USING MAASER MONEY FOR OTHER COMMITMENTS
October 17, 2017
Beis Moshiach in #1089, Halacha 2 Go

Selected Halachos from the  One Minute Halachaproject

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

MAY I USE A SPRAY CAN ON SHABBOS?

Some kosher products, such as whipped cream, come in spray cans which bear a warning to consult a rav before using on Shabbos. One issue relevant to whipped cream may be creating a specialty shape on Shabbos, which violates the malacha of bone (construction).

Even if one doesn’t create a specific shape, there remains the question of whether using a spray can on Shabbos is permissible—or does it violate the malacha of zoreh (winnowing – employing the force of the wind)? According to the consensus of poskim, this isn’t an issue due to the mechanics of the cans, since the spray is expelled due to internal pressure and is therefore not comparable to the force of wind.

On the other hand, a pump spray, such as a Windex bottle—which uses a venturi tube system— might be considered zoreh according to some opinions, because it’s akin to using the force of wind, which is not permissible on Shabbos.

While some authorities prohibit spraying whipped cream from a canister on Shabbos due to the issur of molid (creating a new substance), since the cream changes temporarily from a liquid to foam, there are many grounds for leniency.

WE ARE IN OUR FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE. MAY MY HUSBAND TAKE A TRIP?

The halacha is that during shana rishona (the first year of marriage) a married man may not serve in the army or be tasked (even financially) with the security of the city.

Many Rishonim rule that leaving home for an extended period of time is also forbidden, and that is the view commonly followed. According to some poskim, this is the case even if the wife grants permission.

There are poskim who are stringent and even prohibit taking a trip l’tzorech parnasa (for financial reasons). If the couple would otherwise be unable to support themselves properly, there is room for leniency, but even then it should only be undertaken with the wife’s consent.

If the trip is l’tzorech mitzvah (for the purpose of a mitzvah), such as traveling to learn Torah, or if the husband is expected to return the same day, it is permitted.

HOW MUCH TORAH MUST I KNOW?

Question: Every Jewish man is required to fulfill the mitzvah of yedias ha’Torah (mastering the Torah). How is it possible to master the entire Torah?

Answer: On the most elementary level, this means being proficient in halachos hatzrichos (the necessary laws) that people encounter on a regular basis.

On a more comprehensive level, the mitzvah of yedias ha’Torah encompasses kol ha’Torah kulah, the entire scope of classical Torah literature, namely Tanach and the texts composed by Chazal, including even the less studied Midrashim. The Chachmei haKabbala (the sages who promulgated the ideas of Kabbala) revealed that every neshama (soul) has to learn the entire Torah in order to achieve perfection, and whoever fails to do so will be returned to this world in another gilgul (reincarnation) in order to fill the gaps in his knowledge.

Between these two disparate approaches lies a more moderate interpretation of the mitzvah of yedias ha’Torah (and the one given by the Smag [Seifer Mitzvos Gadol, an early, classic work detailing the 613 mitzvos, by R. Moshe of Coucy]): Being knowledgeable in all 613 mitzvos, not only those mitzvos and halachos which are currently relevant, but even those that don’t apply bizman hazeh (during the present era of exile). Practically speaking, the best way to achieve this is by learning Mishneh Torah of the Rambam, one of the only s’farim to cover every single halacha, even those that cannot be fulfilled until Moshiach comes.

CAN I LET SOMEONE WHO FORGOT HIS CARD GO THROUGH THE TURNSTILE WITH ME?

In some places, such as at a men’s mikva, there is a turnstile system in place and a prepaid card is needed in order to enter. What is the halacha if someone says he forgot his card at home and asks us to allow him to pass through with us?

The answer depends on whether the card issued is for a certain number of uses or whether it’s valid for a certain period of time. If the card allows for a certain number of visits, allowing him to go through with us would constitute stealing (and even if he expresses his intent to charge the card at a later time, it would still be considered theft—albeit with the intent of repaying later—and is therefore not permitted). However, in the latter case, where he says his card is good for an unspecified number of visits during a given time, we can believe him and allow him to go through with us, since we can assume he has chezkas kashrus (a default status of being honest).

In view of the above, if someone asks us to allow him to go through the turnstile with us, we should inquire as to which kind of card he has; if he says that he has a card for a specified length of time, we may trust him (if he strikes us as honest and trustworthy). On the other hand, if he attempts to push his way through as we are going in, but offers no explanation, it isn’t our responsibility to stop him.

WHAT BRACHA DO I SAY WHEN I SEE A RIVER OR AN OCEAN?

The bracha of Oseh maaseh b’reishis (thanking Hashem for the wonders of creation) should be recited when we see a large river that has been around since sheishes yemei b’reishis (the beginning of creation).

However, if the river has changed course, even if it happened biyedei Shamayim (due to a natural act from Above), we don’t say the bracha. When encountering a river, we needn’t be concerned that its course may have changed over time, but if it’s unknown whether the river dates back to sheishes yemei b’reishis, no bracha should be said. This is one of the reasons that this bracha is seldom recited, since the provenance of most rivers is unknown. Poskim say, though, that there is no concern with saying the bracha if we see very large rivers, such as the Mississippi.

None of the issues concerning rivers apply to oceans; we certainly should make a bracha when seeing an ocean. Upon seeing the “yam hagadol” (the ‘great ocean’), a special bracha, She’asah es (or Oseh) hayam hagadol, ought to be said. However, since we don’t know which ocean bears that name, we say Oseh maaseh b’reishis instead. Some maintain that the bracha for the yam hagadol should be recited when seeing any ocean which encircles continents, such as the Atlantic Ocean.

CAN I USE MAASER MONEY FOR OTHER TZ’DAKA COMMITMENTS?

There are times when a person may wish to give tz’daka in addition to maaser (one tenth of one’s earnings separated for charity) for an additional z’chus (merit), be it in during an eis tzara (a time of need), when making a mi sh’Beirach (a blessing made in shul with a pledge of a donation), or sponsoring a kiddush in shul in honor of a simcha (happy occasion) or a yahrtzait.

The money pledged for any of the above may not come from one’s maaser money, mainly because it has become a separate davar she’b’chovah (obligation)—aside from the existing obligation of maaser—and also because this pledge was made specifically for the purpose of earning an additional z’chus, which they would not wish to forgo. Even if one had in mind when making the pledge to pay with maaser money, thereby sidestepping the first issue, one should nevertheless use at least some of their own money in order to accrue that additional z’chus.

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Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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