How to Tell When Your Tefillin Need Adjustment

by R. Daniel Mann [Periodically, we re-issue our discussion on the proper position of tefillin shel rosh (last time, seven years ago). Many people do not realize that tefillin extending too far forward is a far more severe problem than being slightly off center. In Living the Halachic Process, I:G-1, we develop the halacha that the end of the tefillin ...

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Dessert after Birkat Hamazon

by R. Daniel Mann Question: A friend of mine always eats dessert after Birkat Hamazon in order to avoid questions about whether he should make a beracha on dessert. Is that appropriate?   Answer: The practice of having dessert after Birkat Hamazon has various consequences. It can create a beracha rishona in cases that do not warrant them during the meal. ...

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How Much Should the Mezamen Recite Aloud?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I learned that the mezamen (= mzm – leader of zimun) should recite, if not all of Birkat Hamazon (=BHM) aloud, at least the first beracha and the ends of berachot. Most people do neither. What should I do and/or tell others to do?   Answer: There are two reasons for mzm to recite aloud parts ...

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Differences of a Second Marriage

by R. Daniel Mann Question: At a second marriage for both chatan and kalla, what is different from at a regular wedding? Answer: The following is an overview, regarding a second marriage for both chatan and kalla; some differences depend only on the kalla’s status. Some issues are affected by details or sensitivities, especially regarding issues that are less halachic ...

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Non-negotiated Fees

by R. Daniel Mann Question: When a service provider and a hirer do not discuss the fee in advance and disagree later, what does Halacha say about resolving the disagreement? Answer: When we adjudicate such cases in beit din, we usually need to consider particular circumstances. We would give two pieces of advice. Discuss as many important matters as possible ...

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When a Non-Jew “Clicks” a Door Open on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My shul has a guard station near the entrance. The non-Jewish guard has instructions that, on Shabbat, he should get up to open the door for people manually. Sometimes he electrically clicks the door unlocked. When that happens, may I enter, or should I wait for him to get up and open the door? Answer: ...

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Rings, Watches, and Tefillin

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I wear a wedding ring and a watch on my left arm, and I do not like taking them off. Is it permitted to keep them on when I put on tefillin?  Answer: The mishna (Megilla 24b) criticizes those who place tefillin shel yad on their sleeves, for believing that since the Torah calls them ...

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Lighting Candles when Staying at Another’s House

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I am traveling to the US on Chanuka; my wife will be staying home. When I will be staying with family and/or friends, can/should I light there regularly? Answer: The gemara (Shabbat 23a) states that an achsenai (guest) is obligated in Chanuka lighting. It then tells of Rav Zeira as a guest, who as a ...

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Making Sure Your Check Is Cashed

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I owed someone (=Reuven) 2,000 NIS, and he asked to give him an “open check” (i.e., payee left open), which he would give to someone else (=Shimon). I do not know whom or why. A couple of months have gone by, and the check has not been cashed. I believe that if Reuven, with whom ...

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Paying a Babysitter for Work on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: We need a babysitter for a few hours on Shabbat. Is there a problem paying her for Shabbat work? Answer: S’char Shabbat (pay for permitted services one provided on Shabbat) is forbidden Rabbinically like other commercial activity, lest one come to write (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 306:4; Mishna Berura ad loc. 16). The direct prohibition ...

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