November 8, 2017
Beis Moshiach in #1092, Halacha 2 Go

Selected Halachos from the One Minute Halachaproject

By HaRav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Shlita,
Mara Dasra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights


What is the purpose of the additional t’fillos (prayers) in Maariv (the evening prayer) of Motzaei Shabbos?

We begin with the standard weekday opening: V’hu rachum yechaper… (And He is merciful and forgives). Poskim remark that this pasuk (Torah verse) should be recited slowly to express how we cherish Shabbos—and not, chas v’shalom (Heaven forefend) view it as an unwanted burden—and we wish to delay its departure. With this patient reading we also extend Shabbos further, adding time meichol al ha’kodesh (from the everyday to the sacred).

(During the Amida, Ata chonantanu—You have favored us—is inserted into the fourth blessing, which serves as a form of Havdala—separation—between Shabbos and the workweek.)

At the outset of a week in which no holidays occur the verse Vihi noam Hashem…(May the pleasantness of Hashem [Psalm 90:17]) is read after the Amida, entreating Hashem to crown our endeavors of the forthcoming week with success. This t’filla, as well, should be said unhurriedly and with concentration.

Next, we read Yoshev b’seiser Elyon… (He who dwells in secret on High… [Psalm 91]), known as the shir shel p’gaim (the song for encounters), which calls forth Hashem’s special protection against dangerous run-ins with mazikin (harmful spirits). This becomes necessary only upon the culmination of Shabbos, as the holy day guards us from such threats.

Following the shir is the special prayer of V’Ata kadosh (And You are holy), known in the Talmud as Seder K’dusha (the Order of Holiness). This t’filla serves a dual purpose: It is written in s’farim—and most notably in the Zohar HaKadosh (the holy Zohar)—that at the onset of Shabbos the souls of the wicked are removed from Gehinom (purgatory) to enjoy a day of ‘rest’. These souls do not return until the conclusion of the post-Shabbos Maariv. Therefore, we extend the t’filla by adding the lengthy V’Ata kadosh. Indeed, an allusion to this concept is found in the opening verse of V’Ata kadoshyosheiv t’hillos Yisroel ([You] restrain [the return of the souls to Gehinom until the conclusion of] the praises of Israel).

This supplication also contains great exaltation and praise of Hashem, and is considered very dear to Him. The Talmud states that the world continues to exist on the merit of this t’filla alone! As a fresh week begins and the cycle of life begins anew, it is apropos to read this exceptional prayer and fortify the world’s existence.


What is the halacha if we hire an electrician, a mover, or other worker and agree on a price, but when they show up to do the job they demand more than was agreed upon?

The halacha is that if it’s a davar ha’aved (irreversible damage would result if the job isn’t done at that time), and if it’s not possible to find another worker on such short notice, it’s permissible to give the worker the impression that they will be paid the higher amount, but in fact to only pay them the lower, original amount once the work is completed. This is based on the principle of mat’an (one may fool a worker who reneged on an agreement). However, if it isn’t a davar ha’aved, or there are other workers available at an agreeable price, it’s forbidden to mislead the worker—although it’s up to the worker to prove that there were other options available at the time if he wishes to dispute being paid the lower price; if he is unable to do so, he has no grounds for demanding the higher amount.

On the other hand, if there was a ketzitza b’taus (the price the worker originally quoted was based on a misunderstanding)—e.g. the worker had not realized that the job entailed much more than he originally thought—we may not deceive him.


Sifrei Kabbala (Holy writings of Kabbala) relate that the Arizal would refrain from having his hair cut after midday. Some are of the opinion that the same would apply to cutting nails. The question is: what was the reason for this custom?

If it was because we shouldn’t engage in any new malacha (work) once the z’man (time) of Mincha has arrived—lest we be distracted from davening Mincha—then we can assume that there is no issue with cutting our hair and nails after having davened Mincha

However, if the reason was that according to Kabbala the forces of dinim (Heavenly judgment) begin gaining strength after midday, it would be cause to refrain from doing so throughout the entire afternoon, and in fact more so at night, when the dinim are even more severe. 

Common practice, though, is that we do take haircuts and cut our nails after midday—provided that we have davened Mincha—and at night as well. 


In addition to the basic principle of tznius (modesty), which is that both men and women must keep the private areas of their bodies covered at all times, even b’chadrei chadarim, when alone in private, because Hashem is always present, there are also particular parts of a woman’s body which are considered intimate and are therefore in the category of erva, and must also be covered.

One example of the second category is sei’ar b’isha erva, a married woman’s hair is considered erva, and when exposed, beyond being inherently problematic, also prohibits men from being able to say Shma, brachos, daven or learn Torah in its presence. This is true if even a single hair is exposed; the notion that a woman may allow up to a tefach of hair to be uncovered is groundless and comes from a misunderstanding of halacha. The only exception is that a husband may say Shma in the presence of his wife’s facial hair which grows beneath the area of her head covering, in front of her ears. 

Therefore, if your Shabbos guests are not properly dressed, you should either face a different direction, hold up your siddur to block your view, or close your eyes—the last of these options being the least preferred. 


With various types of multigrain bread on the market, the question arises which bracha rishona and bracha acharona should be said when eating them.

HaMotzi is recited on bread which contains one of the chameishes minei dagan (five types of grain): wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. When any of these five grains is added to kemach kitniyos (flour of some other type) to make bread, HaMotzi is still recited, regardless of what the ratio is.

However, in order to bentch birchas hamazon (the after-blessing for bread) the chameishes minei dagan must comprise at least one sixth of the mixture, and at least a k’zayis must be eaten. In fact, some opinions maintain that one must eat an amount containing an entire k’zayis of dagan itself. Thus, in a case where only one sixth of the mixture consisted of dagan, and assuming that the dagan is evenly dispersed throughout the mixture, one would have to eat an entire pras, which equals six measures of a k’zayis—and eat it all within the short time span known as kdei achilas pras, which could be as little as three or four minutes, a difficult task. Since this matter is in doubt, al hamichya should be recited unless an entire pras (or an equivalent amount relative to the percentage of dagan) is eaten.

In a case where the chameishes minei dagan are less than a sixth of the mixture, it’s a machlokes (halachic dispute) whether to say al hamichya or borei nefashos. That being the case, we should avoid eating this “bread” by itself. One way to sidestep the problem is by eating first a k’zayis of regular bread (made from dagan), and thus conclude with birchas hamazon. A second option is to eat this kind of “bread” along with both a k’zayis of food after which we recite al hamichya as well as a k’zayis of food after which we recite borei nefashos.

The exception to the rules laid out above is when rice flour is added to wheat flour; because the rice tends to cling to the wheat and bring out its taste, so as long as the bread retains the taste of wheat, we recite HaMotzi and bentch birchas hamazon.


“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,, or by WhatsApp 347.456.5665.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
See website for complete article licensing information.