Category Archives: Ask the Posek

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Shevat 5771 – Of Washing / Thunder / Eating Before Purchase In Supermarkets

Of Washing / Thunder / Eating Before Purchase In Supermarkets Shevat 5771
Of Washing / Thunder / Eating Before Purchase In Supermarkets
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

Dear Rabbi Tendler,
Can you dry your hands on your clothing if you’re not wearing them?

Thank you very much.
Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your question. The Mogen Avraham (Orach Chaim 158:17) quotes the Tashbe”tz states that a person should not wipe their hands on their shirt (Chaluko) after washing Netilas Yadayim, as this is “Kasheh L’Shikcha”- makes a person more likely to forget their learning. The Pri Megadim (Aishel Avraham- quoted there in the Mishna Berura 45) asks whether or not this applies to other clothing as well, as is unsure of the answer. Likewise, it is not clear if this applies only to a garment that you are wearing, or even one that you aren’t wearing at that time. Therefore, a person should refrain from wiping their hands on any garment even if they aren’t wearing it, unless there is absolutely nothing else available.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

Dear Rabbi Tendler,
How often is one allowed to say the brachos on thunder and lightening? Can it be said more than once a day?

Thank you very much.
Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your question. The Beracha on thunder and lightning may be said many times in one day, but only once per every “event”, In other words, if it is the same storm, you should not make the Beracha each time you hear thunder and see lightning. If the storm cleared up and then another one came along, you should make the Beracha again.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

Dear Rabbi Tendler,
Are you allowed to hold something in your hand while washing (such as a ring)?

Thank you very much.
Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your question. The Halacha is that when washing the water must come into contact with your entire hand, without any Chatzitzah (barrier) preventing this from happening. If you are holding something it is pretty much impossible for this to occur, and therefore it should be put down before washing.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

Dear Rabbi Tendler,
Is it permissible to eat a food item in the store before purchasing it, with the knowledge that you will surely buy it? For instance, you or your child opens up the package of pop corn, eats from it and then hand it to the cashier to pay for it on the way out.

Thank you very much.
Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your question. This really depends on whether or not the store owner allows this. It can usually be assumed that this is allowed under extenuating circumstances, e.g. to calm a hysterical baby, as long as you make sure the item is paid for. However, the best thing is to ask the manager or whoever is in charge of the store at that time.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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Adar I 5771 – Saying Tehilim…At Night?

Saying Tehilim...At Night? Adar I 5771
Saying Tehilim…At Night?
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

Dear Rabbi Tendler,
I have a question concerning saying Tehillim. I belong to a Tehillim group that has been together for almost two years meeting several hours after Mot’zei Shabbat. Just recently one of the women announced that she was told not to say Tehillim in the evening and for sure not Mot’zei Shabbat. What does this mean for the rest of us? Are there set rulings for saying Tehillim? Help!

Thank you very much.
Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your question. The truth is, it isn’t only an issue regarding Tehillim, but studying any part of the Written Torah in the evening would be forbidden according to those who observe this Minhag. The Be’er Heitev, in his commentary on the Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim 238:1, quotes this custom in the name of the Ari Z”L. The Shaar Hatziyon there states that even according to the Minhag, it is only a preference to study Torah during the day rather than at night, but if this is too inconvenient, it is certainly permissible to study Torah and recite Tehillim at night. The Teshuvos Be’er Moshe, Vol IV Siman 22 states that if Tehillim are being recited on behalf of someone who is sick or in need, there is no basis at all not to recite Tehillim at night.

This custom is based on a Medrash that states that when Moshe Rabbeinu was studying Torah with Hashem on Har Sinai, he could tell the difference between night and day because during the day Hashem would study the Written Torah with him, and at night the Oral Torah. On the other hand, the Gemara in Berachos (3b) teaches us that Dovid HaMelech would compose and recite Tehillim at night after Chatzos (midnight). The Be’er Moshe therefore says that there is no reason not to recite Tehillim after Chatzos, if one wishes.

Interestingly, according to all opinions, if Tehillim are being studied with their commentaries, it is permitted even earlier during the night (i.e. before midnight). So, you might wish to propose a compromise where your group could become a Tehillim study group, rather than a gathering for women to recite Tehillim. This can also be done in the merit of someone who is sick or in need.

I am not familiar with any distinction between Motzaei Shabbos and any other night regarding this custom.

I hope that this is somewhat helpful.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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Adar II 5771 – Coffee!!

Coffee!! Adar II 5771
Coffee!!
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

Dear Rabbi Tendler,

Can you please bring some clarity to a much talked about issue – COFFEE! Can you buy brewed coffee from machines in stores [7 /11 – Starbucks etc]? Is there a difference between flavored and unflavored? If you want to sit down in the store and drink it, can you use their utensils [cups, spoons], or do you need to always use disposable things? What about the brewed coffee on airplanes? Can you drink that? If the answer is no, does that include El Al as well? Are there other issues about coffee that we would need to know?

Please shed some light on this big issue!

Thank You!
Sharfmans 2009

Thank you for your important question. There are three primary Halachic issues that need to be addressed regarding the Shaaloh of drinking non-homemade coffee (e.g. from a coffee shop, vending machine, or on an airplane). The first is the actual Kashrus of the coffee itself. The second is the status of the utensils they are prepared and served in. The third is whether or not it might be prohibited because of Bishul Akum.

Kashrus of the Coffee

Unflavored coffees, whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, may be assumed to be Kosher. However, they would need to be certified Kosher L’Pesach for Pesach use. Flavored coffees should not be used without a Hechsher.

All creamers, dairy and non-dairy require a Hechsher. Sugar does not require a Hechsher.

Utensils the Coffee is Prepared and Served In

If there is reason to believe that the coffee was prepared using any utensils that may have been used for non Kosher food or coffee, it shouldn’t be considered Kosher. Cups and spoons that may have been used for non-Kosher hot drinks should not be used, either.

This would present a problem purchasing coffee from a vending machine, unless you know that it exclusively dispenses Kosher products. The vendor often changes the flavors dispensed through various nozzles, and it is possible that this nozzle was previously used for a hot flavored non-Kosher coffee.

Coffee shops generally use separate pots for the flavored and non-flavored coffees, so this should not be a concern. On airplanes as well, the pots are generally used exclusively for non-flavored coffees, so one can assume that the coffee itself is Kosher.

Even if you are certain the product is Kosher, and the pot is used exclusively for Kosher products, you must be certain that other utensils used in making this product are used exclusively for Kosher products as well. This includes mixing spoons and steam wands, in the case of fancier coffee drinks.

The Minhag is not to be concerned about the problem of the utensils being washed together with non-Kosher utensils, unless you know for a fact that they are washed together using very hot water, for a number of reasons.

Bishul Akum

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (38:12) states that a “Shomer Nafsho,” one who wishes to guard their Nefesh, should be careful not to drink coffee, tea or hot chocolate that has been prepared by a non-Jew on a consistent basis because of Bishul Akum. Each person should decide for himself whether or not he or she qualifies as a Shomer Nafsho. If one feels that this is an appropriate description of one’s self, this would seem to preclude a person from going to coffee shops such as Starbuck’s on a consistent basis. This would not preclude someone from enjoying coffee prepared by a non-Jew occasionally, such as when traveling on an airplane (El Al or any other airline), or purchasing occasionally from a vending machine, when one knows the abovementioned problems are not a concern.

Other Halachic Issues Related to Drinking Coffee

The Halacha is that we only make a Beracha Achrona on a drink when a Revi’is (approx. 3.3 ozs. which is a bit less than 1/2 a cup) has been drunk within a short amount of time. Therefore, the Mishna Berura recommends that a person should leave over this amount when sipping a hot beverage until the end, when it has sufficiently cooled, and drink it at once, so that they could make a proper Beracha Achrona on the drink.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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Iyar 5771 – The Halachik Side Of Art Courses

The Halachik Side Of Art Courses Iyar 5771
The Halachik Side Of Art Courses
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

Lichvod Rav Tendler

I am going to an art school – and though I realize that I need to be in touch with a Rav for specifics – can you give me the halachik perspective, general p’sak, and the issurim involved for:

1] painting very immodest models [male and female] [real people who are posing]

2] painting or doing sculptures of humans in general

3] painting sunrises / sunsets / moonscapes

4] painting or doing sculptures of animals

Thank you so much for your time!

This is all so confusing!

Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your interesting question. This is an area of Halacha that many people are unfamiliar with, and as such many mistakes can be made. There is a Siman in the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch devoted to these Halachos (Siman 168) as well as a section in the Chochmas adam (85), and it is certainly worthwhile studying these Halachos for yourself, as they will be relevant for your duration and art school, and in your career as an artist, if that is what you choose as a profession.

Regarding painting immodest models, this is certainly not allowed according to Halacha. Even if this would mean giving up your career, it would be Ossur and inappropriate for a Bas Yisroel to be in the presence of models who are posing in this manner. In a situation in which one is being compelled to do this, a competent Rav who knows you well should be consulted who can assist you in navigating your way out of, or through, this situation.

A realistic drawing or sculpture of the full human form or face is not permitted. However, a side partial view of the face is allowed. There are Poskim who differentiate between a flat image and a raised image, and, if necessary, one may rely on those Poskim who say that this Issur is only applicable to raised images and sculptures, and not paintings.

We may not draw realistic images of the sun and moon. If a sunrise or sunset is being painted and only part of the sun is being portrayed, there are those who allow this. However, a partial moon should not be painted in a realistic manner, since this is how it appears in the sky. A moonscape would be allowed, as it would be no different than a landscape, which is clearly permitted.

There is no problem painting or sculpting animals, trees or plants.

Hatzlacha in your studies! May Hashem guide you to use your talents to bring all who see your work closer to Him!

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

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Sivan 5771 – Yichud and An Adoptive Child

Yichud and An Adoptive Child Sivan 5771
Yichud and An Adoptive Child
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

Lichvod Rav Tendler

I hope you will be able to help with my predicament. I am adopted and my parents are divorced. I want to live with my father for the summer in the city that he lives in – but I am not sure what to do about yichud. Can you please give me some guidelines and pointers of how I should handle this. [My father is not remarried and lives by himself.]

Also, how exactly does it work with my full Jewish name [bas?] for davening, for my kesuba, etc?

And one more question – Is my mitzva to honor my parents – the same as everyone elses kibbud av v’aim?

Thank you for your time.

Name and Seminary withheld upon request

1) yichud?

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatza”l deals with this issue in his Sefer Iggros Moshe, Even HaEzer Vol. 4, 64:2. He states that although it is permitted for a adopted parent and child to hug and kiss one another as biological parents and children do, Yichud is a little more problematic. His conclusion there is that as long as the parent is married, Yichud is permitted with an adopted child “for a short while”, even under circumstances in which Yichud would not be permitted with other members of the opposite gender. However, if the adopted parent is no longer married, they should treat an adopted child as they would any other member of the opposite gender regarding Yichud.

2) meshabarachs/aliyahs? Which name does the adopted child take on?

In relation to the name, it is fine to call up the child or make a Mi Shebeirach using either the adopted parent’s or the biological parent’ names, whatever they are more comfortable using. However, when writing a legal document such as a Ketubah or a Get, if using the adopted parent’s name it is proper to write “the adopted son/daughter of…..”. When reading the Ketubah under the Chuppah it is not necessary to read this part, but it can be read “so and so the son/dauther of so and so”. This is stated in Iggros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol. 1, 99.

3) mitzvah of honouring the parents?, etc

From the Torah point of view, although it is a tremendous Mitzvah to raise someone as your child, there is no separate status designated for the relationship between an adopted child and their parent. Therefore, they certainly have an obligation to honor them as they have an obligation to honor any other human being, especially elder than them, but they don’t have the same obligation and responsibilities as a child to a parent.

From the Torah point of view, it is not proper not to tell a biologically Jewish child that they are adopted and hide from them who their biological parents are. This is because we are concerned that one day they may end up marrying a biological sibling/relative unknowingly. If the child was adopted as a non-Jew and then converted, this is not an issue.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler