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By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt | Series: | Level:

QUESTION: Why do some people say morid ha-gashem with a kamatz under the gimmel, while others pronounce it with a segol under the gimmel – ha- geshem?

DISCUSSION: The Hebrew word for for rain is “geshem,” with a segol under the gimmel (and under the shin). Like many other words of comparable structure – two syllables, both vocalized with a segol (e.g., eretz, kesef, eved, etc.), the first segol is changed to a kamatz when the word appears at the end of a Biblical phrase(1) or sentence.

The correct pronunciation of the word ha-geshem or ha-gashem, therefore, depends on its location within the second blessing of Shemoneh Esreh. If the sentence – which begins with the words atah gibor – ends with the words mashiv ha-ruach u’morid ha-g_shem, then ha-gashem is correct. If, however, the phrase is part of a longer sentence which ends with the words be’rachamim rabim, then the correct pronunciation is ha- geshem.

In all of the old siddurim which were published hundreds of years ago, the word is written as ha-geshem with a segol. While more recently many publishers changed the vocalization and printed ha-gashem instead(2) – and some poskim maintain that ha-gashem is the correct pronunciation(3) – most poskim (4) hold that the correct way to pronounce the word is ha- geshem, and this is how most contemporary siddurim print that word.

QUESTION: Is one required to separate challah only when baking bread or also when baking mezonos items?

DISCUSSION: Challah is separated not only when baking bread but also when baking any dough from flour derived from the five species of grain: wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats. It makes no difference whether the mixture is a thick dough or a loose batter or whether its blessing is ha-motzi or mezonos; as long as the item was baked and at least ten cups of flour was used to make the dough, challah must be taken.(5)

But not every time that one separates challah over a mezonos item is one required to recite the blessing of lehafrish challah. The blessing is recited only(6) if:

* at least sixteen cups of flour are used,(7) and

* the mezonos item is a type of food over which one would recite the ha- motzi blessing if he were to make a meal (kevius seudah) consisting of that food,(8) and

* the dough or batter is mixed with either water, wine, grape juice, olive oil, milk or bee’s honey.(9)

Contemporary poskim debate whether or not challah is taken from noodle (lukshen) kugel (if challah was not previously taken from the noodles at the factory(10)). Some poskim(11) consider noodle kugel a type of food that would require ha-motzi when eaten as a kevius seudah; thus they require hafrashas challah when a large noodle kugel is baked.(12) Most poskim,(13) however, disagree; they hold that noodle kugel is too dissimilar to bread and ha-motzi is never said over it. Challah, therefore, need not be taken.

QUESTION: Some cookie recipes, such as those which are made with vegetable shortening or eggs only, do not have any water, wine, grape juice, olive oil, milk or bee’s honey as an ingredient. What are the halachos of hafrashas challah regarding such dough?

DISCUSSION: L’chatchilah, a dough of ten or more cups of flour that contains none of these liquids should not be made at all.(14) A small amount of water should be mixed in during the kneading process even if the recipe does not call for it.(15)

B’diavad, if such a dough was prepared, challah is taken but no blessing is recited. Unlike standard challah, however, this challah cannot be disposed of by burning. Rather, it must be buried in the ground.(16)

QUESTION: Should one who drank a revi’is of wine or grape juice, but mistakenly said Al ha-michyah v’al ha-kalkalah instead of Al ha-gefen v’al peri ha-gefen, repeat the blessing of Al ha-gefen?

DISCUSSION: No, he should not, since b’diavad Al ha-michyah covers wine too.(17)

But the halachah is not as clear in a case when one not only drank wine but also ate a k’zayis of cake and then said Al ha-michyah but forgot to mention Al ha-gefen v’al peri ha-gefen. Some poskim hold that in this case, too, Al ha-gefen need not be repeated, since b’diavad the blessing of Al ha-michyah covers wine as well.(18) But other poskim maintain that Al ha-michyah only covers wine when inadvertently one said Al ha-michyah instead of Al ha-gefen. In this case, however, the person apparently forgot about the wine altogether and intended to make a berachah acharonah over the cake only. Thus, no berachah acharonah was said over the wine and Al ha-gefen must be repeated.(19)

Since a dispute remains as to whether or not one is required to repeat Al ha-gefen in the latter case, we must follow the principle of safek berachos l’hakel; Al ha-gefen, therefore, is not repeated.(20)

QUESTION: How may a garbage bag be tied on Shabbos or Yom Tov?

DISCUSSION: One must be extremely careful about how garbage bags are tied on Shabbos and Yom Tov, since once a garbage bag is tied up, the knot is generally left as is until the bag is picked up by the garbage collectors days later. A knot left for that length of time may be considered a permanent knot, and tying it on Shabbos may be strictly prohibited.(21) Thus, the common practice of bunching and twisting the top of the garbage bag, making a loop, pulling the ends of the bag through the loop and tightening the loop to form a knot is forbidden. It is also forbidden to extend the two top corners of the bag, tie them together and make a bow (as if tying a shoelace), or to tuck in the corners of the bag under the knot to strengthen the knot. The only permissible knots that could be made on a garbage bag are a slip knot – a loop which is not completely pulled through and does not form a knot at the top of the bag; or a single knot, which is like the first stage of tying a shoelace. Such knots can be tied with a bow or another knot on Motza’ei Shabbos.

An alternative solution for sealing garbage bags which totally avoids any forbidden Shabbos Labors is to use a rubber band instead of tying a knot. Rubber bands keep bags as tightly sealed as a knot or a twister.


1 Most often the end of a phrase is indicated by an esnachta or a zakef katan.

2 See Minhag Yisrael Torah 114:1, which explains that the original change was implemented by the maskilim.

3 Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:40-15. See, however, Tefillah k’Hilchasah 12:27 which points out that Harav Feinstein subsequently revised his opinion on this matter.

4 Levushei Mordechai 4:213; Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky (Orchos Rabbeinu, vol. 1, pg. 213); Harav Y. Kamenetsky (Emes l’Yaakov al ha-Torah, Bereishis 3:19); Harav Y.Y. Weiss (quoted in Ishei Yisrael 23:25); Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Halichos Shelomo 1:8-14); Az Nidberu 12:28; Teshuvos v’Hanhagos 1:81.

5 As explained clearly in Machazeh Eliyahu 110. But if the mixture is going to be cooked or fried, then there is a distinction between a thick dough and a thin, liquidy batter. A thick dough, such as pasta dough, would require hafrashas challah without a blessing, whereas the liquidy, thin batter, such as a pancake mix, would require no hafrashas challah at all.

6 See Y.D. 329:2, Shach 4 and Pischei Teshuvah 2; Shemiras Shabbos k’Hilchasah 42, note 41, quoting Harav S.Z. Auerbach; Shevet ha-Levi 8:244; Derech Emunah, Bikurim 6:103; Leket ha-Omer 4, notes 1 and 23.

7 If ten to sixteen cups of flour are used, challah is separated without a blessing. If fewer than ten cups are used, no challah is separated at all.

8 This includes most cakes, cookies, crackers and pretzels.

9 See follow-up Question and Discussion.

10 See Minchas Yitzchak 8:108.

11 Harav Y.S. Elyashiv, quoted in Derech Emunah, Bikurim 6:92 and Birkas ha-Nehenin, pg. 134. See also Leket ha-Omer 4, note 5.

12 Practically speaking, this would apply only to caterers or to institutional settings, such as camp or yeshiva kitchens.

13 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Tikunim u’Milluim 54, note 65; Minchas Shelomo 3:158-16); Harav Y.Y. Fisher (Even Yisrael 7:42); Ohr l’Tziyon 2:12; Az Nidberu 8:31. See also Me’or ha-Shabbos, vol. 2, pgs. 576-577.

14 Y.D. 329:10 and Shach 7.

15 See Mishnah Berurah 462:20 and Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 27.

16 Chazon Ish, Shevi’is 5:10, quoted in Derech Emunah, Bikurim 6:84. Nowadays, there is some flour that is produced from grain that was soaked in water. Challah separated from dough made from such flour may be disposed of by burning; see Pischei Teshuvah, Y.D. 329:3.

17 Be’er Heitev, O.C. 208:23; Kaf ha-Chayim 108:89, quoting many poskim.

18 Peri Megadim (Pesichah to Hilchos Berachos 10, s.v. merish); Kaf ha- Chayim 108:76.

19 Har Tzvi 1:105; Minchas Shelomo 1:91-6; Cheishev ha-Eifod 3:43.

20 Harav C. Kanievksy (She’elas Rav, pg. 289); Rivevos Efrayim 8:72.

21 See Tikunim u’Miluim 35, note 63 and Ayal Meshulash, Kosher u’Matir, pg. 136.

Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Weekly sponsorships are available–please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross [email protected].

Rabbi Neustadt is Rav of Young Israel in Cleveland Heights. He may be reached at 216-321-4635 or at [email protected].