ARCHIVES: HILCHOS TZNIYUS FOR MALES / HILCHOS TESHUVA
HALACHOS PERTAINING TO THE PROPER BEHAVIOR,MODESTY AND HOLINESS OF THE JEWISH MALE AND HALACHOS OF REPENTANCE
BELOW ARE THE HALACHOS FROM THE DAILY EMAILS THAT WERE SENT OUT TO THE “HALACHA FOR TODAY” DAILY EMAIL LIST
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, JULY 10, 2011
There are two common misconceptions about Tzniyus
Misconception #1) Tzniyus is just about what type of clothes one wears and what parts of the body they must cover in public.
Misconception #2) Tzniyus is just for females to worry about.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, Tzniyus is important for females and yes, the kind of clothing one wears is subject to the laws of Tzniyus, but that is far – very far- from the whole picture.
Translating Tzniyus as “modesty” is a misleading, as the Halachos of Tzniyus encompass so much more than modesty; Tzniyus is a way of life; an attitude.
Tzniyus is in how we act, how we talk, how we interact with one another, how we behave in public, how we behave in private, how we think, how we dream, how we bathe, how we use the restroom, who we are friends with, who we look at, who we talk to, who we touch, what we touch, who our role models are, who we respect, who we look up to, how we raise our children, which music we listen to, which publications we bring into our homes and read, which websites we visit, etc.
And yes, Tzniyus applies just as much, if not more, to males (married as well as single) as it does to females.
Unfortunately, many aspects of Hilchos Tzniyus are either overlooked, unknown or otherwise not adhered to by many men, as these topics are not taught for whatever reason, and thus leads many men to transgress many vital Halachos – many that carry with them extremely stringent consequences – sometimes on a daily basis R”L.
After consultation with and blessings of prominent Rabbanim, we will now begin learning the Halachos of Tzniyus [mainly] as they pertain to Jewish men.
The great Gaon and founder of the Mussar movement, Rav Yisroel Salanter Zatzal, writes (in his Igeres HaMussar):
“…If one Chas V’shalom stumbled and sinned [in these areas of Tzniyus] to the point that the Yetzer Hara got so strong that the person doesn’t even deem it a sin anymore, the primary cure, [besides for introspection in the areas of fear of Hashem and learning the Mussar words of Chazal that pertain to these areas] is to learn in depth the Halachos that pertain to these areas, particularly to learn them with the intent to keep them.”
In the merit of learning these Halachos may Hashem give us all the strength and Siyata D’Shmaya to follow the guidelines of the Torah in this area as well as in all areas.
May we all merit the arrival of Mashiach Tzidkeinu B’Meheira B’Yameinu, a time when those who strive to keep their Neshamos pure in this world will merit true and eternal purity and closeness to Hashem.
1) The Torah (Vayikra 19:1) commands every Jew to be holy.
One who is careful with himself and guards himself in areas of Tzniyus is deemed a “holy person” (Rashi ibid. See also Talmud Yerushalmi Yevamos Perek 2 Halacha 4 and Korban HaEidah there that this refers even to someone who avoids permissible things in order to prevent himself from Chas V’shalom ending up doing sinful things)
One who makes the effort to avoid questionable situations will merit special heavenly assistance to succeed in becoming holy. (See Talmud Yoma 38b, Haba L’Taher Misayin Oso. See also Ha’amek Davar from the Netziv as well as the Ohr HaChaim to Vayikra 11:44 that this is a guarantee from Hashem!)
2) The primary area of importance regarding Tzniyus is specifically when a person is alone and not in public. (See Talmud Brachos 62a)
One who is careful with Tzniyus when he is alone and only Hashem sees what he is doing, is considered to have sanctified Hashem’s name (Kiddush Hashem) (See Rambam Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah Perek 5:10)
A Jew that gives his life, one time, “Al Kiddush Hashem” is on an extremely lofty level (See Rambam Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah Perek 5:7) ; a Jew that lives his life, day in day out, “Al Kiddush Hashem” is even holier.
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, JULY 11, 2011
1) While there are some areas of “Hilchos Tzniyus” which are only in the realm of “Hanhaga Tova, a proper way of acting”, there are many areas which are strict biblical prohibitions which carry severe heavenly consequences, as we shall B’Ezras Hashem discuss in the near future. (See Talmud Nidah 13a)
Additionally, lack of adherence to the Halachos of Tzniyus and Kedusha leads one’s heart and mind to be “stuffed up” (Timtum HaLev), a serious spiritual blockage which prevents a Jew from being able to make the appropriate decisions, do proper Teshuva and get closer to Hashem, and prevents one from learning Torah and praying properly. (See Talmud Yoma beginning of 39a and Rashi there)
2) The fact that “everyone does it” or other such mantras, or fear of being poked fun at or ridiculed for doing the right thing which often cause people to follow the Yetzer Hara rather than the Shulchan Aruch, is not an acceptable defense. (See Mesilas Yesharim end of Perek 5)
A Jew must make it his/her business to know what is right or wrong according to Halacha and then live their lives in accordance with those guidelines, regardless if others around him are not following the Halacha. (See Mishna Berura Siman 468:23.)
It is better to be called “foolish” by one’s peers for an entire lifetime rather than being “evil” in Hashem’s eyes for even a moment. (Mishna Maseches Idiyos Perek 5 Mishna 6)
The more pain and difficulty involved in adhering to the will of Hashem, and the more one needs to overcome being ridiculed by others (who are just agents of the Yetzer Hara) and other obstacles, the greater their reward in Olam Haba will be, especially if by doing so they inspire others to emulate them and overcome their own Yetzer Hara (See Mishna Pirkei Avos Perek 5: 23; “L’Fum Tza’arah Agra” and Talmud Maseches Tamid 28a)
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2011
1) Often, one who is struggling in the realm of Tzniyus will think to himself “I am far from these areas”, “I am so steeped in sin, there is no point in being careful in these areas anymore”, “I am beyond hope or repair” or such similar fallacies.
Every Jew must know that these aforementioned thoughts or excuses are the workings of the Yetzer Hara, and are not acceptable defenses for not adhering to the Halachos of Tzniyus.
In fact, the greater a person is in Torah and Mitzvos and closeness to Hashem, the more intensely the Yetzer Hara tries to affect him, especially in these vital areas of Kedusha and Tzniyus. (See Talmud Sukkah 52a and Kidushin 81a. See also Sefer Seder Hayom Perek Seder Hanhogas Halaila)
2) Thus, even someone who has in the past transgressed these Halachos and finds it difficult to now begin being careful in these areas all at once and make a total turnaround in his way of life, must begin turning around slowly and make significant changes in his behavior until he achieves total compliance with the Halachos. (See Mishlei 4:26 and Rambam Hilchos Dei’os Perek 2)
Even after starting to get on the right path it often happens that one will slip or fall into old behavior patterns; he must get up and start again no matter how many times it takes.
Shlomo Hamelech teaches us (Mishlei 24:16) “Sheva Yipol Tzadik, V’kam, a righteous person falls seven times and gets up”
Rav Yitzchok Hutner Zatzal, the late venerable Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, explains the Posuk above to mean, not that a person can become a Tzadik despite having sinned, rather a person becomes a Tzadik because he has sinned and gotten up again and again and again, 7, 70, 700 or even 7,000 times.(Pachad Yitzchok, letters #128)
Hashem does not expect us to be angels; after all He has created us as humans. However, He does expect every single Jew, no matter how far he has strayed from the path of the Shulchan Aruch, to keep getting up and striving for a life lived in accordance with the dictates of the holy Torah, as that is our job, as humans and as Jews, to constantly grow and perfect ourselves in all areas of our service of Hashem.
The more a person trains himself to do things in accordance with Halacha, the easier it will become over time. (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 1:4)
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2011
1) It is extremely important, even if certain areas in Hilchos Tzniyus seem difficult, not to blatantly resolve to not adhere to any particular Halacha.
A person who unequivocally resolves to perform a certain sin[and not even bother to try his best to avoid it] jeopardizes his ability to ever receive forgiveness for this sin from Hashem. (Chofetz Chaim end of Sefer Ahavas Chesed quoting the Midrash)
Moreover, one who accepts the entire Torah upon themselves with the exception of any one commandment, biblical or rabbinic; regardless what it may be, is considered a Rasha, an evil person and a Mumar, a heretic. (See Talmud Chulin 4b, Rabbeinu Yonah in Sha’arei Teshuva Shaa’r 1:6 and Sha’ar 3:143. See also Chayei Adam Klal 1:4)
2) One who mocks, belittles the importance of or otherwise does not take seriously the edicts of Chazal and only gives credence to biblical commandments, is considered a non-Jew. (See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 119:7 and Shach Os 16)
If a G-d fearing Jew, who is careful to adhere to all Halachos, biblical and rabbinic equally, finds himself being ridiculed by his “friends” for being a “Machmir, overly stringent” or a “Frummie” or other similar disrespect remarks, he should remember the following holy words of the Rama
“…One should always remember that Hashem is in front of him/her. This is an important tenet of the Torah…one’s actions, character, and nature is not the same if he is alone in his home, as they would be were he/she in the presence of an important king…one’s speech and mannerism is not the same if he/she is talking to friends, as they would be were he/she talking to a king…
How much more so must a person realize in his/her heart that Hashem, the great king, whose presence fills the entire world is standing near him/her and sees his/her every action……A person must not be embarrassed from any human beings that may ridicule him for serving Hashem…for even in the privacy of one’s home, and even while lying in one’s bed every Jew must remember in front of whom he is laying…” (The very first Rama in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim Siman 1:1)
Praiseworthy is the one who fears Hashem and overcomes his Yetzer Hara in his actions, speech, thoughts and attitude; such a person will merit Olam Haba as the Posuk (Tehilim 112:1) says “Ashrei Ish Yarei Hashem. (See Ben Ish Chai, year two, Parshas Vayechi)
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2011
1) The Torah (Bamidbar 15:39) commands us “V’Lo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem V’Acharei Eineichem, do not stray after your hearts and after your eyes”
Rashi (ibid. quoting the Midrash Tanchuma Bamidbar 15) explains that “The eyes and the heart are “spies” for the body that “seek out” sins; the eyes see, the heart lusts and the body carries out the sins”.
It is forbidden to do anything or act in a way that will in turn cause one to follow their eyes and heart and transgress a sin. (Sefer HaChinuch in his introduction quoted in Biur Halacha Siman 1 end of Dibur Hamaschil Hu Klal Gadol BaTorah)
Thus, it is forbidden for a male to purposely gaze at a female, and one who frequently and intentionally does so is deemed a Rasha. (See Talmud Bava Basra 57b. See also Mesilas Yesharim Perek 11 and Sefer Peleh Yoetz “Machshava”. According to the Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 23:12 he is also deemed an “adulterer” simply by virtue of the fact that he has sinned with his eyes! )
2) Furthermore, one who intentionally gazes at women is in violation of the negative commandment (Devarim 23:10) “V’Nishmarta Mikol Davar Ra, You must guard yourself from all evil”
The Talmud (Avodah Zarah 20b) derives from the aforementioned Posuk that one who isn’t careful with his eyes by day will ultimately end up following his heart and transgress a sin at night. (See Tosafos there Dibur Hamaschil Shelo Yeharher that this is not just an Asmachta, but an explicit Isur).
One who takes a certain path or chooses a certain checkout counter in a supermarket or similar actions in order to be able to gaze at a female who is on that path or behind that checkout counter, even if this person is full of Torah and good deeds like Moshe Rabbeinu, he will suffer the wrath of Gehinom [unless he does proper Teshuva] (Talmud Brachos 61a)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH , JULY 15, 2011
(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) It is forbidden for a male to gaze at a female who is not dressed modestly as doing so will bring him to forbidden thoughts. (See Mishna Berura Siman 75:1)
In the event that a male must speak with or otherwise be near a female who is not dressed properly , if he can do so without gazing at her it is permissible to do so even if there is a possibility that he may inadvertently see her.
2) However, if he knows that there is no way that he will be able to speak with her or be near her without intentionally gazing at her, it is prohibited for him to put himself in that situation, and he must found a different avenue to accomplish what he set out to do without going there. (See Shach Yoreh Deah Siman 142:34 and Chochmas Adam Klal 84:16)
Moreover, if a male is somewhere first and a non modest female arrives there afterwards, unless totally necessary for him to be there for a valid reason and he knows he wont gaze at her intentionally, he must leave that area. (See Shu”t Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 123)
The above is true even if by having to leave the area or not go in the first place, it will result in Tircha, hardship or monetary loss, as hardship or losing money is not an acceptable reason to transgress Issurim. (See Pnei Yehosua to Pesachim 25b Dibur Hamaschil Itmar)
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) If a male has no valid reason (e.g. Parnasa or medical) to go to a place where immodest women are found, it is prohibited for him to go there even if he is careful not to gaze at them.
Thus, a male is forbidden to go to an immodest beach, boardwalk or another vacation spot where he will surely be in the presence of many immodestly clad females, even if he thinks that he can be careful not to gaze.
One who disregards this Halacha and goes to such a place anyhow, is deemed a Rasha. (See Talmud Bava Basra 57b, D’Ika Darka Achrina Rasha Hu. See also Shu”t Igros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol. 1 Siman 56)
2) If one needs to go somewhere and he isn’t sure if there will be immodestly clad women there or not, or if he has a valid reason to go to a place where there are such females, but he isn’t certain that he will have to gaze at them, he may go. (Taz Orach Chaim Siman 316:3 where he rules that if it isn’t a Pesik Reisha or even a Safek Pesik Reisha is permitted. However, see Hagahos Rav Akiva Eiger to Yoreh Deah Siman 87:6 where he argues. See also Biur Halacha Siman 316:3 Dibur Hamaschil V’lachen Yesh Lizaher)
Of course, in any of the situations above where he is halachically permitted to go, if he finds himself having forbidden thoughts he must leave at once lest he transgress the prohibition of V’Nishmarta Mikol Davar Ra (Devarim 23:10) or worse transgressions Chas V’shalom. (Igros Moshe ibid)
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY , JULY 17, 2011
1) It is permitted to speak with a female that is dressed modestly and appropriately, and one may look at her while talking, provided he does not get any enjoyment from seeing her. (Mishna Berura Siman 75:7)
Even when looking is permitted, unnecessary gazing is of course prohibited; scrupulous people are extremely stringent and avoid looking at females, even when halachically permitted, and this is praiseworthy. (ibid.)
However, if he does get enjoyment from looking at her, or if looking at her causes him to have forbidden thoughts about her or about any forbidden matter, he may not look at her, and if he does look at her even for a moment he has transgressed the biblical prohibition of “Lo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem V’Acharei Eineichem” (Mishna Berura ibid.)
2) If the female is dressed modestly, yet is wearing Jewelry or clothing that will cause him enjoyment to see, he may not look at them. (See Mishna Berura Siman 75:18)
The prohibitions regarding gazing at females apply equally to married females and single females [above the age of 3 according to some Poskim, and above the age of 7 according to other Poskim.] (See Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 26 and Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 16:8)
The prohibition applies to Jewish females as well as non Jewish females.
Thus, it’s important to be careful when the cleaning help in a home is not dressed appropriately, to not Chas V’shalom gaze at them Chas V’shalom inappropriately. (Many people have the good custom to provide the cleaning help with a modest uniform to prevent them from being inappropriately dressed when in the Jewish home; a wonderful idea to help foster a sense of Kedusha in the home, especially a Jewish home with children in it.)
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY , JULY 18, 2011
1) It is permitted for a male to gaze at his mother, daughter, sister and grandmother, provided they are dressed modestly and appropriately.
The above is true even if he enjoys seeing them. (e.g. he hasn’t seen them in a long time and he is pleased that they look good) (See Mishna Berura Siman 225:1)
2) The above does not apply to other relatives, such as aunts, cousins sisters in law, mothers in law or daughters in law; the prohibitions apply to them just as much- if not more than- to other females. (As they are “Arayos” that are enumerated in the Torah. See Chochmas Adam Klal 125:1)
Being that it is more likely for males to be around female relatives more than other females (e.g. at family outings or simchos), it is extremely important to be careful not to gaze at them, especially if this will lead to impure thoughts and especially if they are dressed in an immodest or inappropriate way.
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY , JULY 19, 2011
1) The Talmud (Brachos 61b) teaches that a male should not walk behind a female, even if she is dressed modestly, and should quicker walk behind a lion! (Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 21:1)
The reason for this was that he will come to gaze at her and lead him to improper thoughts and Chas V’Shalom to improper actions.
There is a debate amongst contemporary Poskim if this applies today when it is much more prevalent for females to be in public, and only in the times of Chazal when it was rare to see a female in public would it perhaps lead to sin.
The Leket Yosher, disciple of the Terumas HaDeshen (Siman 376) rules that this prohibition is not in force today [in regard to females that are dressed appropriately].
Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal (Shu”t Minchas Shlomo Vol. 1 Siman 91:23) rules that nowadays when females are commonly in public, it is virtually impossible not to be walking behind one female or another and thus [if walking to do a Mitzvah or another necessary reason] it doesn’t apply today as stringently as it did in the times of Chazal.
However, even if walking behind her, a distance of at least four Amos (around 8 feet) must be maintained. (Be’er Heitev Even HaEzer Siman 21:2)
Other Poskim (Shu”t Mishne Halachos Vol.5 Siman 226 and 227 and Vol.12 Siman 305, the Sha’ar HaTziyun quoting the Radvaz Siman 770 as well as other Poskim) maintain that the halacha remains in full force today.
2) Obviously, all agree that if one knows themselves and their being behind a female will lead to impure thoughts or worse, the halacha applies to him 100% even today.
Most Poskim agree as well that if the female in question is dressed immodestly, it is best to follow the stringent opinions.
Also, all seem to agree that if one is on a bus, for example, and he has the choice to either sit directly behind a female or in a different seat, that he must choose the different seat. As even if we rule to be lenient today, that is only in cases of necessity and when it is impossible or impractical to be stringent.
Thus, when riding in a car, it is best to try and arrange the seating in such a way that no male is sitting directly behind a female, but if this is impossible, we have on whom to rely, as long as nobody knows themselves that they will Chas V’Shalom come to sinful thoughts or actions by not following this Halacha.
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY , JULY 20, 2011
1) The prohibition for a male to gaze at a female is in effect regardless if the female is gazed at in person, through a window or via a mirror.
Moreover, this prohibition exists even if not gazing at the actual female, but rather at a photo, video or other image of her, as anytime an impure thought can occur due to gazing at her likeness the prohibition has been transgressed.
2) Thus, care should be taken if perusing secular magazines and newspapers, as unfortunately they are filled with forbidden images (as well as other forbidden content many times) which if gazed at can be a transgression of biblical prohibitions.
The same applies, even more so, to viewing secular films produced by Hollywood et al , which are often filled with images of immodestly clad women and other images and content that the Torah abhors.
Each individual must consult with their own Rav to determine if and what kinds of secular media are permitted to be a part of their lives.
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY , JULY 21, 2011
1) A male who is in the presence of a female that is dressed immodestly (including her head uncovered if she is married) may not recite any Brachos, Tefilos or words Torah if he can see her. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 75:1)
This applies even if the female in question is one that he is otherwise permitted to see dressed as such (e.g. his wife) (ibid.)
There is a debate amongst the Poskim if the aforementioned Halacha applies only when gazing at her or if it even applies if he can simply see her. (See Be’er Heitev Siman 75:2. See also Bach Siman 75)
It is best to be stringent, and if one finds himself in such a situation (e.g. at a Shabbos table with as yet unobservant guests who aren’t dressed modestly and he needs to recite Kiddush or Birchas hamazon or say Divrei Torah) he should turn his head and close his eyes, or if he cannot turn away, at least close his eyes, while reciting the Brachos, Tefilos or Torah. (See Biur Halacha Siman 75:1 Dibur Hamaschil B’makom that L’Chatchila closing the eyes alone is not adequate)
2) One who does recite Brachos, Tefilos or speaks words of Torah when he sees such an immodestly clad female is considered to have transgressed a sin and causes a spiritual darkness in the upper worlds. (See Sefer Geder Olam from the Chofetz Chaim Perek 6)
Moreover, no holiness whatsoever is ascribed to the words he has uttered, as they were uttered against the will of Hashem. (Geder Olam ibid. If he simply saw her, the Bracha isn’t repeated, but if he was gazing at her, it needs to be repeated. See Mishna Berura Siman 75:4)
One who regularly recites Brachos, Tefilos and Torah while able to see immodestly clad females, brings poverty and other bad things upon himself. (Chofetz Chaim based on Talmud Nedarim 7b)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH , JULY 22, 2011
(Double portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) One who is in the presence of and sees a female that is dressed modestly and appropriately may recite Brachos, Tefilos and Divrei Torah while looking at her, as seeing a modestly dressed female generally does not cause a male to have impure thoughts. (See Mishna Berura Siman 75:2)
Obviously, if by looking at any particular female it brings him to have impure thoughts, even if she is modestly dressed he must stop reciting the Brachos, Tefilos or Torah and stop looking at her immediately.
2) Any parts of a female body that is ordinarily covered when they are out in public, even if this particular part is not covered by some females when they are in their own homes (e.g. feet, or hair of a married female) may not be seen while reciting Brachos, Tefilos or Divrei Torah. (See Mishna Berura Siman 75:10 and Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil Michutz)
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) One who is in the presence of a female whose body (or part thereof) is covered with a material that is see-through, may not recite Brachos, Tefilos or Torah when seeing her. (Mishna Berura Siman 75:25)
Closing his eyes, in this case where she is “covered” just not adequately, is acceptable to allow him to proceed with the Brachos, Tefilos or Torah, and he doesn’t need to also turn his head away from her. (Mishna Berura ibid.)
2) If the clothing a female is wearing is not see-through, but is very tight or form fitting to the point that one can see the shape of her body, although this of course deems her as immodestly dressed , so long as her actual body is not seen it is permitted to recite Brachos, Tefilos and Torah in her presence.
However, if seeing the aforementioned immodestly dressed female leads him to have improper thoughts, he may indeed not recite Brachos, Tefilos or Torah in her presence even though her body is technically covered. (See Chayei Adam Klal 4:3)
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2011
1) In all situations where one sees an immodestly dressed women and thus prohibited to recite Brachos, Tefilos and Divrei Torah, it is only the case for verbally saying these holy utterances.)
However, it is permissible to think in ones mind or read (with the eyes without uttering anything with the lips) Brachos, tefilos or Torah even while in the presence of and seeing an immodest women.
The reason for this is that the Posuk (Devarim 23:15) says “V’Lo Yir’eh Becha Ervas Davar, and you shall not see anything revealed”. The word “Davar” also means “word” and Chazal learn from this that only words are prohibited while seeing something revealed [that should be covered]. (Mishna Berura Siman 75:29)
2) Moreover, it is actually encouraged, when in a situation where one is seeing immodesty [and cannot remove himself from the situation and/or close his eyes], to think words of Torah which will serve to counteract any negative or impure thoughts entering his mind due to seeing immodesty.
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, JULY 25, 2011
1) The Torah states (Vayikra 18:6) “Lo Tikrevu L’Galos Ervah, do not get close to reveal which is [not supposed to be] revealed.)
Chazal derive from this Posuk that it is forbidden for a male to touch a female (other than his wife) with his hand or any other part of his body [for purposes of deriving pleasure, love or to feel close to her].
If the touching is for medical purposes or for other necessary reasons and no pleasure is involved and it doesn’t bring feelings of closeness, it is permitted. (except for one’s wife when she is a niddah, see Shach Yoreh Deah Siman 195:19)
One who transgresses this sin is also included amongst those that transgress the additional sin of “Lo Ta’asu K’chol
HaTo’eivos, do not do any of these abominations” (Vayikra 18:26) and causes Himself to become distanced from Hashem, and Hashem removes his divine providence from him. (Sefer Hachinuch Mitzvah 188)
2) Besides for it being a sin in it of itself, touching often leads to additional severe sins Chas V’shalom.
The prohibition against Negiah, touching [for purposes of pleasure, love or closeness], is not a stringency, rabbinical edict or something only for pious people to be careful with, it is a severe biblical sin applicable to each and every Jew. (According to the Rambam in Sefer HaMitzvos Lo Ta’aseh 353 and Hilchos Isurei Biah Perek 21 and the Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 21 Negiah shel Chibah is grounds for receiving biblical Malkos (flogging). According to the Ramban (Sefer Hamitzvos ibid.) and other Rishonim, although it isn’t grounds for biblical Malkos, it is still a biblical transgression and grounds for Makos Mardus)
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2011
1) Although when it comes to Pikuach Nefesh, a danger or threat to a Jew’s life, the Torah mandates that we transgress the laws of the Torah in order to save the life, there are exceptions to this rule.
When it comes to the three cardinal sins, Avodah Zarah (serving foreign gods), Gilui Arayos (acts of sexual immorality) and Shefichas Damim (murdering another human), we are required to choose death [Al Kidush Hashem] rather than transgress.
This mandate is referred to in Halacha as “Yaharog V’Al Ya’avor, [allow yourself to] be killed rather than transgress”
Being that Gilui Arayos is one of the three and being that improper touching is an extension of Gilui Arayos, Chazal thus teach us that one should rather be killed than allow himself to transgress a sin of sexual immorality, even if only the prohibition of Negiah, touching [a prohibited] female [Derech Chibah, for the purposes of pleasure, love or to get close to her] (Not only is the above Halacha according to the ruling of the Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvos Lav 353) who considers improper touching as the actual prohibition (Lo Ta’aseh) of Gilui Arayos, but even according to the ruling of the Ramban (Hasagos on Sefer Hamitzvos ibid.) who considers improper touching as Abizrahu D’Gilui Arayos, i.e. an extension of the Lo Ta’aseh but not the Lo Ta’aseh itself, he still considers it D’Oraysa enough to mandate Yaharog V’Al Ya’avor. The Ramban writes this explicitly in his Sefer Toras haAdam, Sha’ar Hamichush Dibur Hamaschil U’Linyan Avoda Zarah V’Gilui Arayos. See also Shach Yoreh Deah 157:10 and Birchei Yosef from the Chida to Shulchan Aruch ibid. See also Kreina D’Igrasa from the Steipler Zatzal page 163)
2) No Jew has a license to Chas V’shalom be lenient in these matters, and a competent Rav must be consulted for Halacha L’Ma’aseh before any form of touching between the genders is deemed necessary and permissible. (See Pischei Teshuva Even HaEzer Siman 21:3)
We shall, B’Ezras Hashem, discuss this Halacha and some common examples of it that many are often faced with and how to deal with them, tomorrow.
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 2011
1) A male may not extend his hand to shake the hand of a female, even though this is commonly done in the non-Jewish world as a courteous way of greeting and not for purposes of love, pleasure or closeness.
If the female sticks out her hand first, it is incumbent on the male to do everything in his power, in a tactful way, to avoid shaking her hand in return. (See Igros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol. 1 end of Siman 56 where Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal bemoans the fact that many people are misguidedly not stringent with this. See Midrash Rabbah Parshas Bo Parsha 16:2 that a male should never touch a female that isn’t his for any reason, and one who does so brings death upon himself R”L. )
2) Just as it’s prohibited to touch a female directly on her skin, so too it’s prohibited to touch her through her clothing.
Thus, shaking her gloved hand, placing your arm around her clothed shoulder or similar is prohibited. (See Sefer Chasidim Siman 1090)
Moreover, standing very close to a female on a crowded bus or in a crowd to the point that he senses her touching him or distinctly feels himself touching her is prohibited. (See Shu”t Chelkas Yaakov Vol. 2 Siman 14)
If there is no other option available and one finds himself on a crowded bus or in another similar situation, if it isn’t inevitable that he will feel her touching him or vice versa, he can remain there. (See Igros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol. 2 Siman 14)
However, if a person knows himself and his nature, and he knows that being in such a situation will lead him to have impure thoughts, he must avoid going on such a bus unless absolutely necessary. (ibid.)
If a person knows that being in the aforementioned situation will inevitably lead him beyond impure thoughts (physical arousal etc.) he is prohibited from riding that bus, even if that’s the only way he has to get to work or to another necessary destination. (ibid. Rav Moshe Zatzal adds that if someone’s nature is Chas V’shalom like this it is due to emptiness, and he is required to work on himself, to add more Torah study to his day to change his nature.)
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, JULY 28, 2011
1) A female that fell or otherwise needs assistance getting up or needs medical assistance may be helped to her feet or given other medical assistance by a male [as this is not being done for purposes of closeness, love or pleasure].
Obviously, even when assisting her, the physical contact should be kept to the bare minimum deemed necessary and he should be careful not have impure thoughts while touching her. (See Shach Yoreh Deah Siman 195:20)
Likewise, a male patient may be cared for by a female doctor or nurse, provided that it doesn’t lead him to have any impure thoughts.
Of course, even when being treated by a female medical provider, he must be careful to not gaze unnecessarily at her.
2) One who is “stringent” and doesn’t assist a female in need of medical assistance or in need of getting up after a fall etc. due to not wanting to touch her is deemed by the Talmud (Sotah 21b) as a Chasid Shota, a pious fool, as his stringency is unwarranted.
Even if he knows himself that if he helps her it may lead to impure thoughts, he must assist her if there is nobody else there to assist her. (Shach ibid.)
In the event that the female’s life is in danger, even if he knows for certain that by helping her he will have impure thoughts or even derive pleasure from the contact, he must save her life. (See Igros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol. 1 Siman 56 and Shu”t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 8 Siman 75)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, JULY 29, 2011
(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) The prohibition against “Negiah” applies as well, if not more so, to most of one’s “relatives”.
Touching, kissing and hugging relatives may even be worse than with unrelated females, as many relatives are called “Arayos” by the Torah (Vayikra 18). (See Chochmas Adam Klal 125 and Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 2 Siman 137 Dibur Hamaschil B’Neshika)
2) The only permissible relatives for a person to hug and kiss are a mother/father, son/daughter, grandson/granddaughter according to some Poskim and a sister below the age of 3 (or 7 according to the Chazon Ish). (See Aruch Hashulchan Even HaEzer Siman 21:10)
All other relatives (Uncles/Aunts, Sisters in law/brothers in law, cousins etc.) may not be touched, kissed or hugged, and all the Halachos of other females apply to them.
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) One must do whatever it takes to make sure they don’t hug or kiss or touch any of these “relatives” who they are prohibited to touch, and no “Kavod Habriyos” or “Minhag” or “They will be upset at me” answers or excuses are halachically acceptable. (See Mishna Berura Siman 468:23 and Biur Halacha Siman 690:17)
This can often cause friction between “relatives” where one is religious and the other is not yet religious and of course tact should be used to avoid any familial fights.
The best thing is to be honest with them and say that the Torah does not allow you to have physical contact with them, and you appreciate them respecting your decisions, but regardless if they accept it or not, you are forbidden to transgress due to their “feelings”. (See Mishna Berura ibid.)
2) If a not yet religious female “relative” tries to hug or kiss you or otherwise have physical contact, you must move away and reject these gestures, as even if the male just stands there and allows himself to be hugged or kissed he has transgressed the prohibition.
Furthermore, by not moving away and allowing the hug or kiss to touch him he has also transgressed the prohibition of “Lifnei Iver Lo Siten Michshol”, the biblical prohibition against causing another Jew to sin. (See Kraina D’Igrasa from the Steipler Zatzal letter 163)
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011
1) Besides for the biblical prohibitions against a male having physical contact (as well as Yichud, being alone) with [forbidden] females, Chazal cautioned against any form of “closeness” between [forbidden] males and females.
The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer Siman 21:1) states “One must distance himself “very very” far (“Me’od Me’od”) from [forbidden] females. (See Bais Shmuel on Shulchan Aruch ibid. that since the male heart is prone to lust, and sins of Arayos are extremely difficult to stop once they start, Chazal were very stringent in order to ensure that a person doesn’t fall into these sins in the first place)
2) Due to the commandment of Kedoshim Ti’hyu(Vayikra 19:2), the requirement for every Jew to strive for holiness, it is incumbent on every Jew to distance himself as much as possible from situations and conditions that can Chas V’shalom lead to sin. This includes making fences for himself and staying away from certain things that may be permissible in order to ensure that they don’t progress to the realm of the non-permissible. (See Aruch Hashulchan Siman 21:1)
In order to ensure proper separation of the genders, Chazal have mandated certain Halachos, which we will B’Ezras Hashem begin discussing tomorrow.
These Halachos are not stringencies or only for pious people, rather they are mandatory Halachos for each and every Jewish male to abide by. (Chida in Shiyurei Bracha to Even HaEzer Siman 21:1. See also Mesilas Yesharim Perek 11 Dibur Hamaschil U’Nedaber Ata min Ha’Arayos)
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 1 , 2011
1) The Mishna (Pirkei Avos Perek 1:5) teaches “V’Al Tarbeh Sicha Im Ha’Isha, do not converse too much with a female”
It is prohibited for a male to have unnecessary conversation and idle or lightheaded chatter with a female other than his wife, mother, daughter, grandmother or sister. (See Talmud Nedarim 20a and Sefer Chareidim Perek 47:19. See also Avos D’Rav Nosson Perek 2:2 where it seems to indicate that this is a biblical prohibition)
The reason for this is that unnecessary conversation with females ultimately leads to impure thoughts and eventually to severe sins. (Talmud Nedarim ibid. See also Midrash Rabbaj Bereishis 23:6 and Yam Shel Shlomo Kidushin 4:25)
Surely, it is forbidden for a male to gesture with his eyes, tell jokes, and join in laughter or otherwise share levity with a [forbidden] female. (Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 21)
2) The above applies equally to females that one is familiar with such as neighbors, male friends’ wives, employees, salespeople etc., as well as to females that one is not familiar with.
That which is necessary to speak with them is permitted; anything extra – even a few words- is prohibited. (See Talmud Eruvin 53b)
Even if ones neighbors, co-workers , friends or others will ridicule him for minimizing his speech with females, he should pay them no credence and not be intimidated into behavior that is against the dictates of the Torah, as by standing tall and acting as a Torah-true Jew he will ultimately reap unimaginable reward in Olam Haba. (See Rama Orach Chaim Siman1:1)
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 2 , 2011
1) One who disregards the severity of not having lightheaded conversation and idle chatter with [forbidden] females and is lax in this area, besides for transgressing the actual sin is also causing him to eventually fall further and transgress even more severe sins Chas V’Shalom. (Talmud Nedarim 20)
The Chasam Sofer (Teshuvos Even HaEzer end of Siman 85) writes that it is worthwhile for Bais Din (Jewish court of law) to flog those who engage in excessive talking, joking and lightheadedness with [forbidden] females, as this behavior is disgusting. (Although the Batei Din nowadays do not do this, the severity of this sin can be seen from the words of the holy Chasam Sofer)
2) This does not only apply to males.
A female who regularly acts lightheaded, jokes and otherwise engages in idle chatter with [forbidden] males is considered “Overes Al Das Yehudis, one who transgresses the laws of Judaism” (See Taz Even HaEzer Siman 115:7 quoting the Rashba. See also Bach ibid. who is even more stringent.)
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2011
1) Chazal forbade asking a [forbidden] female [in a friendly way] how she is doing or how she is feeling as doing so will lead to her answering him and then continue into an unnecessary conversation and ultimately to a friendship between the two. (See Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 21:6)
It is likewise prohibited to send a gift to a [forbidden] female as this is akin to inquiring as to her well-being and will lead to developing a friendship. (See Mishna Berura Siman 696:20)
Giving a female money or food for her basic necessities, however, is permitted, as this isn’t being done in a friendly manner rather as a fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Tzedakah. (See Mishna Berura Siman 695:27)
It is permissible to ask a female how her husband or son is doing or feeling, provided this will not lead to continued unnecessary conversation, as this inquiry is not a friendly one but a courteous one. (See Aruch Hashulchan Even HaEzer Siman 21:8)
2) Nowadays, it is permissible to bid a female “good morning” , “hello” or “Mazel Tov!” as well as other similar greetings, as these are common courteous greetings even between two males and do not necessarily have any connotations of friendliness or closeness. (See Rama Even HaEzer Siman 21:5, Kraina D’Igrasa from the Steipler Zatzal letter 164 and Aruch HaShulchan ibid. See also Shu”t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 5 Siman 195. See Shu”t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 8 Siman126 where he rules a bit more stringently)
The above holds true even if the female responds in kind with “good morning to you too “or “Thank you, Simchos by you as well” or similar as the prohibition only is in place for “chatter” that may lead to friendliness or closeness. (See Sefer Ezer M’Kodesh Even HaEzer Siman 21)
Of course, if one is intellectually honest with himself and knows that greeting any female will lead to impure thoughts, friendships or actions, he must avoid saying them at all costs.
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 2011
1) It is forbidden for a male to hear a female sing as a female’s [singing] voice is considered Ervah.
If just hearing her voice talking leads him to impure thoughts it is considered Ervah then as well. (See Mishna Berura Siman 75:18)
This applies to single as well as married females and to Jewish as well as non-Jewish females. (ibid.)
2) The reason for this is that hearing her sing will cause him to think about her and lead to impure thoughts. (See Talmud Sotah 48a and Rashi there Dibur Hamaschil K’Aish regarding the power of the Yetzer Hara and how we must treat him like a raging fire to be avoided at all costs.)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, AUGUST 5, 2011
(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) A female that is singing in a place where males can hear her must stop. (See Mishna Berura Siman 560:13. See also Sha’ar HaTziyun Os 25 quoting the Shla Hakadosh that singing songs with impure lyrics or sources to a child will cause the child to develop bad characteristics)
This prohibition against listening to a female sing applies equally where he sees her as she sings as well as where he doesn’t see her and only hears her voice. (See Shu”t Pri HaSadeh Vol. 3 Siman 32)
2) It is likewise prohibited to listen to the recorded voice of a female singing if he knows what she looks like [even if the female has already passed away from this world and even if he only knows what she looks like from a picture and has never seen her in person], as the voice will lead him to think of her and thus lead to impure thoughts. (ibid. See also Shu”t HaBach Siman 17 and Shu”t Yabia Omer Vol. 1 Siman 6)
If he does not know what she looks like, although not prohibited M’Ikar Hadin according to some contemporary Poskim, it is still proper to avoid listening to any recorded voice of a female singing as doing so will activate the Yetzer Hara and lead to impure thoughts, especially in the immoral society that we unfortunately find ourselves in currently. (See Shu”t Minchas Elazar Vol. 3 Siman 25 and Shu”t Bais Shearim Orach Chaim Siman 33 and Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 5 Siman 2. Some Poskim rule that this is even prohibited M’Ikar Hadin. See Shu”t Shevet Halevi Even HaEzer Vol. 3 Siman 181 and Shu”t Az Nidberu Vol. 9 Siman 9)
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) If the female singing is a girl below the age of puberty, it is permitted to listen to her, according to many Poskim.
Some Poskim, however, are stringent and prohibit listening to a female sing from a younger age (6, 9, or 11 depending on different rulings; a Rav should be consulted for Halacha L’Ma’aseh). (See Mishna Berura Siman 75:7 and 17 and Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 26. See also Be’er Heitev Even HaEzer Siman 21:4)
2) However, if he derives pleasure from hearing the young girl sing, even if she is below the age where it usually permitted, it would be prohibited for him according to all Poskim, as being that he enjoys hearing her it can lead him to have impure thoughts. (See Igros Moshe ibid.)
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 7, 2011
1) A male that hears a female singing, even if it’s a little girl [above age 6 and below age 9, 11 or 12 depending on which opinion one follows for maximum age] or even his own wife, may not recite Brachos. Tefilos or Divrei Torah while hearing her, as her voice is considered Ervah. (Rama Siman 75:3. See also Mishna Berura Siman 75:17 and Ben Ish Chai Parashas Bo)
If the female singing is his mother or daughter under the age of 11, according to many Poskim it isn’t considered Ervah and he may recite Brachos, Tefilos or Divrei Torah while hearing her. Other Poskim are stringent. (See Shulchan Shlomo Siman 75)
Some Poskim allow Brachos, Tefilos and Divrei Torah to be recited while hearing a sister sing, while others are stringent. (See Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 16:8)
2) If one hears females singing and cannot remove himself from the area or otherwise prevent himself from hearing them, he may recite Brachos, Tefilos and Divrei Torah. Of course he should try his utmost to tune their voices out. (See Mishna Berura Siman 75:17. The Ben Ish Chai Parashas Bo Siman 13 says that in such a case he should only “think” the Devarim SheBiKedusah, and not verbalize them.)
Although there is no prohibition to recite Brachos, Tefilos and Divrei Torah when one hears a female talking, if she is telling a story or otherwise speaking lengthy words that he is interested in hearing, he should not recite Brachos, Tefilos or Torah while listening to her. (Ben Ish Chai ibid.)
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 8, 2011
1) There are certain Heterim, leniencies, when a male and a female [whose voice he is allowed to hear] sing zemiros (which include pesukim and names of Hashem, and thus are considered Davar SheBiKedusha) together at the Shabbos table, as we say that since he is singing too he hears his own voice and doesn’t hear (i.e. focus on) her voice, a concept in Halacha known as “Shtei Koli Lo Nishmaim- two voices cannot be heard at once”
Many Poskim blatantly reject this Heter, while others only rely on it for Zemiros Shabbos with family and not for other singing. (See Halichos Shlomo Perek 20:11 and footnote 20)
Each person should consult with and follow the ruling of their own Rav.
2) Even the Poskim that accept it, agree that it is only acceptable when the female he is singing with is someone whose singing voice he is permitted to otherwise hear.
Furthermore, all Poskim agree that this concept of “two voices aren’t heard” is only when one of those voices is his own, but if he is listening to two females (who are not his wife, daughter etc.) singing it is 100% prohibited. (See Mishna Berura Siman 560:13)
[ Halachos for Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Due to Tisha B'Av, for Tuesday we emailed out some relevant Hilchos Tisha B'Av.]
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2011
1) It is prohibited for a male to [intentionally] smell the perfume that is on a [forbidden] female. (Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 21:1. See also Mishna Berura Siman 217:17)
According to some Rishonim this is a biblical prohibition. (See Rambam Pirush Hamishnayos Sanhedrin Perek 7 on Mishna on 54a and Sefer Chareidim Perek 28 quoting the Tashbatz. They say that the prohibition of “Lo Tin’af” is also read “Lo Tehene L’Af, do not have pleasure with your nose”. See also Sefer Chareidim perek 15 that there is an additional prohibition of “Lo Tikrevu L’Galos Ervah” as anything that causes one to get closer to transgressing Arayos is biblically prohibited.)
2) Perfume on a girl below the age of twelve, according to some Poskim it may be smelled while others are stringent and disallow this as well. (See Mogen Avrohom Siman 217:10 and Mishna Berura S”K 16)
Some Poskim even prohibit a man from smelling his wife’s perfume on her when she is a Nidah. (Mishna Berura ibid.)
If a female regularly wears a vial of perfume around her neck, it is prohibited to smell that vial even when it is not on her and is sitting on the table. (See Mishna Berura Siman 217:17. See also See Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion Perek 14:39 and Pischei Teshuva Yoreh Deah Siman 195:1 regarding smelling a random bottle of the kind of perfume that you know is worn by a certain female.)
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 2011
1) It is incumbent upon a Jewish male to not be in a situation of “Ta’aruvos” (literally, a mixture), in a [public] gathering where males and females are mixed together.
2) This applies to all gatherings indoors and outdoors, including, but not limited to, in Shul or a house of an Avel R”L or other places where davening takes place as well as at a Chupah or other parts of a wedding or any party or R”L at a Levaya or Hesped. (See Talmud Sukkah 51b-52a, Shulchan Aruch Siman 529:4, Mishna Berura S”K 22 and Biur Halacha Siman 339 Dibur Hamaschil L’Hakel. See also Shu”t Chasam Sofer Choshen Mishpat (hashmatos) Siman 190 and Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 5 Siman 12. An actual mechitzah may only be necessary for indoor gatherings, where it is possibly an Issur D’Oraysa to not have one, while outdoor gatherings may only require a separation and not an actual mechitzah. See Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 39 at length.)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, AUGUST 12, 2011
(Double Portion L’kavod Shabbos Kodesh)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) Regarding situations of Ta’aruvos, there is no difference if the females are married or single; males may not be in a “mixed gathering” with them. (See Biur Halacha ibid. see also Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 2 Siman 104 and Yoreh Deah Vol. 3 Siman 78 that even male and female children should not go to school together or otherwise engage in mixed activities. See also Sefer Chasidim Siman 168)
2) If one finds himself in such a gathering, he is obligated to get up and leave in order to not be a part of the Chilul Hashem (as the larger the mixed gathering, the larger the Chilul Hashem) and also to “make a point of protest” [especially if the people in the gathering are aware of the prohibition of mixed gatherings, yet for whatever reason decide to be lax, as is unfortunately the case sometimes], as well as to satisfy his own halachic obligations not to be in a situation where it may lead him to impure thoughts or actions. (See Rama Siman 608:2 and Mishna Berura there. If he can fix the situation and put up a mechitzah or at least separate the males and females, of course that would be better than simply protesting. (See Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 44)
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) The prohibition against being part of a “mixed gathering” is even if the females in the “group” are dressed modestly, and is surely the case if they are dressed immodestly or even if they are dressed modestly but acting immodestly, as staying in such a situation is a severe sin. (See Shu”t Tashbatz Katan Siman 396 and Shu”t Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 1 Siman 156. See also Kol Bo Siman 66, Shiyurei Bracha from the Chida Even HaEzer Siman 21 and Kraina D’Igrasa from the Steipler Zatzal letter 185)
At a public gathering that includes a sit down meal, such as at a Bris, Sheva Brachos, banquet or any similar event, males and females should not eat in the same room without a separation, even if they are eating on separate tables, as if they are too close and can see one another it will lead to impure thoughts. It goes without saying that males and females should not sit on the same tables at these public events.
2) According to some Poskim, at a Sheva Brachos where males and females are not separated by a mechitzah [and they can see one another], the Bracha of “Shehasimcha B’Meono, that our joy reaches the abode of Hashem” is not recited, as it isn’t a Simcha in the eyes of Hashem when the situation is such that it can lead to thoughts of sin. (This is especially prevalent at a Simcha where females tend to “dress up” and are thus very attractive looking to males. See Be’er Heitev Siman 622:2 quoting Tosafos in Megilah 31a Dibur Hamaschil B’Mincha. See Bais Shmuel Even HaEzer Siman 62:11 and Mishna Berura Siman 415:2)
Nowadays, some Poskim are lenient regarding the recitation of this Bracha and allow it even without a [proper] Mechitzah as long as the tables of males and females are adequately separated. (See Pischei Teshuva Even HaEzer Siman 62:18 quoting the Levush. See Shu”t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 8 Siman 281 that L’chatchilah at least some sort of physical separation (such as a low mechitzah) should be made as a “mental reminder” to stay on the proper side.)
As with everything, a Rav needs to be consulted for Halacha L’ma’aseh.
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2011
1) When a male and a female get engaged for marriage it is a tremendous Simcha both for them and their family and friends as well as for the Ribono Shel Olam who rests His Shechinah on all married couples who live harmoniously. (See Talmud Sotah 17a)
During the period of the engagement it is extremely important to be careful not to Chas V’Shalom transgress any of the sins that we discussed in the Halachos of Tzniyus, as a male and his Kallah have no leniencies and all the Halachos that apply between males and females apply to them as well until after they are halachically married. (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 152:13. See also Mogen Avrohom Siman 339:5 where he writes that it is important to not have long engagements as they Chas V’Shalom lead to sinful thoughts and actions)
2) Thus, the engaged pair may not touch one another (e.g. while handing things to one another or when posing together for pictures etc.) and surely not kiss or hug one another; the biblical prohibition of “Lo Tikrevu l’Galos Ervah” applies to them 100% and the obligation of “Yeihareg V’Al Ya’avor, let yourself be killed rather than transgress” is in full effect. (See Rama Yoreh Deah Siman 157:1. See also Shla Hakadosh Sha’ar HaOsiyos; Kedusha and Ya’aros Devash page 26)
Furthermore, the Halachos of Yichud , improper seclusion of the genders, apply to an engaged couple and they must be extremely careful to not Chas V’Shalom be in a situation where they may transgress Yichud.
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2011
1) A male’s mother in law is considered an “Ervah” to him and there are no leniencies toward her regarding touching, kissing or hugging her, and in fact this may be more stringent in regards to her than other females. (See Talmud Kidushin 12b and Bava Basra 98b)
This is true both during the engagement period as well as after the marriage.
2) Although many people call their mothers in law by the title “Mother” , “Mommy” or similar, and indeed there is an obligation to respect a mother in law as one’s mother, still the prohibitions against touching, hugging or kissing or being alone with her are in full force, as halachically she isn’t like one’s own mother.
The same applies to one’s sisters in law; they are considered “Ervah” and care must be taken to avoid physically touching them in any way. (See Nidchei Yisroel from the Chofetz Chaim Perk 24 at length regarding “relatives”)
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2011
1) When getting dressed or undressed it should be done modestly in a way that the body isn’t exposed, even if there is nobody else in the room, as a Jew (both male and female alike) must always be modestly dressed.
One should not say “but I am alone in the privacy of my room, who will see me?!”, because Hashem is everywhere, and sees everything. (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 2:1, 2 and 6)
There are varying opinions about what is considered “exposed”.
The most stringent opinion (that of the Malbim in Artzos Hachaim Siman 2:1 and others) requires any part that is considered a “covered place” (i.e. one must wash his hands if that area was touched) to be covered [under a blanket or a robe] when dressing/undressing. (This includes feet, arms, shoulders etc.).
Other Poskim (Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal in Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Viol. 3 Siman 47:3) are more lenient, and only require one to cover the parts that he would be uncomfortable to have exposed in the presence of a stranger (thus feet, arms, shoulders, ankles would be exempt from being covered).
2) If it is too difficult to get dressed/undressed without exposing areas that must not be exposed, one should get dressed/undressed in a bathroom [that also has a bath/shower in it] and thus not have to worry about what areas become exposed. (Ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal in Igros Moshe ibid.)
Rav Moshe Zatzal’s reasoning is that such a room has the status of a bathhouse, and as such is a place where it is acceptable to walk around undressed. (Igros Moshe ibid.)
Even when relying on this, it is best not to be naked in the bathroom for more than the actual time necessary to get dressed/undressed.
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2011
1) Even when in a place where it is permitted to be totally [or almost totally] undressed, such as in a bathhouse, Mikvah, or while showering or swimming, it is still incumbent on every Jew to be mindful of the Halachos of Tzniyus and to remember that no matter where he is he is in the presence of Hashem. (See Mishna Berura Siman 2:1)
Thus, it is important to be careful not to undress until the closest place possible before entering the bath, shower, Mikvah or pool, to minimize the time spent in a state of non Tzniyus. (ibid.)
The same applies when exiting the bath, shower, Mikvah or pool; it is important to get dressed as soon as possible after exiting and not pointlessly stand around naked for extra amount of time.
2) It is extremely important while bathing, showering or any time one is in a state of nakedness to be mindful to Chas V’shalom not have improper thoughts due to seeing oneself or others. (We will discuss this more at length in the near future)
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2011
1) It is prohibited to be in a bathhouse, Mikvah or anywhere else where one is totally undressed, together with one’s father, stepfather, brother or sister’s husband is also there undressed, as there is a concern that seeing them in this state will lead to bad thoughts. (See Rama Even HaEzer Siman 23:6)
Likewise, one should not be there together with his Rebbi (Torah teacher) unless the Rebbi requires his assistance to bathe. (Chelkas Mechokek Even HaEzer Siman 23:5)
If one was there already and one of the aforementioned relatives enters the bathhouse or Mikvah, he must hurry up and leave as quickly as he can; however if he was there first and his Rebbi enters he may remain there. (See Bais Shmuel Even HaEzer 23:5)
The above is only when they are totally undressed, but if bathing trunks are worn or the private areas are otherwise covered it is permissible to go swimming or be in a bathhouse together with these relatives. (See Rama ibid. and Yoreh Deah Siman 242:16)
2) The Poskim try and find a “Limud Zechus” for the practice of some Jews to indeed go to the Mikvah together with their sons.
The Aruch HaShulchan (Even HaEzer Siman 23:8) wonders about the custom which is against Halacha and tries to say that perhaps the prohibition is only being in the actual bath/Mikvah at the same time, but not being in the same room. However, he himself says that based on the Rishonim, this cannot be a good heter. (Also Rashi to Pesachim 51a explains the reason as the son may see his father and it will bring him to unclean thoughts, and that applies to them being in the same room naked, regardless if they actually enter the same bath).
The Sefer Minhag Yisroel Torah also wonders as to what people rely on and how they disregard the Halacha. He does quote the Shu”t Kinyan Torah Vol. 2 Siman 34 who rules that it is acceptable in a public Mikvah, as the son won’t focus on his father when amongst a crowd.
He also writes there that it doesn’t apply to a young child who doesn’t yet have unclean thoughts.
At what age this begins can vary from child to child and also even if relying on this heter, it has to be a crowded Mikvah, and not just a Mikvah where there are one or two other people there besides the father and son.
For Halacha L’ma’aseh, as with everything, a Rav must be consulted.
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, AUGUST 19, 2011(DOUBLE PORTION L’KAVOD SHABBOS KODESH)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) One who is in the Mikvah, bath, shower, bathroom or any other similar situation and finds himself having impure thoughts, is obligated to immediately banish these thoughts from his mind. (As this may be a biblical prohibition as we shall discuss more at length in the near future)
Ideally, he should “switch gears” and instead think of mundane matters such as his household expenses or other business matters, or on Shabbos he should think of nice buildings or pictures etc. (See Mishna Berura Siman 85:6)
2) In the event that one cannot remove the impure thoughts from his mind via mundane thoughts it is even permitted to think Torah thoughts (which are ordinarily prohibited in such a place, and when undressed) as the Torah saves from impurities. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 85:4 and Mishna Berura Siman 85:13)
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) When in the Mikvah, bath or shower it is important to be careful to not [intentionally] gaze at any “private” parts of one’s own body as well as those of other people. (See Sefer Chareidim Siman 45:4 that doing so is a Lo Ta’aseh M’divrei Kabbalah. (See also Kneses HaGedolah Even HaEzer Siman 23)
Gazing at these parts, besides for the spiritual damage involved, can cause physical damage to one’s body and hamper a person’s ability to father children. (See Talmud Sanhedrin 92a. See also Talmud Shabbos 118a)
2) This prohibition is specifically for unnecessary “gazing” and does not apply to cursory glances or unintentional seeing which is often inevitable and acceptable. (See Ezer M’Kodesh Even HaEzer Siman 25:2)
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2011
1) The “private parts” of one’s own body should not be [needlessly] touched. (See Biur Halacha to Shulchan Aruch Siman 3:14)
There is no difference if they are touched directly or via a piece of clothing; they are both to be avoided. (See Shach Yoreh Deah Siman 182:6 and Mishna Berura Siman 3:29)
2) Thus, it is important for a male not to excessively put his hands in his pants pockets, as doing this often will inevitably lead to him needlessly touching his private area. (Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 23:4 and Chochmas Adam 127:5.See Taz Even HaEzer Siman 23:2 and Yoreh Deah 182:3 that this is not a blatant prohibition but rather a praiseworthy thing to avoid in order to increase Kedusha, as Rabbeinu Hakadosh, the author of the Mishna, was called holy due to the fact that in his entire lifetime his hands never went below his waist.)
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2011
1) It is extremely important to be extra careful to not touch one’s private areas or to wear clothing or engage in activities that cause the privates to be stimulated, as doing these things can ultimately lead (either right then or even later on) to the terrible sin of Motzi Zera L’Vatala (MZ”L), spilling seed in vain, a sin that is considered worse than any other sins mentioned in the Torah. (See Talmud Nidah 13b and Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 23:1. See Bais Shmuel’s commentary regarding it being the worst sin; actually having relations with a woman other than one’s wife or with one’s wife when she is unclean is a worse sin.)
2) One who [deliberately] causes himself to be MZ”L is deserving of excommunication and is considered to have “spilled human blood”. (Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 23:2, Rambam Hilchos Isurei Biah Perek 21:18 based on Talmud Nidah 13b)
Furthermore, one who is MZ”L has transgresses a biblical transgression (and one of the Ten Commandments) of “Lo Tin’af” as well as other biblical transgressions and is considered a Rasha. (See Talmud Nidah 13b and Chochmas Adam 127:1 and 2)
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2011
1) One should not sleep on his stomach nor on his back, but rather on his side. (Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 23:3 and Aruch HaShulchan Even HaEzer Siman 23:3)
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)
The reason for the prohibition of sleeping on the back or on the stomach is to prevent the body from being stimulated to the point of being MZ”L while in these positions. (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. Maran Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, in Shoneh Halachos Siman 239:3 quotes the Chazon Ish Zatzal as being stringent anytime 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”)
Another reason given for sleeping on the left side 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)
Lastly, there are also kabalistic reasons for not sleeping on the back and the stomach. (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 238:11)
2) This Halacha applies to males and females as even though the first reason cited, of avoiding MZ”L, does not apply to females, the last two reasons do.
Though for females it isn’t considered a big a sin if they are lax in this.
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2011
1) Oftentimes, people dream certain dreams while they are sleeping which lead them to experience nocturnal emissions (i.e. unintentional MZ”L, also referred to in Halacha as Keri).
Although this occurrence is not deemed deliberate MZ”L and none of the aforementioned sins or their consequences apply, it is still worthwhile to try and avoid having this happen, if possible.
One thing to do is avoid going to sleep immediately after eating dinner when one is full and the food is not yet digested, as going to sleep on a full stomach is known to be a cause of nocturnal emissions. (See Sefer Chasidim Siman 12 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 71:2)
Learning some Torah before going to sleep is the ideal way to protect oneself from experiencing these nocturnal emissions. (See Talmud Brachos 14a)
2) It is also important to recite Krias Shema SheAl Hamitah before going to bed, as this too protects a person from various spiritual harms including the impurities that come about due to nocturnal emissions.
It is good to try and understand the words being said and also good to say as much as possible of the additional Tefilos as well as the Bracha of Hamapil, as printed in most Siddurim (See Talmud Brachos 5a. See also Ben Ish Chai Parashas Pikudei at length.)
Saying the first four chapters of Sefer Tehillim (psalms 1-4) before going to bed [in addition to Krias Shema] is also a known Segulah to prevent nocturnal emissions. (Mishna Berura Siman 619:14 quoting the Shla Hakadosh)
Sleeping too late in the morning is also a practice that often leads to these emissions. (See Sefer Reishis Chochmah Sha’ar HaKedusha Perek 17)
Every person has to be in tune with his own body and sleeping patterns, positions and methods and determine what, if anything, leads to this and thus avoid those situations.
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011
1) One who awakens from his sleep due to a vivid dream and is worried that if he goes back to sleep with those images in his head it may lead to MZ”L, should get up, wash his hands, feet and face with cold water before returning to bed. (See Sefer Chasidim Siman 992)
2) If one feels that the images he is dreaming about are too powerful for him to overcome and he feels he will intentionally be MZ”L, he may not continue to lay there and must get out of bed [until the urge to sin passes] in order to prevent himself from sinning Chas V’Shalom. (See Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Nidchei Yisroel Perek 23)
When he does return to sleep, it is best if the feet are not covered by a blanket, as cold feet are a deterrent to nocturnal emissions.
In fact, many Poskim suggest to always sleep with feet uncovered and surely not to sleep with socks on. (See Mishna Berura Siman 619:14)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, AUGUST 26, 2011(DOUBLE PORTION L’KAVOD SHABBOS KODESH)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) It is forbidden to [deliberately] think about impure things.
Any “action” that is forbidden to do [in the realm of Tzniyus] may not be thought about and is deemed “Hirhur Ra, impure thought”. (See Ezer Mikodesh Even HaEzer Siman 20. According to some Poskim, however, even actions which are permitted for him to do (e.g. having relations with one’s wife), may not be excessively thought about as the Hirhur can lead to sinning. See Shu”t Igros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol.1 Siman 68 and Vol. 4 Siman 66 where he is stringent)
2) [Deliberately] thinking impure thoughts is a biblical transgression of “Lo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem, do not stray after your heart” (Bamidbar 15:39) and “V’Nishmarta Mikal davar Ra, you shall guard yourself from all bad things” (Devarim 23:10), and doing so is grounds for excommunication. (See Talmud Avodah Zarah 20b and Tosefos Dibur Hamaschil Shelo. See also Chochmas Adam Klal 127:2 and Shu”t Radvaz Siman 1535)
Doing anything, even a permissible thing, which will ultimately cause one’s mind to have impure thoughts, is forbidden to do.
Moreover, even a Mitzvah should not be done if by doing the Mitzvah it will lead to impure thoughts. (See Sefer Chasidim Siman 393 and Shu”t Chasam Sofer Choshen Mishpat Siman 190)
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) If one finds himself having impure thoughts, due to gazing at, remembering or doing something impure, he must do whatever he can to stop the thoughts from continuing.
The best thing to do is to consciously focus and start thinking about something else, as the human mind cannot think about two things simultaneously and the new thoughts will push out the impure ones.
2) On the initial impure thought that falls into a person’s mind, he is not liable and does not get any punishment for it, provided that he didn’t do anything improper to cause the thought to enter his mind.
Only if one continues to deliberately allow the thoughts to remain without trying to chase them out of his mind is it a punishable sin. (See Peleh Yoetz; “Machshava” and Ezer MiKodesh Even HaEzer Siman 23)
However, one who finds himself thinking impure thoughts should do some soul searching and review his daily habits and routines to determine if the thoughts are a sign from heaven that he has sinned and must improve his ways. (See Sefer Chasidim Siman 177)
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 2011
1) The ideal way to remove impure thoughts from one’s mind is to replace them with thoughts of Torah, as the holiness of the Torah helps to prevent sin as Hashem created the Yetzer Hara and created the Torah as its antidote. (See Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer Siman 23:3 and Talmud Kidushin 30b)
Not only is thinking Torah thoughts an option, it is actually an obligation to focus one’s mind on Torah thoughts or even stop what he is doing and go learn some Torah in order to remove impure thoughts from his mind. (See Talmud Sukkah 52b and Rashi to Bava Basra 16a Dibur Hamaschil Bara Lo Torah that since one has this option he will not be able to avoid punishment by saying ” I had no choice; I am an Oines”)
2) One who is trying to remove impure thoughts from his mind, but us being unsuccessful should say the following Posuk over and over until the thoughts leave his mind:
“Aish Tamid Tukad Al Hamizbayach Lo Tichbeh, an eternal fire should always burn on the Mizbayach (altar)” (Vayikra 6:6)
This Posuk has many deep kabalistic meanings and saying it reminds the Jewish soul that the fire of servitude to Hashem must always burn inside his soul, as every Jew is a miniature Bais Hamikdash, a dwelling place for Hashem’s Shechinah and thus all foreign fires, i.e. impurities must be kept out. (See Peleh Yoetz, “Machshavah”. See also Shla Hakadosh Sha’ar HaOsiyos, “Lev Tov” where he quotes the Ramak having learned this method directly from Eliyahu Hanavi!)
Another Posuk to say is “Sayafim Saneisi VeTorascha Ahavti,I abhor sinful thoughts, and I love your Torah” (Tehilim 119:113) (Shlah Hakadosh ibid.)
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 2011
1) Another proven method to control impure thoughts is to gaze at one’s Tzitzis, as doing so infuses a Jew with strength, as the Posuk (Bamidbar 15:39) states regarding Tzitzis “U’Reisem Oso U’Zchartem Es Kol Mitzvos Hashem Va’Asisem Osam, you shall look at [the Tzitzis] and [it will cause you to] remember all the commandments of Hashem and [help you] fulfill them” (Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Shmiras Halashon Vol. 2 in the Chasimas HaSefer Perek 3. See also Talmud Menachos 43b and Rashi Dibur Hamaschil U’Rakiah L’Kisei Hakavod)
2) Another important thing to remember if one is beset by impure thoughts is that these thoughts damage one’s Neshama and Nefesh (soul and spirit) (See Sefer Chareidim Perek 66:68. See also Talmud Chulin 37b where Yechezkel Hanavi proclaims regarding the fact that his thoughts have always been pure by saying “Nafshi Lo MiTuma, my spirit has never been defiled [by impure thoughts])
Furthermore, one who [consistently and deliberately] has bad thoughts risks being denied being close to Hashem in the next world. (See Talmud Nidah 13b and Maharsha there that this is not so much a punishment as a consequence as Tumah and Tahara simply do not mix
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2011
1) It is forbidden to [unnecessarily] talk about impure things and actions or use words that refer to impure actions. (See Sefer Chareidim Perek 24:49)
This is referred to as “Nivul Peh, defiling the mouth”.
Besides for the fact that such speech will lead to impure thoughts, such [unnecessary] speech in its own right is a sin, as the Torah (Devarim 23:15) says “V’Lo Yir’eh Becha Ervas Davar, and you shall not see anything revealed”. The word “Davar” also means “word” and Chazal learn from this that a word (i.e. speaking) regarding Ervah is also forbidden. (See Talmud Yerushalmi Terumos Perek 1:6. See also Chareidim ibid., Mesilas Yesharim Perek 11 and Midrash Raba Vayikrah Perek 24:6)
2) Furthermore, Nivul Peh taints a Jew’s Neshama. (See Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Nidchei Yisroel Perek 20)
One who [regularly] uses Nivul Peh is risking having his Tefilos rejected by Hashem and causing his Neshama to not be taken up to heaven when he goes to sleep at night and thus losing out on the nightly cleansing that a Jew’s Neshama usually receives, spiritually an extremely dangerous thing to miss out on. (See Sefer Chareidim ibid. where he also refers to Nivul Peh as “Avi Avos Hatumah, the most severe kind of impurity)
Using Nivul Peh can unfortunately reverse seventy years’ worth of good judgments against a person and cause him much suffering; whereas controlling one’s mouth can reverse seventy years’ worth of bad judgments and save a person much suffering. (See Talmud Shabbos 33a where the Gemara enumerates many other consequences of using Nivul Peh. Merubah Midah Tova M’Midas Puraniyos, good measures are always given more abundantly than their converse. See Rashi Shmos 20:6)
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2011
1) Just as it is forbidden to talk Nivul Peh so too it is forbidden to hear it from someone else. (See Sha’arei Teshuva Sha’ar 3 Siman 229. See also Talmud Kesubos 5b that Hashem created the earlobe soft and flexible so that it can be inserted in the ear to block out any forbidden speech one may hear, including Nivul Peh.)
Just as by Devarim SheBikedusah there is a concept of Shomea K’Oneh, where one who hears a holy utterance is as if he himself said it, so too with Nivul Peh, one who hears it [and is able to walk away or otherwise not hear it] is considered as if he himself is speaking it. (Shla Hakadosh, Sha’ar HaOsiyos, Kedusha)
2) One who [deliberately and constantly] defiles his mouth with Nivul Peh will as a result cause his mouth to be an unacceptable vehicle for holy utterances, and thus any Torah or Tefilos that the defiled mouth utters will not be accepted by Hashem, just as a precious gift delivered in a repulsive utensil will be rejected by its intended recipient. (See Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Nidchei Yisroel Perek 20 and 23 and in Sefer Z’chor L’Miriam Perek 8. See also Chayei Adam Klal 143 in his Pirush on Vidui, on the stanza”Dibarnu Dofi”)
Furthermore, additional heavenly punishment will be necessary for the Chutzpa (audacity) of trying to present Hashem such holy utterances via such a defiled mouth, similar to one who recites a bracha over stolen food, where Chazal teach us that the bracha is considered an audacity. (Shla ibid. See Talmud Sanhedrin 6b)
Of course, once one does Teshuva for regularly speaking Nivul Peh, his mouth is cleansed and is once again acceptable for holy utterances.
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 , 2011
1) One who stumbled in any aspects of Hilchos Tzniyus must do Teshuva to repent for his infractions, much as with any other sins.
As soon as one does genuine Teshuva, no matter how severe his sins were, his sins are erased by Hashem’s love for him increases to an even higher level than before he sinned in the first place. (See Rambam Hilchos Teshuva perk 7 at length. See also Shu”t Chacham Tzvi Siman 13.)
Furthermore, upon doing Teshuva, he is rewarded with a special Siyata D’Shmaya (heavenly assistance) to excel in his subsequent Torah learning and Mitzvah performance. (ibid.)
2) Besides for Teshuva being a biblical obligation in its own right (aspects of which we shall, B’Ezras Hashem, discuss more in detail in the coming weeks), it also serves as a preventative from doing further sins, as part of the Teshuva process is the “Kabalah Al Ha’Asid, resolve going forward” not to repeat the sins. (See Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos 73, Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah 364 and Sha’arei Teshuva Sha’ar 1:1)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, SEPTEMBER 2 , 2011
(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) When one needs to do Teshuva, it must be done as soon as possible and not pushed off to a later time as the Mitzvah of Teshuva is a constant obligation (as long as one has sins) (See Rambam Hilchos Teshuva Perek 7:2)
2) Besides the inherent importance of doing Teshuva immediately, delaying Teshuva is a sin in its own right, as it’s indicative of a lack of concern about the severity of this sin and in most cases leads to a flippant attitude toward this sin – as habit is wont to do- and makes it extremely difficult to ever stop doing that particular sin. (See Sha’arei Teshuva Sha’ar 1:2)
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) The longer one delays doing Teshuva, the harder it becomes to actually do Teshuva as the longer one lingers the less heavenly help he will have, and in fact the Yetzer Hara will sometimes be given special permission to place difficult spiritual nisyonos, obstacles, in the person’s path. (See Rambam Hilchos Teshuva Perek 6:3 where he writes that sometimes, a person who consistently sins and ignores the call to Teshuva may be punished to the point that Teshuva is all but impossible; a tragic state to allow oneself to fall to. See Shla HaKadosh Maseches Yoma; Hilchos Teshuva.)
2) One who caused another Jew to sin along with them (be it in a breach of Hilchos Tzniyus with a female or a male or in any other sin) must not only do Teshuva for his own sin but must also try to get the other person to do teshuva as well. (See Shu”t Noda B’Yehuda Orach Chaim Siman 35 and Shla Hakadosh, Sha’ar HaOsiyos; “Kedusha”)
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 , 2011
1) The three main aspects of Teshuva (as brought in the Rambam Hilchos Teshuva Perek 2:2) are:
a) Charata, remorse for doing something against the will of Hashem.
b) Kabala al HaAsid, genuine resolve to not repeat the sin.
c) Vidui, verbalizing the above remorse and resolve.
Complete Kapara, heavenly forgiveness, is not achieved until all three of the aforementioned conditions are met. (See Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 364)
2) Besides for the Mitzvah aspect of Vidui, the Torah’s requirement to verbalize the sin, doing so also serves a practical purpose, as when one “hears” himself enumerating his sins it causes his heart to sense the severity of the sin and better aides in resolving to not repeat it. (See Minchas Chinuch ibid.)
The verbalizing of the sins, the Vidui, is only a Mitzvah if one is genuine in his remorse and doesn’t have intention to repeat the sin he is saying Vidui on.
If one does say a insincere Vidu, not only is it not a proper Teshuva, it is in it of itself a sin as it is considered “lying” to Hashem; in fact one of the “Al Cheit” that we say on Yom Kippur is “Al Cheit SheChatanu Lefanecha B’Vidui Peh, forgive us Hashem for sinning before You via [insincere] vidui with our mouth” (See Sefer Chareidim Perek 63 and Chayei Adam Klal 143. See also Midrash Rabbah Parshas Balak Perek 20:13 that although such a vidui is not valid for Teshuva, it does work to prevent certain heavenly retribution.)
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 , 2011
1) One who only regrets doing a sin but does not resolve to [try and] never do it again, is not considered to have regretted doing the sin properly, as if one truly realized that what he did was immoral how can he not resolve to [try and] not repeat it.
Furthermore, not resolving to [try and] not repeat the sin again is a sign that he doesn’t realize the severity of his actions and merely looks at his sin as a “nice thing to try to not do ” or a “chumrah, stringency” but not as the severe sin against Hashem that it was. (See Nidchei Yisroel Perek 34)
2) It is for this reason that it is of utmost importance for every Jew to learn Halacha and to know what is expected of him or her , to determine what is “black and white” Halacha, what is chumrah and what is minhag.
Knowing the severity of each sin, and its prescribed consequences, will not only serve to ensure it isn’t done, but will also serve to enable one to do proper Teshuva in the event that it was transgressed. (See Chayei Adam Klal 143, Peleh Yoetz; “Teshuva” and Sha’arei Teshuva Sha’ar 1 Siman 37 and Sha’ar 3 Siman 3)
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 , 2011
1) One who did genuine Teshuva and resolved to [sincerely try to the best of his ability to] never repeat the sin again has that sin erased from his record in heaven, and it’s considered as if the sin never happened. (See Mesilas Yesharim Perek 4, Zechor L’Miriam perek 24 and Mabit in Bais Elokim, Sha’ar HaTeshuva Perek 12)
In fact, in its stead he has now a Mitzvah of doing proper Teshuva (and in certain instances, all his aveiros which he discarded are transformed into merits!) (See Chofetz Chaim in Taharas Yisroel Perek 10)
2) Even if, Chas V’shalom, at some point in the future he stumbles and repeats the sin, it is considered a new sin with no connection to the previous sin that was erased by the genuine Teshuva, and thus the previous Teshuva is not negated and is still in full effect. (See Rambam and Lechem Mishneh Hilchos Teshuva Perek 2:2. See also Sefer Chasidim Siman 354)
Of course, a new Teshuva on the current sin will be necessary.
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 , 2011
1) When one is faced with a Nisayon, a spiritual test, to do a sin, it is extremely important not to think to oneself ” Echteh V’Ashuv, I will transgress the sin and do Teshuva afterward” as on such a sin it is extremely difficult to attain a true Teshuva. (as each time he will continue to sin and promise himself that genuine Teshuva will follow, when all that usually follows such an attitude is additional sinning.) (Mishna Yoma 85b)
Furthermore, not only will the individual who does this have a hard time on his own doing Teshuva, he will further be hindered from heaven from doing Teshuva due to the sinful attitude of “I will sin and then repent afterward”. (See Rambam Hilchos Teshuva Perek 4:1)
The same applies to one who thinks to himself “Echteh V’Yom HaKipurim Yechaper, I will sin and Yom Kippur will cleanse my sin”, as Yom Kippur will indeed not atone for such a sin. (Mishna and Rambam ibid.)
2) Although one who sins with the aforementioned thoughts causes his chances of doing a genuine Teshuva to diminish, it is still possible to do a genuine Teshuva, albeit more difficult, as the door to Teshuva is never totally closed. (See Rambam Hilchos Teshuva Perek 4:6)
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 , 2011
1) One who has fallen and transgressed a particular sin multiple times, or even someone who has become a habitual sinner in regard to a particular sin, should not give up hope, as Teshuva is still possible to attain. (Rambam Hilchos Teshuva Perek 4:6)
One of the key tools the Yetzer Hara uses to prevent a person from doing Teshuva is causing the person to give up on themselves (Yiush); ignore the Yetzer Hara as Hashem never gives up on any Jew and indeed believes in every Jew, and so too no Jew should ever give up on themselves or stop believing in themselves. (See the powerful words of Rav Tzadok Hakohen from Lublin in Tzidkas HaTzadik Os 154. See also Peleh Yoetz; “Teshuva” and Chofetz Chaim in Taharas Yisroel Perek 10)
2) It is prohibited to think or say ” I have no strength to stop doing this particular sin; it’s already part of my nature”, as if Hashem gives a person a particular Nisayon, no matter how impossible it seems to be, Hashem has also given him the tools necessary to choose properly and overcome it. (See introduction to Sefer Shmiras Halashon and Tomer Devorah Perek 4 and Sefer Chasidim Siman 162. See also Rambam Hilchos Teshuva Perek 5:1)
Even though sometimes it feels incredibly difficult or even impossible to overcome, a person must remember that the first few times he overcomes will be the most difficult, and after a while it will become more manageable as overcoming the sin will become part of his nature just as transgressing used to feel. (See Rashi Shmos 19:5 that “Kol Haschalos Kashos, it’s always harder in the beginning”)
Furthermore, it’s important to remember that “L’Fum Tza’arah Agrah, the more difficult the Nisayon is, the more heavenly reward you get for overcoming it” (Mishna Pirkei Avos Perek 5:23. See also Avos D’Rav Nosson Perek 3:6 that one time with pain and difficulty is worth more to Hashem than one hundred times without pain and difficulty)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, SEPTEMBER 9 , 2011
(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) The discussion up until now was regarding Teshuva for “regular” sins.
However, for one who [intentionally] transgressed a severe sin in the area of “Hilchos Tznius” (such as MZ”L or similar sins) a regular Teshuva is not adequate, and a stronger Teshuva must be done. (See Zohar Parshas Vayechi and Parshas Vayakhel)
The Seforim Hakedoshim say that for these sins one must first do the regular Teshuva (Charata, Kabala Al HaAsid and Vidui) and then must also strengthen in Torah study, even though it may be difficult. (See Reishis Chochma Sha’ar HaTeshuvah Perek 2 and Sha’ar HaKedusha Perek 17. See also Nefesh Hachaim Sha’ar 1:21 and Sha’ar 4:31 and Sha’ar HaTziyun Siman 615:5 and Talmud Brachos 5a-b that one who learns Torah merits having his sins expunged)
2) He must try and strain himself to wake up earlier to learn or otherwise learn at a time when he really does not have a desire to do so. (Reishis Chochma Sha’aR Hateshuva Perek 7)
Furthermore, he should be careful not to interrupt his learning with lighthearted talk and should try and review whatever he learns a few times even though he feels like he already knows what he learned, as doing so is considered learning Torah L’shmah. (See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 246:17 and Kraina D’Igrasa letters 11, 12 and 168)
He should try to learn at times when many people are not learning (such as Erev Shabbos and Shabbos) as learning at such a time is more powerful than learning at a time when many people are learning. (See Ben Ish Chai, second year, Parashas Shmos in introduction that learning Torah on Shabbos is 1,000 times as powerful as learning during the week. See also Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah Sha’ar 8:1 quoting the Arizal that learning on Thursday nights is an extremely good Tikun for P’gam HaBris, sins involving the lack of Kedusha with one’s bris.)
The above are just a few examples; each person should figure out on their own what area of their Torah study needs improvement and doing so will serve as part of his Teshuva process.
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) It is extremely worthwhile for one who transgressed areas of Hilchos Tzniyus to learn Mishnayos of Seder Taharos, as these Mishnayos are very beneficial for purifying one’s Neshama (Arizal quoted in Reishis Chochma Sha’ar HaKedusha Perek 17)
Additionally, saying Tehillim is very appropriate thing to do when doing Teshuva on sins in the realm of Tznius (especially Psalm 51) as reciting Tehillim causes ones heart to feel close to Hashem and brings to emotions of genuine Teshuva. (See Pele Yoetz; “Zohar” and “Tehilim”. Of course it’s best if one says it slowly and understands the meaning of the words, but even if he doesn’t it is still very effective. (See also Shu”t Noda B’Yehuda Orach Chaim Siman 35)
2) However, Tehillim should not be recited at the expense of learning Torah, rather it should be said at a time when one would not otherwise be learning. (See Nefesh HaChaim Sha’ar 4 Perek 3)
Keep in mind that even one who had a heavenly decree of death passed against him can have it reversed if he strengthens himself in the area of learning Torah and learns more Torah than is usual for him. (See Talmud Rosh Hashana 18a and Midrash Rabbah Parashas Kedoshim Parsha 25)
HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 , 2011
1) It is very worthwhile for one who stumbled and was MZ”L, be it intentionally or otherwise, to immerse himself in a Mikvah as soon as possible. (See Talmud Brachos 22a and Kraina D’Igrasa 166)
This should ideally be done before the next scheduled Tefilah, as one of the things that prevent Tefilos from properly reaching heaven is an impure body. (See Mishna Berura Siman 88:2)
Furthermore, as long as one did not immerse in the Mikvah following MZ”L his heart is spiritually blocked and this may cause further lapses in Avodas Hashem. (See Peleh Yoetz; “Tumah”)
Once the immersion in the Mikvah is done the body is once again purified and a renewed holiness permeates him. (Kraina D’Igrasa 168. See also Shla HaKadosh in Sha’ar HaOsiyos; “Kedusha” that when one sins in this area his Neshama leaves him and immersing in the Mikvah returns it to him. See also Resihis Chochma Sha’ar Ahava Perek 11)
2) If for whatever reason one is not able to immerse in a Mikvah right away, it is halachically permissible to don Tefilin, daven and learn Torah. (See Mishna Berura Siman 40:16 and Shulchan Aruch Siman 88:1 and Talmud Brachos ibid.)
He should, however, try and immerse at the first possible time.
Additionally, if by immersing in the Mikvah one will miss Zman Tefilah, the proper time to daven or Zman Krias Shma, the proper time by when to recite Krias Shma he should first daven and recite Krias Shma and then immerse in the Mikvah afterward. (Mishna Berura Siman 88:2)
HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 , 2011
1) Chazal teach us that one who sins, besides for the obligation to do Teshuva, should also try to limit his bodily pleasures and comforts to counteract the pleasure he derived from the sins. This is referred to in Halacha as “Teshuvas HaMishkal, the balanced Teshuva”.
This includes fasting, crying and accepting upon oneself to limit even some otherwise permissible bodily pleasures, and other things which we shall discuss in the near future B’Ezras Hashem
Doing this complements and completes the Teshuva. (See Sha’arei Teshuva Sha’ar 4:12. But of course, the main Teshuva is the Charata, Azivas Hacheit and the Vidui. See Shu”t Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim Siman 173)
2) One who does such a complete Teshuva to the point that he genuinely feels great pain for doing things that were against the will of Hashem – referred to as Teshuva M’Ahava, Teshuva out of love of Hashem- does not need to add additional discomforts to his life as the pain he feels for sinning against Hashem is sufficient to counteract the pleasures he derived from the sins. (See Sefer Chareidim Perek 65 and Sha’arei Teshuvah ibid.)
However, one who has not reached that level of feeling pain for having sinned, although his Teshuva is accepted, it is considered Teshuva M’Yirah, Teshuva out of fear of Hashem and fear of heavenly retribution, and requires Yesurim, bodily discomforts to be complete and to reverse the negative pleasures of the sins.
HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 , 2011
1) In the days of old, if one did a sin (even a small one) he would fast for a few days in order to purge himself of the sin. (See Sha’arei Teshuva Sha’ar 3:82 that although it is usually prohibited to cause pain or damage to one’s body, for Teshuva purposes it is allowed and admirable)
For more severe sins, it was common to fast for much longer periods of time. (See Sefer Chareidim Perek 63 where he quotes the Arizal that one who transgressed a severe Hilchos Tzniyus sin should fast for 48 days in order to receive a Kapara, forgiveness.)
2) However, nowadays as people are in a much weaker physical condition than in the old days, and fasting even for one day is difficult, the Poskim suggest giving Tzedakah in lieu if fasting.
The logic is that by giving away money equivalent to the cost of a meal or two, it’s as if you yourself did not eat those meals and thus considered as if you fasted. (See Rama Siman 568:2 and Mishna S”K 24.See Talmud Chulin 84a regarding our bodies becoming weaker in each subsequent generation.)
HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 , 2011
1) Although nowadays we refrain from fasting too much in association with Teshuva, it is still praiseworthy to fast every now and then, such as once a month on Erev Rosh Chodesh, even if it’s only until after Chatzos, midday, or until after reciting the special Yom Kippur Katan Tefilos which are traditionally said in many congregations on Erev Rosh Chodesh after Mincha. (See Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Nidchei Yisroel Perek 35)
Some people have the custom to skip one meal each week, ideally lunch on Erev Shabbos Kodesh. (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 32:10)
2) The point of these fast days is not just to refrain from food; the main point of these fasts or the Tzedakah given in their stead, is to utilize them for Teshuva, as the pain of the fast alone without any Teshuva is all but worthless, and can in fact be worse than not fasting at all. (See Sefer Chareidim Perek 63 and Chayei Adam quoted in Biur Halacha to Siman 571 and Mishna Berura Siman 220:6)
HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 , 2011
1) When one does fast in conjunction with Teshuva it is important to utilize the fasting properly and not cause the fasting to lead him to further sinning which would defeat the purpose of the fasting altogether.
Thus, one who is fasting and thus is not able to learn properly should not instead waste his time with idle chatting or Chas V’shalom cause others to not learn Torah or speak Lashon Hara etc.; it’s better to go to sleep than to spend time idling.
(See Mishna Berura Siman 583:9)
2) Furthermore, if one is agitated due to the fasting and thus becomes irritable over petty things and gets angry at people around him for every little thing, he has defeated the purpose of the fast and is better off not having fasted. (See Sefer Chasidim Siman 617)
HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, SEPTEMBER 16 , 2011
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) When one does fast in conjunction with Teshuva it is important for him to be careful to not start having arrogant thoughts such as ” I am such a Tzadik for fasting” or similar thoughts, as such arrogance will defeat the purpose of the fast.
In fact, if one [arrogantly] tells other people that he is fasting for purposes of Teshuva, he will receive heavenly punishment. (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 565:6)
If, however, someone asks him if he is fasting, he may say the truth that he is indeed fasting, as long as his intention is not to be arrogant. (Mishna Berura Siman 565:14)
2) Furthermore, upon completion of this fast one should not immediately eat enjoyable foods and should rather break his fast with simple foods, as eating enjoyable foods right away has a hint of arrogance to it. (Shla HaKadosh Maseches Ta’anis Perek Derech Chaim)
HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH
1) For those who cannot fast even every now and then and even for half a day in conjunction with their Teshuva, there exists some other forms of self-affliction which do not harm the body yet can have the spiritual effect of fasting.
One such example is to control oneself from enjoying a sweet food when he has a desire to indulge in it; this “self-control” serves as a boost to his Teshuva. (See Peleh Yoetz; “Ta’anis)
Alternatively, if one is already in the midst of indulging in a food that is extremely enjoyable to him and stops in the middle as a way of self-affliction, it is also considered like a fast, as it’s an extremely difficult thing to do. (Ra’avad Sha’ar HaKedusha quoted in Be’er Heitev Siman 571:1 and Mishna Berura 571:2)
Another thing to do is, upon finishing learning or working, instead of running to eat, he should push himself to stay a few extra minutes, as controlling oneself from running to eat when hungry is also a form of self-affliction and is considered like fasting. (Peleh Yoetz ibid.)
2) Another form of self-affliction is a Ta’anis Dibur, a period of time where one controls himself from talking at all; it is praiseworthy to train oneself to do this from time to time and indeed it may even be more worthwhile than a regular fast. (Mishna Berura ibid. quoting the Gaon of Vilna and other Poskim)
Additionally, one who has no desire to learn Torah, and pushes himself to do it anyway is also considered as if he fasted. (See Sha’arei Teshuva Sha’ar 4:11. See also Shu”t Nodah B’Yehuda Orach Chaim Siman 35 and Kraina D’Igrasa letter 11.)
The Midrash Rabbah (Parshas Mikeitz Parasha 92) teaches that “No human being is free of suffering [in this world], praiseworthy is the one who receives his portion of suffering via Learning Torah [with difficulty].
Questions? Feel free to email me at HalachaForToday@Gmail.com