Purim: Days of Feasting and Joy

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.

Drinking on Purim

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

Fraudulent Conveyance

Rabbi Yehonoson Dovid Hool This article was written by a dayan at Beis Din Nesevos Chaim-the Beis Din of the Institute For Dayanim and was published in Kuntris Magazine   Often when… Read more »

03/03/2014

Lechem Mishneh: The Double Bread of Shabbos

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.

Mikeitz – The Torah Outlook on Jailing and Imprisonment

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.

Parshas Matos – Speaking (and Writing) of Charity

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.

Chukas – Kohanim At Kivrei Tzaddikim

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.

Making Up a Minyan with Non-Observant Jews

The ten meraglim (the spies), whose sorry tale is narrated at the opening of Parashas Shelach, are termed an eidah – an assembly or congregation.

Concerning the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 74b)derives from the Torah’s description of the spies that all ten people before whom the Kiddush Hashem is performed must be Jewish. Although the spies were wicked people, and according to the Sages they were even heretics (claiming that Hashem did not have the power to bring the nation into the Land of Israel), they still formed an assembly.

Based on this derivation, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggros Moshe Vol. 1, no. 23) writes that the same halachah applies to saying Kedushah with a minyan: Under extenuating conditions, even non-observant Jews constitute a minyan for Kedushah.

Rav Moshe adds that the principle does not apply to completing a minyan for tefillah be-tzibbur, but states that under extenuating circumstances one should look for a minyan even of secular Jews, for this will at least be effective for purposes of Kedushah.

Although Rav Moshe Feinstein gave only a brief reply to the question, the matter of joining secular, non-observant Jews in a minyan has been discussed at length by a number of authorities. In the article below we will present a short discussion of the subject, explaining some of the angles from which the issue has been approached, and delineating some of the practical considerations involved.

30/05/2013

“Every Mother and Daughter” – Should Daughters Light Shabbos Candles?

The Yalkut on Parashas Behaalosecha (719) mentions a connection between lighting Shabbos candles and the light of the Menorah: “The glory of Shabbos – its candles are its glory. If you light the candles of Shabbos, I shall show you candles of Zion, as it says: It shall be at that time I shall search for Jerusalem with candles.”

By being meticulous in lighting Shabbos candles, we merit to see the future candles of Zion.

In the present article we will address the common question of whether unmarried girls should light candles alongside their mother, or whether it is preferable that they should not light. Also, what is the halachah of married daughters who spend Shabbos with parents? How should a number of families who are sharing the same house light candles?

These questions, among others, are addressed below.

The Minhag of Gebrokts

Probably the most often-asked Pesach related question is: “Do you eat gebrokts?” “Gebrokts” is the German or Yiddish term referring to something “broken apart” – in this case, matzah. (In… Read more »

02/03/2013

Brachos Said in Vain and Unnecessary Brachos

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.

25/12/2012

Shabbos Shirah

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).

25/12/2012

Cleaning Up Your Act on Shabbos

The Shabbos meal is over and now it is time to get to work. The table has to be cleared and the dishes washed. What is permissible to do on Shabbos and what is not? Let us review some of the relevant halachos.

25/12/2012

Vayigash – Respect Your Grandparents – To Which Extent

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.

Parshas Vayeitzei 5772

  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 »