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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.

Fasting

Thursday, 1st August 2019

One who accidentally drank or ate during a fast day still must continue to fast.

Fast days were instituted in remembrance of the tragic events which occurred thereupon. Therefore, even if a person accidentally breaks the fast and will no longer be able to recite "Anenu" (a prayer which is combined with the sixteenth blessing of the afternoon service's "Amida" prayer), the prohibition against eating and drinking continues to be in effect.

One who has performed one transgression is not permitted to perform additional transgressions (Shulchan Arukh 368:1). 

There is no need, though, to fast on a different day as recompense for the fast he broke, for the obligation to fast applies only to the particular day designated by the Sages.

When Tisha b’Av falls on Shabbos

Thursday, 25th July 2019

This year Tisha b’Av falls on Shabbos.

The usual seudah ha-mafsekes (last meal before the fast) restrictions do not apply on Shabbos. At the last meal before the fast - which is seudah shelishis on Shabbos - one may eat meat and drink wine and consume whatever food he desires. One should not, however, specifically say that he is eating in order to have strength for the fast, nor is it permitted to swallow a pill that makes it easier to fast, since he would then be preparing on Shabbos for a weekday. 

Eating seudah shelishis with family members is permissible. Company, however, should be avoided - unless one usually has company for seudah shelishis.

No preparations for Tishah b'Av may be made until Shabbos is over. Tishah b'Av shoes or Kinos [unless studied on Shabbos] may not brought to shul until nightfall, even in an area with an eiruv.

Shaimos

Thursday, 18th July 2019

Shaimos - Torah books and scrolls - are sacred and must be disposed of in a respectful manner. These are usually buried out of respect.

Wedding invitations, Charity letters and Jewish newspapers often have reference to the name of G-d at the top.

However, unless they have the actual name of Hashem (G-d) written out properly,  invitations, newspapers , Tzedaka letters etc. with Torah written on them  can be double wrapped in 2 plastic bags and either discarded directly, according to many Rabbis, or according to the more stringent Rabbis they may be left out at the curbside for the rubbish collectors to discard of, so it will be done indirectly.

Birchas HaMazon (Grace after meals)

Friday, 12th July 2019

Birchas HaMazon (Grace after meals) should be recited sitting down, even if the eating was done while standing or walking around, as bentching (saying grace) whilst standing or walking cannot be done with proper Kavanah (concentration). 
 
Even those listening to the bentching from another person and being Yotzei (fulfilling the grace) with their bentching must be sitting. 
 
However, if it was recited while standing or walking around [within the room where he/she ate],  he/she has satisfied their obligation.
 
Moreover, if  one is walking to a destination and stopping to bentch will cause him/her to arrive late, the Bentching may be said while walking, provided that the eating was also done while walking.
 
If one ate in a car, bus or train, he/she must sit and bentch in his/her seat.

Sharing a table

Thursday, 4th July 2019

Two acquaintances are not allowed to share the same table, if one is eating a meat meal and the other is eating a milky meal.

This applies to friends, family and even casual acquaintances who wouldn't feel comfortable sharing their food.

If there is some sort of separation on the table, then they are allowed to share the table. For example, if they each have their own place mat, or there is something between them on the table that normally is not on the table.

They should not share the same cup, jug or bottle, since food can get stuck on it and passed from one to the other.

They also should not be sharing the same loaf of bread. The custom is that they do not even share the same salt cellars.

Insects and bugs

Friday, 28th June 2019

 

No living things may be killed on Shabbos. This includes all bugs and insects, with the exception of tiny lice-like insects which aren't considered living things.

Of course, if someone's life is in danger from a dangerous insect such as a bee, hornet wasp or even a mosquito at times (especially with small children or for people who are highly allergic to the stings) the insect may be trapped (preferably not using a special trapping device) and if need be, killed.

During the week, insects that are annoying may be trapped and/or killed, as Tza'ar Baalei Chayim (the suffering of living creatures) doesn't apply if human Tza'ar (suffering) is at stake

Shevuos

Tuesday, 4th June 2019

Unlike most other Jewish holidays, Shevuos has no prescribed Torah commandments other than the traditional festival observances, such as having joyous feasts, special holiday prayers and abstention from work. Shavuos does, however, have many customs.

All Night Torah Study: According to Midrash (Rabbinic literature), the Israelites went to bed early the night before receiving the Torah in order to be well-rested for the momentous day ahead, but then overslept and had to be woken by Moses himself. To atone for this national mistake, many Jews study Torah all night long, in symbolic anticipation for receiving the Torah on Shavuos day.

Greenery: According to Midrash, Mount Sinai suddenly blossomed with flowers and greenery in honour of the giving of the Torah. So today, many Jewish families decorate their homes and Synagogues with greenery in honour of the holiday.

Dairy Foods: It is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuos for a number of reasons: 1) Shavuos occurs during the milking season. 2) Before receiving the Torah, the Israelites did not follow its laws of ritual animal slaughter, so their utensils were not yet purified for kosher meat use. So instead of meat, the Israelites celebrated with dairy foods. 3) King Solomon compares the Torah to milk in the Song of Songs: “Like honey and milk, it lies under your tongue” (4:11).

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