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Daily Moroccan Halachot

Rabbi Mordechai Lebhar, author Magen Avot
Redacted by Dr. Emile Amzallag


Daily Halachot Topics

How should one spend Shabbat?

The Rama (O.H. 290:1) writes that if one is accustomed to napping in the afternoon during the week, one should not forego napping on Shabbat as it is considered a Shabbat-enhancing pleasure. The Arizal (Sha’ar Hakavanot) writes that napping is detrimental during the week but is very beneficial in rectifying the Neshama on Shabbat, especially for the righteous. Indeed, the Arizal had the practice of napping up to three hours on Shabbat. The HIDA (Birke Yosef, ibid) decries those who steadfastly uphold this custom the Arizal but not the others. 

The Mishna Berura (ibid., MB:3) adds that although one should delight in napping on Shabbat, one should not spend so much time napping so as to lose out on learning Torah. Indeed, he continues, the Zohar (Bamidbar, 82b) writes that Shabbat is a time when one should spend time developing Torah novellae. The Ben Ish Hai (Mekabtziel), citing the Zohar, adds that when one comes up with a novel Torah thought, Hashem gathers all of the different spiritual communities and teaches it thought to them. 

The Shulhan Aruch (ibid:2) goes on to rule that after the daytime Shabbat meal, the congregants should return to the synagogue or Bet Midrash in order to study the Nevi’im (Prophets) and Aggada (exegesis). Rabbi Yehuda Ayash (Mateh Yehuda, ibid:2), the HIDA (Mahzik Beracha, ibid:3) as well Rabbi Baruch Toledano Kitzur Shulhan Aruch ) all write that it is incumbent upon the rabbi of the community to teach the congregants novellae, especially those dealing with sins that are commonly committed by people. Rabbi Toledano  writes that the more the rabbi teaches the community and causes them to repent, the more rapidly the final redemption will arrive.

To underline the importance of Torah study on Shabbat, there is a story involving two men in Marrakesh who preferred to spend their Shabbat afternoons going for leisurely strolls. After several warnings from community members, they were finally summoned to the Bet Din, which ruled that they were obligated to attend the Torah classes on Shabbat afternoon.

Summary: Napping is considered a form of Oneg Shabbat. However, one should maximize one’s time on Shabbat to study Torah.

Kiddush for Seuda Shelishit

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 291:4) writes that reciting Kiddush is not obligatory for Seuda Shelishit. Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shemesh Umagen, vol. I, §  65), quoting his uncle Rabbi David Messas who in turn quotes Sefer Tikune Shabbat, writes that the words “Yayin” (lit. wine) and “Gog uMagog” have the same Gematria. Since there is a concept that Seuda Shelishit has the power to protect one from the future war of Gog uMagog, it is even more beneficial to also include wine with Kiddush during this meal. Rabbi David Messas, however, quotes the Arizal who says that wine represents Divine judgment while Seuda Shelishit symbolizes mercy and thus Kiddush should not be recited during this meal. 

The Rashbam (Pesahim 101a) gives two explanations to the concept that Kiddush should be recited in the place of a Seuda (Kiddush Bimkom Seuda). One interpretation is that in order to give importance to Kiddush, it should be accompanied with a meal. The other explanation is that in order to give a meal importance, Kiddush should be recited. It follows, then, that even Seuda Shelishit should include Kiddush. Indeed, the Rambam’s (Shabbat 30:9) opinion is that Kiddush should be recited during Seuda Shelishit. As a compromise, the Arizal states that although a formal Kiddush should not be recited for the aforementioned reason, wine itself should be consumed during the meal. The common custom nowadays is to not recite a formal Kiddush at the beginning of Seuda Shelishit but it is proper to consume wine during the meal. 

Summary: Kiddush does not need to be recited for Seuda Shelishit.

Splitting Shabbat Lunch

There are situations in which Shabbat lunch is drawn out to such a point that it extends into the time when Seuda Shelishit can be eaten. In such a situation, it is not hard to imagine that one would not have enough of an appetite to have Seuda Shelishit later on and may come to forego it altogether. As such, the Shulhan Aruch’s (O.H. 291:3) solution is that one break the lunch meal in half by reciting Birkat Hamazon, and then washing Netilat Yadayim on bread again. The first half of the meal will be considered Shabbat lunch, while one can fulfil one’s obligation for Seuda Shelishit during the second half. Nevertheless, the Rama (ibid.) adds that one should not rely on the Shulhan Aruch’s solution if one  believes that one will be able to eat Seuda Shelishit after praying Minha, since there is Halachic significance to this order. 

Rabbi Shlomo Ashkenazi Rappaport (Lev Shelomo, § 4) wonders why the Shulhan Aruch’s recommendation is not considered an unnecessary blessing. After all, the blessings of Netilat Yadayim, Hamotzi and Birkat Hamazon could theoretically be only recited once for the entire meal, even if it stretches several hours and there is no apparent justification to recite them twice. Nonetheless, he quotes Rabbi Moshe Galante  who, while discussing the concept of reciting one hundred blessings a day, rules that one may come in and out of a room repeatedly, whie each time reciting a blessing on a piece of food, and says that this is not considered unnecessary. Rabbi Itzhak Tayeb (Erech HaShulhan) concurs. The HIDA (Birke Yosef, § 46), on the other hand, does not think the two situations are analogous. When it comes to the example of coming in and out of a room in order to recite the same blessing repeatedly, there is room to argue that it could be a violation of an unnecessary blessing, since there are other ways one may attain one hundred blessings a day. In the case of splitting the meal, however, repeating the blessings are, to the contrary, quite necessary. If one were to eat a large meal and later had to eat Seuda Shelishit while still satiated, one may be forced to engage in Achila Gasa (lit. “over eating”) which is inappropriate, or worse yet, one may feel the need to forgo Seuda Shelishit altogether. 

Summary:  If one will not be able to properly fulfil Seuda Shelishit because Shabbat lunch is long, one can split the lunch meal into two.

When does Seuda Shelishit take place?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 291:1) writes that one should be exceedingly careful to fulfil the Mitzvah of Seuda Shelishit. If one still feels full from the previous meal, one can fulfil the obligation by eating only a Kabetza of bread, but if one feels that one cannot eat at all, one need not trouble oneself to eat. Nevertheless, one should ideally try to plan ahead such that one have an appetite for Seuda Shelishit. 

The HIDA (Mahzik Beracha) writes that a person’s day typically consists of meals, one in the morning and one at night. Thus, unlike the first two meals of Shabbat, which are habitual meals that one would eat regardless of the day, Seuda Shelishit is an extra meal and therefore by eating it, it shows a higher level of honor towards Shabbat.  

According to Kabbalah, each of the three Shabbat meals corresponds to one of the Avot and Seuda Shelishit corresponds to Ya’akov Avinu and one should have him in mind while eating this meal. Furthermore, the Arizal (Peri Etz Haim) explains that Seuda Shelishit has the power to save one from the war of Gog and Magog and from the judgment of Gehinom. 

The Rama (ibid:2) writes that one should not drink water between Minha of Shabbat and Arvit since, on a Kabbalistic level, the souls return to Gehinom. As such, he does not recommend that Seuda Shelishit be eaten at all in between Minha and Arvit, but rather before Minha. The Arizal qualifies the ruling of the Rama by saying that water should not be consumed before reciting Havdala, but that it is permissible to do so during the course of Seuda Shelishit, even if it stretches into Ben Hashemashot.Indeed, the Kaf Hahaim (ibid:17) writes that he was never particular about avoiding water at the time of Seuda Shelishit. Furthermore, Rabbi Yehuda Ayash (ibid:4) writes that the Shulhan Aruch itself does not mention this Halacha and that in the majority of Sephardic lands, Seuda Shelishit takes place between Minha and Arvit and that water may be consumed at this time as well. 

Summary: Seuda Shelishit takes place between Minha of Shabbat and Arvit of Motzae Shabbat.

What is the Relationship Between Minha and Seuda Shelishit?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 291:2) rules that the time for Seuda Shelishit begins when the time for Minha starts, which is half an hour after midday. Furthermore, if one had Seuda Shelishit before this time, one’s obligation would not be fulfilled.

 It would seem based on the wording of the Shulhan Aruch that as long as it is a valid time for Minha one could have this meal, even if one did not yet pray the actual prayer of Minha. However, the Kaf HaHaim (ibid:15),  based on the Zohar and the Arizal, writes that the proper order is to first pray Minha and then have Seuda Shelishit. On a Kabbalistic level, says the Zohar, there is a special light which emanates when one prays Minha and only then is one ready to eat Seuda Shelishit. The Ben Ish Hai (Shana Bet, Haye Sarah, § 14) even says that if one ate Seuda Shelishit before praying Minha, one would not have fulfilled one’s obligation. 

On the other hand, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion, vol. II, ch. 21, § 7) writes that if one knows that the congregation normally prays Minha right before sunset such that Seuda Shelishit will take place after sunset, it is preferable to eat Seuda Shelishit before Minha. Thus, even though Kabbalah gives preference to eating Seuda Shelishit after Minha, it was his opinion that there are instances when this is not practical. Furthermore, Rabbi Baruch Toledano, who very often quotes the Kaf HaHaim, does not mention his aforementioned opinion, implying that he did not rule that Seuda Shelishit must come after Minha.

Summary: The time for Seuda Shelishit is as of a half hour after midday on Shabbat. The common custom is to have Seuda Shelishit after praying Minha, although strictly speaking, it may be eaten before.

May one read by candle light on Shabbat?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 275:1) rules that it is forbidden to read by candle light, lest one tilt the light and cause it to burn even stronger, thereby transgressing the forbidden act of Mav’ir (igniting) on Shabbat. This applies even to candles that are very high up and are out of reach, since once the Sages enacted this rule, they applied it to all candle light without distinction. Furthermore, although the Sages ruled regarding oil candles, it applies to wax candles as well, since they too can be caused to burn stronger by tilting them.

Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion, ch. 18, § 18) entertains the possibility that the wax used nowadays is less susceptible to requiring tilting in order to burn better than that used in the times of the Gemara, and that it would therefore be permitted to read beside wax candles. He writes that there is no significant difference and that it is similarly forbidden to read near modern day wax candles. Nevertheless, candles made of paraffin produce a more stable light and thus one may read by their light. Indeed, the Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 275:4) writes that stearin candles, which are derived from animal fat, were common in those days and were permitted. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Halichot Olam, vol. III, pg. 47), on the other hand, writes that one may even read by a wax candle nowadays.

Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch) discusses applying the enactment of the Sages to electric light since one reading by a light may come to turn it on or off, or in the case of a dimmer, dim or brighten the light. However, he writes that the original enactment involved the case of a candle which begins flickering and therefore there is a concern that one will tilt the candle to allow it to burn better. Electric lights are stable and are do not tend to flicker and thus the enactment does not extend to electricity. 

Summary: One may read by the light of a paraffin candle on Shabbat. There is no issue with reading with electric lights on Shabbat.

The Avot and the Shabbat Meal

Although not explicitly mentioned in the Shuhan Aruch, the Kabbalists mention that each one of the three Shabbat meals corresponds to one of the Avot. According to Rabbi Avraham Azoulay (Or Hahama, vol. II, pg. 104c), each meal corresponds to the time of the day of the prayer that each of the Avot instituted. Thus, Friday night is Arvit which corresponds to Yaakov, the Shabbat day meal is related to Shaharit, which was instituted by Avraham, and Seuda Shelishit comes after Minha, which was instituted by Yitzhak Avinu. Nevertheless, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (quoted in Or Hahama) and most of the Kabbalists order the Avot differently and this is the accepted custom. The Friday night meal corresponds to Yitzhak Avinu, since the night is a time of Judgment and Yitzhak has the related attribute of Gevura. The daytime meal, as well, corresponds to Avraham. Seuda Shelishit Kabbalistically joins the energy of the night and day meals, just as the attribute of Tiferet of Yaakov joins the attributes of Avraham and Yitzhak. Many have the custom to say “Birshut ______ Avinu” prior to reciting the blessing of Hamotzi of the corresponding meal. 

Interestingly, the Arizal (Pri Etz Haim, Sha’ar 18, ch. 17) writes that the Shabbat night meal saves us from the birth pangs of Mashiah, the day meal saves us from the agony of Gehinom, Seuda Shelishit saves us from suffering in the grave. Furthermore, he writes that Melave Malka, the meal eaten after Shabbat and which corresponds to David Hamelech, saves us from the war of Gog Umagog. 

Another detail regarding the Shabbat meal involves dieting. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion, vol. II, ch. 21, § 3) says that one should not refrain from delicious food on Shabbat as this can take away from Oneg Shabbat, the pleasure that one must experience on Shabbat. However, if a particular food is considered dangerous to one’s health or if one may come to overeat, then the Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 288:2) writes that refraining from such a food or from overeating is considered one’s Oneg Shabbat. Furthermore, a vegan or vegetarian can refrain from eating fish or meat on Shabbat, since even though these foods are a source of Oneg Shabbat, they are not an obligation. The Arizal (Pri Etz Haim), however, writes that there is Kabbalistic benefit to eating fish on Shabbat. 

Summary: The first, second and third meals of Shabbat correspond to Yitzhak, Avraham and Ya’akov, respectively. If one is dieting one should still partake of delicious food, but may refrain from eating food that is deleterious to one’s health, or from overeating. One may refrain from fish or meat if one does not normally eat such foods. 

May one benefit from a non-Jew on Shabbat?

Based on the Mishna (Shabbat 16:8), the Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 276:1) rules that a Jew may not benefit from a light that was lit by a non-Jew on Shabbat, even if it was done on behalf of another Jew.  This precept is a Rabbinic injunction and applies not only to lighting but, generally speaking, all the forbidden labors of Shabbat. In the context of this discussion, benefit refers to something that is absolute, not simply an improvement of a current state. For example, if one is sitting in the dark on Shabbat and a non-Jew turns on the light, one may not benefit from such an act. However, if one was in a room that had dim light and the non-Jew simply increased the intensity or amount of light, one may derive benefit. It should be noted that even in the latter case, one may not ask a non-Jew to perform this act. The Rama (ibid.) adds that if a non-Jew turned on the light for a Jew, even though it is forbidden to benefit from this, the Sages did not mandate that one leave one’s home just so as not to benefit from the light.  One may benefit from the light of a non-Jew if it was lit for the non-Jew or if it was lit on behalf of an ill Jew, even if the illness is not life-threatening. Rabbi Yehuda Ayash (Mate Yehuda) adds that one may benefit from the light that was lit for a child that is in the dark.

The Shulhan Aruch (ibid:2) goes on to say that it is also permissible for a Jew to benefit from the lighting of a non-Jew if the majority of those present are non-Jews. However, if half of those present were Jews (and certainly if they were the majority), and half were non-Jews it is forbidden for the Jews to benefit from the light. 

One practical application of these laws is sharing an elevator with a non-Jew on Shabbat (the nuances and propriety of using an elevator on Shabbat will be discussed elsewhere).  If asked by a non-Jew to which floor one is going, one may not respond since this would constitute benefitting from the act of a non-Jew. Rather, it is preferable to get off on the same floor as the non-Jew and figure out a way to get to one’s floor, such as the stairs. It goes without saying that one should not do this if it will cause suspicion on the part of the non-Jews. If one happens to be going to the same floor as the non-Jew, then the act of pressing the floor is done for both parties. In such a case, the Rashba rules that this too would be forbidden. On the other hand, the Biur Halacha (§ 276, “Ve’im Yesh Hochacha”) rules that as long as the non-Jew is doing it for him/herself as well, then the Jew would be able to benefit. 

Summary:  A Jew may not benefit from a Melacha that was done by a non-Jew on Shabbat. One may benefit if the act was done specifically for a non-Jew, or if it was done for a Jew who is ill.

What is a Basis?

The concept of Basis Ledavar Ha’asur or a base for a forbidden item, states that something that is normally permitted to be moved on Shabbat that serves as the base of Muktze becomes Muktze itself. The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 277:3) writes that if one lit Shabbat candles on a tray and the candles were later somehow moved (such as if they were knocked down, moved by a non-Jew or the like), one would not be able to move the tray. Since the candles were set aside on the tray before Shabbat, the tray is rendered into a Basis and is considered as part of the candles, and is therefore also Muktze. It should be noted that if Muktze is placed on a base during Shabbat it does not become a Basis, such that if the Muktze were somehow moved off, one would be able to move the base. 

One way to circumvent the issue of a base becoming Muktze is to place something that is not Muktze on the tray before Shabbat. In the case of a tray which supports candles, some women place a ring on the tray so that if the candles are somehow moved, they would later be able to pick up the tray on Shabbat.

One anecdote that illustrates the concept of Basis is the Ramada Hotel case: The story goes that a chair was used as an ad hoc support for candles at a hotel hall as no other surface was readily available. The non-Jewish workers later cleared the candles from the chair and moved the chair back with the other chairs in the room. Since the chair served as a Basis for the candles, the chair itself became Muktze, yet the Jewish guests did not know which chair was used. As such, by moving any chair one could potentially have been moving the chair that was a Basis. Although, normally one can evoke the principle of Bitul (nullification), in this case since after Shabbat the chair is once again permitted it is considered Davar Sheyesh Bo matirin (i.e: one should not rely on nullification when it will be permitted the next day). Rav Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadiah Shabbat 3:pg 133) raises this point and quotes the opinion of Rabbi Yehezkel Landau ( Tziyun Lenefesh Haya, Pesahim 9b) who says that unlike food, which can be eaten the next day, the seat is needed immediately and therefore Bitul would work. Therefore, there would be no issue in moving a chair in that room. 

Summary:  If an item that is considered Muktze on Shabbat is placed on a base before Shabbat, the base becomes Muktze as well and cannot be moved on Shabbat.

What are Tapuchim and should they be put on the Sefer Torah ?

One of the adornments placed over a Torah scroll are the Rimonim (lit. “pomegranates”) , in Morocco called Tapuhim (lit. “apples”) , which are bell-like objects that fit over the upper rollers and which jingle when shaken. Rimonim are not merely decorations but have a Halachic implication as well. The Bet Yosef (Y.D. § 282), citing Rabbenu Manoah, says that if someone so much as hears the movement of a Sefer Torah, one must rise in its honor. As such, the Rimonim are placed on the scrolls so as to alert those nearby to stand when the Torah is being held or moved. 

Another implication is the use of Rimonim on Shabbat. The Taz (Y.D., 282:2) says that since there is a prohibition of playing musical instruments on Shabbat, Torah scrolls with Rimonim should not be taken out on Shabbat. The Magen Avraham (O.H. 38:1) disagrees and says that the jingling of the Rimonim is not akin to the playing of an instrument that our Sages referred to. The Halacha follows the Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 338:6) which permits using Rimonim on Shabbat, and this is our custom. 

Beyond serving a decorative and a practical role, there is Kabbalistic significance to the Rimonim. The opinion of the Zohar (Yitro 88b) is that the Rimonim symbolize the two crowns that are taken from the Kabbalistic attribute of Tiferet (lit. “spleandor”) down to this world. The Arizal (Pri Etz Haim, Sha’ar Keriat Sefer Torah, ch. 1) also discusses at length the deep Kabbalistic secrets of the Rimonim and the importance of placing them on the rollers. Indeed, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Shivat Zion, vol. II, § 132) explains that it is worthy to pay for the Mitzvah of placing the Rimonim onto the Torah scroll. It should be noted that this Mitzvah applies specifically to when the Torah is removed from the Hechal. Therefore, it is proper to remove the Rimonim when the Sefer Torah is returned to the Hechal such that they can be placed back on when the Torah is removed in the future. This explains the Moroccan custom that the Rimonim are specifically removed from the Sifrei Torah before entering the arc , this way they are specifically put on the sefer torah when we take them out. Furthermore, it is customary to accord this honor to children to symbolize that they are accepting the crown of Torah. 

Tangentially, another honor accorded to congregants is that of holding the Sefer Torah once it has been removed from the Hechal. Holding the Torah scroll is beneficial in rectifying specifically the sin of lewdness. In the Ben Ish Hai’s book of special prayers (Leshon Hachamim), there is a special prayer that should be recited while one hold the Sefer Torah so as to achieve atonement for any immoral acts or thoughts one may have had.

Summary:  The jingling of the Rimonim helps alert congregants to stand in honor of the Torah and they are permitted on Shabbat.

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