Torah Riddles #231

Question: Why is Kiddush Levana, which is said every month sometime during the first half of the month considered a time bound mitzvah that women are exempt but birkas hachama which is said every 28 years is not considered a time bound mitzvah so women are obligated in saying that bracha?


A. Every 28 years the sun begins its spring season on the eve of a Wednesday, at the same moment when it was emplaced in the cosmos. So in a sense, that rare Wednesday is an anniversary of sorts, a milestone that reminds man of the G-D who created him, his sun, and his earth. (Overview in Artscroll series Birchas Hachamah)

B. Kiddush Levana is the prayer said on the new moon. Which can be said anytime in the evening when the moon can be seen from 3 days after the molad, according to Ashkenazim, or 7 days after, according to Sephardim, all the way till about the 15th of the month, each month.

C. Wearing tefillin can technically be done whenever you want but the mitzvah is only during the day therefore it is time bound. One can sit in the Sukkah whenever he wants but there is only a mitzvah on Sukkos therefore it is timebound.

 Answer: The actuality of the sun being in the same spot as where it was from the beginning of time has nothing to do with time, it just happens to be in that same spot at that time period. But the moon, even though it’s found in the sky all the time, we only say a blessing on it the first half of the month, therefore it’s blessing is dependent on time.

Torah Riddles #230

Question: Why did the Chofetz Chaim not make a blessing in the middle of a meal when he ate bread for kamput in his later years but he poskined in the Mishna Berura (177:1:4) that one should make a blessing on kamput even in the middle of a meal where you had washed on bread?


A. The Mishna Berura there says that anything part of the meal, meaning that it’s used to eat a normal meal with, main and sides, like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, cheese, etc. things that also enhance the bread, all don’t need an extra blessing once the blessing on the bread is said at the beginning of the meal. However, add ons, for example any fruit brought in the beginning of the meal or dessert (which is not a mezonos, made out of grains) would require their own blessing. Kamput, cooked fruit, is listed there as an example of something which is used as an appetizer or a dessert which needs its own blessing.

 B. The Sefer Teshuvos ViHanhagos (1:177) brings testimony that the Chofetz Chaim, the author of the Mishna Berura commentary on Shulchan Aruch, that he himself did not say a blessing on kamput and in fact other gedolim would first say a blessing on raw fruit during the meal and then ate the kamput, to exempt the kamput, in doubt.

 Answer: See Dirshu (10) the reason why the Chofetz Chaim did not say a blessing on the kamput towards the end of his life is because that was part of his main meal, not a dessert or appetizer.

Torah Riddles #229

Question: Why do we add the paragraph about Shabbos when we read about Rosh Chodesh on Rosh Chodesh during krias haTorah but the Mishna Berura says there isn’t a maftir aliyah about Shabbos as we have for all other chagim because the paragraph for Shabbos is too short and you can’t add pesukim of a different topic?


A.    The Mishna Berura (283:1:1) says the reason why we don’t take out a second Torah every shabbos to read the mussaf parsha for shabbos in parshas Pinchas is because it only has 2 verses. An aliyah is read with no less than 3 verses, and to combine verses which is not the topic of the day one cannot do.

 Answer: The Dirshu (1) quotes the Taz (Orach Chaim 423:1) who quotes a Ra”n in Megilla 12b in the Rif that says the verses of Shabbos are part of the topic if Rosh Chodesh because Rosh Chodesh sometimes falls out on Shabbos.

Torah Riddles #228

 Question: Why can one forgive a loan on Shabbos if there is a rabbinic prohibition against doing business on Shabbos?


 A. The Mishna Berura (306:6:33) says that business is forbidden on shabbos whether it is just verbally or by actually handing over something, as a rabbinic ordinance lest one might come to write on Shabbos. It is also forbidden to give a gift to a friend because it is like business since there is a transfer of ownership. However the Rabbis permitted a gift to be given if it can be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

 B. Business usually involves an acquisition in which people write up documents as proof that an acquisition was made from one person to another.

Answer: The Dirshu footnote says in the name of Rav Elyashiv that forgiveness of a loan does not need any acquisition therefore it is absolutely permitted on Shabbos. The Responsa Torah Lishma adds that forgiving a loan is unlike business since it is only a removal of a debt. It is a passive act which does not need to lead to any active actions. But one should not do it in front of witnesses because that would be under the category of uvda di’chol, doing mundane things on Shabbos.

Torah Riddles #226

Question: According to Rashi (Brachos 48b) why should a man with only a rabbinic obligation to say Birkas hamazon because he only ate a kazayis of bread, is allowed to lead a zimun but a child who also has a rabbinic obligation to say Birkas hamazon (even if he eats to satiation) cannot lead a zimun?


A. The Torah obligation for Birkas hamazon is eating to the point of satiation as the Torah in Devarim 8:10 says, “And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied and you shall bless Hashem.”

B. The father has an obligation of chinuch to teach his children how to do mitzvos like bentching after eating bread.

 Answer: The rabbinic mitzvah for a child to say Birkas hamazon is an obligation through the father, not his own mitzvah, therefore he cannot really lead a zimun. But the rabbinic mitzvah of one who ate a kazayis of bread is his own mitzvah therefore he is able to lead others who even have a Torah level obligation of Birkas hamazon, in a zimun.

Torah Riddles #225

Question: Let say in the holocaust one stole matzah to save his life because he was starving to death and at the same time he fulfilled the mitzva of eating matza Pesach night, whis he allowed to say a blessing over the stolen matzah?


A. The Mishna Berura (454:4:18) poskins that one may not say a blessing on stolen matza, even if just the ingredients were stolen and turned into matza because it’s considered disgusting to Hashem, so how can one make a blessing, whether on the mitzva of matza or hamotzi, over something disgusting to Hashem that is blasphemy!

B. The Beur Halacha quoting the Beis Meir says that what it means that it’s disgusting to say a blessing is that of course one must say it however he is mentioning his sin with the blessing, though he still has to bless. However the Beur halacha concludes that when in doubt by blessing be lenient and don’t say it.

 C. Chaza”l say that according to the Torah we shall live by it and not die by it.

Answer: Since you are doing what Hashem wants you to do by staying alive, even at the expense of stealing from someone, that is not disgusting and is pleasing to Hashem.

Torah Riddles #224

 Question: Why can one fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah on the seder night let say if it fell out in Shabbos with matzah that he carried in a public domain that night without an eruv but he cannot fulfill the mitzvah with stolen matzah?


A. The Mishna Berura (454:4:14, 15) says a person doesn’t even technically fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah and would have to eat again and say a new bracha if one uses stolen matzah. But if one stole wheat or flour and made matzah he can fulfill the mitzvah because he acquired it with a change in the substance and he just has to pay the owner for the ingredients he stole.

B. The first Beur Halacha in Mishna Berura siman 318 says that if you purposefully carry on Shabbos you can still use it after Shabbos though if you purposefully cooked on Shabbos you can never use it because the Rabbis fined the one who purposefully transgressed Shabbos in a way which will change the item used to do a sin.

Answer: The Be’ur Halacha “vi’li’inyan bracha etc.” Says that the Poskim write that specifically by stolen matza one does not fulfill the mitzvah because the matzah itself came through sin. (According to Rebbe Akiva Aiger putting it into the mouth to eat has to be the means of stealing the object while fulfilling the mitzvah at the same time.) On the other hand, a carrying matza from the private domain to the public domain when Pesach falls out on Shabbos, one can still fulfill his mitzvah with that matza and even say a blessing for it because he is the one that actively transgressed a mitzvah, but the matzah itself isn’t a sin. This means that the matzah itself is deemed stolen matzah hence it’s an object of sin. But the matza that is carried is not deemed to be a status of a sin, it just that the action you did is a sin, totally disconnected from the object therefore when fulfilling the mitzvah it not through a sin in terms of carrying on Shabbos.

Torah Riddles #223

Question: Why does the logic of zeh vizeh gorem help for if salt was added onto a salted dish on the fire but the logic would not help to allow one to read from a fire that was lit by a non-Jew for a Jew on Shabbos right before his light went out?


A. The Mishna Berura (318:9:73) brings down that there is an argument whether adding salt in a kli rishon off the flame is considered cooking on Shabbos, but definitely adding salt onto a pot of food on the flame is forbidden, either way it is permissible to eat the food because the salt is nullified on top of the food. But this is only because the food that was salted before Shabbos because both the salt that was put on permissibly before Shabbos and the salt that was put into the pot prohibitively on Shabbos, i.e., zeh vizeh gorem, one can eat it.

 B. If a person has a candle and because the light is so weak, he can’t read and he transgressed and asked a non-Jew to light a candle for him, it says earlier in the Mishna Berura (276:4:32) that it is forbidden to read from that light.

 Answer: Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach (Dirshu 81) explains that only in regards to salt, that after salt is put on the food it melts and is not recognizable, the Rabbis permitted eating it because zeh vizeh gorem but by the candles, where the added light is recognizable by all, therefore it forbidden to benefit from it.

Torah Riddles #222

Question: Why does Rav Elyashiv poskin that if you can’t find the person you decided to give tzedaka to you can give it to someone else?


A.    The Mishna Berura (694:2:6) says that one should not switch Purim money with other tzedaka. Specifically, the Gabbaim, but a poor person can do what he wants with the money. Meaning that the money collected has to be given out for the needs of purim. The Beis Yosef, quoting Haghos Ashr”i says that money, that one thinks in his heart, he wants to give out to the poor on Purim, should not be changed. The reason is because he holds that tzedaka is like hekdesh and you have to fulfill what’s in your thoughts, even if you don’t say them out.

B.      Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Deah 258:39) says that you can’t change only if you decisively decided in your heart to give to a certain person or place, but if you only thought you want to give this amount everyone agrees you don’t have to fulfill what you thought.

C.     Rav Elyashiv, therefore, poskins that one should not decisively think to give money to a certain gabbai tzedaka if you are unsure if you will find him, rather you should think in your mind that you have no decision until it reaches the intended hands. But both the Chazon Ish and Rav Elyashiv poskin that if you decide to give money to a certain poor person and you can’t find him then you can give it to some other poor person. Why?

D.    We say, Erev Rosh Hashanah by hataras nedarim, “In case I forget the conditions of this declaration and I make a vow from this day onward, from this moment I retroactively regret them and declare them that they are all totally nullified and void, without effect and without validity and they shall not take effect at all. Regarding them all, I regret them from this time and forever. ”

Answer: Rav Elyashiv says that because you can rely on the declaration made by the annul of vows on Erev Rosh Hashanah, since the vow was only in one’s thoughts, then you can give it to another poor person because you must not have decisively decided to give it to a specific person as retroactively revealed by the declaration.

Torah Riddles #221

 Question: Why does Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach allow teenage girls to sing on buses, like on a class trip if they have a Jewish male bus driver? (Even if one or two girls are singing louder than the rest.)


A.    The Mishna Berura (75:3:17) says one should be careful to not listen to a woman singing while reciting the Shema, even your wife, but her normal voice is fine. Other than while reciting the Shema a single girl’s voice is technically not considered forbidden, however now a days we treat her as a nidda who is forbidden just as a married woman or any other illicit relation, and even a non-Jewish woman, are all forbidden for men to listen to them singing. The concern is that it might lead to forbidden thought which possibly could lead to forbidden action.

Answer: While he is driving, he is too busy focusing on the road or distracted by his job so we aren’t concerned that he is really listening to the girls singing. (See Dirshu footnote 27.)