The period between the fast of 17 Tammuz and the fast of 9 B'Av 3 weeks later is known as Bein Hametzarim, or "The 3 Weeks".
Since the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash (Temple) started on 17 Tammuz with the breaching of the walls, and ended 3 weeks later when it was set alight, this period of 3 weeks has been set aside as a time of mourning.
If one plays a musical instrument for a living, one may continue to do so for non-Jews until Rosh Chodesh Av.
Some have the custom of refraining from meat and wine during the entire 3 weeks, except on Shabbat and Mitzva-meals (like at a Brit Mila).
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:1
Wednesday, 18 Tamuz 5770
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The period between the fast of 17 Tammuz and the fast of 9 B'Av 3 weeks later is known as Bein Hametzarim, or "The 3 Weeks".
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Today - Tuesday - is the fast of 17 Tamuz which commemorates 5 major misfortunes which happened to the Jewish people on this date:
- Moshe Rabbeinu broke the luchot - the tablets - upon seeing the Golden Calf being worshiped
- The daily Tamid sacrifice was suspended in the first Bet Hamikdash as a result of the siege
- At the time of the 2nd Bet Hamikdash the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the enemy, three weeks before the destruction
- Apustumus the wicked [Roman] burned a Sefer Torah
- An idol was placed in the Bet Hamikdash
Tuesday, 17 Tamuz 5770
Monday, June 28, 2010
Nearly everybody above Bar/Bat Mitzva needs to fast tomorrow - Tuesday. The fast starts at dawn and ends at nightfall.
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 121:9
Jerusalem, Monday, 16 Tamuz 5770
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The woes of the Churban - the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash - began on 17th Tamuz and ended with the Bet Hamikdash being set alight on the afternoon of 9 B'Av.
The fire burnt until sunset the following day.
This period of 23 days - which start on Tuesday - is know as "the 3 weeks" or Bein Hametzarim - בין המצרים.
As we then approach the 9th of Av - 3 weeks later - the laws of mourning intensify, as we will learn in the coming days.
The mourning continues until the day after the fast of 9 B'Av; i.e. 10 Av - July 21.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:1, 124:20
Sunday, 15 Tamuz 5770
Thursday, June 24, 2010
It's customary not to have a haircut during the 3 weeks from 17 Tammuz until after 9 Av. This includes haircuts and shaving. Since the "3 weeks" begin on Tuesday, Sunday is the last chance to have a haircut.
It's a Mitzva to have a haircut on Friday in honor of Shabbat, if one needs one.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72,:14, 122:3
Thursday, 12 Tamuz 5770
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It's customary not to say the Bracha of שהחיינו - Shehechiyanu during the 3 weeks from 17 Tammuz until after 9 Av.
Therefore one should not buy nor wear new clothes during that period.
Since the "3 weeks" begin on Tuesday, one should finish one's shopping and wear all new clothes [at least for a short time] before then.
When eating a fruit for the first time in a season one says the Bracha of שהחיינו - Shehechiyanu. If possible, one should not wait for the "3 weeks" to eat those fruit for the first time.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:2
Wednesday, 11 Tamuz 5770
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
In the year 3,339, on 9th Tamuz, the city walls of Jerusalem were breached by the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar's army. Four weeks later - on 9th Av - the first Bet Hamikdash was destroyed.
For 70 years - until the second Bet Hamikdash was built - the 9th Tamuz was a fast-day.
At the time of the destruction of the second Bet Hamikdash the walls were breached a week later - on 17 Tamuz.
The Rabbis decided not to burden the Yidden with having to fast 2 weeks in a row.
Since the destruction of the second Bet Hamikdash is more relevant to us, the original fast-day was dropped.
The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta'anit 4:5) is of the opinion that the walls were breached both times on 17 Tamuz, but due to the turmoil at the time of the first destruction, the date was wrongly recorded as 9 Tamuz.
Source: Tur Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 549
Tuesday, 10 Tamuz 5770
Monday, June 21, 2010
When seeing the ocean one says the Bracha of "Baruch... Oseh Ma'aseh Breishith" - "... Who makes the work of creation".
When seeing mountains that are famous for their height one says the same Bracha.
These Brachot can only be said if one hasn't seen the ocean or that specific mountain for 30 days; excluding the day one last saw it and excluding the day of the current sighting.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:5, 12
Monday, 9 Tamuz 5770
Sunday, June 20, 2010
When seeing comets or falling stars one says the Bracha of "Oseh Ma'aseh Breishith" - "Who makes the work of creation".
The Bracha on falling stars can only be said once per night even if one sees different meteors every time.
One can only say the Bracha once per comet, unless 30 days have passed since one last saw it.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:2
Sunday, 8 Tamuz 5770
Thursday, June 17, 2010
It is forbidden to draw blood on Shabbat even from one's own body.
One may not squeeze pimples or open up wounds or on Shabbat, as that would cause puss and/or blood come out.
One may remove scabs on Shabbat, if one is sure that no bleeding will occur.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:54, 91:14
Thursday, 5 Tamuz 5770
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
When seeing a rainbow one says the Bracha "Baruch... Zocher Habrit Ven'eman Bivrito Vekayam Bema'amaro" - "...Who remembers the covenant, is trustworthy in His covenant and fulfills His word".
This Bracha is said only once per rainbow.
One should not stare at a rainbow for extended periods of time.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:4
The reason for not staring at the rainbow is explained in Chagiga (16:1). The prophet Yechezkel compares the appearance of the Glory of Hashem to a rainbow:
"As the appearance of the rainbow in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Hashem."(Ezekiel 1:28)
Staring at a rainbow is compared to staring at the Glory of Hashem, an impolite thing to do.
The Gemara states that as a punishment for staring at the rainbow, ones eyesight could suffer.
Wednesday, 4 Tamuz 5770
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
A person should strive to learn the entire Torah.
A partial list would include Tanach (Bible), Mishna, Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi, Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch, and Midrash.
Somebody who cannot sit and learn Torah all day should learn practical Halachot as well as Midrashim and Mussar (ethics). This way one knows what to do (Halacha), will have the drive to do so (Midrash) and acquire the ability to overcome obstacles when trying to do (Mussar).
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 27:3
Get other people to learn Torah as well; invite them to join this group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/edit.php?members&gid=2387884087
Tuesday, 3 Tamuz 5770
Monday, June 14, 2010
After Shacharit (morning prayers) a person should have a fixed time to to learn Torah; at least one verse or a single Halacha.
The Torah requires everybody to have a fixed time to learn Torah every day and every night.
Somebody who does not know how to learn Torah, or cannot find the time to learn, should support others who do learn Torah and they share the reward.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 27:1-2
Monday, 2 Tamuz 5770
Sunday, June 13, 2010
On Rosh Chodesh one should add Ya'aleh Veyavo during the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.
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:
If one only realizes after starting the last Bracha, or one does not have the above Bracha readily available, then one does not need to make amends.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 19:10, 44:14
Sunday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5770
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Rosh Chodesh Tamuz will be on Shabbat and Sunday.
Remember to add Ya'aleh Veyavo into the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.
One should add an extra dish to the Shabbat meals in honor of Rosh Chodesh.
After Hallel on Shabbat we will read from 2 Sifrei Torah; the second one for Rosh Chodesh, followed by the Shabbat-Rosh-Chodesh Haftara.
In Mussaf one says the "Ata Yetzarta - אַתָּה יָצַרְתָּ" version which talks about both the Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh sacrifices.
Ya'aleh Veyavo is not said in Mussaf.
Source: Shulchan Aruch 525:3, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 97:3
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,
Thursday, 28 Sivan 5770
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The Shulchan Aruch says that it's appropriate to fast today - 27 Sivan - since about 2,000 years ago on this date, the Romans wrapped the great Rabbi Chanina ben Tradyon in a Sefer Torah, and burnt him to death.
Rabbi Chanina ben Tradyon was one of the 10 martyrs.
King David started Tehilim - Psalms - by declaring: "Blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the gathering of the scornful".
Rabbi Chanina ben Tradyon taught (Avot 3:3):
- A "gathering of the scornful" is when Jews sit together and don't discuss Torah-related topics.
- When Jews do discuss Torah then the Shechina - Gcd's presence - is with them.
- Even when a lone Jew learns Torah (like a Halocho a Day), Hashem takes note and rewards him/her.
Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2
Read about the 10 martyrs at http://www.answers.com/topic/ten-martyrs
Read about Rabbi Chanina ben Tradyon at http://www.answers.com/topic/haninah-ben-teradion
Yom Kippour Katan will be tomorrow in anticipation of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz which will be on Shabbat & Sunday .
Wednesday, 27 Sivan 5770
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
A Mezuzah is rolled-up from the left, so that a person opening it would see the word "Shma" - שמע.
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 the Mezuza case 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; כ is behind the ו ,י is behind the ה, etc. This is the way Mezuzot have always been written.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:6
Tuesday, 26 Sivan 5770
Monday, June 7, 2010
The Mezuzah belongs on the outside on the doorpost. In a wide doorframe it belongs in the Tefach (~8cm - 3 inches) closest to the outside.
The Minhag in many places 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 doorframe for the Mezuzah to be placed 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.
However, 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 to the keen observer 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
Monday, 25 Sivan 5770
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The 2 chapters written in a Mezuzah are the first two chapters of the Kriat Shma.
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
Sunday, 24 Sivan 5770
Thursday, June 3, 2010
One may not catch animals or bugs on Shabbat - hunting is one of the 39 forbidden categories of forbidden work.
One may not kill creatures on Shabbat - killing is another one of the 29 forbidden categories of forbidden work.
If an insect lands on one's body for the purpose of biting, it's permissible to remove it, taking care not to kill it.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:52
Thursday, 21 Sivan 5770
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Yesterday we learned that it's a Mitzva to lend money to a fellow Jew.
If you know that the borrower cannot pay back then you are not allowed to ask him to repay the loan. Even walking by him intentionally is forbidden.
There's a Mitzva to repay a loan; if the borrower already has the ability to pay back then he's forbidden to ask the lender to come back another time.
A person who does not repay a loan is called a Rasha - a wicked person.
A borrower may not waste the money he borrowed if that will prevent him from repaying the loan.
One should not lend money to people who have a reputation of not repaying their debts; since one transgresses every time one nudniks them to repay.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 179:4 - 6
Wednesday, 20 Sivan 5770
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
It's a Mitzva to lend money to a fellow Jew.
Included in the Mitzva is providing moral support and giving sage advice.
Even lending money to wealthy people - if they are short of cash - is a Mitzva.
One should not lend money without witnesses, unless the borrower provides collateral. Even better is to have the lender sign an IOU - a promissory note.
One may not demand collateral after the loan has been given to the borrower, except in a Bet Din (Jewish Court).
One may not use the collateral, as that would be a form of interest. One may rent out the collateral and deduct the rental from the loan, under certain circumstances.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 179:1-3, 7-8
Tuesday, 19 Sivan 5770