This week’s parashah includes an interesting source concerning the prohibition of flattery: the words of conciliation spoken by Yaakov to his brother Eisav. We take the opportunity to expound on the prohibition of flattery. Concerning which people, and in which manner, is there a prohibition of flattery? Does the prohibition apply even in circumstances of potential danger or loss? Are there circumstances in which it might even be a mitzvah to flatter? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.
Towards Rosh Hashanah, this week we will discuss the question of the name “Rosh Hashanah.” Unlike other festivals, the title “Rosh Hashanah”, which appears in the Mishnah and writings of Chazal, is not derived from Torah verses–in which we find the names “Yom Teru’ah” and “Yom Hazikaron.” What caused Chazal to “change the name” of this day? And how does this name change reflect on our avodah of the day, on the prayer service, and on the blowing of the shofar? These questions, and more, are discussed in the article.
As parents, the idea of chinuch is a concept that is always close to our hearts. We invest much thought, toil, and money in the chinuch or our children, realizing the crucial value of chinuch in molding the next generation. Of course, chinuch is not merely a technical, halachic matter. Chazal teach us that every child (and every person) is an entire world, and chinuch implies seeking to allow the world within our children to flourish and to blossom, giving him the tools to realize the tremendous potential with which each individual is endowed. However, there are also certain halachic definitions, in particular with regard to chinuch of mitzvos, which are important to know. This essay will address the basic concept of chinuch for mitzvos.
The most prominent aspect of the upcoming Pesach festival is without a doubt the dietary restrictions. Throughout Pesach we replace bread with matzah and avoid all leavened products, turning our kitchen into quite something else. The lettuce leaves, horseradish, saltwater dips, and fascinating sandwiches of Seder Night also deserve a mention.
Another important culinary aspect of Pesach is the issue of kitniyos, legumes. Although there is no mention of the issue in the Torah, in the Mishnah or in the Gemara, the custom for Jews of Ashkenazi descent is to refrain from eating legumes of all kinds during Pesach. The question of what constitutes a legume for the purpose of this halachah, and how far the restriction goes, is therefore of great importance for Pesach cooking.
In the present article we will discuss the halachos pertaining to the issue of kitniyos, and seek to understand the reasons behind the custom, its halachic severity, and the extent of its application. Is quinoa included in the prohibition? Why is it permitted to eat potatoes on Pesach (Imagine life without them!)? Must separate dishes be used for those who must eat kitniyos on Pesach?
In this article we will discuss the mitzvah of the Purim feast, and the general joy of Purim: When during the day of Purim should the feast be held? Is there an obligation of eating meat during the meal, and should it begin with bread? How does the mitzvah of the feast integrate with the day’s general obligation of joy? These, and other topical questions, are discussed in the present article.
As the days of Purim approach, we will this week discuss a mitzvah act that on the one hand gives Purim much of its unique festival character, and on the other is liable to cause us – both as performers of the mitzvah, and as parents of children who wish to perform it – no small headache.
The primary Talmudic source related to drinking on Purim is a Gemara in Megillah (7b): “Rava said: a person must get drunk on Purim until he cannot distinguish between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai’.”
The basic idea of drinking on Purim emerges moreover from the Megillah itself, which states that the days of Purim were enacted for mishteh – a word that specifically implies (by contrast with a regular se’udah) a wine-feast (as the original misheh of Achashverosh with which the tale of Esther begins).
The mitzvah of drinking to the point of inebriation raises a number of questions. What is the level of drunkenness that must be reached? Is it really possible that a Jew will be unable to distinguish between the curse of Haman and the blessing of Mordechai? When is there an obligation to drink – should one be drinking during the entire day? Must one drink wine, or can one drink any alcoholic beverage?
These questions, and more, are discussed below
This article discusses the issue of lechem mishneh, the double-portion of bread that opens our Shabbos meals (commemorating the manna of the wilderness). Is lechem mishneh a full obligation? Are women obligated? Are complete loaves of bread required? Is lechem mishneh required even for cakes and pastries? These questions, and others, are discussed below.
In this week’s parashah (together with last week’s) we find one of the only occasions where the Torah
mentions a prison sentence. We take the opportunity to investigate the Torah’s outlook on imprisonment.
Does the Torah see jailing and imprisonment as a legitimate form of punishment? Is it permitted to keep
somebody pending trial in jail? Is it permitted to jail somebody on Shabbos. These questions, and more, are
discussed in this week’s article.
Which Parsha is Lained in Eretz Yisrael like any other Parsha on Shabbos, however, in Chutz La’aretz it is not? V’zois Hab’racha. This year since Shmini Atzeres falls on Shabbos… Read more »
אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ד’ אלקיכם, ראשיכם שבטיכם זקניכם ושוטריכם כל איש ישראל טפכם נשיכם וגרך אשר בשעריך מחטב עציך עד שואב מימיך You stand today, all of you,… Read more »
The issue of nedarim (vows) crops up unexpectedly at a number of junctures along our daily routine. One such juncture is the matter of donations to charity. In the weekly article we discuss questions involved in giving charity by means of checks. Can a person retract from his check donation? Can a person change his mind after writing a check to charity, but before the check was handed over? This week’s article answers these questions, as well as addressing a number of additional points.
This week’s article addresses the issue of tircha de-tzibura, burdening the public. What is the halachic definition of this concept? Does it involve an actual prohibition, or is it only a virtue and a worthy practice? When it is forbidden to burden the public, and when might it be permitted? These questions, and more, are addressed in this week’s article.
The question of a Kohen’s visit to burial sites of our righteous ancestors is a matter that commentaries and halachic authorities have discussed for hundreds of years. Do the burial sites of the righteous impart ritual impurity (tumas mes), and is there a halachic permit for Kohanim to visit them? This week’s article discusses the issue, from its primary sources through to practical conclusions.
The present article addresses the custom of eating dairy foods on Shavuos, a custom that is. What is the relationship between the two obligations? What are the requirements of the respective mitzvos? Which parts of Torah take precedence? These, and more questions, are discussed in the article below.
Pesach is already a distant memory. Lag Ba’omer and the beginning of the post-sefirah wedding season are almost upon us. However, before we get to that, we first have an almost unnoticed date on the Jewish calendar – the fourteenth of Iyar, otherwise known as Pesach Sheini. Let us examine this holiday and some of its unique minhagim.
Recently, there was a story circulating about a gabbai tzedakah (an official in charge of funds for the poor) who approached a certain wealthy man and asked him for a… Read more »
One of the Aseres Hadibros, which we will hear in this week’s parsha, is the prohibition of “lo sisa es Sheim Hashem Elokecha lashav,” “Do not recite the name of Hashem, your G-d, in vain.” The Gemara (Shavuos) explains that this mitzvah relates primarily to the issur of swearing falsely or unnecessarily, as the classical type of oath is when one invokes Hashem’s Name. This mitzvah also includes more common situations of saying Hashem’s Name without a valid reason.
Although the topic of swearing and taking oaths is an important one, it is rare to find an observant Jew swearing an oath with Hashem’s Name. Therefore, in this week’s article we will discuss some of the more common applications of this mitzvah.
The mitzvah of honoring parents (Shemos 20:12) has a unique distinction. The Yerushalmi (Kiddushin 1:7) refers to it as a “mitzvah chamurah min hachamuros” – a mitzvah… Read more »
Shabbos Parshas Beshalach is called Shabbos Shirah – the Shabbos of the Song. This refers to the Shiras HaYam, the song of thanks that the Jewish nation sang to Hashem after crossing through the Red Sea on dry land and seeing their enemies drown. The name Shabbos Shirah appears in the Rishonim (Sefer HaMinhagim [Tyrnau], s.v., Shevat; Sefer Maharil, Hilchos Teves-Shevat-Adar, #7).
Chazal instituted various types of brachos, some of which are recited more frequently than others. There are brachos that are part of davening which are said on a daily basis… Read more »
In this week’s parashah we find Yaakov Avinu offering sacrifices to the G-d of his father, Yitzcak. The mention of Yitzchak, rather than Avraham, leads Rashi to comment (based on the Midrash) that a person is obligated in the honor of his father to a greater degree than that of his grandfather. We take the opportunity to discuss the concept of honoring one’s grandparents. Is there an obligation to honor one’s grandparents, and what is the extent of the obligation? Does the obligation apply even after a parent’s death? Does it apply equally to paternal and maternal grandparents? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.
We find that when Yaakov sleeps at Har Hamoriah 28:20 (וַיִּדַּר יַעֲקֹב, נֶדֶר לֵאמֹר: אִם-יִהְיֶה אֱלֹקים עִמָּדִי, וּשְׁמָרַנִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ, וְנָתַן-לִי לֶחֶם לֶאֱכֹל, וּבֶגֶד לִלְבֹּשׁ). That… Read more »
29:32 When Rebbi’s oldest son was born, Rebbi wanted to name him after Rav Elya Chazan which he did. There happened to be a Zeidy R’ Elya on Rebbi’s… Read more »
29:35 The Tur Al Hatoirah and Rabbeinu B’rachye brings it as well. When Leah gives birth, she names her fourth child Yehuda. It says in the Posuk,… Read more »
Introduction One of the Rabbinic prohibitions connected to the melacha of bishul (cooking) is the prohibition of Shehiya, leaving uncooked or partially cooked food on an open flame from before… Read more »
This week’s article we discuss the issue of Kiddush, and in particular the question of which beverages can be used for Kiddush. When is it permitted to make Kiddush on beer, and other beverages? Can whisky be used for Kiddush, and how much needs to be drunk? Can one make Kiddush on bread? These questions, and more, are discussed below.
Halacha Talk Pikuach Nefesh on Shabbos One of the basic foundations of halacha is that saving a life supercedes every mitzvah in the Torah, with the exception of forbidden relationships,… Read more »
1:16 The Posuk says אֶת-הַמָּאוֹר הַגָּדֹל, לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַיּוֹם. The Michtoim Eliyahu says an incredible thing. He says the Yoid’ai Dina, the ones who understand know, the word Gadol as used… Read more »
Rav Baruch Rubanwitz a Dayan in the Beis Hahora’ah Travel Fruits, vegetables, fish and treif knives Fresh fruits and vegetables grown in chutz la’aretz are kosher whether bought whole or… Read more »
Rav Baruch Rubanwitz a Dayan in the Beis Hahora’ah The Chofetz Chaim recommends setting aside one-third of one’s maaser money to be used for loans. One fulfills… Read more »