Monday, May 31, 2010

Halocho #579 - Be nice to me; I lent you money

In most cases, a person who received interest from a loan needs to return it.

Even if the borrower - on his own accord - returns more than he borrowed or adds a gift, it is considered interest on the loan and the lender is not allowed to accept it.

Even non-monetary gain from a debtor is forbidden. For example:

- The creditor may not ask the debtor to inform him when somebody has arrived, unless he used to do this before giving him the loan.

- The debtor may not go out of his way to greet the creditor, unless he always used to do so.

- The debtor may not patronize the creditor's business, unless he used to do so before getting the loan.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 65: 5, 9, 10

- Danny
Monday, 18 Sivan 5770

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Halocho #578 - Talebearing is forbidden

Yesterday's Torah reading ended with Miriam's punishment for discussing her brother Moshe's life with their brother Aaron.

This week's Torah reading 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
Sunday, 17 Sivan 5770

 Please daven for a complete recovery for 
 Chagai Yitzchak ben Pnina - חגי יצחק בן פנינה

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Halocho #577 - Pages that are glued together

Sometimes pages of a book accidentally become stuck together at the edges with paint or glue during the bookbinding process, or as a result of something sticky falling onto the pages when using the book.

On Shabbat one may separate pages that are stuck together at the edges.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:50

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 14 Sivan 5770

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Halocho #576 - 0% interest on loans

The Torah prohibits charging interest and paying interest to fellow Jews.
The Torah allows charging interest and paying interest to non-Jews.

A person who lends money to a Jew and charges interest, has transgressed six Torah commandments and - if he doesn't repent - will not awaken at Techiyat Hameitim - when the dead will be revived at the End of Days.

The person who borrows the money transgresses three Torah commandments.

The scribe, witnesses, co-signer and middle-man all transgress one Torah commandment.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 65:1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10

- Danny
Wednesday, 13 Sivan 5770

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Halocho #575 - Can one walk under a ladder?

The Torah forbids one to act based on superstitions. (Vayikra 19:26)

Saying "Because the bread fell out of my mouth / my walking stick fell / a deer crossed my path, therefore I will/won't do something" is forbidden.

Similarly, when being asked for a loan at the beginning of a week / month one is forbidden to answer "please don't make me start the week / month by lending money".

Refusing to walk under a ladder for fear of injury is a Mitzva; looking after your wellbeing.

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 166:1, 33:13

- Danny
Tuesday, 12 Sivan 5770

Please daven for a complete recovery for
Chagai Yitzchak ben Pnina - חגי יצחק בן פנינה

Monday, May 24, 2010

Halocho #574 - Can a donkey be holy?

The Torah says that a firstborn male donkey has Kedusha (some holiness) and may not be used until it is redeemed; by giving a Cohen a sheep or goat in its stead.

The result is a donkey for the owner and a sheep (or goat) for the Cohen, both without any Kedusha.

The sheep or goat can be male or female, of any age and any physical condition as long as it's alive.

If one does not want to redeem the firstborn donkey, the Torah instructs one to chop off its head and bury it. It is preferable to redeem it rather than killing it.

A firstborn male donkey belonging to a Cohen or Levite does not need to be redeemed. (As opposed to a firstborn Kosher animal that has Kedusha even if belonging to a Cohen or Levite.)

One should not sell (part of) first-time pregnant donkeys to a non-Jew, as one would be exempting oneself from the Mitzva of redeeming it.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 178

- Danny
Monday, 11 Sivan 5770

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Halocho #573 - What's special about a firstborn Kosher animal?

If a Jew's Kosher animal that has never given birth gives birth to a male, the calf has Kedusha (some holiness) and needs to be given to a Cohen, even nowadays.

This first-born animal may not be used for any work, and its wool may not be sheared, nor used if it fell off.

In the time of the Bet Hamikdash (Temple) the animal is brought as a sacrifice, with most of the meat being eaten by the Cohen.

Nowadays the Cohen needs to keep it until it gets a permanent blemish, at which time anybody can help eat it. The Cohen may not blemish it.

It's a Mitzva to sell part of all first-time pregnant Kosher animals to a non-Jew so that the calf - if it's a male - will not have any Kedusha; avoiding the possibility of it not being treated properly.

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 177

- Danny
Sunday, 10 Sivan 5770

Please daven for a complete recovery for
 Chagai Yitzchak ben Pnina - חגי יצחק בן פנינה

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Halocho #572 - Isru Chag; the day after Yom Tov

The day after Yom Tov is called Isru Chag.

Isru Chag is today - Thursday - in Israel, and on Friday everywhere else.

One may not fast on Isru Chag and no Tachanun is said on Isru Chag.

Some do not say Tachanun for the entire week after Shavu'ot since the Korbanot you had to bring when coming to the Bet Hamikdash on Yom Tov could be brought for the entire week after Shavu'ot.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:8, 103:14

- Danny, Jerusalem, Israel
Thursday, Isru Chag Shavu'oth 5770

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Halocho #571 - Eating on Erev Yom Tov

Today - Tuesday - is Erev Shavuot.

In honor of Yom Tov one should bathe in warm water and cut ones hair and nails on Erev Yom Tov.

In order not to spoil one's appetite for the Yom Tov meal, one should not eat a meal during the second half of the afternoon, on Erev Yom Tov.

Outside of Israel this also applies to the first day of Yom Tov; so as not to spoil one's appetite for the evening meal of the 2nd day of Yom Tov one should not eat a meal during the second half of the afternoon on Wednesday.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:2

Chag Shavuoth Same'ach

- Danny
Tuesday, Erev Shavuoth, - 5 Sivan 5770 - 49th day of the Omer

Please daven for a complete recovery for Chagai Yitzchak ben Pnina - חגי יצחק בן פנינה

Monday, May 17, 2010

Halocho #570 - Ruth and Shavu'ot

This year - 5770 - Shavu'ot will start on Tuesday evening at sundown and end on Wednesday evening after dark.

Outside of Israel, Shavu'ot will end on Thursday evening after dark.

It is customary to read Megilat Ruth on Shavu'ot morning, between Hallel and the Torah Reading.

In Israel, Megilat Ruth will be read on Wednesday and in the Diaspora most places will read Megilat Ruth on Thursday.

Outside of Israel one has to remember to leave a flame burning (like a Yahrzeit candle or gas range) from before Yom Tov (Tuesday afternoon) so that one can light the 2nd day's Yom Tov candles.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 75, Orach Chaim 490:9

On Shavu'ot we celebrate the giving of the Torah. Help spread Torah learning by inviting your Jewish friends to our Halocho a Day group at

- Danny
Monday, 4 Sivan 5770 - 48th day of the Omer

Please daven for a complete recovery for Chagai Yitzchak ben Pnina - חגי יצחק בן פנינה

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Halocho #569 - What is a Chagiga?

In the time of the Bet Hamikdash (may it be rebuilt speedily in our days) all men above Bar Mitzva have a Mitzva to appear in the Bet Hamikdash thrice yearly; during the Yom Tov of Pessach, Shavuoth and Sukkoth.

This Mitzva includes offering 2 sacrifices; a Korban Re'iya ("appearance sacrifice") which was completely burnt, and a Korban Chagiga ("festive sacrifice") which was eaten.

These sacrifices cannot be offered on Shabbat.

Preferably this Mitzva should be fulfilled on the first day of each Yom Tov. If the first day of Yom Tov is Shabbat, or if the person has other reasons to delay, then the Mitzva can be done during the remaining days of Sukkoth and Pessach.

Even though Shavuoth is only one day long (in Israel) this Mitzva can be fulfilled during the 6 days following Shavuoth. This is the reason why some congregations do not say Tachanun during the entire week following Shavuoth.

Source: The Book of our Heritage, Vol III, Page 50

- Danny
Sunday, 3 Sivan 5770 - 47th day of the Omer

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Halocho #568 - Eating milk, honey and meat on Shavu'ot

The Minhag is to eat food made from milk products on the first day of Shavu'ot, for various reasons.

One should also eat foods made with honey since the Torah is compared to honey.

One should also eat meat, since - like every Yom Tov - there's a Mitzva to eat to meat on a Chag.

One needs to plan the meals carefully since one may not eat milk after meat, and one may not eat both together at the same meal.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:7

Tonight and tomorrow - Friday - is Rosh Chodesh Sivan

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 29 Iyar 5770 - 44th day of the Omer

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Halocho #567- The Kotel is in our hands

The Kotel ("Wailing wall") is the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount where the Bet Hamikdash (Temple) stood until it was destroyed over 1,900 years ago.

The Kotel "plaza" is outside the Temple Mount. Every prayer of ours - Amida and Birkat Hamazon - includes a supplication to once again be able to serve Hashem on the other side of the Kotel; from inside the rebuilt Bet Hamikdash.

When seeing the place where the Bet Hamikdash stood, one needs to do Kri'a; tear ones clothes in the same way that mourners do.

One only needs to tear Kri'a if one hasn't been in Jerusalem for 30 days or longer.

Source Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 561

The prevalent Yerushalmi custom is not to tear Kri'a on days one doesn't say Tachanun, including Friday afternoons.

- Danny
Wednesday, 28 Iyar 5770 - Yom Yerushalayim - 43rd day of the Omer

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Halocho #566 - Special days coming up: Yom Hameyuchas

On the 2nd day of Sivan in they year 2449 - a few days before Matan Torah - Hashem informed us that we're a chosen nation:

וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה מִכָּל-הָעַמִּים, כִּי-לִי כָּל-הָאָרֶץ
(Shmos 19:5)

As a result, 2 Sivan is often referred to as the Pedigree-Day; Yom-Hameyuchas.

No Tachanun is said during the first part of Sivan; until Isru-Chag Shavu'ot (or a week later - depending on local custom).

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:8, 198:14

Rosh Chodesh Sivan will be on Friday, Shabbat will be Yom Hameyuchas

- Danny
Tuesday, 27 Iyar 5770 - 42nd day of the Omer

Monday, May 10, 2010

Halocho #565 - Using wool and linen

One cannot cover oneself with Sha'atnez (wool & linen).

One may not sit on Sha'atnez.

If a wagon or convertible has a Sha'atnez cover then one has to be careful not to lean on the cover.

Hand towels, beach towels, tablecloths, pillows, blankets, slippers, mattresses and curtains all have to be Sha'atnez free.

However, the Parochet covering the Aaron HaKodesh can have Sha'atnez, as nobody would warm themselves with it.

One may create, own and sell Sha'atnez.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 176: 4-8

- Danny
Monday, 26 Iyar 5770 - 41st day of the Omer

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Halocho #564 - Wearing wool and linen

The Torah prohibits wearing clothes made of both wool and linen - this is know as Sha'atnez.

Even a single woolen thread in a linen garment is Sha'atnez, and a single linen thread in a woolen garment is Sha'atnez.

Threads made of a mixture of linen and wool may not be used.

Woolen garments with linen patches are also forbidden.

However, clothes made of leather - even if the wool is still attached - can be sewn with linen.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 176:1-2

Rosh Chodesh Sivan will be on Friday.

- Danny
Sunday, 25 Iyar 5770 - 40th day of the Omer

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Halocho #563 - Tightening stitches on Shabbat

Sometimes the thread on a seam becomes loose - and if one pulls the thread, one can tighten the seam.

Tightening a seam in this way is forbidden on Shabbat - as it's considered "sewing" - one of the 39 forbidden categories of work on Shabbat.

This week is Shabbat Mevorchim of Sivan - Rosh Chodesh will be next week on Erev Shabbat.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:49

Shabbat Shalom uMevorach

- Danny
Thursday, 22 Iyar 5770 - 37th day of the Omer

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Halocho #562 - May one ride a mule?

The Torah forbids mating animals or birds of different species - this is part of Kil'ay Beheima which we started learning about yesterday.

However, there is no obligation to prevent them from mating naturally.

A mule is the hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. A hinny is the hybrid offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. The way to tell them apart is by their ears, tails and bray. (Yes. All this is from the Kitzur.)

One may not use a mule and a hinny together as they are considered as 2 distinct species.

If their ears, tails and bray are similar then one can assume they are both the same animal.

There is an opinion that one may not use a mule at all - not even for riding on - as one would be using 2 species simultaneously.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 175:1, 6

- Danny
Wednesday, 21 Iyar 5770 - 36th day of the Omer

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Halocho #561 - Laws of the horse and buggy

The Torah prohibits using different species of animals at the same time. This is called Kil'ay Beheima.

One may not pull a wagon using 2 different types of animals, e.g. a donkey and a horse.

One may not ride in a wagon being pulled by 2 different types of animals.

One may not even tie 2 different types of animals together to prevent them from escaping; this applies to birds as well.

However, one may use a female and male of the same species as well as small and large animals of the same species. E.g. one could pull a wagon with a cow, a bull and a calf.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 175:2, 3, 5

- Danny
Tuesday, 20 Iyar 5770 - 35th day of the Omer

Monday, May 3, 2010

Halocho #560 - May one eat the fruit from grafted trees?

It's a Torah prohibition to graft trees with branches from a different type of tree or plant.

One may not own a grafted tree; it needs to be uprooted.

However, one may graft a tree with a branch of the same type of tree.

One may take a branch from a grafted tree and plant it.

One may eat the fruit from grafted trees.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 174:1-2

- Danny
Monday, 19 Iyar 5770 - 34th day of the Omer

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Halocho #559 - Beards and shaving

The beard-area begins at the bottom of the ear where the Payot-area ends - towards the bottom of the ear - and includes the entire face.

Men may not shave their beards with a razor.

Even when using hair-removal cream on the beard-area, men cannot use a blade or a knife; they should use a rounded spatula or other instrument that cannot cut.

Women may not shave a man's beard or Payot for him either.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 170:2

- Danny
Sunday, 18 Iyar 5770, 33rd day of the Omer - Lag B'Omer