Thursday, April 28, 2011

Halocho #792 - Dismantling tents on Shabbat

We learned in Halocho #754 that making roofs on Shabbat is forbidden.

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.

Any roof that one is not allowed to make on Shabbat, one is also forbidden from dismantling.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:81

Shabbat Shalom
- Danny
Thursday, 24 Nissan 5771 - 9th day of the Omer

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Halocho #791 - Countdown!

From the second day of Pessach until Shavu'ot we count the 49 days of the Omer.

Counting is done after nightfall. Before counting a Bracha is said:

ברוך אתה... אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בּמִצְוֹתָיו, וצִוָּנוּ עַל ספִירַת הָעוֹמֶר
One counts both days and weeks, as the Torah says (Vayikra 23:15-16):

וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם ... שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת ... תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם

"And you shall count ... 7 weeks ... you shall count 50 days."

Today is the 8th day of the Omer which is 1 week and 1 day.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:1

- Danny
Wednesday, 23 Nissan 5771 - 8th day of the Omer

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Halocho #790 - What is Isru Chag?

The day after Pessach, Sukkoth and Shavuoth is called Isru-Chag.

That would be today (Tuesday) in Israel and Wednesday everywhere else.

Various reasons are given for Isru Chag after Pessach and Sukkoth.

On Isru Chag the custom is to eat a larger meal than usual. Nobody - not even a bride and groom on their wedding day, nor a Yahrzeit - may fast on Isru Chag.

One does not say Tachanun on Isru Chag. Some communities don't say למנצח (before Uvo L'Zion in Shacharit) on Isru Chag.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:8, 103:14, 146:2

- Danny, in Jerusalem
Tuesday, 23 Nissan 5771 - 8th day of the Omer

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Halocho #789 - Erev Pessach check-list

Tomorrow - Monday - is Erev Pessach; a busy day.

- Remember to light a 26-hour candle (or leave on a flame on the stove) so that you can light Shabbat candles on Tuesday evening, if you live outside Israel .

- For details of the Fast of the Firstborn see Halocho #786.

- Prepare the Salt Water for the Seder.

- Roast the Egg and Bone.

- Open the boxes of Matza, so as not to tear writing on Yom Tov.

- Ensure the wine bottles can be opened on Yom Tov without tearing any writing; else open them beforehand.

- Ensure Challa has been separated from the Matza to be used on Yom Tov.

- Make the Charoset.

One does not say מִזְמוֹר לְתוֹדָה nor לַמְנַצֵּחַ from Erev Pessach until Isru Chag.

One may not eat Chametz after 1/3 of the day - and then one needs to burn one's Chametz and say Kol Chamira declaring all Chametz one owns to be ownerless like dust.

Work that may not be done on Chol Hamo'ed may not be done on Erev Pessach after noon. See Halocho #525 and #528 for details.

One may not eat Matza on Erev Pessach.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 113: 1 - 5

Wishing everybody a meaningful and enjoyable Pessach

- Danny
Sunday, 13 Nissan 5770 - tonight is Bedikat Chametz night

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Halocho #788 - The great Shabbat Hagadol

Today, 10 Nissan, in the year 2449, the Jews in Egypt selected lambs for their Pessach sacrifice.

Forty years later, on 10 Nissan, the prophetess Miriam - sister of Aaron and Moshe - died.

A year later on 10 Nissan, the Jews crossed the Jordan river, as recorded in Joshua 3-4.

The Jews in Egypt were commanded to take home a lamb for their pre-Exodus Seder on 10 Nissan, four days before it was going to be sacrificed.

It was a miracle that the Egyptians didn't harm the Jews when they did this, since lambs were considered sacred objects in Egypt.

Since we left Egypt on Thursday 15 Nissan, this miracle happened on a Shabbat. To commemorate this miracle, the Shabbat before Pessach is called Shabbat Hagadol - the Great Shabbat - and a special Haftara is read; the last chapter in Malachi which predicts the future redemption, may we merit it in our days.

The custom is to read the narrative section of the Haggada - from Avadim Hayinu (we were slaves) until (but not including) Rabban Gamliel's admonition to say "Pesach, Matza and Marror" - at Mincha on Shabbat Hagadol.

Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 430

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 10 Nissan 5770

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Halocho #787 - Should one use a candle for Bedikat Chametz?

On Sunday night one may not do any work, nor eat anything, until one has checked the house for Chametz.
Before one starts searching the house for Chametz the entire house needs to be cleaned, and the Chametz that one plans to use until mid-morning on Monday morning needs to be put in a secure place.

First one says the Bracha
"אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ""… to destroy Chametz", since the point of the search is to rid the house of Chametz.

After the search is complete one says “Kol Chamira” declaring that "all Chametz one isn’t aware of " to be “ownerless and worthless like dust”.

This declaration constitutes a Halachic “destroying Chametz”, which is why one shouldn’t interrupt between the Bracha, the searching and the Kol Chamira with anything not related to the search.

One may appoint other members of the household to help with the search, as long as they are over Bar/Bat Mitzva.

The search is done using a single candle which provides the optimal light for searching. A torch (like a Havdala candle) is not allowed – as it’s a fire hazard and it gives a flickering light – and if it was used one needs to redo the search.

Search under all furniture, inside all closets, pockets of all clothes worn in the past year, schoolbags, purses, cars and anywhere else where Chametz could have been placed accidentally or purposely by adults, children or toddlers.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:1-10

There is no need to turn off the electric lights while searching with a candle, since with more light it’s easier to find Chametz.

After searching with a candle in those places where it’s safe and convenient to do so, one should continue with a flashlight, so that one can search safely and calmly without fear of burning down the house.

Source: Rabbi Shimon Eider zt”l, Halachos of Pessach, Vol. 1, page 86

- Danny
Wednesday, 9 Nissan 5770

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Halocho #786 - Why do the firstborns fast?

Why don't firstborns celebrate the fact that they were saved from the 10th plague - the smiting of Egyptian firstborns?

On Erev Pessach - this coming Monday - all firstborns will fast in memory of them fasting in Egypt on Erev Pessach, to ensure they wouldn't be punished along with the Egyptians in the 10th plague.

The Hallel said at the Seder includes praise for their delivery.

All firstborn males fast; even if they're only a firstborn to one of their parents.

Even firstborns who are exempt from Pidyon haBen - like Cohanim, Levites or being born after a stillborn - also have to fast.

The father of a young firstborn needs to fast for him.

Whether a firstborn (or his father) may attend a Se'udat Mitzva like a Siyum, Brit or Pidyon haBen and break his fast to participate in the meal, depends on local / family custom.

After breaking his fast, he can eat the rest of the day.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 113:6, 115:2

- Danny
Tuesday, 8 Nissan 5770

Monday, April 11, 2011

Halocho #785 - Selling Chametz to a non-Jew

Since most of us don't want to start selling Chametz on Erev Pessach, one can go to most local Rabbis and appoint them as a messenger to sell our Chametz.

The Rabbi will make a legal sale of the Chametz including a legal document and a deposit. Realize that this is a bona fide sale, and that the non-Jew is entitled to come to our homes and request we hand over our Chametz, as has occasionally happened.

After Pessach the Rabbi goes to the non-Jew and asks to be paid the remainder of the debt and offers to buy back the Chametz from the non-Jew at a higher price. Since the non-Jew usually prefers to make a quick profit rather than paying for hundreds of items scattered throughout the city, he will sell the Chametz to the Rabbi.

One should only sell Chametz and not the containers it's in - especially not containers that require Tevila, like metal and glass, otherwise one would need to Toivel them in a Mikva after Pessach, since they belonged to a non-Jew during Pessach.

Chametz that has been sold (via the Rabbi) must be locked away so that one doesn't accidentally use it, which would be a double problem: Chametz on Pessach and stealing from the non-Jew.
Even if one has no intention of keeping Chametz in one's home, one should still go to a Rabbi to appoint him to sell ones Chametz. Why?

A lot of products may be Chametz contrary to popular belief - depending on the latest production methods - like medications, creams, soaps or even food which one discovers later wasn't really Kosher for Pessach.

During Pessach one may discover Chametz that one wasn't aware of, or that one forgot to get rid of in the last-minute pre-Pessach rush.

If one sold all ones Chametz then one didn't own any during Pessach.

Chametz that belonged to a Jew during Pessach may not be used after Pessach. This is a Rabbinical decree; a punishment for owning the Chametz.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 114

- Danny
Monday, 7 Nissan 5770

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Halocho #784 - Is burning Chametz wasteful?

The Torah forbids us to waste or destroy items that can still be used.

The Torah commands us to burn - or otherwise destroy - all Chametz in our possession on Erev Pessach morning.

Can we reconcile these 2 Halachot?

The Mitzva to destroy Chametz can be fulfilled with a bare minimum of Chametz; preferably with leftovers that nobody would be able to use. Usable Chametz can be donated to various charity organizations which will distribute it to the needy.

Alternately, Chametz can be sold to a non-Jew. More about that tomorrow.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 144

- Danny
Sunday, 6 Nissan 5770

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Halocho #783 - Moving homes on Chol HaMo'ed

One should not move one's furniture from one home to another on Chol HaMo'ed, with the following exceptions:

- Both homes are in the same complex and the furniture will not be carried into the street, or

- The 2 complexes have a common doorway and the furniture will not be carried into the street, or

- There's a financial loss involved in not moving, or

- One is moving from a rented home to one's own home, as this will increase one's joy on the holiday.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 105:1

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 3 Nissan 5771

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Halocho #782 - Bless the blossoms

During the month of Nissan trees start to blossom (in the Northern hemisphere).

The first time a year that one sees edible fruit trees blossoming one says:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱ-לקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם - Blessed are you Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe,
שֶׁלּא חִסַּר בָּעוֹלָמוֹ דָּבָר - for nothing is lacking in His universe,
וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבִים   - and He created in it good creatures and good trees,
לְהַנּוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם- to cause mankind pleasure with them.

Once the flowers have fallen off and the fruit is visible then one can no longer say this Brocho.

One makes this Bracha only once a year.

Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 226:1,

- Danny
Wednesday, 2 Nissan 5770

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Halocho #781 - Rosh Chodesh Nissan

Today - Tuesday - is the first day of the first month - Nissan.

Don't forget Hallel and יַעֲלֶה וְיָבא

Today - 1 Nissan - was the last of the 8 inaugural days of the Mishkan (tabernacle) and the first day that Aaron served as Cohen Gadol (high priest) and his 4 sons as Cohanim.

That same day, two of them - Nadav and Avihu - brought an offering not in accordance with Halacha and were killed by a heavenly fire.

Today the heads of the 12 tribes started bringing their inaugural sacrifices - one prince each day. Some people have the custom of reading that day's sacrifice during the first 12 days of Nissan. This can be found in the Siddur as the Torah Reading for Chanuka.

One does not say Tachanun during the entire month of Nissan.

One may not fast during Nissan, with the following exceptions:
- Firstborns fast on Erev Pessach.
- Fasting for distressingly bad dreams.
- Couples getting married during Nissan. Even today - Rosh Chodesh - they fast, whereas on any other Rosh Chodesh the bride and groom do not fast.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 107:1,2

Chodesh Tov!

- Danny
Tuesday, Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5771

Monday, April 4, 2011

Halocho #780 - Found Chametz on Pessach, now what?

Chametz is Muktzah on Pessach, since it may not be used for anything.

Chametz (that was not sold to a non-Jew) found in one's possession on Pessach needs to be burned.

If one finds Chametz on Yom Tov or Shabbat during Pessach, (to ensure that one doesn't eat it accidentally), one covers it with a bowl until after Havdalah - and then one burns it.

When burning Chametz on Pessach one says the Bracha of "Al Bi'ur Chametz" if the Chametz is the size of a Kezayit (size of an olive) or larger.

Chametz found on the closing Yom Tov of Pessach, must be burned after Pessach without a Bracha.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:17

Chodesh Tov; tonight is Rosh Chodesh Nissan - no Tachanun from Mincha today until after Rosh Chodesh Iyar

- Danny
Monday, 29 Adar-II 5771

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Halocho #779 - The second day of Pessach

On the second night of Pessach we start counting the 49 days of Sefirat Ha'Omer; culminating with Shavuoth.

On the second day of Pessach one should do something at the meal to commemorate Queen Esther's second feast, which ended with the wicked Haman being hanged on that day.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:6

- Danny
Sunday, 28 Adar II 5771

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