q&a page  9

395) Q: [A while back in Q&A #295] The question was posed “Why is honey kosher.” The answer was because it was not produced by the bee. It was not mentioned that royal jelly is produced by the queen bee and,therefore is not kosher. I think I heard pure honey does not need a hescher. How would one determine which ones meet this requirement. ?
A:You are correct, that Royal Honey (also referred to as royal jelly) is not like regular honey, and according to most Poskim it is prohibited to eat. In cases of great necessity some Poskim allow it (such as for an ill person etc.).
It cannot be confused with regular honey, as its texture is creamier than honey and its color is whiter, and I am sure the label clearly states it is royal honey.
It is best to purchase honey with a Hechsher, especially as it is readily available today.
See Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 11 siman 59 and Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol. 4 Siman 188 for more details about the halachic status of this product.

396) Q: Can one eat food that a non-jew cooks on Shabbos after Shabbos already started (if the oven and everything was already on), if she is also cooking for a bunch of nonjews and herself? if not, can one eat food that was cooked before shabbos but that she keeps on the heat (which she shuts off when she’s done on shabbos) or that she continues to cook on shabbos? (keep in mind that for all of this, she would be turning off the heat on shabbos)
A: A Jew may not eat food that was cooked on Shabbos (surely on shabbos, and sometimes the food may not be eaten ever. It’s too detailed for this forum, and a Rav needs to be consulted for each situation). period. It doesnt matter who cooked it and who they cooked it for. If the food is fully cooked, and was left on the open fire, it may be eaten, but is not ideal as there should not be any open fires on Shabbos in the home, without a blech. If it was not fully cooked, it is prohibited to eat. The fact that she shuts it afterwards has no effect on the above halachos.

397) Q: What is the halacha for rice cake. Is there one brocha most poskim agree it requires? I try to make 3 brochos [on different items, in order to exempt the rice cakes]  but it really is hard so I just quit eating it – now on diet I would like to resume.
A: You are right, there are 3 possibilities.
According to many  Poskim (including Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach zatzal) rice cakes are Ha’adama, as Mezonos is only recited on rice when it is cooked, and rice cakes are not cooked. even according to these Poskim, if a Mezonos was recited on them, you are Yotzei. Rav Shlomo Zalmen says that there is no reason to be machmir and recite brachos on other items, and a Borei Pri Ha’adama can be recited L’Chatchila.
There are Poskim, however, (including Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita who leans towards this Psak) that rule that it is Mezonos, as they maintain that  heating element used to puff them is sufficient to consider them cooked.
Some Poskim say to recite SheHakol.
The prevalent minhag is to recite Ha’adama, but a Rav should be consulted for Halacha L’Ma’aseh. (See Shu”t Or L’Tzion Perek 14:21. See also Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 44 and 45)
All agree that the Bracha Achrona is Borei Nefashos.

398) Q: Is there any source or basis in halacha for children not to drink from kois of havdala?
A: There are varying customs with regards to having the  children drink from Havdallah
The Sefer Seder Hayom (page 114) writes that it shouldn’t be given to anyone to drink, and only the one reciting Havdalah should drink. This is also how the Be’er Heitev Siman 296:5 rules in the name of the Shla HaKadosh. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 96:7 and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav 296:6 also rule this way (though it’s possible that they just rule that  it doesnt have to be given to them to drink as by Kiddush, but it may be given to them if they want).
However, in the siddur of Rav Saadya Gaon (page 125) in the footnotes it quotes the MaHritz Gai’os who says that there is a good reason to indeed give the children to taste.
The Sefer Leket Yosher (page 57) says that all should drink.
It was also the Minhag of the community in Worms to give the family , even women, to drink. Many other Kehilos also shared this minhag. (See Q&A #138 here regarding women)
The prevalent minhag is to indeed allow the male members of the family to drink, and to not have the female members of the family drink from havdalah.
For Halacha L’ma’aseh a Rav should be consulted.

399) Q: What is the source for a woman who is expecting not to look at animals? Does this apply to fish as well?
A:  This is something which many people mistakenly attribute to the fact that animals in the zoo are  impure (Tamei) and as such will cause the fetus to become impure.
In fact, that is not the reason at all, as pregnant women may go to funerals and cemeteries, which are more impure than zoos (See Shu”t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 10 Siman 42)
The real source for this is found in the 18th century  Kabalistic work “Sefer Habris” (Vol. 1  Ma’amar 17, page 242- 243) where he describes how a pregnant woman can see a strange or scary things  and become scared, and  can end up having her baby with  skin deformities resembling  the scary/strange thing . He brings some interesting anecdotes where such things actually happened (and a whole regimen of spitting 13 times over the first 10 days after the baby is born etc. is required in order to cure the deformities)
Thus, it developed the custom that women stayed away from zoos where they were sure to encounter strange/scary creatures.
Nowadays when we are much more familiar with strange and exotic animals, and we often see photos of all sorts of creatures, there is less to worry about, and indeed this is why the prevalent custom is for pregnant women to indeed go to zoos.
Thus, there is no inherent problem with her seeing an animal, and definitely no problem looking at fish. (The above is based in large part on a shiur by HaRav Shmuel Felder Shlita, Dayan in Bais Medrash Govoha, Lakewood NJ)

400) Q: Can you use  sticky notes (e.g. POST IT® Notes or Flags) on Shabbos as bookmarks if you use it before Shabbos as a bookmark?
A: Some Poskim prohibit using these sticky notes as bookmarks on Shabbos, regardless if they were used before Shabbos for this purpose or not.
The reasoning is that although you may plan to remove it, it is still possible for it to remain there permanently (i.e at least 30 days).
This is different than  the sticky tabs of a baby diaper, which are only meant to stay closed  for a short time and will then be removed and discarded. (See Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa Perek 15:81 footnote 250. see also “The Shabbos Home”  Vol.1  by Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen Shlita pages 72-74 and in footnote 17.
According to these Poskim, If it is mistakenly placed in a book or on another surface on Shabbos, it is best to remove it right away to ensure that it doesnt remain there for 24 hours.
There are Poskim who are lenient and allow  these sticky bookmarks to be used regardless if they will be there for a long time or not, as they rule that “Tofer” and “Koiraya”, sewing and removing stitches applies only to something that is difficult to apply and remove, and not to these flags which are easily applied and removed.
In the newly revised edition of Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa he rules that they may be used provided that  a) they are removed from the pack before Shabbos and b) they are used for a short time. He doesn’t define how short a “short time” is though.  (I spoke to a prominent Posek and he said that a “short time” in this case  is less than 24 hours)
Thus, if being used for a short time on Shabbos , there is room for leniencey. If planning to leave it there for the entire Shabbos and beyond (i.e. more than 24 hours), it is best to be stringent.
For Halacha L’Ma’aseh a Rav must be consulted.

401) Q: Which category of mukza is a toilet paper roll under?
A: Why are you assuming that it’s muktzah? True, you may not tear it on Shabbos, but it may be used as it is (untorn) or in emergencies may even be torn (though not on the perferations) , so it is indeed not Muktzah at all. Furthermore, there are other permissible uses for them (such as a doorstop), which would keep them from becoming Muktzah. The same applies to roll of paper towel.

402) Q: [ed. note: Not a halacha question, rather an interesting Torah question] I read this past Shabbos, that the waters at the time of the mabul were scalding hot. How on earth did the fish survive?
A: The Gemara (Sanhedrin 108a) and Midrash Rabbah ( Noach, 32:19, according to one opinion) indeed say that the fish (and possibly all the creatures of the sea) survived, as they did not follow the lead of the people and animals of that generation and practice immoral mating practices.
Most probably, the waters were only boiling on the surface and not in the depths of the sea. Another option (as seems from the second opinion in the Midrash is that there was one ocean that was not boiling (The Yam Okeanos, the Atlantic ocean) and all the fish went there to survive.

403) Q: [You wrote in the halachos for Wednesday November 10th as follows:
Many Poskim rule to recite "Borei Pri Ha'Eitz" first and immediately follow that with "SheHechiyanu", and we don't consider the SheHechiyanu as an interruption between the Bracha on the fruit and the eating. (Shu"t Radvaz Siman297, Kaf HaChaim 225:24. This was also the ruling of the Gaon of Vilna, quoted in Tosefos Ma'aseh Rav 75:3. ]
I thought the Vilna Gaon held to recite SheHecheyanu immediately upon seeing the fruit and that his wife had to “hide” the fruit from him for the 2nd night of Rosh Hashana.
A: In Sefer Hilchos HaGra U’Minhagav (from Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita) page 171, it is brought down that the Gra originally held to recite the Bracha t the time of seeing the fruit, and was later on Chozer from that opinion and maintained that the correct time for the Bracha is when eating it.  Only when the fruit is not being eaten, and is in his friends hand, did the Gra maintain that the Bracha should be made when seeing it.
I am not familiar with the story you  say about his wife, however in sefer Maaseh Rav HaShalem (page 234) it does indeed bring a story that The Gra once  recited the SheHechiyanu as soon as he saw the fruit on  Rosh Hashana by Kiddush. However, this could have been before he changed his ruling, or he could have had no plans to eat that fruit, and thus in that case indeed ruled that the bracha is recited on the seeing.

404) Q: In learning the halachos of a kosher kitchen, I have learnt that eggs boiled in a milk or meat pot take on that status i.e: eggs boiled in a meat pot would be considered meaty and cant be eaten on a cheese toast for example.  I then was wondering if it is permissible to have, when on vacation for example, a chef boil three eggs in a non-kosher kitchen -wouldn’t the taste of the non-kosher food make it treif? Also, is there an issue with Bishul Akum?
A: Yes, you are correct that the eggs will assume the status of the pot they were cooked in  and indeed eggs cooked in a non kosher pot will become non kosher. And yes, there is a problem of bishul Akum as well.

405) Q:  Is there a specific time one has to do hafrashas challah? Is it ok if I do it on Wednesday?
A:  Hafrashas Challah can be done anytime you bake (and in order to recite a bracha, the correct shiur is required). There are kabalistic sources that say that  when a woman takes Challah on Erev Shabbos it atones for the sin of Adam and Chava, but halachically it can be done any time.
See Q&A  424 below regarding the correct Shiur.

406) Q : If a woman came to shul late, is she allowed to catch up on davening during Krias Hatorah or does she have to wait until after?
A: Women are not obligated in Krias haTorah and may continue davening even at the expense of missing it.

407) Q: Where do we learn out in the Torah that a man must wear a yarmulka (Kippah)?
A: it isnt clearly in the pesukim, it is derived by Chazal (based on pesukim). See Kiddushin 31a, Shabbos 156b  and Berachot 60b where we are taught that covering the head brings to fear of heaven, and also glorifies Hashem.
The Shulchan Aruch rules (Siman  that one may not go 4 Amos without a head covering. The Taz (Orach Chaim Siman 8:3) rules that even sitting in one place should not be done with a bare head. The Mishna Berura (Siman 2:11, quoting the Shla HaKadosh)  even says that a man should sleep with a Yarmulka (Though, this is not M’Ikar HaDin)
Regarding saying Hashem’s name or even walking into a shul  with a bare head, that is even more stringent (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 91)
Although in biblical times, and even inthe times of the Gemara it isn’t clear if they did indeed cover their heads, it is a custom that Klal Yisroel has accepted upon themselves, and now has the severity of  a halacha, and may not be treated leniently.
See also Q&A #13 Here

408) Q: Do you know of any Torah sources that recommend: 1) physical exercise as a way of staying in good health. 2) playing sports as a good way to spend one’s time.
A: Excercising, in order to stay healthy is an important part of being a Torah Jew!
The Torah specifically dictates that we  guard our health, as it states V’Nishmartem Meod  L’Nafshoseichem- You shall Guard your health  very much” (Parshas V’Eschanan  Chapter 4:15)
Rambam in the 4th chapter of Hilchos Dayos prescribes a whole regimen of healthy eating and excercise, and even guarantees anybody that follows his regimen to a long life, free of sickness!
Regarding ball playing, if it is being done for excercise, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it (as long as it is done in a  kosher venue, and without any compromising of halacha)
If it is being done for reasons other than health, then  some authorities have dubbed it ” a waste of time” (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 308:259)
Of course, on Shabbos and Yom Tov  it is prohibited to play ball and/or excercise for various reasons. This applies to children who  have reached the age of Chinuch as well. If necessary for health reasons, a Rav must be consulted.

409) A few questions:

 

1) You wrote (in Q*& A #394)that after using the restroom when the hands are washed, no utensil is require.

 

The Mishna Berura does bring down an opinion that washing 6 times is necessary after using the restroom and says the Magen Avraham seems to contradict himself.

 

Rav ovadia Yosef Zatzal holds that the minhag has become to wash 6 times when leaving the restroom and there are many others (ashkenazi and sefardi) who also feel this is proper, necessary to get rid of the Ruach Ra.

 

2) Chacham Ovadia holds that when one leaves the restroom and wishes to eat bread, he has 2 choices: 1: wash 6 times alternating, say netilas yadayim, asher yatzar, hamotzi or 2: wash 6 times alternating, say netilas yadayim, hamotzi, asher yatzar. He says not to follow the Ben Ish Chai who suggests washing 6 times, saying asher yatzar and then touching an unclean part of the body requiring a regular netilas yadayim for bread because this is forcing a bracha she’eina tzricha.

 

it would seem that the Mishna Berura would agree with the first suggestion of Chacham Ovadia if one wishes to be machmir and wash hands 6 times alternating whenever leaving the restroom.

the sefer seder olam i think says it is pointless to wash 6 times at any point other than waking up

 

3) I saw that the Mishna Berura says to make a Netilas yadayim if one used the restroom for gedolim or left the premises in the middle of a meal. is this how we pasken because I’ve never heard of this or seen anyone actually do it?

 

 

A: 1) Yes, the Mishna Berura (Siman 4:39) mentions such a stringent opinion that requires washing 3 times each hand after using the bathroom. However, you are correct that he brings the Magen Avraham who argues with that opinion , and indeed it seems that the Mishna Berura concurs that it isn't necessary. See also Sha”arei Teshuva Siman 4:12 where he rules that no utensil, and no three times is necessary after the bathroom.

 

Moreover. the Elya Rabba Siman 4:12 writes that even the stringent opinions that require 3 times after the bathroom, agree that no utensil is necessary for those three times!

 

Another proof to this is brought by the Poskim from the language of the Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 376:4 where he requires washing the hands after being in a cemetery (which is the same Tumah status as after using the bathroom) where he writes “Rochtzim” and not “Notlim”, the language used for Netilas Yadayim, which would seem to mean him not requiring a utensil.

 

The only reason that the custom developed to use a utensil after the cemetery was due to the restriction on dipping the hands into the river. (See Gilyon MaHarsha on the above Shulchan Aruch and see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 199:10.)

 

Yes, many people were/are stringent to use a utensil, but it is a Chumra (stringency) and NOT M’Ikar D’Din (See Shu”t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 5 Siman 96. See also Shu”t Yad HaLeivi where he rules that only after using a bathroom belonging to Aino Yehudims is a utensil required, but that is due to a danger and not M’Ikar D’Din. See also Biur haGra to Shulchan Aruch Siman 4:18 where he clearly states that this washing is not M’Ikar D’din and is due to the danger)

 

Bottom line, although there are indeed such opinions, most contemporary Poskim do not rule that way. They just say that as a Chumra, if one wants to do it he can, but they do not require it. I myself have seen many Talmidei Chachomim and Poskim who were not stringent to use a utensil after using the bathroom.

 

2) Regarding one who uses the restroom and also plans to eat bread, there are many different methods that are halachically acceptable. See Shulchan Aruch Siman 165:1 and Mishna Berura S”K 2. The most commonly accepted method (for Ashkenazim) is to wash the hands without a utensil and recite Asher Yatzar and then wash the hands with a utensil and then recite Al Netilas Yadayim. (While it isn't really necessary, it doesn't hurt, when doing this, to scratch the scalp, or touch an uncovered part of the body, between these two washings)

 

3) Regarding one who went to the bathroom in the middle of a meal, the Mishna Berura 164:3 and Siman 170:3 and 6 does indeed rule that one who went to the bathroom for Gedolim during the Seudah does need to rewash with a new Bracha. (if additional bread will be eaten in that meal) See also the Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil Lachzor V’Litol. The Chazon ish Orach Chaim Siman 25:9 also rules that a new Bracha is required.

 

The Shulchan Aruch HaRav 164:2 maintains that a new Bracha is never needed if there was no Hesech HaDa’as, just a new washing. This is also the Psak of the Pri Megadim (Aishel Avraham) Siman 170:2, Kitzur shulchan Aruch Siman 40:16, Ben ish Chai Parshas b’Haalosecha Siman 68, Kaf haChaim 164:16 and other Poskim.

 

The prevalent minhag, due to Safek Brachos L’Hakel is to require a new washing but not a new Bracha.

 

For Halacha L'ma'aseh, as with everything, please consult your Rav


The prevalent minhag, due to Safek Brachos L’Hakel is to require a new washing but not a new Bracha.

410) Q: If one forgot to say Yaele Veyavoh at Mincha on Rosh Chodesh and only realized after shkiya, does he have to do a Tashlumim (make up) Shmone Esrei at Maariv? If yes, does it make a difference if the next day is no longer Rosh Chodesh?
A: Yes, a Tashlumim is necessary at Maariv. If it is Rosh Chodesh, the Tashlumin of course will be with Ya’aleh V’Yavo. If it is no longer Rosh Chodesh at ma’ariv, it is a machlokes HaPoskim. Some Poskim say that if You daven your Tashlumin without Ya’aleh V’Yavo, then you defeated your purpose, so there is no point of davening again, as you are missing a Ya’aleh V’yavo from Mincha, and you are still missing it after the Tashlumin. Others say that by missing Ya’aleh V’yavo in your Mincha Shemona Esrei, you were not Yotzei your Shemona Esrei at all, so the Tashlumin is necessary for your Shemona Esrei and not just for the Ya’aleh V’Yavo, so of course by doing a Tashlumin, you make up for a missing Shemona Esrei. So, what should be done? The Poskim say that the best thing to do is to indeed daven two Shemona Esrei by Ma’ariv, and a T’nai (stipulation) should be made before starting the second Shemona Esrei, as follows:
“If I am obligated in this Tefilah, it should satisfy my obligation. If I am not obligated in this Shemona Esrei, let it be considered a Tefilas Nedava (not a mandatory Tefilah, similar to a Korban Nedava which was not obligatory)”
If Ya’aleh V’Yavo was mistakenly  recited in the Shemona Esrei of Tashlumin, when it was no longer Rosh Chodesh, it isn’t considered a Hefsek.
If this happens when Rosh Chodesh is on Friday, it will not work, as we may not daven Tefilas Nedava on Shabbos. (If it does happen on Friday night, either have Kavana  when the Chazan says the Bracha of M’Ein Sheva, or even better, daven for the Amud, if possible,  and by saying the M’Ein Sheva it will be your Tashlumin)
The above applies every time one has a real safek if he is obligated  in davening a Shemona Esrei, that it be done with this stipulation.
(See Mishna Berura Siman 108: 32-35, and  Biur Halacha Siman 108:12 Dibur Hamaschil HaToeh)

411) Q: I’m not sure but i remember learning that you do not have to use a utensil when you wash for Neegel Vasser in the morning and that  the only time when it is a must is when you are washing for bread. Is that correct? I remember learning it in the Kitzur hulchan Aruch.
A: There is an opinion in the Rishonim (The Rosh, quoted in Taz Siman 4:1)  that does not require a Kli for Negel Vasser. The Rama Siman 4:7 rules that washing without a Kli does not invalidate the Negel vasser
However, the Shulchan Aruch Siman 4:7  strongly suggests to indeed  wash with a Kli.  (Psak of the Rashba quoted in the Bais Yosef Siman 4 Dibur HaMaschil U’Mashma. See also Aruch HaShulchan siman 4:7 where he quotes the Zohar that requires a Kli for Negel Vasser, and stresses the danger that will be present if a Kli isn’t used.)
The Mishna Berura (Siman 4:16 and 17) writes on the Rama above that L’Chatchila Negel Vasser must be washed with a utensil, as if it isn’t washed with a utensil.the Ruach Ra is not lifted from the person’s body. If for whatever reason the hands were not washed with a Kli, they must be rewashed as soon as possible inthe correct manner, with a Kli (Mishna Berura Siman 4:25 and 26)
Incidentally, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Siman 2:1) clearly states that a utensil is required for Negel Vasser.
Bottom line: If a utensil is available, it should be used. Even if it isn’t available, the hands should be washed under the faucet, opening and closing the faucet each time, alternating the hand,  until each hand was washed at least 3 times. And as soon as a utensil becomes available, the hands should be rewashed again with a proper Negel Vasser.

412) Q: If one had to Daven over Shmoneh Esrei because they forgot Yaleh V’Yavo [or any other insertion that needed to be said] do you count the extra 19 brochos towards the count of the 100 Brachos that need to be said each day?
A: The second, valid Shemona Esrei is definitely counted. The question is if the original hemona Esrei is counted.
The Poskim debate this.
They base it on the machlokes (which we saw in  Q&A #410 above) if  one omitted something from Shemona Esrei and thus needs Tashlumin, is the Tashlumin coming to  give hiim just the part he missed, or is the whole Shemona Esrei invalid, and thus the Tashlumin is necessary for the entire Shemona Esrei.
If its like the first opinion, then the first Shemona Esrei was valid as far as the 100 brachos are concerned. If it’s like the second opinion that the entire Shemona Esrei was invalid, most likely those Brachos will not count toward the 100.
The Chazon Ish  was said to have ruled that indeed a shemona esrei that needed to be repeated was still counted toward the 100 brachos. (brought in Ma’aseh Ish page 88)
See Shu”t Eretz Tzvi Vol. 1 Siman 23 for more on this topic.

413) Q:  Shabbos comes in at a set time. We greet shabbos kodesh with shabbos candles and tefillos.
My question is regarding Motzei shabbos. As much as we love shabbos and dont want her to leave, shabbos goes out at a certain time (based on each’s minhag i.e. 45, 60 or 72 minutes past Shkia). What is the reason behind saying “Hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol” (when doing activity before havdalah)? Is it necessary? Or is it a way that we escort the shabbos queen away, along with havdalah? If I do malacha once shabbos is completely over, without saying “hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol” and without hearing havdalah is this wrong-Shabbos is only here for 25 hours, after that isn’t shabbos kodesh over?
Also, a few of my friends and I were once debating what exactly should be recited? “Hamavdil Bein Kodesh L’chol” “Boruch Hamavdil bein kodesh lchol”, or “Boruch Ata HaShem Elokeinu Melech Haolam Hamavdil Bein Kodesh L’chol”?
A:There is a concept known as “Tosfos Shabbos” , adding on to Shabbos, both at the onset and at its conclusion. (See Biur Halacha Siman 261:2, that this is a biblical obligation)
There is no set amount that needs to be added, but at least a short amount needs to be added, and it is up to each individual how long to add. For example, a woman that lights candles 18 minutes before sunset on Friday night (or men who daven maariv early on Shabbos in the summer months)  accept Shabbos upon themselves early, and  may not do any Melachos after that time, even though it is technicalyy not Shabbos yet according to the clock!
The same applies to Motzei Shabbos, where each person should extend Shabbos for as long as possible. For example if one is still in middle of Seudah Shlishis well past sunset, it is still Shabbos and Retzei is still recited in Birchas HaMazon, even if the clock shows that Shabbos is over a long time already!
Thus, the only real way to know that Shabbos is over and that your “Tosfos Shabbos” is no longer being observed, is by reciting Havdalah, or at a minimum saying “Baruch HaMavdil Bein Kodesh L’Chol”. Doing Melacha before saying these words, even if the clock says its Motzei Shabbos,  is very problematic, and should be avoided.
The accepted text to say is “Baruch HaMavdil Bain Kodesh L’Chol”
Even after saying this short text, no real Melacha should be done until after a proper Havdalah has been said/heard.

414) Q: I learned today in halachos of aninus and aveilus that a cohen may only become tamei for one of his 7 deceased direct relatives if the body is whole and intact.  Does this restriction apply to a relative who had during his life an surgery that resulted in removing an organ like appendix, a tooth, or a sinew removed, or say some cosmetic surgery was performed?
A:You are correct, that a Kohen may only handle the body of one of his 7 relatives (His father, mother,son, daughter, wife, paternal brother, and paternal sister who was never married) when the body is whole. According to one opinion in the Shulchan Aruch, organs that were missing while the person was alive, are not a problem, and the body is still considered whole.(see Shulcan Aruch  Yoreh Deah Siman 373:9).
According to Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal (Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 1 Siman 251) only missing organs that are evident on the outside of the body would proclude a Kohen from  touching the body of the relative, but internal blemishes (such as the examples you gave) are not a problem. Of course, for Halacha L’Ma’aseh a Rav should be consulted.

415) Q: According to those who hold like R’ Yehuda Hachasid regarding no haircuts etc. on Rosh Chodesh [See Tzavo'as Rav Yehuda HaChasid #48], is there any difference when Rosh Chodesh is two days ? Is there a greater leniency on either of the two days ?
A: From the words of the Mogen Avraham Siman 260:1 it doesnt seem there is a difference between the 2 days of Rosh Chodesh regarding  this. So those that abide by the Tzav’ah of rav Yehuda HaChasid should indeed ot shave or cut their hair on both days of Rosh Chodesh.

416) Q: Someone warmed up meat in a milchig microwave can I Kasher it ? What about the trays?
A: Yes,  a microwave can be Kashered, as follows:
It should be totally cleaned. A cup or bowl of water should be placed inside and the microwave turend on for approximately 10 minutes.  The bowl with water should then be placed in a different place in the microwave, and the microwave should be turned on for an additional 5-10 minutes.
If the microwave is being Kashered from a non Kosher usage (as opposed to just from milk and meat) 24 hours should be waited before doing the above procedure.
If there is a glass plate inthe microwave, a Rav should be consulted regarding if it is able to be Kasherd, and if so, how. (See Piskei Teshuva Orach Chaim Simon 451 for more on this toipic)
In general, it’s important to remember that anytime something dairy  is warmed up/cooked in a fleishig microwave (or vice versa), it should be covered well with a double wrapping.
If a Chometz microwave is being Kashered for Pesach, the food warmed up in it should be double wrapped, even after Kashering.
If there are any plastic components on the inside surface of the microwave, a Rav should be consulted to determine if it is possible to Kasher.
If the microwave has a browning element or is a convection oven, it needs to be cleaned, and then  turned on to its highest setting for 45 minutes, in order to reach its highest heat and thus  render the oven Kashered. There are certain models that do not reach the required temparature to effect a proper Kashering, so it’s importantto check with a Rav regarding your particular model.

417) Q: If I just ate a food, and then decided to wash, do I make a borei nefashos or al hamichya, and then wash, or do I not have to?
A: Generally, a Bracha Achrona must first be recited on what you ate before washing and eating your Seudah. (It is best to try and not get yourself into this situation in the first place, due to Bracha Sh’Aina Tzerichah)
However, there are some instances when  no Bracha Achrona needs to made, and the Birchas HaMazon will exempt the food you ate before washing. They are:
1) The food was eaten in order to build up an appetite for the forthcoming meal.
2) The food was eaten in order to exempt a questionable item that will be eaten during the meal (e.g. reciting a Ha’Adama on something before washing, in order to eat  the canteloupe after washing, which is a subject of debate if a Bracha is needed on this fruit during the meal)
3) The food that was eaten before washing, will also be present and eaten during the meal.(Mogen Avraham Siman 174:14 quoting the opinion of the Baal Hamaor. See also Mishna Berura Siman 176:2 and Sha’ar Hatziyun Os 5. Some Poskim argue on this opinion. See Shar Hatziyun ibid. Os 8 and Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 3 Siman 33)
4) The food that was eaten was a pastry (or other Pas HaBa B’Kisnin) which is questionable if it’s considered bread
5) The food was eaten at Kiddush right before the Shabos meal.
If a food was eaten before the meal and it requires a Bracha Achrona, it must be recited, even if you remembered about it during the meal!
B’Dieved, if one already recited Birchas Hamazon, it covers the food that was eaten before washing, and no new Bracha Achrona should now be recited. Ideally, if this happens, it is good to specifically have in mind that the Birchas Hamazon should cover  that food as well.(See Mishna Berura Siman 176:2 for more details)

418) Q: Can a person who buys a dog or cat have them spayed or neurtured as I have just recently learned that not doing this if you are not going to breed the dogs can cause them harm and they can even contract several different kinds of Cancer.
A:Your question is one that has been the subject of much debate in recent years amongst the Poskim.
On the one hand, the Torah forbids causing harm to animals, and there is no question that this process does exactly that.
On the other hand, recent research has shown, as you indicated, that not spaying/neutering pets that will not breed, may indeed cause them  to be at risk of contracting diseases, and thus the Tzar Ba’alei Chaim aspect would go away as it is being done for their benefit.
Another option, which many Rabbis have suggested is the best option, is to have the pet undergo hormonal neutering, which is a less intrusive and virtually painless procedure, with the same desired effects. (From what I understand, it’s a cheaper process as well)
Of course, a competent Orthodox Rabbi must be consulted for Halacha L’ma’aseh, before doing anything.

419) Q: When eating say grapes from Israel and grapes from the US, what bracha acharona does one make. Does [the ending, Al Ha'Aretz V'Al] “PeroteHa” (fruits of the land of Israel) cover the non-Israeli fruit?
A:According to many Poskim,the ending for Israeli produce exempts all the grapes.(See Orchos Rabbeinu page 88 and Shu”t Dvar Yehoshua Vol. 2 Siman 29 and Vol. 4 Siman 9)
Some Poskim maintain that if a kzayis was eaten of both varieties, the ending should be “Al Ha’Aretz V’Al PeiroSeHa V’Al Hapeiros” (See ketzos HaShulchan Siman 60:5)
Some Poskim maintain that just “Al Ha’Aretz V’Al Hapeiros” should be recited on both. (Shu”t Shevet HaKehasi Vol. 4 Siman 64)
For halacha l’Ma’aseh a rav should be consulted.

420) Q: Can you please explain were it says a person isn’t suppose to whistle.
A: I know that there is a “legend” that says that whistling is prohibited due to its summoning of Sheidim (demons). However, there is no source for this in Halacha, and I have yet to find a reference to this even being a problem according to Kabbalah.
In fact, the Rama Siman 338:1 and Mishna berura 338:3 clearly rule that whistling on Shabbos is permitted, even if one whistles a tune. This is true as well if the fingers are used to produce the whistling. (See Aruch HaShulchan 338:7)
If there would have been a problem with whistling, wouldnt the Poskim mention it, rather than simply ruling that it’s permitted?
Of course, it isn’t a refined. jewish thing to crudely whistle in public. But, pleasant whistling to enhance a niggun, seems to be Ok and can even be used  to enhance Avodas Hashem.
If you come across any sources that forbid it, please be so kind as to let me know, as I have been researching this for a while.

421) Q: I was told that you’re not allowed to cut up a salad very finely on Shabbos (like an Israeli salad). What about slicing a tomato or other vegetable very thinly?
A: Correct. Vegetables may not be diced into very small pieces on Shabbos (unless it’s for a small child or an older person who cannot eat bigger pieces, and even then only immediately before it  is served to the child. See Mishna Berur Siman 321:45 and Shu”t Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 74:2)
There is a minority opinion that maintains that even thinly slicing a vegetable (in one direction) poses a problem on Shabbos. (See K’tzos Hashulchan Siman 129 quoting the ruling of the Tzemach Tzedek)
However, the majority of contemporary Poskim, based on the rulings of  Rav Moshe Feinstein Zataz in  Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol 4 Siman 74, Tochen Os 3 and Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal in Shu”t Minchas Shlomo Siman 91:13), maintain that the prohibition wiill only be if the vegetable is being diced both in its length and its width, but if slicing only one direction, there is absolutely no prohibition to slice it as thin as you desire.

422) Q: Is there an issue with purchasing  non kosher turkeys for non Jewish employees?
A: Yes, it is prohibited to do business or otherwise profit from  food that is prohibited to eat Min HaTorah. Giving such a gift is considered profiting.  If you must give this gift, give them  kosher! (See Shach Yoreh Deah Siman 117:3)

423) Q: Can a frum family attend a Jewish wedding that is officiated by a Conservative Rabbi?  If not, can they attend a wedding where there is one Orthodox Rabbi and One Conservative Rabbi in attendance. The Orthodox Rabbi doing the Katuba and the Conservative Rabbi doing the ceremony?
A:  If a conservative rabbi is the  officiating, (mesader Kidushin), a frum person my not be at such a wedding.
If an orthodox rabbi is officiating, there is no prohibition to be there, but  it should be avoided unless absolutely necessary to be there.
If this wedding is taking place inside their temple (Bais HaKnesses) it could be more problematic, and the orthodox rabbi may not even be allowed to go and officiate.  A Rav must be consulted for halacha L’Ma’aseh.
It doesnt matter who reads the kesuba. The main piece of information that  is the deciding factor is who is officiating. (Mesader Kidushin)
(See Shu”t Igros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol.  2 Siman 17 and Vol.4 Siman 16)

424) Q: In regard to the question about hafrashas challah [ above Q&A #405, you wrote that there needs to be a correct Shiur in order for a Bracha to be recited], what is considered the correct shiur?
A: There are various Shiurim, based on different opinions as to what constitutes 43 and a 1/5th Beitzim (volume of eggs). Some Shiurim require from a little more than 2 pounds, while other do not require until around 4 pounds. According to the Chazon Ish’s shiurim, the custom is to require 5 pounds of dough before  being mafrish challah with a bracha.According to Rav Chaim No’eh’s Shiurim it is 2.3 pounds for Hafrasha and  3.65 pounds for a Bracha. It is best to try and have 5 pounds in order to be able to recite the Bracha according to all opinions. (See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 324:1)

425) Q: Last night I was asked to lead bentching at a sheva brachos. I agreed. Half way through the first bracha my wife says, “You didn’t wash!” What should I have done at that point? (I did eat about 5 oz of cooked barley and some other foods, but no bread.)  Did I invalidate anything or cause spiritual harm to the chosson and kallah, Chas V’Shalom? I finished the first bracha and had the man sitting next to me say the ends of the succeeding brachos out loud and people answered Amen. Almost nobody noticed. Did I still need an Al hamichya?

A: B’dieved, the first Bracha of Birchas HaMazon suffices to exempt the barley. No spiritual harm was done to the Chasan and Kallah or to anyone else in the room!
In the future…if you remember while still in middle of the first Bracha, stop, and continue the nusach of Al HaMichya from “Al SheHinchalta L’Avoseinu” until the end. (See Mishna Berura  Siman 208: 75-79. and Kaf HaChaim 208:87)
If  the second Bracha (or further)  of Birchas HaMazon was started, stop immediately where you are, even in middle of a Bracha. (Psak of Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita quoted in Sefer Shgios Mi Yavin Perek 26:28)

426) Q: Do you make Shehechiyanu on becoming a  Bar Mitzva?
A:There are various customs regarding Bar Mitzvah boys. Some have the custom to recite SheHechiyanu the first time they don Tefilin (which in many communities is a month before their actual Bar Mitzvah. See Rambam Hilchos Brachos  Perek 11:9  and Taz  Siman 22:1)
However, many Poskim maintain that no Shehechiyanu is recited on Tefilin (either because it’s leather or for other reasons). The Biur Halacha Siman 22:1 suggests putting on a new garment right before putting on the tefillin for the first time, and recite SheHechiyanu on the garment and have in mind to exempt the Tefilin.
Becoming a Bar Mitzva in it if itself does not require a SheHechiyanu, as we do not recite  SheHechiyanu every time a Mitzva presents itself for the first time, unless it is a Mitzvah bound to a certain time (a cycled Mitzvah).

427) Q: Why cant a girl marry a boy with the same name as her father?
A:  This is based on the Tzava’ah (will) of Rav Yehuda HaChasid (Tzava’ah 23) and applies to men and women equally. Apparently the reason had to do with sakana, danger, and is definitely based on kabalistic sources. The Arizal was known to be extremely  cautious about this as were the Ba’al HaTanya and other great Torah giants. (See Shu”t Tzemach Tzedek Even HaEzer Siman 143)
Volumes upon volumes have been written to deal with this issue and to find some way to explain it, and determine if it is indeed something that we need to avoid today.  This is not the forum for an extensive presentation of both sides.
Many Poskim ruled that the Tzav’ah of Rav Yehuda HaChasid which contains many such directives (such as not cutting hair on Rosh Chodesh, not visiting the same grave twice in one day etc.) is only applicable to his decendants and not mandatory for all of Klal Yisroel. (See Shu”t Noda B’yehuda , Tinyana,  Even HaEzer Siman 79)
One thing seems clear from the majority of the Poskim, that if there is even a small difference in one of the names, then it is OK and not a problem at all (e.g. one is names Moshe and the other is named Moshe Tzvi, or one is Faiga and one is Faigel) (See Hanhagos of the Chazon Ish printed in the back of Sefer Ta’ama D’Kra from Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita,  Os 31, that one who has 2 names it is considered one long name. He also writes there that parents should not name their child a name that is out of the ordinary that will cause the child embarrassment when he/she grows up)
Certain Poskim were extremely makpid on this while others were not. (Case in point: It is a well known fact that Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal, the Posek and Gadol  Hador, had two sons in law with the same name as him!)
If this is something that comes up, a Rav must be consulted to determine if it is a problem, and if it is, how to fix it (i.e. add a name, change the name etc.)

428) Q: Why do they say that each Jew is represented by one letter in the Torah, and there are 600,000 Jews and 600,000 letters in the Torah, whereas all the Chumashim say the count of letters in the Torah is only 300,000?
A: Although there are only a little more than 300,000 letteres in the Torah, kaballistically there are more as certain letters are broken into 2 and many of the Tagim, crowns of the letters, are used as well.
Just as there are more Jews than 600,000 yet they are all somehow a part of only 600,000 souls, so too there are 300,000 letters that are somehow broken up into 600,000 parts to correspond kabalistically.(See Zohar HaChadash to Shir HaShirim 74:4, Megaleh Amukos 186 and Shu”t Chavos Yair Siman 235)
See also the very last piece in Sefer  Emes L’yaakov Al HaTorah from Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal where he has a novel approach to this.

429) Q: May an avel (mourner) for a parent, during sheloshim, sing Ma’oz Tzur and HaNeiros Hallalu after lighting Chanukah candles? If not, should Ma’oz Tzur be said?
A:Yes, as long as no music is present, there is no problem with an Avel singing these Zemiros or any other Zemiros for that matter. he shouldn’t dance though.

430) Q: As I was growing up, I remember people (I dont remember if friends or adults) would say that you’re not supposed to look at the moon. Is there any truth to this?
A: Yes, there is a lot of truth to this!
The Sefer Chareidim, one of the holy Mekubalim in the times of the Bais yosef and the Arizal, writes (Perek 45:5) “It is prohibited to gaze at a rainbow…It is likewise  prohibited to gaze at the moon. Rabbeinu Meir used to be extremely stringent with this…as it is quoted in Sefer Shoshan sodos”
In the Sefer Taamei haMinhagim (Kuntres Achron to Siman 464:22) he quotes the Sefer Shevet HaMussar that Al Pi Kabalah it is just as bad to gaze at the moon as it is to gaze at a rainbow.
In the  long Nusach of Vidui from Rabbeinu Avraham, father of the Shla HaKadosh, where he enumerates hundreds of possible sins that a person needs to do Teshuva for, he lists as one of the sins ” Gazing at the  [new] moon”
The Mishna Berura Siman 426:13 brings this as well, and says that by Kidush Levana when we must look at the moon before commencingthe Bracha, acording to some opinions the moon should be glanced at for a moment and that’s all, and according to otehrs it can be looked at for the duration of the Bracha, but it seems clear that any extra gazing at the moon is indeed something that should be avoided at best and may even be considered a sin!

431) Q: Someone recently told me that it is extremely important to give Tzedakah (Charity) on Chanukah. I was surprised to hear this, as I thought Purim was the holiday with the emphasis on  charity. Is there any truth to what he told me?
A: Yes, It is customary to give extra Tzedaka on the days of Chanukah, especially to support poor people who spend their lives dedicated to learning Torah. (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 139:1 and Mishna Berura Siman 670:1 that there are [kabalistic] reasons for this)
The Yesod V’Shoresh H’Avodah (Sha’ar 12:1) expounds on this, based on the Zohar Hakadosh and the Kisvei Ha’Arizal, that one who is lax in giving of Tzedakah all year round can rectify the harm this laxity caused by increasing his/her Tzedakah on Chanukah, especially if giving to support those who learn Torah.

432) Q: Can one cook something that will be put in chicken, and make it in a pot that is used to make fish?
A: Yes. Although we don’t eat or cook fish and meat together, if no actual fish was in the pot, it is permissible to  use what was cooked in that pot with meat. This may even be done L’Chatchila, and as long as the pot is cleaned thoroughly it may be used for both meat and fish on the same day. (See Taz Yoreh Deah Siman 95:3. Most contemporary Poskim rule this way, especially as there are some Poskim including Magen Avraham (quoted in Mishna Berura Siman 173:3) who maintain that today’s days there is no Sakana  anymore with eating fish and meat together)
That being said, there is indeed a minhag amongst many Jews to retain separate pots for fish and meat, but remember that  it is a Chumrah based on a minority ruling(see Tur Yoreh Deah Siman  116:2)

433) Q: If a woman is in the hospital on Chanukah after giving birth to a child [or for any reason], does she have to light a Menorah in the hospital?
A: If her husband is lighting the Menorah in their home, she is exempted with that lighting and there is no need for her to light an additional Menorah in the hospital.
The same would apply if a man is R”L in the hospital, and his wife lights  the Menorah in their home, he is exempt from lighting  an additional Menorah in the hospital.
If, however, the spouse is not lighting at home (or if there is no spouse) then they must light in the hospital.
(See Mishna Berura Siman  677:2. See also Halichos Shlomo Perek 13:5 where he writes that if possible she should at least hear the Brachos from someone who is lighting in the hospital, based on Mishna Berura 676:6)

434) Q: Is there any issue with breaking large bills with money in a pushka? For example to take 4 $5 bills from the pushka and replacing them with a $20.
A: I once heard from a respected Rav that although it isn’t asur to do so, it is not respectful to use the Tzedaka as your “change machine”. So, unless you take back a little less than you give (such as taking $19 in singles, for a $20 bill, so the Tzedaka gets some) it should not be done.

435) Q: I live in an apartment where the ony  window to light the [Chanukah] Menorah is in the bathroom. May I light at this window? and if so,should I recite the Brachos out of the bathroom and then enter to light or should I recite the Brachos and light out of the bathroom and then move the Menorah to the window?
A: No, you may not keep the Menorah in the bathroom, as doing so is not Kavod (respectful) to the Mitzvah. If you  do not have another window [and can't light at the door], it is better to light inside your home, but definitely not in a bathroom.
Incidentally, once the Menorah is lit, it may not be moved to another location.

436) Q: If one gets married during  Chanukah, where should he light the Menorah on the night of his wedding?
A: If the Chuppah will be  at night (after Tzeis HaKochavim) he should light in the same home in which he lit until now, as at the time of the lighting he was not yet married and was still part of that home.
However, if the Chuppah was during the daytime, the Choson and kallah should go to their new apartment and eat a light meal (to establish their residency) and light the menorah in the new apartment and then return to the Chasuna hall for the duration of the wedding. (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal and YBLC”T Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita quoted in Sefer Nisuin K’Hilchasam Perek 15:60 and footnote 130.)
If this is impossible, or difficult (e.g. the Chasan is already in the hall and is unable to go to the new apartment after the Chuppah), a Shliach (messenger) should be appointed to light on his behalf. (Psak of Rav Bentzion Abba Shaul Zatzal, ibid.)

437) Q: What is the Halacha regarding writing Pesukim from Tanach on a picture or piece of calligraphy. Can one write the whole Passuk or only excerpts?
A: It is quite common to see framed works of Tehilim, Shir Hashirim  as well as  Eishes Chayil  from Mishlei etc. and this art is found in the finest of Jewish homes, so it is obviously an acceptable practice.
If possible, it’s actually probably better  to write the  entire Pasuk, rather than half a pasuk , as there is a prohibition to write half Pesukim (See Talmud Megila 22a), which may possibly apply to art as well.
Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal in Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol.  2 Siman 134 and 135 does seem to have an issue with placing  Pesukim, Tefilos etc. on calendars, announcements etc. in a way that it will be discarded or otherwise not treated with respect, but I do not think it would apply to a piece of art that will be displayed and not treated disrespectfully.
If, however, the name of Hashem is being written, it may be problematic.
For Halacha L’Ma’aseh a Rav should be consulted.

438) Q: Are we allowed to make ice cubes on shabbos?
A: A few Poskim allow the making of ice cubes on Shabbos in all instances. Other Poskim only allow this in cases of necessity (such as when you’re having guests). Some Poskim do not allow the making of ice cubes on Shabbos for any reason. (Either because of Nolad or because of Boneh)
The prevalent custom is to be stringent and not  make ice cubes unless in cases of necessity, but ideally it is best t o always prepare them before Shabbos.
Keep in mind that even if making ice cubes from water  is allowed, it doesnt necessarily mean that making ices from liquids other than water is permitted. (See The Shabbos Kitchen by Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen Shlita, page 177 in the footnote what he quotes from Rav Moshe Feinstein zatzal regarding this)
(For more details about this, see Shu”t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 3 Siman 55, Shu”t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 8 Siman 24, Shu”t Mishne Halachos Vol. 4  Siman 48 and Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6 Siman 34. See also Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchaso Perek 10:4 and footnote 14)

439) Q: Does a single girl light [Chanukah Menorah] in a dorm if her father is lighting at home? the family is in America and she is in Israel. must she light or is she included in her family?
A: If she is in Israel and her father in in the USA, she should light herself in the dorm, or if she sleeps at a relatives home she should take part in the relative’s lighting, as being that  her father is in America she isn’t considered as being supported by him (Smucha Al Shulchan AviHa) even if he does in fact support her monetarily. (Psak of Rav Nisim karelitz Shlita quoted in Sefer Shalmei Todah, Chanukah page 181)

440) Q: Since women were B’Oso HaNes (also part of the miracle) on chanukah, should they be obligated in saying Hallel ?
A: This is a huge  Machlokes HaPoskim.
From Tosefos (Sukkah 38a Dibur Hamaschil Mi SheHaya) it seems that they are indeed obligated in Halel on Chanukah just like on Pesach, where the reason for it is due to their being part of the Nes.
The Rambam, however,  Hilchos Chanukah Perek 4:14 seems to say that they are not obligated.
Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal (Shu”t Minchas Shlomo, Tinyana, Siman 58:1) and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita ( Kovetz Teshuvos Vol. 3 Siman 105) rule that they are not obligated, as they learn that the Halel on Chanukah is not on the Nes , and the obligation of women to kindle the menorah does not necessarily mean they are obligated in all aspects of Chanukah. see their Teshuvos at length.
Rav Shmuel Wosner shlita (Shevet HaLevi Vol. 1:205) and Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita (See Sefer Doleh u’mashkeh page238), rule that they are indeed obligated.
See also  Shu”t Hisorerus Teshuva Vol. 1 Siman 51, Marcheshes Vol. 1 end of Siman 10,Toras Refoel Orach Chaim Siman 75 and Sdei Chemed , Chanuka, os 9.
For Halacha L’ma’aseh a rav should be consulted.

441) Q: If a married woman is bald, does she still have to wear a headcovering, or is she permitted to reveal her scalp?
A: Besides for the reason that hair is considered “Erva” and must be covered, there is also a reason quoted by the Poskim that a married woman covers her hair as a “sign” that she is married, and this would apply to bald women as well. Also, even women that are bald are usually not 100% bald, and some hair is there. For Halacha L’Ma’aseh a rav must be consulted.

442) Q:  What is the halacha/minhag regarding adding a shabbos candle for each new child? If by adding one candle it creates an even number are we then compelled to add another to make it an odd number? What is the source for adding candles and why even numbers of candles may be a problem?
A: There is no problem with  lighting an even amount of candles. In fact, as soon as a woman starts lighting candles, before she has children, she lights two candles, which is an even number. Two candles are to commemorate Shamor and Zachor (Shulchan Aruch Siman 263:1)
With each  new child, one additional candle is added, as per the Rama Siman 263:1. In fact in the text of the Rama  he clearly  writes that a woman can light “three or four candles….”. Clearly no problem with an even amount.

443) Q: Are invitations Shaimos? I saw someone ripping off the top part and putting it away ? What about tzedaka letters that seem to have pesukim?
A: Unless they have the name of Hashem written out,  invitations, newspapers , Tzedaka letters etc. with Torah written on them  can be wrapped in a plastic bag and either discarded directly, according to many Poskim or left out at the curb for the trash collectors to discard so it will be done indirectly, according to the more stringent Poskim.

444) Q: What were the Simanim  that Rachel [Imeinu] gave to Leah that Yaakov [Avinu] told her?
A:The Midrash ( Pesicha to Eicha Rabbasi 24) doesnt say exactly what the simanim were, but it does say that at first when Rachel heard that her father was going to switch her with Leah, she told Yaakov about it and made up a secret code to ensure that Lavan’s trick doesnt work. However, afterwards Rachel decided that she could not  allow her sister to suffer the shame of  having to get married to Eisav (which was the original, one sister for each of the brothers) so she gave Leah the Simanim with Mesiras Nefesh!  Not only that, the Midrash continues, that Rachel actually hid under the bed that night inthe room with Yaakov and Leah,and every time Yaakov spoke, Rachel answered, thus Yaakov further was convinced that he married Rachel as he would have heard leah’s voice and known right away that the sisters were switched.
That Mesiras Nefesh of our mamme Rachel, according to the Midrash, is the zechus in which we will merit the Geulah Shelaima B’Mheira!
(See the Midrash at length for a fascinating discourse about how the zechus of Moshe Rabbeinu and the Avos were not enough and ONLY the  selflessness of Rachel Imeinu was able to turn the tide and establish that the Galus will be temporary and not permamnetnt Chas V’Shalom)
The Da’as Zekeinim from The Ba’alei Tosefos to Bereishis 29:25 says that the 3 Simanim that  Yaakov gave her were  [ the halachos of]  Nidah, Challah and Hadlokas neiros, the 3 primary Mitzvos applicable to women.
[After seeing the above answer, a reader emailed me the following: "If memory serves, Ramban writes (in his Igeres HaKadosh?) that the simanim were pulling/touching Yaakov Avinu's *bohen* of the right ear, thumb and big toe." ].
Another reader sent me the same thing, which is quoted in the Kaf HaChaim  Siman 240:64

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