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March 05 Kosherpages launches 

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Thursday, 17th May 2018

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).


Washing Hands

Wednesday, 9th May 2018

Upon awakening one should wash one's hands from a cup, alternating between the right and left hand until each hand is washed 3 times.

Two reasons are given:

1) You are starting a new day of serving Hashem (G-d); similar to a Cohen (priest) who had to wash his hands before serving in the Bet HaMikdash (Temple).

2) Part of the soul leaves the body when one sleeps, therefore sleeping is considered a mini-death which generates impurity which needs to be washed away.

One should then wash one's face in honour of one's Maker, since the verse states that man was created in Hashem's image.

One should be careful to dry one's hands and face, for health reasons.

One should also rinse one's mouth, in anticipation of saying Hashem's name during prayers.

On fast-days one may not rinse one's mouth.

The first 33 days of the Omer

Tuesday, 1st May 2018

Just imagine if we had 24,000 and not just 5 individual students!

The first 33 days of the Omer are observed as a period of mourning. We do not take haircuts, perform weddings, or listen to music. What’s the mourning all about?

Rabbi Akiva, the towering sage of the Mishna, exerted a powerful influence on the Torah scholars of his day, to the point that he had 24,000 disciples. Great as the members of this group was, they had one short-coming: They failed to show proper love and respect for one another. The tragic consequence of this shortcoming was a brief but cataclysmic epidemic that claimed the lives of these students – all 24,000 of them. The period during which the epidemic took place was none other than the first 32 days of the Omer.

To get a better idea of the impact this tragedy had on the Jewish People for posterity, consider the following facts: All of the Torah that we possess and study today, with all of its interpretations, perspectives, dimensions and applications, is all the Torah of Rabbi Akiva. Although the Oral Torah always existed, each Torah personality who immerses himself in Torah adds his own understanding and flavor to Torah, thus enriching the Torah which will be passed on to the next generation. As we shall see, the Torah we have was transmitted to us by Rabbi Akiva via the five students whom he taught after the loss of his first group of disciples.

The Torah we study today is endless. One can study for a lifetime and not “finish” it. But it is not complete. There are whole areas and dimensions of Torah that are not satisfactorily explored; there is much argument and there are many areas of confusion. All of this might well have been different had we received the full breath of Rabbi Akiva’s Torah, as assimilated and interpreted by 24,000 disciples, along with their unique perspectives and understanding. The demise of the first group of students essentially resulted in our receiving only a fraction of Rabbi Akiva’s Torah. Instead of its full amplification by 24,000 great human beings, we have only the interpretations of five.

Attending a wedding

Wednesday, 18th April 2018

If one is invited to a wedding at a time when they are observing Sefirah, while the one making the wedding observes the "other half" of Sefirah and is thus permitted to make a wedding, he/she may attend the wedding, listen to the music and even participate in the dancing. 

However, taking a haircut or shaving/trimming a beard in honour of the wedding is prohibited unless not doing so will be embarrassing and cause you not to go to the wedding and thus prevent you from performing the mitzvah of bringing joy to a bride and groom. 

If during the days that you do not yet observe Sefirah, someone who is observing Sefirah enters your home, car or other area where you are listening to music, it isn't necessary to close the music. However, that person may not deliberately do this in order to listen to the music.

Likewise, it isn't necessary to worry about your neighbors, who may be observing Sefirah now, hearing the music from your home, as long as it's playing at a usual, acceptable level.


Counting the Omer

Thursday, 12th April 2018

One should stand while counting the Omer.

If one asks someone else after sunset, what day in Sefirah (the counting) is it, and the other individual has not yet counted the Omer, he should not tell him what day it is now. Rather, he should say that "yesterday was such a number of days."

However, if while it was day, he said that "tonight is such and such a day in the Omer," he would be permitted to count the Omer at night with a Brocho (blessing)


Counting the Omer

Wednesday, 4th April 2018

If one forgot to count the Omer one night, he/she should count during that day (without a Brocho - blessing) and then can resume counting the following night with a Brocho. 
However, if one didn't remember to count on that day and sunset of the next day arrived, he/she must count the remainder of the Omer days without a Brocho, and preferably hear the Brocho from someone else who is counting.
The above rule is only if you are certain that you forgot to count on one of the nights. However, if you are unsure (Safek) if you missed a night, you may continue the rest of the Omer counting with a Brocho.


Tuesday, 27th March 2018

The Torah forbids us to waste or destroy items that can still be used.

The Torah commands us to burn - or otherwise destroy - all Chometz in our possession on Erev (the eve of)  Pesach (Passover) morning.

Can we reconcile these 2 Laws?

Seeing that it is a commandment not to have any chometz in our possession, it becomes a positive action, however, this can be fulfilled with a bare minimum of Chometz, preferably with leftovers that nobody would be able to use.

Usable Chometz can be donated to various charity organizations which will bo sold for the duration of Pesach and then distributed it to the needy.

Alternatively, Chametz can be sold to a non-Jew.

Finding Chametz on Pesach

Wednesday, 21st March 2018

If a person finds chometz in his house on chol hamoed, he must take it out and burn it.

If there is at least an olive-sized amount (k’zayis), he first recites the bracha of al bi’ur chometz.

One does not recite the bracha on less than a k’zayis (nor on something that is not actual chometz).

If one found chometz on yom tov, on Shabbos of chol hamoed, or on Shabbos that is erev Pesach – on a day of which he would not be permitted to handle the chometz because it is muktzeh – he should cover it with a vessel until after yom tov or Shabbos, then burn it.

If it was found on the last days of yom tov, when the first opportunity to burn it would therefore be after Pesach is over, he burns it without a bracha, even if it is more than a k’zayis.

Shabbos candles

Thursday, 15th March 2018

When lighting the Shabbos candles, it is best to light the candle that is closest to you first and then move on to the one behind that and continue to the ones further away until they have all been kindled. 
The reason for this is due to the rule of "Ain Ma'avirin Al Hamitzvos", the obligation to not pass over any Mitzvah that is in front of you in order to do a different Mitzvah that is further away.

If, however, by lighting the front candles first it will be difficult or dangerous to then reach over the already lit candles and light the rear candles, the rear candles may be lit first.

Melaveh Malkah

Thursday, 8th March 2018

Melaveh Malkah (literally "Escorting the queen" - this is the meal eaten after Shabbos as a means of escorting the Shabbos Queen)
Eating Melaveh Malkah, besides for being a Mitzvah, is also a Segulah (remedy) for various good things. 
The following is a list of various possible benefits:
a)   Refuoh (healing)
b)   Parnossoh (livelihood)
c)   Arichas Yomim (long life)
d)   Bonim (children)
e)   Tikun HaBris (rectification of breaches in holiness)
f)    For women to have easy labor
g)   For general Yeshuos (salvation) for problems in any area


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