Shabbos 152a: Someone to Sit Shiva

Shabbos 152a: Rav Yehuda said: If someone dies and has no relatives to sit shiva, ten people should go to his place and sit shiva for him.

 שבת קנב ע”א: אמר רב יהודה מת שאין לו מנחמין הולכין י’ בני אדם ויושבין במקומו.

Rabbi Simcha Wasserman and his Rebbetzin were not blessed with children. The Rebbetzin at first used to say she hoped to predecease Reb Simcha so that she shouldn’t have to live without him. Then she changed her mind and said, let me outlive him so that I can sit shiva for him. In the end, she passed away exactly nine days after him.

Source: A Canopy of Stars

[We see here that aveilus is not just for the aveilim; it’s for the niftar. That is why the Gemara says that if there are no aveilim, ten people should go and sit shiva. And by the same token, the Rebbetzin wanted Reb Simcha to have someone to sit shiva for him. See my notes on the story “Learning Torah is Better than Kaddish” brought on Sanhedrin 104a, where it seems that this is a dispute between the Rambam and the Ramban.

In fact, in Yoreh Deah 376:3 the Mechaber quotes our Gemara (that ten people should sit shiva), and the Rema comments that he has not seen people do this; however, there is a minhag to hold daily minyanim in the niftar’s house for seven days. It could be that the Gemara and the Mechaber are going with the opinion that aveilus is for the niftar, while the Rema is going with the opinion that aveilus is for the aveilim.]


Shabbos 73a: What color cloth to use to wipe a wound

Shabbos 73a: Dyeing is one of the 39 categories of work forbidden on Shabbos.

Yerushalmi Shabbos 51a: One who dyes red lips red is liable for working on Shabbos.

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 320:20: One who eats strawberries or other colorful fruits must be careful not to touch his clothing or the tablecloth with colored hands, because this would be dyeing.

Magen Avraham: This is all the more true if the garment is red, because then he would be improving its color with the red juice on his hands.

שבת עג ע”א והצובעו.

ירושלמי שבת נא ע”א המאדם אודם בשפה חייב. קרבן העדה: פירוש אפילו בשפה שהיא אדומה אלא שמוסיף בה אדמימות חייב משום צובע.

שו”ע או”ח ש”כ ס”כ: יש מי שאומר שהאוכל תותים או שאר פירות הצבועים צריך ליזהר שלא יגע בידיו צבועות בבגדיו או במפה משום צובע.

מגן אברהם סקכ”ה: ונ”ל דבגד אדום כ”ש דאסור לקנחו דמתקן הוא.

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau described how his grandfather, Rabbi Yitzchak Yedidya Frankel, went to obtain semichah from Rav Shlomo Dovid Kahane zt”l of Warsaw. R’ Shlomo Dovid was famed for his expertise in finding ways to free agunos and permit them to remarry. Indeed, he succeeded in permitting thousands of such unfortunate widows after World War I. During World War II, he immigrated to Eretz Yisroel. Many more agunos came to his door after the Holocaust.

Every young rav in Poland dreamed of receiving semichah from Rav Shlomo Dovid, for this accomplishment guaranteed a coveted position in a prominent community. Rav Shlomo Dovid regularly delivered a shiur on Shabbos from three in the morning until Shacharis. When the yungeleit would arrive in the driving snow, he would smile widely and offer each one a cup of steaming tea. Generally, some ten yungeleit gathered around his table for the shiur. Now and then, he would address one and ask him a challenging question. Every once in a while, he would tell the young man to come back on Sunday to receive his writ of semichah. Often he asked the yungeleit to come back for a few Shabbosos to be tested again.

When Harav Frankel came to attend the Shabbos morning shiur, the subject was hilchos Shabbos. Harav Kahane addressed an outstanding young man and asked him what to do if someone is bleeding heavily on Shabbos. Should he use a red cloth or a white cloth to stanch the bleeding?

The spontaneous answer, coming from someone who doesn’t know the halacha, is to use the red cloth, because if he uses the white cloth, he will color it red with the blood. Someone familiar with siman 320 in the Shulchan Aruch, however, knows that the Magen Avraham ruled it is better to use the white cloth, explaining that the blood dirties it, which is not considered coloring. On the contrary, if the red cloth is used, the blood colors it a deeper red. The Eliyah Rabbah has a different opinion. Because he was unaware of this information, the young man simply smiled and said that if such an unusual incident would happen, he would hurry to open his sefer and find out what to do. Practically speaking, however, such a case would never come up.

Rabbi Frankel said that he would never forget Rav Kahane’s reaction to this answer. He froze in place and turned ghostly pale. Banging his hand on the table, he screamed out, “A Jew’s blood is flowing, and you have the leisure to open a sefer and study it?” Needless to say, that brilliant young man never got his semichah.

Rabbi Frankel saw this incident as a seminal lesson for every rav. They must know the halacha before the case comes up. They must be able to act quickly and decisively, and above all with care and empathy for another Jew’s suffering.

Source: Hamodia, Inyan, Vayechi 5781, p. 20


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


Shabbos 151a: Burial by a Non-Jew on Shabbos

Shabbos 151a: If non-Jews built a coffin or dug a grave for another non-Jew or for commercial purposes, a Jew may be buried in it. But if they did it for the Jew, he may never be buried in it.

[If one may not even use the grave dug by a non-Jew on Shabbos, certainly one may not hire the non-Jew directly to dig the grave. Why not? On Yom Tov we find that it is permitted (Beitzah 6a). Why should Shabbos be different? Furthermore, we find that Rabbinic prohibitions are permitted for the sake of a dead body on Shabbos: for example, one can carry the body by placing a loaf of bread on top; one may even carry the body out of the house to a Rabbinically prohibited area. Asking a non-Jew to do something is also a Rabbinic prohibition, so why isn’t that allowed too? The answer is provided by the Magen Avraham, and, earlier, by the Rishonim quoted by the Gra:]

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 526:3: On Shabbos and Yom Kippur they should not bury the dead at all, even through a non-Jew. One may not even ask the non-Jew to carry the body out and place it in a grave that was dug yesterday. Magen Avraham: Because of respect for the deceased, so that people should not say that Shabbos was desecrated because of him. Tosafos Bava Kama 81a, quoted by the Gra: Because it is unseemly and disgraceful and embarrassing for a person to be buried on Shabbos, even by non-Jews.

שבת קנא ע”א: עשו לו ארון וחפרו לו קבר יקבר בו ישראל ואם בשביל ישראל לא יקבר בו עולמית.

שו”ע או”ח תקכ”ו ס”ג: בשבת וביום הכיפורים לא יתעסקו בו כלל אפילו ע”י עממין אפילו להוציאו על ידיהם ולהניחו בכוך העשויה מאתמול. מגן אברהם: משום כבוד המת שלא יאמרו שנתחלל שבת על ידו.

ביאור הגר”א: כן משמע בראש השנה שם (כ ע”א) שהקשו [הרמב”ן והריב”ש] אמאי אסרו [קבורה בשבת] בעממין הא התירו שבות משום מעשה טלטול ע”י ככר ותינוק ולהוציאו לכרמלית אפילו לר’ יהודה [דס”ל מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה חייב] כמ”ש בפרק המצניע ותירצו דהכא משום כבודו שלא יאמרו נתחלל עליו שבת או יום הכיפורים וכמ”ש בפרק כ”ג [ממסכת שבת] עשו לו ארון ותכריכין כו’ בעומד באסרטיא כו’ ולפיכך להוציאו כו’ ועיין תוס’ דב”ק פ”א א’ בד”ה אומר כו’.

תוס’ ב”ק פא ע”א: דמן הדין הוה ליה למישרי לקבור מת בשבת אלא לפי שהוא מכוער ומגונה ומתבייש שנקבר בשבת שנעשה באיסור שבת אפילו ע”י נכרי.

On Friday, March 29, 2020, an urgent halacha question arose in the Jewish community of Bucharest, Romania after government authorities instructed that corona virus victims must be buried on the same day they died, or else be cremated.

The community asked Rav Yaakov Rojah, a Zaka rav, what to do if a Jew dies from the corona virus on Shabbos. Should they allow the Jew to be cremated or is there a halachic allowance to bury the body on Shabbos through a nachri?

Rav Rojah found precedent for a heter in an incident that happened many years ago in Jerusalem, published in a monthly journal called Toras Eretz Yisrael. There was a terrible stench due to a meis in Yerushalayim to the point where no one could bear to be in the same building. The Rav of Yerushalayim at the time, Harav Shmuel Salant, z’tl, allowed the meis to be buried on Shabbos by a nachri to avoid bizayon ha’meis.

Rav Meir Acker, the secretary of the Va’ad Rabbanei Zaka urgently brought the shaila to Harav Avigdor Nebenzahl, the Rav of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Nasi of the Va’ad Rabbanei Zaka. Rav Nebenzahl ruled that the Bucharest community was permitted to bury a corona virus victim who dies on Shabbos through a nachri to prevent the body from being cremated.

[It would seem that here, there is no need to base the heter on the precedent of R’ Shmuel Salant’s story. If the reason for not burying the dead on Shabbos were because amirah l’akum, asking a non-Jew, is forbidden for this purpose, then we could weigh the options: cremation which involves no amirah l’akum, but does involve bizayon, or burial through a non-Jew, which involves amirah l’akum but saves bizayon.

But in fact, the Rishonim say that the reason is not because of amirah l’akum, but because of respect for the deceased, so that people should not say that Shabbos was desecrated because of him. If so, whether the non-Jews do cremation on Shabbos or burial on Shabbos, either way Shabbos will have been desecrated because of him. Therefore it would seem obviously preferable to opt for burial so that at least the bizayon of cremation will be avoided.]