Halachah

Electronic Participation in a Siyum on Erev Pesach and Related Issues

by R. Asher Bush [1]Adapted by the author from Shu”t Shoel B’Shlomo, T’shuva #34 Twice, the Shulchan Aruch speaks of the obligation of the bechor (firstborn son) to fast on Erev Pesach (called Ta’anis Bechorim) – first in describing the events leading up to Pesach [2]Orach Chaim 429:2 and later in a chapter [3]Orach Chaim 470 devoted solely to this ...

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Is It Permissible to Refrain from Vaccinating Children?

by R. Asher Weiss Many poskim and communal leaders have asked me whether parents are obligated to inoculate their children by means of generally accepted vaccines in order to prevent terrible diseases, because some important rabbanim recently expressed the following opinion: Since there is concern that vaccination damages health, not only is it permissible not to vaccinate children, but it ...

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Hallel in Shul on Seder Night: Is Less More?

by R. Yaakov Hoffman Some Jews just can’t get enough Hallel. Not only do they say it during the Seder; they say it beforehand as well, at the end of Maariv. Doing so, however, is not a universal practice. Many Jews recite Hallel on Pesach night only during the Seder. What is the rationale behind each of these customs? While ...

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The Logic Behind the Unusual Fast of the Firstborn

by R. Daniel Mann Question: What type of fast is ta’anit bechorot on Erev Pesach? If it is a real fast, why do people use a loophole (taking part in a siyum) to get out of it? Answer: Acharonim raise several peculiarities of this fast, some of which may be related to the various opinions as to why the firstborns ...

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Temporary Markings in a Sefer Torah

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Is it permissible to mark a place in a sefer Torah with a “post-it” or the like to know where a reading starts? Answer: The gemara (Menachot 32b) says that a mezuza that is written like an iggeret (letter) is pasul, and Rashi includes in the possible problems, extra letters. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah ...

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Alerting People to Stand

by R. Daniel Mann Question: At our minyan, we take a sefer Torah from a beit midrash in which people are learning and return it to there. Sometimes when we return the sefer Torah, someone bangs so that everyone will stand up for it. Is this necessary? Answer: The Torah commands standing for people who deserve our respect, such as ...

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When Does a Negative Practice Become Binding?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: If one decided to accept a stringency and is refraining from doing something, without a verbal acceptance of a neder (oath), at what point is it considered binding? While for something active, three performances make it binding, how does refraining from action work to accomplish it? Answer: Let me strengthen this insightful question. We find ...

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Did The Talmud Really Say To Get Drunk On Purim?

by R. Asher Bush Every year as we approach Purim the routine seems more or less the same: schools and many rabbis point out that it really is not necessary or even appropriate to become drunk on Purim. Large segments of our community (most of their target audience) don’t take them seriously. When I say “don’t take them seriously,” I ...

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Extended Purim Seuda

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My family likes to have the Purim seuda toward the end of the day, and then we eat well into the night. What are the halachic implications (if any)? Answer: According to the normal rules, we would think that this is not an optimal practice. Presumably, every moment and element of festivity of Purim adds ...

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Birkat Kohanim: Singing

by R. Ari Enkin There is an ancient and widespread custom for the Kohanim to chant a tune between each of the three verses of Birkat Kohanim, something that may even pre-date the Talmudic era. [1]Kiddushin 71a. It has even been suggested that the tunes used by the kohanim nowadays originated at Mount Sinai. [2]Siach Yitzchak 73. The singing serves ...

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