric lights for the sake of Shabbos and recite the bracha over them as well as over the candles. This ensures that the Shabbos lights (in the case the electric lights) will still be lit when they arrive at home. [As noted above, after lighting she has accepted Shabbos upon herself and therefore cannot drive to the hostess’ home.]
Yesterday I received many variations of the following question. I would like to therefore address it today. In yesterday’s halacha email it said “after lighting she has accepted Shabbos upon herself and therefore cannot drive to the hostess’ home.” I was under the impression that a woman can light with the intention of not accepting Shabbos and then drive after lighting, is that not correct?
Answer: The rishonim debate whether a woman can stipulate that she is lighting with the intention of not accepting Shabbos. The Mishnah Berurah (263:44) rules that normative halacha is that we only allow one to stipulate in “case of great need”. It is unclear what is considered “great need”. For example, Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l is of the opinion that driving to the kotel to daven is not considered a need that would warrant allowance of a stipulation. (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso page 48. See radiance of Shabbos for a permissible view from the Tzitz Eliezer) In addition, it is clear from the Mishnah Berurah that a stipulation in order to daven mincha is not allowed (and therefore he writes that a woman who has not yet davened mincha should light and daven maariv twice and he does not offer stipulating as an option)  It is therefore difficult to ascertain whether driving to one’s host is considered a “great need” and a rabbi should be consulted.
In addition, the view of the Baal Hatania (263:11) is that the woman can only stipulate if someone from her household will keep Shabbos with her lighting. Generally, when a woman lights only she herself accepts Shabboswith the lighting and not her family members. However, if she wishes to stipulate, someone from her household must keep Shabbos with the lighting. This is also the view of Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso. Therefore, even if she wishes to stipulate and drive to her host someone from the family must walk and keep Shabbos from the time of the lighting.
Reader Question #1- You mentioned that one must benefit from the lights or the blessing is in vain. Many times when there is a simcha in a hotel or a convention in a hotel, there will be a special hallway or room set aside for lighting candles. How is this permitted since people will neither eat or sleep or gain any pleasure from these candles, as you light and then leave to the dining room?
Answer- Unfortunately you are correct this is not allowed. Let me quote Harav Simcha Bunim Cohen shlit”a (Radiance of Shabbos page 13): “If a family spends Shabbos in a hotel, it is preferable that the wife should light candles in their private room, or at the table in the dining room. However, if this is not possible, she should light candles anywhere in the dining room where some additional illumination will be provided for the diners. Regrettably, hotels often request that the women light candleson a table too distant to provide illumination to any of the diners, or light in a small room other than the main dining room. This practice is not in accordance with the halacha and any blessing made there is, unfortunately, in vain (oral ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l).” If it is not possible to light candles in the dining room, it is best that she not light candles at all but rather fulfill her obligation by turning on an electric light in her room without a bracha.
Reader Question #2- You mentioned that if lighting at home and then eating out one needs to gain benefit from the lights or the bracha is in vain. One of the options you mentioned was “She should either leave home after having derived some benefit from the candle light (e.g. she should daven next to the candles)”. Can she do this before Shabbos starts- meaning if candle lighting is 6:00 p.m. can she light and derive benefit at 6:01 and then leave or must she wait for halachic nightfall?
Answer- That’s a fair question and to be honest it is unclear from the poskim. The view of the Piskei Teshuvos (263 note 269) is that one need not wait for nightfall, rather, she must wait for it to be dark outside so that the house gets darker. And since this is difficult to ascertain it is better to gain benefit after nightfall or employ the other options (using candles that are long enough to still be lit or light the electric lights etc.)
1) The Rama (263:1) writes that if a woman forgot to light Shabboscandles, she is penalized to add an additional candle from then on to the number which she generally lights each week. If a woman knows that she will be unable to light, she should have her husband light for her and therefore avoid any penalty.
If she lit candles but neglected to light the regular number, there is no penalty. (Biur Halacha)
2) A woman is only penalized if she was negligent and did not light. However, if she couldn’t light for reasons beyond her control (e.g. she was stuck on the road during the onset of Shabbos or was ill and unable to) she is not penalized. (M.B. 263:7) At times it is unclear whether she is negligent or it’s an ones (out of her control) and a rabbi should be consulted.
The question I have been asked is what happens if a woman forgot to light candles on Yom Tov is she penalized as well? The Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso vol. 2 page 35 note 28 writes that this an actuality a debate amongst the poskim. According to the Kinyan Torah it is not common for women to forget to light on Yom Tov (as she can light all night after the meal- unlike Shabboswhere one cannot light after the 18 minutes) and therefore no penalty was created. However, according to Harav Menashe Klein zt”l there is a penalty if she forgot to light on Yom Tov. For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.
2) If a woman was not religious and baruch Hashem she becomes observant and begins to light candles, she is not penalized for the shabbosim that she was not religious and did not light candles. (Yalkut Yosef shabbos vol. 1 263)

Yom Kippur (Assorted Halachos)


1) It is customary to perform the ritual of kapparos in preparation for YomKippur. The custom consists of taking a chicken and gently passing it over one’s head three times while reciting the appropriate text. The fowl is then slaughtered in accordance with halachic procedure and its monetary worth given to the poor, or, as is more popular today, the chicken itself is donated to a charitable cause. We ask of Hashem that if we were destined to be the recipients of harsh decrees in the new year, may they be transferred to this chicken in the merit of this mitzvah of charity. (Rama 605)

2) A male takes a rooster while a female uses a hen. The Rama rules that a pregnant woman should perform kapparos with two chickens, a hen and a rooster. The rooster in case her baby is a boy and the hen in case it’s a girl. If the baby is a girl, the one hen is sufficient for both the mother and the daughter. However, according to the Ariz”l a pregnant woman should perform kapparos with three chickens, two hens and a rooster. One hen for herself, and the other hen and rooster for the unborn child (of undetermined gender). If taking three chickens is too expensive, she can rely on the Rama and take a hen and a rooster.
3) Harav Meir Brandesdorfer zt”l and Harav Yitzchak Weiss zt”l maintain that a woman who follows the Ari z”l and knows through the use of a sonogram that she is carrying twins should take five chickens, three hens and two roosters. (See Shu”t Koneh Bosem 2:20)
4) Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a (Netai Gavriel Y.K. page 88) writes that if the pregnancy is not yet forty days old, she need not take any extra chickens for the fetus.

5) Harav Zinner shlit”a adds that the pregnant woman need not take the multiple chickens at once. Rather, she can perform the ritual one chicken at a time.
Eating Erev Yom Kippur
1) There is a biblical mitzvah to eat on Erev Yom Kippur. (S.A. 604:1) The Rosh (Yoma 88) explains that the reason for the mitzvah was that Hashem wanted us to eat on Erev Yom Kippur in order for it to be easier to eat on Yom Kippur.

2) There is a discussion amongst the poskim whether there is a mitzvah to eat the night before Yom Kippur or only during the day on Erev YomKippur. (See Magen Avraham, 604:1 citing Shlah, Gra, and Aishel Avraham Botchetch) Most authorities maintain that the main mitzvah begins the morning of Erev Yom Kippur. (See Chazon Ovadia Yomim Noraim Erev Yom Kippur)
3) There is a discussion amongst the poskim whether women are obligated in this mitzvah to eat on Erev Yom Kippur. (See Rav Akiva Eiger Shu”t 16 and Chochmas Shlomo 604) Most authorities maintain that women are obligated to eat. (See Chazon Ovadia Yomim Noraim Erev Yom Kippur)
4) One may discuss on Yom Kippur (not during davening) what he plans on eating after Yom Kippur. Even though one may not discuss on Shabbos what prohibited actions he plans on doing after Shabbos, discussing eating on Yom Kippur is not considered prohibited speech. (Halichos Shlomo Yom Kippur)
Taking Medication
1) The poskim permit taking a bitter tasting pill on Yom Kippur for an incapacitated person.(See Igros Moshe 3:91, Shearim Metzuyanim B’Halacha 133:9, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aeurbach zt”l in Shulchan Shlomo Refua vol. 2 page 192 and Netai Gavriel Y.K. page 274)
2) An incapacitated person is someone whose pain is so severe that he stays in bed, e.g. someone with a severe cold, the flu, or a migraine. (Refer to Shulchan Aruch O.C. 328:17 and Chut Shani vol. 4 page 197) Furthermore, when an illness causes a person so much pain or discomfort that he or she cannot function normally, they are considered to be incapacitated. He or she may not take water with the pill. (Shulchan Shlomo ibid.)
3) Someone who has pain but not severe enough to incapacitate them, such as a headache that is not a severe migraine, is not permitted to swallow a pill.
4) The incapacitated woman should not swallow a pill that has a sweet coating. (Shulchan Shlomo Refua vol.2 page 274)
5) Rav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a (Netai Gavriel Yom Kippur page 277) writes that it is preferred for the incapacitated person to leave shul to take a nap, if that will ease the pain and avoid the necessity of medicine, rather than stay in shul and take medicine.
Eating For A Choleh
1) A pregnant woman must fast on Yom Kippur. (S.A. 517:1) Someone whose life may be in danger by fasting on Yom Kippur is obligated to eat. Not all cholim who are obligated to eat on Yom Kippur have the same halachic dispensation. There are cholim (who may be in danger) whose illness only warrants minimal eating or drinking. Minimal consumption is termed pachos mi’keshiur, or “shiurim”. Eating in shiurim means eating not more than a prescribed amount within a prescribed period of time.
2) At times a doctor will forbid a pregnant woman from fasting if she suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes, or if she has experienced miscarriages in the past. A pregnant woman must therefore consult with her doctor and her rabbi before Yom Kippur to see if she can fast. Even if the doctor and rabbi advise her to eat she must ascertain whether eating and drinking pachos m’kishiur would suffice. We will therefore discuss the laws of eating on Yom Kippur for a choleh, however, every woman must discuss her particular situation with her rabbi, because everyone’s circumstances and specific needs are unique.
3) In the event that one must eat or drink on Yom Kippur, one should first say the following prayer:
הנני מוכן ומזומן לקיים מצות אכילה ושתיה כמו שכתבת בתורתך, ושמרתם את חוקתי ואת משפטי אשר יעשה אותה האדם וחי בהם, ובזכות קיום מצוה זו, תחתום אותי ואת כל חולי עמך ישראל לרפואה שלימה, ואזכה ביום הכפורים הבא לקיים שוב ועניתם את נפשותיכם. כן יהי רצון, אמן.
“I am about to fulfill the mitzvah of eating and drinking, as You wrote in Your Torah, ‘And you shall keep My statutes and My laws that one must do and live through them.’ In the merit of fulfilling this mitzvah, please seal my decree, and that of all those who are ill among Your nation Yisrael, for a complete recovery. Next Yom Kippur, may I merit to fulfill once again the mitzvah of ‘you shall afflict your souls [through fasting].’ May this be Your will, Amen.” (See Netai Gavriel Yom Kippur Page 295)
4) Eating- On Yom Kippur the pachos mi’keshiur requirement for food is the volume of food that is less than a koseves hagasa, a type of large date. Harav Moshe Heinemenn shlit”a explains that the volumetric measurement of a koseves hagasa is more than 1.5 fl. oz. (44 ml). Therefore, one who is ill (as above) may eat 1.5 fl. oz. (which is less than a koseves hagasah) of food. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes, “The common custom is to give one who is ill pieces of bread with a condiment the size of 30 grams (1.05 oz.).”
5) One should preferably measure out the food before Yom Kippur. However, if one did not do so one may measure the food on Yom Kippur. (Chazon Ovadia Yomim Noraim page 297)
6) In between eating sessions one must wait kdei achilas pras, the amount of time it takes to eat a pras of bread. The poskim debate how many minutes it takes to eat a pras of bread:
A) According to the Chasam Sofer (6:15)- 9 minutes.  This is also the view of the Mishnah Berurah (618:22).
B) The Baal Hatania is cited as ruling that it is 8 minutes. (See Shiurei Torah by Rav Chaim Naeh page 204)
C) According to the Aruch Lner (Bikurei Yaakov 639:13)- 7.5 minutes. This is also the view of Harav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman zt”l. (Melamed L’Hoeil 113:5)
D) There are conflicting reports of the view of the Tzemech Tzedek. One report from the Tzemach Tzedek is 7 minutes. While another report from the Tzemach Tzedek is 6 minutes. (See Shulchan Menachem page 43 and Katzos Hashulchan 2:36:5) Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer 9:108:96) writes that, “The proper amount of time (kdei achilas pras) in accordance with most authorities is between 6 and 7.5 minutes.”
E) Harav Yitzchak Elchonon Spekter zt”l is cited as ruling that one should wait 5 minutes. (See Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 298)
F) Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 4:41) writes that while one should wait on Yom Kippur 9 minutes, if this is difficult one may wait half that amount (4.5 minutes).
G) It should be noted that Harav Ahron Felder zt”l writes that Harav Moshe told him that a choleh should wait 4 minutes between eating sessions on Yom Kippur. (Rishumei Ahron vol. 2 page 47)
H) The Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso (Chapter 39:18) cites the Chasam Sofer that at the very least one should wait 2 minutes between eating sessions.
7) For practical halacha, one should wait 9 minutes between eating sessions. If this does not suffice and the person must eat more frequently they should wait as long as she can, depending on her state of health. At all events, one should wait for a period of at least 2 minutes. (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso ibid.)
8) Drinking- The minimal volume for beverages that qualifies for shiurim is less than a m’lo lugmav, a cheekful of liquid. Unlike food, the shiur of liquids differs with each individual’s capacity to hold liquid in his or her mouth. The larger the mouth, the larger the m’lo lugmav. Conversely, the smaller the mouth, the smaller the m’lo lugmav. (S.A. 612:9) Harav Moshe Heinemann shlit”a explains that for purposes of drinking on Yom Kippur we say an average adult has a m’lo lugmav that is larger than 1.5 fl. oz. (44 ml). A teenager may have a smaller m’lo lugmav.
9) One can ascertain his or her personal m’lo lugmav by filling his mouth completely with water, expelling the water into a measuring cup and dividing the amount in half. This number is the amount held by one cheek – a m’lo lugmav. Pachos mi’keshiur is slightly less than this amount. This “test” should preferably be conducted before Yom Kippur. (M.B. 618:21)
10) How long should one wait between drinking sessions. Ideally, one should wait 9 minutes between drinking, as one would ideally wait between eating sessions. (Chazon Ovadia Yomim Noraim page 297) If this amount of liquid is insufficient for the patient, one may drink this amount of liquid every two minutes. (View of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l Rishumei Ahron vol. 2 page 47)
11) If it is determined that this amount is insufficient and one’s life may still be in danger, the patient must drink as much as necessary, even if it is more than the shiur of volume and less than the shiur of time.
12) If staying in bed will help prevent the patient from eating, even one session, in shiurim, she should stay in bed and not go to shul. (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso 39:28)
13) A patient who has to eat in shiurim must not eat or drink more than he or she needs that day in order to keep him or her out of danger. (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso 39:26)
14) It must be remembered that eating or drinking in shiurim is permitted only if the doctor and rabbi require it and that a person who is ill but is not in danger must not eat or drink at all, even if confined to bed.
Brachos and Kiddush- A pregnant woman who has to eat or drink on Yom Kippur should recite the proper bracha rishona before doing so. Once she has done so, she should not repeat it before every eating session, unless she has, during the pause, diverted her attention from the food or drink by going out of the house or by deciding to no longer eat or drink. (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso 39:21)
If she eats 1.27 ounces of food within four minutes, she should recite a bracha achrona. If
that amount was eaten in a period of time exceeding four minutes, it is questionable whether or not to recite a bracha achrona may be made and a bracha should not be recited. (Rav Elyashiv zt”l in Vsein Bracha page 247)
In either case, she does not recite a bracha achrona on the drinks that she drank in shiurim. (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso ibid.)
One who is eating on Yom Kippur does not recite Kiddush. (M.B. 618:29) If Yom Kippur is on Shabbos, the poskim debate whether one must recite Kiddush before eating. (Kaf Hachaim 618:60)
If she is eating bread, she need not have lechem mishnah. (Magen Avraham 10)
If she is eating bread, she must wash her hands fully as she would the rest of the year. (Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l in Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchos page 516)
If she is going to eat more than a kebaytzah of bread (2.53 oz.), she must wash her hands with a bracha. (M.B. 158:9)
If she is going to eat less than a kebaytzah (2.53 oz.) but more than a kezayis of bread (1.27 oz.), she should wash without a bracha. (M.B. 10)
If she is going to eat less than a kezayis of bread (1.27 oz.), the poskim debate whether she must wash her hands without a bracha or whether she is completely exempt from washing. It is proper to be strict to wash without a bracha.
If she eats 1.27 ounces of bread within four minutes, she recites birchas hamazon. In birchas hamazon, she should add the יעלה ויבוא prayer, with the insertion of the words, ביום הכפורים הזה. On Shabbos, the רצה prayer should be added. Nevertheless, if she finishes the blessing in which these prayers are always added and then realizes that she has forgotten either or both of them, there is no need to say birchas hamazon again.
A person who has to eat on Yom Kippur and eats, for example, cake or dates should insert the words “וזכרנו לטובה ביום הכפורים הזה” in the al hamichya or al hapeiros blessing which she says afterwards.
Question: Throughout the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur davening we constantly open the Aron Kodesh. My question is I know many people stand up when the Aron is opened, however, is that required?
Answer: You are correct that it is customary to stand up when the Aron is opened. Therefore, one should definitely stand up if they can as this is the custom and if one does not do so it may be perceived by others as a slight to the Aron. (Refer to Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 282:13) The only question is if one is older and standing is difficult is one allowed to remain seated. In this situation no one would perceive it as a slight to the Torah.
The only question is whether standing is an obligation, which would require the older person to stand, or is it merely customary. The view of the Taz (Y.D. 242:13) is that one is technically not required to stand when the Aron is opened during the Yomim Noraim davening as the Torah is in a separate domain. The Panim Meiros (74) disagrees and maintains that if one can see the Sifrei Torah (he is sitting in front of the Aron) he is obligated to stand. The majority of the poskim agree with the view of the Taz. Therefore, if one is older and is having a difficult time standing, one may rule leniently. (Refer to Kovetz Halachos Yomim Noraim page 94).