Chullin 27b: Is Fishing Tzaar Baalei Chaim?

Chullin 27b: Animals were created from earth, so they need both the esophagus and windpipe cut. Fish were created from the water, so they don’t require any shechitah. Birds were created from the mud, so they only need one tube cut.

Rema Yoreh Deah 13:1: It is allowed to cut a piece off a live fish and eat it, but it is forbidden to eat a whole fish live because of the prohibition, “Do not make yourself disgusting.”

חולין כז ע”ב: דרש עובר גלילאה: בהמה שנבראת מן היבשה ־ הכשרה בשני סימנים, דגים שנבראו מן המים ־ הכשירן בולא כלום, עוף שנברא מן הרקק ־ הכשרו בסימן אחד.

יורה דעה יג,א בהמה חיה ועוף טעונין שחיטה דגים וחגבים אין טעונין שחיטה: הגה ומותר לאוכלם מתים, או לחתוך מהם אבר ולאכלו, אבל אסור לאכלן חיים משום בל תשקצו.

The Hamodia newspaper recently interviewed Rabbi Boruch Cohn, a rebbi in Lakewood who enjoys fishing in local lakes and streams. Their first question was, “Fishing is not known to be a popular downtime activity in our circles. Is there a good reason for this?”

Rabbi Cohn replied, “I don’t have a clear answer to this one, but it might be that people don’t have the time or perseverance to fish; it’s not a pastime for those who want instant gratification! Another reason could be that they’re prone to associate it with hunting, which is assur. When I was thinking of taking up fishing, I discussed the issue with Dayan Yaakov Posen, shlita, of Washington Heights, where I grew up. He advised me that the issur of tzaar baalei chaim (causing affliction to living things) does not apply to fish and gave me an enthusiastic go-ahead. I have since spoken to several Lakewood poskim on this matter, and they are in full agreement with Dayan Posen.” 

(Hamodia, July 8, 2020, Community p. 25)

[Actually, the problem with hunting, according to the Noda Beyehuda (Tinyana YD 10, brought in Pischei Teshuva YD 28:10), is not tzaar baalei chaim, for two reasons:

1) People use the skins, and there is no prohibition on tzaar baalei chaim when the animal is used for the needs of man. The source for this is Piskei Hatosafos Avodah Zarah 11a, explaining why it is allowed to cut the hooves of the king’s horses after the king dies.  

2) There is no prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim when you are killing the animal, only when you are keeping it alive and suffering. This is based on Chullin 7b, where Rabbi Pinchus ben Yair reprimanded Rebbi for owning dangerous white mules. Rebbi proposed cutting their hooves, but Rabbi Pinchus responded that this would be tzaar baalei chaim. Then Rebbi proposed killing them, to which Rabbi Pinchus responded that it would be bal tashchis – wastefulness. From this exchange we see that killing can never be tzaar baalei chaim.

Rather, the problem with hunting is that killing animals for sport is cruelty. We are enjoined to feel that “His mercies are upon all His creatures” and that is why we don’t say bless someone who buys a new leather garment that he should wear it out and buy a new one (Rema Orach Chaim 223:6). Therefore hunting, unless done for a living, may not be strictly forbidden but it does inculcate a bad midah and is not the right thing for a Jew to do.

Furthermore, going out to the forests where the wild animals live is dangerous, and one is forbidden to place his life in danger. Esav was an expert hunter, yet he testified on himself, “Behold I am going to die,” and the Ramban explains that he was likely to die in his father’s lifetime, so he did not need the birthright. One who hunts to make a living is permitted to risk his life, as it says, “He risks his life for it” (Devarim 24:15). But if he doesn’t need the money, it is forbidden.

According to this, it would seem that fishing for sport should exemplify the same bad midah of cruelty as hunting for sport. Tzaar baalei chaim may not apply, but the midos argument still would.

The Noda Biyehuda’s contention that there is no prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim when killing the animal would seem to be against the Sefer Hachinuch 451, who says that the reason for slaughtering at the neck with a perfectly sharp knife is in order to minimize tzaar baalei chaim. According to the Chinuch, we could prove that the prohibition does not apply to fish from the very fact that no shechitah is required.

The nafka minah between the Noda Biyehuda and the Chinuch would be in the question of whether one may make a fish suffer when not killing it. According to the Noda Biyehuda it is forbidden, while according to the Chinuch it is permitted.

Rabbi Menashe Klein (Mishneh Halachos 6:216) was asked whether someone who has an aquarium in his house is obligated to feed the fish before eating a meal. The questioner had brought proof from the fact that one may cut a piece off a live fish, that there is no prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim on fish. R’ Menashe counters that perhaps there really is tzaar baalei chaim on fish, yet eating from a live fish is allowed because the prohibition on causing pain doesn’t apply when using the animal for human needs. We see, for example, that one may cut off and eat a piece of a ben pekuah (a live baby found inside a slaughtered cow) even though it is alive and certainly feels pain (Taz YD 13:3).  

Then he brings a proof that there is indeed tzaar baalei chaim on fish, from the fact that one may not harness two different kinds of fish to his boat (Bava Kama 55a). The prohibition on harnessing two different species is because of tzaar baalei chaim, since an animal does not like to work together with a different kind of animal (Chinuch 550). If this applies to fish, then clearly there is tzaar baalei chaim on fish. He concludes that one must feed his fish before eating a meal (and therefore recommends not keeping an aquarium, lest one transgress this prohibition when eating away from home).

Thus there appears to be an internal contradiction in the Chinuch. If fish have tzaar baalei chaim, then why is it allowed to eat them without shechitah? And you cannot answer, as R’ Menashe Klein does, that for the purpose of man there is no prohibition, because the Chinuch says that even at the time of shechitah we try to minimize pain.

Rather, the answer is probably that the Chinuch’s approach is merely to suggest reasons for mitzvos (often, as in these two cases, more than one reason for each mitzvah), without being particular that everything he says leads to the same halachic conclusions.]   

Bava Metzia

Bava Metzia 76b: The Ill-fated Shabbos Nachamu Getaway

Bava Metzia 76b: Rava said: If someone hired workers to dig ditches, and it rained and filled the land with water such that they were unable to dig, if the workers examined the land the day before and were aware that it might rain, he need not pay the workers. But if they did not examine the land the day before, the owner must pay the workers as much as a worker would accept to agree not to work.

בבא מציעא עו ע”ב: אמר רבא: האי מאן דאגר אגירי לרפקא, ואתא מטרא ומלייה מיא. אי סיירא לארעיה מאורתא ־ פסידא דפועלים, לא סיירא לארעיה מאורתא ־ פסידא דבעל הבית ויהיב להו כפועל בטל. פרש”י סיירא לארעא מאורתא והוליך הפועלים שם וראוה ולא הבינו שהיא לחה או שמא ירדו גשמים בלילה לית להו כלל דהא חזו אינהו גופייהו ועל מנת כן נשתכרו לו. לא סיירוה מאורתא – עליו היה לתת לב לדבר ולהודיעם אם תמצאו שדה לחה לא אתן לכם כלום, ויהיב להו כפועל בטל.

A catering company rented out a hotel in the Catskills and made a Shabbos Nachamu getaway. On Thursday afternoon there was a power outage that lasted until Shabbos, and all the food they prepared got spoiled, or could not be cooked. But the guests already arrived, so they needed something to eat for Shabbos. The catering company rushed out and bought boxes of matza and gefilte fish jars, and that was all the guests had to eat for the whole Shabbos.

Afterwards the guests took the catering company to a Din Torah and demanded their money back. The company responded that they deserved some of the payment, since they had at least given them a Shabbos retreat. The dayan opened up a Yom Kippur machzor and said, “When Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos, some say the words רצה במנוחתינו (accept our rest) and some do not. Your dispute depends on that dispute. Those who don’t refer to Yom Kippur as a day of “rest” hold that a day without eating cannot be restful. The Mishnah Berurah (582:20) paskens like this opinion. Accordingly, a Shabbos without normal, hot food is not a Shabbos, and they do not have to pay.”

Source: Rabbi Hillel David

[It sounds like the psak was that the guests do not have to pay at all. But from our Gemara we see that when an unforeseen accident cancels a job, the workers (i.e. the caterers) must be paid. Only in the case of rain, which is common, and the workers saw the property and realized that rain would make the job impossible, do they lose their wages, since they accepted that risk. But a power outage lasting a whole day is a very rare occurrence which no one expected. Seemingly then, the guests must pay at least some of the price of the getaway.]


Shabbos 66b: A Ruby Prevents Miscarriage

Shabbos 66b: A woman may go out on Shabbos wearing a retaining stone (to help her retain her pregnancy and not miscarry) or with another object that weighs the same as it – even if she has never miscarried in the past, and even if she is not yet pregnant.

שבת סו ע”ב: תנו רבנן: יוצאין באבן תקומה בשבת, משום רבי מאיר אמרו: אף במשקל אבן תקומה. ולא שהפילה ־ אלא שמא תפיל, ולא שעיברה ־ אלא שמא תתעבר ותפיל. ופירש הט”ז או”ח ש”ג כ”ד שטערי”ן שו”ס.

A woman was in the delivery room for hours but could not give birth. The husband called R’ Meir Scheinberg and asked him what to do. Rabbi Scheinberg asked, “Did she take off the ruby from around her neck?” She took it off, and immediately she was able to give birth.

Source: Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Scheinberg


Sanhedrin 77b: Turning on an Electric Switch on Shabbos

Sanhedrin 77b: Rava said: If a murderer shot an arrow at his victim, and the victim was holding a shield, and someone came and took it away, or even if the murderer himself came and took it away, he is exempt from punishment, because at the time he shot the arrow there was something blocking it.

Rav Papa said: If a murderer tied down his victim and then opened a water stream over him, it is as if he shot an arrow at him and he is liable.

סנהדרין עז ע”ב: ואמר רבא: זרק חץ, ותריס בידו, ובא אחר ונטלו, ואפילו הוא קדם ונטלו ־ פטור, דבעידנא דשדייה ביה ־ מיפסק פיסקיה גיריה.

אמר רב פפא: האי מאן דכפתיה לחבריה ואשקיל עליה בידקא דמיא ־ גירי דידיה הוא, ומיחייב. הני מילי ־ בכח ראשון, אבל בכח שני ־ גרמא בעלמא הוא.

In 1934, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski was asked about electric lights on Shabbos. He was shown a journal called Beis Vaad Lachachamim, printed in New York in 1903, in which there appeared a short letter by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein, author of the Aruch Hashulchan. The Aruch Hashulchan argued that it should be permitted to turn on an electric light on Yom Tov because the fire is already present in the wires. Then he added a second argument that would apply to Shabbos too: when one turns on the switch, he is not creating the fire, only allowing it to reach the bulb, which would be considered “grama” (an indirect action). The Gemara in Shabbos 120b quotes the posuk, “You shall not do any work,” and says, “Doing is forbidden, but indirectly causing is permitted.” Thus one may make a wall of barrels full of water around a fire, so that when the fire reaches them it will be extinguished.

Reb Chaim Ozer explains that the Aruch Hashulchan’s second argument seems to be based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin 77b, which says that the one who took away the shield, allowing the arrow to hit the victim, is exempt. So too, when one turns on a light switch, he is not creating the electric power that goes to the bulb. That power is already in the wires, ready to shoot out. He is just bridging the gap in the circuit.

However, argues Reb Chaim Ozer, the electricity is more similar to the other case in that Gemara, in which someone opens a water stream to kill his victim. The Yad Ramah explains the difference between the two cases: At the time one removes the shield, the arrow is not here yet, but at the time one removes the obstacle in the water stream, the water is pressing up against the obstacle, ready to flow. Here too, the electricity is in the wire ready to flow as soon as the gap is bridged; so it is not “grama”.

Furthermore, even if we were to consider turning on the switch a “grama”, not every “grama” is exempted on Shabbos. The Gemara says in Bava Kama 60a says that winnowing the grain is an act of work on Shabbos, even though the person is just throwing the grain into the air and the wind is doing the job of separating out the chaff. Based on this, the Even Haozer (Orach Chaim 328) argues that pouring wheat into a grinder powered by a water wheel is an act of work (not as the Magen Avraham rules in Orach Chaim 252:20). The rule is that if one is doing the work normally, and the other power helping him (wind, water etc.) is part of his plan, then the Torah categorizes it as work, unlike the case of putting out a fire with a wall of full barrels, which is a unusual method, resorted to on the spur of the moment. Therefore, turning on an electric switch, though it may be “grama”, is the normal way, and would therefore be forbidden.

Source: Achiezer v. 3 siman 60


Yevamos 120a: Washing Meat to Extend the Salting Deadline

Yevamos 120a: One may not testify that a man is dead unless he saw him within three days of death, but if he saw him later, his appearance may have changed and the witness could mistake his identity.

Rav Dimi permitted the wife of a man who drowned in Karmi and was pulled out of the water more than three days later. Rava permitted the wife of a man who drowned in the Tigris and was pulled out onto the bridge five days later. The reason is because water tightens up the body.

The Aruch Hashulchan 69:72 says that this is proof to the rule of the Gaonim, brought in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 69:12, that one may not rely on salting to remove the blood from meat after three days, because the blood dries up inside the body (causing the face to be disfigured) and cannot be removed by the salt. Thus if the meat was soaked within the first three days, it can be salted even after three days, similar to the man who fell into the river whose blood and appearance is kept fresh by the water.

יבמות קכ ע”א: אין מעידין אלא עד ג׳ ימיםֹ. ופירש רש”י אם ראוהו בתוך ג׳ ימים למיתתו מעידין עליו אבל אם לא ראוהו עד לאחר ג׳ ימים חיישינן שמא נשתנו מראית פניו ואין זה שהם סבורים.

שם קכא ע”א: דההוא גברא דטבע בכרמי, ואסקוהו אבי הדיא לבתר תלתא יומין, ואנסבה רב דימי מנהרדעא לדביתהוֹ ותו, ההוא גברא דאטבע בדגלת ואסקוהו אגישרא דשביסתנא, ואנסבה רבא לדביתהו אפומא דשושביני לבתר חמשה יומיֹ וכו’ שאני מיא, דצמתי.

שו”ע יו”ד סט,יב: בשר ששהה ג׳ ימים מעת לעת בלא מליחה נתייבש דמו בתוכו ולא יצא עוד ע״י מליחה ואין לאכלו מבושל אלא צלי וכו’.  

שם סעיף יג: ואם שרו אותו במים תוך הג׳ ימים יכול להשהותו עוד שלשה ימים אחרים פחות חצי שעה.

Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff served as a rav in Buffalo, New York. One short erev Shabbos, there was a severe blizzard across a large part of the country; the major interstate highways and all state routes were closed. About half an hour before Shabbos, the telephone rang.  “Rabbi Kaganoff, I was given your phone number in case of emergency,” said the woman on the other end. “I am a dispatcher for the All-American Transport Company. We have a load of kosher meat held up by the storm that needs to be washed by Saturday night.” Rabbi Kaganoff asked her if she knew the last time the meat was washed. “It was last washed 11 p.m. Wednesday and needs re-washing by 11 p.m. Saturday.”

He politely asked if she could call him back in about 25 hours, which would still be several hours before the meat’s deadline.

Right after Shabbos, the telephone rang again. A different, unfamiliar voice identified itself as the driver of the stuck truck. His vehicle was exactly where it had been Friday afternoon, stranded not far from the main highway.

Rabbi Kaganoff said he would make some phone calls and get back to him. But he could find no mashgiach in the vicinity of Nebraska who was able to go and supervise the washing of the meat. With no good news to tell the trucker, he procrastinated on calling him back.

An hour later, the phone rang again, with the trucker on the line. “Rabbi,” he said, with obvious excitement in his voice, “I’ve solved the problem. I discovered that I was stranded a few thousand feet from a fire station. And now, all the meat has been properly hosed. Listen to this letter:

“On Saturday evening, the 22nd of January, at exactly 9:25 pm, I personally oversaw the successful washing of a kosher load of meat on trailer 186CX and tractor 2008PR. To this declaration, I do solemnly lend my signature and seal,

James P. O’Donald, Fire Chief, Lincoln Fire Station #2.”

Probably noticing Rabbi Kaganoff’s momentary hesitation, the trucker continued, “Rabbi, do I need to have this letter notarized?”

“No, I am sure that won’t be necessary,” he replied. He was not about to tell the driver that halachah requires that a Torah observant Jew supervise the washing of the meat. On the contrary, he complimented him on his diligence and his tremendous sense of responsibility.

Now it was Rabbi Kaganoff who had a responsibility on his hands: Since he knew the meat’s ultimate destination, he needed to inform the rabbi of that town of the situation so that he could reach a decision.

The rabbi of that town consulted with a posek who reasoned that since the truck had been stuck in a major blizzard, unquestionably the meat had been frozen solid, and that they could rely on this to kasher the meat after it thawed out.

Although the Pri Megadim and others do not allow extending the 3-day deadline by freezing, the Aruch Hashulchan and others disagree, and R’ Moshe Feinstein relied on it in extenuating circumstances. (Igros Moshe YD 1:27, 2:21)


[We see here that the kashrus supervisors in this meat plant allowed two leniencies: 1) They allowed extending the 3-day deadline further by washing the meat a second time – the Yad Efraim is uncertain whether this works. 2) They allowed simply hosing down the meat, as opposed to soaking it, and thus they would have relied on the fire hose if not for the fact that it was done without Jewish supervision. The Taz says it must actually be soaked, and the Yad Avraham allows rinsing only in cases when the veins in the meat were already removed. Evidently, the kashrus supervisors in this story relied on the Yad Efraim, who says that one should not be lenient and rinse the meat if it is possible to soak it, implying that if there is no other way, it may be rinsed.]  

Bava Kama

Bava Kama 46a: The Ferocious Newborn Calf

Bava Kama 46a: If a cow gored an ox, and we find its newborn calf next to it, and we don’t know whether the calf was born before the goring or afterward, he collects half the damages from the cow or a quarter of the damages from the calf.

ב”ק מו ע”א וכן פרה שנגחה את השור ונמצא ולדה בצדה, ואין ידוע אם עד שלא נגחה ילדה אם משנגחה ילדה ־ משתלם חצי נזק מן הפרה ורביע נזק מן הולד.

When R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky was 10 years old, he had a rebbe who taught this Mishnah incorrectly. The Mishnah actually means that the owner of the ox is claiming that the cow was still pregnant when it gored. Since damage payments for an animal that was not accustomed to gore (תם) are limited to the value of the animal, he claims that the baby was inside its mother at the time of the incident, so that he may collect from both the mother and the baby. The owner of the cow claims that the baby was already born before the incident, and thus is not subject to collection.

This rebbe, however, got the arguments reversed. He said that the owner of the ox claims that the baby was already born, and it too participated in the goring, so it is subject to collection; the owner of the cow claims it was not born yet and is thus innocent.

Reb Yaakov, having grown up on his grandfather’s farm, had seen newborn calves and knew that they could hardly stand on their feet and are incapable of goring. He asked his rebbe, “But how could a newborn calf gore?” The rebbe shouted at him, “How dare you argue on a Mishnah like an apikorus? From asking such questions, I am sure you will someday go off the derech!” 

The young boy humbly accepted his rebbe’s explanation, but still struggled to imagine a baby calf causing damage. But then he remembered hearing his mother read a story from the Tzenah Urenah (Parshas Noach), based on a Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 5:1) which says:

עובדא הוה בחד אתתא דילידת בלילה ואמרה לברה אזיל ואדליק לי בוצינא ואנא קטע שורך אזל למדלק בוצינא ופגע ליה שידא שריהון דרוחתא עם דמתעסקין דין עם דין קרא תרנגולא א״ל אזיל גלוג לאמך ואמור לה אילולי דקרא תרנגולא הוינא קטיל בך א״ל אזיל גלוג לאמא דאמך דלא קטעת אמי שורי דאי קטעת אמי שורי הוינא קטיל לך.

Before the Mabul, a mother once told her newborn baby to go fetch a candle so that she could cut his umbilical cord. While out, he met the Prince of the Demons. As they were talking, the rooster crowed. The demon said, “Go tell you mother that had the rooster not crowed, I would have killed you.” The baby replied, “Go tell your mother’s mother that had my mother cut my umbilical cord, I would have killed you.”

The young Reb Yaakov concluded that the Mishnah must be talking about a monetary dispute in the generation before the Mabul, when even newborn babies were strong and capable. Later in life, he joked, “This was the first of my chiddushei Torah.”

Source: Making of a Godol, p. 144


Krisos 25a: In one day, you won’t sin

Krisos 25a: They said of Bava ben Buta that he used to bring an asham taluy every day, except for the day after Yom Kippur. He said, “I swear by the Temple that if they would let me, I would bring it then too. But they say to me: wait until there is a possibility that you sinned.”

כריתות כה ע”א אמרו עליו על בבא בן בוטא שהיה מתנדב אשם תלוי בכל יום, חוץ מאחר יום כיפורים יום אחד, אמר: המעון הזה, אילו היו מניחין לי הייתי מביא, אלא אומרים לי המתין עד שתכנס לבית הספקֹ.

The desk of the Rogachover Gaon was always piled high with postcards, on which he would write his responsa. As soon as he finished writing a postcard, he would ask his shamash to go and drop it in the mailbox, because he didn’t want to make the asker wait any extra time to receive his answer. 

Rabbi Pinchas Teitz said of the Rogachover, “He wrote so many responsa, I would estimate between forty and fifty thousand. He remembered every letter he wrote – the asker, the question, the date and his response. I am not sure if there was anyone in Jewish history who wrote as many responsa as he did.

“One day, so many letters arrived that the mailman could not fit them all into the Rogachover’s mailbox, so he placed them on the doorstep. When I came to the house, I picked up the bundle and saw that there were 16 letters and 6 double postcards. The Rogachover sat down immediately and in about an hour and a half, all his responses were written and ready to send. He did not even have to look up anything in a sefer.

“Often he began his letters with a question or chiddush he was reminded of as he marked the date. For example, he once penned a letter on the day after Yom Kippur. As he wrote the date, “Erev Shabbos Kodesh 11 Tishrei,” before he wrote the year, he mentioned the argument of the kohanim to Bava ben Buta that he should not bring an asham that day, because there was not yet a possibility that he had sinned. Then he was evidently bothered: why is it not possible? In reply, he referenced the Gemara in Me’ilah 14a-b. There the Mishnah states that if the treasurer of the Beis Hamikdash buys wood for building, and someone sits on the woodpile, he commits me’ilah – misuse of sacred property. But, asks the Gemara, didn’t Shmuel say, “We build the Beis Hamikdash out of non-consecrated materials and then later we consecrate the finished building, lest one come to derive benefit from the materials during the building process.” Rav Papa resolves this by saying that the Mishnah is talking about wood that is needed for that very same day. Such wood is, in fact, consecrated before the building, because in one day, there is no need to worry that one might sin.

Source: Rabbi Pinchas Teitz, writing in the introduction to Tzofnas Paneach, referring to responsum 124; the Rogachover by Yair Borochov.


Chullin 111a: Kashering Meat Without Salt

Chullin 111a: Perhaps the reason it was allowed to cook the heart and liver was because they dipped them in boiling water, so that the blood was cooked inside the meat and was thus unable to come out. This is similar to the story of Rav Huna, who ate unsalted meat dipped in vinegar, and Rav Nachman, who ate unsalted meat dipped in boiling water.

חולין קיא ע”א אי נמי מיחלט הוה חליט ליה מעיקרא כי הא דרב הונא חלטי ליה בחלא ורב נחמן חלטי ליה ברותחין. וכתב הרי”ף שהגאונים גזרו על זה כיון דאין אנו בקיאין. והערוך השולחן בסימן ס”ט סקס”ח ביאר החשש של הגאונים ואח”כ כתב ומ”מ דעה ראשונה עיקר להלכה ולכן לצורך מותר.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was asked by his grandson, Rabbi Mordechai Tendler, how to prepare meat for a person with a heart condition and high blood pressure, whose doctor told him to avoid salt. R’ Moshe said, “There are two ways: the first is to have a separate pot, cut the meat up into small pieces and drop them into vigorously boiling water. Although we don’t usually use this as a method of kashering meat, because the Gaonim say we are not expert in using it, in this case one can be lenient.

“The second way is to use another type of salt, such as ammonium chloride or potassium chloride. The question about this is only whether such salt works to remove blood. If it is a naturally occurring salt, it definitely works. For we see that Sodom salt has different components from our salt, since it causes blindness, yet it works for kashering. But if it does not occur naturally, then we don’t know if it removes blood.”

Rabbi Tendler suggested that the person should do both: first salt with another type of salt, and then drop into boiling water. This way, if the salt doesn’t work, there is at least a chance that the boiling will work. Reb Moshe said perhaps, but one need not do both. He concluded that the first idea would be the best one to use.

Source: Mesores Moshe, v. 1, p. 209


Berachos 38a: The Bracha on Chocolate

Berachos 38a: On dates that were pounded into a paste, one says the bracha, “Borei pri ha’eitz.” Why? Because they are still in their natural state.

Rashi: Somewhat pounded but not completely pulverized.

ברכות לח ע”א. והלכתא תמרי ועבדינהו טרימא מברכין עלוייהו בורא פרי העץ, מאי טעמא במילתייהו קיימי כדמעיקרא.

רש”י: ושם טרימא כל דבר הכחוש קצת ואינו מרוסק.

שו”ע או”ח ר”ב ס”ז: תמרים שמיעכן ביד ועשה מהם עיסה והוציא מהם גרעיניהם אפילו הכי לא נשתנית ברכתן ומברך עליהם בורא פרי העץ ולבסוף ברכה מעין שלש: הגה ולפי זה ה״ה בלטווערן הנקרא פאווידל״א מברכין עליהם בורא פרי העץ וי״א לברך עליהם שהכל (ת״ה סי׳ כ״ט וב״י בשם הטור) וטוב לחוש לכתחלה לברך שהכל אבל אם בירך בפה״ע יצא כי כן נראה עיקר.

שם ר”ג ס”ז: בשמים שחוקים ומעורבים עם סוקר, הבשמים עיקר ומברך עליהם כדין ברכת אותן בשמים.

מ”ב שם סקי”ב: שחוקים – היינו אף כשהם שחוקים ונימוחים לגמרי עד שאין ניכר בהם תארן הראשון כלל אפ”ה לא נשתנית ברכתן עי”ז לכו”ע דדרך הבשמים לכתוש באופן זה. סקי”ג: הבשמים עיקר – היינו אפילו כשהיה צוקע”ר הרוב ומעט בשמים וכעין שנוהגים בינינו וכו’. 

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach held that the bracha on chocolate is borei pri ha’eitz. He printed this psak in Minchas Shlomo (v. 1 page 610) and followed it himself. Once, his grandchildren were visiting him and chocolate bars were served. One of them asked, “Zaidy, what bracha should I make?” “Go ask your grandmother,” was his reply.

When he reported back that she had told him to make “shehakol”, R’ Shlomo Zalman said, “So why are you coming back to me again?”

Source: Making of a Godol, p. 139

[The logic for saying “shehakol” is, apparently, that the chocolate is completely ground up and bears no resemblance to the original cacao bean. This is similar to the date paste mentioned by the Rema in 202:7 on which one makes “shehakol” when the dates are completely pulverized.

The flaw in this, says R’ Shlomo Zalman, is that while dates can be, and in fact are, eaten in their natural state, cacao beans are bitter and impossible to eat as they are. They must be ground up and mixed with other ingredients to be edible. In this respect they are similar to spices, on which one makes “ha’eitz” even when they are mixed with a majority of sugar.

Furthermore, he argues, Sephardim should definitely make “ha’eitz” since they follow the Mechaber who says that even on completely pulverized dates, one makes “ha’eitz”.

As to the reason why he didn’t pasken for his grandson, perhaps he held that since his psak ran counter to the world’s custom, it would not be right to confuse children with it, especially since one fulfills his obligation in any case with “shehakol.” Only those capable of understanding the reasoning should follow it.

One additional point: R’ Shlomo Zalman begins his piece by writing that he understands why people make “shehakol” when drinking hot cocoa, based on the Shaarei Teshuva 202:19. The Shaarei Teshuva does say that “shehakol” is what the world makes on coffee, tea and hot cocoa. But looking at the Panim Meiros 2:190 he quotes on the subject of coffee and tea, it’s far from clear why that practice is correct. The Panim Meiros gives many reasons to make “ha’adamah” on tea and mentions a great man, Rabbi Shmuel Shatin, who did so; when asked why he went against the prevalent custom, he replied, “Any custom not established by chachamim is not a custom.” Still, the Panim Meiros concludes that he personally says “shehakol” because he does not want to do anything that looks strange to people.]

Moed Katan

Moed Katan 25b: Naming a Son after a Father

Moed Katan 25b: Rabbi Chanin, son-in-law of the Nasi, had no children. He prayed for children and got one, but on the day his son was born, he died. The eulogizer said, “Happiness was turned into sorrow, rejoicing and sadness joined together. At the time of his joy he sighed, at the time that he was graced, his grace went lost. They named him Chanin after him.

מועד קטן כה ע”ב: רבי חנין חתניה דבי נשיאה הוה, לא קא הוו ליה בני, בעא רחמי והוו ליה. ההוא יומא דהוה ליה ־ נח נפשיה. פתח עליה ההוא ספדנא: שמחה לתוגה נהפכה, ששון ויגון נדבקו, בעת שמחתו נאנח, בעת חנינתו אבד חנינו. אסיקו ליה חנן על שמיה.

On 28 Sivan 5701 (June 23, 1941) the German army marched into Lithuania, murdering most of the Jews in its path and herding the rest into ghettos. Among those in the Kovna ghetto was the Lieberman family. The husband had gone to Vilna for a few days, leaving his pregnant wife and young daughter at home, when the Germans attacked. From then on, all communication was cut off between Vilna and Kovna, and Mrs. Lieberman had no idea whether her husband had survived or not.

One day, however, a friend of her husband came from Vilna and said that he and several hundred other Jews, including her husband, had tried to escape from Vilna on foot. In the middle of the road from Vilna to Kovna, German airplanes flew over them and rained down upon them deadly fire, killing many of them. From then on he did not see her husband, and so he assumed he was among the dead. Hearing this, the young wife cried uncontrollably over her husband. Left alone in the world with a young orphan daughter and a baby soon to be born, she would not be consoled and declared that she would go to her grave mourning for her husband.

With Hashem’s kindness, she was able to survive the war hiding out among the gentiles. After the liberation, to her shock, her husband came back from the plains of Russia, where he had fled and survived. The couple’s happiness was boundless. But then the husband noticed his wife calling their young boy by his name. “I named him in memory of you, thinking that you had died,” she explained. He refused to accept this. “One cannot name after a living person. We must change the boy’s name, and even his official documents, so that no one ever calls him by my name again.” The couple came to Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, posek of the Kovna ghetto, to ask what they should do. 

He began by proving that in the time of Chazal, they did indeed name children after living people. When Rabbi Nosson advised a mother on how to do bris milah safely, she named the baby Nosson (Shabbos 134a). When Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon paskened that 60 women were ritually clean, they named their babies Elazar (Bava Metzia 84b).

That is when they named after a gadol hador. As far as naming after an ancestor, we find the Tanna Rabbi Prata son of R’ Eliezer, son of R’ Prata the Great (Gittin 33b). Either the grandfather was already deceased and we would say that they only named after dead ancestors, not live ones; or the grandfather was still alive and we would see from here that although they named after live ancestors, they did not name after fathers, only grandfathers.

[Similarly, we find that the line of Hillel’s dynasty was Hillel, Shimon, Gamliel (Hazakein), Shimon, Gamliel (of Yavneh), Shimon, Rebbi Yehuda Hanasi. If the grandfathers were alive, we would see from here than they named after the living, but not a father.]

The Sephardim carried on this custom, but the Ashkenazim today name only after the dead. If an Ashkenazi were to name after a living grandfather, we would leave the name, since he followed a valid custom. But naming a son after a father was never done in any Jewish community. The only time we find this in Chazal was in the case of a father who died just as his son was born: Rabbi Chanin (Moed Katan 25b).

As to the reason why sons were never named after fathers, Rabbi Oshry proposes that when the father calls his son, he would look crazy in the eyes of others. Also, among Ashkenazim, the father would feel that a son named after him was a bad sign for him.

Furthermore, R’ Yehuda Hachasid wrote in his Tzavaah that one should not marry a girl whose father has the same name as him, or a girl whose name is the same as his mother’s. Presumably the reason for this is that if the young couple lives with their parents, one would not be able to call the other by name (as the Rambam says in Mamrim 6:3). If the son and the father had the same name, it would similarly lead to disrespect for the father when other members of the family call the child.

Therefore, Rabbi Oshry ruled that the name of the boy should be changed, both in everyday life and on official documents.

Source: Shailos Uteshuvos Mimaamakim v. 5 Siman 13