Category Archives: Ask the Posek

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Av 5771 – Yichud in Counseling

Yichud Counseling Av 5771
Yichud in Counseling
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

L’chvod Harav

I am currently finishing my degree in a mental health field. My question to you – is it yichud for me to see a male client with the door closed? If I keep the door open I am compromising his ability to feel ‘safe’ in his surrounding and that would affect ther success of the therapy. Does it matter if the man is a Jew or a non Jew? Please advise – as this issue will be coming up often.

Thank you!
Pninim [name withheld]

Thank you for your question. There are many details involved in the Halachos of Yichud, so, while you are asking a very common question, the answer will vary based on any number of a set of circumstances.

I’ll start with your last question first, as it is the more simple one to answer. The Issur of Yichud applies equally to members of the opposite gender, whether they are Jewish or not.

In a situation of a healthcare professional meeting with a client or patient of the opposite gender behind closed doors, ideally the door should be left sightly ajar to prevent a problem of Yichud. If this is not feasible, it would be permissible under the following circumstances.

1. If the female (either healthcare provider or patient) is married, and her husband is in the same town as her, it is permitted for them to be secluded together. It is important to note that this is only if the female is married, the male being married would not help. This Heter works in all settings, not just a healthcare setting.

Additionally, this Heter only works if they have only a “professional relationship”. If they have a personal relationship, e.g. they are cousins, childhood friends, etc., the fact that her husband is in the city would not be a Heter.

2. If she is unmarried, there are Poskim who say that if absolutely necessary, the door may be closed if left unlocked, and there are other patients waiting in the waiting room.

3. In the above case, even if there are no other patients waiting in the waiting room, if it is usual for at least two other people in the office, such as other doctors, nurses, or secretaries, to enter the examining room unannounced, this would be permitted.

4. If none of the above Heterim work, under extenuating circumstances there are Poskim (see Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6, Siman 40, Chapter 12:10) who will allow Yichud in some professional settings because of the professional’s concern for their reputation, which will deter any improper behavior. A competent Rav should be consulted to determine if your exact situation might qualify for this Heter.

I would like to reemphasize that there are many details that need to be taken into consideration regarding this, and every situation must be dealt with individually.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

 

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Elul 5771 – Stealing Money, Returning it and Mechilla

Stealing Money, Returning it and Mechilla Elul 5771
Stealing Money, Returning it and Mechilla
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

L’chvod Harav

In my high school days, I and a friend stole approx $300 between us from someone in my class. I was 16 years old and stupid. She was rich and I was poor.

I have wanted to give it back all this time.

This was 5 years ago. I really want to give it all back, and I want to get mechilla, but am too embarrassed to tell the girl it was me.

I have been saving up money to return what we stole, and have just about enough at this time.

1. How can I return it to her and get mechila without telling her it was me?

2. Do I return my half $150 or the whole amount $300 (It was my fault we both stole)

3. Do I have to send her some interest on the money?

Please help if you can.

Dear Jemsem Reader,

Thank you for your questions. I’m glad to be of assistance in helping you take care of this problem.

Rav Moshe Feinstein OB”M discusses these exact issues in his reponsa in Iggros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat Vol. 1, Chapter 88. It is not necessary that your friend know that it was you who stole it, but it is necessary that you know that the money reached her. Consequently, you could send the cash anonymously via certified mail, or you can leave it in her mailbox in a manner that you are certain that she’ll get it when she checks for her mail. An anonymous note should be included requesting Mechilah, and even though you don’t hear from her mouth the she forgives you, you may assume that she does.

The reason you aren’t obligated to identify yourself and ask her for Mechila directly is because of Takanas HaShavim, our Chaza”l wanted to make it easier for people to do Teshuva for their misdeeds.

You are responsible to make sure that she gets the entire amount back. If your friend is unwilling to pay her half, then you should return the entire $300.

It is forbidden by the Torah to return the money with interest.

I hope that this is helpful for you. May you be rewarded in the merit of this Teshuvah with much wealth and happiness.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

 

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Tishrei 5773 – Showering On Yom Tov

Showering on Yom Tov Tishrei 5773
Showering on Yom Tov
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

 

***This pertains to Sukkos, not to Yom Kippur!***

L’chvod Harav

If I’m feeling uncomfortable, is there any way that I may take a shower on Yom Tov?

Thanks,
Name & Seminary Withheld

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Hi, and thanks for your question. There are actually two possible ways that it would be permitted to shower on Yom Tov, if a person is very uncomfortable. A cold shower would be permitted. Cold doesn’t necessarily mean freezing, anything less than body temperature is considered cold (regarding this Halacha specifically). The other possibility would be to take a hot shower, but not wash your entire body at once, i.e. to wash arms, legs, head, separately. This is permitted just as you would be permitted to wash your face in the sink with hot water. We may actually bathe little children who need to be bathed, in warm water, just as during the week. However, whenever showering or bathing is permitted, this is only using liquid soap, not a bar of soap. Some people are stringent to dilute the liquid soap somewhat before using it on Shabbos or Yom Tov (including dish washing soap). This may be done on Yom Tov if you forgot to do it before. The soap should be poured into a cup already containing water, so no lather builds up. However, if this is not your custom, you may use it as you would during the week. Also, one should not towel dry vigorously on Yom Tov, rather you should gently pat yourself dry with a towel, or just “air dry”. Regarding hair, it may be washed in a _very_ gentle manner, with care being taken not to pull out any hairs. If you know that your hair easily falls out, it should not be washed.

I hope that this has been helpful. If you’d like sources for the above, please see the Shemiras Shabbath K’Hilchasa by Rabbi Neuwirth Shlit”a, which is also available in English translation. I don’t have it in front of me, but I believe that he discusses bathing on Yom Tov in Chapter 14.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

 

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Kislev 5772 – Tehillim on Shabbos for Someone Who is Sick

Kislev 5772
Tehillim on Shabbos for Someone Who is Sick
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

L’chvod Harav

I learned in a lecture that we are not allowed to say tehillim for a sick person on Shabbos. We may say tehillim, of course, but we may not beseech Hashem for our needs on Shabbos.

The women at my Shul undertook to say tehillim for a healing calling out names of people and for some saying a specific psalm. From what I learned we are not permitted to do this and I mentioned this to a woman next to me. She said she would ask her sponsor and I said to ask a Rabbi because she may not know the halacha. I hope she was not offended.

I want to know if what I am thinking is correct in case I told her the wrong information. Also, please provide the sources.

Thank you for your question. The Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa (Siman 40 Hlacha 49) discusses this issue, and states that it is permitted to say Tehillim publicly on Shabbos on behalf of someone who is in immediate danger to their lives. If there is no immediate danger, Tehillim should not be recited publicly, but may be recited by an individual privately.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

 

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Shevat 5772 – Making Up For Missed Tefilos – What to Do??

Making Up For Missed Tefilos - What to Do?? Shevat 5772
Making Up For Missed Tefilos – What to Do??
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler

 

L’chvod Harav

I heard there is something regarding that if one misses saying shacharis in the morning he has to say mincha twice. Why is is that one can reciprocate saying one tefilla for another – If a person misses shaking lulav one day, he can not shake it twice the next to make up for it! The question is: Where is this “halacha” found? I know there are halochos of tefilla that no longer apply – Is this maybe one of them? Is it ever permissible to do that? Also, because it is not a woman’s obligation to daven anyway, if a woman forgets to daven, would she need to daven the next tefilla twice?

Name and Seminary withheld by request

Thank you for an excellent and interesting question. The source of the Halacha regarding compensating for missed Tefillos is the Gemara in Berachos 26a, and the details are discussed in the Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chayim 108, and the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch Siman 21. I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you mention that there are Halachos of Tefillah that no longer apply, as far as I know they all apply today. This Halacha most definitely does apply.

The Gemara there actually asks your question- if you cannot do a Mitzvah once you’ve missed the proper time for it, how can you compensate for a missed Davening? The Gemara replies that this is true if you deliberately missed, if it is unintentional, you may make it up. Tosafos there explain that Davening is not like other Mitzvos. According to the Torah, a person may and should Daven as often as they want- “Halevai (if only!) a person would Daven all day long!” Tefillah is perhaps the most profound connection one can establish with Hashem, and it certainly would seem to be praiseworthy if a person could truly connect with Hashem the entire day!! However, Chazal discouraged voluntary Tefillah, and once Anshei Knesses HaGedolah instituted the order and the frequency of the Davening, they said the opposite, “Halevai people should properly Daven the Tefillos they are required to Daven!” If a person insists on Davening more than required by Chazal, they said the person must add something new to the supplementary Tefillah, it shouldn’t just be a repetition of a previous Tefillah they had said.

From the above it is clear that, when Chaza”l said a person may compensate for a missed Tefillah if they unintentionally missed one by saying two of the next Tefillah, they weren’t requiring it, but allowing it. Whereas usually they frown upon additional Tefillos, in this case they allow and encourage it. In this situation there is no requirement to add something new to the compensating Tefillah, since it itself serves a “new purpose”, i.e. compensation for the missed Tefillah.

Regarding a woman who normally recites Shemoneh Esrei, but unintentionally forgot to do so, since she is compensating for a “missed” Tefillah, she should say two Shemoneh Esrei’s during the next Tefillah. However, it must be the next Tefillah, not the next one she Davens. Therefore, if a woman would want to compensate for a Missed Mincha, she would have to Daven Maariv twice, even if she usually doesn’t Daven Maariv.

If a woman does not usually say Shemoneh Esrei, there is no point in her saying two the next Tefillah in a situation where she planned on Davening but “missed”. The same would apply to if she forgot to say Yaaleh V’Yavo. There is no need to Daven again, if she does not regularly Daven that Tefillah.

I hope you found this helpful!

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler