Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Halocho #815 - When is the Shavu'ot festival?

In the Torah, Shavu'ot does not have a fixed date, but happens on the day after finishing counting 7 full weeks - 49 days - of the Omer.

Since we currently have a fixed Jewish calendar, with Nissan always 30 days long and Iyar always 29 days long, Shavu'ot is always on 6 Sivan. (In the time of the Bet HaMikdash - may it be speedily rebuilt in our time - any month could be either 29 or 30 days long, depending on when the new moon was first sighted).

Outside Israel Shavu'ot is 2 days long - 6 and 7 Sivan (8th and 9th of June, this year).

Source: Vayikra 23:15 - 19

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 http://tinyurl.com/HalDay

- Danny
Tuesday, 27 Iyar 5771 - 42nd day of the Omer

Monday, May 30, 2011

Halocho #814 - Should children be given Yom Tov treats?

There's a Mitzvah to relish Jewish Holidays and therefore one must eat two Yom Tov meals; one at night and one during the day. (Se'udat Shlishi - the 3rd meal - is only eaten on Shabbat and is not required on Yom Tov.)

Each meal starts with Kiddush over wine and two Challot (loaves of bread) and should include meat and other delicacies.

It's also a Mitzvah to ensure that others are happy:

- Children should be given treats

- Wives should get new clothes and jewelry according to one's budget

- Men should be served meat and wine

In order to prove that the extra expenses are for Yom Tov and not simply for self-indulgence, one must ensure that the poor and needy are also supplied with their Yom Tov needs; invite some over for the meals and donate generously to reputable charity funds before Yom Tov.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:3, 5, 9

- Danny
Monday, 26 Iyar 5771 - 41st day of the Omer

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Halocho #813 - Extinguishing fire on Yom Tov is forbidden

Extinguishing fire is forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Even though one may light fire from an existing flame on Yom Tov, one may not extinguish fire on Yom Tov.

One may not even lower a flame on Yom Tov (nor on Shabbat).

On Yom Tov (and on Shabbat) one may not put a candle in a windy place so that it will blow out.

(Yom Kippour has the same status as Shabbat; one may not light nor extinguish fire on either.)

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98: 25

- Danny
Sunday, 25 Iyar 5771 - 40th day of the Omer

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Halocho #812 - Fire on Shabbat and Yom Tov

One of the differences between Yom Tov and Shabbat is the laws of lighting fire.

On Shabbat one may not light fires, nor extinguish them nor make them larger or smaller. Fires need to be lit before Shabbat and then leave it alone.

On Yom Tov one may light a fire from an existing flame, if there's a need. One may also make the fire larger.

One may light a flame or make an existing flame larger for:

• Light, including "candle-lighting" if one didn't manage before Yom Tov.
• Cooking, baking or warming food
• Boiling water for drinking
• Keeping warm, if it's so cold that food starts to congeal
• Warming water to wash ones hands and face
One may not use matches nor a magnifying glass to light a fire on Yom Tov; one has to light the fire from an existing flame.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:29, 30, 31

This week is Shabbat Mevorchim of Sivan; Rosh Chodesh will be on Friday in 9 days time

Shabbat Shalom uMevorach
- Danny
Thursday, 22 Iyar 5771 - 37th day of the Omer

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Halocho #811 - When must you pay the garage and tailor?

We learned that there's a Mitzva to pay wages on time, and an Aveira to pay them late.

The same applies if one gave a garment to a tailor be mended, or a car to a mechanic be serviced, or any other item to any kind of worker to be fixed, and they returned the item - or you picked it up - during the day, they must be paid on that day.

If it was returned - or you picked it up - during the night, they must be paid that same night.

If they informed you that the item is ready, then you don't have to pay, as long as you have not picked it up - no matter how long it stays by them.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 185:4

- Danny
Wednesday, 21 Iyar 5771 - 36th day of the Omer

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Halocho #810 - When must one pay weekly/monthly wages

Yesterday we learned that there's a Mitzva to pay wages on time, and an Aveira to pay them late.

The same applies to daily, weekly, monthly or yearly workers:

- If pay time arrives during the day, they must be paid before sunset
- If pay time arrives at night, they must be paid during that night

If one does not have the money to pay, one loses the Mitzva, but does not transgress. However, the correct thing to do is to borrow money so as to pay wages on time.

If the local custom is not to pay immediately, or the contract stipulates that pay day will be a few days after the job is completed (or until an invoice arrives), then one does not transgress if one waited, but one does lose the Mitzva of paying on the same day.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 185:2-3

- Danny
Tuesday, 20 Iyar 5771 - 35th day of the Omer

Monday, May 23, 2011

Halocho #809 - Paying wages on time

Of the the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah is to pay wages on time as it says (in Devarim 24:15) בְּיוֹמוֹ תִתֵּן שְׂכָרוֹ - "on the same day you shall pay the worker's wage".

If the job ended during the daytime and one delays payment past sunset, one has forfeited this Mitzva and also transgressed the prohibition of וְלֹא תָבוֹא עָלָיו הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ (ibid) - "and the sun should not set on the worker being unpaid".

If the job ended during the night and one didn't pay the worker during that night, then one has forfeited this Mitzva and also transgressed the prohibition of לֹא תָלִין פְּעֻלַּת שָׂכִיר אִתְּךָ עַד בֹּקֶר - (Vayikra 19:13) - "do not keep the worker's wages until morning".

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 185:2

- Danny
Monday, 19 Iyar 5771 - 34th day of the Omer

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Halocho #808 - Shaving and haircuts the Jewish way

The Torah prohibits men from removing their Peiyot.

The Peiyot-area is the hair in the triangular area from the top of the ear to the forehead to the bottom of the ear.

According to some opinions even cutting the Peiyot very close to the skin with scissors is forbidden.

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

Men may not shave their beard 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 Peiyot for him either.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 170:1-2

- Danny
Sunday, 18 Iyar 5771 - 33rd day of the Omer - Lag B'Omer

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Halocho #807 - Haircuts tomorrow

Lag B'Omer - the 33rd day of the Omer - will be on Sunday. No Tachanun is said on Sunday, and צִדְקָתְךָ צֶדֶק is not said on Shabbat at Mincha.

One may have haircuts on Friday (tomorrow) already, in honor of Shabbat.
All other customs of mourning are to be observed until the morning of Lag B'Omer.

Those who have the custom to mourn from Rosh Chodesh Iyar, resume the mourning customs after Lag B'Omer.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:6, 7

Note: Many Sefardim only stop the mourning on the 34th day of the Omer and don't allow haircuts on Friday.

Shabbat Shalom
- Danny

Thursday, 15 Iyar 5771 - 30th day of the Omer

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Halocho #806 - Today is Pessach Sheni

Today - Wednesday - is Pessach Sheni - the 2nd Pessach.

In the time of the Bet Hamikdash, if a person couldn't bring the Korban Pessach on Erev Pessach, they have a 2nd chance a month later.

In the afternoon of 14th Iyar they would bring the Korban Pessach and roast it. After nightfall they would eat it with Matza and Marror. The leftovers were burnt the next morning.

Unfortunately this year we again missed both chances to bring the Korban Pessach.

Source: Bamidbar 9:9-12

Wednesday, 14 Iyar 5771 - 29th day of the Omer
- Danny

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Halocho #805 - Neighbors's wall; is it yours?

One may not do activities in one's own property that would cause damage to the neighbors.

One may not pour water or other liquids - even from a drainpipe - near the neighbors's wall.

One may not store warm things near a neighbors's wall - including compost - as the heat damages the wall.

In both these cases one has to move the potential damage away; at least 3 Tefachim (24 cm, 9") from the wall.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 183:7

- Danny
Tuesday, 13 Iyar 5771 - 28th day of the Omer

Monday, May 16, 2011

Halocho #804 - Mind your own business

One should not stare at a field that is ripe and ready to be harvested, so as not to cause damage by Ayin Hora.

(Ayin Hora: Being somewhat envious of other's success, triggering a heavenly judgement which causes that success to become a failure.)

Obviously one may not stare at other people with the intent of causing them an Ayin Hora.

Similarly one should not watch other people at work if they do not want to be watched.

The correct behavior when seeing busy people is to wish them success and bless them with prosperity.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 183:6

- Danny
Monday, 12 Iyar 5771 - 27th day of the Omer

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Halocho #803 - Don't forget to count the Omer

If you forget to count the Omer at night, then you should count the next day - but without a Bracha. You then continue counting (at night) as usual with a Bracha.

If you forgot to count during the night as well as the following day, then you should still continue counting the Omer, but you may no longer make the Bracha.

If you're unsure if you counted the previous night, you may continue counting with a Bracha.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:2

- Danny
Sunday, 11 Iyar 5771 - 26th day of the Omer

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Halocho #801 - What day of the Omer is it today?

Before making the Bracha on counting the Omer, one should know which day one is going to count.

If one has not yet counted the Omer, and somebody wants to know which day we're up to, you should tell them "yesterday was day such-and-such".

If, instead, you replied "today is such-and-such" you may not be allowed to make a Bracha on that night's count, since you already counted.

However, you should still count "properly" (without a Bracha) since you have to mention the weeks as well as the days.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:3

- Danny
Wednesday, 7 Sivan 5771 22nd day of the Omer

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Halocho #800 - Celebrating miracles

If one experiences a miracle, one should celebrate the day of the miracle every year.

On this day one should set aside time to thank Hashem for the miracle and to talk about the miracle.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 61:3

- Danny Wednesday,
5 Iyar 5769, 21st day of the Omer - יום העצמאות

Monday, May 9, 2011

Halocho #799 - Bracha on entering a cemetery

When entering a Jewish cemetery - or seeing Jewish graves, one says a Bracha.

This Bracha is  only said if one has not seen Jewish graves in the past 30 days.

The Bracha is:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶתְכֶם בַּדִין, וְזָן וְכִלְכֵּל אֶתְכֶם בַּדִין
וְהֵמִית אֶתְכֶם בַּדִין, וְיוֹדֵעַ מִסְפַּר כֻּלְּכֶם בַּדִין
וְהוּא עָתִיד לְהַחֲיוֹתכֶם וְלַקַיֵם אֶתְכֶם בַּדִין
 בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' מְחַיֵה הַמֵּתִים

"Blessed are you Hashem, Our Gcd, King of the universe,
Who fashioned you with justice, nourished and sustained you with justice,
took your lives with justice, and knows the sum total of you all with justice,
and He will restore and resuscitate you with judgment.
Blessed are you Hashem, Who resuscitates the dead.

One then continues with:

אַתָּה גִּבּוֹר לְעוֹלָם, אֲד-נָי. מְחַיֵּה מֵתִים אַתָּה, רַב לְהוֹשִׁיעַ. מְכַלְכֵּל חַיִּים בְּחֶסֶד, מְחַיֵּה מֵתִים בְּרַחֲמִים רַבִּים, סוֹמֵךְ נוֹפְלִים, וְרוֹפֵא חוֹלִים, וּמַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים, וּמְקַיֵּם אֱמוּנָתוֹ לִישֵׁנֵי עָפָר. מִי כָמוֹךָ בַעַל גְּבוּרוֹת, וּמִי דוֹמֶה לָּךְ, מֶלֶךְ מֵמִית וּמְחַיֶּה וּמַצְמִיחַ יְשׁוּעָה. וְנֶאֱמָן אַתָּה לְהַחֲיוֹת מֵתִים

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:11

- Danny
Monday, 5 Sivan 5771 - 20th day of the Omer

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Halocho #798 - BeHaB; another fast?

The custom is to say extra Selichot on the first "Monday, Thursday and Monday" in the month following Pessach and Sukkoth.

Some communities do this on the last "Monday, Thursday and Monday" of the month.

Since Monday is "Yom Sheni" or "Yom Bet - ב" and Thursday is "Yom Chamishi" or "Yom Heh - ה" these days are referred to as BeHaB - בה"ב

Some people have the custom to fast on BeHaB.

A special Mi-Sheberach was recited on Shabbat before the Torah was returned to the Aron Hakodesh to bless those who will fast.

Despite being a "private" (not communal) fast day, a person need not "declare his intention to fast" during the Mincha-Amida of the preceding day, if he answered Amen to the Mi-Sheberach.

Yet, answering Amen to the Mi-Sheberach does not oblige one to fast.

Even if one intended to fast when answering Amen and then on the designated day there was a Se'udat Mitzva (e.g. Brit Mila or Siyum or Pidyon HaBen) one should join the meal and not fast.

However, if one "declared his intention to fast" during the Mincha-Amida of the preceding day, then one needs to fast.

Tomorrow (Monday), and Thursday and next week Monday are BeHaB in most communities.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 127:3, 14

- Danny
Sunday, 4 Sivan 5771 - 19th day of the Omer

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Halocho #797 - Tefillin on Rosh Chodesh

Men wear Tefillin (phylacteries) every day during Shacharit (morning prayers) except for Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Rosh Chodesh has some aspects of a Yom Tov, yet work is permitted.

Tefillin are worn on Rosh Chodesh during Shacharit, Hallel and the Torah reading. They are removed before starting Mussaf.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 10:19

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom
- Danny
Thursday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5771 - 16th day of the Omer

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Halocho #796 - Ya'aleh VeYavo - it's Rosh Chodesh!

Today (Wednesday) and tomorrow are Rosh Chodesh Iyar.

One needs to add Ya'a'leh VeYavo - יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא  in the 17th Bracha of the Amida - רצה.

If one forgot to do so during the Amida of Ma'ariv (evening prayers) - on either day - one does not need to make amends; since the Sanhedrin did not sanctify the month at night.

If one forgot to do so during Shachrit (morning prayers) or Mincha (afternoon prayers), then one has to return to the 17th Bracha of the Amida - רצה and make amends.

If one already finished the Amida - by saying Yihyu leRatzon - יהיו לרצון - then one needs to restart the Amida.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 19:10

Chodesh Tov
- Danny
Wednesday, 1st day Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5771 - 15th day of the Omer

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Halocho #795 - Don't forget Ya'aleh Veyavo on Rosh Chodesh

Tonight - Tuesday night - is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar.

On Rosh Chodesh one should add Ya'aleh Veyavo during the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.

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:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר נָתַן רָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְזִכָּרוֹן

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

Chodesh Tov!
Tuesday, 29 Nissan 5771 - 14th day of the Omer

Monday, May 2, 2011

Halocho #794 - Mourning during the Omer

During the Omer period, the great sage Rabbi Akiva (who lived during and after the destruction of the second Temple) lost almost all of his thousands of Torah students; reducing Torah Scholars to a handful.

As a result, 33 days of the Omer are customarily observed as days of mourning, during which weddings and haircuts are forbidden.

One may get engaged during the Omer and even celebrate with a meal, but dancing and music is not allowed.

The Sandek, Mohel and father of the newborn may take haircuts the day before the Brit.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:6 - 9

- Danny
Monday, 28 Nissan 5771 - 13th day of the Omer

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Halocho #793 - Work during the Omer

The custom is not do any work from sunset until after one has counted the Omer.

This applies to men and women.

This is hinted to in the verse (Shmot 23:15) which refers to the 7 weeks of the Omer-counting as "Sheva Shabbatot" - using the word "Shabbat" instead of weeks. 

 וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם, מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת, מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת-עוֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה: שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת, תְּמִימוֹת תִּהְיֶינָה

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:10

- Danny
Sunday, 27 Nissan 5771 - 12th day of the Omer