Category Archives: Archives 5759

Sivan 5759 – Negiah With Male Relatives

1 Sivan 5759

L’chvod HaRav:

I had grown a lot during my year in Israel and I still continue to grow. Most of my relatives are conservative. I feel like I have to hug and kiss my men relatives since I have been doing it my whole life and it would be an insult to them if I did not. They would not understand where I was coming from because they have never even heard of Negiah and I feel as though they would be turned off to Judaism. Is it so wrong of me if they are my uncles and my first cousin?


The question of Negiah with close relatives such as uncles and cousins is, on the one hand, very straightforward, and on the other hand, very complex. The halachic issue is the straightforward one, while the application is often much more difficult. Halacha provides no room for exception to touch second degree relatives such as these. You are only permitted casual and affectionate contact with parents and biological siblings; in fact, even siblings are advised to minimize affectionate touching as they get older.

On the other hand, dealing with this can create very sticky, if not hurtful, situations. I recommend the following: Find a quiet, calm, time when you can sit down with all or some of them. Explain that you have begun to embark on a new experience of increased observance of the Torah and its commandments. You don’t have all the answers and all the explanations, but you have lived and experienced the system of a complete Torah lifestyle while you were in Israel and you see that it works gloriously. The increased sense of commitment and sanctity in marriage can only serve to insure harmony and longevity in a time when the world seems so lost as to how to achieve marital success. When your relatives see that you are sincere, committed, and LOVING of them, they will almost certainly accept your decision and most likely respect you even more. Be firm and strong and assure them that you’re still their niece/cousin and you still love them.

Good luck!

Iyar 5759 – Makeup on Shabbos

15 Iyar 5759

L’chvod HaRav:

My mother insists that I wear lipstick to shul on Shabbos since that is the norm for most of my shul. I know that this is completely assur but I have been doing it with a shinui to keep shalom bait because it starts a big fight. I have heard of Shabbos lipstick but I have no idea what that is. Is lip-gloss a problem? – It is more of a liquid form.


Makeup on Shabbos is a rather complicated issue and also touches on some sensitive areas in people. There are two different halachic issues regarding makeup on Shabbos.

1) The prohibition of smearing a paste or cream
2) The prohibition of dying

The modern day authorities divide up cosmetics into several different categories. Some are prohibited for both reasons and some only because of one. Any creams or pastes (i.e. base or lipstick) are both smearing and dying. Thinner liquids (about the consistency of olive oil) are not considered smearing but they are still prohibited because of dying. This is true even of a clear nail polish or lip-gloss since the shine is also halachically considered a dye. In the category of powder there seems to be two types. Oil based powders that stay on for a long time are prohibited because they are considered a significant dye. Powders that are not oil based are permitted by many Poskim. There are several brands out on the market today that fall into this category.

Perhaps you can try explaining to your mother that going to shul is difficult for you when you know that you are doing things that your Rabbis have taught you are a violation of Shabbos.

Thanks for your question.

Iyar 5759 – Bracha on Nutrient Drink

1 Iyar 5759

L’chvod HaRav:

My Rav has an infection in his intestines. He was in the hospital for 3 weeks, but now he’s back home. He got a medicine that he will have to take once a month. He isn’t allowed to eat or drink anything at all, except for a special liquid, of which he has to drink (with a straw) 3 liters a day, and it has all the nourishment his body needs, without any waste, so he doesn’t need the washroom. (He calls it Manna.)

I don’t know what the ingredients are, or the taste, but it smells of Materna (baby food). He said he didn’t like the taste at the beginning, but now he has gotten used to it, and even waits for the next time he will eat (it’s actually drinking), because it’s his meal, and he is satisfied after eating it (he feels full).

Question: Which beracha, if at all, does he say on this “food?” Is it counted as medicine, or is it like old bread, which is nourishing but not tasty? Can he say hamotzi since he is kovea seuda on it?


Let me start out by saying that I hope, by the time you receive this reply, it will no longer be necessary and your Rav will have had a full recovery. I will provide you with the answer in case he needs to know, or for the sake of learning itself.

There are two separate issues that must be dealt with. The first is whether or not there is an obligation to make a bracha, and the second is if you are required to bless, which bracha should you make.

Any food or drink which ingested orally and is at all pleasant tasting (it isn’t unpleasant) requires a bracha both before and after. While it seems clear that this drink is merely a nutritional replacement and not a medicine, the Shulchan Aruch is explicit in including medicine in this category. (See Aruch Chayim 204:8)

As far as which bracha to make, even with a medicine, the rules are the same as those concerning any other food. In this case, without knowing the precise ingredients, it would seem that the bracha would be a shehakol before and a borei nefashos after. (See Aruch Chayim 204:10 M”B 55)

Again, I wish your Rav a Refuah Shlaima, and this question should only be in the category of “Torah Hee, V’Lilmod Ani Tzarich” rather than “L’ma’aseh”.

Thanks for your question.

Nissan 5759 – Showering On Yom Tov

1 Nissan 5759

L’chvod HaRav:

Is there an appropriate way to shower on Yom Tov when there is a three-day Yom Tov?

[Name withheld upon request]
B’not Torah Institute 5758

There are two differing issues involved with the halachos of showering on Yom Tov. One is the prohibition of bathing in general, and the other is the concern to avoid squeezing things to get the water out.

You are not allowed to bathe your entire body, or even most of your body, at one time, in any type of warm water. This is true even if the water was warmed before Yom Tov, or in a permissible manner on Yom Tov. However, since the prohibition is on “bathing,” which means to wash your entire body at one time, it is permissible to wash yourself limb by limb, not all at once, even if you eventually wash your entire body. To do this you may even use warm water provided it was warmed before Yom Tov. But, you may not use water warmed on Yom Tov, even if it was warmed in a permissible manner.

Even given these allowances, there is that additional concern about squeezing. The custom is, (and this is agreed to by all the present day Poskim) that you should not wash, even with cold water, any part of your body where there is hair. The concern is that if you do wash those areas where water is easily trapped, you will inevitably squeeze some water out which could cause one of several possible transgressions.

However, in a situation if severe discomfort, (i.e. a heat wave and you are very sweaty and uncomfortable) we are lenient in regard to this last point. Therefor, in this situation, you would be permitted to wash even your entire body, limb by limb, with water that was warmed before Yom Tov.

According to most Poskim, a normal three-day Yom Tov would not fall into this category so you remain with the permission to wash any non-hair part of your body with water warmed before Yom Tov.

There is an additional Halacha that if you are only washing your hands, face, and feet, you may not only wash with warm water, but you may even warm up water on Yom Tov in order to do the washing.

It is important to add that in addition to these halachos you have to remember that you may not use bar soap; only liquid soap. And, you must be very careful when drying yourself not to wring the water out of the towel. If you do have permission to wash your hair, the custom is to pat dry in order to avoid squeezing.

Have a wonderful, meaningful, three-day Yom Tov and thanks for asking.

Adar 5759 – Shaking Hands With Men

15 Adar 5759

L’chvod HaRav:

Growing up, I had always learned, in connection with shaking hands with the opposite gender, that it is sometimes better to shake then to embarass the other person. At this age, I am constantly finding myself faced with the question of what to do. For example, I teach in a Sunday School, and upon meeting with one of the parents, the parent extended his hand. I felt that to not accept it in return might turn him off of Judaism, which is the very opposite of my purpose in teaching there. I think the same question applies to job interviews. Can you please clarify this issue. Thank you for your time.


The major contemporary halachic authorities forbid men and women to shake hands. Among them, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein spoke vociferously about the importance of maintaining this stricture. I have found that there is a very effective approach that accomplishes your goal even better then a handshake. You explain that because of religious constraints you are unable to shake their hand. Apologize for any embarrassment or discomfort this may cause (though generally they will apologize to you for their insensitivity). In many cases, they will inquire as to the nature of the prohibition. This opens the door for you to explain the value Torah places on the sanctity of male female relationships and could potentially allow you further opportunities to explain and demonstrate the beauty and grandeur of Torah.

As far as job interviews are concerned, most bosses will respect someone with values and morals that can explain in a cogent and eloquent manner the nature and beauty of their beliefs.

Be strong and thanks for your question.