Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Halocho #422 - What to bring into the 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 Mitzvah of Sukka is one of the few where the Torah explicitly gives us a reason to accompany the Mitzvah: 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 these "reasons" in mind when fulfilling the Mitzvah 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

- Danny
Wednesday, 12 Tishrei 5770

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Halocho #421 - How to make a Kosher Sukka

The days between Yom Kippour and Sukkoth are joyous days, since Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) inaugurated the first Bet Hamikdash (Holy Temple) during this period.

One does not fast even for a Yahrzeit, nor does one say Tachanun on these days.

A Sukkah needs at least 3 walls that do not move in the wind.

The roof of the Sukkah is made of branches or bamboo that have not been used for any other purpose.

The covering must be thick enough to ensure that even on the last day of Sukkoth at midday there is more shade than sunshine.

The covering must not be so thick that rain cannot get through.

In rainy climates, one should make a Sukkah that can be covered, so that it can be used once it stops raining.

One must be careful to open the roof before using the Sukkah. On the fist night of Sukkoth the roof should be opened from candle-lighting until nightfall, if possible.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 133:30, 31, 134:1

- Danny Tuesday, 11 Tishrei 5770

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Halocho #420 - It's a Mitzvah to eat! Why?

Today - Sunday - is Erev Yom Kippour. It's a Mitzvah to eat more than usual on on the day before Yom Kippour in order to have an easy fast the next day. Those people who find it easier to fast if they don't eat too much beforehand, do not need to eat more than usual. On Erev Yom Kippour one does not say Mizmor Lesoda in Shacharit. The reason being that Mizmor Lesoda parallels the Korban Toda (thanksgiving sacrifice) which was eaten for 2 consecutive days. Since a sacrifice brought on Erev Yom Kippour couldn't be eaten for 2 consecutive days, therefore one couldn't bring a Korban Toda on Erev Yom Kippour. On Erev Yom Kippour one also omits Tachanun, Lamenatze'ach and Avinu Malkeinu. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131:2,3 Wishing everybody an easy and meaningful fast, - Danny Sunday, Erev Yom Kippour 5770

Please daven for Simcha bat Shamsi who had heart surgery

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Halocho #419 - When is Kiddush Levana recited this month?

Kiddush Levana (the monthly blessing on the waxing moon) should be said when one is happy, and the 10 days of repentance are solemn days of introspection.

Some people delay saying Kiddush Levana until Motzai Yom Kippour.

On Motzai Yom Kippour Kiddush Levana can be said while still fasting since one is happy with the knowledge the Hashem has forgiven ones sins. This is unlike Motzai 9 B'Av when one has to first eat and put on shoes so as to end the mourning, before saying Kiddush Levana.

Others prefer to say Kiddush Levana before Yom Kippour, since every Mitzvah counts towards tipping the scales in our favor to be granted a good year.

Similarly, some people buy their 4 Minim (Lulav, etc) before Yom Kippour.

This week's Shabbat is known as "Shabbat Shuva" in honor of its Haftara which starts with the words "Shuva Yisrael"; Repent O Israel!

The Minhag is for the Rabbi or some other dignitary to be given the Haftara of Shuva.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 130:5, 6

Shabbat Shalom and G'mar Chatima Tova

- Danny Thursday, 6 Tishrei 5770

Please daven for Shifra Bracha bas Mindel Fraid

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Halocho #418 - The Yom Kippour Mitzva

Any work that may not be done on Shabbat may not be done on Yom Kippour. In addition there is a Mitzva in the Torah unique to Yom Kippour: afflicting oneself. To fulfill this Mitzva properly one should keep in mind that the Yom Kippour restrictions are a fulfillment of this 25-hour long Mitzva. This Mitzva includes the following prohibitions: - On Yom Kippour one may not eat nor drink. If fasting will affect your health, contact a doctor and a Rabbi for instructions. - On Yom Kippour one may not bathe; one may not even get wet unnecessarily. Upon awakening and after relieving oneself one can wash until the knuckles. Before Birkat Cohanim, the Cohanim wash until their wrists. - On Yom Kippour no anointing is allowed. This includes perfumes and deodorants. - On Yom Kippour one may not wear leather shoes. See Halocho #133 for details. ( - On Yom Kippour one may not have marital relations. All the above are forbidden from candle-lighting on Erev Yom Kippour until after Havdala some 25 hours later. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 133:1 Gmar Vechatima Tova - Danny Wednesday, 5 Tishrei 5770

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Halocho #417 - First pay then Apologize

Yom Kippour does not atone for misdeeds done against ones fellow-Jew unless one first asks them for forgiveness. One should be careful to repay all overdue loans before Yom Kippour; after which one can beg for forgiveness for the delay. If one is being asked for forgiveness one should not be stubborn nor vengeful; rather one should be forgiving, the same way one hopes that Hashem will be forgiving of our sins. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131:4 Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year full of good tidings - Danny Tuesday, 4 Tishrei 5770

Monday, September 21, 2009

Halocho #416 - Today (Monday) is a fast day; Zom Gedalya

On the 3rd of Tishrei Gedalya ben Achikam was killed. After the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash, Nebuchadnezzar appointed him Governor over the remnants of the Jews in Land of Israel . Once Gedalya was killed then they too were exiled or murdered and the land became desolate. (Some say that Gedalya ben Achikam was killed on Rosh Hashanah and the fast was deferred till after Yom Tov.) This tragic event is the reason that today is a fast day. The fast begins Monday at dawn and ends at nightfall (a few minutes before the time for Motzai Shabbat). Pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt from fasting. Anybody who isn't healthy shouldn't fast. When in doubt, consult your LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi). Children are not allowed to fast. Those who are not fasting should limit their food intake to the bare minimum; only bread and water if possible. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:2, 9 Have a meaningful fast, - Danny Monday, 3 Tishrei 5770

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Halocho #415 - Warning! The King is arriving!

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 "Gcd" 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, 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 - Danny Thursday, 28 Elul 5769

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Halocho #414 - The symbolic 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. - Danny Wednesday, 27 Elul 5769
Please daven for Dana bat Shulamit who is undergoing radiation therapy

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Halocho #413 - - What should I have think about 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 Mitzvah 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 Mitzvah 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 Tuesday, 26 Elul 5769

Please daven for a month old baby diagnosed with congenital CMV - Evan Yair ben Rut Bayla

Monday, September 14, 2009

Halocho #412 - Shofar vs. Shabbat

The Torah commanded us to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana - even if it's Shabbat!

However, the Rabbis decreed that one not blow the Shofar on Shabbat out of fear that somebody may transgress the Shabbat by carrying the Shofar outside, in a city that does not have an Eruv.

Therefore this year we will only hear the Shofar on the second day of Rosh Hashana - next Sunday.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:23

Ktiva Vechatima Tova

- Danny Monday, 25 Elul 5769

Please daven for Nechama Malya bas Chana Machla; her doctors have given up and only our Tefilot can help.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Halocho #411 - Tashlich when Rosh Hashanah is on Shabbat

This year, because of Shabbat, Tashlich is said on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana.

After Mincha (afternoon prayers) on the second 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. (Feeding the fish is forbidden according to many Halachic authorities.)

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 Sunday, 24 Elul 5769

Please daven for Menashe ben Shlomit

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Halocho #410 - When do we start saying Selichot?

This year Selichot start on Sunday (24 Elul, 13 September), a week 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 Thursday, 21 Elul 5769

Please daven for little Leiba Shmuel ben Sara who is undergoing an operation today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Halocho #409 - Glad to be around? Say 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, 20 Elul 5769

Please daven for Daniel Menashe ben Mas'uda who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Halocho #408 - Chol Hamo'ed; Chol or Mo'ed?

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

Chazal (our Rabbis of blessed memory) have some harsh words for those who don't honour Chol Hamo'ed properly. Honouring Chol Hamo'ed includes eating meals and wearing clothes that are closer to Yom Tov standards than regular weekday standards.

On Chol Hamo'ed one may do all work needed to prevent a monetary loss.

Preparing food for Chol Hamo'ed or the last days of Yom Tov is allowed.

Gardening is forbidden besides for picking fruit for Chol Hamo'ed or Yom Tov, and to prevent plants dying, e.g. if they need to be irrigated. Planting is forbidden.

Cutting hair is forbidden on Chol Hamo'ed. Cutting nails is only allowed if one also cut them before Yom Tov.

Writing down information so that it won't be forgotten is allowed. Writing letters to friends and family is allowed. The custom is to write the first line at an angle as a reminder that writing is only partially permitted.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 104.

Ktiva Vechatima Tova

- Danny Tuesday 19 Elul 5769

Monday, September 7, 2009

Halocho #407 - If it rains, does one sleep in the Sukkah?

Since the Mitzvah 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 Mitzvah 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 Mitzvah of Sukkah, as it's a time-bound Mitzvah.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 135:8, 9, 10

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

- Danny Monday, 18 Elul 5769

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Halocho #406 - Yom Tov on Sunday

This year Rosh Hashana, Sukkoth and Shmini Atzret all start on Shabbat. The second day of Rosh Hashana will be on a Sunday. Outside Israel the second day of Sukkoth and Simchat Torah will also be on a Sunday. One may not prepare anything on Shabbat for Yom Tov - including setting the table and lighting candles. After the time for Motzai Shabbat - when the stars are visible - one can say המבדיל בין קודש לקודש and start dealing with the second day of Yom Tov. One should eat the 3rd Shabbat meal early in the afternoon so as not to spoil ones appetite for the Yom Tov meal. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 96:3, 103:2 Ktiva Vechatima Tova - Danny Sunday, 17 Elul 5769

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Halocho #405 - Should children be given Yom Tov treats?

There's a Mitzvah 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 Mitzvah 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 Thursday, 14 Elul 5769

Please daven for a complete recovery of Rafael Moshe Yisrael ben Shulamith Adina

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Halocho #404 - Must the Aravot come from a riverside?

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzvah 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, 13 Elul 5769

Please daven for Rachamim ben Charlotte Jacqueline

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Halocho #403 - Does the Haddas have berries?

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzvah 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 on the stem 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, 12 Elul 5769