QUESTION: When reciting Selichos early in the morning, should the
tzibbur recite a berachah upon putting on 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 put on his own tallis and recite 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: May a safety pin be used on Shabbos and Yom Tov?
DISCUSSION: This issue is widely debated by the poskim. A minority
maintains that using a safety pin (or a straight pin) to connect fragments
of a torn garment, to pin up a loose hem or to fasten a shank button to a
garment, should be avoided on Shabbos and Yom Tov. In their opinion,
pinning is included in the Shabbos Labor of Sewing, since the safety pin
binds two (or more) previously disconnected or torn parts of a garment,
just as Sewing does.(9)
But the vast majority of the poskim disagree and maintain that it is
permitted to use a safety pin on Shabbos without restriction. They explain
that using a pin is not considered Sewing at all, since no thread or other
bonding agent is being used. In addition, Sewing is defined as connecting
two pieces of material into a single solid piece; an entity that could
only be separated by the process of tearing or cutting.(10) Using a safety
pin to connect two pieces of fabric is similar to buttoning a shirt or
zipping a zipper, which is not considered Sewing at all.(11)
The basic halachah follows the lenient opinion.(12) Still, when
possible, it is recommended that one or more of the following be done in
order to satisfy the more stringent opinion:
* Insert the safety pin only one time into each section of the materials
* After Shabbos, remove the safety pin and separate the pinned-together
* Avoid using small, less noticeable safety pins, since they are more
likely to be left in place for an extended period of time.
* Use a straight pin rather than a safety pin, since a straight pin is
less likely to be left in a garment for an extended period of time.
QUESTION: Many banks offer a service whereby customers may instruct
bank to pay their utility (or other) bills on a specific date of the
month. Should one refrain from using this service since eventually a
payment will be made on his behalf on a Shabbos (or Yom Tov)?
DISCUSSION: There is no halachic reason not to use this service.
is true that eventually a payment date will fall on Shabbos, and one may
not instruct a non-Jew - even before Shabbos - to perform a service on his
behalf on Shabbos,(15) in this case there is no action performed by a non-
Jew on Shabbos; the entire process from beginning to end is automated. The
bill is actually paid through a computer transaction from one account to
the other. There is no halachic restriction on having a machine perform a
service on Shabbos on behalf of a Shabbos-observant Jew, if the machine is
programmed in advance to do so.(16)
QUESTION: Where should the bayis of the tefillin shel yad be placed
one's left arm is in a cast (or wrapped in a bandage)?
DISCUSSION: It depends on which part of the arm is covered by the
the entire biceps area is covered, then the bayis shel yad should be
placed on top of the cast. The bayis must then be covered with the sleeve
of the shirt or jacket.(17) No blessing is recited at this time. But when
the bayis shel rosh is placed on the head, the two berachos are recited -
lehaniach tefillin, followed by al mitzvas tefillin and baruch Sheim.(18)
If, however, the cast does not cover the entire biceps area(19) and
there is enough room to place the bayis shel yad directly on the upper
arm, then the bayis should be placed there and the retzuos are wound
around the cast. The blessing of lehaniach tefillin is recited.(20)
QUESTION: Some women do not blow out the flame of the match,
after lighting candles on erev Shabbos; instead, they allow the flame to
extinguish on its own. They do this in order to avoid transgressing a
Shabbos Labor - "Extinguishing" - once they have accepted Shabbos with the
kindling of the candles. Should all women observe this custom?
DISCUSSION: No, they need not do so. It is permitted to extinguish
flame after lighting candles as long as one does so before reciting the
blessing of l'hadlik ner shel Shabbos. Although Shulchan Aruch does note
the custom of "some" women who are careful not to put out the flame after
lighting candles,(21) this custom no longer applies today when all women
(who follow the Ashkenazi custom(22)) recite the blessing over the candles
after kindling them. Since Shabbos does not begin until after the blessing
is recited, there is ample time to blow out the flame before reciting the
QUESTION: Does the same halachah apply to Yom Tov?
DISCUSSION: On Yom Tov when many women follow the custom of
blessing before lighting candles,(24) care should be taken not to put out
the flame after lighting them. This is because once Yom Tov has begun, it
is forbidden to extinguish a fire. The match, therefore, should be
carefully put aside and allowed to extinguish on its own or she may hand
it over to another person to extinguish it.(25) [A woman who is afraid to
allow a match to extinguish on its own should light her candles first,
blow out the match, and then recite the blessing, as she does on a regular
erev Shabbos.(26) Of course, she may do this only if she lit candles
before sunset. If she is lighting after Yom Tov has begun, she may not put
out the flame.]
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 Shalmei 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.
15 O.C. 307:2. [Although in our case there is no direct command to pay the
bill on Shabbos but rather to do so on a specific date of the month, it
still would be prohibited to specifically tell a non-Jew to do so, since
that date will, at one time or another, fall out on Shabbos. This is
halachically considered as if he instructed the non-Jew to make payment on
Shabbos; based on Igros Moshe, O.C. 3:44, s.v. aval.]
16 O.C. 252:1.
17 Although when placing the bayis shel yad directly on the bare arm one
is not required to cover it and it may be exposed (Rama 27:11), in this
case, when the bayis is placed on a chatzitzah (an obstruction), the bayis
must be covered; Mishnah Berurah 27:16, 18. See explanation in Shulchan
Aruch ha-Rav 27:8.
18 Mishnah Berurah 27:18. See Minchas Yitzchak 2:46.
19 Although the opinion of the Rama in O.C. 26:1 is that the proper
position of the bayis shel yad is at the midpoint of the humerus bone, in
this case we may follow the view of the Gra, quoted by Mishnah Berurah
(26:4), who holds that the bayis shel yad may be positioned anywhere on
the biceps muscle.
20 Mishnah Berurah 27:16.
21 O.C. 263:10.
22 Most Sefaradim, however, recite the blessing before kindling; Yechaveh
23 Aruch ha-Shulchan 263:14; Yechaveh Da'as 2:33, quoting Mateh Yehudah
263:2. [Note that Mishnah Berurah does not disagree with this; indeed, he
repeatedly rules that Shabbos begins after the blessing is recited; see
263:21 and 27. See also Da'as Torah 263:5 (s.v. v'yesh).] Chayei Adam and
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, too, do not mention the custom of allowing the
flame to extinguish by itself. See also addendum to Shulchan Shelomo, vol.
1, pg. 19.
26 Based on the ruling of the Magen Avraham (263:12) and Kitzur Shulchan
Aruch (75:4), who rule that women should light on erev Yom Tov exactly as
they do on erev Shabbos: first light the candles and then recite the