As we approach the closing phases of Sefiras Ha-Omer, we dedicate the present article to completing the discussion we began two weeks ago concerning onaas devarim – causing pain… Read more »
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.
This week’s article deals with the prohibition of music during the Omer period. What is the source of the prohibition? Does it apply to all forms of music (even on the radio), and all circumstances? When may one be lenient in hearing music during the Omer period? These questions, and more, are addressed in this week’s article.
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.
ויקח קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי ודתן ואבירם בני אליאב ואון בן פלת בני ראובן And Korach, son of Yitzhar, son of Kehas, son of Levi, took, as… Read more »
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.
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.
A common Shabbos question of the modern day, which many authorities have addressed, is the question of lighting Shabbos candles in a room, well-lit by electric lighting. In terms of… Read more »
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.
ויקרא אל משה וידבר ד’ אליו מאהל מועד לאמר And He called to Moshe, and God spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: The book of Vayikra has… Read more »
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 »