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Must medicine be kosher?

Wednesday, 13th October 2010


In order to save a life, one may take medicine that is not Kosher. One may also transgress any other Mitzva (commandment) needed to save one's life, with the exception of murder, adultery and idolatry.

In non-life threatening situations:

- One should not take non-Kosher medicine, if there's a Kosher alternative readily available.
- If only non-Kosher medicine is available, it may be used. However, if it has a pleasant taste, then one should spoil its taste, for example by adding something bitter to it, or wrapping it in tissue paper.
- If the medicine is a mixture of meat and milk, a Rabbi should be consulted, since normally meat and milk mixtures cannot be used as medicine. The same applies to Kil'ay Hakerem (grains and grapes that grew in close proximity).

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 192:5, 6, 7

Rosh Chodesh

Wednesday, 6th October 2010


Rosh Chodesh Cheshvon will be on Friday and Shabbos.

Remember to add Ya'aleh Veyavo (an extra prayer added for the new month) into the Amida - Shemonei Esrei (18 blessings prayer) and Birchas Hamozon (Grace after meals).

One should add an extra dish to the Shabbos meals in honor of Rosh Chodesh.

After Hallel (another additional prayer in honour of the new month) on Shabbos we will read from 2 Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls); the second one for Rosh Chodesh, followed by the Shabbos-Rosh Chodesh Haftoro (a selection from the book of Prophets that is publicly read in synagogues).

In Mussaf (additional service for Shabbos and Jewish holidays) one says the "Ata Yetzarta - אַתָּה יָצַרְתָּ" version which talks about both the Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh sacrifices.

Ya'aleh Veyavo is not said in Mussaf.

May one throw out Succos decorations?

Tuesday, 28th September 2010


Since the S'chach (foliage covering the Sukkah) and decorations were used for a Mitzvah, they deserve some respect even after having done their duty.

After Succos when the S'chach is taken down, one should not trample on it.
 One may throw them away, but one may not use them for disrespectful purposes like building an outhouse.

One may burn S'chach.

Care should be taken with decorations that have Torah verses written on them.

Preferably one shouldn't hang up such decorations, but if one did, then they need to go into Geniza (for burial) or otherwise carefully looked after.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 134:13, 14

The 4 minim - putting it all together!

Monday, 20th September 2010
On Succos (Festival of Tabernacles) there's a Mitzvah (commandment) to shake the four species; a Lulav (date palm branch), 3 Haddasim (myrtles branches), 2 Arovos (willow branches) and an Esrog (citron).
When shaking them on Succos, the Lulav, 3 Haddasim and 2 Arovos are tied together and held in ones right hand, and the Esrog in ones left hand. (Lefties hold the Lulav in their left, Esrog  in the right.)
All 6 branches must be facing upwards, with the side where they were cut off the tree facing down.
The spine of the Lulav must be facing you. The 3 Haddasim are tied to the right of the Lulav. The 2 Arovos are tied to the left of the Lulav.
The Lulav is first bound with 3 ties typically made of palm leaves. The 3 Haddasim and 2 Arovos are then bound to it with another 2 ties. The Haddasim should be slightly higher than than the Arovos.
The spine of the the Lulav must protrude at least 1 Tefach (8 cm - 3") above the Haddasim and Arovos.
The top Tefach of the Lulav should not have any ties on it.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 136:8


Why is it a Mitzvah to eat?

Wednesday, 15th September 2010

Friday is Erev (the eve of) Yom Kippur. It's a Mitzvah (commandment) to eat more than usual on on the day before Yom Kippur in order to have an easy fast the next day. Those people who find it easier to fast if they don't eat too much beforehand, do not need to eat more than usual.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131:2


Rosh Hashanah - Eruv Tavshilin

Tuesday, 7th September 2010

 A fundamental difference between Yom Tov (festival) observance and Shabbos (Sabbath) observance is the allowance of food preparation on Yom Tov. 

The Torah permits us to cook, bake, and prepare food on Yom Tov proper, in order to eat the prepared food on that day of Yom Tov. One is not permitted to prepare from one day of Yom Tov for the second day of Yom Tov or for after Yom Tov. 

This prohibition of preparing from one day of Yom Tov to the next, presents a problem when the second day of Yom Tov falls out on Shabbos or when Shabbos follows a two day sequence of Yom Tov. Can one halachically prepare food on Yom Tov for the Shabbos Yom Tov or for Shabbos?

To deal with this issue our Rabbis instituted a procedure known as eruv tavshilin. The process of eruv tavshilin works in the following manner. On Erev (the eve of) Yom Tov, the head of the household, or his designee, should set aside a baked item such as bread or matzoh, and a cooked item such as meat, fish, or eggs (i.e. a food that is eaten along with bread). He or she should then recite the blessing:

 בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל מִצְוַת עֵרוּב

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melach HaOlam, Asher Kidishanu B`Mitzvotov, Vitzivanu, Al Mitzvat Eruv  

 One continues with the following, which must be said in a language one understands:

בַּהֲדֵין עֵרוּבָא יְהֵא שָׁרֵא לָנָא לַאֲפוּיֵי, וּלְבַשּׁוּלֵי, וּלְאַטְמוּנֵי, וּלְאַדְלוּקֵי שְׁרָגָא, וּלִמֶעְבֵּד כָּל צָרְכָּנָא מִיּוֹמָא טָבָא לְשַׁבְּתָא

"With this Eruv we are permitted to bake, cook, keep things warm and light fire and do all that is needed from Yom Tov to Shabbat".

 This proclamation states that the cooked and baked items should permit us to continue baking, cooking, lighting a flame from an existing fire and do all the necessary preparations from Yom Tov proper to Shabbos. It is now viewed as though meal preparations for Shabbos have already begun before Yom Tov and Shabbos meal preparations may continue on Friday Yom Tov, Erev Shabbos.

Once done, the eruv covers all household members and guests.

The foods set aside for the eruv should be saved and may be eaten on Shabbos but not prior to Shabbos..

If one forgot to make an eruv tavshilin one should consult a competent Rabbinical authority for further instructions.

The symbolic Rosh Hashanah menu

Tuesday, 7th September 2010

At the Rosh Hashanah (new year) evening meal it's customary to eat foods that symbolize a Good New Year. The bread is dipped in honey and after eating it the Yehi Ratzon (May it be Your will....) is said, praying for a sweet new year.

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ שֶתְחַדֵש עָלֵינוּ שָנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה

Yehi Ratzon Mil'fa'necha, she'tichadesh aleinu shana tova u'm'tuka.

May it be Your will, that You renew us for a good and sweet year."

Then one dips an apple in honey, says the Bracha (blessing) on the apple ("Borei Pri HaEtz") and eats some. One then says the Yehi Ratzon again. 

There are various other foods that are eaten with their appropriate Yehi Ratzon; one may even add new ones. 

One tries to have only sweet items on the menu; no food cooked in vinegar, for example. The custom is to not eat nuts. 

One should remember to learn some Torah at the Yom Tov (festival) meals; some learn a chapter of Mishna-Rosh-Hashanah, which has 4 chapters; one for each meal. 

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:9 

Ktiva Vechatima Tova
כתיבה וחתימה טובה
Wishing you a sweet new year 


Thursday, 2nd September 2010

The blessing of Shehechiyanu ("... who has kept us alive, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion") is recited during Kiddush (literally, "sanctification" - is a blessing recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify the Sabbath) on all nights of Yom Tov (Festivals), except on the last days of Pessach (Passover).

There are two Minhagim (customs) regarding Shehechiyanu at candle-lighting on Yom-Tov candles. Some women have the Minhag of saying Shehechiyanu when lighting Yom-Tov candles (except on the last days of Pessach). Others never say Shehechiyanu at candle-lighting but rather listen or say it with Kiddush. If a woman makes her own Kiddush she must be careful to only say Shehechiyanu once, either at candle-lighting or during Kiddush.

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah (New year) there's a Halachic debate if Shehechiyanu is required. To be on the safe side, one should wear a new item of clothing, or see a new fruit (that one hasn't tasted yet this season) while saying Shehechiyanu on the second night of Rosh Hashanah; both during Kiddush and during candle lighting (if applicable). If one does not have a new item of clothing, nor a new fruit, on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, one still says Shehechiyanu.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:4, 129:23 See Halocho #109

Excel in one Mitzvah

Thursday, 26th August 2010

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

Even though Hashem (G-d) is prepared to accept our Teshuva (repentance) all year round, the days from 1st day in Elul until Yom Kippur are an auspicious period for improving ones ways.

This dates back to when Moshe (Moses) went up to Har (Mount) Sinai to receive the second set of Luchos (Tablets); Moshe went up on the 1st day of Elul and returned 40 days later on Yom Kippur with the second set of Luchos.

At the very least one should choose one Mitzva or Halacho to improve on during this period.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128: 1

Checking Tefillin and Mezuzos

Thursday, 19th August 2010

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 


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