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q&a page 14

646) Q: Is eating chicken and milk D’rabanan? What are the reasons given?

A: The Biblical prohibition of Basar B’Chalav applies only to animal (mammal) meat and not to poultry, which is a prohibition added by the Chachamim. (see Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman  87:3)

647) Q: I  will be reading the Megillah G-d willing this year, I know that there is an opinion that one may put “trop” (musical notes) in parts of the Megillah (with pencil) that will help them. May my wife pencil in some of the Trop, or is this a problem of writing by a woman?

A: According to some Poskim, including the Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos Zahav, Siman 691:2, unlike Sifrei Torah and Tefilin,  a woman may write a Megilah as she is obligated in reading the Megilah.

Other Poskim, however, including the Sha’arei Teshuva Siman 691:3 and Rav Akiva Eiger Siman 691:2,  maintain that women may not write a megilah. (See Tosafos arachin 3a Dibur Hamaschil L’Asuyei nashim quoting the Behag taht women are not obligated in reading the Megilah, rather they are obligated only in hearing the megilah. This is one reason cited  regarding their ineligibility to write megilos, as only those that must read it are eligible to write it.)

The prevalent custom is not to use, and certainly not recite a bracha over, a megilah written by women.

Now, regarding penciling in Trop and other markings into a megilah, this should only be done B’sha’as Hadchak,  in extreme circumstances where there is no other way to read/hear the Megilah. (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 141:18 and Mishna Berura Siman 691:25)

In the event that this needs to be done, according to the Poskim that allow a woman to write a megilah, she surely may also make these pencil markings.

According to the Poskim that disallow a woman to write the Megilah, I would  say that these markings, although not the actual writing of the megilah, should also preferably  not be done by a woman.

Of course, for halacha L’Ma’aseh a Rav must be consulted.


648) Q: Is it permissible to clap on shabbos? and furthermore, is one allowed to make a beat on shabbos to sing to (like bang and clap) as many shabbaton activities do?

A: The Shulchan Aruch Siman 339:3 rules that it is forbidden to clap ones hands together or ones hand against their thigh on Shabbos and it is also forbidden to dance on Shabbos.

This ruling is based on the Mishna in Beitza 36b where Chazal forbade these activities, which are usually done in the presence of musical instruments, lest one come to fix an instrument that breaks.

The Rama, ibid. (based on Tosefos Beitza 30a Dibur Hamaschil T’nan) in his second opinion, rules that nowadays it is permitted to clap and dance as most people don’t know how to fix broken instruments.

The Mishna Berura S”K 10 maintains that even nowadays it is only acceptable if the clapping/dancing is done for purposes of a Mitzvah. See also Shu”t Minchas Elazar Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 29 where he defends the Minahag of many holy Tzadikim who danced and clapped on Shabbos.

Bottom line, when dancing and clapping for a Mitzvah, such as during Zemiros on Shabbos, we are lenient and allow it. otherwise, it is best to avoid it. According to many Poskim, the same applies for banging on a table to a beat etc.

Regarding applauding on Shabbos, see Shu”t Az Nidberu Vol. 13 Siman 14:2, where he allows it as this has nothing to do with singing.


For halacha L'ma'aseh, of course, a Rav must be consulted.


649) Q: we know that one of the mitzvot of Purim is mishloach manot.  Many organizations offer cards, etc. to send to people in lieu of mishloach manot, which according to the organization fulfills both the mitzvah of mishloach manot and mataynos l’evyonim.  Is this permissible or is it still better to separate the two mitzvot?

A: You cannot fulfill Mishloach Manos with these cards, only Matanos L’Evyonim.
However, once you  fulfill Mishloach Manos in the traditional way, it is indeed praiseworthy to  give extra charity/Matanos L’Evyonim  “in lieu” of extra Mishloach Manos, as the Rambam Hilchos Megilah Perek 2:17 writes:”It is better for one to give additional “Matanos L’Evyonim” rather than to embellish their Purim Seudah and/or give additional Mishloach Manos to their friends, as there is no greater and more glorious Simcha than to gladden the hearts of the less fortunate poor people, orphans, widows and converts. One who lifts the spirits and gladdens the hearts of these less fortunate individuals, is likened to the Shechina!”


650) Q: When my Grandmother moved into her new apartment she found a mezuza hanging on her doorpost, she used it but now wants to replace it and doesn’t know if she should keep the old one. Is it in her rights to keep the mezuza she found?

A: Yes, the halacha is that when one leaves an apartment they must leave the Mezuzos there for the next person who lives there.


Even though there are ways around this when one wants to take their Mezuzos with them, if they don't take them they belong to the new occupant


Thus, the Mezuzah belongs to your grandmother.


651) Q: My 10 year old daughter has unruly hair.  Is it permissible to put anything in her hair to tame it a bit on Shabbos – e.g., oil, gel, spray?

A: If you style it first (with a permissible type of brush) and then afterwards spray a little hairspray, it is permitted according to many Poskim, as the spray is then only maintaining the hair’s shape. Spraying first, however, and then styling it is prohibited. (See Biur Halacha Sim an 303:27 Dibur Hamaschil Lachuf)

652) Q: Can Maos Chitim be given with maaser money or is there a minimum amount that cannot be taken from maaser money?

A: Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal (in Halichos Shlomo, Pesach, Perek 2:2) rules that nowadays one may give Ma'os Chitim from Ma’aser, as since there is no set amount that must be given and there is no organized system for enforcing that each person give, it isn’t considered a “Chov Gamur, a total obligation” to the point that it cannot be given from ma'aser money.

#maoschitim #maaser #Pesach

653) Q: I was asked, if one did bitul and bedika on their chametz, and after Pesach they found chametz is it allowed to be used.
I told them that if they sold their chamatz to a non Jew it was certainly allowed.
If they did not make a mechira, rather only bitul and bedika, bidieved is the chamatz truly allowed after Pesach?

A: This is a Machlokes HaPoskim. The Shulchan Aruch (Siman 448:5) rules stringently that it is prohibited to eat or derive any pleasure from it.Many  Poskim, including the  Chak Yaakov and Tashbatz are lenient at least in regard to selling it and  deriving pleasure from the money.
The Mishna Berura (S”K 25) rules that if the amount of Chometz in question would be a Hefsed Meruba, a substantial loss, we can be lenient and allow  it to be sold or given to a non Jew and then buy it back and use. If it isn’t a substantial loss it is best to be stringent.


654) Q: I want to better understand what the concept of “baking” matzos and why is that considered a mitzva. In the Torah, the mitzva is to “eat” matzos during Pesach or the first night.  Where does it state that baking matzos is a mitzvah?

A: Of course the primary Mitzvah is to eat Matzah, However, the preparation of the Mitzvah, the grinding the flour, the making the dough and the entire process of baking Matzos is a Mitzvah in its own right.
See Shulchan Aruch Siman 460:2  and Mishna Berura S” K 5-7 for the following  reasons to bake Matzos yourself.
1) Mitzvah Bo Yoser M’Beshelucho, it’s a greater Mitzvah when done by yourself as opposed to having others do it.
2) MaHaril rules that this applies to all Mitzvos, not just baking Matzah for Pesach.
3) We don’t rely on  women (who commonly bake) to be careful in the many aspects and intricate halachic requirements of Shmura Matzah baking
4) According to the Arizal, sweating and getting “into it” during the baking of the Matzos is a Tikun (spiritual remedy) for the “great sin” i.e. Hotza’as Zera L’Vatalah. (See Kav Hayashar Perek 90)

#matzah #bakingmatzah #tikun #kaparah #shmuramatzah #zeralevatalah #Pesach

655) Q: My 15 year old son told me  that the gemara speaks of life on other planets. Is this true? And if so, what is said about it?

A: The Talmud (Shavuos 36a and Moed Katan 16a) refers to life/powers emanating from the star/planet called Meroz which Devroah the prophetess cursed in her Shira after defeating the general Sisra (See Shoftim Perek 5 Posuk 23 and Rashi there).


Some commentaries learn into this that there is life in other worlds. Others learn that it is referring to the “Mazalos” or “Heavenly powers” parralelling each person here on earth (See MaHarsha to Moed Katan ibid.)


Our world is but one tiny piece of Hashem's infinite universe. There have been worlds before ours, and will be worlds after ours. Even now, there are thousands, if not millions of "worlds" created by Hashem and controlled by Hashem. These are deep kabalistic topics that are beyond the grasp of most human beings.

656) Q: Can one sell chametz to a non-Jewish woman? If so, are there any special rules/conditions?
A: Yes, Chometz may be sold to a non Jewish woman. No different rules than selling to a Non Jewish man. (Of course the sale should be done via a Rabbi to ensure it’s done properly)   The Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav Siman 448:4) discusses that a Jew who became irreligious and married a non Jewish woman (Rachmana Litzlan) is best not to sell her the Chometz, unless there is no other Non Jew available. We can extrapolate from there that to another  non Jewish woman it  is perfectly acceptable to sell Chometz to her.



657) Q: Besides for a candle, are the wooden spoon, feather, or anything else required when searching for chametz?  Can we just sweep things up with a tissue, rag, or clorox wipe-if we see something?

A: There is a custom to have a wooden spoon and a feather present when reciting the bracha over bedikas Chometz. In the actual cleaning/checking there is no requirement to use them as their modern replacements (i.e .vaccuum cleaners,brooms, clorox wipes etc.) are sufficient.
The spoon and feather, along with the candle and the chometz pieces should be burned the following morning at Biur Chometz.


658) Q: I remember learning  that there is a minhag not to use garlic on Pesach. If so, what is the reason? Is this minhag still continued to be practiced?

A:  Some people refrain from using garlic on Pesach. This minhag is brought in the Pri Megadim, Aishel Avrohom Siman  464:1. He writes that he doesnt know the reason, but still one should be stringent.
The Chayei Adam (Klal 127:7), however, writes that there is no basis to this minhag and it is permissible to eat garlic on Pesach.
Of course, every family should  hold on to their Mesorah, their traditions that were handed down to them from their ancestors.


659) Q: If we have whole wheat grains, should they be thrown away  as chometz, or we can keep it together with kitnios and sold?Same question for  kasha grains, barley grains.

A: Many grains and flours sold nowadays are soaked in water or other solutions before being packaged. Therefore, they should be treated as Chometz.


A competent Kashrus agency should be consulted for halacha L’Ma’aseh on any specific product.


If you don't verify their status, it is best to treat them all as chometz, and either dispose of them before Pesach, or sell them with your other chometz, if your minhag is to sell chometz gamur


(As an aside, Kasha, buckwheat, contrary to popular belief, is not a grain. It is Kitniyos. Its Bracha is HoAdama and its after Bracha is Borei Nefashos. (See Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 65 and Yoreh Deah Vol. 2 Siman 25


660) Q: I will not be home for Pesach. Am I exempt from Bedikas Chometz?

A:If you will be away for Pesach, ideally it would be best to leave after doing Bedikas Chometz in the proper time on the eve of 14 Nisan. If that is not possible, the Bedika can be done on an earlier night but without a Bracha.
It is better to do the Bedika on  the closest  “night”  to the 14th of Nisan, rather than do it by day on 14 Nisan, as the Takana of Bedikas Chometz was instituted  to be done at night.
If one will be away for the entire Pesach, he can technically sell his entire house and thus be exempt from Bedikas Chometz, but it is best to leave over one room unsold in which to make a Bedikah, as it is a Mitzvah, and we don’t want to “get out” of doing Mitzvos.
If one will be at someone else’s home for Pesach (e.g. parents or  in-laws ) and they have a designated room where they will be sleeping for Yom Tov, if they are there already by the eve of 14 Nisan, they are obligated to do Bedikas Chometz in that room with a Bracha. If they arrive on Erev Yom Tov, if the room was not checked they should check itthen withouta Bracha.
If one is in a hotel for Pesach, the room should be checked without a Bracha , as we assume that hotel rooms are cleaned well  and free of all food. (unless they were there from before the 14th of Nisan and ate Chometz in the room, in which case a Bracha should be recited if done on the eve of the 14th)


661) Q: I wanted to know why a man in Shana Rishona (the first 12 months after his marriage) does not wear a Kittel at the Pesach Seder but after that time period, does.

A: One of the reasons for wearing a Kittel (which is like the white Tachrichim, shrouds, in which Jews get buried) at the Pesach Seder is that we should damper the extreme Simcha a bit lest it lead to Kalus Rosh. It is for this reason that the Taz (Siman 472:3) allows an Avel, a mourner, to wear a Kittel atthe Seder. (See also Mishna berura Siman 472:13 where he brings the opinions of other Poskim that an Avel should not wear it)
Thus, a man in his first year of marriage is commanded to be extremely happy and not to damper the Simcha at all, and thus many people’s custom is to not wear a kitel during their first year of marriage. (See Ta’amei HaMinhagim 503 in Kuntres Achron)


662) Q: What’s the halacha regarding Shaimos (texts that have Torah writing on them)?

When do you need to bury things and when is it sufficient to just put into a bag and then place bag into garbage?  This always comes up with notes in class, work sheets, handouts etc. especially around Pesach cleaning time.

A:Unless they have the name of Hashem written out, worksheets, notes, invitations, newspapers , Tzedaka letters etc. with Torah content written on them can be wrapped in a plastic bag and either discarded directly, according to many Poskim or left out at the curb (or in the recycling bin) for the trash collectors to discard so it will be done indirectly, according to the more stringent Poskim.


Seforim, Tefilin, or anything that has any of the the actual holy Names of Hashem written out properly, require proper burial.


When giving to Shaimos collection companies, it is imperative to ensure that they are under proper Rabbinic supervision, to ensure Kavod Haseforim, and that they are not Chas V'shalom treated disrespectfully or even worse, discarded as some non-reputable companies have been found to do.

663) Q: Why is there no Kashrus ,Basar B’Chalav and Chometz  concerns with metal braces? Why is it any different than metal cutlery?
A:  I once asked this question to a prominent Posek and he answered that it is considered as part of the mouth, like a tooth, and thus doesnt require Kashering. Of course, any components that are removeable, must be cleaned and kashered for Pesach.
See Halichos Shlomo; Pesach Perek 3: 7  where he says to avoid hot and/or sharp foods for 24 hours before Pesach  and  also to drink  something as hot as one would ever drink something,  before Pesach.
A Rav must be consulted in each specific situation to determine what components are considered removeable.



664) Q: My friend asked me to find out if/where it says we can’t become good friends with people in other religions (of the same gender, of course). I don’t think there is a reason why she wouldnt be allowed to be friendly to a Muslim , but I figured I could ask. What about close friends? What can I tell her about the subject?

A: The Torah advocates not getting too close or friendly with members of other religions, and indeed some of the laws that the Rabbis enacted (such as not eating Bishul Akum, not eating Pas Akum etc.) were put in place as to avoid becoming too friendly with the Aino Yehudim, which if done, ultimately will lead to one’s own level of observance “cooling off” Chas V’Shalom.


The Torah states (Vayikra 20:26 and in other places as well) “V’Hiyisem Li Kedoshim Ki Kadosh Ani Hashem V’Avdil Eschem Min Ha’Amim Lihiyos Li, you shall be unto me holy for I am Holy, Your G-d, and I will separate you from the nations to be mine”. See Rashi there.


Yes, we must be cordial to our neighbors and treat them with respect, and in our business dealings with Aino yehudim we must act nice and treat them fairly etc. but we must not become too friendly with them, as the consequences of doing that are never good in the long run.


Hashem assured us that the Jews and the nations of the world are and will always be separate; either by choice (as it should be by US making the KIDUSH) or by force (as it is if we don’t do it ourselves, the nations of the world will ensure that THEY make HAVDALA for us, Rachmana L’Tzlan as we have seen all too often throughout our history in Galus).


See also the chilling words of the Meshech Chachma in Parshas Bechukosai where he fortells the events of the holocaust decades before they unfolded, based on the above concept.


See also Vayikra 18:3 and Rashi there quoting Chazal that Jews do not belong in the arenas, theaters, parties etc. of the Aino Yehudim, something that will ultimatelty happen if we become too friendly with them, as is unfortunately quite evident in the Western world R"L.


Also, there is the whole issue of “Lo Tichanem” (Devarim 7:2). See Talmud Avodah Zarah 20a, which is beyond the scope of this email at this time.


May Hashem give your friend (and all of us) the strength to do the right thing always and to make our Father in Heaven proud of the way we act!


665) Q: If we can’t be happy during Sefirah and even more so as you posted that we can not even listen to music for fear of bringing about happiness, why then is Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) not marked?


I have always heard the excuse that Nisan is to be a happy month and therefore it is inappropriate to mourn. Having said that then do the halachas regarding dancing and singing only apply after or on Rosh Chodesh Iyar? That would seem to follow would it not?

A: First of all, according to many customs, the mourning of Sefirah indeed only begins on or after Rosh Chodesh Iyar.


Secondly, who says that Yom Hashoah isn't marked? Many people do in fact commemorate this day as a day of rememberance for the 6,000,000 Kedoshim that were savagely murdered by Hitler and the Nazis Yemach Shemam V’Zichram.


Lastly, many Gedolim, including Rav Yitzchok Hutner, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitzik and Rav Mordechai Gifter Zichronam L’Vracha, just to name a few, were of the opinion that Tisha B’Av was established by the Chachamim to commemorate not only the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, but all subsequent Churbanos as well, including the crusades, the inquisition and the holocaust, and thus no additional day should be established.


In fact we have many Kinos on Tisha B’Av that commemorate tragedies other than the actual Churban Bais Hamikdash, and even some Kinos authored by the Bobov Rebbe, Rav Shimon Schwab, Rav Shmuel Wosner Zichronam L’Vracha which address the holocaust directly.


They held not to establish other days of commemoration for each tragedy, as all subsequent tragedies were extensions of the Churban Bais Hamikdash throughout the ages, as Chazal teach us that any generation that doesn't merit the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash is considered as if the Bais Hamikdash was once again destroyed in that generation.


Every congregation, with the consultation of their respective Rabbonim, should decide for themselves which tradition to follow.


666) Q: Does any red string protect against Ayin Hara (evil eye), or is it supposed to go around Kever Rochel 7 times?

A: The color red is a color that wards off Ayin Hara. See Q&A # 381 here

Regarding the red string, there are some authorities that balk at this “segulah” and claim it isn’t  of Jewish origin and should be avoided.

Others, including the Debreciner Rav Zatzal in  Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 8 Siman 36:3 (who writes that this is an ancient custom and according to the Rashba we should not dismiss ancient Jewish customs even if we don’t understand them) and other Kabalistic sources indeed say that a red string wrapped around Kever Rochel is indeed a segulah against pregnant women having miscarriages and against Ayin Hara in general.

Each person should follow their own heritage in regard to this (and other similar) Segulos.

I would, however, advise to be aware of people selling “fake” red strings and jewery etc. which oftentimes never went around kever Rochel and were probably never even within a few hundred mile radius of the Kever.

667) Q: What is the reason for the issur (prohibition) of gambling and is playing with slot machines included in the Issur of gambling?

A: The issur of gambling, known in halacha as Mesachek B’Kuvia, is mainly due to the fact that most gambling, especially if done on a regular basis, will lead to stealing to feed his habit.
The Mishna (Sanhedrin 24b) says that one who gambles is disqualified from being a witness in a Bais Din, as thieves are  disqualified from being witnesses. See Rashi that they are considered Reshaim, evil.
The Gemara, in the first explanation,  explains that even if the gains are gotten lawfully, it is still stealing as the loser hands over the money grudgingly. (Asmachta Lo Kanya)
Some Rishonim say that the stringency of this prohibition is only for a “full time gambler” and not for one who does so occasionally, but many Rishonim, including the Rambam, maintain that any gambling at all is prohibited.
The Rivash (Shu”t HaRivash Siman 395 toward the end) calls gambling “a disgusting, empty, abomination  to do….”
See Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat Siman 34:16 that this includes any gambling, races or other methods of “chance”  where people are conned out  out of their money.
Slot machines, which don’t involve two people may be different according to the letter of the law, but they are still not within the spirit of the activities becoming of a child of Hashem, especially as the places they are usually situated are places that have serious issues of Tzniyus,Pritzus,  Prikas Ol, Chukos Hagoyim and a whole slew of other problems for a Torah-observant Jew.

A Rav should be consulted for halacha L’Ma’aseh.

668) Q: If I reuse a glass bottle or jar, do i need to tovel it in the mikva?

A: According to Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal (Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 3 Siman 23), a disposable utensil that won't last beyond a few additional uses, does not require Tevilah, even if reused. If it will last in its current state for a lot of additional uses, as is most likely the case with glass jars, it would require Tevilah to reuse.


For Halacha l'Ma'aseh, a rav should be consulted.


669) Q: Is carrying a gift on yom Tov permitted only if  you know they will open and use this gift today on Yom Tov?

A: You may carry the gift regardless if they will open it or not, as  giving them the gift in it of itself is a valid purpose to carry.

670) Q:  If i made my Eiruv Tavshilin with a baked product only is it B’dieved ok?
A: No, it will not even allow you to bake. If, however,  you only used a cooked item then it works B’dieved even to bake. See Mishna Berura Siman 527:7


671) Q: Is there an issur (prohibition) to have a bed facing the door ?

A: Not an isur per se, but according to kabalistic sources, since a dead person is placed on the floor in the room in which he passed away with his feet toward the door, it is best to not sleep with one’s feet directly facing the  door. (See Sefer Gesher Hachaim Vol. 1 Siman 3:2)
Some people avoid sleeping with their head facing door, but there is no clear source for this minhag.
See also Q&A #474 here.

672) Q: What’s the source for having a white tablecloth on shabbos and is it halacha?

A: The halacha says to have a tablecloth on the table you eat at and possibly on all the tables in your home. (See Rama Siman 262:1, Biur Halacha ibid and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 72:7). Halachically, any respectable tablecloth, even if it isn't white, suffices.

The prevalent minhag is indeed to use a white one, and kabalistically this has merit. See  Piskei Tehuvos in the new volume on hilchos shabbos Siman 262:1. See also Sefer Minhag Yisroel Torah 262:6 for other sources.

Regarding wearing white clothing on Shabbos, see Q&A #57 here


673) Q: I note that when we say the morning blessings – Shelo Asani Goy, Shelo Asani Eved – the tense is in the masculine. For a woman davening, why would she not say these brachas in the feminine? these are, after all, personal brachos.

A: In the Siddur Ya’avetz he does indeed rule that women should say these brachos in the feminine and replace “Goy” with “Goyah” and “Eved” with “Shifcha”. However, since the Talmud makes no mention of this feminine variation he rules that they should be said without Shem U’Malchus (Hashem’s name).


Rebbetzin Kanievsky, the wife of Rav Chaim Zatzal, indeed used to say it in that manner, and Rav Chaim would listen and answer Amen to her brachos on most mornings, so obvioulsly Rav Chaim Zatzal held that it was indeed OK to say it that way.


However, other Poskim, including the Aishel Avrahm Butchatch Siman 46, rule that the words “Goy” and “Eved” include female gentiles and maid-servants as well, and thus the Bracha should be said by women with the same version as men.


The prevalent custom, as far as I know, is for women to recite these Brachos the same as men do.Siman 262:1. See also Sefer Minhag Yisroel Torah 262:6 for other sources.

The prevalent custom, as far as I know, is for women to recite these Brachos the same as men do.


674) Q: We are having a family reunion with a lot of grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters etc. What is the halacha regarding male relatives who want to give a hug to their female relative upon arrival? Which relatives are allowed and which not?  Do you have a suggestion how to decline a hug from a relative who is secular and doesn’t understand the laws of negia?

A: Touching members of the opposite gender is forbidden, and if done out of love, affection or pleasure, according to many Rishonim, and even if done not out of pleasure according to the Rambam and others, is a biblical prohibition and requires one giving his/her life rather than transgressing. (See Rabbeinu YonahIgeres Hateshuva 1:11, Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos 353 and Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 21 and Bais Shmuel Siman 20:1)
Touching, kissing and hugging most “relatives” is also prohibited, and may even be worse as they are called “Erva” by the Torah. (See Chochmas Adam Klal 125 and Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 2 Siman 137 Dibur Hamaschil B’Neshika)

The only permissible relatives for a person to hug and kiss is a mother/father, son/daughter, grandson/grandaughter according to some Poskim and a sister below the age of 3 (or 7 according to some Poskim, or at most until 12 according to some Poskim.

See Rambam Hilchos Isurei Biah perek 21:7 and Shu"t Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2 Siman 144 fgor more regarding sisters)

All other relatives (Uncles/Aunts, Sisters in law/brothers in law, cousins etc.) may not be touched, kissed or hugged. period.
One must do whatever it takes to make sure they don’t hug or kiss or touch anyone who they are prohibited to touch, and no “Kavod Habriyos” or “Minhag” or “They will be upset at me” answers are acceptable. (see Mishna Berura Siman 468:23 and Biur Halacha Siman 690:17)

The best thing is to be honest with them and say that your Torah does not allow you to have physical contact with them, and you appreciate them respecting your decisions.

May Hashem give you the strength to do the right thing always.


675) Q: In my shul some avelim (mourners) have asked to say the Kadish after laining (krias Hatorah) on shabbos and we now have a rotation among three avelim. Is there any M’kor (source) for avelim to say the kadish after laining? Meaning is this considered a Kaddish Yosom and if so, shouldn’t other avelim in shul all join in the kadish together?

A: Seemingly, that Kaddish is a Chatzi Kaddish and not a Kaddish Yasom, and should be said by the Ba’al Koreh or the Shatz.

However, the Sha’ar Ephraim (considered the accepted authority on Hilchos Krias Hatorah by many Poskim) , in Sha’ar 10:9 does indeed bring a minhag that someone who has Yahrtzeit, or even an Avel during the year of mourning says this Kaddish.  However, from the language of the Sha’ar Ephraim it seems that only if the one with Yahrtzeit or the Avel received the last aliyah does he then go ahead and say the Kaddish, but if not it is said by the Ba’al Koreh and not by another Avel in the congregation (and certainly not by all of them in unison.)


Interestingly, in the Dirshu Mishna berura they quote Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal  as saying that this Kaddish was instituted L'Ilui the Neshamos of the deceased who do not have someone to say Kaddish in their memory, and thus if an avel  recites this Kaddish, as opposed to the Ba'al Koreh,   he should specifically  have in mind that he is reciting it for the Neshamos of these other deceased people  as well as for the Neshama of  the relative he usually says Kaddish for. See also  Halichos Shlomo, tefilah, Perek 12:27 and the footnotes there.

See Mishneh Berura Siman 282:19 and 20 and Sefer Ishei Yisroel Perek 38 footnotes 120 and 121 for a lengthy discussion about this.


676) Q: I wanted to ask you about the nebach, unfortunate trend of “Half Shabbos” whereas people keep full Shabbos but are texting throughout the day (hence “half Shabbos”). What’s the halacha here?

A: There is no such thing as half Shabbos. Keeping Shabbos 99% is desecrating it 100%.
Using any electronic devices on Shabbos is strictly prohibited, possibly even D’Oraysa as using electricity (where internal circuits are connected and completed ) involves melachos of Aish, Boneh, Soser and Molid to name a few. (See Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 50:9)
Again, there is no valid halachic permissibilty to text or otherwise use a cell phone on Shabbos Chas V’Shalom (besides in life threatening emergencies), and all who do so will ultimately have to deal with the heavenly consequences. May Hashem have mercy on His holy nation and spare them from desecrating the holy Shabbos and His holy name.


677) Q: Is there a halacha to make a sedua when one reaches the age of 60? If yes is it considered a seduas mitzvah? What are the minhagim regarding this?

A: The Talmud (Moed Katan 28a) relates that Rav Yosef made a feast when he reached the age of 60, as he was spared from Kares, which takes place usually before one reaches 60.
The Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos Zahav, Siman 444:9 cites a Chavos Yair that one should make a feast (and say SheHechiyanu) upon reaching the age of 70, which is a complete lifetime, and considers this a Seudas Mitzvah. Many people do indeed mark these milestones with Seudos.
See also Ben Ish Chai, first year, Parashas Re’ei Siman 9.

678) Q: Can one feed children meat during the 9 days [between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha B'Av] L’chatchila? If yes until what age?

A: Healthy Children above 7 years old should not be given meat during the nine days, according to all Poskim. All Children under the age of 3 may be given meat according to all Poskim.
Some Poskim are lenient for children between the ages of 3  and 7. Other Poskim, including the Mishna Berura (Siman 551:70), are stringent and don’t allow it.


679) Q: In life, we tend to follow the quote ”don’t cry over spilled milk” , we try not to sulk in our past miseries….why when it comes to mourn for the bais hamikdosh, we gotta sulk for three whole weeks?

A: Very good question.
And the answer is: When one loses a loved one, they mourn for the proper amount of time and then move on, and in fact it’s against halacha to mourn endlessly for a loved one. The reason for this is that it is not in our hands to control if someone passes away or not; it is the will of Hashem that that person made the transition from this world to the next. HOWEVER, Chazal teach us that each generation that doesnt merit to have the Bais Hamikdash rebuilt in their time is as if it was [newly] destroyed in their time! Thus, when it comes to mourning for the Bais Hamikdash, we arent mourning over a 2,000 year old loss. We are mourning a fresh loss. A loss that is newly painful to each and every Jew as if it just happened. Thus, we arent mourning a building that was burned down way back when, rather we are mourning our disconnect from hashem today. We are mourning our lack of closeness to Hashem today. We are mourning the tragedies of today which are all an extension of the Churban that began 2,000 years ago. We are crying for a loss that WAS and IS in our hands to reverse.It is Hashem’s will that we reverse the churban. May this Tisha B’Av be our last one spent in mourning and may we all finally do our part to ensure the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash Hashlishi and an end to all the Tzaros of Klal Yisroel.

680) Q: On Motzai Shabbos, does one say “Shir Hamalos” before birchas hamazon [or Al Naharos Bavel like another weekday]?

A: According to Rav Chaim Kanievsky Zatzal, in Sefer Sh’eilas Rav page 338, on Motzei Shabbos we say Al Naharos Bavel like on any other weekday.

681) Q: Is drying dishes on Shabbos considered Sechita? Or is it permitted?

A: It is permitted to use a cloth towel to dry dishes on Shabbos as we do not worry that it will become so saturated to the point of sechitah, as when it gets that wet a new cloth is taken. It is best to not squeeeze very hard, if possible, when doing this to very wet dishes.
However, a utensil that is very narrow (like some wine goblets) and has in it a lot of water should not be dried as doing so will inevitably lead to sechitah. (Based on Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchaso Perek 12:21)


682) Q:  Am I allowed to read math books on Shabbos?

A: M’Ikar Hadin, math books, like other Sifrei Chochma,books of secular knowledge,  may be read on Shabbos. A Yerei Shomayim, however should try and be stringent if possible. (See Mishna Berura Siman 307:65 and Sefer Ashrei Ha'Ish from  Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Zatzal, Perek 16:14)

683) Q: Does the candle used by  havdalah have to be dipped in the wine to be put out?

A: Halachically, it can be put out any way, but since it is a proper minhag not to blow out candles with one’s mouth (See Kolbo Siman 118, Shu”t Salmas Chaim, from Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zatzal, Vol. 2 Siman 8, Ben Ish Chai year 2 parashas Pinchos Siman 18 and Kaf HaChaim Yoreh Deah Siman 116:16), the common custom (as brought in Rama Siman 296:1) is to extinguish it by pouring a little of the leftover wine in the Becher on the fire, or to dip the candle in the spilled wine of Havdallah.


684) Q: What is the reason that a Chuppah takes place outdoors?

A: Having the Chuppah outdoors or at least under an open skylight is an old custom, mentioned in the Rama Even HaEzer Siman 61:1. One reason to have it under the open sky is as a good “siman” for the new couple to be blessed with children like the stars of the sky. (See also Ezer M’Kodesh Siman 55:1 for another line of reasoning for this, which may be halachic and not only a minhag)

Some communities, including some Sephardim, do not have this custom.

If for whatever reason it cannot be under an open sky, it is a valid Chuppah. Even if the Chuppah is indoors it is best that it not be inside of a Shul. The reason for this is that the  reform movement moved the chuppah into the shul away from under the stars, so many Poskim, including the Chasam Sofer, forbade us from doing so lest it look like we follow their changes, chas v'shalom. Some communities, including sephardim, never accepted this ban.
See Sdei Chemed; Choson V’kallah V’Chupah Siman 1, Shu”t Yabia Omer Vol. 3 Siman 10 and Igros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol. 1 Siman 93.)


685)  Q: What is the halachic justification for wearing a wide brim hat on shabbos , most people are not aware that this a problem [of an ohel, as stated in Talmud Shabbos 138]?

A: Being that our hats are tight fitting to the head, have sloped and soft bendable brims and are usually not worn for shade, most of our hats are permitted to be worn. See Shulchan Aruch Siman 301: 40 and comment of the Be’er Hagolah there. See also  Mishna Berura 301:152 at length.

686) Q: Are children supposed to try to fast three fasts before their bar/bas mitzva?

A: On Yom Kippur, from age 9 until 12 for a boy and 11 for a girl it’s good to accustom them to fast for an hour or two (i.e. to teach them to push off their usual eating time.). From age 11 for a girl and age 12 for a boy there is a Mitzvah of chinuch to try and have them fast if they are strong enough. (See Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Berura Siman 616,based on Mishna Yoma 82a)
Some people have the custom to have them fast two or three fasts before their Bar/Bas Mitzvah, however there is no clear source for this minhag. Others say that since there is no Chinuch requirement for “aveilus, mourning, over the Churban” and most fast days (Besides Yom Kippur and Taanis Esther) are an expresion of  such mourning, thus there is no chinuch for fasting.
Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal (Halichos Shlomo Yom Kippur, Perek 6:14) ruled that children under Bar/Bas Mitzvah should not fast a full day at all, even on Yom Kippur. He ruled this way even if Yom Kippur was the fast immediately before their Bar/Bas Mitzvah.
For halacha L’ma’aseh a Rav must be consulted.


687) Q: Do children make kiddush on Yom Kippur when it comes out on Shabbos?

A: child, or an adult that is ill, that eats on Yom Kippur (regardless if it’s shabbos or not), according to the Mishna Berura (Siman 618:28) does not recite Kiddush first. (Rav Akiva Eiger Zatzal argues and maintains that Kiddush is necessary. The prevelant ruling that is followed is not to recite Kiddush.)


688) Q: Ever since I can remember, when we count people we don’t count 1, 2,3 but rather “not 1, not 2, not 3″. I was just talking to a friend about this, and we realized we don’t know why we do it. I was curious if there was any mekor for it and reason, or even if it’s a real inyan in Yiddishkeit not to count people by just numbers.

A: Yes, it is a real inyan not to count people in the regular fashion, as Bracha rests on “hidden” things and counting opens the door for Ayin Hara. (See Talmud Yoma 22b where it states that it is forbidden to count Jews in the regular manner).

Thus, in the Midbar, they used Machtzis Hashekel to count the Yidden, and throughout our history, we used various  indirect means to count people. When checking if there is a minyan present, we say “Hoshea es Amecha etc.” a Pasuk with 10 words, rather than counting directly. (See Kizur Shulchan Aruch  Siman15:3 and Shu"t Shu"t Tzitz Eliezer  Vol. 7 Siman 3)

I guess saying “not 1, not 2…” can be an acceptable method,but don’t point as you “count”.


689) Q: When I was a small boy, I was taught to never fold my hands by interlacing the fingers of the two hands.  Rather, we were told have one hand should surround and cover the other.  I always thought that this was to avoid imitating non-Jewish prayer poses, but I recently saw that it has a source in the Zohar.

What is the source for this custom?

A: According to Kabballah (Zohar Parshas Vayikra 24), it is never good to interlace the fingers into each other as doing so can bring bad Mazel as well as harsh heavenly  judgement. (See Piskei Teshuvos Siman 95:5 for more details. See also Taz  Siman 95:3)

Halachically, in times of peace and calm it should not be done, but in difficult times (I am not sure exactly how to determine what is considered difficult times) it is an acceptable, and perhaps even an adviseable, way to hold the hands during Tefilah. (See Aruch HaShulchan Siman 91:7 and Be’er Heitev Siman 95:3)

Some Poskim, including Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Zatzal were not makpid on this; perhaps they felt the issue was only during Tefilah, but not at other times.

690) Q: If a Sefer Torah falls, Chas V'shalom,how many days must the person who dropped it fast for? How many days must the people who saw the fallen Torah fast for?
A: Fasting for a Sefer Torah that fell R”L  is not a halacha brought in the Talmud, and is only a proper minhag that is brought in the later Poskim. (See Mogen Avraham Siman 44:5)
Some require only the one from whose hands it fell to fast, while others mandate all who saw it fall to fast. Some Poskim say to fast for one day, while others say to fast three days (Monday, Thursday, Monday) (See Shiyurei Bracha Yoreh Deah Siman 282:1, Aruch HaShulchan Siman 282:8 and Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 3 Siman 3)
Some Poskim say not to fast and instead give charity and do teshuvah.
Every community should decide for themselves the right method to employ when such a thing happens R”L.


After originally posting this Q&A, a reader emailed me the following additional sources that discuss this issue:
Menachos 32b
Chayyim Sha’al 12, emphasizes that the custom is mentioned neither in
the Talmud nor by the Rishonim. “However, it is the custom to fast
even if one’s tefillin fell, and certainly for a fallen sefer Torah.”
Yad Eliezer (126)
Moznayim Lemishpat 5
Chazon Nachum 86
Zecher Yehosef, Orach Chayyim 31
MaharshagYoreh Deah. 53
Riva 27
Shu”t  Tzitz Eliezer 5:1:3

691) Q: Is one required to put a mezuzah on the entrance to his sukkah?

A: No. A Mezuzah is only required ofr a permanent dwelling.

692) Q: I wanted to know what the exact halachos are regarding sleeping in clothes and shoes? I have heard that sleeping in clothes and shoes is bad.

A: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 71:5 writes that one should not sleep in his/her clothes or shoes. 

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch does not give details as to why one should not sleep in clothing. Presumably the reason is kabalistic in nature. Many people nowadays  are not makpid with this and do sleep with clothing.

Regarding shoes, however, the Poskim do give us a little more  details. The Ben ish Chai (Parashas Pinchos, year 2, 16) and the Kaf Hachaim (Yoreh Deah  Siman 116:211) write that sleeping with shoes on is akin to a “taste of death” R”L. (Based on Talmud Yoma 78b)

 The seforim also say that sleeping with shoes on can lead to forgetting one’s Torah as well as to general memory loss R”L. (See Shemiras Haguf V’Hanefesh Siman 115)

Rav Chaim Kanievsky Zatzal ruled that this applies to children as well, and it is important to be careful not to let children and babies  sleep or nap with their shoes on.

Regarding if this applies to a full sleep only or even to a short , is a subject of discussion among the Poskim. The Chida maintains that it applies to any nap that is longer than half an hour, while some Poskim  maintain that it only applies to a sleep that is three hours or longer.

Surely when going to sleep for the night, or when taking a long nap, one should be careful to remove his shoes.

693) Q: I have heard that there is no problem with making a bracha when drinking water from a water fountain. How is this possible due to the fact that one can not see the water he is about to drink?

A: Although the food/drink one is reciting a Bracha over needs to be in front of them, and preferably in their [right] hand, while reciting the bracha, in the case of a water fountain it is not always possible.


Ideally, the water should be filled into a cup and then the Bracha recited. If that is not practical, the water must at least be turned on and flowing before the bracha is recited, as even though the actual water that was there when the bracha was recited is different than the water you will drink, still it is considered from the same water flow and thus isn’t a Bracha L’Vatalah. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 206:6 regarding one who drinks from a flowing stream. See also Shu”t Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 3 Siman 129)

694) Q: I live in Eretz Yisroel where V'sein Tal U'Matar is said starting on 7 Mar-Cheshvan, unlike in Chutz L'aretz where it isn't said until December 4th or 5th. I’m currently in New York, so I asked before I left Eretz Yisroel: What do I, a ben Eretz Yisroel in Chutz L’aretz for a month, do on 7 Mar-Cheshvan ? I was told to continue saying V’sein berachah” in Bareich Aleinu, and to add in Shema Koleinu “v’sein tal u’matar livrachah… kee Atah shomeiah….”
I’m sure your readers would want to hear about what to do if “out of position” on 7 Mar-Cheshvan [and beyond].

A: The Psak you were given is indeed  the psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal (quoted in Sefer Ishei Yisroel Perek 23:37, footnote 149)
The Mishna Berura Siman 117 S”K 5 brings two opinions, one that he should say as he does in Eretz Yisroel (assuming he is returning within the year), and one that he should follow the place he currently is in.

Of course, everyone should consult and follow the ruling of their own Rav

695) Q: Are there any heterim for sephardim to eat non kemach yoshon products?

A: The Bet Yosef (whose rulings the Sephardim follow) rules pretty clearly in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 489:10 and in Yoreh Deah Siman 293:2  that it is prohibited to eat Kemach Chodosh both in Eretz Yisroel and in Chutz L’Aretz.

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