of anticipating the receiving of the Torah (quoted by Ran, end of Pesachim). At the same time, it is unfortunate that this very same part of the year has witnessed much tragedy for the Jewish people. Indeed, the Mishnah (Eduyos 2:10) points out that the season between Pesach and Shavuos is a time of travail. One major calamity that befell us during this season is the plague that took the lives of the 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva. They died within several weeks in one year between Pesach and Shavuos because they did not treat one another with proper respect (Yevamos 62b). The world was desolate for the loss of Torah until Rabbi Akiva went to the southern part of Eretz Yisroel to teach five great scholars, Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehudah, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Rabbi Yosi, and Rabbi Elozor ben Shamua, who became the upholders of the future of Torah.Full Story »
The Mourning Period of Sefirah -What Are the Guidelines of the Aveilus Observed During the Sefirah Weeks?
Question #1: My shoes tore on Yom Tov. May I have them repaired on Chol HaMoed?
Question #2: The supermarket has something on sale on Chol HaMoed that I need for after Yom Tov. May I purchase it?
Question #3: I am visiting my parents in Chutz La’Aretz for Yom Tov. I know that I must keep two days of Yom Tov while visiting them, but does that permit me to cook on Chol HaMoed for their Simchas Torah?Full Story »
As mentioned above, the mitzvah of counting omer begins from the day that the korban omer is offered. This implies that when there is no korban omer, there is no requirement min hatorah to count the omer (Menachos 66a). Indeed, most poskim contend that since there is unfortunately no Beis Hamikdash today and there are no korbanos, there is no mitzvah min hatorah to count omer (Ran, end of Pesachim; see Shulchan Aruch 489:3 and Mishnah Berurah). However, Chazal instituted that we should count omer even though there is no Beis Hamikdash in order to remember the mitzvah as it was at the time of the Beis HaMikdash. (Menachos 66a).Full Story »
Question #1: I have acid reflux, and as a result I never drink any alcohol since it gives me severe heartburn. I also have difficulty tolerating grape juice, which does not agree with me. Am I required to drink either wine or grape juice for the four cups at the Seder?
Question #2: My body is intolerant to gluten. Am I required to eat matzoh on Pesach, and if so, how much?”
Question #3: How far must one go to fulfill the mitzvah of maror when the only variety available is straight horseradish?Full Story »
The Four Questions of Matzoh Purchasing
The First Question Is: On all other nights of the year we do not check our matzoh and bread, although we sometimes check our flour before we bake with it; on this night of Pesach we check our matzoh before eating it. For what are we checking?
The Second Question Is: On all other nights of the year we eat any kind of matzoh; on this night of Pesach, some people eat only hand matzoh, others eat only machine-made machine, and still others eat hand matzoh for the bracha and machine matzoh afterwards. What is the basis for these different practices?Full Story »
Question #1: A certain rav told me that he was unhappy that some kosher for Pesach apple sauce products contain vitamin C, which he claims is kitniyos. But I see some reliable Ashkenazic hechsherim containing vitamin C. Does that rav have his facts wrong?
Question #2: My sister married a Sefardi, who eats rice on Pesach. Does this mean that I will be unable to eat in their house on Pesach?Full Story »
“Rabbi,” he begins, “I have heard that it is best to use red, non-pasteurized wine at the seder. However, my father-in-law likes Chablis, which is a white wine, and my mother-in-law never drinks any wine. The grape juice she likes is from concentrate, and someone told me that one cannot use it for kiddush. What should I do?”Full Story »
Question #1: Zev is studying in Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel and has decided that he wants to settle there, although his parents, who support him, live in Flatbush. How many days of Yom Tov should he observe?
Question #2: Avi and Rutie, who are native Israelis, have accepted teaching positions in chutz la’aretz for two years, but certainly intend to return to Eretz Yisroel afterwards. Must they observe both days of Yom Tov while they are in chutz la’aretz?Full Story »
“Rivkah is a student at Bnos Aliyah Seminary and is uncertain whether she should keep one day of Yom Tov or two. A few weeks ago she visited a family for Shabbos and mentioned her predicament. The man of the house graciously told her that he answers halachic inquiries and ruled that she need keep only one day of Yom Tov. However, upon returning to Seminary, a teacher told Rivkah that she should not ask her shaylah from anyone, but must ask one of the seminary rabbis. Rivkah did so, and was told to keep two days. Subsequently, someone told her that she should not have asked the question a second time and must follow the first ruling she received. Now she is in a dilemma: should she observe the second day of Yom Tov or not? Is she supposed to find someone reciting Kiddush or Havdalah?”Full Story »
In the year 5017 (1257), several hundred Baalei Tosafos, led by Rav Yechiel of Paris, headed for Eretz Yisroel. An almost-contemporary gadol, the Kaftor VaFarech, records a fascinating story (Vol. 1, page 101 in the 5757 edition). Rav Ashtori HaParchi, the author of Kaftor VaFarech, had gone to Yerushalayim to have his sefer reviewed by a talmid chacham named Rav Baruch. Rav Baruch told the Kaftor VaFarech that Rav Yechiel had planned to offer korbanos upon arriving in Yerushalayim. Kaftor VaFarech records that at the time he was preoccupied completing his sefer and did not think about the halachic issues involved, but afterwards realized that there were practical halachic problems (that we will discuss shortly) with Rav Yechiel’s plan. I think we can assume that Rav Yechiel’s plan to offer korbanos failed, presumably because Yerushalayim was under Crusader rule at the time.Full Story »