Torah Riddles #227

Question: Why can and should a doctor accept payment for treating on Shabbos but a chazzan cannot be paid for davening on Shabbos, it must be part of an annual or monthly salary?


A.      The Mishna Berura (306:5:24) Say it is forbidden to hire a chazzan to pray on Shabbos, but some allow it, but if his salary is for the year or for the month everyone agrees it is permissible. Those that said you can’t are because you can’t take wages on Shabbos. Those that say you can are because for a mitzvah you can, the rabbis didn’t make any decrees against it but you won’t see any blessing coming from the money earned on Shabbos… But a doula definitely is permitted to take wages for Shabbos.

B.      In Dirshu footnote 21 the Steipler says that even if a doctor does not want to take money for his work on Shabbos it should still be given to him, at least as a gift.

C.      The Pri Megadim says the reason one can take wages for healing is because he is being paid for saving one’s life. But it is still for a mitzvah so why is it different than a Chazzan davening. They are both permitted to do what they do on Shabbos, but one should take payment for what he did on Shabbos and the other shouldn’t technically?

Answer: Healing isn’t just permitted on Shabbos to save a life, it pushes off Shabbos, so once Shabbos is pushed off then it’s permitted to charge, especially since if he does not accept payment this time he might not heal or be lazy to do his job next time on Shabbos and for life and death we’ll do pretty much anything to save a potential life in danger. But a chazzan, though what he is doing is a mitzva by leading the minyan in davening but he is not pushing off Shabbos, so the rabbinic prohibition of accepting wages for Shabbos is still prohibited according to this opinion and certainly will not see any blessing.

Torah Riddles #212

Question: Why can you fix an esrog by just peeling off the place a mouse bit from, though it was disgusting yet you can’t just take out the mouse even if the oil is 60 times more than the mouse that fell into it, in order to use the oil for Chanukah candles since it is disgusting?


  1. The Rema (549:5) says if mice made holes in the esrog one should not use even on other days beside yom tov because it is disgusting, until you remove the spots the mice punctured. The Mishna Berura (37) adds that we are lenient because an incomplete esrog is technically kosher to be used on other days, but just ideally we are stringent here because it was disgusting, therefore when the area that was disgusting is removed it is kosher again. The Sfas Emes brought in the Dirshu (footnote 64 found in the back, page 85) adds that being disgusting only applies to something which is potentially edible and therefore it is considered disgusting to be used for the mitzva but if mice would have nibbled on hadasim or aravos they could still be used.
  2. The Mishna Berura (573:1:3) says if one finds a mouse in the oil, it is disgusting and forbidden to be used for Chanukah light. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah siman 104) says one must remove the mouse if found whole or in parts before eating or drinking the item it fell into like wine, or oil in this case, which means it would be kosher to eat, but only if its taste was nullified in 60 times the liquid it fell into before being taken out. Yet the Mishna Berura still says it’s disgusting and can’t be used for Chanukah oil without mentioning that if taken out it is permitted so the oil must still be forbidden to use to light for Chanukah.

Answer: The oil that the mouse was in is still there even if the mouse was nullified in 60 and then removed so that is still disgusting and cannot be used for the mitzvah. But the area where the mouse took a bite from on the esrog is now gone if shaven off so the esrog is not disgusting anymore and can be used for the mitzvah on all other days besides the first.

Torah Riddles #211

Question: What’s the difference between rinsing off fruit which is forbidden on Shabbos according to the Chazon Ish and rinsing dishes on Shabbos which is permitted on Shabbos according to the Chazon Ish?


A. The Mishna Berura (319:8:28) says that one cannot soak fruits or vegetables in water to get off dirt on shabbos because it is borer (choosing bad from the good, using the water as a utensil).

B. The gemara in Shabbos 118b says you are allowed to rinse your dishes in running water or dip then in and out to clean the dishes because it’s cleaning not borer. Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach and Rav Elyashiv all have a side to say that one can also rinse fruit and vegetables for the same reason as the dishes that it’s just cleaning not borer, if you do it right before you eat it. But Rav Elyashiv says it’s better to rinse fruit and vegetables before shabbos.

C. Hint: Borer is fixing the object being chosen.

Answer: Dirshu footnote 32: Rav Nissim Karelitz explains the Chazon Ish’s view that since borer is fixing the object being chosen, but vessels, since the way of using vessels is to use them, wash them and clean them off after each usage, then rinsing the vessel from its dirt is not considered fixing the vessel. But removing the dirt from fruits and vegetables is fixing the fruit and is considered borer. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach adds that vessels last a while, so even if there is dirt or food stuck to it, it’s not a mixture and removing it isn’t considered washing or borer, however food, since it’s nature is to rot and go bad, therefore if dirt or the like is mixed in with it, then removing it is considered borer.

Torah Riddles Test #205

2.       Question: Why don’t Yerushalmi citizens tear kriah over seeing the Temple Mount in ruins and taken over by Muslims, as per Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach?


A.      The Mishna Berura (561:2:6) says that upon seeing the ruins of Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdash one should bow and tear his clothes in mourning and say certain supplications, see there, if one has not been in Yerushalayim or seen the Temple Mount more than thirty days.

 Answer: Rav Shlomo Auerbach explains the Yerushalmi custom that because the citizens have the ability to easily go and see the site of the Beis Hamikdash but they don’t then it is apparent they don’t really feel too much pain over the destruction and therefore the custom for them is not to tear even if they do visit the Kosel. This applies to all Yerushalmis even those that live in the new outskirts of Yerushalayim. One can even nullify his vow to tear once he knows it is a valid custom for a Jerusalem citizen not to tear. (See footnote in the back of the Dirshu Mishna Berura, volume 6, page 23 on the bottom.) 

Torah Riddles Test #198

1.    Question: If you are on the way out of your house why can you say a blessing inside on a sucking candy for example and then walk out of the house without needing to say another blessing?


A. The Mishna Berura (178:4:31) elaborates that there is a difference between bread which “needs a blessing in its place” where one can technically finish eating in some other house from where he started or can walk out and come back without needing to make a new blessing, whereas fruits or drinks need a new blessing once one left his house where he started eating even if he goes back to it.

B. The Mishna Berura (42) says if they had in mind to have the meal in the place, they said hamotzi and changed their minds to finish on the road, then as long as they can see their original place they can still eat because it’s considered one area. But if they can’t see because they are so far away or because trees blocking then it’s considered changing places and for fruit, you’d have to make a second blessing and for bread technically it’s fine to continue eating but they should ideally say birkas hamazon in the place where they started. However, if they originally had in mind to eat some in their place and the rest in transit then it works even if trees are blocking the way from seeing where they started to eat, because only from house to house does one blessing not work for fruits and one must go back and make a new blessing, and by bread having in mind to eat on the way even ideally works.

Answer: Rav Moshe Feinstein poskins that one only has to make a new blessing when he was originally planning staying at home but if he is on his way out of his house it is as if he blessed on the road and does not need to make a new blessing like any other traveler. This blessing works even for another candy which he might pop into his mouth on the way (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 178:4:42:26).

Torah Riddles Test #183

2. Question: Why does the Eliah Rabba (447:1) differentiate between a hot piece of food (for example meat) which a kernel of wheat fell on it and a hot and wet ladle which had a kernel of wheat fall on it in terms of them being able to transfer the taste of that wheat kernel into a cooked dish?


A. By the meat he says the taste of the kernel cannot be transferred into anything else by the ladle he says the taste of the kernel can be transferred.

B. When a wheat kernel, supposedly chometz, falls onto the food or ladle on Pesach it must be removed and destroyed but now there is a very little amount of taste that is transferred into the meat or wet ladle if they are hot. However in terms of the meat we apply the axiom of “trei mashehu lo amrinan” meaning two insignificant amounts we are not bothered by, which means that the taste of chometz is so little we aren’t concerned that it got transferred to the next item that the meat was put into. But we are concerned about the transference of taste of chometz into the food that the ladle now mixes, why?

 Answer: When taste is mixed into food it sticks to the wall of the food and gets mixed up in it so never comes back out but by a spoon since whatever taste is inside it is not the spoon’s it comes from the outside it doesn’t get stuck to the spoon and easily comes out when mixed into the next thing it is used for. (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 467:footnote 41.)

Torah Riddles Test #182

1.    Question: Why can’t we say a shehecheyanu on making matzah but we could say a shehecheyanu on making the Sukkah?


 A. The Magen Avraham (641:1) says we don’t make a shehecheyanu on making a shofar and megilla because these are mitzvos that could be used for many years.

B. Tosfos in Kesubos 72a “visafra lah” says that a woman who has a flow (zavah) does not make a blessing on her counting of 7 days though it’s a mitzvah to count like the omer because maybe her count will get messed up with seeing blood again within 7 days.

Answer: We don’t says a blessing or shehecheyanu on making matzos because maybe they will become chometz in the process and won’t be able to be used on Pesach just like the zavah whose count of 7 days might get ruined. (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 453 footnote 26.)

Torah Riddles Test #180

1.       Question: Why are the matzos set aside for the mitzvah of eating them on Pesach only muktzah when Pesach eve falls out on Shabbos but not on any other Shabbos?


A.      Muktzah literally means set aside. It is a rabbinic restriction prohibiting the movement of certain objects on Shabbos in order to preserve the sanctity of the day and avoid possible desecration.

B.      Three examples of categories of muktzah which might all apply in this case are (a) muktzah machmas chisaron kis: delicate objects used for their intended purpose because of their costliness like stationary, fountain pen, violin, electric microscope, shechita knife or camera, and (b) muktzah machmas mitzvah: Objects whose use are limited to involvement with mitzvos like a lulav and esrog, a megillah, or shofar. (c) muktzah machman gufo: Object that are not utensils and have no ordinary Shabbos function like raw potatoes, untithed fruit, dirt, rocks, money, etc.

C.      It is rabbinicly forbidden to eat matzah on erev Pesach.

D.      All other Shabbosim, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach says the matzah is like yom tov clothing which you would only wear on yom tov, not Shabbos.

  Answer: Since it can’t be eaten or even given to the birds on erev Pesach then it is muktzah on Shabbos erev Pesach but on any other Shabbos, though you would not eat them and you are saving them for Pesach but they are potentially edible so they are not muktzah and can be moved on any other Shabbos. (See back of Dirshu Mishna Berura page 7, siman 443, footnote 8)

Torah Riddles Test #177

2.    Question: Why can you have a snack before fulfilling the mitzvah of lulav and esrog if it’s delayed coming to you but if you are going to a later minyan to hear megilla you should not even snack until after you hear megilla?


A. The fast of Taanis Esther ends at nightfall but you shouldn’t eat anything until after you fulfill the mitzvah (of megilla) just as you shouldn’t eat anything until after you fulfill any other mitzvah like lulav or shofar etc.

 B. There is more of a mitzvah to fulfill the megilla reading in a congregation in order to publicize the miracle.

 Answer: You can taste before lulav and esrog if there is a delay because it’s a mitzvah you do by yourself. But megilla should be read in a group and we are concerned even if you eat a snack you might miss the mitzvah all together or at least the start of the reading, which means you’d have to hear it again by yourself not in a group. (Dirshu Mishna Berura back page 131 footnote 32)

Torah Riddles Test #167

2.    Question: Why does a lack of kavanah for making the tzitzis for the sake of the mitzvah a problem as soon as the strings are put into the hole but this concept of making it properly in order and not out of order and just falling into place is only an issue once you start tying the strings, especially if they are learned out of the same verse?


A.   An example of out of order would be folding and pushing through one big string through the hole then cutting it into 8 strings so that they can be tied.

B.   Another example is tying the strings before the corners were made into real corners instead of rounded.

 Answer: The mitzvah process starts as soon as the strings start going through the hole so you need proper intent but you didn’t actually start making something until you start tying so have a bit more time to get it into the right order.