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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Rosh Hashana

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.For final rulings, consult your Rav.


EATING BEFORE TEKIAS SHOFAR

There are conflicting customs in regard to eating before Tekias shofar. Some communities not only permit but encourage the congregants to eat by serving a kiddush, while others forbid eating altogether and object to it strongly(1). These customs are based on divergent views among the poskim.

Basically, the poskim fall into three groups:(2) Some are very strict and prohibit eating altogether(3). Others are lenient and allow anyone to eat before Tekias shofar4. A third group allows eating only for the weak, elderly or ill(5). They do stipulate, however, that the infirm individual should eat in private so that the prohibition will not be taken lightly by others.

Since both customs have valid sources in the poskim, each community should follow its own custom as directed by their Rav(6). However, all poskim agree that it is forbidden to be kov'ea seudah (partake of a meal) before Tekias shofar. [It is similarly forbidden to be kov'ea seudah before shaking a lulav or reading the megillah(7)]. It is also the general consensus that eating more than a k'beitzah of bread(8) or cake(9) is considered kevius seudah. A k'beitzah is usually defined as approximately 2 oz., although according to the measurements of the Chazon Ish, a k'beitzah is 3.5 oz(10). It is important, therefore, to remember not to eat more than a k'beitzah of cake when eating before Tekias shofar(11).

Eating fruit, cheese, kugel, rice cereals, etc., whether raw or cooked, is not considered kevius seudah even when a large amount is consumed(12). [Consequently, when estimating the amount of cake that may be eaten before Tekias shofar, only the amount of flour in the cake is included. Fruit, cheese, or any other ingredient baked along with the dough is not counted towards the amount for kevius seudah(13).]

Almost all the poskim agree that drinking tea, coffee, juice or soft drinks is permitted before Tekias shofar, but they disagree as to whether one should recite Kiddush first. Since Kiddush must be followed by a seudah, many poskim advise that the beverage should be drunk without Kiddush(14), and this is an accepted custom in some communities. Since not all poskim agree, however(15), the preferred option is to hear Kiddush from a weak, elderly or ill person who is permitted to eat(16), as stated above. Another option would be to drink an additional revi'is (about 3.3 fl. oz.) of grape juice, in addition to the amount being drunk for kiddus(17).

WOMEN

The restriction on eating before Tekias shofar is more lenient in regard to women, because they are generally exempt from "time-bound" mitzvos like listening to the shofar which is restricted to a certain time of the year and day(18). There are, however, poskim who hold that although women are technically exempt from listening to shofar, they have, nevertheless, accepted this mitzvah upon themselves as an obligation(19). Based on this view, it has become customary all over the world for women to go to shul to listen to the shofar, or else to hear the shofar blown in their homes by a qualified ba'al tokei'a.

Not all poskim, however, agree that women have accepted upon themselves an obligation from which they are clearly exempt(20). Some poskim rule, therefore, that women are not obligated to listen to Tekias shofar(21). As stated earlier, though, the custom has followed the first view and most women observe this mitzvah stringently. Still, a woman who must eat before Tekias shofar may do so(22), even if the amount of food she requires is considered a kevius seudah.

SHABBOS

When the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos and Tekias shofar is canceled, all poskim agree that it is permitted to recite Kiddush and eat before Mussaf, provided that the amount eaten is less than a kevius seudah(23). One who is weak and needs to eat more than that amount may eat as much as he needs(24).

One who did not drink before davening and realizes that Mussaf will end after chatzos is required to drink or eat something before Mussaf, since on Shabbos it is prohibited to fast past chatzos(25).

DURING THE BREAK

During the break before Tekias shofar, care should be taken that at least a minyan remains in shul, since Shulchan Aruch(26) rules decisively that it is prohibited for the congregation to leave the shul before the Sifrei Torah are returned to the Aron. If this cannot be arranged, several poskim suggest that the Sifrei Torah be returned to the Aron before the break(27). In other shuls, the Sifrei Torah are covered with a tallis and somebody is appointed to watch over them(28).

In most shuls, the break before Tekias shofar, whether Kiddush is served or not, is a short one. Consequently, even if one removes his tallis, no blessing is recited when it is put back on. [This is so even if one used the bathroom while his tallis was off.] If, however, there is a long break [a break of over two hours is considered a long break(29)] then a blessing is recited over the tallis when it is put back on(30).

FOOTNOTES:

1 See remarks by Harav Y.Y. Henkin, ha-Pardes, Tishrei 5730.

2 Interestingly enough, Shulchan Aruch does not discuss this prohibition concerning Tekias shofar, although he does mention it concerning netilas lulav (O.C. 652:2) and the reading of Megillas Esther (O.C. 692:4). The source of this halachah, however, which is a Tosefta in the first chapter of Shabbos, lists Tekias shofar among those other mitzvos.

3 Beis Yitzchak Y.D. 2:18; M'harsham 1:1 quoting Besamim Rosh. See also Sedei Chemed (Daled Minim 3:22).

4 Mikroei Kodesh 29; Tzitz Eliezer 6:7; 7:32; 8:21; Moadim u'Zemanim 1:4; Az Nidberu 1:10 This has become the accepted custom in many Yeshivos.

5 Chasam Sofer Y.D. 7; Mateh Efrayim 588:2; Sha'arei Teshuvah 584:3; Minchas Yitzchak 5:11; Shevet ha-Levi 4:54. This seems to be the view of the Mishnah Berurah (see 652:7 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun concerning lulav) as well. Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Nishmas Avraham 585:1) maintains that the Mishnah Berurah's opinion is more stringent concerning shofar because the eating on Rosh Hashanah necessitates Kiddush.

6 If at all possible, those who eat before Tekias shofar should do so on the shul premises where they will be summoned in time for the tekios.

7 The Rabbis forbade partaking of a meal before performing a mitzvah since one could easily become distracted and forget to perform the mitzvah in question. It follows, therefore, that if one appoints a shomer - another individual who is not eating who will remind him to perform the mitzvah - he may eat before performing the mitzvah (Mishnah Berurah 235:18 concerning Kerias Shema).

8 Mishnah Berurah 692:14. [See, however, Chayei Adam 119:7 and Aruch ha-Shulchan 431:26 who allow only a k'zayis of bread.]

9 Pri Megadim O.C. 431:4. See Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 286:7 and Mishnah Berurah 639:15.

10 One who generally follows the Chazon Ish's ruling regarding shiurim can surely rely on him concerning this halachah as well. It is questionable, however, if it is proper to rely on the Chazon Ish's measurement in regard to this halachah only.

11 Pure mezonos cereals [whose raw batter rises like bread dough], e.g., Cheerios, Grape Nuts, Wheat Chex, are also considered like cake.

12 O.C. 286:3 and 639:2.

13 Based on Igros Moshe O.C. 1:71 and Divrei Yoel 13.

14 See Elef ha-Magen 585:2 and Ktzei ha-Mateh, ibid.

15 See Divrei Yoel 1:29.

16 See Sedei Chemed (Rosh Hashanah 2:31) and Mikroei Kodesh 28. It is important that Kiddush be repeated before the meal, since some maintain that such a Kiddush is not valid.

17 Mishnah Berurah 273:27.

18 O.C. 589:6.

19 Maharil (Hilchos Shofar). See also Magen Avraham (O.C. 489:1, concerning sefiras ha-omer) who says that women have accepted [certain] time-restricted mitzvos as obligations. He does not, however, single out shofar more than any other time-restricted mitzvah. Chayei Adam (141:7) and R' Akiva Eiger (Teshuvos 1, addendum) also state that women have accepted shofar as an obligation.

20 See Minchas Chinuch 306, who questions the Magen Avraham quoted above. In his opinion, women can only accept a mitzvah whose obligation is questionable, such as davening Ma'ariv. A mitzvah from which they are clearly exempt, like listening to shofar blowing, cannot be "accepted." See also Nezirus Shimshon (quoted in Sdei Chemed, Ma'areches Mem, 136) and Teshuvos Sha'arei De'ah 2:237.

21 Harav Y. C. Sonnenfeld in Salmas Chayim 1:88. Note also that neither the Mateh Efrayim, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Mishnah Berurah or Aruch ha-Shulchan quote the opinion that women have accepted Tekias shofar as an obligation.

22 Chayei Adam 141:7; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:19.

23 O.C. 286:3.

24 Mishnah Berurah 286:9.

25 Mishnah Berurah 584:5; Elef ha-Magen 597:2.

26 O.C. 149:1.

27 Ktzei ha-Mateh 590; Orchos Rabbeinu 2:181, relating the custom by the Chazon Ish and the Steipler Gaon; Nitei Gavriel, pg. 84; Kitzur Hilchos Moadim, pg. 45.

28 Luach D'var Yom b'Yomo.

29Ketzos ha-Shulchan 8:7; Kitzur Hilchos Moadim, pg. 45.

30 Entire paragraph based on Shulchan Aruch Harav O.C 8:23 and Mishnah Berurah 8:37.


Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2000 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross andProject Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of YavneTeachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a dailyMishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir benHinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr.Jeffrey Gross jgross@torah.org.

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of CongregationShomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRavYisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra


 






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