Category Archives: Archives 5762

Elul 5762 – Lashon Hara and Non-Frum Family

1 Elul 5762

L’chvod HaRav:

Is it considered lashon hara to say that someone has gone off the derech? My brother is not frum and this issue comes up a lot. People that know him ask me how he is doing and it is very hard for me to answer them – some people get confused and ask me, “Why is he living there?!? Is there a frum community there?” etc. I don’t know if it is better to try to avoid answering or to be honest and say that he is not frum.

This issue also arises in shiduchim. When people look into me and are trying to get to know about me and my family, (either a shadchan or a prospective shidduch), should I tell them so that they know about my family or is it still assur to say because it is lashon hara?

Thank you very much for your help.

Name & Seminary withheld

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Dear Name Withheld,

Well, if there is a simple way to avoid giving a direct answer to the question, that would be best, since it probably is lashon harah to say that someone went off the derech. If pressed, then you really should say “I don’t really feel comfortable talking about this” and hope that they will call it quits. If neither of these options seem feasible, then you could tell the truth. This is something which is known to many, many people and your intention is not to spread the matter any further, so you can be mekel.

Explaining your brother’s situation to shadchanim would be considered “lashon harah l’toeles”. The shadchan needs to have this information so that she can find the right boy for you. So, there is no problem telling her this information. (I am assuming that the shadchan in question is the sort of person who will use the information only for the shidduch purpose and won’t go around telling people about your family for no purpose!)

Take care,
Rabbi Asher Balanson

Av 5762 – Davening During Krias Hatorah

1 Av 5762

L’chvod HaRav:

Hi, I have a question regarding davening on shabbos. Every time I go to shul I get there in between torah reading. I see people around me doing things differently. Either they daven in between the aliyahs, or I see people davening straight through. I don’t know what to do. I was wondering why people doing things differently, and what I should be following.

Thank you for your time.

Name & Seminary withheld

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Dear Name Withheld,

Thank you for your important and interesting question. According to Halacha, since Krias HaTorah is an obligation on the congregation (Tzibbur), and the person who are being called up and are Laining are being Motzi the Tzibbur, it is definitely not proper to do anything during Krias HaTorah other than listen to the Kriah, and this applies in between Aliyos also (Bein Gavra L’Gavra). However, there are opinions that one may learn in between Aliyos, and the same would apply to “catching up” of Davening. If there are ten men who are listening to the Kriah, the Shulchan Oruch (Orach Chaim 146:2) states that as long as it is not causing disrespect for the Torah, one may learn during the Kriah, if he is a Talmid Chochom (Toraso U’mnoso). This would only work if he started learning before the Kriah started, so it doesn’t look like he is bored with the Kriah and is looking for something else to catch his interest. It seems to me that the same rule can be applied to women Davening during this time, if it doesn’t indicate to others a lack of Kovod HaTorah, they may Daven even during the Kriah, if it is absolutely necessary. Of course, the best thing would be to listen to the Kriah and come on time.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

Sivan 5762 – Tzedakah vs Maaser

1 Sivan 5762

L’chvod HaRav:

We are learning “ma’aser kesafim” which relates to halochot of charity. The basic question: is tzedaka different from ma’aser, and do they have different obligations with respect to whom they must be given to? If possible can you explain the differences according to Torah and Rabbanon? Also, if they are different does ma’aser constitute 9/10 of the balance of money remaining or is it 10% twice from the original balance (ie .10% of $100, 10% of $90 or 20% of $100).

Thank you for your help.

Name & Seminary withheld

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Dear Name Withheld,

Thank you for your question. The obligation of giving Tzedakah and the obligation to give Maaser are different, but they are also intertwined with each other, as follows:

TZEDAKAH – This is a Torah obligation on every Jew to support a fellow Jew who asks him for help, as stated in Devarim 15: 7-12. We are not permitted to turn him away empty handed, and even if we do not have funds we are not permitted to ignore his request. We must apologize for being able to financially help him, and smile and encourage him. It is a Lo Saaseh, a negative commandment, to totally ignore his request, when he has personally requested funds from you. However, a person is only obligated to contribute in a situation where he is requested for funds, up to 20% of his income. Once you have given away 20% it is not a violation to refuse the poor person who is requesting funds.

MAASER – This is an obligation upon every Jew to separate and designate 10% of his income to the poor, even if they have not solicited him. Although the custom has become to use it for other purposes also, such as Jewish educational institutions, and purchasing books to lend to others, these funds are meant primarily for the poor. This does not absolve a person from his obligation to contribute more Tzedakah, up to 20% (another 10%) when solicited, but Maaser must be designated and set aside even when not solicited.

According to most Poskim, this Maaser obligation is actually a relatively new custom, although there are opinions that it is a Torah or Rabbinic obligation. According to those who say that it is a recent custom, it was instituted over the past 1000 years when we switched from an agrarian society to a commerce-based society, and the idea was to compensate the poor for the crop tithes and cattle tithes that they lost because of this switch. However, all Poskim agree that it is obligatory upon every Jew today. It is interesting to note that there is no discussion of these laws in Rabbinic responsa, including the Mishna and Talmud, until the past 1000 years. This is very strange, considering the myriad of details involved in these Halachos, such as which expenses may be deducted, who we may disburse these funds to, what is considered income regarding this obligation, etc.! This would seem to be an indication that the opinions that it is a more recent custom is correct.

I hope this clarifies things for you a little.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

Sivan 5762 – Are Class Notes, Newspapers, or Email Divrei Torah Shaimos?

1 Sivan 5762

L’chvod HaRav:

I am finishing the semester now, and I was wondering what to do with my notes from my Jewish classes. Do they need to go in shaimos? What if there’s a possibility that there’s more than 3 words from a pasuk consecutively? Or do I not need to worry and can I just throw them out if I choose to. What about source booklets – with sources like the Shulchan Aruch, Gemara, etc… Do those have to go in shaimos?

Also, are email divrei Torah, or divrei Torah found in newspapers to be treated as shaimos?

Adina
Seminary withheld

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Dear Adina,

Thank you for your question.

We must realize that there are actually two different levels of Kedushah in items and Divrei Torah that must be disposed of. The first level is that of Shaimos (lit. names of Hashem), Devarim SheBikdusha. These items, which include anything with Hashem’s name printed on it (in any language – but it must be written by someone who fears Hashem), three words from a Possuk in the Torah, or any Divrei Torah or Divrei Halacha written to inspire people to become closer to Hashem (again, in any language), must be put into Genizah only.

The next level is that of Tzorchei Mitzvah, items used for the purpose of enabling the performance of a Mitzvah. Examples would be Schach, a Lulav and Esrog, and fringes of Tzitzis. These items need not be put into Geniza, but may not be disposed of in a degrading manner. These items should be burned, or wrapped in plastic and only then disposed of in the garbage. Divrei Torah written in newspapers whose main function is to provide news, although they would seem to fall into the first category, may be disposed of by wrapping the entire newspaper in plastic and putting it in the garbage. This is actually preferable, unless the Divrei Torah could be removed from the newspaper, since putting the secular news and ads into the Genizah with the Devarim SheBikdusha degrades the other Devarim SheBikdusha that are there.

Divrei Torah that have been received through e-mail have the status of Devarim SheBikdusha, and should be placed in Genizah. However, I have heard that there are Halachic experts that say that if it was printed originally just for a quick perusal, with the intention to dispose of it immediately, it might not have the Din of Davar SheBikdusha, rather that of Tzorchei Mitzvah, and it may be wrapped and disposed of in the garbage. However, if it has Hashem’s name written there in any language, it should either be removed from the printout and placed in the Genizah, or the entire printout should be placed in the Genizah.

Therefore, in the specific case of your notes that may have Pesukim, and also source booklets that quote Shulchan Oruch and Gemara, these should be treated as Devarim Shebikdusha and placed in Genizah.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

Kislev 5762 – Women Saying Havdalah

1 Kislev 5762

L’chvod HaRav:

I have a question about havdalah. I learned that women are obligated in all the laws of Shabbos, such as Kiddush etc. Are women allowed to lead a group of people in saying havdalah since they are chayav in doing that also? I have a hunch that based on other rulings, women are technically allowed to lead havdalah, but should not.

Thanks for your answer.

Name & Seminary withheld

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Dear Name Withheld,

Thank you for your question. There is a dispute among our Rishonim whether or not women are obligated to recite Havdalah. It is quoted in the Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim 296:8. The opinion of the Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos 30:1) is that women are obligated, just as they are obligated in Kiddush (because of the juxtaposition of Zachor V’Shamor – which obligates women to recite Kiddush despite the fact that they are usually exempt from time bound Mitzvos), since both Kiddush and Havdalah are part and parcel of the one Mitzvah of “Zachor Ess Yom HaShabbos L’Kadsho”. The Mishnah Berurah quotes the dissenting opinion as that of the Rash MiShantz, who argues that since Havdalah is recited after Shabbos, it can not be considered part of the Mitzvah of Kiddush. Consequently, the usual exemption of women from time bound Mitzvos applies to Havdalah.

Therefore, it is not preferable for women to recite Havdalah even for themselves, since according to the second opinion it would be a Beracha L’Vatala. Although the Ashkenazic custom is for women to recite berachos over Mitzvos that they are exempt from, the Mogen Avraham explains that this is only regarding Berachos over Mitzvos that require an act, such as Shofar and Lulav. When the entire Mitzvah is the Beracha, as by Havdalah, one who is exempt from the Mitzvah should not recite it.

If there is no one to recite Havdalah for the woman, they may recite it for herself and fellow women (Mishnah Berurah 296:35). However, she most certainly may not say Havdalah on behalf of a man, since he is clearly obligated in this Mitzvah, and it is a doubt whether she is obligated at all. For one person to be “Motzi” another person in a Mitzvah, they must be obligated also. Additionally, if a man were to hear Havdalah in Shul and come home, he would not be permitted to say Havdalah for his wife and daughters, and may only do so if there is another male present (even a minor). Since he already fulfilled his obligation, and it is not clear that they are obligated, his Beracha could be a Beracha L’Vatala. In this case it is preferable that they make their own Havdalah.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler