Monthly Archives: October 2010

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Adar II 5763 – Doll Collections

L’chvod HaRav,

I know there is an issur when it comes to having graven images (of a face) in one’s home. Concerning dolls, I’ve heard that it’s allowed because it’s considered a toy for a child. What happens when someone has a doll collection (e.g. of antique dolls) on display? Is the doll only considered a “graven image” if it looks exactly like a human (e.g. with fingernails)?

Thank you,
Adina
Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim 5760

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Dear Adina,

Thank you for your question. The Shulchan Oruch, Yoreh Deah 141:4 states that a Jew may not keep the form of a human (i.e. a doll) in his home, unless it is for the purpose of learning or teaching (e.g. a mannequin on
which to teach CPR, or to use to teach students health and hygiene, etc.).
The Rema and the Shach there both point out that the difference is because, the whole reason why it is forbidden to keep a doll is because of “Chashad”, i.e. people might come to suspect that you use it for Avoda Zara. A doll which is used for teaching is clearly not for Avoda Zara. The Chachmas Adam (Klal 85 Halacha 6) states that today that today it is permitted to keep dolls, since no one would suspect that you have it to worship, since Avoda Zara is totally not prevalent. He concludes there “how much more so this is true if you damage one of the eyes or do something similar, there is certainly no Chashad”.

Therefore, a person may keep a doll collection of even life like dolls today in their home, based on these words of the Chachmas Adam. However, there is certainly room to be Machmir and not go out of your way to collect them, and if you happen to own them, to make some slight damage in them.

Be well,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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Adar I 5763 – Kemach Yoshon

Ask the Posek is your opportunity to ask halachic shailos to your poskim who know you and understand where you are coming from.

1 Adar Aleph 5763

L’chvod HaRav:

What is Kemach Yoshon? How does it work, today? Why are so many people into it today as opposed to 10 years ago?

Thank you for your help.

Name & Seminary Withheld

Dear Name Withheld,

Thanks for your question. There is a Torah prohibition not to eat any products of the five types of grains specified in the Torah (wheat, barley, oats, spelt, and rye) before the second day of Pesach, the 16th of Nissan, when the Korban Omer was brought. If planted before the 16th of Nissan, it may be used after that time. However, if planted (or actually take root) after that time, it may not be eaten before the 16th of Nissan of the following year. Therefore, wheat etc., planted during the summer and harvested in the fall, may not be eaten until after the next 16th of Nissan, in the spring. During the time that it is prohibited, it is known as “Chodosh”, the new grain. When it is permissible, it is known as “Yoshon”, the old grain. All grains sold during the spring and the summer can be assumed to be Yoshon, since it is likely that they were planted before the 16th of Nissan. The problem starts to arise when the spring and summer grains hit the market in the fall.

The majority of Poskim rule that this prohibition applies both in Israel and in Chutz LaAretz. There are some that say that although it does apply in the Chutz LaAretz, it only applies to grain grown on Jewish owned land. Many great Rabbis have ruled that we should be stringent even if grown on non-Jewish land in the Chutz LaAretz, if possible.

The reason why this only recently became a problem in America is because for many, many years America had a surplus of wheat that they would store, and would only sell the older wheat to the millers. Therefore, all wheat was Yoshon. However, approximately 10-15 years ago they sold off their surplus wheat to the Russians, and the new wheat is hitting the market before the 16th day of Nissan. Although they once again have a surplus, the experts say that they are storing the older wheat indefinitely, and allowing the new wheat to come to the market.

Although a person may decide to rely on those Poskim who permit the “new” grains in Chutz LaAretz, all agree that in Israel it is prohibited. If grain is not Yoshon in Israel, it is simply not Kosher. Therefore, one can assume that Israeli products that have a reliable Kosher certification are Yoshon.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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Shevat 5763 – Women Swimming & Male Lifeguards

15 Shevat 5763

L’chvod HaRav:

I have been bothered by a psak that has been accepted worldwide for MANY years and I’m hoping that you can perhaps explain or clarify things for me. I don’t understand why it is acceptable according to halacha, that women are allowed to swim in a pool that is watched over by a male lifeguard. I was under the impression that the reason why this is allowed, is because of pikuach nefesh, that a man can save a person better than a woman can. I’m not feminist, but I know that there are plenty of perfectly licensed women who are just as capable to save a life as men are. Furthermore, it seems that this must be an extremely big kulah, because I personally don’t think that the male lifeguard’s intensions are l’shaim shamoyim. I’m sure that the men who are lifeguards don’t really care about saving lives for the most part. I love to swim, but shouldn’t the halacha be that if you can’t swim in a kosher way, then don’t swim at all – like it is with many other sports, like skiing, paint balling, rock climbing etc…?

Can you please explain to me why this psak is acceptable, why it doesn’t apply to other sports, and which Rav announced this psak?

Thank you for your help.

Name Withheld
Darchei Binah 5763

Dear Name Withheld,

Thank you for a very interesting question. First of all, I was unaware that such a Psak had been rendered in a public manner, so I really can’t help you in determining which Rav may have announced this Psak. Most religious women that I know will only swim at a pool where there are female lifeguards, or will wear a robe if there are males present. I am aware, though, that at separate beaches in Israel it is common for women to swim in the presence of male lifeguards, the rationale being that most women lifeguards may not be strong enough to carry out an ocean rescue if CH”V needed. However, even in this situation, many women will only go into the ocean in their robes, and this is certainly preferable, when possible.

However, you are correct in observing that some religious women don’t have a problem swimming in the presence of male lifeguards in their bathing suits. In their defense, I’d like to explain as follows. The regular Chiyuv to dress in a modest manner only applies in a public area, where Bnos Yisrael dress in this fashion. At a swimming pool or on the beach, if it is designated for women only, it would be permitted to dress as Bnos Yisroel normally do in this venue, in their bathing suits. However, there is another problem, that of “Lifnei Iver”, appearing in front of a man in a manner in which he will have improper thoughts, which applies in all situations. In Halacha we find a concept of “Torud B’Melachto”- when a man is involved in doing a job, we say that he is busy concentrating on properly doing his job, and you are not transgressing Lifnei Iver be appearing in front of him in an undressed manner since he will not be easily distracted from his job, as he would be if he just happened to be sitting there. This can be compared to a male doctor who is doing a routine checkup on a female patient, he is busy doing his job in the most professional manner, and we don’t have to be concerned that his mind might wander. However, if you are certain that this is not the case, it would certainly not be appropriate to swim in the presence of such a lifeguard, or to allow yourself to be examined by such a physician.

I’m not certain what you mean regarding the difference between swimming and other sports. If you don’t mind explaining, perhaps I could better help you.

I hope that this is helpful for you.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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Teves 5763 – Kosher Detergent & Shatnez

1 Teves 5763

L’chvod HaRav:

Does detergent for clothes or dishes have to have a hechsher? Please site source. I don’t think it does but others think otherwise…

Thank you for your help.

Name & Seminary Withheld

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Dear Name Withheld,

Thank you for your question. It is very clear from the Shulchan Oruch (Yoreh De’ah Siman 103 and 107) that something that is not edible cannot be considered unkosher, and may be used, even if it has non-Kosher ingredients. Consequently, laundry detergent certainly requires no Hechsher, since it is clearly inedible. This is especially true since it isn’t consumed orally in any way (although some may argue that dishtowels washed with laundry detergent and not rinsed properly might present a problem, this is really no problem since, as above, the detergent is inedible). Regarding dish detergent, there are certain kinds that might be considered edible, according to some opinions, and it is therefore a good idea to buy with a Hechsher. However, if there is nothing else available, any dish detergent may be used as well.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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L’chvod HaRav:

I have an interesting question regarding Shatnez. I heard that it is an Isur D’rabanan to wear a wool garment and a linen garment together. So, I was wondering if the following scenario falls under the same Isur: wearing a linen skirt and a wool coat. This occurred to me while I was wearing it a while ago, and it was quite shocking!

Thank you for your time and for your consideration.

Daniella Halstuch
Darchei Binah 5761

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Dear Daniella,

Thank you for your question. The Issur you mention is only if one is on top of the other in a manner in which the inner garment could not be removed in any way at all without first taking off the outer garment, and they are touching each other. This would not apply to wearing a wool coat over a linen skirt.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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Kislev 5763 – Washing Hands

1 Kislev 5763

L’chvod HaRav:

What is the halacha with regard to washing your hands six times (three on each hand) after one leaves the bathroom? I always get confused!!

Thank you for your help.

Rebecca Halstuch
Darchei Binah 5761

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for your question. There are two primary reasons for the requirement to wash our hands. One is because of Nekius – cleanliness, after we engage in an activity which would dirty or sully our hands, and before we Daven, learn, eat, etc. For this, we can wash our hands with anything that cleans them, there is no required amount of times to wash, and no cup is necessary. The other is because of Ruach Ra’ah, a “spirit of impurity” which can come onto a person and will only leave after they have washed their hands three times, alternating hands each time, and with a proper cup. Examples of when this would be required are when waking up in the morning, after taking a haircut, and after entering a bathhouse or bathroom, even if you did not bathe or use the facilities.

The actual act of going to the bathroom is in the first category, and just for going to the bathroom there is no requirement to wash your hands three times. However, as we mentioned above, there is a Ruach Ra’ah in a bathroom. Many Poskim today qualify this and say that our bathrooms don’t have a Ruach Ra’ah, since there is no buildup of waste in the bathroom itself, it is immediately flushed away. It is also not so simple according to Halacha that our showers qualify as the bathhouses that Chaza”l spoke about. Therefore, many people are lenient today and don’t wash three times after using the bathroom. If you DO wash three times, it isn’t helpful to wash in the bathroom sink, as the requirement is after just BEING in the bathroom. This is why most Israeli apartments have sinks just outside the bathroom for washing, to circumvent this issue.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler