Finding Out Late about the Presence of a Kohen or Levi

by R. Daniel Mann Question: As a gabbai, sometimes I do not realize either that a kohen is present and I give the first aliya to a non-kohen, or that a levi is present and I give the second aliya to the kohen. What do we do when this is discovered?  Answer: It depends. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 135:6-7) ...

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Davening Outside with Gloves

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I daven in an outdoor minyan due to Corona. Is it permitted to wear gloves while davening in cold temperatures? Answer: First, I am proud to be in the same nation as a person as sincere as you. The Bach (on Orach Chayim 91), an early Acharon, is the first major source to raise a ...

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Pressuring a Store to Take Back Purchase

R. Daniel Mann Question: I bought something in a store and wanted to return it. The customer service person was reluctant to take it back, but I was persistent and she eventually agreed to it. Was it permitted for me to handle it as I did, or did I violate lo tachmod (I heard in a shiur that you can ...

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The Necessity to See the Moon Before Kiddush Levana

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Last week clouds covered the moon after some of us began Kiddush Levana. Can the remainder rely on their “testimony” to join the beracha?   Answer: Many early sources (Yerushalmi, Berachot 9:2; Sanhedrin 42a, in some texts; Rambam, Berachot 10:16; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 426:1) present the seeing of the moon as the presumed prompt for making ...

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A Kohen Serving Others

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I am a kohen who likes to fit in with others. When I lend a helping hand, occasionally someone tells me that I need not or should not because I am a kohen. Should I listen to them?   Answer: The Torah (Vayikra 21:8) writes about a kohen “v’kidashto” (you shall sanctify him), from which Chazal ...

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Tefillin Prepared by Children under Bar Mitzva

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Several years ago, when I was 11, my (Orthodox) shul brought in a person who makes tefillin batim (boxes) and guided several friends and me to more or less make our own tefillin. Someone questioned me as to whether the tefillin are kosher because I was not yet bar mitzva. I would rather not ask my rabbi, who ...

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Backing Out of a Verbal Offer to a Potential Worker

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I needed work done on my house – only part of the job acutely. I contacted Reuven, who came recommended; he quoted a high price. Because of the acute need, I agreed without shopping around. When he said he could only come a week later, I found Shimon to do the first part of the ...

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The Son of a Convert Feeling Looked Down Upon

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My father converted (his mother was not Jewish). I have struggled with my identity due to what I have read in the Kuzari, Maharal and Kabbalistic and Chassidic works, which seem to view gerim as lesser than born Jews. Does Judaism view someone like me as somewhat defective?  Answer: You are wise to seek information ...

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When to Say Yehiyu L’ratzon

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Does Yehiyu L’ratzon (=YL) come before or after Elokai Netzor (=EN) and/or personal requests at the end of Shemoneh Esrei (=SE)?   Answer: The gemara (Berachot 4b) cites R. Yochanan as instructing to recite the pasuk “Hashem sefatai tiftach …” (=HST) (Tehillim 51:17) in the beginning of SE and “Yehiyu l’ratzon …” (ibid. 19:15) at its ...

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Davening for a Friend on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I regularly daven that my friend will find a shidduch. May I do so, mentioning her name, on Shabbat?  Answer: After seeing ostensibly conflicting sources on making requests of Hashem on Shabbat and seeing some distinctions that poskim raise, we can address your question about your friend’s shidduch needs.  The Yerushalmi (Shabbat 15:3) forbids davening ...

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