Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Halocho #359 - Don't behave like Bilam

In this week's Torah Reading we will read all about Bilam the Wizard's failed attempts to curse the Jews.

It's a Torah prohibition to curse a fellow Jew.

E.g. Saying "Darn him!" is a sin.

Cursing a fellow Jew using any reference to Hashem - in any language - would result in 39 lashes by Bet Din.

E.g. Saying "The Almighty should punish Ploni" is a Torah prohibition for which one deserves 39 lashes by Bet Din.

Using G-d's "real" name in any language (e.g. Gcd, or Hashem as said during prayers) would add a second sin of saying His Name in vain.

Even invoking the loss of a blessing - "The Merciful One shouldn't let Ploni succeed" - is a Torah prohibition.

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 6:3

Be Blessed!

- Danny Tuesday, 8 Tamuz 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Monday, June 29, 2009

Halocho #358 - May one consult a wizard?

In this week's Torah Reading we will read all about Bilam the Wizard's failed attempts to curse the Jews.

The Torah commands us to kill all witches and wizards. (Shmot 22:17)

It's forbidden to consult with soothsayers, witches, wizards and their ilk.

To treat a life threatening situation that seems to be caused by the occult one may use a non-Jewish witch or wizard.

(Whether witches and wizards really exist, or if they are simply muggles adept at sleight of hand, is a matter of dispute amongst Rabbinical authorities.)

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 166:5

- Danny Monday, 7 Tamuz 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Halocho #357 - Where is your Ketubah?

A husband's obligations to his wife are documented in a contract called a Ketubah.

The Chattan gives a signed and witnessed Ketubah to his Kallah under the Chuppah.

The Ketubah must be in the wife's possession for as long as she remains married.

Anytime the Ketubah gets lost, the couple needs to immediately contact a Rabbi, since they are not allowed to live together without a valid Ketubah.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 145:11

- Danny Sunday, 6 Tamuz 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Yisrael Meir ben Ruth - ישראל מאיר בן רות

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Halocho #356 - Dissolving ice and fat on Shabbat

One may put congealed fat onto hot food on Shabbat even though it will dissolve. One may not crush snow or ice in order to help them melt faster. One may put ice into liquids in order to chill them, even though the ice will melt. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:13 Shabbat Shalom, - Danny, Thursday, 3 Tamuz 5769 Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Halocho #355 - When is gold like sand?

After slaughering a bird or a non-domestic animal (i.e. a "Chaya", for example a deer) one needs to cover its blood. This Mitzva of "Kisuy Hadam" does not apply to domestic animals ("Behemot") like cows, sheep and goats. It does apply to fowl. One needs to have sand on the floor before one slaughters. After slaughtering one puts other sand on top of the blood. Before covering the blood one makes a Bracha:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱ-לקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְווֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל כִּסּוּי הַדָּם
If one does not have sand or fine sawdust or something similar, one may use gold dust to cover the blood, since the Pasuk in Iyov (28:6) refers to gold as sand. Source: Rambam, Hilchot Shechita, Ch. 14 - Danny Wednesday, 2 Tamuz 5769
Please daven for a complete recovery for Naomi Malka bas Toiba Fradel

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Halocho #354 - May one work on Rosh Chodesh?

Rosh Chodesh is a "minor" YomTov - and after Shacharit one adds Hallel, Torah Reading and Mussaf.

All types of work are permitted on Rosh Chodesh.

Some women have a family custom to not do certain types of work on Rosh Chodesh.

This is a valid custom and they may not disregard it.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 97:3

Chodesh Tov,

- Danny Tuesday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Bracha Elisheva bat Kayla. She has cancer and it has spread.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Halocho #353 - What happens if one forgets Ya'aleh Veyavo?

During the Amida and Birkat Hamazon on Rosh Chodesh one should add Ya'aleh Veyavo.

If one forgot to add Ya'aleh Veyavo during the Amida at night one does not need to make amends. During the day one needs to go back to רצה.

If one forgot Ya'aleh Veyavo during Birkat Hamazon (during the day or night), and one remembers before starting the last Bracha, one can say:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר נָתַן רָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְזִכָּרוֹן

If one only realizes after starting the last Bracha, or one does not have the above Bracha handy, one does not need to make amends.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 19:10, 44:14

Chodesh Tov

- Danny Monday, 1st day Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Halocho #352- What is Yom Kippour Kattan?

The day before Rosh Chodesh is called Yom Kippour Kattan.

In certain communities, 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.

Tachanun is not recited this afternoon.

Tonight is Rosh Chodesh Tamuz; don't forget Ya'aleh Veyavo in the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.

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

Chodesh Tov

- Danny Sunday, 29 Sivan , Erev Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Shalom Eliezer HaKohen ben Chana

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Halocho #351- When is Rosh Chodesh Tamuz?

This Shabbat is "Shabbat Mevarchim". Rosh Chodesh Tamuz is on Monday and Tuesday. There's an ancient custom to bless the upcoming month on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh, before Mussaf. This is not to be confused with Sanctifying the Month that was done by the Av Bet Din when the new moon appeared. Nevertheless, the custom is to stand when the Chazzan announces which day(s) will be Rosh Chodesh, since the sanctification of the month was done while standing. Source: Mishna Brura 417:1 (1) Shabbat Shalom uMevorach, - Danny Thursday, 26 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Halocho #350 - Respecting Torah authority

In Parshat Korach (the Torah Reading this week in Israel, next week in the Diaspora) we learn about the bitter end of people who argue with Torah authorities.

A person has to respect and honor his Rav - his Torah teacher - more than his parents; his parents look after his needs in this world and his Rav is ensuring him a good place in Olam Habah (Heaven).

Degrading a Torah scholar is so severe that a person can loose his place in Olam Habah (Heaven) for it.

One needs to stand up when ones Rav enters the room.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 144:1, 4, 5

- Danny Wednesday, 25 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for: Refael Menashe Koppel ben Naomi. He is a baby in a coma suffering from Encephalitis.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Halocho #349 - Calf and mother; can one eat them together?

It's a Torah prohibition to slaughter a calf and its mother on the same day.

It does not matter which animal was slaughtered first.

Even if the calf and its mother belong to 2 different people, it's still prohibited.

Even though it's prohibited, the meat of both animals is Kosher.

It does not matter how old the calf is.

One may slaughter a calf and its grandmother on the same day. If later on the same day one slaughters the mother/daughter, one transgresses 2 Torah prohibitions.

It's a debate if this prohibition applies to a calf and its father - even if one is 100% sure of the pedigree of the calf.

As in most of Jewish law, the day starts at sunset and ends the following day at dark.

There is no prohibition eating meat from a calf and its mother on the same day.

Source: Rambam, Hilchot Shechita (12:2)

- Danny Tuesday, 24 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Chaya Uhdel Leah bat Shayna Yenta.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Halocho #348 - How is today related to Purim?

Today - Monday - more than 2,300 years ago, Esther and Mordechai dispatched the second royal decree informing the Jews that they may defend themselves against Haman's original decree of total annihilation.

When finding out joyous tidings or upon hearing good news from a reliable source, one says a Bracha.

If the good news only affects oneself, then one says Shehechiyanu; "... who has kept us alive, sustained us and permitted us to reach this occasion."

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם - שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה

If the good news affects a group of people then one says Hatov Vehametiv; "..Who is Good, and bestows good."

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם - הטוב והמטיב

If one cannot say the Bracha right away - due to an unclean location or unwashed hands - then one can say it later, as long as one still feel joy.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:1,3

- Danny Monday, 23 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Halocho #347 - Must dogs eat Kosher food?

It's a Torah prohibition to cook meat and milk together.

This prohibition is only for milk and meat originating from Kosher animals.

Non-Kosher meat from a Kosher animal is also included. (A Kosher animal has split hooves and chews its cud.)

It's also a Torah prohibition to derive any benefit from such meat and milk that was cooked together.

If the ingredients of pet food include meat and milk, one has to ascertain they were not cooked together or were not from Kosher animals. Otherwise one may not feed such food to ones pets.

One may feed ones dogs non-Kosher meat and other non-Kosher food.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 46:5

- Danny Sunday, 22 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Nathan ben Beila - נתן בן ביילא

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Halocho #346 - Can a husband separate Challa?

In Parshat Shlach (the Torah Reading this week in Israel, next week in the Diaspora) we learn about the Mitzva of separating Challa from dough made from any of the 5 types of grain: wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye.

Challa should be separated before the dough is baked; one may not eat the dough before separating Challa.

If Challa was not separated before the dough is baked, then the baked goods are forbidden to be eaten until Challa is separated from them.

The Mitzva of separating Challa rightfully belongs to the housewife.

However, if waiting for the housewife would cause the dough to spoil, then anybody above Bar/Bat Mitzva may separate Challa.

The piece of Challa that was separated should be burnt.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 35

Since nowadays we don't have fires readily available, my Rabbi suggested we freeze the Challa (in a well marked container that nobody should eat from it) and whenever there's a bonfire (Lag B'Omer and Erev Pessach) we should burn the accumulated Challa.

Shabbat Shalom,

- Danny Thursday, 19 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Halocho #345 - Are my Tzitzit Kosher?

On each of the 4 corners of a Tallit there are 4 strings threaded through the hole.

The resulting 8 strings are knotted and twisted one-third of their length, and two-thirds is left as tassels.

If one of the 8 tassels gets cut off - even completely - the Tzitzit are still Kosher.

If two of the 8 tassels get cut off the Tzitzit may no longer be Kosher.

A tassel shorter than 4 "thumbs" - about 8-10 cm is considered "cut off".

Each tassel of the Tzitzit is made of multiple strands of wool twisted together. If Tzitzit start untwisting then the frayed section doesn't count as part of the minimal length.

If the Tzitzit get ripped out of the hole they are hanging on, they cannot be put back in; they have to be untied and then re-tied after the hole is repaired.

If a Tallit rips into 2 pieces - or a corner gets ripped off - then the Tzitzit on the smaller piece have to be re-tied after the pieces are sewn back together.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 9:13, 15.

- Danny Wednesday, 18 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Yaakov-Nisan ben Rochel-Leah - יעקב ניסן בן רחל לאה

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Halocho #344 - Do bed sheets need Tzitzit?

Parshat Shlach ends with the third paragraph of Shma which talks about the Mitzva of Tzitzit.

Wearing Tzitzit is supposed to remind one of all 613 Mitzvoth - as it says "...make Tzitzit, and see them and thereby remember all the Mitzvoth of Hashem and do them".

Once a boy is toilet-trained he should wear a Tallit Katan - a 4-cornered garment with Tzitzit from the time he wakes up until he goes to sleep. This is besides the Tallit worn in shul.

Women are exempt from the Mitzva of Tzitzit, as it's a time-bound Mitzva; it only applies during the day.

When putting on Tzitzit in the morning, the Bracha cannot be made until it is light enough outside to recognize a casual acquaintance from 4 Amos (2 meters) away. This is about an hour before sunrise in Israel.

Men must put Tzitzit on all 4-cornered garments they wear, including ponchos. Bed sheets do not need Tzitzit.

Tzitzit may be worn even when going into a bathroom, however the Tallit used for Davening should not be taken into the bathroom.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 9:9-10

- Danny Tuesday, 17 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Miryam bat Esther and her baby boy - a preemie - Tinok ben Miryam

Monday, June 8, 2009

Halocho #343 - Why was Miriam (Moshe's sister) punished?

In the end of Parshat Beha'alotcha we learn how Miriam-the-prophetess was punished for discussing her brother Moshe's life with her other brother; Aaron. Miriam was punished with Tzara'at (something similar to leprosy), and she had to remain outside the Israelite camp for a week until she was cured. The next Parsha - Shelach - starts with the sin of the spies who spoke evil about the Holy Land. The Torah prohibits us from talebearing; telling one person what another person did, or what they said, or where they went. Talebearing is forbidden even if the all the information is 100% true; the entire truth and nothing but the truth. Talebearing is forbidden even if nothing derogatory is said. An extreme example of the destructive power of talebearing is found in Shmuel-1 (Ch. 21 and 22). Do'eg told King Saul that Achimelech had given [future King] David supplies and a sword. Even though it was the truth - later Achimelech himself told King Saul about it - nevertheless King Saul ordered the city of Nov to be destroyed along with eighty five Cohanim and their families. One can never know the consequences of passing along seemingly innocent information. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 30:1 - Danny Monday, 16 Sivan 5769
Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Halocho #342 - Can one make a 7 branched candelabra?

In Parshat Beha'alotcha we read about Aharon-the-Cohen-Gadol being commanded to light the Menora daily.

One may not have a Menorah identical to the one in the Bet Hamikdash:

- A seven branched Menora is forbidden even if it's not made of gold, and even if it doesn’t have the "flower & cup" designs nor the height of the Menorah described in Parshat Terumah. Reason: These details did not disqualify the Menorah in the Mikdash.

- One may have a 5, 6 or 8 branched Menora.

- A circular candelabrum with 6 arms and a 7th in the middle is questionable. Since this is a Torah prohibition one should be strict and forbid it.

(Note: In Israel the big silver manufactures do not manufacture 7 armed candelabras in any configuration.)

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 168:5-6

- Danny Sunday, 15 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Halocho #341 - Fresh fruit juice on Shabbat

It's forbidden to squeeze fruit on Shabbat, in order to use the juice.

Therefore one may not squeeze lemons into water to make lemonade.

One may not squeeze out grapes to make grape juice.

There are opinions that even sucking out the juice from the fruit is forbidden.

If one has no use for the juice, then there is no prohibition squeezing it out. Therefore one may squeeze out cucumbers - and pickles - if the juice will be thrown out.

One may squeeze out the juice from fruit into solids. For example, one could squeeze out lemons into a salad.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:12, Shulchan Aruch 120:4

Shabbat Shalom,

- Danny Thursday, 12 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Halocho #340 - Are the laws of Sotah applicable nowadays?

In Parshat Naso we learn about the Sotah; a wife who has been warned by her husband not to seclude herself with a man she seems [too] friendly with.

If she disobeys - and secludes herself with him - she is forbidden to live with her husband until she is taken to the Bet Hamikdash and giving the Sotah-water to drink to prove her innocence.

It's a Mitzva for a husband to ensure that his wife follows Halacha - especially in matters of modest behavior. However, he has to be careful never to say to her "do not seclude yourself with Mr. so-and-so".

Even warning her privately is a problem, since if she disobeys she may be a Sotah; and nowadays there's no way to give her Sotah-water to drink.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 145:25

- Danny Wednesday, 11 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Halocho #339 - Birkat Cohanim; the priestly blessing - who gets to wash the Cohen?

Parshat Naso includes the Mitzva of the priestly blessing; it's a Mitzva for the Cohanim to bless the Jews with the Bracha as written in the Torah:

יְבָרֶכְךָ ה', וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ יָאֵר ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ יִשָּׂא ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

Before giving the blessing, the Cohanim remove their shoes.

Then they wash their hands - up to their wrists - from a cup, but do not say a Bracha on the washing.

It's the Levi's privilege to pour the water over the hands of the Cohanim.

If no Levi is present, a firstborn (from his mother; one who qualifies for Pidyon Haben) may wash the Cohanim's hands.

If no Levi and no firstborn is present, the Cohanim wash their own hands.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 100:1, 5-6 - Danny Tuesday, 10 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Yosef Zalman ben Tamar Yael - יוסף זלמן בן תמר יעל who has meningitis.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Halocho #338 - The missing Parsha

In the Diaspora, Shavouth was on Friday and Shabbat. This coming week will be Parshat Naso - נשא. In Israel, Shavouth was on Friday; on Shabbat we already read Parshat Naso. This coming week we will read Parshat Beha'alotcha - בהעלותך. This divergence continues for the next 5 weeks, at which time in Israel we will read Parshat Balak - בלק, while in the Diaspora they will read the double Parsha of Chukath-Balak - חוקת-בלק. From then on we will be reading the same Parsha again for almost 3 years, until after Pessach 2012 - ה'תשע"ב when we will diverge again for 6 weeks. (Pessach will end on Friday on Israel, and on Shabbat in the Diaspora.) - Danny Monday, 9 Sivan 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery for Tamar bat Naama - תמר בת נעמה