Sunday, September 28, 2008

Halocho #183 - Warning! The king is on the way

A main theme of Rosh Hashanah is Hashem's reign over the entire world. This sovereignty is displayed by His ability to judge the world. As a result, from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippour is over, we replace "G-d" with "King" in various places in davening (prayers). 1. The ending of the 3rd Bracha of the Amida changes to HaMelech Hakadosh. If you forget this, you have to restart the Amida, unless you caught yourself immediately. (Immediately means: you didn't yet have time to say 3 words.) If you're not sure what you said, you also have to restart the Amida. 2. The end of the 11th Bracha in the weekday Amida changes to HaMelech HaMishpat. If you forget or are not sure what you said then you continue. No correction is needed. 3. Friday night during the "Magen Avot" we replace "HakEl HaKodesh" with HaMelech Hakadosh. If you forget, no correction is needed. From Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippour is over we add four phrases to the Amida. If you forget after concluding that Bracha, no correction is needed. Until saying "Baruch Ata" you should make amends. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:3, 4 5 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a sweet and healthy year Reminder: Don't forget to write a Prozbul before Rosh Hashana - Danny Sunday, 28 Elul 5768

This post is written in memory of my late grandmother - Beila bas Nosson - who passed away on the 2nd night of Rosh Hashanah

Friday, September 26, 2008

Halocho #182 - The Rosh Hashanah menu

At the Rosh Hashanah evening meal it's customary to eat foods that symbolize a Good New Year. The bread from Motzi is dipped in honey and after eating it the Yehi Ratzon is said praying for a sweet new year. יהי רצון שתחדש עלינו שנה טובה ומתוקה Then one dips an apple in honey, says the Bracha on the apple ("Borei Pri HaEtz") and eats some. One then says the Yehi Ratzon again. There are various other foods that are eaten with their appropriate Yehi Ratzon; one may even add new ones. One tries to have only sweet items on the menu; no food cooked in vinegar, for example. The custom is to not eat nuts. One should remember to learn some Torah at the Yom Tov meals; some learn a chapter of Mishna-Rosh-Hashanah, which has 4 chapters; one for each meal. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:9 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a sweet new year. Shabbat Shalom, - Danny Friday, Erev Shabbat Nitzavim, 26 Elul 5768 Please daven for Avrohom Yomtov Lipa ben Miriam for a Refuah Shleima - complete recovery. Help me answer Judaism-related questions on WikiAnswers

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Halocho #181 - What should I have in mind when hearing the Shofar?

The blast of the Shofar should remind us to awaken from our spiritual slumber and start taking our Torah study and Mitzva observance seriously. Hearing the Shofar being blown on Rosh Hashanah is a Torah commandment! This crucial detail should not be forgotten when reflecting on the various symbolic reasons given for Shofar blowing. One should not talk after hearing the Brachah on the Shofar until after hearing 100 blasts from the Shofar so as not to interrupt between the Bracha and fulfilling the Mitzva as prescribed by Chazal. This means not talking until after Mussaf. (As a general rule one shouldn't ever talk during prayer services. On Rosh Hashanah there's another reason why not to so.) At a minimum one should be careful not to talk after the Bracha until hearing the first set of 30 Shofar blasts. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:15 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah, - Danny Thursday, 25 Elul 5768

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Halocho #180 - Tashlich, the Rosh Hashanah outing

After Mincha (afternoon prayers) on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Minhag is to walk to a river to say Tashlich; verses about Hashem's willingness to forgive those who repent. Preferably the river should have fish and be outside the city. If this is impractical one can even use a well which doesn't flow and is without fish. One then symbolically shakes out ones pockets as a reminder to shake off ones sins and to start the new year with a fresh attitude towards Mitzvoth. After Tashlich one should go to shul and spend the rest of the time before Maariv (evening prayers) learning Torah, Mussar or saying Tehillim. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:21, 22 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah, - Danny Wednesday, 24 Elul 5768

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Halocho #179 - Must I sleep in the Sukkah?

Since the Mitzva of Sukkah is to move out of the house and into the Sukkah for the duration of Sukkoth, one should really sleep in the Sukkah. People who are meticulous about their Mitzva observance will not even take a nap outside the Sukkah. Their entire family moves into the Sukkah; husband, wife and children. There are numerous reasons why not to sleep in a Sukkah. However, if the Sukkah is not fit for sleeping (e.g. it's too dangerous) then the Sukkah is not Kosher even for eating in. The slightest precipitation renders the Sukkah unfit for sleeping and one should then sleep indoors. Once one lies down inside one is exempt from returning to the Sukkah the entire night, even if the Sukkah subsequently dries. Women are exempt from the Mitzva of Sukkah, as it's a time-bound Mitzva. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 135:8, 9, 10 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah, - Danny Tuesday, 23 Elul 5768

Monday, September 22, 2008

Halocho #178 - The traveler's Sukkah guide

People in transit are exempt from eating in a Sukkah if building one will delay them.

If they can locate a Sukkah to eat in, and it won't delay them, then they must do so.

Travelers who rest by night need to build a Sukkah for night-time use, if the expense is reasonable. If not, they should try return home every night, if possible.

A Shli'ach Mitzva - a Mitzva emissary - is exempt from the Mitzva of Sukka, even when not traveling, if building / locating / using a Sukkah will delay them or cause them to be exhausted the following day.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 135:18, 19

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you prosperous year

- Danny Monday, 22 Elul 5768

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Halocho #177 - Why do we sit in a Sukka?

The Torah command us to live in the Sukka for the duration of Sukkoth. 7 days in Eretz Yisrael, 8 days in the Diaspora. One should move into the Sukka and bring along ones creature comforts; ones comfortable chairs and favorite dishes. The Mitzva of Sukka is one of the few where the Torah explicitly gives us a reason to accompany the Mitzva: Sit in the Sukka for seven days in order that your descendants should be aware that the Yidden dwelled in Sukkoth during their journey out of Egypt. Sukkoth could be referring to the Clouds of Glory that surrounded and protected the entire Jewish encampment (as per R' Eliezer) or actual Sukkah-huts that individual families lived in (as per R' Akiva). One should keep this "reason" in mind when fulfilling the Mitzva of Sukka. One should treat the Sukka with respect and not bring in items one wouldn't tolerate at a Shabbat table. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 135:1, 2 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah, - Danny Sunday, 21 Elul 5768

Friday, September 19, 2008

Halocho #176 - When do Selichot start?

This year Selichot start on Sunday (21 Elul/September), 10 days before Rosh Hashana.

Selichot should be said before Shacharit, towards the end of the night. The end of the night is an "Et Ratzon"; an auspicious time when Hashem is more receptive to listening to ones prayers.

When arising for Selichot one should wash ones hands even if it's still night, and make the Bracha "Al Netilat Yadayim".

One should say the 2 Brachot of Birkat haTorah before saying Selichot.

After Selichot one should wash ones hands again (if the first washing was pre-dawn), but one does not repeat the Bracha.

One should preferably stand during Selichot; during the "Kel Melech Yoshev", 13 Middos and the Viddui one must stand.

The Chazzan for Selichot should preferably be a Torah Scholar, well liked and if possible married with children and over 30 years of age. However, any Jew can be a Chazzan as long as the community approves. The same applies to the Chazzan for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippour as well as the person blowing the Shofar.

Selichot are not said on Shabbat.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:5, 6, 7

[Sefardim say Selichot the entire month of Elul.]

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; may all your prayers be answered,

Shabbat Shalom,

- Danny Friday, 19 Elul 5768

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Halocho #175 - The 4 minim - tie them right!

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzva to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog. The past 4 Halochot have discussed the individual species. When shaking them on Sukkoth, the Lulav, 3 Haddasim and 2 Aravot are tied together and held in ones right hand, and the Etrog in ones left hand. (Lefties hold the Lulav in their left, Etrog in the right.) All 6 branches must be facing upwards, with the side where they were cut off the tree facing down. The spine of the Lulav must be facing you. The 3 Haddasim are tied to the right of the Lulav. The 2 Aravot are tied to the left of the Lulav. The Lulav is first bound with 3 ties typically made of palm leaves. The 3 Haddasim and 2 Aravot are then bound to it with another 2 ties. The Haddasim should be slightly higher than than the Aravot. The spine of the the Lulav must protrude at least 1 Tefach (8 cm - 3") above the Haddasim and Aravot. The top Tefach of the Lulav should not have any ties on it. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 136:8 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah, - Danny Thursday, 18 Elul 5768

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Halocho #174 - How long must the Aravot be?

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzva to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog.

The Arava comes from a known type of willow tree with long leaves, non-serrated edges, and its bough turns red when mature.

The Arava must be at least 3 Tefachim (24 cm - 10") long.

If possible one should get Aravot from a tree that grows alongside a river.

Willows dry up very quickly. A wilted Arava is not Kosher. Some say that once its leaves start drooping it is not fresh enough to be a Kosher Arava.

Many have the Minhag to get fresh Aravot every day of Chol Hamo'ed Sukkoth.

An Arava is no longer Kosher if most of its leaves have come off, or its tip is cut off. This can happen if they are wilted, have been shaken too hard or while replacing them.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 136:5, 6, 7 and 137:6

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a healthy, wealthy year to come,

- Danny Wednesday, 17 Elul 5768

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Halocho #173 - Does the Haddas have berries?

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzva to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog. Each Haddas is a branch of a myrtle bush, and is at least 3 Tefachim (24 cm - 10") long. Myrtle leaves grow in groups of three or more. A Kosher Haddas needs to be Meshulash; with each group of leaves growing out of the branch at exactly the same height. Preferably the Haddas should be Meshulash its entire length, though it's Kosher if only the top half is Meshulash. The entire Haddas needs to be covered in leaves, the top of the lower leaves must reach the bottom of the higher ones. Myrtle bushes have berries growing on them. A Haddas should not have any berries on it; berries should be removed (with their stems) before Yom Tov. Make sure that the top of the Haddas is not cut off, it usually ends in a set of tiny leaves. Haddasim need to be kept fresh; dried out Haddasim are not Kosher. Source: Shulchan Aruch 646. Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year full of good news, - Danny Tuesday, 16 Elul 5768

Monday, September 15, 2008

Halocho #172 - Is a grafted Etrog Kosher?

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzva to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog.

The Etrog is a citron; Citrus Medica.

It is held in ones left hand when shaking the four species, with the stem (where it was cut off the tree) facing downwards.

By nature the Etrog tree is very soft (mine buckled during a light Jerusalem snow storm), therefore it is often grafted onto other trees to make it stronger.

An Etrog from a grafted tree cannot be used when shaking the four species. (Grafted fruit is Kosher to eat, despite the prohibition against grafting trees.)

The Etrog needs to be whole; scratches and dents may invalidate it.

The Etrog should not have dark dots on it, though it may have light scabs that are a result of leaves and thorns brushing against it while it grows. (Etrog trees have thorns that grow to about 2" long.)

The "nose" of the the Etrog - from where it starts getting narrow - should be perfectly clean.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 174:2, Shulchan Aruch 648

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you happy year to come

- Danny Monday, 15 Elul 5768

Written in memory of my grandfather - Yehuda ben Yissoschor - whose 21st Yahrzeit is today.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Halocho #171 - Why do we shake the Lulav?

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzva to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog. The Torah commands us to shake the four species on all 7 days of Sukkoth in the Bet Hamikdash (Holy Temple), and on the first day of Sukkoth everywhere else. After the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed, the Rabbis instituted shaking the four species during the entire Sukkoth, Zecher L'Mikdash; in memory of the Temple. One does not shake the four species on Shabbat. The Lulav is a palm branch that is still closed. Once the leaves start fanning out, it's no longer a Lulav. A Lulav has a spine from which the leaves protrude; this spine needs to be facing you when you shake the four species. The Lulav spine should be straight, a slight curvature towards you is allowed. The Lulav spine must be at least 4 Tefachim (32 cm - 13") long. This is measured from the bottom of the lowest "leaf" to the bottom of the highest "leaf". Each "leaf" is made of 2 parts that are connected (and will eventually open up into a V-shaped palm leaf). If these double-leaves start separating then the Lulav may no longer be Kosher. Special care should be taken that the highest leaves remain coupled. Source: Shulchan Aruch 645. Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah, - Danny Sunday, 14 Elul 5768

Friday, September 12, 2008

Halocho #170 - Parties, but no weddings?

The Minhag is to not get married during the 10 days-of-repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipppour. The Minhag is to not get married on Chol Hamo'ed, so as not to mingle the joy of Yom Tov with ones private celebration. However, one may remarry ones divorcee on Chol Hamo'ed. (One may never again marry ones divorcee if she married somebody else, even if she subsequently got divorced or was widowed. A Cohen may never marry a divorcee; even his ex-wife.) One may make a Brit, Pidyon Haben and engagement party on the above days. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 104:17, 130:4, 145:12 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year full of good tidings Shabbat Shalom, - Danny Erev Shabbat Ki-Theitzei, 12 Elul 5768

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Halocho #169 - The week of Chol Hamo'ed; Chol or Mo'ed?

The intermediary days of Pessach and Succoth are known as Chol Hamo'ed. Some types of work are permitted, others are forbidden.

In order to ensure that one does the laundry before the Mo'ed (Jewish Holiday), doing laundry is forbidden on Chol Hamo'ed, except in extenuating circumstances:

- If it was impossible to launder before the Mo'ed (e.g. one was locked up in jail) then one may launder on Chol Hamo'ed

- Baby clothes that continuously get soiled and need to be changed many times a day may be laundered on Chol Hamo'ed

When laundering on Chol Hamo'ed one must ensure it's done in private.

All medical procedures are allowed on Chol Hamo'ed.

If one has the opportunity to borrow money and there's reason to believe that after Yom Tov the money will no longer be available, then one may borrow the money on Chol Hamo'ed (even if it means writing an IOU), even if it's for a post Yom Tov business deal.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 104:13, 14, 16

For more on Chol Hamo'ed see Halocho #91 -

K'tiva V'chatima Tova; wishing you a year full of happiness,

- Danny Thursday, 11 Elul 5768

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Halocho #168 - Glad to be around; Shehechiyanu

The blessing of Shehechiyanu; - "... who has kept us alive, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion" - is recited during Kiddush on all nights of Yom Tov, except on the last days of Pessach.

There are two Minhagim (customs) regarding Shehechiyanu at candle-lighting on Yom Tov candles:

- Some women have the Minhag of saying Shehechiyanu when lighting Yom-Tov candles (except on the last days of Pessach)

- Others never say Shehechiyanu at candle-lighting

If a woman makes her own Kiddush she must be careful to only say Shehechiyanu once; either at candle-lighting or during Kiddush.

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah there's a Halachic debate if Shehechiyanu is required. To be on the safe side, one should wear a new item of clothing, or see a new fruit (that one hasn't tasted yet this season) while saying Shehechiyanu on the second night of Rosh Hashanah; both during Kiddush and during candle lighting (if applicable).

If one does not have a new item of clothing, nor a new fruit, on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, one still says Shehechiyanu.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:4, 129:23

See Halocho #109 - for other uses of the Bracha of Shehechiyanu.

K'tiva V'chatima Tova; wishing you a year full of happy tidings

- Danny Wednesday, 10 Elul 5768

Please daven that Dalia Rivka Bat Tamar should find her Shidduch soon

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Halocho #167 - Should one spend money on Jewelry or Charity?

There's a Mitzva to relish Jewish Holidays and therefore one must eat two Yom Tov meals; one at night and one during the day. (Se'udat Shlishi - the 3rd meal - is only eaten on Shabbat and is not required on Yom Tov.)

Each meal starts with Kiddush over wine and two Challot (loaves of bread) and should include meat and other delicacies.

It's also a Mitzva to ensure that others are happy:

- Children should be given treats

- Wives should get new clothes and jewelry according to ones budget

- Men should be served meat and wine

In order to prove that the extra expenses are for Yom Tov and not simply for self-indulgence, one must ensure that the poor and needy are also supplied with their Yom Tov needs; invite some over for the meals and donate generously to reputable charity funds before Yom Tov.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:3, 5, 9

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; may you always be on the giving end

- Danny Tuesday, 9 Elul 5768

Monday, September 8, 2008

Halocho #166 - Honoring Yom Tov

There's a Mitzva to honor each Yom Tov - Jewish Festival.

This Mitzva if fulfilled by:

- Getting a haircut before Yom Tov

- Having a warm shower/bath on Erev Yom Tov

- Baking fresh bread for Yom Tov

- Not eating on Erev Yom Tov afternoon so as not to spoil ones appetite for the evening meal. The details depend on each person's metabolism, but after mid-afternoon nobody may eat a meal (with bread). Even the first day of Yom Tov is considered "Erev Yom Tov" of the second day, in this regard.

- Ones Yom Tov clothes should be more expensive than ones Shabbat clothes.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:1, 2, 5

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah,

- Danny Monday, 8 Elul 5768

Please daven that Dalia Rivka Bat Tamar will find her Shidduch soon

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Halocho #165 - When can one prepare for the 2nd day of Yom Tov?

Certain types of Melacha which are forbidden on Shabbat are permitted on Yom Tov, like cooking and carrying without an Eruv. One may also light a fire from an existing flame on Yom Tov. The above are only allowed if they are needed for that day of Yom Tov. One may not do Melacha on the first day Yom Tov for the second day. However, one may use a bigger pot for soup or meat and double the required quantity on first day Yom Tov, but one may not explicitly say that the extra food is for the second day. This "trick" only applies to food being prepared in a pot, since the more food being prepared the better it tastes. One may not light candles on the first day Yom Tov for the second day, unless one needs the extra light before sunset. One may not do Melacha on Yom Tov for after Yom Tov. (If Yom Tov is on Friday then these Halachot are slightly different. We'll hopefully discuss them before next Pessach and Shavu'ot when they become relevant) Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:1, 101:1, 6 K'tiva V'chatima Tova; wishing you a fantastic year to come - Danny Sunday, 7 Elul 5768

Friday, September 5, 2008

Halocho #164 - If Kiddush wine goes bad

If you make Kiddush and upon tasting the wine you discover it was water or vinegar: If you wash before Kiddush then you can make HaMotzi right away. No need to find and drink wine. If you wash after Kiddush, then you should find some good wine:

  • If there is a bottle of good wine on the table during Kiddush then you should drink that, without further ado.
  • If there is wine in the house (not on the table) that you plan on drinking during the meal, then use it to redo Kiddush (but without saying the Bracha of Hagafen again).
  • Otherwise you will need to start Kiddush all over again from the beginning, with a cup of good wine.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 77:12 K'tiva V'chatima Tova; may you be inscribed for a year of health and happiness Shabbat Shalom, - Danny Erev Shabbat Shoftim, 5 Elul 5768

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Halocho #163 - Why do I need to do Teshuva?

During Elul one gets ready for the Days of Judgement (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) with a three-pronged approach:

  • Teshuva; repenting.
  • Tefilla; praying.
  • Tzedaka; giving charity.
Learning Torah is a prerequisite for repenting. If one isn't aware of ones obligations, one cannot repent for not doing them. Every person has a Mitzva to learn Torah every day and every night. One should concentrate on learning practical Halacha, to review what ones obligations are and to discover their finer details. People who are too busy all week should learn at least one Halacha every day, and one at night. On Shabbat one should spend as much time as possible learning Torah; the less Torah one learns during the week, the more time one should spend learning Torah on Shabbat. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 27:2, 77:24 K'tiva V'chatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah, - Danny Thursday, 4 Elul 5768

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Halocho #162 - Understanding your prayers

During Elul one gets ready for the Days of Judgement (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) with a three-pronged approach: - Teshuva; repenting. - Tefilla; praying. - Tzedaka; giving charity.

In order to pray properly one needs to understand what one is saying.

If one is not fluent in Hebrew, one should get a Siddur and Machzor with an English translation.

One should remember that one is praying to the One Above.

If ones thoughts wander during prayers one should pause and recollect ones thoughts.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 18: 3-4.

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; with wishes for a Happy New Year,

- Danny Wednesday, 3 Elul 5768

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Halocho #161 - When can one eat blood?

Last week's Torah Reading included numerous warnings against eating blood.

Kosher meat and fowl is kashered with coarse salt in order to remove as much blood as possible.

Since liver is full of blood, salting it is ineffective. Liver needs to be roasted over an open flame to remove as much blood as possible.

Blood spots in eggs may not be eaten, and usually the entire egg is discarded if it has a blood spot.

If a fish has fins and scales then it is Kosher, and its blood may be eaten. However, if the blood has separated from the fish and cannot be distinguished from non-fish blood then it's forbidden.

If a bowl of fish-blood has fish-scales floating in it, then it's permitted.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 46:1,2

With wishes for a year of health, happiness and success

- Danny Tuesday, 2 Elul 5768

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

Monday, September 1, 2008

Halocho #160 - Regards from Elul

From the beginning of the month of Elul until after Yom Kippur, when writing to friends, one should add seasonal greetings. This can be done at the start or end of the letter. One should wish them - or bless them - with a good year; to be inscribed in the book of good life. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128: 2 Chodesh Tov and Ktiva Vechatima Tova - Danny Monday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh Elul 5768