The name of the recipient of this letter was not released.

B”H, 17 Cheshvan, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

Your letter was duly received. My response was delayed because of my many involvements. In response to your questions:

a) On the first night of Rosh HaShanah, the apple is eaten at the beginning of the meal, after partaking of the bread [on which the blessing] HaMotzi is recited. On the second night, the new fruit is eaten before washing one’s hands for the meal. See Kuntres S. S., p. 30.1

The difference between them is straightforward: Since there is no difference [with regard to when] the apple is eaten (even if it were not to be dipped in honey),2 it is preferable that it be [eaten] after washing one’s hands, so that the Kiddush will be in the closest possible proximity to the meal. The new fruit, [by contrast,] should be eaten before washing one’s hands so that it will be in direct proximity to the blessing Shehecheyanu which is being made on it.

b) The [request] Yehi Ratzon that is recited over the apple should be recited directly after the blessing Borei Pri HaEtz [and] before one partakes of it. This follows the careful understanding of the Alter Rebbe’s Siddur:“Afterwards, one should say,” in contrast to the ruling in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch.3

c) The Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, sec. 608[:8 advises against partaking of] “milk-products and חמאה [usually translated as “butter” (but see below), on the day before Yom Kippur]. The references cite Magen Avraham [as the Alter Rebbe’s source]. Magen Avraham (based on Rambam, Hilchos Avodas Yom HaKippurim 1:6)however, speaks of “hot dairy foods.”4 You note in your letter that it is possible that the Alter Rebbe’s intent was also “hot dairy foods” rather than butter. And besides, butter is not mentioned in the Talmud and the halachic authorities in this context.

It is a worthy and reasonable note. There is further support for this correction, for seemingly there is no reason for butter to be singled out, for it is included among milk products, just as cheese is not singled out (although it is mentioned explicitly in Yoma 18a) for this reason. Nevertheless, all of the printings of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch that I have seen (Kapust, 5586; Zitomir, 5627; Shtetin, 5622; Warsaw, 5634; Yozefa, 5635; Vilna, 5665) contain the word “butter” and this version is also quoted by Nasiv HaChayim.

Perhaps it can be said that [the reason] the Alter Rebbe prohibits butter, singling it out, although it is [included among other] dairy foods, is that it is never eaten independently. And if the intent of חמאה is cream, [it can be said that the reason he singles it out is that] it is a liquid. Nevertheless, the opinion of the Alter Rebbe requires explanation, for he mentions milk[-products], without stating that they must be warm.

[A possible explanation can be offered based on] our Sages’ statement (Nazir 23b): “A transgression performed for the sake of Heaven is greater than....” She did this in order to weaken his power as Rashi states. Therefore it is possible to explain [why]: “She gave milk... she offered butter” (Shoftim 5:25).5 The commentaries to Nach who explain that she gave him milk because it makes one drowsy (this is somewhat questionable based on Yoma 18a;6 also, it is necessary to understand why [Yael] “offered butter”) follow the opinion of the Sages who maintain that Sisera did not touch Yael. See also the commentary of Radak to Shoftim 4:18, 5:27, who explains that the various Midrashim differ concerning this matter.

d) In his Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 639:13,the Alter Rebbe writes that [one who departs from a sukkah and returns] should recite a second blessing in the sukkah if he did not return immediately, but after an hour or two. Now in sec. 25:28, with regard to tefillin, he writes [that a second blessing should be recited if one waits] “an extended period [before putting them on again], like two or three hours.” You ask the reason for the difference between sukkah and tefillin and also: why if one (or two) hours are sufficient, why does he continue to speak of two (or three)?

Rav Chayim Naeh, in his treatment of the laws of tefillin in his Ketzos HaShulchan, in the Badei HaShulchan, subsec. 63, discusses the issue. He cites Rashi (Yoma 30a, s.v. notal) who states7 that a person who goes away for an hour or two diverts his attention from his meal. [He also cites] the Siddur Yaabetz whichstates that one should recite a blessing again if he waits two or three hours. The Ketzos HaShulchan concludes that he does not see any reason to distinguish between tefillin and sukkah. He also states that if two hours is considered a prolonged time, certainly this applies to three hours and he leaves the issues unresolved.

In my humble opinion, [a resolution] can be offered [after] prefacing the matter with a reinforcement of the question. We find four different categories regarding the above matter: a) sukkah, 1 or 2 hours; b) tefillin, 2 or 3 hours; c) tzitzis, after several hours (the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, sec. 8:23 and in his Siddur). (Badei HaShulchan 7:17 writes that two or three hours is considered a long time, based on sec. 25:29, but the difference in the wording used by the Alter Rebbe clearly implies that two different measures are involved.) d) a [pleasant] fragrance, according to Turei Zahav, one blessing a day [is sufficient even though there were several intervals in between]; according to Magen Avraham, one must make a second blessing immediately. (The Alter Rebbe’s ruling on this matter has not been explained because sec. 217 of his Shulchan Aruch is not extant.) Why are there different measures?

It appears to me that the reason is that the measure for the interruption of a particular matter is dependent on the duration of that matter itself; for example, with regard to the recitation of the Shema and the Shemoneh Esreh, the measure for the interruption is the amount of time it takes to recite it in its entirety (see the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, sec. 65:1). Similarly, in all the above matters, that is [the basis for] the measure. The fundamental matter that establishes a person’s [dwelling] in the sukkah is eating (see Turei Zahav 639:20).8

With regard to tefillin, the time they [are worn] for most people (who are the subject of the discussion here, for [we are speaking about a situation where] the person does not wear them throughout the day, for he has removed them and this was not due to factors beyond his control) is the time of prayer (see the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, the conclusion of sec. 27; secs. 25:1, 27).

With regard to tzitzis (for the tallis gadol, which is the subject of this discussion), there is no fixed time, but the time that it is worn is longer than that of tefillin, because it is put on before the tefillin;it does not require a clean body and there is no need to be careful about diverting one’s attention (see the Shulchan Aruch, sec. 37).

With regard to fragrance, it has no substance. Therefore one might say that since a person departs from its [place] and goes outside, [his connection with it] ceases entirely and he must recite a new blessing when he enters.9 Alternatively, it can be said that since there is no obligatory fixed time, [the passage of] time does not represent an interruption.10

By and large, the duration of a meal is an hour. Support for this can be drawn from our Sages’ statement (Berachos 55a) that a meal (which is generally eaten twice a day) is comparable to the offering of the daily sacrifice. And it is stated (Pesachim 55a) that the offering of the daily sacrifice (which is offered continuously, twice a day) took an hour.

It is also possible to say [that support for the idea that the duration of a meal is an hour can be derived from] our Sages’ statement (Shabbos 10a): “The first hour [of the day] is the time when Luddim eat,” [i.e., they eat] throughout the entire first hour. See also Bava Metzia (83b) “During the fourth hour...” on which Rashi comments, “This is the hour of the meal.”

This is the measure of an ordinary meal. Nevertheless, if a person desires that his life be prolonged, he should, as our Sages say (Berachos, loc. cit.), prolong his meal. Since the measure has extended beyond an hour, [our Sages] established it as two for those who prolong [their meals]. This is the foundation of Rashi’s statements (in Yoma, loc. cit. and also in the gloss of Rashi to [the Halachos of] Rifat the conclusion of the eighth chapter of Berachos).

The time for prayer (including putting on and taking off one’s tefillin, beginning with the recitation of Ma Tovu, etc.) is generally more than an hour and a half (see [Tanya,] Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 1; it is possible to find support for this in the words of the Zohar I, p. 62b; III, p. 172b). As above, since the time span extended beyond an hour, the Rabbis spoke of a measure of two. [And in this instance as well,] our Sages said (Berachos, loc. cit.) that a practice that will lead to long life is to prolong one’s prayers. And thus, since he extends them beyond two hours, our Rabbis spoke of three for those who prolong their prayers.

See Berachos (32b) which relates that the pious men of the early generations would spend three hours in prayer. See also Pri Etz Chayim, Shaar HaTefillah, sec. 7, which explains that although the imprint of [the influence of] the intellectual faculties lasts throughout the entire day, [the activity of] the intellectual faculties themselves is not prolonged beyond three hours.

N.B. Tanya, ch. 31, mentions “an hour or two” [with regard to making an honest reckoning of one’s spiritual shortcomings,] but there it is possible to explain that the intent is for an even longer period. See Tosafos, Shabbos 60b, s.v., hashta.11