Monday, February 28, 2011

Halocho #756 - Sitting while Visiting the sick

When visiting the sick who is lying on the floor, one may not sit on a chair, in deference to the Shechina (Divine presence) which is above the sick person's head.

If he's in a bed, one may sit on a chair.

The main point of visiting the sick is to find out if one can help him in anyway, so that he feels he has friends who care about him, and in order to pray for him.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 193:2-3

- Danny
Monday, 24 Adar-I 5771

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Halocho #755 - Visiting the sick

It's a Mitzva to visit sick people, irrelevant of the social standing of the visitor or the patient.

Close friends and family may visit immediately, but others should wait until the 4th day, so as not to aggravate the patient's Mazal and give them the "sick" title.

However, if a person becomes very ill very suddenly then all may visit immediately.

One may visit numerous times a day - as long as it doesn't bother the patient.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 193:1

- Danny
Sunday, 23 Adar-I 5771

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Halocho #754 - Making tents on Shabbat

Making a roof on Shabbat is forbidden; even if it's a temporary flimsy roof.

A roof is defined as a cover, over an area of at least 1 Tefach (8 cm, 3") by 1 Tefach, and at least 1 Tefach of space underneath it.

For example, on Shabbat one may not put a netting over a baby's crib - to protect the baby from flies - since one is creating a roof over the crib.

However, one may extend an existing roof, if the roof was already stretched out at least 1 Tefach.

For example, one may roll up the netting over a baby's crib until the last Tefach, before Shabbat, and unroll it on Shabbat, since 1 Tefach was left unrolled.

Even if the netting - when  rolled-up - was wider than 1 Tefach, it does not count towards the unrolled section. One needs 1 Tefach unrolled, besides for the width of the roll.

These Halachot apply to Yom Tov also.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:77

Shabbat Shalom
- Danny
Thursday, 20 Adar-I 5771

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Halocho #753 - The Pidyon HaBen ceremony

[Comments in brackets are based on my observations,and are not in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch]

On day 31 of a firstborn's life (if he was born naturally and neither parent is a Cohen or Levi) the Pidyon HaBen ceremony is takes place - along with a festive meal.

The Cohen washes and says haMotzi over bread, starting the festive meal.

The father then holds the baby [bedecked in jewelry on a silver tray] and says to the Cohen:
"This is my firstborn son; he is the the first issue of his mother's womb and Hashem has commanded me to redeem him as it says in the Torah: "And those who must be redeemed, from the age of a month you are to redeem... five silver Shekel of the sanctuary..." (Numbers 18:16)

He then sets the baby down [on the table] in front of the Cohen, and the Cohen asks [rhetorically]:
"What do you prefer? Your firstborn son or the 5 Shekels you need to redeem him?"

The father then answers:
"I want to redeem my son, as we are commanded in the Torah, and here is the cost of his redemption"

While still holding the money [in Israel they have specially minted silver coins with the exact weight of a Biblical Shekel] the father says the Brachot:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' , אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל פִּדְיוֹן הַבֵּן
"...Who has sanctified us with His Mitzvot and commanded us regarding the redemption of a son"

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' , אֱלקֽינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָינוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
"...Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this occasion"

The father then hands the money to the Cohen.

While waving the money over the baby's head the Cohen says:
"This is instead of that; this is in exchange for that; this is pardoned because of that. May this son enter into life, into Torah and into fear of heaven. May it be Your will that just as he was redeemed so too shall he enter into Torah learning, marriage and doing good deeds."

The Cohen then adds the following classic blessings:
יְשִׂמְךָ אֱלקִים כְּאֶפְרַיִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁה
(Genesis 48:20)

יְבָרֶכְךָ ה' וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ: יָאֵר ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ: יִשָּׂא ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
(Numbers 6:24-26)

כִּי אֹרֶךְ יָמִים וּשְׁנוֹת חַיִּים וְשָׁלוֹם יוֹסִיפוּ לָךְ
(Proverbs 3:2)

 ה' יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל רָע יִשְׁמֹר אֶת נַפְשֶׁךָ
(Psalms 127:7)

The Cohen then [hands the baby back to the father and] says the Bracha of HaGefen over a full cup of wine.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 163:4

- Danny
Wednesday, 19 Adar-I 5771


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Halocho #752 - Who does a Pidyon HaBen at his Bar Mitzva?

Usually a firstborn baby boy whose father is a Cohen or Levi, or his mother is the daughter of a Cohen or Levi does not need a Pidyon HaBen.

If the firstborn's mother is Jewish but his father is not, then he does his own Piyon at his Bar Mitzva.

A daughter of a Cohen or Levi who slept with a non-Jew has lost her special status and does not exempt her firstborn son from a Pidyon HaBen, even if the firstborn's father is Jewish.

A firstborn who was orphaned from his father before his Pidyon HaBen, should get redeemed by Bet Din, not by his mother.

A firstborn who was not redeemed as a child, needs to do a Pidyon HaBen to himself as soon as he finds out; once he becomes Bar Mitzva.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 164:7, 8

- Danny
Tuesday, 18 Adar-I 5771

Monday, February 21, 2011

Halocho #751 - How much does a firstborn cost?

At the Pidyon HaBen ceremony the father has to give a Cohen 5 biblical Shekalim.

5 biblical Shekalim is about 117 grams of silver (3.77 troy ounces) with a value of about $123.- at yesterday's rate.

This value can be given in coins, or other goods.

Bank notes, checks, IOUs and property are not acceptable for a Pidyon HaBen.

If the Cohen wants, he can return the money to the father, after the ceremony, but he does not have to.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 164:1, 6

- Danny
Monday, 17 Adar-I 5771

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Halocho #750 - When does one do a Pidyon HaBen?

All firstborn sons (born naturally) have to be "redeemed" by giving 5 biblical Shekalim to a Cohen; unless the baby's father is a Cohen or Levi, or his mother is the daughter of a Cohen or Levi.

The Mitzva is to be done on the 31st day of his life.

If day 31 is Shabbat or YomTov then the redemption is done at night on Motzai Shabbat or Motzai YomTov.

It is customary to have a Seuda - a festive meal - to celebrate this ceremony.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 164:1

More details tomorrow...

- Danny
Sunday, 16 Adar-I 5771

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Halocho #749 - Erev Purim Katan

Today (Thursday 13th Adar-I) Tachanun is not said at Mincha, since tomorrow (Friday) is Purim-Katan. (However, today is not the Fast of Esther; that applies in Adar-II only.)

On both days of Purim-Katan (Friday & Shabbat this year) one omits Tachanun, קל אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (before the Torah reading on  Mondays & Thursday) and לַמְנַצֵּחַ (between אַשְׁרֵי  and וּבָא לְצִיּוֹן).

On Shabbat one omits אָב  הָרַחֲמִים  before Mussaf and צִדְקָתךָ  at Mincha.

One may not fast nor eulogize on these 2 days.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:8, 142:10

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 13 Adar-I 5771

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Halocho #748 - Is tomorrow a fast day?

In a non-leap year the 13th of Adar is Ta'anit Esther.

In leap years - like this year 5771 - תשע"א - we fast and celebrate Purim in Adar-II.

However, in Adar-I we mark the days as "Purim Katan".

One should eat a bigger meal to increase happiness on 14th of Adar-I. Even in "walled cities" where Shushan-Purim is celebrated (e.g. Jerusalem) this is done on 14th (not 15th) of Adar-I.

During Adar-I the Megila is not read, nor does one say עַל הַנִּסִּים.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:10

- Danny
Wednesday, 12 Adar-I 5771

Please daven for a complete recovery of 24 year old Michael Pinchas ben Frecha Fanny who suffered a brain haemorrhage

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Halocho #747 - Brit Mila - Stand Up!

The custom is for everybody to stand while a Brit Mila is taking place, except for the Sandek who is holding the baby.

This is learned from the verse וַיַּעֲמד כָּל הָעָם בַּבְּרִית - "and the entire nation stood at the Brit" (Melachim-II 23:4)

It is forbidden to circumcise a baby who is not 100% healthy; delaying a Brit Mila is better than risking a baby's life.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 160:2, 4

- Danny
Tuesday, 11 Adar-I 5771

Monday, February 14, 2011

Halocho #746 - The Sandek only holds the baby once

The person who holds the baby during the Brit Mila is called a Sandek.

The custom is that the father never honors the same person twice with Sandeka'ut. (*)

On the other hand, the custom is to always use the same Mohel, if he is available.

Even if  it was assumed that the original Mohel would be out of town, and another Mohel was asked to officiate, the original Mohel has precedence, if he's back in town on time.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 163:1

(*) The reason  given is that being a Sandek is a Segula for prosperity, and we want to "spread the wealth". Similarly, each Cohen was only given one opportunity to bring the Ketoret (Incense) in the Bet Hamikdash, since it's a Segula for prosperity.

- Danny
Monday, 10 Adar-I 5771

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Halocho #745 - Who knows eight?

When a newborn boy is 8 days old, his father has to ensure he gets a Brit Mila (circumcision).

So if a baby is born on Sunday, his Brit Mila is the following Sunday.

If the father cannot do the Brit Mila himself, he asks a Mohel (a Jewish expert at circumcision) to do it for him.

To show that he is appointing the Mohel to do his Mitzva, the father should put the baby on the Sandek's lap and hand the Mohel the knife.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 163:1

- Danny
Sunday, 9 Adar-I 5771

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Halocho #744 - Shabbat party for newborn boys

The Minhag (custom) is to celebrate with fruit and drinks on the Friday night before a baby boy's Brit Mila.

This party is a Se'udat Mitzva (and is called a Shalom-Zachor)

There is also a custom to gather in the baby's house the night before the Brit and to learn Torah. The meal served at this event (known as a Brit Yitzchak) is not a Se'udat Mitzva.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 163:8

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 6 Adar-I 5771

Mazal Tov to my sister on becoming a grandmother this morning, with support from my wife

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Halocho #743 - Yahrzeit of our teacher Moses; Moshe Rabeinu

According to most opinions on 7 Adar (Friday) will be the Yahrzeit of our teacher Moses - Moshe Rabeinu.

Many Jewish Burial Societies [Chevra Kadisha] have their annual meeting that day, including fasting and special prayers.

Halachot related to Moshe Rabeinu:

When babies start talking one should teach them the verse "תּוֹרָה צִוָּה-לָנוּ, משֶׁה. מוֹרָשָׁה, קְהִלַּת יַעֲקב" and Shma Yisrael...", after ensuring that they are clean while being taught.

Moshe Rabeinu went up to Har-Sinai to get the 2nd set of tablets on a Thursday and came down on a Monday, which is why these 2 days are auspicious for praying - and we therefore add the long "Vehu Rachum" prayer before Tachanun on these 2 days.

There's a limit as to how long one may mourn a deceased - but even for a great Torah scholar one may not mourn longer than 30 days, as nobody can be greater than our teacher Moshe for whom it is stated "and they mourned Moshe for 30 days".

Sources: Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 58:2, KSA 165:10, 22:9, 215:1

- Danny
Wednesday, 5 Adar-I 5771

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Halocho #742 - Is new produce a problem?

The "five grains" are wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye.

Grain that was planted and started taking root before the first day Chol Hamoed Pessach may be eaten immediately - and is called "Yoshon" (old).

Grain that took root thereafter is "Chodosh" (new) and may not be eaten until after the 2nd day Chol Hamoed Pessach of the coming year. This presents a problem for food made from grain that was harvested recently.

In Israel, Chol Hamoed Pessach starts on 16th Nissan, in the Diaspora on the 17th Nissan.

According to all opinions, the Torah prohibition of eating Chodosh applies to grain grown on Jewish land. There is a minority opinion that Chodosh does not apply to grain grown in the Diaspora on non-Jewish land; the custom is to rely on this opinion in emergency.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 172:1-3

- Danny
Tuesday, 4 Adar-I 5771

Monday, February 7, 2011

Halocho #741 - Diverting trouble

One may not divert trouble if it will then go to a fellow Jew. However, before the damage arrives, one may protect oneself from being damaged, even if somebody else may suffer as a result.

For example: If a river overflows into one's garden, one may not divert nor drain it, in a manner that will then flood a neighbour's garden.

However, before the river arrives near one's property, one is allowed to create a barrier, even if it would then go to a neighbour should it overflow, since the neighbour could also protect themself beforehand.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 183:2

- Danny
Monday, 3 Adar-I 5771

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Halocho #740 - Mezuza checking

The Torah commands us to put a Mezuza on all our doorposts except for washrooms.

The Mezuza needs to be affixed to the top third of the doorpost - but not in the top 1 Tefach (~9 cm; 3.5").

Every Mezuza needs to be checked twice in seven years. 

A Mezuza on public buildings only needs to be checked twice in 50 years.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:5,17,25

Some have the custom of checking their Mezuzot in Adar-I; this is slightly more frequent than twice in seven years, but it's easy to remember.

- Danny
Sunday, 2 Adar-I 5771

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Halocho #739 - Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat Rosh Chodesh

The 2 days of Rosh Chodesh Adar-I start this evening - Thursday evening.

On Rosh Chodesh one adds  יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא into Birkat Hamazon and the Amida.

On Friday we will call up 4 people to read from the Torah, between Hallel and Mussaf.

On Shabbat we will will take out 2 Sifrei Torah after Hallel. In the first one we will call up at least 7 people to read from Parshat Terumah. Then we call up the Maftir to read from the 2nd Sefer Torah.

The Haftara this week is הַשָּׁמַיִם כִּסְאִי  for Shabbat-Rosh Chodesh, consisting of the last chapter in Sefer Yeshayahu.

In Mussaf one says the  אַתָּה יָצַרְתָּ version (usually found at the bottom half of the Shabbat Mussaf pages) which includes both Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh.

Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 425

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar I, 29 Shvat 5771

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Halocho #738 - Happy times ahead

The 2 days of Rosh Chodesh Adar-I start on Thursday evening.

One increases joy when Adar begins. Adar is a good time to deal with court cases involving non-Jews.

I have not been able to establish if - during a leap year - the above is also valid for Adar-I (being the "real" Adar; the 12th month) or it only refers to the Adar closest to our joyous month of redemption (Nissan), viz. Adar-II.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 141:1

- Danny
Wednesday, 28 Shvat 5771

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Halocho #737 - When does one say Kaddish in a leap year?

This year - 5771 - is a Jewish leap year; the 12th month (starting on Shabbat) will be Adar-I and the 13th month will be Adar-II.

If a person dies during Adar in a non-leap year, then on leap years the Yahrzeit is observed during Adar-I.

However, Kaddish should be said in both Adar-I and Adar-II.

Nevertheless, in Adar-II he doesn't have the usual precedence given to a Yahrzeit; in places where only one person says Kaddish at a time, all other mourners get to say a Kaddish first, and if there are any left, he does too.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 221:3

- Danny
Tuesday, 27 Shvat 5771