Torah Riddle #242

Question: what would be the reason why kitniyos is muktza on Yom tov and Shabbos of Pesach in a community which has no sfardim and are far away from any sfardim? Background:

1. The Mishna Berura (308:52:169-170) says that which is muktzah for the wealthy is muktzah, and even the poor cannot carry them. That means that which is owned by the wealthy, which is a size less that 3 tefachim × 3 tefachim is normally considered absolutely useless to the rich person, like a rag (a rope would not count) so he takes it out of his mind and is muktzah on Shabbos for everyone.

2. Vice versa, anything less than 3×3 in a poor person house is not considered muktzah even for a wealthy person since it’s owned by the pauper and he has a use for it.

3. When it comes to prohibitions, the fact that you own it and deem it useless for you does not make it muktzah, for example if you swear never to eat bread, bread is not muktzah because you can still handle it and give it out to others.

4. The Rema (612:10) poskins that one may handle food on Yom Kippur in order to give to children. But Rav Elyashiv poskins that if one is on an army base far away from any settlement then food is muktzah on Yom Kippur.

Answer: Because there are no Sfardim around in your community on Pesach then kitniyos should be muktzah since they are taken out of your mind and useless like food on the army base on Yom Kippur, though Rav Elyashiv in general holds kitniyos is not muktzah on pesach. (See Dirshu footnote 179 in siman 308.)

Torah Riddle #241

Question: Why is it halachically permissible to tell a non-Jewish store owner to provide chometz food to your workers and you’ll pay for it on Pesach but you can’t tell him to give chometz pet food to your cow, etc. on the farm that you can slaughter?


A. Mishna Berura (448:7:29-33) it says that it’s forbidden to give your animal to a non-Jew on Pesach to feed it if you know he’ll feed it barley chometz. It doesn’t make a difference whether he gave it to the non-Jew for free or is paying him to feed his animal it’s forbidden because he is getting benefit from the chometz that’s being used to fatten up his animal. Chometz, even belonging to a non-Jew is forbidden to benefit from. However if the non-Jew did feed the cow chometz, the meat from the cow isn’t forbidden to the owner after it is slaughtered.

 B. The Mishna Berura (550:6:16-19) says that halachically one may pay a grocery store belonging to a non-Jew for providing food to his slaves/workers on Pesach even if it’s chometz even though the Jew is supposed to be supporting his workers and benefits from them being healthy and strong to be able to work for him. (Those that argue only say it’s forbidden because one is paying his workers/slaves with forbidden benefits.)

Answer: The Nishmas Adam says (see Dirshu footnote 104) the point of feeding the slave isn’t to fatten him up but to give him energy to work therefore the benefit the master gets isn’t from him being filled with the chometz but the work that the slave does for the master, where as technically the animal is being fattened by the chometz and therefore it’s a juicier meat which one will benefit from when he eats it therefore it’s forbidden. However the reason why the meat is edible if done is because of the rule of “ze vinegar gorem” if both permissible food and forbidden food was used to fatten the the animal then it is permissible because can get benefit from both, you just shouldn’t ideally work in that fashion.

Torah Riddle #241

Question: If one went away within 30 days of Pesach and doesn’t get back until during Pesach or even if he is not back until after Pesach is it better for him to check before he leaves or appoint a messenger to check erev Pesach, the night before the seder? And what’s the indication that which one is better?


A. The Mishna Berura 436:1:1 says that if someone is traveling from land to sea or in a caravan to some far-off place, then he should search his house the night before he leaves without making a blessing on the bedika. If one appoints a messenger to check at the right time, then he does not have to check before going away because a messenger is like himself.

B. There is a concept in halacha that it is better to perform the mitzva yourself more than appointing a messenger to do it for you.

Answer: It is better to appoint a messenger to check for you on erev pesach at night. The proof is that you cannot say a blessing if you checked early but if the messenger checked for you the night of the 14th he would say a blessing. (Shevet HaLevi 9:18, see Dirshu footnote 1.)

Torah Riddles #240

Question: Why does the Mishna Berura (103:2:3) quote in the name of the Chayei Adam that a certain red fruit (similar to strawberries) that grow in forests its blessing is “ha’adama” but technically if you say a “ha’etz” you should eat a little bite so that you won’t waste the blessing and quickly eat another food that is for sure a blessing of “ha’adama” or “shehakol” and have it the red fruit in mind just in case. But if a person had a bunch of fruits in front of him some are “ha’adama” like melon and some are “ha’etz” like apples and he said a “ha’adama” with all of them in mind, where there is an argument whether the blessing can count for the fruit that are “ha’etz”, the Mishna Berura(206:2:10) poskins that when in doubt by blessings one should be lenient and not say anymore blessings, but it is better to decide not to eat the fruit (apples) immediately and wait a while and then make a “ha’etz ” on the apples. Why don’t we say when in doubt don’t make another blessing by this red fruit, and immediately go find another food to make a blessing on?


A. This same concept applies when one is already in the middle of a meal and breaks to say kiddush. There is a question if the kiddush is a distraction in the meal and one will have to wash again but the Mishna Berura (271:4:18) poskins that when in doubt don’t say a blessing and they can keep on eating without washing and saying a blessing on bread again.

 B. If one is unsure whether he said a blessing of “hamotzi” then he can continue eating and doesn’t need to make any other blessings for the food in the meal because when in doubt one cannot make a blessing and must be lenient. “Safek brachos lihakel.”

Answer: It seems according to the Chaye Adam that the main blessing for this red fruit is really “ha’adama” therefore it might be saying “ha’etz” does absolutely nothing, not even a question therefore it’s best to find another food, vegetable for “ha’adama” or a “shehakol” food and have this red fruit in mind when making the blessing.

Torah Riddles #239

 Question: What’s the difference between birkas hamazon and shemone esray? Why does the Ramban brought in the Magen Avraham (192:1) hold that if you only know one paragraph (blessing) of birkas hamazon you can say that even if you don’t know the rest but Beur Halacha in siman 593 says in the name of the Nahar Shalom that if you know only one paragraph of Shemone esray then you can’t just say that one paragraph for the prayer of shemone esray?


A. The Beur Halacha also says that the Magen Avraham (593:2) who seems to argue by Shemone esray really hold that you do fulfill a Torah level mitzvah of praying even if you just say one paragraph of shemone esray but you don’t fulfill the mitzva of shemone esray where as you would fulfill the mitzvah of birkas hamazon if you only say one paragraph.

B. Though Shemone Esray is made of 18 different blessings it’s different than the 3 different blessings of Birkas hamazon. 

Answer: Shemone esray the concept of asking mercy from Hashem and therefore it’s a prayers which is considered one unit so if you leave something out then the unit if prayer is lacking and doesn’t count but Birkas hamazon isn’t a prayer, it’s a bunch of blessings so one doesn’t effect the other according to the Ramban. The Magen Avraham does bring down the view of the Rif that all blessings of Birkas hamazon are connected so if you only know one then you can’t say Birkas hamazon at all.

Torah Riddles #238

Question: Why by pikuach nefesh, saving someone’s life who might be in danger, let’s say on Shabbos, we are not concerned for the majority and if for example a building collapsed and most people inside are gentiles but there might be a Jew there we are allowed to search for him on Shabbos but when it comes to dinei nefashos, judging life and death circumstances we do rely on the majority to help with two witnesses in order to sentence someone to death, but isn’t this a case of pikuach nefesh also for if one must save a person at all costs one definitely can’t kill someone? (Kovetz Shiurim Bava Basra 225)


A. The mitzvah to save a Jew’s life even at the expense of transgressing mitzvos is based on verse of “vichai bahem” that the mitzvos are to live by not die by. The mitzvah to sentence one to death if he transgressed a sin of that severity is “uviarta hara mikirbecha” you shall wipe out the evil from amongst you.

B. By pikuach nefesh there are two factors, the mitzvah of saving a life, and the mitzvah being transgressed. By dinei nefashos there are two factors: the mitzvah of eliminating evil and the mitzvah of saving a Jew’s life.

 C. In both cases where is the source of the doubt in question and which one is the after effect that just has to be taken into consideration?

 Answer: In terms of saving one’s life the source of the question is whether there is a mitzvah now to save one’s life and the byproduct is desecrating Shabbos so the verse of “you shall live by them” resolves the main question at hand and says Shabbos should be transgressed even if there is a small possibility that it’s saving a Jew, just like if one definitely knows he is saving a Jew. But by laws that concern capital punishment where the question is whether to blot out evil or not then if the majority resolves that question then which is the main question at hand then there is no doubt of needing to save a life since that’s just a byproduct of what the real issue is that is wiping out evil, which the majority poskined can be done so the minority issue of saving a life doesn’t exist anymore.

Torah Riddles #237

Question: Why does the Ra”n (Beitza 17a “umiha”) hold that if one needs 2 figs to save one’s life and he must pick them off the tree on shabbos and he has a branch with 2 figs or a branch with 3 figs in front of him but he cuts down the branch with 3 figs on shabbos, he transgressed a Torah level prohibition (arguing on the R’I and Rashba who say it’s rabbinic) because adding to the measure is a Torah level issue, and though he cut only one branch but it had the 3rd unneeded fig then he sinned and yet if one steals a sack of 100 dollar bills why did he transgress the prohibition of stealing once and not 100 times?


A. To transgress a Torah prohibition of Shabbos one has to perform a “meleches machsheves” which is “an act of craftsmanship ” meaning it has to be done with intent, knowing what you are doing, the act was done for the same purpose as done in the Mishkan, in its normal way, constructive, and will cause a permanent result.

B. 2 out of 3 figs were allowed to be picked for the sake of saving the sick person’s life but the branch with the two figs should have been cut off so that there would not have been any prohibition.

C. One is liable for the act of stealing, for example the Ketzos 348:2 proves from a Rashi in the first chapter of Bava Metzia that you are only liable for stealing someone else’s pet who walked into your property if you close your gate so that the animal cannot get out because you did an act which stole it from the owner.

Answer: By stealing because the act is the prohibition then only one act of taking the bag of cash is liable not the hundred bills that’s in the bag.(though you have to pay all hundred back but G-d only counts it as one sin.) But since on Shabbos it’s not only the act but it’s meleches machsheves and though you did only one act of cutting down the branch but with the intent of getting 3 figs when you only need 2 to save the guy’s life so he is liable for that 3rd fig not needed.

Torah Riddles # 236

Question: Why does the Sefer Hachinuch (mitzvah 2) hold that the mitzvah of mila is not upon the father once his son is bar mitzvah if it was not done yet but in mitzvah 392 he holds that pidyon haben is still a mitzvah on the father even if he didn’t do it after his son turned bar mitzvah?


A. The Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 444:11) says that every second one does not have a bris is a transgression (non fulfillment) of the positive mitzvah.

 B. The father has to do pidyon haben to the son even if the son died (after 30 days of life) and the mitzvah wasn’t done yet.

  Answer: As long as a man is an aral, uncircumcised, every second with foreskin is another transgression of a new positive mitzvah so when he turns 13 it’s a new positive mitzvah so the bar mitzvah boy takes this new mitzvah and the father is done. But by pidyon haben the obligation is not due to the fact that the son is not redeemed yet, for even if the son dies the father must still do the processes of redeeming him to perform the mitzva, rather the Torah requires the father to redeem him, and if so the obligation isn’t one the renews itself constantly, rather it is a one time obligation that starts when he is born (after 30 days of life) and lasts forever as long as it is not done. For this reason the mitzvah isn’t being newly forsaken every second, rather one has to get it done as soon as possible, therefore even once the boy grows up the father is still obligated since the original mitzvah has not gone away yet, and even if the father dies, the son just takes over the obligation of the original mitzvah.

Torah Riddles #235

1.      Question: If the Be’ur Halacha (in 657) says according to the Shulchan Aruch you must buy a child a kosher set of lulav and esrog because proper chinuch is to teach him how to do the mitzvah properly, but a child can’t do it properly anyways since in siman 60 we say that mitzvos must be done with kavana, proper intent and a child can’t have halachic kavana, so if he can’t perform the mitzva anyways then why are we required to buy him a kosher set?


A. There is a famous chakira about what it means that mitzvos need proper intent: a. Does the intent make the action, meaning that it’s only considered an action of a mitzva with the intent but without the proper intent it is just a regular action not counting as an action of a mitzva.

b. The action by itself is considered an action of a mitzva even without proper intent, but the reason why we need the intent is for the fulfillment of the mitzvah, for there are two parts to the fulfillment of a mitzva, the action of the mitzvah and the proper intent for the mitzvah.

 Answer: If you say like side b then it makes sense because using a kosher set of lulav and esrog allows him to have a proper action of a mitzva, and his mind is saying he would like to perform that mitzvah, it’s just that it’s a mind of a child which can’t have proper intent but the parent is still doing all that he can to show the child how to perform the mitzva properly.

Torah Riddle #234

  1. Question: The Minchas Chinuch (mitzvah 313) asks why women aren’t exempt from the other 4 afflictions of Yom Kippur besides eating which she is obligated because it is both a positive and negative mitzvah but the other 4 are only Torah level positive mitzvos according to the Sefer Hachinuch. (Tosfos and the Rosh hold they are rabbinic.) Therefore, according to the Sefer Hachinuch why aren’t women exempt from the other 4 because they are time bound mitzvos?


A. The 4 other afflictions are not wearing leather shoes, not having relations, not washing nor anointing.

B. In terms of the positive mitzvah and prohibition of eating on Yom Kippur the basis of the prohibition is to afflict or withhold from yourself. The Torah says one should not eat on Yom Kippur lest he will be liable for kares, the punishment of being cut off from the nation. All other afflictions are positive mitzvos not a prohibition in the Torah.

Answer: Since the umbrella mitzvah is afflicting oneself on Yom Kipper, then even though not eating is the only prohibition which women are for sure obligated in then all the other positive mitzvos are schlepped along under this umbrella mitzvah so women are obligated in all 5 of them.