QUESTION: When reciting Selichos early in the morning, should the
tzibbur recite a berachah upon donning his tallis?
DISCUSSION: In many shuls, Selichos is recited early in the morning
the time period known as misheyakir, which is approximately 45 minutes(1)
before sunrise. Although it is permitted to don a tallis at that time, it
is not permitted to recite the berachah over it, in deference to the
Rishonim who maintain that one cannot fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzis at
night.(2) What, then, should the sheliach tzibbur - who is required to
wear a tallis for Selichos - do? Here(3) are three possible solutions:
* Borrow a tallis from another congregant [with the explicit intention of
merely borrowing it, as opposed to halachically "acquiring" it] and put it
on without reciting a berachah. This solution is based on the principle
that one does not recite a berachah on a borrowed tallis.(4) When Selichos
are over, the tallis is returned to its owner and the sheliach tzibbur can
then dons his own tallis and recites the berachah.
* Use the shul's tallis without reciting a berachah over it. [Although
many poskim require a berachah when a shul's tallis is worn, nowadays, the
prevalent custom follows the opinion of the poskim who hold that no
berachah is recited on a shul's tallis when worn by the sheliach tzibbur
or by a person receiving an aliyah, etc.(5)]
* Put on his own tallis without reciting the berachah. When the time for
reciting the berachah arrives, there is no need to remove and put on the
tallis again; simply looking at the strings(6) and touching them(7) is
sufficient for reciting the berachah at that time. This solution is the
least desirable halachically, since all too often one is distracted and
forgets to recite the berachah when misheyakir arrives. This third
solution should only be employed if the previous ones are not an option.
[Those who recite Selichos after chatzos need not be concerned with this
issue altogether; the sheliach tzibbur should wear the shul's tallis
without reciting the berachah.(8)]
QUESTION: After reciting ha-motzi, must one eat a full k'zayis of
immediately before talking or eating other foods?
DISCUSSION: One is not required to do so. After reciting ha-motzi
required only to swallow any small amount of bread before talking or
eating other foods.(9)
But though one is not required to eat a k'zayis immediately after ha-
motzi, the poskim recommend that one do so if possible. This is because
one is required to eat a k'zayis of bread within 3-4 minutes at some point
during the meal; if not, he is not allowed to recite birkas ha-mazon even
if he is satiated from the other foods eaten during the meal.(10) In
addition, one who does not eat a k'zayis within 3-4 minutes at some point
during the meal would be required to recite a berachah rishonah over all
of the other foods eaten during the meal.(11) In order to make sure that
one not forget to eat a k'zayis sometime during the meal,(12) it is
recommended that one eat a k'zayis immediately after reciting ha-motzi.(13)
QUESTION: If, mistakenly, one spoke after reciting ha-motzi but
biting or swallowing even a small amount of bread, does he need to repeat
DISCUSSION: L'chatchilah, one is not allowed so speak at all until
he swallows at least a small piece of bread. As stated previously, it is
recommended that an entire k'zayis be eaten at this time.
If, b'diavad, one spoke - even a single word - between ha-motzi and the
first bite, he must repeat ha-motzi before beginning to eat if what his
said was completely unrelated to the meal. If, however, he spoke about
something related to the meal, e.g., please bring the salt or ketchup;
please serve this individual, then ha-motzi is not repeated.(14)
If, b'diavad, one spoke after taking a bite but before swallowing, he
should not repeat ha-motzi before continuing to eat.(15)
QUESTION: After changing a baby's dirty diaper during a meal, does
need to wash his/her hands again for netilas yadayim?
DISCUSSION: Yes, he does. Changing a dirty diaper, as well as
using the bathroom, scratching one's scalp or touching the sweaty areas of
one's body, is considered a hesech ha-da'as which "cancels" the original
washing of the hands. Netilas yadayim, therefore, must be repeated before
the meal may resume.(16)
Whether or not the berachah of al netilas yadayim must be repeated as well
is a subject of much debate among the poskim. Some rule that al netials
yadayim is repeated in all of the hesech ha-da'as cases mentioned above,
(17) while others require that al netilas yadayim be repeated only in some
of those cases, such as using the bathroom or diapering a baby.(18) While
one may follow either view,(19) the prevalent custom today follows the
opinion of the poskim who hold that the berachah of al netilas yadayim is
not repeated in any of these hesech ha-da'as cases.(20)
QUESTION: Does the halachah that prohibits a person who owns an
from eating a meal before feeding his animals, apply only to the first
mealtime in the morning or to any mealtime?
DISCUSSION: In order to avoid tza'ar ba'alei chayim, cruelty to
the halachah(21) mandates that the owner of an animal feed those animals
which are dependent on him for their food(22) before taking food(23) for
himself. This law applies not only to farm animals, but also to pets,
birds and fish. It applies to all mealtimes - whether the owner is at home
or away, on Shabbos(24) or weekday - if his mealtime coincides with the
animal's feeding time, then the animal must be fed first.
Some poskim hold that it is prohibited to eat even a snack before feeding
one's animals,(25) while others permit the owner to have a snack first.
(26) Taking a drink before one's animal is permitted.(27)
There is no requirement that the animal actually eat before the owner
does; as long as food was placed before the animal, or arrangements made
for the food to be brought to the animal, the owner may proceed with his
It is permitted for one to feed his small children who cannot feed
themselves before he feeds his animals.(29)
Important Note: A number of weeks ago we discussed the various opinions
regarding the prohibition of chodosh and how these halachos apply in our
times. We neglected to mention that keeping yoshon is much easier today
due to the handbook and updates provided by Rabbi Yosef Herman (845-356-
5743). Rabbi Herman also maintains an e-mail distribution list which
notifies people as to how to receive the most current guide by e-mail when
it becomes available. He also uses the e-mail list to send out bulletins
of yoshon information which he receives before and after the guide is
published. To put one's name on the list, send an e-mail message to:
1 There are several views among contemporary poskim as to when, exactly,
misheyakir occurs, ranging from 60 to 35 minutes before sunrise.
2 O.C. 18:3 and Mishnah Berurah 10.
3 See Mishnah Berurah 581:6 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 5.
4 O.C. 14:3 and Mishnah Berurah 11.
5 See Beiur Halachah O.C. 14:3, s.v. shalah and Halichos Shelomo 2:1-1.
6 O.C. 24:3.
7 O.C. 8:10. See Igros Moshe O.C. 4:7.
8 See Halichos Shelomo 2:1-1 and Shalamei Moed, pg. 22. Alternatively, he
could wear his own without a reciting a berachah, since in this case there
is no concern that he will forget to recite the berachah when the
appropriate time arrives.
9 Mishnah Berurah 167:35.
10 See Mishnah Berurah 210:1 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 10; Beiur Halachah
208:9, s.v. aino; Igros Moshe O.C. 1:76. See Shevet ha-Levi 4:21 for a
11 Aruch ha-Shulchan 177:2; Igros Moshe O.C. 4:41. See V'zos ha-Berachah,
pg. 71, for a dissenting opinion.
12 Another reason to eat a k'zayis at the beginning of the meal is to
satisfy the opinion of the Dagul M'irvavah (O.C. 167:7) who holds that one
must recite a berachah rishonah on all other foods during the meal if he
did not eat a k'zayis immediately after ha-motzi.
13 Mishnah Berurah 167:35. See also Igros Moshe O.C. 5:16-4.
14 O.C. 167:6.
15 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 167:30; Aruch ha-Shulchan 167:13. See Yabia Omer 5:16
for an elaboration.
16 O.C. 164:2. Mishnah Berurah 164:8 rules that even if there was already
a piece of bread in his mouth when the hesech ha-da'as took place, he may
not swallow the piece until he washes again. Other poskim, however,
disagree; see: Pri Megadim 7, Kaf ha-Chayim 10; Aruch ha-Shulchan 5.
17 O.C. 164:2 and a host of poskim mentioned in Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 164:10.
18 Chayei Adam 40:14; Mishnah Berurah 164:13; Aruch ha-Shulchan 164:5.
19 See Beiur Halachah 164:2, s.v., lachzor; Chazon Ish 25:9.
20 Pri Megadim 170:2; Siddur Derech ha-Chayim; Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav
164:2; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 40:16; Ben Ish Chai, Kedoshim 21; Kaf ha-
Chayim 164:16. See also Chazon Ish 25:9.
21 Some hold that this is a Biblical prohibition, while others hold that
it is a Rabbinical mitzvah; see Beiur Halachah 167:6, s.v. umikal makom.
22 Thus one who owns a dog or a cat who scrounge around for their own food
(and do not need to be fed by the owner), may eat before he feeds his
pets; She'alas Ya'avetz 1:17, quoted in Sha'arei Teshuvah 167:2.
23 But it is permitted to eat food which does not belong to him but is
given to him by others; Chasam Sofer, quoted by Ksav Sofer 32.
24 See Kaf ha-Chayim 167:54.
25 Magen Avraham 167:18 as explained by Pri Megadim; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
42:1; Mishnah Berurah 167:40; Kaf ha-Chayim 167:51.