Halachah

Paying for Job One Thought Was Free

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My child’s friend (under bar mitzva) has joined my son in helping me with various chores and projects. He has asked many times if I will pay him and I say, “No.” I have never demanded him to help, although I appreciate it. Now he has come to me with the claim that I owe ...

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Nichum Aveilim by Phone and by Email

by R. Daniel Mann Question: If it is difficult for me to do nichum aveilim in person, may I do it by phone or by email, and is one better than the other? Answer: Nichum aveilim is on the Rambam’s (Avel 14:1) list of Rabbinic obligations that are fulfillments of the Torah commandment to love one’s friend like himself. The ...

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Berachot on Snacks and Drinks Throughout a House

by R. Daniel Mann Question: When I am home for extended periods, I take snacks and drinks on no particular schedule, and I move from room to room and floor to floor. A similar situation exists at work, where I am based in one office but also go to other rooms. Should I make berachot each time I eat or ...

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Respect for the Elderly

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Is one required to give special respect to an individual between 60 and 70 years old? I remember that one stands up only for those over 70. Answer: While we should be respectful of people in general and certainly older people, the specific mitzva regarding older people is standing for them. The Torah commands: “Stand up ...

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Davening Early on Shavuot

by R. Daniel Mann Question: In a shul with many elderly members who have trouble staying up late, may we have a minyan for Ma’ariv of Shavuot before tzeit hakochavim (=tzeit)? Answer: The idea of waiting until tzeit to start Shavuot is not found in Chazal but arises first in early Acharonim, beginning with the Masat Binyamin (Chiddushei Dinim, Orach ...

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Use of a Fat Separator on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Is it permitted to use a fat separator on Shabbat? Answer: (A fat separator is a regular container with a spout, except that the spout comes out from near its bottom. When one pours stock or gravy into it, forces of nature (lighter parts of a liquid mixture rise) cause the fat to rise to ...

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Missing the Beginning of Havdala

by R. Daniel Mann Question: This week, I did not hear the beracha of Borei Pri Hagafen during Havdala. Was I required to hear Havdala again? Answer: Clearly the most important beracha of Havdala is the final one of Hamavdil, which contains its basic content. The berachot on besamim and on fire are not crucial obligations (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim ...

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Ba’omer or La’omer?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Which is the correct version of counting the omer – “… yamim la’omer” or “… yamim ba’omer”? Is there a content difference or only a grammatical one between them? Answer: Let’s start with the simple background. Omer is the measurement of barley brought as a korban on the second day of Pesach, and it is ...

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Tithe from Proceeds of a Damage Suit Settlement

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I was injured in a car accident a few years. I had and will have large, related medical expenses. I just received a large damages payment. Should I give ma’aser kesafim (tithe) from it? Answer: Refuah shleima! It is important to realize the nature of the practice of ma’aser kesafim. Tzedaka is a mitzva from the ...

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Doing Kaddish After Lacking Full Participation

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Can the final Kaddish D’Rabbanan at the end of tefilla be said when there is a minyan only when counting people who are not reciting Pitum Haketoret (e.g., busy taking off their tefillin)?  Also, is it proper for one to say Kaddish D’Rabbanan or Kaddish Yatom along with others in shul when they did not ...

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