We mourn for 33 days between Pesach and Shavu'ot in memory of the 33 days during which Rabbi Akiva's students perished.
There are various customs as to which 33 days are kept as mourning-days. Everybody agrees that on the day of Lag B'Omer - the 33rd day of the Omer - there is no mourning, as a reminder that they stopped dying on the 33rd day.
Those who have the custom to mourn from Rosh Chodesh Iyar, resume the mourning customs after Lag B'Omer.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:6, 7
Note: Many Sefradim only end the mourning on the 34th day of the Omer.
Thursday, 18 Iyar 5776, 33rd day of the Omer
Thursday, May 26, 2016
We mourn for 33 days between Pesach and Shavu'ot in memory of the 33 days during which Rabbi Akiva's students perished.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
One does not say Tachanun on Lag B'Omer, nor at Mincha the day before (this afternoon).
The mourning-customs of the Omer apply to the night of Lag B'Omer as well.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:8, 120:6
Wednesday, 17 Iyar 5776, 32nd day of the Omer
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
One of the differences between Yom Tov and Shabbat is carrying.
On Shabbat, one may not carry outside, unless there is an Eruv.
On Yom Tov, one may carry even without an Eruv.
One can carry anything - even if it's not related to food - as long as it has some purpose.
One should not carry large items that make it look the Yom Tov is a weekday; unless one needs to do so in order to feed a large crowd of people.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:34
- Danny Tuesday, 16 Iyar 5776, 31st day of the Omer
Monday, May 23, 2016
Extinguishing fire is forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov.
Even though one may light fire from an existing flame on Yom Tov, one may not extinguish fire on Yom Tov.
One may not even lower a flame on Yom Tov (nor on Shabbat). (Some Poskim permit one to lower a flame during cooking, but only to prevent the food from burning.)
On Yom Tov (and on Shabbat) one may not put a candle in a windy place so that it will blow out.
(Yom Kippur has the same status as Shabbat; one may not light nor extinguish fire on either.)
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:25
Monday, 15 Iyar 5776, 30th day of the Omer
Sunday, May 22, 2016
When the Bet Hamikdash will be rebuilt, if a person won't be able to bring the Korban Pessach on Erev Pessach, they have a 2nd chance a month later.
In the afternoon of 14th Iyar they would bring the Korban Pessach and roast it. After nightfall, they would eat it with Matza and Marror. The leftovers were burnt the next morning.
Unfortunately, this year we again missed both chances to bring the Korban Pessach.
Source: Bamidbar 9:9-12
Neither the Shulchan Aruch nor the Kitzur seem to mention what to do about Tachanun on Pessach Sheni; most people seem to have the custom not to say Tachanun.
- Danny in Jerusalem
Sunday, 14 Iyar 5776 - 29th day of the Omer
Thursday, May 19, 2016
One of the differences between Yom Tov and Shabbat is the laws of lighting fire.
On Shabbat, one may not light fires, nor extinguish them, nor make them larger or smaller. One needs to light the fire before Shabbat and then leave it alone.
On Yom Tov one may light a fire from an existing flame if there's a need. One may also make the fire larger.
One may light a flame or make an existing flame larger for:
- Light, including "candle-lighting" if one didn't manage before Yom Tov.
- Cooking, baking or warming food
- Boiling water for drinking
- Keeping warm, if it's so cold that food starts to congeal
- Warming water to wash one's hands and face
One may not use matches nor a magnifying glass to light a fire on Yom Tov; one has to light the fire from an existing flame.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:25, 29, 30, 31
Thursday, 11 Iyar 5776, 26th day of the Omer
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
With some exceptions, the laws of work on Shabbat and Yom Tov are identical. The exceptions are:
- Some aspects of food preparation
- Carrying in the public domain
- Lighting fires from an existing flame
We will go into more detail in the coming days.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:1
Wednesday, 10 Iyar 5776, 25th day of the Omer
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
The Torah prohibits men from removing their פֵּאוֹת.
The פֵּאוֹת area is the hair in the (almost) triangular area from the top of the ear to the forehead to the bottom of the ear.
According to some opinions, even cutting the פֵּאוֹת very close to the skin with scissors is forbidden.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 170:1
Tuesday, 9 Iyar 5776 - 24th day of the Omer
Monday, May 16, 2016
The Torah explicitly forbids tattooing; coloring the skin permanently.
Both puncturing the skin and filling the holes with ink as well as putting ink on the skin and then injecting it are forbidden.
However, one may put colored medication on wounds even if it will cause a permanent discoloring, since the wound will leave a scar making it obvious that it's not a tattoo.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 169:1
Monday, 11 Iyar 5776, 23rd day of the Omer
Sunday, May 15, 2016
On the first "Monday, Thursday and Monday" in the month following Pessach (Iyar) and Sukkoth (Marcheshvan) the custom is to say extra Selichot during Shacharit. (Some communities do this on the last "Monday, Thursday and Monday" of the month. )
Since Monday is "Yom Sheni" or "Yom Bet - ב - and Thursday is "Yom Chamishi" or "Yom Heh - ה - these days are referred to as BeHaB - בה"ב.
BeHaB will be this week on Monday & Thursday and again on Monday next week.
Some people have the custom to fast on BeHaB. A special מִּי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ was recited on Shabbat morning before the Torah was returned to the Aron Hakodesh to bless those who will fast.
Having answered אָמֵן to the מִּי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ does not oblige one to fast.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 127:3, 14
Sunday, 7 Iyar 5776, 22nd day of the Omer
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Before making the Bracha on counting the Omer one should know which day one is going to count.
If one has not yet counted the Omer, and somebody wants to know which day we're up to, you should tell them "yesterday was such-and-such".
If, instead, you replied "today is such-and-such" you may not be allowed to make a Bracha on that night's count, since you already counted.
However, you should still count "properly" (without a Bracha) since you have to mention the weeks as well.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:3, 4
Wednesday, 3 Iyar 5776, 18th day of the Omer; 2 weeks and 4 days
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
If you forget to count the Omer at night, then you should count the next day - but without a Bracha. You then continue counting (at night) as usual with a Bracha.
If you forgot to count during the night as well as the following day, then you should still continue counting the Omer, but you may no longer make the Bracha.
If you're unsure if you counted the previous night, you may continue counting with a Bracha.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:2
Tuesday, 2 Iyar 5776, 17th day of the Omer
Monday, May 9, 2016
Today is the 2nd day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar.
One may not fast on Rosh Chodesh.
It's a Mitzva to eat a bigger meal on Rosh Chodesh.
There is no obligation to eat bread on Rosh Chodesh.
Don't forget יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא in Birkat HaMazon and the Amida.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 97:2, 6
Monday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5776, 16th day of the Omer
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Today - Sunday - and tomorrow - Monday - are Rosh Chodesh Iyar.
One needs to add יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא - into the 17th Bracha of the Amida - רְצֵה.
If one forgets to do so during the Amida of מַעֲרִיב (evening prayers) - on either day - one does not need to make amends, since the Sanhedrin did not sanctify the month at night.
If one forgets to add יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא during שַׁחֲרִית (morning prayers) or מִנְחָה (afternoon prayers), then one has to return to the 17th Bracha of the Amida - רְצֵה - and make amends.
If one forgets יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא during שַׁחֲרִית and then prayed מוּסָף, one still has to make amends for שַׁחֲרִית . Even if one already prayed מִנְחָה one has to make amends for שַׁחֲרִית.
If one already finished the Amida - by saying יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן אִמְרֵי פִי - then one needs to restart the Amida.
One also needs to add יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא - into Birkat Hamazon.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 19:10
1st day Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5776 - 15th day of the Omer
שָׁכַח יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא בְּרֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ בְּשַׁחֲרִית אוֹ בְּמִנְחָה, וּבְחֹל הַמּוֹעֵד, בֵּין בְּשַׁחֲרִית בֵּין בְּמִנְחָה בֵּין בְּמַעֲרִיב, אִם נִזְכַּר קוֹדֶם שֶׁאָמַר יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן, חוֹזֵר וּמַתְחִיל רְצֵה, וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם נִזְכַּר קוֹדֵם שֶׁהִתְחִיל מוֹדִים, כֵּיוָן שֶׁסִּיֵּם בִּרְכַּת הַמַּחֲזִיר שְׁכִינָתוֹ לְצִיּוֹן, צָרִיךְ לְהַתְחִיל רְצֵה אַךְ אִם נִזְכַּר קוֹדֶם בִּרְכַּת הַמַּחֲזִיר שְׁכִינָתוֹ לְצִיּוֹן, אוֹמְרוֹ שָׁם וּמְסַיֵּם וְתֶחֱזֶינָה עֵינֵינוּ וְכוּ', וְאִם לֹא נִזְכַּר עַד לְאַחַר יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן וְגוֹ', חוֹזֵר לְרֹאשׁ הַתְּפִלָּה. וּבְרֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ שָׁכַח יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא בְּמַעֲרִיב, בֵּין שֶׁרֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ הוּא בּ' יָמִים, בֵּין שֶׁאֵינוֹ אֶלָּא יוֹם א', כֵּיוָן שֶׁאָמַר בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' וְהִזְכִּיר אֶת הַשֵּׁם, שׁוּב אֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר, אֶלָּא מְסַיֵּם הַמַחֲזִיר שְׁכִינָתוֹ לְצִיּוֹן וְגוֹמֵר תְּפִלָּתוֹ. וְהַטַּעַם בָּזֶה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ מְקַדְּשִׁין אֵת הַחֹדֶשׁ בַּלַּיְלָה
שָׁכַח בְּרֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ אוֹ בְּחֹל הַמּוֹעֵד יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא בְּשַׁחֲרִית, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נִזְכַּר עַד לְאַחַר שֶׁהִתְפַּלֵּל מוּסָף, (שֶׁכְּבָר זָכַר שֶׁל רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ וְשֶׁל חֹל הַמּוֹעֵד) מִכָּל מָקוֹם, צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְהִתְפַּלֵּל שַׁחֲרִית, וְאִם עָבַר זְמַנָּהּ יַשְׁלִימֶנָּה בִּתְפִלַת הַמִּנְחָה
Thursday, May 5, 2016
This Sunday and Monday will be Rosh Iyar.
When the 3rd Shabbat meal continues into the night, one still inserts רְצֵה during Birkat Hamazon.
When one starts a meal on Erev Rosh Chodesh and eats a Kezayit (the size of an olive) of bread after dark, one inserts יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא during Birkas Hamazon.
What happens when both of the above happen together?
If Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday and one eats a Kezayis of bread after dark during the 3rd Shabbat meal, then one inserts both רְצֵה and יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא during Birkas Hamazon.
However, some argue that mentioning both רְצֵה and יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא is a contradiction – since Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh aren't on the same day.
Therefore, one should be careful not to eat bread after dark at the 3rd Shabbat meal when Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:17
Shabbat Shalom uMevorach
- Danny Schoemann
Thursday, 27 Nissan 5575, 12th day of the Omer.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
During the Omer period the great sage Rabbi Akiva (who lived during and after the destruction of the second Temple) lost almost all of his thousands of Torah students; reducing Torah Scholars to a handful.
As a result, 33 days of the Omer are customarily observed as days of mourning during which weddings and haircuts are forbidden.
These 33 days of mourning are either observed from day 1 of the Omer, or from Rosh Chodesh Iyar; depending on local/family custom.
One may get engaged during the entire Omer period and even celebrate with a meal, but dancing and music are not allowed during the 33 days of mourning.
The Sandek, Mohel and father of the newborn may take haircuts the day before the Brit even during the 33 days of mourning.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:6 - 9
Wednesday, 26 Nissan 5776, 11th day of the Omer
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
The "five grains" are wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye.
Grain that was planted and started taking root before the second day of Pessach may be eaten immediately - and is called "Yoshon" (old).
Grain that took root thereafter is חָדָשׁ - "Chodosh" (new) - and may not be eaten until after the 2nd day Chol Hamoed Pessach of the coming year. In Israel, Chol Hamoed Pessach starts on 16th Nissan, in the Diaspora on the 17th Nissan.
The Torah prohibition of eating Chodosh applies to grain grown on Jewish land, according to all opinions.
There is a minority opinion that Chodosh does not apply to grain grown in the Diaspora on non-Jewish land; the custom is to rely on this opinion in emergency.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 172:1-3
Tuesday, 25 Nissan 5776, 10th day of the Omer
Monday, May 2, 2016
The custom is not to do any work from sunset until one has counted the Omer. This applies to men and women.
This is hinted in the verse which refers to the 7 weeks of the Omer-counting as שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת - using the word "Shabbat" instead of weeks.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:10
Monday, 24 Nissan 5776, 9th day of the Omer
Sunday, May 1, 2016
From the second day of פֶּסַח until שָׁבוּעוֹת we count the 49 days of the עֹמֶר.
Counting is done after nightfall. Before counting a Bracha is said:
One counts both days and weeks, as the Torah says (Vayikra 23:15-16):
"And you shall count ... 7 weeks ... you shall count 50 days."
Today is the 8th day of the Omer which is 1 week and 1 day.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:1
Sunday, 23 Nissan 5776, 8th day of the Omer
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Tomorrow - Friday - is Erev Pessach and Erev Shabbat; a busy day.
One does not say מִזְמוֹר לְתוֹדָה nor לַמְנַצֵּחַ from Erev Pessach until Isru Chag.
One may not eat Chametz after 1/3 of the day, and then - within an hour - one needs to burn one's Chametz and say כָּל חֲמִירָא declaring all Chametz one owns to be ownerless like dust.
Work that may not be done on Chol Hamo'ed may not be done on Erev Pessach after noon.
One may not eat Matza on Erev Pessach.
One needs to prepare the salt water for the Seder before Shabbat begins.
One needs to ensure one has taken Challa from one's Matzot before Shabbat begins. (Matzot one buys in a sealed box usually have Challa separated already; check the box near the Kashrut seal to double check.)
Remember to light a 48-hour candle (or leave on a flame on the stove) so that you can light Shabbat candles on Motzai Shabbat, if you live outside Israel.
If you have wine, raisins or grape juice made from Shmita grapes, you need to do Bi'ur on Erev Pessach. Bring them to the street and declare them Hefker - ownerless. Anybody can then claim then and bring them home, including yourself.
For details of the Fast of the Firstborn see Halocho #1550 - http://halocho.blogspot.com/2015/03/halocho-1550-why-do-firstborns-fast.html
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 113: 1 - 5
Wishing everybody a meaningful and enjoyable Pessach
Thursday, 13 Nissan 5776
The next Halocho-a-Day is scheduled for after Pessach, Sunday, 23 Nissan
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
On Thursday night one may not do any work, nor eat anything, until one has checked the house for Chametz.
The entire house needs to be cleaned before one starts searching the house for Chametz. The Chametz that one plans to use until mid-morning on Friday morning needs to be put in a secure place.
First, one says the Bracha "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ" – "… to destroy Chametz", since the point of the search is to rid the house of Chametz.
After the search is complete one says "כָּל חֲמִירָא" declaring that "all Chametz one isn’t aware of" to be "ownerless and worthless like dust".
This declaration constitutes a Halachic "destroying Chametz", which is why one shouldn't interrupt between the Bracha, the searching and the כָּל חֲמִירָא with anything not related to the search.
One may appoint other members of the household to help with the search, as long as they are over Bar/Bat Mitzva.
The search is done using a single candle which provides the optimal light for searching. A torch (like a Havdala candle) is not allowed – as it's a fire hazard and it gives a flickering light – and if it was used one needs to redo the search.
Search under all furniture, inside all closets, pockets of all clothes worn in the past year, school bags, purses, cars and anywhere else where Chametz could have been placed accidentally or purposely by adults, children or toddlers.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:1-10
There is no need to turn off the electric lights while searching with a candle, since with more light it's easier to find Chametz.
After searching with a candle in those places where it's safe and convenient to do so, one should continue with a flashlight, so that one can search safely and calmly without fear of burning down the house.
Source: Rabbi Shimon Eider zt"l, Halachos of Pessach, Vol. 1, page 86
Wednesday, 12 Nissan 5776
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
One may not prepare from Yom Tov to Shabbat unless one does Eruv Tavshilin before Yom Tov.
This year the 7th day of Pessach is on a Friday, so one needs to do Eruv Tavshilin on Thursday-Chol-Hamoed.
==> Make a note of this in your calendars - for Thursday 28 April / 20 Nissan <==
One takes Matza and a cooked or baked food that will be eaten on Shabbat and one says the Bracha:
One continues with the following, which must be said in a language one understands:בַּהֲדֵין עֵרוּבָא
"With this Eruv we are permitted to bake, cook, keep things warm and light fire and do all that is needed from Yom Tov to Shabbat".
The Matza and food should be kept in a safe place; it they are eaten before Shabbat, a Rabbi should be consulted how to proceed.
Even those who don't have to cook for Shabbat, still need to do Eruv Tavshilin in order to light Shabbat candles (from an existing flame.)
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 102
Tuesday, 11 Nissan 5776
Monday, April 18, 2016
One may not knead the dough of the Matza in direct sunlight, since sunlight causes dough to become Chametz very quickly.
On cloudy days, any place that is bright from the sunlight is considered to be in the sun.
That is the reason Matza factories tend to cover their windows, as it may become cloudy without anybody noticing and the Matza may inadvertently become Chametz.
One has to be careful that when moving the Matza to the oven that one doesn't pass under the sky, since on cloudy days that could cause the Matza to become Chametz.
However, one should be careful that the oven is nowhere near the kneading tables, as the heat from the oven would also cause the Matza to become Chametz.
The water and flour - before they are mixed - also have to be kept away from sunlight.
Source: Shulchan Aruch 459:1
Since most of us don't want to start selling Chametz on Erev Pessach, one can go to most local Rabbis and appoint them as a messenger to sell our Chametz.
The Rabbi will make a legal sale of the Chametz including a legal document and a deposit. Realize that this is a bona fide sale, and that the non-Jew is entitled to come to our homes and request we hand over our Chametz, as has occasionally happened.
After Pessach, the Rabbi goes to the non-Jew and asks to be paid the remainder of the debt and offers to buy back the Chametz from the non-Jew at a higher price. Since the non-Jew usually prefers to make a quick profit rather than paying for hundreds of items scattered throughout the city, he will sell the Chametz to the Rabbi.
One should only sell the actual Chametz and not the containers it's in - especially not containers that require Tevila, like metal and glass, otherwise one would need to Toivel them in a Mikva after Pessach, since they belonged to a non-Jew during Pessach.
Chametz that has been sold (via the Rabbi) must be locked away so that one doesn't accidentally use it, which would be a double problem: Chametz on Pessach and stealing from the non-Jew.
Even if one has no intention of keeping Chametz in one's home, one should still go to a Rabbi to appoint him to sell ones Chametz. Why?
- A lot of products may be Chametz contrary to popular belief - depending on the latest production methods - like medications, creams, soaps or even food which one discovers later wasn't really Kosher for Pessach.
- During Pessach one may discover Chametz that one wasn't aware of, or that one forgot to get rid of in the last-minute pre-Pessach rush.
If one sold all one's Chametz then one didn't own any during Pessach.
Chametz that belonged to a Jew during Pessach may not be used after Pessach. This is a Rabbinical decree; a punishment for owning the Chametz.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 114
Monday, 10 Nissan 5776
Sunday, April 17, 2016
The Torah forbids us to waste or destroy items that can still be used.
The Torah commands us to burn - or otherwise destroy - all Chametz in our possession on Erev Pesach morning.
Can we reconcile these two Halachot?
The Mitzva to destroy Chametz can be fulfilled with a bare minimum of Chametz; preferably with leftovers that nobody else would want to use. Usable Chametz can be donated - before Pesach - to various charity organizations which will distribute it to the needy.
Alternately, Chametz can be sold to a non-Jew. More about that tomorrow.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 114
Sunday, 9 Nissan 5776