Halachah

Raffle on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: May one hold a raffle on Shabbat? Answer: The mishna (Shabbat 148b) allows using a lottery on Shabbat to give out food servings to household members, as long as it is not to give the “winners” bigger pieces than the “losers.” The gemara (ibid. 149a) permits lotteries only within the household because others are assumed ...

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Batim of Tefillin on the Floor on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: The “retired” tefillin batim (in which the parshiyot go) I keep in a closet fell to the floor on Shabbat, inside a flimsy plastic bag. I intuited that it was better to pick them up than to leave them in disgrace on the floor. Was that correct? Answer: There are ample sources on the premise ...

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Listening to the Megilla with Limited Concentration

by R. Daniel Mann Question: It troubles me that I often daydream and/or doze off for a few words during Megilla reading. Do I fulfill the mitzva under those circumstances? Answer: You sound like most people. While almost impossible to pinpoint the level of concentration one needs to fulfill the mitzva, sharing what we do know gives a reasonable picture.   ...

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Age to Begin Wearing Tefillin

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My son is almost twelve. When is it best for him to start putting on tefillin (he is a responsible, religiously eager child)? We are ba’alei teshuva (without family minhagim). Answer: We will start with sources in the gemara. The mishna (Berachot 20a-b) lists tefillin among mitzvot that women and children are exempt from. On ...

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Unsure if he Recited Birkat Hatorah

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Sometimes I am unsure if I recited Birkat Hatorah (=BKHT) and so I plan to remedy the situation by having in mind to fulfill BKHT with Ahava Raba. Sometimes, though, I am not sure whether I had that in mind while I was reciting Ahava Raba. What do I do in such a case? Answer: ...

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Sheva Berachot Every Day of Sheva Berachot?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Is it necessary, proper, or at least recommended to have a sheva berachot celebration every day of the week of Sheva Berachot? Answer: We have to present as full a picture as possible to appreciate the nuances here. What we call the week of “Sheva Berachot” (=SB) the gemara (Ketubot 4a) calls “the seven days ...

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Beracha on Vegetable Soup with Soup Nuts

by R. Daniel Mann Question: What beracha/ot do I make on vegetable soup into which I put soup nuts? Answer: There are too many permutations to cover, but we will concentrate on the principles and the main cases and give you a few references to sources dealing with related complexities.  One of the major rules of berachot on food is ...

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Different Drinks for Kiddush

by R. Daniel Mann Question: If I do not want to drink wine/grape juice, may I use other drinks for Kiddush? Answer: The gemara (Pesachim 107a) prescribes wine to make Kiddush upon, and this generally applies across the board, for the two Kiddushes of the day, as well as Havdala. (We will not discuss other ceremonial occasions (e.g., brit mila, ...

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Using Hot Water on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: May I use my hot water on Shabbat since I have the boiler on a timer to go on every morning before I wake up? (My hands are arthritic; in the winter it is hard to wash with cold water.)  If this arrangement is unacceptable, please suggest a permitted one. Answer: There are two problems with extracting ...

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Beracha on Hearing Aids

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I am excited to be getting hearing aids, which will improve my quality of life greatly, so that it deserves a Shehecheyanu. Considering that my family will find it easier to speak to me, should I recite Hatov V’hameitiv?  Answer: Indeed Shehecheyanu is for important acquisitions; Hatov V’hameitiv is for those that also benefit others ...

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