QUESTION: Is a berachah rishonah required when tasting food?
DISCUSSION: A berachah is required only when food is swallowed; if
food is merely tasted but not swallowed, no berachah is said. Thus one who
tastes a food to determine whether or not it needs spices or other
ingredients but does not swallow it, does not recite a berachah.(1)
But even if one intends to swallow the food that he samples a berachah is
still not recited, since many Rishonim are of the opinion that only food
eaten for enjoyment requires a berachah, not food which is being tested
for palatability.(2) In order to avoid a questionable situation, one
should recite a berachah rishonah only in the following manner.(3) Either:
Taste and swallow at least 3 oz. of liquid or 1 oz. of solid food;(4)
Swallow the food with the dual intention of tasting and enjoying it;
Recite a berachah over a different food that requires that same
[Chewing gum requires a she'hakol,(6) since one swallows the gum's sugar
or artificial sweetener. A berachah acharonah, however, is not recited
since the minimum amount required for a berachah acharonah is not
The same halachah applies regarding smelling something to determine
whether or not it has a pleasant fragrance. The required berachah over
fragrances is not recited, since the intention of the smelling is not for
enjoyment but rather for testing the quality of the fragrance.(7)
QUESTION Are there any mourning restrictions on a child, sibling or
of someone who is sitting shivah?
DISCUSSION: In Chazal's times, a child or a sibling of a mourner
shivah along with him, which meant that all of the restrictions that were
placed on the mourner were followed by his child or sibling as well.
Although today we longer conduct ourselves in this manner, it is still
customary in many communities that siblings, children and spouses(8)
participate in some limited way with the mourners.(9) Since this custom
was not universally accepted,(10) one should consult his rav to determine
his community's custom.
Even among communities that practice this custom, there are varying
degrees as to what is restricted. It is, however, generally accepted that
one does not attend weddings or eat any other meals outside of his home
including a seudas mitzvah of any type or meals which are social get-
togethers.(11) Also, one should avoid taking a hot bath or shower.(12)
[Others are even more stringent: Relatives do not change their clothes
(except for Shabbos), take a haircut, shave or cut their nails.(13)]
The poskim debate whether or not restrictions on relatives apply when the
mourner is sitting shivah in another city.(14)
All of these restrictions are in effect only from the day of the burial
through the end of that week; once Motzaei Shabbos arrives these
restriction are lifted, even if the shivah began on Friday.(15)
QUESTION: May one who does not use the city eiruv [for carrying on
ask another person who does use the eiruv to carry on his behalf?
DISCUSSION: The answer will depend upon the reason why the first
does not make use of the eiruv. If, in his opinion or in the opinion of
his halachic authority, the eiruv is not valid and may not be used at all,
then he may not ask another person to carry for him either. This is
because he is asking the other person to do something which is not
halachically permitted. But if, in his opinion or in the opinion of his
halachic authority, the eiruv is valid, yet he chooses to be stringent and
not use the eiruv, it is permitted to ask another person to carry on his
behalf. In this case, the other person is not performing an halachically
The same principle applies in other areas of halachah. For example:
Contemporary poskim disagree whether or not it is permitted to lift off
the tab of a soda or a beer can on Shabbos.(16) One who does not remove
tabs because he adheres to the halachic opinion that forbids it, may not
ask another person to open a can on his behalf. If, however, it is only a
personal stringency but in theory he agrees that it is permissible, he is
allowed to ask another person who opens soda cans to open one for him as
May a person who keeps Shabbos until 72 minutes past sunset ask another
person who waits less than 72 minutes to perform a forbidden
Shabbos "Labor" for him before 72 minutes are up? Again, it will depend on
the previously mentioned principle. If waiting 72 minutes is based on a
strict halachic interpretation, then asking someone else to do a forbidden
Labor is like asking him to be mechalel Shabbos. If, however, keeping 72
minutes is a personal stringency or a family custom, it is permitted to
ask another person who does not have this stringency or custom
to "transgress" Shabbos on your behalf.(17)
1 O.C. 210:2.
2 Mishnah Berurah 210:19; Igros Moshe O.C. 1:79.
3 If none of the following options is practical, one should not recite a
berachah even though he is going to swallow the food which he is tasting.
4 Mishnah Berurah 210:14; Igros Moshe O.C. 1:80.
5 Igros Moshe O.C. 1:79, based on Chayei Adam 49:5.
6 Based on Igros Moshe O.C. 2:57.
7 V'zos ha-Berahcah, pg. 324, quoting oral rulings from Harav M. Feinstein
and Harav C.P. Scheinberg.
8 Spouses participate in mourning only when when the deceased is either
their father-in-law or their mother-in-law; see Gesher ha-Chayim 19:5-3.
9 This custom is recorded by the Rishonim and quoted by the Rama Y.D.
374:4 and by almost all of the latter poskim, including the Chochmas Adam
161:5, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 203:2 and Gesher ha-Chayim 19:3-5, as common
10 Knesses ha-Gedolah Y.D. 374 writes that this custom was not practiced
in his area at all. See also Aruch ha-Shulchan 374:16 who remarks
that "some" are not careful about these restrictions. Harav M. Feinstein
is quoted as orally ruling that it is not the custom nowadays. Sefaradim,
too, do not practice this custom; Yalkut Yosef, Aveilus, 8:2).
11 Taz Y.D. 374:2 and Shach 7.
12 On Erev Shabbos, however, it is permitted to take a hot shower; Da'as
Kedoshim Y.D. 374.
13 See the various views in Divrei Sofrim 374:54 and Eimek Davar 72.
14 See Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 374:4 and Gesher ha-Chayim 19:5-3. Harav S.Z.
Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 65, note 80) tended to rule
leniently on this issue. See also Orchos Rabbeinu, vol.4, pg. 116.
15 Rama Y.D. 374:4 and Shach 7.
16 See The Weekly Halachah Discussion, vol. 1, pg. 137.
17 Entire discussion based on the following sources: Darkei Teshuvah Y.D.
119:58 quoting Ksav Sofer; Igros Moshe O.C. 1:186; Harav S.Z. Auerbach
(Peninei ha-Maor,letter 3-8 and letter 22-1; Shulchan Shelomo 318:57 and
footnote); Shevet ha-Levi1:53.