Category Archives: Archives 5760

Sivan 5760 – Teaching Torah to A Non-Jew

1 Sivan 5760

L’chvod HaRav:

I am currently attending a secular college where the majority of the class is not Jewish. Every thing that I do or don’t do causes them to ask me questions regarding various aspects of Judaism. The questions range from Kashrus to tznius and many other things. I was wondering if you could give me some guidelines about what I can respond due to the halacha of not being able to teach a non-Jew Torah. Thank You and I appreciate your time.

Sarah Katz
Bnot Torah Institute 5756-7


Thank you for your interesting question. The source of the prohibition that you mention is the Gemara in Sanhedrin 59a, that states “Rav Yochanan says a non-Jew who is Osek in Torah is Chayav Misah, as it says (Devarim 33:4) “Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe Morasha…”- for us it is an inheritance (Morasha) and not for them, etc.” The Gemara then qualifies this by stating that this only applies to Torah that is not relevant to them, but it is a Mitzvah for them to study (and for a Jew to teach them- see Chagigah 13a, Tosafos D”H Ain Mosrin) the Sheva Mitzvos of B’nei Noach, and if they do they are “on the level of a Kohen Gadol.”

We must realize that the seven Mitzvos are actually categories, and there are numerous smaller obligations under each category. Consequently, not only may a non-Jew learn about Arayos, for example, he may also learn about what the Torah approach to not violating this is, including the laws about modest dress, Yichud, etc. Additionally, we must realize that the operative word in the Gemara is “Osek”- which means more than just learning, but studying with the intent to become expert in these Halachos, as stated in Rashi there (D”H B’Sheva Mitzvos). Consequently, if you are explaining Mitzvos and Halachos to them just to satisfy their curiosity about them, there is no Issur in this, even regarding things that they aren’t obligated in, such as Kashrus, etc.

Therefore, if your classmates question what they see you do or not do, there is nothing wrong with politely explaining the rationale for it, or just informing them that this is a Jewish law or custom. If one of them would actually request to study Torah with you for the sake of becoming an expert in Mitzvos that we are commanded to do, this should only be done if the subject is one of the Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach that they are also obligated to keep, or one of the sub-categories.

There is a very interesting Teshuvas HaRambam (Vol. 1 Siman 149) that discusses whether or not it is permitted to study the Chumash (bible) with a non-Jew, just to go through the scripture with them. He states that it is permitted to study it with a Christian, to show them that their beliefs are not valid. However, it is not permitted to study bible with a Moslem. The difference is that the Christians accept the divinity of the Chumash, and will not come to mock what you teach them, whereas the Moslems believe that the Chumash was written by humans, and by teaching them you are causing them to mock the Torah.

I hope that this has been helpful for you.

Iyar 5760 – Inyanei Tefillah

Iyar 5760

L’chvod HaRav:

What are the halachos involved in davening when you wake up late, past zman tefilah? Past zman krias shema? I learned that past zman krias shma you’re not supposed to say birchos shma anymore? But can’t you say shma at anytime? And how does chatzos apply to women in regards to davening? Also, what do you do when you get to shul in time for shemone esrei? Are you supposed to say shmone esrei with the shul and then go back? Can you please clarify a lot of these little “if”s? Thank you.

[Name withheld upon request]
Darchei Binah 5759

Thank you for your questions. For convenience, I’m going to intersperse my answers in the questions:

What are the halachos involved in davening when you wake up late, past zman tefilah?

If it is before Chatzos, and you have time to complete Shemoneh Esrei before Chatzos (mid-day), a woman may daven the complete davening, B’Dieved (This is stated by the Chofetz Chaim in the Biur Halacha in Orach Chaim 58:6). However, this is only if she was really too tired to get up, or there was some other reason that prevented her from Davening (Oness). This may not be relied upon to deliberately wake up late.

Past zman krias shema?

If you can complete Shemoneh Esrei before the end of Zman Tefillah, eveything should be recited.

I learned that past zman krias shma you’re not supposed to say birchos shma anymore? But can’t you say shma at anytime?

This is not accurate. Perhaps you meant to write “past Z’man Tefillah”. The Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim 58:6 states that Birchos Krias Shema should be said until the end of Zman Tefillah, but not later (and as we said above, the Biur Halacha is even more lenient to allow Birchos Shema to be said until Chatzos, in a situation of Oness). There are two aspects of the obligation to daven, one is to actually daven, and the other is to daven in the time designated by the Chachomim. Consequently, if Zman Krias Shema went by, although you haven’t fulfilled the obligation of Krias Shema B’Zmano, it is still proper to say it later – it can be said all day. However, the Berachos should only be said until the end of Zman Tefillah (or Chatzos,as above). The Mishna Berura 58:25 explains that Birchos Shema are not really Berachos on saying Krias Shema, like we make a Beracha before doing a Mitzvah, rather they are Berachos that exist independently as part of the Tefillah (i..e. we don’t say “Asher Kidshanu…. Likros Shema”). Therefore, as long as you can fulfill Tefillah B’Zmano, you should also say Birchos Krias Shema. However, once Zman Tefillah passes, although if you daven Shemoneh Esrei until Chatzos you are fulfilling your obligation to daven (B’Dieved, as above), this is not the Tefillah that our Chachamim instituted, and therefore no Birchos Shema should be said (Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim 89:1). Once Chatzos comes, Shacharis can no longer be said, since technically the afternoon Tamid can already be brought, and it’s time for Mincha.

What about the brachos after shma?

The Halachos are the same for the Berachos before Shema and the Berachos after Shema.

And how does chatzos apply to women in regards to davening?

I’m not sure what you mean. As we said above, B’Dieved a woman may say Shemoneh Esrei until Chatzos. Birchos shema may only be said in cases of Oness, as per the Biur Halacha.

Also, what do you do when you get to shul in time for shemone esrei? Are you supposed to say shmone esrei with the shul and then go back?

This should be done by Minchah and Maariv, even by men. My understanding is that women may even do this by Shacharis, if necessary. There are opinions that women also have an obligation to be “Somech Geulah L’Tefillah” in the morning, and according to those opinions she should try to start with Shema and continue through “Ga’al Yisroel”, or at least say “V’Yatziv V’Nachon” before starting Shemoneh Esrei with the Tzibbur.

I hope that this has been somewhat helpful.

Nissan 5760 – Women Davening Maariv

15 Adar I 5760

L’chvod HaRav:

Is there a problem with davening Ma’ariv only at certain times, for instance on Shabbos, Motzei Shabbos, Yom Tov, Taanis, etc.? If one has in mind that she is not accepting the obligation on a regular basis is there still an issue of chazaka? Thank you for your time,

[Name withheld upon request]
Midreshet Moriah 5757

Thank you for your question. The Gemara states that davening Maariv is a Reshus (optional) even for men. However, men have accepted this upon themselves throughout the generations, so it has become obligatory, as a Neder. This is similar to women hearing Shofar, although according to Halacha they are not obligated to, they have accepted this upon themselves as a Neder, and today there is a Chiyuv for a woman to hear Shofar. However, women never accepted davening Maariv upon themselves. One reason may be because it isn’t at a very practical time for women who have kids, etc. However, there is certainly nothing wrong if a woman wishes to Daven Maariv at certain times, such as you mention.

The only time that doing this would constitute a Neder for a woman would be if she davened Maariv once with the clear intention of Davening Maariv for the rest of her life, or if she she Davened three times consecutively, even if she had no clear intention to do so all the time. If she has in mind that she is not making a Neder or Chazakah at the time she starts, even if she Davens every night it does not become a Neder and there is no problem for her to discontinue if it becomes too inconvenient. It is certainly worthwhile that she state explicitly that although I plan on Davening Maariv when convenient, this by no means constitutes a Neder on my part to continue doing so when inconvenient.

The above also applies to any other Mitzvah that is optional on a person, or a Chumra that they wish to do, as stated in the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch, 67:7.

Nissan 5760 – Hechsher on Vitamins

15 Adar I 5760

L’chvod HaRav:

Do vitamins need a hechsher?



Thank you for your question. There are actually two separate issues that must be discussed when deciding whether or not vitamins need a Hechsher. The first is whether or not non-Kosher ingredients are commonly used in vitamins. The second is, assuming that there may be non-Kosher ingredients, since they are not eaten normally (K’Derech Achilah), rather they are swallowed whole, is it forbidden to consume them in this manner.

Regarding the first issue, the answer is that many vitamins are derived from non-Kosher sources. For example, natural vitamins A and D are derived from fish oil, usually non-Kosher fish (even if Kosher fish only were used, it loses it’s Kosher status if the scales were removed without Kosher supervision). Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is usually derived from citrus fruits and corn, however there are other inactive ingredients that are added such as lubricants and binders, which often come from non-Kosher animals (e.g. magnesium stearate), and of course, if it’s a powder in a gelatin capsule, the gelatin presents a problem.

Nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies can be even more problematic. Many of these are produced from….


….pancreas and thyroid glands (glandulars), ox bile, shark cartilage, snakes (Lachesis and Naja), ants (Formica Rufa), beetles (Cantheris), dog saliva (Lyssin), rotten meat (Pyrogenium), and cancer tissue (Carcinosin).

I hope that it’s clear by now that vitamins produced without supervision can very easily contain non-Kosher ingredients. Sometimes, the non-Kosher ingredients may be Bottul B’Shishim, i.e. the ingredient is less that 1/60th of the product. However, this is not always the case.

Now we move on to the second issue. Since it is not being consumed in a normal manner, can it be consumed even if there is a likelihood that there are non-Kosher ingredients inside?

The answer to this is that it really depends on why the person wishes to take the vitamin. Someone who is ill and whose life may be in danger, should take any medicine or vitamin available that was prescribed by a medical expert to treat their condition, if there is none readily available with a Hechsher. This includes someone with an internal infection, diabetes, a heart condition, elevated blood pressure, or a severe depression. This is true even if the medicine, vitamin, or nutritional supplement is chewable, and is eaten in a normal manner.

Someone who is ill but whose life is not in danger may take vitamins and medications in tablet or liquid form, and poor tasting chewables and liquids, even if they are known to contain non-Kosher ingredients, if no Kosher alternatives are readily available. Examples of this would be someone taking these items for a difficult pregnancy, arthritis, migraines, mild depression, and a child who is in discomfort.

Someone who is healthy but is taking vitamins and nutritional upplements as a preventive should make sure only to consume these items with Kosher supervision, or if you personally can ascertain that all ingredients, active and inactive, that make up more than 1/60th of the vitamin, are Kosher. If you can make this determination, even if you don’t know whether or not the equipment used to produce them was properly Kashered, they may still be consumed.

Adar II 5760 – Borei Nefashos

15 Adar I 5760

L’chvod HaRav:

I am currently attending Stern College. Sometimes I sit down in the cafeteria for lunch, and I finish everything but my drink. If my entire meal was shehakol, can I take the drink with me upstairs to class (in the same building), and continue drinking it without making a new bracha, and then when I’m done with that make a boreh nefashos on my entire meal?


Thank you very much for your question. Believe it or not, your simple, seemingly innocuous question about an everyday situation, is actually one of the most difficult topics in Hilchos Berachos. It is the subject of a Machlokes in the Gemara (Pesachim 101b), is argued about by the Rambam and the Rosh, and is discussed at length in the Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim 178. The Mishna Berura gives an elaborate introduction to these Halachos there, and it isn’t difficult to understand his conclusion that according to all opinions it is preferable not to place yourself in this situation, and to complete your meal in one place.

Although the Halacha is that if someone was eating bread or Mezonos in one place and they intended to move to another room at the time of the Beracha and conclude eating there, they need not make a second Beracha Rishona, there is disagreement whether or not this also applies if you are only eating foods upon which you make a Borei Nefashos. The reason why this would be different is because there is another Halacha that Borei Nefashos need not be recited where the food was eaten. The Birchas HaMazon and Al HaMichya must be recited where you have eaten. Consequently, if someone leaves the room after eating bread or Mezonos, this does not signify the end of the meal, since he is certainly planning on returning or continuing eating elsewhere, so that he may recite Birchas HaMazon or Al HaMichya properly. His actions, not just his intention, do not indicate that the meal is over. Regarding a meal whose concluding Beracha will be Borei Nefashos, however, when the person exits the room that he is in, his exit is an indication that the meal is over, since he can make a Borei Nefashos elsewhere without eating. The conclusion of the Rema and the Mishna Berura there is that when eating such a meal (of only Borei Nefashos foods) and switching rooms, another Beracha should be recited on the food that you wish to continue eating, and Borei Nefashos should be recited after you have finished eating everything, even if this was you original intention at the time that you made the Beracha Rishona.

I hope that this is helpful and not too confusing!!