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 »

Dear Reader

This week’s article discusses the production techniques of a Shofar, and addresses the halachic issues that arise from the method. In particular, the article assesses the question of changing the form of the Shofar (done by immersing the Shofar in hot water), and the question of stopping up holes in the Shofar. What are the ramifications of these processes for the kashrus of the Shofar, and why indeed is kashrus certification important for those wishing to purchase a Shofar?

This week’s Q & A addresses the question of eating spicy foods on Rosh Hashanah.

07/09/2012

Shavuos Musings

The prevalent custom in most Jewish communities is to remain awake the entire night of Shavuos learning Torah, eagerly anticipating the upcoming acceptance of Torah on Shavuos morning. Magen Avrohom,… Read more »

28/05/2012

Moadim Musings- PURIM

SAVE YOUR PRIDE, NOT YOUR HIDE! ויאמר מרדכי להשיב אל אסתר. אל תדמי בנפשך להמלט בית המלך מכל היהודים, כי אם החרש תחרישי בעת הזאת רוח והצלה יעמוד ליהודים ממקום… Read more »

08/03/2012

Remembering Amalek: Halachos of Parashas Zachor

This week’s article discusses the halachos of Parashas Zachor, which is read this week in advance of Purim. Is the reading of Zachor a Torah mitzvah, or a rabbinic enactment? Does the mitzvah require a kosher Sefer Torah, and a reading among a quorum of men? Are women obligated in the mitzvah? These questions, and more, are discussed in the present article.