Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Halocho #1493 - Laws of fasting

Tomorrow -  Thursday  - will be the fast of the 10th of Tevet - עֲשָׂרָה בטֵבֵת.

The fast begins Thursday at dawn (5:03 in Jerusalem) and ends at nightfall (a few minutes before the time for Motzai Shabbat - 17:07 in Jerusalem).

Pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt from fasting. Anybody who isn't healthy shouldn't fast. When in doubt, consult your LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi).

Children are not allowed to fast.

Those who are not fasting should limit their food intake to the bare minimum; only bread and water if possible.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:2, 9

- Danny
Wednesday, 9 Tevet 5775

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Halocho #1492 - Changes in davening on a fast day

On Thursday will be the fast of the 10th of Tevet - עֲשָׂרָה בטֵבֵת.

On every fast-day there is Kriat HaTorah (Torah Reading) at both Shacharit and Mincha. 

At Mincha, the 3rd Aliya also reads the Haftarah (דִּרְשׁוּ from Yeshayahu 55:6). Only somebody who is fasting should be called up to the Torah on a fast day. 

During the Mincha Amida, individuals add the "עֲנֵנוּ" prayer into the 16th Bracha; שְׁמַע קוֹלֵנוּ. If one forgot, one does not need to make amends. 

The Chazzan adds עֲנֵנוּ during both Shacharit and Mincha, as a separate Bracha before רְפָאֵנוּ. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 23:15, 19:14, 20:8

- Danny
Tuesday, 8 Tevet 5775

Monday, December 29, 2014

Halocho #1491 - Long time no see; make a Bracha

If one is happy when seeing a very dear friend (including spouses, parents, siblings and teachers) after not having seen them for more than 30 days, one makes the Bracha of Shehechiyanu:

"Blessed... who has kept us alive, sustained us and permitted us to reach this occasion."

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
 שֶׁהֶחֱיָינוּ וקִיְּמָנוּ והִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה

One can make this Bracha even if one received letters from them during this time.

If one has not seen them for more than 12 months one makes this Bracha instead:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
מְחַיֵּה הַמֵּתִים
"Blessed... who revives the dead".

This is because anything 12 months old is considered to be forgotten. Therefore, if one communicated with them - or received regards from them - during the past 12 months, one says Bracha of Shehechiyanu.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:20

- Danny
Monday, 7 Tevet 5775

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Halocho #1490 - Is boxing a Kosher sport?

It is forbidden to hit a fellow Jew.

One who hits another Jew has transgressed a Torah prohibition.

Even one who simply lifts his hand with the intent to hit is called "wicked" as we will learn in next week's Parsha (Shmot); "[Moshe] said to the wicked one: Why are you going to hit your friend?" - even before he hit, he was referred to as the wicked one.

Hitting back in self-defense is permitted, if there are no other options.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 184:1

- Danny
Sunday, 6 Tevet 5775

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Halocho #1489 - Foggy windows on Shabbat

Writing and drawing is forbidden on Shabbat - even if it's temporary.

One may not use one's finger to write or draw on the condensation of a window.

One may not write nor draw using water that spilled on a table.

One may not use one's nail to make a mark on page, to enable one to find the place again, or for any other reason.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:62

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 3 Tevet 5775

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Halocho #1488 - Chanukah leftovers

Oil that was put in the Chanukah Menorah and was not burnt, as well as wicks that were used and candles that didn't burn fully should be burnt after Chanukah.

Since they were set aside for the Mitzva of Chanukah they cannot be used for any other purpose.

If one had the explicit intention to use the left-overs, then they need not be burnt.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:20

- Danny
Wednesday, 2 Tevet 5775, 8th day of Chanuka; זֹאת חֲנֻכַּה

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Halocho #1487 - What is Zot Chanuka?

The Torah Reading for tomorrow - the last day of Chanuka - has 39 verses.

It starts from בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי in Parshat נָשֹׂא and continues all the way past the end of the Parsha and ends with the first paragraph of Parshat בְּהַעֲלתְךָ which talks about the daily lighting the 7-branched Menora in the Mishkan and the Bet HaMikdash.

The last paragraph of Parshat נָשֹׂא starts with the words זֹאת חֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ- as a result the last day of Chanuka is often referred to as Zot Chanuka.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch  139:23

Chodesh Tov! Don't forget יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא and עַל הַנִּסִּים in the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.

- Danny
Tuesday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5775, 7th day of Chanuka

Monday, December 22, 2014

Halocho #1486 - The Chanukah Menorah in shul

In order to publicize the miracle of Chanukah, the Menora is lit - with the correct Brachot - in the synagogue, between Mincha and Ma'ariv.

The person who lit the Menora in shul has to light again at home, with the correct Brachot.

A mourner should not light the Menora in shul on the first night of Chanuka, since it's inappropriate for him to say "שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ" in public. At home a mourner does say "שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ" on the first night.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:15

Chodesh Tov! Don't forget יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא and עַל הַנִּסִּים in the Amida (including Mussaf) and Birkat Hamazon.

- Danny
Monday, 1st day Rosh Chodesh Tevet, 5775, 6th day of Chanukah

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Halocho #1485 - Rosh Chodesh and Chanukah

Tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday will be Rosh Chodesh Tevet.

Rosh Chodesh Tevet is the only time the full-Hallel is said on Rosh Chodesh. (Usually on Rosh Chodesh we leave out 2 half-paragraphs.)

Between Shacharit and Mussaf we will take out 2 Sifrei Torah. First we call up 3 people to the Torah for Rosh Chodesh and then - in the second Sefer Torah - a fourth person for Chanukah.

We then daven Mussaf for Rosh Chodesh, with עַל הַנִּסִּים.

Starting tonight - Sunday night - don't forget יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא and עַל הַנִּסִּים in the Amida and Birkat Hamazon.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:24

- Danny
Sunday, 29 Kislev 5775, 5th day of Chanukah

Please daven for Chaim ben Menucho Rochel recovering from a stroke.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Halocho #1484 - Motzai Shabbat: First do Havdala or light the Menora?

On Motzai Shabbat - the  5th night of Chanukah this year - one first makes Havdalah and then lights the Chanukah Menorah.

In Shul  - on Motzai Shabbat - the Menorah is lit after the full-Kaddish - before וְיִתֶּן לְךָ (after ensuring that it's already Motzai Shabbat if one started prayers early).

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:18

Some have the custom of lighting the Menorah before making Havdala, since one already heard Havdalah in shul. (Source: רמ"א 581:2)

The Haftara this week is the Chanuka one (רָנִּי וְשִׂמְחִי בַּת צִיּוֹן  from Zecharia 2:14).

Shabbat Shalom uMevorach, Rosh Chodesh Tevet will be on Monday and Tuesday, the 6th and 7th days of Chanukah.

- Danny
Thursday, 26 Kislev 5775, 2nd day of Chanukah

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Halocho #1483 - What comes first? Chanukah or Shabbat candles?

Since one cannot light fire on Shabbat, on Fridays the Menorah is lit before Shabbat begins.

The correct order for Friday is:

  • Daven "early" Mincha
  • Light the Chanukah Menorah. One can light as early as 75 Halachic minutes before sunset.
  • Light Shabbat candles at the regular time (15 to 40 minutes before sunset, depending on local custom).

The Chanukah Menorah needs be stay lit until 30 minutes after dark.

On Friday one needs longer candles or more oil than during the week, since it needs to burn for 70 minutes or longer.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:17

- Danny
Wednesday, 25 Kislev 5775, 1st day of Chanukah

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Halocho #1482 - Who should light the Chanukah Menorah?

We will light the first Chanukah flame this evening; Tuesday afternoon, 20th Dec - and every evening for the next 8 days.

Since both men and women were included in the miracle of Chanukah, both need to light the Chanukah Menorah.

At least one person per household must light.

The custom is for everybody to light, including children under Bar Mitzva. However, married couples share one Chanukah Menorah that either the husband or wife lights.

Even blind people should light, if they live by themselves.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:16

- Danny
Tuesday, 24 Kislev 5775

Summary of the laws of Chanuka:
 (All times mentioned are for the year 2014 in Jerusalem.)

The earliest time to light the Menora is at Plug-HaMincha - which is at 15:34 - but the Menora has to burn until 30 minutes after dark.

The best time is at sunset (16:37) or nightfall (17:04) depending on family custom.

You can light any time after this - but you cannot make the Brachot then, unless somebody else is awake in the house with you - or you live on a busy street and people are still walking outside and they can see your Chanuka Menora.

The latest time to light would be 4:26 the next morning - 30 minutes before dawn.

Once it's time to light the Menora, one should not do anything else except get organized to light. Even learning Torah and eating is not allowed; though one can have a light snack (fruit or similar).

The only exception is: one can first Daven Maariv - תפילת ערבית - if one lights at nightfall.

After candle lighting one can do anything. However, there is an ancient custom that women do not do any work for the first 30 minutes, to commemorate their pivotal role in the Chanuka victory. ("Work" being anything they cannot do on Yom Tov.)
The custom is to spend these 30 minutes singing Maoz Tzur and other Chanuka songs, relating the miraculous story of Chanuka and discussing the Halachot of Chanuka.

On Friday afternoon, one lights Shabbat candles at the usual time (16:00) and one has to light the Menora BEFORE lighting Shabbat candles. (So the Menora has to be lit between 15:35 and 16:00)

The Menora has to burn until 30 minutes after dark - so you'll need oil or candles that will last for at least 70 minutes.

Since you cannot move the Menora on Shabbat, you have to place it in a safe place - but (if possible) it should not be near your Shabbat candles.

On Motzai Shabbat you must wait until Shabbat is over (17:18) and then you make Havdala and light the Menora. Which to do first depends on family custom.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Halocho #1481 - Adding Al HaNisim during Chanukah

This year Chanukah starts on Wednesday, 17th December 2014. We will light the first flame on Tuesday afternoon,  16th Dec.

During all 8 days (and nights) of Chanukah one adds עַל הַנִּסִּים to the Birkat Hamazon during the 2nd Bracha.
If you forgot to add עַל הַנִּסִּים and you've already said 'ברוך אתה ה then you don't have to make amends.

However, if possible you should say the following during the HaRachaman's after the 4th Bracha:

הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה לָנוּ נִסִּים וְנִפְלָאוֹת, 
כְּמוֹ שֶׁעָשָׂה לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ
 בַּיָּמִים הַהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה בִּימֵי מַתִּתְיָהוּ

...and then continue with the rest of the עַל הַנִּסִּים.

During every Amida of Chanukah (including Mussaf) one adds עַל הַנִּסִּים during Modim.

If you forgot to add עַל הַנִּסִּים and you've already said 'ברוך אתה ה then you don't have to make amends.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:16, 139: 21

- Danny Schoemann
Monday, 23 Kislev 5775

Please daven for Chaim ben Menucho Rochel, recovering from a stroke.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Halocho #1480 - What Brachot are said when lighting the Chanukah Menorah?

This year Chanukah starts on Wednesday, 17th December 2014. We will light the first flame on Tuesday afternoon,  16th Dec.

On the first night of Chanukah one says 3 Brachot:

1. Lehadlik Ner (Shel) Chanukah - "Blessed... to light the Chanukah lights"

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
 אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו
 וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר (שֶׁל) חֲנֻכָּה

2. She'Asa Nissim La'Avotheinu Bayamim Hahem Bazman Hazeh - "Blessed.. who did miracles for our ancestors, in those days at this season"

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ, בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה

3. Shehechiyanu - "Blessed... who has kept us alive, sustained us and permitted us to reach this occasion."

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ, וְקִיְּמָנוּ, וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

The Brachot are said before lighting.

On the other 7 nights, one only says the first 2 Brachot.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch  139:12, 13

- Danny
Sunday, 22 Kislev 5775

Please daven for 3-year-old נָעֳמִי בַּת דִינָה who is recuperating from lymphoma

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Halocho #1479 - Oil or candles for Shabbat and Chanukah?

For lighting Shabbat candles one may only use a combination of fuel and wicks that together produce a steady non-flickering light.

For Chanukah one may use any fuel and wick combination that will burn for the required time. Preferably one should use something that provides a steady light, like our candles.

Best is to use olive oil, since the Chanukah miracle happened with olive oil.

Wicks should be made of cotton wool.

There is no need to use new wicks every night.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:4

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 19 Kislev 5775

Please daven for Chaim ben Menucah Rochel who suffered a stroke earlier this week

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Halocho #1478 - Menora: Artisic and Silver

If one uses clay lamps for the Menorah then one has to replace them every night.

When using glass holders one must make sure they are clean; not oily or smoky from the previous night.

Best is to use a nice metal Menorah. If one can afford it, one should buy a silver Menorah to beautify the Mitzva.

The wicks on a Menorah must all be at the same level; you cannot have some higher and some lower.

The Shamash should be higher. Its purpose is to provide light so that you don't use the Chanukah lights which are for "display and not for use".

The wicks should be far enough away from each other that they don't join and become a torch. If using candles, there must be enough space between candles that they do not melt one another.

The wicks do not have to be in a straight line; a Menorah can be shaped as a semi-circular or even a full circle.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:5, 9
- Danny
Wednesday, 18 Kislev 577

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Halocho #1477 - What happens if your Chanukah candles blow out?

A Chanukah Menorah must be lit such that it could burn for the required half hour.

If it didn't have enough oil, or the location was windy, then one has not fulfilled the Mitzva, and one must fix the problem and light them again. No Bracha is said the second time.

If it was not a windy place, and it unexpectedly blew out, the Mitzva has been fulfilled, though the Minhag is to light it again.

One cannot light one candle from another; one needs to use the Shamash or another source of fire.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:1

- Danny
Tuesday, 17 Kislev 5775

Please daven for 3 year old נָעֳמִי בַּת דִינָה who is being treated for lymphoma

Monday, December 8, 2014

Halocho #1476 - Where should one light the Chanukah Menorah?

Originally the Chanukah Menorah was lit at the entrance closest to the street, in order to publicize the miracle.

When put in a doorway with a Mezuzah, the Menorah should be placed opposite the Mezuzah so that one is surrounded by Mitzvot.

If the doorway doesn't have a Mezuzah, then the Menorah goes on the right, when walking in.

Nowadays most people light indoors, preferably at a window. If this is not practical, the Menorah should be placed in a doorway.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:6-7

- Danny
Monday, 16 Kislev 5775

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Halocho #1475 - Traveler's guide to Chanukah

This year Chanukah starts on Wednesday, 17th December 2014. We will light the first flame on Tuesday afternoon,  16th Dec.

If one is in one's hometown, one needs to go home to light the Chanukah Menorah.

If one is traveling, and one's wife is lighting the Chanukah Menorah at home, then one should light without the Brachot. If possible, one should try hear the Brachot from somebody else.

If one comes home past the time for lighting candles, one should light as soon as possible. As long as some other member of the household is still awake, one lights with a Bracha. If nobody else is awake anymore, one lights without a Bracha.

Bachelors and others living away from home, who don't have a spouse lighting for them at home, preferably should light for themselves with the Brachot. Alternately they can chip in with somebody else's Menorah lighting, by giving him a Peruta (a few pennies).

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:19

Don't forget to add  "וְתֵן טַל וּמָטָר לִבְרָכָה"!

- Danny
Sunday, 15 Kislev 5775

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Halocho #1474 - Ask for rain in the Diaspora tonight!

In Israel,  we started adding "וְתֵן טַל וּמָטָר לִבְרָכָה" - "and bless us with dew and rain" in the 9th Bracha of the weekday Amida - בָּרֵךְ עָלֵינוּ - on the 7th Marcheshvan.

In the Diaspora we will start tonight, Thursday night, 13 Kislev, the eve of Friday 6 December.

If you forgot to add "וְתֵן טַל וּמָטָר לִבְרָכָה":

  • If you remember before you finish the 9th Bracha -  מְבָרֵךְ הַשָּׁנִים - then you insert it and continue from there.
  • If you already said "Baruch Ata HaShem" of the 9th Bracha, then you insert it into שְׁמַע קוֹלֵנוּ - the 16th Bracha - before "כִּי אַתָּה שׁוֹמֵעַ ".
  • If you forget to say it in שְׁמַע קוֹלֵנוּ then you need to go back to the 9th Bracha - בָּרֵךְ עָלֵינוּ.
  • If you didn't remember until you finish the Amida (defined as saying "יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן אִמְרֵי פִי ") then you have to restart the entire Amida.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 19:5

P.S. The Sefardim say בַּרְכֵנוּ in summer and בָּרֵךְ עָלֵינוּ in winter. Same rules apply.

Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 12 Kislev 5775

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Halocho #1473 - May one move or use the Menorah while it's lit?

The Chanukah Menorah has to be lit in the correct place. If the need arises, one can then move it.

If the Menorah was lit too high, too low or in a location where the wind will extinguish it, and was subsequently moved, one has not fulfilled one's obligation. One needs to extinguish it and light it again, but without the Brachot.

The lights on the Chanukah Menorah must be at least 3 Tefachim (24 cm. - 10") above the floor.

The Chanukah Menorah must be no higher than 20 Amos (10 m. - 33 ft. ) from the floor.

Each night of Chanukah one adds an extra light, starting at 1 and ending at 8.

Besides for the nightly number, the custom is to add an extra candle each night - known as the Shamash.

This is to ensure that one doesn't accidentally use the light from the actual Chanukah lights, which is forbidden.

After the Chanukah Menora has been burning for half an hour after nightfall, one may derive benefit from the lights of the Chanukah Menora.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:8, 13, 14

- Danny
Wednesday, 11 Kislev 5775

Please daven for 3 year old נָעֳמִי בַּת דִינָה who is being treated for lymphoma

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Halocho #1472 - When is Chanukah this year?

The 8 days of Chanukah always start on the 25th of Kislev; the first candle being lit on the 24th in the late afternoon.

This year Chanukah starts on Wednesday, 17th December 2014. We will light the first flame on Tuesday afternoon,  16th Dec.

A week later - (Tuesday afternoon, 23rd Dec) we will light all 8 flames for the 8th day of Chanuka.

On weekdays the Chanukah lights should be lit at nightfall and should be able to burn for at least 30 minutes.

Chanukah lights can already be lit from Plag HaMincha (75 Halachic minutes before nightfall).

Even when lighting earlier, the Menorah has to burn until 30 minutes after nightfall.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:1, 10

There are 2 opinions regarding nightfall: Some say it refers to dusk, other say it refers to 3 stars appearing (like Motzai Shabbat). Everybody should follow their family custom.

- Danny
Tuesday, 10 Kislev 5775

Please daven for 3 year old נָעֳמִי בַּת דִינָה who is being treated for lymphoma

Monday, December 1, 2014

Halocho #1471 - Flowerpots on Shabbat

Picking fruit or flowers that are growing in a flowerpot is forbidden on Shabbat; they are no different to plants growing in the ground.

Moving a flowerpot from the floor to an elevated surface is forbidden on Shabbat, since the plant draws nourishment from the floor, and this would be similar to uprooting it, which is forbidden.

Similarly,  moving a flowerpot from a table or other surface to the floor would be similar to planting which is forbidden on Shabbat.

The above applies to flowerpot made of any material, and irrespective of whether or not it has a hole on the bottom.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:61

- Danny
Monday, 9 Kislev 5775

Please daven for 3 year old נָעֳמִי בַּת דִינָה who is being treated for lymphoma