From the Rav’s Desk: 1) Blessing on olives during meal; 2) Approximating Gartel to Sefer Torah; 3) Using Yad of Sefer Torah to read along in Chumash

  1. Question: [Motzei Shabbos, 12th Teves 5781]

Should one make a blessing of Haietz when eating olives during a meal with bread? Is it similar to all fruits that we say a Haeitz during the meal or is it different being that it is not sweet?


One who eats olives during a meal with bread does not say a blessing over it even if he is eating it alone without any other food.

The explanation: The rule is that all meal foods are exempt with the blessing of Hazmotzi said over the bread and therefore an individual blessing over the food does not need to, and may not, be recited. The definition of a “meal food” is any food that is normally eaten with bread or is normally eaten during a meal, as opposed to a food that is usually designated to be eaten only as a dessert. Commonly, sweet fruits and vegetables are designated as dessert foods and therefore a blessing must be said over them during a meal whether it is Haietz [i.e. an Apple] or Hadama [i.e. watermelon]. However, fruits and vegetables that are not sweet are not designated dessert foods and therefore a blessing is not said over them during a meal. Accordingly, when eating olives during a meal a blessing is not recited. The same would apply to avocado. The differentiation in this matter is not in regards to what blessing is said, such as Haietz versus Hadama, but rather due to how the food is eaten as stated above.


Sources: See Admur Seder Birchas Hanehnin 4:1, Shulchan Aruch Admur 177:1 and Michaber 177:1 who all mention pickled foods as foods that are secondary to the meal, and therefore a blessing is not recited; Piskeiy Teshuvos 177 footnote 11


  1. Question: [Monday, 13th Teves 5781]

It is not customary in Chabad synagogues to use the silver Yad during the reading of the Torah. May I use it for following along in the Chumash, or is it considered designated for a Sefer Torah therefore prohibited in any other use?


Indeed, since the silver Yad is designated for the Sefer Torah, it therefore may not be used for other purposes, including to use it to look along at a Chumash.

The explanation: The Yad of the Sefer Torah is today mainly designated as an ornament for the Sefer Torah, and it therefore contains holiness of Tashmishei Kedusha, of which we rule that it cannot be used for a mundane matter, and likewise may not be used for even a Mitzvah matter of lower status. Thus, one may not use it to look along the Chumash or any other book.


Sources: See regarding the holiness of the Yad and that it has a status of Tashmishei Kedusha: Rama 154:6 as explained in M”A 154:14 and P”M 154 A”A 14; Shevet Halevi 6:63; Ginzei Hakodesh 5:7;  See regarding the prohibition to use the ornaments of a Sefer Torah for lower Kedusha: Michaber O.C.C 154:6 [prohibits making the Parchoes curtain a cover for the Chumash] Y.D. 282:16 [however there he permits selling to buy Chumash]; See regarding the general Chabad custom of the silver Yad: Hiskashrus 784; Chikrei Haminhagim 1:171-175

  1. Question: [Monday, 13th Teves 5781]

I see in many Chabad Shuls that prior to saying the half Kaddish after the Torah reading the Gabaiy make sure to approximate the Gartle to the Sefer Torah, sometimes even causing a delay to the Kaddish. Is there any source for this custom and should it be followed?


As far as I am aware, this custom is not recorded in any known Sefer, and does not have any explainable reason to defend it and is quite mysterious as to how it began and why. Practically, while so is the custom of some Gabaim and Balei Keria in Chabad communities, both Rav Leibal Groner a”h and [Yuvdal Lechaim Tovim Uleshalom] Rav Eli Landa Shlita testified to us that they are unaware of this custom in Chabad, and have not witnessed it being done, hence strongly negating it being a truly substantiated Chabad custom. Practically, even one who wants to do so is certainly not to delay saying the half Kaddish for this purpose, especially if the Gartel is not readily found.

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