Category Archives: Archives 5771


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




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



Kislev 5771 – Are We All Thieves? Copying Music

Are We All Thieves? Copying Music Kislev 5771
Are We All Thieves? Copying Music
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler


Dear Rabbi Tendler,

If I have Music on my ipod that I copied from my friends music library, and I would not (REALLY I WOULDN’T ) buy it otherwise but I like the cd or song and listen to it every once in a while, is it considered stealing? and what about cds you used to have or your married siblings have, can you copy those … thank you so much!!!!!

Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your important question. Believe it or not, this is one of the easiet questions to answer- yet at the same time it is one of the most difficult questions to answer! The easy answer is that it all depends on what restrictions the artist or whoever “owns” the song have placed on it. If they say no copying allowed, and you have copied the song to your ipod, this would be theft (I’m assuming that you copied contemporary Jewish music, in which case it is likely that there was a “Mechirah Al Tanai”, a conditional sale restricting unauthorized copying. Music with a generic copyright may be copied for personal use, if you would not purchase it otherwise, and only resale to others would not be allowed.) The difficult part is- how do you know exactly what they are restricting you from? There are some situations where a person is permitted to make an assumption that an artist gives permission, for example if you purchased a CD and you make a copy just in case it may scratch. Then the question arises- can I now keep the backup copy in my car, lend it to a friend, or give it to my daughter going away for a year in seminary? There are so many different situations and variables involved in this, that it is almost impossible to give a thorough answer that would cover all circumstances.

I’m taking the liberty of pasting here an answer given by Rabby Yisroel Belsky Shlit”a of Yeshiva Torah V’Daas (and posted on the website) that sheds light on some of these issues. I hope you find it helpful!

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler


Can I make a copy of my own CD or tape, and put it away, in case it breaks or gets lost?


I think it is universally accepted that when you buy a CD, you are allowed to make a backup copy of the CD. This way if you break or lose the CD, you still have a copy to replace the original, and you don’t have to buy another one. I tried to look into this, and I believe that this is the accepted practice – that a person who buys a tape or CD can make a backup copy of it.

The bottom line when making a copy is that there shouldn’t be two people who have the same tape or CD, when only one paid for it. That’s the easiest way to define the central issue. If two people have use of a tape or CD at the same time, that means both people should have paid. If there are two users, there should have been two customers. But if there is one user who just wants to make sure that he doesn’t lose his tape or CD, and makes a copy, then we only have one user, with an extra backup, and that’s allowed.


If it breaks, and I hadn’t made a copy, can I borrow the same title from a friend, and then make a copy for myself?


If it breaks and you had forgotten to make a backup, does that mean you are now stuck, and have to go out and buy another original version of the tape or CD? I would say that you could act as if you had been wise and prudent in the beginning, and could make a backup now – by making a copy from someone who has one. The producer of the tape or CD doesn’t expect there to be two users who buy three originals. His intention is that there are two users who buy two original copies. You’re not taking away from his business, or causing him a loss.

I think it can be done because you had the right to do this before you lost it.  You just assumed that you wouldn’t break or lose it.


I bought a CD that I listen to in my car. Can I make a copy so my wife can listen to it in her car also?


The rule of thumb is this – ask if you are making a copy instead of buying it.  If you did not have the ability to make a copy, would you buy another one? If so, you would be required to buy two, i.e. pay for two.

The reason it’s permitted for someone to make a copy to use in the car as well as at home, is because a person can’t be at home and in the car at the same time. If he couldn’t make a copy, he would have to carry the CD back and forth between his house and his car. He makes the copy for the convenience of leaving one in the car, and having one at home, so he doesn’t always have to take it back and forth. But if he couldn’t make a copy, this ‘convenience’ is probably not important enough for him to actually buy two copies. So when you make the copy for the car, it’s not to copy an item that you would otherwise buy, because you wouldn’t have bought two to begin with. You are just making the copy for the car because this is more convenient for you.

However, having one for yourself and then making a copy for your wife – that’s different.  Perhaps if you couldn’t copy the CD, then you would actually buy two. Perhaps both of you want to listen to the CD at the same time. In that case, you’d be making a copy to save yourself the price of the second one, which is prohibited.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that you and your wife are very frugal, and that you would never buy two. Instead, you tell your wife, “We should buy two different CD’s, and I’ll listen to one and you’ll listen to the other one. Then later, when we get tired of listening to our CD’s, we’ll switch. It will be better, since instead of having only one CD that we have to share, we’ll have two instead.”

Still, it’s not that common for people to buy two of the same CD, even in the case of getting one for himself and the other for his wife.  But if that’s what you usually do, then you must pay for the copy.


Assuming I made a copy for the car, and the original is at home, how important is it that I know, for example, that my kids aren’t listening to it at home while I’m in the car listening to mine. So it ends up that both CDs (the original and the copy) are being used at the same time. Should I make sure they’re not being used at the same time, or is that not important?


The fact that they are being used at the same time is not really going to change things. It’s whether you would have bought two of them or not. When it comes to kids, I think it’s more common for a person to get one for the kids and one for themselves, because the kids will probably end up damaging it. On the other hand, if you’ve already heard it a lot, and you wouldn’t mind taking risks and giving it to the kids, then it should be all right.


So you have to be honest with yourself? Just ask yourself: Would I have normally bought a second copy?  If the answer is yes, then you have to buy another copy.  If the answer is no, then you could make a copy and both use it.


Yes, I think so, but you have to be very honest with yourself.


So the question is how honest you are being with yourself?


Yes. If you’re not too honest, or if you doubt that your soul-searching is that accurate, then follow the rule by kashrus: “When in doubt, do without!”


Teves 5771 – Stretching Our Religion – Yoga

Yoga Teves 5771
Stretching Our Religion – Yoga
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler


Dear Rabbi Tendler,

Is there a problem with doing Yoga? I’ve heard that it may be a form of Avodah Zarah. Can you clarify the issue?

Thank you very much.

Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Thank you for your question. Although I must admit that I know very little about Yoga, from the information that I have gleaned from various references it is clear that it is an important feature of Hinduism, which is clearly Avodah Zara. Apparently, there are also many different types of Yoga, some involving “religious meditation”, and other involving non-religious meditation.

It is important to realize that every religion that is started has some elements of truth to it, as this is how they attract adherents. However, they “repackage” the truths with other beliefs, and present it as a “package deal”, and the claim is made that if one part is true, the whole must be true. This is how Christianity and Islam were started (based on our truths of Yiddishkeit). The Rambam (Hilchos Avodah Zara 1:1) writes that even Avodah Zara was started in this manner, and over time the original truths were pushed to the background, and only the nonsense (in the case of Hinduism I assume that this would be the deification of cows, etc.) remained.

Consequently, it is important to distinguish between meditation and exercises that are beneficial to a person’s mental and physical well being, no matter what their beliefs are, and rituals that are part of idol worship. There is nothing wrong with meditation per se, references to it can be found in the Sifrei Kabbalah and even to a certain extent in Sifrei Mussar (Hisbodedus). People claim that meditative exercises can assist them in reducing weight, toning nerves and muscles, and improving their mental health, among other things. If this is true, there is nothing wrong with it, and a person might even be fulfilling the Mitzvah of “V’Nishmartem Me’od L’Nafshoseichem” by doing so. But to believe that this only works through a religious medium, and to pattern these exercises in the manner of those that practice Avodah Zarah, is clearly not proper according to Halacha. I also believe that since Yoga is so closely connected with Hinduism, it would not be proper to organize a group of people, even if they are properly doing these exercises and call it a “Yoga class or group”, rather it should be called a “meditation class”, or something along those lines.

If however, it is a regular exercise class with the yoga and breathing stretches and so forth- not connected to any form of religion etc – this, of course, is fine.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler