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Daily Moroccan Halachot

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


Daily Halachot Topics

Muktze: Money in pockets, drawers

As mentioned previously, if before Shabbat one places a non-Muktze item on some sort of surface that also has Muktze, that surface becomes permissible to move on Shabbat. Based on this, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, 288) discusses in whose pockets money was left before Shabbat. If that money was in the pocket because one simply forgot it there then the pants do not have the status of Basis, as they were left in the pocket intentionally. In such a case, if one wanted to wear these pants, one would need to shake off the pants until the money comes out of the pockets  If, on the other hand, a person intended to leave the money in the pocket the logical conclusion is that the pants become a Basis and would be able to be worn on Shabbat. There are Poskim  who rule based on the Mishna Berura (M.B. 308:30), however, that perhaps the pockets themselves become a Basis, but not the pants, and therefore one would not be able to wear them with the money still inside. Nevertheless, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (as quoted in Maor HaShabbat, vol. I, Michtav 11:6) rules that technically the pockets could be separated from the pants, and since the pants alone are permissible, then the pocket and thus the money inside are being carried indirectly, which would be permissible. 

In the same vein, the Kaf HaHaim (308) rules that a table which has a drawer with Muktze inside does not itself become Muktze and could therefore be moved on Shabbat. Similarly, one would be able to move a stroller which has a built-in shelf that happens to have Muktze on it. However, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (ibid:9), quoting the Rabbi Avraham Danzig (Haye Adam), disagrees with Kaf HaHaim and writes perhaps the entire table would be considered Muktze. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah, ch. 20, note 232) writes that practically speaking there appears to be a Halachic basis to permit moving the table since the drawer is seen as a separate entity, especially if it is removable. 

Another example is a keychain which contains a house key and a car key. Since the house key is not Muktze and is of equal, if not greater, importance to the car key, the entire keychain becomes a permitted Basis. Since the car key cannot be shaken off, if one left it on the key chain accidentally before Shabbat, one would be able to carry such a keychain on Shabbat.

Summary: One may wear pants whose pocket contains money on Shabbat if the money was left unintentionally.

HaMotzi in Seuda Shelishit

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 291:5) rules that one should have bread with Seuda Shelishit but if not possible, one may use food that was baked with one of the five grains. Furthermore, one could use meat or fish in place of bread and there is an opinion that one may even fulfil Seuda Shelishit with fruit. Nevertheless, the Shulhan Aruch repeats that the foremost opinion is the first one and that bread is ideal, unless one is already satiated.  In Morocco, the common custom was to not necessarily have bread during Seuda Shelishit, but rather cake, fruit and the like. 

When asked personally, Rabbi Shalom Messas answered that he tended to still feel full even at Seuda Shelishit and therefore avoided bread. Thus, one should plan ahead when eating on Shabbat such that one will have an appetite for bread during Seuda Shelishit.

Regarding other foods which should be consumed during Seuda Shelishit, the Kaf HaHaim (K.H., O.H. ibid:29), quoting the Pri Etz Haim, writes that one should make a point of having fish.

Rabbi Haim Benveniste (Knesset Hagedola) writes that since Moshe Rabbenu died on Shabbat, as a sign of mourning, one should eat eggs. The Magid Mesharim (Parashat Tzav) writes that one should always have at least a Kezayit of a cooked dish for Seuda Shelishit.

Summary:  One should wash for HaMotzi for Seuda Shelishit and should eat a cooked dish, such as fish, with this meal. 

Prolonging Shabbat

There is a Mitzvah of prolonging Shabbat beyond its official end time known as Tosefet Shabbat (lit. an addition to Shabbat). By lengthening Shabbat we demonstrate that it is dear to us and are not in a hurry to escort it out, as it were. The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 293:1) writes that Arvit should be delayed on Motzaei Shabbat so that Shabbat extends beyond its normal end time. The Mishna Berura (ibid:1), quoting the Bach, explains that one way to lengthen Shabbat is to recite different Mizmorim, such as Mizmor 67, before Arvit. Indeed, the Moroccan custom is to sing several Mizmorim, including Michtam LeDavid (Mizmor 16), which is sung in a slow melody. 

Many Siddurim also include Mizmor 119 (also known as Alpha Beta because it follows the order of the Hebrew alphabet) as well as all the Shir Hama’alot (Mizmorim 120-134) before Arvit of Motzaei Shabbat. However, the Kaf HaHaim (ibid:205), quoting the Sha’ar Hakavanot, writes that the Arizal refrained from reading all these Mizmorim. As well, the Ben Ish Hai (Mekabtziel, Parashat Haye Sarah, § 32) that the original custom in his locale was to recite the Alpha Beta, but upon learning the Arizal’s approach, they discontinued it. Nevertheless, the Ben Ish Hai explains, Mizmor 66 should be recited since it is auspicious for one’s livelihood. 

The Moroccan custom (with some variation) is to recite Mizmor 15 (Hashem Mi Yagur BeAholecha), Mizmor 16 (Michtam LeDavid), Mizmor 144 (LeDavid Baruch A-donai Tzuri), Mizmor 67 (Lamnatzeah Binginot) and Mizmor 24 (LeDavid Mizmor LA-donai Haaretz Umloa). Traditionally, the last Mizmor is recited with one’s hands open since it too is auspicious for receiving Hashem’s abundance. Rabbi Issachar Eilenbog (Beer Sheva Siman 74)  questions why opening one’s arms is not considered imitating the praying practices of the idol worshippers and thus writes it is forbidden to pray with open hands. However, Rabbi David Cohen-Scali (Kiryat Hana David Siman 13) addresses this question and explains that praying for one’s livelihood is done with open hands  to receive Hashem’s abundance and not in a way of idol worshippers.

Interestingly, Rabbi Israel Moshe Hazan (Kerach Shel Romi, § 1, pg. 4) writes that the only extant Mizmor as chanted by David HaMelech is Mizmor 144, which is what he would sing when going out to war. The proof of this, he writes, is that he visited many communities and they all chanted this Mizmor in the same tune, more or less.  

Summary:  There is a Mitzvah to prolong Shabbat and this is accomplished by chanting a series of Mizmorim.

The Order of Shabbat Minha

The Rama (O.H. 292:1) writes that in Minha of Shabbat, Ashre, Uva Letzion and Va’ani Tefilati are recited. The Kaf HaHaim (ibid) notes that the Sephardic custom is to recite Va’ani Tefilati twice. This appears as well in the Siddur of Rabbi Shalom Sharabi. 

When the Hechal is opened, the Siddur Tefilat HaHodesh does not mention Berich Sheme but only the Mizmor 23 (Mizmor LeDavid Hashem Ro’i) is recited.Indeed the Hida (Nitotze Orot Zohar Vayakhel) writes that Berich Sheme is to be recited only during Shaharit of Shabbat. Nevertheless, the Kaf HaHaim (ibid) explains that since Minha of Shabbat is an especially auspicious time, one should recite the special prayer of Berich Sheme at that time as well. In Morocco, it appears that both customs existed. When asked personally, Rabbi Yehoshua Maman stated that his custom was to recite it in Minha of Shabbat. On the other hand, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch § 270) does not mention Berich Sheme for Minha. In any event, it is not considered a deviation from a Minhag if one wishes to recite Berich Sheme as it is simply an additional communal prayer.

The Shulhan Aruch (ibid:2) continues by saying that the three verses beginning with Tzidkatecha are recited in Minha of Shabbat as well. They are recited after the Amida and are only recited on a day that, had it not been Shabbat, Tahanun would not be recited. For example, if Rosh Hodesh falls on Shabbat, Tzidkatecha is not recited. Tzidkatecha is a form of justification of Divine judgment (Tziduk Hadin) which is typically said when one passes away as an affirmation that Hashem and His decrees are perfect and just. In the case of Minha of Shabbat, Yosef, Moshe Rabbenu and David Hamelech all passed away during this time and the first, second and third verses refer to each of these people, respectively. The Tur (ibid.) writes that the Ashkenazic custom is to recite the verses Tzidkatecha Tzedek Le’Olam, Vetzidkatecha E-lohim, Tzidkatecha Keharere E-l, while the Sephardic custom is in the reverse order. He also writes that the latter custom is more correct since this is the order in which they appear in Tehilim. 

The Siddur Bet Menuha, which was commonly used in Morocco, cites (pg. 230) the Seder Hayom and says that it behooves all who wish to be scrupulous in their observance to be saddened by the passing of the aforementioned righteous people. Even though Shabbat is not a time of mourning, the passing of the Tzadikim is not taken lightly by Hashem and thus, although outward acts of mourning are not observed, one should at least have in mind the passing of our righteous forefathers. One proof that there is an element of sadness in Tzidkatecha is that, as mentioned above, it is not recited on a day that Tahanun would not be recited, which tend to be happier days. Nevertheless, Rabbi Meir Mazuz (Mekor Ne’eman § 375) writes that there is no connection between the two. Rabbi Yehiel Ben Yekutiel (Tanya Rabati) writes that just as Tziduk Hadin is normally recited standing up, so too should Tzidkatecha be recited in this manner, and the Kaf HaHaim (ibid:15) concurs. 

Summary:   Some Moroccan communities recite Berich Sheme during Minha of Shabbat while other do not. Tzidkatecha is recited standing up and when reciting these verses, one should be mindful of the passing of Yosef, Moshe and David which took place at that time of the week.


The End of Shabbat

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 293:2) rules that one should be careful not to perform any forbidden acts on Shabbat until one sees three small stars in the sky, and that the stars should not be scattered but rather in a close formation. Furthermore, if it is a cloudy night one should wait until one is reasonably confident that Shabbat is over. There are two main opinions regarding when Shabbat ends. The first is, as mentioned, when three stars are visible in the sky, which is roughly forty minutes after sunset, and is commonly attributed to the Geonim. The other opinion, commonly attributed to Rabbenu Tam, is that Shabbat ends the amount of time it takes to walk four Mil, or seventy two minutes, after sunset. 

Rabbi Yitzhak Benoualid (Likute Dinim, vol. II, pg. 212) writes that the common Minhag in Morocco followed the opinion of the Geonim. Similarly, Rabbi Shlomo ibn Danan (Bakesh Shlomo, § 28) writes categorically that the custom is to follow the Geonim and Rabbi Raphael Encaoua (Tofaot Re’em, § 49) concurs. Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shemesh Umagen, vol. I, § 26) writes that the custom was always to follow the Geonim and that there was never a custom to follow the time of Rabbenu Tam. He goes on to write that if one wishes to be stricter and follow the time of Rabbenu Tam, one should do it privately and to not act in a way that suggests that those that follow the time of the Geonim are somehow violating Shabbat. 

Interestingly, Rabbi Yismah Ovadia (Yismah Levav, § 10) of Sefrou writes that it is proper to be strict and adhere to the opinion of Rabbenu Tam. He cites Rabbi Menahem Nahon (Mishpatim Tzadikim § 132) of Tetouan who mentions the time of Rabbenu Tam, albeit in reference to calculating the Brit Mila of a child born after sunset on Friday.  

The opinion of the Geonim is a universal one and is followed by many other communities besides the Moroccan one. The HIDA, (Birkei Yosef , §261) writes that the custom is to follow the opinion of the Geonim. Rabbi Abdullah Somekh (Zivhe Tzedek, § 103), the rabbi of the Ben Ish Hai and the Ben Ish Hai himself (Shana II, Parashat Vayetze) both write that this is the custom in Baghdad. Rabbi Tzadka Husain (Tzedaka Umishpat, Orah Haim, § 65) and Rabbi Avraham HaLevi (Ginat Veradim) attest to this being the custom in Syria and Egypt, respectively, as well. Finally, Rabbi David Yehudayoff (Yisrael Saba) writes that Baba Sale, who was normally very strict, did not deviate from the common custom and did not follow the approach of Rabbenu Tam.

Summary: The Moroccan custom is to follow the Geonim with regards to the end of Shabbat.

Kedusha DeSidra of Motzaei Shabbat

The Rama (O.H. 295:1) writes that in Arvit of Motzaei Shabbat, the verse (Tehilim 90:17) “Vihi Noam” followed by Kedusha DeSidra (ie. ‘“Ve’ata Kadosh…”) are added after the Amida. The Tur (ibid.) explains that this is added to Arvit so as to delay the return of the sinners to Gehinam. The Ashkenazic custom is to omit this entire section if a Yom Tov falls on a weekday that following week. 

The Sephardic custom common among Edot HaMizrah is that the entire section is recited, including “Shuva Hashem” etc. every Motzaei Shabbat, regardless of whether or not there is a Yom Tov that coming week. The latter opinion is based on the Zohar (Hakdamat Bereshit), which says that the “Yoshev Beseter Elyon” is an auspicious Mizmor which has the power to deflect negative spiritual forces, which are especially rampant after Shabbat is over. As such, it is recited every week due to its benefits.

Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shemesh Umagen, vol. III, § 85:6) and Rabbi David Ovadia (Nahagu Ha’am, Arvit, § 8) write that he Moroccan custom is that if a Yom Tov will fall during the coming week, the paragraphs of “Shuva Hashem ad Matai” and “Yoshev Beseter Elyon” are omitted, however the last verse “Orech Yamim Asbiehu” is said twice followed by Kedusha DeSidra. Interestingly, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, § 273) agrees that this is the common custom, but writes that there were Mekubalim and great Torah sages who would recite the entire section starting with “Shuva”. The HIDA (Birke Yosef, ibid.) concurs but also testifies that he witnessed those that would recite “Shuva” quietly. 

The Rama goes on to write that it is customary to make mention of Eliyahu Hanavi, especially in Havdalah, and to pray for him to herald the coming of Mashiah. The Gemara in Eruvin (43b) mentions that he will not come on Erev Shabbat or Yom Tov since people are preoccupied with preparations, or on Shabbat itself due to the violations of traveling beyond the boundaries of Shabbat. Therefore, as soon as Shabbat is over, we immediately pray for his arrival. 

Summary: If Yom Tov falls on a weekday, Kedusha DeSidra begins with “Orech Yamim”, while “Shuva Hashem Ad Matai” and “Yoshev Beseter Elyon” are omitted, on the preceding Motzaei Shabbat.

Types of Speech on Shabbat

Our sages learn (Shabbat 113a) from the words (Yeshayahu 58:13) “Vedaber Davar” (lit. “and speaking words”) that one’s speech on Shabbat should not be the same as one’s speech on a weekday. Based on this, the Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 307:1) rules that one may not speak about doing something after Shabbat that is forbidden on Shabbat. For example, one may not say “tomorrow I will engage in such and such transaction or purchase” or the like. Furthermore, if there is another way to say something that does not include a forbidden act on Shabbat, one may say it. For example, since driving is not permitted on Shabbat, one may not say “tomorrow I will drive to such and such place” but one may say that one will simply go there or walk there, since those are permitted on Shabbat. 

The Mishna Berura (ibid:1) discusses whether one may speak about a forbidden labor which is for the purpose of a Mitzvah, such as saying that one will write a Sefer Torah after Shabbat. The Elya Rabba, Ma’amar Mordechai and the HIDA (Birke Yosef) write that there is room to permit speaking on Shabbat about an act which is for a Mitvzah. Some Sephardic Aharonim, such as the Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Vayishlah, 1) that one should be strict even regarding a Mitzvah, nevertheless, Rabbi OVadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. V, pg. 57) writes that there is a Halachic basis to be lenient. 

The Rama (ibid.) adds that one who enjoys hearing stories or the latest news may engage in such speech on Shabbat. The Shelah Hakadosh (M.B. ibid ) explains that although it is permitted according to the letter of the law, it is not considered a pious act. The HIDA (Mahzik Beracha) concurs with the Shelah Hakadosh and adds that the Zohar (Beshalah) suggests that such speech is akin to desecrating Shabbat. It is written of the Arizal (Shaar Hakavanot ) that he only spoke Hebrew on Shabbat even if it was not related to Torah, but would only speak in foreign languages with others if such speech was related to Torah. 

Summary: On Shabbat, one may not talk about engaging in a forbidden Melacha after Shabbat, unless that Melacha is for the sake of a Mitzvah.

Reading on Shabbat

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 307:17), quoting the Rambam, says that anything besides Torah-related material may not be learned on Shabbat, even general knowledge, such as the sciences. It goes on to record the Rashba’s opinion, which says that there are opinions which permit learning general knowledge and even using an astrolabe (an astronomical instrument). Usually, when the Shulhan Aruch presents a first opinion (known as “Stam”) and then offers a second opinion with the words “there are those who say” (known as “Yesh Omrim”), the Halacha is in accordance with “Stam”.  So writes Rabbi Avraham Hakohen from Saloniki (Yukach Na, 307:23) that in this case as well, according to Maran, only Torah should be read on Shabbat. Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch 285:58) writes this as well, but does record the lenient opinion. Similarly, despite the aforementioned general principle, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, Hilchot Shabbat, vol. VI, pg. 72) writes that in the case of this Halacha, since the Shulhan Aruch quoted the Rashba elsewhere, in accordance with the opinion of “Yesh Omrim ”  there is room to permit reading books of general knowledge. 

Based on this, the Shulhan Aruch (ibid:16) rules that reading secular books and novels of passion are forbidden on Shabbat as well as on weekdays, since they cause the reader to forget Hashem and also arouse one’s evil inclination. Nevertheless, regarding newspapers, there is room to rely on the Rashba’s approach since there is relevant general knowledge of the world contained within. Indeed, Rabbi Toledano (ibid: 55) brings the lenient opinions regarding reading newspapers as well, as long as one does not read business matters related to him. Similarly, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach  (Shulchan Shlomo 307:24) writes that a doctor may study medical material on Shabbat as long as it is not for the purpose of studying for an exam.   Regarding reading cookbooks on Shabbat, although cooking is forbidden on Shabbat, the reader is simply reading it for enjoyment and out of interest. Rabbi Ovadia (ibid) quotes Rabbi Aurebach’s words as well

Summary:  There is room to be lenient with reading books on general knowledge, such as science, on Shabbat as well as newspapers. However it is praiseworthy  only to  read Torah material. 

Thinking about Business on Shabbat

The Gemara (Shabbat 150a) derives from the words (Yeshayahu 58:13) “Vedaber Davar” that speech related to weekday matters is forbidden on Shabbat, but not mere thoughts. Indeed, the Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 306:8) rules that, strictly speaking, one may think about one’s business affairs on Shabbat. Nevertheless, he cites Rabbenu Yona (Igeret Teshuva), who says that it is a Mitzvah to specifically refrain from thinking of one’s affairs and to consider all one’s business as being settled and complete. Rabbi Rahamim Palagi (Yafe Lalev, vol. II,  § 4) comments that Rabbenu Yona’s opinion was only with regards to ordinary business, but that he would have most likely permitted thinking about something that gives someone excitement and joy, such as planning a wedding or a Hilula. 

The HIDA (Birke Yosef ibid.) writes that the Shulhan Aruch’s intention is that only thoughts are permitted, but reading a business document or the like which stimulates thoughts of business is not permitted. Furthermore, the Mishna Berura (306:1) says that thinking about visiting one’s investment properties is problematic and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, vol. V, pg.152) writes that (thinking about) going to see one’s properties on Shabbat is forbidden. 

Summary: One may think about one’s business on Shabbat, but it is a Mitzvah to refrain from doing so.

Signing Documents on Shabbat

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 306:11), based on the Gemara (Bava Kama 80a, Gittin 8a), rules that one may ask a non-Jew to sign a document on one’s behalf on Shabbat for the purpose of buying a house in Israel. The Rama (ibid.) adds in the name of the Or Zarua, that if the document is signed in a language other than Hebrew, then the prohibition is only Rabbinic, and therefore, for the Mitzvah of buying property in Israel, it is permitted to ask the non-Jew to sign on one’s behalf. It should be noted that the Gemara does not draw a distinction between Hebrew and non-Hebrew writing and implies that both are prohibited biblically. Nevertheless, the Or Zarua does learn it this way and there are scenarios in which his approach is used to rule leniently. 

For example, the Sephardic Aharonim discuss whether one can rely on the Or Zarua’s approach in the case of significant financial loss. Rabbi Aharon Alfandri (Yad Aharon, 306) writes that one may have a non-Jew sign documents on one’s behalf in a foreign script in order to prevent a financial loss. Similarly, the Peri Megadim (§ 444) writes that if one forgot to sell one’s Hametz to a non-Jew on Erev Pesah that falls on Shabbat, one could ask a non-Jew to sign the proper sale documents to avoid forfeiting all the Hametz. 

Furthermore, the Ben Ish Hai (Rav Berachot, Ma’arechet Shabbat, pg. 145) discusses having a telegram that is sent on Shabbat signed on one’s behalf to avoid a financial loss. This can be applied to the modern-day scenario of having a package or document sent to one’s home on Shabbat and telling the delivery person to sign for the package on one’s behalf in a case where not doing so would involve a loss. There is further room to be lenient if the worker signs for the delivery digitally. Additionally, signing nowadays is often more of a scribble than it is distinct letters which also may not be considered Halachic writing. 

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer, vol. III, Orah Haim, § 23) writes that that when he served as rabbi in Egypt, the practice was for a non-Jew to sit in the sanctuary and write, ostensibly in Arabic, the pledges of the congregants who donated money on Shabbat. Although he says it is not ideal, he relies on the aforementioned opinion of the Or Zarua to permit such a practice when necessary. 

Summary:  In a case of great potential financial loss, one may ask a non-Jew to sign a document on one’s behalf on Shabbat.

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