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Tuesday
Nov142017

THE MOHEL’S RESUME

Selected Halachos from the One Minute Halachaproject

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

MAY I SAY T’HILLIM AT NIGHT?

The Arizal taught that Mikra, Torah Sh’Bichsav (the Written Torah) should not be read at night. However, translating the Chumash into any other language, and especially learning Chumash with the commentary of Rashi—which is Torah She’be’al Peh (the Oral Torah)—is permissible at night. Ideally, however, studying Chumash in any manner should preferably be done in the daytime.

T’hillim, according to many opinions, is also included in the Arizal’s enjoinment against Mikra at night, and therefore shouldn’t be recited in the night-time either. It is the custom that even reciting T’hillim in the form of a techina and bakasha (supplication)—according to some opinions, even for someone who is unwell— as opposed to studying it, should also be avoided at night.

Many poskim rule that all of the above does not apply after chatzos (midnight), particularly with regard to T’hillim. Certainly in a case of a choleh she’yesh bo sakana (someone who is critically ill), G-d forbid, one may be lenient and say T’hillim at night, especially if it’s after chatzos.

HOW TO CHOOSE A MOHEL

When choosing a mohel to perform a bris mila, it is vital to ascertain that he is a trained professional, experienced and expert, as well as an observant, G-d-fearing Jew who does not change one iota of our mesora (tradition) as it has been practiced throughout the generations.

The mohel should not numb the area with a local anesthetic and should not use gloves, as that can be considered a bizui mitzvah (a disgrace for the mitzvah). Moreover, the gloves get in the way of performing pria with the nail, as described below.

It is essential that the mohel perform all three aspects of milamila, pria, and metzitzah—in the halachically correct manner, and in the following order: first, mila, cutting the outer foreskin with a knife and not with a clamp; second, pria, tearing and peeling back the inner layer of the foreskin (membrane) with his nail, and not with a Hemostat; and third, metzizah, sucking the blood directly with his mouth.

In certain cases, a rav may permit the use of other methods of metzitzah, such as oral extraction of the blood through a glass tube, but the traditional way is directly by mouth. Some mohalim intentionally perform mila and pria simultaneously which is incorrect.

The mohel must take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the baby and not hesitate to postpone the bris if necessary, for example, if the baby has a low birth weight or has an elevated bilirubin count (jaundice, a yellowish appearance of the skin or the whites of the eyes).

If a baby’s bris is scheduled for Shabbos and he was not conceived naturally, but through infertility treatments, the mohel should be informed and a discussion should take place with a competent rav to determine whether the bris may be performed on Shabbos.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED A CHATZITZA FOR WOMEN DURING NETILAS YADAYIM?

A ring that a woman removes occasionally, such as when she kneads dough, is considered a chatzitza (barrier) for netilas yadayim (ritual hand washing), since it prevents the water from reaching the entire hand, and must therefore be removed before washing. The fact that the ring might be loose is immaterial, since the halacha is that we aren’t baki (experts) in determining how loose a ring would have to be for it not to be a chatzitza. Since most women these days remove their rings at least occasionally, the rings must therefore be removed prior to netilas yadayim.

Some women have the habit of putting their rings in their mouths while washing, but they must take them out before saying the bracha because one’s mouth must be completely empty when saying a bracha.

Nail polish is not a chatzitza for netilas yadayim provided that the nail polish is intact. However, once it starts peeling or cracking it could become a chatzitza, which is one of the reasons that some women avoid using nail polish.

MAY GIRLS UNDER BAS MITZVAH SEPARATE CHALLA?

On a previous occasion we discussed the halachic issues involved in challa-baking events, noting that challa may not be separated with a bracha if the dough is then divided into small portions to be taken home by the participants.

A related question which is often asked concerns bas mitzvah celebrations where the bas mitzvah girl and her friends want to bake challa together. Assuming that the problem mentioned above doesn’t apply—either because the host family is keeping all of the challa, or for some other reason—may girls under bas mitzvah separate challa?

The halacha is that children during the year preceding halachic maturity, i.e. before their bar or bas mitzvah, which for girls is eleven, are deemed a mufla ha’samuch l’ish (near maturity), and if they separate truma it’s valid—provided that they are aware Who they’re separating truma for. Likewise, challa separated by girls this age is also valid. However, l’chat’chilla (ideally), it should be done by girls who are already bas mitzvah.

MAY I SLEEP ALONE IN MY HOUSE?

A man should not sleep alone at night in a house; according to many poskim, this also applies to sleeping alone in a room, even if there are other people in the house. One of the reasons given for not sleeping alone is that it’s considered dangerous, and that the Satan takes the opportunity in such a case to emphasize a person’s shortcomings as an act of Heavenly prosecution. If the door of the room remains open or, according to some, even unlocked, it’s not considered being alone.

There are various solutions which are suggested as a means of sidestepping this issue. One which is acceptable to most poskim is to leave a light on in the room (or allow outside light in), since there’s only a problem if the room is completely dark.

A number of other justifications for leniency are mentioned, some of which are: sleeping in a room where there is a mezuzah or s’farim (holy books), having recited Krias Shma al HaMitta (the prayers before retiring for the night), and wearing tzitzis. Some poskim also state that sleeping shinas ara’i (for a short time) isn’t an issue, while some say that neither is sleeping in a beis ha’midrash or in a sukka. There are those who argue that this problem doesn’t apply on Shabbos or Yom Tov, and certainly not on the first night of Pesach, when we are protected from harm. However, all of these leniencies are debated and contested by other poskim, and the only solution that is accepted by most authorities is leaving a light on, as mentioned above. Finally, some sources state that this halacha doesn’t apply to women.

“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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