Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shir haMaalot on Friday afternoon

Hi,

On festive occasions, it is tradition to precede the birkat hamazon blessing after meals with Chapter 126 of Tehillim (Psalms), Shir haMaalot.

Because Friday afternoon is considered festive, as seen in the omission of tachanun at that time, one should recite Shir haMaalot before birkat hamazon at that time. The same applies for a meal on Saturday night.

(Rivivot Ephraim 1:140:1)

המצפה לישועה,
Mordechai

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Polishing shoes during the period leading up to Tishah b'Av

Hi,

May one polish shoes during the Nine Days?

We do not launder clothing during the Nine Days leading up to Tisha b'Av. However, polishing shoes may be different from laundering clothing; the same question is raised regarding the prohibition against laundering clothing on chol hamoed, and diverse opinions are expressed.

Many halachic authorities permit blackening and shining shoes during the Nine Days, and only prohibit use of shoe polish. Further, authorities are more lenient regarding polishing shoes for use on Shabbat, within the view that one may wear beautiful Shabbat clothing on the Shabbat before Tisha b'Av.


(Melamed l'Hoil Orach Chaim 113; Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 3:80; Halichot Emet 14:12)

המצפה לישועה,
Mordechai

Monday, July 21, 2014

Saying "Retzeh" by accident in birkat hamazon

Hi,

A paragraph called Retzeh is added to the birkat hamazon blessing recited after meals on Shabbat. One who accidentally says Retzeh on a weekday should go back to the start.

(Rivivot Ephraim 1:139)

המצפה לישועה,
Mordechai

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Covering or removing a knife for the blessing after meals

Hi,

There is a practice of covering or removing knives from the table when reciting the birkat hamazon blessing after eating a meal. Various explanations are offered, including the idea that the table is like a mizbeiach [altar] when one gives from his food to the poor, and just as a mizbeiach may not have a blade upon it, so one's table should not.

The reasons that are suggested for this practice do not seem to apply to a snack, and so one would not need to cover or remove knives when reciting the al hamichyah or borei nefashot blessing after a snack.

(Rivivot Ephraim 1:136:2)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Covering bread during Birkat haMazon

Hi,

Magen Avraham (Rabbi Avraham Gombiner; Magen Avraham 180:4) recommends covering the bread on the table during the birkat hamazon blessing after a meal.

It seems that this is specifically where one recites a blessing on a cup of wine after the blessing after the meal, since the bread is of a higher "rank" and is more deserving of a blessing. Therefore, one who is not reciting a blessing on a cup of wine after birkat hamazon need not cover the bread.

(Rivivot Ephraim 1:136:1)

המצפה לישועה,
Mordechai

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Leaving bread at the end of a meal

Hi,

We are taught to leave a little bit of bread at the end of our meals, for two reasons: (1) for a needy person to come take it, or (2) because in birkat hamazon we ask for G-d to bring blessing upon our table, and that requires that there be something present, to be blessed. [This is brought in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 180:2.]

One who eats in a commercial setting, such as a workplace cafeteria, need not leave anything; it is not likely that a needy person would come take it, and the food will simply be thrown out.

(Rivivot Ephraim 1:135)

המצפה לישועה,
Mordechai

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The five tragedies of the 17th of Tammuz

Hi,

The fast day of the 17th of Tammuz, observed on Tuesday July 15th this year, commemorates five tragedies:

1. Moses descended from meeting Gd and receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai, saw the Jews celebrating with the Golden Calf, and broke the two tablets Gd had given him.

2. The daily Tamid offering, which had been brought regularly in the Jerusalem Beit haMikdash [Temple] from the time the Jews built the Mishkan for over one thousand years, was halted during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem before the Beit haMikdash was destroyed.

3. The Romans invaded Jerusalem, prior to destroying the second Beit haMikdash. (According to the Talmud Bavli, the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem to destroy the first Temple on the 9th of Tammuz. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi, both invasions occurred on the 17th of Tammuz.)

4. A Greek or Roman official named Apostimos held a public burning of the Torah.

5. Idols were set up in the Temple itself; it is not clear what year this happened.

(Mishneh Berurah 549:2)

צום קל ומועיל,
Mordechai