Thursday, January 31, 2013

Halocho #1036 - Shabbat clothes

One should make an effort to have nicer clothes for Shabbos - including a nicer Tallit. 

Even if one is spending Shabbat in solitude one should wear Shabbat clothes, since wearing nice Shabbat clothes is done to honor the Shabbat. 

Before Shabbat comes in one needs to check one's pockets for Muktza items, and if there's no Eruv (and one can’t carry outside) to ensure they're empty. 

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:16, 23

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 20 Shvat 5773

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Halocho #1035 - Replicating the Temple vessels

One may not build a house using the measurements of the Bet Hamikdash, nor a courtyard the size of its courtyards. (These measurements can be found in Tractate Midot.) 

One may not make a table identical to the one in the Bet Hamikdash. (Measurements and materials are in Parshat Terumah) 

One may not have a Menorah identical to the one in the Bet Hamikdash:
- A seven branched Menorah is forbidden even if it's not made of gold, and even if it doesn't have the "flower & cup" designs nor the height of the Menorah described in Parshat Terumah. Reason: These details did not disqualify the Menorah in the Mikdash.

- One may have a 5, 6 or 8 branched Menora.

- A circular candelabrum with 6 arms and a 7th in the middle is questionable. Since this is a Torah prohibition one should be strict and forbid it.

(Note: In Israel most silver manufactures do not manufacture 7 armed candelabras in any configuration.)

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 168:5-6

- Danny
Wednesday, 19 Shvat 5773

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Halocho #1034- Calling idols by name is forbidden

One may not mention the name of idols for any reason - not even as a landmark to meet somebody (as in "meet me next to idol so-and-so") - as it says in (שְׁמוֹת (כ"ג:י"ג:

וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ, לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל-פִּיךָ 
"and the name of other gods do not mention".

One should not cause even a non-Jew to mention the name of his idols, with the exception of having the non-Jew swear in court, where some opinions are lenient. 

Mockery is frowned upon, with the exception of mocking idol worship. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: 167:9, 10

- Danny
Tuesday, 18 Shvat 5773

Monday, January 28, 2013

Halocho #1033– Financing idol worship; is it allowed?

Some say that one may not lend money which will be used for the purchase of building a temple for idol worship or for anything else related to it – and obviously one may not sell such items, and the one who refrains will succeed. 

One may not bind books related to idol worshipers, except for their civil law books. In cases where this would generate animosity one should try worm oneself out of it. 

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 168

- Danny
Monday, 17 Shvat 5773

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Halocho #1032 - May one listen to church music?

It is forbidden to gaze at an idol or its decorations. 

One should keep at least 4 Amot (~2m) from the idol's temple and obviously from the idol itself. 

One may not listen to music being played for an idol; if need be one should block ones ears. 

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: 168:8

- Danny
Sunday, 16 Shvat 5773

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Halocho #1031 - What is Tu B'Shvat all about?

Our Sages have designated the 15th of Shvat - Tu B'Shvat - as the boundary between one year and the next for trees, since (in most years) most of the rain of the winter has already fallen by then.

Any new growth of fruit after this day, is the result of the blessing of the new year.

Tu B'Shvat is the New Year as far as tithing fruits is concerned:

- Fruit from trees that blossomed before Tu B'Shvat belong to the previous year's Trumot & Ma'aser quota.

- Fruit from trees that blossom after Tu B'Shvat belong to the current year's Trumot & Ma'aser quota.

Since Tachanun is omitted on Tu B'Shvat, therefore on Shabbat we will not say אָב הָרַחֲמִים before Mussaf, nor צִדְקָתְךָ צֶדֶק at Mincha.

The custom is to eat more fruit than usual on Tu B'Shvat.

It is customary to pray for a beautiful Kosher Etrog on Tu B'Shvat.

Source: The Book of our Heritage, Vol I, page 346-349, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:8, 139:26. Rosh Hashana Mishna 1:1.

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 13 Shvat 5773

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Halocho #1030 - May one feed the birds on Shabat Shira?

House pets or any other animals that depend on you for their food, must be fed on Shabbat before one starts eating.

Animals that do not rely on humans for their food may not be fed on Shabbat, and one may not even throw them leftovers, with the exception of stray dogs.

One may not feed pigeons as they are capable of fending for themselves.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch holds that the custom to put out grain for the birds on Shabbat Shira (this week) is incorrect since birds do not rely on humans for their food. He allows one to put out grain for them before Shabbat.
Other Rabbis disagree, and allow the Minhag of feeding birds on this Shabbath.

One may feed silkworms on Shabbat.

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 87:18

- Danny
Wednesday, 12 Shvat 5773

Aruch Hashulchan:

יש מתרעמים על המנהג בשבת שירה לזרוק חטין לפני העופות. אבל נראה לי דמנהג ישראל תורה, שהרי אין אנו טורחים 
בשבילם, אלא בשבילנו, דמרגלא בפי ההמון שהעופות אמרו שירה על הים, ולכן אנו מחזירים להם טובה, ואם כן הכוונה כדי לזכור שמחת... שירת הים ולית לן בה, ויש מי שכתב דכיון דכוונתינו לשם מצוה מותר.

The Maharal MiPrague:
שהמלמדים יאספו הילדים בחצר בהכ"נ להודיעם על המנהג לפזר חטים בשבת שירה

Monday, January 21, 2013

Halocho #1029 - - Which Bracha comes first?

This Shabbat will be Tu B'Shvat and customarily lots of fruit will be served.

Which fruit should you choose as the one to hold and make the Bracha on?

- If one has a favorite fruit and it's being offered, it should be used to make the Bracha on.

- If one has no preference then one of the "7 species" has preference.

- If there are none of the 7 species, then one should pick a whole fruit, as opposed to a cut one.

- A Boreh Pri Ha'Etz has precedence over Boreh Pri Ha'Adama (e.g. strawberries and bananas)

The 7 species are (in order of Bracha-precedence): Bread from wheat, cakes from wheat, Wine, Olives, Barley (baked or cooked), Dates, Grapes (in solid form), Figs, Pomegranates.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 55:1 - 3

- Danny
Monday, 10 Shvat 5773

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Halocho #1028 - Benefiting from idols

One may not benefit from anything related to idols, including its decorations, utensils and sacrifices. 

The building it's housed in, the pedestal it stands on and the musical instruments used in its service are all forbidden. Even the leftover candles stubs lit in its honor and the trees planted to enhance its scenery are forbidden to be used. 

Once a non-Jewish idol worshiper destroys his idol, all the above become permitted with the exception of the sacrifices which remain forbidden indefinitely. 

Sources: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 167:1,2

- Danny
Sunday, 9 Shvat 5773

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Halocho #1027 - Fourth year fruit

Orla is the Torah prohibition of eating fruit from trees less than 3 years old. In the 4th year the fruit is called "Neta Reva'i" and needs to be "redeemed" by transferring its status onto a coin, before it can be eaten.

The coin needs to be worth at least a "peruta" (0.025 grams of pure silver; currently a few 2 US pennies.)

One says "I am redeeming the Neta Reva'i into this coin".

The coin is then destroyed and disposed of. Instead of a coin one can use fruit worth a few pennies, which then need to be destroyed.

After redeeming the fruit, the "Neta Reva'i" (4th year fruit) can be eaten, anywhere by anybody.

When in doubt if the tree is less than 4 years old:

In Israel the fruit is forbidden. (This is one of the many reasons that fruit needs Rabbinic Supervision in Israel.)

Outside of Israel the fruit is allowed, as long as you didn’t pick it yourself. This is the way Moshe was given the Halacha at Har Sinai.

Sources: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 173:2, Mishna Orlo, 3:9

- Danny
Wednesday, 5 Shvat 5773

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Halocho #1026 - Grafting trees – Kilayim

It's a Torah prohibition to graft trees with branches from a different type of tree or plant. 

One may graft a tree with a branch of the same type of tree. 

One may not own a grafted tree; it needs to be uprooted. 

One may take a branch from a grafted tree and plant it. 

One may eat the fruit from grafted trees. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 174:1-2

- Danny
Tuesday, 4 Shvat 5773

Monday, January 14, 2013

Halocho #1025 – Mezuza checking

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

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

The Mezuzot on public buildings need to be checked only twice in 50 years. 

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

- Danny
Monday, 3 Shvat 5773

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Halocho #1024 – One animal at a time

The Torah prohibits using different species of animals at the same time. This is called Kil'ay Beheimah. 

One may not pull a wagon with 2 different types of animals, e.g. a donkey and a horse. 

One may not ride in a wagon being pulled by 2 different types of animals. 

One may not even tie 2 different types of animals together to prevent them from escaping; this applies to birds as well. 

One may use a female and male of the same species as well as small and large animals of the same species. E.g. one could pull a wagon with a cow, a bull and a calf. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 175:2, 3, 5

- Danny
Sunday, 2 Shvat 5773

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Halocho #1023 - Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Shevat

Rosh Chodesh of Tevet is on Shabbat. Remember to add יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא into Birkat Hamazon and the Amida.

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 the weekly Parsha; וָאֵרָא.

Then - after Kaddish - we call up the Maftir to read from the 2nd Sefer Torah: וּבְיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת and וּבְרָאשֵׁי חָדְשֵׁיכֶם from Parshat פִּינְחָס.

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

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

Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 425

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 28 Tevet 5773

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Halocho #1022 - Yom Kippour in winter?

Some people have the custom of adding the Yom Kippour Katan prayers during Mincha on the day before Rosh Chodesh.

Some even fast on Erev Rosh Chodesh to atone for the sins of the past month.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 97:1

When Rosh Chodesh is on Shabbat (like this week) or on Sunday, the custom is to have Yom Kippour Katan on Thursday. That would be tomorrow.

- Danny
Wednesday, 27 Tevet 5773

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Halocho #1021 – May one ride a mule?

The Torah forbids mating animals and birds of different species - this is part of Kil'ay Beheima. However there is no obligation to prevent them from mating naturally. 

A mule is the hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. 
A hinny is the hybrid offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. 
The way to tell them apart is by their ears, tails and bray. (Yes. All this is from the Kitzur.) 

One may not use a mule and a hinny together as they are considered as 2 distinct species. 

If their ears, tails and bray are similar then one can assume they are both the same animal. 

There is an opinion that one may not use a mule at all - not even for riding on - as one would be using 2 species simultaneously. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 175:1, 6

- Danny
Tuesday, 26 Tevet 5773

Monday, January 7, 2013

Halocho #1020 – Washing with Snow

If no cup is available for washing one's hands, one can immerse them into a river or into snow, if there's enough snow on the ground to fill a Mikve. (About 500 litres/130 gallons of water.) 

This applies to washing three times after arising as well as washing before eating bread. 
Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:6, 40:7

- Danny
Monday, 25 Tevet 5773

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Halocho #1019 – Educating children is a Mitzva

A father must educate his children to do all Mitzvot (Torah and Rabbinical) that are appropriate to their age.

One also needs to prevent a child from doing any sin which they are capable of relating to, starting with telling the truth, eating only Kosher and not carrying things on Shabbat (in areas where one may not carry, i.e where there is no Eruv.)

A child who stole must return the theft if it exists. If it no longer exists then they needn't return its value even after they becomes an adult. However, in heaven they will be required to account for the theft, so it's recommended to make amends.

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 165:1-6

- Danny
Sunday, 24 Tevet 5773

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Halocho #1018 – Bathing for Shabbat

It's a Mitzva to bathe on Friday with warm water; or at least to wash one's face, hands and feet. It's also a Mitzva to shampoo one's hair, cut one's nails and have a haircut if needed. 

One should not cut finger and toe nails on the same day. 

One doesn't cut [finger] nails on Thursday as then they begin growing (and looking unkempt) on Shabbat. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:12, 14

This week is Shabbat Mevorchim; Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be on the following Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom uMevorach

- Danny
Thursday, 21 Tevet 5773

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Halocho #1017 – Who else get preferential treatment?

A Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar) has preference over a Cohen. Everybody else needs to give preference to the Cohen; he gets called first to the Torah and gets to speak first at functions. At meals the Cohen gets served first and leads the Zimun.

In a business partnership a Cohen does not get preferential treatment. 

One may not use a Cohen to run one's errands nor do other mundane tasks, unless the Cohen has agreed to relinquish his Cohen status for this purpose.
One must stand up for a Torah Scholar even if he's young. 

One must stand up for people over seventy even if they're not Torah Scholars, so long as they're not wicked. Even non-Jews over 70 deserve some show of respect. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 144:2, 8-9

To clarify: A Cohen always gets called to the Torah first, so as to prevent the unpleasantness of people arguing as to whether a specific person is a Talmid Chacham worthy of displacing the Cohen or not.

- Danny,
Wednesday, 20 Tevet 5773

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Halocho #1016 - Honoring Parents and other family members

Honoring parents includes feeding them, clothing and covering them as well as accompanying them. 

All the above must be done cheerfully - as the attitude counts more than the actions; one gets punished for being dour around ones parents even if one treats them with delicacies.

One may not sit nor stand in ones parents designated place in shul or at home or anywhere else where they may have a designated place. 

One may not contradict one's parents. One may not approve of one's parents in their presence (e.g. I see your point) as this indicates that one would have the ability to say otherwise. 

Even if parents insult one in public one may not upset them, though one may take legal action to recuperate any monetary loss they caused.

A person must honor his grandparents, as well as his father's wife and his mother's husband, his father-in-law and his mother-in-law.

A person must honor his older brother; even if he's a half-brother.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:1, 143:3, 19,20

- Danny,
Tuesday, 19 Tevet 5773