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Thursday
Jan042018

KOSHER SKATING RINKS

Selected Halachos from the “One Minute Halacha” project

By HaRav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Shlita
Mara D’asra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights

IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH USING PUBLIC SKATING RINKS?

The prohibition against mixed dancing, as well as its terrible repercussions, is well-known. Similarly, mixed swimming is absolutely forbidden according to halacha, and poskim have harsh words to say regarding a man swimming among women, and vice versa. Likewise, exercising in a mixed crowd is unacceptable; separate hours for men and women are a must. The same is true for ice skating and rollerblading, which may not be done unless the venue has separate areas or hours for men and women.

Again, poskim have very harsh words to say about those who violate these halachic restrictions, especially in view of the negative effects. Yerei Shamayim (G-d fearing individuals) should ensure that these kinds of things don’t occur in their community.

GUIDELINES FOR INTERACTION BETWEEN FORMER SPOUSES

The halacha is that once a woman receives her get (bill of divorce), the ex-spouses should refrain from meeting each other and from doing anything that would give the impression that they are associating with one another. Therefore, they should:

* Live at a distance from each other

* Avoid entering a partnership or joint business venture

* Avoid appearing together in beis din (rabbinical court) in case of a din Torah (a dispute brought to a rabbinical court to adjudicate); instead, a mursheh (authorized representative) should appear instead of at least one of them

* Never converse with one another, even when encountering one another b’shuk (in the marketplace; i.e., in a public setting) where there are other people around.

Speaking on the phone about technical arrangements relating to the divorce or to the children isn’t strictly against halacha, but a yerei Shamayim (G-d fearing person) should avoid doing so, as well.

Visiting occasionally an ex-spouse’s home in order to pick something up is permitted, if necessary, provided that there are others present—which forestalls the issue of yichud (seclusion)—and that one spends only as much time there as necessary. There are some poskim who are stringent regarding this matter.

DEALING WITH DIABETES ON SHABBOS

Those who suffer from diabetes and need to draw blood periodically in order to check their insulin levels, should do everything possible to minimize chillul Shabbos (desecration of Shabbos) throughout the process. This includes:

* Seeing to it before Shabbos that there’s adequate lighting

* Before Shabbos, turning off the sound the blood glucose meter makes when in use

* Turning on the meter (usually done by inserting a strip) on Shabbos with a shinui (change, i.e. not in the ordinary manner)

* Choosing a machine that draws the least amount of blood

* Lancing (pricking) should be done with a shinui, such as pressing the button on the lancet using the back of the finger.

* Allowing the blood to flow out without squeezing, if possible; In case lancing isn’t sufficient and blood needs to be squeezed out, it should be done with a shinui, as well.

All this applies only if there is no sakanas nefashos (an immediate life-threatening situation); if there’s an immediate danger, then the blood should be drawn normally, without a shinui.

DO MY PARENTS HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE ME DO WHATEVER THEY WANT?

The mitzvah of kibbud av v’eim (honoring one’s father and mother) is the obligation to tend to one’s parents’ needs and to interact respectfully with them. But what if parents request something of their children that is not an immediate need, nor is it to their benefit? What if they don’t want their child to daven a particular nusach (text for davening used by a particular community) or disapprove of their son going to the mikva? Can they forbid their child to eat certain foods or demand that the child wear a sweater even when the child feels hot?

There are poskim who maintain that the mitzvah applies only to things that are of direct benefit to one’s parents, and one would accordingly be free to disobey extraneous orders. In practice, there are many variables that need to be taken into account: are the parents attempting to influence their child to do mitzvos in a certain manner? Are they demanding something which will cause their children suffering or threatens their shalom bayis? Is the child disobeying them in their presence, or out of eyeshot? Is the disobedience causing the parents anguish? Is the child a minor who is living at home and/or being supported by their parents?

In view of the many factors involved, a rav should be consulted in instances where parents might be overstepping their bounds, and he should attempt to offer a halachic resolution while ensuring that the relationship remains amicable. Of course, it’s best for both parties to endeavor to steer clear of confrontation in the first place, since children must also avoid violating the mitzvah of mora av v’eim (awe of father and mother). Parents, on the hand, should be conscious of the fact that they could be transgressing lifnei iver (creating a situation that will cause their child to stumble) if they make demands on their children that they know they’re unlikely to obey. Ultimately, an understanding should be reached between parent and child that lays the groundwork for a good relationship and avoids conflict.

MAY I PAY A WORKER LESS THAN THE MINIMUM WAGE?

Paying less than the minimum wage to an employee raises a number of shaalos (halachic issues): onaa—one may not pay less than the market value for goods and services received; g’neivas daas—deceiving the worker if he is unaware that he’s being paid less than the minimum wage; and g’neiva—downright stealing. Some of these issues apply when dealing with non-Jews as well.

However, if one’s intention has been made clear in advance, and the worker is mevater and mochel (consents) to accept the amount being offered despite the fact that it is below minimum wage, then it’s not a problem from a strictly halachic perspective. The legal ramifications are a different issue altogether, beyond the scope of this article.

MAY A GUN BE CARRIED ON SHABBOS?

The question of whether it’s permissible to carry a gun on Shabbos entails two issues: muktza (objects which are “set aside” and may not be moved during Shabbos) and hotza’ah (carrying in the public domain) in a place where there is no eiruv.

The second issue is rather clear-cut: only clothing and personal ornaments are permitted to be carried on one’s person on Shabbos, and a gun is neither. The argument that a gun can serve as a fashion accessory is belied by the prophecy that all weapons will be crushed and turned into constructive tools, such as plowshares, when Moshiach comes, indicating that the Torah does not recognize any decorative value in weaponry.

A gun’s muktza status, however, is subject to discussion among contemporary poskim; the question is whether it’s a kli she’melachto l’issur (a tool whose primary function is forbidden on Shabbos) since it was crafted for the purpose of killing, or whether it’s a kli she’melachto l’heter (a tool whose primary function is permitted on Shabbos) since its main objective is to instill fear. Carrying a concealed weapon seems to indicate that its use is primarily l’issur, while carrying it openly could suggest that it’s l’heter.

If there’s concern about a possible threat which would justify carrying a gun on Shabbos, even if it’s muktza or there’s no eiruv, a local rav with an understanding of the prevalent conditions must be consulted to determine whether the current threat is significant enough to justify carrying a gun on Shabbos.

“One Minute Halacha” is a succinct daily presentation on practical Halacha in video, audio, and text formats, and can be accessed by phone at 718.989.9599, by email, halacha2go@gmail.com, or by WhatsApp 347.456.5665.

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