Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Halocho #898 - Warning! The King is arriving!

A main theme of Rosh Hashanah is Hashem's reign over the entire world. This sovereignty is displayed by His ability to judge the world.

As a result, from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippour is over, we replace "Gcd" with "King" in various places in davening (prayers).

1. The ending of the 3rd Bracha of the Amida changes to HaMelech HaKadosh. If you forget, you have to restart the Amida, unless you caught yourself immediately. (Immediately means: you didn't yet have time to say 3 words.) If you're not sure what you said, you also have to restart the Amida.

2. The end of the 11th Bracha in the weekday Amida changes to HaMelech HaMishpat. If you forget or are not sure what you said then you continue. No correction is needed.

3. Friday night during the "Magen Avot" we replace "HakEl HaKodesh" with HaMelech HaKadosh. If you forget, no correction is needed.

From Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippour is over we add four phrases to the Amida. If you forget after concluding that Bracha, no correction is needed. Until saying "Baruch Ata" you should make amends.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:3, 4 5

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a sweet and healthy year.

- Danny
Wednesday, Erev Rosh Hashana, 29 Elul 5771

Clarification: Eruv Tavshilin can be done on bread or Matza.

==> Do a Mitzva: Call a friend and remind them to do Eruv Tavshilin.<==

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Halocho #897 - Don't forget: Eruv Tavshilin

One may not prepare from Yom Tov to Shabbat unless one does Eruv Tavshilin before Yom Tov.

Since Rosh Hashana is on Thursday & Friday, every household needs to do Eruv Tavshilin sometime on Wednesday before candle lighting.

One takes bread or Matza and a cooked or baked food that will be eaten on Shabbat and one says the Bracha:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל מִצְוַת עֵרוּב

One continues with the following, which must be said in a language one understands:

בַּהֲדֵין עֵרוּבָא יְהֵא שָׁרֵא לָנָא לַאֲפוּיֵי, וּלְבַשּׁוּלֵי, וּלְאַטְמוּנֵי, וּלְאַדְלוּקֵי שְׁרָגָא, וּלִמֶעְבֵּד כָּל צָרְכָּנָא מִיּוֹמָא טָבָא לְשַׁבְּתָא

"With this Eruv we are permitted to bake, cook, keep things warm and light fire and do all that is needed from Yom Tov to Shabbat".

The Eruv Tavshilin food should be kept in a safe place; it they are eaten before Shabbat, a Rabbi should be consulted how to proceed.

Even those who don't have to cook for Shabbat, still need to do Eruv Tavshilin in order to light Shabbat candles on Friday before sunset (from an existing flame).

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 102

- Danny
Tuesday, 28 Elul 5771

==> Add a reminder to your calendar to do Eruv Tavshilin tomorrow

Monday, September 26, 2011

Halocho #896 - The symbolic Rosh Hashanah menu

At the Rosh Hashanah evening meal it's customary to eat foods that symbolize a Good New Year. The bread from Motzi is dipped in honey and after eating it the Yehi Ratzon is said praying for a sweet new year.

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ שֶתְחַדֵש עָלֵינוּ שָנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה

Then one dips an apple in honey, says the Bracha on the apple ("Borei Pri HaEtz") and eats some. One then says the Yehi Ratzon again.

There are various other foods that are eaten with their appropriate Yehi Ratzon; one may even add new ones.

One tries to have only sweet items on the menu; no food cooked in vinegar, for example. The custom is to not eat nuts.

One should remember to learn some Torah at the Yom Tov meals; some learn a chapter of Mishna-Rosh-Hashanah, which has 4 chapters; one for each meal.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:9

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a sweet new year

- Danny
Monday, 27 Elul 5771

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Halocho #895 - What should I think about when hearing the Shofar?

The blast of the Shofar should remind us to awaken from our spiritual slumber and start taking our Torah study and Mitzvah observance seriously.

Hearing the Shofar being blown on Rosh Hashanah is a Torah commandment!

This crucial detail should not be forgotten when reflecting on the various symbolic reasons given for Shofar blowing.

One should not talk after hearing the Brachah on the Shofar until after hearing 100 blasts from the Shofar so as not to interrupt between the Bracha and fulfilling the Mitzvah as prescribed by Chazal. This means not talking until after Mussaf.

(As a general rule one shouldn't ever talk during prayer services. On Rosh Hashanah there's another reason why not to so.)

At a minimum one should be careful not to talk after the Bracha until hearing the first set of 30 Shofar blasts.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:15

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah,

- Danny
Sunday, 26 Elul 5771

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Halocho #894 - Does one say Shehechiyanu on candle-lighting?

The blessing of Shehechiyanu; - "... who has kept us alive, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion" - is recited during Kiddush on all nights of Yom Tov, except on the last days of Pessach. There are two Minhagim (customs) regarding Shehechiyanu at candle-lighting on Yom Tov candles:

- Some women have the Minhag of saying Shehechiyanu when lighting Yom-Tov candles (except on the last days of Pessach)

- Others never say Shehechiyanu at candle-lighting

If a woman makes her own Kiddush she must be careful to only say Shehechiyanu once; either at candle-lighting or during Kiddush.

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah there's a Halachic debate if Shehechiyanu is required. To be on the safe side, one should wear a new item of clothing, or see a new fruit (that one hasn't tasted yet this season) while saying Shehechiyanu on the second night of Rosh Hashanah; both during Kiddush and during candle lighting (if applicable).

If one does not have a new item of clothing, nor a new fruit, on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, one still says Shehechiyanu.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:4, 129:23

K'tiva V'chatima Tova; wishing you a year full of happy tidings

- Danny
Thursday, 23 Elul 5771

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Halocho #893 - Chol Hamo'ed; Chol or Mo'ed?

The intermediary days of Pessach and Sukkot are known as Chol Hamo'ed. Some types of work are permitted, others are forbidden.

Chazal (our Rabbis of blessed memory) have some harsh words for those who don't honour Chol Hamo'ed properly. Honouring Chol Hamo'ed includes eating meals and wearing clothes that are closer to Yom Tov standards than regular weekday standards.

On Chol Hamo'ed one may do all work needed to prevent a monetary loss.

Preparing food for Chol Hamo'ed or the last days of Yom Tov is allowed.

Gardening is forbidden besides for picking fruit for Chol Hamo'ed or Yom Tov, and to prevent plants dying, e.g. if they need to be irrigated. Planting is forbidden.

Cutting hair is forbidden on Chol Hamo'ed. Cutting nails is only allowed if one also cut them before Yom Tov.

Writing down information so that it won't be forgotten is allowed. Writing letters to friends and family is allowed. The custom is to write the first line at an angle as a reminder that writing is only partially permitted.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 104.

Ktiva Vechatima Tova

- Danny
Wednesday, 22 Elul 5771

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Halocho #892 - Lefties In Halacha

Go to for a full overview of all Halachot related to lefties.

Regarding the Lulav and Etrog, this is what he writes:

According to the Mechaber (Rav Yosef Cairo, author of the Shulchan Aruch) a left handed person follows the same procedure and holds the Lulav in the right hand and the Esrog in the left hand, as since the Lulav has in it three Mitzvos (i.e. 3 of the 4 species) and the Esrog is only one Mitzvah, the item with more Mitzvos is held in the more highly regarded hand. Most Sephardic Jews follow this ruling. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 651:3 and Mishna Berura S"K 18)

However, the Rama (ibid.) rules that left handed people should switch the order and hold the Lulav in their strong hand (left) and the Esrog in their weaker hand (right). Most Ashkenazic Jews follow this ruling.

An ambidextrous person should take the Lulav in his right hand and the Esrog in the left hand. (ibid.)

If the Lulav was held in the wrong hand, the obligation has been satisfied (Rama ibid.)

However, if it was taken in the wrong hands it is best to be stringent and take the Lulav and Esrog again in the correct hands without reciting a new Bracha. (Mishna Berura S"K 19)

Many left handed people are stringent after taking the Lulav in their left and the Esrog in their right (or vice versa) to repeat the process the other way around (without a new Bracha) to satisfy the rulings of both the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama. (See Kaf HaChaim 651:38. See also Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 2 page 288 that the Steipler Zatzal, who was a lefty and an Ashkenazi, followed the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch regarding this Halacha and not the Rama)

Go to for a full overview of all Halachot related to lefties, including what lefties do in the following cases:
- The groom uses his right hand to hold the ring and to place it onto the right index finger of the bride
- When putting on shoes in the morning, one first puts on the right shoe, but first ties the left one
- When putting on an article of clothing, one should start with coveringthe right side
- The right hand should be washed first
- Holding the Tzitzis in one's left hands, near the heart, during the recitation of Krias Shma
- Tefilin which are bound to the left arm
- Covering one's eyes with the right hand when saying the first Pasuk of Shma
- After completing Shemona Esrei, bowing to the right, then to the left
- Handing over and holding or carrying a Sefer Torah with one's right hand
- A "Kos Shel Bracha" - the cup of wine should be held in one's right hand
- At the Seder, there is a Mitzvah to eat  while leaning on one's left
- Tearing Kriah for mourners
- The Shofar should be placed on the right side of one's mouth
- Vidui; pounding one's heart with the right hand
- When setting up and holding the Arba Minim, the three Hadasim (myrtle) should be tied onto the right side

All the halachot at are based on a Sefer titled "Ish Iter- The left handed person" by haRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita

- Danny
Tuesday, 21 Elul 5771

Monday, September 19, 2011

Halocho #891 - If it rains, does one sleep in the Sukkah?

Since the Mitzvah of Sukkah is to move out of the house and into the Sukkah for the duration of Sukkoth, one should really sleep in the Sukkah.

People who are meticulous about their Mitzvah observance will not even take a nap outside the Sukkah. Their entire family moves into the Sukkah; husband, wife and children.

There are numerous reasons why not to sleep in a Sukkah. However, if the Sukkah is not fit for sleeping (e.g. it's too dangerous) then the Sukkah is not Kosher even for eating in.

The slightest precipitation renders the Sukkah unfit for sleeping and one should then sleep indoors. Once one lies down inside one is exempt from returning to the Sukkah the entire night, even if the Sukkah subsequently dries.

Women are exempt from the Mitzvah of Sukkah, as it's a time-bound Mitzvah.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 135:8, 9, 10

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year with lots of time to learn Torah,

- Danny
Monday, 20 Elul 5771

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Halocho #890 - Tell me about the Lulav

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzvah to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog.

The Lulav is a palm branch that is still closed. Once the leaves start fanning out, it's no longer a Lulav.

A Lulav has a spine from which the leaves protrude; this spine needs to be facing you when you shake the four species. The Lulav spine should be straight, a slight curvature towards you is allowed.

The Lulav spine must be at least 4 Tefachim (32 cm - 13") long. This is measured from the bottom of the lowest "leaf" to the bottom of the highest "leaf".

Each "leaf" is made of 2 parts that are connected (and will eventually open up into a V-shaped palm leaf). If these double-leaves start separating then the Lulav may no longer be Kosher. Special care should be taken that the highest leaves remain coupled.

Source: Shulchan Aruch 645. Ktiva Vechatima Tova

- Danny
Sunday, 19 Elul 5771

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Halocho #889 - May one smell an Etrog?

One does not shake the four species on Shabbat.

The Lulav, Haddasim and Aravot are Muktza on Shabbat.

The Etrog is not Muktza and one may smell it on Shabbat - after making the Bracha of:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
הַנּוֹתֵן רֵיחַ טוֹב בַּפֵּרוֹת

On the other days of Sukkoth one should not smell the Etrog.

One should not smell the Haddasim during the entire 7 days of Sukkoth.

An Etrog may be returned to its wrapping on Shabbat and Yom Tov, but may not be wrapped in a new wrapper - since the wrapper will absorb the aroma of the Etrog - and one may not add aroma to materials on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 137:7

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 16 Elul 5771

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Halocho #888 - Tell me about the Aravot

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzvah to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog.

The Arava comes from a known type of willow tree with long leaves, non-serrated edges, and its bough turns red when mature.

The Arava must be at least 3 Tefachim (24 cm - 10") long.

If possible one should get Aravot from a tree that grows alongside a river.

Willows dry up very quickly. A wilted Arava is not Kosher. Some say that once its leaves start drooping it is not fresh enough to be a Kosher Arava.

Many have the Minhag to get fresh Aravot every day of Chol Hamo'ed Sukkoth.

An Arava is no longer Kosher if most of its leaves have come off, or its tip is cut off.

This can happen if they are wilted, have been shaken too hard or while replacing them.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 136:5, 6, 7 and 137:6

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a healthy, wealthy year to come,

- Danny
Wednesday, 15 Elul 5771

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Halocho #887 - Tell me about the Haddas - Myrtle?

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzvah to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog.

Each Haddas is a branch of a myrtle bush, and must be at least 3 Tefachim (24 cm - 10") long.

Myrtle leaves grow on the stem in groups of three or more. A Kosher Haddas needs to be Meshulash; with each group of leaves growing out of the branch at exactly the same height.

Preferably the Haddas should be Meshulash its entire length, though it's Kosher if only the top half is Meshulash.

The entire Haddas needs to be covered in leaves, the top of the lower leaves must reach the bottom of the higher ones.

Myrtle bushes have berries growing on them. A Haddas should not have any berries on it; berries should be removed (with their stems) before Yom Tov.

Make sure that the top of the Haddas is not cut off, it usually ends in a set of tiny leaves.

Haddasim need to be kept fresh; dried out Haddasim are not Kosher.

Source: Shulchan Aruch 646.

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; wishing you a year full of good news,

- Danny
Tuesday, 14 Elul 5771

Monday, September 12, 2011

Halocho #886 - Tell me about the Etrog

On Sukkoth there's a Mitzvah to shake the four species; a Lulav, 3 Haddasim, 2 Aravot and an Etrog.

The Etrog is a citron; Citrus Medica.

It is held in one's left hand when shaking the four species, with the stem (where it was cut off the tree) facing downwards.

By nature the Etrog tree is very soft (mine buckled during a light Jerusalem snow storm), therefore it is often grafted onto other trees to make it stronger. An Etrog from a grafted tree cannot be used when shaking the four species.

(Grafted fruit is Kosher to eat, despite the prohibition against grafting trees.)

The Etrog needs to be whole; scratches and dents may invalidate it.

The Etrog should not have dark dots on it, though it may have light scabs that are a result of leaves and thorns brushing against it while it grows. (Etrog trees have thorns that grow to about 2" long.)

The "nose" of the the Etrog - from where it starts getting narrow - should be perfectly clean.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 174:2, Shulchan Aruch 648

Ktiva Vechatima Tova

- Danny
Monday, 13 Elul 5771

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Halocho #885 - Understanding one's prayers

During Elul one gets ready for the upcoming Days of Judgement (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) with a three-pronged approach:

  1. Teshuva; repenting. Improving one's Mitzva observance.
  2. Tefilla; praying. Asking Hashem for help and praising and thanking Him for being good to us.
  3. Tzedaka; giving charity to those less fortunate than ourselves.

In order to pray properly one needs to understand what one is saying. If one is not fluent in Hebrew, one should get a Siddur and Machzor with an English translation.

One should remember that one is praying - talking - to the One Above. If one's thoughts wander during prayers one should pause and recollect one's thoughts.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 18: 3-4.

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; with wishes for a Happy New Year,

- Danny
Sunday, 12 Elul 5771

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Halocho #884 - Vinegar

Vinegar made from non-Kosher wine or grape juice is not Kosher.

Vinegar made from Kosher wine or grape juice that was not boiled, can still become non-Kosher if a non-Jew touches it, unless it's so strong that it bubbles when poured onto the ground.

On Shabbat it's forbidden to add liquids into vinegar with the intent of making more vinegar.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:56, 47:10

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 9 Elul 5771

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Halocho #883 - Are your Mezuzot Kosher?

Some people have the custom to get their Tefillin and Mezuzot checked yearly during the month of Elul.

At the very least one should check one's Mezuzot twice every 7 years.

Tefillin that are used daily do not need to be checked unless they get wet. However, one should check them every few years since they do wear out eventually.

Tefillin that are only used occasionally should be checked twice every 7 years.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:3, 11:25, 10:26

Ktiva Vechatima Tova

- Danny
Wednesday, 8 Elul 5771

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Halocho #882 - Talking can kill you!

According to some opinions, today (7 Elul) the 10 spies died as a punishment for talking evil about the land of Israel.

Any speech that can result in a person being harmed - emotionally, financially or otherwise - even if it's accurate - is usually forbidden.

When there's a real need for the information to be passed along - e.g. to prevent harm to others - it is often permitted to relay the information. One needs to learn the Halachot of when this applies, since sometimes it's forbidden to withhold the information, other times it's forbidden to relay the information.

Source: Orach Chaim 580:2, Chofetz Chaim, Hil. Shmiras Halashon, Intro.

Ktiva Vechatima Tova

- Danny
Tuesday, 7 Elul 5771

Monday, September 5, 2011

Halocho #881 - Excel in one Mitzva

Doing Teshuva - repenting - is a Mitzva mentioned in the Torah.

Even though Hashem is prepared to accept our Teshuva all year round, the days from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippour are an auspicious period for improving ones ways.

This dates back to when Moshe went up to Har Sinai to receive the second set of Luchot; Moshe went up on Rosh Chodesh Elul and returned 40 days later on Yom Kippour with the second set of Luchot.

At the very least one should choose one Mitzva or Halacho to improve on during this period.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128: 1

Ktiva Vechatima Tova

- Danny
Monday, 6 Elul 5771

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Halocho #880 - Good year wishes

From the beginning of the month of Elul until after Yom Kippur, one should add seasonal greetings when writing to friends. 

This can be done at the start or end of the letter. 

One should wish them - or bless them - with a good year; to be inscribed in the book of good life. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128: 2

Ktiva Vechatima Tova; with wishes for a year full of blessings

- Danny
Sunday, 5 Elul 5771

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Halocho #879 - Removing nails and hangnails on Shabbat

One may not cut off hangnails on Shabbat; not with an instrument, nor by hand and not even by biting it off.

(Hangnail: A small piece of dead skin at the side or the base of a fingernail that is partly detached from the rest of the skin.)

One may not cut nails on Shabbat. If a nail is partly disconnected it may not be detached on Shabbat.

If a nail is almost completely detached - and will eventually fall off - and it's causing discomfort, one can remove it by hand but not with an instrument.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:55

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 2 Elul 5771