On each of the 4 corners of a Tallis there are 4 strings threaded through the hole. The resulting 8 strings are knotted and twisted one-third of their length and two-thirds is left as tassels.
If one of the 8 tassels gets cut off - even completely - the Tzitzit are still Kosher. If two of the 8 tassels get cut off the Tzitzit may no longer be Kosher. A tassel shorter than 4 "thumbs" - about 8-10 cm is considered "cut off".
Each tassel of the Tzitzit is made of multiple strands of wool twisted together. If Tzitzit start untwisting then the frayed section doesn't count as part of the minimal length.
If the Tzitzit get ripped out of the hole they are hanging on, they cannot be put back in; they have to be untied and then re-tied after the hole is repaired.
If a Tallis rips into 2 pieces - or a corner gets ripped off - then the Tzitzit on the smaller piece have to be re-tied after the pieces are sewn back together.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 9:13, 15.
Tuesday, 20 Iyar 5773 - 35th day of the Omer
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013
The Torah says that a firstborn male donkey has Kedusha (some holiness) and may not be used until it is redeemed; by giving a Cohen a sheep or goat in its stead.
The result is a donkey for the owner and a sheep (or goat) for the Cohen, both without any Kedusha.
The sheep or goat can be male or female, of any age and any physical condition as long as it's alive.
If one does not want to redeem the firstborn donkey, the Torah instructs one to chop off its head and bury it. It is preferable to redeem it rather than killing it.
A firstborn male donkey belonging to a Cohen or Levite does not need to be redeemed. (As opposed to a firstborn Kosher animal that has Kedusha even if belonging to a Cohen or Levite.)
One should not sell (part of) first-time pregnant donkeys to a non-Jew, as one would be exempting oneself from a Mitzva, of either redeeming or killing it.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 178
Monday, 19 Iyar 5773 - 34th day of the Omer
Sunday, April 28, 2013
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
Sunday, 18 Iyar 5773 - 33rd day of the Omer - Lag B'Omer
Thursday, April 25, 2013
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.
Thursday, 15 Iyar 5773 - 30th day of the Omer
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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 5773 - 29th day of the Omer
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
If a Kosher animal that has never given birth - and belongs only to a Jew - gives birth to a male, the calf has Kedusha (some holiness) and needs to be given to a Cohen, even nowadays.
This first-born animal may not be used for any work, and its wool may not be sheared, nor used if it fell off.
In the time of the Bet Hamikdash (Temple) the animal would be brought as a sacrifice, with most of the meat being eaten by the Cohen.
Nowadays the Cohen needs to keep it until it gets a permanent blemish, at which time anybody can help eat it. The Cohen may not blemish it.
It's a Mitzva to sell part of all first-time pregnant kosher animals to a non-Jew so that the calf - if it's a male - will not have any Kedusha; avoiding the possibility of it not being treated properly.
Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 177
Tuesday, 13 Iyar 5773 - 28th day of the Omer
Monday, April 22, 2013
For 3 years after planting a tree, one may not eat its fruit, nor derive any benefit from the fruit, peels or pits. This is a Torah prohibition and applies to trees planted anywhere on the planet by anybody.
How to count these 3 years:
- Trees planted until Tu B'av (15th of the month of Av; 45 days before Rosh Hashana) have their first birthday on Rosh Hashana, and 2 years later turn "three years old".
- Trees planted less than 45 days before Rosh Hashana need to count three years from their first Rosh Hashana. The laws of Orlo apply to trees grown from shoots or pits, and sometimes to trees that have been replanted.
A tree that has was cut and its stump is less than 1 tefach (about 9 cm) high becomes Orlo again.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 173:1,3,4
Monday, 12 Iyar 5773 - 27th day of the Omer
Sunday, April 21, 2013
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. In Israel, Chol Hamoed Pessach starts on 16th Nissan, in the Diaspora on the 17th Nissan.
The Torah prohibition of eating Chodosh applies to grain grown on Jewish land, according to all opinions. 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
Sunday, 11 Iyar 5773 - 26th day of the Omer
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Close to candle-lighting time one should ensure that Challa has been separated from the loaves to be used during Shabbat, and then one should announce that it's Candle Lighting Time. All this should be done calmly and pleasantly.
Before leaving the house on Friday afternoon, one should check ones pockets to make sure they don’t contain objects that are Muktza.
In places without an Eruv - where carrying is forbidden - one must ensure one pockets are empty every time one wants to step outside.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:22-23.
Thursday, 8 Iyar 5773 - 23rd day of the Omer
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
This Shabbat we read a double Parsha; אַחֲרֵי מוֹת and קְדוֹשִׁים.
When there is a double Parsha, we usually read the Haftara of the second Parsha, except for Acharei-Mot with Kedoshim
This week we will read the Haftara of אַחֲרֵי מוֹת which is from Amos Ch. 9:7 - הֲלוֹא כִבְנֵי כֻשִׁיִּים
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 79:6
Sefardim read the Haftara of Kedoshim this week.
Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 128
Monday, 7 Iyar 5773 - 22nd day of the Omer
Monday, April 15, 2013
If you forget to count the Omer at night, then you should count during the next day - but without a Bracha. You can 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 each night, 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
Monday, 5 Iyar 5773 - 20th day of the Omer
Sunday, April 14, 2013
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
Sunday, 4 Iyar 5773 - 19th day of the Omer
Thursday, April 11, 2013
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
Thursday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5773 - 16th day of the Omer
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Rosh Chodesh is a "minor" Yom Tov - and after Shacharit one adds the abridged Hallel, Torah Reading and Mussaf.
All types of work are permitted on Rosh Chodesh.
Some women have a family custom to not do certain types of work on Rosh Chodesh. This is a valid custom and they may not disregard it.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 97:3
Wednesday, 1st Day Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5773, 15th day of the Omer
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Tonight - Tuesday night - is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar.
On Rosh Chodesh one should add Ya'aleh Veyavo - יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא - during the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.
If one forgot יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא during Birkat Hamazon (during the day or night), and one remembers before starting the last Bracha, one can say:
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
Tuesday, 29 Nissan 5773 - 14th day of the Omer
Monday, April 8, 2013
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
Monday, 28 Nissan 5773 - 13th day of the Omer
Sunday, April 7, 2013
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.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 120:10
Sunday, 27 Nissan 5773 - 12th day of the Omer
Thursday, April 4, 2013
The Minhag is to bake one's own bread for Shabbos, thereby allowing the housewife to separate "Challah".
One should make 3 sizes: The medium sized loaf is eaten Friday night, the bigger one on Shabbat morning and the smaller one at the 3rd meal (Se'udat Shlishit).
One should taste all Shabbat food on Friday to ensure it's tasty.
One may not eat a meal after mid-afternoon on Friday, so as not to spoil one's appetite for the Friday night meal.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:6, 7, 10
This week is Shabbbat Mevarchim; Rosh Chodesh Iyar will be on Wednesday and Thursday.
- Danny, in Jerusalem
Thursday, 24 Nissan 5773 - 9th day of the Omer
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
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:
One counts both days and weeks, as the Torah says (Vayikra 23:15-16):
"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, in Jerusalem
Wednesday, 23 Nissan 5773 - 8th day of the Omer
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
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, 22 Nissan 5773 - 7th day of the Omer