Category Archives: Archives 5771


Adar II 5771 – Coffee!!

Coffee!! Adar II 5771
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


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



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



Tammuz 5771 – Shabbos Shaylas

Shabbos Shaylas Tammuz 5771
Shabbos Shaylas
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler


Lichvod Rav Tendler

Is there a problem on Shabbos – when the floor gets so dirty and filthy – to put a bit of water/ hot water/ or spray cleanser on a particular spot and wipe it clean with a towel or a paper towel. One could use just a bit of water or cleanser – so that it wouldn’t make the cloth or paper towel very wet at all. Is this mutar or oser? Can you please explain the halacha and the whys and hows of it – and also if this oser – can you explain a way to do it that would be acceptable?

I find that there are so many halachos of Shabbos that are not well known – and people end up making so many mistakes out of ignorance.

Thank you very much!

Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your question. There are a few different situations that need to be discussed to properly answer this question:

1) It is best to avoid cleaning a floor on Shabbos unless absolutely necessary, because of the Halachic complications it will cause. If absolutely necessary, it would be allowed to use a Sponja stick (in America it’s called a squeegee), but care must be taken that the dirty liquid be “sponjaed” (did I just invent a new verb?) down a drain, and not in a manner in which it will drain onto the ground. Water and a bit of cleaner may be used as well, but no cloth should be used in the cleaning process. If there is some moisture left over, it may be blotted up as in the situation of a small spill below.

2) If there is a small amount of liquid that has spilled on the floor, in a manner that any cloth used to pick it up would not get so wet that a significant amount of water could easily be squeezed out of it, one may use a cloth or (pre-cut) paper towel to blot it up, but must be careful not to squeeze it when picking it up.

3) If a large amount of liquid has spilled on the floor, it is permitted to lay a cloth or towel on top of the spill, but it should not be picked up by hand, only with a pole (e.g. a broom handle) to prevent squeezing out the water. It is permitted to leave it there, even if people will walk on it. If one is using napkins or paper towels to blot up such a spill, it is permitted to pick them up with your hands and throw them in the garbage, since there is no concern that you might squeeze them out to reuse them.

For more information on this topic, please see Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso, Vol. 1 Perek 23 Halachos 6-7.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler

PS I am posting here an article which has previously run in Jem Sem that discusses other Hilchos Shabbos issues which you may find interesting and helpful.


Question: Although I know that Shabbos is supposed to be a time of Oneg and pleasure, I find that it becomes a time of discomfort for me because I’m unable to put on makeup, brush my teeth or hair, and properly wash up. It is also uncomfortable to do dishes in cold water and not be able to scrub them properly. Are there any tips that you can offer that may make Shabbos more pleasant for us? Thank you.

Answer: Thank you for your question. You bring up an excellent point in that Shabbos is supposed to be a pleasurable time, and it is important to realize that if it isn’t, it isn’t because Halacha makes it an uncomfortable time, but rather because people are unaware of how to do the things that would make them more comfortable in a permissible manner. We see that Chaza”l went out of their way to give us the Mitzvah of Hadlakas Neiros to minimize discomfort on Shabbos and thus increase Sholom Bayis. In this vein, I’d like to share with you some tips for doing the things you mention above on Shabbos.

1. Brushing Teeth on Shabbos

The Halachic issue involved in brushing one’s teeth on Shabbos is MiMareach- changing the toothpaste from a solid to a liquid while brushing. Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatz”al (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 112) states that it would be permitted to use a toothbrush with liquid on Shabbos, but not toothpaste. The correct way to brush your teeth, therefore, would be to put some water or mouthwash in your mouth, and then insert the brush (it sounds harder than it is!) and brush around. You should not insert the brush into the mouthwash and then into your mouth, this is forbidden Rabbinically because of Sechitas Saaros- just like we may not squeeze a liquid out of our hair. It is preferable that you have a special toothbrush set aside for Shabbos use. If your gums frequently bleed, it is still permitted to brush, but a soft brush should be used.

If you don’t have mouthwash available, you can squeeze some toothpaste into a cup of water and allow it to dissolve by itself. This is permitted even on Shabbos. Before Shabbos, you can actually stir it or shake it up, so that you will have your “homemade mouthwash” for use on Shabbos.

2. Brushing Hair on Shabbos

The Shulchan Oruch (Orach Chaim 303:27) states that we may not use a hair brush or comb on Shabbos, as it is inevitable that some hair will be pulled out. However, the Rema there says that a person may use a soft bristle brush (“a pig’s hair brush”) to gently fix their hair, since it isn’t inevitable that hair will be pulled out in this manner. This is the kind of brush used for brushing a man’s felt hat, or polishing shoes. It is permitted to use such a brush (on your hair- not on the hat or shoes!) on Shabbos, but the brush should be designated only for Shabbos use.

3. Cosmetics on Shabbos-

Adding color to one’s face is not allowed on Shabbos because of Tzeviyah- dyeing. This is not allowed according to all opinions, even on a human being. A person may obviously put on makeup before Shabbos that will last throughout Shabbos, but there is no Hetter to apply colored makeup, even if it is in non-oil base and powder form, on Shabbos itself. Please see the Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa, Chapter 15 footnote 158 for further discussion on this. Those who permit “Shabbat” cosmetics do so based on the assumption that women are so vain that they will put on makeup no matter what, and it is important to find the most permissible manner for them to do so. With all due respect, I take issue with them on this.

However, I would like to provide the following helpful hint for looking beautiful on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Chaza”l teach us…”Havei MiKabel Ess Kol HaAdam B’Seiver Ponim Yafos”, we should greet every person with a beautiful face. What should a person do if they aren’t beautiful? The answer is, there is no such thing as a person who is smiling who isn’t beautiful!! Therefore, if a person is concerned that they should look beautiful Shabbos morning, all they need to do is put on a big smile, and they’ll look great. Try it! It really works!! :-)

4. Doing dishes-

The issues involved in doing dishes on Shabbos are the use of hot or warm water, scrubbing the dishes, and the type of soap used.

Regarding the water, if you would like to use warm water on Shabbos there are two ways that this can be done- one simpler than the other. The simplest way is to fill up a basin with hot water right before Shabbos, and cover it tightly, and put the dishes into it with soap after the Seudah, and after scrubbing them (in the manner we’ll shortly advise), rinse them off in the sink under cold water.

The second method is a bit trickier. The problem with using hot water on Shabbos is that when you turn on the hot water faucet, hot water flows from your boiler to your sink, and there is an intake of cold water which replaces the hot water. When this cold water flows into the boiler, it becomes hot, and therefore you are cooking it, and violating the Melacha of Bishul by using the hot water. In other words, the problem is not the use of the hot water, the problem is that you are causing cold water to flow into the boiler and be cooked. Many boilers have a valve which enables you to turn off the cold water intake. You should check with a plumber before doing this, but if you would close that valve before Shabbos you would be permitted to use hot water from your faucet on Shabbos for doing dishes and washing up.

We may not use a sponge or scrubber on Shabbos, because of Sechitah, as we mentioned above regarding a toothbrush. However, we may use a plastic pad which does not absorb liquid at all, i.e. if you would squeeze it after using it in liquid nothing would come out. My mother-in-law saves her onion bags for doing dishes on Shabbos, and they work perfectly!

Many have a Minhag not to use liquid soap on Shabbos, especially not the thick American kind, as they are concerned that when you scrub with it you are changing its form and liquefying it further. They are also concerned that creating bubbles might be problematic on Shabbos. However, even if you have such a Minhag, there is a simple way to take care of this. Dilute the soap- even on Shabbos- by pouring it into a cup or bowl of water- and then use it as you wish. Since it “liquifies” by itself, it is permitted to do this on Shabbos and subsequently use the diluted soap as needed. No bubbles are created if it is poured into the water, rather than running the water onto it. Even is some bubbles are created afterwards while you scrub the dishes, since it isn’t a thick lather it is not a problem.

This may also be done for liquid hand and facial soap.

Take care, and have a wonderful, enjoyable, and beautiful Shabbos!

Rabbi Aaron Tendler




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