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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Mezuza for a Storage Room

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I am moving into an apartment and want to know whether the storage room (in the building’s basement) requires a mezuza.  Answer: We will start with the basic question – whether a room used for storage is considered “beitecha” (your home – see Devarim 6:9). The gemara (Yoma 11a-b) cites conflicting opinions about whether various ...

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Sharing Kaddish in a Mourner’s House

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I am saying Kaddish and recently went to a shiva house for tefilla. After I said a Kaddish with the aveilim, someone told me only the aveil(im) in shiva may do so in a shiva house. Is he right? Answer: First we need to understand the stands on the question of whether all aveilim recite ...

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Mother’s Name for Prayers for Ill Convert

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I asked a friend who needs tefillot for her health what her name is for such purposes, and she answered, Shira bat Avraham Avinu. I knew she was a convert but wondered if this is the correct formula, as usually we use the mother’s name.  Answer: We have not found a halachic discussion of this ...

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Taking Over as Chazan after Yishtabach

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I was supposed to take over as chazan at Yishtabach, but I absentmindedly said Yishtabach quietly as the previous chazan was finishing Az Yashir. I quickly asked him to say Yishtabach and Chatzi Kaddish, after which I took over. Was this appropriate?  Answer: There were a few potential options to consider (besides telling your friend ...

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Going to and from an Aliya

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Can you explain the details of how one should walk to an aliya and how and when he should return? Answer: There are no direct Talmudic sources on this matter, but Rishonim and Acharonim apply general principles and parallel sources.  The Terumat Hadeshen (II:119) says that (assuming there are two openings to the bima) one ...

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Traveling to a Place without a Sukka

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Is it proper to go on a trip to a place where one does not know that he will have access to a sukka? Answer: The gemara (Sukka 26a) exempts from sitting in a sukka those who travel for mitzvot and even travelers for other purposes, but whereas the former are exempt day and night, ...

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Taking Tablets to Aid Fasting

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Is it permitted/proper to take pills before Yom Kippur that improve one’s fasting on Yom Kippur?   Answer: Clearly, while the Torah commands “v’initem et nafshoteichem” (afflict yourselves) on Yom Kippur (Vayikra 23:27), the command’s operative meaning is to refrain from eating and drinking (Yoma 74b). One fully violates this prohibition only by ingesting food through ...

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One or Two Breaths?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I will be blowing shofar in an Ashkenazi minyan. What should I be doing about blowing tashrat (tekia-shevarim-teruah-tekia) – with neshima achat (=na – shevarim and teruah with “one breath”) or shtei neshimot (= sn – a significant break between them)? Answer: The gemara (Rosh Hashana 34a) derives the need for three sets of shofar ...

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Does Pruzbol Ruin the Ability to Fulfill Shemittat Kesafim?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My community has a project that in our pruzbol (=prz – a mechanism to obviate shemittat kesafim (=sk)), one excludes a loan given through a gemach, upon which we fulfill the mitzva of sk (voiding loans at the end of Shemitta). Why can’t the prz apply to everything, and I still fulfill the mitzva by ...

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