Rabbi, I have two questions that i hope you could help us with:

1. with tu bshvat coming up, I am debating with my havruta about bug checking He says that only properly trained individuals are allowed to check – he says its a mishna berura somewhere based on a hatam sofer. he adds that r wosner writes this somewhere as well – that it needs to be specialized experienced individuals. but i seem to remember the hatam sofer reffering to someone with good eyesight -20/20 and not someone who cant see well. do you know where these sources are and can you tell us who is right?

2. we are also debating about rain hats on shabbat without an eruv – we heard differing shitot: mb, rmf, rmklein, minhag telz – can you enlighten us what this is about? also those new raincoats with hat hoods – i heard some say same problem and maybe even ‘ohel’. can you help us figure this out?

Thank you so much.

Answer:

1) Anybody with ordinary, reasonable sight, can check for bugs. To my knowledge, poskim do not require the appointment of a special bug-checker with 20/20 vision, and they only mention the regular checking of foods for bugs.

For foods that have an actual halachic obligation of checking — foods that bugs are at least ‘commonly’ found in (mi’ut ha-matzui) — somebody with poor eyesight should not be relied on for checking. [Note that authorities dispute the meaning of mi’ut ha-matzui, and this is not our topic.] Somebody with decent eyesight can check, and there is no need to search for the sharpest eyes in town.

2) Concerning rain hats, I understand that the reference is to the plastic covers that wrap around hats, and protect them from the rain.

The majority of poskim are lenient concerning this cover, which is specially made for hats, and can therefore be seen as part of the hat. See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah p. 206, and see also: Chelkas Yaakov 2:100; Har Tzvi Orach Chaim 39 (based on Beis Shlomo 39); Tzitz Eliezer 10:23; Cheshev Ha-Efod 2:67; among others. See also Mishnah Berurah 31:134.

Although the Iggros Moshe is stringent (Orach Chaim 1:108-10; Az Nidberu 72, and Betzel Hachochman 2:80 also lean towards stringency), there is therefore room for leniency, in particular where there is no concern for a reshus harabim de’oraisa (no 600,000 passers-by).

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