Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Zimun Topics (And How to Read the Mishna Brura)

Here's a game I like to play.  I learn up a sugya in Mishna Brura and get a really good understanding, then I call R' Fuerst and he corrects me.  It never fails.  I am amazed by his patience.  I think he is probably amazed by my tenacity.

First question was on zimum when 10 men have eaten together.  To make a zimun for three, you need at least two who have eaten bread, then you can combine another person who has eaten pretty much anything except water and salt (I believe soda, coffee, and tea also don't work).  At 10, though, you get to add "elokeinu".  The Shulchan Aruch, OC 197:2 says you need a "recognizable majority", ie seven (not just six), to add sheim haShem.  The wording, though, is interesting: "one who ate bread should be the leader, and even seven who ate grain and three ate vegetables can combine".  Interesting!  The m'chaber uses both the words "pas" (bread) and "dagan" (grain product) in one sentence.  It sure sounds like you could have two who ate bread, five who had cookies, and three who had radishes.  I called R' Fuerst and he asked me to stay on the line while he looked it up.  "Next to dagan it says in parentheses: 'heinu pas' (that is, bread)."  I looked again at my Mishna Brura and then a light bulb went on (dim, but perceptible).  I asked, "That is to say, the rav has that hand written in his sefer?"  So he quoted to me his source from the Shulchan Aruch haRav and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.  I am pretty sure he was smiling.

Next topic (I called during the day and got lucky) was about a group of women only making a zimun.  The Shulchan Aruch, OC 199:7 says that it is optional.  The Biur Halacha brings that the Gr"a holds it is an obligation for women eating together to make a zimun.  I was surprised, since I've not seen that.  When I asked a friend about that, he asked me, "And when was the last time you ate with a group of only women?"  Ok; good point.  Anyway, I also thought it was a bit funny to have a short Biur Halacha that says the G"ra holds that women are obligated, even though the world doesn't conduct itself that way.  Why not just put that sentence in the Mishna Brura?  The answer to that is that the Mishna Brura is not bringing that G"ra l'halacha.  Rather, he is relegating it to the Biur Halacha to say, "I know the G'ra holds that it is an obligation, but the world does conduct itself that way [and that's the halacha]".

As I have heard many, many times from R' Fuerst (usually right after I express how I had thought differently), "Live and learn."


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…