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Tuesday
Mar132018

THE E-RABBI

Selected Halachos from theOne Minute Halachaproject

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

DO NEW POTS NEED KASHERING?

Stainless steel and aluminum pots and pans are often lubricated in the manufacturing process. Some contemporary poskim are concerned that the lubricating agent might be derived from animal fat, which would require kashering the utensil. Since the lubrication process involves heat, kashering via libun gamur (blowtorching) would arguably be necessary. However, there are many valid arguments for not making kashering compulsory in this case, including the fact that the lubricating oil is not considered food.

However, if someone specifically wishes to kasher new utensils, most poskim rule that a regular hagalah (boiling) is sufficient. This is achieved by completely filling the pot with water, boiling it up and pouring it out. An even simpler eitza (solution) is to perform libun kal (a light form of purging by fire), which is equivalent to hagalah. The process of libun kal—according to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav—is to put the empty pot on the fire for several minutes until it reaches yad soledes bo (hot to the point that the hand recoils).

MAY I WEAR MY WATCH ON SHABBOS?

When in a public domain where there is no eiruv, we may only ‘carry’ the clothing and jewelry we are wearing (though the halachic parameters of wearing jewelry are complicated). Everything else is considered a masa (load), and may not be carried due to the melachah of hotza’ah (forbidden act of carrying) on Shabbos.

Watches don’t assume the halachic status of jewelry according to most opinions and may not be worn in an area without an eiruv. There’s a minority view that considers a wristwatch a garment, but many poskim reject that position and maintain that it is a keili (device) for telling time. The exception is—according to many opinions—a woman’s watch that is made of gold or is otherwise exceptionally elegant, that would be worn even if the watch stops working.

There are people who are particular not to wear a watch on Shabbos even indoors or in places where there is an eiruv, either because they consider it at odds with the k’dusha (sanctity) of Shabbos or due to the concern that they may inadvertently wear it in a forbidden area as well. This is similar to the halacha that we should avoid putting things in our pockets on Shabbos as a precaution against carrying.

THE PARAMETERS OF MI’UT HAMATZUI

A basic criterion for deciding many halachos is the concept of following the rov (majority of circumstances) versus mi’ut (minority). However, mi’d’rabanan (by rabbinic decree), mi’ut hamatzui (a minority occurring with frequency) must be taken into account. This is the reason we are required to inspect slaughtered animals for certain treifos (conditions that would render them non-kosher), clothes for shaatnez, food for insects, and much more—even though these issues don’t present in the majority of cases.

The Rivash defines mi’ut hamatzui as a phenomenon that occurs close to half the time, although it can be debated whether he means exactly forty-nine percent, or anything occurring in more than one-quarter (i.e. twenty-six percent) of cases. A later authority, the Mishkenos Yaakov, maintains that even as infrequently as ten percent counts; the Tzemach Tzedek—among other poskim—says even less than ten percent, bringing proof for this position in their writings.

Another perspective on mi’ut hamatzui, brought by many poskim, doesn’t determine the frequency percentage-wise, but defines it as a regular (though sporadic) occurrence, as opposed to a chance occurrence. An additional viewpoint qualifies the common minority as something that “comes as no surprise.”

ASKING SHAALOS VIA EMAIL

Once upon a time, people would ask Shaalos (halachic queries) to a rav in person. In this age of technology, phoning, text messaging and email are becoming quite prevalent as a replacement to face-to-face contact.

There are many advantages to these new modes of communication, but one major drawback is that the personal element can be lost. Rabbanim are often unfamiliar with the person on the other end. The identity of the inquirer, though, can have major halachic ramifications.

Finances can impact the p’sak (halachic ruling), since some things are permitted b’hefsed merubah (a big loss is at stake), a subjective criterion based upon a person’s economic circumstances.

Spiritual Status is a consideration. A person seeking to improve in Yiddishkait (Jewish observance) might be overwhelmed by a strict ruling, causing a setback in observance, so a takanas hashavim (dispensation for repentants) may come into play. On the other hand, a baal nefesh (particularly scrupulous individual) should be informed of additional stringencies.

Psychology: The emotional state of the inquirer must also be taken into consideration, and has bearing on p’sak (halachic ruling).

Location might be significant, since the k’hilla (home community) might have an established practice, or the mara d’asra (local rabbinic authority) might have a particular approach that he believes is appropriate for his locale.

Contactability: The rav should be able to reach the questioner to modify his ruling if he discovers that a mistake was made, or if additional, crucial information comes to light.

Due to the above, it’s best that people identify themselves when asking a sha’alah from a rav—whatever channels they use to communicate.

IS VEGETARIANISM COMPATIBLE WITH TORAH VALUES?

Although Adam HaRishon was commanded to refrain from eating meat, Hashem granted Noach permission to eat meat after the mabul (flood)—for all his progeny, for all time.

On the subject of eating meat, the Torah is clear that it’s not only permitted, but preferred. There are a number of mitzvos associated with its consumption: it’s a mitzvah to eat meat on Yom Tov; meat (and alternatively chicken) is recommended as a standard Shabbos food; and it was a mitzvah to eat most korbanos (ritual sacrifices) in the Mikdash (Holy Temple). There are other times when eating meat takes on halachic significance.

Whereas avoiding meat for health reasons is acceptable, abstaining with an ideological basis is not in sync with Torah. Although there were yechidei segula (individual Jews of high caliber) who abstained from eating meat based on certain ideologies, their path is not a derech l’rabim (an example for the masses); therefore most of us should not refrain from eating meat as a matter of principle.

MEETING AN EX-SPOUSE FOR THE PURPOSE OF REMARRYING

It’s forbidden for ex-spouses to interact with each other socially. However, there’s a mitzvah of machzir gerushaso (remarrying one’s divorced spouse)—unless he is a Kohen or she had been married to another man in the interim.

Contemplating a remarriage would obviously necessitate the former spouses to meet. In this case, contact should be made in a tznius’dige (modest) fashion, and both parties should be aware of the meeting’s purpose. They may not meet in a private setting due to the issur of yichud (forbidden seclusion), nor should they meet in public so as not to give the wrong impression to people who may recognize them. They should rather choose a venue where those present know why they are meeting or where there are only strangers around. If they reconnect in a proper manner, they are actually performing a great mitzvah.

MAY I MAKE KIDDUSH ON WINE THAT WAS LEFT UNCOVERED?

A ruling of our sages in days gone by called for covering water and other liquids due to the danger venomous snakes posed to drinking water. These days we are generally not concerned about gilui (exposure) of drinking water or other liquids.

However, yayin megulah (wine that was left uncovered) for a substantial amount of time should not be used for kiddush. This is because kiddush demands a higher standard of “Hakriveihu na l’pachasecha…” (If you were to offer it as a gift to your governor, would he accept you or favor you?) Whatever is not deemed chashuv (worthy) for a dignitary is not halachically fit for kiddush; wine left standing without a cork certainly loses its chashivus.

But if the wine is left uncovered only for a sha’ah muetes (short period of time, which some poskim define as twenty minutes), ein l’hakpid kol kach (there is no need to be so strict), especially in areas where dignitaries are not particular either—unless the wine has lost its taste or smell.

At what point does uncorked wine become unfit for kiddush? Poskim differ on this: Some cite the fact that we leave our cups of wine uncovered for several hours during the Pesach seder. Others respond that the seder is one long, continuous mitzvah, and that the wine is being watched throughout; therefore, they claim, wine being drunk at the seder cannot be compared to other wine.

On a related note, there’s a tradition quoted in the name of the Baal Shem Tov to keep the bottle of wine covered while one recites kiddush.

 

“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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