ARCHIVES: HILCHOS ITER YAD

(Halachos of Right Handed/ Left Handed people)

BELOW ARE THE HALACHOS FROM THE  DAILY EMAILS THAT WERE SENT OUT TO THE “HALACHA FOR TODAY” DAILY EMAIL LIST

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 2010

INTRODUCTION:
Most people in the world are “right handed”, commonly referred to as “righties”.
A small percentage of people, however, are “left handed”, commonly referred to as “lefties”. (According to Wikipedia, seven to ten percent of the adult population is left-handed).
There are people who are ambidextrous, meaning they can use both hands equally well.
What does this have to do with Halacha?
Plenty.
There are many Mitzvos which must be done with the hands, and the question arises which hand to use? Is it always the right hand? Is it always the strong hand? Does it even make a difference?
We will now embark on a study of this topic and hopefully come away with some clarity in this often misunderstood subject.
Maran HaGaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita published a small Sefer titled “Ish Iter- The left handed person” which briefly covers these Halachos. I am using that Sefer as my starting point and guide for these Halachos and hope to B’Ezras Hashem expand upon what is written there in more detail. Anything I write without any additional source is taken directly from Rav Chaim’s Sefer.
As an introduction, before we begin to cover the actual Halachos, we will enumerate the 8 categories into which Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita divides all the Halachos of Mitzvos needing a certain hand or direction.
Hopefully by understanding the logic behind these 8 categories we will be better able to grasp why each Halacha we will learn has been determined to be that way by the Poskim.
1-   Certain Mitzvos require a person’s stronger hand. These Mitzvos are determined by each individual’s strength and not based on the majority of people.
2-    Certain Mitzvos must be done “to the right” of Hashem. These Mitzvos are of course done with the left hand by all people regardless of their particular stronger hand.
3-   Certain Mitzvos are done to a certain side due to the position of a person’s heart, windpipe, ear etc. Here too, there will be no difference between righties and lefties.
4-   Certain Mitzvos require the more “Chashuv, respected” hand. As we shall see, these Mitzvos are subject to a debate amongst the Poskim if “Chashuv” is determined by each individual or if it is determined by the majority of the world.
5-   Certain Mitzvos require the right hand because the Torah specifically writes “Use the Right hand”. Seemingly, these Mitzvos must be fulfilled via the right hand for all people. We shall see if there are differing opinions to this.
6-   Certain Mitzvos are done not necessarily with a certain hand per se , rather  “to the right side” based on the concept  of ” Kol Pinos Sh’Ata Poneh YihYu Derech Yemin, Whatever you do, do it to the right side”. We shall see if lefties perhaps do these things to the left.
7-   Certain Mitzvos are fulfilled only while standing opposite another person. We shall see if the Mitzvah is done with the hand that is opposite the right side of the other person or not.
8-   Certain things need to at times be held in a certain hand to allow the other hand to remain free for another task. We shall see how this affects left and right handed people.

HALACHOS  FOR THURSDAY, JULY 22, 2010

1) When putting on shoes in the morning, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim Siman 2:4) teaches us the proper order as follows:
The right show should be put on first but not tied. The left shoe should then be put on and tied and then we go back to the right shoe and tie it.
If the shoe is a slip on shoe, then the right shoe is put on first followed by the left shoe. (Rama ibid.)
The reason for putting the right shoe on first is to show that the Torah always gives Chashivus, deference, to the right. Thus, a left handed person should also put on the right shoe first.
The reason that the left shoe is tied first, however, is because in matters of “tying” the Torah gives deference to the left, as Tefilin are tied on the left arm. (Mishna Berura ibid. S”K 5 and 6)
Thus, a left handed person who ties his Tefilin on the right arm should indeed tie the right shoe first and then proceed to put on and tie the left shoe. (Mishna Berura ibid.)
Regarding a left handed woman, who does not tie Tefilin on her arm, there is a dispute amongst the Poskim if she should tie the right shoe first like a left handed man or her left shoe first since the Tefilin comparison doesn’t apply to her. Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita (in Sefer Derech Sicha Parshas V’Eschanan, page 517) rules that left handed women are like left handed men and they tie their right shoe first (See also  Shu”t Avnei Yashfe Vol. 1 Siman 1 and Shu”t Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 1 Siman 5 and Vol. 7 Siman 18. See also Shu”t Shevet Hakehasi Vol. 1 Siman 6.)
2) When removing shoes, the left one should be taken off first. This applies to left handed people as well. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 2:5 and Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:1)

HALACHOS  FOR EREV SHABBOS, JULY 23, 2010

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) When putting on an article of clothing, it is proper to hold both sides of the garment in the right hand and then put on the right side and then the left side. (Mishna Berura Siman 2:4. See Sha’ar HaTziyun Os 10 that this is based on kabalistic teachings which tell us that the “right” is the side of Rachamim, heavenly compassion and the “left” is the side of din, heavenly Judgment, and thus when we initially  place the entire garment in the right hand, we  bring compassion to the entire garment, even the left side.  See also Kaf HaChaim Siman 2:7)
2) There is no differentiation between righties and lefties regarding this Halacha, as it has nothing to do with any hand, rather with a “side” of heavenly compassion which is the same for all people.

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) Some people (common in Chasidic circles) are stringent, based on the kabalistic reasons cited above,  when buttoning their shirts, jackets or coats to make sure the buttons are on the left side and the button holes on the right side to ensure that the right side of the garment lays on top of the left side.
Women’s clothing are usually manufactured this way, while men’s clothing are usually manufactured the opposite way, and need to be custom made [or bought in Chasidic clothing stores] in order to adhere to this kabalistic custom. (See Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 453. See also Orchos Rabbeinu page 227 that the Chazon Ish Zatzal and the Steipler Zatzal were very makpid on this.)
2)Here too, there is no difference between righties and lefties, and if one is stringent with this he should have the buttons on the left side even if he is a lefty.

 

HALACHOS  FOR SUNDAY, JULY 25, 2010

1) When cleaning the hands, the right hand should be washed first. (Mishna Berura Siman 2:7)
When showering or otherwise washing the entire body, the head should be washed first, as it is the king of all the limbs, and is then followed by the right hand, left hand, right foot left foot. (ibid. and Halichos Shlomo, Tefilah, Perek 2 footnote 30 in Dvar Halacha. See also Rambam Hilchos Dei’os Perek 4:16)
2) All of the aforementioned Halachos apply equally to righties and lefties. (See Mishna Berura Siman 2:6 and Siman 4:22. See also Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:1)
Many Poskim are of the opinion that nowadays it is not necessary to wash in any particular order. However, many Poskim do say that if possible to stick to this order it is still praiseworthy. (See Mogen Avraham Siman 2:4, Halichos Shlomo ibid.)

HALACHOS  FOR MONDAY, JULY 26 2010

1) After using the restroom, a right handed person should not use his right hand to clean himself. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 3:10)
One reason for this is that the right hand is used to tie the Tefilin onto the left hand, and thus should not be used for such an unclean task.  Also, the right hand is used for eating, writing and for assisting the Ba’al Korei in reading the Torah and other holy tasks. (See Talmud Brachos 62a and Rashi there, Aruch HaShulchan Siman 3:7 and Mishna Berura Siman 3:17)
Even when using the left hand, the middle finger should not be used as the strap of the Tefilin is wrapped around that finger. (Mishna Berura ibid. quoting the Shla HaKadosh)
A left handed person, who uses his left hand to tie the Tefilin onto his right hand, should use his right hand to clean himself and not use the middle finger.  (Regarding an ambidextrous person, see Biur Halacha Siman 3 Dibur Hamaschil Yemin)
2) According to some Poskim, nowadays when we  have toilet paper, it isn’t necessary to  follow the above guidelines, and they maintain that it is better to use the stronger hand rather than risk soiling the hands by using the weaker hand. (See Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 7 Siman 2:2. However, the Kaf HaChaim Siman 3:22 maintains that this is in effect today as well.  Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita also rules that it applies today as well.)
According to some Poskim, the above applies to women as well, even though they do not wear Tefilin, as there are other Kabalistic reasons for this as well. (See Ben Ish Chai Parshas VaYeitzei Siman 14 and Kaf HaChaim Siman 3:23. Other Poskim, including the Chida and the Har Tzvi,  are lenient and rule that women need not be concerned with this and may use any hand)

HALACHOS  FOR TUESDAY, JULY 27 2010

1) When washing the hands upon rising in the morning ( Negel Vasser) the cup should be held in the right hand and filled with water (or if it was already filled from the night before, it should initially be picked up with the right hand), then transferred to the left hand and the water poured on the right hand first. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 4:10)
According to some Poskim, this applies to all washings of Netilas Yadayim throughout the day, and not just to Negel Vasser. (See Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:3)
2) A left handed person follows the above mentioned order as well and washes the right hand first, as the primary reason the right hand is washed first is Al Pi Kabala, as we want the Ko’ach of the right hand (Chesed) to overpower the Ko’ach of the left hand (Din). (See Mishna Berura Siman 4:22 and Kaf HaChaim Siman 4:35)

HALACHOS  FOR WEDNESDAY, JULY 28 2010

1) When a man puts on his Talis in the morning, the Talis should initially cover his face, until his mouth. Those that throw the majority of the Talis over themselves and have it reach down way beyond their mouth are not doing a proper Atifa, wrapping. (Mishna Berura Siman 8:4. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 8:5 and Aruch HaShulchan Siman 8:5)
During this procedure, part of the Talis must be on the back. If the entire Talis is draped over the neck like a shawl, the obligation has not been satisfied. (See Be’er Heitev Siman 8:3 quoting the Mogen Avraham. Unfortunately, I often observe  people  not being careful with this. Additionally,in certain communities the Talesim are small and worn as shawls around the neck only throughout the davening. This is not proper, at least for Ashkenazim.  Some Sephardim have a different custom regarding this; See Ben Ish Chai Bereishis Siman 5)
2) The four strings of Tzitzis should then be taken and  thrown over his left shoulder and remain that way for the amount of time it takes to walk four Amos (approximately 8 feet) (Mishna Berura ibid.)
The primary reason for the Tzitzis being placed on the left shoulder is Al Pi Kabala, and thus even left handed men should follow the above procedure. (See Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:3)
Another reason given for this is that Tzitzis serves to combat the Yetzer Hara as it says in the Parsha of Tzitzis (Bamidbar 15:39) “V’Lo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem, you shall not err after your heart” and thus the Tzitzis are flung over the shoulder on the side of the heart. According to this reason as well, left handed men follow the same procedure. (See Shu”t Radvaz Vol. 3 Siman 571. See also Ben Ish Chai Parshas Bereishis 5, Kitzur Shnei Luchos HaBris (Shla HaKadosh) Hilchos Tzitzis and Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah 386. See also Talmud Menachos 44a and Avoda Zara 17a)
After waiting the proper amount of time, the Tzitzis should be placed in their appropriate place (two in the front on the right and left side and two in the back on the right and left side) (Mishna Berura ibid.)

HALACHOS  FOR THURSDAY, JULY 29 2010

1) It is a Mitzvah for Jewish males to hold their Tzitzis in their left hands, near the heart, during the recitation of Krias Shma [of Shacharis]. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 24:2)
The reason for their being held in the left hand is due to the Posuk (Devarim 6:6) V’Hayu HaDevarim Ha’eileh…Al Levavecha, and these words…on your heart” (ibid.)
2) The Tzitzis should be held between the pinky and the ring finger for the entire Shma, and when reciting the Parsha of Tzitzis (V’Yomer) it should also be held with the right hand and gazed upon. (Mishna Berura Siman 24:4)
They should be held in this position until after the words “Ne’emanim V’nechemadim La’Ad” [in V'yatziv] are said. They should then be kissed and released from both hands. (Mishna Berura ibid. quoting the Arizal)
Since the reason for the left hand is due to its proximity to the heart, there is no difference in this Halacha between righties and lefties.

 

 

 

HALACHOS  FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, JULY 30 2010 (DOUBLE PORTION L’KAVOD SHABBOS)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) Jewish males [over the age of 13] must don Tefilin every single day, except Shabbos and Yom Tov (and Chol HaMoed according to some)
One who does not don Tefilin is shunned by Hashem (Talmud Pesachim 113b)
One who fulfills the Mitzvah of Tefilin is as if he fulfilled all the Mitzvos of the Torah (Talmud Kidushin 35a)
2) The Tefilin is placed on the weaker hand. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 27:1 and Mishna Berura S”K 1)
Thus, right handed men place the Tefilin on their left hands and left handed people [who do everything with their left hands] place the Tefilin on their right hands. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 27:6)
If the Tefilin was placed on the wrong hand, the obligation has not been fulfilled even B’dieved. (See Be’er Heitev Siman 27:11 and Mishna Berura Siman 27:1 and 24)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) There is a minority opinion amongst the Poskim that rules that a even a left handed person should place Tefilin on his left hand.
Some Poskim are stringent and say that lefties should first place the Tefilin on their right hands and then also place on their left hands to satisfy the minority opinion. (See Sha’arei Teshuva Siman 27:7 and Kaf HaChaim Siman 27:31. See also Shu”t Az Nidberu Vol. 14 Siman 33, Ohr L’Tzion Vol. 2 Siman 83:3 and Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 41)
The prevalent custom, however, is for lefties to just place their Tefilin on the right hand.
2) If a person writes with his right hand but does everything else (eats, throws a ball etc.) with his left hand or vice versa, a Rav must be consulted as to which hand is considered his stronger hand. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 27:6. See also  Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 11 and Vol. 3 Siman 2 , Shu”t Minchas Shlomo Vol. 2 Siman 3 , Kobetz Teshuvos from Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Shlita Vol. 1 Siman 4 and Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 41)

 

 

 

HALACHOS  FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 1 2010

1) Every Jewish male is obligated to recite the entire Krias Shma twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Women, M’Ikar HaDin, are exempt from reciting the entire Krias Shema. However, they should (and according to some Poskim must) recite the first Posuk of “Shema Yisroel…” and “Baruch Sheim…” each morning and evening as they are definitely obligated in Kabolas Ol Malchus Shamayim ,accepting upon themselves the yoke of Hashem’s sovereignty. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 70:1 and Mishna Berura S”K 4)
2) The custom is to cover the eyes with the hand when saying the first Posuk of Shma Yisroel as to ensure that the eyes do not wander and prevent proper concentration (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 61:5)
The hand that should be used to cover the eyes is the right hand. (Mishna Berura Siman 61:17)
The Poskim discuss that the reason for using the right hand is because the left hand is already occupied with holding the Tzitzis (as we previously discussed) and thus the free hand is used to cover the face. The Sefarim also write that there are kabalistic reasons for using the right hand for this purpose. (See Sefer Od Yosef Chai from the Ben Ish Chai Parshas V’Eira Os 2 Dibur Hamaschil U’Mah Shekasav)
Since both righties and lefties hold their Tzitzis in their left hands, they both use their right hands for covering the face. (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 61:21)
Although women do not hold Tzitzis when reciting Krias Shma, they should still use their right hand to cover their face, due to the kabalistic reasons for using this hand.
Some people have the custom to simply close their eyes when saying Shma, without putting any hand on their eyes. This is not a proper custom according to kabalistic sources. (See Ben Ish Chai ibid. Os 1)

HALACHOS  FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 2 2010

1) While davening Shemona Esrei, one’s hands should be in the same position they would be in were the person speaking to a human king, dignitary or president. (During Shemona Esrei we are standing “L’fnei HaMelech- in the presence of the King [of Kings]!”)
A person’s hands may not be in their pockets, crossed over their chest, or any other disrespectful position during Shemona Esrei (and ideally not at any other part of davening either)
Thecorrect position is dependent on each place and time.
In the old days the right hand was placed on top of the left hand when in the presence of a king.
Today it is acceptable for the hands to be placed gently at one’s side, although some people still have the custom to place the right hand on top of the left hand and hold it near the heart, as there are kabalistic reasons for standing in this position. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 95:3 and Mishna Berura S”K 6. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 95:4. This is a proper custom which many Yirei Shomayim, G-d fearing Jews, follow.)
2) For Kabalistic reasons, the left hand should never be placed over the right hand as the power of the right (Rachamim) should always overpower the left (which is symbolic of the Yetzer Hara). (See Darchei Moshe Siman 95:3)
Thus, left handed people who place their hands near their heart while davening Shemona Esrei, should also make sure to have their right hand on top of their left hand.
All of the above applies to women as well as to men.

HALACHOS  FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 3 2010

1) If while davening Shemona Esrei, one finds his/her mind wandering, he/she should stop until the foreign thoughts pass and then resume the davening with concentration.
In order to get the mind back to the task at hand (i.e. talking to Hashem), one should focus on thoughts that humble the heart and bring it to center on serving Hashem… (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 98:1)
A Segulah (spiritual remedy) for clearing the mind before starting to daven  is to pass the right hand three times over the forehead, and each time say the Posuk (Tehillim 51:12, in the chapter of Teshuva) “Lev Tahor Bra Li Elokim, V’Ruach Nachon Chadesh B’Kirbi, Create me a clean heart, Hashem; and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”.
Likewise, if an unclean or otherwise foreign thought enters the mind during Shemona Esrei (or any other part of davening where talking out is prohibited), the right hand should be passed over the forehead three times and the abovementioned Posuk “thought” in the mind with each passing of the hand. (as actually saying it then would be a Hefsek).  (Mishna Berura Siman 98:2 quoting the Elya Rabbah in the name of the Shl”a HaKadosh)
2) Being as this is a Segulah based on kabalistic sources and ideas (right hand representing Rachamim etc.) it applies equally to lefties and righties. (Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:7b)

HALACHOS  FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4 2010

1) Before beginning Shemona Esrei, one should take three steps forward as a gesture of “approaching” the King [of Kings]. (The reason for three steps is because it says “VaYigash -and he approached” three times in Tanach; once by Avraham, once by Yehuda and once by Eliyahu Hanavi. See Darchei Moshe Siman 95)
The prevalent Minhag is to take 3 steps backwards before taking the three steps forward.
The Steipler Zatzal’s Minhag was not to take the three steps backward, and simply to move up three steps from wherever he was standing and begin Shemona Esrei (Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 1 Siman 193)
2) The Poskim say that it is correct to take these three steps  (both backwards and forwards) beginning with the stronger foot, unlike after finishing Shemona Esrei when the weak foot goes first. (See Mishna Berura Siman 123:13. The reason for the weak foot first after Shemona Esrei, doesn’t apply for before Shemona Esrei)
Thus, righties take these steps, backwards and forward, beginning with their right foot, and lefties use their left foot.

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 5 2010

1)After completing Shemona Esrei, saying “Elokai Netzor” and saying “YihYu L’Ratzon” , three steps must be taken back, while simultaneously bending the back and  bowing , the way a servant takes leave of a master. (See Mishna Berura Siman 123:1)
One of the reasons for the three steps is because Nebuchadnezzar was allowed to destroy the Bais HaMikdash due to his running three steps forward in honor of Hashem; therefore we take three steps back and ask Hashem to rebuild the Bais HaMikdash (Mishna Berura Siman 123:2 quoting the Bais Yosef.See Talmud Sanhedrim 96a (where it says 4 steps This is also how it is stated in the Zohar Parshas Mikeitz. The Gra has a version 3 and a half steps)  In Midrash Megilas Esther Chapter 3:1 it is brought as three steps. It is also quoted by Rashi to Yirmiyah Perek 12 Posuk 5 as three steps. See MaHarsha to Sanhedrin ibid.)
The first of the three steps should be taken with the weak foot (for righties, usually their left foot, and for lefties, usually their right foot).
The reason for starting with the weak foot is that we “step away” from Hashem with our weaker foot, so it should seem like it is difficult for us to take leave of Hashem (See Mishna Berura Siman 123:13)
The size of the step should be the length of one foot, i.e. the big toe of the weak foot should reach right behind the heel of the stronger foot.
The second step is then taken with the stronger foot. The size of this step should be the length of 2 feet, i.e. the big toe of the strong foot should now reach right behind the heel of the weaker foot.
The third step, again with the weak foot, should be the length of one foot, which will once again bring the two feet together. (See Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil K’ShePosaya, quoting the Chayei Adam and Shulchan Aruch HaRav who rule as we wrote. This is also the ruling of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and the Mogen Avraham. The Biur Halacha also quotes another opinion of the Taz who rules that even lefties begin with their left foot. The Kaf HaChaim Siman 123:23 and the Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:9 rule like the Taz. The prevalent custom is the way the Biur Halacha rules. For Halacha L’ma’aseh, of course, a Rav should be consulted. )
2) Some Poskim maintain that the aforementioned measurements, which are derived from the way Kohanim must stand during the Avodah, are not applicable to women. (See Sefer Ishei Yisroel, quoting Sefer Orach Ne’eman Siman 123:11)

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, AUGUST 6 2010 (DOUBLE PORTION L’KAVOD SHABBOS KODESH)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) After the three backward steps are taken, and while the back is still bent and the feet are together (like they were during Shemona Esrei), the head should be tilted to the left side and the 3 words “Oseh Shalom B’Meromav” should be said.
The head should then be tilted to the right side and the next 4 words “Hu Ya’aseh Shalom Aleinu” should be said.
Then you should bow your head to the direction directly in front of you and the last 5 words “V’Al Kal Yisroel V’Imru Amen” should be said.
It is important to make sure not to start saying “Oseh Shalom…” while the three backward steps are being taken, rather make sure to follow the method described above.
The same Halacha applies when saying “Oseh Shalom” at the conclusion of Kaddish.(Mishna Berura Siman 123:3)
2) When taking the three steps backwards after Shemona Esrei, a left handed person also tilts his/her head to the left first when saying Oseh Shalom, as the reason for this is that the Shechina is in front of us and we are bowing to the right of the Shechina. (Psak of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita)
Immediately following the recital of  “Oseh Shalom” the body should be straightened out and “Yehi Ratzon…SheYibaneh Bais HaMikdash” should be recited, asking Hashem to rebuild the Bais HaMikdash so that we can once again perform the real Avodah and not need to rely on the Avodah of Tefilah, which is its substitute.

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) When the Shliach Tzibbur repeats the Shemona Esrei during the morning prayers, he adds in “Birchas Kohanim” right before the Bracha of “Sim Shalom”. (This is in place of the actual Birchas Kohanim, known as “duchening” of the Kohanim which in most places in Chutz L’Aretz is only done on Yom Tov. In many places in Eretz Yisroel as well as in some Sephardic congregations in Chutz L’Aretz, they do perform actual Birchas Kohanim daily)
2) When the Shliach Tzibbur says the words “YeVarechecha Hashem” he should face the Aron Hakodesh.
When saying “V’Yishmarecha” he should turn to his right side.
When saying the words “Ya’er Hashem” he should once again face the Aron Hakodesh.
Finally, when saying the words “Panav Eilecha ViChuneka” he should turn to his left side, which is the right of the Shechina.  (Zohar Parshas Naso quoted in Be’er Heitev Siman 127:4 and Mishna Berura S”K 8. See also Shu”y Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 17 Siman 18 for more on this topic)
Since this is based on turning towards the Shechina, both lefties and righties follow the same procedure detailed above.
(Parenthetically, See Midrash Rabbah Bamidbar Parsha 12 toward the end of Siman 4 where the Brachos of  “Birchas Kohanim are likened to a Kemeia (a spiritual amulet) provided by Hashem  that protects Klal Yisroel, Hashem’s beloved children, from Ayin Hara, the evil eye)

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 8 2010

1) When taking out, handing over, holding or carrying a Sefer Torah, it should be held with the stronger hand, thus a right handed person should carry it so that it leans on his right shoulder and he grasps it with his right hand, and vice versa for a left handed person. (Pri Megadim, Aishel Avraham, Siman 134)
Some  Poskim, however, rule that even left handed people need to take it out  and hand it over with their right hand, as it is more respectful for the Sefer Torah to be held on the right side. (However, it is possible that they rule this way only for taking out and handing over of the Torah, but not necessarily the entire time it is being held)
Another reason cited is based on the Posuk (Devarim 33:2) “MiMino Aish Das Lamo” which means that the Torah was written with Hashem’s right hand and given to us by Hashem with His right hand. (See Darchei Moshe Siman 134 quoting MaHaril ,Sha’ar Ephraim Sha’ar 10:2 and Mishna Berura Siman 282:1 and Sha’ar HaTziun Os 2.)
2) All agree that if by holding it on his right side with his right hand it is in jeopardy of falling, that it be held on the left side with the left hand. (Sha’ar Ephraim ibid.)
There is no problem if the weaker hand is used to assist the stronger hand in taking out, handing over and carrying a Sefer Torah. (ibid.)

 

HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 9 2010

1) After reading the Torah (according to the Sephardic tradition this is done before the reading of the Torah) Hagbahas HaTorah, lifting of the Torah is performed, as follows:
Somebody from the Tzibbur lifts up the Torah and unfurls it a minimum of three columns of writing, so that the writing in the Torah can be seen. (See Mishna Berura Siman 134:8)
It is proper to make sure the seam is in the middle before lifting the Torah. (Sha’ar Ephraim Sha’ar 10:17)
The one lifting it needs to turn to his right, slowly, and make a complete circle so that every single person in the Shul as well as in the women’s section can see the Torah’s words. (Mishna Berura Siman 134:9. Sha’ar Ephraim Sha’ar 10:13. In the event that there are no people in the front part of the Shul, it suffices to turn to the right and then to the left and not make a complete circle. See Halichos Shlomo Tefilah Perek 12:28. See Ramban Devarim 27:26 that one who doesn’t lift the Torah so that everyone can see it is subject to the Torah’s curse of Arur Asher Lo Yakim Es HaTorah HaZos.)
A left handed person also makes the complete circle by turning to the right, as since this is a public display it is not respectful to do it differently than most people do it. (Ruling of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita based on Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos Zahav, Siman 128:11 and other Poskim. See also Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:14)
2) It is proper to see the words in the Torah to the point that they can actually be read, as doing so is extremely beneficial for spiritual growth. (See Mishna Berura Siman 134:11. According to kabalistic sources it is proper to see the first letter of your name, if possible, while gazing at the Sefer Torah during Hagbah)
When seeing the words of the Torah all present should bend their knees and say the words “V’Zos HaTorah Asher Sam Moshe Lifnei Bnei Yisroel. [Al Pi Hashem yachanu V'Al Pi Hashem Yisa'u Es Mishmeres Hashem Shamaru] Al Pi Hashem B’Yad Moshe”. (A combination of 2 Pesukim, one in Devarim 4:44 and one in Bamidbar 9:23. According to the Gaon of Vilna, the beginning of the second Posuk, which are in brackets above,  is added in as well, as per the Talmud’s dictum (Taanis 27b) not to split Pesukim in half.) (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 134:2 based on a Mishna in Maseches Sofrim Perek 14:14)
(Regarding pointing to the Torah when saying the aforementioned Posuk, an almost universally followed minhag that has no real source in the Poskim, see Q&A #452 here )

HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 10 2010

1) When a Jewish male receives an Aliyah to the Torah, he recites a Bracha before the reading (Baruch…Asher Bachar Banu M’Kal HaAmim…) and a Bracha after the reading (Baruch…Asher Nasan Lanu Es Toraso…)
Before reciting the first Bracha, the Ba’al Koreh (the one reading the Torah) shows the one getting the Aliyah the correct place from where the reading will begin, and on which he will be reciting the Bracha. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 139:4 and Mishna Berura S”K 16)
When reciting the first Bracha, the Torah remains open. (See Mishna Berura S”K 17)
When reciting the first Bracha, in order that it shouldn’t seem like he is reading the Brachos from within the Torah scroll (which, if it would be so, would invalidate the scroll) he turns his head slightly away from the Torah.
The direction to turn the head should be to the left. (See Rama Siman 139:4 and Mishna Berura S”K 19)
Left handed people also turn their heads to the left, as it is done that direction in deference of the right side of the Shechina. (See Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:14. See also Aruch HaShulchan Siman 139:13 that the reason here has nothing to do with the Shechina, as only by Tefilah are we standing “Lifnei Hamelech”. Rather he writes that it is done to the left as that is the direction of the reader of the Torah.)
2) Some Poskim frown upon this minhag, as they say that turning the head away from the Torah makes it seem like the Bracha is being recited on something else and not on the Torah reading at hand. Rather, they say the head should remain straight and the eyes should be closed instead. (See Mishna Berura ibid. This was the Minhag of the Chazon Ish Zatzal)
Alternately, another Minhag is to not turn the head and also not close the eyes, and rather to close the Sefer Torah for the duration of the Bracha and only open it upon completion of the Bracha for the reading. (This was the minhag of the Steipler Zatzal. See Piskei Teshuvos Siman 139 footnote 62)
Any of the above methods are acceptable. (See Biur Halacha Siman 139 Dibur Hamaschil V’Roeh Haposuk)

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11 2010

1) Before eating bread, there is an obligation to wash the hands.
The proper order regarding which hand goes first is as follows:
The washing cup should be held in the right hand, filled with water, and then transferred to the left hand.
The right hand should then be washed [twice, or even once if being done with an abundance of water].
The cup should then be transferred to the right hand, filled with water (if necessary), and the left hand should then be washed [twice, or even once if being done with an abundance of water]. (Mogen Avraham in introduction to Siman 158. Also brought in the Siddur Ya’avetz and in the name of the Gaon of Vilna)
2) A left handed person should also follow the above procedure, and wash his/her right hand first. (See Pri Megadim, Aishel Avraham, Siman 158:1 and Mishna Berura Siman 4:22)
The reason for this is that there are kabalistic reasons for the right hand being washed first
If one’s hands are being washed by someone else, the right hand is washed first as well. (See Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 3 Siman 32)
Some have the custom when raising their hands after washing for bread to raise right hand a bit higher than the left hand. (See Piskei Teshuvos Siman 162 footnote 15)
[For a comprehensive review of Hilchos Netilas Yadayim, see archives here

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 12 2010

1) It is a Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar (the ideal, proper way to perform the Mitzvah) when reciting Birchas HaMazon after a meal to recite it over a cup of wine (Kos Shel Bracha) (See Mishna Berura Siman 182:1 that doing so is respectful and a proper expression of praise to Hashem, as it says in the Posuk (Tehillim 116) Kos Yeshuos Esa U'V'eshaim Hashem Ekra, A cup of salvation I will lift and the name of Hashem I will call).
Although according to some Poskim this applies even to an individual person who ate alone, the prevalent custom is to use a cup of wine only when three or more men participated in the meal; some people only use a cup of wine when a minyan of men participated. (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 182: 1 and Mishna Berura S"K 4. See also Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 3 Siman 52:3)
Whenever a Kos Shel Bracha is used, the following procedure for lifting it should be followed:
The cup should initially be lifted by the one reciting the Bracha with both hands, to show our love for the Mitzvah. (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 183:4 and Mishna Berura 183:12. Some people have the custom that someone else hands them the cup, probably from the terminology of the Shulchan Aruch who uses the word "Mekablo" which can also be translated as "receiving". Even when receiving from someone else, it should be taken with both hands.)
When the Bracha begins to be recited, the left hand should be removed and the cup held only with the right hand, as holding it with two hands makes it seem like the Mitzvah is a burden. (ibid.)
If the left hand is needed to support the right hand, it is acceptable, as long as both hands aren't on the cup. (Rama ibid.)
2) According to the Shulchan Aruch (quoting the opinion of a "Yesh Omrim" which is the opinion of the Shibolei HaLeket Siman 156 and Meiri to Shabbos 103 Dibur Hamaschil Mimah SheKasavnu), a left handed person removes his right hand and continues to hold the cup with his left hand for the duration of the Bracha. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 183:5)
However, according to some Poskim, a left handed person also continues to hold the cup in his right hand.
Likewise, kabalistic sources concur  with those that rule that there is no difference between right handed and left handed people in regard to this Halacha.(See Kaf HaChaim Siman 183:29 that the Bais Yosef himself in Siman 651 rules this way contradicting what he writes in Shulchan Aruch. He also quotes the Zohar to this effect. See also Ben Ish Chai Parshas Shelach Siman 19)

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, AUGUST 13 2010 (DOUBLE PORTION L'KAVOD SHABBOS KODESH)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1)When reciting a Bracha on a food/drink [or when reciting a Bracha before smelling  Besamim]  it is proper to hold the item in your hand, as doing so will lead to better Kavanah.
However, if the Bracha was recited without the item being in your hand, B’dieved it is an acceptable Bracha, as long as the item is in front of you. (Mishna Berura Siman 206:17)
2) Right handed people should hold the item in their right hand and left handed people should hold it in their left hands, as holding the item in the stronger hand is a sign of Chashivus, importance. (Mishna Berura 206:18 quoting Rav Akiva Eiger and the Mogen Avraham Siman 183)
The above does not apply to bread, as bread needs to be held with both hands (i.e. all ten fingers) when reciting Hamotzi. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 167:4 for the reasons)
The item should be held directly in the hands and not while wearing gloves.
Similarly, if the food is in a snack bag or the like, some of it should be removed and held in the hand not via the bag during the recital of the Bracha. (See Mishna Berura 167:23)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) If the food being eaten is normally eaten with a utensil (e.g. soup with a spoon or spaghetti in sauce with a fork) it can be held in the utensil while the Bracha is recited.
However, food that is not normally eaten with a utensil should not be held with a utensil while the Bracha is being said, as that is not respectful to the Bracha. (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 206:32. See also Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 8 Siman 28 regarding holding the food with a napkin in order to keep the hands clean.)
2) For Kabalistic reasons, it is best never to hold food with a metal knife.
According to some opinions, food should not be held with any knife, even plastic, as knives are a symbol of the opposite of life. (Mishna Berura Siman 206:18. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav 206:8 and Kaf HaChaim 206:31 who says even a metal fork should not be used, however it is not the prevalent custom to be makpid on a fork)

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 15 2010

1) When handing over a Sefer (any book containing Torah content) to another person it should be handed over with the right hand as the Torah was given with the right hand of Hashem. (See Sefer Chasidim Siman 109)
Likewise, the one receiving it should accept it with their right hand. (See Mishna Berura Siman 206:18 and Kaf HaChaim Siman 206:30 and Siman 134:23. See also Kobetz Tzohar Vol. 11 page 68 quoting Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita)
2) This applies equally to lefties and righties. (See Mishna Berura Siman 282:1)
Other Poskim argue and maintain that left handed people give and receive Seforim with their stronger hand. (See Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:18)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 16 2010

1)One should not sleep on his stomach nor on his back, rather on his side.
In the beginning of the night he should sleep on his left side and at the end of the night on his right side. (Rambam Hilchos Dei’os Perek 4 Halacha 5)
One of the reasons given for this is that the liver is on the right side and the stomach is on the left side, and thus when one sleeps on the left side, the liver’s heat will warm the stomach and will help the digestive system. (Sefer Aleh L’Terufah quoted in Sefer HaLikutim back of the Shabsi Frankel edition of the Rambam. See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 71:5)
Another reason for the prohibition of sleeping on the back or on the stomach is to prevent embarrassing situations and/or nocturnal emissions while sleeping. (See Rashi to Brachos 13b Dibur Hamaschil Layit Aman. See also Pele Yoetz, “Yemin” and  Shu”t Az Nidberu Vol. 6 Siman 50 regarding if these positions apply only to when going to sleep or to any time one lays down. See also Mishna Berura Siman 239:6 where he refers to sleeping on the back or stomach as an “Issur Gadol, a big sin”)
Lastly, there are kabalistic reasons for not sleeping on the back and the stomach. (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 238:11)
2) This Halacha applies equally to men and women (as even though the second reason cited does not apply to women, the first and third reason do. Though for women it isn’t considered a big sin if they do not follow this Halacha)
This Halacha also applies equally to right handed people and left handed people.

HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 17 2010

1)It is a Mitzvah to cut the nails of the hands in honor of Shabbos.
One should not cut the nails of his hands on the same day as cutting the nails of the toes. (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 72:14)
It is best not to cut nails in order, as doing so can present a danger and cause one to forget their Torah learning.
Start with the left hand as follows: ring finger, pointer, pinky, middle finger then the thumb.
Then move on to the right hand and cut the nail of pointer, ring finger, thumb,middle finger and then the pinky. (See Rama Siman 261:1 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman ibid. Some Poskim, including the Aruch HaShulchan,  rule to start with the right hand but the prevalent Minhag is to begin with the left.)
There is no difference between left handed and right handed people in regard to the order of cutting nails.
2) After nails are cut they should be burned. Flushing them down the toilet is sufficient for them to be considered burnt.
The Talmud (Niddah 17a) says that a pregnant woman who steps on nails is in danger of losing her child Chas V’Shalom. The Gemara goes so far as to call one who doesn’t dispose of his/her nails properly a Rasha, an evil person.
Although the Shulchan Aruch doesn’t bring this Halacha directly, the Poskim do indeed quote the Gemara and seem to be very stringent with this Halacha L’Ma’aseh.  (The Chazon Ish was extremely makpid with this as were many Gedolim.)
This only applies if the nails are in the place where they were dropped, but once they were moved, they are no longer a danger. Thus if one did cut their nails, it is important to sweep the area to make sure the nails move from where they fell.
(See Mogen Avraham beginning of Siman 260, Mishna Berura Siman 260:6 and Be’er Heitev 260:2)
This applies to a person’s own nails as well. This also applies to nails of non Jews (See  Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 8 Siman 88:1)
Although the Talmud seems to say that it is a danger only for pregnant women, the Zohar seems to say that it is a danger for anyone to walk on nails. (See Likutei MaHarich Seder Hanhagos Erev Shabbos Dibur Hamaschil V’Ayin B’Rama)

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18 2010

1)Each Motzaei Shabbos during Havdalah, we light a candle [of at least 2 wicks] and  recite the Bracha of “Baruch Ata Hashem….Borei Me’Orei Ha’Eish”. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 298:1 and 2)
The reason for this is to commemorate the fact that Hashem created fire [i.e. gave Adam HaRishon the knowledge to rub two stones together to produce fire] on Motzaei Shabbos. (See Mishna Berura Siman 298:1 quoting the Talmud Pesachim 54)
It is customary to gaze at the palm of the hand and at the nails near the light of the Havdalah candle.
The fingers should be bent inwards into the palm and cover the thumb, so that the four remaining nails and the palm can be gazed at simultaneously. (Rama Siman 298:3 and Mishna Berura S”K 10)
There are three reasons for looking at the fingernails and the palm:
a) The light needs to be bright enough to enable one to discern between 2 coins, thus if one can differentiate between nail and skin, it  shows that the flame is adequate.
b) The nails are a symbol of Bracha, blessing, as they continuously grow and thus we want to start the week with an omen of blessing.
c) The palm of the hand has in it creases which contain within them symbols of Bracha. (See Mishna Berura Siman 298:9)
2) The cup of wine should be held in the left hand when the Bracha is recited and the nails and palm of the right hand should be gazed at and then the cup switched back to the right hand for the remainder of Havdalah. (Rama ibid. and Kaf HaChaim 298:21. See also Mishna Berura Siman 296:31)
May people have the custom after gazing at the nails of the right hand to then repeat the procedure and  gaze at the nails and palm of the left hand.
This Minhag doesn’t really have a basis in Halacha, and in fact according to kabalistic sources it is an ominous sign to gaze at the left hand as doing so may cause spiritual harm. (See Aruch HaShulchan Siman 298:8, Sefer Minhag Yisroel Torah Siman 298:1 and Likutei MaHarich, Havdalah. There are some sources who do justify this Minhag, and each individual should follow their custom or consult a Rav.)
Left handed people follow the same procedure and gaze at the nails and palm of the right hand. (If their custom is to gaze at both hands, the right hand still goes first) (See Darchei Moshe Siman 298)

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 19 2010

1)On  Pesach, at the Seder, there is a Mitzvah to eat  while leaning (B’Heseiva) to demonstrate Cheirus, freedom. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 472:2)
The leaning should not be forward, backward or to the right side, rather it must be done on the left side. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 472:3)
The reason for not leaning forward or backward is that doing so is not considered the way of Cheirus, freedom. (Mishna Berura  472:9)
There are two reasons for not leaning to the right side. One reason is that doing so will prevent the person from eating comfortably with his right hand. (Mishna Berura ibid. S”K 10)
According to this first reason alone, we may think that a left handed person would need to lean to the right side.
However, there is another [and more important] reason for leaning to the left, because a person’s food pipe
(esophagus) is to the right and the air canal (trachea)is to the left, and when leaning to the right there is a chance that the cover of the air canal will open and the food may get lodged in the wrong pipe and cause choking Chas V’Shalom. (Mishna Berura ibid.)
Therefore, there is no difference between lefties and righties and both need to lean to the left. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 472:3 and Mishna Berura S”K 11)
2) If a left handed person leaned to the right, B’dieved he has satisfied his obligation. (Mishna Berura ibid.)
If a right handed person leans to the right, according to some Poskim it is acceptable B’dieved, and according to others even B’dieved he has not satisfied his obligation. (Mishna Berura ibid. See also Kaf HaChaim Siman 472:23 and 48. See also Shu”t Hisorerus Teshuva Vol. 2 Siman 49)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, AUGUST 20 2010

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) Upon seeing the cities of Yehuda in ruins, one should say “Arei Kadshecha Hayu Midbar, Your holy cities turned into deserts” and then tear their garment (Kriah). (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 561:1. See Sha’arei Teshuva who quotes an opinion that this may not include Chevron which may have a status of Arei Miklat and not Arei Yehuda. He seems, however, to reject this exclusion.)
Upon seeing the city of Yerushalayim in ruins one should say “Tzion Haysah Midbar Shemama, Zion has become a desolate desert” and then tear their garment. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 561:2)
Upon seeing the place where the Bais Hamikdash once stood (including seeing the  Kosel Hama’aravi),
one should say “Bais Kadsheinu V’Sifarteinu Asher Halelucha Bo Avoseinu Haya L’Sreifas Aish V’Chal Machmadeinu Haya L’Charava,  Our holy and glorious house in which our forefathers praised you[Hashem], was burned down by fire and our entire splendor was destroyed” and then tear their garment. (ibid.)
The above applies as long as there is no Jewish sovereignty, even if Jews reside in the cities. (Mishna Berura S”K 2)
2) One who enters the place of the Bais HaMikdash nowadays is subject to Kares (heavenly death penalty) as we all have the status of Tamei Meisim, spiritually impure, until Moshiach arrives to purify us, [may it be soon]. (Mishna Berura S”K 5)
A new Kriah is necessary each time any of the above places was not seen in 30 days. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 561:5)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) When tearing the garment, it must be done with the hand and while standing. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 561:4. Some Poskim allow using a knife to aide in the tearing. See Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 331)
When performing Kriah (tearing), the garment must be ripped at least a Tefach (3-4 inches) and ideally all the way until the place of the heart is exposed. (ibid. See also Hagahos Rav Akiva Eiger on this Halacha.)
2) The Kriah should be done on the left side, as that is the side of the heart.
Thus, left handed people also tear the left side. (Mishna Berura S”K 13)
The aforementioned procedure applies as well when tearing the garments upon the passing of a parent R”L. (See Taz Yoreh Deah Siman 340:6)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 22 2010

1) On Rosh Hashana, when blowing the Shofar, the Ba’al Tokea should place the Shofar on the right side of his mouth, if possible. (Rama Siman 585:2)
The reason for this is that the Satan, who is looking to accuse the Jewish nation, stands on the right side, and thus the Shofar which is a tool to combat the harmful intentions of the Satan is blown “in his face”. (See Mishna Berura 585:7. This is based on kabalistic sources quoted in the Shl”a HaKadosh.)
Another reason cited is that Tefilin is laid on the left hand and thus protects the left side of a person, so the Shofar should be blown from the unprotected right side and thus we will be fully protected. (See Sha’ar HaTziyun Os 18)
2)According to the second reason a left handed person (wears Tefilin on his right arm) should place the Shofar at the left side of his mouth.(Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal ruled this way in Halichos Shlomo Vol. 2 Perek2:5 See also Mogen Avraham 585:4)
However, due to the first reason, and due to the fact that it may not mean that each individual’s Tefilin protects him, rather the collective Mitzvah of Tefilin protects Klal Yisroel from the Midas Hadin (which is represented by the “left side”), many Poskim rule that all people blow with the Shofar on the right side of their mouth. (Sha’ar HaTziyun ibid. See also Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 3:21)


No matter which side of the mouth the Shofar is placed, it is the prevalent custom to hold the Shofar with both hands when blowing it. (See Ben Ish Yemini page 89, footnote 138


For Halacha L’ma’aseh, as always, each individual must consult their Rav.

HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 23 2010

1)During the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, and specifically on Erev Yom Kippur, there is an age old, established minhag to do “Kaparos”, whereas we “transfer” our sins to a chicken which each individual twirls over their head while saying certain Tefilos, and is then given to poor people to eat. (See Mishna Berura Siman 605:2 that we should think that all that is happening to this chicken should really happen to us, but since we are doing Teshuva Hashem in His infinite kindness transfers the verdict from our heads to the chicken, similar to how a Korban in the Bais HaMikdash worked )
Some Poskim maintain that instead of a chicken, a fish or money should be used that will then be given to Tzedaka (Mishna Berura ibid. See also Chayei Adam Klal 144:4 who was against the practice of using chickens ,especially on Erev Yom Kippur,as, they were slaughtered in haste and thus were eaten un-kosher. He says that it is better to use money or a fish, where there is no issue of eating neveilos etc. He elaborates on this, and it would be worthwhile to take a look.)
Also, the Sefarim say that  even when using a chicken for the actual kaparos ritual, it is better to give the money that the chicken is worth to a poor person rather than the  actual chicken, which he may not need, and which may not be kosher (as above), which may also be where the minhag to use money originated.
When using money for Kaparos, it may not be taken from money designated for Ma’aser.(Shl”a Maseches Yoma Amud HaTeshuva Dibur Hamaschil B’Erev Yom Kippur)
2)When doing Kaparos (regardless if money, a fish or a chicken is used) right handed people should hold it and twirl over their head with the right hand.
According to some Poskim, left handed people should also use their right hands for Kaparos, while other Poskim maintain that lefties should use their left hands.
For Halacha L’ma’aseh,as always, a Rav should be consulted.

HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 24 2010

1)When saying Vidui (Admitting our sins before Hashem, Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Gazalnu etc.), when saying “Al Cheit” on Erev Yom Kippur and on Yom Kippur, and also during the Bracha of Selach Lanu each weekday  in Shemona Esrei it is customary to lightly pound the heart with the fist of the right hand. (Based on the writings of the Arizal; as if to say that the heart led us astray and caused us to sin)
A left handed person also pounds his heart with his right hand.(ruling of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita)
It is brought in the Sefarim not to pound the heart by Selach Lanu on days that Tachanun is not recited. (MeKor Chaim and Siddur Ya’avetz in the name of the Shl”a HaKadosh)
2) Parenthetically, one of the reason that  the classic Vidui of Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Gazalnu etc. follows the order of the Aleph Bais is to imply that when we sin we cause destruction to the world which Hashem created utilizing the 22 Hebrew letters, thus we say Vidui utilizing the order of those same holy letters and thus help repair the world that we damaged with our sins. (Based on the teachings of MaRa MiPano and other kabalistic sources; based on the Sefer Yetzirah’s discussion of Hashem creating the world and its contents with the Aleph Beis.  See also Talmud Shabbos 104a and Rashi to Bereishis 2:4)
Similarly, along the same lines, over the course of  Yom Kippur we say Vidui ten times to rectify the sins we did which caused destruction to Hashem’s world which He created with ten utterances. (See Pirkei Avos Perek 5 Mishna 1)

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25 2010

1)On each of the seven days of Sukkos (besides for Shabbos) we take and shake a Lulav and an Esrog. (Vayikra 23:40)
The Lulav(branch of a palm tree) has three Hadasim (myrtle) and two Aravos (willow) tied onto it, and is held upright in the right hand and the Esrog (citron) is held in the left hand. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 651:2)
According to the Mechaber (Rav Yosef Cairo, author of the Shulchan Aruch) a left handed person follows the same procedure and holds the Lulav in the right hand and the Esrog in the left hand, as since the Lulav has in it three Mitzvos (i.e. 3 of the 4 species) and the Esrog is only one Mitzvah, the item with more Mitzvos is held in the more highly regarded hand. Most Sephardic Jews follow this ruling. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 651:3 and Mishna Berura S”K 18)
However, the Rama (ibid.) rules that left handed people should switch the order and hold the Lulav in their strong hand (left) and the Esrog in their weaker hand (right). Most Ashkenazic Jews follow this ruling.
2)An ambidextrous person should take the Lulav in his right hand and the Esrog in the left hand. (ibid.)
If the Lulav was held in the wrong hand, the obligation has been satisfied (Rama ibid.)
However, if it was taken in the wrong hands it is best to be stringent and take the Lulav and Esrog again in the correct hands without reciting a new Bracha. (Mishna Berura S”K 19)
Many left handed people are stringent after taking the Lulav in their left and the Esrog in their right (or vice versa) to repeat the process the other way around (without a new Bracha) to satisfy the rulings of both the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama. (See Kaf HaChaim 651:38. See also Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 2 page 288 that the Steipler Zatzal, who was a lefty and an Ashkenazi, followed the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch regarding this Halacha and not the Rama)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 26 2010

1) When setting up and holding the Arba Minim, the three Hadasim (myrtle) should be tied onto the right side of the Lulav and  the two Aravos (willow) should be tied onto the left side of the Lulav. (Mishna Berura Siman 651:12)
For kabalistic reasons, the Hadasim should be tied slightly higher than the Aravos. (Rama 651:1 and Mishna Berura ibid.)
2) Left handed people should also set up their Lulav with the Hadasim on the right side and the Aravos on the left. (This is how the Pri Megadim, quoted in Mishna Berura ibid. rules)

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, AUGUST 27 2010

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) After  reciting the Bracha on the Arba Minim, and then again during the recitation of Halel, the Lulav and Esrog  are shaken three times per direction to and fro in all four directions and up and down. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 651:8 and 9)
There are various different customs as to the order of which direction to follow.
The Shulchan Aruch rules to shake to the east, south, west, north, upward then downward. (Siman 251:10. This is also the ruling of the Derech HaChaim and the Chayei Adam. See Mishna Berura S”K 47)
The reason for this order is based on the principle of “B’chol Pinos SheAta Poneh, Tifneh L’Yemin, whenever you have a choice to go to the right or to the left, always choose to go to the right”.(See Maseches Midos Perek 2 Mishna 2 and Talmud Yoma 15b and Sotah 15b)
Thus, since we are standing facing east, the direction to follow is a circle to the right. (Mishna Berura ibid. quoting the Mogen Avraham 651:21)
2) The Arizal had a different order to shake the Lulav, as follows:  South, north, east, upward, downward then west. (See Be’er Heitev 651:20. See also Sha’arei Teshuva 651:10 for additional variations in the order of directions that other Poskim followed. Of course, every individual should follow their own accepted custom.)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) Regardless which minhag any one individual follows in regard to the directions to shake the lulav, there is no difference between a left handed person and a right handed person regarding the order to be followed. (Mogen Avraham ibid.)
The person shaking the Lulav does not need to actually turn around in all the directions, as long as the Lulav is shaken in the proper directions it suffices. (Mishna Berura ibid.)
2) When circling the Bimah during the recitation of Hoshanos each day of Sukkos (and seven rounds on Hoshana Rabbah) the circle should begin from the right side of the Bimah. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 660:1 and Mishna Berura S”K 3)

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 29 2010

1)When pointing to something written in the Torah or another Sefer containing Divrei Torah, the index finger (also referred to as the pointer) of the right hand should be used, as that is the finger with which Hashem  wrote the Luchos (K’Vayachol). (See Sefer Chasidim Siman 693 (in the new prints). Although, as we wrote earlier in the Halachos for July 26 2010, that Rashi to Brachos 62a learns that this is referring to using the fingers to show the Ta’amei HaTorah (the Trup) to the Ba’al Korei reading from a Sefer Torah, the Poskim say that it refers as well  anytime one is using his finger to point out Divrei Torah. See Sefer Yemin Moshe page 48 footnote 72)
2)Thus, there is no difference between left handed and right handed people, as they both should use the finger that Hashem used, which is the pointer of the right hand. (Ruling of Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita. See also Mishna Berura Siman 282:1)

HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 30 2010

1)When giving Tzedaka, based on the Arizal and other kabalistic sources the money should be given with the right hand.
There is no difference between right handed and left handed people regarding this Halacha. (Ruling of Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita)
2) Sifrei Torah, Tefilin and Mezuzos must be written with the right hand. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 32:5 and Yoreh Deah Siman 271:6 and Siman 288:12)
A left handed person should write Sifrei Torah, Tefilin and Mezuzos with his left hand, which is considered his “right hand”. (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim ibid. and Shach Yoreh Deah 271:12. See also Ben Ish Chai in Shu”t Rav Pa’alim Vol. 2 Siman 9 and Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion Vol. 2 Siman 83:3 regarding Tefilin and Mezuzos written by a left handed person as there are some kabalistic reasons that may frown upon using them.)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 31 2010

1)When a woman nurses her son, she should begin on the left side, which is closer to the heart. (Tzava’ah of Rav Yehuda HaChasid, Tzava’ah 55. This is based on the Talmud Brachos 10a and Niddah 48b. See Shmiras HaGuf V’hanefesh Siman 146 that this applies only to nursing a male child and does not apply to a baby girl. Other Poskim, however, maintain that this applies to baby girls as well. See Likutei Halachos on Tzava’as Rav Yehuda HaChasid written by Rav Shabsi Vigder Shlita, page 169-170)
2)There is no difference in regard to this Halacha between left handed women and right handed women, as it is due to the fact that the heart is on the left side. (Ruling of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita)

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 2010

1)The Mezuzah, besides for being a commandment in the Torah to place on the doorpost, is also a Shmira, protection for the home from harmful elements. (See Talmud Menachos 33b and Rashi there Dibur Hamaschil D’Tintarei. See also Rashi ibid. 32b Dibur Hamaschil Sakanah and Rashi to Pesachim 4a Dibur Hamaschil Chovas. See also Talmud Yerushalmi Peah Perek 1:1. ). According to the Rambam (Hilchos Mezuzah Perek 6:13, based on Talmud Menachos 43b) it is also a protection to prevent from sinning.
The Talmud (Avoda Zarah 11a) relates the story of how the Roman Caesar sent his soldiers to capture Onkeles (Who  was the nephew of the Roman Caesar who became a convert to Judaism and subsequently one of the greatest  Jews who ever lived. His Targum (translation) of the Torah is printed in virtually every Chumash and each week all male Jews are required to read the Torah of the week twice with  his translation once)  and each time as they tried to take him out of his home he placed his hand on the Mezuzah upon leaving and upon explaining his actions  to the guards that he trusts in Hashem who protects His people, they converted as well.
Every Mezuzah has the name Shin Daled Yud written on the outside, which besides being a name of Hashem is an acronym for “Shomer Diras Yisroel, protector of Jewish dwellings” (Darchei Moshe  Yoreh Deah Siman 288:3 quoting the Kol Bo. Similarly, in the Siddur of the Arizal it is written that it stands for “Shomer Dalsos Yisroel, protector of Jewish doors”. See also Zohar Parshas V’Eschanan page 266b in the old prints)
The Rama (Yoreh Deah Siman 285:2, based on the Gemara above as well as on a Midrash Bereishis Rabbah end of Perek 35 )writes that when one leaves their home or enters their home they should place their hand on the Mezuzah and say a certain Posuk for shmirah.
Some people have the Minhag, before going to bed, to go to the door of their room, place their hand on the Mezuzah and say certain Pesukim for Shemirah. (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 71:4)
Most Poskim do not write anything about “kissing” the mezuzah and simply write that it is a good thing to place one’s hand on it, as in the story of Onkelos it makes no mention of any kissing.
However, the Chida (in Birchei Yosef to Yoreh Deah 285) quotes the Arizal that “one should place a finger on the ‘Shin Daled Yud’ that is on the mezuzah and kiss the finger and daven to Hashem for protection and to be saved from the Yetzer Hara”, and seemingly many people have adopted this minhag (at least the kissing the finger part)
The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 11:24 also writes that the Mezuzah should be kissed when entering and leaving the home. However in Siman 71 that we referenced earlier regarding touching the Mezuzah before bed, he does not write anything about kissing it and only writes to place the hand on it so seemingly he holds that kissing is only necessary when entering or leaving the room.
2)A right handed person should touch [and kiss] the mezuzah with his/her right hand. (See Yesod V’Shoresh H’Avodah  Sha’ar 2 Perek  
A left handed person should touch [and kiss] the Mezuzah with his/her left hand.

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 2010

1) When visiting a grave, some have the custom to say “Yehi Ratzon Sh’tehey Menuchaso Shel Ploni Po B’Kavod U’Zechuso Ya’amod Li, May it be the will [of Hashem] that the resting of the person here be with dignity and may his/her merit be beneficial for me.” (Be’er Heitev Orach Chaim Siman 224:8)
The custom that people have to rip out some grass or pick up a stone and leave it on the Kever, is a show of respect to the one laying there, as  it shows that people  came to visit and pay their respect. (ibid. See also  Shulchan Aruch  Yoreh deah Siman 376: 4 and the commentaries there. and Aruch Hashulchan Yoreh deah 376:6)

While there it is proper to place one’s hand on the Kever. (ibid. The Arizal held that one should never go within 4 Amos of a grave, besides during the time of burial. See Mishna Berurah Siman 559:41. The Vilna Gaon, in the Igeres HaGra, wrote that people should not go to cemeteries at all, especially women. The prevalent custom, however,  is that we do in fact go to cemeteries, and do in fact go within 4 Amos and even touch the Kevarim. However, women while they are a Niddah customarily do not go. See Mishna Berurah Siman 88:7 and Bais Baruch to Chayei Adam Siman 3:38)
2) The hand that should be placed on the Kever is the left hand. (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 224:42. The reason for this is kabalistic.)
There is no difference between left handed and right handed people regarding this, and both should only place their left hand on a Kever. (See Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 5:11b)
It is important to remember when davening at a grave, especially that of a great Tzadik, to be extremely careful not to Chas V’Shalom pray “to” the Tzadik.
Rather, we Jews only pray to Hashem to answer us in the merit of the Tzadik, or, alternatively, we ask the Tzadik to go before the Kisei HaKavod and be a Meilitz Yosher (an advocate) for us and our families.
Ain Od M’Levado.

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, SEPTEMBER 3 2010

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) It is customary at weddings to have the Chupah (canopy) be outside or at least under an opening in the ceiling.
The reason for this is that having it under an open sky is a good sign for the newly married couple to be blessed with children like the stars in the sky (i.e. to produce good children) (Rama Even HaEzer Siman 61:2)
2) While standing under the Chupah, the Choson (groom) should stand to the left of the Kallah (bride) to symbolize that his soon to be wife will be his “right hand”. (Based on a Posuk. See Be’er Heitiv Even HaEzer Siman 61:7)
There is no difference if the Choson and/or Kallah are right or left handed regarding this Halacha, as the Choson always stands to the left of the Kallah. (See Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 2 Siman 2:4)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) While under the Chuppah, the Choson places a ring on the finger of the Kallah, and pronounces her his wife by saying “Harei At Mekudeshes Li B’Taba’as Zu K’Da’as Moshe V’Yisroel, Behold, you are married to me with this ring according to the mandate of Moshe and the Jewish nation” (i.e. according to both Torah and rabbinic law) (See Shulchan Aruch and Rama Even HaEzer Siman 27:1)
2) It is customary for the Choson to use his right hand to hold the ring and to place it onto the right index finger of the Kallah.
If either the Choson or the Kallah are left handed, there are some opinions that rule that the Choson use his “stronger” hand (i.e. his left if he is left handed) to place the ring on the “stronger” hand of the Kallah (her left hand, if she is left handed)
Other Poskim, however, rule that regardless it should be placed on the Kallah’s right hand. (See Shu”t Be’er Moshe ibid. See also Ben Ish Chai Parshas Shoftim Siman 1:7)

 

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For Halacha L’ma’aseh, as with everything,  a Rav must be consulted.
Please Note:
The Halachos on this website are based on my personal understanding of the Halachic texts or Rabbanim quoted, and are for learning purposes only, NOT for Psak Halacha.
DO NOT rely on them for Psak Halacha L’Maaseh. If you have questions or require further source information ,please email me the question and I will try to respond as soon as I can. For a Halacha L’Ma’aseh Psak, please contact your local Orthodox Rabbi. Thank you.

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Please Note:
The Halachos on this website are based on my personal understanding of the Halachic texts quoted, and are for learning purposes only, NOT for Psak Halacha.

DO NOT rely on them for Psak Halacha L’Maaseh. If you have questions or require further source information, please email the question at Ben@HalachaForToday.comand I will try to respond as soon as I can. For a Halacha L’Ma’aseh Psak, please contact your local Orthodox Rabbi.

Thank you.