Journal

L’chaim and Other Drinking Customs

by R. Ari Enkin There is a well-known custom of preceding the blessing on wine, especially on Shabbat, with the words savri maranan (“attention gentlemen”) or birshut maranan (“with your permission gentlemen”), depending on one’s custom.1  One of the explanations offered for this practice is that, throughout Scripture, wine is found to be both a positive and negative substance. It ...

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Reconsidering the Sheitel

by R. Yaakov Hoffman Can hair serve to conceal hair? The idea has been hotly contested in Jewish legal discourse since the sixteenth century, when some married women began to use wigs as their required hair covering.1 The debate has continued until the present day. Some communities and rabbis cling tenaciously to the stance that wigs are forbidden,2 whereas others ...

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Cutting Nails

by R. Ari Enkin One should trim one’s fingernails as part of one’s Shabbat preparations in order to ensure that one has a pleasant appearance in honor of Shabbat.1 One should not trim them in the order of one’s fingers,2 finger after finger, as it is taught that doing so can lead to forgetfulness and bad luck.3 Some believe that ...

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Non-Jewish Religious Symbols

by R. Ari Enkin It is quite common to discover that items in one’s possession contain religious symbols. This is often the case with postage stamps, perfumes, and even some brand name clothing whose logos include a cross. One might also live in a country whose flag contains a cross, which appears on T-shirts, passports, knapsacks, and other items produced ...

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Fish and Meat

by R. Ari Enkin It was once believed that eating fish and meat together was the cause of a terrible skin condition and was extremely dangerous to one’s health.1 As such, the rabbis instituted a prohibition against eating fish and meat together.2 It is forbidden to eat fish and poultry together, as well.3 Although nowadays there are no known health ...

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Coffee

by R. Ari Enkin As a general rule, it is forbidden to eat foods that were cooked by a non-Jew, a concept known as bishul akum. Even if all the ingredients of a cooked food are otherwise kosher, the food may be prohibited to eat if it was cooked by a non-Jew.1  The rules of bishul akum only apply to ...

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