Thursday, December 30, 2010

Halocho #714 - Foggy windows on Shabbat

Writing and drawing is forbidden on Shabbat - even if it's temporary.

One may not use one's finger to write or draw on the condensation a window.

One may not write or draw using the water that spilled on a table.

One may not use one's nail to make a mark on page, to enable one to find the place again, or for any other reason.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:62

Shabbat Shalom
- Danny
Thursday, 23 Tevet 5771

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Halocho #713 - Hitting as an educational tool

One is not allowed to hit one's servants, even as a means to force them to obey.

One may hit one's own children - including adopted children - if done in a way that will educate them to be upright people.

Before hitting, one should first try explaining the issue; if that fails and one must resort to hitting, one must be careful not to be cruel; one may not beat up a kid to vent one's anger.

It is forbidden to forewarn a child that they will be hit later, as this can traumatize a child. If hitting is called for, one either hits or one keeps quiet about it.

It is forbidden to hit children who will hit back - even if they are not yet Bar Mitzva - since one causes them to sin.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 184:2, 143:18: 165:1

- Danny
Wednesday, 22 Tevet 5771

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Halocho #712 - Is boxing a Kosher sport?

It is forbidden to hit a fellow Jew.

One who hits another Jew has transgressed a Torah prohibition.

Even one who simply lifts his hand with the intent to hit is called "wicked" as we learned in last week's Parsha (Shmot); "[Moshe] said to the wicked one: Why are you going to hit your friend?" - even before he hit, he was referred to as the wicked one.

Hitting back in self-defense is permitted, if there are no other options.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 184:1

- Danny
Tuesday, 21 Tevet 5771

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Halocho #711 - Long time no see

If one is happy when seeing a very dear friend (including spouses, parents, siblings and teachers) after not having seen them for 30 days, one makes the Bracha of Shehechiyanu:

"Blessed... who has kept us alive, sustained us and permitted us to reach this occasion."
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
 שֶׁהֶחֱיָינוּ וקִיְּמָנוּ והִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה

One can make this Bracha even if one received letters from them during this time.

If one has not seen them for more than 12 months one makes this Bracha instead:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
מְחַיֵּה הַמֵּתִים
"Blessed... who revives the dead".

This is because anything 12 months old is considered to be forgotten. Therefore, if one communicated with them - or received regards from them - during the past 12 months, one says Bracha of Shehechiyanu.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:20

- Danny
Sunday, 19 Tevet 5771

Please daven that Nathan ben Beila should have a successful operation tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Halocho #710 - Asara B'Tevet on Friday

In the year 3,338 the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege against Jerusalem which culminated in the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash, a year and a half later. As a result we will fast this Friday.

Asara B'Tevet is the only fast that can fall on a Friday. Pregnant and nursing mothers do not fast, as well as anybody unwell, after consulting with a Doctor.

Keep in mind that Mincha will be earlier than usual, since it includes the Torah Reading and Haftara for fast days.

One gets ready for Shabbat as usual:
- One may shower as usual, but one should not rinse one's mouth, if possible.
- One can cut one's nails.
- One puts on Shabbat clothing before candle lighting, which is at the regular time; 20 to 40 minutes before sunset depending on your communities custom.

However, one may not eat until after nightfall; even if one has already finished Ma'ariv prayers.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121

- Danny
Monday, 6 Tevet 5771

P.S. Halocho-a-Day is probably going on a 2-week vacation.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Halocho #709 - Why will we fast on Friday?

This Friday - 10 Tevet - we fast to commemorate the beginning of the siege against Jerusalem.

Almost 2,500 years ago the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege against Jerusalem which culminated in the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash, a year and a half later.

This is the King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in whose court Daniel (who survived the lion's den) served.

The purpose of the fast is to awaken us to repent; if the Bet Hamikdash has not been rebuilt then we suffer from similar deficiencies that caused it to be destroyed.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:3

Trivia: We will not fast on Asara B'Tevet during 2011. :-)

- Danny
Sunday, 5 Tevet 5771

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Halocho #708 - Chanukah leftovers

Oil that was put in the Chanukah Menorah and was not burnt, as well as wicks that were used and candles that didn't burn fully should be burnt after Chanukah.

Since they were set aside for the Mitzva of Chanukah they cannot be used for any other purpose.

If one had the explicit intention to use the left-overs, then they need not be burnt.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:20

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 2 Tevet 5771

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Halocho #707 - What is Zot Chanuka?

The Torah Reading for tomorrow - the last day of Chanuka - has 39 verses.

It starts from ביום השמיני in Parshat Naso and continues all the way past the end of the Parsha and ends with the first paragraph of Parshat Beha'alotcha which talks about the daily lighting the 7-branched Menora in the Mishkan and the Bet HaMikdash.

The last paragraph of Parshat Naso starts with the words זאת חנוכת המזבח - as a result the last day of Chanuka is often referred to as Zot Chanuka.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch  139:23

Chodesh Tov! Don't forget Ya'aleh Veyavo and Al Hanisim in the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.

- Danny
Wednesday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5771

--> Great selection of Hanuka books at VirtualGeula <--

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Halocho #706 - The Chanukah Menorah in shul

In order to publicize the miracle of Chanuka, the Menora is lit - with the correct Brachot - in the synagogue, between Mincha and Ma'ariv.

The person who lit the Menora in shul has to light again at home, with the correct Brachot.

A mourner should not light the Menora in shul on the first night of Chanuka, since it's inappropriate for him to say "Shehechiyanu" in public. At home a mourner does say "Shehechiyanu" on the first night.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:15

Chodesh Tov! Don't forget Ya'aleh Veyavo and Al Hanisim in the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.

- Danny
Tuesday, 1st day Rosh Chodesh Tevet, 5771

Monday, December 6, 2010

Halocho #705 - Rosh Chodesh and Chanukah

Tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday is Rosh Chodesh Tevet.

Rosh Chodesh Tevet is the only time the full-Hallel is said on Rosh Chodesh. (Usually on Rosh Chodesh we leave out 2 half-paragraphs.)

Between Shacharit and Mussaf we will take out 2 Sifrei Torah. First we call up 3 people to the Torah for Rosh Chodesh and then - in the second Sefer Torah - a fourth person for Chanukah.

We then daven Mussaf for Rosh Chodesh, with Al Hanisim.

Starting tonight - Monday night - don't forget Ya'aleh Veyavo and Al Hanisim in the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:24

- Danny
Monday, 29 Kislev 5771

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Halocho #704 - Using the light of the Chanukah Menorah

Each night of Chanukah one adds an extra light, starting at 1 and ending at 8.

Besides for the nightly number, the custom is to add an extra candle each night - known as the Shamash.

This is ensure that one doesn't accidentally use the light from the actual Chanukah lights, which is forbidden.

After the Chanukah Menora has been burning for half an hour after nightfall, one may derive benefit from the lights of the Chanukah Menora.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:14

- Danny
Sunday, 28 Kislev 5771

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Halocho #703 - Motzai Shabbat: Rain and fire

On Motzai Shabbat - the  4th night of Chanukah  - we start praying for rain in the 9th Bracha of the weekday Amida - Barech-Aleinu - ברך עלינו - in the Diaspora.

For more details see Halocho #668 - Ask for rain

On Motzai Shabbat - the  4th night of Chanukah this year - one first makes Havdalah and then lights the Chanukah Menorah.

In Shul the Menorah is lit after the full-Kaddish - before ויתן לך - on Motzai Shabbat.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:18

Some have the custom of lighting the Menorah before making Havdala, since one already heard Havdalah in shul. (Source: רמ"א 581:2)

The Haftara this week is the Chanuka one (רני ושמחי from Zecharia 2:14).

Shabbat Shalom uMevorach, Rosh Chodesh will be on Tuesday and Wednesday.

- Danny
Thursday, 25 Kislev 5771

Quick recap of the laws of Chanuka:
 (All times mentioned are for the year 2010 in Jerusalem.)

The earliest time to light the Menora is at Plug-HaMincha - which is at 15:30 - but the Menora has to burn until 30 minutes after dark.

The best time is at sunset (16:35) or nightfall (17:05) depending on family custom.

You can light any time after this - but you cannot make the Brachot then, unless somebody else is awake in the house with you - or you live on a busy street and people are still walking outside and they can see your Chanuka Menora.

The latest time to light would be 4:15 the next morning - 30 minutes before dawn.

Once it's time to light the Menora, one should not do anything else except get organized to light. Even learning Torah and eating is not allowed; though one can have a light snack (fruit or similar).

The only exception is: one can first Daven Maariv - תפילת ערבית - if one lights at nightfall.

After candle lighting one can do anything. However, there is an ancient custom that women do not do any work for the first 30 minutes, to commemorate their pivotal role in the Chanuka victory. ("Work" being anything they cannot do on Yom Tov.)
The custom is to spend these 30 minutes singing Maoz Tzur and other Chanuka songs, relating the story of Chanuka and discussing the Halachot of Chanuka.

On Friday afternoon one lights Shabbat candles at the usual time (16:00) and one has to light the Menora BEFORE lighting Shabbat candles. (So the Menora has to be lit between 15:30 and 16:00)

The Menora has to burn until 30 minutes after dark - so you'll need oil or candles that will last for at least 70 minutes.

Since you cannot move the Menora on Shabbat, you have to place it in a safe place - but (if possible) it should not be near your Shabbat candles.

On Motzai Shabbat you must wait until Shabbat is over (17:15) and then you make Havdala and light the Menora. Which to do first depends on family custom.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Halocho #702 - What comes first? Chanukah or Shabbat candles?

We will light the first Chanukah flame this evening; Wednesday afternoon, 1st Dec - and every evening for the next 8 days.

Since one cannot light fire on Shabbat, on Friday the Menorah is lit before Shabbat.

The correct order for Friday is:
- Daven "early" Mincha
- Light the Chanukah Menorah. One can light as early as 75 Halachic minutes before sunset.
- Light Shabbat candles at the regular time.

The Chanukah Menorah needs be stay lit until 30 minutes after dark.
On Friday one needs longer candles or more oil than during the week, since it needs to burn for 70 minutes or longer.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:17

- Danny
Wednesday, 24 Kislev 5771