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Question

If I am part of a larger siyum - as in the case of learning a mesechata of Mishnayos to complete 6 sidray mishnah with others - must I be present to eat meat when the siyum takes place during the 9 days

Answer

Yes you must, the leniency to eat meat arises from the fact that one is partaking of a meal which is for the purposes of a mitzvah. That is only in the location in which the festive meal for the siyum is being held.

Question

Dear Rebbe, I need help solving a problem. A neighbor drives through the neighborhood at extremely high rates of speed, 40-60 miles an hour, in a 25 mph area. He rarely slows for stops signs and never stops at them. He drives the wrong way down one way streets. What can I say to him to get him stop?

Answer

Without knowing the person about whom you are talking, it would be impossible to determine would could possibly be effective. I do not know his/her personality, nor why he or she is driving recklessly. It is important for all of us to follow posted speed limits and other traffic laws. Not only is it illegal to do otherwise, but it poses a serious threat to the safety of all involved; the driver, passenger, and anyone else in the vicinity.

Question

Can a woman who is a licensed massage therapist massage a man? And can a male massaged therapist massage a woman?

Answer

Due to the nature of massage therapy, that would not be appropriate. Should this cause financial stress on the therapist then I recommend that he or she contact his or her personal rabbi to discuss his or her personal situation.

Question

I recently received my father's z"l tfillin. He was left-handed, and I'm a righty. If I want to use them, do I need to do anything other than retying the knot on the opposite side?

Answer

Yes, you should contact a sofer who will be helpful in this situation.

Question

Is chazara ever allowed from an oven i.e can I make it groopa vikatuma by covering dials or something of the sort?

Answer

With today's ovens there does not seem to be a method to do so.

Question

One of my students - a non-Jew --asked me what one has to do to get into Heaven. I told her I would ask a rabbi. How would you respond?

Answer

The Talmud deduces that non-Jews have a responsibility to keep the seven basic Noahide laws. Additionally, we find that being righteous and charitable are considered to be very meritorious. While God's determination and judgment is impossible to understand completely, it would seem that adhering to the above lifestyle is what is expected.

Question

Can I roast kosher marshmallows in the same bonfire as someone who is roasting treif ones?

Answer

You may so long is they are kept distant from each other.

Question

Can one have a sheitel cut during sefiras haomer

Answer

Yes one may.

Question

Can a husband and wife hold Sefirah differently as far as when they each begin?

Answer

It is appropriate for the two to observe the same time period of mourning, however, if there is a pressing need they may mourn different segments of Sefirah.

Question

We have a cat (fixed,female) that has bad flees. No matter what we try, we have been unable to get rid of them (even the vet). Being that this cat is unfriendly and 12 y.o, our only option is the spca who will put her to sleep. Are we allowed to do that? We have a baby that was bitten by the fleas and fleas can carry diseases. We have separated the cat from us for some time now to get the medicines to work. No luck now we have to decide what to do. Is it o.k sending her to the S.P.C.A knowing they will most likely put her down.

Answer

I am sorry to hear about your tragic situation. Yes, you may give her to the SPCA.

Question

Is one allowed to use a frozen challah/roll for one of the lechem mishna, if it wont be edible at any point during the meal? i.e. just for the lechem mishna purpose or does it need to be potentially edible at that meal? Similarly can one use a matza for lechem mishna bet. Rosh Chodesh and Pesach when we dont eat matza as long as the other bread item is challah/usable?

Answer

Yes, one may.

Question

Is there any truth that a dishwasher that has not been used in a year can be kashered (previously potentially used for non-kosher)?If so, what is the source? And how would one go about kashering the dishwasher?Thanks

Answer

Actually, it is fairly common that rabbis will allow one to kasher a dishwasher without the need to have let it sit for a year. A lot has to do with their approach to kashering plastics. There is debate about this issue and I encourage you to speak to your personal rav to hear what he has to say about this matter.

Question

I am a therapist for a Jewish agency. They issued me checks for my work, some of which I did not cash. These checks are from 2011, 2012 and 2013 and total $4000 of uncashed checks. I've filed for these checks in my taxes and I am sure they did too. I tried to cash these checks in my bank today, but the bank is not accepting checks older than 6 months and told me to ask the company to reissue new checks. By US law, I believe that they are required to pay me for up to 2 years (I am not 100% sure on this). I am wondering if they are halachically responsible to pay me for these uncashed checks (and reissue me new checks). Are they also responsible for the expired checks that are older than 2 years? Is there a limit to how many years they are halachically responsible in paying me for my services? Or are they not liable for paying me at all? Please help. I want to confront them tomorrow - February 26,2014. Thank you.

Answer

From a halachic standpoint it seems that they are still responsible to pay you since the money never technically left their account into yours. I would recommend first discussing this calmly before having a confrontation. It is very possible that they will be understanding. It would also be appropriate for you to allow them some time to render payment considering that they may not be aware of a significant expense coming due right how. It was not their fault that the checks were not cashed. It is also important to find out what the laws are from a qualified legal expert as that may have bearings on the ability to collect these funds and since I am not a lawyer I am not qualified to give legal advice. This answer therefore should not be considered as legal advice, I am merely reflecting my opinion from a halachic standpoint somewhat independent from what the civil law states or mandates.

Question

Is one m'chuyav to give maaser to tzedakah from a yerusha and if so is it calculated on money, stocks, etc. and/ or also on valuables, i.e. jewelry, a house, etc.? Thank you very much.

Answer

Yes, one is required to do so.

Question

Once the 11 months of saying Kaddish and davening for the amud is completed, what happens during the last month as far as davening? Do I completely avoid davening for the amud? Should I refuse to do so if asked?

Answer

You may daven for the amud during this time.

Question

We always hear in a hesped "may he/she be a mailitz yosher for us." why do we think that a person who is now coming before the keesay hakavod is able to (has the right to)plead on our behalf when he/she has themselves to worry about? And, how do we know there is such a concept?

Answer

There are several statements throughout rabbinic literature that indicate that there are intercessional beings in heaven. While nobody is perfect, every person has done many righteous deeds in his or her lifetime and therefore has many merits. These people were generally members of communities and families, and their actions reflect on their respective communities and families. Thus, many like to pray to God that He see the good deeds and merits of the deceased and merit the community/family accordingly.

Question

Regarding what you said about the WiFi, please state the sources for this. Considering that so many places have signs stating "Free WiFi", your statement sounds a bit questionable.

Answer

The terms and agreements of the major internet providers stipulate very clearly that use and enjoyment is limited in this fashion. Like phone service, internet providers often have different agreements for residential usage and for commercial usage. Businesses that provide free wifi service would be on a business plan, presumably one that they requested allow them to allow their clients to also use the service.

Question

Is there any halachic issue with spaying/neutering a pet ie. cat or dog

Answer

Helping control the pet population and having our pets spayed or neutered is an important lesson that many of us have been reminded of many times since our youth. However, in many cases Halacha prohibits such procedures whether or not the one performing the operation is a Jew or not. Many rabbis have ways to circumvent the Halachic prohibition and allow the procedure to be performed under certain conditions. I encourage you to speak to your personal rabbi to find out what is necessary.

Question

Is it permissable to use someone else's wifi without permission?

Answer

Not only is it not permitted in that scenario, but even if the other individual grants permission it is prohibited. This is a violation of the service provider's terms and agreements and it would fall into the category known as "Zeh Neheneh V'Zeh Chaser." Meaning one person benefits to the detriment of another. The service which is being stolen is offered to paying customers only.

Question

If someone is in the unfortunate position of needing monetary assistance to purchase food (either from community organizations or government assistance) is it appropriate for them to use that money to host guests for Shabbos or otherwise who do not need that assistance? Or should they wait till their situation gets better and they are off the assistance?

Answer

It would be cruel to force people to become social outcasts due to economic hardship. I think that even if receiving assistance, one may invite friends from time to time. I would discourage lavish meals and inviting on a very consistent basis, but a certain level of being social is necessary for everyone. This, however, is under the assumption that the organization providing assistance has not done so on condition that it not be used in such a setting. Should that be the case then one would not be permitted to invite others and use the food that was provided.

Question

I have to two shabbos-related questions in which I would really appreciate your help.1. What is the problem with using hairspray on shabbas?2. Is there an issue with putting on face cream if one doesn't smear it? If so what is the issue?Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it.

Answer

1) The Talmud explicitly states that braiding one's hair is prohibited to it being similar to building. Many contend that shaping ones hair after spraying it is the same thing. Some are lenient to allow one to first shape the hair without spray and then spray it so that the hair stays in its already designed position. 2) Some minor medicinal treatments are prohibited on Shabbos, so if this is medicinal in nature then it could be prohibited. However, with regard to using medicine on Shabbos and Yom Tov, it is always imperative to speak to one's doctor to ensure that there will not be life threatening consequences should the product not be used. If there are none then one should speak to a competent rabbi to discuss if one can use the product.

Question

This was asked of ME ! So I'm deferring to you, dear Rabbi:have you ever heard any halacha around the issue of a covered trash can being inside a shul, purpose being for proper disposal of kleenex?

Answer

I see no problem with it.

Question

My dear rabbi, please correct any mistaken assumptions in the following question. I understand that one has up to 72 minutes between "bites" or "swallows" to continue a meal. What if one didn't make a Motzi, but rather just make whatever brochos are applicable. Is the 72-minute requirement then applied to each TYPE of food independently? Thanks. DW

Answer

The Halacha to which you are referring is only if one was not full from the original meal. In those cases, one has until he is hungry again (this will sometimes be longer and other times shorter). The same time limit practically applies to all food items, not just bread.

Question

If I made Kiddush and ate mezonos or even washed at a shul Kiddush (and benched) must I make kiddush again at my meal at home

Answer

No, you do not need to make Kiddush again. However, many have the customarily do so for their lunch meal.

Question

Similiar to previous question [but not the same I don't think] - If one has some mezonos (like at a kiddush, for example) but not enough to make an AH"M and then proceeds to have a lot of Boreh Nefashos-worthy foods, do you only make a B"N or also an AH"M (the logic being that the non-Mezonos foods are "attached" to the Mezonos food you had).

Answer

In such a case one would only make a borei nefashos. However, I would like to point out that if one is fulfilling his obligation of kiddush then he should eat enough mezonos to make an al hamichya.

Question

Going back to a previous question, you were asked about someone who comes in around Az Yashir time. Why wouldn't your answer have been that he should have gone to a later minyan? At what point is a latecomer so late that he's not considered to have davened with a minyan? If he misses Barchu? If he misses Shemone Esrei or Kedusha?

Answer

Obviously someone should attend services on time. However, the Shulchan Aruch and other early halchic sources delineate what one should do if he came late. Obviously, if attendance at a later minyan is possible then that is preferable. However, some people's schedules do not afford them those opportunities and they need to know what to do should they come late. One is not considered as having prayed with the community if he does not recite his personal Shemonah Esrei with them. Nevertheless, it is still preferable to pray in a shul by oneself if he cannot make it in time for services. Additionally, one unable to get to shul should preferably pray at a time that the community is praying.

Question

Does one always add "boray n'fashot" after saying "al ha'michya," even if one only ate mezonot foods?

Answer

No, these are two independent brachos. Each one is recited after eating the foods for which that brachah was composed. Thus, if one did not eat or drink food items that mandate a borei nefashos he would not recite it even if he recites an al hamichya for the food that he ate that necessitated it.

Question

The situation I was thinking of is that the guy comes in around- let's say Az Yashir time- and still needs to put on Tallis/Tefillin. I understand if he has his T/T on then no problem- answer Barchu and continue with the Tzibur. But what if he will not get on T/T in time for Barchu? Should he answer and then put on T/T or refrain from answering-? Thanks.

Answer

He should wait until after Barchu to put them on. However, if he can answer between putting on his talis and his tefillin, he can do so. Additionally, if he can put his shel yad on and wrap one or two wraps, in order that it will stay, and then place his shel rosh on before they recite Barchu; he should do so and answer Barchu. He would then finish placing the shel yad on afterwards.

Question

As an insomniac, I tend to wake up in the night, somtimes falling back to sleep, sometimes not. When do I say Modeh Ani?

Answer

When you wake up and begin to start your day. Good luck!

Question

a) does one have to make up (part of) Psukei DZimra if they arrive late and miss it?b) if one arrives in time for Barchu but has not put on Tallis/Tefillin yet, should they answer Barchu and continue putting on Tallis/Tefillin (would that not be a Hefsek in Birchos K"S?)?

Answer

A) One needs to make it up if he skipped it in its entirety. If only portions were skipped, it is appropriate to recite those portions later in the day. B) Can you please be more specific in your question? Has this person started reciting Birkas K"S or did he just walk in at Barchu but he himself is not up to that point? Has he begun putting on his talis? Tefillin?

Question

Is it OK on Shabbos to shake a tablecloth outside when it is windy or calm ?

Answer

One may so long as they are in an area that has an Eruv.

Question

Is there a Torah precedent/reasoning for the modern trend of male spouses having a shorter life span post the death of their wife than vice versa?

Answer

Not that I am familiar with.

Question

Is there a minimum length for Tzitzis strings and beged? Is it still ok if the knots come apart a little? Does length of a person (tall or short) affect the size for the tzitzis?

Answer

One'a tzitzis strings should be at least approximately 12". The garment itself should minimally be 3/4 amah of garment in each direction (from the center hole). There is dispute as to the size of an amah and the sizes range from about 19" to 24".

Question

I discovered this site while looking for an answer to a question online. One question a while back asks about shopping for a friend at costco to which the Rabbi replied it was ok as long as the friend did not reimburse him. I'm not sure the Rabbi knows that costco allows members to bring as many guests as they like as often as they like. Guests are allowed to shop using the members card and paying for themselves. I do not see why they would care if a member bought items for others while they are there. Would this information impact the Rabbi's answer.

Answer

Unfortunately, your information seems to be in error. The Costco rules explicitly state, "Members are welcome to bring their children and up to two guests into the warehouse, however, only Costco members may purchase items." The number of guests is limited and the guests are not allowed to purchase the items, they are only granted permission to enter the premises. The rules and regulations can be found at http://www.costco.com/member-privileges-conditions.html. If there is a revised or more authoritative listing of their rules, please let me know and, if necessary, I will revise my answer accordingly.

Question

Is the Pidyon haben ceremony mandatory under Jewish law, or is it discretionary?

Answer

The Pidyon Haben is obligatory and not just optional. It is performed for a naturally born first born male provided that neither his paternal nor maternal grandfather is a Kohein or Levi.

Question

If someone has a speech disability (?) such as a lisp or not being able to properly pronounce, for example, a raish, can I be yoitzay with their davening/laining?

Answer

Yes you may, that is his normal way of speaking.

Question

Does a garlic press need to be toveled?

Answer

Yes it should be.

Question

It's difficult to keep up with the shliach tzibbur so i always daven pesukei d'zimrah ahead. But, now, i'm saying Kaddish. Can I still daven ahead and say Kaddish when it's time w/o having to worry about being mafsik during pesukei d'zimrah

Answer

You may continue to do so and still recite Kaddish.

Question

Does Jewish law forbid the marriage of an observant Jew to a non-observant Jew?

Answer

No, Jewish law does not forbid an observant Jew to marry a non-observant Jew.

Question

First of all, is the heter of showering on yom tov because cooking is allowed for ochel nefesh and we consider showering ochel nefesh?Furthermore, aren't there still issues of smearing soap and maybe even schita from scrubbing shampoo out of your hair? what does washing one body part at a time have to do with this?Thanks

Answer

Firstly, let me just mention that not all rabbis permit showering on yom tov. Those that do permit it do so because activities that are permissible for cooking are permissible to perform for other purposes so long as those other purposes are common practices that are done by average people. Since the average person showers on a regular basis, some rabbis permit one to heat water to shower with on yom tov. However, there is a specific talmudic injunction not to immerse the majority of one's body in hot water on Shabbos. There is a dispute between the Rishonim as to whether this applies to yom tov and the Rema holds that it does. Therefore, one need to use lukewarm water if he is to have the majority of his body in the shower at any point in time. Conversely, one could wash each limb in hot water, one at a time. One is unable to use bar soap and many prohibit the squeezing, shampooing, or drying of hair.

Question

Please help me understand why we daven everyday if the gates are closing on Neilah. Wouldn't that mean they are not open every day?

Answer

God always hears prayer, especially if done with sincerity, emotion, and even tears. Nevertheless, at certain times we perceive there to be a greater and easier connection through prayer. Such a connection is referred to as having a "gate" to the heavens. The special one discussed at Neilah apparently closes shortly afterwards, but the regular methods of prayer are not rejected.

Question

Is there an inherent kedusha/benefit/"betterness" to chalav yisroel over non-chalav yisrael, or is it just the issue of the worry over non-kosher milk? which in this day and age/many countries is not as much of a concern

Answer

There is a specific rabbinic prohibition of drinking non-chalav yisrael milk. The reasoning behind this is that there is a possibility, albeit slim, that non-kosher milk has been mixed with the kosher milk in an amount greater than 1 part to 60 parts. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l maintained that in certain countries, due to government oversight, all milk is technically considered to be chalav yisrael. Many in the United States rely on this ruling. Nevertheless, others rabbis have argued that this leniency is not allowed and maintain that the original prohibition still exists even in countries like the United States. Many people who take a stringent approach do not feel that Rav Feinstein's ruling is invalid, rather, they prefer not to rely on a leniency that they feel is not necessary. Some feel that by adhering to what they feel is a higher standard that this provides some element of holiness into their lives. There is no objective way to determine whether it truly does or does not.

Question

Is it ok to leave my cleaning lady money before Yom Tov but have her take it when she comes ON Yom Tov? If not what is the best way to go about it?

Answer

That is not a problem as long as you do not discuss it with her on Yom Tov. Please be aware that she cannot do any work for you on Yom Tov that you could not do for yourself, though.

Question

Is one allowed to kill bees in the sukkah for fear they may do harm to a child or even an adult who may be allergic?

Answer

Trapping them is permissible. Many authorities maintain that it is only permissible to kill them if there can be fatal consequences and trapping is not a safe alternative.

Question

Can you give me an idea of when I am required to say a Bracha Achrona? For instance, how many cookies, grapes, figs,or dates would I have to consume to say the blessing?

Answer

When you eat an olive sized portion.

Question

Is there a Halachik preference as to whether one should put on Tallis/Tefillin first or say Birchas HaShachar first?

Answer

No.

Question

Is there really such a thing as it being assur or a bad thing to take a nap on Rosh Hashanah?

Answer

It is not prohibited, however, it is customary to refrain from napping on Rosh Hashanah. However, the alternative should not just be sitting around and not being productive.

Question

If the 31st day after a Bechor's birth falls out this coming Sunday (T'Zom Gedalyah) when would be the proper time to perform the Pidyon HaBen?

Answer

The Shach mentions that the custom in such cases is to have the pidyon on the fast day and the meal later that evening. (Shach YD 305:12)

Question

Can you please sum up what the issue or controversy is with the kashrus of Hebrew National products?

Answer

I recommend you ask the Kashrus organizations involved. I do not work for any Kashrus organization and cannot comment on their policies.

Question

If a person has the custom to wait six hours after eating meat before having anything milchig, does this mean an entire six hours or does it mean within the sixth hour?

Answer

It all depends on one's personal custom. The Rambam mentions that one should wait approximately 6 hours, but the Shulchan Aruch states that one should wait 6 hours. There are many customs that have developed based on these sources and each person should follow his/her family's practices.

Question

Is it permitted to read about Christianity (or other religons like Buddahisim) for recreational purposes - like when perusing wikipedia, for example - ?

Answer

There are many opinions as to what is recommended and what is not when reading material about other religions. I encourage you to speak to your personal Rav who can help guide you to find whatever materials you are looking for while still maintaining the appropriate perspectives.

Question

What is the proper halachic way to dispose of nails?

Answer

In today's day and age the easiest halachic way is to flush them down the toilet.

Question

Is it permitted to read a Jewish newspaper like the Jewish Press, for example,in the bathroom since it contains one or two Divrei Torah -? Would it depend on whether there were Pasukim with Hashem's name in it?

Answer

You should not take those articles into the restroom with you.

Question

What should one do about a Friday Night invitation to someone who may or may not drive on Shabbos? (I think they might, but I am not %100 sure since I have not seen them drive in about a year - it could be they don't drive anymore) I should also mention that this person comes to shul at any rate, so they would probably walk (and not drive) home --- at least this week... Thanks.

Answer

Your question is one that has been dealt with extensively and is especially relevant to people in kiruv situations. There are many opinions that span from allowing one to invite so long as the guests have the option to remain for Shabbos (or not drive later), to those that prohibit. I recommend you speak with your personal Rav to see his opinion.

Question

What does Jewish law say about the use of a vault or outer burial container when burying the deceased?

Answer

Jewish law technically allows for several types of burial processes. However, some have not been practiced since ancient times. I encourage you to speak to your Rav in person to discuss what you would like and to see what is considered to be acceptabl by today's standards.

Question

Hi. If I am not mistaking (which I most certainly may be)when someone comes late to davening,if possible,they should start shmoneh esrei with the chazzon and say kedusha with the chazzon AS IF he were the chazzan i.e when the chazzan say "nikadiesh es shimcha" I would say it with him as opposed to answering with the rest of the congregation.If this is correct my two questions are as follows: 1) do I say atah kaddosh after kedusha or go straight to ata chonein like the chazzan?2)If I'll have better kavanah davening at my own pace is it better to just start without the chazzan?Thank you so much for your help, I really appreciate it.

Answer

You are correct that if one is late and will not be able to conclude his personal Shemonah Esrei prior to the Chazzan's repitition that he should wait and recite along with the Chazzan. To answer your questions: 1) You should recite L'dor with the Chazzan and then continue with Ata Chonein. 2) If you will have better concentration by not reciting your Tefilos with the Chazzan, you should not just begin on your own. In this scenario you should not Daven at this time, rather, you should answer Kedusha, Modim, and any other applicable Kaddishes. AFter you have fulfilled these obligations you should Daven privately.

Question

Is an autopsy ever permitted? What if the local authorities insist on it, such as if foul play is suspected, does halacha overrule them?

Answer

Autopsies may be permitted in certain circumstances and a competent Rav should be contacted to discuss the situation if this is pertinent. The authorities will follow their rules and procedures and will not necessarily take halachic considerations into account if they feel it is necesary to perform an autopsy. Your question is a good opportunity to mention that it is very important that people make sure to speak to a competent Rav and also to a legal expert to make sure that their final wishes are respected, legally binding, and in accordance with halacha. Unfortunately, many pass away or become incapacitated without a proper will and their wishes and/or halachic requirements are not met.

Question

Are there any circumstances prohibiting a Jewish person to be buried in a Jewish cemetery? We always hear rumors about tattooed people, intermarried people, suicides, etc. Which if any are true?

Answer

All Jewish people are allowed the final respect of being buried within the confines of a Jewish cemetery.

Question

I am a Levi and as such am supposed to be genetically related to Aaron. What is the difference between the Cohanim and the Levites from a genetic standpoint?

Answer

Yaakov had twelve sons who we refer to as Shevatim, tribes. Levi was one of the tribes and all descendants, via patrilineal descent, of this tribe are referred to as Leviim. Aharon, the brother of Moshe, was a great-grandson of Levi and was therefore a Levi when he was born. However, God chose to separate Aharon and his descendants (again via patrilineal descent) from the rest of the tribe and designate them as priests, Kohanim. As a Levi you are part of the general tribe, but not part of the priestly subsect that descended from Aharon. I suppose you would be considered somewhat of a distant cousin.

Question

Is it accepted that a Jewish man may use genetic testing to identify himself as a Kohain? I'm thinking of the Cohen Modal Hapoltype (CMH, which is said to be the standard genetic signature of the Jewish priestly family.

Answer

A Jewish (or non-Jewish) person is permitted to test, but the results are not acceptable to consider the man a Kohein. There are many factors that need to be considered when determining whether one is a Kohein. For example, if one's male ancestor married a divorcee (or non-Jew) then he would not be a Kohein although his paternally inherited DNA would show a link between him and Aharon. There are additional concerns with regard to the acceptability of the test results for other genetic reasons.

Question

Does one need to make the bracha borei minei bisamim when walking into a perfume store?

Answer

If the merchant has perfumes on display and makes sure the aroma fills the store then one must make a brachah when entering.

Question

Is it considered Lashon Hara to disparage a certain restaurant (for ex.- X is so much better than Y!) Perhaps one is just stating their opinion and therefore not a problem. Maybe there is a difference between critiquing the food and critiquing the restaurant itself (in which case you denigrate the Jewish owner)-? Also, perhaps speaking ill of a certain caterer would certainly be problematic since the caterer's business, his food and he himself are inextricably linked-? Thanks in advance for your comments on this matter.

Answer

While one is entitled to his opinion, that does not mean that the subject is not loshon harah. Even when telling the truth, speaking negatively about another is loshon harah. In this situation, you are affecting one's livelihood. While it is permissible in certain situations to inform someone of a bad experience in order that they not make the same mistake, there are many caveats that need to be considered. Generally, they would not be met in your type of situation.

Question

Is it ok to use the same plastic collander/strainer for vegetables and noodles cooked in milchig/fleishig/parve pots?

Answer

You should not use the same collander.

Question

if a food item is labeled ou-d but it does not say "contains dairy products" is it considered d-e

Answer

I apologize but since I am not affiliated with the OU I cannot comment on their policies. There are other possibilities why it could be labeled OU-d besides the possibility of being "de." I recommend you contact the OU office directly.

Question

According to Halacha, are non-orthodox Jews regarded as Jewish?

Answer

Halacha recognizes anyone born to a Jewish mother to be Jewish. Religious affiliation or beliefs do not affect one's Jewishness. Additionally, anyone who properly converts or is born to a woman that properly converted is also considered to be Jewish.

Question

Does donating money to causes like the Jimmy V Foundation (Cancer Research) count as Tzedaka in terms of Ma'aser?

Answer

Tzedakah to reputable, but not Jewish, charities is considered a mitzvah and one may use Maaser money for it.

Question

Can you run through what we can and cannot do after the fast over as pertains to the 9 day halachos please?

Answer

The standard rules of the 9 days apply until midday of 10 Av (the day after Tisha B'Av). The most common applications are not drinking wine, eating meat, laundering clothing, wearing freshly laundered clothing, bathing, and listening to music. The prohibitions that were specific to Tisha B'Av do not apply once the fast is over.

Question

Can towels be washed during the 9 days or does the restriction apply to more than just clothes?

Answer

Even towels may not be washed during the 9 days.

Question

Why do we make keil maleh's at Shabbos mincha?

Answer

Keil Maleis are often said while holding a Torah scroll. As such, they are recited at a time when we read from the Torah. Shabbos Mincha is a convenient time to do this and has become the time when most congregations recite such prayers. Additionally, many mystics discuss the idea that the neshamos of the deceased are able to get extra rest on Shabbos and as Shabbos ends it is a time to discuss God's perfect judgment. This is why "Tzidkascha" is recited at Mincha on Shabbos as it mentions this concept.

Question

Can someone with a tattoo be buried in a Jewish cemetery?

Answer

Willfully getting a tattoo is prohibited under Jewish law. Nevertheless, it does not disqualify one from being buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Question

Is one allowed to PRACTICE piano during the nine days?

Answer

The custom is to be lenient with regard to practicing playing musical instruments during this time. This is not considered playing for enjoyment; rather, it is considered to be educational.

Question

does one have to give maaser from a tax refund?

Answer

A tax refund is money you earned that was inadvertently paid to the government as taxes. Since you, presumably, did not take maaser on this earned income when it came in, because you sent it to Uncle Sam, you should do so now.

Question

Can one put on a freshly laundered shirt on for Shabbos Chazon?

Answer

The contemporary custom is to allow one to wear a freshly laundered shirt for Shabbos Chazon.

Question

I know that during the 9 days, I can't just randomly turn on the radio, youtube, pandora, etc for music. Am I allowed to use music for exercise and go to exercise classes (for example, ZUMBA) during the 9 days?

Answer

You may, provided that the purpose of the music is for exercise and not for enjoyment.

Question

For someone who keeps cholov yisroel, even for powdered milk, are sodium caseinate or whey ingredients permissible?

Answer

There is a dispute, but most who are stringent are stringent about these too.

Question

Is it OK to perform lawn maintenance during the 3 weeks? What about buying a shabbos hat?Thanks

Answer

It is permissible to do lawn work during this time, however, during the nine days one should refrain from planting flowers and other items that are for beauty and enjoyment. One may purchase any type of clothing during this time period provided that it is not one that necessitates the brachah of shehechiyanu. That brachah is somewhat subjective based on the purchase habits of the individual, so I am unable to give a general answer. If one did make the purchase anyway, the brachah should be recited.

Question

If we believe that man was created in G-d's own image, how can we also believe that G-d has no corporeal form?

Answer

The corporeal imagery found in biblical and talmudic texts is taken allegorical. It is considered to be describing attributes of God metaphorically. The Rambam writes about this extensively in his philosophical work, Moreh Nevuchim.

Question

Is it ok to use spray sunscreen on Shabbos?

Answer

Yes it is as it is not medicinal, rather, it is preventive and healthy people do so on a regular basis. You may not use a cream or lotion, though.

Question

Two Shabbos questions - Can I put a charm on a chain on Shabbos to complete a necklace and can a new shoelace be put in a shoe

Answer

You may not complete the necklace nor place a new shoelace in a shoe as they constitute creating a new vessel.

Question

Please settle this for us: We see some people bow at different spots for Barchu. Some bow and stay down when they say Hashem's Name and some are sure to be up straight for Hashem's Name. Whats the correct way?

Answer

One should raise up at Hashem's name to signify that Hashem straightens the bent (zokef kefufim).

Question

Are there any lenient opinions that allow the use of baby wipes on Shabbos? If yes who?

Answer

There is a wide range of thought with regard to this issue with some rabbanim allowing their use and others who do not. Additionally, there are some who allow their use with certain conditions. Even just here in Baltimore one can find varied opinions amongst the rabbanim. Therefore, I recommend speaking with your personal Rav to find out his opinion.

Question

Two questions about challah, please: (1)I have seen some people cover the challah when they make hamotzei and others uncover it when they make it. Are both ways acceptable? (2)Is it okay to keep one challah wrapped when you make hamotzei -- in plastic, foil, or a bag -- or must both be unwrapped?

Answer

Both are acceptable. Many keep them covered while they make hamotzei to demonstrate how the manna was covered completely in dew when it was given in the Wilderness. However, it is not obligatory to do so. It is also not obligatory to take both loaves out of their wrapping, however, many place all ten fingers directly on both loaves for symbolic reasons and for this one may want to remove both loaves from any wrapping.

Question

Can you please explain why teh 30th day of Hebrew Month would be Rosh Chodesh? Couldn't the next day (the first of the sunsequent month) be the only day of Rosh Chodesh? (It does sound funny that the tail of the month is called Rosh Chodesh?)

Answer

The basic reasoning is that in historic times there was no standardized Hebrew calendar. The High Court was authorized to declare when each month would begin and this was based on the renewal of the moon. The average lunar cycle is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3.333 seconds. Thus, in order to maintain accuracy some months needed to be 29 days and others 30. Due to the fact that things were not standardized, it was not known in advance whether the 30th day since the last Rosh Chodesh was the next one or whether it would be the 31st. Hillel II is credited with instituting the standardized calendar in the year 359 CE. Incorporated in the calendar are customs of the generations that preceded the calendar. Thus, since prior to the calendar's institution the populace treated day 30 and 31 as Rosh Chodesh out of doubt, so too, even in contemporary times we continue that practice. Also see Shibolei Haleket 168 for a more complex reason, but unfortunately this format will not be able to explain it in its entirety.

Question

Hashem causes everything, that which we perceive as good, and that which we don't perceive as good. We thank Hashem for healing the sick (or for helping us out of other misfortunes we experience), but isn't Hashem also the cause/creator of the sickness? Isn't that like thanking a person who trips you for helping you up after you fall? Without the trip you wouldn't have needed the help up.

Answer

Hashem acts in ways that are impossible for us to fully comprehend. Chazal teach that all Hashem does is good and just. This is even when one falls sick or has a tragedy. Human nature is to recognize and appreciate when things go well and when we are saved from such events. It is imperative to harness that natural sense of appreciation to Hashem at those times. Truly, one should appreciate all Hashem does, even when it appears to be tragic. Chazal teach that one recites blessings on happy occasions and also must do so upon sadness. Nachum Ish Gamzu personified this trait by always remarking that everything was for the best, even during tragedy. So, yes, you are correct, Hashem is in control of everything and yes he causes both the sickness and the healing. For us, it is most often easier to say thank you upon the relief of sadness than its occurrence. May we all soon merit to all of Klal Yisrael only experiencing happiness and that sadness and tragedy will be a thing of the past!!!

Question

Why are boys and girls not aloud to talk? Why aren't they aloud to touch? What's the difference between dating when your a teen and when your an adult?

Answer

The language used by the Torah that prohibits inappropriate relationships states one is not to "come close" to performing an inappropriate act. Talmudic authorities understand this to mean that in addition to the act itself, touching, which brings many to act inappropriately, is included in the prohibition. The definition of this prohibition therefore includes touching. Separation of boys and girls follows the same principle. Dating when one is of marriageable age versus when one is not is clearly different in that one is not only for the purpose of creating a solid marriage and family, but is being done when that can happen.

Question

What are the tznius rules in Baltimore? why do we need to keep tznius? (all tznius rules including girls and boys talking to boys...) Why can't boys and girls talk? etc....

Answer

There are many halachic guidelines with regard to both tznius dress and separation of men and women. Unfortunately, this format is not adequate to address these very extensive, and somewhat personal, issues. I encourage you to speak to a parent, teacher, rabbi, or mentor who is both knowledgeable in this area and knows you well in order to guide you and help you find what is appropriate for you. However, let me utilize this opportunity to address this overall topic and discuss its significance as tznius is not a manner of dress or to separate men and women, rather, it is truly an overall lifestyle. Tznius means to be modest and not haughty and really is non-specific to dress or behavior between men and women. It is just as applicable to men as it is to women, too. The word tznius/tzanuah means to be discreet. One of the paradigms of this trait is King Shaul who, even after being designated as king, did not go around bragging about his uniqueness. Similarly, although Sarah used to work very hard preparing for wayfarers, she did not feel the need to receive accolades. She was comfortable remaining away from the beneficiaries of her hard work and was focused on doing what was right without the need to be a braggart. While one should certainly be proud of his accomplishments, it is a beautiful trait to possess that one not feel the need to be recognized for everything he does. Haughtiness and being ostentatious are the opposites of tznius and are traits that the Talmud considers to be despised by Hashem. Thus, men and women are required to be modest in all fashions and not seek attention. Most talmudic sources discussing tznius focus on these aspects of modesty and privacy as opposed to being haughty and making everything public.

Question

Hi, I noticed while smoking a cigar that the tip was sweet, almost like they put something on it to make it taste that way.Can this be a kashrus issue? Another unrelated question is if I have psoriasis on my arm is it problem to pick it on shabat?I am a frequent reader of "Ask the Rabbi" and would just like to thank you for providing all these answers, I find myself having many of the same questions asked and your answers are extremely helpful.

Answer

While there may be reason to permit. In kashrus cases that have similar factors that are relavent to flavored cigars, many kashrus organizations recommend against lenient positions in matters like these. Most often, the leniencies only arise when there is pressing need as it is dependent on a detailed debate with regard to inhalation of prohibited substances (reichah). You may not pick your psoriasis on Shabbos, refuah sheleimah.

Question

If I got a quote for a service from a non Jew (say a new entrance door plus installation) from one place, and received a higher quote from a Jewish worker that is in need of business, am I allowed to hire the Jewish worker and pay the difference from Maaser money?

Answer

The determination whether giving him the business may depend on exactly how significantly he needs the work. I encourage you to speak to your Rav to discuss this circumstance in more detail.

Question

I am confused and disturbed regarding your answer to the question regarding shaving on Erev Shabbos. If it is considered not kovodik to Shabbos if one does not shave, are you implying that Rabbonim in the Baltimore community who do not shave or cut their beards are not honoring Shabbos? Please explain.

Answer

It is not disrespectful not to shave prior to Shabbos if one normally does not shave. There is a very big difference between those that shave and those that do not. If one chooses to shave (or just trim) on a regular basis, he clearly is displaying that his personal preference is to look clean shaven (or well trimmed). By refraining from shaving (or trimming) his appearance is one that he personally feels is disheveled. If prior to Shabbos he did not remedy this and then immediately after Shabbos (meaning the day after) he shaved then it appears as if he did not care to look nice for Shabbos. Conversely, one who prefers not to shave clearly displays that that style is more pleasing to him and by refraining from shaving does not display disrespect. Please read the earlier answer again as I was stressing that it is not the lack of shaving by itself that is disrespectful but the fact that the person shaved the immediate day after. Many choose not to shave (or to wear a trimmed beard) because they like the style, or because the Gemara refers to the face's beauty as being displayed by a beard, or for mystical reasons.

Question

Is one aloud to shave Erev Shabbos when Lag B'Omer falls on a Sunday? and why? (If its for Kovod Shabbos, Lag B'Omer isnt until Sunday)

Answer

Ashkenazim allow shaving on Friday (in honor of Shabbos) when Lag Baomer occurs on a Sunday. For one to observe Shabbos looking disheveled and then to shave and look nice the following day would be a lack of respect for Shabbos as it seems that one did not care about Shabbos but only the immediate next day.

Question

If we have 2 days Yom Tov and Israel has only one, why do they not always only celebrate one day of Rosh Chodesh? Thank You

Answer

The reason we have two days of Yom Tov is because when the High Court would pronounce when Rosh Chodesh was there was a delay until that information made its way to the Diaspora. Those far away were not certain exactly when Yom Tov was so they kept two days to be certain. This was preserved as custom even after the calendar was established. Rosh Chodesh should be observed on the day it is pronounced, unlike Yom Tov which is usually about two weeks later, so even those in Eretz Yisrael were unaware of it. Additionally, if the High Court did not make its declaration until very late in the day then even in Yerushalayim the populace would be unaware of the exact day.

Question

Someone wished me a "freilichin Tamid" after yom tov. I have no idea what that means. Do you?

Answer

Freilichin = be happy and Tamid = always. The person was wishing you that you should always be happy. Additionally, the segment of Orach Chayim of the Shulchan Aruch, the daily and yearly laws, begins with the concept of being aware that one is in Hashem's presence Tamid (always); and it ends with the idea of having festivities Tamid (always) within the context of Purim.

Question

We say in brachos in the morning that "v'ata asid litla memenee u'lhachazira be l'asid lavo" I don't mean to sound like an apikores, but, I'm curious, how do we know that?

Answer

Belief in Techiyas Hameisim, the resurrection of the dead, is considered to be one of the basic thirteen beliefs of the Jewish faith as enumerated by the Rambam. Our tradition has numerous places where this concept is discussed such as in the first Mishnah of the last chapter of Sanhedrin. The Rambam further discusses this at great length in several of his works.

Question

Why are chocolate and coffee not chometz if they are beans?

Answer

Beans are not chametz, rather, they are called kitniyos. Kitniyos are items that have similarities to regular grains and/or often were grown in fields within proximity to where grains were grown thus increasing the possibility of grains being mixed in them. Chocolate and coffee are not similar to grains and are not grown in such a fashion.

Question

May I use a slotted spoon on Shabbos/Yom Tov or is it borer.

Answer

It is only borer if it is being used with foods that are normally strained and/or the person doing it wants it strained. In the event that the person does not care and most people do not care with these food items then it is fine to use such a spoon.

Question

can pots be toiveled if necessary on chole hamoed

Answer

Yes.

Question

Why is there no batul b'shishim on Pesach

Answer

Some maintain that the reason is because the heavenly punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is kareis which is very severe. Thus, the rabbis were stricter with items tainted by chametz. Others maintain that it is because after Pesach chametz is permissible and there is a rule that something that will become permissible in the future is not able to be nullified at the present time.

Question

Our self cleaning oven is broken so we need to kasher it manually. How do we do that?

Answer

Make sure the oven is cleaned well and turn it on the highest temperature for 45 minutes. It should be noted that some are stringent and do not rely on the above. Rather, they would maintain that you would need to take a blowtorch and heat the oven until it is red hot.

Question

If a person has a carry permit to carry a gun, is he allowed to carry it on Shabbos or Yom Tov? If yes, does there have to be an eruv?

Answer

A person may not carry a gun on Shabbos or Yom Tov even if there is an eruv. It must be noted that all life threatening situations override the regular rules of Shabbos and Yom Tov, so in such a situation one would be allowed to carry. However, it must truly be a life threatening situation to be lenient.

Question

When I pay membership to a shul, is that considered maaser?Thanks

Answer

Generally, obligatory payments are not able to be used with "maaser money." There is a debate as to how to consider shul memberships. The shuls do require membership, however, there are many other places that one can daven including many that have no membership fee. Thus, there are many opinions as to how to treat shul membership. I encourage you to speak to your personal Rav to ascertain whether he feels all, some, or none of the fee can be deducted from maaser.

Question

Is it permissible to sleep unclothed?

Answer

One may sleep without pajamas, however, for modesty reasons he should have a blanket covering him so he is not exposed.

Question

Why do we break specifically the middle matzah? I know there are probably lots of answers, I'm looking for something simple, something I could explain to a child. Thanks.

Answer

The most basic answer is that this will allow the matzos to appear whole when reciting the first brachah on them because the middle one is sandwiched in between two whole matzos. This displays repsect for the brachah.

Question

If my minhag is to keep sefira from 2nd day of pesach until lag b'omer is it permissible to listen to music on chol hamoed?

Answer

There are differing opinions as to whether or not those that keep "the first half" of sefirah are doing so to keep 33 days worth of mourning, or to mourn until Lag Baomer which is the day attributed to the end of the deaths of Rebbi Akiva's talmidim. If it is the former then it would seem that some element of mourning might take place on Chol Hamoed but if it is the latter then none would be necessary. Even if it is the former, mourning might not be applicable because displays of mourning, even when being done for the loss of a relative, are severely limited on Chol Hamoed. Additionally, most people who "keep the first half" are lenient. Thus, unless one is certain that his/her custom is to refrain (s)he may be lenient.

Question

Is it permitted to serve lamb at the seder meal? Also what exactly is considered roasting as far as the prohibition to eat roasted meat?

Answer

Lamb, or goat, is permissible, but, like other meat/poultry, cannot be served if it was roasted. Roasted means cooked without any liquid.

Question

Is there a concept in Judaism of dying for others' sins? I have heard/read many times the phrase "their death was a kapara for Klal Yisroel." Thank you

Answer

Chazal teach us that the death of the righteous atones for Klal Yisrael in a similar way that the red heifer purifies people.

Question

Hi, say I am not machmir about opening up bottles,bags of chips etc. on shabbas ( that is okay right?) is there something wrong with people who ARE machmir asking me to open things for them if not I'm not going to be using them?

Answer

If it makes the person being asked feel bad then it is absolutely problematic to do so. If not, then it would somewhat depend on how strongly the one asking feels that opening is prohibited. If (s)he feels it is merely a stringency but technically permissible then it is fine. If (s)he feels that there is no basis whatsoever to be lenient and it is clear that any Rav that has ruled so has completely missed the boat as it is impossible to see things from that perspective, then it would be problematic. If (s)he feels that it is prohibited but cannot definitively rule out the authorities that are lenient then it is not problematic but might not be keeping within the spirit of the law.

Question

What may one (woman) eat and/or drink before making kiddush on a Shabbos morning?

Answer

There are different opinions at to at exactly what point in time a woman becomes obligated in Kiddush on Shabbos morning. Many rabbanim state that it is after reciting the morning Berachos. At that point she may not eat or drink anything, not even water, until she fulfills her obligation. She is allowed to make Kiddush for herself, though.

Question

Hello I am from an Island in the C'bean, we have no Jewish people here, or if we do the population is so small it goes unnoticed. Really the only thing I know is what I have read in the Bible. I think some things may have changed since then.However I would like to ask some questions if I may. First is it an insult to call your race "Jews" or do you prefer something else. Second:- when you marry do you wear the wedding ring on your right hand or left. Third: I visited NY a few years ago and saw some gentlemen dressed all in black with little curls on the side of their faces, why is that. Fourth:- Are Amish people a type of (Jew/Hebrew). Okay I think I will stop there for now, as I don't want to wear you out. Hope to hear from you soon.

Answer

It is always fascinating to learn about new cultures. The Carribean actually houses the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere, Mikve Israel - Emanuel in Curacao. To answer your questions: 1) The Jews that I am familiar with do not find it offensive at all to be referred to as Jews so long as the person calling us that does not intend to use the word in a derogatory fashion. Of course, every person is an individual and I cannot speak for everyone, though. 2) The wedding ring can be worn on either hand or not at all. 3) With your knowledge of the Bible, I am sure you are aware of the prohibitions discussed about not cutting certain areas of hair from one's head. Some Jews have the custom to grow these areas extra long to show deference to this commandment. 4) The Amish are not Jewish, rather, they are a Christian group that is an offshoot of the Menonites. I hope that I was helpful, this format is not the best way to really go into great detail about major topics. I would recommend you researching more about the Jewish people from sources at your local library or other more comprehensive sites online as that would certainly provide you with more in depth information.

Question

How much money is one suppose to give for matanos l'evyonim ? Thank you.

Answer

One is supposed to give two presents to two poor people. The amount of each present should at least be a prutah which means that two presents equal two prutos. There is dispute as to how to value a prutah in contemporary times, but a quarter would be adequate. Although, the above is the technical minimum, one should preferably value each present as an amount that a poor person could reasonably use to purchase something that would benefit him in on Purim.

Question

Is one allowed to pop a pimple on shabat? if not what is the milacha one is doing by doing so? Also what exaxtly is the halacha of kiddush bmakom seuda? Thank you for your time.

Answer

One is not allowed to pop a pimple on Shabbos unless it is causing pain and the "popping" is to stop the pain. The problem is that popping it creates an opening for the liquid to come out and this is considered to be similar to building or creating. There are a few opinions as to what defines kiddush bemakom seudah but the most common practice is to make sure to eat a kezayis of mezonos in the same room that kiddush had just been recited. One can also drink a revi'is of wine or grape juice if no mezonos is available. Some are more stringent to make sure to eat bread. In the event that none of these were eaten at that time then one has not fulfilled his obligation of kiddush and will have to hear it again.

Question

Is one allowed to use maaser money for matanos l'evyonim? Thank you.

Answer

One may not. Things that are obligatory, generally, cannot be deducted from maaser.

Question

In today's daily halacha which i really appreciate, it says "if the son walks in the path of evil, he surely shows contempt for his father, and disgraces him." Is all of what is being discussed only in order to elevate the neshama of the father? What about the mother? Doesn't she count?

Answer

Of course she does. I do not put the daily halachos up, so I am not sure exactly what translation is being used. However, in Hebrew often times the masculine form is used to indicate both male and female. (The same is technically done in English although with political correctness people have begun to say he or she as opposed to just he.) In this case, the word parent can be substituted for father. Older works usually do not use the extra wording necessary for today's politically correct terms.

Question

Is it permitted to set up your TV before Shabbos to record/tape a "kosher" program on Shabbos to view ater Shabbos?

Answer

You would not be violating Shabbos by having the program recorded in the fashion you mention.

Question

I heard Kiddush in shul and ate. Must I make Kiddush when I get home to eat the seudah or may I just begin with the Motzi?

Answer

Assuming you ate a kezayis of mezonos at the Kiddush you do not need to make Kiddush again in your home. As a matter of custom, though, many do recite the daytime Kiddush a second time in their home in these situations.

Question

Rabbi:Can you explain the practical method and halachic implications for putting on a tallis and t�fillin before the "Earliest Tallit and Tefillin Time"?Thank you

Answer

Different Rabbanim have different approaches to this. The most commonplace practices are to put on Talis and Tefillin with a brachah just before Barchu. If that will also be too early, then many advise to put on Talis and Tefillin without a brachah prior to davening and to recite the brachah while moving them around a bit at the end of davening.

Question

Is it permissible to open a package of daily single use contact lenses for immediate use on Shabbos?Thanks

Answer

I cannot comment on all contact lens packaging because there may be types that I am unfamiliar with. However, the type(s) that I use (and of those I have in the past) has a plastic piece on the bottom that contains some solution and a lens. The packaging has a paper/foil that is stuck/glued to the top (this usually has the brand name and prescription information printed on it). I believe most lenses are packaged in a similar fashion, but cannot say with certainty. This type of packaging can be opened on Shabbos, although you should be careful not to rip any lettering on the paper/foil (which generally does not happen anyway).

Question

When considering what to skip because one is late for minyan and wants to daven shemona esrei with the minyan is the expectation that there is enough time to daven what isn't skipped very quickly, or at a slower pace. In which case is it better to daven the fewer things slower or the full pesukei d'zimrah at warp speed, as it seems most morning minyanim do nowadays anyway?...for some people even when they are on time would have to skip half of it to keep up.

Answer

It is better to say fewer portions with concentration and understanding than saying more without.

Question

I found alot of change that I put away as tzedokah.It has accumulated over the years. .It might have been from shlugging kaparos but I don't remember what it was earmarked for.Can I use this tzedokah to buy specific things for a yeshiva,or do I need to use the tzedokah for a poor person in need. Thank you

Answer

You may use it for whatever tzedakah organization you like, or you may distribute it to the needy.

Question

Can a utensil that has not been toiveled and was used be toiveled after the fact or is too late?

Answer

Not only can it still be toveled, but it must still be toveled. Just because it has been used does not absolve one of the obligation to tovel it.

Question

If one takes the money from their pushke to one of those coin machines that counts it, is he required to make up the difference that the machine charges and keeps when turning it over to an ani?

Answer

Yes, one should. Once the money has been placed in the pushke it has been designated for charity. You may not use it for your personal convenience/banking fees even though your intentions are to give the balance to the charity/poor person. If you call the charity/poor person in advance and ask them if they will allow you to take the amount for the fee and they agree then you may keep it to reimburse yourself.

Question

Are you permitted to suck on lozenge OU-D (Dairy) after a meat meal. Its not eating.

Answer

You may not. Firstly, I am not so sure that this is not considered eating. Secondly, even putting it against one's tongue to taste is not permissible. (See Taz YD 98:2) In the event that one's throat is extremely sore and (s)he would like to wait fewer than six hours (or whatever his/her custom is) then (s)he should contact his/her Rav to see if that is possible.

Question

Is learning Torah (e.g., daf hayomi) a hetteir to repeatedly arrive at, or start, davening late and then skip much of psukei dzimrah in order to catch tfillah btzibbur?

Answer

One should come to davening on time in order to recite all the words appropriately. This includes leaving the regular early shiur/chavrusah with enough time to make it to davening.

Question

If someone pronounces the sheim as "ad-dee-noy" in a bracha, should I answer "amein"?

Answer

Yes you should. Although one should make every effort to pronounce all words of tefillah and berachos correctly, mispronouncing them does not necessarily invalidate the berachah. Also, in the case you mention, the word Elokeinu was presumably pronounced correctly and therefore there is a proper name of Hashem in the brachah. Additionally, even if the word mentioned in your case was considered invalid, the way the mevarech said it in your case is fairly common and one could argue that it would be no different than using a non-Hebrew name refering to Hashem.

Question

Preparing for laining, i see gabbaim speaking to each other in shul during chazaras hashatz. do they get a special dispensation allowing them to talk during chazaras hashatz?

Answer

Possibly. The Shulchan Aruch mentions that one may not talk about idle matters during Chazaras Hashatz. (Shulchan Aruch OC 124:7) There are lenient opinions that allow one to discuss matters that pertain to the performance of mitzvos if the matters are pressing and must be discussed at that time. (See Orchos Chaim of the Rosh 14 and Tosefos Yom Tov's commentary, also see Aruch Hashulchan OC 124:12) It is preferable not to be lenient if at all possible, though.

Question

Does one have to give maaser on money that was given to them as a Chanukah present? Thank you/

Answer

One should give maaser from Chanukah gelt (money).

Question

Am i allowed to use my masser money for the NCSY 8th day concert? thank you!

Answer

Generally people do not count money spent on concerts for maaser even though the proceeds go to a tzedakah. If money is extremely tight and this will influence your decision whether or not to go then I suggest you speak with your personal Rav to discuss your specific financial situation to see if maaser can be used.

Question

With regard to the question about Tachanun, what if the reverse would be the case, a nusach Ashkenaz person davening in a nusach Sfard minyan. Should one daven the nusach Sfard or Ashkenaz Tachanun?

Answer

He should recite the 13 Midos with the congregation and he may say vidui with them, too. He should say the rest as nusach ashkenaz does, but he should make sure he is not doing so audibly.

Question

From what age should I start washing my children's hands in the morning?

Answer

It is appropriate to begin when the child begins to understand the basics of doing mitzvos. This is generally around age 6 or 7.

Question

A person who davins nusach sfard davind with a nusach ashkanaz minyon-how does he davin TACHNUN ?

Answer

He may not say the 13 Midos since those are only to be recited together with a minyan. He should not do anything that makes him stand out from the rest of the congregation but he may quietly recite his version.

Question

Are we allowed to count people from within a picture even though we are not allowed to count them in person

Answer

Yes you may.

Question

Is there a problem with drying ones hands after washing at a cemetery and are you not allowed to hand one the cup directly to wash?

Answer

As a matter of custom, some do not hand the washing cup to another at the cemetery. Additionally, some customarily do not dry their hands after this washing. There is no actual prohibition of either, but refraining from both is an acceptable custom. (Taamei Haminhagim 1025-1026)

Question

I have a strong feeling that the custom of giving gifts on Chanukah stems from a similar holiday around the same time.What do you think?

Answer

It is certainly possible, although it wouldn't create halachic problems with the practice. (See SA YD 178)

Question

Do my children (over bar mitzvah)have to give ma'aser from money they have earned from babysitting, day camp, etc.

Answer

Yes they do.

Question

I mailed in a check to an organization several weeks ago. I have noticed on my bank statement it has not been cashed. Can I not count that money towards maaser?(it could be mail is delayed due to SANDY, is their a time frame to wait...) Thank you.

Answer

If the money is still in your account then you may not consider it as if you have given it as ma'aser. I recommend you call the organization to find out what happened. The check may have been misplaced and they may request that you reissue one. Alternatively, there may be delays in their check processing. My understanding is that banks are not supposed to honor checks more than six months old.

Question

I told someone today that I was going to get a haircut and he told me that it was assur to get a haircut on Rosh Chodesh. HUH?!?!??!?!

Answer

Some do not take haircuts or shave on Rosh Chodesh because of a kabbalistic directive from Rabbeinu Yehuda Hachasid. One need not be stringent.

Question

We are hearing about so much loss in the hurricane, including personal items such as pictures, sefarim, etc. What happens if a kesuva is among the lost items. Can the couple be together because its an oinais. What happens in this case?

Answer

Yichud, being secluded, is prohibited between a man and his wife if she does not have a valid kesubah. This happened to many people during the recent superstorm that damaged significant amounts of property including many people's kesubos. A new kesubah that has language that declares that it is replacing a lost kesubah should be created in such a situation. Most sefarim stores carry these forms and such a kesubah is referred to as a kesubah d'irkasah. There are also websites that have them available for free download. A competent Rav should be consulted to ensure that the document being used is written, filled out, and signed properly. There are temporary measures that can be implemented until the kesubah d'irkasah can be obtained if a valid kesubah d'irkasah is not available and a competent Rav should be consulted if this is the case. Until such time that either of these options happens the couple cannot be secluded.

Question

Re Hurricane Sandy: What does HKB"H want from us? What is his purpose in bringing a mabul? How are we supposed to act when we have no clear understanding of what this is all about? Can you maybe write something for all of usto benefit from. This is so scary and we look to our rabanim for guidance and insight.

Answer

Unfortunately, we never truly know why Hashem does anything. However, when out of the ordinary events occur, they can be very powerful times for contemplation and retrospection. We should try and look at ourselves and see how we can become better people. This means both in terms of the relationship we have with Hashem and those we have with other people.

Question

"For the noodles cooked in a milching pot and served with cholent." would it be okay to eat it at the same time just not on the same dish? and what is the kashrus status of the noodles (ie: are they considered milchig?)

Answer

You may eat one after the other but not simultaneously. Most people nowadays refer to them as being "dairy equipment." They are not technically milchig (no waiting is necessary after eating meat).

Question

For the noodles cooked in a milching pot and served with cholent. What if the pot was clean and hadn't been used in 24 hours?

Answer

One who wishes to be lenient in this situation has what to rely on, but there are those who are stringent. (See Taz YD 95:4)

Question

If I cooked noodles in a milchig pot for a sesame noodle salad for shabbos day.Is it a problem to serve them with the cholent? (noodles are served cold) Thank you.

Answer

Yes, it is a problem.

Question

How long is the mourning period for a parent c"v as far as listening to music, buying new clothes, etc?

Answer

The mourning period for a parent is twelve Hebrew months. This is even if that year contains thirteen Hebrew months.

Question

3 pretty random questions if you can answer them i woukd really apreciate it. What milachos are allowed on yomtov and what is the source for them? does one need a specific hairbrush for shabbas and last but not least if one needs wipes for medical reasons can one use them on shabbas (say my child has hemroids or something similiar)

Answer

1) Melachos that are normally specific to food preparation, carrying, and burning are permitted when there is a need. Exceptions to this rule are: harvesting, grinding, picking fruit, squeezing fruits, and trapping. (SA OC 495:1-2) 2) No, but it must be one that will not certainly pull out any hair. 3) There is great disagreement amongst rabbis with regard to the permissibility of wipes on Shabbos and Yom Tov, you should speak to your personal Rav to find out his opinion.

Question

whats the criteria for making a bracha "laishev basukah"? i mean like if im just having a coffee in it do i make a bracha?

Answer

The custom is not to make this brachah on products whose brachah is shehakol and only to make it when eating either hamotzi or mezonos products. For hamotzi products one should make the brachah if he is eating a portion greater than two olive sized pieces. Mezonos products are a bit more complicated as they are subdivided into two categories: those that eating a sufficient amount would require washing and bentching (e.g. cake, cookies, crackers) and those that do not (e.g. pasta, deep fried products, oatmeal). The custom is to treat the former category like hamotzi with regard to leishiv, but only to make the brachah on the latter category when eating them as a meal and not as a snack.

Question

If I know money is tight for my family can I use my maaser money when I buy things I know my family needs. (especially by yom tov time) *I am a child from a single parent house*

Answer

The answer depends on many factors that will be specific to your personal situation. I encourage you to speak to a Rav who is familiar with you and will understand your current economic situation.

Question

2 questions: 1) in silent amidah is one supposed to bow at vanachnu korim in alainu? 2) On Rosh Hashanah i thought i noticed that the tzibbur didnt say alainu but they fell korim. Yesterday confirmed my suspicions when i saw no one saying the words to alainu when we fell. Is alainu to be said or not? As good as the Artscroll is I'm not sure whether they have it down 100% yet. thx

Answer

1) No 2) It depends on the congregation's custom. From what I understand, Artscroll generally prints the common practice.

Question

One one corner of my Tallis, one string ripped and is only left with about 3 inches. Is the length of that string ok? Is there a minimal length for each string?

Answer

It is okay. The minimal length is the amount it would take to wrap around the rest of the strings one time. Also, if only one string were to rip all the way until the knot it would still be fine.

Question

Can I hang a new succah decoration during Chol Hamoed or does it all have to be done before Yom Tov starts?

Answer

You may hang it on Chol Hamoed.

Question

Please explain the Chazon Ish esrog as opposed to the rest. Also why are some esrogim green and ok to use?

Answer

One is not allowed to use an esrog that is a genetic hybrid of esrog and another species. The Chazon Ish researched some esrogim and concluded which ones he felt were genetically pure. The seeds from those and their offspring have been used to plant many orchards. Some like to use such esrogim because they feel that they are getting a genetically pure esrog. A green esrog is permissible so long as it is a normal green color that will eventually turn yellow when the esrog becomes ripe. Some like to place the esrog near some red apples as they feel that this will cause it ripen quickly, although, as mentioned above, it is kosher even prior to become ripe.

Question

Can I hang a bug zapper inside my succah or is it a dvar muas? Can I hang it right outside the succah?Also, can you please let me know some basic requirements/prohibitions about putting a waterproof protective cover over schach? Thank you.

Answer

I would recommend hanging in the most effective place. In the even that both inside and outside are equally effective then it would be better to hang it outside. In terms of waterproofing, you can have a tarp ready to roll out over the schach in the event that it rains. In order to permissibly extend it on Yom Tov it should already be unraveled at least 3" over the schach prior to extending it fully.

Question

Is the custom to not eat nuts only apply on Rosh Hashana or through succos? Also are peanuts included in the customs because they are not really a nut? G'mar Chasima Tova!

Answer

The custom extends through Yom Kippur and most do not refrain from eating peanuts.

Question

Since you have said before that it is permissible for a woman to say Kaddish, does that mean in the case where a sister is saying kaddish a brother need not say and she is being "motzee' the obligation to say for the parents neshama?

Answer

What I mentioned before was that Rav Henkin ruled that a woman may say Kaddish (from the women's section) so long as there was a man saying Kaddish, as well. This does not absolve a man (e.g. brother) from his customary obligation to recite Kaddish.

Question

Hello,Is one allowed to use his/her "mysor" money when doing a yizkor pledge? Thank you.

Answer

The general custom is to use maaser.

Question

What categories do the 613 laws of Moses fall into? Are they Moral? or Civil? or Ceremonial? In the Torah, the ten commandments are clearly set apart by the actions of God. The ceremonial law is directly related to sacrifices and ceremonies, and to a priesthood. The civil law is just what it says, though it is said to be an expansion of the ten commandments.

Answer

The 613 commandments of God given to us via Moses are civil, ceremonial, and any other form of commandment He gave. The Ten Commandments are not separate from them, rather, they are part of the 613. All are contained in the Five Books of Moses and the traditions passed along from Moses. Their application is explained in the Talmud. If you are interested I recommend you read Maimonides' book on the 613 commandments in which he explains what he felt was the proper methodology to categorize what constitutes a commandment and then he provides a list of the 613 that fit his system.

Question

Can a yid request a DNR (Do Not Resucuitate) for if/when chas v'shalom that time comes. I'm asking because if a yid has to hold by "afeelu cherev chada munach al tzavarav" it would seem that a DNR would be unacceptable.

Answer

End of life issues can be very complex and very personal. It is important to discuss them with one's personal Rav and then to seek adequate legal advice to ensure that those wishes are conveyed properly. I therefore encourage you to speak to your personal Rav about this topic if it interests you.

Question

8-28-2012 Good morning Rabbi and welcome back. My question today is not a Halacha question. We see in the Torah many blessings and promises for those who embrace and are faithful to the Torah and Mitzvos. Yet, we see in actual life that many who are faithful to Torah and Mitzvos suffer terribly and the promises and blessings do not come for them. When this question is raised there are numerous answers as to why life needs to be that way. Sometimes it is attributed to some lack of diligence. Sometimes it is because of the sins of previous generations. Sometimes it is because of the needs of the nation as a whole and sometimes it is attributed to a misunderstanding of the blessing or the promise based on a nuanced interpretation previously unknown or unanticipated. And that's all fine. My question is as follows: How do we know that all of this will not be repeated in the next world and all the promises and blessings we assume and expect of the next world will not be denied to us for the same or similar reasons? May I also ask for the citations for this question. I thank you in advance for dealing with my question. Bryon W. Szojchet, Esq.

Answer

A person is held accountable for all of his personal actions and is rewarded and punished accordingly in the next world. There may be many things he was unaware of that he either accomplished or affected adversely for which he will receive his proper payment or punishment in the next world and these may come as somewhat of a surprise. Things that were not due to his actions will not be considered. (See Ramban's Sha'ar Hagmul for more on these very philosophical ideas)

Question

Ask the Rabbi will resume on Aug 27.

Answer

Thank you for your understanding...

Question

If I found an avaida do i have to pay for a classified ad in a newspaper - assuming the cost of the ad is less than the avaida ? If I do have to or I want to do so voluntarily, can I ask the loser for the cost of the ad ?

Answer

You are responsible for making a reasonable attempt to inform the owner. The standard in most communities is not to pay for advertisements and you are not required to do so. You should post a note in the various shul lost and found bulletins.

Question

Since when is one allowed to cut tzitzis (at least with a metal blade scissors?) I thought nothing metal could touch them in such a fashion?

Answer

The Rema makes no mention of the prohibition which you state, nor do the classic halachic interpretations of the Shulchan Aruch. (See SA OC 11:4) The custom you are referring to is not mentioned with regard to this halacha, rather, with regards to the initial making of the strings prior to being placed in the garment. (See SA OC 11:12 and MB 11:62)

Question

you answered that one may not carry a set of keys on Shabbos within an Eruv that includes house keys, car keys, and a car "clicker" . Please explain. Thank you

Answer

The clicker and car keys are muktzeh and by carrying the entire keychain you would be moving muktzeh in a prohibited fashion. (See Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchasah vol. 1 20:83)

Question

My son wears the undershirt style of tzitzit, and the tzitzit themselves hang very low on him. Am I allowed to cut/shorten them? They hang down so low and I don't feel like they are safe with all of the activities he does, and he cannot wear a smaller size.

Answer

In your circumstance you may, but if he has worn them already then you should not discard the removed pieces in the garbage.

Question

Just watched the hesped for Rav Elyashiv. Why were the speakers wearing a talis?

Answer

I did not ask them, so I cannot say with certainty; however, I would venture to say that it was done as a sign of respect.

Question

If I have a snack and I did not say a bracha acharona but went to daven Mincha, does Mincha create a hefsek so that I'd have to say a new bracha on a snack eaten later?

Answer

A lot depends on whether you davened in the same room or went elsewhere, what type of food you were eating, and whether others were eating with you. Unfortunately, without more specifics it is impossible to answer.

Question

My friend has membership to Costco and always offers to purchase items for me in the store. Would this be considered permissible since we don't have membership? Thank you.

Answer

It is 100% fine PROVIDED THAT the friend is NOT remibursed by you at a later point in time.

Question

Regarding doing laundry this year (2012) being that Tisha B'Av is a nidcha, does that have different rules than in most years? Can you do laundry on Sunday night?

Answer

It is different. Although one may not eat meat or drink wine, he may do laundry or take a haircut.

Question

within an ERUV, can one carry on Shabbos a set of keys which includes house keys, car keys, and a car "clicker ?

Answer

One may not.

Question

Is one allowed to get her ears pierced during the nine days? Thank you.

Answer

Technically, yes, however, it is advisable not to do things during this time that can lead to harm if they are not necessary.

Question

Is one allowed to wash hand towels during the nine days? What about washing tablecloths specifically for Shabbos?

Answer

One may not wash hand towels during the nine days. (SA OC 551:3) One may only wash tablecloths for Shabbos if they require cleaning, there are no other tablecoths that can be used, and a non-Jew is not available to provide this service. (See MB 551:32)

Question

Please explain the difference why I can blend veggies that may have bugs and eat it, but can not put less than 60 times milk into a cholent of meat?

Answer

There is a general rule that one cannot willfuly nullify a prohibited substance. This includes increasing the volume of a substance to the point that it is at least 60 times the amount of a prohibited substance. This is the reasoning why you cannot add a minute amount of milk into a mixture that contains meat even thought the amount will be less than 60:1. A bug that is intact (even if dead) is considered to be present and will not be nullified even though the other substances are greater than 60 times its mass. Thus, grinding or blending it is considered an act of making it able to be nullified since in that new blended state the regular rules of nullification exist. In a case where one has reason to suspect that a bug is present but there is also doubt about whether it is there, then many permit the blending of such a substance because one is not nullifying a known prohibited substance, rather, a doubted prohibited substance is being nullified. One should consult with his personal Rav or Kashrus agency to determine which products can be blended in this fashion.

Question

Why was Rav Elyashiv wrapped in just a tallis instead of in a wooden coffin? Was he put in one before being put in the ground?

Answer

It is more common in Eretz Yisrael to see this custom at funerals. The Torah teaches that man came from dust and to it he will return. Many understand that this can be accomplished better by having weaker or no coffins. I, unfortunately, was not at the funeral and do not know exactly how Rav Elyashiv was buried.

Question

Hi. I am in shiduchim age (not sure if that will make a difference to the answer) But I wanted to know if I can buy new makeup during the 9 days? And is there a problem of buying a new hair iron also during the nine days? Thank you.

Answer

During the three weeks and nine days there is a custom not to make the bracha of shehechiyanu. As such, many are careful not to purchase or wear new clothing during this time if that clothing would necessitate this bracha. The items you mentioned would not necessitate this bracha and present no problem to purchase them during this time.

Question

Am I allowed to wear something new (like an undershirt) during the 3 weeks? Thank you!

Answer

During the three weeks there is a custom not to make the bracha of shehechiyanu. As such, many are careful not to purchase or wear new clothing during this time if that clothing would necessitate this bracha. An undershirt would not be included in this custom. During the nine days and/or the week leading up to 9 Av (depending on Ashkenazic or Sephardic custom), however, the customs are not to wear freshly laundered or purchased clothing, this would include items that one would not recite shehichiyanu on.

Question

We live in a country that ascribes to the principle of separation of Church and State. With that in mind, shouldn't we support the rights of gay people to marry and have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples? It doesn't mean that we condone homosexuality. Also, is female homosexuality between non-Jews considered as being against the 7 Laws of Noach?

Answer

The rights bestowed upon the citizens of this wonderful country are such that nobody is forced to believe or espouse views counter to his personal convictions. The separation of church and state by definition means that even if the law were to recognize same-sex marriage that nobody actually has to believe it to be fair or moral. One of the beautiful freedoms of this country is the freedom of religion. The United States also allows its citizens freedom of speech and one is allowed to criticize legislation of any kind. I also wanted to point out that your question indicates that the issue of same-sex marriage has been settled. As it stands now, the same-sex marriage debate has not been decided. Legislative and judicial actions are constantly in the news and only time will allow us to see how this will turn out. Female homosexuality has never been a capital offense for non-Jews (even in the times when capital punishments were meted out for transgressions of sins involving prohibited sexual activity), however, the Rambam points out that the Torah is critical of this behavior with regard to the Egyptians (non-Jewish) and it is considered immoral. (See Rambam Isurei Biah 21:8)

Question

I have witnessed mothers benching their children on Shabbos. I thought that only a man can give a bracha? Where is the basis for the mother to do this? Also, is it true that a non kohain should only use one hand on the head of the child they are benching? Is one allowed to bench someone who is not their child. I don't mean "giving a bracha", I mean placing their hands on their head and benching them like they do their child.

Answer

Anyone may provide anyone else a bracha. Traditionally, men have given brachos to their children on Friday night, but a mother may do the same if she wishes even though there is no source indicating that such a custom was prevalent in earlier times. Some are careful to place only one hand on the head of the child as not to violate the prohibition of a non-kohain giving the priestly blessing to another since the verses from the kohanim's bracha are traditionally incorporated into the Friday night bracha. One may give this bracha to another's child in the traditional fashion, however, it is important to recognize that if it is a girl that is of the age that the laws of negiyah pertain that one should not touch her during the bracha (assuming it is a male giving the bracha, the same would apply for a woman giving a bracha to a male child that is not her own).

Question

Is it genaivah to use someone else's membership card, ie. to the zoo, or Sam's Club?

Answer

Yes, it is geneivah (stealing).

Question

Someone asked us to loan them a chulent pot. We have a brand new one that we offered to lend them and they volunteered to tovel it for us. Is there any problem with someone toveling a kaili for someone else?

Answer

No, there is no problem.

Question

If chas vshalom we need to call hatzolah on shabos how do we determine whether or not we can go in the ambulance or drive to the hospital. Do the hatzolah members have the expertise to pasken?

Answer

If one feels his/her life is possibly in danger then he/she should not take any risk and receive proper medical care in the quickest and most effective way possible. On Shabbos one should not hesitate in cases that may be life threatening and should opt to either drive or go in an ambulance to the hospital. The choice should be based on which of the two will facilitate better care for the patient. In the event that equal care will be provided to the patient then it is always better to passively "violate" Shabbos then to do it actively. When in doubt one should not hesitate and should opt for the option that appears to provide better care for the patient. At times when this is occurring it is extremely important not to hesitate and halacha does not permit such hesitation! I am unfamiliar with how Hatzalah trains its members, so I cannot answer your question with regard to the competence of its members in the area of paskining such matters to the patients.

Question

We've all heard the stories where a shiduch hasn't happened because a family may never have made a Kiddush when their daughter was born. Assuming that's not a bubbah maaseh and that something must be done in honor of her birth, would it make a difference whether someone had a Kiddush on Shabbos or an open house during the week? I guess the question is does having it on Shabbos make a difference?

Answer

I know many people whose daughters are happily married even though no Kiddush was ever made in their daughters' honor. Many people do make Kiddushes in honor of the birth of their daughters and some have considered this to be somewhat of a segulah for the daughter to get married while others feel it is from the brachos given to the parents at the Kiddush that help facilitate the marriage years later (e.g. May you merit to raise her to accomplish Torah, marriage, and good deeds). According to those that consider it a segulah then it would be specific to Shabbos, whereas those attributing this to the brachos would be less like to necessitate the party being on Shabbos. Either way, as mentioned before, I know many people who have successfully married even though no Kiddush was made in their honor (including a large amount of people's grandmothers since the practice has become more popular in recent years). I also am unfamiliar with any study that has compared the success rate of marriages of those who had Kiddushes in their honor and those that did not.

Question

If a person, for whatever personal reason they have, decides to eat treife, yet still has a desire to do other things properly, should he make a bracha on that food or would that be considered "sacreligious"?

Answer

He may not make a bracha on that food item.

Question

I have seen videos of cows being shechted, and I see the men holding the knife upside down with the animal standing upright. Doesn't this force them to push the knife upwards? I thought there can be no pressure on the knife, and that only the weight of the knife itself can be used to cut. I also thought that there can only be 1 forward and 1 backward motion, not a constant slicing.

Answer

One must be careful not to put pressure on the knife when performing shechitah. In general, shochtim are highly trained and are able to perform their duties without applying too much pressure. A slicing motion must be made and the focus is to have the animal properly slaughtered without any delay whatsoever. Most times this is achieved with one forward and one backward slice.

Question

ok, and what about the opposite, if he is eating and now Shabbos is over?

Answer

If havdalah was made or if melacha was done then he may not recite retzeih. If not, and the meal just continued into the night then one should recite retzeih.

Question

If a person is eating prior to when Shabbos, Yom Tov, Rosh Chodesh, etc. starts, and doesn't finish until after it starts, do they say the parts in bentching for Shabbos, etc? When do they actually start as far as this goes, is it sundown, tzays hacochavim, which?

Answer

Yes they should say those parts if they ate more after dark. Sunset is considered to be the defining moment for these matters. However, if one is having a meal prior to Shabbos/Yom Tov and it extends past sunset he is required to cease eating at sunset. He must then cover the bread on the table and recite Kiddush. In such circumstances, a second Hamotzei is not recited upon the continuation of the meal (and if the individual had been drinking wine prior to sunset then no Hagafen is recited in Kiddush). After Kiddush he may resume his meal. (SA OC 271:4 and see MB 271:18)

Question

Does the concept of "hagoneiv min Haganov patur" only apply to the specific item in a given instance of theft or as a general rule that if one is a known thief one can go to their house and take anything from them?

Answer

Although the Ketzos and Nesivos question whether one has transgresses the technical rules of stealing in such a circumstance, the Mishna itself only applies this rule to the obligation to pay punitive damages. (See B"K 62b and Ketzos and Nesivos 34.) This rule is specific to the previously stolen object. Breaking into another's house would not be permissible. Additionally, these acts are illegal and prohibited.

Question

What is the basis and is their a requirement to have black stripes on your tzitzis? Why are they only on woolen and not Cotton tzitzis?

Answer

There is no requirement to have black stripes on one's tzitzis; it is only a custom. This custom evolved from an earlier one in which people would have blue stripes on their talis in order to remind them of techeiles. As time went on black stripes replaced the blue (black displays mourning frequently). My assumption why this custom took off with regard to wool tzitzis and not cotton is because the wool ones look more similar to the taleisim that most people wear. Additionally, although the Rema maintains that clothing of all materials needs tzitzis from a biblical standpoint, the Mechaber maintains that only wool and linen garments have the biblical requirement and others are only rabbinic. So, it could be that this played a role in the evolution of the minhag. Lastly, since techeiles was wool it could be that the stripes were only done on garments made of wool to make them somewhat similar to actual techeiles, colored wool.

Question

When is a "Hoicha Kedusha" i.e. skipping the repetition of most of shemonah esrei permitted/not permitted etc.? It seems people call for it whenever in a rush.

Answer

The Shulchan Aruch only allows for this when there will be insufficient time to recite Mincha and Chazaras Hashatz prior to the end of the allotted time for Mincha (halachic nightfall), (SA OC 232:1) The Aruch Hashulchan mentions that this only would apply when davening in a shul/beis midrash where there will be ten men answering amein to Chazaras Hashatz. However, in a home minyan where there is just barely a minyan from the start, the chances of there being ten men listening to Chazaras Hashatz and answering appropriately is slim and it is therefore better to do a heiche kedusha than having Chazaras Hashatz without the appropriate number of men responding. (Aruch Hashulchan OC 232:7) Obviously, the Aruch Hashulchan prefers a situation where this would not be necessary and all ten would respond appropriately, but where one reasonably would assume this not to be the case the Aruch Hashulchan advocates for the heiche kedusha. Many yeshivos have also instituted heiche kedhusha because the roshei yeshiva felt that the extra time spent learning warranted such action. Obviously, one needs to be intellectually honest when these decisions.

Question

Is the following "kosher" per hilchos Choshen Mishpat?(1) I returned an item to a vendor, receiving a credit slip in its stead.(2) The vendor does not keep a record of the credit slip, so the onus is 100% on me to keep it "safe".(3) When the vendor has a sale, he/she will not accept credit slips as payment.I feel something is ineherently wrong with this picture, but would like to know if Halacha deals with it.Thank you.

Answer

Based on the information you provided, it seems that the vendor is acting in a halachically acceptable fashion.

Question

Is it permitted for men to cut their eyebrow hairs if they are unruly (as happens when men get older) or is it a gazarah of beged eshaw?

Answer

It is permissible for men to trim their eyebrows when they begin to look unkempt. This is something commonly done by many men, especially when they become older (as mentioned in the question).

Question

Is a Tallit/Tallit koton considered "beged ish," meaning forbidden/inappropriate for a woman to wear? (please list where I might read about this)

Answer

Targum Yonasan does mention this when referring to the prohibition of women wearing men's clothing. (Targum Yonasan Devarim 22:5) However, it seems that many halachic authorities dispute this interpretation with regard to halachic application. The Rema cites a completely different reason when mentioning why a women wearing tzitzis is problematic. He states that it is a very haughty display (because women have traditionally not worn tzitzis).(Rema OC 17:2) It seems clear that he does not agree that it is halachically considered to be "men's clothing" and therefore prohibited for women for that reason. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l felt that many Rishonim, including Tosefos, were in disagreement with the aforementioned Targum Yonasan. Rav Feinstein provides other concerns that need to be considered with regard to this topic, though. (See Igros Moshe OC vol. 4:49)

Question

Am i permitted to say lashon hara to my therapist? And, part of my therapy is to vent out loud to myself - as opposed to saying them to the person i may be venting about. May i say lashon hara when i'm speaking out loud to myself? (BTW, saying things out loud to myself as opposed to really telling someone how I feel, is great therapy; I jsut hope I'm not transgressing anything.

Answer

Both are permitted if done for purely therapeutic purposes. I encourage you to first review the chapter in Shmiras Halashon that deals with permissible ways to express lashon harah.

Question

What are the pre-requisites to heating up milchig food in a fleishig oven? Thank you.

Answer

It is preferable to either make sure the milchig food is covered, or to effectively kasher the oven prior to use. If you choose to cover the food and not kasher then nothing is required afterwards to return the oven to its original status. If not, then it should be kashered again to return it to its fleishig status. Kashering would entail making sure the oven is clean and running the self-clean cycle. In the event that you do not have a self-clean option then turn the oven to the hottest for approximately 45 minutes.

Question

Is it assur to wear certain black hats on shabbos due to a problem with making an ohel? It says in the shulchan aruch that a hat with a brim of a tefach is considered to be an ohel. Is there a universally accepted length for a tefach that we hold by? From the research I have done on how long a tefach is, it seems that there are three major opinions that we hold by. Rav Chaim Noeh holds that a teach is 3.15 in. Rav Moshe Feinstein holds that it is 3.54 in. and the Chazon Ish holds that it is 3.78 in.

Answer

The common styles of hat in today's world do not present any concerns with regard to Shabbos (regardless of color). The ones discussed by the Shulchan Aruch were concerns because of a specific style and purpose of the brim. Today's hats do not have those problems as the brims are relatively soft, sloped, and/or the brim is part of the style and not primarily for protection. (See Mishna Berurah 301:151-152) There is no real consensus in today's world with regard to the length of a tefach.

Question

I apologize for coming across as argumentative, but I hate to see someone not be able to use the machine when in fact there may be no issue.If you click the attachment, you will see the bes din's discussion regarding their inspection of the machines.Also, Flavia is very different than a Keurig, in a Flavia machine the liquid/coffee is dispensed directly from the pouch not coming into contact with any parts of the machine. The hot water enters each pouch through a seperate plastic nozzle on the top of each pouch.

Answer

I did not feel that you were being argumentative at all, so there is no need to apologize. In fact, in the earlier question I specifically said, "It is my understanding that the hot water comes into contact with parts of the machine that also were in direct contact with the flavored drinks," in order for someone who might have more knowledge about the inner workings of this machine to be able to provide better information. That being the case, I viewed the certificate and do not feel comfortable relying on it in a situation where the machine has previously been used for non-kosher drinks for the following reasons: 1) The certificate has expired by more than six months. 2) It does not state clearly whether it is providing certification even for machinery that has been used with non-kosher products, or if it is only stating which machines can effectively dispense the products that have kosher certification (something the company website did, as well). I certainly see some ambiguity in the language used that could be taken this way, and the method of dispensing (certainly in the way you have described it) may allow for such a leniency (i.e. it could be irui kli sheini or even nothing at all if the non-kosher product never comes into contact with the actual machine). Due to these concerns I would recommend contacting the Beth Din of London directly to clarify the current status of such machines.

Question

Hi can you take the mail on shabbos/yom tov, also what if you know that the thing you want wasnt printed on shabbos/yom tov (frum newspaper)

Answer

Assuming that the item is not muktzeh (i.e. business related) then you may. However, if it came from outside of the "techum" you may not use it. (See SA OC 515:5)

Question

The question had been asked regarding using a Flavia machine for kosher drinks if the machine had been used for other products. The Flavia website (http://ap.myflavia.com/customer-support/faqs/product/#Are_FLAVIA_products_Kosher_certified) has the certificate from the Bes din of London that states the machine would be able to be used. Can you clarify regarding whether you agree/disagree with their certification.Thank you

Answer

I think you may have sent the wrong link accidentally. The link you provided mentions that Flavia has many products which they claim are kosher certified and others that are not suitable for the kosher consumer. It also mentioned which machines are compatible with the kosher flavor varieties. It does not address the issue of whether one may use a machine that had previously been used with non-kosher flavors. I was addressing whether one may use such a machine and I stated that it would appear to me based on my current understanding of how the machine works that such a machine should not be used. I still am of that opinion, but I do not see how that is in conflict or agreement with the information you provided.

Question

Is it forbidden to buy or wear new clothes during sefira?

Answer

The minhag to which you are referring is really brought with regards to the three weeks. The cutomary prohibition is not because of the purchasing/wearing, rather, it is because of the bracha of shehechiyanu. If one is not going to recite the bracha then there is no need to be strict during this time. This custom came about because of the concern of stating our hapiness that Hashem sustained us for "this time." The three weeks are times of distress and tragedy and it is therefore inappropriate to recite this phrase during this time. Some have applied this reasoning to Sefirah. However, it should be noted that some, like the Gra, felt that even during the three weeks, which are more tragic than sefirah, this stringency was excessive. (See M"B 551:98)

Question

Why do we make such a big deal if, after shkiah, I say tonight's Omer is whatever it is? Why do we say "last night was x?" Why not, "tonight is whatever day it is?"

Answer

After shkiyah, sunset, one is able to fulfill his obligation of counting the Omer. As such, the custom has arisen to avoid mentioning that night's count as not to "count" prior to reciting the bracha. Therefore, many will refer to last night's count and not directly mention the current night's.

Question

2 Questions: 1) can i listen to music tonight, which is lag baomer, even if not at a public event 2) if i'm in an office/or just with other frum people who will still hold sefirah after lag baomer and i won't, can i play music in their presence?

Answer

1) It is best not to listen to music for personal use until after sunrise on Lag BaOmer. 2) Yes, you may. Although, if they feel uncomfortable because of it then it would be appropriate not to do so.

Question

Can you start listening to music the night before lag baomer or do you have to wait for the morning and do you have to stop before shkia?

Answer

It is best not to listen to music for personal use until after sunrise on Lag BaOmer. If one is "keeping the second half" then he must stop listening to music at sunset of Lag BaOmer.

Question

I am keeping the second half of sefira, so I was wondering if I would be able to get a haircut on lag b'omer? Thank you!

Answer

Yes you may.

Question

If I can go to a chasuna/listen to music on Lag BaOmer eve (this year, Wed night) why do i have to wait till the morning to shave?

Answer

There are different approaches as to when one is permitted to make chasunos and/or shave and if one feels the need to permit one prior to the daytime he should consult his Rav. The Mishna Berurah, for example, is actually more stringent with regards to weddings. He also clearly cites from earlier sources that permit one part and not the other in certain circumstances. (M"B 493:11) The custom is not shave or take a haircut (or listen to music) until the day and the two concepts (shaving and weddings) are not dependent on each other. Thus, if there is an important need to do one, and a rabbi permits it, that does not mean that he will permit the other because the need might not be as great (or some other reason). Just because part of the aveilus is not being conducted does not mean that it all falls away because the part that one is being lenient with might be due to specific circumstances with regards to that particular aspect. I assume that you meant listening to music at a wedding that you will be attending in which a Rav permitted the wedding. Listening to music is still prohibited in other circumstances until the daytime.

Question

Why is the melacha of matir and kosher related to trapping the chilazon? Didn't goyim - not Jews-perform these acts for us on the coastline while we were in the desert? Why aren't the tying and untying of the Mishkan curtains the av melachos?

Answer

Whether or not Jews trapped these items is not the issue at hand (although, it is possible they were the ones to do so ). Rather, to determine what is a melacha, Chazal looked objectively at the important actions required for the construction of the Mishkan. The tying of the curtain was not done with a permanent knot because it would later need to be undone when it was time to relocate. Therefore, that example was not used. (See Shabbos 74b)

Question

If i find a blood spot in an egg can i jut remove that spot and then use that egg?

Answer

One should not use an egg that had a blood spot in it.

Question

Now that Eretz Tisroel is a week ahead of us in terms of parshiyos, why do they wait until Behar/Bechukosai to make it up and not next week at Tazria/Metzorah?

Answer

Since the last day of Pesach was on Shabbos for those in Chutz La'Aretz whereas for those in Eretz Yisrael it was on Friday, those in Chutz La'Aretz are now "a Parsha behind" those in Eretz Yisrael. There are certain parshiyos that are customarily read at certain specific times of the year and in order to facilitate this we have "double parshiyos." I assume your question is why do those in Eretz Yisrael not split Tzria/Metzorah and we here double them up? That way, we would be in sync much sooner. Being "out of sync" is really not problematic. The only thing that needs adjustments are for the time specific parshiyos to be read at their respective times. There is a custom to have the "curses" of Bechukosai read within close proximity to Shavuos, but with at least one week break in between. Since no adjustment is necessary until that point, we leave things as they are until that point.

Question

Is one allowed to bring a gun in to a shul.I carry a firearm and was told by a friend that I am not allowed to daven while carrying it on my person in a shul. True?

Answer

In Sanhedrin, the Gemara teaches that when Pinchus went to kill Zimri that he did not have a proper weapon on him because he was in a Beis Hamidrash. From this passage it seems that it is considered inappropriate to carry a weapon in a Beis Hamidrash. There does not appear to be a prohibition to daven with a weapon that is holstered, so if not in a Beis Hamidrash there would not seem to be a problem (but it could not be carried in one's hands while reciting Shemonah Esrei). Of course, where there is danger to one's life then a weapon may be brought into a Beis Hamidrash.

Question

Based on the rav's answer to the person holding omer now, how do people who hold from now attend chasunas that occur before rosh chodesh? And, if the rav says one may not attend, isn't the baal simcha ovair on leefnay evare?

Answer

One is allowed to attend such a wedding because he is attending as a guest. He may not make a wedding if he is keeping the first part of the Omer, but as a guest there is not a problem to go and be misameach chassan v'kallah.

Question

With Yom Tov running into Shabbas this year I was wondering about the Halacha regarding bringing Shabbas in early and thus davening Maariv right after Mincha on Friday night instead of having to wait for the first day to be done.

Answer

Many shuls will wait even in these situations.

Question

If I'm holding Omer from now through Lag Baomer can i listen to music, get a haircut, etc until Rosh Chodesh

Answer

No you may not.

Question

What is the basis for physically separating those who do and do not wear tefilin on chol hamoaid.

Answer

In Yevamos the Gemara discusses that there is a prohibition to have two different approaches to performing mitzvos taking place in the same location. The general understanding is that this applies in situations where the actions of one of the sides is considered prohibited by the other. With tefillin on chol hamoed, each side maintains the other is doing something prohibited. Therefore, many communities keep those who wear and those that do not separated. The rules of this prohibition are somewhat complex and do not necessarily apply to every situation. Unfortunately, more explanation would be required than allowed by this format to adequately explain this prohibition, but I hope I have at least given enough of an overview to at least have a general understanding.

Question

When I bentch in a restaurant should i say the yehi ratzon for the baal habayis?

Answer

If you want the owner of the restaurant to receive a bracha.

Question

we mainly have 4 types of korbanos: olah, shelamim, chatas, asham. what is the deference between asham and chatas if they are both brought for sins that were performed b'shogeg?

Answer

Most chataos is brought for most sins that their transgression brings about a punishment of kareis. When an individual accidentally trangressed one of these sins he is required to offer a chatas. Its blood is sprinkled on the upper half of the mizbeach as it is applied to all four corners. An asham is brought for other purposes. It is often brought by one who is unsure if he needs to offer a chatas. Another example would be a metzorah who requires an asham. The asham's blood is sprinkled on the bottom half of the mizbeach as it is applied to two of the corners. So, although both sacrifices often come about because of sin, they are for different types of sins and the ceremonial procedures are quite different.

Question

Dear Rabbi, I once heard the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Weinberg ZT"L, say that, one needs to eat matzah shmurah to actually be mkayeim the mitzvah of achilas matzah, even on the last 5/6 days of Pesach. Perhaps related to this, I've recently heard of a minhag (halcha?) to only use shmurah even for kneidel on the 1st day(s). Do you know of any basis for this? Thank you.

Answer

The Vilna Gaon maintains that there is a mitzvah to eat shumrah for all of Pesach and many accomodate by using shmurah even for matzah meal. The halacha is that one need only use shmurah for the matzah for the first night (and second in chutz la'aretz) and even then only for the matzah for which he is eating to fulfill his obligation of matzah. Eating shmurah for the rest of Pesach is a chumrah, albeit a fairly common one.

Question

Dear Rabbi, If someone is "in remission", should his/her name still be included in Rfa'einu? If so, for how long? Thanks.

Answer

There is no defined amount of time one's name should be included. One may daven for anyone to get better and include this tefillah in his/her refaeinu of Shemonah Esrei. One may do so as long as he/she desires to for the individual for whom he/she is davening so that that person receives a full recovery.

Question

Does a person in their first year of aveilus say Yizkor?

Answer

The are varying customs and one should follow his/her family's custom with regard to Yizkor. Both saying and refraining from saying Yizkor are fine from a halachic perspective. This is a purely an issue of custom.

Question

It is my understanding that until a bichor (first born son) reaches Bar Mitzvah his father, if not a bechor, must fast for him on Erev Pesach, (or going to a siyum) why is this so? we don't seem to find this type of "coverage" by other commandments/customs.

Answer

Not only were the firstborns of Egypt punished, but their parents were punished by having to grieve for their children. Thus, the custom is that someone fast to display this concept. If the child is not old enough, then the father does.

Question

This might seem like a silly question but it is meant in the utmost of sincerity. After 120 years, do neshamos talk to each other, recognize each other,learn with reach other, etc? As we lose our gedolim, while wondering who will "take their place" - as if thats possible -I just wonder what their neshamos are doing.

Answer

It would seem that they actually do interact quite a lot. In fact, the Gemara has many stories that discuss how great Rabbanim learn together in the heavenly yeshiva.

Question

Good afternoon Rabbi. Question from the Yeshivisheh Mesechtos. If Reuvain slaps Shimon in the face he can be made to pay by Bais Din. What if Reuvain slapped Shimon but did so only after Shimon seriously offended him, for example, he cursed or ridiculed a loved one of his, a father or such. Would the provocation mitigate the collectable damages? May I trouble you to provide citations if available. I thank you in advance for your time and trouble. Bryon W. SZojchet, Esq.

Answer

A person is completely responsible for his actions, even monetarily, regardless if he was instigated. Therefore, even if he was cursed at, etc. he is still held fully responsible for his poor actions of striking his fellow man and he must pay the full amount of damages. (Bava Kama 26a)

Question

What is the basis for putting a few drops of water in a becher, and then spilling it out, before using it for kiddish/benching

Answer

One needs to rinse out the cup used for Kiddush (or other ceremonial purposes) in order to make sure that it is clean. Although this is not necessary when the cup is perfectly clean, there is a custom to do so anyway. (See SA OC 183:1 and MB there)

Question

Someone jumped the gun this morning in shul and began saying kaddish before the chazan had finished karbanos-they tried to stop him but he was having none of it. Is there anything wrong in him having said it and/or is there anything wrong in answering that kaddish

Answer

One may not act as the shaliach tzibbur (chazzan) against the wishes of the congregation. If one begins/continues to do so even though he was told not to, then the congregation is not ALLOWED to respond Amein or any other response to his prayers. One who says Kaddish is considered to be a shaliach tzibbur.

Question

If a daughter wants to say Kaddish for a deceased parent can that patur up the son from saying kaddish? Or, if he misses can hers be enough for that time that he misses

Answer

The "obligation" for a son to recite Kaddish for a deceased parent is an extremely old custom. Kaddish embodies the idea of sactifying Hashem's name in a public forum and the son's decision to do so displays that his parent raised him correctly. The merits the parent receives are considered to be very great from such an act. The custom has become that males say Kaddish and there are disputes as to whether a daughter's Kaddish is the same. Therefore, one should not have a daughter recite Kaddish instead of the son and it does not absolve him of his "responsibility." Rav Henkin famously ruled that daughters certainly may say Kaddish (but are not obligated to do so if they do not want) but may only do so if done in unison with a man.

Question

When answering birkas kohanim i hear people adding to kain yhe ratzon, the phrase of bizchus avraham avinu, yitzcha, yaakov, etc. What do the avos have to do with birkas kohanim?

Answer

Mitzvos divided into threes often times are seen as symbolic of the three Patriarchs (in somewhat of a mystical sense). Another example of this is the association of the three matzos on Pesach to these same Avos.

Question

If a person is not fasting on 1 of the fast days, should he still say Aneinu by mincha or not?

Answer

Although there is discussion whether he could say a very slightly altered version of Aneinu, the general practice is not to say it at all in these circumstances.

Question

Would the rabbi please settle a "discussion" we had at the Purim seudah about 2 Purim related items: 1)Can one be yotze by hearing the megillah over the phone? 2)Is it a hefsek to yell out the word BOO when hearing Haman's name; would i have to hear the megilla over?

Answer

1) It is highly questionable whether one can fulfill his obligation to hear the Megillah if he hears it via telephone. Therefore, one should only hear it in that fashion if no other options are available. 2) I do not believe that merely saying, "Boo," is a Hefsek as one could argue that, due to the custom to make noise at Haman's name, it is actually part of the Megillah process. Additionally, although it is technically a word, it is more of an onomatopoeia and just a derisive sound. Even if one were to make an actual Hefsek by talking during the Megillah, he would not need to hear the Megillah again so long as he heard all the words. Although one is prohibited from making a Hefsek, it, generally, will not require one to hear the Megillah again.

Question

When one wishes Mazel Tov or "you should have hatzlacha" or a plain "Hatzlacha" or any of these seemingly "brachos" does it mean anything more than the person just offering chizuk and good wishes? In other words, does anything happen Upstairs because of it?

Answer

These phrases are generally intended as Brachos or as prayer. As such, they can be effective.

Question

IIf an employer tells a Jewish secretary to order food for an office party that is treife, and there are other Jews working there who are not observant who will most likely eat the food, is she allowed to order it?

Answer

I assume that if the secretary does not order the food that someone else will order it instead. It would be appropriate for the secretary to tell his/her boss that (s)he keeps kosher and would appreciate if someone else could order the food due to religious concerns. If this will cause uneasiness or possible repercussions in his/her business setting then it is not necessary and (s)he can order the food.

Question

Is it possible for a person's mazal to be cursed? Everything I have ever tried to do, from the meaningless to the important has failed.

Answer

Yes, sort of, let me explain. When discussing mazel it is important to recognize that most Rishonim understand the Talmud to express this concept in many places. The notable exception to this is the opinion of the Rambam that mazal/nature does not work in this fashion. (See Rambam's letter to Marseilles) For halachic purposes we follow the overwhelming majority of Rishonim in this matter, as seen in Shulchan Aruch YD 179. (For more on this debate feel free to download a pamphlet I wrote about this at astrotorah.weeklyshtikle.com/2011/05/new-kuntras.html) Based on the varying mazalos and their influences, every person has certain things in which they will excel and others that they, based on mazal, will not. One need only to find those that are in the positive category for him. (See Ibn Ezra's Reishis Chachmah) Of course, even with the negative influences this is only if the person is living "a natural life." Chazal teach that the children of Yisrael have been granted the ability to rise above their mazal when they perform mitzvos and merit to live a supernatural existence. (See Shabbos 156a and Rashi's commentary there) One should not count on this happening as it is an outright miracle when this may occur, but the ability for it to occur to a Yisrael certainly does exist. (See Ramban's responsa in Kol Kisvei Ramban vol. 1 p. 378, also referenced in Beis Yosef YD 179) If you have more interest in mazalos and their significance in Torah please check out my new sefer at http://israelbookshoppublications.com/store/pc/The-Secrets-of-the-Stars-13p674.htm.

Question

Hi Rabbi,Can I make tea using water heated in a Flavia coffee machine where people sometimes make treif hot drinks?

Answer

It is my understanding that the hot water comes into contact with parts of the machine that also were in direct contact with the flavored drinks. If the machine is used for drinks that are not kosher then you would not be able to use it to heat water for tea.

Question

What does the prohibition not to take Hashem's name in vain entail? At times, I use expressions like "Oh my gosh," "Oh, dear G-d," and "Oh, Lord." I've never thought of them as being disrespectful or, worse, sinful. Please clarify.

Answer

One is not allowed to needlessly say any of Hashem's names. Many authorities maintain that expressions used for God in languages other name Hebrew are considered to be holy names and therefore they should not be stated in the fashions that you mentioned. I would state that that applies to God or Lord, but the word gosh is not a referene to God. In fact, it is used in order to have that same phrase have its effect without mentioning one of God's name, while still saying something that sounds similiar but is not actually a name of Hashem.

Question

When would it be permissible to eat something baked in a "fleishig" oven with something milchig? (ie: cookies with milk) If the oven wasn't used for fleishigs in 24 hrs, and if there is no mamashuss in the oven would it then be okay? Thank you.

Answer

Yes you may. (See SA YD 95:2 and Taz on 95:1 and also see SA YD 108:1)

Question

This may sound like a silly question, but is there a prohibition for one jew to curse another or for one jew to wish something bad to happen to another Jew?

Answer

One may not curse another Jew, certainly if it is done using Hashem's name. In fact, one is not allowed to wish the portions of the Torah called the "Tochacha" on another while reading that portion. The Tochacha is the rebuke that discusses the severe punishments that Hashem will bring when His nation strays.

Question

You replied below " This is even true if her second marriage was to the man from whom she was divorced."I thought a person can't remarry their spouse after they divorce?

Answer

Unless one is a kohein, he is allowed to marry a woman he has divorced provided that she has not remarried again. If she has remarried, even though her second husband has died or they divorced, he may not remarry her.

Question

If a person is in great suffering from an illness or an injury of some sort and it appears to be a permanent situation, may that person ask Hashem to end his life? Are there situations of unbearable suffering from a illness or injury, where a person is permitted to end their own life? Is one even permitted to ask these questions?

Answer

It is always permissible to ask such questions. End of life concerns are very real and important questions. There are many different types of situations and this subject is an extremely complex one. Therefore, it is important that one speak with a Rav in person to go through these matters. I would even encourage one to speak to his/her Rav when they are still in good health and then to discuss the matter with a lawyer so the proper paperwork can be drafted so the halachically appropriate decisions will be implemented.

Question

If a gerusha remarries and her husband dies can she marry a Kohain or does her having been divorced in her lifetime always prohibit her from marrying a Kohain?

Answer

A kohein may not marry a woman who has been divorced even if she had subsequently remarried and her second husband died. This is even true if her second marriage was to the man from whom she was divorced.

Question

Regarding the custom to read Parshas Haman on Yom Shlishi of Parshas Beshalach, is there a preference to saying the full Mikra twice then the Targum, or doing it as the Pasuk twice then the Targum, then next Pasuk twice then Targum etc?

Answer

It is my understanding that this is not an actual custom (minhag), rather, a segulah (meaning there is no requirement to do it, but many feel it can help with parnasah). It is generally done by doing all the pesukim twice and then the Targum.

Question

1-30-2012 Good afternoon Rabbi. I draw the Rabbi's attention to the Mishneh that deals with a case of an armed force surrounding a Jewish settlement. The hostiles demand that the settlement surrender one of the inhabitant's, any one inhabitant, or they will execute everyone in the settlement. It is my understanding that the Mishnah rules that the people in the settlement may not surrender anyone and that there is an obligation to sanctify Hashem's name and die, everyone, rather than surrender an innocent. My question: If the hostiles, in this situation, do enter the city to forcibly take a person, are the townsfolk obligated to put up a fight, or may they stand by silently. May I also ask you to provide a citation if you have one readily available. I apologize in advance for the unusual nature of this question and thank you for your patience and forebearance with me. Bryon W. Szojchet, Esq.

Answer

The topic you are mentioning is actually not found in Mishna, rather, in a Tosefta. The populace may not give over an inhabitant in order to save themselves. (Tosefta Terumos 7; also see Rambam Yesodei Hatorah 5:5) Once the invaders enter, there is no suspension of the regular rules of the necessity to preserve life. Those rules, however, do not require one to put himself into a possibly fatal situation.

Question

I say igeres haramban once a week and i'm wondering when it says Hashems name when it quotes from pesukim if i am supposed to say Hashem's real name.

Answer

If you will complete that Pasuk without interruption then you may (and I would recommend) say Hashem's name.

Question

On erev rosh chodesh at Mincha someone who was obviously in a rush and wanted to daven ahead began saying tachanun. Someone stopped him in the middle. Since he already started and has presumably already said Hashem's name should he be stopped or should he finish saying it?

Answer

He should finish that specific Pasuk and then stop.

Question

Someone once told me he made a neder every week that he would not eat sweets in that week so that he could stave off any weight gain. Using that logic, can I, in order to not get angry which I am trying to work on, make a neder that I will never become angry

Answer

I strongly recommend against it. Although one can make oaths and vows on a wide range of items. The severity of the transgression if not kept is quite significant. There is precedent in Shas for using oaths and vows to aid one in his spiritual growth, but as stated earlier I very very strongly recommend finding another incentive. I admire your desire and determination to perfecting your midos, that is something we should all learn from. Thank you.

Question

On the question I asked re the snow- your answer seems to imply that it is, in fact, mutar to clean the snow and ice. Is that correct?

Answer

This question was also asked last year. The answer is sort of. Salting and putting down sand is certainly permissible (and in this past ice storm really the only effective method). Shoveling is permissible but only under certain circumstances. Shoveling is labor intensive and therefore should not be done on Shabbos. If, however, a public area needs shoveling then there are ways to have the snow removed. In such a situation, the Rav of each individual congregation should decide what methods he is comfortable with.

Question

1-22-2012 Good morning Rabbi. Two part question. First, does the Mitzvh of Bikur Cholim apply only to serious physical ailments that come from disease or does it also apply to those who are recuperating from an injury. Also, does the Miztvah apply to those suffering from non-physical ailments such as mental or emotional disturbance. The second part of my questions is what is the unique quality of the Mitzva of Bikur Cholim that places it in the list that we recite each morning of Mitzvos that one benefits from their produce in this world and benefits from their principle in the next world? I thank you in advance for your reply. Bryon W. Szojchet, Esq.

Answer

The mitzvah applies to all types of sicknesses, physical or mental. The purest form of the mitzvah seems to be to take care of the needs of the patient and to pray for a recovery, not just a visit. As such, it is a tremendous act of kindness deserving of great reward.

Question

After visiting a few shuls today for various simchas I sense there is a difference of opinion on what to do with the ice/snow on Shabbos. Some shuls obviously understand the pikuach nefesh that ice presents and others don't seem to care at all. Can u weigh in on what the thinking might be to not protect the tzibbur from falling and becoming injured chas v'shalom?

Answer

I speculate that it was simply do to the fact that this ice storm caught most by surprise and they did not have the manpower to take care of it at last minute. I am sure that the shuls would be very grateful if you would volunteer your services in situations like these.

Question

Is a Jew allowed to warn other members of a Jewish Community about another Jew who runs a scam like Medoff taking money from Jews?

Answer

If one is aware that another individual is scamming others then he is obligated to inform the public so they not be taken advantage of. In such situations there are several conditions that need to be met: 1) The one warning the public must have conclusive information that the suspected scammer is in fact participating in this behavior. Hearsay is not good enough. 2) The one warning must have analyzed the situation thoroughly to make sure that he is not misunderstanding the circumstances. 3) The suspect must be forewarned in an appropriate fashion since this may stop him from participating in such actions. If the one warning knows that such rebuke will not be adhered to then he may proceed without this condition providing he makes his warning in front of at least three people. 4) The severity of the action is not to be exaggerated, even in the slightest. 5) When making the warning the intent must be solely for the purpose of others not to be harmed and there can be no intent to receive even a small iota of pleasure. 6) If it is possible to protect the community in another fashion then informing them is not permissible. 7) The suspect will not incur a loss greater than that which he would have received in a Jewish court. (Shmiras Halashon 10 especially 10:2)

Question

Who decides/d which maaseh avos are simanim l'banim? For example, should we do as Yaakov did on his way to Lavan's house and say if Hashem takes care of me etc. then I will take him to me as a God? etc.

Answer

Maaseh Avos, etc. does not mean that we are to emulate our Patriarchs, of course we should strive to emulate their noble acts and goals, that is just not what this line means. Rather, it means that one can see how the patterns hat have happened to the Jews throughout history can be seen in the storyline of the sections of the Torah that deals with the Patriarchs.

Question

Which gets priority as far as spending money on nice food...Guests during the week, so one has better hachnosas orchim (like Avraham Avinu) or Shabbos without guests. (having the guests on shabbos would be best i'm sure, but if that is not an option)?

Answer

When spending for extras for either having guests stay at your home or Shabbos, I would give priority to whichever is going to happen sooner.

Question

There are a number of places in tefillah where we ask for parnassah "not by the hands of Basar Vadam...man" considering that most people are either employed by another person, inherit money from a person, or depend on people to use their business...unless the money falls from the sky/is found spontaneously...isn't man ALWAYS involved...as a conduit of God? Similarly, isn't it always REALLY from God, and man is merely the conduit?

Answer

Being dependent on another can often cause one to lose sight of the dependency on God. We are asking not to have that feeling of being dependent on man. Practically this is easiest to feel when self employed, or in a position where you feel more needed by your employer than he is necessary to you (i.e. your skills are in such demand that you can find work elsewhere easily and he will not be able to replace you easily.) Therefore, we ask not to be dependent on man.

Question

If harchakos were established to prevent the transgression of the issur d'oraisa, why does it make sense to force a couple to keep harchakos during labor and birth when obviously there is no way the issur d'oraisa can be transgressed?

Answer

Firstly, once harchakos were established they were established across the board even if the specific circumstance would not be susceptible to a biblical prohibition. Secondly, touching a member of the opposite gender in an affectionate way, such as a hug or kiss, is a biblical prohibition, as well.

Question

Does halacha permit a child to take a parent to Beis Din?

Answer

Yes it does, but the child must still be respectful. (See SA YD 240:8)

Question

After attending a livaya the other day I realize I never washed my hands afterwards. Is it such a big deal or is it only a minhag?

Answer

Washing one's hands is in order to remove a type of impurity that comes onto the hands at these times. It is not a rabbinic obligation, but is the widespread custom of Klal Yisrael.

Question

Regarding the shave question, it is in fact a parent that is being mourned, however the person who is male is the surviving husband. Im not sure these days if anyone would "rebuke" someone for being unkempt, though. So what is the bottom line, can he shave tomorrow or not?

Answer

Since the person for whom it is pertinent is a spouse and not a child then it is ok to shave or take a haircut. When I mentioned rebuke I meant that his friends will mention strongly that he is letting himself look unkempt and it is not appropriate. I think even today people do comment in situations like that.

Question

If day #30 of a person's aveilus falls on a Friday, may he shave or get a haircut for Shabbos or should he wait until Sunday?

Answer

Even if day thirty did not fall on a Friday one would be able to take a haircut or shave because the rule is that once a portion of day thirty is observed it is as if the entire day has been observed. Therefore, on day thirty one may shave or take a haircut after sunrise. (S.A. Y.D. 395:1; also see Shach there) It is important to mention that if one is mourning a parent then a haircut may not be taken after 30 days, but one need to wait until he is unkempt to the point that his friends rebuke him for it. (S.A. Y.D. 390:4)

Question

Is one allowed to wear a watch on Shabbos that if you press one of the side buttons a blue backlight lights up the whole watch?

Answer

Yes you may, but you may not press the buttons.

Question

A neighbor recently installed one of those automated lights that goes on when u walk in front of it. To walk a different way would take me much koger...how do we handle these lights on Shabbos?

Answer

Most motion sensor photocell lights are able to be adjusted. I would recommend politely asking the neighbor to reduce the range.

Question

During the first 11 months following a petirah, if there is a son and daughter, but the son does not wish to say kaddish 3 times a day, can the daughter say it in his place? Should she say it or is it optional? What about the custom some have of paying a rabbi to say it?

Answer

Rav Henkin believed that a woman may recite Kaddish so long as a man is also saying Kaddish. It would be optional. The practice of paying someone is quite old and much more prevalent.

Question

Hi Rabbi,Hoping you can help....I used a dairy sponge to clean a meat pot...what do I do now?

Answer

Chances are everything is fine, but more information is necessary to determine the Halacha. When was the last time the utensils were used for actual dairy or meat? Was the water hot? Was soap involved? Feel free to contact me to address this properly.

Question

Who made Tehilim the "go-to" tefilah (is it a tefilah?) for davening when people are sick or there is trouble in the world?

Answer

Tehillim's use as prayer in difficult times is quite ancient. A Sefer called Shimushei Tehillim dates back to the times of the Geonim. In it, each chapter of Tehillim is discussed and we are taught which difficulty that chapter should be used for. The Rambam even references Tehillim when discussing using scripture as prayer (albeit not necessarily in a positive way). (see hilchos akum ch. 11)

Question

Hello Rabbi, I have a unique question. Rabbi Moshe Tzvi of Savran was a famous tzaddik, talmid chochom, and founder of the Savran hasidic dynasty. Does Savranner hasidus exist today? Where in the U.S. (what city in N.Y. or N.J. etc.) and Israel are they located? & who is the current Savranner Rebbe(s)? Is there any other unique information regarding this hasidic group and their practices?

Answer

My understanding is that the current Rebbe of Savran is Rav Yissachar Dov Hager of Har Nof Yerushalayim. I am unaware of areas that are densely populated with Chasidim of this group, nor of any major distinguishing features of this particular branch of Chasidism.

Question

12-2-2011 Good evening Rabbi. I am under the impression that it is 'asur' to Daven in a conservative or reform minyan. This is aside from the 'eiruv' (mixed seating) issue. What is the reason this is prohibited even if only men are present and what is the citation for this ruling? I thank you in advance. Bryon W. Szojchet, Esq.

Answer

Besides the issues you raised, there are other issues. Reform and Conservative Judaisms broke off from the traditional Orthodox and changed many of the practices and services. This historical deviation from the traditional Orthodox approach is, by definition, a start of a new way to serve Hashem, and it is one that was/is not recognized by the original rabbinic approach. As such, the services are not recognized by the traditional authorities (and those that continue to maintain those traditional approaches). There is a requirement for one to distance himself from foreign services of Hashem and therefore the traditional authorities ruled that one is required to distance himself from these styles of services. (Igros Moshe O.C. vol. 4 91:6)

Question

What is the extent of Kibbud Av vAim toward parents and grandparents who are machalilei shabbos. I also notice on very frum wedding invitations they don't say the mothers name on Reb So and So 'v'rayaso', they say the kallahs name however, what's the deal Rabbi, what is the deal!

Answer

In today's day and age the fact that one's parents are mechalel Shabbos generally makes no difference on the extent of Kibbud Av VeAim. With regards to the sensitivities you mentioned that are taken in invitations, you will have to ask the baalei simcha.

Question

May an avel attend a wedding after shloshim but before a year is over? Also, if there is nobody to say Yizkor for a grandparent, may a grandchild do so and light the yahrtzeit candle as well, if that grandchild is also saying kaddish/Yizkor for a parent?

Answer

In general, one in availus for a parent should not attend a wedding even though it is after shloshim. If due to the nature of the relationship of those getting married this is very difficult, then one should consult his rav for guidance. A grandchild who has lost a parent can say Kaddish and Yizkor for a grandparent. A grandchild who has both parents generally does not but if there is a pressing need should speak to a Rav for guidance as there may be leniencies in certin situations.

Question

Is it permitted for a nursing mother to eat cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon? What about cucumbers? I know that the Gemara talks about "melon", I just wasn't sure if that meant any melon nowadays. Thank you.

Answer

It is permitted for a nursing mother to eat all of those items. Rashi cites the source to which you are referring in Beha'alosecha. There, it is implicit that the manna could not taste like some of the items mentioned because those tastes are not great for babies who are nursing. There is no prohibition to eat those things, though.

Question

Rabbi: I'm curious about the proper etiquettin situations where divrei Torah or hespedim are given over a microphone and are largely unintelligible. In the past year I have attended graduations and funerals where the speaker simply could not be understood over the mic, due to a too close proximity to the microphone (so he sounds as if he's spitting), feedback (eeeeeeeeeee!), or poor adjustment of the audio equipment. It hardly seems kovodik for the speakers to give over Torah in a way that makes it inaccessible. BTW, I'm a woman who possesses a great deal of audio-visual tech experience, and this further complicates the issue. Not a lot of men are open to the idea of a woman stepping up during a shiur (or hespid, or whatever) and making appropriate adjustments. Thank you in advance. Tizku l'mitzvos for providing this service to the community.

Answer

I personally suggest leaving the audio adjustments to those who are running the shiur/service. (This is my opinion with regards to both men and women.) If that is you, then by all means go up and make the adjustments, if not then sit politely and pretend not to notice. If the speaker notices and requests for help then it would be polite to help the speaker. The same is true if those in charge are attempting to resolve the problem and request help.

Question

May I contribute "my share" of money to finance our office party if none of the food will be kosher, and there's at least one colleague who's Jewish but not observant? Thanks. DW

Answer

I assume that if you do not that the party will go on without your participation. Yes you may contribute.

Question

What are the applicable halachos regarding an avel during Chanukah? Also, is it permitted to give a Chanukah gift to an avel?

Answer

The regular halachos of aveilus apply during Channukah, so an aveil is unable to act as the Chazzan. One should not give a Chanukkah present to an aveil.

Question

Since I must leave shacharis early may i say the short tachanun on Mon/Thurs or should i skip it because I'm not saying the long tachanun?

Answer

While the best scenario would be to say the whole thing, if not possible say the short part. You should try and recite the long version later in the day.

Question

Dear Rabbi Storch, If I've arranged in advance with a snow-removal company to plow my walks and driveway whenever needed, for a set price per event, may the company "do their thing" on Shabbos as well? Thank you. DW

Answer

Although you are not asking them to remove the snow with loud blowers, etc., presumably they will do so. The noise and commotion created is considered by many display a non-Shabbosdikke environment. As such, unless it is absolutely necessary, I would recommend against it.

Question

Is it true that there is no 18 minutes with Yom Tov? And if you have a pre-existing fire, can you still light after the time? Also, for shabbos, is it better to light on time and make a declaration regarding the 18 minutes, or is it better to complete whatever task needs doing and then light within the 18 minutes?

Answer

There are two matters that are generally accomplished with lighting candles for Shabbos and Yom Tov. The first is that one is preparing for Shabbos/Yom Tov by having light provided by candles for the evening. The second is that by lighting the candles one is accepting the sanctity of the day. It is important to note that the day needs to be sanctified with a noticeable amount of time prior to sunset. On Yom Tov, one is allowed to light candles from an existing flame for light even after sunset, but if one does so (s)he will lose out on accepting the sanctity of the day early and preparing in advance for the day. The custom in many communities is the accept/light candles 18 minutes prior to sunset to accomplish these goals. If one is running late it would be better to light closer to sunset, so long as there is a noticeable amount of time before sunset, and not light with the intent not to accept Shabbos. A couple minutes before sunset is certainly sufficient. (See Ramban, Torah Ha'adam pp. 241-244, also see S.A. O.C. 261 and 263)

Question

I've always been confused by 'safaik brachas l'hakail". Does it mean that i don't have to worry about saying a bracha if i'm not sure whether or not I did make one or that it's so important that there is no issue to say what may end up being an extra bracha.

Answer

It is somewhat of a combination of the two. Most brachos are only rabbinic in nature. As such, when one is in doubt whether he said one he need not repeat because of the general rule that when in doubt with a rabbinic ordinance one may be lenient. In this scenario, since there is a prohibition to recite an unnecessary bracha one is not allowed to recite it once the above rule has been employed because it has now become an unnecessary bracha. It is important to note that there are some biblical brachos and with those one must recite them when in doubt because there the rule is when in doubt with a biblical commandment one must take a stringent approach. When reciting them because of doubt, they are not unnecessary anymore since the ruling that they need to be said in doubt makes them necessary. Bentching and Birkas Hatorah may sometimes fall in this category.

Question

if your aunt who is married to a non jew every year comes up with their kids from SC for thanksgiving, is it better to have it on thanksgiving and go all out or to do it as a shabbos meal and call it doing a shabbos meal for thanskgiving and not a thanksgiving meal- how does family pressure come into play

Answer

I am not sure what the root of your question is. You mention that every year you have Thanksgiving dinner with these people so the issue does not seem to be whether or not Thanksgiving meals or permissible (see last year's question for more about that topic). If your question is whether you can invite people over for Shabbos if you know they will drive on Shabbos then I would tell you to speak to your personal Rav. There is a wide range of thought on this topic from permitting it so long as the guests have the option to stay throughout the entire Shabbos to not allowing it. If neither of these was your question then I suggest that you do whatever the family would enjoy more.

Question

when chosing a rav- should a person go with a big talmid chochom with a similar background and understanding of you and your family or a rav who you have more a personal connection with and is more excessible

Answer

It is of extreme importance that one feel that his Rav understands him and can relate to him. Of course, a prequisite for any possible Rav is that he be capable and competent, when narrowing down the list of such individuals, a person should look for someone who he can relate to and who he feels understands him extremely well. With that being said, if the Rav is inaccessible then "having him as your Rav" is useless since practically you are unable to get in touch with him. The biggest question that you need to ask yourself is how "inaccessible" is this Rav and how much will that cause problems. If it will make things slightly more difficult because you will just have to wait a little longer to discuss matters with him then I would say to be patient because the wait is worth it. If, on the other hand, it is a major Issue and you will not be able to have time sensitive questions answered and the wait for other matters is too burdensome then that individual is clearly not a practical choice of a Rav. What good is "having a Rav" if practically you have nothing to do with him and he is not able to perform his rabbinic tasks? If this is the case and no other Rav that understands you is available in your situation then you may want to consider the other competent Rav until you find a more viable candidate.

Question

I often have someone who wants a favor or to come for shabbos and i don't feel i can for reasons that might make them uncomfortable or offended, ex. if it's a friend that's of the same age as my wife or myself, or if the person's personality get's on my nerves over an entire shabbos etc., i often tell them a story with a full explanation of why i'd like to have them over but ... my wife say's it's wrong to make up lies and best to just say 'this week won't work out' i feel like often we initiated the invitation and they deserve a reason- who is right?

Answer

My recommendation in your situation is to listen to your wife.

Question

My dear Rabbi Storch, I've noticed lately that people are becoming very serious about their reciting Modim d'Rabbonon, so that, collectively at least, the khillah drowns-out the chazzan's Modim. (Similarly, especially in Baltimore, the khillah often drowns-out the chazzan's brachah before kriash shma', even though a significant part of the world still believes it to be correct to say "Omein".) I can't imagine that this is a correct practice. Please comment. And, if you could, a few words about the entire practice of davening ANYTHING during chazzoras haShatz. Thanks much.

Answer

Modim D'Rabbanan is recited by the congregation when the Chazzan begins his recitation of Modim. The entire congregation does not need to listen or even hear the Chazzan and the congregation is permitted to recite Modim without worrying whether or not they will hear him. The Chazzan does not have to raise his voice either because it is not necessary for the entire congregation to hear him at this point. It should be noted, however, that there is a requirement that ten men hear the Chazzan, but generally those sitting/standing nearby are capable of this. (See Mishna Berurah 124:41 and 127:3) During the rest of the Chazzan's repetition of Shemonah Esrei, the congregation should be listening to the Chazzan and not doing other things. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 124:4,7) With regards to Ahava Rabbah/Ahavas Olam, Sefardim do not respond Amein to this blessing and the Rema mentions that the custom in Ashkenaz is that they do. While the Rema's ruling is considered to be binding on the Ashkenazic communities in this matter, later authorities advocated finishing one's personal Ahava Rabbah with the Chazzan in order that no Amein need to be recited. Many people follow this last approach. Those who continue to follow the custom of the Rema do not need to worry about losing an Amein if the masses are saying their bracha audibly because he can respond Amein to this communal bracha. There is no specific requirement to say Amein to the Chazzan and the congregations bracha requires an Amein to it just like the Chazn's does. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 59:4, Rema O.C. 61:3, and Mishna Berurah 59:25)

Question

Who was Yosef Della Reina, he was mentioned in book i read and i tried to research him but i couldn't get anything normal or reliable, what are the real sources in hebrew literature of him and what is the story-thank you

Answer

The reason you probably cannot get much reliable information is because many consider him and his story to be fiction and nothing more than a legend. The story has been printed many times in many languages and there are variations between different editions. Te basic storyline is that he lived in the fifteenth century and was a Kabbalist. He set out on a noble task to defeat the Yetzer Harah and employed several of his students to help him. By reciting and performing various kabbalistic rites he conversed with angels and was told of the only method for subduing and killing the Yetzer Harah. The angels repeatedly told him that he would not be successful, but Rav Yosef zealously pursued his goal. The story ends tragically with Rav Yosef accidentally worshipping the Yetzer Harah by offering him incense and several of his students pershing.

Question

My wife decided she no longer wishes to wait 6 hours to eat dairy after eating meat. Shalom bayis comes in to play. Is it such a big deal? I mean, others wait 3 hours. Thank you

Answer

In certain circumstances the change of one's minhag is warranted while in others it is not permitted. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered. In your case, one of the obvious factors that would need to be addressed is finding exactly what Shalom Bayis issues that would arise and how much they would affect the family. It sounds to me, though, that your wife is not asking this question and that you are the one who is taking issue with it and that that is, perhaps, the Shalom Bayis issue. With the limited information that I have it appears that you are disturbed that she no longer wants to keep a minhag that you feel is imperative for her to keep. If this is the case then I would have to recommend that you take a step back and try to take yourself out of this situation. You are her husband and not her Mashgiach, she is capable of making her own decisions and this one does not affect you. She is not forcing you to wait less than six hours. Whether her decision is correct or not, it is more damaging for you to force things upon her and this will only cause greater strife. If your concern is the children being confused then you should address that with her in a way that you can talk and reach an agreement that the two of you will respect. It is always important that one see his or her spouse as an equal and not to try and force things on the other. This is something that can take a lot of work, but is so important for a marriage to operate appropriately. I have a feeling that she has no intention of asking a Rav; if she did she would have prior to changing. Interfering will only cause a Shalom Bayis situation and my recommendation would be to stay out of this decision of hers. Of course if I am wrong in my assessment (I have been given little to no information) and she has asked you to ask me on her behalf, then I would recommend she speak in person to a Rav.

Question

Can a pot that is used to make hard boiled eggs be used for other cooking?

Answer

Yes, one may use it for cooking other items.

Question

Does an article of clothing become hefker after being left in a lost and found after many months?

Answer

A lot depends on the policies of the school/institution. If you have a concern I would suggest speaking with an administrator to find out how the institution structured its policies to find out.

Question

11-2-2011 Good morning, Rabbi. It is well known that the Torah forbids idol worship. It is also well known that there is discussion about whether or not Islam or Christianity fall into the legal parameters of idol worship. My question is if there is a specific prohibition against being an imposter or fraud, specifically, to falsely pose as being authentic Torah. What is the name of this Issur, its citation and finally, would not Islam and Christianity fall within this as imposters seeking to replace authentic Torah. Tangentially, would the old style conservative judaisim school fall into that category. I thank you in advance for your reply and consideration of this unusual question. Sincerely and respectfully, Bryon Szojchet

Answer

The Maharshal in his commentary to Bava Kama deduces that there is a prohibition for a Jew to misrepresent the Torah. This prohibition had nothing to do with idol worship and is solely connected to the preservation of the Torah throughout the generations. Some have questioned whether this opinion was accepted by other authorities as it is common to find texts that were self censored and contain ideas that are not authentic due to threats of persecution. Either way, the prohibition is not binding on non-Jews

Question

Can one do borer on yom tov, and can one cut vegetables very small on yom tov?

Answer

One may do borer (separating items) on Yom Tov; however, it should not be done in a vessel normally used for amounts of food to be used for more than one day. Also, unlike on Shabbos, one should remove the easiest items from the mix, as opposed to the desired items. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 510:2) One may chop vegetables finely (for that day's use) with a regular kitchen knife on Yom Tov. (Mishna Berurah 504:19)

Question

I plan on traveling to Israel soon and would like to know what i may/may not do re davening on the plane now that all the security is in place. The last time I went we davened in the galley with a minyan but from what I hear that has changed.

Answer

Ask the flight attendants what they will permit. If they permit a minyan and you are able to concentrate in such a setting then daven there (assuming you will not be making a chillul Hashem by disturbing nearby sleeping passengers). If not, then you should daven in your seat if you will be unable (due to time constraints) after the plane lands.

Question

If I understand correctly, the first three brochos in benching were established over the time. from yehoshua to king david; and they all deoraysa. does that mean until king david, people were not yotze benching mideoraysa? Please clarify.

Answer

It does not seem that that is the case. Rather, it would appear that there was no obligation to express the elements from the brachos that were authored post-Moshe. The elements integral to those latter two brachos are the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael and the building of the Beis HaMikdash. Until they entered Eretz Yisrael and then built the Beis HaMikdash they did not have the biblical obligation to thank Hashem for these things, however, once they did accomplish these things they did have a biblical responsibility.

Question

what was Kayin's sin(before he killed his brother) that he got such strong rebuke from G-D? ( im teitiv se'es...) He just brought a sacrifice which wasn't the best quality. I even heard that kayin initiated to bring the korban before Hevel

Answer

It would be comparable to bringing one's wife a lousy and very cheap anniversary present. Such an act displays that the value of the relationship to the gift giver is completely insignificant and that he only brings the present because he feels he must. Kayin's sin was pretty serious.

Question

Since the pasuk seems to indicate that my wife and are one unit, is it permissible for me to go in to her pocketbook and take something, ie money, without telling her?

Answer

I am not sure which Pasuk states the concept to which you are referring. The Pasuk that mentions that a man clings to his wife and they become one is often interpreted to mean that the union of the two come together as one unit through the child produced by them. Either way, no you may not take her possessions without her knowledge and doing so is tantamount to stealing. While there certainly is a concept of marital property which you would have the ability to take, anything that is independently owned by her is her personal possessions and off limits to you without prior consent. The same is true of your property with regards to her.

Question

So, I noticed that hadasim are higher than the aravos as they should be. What's confusing to me is why, in most of the situations I've experienced, they are only a few centimeters higher. I would think that if they are to be higher it should be noticeable but in so many cases as u look across the shul many look even. Is there a significance in how much higher?

Answer

Many people have the custom to arrange their hadassim to be higher than the aravos when they are performing the mitzvah. It is not a halachic requirement and there is no set amount of how much higher they should be arranged.

Question

when the gemara says a malach learns torah with the fetus, does this apply to girls too?

Answer

The Gemara does not differentiate so it would seem that it is for both boys and girls.

Question

What does Selah mean, as in Amein Selah?

Answer

forever.

Question

Can a married woman dye her hair on chol hamoed?

Answer

Hair yes, shaitel no. There is no difference whether she is married or not.

Question

I've been wondering for some time when a word ends with a Mapik "Hay" and there is a Patach under it, is it pronounced HA or AH? Or are they both correct (or both incorrect)?

Answer

AH. For example, the word is gavoah and not gavoha. Another example, and perhaps one that is more commonly mispronounced is Eloah (Hashem's name) which many accidentally pronounce as Eloha (this word is found in Hallel).

Question

October 12th, 2011 Good morning, Rabbi. I once learned that in the course of building a home or a room, as soon as you designate a space or a room to be the bathroom, even before it is ever used or before the vessels are installed, just the designation of being the bathroom makes that place 'Tuma' and one should not make 'Brachos' or do anything of 'Kedusha' in it. But I cannot find the citation for this in 'Mishneh Beuruah' or 'Poskim'. Where is the citation for this? I thank you in advance for your reply. Bryon W. Szojchet

Answer

See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 83:2 and the Mishna Berurah's elucidation there.

Question

is it mutar to use "sticky notes" on shabbos(e.g to mark saifer) with the intention of not removing them in a near future? What about detaching them from the stack?

Answer

You should refrain from both.

Question

Because the things that hold my lulav together seem to fall apart easily can I tie my lulav with anything I have lying around? Can I use scotch tape?

Answer

You may tie your 4 minim with whatever material you desire. Since the purpose of tying is to beautify the mitzvah there is no problem. (Sukkah 37a)

Question

Is it muttar to blow bubbles on shabbos? (the fun kind) Why or why not?

Answer

Some authorities maintain that blowing such bubbles constitutes the action of Boneh, constructing. As such, it is advisable not to blow such bubbles on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Question

Am I allowed to enter the rest room while wearing my kittle?

Answer

Because a kittel is worn specifically for religious observances, it is like a talis and should not be taken into a restroom.

Question

We have a maid that comes on Fridays. We usually leave money for her on the table. Is it permissible to have her come on Friday that is Yom Tov and leave the money out before Yom Tov starts?

Answer

It is only permissible if she is limited to performing tasks that you would be permitted to do.

Question

Can you dispose any type of shemos just by double warping it (two plastic bags)?

Answer

No you may not.

Question

why is a person allowed to try on new suits before checking them for shaatnez?

Answer

The Torah only prohibited the wearing of shaatnez (a mixture of wool and linen) if the garment is being worn for the regular purposes that clothing are worn (i.e. warmth). Therefore, A merchant can wear an item to show the buyer how it looks even if he knows there is shaatnez in the garment. Similarly, one may try something on to see how it looks prior to checking it for shaatnez. (See Yevamos 4b)

Question

Does a person davening by himself say Avinu Malkeinu during the 10 days?

Answer

If he or she wants.

Question

May I be mochel someone not in front of him. In other words, can I say or have in mind that I am mochel him/her? This would make a very sticky issue a lot easier.

Answer

Yes, you may be Mochel (forgive) someone even if they are not present.

Question

by cooking on thursday night, i meant cooking after zman melacha which halachacly considered Friday.

Answer

Then that would be fine.

Question

Since we are in the parsha of saying Shehechiyanu, does one say it on new clothes only, or on clothing that is new to them, ie does one say it on a used item that they have never worn themselves?

Answer

A person should make a shehechiyanu on any purchase of an item that is not common for him to buy. This is only for items that one is happy to buy. It is preferably done at the time of purchase, but if one did not then he may still recite the blessing upon using the item for the first time. It is recited so long as the item is new to the owner even if it was already used by a previous owner.

Question

can i start cooking on Thursday night for shabbos (with eruv)?

Answer

When Yom Tov immediately precedes Shabbos one makes an Eruv Tavshilin and this allows him to cook on Yom Tov for the purposes of Shabbos. This Eruv Tavshilin only permits one to cook on Friday for Shabbos, so since this year Rosh Hashana begins on a Thursday (Wednesday night) one is only permitted to cook for Shabbos on the second day of Rosh Hashana. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 527:13)

Question

How do we reconcile " Lo Bashamayim He" with "Teiko - Tishbi yetaretz Koushiyos ..."

Answer

Sometimes when the Gemara leaves a halachic question without resolution it states, "Teiko." Literally this word means, "Leave it," meaning that this matter is left unresolved. However, many state that the letters form an acronym that refers to the fact the Eliyahu Hanavi will resolve the matter when he returns. Various approaches reconcile this concept with the idea that supernatural events cannot determine halacha. Some state that Eliyahu will return in full human form. In that form he is a human like the rest of us and he will use wisdom and tradition to resolve the matter as opposed to prophecy. A small proof to this approach is that we find many sages interacted with Eliyahu butnever asked him to resolve these matters. The reason might be that they did not interact with him while he was in a physical body. Another approach is that he will not determine it based on prophecy but he will be considered like a heavenly voice which, according to some, may be considered for halacha so long as it is taken as advice and that the halacha is determined based on the humans that consider the new information. As such, the humans could choose not to listen to him (similar to how many view the Teshuvos Min Hashamayim). I have written extensively about this in my Sefer Tiferes Aryeh Shas in the section on Lo Bashamayim if you would like to read some more about this.

Question

Why don't we bentch Rosh Chodesh for the month of Tishrei?

Answer

For many reasons the recognition of 1 Tishrei as Rosh Chodesh is hidden and the focus is on the fact that it is Rosh Hashana instead. According to many, this is even expressed in the pasuk in Tehillim (81) that states that we are to sound the shofar on this holiday. (See Tosefos R"H 8b) Our practice of not bentching Rosh Chodesh Tisheri reflects this concept. Rosh Chodesh is being "put to the side" as we focus on Rosh Hashana instead.

Question

I believe u said previously that we don't make a bracha when we see "heat lightning". Why not?

Answer

The Mishna/Gemara mentions many items which generally create an feeling of awe of the creation of Hashem. Due to this feeling, Chazal formulated brachos to be said on these items in order to express this admiration of Hashem. One of these items is lightning, but upon a close analysis of the passage it is clear that the awe comes from lightning which is followed by thunder. Lightning that does not have thunder with it is not as impressive. Thus, no bracha is to be said on "heat lightning." (See Mishna Berurah 227:3)

Question

Is it permissable to use maaser to pay for shul membership dues?

Answer

A similar question was recently asked with regards to seats for Yomim Noraim. I am copying the text of that answer as it is based on the same principle. "Tzedakah from a technical standpoint is only when the money/food/clothing is benefitting the poor. Although this is the case, people generally refer to any contributions that go to organizations that perform mitzvos as tzedakah. There are varying opinions as to what can be deducted from Maaser, however, many rabbanim maintain that money that is voluntarily used for mitzvos can be deducted. The question then arises, is shul membership/seats for Yomim Noraim considered voluntary or does the fact that the benefactor is "receiving" a service for the money nullify its status as a contribution? Much of this depends on the shul's policies as to whether or not people will be turned away if they do not pay and if there are other shuls where this person would be able to daven at for free/for a lower fee. Since there usually are other places where one can daven for free, or at a lower rate, all or some of the money (the difference) may be deducted from maaser."

Question

Does a divorced woman have to cover her hair? If yes, why.

Answer

The Beis Shmuel, one of the foremost rabbinic authorities whose commentary glosses Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer, maintains that she must. (Beis Shmuel 21:5) the matter of hair covering is one that is a little difficult to understand. For example, a single girl may keep her hair uncovered, as seen in that same Beis Shmuel, yet a married one may not. This is a fascinating point considering that nothing with regards to the look of her hair changed when she got married. Once she began covering it the Beis Shmuel maintains that she may not stop, even though she has now become single. If this matter causes significant hardship for someone then I would encourage her to speak to her personal Rav to discuss this matter at greater length.

Question

can a kohane visit ground zero?

Answer

A kohain is not permitted to touch human remains whether they be from a Jew or not. Similarly, a kohain is prohibited from passing over a place where human remains of a Jew has been buried, nor should he pass over a grave of a non-Jew. (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 372:2) (The amount of human remains in one place to be considered a grave is discussed in the Mishnayos.) It is my understanding that the site of ground zero has been cleared fairly well, however, I do not know with certainty how the various agencies performed this clearing, nor do I know with certainty as to what standards. Therefore, I consulted some other local rabbanim and they too were aware of the halachic issues, but were unfamiliar with the practical application in this case. Therefore, I would recommend any kohain to consult a reputable Rav in the New York area who would have better information wih regards to this matter.

Question

In yesterdays parsha, Ki Setze, when discussing the subject of yibum the Torah uses the lashon of mocheh - that the brother who does not wish to marry the sister-in-law is being moche (erasing) the name in yisrael. Why does the Torah uses such a lashon and such a strong lashon. iow, it could use the word m'kuyam, that stands for existing-that he did not want to the name to exist, but, to use the same language as we have at the end of the parsha by "timche es zacher amalek" seems a little harsh. But, when asking this, i see that the pasuk in telling us what will happen when he does not wish to build his brother's house is the lashon of "kacha ya'esah l'ish", which is not only the exact same lashon as by Haman by also the exact same trup.So, the question is what and why the similarities to Purim. (Might it have something to do with Mordechai taking responsibility for Esther?)

Answer

I am certainly open to suggestion, but perhaps I could just make a few observations on these matters. Rabbeinu Bachye strongly discusses how the mitzvah of Yibum is actually a way to help the soul of the deceased return to this world in order to complete what matters that he had left unfinished. Thus, by deciding not to perform Yibum, the brother is actually causing the death of the departed to be more final and complete. The same language might be used with regards to Amalek to display that the eradication of their unholy name must be completely obliterated. There is a lot of discussion about the individuals in the Purim story actually being the representatives, or even reincarnates, of much earlier people, as well. David HaMelech and even Adam and the original Serpent can be found represented in the storyline if one analyzes it with the proper perspective and the eradication of Amalek is a major focus in this storyline. Unfortunately, entire works have been dedicated to this topic and this question and answer format will not do justice to explaining that concept. For further reading I would suggest purchasing Rav Eliyahu Wolf's, "Ma SheHaya Hu Sheyihiyeh" on Purim.

Question

Dear Rabbi Storch: I was asked the following question over the weekend: What is the issur of Mechir Keilev ( yesterday's parsha) and why? does that mean someone that sells a dog or has a pet store, can't donate the money to shul?

Answer

The biblical prohibition of Mechir Kelev is to use an item exchanged for a dog in the service in the Beis HaMikdash. It is specific to the item that was bartered for the dog. There is a rabbinic ordinance prohibiting the use of such items for mitzvos such as items used in a shul or for a Sefer Torah. The rabbinic ordinance is also specific to an item being used itself for a mitzvah, so one who would sell a dog may donate the money to a shul because the money itself will not be used for a mitzvah, rather, it will subsequently be used to purchase items for the shul. If one exchanged the dog for some bricks, however, those bricks may not be used to build a shul. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 153:20 and Mishna Berurah 153:105-110) Because the Torah is given by the most Supreme Being, it is impossible to know the reasons for the commandments that He has given. However, we can certainly gain insight and perspective from the lessons we learn from them. The dog is considered to be an animal that has a brazen disposition. (See Yeshaya 56:11) When one offers a sacrifice in the Beis HaMikdash he is seeking some form of forgiveness from Hashem. The action of the sacrifice should teach the individual that it is he personally that was deserving a horrible fate and he should be humbled and desire to repent. If offering something associated with the brazen dog the person may be reminded of this character trait and not allow himself to become completely humbled. (Sefer HaChinuch 571)

Question

Is it permissible to use scissors on shabbos to cut vegetables or other food items? Does it make a difference between kitchen or regular scissors.

Answer

You may use a pair of scissors to open a package that is permissible to open or to cut things that are permissible to cut on Shabbos. This is the case with any type of scissors. (Shmiras Shabbos vol. 1 20:16)

Question

What's the deference between bread with regular hechsher and pas yisroel? Isn't the mashgiach present to turn on the oven in both cases?

Answer

I do not work for a kashrus organization (nor have I in the past), but I am under the impression that in non-pas yisrael kosher bread bakeries that the mashgiach does not start the fire nor participate in the baking process. They rely on the leniency that some maintain that commercially baked breads are exempted from the edict. (See S.A. Y.D. 112)

Question

What should I do with my son's old tzizit? Can I throw them in the garbage or must they be buried with shaimas?

Answer

Tzitzis may not be thrown away in the garbage, but do not require to be placed in shaimos. One is just prohibited from using or depositing them in a disrespectful way/place. Some use the strings as bookmarks for seforim. For many this is impractical so they just deposit them in shaimos since although not required, it is permissible.

Question

Why are there two Magen Avraham times for Shema. (both in minutes, not degrees) I once heard the earlier shita has something to do with rabbi Dovid Kronglas. Is that correct?

Answer

There are a lot of "Magen Avraham" types of zmanim so I cannot comment with certainty on the exact two that you are referring. This method of zman is calculated by taking dawn to dusk and using one twelfth as one halachic hour. If you are using a Baltimore luach then chances are the two being used are one that has dawn as 72 minutes prior to sunrise and dusk as 72 minutes after sunset. This is the most commonly found Magen Avraham zman. The other is probably dawn at 72 minutes prior to sunrise but dusk as 45 minutes after sunset and this was used by Rav Kronglass. There are many other methods such as using 90 minutes in place of 72, or using a solar depression angle (such as 16.1, 4.2, 18, 19.8, and many others) for dawn and dusk. Not all have equal twilight amounts. So, some have a longer matutinal (morning) twilight than the vespertine (evening) twilight.

Question

Is it permitted to use "Moisturizing" liquid soap on shabbos? ( refuah? like putting lotion? ). assuming there is no problem with liquid soap itself.

Answer

The moisturizing element does not present any problem. It is not considered refuah since you are washing your hands with a regular type of soap used by healthy people.

Question

I know of those who very much want to live in Israel and who visit quite often (2 or 3 times a year) who have elected to not say "Barch Hashem l'Olam amain v'amain" at Mariv becasue they dont say it in Israel. (At least they still keep 2 days Yom Tov). Is there any type of heter to not say it?

Answer

There is debate amongst the Rishonim as to the recitation of this bracha. In many Ashkenazic communities the custom was to say it in accordance with many of these Rishonim. Other communities followed other opinions and did not say it. In Eretz Yisrael it is not said even by Ashkenazim since many of the customs of the Ashkenazim in Eretz Yisrael follow the opinion of the Gra who held it should not be said. That being the case, one should not change his custom unless he is considered halachically to be an inhabitant of Eretz Yisrael. Just because he loves Eretz Yisrael and wants to reflect his adoration in his practices of prayer does not allow for a change in a custom such as this one. The laws of being considered an inhabitant can be complex and there are many different approaches by different rabbanim. Generally just owning property there and visiting is not sufficient to Considered as an inhabitant. I would encourage this individual to speak to his Rav prior to changing any customs or prayers.

Question

This past Friday, I was under the assumption that candlelighting was later than it really was. As a result, I found out on Shabbos that I lit candles after sh'kiya. I'm not sure excatly how many minutes late I lit, but it was most probably anywhere between 1 and 9 minutes past sh'kiya. Are there any reprecussions to this? (Having to light an extra candle...etc.) Or anyway to rectify this? Thank you.

Answer

One should not light after sunset because this time period is what is called bein hashmashos and this time period should be treated as Shabbos since there is a possibility that Shabbos has begun. Nevertheless, due to the information provided and due to the nature of bein hashmashos you need not light an extra candle in the future. It sounds like your mistake was an honest one and that you feel bad about it, the best rectification of a situation like this is to ensure that it not happen again.

Question

what's Torah's perspective about UFOs? can they be sheidim and mazikim?

Answer

The Torah does not appear to directly address the issue of whether or not there is life on other planets. Whether or not it exists is something that perhaps science will one day figure out. The descriptions given by people who claim to have witnessed such creatures does not seem consistent with the descriptions given in the Talmud for sheidim or mazikim. To my knowledge, so far there have not been any credible accounts of encounters or observations of life from or on any planet other than Earth. Keep in mind that many maintain that the Rambam did not believe that sheidim or mazikim even exist, as well.

Question

You mentioned that you would be available to give a lecture series on magic, superstitions, and a wide reange of other topics such as necromancy. What is necromancy?

Answer

Necromancy is the act of raising one from the dead in order to ask the deceased information. The Egyptians and Canaanites commonly perfomed such ceremonies. The Torah forbids certain practices of necromancy, yet, in other places in the Talmud we find Amoraim asking for information from those that had died. There is much discussion as to what is prohibited and what is permitted and whether or not there is even any valdity to these practices. The earlier answer that referred to this was to a question as to whether I would translate a pamphlet that I wrote about this (and other topics) that can be found at the following link http://astrotorah.weeklyshtikle.com/2011/05/new-kuntras.html. As I mentioned there, unfortunately, I do not have the time to translate it right now, but I would be glad to arrange a lecture series if there was enough interest in the community. Feel free to contact me.

Question

Is money used for buying seats for Yom Tov considered tzedakah? Can Maaser money be used for it?

Answer

Tzedakah from a technical standpoint is only when the money/food/clothing is benefitting the poor. Although this is the case, people generally refer to any contributions that go to organizations that perform mitzvos as tzedakah. There are varying opinions as to what can be deducted from Maaser, however, many rabbanim maintain that money that is voluntarily used for mitzvos can be deducted. The question then arises, is shul membership/seats for Yomim Noraim considered voluntary or does the fact that the benefactor is "receiving" a service for the money nullify its status as a contribution? Much of this depends on the shul's policies as to whether or not people will be turned away if they do not pay and if there are other shuls where this person would be able to daven at for free/for a lower fee. Since there usually are other places where one can daven for free, or at a lower rate, all or some of the money (the difference) may be deducted from maaser.

Question

How about posting it in English so we can all enjoy it?

Answer

I assume you are referring to the pamphlet that I authored about magic, astrology, charms, divination, Molech, necromancy, and superstitions that I referenced in a link a few questions ago (http://astrotorah.weeklyshtikle.com/2011/05/new-kuntras.html). Unfortunately, at this point in time, I do not have the time to translate that work into English, however, if there was interest in the community then it would be my pleasure to give a lecture series on these topics. Feel free to contact me if you are interested.

Question

Must a married woman, who davens in the privacy of her home, cover her hair when she davens?

Answer

Many women cover their hair when they daven or perform other mitzvos even if at other times they choose not to cover their hair. From a halachic perspective, the davening or performance of the mitzvah does not require her to do so.

Question

Does Judaism believe in magic?

Answer

This has been a matter of significant debate in earlier years. The main two differing views can be seen in the works of the Rambam and Ramban. The Rambam did not believe in magic and the Ramban asserted that magic does in fact exist. Although in Halacha the Shulchan Aruch and latter rabbanim generally follow the opinion of the Ramban, this does not prove with certainty what the objective truth is and is not a statement that the Rambam was wrong. Rather, it could just mean that when required to take a practical approach, one needed to be chosen for prctical application. (See Rambam Avodah Zarah ch. 11 and Ramban letter found in Kol Kisvei HaRamban vol. 1 p. 378) I would love to refer you to a pamphlet that I write about these types of topics. It can be downloaded at the following link. http://astrotorah.weeklyshtikle.com/2011/05/new-kuntras.html

Question

If i use a non food utensil for food use (e.g. using box cutter to cut fruits or using sewing scissors to cut chicken), do I need to tovel them? Please elaborate. Thanks

Answer

This would depend on whether you are jupic using this utensil temporarily or if you are going to be using it consistently for this purpose. If the former then the no, if the latter then yes. (See Darchei Moshe Y.D. 120:4)

Question

what are "Proportional Hours" and how do you calculate them?

Answer

Proportional hours are generally used for calculations of appropriate times for saying Shema, when the latest or earliest one can daven and most mitzvos that are time sensitive. There are many opinions as to how to calculate them, but two most common ways are to either take the timespan between sunrise and sunset and use one-twelfth as an hour, or to take the time from dawn to dusk and use one-twelfth as an hour. There is significant debate with regards to the latter as to what the exact definitions of dawn and dusk are. Many use a set amount of minutes prior to sunrise and after sunset while others use the solar position/amount of light present to determine these times. In the United States (and most non-chasidic communities) the former method is the primary one.

Question

Dear Rabbi Storch, I don't get it. I always thought/learned that "psik reishah" means 100%. Where does the "90%' come from? Secondly, is the psik reishah measured against each brush stroke individually (in which case it's certainly not a psik reishah), or against the totality of many brush strokes (in which case it's a good chance of a detachment, but still not a psik reishah)? Thanks.

Answer

Many rabbanim consider something that will happen with an overwhelming probability as a psik reisha. A 100% chance of many things is not possible including the fact that there have been chickens to live without a head for quite some time and this is the classic case of a psik reisha. Each brush stroke is treated as an individual act.

Question

what does it mean when someone makes early or late shabbat? also what are the main practices of when to end shabat

Answer

One may accept Shabbos anytime after 10.75/12 of the day have passed on Friday. One must accept Shabbos with a minimum of a few moments prior to sunset on Friday. As such, many communities allow people to make their own choice and have (at least) two different times when they pray on Friday and accept Shabbos (this is especially common during the summer when the days are long). Because of this common practice people usually refer to the earlier time as "early Shabbos" and the later as "late Shabbos." The main practices for end times for Shabbos (as practiced in the States) are 42, 45, 50, or 72 minutes after sunset on Shabbos. One should consult his Rav and/or follow his custom with regards to personal end times.

Question

I know this question is a little out of the box but I was just asked this question and realized I wasn't sure how to answer: is it brought down anywhere what happens to animals/pets when they die in terms of afterlife. Thanks

Answer

Every human posseses a Nefesh, life force, and a Neshama, soul. The Nefesh is literally the life-force that sustains the body and allows for digestion, circulation, etc. The soul is the holy element that is pure and spiritual and lives on even after the body is no longer sustained by its life-force. Animals have a Nefesh, but no Neshama. As such, it would seem that, like vegetation, when they die they cease to exist as this life-force ceases to be functional. (See Rambam's Shemonah Perakim for elucidation of the Nefesh)

Question

Your daily halacha states no kissing of "small children" in shul. May I kiss an adult and may I hug either children and/or adults in shul?

Answer

Yes you may, the Rema only quotes the Binyamin Zev as prohibiting kissing of one's own small children. (Rema O.C. 98:1)

Question

is there any problem using twist ties (e.g. challah bags) on shabbos?

Answer

There is a dispute amongst Rabbanim as to how to treat these ties. If the tie has not been tied within 24 hours then one can certainly untie it. If it will be undone within the next 24 hours then one can tie it. If not, then it is may be preferable not ot use these ties, but if no alternative exists then there are reputable opinions that are lenient. For a greater discussion see The 39 Melachos vol.3 pp. 799-800.

Question

How "dirty" should my oven be in order to turn the parve food baked inside into meat/dairy?

Answer

There are a lot of factors that need to be considered with regards to this question. Firstly, once the food is completely charred and ashen it is not considered to be food anymore and will not cause anything else to become meat/dairy. Secondly, the nature the debris originially is very pertinent, is it something that is liquidy and will be steamy or not. Steamy items will cause other things to become meat/dairy more easily. Thirdly, is the food that you are now cooking covered and is it placed directly above the shmutz? In all of the above, if the debris is less than 1:60 then it will not cause the food to become meat/dairy post facto, but the other factors will determine whether one should initially cook in these circumstances. I recommend contacting a Rav in person to speak through all the details to determine your specific needs.

Question

I've noticed that people read along with the bal koray to help in their shnayim mikra. Why are they allowed to do that when the inyan of "tray kalay" would mean that they are doing the shnayim mikra but not really hearing laining

Answer

Kriyas HaTorah was instituted to have some public learning of Torah. There is debate amongst the Poskim as to whether one can learn during Kriyas HaTorah, and if so is this only for one has already heard the laining or not. A stringent approach is generally taken to the above with the exception of one performing his Shnayim Mikrah obligation during the laining which is permissible. The reason is not because the individual will be able to concentrate on the laining when he is doing this, rather, it is because Shnayim Mikrah is considered to be learning the exact same thing as the laining and it is therefore conisdered as if this individual is participating in the public Torah learning which was initially instituted. As such, there is debate with the Magen Avraham maintaining that this individual may do Shnayim Mikrah even if there are not ten others listening to the laining. Many other Poskim dispute this last point. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 14:2 and Biur Halacha's commentary)

Question

We have a fleishig microwave that a guest heated a dairy dish in, Is there any way to kasher a microwave?

Answer

You can take some water in either a microwave safe bowl or cup and have it boil in the microwave for a few minutes until it steams up the inside. Please be careful when doing this as it gets very hot.

Question

Is one permitted to take a splinter out of a parents hand? Why are the halachos of after tisha bavuntil chatzos like the 9 days and not more chomur, considering we mourn then for the burning of the bais hamikdash? as opposed to the rest of the 9 days?

Answer

If nobody else is available to take out the splinter then the child may. Even though it was until midday of the tenth of Av that the Mikdash was burning, we do take some comfort in the fact that Hashem took out His decree on wood and stone since the alternative would not have been good. Therefore, it is not as bad as 9 Av itself in a certain sense since on 9 Av we were still not certain as to the extent of things.

Question

Can you please explain why tisha b'av is called "moead" and we don't say tachnun.

Answer

In the (hopefully near) future, Tisha B'Av will be a day of joy and festivities. From our destruction we will find salvation. It is referred to as a holiday and as such no tachanun is recited on it or at mincha on the day before it. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 552:12)

Question

Since we are in mourning in the 9 days like someone who, lo Aleinu, is sitting shiva, (I only say that because they would go to shul on Tisha B'av if they were in the shiva) why can't we eat meat? Those sitting shiva can.

Answer

We are in a state of mourning, but clearly we do not keep the exact laws of a mourner for one who has lost a relative. One major difference between one who mourns for a relative and mourners of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash is that the one who mourns a relative generally feels the pain automatically since the loss is a recent one. Tisha B'Av marks an ancient loss and it is one that is often times not felt. Chazal refer to this type of mourning as availus yeshana, mourning for an ancient loss. As such the customs of mourning may be more severe in certain applications of them in order to bring home the feeling that one should have. Conversely, we are allowed to leave our houses and conduct regular business activities, in addition to other actions mourners are not allowed to do, because of the different nature of this mourning.

Question

Can I plant in my garden during the nine days?

Answer

That would depend on what you are planting. You are not allowed to plant items whose purpose is solely for pleasure (i.e. a tree for shade that you wish to relax in). (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 551:2) Plants that will be used for food are allowed.

Question

Can you please briefly explain the G'RA and M'A shitos with regards to beginning and end time of kerias shema

Answer

Kriyas Shema must be done prior to 1/4 of the day. There is debate amongst early Poskim as to how to divide the day. The shita generally called the Magen Avraham shita asserts that we take a quarter of the time period from dawn until dusk while that referred to as the Gra maintains that we divide the time from sunrise to sunset. Both agree upon the beginning time which is preferably from the time one can recognize his friend at a four cubit distance (misheyakir).

Question

RE:why do we celebrate two days of rosh chodesh: I was referring to nowadays that we have a set calendar

Answer

Our calendar reflects the conditions upon which it was based originally. Thus, anything that was originally done due to doubt will be incorporated into the calendar. This has practical application to two day Yomim Tovim in the Diaspora as well.

Question

I've never heard of making one bracha when thunder and lightning happen at the same time. For that matter I've never heard of thunder and lightning happening at the same time. Which bracha of the 2 do you make? I also don't think you addressed as to whether or not it matters if it is raining as to whether you recite the brachos.

Answer

If you witness both at the same time the bracha should be oseh maaseh, however, if you made the shekocho bracha then you have fulfilled your obligation. (Mishna Berurah 227:5) This can be a fairly common event and is based on how close the storm is to the observer. The brachos apply even if it is not raining. The only time one would not make a bracha on lightning is if it is "heat lightning", meaning that it was not accompanied by thunder. (Mishna Berurah 227:3)

Question

why do we celebrate two days of rosh chodesh on some months? i understand when previous month is "molei", rosh chodesh is two days and when it's "choser" it's one day. But why not celebrate rosh chodesh just the first day of the month?

Answer

A couple of the reasons for this are as follows: 1) The 30th day of a month could theoretically have been Rosh Chodesh if that month had only had 29 days. Therefore, the population who might not receive confirmation from the Beis Din in Yerushalayim for a duration of time would treat that day with the same reverence they would for Rosh Chodesh. This can possibly be seen in the famous passage in Tanach when Yehonasan and his father, King Shaul, are sitting to eat a festive Rosh Chodesh meal and David Hamelech is hiding nearby waiting to see if he will be received warmly by King Shaul. In this passage a reference is seemingly made to observe Rosh Chodesh the following day, as well. This is chosen to be the Haftarah when Sunday is Rosh Chodesh. 2) The Shibolei Haleket cites a Yerushalmi that implies that when witnesses testify of the new moon's recurrence that it is not that day that is sanctified, rather, it is the following. As such, the day prior to Rosh Chodesh enables the following day to become Rosh Chodesh. Coupling this with the fact that on some months day 30 could have actually been Rosh Chodesh, it is thus given a level of sanctity as well. (Shibolei Haleket 168) For more information regarding this fascinating Shibolei Haleket and an in depth view of many of the nuances within varying opinions as to the calculating of the new moon I would strongly recommend getting a copy of my upcoming book to be published after Sukkos iy"H since the appendix deals with such issues at great length.

Question

Which do I make the bracha on first, thunder or lightning? Does it matter whether or not it is raining as to whether I should say the bracha?

Answer

One makes the bracha on lightning when he sees it and thunder when it is heard. The order should be based on the order in which they were seen and heard. If they were heard simultaneously then one bracha is said for both together.

Question

If a woman is uncomfortable with her husband's stubbly face during the 3 weeks, is he allowed to shave for the sake of shalom bayis?

Answer

If she just does not like it then the answer is certainly no. If it will cause an actual shalom bayis problem, then you should consult a Rav who knows the two of you well to see if the circumstances allow for shaving. If the latter is the case then I would also strongly suggest seeing some sort of marriage counselor or therapist because it would appear that there may be some deeper problems in the marriage.

Question

Can I mow my lawn during the nine days?

Answer

Yes you may.

Question

If one is on a bus and has a choice to give his seat to an elderly person or pregnant women, who goes first? Also would this apply if that person was already sitting and the other got on after them?

Answer

Obviously one should use common sense to see if someone really needs the seat and the other does not. When it comes to doing kindness, one has an obligation to perform good deeds to others regardless of age. When it comes to elderly and pregnant people, both may sometimes need a seat more than others. If both need the seat equally then the elderly individual should come first since in addition to helping one who is weak, there is a specific commandment to honor an older person. However, as stated above, one should use common sense in situations like these. I am sorry but I do not understand your follow up question. If one enters a bus and is standing, how can he give up his seat to someone who is already seated? Or, if the questioner is seated in addition to one of the aforementioned people then they only have one person that needs a seat. If the questioner is the pregnant/elderly person and they came on the bus after another pregnant/elderly person already sat then he may not demand the other get up. This would be true even if the seated individual was not elderly/pregnant. Even if it is appropriate for them to get up, the elderly/pregnant person has no authority to force them.

Question

what's the halacha of brushing one's hair on shabbas and unrelated question is is asur to listen to kol isha or is it a chumrah - thank you

Answer

There is a prohibition to pluck out hair from one's scalp on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Therefore, one may brush his hair but he needs to take into consideration the following guidelines. If by brushing one's hair there will be a 90% or higher chance that even one hair will become detached from the scalp then one may not brush his hair. In the even that the chance is lower than that the hair removal is considered to be an unintended consequence and one may brush his hair. Therefore, one must find an appropriate brush and brush in an appropriate manner. Obviously, some people have more of a predisposition to hair loss and they need to be more careful. Regarding kol isha, it is not just a chumrah, but an actual halacha. It is classified in the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch as such.

Question

I have a number of questions,I hope their not too much: 1)what is plag hamincha2)what's it mean when they announce at shuel to repeat shema?3)can I listen to music during the nine days for working out purpouses4)why do people wait to finish ahava rabah w. the chazan and some people don't and just say amen5)how long does one have to wait b/t milk then meat, is it true you just need to wash out your mouth? hope this isn't too much but i have no idea where to find these answers - thanks!

Answer

They aren't too much at all, don't worry. 1) Plag HaMincha is a time in the afternoon at which point the day is considered to be ending. It is when 10.45/12 of the day have passed. If the day started at 6:00am and ended at 6:00pm it would be at 4:45. There is a dispute as to how to calculate the day itself with the basic approaches being that the day begins at sunrise and ends at sunset or that it begins at dawn and ends at the appearence of stars. Because it is considered to be the ending of the day one can sometimes perform some of the mitzvos that pertain to the following evening at this point. One may accept Shabbos at this point and if one always prays Mincha prior to this point in time then he may daven Maariv starting at Plag HaMincha. 2) To fulfill one's biblical obligation of reciting the Shema, a mitzvah independent of davening Maariv, every evening one must recite it after the appearence of three medium stars (the exact time of this is a matter of dispute). Many times a shul will daven Maariv prior to this point in time and it is therefore necessary to recite Shema again after this time in order to fulfill the obligation. 3) If the music is purely to get you through the workout and not for enjoyment then you may. 4)There is a dispute between some of the greatest halachic authorities as to how to define the relationship that the bracha of Ahava Rabbah (or Ahavas Olam) has with Shema. One approach views this bracha's relationship to Shema in a fashion very similar to a bracha on a fruit and the fruit's being eaten. Just like one cannot answer Amein (even to another's bracha) in between making a bracha on a fruit and eating it, so too, this authority maintains that you may not answer Amein in between Ahava Rabbah and Shema. The other opinion sees no such relationship and maintains that you should answer Amein to a bracha at this point. This creates an interesting situation with one authority requiring one to say Amein to the Chazzan's bracha and the other prohibiting it. As such, some people like to recite the bracha part with the Chazzan thus making them unable to say Amein at this point because one would not answer Amein to his own bracha of Ahava Rabbah. 5) While there are various customs of how long one must wait after eating meat prior to eating milk (the most common customs are 1 hour, 3 hours, 5 plus hours, and 6 hours), these do not generally apply to a case where one first ate milk and then ate meat. In such a case one need only eat something that will clean out his mouth) like bread or crackers and also rinse his mouth out with a liquid in between. For kabbalistic reasons many wait at least 1/2 hour and some an entire hour and this is an appropriate thing to do. It is important to note that this is only of one did not eat what is considered to be a "hard" cheese. In such a case one must wait 6 hours. American and mozerella are not hard cheeses, but most authorities consider parmesan to be one.

Question

Can I bake on Tisha B'Av afternoon even if the food won't necessarily be for that Shabbos?

Answer

There is no prohibition to bake or cook on Tisha B'Av.

Question

May one drink grape juice, beer, or other alcoholic beverages during the 9 days?

Answer

Wine and grape juice no, beer and other alcoholic beverages yes.

Question

At Shomrei Emunah when someone has yahrzeit at Mincha they give him the alainu kadish for himself and then, so others can say a kadish, they use that minhag and say Mizmor Shir Chanukas

Answer

The practice of giving one with a Yahrzeit the exclusive right to the Kaddish after Aleinu is very prevalent. The choice to add Mizmor Shir, specifically, afterwards so others can recite Kaddish as well doesot appear to be so common, I did a drop of research and found that it seems that this practice is specific to Shomrei Emunah. The individual I spoke with is involved with Shomrei and he felt that it was an in-house decision made some years back. He theorized the choice of that specific chapter because many are familiar with it.

Question

What was the purpose of Hashem creating stars? What purpose do they serve both physically (aside from being pretty to gaze upon) and spiritually?

Answer

It is important to first understand that God's "logic" far exceeds that of man. However, there are different ideas and concepts that we can learn from the creation of the stars. Firstly, there is the famous Midrash cited by Rashi (Bereishis 1:16) that the stars were created to pacify the moon by joining her in the night sky after she was reduced in size/brightness. Also, many people have witnessed the marvels of the universe and God's creation by the recognition of the beauty, power, and size of these enormous nuclear reactors! The Rishonim also express the will of God, and therefore all of nature, manifesting itself from the metaphysical realm to this world after passing through the stellar realm. Thus, the movements and positions of the stars can, to the knowledgeable individual, display God's might and control of the universe. (See Rambam's letter to Marseilles, Yesodei HaTorah 2, Ibn Ezra's Reishis Chachma, and Ramban's letter regarding astrology cited by Beis Yosef in Y.D. 179 and in Kol Kisvei HaRamban vol. 1 p. 378) Also, please keep an eye out for my upcoming book about the stars that will hopefully be released sometime between Sukkos and Chanukah. (Thank you for asking this question so I could put in that shameless plug, iy"H more plugs and information will be forthcoming as the publishing date comes closer.)

Question

When someone has yahrzeit and has the preference of saying the now next-to-last-Kadish by himself, why is Mizmor shir chanukas habayis l'dovid the kapital chosen to make another Kadish available afterwards for the rest of those saying Kadish?

Answer

I apologize, but I have never seen the custom that you are mentioning. What I have seen is that the Yahrzeit will say the Kaddish after Aleinu and everyone who wishes to say Kaddish will say it after the Shir shel Yom. I have only seen Mizmor Shir repeated at this point on Chanukah.

Question

A few questions regarding the proper way to fulfil Lechem Mishna: (Q#1) May one have one challah in a bag (albeit under the challah cover) and only one challah "out of the bag"? Or is there some reason that would require both challahs to be "out of the bag" (e.g., perhaps a need either for the two challahs to touch each other, or for a person's hands/fingers to actually be touching both challahs)? (Q#2) Must one hold both of the 2 challahs (or even just 1 of them) while saying the birchas HaMotzee? (Q#3) Is it OK for one to hold both challahs, say "Birshus", and then have someone take one of the challahs away before one completes (or while he is still in the midst of saying) the bracha? (Q#4) Can a frozen challah be used as the "2nd" challah? (Q#5) must everyone (or anyone) eat from one of actual challahs upon which the bracha was made (that is to say, or alternatively may they just eat from a different challah that was not part of the actual Lechem Mishna and leave the actual Lechem Mishna challahs entact, e.g., they want to just eat/finish a previously cut challah first)?

Answer

While one may leave one of the challahs in a bag, it would be appropriate to take it out in order that his fingers be touching it. 2. One needs to hold both challahs in his hands. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 274:1) 3. One should hold the challahs through the entire bracha. (Ibid.) 4. One may use a frozen challah. 5. While it seems that some authorities would maintain that the others technically do not need to eat from the lechem mishna (although since they are being yotzei with his bracha they may not eat from their pieces until he eats from his) nevertheless the custom is that they do. (See Mishna Berurah 274:8)

Question

If I break my fast either for medical reasons or a headache (or similar) is preventing me from completing the fast, why can't I just continue eating afterwards. In other words, once its broken it's not like i can fix it by "restarting" the fast.

Answer

The misconception probably arises from the fact that people refer to eating on a fast as "breaking" the fast. The truth is that it isn't that there is a "fast" that can either be accomplished by not eating all day or not. Rather, on public fast days it is as if there is a vow not to eat during the day. Just because one ate once does not mean that the vow to not eat is no longer valid. Similarly, if one ate non-kosher whether with permission (such as for life threatening situations) or not, he cannot say he has "broken" that commandment and it no longer applies. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 568:1)

Question

what secular study subjects(if any), may one read on shabbos? e.g for upcoming school, college exam.

Answer

There is a debate as to whether it is permissible to read educational books (secular) on Shabbos. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 307:17) The Mishnah Berurah maintains that the custom is to follow the lenient opinion, but a "yarei shamayim (God fearing individual)" will refrain from this activity. (Mishna Berurah 307:65; also see Shmiras Shabbos 1:29:47) There is no differentiation found between different subjects.

Question

July 24th, 2011 I have observed that it is the practice of many proper contemporary Yeshiva educated Jews to consider civil marriages as being of no Halachic consequence. For example, I have handled more than one civil divorce for women from proper yeshiva backgrounds who married one man civilly for one benefit or another while being married through proper Kiddushin to another man and conversely married a man through proper Kiddushin while being married civilly to another man. When I have brought up this matter I have been told that a civil marriage has no impact on a woman's ability to marry another man since this does not constitute a Halachic status of being married. So, now a situation has arisen where two men, both proper Yeshiva educated men, who wish to marry civilly for certain legal and financial benefits. Would this similarly be permitted and accepted in Halacha and if not, why would it be different than the Orthodox Jewish woman with two husbands that is generally tolerated? I thank you in advance for your reply. Bryon W. Szojchet, Esq.

Answer

Many rabbanim do not see any halachic significance to civil marriages. However, it is notable that some may and that even if halachically insignificant, one should always uphold the highest standards of honesty and integrity. With regards to Baltimore, it is my understanding as of now that two men are still unable to marry each other legally, though.

Question

What is that "TA" time for the beginning of the fast?

Answer

The time that a fast day begins is called "alos hashachar" and is the halachic dawn of a day. There are various methods to calculate this time period and TA stands for Tiferes Aryeh. This is my sefer on Zevachim and in it there is a chapter that discusses zmanim (chapter 30). The method used to deduce this time was based on a reading of the sugyah in Pesachim 93b-94a. Although it is founded on Talmudic analysis, it happens to align precisely to astronomical twilight, the first moment when sunlight falls on Earth. It can also be expressed as when the sun is eighteen degrees below the horizon.

Question

Are autopsies ever permitted? Is it true that theoretically, someone could kill someone else and get away with it because the family can stop the authorities from performing an autopsy to discover the cause of death? Or does the local gov't have the final say?

Answer

There may be cases when an autopsy is permitted, a competent Rav should be consulted with regards to these matters. You would have to ask law enforcement, but it is my understanding that religious beliefs would not be a reason they would honor if it was inhibiting a homicide investigation. The government has many legal rights with regards to what they can and cannot do in any criminal investigation and I do not believe that something like this would prohibit them.

Question

Is it a mitzvah to kiss a mezuza? In other words, if i walk in/out of the doorway and don't kiss it, am i "ovair" on the mitzva?

Answer

When one enters or exits a room with a mezuzah he should remember that God is one and that He loves us. At this point the person should take to heart that there is nothing other than God's knowledge that is eternal. (See Rambam Sta"m 6:13) A mezuzah is an excellent object that allows one to take a break from the worries of daily life and remember why he is here. As such, the custom developed to touch the mezuzah and then even to kiss it. (See Shulchan Aruch and Shach Y.D. 285:2) It is appropriate to have some sort of remembrance but it is not obligatory, so one has not transgressed anything if he did not remind himself of the purpose of life when passing a mezuzah, but he has lost out on a tremendous opportunity.

Question

when torah permits a kohein to become tamei for close relatives, is that only at the time of the funeral or he can also visit the grave in future?

Answer

It is only for the purposes of burial.

Question

Every summer my son's camp goes paint balling, an activity that I am very uncomfortable with. I feel that shooting other Yidden, especially Rebbeim who go with them, seems very wrong, if not halachically unacceptable as it raises welts under the skin and sometimes bleeding. I cannot forbid my son from going because all the rest of the campers go, but if it halachically unacceptable then perhaps the head counselor will no longer include this activity. Please advise. Thank you.

Answer

The Rambam clarifies that the prohibition to injure another is when it is done in an argumentative or fighting fashion. (Chovel 5:1) Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l understood this to mean that one may jokingly hit his friend in a fashion that does not cause significant injury if it is clear that the "victim" wouldn't care AND that the "victim" did not care. (Igros Moshe O.C. 3:78) It would seem that the administrators in the camp assume the same logic applies here since it is being done in a joking fashion. If you are concerned then I would encourage you to bring your concerns to the administrators, although as stated above they may have halachic grounds upon which to stand.

Question

When Chazal said that a woman can be counted for one of the 7 aliyahs on shabbos but we don't let her because of kavod tzibur, what does that mean? Why is it a disgrace for the tzibur that a woman get an aliyah?

Answer

The Gemara to which you are referring is Megillah 23a. There a Tannaitic statement is cited as saying that a woman cannot receive an aliyah due to the congregation's honor. The Rishon who elucidates the most on this statement is the Meiri. His focus is that a woman is not obligated in Torah study and therefore it would seem problematic for her to receive an aliyah. As such he states that after the institution of making brachos on every aliyah (the original custom was only for the first oleh to make the beginning bracha and the last to recite the last) a woman can not receive an aliyah because she is unable to recite a bracha on something she is not obligated to perform. Prior to the necessity of a bracha at each aliyah her status with regard to this mitzvah would have only been prohibited because it does not look appropriate. It would have been better for the congregation to have someone obligated in this mitzvah to be called to perform it. (Beis HaBechirah Megillah 23a)

Question

With Shiva Asur B'tamuz approaching, how stringently must someone adhere to the fast. More specifically, someone working the day of the fast that will be affected by not eating, at one point can one break their fast?

Answer

One must fast unless they are actually sick. A headache does not generally constitute being sick for these purposes. If one feels sick on this or any other fast, he should consult his rabbi to determine if he may break his fast. Sometimes the rabbi may suggest taking medication as opposed to an outright breaking of the fast. A competent rabbi and physician should always be consulted with regards to taking important medications on a fast day.

Question

May I mail a letter or package on Friday? if so, how late in the day can I do it? Also, does it make a difference if I go to post office or just drop it in a box?

Answer

You may mail it and it makes no difference whether it is done from the post office or box. However, it may be appropriate to mail it prior to the last pick up scheduled before Shabbos. (See Mishna Berurah 247:18)

Question

Like everyone else, I have to rush out in the morning and bentch "on the run". Would it be mutar to to stop at al yichasranu so I can bentch like a mentch?

Answer

The first 3 brachos of bentching are required by biblical law and the fourth is rabbinic. The "harachamans" and other portions from this point on are said based on a widespread custom. In the event that the inclusion of this customary section will cause one to be unable to recite the first four brachos properly (up until al yechasreinu) then he may omit them.

Question

I was recently told that there are some yoga exercises that have pagan sources and therefore would be a problem to do. How do I know what is a problem and what isn't?

Answer

So long as you are practicing these exercises for health and not for pagan worship then you need not worry. (See Shabbos 67a, Teshuvos HaRashba 413, and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 301:23) If you are interested in this topic I would love to recommend downloading a free copy of a kuntras that I recently published in honor of my son's birth. For this kuntras please copy the following and paste in your browser: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B2FO7rqPt8u7MTI3N2IzNjQtMGFmNS00ZDE2LTkxZGItNzIyMDUzNjY0YjI2&hl=en.

Question

I'm reading the story on this site about the questionable kashrus of a four legged chicken. We dont judge by its limbs, do we?What whould be the issue?

Answer

I am not familiar with this case specifically, so I cannot comment with certainty. There are instances when in the eyes of halacha an extra appendage might be considered non-existent. I assume the rabbanim involved are looking into how the exact anatomical structure of this bird to make sure that it fits all the requirements of being kosher. Keep in mind, kosher is not necessarily dependent on health concerns so even if the chicken was healthy it may still be rendered to be not kosher.

Question

what's the bracha on potato bread?

Answer

Potato bread is generally made like bread but some potato product is used instead of some of the wheat flour. Depending on how much potato is used will determine which bracha is recited. If the amount is small enough that the overall taste is still like regular bread then one makes a hamotzei and birchas hamazon on it. If it is distinctly potatoey in flavor but there is wheat flour in it then it is mezonos and al hamichya unless one uses it as a meal in which case it is treated like regular bread. If there is no wheat flour in it then it is shehakol and borei nefashos.

Question

in regards to the question of hotza on yom tov and bringing home the diaper, would you be able to expound on where you are coming from?

Answer

B"H I was blessed to recently have my fifth child. You should never assume you won't need that diaper. The Rema writes that even for a minimal need you may carry on Yom Tov. (Rema O.C. 518:1)

Question

in regards to the miraglim, if they couldnt or wouldnt have brought the other fruits, shouldn't that leave open the ability for a "but maybe only these are big" response? Furthermore why more grapes over pomegranate and figs?

Answer

I think that the enormity of these fruits was such that even if an anomaly nobody would think that the other fruits were small. Rather, they would think they were also very large. Also, keep in mind that these were trusted individuals so the people probably did not suspect them of lying. They brought one cluster of grapes. They probably wanted to impress upon the nation that it was one cluster. Once they did this that took 8 people right off the bat. I also do not know if the other fruit were available for picking.

Question

Should one change his normal everyday learning scedule in order to daven for someone,( or not change and have in mind during his learning) or would that constitute bittul torah?

Answer

It would depend on the person davening and the one being davened for. Consult your personal Rav as he would be familiar with you personally.

Question

Why did the miraglim only bring grapes, date and a pomegranate, while we know there are 7 main fruits of the land? Wouldn't it have made more sense to bring all 7 and with the remaining 3 bring more grapes?

Answer

Firstly, I do not know if the other fruits were in season and available. Also, Chazal teach that these fruits were massive and took more than one person to carry. The cluster of grapes took eight people and the fig and pomegranate one person each. They did not have anymore people to carry. (Sotah 34a)

Question

If one misses an early minyan, does he have to take off from work to daven with a later minyan. assuming it's only a temporary monetary loss and he won't be fired...

Answer

It would depend on how far the minyan was and how much of a loss.

Question

If i bake muffins in a tin with paper holding the batter as opposed to the tin itself, and those muffins are milchig, is the tin now milchig?in a different vain, if there was no eruv on yom tov, and my wife goes to the park with some diapers, is she permitted to go back home with just one diaper? With it being extremely unlikely she would need it, and one diaper not being very expensive.? (Feel free to answer in two paragraphs)

Answer

You should treat it as milchig and she may return with the diaper.

Question

How come one is allowed to look at or read ads in the where what when or the advertiser on shabbos? If i'm not mistaken one of the shuls doesnt allow any business (not events) fliers to be posted on their bulleing board lest people look at them on shabbos

Answer

I am not sure where you heard one may read the ads, but one may not. Please scroll down as this question has been asked before.

Question

When someone says the haftarah are they being motzi me? I'm never sure whether i should say baruch hoo uvaruch shmo to their brachos or not. can u pls explain the ramifications of the one saying the haftarah being motzi or not being motzi the zeebur

Answer

The reason for reading the haftarah dates back to a time when we were under tyrannical rule. The ruler decreed that we were not to read from the Torah anymore, but his decree did not include reading from Nevi'im. Not wanting to abandon kriyas hatorah completely the Jews resorted to read from Nevi'im. After the evil decree was repealed we left reading the haftarah as a reminder. As such, it is essentially the same as kriyas hatorah and the reader is being motzei the congregation the reading. The custom is to say baruch hu uvaruch shmo to the reader's brachos, though.

Question

I want to start wearing my tzitzis out but someone told me that doing so means that if i wish to stop i have to do hataras nedarim. True?

Answer

Firstly, I apologize for the delayed response for some reason I was not notified of your question. Please recognize that many communities specifically kept their their tzitzis tucked in for kabbalastic reasons. Prior to you switching your practice you should find out if this is applicable to you. If not, then when you first start you should state that you are not doing so with intent for it to be binding as a custom and then there is no problem.

Question

Is there any permissible practical way to turn off (completely) a gas stove on yom tov?

Answer

While there are certainly rumors that certain rabbanim permitted the practice, they do not seem to indicate this as being permissible in their writings. As such, it is best to leave it on. Also, I apologize for the delayed response, I am normally notified when a question comes in, however, I was not notified of your question.

Question

In regards to fire on yom tov: if my 24 hour candle is running out and I my stove is not on either, can i light another 24 hour candle so I can use it later to light the stove with?

Answer

Yes, so long as you are intending to use it on the same day of Yom Tov (as opposed to lighting on day one for the second day). (Shemiras Shabbos 13:4)

Question

I'm so glad we have someone to ask questions to especially because every year I always want to ask this and I have no one to ask without being laughed at because I'm not so knowledgable. It seems that there is always confusion of those who stay up all night to learn as to what brachos people should say in the morning and which ones they can't say because they stayed up all night. Can you possibly expound on this? Good Yom Tov

Answer

Thank you, I appreciate the feedback. One who has worn his tzitzis all night cannot recite a bracha on them in the morning, he should have in mind that his bracha on his talis should apply to his tzitzis. If he does not wear a talis (i.e. an unmarried man not of Sephardic or German descent) he may ask someone else to have him in mind when they put on their talis. Unlike when one has slept, in this case one may not say al netilas yadayim and asher yatzar UNLESS he uses the restroom and touches an area of his body that is normally covered. Therefore, it is preferred that one use the restroom in order to be able to say these brachos. One should have someone have him in mind for Birchos HaTorah in this situation. Because there is a debate whether Birchos HaTorah are two or three brachos, one should not say Amein after "bidivrei sorah", but if he did it is not a problem. He may recite the pesukim and Torah learning immediately following the brachos himself. One may not say Elokai Neshama if he was awake all night, rather, he should have someone else have him in mind. All other brachos may be recited with the exception of the last of the Birchos HaShachar, HaMa'avir Sheina. One should have someone else have him in mind for this bracha. Have a wonderful Yom Tov.

Question

If on yom tov a bulb goes out and I need more light may I put in a new bulb?

Answer

No, this is either considered lighting a new flame (if it is a heat producing bulb) and/or creating electrical current in a visible way (if not heat producing) and not permissible on Yom Tov.

Question

When lighting a fire on yom tov from an existing fire, why is it permissible to use a match to transfer the fire. Isn�t lighting the match a havara that�s not needed for ochel nefesh? And thus should only be permissible to light the new fire using the existing fire directly?

Answer

Lighting a fire from an existing one is something permitted on Yom Tov when the resulting fire is going to be used for a permissible action on Yom Tov. Thus, lighting a fire for cooking from a lit match can be done which means lighting that match to move the fire to its final location is permissible.

Question

Why is there a chiyuv for a person saying kaddish to daven for the amud? And if so, then how can they refuse to do so?

Answer

When we say someone is a "chiyuv" (obligated to daven as the chazzan or get an aliyah), we are actually referring to the fact that the congregation is obligated to give this person preferential treatment if he wants to be the chazzan. It is appropriate for him to accept since he is displaying that his parent raised him to do mitzvos and this is positive for the deceased parent, but he is not obligated to accept.

Question

The question regarding the sotah, were they not with her the whole time? My question is how could the sisters have switched, if the talmidai chachamim had to be "on call" at all times?

Answer

Initially the husband warns the wife regarding inappropriate seclusion with another man. If she is found guilty then the process begins and they may ascend to Yerushalayim to prove her innocence. It is only once they begin traveling that any discussion of escorting them is applicable, so she may have switched prior to this time. Additionally, they may have been with the husband while she stepped away for a few minutes since they are there to provide him with company, as well. If they were unaware of her sister's existence it is possible she outsmarted them in some sort of way. She may have pretended to go use the restroom and discreetly switced places.

Question

In this weeks parsha there is a famous mechilta that has a story of two identical sisters who switched in order to save the other one from the sentence of her sotah fate. The story ends that when later they kissed, the sotah smelled the water and died. However we also know two talmiday chachamim were sent along with her, so how would such a case be possible?

Answer

The wrong sister was escorted to the Mikdash and drank the waters, those with her thought that it was the correct sister and not the substitute. When she arrived back at home she kissed her sister.

Question

As I was learning megilas rus this week, two questions came to my mind. 1) Why didn�t boaz support naomi and rus when they came back; so rus doesn�t have to collect food. 2) Why didn�t naomi arrange the �date� for rus and boaz in a better, more modest way. Why didn�t she just talk to boaz and try to persuade him to marry rus? What if boaz would give in to his yetser hara when he saw rus at his place? After all, since it�s not a real yibum, she would need a kidushin.

Answer

As ruler of Klal Yisrael, Boaz needed to look after the needs of all the Jews at that time. He did so by acting in accordance and above the law by giving the poor ample food to collect from his field. Rus was, perhaps, too distant a relative to warrant special treatment. Regarding the other questions, it seems that Na'ami was aware that Boaz would not be convinced in another fashion. The Megillah teaches that others in the family did not see Rus as a desirable bride for various reasons. Na'ami recognized that this specific situation required drastic measures and that her mission would not be able to be accomplished in a different fashion. It is of note that there are similar story lines throughout all the major points of David HaMelech's ancestry and perhaps it shows how Mashiach develops in unexpected ways. First was Adam and Chava who had separated after the sin of the Garden and only 130 years did Adam take her back and have Sheis through whom David's ancestry comes about. Then Yaakov was tricked into marrying Leah by his father in-law who switched Rachel, Yaakov's intended wife, for Leah. Then Yehuda was tricked into marrying Tamar years later. Years later we have the story of Rus and Boaz, and there is even a Midrashic story that tells that Yishai, David's father, had separated from his wife, Nitzeves, and only after she tricked him to take her back did they have their child David.

Question

I davened in a shul this morning that said Halel for yom yerushliyimm. I said it along with them with the bracha becasue I felt it was like when the zibur says alainu, no matter where you're holding, you say it along with them. I'm thinking about it now and am not sure I did the right thing. Did i?

Answer

With regards to saying Hallel on such a day one should consult their personal Rav as there is a significant debate on this subject. With regards to the overall question of saying something with the congregation in order not to appear as if you are not part of them, this is something that does have application in davening. Anytime the congregation is doing something in unison one should appear as if they are participating with them. While actual participation is advocated, sometimes one cannot actually participate but can appear to be doing so. For example, one may be in a place where he may not interrupt his davening, but can give a little bow thus appearing to say Aleinu even if he is not. Please keep in mind that there are times when one might not be able to do even this, such as during the brachos of Shemonah Esrei. That being said please also realize that one should not say a bracha in a situation where he is doubtful whether or not he is allowed to since the general rule is not to say a bracha when in doubt (notable exceptions can be Birchas HaTorah and Birchas HaMazon in specific instances).

Question

When buying food from a Fleishig deli counter at a supermarket that states "all food should be considered meat" - would eating something parve, (ie. potato knish), render you fleishig, as if you actually ate meat?

Answer

Probably not, but you would have to make sure that there are no fleishig ingredients in your potato knish, etc. If it is just made on fleishig equipment EVEN if there is a little grease or "shmutz" from meat that it comes in contact with (even if more than 1:60) then you may eat dairy afterwards (but not at the same time). (See Shach Y.D. 89:19)

Question

Re: shavous and simchas torah: What sources does the rav recommend to look up for more answers?

Answer

Thank you for asking, I should have mentioned a few in the last answer. I think you may find interest in looking in seforim such as the Bnai Yisaschar, Shem MiShmuel and Ohr Gedalyahu. In addition to seeing how some of them may address your point directly I think you will find tremendous insight as to how they characterize the Yomim Tovim. You may find some answers just from seeing the contrast between Shavuos and Simchas Torah as they are described.

Question

The Rav's answer on davening Mincha after Maariv in that situation holds true even if that Mincha was the last day of Rosh Chodessh?

Answer

Yes it does. The only exceptions the Magen Avraham makes are if it was either Erev Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Question

If shavous is a holiday of masan torah, wouldn't it be more appropriate to finish the sidrah-s ( start bereishis) on shavous and not on Simchas torah? Why do we have two different holidays to celebrate torah

Answer

Great question and one that has many answers. I would encourage you to continue exploring many different approaches to this question. One point that is important to recognize is that on Shavuos we received the Torah (hence its designation as Matan Torah), but came away from the mountain with only the broken luchos. We connected with Hashem, but the luchos received were not able to remain complete. It was only on Yom Kippur that we received atonement and the second set. This set was able to remain complete. Thus, immediately after Yom Kippur it is appropriate that we celebrate a renewal of the Torah by starting a new laining cycle on Sukkos.

Question

I normally daven Mincah early on in the day. If I went to plag and davened Maariv and realized that i had not davened Mincha can i daven after, sort of like a reverse tashlumin?

Answer

Believe it or not, you are not the first to have this happen to you. The Magen Avraham had a similar case and he ruled that you may daven Mincha after Maariv in such a situation. (MG"A 108:10)

Question

Who brought the Chatas when the Sanhedrin made a mistake? Was it one from each shevet? Was it one from the entire sanhedrin? Was it one from each member? Why were there members of the sanhedrin who could not decide a law? What was their function and did they count to the 71?

Answer

The answers to these questions can be found in Maseches Horiyos which addresses the issues of a mistaken Sanhedrin. If the Sanhedrin mistakenly permitted a prohibited act for which the punishment is Kareis and the majority of the populace had committed the act based on the erroneous ruling then the Sanhedrin must bring a specific sin offering. According to Rebbi Meir there is one offering from the entire Sanhedrin and that is it. According to Rebbi Yehuda each shevet is responsible to bring a sacrifice for the entire shevet thus having a total of twelve offerings. According to Rebbi Shimon, both the Sanhedrin and each shevet must bring an offering and the total according to him is thirteen.(Horiyos 4b) Please be aware that there are many details that must be met for this all to be applicable and there is much written in this somewhat short but comprehensive Masechta. There can also be many interesting cases regarding whole shevatim erring but they may be a minority of the populace. These are all discussed throughout Horiyos. There were Talmidim (students) who used to sit with (really in front of) the Sanhedrin. They were able to thus learn from watching the Sanhedrin and they were often asked to offer their opinions so the judges could hear a wide range of thought from many competent Torah scholars. Some of them were the foremost experts of their day even though a seat never opened for them to fill (i.e. ben Azai and ben Zoma). They did not have the authority to vote and were not part of the 71.

Question

Why is there a Kabbalat Shabbat but no Kabbalat Yom Tov? Why wouldn't we greet the holiday?

Answer

Kabbalas Shabbos was primarily instituted in the sixteenth century by great kabbalastic sages. It reflects the sentiment found in the Gemara that many great sages would go out to greet the Shabbos Queen. (SHabbos 119a) There is no mention of a Yom Tov Queen in classic literature and this reflects some very deep spiritual and mystical understandings of the nature of these days. Just as a few points to recognize. Shabbos is considered the day of rest from the regular work week and the time to reap the benefits of our labor, while Yom Tov does not commemorate that idea as some actions are permissible on Yom Tov. In this capacity, Shabbos also is symbolic of the Olam Habah when we will reap the benefits of that which we worked for throughout history. Additionally, Yom Tov's holiness comes when we determine because the Jewish nation is charged with regulating the calendar. As such, its holiness is coming because we are "forcing" it. Shabbos' holiness comes independently and on "her own terms." Thus, we may go out to greet the guest that has chosen to visit.

Question

When the baal koreh says Chazak, Chazak, V'neeschazaik, does he look in to the torah or away like when we say the first bracha in an aliyah so it doesnt look like he's reading those words from the sefer torah?

Answer

The two are pretty much identical in reasoning. Therefore, since everyone knows that these words are not written in the Torah itself, so it is not required to look away. However, it would be appropriate to either look away or close one's eyes while saying them if possible. (See Mishna Berurah 139:17-19)

Question

In regards to Hilchos Shmiras Halashon is one allowed to speak about children not for a constructive purpose?

Answer

The laws of lashon hara apply equally regardless of age. One may not speak negatively of a child just like they may not speak negatively about an adult.

Question

The corner of my tallis katan tore all the way to the end of the beged but did not tear thru. Thus. the tzitzis are all still tied properly but are (excuse me) hanging literally by a thread. Can I just sew up the beged to its original state and not have to undo the tzitzis because they are still attached?

Answer

You may, but make sure to use a thread that could in no way be mistaken for a tzitzis thread if it were to loosen at all.

Question

I am a diabetic and my doctor wants me to record my blood sugar readings for the next 2 weeks. What do I do about Shabbos as far as using the digital meter and writing it down?

Answer

One must always make sure to be in contact with both his Rav and medical professionals when determining what can and should be done on Shabbos and Yom Tov. As a general rule, if one ever thinks that his condition could be life threatening then it is important for him to receive treatment immediately and err on the side of caution with regard to his health. When it comes to glucometers, there are many times when one is permitted to use them on Shabbos. In such cases he should have a gentile turn it on or turn it on in an indirect manner. It would be important for you to discuss your personal case with a Rav in detail to see what is permissible for you. The same determination will need to be made with regard to writing. (See Nishmas Avraham O.C. 286)

Question

If one has a kosher meat sandwich on a plane, while sitting next to a non-Jew. If he goes to wash to wash and comes back to see the sandwich where he left it, open, may he eat it?

Answer

Obviously you are familiar with a story attributed to a tremendous Talmid Chacham and Tzaddik from these areas. The story certainly attests to the high standard that this individual lived his life by which in many circumstances may have been above and beyond just keeping to the letter of the law. There are two issues that need to be addressed when discussed unattended meat. The first is a rabbinic decree that an animal replaced the original meat with a new piece. In your case I assume the person found his sandwich in the exact location in which it was left, so this is not applicable. (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 63 1-2) The other issue would be whether one must assume a person has tampered with his sandwich. In a situation where the other people are not suspect because they either have their own food which is of similar quality or if the person who owns the sandwich can return at any moment and catch the sandwich burglar, then there is no prohibition and he may enjoy his sandwich. If one were to mark the meat with an identifiable mark then that would be sufficient as well. Customarily meat is wrapped in two wrappings to ensure the above. I am copying the text of an earlier question (found at the bottom of this column) which may be of assistance in understanding these laws. The question there was of someone who had meat delivered to their home and the deliverer placed it between the front door and the screen. The recipient found the package later in the day: Basar Shenisalem min Ha'ayin is a rabbinic decree that means that meat that was out of sight for a duration of time is assumed to be non-kosher. Chazal deemed that it is possible an animal took the original piece of kosher meat and replaced it with another non-kosher piece. There are many leniencies that can be used to circumvent this problem. Customarily the meat is double sealed ensuring it is the original piece. Although this is the custom, if, as is possibly your case, the meat was not sealed appropriately, there may still be grounds for leniency. If the meat found was in the original location that it was placed then one MAY eat the meat (this sounds like it applies to your case). An animal would not replace the meat back in the exact location. Or, if one who saw the meat originally recognizes this to be the same piece(s) based on a "siman", defined feature, or a general recognition, then the meat MAY be assumed to be the original kosher meat (this also may apply to your case). I am guessing that the meat was still wrapped in the original way it was placed between the doors which also counts as a "siman" since an animal would not do this (although if the package was tampered with it may show that foul play was involved). The above applies to situations where no human is suspected of foul play (as would be the case in between your doors, unless tampering with the packaging was noticed), so, providing at least one of the above requirements was met, enjoy the franks in blankets and have a wonderful Shabbos! (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 63 1-2)

Question

Is Netilas Yadayim required subsequent to shaving (whether in the case of a man or a woman) as it is required subsequent to a haircut?

Answer

Men and women should wash their hands after haircuts or shaving.

Question

Does the halacha of Basar She'nis'aleim Min Ha'Ayin apply to turkey and chicken meat? And does taping closed a foil wrapping around a meat sandwich suffice to avoid the issue (e.g., leaving in fridge at work from morning til lunch time)?

Answer

Yes it applies to fowl. If everyone in your workplace is not suspect of taking the meat or if your taping is done in such a way that if tampered with it will be obvious then it is permissible. If you scroll to the bottom of this section I believe one of the first questions asked had been about basar shenisalem and I believe there is more detail there.

Question

With Lag B'Omer falling on Shabbos, can I shave & get a haircut on Friday l'kavod Shabbos, or do I have to wait until Sunday?

Answer

You may shave and take a haircut lekavod Shabbos this year on the Friday prior to Lag BaOmer since Lag BaOmer is on a Sunday.

Question

when Yom Ha'atzmaut arrives, it is usually celebrated with live music. How can this be justified during sefira?

Answer

As is pretty well known to most people in today's day and age, there is a wide spectrum of opinion as to how to view Yom Ha'atzmaot. At one end are those who view it as a holiday that displays Hashem's might and the establishment of the State of Israel which some feel displays the beginnings of the realization of Mashiach. Those with this view see this day as a display of a tremendous Kiddush Hashem and feel the need to express gratitude to Hashem for this kindness. At the other end are those that view it as a secular institution that was established by people who did not believe in Hashem and were trying to establish a Jewish state with the purpose of helping maintain and solidify a Jewish identity that was devoid of Torah and mitzvos. Although much Torah observance thrives in Eretz Yisrael subsequent to this establishment, those with the latter view feel it inappropriate to celebrate a day that, in their opinion, commemorates one of the biggest Chillul Hashems ever. Those that take the former view, or on part of the spectrum close to it, view it as a holiday and, as such, have festive activities. As is quite clear, people on both ends feel very passionate about their views and therefore I would suggest that one should consult his personal Rav for guidance with regards to this very delicate situation.

Question

I missed counting sefirah so i can no longer say it with a bracha. If I'm already not allowed to say the bracha, why even bother counting in the day without a bracha?

Answer

It is still very necessary to count even if you are unable to count with a bracha. There is a dispute as to whether each day's count is an independent segment of the mitzvah or whether the mitzvah is to have a count of the entire 49 days. It is out of deference to the opinion that the entire count is one big mitzvah that we employ the rule that when in doubt do not make a bracha if one missed a day since according to this opinion if one missed a day he will not fulfill the mitzvah that year. Nevertheless, the opinion that each day is a separate mitzvah is a valid (and very popular) opinion. Thus, it is important to continue counting.

Question

When one is sitting shiva, Rachmana litzlan, must they stand up when their rebbe enters the room?

Answer

The regular rules of honoring one's Rebbi are not suspended however an avail does not stand even if the Nasi were to walk in. (Rema Y.D. 376:1)

Question

What does a person who has a catheter inserted do about the bracha of asher yatzar?

Answer

The bracha of asher yatzar is only recited after using the bathroom in the normal fashion.

Question

Even though it is after Pesach, I would like to be prepared for next year, IYH. My question is, if I finish using certain pots and pans, or my mixer during Chol Hamoed and I am not planning on using them again, can I put them away then, as opposed to waiting until Motzei Yom Tov?

Answer

Yes, you may.

Question

I am currently holding sefirah until lag b'omer; can i attend a chasunah that is being held before rosh chodesh?

Answer

Yes, you may.

Question

Is one permitted to listen to music during Seffira for excersize purposes?

Answer

Before I answer this question please let me first thank Baltimore Jewish Life and its wonderful staff for the beautiful announcement/story of my son's recent birth. I also need to apologize because I was unable to check this section Erev Shabbos when your shayloh apparently arrived late in the day since Shabbos was approaching and I was setting up for the Shalom Zachor which was made beautiful by the absolutely fantastic people of this amazing community. Now, regarding your question, there are many Rabbanim who permit listening to music so long as its purpose is in order to facilitate the ability to exercise and that it is not being listened to for enjoyment. One needs to make an intellectually honest decision in all such cases. Good luck with your workout!

Question

Why do we need lechem mishna on Yom Tov?

Answer

There are Midrashim that maintain that the manna did not fall on Yom Tov just like it did not fall on Shabbos. Thus, a double portion was received from heaven the day before. Although there are other Midrashim that disagree, the custom is to have lechem mishna on Yom Tov, as well. (See Tosefos Beitzah 2b)

Question

Should school tuition aid committees, or loan funds as well, take into consideration the applicant's obligation to give maaser? Isn't it still required by them? Are the fund "overseers" allowed to tell you to stop paying maaser to other charities and use it for your tuition or whatever you need the loan for? I had always assumed it's a totally separate thing & that it's a chutzpah to tell a parent not to give maaser or tzedakah if they can't afford full tuition.

Answer

Everyone is obligated to give maaser. However, certain expenditures may be deducted from maaser and some may not. I cannot comment about tuition committees and their policies as I do not serve on any such board. Such an issue should be taken to the rabbinic council that oversees such matters. It is notable that in certain circumstances tuition may be deducted from maaser and it does stand to reason that there is some level of priority to cases like these since you are a beneficiary of the services of the school. It is logical that one's maaser be given to an institution from which you are asking od that institution to provide services. Why should they provide the service for free? However, as mentioned above, not everyone can use maaser for tuition and I cannot comment on specific cases since I am not on the board of any of these institutions. I recommend consulting your personal rav for guidance in your specific situation.

Question

what about the chometz in fridge?

Answer

The halachos from the last question are equally pertinent. A sizeable area must be cordoned off and partitioned. A mere covering with a sheet is insufficient. If this will cause financial loss, it may be worth finding out which perishable products contain actual chametz and which might only be kitniyos.

Question

Do I have to cover my sold chometz to avoid the problem of �Lo Yiraeh�? I always thought �Lo yimatse� and �Lo yiraeh� is only when you legally own the chometz. When my chometz are sold to a goy and the place is rented out, it�s not halachakly my possession and I don�t have to cover it. There may be other reasons that it needs to be covered though

Answer

Even just covering sold chametz is not allowed. Although there is no biblical prohibition of having a gentile's chametz in one's home, there is a rabbinic prohibition to leave it out or even just cover it. One must cordone off an area halachically and have the chametz on the other side (I.e. a makeshift wall that is at least 30 inches high and also tied at the bottom or a closet designated for chametz). Since people are comfortable with eating food in their own homes and chametz is eaten throughout the year, Chazal did not want someone to forget and eat this chametz. Just covering it is specifically mentioned as being unacceptable. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 440:2)

Question

My son has a guinea pig as a pet. Is it permissable to pet her on Shabbos/Yom Tov?

Answer

I know the following is not popular with pet owners, but unfortunately not. Pets, as well as all animals, are considered muktzah. There are permissible ways to walk or move an animal, but they are only when it is necessary for the well being of the animal. Petting or playing is not such an activity. Pet owners should consult their rav to recognize what can and cannot be done with regards to proper care for their pets on Shabbos and Yom Tov. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 308:39-40 and Mishna Berurah's commentary as well as Biur Halacha 302)

Question

Dear Rabbi, This is a serious, although possibly a trick, question: If s congregant is learning daf yomi (e.g.) during chazaras hashatz, and a m'shulach approaches him for a donation, is he obligated to interrupt his learning to give tzdakah?

Answer

One should listen to every word of Chazaras HaShatz and not be disturbed with other things even if they are mitzvos. The Shulchan Aruch uses uncharacteristically harsh language when discussing one who talks during this time. The Mishna Berurah mentions that one who learns during this time is acting improperly and is going to cause others to sin as well. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 124 and Mishna Berurah's commentary) As such, the learner should not be learning then and the collector should not be collecting and disturbing others. Assuming they chose to anyway, the decision is no different than if one is approached to give tzedakah while learning. Since this is a mitzvah no one else can do then he should briefly pause and give the tzedakah.

Question

What is the earliest time one can start the seder? We have some elderly people coming who can't wait until midnight to eat the meal, which is usually the time we start eating. Can they eat earlier?

Answer

Perhaps you may want to consider speeding things up a bit at your seder. While there are very reputable rabbanim that have earlier times, in America the mainstream custom is not start the seder until 42 minutes after sunset. This year (5771/2011) that would mean starting at 8:29 in Baltimore. You may want to read through the Haggadah with minimal interruption in order to get to the meal in an efficient time. Those that wish to add to the seder and have a nice long seder can discuss their wonderful divrei torah and be mesaper biyetzias mitzrayim during and after the meal. If this is not feasible then those that need to eat earlier can read the Haggadah at a quicker pace and eat earlier than the rest of you. Please recognize that one's afikomen and even hallel should be finished prior to astronomical midnight which is at 1:06 this year.

Question

RE: bicycle on shabbos: so within the eruve, there is no real melocho involved. just "sanctity of the day". Is it muktsa? can it be moved around (without riding it)?

Answer

Like muktzah or going to work and conducting business activities, there is no violation of the 39 melachos although there is a definite prohibition. Thus, the bicycle would be considered a vessel whose usage is prohibited (a form of muktzah) and is prohibited to move unless you are using its space for something else or if you use it for something permissible (although I cannot think of such a use for a bicycle offhand).

Question

What's the issur of riding bicycle or tricycle on shabbos with regards to children or adults? with or without eruv.

Answer

Outside of an eruv both activities would be prohibited as it is considered carrying. Inside an eruv one can differentiate between bicycles and children's tricycles. One may not ride a bicycle (even a child's) as it is considered to be going against the sanctity of the day. Children may use tricycles since adults do not ride such vehicles. However, in some areas the populace has prohibited the use of tricycles and in those places one should not allow his children to use them on Shabbos. (Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasah vol. 1 16:17)

Question

If I'm cleaning my kitchen countertops for Pesach with tremendous "elbow grease," why must I cover them?

Answer

Food/Chametz is halachically considered to have absorbed into a pot or even countertop when certain conditions exist. These include but are not limited to when heat is a factor, something is spicy or sharp, or it sits there for a duration of time. Regular cleaning will not effectively remove the absorbed material as it only cleans the surface. Therefore, in order to remove the absorbed Chametz from the pot/countertop kashering must be done. Since this is not able to be done on many types of countertops (other than stone such as marble or granite), covering the countertop is the preferred method.

Question

Is it possible to kasher a charcoal grill for Pesach?

Answer

Yes. It must be completely cleaned and then you can blowtorch it until it is red hot. Coals may be used instead of a blowtorch but, once again, it must become red hot (literally). Please use caution both in the use of the blowtorch and in handling the grill which will be extremely hot and dangerous.

Question

I'm pretty sure it's a Rashi in Chumash

Answer

No, it is not. You may find interest in the Yaavetz to that Gemara in Megillah that I mentioned, though (6b).

Question

I seem to recall a Rashi that says that Amalek is Germany, or it may have been Eisav or Edom. I believe the wording is "zeh Germania". Can you tell me please if I am remembering correctly and where it is exactly?

Answer

I believe you are actually referring to a Gemara in Megillah (6b) which defines a very cruel nation from Eisav's offspring. The Gemara refers to it as Germamia and many throughout the ages have suggested this to be Germany and this offspring as being Amalek.

Question

I came late to Maariv and davened shmoneh esray with the tzibbur. Afterward, when i davened Maariv , since I already said shmoneh esray, did I need to say Baruch Hashem L'olam?

Answer

There is a debate as to what is the purpose of Baruch Hashem LeOlam of Maariv. Based on some of the reasons one would have to still say it even if he has already recited Shemonah Esrei and based on others he would not. The Mishna Berurah recommends that one recite it in this situation BUT he should omit the ending bracha part (Baruch Ata Hashem, etc.).

Question

Is there a practical difference between missing a davening and skipping a davening?For example, let's say I'm falling asleep at 6pm, and maariv is at 8pm at the earliest. If I tell myself there's no way I can make it until 8pm, can I say I'll just say 2 shemoneh esrai's in the morning or is that considered as if i purposely skipped it? Isn't the "make-up" shemoneh esrai only if you accidentally missed it?

Answer

A make up Shemonah Esrei is technically only if the original one was missed due to duress. Although that is the case generally it is the practice to say an extra Shemonah Esrei as an optional prayer even when the one missed was not due to duress. Instead of telling yourself that you won't be able to make it till Maariv which is very questionable at best, it would be better to try as hard as you can to stay up and if you fall asleep against your will and miss it then it will certainly be considered duress. Don't sell yourself short!!!

Question

What is the earliest time a person can daven maariv? If he is feeling very sleepy and can't stay up until then, is it better to daven before the time or to just not daven maariv at all?

Answer

There are three issues that need to be addressed with this question. 1. Shemonah Esrei 2. The brachos of Krias Shema and 3. Krias Shema itself. There is an unresolved debate in the Gemara if the time period between Plag HaMincha and sunset is nighttime or daytime for the purposes of davening. Preferably, one should conduct himself in a consistent fashion throughout his lifetime by considering this time as either day or night for the purposes of Shemonah Esrei. As such, if one always davens Mincha's Shemonah Esrei after Plag he should not ever daven Maariv during this time and should wait until after sunset (many are lenient on days when one is accepting Shabbos or Yom Tov, though). That being the case, if there is an extreme situation then one may daven Maariv during this time, but should make sure that THAT DAY Mincha was recited prior to Plag. The above addresses Shemonah Esrei, when it comes to the brachos of Krias Shema it is a little more complex. Based on the Gemara and Rishonim (and even Shulchan Aruch and early Poskim) in the beginning of Brachos, it seems that one may never recite the brachos of Krias Shema prior to sunset. Although that seems to be the case, the common practice is to recite them if one is davening Shemonah Esrei at that time as well (providing it is after Plag). This practice, although common, is very questionable and some refrain from doing so and instead, if davening Shemonah Esrei prior to sunset, will not recite the brachos of Krias Shema until after sunset. Regarding Krias Shema, it is not prohibited to recite it too eary, however, one cannot fulfill his obligation until after Tzeis HaKochavim. So, even if Krias Shema was recited early, one would need to repeat it later. The earlier recitation is considered to be learning Torah and not a fulfillment of Krias Shema. For definitions of Plag HaMincha and Tzeis HaKochavim consult a reputable zmanim chart since these times vary throughout the year.

Question

I am an orthodox Jew and have been wondering about the specific halachos of the mikveh... 1. How many times does a male dip 3,5,7,10...I have heard all... 2. Who is one NOT allowed to be in the mikvah/changing room with - since we don't have a concept of a 'rebbe muvak' now a days does a rav fall under this catagory? How about an rebbe-chaver that one asks advice from constantly? Or what about a rebbe for for life or a previous rebbe that one is still close with? Father, Father-in-law, brother-in-law,... I don' want to just get my feet wet...I would like to get real deep into the issue! :}!

Answer

For any halachic requirement that mandates one to go to the mikveh, one dip is necessary. Upon leaving the water one has completed his task of going to the mikveh. For mystical reasons many dip several times and there are varying customs although the more prevalent are 3 or 7. The Gemara in Pesachim (51a) mentions that there are several people that a man should not bathe with. Included in bathing is going to the mikveh. This statement is recorded by the Rema (Even HaEzer 23:6) but he mentions that in today's age if people are not completely nude then the custom is to permit bathing with the list of people. The list includes: one's father, brother, his mother's husband and his sister's husband. The Beis Shmuel mentions that the Gemara also mentioned one's father in law or rebbi. (Even HaEzer 23:5) However, regarding one's rebbi, the prohibition is only if the rebbi was there first. One should display respect to anyone from whom he has learned significant Torah from, even in the past, to the degree that they have what one would consider a rebbi/talmid relationship.

Question

CAN WE BRUSH ARE TEETH AND RINSE OUR MOUTH ON FAST DAYS?

Answer

I was asked once before regarding mouthwash on a fast and responded that one should not. However, I would like to clarify that that was only in a case where there is no discomfort. If it is causing one discomfort then he may rinse with mouthwash since mouthwash is not normally swallowed. The same is true with brushing teeth. THE ABOVE DOES NOT APPLY TO TIHSA B'AV AND YOM KIPPUR. (See Mishna Berurah 567:11)

Question

It seems there are various definitions when listening and classifying classical music during Avelut is concerned. My concern is that experimental music or music that is not mainstream or performed live can be heard privately on an iPod. Is this a problem when using public transportation or traveling as a salesman between retailers?

Answer

Listening to something on an iPod with earphones, or any device for that matter, is still considered listening privately. Please note that I am answering your sepcific question of how to define listening to that device and not with the overall permissibility of music during mourning. Regarding that, there are many opinions and it is important to speak to your personal Rav who is familiar with you personally in order to address those concerns.

Question

We are being told that Japan was physically moved by the earthquake-does that their mean that zmanim would be affected in any way?

Answer

Zmanim are mainly a function of the sun's apparent motion. Since that varies based on latitude and even longitude, if an area would move relative to the rest of the earth then its zmanim would shift. It would take much more movement to make a noticeable shift, though.

Question

Can I give you Shalach Manos now and have you be "m'kabail" it on Purim so I can be m'kayaim the mitzvah even tho I'll be out of town and unable to give on Purim day?

Answer

If you wish, prior to Purim you can appoint a shaliach (agent) to give me shalach manos on Purim since your agent will do the act of giving on Purim. There is doubt if you fulfill your obligation if you sent it prior to Purim and it reached me on Purim since the act of giving began prior to Purim (unlike the first case where the act of giving did not begin until Purim). (See Aruch HaShulchan O.C. 695:16-17) In your case the entire act of giving happened prior to Purim, it is only the receiving the happened on Purim, so unfortunately it will not work.

Question

Is it permitted to use maaser money to help the victims of the disaster in Japan on the basis that some could be Jews?

Answer

One can fulfill the commandment of giving charity by helping others regardless of whether the recipient is Jewish. Thus, maaser money could be used regardless of whether some of the recipients were Jewish or not. HOWEVER, there are those in need that receive halachic priority. The poor and needy in one's own city take priority over those in other locations. Other factors that may affect priority are whether the recipient is related and if he is Jewish. The best way to give tzedakah is to follow the halachic listing of priotity and to give accordingly.

Question

If someone puts a chicken in the bag that is hot and the bag is sealed, into the sink directly, does it treife up the chicken? what about if the chicken/meat is in a pot or pan? I was told that the tarfus of the sink goes thru to the meat itself.

Answer

There are many factors that need to be considered such as if the sink was on. Was it wet? How hot was this bag? How was it heated? When was the last time the sink was used? For what? Generally it is difficult to actually treif up things in this fashion, but it is important to look and see what factors are pertinent to your individual question.

Question

I've heard conflicting ideas about the inyan of not sleeping with your head to the door, as that is how a Meis is brought out of a room. An adam choshuv told me that I do not need to worry about that, but others say they thought for sure you have to be concerned. What are your thoughts on this?

Answer

I am not overly concerned with it.

Question

a widow has to cover her hair?

Answer

That's what it says in Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer (21:2, also see Chelkas Mechokek 21:2 and Beis Shmuel 21:4)

Question

Questions asked of the Rabbi today will be responded to late next week.

Answer

Approximately March 10th. Thank you for your patience.

Question

In Terumah Hashem tells Moshe to cast gold into a fire and Rashi explains the word "Taaseha" as it made itself. He brings a medrash that since Moshe was confused Hashem told Moshe to cast it in the fire and it will make itself.In V'yakhel it says he (Bezalel) made the menorah and all the flowers, cups etc. I asked a notable Torah scholar and he said there is a machlokes if the oil cups also made of gold were one piece and maybe Bezalel finished it by making those as according to the Rambam they were not attached. He also said Rashi in Terumah is trying to explain the word "Taaseha" and using the medrash to explain. Problem is that in Vayakhel it says very clearly Bezalel made the menorah and the flowers cups etc.

Answer

Excellent questions! In fact, the classic commentaries to Rashi are bothered by exactly these issues. Perhaps one of the earliest and most famous commentators on Rashi is the Mizrachi (Re'em). He cites various Gemaras and Midrashim to resolve this matter. He concludes that Moshe was shown and commanded to make the Menorah but was unable to do it. Hashem then told him to go to Betzalel and he would do it. Betzalel threw the gold into the fire and out came the Menorah. The act of his throwing it into the fire is considered his action of making it, but since it came about somewhat on its own is why it is discussed as happening by itself. I personally would just like to point out that the commands throughout Terumah are often stated to Moshe that "You" should do something, yet, we see others (like Betzalel), were delegated to perform the task. Without utilizing Midrash, I think one would conclude that "you" either does not mean Moshe but the Jewish Nation (as is the case in the 10 Dibros) or that Moshe was charged with overseeing everything but was allowed to subcontract.

Question

Why do we have black stripes on our tzitzis beged

Answer

The Ashkenazic custom to have stripes on the talis is to display that we are missing techeilis. It seems that the custom in many places was to have blue stripes and also to have a blue border on the edge of the talis. (Pri Megadim Aishel Avraham 9:7, also see Mishna Berurah 9:16) Over time the custom evolved to display black stripes since black is a sign of mourning.

Question

I heard that some maintain eggplants are not kosher, could this be?

Answer

Most times people do not think of a possibility of a fruit or vegetable being not kosher. However, there have been those that have suggested this as a possibility with regard to the eggplant. Produce grown from a tree (meaning you would make the bracha of ha'eitz) is considered to be arlah for the first three years. This produce is not allowed to be eaten. The way eggplants grow, it is unlikely that the plant will survive long enough not to be considered arlah IF it is considered to grow on a tree. However, common practice is not to consider this plant as a tree and it therefore is exempt from arlah and the bracha is ha'adama. (See Radvaz 966) It is of note that there are those who maintain that if a tree will not be able to survive until such time that its fruit are not arlah then it is exempt from arlah, as well.

Question

Your answer for a woman saying Kaddish of it being ok as long as she says when men say it's ok puzzled me. What would the purpose be if no one hears her? (I'm going to assume no one except that man next to the mechitza heard her.) Doesn't Kaddish have to be answered to in order to be valid?

Answer

Although there are some questions one can ask regarding Rav Henkin's ruling, it is important to recognize that he was one of the foremost Poskim of the time. Assuming none of the men heard her, it would be no different than a man saying Kaddish somewhat quietly while the other men were saying it loudly. Many rabbanim follow Rav Henkin's opinion in this matter.

Question

When does a person keep Yahrzeit when his or her parent died in a regular Adar and now there are two Adars?

Answer

Sefardim observe it in the second Adar and Ashkenazim in the first. However, many Ashkenazim take a strict approach and observe it in both. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 568:7 and Magen Avraham 568:20)

Question

What is the halacha of a woman saying Kaddish? Can she say it loud with the men? If not, but because I may be within earshot am I allowed to or should I answer? Does it accomplish the same thing as when a man says it? Do we allow it just to make the woman feel like she observed the mourning period?

Answer

Many rabbanim follow Rav Henkin zt"l's opinion and permit a woman to recite kaddish from her side of the mechitzah so long as a man is saying kaddish at that minyan.

Question

Regarding the alarm clock post, please post the source for this ruling. Everyone I know holds it is muktza and can not be moved at all. Now that you have stated a ruling of the opposite, I wonder what else is allowed to be moved now. Perhaps we have been misinformed, but I believe most of us assume if it's not needed for Shabbos, or if it has any type of motor or electrical/battery operation, it is muktza. So if you child puts a flashlight on the dining room table, too bad for us until after Shabbos.

Answer

My pleasure, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l. (Igros Moshe O.C. vol. 5:23) The function of these items is not prohibited and the fact that they have electricity running through them does not prohibit their use. You may move the flashlight from the table in your example. Even if you wished to be stringent and call these items muktzeh you would still be able to move the flashlight from the table as, at worst, it would be considered a vessel designated for a prohibited use and you may move it to use its place. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 308 for more details) Either way, as Rav Feinstein points out, clocks and even lights, are considered vessels whose use is for permittted use and one may move them on Shabbos.

Question

How much water obligates one to say a Borei Nefashos? (E.g. does a quick sip from a water fountain ever qualify?). How long does one have to say the beracha?

Answer

There is dispute between the Rishonim if drinking a revi'is of liquid obligates one to say a bracha achrona or if it is a kazayis. Therefore we do not make a bracha achrona unless one drinks a revi'is (which is the larger of the two). Because of the dispute it is preferable not to drink an amount between a kazayis and a revi'is. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 210:1) Compounding this issue is that there are many opinions as to what constitutes a kazayis or revi'is. Practically, one should not make a bracha achrona unless he drinks just over three ounces of liquid. Ideally he should not drink between .65 of an ounce and just over three ounces because of the dispute. The above does not apply to bracha rishona which is said on any amount. Regarding how long one has after eating to say the bracha, if one's thirst was fully quenched (or he was full from eating) then he has until he becomes thirsty (or hungry) again. If the initial drinking (eating) did not fully satisfy him then he has the amount of time it takes to walk 4 mil. This is generally assumed to be a total of 72 minutes. (Mishna Berurah 184:20) For more discussion of how long it takes to walk a mil please see my Tiferes Aryeh Zevachim chapter 30.

Question

Is it mutar to move an alarm clock on Shabbos? (e.g. when it goes off, are you allowed to place it under a pillow to block the sound from waking up others?) May you move it back afterwards?

Answer

So long as you do not unplug it or hit the buttons to shut it off then it is fine to cover it with pillows or move it. I know people who put it in the freezer (which is airtight) after it goes off (if it is battery operated). We all know how annoying it can be when a clock goes off and then you cannot fall back asleep; at that point even the slightest sound from it seems like a loud siren. You may put it back afterwards if you so desire. Good luck.

Question

How should a man in a workplace deal with the situation of a woman putting out her hand to shake? This has happened to me, and sometimes it's simply not possible to explain that "we don't do that" without making it extremely awkward and potentially creating unwanted tensions towards a higher-level employee or employer. Please advise.

Answer

This is a very common issue that occurs for almost everyone in the business world. There is a wide range of thought as how to deal with such a situation and many poskim opine that personal circumstances are a major determining factor. As such, a public format like this one is not the place to discuss this issue. Feel free to give me a call and we can discuss this question in more detail.

Question

I know that this year is a leap year and has two months of Adar. Does this happen every four years like February 29?

Answer

No, it does not. The Earth completes a full orbit around the Sun approximately every 365 and one quarter days. The secular calendar tries to stay in sync with this, but the fact that there is a fraction of a day leftover every year does not allow for an equal amount of days for every year. Since it is approximately .25 of a day leftover every year, by adding an extra day every four years solves the problem. (Since it is actually just less than .25 of a day more regulation is really needed, so every 100 years we do not add a February 29 even though it is a multiple of 4. However, even this is not completely accurate so every 400th year we add a February 29 even though it is a multiple of 100, meaning in 1900 there was no February 29, but in 2000 there was. This is called the Gregorian Calendar.) Our calendar has the months being dependent on the cycles of the moon with the years remaining solar years so our Yomim Tovim occur in the proper season. (Rambam Kiddush HaChodesh 1:1) Since there are not 12 lunar cycles in a solar year we also have a regulated lunisolar calendar that has fairly accurate intercalation. We have nineteen year cycles of which 7 are leap years. Leap years occur in years 3,6,8,11,14,17 and 19.

Question

I hate to be a pain here, but I am hearing some of these things for the first time, and it all seems to be so very contrary to what I was taught, and what I believe our children are being taught even today. This is from a recent blog exchange I had:R' Yochanan said in the name of R' Bena'ah, "The Torah was given scroll by scroll." R' Shimon ben Lakish (Reish Lakish) said, "The Torah was given sealed." R' Yochanan is definately saying the Torah was given episode, by episode. According to Rashi Reish Lakish is saying almost the same thing, ie, is not implying that the entire Torah was given all at once on Mt. Sinai, but rather, as each passage was told to Moses, Moses wrote it down at the end of the 40 years of travel through the desert, Moses compiled them and sewed them all together (s.v. megillah megillah nitnah). Megillah 31b says that the curses in Deut. 28:16-68 were said by Moshe on his own. Ramban: "When Moses came down from the mountain, he wrote from the beginning of the Torah until the end of the story of the Tabernacle, and the conclusion of the Torah he wrote at the end of the fortieth yearâ�æthis is according to the one who says the Torah was given scroll by scroll. But according to the one who says it was given complete, the entire thing was written in the 40th year" (Ramban, preface to his Torah commentary). Rashbam: Vayikra/ Leviticus was not given on Mount Sinai but in the wilderness of Sinai, in the portable Tent of Meeting (commentary on Numbers 1:1)This is TOTALLY not what I was taught. I was taught, and I am quite sure others as well, that the ENTIRE Torah, from verse 1 to the end of Dvarim, was given to Moshe on Sinai during the 40 days he was there. I recall a medrash about the letters all being pushed together and miraculously separating as each event occurred as well.Whats going on over here? Am I to believe that it was only the 10 commandments given at Sinai now?

Answer

You are not being a pain whatsoever. It would be wonderful if everyone was excited and inquisitive about learning. My only concern is that for these types of questions this format can be very limiting and time consuming. Besides the lack of face to face communication, there is also severe limitation that I am often unable to get to a computer to respond until much later in the day. When there is an immediate practical application of halacha I often try and get to a computer sooner, but with situations like these I am often unable to do so. This creates unnecessary gaps in the "conversation" and follow ups are often forgotten. I still think it is in your best interests to speak in person about these types of topics. In the meantime, let me address your current questions. All the mitzvos were given at Har Sinai EVEN if it was all written in the fortieth year. If you look at the first Ramban in Parshas Behar you will see that he agrees to that even if he himself incorporates the opinion that the entire Torah was written in the fortieth year. The mitzvos were all given at Sinai, the only debate is when Moshe WROTE them down in the form of a scroll! This is something explicitly debated in the Gemara and most Yeshiva students are familiar with it as it is discussed in many standard sugyos of the standard Yeshiva cycle (i.e. See Yevamos 4a and Rav Betzalel Ranshborg's annotations on the side of the Gemara). None of these sources are stating that the mitzvos were not all given at Sinai, they are merely discussing when they were physically written on parchment. I was under the impression that this concept was well taught in Yeshivos. Regarding the difference between Mishneh Torah (Devarim) and the other books, this too is discussed and I was under the impression taught in Yeshivos. Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy surpassed that of any prophet that ever was or will be. As a nation we witnessed him receiving prophecy and we therefore know with 100% certainty that he is a prophet of Hashem. He, therefore, is the only prophet capable of giving the mitzvos of the Torah. (Rambam Yesodai HaTorah 7-9) The different description of how Moshe Rabbeinu wrote Sefer Devarim is not so much the level of prophecy through which it was written, but with how the prophecy was transmitted. The level of prophecy was that highest and clear level that only Moshe Rabbeinu attained. The way many describe the difference in transmittal is that the first four books were given as if Hashem were speaking through Moshe's throat. This fifth book was given with the same level of prophecy, but given to Moshe and then he wrote the words down exactly as they were given to him. (See Tosefos in the sugyah you quoted me Megillah 31b which I assume was left out in the blog you were reading) Obviously, Hashem was demonstrating the appearance as if it were coming from Moshe by changing the method of transmittal even if the level of prophecy was identical and the words originally came from Hashem. It seems that some of these blogs you may find interest in are not quoting all the sources. Had they quoted one of the most famous Rambans (the first in Behar, the one that quotes the extremely famous phrase, "Mah Inyan Shmittah LeInyan Har Sinai," alongside the other Ramban in the introduction then the answer would have been clearer), or had they made a quick mention to Tosefos (ON THE DAF THEY CITED), perhaps, some more clarity would have been seen. I am hoping the lack of scholarship comes from ignorance and is not deliberate, but either way it is not helpful to you the earnest learner. As I said earlier, I would recommend speaking in person with someone who is familiar with these topics and who is not biased. I would strongly recommend against reading whatever blogs you are reading as they do not seem comprehensive in their scholarship and the only thing worse than complete ignorance of a sugyah is their presentation of half the sugyah.

Question

I hear what you are saying. The problem that this "revelation" to me, and I'm sure to others, causes and in fact has caused to those who were already aware of it, is that it most definitely calls into question the authenticity across the board. I have seen myself in certain publications, where people say that if we dont know the exact correct spelling of some words, or the exact vowelization, etc. then maybe we we dont know entire sentences for a certainty. Maybe those who posit the document theories are possibly correct as well. Maybe what we call mesorah is really not mesorah at all, but a conglomeration of many man-made changes over the years to try and recapture what it was, but even now is basically unreliable. I don't say this is an excuse for not following what we have, but others do, and I think I understand why now. I'm just amazed that I got thru 15 years of yeshiva education and never heard any of this before. On the evolution thing, what is the most current Daas Torah on all the "evidence" posited that there was, in fact, and still is, an evolutionary process involved, and that man was not literally created from nothing? Do we dismiss their evidence as nonsense or do we deal with it in some other way?

Answer

It is very important to remain objective and not get caught up in the moment. There is nothing that has been said that calls question to any tenet of our beliefs. It may call into question the accuracy of certain documents and papers that you have read, but it does not mean that if there are variant letters or spellings that do not affect the overall meaning of the text that perhaps there are those that do change it drastically. The only thing that has changed is that you have become aware that there may be some very minor variances. As a demonstration, does the fact that Rashi ordered the scrolls in his tefillin one way and Rabbeinu Tam another call into question that perhaps tefillin could be circular instead of square? If someone never heard of tefillin of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam and for most of his life thought that there has never been a dispute about this item and then one day he finds out, is he to say that if one is in doubt then certainly the whole concept is called into question? No, that would be illogical. Our mesorah is still in tact and, although we concede we may have some variant spellings, our UNBROKEN tradition regarding major variances is still in tact! We know there have been machlokes regarding many items throughout our history and these small nuances in the Sifrei Torah is just an example. In all such cases we apply halacha for practical purposes. Regarding evolution, since Darwin posited his theory this has been a strongly debated area. There have been many approaches as to how to reconcile this with the Creation account in Bereishis. Some try to read evolution into the story and others completely reject it. The main thing to recognize is that our beliefs are NOT based on these matters. If one is not comfortable with any of the answers then, at worst, it would be the same as an unresolved question regarding a passage in Chumash. I touched upon this issue in an earlier answer if you wish to scroll down, although I recommend you speak with someone in person if these matters are disturbing you since this format is severely limiting.

Question

What I am referring to is, among other things, that what I was always taught to believe, from Day 1, is that the Torah scroll itself, the very Torah in my shul, your shul, and as far as I knew every shul is 100% a duplicate of each other, and always has been. That we have not a single doubt whatsoever, that were we to somehow discover the Torah scroll that Moshe himself placed in the Aron Kodesh in the MIshkan, that every letter, every crown on every letter, every dot over any letters that have the dots, etc etc ad infinitum, is exactly unquestionably the same. AND that this is undisputed among every single solitairy Tanna, Amora, Rishon, Acharon, on down to you yourself. Now I find out that even today's Sefardim have a scroll that is not identical to the ones Ashkenazim use! Does nobody but me find this horrifying? Does nobody but me find this cause for serious doubt about the authenticity of every sefer and commentary on Torah?

Answer

I am sorry to say, but I don't think that you were taught correctly when you were young. I also do not see how this calls into question the authenticity of anything, though. It doesn't really prove much if we have variant spellings, we all still have the same ideas, mitzvos and concepts expressed. The Gemara explicitly concluded that the Amoraim were no longer experts in the spelling of all the words in the Torah (many that should have a vav or yud might not and some that should do not). (Kiddushin 30a) The Rema uses this and applies it halachically by stating that a Torah that is either missing a vav or yud, or that has an extra one is not to be placed back in the Aron during Kriyas HaTorah since we are no longer experts in this matter. (Rema O.C. 143:4) You may also want to see Tosefos Zevachim 37b who discuss this matter somewhat. As I mentioned in the previous answer, classic seforim on Safrus (such as the Keses HaSofer) provide many examples as does the Minchas Shai. The styles of writing of different regions has also differed. The Ashkenazic "shin" is more pointy on the bottom than a Sephardic one. The right head of a Tzadi(k) points towards the left in a non-Chassidishe Ashkenazic Sefer, but to the right in Ksav Ari. These are only a few examples, there are plenty more and anyone can go and look in these readily available seforim and see for themselves. None of these affect the meaning of the words or concept, though. I must say, though, that it is a misconception that there is a difference regarding spelling between Ashkenazic and Sephardic Torahs. People think that the word Dakkah is spelled with a Heh in a Sephardic Torah, but an Aleph in an Ashkenazic one, but this is untrue. (Devarim 23:2) In fact, many old Chumashim make a notation that states this. (See older Mikraos Gedolos Devarim 23:2; it doesn't have to be all that old!) However, even in Ashkenazic Torahs it is spelled with a Heh. The mistake comes about because there was a custom a long time ago in a certain Ashkenazic community to spell it with an Aleph. This was not widespread and is not the current custom. The Keses HaSofer mentions that because of this variant spelling, though, if one finds a Torah that has it spelled with an Aleph he should not erase the Aleph and thereby make the Torah pasul in order to write in a Heh. If, however, a sofer is fixing something else in the Torah then he should fix this along with it. (Keses HaSofer Devarim 23:2) This misconception is so widespread that when I took my safrus examination with Rav Heineman, he asked me how I would spell Dakkah in that pasuk because he knew that many make this mistake. I initially ended my answer here, but then realized that I should add an extra point. It is very important to realize that people develop or are sometimes taught misconceptions throughout their lifetimes. Sometimes people believe very strongly in a misconception and when it they finally see that they had this misconception they feel that their entire world is turned upside down and that nothing can be correct! This is not an intellectually honest way of dealing with this type of situation. It is important not to make a knee-jerk reaction, but to think calmly about the true ramifications of what has happened. Why did the initial thought have to be considered integral and just how much has really changed based on the new understanding? In this case I think you will find that there was no need to assume that which you thought and took for granted and that it really isn't integral to the authenticity of Torah and Mitzvos. No reputable person is arguing that there are different mitzvos or Torahs out there, just some minor variances in the text that do not affect the overall outcome.

Question

I have reading some other Judaism blogs lately, and have come across some things that I find disturbing at best. I am seeing textual quotes & sources, usually famous Chazal, that indicate among other things, ideas about our Mesorah that are radically different than what I was taught and what my children are taught in yeshivas.Specifically, the idea that1) We are not certain that our mesorah is correct2) It is disputed that our Sifrei Torah are not exactly what was given to Moshe Rabbeinu3) That certain Chazal did not believe that the creation story was to be taken literally, and that evolution did, in fact occur.In 50+ years I have NEVER heard of any of this, and I dont know what to make of it. I would like an explanation, no matter how lengthy, tellingme if what I am seeing is absolute apikorsis, or is actually divrei Chazal that we have never been told.

Answer

I apologize, but I do not frequent blogs and am therefore not qualified to comment about what they are saying. I also do not know who you are or what type of schooling you received when you were young. Therefore, I do not know what you are reading, nor do I know how that differs from what you or your children have been taught. I will try to do my best, however, based on the limited information given, to provide answers to all the points you raised. Before I begin let me state that it is very important for one to look sources up personally. Often times people project their own interpretations into things, misquote, quote out of context, or even maliciously attribute things to people who had never said them. By looking these items up for yourself you will gain understanding of what actually exists in the text being cited AND you will be able to see it in context. If you still find the text offensive or confusing I would then encourage you to discuss the subject matter with a competent Rav. You may find that certain authors have an agenda and somehow see everything through biased glasses. If you find this to be the case you will probably not want to read his writings. Now, regarding your three points, I do not know what you mean when you state that our Mesorah might not be accurate. This is a very vague statement. We know that Hashem gave us the Torah at Sinai and that the Oral tradition was given then. There has been significant amounts of debate regarding many halachos and one can open any tractate of Shas and find many disputes in the Mishnayos and the Gemara. Hashem instituted a system to resolve these matters, and yes there are some instances when application of the system was called into question as is the case of Beis Shammai in Yevamos 14a. So, does this mean that our Mesorah is in question? Does it mean that those whose approaches were rejected would question our Mesorah? No, of course not, because they agree that when disputes arise we are to follow the prescribed methods of adequately applying halacha and apply them accordingly. Secondly, I am also not 100% sure when you mention that our Sifrei Torah may not be the same as the one given to Moshe Rabbeinu. As stated by the Rambam (Peirush HaMishnayos Sanhedrin 10/11), it is an integral belief that our Torah is the same as the one given to Moshe at Sinai. If you are referring to the halachos and application being called into question, that was answered in point number one, if you mean some of the letters in the actual text may be different, then that is a different story. One need only to open the back half of a Keses HaSofer (the prime sefer for many Sofrim that was written by the author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch) to find variant spellings of words that were considered to be accurate in many communities. The Minchas Shai is full of such girsoh problems and the Gemara itself mentions that we are not experts in knowing the correct spelling of all the words and this is reflected by the Rema's ruling that if a word is missing a vav or yud in the Torah that the Torah need not be put back during Kriyas HaTorah. (Kiddushin 30a and Rema O.C. 143:4) Clearly, the Rambam was stating the words of the Torah are the same even if we know that some of the minor spellings may have been disputed. We resolve these matters in the same fashion that was prescribed in ancient times and that has been carried forth up to the present. Regarding your third point, I am not sure what "Chazals" you are talking about. When dinosaurs were being discovered and evolutionists began preaching there have been many who try and read into Chazal's words many things. Many theories have been suggested and ALL claim that they find basis in the words of Chazal. I, therefore, encourage you to look up the citations for yourself and I have a feeling if you are objective you will find what they were truly saying, or at least see if what is being suggested was actually said.

Question

Can you comment on this please?Ibn Ezra (holds 19 psukim were not given from God to Moshe; one of his super commentaries says really it's ok to say that many more psukim were added rashi (per some; debatable, but he does seem to say outright the that tikunei sofrim were actual textual emendations) Radak Tosfot (ha seforim shelonu cholkim I'm hatorah shelonu)

Answer

I was actually asked a similar question several weeks ago regarding the ammending of the Torah by Yehoshua (I have copied and pasted the text of the earlier answer into brackets at the end of this answer). This earlier question is debated by Tanaim and the approach that there are other verses that were added later should, logically, be attributed to the reasoning that was put forth by Rebbi Yehuda. Let me make clear that all we have recorded from Rebbi Yehuda is that the last eight pesukim were authored by Yehoshua, he does not make mention of any other additions nor of any other authors. However, the halachic issue being discussed in that Talmudic passage is also not applicable to these other places, so one cannot deduce what Rebbi Yehuda would say about these other cases. Either way, it clearly does not fit within the reasoning put forth from Rebbi Shimon who disagrees with Rebbi Yehuda and, thus, it is clear that they would reject this approach. It seems that the Ibn Ezra is taking the style of approach of Rebbi Yehuda when he makes these comments. There have been commentaries throughout the ages who have taken this method of interpretation, and there are those (like the Rambam in his halachic works) who do not. The question then arises, in my opinion, did the Ibn Ezra feel that the text read better that way and therefore is commenting to offer the "Peshuto shel Mikrah" opinion, or did he "paskin" like Rebbi Yehuda for some unknown reason. See below for more regarding those possibilities and how, perhaps, the Ibn Ezra may agree with the Rambam. As I stress below, it is important to note that from a practical perspective is it somewhat irrelevant as to who wrote these verses, rather, this is purely academic in nature. [The Gemara cites two opinions regarding the authorship of Sefer Devarim. Rebbi Yehuda is of the opinion that the Sefer was written by Moshe Rabbeinu with the exception of the last eight pesukim that detail Moshe's death. This, says Rebbi Yehuda, was written by Yehoshua. Rebbi Shimon disagrees and maintains that even these last pesukim were written by Moshe. (Bava Basra 15a and Menachos 30a) This Gemara, with both opinions, is cited by Rashi. (Rashi Devarim 34:5) It is extremely important to note that Rebbi Yehuda only stated this regarding these pesukim which have no mitzvos in them. All opinions maintain that the mitzvos in their entirety were given through Moshe and that he wrote them in the Torah. Moshe was the only prophet capable of doing so based on the standard of proof he had given to prove himself as a true prophet. (Rambam Yesodai HaTorah 7,8) The Rambam sided with the opinion of Rebbi Shimon and maintained that everything was written by Moshe Rabbeinu. Nevertheless, the Rambam does mention that these pesukim are different in their nature because the impression is given that they were written post mortum. (Rambam Hilchos Tefillah 13:6) This concept is something that many often overlook. Often we find certain Rishonim explaining the Torah in a fashion that is inconsistent with the Talmudic literature. Sometimes this is even in conflict with halacha. A prime example is how Rabbeinu Yosef Bechor Shor and the Chizkuni describe the structure of the Menorah which is clearly in conflict with the Gemara in Menachos' description. It seems unreasonable that these Rishonim would disagree with a Tanaic statement whose authorship seems to have roots by those who were witness to a Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash. This does not display that these Rishonim were arguing with the Gemara in any way whatsoever, rather, there are lessons to be learned from "peshuto shel mikrah" (the simple translation of the Torah). Just like there is a method of exgesis that delves into the mysteries of kabbalah, yet, does not seem to have a practical application, so too, there is much to be gleaned from peshuto shel mikrah even if it is not what actually happened. This is clearly displayed by the fact that the Rambam concedes that these last pesukim of the Torah have a different status since they appear to have been written by someone other than Moshe. The question is whether all Rishonim agree as to how the Gemara resolved the dispute of Rebbi Yehuda and Rebbi Shimon. If resolved definitively, the halacha would be rendered and would have the force of a psak from the Sanhedrin. (See the Rambam's Introduction to Sefer HaMadah) I have often seen people cite from the Ibn Ezra or even Chassam Sofer to show how they utilize the opinion of Rebbi Yehuda since they make metion that certain pesukim were written by Yehoshua. In fact, the Ibn Ezra seems to apply this to more pesukim than Rebbi Yehuda himself did. Unfortunately, these are not valid proofs to these Rabbanim's position since the texts from which people find these proofs were not halachic in nature, rather, they were coming to interpret the Chumash with a commentary to the pshat and understanding. Thus, we have seen that even the Rambam would concede that these pesukim appear to be written by someone else, and one can apply this rule, perhaps, to more than just the eight pesukim that Rebbi Yehuda was talking about. What is interesting is that the Mishna Berurah does talk about this. The Mishna Berurah is discussing a halacha that pertains to the last eight pesukim in the Torah and how a Baal Koreh and Oleh are not to split the reading of them. The Mishna Berurah mentions that the reason for this is because these last eight pesukim are different. First the Mishna Berurah mentions that it is because Yehoshua wrote them, and then he mentions that even the other opinion of Rebbi Shimon would agree since these last eight pesukim were written differently than all the others. (Mishna Berurah 428:21) No definitive proof can be taken as to the Mishna Berurah's opinion since he does cite both opinions and could just be quoting the Gemara and explaining the halacha based on both opinions, but it is of note that he cites both.]

Question

What are men allowed/not allowed to do when it comes to shaving body hair?Are there areas of the body where it is mutar?What if the person, or person's spouse thinks the offending hair is disgusting?Is there a difference between shaving and cutting?

Answer

A man may cut any body hair that is considered NORMAL for men to cut. (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 182:1) However, in such situations he should not use a razor. (Shach Y.D. 182:3) The general guideline that I would say is that if he were to tell the average male that he has trimmed those areas would it be considered to be abnormal and weird. Therefore, armpits, legs and personal areas would not be permitted. If one lived in a culture where it was normal for men to trim those areas then even they would be permitted to do so (although not with a razor), nevertheless, it would be apropriate not to do so. (Rema Y.D. 182:1)

Question

Seeing as an icy sidewalk is dangerous, am I allowed, on Shabbos, to pour hot water on the ice to melt it? Am I allowed to shovel snow on Shabbos?

Answer

You may not pour hot water (or even cold water) on snow or ice in order to melt it on Shabbos. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 320:10-14) Additionally, this is not a good idea even during a weekday because the water being poured on the ice will freeze shortly afterwards and there will be a larger ice patch. One may, however, pour sand or even salt on the ice in order to prevent one from slipping. Salt is different because it is not immediately melting the ice. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 320:14, Mishna Berurah 320:41 and Shmiras Shabbos KeHilchasa 1 25:9:49) One should not shovel on Shabbos as it is considered laborious. Regarding shoveling for a Shul there may be some leniencies and one should contact the Rav of that Shul.

Question

What exactly are the halachos of reading captions under pictures on Shabbos? Why do I see many learned people reading newspapers and books on Shabbos which are full of pictures with captions that are inevitably read?

Answer

One should not read captions to pictures on Shabbos. This includes captions that describe who or what is in a picture even if it is painted on a wall. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 307:15) The reason that Chazal prohibited this activity is they were afraid one may come to read business documents. (Mishna Berurah 307:57) I am not sure why reading materials that have pictures with captions in them causes one inevitably to read the caption. I have read and looked at many materials that also have captions, including Sukkos posters of Gedolim pictures, without reading the caption. I would tend to assume that these learned people are being careful not to read the captions. The rabbinic prohibition was not to read the captions, we do not find anywhere that they extended this to items that have captions in them when one will not read the captions. What Chazal prohibited is sufficient and we need not create more prohibitions.

Question

On Shabbos, what exactly are the halachos of folding paper and other items? I see many people who aren't careful and fold their papers on a crease as they would during the week. Is one allowed to fold papers not on a crease and then put them into their, say, coat pocket, which in turn causes them to crease?

Answer

The "prohibition" of folding items on creases has nothing to do with the folding itself. It is based on the prohibition to clean clothing on Shabbos. Folding many articles of clothing on the creases is considered to be beneficial to the garment and is considered to be a form of cleaning. This is not applicable to paper. One may fold clothing as long as it is not done on the creases. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 302:3)

Question

Is it ever permissible for a man to shave hair in between his eyes, above his nose, which doesn't look so nice? Is it always "Beged Isha"?

Answer

If it is a very abnormal growth then there may be room for leniency. This leniency is not when it just looks bad with just the two eyebrows meshing into one.

Question

Is there anything against halacha in joining in the "moment of silence" the President asked for at 11AM today becasue of the shotings in Tuscon?

Answer

The moment of silence does not have roots in religion and is an optional time to reflect upon the tragedy that happened. It is neither required nor prohibited by halacha.

Question

Is there a din of chatzitza for a man using the mikvah?

Answer

Any chatzitzah that invalidates the halachic status of an immersion in a mikveh will invalidate it whether it is a man or woman who is going to the mikveh. However, since there is no absolute halachic requirement for a man to go to the mikvah in today's day and age (other than perhaps during Yomim Noraim, and even that is based on a widespread custom as opposed to a biblical or rabbinic decree), there really is no absolute din for him not to have chatzizos. Of course, if he does his immersion will not have counted.

Question

If I come late to davening and will not say Shma with the tzibbur but hear the chazan or even a yachid in the minyan say "HASHEM Elokaichem emes" is that good enough or must I precede my Shma with Kail Melech Neeman?

Answer

You should precede your Shema with Keil Melech Neeman since you did not recite it with the Tzibbur.

Question

Are there any prohibitions in the Torah about being a surrogate for a couple who is unable to have a child on their own? And what about if an orthodox jew would need to use a surrogate? Would that be allowed? Would the surrogate need to be Jewish?

Answer

The advances in medical technology have been quite fantastic and the great things they have been able to accomplish has given us quite a lot to be thankful. Besides enabling families to have children, the advances in infertility treatment have caused much Torah to be written and debated. The issues you raise touch upon many different areas of halacha. Some of these are whether one can enter into some health risks in order to help others. With surrogacy both matrilineal and patrilineal lineage is discussed with regards to halacha. There are many different opinions and, most often, each case has specifics that are unique. As with all medical fertility issues, one should make sure to consult his/her competent Rav to find what his approach is for that couple. If you would like to read some more about this, I have published a small piece that discusses this matter in my first sefer, Tiferes Aryeh on Shas.

Question

1. Are there any issues going to a opposite gender massage expert. 2. Are there any issues examining one's parents that would not entail bleeding or pain.

Answer

1. Yes there are. While at first glance one may wonder why this is different than going to a doctor of the opposite gender, the differences are pretty pronounced. The nature of a massage is one that the recipient is experiencing a very relaxing and overall pleasurable experience because of the nature of the touching. This is very different than a doctor even if the doctor's exam is of a very personal nature. Although there are medicinal benefits, one should find a therapist of the same gender. 2. There are no problems with a doctor examining his or her parent if no bleeding is caused.

Question

I didn't realize that there is a debate even among Daas Torah about the author of sefer Devarim, based on apparent inconsistencies between the events there and those related earlier. Please explain the various opinions on this.

Answer

The Gemara cites two opinions regarding the authorship of Sefer Devarim. Rebbi Yehuda is of the opinion that the Sefer was written by Moshe Rabbeinu with the exception of the last eight pesukim that detail Moshe's death. This, says Rebbi Yehuda, was written by Yehoshua. Rebbi Shimon disagrees and maintains that even these last pesukim were written by Moshe. (Bava Basra 15a and Menachos 30a) This Gemara, with both opinions, is cited by Rashi. (Rashi Devarim 34:5) It is extremely important to note that Rebbi Yehuda only stated this regarding these pesukim which have no mitzvos in them. All opinions maintain that the mitzvos in their entirety were given through Moshe and that he wrote them in the Torah. Moshe was the only prophet capable of doing so based on the standard of proof he had given to prove himself as a true prophet. (Rambam Yesodai HaTorah 7,8) The Rambam sided with the opinion of Rebbi Shimon and maintained that everything was written by Moshe Rabbeinu. Nevertheless, the Rambam does mention that these pesukim are different in their nature because the impression is given that they were written post mortum. (Rambam Hilchos Tefillah 13:6) This concept is something that many often overlook. Often we find certain Rishonim explaining the Torah in a fashion that is inconsistent with the Talmudic literature. Sometimes this is even in conflict with halacha. A prime example is how Rabbeinu Yosef Bechor Shor and the Chizkuni describe the structure of the Menorah which is clearly in conflict with the Gemara in Menachos' description. It seems unreasonable that these Rishonim would disagree with a Tanaic statement whose authorship seems to have roots by those who were witness to a Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash. This does not display that these Rishonim were arguing with the Gemara in any way whatsoever, rather, there are lessons to be learned from "peshuto shel mikrah" (the simple translation of the Torah). Just like there is a method of exgesis that delves into the mysteries of kabbalah, yet, does not seem to have a practical application, so too, there is much to be gleaned from peshuto shel mikrah even if it is not what actually happened. This is clearly displayed by the fact that the Rambam concedes that these last pesukim of the Torah have a different status since they appear to have been written by someone other than Moshe. The question is whether all Rishonim agree as to how the Gemara resolved the dispute of Rebbi Yehuda and Rebbi Shimon. If resolved definitively, the halacha would be rendered and would have the force of a psak from the Sanhedrin. (See the Rambam's Introduction to Sefer HaMadah) I have often seen people cite from the Ibn Ezra or even Chassam Sofer to show how they utilize the opinion of Rebbi Yehuda since they make metion that certain pesukim were written by Yehoshua. In fact, the Ibn Ezra seems to apply this to more pesukim than Rebbi Yehuda himself did. Unfortunately, these are not valid proofs to these Rabbanim's position since the texts from which people find these proofs were not halachic in nature, rather, they were coming to interpret the Chumash with a commentary to the pshat and understanding. Thus, we have seen that even the Rambam would concede that these pesukim appear to be written by someone else, and one can apply this rule, perhaps, to more than just the eight pesukim that Rebbi Yehuda was talking about. What is interesting is that the Mishna Berurah does talk about this. The Mishna Berurah is discussing a halacha that pertains to the last eight pesukim in the Torah and how a Baal Koreh and Oleh are not to split the reading of them. The Mishna Berurah mentions that the reason for this is because these last eight pesukim are different. First the Mishna Berurah mentions that it is because Yehoshua wrote them, and then he mentions that even the other opinion of Rebbi Shimon would agree since these last eight pesukim were written differently than all the others. (Mishna Berurah 428:21) No definitive proof can be taken as to the Mishna Berurah's opinion since he does cite both opinions and could just be quoting the Gemara and explaining the halacha based on both opinions, but it is of note that he cites both.

Question

In this week's parsha, Hashem says He will bring a plague of disease on ALL the animals of Egypt, and they will all die. Then by the plague of hail, Moshe says tells Pharaoh to bring all the animals inside or they will die from the hail. Weren't they already dead from the disease. Where did these other animals come from?

Answer

1) These were animals purchased by the Egyptians subsequent to Makkas Dever, or 2) Earlier when the Torah says that all of the Egyptians' animals it means "most" since sometimes the Torah calls most "all", or 3) These were animals that had been jointly owned by Egyptians and members of Yisrael. (Rabbeinu Bachye Shemos 9:19; see footnotes in Mosad Rav Kook edition as some of these answers can be traced back to Midrashim)

Question

When I was putting on my tefillin someone rushed over to pick the retzuos up off of the ground. Do they have so much kedusha that he ran over as if I dropped the batim?

Answer

Items associated with tefillin have a level of kedusha called tashimshei kedusha. The retzuos do, in fact, have this status. So, while they do not have the same level of kedusha as the batim in which the actual scrolls are placed, they do have a higher level then, let's say, a talis which has no scroll inside it. It is therefore appropriate to make sure that they do not fall to the floor and the person who rushed to lift them up was keeping this standard.

Question

If a person has bad cold to the point that they can't smell anything, what should they do about havdalah and smelling the bsamim?

Answer

Havdalah should be said without the bracha of besamim in this situation. The bracha of besamim in havdalah is the same as besamim by themselves and it a bracha thanking Hashem for taking pleasure in this world (like food brachos). The custom to incorporate it into havdalah was in order to offset the spiritual pain of Shabbos ending. It is not a fundamental part of the mitzvah of havdalah so if it cannot be performed it should be skipped.

Question

I daven in a small shule.I'm finished Shmoney Esray and I can hear the person behind me who is davening the silent Shmoneh Esray, should I say baruch hoo uvaruch shmo and amain his brachos? If i heard the whole thing would that be sort of a chazaras hashatz for me?

Answer

Yes you should respond. Those responses are not limited to the Chazzan's brachos. I would recommend doing it discreetly as not to embarrass the one davening, though. I apologize for the delay on the second half of your question, I somehow did not notice it until it was just brought to my attention. No, this other person's shemonah esrei cannot count for you as chazara hashatz as he has no intention to be doing so and he is not doing it for a minyan.

Question

I appreciate this column very much, but I feel compelled to address the Rabbi on this most recent question posted regarding the intermarriage issue. "Avoiding the topic" is not what I would call a proper response at all. I think it's not only your duty, but whoever has the same issue, CV, in their family, to do a lot more than avoid the topic. I think avoiding it is why we are inundated with it, because everyone thinks they should MYOB. On the contrary, you should pursue it, find out who it is, and call them and give them the 3rd degree, in no uncertain terms. Just my 2 cents. Feel free to reply privately if you don't want to post it.

Answer

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I do not believe it would have positive effects. I do not believe that someone who believes he has met the woman of his dreams and has decided to spend the rest pf his life with her will care that his friend screamed at him. He probably values his fiancee's relationship more than the friend's. Ifanything it will foster ill feelings towards frum Jews and he will be less likely to consider frumkeit in the future. I think that there are methods of interpersonal relations that could be more effective, but they need to be done with understanding and not just anger and rage. The reason that was not suggested to the earlier questioner was because I find it improbable that one asking a question in this format without the ability to discuss all the specific factors of this specific case would be so effective in convincing someone who feels he has met his soulmate to dump her. Please do not misunderstand me though, I believe strong adverse feelings should be felt in these situations, I am merely of the opinion that acting in rage is not going to be effective.

Question

what should I say to a great person who is not jewish and scheduled to intermarry this summer 2011?

Answer

I am not quite sure what your question entails. You should not in any way give the impression that you approve of this intermarriage as that could be "Chanifah" and a display that you approve of actions that are prohibited by the Torah. I would avoid the topic altogether and only discuss other matters.

Question

I recently read somewhere (and don't know if this is the opinion of everyone) that peanut butter's bracha is ha'adama even of the "creamy" variety. If this is so, should a peanut butter cup with more peanut butter than chocolate be ha'adama? Or, being that it's more candy based, do you think it's not authentic peanut butter and possibly a shehakol? Thank you.

Answer

It is my understanding that the first ingredient is still sugar in these types of chocolates. The ikkur (main focus of the product) is the sugar and it would therefore be a shehakol. This is similar to chocolate which the first ingredient is sugar making that the ikkur and the cocoa (which should be a HaEitz) the secondary product.

Question

how should we greet our non jewish friends during their holiday season?

Answer

Saying the word Christmas is problematic. (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 147) I would therefore recommend saying, "Happy Holidays." There is no problem with wishing someone a "Happy New Year", though. (Ibid.)

Question

Why was the Tenth of Teves fast day not postponed until Sunday or pushed back to Thursday? I thought we are not supposed to go into Shabbos fasting.

Answer

There is no prohibition to fast on a Friday. However, it is best not to enter into Shabbos in a starving fashion that will have the person eat in a gluttonous fashion for his Shabbos meal. Although this is something that is important to keep in mind, there is nothing about the fast itself on a Friday that is inappropriate. Other fasts are pushed off (or earlier) when they fall on Shabbos itself. 10 Teves is the only one that can fall on a Friday (based on the rules of our calendar). There are two other notable instances, though, when the custom has been to fast on Erev Shabbos/Yom Tov. There is a custom for firstborns to fast on Erev Pesach (although most go to a siyum and release themselves of the need to fast), and there was a prevalent custom to fast on the Friday of Parshas Chukas to commemorate the tragic burning of 24 cartloads of Shas that devastated France and the Torah world in 1242. That horrific event by "St." Louis was so devasting to Torah and its learning that the repercussions are still felt today.

Question

When I hear the haphtarah is the person saying it being "motzee" me in any form of mitzvah? If he is, should I not be saying baruch hoo uvaruch shmo to his first or final brachos? If he reads from a navi I know I can just listen and don't have to read it but what about when he reads from a Chumash or one of those full Tanach books?

Answer

The Haphtarah was instituted at a time when public Torah readings were outlawed. The Jewish people would not allow themselves to give up their precious Torah reading and instead read from the Nevi'im during this hard time. After the evil decree was repealed, it was decided o retain the Haphtarah reading as part of the service. One can listen to the brachos with the intent to be yotzei in order to fulfill his obligation of making 100 brachos a day. However, there is no personal obligation regarding the brachos themselves, so the custom has become to answer Baruch Hu U'Varuch Sh'mo. Many have a stringency to recite the words along with the Chazzan if it is not read from parchment. This is meritorious, but not required.

Question

On this (and other fast days) may one use mouthwash and may one listen to music?

Answer

I was asked once before regarding mouthwash on a fast and responded that one should not. However, I would like to clarify that that was only in a case where there is no discomfort. If it is causing one discomfort then he may rinse with mouthwash since mouthwash is not normally swallowed. THE ABOVE DOES NOT APPLY TO TIHSA B'AV AND YOM KIPPUR. (See Mishna Berurah 567:11) Music is permissible on a fast day.

Question

I left my wallet at home when I went to Shacharis today so I borrowed money from the shul's pushka. Someone told me that I'm not allowed to do that. I am going to return it. If it is going to be given away to a poor person who isn't going to return it shouldn't I certainly be allowed to borrow because I am certainly going to return it probably adding even more?

Answer

No, the shul's pushka funds are solely under the authority of whomever the shul Rav/board has empowered. It is at that person's (people's) discretion and any other usage is in violation. These monies are not allowed to be taken as a loan or even taken by the poor unless explicitly authorized by the shul.

Question

ARE THERE ANY ISSUES WITH GOING TO HOLIDAY PARTIES AND DRINKING SCOTCH, BEER, AND A KOSHER MEAL WITH OTHER EMPLOYEES.

Answer

One may go to the company holiday party and partake of kosher food. He may even have a few drinks in the course of the meal. (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D.114:1) As always, one must make sure to drink responsibly and never to drink and drive.

Question

Why are there no additional words added to the Al HaMichya for Chanukah or Purim?

Answer

The Maharam MiRotenberg says that the reason for this is because Al HaNissim is a form of HaDa'ah (thanks/praise). The language of HoDa'ah is not found in the text of Al HaMichya but is found in the second bracha of Birchas HaMazon (Nodeh Lecha). Therefore, it was not instituted in Al HaMichya.

Question

On the day before Rosh Chodesh I was not paying attention and said yaale veyavoh when davening shcharit. I only realized this at minchah. Should I say two mincha davenings?

Answer

You do not HAVE to say two minchas. There is a big debate regarding a case like this as to whether one has fulfilled his obligation or not. One of the factors involved is that not only was something recited in an inappropriate time, but that that which was said was untrue. Meaning, in the text of Yaaleh VeYavo you stated that it was Rosh Chodesh when, in fact, it was not. This is more severe than if you had said Atta Chonantanu on a night other than Motzei Shabbos. In that case, although it is not the time to say that prayer, it is not stating a falsehood since you never declared that night to be Motzei Shabbos directly. (See Mishna Berurah 108:38) Although you are not obligated to say a second mincha it would be appropriate to do so anyway. When there is a machlokes whether or not one needs to say an extra tefillah one may recite it if he chooses to do so. In this extra tefillah he may recite the standard text and he need not add anything to it since there are those who maintain that he is responsible for this prayer (as opposed to one praying a voluntary prayer that is required to add to it).

Question

From the second night and on my wife and I share the lighting of the chanukah candles after I make the bracha. My brother says I should not do that because in order for me to be yotzay I must light each candle. I say, since it's nair, eesh u'baiso, that she can share the physical part of lighting if i make the bracha and she says Amain. Who's right?

Answer

Both of you are correct. In addition to the regular halachos of one being motzei another with Chanukah lights, one's wife is considered to be just like himself and she can fulfill his obligation for him. This concept is more commonly used when the husband is traveling and the wife lights for the household instead of him. In that case he does not even need to be present since she is able to fulfill the household obligation on his behalf. Therefore, when he is present he could have his wife, or someone else, act on his behalf to light some or all the lights. However, although one can technically fulfill his obligation in this fashion, it should not be done. It is always better for one to perform a mitzvah personally than to allow another to be motzei him. This applies to a standard case of a "shaliach" (proxy) and even in cases where his wife is fulfilling the obligation (which in many cases is not just a case of shlichus, here she and he are considered to be one person).

Question

if one is invited for dinner to another's house on Chanukah, and won't be able to light the menorah b'zman, should he take his menorah to their house and light there, or wait until he gets back home and light?

Answer

He should light at home later.

Question

If I walk in to get a sefer from a shul where the minyan, with whom I am not davening, is saying kedusha, am I mechuyav to stay and recite Kedusha with them? In other words, am I "stuck" because I walked in then or can i take the sefer and leave?

Answer

Yes, you are then required to remain and answer Kedusha.

Question

I'm puzzled why people consider those of us who wear a tallit with colored - not black - stripes less religious. What is the religious signifigance of the stripes on the tallit? Am I missing something?

Answer

The Ashkenazic custom to have stripes on the talis is to display that we are missing techeilis. It seems that the custom in many places was to have BLUE stripes and also to have a blue border on the edge of the talis. (Pri Megadim Aishel Avraham 9:7, also see Mishna Berurah 9:16) Over time, it seems, the more prevalent custom became to have black stripes since black displays mourning and a display of loss. Halachically one may have stripes of any color (or none at all), but the Ashkenazic custom is to have the main part of the talis as white (this is for some halachic and kabbalistic reasons). (Magen Avraham 9:6) Stripes of other colors, or meant to demonstrate other ideas, are not following this custom, but as stated before are halachically acceptable and might even fall under the mitzvah for one to procure a beautiful talis. It is horrible for people to create sinas chinam, the biblical prohibition of hatred amongst ourselves for which the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed and we were exiled, because people see others performing mitzvos in a fashion they do not understand. Hopefully we can all focus on the positives, such as seeing how many people are trying to serve Hashem and beautifying the mitzvos. I also hope that this perception of yours only reflects the attitudes of a small few if any at all.

Question

How early can one light Hanukah candles? Do I have to wait for 3 stars?

Answer

The custom in most of the United States is to light at "Tzeis HaKochavim" or the appearance of stars. (See Tiferes Aryeh Zevachim Ch. 30 for more discussion of this time period.) However, it should be noted that there are prevalent customs (such as in Eretz Yisrael) to light at sunset. Although the above are the preferable times, if necessary one may light from Plag HaMincha (10.75/12ths of the day) and onwards (this is necessary on Friday afternoons since it is absolutely prohibited to light the candles after sunset). If this is the case he should leave enough oil (or big enough candles) that they will burn until a half hour after the opportune lighting time which would be either sunset or Tzeis HaKochavim as noted above. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 672:1 and Mishna Berura 672:1)

Question

If I was unable to say shema by the posted time, why bother saying it when i daven later?

Answer

There is no prohibition in saying it later since it is comparable to learning scripture. Shema contains in it the essence of accepting Hashem's rulership and it is important to do so even if one was unable to read it in the proper time. Therefore, one should read it later, even if he missed its opportune time.

Question

Does your answer for the music for roomates also apply to a spouse in availus?

Answer

Technically, but one must be intellectually honest in order to determine when it stops being background music and starts becoming "listened to" music.

Question

My roommate is an avail for his father. It is very difficult for me to be without music. Is there any issur for me to play music in the aprtment where he can hear it even though it is playing for me?

Answer

You are allowed to play music since your roommate is not requesting or wanting it. It would be comparable to him being allowed to go into an elevator with music in the background. I must add, though, that your roommate may feel that this is taking away from a necessary mourning/healing time. If so, while I am sure it is difficult for you to be without music during these few months, it would be appropriate to be sensitive to his needs at this time. Therefore, if he objects, it would be appropriate not to play your music. Perhaps, a solution could be to use headphones.

Question

If one may not use a prepaid card to buy something on Shabbos, be it ice cream or anything else, what heter do restaurants in Eretz Yisroel have to offer prepaid meals to tourists and the like?Or,if I pay in advance and the owner recognizes me and the fact that I paid, even without a prepaid card or similar, may I partake of that product?

Answer

The issue discussed in the previous question was the use of punching holes in a card. If one uses a different method that does not entail such a device then it is permissible to prepay and receive food items on Shabbos. If the staff recognizes the person, or if they use a system with paper clips, or many other types of systems, then it will be permissible. (Mishna Berurah 323:20) PLEASE NOTE THAT ONE MAY NOT EAT FOOD THAT WAS COOKED FOR HIM ON SHABBOS, THE ABOVE ONLY APPLIES TO ITEMS THAT DID NOT HAVE PROHIBITED SHABBOS ACTIONS DONE TO THEM.

Question

Thank you for your answer about the ice cream. What if it is like Baskin Robbins and the ice cream is already in a container before Shabbos. Would it be ok to get a scoop with a pre-paid card on Shabbos?

Answer

Unfortunately, still not. The Mishna Berurah actually discusses this exact case! Of course he was not talking about Baskin Robbins as they did not have a store in Radun at the time, he was talking about purchasing wine with a prepaid card. The card is considered muktzah as it is considered like a document and it cannot be used. (Mishna Berurah 323:20) I happen to have inside information though that your neighbor always has a freezer full of ice cream. If you need some on Shabbos just stop in and enjoy.

Question

If one has a pre-paid card for an ice cream or frozen yogurt at a place that is kosher, is it permissible to use it on Shabbos or Yom Tov to get the ice cream or frozen yogurt? It is a place that has soft serve so there's a mix and they pull the lever for ice cream/yogurt to come out.

Answer

No, unfortunately one cannot. Ice cream made on Shabbos is considered "nolad" and is essentially muktzah. We also do not say that the amount made on Shabbos is batul (nullified) in the amount from before. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 320:9 and 322:1) On the bright side, it saves something special for melaveh malkah.

Question

Is one allowed to join a Thanksgiving meal at a friend or family's house when they will be serving turkey and other holiday foods? If that is allowed, is one allowed to make a Thanksgiving meal with turkey in their own house?

Answer

Firstly, let me state that the need to thank Hashem for this great country in which we live is certainly obligatory. Hakaras HaTov must be given for the freedoms which we are granted. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, we must be appreciative for the countless lives that were spared during the horrific destruction that happened in Europe. The amount of Torah and Yiddishkeit that has grown and thrived in and from this country is fantastic. When it comes to celebrating these secular holidays there is a wide spectrum of rabbinic thought. Some prohibit them as part of the biblical prohibition of "walking in the ways of the other nations." Others maintain that they are prohibited if done yearly and in an obligatory fashion as that is a biblical prohibition of adding mitzvos that were not commanded by Hashem. Others maintain that it is permitted but not recommended, and some opinions take no issue whatsoever and feel that it is completely permissible. Considering this wide array and that the rabbinic figures that espoused these opinions were of significant stature, I recommend in this situation to consult your personal Rav. Remember though, even if one is not going to celebrate it, it is incumbent to always recognize how much we have benefited from this wonderful country.

Question

We have someone in our shul who is, unfortunately, an avail. His Hebrew is not great to begin with and I'm surprised he even goes up to daven. If it were up to me he wouldn't be allowed to daven but inasmuch as he does, tell me, does it matter that during chazaras hashatz or Kaddish (or elsewhere) that he skips or "disturbs" words. I'm responding but to what am I responding?

Answer

This is something the Rav of your shul is charged with. Some words are necessary and others might not nullify the bracha if said incorrectly. Thankfully the shuls here in Baltimore have competent Rabbanim to make judgment calls in situations like these.

Question

What are the different levels of smicha and what are the qualifications for them? Is there like a "black belt" of smicha's?

Answer

Generally smicha means a "Yoreh Yoreh". This means that the person has a level of expertise in some matters found in Yoreh Deah of Shulchan Aruch. Every Rav who gives smicha determines what exactly he requires his Talmid to know prior to giving smicha and there are no objective standards. In general, though, Taaruvos and Bassar VaChalav (basics of Kashrus) are necessary, it is also common for Taharas HaMishpacha to be required. Many Rabbanim are not comfortable with only knowledge of Yoreh Deah since it is important for community Rabbanim to have expertise in Orach Chaim (daily halacha), as well. Some Rabbanim require most if not all or Orach Chaim, including Shabbos and Yom Tov halachos, davening, and other daily law. Others require knowledge of Aveilus (mourning). Additionally, some Rabbanim offer a "smicha" for just knowledge of Orach Chaim, although it is not termed as "Yoreh Yoreh" and is not a traditional smicha. It is merely a statement that this person is competent in daily law. Of course if one wants to practice safrus or shechitah the custom is to receive the equivalent of smicha in these areas and that is called "kabbalah". To act as a judge on a beis din many require a "Yadin Yadin" which means proficiency in civil law, Choshen Mishpat. In the times of the Gemara there was also something called a "Yatir Yatir" which meant that the person was an expert in which blemishes on animals would nullify them from being a Bechor (animal with holiness since it was a firstborn). Regardless of terminology, there is no black belt, or even objective standard and the smicha's "strength" is dependent on the Rav that gives it since it is effectively his haskama to the recipient. In the times of the Gemara, though, the real Smicha existed. This was the practice of one Rav given "smicha" to his Talmid when he felt the Talmid was proficient in halacha and it was given from Rebbi to Talmid in an unbroken chain since Moshe Rabbeinu. This form of smicha allowed certain civil matters and even capital punishment to be exercised by a beis din of people who possessed it. Unfortunately, the chain was broken and it no longer exists. May we soon merit its reinstitution and through it a Sanhedrin.

Question

Other than being recognized as such by the population, are there any "standards" or similar things that are used to determine if a person can be called a tzaddik or a gadol?

Answer

If a person possesses significant Torah knowledge and or righteousness then he is a Gadol and/or Tzaddik. As such, that person should be given respect. Although the following is a logical conclusion, significant Torah knowledge alone is sufficient that one need to give special weight to matters stated by that person.

Question

Why do Chasidim take their payos down from behind their ears when they daven Shmoney Esray?

Answer

The Zohar mentions that one's hair not appear to block his ears during davening. If it is blocking them just as this person's ears have been closed, so too his prayers are not "heard" in heaven. This has been suggested as the reason for this practice. (See Tikunei Zohar 70)

Question

What is the "pulsa denura"?

Answer

Literally it means to be hit with a fiery whip. It is used in the Gemara in Chagigah as a punishment to angelic beings. (Chagigah 15a) Obviously these terms have extremely deep and mystical meanings. In other literature it has been used to describe Cherem (excommunication).

Question

Aren't there opinions that say we shouldn't purchase land or a house anywhere but in E"Y (as opposed to renting), because it makes it like we are putting down roots in galus and that we like it here?

Answer

While one should always anticipate the end to our long exile, there are no opinions (that I am aware of) that prohibit the purchase of a home outside of Eretz Yisrael. Certain remembrances of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash are mentioned regarding the building of one's home (or purchase), but those apply both in and out of Eretz Yisrael. (See Bava Basra 60b, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 560:1 and Mishna Berurah 60:1)

Question

Do we cover our eyes when saying the Shema for concentration reasons or something else?

Answer

Rebbi used to cover his eyes when reciting the first verse of Shema. (Berachos 13b) Rabbeinu Yonah maintains that this was because he would motion with his eyes the fact that Hashem rules over the heavens, earth and the four directions. In order not to make a scene, he covered his eyes. (Rabbeinu Yonah Berachos 7b) The Rosh maintains that it was for concentration. (Rosh Berachos 13b) Our practice is mimicking the practice of Rebbi.

Question

DO WE HAVE A JUBILEE YEAR? IT TO TAKE PLACE YOM KIPPUR tHANKS

Answer

Unfortunately, until Hashem gathers the exiles and returns them to Eretz Yisrael we do not have a Jubilee year. (See Arachin 32 and Tosefos and Ramban's commentaries; also see Chazon Ish Shevi'is 3:5)

Question

On Shabbos, when I wash fruit such as raspberries, bluberries etc.,and then place them in a bowl lined with a paper towel, the paper towel becomes colored from the fruit. Is this a problem?

Answer

There may be a reason to try and be stringent, but there is also room for leniency. Let me explain. If this happens less than 90 percent of the time then everything is perfectly fine. If it occurs more than 90 percent of the time then, if possible, you should find something to place them on that will not become colored. If you do not have something else, or there is a specific need to use this material then it is fine since there are many halachic authorities who rule that it is permissible. (Mishna Berurah 320:59)

Question

A Beis Din that is "ill informed" about Shabbos, one of the 10 commandments? How does someone even get to be a Beis Din "prospect" and not know such a thing, especially in the days of the Beis HaMikdash? I apologize but I am not satisfied with the answer provided. These were not lay people, they were all amongst the great sages of the day.

Answer

I am sorry that the answer does not meet your standards; however, one cannot get around the fact that the Mishna is explicitly discussing a case where the Beis Din did in fact err to such a degree. Keep in mind that the Gemara does not only mention cases that will happen, but any that theoretically may happen. The purpose is to define the mitzvah at hand. I agree that for a Beis Din to be completely unknowledgable about Shabbos is something that probably never could realistically happen (as stated in the last answer). Although, there were times when Shabbos and learning were rendered illegal by tyranical leaders and if this particular group needed to make a ruling they may not have had all the information (although their brethren in other places would still have the information since we know that the learning of Torah has never and will never cease). Although the follwing is of a smaller scale than not knowing an entire concept, like it or not, the Amoraim (of the greatest Torah Sages of all time) were not necessarily well versed in all of Scripture including the Ten Commandments. There is a passage in Bava Kamma (55a) that demonstrates this and Tosefos (Bava Basra 113a) points it out clearly. Also see Avodah Zarah 4a and Tiferes Aryeh Zevachim 62b. Please keep in mind that these were of the greatest sages to walk this planet, not just lay people and in Bava Kamma we see them not possessing knowledge of Scripture from the Ten Commandments. Tosefos, with this knowledge, also still made their comment as well. So, I guess we see that it is possible.

Question

I'm confused: In Daf Yomi, Horayos 3b, it brings up a Mishna that mentions if a court makes a ruling that essentially says the Torah says nothing about Shabbos, niddah, etc, and proceeds to discuss it. How can a court even think to say this, let alone us having a Gemara talking about if they did say it? I don't get it.

Answer

Horiyos is a fascinating Masechta that deals with issues of Batei Dinim that err. The case mentioned obviously cannot be talking about a Beis Din that has never heard of Shabbos and they get up and say, "There is no such thing as Shabbos," because how could they talk about something that they never heard about. Rather, it is clear that they have seen or have heard that the populace keeps Shabbos. Beis Din then, mistakenly, states that this entire practice of Shabbos is not found in the Torah and is not obligatory. This is presumably why the Mishna says that Beis Din declares that, "There is no Shabbos [mentioned] in the Torah." They clearly have heard of the concept, they are just stating that it has no basis in the Torah. This is obviously a very mistaken and ill informed Beis Din and something of this magnitude has probably never occurred.

Question

I saw that a few shuls are having Yom Kippur Koton today. What is that?

Answer

On the day before Rosh Chodesh there is an old custom to fast and also say extra prayers at Mincha. It is a time to reflect on the actions of the month that is ending and seek forgiveness for them prior to beginning the next month. It is considered to be a time of forgiveness. It is not observed on Fridays or Shabbosos; in those instances it is observed on the Thursday prior to the real date (as is the case this month). This practice is referred to as Yom Kippur Katan, or the "Small Yom Kippur" and some of the extra prayers mimick those of Yom Kippur, specifically Neilah.

Question

I know that somewhere in the Mishna Torah, the RamBam says something about following a Torah sage, even if he says day is night and night is day. Can you tell me where it says that please? (Chapter & verse if you please.)

Answer

I believe the actual source of what you are quoting is the Gemara Megillah 31b (also Tosefta Avodah Zarah 1:19 and Gemara Nedarim 40a). There it is stated that if the elders tell you to destroy something and the youth say build you should listen to the elders since the destruction of the elders is really productive and the building of the youth is destructive. The Meiri understands this statement to refer to Sages vs. those not wise in the ways of the Torah instead of it referring to elders vs. youth literally. (See Beis HaBechirah Megillah 31b)

Question

In today's daily halacha-my daily learning-you mention things that may only be said with a minyan and this brings up something that I have been meaning to ask. Correct me If I'm wrong but a "Kail Maleh" is only allowed to be recited when we have a minyan, yet in Yizkor, at least according to the way it appears in the Artscroll, it seems that an individual can make a "Kail Maleh" which is certainly to himself and not in front of a minyan. Is this a contradiction?

Answer

As with many prayers, it is preferable to recite a Keil Maleh in the presence of a minyan. However, it is not absolutely necessary for there to be a minyan in order to recite it.

Question

I couldnt help but be intrigued by your comments of washing your hands with only one pouring of water when washing for bread "in certain specific situations." Please share...

Answer

The Shulchan Aruch writes that if one uses a minimum of a revi'is of water, pours it in one shot, and has nothing that inhibits the water to cover the necessary area on the hands that he need not pour a second time. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 162:2) However, the Chayei Adam cites from many Rishonim who dispute this ruling. Thus, he maintains that it is appropriate to follow the stricter opinion and always pour twice. In cases where it is diffficult to do, one is allowed to rely on the more lenient ruling, though. (Mishna Berurah 162:21)

Question

At Mincha if I am unable to keep up with the chazzan and when I finish Shmoney Esray he is about to say Alainu (becasue he already completed Tachanun) but I have not yet said Tachanun, do I first say Tachanun and then after he finishes davening say Alainu on my own or do I say Alainu together with everyone and then after davening is over say Tachanun? Thank You.

Answer

It is important not to have a significant break between Shemonah Esrei and Tachanun so you should say Tachanun first. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 131:1)

Question

The Ruv has covered skipping certain parts in davening should one arrive late to shul during the week; what about Shabbos?

Answer

On Shabbos Nishmas takes precedence over everything besides Baruch SheAmar, Ashrei and Yishtabach. After that all weekday prayers, if there is more time then Lamnazeach, U'LeDovid B'Shanoso, and Tefillah LeMoshe should be recited. (Mishna Berurah 52:5)

Question

If a person has a death in the family, and the rest of the family is not observant and decides to sit shiva for only 3 days, should the observant person continue to sit shiva by him/herself?

Answer

Yes, shiva is a personal obligation and is not dependent on the other family members.

Question

Why do we wash with a cup, and why sometimes 2 and sometimes 3 times?

Answer

The reason we wash with a cup varies depending on which washing we are talking about. The washing in the morning is done for several reasons. Two of these reasons require a vessel to be used to pour onto the hands. The first is that the individual is mimicking the act of the Kohain who would wash his hands from the Kiyor prior to serving Hashem in the Beis HaMikdash, and the second is that there is a harmful spiritual presence that resides on the hands until water is poured onto them from a vessel. (See Mishna Berura 4:1 and Aruch HaShulchan O.C. 4:7) The second of the above reasons requires the water to be poured three times. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 4:2) The necessity for a vessel when washing before bread is for a different reason. The Sages instituted the one need to purify his hands prior to eating bread. This has to do with spiritual impurity which is not the same as a harmful spiritual presence. The decree was created in a way to mimick the Kohain's washing of his hands or the purification through Parah Adumah, both of which came from a vessel. (See Mishna Berurah 159:1) With this washing it is only necessary to wash two times, with the possibility of even only washing once in certain specific situations. (See Mishna Berura 162:21)

Question

Can two people break a wishbone on Shabbosafter making a wish of course?

Answer

No, they should not. The wishbone is muktzah and the act of breaking it might also be considered to fall within the guidelines of one of the 39 non-permissible categories of work on Shabbos. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 308:30 and Rambam Shabbos 10:10) Even when done by two people these acts are still generally prohibited rabbinically. (Rambam Shabbos 1:15) It is also important to emphasize that this practice is not advocated even during the weekday as it very probably falls within the guidelines of what constitutes prohibited superstitions and seems to be a biblical prohibition. (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 178 - 179)

Question

I look forward to and follow your daily halacha and was really intrigued by your mentioning skipping from vhoo rachum in hodu to the vhoo rachum before Ashrei. Whats the correlation and would this hold true in other areas of davening where you might have the same pasuk in two different places?

Answer

Thank you for the kind words. That is an interesting point that I had not thought of. It seems that the paragraph of VeHu Rachum ending with Hashem Hoshea is often recited prior to the commencement of a new prayer section. For example, it is recited before Maariv. As such it seems that this first Vehu Rachum may be an elongated version of this, since the last pasuk is the same Hashem Hoshea. It is possible that it is being used to reflect the change in Pesukei D'Zimrah at these points. The first VeHu Rachum is a turning point in that prior to it the pesukim being recited were primarily praises of Hashem and afterwards they are requests for salvation. The second precedes Ashrei which is the focal part of Pesukei D'Zimrah.

Question

Why are many people makpid to say birchas hatorah before selichos in the morning (Mishna Berurah,etc.) but say rashis chachmah and modeh ani before birchas hatorah? Selichos are also tachanunim?

Answer

I am assuming your question is predicated on the following aspects. Birchas HaTorah is necessary prior to learning every day. Some pesukim are recited by many prior to the recitation of Birchas HaTorah and that is because those pesukim are not being said as "learning of Torah", rather, as part of davening. Therefore, those who have this practice maintain that no bracha is necessary to this recitation. Based on this logic, selichos should also be able to be said prior to the bracha, however, you are seeing people who are careful not to recite selichos prior to the bracha. The disparity seems to come from the fact that it is preferable to say Birchas HaTorah prior to saying any pesukim even if they are not being said as "learning". Nevertheless, technically, many maintain that they do not require Birchas HaTorah before them. In cases where there is reason to recite pesukim beforehand, then, one would have a reason to rely on this leniency. Those pesukim which are recited by many as they awake are specifically recited as the person is waking, thus, there is a reason not to delay their recitation with Birchas HaTorah. There is no such reason to delay selichos. Additionally, the pesukim of selichos are not recited daily, so one may start to concentrate and learn them while he is reciting them. There is less of a chance with those recited daily as he is familiar with them.

Question

This has been bothering me for some time because I thought it was cut and dry; should the chazan say the bracha before shmoney esray of ga'al yisrael audibly or not? Thank You.

Answer

It is dependent on the custom of the shul and/or the chazzan. The Shulchan Aruch maintains that one does not answer Amein to this bracha, but the Rema maintains that one should answer Amein to the chazzan's bracha. The reason for this dispute is dependent on whether or not answering Amein is considered to be an unnecessary pause between the person's bracha of Go'al Yisrael and Shemonah Esrei or not. Ashkenazim follow the opinion of the Rema in this matter. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 66:7) In order to avoid putting oneself into this disputed matter, though, some prefer to be in a situation where they would not have to say Amein to this bracha. Therefore, some recite it with the chazzan and others begin Shemonah Esrei a second prior to the chazzan's finishing of the bracha. Still, others have the chazzan say the bracha inaudibly so that nobody can answer Amein. (See Mishna Berurah 66:35) Although these methods are meritorious, they are not obligatory, so different people/shuls do different things.

Question

With the new cell phones one can have many Torah-dikke things on them, such as the siddur, Tanach, bentching, etc. Does the device have the same status as an actual sefer? Is one allowed to take the device into the bathroom? What if it is turned off? Should one kiss it if it is dropped? Some of these applications have the actual Shem on them as well.

Answer

It is wonderful and fantastic to see how people are able to utilize the newest technological innovations for such holy purposes. Although very useful, these cell phones do not have the status of an actual sefer since the text on the screen is only various pixels lighted in specific ways to look like writing. There is no actual writing, however, and that is why it is permissible to turn off one's cell phone after using it as a siddur. Had it been actual writing this would have constituted erasing. This is even applicable if actual Sheimos were displayed on the screen. Because of the above, it is permissible to walk into a restroom with one's cell phone so long as there is no visible holy text being displayed on the screen at that time. Also, one need not kiss his cell phone when it drops (although with the price of many of them he may want to cry).

Question

If one takes their child to shul and in middle of shemonah esrai the child starts crying/screaming that they have to use the restroom, and they cannot go by themselves, is one supposed to take the child in middle of S"E so a)the child doesn't go in the shul b)the rest of the mispallelim don't get disturbed, or is one supposed to finish S"E and risk the above 2 things?

Answer

In any situation in which a child is disturbing the davening, the parent has an obligation to immediately quiet that child. That includes, and usually necessitates, the removal of that child from shul. This is even when the parent is in the middle of Shemonah Esrei. Preferably, The parent should use methods other than speaking while taking the appropriate actions. (Mishna Berurah 104:1)

Question

When I put Tefilin on and it's too early for me to say a bracha must I adhere to the same rules as when I do say a bracha. Meaning, can I answer Amain, etc even while I'm putting on my Tefilin? Also, do I say V'arasteech, etc even though I didn't say a bracha? Would I be required to say V'arastich when I do finally make the bracha? Did I fulfill the mitzvah if I forgot to say the bracha which happens often. Can't I just say the bracha whenever I want? Does Hashem really care what time I say the bracha? Thanks

Answer

There are many circumstances when one is allowed to don tefillin prior to the recommended time for wearing them. When doing so, one should wait until after the recommended time of tefillin to make the bracha on his tefillin even though this means he will initially afix them to his arm and head without a bracha. When reciting the bracha later he should move his tefillin around a little bit immediately after the bracha, thus creating a situation similar to donning them initially. In such cases, one may answer Amein to various brachos when initially afixing them to his body. Those who have the custom to say "VeAirastich" while wrapping their tefillin around their fingers and hand should do so when donning them even though no bracha has been recited. One need not repeat these verses later when reciting the bracha. If one forgot to make the bracha in these situations he has still fulfilled his obligation to wear tefillin since the bracha on the tefillin is an independent mitzvah from the mitzvah of tefillin itself. No, you cannot just say the bracha whenever you want and yes Hashem "cares". He empowered the Rabbanan to enact various decrees and this is a classic case of such a circumstance. If He did not "care", He would not have authorized them to make such decrees and He would not have stated in His Torah that one is obligated to follow such decrees. (See Rambam Sefer HaMitzvos Shoresh 2 and Hasagos HaRamban on Sefer HaMitzvos Shoresh 2; also see beginning of Rambam's introduction to Sefer Mada) His omnipotence also means that He was aware that such decrees would be made and He still created those prohibitions knowing that these would be included.

Question

Considering the number of sacrifices brought every day, it sounds like people were eating all day long. That's a whole lot of meat to consume, no?

Answer

It is recorded that there definitely were days when there was a lot of sacrificial meat that was eaten, but it is not so clear whether this was a regular occurrence. One has to take into all of the following points into account when trying to gain a perspective of what was happening in the Beis HaMikdash. On any given day the total amount of obligatory korbonos that are communal is relatively small, even on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Of those, very few are eaten since most are burnt offerings. Even the edible korbonos have parts that are burnt and some have parts that are eaten by the owner of the korbon (when not a communal sacrifice). When one factors in the private korbonos, it is important to recognize that the majority would probably come in over Yomim Tovim when the majority of people were making their pilgrimages. During these times many more kohanim were on duty in the Beis HaMikdash. Also, for some korbonos, the kohanim were able to share with family members. So, although there were times when the kohanim had significant portions, it is unclear as to how often this happened.

Question

I just watched the DVD from Rav Shmuel Friedman about the Bais HaMikdash. I had always thought that the korbonos were walked up the ramp and slaughtered on the altar itself. He says they were slaughtered elsewhere and the parts taken up to be burned. So the Kohanim had to drag whole sides of beef up the ramp? Please clarify.

Answer

Animal sacrifices were slaughtered elsewhere and the parts to be placed on the mizbeach were brought there by the kohanim. (See Zevachim chapter 5) The animal was butchered into many pieces, although some of them were still quite large. (See Tamid 30a and 31a - 31b) It is of note that the biblical law does allow for the animals to be slaughtered on the mizbeach, but there is a rabbinic decree not to do so. (See Tosefos Zevachim 58a)

Question

Is the big rock inside the Dome of the Rock supposed to be the Even Shisiya?

Answer

Some have speculated that that rock is the foundation stone that was lcoated in the Holy of Holies of the Beis HaMidash and from which the world was created. While this is certainly a possibility, it is more probable that this location is closer to that of the place where the mizbeach, altar, used to stand. If you have an interest in these matters, I would strongly recommend reading Rabbi Leibel Reznick's "The Holy Temple Revisited."

Question

What is meshayakir. I know I can put on talis and tefilin an hour before naitz but some people wait till meshayakir and I have no idea what that is. Thank you

Answer

Believe it or not, the reason why you are of the opinion that you can put your talis and tefillin on one hour prior to netz (sunrise) is because there is an opinion that maintains that that is when misheyakir is. Those that appear to be waiting are doing so because they are following an opinion that feels that mishayakir occurs later. It is considered to be day at alos hashachar (defined as some minimal amount of light prior to sunrise, although the amount of light is disputed). However, there is a rabbinic injunction to wait to perform most mitzvos that must be done in the daytime until "misheyakir". Literally, misheyakir means "when one recognizes" and it refers to a time when one could recognize a friend, although not his best friend, at a four cubit distance. Since alos hashachar is not so noticeable, the rabbanim were nervous that someone may accidentally perform a daytime mitzvah too early. They, therefore, stated that one may not perform these mitzvos until there is enough daylight to see his friend. Because the amount of light necessary for this task is much greater, it is impossible that one would accidentally perform the daytime mitzvah too soon. The most prevalent opinions in Baltimore of how much light is necessary for this are sixty minutes prior to sunrise (Rav Henkin) and 36 minutes prior to sunrise (Rav Heineman). Although these are the opinions adhered to by most it is interesting to note that since mishayakir is a function of how much sunlight is being reflected and/or refracted above the sunlight, it would seem that it should be dependent on how far below the horizon the sun is and not based on a set amount of minutes. The length of twilight varies based on time of year and also one's latitude. Thus, there are other opinions that maintain that mishayakir is not at a specific interval of time prior to sunrise, rather, it is when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, 11.5 degress below the horizon or 10.2 degrees below the horizon.

Question

Do we believe in life on other planets or solar systems?

Answer

Life on other planets poses no questions to anything found in our Torah, nor does our Torah appear to address life on other planets. It does not appear that this issue is discussed in any of the primary Torah sources and it would seem that neither the belief that it does exist, nor that it does not is contrary to any Torah values.

Question

If in fact there were such things as cave men, Neanderthals, prehistoric men, etc., how do we reconcile that with Torah? Are these beings supposed to be from a prior world?

Answer

The first thing to recognize when one begins to address these issues is that the principles of our faith are not based on these segments of the Torah. Since we know the Torah to be valid then even if we are unable to resolve these issues adequately, we must recognize that that only leaves us with a question of how things occurred, but certainly not one that poses a threat to our faith. There are myriads of methods that try and resolve this question. Some maintain that the world was created in a completed state. Just like Adam appeared to be a mature human on his first day of life, so too, the world, and universe, appeared to be mature. If one were to see Adam on that day he would assume that Adam had parents and that he had developed in utero then through infancy, adolecense and finally became an adult, so too, the universe would have started as a cosmic nugget, expanded, developed microbial life, then more complex life and finally humankind. Thus, to display a completed universe, the "remnants" of the maturity process would be leftover, even though they never actually occurred. It would be comparable to Adam having a navel. One seeing it would assume that he must have had a mother and this is the scar from his umbilical cord, but in fact, it does not represent anything like that. Conversely, some others have taken the approach that somehow these other lifeforms are included in the Torah's story (or Midrashic background to the story) and try to read them back into the verses. They may try and refer to each day as not being twenty-four hours, or that these may be remnants of worlds that existed prior to ours. (See Tiferes Yisrael Sanhedrin as an example) The approaches differ in that one sees the Torah's words as being very literal and tries to address the problem that science does not fit, and the other appears to see what science has offered and thereby see if the Torah could have not meant its words to be taken so literally here.

Question

We are told that Mesushelach lived 969 years, longer than any other human being. But we are told nothing about him as to what merit he had to live so long. I haven't found any commentary on it anywhere. Any ideas?

Answer

The Midrash Agadah teaches that he lived so long because he was a tremendous tzadik, righteous person, although it does not specify in detail exactly what element of piety was the focus (if there even was a specific one). (Midrash Agadah Bereishis) It is important to realize that he died just before the Mabul and that he was able to remain true to his values, even in such an abominable society. In fact, Rashi teaches that the Mabul was pushed off for seven days in order to commemorate Mesushelach's shiva period. Since he was so pious, Hashem wanted him to receive an apropriate mourning period.(Rashi Bereishis 7:4) We are also taught that with every word that Mesushelach uttered he would praise Hashem in hundreds of ways. (see foreword to Agadas Bereishis)

Question

What was learned in the yeshiva of Shem & Ever if the Torah had not been given yet?

Answer

While one could theorize that they only studied the seven Noachide laws which were given (even to Adam HaRishon), one need not limit the learning in these places to only that. Just because the Torah was not given does not mean that it was not known. There are many sources that teach that Noach, Avraham Avinu and many others learned and/or kept the Torah including the non-Noachide laws. It seems that possibly through the tremendous level of understanding these righteous individuals attained that they were able to deduce the essence of the Torah, or that they had been informed prophetically of its beauties and passed this knowledge to others, as well.

Question

My friend became a bal teshuva; his wife did not. He goes to minyan every day, learns, basically he does it all. Since his wife did not follow his return to yiddishkeit, can he still live with her?

Answer

This is a complex situation and your friend should speak at length with a competent Rav.

Question

When I reached Vsechezena right before Modim and then after saying after Hashem's name realized that today was Rosh Chodesh, and not wanting to be embarrassed by having to repeat Shmoney Esray, I said Lamdaine Chuekcha and went back and said Yaaleh V'yavo. Was that OK?

Answer

In a situation like this the best solution would have been to finish the bracha of Vesechezena and then say Yaaleh VeYavo right then and there. After Yaaleh VeYavo you would then begin immediately with Modim since you already finished Retzei, so you would not repeat Vesechezena. The basic rules for these situations are as follows. If you remember prior to saying Hashem's name in the bracha of Vsechezena then you go back to Yaaleh Veyavo and continue with Vesechezena afterwards. If you said Hashem's name in the bracha, then the first method mentioned above is used. If you already started Modim then you need only go back to Retzei, you need not repeat the entire Shemonah Esrei. However, the above is only true if you did not conclude Shemonah Esrei completely by taking three steps back. If one you completely finish, then you must repeat Shemonah Esrei. Please note that on Rosh Chodesh it is not necessary to repeat anything if Yaaleh VeYavo was forgotten during Maariv, but on festivals, or during Shacharis and Mincha on Rosh Chodesh then the above procedures should be utilized. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 422:1)

Question

What exactly is the Oral Torah that was given to Moshe Rabbeinu? I have heard that the Talmud thatwe have today is what was given in its entirety, with Rashi, Tosfos, etc. Of course this is debateable as these people were not even born yet. Is it the Mishna? With Bais Hillel and Shammai who were not born yet either? Was it the parts of the Mishna without any discussions? What did R'Yehuda HaNasi write down if the Amoraim were yet to be born?

Answer

The Oral Torah given to Moshe Rabbeinu was a compilation of Torah that is not found directly in the text of the Chumash itself. However, before detailing the method in which it was given to Moshe, here is some background as to the nature of Talmudic extrapolation from the actual text of the Chumash. Matters not found directly in the Chumash are derived through what is called Drasha. The basic methods of Drasha can be categorized into thirteen techniques and are recorded in a Tanaic statement of Rebbi Yishmael at the beginning of Toras Kohanim. It is customary to read this statement just prior to Pesukei D'Zimrah on a daily basis. The Oral Torah was given in two basic ways. The first way through which Hashem gave the Torah to Moshe was by telling him the halachic outcome of these Drashos and by also showing the method of Drasha applicable for the determination of that halacha. However, not all of the Oral Torah was given that way. In addition, Hashem showed Moshe the way to use these Drashos and Moshe was informed that he, and subsequent generational Torah leaders, would have to apply the thirteen techniques to find those halachos that were not explicitly told over to Moshe by Hashem. (Rambam Sefer HaMitzvos Shoresh 2) Some, like the Rambam, categorize the halchos found through this second method under the title of Divrei Sofrim, while others, like the Ramban, do not give them a different title. (Ibid. also see Hasogos HaRamban to Shoresh 2) Unfortunately we no longer have the capabalities and expertise to extrapolate new halachos in this fashion. Since the above describes how the Oral Torah was given, it is clear that Moshe was not given the Oral Torah in a way that resembled how are Mishna, Talmud or any other work, such as Rashi or Tosefos, that has come forth. These works are monumental and are instrumental in trying to understanding what was initially stated to Moshe and what the Torah leaders of the subsequent generations were able to extrpolate from the Written Torah.

Question

What are the various opinions on what will take place in the 3rd Bais HaMikdash, bimheira biyameinu, as far as the Avodah, karbonos, etc? Do we say that we will once again sacrifice animals or will that be different? Should we all start buying cows and sheep so we're ready?

Answer

In the third, and final, Beis HaMikdash the korbonos, sacrifices, will resume in the exact fashion in which they were carried out in the previous ones. The Torah does not and will not change. This is a core and basic tenet of our religious beliefs and one who believes that the Torah can change is a heretic. (See thirteen principles of the Rambam found in his commentary to the eleventh chapter of Sanhedrin, also please see chapter 56 of my Tiferes Aryeh Zevachim) Unfortunately some people seem to have a mistaken idea taken from a possible misreading of a Rambam in volume 3 of his Moreh Nevuchim that the korbonos will not resume again. The Rambam does not state this anywhere and is a clear mistake. In fact, in his Mishna Torah he explicitly states their resumption, and that they will resume in the same form as they did intially. (Hilchos Melachim 11:1) I also refer you to Sefer Yechezkel, especially chapter 44, where the prophet clearly states how animal sacrifices will resume; I also would like to refer you to any Musaf prayer in which we ask Hashem to return the animal sacrifices once again. Regarding the purchase of animals, there is no obligation for any individual to do so. A good idea might be to learn the pertinent halachos that will be necessary, though. (See Chofetz Chaim's Maamer Torah Ohr)

Question

Is there a consensus as to what script the original Torah and luchos were written in? I was always under the impression that the Torah we have today is exactly as it was handed down to Moshe, then I hear about "ksav Ashur" and "ksav Ivri".

Answer

There appears to be a dispute between the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi with the Bavli stating that it was in Ashuris and the Yerushalmi in Ivri. For those who may not be familiar, Ksav Ashuris is the current block lettering of the aleph beis that can be found in a Torah. Ksav Ivri looks very different and one can find a small sample on the current shekel. It is important to note that there is no change in meaning to any word due to the difference in style of script used and it is not in violation with the tenet of our belief that the Torah we currently have is the same as given to us by Hashem through Moshe Rabbeinu. In halacha we currently require a Torah to be written in Ksav Ashuris.

Question

What is Bahab all about? Haven't we just said enough Selichos to last us a whole year??

Answer

Just to clarify for those who may not be familiar with the term, BaHaB is an acronym that literally means 2,5,2 and refers to days of prayer (and possibly fasting) which occur on a Monday, Thursday and subsequent Monday. The reason these days are chosen is because they are considered to be days of mercy. Therefore, there are times when we wish to use the wonderful opportunity Hashem has given us by providing days of mercy and we pray in sincerity for Him to forgive us for our sins and help through the tough and harsh situations that occur. There is an extremely old custom observe such days in the beginning of Marcheshvan and Iyar. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 192:1) The Magen Avraham mentions that the reason for this traditional practice is because while celebrating Pesach and Sukkos things may have gotten a little out of hand with lightheadedness, drinking, gluttony and poor time management with regards to Torah study and we now want to ask Hashem for forgiveness. (Magen Avraham 192:1) It does seem that you have some bad feelings towards selichos and if that is the case, it is important to note that BaHaB is a custom and not a Rabbinic injunction. There are many shuls that do not observe this custom and, as such, if you are going to resent this opportunity and not pray with the appropriate level of concentration then I would suggest you pray at one of these locations on these days. As mentioned in an earlier question, a person must be intellectually honest with himself and his abilities and, so long as he is not violating any halacha, serve Hashem accordingly. I would like to point out, though, that you make it seem as if we are saying selichos almost every day. In fact, if you look at this year (starting from Nisan and ending with Adar 2), you will notice that, other than BaHaB, there were a total of 16 days that we exersized our opportunity to say selichos. That means that out of 385 days, we only said selichos on 16 of them. If you take Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur out of the equation then we are left with only 13 out of 385.

Question

Why is it that in many congregations that sing "Ein Keilokeinu" is the paragraph that begins with "Kavey el Hashem" left out? Isn't this part of the tefillah? Thank you.

Answer

There are varying customs as to what verses are stated at that point in time during davening. There are some siddurim that include "Kavei" and some older ones that do not. The tunes that many shuls use during this segment of davening seem to have originated in shuls where it was not customary to recite these verses, so no tune has caught on for this introductory part.

Question

Dear rabbi, I have heard this so often and now that I can take advantage of this great ask the rabbi program I can hopefully, finally get an answer. when a bracha is being made usually this occurs during davening, I hear that, instead of baruch hu uvarcuh shmo, people say just the word shmo. Is there such an opinion to do that or is this person doing this making a mistake?By the way I just have to say congratulations to baltimorejewishlife for thinking of this great feature because so many people have things they want to ask but are embarrassed or have no one to ask and this gives them the ability to learn and know more. So I just wanted to thank them.

Answer

Thank you, it is wonderful to hear such nice feedback. There is no opinion that one should just state "Shmo" or some sort of garbled version of Baruch Hu U'Varuch Shmo. The phrase in its entirety is the appropriate response. However, in order to not find fault in our fellow Jews who are coming to pray sincerely, perhaps we can give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are actually saying the phrase in its entirety. Maybe they are saying the first part in a whisper and only raising their voices towards the end.

Question

During duchening I distcintly heard the chazzan answer Amain to the Kohanim's bracha. Is there such a thing that even the chazzan may answer even though he's in the middle of chazaras hashatz?

Answer

Possibly. Although the Shulchan Aruch states that it is prohibited for the chazzan to answer Amein to the Kohanim's bracha (bracha in this context refers to the actual Birchas Kohanim), the Mishna Berurah states that this is only if he is not davening from a siddur. (Shluchan Aruch O.C. 128:19 and Mishna Berurah 128:71) The reason for the prohibition is that the chazzan may lose his place and forget what word to call out next to the Kohanim, but if he has a siddur this issue is non-applicable. However, the Mishna Berurah does state that it is preferable not to say Amein to the blessing that the Kohanim make prior to beginning Birchas Kohanim (Ashe Kidishanu, etc.). This is the preferable custom, however, one need not correct someone for answering Amein even to that first blessing as the Taz does allow for the chazzan to answer even for that. (See Shaarei Tziyun 128:62 for a list of the various Poskim who do and do not allow one to say Amein to that initial blessing)

Question

It seems from the Mishna Berurah (132:2:10) that it is certainly not preferabble, perhaps even assur for a katan to daven even pesukei dezimra or "ein k'alokainu".(b/c of kaddish yasom) Where do shuls find that it is okay lichatchila?

Answer

It is clear from the Mishna Berurah 53:9:32 that there is no problem for minors to lead the services at these points in time. The Shulchan Aruch had cited the custom to allow young boys to lead maariv on Saturday nights and mentioned that one need not stop this custom. The Mishna Berurah does clearly state that this is not preferable (as is clear from the Shulchan Aruch), but mentions that the reason is only because there is a Barchu and a Kaddish. The issue is because the minor is helping the congregation fulfill an obligation. When the minor is just reading Ain Kelokeinu, etc. and "pacing" the congregation as they read along, the congregation is not having its obligation fulfilled through him. The Mishna Berurah you are citing mentions that Kaddish Yasom may be given to a minor and that it is only that Kaddish that we prefer to do that. The reason why it is not preferable elsewhere is because, once again, with Kaddish the congregation is having an obligation fulfilled via the minor. This is not applicable to these other parts of davening.

Question

If our Maaser money can go towards kids tuition, at what age does this start?

Answer

Firstly, let me state that one should not use Maaser money for tuition costs of his own children, boys or girls, unless he is in financial need. One can use Maaser to pay for other people's children, though. (Igros Moshe Y.D. vol. 5:113, also see the Chofetz Chaim's Ahavas Chesed 19) However, if one is in financial need, he may use Maaser for his daughters' tuition and also for any sons above the age of six. The reason for the differences in gender and age have to do with certain nuances of when one has an absolute Torah obligation to provide as a parent. (See Teshuvos Pri Yitchok vol. 2:27)

Question

Is a kiddush for a baby girl just a "nice minhag" or is there a deeper significance and importance to it?

Answer

Many assume that any custom that becomes widespread in Klal Yisrael must have tremendous significance.

Question

What are the main points to look for when checking out the arba minim? We trust that all the ones we see for sale are kosher, but other than that, what makes each species more mehudar than just grabbing whatever is cheapest and being content with that?

Answer

The details for checking to see whether or not they are kosher are too great to list in this column, but, as you mention, that is not what you are asking. The definition of mehudar (beautiful) is very subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so pick arba minim that look nice to you. Everyone has a different opinion as everyone has different tastes. Although, one should refrain from arba minim that are objectively unappealing even if the individual purchasing them finds them nice.

Question

Being that making aliyah to E"Y is a major mitzvah, why don't more Rabbanim in the US urge people to do so? I would think that rather than talking about how wonderful it is in Lakewood or Boro Park, they would just come out and say nobody should consider buying a home in the US any longer. Or are we being subtly encouraged to remain in galus until moshiach comes?

Answer

Firstly, let me state emphatically that Eretz Yisrael is certainly the place for the Jewish people. That stated let us address the following issues regarding the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael. The Ramban lists this as one of the positive commandments of Hashem and certainly felt strongly about it himself. (Hasagos HaRamban Mitzvas Aseh 4) The Ramban, as well as countless rabbanim dating back to the times of the Gemara, are recorded as taking great pains to ascend and live in the Holy Land and longed for it greatly. (See the last chapter of Kesubos and Ramban to Parshas VaYishlach) The Rambam, however, does not list this as a mitzvah and there is great debate as to why. The Megillas Esther, considered to be a classic commentator to the Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvos and whose work glosses the page, contends that the Rambam, in fact, does not believe that there is currently a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisrael. This position has been debated and there are those such as the Tashbetz and Avnei Nezer who maintain that the Rambam left it out of his list of 613 for technicalities, but that it certainly is a mitzvah. (See Tashbetz 3:288 and Avnei Nezer 2:454) Still yet, there are those who maintain that even if there is a commandment it is one that one may choose to fulfill but is not obligatory. This was the position of the great Torah scholar, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l. (See Igros Moshe Even HaEzer 1:102) While there happens to be precendent found in the writings of the Rishonim that it may be prohibited to ascend until Mashiach gathers us, this is generally recognized as being a single opinion and not reflecting the view of the majority of rabbanim. (Tosefos Kesubos 110b) All being said, it would seem that there is significant debate as to whether this is, in fact, an obligatory commandment. Even if it were, it is a Mitzvas Aseh and one need not give more than 20% of his livelihood in order to fulfill it. Nevertheless, as can be seen from above, most opinions would certainly maintain that a mitzvah is being fulfilled if one chooses to live in Eretz Yisrael and it is certainly something one should strive to do. Great sages used to roll in its dust just to immerse themselves in the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael and countless tzaddikim have kissed the ground in her borders upon entering.

Question

As a native Baltimorean, I recall a rumor from years ago that a certain posek/Rav/Gadol in the community was an expert at 1 time in reading people's palms, i.e. the lines on one's hands. From what I recall, this person stopped because of a very bad "reading" for some Jew in the community that came true. Is this really a permitted thing? Is it a kabbala-dikke thing? Are there mekubalim who still practice this nowadays, and if so, why don't we hear more about it?

Answer

Divining the future through means other than a bonafide prophet or the Urim V'Tumim is something that is not advocated. (See Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachya Devarim 18:9-15) Although these activities are only prohibited if done through non-kabbalisitic means (i.e. Sefer Yetzirah), conceptually it is something that many rabbanim discourage. One should be content and faithful in Hashem and daven and do mitzos in order to find favor in His eyes. Let Hashem bring the future and trust in Him. The need to control every factor of one's life often creates a lack of trust in Hashem's control over things. Tamim Tihyeh Im Hashem Elokecha (Remain perfect with Hashem your God. Devarim 18:15)

Question

I would never want to disagree with the Rav, but, in Brooklyn, NY, where I grew up, we only said Shir Hamaalos for benching on days where we davened Musaf.

Answer

No need to disagree, perhaps, just a different custom. The Shelah (the souce of the custom of saying Shir HaMaalos) mentions that it is to be recited on Shabbos, Yom Tov and days when no tachanun is said. He is recorded as saying such by the Aishel Avraham and the Mishna Berurah. This would explain why at a wedding or bris many say Shir HaMaalos even though no Musaf was recited. After seeing your question I decided to do some more research and looked through many siddurim including the Otzar HaTefilos (one of the standard compilations of customs for davening and brachos) and the Artscroll. All siddurim I saw stated the same requirement of tachanun vs. no tachanun and the Otzar HaTefilos cited the Aishel Avraham (who was citing the Shelah). I would love to hear back from you if you find where the custom of having a Musaf requirement orignated from.

Question

I heard that it is ussur to read my horoscope, is this true?

Answer

Halacha prohibits seeking out the future via astrological means. (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 179) Although it should be noted that there is significant dispute between the Rishonim as to what the exact prohibition includes. (See Rashi Shabbos 75a, Ibn Ezra VaYikra 19:26, Rambam Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 11, Megillas HaMegaleh 5, Ramban "Forgotten Mitzvos of the Rambam" Aseh 8, Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachaya Devarim 18:9-15 and Ramban Hasagos to Sefer HaMitzvos 1) However, the Ramban's opinion, as stated in his responsa and quoted by the Beis Yosef, is the one taken regarding Halachic application. (See Beis Yosef 179) Thus, one is prohibited from divining the events of the future via astrological means in order to apply that for Jewish people, or from seeking advice from one who claims to divine the future through these media. If, however, someone INADVERTANTLY saw something in the sky or was told by a REPUTABLE person of something bad that was going to occur, he must take the proper precautions to protect himself and property (although, as stated above he cannot ask for this advice or actively go and read it from a source that has printed it). It should also be noted that, in today's world, the chance of finding someone who truly knows the way to accurately decode the secrets of the stars is, in my opinion, slim to none.

Question

is it preferable for women to daven maariv or not?can you shed some light on this topic as i have heard various opinions on this matter?Thank you

Answer

A woman is not required to daven maariv, but is allowed to if she so desires. (See Mishna Berurah 106:4) Prior to making this descision, though, there is an important factor that should be kept in mind. Although there are many times when optional prayers are allowed, one should always make sure that he or she will have the proper mindset, disposition and concentration for the ENTIRE prayer that is going to be recited. The importance of the proper mindset, disposition and concentration in this situation is not merely something recommended, but, in fact, is the key factor as to whether or not the optional prayer is going to be pleasing or repulsive to Hashem. The Shulchan Aruch states that optional prayers are permissible, but the person doing so must be, "cautious, careful and have concluded that he or she is capable of prayer FROM BEGINNING TO END with proper concentration." If not says the Shulchan Aruch, "About this is stated, 'For what do I need these extra sacrifices.'" The Shulchan Aruch then concludes that it would be wonderful enough if people could just have the proper concentration for that which is mandatory. (Shulchan Aruch 107:4) So, although the desire to add extra prayers is certainly admirable, one should just make absolutely sure that the act of reciting extra prayers is what is truly desired. Women who are not reciting maariv should make sure to recite some verses pertaining to Yetziyas Mitzrayim, though, since there is a dispute as to whether they are required to mention Yetziyas Mitzrayim at night and with reciting verses it is better to err on the side of caution. (See Mishna Berura 70:4)

Question

Back to Shir hamalos, why then don't we say shir hamalos on Chanuka?

Answer

One should say Shir HaMalos on Chanukkah.

Question

Regarding my question about the tallis, i meant the practice of when first putting on the tallis, I see people gathering all the tzitzis together and tossing them over their shoulder for a second or 2. Please explain that part.

Answer

I am sorry for not being clear enough, hopefully the following can clarify. The main mitzvah is to wrap oneself in a tallis when donning it. There is dispute as to what constitutes wrapping. Placing the tallis over one's head to his mouth and throwing all four corners over his shoulder is called the wrapping style of the Ishmaelites and is considered to be wrapping according to all opinions. Therefore, this method is picked when donning the tallis because the validity of the other methods of wrapping is disputed. (See Baer Heitev O.C. 8:3 and Mishna Berurah 8:4)

Question

When does one recite Shir Hamolos before 'bentching'? What is the criteria to make this happen?

Answer

Shir HaMaalos is recited just before bentching on days when no tachanun is recited in davening.

Question

While doing kaporos, I came across a question. There is a special kaporoh said for a pregnant women, but why would the baby need any kaporoh?

Answer

Kapporos are a very interesting and mystical custom that is pervasive throughout most of the Jewish world. Many would maintain that the baby might need a kapprah for something from a previous life or "gilgul".

Question

Is it correct that earliest time to learn Shnayim Mikrah V'Echad Targum for V'Zos HaBarachah is on Hoshana Rabba?

Answer

Although there are a few recent opinions that state that as being true, the classic poskim do not hold of that opinion. One may start shnayim mikrah once the community begins reading that portion of the Torah. Therefore, starting on Shabbos afternoon one may begin for the next week. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 285:3 and Mishna Berurah 285:7-8) All the classic poskim cite the reason as being that the community has already begun to read the next week's portion and none make an exception for V'zos Habracha. In fact, no exception is made in cases when the full laining will be a couple weeks away such as this year's Yom Kippur on Shabbos which necessitates the reading being pushed off by more than a week from the first time it was read. (See Tur and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 285 and Aruch HaShulchan O.C. 285:10) The confusion seems to come from the fact that the Magen Avraham (10) cites from the Arizal to say shnayim mikrah for Vzos Habracha on the day before Simchas Torah (for kabbalistic reasons). The Mishna Berurah (18) mentions that it should be done on Hoshana Rabbah and not Shmini Atzeres if possible. Some assumed this meant that one cannot do it before, but it seems pretty clear that that is not the case. The Aruch HaShulchan (10) mentions that the Arizal was also very careful to always do shnayim mikrah on Friday. It is pretty clear that the Magen Avraham is only saying that in order to fulfill this extra stringency for Vzos Habracha that it should be done the day before Simchas Torah. The Mishna Berurah is clearly saying that that means Hoshana Rabbah instead of Shmini Atzeres. None of the poskim are saying that it cannot be done earlier. Please note how all sources are focused on what the Arizal would do. None of the sources are saying it cannot be done earlier (although then you would not have the added kabbalistic approach of the Arizal).

Question

Please explain the "double head covering" custom. Why do some wear a hat and a yarmulke, or daven with a tallis over their heads. Also, please explain the covering the head with the tallis and throwing it over the shoulder when putting it on.

Answer

There are several places in the Talmud where covering one's head is advocated as a regular practice. Having a headcovering displays honor and reverence for the One above. There is a dispute amongst the Rishonim whether this is obligatory or recommended, and what satisfies this requirement. In addition, when one is performing specific mitzvos we are taught that one's head should be covered. Throughout these discussions what seems to come out is the custom to wear a head covering like a yarmulke. Thus, some like the Bais Yosef suggest that in order to accommodate the added requirement of extra reverence during certain mitzvos that one have a secondary head covering at those times. (See Bais Yosef and Darchei Moshe O.C. 8, 91 + 183; also see Taz O.C. 8:3) During prayers it is suggested by many such as the Bach that one cover his head with a talis since that adds extreme reverence. (See Bach 8) Wrapping one's talis in that fashion comes from the fact that there is a special element of that mitzvah to be wrapped in a talis and be surrounded by mitzvos this method displays that adequately. (See Tur and Bais Yosef O.C. 8)

Question

Try as I may, I just can't seem to hold the feelings of connection and whatever else is supposed to happen on R"H and Y"K. After the first couple of hours in shul, I'm totally done. This is on Shabbos , too. It's really the long drawn outedness of it all. Do we really need all the piyutim, the chazzanus, the dreying over and over? Does davening have to take so long? I keep thinking if I led the service I'd have us out in 3 hours maximum even on Y"K, and why is that bad? Is it really necessary to take 3 hours for Kol Nidre if people lose interest after 1 hour? Should I just bring a book and read it while everyone else seems to really be into it all, or just go home and sleep or something? This is an issue for me every year. I wish there was a minyan somewhere on Shabbos that just said it all and finshed, without singing or any other unnecessary prolonging of davening.

Answer

Your self evaluation is blunt, but honest and that is a breath of fresh air. Many people pretend that they love the service and in reality are hating every second of it. Some discuss with others how much they enjoyed a beautiful davening, while in reality they were counting pages (and dividing by two if using an English translation), rolling their eyes at the chazzan and/or painfully waiting for it all to end. Certainly, that is a wholly inappropriate and dishonest way for one to serve Hashem. Recognizing who and where one is spiritually is the best tool that allows one to grow in his Avodas Hashem (religious service). While one should strive to develop the skills not only to tolerate the services but to enjoy them, one also needs to serve Hashem currently with love and not disdain. The first suggestion I would make would be to find out if there are minyanim (perhaps in someone's home) that daven at an accelerated/"no nonsense" but comfortable pace that suits you. People are individuals and shuls/minyanim are for groups so nothing will be perfect (most probably). Since, chances are, you will end up somewhere that may be a little too long for your comfort zone, other techniques should be employed to ensure a meaningful and fulfilling Yom Kippur for yourself. A major rule to remember is that it is better to say fewer portions of the davening with the proper understanding and disposition then to say many portions without. Sit down prior to Yom Kippur with a machzor (and a Rav if necessary) and figure out which are the few parts that are absolutely obligatory. Those, make sure to say appropriately. Then with the vast majority of what is left figure out which speak to you and get you in the appropriate Yom Kippur mindset and allow for you to express yourself to Hashem adequately without beginning to feel those feelings of boredom and resentment. Now, you probably have a nice portion that is leftover. Bring some meaningful, but not boring, materials to read with you and also allow for many breaks (long ones if necessary) and make sure to space them out appropriately. I would encourage you not to leave the shul building (but do plan on leaving the sanctuary) and go home to sleep unless it is absolutely necessary. The main thing is to be intellectually honest (something it seems you are) and keep your objectives and goals set on serving Hashem. You may find that you will sit through some parts that you did not even select in advance (or you may not). Either way, you should find that you are no longer seeing the entirety of the services as a huge chore and you can then begin to work (over the years) with trying to slowly incorporate more parts of the davening into your Yom Kippur and that you may appreciate them. By starting out with this type of a plan you can actually begin with an appreciation for YOUR Yom Kippur services and that attitude displays Emes (truthfulness) and you will be able to pray more sincerely, as well. Another point of advice I would offer is also to prepare for Yom Kippur by reading inspirational material prior to the day itself, that may help you gain a slightly different perspective of the services, as well. Good luck and G'mar Chasima Tova!

Question

First of all, G'mar Chasima Tova. We were invited for Shimini Atzeres lunch out to friends. My family has a minhag to eat Shimini Atzeres in the sukkah for the entire meal. Our friends who invited us, make kiddush, then have a mezonos in the sukkah and then go back in inside their house for Challah etc. Can you share some thoughts on this?

Answer

The basic understanding of the Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch is that, in the Diaspora, one must sit in a Sukkah on Shmini Atzeres for his meals since Shmini Atzeres is also considered to be the last day of Chol HaMoed Sukkos besides being SHmini Atzeres (since we have two days of Yom Tov in the Diaspora). Thus, based on the above, one would have all the requirements of eating in a Sukkah so long as they do not outwardly detract from the honor of Shmnini Atzeres. Since people will sometimes eat a liesurely meal outside or in a gazebo, it is not detracting from Shmini Atzeres by eating there and, according to the above, it would therefore be required. There is a debate between the Raavyah and Gra as to whether one must even sleep there on that day. However, there is a custom that seems to have roots as far back as in the days of the Rishonim to eat in the house with, perhaps, just kiddush (and some cakes) in the Sukkah. In recent years there has been a push to keep the more easily understood practice of eating in the Sukkah since the other custom's validity has been questioned based on the halachic concerns. If your custom is to eat in the Sukkah you should graciously decline the invite because the requirement of eating in the Sukkah is absolute and it would be prohibited for you to eat outside the Sukkah.

Question

As this is the season for the 3 day yom tov, I have to ask: Is one allowed to shower on yom tov?

Answer

The answer is both yes (with some conditions) and no. The variable is who you ask. There are many rabbanim who believe it is prohibited and others who are of the opinion that it is permitted, but with several conditions that must be met. Unfortunately, the space constraints of this column do not allow me to go into the specifics, so I would recommend you speak with your Rav and see if he permits it and what the conditions are. I should note, though, all maintain that one may wash his hands and face with hot water and there is a mitzvah to do so prior to Shabbos EVEN when Friday is Yom Tov.

Question

I was offered an aliyah yesterday (Tzom Gedalyah), but the gabai first asked me if I had fasted. What's the difference whether or not I did fast? isn't an aliyah an aliyah no matter what? It almost felt like I was offered an aliyah on Shabbos and was asked if I drove to shul? I was so taken aback!

Answer

It is horrible that you were made to feel that way, especially on a Taanis when we should be focused on bringing everyone together instead of pulling people apart. The reading on a fast day was decreed specifically for those that are fasting, though. As such, someone who is not fasting should not take an aliyah, rather, he should make sure that he is not called to the Torah. If he is the only kohain, he should even leave the shul prior to the aliyah in order to make sure that he is not called (the same rule applies to the chazzan). (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 566:5-6 and Mishna Berurah 566:18-21) As it happens, yesterday, I personally was sick with 101 degree (F) fever and, therefore, was required to eat based on Halacha. I made it a point to tell the gabai not to call me to the Torah for this very reason. Still, every individual Shomer Shabbos person is considered to be following Halacha unless otherwise proven. Therefore, I personally feel that the gabai should not have asked this question. If he had GOOD reason to suspect that one is not fasting then he should give the aliyah to someone else and not ask about it.

Question

Why is it that out of all the parshios throughout the year they all fall on their own shabbos, but Vzos Habracha never does? Is there a deeper signifigance to this?

Answer

In his "Ma SheHaya Hu SheYehyeh", Rav Eli Wolf shlita discusses the importance of V'Zos HaBracha on Simchas Torah. There are several factors that were taken into account when making it the Torah reading. One aspect is the finishing of the Torah on the day of Shmini Atzeres (2nd day for us). This is a time of tremendous simcha and happiness when Hashem "asks" us to remain with Him for one more day of holiday before we "leave" to go back to our daily lives. It is at this moment that we express our love and joy by completing the Torah. This parsha also has many verses that express how special the Jewish nation is to Hashem, something apropos for this time. I have wondered if we are also adding to this by having it on a Yom Tov which is based on calendar that is regulated by the Jewish nation. Shabbos happens indepedent of the actions of the Jews, but Yom Tov only is holy because we ordain it holy through our calendar. This also shows the special relationship we have with Hashem. He loves us so much that he empowers us with this mighty task. Either way, it should be noted that most years this parsha is only read on Yom Tov, but every so often it is read on Shabbos but only in Eretz Yisrael.

Question

As a follow up to the last question, does that mean that women do, in fact, say a brocha when they go to the mikveh?

Answer

Yes, they do make a bracha when they are in the mikveh. They should fold their arms around their abdomen while they are in the water and recite the bracha. Many also recite some other prayers. (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 200:1 and Taz and Shach Y.D. 200:1)

Question

I'm so happy that this forum for answering shailos exists. I'm embarrassed to ask and this way I can learn so much. By reading a recent answer I learned that you do not say a bracha when going to the Mikvah. What about the yehi ratzon sheyebaneh bais hamikdash, etc? Do we say it with uncovered head and while being unclothed? Thank you so much

Answer

Firstly, thank you, I am very happy to help. Secondly, let me clarify that the question to which you were referring is specific to men going to the mikveh in contemporary times. Regarding your current question, a man is unable to recite holy prayers when unclothed or when there is nothing separating between his heart and his genitals. If the water were so cloudy that one could not see through it there might be a way to recite holy prayers, but, very thankfully, that is not usually the case. Therefore, such prayers should not be recited in the mikveh itself. In clear water one could make a separation between the heart and genitals with a towel or even his arms around his abdomen, but it is probably better to just say the holy prayers either before or after immersing and being unclothed since there are also many other unclothed men nearby. (See Shach Y.D. 200:1)

Question

Based on your answer on the new fruits, you are assuming the person is eating an apple on the second night which, from what I have heard, most people do not. If they are only having those fruits wouldn't they make a ha'aitz any time after making motzi and, of course, the shehecheyanu was taken care of in Kiddush?

Answer

You are correct that many do not have the apple on the second night. If that is the case then one would need to make a Ha'Eitz on these fruits. Since the whole custom of eating a new fruit is for the Shehechiyanu in kiddush, that Shehecihyanu is applicable to them.

Question

My new fruits this year are leechees and passion fruit. What bracha do I make on them in general? By the meal on Rosh hashana? And finally as well as the apple, why do I make a bracha if I know I am having it after I make Motzei?

Answer

Lychee and passion fruit are both Ha'Eitz regardless of when they are eaten. At the meal on Rosh Hashana, though, you should have in mind that they be included in the Ha'Eitz made on the apple. A Ha'Motzei only includes food items that are considered to be main portions of the meal such as meats, cheeses, etc. Fruits and candies are not included, so a new bracha must be recited on them. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 177:1)

Question

Last year, we were priviledged with heavy wind which knocked down many sukkahs. Assuming one's sukkah stays standing (IYH), is there a permissible way to tie down schach in some manner?

Answer

Yes. You may use string to secure your schach. If doing so it is preferable to use natural materials and not synthetics.

Question

What is the purpose of going to the Mikveh on erev R'H and Yom Kippur? Also, what is the earliest time that I am permitted to go.Finally, do I make a bracha; if I do, how does that get done?

Answer

There are two reasons given for the immersion in the Mikveh during this time period. The first is in order to become ritually clean from some of the regular impurities that can befall a person throughout the year. When one is greeting the King of all kings on these very holy days one wants to be of the highest spiritual purity possible. The other reason that going to the Mikveh is seen as an act of repentence, a major focus during this time. One may go all day, but many have the custom to wait until after midday. No blessing is recited. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 606:4 and Mishna Berurah 606:21)

Question

When exactly is zman Rabbeinu Tam?

Answer

This answer, unfortunately, cannot provide the most comprehensive background to your question because of the tremendous complexity involved. There is an apparent contradiction between a Talmudic passage in Miseches Shabbos (34b) and another in Miseches Pesachim (95a) regarding how to calculate the end of the day in halacha. Rabbeinu Tam is famous for his resolution of this matter. The conventional understanding assumes that Rabbeinu Tam's day ends at a 4 "mil" time span from sunset. The most frequent ways to calculate this are either by using 72 minutes after sunset or figuring when the sun is 16.1 degrees below the horizon (which in Baltimore will always be much more than 72 minutes). There are, however, many other opinions as to how to understand this opinion. Coincidentally, Yehoshua, I have written extensively on this topic in my sefer Tiferes Aryeh on Miseches Zevachim (chapter 30) and it would seem to me that it should be when the sun is 4.2 degrees below the horizon (which in Baltimore ranges from approximately 17 - 21 minutes after sunset).

Question

Yesterday, as I was turning around my car, I scraped some paint off another guy's bumper in a parking lot. There was NO ONE around. I wrote a short letter of apology and $50, all the cash I had on and have access to (I'm in college). There is a strong likelihood that it was a goy's car. Am I obligated to find out who the owner is and give him more $?

Answer

There are a lot of factors to be taken into account with your case. One of these factors is where the incident took place. The interaction between halacha and American law is complex and many more details are necessary to be gathered before commenting on the obligatory action. I can say that it would be appropriate to contact the owner of the other car and inform him that as an observant Jew you wish to repay him.

Question

As it relates to Rosh Hashana, on which of the 2 day(s) are the "simanim" to be eaten/said and on which of 2 day(s) should the "shehechiyanu" be eaten/said?

Answer

The simanim, such as an apple in honey, are symbolic of what one is hopeful that Hashem will grant him over the course of the year that is beginning. While some maintain that it is the symbolism that creates a wordly representation for these blessing to actualize, others maintain that they are merely a tool for the individual, helping him to concentrate on the prayer that is recited with them. Either way, the main point of them is that they are performed at the beginning of the year which is on the first night of Rosh Hashana. Some, however, do equate the second night with the first completely, so they perform them on the second night as well. The new fruit should be presented and eaten on the second night of Rosh Hashana and not the first. The reason for this custom is that the sages treat the two days of Rosh Hashana as one long day. The other festivals that have two days in the Diaspora are treated as two distinct days, one biblically ordained and the other rabbincally. Therefore, they are considered to contain two completely different qualities and one may make the shehechiyanu blessing on the second night since he is now experiencing a new time period that has special sanctification. Since Rosh Hashana is considered to be one long day there is dispute as to whether one is experiencing a new day with new sanctification. Therefore, in order to make the blessing with certainty the custom arose to have a new fruit on the second night and to have the blessing be on the fruit in addition to the day. If a fruit is not available, though, one should still make the blessing.

Question

Will i be m'kayaim "lachem" on first day of Sukkos for Lualv and Esrog if someone gives them to me as a matana or as payment (in lieu of money) for a business transction

Answer

Yes. The requirement derived from the word "lachem", which means "yours" in the Torah is that the lulav (and other species taken with it) be owned properly by the one performing the mitzvah. This is an absolute requirement on the first day of Sukkos. As such a borrowed lulav cannot be used since it is not owned by the one performing the mitzvah. A stolen lulav also cannot be used since it is not owned properly, rather, it was acquired in a prohibited fashion and the Torah does not recognize that transaction. Both payment for an outstanding loan or balance and gifting are valid and recognized transactions. Thus, the lulav would be properly owned by you and you may use it.

Question

The rav states (in the daily halacha posted on the site):"Even though the Rambam maintains that it (meaning the tefillin straps) should also be black, this is not the Jewish custom as is mentioned by both Rav Yosef Karo (Beis Yosef) and the Rema" (Darchei Moshe). (Mishna Berurah 33:21)However, as far as I'm aware there are now Tefillin where the straps of the Shel Rosh are painted, or come in, black just so that in case the retzuah flips around you always see black. How do you reconcile that?

Answer

The Mishna Berurah does not state it is prohibited to dye the inside of the tefillin strap black, he merely mentions it is not the Jewish custom and then cites the primary Sephardi and Ashkenazi poskim (the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema). In recent years there are some who introduce stringencies in order to accommodate the views of more opinions. In this instance, this is what is being done. All the Mishna Berurah is stating is that, in this instance, this is not the traditional Jewish custom, he does not mention that it is prohibited. In these instances one should ask their personal Rav for guidance to see whether including more opinions or keeping the Mesorah (tradition) is more important for them individually.

Question

I recently began davening at the Agudah and noticed that they dont call people up for hagbah and gelilah-they just tell them to go up to the bimah-where other shuls do a Ya'amod for each. Why?

Answer

When reading the Torah we try to reenact the moment at Sinai when it was actually given to us many years ago. As such we have one person who is personifying Moshe Rabbeinu and that is done by the one who reads the Torah to the nation just like Moshe spoke forth Hashem's Torah to us. The one called to the Torah is representing the nation that accepted the Torah. We also have another who "plays the part" of Hashem (obviously this is metaphorical as Hashem has no form or image). This individual, the Gabbai, commands the participants to read the Torah by calling them up to read from the Torah by name, similar to Hashem's commanding the nation to keep His Torah. (See Mishna Berurah 141:16) This practice is only applicable during the time when the actual Torah reading is being performed since that is when we are considered to be receiving it, once again. Hagbah and Gelilah, on the other hand, are the practice of wrapping up the Torah and the reason for having the Gabbai call them up is not applicable. So, the real question is why do many congregations have the Gabbai call them and not why some shuls do not. The answer to that is that since it is associated with the Torah reading the custom carried over, also, perhaps, in order for the participants not to feel as if their participation is less worthy.

Question

In Shmoney Esray, I notice that when they come up from bowing, some people lift their head upward and then stand straight. It's almost like they are looking up first and then straightening up. Why do they do that? At first i thought it was just one person doing it, but recently I've noticed it more and more

Answer

When one bows he is supposed to bow quickly and in one fell swoop, but when he straightens himself from this position he is supposed to do so slowly. He is also supposed to straighten with the head leading the rest of the body in order to demonstrate that bowing to Hashem is in no way a burden to him. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 113:6) Undoubtedly you are seeing people engaged in the aforementioned practice since it is necessary for the head to be positioned with a slight incline in order for it be leading the rest of the body.

Question

How would one get a hold of your sefer?

Answer

Excellent question! I had a distributor who had a very limited supply in the New York/New Jersey stores when they first came out. B"H they pretty much sold out. I have been waiting for Daf Yomi to get to Zevachim to remarket the Zevachim one. I plan on going to Shabsi's within the next week, as well. My first sefer (on sugyos in Shas) is currently available at Shabsi's. You can also purchase from me at my home, so feel free to give me a call. Please keep your eyes open for the next sefer (an English work) which I hope to release Chanukkah time (it is still being edited).

Question

Either I daven slowly or the chazzan davens too quickly-either way, because I don't want to interrupt where I am in davening and/or because I'm afraid I'll be doing wrong, I find myself in a position where I end up missing a lot of Amains, etc. How do I know when I can and when I cannot answer? It is so frustrating. Are there any guidelines or help you can offer?

Answer

Unfortunately, there is not a very easy way to just give a couple of rules, but thankfully there aren't too many that it is impossible to figure them out. I would suggest finding a siddur that has a chart with the appropriate responses and/or coming to daven early and getting a head start; the main thing is to start Shemonah Esrei with the congregation. During Pesukei D"Zimra you may respond Amein to any blessing, but you may not say Baruch Hu U'Varuch Sh'mo. You may also respond to Kaddish, Barchu, Kedusha and Modim. If the congregation is saying Shema you should say the first three verses with them. The only exceptions are: 1) If you are in the first part of the blessing part of Baruch SheAmar (you said Baruch Ata Hashem the first time) or the blessing part of Yishtabach you may respond to all the above except Amein to one of these two blessings of Baruch SheAmar and Yishtabach. 2) During the second blessing part of Baruch SheAmar (you said Baruch Ata Hashem the second time) you may not respond to any of the above. After Barchu you must determine whether you are in the middle of a blessing/paragraph or in between. If you are in between blessings/paragraphs then you may answer Amein to any blessing; regarding the other responses above you may only respond in the same fashion as if you were in the middle of a blessing/paragraph. If you are in the middle of a paragraph you may only say Amein to Ha(K)el HaKadosh and Shomeyah Tefillah of the Chazzan's repition of Shemonah Esrei. You may only respond Amein Yeheih Shmeih Rabbah and the Amein to the part of Kaddish that first says DaAmiran B'Alma V'Imru Amein. You may only say the verse Kadosh Kadosh, etc. and Baruch Kevod of Kedusha (and only the verse itself). No response is permitted between the end of Shema and the beginning of the following blessing.

Question

After doing much research into the topic I am left with a question. There seems to be a minhag to have a fish head on the table on Rosh Hashana, yet after seeing the shulchan Aruch and Mishnah brura it seems that there is only a minhag for sheep, cow, or even chicken heads. The best being sheep for it corresponds to 'akaidas Yitchak' as well as the fact that Yitchak was going to undergo a 'Schitta'. Mishna Brura brings cow and chicken, seemingly becasue you would still be left with Shcitta, (and on those say 'lrosh vlo lezanav'. So where is the 'mekor' for a fish head?!?

Answer

The "simanim", signs, are utilized to symbolize specific concepts with visual aids. Over the years many have been included based on their names in languages, even ones other than Hebrew. As such, conceptually one can display the concept of being the "head" and not the "tail" with any animal, even a fish. You are correct that it is better to use an animal that requires shechita since it also symbolizes Akeidas Yitzchak (see the foreword to my Tiferes Aryeh on Zevachim), but throughout the ages there were many times when this was unavailabe to many. Often times they were able to have fish (especially since there is another "siman" that has to do with fish), so they used the best alternative possible.

Question

What is the significance of and why is it that aseres b'Teves is the exception to the general rule, that if it (a fast) falls out on a Friday it is usually carried out on the Thursday (day before) before that? Very many (in fact most) frum Jews I know are rather surprised that this fast falls out on Friday 17th December and will take place on that day. All I've spoken to have said they've never done this before. To be honest, I don't recall ever fasting on a Friday before either!I did ask around and was told that this fast is an exception and happens despite falling out on a Friday and comes around every eight or so years???

Answer

You are correct that Asara B'Teves is the only communal fast that is carried out on a Friday. The reason is not that it is an exception, though. The reason why we do not fast the other fasts on Friday is not because they are pushed to Thursday, rather, it is because our calendar does not allow for them to fall on a Friday (although I am positive that one can "darshan" what has become an anomaly). The rule about pushing a fast to Thursday (or in Tisha B'Av's case to Sunday) is when they fall on Shabbos itself. Once we are not observing the actual date itself, we push it off to Thursday in order not to interfere in the slightest with Shabbos preparation or with feeling weak at the onset of Shabbos. However, when the day is being observed in its time, it would not be pushed off (Taanis Esther may be an exception see Tanchuma Bereishis 2,3). Our calendar only allows for this with Asara B'Teves. In fact, there is a dispute as to whether or not a personal and voluntary fast may be completed on a Friday and there are Rishonim that maintain that one can. The Gemara relates situations when Tisha B'Av, not Asara B'Teves, happened on a Friday; our calendar was not enacted until close to the end of the time period of the Gemara. (See Tanchuma Bereishis 2,3; Sheiltos 1; Eruvin 41a; Tosefos Eruvin 41a d"h Shani; Tur O.C. 572). May we merit Asara B'Teves' transformation into a day of rejoicing and festivities. (See Zechariah 8:19)

Question

My friend told me that in terms of waiting between meat and milk there are many 'heterim' or leniencies for pregnant women. Is there truth to this? If so, please share them..

Answer

There are many different customs for waiting between meat and milk. The customs range from one to six hours. The reason and severity of waiting is something debated by the Rishonim. In some cases of illness one may be lenient and rely upon the custom to wait only one hour (providing a blessing was recited to end the meat meal prior to starting the dairy meal). (See Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 89:2) It is possible that some pregnant or nursing women may be classified as "ill" and may therefore rely upon this custom. Since not all illnesses allow for this leniency, and not all pregnant or nursing women are necessarily considered to be this weak, a Rav should be consulted and the information pertaining to the specific person should be presented to see if she is considered "ill" in the halachic sense.

Question

If we took a parve plastic measuring spoon and measured a milchig powder (dry milk in it as well as sodium caseinate-a milk derivitve). Is it still parve?

Answer

Assuming that nothing was hot then you should rinse it off with cool water and it will be pareve.

Question

Why do some people wear their Tallis over their head?

Answer

The Shulchan Aruch mentions that it is appropriate to cover one's head with a talis. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 8:2) The Beis Yosef and Bach both mention that this particular head covering humbles one's heart and brings Yiras Shamayim, the fear of Hashem. Although not necessary, the Bach advocates covering one's head for the entire duration of davening. (See Mishna Berurah 8:4)

Question

Why do we remove the tefilling before musaf on Rosh Chodesh?

Answer

There is/was a prevalent custom to say, "Keser Yitnu Lecha," ("A crown they will give to You") for the Kedusha of Musaf instead of the regular "NeKadesh" ("We will sanctify"). It is considered inappropriate to have one's personal crown, his tefillin, adorn his head while reciting this. The custom spread to areas where Keser was not said (Nusach Ashkenaz) and became the prevalent custom. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 25:13)

Question

When doing teshuva, does a person have to reveal to another if they have done something against them that he/she does not know about, or is it best not to tell and ask for mechila from Hashem?

Answer

It is necessary to receive forgiveness from the victim of one's actions. Without this forgiveness, the one who has committed the sin will not attain forgiveness from Hashem. (Rambam Teshuva 2:9)

Question

If someone makes a bracha to tovel some items, and, during the course of toveling those items, a conversation takes place, do the items toveled after speaking need a separate bracha or have they been sufficiently toveled?

Answer

It depends. If prior to dipping the first item the person spoke then a new blessing would be required. If it was after at least one item was dipped then no new blessing is necessary, although conversation should be avoided. The basic reason behind this is that prior to the immersion of the first item, the blessing hasn't "taken effect" (so to speak) on anything. After that point the blessing has "taken effect" and is just continuing for the remaining items. It would be comparable to checking for chametz prior to Pesach. One should not talk during the search, but talking, unless between the blessing and the beginning of the search, does not require a new blessing to be recited.

Question

I've noticed that at the end of davening when there are no chiyuvim to say a Kaddish, that in many cases someone decides to say a Kaddish. First of all , is there a chiyuv to say Kaddish at all? And if so, should they be saying this Kaddish at the end of Alainu-which I think most people do-or at the end of entire davening i.e. after the shiur shel yom?

Answer

The Kaddish to which you are referring is called the Kaddish Yasom. It is not obligatory, but there is a prevalent custom to say it after Aleinu. This Kaddish is not said by the Chazzan because it was left for people who are unable to be a Chazzan, but wish to say Kaddish. Even when there are no mourners in the shul, a person who has lost a parent should say this Kaddish since the custom is to have a Kaddish at this point. (Levush 133)

Question

Is a divorced father permitted to use his maaser money to pay child support?

Answer

The father being divorced, generally, does not absolve him of his responsibilities to his child regardless of who has custody of the child. Therefore, the regular rules of determining which expenses (including those of the child for whom the father is paying) may be subtracted from gross income pre-maaser and which of the child's expenses can be paid from maaser itself will remain the same as if the father was not divorced. Therefore, the parents should make sure to determine precisely which expenses the child support will be used to pay.

Question

Someone I know just had an operation that involved placing a bone from a cadaver in to his body. In fact, his doctor asked him whether or not he is a kohain.Do the laws of tumah apply to him, i.e., a kohain couldn't be in the same building as he, etc.?

Answer

No, those rules do not apply. Once the bone is in place it functions as part of his body. Also, even if the rules would apply, there would be no problem. A bone of a deceased person only makes one spiritually unclean if he touches it. Being in the same room presents no problem unless it is the majority of a skeleton (or perhaps a skull). (See Ohalos 2:1 and 2:3) Additionally, the bone may be from a gentile and although we try to be just as stringent in cases involving bones of gentiles, there can be leniencies at times. (See Yevamos 61a and Tosfos there; also see Rambam Avel 3:3 and Tumas Meis 1:13. Also see Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 372:2)

Question

Would a jewish police officer arresting another jew be considered a moser?

Answer

Many factors would need to be considered before answering this question and, therefore, one should ask his personal Rav prior to entering into the force. These issues include, but are not limited to, what the answers to the following questions will be. For what infraction is he being arrested? Does the criminal continue to pose a risk to others? Is the justice system corrupt or fair (like in the U.S.)? Because of the many variables, each situation will have a different answer, and there is a wide spectrum of opinions on these matters within the world of halacha. Therefore, the matter needs to be discussed personally with one's own Rav.

Question

Following up on the earlier judging question, I was wondering if a Jewish civil court judge would be allowed to recuse themselves if the litigants were Jewish. Would that be a case of handing them over to secular authorities?

Answer

No it would not. This is not a case of what is called "moser" since that could only be when one informs the authorities of another's actions. The government would then take action against that individual. (These laws are complex, especially when one lives in country with a just system like the U.S. Therefore, one should ask a personal question to his Rav in such matters.) Taking someone to a regular court instead of a Bais Din when trying to settle a civil dispute is a different prohibition entirely. Chazal explain that in the beginning of Parshas Mishpatim when the Torah says, "And these are the laws to be placed unto them ...," that the Torah was stating that matters of civil dispute are to be taken EXCLUSIVELY to a Bais Din. It makes no difference whether the judge is Jewish or not. Either way, it is not a Bais Din system, rather, it is a foreign justice system. This prohibition applies to the litigants and not the judge (although the judge may be considered a participant in the process if he facilitates the process. How to avoid this and other issues would have been addressed in the earlier discussions the judge had with his Rav prior to his appointment). If the judge were to recuse himself he is not having these litigants do anything differently then if he were to rule on the case himself; the litigants have already been in violation, assuming no permission was granted by a Bais Din, even if he were to rule on the matter himself. Therefore, he is doing nothing wrong by recusing himself from the case.

Question

Why do we lift our heals during kedusha?

Answer

This custom is mentioned by the Rema. (O.C. 125) The reason given is that we are mimicking the angels with our praises at this point in time. In the section of Sefer Yechezkel where this is discussed the Navi mentions that the angels have wings dedicated for flying. Thus, we "hop" to mimick this motion. (Mishna Berura 125:8)

Question

What is the reason that when one returns from saying oseh shalom in kaddish or shmoneh esray they lift their heels much like we do for Kadosh in Kedusha?

Answer

There seems to be no reason for this whatsoever and, in fact, it does not seem to be a valid practice. Rather, it seems to be some sort of mistake that many people currently perpetuate. It is not mentioned in the sifrei minhag and cannot be found in any of the classic halachic literature. In Orach Chaim 123, the Shulchan Aruch and classic commentaries discuss how to step back from one's shemonah esrei in tremendous detail and none of them (including the Mishna Berurah and Aruch HaShulchan) make even a the slightest mention of this practice. It seems to be a very recent practice and some attribute it to a mistake in one of the following two concepts. The first theory is that pious people would sometimes happen to finish their long shemonah esrei as the congregation was beginning kedusha. It would then mistakenly appear as if the pious individuals were lifting their heels as they finished shemonah esrei, but in reality they were doing so for kedusha. Another theory is based on the concept that when praying without a congregation one should wait the amount of time it takes to walk 4 amos (approximately 6 - 8 feet) after stepping backwards before returning to his original position. (Rema O.C. 123:2) In order to "count" the time people began to hop. Whether these theories are correct or not, though, is irrelevant. This practice does not have basis in traditional Judaism.

Question

B"H we have frum people now on the court benches. My question is, based on the laws of moser, if 2 Jews come before a Jewish civil judge, does the judge have to recuse himself from hearing and judging the case?

Answer

The issue at hand is not moser, the turning in of a Jew to a non-Jewish court, rather, obligating one Jew to pay another based on civil law which may be in conflict with halacha (or if a criminal case it would be punishment that may not be recognized by halacha). There certainly is a concept of Dina D'Malchusa Dina that gives some credence to civil law, although its application (especially to criminal law) is heavily debated. There are varying opinions about this matter and prior to appointment to the bench a prospective judge should consult with his personal Rav.

Question

Based on today's halacha that one should not have his tzitzis "out" in the presence of a niftar, why then do we not tuck them in when entering the funeral home at the livayah where the "mais" is there?

Answer

Many people do, in fact, tuck in their tzitzis in such situations. Keep in mind that if one's tzitzis are not exposed due to a jacket or coat covering them then that is good enough. Those that keep them out do have something to rely upon if they are at least 4 amos (aproximately 6.5 - 8 feet) from the deceased. The Shulchan Aruch mentions that this halacha applies to entering a cemetery OR being within 4 amos of a dead body/individual grave. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 23:2) This distance certainly refers to an outdoor scenario, but there is dispute as to how to treat a room. Some treat the entire room as being within 4 amos and require the tzitzis to be tucked in, and others maintain that the 4 amos distance applies indoors, as well. (Mishna Berurah 45:2) It is fairly easy to accommodate the stringent opinion and tuck them in and it also displays a sensitivity and respect for the dead. However, if one is distant enough from the deceased, there is what to rely upon.

Question

This morning I poured hot water in a mug to make my coffee and noticed a dead ant swimming in it. Is my mug now treif?

Answer

My guess is that it was floating and not doing a backstroke otherwise he probably wasn't dead! Either way, it is pretty gross! You have not made your mug treif (not kosher). In fact, if you wanted to, you could have removed the dead ant and used the water for your coffee (although my guess is that you chose not to). Objects, such as bugs, that gross people out are considered to give over a foul taste to food (even if they actually taste pretty good). Therefore, the residual bug taste does not render the food into which it fell, nor the cup (or other vessel) that contained the food as not kosher. Of course the bug itself is always considered not kosher. (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 107:2) Please be aware that if you choose to remove the bug and keep the food, you should discard some of the food when removing the bug if this occurs on Shabbos (as apparently happened to you) in order to avoid a Borer problem.

Question

Our Baal Koraiy is an older man and someone who I consider a tremendous Talmid Chochom. I've noticed that in a situation where he may have forgotten the trop and goes back and repeats the words again, he has no problem at all with repeating Hashem's name. Is there an opinion that something like that is permissible?

Answer

Perhaps. Many times the trop (tune) that the Baal Koreh (Torah reader) uses can change the meaning of the words. There are some elements of trop, such as an esnachta, that create a pause in a sentence and this can drastically change the meaning of the sentence as a whole. In many of these scenarios, the pasuk is already distorted at the time of the mistake and finishing it will not help to fix the problem. Therefore, one may stop and start again EVEN THOUGH a name of Hashem has been mentioned. One should certainly NOT CONTINUE if there is another name of Hashem after the point of the mistake in such a situation, rather, he should go back to the beginning of the pasuk. (See Mishna Berurah 142:4) Also, it is possible that the Baal Koreh is so flustered that he is unable to continue without picking up his momentum by going back and starting again even in a case where the trop did not change the meaning of the sentence. While it would be better if he could figure it out without repeating, if he physically cannot this may be the only solution. Since the Baal Koreh you have mentioned is, as you say, a tremendous Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar), I am certain he is acting in an appropriate fashion.

Question

well its summer time and I've been doing some jewish reading lately at my local synagogue and i have a predicament: if a person doesn't say Birchas Hashachar, apparently he is allowed to say it all day. However he can't say Elokai Neshama because he is considered to have already said it in Michayai Hameisim in Shemoneh esrai', if so given that tosefot in brachos relays to us that the entire shemoneh esrai is a bracha hasmucha lechverta then the brach of alokei avraham goes as well on matir asurim and if so then why are we allowed to say the brachah of matir asurim, another question that came to my mind while reading up on our rich tradition, is that the rashash in baba matziah i think it's daf kuf beis or around there, asks a kashia that the gemara says one enters the world without sin if so than tsareich eiun on those who discuss gilgulim, i did see that the satmar rebbe i think in parshas nitzavim and some other chasidishe sefer do discuss the kashia, but the concept of gilgulim is widely discussed in mainstream sources such as the or hachaim, etc. besides the known letters and statements of the ari zal and r chaim vital, i also recently saw and old letter written by the son of one of the famous mefarshei hamishna that began 'if i were to beleive in kabbala', i'm very not knowlegable of these subjects, but the distinctions of the talmudic perspective and that of the interactive kabbalah-hamaasis of the ari zal are vastly different and there theoretically could be room for denial of the entire idea, what is the historical acceptance and dispution of these matters or are they mainstreamly accepted. another question i've been wrestling with lately is kiddush bmakom seudah, it is a machloket if need immeadiate (m"a and m"b) or not (i think the pm"g and a""a buchach) and i was wondering what are they arguing about and if kiddush bmakom seudah is of the kiddush that the yain be yain chashuv (rashbam) and the seudah is a kovaieh of that' of krati lashabbos oneg is lakadshoh of the interest of the seudah to elevate it and be makadeish it, these are real questions ive been having lately- no answers- thank u - also if u have time theres a machloket if the mashiach will have to do mophsim (rambam and raivad) and the rambam througout the end of malachim takes his approach found as well in the letter to yemen (see there and in the 3 shavous by the satmar rebbe is suppossed to discuss it) what other material is there concerning the issue. i also wanted to know if u had a pashat in the mairi in baba kama samach beis amud bais on the issue of kephel by shtaros ive never seen a good pashat in it adressing that he sounds like kephel is paid on the entire chov (not like tosfos like at the roshei yashivas say' i dont think they are right) what the question and what's the answer. i dont' usually go on the computer but my wife signed up on this website and i figured i'd get some questions of mine out- thanks.

Answer

Interesting questions, but I must tell you that unfortunately it seems you wrote them down very quickly and they are somewhat unclear thus rendering some of them difficult to decipher. I also wish to apologize to the public that is reading this because due to the nature of this segment and the nature of these questions I do not feel that I will be able to explain the background in as much detail as I normally do. That said, let's take it from the top. Even though the brachos are semuchos lechaverta, that does not mean that the text of the middle of the bracha is assumed to be placed in the end or beginning. It just means that the end of one bracha is sufficient to be considered the beginning of the next. Therefore, the matir asurim in the second bracha is only a middle addition and not considered to be the siyum habracha and it cannot therefore be considered to be like a full bracha of matir asurim since it is not in the "bracha" part. Mechaye HaMaisim, on the other hand, is the siyum habracha and is therefore able to be considered a full bracha. Next, the concept of reincarnation is one that has been disputed throughout the generations. I am not sure why you assume Kabbalah, and gilgul, started with the Arizal (16th century), they clearly were matters discussed well before his time. In fact, Rabbeinu Bachye (14th century) discusses these matters throughout his works (a couple examples are this week's parsha Devarim 3:26 or Bereishis 38:1) and it seems that he assumes that he is expressing that which his rebbi's (the Rashba) rebbi, the Ramban (13th century), was intending. We also have earlier Rishonim such as the Rokeach (12th century) and later ones such as the Recanati (13th century) and Rav Avraham Abulafia (13th century) if one wants to venture into a totally different region who discuss kabalah (some have attributed Rav Avraham Abulafia with being one of the primary sources upon which the Arizal expounded upon). Certainly one cannot forget Rabbeinu Moshe de Leon (13th century) when giving just a few of the examples! Just prior to the Arizal was the Remak and while the Arizal introduced a new style of kabalistic interpretation, mystical kabalistic thought was not something foreign to Judaism. I would recommend reading chapter 12 of the Emunas Chachamim where he lists many Kabbalistic Midrashic sources oft cited by mainstream Rishonim. These include but are not limited to Sefer Yetzirah and Sefer HaBahir. These concepts, like the Zohar, have for the most part been accepted into Judaism, although they were definitely argued throughout the generations. While some chasidim have taken a more extreme approach to not learn the Rashash due to that famous statement, and other early Achronim like the Emunas Chachamim of Rav Aviad Sar Shalom writes that those that oppose the concept are not technically heretics, but they are very misguided, most feel that it just reflects that which was a machlokes in its time. Moving on to your next question, it seems to be written in a somewhat unclear fashion, so I am not quite sure if I understood you correctly. From what I understood of your question I would respond by saying that they differ on whether the "sham tehay hakriah" is merely a function of space or if it also includes time (I guess they were a bit ahead of Einstein and relativity). That discussion between the Rambam and Raavad is an extremely famous one and there is a lot written about it. You seem to be familiar with the Satmar Rebbe's writings, but I would recommend the Mirkeves HaMishna, the Lechem Yehuda, Yad David Sanhedrin 93b, Yeshuos Malko (Abarbanel) Iyun Rishon 1 and 4 and the Imrei Binah 6. Lastly, I am not sure what the problem with the Meiri is. The Gemara deduces that there is no kephel on shtaros, but the hava ameinah is that there was. The Meiri does not understand what that could mean because it is clear we are not talking about the paper itself (it is valueless and if not then that is mamon and not shtar), rather, the Meiri says that the hava ameinah is on the amount that the shtar is machzik meaning the value of the loan since that is what it could be redeemed at. It is basically a check. Thanks for your questions, perhaps next time sign your name so I can contact you and we can talk in person.

Question

Does the person who blows the shofar on Rosh HaShanah have to hear someone else blow it for him, or is he yotzei with hearing his own blowing?

Answer

Assuming he heard the blasts that he had blown he is yotzei (fulfilled his obligation). There are two elements to shofar blowing, one is hearing and one is blowing. One can be yotzei the blowing via proxy but the hearing one must do personally. Therefore, the blower is yotzei blowing through his own blowing of the shofar, but he still needs to hear it. Unless he has earplugs or blew into a pit and only heard the echo then he would be yotzei with his own blowing and hearing. (See Rosh Hashana 27b and Minchas Chinuch 405)

Question

Why do so many English translations of Hebrew words such as Bais, Agudas, etc., become Beth, Agudath, etc.? Even in the frum world, for example, it's "Agudath Israel". Is there some "th" sound in Hebrew I'm not aware of?

Answer

Possibly. It seems pretty clear that the original pronunciation of many of the letters of the Aleph Beth (?) has been lost. The differences between certain letters when they have a dagesh (dot) and when they do not have been mostly lost with a few exceptions (unless many of the letters were just expressed with a slighty harder sound when containing a dagesh, although most people do not even do that). We know from old piyutim that the sin and samech seem to be virtually identical, but a suv (tuv with no dot) is never in this list of sounding the same. That being the case, it seems that it should not have an "s" sound. In addition, it should not have a "t" sound because then it would be identical to a tes or tuv (these two also presumably used to have different sounds, perhaps, one was said with the tongue barely touching in between the teeth like Spanish speaking people say their t's and one with a hard t sound like Americans do). One prominent theory is that the suv was actually a thuv and had a th sound. Many English works contained this concept especially with names that had been written in English and, therefore, many words reflect this when they are expressed in English.

Question

with 'Tu Bav' approaching, (and still dating), I was wondering how you understood the 'chazal' about girls dressing in white, and the boys picking them?

Answer

Clearly the shidduch process was a bit different back then than it is now! The idea to which you are referring is found in Taanis (26b) and Bava Basra (121a). The girls used to go out dressed in white on Tu B'Av (and Yom Kippur) and ask that the young men choose a wife. It seems that things were, perhaps, a little more arranged and one sided in society in general back then. In general, a woman's parents or brother would find her a suitor and if the suitor found her acceptable then the shidduch would happen. It was necessary for the suitor to see his future wife at least once so that he would know what she looked like. These girls would be going out dressed in white to facilitate this process. Clearly this is not how things work in most circles nowadays and, I believe, most psychologists and therapists will probably tell you that, whether right or wrong, this system would not work within the mindset held by most people today. Rather, many would end up with very poor relationships and would not have Shalom Bayis. Although the system has changed drastically as society has changed, one thing seems to still last. Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur express the qualities that exemplify what a marriage is about and these days are opportune to creating that new relationship. Perhaps the reason stems from the fact that both Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur show a time when two parties, Hashem and Klal Yisrael, can find each other after having been "lost" for some time. All relationships on Earth mimic those that can be achieved between a person/Klal Yisral and Hashem (i.e. a parent to a child, etc.). The closest one is that of man and wife as displayed in Shir HaShirim (see Rashi Shir HaShirim 1:1). On Yom Kippur we find forgiveness and forge a renewed relationship with Hashem and it was on Tu B'Av that Klal Yisrael was given a second chance after the generation of the spies had all died. (see Bava Basra 121b) In both cases the man, the part of the parable of Shir HaShirim that refers to Hashem, chooses His bride, Klal Yisrael, to come back to Him. When a man goes to find his wife, he is looking for something that used to be part of him. In fact, the Gemara tells us that the man needs to look for the woman because he has lost something, therefore, it is he that must find it. (Kiddushin 2b) The Gemara is referring to the fact that Chava was made of Adam's own flesh and therefore the man has lost something that makes him complete. (see Rashi Kiddushin 2b) Just like Hashem RENEWS a relationship with Klal Yisrael on Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur, so too a marriage is not the beginning of something new, but a renewal of an old relationship and it is reflected during this time. I wish you much hatzlacha in your shidduch endeavors, hopefully the right chosson, who is lacking completion, will find you soon to help him out.

Question

If you're not supposed to learn on Tisha B'Av, why do the "Yomi" schedules (Daf, Mishna, Halacha, etc.) include the day on the schedule?

Answer

Since I do not work for any of those institutions I cannot answer with certainty. I assume they wish to keep a specific pace and expect the participants to make up that day between the day prior and after Tisha B'Av. Also, we all hope for the days when Mashiach will return and learning will, once again, be permissible on Tisha B'Av. Perhaps, the scheduling is with these aspirations in mind. May we all experience that complete salvation soon.

Question

Is a kohein who is a lefty permitted to do 'Avodah'? And is there truth to what people say that at the time of mashiach all blemishes will be healed? (and does that include lefties?)

Answer

The Gemara mentions that a left-handed or left-footed Kohain is ineligible from doing the services in the Beis HaMikdash. (Bechoros 45b) The Rambam includes these in the list of Baalei Mumim, blemishes that invalidate a kohain from doing the service in the Beis HaMikdash. (Rambam Bias Mikdash 8:11) In addition, a right-handed kohain that does the service with his left hand will invalidate that sacrifice. (Zevachim 15b) The tradition is that all blemishes will be healed in the future. Presumably this would include those that would invalidate a kohain from service. However, what this means exactly and at what point in time in the future is something that IY"H we should all merit. In the meantime, it is best not to focus on what things will be like in the end of times, or when the end of times is. The Gemara strongly discourages making such predictions and this sentiment is echoed by the Rambam. (See Sanhedrin 97b and Rambam Melachim 12)

Question

My wife likes to taste her chicken soup (generally just a spoonful of the broth) before Shabbos to see if it needs more spices/salt. Would this be a problem on Erev Shabbos during the 9 days?

Answer

If she feels that it is necessary for the soup to be prepared well for Shabbos then it is permissible. It is both a tzorech mitzvah and pertaining to k'vod Shabbos which have leniencies regarding these matters. (See Rema O.C. 551:3 and 551:10) To taste it solely for the custom to taste Shabbos food on Erev Shabbos (and being included in the line from Musaf that states "its tasters merit life") is not really preparatory and is not permissible.

Question

We are out of clean towels. Can we wash towels during the 9 days?

Answer

Unfortunately not. Even someone with only one article of clothing may not wash it, and towels are explicitly mentioned by the Shulchan Aruch. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 551:3)

Question

May orange juice be used for Havdalah?

Answer

It is always best to make havdalah on wine when possible. However, in situations where this is not possible one may use what is called "chamar medina" or "the drink of the land". (Shulchan Aruch 296:2) Juice falls within the definitions of what a drink of the land is (although water, milk and oil do not) and is therefore an acceptable substitute when one cannot find wine. (Mishna Berurah 272:25; also see Aruch HaShulchan O.C. 272:14) During the nine days some refrain from using wine for havdalah and use chamar medina instead.

Question

I have just baked cookies on a tray only used to cook vegetables, possibly at times when there was chicken in the oven. Can I eat these cookies with milk or milk products?

Answer

Yes you may. Even if the pan had been used for chicken itself, this would still be the case. It is clear from your question that you have not cooked chicken with it in the past 24 hours. Any taste left in the pan is considered to give over a bad taste after this amount of time and IN MOST CIRCUMSTANCES will not cause problems. Your cookies are not one of those exceptions to this rule (I must stress that one should not bake using fleishig equipment that has not been used within 24 hours WITH THE INTENT to eat with milchigs, this halacha is only post facto). (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 93:1; also see Rema Y.D. 95:1) Chances are the pan does not even have to be treated this severely as it was only in the oven with chicken (possibly) and not used to cook chicken itself, though these laws would require more information. (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 108:1)

Question

As it is Rosh Chodesh Av, we all know that there is a 'din' of lessening simcha. If 'Hallel' is a form of praise that other times during the year brings us to simcha, why don't we omit 'Hallel' on Rosh Chodesh Av?

Answer

Hallel is a way to express one's praises for Hashem and is reserved for extraordinary days. The custom is therefore to recite most of Hallel on Rosh Chodesh which is a special day and even had a Musaf offering in the Beis HaMikdash. Of course one must lessen his happiness during this time, yet, that does not take away the necessity to express praise for the special day of Rosh Chodesh.

Question

Yesterday at Mincha the Baal Koreh stopped pasuk short at the end because he thought that Shaini was where we begin Shani next week. If his stopping a pasuk short would have been missed but only realized afterward, would I have to hear yesterday's Mincha laining again?

Answer

No, there is no specific set of pesukim that needs to be read at Shabbos Mincha (unlike Shabbos morning where we have a yearly cycle to finish the Torah). Technically one just needs to read a minimum of 10 pesukim which are split into 3 aliyos, none containing less than 3 pesukim. Our custom is to read the first portion of the next week. In your case, 10 pesukim of the next week's parsha were read and all aliyos contained a minimum of 3 pesukim. Had it not contained 3 pesukim, the congregation would have had to lain later that afternoon. If the mistake was not caught until after Shabbos no extra laining would be required. (See Be'er Heitav O.C. 235:2)

Question

Is one permitted to do laundry during the nine days if those items will not be used until after the nine days?

Answer

No, the act of laundering is prohibited regardless of when one will wear the clothing. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 551:3) The reason is that it appears as if one is forgetting to mourn the Beis HaMikdash. (Mishna Berurah 551:21)

Question

Thank you for answering the microwave question. Based on your answer, would one be required to "double wrap" a dry item being heated up? Or does the idea of "double wrapping only apply to items (such as soup) that could theoretically steam up?

Answer

Correct, although I would encourage one to always cover the items with at least one covering in order to make it a habit and to never get into problems.

Question

If one is to microwave a closed parve item when its status was that of milchig, what is the state of the parve item, the dish the item was in, and the microwave itself?

Answer

I understood your question as follows: the microwave was milchig and the food item was pareve, the food item was wrapped and then cooked in the microwave. Microwave ovens do not produce heat, rather, the radiation causes the food itself to heat up. That being the case, it is very different from classic ovens and not dealt with directly in the regular chapters of Shulchan Aruch that would normally apply to similar situations in ovens. (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 105 and 108) Since the oven itself does not become hot the problems that can arise focus more on steam released from the food item, or if the hot food item touched the walls of the microwave. Since the item was "closed" or wrapped there would not be sufficient steam to rise, go into the wall of the microwave and finally return and infuse with the original item. Therefore, the food item would remain pareve. The dish it was in would also remain pareve. Its contact with the milchig microwave could only make it milchig if there was liquid between the dish and the microwave as two vessels will not transfer from one to another via heat unless there is a liquid between them. (Rema Y.D. 92:8, also see Shach Y.D. 105:22) If one is CERTAIN there was liquid in between then he should follow up with a Rav as many more details will be necessary to ascertain whether the dish became milchigs (although the possibility of that is very slim).

Question

I received a few emails this morning mentioning that there is a mitzvah to say a bracha when one sees royalty as in the case of Queen Elizabeth visiting New York. While I don't plan to be in NY, if I were and would see her, would I really be m'chuyav to make a bracha? If I saw her on a monitor would I also say the bracha; I'm seeing her after all?

Answer

One should recite a blessing upon seeing a king. For a Jewish king one ends the blessing with "Shenasan MiKivodo LiRaiUv" and for a gentile king he substitutes "LiBasar vaDam" for "LiRaiUv". There is even a specific mitzvah to go out to see a gentile king because if one merits to seeing the future Jewish king, Mashiach, he will see that his glory surpasses that of regular kings (which he has seen). (Berachos 58a and Rashi's commentary) This blessing can only be made on a ruler who has the authority to judge and kill and not someone who is subjected to another's rule. (Mishna Berurah 224:12) Therefore, the blessing cannot be recited on the queen. (See King John's Magna Carta of 1215) In addition, one has to actually see the king (or at least be in his presence and feel the awe as seen by Rav Sheshes in the Gemara) to make the blessing. Just like one cannot make the blessing for lightning after seeing it on screen, one cannot make this blessing if he only saw a king on screen.

Question

Was the Hachnosas Sefer Torah for the Agudah of Greenspring this Sunday? If so what is the heter to have music during the 3 weeks?

Answer

The Hachnosas Sefer Torah was on Sunday, 15 Tammuz. It was two days BEFORE the three weeks began.

Question

When one comes late for Maariv and the cong. has already begun Shmoney Esray, I am told one should just begin by davening Shmoney Esray together with them and then when they finish Maariv one should call out Barchu and start davening Maariv from the beginning without repeating the Shmoney Esray (which he already davened) . My question is whether one says Baruch Hashem Leolam Amain, veAmain inasmuch as he has already davened Shmoney Esray?

Answer

There is a concept that one should adjoin the blessing of krias shema that discusses redemption to the beginning of Shemonah Esrei; there is also an importance to recite Shemonah Esrei with the congregation. The question is what to do when there is a conflict between these two concepts. The answer differs whether one is praying Shacharis or Maariv. You are correct that one should pray Shemonah Esrei with the congregation and recite the blessings of Shema afterwards when it comes to Maariv (at Shacharis the answer is to recite the blessings of shema first even if one will not be able to pray Shemonah Esrei with the congregation). The last blessing of krias shema at Maariv, however, is not one of the original blessings and is only said as a custom and not as a rabbinic institution. There is debate as to the nature of this custom and whether or not one can say it after Shemonah Esrei (as in your case) depends on the reason for its institution. Therefore, one should recite it, but omit the actual blessing element of it. Meaning say until "ela ata" and do not continue with "Baruch ata ... ". (Mishna Berurah 236:11) Regarding the recitation of Borchu prior to starting the blessings of krias shema AFTER the congregation has prayed there is some dispute. The Rema mentions that the custom is NOT to recite borchu in a situation where the congregation has already prayed. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 69:1) Some shuls follow this approach and one should not recite borchu after maariv in these shuls. One example of a shul that does NOT allow for borchu after maariv is the Agudah of Park Heights. Rav Heineman shlita placed a sign up to inform the congregation of this ruling. The Aruch HaShulchan, however, states that the custom is to recite borchu and that one should follow this practice. (Aruch HaShulchan O.C. 69:11) Therefore, one should take into account his own personal minhag and that of the shul and act accordingly.

Question

In terms of the halachas of shaving during the 3 weeks and nine days, do those halachas correspond to women as well? Or is there room to be 'makal'?

Answer

During the three weeks between 17 Tammuz and 9 Av, Ashkenazim refrain from taking haircuts or shaving as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. Regarding haircuts, both men and women are equal except that a married woman may cut excess hair that is protruding or creating difficulty with her head covering. (Mishna Berurah 551:79; also see Igros Moshe Y.D. vol. 2 137 who maintains that the appropriate thing is for women to adhere to this stringency) Shaving, however, is a different story. A woman may shave/pluck/remove facial hair during this time as it is not just beautifying her appearance, but is considered to be like removing dirt. (Mekadash Yisrael 78) Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l maintains that women may also shave their legs, when necessary, during the three weeks. (Moadei Yeshurun p. 128)

Question

My dear Rabbi, per my understanding of n'tilas yadayim before eating bread, if one washes each hand with a r'vi'is of water there should be no need to wash a 2nd time, since the water remaining on the hand is not tamei. If that's true, then why does the world always wash twice? Thank you.

Answer

The Shulchan Aruch states that if one poured a revi'is of water in one shot over the hand(s) then no second washing is required. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 162:2) The second washing is assumed to be necessary because the first waters were spiritually unclean and need to be washed away. A revi'is is like a mikvah and cannot become spiritually unclean, so it would seem no second rinse should be required. Yet, as you mention, the widespread custom, even among the most learned, is to wash twice EVEN when a revi'is is used. Regarding the practice, I would have to say, "Im ainam nevi'im, bnai nevi'im heim," and, "Minhag Yisrael Torah." ("If they are not prophets, they are the children of prophets," and, "Jewish customs are like Torah.") The Rashba and Raavad both maintain that a second rinse is always mandated EVEN when a revi'is was used on the first. It is part of the ceremonial washing that Chazal insituted. It also appears as if the Gra was of this opinion. Therefore, the Chayei Adam maintains that it is appropriate to follow this approach. In situations when this is difficult, though, we do follow the approach of the other opinions, including the Shulchan Aruch, and only require one rinse IF A REVI'IS was used. (See Mishna Berurah 162:21)

Question

My grandchildren came over Shabbos morning and, to avoid them tripping over the power cord that was lying around, we kicked it aside. Couldn't we have just unplugged it from the wall seeing that no electrical items were plugged in to it at the time?

Answer

The source of the prohibition of using electricity has been debated and there are many opinions on the matter. Although many poskim disagree, the Chazon Ish is of the opinion that "creating" and "destroying" a circuit with current is prohibited via biblical prohibition because of boneh (building) and soseir (demolishing). Therefore, in your situation when moving the cord to the side is an easy and viable option there is no need to be in violation of Shabbos in his opinion. Moving a cord for no reason would be a violation of the laws of muktzah, but one can move muktzah out of the way to prevent one from harm, such as your situation.

Question

From the slichos this morning it made it seem as if all the korbonos ceased to be brought on 17 Tammuz, but in Taanis it only mentions the korbon tamid, which is it?

Answer

The selichos (extra prayers for fast days) make it very clear that more sacrifices than just the tamid (daily sacrificial offering) ceased on 17 Tammuz. The questions are, how was this known and why doesn't the Talmud focus on this? Regarding the first question of how this was known, initially I had thought that it could be an outcome of the prohibition of not offering any sacrifices prior to the morning tamid or after the afternoon tamid. If there was no tamid then all sacrifices would be in violation and would not be able to be brought. However, this does not seem to be a viable theory. The Gemara in Menachos (49a) makes it very clear that the prohibition only applies if there is a tamid that could be offered. (Also see Minchas Asher Bamidbar 60) In fact, the Raavad takes for granted that the prohibition of bringing a korbon prior to the tamid is only in a circumstance when there is a tamid. (Raavad end of first perek of Tamid) It would seem that the author of this selicha was aware of this either via tradition or from the fact that there was tremendous poverty and famine during this time and it was only through great lengths that they were able to procure the tamid offerings. Since we find no mention of great lengths being taken for other sacrifices, yet we see mention of them for the tamid, it seems unreasonable that they were able to procure the other sacrifices during that time. Thus, since the tamid seems to be the only sacrifice that was being offered, when it ceased it marked the end of sacrificial offerings in general. Regarding the second question of why the Talmud didn't focus on this, perhaps, the idea of not being able to serve Hashem consistently and on a daily basis in the fashion that He commanded far outweighs the lack of sacrificial offerings in general.

Question

Is one allowed to brush his teeth and/or use mouthwash in any capacity on a fast day?

Answer

No, one may not rinse his mouth with mouthwash or brush his teeth on a public fast day. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 567:1,3 and Mishna Berurah 567:13) If one is in pain due to not rinsing, he may rinse with water with his head positioned downward to make sure he does not accidentally swallow any of the water. The water must be spit out in this case. Even in such situations, this practice is not permissible on Yom Kippur. (Mishna Berurah 567:11)

Question

During the 3 weeks, is a woman allowed to cut the hair on her shaitel? Is it the same as getting a haircut?

Answer

During the three weeks between 17 Tammuz and 9 Av the custom is to display mourning for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple) and there is a prohibition for one to take a haircut. A shaitel (wig) is not considered to be one's hair, rather, it is an article of clothing that looks like hair that is worn on the head. Therefore, there is no prohibition to cut one's shaitel during this time. During the nine days between 1 Av and 9 Av the display of mourning becomes more intense as it is closer to the actual date when the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, therefore, there is a prohibition for one to tailor NEW clothing during this more intense time period. So, if one bought a new shaitel and was trimming it for the first time to make it wearable, she would have to refrain from doing so during the nine days, but not during the earlier time of the three weeks.

Question

Why is carrying one's tallis after shul on Shabbos morning (in a situation where he does not plan to use the tallis for the rest of Shabbos) not considered a purposeless carrying which, therefore, would make it assur?

Answer

Let me first give a little background as it seems a few issues are being meshed into one here. Firstly, there is no prohibition of useless carrying on Shabbos providing there is a valid eruv, such as the Eruv of Baltimore. If there is no eruv then any carrying is prohibited on Shabbos whether with purpose or not. On Yom Tov, however, one is permitted to carry even if there is no vaild eruv, but ONLY if the carrying has some purpose for Yom Tov. If there is no purpose then an eruv is required then, as well. If one is in an area that has no valid eruv and wishes to bring his talis bag home from shul on Yom Tov it is still possible he may do so. Chazal allowed one to carry items if he feels that they are in a place where they can get lost (if moved) or stolen. There is a prohibiton, however, for one to prepare for after Shabbos/Yom Tov while it is still Shabbos/Yom Tov. The issue at hand could be that his bringing his talis bag back is preparation for after Shabbos/Yom Tov. Nevertheless, one does not have to leave his talis bag in shul. His bringing it back is because he is uncomfortable with leaving it there (and keep in mind that by taking it away does help keep the shul clutter free) and is not really for the purpose of using it the next day. A good display of this concept is that many people have a special talis just for Shabbos and you see that they still want to bring it home even though they are not preparing for a weekday by doing so.

Question

I am learning in kollel and receive stipends as well as money from others. What is my Chiyuv on maaser? Is it the same as a parent giving a kid an allowance?Also, in a slightly similar vain, if an 'oni' asks me for money, when do I have to give him, and or when should I give?

Answer

Maaser, tithing, questions can be very detailed and are highly specific to the individual's financial situation. Therefore, the following is only a general guideline. It is important to discuss your personal maaser questions with a competent Rav that you are comfortable with. If one is given money, by a parent or other patron, to pay specific bills or expenses then one can consider it is as if the patron has paid the expense directly. He need not view as if the money passed through his hands (this is for maaser purposes only, for taxes speak to an accountant). If there is extra spending money then one should consider that as income. Keep in mind that even if there is no income, the basic rules of tzedakah, charity, apply and everyone has a yearly obligation independent of maaser (although a minimal amount). Assuming you have the money, the regular halachos of giving the needy when they ask also apply. "Pros LeAni Lechmecha" "Give from your bread to the poor." The Gemara in Bava Basra (and the Rambam) maintain that the final salvation from exile will be from the merits of charity.

Question

What is the basis for not using the English date on a matzaivah. What's the harm?

Answer

English dates are predicated on a calendar that is based on Christian beliefs which are counter to Jewish beliefs. As such many Rabbanim, have expressed their dismay over the usage of these dates, including some like the Chasam Sofer who was staunchly opposed to their usage. In day to day business, especially in the States, it is relatively impossible to avoid their usage and many Rabbanim do allow their use. However, for a matzaiva, tombstone, since it is unnecessary to use the English date, it is a holy purpose and many do not want to memorialize the deceased in this fashion and therefore refrain from using these dates.

Question

It is known that while a boy is in the mothers stomach, he "learns" with his malach. What do girls in the stomach do?

Answer

The Gemara to which you are referring is Niddah 30b. The Gemara states that an unborn child learns the enitre Torah while in the womb. The Gemara does not differentiate between boys and girls.

Question

Can someone shave for a date during the 3 weeks, if it will look bad otherwise?

Answer

The answer will vary depending on many factors that pertain to the individual asking. Feel free to contact me personally to discuss if you would like.

Question

May one carry home his tallis after shul on Shabbos morning even if he does not plan to use the tallis for the rest of Shabbos?

Answer

If one brought his talis with him to shul on Shabbos morning he is not required to leave it there, rather, he may take it home with him.

Question

When the 'Malach' allowed Bilam to leave with the messengers, rashi comments from the gemara 'Makkos', Where a person wants to go, (Hashem), will take him there. Why didn't Rashi mention that earlier when Hashem himself allowed him to go?

Answer

It seems that there are two things that changed between Hashem's allowance and the Malach's instruction. Firstly, Bilaam was physically stopped prior to the Malach's appearance by his donkey's refusal to move. Although Bilaam told the messengers that he would not do anything unless Hashem allowed it, he still had free choice to go if he wanted. When the Malach came this was not the case, the Malach had to move for Bilaam to proceed. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Bilaam told the Malach he was wrong and specifically stated that if it was wrong he would turn around. This did not happen in the earlier conversation with Hashem. When the Malach said to go it was a huge display that Hashem helps people on the path they truly want.

Question

The gemara says that the reward at a house of mourning comes from being quiet, so why is it that many people try and make conversation. Is it better to strike up conversations that may help the mourner, or be quiet and let them?

Answer

The somber feeling definitely makes one take to heart some very strong mussar and is something important one can take away from a shiva house. When looking at this from a halachic standpoint, the Shulchan Aruch paskins that one should not start a conversation with the mourner, rather, one should wait until the mourner begins talking to him. At that point one can talk and should try to comfort the mourner. The Tzitz Eliezer mentions that often times there is a very obvious awkwardness and it is clear that the mourner would like to talk, but cannot think of what to say. In such a scenario one should begin the conversation. A main objective of going to the shiva house is to confort the mourners and this may be the way to do so in these types of situations.

Question

I have a friend who is having a birthday during the nine days. Is it wrong of us to celebrate and go out to eat (milchigs of course), or should we pass?

Answer

Technically, a birthday get together is not prohibited. However, there is a general mitzvah to lessen joy during this time. Although not necessary, if it could be rescheduled to have a belated birthday party that would express a concern for Yerushalayim. However, if your friend would be insulted in any possible way, then I would suggest having the get together since it is technically fine and the lack of care between people is the reason for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. We must be extra concerned with other people's feelings during this time.

Question

When Bilaam's donkey talked, was it the donkey itself talking or a voice (maybe a malach or something like that) talking through its mouth?

Answer

Interesting question. From the Torah itself it seems that the animal itself was talking. However, Rabbeinu Bachye seems to be of the opinion that the animal itself was not talking, rather, it was an angel talking through its mouth. The angel he seems to be referring to is Samael, the Angel of Death. (see Rav Chavel's footnotes to Rabbeinu Bachye)

Question

I noticed that the kiddush levana times on baltimorejewishlife.com have the end of k"l on Shabbos afternoon, but in the Ezras Torah Luach it says until 11:45pm on Motzei Shabbos, is there a mistake on the website?

Answer

No, there is no mistake AND THERE ISN'T EVEN A MACHLOKES (difference of opinion). If you look at the notes in the Ezras Torah Luach for Bereishis you will see that it states that the kiddush levana times are given based on Yerushalayim LOCAL time. This can be something confusing not only for those of us here in Baltimore, but even for those in Yerushalayim since it is not the same thing as Yerushalayim STANDARD time which is the one that people use in Yerushalayim. In the old days every location had its own "timezone". These timezones were based on taking the two days of the year when there are twelve equal hours of daylight (the equinoxes) and using sunrise and sunset as 6:00 am and pm and using the midpoint as 12:00. The clocks were set and kept to reflect this average day throughout the year. Needless to say this made the train schedules very difficult and confusing since every city had its own timezone, so they standardized time by making big sections within one timezone. So, Baltimore, Brooklyn and DC used to be on different timezones, but now they are not. The difference between Yerushalayim LOCAL time and the new STANDARD time is just over 21 minutes and the difference between Baltimore and Yerushalayim is 7 hours. Taking that into account, you need to adjust the times in the luach by 7 hours and 21 minutes. So, the last time to do k"l this month is Friday night (although it is preferable to do it on a weeknight over a Friday night if at all possible).

Question

A crockpot is an electric cooker, there is no blech or stove involved. So, once again please clarify. In the same vain, can you put it on a timer to start cooking on Shabbos morning?

Answer

A crockpot has the same halachic status as a stove, therefore, in instances when a blech is required on a stove a blech is required for the crockpot. One must cover the element with the blech on all places where the "pot" touches the "fire" (heating element). This can generally be done by covering it with aluminum foil. One may NOT place UNCOOKED food on a crockpot that will turn on via timer on Shabbos whether or not the food is placed there before or on Shabbos. One MAY ONLY place FULLY COOKED food BEFORE Shabbos on a crockpot WITH A BLECH (aluminum foil is fine) that will turn on via timer on Shabbos.

Question

You mention in this morning's Halacha that Negilvasser requires washing each hand 3 times; I distinctly remember Rabbi Horowitz learning that the requirement is actually 4 times. Did I misunderstand?

Answer

No, you did not. While the widespread custom is to wash only three times, there is an opinion (the Gra) that maintains you should wash four times. The reasoning behind this is that the first three times are sufficient to remove the spiritual uncleanliness, but then one still has spiritually unclean water on his hands. Therefore, he should wash a fourth time to remove this. While this is a valid opinion, the widespread custom is to wash only three times. The Ben Yehoyada (written by the Ben Ish Chai) writes the reason why three times is sufficient; he is most probably picking up on the fact that the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch refer to this spiritual uncleanliness as Ruach Ra'ah instead of Tumah. This uncleanliness "jumps back" from one joint to the next at each rinse. On the third rinse it jumps off the hands entirely.

Question

so to clarify regarding the crockpot, is it permitted to START the crockpot at licht bentching time or not? and if u did it, is it permitted to eat the food bdieved?

Answer

It is permitted to start the crockpot just before licht bentching if there is a blech. In such a case there is no question whatsoever, the food is permissible as it was ok to do this. If there was NO blech then the individual should not have allowed it to remain there at the onset of Shabbos. In your case where the food was placed on the crockpot the second before Shabbos, the food would NOT be permissible, IF THERE WAS NO BLECH, until after Shabbos (preferably waiting however much time it takes to cook it after Shabbos). Once again, if there was a blech there would not have been a problem to do it initially and the food is certainly fine. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 253:1; see Mishna Berurah 253:44 and 253:31 and also see Shaar HaTziyun 253:33)

Question

Does the cholent have to be ready to eat or partially cooked before Shabbos? Or can a crockpot be used and turned on right before Shabbos so it cooks all night and is ready the next morning?

Answer

I am very glad you asked this question because many people are unfamiliar with these very important aspects of cooking in regards to Shabbos and they are under the assumption that anything can be placed on a stove (or crockpot) so long as it is done before Shabbos. Chazal recognized that if one were to put any item that he or she wanted on a stove that the individual may inadvertantly raise the flame or stir the pot when walking by, so they gave rules as to what can remain on a fire at the onset of Shabbos. The basic concept behind their rules is that either the food needs to be cooked enough that someone would not think to stir/raise the flame, that there is something distinct about the fire that will remind the individual it is Shabbos, and/or that even if one were to stir/raise the flame it would not be helpful thus causing the individual to refrain from stirring. Preferably even fully cooked food should only remain on a stovetop (or crockpot) from before Shabbos and the fire should have a blech (some cover the knobs, as well). However, this is a stringency and the basic halacha is that anything that is halfway cooked (if absolutely necessary one third cooked) may be placed even on an uncovered flame. If the item is a liquid it should be piping hot at the onset of Shabbos. The original halacha states that if there is raw meat in the pot that one may also leave it on the fire from before Shabbos (beef, not chicken), but with today's cooking methods this is generally frowned upon. The actual halacha (as opposed to the recommended stringency) is also to allow non-cooked foods (meaning less than the half/third cooked) to remain on a fire at the onset of Shabbos so long as there is a blech. (Rema O.C. 253:1; also see Biur Halacha) The above reflects the custom of Ashkenazic Jewry, Sephardic Jewry do not allow items to remain on the fire without a blech unless they are completely cooked. Otherwise a blech is necessary. (Shulchan Aruch 253:1)

Question

Can food that was taken off the blech and refrigerated be put back on it to warm it up for lunch or does it have to remain on it all night?

Answer

It depends both on the type of food and whether the person is an Ashkenazi or Sephardi. The Sephardic custom is to place FULLY COOKED food THAT IS NOT A LIQUID on the blech on Shabbos. Liquids are not able to be placed unless they are still piping hot (plus several other requirements). Ashkenazim have both leniencies and stringencies on this. Ashkenazim DO NOT PLACE anything on the hot part of the blech on Shabbos itself. However, an Ashkenazi may place another pot (even empty; although if full it has to have been there from before Shabbos because of the food in that pot) on the hot part and place FULLY COOKED NON-LIQUIDS on that (i.e. on top of the cholent pot). Fully cooked liquids THAT ARE STILL WARM (they need not be piping hot) FROM THE FIRE may also be placed there.

Question

What's the deal with kashering a knife by sticking it in the ground?

Answer

Sticking it in hard ground is an effective way to scrape the material on the surface and can be used to "kasher" if the items are COLD food items. I would recommend using steel wool (a regular sponge is not sufficient) to maintain better hygiene. However, one may not "kasher" a knife this way to switch it from milchig to fleishig (or vice versa) as all of Klal Yisrael has accepted to have separate knives for milchig and fleishig. (See S.A. Y.D. 89:4)

Question

Which way should I face when saying Kiddush Levana? I have heard many different things about this.

Answer

Interestingly enough, I just spoke about this in Ohr Simcha this past Shabbos! There seems to be a misconception that one should not face the moon. However, it is clear from the Poskim that one SHOULD FACE THE MOON when reciting Kiddush Levana. The bracha is stated for the sighting of the moon and it is in that fashion that it should be said. The Mishna Berura brings a machlokes regarding whether or not one should view the moon the entire time he is reciting the bracha, but it is clear, even to those who say not to stare at it, that the individual is facing that direction. (Mishna Berurah 426:13) He also cites other Acharonim who state that one should be careful not to bow while "dancing" during the verse that discusses dancing. If one were to bow it would look as if he was bowing to the moon. (Ibid. 426:14) It could only look like he was bowing to the moon if that was the direction he was facing. All this seems clear from the Gemara in Berachos that states that one should not bow after reciting the bracha on a rainbow lest it appear as if he was bowing to the rainbow. (Berachos 59a) The fact that there is no suggestion to face the other direction makes it clear that the individual is supposed to face the item upon which the bracha is recited. Facing the moon does not give the appearance of praying to it, bowing, on the other hand, does give the wrong impression and it should be avoided.

Question

If a friend of mine gave me a soda bottle, and I wanted to give it back to her, but there was a special on them( now the price is cheaper), would it be 'ribis' to return the soda?

Answer

There is no problem, but this is a great question. People often do not realize that ribis, lending with interest, applies to non-monetary cases. In fact, if one borrowed an item and returned an exact like item (but not the item itself like when you borrow a car or basketball), there can sometimes be a problem of ribis (i.e. they borrow a dozen eggs and return a dozen eggs) There COULD have been a problem if the price went up. Then it would appear as if you were returning something of greater value. Of course, a lot depends on the initial giving (i.e. was it a loan, a gift or several other factors). (See S.A. Y.D. 162:1)

Question

Must one give ma'aser on money that is given to him/her for a specific purpose (eg. a parent gives a child money to use for gas)?

Answer

Using your example to illustrate, that would be the same as the parent purchasing gas directly and giving that to the child.

Question

After I have taken my cholent out of the crock-pot, is it permitted to stir it, seeing as it is fully cooked?

Answer

So long as it is fully cooked it is fine to stir it. (Mishna Berura 318:117)

Question

After taking the hot chicken out of the oven, I preceded to stick a fork and take a piece out. As that piece fell, it landed on a parve knife. Do I still have a parve knife?

Answer

You should kasher the knife and it will then be pareve. (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 105:2)

Question

We were having shabbos guests come for Shabbos, and they dropped off franks in blankets for lunch, and left it between our front door and our screen door. Is there a concern for Basar Shenisalin min Ha'ayin? Can they be eaten?

Answer

Basar Shenisalem min Ha'ayin is a rabbinic decree that means that meat that was out of sight for a duration of time is assumed to be non-kosher. Chazal deemed that it is possible an animal took the original piece of kosher meat and replaced it with another non-kosher piece. There are many leniencies that can be used to circumvent this problem. Customarily the meat is double sealed ensuring it is the original piece. Although this is the custom, if, as is possibly your case, the meat was not sealed appropriately, there may still be grounds for leniency. If the meat found was in the original location that it was placed then one MAY eat the meat (this sounds like it applies to your case). An animal would not replace the meat back in the exact location. Or, if one who saw the meat originally recognizes this to be the same piece(s) based on a "siman", defined feature, or a general recognition, then the meat MAY be assumed to be the original kosher meat (this also may apply to your case). I am guessing that the meat was still wrapped in the original way it was placed between the doors which also counts as a "siman" since an animal would not do this (although if the package was tampered with it may show that foul play was involved). The above applies to situations where no human is suspected of foul play (as would be the case in between your doors, unless tampering with the packaging was noticed), so, providing at least one of the above requirements was met, enjoy the franks in blankets and have a wonderful Shabbos! (See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 63 1-2)

Question

If I shechted an Olah thinking it was a Shelamim is it kosher?

Answer

I am assuming this is not something that happened recently. The answer is yes and no. Yes, your Olah is kosher and it should be offered on the Mizbeach. No, if you vowed to bring an Olah you will need to bring another. If you stated that this specific animal should be an Olah then no more offerings are required. This is the case with most korbonos with the notable exceptions being a Pesach or a Chatas. (Zevachim 2a; first Mishna)

Question

Can I download a large file on my computer over Shabbos if I start the download BEFORE Shabbos?

Answer

Yes, there is no violation of Shabbos law if one begins the download prior to the beginning of Shabbos. While one is not allowed to personally violate Shabbos, his property is allowed to violate Shabbos (with the exception of his animals). Therefore, if a prohibited action was started prior to Shabbos one can allow it to finish if no action is required by the person to complete the action. The only exception is an action that will create loud noises. If such an action is required and refraining from doing it will cause undue financial hardship one should speak to his rabbi about that particular case. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 252:1-3)