Shavuos: Questions and Answers
Shavuos: Questions and Answers
Question: What are the Yom Tov restrictions in regard to flowers?
Discussion: Flowers, while still connected to the ground, may be
smelled and touched, provided that their stems are soft and do not normally
become brittle. 1
Flowers in a vase may be moved on Shabbos and Yom Tov. 2 They
may not, however, be moved from a shady area to a sunny area to promote
blossoming. If the buds have not fully bloomed, the vase may be moved but
just slightly, since the movement of the water hastens the opening of the
One may remove flowers from a vase full of water, as long as they have not
sprouted roots in the water. 4 Once removed, they may not be put
back in the water if that will cause further blossoming.
Water may not be added to a flower vase on Shabbos. 5 On Yom
Tov, however, a small amount of water may be added but not changed.
Flowers should be placed in water before Yom Tov. In case they were not,
they may not be placed in water on Shabbos if the buds have not blossomed
fully. If the buds are completely opened, however, some poskim permit
placing them in water on Yom Tov while others do not. 7
One may not gather flowers or create an arrangement and place it in a vase
on Shabbos, even if the vase contains no water. 8
Question: Does one recite a blessing over the pleasant fragrance
exuded from flowers in a vase?
Discussion: Just as one may not derive pleasure from food or drink
before reciting a proper blessing, so too, one may not enjoy a pleasant
fragrance before reciting the appropriate blessing. 9 There are
two different types of blessings that can be recited over
pleasant10 fragrances exuded from flowers:
1. Borei atzei vesamim: Recited over fragrant shrubs and trees or their
flowers (e.g., myrtle, roses11 ).
2. Borei isvei vesamim: Recited over fragrant herbs, grasses or flowers.
The blessing is recited immediately before one intends to smell the pleasant
fragrance. B’diavad, one may recite the blessing within a few seconds after
he smelled a pleasant fragrance. 12
But a blessing over a pleasant fragrance is recited only over an object
whose purpose is to exude a pleasant fragrance. If the object is primarily
for another purpose — even if the object is sweet-smelling — no blessing is
recited. 13 Although flowers in a vase exude a pleasant
fragrance, since people usually buy flowers for their beauty, one who walks
by and smells them does not recite a blessing. If, however, the flowers are
picked up and smelled, a blessing must be recited.
Question: Within the same meal, may one eat cheese or other dairy
food and then eat meat immediately thereafter?
Discussion: According to the basic halachah it is permitted to eat
meat or chicken immediately after eating cheese or any other dairy food,
even during the same meal; there is no requirement to recite Birkas ha-mazon
or a berachah acharonah between the dairy and the meat. The only separation
required is to clean and rinse the mouth and teeth, wash the hands and clean
the table (or change the tablecloth) to make sure that no dairy residue or
crumbs remain. While there are scrupulous individuals who wait at least an
hour14 between eating dairy and meat in addition to reciting
Birkas ha-mazon or a berachah acharonah between them — and their custom is
based on the Zohar and quoted by several poskim 15 — it is not
required by the halachah. 16
Question: Does the same halachah apply to hard cheese as well?
Discussion: When “hard” cheese is eaten, the halachah is different.
Shulchan Aruch quotes an opinion that requires one to wait a full six hours
between eating hard cheese and meat. This view maintains that the taste and
oily residue of hard cheese lingers in the mouth long after the cheese has
been consumed, just as the taste and residue of meat lingers long after
consumption. 17 In addition, other poskim hold that hard cheese
can get stuck between the teeth just as pieces of meat do. 18
While other poskim do not consider either of these issues to be a problem
with hard cheese and permit eating meat immediately after eating hard
cheese, Rama and the later poskim19 recommend that one be
stringent and wait six hours between consuming hard20 cheese,
and meat or poultry. (See tomorrow’s Discussion for a definition of “hard
Question: How do we define “hard” cheese concerning this halachah?
Discussion: Exactly how to define “hard” cheese is another
controversial subject. All poskim agree that cheese which has been cured for
at least six months before being packaged and refrigerated is considered
hard cheese. 21 While many of the hard cheeses sold in the
United States are not aged for six months, there are several brands of
cheese that advertise that they have been cured for ten months or longer and
those are surely considered hard cheeses. Parmesan cheese, for instance, is
aged for at least a year, if not longer. The poskim are also in agreement
that cheeses that are not aged six months but are cured long enough to
become wormy22 are considered “hard” cheese. 23
There are, however, some poskim who maintain that all hard cheeses,
including all kinds of American (yellow) cheese, etc., are considered hard
cheese and one who eats them should wait six hours before eating meat.
24 While some individuals follow this opinion, the widespread
custom follows the more lenient view. 25 It is appropriate,
though, to wait at least one hour between eating any hard cheese and meat.
Question: Why do some women omit the blessing of shehecheyanu when
they light Yom Tov candles?
Discussion: The validity of the custom to recite shehecheyanu at
candle-lighting time, a prevalent long-standing custom, 27 has
been extensively debated by the poskim. 28 The preferred time to
recite shehecheyanu is right after the recitation of Kiddush, while the cup
of wine is still being held aloft. Since ladies listen and answer amen to
the shehecheyanu which is recited after Kiddush, there is no halachic reason
for them to recite this very blessing when they light candles. There are
other halachic objections as well. Still, since many women are inspired by
the important mitzvah of candle-lighting and feel the need to express their
joy at that time, the custom evolved of reciting shehecheyanu at
candle-lighting time. Most poskim feel that while we do not encourage this
practice, we need not object to it and the ladies who recite their own
shehecheyanu at candle-lighting time may continue to do so. 29
1. Mishnah Berurah 336:48.
2. Rav M. Feinstein (quoted in Sefer Hilchos Shabbos, pg. 64).
3. Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (quoted in Shalmei Yehudah, pg. 73); Bris Olam,
4. Rav S.Z. Auerbach, quoted in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 26:26.
5. Mishnah Berurah 336:54.
6. O.C. 654:1 and Aruch ha-Shulchan 654:2; Shemiras Shabbos
7. See Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 336:48; Shulchan Shlomo 336:12; Yechaveh
8. Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:73.
9. O.C. 216:1. A berachah acharonah, however, was not instituted for
pleasant fragrances; Mishnah Berurah 216:4.
10. One who does not enjoy a particular fragrance does not recite a
11. Mishnah Berurah 216:17.
12. Halichos Shlomo 1:23-38.
13. O.C. 217:2. See also Mishnah Berurah 217:1; 216:11.
14. Some wait an half an hour; see Peri Hadar on Peri Megadim, Y.D. 89:16.
15. See Minchas Yaakov 76:5 and Beiur ha-Gra, Y.D. 89:2. See Darchei
Teshuvah 89:14 who rules like these poskim. See also Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:160.
16. Mishnah Berurah 494:16; Aruch ha-Shulchan, Y.D. 89:9.
17. Taz, Y.D. 89:4.
18. Peri Chadash, Y.D. 89:2.
19. Chochmas Adam 40:13; Aruch ha-Shulchan, Y.D. 89: and Mishnah
Berurah 494:16 and Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 15. Sefaradim, however, do not follow
this stringency; see Yabia Omer, Y.D. 6:7.
20. If the hard cheese is softened through boiling or cooking, it is
no longer considered hard cheese; Darchei Teshuvah 89:43. But if it is
merely fried or baked (as in pizza), it is still considered hard cheese; Rav
Y.S. Elyashiv (Sefer ha-Kashrus, pg. 280; Me’or ha-Shabbos, vol. 3, pg. 426).
21. Shach, Y.D. 89:15.
22. These “worms” are kosher and are permitted to be eaten as long as
they remain within the cheese; see Rama, Y.D. 84:16.
23. Taz, Y.D. 89:4; Chochmas Adam 40:13.
24. Rav Y.Y. Weiss, quoted in Teshuvos v’Hanhagos, Y.D. 1:388; Rav
S.Z. Auerbach, quoted in Me’or ha-Shabbos, vol. 3, pg. 427; Rav Y.S.
Elyashiv, quoted in Sefer ha-Kashrus, pg. 280; Shevet ha-Levi 2:35.
25. Ma’asei Ish 5, pg. 22, quoting Chazon Ish; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
(Feiffer), pg. 138, quoting Rav A. Kotler; Yagel Yaakov, pg. 148, quoting
Rav M. Feinstein; Debreciner Rav in Pischei Halachah, pg. 108; Mi-Beis Levi
6; Rav C. Kanievsky, quoted in Nezer ha-Chayim, pg. 213; Mesorah, vol. 20,
pg. 91, ruling by Rav Y. Belsky.
26. Rav Y.E. Henkin, written ruling published in Yagel Yaakov, pg. 148.
27. Mateh Efrayim 581:4; 619:4.
28. See Sh'eilas Ya'avetz 107, Kaf ha-Chayim 263:40 and Moadim
u'Zemanim 7:117 quoting the Brisker Rav.
29. Sha'arei Teshuvah 263:5; Mishnah Berurah 263:23; Aruch
ha-Shulchan 263:12; Emes l’Yaakov, O.C. 585:2; Halichos Shlomo, Moadim 2:9-22.
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.
Rabbi Neustadt is the Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit and the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din Tzedek of Detroit. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org