Devarim – Who’s Doing the Cooking?

The issue of bishul akum is a halachic topic that often crops up in connection with institutions such as old-age homes, hotels, and so on. This week’s article presents the background to the prohibition, the various heterim that are used in operating non-Jewish staff in kosher kitchens, and other commonly asked questions concerning the prohibition.

Pinchas – Killing in Self-Defense

This week’s article continues to deal with the laws of warfare, this time focusing on the laws pertaining to engagement with the enemy. Among other issues, the article will discuss the obligation of suing for peace, the laws of making a siege against the enemy, and the taking of war spoils and booty. Though many a century has passed from the time the Torah laws of war were recorded, we will find that the relevant halachos are no less contemporary now than they were then.

Laws of the Kippa

The most easily recognized symbol of Jewish identity – for men – is doubtless the kippa or yarmulke. Orthodox men always wear a kippa, and even non-observant men are generally… Read more »

14/05/2015

Bechukotai – The Halachic Ban and its Laws

This week’s article discusses the issue of the cherem, the halachic ban, which was almost the exclusive mode of punishment available to Jewish communities for two millennia. What is a cherem? What were the crimes generally punishable by excommunication? Who has the authority to enact a ban, and how is it released? Are there practical implications for the modern day? These questions, among others, are discussed in this first of a two-part series on the subject.

Music for Jogging

Can I listen to music during running on a treadmill in my earphones? Answer: Yes, but only if this is necessary or enhancing of the exercise. Best wishes. Sources: We… Read more »

20/04/2015

Parashas Shemini – Halachos of Bugs in Food

In this week’s article we turn our attention to the prohibition of consuming bugs. Which insects are forbidden for consumption, and which are permitted? What are the special stringencies involved with eating bugs? What are the defining principles of the obligation to check for bugs? Must one search for bugs under the microscope or magnifying glass? These questions and more are addressed in this week’s article.

Early Bedikas Chametz

This week’s article discusses the timely obligation of bedikas chametz. True, there are still two weeks to go till Pesach, but even now, somebody leaving home might be obligated to check his house for chametz. What are the halachic details of this obligation? Is a blessing recited before checking? Does selling one’s chametz exempt one from the obligation? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Bedikas Chametz: Principles and Halachos

This week’s article discusses the mitzvah of bedikas chametz. Does searching for chametz involve a Torah mitzvah, or a rabbinic enactment? Does one have to ensure that he possesses chametz before he begins searching for it? What is the halachah concerning checking books for crumbs? We will seek to answer these questions, and others, by elucidating the matter from its primary sources.

02/04/2015

Parashas Vayikra – Coercion in Mitzvah Performance

This week’s article focuses on the principle whereby one must coerce his fellow Jew to perform mitzvos—a principle mentioned in connection with korbanos at the beginning of Vayikra. When, how, and to what extent must we enforce the performance of mitzvos? Does the obligation of coercion fall on beis din alone, or even on individuals? What value does a coerced mitzvah possess? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Waiting Between Meat and Dairy

This week’s Parashah, Parashas Ki Tisa, includes the instruction of not eating meat and dairy products together.

The Torah itself mentions only the words, “You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” Based on the threefold repetition of this instruction, Chazal understand that three distinct prohibitions are included: cooking, consuming, and benefiting from a combination of meat and milk.

Furthermore, it is rabbinically forbidden to eat meat and milk together, even if they were not cooked together.

Beyond this, Chazal also note an obligation to wait between eating meat and dairy products.

In the present article we will discuss the obligation to wait between eating meat and dairy products. How long does one have to wait? Is there an obligation to wait even after merely tasting meat? Do even children and sick people have to wait? What is the halachah in cases of doubt?

These questions, and others, are discussed below.

07/03/2015

Megillah for Others

Shalom, When a person who’s already fulfilled their obligation to read Megillah reads for someone who has not, who should recite the blessings? What if the listener is a woman?… Read more »

04/03/2015

Purim Damages

Purim commemorates a reversal, a day of nahafoch hu, when fortunes were reversed and tables were turned. In the present article we will discuss a specific reversal that is not… Read more »

03/03/2015

Parashas Tetzaveh – The Halachic Status of Present-Day Kohanim

This week’s parashah deals with the inception of Kohanim for the priestly service, and with the special clothes that their service requires. Today, although we no longer have the Temple service (may it speedily return!), there remain a number of halachic duties and laws that pertain to the caste of Kohanim. In this week’s article we will discuss the status of present-day Kohanim with regard to these halachic ramifications. Are today’s Kohanim certified, “definite” Kohanim, or not? What is their status with regard to eating challah, to Pidyon Haben, to giving the Priestly Blessing, and so on? Must we give them special honors, as befitting the Kehunah? The answers to these questions, and more, are found in this week’s article.