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Tefilas HaDerech (traveller’s prayer)

Thursday, 14th November 2019

One usually says Tefilas HaDerech (traveller’s prayer) only once a day.

If one arrives at one's final destination for the day, and subsequently decided to take another trip, then one says Tefilas HaDerech again.

One who travels through the night says Tefilas HaDerech on the second day without the final Brocho (Blessing).

Davening

Thursday, 31st October 2019

If one is driving on a journey and is delayed for example in traffic, can one daven (pray) in the car whilst driving?

If one must stop to daven and it is pouring with rain outside or it is a bad location and one is worried for their safety, can they daven inside the car or must they exit to daven?

Davening (praying) whilst driving a car is absolutely prohibited, as it is impossible to concentrate on the road and on davening at the same time. 
  
If you pull over to the side of the road it is preferably you should go outside and stand at least for the Shemona Esrei part of davening.  If that isn't possible either due to rain or if it is a dangerous neighbourhood, then you may indeed daven sitting down in your car.

All of the above is provided that you are running against the clock and will not be able to daven normally when you get to your destination safely.

Eating Erev Yom Kippur

Monday, 7th October 2019

There is a Mitzvah to eat on Erev (the eve of) Yom-Kippur. 

The Mitzvah exists during the entire day.

One may not fast on Erev-Yom-Kippur.

One must eat at least the seudas Hamafsekes (the meal in the afternoon prior to the beginning of the fast). 

There is a largely accepted minhag (custom) to eat two seudos (meals) on Erev Yom-Kippur: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

One should eat meat for the Seudas Hamafsekes. 

There are those that eat Dairy for the morning meal, but many eat meat for both.

If one ate the Seuda Hamafsekes and then wishes to eat or drink more after the Seuda (meal) but before the start of the fast, that person should make a stipulation to that effect before or while he is still eating the Seuda Hamafsekes. 

If one didn’t make a verbal stipulation, but did intend to eat after the Seuda Hamafsekes, then they may continue eating.

If one didn’t stipulate or intend to eat (i.e. didn’t give any thought as to whether or not one wished to eat again) it is advisable not to eat. If, however, there is a significant reason for eating more, one can do so.

If one thought that he was not going to eat more, then even if one didn’t verbally say so, one should refrain from eating. If there is a need to eat, one can do so.

If one actually said that he was not going to eat again then one may not eat again until after the fast.
Although it is a Mitzva to eat Erev Yom Kippur, we must stop eating some time before the fast begins, as we are obligated to add onto the Kedushas Hayom (holiness of the day).

Teshuva

Thursday, 26th September 2019

Let us excel in one Mitzva

Doing Teshuva - repenting - is a Mitzva mentioned in the Torah.

Even though Hashem – G-d -  is prepared to accept our Teshuva all year round, the days from Rosh Chodesh Elul (this year 1stSeptember) until Yom Kippur (this year 12th October) are an auspicious period for improving one's ways.

This period dates back to when Moshe Moses) went up to Har (Mount) Sinai to receive the second set of Tablets; Moshe went up on Rosh Chodesh Elul and returned 40 days later on Yom Kippur with the second set of Tablets.

At the very least let us choose one Mitzva or Halacha to improve on, during this period.

Rosh Hashona

Thursday, 26th September 2019

Why isn’t Yom Kippur before Rosh Hashana?

On Yom Kippur we wipe away our sins. On Rosh HaShono we proclaim HaShem (G-d) as King (no sin-mention). Surely Yom Kippur should go first so we can proclaim HaShem as King in a state of sin-free purity?

One can answer based on Gemorro (Talmud) Sukkah (52b) that says that the yetzer hara (evil inclination) is too strong for us - and we can only overcome it with the help of HaShem. This means that essentially it is not in our hands solely to overcome the yetzer hara. Thus, we must have a Rosh HaShana first, for that is the way of ensuring that HaShem will help us so we can cleanse ourselves of sin culminating on Yom Kipur. 

Another answer is based on a lovely comparison. The Rambam (Maimonides) (hil melachim 1;1) comments that we were commanded 3 mitzvos (commandments) upon entry to the land of Israel; 1st to appoint a king, then wipe out amalek, and finally to build a beis hamikdash (Temple). [and that is the order that they occurred in nach (Scriptures).] 

The order is very precise here. So too, Rosh HaShono is compared to appointing a king (we 'appoint' HaShem as King), Yom Kippur to the removal of amalek (amalek is the embodiment of sin), and Sukkos to the beis hamikdash (a surrounding sanctuary of HaShem's Presence).

Washing one's hands

Wednesday, 18th September 2019

 

Before washing one's hands prior to eating bread, it is important to ensure that the table is set and ready for the meal and that the bread, salt and bread-knife  is already on the table. If one is simply eating a piece of bread or a sandwich and not setting the table, it is important to make sure that the bread or sandwich is prepared and ready to eat immediately after washing the hands. 

Before washing, it is important to check and make sure that a towel is available with which to dry the hands. All of the above is to ensure that there isn't even a short Hefsek (interruption), between the washing and the eating. 
 
The blessing on the bread should be recited as soon as possible after the washing.

It is forbidden to talk between the washing of the hands and the reciting of the blessing, even a short comment and even talking words of Torah is forbidden.

Saying words that are necessary for the reciting of the blessing such as saying "salt" or "knife" to indicate that those items are needed, is permitted.

Mezuzah

Thursday, 12th September 2019

Every doorway of one's house is obligated in mezuzah. Even if a room has several doorways, each one is obligated in having a mezuzah.

The mezuzah should be put up on the doorpost which is to one's right upon one's entering the room.

While Sephardim place the mezuzah straight up[14], Ashkenazim place it on a slant, with the top leaning towards the inside and the bottom towards the outside.

The mezuzah should be placed at the beginning of the upper third of the height of the doorway. If it is not in the top third it isn't kosher.

If a doorway is very tall, according to Ashkenazim, one should put up the mezuzah at shoulder height.  However, according to Sephardim, one should place it in the upper third in all circumstances.

One should have one's Mezuzot checked by a sofer (Scribe) twice in seven years, or once in every three and a half years, and it is a praiseworthy practice to check them every year.

If one's mezuzah became wet one should check it immediately.

Elul

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019

Some people have the custom to get their Tefillin (phylacteries) and Mezuzos checked yearly during the month of Elul.

At the very least one should check ones Mezuzos twice every 7 years.

Tefillin that are used daily, do not need to be checked unless they get wet. However, one should check them every few years since they do wear out eventually.

Tefillin that are only used occasionally should be checked twice every 7 years.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:3, 11:25, 10:26

Tefilas HaDerech

Thursday, 15th August 2019

 

One usually says Tefilas HaDerech (traveller’s prayer) only once a day.

If one arrives at one's final destination for the day, and subsequently decided to take another trip, then one says Tefilas HaDerech again.

One who travels through the night says Tefilas HaDerech on the second day without the final Brocho (Blessing).

When Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat

Friday, 9th August 2019

When Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat:

  • The fast is postponed until Sunday.
     
  • There is no special Seuda Hamafseket before the fast.
     
  • Some of the laws of Tisha B'Av begin only at nightfall on Saturday night, instead of at sunset.
     
  • Havdalah is postponed until Sunday night.

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