Sunday, August 31, 2008

Halocho #159 - Why do we blow the Shofar during Elul

Today - Sunday - is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul. Today's date is 30 Av 5768. Tomorrow - Monday - is the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, and first day of the month of Elul. The next 40 days, starting tomorrow, correspond to the 40 days that Moshe spent on Har Sinai, to receive the 2nd set of Luchot (Tablets with the 10 commandments written on them). Moshe came down with these Luchot on Yom Kippur. Ever since, these 40 days are especially auspicious for Teshuva; repenting. The custom is to blow the Shofar after Shacharit (the morning prayers) from tomorrow, until Sunday, 28 Elul (28 September) , as a reminder to start improving ones Torah observance and to repent for past misdeeds. On Erev Rosh Hashana the Shofar is not blown, so as to create a break between the custom of blowing Shofar in Elul and the Torah-commandment to blow Shofar on Rosh Hashana. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:1, 2 Chodesh Tov, - Danny Sunday, 1st day Rosh Chodesh Elul 5768

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Halocho #158 - Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday and Monday

Rosh Chodesh Elul will be on Sunday and Monday.

Usually when Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday then the Haftara is changed to "Machar Chodesh"; and Jonathan says to David "Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh" (from Shemuel-1, 20:12).

However, from 9 B'Av until Rosh Hashana we read the 7 Haftarot of Consolation, and they take precedence over the Haftara of "Machar Chodesh".

Therefore, on Shabbat we will read the regular Haftara for Parshat Re'e (Yeshayahu 54).

Since Rosh Chodesh starts on Motzai Shabbat, one should try finish eating Seudat Shlishi (the 3rd Shabbat meal) before sunset, so as to avoid a conflict between saying Retzei and Ya'aleh Veyavo.

See Halocho #85 - - for more details.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:4, 44:17

Shabbat Shalom uMevorach and Chodesh Tov,

- Danny Erev Shabbat Re'eh, 28 Av 5768

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Halocho #157 - Tomorrow is Yom Kippour Kattan

The day before Rosh Chodesh is called Yom Kippour Kattan.

If Rosh Chodesh is on Shabbat or Sunday then Yom Kippour Kattan is on Thursday, so as not to fast on Friday.

Mincha (the afternoon prayers) on Yom Kippour Kattan includes prayers asking for repentance, so as to begin the new month with a "clean slate".

Some have the custom to fast on Yom Kippour Kattan.

In anticipation of the month of Elul and the upcoming High Holidays, most communities say the Yom Kippour Kattan prayers before Rosh Chodesh Elul, in order to get into the Teshuva (repentance) mood.

Tomorrow - Thursday - is Yom Kippour Kattan. Rosh Chodesh Elul will be on Sunday and Monday.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 97:1, 128:1

- Danny Wednesday, 26 Av 5768

Please daven for TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Halocho #156 - What's a Prozbul?

In Halocho #154 we learnt that when Shmita ends, so does the ability to request payment of certain loans.

However, if loans are handed over to a Bet Din (Jewish court of law) to collect, they may be collected even after Shmita.

Hillel Hazaken (the founder of Bet Hillel, 2,000 years ago) institutionalized handing over ones debts to a Bet Din, using a document called a Prozbul. (Prozbul is a Greek word.)

With a Prozbul one may collect debts even after Shmita ends.

A Prozbul is written and signed in the presence of 3 Torah-learning Jews. A Prozbul needs to be written before Shmita ends to be affective.

Money (or items) loaned after the Prozbul is written are not covered by the Prozbul.

Make sure to calenderize a Prozbul-writing session with your local Orthodox Rabbinate sometime before Rosh Hashana. The last time to write a Prozbul (for this Shmita cycle) is on September 29, 2008.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 180:15

- Danny Tuesday, 25 Av 5768

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Halocho #155 - Repaying debts after Shmita

As we learnt yesterday, this year (5768) is a Shmita year. When Shmita ends on Rosh Hashana, so will the ability to request payment of certain loans. During Shmita one may collect ones debts. After Shmita ends one can no longer request the repayment of any loan that came due before the Shmita year ended. If the debtor repays the debt after Shmita, the creditor must say to him "I have forfeited the debt and you no longer owe me anything". If the debtor responds that he nevertheless wants to repay the creditor, then the creditor may accept the payment. If the debtor explicitly states that he wants to repay the loan, then the creditor may not accept the payment. A creditor may ask people to intercede on his behalf to ensure the debtor returns the loan as a gift. This applies to loans of money as well as items. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 180:13, 14 More about this tomorrow, - Danny Monday, 24 Av 5768

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Halocho #154 - Loans after Shmita

We already learned in Halocho# 107 that lending money to a Jew, and paying back a loan are both Mitzvot. This year (5768 - ending on Rosh Hashana) is a Shmita year. During Shmita there's a Mitzva to suspend all land-related work. This week's Parsha - Re'eh - teaches us that when Shmita ends, so does the ability to request payment of certain loans. This does not apply to:

  • Loans that were given against collateral.
  • Loans that are only due after Shmita (until after the following Shmita).
  • Loans that were handed over to a Bet Din (Jewish court of law), so that Bet Din become the collection agency.
  • Credit extended by a shopkeeper or rent due to a landlord, until they declare it an outstanding debt.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 180:1, 3, 8, 9, 13 More about this tomorrow, - Danny Sunday, 23 Av 5768
Please daven for ESTHER DEVORA bat MINDEL RUTH - אסתר דבורה בת מינדל רות

Friday, August 22, 2008

Halocho #153 - Kiddush wine

Wine that is turning sour is not Kosher for Kiddush.

Even if it's not yet vinegar - and it still deserves the Bracha of Hagefen - but it smells sour, then it cannot be used for Kiddush.

Kiddush wine should not be left uncovered for long periods of time.

Wine that isn't clear should preferably be strained before Shabbat before being used for Kiddush. If it has a white "skin" on it then it cannot be used for Kiddush as it's probably going sour.

One may use grape juice for Kiddush.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 77:5

Shabbat Shalom,

- Danny Erev Shabbat Eikev, 21 Av 5768

Please daven for ESTHER DEVORA bat MINDEL RUTH - אסתר דבורה בת מינדל רות

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Halocho #152 - Don't hang your Mezuzah

A Mezuzah is rolled-up from the left, so that a person opening it would see the word "Shma".

A Mezuzah is not allowed to hang; it should preferably be put into a tube which is nailed - top and bottom - to the doorpost. At the very least it should be glued along it's entire length to the doorpost.

Care must be taken to ensure that the Mezuzah is not affixed upside-down. A Mezuzah has the 3 letters Shin-Daled-Yud (spelling one of Hashem's names) on the outside. If this is visible then the Mezuzah is the right way up.

A Mezuzah has 14 letters written upside-down along its upper edge. If these are on the bottom and right-way-up then the Mezuzah is upside down. Most Mezuzot are rolled tightly, so these letters are not visible.

These 14 letters are written behind the words "Hashem Elokeinu Hashem" of the first inside line, and are the letters following the letter they are behind; Kaf is behind the Yud, Vav is behind the Hey, etc. This is the way Mezuzot have always been written.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:6

- Danny Thursday, 20 Av 5768

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Halocho #151 - Can one put a Mezuzah on the inside?

The Mezuzah belongs on the outside doorpost. In a wide doorframe it belongs in the Tefach (~8cm - 3 inches) closest to the outside.

The Minhag is to put it up at an angle, with the top leaning inwards. If there's not enough space, it can be affixed vertically.

If there is no space on the outside, then it can be affixed on the inside.

If one is worried about theft, then the Mezuzah can be put on the inside.

It's preferable to carve a hollow in the doorpost and affix the Mezuzah into the indent, rather than putting it inside the house.

When a Mezuzah is carved into the doorpost it must still be upright; one cannot drill a horizontal hole and put the Mezuzah into it. The indent cannot be more than a Tefach deep, and it cannot be totally hidden; it must be obvious that there's a Mezuzah on the door.

When a Mezuzah is affixed to the inside, care must be taken that it's affixed to the doorpost (and not to the wall, nor the door) and that it's within the Tefach (~8cm - 3 inches) of the door. The top should be slanted inwards.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:6, 9

- Danny Wednesday, 19 Av 5768

Please daven for ESTHER DEVORA bat MINDEL RUTH - אסתר דבורה בת מינדל רות

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Halocho #150 - Which side does the Mezuzah go on?

The 2 chapters written in a Mezuzah are the first two chapters of the Kriat Shma. The first chapter - Shma Yisrael (Devarim 6:5-9) - was in last week's Torah Reading. The second chapter - Vehaya (Devarim 11:13-21) - is in this week's Torah Reading. When entering a house or a room, the Mezuzah needs to be affixed on the right-hand doorpost. (On the way out you'll find it on the left-hand side.) When there's a door between 2 homes, then the door-hinges are the deciding factor. The room with the hinges - the room where the door opens into - is the "inside", and the Mezuzah is put on the right-hand side when entering into that room. The same would apply to any two inter-leading rooms that are equidistant from the front door. A Mezuzah that is on the wrong doorpost needs to be taken down and affixed - with a Bracha - to the right side. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:3-4 Other aspects of Mezuzah were discussed in Halocho a Day #57 - - Danny Tuesday, 18 Av 5768

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Halocho #149 - The day the Western Lamp was extinguished

In the Bet Hamikdash, a Cohen would light the Menorah every afternoon. Its 7 lamps would burn until morning. Miraculously, the Ner Ma'aravi - the Western Lamp - would burn all day, even though it was identical to the other 6 lamps. One of the reasons most Shuls have a Ner-Tamid always burning, is to commemorate this miracle. 40 years before the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash (Holy Temple), in the days of the wicked King Achaz, (father of King Hezekiah), this miracle stopped. This happened on the 17th of Av (some say on the 18th). As a result, this day was declared as one of the tragic days in our history and is included in the list of days on which it would be appropriate to fast. Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:1-2, Yoma 39. - Danny Monday, 17 Av 5768

Please daven for ESTHER DEVORA bat MINDEL RUTH - אסתר דבורה בת מינדל רות

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Halocho #148 - What is the first commandment?

Yesterday's Torah Reading included the repetition of the 10 Commandments. The first of the Ten Commandments is to believe that "I am the Hashem your G-d, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage". Included in this Mitzva is the requirement to believe that Hashem exists and that He created everything and continues to will it into existence. Included in this Mitzva is the belief that Hashem took us out of Egypt; it wasn't a "lucky break". He continues to control everything that happens, everywhere. Included in this Mitzva is the requirement to state that one believes in Hashem, even at the risk of getting killed. This is one of the "perpetual" Mitzvot; whenever one thinks about any of the above, one fulfills this Mitzva. Source: Sefer Hachinuch, Mitzva 25. - Danny Sunday, 16 Av 5768

Please daven for a little girl undergoing chemotherapy- TAMAR bat NAAMA -תמר בת נעמה

Friday, August 15, 2008

Halocho #147 - Shabbat Nachamu

While normally the Haftara is connected to the weekly Torah reading, for 7 weeks following 9 B'Av we read the 7 Haftarot of Consolation from Yeshayahu. This week is named after the opening words of the 7 Haftarot of Consolation; "Nachamu, Nachum Ami"; Hashem instructs Yeshayahu to "Console, console My people". Since it's Tu B'Av, one does not say Tzidkoscho Tzedek at Mincha on Shabbat (since one wouldn't say Tachanun if it were a weekday). Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:4, 22:8, - Danny Erev Shabbat Nachamu, 14 Menachem-Av 5768

Please daven for ESTHER DEVORA bat MINDEL RUTH - אסתר דבורה בת מינדל רות

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Halocho #146 - Last chance for Kiddush Levana

One can say Kiddush Levana (the blessing on a waxing moon) until the Full Moon; defined as half way between 2 Molads. (The Molad is the New Moon based on Halachic calculations.) The custom is to not say Kiddush Levana on Shabbat unless there's no other time to say it. This month [in Jerusalem] the Halachic full moon will be 10 minutes after sunset; minutes before Motzai Shabbat. Shabbat afternoon in the USA. This month there will be a [partial] moon eclipse on Friday night [around midnight in Israel]. Many Poskim [Halachic authorities] prefer not saying Kiddush Levana after a moon eclipse, since moon eclipses happen at Full Moon. Other Poskim allow saying Kiddush Levana until the Halachic Full Moon, even if it's obvious to everybody that the moon is already waning. If you didn't yet say Kiddush Levana this month, you should make sure to say it tonight - Thursday night. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 97:7, 10 ,12 - Danny Thursday, 13 Menachem-Av 5768

Please daven for ESTHER DEVORA bat MINDEL RUTH - אסתר דבורה בת מינדל רות

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Halocho #145 - Why is Tu B'Av a joyous day?

A number of joyous events happened over the years on Tu B'Av, which is on this coming Shabbat.

- It was the day the Generation-of-the-Wilderness realized that the sin of the spies had been forgiven, in the year 2488.

- It was the day that the tribes were allowed to intermarry, including orphaned daughters (as per Bemidbar 36:8) once all those who conquered the Land had passed away.

- On the same day the tribe of Binyamin were allowed to intermarry with other tribes, after the scandal of Give'ah (as per Shoftim 19 - 21), around the year 2524.

- It was the day that King Hoshea ben Elah removed the blockades that the wicked King Yerav'am ben Nevat had placed on the roads, preventing the Jews from going up to Jerusalem for the Festivals about 75 years earlier, around the year 3040.

- It was the day the Romans allowed those massacred by the wicked Hadrian in Beitar to be buried, some time after he died in 138 (C.E).

- It was the day they stopped chopping wood for the altar in the Bet Hamikdash every year, as it marks the end of "summer" (as per Rashi on Breishis 8:22) and the start of the 2 months of "heat". The wood had to be worm free to be used on the altar, and had to be fully dried before the rainy season.

This gave everybody more time for learning Torah - and therefore Tu B'Av is the Joyous Day of Increased Torah Learning.

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Source: The Book of our Heritage, Vol 3 page 307-313

- Danny Wednesday, 12 Menachem Av 5768

Please daven for ESTHER DEVORA bat MINDEL RUTH - אסתר דבורה בת מינדל רות

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Halocho #144 - Is Tu B'Av the festival of love?

This Shabbat is Tu B'Av, which is famous for being the day girls went to dance in the vineyards in the hope of attracting a future husband. The only other day this was done was on Yom Kippour, the day Hashem forgave the sin of the Golden Calf. The 15th of Av was the day Hashem forgave the Generation-of-the-Wilderness for the sin of the spies talking evil about the Promised Land. To quote The Book of our Heritage: "Since these 2 days were days of purification from sin, the earlier generations did not hesitate to regard them as days of festivity and dancing for the daughters of Israel... and there was no apprehension lest they breach the fence of chastity and modesty." Source: The Book of our Heritage, Vol 3 page 307 King Saul called his son Yehonathan " Ben N'avat Hamardut", son of the rebellious outgoing one, because Achinoam saw that Saul was too shy to approach any of the girls dancing, so she approached him. Source: Rashi on Shmuel-1, 20:30 - Danny Tuesday, 11 Menachem Av 5768

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Monday, August 11, 2008

Halocho #143 - Tish'a B'Av isn't over yet

We mourn and fast on 9 B'Av since the Bet Hamikdash was burned to the ground. The fire was ignited on 9 B'Av in the afternoon and burned through the 10th of Av. Therefore the restrictions of "the 9 days" continue until after midday on the 10th of Av (today - Monday). The custom is to refrain from eating meat and wine, bathing, doing laundry, shaving and haircuts, saying Shehechiyanu and listening to music until Monday after noon. One may make a Se'udat Mitzvah (like a Brit) in the morning, with meat and wine. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 124:20-22 - Danny Monday, 10 Menachem-Av 5768

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Friday, August 8, 2008

Halocho #142 - When do we make Havdala this week?

This week on Motzai Shabbat one only says the Bracha over the candle; Borei M'Orei Ha'Esh.

After Shabbat one needs to say "Baruch Hamavdil Ben Kodesh L'Chol" before doing work that is forbidden on Shabbat.

After the fast ends on Sunday night one makes Havdala before eating.

Since it's not Motzai Shabbat, this delayed Havdala consists only of the Bracha over wine (or beer) and the long Bracha of Hamavdil. The Bracha on spices is not said. The Bracha on the candle is not said, even if one forgot to do so on Motzai Shabbat.

Those who need to eat on 9 B'Av must make Havdala before eating.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 125:6

Review Halocho #131 to find out which Haftara we read this week: (

Shabbat Shalom,

- Danny Erev Shabbat Chazon, 7 Menachem-Av 5768

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Halocho #141 - When do we eat the Seudat Mafseket?

The fast of 9 B'Av begins at sunset; this year it starts at sunset slightly before Motzai Shabbat and lasts until Sunday night.

Usually the Seudat Mafseket - the "final meal" before the fast of 9 B'Av - is eaten while seated on the floor. It typically consists of a cold hard boiled egg and bread which is dipped into ashes.

Since the fast of 9 B'Av is on Sunday, there is no Seudat Mafseket this year.

One can eat a normal Se'udat Shlishit - 3rd Shabbat meal - however one needs to stop eating and drinking before sunset.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 125:1

- Danny Thursday 6 Menachem-Av 5768

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Halocho #140 - Can we sit on chairs on 9 B'Av?

On the fast of 9 B'Av it's customary not to sit on chairs from the time the fast begins (at nightfall this Motzai Shabbat) until noon (Sunday, midday).

Instead, one sits on the floor. Anything within 3 tefachim (about 9" - 24 cm) of the floor is considered as being on the floor.

After noon one may sit on regular chairs. However, all other restrictions of the fast apply until the fast is over at night-fall.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 124: 16

- Danny Wednesday, 5 Menachem-Av 5768

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Halocho #139 - Can we say Kiddush Levana this week?

One does not say Kiddush Levana (the monthly blessing over the new moon) until after the fast of 9 B'Av. On Motzai Yom Kippour one can say Kiddush Levana immediately after Ma'ariv (the evening prayers). On Motzai 9 B'Av one may not say Kiddush Levana until one has broken the fast and put on shoes. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 124:19, 130:6 - Danny Tuesday, 4 Menachem-Av 5768

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Monday, August 4, 2008

Halocho #138 - Can one go to work on 9 B'Av?

One may do "minor" work on 9 B'Av, such as turning on lights and driving.

Any work that takes times, as well as all business dealings, should not be done until noon, so as not to get distracted from mourning the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash - the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

While one may go to work and open ones business on 9 B'Av afternoon, it's commendable not to.

One may have a non-Jew do ones work on 9 B'Av, and one may do any work needed to prevent a monetary loss.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 124:15

- Danny Monday, 3 Menachem-Av 5768

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Halocho #137 - What is 9 B'Av?

Next Sunday (10 August) is the fast of 9 B'Av which commemorates 5 tragedies that befell the Jewish people on that date:

  1. It was decreed that the generation which left Egypt would remain in the desert for 40 years and not enter the land of Israel, after believing the inaccurate report of 10 of the 12 spies in the year 2449.
  2. The first Bet Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed on 9 B'Av in the year 3339.
  3. The second Bet Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed on 9 B'Av about 1948 years ago.
  4. The city of Betar was captured and tens of thousands of Jews were killed in the year 3893.
  5. The wicked Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Bet Hamikdash and its surroundings and renamed it Aelia Capitolina, also in the year 3893.
Since these tragedies occurred on 9 B'Av, it was decreed as a day of fasting and mourning. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:5 Other tragedies that happened on 9 B'Av:
  • 4,000 Jews were expelled from England by King Edward I in the year 5050 (18 July 1290)
  • 300,000 Jews were expelled from Spain by Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in the year 5252 (2 August 1492)
  • Word War 1 started in 5674 - 1 August 1914 - with Germany declaring war on Russia
- Danny Sunday, 2 Menachem-Av 5768
Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה

Friday, August 1, 2008

Halocho #136 - The teetotaler 9 days and Havdala

Rosh Chodesh Av is tomorrow - Shabbat. When the month of Av begins, one diminishes joy. Yesterday we learnt that the custom is not to eat meat and chicken and not to drink wine during the 9 days except on Shabbat. How does one make Havdala this week? One makes Havdala as usual this week using wine (and spices and a candle). If there is a small child who can drink most of the cup of wine, then one gives it to him to drink. If not, then the person making Havdala drinks the wine. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:8 Some people have the custom of using beer for Havdala this week. If one uses beer for Havdala then the first Bracha needs to be "Shehakol" instead of "Borei Pri Hagofen". Source: Halachos of the 3 weeks by Rav Shimon Eider zt"l page 7 My Rosh Yeshiva - Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l - always used wine for Havdala and always drank it himself. Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom, - Danny Erev Rosh Chodesh Av, Shabbat Mas'ei, 29 Tamuz 5768 --> Don't forget to say Ya'ale Veyavo tonight and tomorrow during Amida and Birkat Hamazon!

Review Halocho #131 to find out which Haftara we read this week.

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה