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How to Celebrate Sukkos – Part 1:
The Mitzvah of Living in a Sukkah:
© 2016 Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz
1. For the entire seven days, a person should consider the Sukkah to be his permanent home and
his house a temporary place. Therefore, a person should eat, sleep, and spend his time in the
Sukkah in the same way that he does in the house during the year. He fulfills a Torah
commandment every single moment that he spends in the Sukkah, both day and night.
2. A person should live in the Sukkah in the same manner that he lives at home during the year. Just
as he naturally leaves his home to do certain activities and attend to various needs, so too may
he leave the Sukkah when the occasion demands it. Nevertheless, it is praiseworthy to maximize
the amount of time spent in the Sukkah since every moment brings eternal reward.
3. There are three occasions when one is obliged to be in the Sukkah:
• On the first night of Sukkos
• When eating a meal
• When sleeping
4. Women are not obligated to live or sit in the Sukkah. However, a woman who sits in the Sukkah
fulfills a Torah Mitzvah.
5. Women should preferably light the Shabbos and Yom Tov candles in the Sukkah, since the main
Mitzvah is to enjoy the lights during the meal. However, if there is a concern that they may be
extinguished by the wind, or they may be a fire risk [especially when there are little children in the
Sukkah], she should light them in the house. When lighting in the house, they should, if possible,
be placed near a window or glass door that faces the Sukkah.
6. Boys from the age of five or six should be trained to fulfill the Mitzvah of living in the Sukkah. In
addition, it is certainly beneficial to have children of all ages be in the Sukkah.
7. A man is obligated to daven with a Minyan in Shul. Just as he leaves his house to go to Shul, he
should also leave the Sukkah to go to Shul.
8. Ideally, one should minimize mundane talk while in the Sukkah. Nevertheless, if a person needs
to discuss business matters [only on Chol Hamoed] with a friend, he may do so and should not
leave the Sukkah.
Eating in the Sukkah:
1. Strictly speaking, only meals must be eaten in the Sukkah, but not snacks or drinks. However, it is
praiseworthy to eat and drink everything inside the Sukkah.
2. A meal consists of eating bread that is larger than the volume of a Halachik egg, which is:
between 2 – 3 ½ ounces [or 58-100 cc]. A meal could also consist of 1-1 ¾ ounces [or 29-50 cc.]
of bread accompanied with other food.
3. Strictly speaking, one who is eating an entire meal without bread, is not required to eat it in the
Sukkah; but it is strongly recommended to do so.
4. Regarding Mezonos foods such as cake and the like, they are equated with bread. Therefore, one
should not eat outside of the Sukkah a piece of Mezonos larger than the volume on a Halachik
egg. [rice is excluded from this Mezonos rule.]
5. If a person who is eating a meal in the Sukkah, everything he eats is considered to be part of the
meal. Therefore, he is forbidden to have any food or drink outside of the Sukkah during that meal.
Sleeping in the Sukkah:
1. During the week of Sukkos, the Sukkah is to be considered as a person’s home. Since the
primary activities of the home are eating and sleeping, a man is obligated to sleep in the Sukkah.
According to some opinions, sleeping in the Sukkah is even more important than eating there.
2. There are two reasons why people may be lenient and sleep in the house:
• In many countries, the weather is cold at this time of year, and sleeping in the Sukkah
would cause much discomfort.
• Women do not usually sleep in the Sukkah, and if a married man would sleep in the
Sukkah leaving his wife alone in the house, this may cause him and her distress.
3. If the temperature is so cold in the Sukkah, to the degree that he would not sleep in his house as
well, one should not sleep in the Sukkah. However, it is praiseworthy to organize a way to heat
the Sukkah at night in order to be able to perform this important Mitzvah.
4. It is certain that a healthy single or married man during the day, or if a wife does not mind her
husband sleeping in the Sukkah at night, AND the weather is favorable – should sleep in the
5. Ideally, one should eat and sleep in the Sukkah with nothing intervening between him and the
S’chach. However, if necessary, it is permitted to sleep under a standard table.
The First Night of Sukkos:
1. The first night of Sukkos is different from the rest of Sukkos in the following way: On the first night
of Sukkos, men are obligated to eat in the Sukkah. During the rest of Sukkos, they are obligated
to eat in the Sukkah only if they want to eat a meal.
2. One should preferably eat a piece of bread the size of a Halachik egg. If this is difficult, one can
eat ½ of that amount.
3. There is a similar obligation on the second night for Jews living outside of Eretz Yisroel.
4. One may not eat this bread before nightfall.
5. Therefore, this year of 5777, Kiddush is said no earlier than 7:13 PM, and preferably after
7:21 PM.
6. The bread should be eaten within a span of between 2-4 minutes.
7. When eating this first piece of bread, you should think of the following:
• He is fulfilling the Mitzvah to sit in the Sukkah
• The Sukkah is a reminder of the exodus from Egypt, and the clouds of glory that
surrounded the Jewish people in the wilderness protecting them from harm.
8. If one was not thinking of the above and was not even thinking about fulfilling the Mitzvah of
Sukkah, he is required to eat more bread with the above thoughts in mind.
The Blessing for the Sukkah:
1. The blessing for the Sukkah ends with the words: “Asher Kidishanu Bemitzsvosav Ve’Tzivanu
Leisheiv BaSukkah.”
2. The blessing is recited under the following conditions:
• When eating bread that is the amount of larger than a Halachik egg.
• When eating Mezonos that is the amount of larger than a Halachik egg.
• When eating Mezonos that is ½ the amount of a Halachik egg at Kiddush on Shabbos or
Yom Tov.
3. When eating bread or Mezonos, the blessing of Hamotzi or Mezonos is recited before the
blessing for the Sukkah – followed by the eating of the bread or Mezonos.
4. When Kiddush is said in the evening of Shabbos or Yom Tov, the blessing is included in the
5. When Kiddush is recited in the morning and is followed by Mezonos, the blessing is included in
the Kiddush.
6. When the Kiddush is recited in the morning and is followed by bread, there are two customs.
Some include the blessing for the Sukkah in the Kiddush, and some recite the blessing together
with the blessing of Hamotzi. Both customs are equally acceptable.
7. Although Havdalah is made in the Sukkah, we do not make a blessing for the Sukkah during
Havdalah. It would be ideal to eat bread or Mezonos after Havdalah and Make the blessing for
the Sukkah with the blessing for the food.
8. If a person forgot to say the blessing and began the meal, he should still say the blessing as soon
as he remembers and eat some more.
9. If the person did not remember until after saying the after-blessing, he may still say the blessing if
he intends to remain a while in the Sukkah.
10.If a person remains in the Sukkah all day or leaves for a short break, he does not repeat the
blessing even at his next meal. If he leaves for a significant break, he should repeat the blessing
the next time he eats bread or Mezonos.
11.A significant break would be going out to: pray Shacharis, pray Shacharis and Mincha, leave for
two hours, leave due to heavy rain.
12.According to Ashkenazic tradition, women say the blessing in the same situations that men do.
13.The blessing is said while sitting. If Kiddush is recited standing, some have the custom to remain
standing until after the blessing for the Sukkah, and some sit down before the blessing for the
14.One says the Shehechiyanu blessing the first time one eats in the Sukkah. This is usually on the
first night of Sukkos, in which case the blessing is included in Kiddush.
1. It is a good idea to have a removable cover or roof for the Sukkah that can be used when it rains.
One can not make a blessing for the Sukkah when the cover is on. However, the Sukkah will
remain dry, and can be used immediately after the cover is removed once the rain has stopped.
One is permitted to eat in a covered Sukkah while it is raining – but does not make a blessing.
2. One is not obligated to eat in the Sukkah if it is raining heavily [except for the first night].
3. One is obligated to eat in the Sukkah if it is raining lightly.
4. Raining heavily is defined by rain coming through the S’chach into the Sukkah to the extent that if
this would be happening in the house, he would leave the room.
5. A sensitive person who is disturbed even by light rain [even though most people would not be
disturbed], is permitted to leave the Sukkah.
6. If a person is sleeping in the Sukkah, he is permitted to leave even if it is raining lightly, as this
disturbs his sleep.
7. If the sky is overcast and it is certain to rain soon, one is obligated to eat and sleep in the Sukkah
until it actually rains. Alternatively, one can wait to eat and sleep until it rains, and then begin
eating and sleeping in the house.
8. If it is raining to the degree that one is exempt from the Mitzvah, then he should leave. One who
remains in the Sukkah at this point is acting foolishly and receives no reward. It is certainly
forbidden to make a blessing for the Sukkah at that time.
9. If the rain stops, and you have not yet sat down to eat in the house, you must go back and eat in
the Sukkah, even if you originally left the Sukkah in the middle of the meal. If you are in the
middle of eating in the house, you may remain there until the end of the meal. [It is praiseworthy
to return to the Sukkah immediately, although you are not obligated to do so.]
10.When a person returns to the Sukkah after the rain stops, the previous blessing is no longer valid.
Therefore one should repeat the blessing when you eat bread or Mezonos again.
11. If it has stopped raining, but it is still dripping in the Sukkah, you may remain in the house.
Rain on the First Two Nights of Sukkos:
1. If it is raining on the first night of Sukkos, one should preferably wait an hour or two in hope that
the rain will stop in order to eat in the Sukkah and fulfill the Mitzvah properly.
2. If the family can not wait so long or has invited guests who are hungry and wish to eat
immediately, he should do the following as it is raining:
• Make Kiddush in the Sukkah omitting the blessing for Sukkah.
• Wash one’s hands.
• Say Hamotzi and eat ½ the size of a Halachik egg of bread in the Sukkah.
• Eat the remainder of the meal in the house.
• Say the after blessing in the house.
3. Under these conditions, women are not required to be in the Sukkah at all. However, they must
fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush in the house and not in the Sukkah. Therefore, if the Sukkah is
adjacent to the house, the women should listen to Kiddush from the house. [They should
remember to say the Shehechiyanu blessing for the Sukkah when they eat the first meal there,
unless they recited it when lighting candles there.]
4. If the rain stops during the meal, the men should return to the Sukkah, say the blessing for the
Sukkah and eat another piece of bread larger than a Halachik egg. They should say the after
blessing in the Sukkah. The women may do as they wish.
5. If the rain only stops after one has finished his entire meal and said the after blessing in the
house, the men are still required to fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah. They should wash again, say the
Hamotzi and the blessing on the Sukkah and eat a piece of bread larger than a Halachik egg.
6. If the rain continues, a person should wait as long as he is able to. But if he feels very tired, he
may go to sleep for the night.
7. If it rains on the second night of Sukkos, a person should wait a little while in the house in the
hope that the rain will stop. If the rain continues, he should make Kiddush and begin the meal in
the house. At the end of the meal, he should go to the Sukkah, eat a piece of bread that is ½ the
size of a Halachik egg and say the after blessing there. The blessing for the Sukkah should not be
recited. If the rain stops during or after the meal, see points 4 and 5.
Special Exemptions:
1. A person is exempt from the Mitzvah of Sukkah in the following situations:
• Discomfort.
• Sickness.
• Preoccupation with other Mitzvos.
• Travel.
2. Discomfort means that the conditions in the Sukkah are causing him discomfort and he will gain
relief by leaving the Sukkah. In the same circumstances he would leave the house, he is then
permitted to leave the Sukkah. Common examples of discomfort are:
• The Sukkah is too hot or too cold. {If one can easily dress warmly or heat the Sukkah, he
should do so.] • There is an unpleasant smell. • There are many insects in the Sukkah. • There is noise that is causing much disturbance. • Leaves or twigs are falling into the food and he is very disturbed by this.
3. If the lights accidentally go out in the Sukkah on Friday night, you are permitted to go into the
house where there is light.
4. There is no Mitzvah to remain in the Sukkah if you are exempt due to discomfort. It is
praiseworthy to try to make the Sukkah comfortable in order to be able to remain there.
5. Discomfort does not exempt a person on the first night of Sukkos. He must make Kiddush and eat
at least ½ the size of a Halachik egg of bread in the Sukkah before moving into the house, but he
does not make the blessing for the Sukkah.
6. The exemption of sickness is defined as either a person who needs to be in bed, or a person who
has a pain and will feel more comfortable in the house than in the Sukkah [e.g. headache, pain in
the eyes, etc.]
7. A person, who has a tendency to catch a cold due to sleeping in the Sukkah, is permitted to sleep
in the house. This is particularly important for children, who are more prone to catch a cold.
8. If a person needs to travel [e.g. for business, to perform a Mitzvah] during Sukkos, he may do so,
even though he will not be able to find a Sukkah on the way. Therefore, he may eat freely while
traveling, unless he can easily find a Sukkah along the way. However, it is highly recommended to
arrange one’s schedule in a way so that one not is traveling on Sukkos.
9. It is forbidden to eat or sleep outside of a Sukkah if one is traveling only for pleasure.
© 2016 Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz

Posted 10/13/2016 9:14 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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How to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah 5777
Reprinted from Rabbi Y. Michalowicz

Erev Rosh Hashanah:
1. It is customary [but not mandatory] to fast until Halachik mid-day. [1:06 PM]
2. Additional Selichos are said in the morning.
3. No Tachanun is said during the morning service.
4. We do not blow the Shofar after the morning service.
5. One should nullify his / her vows before 3 people in a language that you
understand. See Artscroll Siddur pg. 762. Women can appoint their husbands as
their agents to nullify their vows for them. Other women rely on the Kol Nidrei
ceremony to nullify their vows.
6. It is customary to visit the cemetery.
7. One should spend time doing Teshuvah, giving charity, learning, and asking
forgiveness from other people. Before Rosh Hashanah actually begins, one
should resolve to strive to focus on improving a specific area on conduct during
the New Year.
8. One should preferably take a shave and haircut before Halachik Mid- day. [1:06
9. Men should immerse in the Mikveh no earlier than one hour before Halachik Midday.
[12:06 PM]
10.One should familiarize oneself with the Machzor.
11. One should wear festive clothing, but in moderation. Save new clothing for the
second night of Yom Tov.
12.It is customary to bake or purchase Challah in the form of a circle, ladder, or bird.
13.One should be careful not to display anger or even become angry during these
special days.
14.Remember that on Rosh Hashanah one is permitted to cook or bake from a preexisting
fire. You need not have all your food cooked before Yom Tov. [Which
is generally required to be done for Shabbos.] Consult with your Rabbi to learn
more of the Halachik details involved.
15.It is preferable and practical to light a 24 hour Yartzeit candle before Yom Tov, so
that you will have a pre-existing flame to use throughout the first day of Yom Tov.
This flame will be the one that you can light candles from on the second night of
Rosh Hashanah.
First Evening of Rosh Hashanah:
1. Women light candles either at the regular time of candle lighting [6:37 PM] or
from a pre-existing flame when the men come home from Shul and are ready to
eat. They make 2 blessings: One for the Mitzvah of lighting the Yom Tov candles
and the other “Shehechiyanu” blessing. [If a woman forgets to light candles at
these two times, she may light them from a pre-existing flame the entire evening.]
2. Men should daven Minchah with a Minyan and everyone should say Minchah
with extra concentration, as it is the final prayer of the year 5775.
3. The earliest time to either light candles or make Kiddush is after 5:43 PM.
4. 4 insertions are made in the Maariv Amidah [and for all Amidahs through Yom
Kippur], which are found in the Artscroll Machzor on pages 62, 64, 66, and 72.
One must repeat the Amidah if one forgot to insert “Hamelech Hakadosh.”
5. Special greetings are given to friends and family members after Maariv and
before Kiddush. “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year [immediately,
for a good life and for peace].” See Artscroll Machzor pg. 90 for the Hebrew text.
This greeting should only be said on the first night. Greetings for the remainder of
Rosh Hashanah should be limited to “Shana Tova”, “Happy New Year”, “Chag
Samayach”, or “Good Yom Tov.”
6. After making the special Yom Tov Kiddush and washing our hands, we make a
Brocha over two Challahs, and cut the top Challah.
7. Challah is dipped in honey [some have the custom to dip the Challah into salt as
8. Symbolic foods are eaten at the evening meal. See Artscroll Machzor pg. 96-98.
The first symbolic fruit to be eaten should be the date. You should make the
blessing “Borei Pri Ha’etz” on that fruit, keeping in mind the other fruits you will
be eating on this night. Eat a little of it, followed by the special “Yehi Ratzon”
prayer, and then finish the date. There are no other blessings made on the
symbolic foods. One does say the special “Yehi Ratzon” prayer before eating
each of the symbolic foods.
9. If one is not able to eat any of the symbolic foods, one may look at them and say
the special “Yehi Ratzon” prayer.
10.Some have a custom to avoid eating sour or bitter foods and nuts.
11. Remember to make the proper insertions during the Birchas Hamazon.
12.It is a custom to learn one Chapter of Mishnayos from Tractate Rosh Hashanah
after each of the Yom Tov meals.
First Day of Rosh Hashanah:
1. Men should come on time to Shul and say the Amidah with a Minyan.
2. The Shema should be recited before 10:12 AM.
3. One should optimally listen to 100 blasts of the Shofar on both days of Rosh
Hashanah. 30 are blown before Mussaf. 30 are blown during the repetition. 40
are blown at the end of the service.
4. Men are obligated to hear the Shofar. Women are technically exempt from
hearing the Shofar; however, it has become customary for women to hear at
least 30 blasts of the Shofar.
5. Children, who are old enough to silently listen to the Shofar, should be
encouraged to do so. Little children, who will disturb the service, may not be
brought to Shofar blowing.
6. It is forbidden to talk while the Shofar is being blown. One should not speak
from the time that the blessings on the Shofar are made until after hearing
the 100th and final note. Only under extenuating circumstances may one talk
after hearing the first 30 blasts.
1. One is obligated to eat Challah and have a meal on both days of Rosh
2. One should not sleep in the afternoon. [One may be lenient on the second day.]
3. It is not the custom to visit friends in the afternoon.
4. Any free time in the afternoon should be spent learning Torah or doing Teshuvah
or doing acts of kindness. It is not a time for idle chatter.
5. After Minchah, it is customary to go to Tashlich.
6. The custom in to recite Tashlich preferably at a body of running water [i.e. a river
or stream] where fish are found. If that is not possible, one can say it by any body
of water – even a well.
7. When reciting the word “Vesashlich”, it is customary to shake out the corners or
pockets of your outer garments, which are empty.
8. It is forbidden to throw any crumbs of food into the water. [or to feed the or
9. Tashlich was not designed to be a venue for socializing. [One is permitted to
invite guests for meals and should make an effort to keep the discussions
focused on the theme and spirit of Rosh Hashanah.]
Second Evening of Rosh Hashanah:
1. One should pray the evening service after Tashlich. It is preferable to say it after
the stars come out, or at least after sunset.
2. One may not make any Yom Tov preparations for the second night, light candles,
or make Kiddush until after 7:44 PM.
3. Candle lighting and Kiddush are done in the same way as on the first night.
4. One should wear a new garment for candle lighting / the second evening meal. It
is questionable as to whether one can make a “Shehechiyanu” blessing on any
fruits. The only fruit that one, who lives in Toronto, can definitely say the
“Shehechiyanu” blessing is on pumpkins and Ontario concord grapes.
5. Some people have the custom to eat the symbolic foods and recite the special
prayers at this meal as well.
Second day of Rosh Hashanah:
1. The procedures for this day are the same as the first day. The exception being
that we do not go to Tashlich again. If it rained on the first day or you were not
able to go to Tashlich [or the first day was Shabbos], you should do so on the
second day. [If one does not have the opportunity to go to Tashlich on both days
of Yom Tov, you are permitted to do it until the seventh day of Succos – Hoshana
2. We make Havdalah after 7:42 PM by saying the blessing "Borei Pri Hagofen" &
"Hamavdil" at the conclusion of Yom Tov.
Rosh Hashanah: Yehi Ratzon – Symbolic Foods Text and Instructions
All of the Yehi Ratzons start out the same way:
"Yehi Ratzon Mil'fa'necha, Ad-noi El-heinu Vei'l-hai Avosainu..."
(The "-" represents the letter "o," which was purposely left out so as not to write out the
name of G-d.)
"May it be your will, Hashem our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers..."
Listed below are the various foods and the endings, which are appropriate to them:
For dates: "...She'yitamu son'ainu." "...that our enemies be consumed."
For pomegranate: "...she'nirbeh ze'chu'yos k'rimon"
"...that our merits increase like (the seeds of) a pomegranate."
For the apple in the honey: "...she'tichadesh aleinu shana tova u'm'tuka."
"...that you renew us for a good and sweet year."
For fenugreek (or carrots - as the Yiddish word for carrots - Mehren - can also mean
"to increase," this Yehi Ratzon is appropriate as well):
"...She'yir'bu ze'chuyo'sainu." "...that our merits increase."
For leek or cabbage: "...She'yikar'su son'ainu." "...that our enemies be decimated."
For beets: "...She'yistalku oy'vainu." "...that our adversaries be removed."
For gourd: "...She'yikora g'zar de'nainu v'yikaru l'fanecha zechu'yosainu."
"...that the decree of our sentence be torn up and may our merits be proclaimed before
For fish: "...She'nif'reh v'nir'beh ki'dagim." "...that we be fruitful and multiply like fish."
For the head of a fish or sheep: "...She'ni'hiyeh l'rosh v'lo l'zanav."
"...that we be as the head and not as the tail."
All of these Yehi Ratzons are said on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, after Kiddush
has been made, after the blessing over the Challos (breads) has been made and the
bread has been eaten. (There are those who have the custom to eat these foods and
recite the Yehi Ratzon on the second night as well.) After the bread has been eaten, one
should take the date, make the blessing that one would normally make on fruit [“Borei
Pri Ha’etz’], and then take a bite of the date. Before one has eaten the whole date, one
should recite the Yehi Ratzon. After the date, one can then have all, none, or some of
the other foods.

Posted 9/29/2016 11:58 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Hilchos Tisha B'Av 5776
Hilchos Tisha B'Av 5776 from Rabbi Weber

Shabbos Chazon, August 13, we daven Mincha at 5:25 p.m. The early Mincha allows time to return home for an appropriate pre-fast Seudah Shelishis. No classic pre-Tisha B'Av rules (e.g., eating on the floor, eggs, ashes et al) apply to this meal. The meal may include any foods, including meat and wine. Finish eating before sunset (8:23), when eating becomes prohibited. Other aspects of Tisha B'Av (low chair, non-leather shoes et al) are not applicable until later in the evening, when it is considered true halachic "night"

Motza'ei Shabbos is at 9:13. Wait until 9:13 and say Baruch ha-mavdil bain kodesh le-chol before doing work or making any preparations for Motza’ei Shabbos.
Our shul delays Maariv (followed by Eichah) until 9:30 to allow people to drive to shul after Shabbos.

If you begin to walk to shul for Maariv before Motza’ei Shabbos (9:13), then wear your Shabbos clothes and shoes. If that is what you plan to do, bring Tisha B'Av shoes to shul before Shabbos, (bringing them on Shabbos for Motza’ei Shabbos use is forbidden) so that you can slip into them right after the sheliach tzibbur says the Borchu of Motza’ei Shabbos Maariv. Those who leave their homes after 9:13 and say Baruch ha-mavdil bain kodesh le-chol may switch to Tisha B'Av shoes at home, although it better to wear proper shoes until after we begin Maariv.

We do not say a Motzaei Shabbos Havdalah. The aish beracha is said, on its own, on Motzaei Shabbos. You can say this aish beracha at home after having first said Baruch ha-mavdil bain kodesh le-chol, or may listen to it when it is said in shul.

The Motza’ei Tisha B’Av Havdalah is said without fire (done the previous night) or besamim. We may even use grape juice or wine for this Motza’ei Tisha B'Av Havdalah because Havdalah is a mitzva.

Ill people, who are not fasting, should use chamar medina (beer) rather than grape juice/wine for Havdalah on Motzaei Shabbos; coffee or tea may also be used, in which case cool the coffee/tea, so that it can be drunk within the short time span required by halachah. Although the ill person says Havdalah and the aish beracha on Tisha B'Av, he omits the introductory Hinei passage and the besamim.

May the Beis ha-Mikdash be rebuilt speedily in our days.

SA, OC, 552, 10
Rema, OC, 552, 10
As per Shemiras Shabbos ke'Hilchasah, 62, footnote 88
SA, OC, 556
Mishnah Berurah, 556, 3, although see Arukh ha'Shulchan, 556, 2
See Mikra'ei Kodesh, Pesach, 2, 47

Posted 8/11/2016 11:59 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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The Laws of the Nine Days - 5776:
Reprinted from Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz
1. The Talmud teaches us “When the Jewish month of Av enters, we decrease our happiness.
2. The Jewish month of Av begins Thursday night, August 4th at sunset. This begins a more intense period of national
mourning, which concludes the day after Tisha B’av, which is after Sunday, August 14th.
3. All the restrictions that began at the beginning of the Three Weeks are still in force, but they are now intensified.
4. The Talmud explains that one decreases happiness by:
▪ Decreasing one’s business activities
▪ Refraining from construction and planting intended for joyous reasons.
▪ Not conducting weddings or making a festive meal to celebrate an engagement.
5. Any construction not necessary for one’s dwelling but performed for expansion is prohibited. Similarly,
any improvement to the appearance of a house such as painting, hanging new drapes, wall papering and
all house decorating can not be done during the Nine Days.
6. Certain types of expansion building would be permitted if it were for necessary living space to accommodate more
people living in the home. Consult your local Rabbi in this issue.
7. If you hired a non-Jewish contractor to build an addition, and the contractor wants to work during the Nine Days, the
Jew is not required to prevent him from doing so. Preferably, one should offer the contractor some financial
compensation to refrain from working during the Nine days, but one is not required to offer a significant amount of
money to get him to wait until after Tisha B’av.
8. It is permitted to weed, water, or mow the lawn during the Nine Days, since these activities are not for enhancement. It
is also permitted to plant and maintain a vegetable garden during the Nine Days.
9. One may not wear new clothes during the Nine Days, nor may one tailor or purchase new clothes or shoes.
10. One who does not have appropriate shoes to wear on Tisha B’av may buy them during the Nine Days.
11. Similarly, it is prohibited to dry-clean clothes or iron them.
12. We refrain from changing tablecloths, towels, and bed linens during the Nine Days, unless it is absolutely necessary.
13. It is permitted to repair shoes and clothes during the Nine Days.
14. We refrain from doing laundry and wearing freshly laundered clothing during the Nine Days.
15. Therefore, one should prepare before Thursday night, August 4th at sunset sufficient clothing already worn since it
was last laundered. This is ideally accomplished by putting on and wearing a garment for at least a short while [1/2 hr.]
Towels should also be used at least once before the Nine Days begin in order to be able to use them.
16. If one’s clothing becomes sweaty or soiled during the Nine Days, one is permitted to change into clean clothes.
17. It is permitted to launder children’s clothes and linens during the Nine Days.
18. It is permitted to spot-clean a garment if one is concerned that the stain will set. Furthermore, it is permitted to soak a
garment that is dirty without completing its laundering in order to make it easier to clean after Tisha B’av.
19. We do not bathe or go swimming for pleasure during the Nine Days, but bathing for hygienic and health purposes is
permitted. One may go to the Mikveh. Washing only one’s face, hands, or feet with cold water is permissible at all
20. We do not eat meat or drink wine or grape juice during the Nine days. A sick person may eat meat, under doctor’s
orders. It is permitted to eat meat or drink wine for all Shabbos meals or at a Mitzva meal [such as a Bris or Siyum,
21. One may not eat fleishig [meat] leftovers from Shabbat meals or of a Mitzva meal during the remaining Nine Days. One
may not eat meat for Melava Malka.
22. It is permitted to use wine vinegar for cooking. It is also permitted to drink beer, whiskey, and other alcoholic
23. One is permitted to bathe and to put on freshly laundered clothing in honor of the Shabbat.
24. One can make Havdalah on wine or grape juice. If a young child present is old enough to make a blessing but not old
enough to understand that we do not eat meat during the Nine Days, that child should drink the Havdalah cup. If there
is no such child available, the person reciting Havdalah should drink the wine or grape juice himself. Others have a
custom to use beer for Havdallah.
25. A Jew should avoid scheduling litigation / adjudication during the Nine Days, since this is a month in which the Mazel
for Jews is bad.
26. Polishing shoes is permitted. Shining shoes in honor of the Shabbos is also permitted.
27. The Midrash teaches that Hashem will bring forth ten new creations in the era of Moshiach [e.g. death will perish
forever, everyone will be joyful, and there will be an end to all sighing and worry]. The Kaf HaChayim states that
everyone who meticulously observes the laws of the first ten days of Av, thereby demonstrating his personal mourning
over the destruction of Yerushalayim, will merit witnessing these ten miracles. May we all merit seeing these miracles
speedily and in our days.
© 2016 Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz

Posted 7/29/2016 3:48 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Halacha Corner by HaRav Yirmiya Milevsky, 

From Rosh Chodesh Av until Tisha B’Av we adopt practices of
mourning to commemorate the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash.
Home improvements and aesthetic enhancements of our yards are
avoided. We abstain from the consumption of meat -including poultryand
wine. On Shabbat, meat and wine are permitted. This applies to
any Seudat Mitzvah as well.
We do not bathe for pleasure. It is permitted to bathe in order to
remove dirt or perspiration, or for medical reasons. Bathing in warm
water is permitted on Friday in honor of Shabbat.

Posted 7/29/2016 2:52 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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The Missing Fifth
The Missing Fifth – An Extract from Rabbi Sacks’ Haggada

Many commentators, among them the Vilna Gaon, have drawn attention to the influence of the number four in connection with the Haggadah. There are four fours:

The four questions
The four sons
The four cups of wine
The four expressions of redemption: ‘I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians and free you from their slavery. I will deliver you with a demonstration of My power and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to Me as a nation.’ (Ex.6: 6-7).
It may be, though, that just as an X-ray can reveal an earlier painting beneath the surface of a later one, so beneath the surface of the Haggadah there is another pattern to be discerned. That is what I want to suggest in this chapter.

The first thing to note is that there is, in fact, another ‘four’ on the seder night, namely the four biblical verses whose exposition forms an important part of the Haggadah:

‘An Aramean tried to destroy my father . . .’
‘And the Egyptians ill-treated us and afflicted us . . .’
‘And we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers . . .’
‘And the Lord brought us out of Egypt . . .’ (Deut. 26:5-8)
There are, then, not four fours, but five.

In early editions of the Talmud tractate Pesachim (118a) there is a passage that perplexed the medieval commentators. It reads: ‘Rabbi Tarfon says: over the fifth cup we recite the great Hallel.’ The medieval commentators were puzzled by this because elsewhere the rabbinic literature speaks about four cups, not five. The Mishnah, for example, states that a poor person must be supplied with enough money to be able to buy four cups of wine. In both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds the discussion revolves around the assumption that there are four cups on seder night. How then are we to understand the statement of Rabbi Tarfon that there is a fifth cup?

Among the commentators three views emerged. The first was that of Rashi and the Tosafists. According to them, there are only four cups on the seder night, and it is forbidden to drink a fifth. The statement of Rabbi Tarfon must therefore be a misprint, and the texts of the Talmud should be amended accordingly.

The second was that of Maimonides. He holds that there is a fifth cup, but unlike the other four, it is optional rather than obligatory. The Mishnah which teaches that a poor person must be given enough money to buy four cupfuls of wine means that we must ensure that he has the opportunity to fulfil his obligation. It does not extend to the fifth cup which is permitted but not compulsory. Rabbi Tarfon’s statement is to be understood to mean that those who wish to drink a fifth cup should do so during the recitation of the great Hallel.

The third view, that of Ravad of Posquières, a contemporary of Maimonides, is that one should drink a fifth cup. There is a difference in Jewish law between an obligation, hovah, and a religiously significant good deed, mitzvah. The first four cups are obligatory. The fifth is a mitzvah, meaning, not obligatory but still praiseworthy and not merely, as Maimondes taught, optional.

Thus there was a controversy over the fifth cup. Rashi said that we should not drink it; Maimonides that we may; Ravad that we should. What does one do, faced with this kind of disagreement? Jewish law tries wherever possible to propose a solution that pays respect to all views, especially when they are held by great halakhic authorities. The solution in the present case was simple. A fifth cup is poured (out of respect for Ravad and Maimonides) but not drunk (out of respect for Rashi).

When a disagreement occurs in the Talmud which is not resolved, the sages often used the word Teyku, ‘Let it stand’. We believe that such disagreements will be resolved in the time to come when Elijah arrives to announce the coming of the Messiah. One of his roles will be to rule on unresolved halakhic controversies. An allusion to this is to be found in the word Teyku itself, which was read as an abbreviation of Tishbi Yetaretz Kushyot Ve’ibbayot, ‘The Tishbite, Elijah, will answer questions and difficulties.’ This therefore is the history behind ‘the cup of Elijah’ – the cup we fill after the meal but do not drink. It represents the ‘fifth cup’ mentioned in the Talmud.

According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the reason we have four cups of wine is because of the four expressions of redemption in God’s promise to Moses. How then could Rabbi Tarfon suggest that there are not four cups but five? The fascinating fact is that if we look at the biblical passage there are not four expressions of redemption but five. The passage continues: ‘And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’ (Exodus 6: 8)

There is a further missing fifth. As mentioned above, during the course of reciting the Haggadah we expound four biblical verses, beginning with, ‘An Aramean tried to destroy my father.’ In biblical times, this was the declaration made by someone bringing first-fruits to Jerusalem. However, if we turn to the source we discover that there is a fifth verse to this passage: ‘He brought us to this place [the land of Israel] and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey’ (Deuteronomy. 26: 9). We do not recite or expound this verse at the seder table. But this strange since the Mishnah states explicitly, ‘And one must expound the passage beginning, “An Aramean tried to destroy my father” until one has completed the whole passage.’ In fact we do not complete the whole passage, despite the Mishnah’s instruction.

So there are three ‘missing fifths’ – the fifth cup, the fifth expression of redemption, and the fifth verse. It is also clear why. All three refer to God not merely bringing the Jewish people out of Egypt but also bringing them into the land of Israel. The Haggadah as we now have it and as it evolved in rabbinic times is, in Maimonides words, ‘the Haggadah as practised in the time of exile,’ meaning, during the period of the Dispersion. The missing fifth represented the missing element in redemption. How could Jews celebrate arriving in the land of Israel when they were in exile? How could they drink the last cup of redemption when they had said at the beginning of the seder, ‘This year slaves, next year free; this year here, next year in the land of Israel’?

The fifth cup – poured but not drunk – was like the cup broken at Jewish weddings. It was a symbol of incompletion. It meant that as long as Jews were dispersed throughout the world, facing persecution and danger, they could not yet celebrate to the full. One great sage of the twentieth century, the late Rabbi Menahem Kasher, argued that now that there is a State of Israel, many exiles have been ingathered and Jews have recovered their sovereignty and land, the fifth cup should be re-instated. That remains for the halakhic authorities to decide.

What, though, of the four questions and the four sons? There was a fifth question. The Mishnah states that a child should ask: ‘On all other nights we eat meat that is cooked, boiled or roasted; but this night only roasted meat.’ This text can still be found in the early manuscripts of the Haggadah discovered in the Cairo genizah. It refers to the time when the Temple stood and the food eaten at the seder night included the paschal offering, which was roasted. After the Temple was destroyed and the practice of eating a paschal lamb was discontinued, this question was dropped and another (about reclining) substituted.

Was there a fifth child? The late Lubavitcher Rebbe suggested that there is a fifth child on Pesach. The four children of the Haggadah are all present, sitting round the table. The fifth child is the one who is not there, the child lost through outmarriage and assimilation. Rabbinic tradition tells us that in Egypt, many Jews assimilated and did not want to leave. The Torah uses a phrase to describe the Israelites’ departure from Egypt, Vachamushim alu bnei Yisrael miMitzrayim (Exodus 13: 18). This is normally translated as ‘The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.’ However Rashi, citing earlier authorities, suggests that hamush may not mean ‘armed.’ Instead it may be related to the word hamesh, ‘five’. The sentence could therefore be translated as, ‘Only a fifth of the Israelites left Egypt.’

The rest, he explains, perished in the plague of darkness. The plague itself was less an affliction of the Egyptians than a way of covering the shame of the Israelites, that so many of their number did not want to leave. The loss of Jews through assimilation has been an ongoing tragedy of Jewish history. How do we allude to it on seder night? By silence: the fifth child – the one who is not there.

So the beneath the surface of the Haggadah we find, not four fours, but five fives. In each case there is a missing fifth – a cup, an expression of deliverance, a verse, a question and a child. Each points to something incomplete in our present situation. In the half-century since the Holocaust the Jewish people has emerged from darkness to light. The State of Israel has come into being. The Hebrew language has been reborn. Jews have been brought to safety from the countries where they faced persecution. In the liberal democracies of the West Jews have gained freedom, and even prominence and affluence.

But Israel is not yet at peace. In the Diaspora assimilation continues apace. Many Jews are estranged from their people and their faith. Something is missing from our celebration – the fifth cup, the fifth deliverance, the fifth verse, the fifth question and the fifth child. That is a measure of what is still to be achieved. We have not yet reached our destination. The missing fifths remind us of work still to be done, a journey not yet complete. CHAG SAMEACH

Posted 4/21/2016 3:39 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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How to Celebrate Purim - 5776: Happy Purim
by Rabbi Michalowicz
Purim is celebrated this year on Wednesday evening March 23th and Thursday March 24th.
1 – Fast of Esther:
1. The fast is on Wednesday, March 4th.
2. The fast begins at 5:48 A.M. and ends at 8:25 P.M. Those who find fasting very difficult may eat at 8:10
3. All adult males and females over Bar/Bat Mitzvah are obligated to fast.
4. Pregnant and Nursing women are exempt from fasting.
5. A person who is ill [even if it is not serious] is not permitted to fast.
6. One should not fast even if one only has a severe headache.
7. Children under bar/bat Mitzvah do not need to fast even for a few hours. Nevertheless, they should not be
given treats.
8. You may take medications prescribed by a doctor. One, who has difficulty swallowing pills without water, may
drink the amount of water required to swallow them.
9. One may rinse the mouth only if bad taste causes discomfort. Only a small amount of liquid should be used
while leaning forwards in order to minimize the chance of it being swallowed.
10. One is permitted to eat before the fast, provided that one explicitly states before going to sleep that he/she
plans to wake up early to eat before the fast begins.
11. Bathing is permitted even with hot water.
12. It is permitted to listen to music.
13. The special “Aneinu” prayer is said during the Mincha Amida by those who are fasting.
14. “Avinu Malkeinu” is said during Shacharis, but not during Mincha.
2 - The Half Shekel:
1. On the Fast of Esther [usually around Mincha time], there is a custom to give three coins to charity. Each coin
should be the denomination of ½ the standard currency in that country [e.g. ½ a dollar].
2. If one does not have the correct coins, he should purchase them [optimally for approximately $15] from the
charity box, and then put them back into the charity box.
3. All adult males are obliged in this Mitzvah. The custom is that a father gives on behalf of his sons, whatever
their ages.
4. The custom is that women are not obliged to give.
5. The money collected should be given to the poor.
6. If one forgot to give it on Erev Purim, he should give the money on Purim morning before the Megilah reading.
7. One may not use his “Ma’aser [charity] money” to fulfill this Mitzvah.
3 – Prayers on Purim:
1. We recite the “Al Hanisim” prayer during all 3 Amidas and for Birchas Hamazon. If one forgets to say it, he
need not repeat the Amida or Birchas Hamazon.
2. ‘Tachanun” and “Lamenatzeach” are omitted during Shacharis.
3. The Torah is read during Shacharis – before the Megilah reading.
4. One should not pray while dressed in a costume. One must dress respectfully during davening.
5. If a person is intoxicated to the extent that he would not be able to speak respectfully to an important official,
he may not pray. If he is only slightly intoxicated, to the extent that he would be able to speak respectfully to an
important official, it is nonetheless not correct to pray. However, the custom is to be lenient and allow prayer in
this state, although ideally he should wait until he is sober.
4- Work on Purim:
1. All forms of work are permitted on the evening of Purim.
2. The custom is to prohibit going to work on the day of Purim. The Rabbis of the Talmud tell us that
whoever works on Purim will not see any blessing from it.
3. Work is permitted in the following situations:
• If not working will cause financial loss
• Work that is necessary for a Mitzvah
• Work that is required for Purim
4. One may ask a non-Jew to do all forms of work for the Jew.
5. Laundering is prohibited unless the clothes are necessary for Purim.
6. It is permitted to shave or take a haircut if it is done in order to look presentable on Purim itself.
7. It is forbidden to cut one’s nails.
8. The custom is to wear Shabbos clothes on Purim. One should keep his Shabbos clothes on through
the evening of Purim while hearing the Megilah.
5 – Reading /Hearing the Megilah:
1. Men and women over bar/bat Mitzvah are obligated to hear the Megilah twice – one time at night and one time
in the morning.
2. Children who are mature enough to listen attentively to the Megilah reading should do so. Preferably, such
children should be brought to hear the public reading. However, they must be properly supervised during
the reading and should understand that they have not been brought to Shul simply for the fun of banging at
Haman. Young children who are likely to cause a disturbance and prevent others from hearing the
Megilah should not brought to Shul for Megilah reading.
3. The earliest time to read the Megilah is after nightfall –8:25 P.M. The earliest correct time to read the
Megilah in the morning is after sunrise – 7:13 A.M. The Megilah can be read all day long until sunset.
4. Before reading or listening to the Megilah one should have in mind that they are fulfilling the Mitzvah of reading
or hearing the Megilah. Additionally, the reader should have in mind to include all the listeners who wish to
fulfill their obligation.
5. Three blessings are made by the reader before reading the Megilah in the evening and in the morning:
• “Al Mikra Megilah”
• “She’asa Nisim”
• “Shehechiyanu”
6. One should stand when saying or hearing the blessings.
7. When listening to the blessings, you should have in mind that you are fulfilling your obligation. When hearing
the “Shehechiyanu” blessing in the day, one should have in mind to include all the special Mitzvos of Purim.
The reader should have in mind that he is reciting the blessings on behalf of the entire congregation.
8. If a person arrives to Shul in the middle of the blessings:
• If there is sufficient time, he should quickly say the blessings himself, taking care that they are
completed before the reading begins.
• If there is insufficient time to say all the blessings, he should say as many of the blessings that he can.
• If there is not enough time to recite any of the blessings, he should preferably attend another reading
where the blessings will be heard.
• If this is very inconvenient, he may listen to the Megilah without hearing the blessings.
9. A special blessing is made after the evening Megilah reading in the presence of a Minyan. “Shoshanas
Yaakov” is sung after the Megilah reading.
10. The listeners may sit during the reading of the Megilah. The reader should stand when reading to a minyan,
but may lean if necessary.
11. One must hear very word of the Megilah. If a person missed even one word he has not fulfilled his
obligation. Therefore, it is mandatory to arrive on time for Megilah reading.
12. If a person did not hear some words, he should immediately say the words himself. However, this creates a
problem since the reader continues to read the Megilah while the person is saying the missed words, thereby
causing him to miss further words. Therefore, he must say the missed words and continue reading until he
overtakes the reader, at which point he may resume listening.
13. It is forbidden for both the reader and listener to speak from the beginning of the first blessing until the end of
the after blessing. Parents must be aware of this when bringing young children to the reading.
14. There are four verses of the Megilah which are read out loud before the reader. They are the following:
• Chapter 2, verse 5
• Chapter 8, verse 15
• Chapter 8, verse 16.
• Chapter 10, verse 3
15. In addition, it is customary for the congregation to say the names of the ten suns of Haman out loud.
16. It is a time honored tradition to bang / make noise every time the name of Haman is mentioned in the Megilah.
Nevertheless, excessive noise and tumult should be discouraged since this often prevents people
from hearing clearly.
17. In order to enhance the Mitzvah and make greater publicity of the miracle, both men and women should make
every effort to attend a public reading in Shul. Even if one can organize a minyan at home, it is better to join
the congregation.
18. If it is impossible for a person to attend Shul, he must hear the Megilah read at home from a Kosher Megilah.
6 – “Matanos Le’Evyonim” – Gifts to the Poor:
1. One must give one gift each to at least two poor people. The gift may be either money or food. The Mitzvah
should be performed on Purim during the daytime. It is preferable to do it after the Megilah reading without
2. One may give money to a charity collector before Purim if the charity collector will distribute the money to the
poor people only on the day of Purim for the purpose of fulfilling this Mitzvah.
3. Each person should be given at least the amount of food that is eaten at a regular meal or the amount of
money required to buy this. [approximately $25 per poor person]
4. It is recommended to give more than this minimum amount of money and amount of poor people. It is better
to spend more on this Mitzvah than on the other Mitzvos of Purim.
5. A check may be given if it can be easily exchanged for cash.
6. “Ma’aser [charity] Money” may be used for any of these donations, except for the minimum two gifts [valued at
7. Women and children over bar/bat Mitzvah are also obligated in this Mitzvah. Although a married woman may
rely on her husband to give on her behalf, nevertheless it is preferable for her to perform the Mitzvah
personally. The same applies for the children. A practical solution would be to do the following: The husband
could give some money to a poor person or charity collector stating that it is on behalf of his wife. The poor
person / charity collector should have in mind to acquire the money on behalf of the woman, and she should
know that the procedure is being used for her. The same applies for the adult children.
8. Children aged six or seven should be trained to perform this Mitzvah. The above methods can be used as well
for them.
7 – “Mishloach Manos” – Sending Food:
1. On the day of Purim, one must send two items of food to at least on person. It is praiseworthy to send to many
people, but see 6:4 above.
2. Preferably, one should send food that is ready to be eaten immediately
3. The two food items must be different. However, it is not necessary for the items to require two different
blessings. Drinks are also suitable. One may send two different food items or two different drinks, or one food
and one drink.
4. The food should be a respectable quantity according to the standards of the sender and recipient. Therefore,
one should send a nicer package to a wealthy person than to a poor person, and a wealthy person should
send a nicer package than a poor person.
5. One should send at least one nice package to one person and any additional packages may be ‘token’
packages. This is better than sending a large number of small ‘token’ packages.
6. One is not permitted to use his “Ma’aser [charity] money” for this Mitzvah. If a person wishes to send several
packages to poor people he may use his “Ma’aser money” for all but the first package.
7. Women and children over Bar/Bat Mitzvah are obligated in this Mitzvah.
8. According to some opinions, a package may be sent on behalf of the entire family. That package should have
two food items for every family member sending the package. According to another opinion, only a husband
and wife can send together, but children should send on their own. If children prepare their own packages from
food in their parents’ home, they should be allowed to acquire the food before sending it.
9. Children aged six or seven should be trained to perform the Mitzvah.
10. It is praiseworthy to send packages to Jews who know little about Torah. This will arouse their interest
in Jewish practices and increase love and friendship between Jews. In a similar vein, this is an ideal
opportunity to repair broken relationships by sending packages to people with whom one has ill
11. One may not send a package to a mourner. If another family member is not in mourning, the package may be
addressed to the family.
12. A mourner is obligated to send one package, but the package should not be too elaborate.
13. If a person receives a package, it is praiseworthy to reciprocate and send one in return, but it is not an
14. According to the prevalent custom, one may give the package personally. According to some opinions, it is
preferable to send the package via a third person. One may use a child as a messenger, but must confirm that
the package was delivered. A reliable delivery service may be used.
15. Anonymous packages should be avoided. The recipient should know who has sent them the package.
8 – “Seudas Purim” – Feasting & Rejoicing:
1. The main Mitzvah is to have a festive meal on the day of Purim. In addition, one should have a nicer meal than
usual on the evening of Purim.
2. The table should be set nicely for the evening meal. Some have a custom to light candles.
3. There is a custom to eat seeds and pod foods such as rice, peas, and beans. It is not necessary to eat bread
at this meal.
4. It is customary to eat “Hamantashen” with a filling made of poppy-seed.
5. The prevalent custom is to eat bread and beef at the daytime meal.
6. Some women have a custom to drink a little wine in honor of the day. It is not necessary for children to drink
7. One should set a spiritual tone for this meal by doing the following:
• Spend a little time studying Torah before the meal. There is a special Mitzvah to begin studying the
laws of Pesach on Purim.
• Have in mind that eating the meal is a Mitzvah.
• Relate the Purim miracles and sing praise to Hashem during the meal.
8. It is a Mitzvah for men to drink wine. According to some opinions there is an obligation to become dunk until he
can no longer distinguish between ‘Cursed be Haman’ and ‘Blessed be Mordechai.’ According to other
opinions, one is only requite to drink more than the usual, but not to the point of getting drunk. One should
then go to sleep and thereby be unable to distinguish between ‘Cursed be Haman’ and ‘Blessed be
9. The Sages certainly did not want people to make a fool of themselves and behave with frivolity and
disgrace. The intention is to come closer to Hashem, using joy to reach great heights of love and
praise for Hashem. A person who knows that intoxication will prevent him from making blessings or
praying properly, or will lead him to light-headedness, should follow the second opinion. Everything
that one does should be purely for the sake of Heaven.
10. It is preferable to fulfill this Mitzvah by drinking wine only. A person who wishes may have other alcoholic
drinks after some wine.
11. The main obligation is to drink during the festive meal. If a person wishes to fulfill the Mitzvah by sleeping, he
should drink a little wine during the meal and go to sleep after Birchas Hamazon. Sufficient time should be left
to sleep before nightfall.
12. One should refrain from drinking too much if alcoholic drinks are harmful to him.
13. It is customary to wear costumes and masks on Purim.
14. One should refrain from dressing in costumes of the opposite gender. The same applies for children.
15. If a person insulted someone while intoxicated, he is required to ask for forgiveness.
16. Although it is customary to have Purim ‘shtik’ [plays, skits, songs, etc.] – it is forbidden to insult or embarrass
people even in jest.

Posted 3/18/2016 5:21 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Why Hanukkah is the perfect festival for religious freedom - Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
This post was first published on the 'Acts of Faith' blog of The Washington Post on Sunday 6 December 2015

Hanukkah is the festival on which Jews celebrate their victory in the fight for religious freedom more than two thousand years ago. Tragically that fight is no less important today, and not only for Jews, but for people of all faiths.
The Jewish story is simple enough. In around 165 BCE Antiochus IV, ruler of the Syrian branch of the Alexandrian empire, began to impose Greek culture on the Jews of the land of Israel. Funds were diverted from the Temple to public games and drama competitions. A statue of Zeus was erected in Jerusalem. Jewish religious rituals such as circumcision and the observance of the Sabbath were banned. Those who kept them were persecuted. It was one of the great crises in Jewish history. There was a real possibility that Judaism, the world’s first monotheism, would be eclipsed.

A group of Jewish pietists rose in rebellion. Led by a priest, Mattathias of Modi’in, and his son Judah the Maccabee, they began the fight for liberty. Outnumbered, they suffered heavy initial casualties, but within three years they had secured a momentous victory. Jerusalem was restored to Jewish hands. The Temple was rededicated. The celebrations lasted for eight days. Hanukkah, which means “rededication”, was established as a festival to perpetuate the memory of those days.

Almost twenty-two centuries have passed since then, yet today religious liberty, enshrined as article 18 in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is at risk in many parts of the world. Christians are being persecuted throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. In Mosul, Iraq’s second city, Christians have been kidnapped, tortured, crucified and beheaded. The Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has been driven out. Yazidis, members of an ancient religious sect, have been threatened with genocide.

In Nigeria Boko Haram, an Islamist group, has captured Christian children and sold them as slaves. In Madagali, Christian men were taken and beheaded, and the women forcibly converted to Islam and taken by the terrorists as wives. Nor has Boko Haram limited itself to persecuting Christians. It has targeted the Muslim establishment as well, and was probably behind the attack on the Grand Mosque in Kano.

Sectarian religious violence in the Central African Republic has led to the destruction of almost all its 436 mosques. In Burma, 140,000 Rohingya Muslims and 100,000 Kachin Christians have been forced to flee. No wonder that the 2015 report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom speaks of “humanitarian crises fuelled by waves of terror, intimidation and violence.”

Countries where the crisis is acute include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. In Syria alone, where some of the worst crimes against humanity are taking place, 6.5 million people are internally displaced while 3.3 million have become refugees elsewhere.

Nor is the violence confined to these places. As became evident in the recent terrorist outrage in Paris in which 130 people were murdered, globalization means that conflict anywhere can be exported everywhere. It would be hard to find a precedent in recent history for this widening wave of chaos and barbarity. The end of the Cold War has turned out to be not the start of an era of peace but instead an age of proliferating tribal, ethnic and religious clashes. Region after region has been reduced to what Thomas Hobbes called “the war of every man against every man”, in which life becomes “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

Is there a way forward? More than half a century ago the Oxford philosopher John Plamenatz noted that religious freedom was born in Europe in the seventeenth century after a devastating series of religious wars. All it took was a single shift, from the belief that “Faith is the most important thing; therefore everyone should honour the one true faith”, to the belief that “Faith is the most important thing; therefore everyone should be free to honour his or her own faith.”

This meant that people of all faiths were guaranteed that whichever religion was dominant, he or she would still be free to obey their own call of conscience. Plamenatz’s striking conclusion was that “Liberty of conscience was born, not of indifference, not of scepticism, not of mere open-mindedness, but of faith.” The very fact that my religion is important to me allows me to understand that your quite different religion is no less important to you.

It took much bloodshed before people were prepared to acknowledge this simple truth, which is why we must never forget the lessons of the past if we are to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Hanukkah reminds us that people will fight for religious freedom, and the attempt to deprive them of it will always end in failure.

The symbol of Hanukkah is the menorah we light for eight days in memory of the Temple candelabrum, purified and rededicated by the Maccabees all those centuries ago. Faith is like a flame. Properly tended, it gives light and warmth, but let loose, it can burn and destroy. We need, in the twenty-first century, a global Hanukkah: a festival of freedom for all the world’s faiths. For though my faith is not yours and your faith is not mine, if we are each free to light our own flame, together we can banish some of the darkness of the world

Posted 12/10/2015 6:15 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Laws of Chanukah By Rabbi Michalowicz
General Laws and Customs:
1. There is no requirement to have a festive meal on Chanukah. According to some opinions, there is a
Mitzvah to have festive meals to celebrate the rededication of the Temple. In order for such a meal to
be considered a Seudas Mitzvah [Mitzvah meal], one should sing songs and praises to Hashem and
talk about the great miracles.
2. It is customary to eat foods fried in oil such as latkes and doughnuts. It is also customary to eat dairy
3. The blessing on eating Latkes depends on how they were prepared. If they are made from potato
flour, the blessing is Shehakol. If they are made from grated potatoes and you can recognize pieces of
potato, the blessing is “Borei Pri Hoadama.” The blessing for doughnuts is Borei Minei Mezonos.”
4. It is forbidden to fast on Chanukah, even if one has a Yahrtzeit for a parent.
5. It is customary not to visit graves of relatives on Chanukah. We do not say the “E-l Molei Rachamim”
prayer for the deceased. It is permitted to visit graves of Tzaddikim.
6. It is customary for children to play with a Dreidel.
7. There is a special Mitzvah to give charity on Chanukah, and in particular to support needy Torah
students. This is where the widespread custom of giving Chanukah Gelt to children came from.
8. There is no Jewish source that discusses a concept of “gift giving” on Chanukah.
9. There is a Mitzvah to devote extra time to Torah study on Chanukah.
10. All forms of work are permitted on Chanukah. Women have a custom to refrain from work every
evening for the first ½ hour while the Menorah is lit. The main custom is for women to refrain from
heavy household chores such as laundering, house cleaning, ironing, and sewing.
Prayers on Chanukah:
1. The whole Hallel is said every day of Chanukah.
2. Tachanun and Lamnatzeach are omitted.
3. The Al Hanisim prayer is added to the Amida during the blessing of Modim. It is also inserted to the
Birchas Hamazon in the second blessing. If one totally forgets to say this prayer, one is not required
to repeat the Amida or Birchas Hamazon.
4. There is no special prayer added to the blessing of Al Mamichya.”
The Menorah, Oil, and Wicks:
1. There is a concept of “Hidur Mitzvah” [beautifying the Mitzvah] on Chanukah. Therefore, one should
try to obtain as beautiful a Menorah as possible, according to one’s means. The order of preference
for materials of a Menorah is silver, copper, other metals, glass, wood, and china.
2. One may not use eggshells or hollowed out materials to make the Menorah, since this disgraces the
3. The Menorah lights should stand in a straight line and all at the same height. Therefore, one should
not buy a Menorah whose branches are in a staggered position or of differing heights.
How to Celebrate Chanukah:
4. One may light without the use of a Menorah, since the Menorah enhances the Mitzvah, but is not
essential for its fulfillment. A person could light with oil using several cups placed in a straight line. If
candles are being used, they may be fixed in a row onto a tray or similar surface.
5. A Menorah does not need to be taken to the Mikveh.
6. It is preferable to use oil when performing the Mitzvah of lighting, since the miracle in the Temple
happened with oil. Olive oil is the most preferred type of oil since the miracle happened with olive
oil. Other oils or paraffin are acceptable if they burn with a clear flame. Solidified oil is considered
equally good as regular oil, since it melts as it buns. One is also permitted to light with candles.
7. Although the oil is only being burned and not eaten, one should use only kosher oil. 100% virgin oil
is acceptable even without a kosher certification.
8. One should not light with a mixture of oil and candles. All the lights should be either oil or candles.
However, you may use oil on one night and candles on another night.
9. All wicks may be used, but the most ideal is cotton, wool, or linen.
10. According to the basic law, it is not necessary to replace the wicks every night. However, there are
different customs regarding if one should use new wicks every night.
11. One may not disgrace used wicks by throwing them away in the garbage. One should wrap them in a
bag before discarding them.
12. Electric lights are not valid for the Mitzvah of the Menorah.
Who Lights the Menorah? :
1. According to the basic law, it is sufficient to light one Menorah per household, irrespective of the
number of family members. However, the Ashkenazic custom is to beautify the Mitzvah by having
each male member of the family light a separate Menorah. A woman living on her own is required to
light a Menorah.
2. Although the custom is not to do so, daughters may light their own Menorah in addition to the
father’s lighting. The wife should not light since she is considered one unit with her husband.
3. The custom is to educate boys to light their own menorahs from the age of six or seven. In families
where daughters also light, girls of six or seven may light their own Menorah, although they have no
obligation to do so. Children should be given oil or candles that will stay lit for the required length of
4. If the husband is out of town, either the wife or a son over Bar Mitzvah should light the Menorah on
behalf of the family.
Where to Light? :
1. There is a concept of “Pirsumei Nisa” [publicizing the miracle] of Chanukah. Therefore, the most
ideal place to light the Menorah is outside the door of the house that faces the street. When lighting
outside, the Menorah should be placed in a protective glass case.
2. The Menorah should be placed on the left side of the entrance [opposite the Mezuzah]. Ideally, the
Menorah should be placed in the space of the doorway, or at least within approximately 10 cm. of the
doorpost. [If there is no Mezuzah on the entrance, the Menorah should be placed on the right side.]
3. Ideally, the Menorah should be placed so that the flame is above 30 cm. from the ground and lower
than one meter from the ground. This demonstrates that the Menorah has been lit for the Mitzvah.
4. If the Menorah will not be seen from the street if it is placed next to the door, then it should be lit
inside the house by a window that can be seen from the street.
5. When many people are lighting, you only require one Menorah to be lit by the outside entrance.
Others should light by the window facing the street.
6. If a person has neither a door nor a window that can be seen from the street, then the Menorah should
be placed on the left side of the doorway leading into the room that is most used during the evening.
7. Several people may light by the same window, but effort should be made to space the Menorahs apart,
so that one can easily see the number of lights in each Menorah. If several suitable windows are
available, it is preferable for each person to light by a different window.
8. In case of fire hazards or if there are little children and it is dangerous to light in the above mentioned
places, one should light on a table that is safe and out of reach of the little children.
When to Light? :
1. There are two main customs about when is the correct time to light: a) sunset, b) at nightfall. For this
year of 5776, that means that sunset is at 4:40 PM on every night of Chanukah, and nightfall is
5:30 PM on every night of Chanuka. Some opinions suggest a compromise and recommend lighting
ten to twenty minutes after sunset. However, on the seventh night of Chanuka, which is on
Saturday night, one must light after nightfall.
2. If at all possible, a person should attempt to light within ½ hour after nightfall. If this is not possible,
he may light any time during the evening until Halachik dawn.
3. If the entire night passed without lighting, the Mitzvah has been lost and it cannot be made up. On the
next night, he should light the same number as anyone else, even though he missed a night.
4. If one lights at nightfall or later, the lights must be able to burn for at least ½ hour. If one lights before
nightfall, they must be able to burn until ½ hour after nightfall.
5. It is customary to leave the lights burn themselves out. However, if it is necessary [e.g. everyone is
leaving and there could be risk of fire] one may extinguish the lights after the required ½ hour.
6. If sufficient oil or candles were placed in the Menorah when it was lit, the Mitzvah has been fulfilled,
even if the lights went out within the required time. Although one is not obligated to rekindle the
lights, it is correct to do so. The blessings should not be repeated when relighting the Menorah.
Lighting the Menorah:
1. According to the basic requirement, it is sufficient to kindle one light each night. However, the
universally accepted custom is to beautify the Mitzvah by kindling one light on the first night and
adding an additional light each night, until eight lights are kindled on the eighth night.
2. One should begin on the first night by lighting from the right end of the Menorah as one faces it. This
applies whether the Menorah is placed next to the doorway, inside the doorway, or by a window.
3. Each night, an additional light is placed next to those of the previous night, gradually filling up the
Menorah towards the left. When lighting the Menorah, one kindles the newest light first, i.e. the
left-most one and proceed to light from left to right.
4. When lighting, one should stand close to the newest light which is kindled first, slightly to the left of
the lights. When lighting in this fashion, one does not pass over the lights before kindling the leftmost
5. One is required to light a Shamash [additional light], since the lights of the Menorah are holy and one
may not derive any personal benefit from them.
6. The Ashkenazic custom is to light the Shamash before the blessings are recited. After reciting the
blessings, the Shamash is used for kindling the Chanukah lights and is then placed in the Menorah.
7. It is customary to use a candle for the Shamash. However, oil is also acceptable for the Shamash.
8. The Shamash should be placed away from the other lights, to distinguish it from them. If the Shamash
is close to the other lights it should be placed higher than the rest. If this is difficult, it may be laced
lower. If candles are being used, one may use a longer candle for the Shamash.
9. If several Menorahs are lit, each one still requires a Shamash.
10. Before beginning to light, the head of the household should call together all the members of the
family to watch the lighting.
11. On the first night of Chanukah, three blessings are recited. See Artscroll Siddur pg. 782. On the
following nights, only the first two blessings are recited.
12. The lights should only be kindled after al the blessings have been recited.
13. One should not speak until all the lights have been kindled unless the conversation concerns the
14. After lighting, one should not remove the flame of the Shamash from the wick until most of it [which
extends above the oil] is lit.
15. After the first light has been kindled, it is customary to sing “Haneros Hallalu,” while kindling the
remaining lights.
16. After “Haneros Hallalu,” the custom is to sing “Maoz Tzur.”
17. After the Menorah has been lit, it should not be moved to another location, unless a sudden fire
hazard has developed.
18. Strictly speaking it is not necessary to remain by the lights for the first ½ hour, since the Mitzvah is
fulfilled at the moment of lighting. However, some have the custom to remain by the lights whenever
19. It is forbidden to have any personal benefit from the lights, such as: a) reading by their light, b) eating
a meal by their light, and 3) lighting a candle from their flames. One may not even eat a Mitzvah meal
or learn Torah by their light. Only if another light is lit in the room are such activities permitted.
20. One should not kindle one Chanukah light [or the Shamash] from another one, for the same Menorah
or a different one. The Shamash is the light designated for kindling or re-kindling all the other lights.
21. Oil that remains in the Menorah at the end of the night may be reused the next evening. Any
remaining oil in the Menorah after the eighth day may not be used for anything else. [It is even
forbidden to use such oil for another Mitzvah e.g. Shabbos lights.] It should be burned. The same is
true for the used wicks at the end of Chanukah.
22. Leftover oil in the bottle that has not been designated for the Mitzvah of lighting may be used for any
Shabbos Issues:
1. Since kindling the Chanukah lights take up time, and Friday winter afternoons are short, one should
be extra careful to leave work earlier than usual in order to fulfill all the Mitzvos properly before
2. On Friday afternoon, one should preferably daven Mincha before lighting the Menorah. If this is not
possible, one may daven Mincha after lighting the Menorah.
3. The Chanukah Menorah should be lit before the Shabbos lights.
4. Ideally, the wife should light the Shabbos lights only after the Chanukah lights have been lit.
However, if time is short she may kindle the Shabbos lights as soon as her husband has kindled one
Chanukah light. She also need not wait for other Menorahs to be lit, if time is short.
5. If the husband is not ready to light the Menorah and time is short, the wife may light the Shabbos
lights first, and the husband may still light the Menorah afterwards, provided it is still before sunset.
6. The optimal time is to light the Shabbos lights 18 minutes before sunset; and to complete all the
Chanukah lighting before the Shabbos lights. The earliest time to light Chanukah or Shabbos lights is
1 ¼ Halachik hours before sunset. It is forbidden to light Chanukah or Shabbos lights after sunset.
7. The Chanukah lights must be capable of burning until ½ hour after nightfall. This year in 5776,
sunset is at 4:40 PM. And nightfall is at 5:30 PM. Shabbos candles must be lit by 4:22 PM, and
the Chanukah candles must be lit before that. The Chanukah candles must burn from before
4:22 PM until at least 6:00 PM. Therefore, on Friday afternoon one must be especially careful to
use sufficient oil or long candles for at least 1½ hours. It is strictly forbidden to kindle on Friday
afternoon the standard small candles or small quantities of oil which only light for ½ hour.
8. Young children, who light on Friday afternoon, should preferably light with candles or oil that will
burn for 1 1/2 hours as well.
9. On Saturday night, the main custom at home is to recite Havdalah before lighting the Menorah. Some
have the custom to light the Menorah first.
10. A person who lights the Menorah first may not use the lights for Havdalah since it is forbidden to
benefit from the Chanukah lights, even for another Mitzvah.
There are three Brachos (blessings) which are recited when the Chanukah candles are lit.
1. "Baruch ata Ado-nai, Elo-heinu Melech ha'olam, Asher kid'shanu b'mitzvosav v'tzivanu
l'hadlik ner shel Chanukah"
Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His
commandments, and has commanded us to Kindle the Chanukah light.
2. "Baruch ata Ado-nai, Elo-heinu Melech ha'olam, She'asah nisim la'avoseinu, bayamim
ha'hem baz'man hazeh"
Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our
forefathers, in those days at this season.
3. Recited on the first night only
"Baruch ata Ado-nai, Elo-heinu Melech ha'olam, She'hecheyanu, vekiyemanu vehigi'anu
laz'man hazeh"
Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained
us, and brought us to this season.
Please treat any document with Hashem’s name with respect and put into “Sheimos” when done with.
© 2015 Rabbi Yossi Michalowicz

Posted 12/3/2015 11:12 PM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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  The Mesilas Yesharim writes that man was created to have pleasure. Not just any pleasure, rather "to delight in Hashem and have pleasure from the radiance of His Shechina." Moreover, Chazal tell us that in the World to Come there is no eating or drinking; the righteous sit with crowns on their heads and they derive pleasure from the radiance of the Shechina. Pleasure is what dominates the timeline from one’s birth until all of eternity.

      Additionally Rav Wolbe writes (Da’as Shlomo Geulah pg. 207) that pleasure is the determining factor behind all of our actions. The question is only what gives a person pleasure. "Tell me what you enjoy and I will tell you who you are!" Determining what gives a person pleasure, is the litmus test for determining his essence. Even if most of one’s pleasures revolve around physical gratification, does he also, from time to time, obtain enjoyment in the spiritual arena? Does he delight in performing a kindness for another, from connecting to Hashem through prayer, from the profundity of Chazal or an ingenious Torah thought? This is a question everyone should ask himself. Indeed, this is one of the lessons that we can glean from the story of Purim.

      Chazal tell us that the three days of fasting that Esther instituted, had another purpose besides enabling the Jews to pray with more feeling. The fast was meant to counteract the physical pleasures they enjoyed when they participated in Achashveirosh’s party. As the Gemara states, the decree to kill the Jews came in wake of their participating in that party. However, we must ask, "If all the food was kosher and no one was forced to drink anything, what could possibly be so terrible in partaking of the festivities, that as a result, all of Shushan’s Jew’s were slated for annihilation?" The answer is that instead of focusing their sense of pleasure toward the spiritual realm and thereby gaining eternity, they directed their pleasure toward the physical. They immersed themselves in a hedonistic party that was focused entirely on entrenching the body in pleasure. Only after they fasted and put the physical pleasures in the right perspective, did they merit salvation from their enemies.

      Rav Wolbe related that he remembered a G-d fearing learned man in Germany who stated that as long as he has Wagner’s music, he can’t possibly feel dejected. How could it be that such a Torah scholarly man found his non physical pleasures outside the realm of Torah?

      We read in the Megillah (8, 15), "And the Jews had light, happiness, joy and honor." Chazal tell us that this refers to the light of Torah the happiness of Yom Tov, the joy of bris milah and the honor of tefillin. The Jews came to a new perception of pleasure, and they acknowledged that true light, happiness, joy and honor are obtained through the Torah and mitzvos.

      We ask of Hashem, "Please make the Torah pleasurable in our mouths." "V’hareiv" - "make pleasurable", shares the same root as the word "hitareiv" - "to blend" because the things in which one finds pleasure blend into the very essence and makeup of that person. Although we are flesh and blood and are therefore automatically connected to the physical pleasures, we should strive to integrate the Torah into our flesh and blood. This will enable us to enjoy the greatest pleasures in the entire world!
Bais Hamussar Schedule: 
7:45 PM - 9:30 PM
Eitzos and Hadracha by prominent, experienced Mashgichim
By appointment only (02-500-1686)
10:30 PM - Vaad from Rabbi Shlomo Arielli Shlit"a
11:15 PM - Vaad from Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum Shlit"a
10:00 PM - Vaad from Rabbi Dov Yaffe Shlit"a
7:45 PM - Vaad from Rabbi Yosef Jacobs Shlit"a
The Vaadim can be heard live or at any time via Kol Halashon 
All Vaadim are held at Bais Hamussar - Yerushalayim
Rechov Ohalei Yosef 17
Maaseh Rav
 On Purim, Rav Wolbe would go about his Avodas Hashem as usual. Many close Talmidim and family came by to give him Mishloach Manos and receive a L'chayim and a warm blessing in return. He would sit in his place with his face shining from true Simcha, and far from the commonly found drunken meaninglessness.
He would speak about the extreme nature-like form by which the miracle of Purim took place, and how it was conducted via a vessel of extreme modesty, Esther. He emphasized how the highest levels of Avodas Hashem can be reached specifically in secrecy, doing acts of righteousness that are hidden from the eyes of others, Emes for the sake of Emes - Hashem. 

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Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series.

1.      As noted immediately above, an absolutely essential aspect of every Mitzvah is the intent, attitude and approach.  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 244, seif katan 35) provides the following approach to Hilchos Shabbos: “Fortunate is one who is a Boteach Ba’Hashem, and does not search for kulos on Shabbos.”

2.      The Mishne Berurah (ibid., 250, seif katan 3) writes that one should be Meharher BiTeshuva on Erev Shabbos and look into his deeds, because one is going to greet the Shabbos Malkasa, and one does not go to greet the Queen in sullied clothing.

3.      The Sha’arei Teshuva to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim (250:2) brings from the Kavannos Ha’Ari that when one sweats on Erev Shabbos in preparing for Shabbos, it is a segula for “Mechikas Avonos”--erasure of sin--equivalent to tears.

4.      The Sha’arei Teshuva (ibid., 267:2, and 290:2)  brings from HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl, that when one recites the words in Ma’ariv on Leil Shabbos of “Ufros Aleinu Sukkas...”, one should rise to be mekabel upon himself his Neshama Yesaira, and that when the Neshama Yesaira returns to its place on Motzei Shabbos, Hashem asks it for what it learned anew or developed over Shabbos (after all, it is coming to our world, and to our body, for a reason!)

5.      Even though one cannot otherwise be engaged in physical exercise on Shabbos, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid, 90:12) rules that one is permitted to run to do a Mitzvah, even on Shabbos!


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Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series
The following Halachos relate to the Melacha of Boneh—building--and are excerpted from The Shabbos Home, Volume 2, by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita:

1.  It is permitted to remove the sink strainer from the drain, and replace it there on Shabbos.  Since the strainer is made to be removed and replaced, it is not part of the structure.  Therefore, one who replaces it has not added to the structure.  Similarly, child safety gates that fit into tracks attached to the wall are made to be removed and replaced; therefore, their insertion is not included in the Melacha of Boneh.

2.  On the other hand, one is forbidden to replace a faucet handle on a sink even if it will be replaced loosely and will not be screwed on.

3.  Similarly, it is forbidden to replace the wheel of a stroller or carriage on Shabbos; to reinsert the leg from a table or chair into its socket (even loosely); or to slide rubber or plastic caps onto the legs of chairs or tables.

4.  It is forbidden to replace a doorknob on Shabbos, even if it is merely inserted into the door without being screwed in.  However, one is permitted to insert a screwdriver (or other metal rod) into the hole of the doorknob, and use it to open the door.

5.  If a Mezuzah fell off the doorpost, it may not be replaced on Shabbos.  This refers both to the Mezuzah holder, and to replacing the Mezuzah itself within the holder.

Hakhel MIS

Posted 8/14/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos series:
a.  Plastic covers which cover light switches to avoid someone inadvertently turning them on, and plastic covers which cover electrical outlets to prevent babies from touching them, are not Muktza, because as protective covers they constitute a K’li SheMelachto LeHetter (HaRav Shlomo Pearl, Shlita).

b.  The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes that if one speaks about inappropriate subjects on Shabbos, this also falls within the guise of “Chillul Shabbos”, and decries those who use terms  such as “Bilti Amiras Shabbos”, or “Nisht Of Shabbos GeRett”, and then proceed to talk about business, construction and other things  or acts that you cannot do or perform on Shabbos itself.  In a similar vein, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, in his Sefer The 39 Melachos writes that one cannot say, “I am returning this food to the refrigerator so that it will remain fresh for tomorrow”, or “Let’s  soak the dishes now so that washing them after Shabbos will be less difficult.”  Rabbi Ribiat adds that Shabbos is also not the time to tell sad stories or recount troublesome events to a friend, which may cause him (or you) anguish or emotional distress.

c.  The Steipeler, Z’tl, (Karyana D’Igarta I, Letter 304) provides the following fundamental insight:  If one would know for certain that if he violated a particular Issur D’Oraysa on Shabbos he would be punished with this kind of infection or that kind of  severe headache, and if he knew that if he sullied that Issur DeRabannan, he would be punished with that kind of virus or that kind of writhing backache, he would be careful to stay away from this Kula or that Kula, and would distance himself from even the possibility of getting close to the Aveira.  If, the Steipeler says, we are scared of one of these illnesses, a temporary illness in this passing world, all the more so should we be concerned of a punishment with much more long-lasting and devastating results.  Shabbos is the “Os”--the sign of our special, eternal relationship with Hashem--and if we abuse it, or do not treat it with the respect that it deserves, we are sadly and regretfully abusing this relationship--a relationship which is intended to infuse us not with laxity and superficiality--but with holiness and depth--as the Torah testifies (Shemos 31:13) the purpose of Shabbos is “Lodaas Ki Ani Hashem Mikadishchem--to know that Hashem sanctifies us!”

Posted 8/7/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series
This Shabbos, Shabbos Chazon (as we eat meat and drink wine during the Nine Days), we should be especially aware of the Kedushas Shabbos, with the knowledge that as great as the Binyan Bais HaMikdash is--and what it would accomplish for the whole world--it is still not doche, does not push aside, the Shabbos…and must wait until after Shabbos has concluded!  Indeed, even if Tisha B’Av would occur on Shabbos, we still celebrate Shabbos--with the gefilte fish, the cholent…the Oneg Shabbos in its honor!  The Sefer Toras Shabbos asks, Oneg Shabbos--properly celebrating Shabbos--is such a great Mitzvah--why don’t we make a bracha on it?  He suggests as one answer that each person participates in Oneg Shabbos in his own particular way--so it is not like the KeZayis Matazh that we eat on the Leil HaSeder, and so is not subject to a particular bracha.  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (III:1) brings other possible answers as well: (a) The bracha of MeKadesh HaShabbos in Kiddush includes the mitzvah of  Oneg  (have it in mind!), and (b) the words of “Baruch Hashem Asher Nossan Menucha LeAmo Yisroel” in Kol Mekadesh Shevii allude to a bracha over the Oneg and Menucha of Shabbos (pay attention to your Zemiros!).  Our dear readers, Mekadesh HaShabbos...Kol Mekadesh Shevii...let us especially feel and appreciate it tomorrow!

Posted 7/26/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Erev Shabbos Hilchos Shabbos series
1.    A lid is manufactured for hot cups with perforations which make it easy for you to lift a small portion of the lid and sip the hot tea or coffee, without spilling it on yourself, while keeping the drink hot.  Based upon the Seform Orchos Shabbos, Shabbos K’Hilchasa and Minchas Ish, it would appear that HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, rules that by opening the lid along the perforation, one is involved in the melachos of Mechatech and Korea as well as Makeh B’Patish.  It is amazing how one small act could possibly result in three (3) melachos D’Oraisa!  There are at least two vital lessons from this--how important even our slightest actions are--and how careful we have to be with our actions on Shabbos Kodesh!

2.    During the week while making Hamotzi, we cut somewhat into the bread before making the Bracha, so that it is ready to be quickly eaten after making the Hamotzi.  On Shabbos, we do not do this; because we want to be sure we are making Hamotzi on Lechem Mishna which is whole.  However, we note that the Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 274; Seif Koton 5) brings from the Magen Avraham that one should make a mark on the Challah with his knife on Shabbos, to demonstrate that you are readying it to be cut.  Also see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 167, Mishna Berura Seif Koton 10 for further detail.

3.    The following reprinted questions were asked of HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, and his handwritten Teshuvos follow:

QUESTION:  On Shabbos is a person permitted to spray insect repellant on one’s hands?

ANSWER:  Yes. There is no choleh, and the spray is not remedying an ailment.

QUESTION:  Are you allowed to ask an Akum to turn on the air conditioner on Shabbos?

ANSWER:  I remember when air conditioning was non-existent.  However, today, it has become such a necessity.  I imagine that if the situation was very uncomfortable, one could ask an Akum to turn on the air conditioner, especially as air conditioners work on electricity.  Unlike creating heat, creating electricity that runs the air conditioner is not a Melacha D’Oraysa.  It is probably even less problematic to ask an Akum to turn off the air conditioner if the room is too cold.  Just as you can ask an Akum to put on the heat in winter in order to prevent people from becoming sick, you can similarly ask an Akum to turn off the air conditioner if you are trying to prevent people from getting sick from the extreme cold generated by the air conditioner.

QUESTION:  If the circuit breaker went off on Shabbos, is one allowed to ask an Akum to restore it?

ANSWER:  Simply put, there are times at night when if you don’t have electricity, it constitutes sakanos nefoshos.  It is simply dangerous, especially if you have children who are going around at night without light.  In such a dangerous situation, you can certainly ask an Akum to restore the electricity.

QUESTION:  Are you allowed to ask an Akum to restore the electricity merely in order to save the food from spoiling?  

ANSWER:  The answer is yes.  However, if the food is not endangered, but it is a question of just keeping the soda colder, you should not ask an Akum to fix the circuit breaker.  If you had cholent in an electric crock pot when the circuit breaker went out, the cholent is still hot and the electricity, if restored, will stop other food from spoiling, as before, you may ask an Akum to restore the electricity.

QUESTION:  I have small children who cannot stay up until the end of Shabbos. Do they have to make Havdalah on Sunday morning?

ANSWER:  Rabbosai, you have to make Havdalah for little children.  I’ll tell you a very interesting halachah.  If a little child did not hear Havdalah, but the parent was yotzei Havdalah in shul, the father could make Havdalah with a brocha and be motzi the little child.  I have always made an effort to have my children listen to Havdalah (on Motzoei Shabbos).  And if that was not possible, I would have the child recite Havdalah from a siddur the next morning.  If the child is too young to make Havdalah the next morning, then he is not considered to have reached the age of chinuch (education in mitzvos) for Havdalah and can do without hearing it.

Posted 7/20/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos
Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series by reprinting several more summer questions and answers from HaRav Belsky, Shlita: 

May children play with toys that make noise on Shabbos?

Many poskim are of the opinion that any child above the age of four or five should be taught not to play with toys that make noise on Shabbos. Those children under this age are permitted to play with such noise-making toys (e.g., talking dolls, talking games, etc.). However, as stated above, one should not hand it directly to the child. If the child is crying, one is permitted to give the toy to him directly. However, care should be taken that when one gives it to the child, one should not cause the toy to make noise.

Is a child permitted to play in a sandbox on Shabbos?

Normally, it is prohibited to play with sand on Shabbos, as it is muktzah. However, sand that is in a sandbox is not deemed muktzah because it has been designated for this type of play. Therefore, a child may play in a sandbox on Shabbos. However, water should not be used in the sand due to issur of Losh

Is a child permitted to play with Erector sets, Legos and other construction-type toys and games?

Any toy that needs to be screwed together is prohibited because of the issur of Boneh. Therefore, one may not play with a construction set on Shabbos. On the other hand, because one merely sticks together the pieces, one is permitted to play with Legos, Tinkertoys and the like on Shabbos.

Is a child permitted to swing on a swing attached to a tree on Shabbos? or to go to sleep in a hammock on Shabbos?

One is permitted to use a swing on Shabbos which is suspended from a swing frame. A swing that is suspended from a tree, however, poses a problem. One may use such a swing only if A) the swing is attached indirectly to the tree, e.g. it is suspended from hooks that are attached to the tree, B) the tree is sturdy enough that it will not shake when the swing is being used, and C) the swing must be attached to the hooks before Shabbos. In contrast, a swing that is attached to a door post may be attached and detached on Shabbos and it is not considered Boneh.

In some bungalow colonies, a tire is attached to a tree. A person may not swing from it on Shabbos unless it is attached as described above.

Is a child under Bar or Bas Mitzvah permitted to ride a bike, Big Wheel or roller skates/blades in an area containing an Eruv?

Young children may ride on bicycles, tricycles, Big Wheels and the like, however, older children should be discouraged from doing so on Shabbos.

Are children under Bar or Bas Mitzvah permitted to play ball on Shabbos in an area containing an Eruv? What about Ping Pong?

Young children are permitted to play ball on Shabbos, but, they must be careful not to play near the road or near the end of the Eruv where it is possible that the ball may roll outside the Eruv. Ping Pong is permitted on Shabbos.

Posted 7/4/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series
Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series, this week focusing on some Summer Shabbos Shailos U’Teshuvos from HaRav Belsky, Shlita:

If a family takes on Shabbos early, when does a woman have to light her candles?

Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, writes (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim, 3:38) that if, as in most cases, the husband makes an early Shabbos because of convenience, not because he wants to add to the kedusha of Shabbos, then the woman is not bound by the kahal’s or the husband’s Kabbolas Shabbos and may light the candles later or even at the time the husband comes home.  When an entire community inaugurates the Shabbos early, such as in a bungalow colony, regardless of their rationale, no one in the community is exempt from the kahal’s kabbola.  If there are a few minyanim and people alternate from one to the other as the need arises, then there is no tzibbur and no kabbolas hatzibbur.  If there is indeed one monolithic community, but a few stragglers continue to ride around in their cars while everyone else is greeting the Shabbos, these people are being mechalel Shabbos and should be admonished.  If, as the question suggests, the particular family has decided to honor the Shabbos by adding to its kedusha, then all agree that every family member is bound by one kabbolas Shabbos.

During the summer, Plag Hamincha on some Shabbasim is after 7:00PM and the Mincha minyan is at 7:00PM.  What is the proper time for women to light?

When Plag Hamincha is at 7:00PM, Mincha should be davened before then and Maariv afterwards.  There is an (important) opinion which allows for both Mincha and Maariv to be davened after Plag Hamincha on Friday, but the Mishne Berurah frowns upon it and thus, it should be avoided.  If no one in shul knows how to calculate the time of Plag Hamincha and no chart is available for guidance, expert help should be sought.
Licht bentchen must be done after Plag Hamincha.  In case candles were lit before then, the brocha is considered levatola and candles must be lit again with a brocha.  Consult with a Rav for guidance in such situations, if possible.

If my husband goes to the early minyan can I still do melacha? If so, until when?

See the first answer above.  Even where a woman may do melacha after her husband was mekabel Shabbos, she may not do melacha for her husband.  Please note that a wife is never bound by her husband’s personal Kabbolas Shabbos, only by the kahal’s kabbola where both husband and wife belong to the same kehal or by the family’s kabbola as explained above.

If my husband returned home from shul after attending an early Kabbolas Shabbos minyan, can I still light the candles since it is still not sh’kiah?

It can be argued that licht bentchen is a melacha done for the husband to insure Shalom Bayis and thus should be prohibited as above.  You can rely on the lenient opinion but you should strenuously avoid lighting candles after the people come home from shul.  This is an affront to kedushas Shabbos and surely not conducive to Shalom Bayis as it belittles your husband.  Will the malochim given their brocha when they accompany your husband home from shul and find chol there instead of Shabbos?  Take your guess.  Never, ever allow for that sort of occurrence.

If we make early Shabbos, am I permitted to finish the meal before nightfall or do I have to finish it after nightfall? Do I have to eat a kezayis after nightfall?

You should preferably eat at least a kezayis of challah after tzas hacochavim and do not rely on leniencies, as explained in the Mishne Berurah.  There is something else to consider when addressing this question.  If one began his early Shabbos davening at 7PM as mentioned earlier, he should be making Kiddush around 8PM.  What will be taking place at his Shabbosdike tisch? Torah?  Zemiros?  A joyous, sumptuous family meal in an atmosphere of relaxed happiness and Shabbos holiness?  The very question suggests a desire to rush, that the Shabbos seudah is being treated as an interference which must be over and done with as quickly as possible, R’L.  In that case, a kezayis after tzas hacochavim will not do the trick (unless we are speaking of merely ensuring that challah is eaten at the end of a properly-conducted meal).  Think about it.

How many candles should my wife light if she normally lights seven candles in the City?  Is there a difference if my kitchen is small or if I rent a bungalow?

If there is room for setting up the full measure of lights, it should be attempted.  On the other hand, many lights in cramped quarters with a bunch of small children K’EH running around is both impractical and downright dangerous R’L.  Safety is also kavod Shabbos.  Be careful.

Hakhel MIS

Posted 6/26/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Erev Shabbos-Hilchos Shabbos Series.
We continue with our discussion of Tochen. The following Halachos are excerpted from The 39 Melachos, the monumental work by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita:

1.  Because, as we learned last week, there is no Tochen after Tochen relating to items which are consumed, one may crush a medicine tablet (to dissolve it in sugar and water) for a child who is permitted to take this medicine.  Similarly, one could crush a saccharin tablet.

2.  Because the preparations of medications involved the Melacha of Tochen, Chazal forbade taking medications or undergoing therapies on Shabbos, unless such medications were permitted based upon specific Halachic factors.  Accordingly, in general, on Shabbos one is not permitted to ingest pills, take liquid medications, apply topical therapies including medicated powders, apply herbal preparations, undergo acupuncture, or exercise to improve his physical constitution.

3.  Ordinary foods or activities are not prohibited.  For example, one is permitted to drink a hot tea with honey on Shabbos to sooth a sore throat, or take a Shabbos walk (not speed walk) to improve digestion.

4.  One may remove an insect sting or splinter on Shabbos, because it is not considered curative, but only the removal of an outside affliction is permitted.  If the removal will cause bleeding, however, a Rav should first be consulted.

5.  Similarly, talcum powder (unmedicated) may be used to relieve discomfort from feet, because it only serves to absorb troublesome moisture, but has no therapeutic effect upon the feet or skin.

6. One may insert cotton in his ear, or cover a wound, because the covering protects from detrimental effects, but does not aid in the healing process.

7. One may put an ice cube, or press a spoon on a bruise to prevent swelling.  Similarly, one may put on and wear a removable dental brace on Shabbos to straighten out his teeth.  These therapies are not forbidden, because they are never achieved by use of medications forbidden by Chazal, lack the characteristics of medications and never otherwise entail the use of medications.

Of course, when one is unsure about the application of these principles to his  situation, he must consult with his Rav or Posek.

Posted 6/22/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos Series:

a. Many individually wrapped candies, lollypops, ices, and other "Shabbos Party" type treats have lettering and/or designs just at the spots that you would open them to take out the candy or treat. This constitutes an Issur DeRabbanan of Mochek (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 340; Mishne Berurah, seif katan 17). We note that this problem is true of "heimishe" products as well, as the manufacturers do not assume that you or your children will necessarily be opening these items on Shabbos. Perhaps we should add to the list of Erev Shabbos things to do--checking packaging of this kind!

b. According to the Sefer HaShabbos BeTifarta by HaRav Avrohom Adas, Shlita, reattaching a broomstick back to a broom either by screwing it back in, or by pushing it with force back into place, constitutes an Issur D’Oraysa of Boneh. He likewise rules that one may not return a belt buckle to a belt on Shabbos.

c. Several important Borer points from the Sefer "Pnei Shabbos--Halachos HaSchichos" by HaRav Yosef Glick, Shlita of Yerushalayim, which provides the answers to many common Shabbos Shailos: (i) One may not pour off the liquid from cholent unless he leaves some amount of liquid in the cholent, or eats a little bit of the liquid that he poured off--so that he is selecting the Ochel (that which he now wants) from the Pesoles (that which he does not now want) for immediate use; (ii) When clearing the table, one should make sure that the dirty plates are somewhat separated from the plates with remaining food on them that he wants to put away, in order to avoid the potential borer of separating plates mixed together--removing dirty plates from the table to discard their contents while removing plates with food to store their contents. Likewise, there should be distance kept on kitchen counters between the dirty plates and plates with items to be discarded, and the remaining clean plates, or items to be stored, in order to avoid borer issues of selecting Pesoles from Ochel--or even Ochel from Pesoles for non-immediate use; (iii) One should not remove noodles from chicken noodle soup simply because he does not want to eat them (and vive versa, one may not pour out the chicken soup in order to eat the noodles only), as this constitutes borer--selecting the Pesoles from the Ochel; (iv) One should not remove the frosting or cream layer from a cake, unless he also removes some of the cake along with it, or leaves some of the cream on the cake; (v) If one took a fruit out of a bowl to eat, and then did not like the way it looked, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, writes that it may be best to put it back into the same bowl and not somewhere else, so it does not appear as borer; (vi) One is permitted to take the peel off fruits and vegetables immediately prior to consumption--even if the outer layer is inedible (such as a banana peel), because this is deemed to be its "derech achila." If a peel is otherwise commonly eaten, such as an apple peel, there is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether one can peel the apple for non-immediate consumption. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, forbids it; (vii) If a candy wrapper is stuck to the candy, one should only remove the candy close to its consumption, as the wrapper would then be treated as the peel of a fruit; (viii) If one has different flavors of soda in the pantry mixed up together, and wants to select a few flavors to put into the refrigerator for the Shabbos Seudah in a few hours, there is an issue of borer, as he is selecting for non-immediate use. Accordingly, one should keep the same flavors grouped together so that he is not selecting one flavor from another, or, in the alternative, not be selective about the soda he is taking but simply pick up two or three bottles of whatever may come to his hand. Another alternative may be to immediately drink a little of the soda one selects before putting it in the refrigerator, so that he is selecting the soda for immediate use; (ix) One should avoid peeling corn directly off the cob unless it is close to the meal (even then there may be a separate issue of Dush--although one may eat corn directly from the cob); (x) There are various opinions as to how close to the Seudah one is permitted to peel vegetables, set the table, and perform other Ochel Mitoch Pesoles activities. Although many Poskim rule one has a half-hour before the Seudah, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, rules that it is less time than that if one in fact needs less than a half-hour. The situation may also be different if one has many guests, and may depend upon what else has to be done before the meal. One should definitely not rely upon his own "common sense" in this area, which could involve several Issurei D’Oraysa within the preparation of one Seudah. Instead, one should most definitely consult with his Rav or Posek in any case of doubt. If one never has any issues or doubts in this delicate area--than he is either being extra-specially superbly careful--or he should immediately commence the study or review of the Halachos of borer, to help himself and others properly observe Shabbos Kodesh!

Posted 6/5/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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Today is Zos Chanukah
מה שצדיקים יכולים לפעול בראש השנה ויום כיפור יכול כל אדם פשוט לפעול בזאת חנוכה
הבית ישראל מגער אמר שגם אחר חנוכה נמשך ההשפעה דקדושת ורשימת חנוכה
שהלא קוראים זאת חנוכת המזבח ביום המשך אתו וגם זאת חנוכת המזבח אחרי המשח אתו
As Today is Zos Chanukah, It is said from the Heiligeh Rizhner Zy"a, that what Great Tzaddikim can accomplish on Rosh Hashonah & Yom Kippur, can a plain person accomplish on Zos Chanukah.
If it is no longer Chanukah by you, The Beis Yisroel of Ger would say on the Psukim we read today - Zos Chanukas Hamizbei’ach biyom himoshach oissoy & then in possuk 82 Zos chanukas Hamizbbei’ach achrei  himoshach oisoy.
The Kedushah & Segulos of Chanukah accompany us a whole year.
May we be Zoche to a Gemar Chasima Tova as it is quoted from the Arizal Zy"a.
May we be zoche to a Geulah Shileimah Bimheirah.

Posted 12/30/2008 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Gut Shabbos & Gut Yom Tov | Comments (0)

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