Daily Moroccan Halachot

Daily Halachot Topics

Should Hallel be Recited on Rosh Hodesh?

Our Sages enacted that Hallel should be recited on several days throughout the year. In addition to these mandatory days the Gemara (Ta’anit 28b) explains that saying Hallel on Rosh Hodesh is a Minhag and is therefore recited in an abridged format. The rabbis debate whether the abridged Hallel of Rosh Hodesh warrants a blessing and there are three principal approaches to this question. Rabenu Tam explains that even a custom warrants a blessing, and he rules the Hallel of Rosh Hodesh should be recited, whether one prays in a Minyan or alone. The Rambam rules that a blessing should never be said over the abridged Hallel of Rosh Hodesh as it is simply a Minhag. Finally, the Rif takes an intermediate stance by saying that a blessing should be recited only in a Minyan, but not by an individual praying alone.

The Bet Yosef quotes the Ran who testifies that the practice in Spain was to follow the opinion of the Rif. Rabbi David Ovadia says that a blessing should be said whether or alone or with a Minyan, like Rabenu Tam, although most Sephardic communities also follow the Rif’s approach. Although it is unclear what the Bet Yosef himself practiced, he mentioned that the custom in Israel was to never recite a blessing on Hallel of Rosh Hodesh, and indeed this is the custom of Sephardic communities from Syria, Iraq, etc.

Finally, the Moroccan custom is to recite a blessing over the Hallel on Hallel, but only in the a Minyan, as per the Rif. Furthermore, Moroccans recite the blessing “Ligmor Et HaHallel” when the complete Hallel is said, and “Likro Et HaHallel” when the abridged Hallel is said.

Summary:  The Moroccan custom is recite a blessing on Hallel of Rosh Hodesh, specifically “Likro Et HaHallel”. 



      Should Hallel be Recite on Rosh Hodesh

May One Make One’s Own Blessing on Hallel?

Normally on Rosh Hodesh, the Shaliah Tzibbur recites the blessing for the Hallel on the congregation’s behalf and has the intention to acquit the congregants off their obligation. Rabbi Shalom Messas (Tevuot Shamesh § 68) discusses whether an an individual may make a blessing for oneself, if it causes one to pray with more inspiration, for example, and rules that this would constitute an unnecessary blessing. Rabbi Machlouf Abuhatzira (Yetze Sha’a § 14) writes that if the Shaliah Tzibbur is more distinguished than the individual, then the former should make the blessing, otherwise one may make one’s own blessing, and Rabbi Shalom Messas agrees with this stipulation. Furthermore, the Meiri notes that even if one follows the opinion of the Rif (only the Shaliah Tzibbur makes a blessing) and arrived at the synagogue while the congregation was already saying Hallel, one may make a blessing individually.

Regarding the concluding blessing of the Hallel, “Yehalelucha”, Rabbi Shalom Messas rules that similar to the opening blessing, an individual who missed hearing it from the Shaliah Tzibbur may recite in oneself.

Summary:  One may recite the opening and closing blessings of the Hallel on Rosh Hodesh individually, so long as one is praying with a Minyan.



      Hallel Blessing

The Significance of Purim

The most glaring oversight in the Megillah is no doubt that the name of Hashem is missing. The most common Peirush we are used to hearing is in order to ingrain within us the everlasting lesson that although we don’t always see Hashem in a revealed manner, nevertheless, his omnipresence is within us.
Ribi Yosef BenOualid zt”l son of Ribi Yitzhak BenOualid zt”l in his sefer Samo Yosef explains this phenomenon from a different angle: It is written in the passuk in Parashat Yitro “Anywhere where I will mention my name, I will come to you  and bless you” (20:21). He quotes the Sefer Hemdat Yamim who explains why the name of Hashem is omitted in the Megillah, since Hashem does not rest his Presence on Tragedy, and although we were saved, nevertheless “The writing and sealing of the king, cannot be withdrawn”(Esther 8:8 ), and for this reason there was the decree of the Greeks upon us in the Chanuka era. This is why we fast on Taanit Esther. Not only for remembrance of the original decree but to pray every year that the original sin of the generation during the time of Purim should not come to haunt us. This, explains Ribi Yosef BenOualid zt”l is the intention in the passuk “Anywhere where I will mention my name, I will come to you  and bless you”, only in places of complete deliverance, not only a temporary Geulah as was in Purim.
However, this still begs a question, what was so great in the Sin of the Generation of Purim to be deserving of such a tragedy? Hachamim teach us that by partaking in the Seudah of Ahashverosh, the decree of Purim fell upon them. On the surface, this is very difficult to understand. Just by partaking in a forbidden Seudah is grounds to destroy the Jewish people?

To properly answer this question, let us examine, in what context Purim is taking place. Roughly seventy years have passed  after the First Beit Hamikdash was destroyed and the first time in history that the Jewish people as a collective nation found themselves in exile from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael. Indeed this was a very depressing time. Part of their depression was the existential question they were grappling with: Will Hashem’s Shechinah stay with us even in Exile?

Achashverosh contented that Hashem’s presence no longer rested with the Jewish people as they were in Exile. As a proof, according to his calculations, the Seventy years have elapsed and the Beit Hamikdash was still left unbuilt as Hashem has promised. Obviously this meant that Hashem has forsaken his people c”v. In order to buttress this point, Achashverosh made a glorious Seudah, in it he exposed the vessels of the Beit Hamikdash. When the Jews partook in this Seudah, the decree of Lehashmid Ulaharog was sealed. This is puzzling? Just because they partook in the Seudah was a reason to destroy his entire beloved nation?
The answer, explain the Mefarshim, is that the partaking of the Jews in the Seudah of Ahashverosh represented a much deeper issue. By partaking in the Kings Seudah, the Jews were actually conceding defeat. They gave in to their grappling existential question and concluded that Ahashverosh must be right. If Hashem did not deliver them yet, it must be his presence is not with them in exile. Depressing indeed.
According to what was explained above, we can properly understand why indeed the sin during the time of Purim was so great. Not merely because they took part in an improper meal, rather the message behind it, that being that Hashem has left us since we are in Galut. For this reason explains Ribi Yosef BenOualid zt”l  in the name of the Hemdat Yamim, Hashem’s name is not in the Megillah.
Purim Sameach!

Eating Before the Megillah

The Rama (Orah Haim 692:4) writes that one is not permitted to eat prior to hearing the Megillah, even if one is very hungry from the fast of Ta’anit Esther. By eating, one may become occupied with other affairs and may forget to hear the Megillah. The Magen Avraham (692:7) compares this to the prohibition on eating before other Mitzvot and in those cases, the restriction is only on a meal of aKabetza or more. However, regarding amounts less than this, or foods that do not comprise a Halachic “meal”, such as fruit, one would be permitted to eat. Nevertheless, the Magen Avraham rules stringently and says that even tasting a small amount of food is not permitted before hearing the Megillah. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion vol. 4, ch. 54) rules like the Magen Avraham, but says that in a case of great need, one would be able to taste some food prior to the Megillah. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer, vol. 9, § 67) says that anyone is permitted to eat so long as it is not a Halchically-fixed meal, that is, a Kabetza(roughly 56g) or more of bread or other grain products.

There are situations in which the Megillah is read much later than Tzet HoKochavim and fasting past that time may prove quite burdensome. In such a case on can rely on the Aruch HaShulhan (652:5), who says in regards to theMitzvah of Lulav, one is permitted to drink water or a hot beverage. The Mishna Berura (692:16) offers another solution, which is to appoint a Shomer, or a person who will ensure that one is reminded about the Megillah. Although the Mishna Berura refers to someone who is weak or sickly, Rabbi Yosef Sonenfeld (Shalmat Haim) says that even a healthy person could appoint a Shomer, as long as it is in the case of the Megillah being read at a late hour.

Summary:   One is not permitted to eat before hearing the Megillah when it is read right at nightfall. There are leniencies for the infirm or if the Megillah is read later in the night.


How Are the Megillah’s Blessings Recited?

Prior to reading the Megillah on night of Purim, three blessings are recited: “Al Mikra Megillah”, “She’asa Nisim” and “Sheheheyanu”. On Purim day only the first two blessings are recited, although the Ashkenazic communities recite all three. The Mishna Berura (O.H. 690:1) writes that when the blessings are recited, the person reading the Megillah should recite them standing up. The Sha’ar HaTziyun says that even the congregants should be standing while the blessings are being said.  Notwithstanding, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch 521:1)  and Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shu”t Shemesh Umagen, vol. 1, § 63) write that Moroccan custom is for the congregants to sit during the blessings of the Megillah.
The Magen Avraham (O.H. 8:2) points out that whenever a blessing over aMitzvah is recited (“Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu”), it is done so standing up. However, he has difficulty with the blessing that women recite overHala since the Mishna (Hala 2:3) explains that it is done sitting down. The Vilna Gaon reconciles this by saying that a blessing over any Mitzvah which could be performed while sitting could also be recited whilst sitting. Regarding the reading of the Megillah, the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 690:1) rules that it may be read sitting and therefore, according to the Vilna Gaon’s explanation, its blessings could be said while sitting also.

Summary:   The Moroccan custom is for the person reading the Megillah to stand for the blessings, while the congregants sit.

Who is Obligated in Parashat Zachor?

There is a biblical commandment to remember what Amalek did to the Jewish people and this is fulfilled by reading Parashat Zachor. In fact, unlike the Torah readings of Shabbat, holidays, etc., which are rabbinically mandated, there is a Torah obligation to hear Parashat Zachor (and some say, Parashat Para as well). The Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 685:7) adds that if one does not live near a synagogue, one should make a special effort to listen to the Torah on Shabbat ZachorParashat Zachor is read on the Shabbat that precedes Purim since Haman was a descendant of Amalek.
Regarding a woman’s obligation to hear Parashat Zachor, Sefer HaHinuch explains that since women are not obligated to go out to war and would not be involved in wiping out Amalek, they are exempt from this Mitzvah. This is also the opinion of most rabbis and the custom in Morocco was that woman did not go to the synagogue to specifically hear Parashat Zachor. As well, since there is doubt as to a woman’s obligation, the Torah should not be taken out especially for a group of women. Nevertheless, the Kaf HaHaim (Orah Haim 685:30) says that although women are exempt, they may read Parshat Zachor for themselves from aHumash.
Ideally one should hear Parashat Zachor from someone who reads it in the pronunciation to which one is accustomed, such as Sephardic, Ashkenazic or Yemenite. Furthermore, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion vol. 4) says that one should hear Parashat Zachor from a Torah that is written according to one’s tradition, since there are differences in script between the Torah scrolls of different communities. Nonetheless, if one hears this Torah portion from someone who reads it in a different tradition or from a different community’s Sefer Torah, one still fulfills one’s obligation.
Summary:   Listening to Parashat Zachor is a biblical commandment and one should listen to it in the style of one’s tradition. Women are exempt from listening to Parashat Zachor.

How Does One Fulfill Mahatzit HaShekel?

The Rama (Orah Haim 694:1) writes that there is a custom of giving three coins each equal to half the basic unit of currency in that locale (half-dollar, half-pound, etc.) to fulfil the obligation of Mahatzit HaShekel. This is based on the section ofParashat Ki Tisa dealing with the commandment of Mahatzit HaShekel, in which the word “Teruma” (lit. donation) is mentioned three times. Rabbi Yehuda Ayash (Mateh Yehuda), however, says that one mention of “Teruma” refers to donations for the sockets of the Mishkan, another alludes to donations for the remainder of the Mishkan and that only one reference of “Teruma” alludes to the census ofMahatzit HaShekel. As such, he explains that only one coin equal to half the basic unit of currency need be given for Mahatzit HaShekel, and according to Rabbi David Ovadia (Nahagu Ha’am), this is the Moroccan custom as well. The Kaf HaHaim (O.H. 694:20) writes that the value of the Mahatzit HaShekel nowadays is equivalent to the value of 3 Dirhams of silver, which given the current price of silver, is approximately USD $6.   If one wishes to be stringent one can donate this value for each member of one’s family, although this is not our custom.
It should be noted that one may not use funds allocated for Ma’aser for the fulfillment of Mahatzit HaShekel. Furthermore, one should refer to this Mitzvah as “Zecher LeMahatzit HaShekel” (lit. a commemoration of the half-shekel) because by simply calling it Mahatzit HaShekel, there is a concern that the money thereby becomes consecrated and its use restricted.
Summary:   One fulfils Zecher LeMahatzit HaShekel by donating half the basic unit of the local currency, such as a half-dollar in the United States. ​v

Purim Seuda: Is Bread Necessary?

The Mitzvah of having a meal on Purim is specifically in the daytime and the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 695:1) rules that one who does so on the night of Purim does not fulfill one’s obligation. Nevertheless, the Rama (ibid.) writes that one should still have a meal and rejoice on Purim night. The Magen Avraham (where?) cites opinions that hold that one fulfils one’s obligation at night, but this is not the normative Halalcha.

The Poskim discuss whether or not there is an obligation to specifically have bread with the Purim meal. One practical implication of this question is whether or not one would need to repeat Birkat Hamazon if one forgot to insert “Al HaNissim”. Generally speaking, whenever a meal is obligatory, any additions to Birkat Hamazon related to that obligation (like Shabbat, Yom Tov) are also obligatory. The Maharshal (Yam Shel Shlomo) rules that there is an obligation to have bread, and therefore if one had a bread-based meal on Purim and forgot “Al HaNissim”, one would have to repeat Birkat Hamazon. The general consensus, however, is that one still fulfills one’s obligation of the Purim meal even if one did not eat bread. It is noteworthy that Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion, vol.) writes that the ideal way to perform the Mitzvah of the Purim meal is to include bread, and thus if one is able to one should eat bread.

It should also be noted that even if the Purim meal extends into the night and, the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 695:3) rules that one must still recite “Al Hanissim” in Birkat Hamazon.

Summary:   Although one fulfills one’s obligation of Seudat Purim even if one does not eat bread, one should ideally eat bread if possible.


      Purim Seudah

Is the Yehi Ratzon Prayer a Hefsek?

There is a custom to recite a special prayer when eating each of the Simanim on Rosh Hashana that alludes to that particular food. For example, when eating the pomegranate we say “May it be Your will that our merits increase like pomegranates”. The rabbis discuss the order of the blessing and the prayer. Normally, when one recites a blessing over food, one must eat it immediately so as not to cause a Hefsek, an interruption. The MagenAvraham (583:2) says that the Yehi Ratzon prayers may be recited between the blessing and the eating of theSimanim, and that this is not considered a Hefsek since there is a need for those prayers. The Ma’amar Mordechai and the Ben Ish Hai explain that it is preferable not to recite the Yehi Ratzon in this order as it may constitute an interruption.

Rabbi Yitzhak Ben Danan (LeYitzhak Reah § 200) says that the Moroccan custom is like that of the MagenAvraham. For those who suggest the prayer be said after partaking of the food, he says that it is futile since, after eating the Siman, the matter is closed so to speak. For those who suggest to say the Yehi Ratzon before the blessing over the food, this would be like advancing one’s needs before Hashem’s. It is inappropriate to ask for a good year, merits, etc. and then to bless Hashem for the foods He provides us.

Interestingly, although the common practice is to dip apples in honey, Rabbi Ben Zion Mutzafi (Shofar BeTzion) explains that honey represents Divine Judgment on a Kabbalistic level. Therefore there is a custom among some to dip the apples in sugar instead.

Summary:   The Moroccan custom is to say the blessing over the Siman, then the Yehi Ratzon prayer and then to eat the Siman.




Does One Make a Blessing on Simanim?

The Talmudic sage Abaye explains (Keritut 5b) that on Rosh Hashana it is auspicious to eat symbolic foods, “Simanim”, and this is codified in the Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 583:1). Since this ritual is performed in the evening at the beginning of the meal, there is debate as to whether it should be done between Kiddush and HaMotzi, or after HaMotzi. Normally, the blessing over bread exempts other foods eaten at the meal so that a blessing for other foods is not made from needing a separate blessin. Foods that are not considered to be part of the meal, however, such a candy (even if eaten during the meal), would require a separate blessing.

There is debate among the Moroccan rabbis regarding saying blessings over the symbolic foods. Some of the Simanim, especially vegetables, are cooked and may be considered as being part of the meal, and therefore there is question as to the propriety of saying a separate blessing over them. Rabbi Yedidia Monsonego (Shu”t Pe’at Yam, § 1) and Rabbi Haim Messas (Shu”t Leket HaKemah § 200) both say that one solution is to make a blessing of “HaAdama” over a food that certainly would not be considered part of the meal, such as a banana, and then one can eat the Simanim that normally require “HaAdama” without a blessing. When it comes to “HaEtz”, the custom is to eat the apple, which is not considered part of the meal anyway.

Summary:  Although not the mainstream practice, one who wishes to be strict can make blessings over foods that are not part of the meal so as to exempt the Simanim from questionable blessings. ​



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