QUESTION: On Erev Yom Kippur, may one eat, wear leather shoes or wash his face and hands after reciting the Birkas ha-Mazon of seudah ha-mafsekes?
DISCUSSION: Although, technically, Yom Kippur does not begin until sundown, it has become customary that the restrictions of Yom Kippur are in force once Birkas ha-Mazon of seudah ha-mafsekes is recited. Some poskim mention this custom only concerning eating and drinking,(1) while others include the restriction against washing and anointing too.(2) [A minority view includes the restriction against wearing leather shoes as well,(3) but this has not become the accepted custom.(4)] In order to avoid this issue, one should stipulate – either verbally or mentally – that he does not wish to assume any of the Yom Kippur restrictions until he either verbally “accepts” Yom Kippur, or until he recites Tefilah Zakah before Kol Nidrei, which contains the formal “acceptance” of the holy day of Yom Kippur and its restrictions.(5) But, b’diavad, one who failed to make such a stipulation may rely on the poskim who rule that the restrictions of Yom Kippur do not begin until one actually “accepts” Yom Kippur upon himself, or at sundown.
QUESTION: If one washes for bread on Motzaei Yom Kippur after reciting Havdalah, does he first recite Al ha-gefen v’al periha-gefen over the wine or grape juice?
DISCUSSION: Yes, he does. Concerning this halacha, Havdalah is unlike Kiddush: When one recites Kiddush right before the meal, the Birkas ha- Mazon over the meal covers the wine as well, since Kiddush is considered as part of the meal (6) even though the wine was drunk before ha-motzi was recited. But when it comes to Havdalah, the majority of the Rishonim do not consider it as part of the meal, and require, therefore, that Al ha- gefen be recited prior to washing. B’diavad, however, if one forgot to recite Al ha-gefen and only remembered about it after washing, he should not recite Al ha-gefen and rely instead on the opinions who hold that Birkasha-Mazon covers Havdalah wine as well. (7) Other points to remember about the Motzaei Yom Kippur meal:
* After drinking the wine or grape juice for Havdalah, no She’hakol or Borei nefashos is recited over any other beverage which is either on the table or which one is planning on drinking at this sitting. (8)
* The bread or cake that will be eaten at this meal should not be on the table during Havdalah. If it is already there, it should be covered. (9)
* If additional wine is drunk during this meal, Borei peri ha-gafen should not be repeated. (10)
1 Mishnah Berurah 608:12.
2 Leket Yosher, pg. 137; Mikraei Kodesh, Yomim Noraim, 65.
3 See Bach 608:1.
4 See Sha’arha-Tziyun 553:3 who rules (regarding Tisha b’Av) that an automatic onset of the restriction against wearing leather shoes cannot possibly begin as long as one is still wearing leather shoes.
5 Mishnah Berurah 608:12. Interestingly, Harav S.Z. Auerbach questioned the custom of reciting Tefilah Zakah before Kol Nidrei, since Kol Nidrei should be recited before Yom Kippur begins; Halichos Shelomo 2:4-2.
6 Based on the rule that Ain kiddush ela bimkom seudah.
7 Mishnah Berurah 174:15 and 299:29.
8 O.C. 174:2 and Mishnah Berurah 3.
9 O.C. 299:9 and Mishnah Berurah 31.
10 Mishnah Berurah 299:26.
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