QUESTION: Is permitted to buy a major appliance (a refrigerator or
washing machine, etc.) or expensive furniture (a couch or a bookcase,
etc.) during the Three Weeks until Rosh Chodesh Av?
DISCUSSION: All shopping is permitted during the Three Weeks except
those items upon whose purchase one recites the blessing of shehecheyanu.
Nowadays, most people no longer recite shehecheyanu even on the purchase
of major, expensive appliances and furniture.(1) It is permitted,
therefore, for them to make all such purchases during the Three Weeks,
until Rosh Chodesh Av.
If one customarily recites shehecheyanu when purchasing expensive
appliances, furniture or a car, etc., he should not take delivery of that
item during the Three Weeks if the item that he is buying is exclusively
for his personal use. [A chosson, therefore, should not give his kallah
her engagement ring during the Three Weeks, since she is required to
recite a shehecheyanu upon receiving it.(2)] If, however, it is a type of
purchase that will be used by other people as well, e.g., his wife or
children, then it may be purchased during the Three Weeks. This is
because the proper blessing on an item which is shared with others is ha-
Tov v'ha-Meitiv, not shehecheyanu,(3) and it is permitted to recite ha-Tov
v'ha-Meitiv during the Three Weeks.(4)
QUESTION: Is it permitted to buy and wear new clothes during the
Weeks until Rosh Chodesh Av?
DISCUSSION: As we mentioned earlier concerning appliances, only the
of clothes that require a shehecheyanu should not be bought during this
time. Thus shoes, shirts, pants and all undergarments may be purchased and
worn without restriction until Rosh Chodesh Av. One who never recites
shehecheyanu on clothes, even on expensive ones,(5) could also purchase
and wear expensive clothes during this time. Those who do recite
shehecheyanu when putting on new clothes, may still buy and alter them
until Rosh Chodesh Av but they may not be worn until after the Nine Days
Mishnah Berurah(7) rules that on Shabbosos in the Three Weeks it is
permitted to wear an item that requires shehecheyanu(.8) Other poskim are
more stringent and do not permit wearing such clothes even on Shabbos.(9)
QUESTION: May the contents of baggage that was lost by an airline
delivered to the passenger's home after the beginning of Shabbos [or Yom
Tov] be used on Shabbos [or Yom Tov]?
DISCUSSION: If the contents are not Shabbos necessities, then it is
prohibited to use them, since one is forbidden to benefit from a Shabbos
Labor done on his behalf by a non-Jew.(10) In this case, the Shabbos Labor
of Carrying was transgressed expressly for the recipient; the contents,
therefore, may not be used.(11)
But in a situation of pressing need - if one's Shabbos clothing or food,
etc. are in the suitcase - it is permitted to use the contents of the
suitcase. This is so because many poskim maintain that our streets and
thoroughfares are not considered a reshus ha-rabim min ha-Torah, only a
karmelis,(12) and therefore the Biblical Shabbos Labor of Carrying was not
violated.(13) The rule is that when a Rabbincal prohibition is
transgressed by a non-Jew on behalf of a Jew (shevus deshuvus), it is
permitted to benefit from the non-Jew's action for the sake of a mitzvah
or for a pressing Shabbos need.(14)
QUESTION: If the suitcase that was delivered by the airline was
the techum Shabbos at the time that Shabbos began, is it still permitted
to use the contents when they are needed for Shabbos?
DISCUSSION: If the suitcase was outside of the Shabbos techum limits
at the time Shabbos began, then the halachah is more complicated. Shulchan
Aruch clearly prohibits one [and his family members] from benefiting from
an item that was brought for him from outside the techum Shabbos.(16)
Still, when the suitcase contains indispensable Shabbos necessities, the
contents may be used,(17) but only inside the home to which the suitcase
was delivered, or anywhere within the limits of the city or community
eiruv. If there is no valid eiruv, then the contents may be used only
inside the home to which the suitcase was delivered.(18)
QUESTION: Does the Halachah object to conducting a weekly Shabbos
in a multi-purpose room which is used during the week for activities in
which a Jew may not engage, e.g., eating non-kosher food, playing cards,
DISCUSSION: In response to a similar query, Harav M. Feinstein
it is halachically forbidden to establish a minyan in a party room which
is used for parties where mixed dancing takes place. He explained that the
purpose of davening with a minyan is to create an eis ratzon, to give the
davening a greater chance of being heard and accepted by Hashem. But if
the minyan davens in a place where abominable deeds are performed, in a
place which is "despised" by Hashem, then the Schechinah will not be with
them even if an entire minyan is present. Harav Feinstein ruled that it is
better to daven at home alone than to daven in a "unseemly" place with a
minyan, since such a tefillah will not be accepted at all.(19)
QUESTION: If a community observes "early Shabbos," must each
comply with the earlier onset of Shabbos?
DISCUSSION: Yes. In a small community, e.g., a Yeshiva, camp, hotel
bungalow colony that has only one congregation which ushers the Shabbos in
early, all members of the community are obligated to begin Shabbos at that
time.(20) But in communities which feature several congregations, some of
which accept Shabbos early and others which do so on time, each household
may join the congregation of its choice with the following provisions:
An individual must accept the Shabbos at the time "his" congregation
does. "His" congregation means the shul where he is planning to daven this
Friday night.(21) An individual may rotate from week to week, sometimes
beginning Shabbos early and sometimes on time.(22)
Although an individual must refrain from transgressing any forbidden
Shabbos labors once the community Shabbos begins, he may still privately
(23) daven the Friday Minchah.(24)
A temporary or a permanent minyan which meets in a private home is
considered a separate congregation. Therefore, a private minyan may not
make Shabbos on time if the rest of the community accepts Shabbos early.
Many poskim hold that if a husband accepts Shabbos early, his wife
children must do so as well.(26) Others hold that a wife and children may
accept Shabbos whenever they wish regardless of when the husband or father
began the Shabbos.(27)
Poskim debate the status of a shul where the majority of the
wants to accept the Shabbos early and a minority wants to make a second
minyan in the same shul which will begin Shabbos on time. Some authorities
do not allow for such an arrangement,(28) while others are more lenient.
12 See O.C. 345:7 and Beiur Halachah s.v. sh'eain.
13 Although other poskim disagree and hold that our streets are considered
a reshus ha-rabim min ha-Torah, in our case, where the carrying is being
done by a non-Jew, we may rely on the lenient opinions; Sha'ar ha-Tziyun
325:13. See also Aruch ha-Shulchan 307:18 and Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah
30, note 121, quoting Harav S.Z. Auerbach.
14 O.C. 307:5; Rama 325:10 and Mishnah Berurah 59-63.
15 If the suitcase was still in the air at the time Shabbos began, it is
not considered as being outside of the techum Shabbos; Mishnah Berurah
16 O.C. 325:8; 515:5.
17 Since here, too, we can rely on the dispensation of shevus deshvus
mentioned earlier, as many poskim are of the opinion that techum Shabbos
is a Rabbinic prohibition, see Mishnah Berurah 404:7, especially in a
karmelis, see Beiur Halachah 404:1 s.v. vohe'el. See also Yeshuos Malko 52.
18 O.C. 325:8; 515:5.
19 Igros Moshe O.C. 1:31; 2:30. See also Tzitz Eliezer 12:15 for a
20 Igros Moshe O.C. 3:38 who questions - and remains undecided - whether
or not this ruling applies nowadays, when accepting early Shabbos is made
for the sake of convenience, and not for the sake of extending the
sanctity of Shabbos. But other poskim, including Harav S.Z. Auerbach
(addendum to Shulchan Shelomo O.C. 263, pg. 22), Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (oral
ruling, quoted in Shevus Yitzchak vol. 8, pg. 234) and Shevet ha-Levi
7:35, reject this distinction.
22 263:19. See, however, Machatzis ha-Shekel 263:24 who holds that one is
obligated to accept Shabbos at the time designated by the congregation
where he regularly davens [even if he davens elsewhere that particular
week]. Harav Y.S. Elyashiv is quoted (Shevus Yitzchak, vol. 8, pg. 237) as
ruling that an individual who regularly davens with the early minyan in
his shul must accept early Shabbos even if he is planning to daven in a
later minyan which will meet in the same shul.
23 In his home or in the shul hallway.
24 263:15 and Beiur Halachah (s.v. shel). See explanation in Chayei Adam
25 263:51. For a definition of a congregation, see Beiur Halachah 468:4