Shabbos 142: The Spare Chair
Simchos are exciting but also hectic times. One family was slated to make sheva brachos on Shabbos at a smallhall. They would make an early Shabbos and begin the meal right before sunset. Unfortunately, there was no place to light Shabbos candles. The tables were too narrow to safely hold a fire.
The baalas simcha knew that if there is no choice, one may make a bracha on electric lights according to many authorities. This woman preferred not to rely on them if there was any choice, since others do argue. She placed two little cups of oil on what she assumed was a spare chair, turned on the electric lights and lit her oil candles with a bracha. Shortly after sunset, however,both cups of oil went out.
When all the guests arrived, the family found that they needed every single chair after all, including the seat on which the candles had been lit. There was no eiruv in their area, so another chair could not be brought. They wondered if it was permitted for them to use that chair. As we find on Shabbos 142, one who left muktzah on a permitted surface renders that surface a bosis, a base for a prohibited object, and it retains the halacha of the prohibited objects that were on it. Since the chair held candles that had been lit, which one may not move for any reason, they figured that the chair was also prohibited to move or use.
When they sent someone to quickly ask their local posek, he ruled leniently. “The Mishnah Berurah clearly rules that if the muktzah is not on the base the entire bein hashemashos,it does not become a bosis. Since the candles were not burning the entirebein hashemashos, the chair merely receives the halacha of an unlit cup of oil with a wick in it, which is a kli shemelachto l’issur. The cups may be removed, since you need their place, and one may sit on the chair, which can be used letzorech gufo”(Mishnah Berurah, 308:304, 309:26; See Chut Shani, Part III, p. 160-162 and note 38.)
Shabbos 143: Uplifting the Table
The Imrei Chaim of Vizhnitz zt”l recounted a deep lesson heard from the rebbe of Atiniya.
“On Shabbos 143 we find an argument between BaisShamaiand Bais Hillel which demonstrates their different approaches to dealing with people. The Gemara speaks of how to clear a table of bones and shells. Bais Shamai says that one should remove the refuse. Bais Hillel holds that the table – including the bones and shells – should be lifted to avoid directly carrying the muktzah items.
“As is well known, Bais Shamai acted in accordance with middas hadin, while Bais Hillel comported themselves more with middas hachessed. In light of this, we can understand another level to their argument. When a group of like-minded people are sitting together and one of them doesn’t belong there, his presence is superfluous like shells and bones and he should realize this himself. One may gently act to remove him. They say, ‘Reb Yid, with all due respect, we need to confer together privately.’
“Bais Hillel, however, are worried that even when you say such a thing in a kind tone, your fellow Jew may feel humiliated by such chiding. They therefore maintain that the entire table should be lifted. That is, everyone should get up and start dancing. Eventually, the odd man out will leave and they can confer without shaming him” (Sarfei Kodesh, p. 227).
Shabbos 144: Avoiding the Inevitable
Food rituals for oneg Shabbos are very diverse and should not be disdained. If a particular food brings delight, then Shabbos is the best time to enjoy it.
A guest at a Shabbos meal noticed that his hosts had served grapefruit – cut in halves and eaten with a spoon – as an appetizer. The guest did not eat his grapefruit and after the meal privately pointed out to his host that it was forbidden to eat grapefruit with a spoon on Shabbos. “As is well known, it is forbidden to squeeze juice on Shabbos as we find on Shabbos 144. Many don’t realize that it is prohibited to eat a grapefruit with a spoon, but I heard this explicitly from Rav Nissim Karelitz. He explained that it is a p’sik reisha, since it is inevitable that juice will come out of the grapefruit when eaten in this manner. Since it is normal for people to eat the juice that comes out while spooning this fruit, it is forbidden.”
The host, who was himself a talmid chochom, demurred his polite rebuke. “Thank you for sharing that intriguing view of a true adam gadol. And I also appreciate your sensitivity in waiting until after the meal to bring this up. But you should know that you are mistaken. Although Rav Karelitz likely does hold this way, most Ashkenazic Jews today follow the p’sak of the Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa. This seminal work on hilchos Shabbos was produced under the auspices of Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurebach zt”l, who even reviewed it and wrote a critique on it during his last six months in the world.
“There we find that it is permitted to eat a grapefruit prepared this way despite Rav Karelitz’s misgivings. He explains that using a spoon in this manner is permitted even though the juice will be extracted, since this is considered derech achilah. You surely don’t object to making juice while pulling apart a grapefruit or the like, even if the juice drips into a plate. Using a spoon to eat grapefruits is no different.
“Yet, he does say that one must try his best to avoid squeezing as much as possible, and he is not allowed to have in mind the juice while he is eating” (Chut Shoni, Part II, p. 56; Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa Tinyana, Chapter 5, se’if 12).
Shabbos 145: The Joy of the Festival
The Tzemach Tzedek of Vizhnitz explained a puzzling statement of our sages. “In Shabbos 145 we find that the holidays are joyous in Bavel, since they were not included in the curse of Hoshea Hanovi. This seems very difficult, since Hoshea never said he was cursing only the holidays of one place. If he cursed the festivals in Eretz Yisroel, shouldn’t the same hold true in Bavel as well?
“The answer is that our sages are referring to the second day of Yom Tov, which did not exist during Hoshea’slifetime. It was decreed by the Tanaim later on. Therefore, one can truly rejoice on the second day of the festivals in exile.”
It is important to note that the miracle of Purim also took place after the time of Hoshea. In the words of Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev zt”l, “The miracle of Purim happened enrobed in nature. It therefore has the power to change nature. When we read the Megillah,our very natures are purified and refined and a great illumination is imparted to the entire world – that it exists exclusively for Torah and mitzvos. One who reads or listens to it with kavanah will be filled with joy. He will be filled with yearning to learn Torah and fulfill the mitzvos with joy, just like they accepted the Torah from love in the days of Mordechai and Esther” (Bita’on Vizhnitz, Adar 5765, p. 12; Kedushas Levi, Kedushah Rishonah).
Shabbos 146: To Know, Not to Imagine
Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l explains the effect of receiving the Torah at Har Sinai. “On Shabbos 146 we find that when we received the Torah at Har Sinai, the defilement caused by the sin of eating of the fruit of the Eitz Hadaas was removed. To understand this, we must first have a grasp of the nature of the sin. The Ramban warns that Parshas Bereishis is entirely Kabbolah. One who lacks the perspective of the hidden Torah cannot truly understand one letter of this concealed parsha completely. Nevertheless, it is important to glean some understanding of this sin.
“The primordial serpent was the king of all animals yet was jealous of Chavah. He aroused her imagination. ‘She saw the tree was to eat and was desirable to the eye.’ This is what the yeitzer did. It made the imagination so powerful that it is very difficult to really see and perceive the G-dly character of the world. On Har Sinai this stopped: ‘Now you have been shown to know’ – to know, and not to imagine – ‘that Hashem is G-d.’
“Although we did fall again at the sin of the Golden Calf and lost much of this illumination, it is still with us today. We access it by intoning heartfelt words of prayer and longing for holy goals” (Zeman Matan Toraseinu, p. 276).
Shabbos 147: The Treasurer
On Shabbos 147 we find that on Shabbos it is forbidden to dust off a garment that one is particular about. The Biur Halacha rules that this is a subjective determination. If the one who wants to brush off his garment is particular, it is forbidden. If not, it is permitted. What about dust on something in shul, however? Can the personal feelings of the gabbai determine whether an object can be cleaned or must be left alone?
When this question was presented to Rav Chaim Kanievsky, he replied that it may well be that the gabbai is indeed considered like the owner in this case. “After all, we find in the Yerushalmi that, according to the sages, the treasurer of the Bais Hamikdosh takes terumos and ma’aseros. Perhaps the same is true regarding whether it is permitted to dust off shul property” (Chashukei Chemed, Shabbos p. 716).
Shabbos 148: A Simpler Solution
A householder once hired a worker on Friday, a very busy day for him. When he finished the job, the employer’s wife promised the day laborer that her husband would pay him that very day. But when the employer got home quite late, he was immediately mekabel Shabbos and rushed to shul. When he returned, it was still long before sunset, but he had already davened Maariv early. He wondered if he could go and tell the worker to take the money so as not to violate the Torah requirement to pay a worker on the day he completes a job. On the other hand, as we find on this daf, some hold that adding time to Shabbos is also the fulfillment of a Torah obligation, so perhaps he could not do anything.
When this question was presented to the Ben Ish Chai, he ruled that this man could himself pay his debt, since his acceptance of Shabbos was mistaken and had no validity. His proof is from the Taz regarding a community whose shofar was stolen on Rosh Hashanah which fell out on Erev Shabbos. Although they knew that it was unlikely, they sent a messenger to procure a shofar or find the thief somehow. Shortly before sundown, the man returned with a shofar. Although the community had already accepted Shabbos, the Taz rules that it was in error and they can therefore hear the shofar. If he can find three people to be matir his neder to accept Shabbos, this is even better.”
This is difficult to understand, however. Since he had already davened Maariv, nullifying his acceptance of Shabbos will force him to daven again, presumably causing the Shemonah Esrei of his Maariv to have been levatalah.
When Rav Chaim Kanievsky was consulted about this, he offered a different suggestion. “Why not be makneh the money to the worker? This can be done simply by accepting another’s handkerchief with the understanding that by doing so he is transferring the money to the worker. Although it is forbidden to make a kinyan on Shabbos, this is permitted for a mitzvah.” (Chashukei Chemed, Shabbos, p. 620-621).