Taking Out a Sefer Torah for a Child to See

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My two-year old loves sifrei Torah and when he is with me in the Beit Midrash, he is sometimes adamant that I take one out and show him the writing. May I do that?   Answer: One must treat a sefer Torah with great respect (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 282:1), but the halachot mentioned there do ...

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Corona Policies and Clarifications for Yom Kippur

by R. Daniel Mann Question: We will review some practical issues for Yom Kippur that are likely to come up this year, in the shadow of Corona. Although local rabbis will address many of them and public policy may change, we assume our discussion will be helpful.   Answer: 1. Pushing oneself to daven with a minyan – Regarding most of ...

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100 Blasts for the Homebound

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Because I am in the “at-risk” population, I will not go to shul for Rosh Hashana. I know how to blow shofar. Should I blow for myself 30 kolot, as is usually done for those who cannot make it to shul, or is it better to do 100? If the latter, should I do 31-60 ...

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Backing Out of a Pledge to a Jewish School

by R. Daniel Mann Question: May one to decide not to go through with his donation pledge to a Jewish school? If so, must he take steps such as hatarat nedarim? Answer: Your question is general, as will be the focus of our answer. Realize that details can make a big difference.   Pledges of a gift can obligate on various ...

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Trapping and Releasing on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: A couple of weeks ago, we saw a mouse in the house and put out a cage trap. A mouse was trapped last Shabbat. Because we felt bad for the mouse, we took it (on Shabbat) to an isolated area and let it out. Did we violate anything by trapping the mouse on Shabbat, or ...

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How to Detemine when Paying on Time Is

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I live in New York, but often people in Israel do work for me, which they send me via computer. How do I calculate my deadline to pay them and fulfill the mitzva to pay on time – based on my time-zone or my workers’? Answer: I did not find poskim who deal with this ...

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Women Passing through an Outdoor Minyan

by R. Daniel Mann Question: We have an outdoor “Corona minyan” outside the entrance of my building. Some men stand in locations that make it impossible to enter or exit the building without entering someone’s four amot. I (a woman) avoid passing by during davening, but to take my son to his school van, I go before Shemoneh Esrei. Last ...

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How Does the Chazan Act During Modim D’Rabbanan?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I have seen some chazanim wait, during their Modim, at “l’olam va’ed” for the tzibbur to finish Modim D’Rabanan. That seems to make the most sense, so everyone can hear all of Modim. Should everyone be doing that?    Answer: The gemara (Sota 40a) lists various recitations of praise to Hashem, proposed by different Amoraim, ...

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Is Raw Spaghetti Muktzeh?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: An open package of spaghetti fell out of the closet, with its contents spilling on the counter and floor. I swept up what was on the floor but left the spaghetti on the counter, as I was unsure if it was muktzeh. One of my boys noshed on some of it. Was he allowed to ...

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Touching Torah Scrolls

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I know that people are careful not to touch the parchment of a sefer Torah. Does this apply to other scrolls, like haftara scrolls and Megillat Esther? Answer: The gemara cites R. Parnach’s statement in two places: “Whoever holds a sefer Torah naked (i.e., with an uncovered hand (according to almost all)) will be buried ...

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