QUESTION: What is the halachic definition of Tefillah b'tzibur?
DISCUSSION: Tefillah b'tzibur means that ten adult men are davening
Shemoneh Esreh together.(1) L'chatchilah, the ten men should begin
davening Shemoneh Esreh at the exact same moment,(2) but b'diavad, even if
all ten men did not begin the Shemoneh Esreh at the same time. it is still
considered tefillah b'tzibur.(3)
Some poskim hold that if ten men are present but only six of them
are davening Shemoneh Esreh, it is still considered tefillah b'tzibur.(4)
Many other poskim, however, disagree.(5)
Some poskim hold that one who davens his own Shemoneh Esreh along
with the sheliach tzibur's chazaras ha-shatz also fulfills the obligation
of tefillah b'tzibur.(6) Most poskim, however, disagree.(7)
QUESTION: If one came late to shul for Shacharis, can he still
daven tefillah b'tzibur?
DISCUSSION: It depends on how late he came. Shulchan Aruch rules
is more important to daven tefillah b'tzibur than to recite the entire
Pesukei d'zimrah. Therefore, one who came late should skip as much of
Pesukei d'zimrah as necessary - except for Boruch she'omar, Ashrei
[Nishmas on Shabbos] and Yishtabach - in order to be able to begin
davening Shemoneh Esreh with the rest of the congregation.(8)
If one came so late that even if he would skip Pesukei d'zimrah he
would still be unable to begin Shemoneh Esreh with the tzibur, he should
still skip Pesukei d'zimrah as long as he will be able to a) begin
Shemoneh Esreh while there are still ten (at least) people davening;(9)
and b) complete his entire Shemoneh Esreh before the sheliach tzibur
begins to recite Kedushah during chazoras ha-shatz.(10) If, however, he
estimates that he does not have enough time to complete his Shmoneh Esreh
before Kedushah will be recited, he should not daven Shemoneh Esreh with
the tzibur. Instead, he should wait and daven Shemoneh Esreh along with
sheliach tzibur's recitation of chazaras ha-shatz.(11) [Whether or not it
is permitted to skip Pesukei d'zimrah in order to be able to daven
Shemoneh Esreh along with the chazaras ha-shatz will depend on the
previously-mentioned dispute among the poskim as to whether or not
reciting Shemoneh Esreh along with chazaras ha-shatz is considered
QUESTION: Should a woman who comes late to shul for Shacharis skip
of Pesukei d'zimrah in order to be able to daven Shemoneh Esreh with the
tzibur of men?
DISCUSSION: Contemporary poskim are divided on this point: Some
since women are not considered as part of a tzibur in any way, even if
they daven at the same time that the tzibur does, their tefillah is not
considered tefillah b'tzibur. They should not, therefore, skip any part of
Pesukei d'zimrah - which, according to many poskim, they are obligated to
recite(12) - in order to daven with the tzibur.(13) Other poskim, however,
disagree. In their opinion, a woman who davens Shemoneh Esreh while the
tzibur is davening is considered as if she davened tefillah b'tzibur, and
she is permitted, therefore, to skip parts of Pesukei d'zimrah in order to
be part of the tefillah b'tzibur.(14)
QUESTION: What is the proper berachah rishonah over avocado?
DISCUSSION: A plant whose trunk survives the winter months and
fruit annually is classified as a tree in regard to hilchos berachos.(15)
The avocado is such a tree and its berachah rishonah, therefore, is Borei
When avocado is eaten as part of a vegetable salad, and the majority
of the salad consists of vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes or cucumber,
then a Borei peri ha-adamah is recited over the entire salad and no
specific blessing is recited on the avocado.(16) Even if, mistakenly, one
made a Borei peri ha-aeitz over the avocado, he would be required to
recite a Borei peri ha-adamah over the rest of the salad.(17)
QUESTION: If avocado is eaten as a spread on crackers, does it
own berachah rishonah?
DISCUSSION: It depends if one is eating avocado spread on crackers
crackers with avocado. In other words, if the main intent is to eat
crackers and the avocado is merely being used to enhance the flavor of the
crackers, then only a Borei minei mezonos [and Al ha-michyah afterwards]
is recited over the crackers. If, however, the main - or equal - intent is
to partake of the avocado, and the crackers are merely being used as
a "base" for the avocado spread, then two berachos are required - first a
Borei minei mezonos on the crackers and then a Borei peri ha-aeitz over
the avocado.(18) [Afterwards, Borei nefashos must be recited as well, but
only if at least 1 oz. of avocado was consumed.]
The same halachah applies to other foods which are not cooked
together but are still eaten together, like tuna fish salad eaten along
with vegetables. If the core of the meal is the tuna, and the vegetables
are merely enhancers for the tuna, like diced celery or pickles that are
are added to perk up the flavor of the tuna, then only a Shehakol is
recited. If, however, an entire salad is served with the tuna and the
intent is to serve both tuna and vegetables as equally important parts of
the meal, then two separate berachos are required.
QUESTION: If a utensil was mistakenly used several times without
immersion, does it still need tevilah?
DISCUSSION: Yes. The obligation of tevilah remains no matter how
times a utensil was previously used, even if years elapsed from the time
it was purchased. Thus a newly-observant family must immerse all of their
old dishes. If the dishes also need to be koshered, then the koshering is
done first, followed by the tevilah.(19) But, b'dieved, if the tevilah was
done first, the immersion does not need to be repeated after the koshering.
QUESTION: Is it permitted to eat food that was inadvertently cooked
pot which was not immersed?
DISCUSSION: Yes. Non-immersed utensils are not treif utensils and
cooked in them does not become non-kosher.(21) Even if one knew that the
pot was not immersed and cooked food in it anyway, the food may still be
QUESTION: On Shabbos [or Yom Tov], is it permitted to discuss
e.g., to ask someone where he bought a particular item such as a suit or a
DISCUSSION: If the questioner is interested in buying a similar
it is forbidden for him to ask the question and it is forbidden to answer
him. If, however, the question is being asked as part of a theoretical
discussion with no intent to act upon the topic being discussed, it is
The same halachah applies if the questioner wants to know how much
that particular item cost. If the question is being asked because he is
contemplating buying a similar item, it is forbidden to talk about that on
Shabbos. If, however, he has no interest in buying such an item but is
just asking out of curiosity, it is permitted.(23)
Please note that while this type of conversation is not halachically
forbidden on Shabbos, it is still considered "idle talk." Shulchan Aruch
expressly urges us to minimize idle talk on Shabbos.(24)
1 Mishnah Berurah 90:28, quoting Chayei Adam 19:1.
2 Mishnah Berurah 66:35.
3 See Igros Moshe, O.C. 3:4 and Halichos Shelomo 8:7.
4 See Eimek Berachah, Tefillah 6, Chelkas Yaakov 2:138 and Minchas
Yitzchak 3:10 and 9:6-7.
5 Harav Y.Z. Soloveitchik, quoted in Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 1:104; Orchos
Rabbeinu 1:160; Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:28-30; Halichos Shelomo 1:5-8. [All
poskim agree that it is permitted to recite Kaddish or chazaras ha-shatz
for only six mispallelim, as long as ten men are present; Mishnah Berurah
7 Peri Megadim (Eishel) 52:1 and 109:4; Shalmas Chayim 91, Igros Moshe
8 See Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 52:1 who lists the various parts of Pesukei
d'zimrah in order of "importance." Certain parts of Pesukei d'zimrah take
priority over others when time constraints prevent one from reciting all
of Pesukei d'zimrah.
9 Halichos Shelomo 8:7 and Devar Halachah 8.
10 See Mishnah Berurah 109:2 and Beiur Halachah, s.v. ha-nichnas.