q&a page 6
245) Q:I read an article and have heard on other occasions that the chofetz chaim says that one who answers yehai shmai rabba aloud and with kavana can annul many bad decrees. My question is, does this apply to women too or do Tznius considerations override this, calling for women not to answer out loud (whereby they may be heard by the men in shul)??
A: Those arent the Chofetz Chaim’s words…they are the words of the Gemara! (Shabbos 119b) The Gemara says one who answers Amen Yehei Shmay Rabbah with all his strength annuls bad decrees and gets Mechilah for his sins.
According to one opinion in Tosefos “all his strength” means saying it loudly. According to Rasi and the first opinion in Tosefos it means saying it with as much Kavanah as possible (which is more important than simply screaming the words)
Therefore, if a woman answers it loudly where men will be able to hear her, it isn’t proper. However, she can, and should, still say it with as much Kavanah as he can! And also as loud as she can say it without any men hear her.
246) Q: Is it permitted to speak lashon hara about a non-jew?
A: There is no prohibition about speaking Lashon Hara about a goy. However, if by doing so it can lead to a Chilul Hashem, then it should be avoided. Also, if by doing so often it will cause us to become lax in lashon Hara to a Jew, or otherwise ruin our charachter, it should also be avoided.
247) Q: Is it wrong to cut a sandwich (of two slices of bread) in 1/2 or quarters before making hamotzi [as the Halacha requires to make Hamotzi on a Shalem, or on as big a piece as possible]?
A: If possible not to cut before Bracha, that is obviously the best. However, if that is difficult or not practical, if you keep the two halves together so that it seems whole while you make the Bracha, it is OK.
248) Q: I am not clear on the exact nature of tevillas Kelim. What is the exact issur if it is not done? If part of a coffee machine became treif, it couldn’t be used without kashering, whereas you stated that a coffee machine can be used although parts of it are not able to be toivelled (which I do understand to be halacha lemaase). Thus, I also question the stringency of not eating from another person’s dish if it wasn’t toivelled.
A: Toiveling and Kashering are 2 separate things. Toiveling is immersing in a Mikva any utensil that was manufactured/owned by a non Jew. This immersion elevates the kedsha of the utensil. The utensil isnt “treif” it is simply not toiveled, and in certain cases we can be lenient with this.
Kashering is for utensils that are not kosher (due to being used for Basar B’Chalav, Treif etc.). This process entails a blow torch and/or boiling water to purge the utensil of the non kosher elements. Eating from a utensil that is treif is prohibited and drinking from a machine that is treif is prohibited without exception.
249) Q: Does eating parmesan cheese make one “milchig” for 6 hours? Is there anything else, e.g., eating other cheese which would make one “milchig” for 6 hours?
A: Eating “hard, aged” cheeses requires waiting 6 hours before eating meat, as they leave a taste in ones mouth, unlike other dairy. According to the Star K Kashrus agency, on their website ” Parmesian cheese is considered hard if it has been aged for six months. Romano may also be a hard cheese (but is not readily available as kosher). Swiss, Cheddar, Muenster, and Mozzarella are not hard cheeses. Cottage and cream cheese are certainly not hard cheeses either. If a hard cheese is cooked, it does not lose its status as a hard cheese.” I know many Rabbanim do consider Cheddar cheese as a hard cheese, yet the Star K doesnt feel this way. A Rav should be consulted for Halacha L’Ma’aseh.
250) Q: Does the spice paprika need a hechsher?
A:Spice blends, spices produced in Israel, and spices on Pesach surely need a Hechsher. Single Ingredient, pure spices, according to many Poskim do not need a Hechsher. However, it is best to be stringent, especially today when spices with reliable hechserim are readily available.
251) Q: What is the halachic background for women going into a cemetery?
A: According to Kabalistic sources (AriZal and others) , one should never go within 4 amos of a grave (besides during a burial. See Mishnah Berurah Siman 559:41) . The Vilna Gaon maintained that people should not go to cemeteries at all, especially women (Igeres HaGra)
The prevelant custom is that we do in fact go to cemeteries. However, women while they are a Nidah customarily do not go. (See Mishnah Berurah Siman 88:7 and Bais Baruch to Chayei Adam Siman 3:38) A Rav should be consulted for Halacha L’Ma’aseh.
252) Q: I have an excellent question based on today’s halacha, an issue that has never sunk into my head because I never understood its application to modern times. You state that poskim are lenient with washing hands between fish and meat because of a certain danger no longer applicable today. Yet, mayim acharonim came about as a result of a danger from melach sedomis. Can you tell me why we must continue with mayim acharonim today. I will admit that I do not give much attention to mayim acharonim, in part, because I do not understand the application of melach sedomis to modern day times. In summary, it seems that we hold on to certain “dangers” from hundreds of years ago, yet we do not hold on to other “dangers” of generations ago. Why the confusion?
A: Yes, seemingly you have a valid question. However, many of the things that were instituted by Chazal have other, deeper reasons besides the sakana reasons that were given. Sometimes it is a spiritual Sakana (such as Ruach Ra) besides the physical sakana. Therefore, it isn’t up to us to decide which things to hold on to and which things to not abide by anymore. The only ones who can determine this are the Poskim. The Shulchan Aruch Siman 181:1 clearly states that “Mayim Achronim Chova” that it is a mandatory obligation. Nobody argues with that, and thus it is something we must all do, even though seemingly the sakana is gone. It was gone in the times of the Shulchan Aruch as well, yet it was determned to still be in effect until today. The Mishna Berura brings other reasons for doing this besides the melach Sdomis reason. Only things (like washing between fish and meat) where the Poskim determined it was ONLY necessary due to the sakana, are they able to say that it is no longer necessary.
253) Q: What is the exact issur of using a kli (utensil) that was not toiveled?
A: The prohibition of eating on non toveled utensils is based on the Posuk in Bamidbar 31:23. While certain Poskim maintain that this is a rabinnic requirement, and only use the Posuk as an Asmachta, the Shulchan Aruch maintains that it is a D’Oraisa.(See Gemara Avoda Zara 75b, Shulchan Aruch Y”D Siman 120:14, Rama Siman 120:8, Aruch HaShulchan Y”D Siman 120:3 and 48, Shu”t Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 3 end of Siman 22)
254) Q: If i daven [Shmona Esrei] and say modim D’rabanan by accident instread of the regular Modim, do i need to start shemonei esrei over again? What if i realize after i say modim drabanan, should i then say modim?
A: If you said Modim D’rabanan by mistake instead of the regular Modim, according to most poskim you can continue your Shemona Esrei without saying the regular modim as both modim’s are acceptable for that Bracha. If you remembered before finishing the Bracha you can go back and say the correct Nusach.
255) Q: Is it muktzah to wear a digital watch on shabbos?
A: As long as you don’t press any of the buttons, it is permissible to wear the watch on Shabbos.
256) Q: Is it against halacha to euthanize a pet? Our cat is 19 years old and is simply dying of old age. The vet gave us a list of sicknesses she may be suffering from but there is no cure at this stage of the game for any of those possible problems. I have been under the impression forever that it is against halacha to euthanize an animal. A close relative (who knows how to learn) claims otherwise and is urging us to put the cat down. Is there a heter to do this?
A:Though I would recommend you speak to a Rav before implementing any decision on this, I will tell you this:
Killing of animals, according to the Torah, may only be done for the benefit of mankind, or alternatively for the benefit of the animal.
Thus, hunting for pleasure, killing an animal for fun etc. is Tzar Baalei Chaim and prohibited according to many Poskim.
Killing an animal for food or to prevent damage to other animals or humans is permitted.
Thus, in your case where it is being done to prevent pain to the animal, it would be permitted.
Like I said, please discuss with a Rav before doing anything though.
See Shu”t Noda B’Yehuda Yoreh Deah Siman 10 for more on this topic.
257) Q: I’m planning my friend’s bridal shower and one of the activities that i intended to do was have a race of who can construct a miniature chupa out of food such as (pretzels and jelly beans…) is this type of activity considered Bizui Ochlin? (especially because i’m sure noone will eat the chupa after it is made) many of these types of races are done at carnivals so i never thought it might be an issue untill i read the halacha.
A: If any of the foods used will become inedible, you should in fact not use them for this game. If, however, they are foods that can still be eaten (hard candies, licorice etc.) then there possibly may be leniencies. A Rav should be consulted for Halacha L’ma’aseh.
258) Q:This Shabbat I observed folks throwing candy at the Bar Mitzvah boy. The opened Torah too was bombarded. When the rabbi grabbed a handful of candy that was resting on the open klaf, I gasped.Today you wrote: “It is for this reason that it is permissible to throw nuts [in their shells], wrapped candy and similar items at a Chasan and Kallah (bride and groom). Raisins and other soft items may not be thrown at them. (Mishna Berura Siman 171:21)” So I just had to ask about the propriety of this custom when the Sefer Torah is out, and in our case was hit by thrown candy. That the candy was resting on the klaf seemed like 1/60th of a desecration of the Holy Torah.
A: There is no question, that the throwing at the groom should not start until the Sefer Torah is closed and covered, as otherwise it is definitely not proper Kavod HaTorah!
259) Q: Is one allowed to order something online or from a catalog if there is a possibility it will be delivered on shabbas or yom tov? or if it will surely be delivered on shabbas or yomtov? are there issues of disturbing the spirit of shabbos/yomtov because the delivery man will ring the bell or something? or issues of causing chillul shabbos if the deliveryman is jewish? or any other issues?
A: The item may be ordered. If at all possible, try and make sure it doesnt arrive on Shabbos, but if it does, there is no problem about having ordered it.
However, it is best not to touch, and surely not to open and/or use, the item on Shabbos Kodesh for various reasons such as Techum, Muktzah, Uvda D’Chol etc..
260) Q: Could you tell me if it is permissible for a man to dye his hair?
A: A man may not dye his hair if doing so for beauty or to hide white hair etc. as this is a biblical transgression of “Lo Tilbash” not to wear (or otherwise imitate) the ways of the opposite gender. This includes dying hair, plucking out even one white hair for a man, wearing clothing of the opposite gender, men shaving areas of the body that are shaved generally by women, etc. These are very severe prohibitions and a Rav should be consulted to determine what does and does not fall into the prohibition of Lo Tilbash.
261) Q: You wrote (in Q&A # 243) “Hence, the Gemara (Chagiga 16a) says that one may not look at a rainbow as it is a bad sign that the world is steeped in sin, and one who gazes at a rainbow transgresses a sin.” – what about the bracha of Zocher Habris? we say a bracha when performing an aveira?!
A: The Bracha is recited after “seeing” a rainbow. The Bracha is thanking Hashem for for remembering his covenant (not to destroy the world) and for keeping His promise not to destroy the world.. Any further “gazing” atthe rainbow is the aveirah, not the initial seeing on which we recite the Bracha.
See also Sefer Michtav M’Eliyahu from Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler Zatzal, Vol. 4 page 10 for another approach regarding not gazing at the rainbow.
262) Q: Is one allowed to take a shower on Yom Tov?
A: Showering on Yom Tov is only permitted when extremely necessary (very hot and sweaty etc.), and even then not in the normal manner of showering during the weekdays.
Hot water may not be used. Only one part of the body may be washed at a time, and not a full body shower. Bar soap may not be used, nor a washcloth. Liquid soap and shampoo, according to some Poskim may be used, only if they are watered down enough. Drying the hair afterwards with a towel is prohibited. There are other issues that may arise as well. It is important to discuss all the details of this with a Rav to determine the need to shower and the methods acceptable according to Halacha.
Unfortunately many people abuse this Halacha and take showers, or even go swimming, on Yom Tov, and they should be urged to seek Rabbinic guidance before engaging in these oftentimes prohibited activities on Yom Tov.
263) Q: If one forgets to remove a clothing tag before Shabbos or Yom Tov, is it permissible to pull it off providing you don’t rip any words, don’t use a knife or scissor, and don’t tear it on any perforation? In the alternative, is it permissible to wear the clothing with the tag (Obviously the tag is not visible, etc…)
A:Yes, if the tags are in a visible place, and it won’t involve the undoing of any stiching, they may be removed.. Care should be taken ot to rip any words or letters. There is a discussion amongst the Poskim regarding staples, if undoing them is like undoing a stitch, so a Rav should be consulted regarding the best way to deal with that (common for drycleaner tags)
If the clothing can be worn in a way that the tag will not be seen, it can be worn with the tag on on Shabbos.
264) Q: I never know what to do about smelling flowers. What bracha does one make on flowers? When do you make the bracha? What if you make the bracha and then the flowers don’t smell? – was it then a bracha l’vatola requiring a “baruch shem kvod…”? What if you enter a florist or another area – on the street, or in someone’s home- where the smell of flowers is strong – should we make a bracha when we smell the fragrance? Thank you for clarifying this confusing topic.
A:If the flower being smelled is from a tree (such as a rose),the correct Bracha to recite is Borei Atzei (trees/branches)Besamim . If the flower grows from the ground (such as a daisies, tulips etc.), and not on a tree, the Bracha recited is Borei Isvei (grasses) Besamim. When smelling a whole bunch of flowers, which includes both tree flowers and other flowers, the Bracha recited is Borei Minei (different kinds)Besomim. The same is true when walking into a florist (if the smell is very distinct and you derive pleasure from it. Or even if it isn’t that distinct but you intentionally want to derive pleasure from the smell) or a spice store, the Bracha of Borei Minei Besomim is recited. (See Mishna Berura Siman 217:2)
The Bracha is always made before smelling it, if you are certain that there will be a scent.
If you suspect that it may not smell or if your nosed is stuffed and you arent sure if you will be able to detect the scent, you should take a small smell, and then if you detect an scent, make a Bracha. (Psak of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita quoted in Sefer Brachos K’Hilchasan page 150)
If you made the Bracha and intended to smell the flower, and then upon smelling it found it to have no scent at all, “Boruch Sheim” should be recited.
265) Q: When one washes and says Motzi for one of the seudos on Shabbos, what is the obligation about food beyond the bread and grape juice from Kiddush? Is there any requirement to eat something else besides the kezayis?
A: A Seudah needs to be eaten on Shabbos (3 times). It is best to have meat (or chicken at least) at the night meal, and the day meal, as well as other delicacies L’kavod Shabbos. At Seudah Shlishis, no meat is required.
Many have a Minhag to make sure to have fish at each of the 3 shabbos meals. (See Ben Ish Chai, second year, Parashas Vayeira Siman 18 for the reasoning)
Many of the traditional foods eaten on Shabbos (chicken soup, kugel, cholent, tzimmes, kneidels etc.) have deep kabalistic reasons, and perhaps in the future we will delve into some of those meanings etc.
266) Q: What is the source for not eating while standing up?
A: Here are a few of the many sources: Rambam Hilchos Deios Perek 4:3, Ben Ish Chai, year 1, parashas Behar Siman 11, Mishna Berura 296:6, Shu”t Rav PeAlim Vol. 2 Siman 45 says that many are not makpid on this today, and perhaps the Teva has changed. However, he quotes an Arizal who says to be makpid. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav 296:15 seems to hold that this is only for Talmidei Chachamim and not for all people.
267) Q: Is it ok to say bircas hamazon or al hamichya standing up?
A: It is best to try and sit, however, if said standing you are Yotze B’Dieved. (See Aruch HaShulchan Siman 183:8. We will iy”H cover this topic in the near future more in depth.)
268) Q:When only a bite of bread is taken and a whole meal is eaten, for e.g. meat & vegetables., would you then say borey nefashos instead of birkas hamozone?
A: Yes, if less than a Kzayis of bread is eaten, Birchas haMazon is not recited, only Borei Nefashos on the other food, provided that a Kzayis was eaten (which can be calculated in unison with the bread. For example: half a kzayis of bread and Half a Kzayis of meat)
However,keep in mind, if one knows that less than a Kbeitza of bread will be eaten, it is forbidden to recite the Bracha of Al Netilas Yadayim on the washing, but he should wash without a bracha
If you did say Al Netilas Yadayim, make sure to eat at least a Kbeitza of bread.
If less than a Kzayis is eaten, according to some Poskim it is not even necessary to wash the hands, but other Poskim are stringent and require washing, albeit without a bracha of Al Netilas Yadayim.
Regarding Birchas Hamazon, if a Kzayis was eaten, Birchas Hamazon should be recited.
(See Shulchan Aruch Siman 158: 2 and 3 and Mishna berura S"K 9 and 10)
269) Q: I have been wondering- what exactly is allowed to be sung in the shower, can hebrew songs be sung if they don’t contain Hashem’s name? are passukim definitely not allowed? if my little sister is speaking words on the parsha etc in the tub is that assur? are all torah thoughts completely not allowed?
A: Divrei Torah in the shower is a complicated shailah. If the shower is in the same room as the toilet, then it is absolutely forbidden to say , or even think,any Torah there. If the shower is in its own room, or in an enclosed area, then it may be considered a bathouse (Merchatz) according to some Poskim (including Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheiberg shlita) and not a bathroom (Bais HaKisei) and then certain things may be able to be said, or at least thought there.
It is best to not say any Pesukim or any Divrei Torah, parsha etc. in the shower/tub. Hebrew, per se is not prohibited though. So if it is a song in Hebrew that isn’t a Posuk or Torah, it may be permitted. If the word “Shalom” is in the song, it is more stringent, as “Shalom” is one of the names of Hashem, and as such may not be uttered in unclean places.
270) Q: Regarding the halachos from June 10th 2009 [ regarding not making any interruptions during Birchas Hamazon], if I am sitting with other people and we are all bentching at the same time, do I answer amen to someone else’s bracha? Does it make a difference if i’m in middle of a paragraph?
A: There is a debate amongst the Poskim about this. Some do not allow it at all. Some allow it even in middle of a Bracha. Some allow it between Brachos.The accepted custom is to indeed answer Amen to the Bracha of another person’s Birchas HaMazon, as long as you are between Brachos. ( See Ketzos HaShulchan Siman 44:12, Shu”t B’Teil HaChachma Vol. 4 Siman 42, Chazon Ish Siman 28:3 and Ta’amei HaMinhagim page 86 what he quotes from the Aishel Avraham from Butshatsh)
271) Q: Are there any halochos regarding fresh mushrooms? Do I have to clean/check/peel them?
A: According to the Star K Kashrus agency, Fresh mushrooms do not require checking or peeling. All you need to do is rinse them off well, and then you can eat them. (See their complete list here:
272) Q: What is the difference between emunah and bitachon?
A: This is a very fundamental question, and difficult to address in an email, but I will try to answer your question as simply as I can. There are many ways to answer this,but I will base my answer on the teachings of the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Avigdor Miller Zichronam Livracha.
Emunah is a “concept” of believing that everything that happens in this world, and even the world itself, only happens because Hashem wills it so. The word Emuna is wrongfully translated as “faith”. The true meaning of the word Emunah (and there are countless pesukim in Tanach to prove this) is “faithful”, “steady”, “without wavering” (e.g. “VaYehi Yadav Emunah, and his hands were steady” (Shmos 17:120). Meaning that no matter what happens to us in life, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves, no matter if things seem wrong etc. we do not stray from our belief that Hashem is firmly in control, is doing what is best for the world at large and for us as individuals. Much as a husband and wife must be “faithful” to one another through thick and thin, so too must a jew be faithful to Hashem, no matter what life throws his/her way.
Bitachon is the “actualization” of Emunah. Bitachon is not worrying about things, because we know Hashem is in charge. Bitachon is giving the poor man your last dollar and knowing that Hashem will give you waht you need. Bitachon is not getting upset when something doesnt go your way, because if it went a different way, Hashem willed it so. Bitachon is ignoring your cell phone while you’re davening, because you know you are talking to Hashem and nothing bad can happen from doing what Hashem wills of you, even if by doing so you will “risk” upsetting another human who wanted you to answer that phone. etc. etc.
273) Q: I’m not from a religious family but I [myself] am [a religious female]. Am I allowed to make kiddush for my uncles and and boy cousins as they don’t know how to do it. Also, can I say Birkat Hamazon out loud [and be Motzi them]? Is that a Tzinius problem?
A: The Mishna Berura (Siman 271:4) rules that a woman may exempt a man with Kiddush. However, he says that it is not appropriate to do so, unless it is for her family members, which in your case it is, so it would be OK, especially since they are not religious. Regarding Birchas HaMazon, it is more complicated, as it isn’t clear if a woman’s obligation to bentch is biblical or not. If her obligation is only rabbinical, she may not be Motzi a man whose obligation is biblical. Unless, the man ate a small amount and isnt totally satisfied, and then his obligation is rabbinical too and then she can be Motzi him. (See Mishna berura 186:1-3). However, in your case, where they will not bentch on their own anyway, and here they will listen to yur bentching at least, perhaps it is proper. A Rav must be consulted for Halacha L’ma’aseh.
274) Q: Why is it that some people place a sefer face-down on the table to keep the place? My understanding is that this is forbidden. Can you tell me the source(s) for this halacha?
A: You are 100% correct that it is prohibited to place a Sefer face down. See Rama Yoreh Deah Siman 282:5. Unfortunately, many people are lax in this and other halachos that pertain to treating Seforim with proper respect. ( See also Ta”z to Yoreh Deah Siman 271:8. and Biur Halachah Siman 83 Dibur HaMaschil Ain)
275) Q: I recently thought about the idea of how the Siddur is published with the Torah portions read on Mondays, Thursdays, Shabbos Mincha, and at various other zmanim throughout the year, is placed in the back of the Siddur, with the T’fillot preceding it, resulting when you close a Siddur the T’fillot are placed and rest above the Torah portions. But when it comes to “piling up S’farim” we tend to place Chumashim(composed of the portions mentioned above) on top of a Siddur mainly because of “maalim b’kidushah”, what could be a possible heter for this, or should a Siddur be placed down when not using it “upside down” namely with the Torah portions on top?
A: According to many Poskim (including Aruch HaShulchan Yoreh Deah Siman 282:22) only Chumashim written as Torah scrolls (individual Sefarim, but on parchment) have the extra Kedusha and may not be placed under any other seforim, and not our Chumashim that are printed on paper. Although we are stringent and don’t put anything on top of a paper Chumash either, in your case there is no room for stringencies and definitely do not place the siddur backwards, as the Pesukim that are in the back do not make it a chumash. The Gemara also has Pesukim in it as do other Seforim, yet only a Chumash by itself has that stringency.
276) Q: Thank you for the daily dose of halacha! Can foaming hand soap, such as the one found here, be used on Shabbat, or is the foam too similar to a solid and therefore it would be a problem of smoothing?
A:Many Poskim allow the use of all liquid soap on Shabbos. Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol 1 Siman 113) was stringent.
The prevalant minhag is to use liquid soap that is very watery, and to avoid those that are thicker. If the thick soap is watered down, then it can be used. (See also Shu”t Oz Nidberu Vol. 10 Siman 16)
To determine if any particular soap is watered down enough, a Rav should be consulted.
277) Q: there is a minhag that by the chupa, the kallah takes off her jewellery and gives them to her single friends and her bouquet of flowers as well as a ‘sgula’ to find their zivug.. is there anything to it or is a chuk goy?
A:This is a well established minhag. One of the reasons given is that a Choson and Kalah don’t wear Jewelry at the chupah to show that they are marrying each other for who they are, and not for their wealth or other external reasons. Since when the jewelry is removed, someone has to hold it, the minhag evolved to give it to friends, and it became known as a segulah.
There is nothing wrong with doing this as a minhag and it isn’t Chukas HaGoy, but it has no source in Halacha, and there is no need to do this if they don’t want to. Also, there is no need to empty their pockets or loosen any ties, according to Halacha, yet many have the minhag to do so. (based on Psak of HaGaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita quoted in the newly printed sefer Yismach Lev. Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, also quoted in Yismach Lev says that Al Pi Kabalah, it is important to empty the pockets)
278) Q: Is it an aveira (sin) to be worried or nervous, because it says to trust in Hashem as a commandmet and being worried isn’t trusting in Hashem.
A: Well, that is an extremely high level, and one that we as frum jews should strive for our entire lives. If you learn the Sefer Chovos Halevovos (and every frum jew should read this sefer!) it will help you understand, internalize and make you feel Bitachon as a real thing!
Yes, Hashem is in charge and in total control of this world, and nothing -bad or good- can happen without Him willing it so. Yes, technically we should never worry, and simply place our trust in our all powerful father in heaven who loves us and watches over each and every one of us.
As long as you are striving to reach this level, even if it takes you many years or even a lifetime, it isn’t an “Aveira” to worry or be nervous. However, if one worries too much and forgets about Hashem and doesnt at least try to place his/her trust in Him, it may indeed be a sin.
This topic is a very exhaustive one, and beyond the scope of an email. I do suggest reading sefarim/books on the topic of Emunah/Bitachon to help you grow in this important area. (Rabbi Avigdor Miller Zatzal has some excellent books on these topics as well as many other Hebrew and English books by many great authors that can be found in any Seforim store)
279) Q: Is there such thing as a gray area in life were its neither good or bad, but neutral? Or everything in life is either a mitvah or an aveira?
A: Firstly, Hashem is good. everything Hashem does is good. We may not always see it, but Hashem is good and only does good. Even “bad” things are done for our benefit! Thus, we may say that life is difficult or challenging, but we may never say that life is bad! The very difficulties and struggles and challenges are to test us, and then once we pass our tests, we get eternal reward from Hashem!
The Torah says(Devorim 30:19)”…HaChaim V’Hamaves Nasati L’fanecha, Habracha V’Haklala, Uvacharta BaChaim”. Hashem says to us I have placed life and death before you, blessings and curses…Choose life!”
There is no such thing as standing still in Yiddishkeit. We are always moving either up or down, we are either growing or falling, we are either doing what Hashem wants from us or we are doing what He doesnt want us to do. Everything in life is a choice. Will we follow the Yetzer Hara (Hamaves) or will we follow the Torah way (Hachaim)
Not everything is necessarily a Mitzva or an Aveira per se, but EVERY action we do or don’t do, EVERY word we say or don’t say, EVERY decision we make or don’t make will either propel us closer to Hashem or drag us down away from Him Chas V’Shalom.
So, basically there arent really any grey areas in the life of a Jew. Obviously, this topic is deeper and more complicated than a few sentences, but that is the way the Chachamim view it in a nutshell.
280) Q: Is appropriate or even the right thing for a woman to be menachem avel (comfort a mourner sitting Shiva) a man who is not a relative? My close friend’s father is sitting shiva and there are only men sitting there, should I / can I go be menachem avel? It would obviously mean just peeking into the mens side for a minute just to get the avel’s attention so that he can see me and I can say the text. If its not appropriate, what would I do if the avel is someone I know who would be insulted or hurt?
A:There is nothing wron,g per se, for a woman to be menachem avel a man or vice versa. As long as there are no other tzniyus concerns, it can and should be done and in fact that is the prevelant minhag.
If the room is filled with men and you would have to squeeze through them to reach the Avel, or by coming into the room it will cause men to look at you inappropriately, obviously it shouldnt be done.
But if the room isn’t filled, and you can stand at the door and wish him the “HaMakom Yenachem” in a dignified and Tzniyus way, there is no problem..
If it cannot be done appropriately, you can always call him on the phone and say the “Hamakom”
May all mourners be comforted amongst the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.
281) Q: Can you provide me the mareh mokom in shas that states that on the day of the chasuna, a choson’s aveiros are eliminated?
A: See Yevamos 63b and Yerushalmi Bikurim Perek 3:3.This applies to brides as well. The wedding day is a personal Yom Kippur for the bride and groom, and their Tefilos have special significance on this day.
Keep in mind that it is exactly like Yom Kippur, where sins between man and Hashem are forgiven [if Teshuva is done], but not sins between man and his fellow man, which need forgiveness from the person that was wronged before the sin can be erased.
282) Q: My brother is IY”H geting married tomorrow, Rosh Chodesh. What is the din/minhag with regards to the choson saying viduy in his mincha tomorrow although it is Rosh Chodesh?
A: The Pischei Teshuva Even HaEzer Siman 61:9 quotes the Sefer Kerem Shlomo who rules that even on Rosh Chodesh, and other days that one does not fast, the Vidui is said [in the Tefila of Elokai Netzor, before the three steps back are taken]
283) Q: When washing for a meal does one say a bracha on dessert?
A: Yes, dessert is usually not considered part of the meal, and thus requires a Bracha. Only drinks and ices do not require a new bracha, and according to some Poskim desserts that are of the 5 grains also do not require a new bracha, but many Poskim do indeed require it. Best thing in case of a dessert of 5 grains is to make a Mezonos on a dessert that isnt from 5 grains (such as rice krispy treat etc.) and exempt the cake.
284) Q: Are women also supposed to say 100 brachos a day?
A: Women are not obligated in the recital of the 100 Brachos (brought in Shulchan Aruch Siman 46:3), as many of the Brachos counted in the Poskim inthe total of 100 are not Brachos that women say. (See Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol.2 Siman 129 and Shu”t Shevet Haleivi Vol.5 Siman 23)
285) Q: why cant you eat before kiddush?
A: It is prohibited to eat before performing any Mitzvah whose time has arrived to perform..
However, with most Mitzvos, only sitting down to a meal is prohibited before the Mitzvah is performed, while before Kidush even eating a small snack is prohibited. One of the reasons for this is that the Rabbis wanted a person to recite Kidush as soon as possible after sunset, and in order to make sure this happens they prohibited even small snacks or drinks.(See Mishna Berura Siman 271:11)
286) Q: Baruch Hashem I have been zoche to daven Vasikin every day including shabbos at a local minyan since Elul. Now my family and I are going on a well deserved vacation where they will be no Minyan at Vasikin. Do I still daven Neitz with no Minyan or is it better to daven later but with a minyan. My grandfather told me that he remembers the Chazon Ish used to daven Neitz byechidus even before their was a minyan at that time in Bnei Berak, but is this Halacha L’Ma’aseh?
A: I have heard from Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita that indeed Netz B’yechidus is better than Tefilah B’Tzibur later. I have also heard in the name of Rav Dovid Feinstein Shlita that davening with a minyan is more important. Please consult your Rav for Halacha L’Ma’aseh.
287) Q: I thought it was only permissible to say the name of Hashem, while learning gemora, etc, if one said the whole posuk, but if only part of the posuk is said (like in most parts of the gemora) then one should not say the name of Hashem. Is this not correct?
A: Yes,it is best to try and say the entire Posuk, as we try not to say a Posuk that Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t say. However, if only part of the Posuk that is brought in the Gemara is said, it isn’t saying Hashem’s name in vain, though some Poskim still say not to say the name of Hashem in such a case.
Some people suffice to say “V’Gomer” after a few words of the Pasuk to allude that it isnt a full Posuk that Moshe said, but it definitely isn’t Hotzoas Sheim Shamayim L’Vatalah according to everyone, even if it better not to say it, as it isn’t in vain. (This is a very much discussed topic in the Poskim. Here are some sources for starters which should give you a handle on the Sugya: Mishna Berura 215:14, Shaarei teshuva 215:2, Shu”t Sh’eilas Yaavetz Vol. 1 Siman 81,Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 2 Siman 56, Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 13 Siman 1, Shu”t Yabia Omer Vol. 3 Siman 14 and Shu”t Yechaveh Da’as Vol. 3 Siman 13. Chayei Adam Klal 5:2, Ohr L’Tzion 14:34, Shu”t Be’er Moshe Vol. 5 Siman 66:4)
288) Q: I’ve heard that a woman should not make Havdalah for herself, but none of my neighbors are frum, so going to a neighbor is not an option. I’ve been making Havdalah for myself. Which is a better option…for me to continue making Havdalah for myself or for my son to call me and make Havdalah over the phone? I know someone who did that for his mother, A”H, but at the time someone said it’s not really acceptable. Any thoughts?
A: Hearing Havdalah over the phone is a very last resort, as many Poskim maintain that it isn’t acceptable. It is better to make Havdala yourself and drink the cup of wine (as your obligation to hear/make a valid havdala takes precedence over the minhag of women not drinking the wine of Havdalah, or even to make it on coffee, tea or other aceptable bevarages if you can’t drink wine, rather than hear it on the phone.)
If for whatever reason the woman cannot make her own Havdalah and will not have someone to say it for her before Tuesday evening (See Shulchan Aruch Simam 299:6), she can then rely on hearing on the phone as a last resort. (See Mishnah Berurah Siman 296:35, Aruch HaShulcha Siman 296:5,Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol.2 Siman 108 and Vol. 4 Siman 91:4 and Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer Vol.8 Siman 11)
When a woman recites havdalah for herself, it is best if she omits the Bracha on the Ner, the fire. (See Biur Halacha Siman 296 Dibur Hamaschil Lo Yavdilu)
289) Q: Very often I notice people avoid eating a Kzayis of bread while having a full meal, because they do not want to recite birkas hamazon. Is such a behavior inappropriate, i.e. in case that one is washing and having a full meal, should one try to eat enough bread so that not to avoid saying birkas hamazon?
A: If one washes and recites HaMotzi with the intent not to eat a Kzayis, it may very well be a Bracha L’Vatalah (on the Netilas Yadayim,and possibly on the HaMotzi too) according to many Poskim. Also, the food that is eaten during the meal may require their own Bracha if a Kzayis of bread is not eaten [preferably right away at the beginning of the meal]. It is also best not to talk between the Bracha of HaMotzi and the eating of a Kzayis.
This practice should be avoided at all costs. if a Kzayis won’t be eaten, do not wash or eat bread at all. ( See Mishna Berura 167:15 and Sha’ar hatzion 167:14. See also Kaf HaChaim 167:2, Aruch HaShulchan Siman 158:3, Dagul M’Rvava on Magen Avraham 167:7, Shu”t Yabia Omer Vol. 5 Siman 17:2)
290) Q: I heard from Rav Avraham Feuer shlit”a (he is son in law of Rav Gifter Zatzal) that in addition to 100 brachos, one is obligated to say 80 times Amein to somebody else’s bracha. I haven’t seen a source for this ruling. Could you help?
A: Rav Feuer shlit”a is of course correct, though he probably said 90, and not 80. There is indeed, according to many Poskim, an obligation to answer Amen 90 times each day. See Mishna Berura Siman 6:13 and Sha’arei Teshuva 6:5.
291) Q: I try to wash for Melave D’Malka each Motzei Shabbos, but now in the summer I often cannot manage to eat a Kezayis so late at night. I can wash and eat a bite of bread, but not enough to bensch. What should I do? Is it better to eat a mezonos? Or listen to my husband bensch and be yotzei with him? And if he has already started bensching quietly?
A: If you cannot eat a Kzayis of bread, do not wash. if you can eat a kzayis of Mezonos, try to do that.
The importance of Melava Malka will iy”H be discussed more at length in the future Halachos, but suffice it to say for now that many good things will happen to those who are scrupulous with its observance.
You may eat the smallest shiur of Kzayis and drink something hot to be Yotzei.
For Halacha L’ma’aseh consult a Rav.
292) Q: Do the blessings for the Torah and the Haftorah that a person recites when getting and aliyah or maftir count toward the 100 brachos? I heard that an oleh is making them on behalf of the community, not only for his own sake. Thus if Reuven got an aliya, but Shimon was answering amein, would the Reuven’s bracha count towards Shimon’s count of 100 brachos? A similar case, if Reuven makes kiddush, and Shimon joins?
A:The person making the Bracha on the Torah can certainly count the Brachos he made into his personal count of 100, even though he is exempting the rest of the Tzibur.
On Shabbos and Yom Tov when it is much more difficult to reach the 100 Brachos, due to the Shemona esrei being much shorter, B’dieved one can count the Brachos that his friend said to which he answered Amen, into his own count.(See Mishna Berura Siman 46:14)
293) Q:If a child knows a bracha already, and knows L’mi mevarech (to whom he is reciting the Bracha to), do you say Amen?
A: Yes. According to Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal, you even can answer Amen to a young child’s Bracha if he does not know L’Mi Mevarech, as doing so is training him that Amen is answered after Brachos are recited!
The Mishna Berura Siman 2215:16 doesn’t seem to pasken this way, but many contemporary Poskim Pasken like Rav Shlomo Zalmen Zatzal, and in fact it is the prevelant custom to answer Amen after very small children’s Brachos.
Some Poskim want to suggest that if possible, only part of the word Amen” should be said, as the child should think you are answering Amen, while in fact you havent said the real word, and thus would satisfy both the Mishna Berura and Rav Shloime Zalmen’s view. For Halacha L’Ma’aseh a Rav should be consulted.
294) Q: Is there an Halachic issue with going to a movie theater? Or is it just a personal decision/sensitivity?
A: Well, frum Jews do not belong in theaters of non Jews. This is something that Chazal and the Rishonim have told us goes into the commandment of “Bechukosayhem Lo Teleichu, don’t follow the ways of the Goyim” (See Vayikra 18:3 and Rashi there) Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 2 Siman 95 ) ruled that going to a Movie theater is a Chilul Hashem. Most contemporary Poskim will follow this view. There are also the issues of Ta’aruvos. Pritzus, Nivul Peh. Moshav Leitzim etc. to contend with, besides Chukos HaGoyim. (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 307:16 and Mogen Avrohom Siman 307:22) I don’t know your personal circumstances, or if the question you are asking is for yourself or for someone else, but I would advise speaking to a Rav for a final Psak Halacha L’Ma’aseh regarding this (and regarding watching secular movies in general, which are laden with halachic problems as well as a proven tool of destruction when it comes to raising our precious children etc.)