Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

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Various Halachos relating to Tu B’Shvat

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

A.  Praying for a Mehudar Etrog on Shabbos

In light of the previous weeks’ Halacha series dealing with what one is permitted to prayer for on Shabbos, it is in permissible to prayer for meriting a Mehudar Etrog for the upcoming Sukkos, following that which is written in the Sifrei Hakodesh about Tu B’Shvat being an auspicious time (Mesugal)  for praying for such an Etrog.

B.  The Bracha to be said on Dried/Sugared Etrog

“… Borei Pri Ha’aetz” when eating either the flesh or the rind of the sugared Etrog.  We do not however make a Shehechiyanu on the Etrog for numerous reasons brought by the Poskim.

Note: it is important to realize that there is in fact no specific obligation to make a Shehechiyanu on Tu B’Shvat (and therefore one should not be concerned if they cannot find a new fruit on which to make a Shehechiyanu.)

C. Blessings related to the Fruits before and during the Seudah

One who eats the fruits before the Seudah, needs to make a Bracha Achrona (after blessing) – Birchas Hamazon does not cover his obligation.  If one commences the Seuda and forgets to make a Bracha Achrona, he must make a Bracha Achrona during the Seuda and even if he forgot and made Birkas Hamazon, he is still obligated to make the Bracha Achrona afterwards.

One who eats the fruits during the Seuda, needs to make Bracha Rishona over the fruits then, but should not make a Bracha Achrona, as it will be covered by his Birkas Hamazon.

One who eats the fruits before the Seuda with the intention of eating the same fruit during the Seuda as well, should have in mind when he makes the blessing before the Seuda to cover the fruit during the Seuda as well.  That being the case, he should not make Bracha Rishona for the same fruit during the Seuda and also should not make a Bracha Achrona on the fruit that he ate before the Seuda, as it too will be covered by his Birkas Hamazon.

D.  The order of the Brachos:

One who eats various types of food, should ensure to make the blessing on the most important fruit among them, as is decreed by Chazal.  There are may laws associated with this, so we will mention only those laws relevant to Tu B’Shvat itself.

If one wishes to eat fruit from the 7 species which are in front of him, he should make the blessing on them before any other types of fruit.  However, even within the 7 species themselves, the order of precedence is as follows:

1. Olives, 2. Dates, 3. Grapes, 4. Figs, 5.Pomegranates

One should know that this order of precedence is only related to which fruit to make the blessing on first.  However, once the blessing has been made, there is then no specific order as to which of the remaining 6 fruits one has to eat.  Nor is it a requirement to eat all of the specific fruit on which one has made the blessing – rather, one only need taste a little of that  specific fruit before moving on to the other fruits.

Note: If one wishes to drink wine, its blessing takes order of precedence over the 7 species.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE:

As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you are unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek (Halachic Authority).

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Spirit of the Law – Shabbos Part V

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:12:

“It is a mitzvah to wash one’s hands and face … in hot water every erev Shabbos, and if it is at all possible, one should wash his entire body in hot water..”

Rebbe Nachman writes that we must realize that when we do something which distances us from Hashem, the sin forms a blemish that enclothes our souls like a garment. We all unfortunately have very many such garments, and we remove these garments a little at a time. For this reason we often seem to regress while we travel the path of spiritual development. We misunderstand the truth of our situation if we see temporary regressions as symptoms of outright failure. They only show that we are slowly releasing ourselves from these blemished garments which cover our souls.

At first, our progress was checked because we were held back by these garments. Subsequently, our progress improved and we felt better because we had divested ourselves of the uppermost layer of the soiled spiritual garments. A later regression does not necessarily mean that we did anything to instigate a fall—rather, it is just a sign that the next soiled garment is surfacing and it needs attention.

Rebbe Nachman’s words offer powerful encouragement for us when we feel that we are experiencing a yeridah (descent). The general rule is that we can remove all the soiled garments slowly, over the course of many years, by learning Torah diligently with the intention to connect to Hashem and with the knowledge of the flaws that we want to correct.

Reb Nosson of Breslov writes that when washing on erev Shabbos, one should focus on the fact that he is removing the soiled garment of the soul and replacing it with clean garments in the merit of Shabbos. On Shabbos, the main element of our soiled spiritual garments is nullified by the holiness of the day itself. This is why we don our Shabbos finery after bathing on erev Shabbos. This parallel the clean garments with which our souls are dressed—the extra soul-level or neshamah yeseirah that arrives in honor of the Shabbos.

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:13:

“It is forbidden to share a mikveh or bathing area with one’s father, father-in-law, mother’s husband, or sister’s husband…”

The Gemara teaches this halachah and its rationale is that bathing with one of these people can trigger lewd thoughts. Although there are various reasons suggested for why most are lenient about this law, the consensus is that one must be careful to fulfill it. The general rule is that the sages prohibited any activity which could lead to illicit thoughts when a person is in a low state. The reason for this is simple: better safe than sorry. Since what we do matters so much it is very important to have proper safeguards in place so we will not come to do what we may regret later. Another example of this is the prohibition against yichud.

Rebbe Nachman, zt”l, offers a prescription for avoiding negative thoughts. Since two thoughts cannot exist simultaneously in one’s mind, one has the ability to force a redirect in thinking at any moment in time. The thought process is literally like a horse that can stray from the road. However, as soon as one is aware of it the problem is easily rectified. One simply takes the reins in one’s hands and directs the horse in another direction. The horse has no choice but to go where directed. Similarly, one takes hold of his thoughts and turns them in a different direction. This is explained further in Chayei Moharan. There, Reb Nosson, zt”l, describes what he heard from a fellow student in Rebbe Nachman’s name.
“Thoughts were created fluid. For this reason, one’s mind is always on the move, going from thought to thought. [Note: It takes a lot of training to think of one thing for a long period of time. Rav Pinchas of Koritz, zt”l, said that an average person cannot focus on the same good thought for over a half-hour, even on Shabbos! ] This is like the pendulum in a clock that swings from second to second. Even when one sleeps, one’s thoughts are always moving fluidly. When one slumbers deeply he doesn’t remember what he thought but he was always thinking and his thoughts continued to march along. Just insert a different thought into the flow.”

On this subject, Reb Nosson taught that our thoughts are in our hands to think as we will. This is the main place where our free choice is manifest. If I don’t think about it, I will not do it. Similarly, if all day I am focusing on learning or connecting to Hashem, eventually I will achieve this. The main thing in thinking good thoughts and not bad thoughts is that first bad thought. We must be ever vigilant to redirect the beginnings of what seems to be leading to places we don’t want our thoughts to go. When our trend first seems to be turning to a bad place it is still quite easy to redirect our thoughts to better places.

The main protection against negative thoughts, however, is simplicity and temimus. We must accustom ourselves not to be sophisticated and to refrain from thinking extraneous thoughts. We should not let our thoughts roam and we shouldn’t think “too much.” We must cry out very much to Hashem about this—someone who is accustomed to thinking bad thoughts needs to be careful not to give up at all but to cry out to Hashem each time he falls. He must take hold of his thoughts at all times and return them from the depths of the evil inclination to the purity and simplicity of the true Tzaddik.

Someone asked Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l, what he can do to help weed out troubling thoughts. After all, one is not really in control of his thoughts, is he? The Rav told him to return early that night. When the inquirer approached the house he could hear the large family being put to bed. He knocked on the door but no one answered. Assuming that he had not been heard, he knocked again. There was no response. He spent the next ten minutes knocking until he finally left. When he next saw the Rav, he asked about this peculiar occurrence.

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld explained, “I am the baal habayis. If I want you to enter, you enter. If not, you don’t. You are the baal habayis of your head. Leave the negative thoughts outside!”

courtesy of A Fire Burns in Breslov

 

Praying for Ones Needs on Shabbos (Part II)

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

A. When a serious incident happens and a person needs to pray for Mercy:

In such situations, the Halacha dictates that a person can prayer for Mercy, even to the degree of “prostrating oneself…“ (Magen Avraham 288:13, Misnah Brurah 26).  In fact the Shulchan Aruch Harav (Baal HaTanya) writes that in such cases a person should prayer for Mercy immediately!

B. Requesting one’s future needs:

There are those that permit requesting one’s future needs on Shabbos, meaning that one should only prayer for ones future needs and NOT for one’s current needs on Shabbos (Questions and Answers, Halachos Katanos part I 62).  However, those that prohibit the above approach, say that on the contrary, praying for one’s future needs on Shabbos is even worse than praying for one’s present needs (Questions and Answers Yaabetz 64).

D. Praying for one’s Spiritual needs:

According to the language of the Mahara”m Mintz (siman 87), the reason that one is permitted to prayer “Elokay Ad Shlo Notzarti …” (At the end of the Shemonah Esrei dealing with one’s spiritual needs) is because it is not considered a request for one’s needs with the exception of asking for Parnasah etc, which could make it appear as if a person is in a state of grief or anguish over his physical needs.

However, showing regret/remorse for one’s sins is good to say every moment each and every day.

Similarly, it is brought down in Questions and Answers of the Baal HaTanya, that it not forbidden to beg for one’s needs again with the exception of Parnasah etc i.e. those things that are bodily/physical needs.  However, the Baal HaTanya also mentions that showing regret for one’s sins is good to say everyday.

In summary then, the difference between these prayers boil down to praying for one’s physical needs which is forbidden and praying for one’s spiritual needs which is permitted.

E. Confessing one’s sins:

According to the  Mahara”m Mintz it would appear as if this is permissible as it is not considered “requesting one’s needs” per say, however, the Mishna Berurah prohibits such confession.

F.  Crying on Shabbos:

Crying out of emotional feeling towards Hashem, is permitted according to all Poskim.  Even though, there are those that prohibit crying “to release the sorrow from one’s heart”, in practice it is permissible (Shulcha Aruch 88:2, Mishna Berurah siman katan 4).

G. Making a “Mishebeirach”:

It is permissible to make a “Mishebeirach” for an ill person who is in a life-threatening situation, and one is allowed to prayer for such an individual in any form or way. For example as formulated in the Siddur: “…lachlimo, v’larapaso …” (“for his recovery and healing ….”)

In the case of a non life-threatening sickness however, most Poskim forbid making a “Mishebeirach” in the way of a formal prayer. Many have the incorrect Minhag of using this formulated “Mishebeirach” prayer specifically for those that do NOT have a life-threatening sickness or, they include the name of such an individual together with the name of those that do have life-threatening illnesses (Heaven Forbid).

Therefore, the correct Minhag would be to recite a special “Mishebeirach” for the non-seriously ill as is found in many Siddurim, which concludes in the way of a “Brocha”:  “V’Bischar zeh, HaKadosh Baruch Hu Yerachem Alav …” (“And with this merit (of giving Tzedakkah, Hashem should have Mercy on Him  …. “) .

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE:

As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you are unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek (Halachic Authority).

Praying for Ones Needs on Shabbos (Part I)

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

A.   The Talmud Yerushalmi (Shabbos 15:3) writes that it is prohibited to appeal to Hashem for one’s needs on Shabbos.  And even though this prohibition it is not mentioned in the Talmud Bavli, and there is no such ruling to be found in the Rambam or Shulchan Aruch, nevertheless, some Rishonim together with the Tur (siman 188) and the Achronim, do in fact bring such a ruling.

The following are a few reasons brought by the Poskim as to why appealing to Hashem for one’s needs on Shabbos is forbidden:

1. That one should not come to cry on Shabbos (Ra”n).

2. That one has to consider Shabbos to be lacking nothing – i.e. nothing is left incomplete on Shabbos (Korban Haeida).

3. That one should not come to speak words of weekday matters (Divrei Chol) on Shabbos (Questions and Answers of the Yaabetz)

Now, even though there is no Biblical or Rabbinical prohibition against making such requests on Shabbos, doing so then would nevertheless be considered a transgression of the rulings of the Chachamim.

So, on the one hand then, it appears by the statement of the Yerushalmi that there is no license to appeal for one’s physical or spiritual needs on Shabbos, yet on the other hand, we find many prayers on Shabbos that do deal specifically with requesting one’s needs. In this form then, the Poskim rule that it is in fact permissible to make requests for one’s needs. And so,

B.  Any established prayers that contain requests for one’s needs, have no issue in regards to the abovementioned prohibition, for example:

1. “…Ro’einu, Tzo’neinu, Parnas’einu …” which is found in Birkas Hamazon dealing specifically with one’s livelihood (Yerushalmi).

2. “…Elokay Netzor …” which is found at the end of the Shemonah Esrei (Ohr Zaruha part 2,88)

3. “…Ha’Rachaman …” which has numerous requests found at the end of Birkas Hamazon.

C.  Prayers established specifically for Shabbos. Some examples are:

1. “…Berich Shemay …” extracted from the Zohar Hakadosh said during the opening of the Ark.

2. “…Ribon Ha’Olamim …” said after “Shalom Aleichem” on Shabbos night has many requests for one’s needs and is too allowed because it is considered an established prayer (Questions & Answers – Torah Lishma & Rav Pe’alim part 2, 46).

3. “…Ye’heh Ra’avah …” in the Shabbos Zmiros  also contains requests for one’s needs.  However, in this particular case, there are those that hold it is NOT permissible to ask for one’s needs over here, while others allow it.

D. All prayers that are NOT in the form of supplications or requests for mercy, but are rather in the form of Brochos are permissible.  Some examples are:

“…Yekum Purkan …” or Mishebeirachs that are made on behalf of the community after the Torah reading.

E.  Prayers for Klal Yisrael as a whole such as:

“…Zochreinu L’Chayim…” or “…mi Chamocha…” on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE:

As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you are unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any  way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek (Halachic Authority).

Carrying Belongings on Shabbos where there is no Shabbos Boundary (Eruv) – Part II

Weekly Halacha Series

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

Laws pertaining to Carrying Belongings on Shabbos where there is no Shabbos Boundary (Eruv)

PART II

a. Hooks: A hook that is torn and remains attached on one side, and a “loop” torn on one side – for instance as found on trousers, as used to thread a belt –  should one intend to repair it after Sabbath, it is forbidden to go out with it, as the loop is of importance and is not worthless to the garment.  Although, should one intend for it to remain as is, then one is allowed to go out with, as it is no longer of value and it is unimportant to the garment.

b. Bottons: A regular button, although not currently being used, is permitted to go out with.  An “ornamental” button is permitted to go out with too.  A button that is loose, should it not be possible to button up with, or should one not wish to button up with it, one must not go out with it. However, should the button add beauty to the garment, in in a way that the garment look odd with its absence, then one may be lenient and go out with it.

If the button has already fallen off and only the thread remains, in any event, one may go out with the garment. (And not to remove the thread on Sabbath.  Note: If a button falls off and it is one’s intention to sew it back after Sabbath, it is not considered “muktze” (object forbidden for use on the Sabbath) and it is allowed to be picked up and placed aside for safekeeping. 

With regards to a “spare” button that is attached to the garment, there are those who forbid it as it does not have any use for the garment. And there are those who permit it since it is attached to the garment and as it has no value to the garment.  And there are those who say that this is only permissible should the button be regular and not of importance, which is not in the case of a special button that is not common since it is important and is of value to the garment.

In fact, one who is stringent, and one who is lenient, has whom on which to rely upon.  Although, should the button be placed in the pocket of a garment, then according to all opinions (knowledge) it is forbidden to go out with.

a. Labels: A label showing the type of fabric, laundry instructions, price, tested for “shatnez” (checking for linen /wool) should it be sewn or glued to garment it is permitted to go out with, although, should one wish to remove it after Sabbath, then it is forbidden.

b. Towels:  If one wears it on one’s head or shoulders and it protects one from the wind or cold or sun, it is permissible to go out with, in this manner. Although, if one wears it only in order to carry it, it is appropriate to be stringent, as nowadays, it is no longer carried in this way at all.

Shoes that become dirty with mud

a. If the mud is still damp, and if the sole is made from leather, then one may drag ones shoes, but not vigorously. And also one should not scrape it off with a knife as there is a prohibition to “erase” as the leather is smoothed in this manner.

If the sole is made from rubber, then one may drag the mud even vigorously and one may use any object for this purpose in order to remove the mud, as this is not a prohibition to “erase” as this law does not apply to plastic.

a. If the mud has still not completely come off, then one may pour water over it, but not rub it.  However this is only allowed on the sole itself, which is not the case with the remainder of the shoe as doing this may constitute the prohibition of pouring water and rubbing and this would be the prohibition of “washing”.

b. If the mud has already dried, then it is forbidden in any event to drag the shoes, as this would fall within the prohibition of “grinding or mincing”, but one may remove by water as mentioned above. (And know that likewise there is a possibility of prohibition of grinding or mincing while removing dry dirt from a garment.  And G-d willing there will come a time to clarify this.)

Going out with an object forbidden to go out with: Should one realize that one has gone out with an object forbidden to go out with, one should do as follows:

One should NOT stand still.  Rather, one should continue to walk and let go of the object in a different manner.  In other words, if one was holding the object in one’s hand, one would let go of the object and not place it on the ground. And if placed in one’s pocket, one would turn the pocket inside out in order that the object would fall out, and should leave the object there until Sabbath has exited.

This should be done even if one has stopped walking, although, from the outset, one should not stand. Should the object be of value and one cannot leave it there, there are a few suggestions how to return the object to a guarded place but this is not the place to elaborate.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: 

As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you are unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any  way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek (Halachic Authority).

Laws pertaining to Yaaleh V’Yavo, Al Hanissim and Moving the Menorah on Shabbos

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

1)  If someone forgets Rosh Chodesh’s “Ya’ale Ve”yavo” on Mincha of Erev Shabbos, and realized it when it was already too late to repeat Mincha – he should not daven two Shmonei Esrei on Ma’ariv. 

The reason is as follows:

If this was to happen on a weekday, there are divided opinions on whether one can daven Shmone Esrei on the following Ma’ariv as a repayment prayer.  Some say that since it is no longer Rosh Chodesh, an additional weekday Shmone Esrei can not repay the lost Rosh Chodesh Mincha.  Other authorities contend that it is possible.  As a result of the dispute, the halacha is that one should daven the extra Ma’ariv Shmone Esrei twice – but aim that his second Shmone Esrei to be considered a voluntary prayer, akin to the korban Nedava that was brought in the Beis Hamikdash.  This solution cannot apply when Shabbos follows a Rosh Chodesh because one cannot daven voluntary prayers on Shabbos. (Mishna Brura, 108, 36)

2) “Al Anissim” during Seuda Shlishis.  One says “Al Hanissim” when reciting Birkas Hamozon – even if the seuda continues into the night.  The Eshel Avrohom (Butchatch, 188) contends that this applies only if an amount of Kazais of bread was eaten while it was still daytime.  But if one started eating after Shkiya (sunset), one shouldn’t say “Al Hanissim” during Birkas Hamozon.  This is why it is very important to eat a Kazais of bread before Shkiya.

3) Moving the Menorah on Shabbos.

A Menorah used for Chanukah is muktze and cannot be moved even if one needs the place its standing on, or even if one needs the body of the Menorah for a permissible use.

Further more, if the Menorah stands on a table of some sort, that table too becomes muktze like the Menorah and is forbidden to move as well.  This is because the table becomes “A base for a forbidden object”.

However, it is permissible to move the Menorah and its base if the following conditions are met:

1) During bein hashmoshos (between sunset and when the stars come out) a permissible object was on the tray or table where the Menorah is standing.  This makes the base “A base for a permitted object”.

Such permitted object would be Challa or wine for the Shabbos seuda.  Some say that this applies to anything needed for the seuda as well.  But anything that isn’t meant to be used for Shabbos cannot be used for this purpose, because we say that the Menorah is more important to him now than an object he cannot use on Shabbos.  Some say that if the Menorah is made of silver, one needs to put jewelry that is more expensive than the Menorah on the base.

If one didn’t put the permissible object before bein hashmoshos, one cannot place it anymore and the Menorah and its base may not be moved during Shabbos.

2) The reason why one wants to move the Menorah must be for a “permissible objective”, such as needing the table to be elsewhere, or needing the place where the table is now, or the table and the Menorah are in a place where they will obstruct passage.  “Non-permissible objectives” would be guarding the Menorah from damage or theft.

Some say that if one fears the Menorah will fall, spilling the oil and breaking the glass cups, it constituted a permissible objective.  However, if simply passing with care can prevent that from happening, the Menorah and the table may not be moved.

3) For the Menorah to be moved, the neros of the Menorah must be out.  If they are not, the halacha depends on the type of neros one uses.

If one uses oil and wick, one may not move the table while they are still burning burning.  Movement may bring more oil to the wick and increase the fire, which constitutes “flame creation” – or drive oil away from the wick, which constitutes “putting a flame out” (moving such candles gently without making this happen is virtually impossible).

But if the neros are wicks floating in oil or solid candles, movement is permissible as long as it is done gently and with great care.

More details about the above issue:

a)  Even though we would regularly not permit moving,  if the mukze object can be shaken off, here we don’t require that condition.  The reason is that the Menorah will likely get damaged if it is shaken off the table – be it to the Menorah itself or spilling the oil or breaking the glass cups.  However, if it is possible to shake the Menorah off without damage, it should be done.

b) Some contend that all the above relates only to Shabbos candles, but the Chanukah Menorah may not be moved no matter what.

c)  However, everything we said about not being able to move relates to moving in the usual manner.  It is permissible to move the Menorah in an unusual manner (ki’leachar yad) by pushing it with the elbow or the foot.  Obviously this can be done only if the neros are out as such pushing will surely affect the flame in a forbidden manner.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: 

As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any  way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek (Halachic Authority).

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