The Torah prohibits men from removing their פֵּאוֹת.
The Payot-area is the hair in the 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 5775 - 24th day of the Omer
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
The Torah prohibits men from removing their פֵּאוֹת.
Monday, April 27, 2015
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 5775, 23rd day of the Omer
Sunday, April 26, 2015
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 5775, 22nd day of the Omer
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
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 5775, 18th day of the Omer; 2 weeks and 4 days
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
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 5775, 17th day of the Omer
Monday, April 20, 2015
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 5775, 16th day of the Omer
Sunday, April 19, 2015
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 Ma'ariv (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 Shacharit (morning prayers) or Mincha (afternoon prayers), then one has to return to the 17th Bracha of the Amida - רְצֵה - and make amends.
If one forgets יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא during Shacharit and then prayed Mussaf, one still has to make amends for Shacharit. Even if one already prayed Mincha one has to make amends for Shacharit.
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 5775 - 15th day of the Omer
Thursday, April 16, 2015
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 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, April 15, 2015
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 is 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 5775, 11th day of the Omer
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The "five grains" are wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye.
Grain that was planted and started taking root before the first day Chol Hamoed 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 5775, 10th day of the Omer
Monday, April 13, 2015
The custom is not 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 5775, 9th day of the Omer
Sunday, April 12, 2015
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."
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:1
Sunday, 23 Nissan 5775, 8th day of the Omer
Thursday, April 2, 2015
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.
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 5775
The next Halocho-a-Day is scheduled for after Pessach, Sunday, 23 Nissan
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
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 5775
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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 Friday, so one needs to do Eruv Tavshilin on Thursday-Chol-Hamoed.
==> Make a note of this in your calendars - for Thursday 9 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
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 5775
Monday, March 30, 2015
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 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 5775
Sunday, March 29, 2015
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 2 Halachot?
The Mitzva to destroy Chametz can be fulfilled with a bare minimum of Chametz; preferably with leftovers that nobody would be able 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
Thursday, March 26, 2015
The Jews in Egypt were commanded to take home a lamb for the pre-Exodus Seder on 10 Nissan, four days before it was going to be sacrificed.
It was a miracle that the Egyptians didn't harm the Jews when they did this, since lambs were considered sacred objects in Egypt.
Since we left Egypt on Thursday 15 Nissan, this miracle happened on a Shabbat.
To commemorate this miracle, the Shabbat before Pesach is called שַׁבָּת הַגָּדוֹל - the Great Shabbat - and a special Haftara is read; the last chapter in מַלְאָכִי which predicts the future redemption, may we merit it in our days.
The custom is to read the narrative section of the Haggada at the conclusion of the Mincha service on Shabbat Hagadol. One starts at עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ (we were slaves) until (but not including) Rabban Gamliel's admonition to say "פֶּסַח, מַצָה וּמָרוֹר".
Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 430
Thursday, 6 Nissan 5775
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Seder night consists of food and talk.
- On Seder night there's a Mitzva in the Torah to eat a piece of Korban Pessach on Matza with Marror (bitter herbs). Until the Bet Hamikdash (temple) is rebuilt we only have the Matza and Marror.
The minimum Torah requirement is to eat a Kezayit (an olive's worth) of Matza, which is approximately one-third of a square machine-Matza.
At a typical Seder it's customary to eat 2 Kezeitim for Motzi-Matza, a 3rd for the Hillel-sandwich and a fourth for the Afikomen.
- On Seder night there's also a Rabbinic requirement to drink 4 cups of wine.
All the above - besides for the Marror - must be eaten while leaning on ones left side.
The rest of the Seder consists of reading the entire Haggada. However, there's no Mitzva per se, to read the Haggada.
There's a Mitzva in the Torah to tell one's children the story of the Exodus from Egypt in Question-Answer format on Seder night.
The Haggada gives a framework so that one covers all required parts of the story, which is why it's important to understand and explain all those parts of the Haggada that recount the slavery, 10 plagues and deliverance in a language that all participants understand.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 119:4, 5, 7
May we merit to eat the Korban Pessach soon, in our lifetime.
Wednesday, 5 Nissan 5775
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Why don't firstborns celebrate the fact that they were saved from the 10th plague - the smiting of Egyptian firstborns?
On Erev Pessach - Friday next week - all firstborns will fast in memory of them fasting in Egypt on Erev Pessach, to ensure they wouldn't be punished along with the Egyptians in the 10th plague.
The Hallel said at the Seder includes praise for their delivery.
All firstborn males fast; even if they're only a firstborn to one of their parents.
Even firstborns who are exempt from Pidyon haBen - like Cohanim, Levites or being born after a stillborn - also have to fast.
The father of a young firstborn needs to fast for him.
Whether a firstborn (or his father) may attend a Se'udat Mitzva like a Siyum, Bris or Pidyon haBen and break his fast to participate in the meal, depends on local / family custom.
After breaking his fast, he can eat the rest of the day.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 113:6
Tuesday, 4 Nissan 5775
Monday, March 23, 2015
It is a Mitzva to honor Yom Tov:
- One should bathe, cut nails and get a haircut before Yom Tov.
- One shouldn't eat a meal during the second half of the afternoon on Erev Yom Tov so as not to spoil one's appetite for the festive evening meal.
- Yom Tov clothes should be nicer than Shabbat clothes
It is a Mitzva to be joyous on Yom Tov. This includes having 2 meals; one in the evening and one during the day.
The meals start with Kiddush and should include meat and delicacies and should be more elaborate than on Shabbat.
One should also provide the Neshama (soul) with Yom Tov joy by learning some Torah (e.g. Yom Tov related Halachot) at every meal.
There's a Mitzva to make others happy on Yom Tov:
- Children should be given nuts and other treats.
- Women should be given new clothes and jewelry.
- The poor and unfortunate should be invited or provided with financial support.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:2,3,4,7
Monday, 3 Nissan 5775
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Nissan is the time of year when trees start to blossom (in the Northern hemisphere).
The first time a year that one sees edible fruit trees blossoming one says:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱ-לקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם- Blessed are you Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe,
שֶׁלּא חִסֵּר בְּעוֹלָמוֹ כְּלוּם - for nothing is lacking in His universe,
וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת - and He created in it good creatures and good trees,
לֵהָנוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם - to cause mankind pleasure with them.
Once the flowers have fallen off and the fruit is visible, one can no longer say this Bracha .
One only makes this Bracha once a year.
It's an ancient custom to provide the needy with money for their Pessach needs, during the early part of Nissan, up and above one's regular charity contributions.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 60:1, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, 226:1, 429:1
Sunday, 2 Nissan 5775
Thursday, March 19, 2015
The first day of the first month - Nissan - will start on Friday night.
Don't forget הַלֵּל and יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא in the Amida and Birkat haMazon and אַתָּה יָצַרְתָּ עוֹלָמְךָ מִקֶּדֶם for Mussaf.
The first day of Nissan was the last of the 8 inaugural days of the Mishkan (tabernacle) and the first day that Aaron served as Cohen Gadol (high priest) and his 4 sons as Cohanim.
That same day, two of them - Nadav and Avihu - brought an offering, not in accordance with Halacha, and were killed by a heavenly fire.
On that day, the heads of the 12 tribes started bringing their inaugural sacrifices - one prince each day. Some people have the custom of reading that days' sacrifice during the first 12 days of Nissan. This can be found in the Siddur as the Torah Reading for Chanuka.
One does not say Tachanun during the entire month of Nissan.
One may not fast during Nissan, with the following exceptions:
- Firstborns fast on Erev Pesach (tomorrow in 2 weeks).
- Fasting for distressingly bad dreams.
- Couples getting married during Nissan, even on Rosh Chodesh, whereas on any other Rosh Chodesh the bride and groom do not fast.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 107:1,2
Shabbat Shalom & Chodesh Tov!
Thursday, 28 Adar 5775
P.S. Today (Thursday) is Yom Kippour Kattan for Chodesh Nissan.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
This Shabbat we will take out 3 Sifrei Torah.
The first one for the weekly Sedra: וַיִּקְרָא.
The second one for Rosh Chodesh from בְּמִדְבַּר starting from וּבְיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת.
The third one - for Maftir - where we will read Parshat הַחֹדֶשׁ starting with הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים from שְׁמוֹת Ch. 12, Verses 1-20
The Haftara will be the one for Parshat הַחֹדֶשׁ starting with - כֹּל הָעָם הָאָרֶץ יִהְיוּ אֶל הַתְּרוּמָה הַזֹּאת - from יְחֶזְקֵאל Ch. 45.
Parshat הַחֹדֶשׁ reminds us of the following upcoming Mitzvot:
- The month of Nissan (which begins on Shabbat) is the first month of the Jewish calendar, as the opening words of Parshat Hachodesh proclaim: "This month is for you the first month" - הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה.
- The laws of Korban Pesach; sacrificed on Erev Pesach in the afternoon, it had to be roasted whole and then eaten on the first night of Pesach with Matza and Marror (bitter herbs).
- Leftovers had to be burnt on the first day of Chol Hamo'ed.
- Matza needs to be made carefully to ensure it doesn't become Chametz (leaven).
- The first and last days of Pesach are Yom Tov.
- One may not own Chametz, nor eat it, during Pesach.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 140:2
Wednesday, 27 Adar 5775
Monday, March 16, 2015
Matzah is made from flour and water. Nothing else.
The water is drawn from a well or spring the night before it is used. The water for Sunday's baking is drawn on Thursday night.
The flour is ground from wheat that was harvested while still slightly green; once wheat is fully ripe it can become Chametz (leaven) even before being harvested, if it comes into contact with water.
The wheat needs to be ground into flour at least 24 hours before it is used, to give it time to cool down.
18 minutes after water is added to flour the dough becomes chametz. Matzah baking happens in 18-minute batches after which all equipment is thoroughly cleaned to remove all traces of dough.
Matzah used at the Seder needs to be made with the intention of it being used for a Mitzva; everybody involved in its production says "לְשֵׁם מַצַּת מִצְוָה" (for the purpose of the Mitzva of Matza) before all activities. This is know as Shmura-Matza.
If a Matza has a fold in it, or a bubble more than a finger high (2.5 cm), then the fold or bubble are considered Chametz and need to be broken off and disposed of. The rest of the Matza can be eaten.
One is forbidden to eat Matza on Erev Pessach. Most people have the custom to stop eating Matza from Rosh Chodesh Nissan already. Some don't eat Matza an entire month before Pessach.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: 108, 109, 110
Monday, 25 Adar 5775