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Daily Moroccan Halachot

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


Daily Halachot Topics

Opening the Hechal

The HIDA (LeDavid Emet, ch. 4, § 6) writes that it is customary to accord the honor of opening the Hechal to a Torah scholar, an elderly man or to a groom within thirty days of his wedding. The opening of the Hechal, he continues, has great virtue because it has the power to reveal many spiritual lights. The Arizal (Sha’ar Hakavanot, 48d) writes that opening the Hechal brings forth a tremendous spiritual abundance and that the more learned and pious the one that opened the Hechal is, the more abundance flows down. As such, he was particular about honoring Torah scholars with this great Mitzvah even if he had to pay for it. 

The importance of Petihat HaHechal is exemplified by the Ben Ish Hai’s solution for one who, Heaven forbid, drops a Torah scroll. He writes (Rav Pe’alim, vol. IV, Orah Haim, § 28), quoting Rabbi Moshe Zacuto, says that in order to rectify such a situation is to fast, to donate 262 coins, to light a 24-hour candle in front of the Hechal in honor of the fallen Torah scroll and to purchase the honor of Petihat HaHechal. 

Additionally, the HIDA (Yosef Ometz, § 57), Rabbi Eliezer Papo (Hesed La’alafim, § 135) and Rabbi Haim Palagi (Sefer HaHaim, 1:8) write that it is a Mitzvah to honor someone who’s wife is in the ninth month of pregnancy with Petihat HaHechal so that she should have an easy delivery. Just as the Hechal has two doors and two hinges, so too a woman has two doors and hinges, as it were, in her womb, and by opening these doors when taking out the Torah it is auspicious for an easy delivery. 

Summary: Petihat HaHechal is a Mitzvah with many spiritual benefits.    

Adding Aliyot

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 282:1) writes that one is permitted to add more Aliyot than the requisite seven on Shabbat. The Rama adds (ibid. and ibid:2) that one may add more Aliyot on Yom Tov as well but in Ashkenazic lands the custom was to not do so on Yom Tov or Shabbat. He adds that the custom was to be lenient, however, on Simhat Torah, during which many people are called up to the Torah. Indeed the Ashkenazic custom is to never add Aliyot, except for Simhat Torah, whereas the Sephardic custom is to permit adding Aliyot on Shabbat and the holidays.

When more than the requisite number of Olim are called up, there is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to whether the same portion may be read multiple times. The Rivash (Shu’t HaRivash, § 84) says that it is permissible to call up several people and to repeat the same Aliya for each one. On the other hand, the Rashbatz/Tashbatz (Shu’t HaTashbatz, vol. II, § 70) writes that it is not permitted for portions to be repeated by several Olim since each extra Aliya would be considered an unnecessary blessing. The Shulhan Aruch (ibid:2) rules like the Rivash and says there is no issue in calling up many Olim and reading the same portion many times, and this is the common custom. The HIDA (Birke Yosef 282:3) writes that although the Halacha follows the Rivash, pious people should be strict and not repeat portions.

One way to call up many Olim without repeating portions is to simply divide up the Parasha into more than seven or five Aliyot on Shabbat and Yom Tov, respectively. As long as each Aliya contains at least three verses, the Parasha can be divided into more Aliyot than normal. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. II, pg. 230) writes that even though the Shulhan Aruch writes that it is permitted, one should be strict and not repeat portions.

Nevertheless, Rabbi David Ovadia (Nahagu Ha’am, Hilchot Shabbat) and Rabbi Amram Aburbia (Neitve Am, § 282:4) write the Moroccan custom follows the Shulhan Aruch and permits adding more Olim and repeating the same Aliya in the Parasha. Each extra Aliya is known as Mosif and typically the custom is to repeat the last three or more verses of the sixth Aliya on Shabbat and the fourth Aliya on Yom Tov. Since the repeated Aliyot are not obligatory and congregants tend to lose focus, when it is time to read the final Aliya, the Gabbai of the synagogue customarily calls out “Hovat Hayom” (lit. “today’s obligation”) to announce that this final Aliya is obligatory and that everyone should pay attention. Furthermore, the Gabbai calls up the final Aliya by saying “Shevi’i/Hamishi Vehu Mashlim” (lit. “seventh/fifth [Aliya] and he concludes [the reading of the Torah]”).

Summary:   The Moroccan custom is to permit calling up more than the requisite number of Aliyot on Shabbat and Yom Tov, and to permit repeating portions in the Parasha when  more than the minimum number of Olim are called up.

How is one called up to the Torah?

The Rosh (Gittin 4:7) writes that when comes to writing a bill of divorce (Get), the name that is used for to call up the husband to he receives an Aliyah should be what is included in the Get. Therefore, it is clear that the custom of calling up on Oleh by his name is an ancient custom. Interestingly, the Gemara (Berachot 55a) says that one of the things that shorten one’s life is being called up to the Torah and refusing. 

The HIDA (Haim Sha’al, vol. I, § 13), on the other hand, says that the custom in Jerusalem was that one’s name would not be called out loud. Rather, the Shamash (sexton of the synagogue) would call up the Oleh in a more indirect manner, so as to prevent the possibility of one refusing to go up to the Torah and risking shortening one’s life. The Ben Ish Hai (Rav Pe’alim, vol. II, Orah Haim, § 16) writes that this is the custom as well. In Egypt, plaques would be distributed with the number of the Aliyah so that one’s name would not have to be called. 

Nevertheless, the Moroccan custom is to publicly call out the name of the Oleh, which the Shamash precede by saying “Ya’amod HaShem Hatov…” (lit. “may the good name…rise”).. Rabbi Meir Elazar Attia (MiShulhan Avotenu, Sha’ar 1, pg. 84) writes that unlike some communities in which one is called by one’s name and one’s father’s name (eg. Moshe ben Avraham), the Moroccan custom is to include one’s last name as well (eg. either Moshe ben Avraham Bitton, or simply Moshe Bitton). Rabbi Yehuda Ayash (Ze Hashulhan) writes that in Algeria the custom was to use one’s name and father’s name on Shabbat, but on weekdays, one would simply be called up using “Ya’amod HaShem Hatov” to conform with the HIDA’s opinion. 

It is written (Orhot Rabenu) that Rabbi Ya’akov Kanievsky (the Steipler) was insistant about being called up to the Torah by his name. Furthermore, Rabbi Israel Yehoshua Trunk (Yeshuot Malko, §12), Rabbi  Itzhak Yehuda Schmelkes (Bet Itzhak, §20-21) and Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer, vol. 17. §16) are all adamant that one should be called up to the Torah by one’s name.

Summary:   The Moroccan custom is that an Oleh is publicly called up to the Torah sing one’s name and last name.

Can one open a can on Shabbat?

Boneh: opening cans

The Gemara (Shabbat 102b) writes that the act of Boneh (“building”) and for that matter, Soter (“destroying”) do not apply to things that have the status of a Kli but rather only to things that are connected to the ground. That said, Boneh does apply to Kelim which are built from scratch and to objects that are not attached to the ground but that are assembled in a Taka (lit. “strongly affixed”) manner. Based on this, the Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 314:1) rules that one is allowed to create a puncture or a hole in a vessel as long as it is not a very well defined one, since this could be considered a violation of the act of “Makeh BePatish”, or the finishing touches of a vessel. 

Therefore, when considering the permissibility of opening an aluminum can, for example on Shabbat one must consider three aspects: a) whether Boneh is involved when one creates a new opening in the vessel, b) whether Soter is involved when one creates a perforation in the vessel when opening the tear strip, and c) whether opening the can is considered Makeh BePatish for the new, opened vessel. 

The Hazon Ish (O.H 51:11), when discussing this subject, writes that the act of Soter (destruction) does not apply to opening a can because once the can is sealed, it is unusable and opening it is a constructive, not destructive act. He writes that the Melacha of Boneh is applicable, however, if one uses a used tin can as a new vessel, such as to store coins and the like. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 9: footnote 10) comments that when cans are opened on Shabbat and then thrown out after being used, then one does not need to be concerned about the act of Boneh. 

Rabbi Shalom Messas (Tevuot Shamesh, 41) has a different approach. First, Soter does not apply because a tin can is not significant enough to be deemed a Kli. Furthermore, soda cans and the like are sealed in a way which allows them to be easily open with one’s hands or teeth, and thus this does not fit the definition of destroying. Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, 292:19) says that one may open up a sardine can on Shabbat, however since it may be linked to the act of Soter, it is preferable to open it before Shabbat. Rabbi Yosef Benaim (She’erit Hatzon, 115) seems to imply that opening a can on Shabbat is not considered Soter because the can was designed to be open in the first place. 

However, a most convincing argument to permit opening cans on Shabbat is mentioned by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe O.C. 1:122) who compares opening a can to undoing or cutting a rope which ties the lids of a date basket. The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 314:8) rules that such an act is permitted since it is akin to cracking open a walnut or almond to retrieve the nut inside. Similarly, one may open a tin can to retrieve the food inside. He continues that although strictly speaking it is permissible, one should be cautious about doing so in public as people who are less knowledgeable in Halacha may assume that all types of perforating or opening is allowed. 

Summary: One may open up an aluminum or tin can on Shabbat. 

How does one break bread on Shabbat?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 274:1) writes that upon reciting the blessing of Hamotzi over two loaves, one should break pieces off the bottom loaf to eat and to distribute to those gathered. The Rama (ibid.) adds that according to Kabbalah, one should break off the bottom loaf on Friday night and the top loaf on Shabbat day. The Bach (O.H. 274) questions this custom because it would seem that on Friday night one is passing over the top loaf in order to break off from the bottom loaf, which seems to contradict the dictum of En Ma’avirin Al Hamitzvot, that is, one should not pass up the opportunity to fulfill a Mitzvah. The Taz (O.H. 274) concurs and says that the remedy is to tilt the two loaves such that the bottom loaf is the first to be accessible for breaking off. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol II ch. 21, § 1) says that one should hold the two loaves side to side and hold the lower loaf closer to oneself. 

Despite the Rama’s ruling, the Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H. 274:2) and many Mekubalim write that one should always cut the top loaf. Nevertheless, Rabbi Amram Aburbia (Netive Am, pg.150) writes that upon close analysis of the Arizal’s works, there is no mention of specifically giving preference to the top loaf. This may explain why Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch ), who normally follows the methodology of the Kaf Hahaim, actually concurs with the Rama’s opinion. It should be noted that  Rabbi Yitzhak Ratzabi (Olat Yitzhak, vol. II, § 122) says that the Yemenite custom is also like the Rama.

Summary: One should cut off pieces of bread from the lower loaf during the Shabbat night meal, and from the top loaf on the Shabbat day meal.

What kind of bread should be used on Shabbat?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 274:1) writes that one should recite the blessing of Hamotzi for the Shabbat meal over two whole loaves of bread. One should hold them both in one’s hands and then break off from the bottom loaf to eat and distribute to those present. The requirement for two loaves, known as Lehem Mishne, is derived from the extra portion of Manna that Bnei Israel received on Shabbat when they were in the desert. 

A question arises as to whether Lehem Mishne applies to foods that are Mezonot. On one hand, if someone has a sufficient quantity of certain Mezonot foods, then it has the status of bread, and therefore it would seem that Lehem Mishne would apply. On the other hand, in its present state, the Mezonot is not actually bread and so Lehem Mishne might not apply. The Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H., 274:14) rules that Lehem Mishne does apply to Mezonot. Thus, if one wished to have Kiddush at synagogue with some Mezonot, for example, one could take two pieces of Bourekas or two danishes, and recite the blessing of Mezonot and also fulfil the Mitzvah of Lehem Mishne. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, vol. II, pg. 191), argues and says that if one is not actually reciting the blessing of Hamotzi, then there is no Mitzvah of Lehem Mishne. Nevertheless, he continues, if it means he may lose out on Lehem Mishne, one may recite Hamotzi even over two slices or incomplete loaves of bread.  

In certain cases, one only has one loaf of bread and the only other loaves one has are frozen. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol II, ch. 21, § 2) categorically permits the use of a frozen loaf since it has the status of bread and even though it is frozen in its current state, it can eventually thaw. Furthermore, if one is careful to only eat bread that is Yashan (made from wheat that took root before the 16th of Nissan of a particular year), then it is not permitted to use loaves that are not Yashan. However, if one is unsure whether the bread is Yashan or not, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (ibid., vol. I) says one would be permitted to consumer it and all the more so on Shabbat when there is a special requirement to eat bread and of Lehem Mishne. 

If one finds oneself in a situation in which one has a piece of bread for Hamotzi that is less than a Kezayit, the Siddur Bet Menuha (pg. 51), which was commonly used in Morocco says one fulfills one’s obligation with such a piece. On the other hand, Rabbi Haim Palagi (Kaf Hahaim, § 36:44 ), the Kaf Haim (ibid:8) ,and Rabbi Binyamin Pontrimoli (Petah Hadevir, § 6) disagree and say one would not fulill one’s obligation.

Summary: One should recite Hamotzi on Shabbat over two whole loaves of bread. If one will be eating Mezonot instead, there is no Mitzvah of Lehem Mishne. One ma use a frozen loaf of bread if needed to complete Lehem Mishne.

What is considered a meal with regards to Kiddush?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 273:5) writes that Kiddush must be followed by a meal, which in this context must consist of at least a small amount of bread or a Revi’it of wine. Fruit on their own, on the other hand, would not be considered a meal for this purpose. Indeed, the Vilna Gaon  (Maaseh Rav #122) rules stringently and says that one must eat bread after Kiddush.

Nevertheless, the HIDA (Birke Yosef, § 273) writes that food whose blessing is Mezonot would also be valid as a meal. Not only does the HIDA permit Mezonot which have the form of bread and if eaten is sufficient quantities, necessitate the blessing of Hamotzi (such as sweet rolls, danishes, etc.), but even Mezonot which can never be Hamotzi such as noodles or fried items. The HIDA’s rationale is that the after-blessing of Mezonot, that is, Al Hamiya, must be said in the same place as in which one ate, and thus one is considered anchored enough to that spot to be considered as having had a set meal. Thus, one would be able to follow Kiddush with Yerushalmi Kugel or Couscous, for example.

Rice requires the blessing of Mezonot but its after-blessing is Nefashot, and therefore, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer , vol. VII, Orah Haim, § 35) rules that rice does not have sufficient permanence to be considered a meal. 

Summary: The custom is that any type of Mezonot, whose after-blessing is Al Hamihya, is considered a valid Seuda for the purposes of Kiddush.

What is the connection between Kiddush and the meal?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 273:1), based on the Gemara (Pesahim 101a), rules that Kiddush is invalid unless it is recited in the place where the meal is eaten. The Rashbam (ibid.) deduces the Gemara’s ruling from the verse (Yeshayahu 58:13) “Vekarata LaShabbat Oneg” (lit. “and you shall call the Shabbat a delight”); in the place of calling the Shabbat, that is, Kiddush, you should have delight, that is, the meal. 

The Rashbam could be understood to mean that Kiddush has to be followed by a meal, or that any important meal must be preceded by Kiddush. One implication of the latter understanding would be that even Seuda Shelishit must start off with Kiddush. Although the Rambam (Shabbat 30:9) writes that it is proper to recite Kiddush for Seuda Shelishit, the custom is to only do so for the first two meals of Shabbat. 

The Shulhan Aruch goes on to state that the meal should be eaten in the same location as Kiddush. If one recites Kiddush in one part of a room and eats in a different part of the room, it is considered valid. Even if one changes rooms but those rooms are under the same roof, it is likewise valid. As such, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 12, § 16) rules that if one recites or hears Kiddush in one apartment, one may eat the meal in another apartment, so long as they are in the same building. Nevertheless, Kiddush is invalid if recited in one house or building and the meal is eaten in another. 

The Kaf HaHaim (K.H, O.H., 273:58) quotes the opinion of Rav Nissim Gaon, who writes that if one may hear Kiddush in one place and have in mind to eat the meal elsewhere. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Halichot Olam, vol. III, pg. 2) says that, although the Shulchan Aruch implies that one may only have in mind to eat in another place when it is still under the same roof, in a situation in which one has no choice, one may rely on the opinion of Rav Nissim Gaon ex post facto. 

Summary:  Kiddush is only valid if followed by a meal. Kiddush must be recited in the same place as where the meal is eaten, which at the very least, is under the same roof. 

Does Kiddush exempt other drinks?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 272:10) rules that the blessing of Kiddush over wine exempts other beverages that are drunk during the meal from their own blessing. Furthermore, one does not need to recite an after-blessing for wine as it is exempted by Birkat Hamazon.  Thus, if one wishes to drink cola, fo example, during the Shabbat meal, one would not have to recite “Shehakol”, and one would also not need to recite “Al Hegefen” as an after-blessing for the wine of Kiddush. 

The Biur Halacha (O.H. 174) cites an opinion that Kiddush only exempts other beverages from their own blessing when one drink at least a cheekful of the wine or grape juice of Kiddush in one shot. If one simply sips a little of the Kiddush, it would not exempt other beverages, according to this opinion. Nevertheless, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 20, § 9) says that as long as one drinks even a little amount of wine, one would not recite a separate blessing on other beverages during the meal. 

Interestingly, he Ben Ish Hai (Rav Pe’alim, vol. II, Orah Haim, §47) says that the Arizal received a Divine teaching that if one drank a Revi’it or more in one shot of a beverage during the meal, one would need to recite the after-blessing of “Bore Nefashot” and could not rely on Birkat Hamazon. The Ben Ish Hai (Shana I, Parashat Naso, §2), the Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H., 272:63) and Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (ibid., ch. 12, § 6) all concur. 

Notwithstanding, Rabbi Shalom Messas (Tevuot Shamesh, Orah Haim, § 62) writes that there was never such a custom to make an after-blessing for a drink during the meal, and that Bikat Hamazon exempts all beverages that are consumed during the meal, regardless of the quantity. This, too, is the opinion of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Halichot Olam, vol. II, pg. 27), who says that an after-blessing is never said on beverages during the meal.  

Summary: Kiddush exempts all beverages that are drunk during a meal from their own blessing. Birkat Hamazon exempts all beverages during the meal from an after-blessing, regardless of quantity.

Can one make Kiddush over non-wine drinks?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 272:9) notes that in places in which wine is hard to come by, there are three opinions regarding Kiddush. The first opinion is that one may make Kiddush on beer or any other beverage, as long as it is not water. The Rambam’s opinion is that Kiddush should not be recited at all without wine. Finally, the Rosh says that on Friday night, one should recite Kiddush over the Hallah rather than an alcoholic beverage, but on Shabbat day, one should recite Kiddush over beer or another alcoholic beverage. The Kiddush of the day is considered a Rabbinic obligation, and it therefore has a less stringent status. The Shulhan Aruch appears to side with the third opinion. 

The Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 272:29) says that in certain European lands, in which wine is very expensive, and that most people are accustomed to drink other alcoholic beverages, the custom is to be lenient and make Kiddush of Shabbat day over beer, whiskey, etc. Nevertheless, Rabbi Yehuda Ayash (Mateh Yehuda, § 289:5) writes that if wine is available but is expensive, one is not allowed to make Kiddush on any other type of beverage. This is also the opinion of the Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H.289:55) and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, vol. II, pg. 124). 

In a locale in which there truly is not wine available, the first beverage of choice to over which to recite Kiddush is beer because it is much easier for one to drink the requisite Revi’it of beer than it is a stronger spirit. 

Rabbi Ya’akov Hagiz (Halachot Ketanot, vol. II, § 9) writes that in the absence of wine, one must use an intoxicating beverage. Therefore, coffee or tea would not be appropriate for Kiddush, even during the day. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 20, § 19), on the other hand, rules that in extenuating circumstances, one may use coffee for the Kiddush of Shabbat day. Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, 272:19) says that on Shabbat day, it is preferable to have a Revi’it of beer for Kiddush than only a small amount of wine. 

Regarding one who cannot tolerate a lot of wine, or because of diabetes, cannot drink grape juice, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv rulse that freshly squeezed orange juice is considered acceptable. This would be the preferred option for the the four cups of wine by the Pesah Seder. 

Summary:  If wine is not available one should make Kiddush on Shabbat night over Challah and on Shabbat day, over beer or some other alcoholic beverage. One must use wine for Kiddush even if it is expensive.

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