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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Language in Which to Recite the Haggada

by R. Daniel Mann Question: At our seder, there will be a wide range in Hebrew proficiency and understanding of the Haggada’s texts. What language should we use to read the Haggada? Answer: The mishna (Sota 32a) lists texts that may be recited in any language, including Kri’at Shema, tefilla, Birkat Hamazon. While the Haggada is not mentioned, it is ...

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Paying Earlier than the Payment Plan Prescribed

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My company pays suppliers with payment plans we work out in advance with each one. Occasionally, a supplier calls with a request that we pay earlier than already agreed in exchange for a “cash” purchase discount we work out. (By “cash,” we include checks and debit cards – the point is that payment is not ...

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Interest in a Loan from an Irrevocable Trust Fund

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My father set up an irrevocable trust fund with my three sisters, brother, and I as beneficiaries. A specialized company (probably not Jewish, although our trust is handled by Jews) serves as trustee. I “borrowed” money interest-free from the fund to buy a house, but it is unlikely I will have to return the loan, ...

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Dividing Megillat Esther Among Readers

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Is it proper to divide the reading of Megillat Esther among multiple baalei kri’ah? Answer: It depends what you mean by “proper,” as we will explain. The gemara’s (Megilla 21a-b) discussion of multiple ba’alei kri’ah refers to their reading at the same time, which is valid (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 290:2) although rarely done. The ...

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