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Posts Tagged ‘halachot’

The Ashkenazi – Sefardi Blend

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Sixteen years ago, when I married my husband, I did not give much thought to whether he was Askenazi or Sefardi. Having grown up in what was then a small close-knit Jewish community, it held little importance; my concerns were focused around whether or not my bashert (intended) was Jewish according to halacha, someone who was upstanding in both ideals and actions, and a man solidly committed to a Torah lifestyle.

In my hometown girls married boys from various ethnic backgrounds, many of who were born and even raised for most of their lives in foreign countries. So marrying a man of Moroccan heritage, who was actually born and raised in Brooklyn, did not seem the least bit unusual to me. In fact I felt that whatever cultural differences we had would add some flavor to our family and great new recipes to my file.

For all intents and purposes there was not much difference in our lifestyles. Our goals and dreams complimented one another. My husband was educated in typical main stream Ashkenazi yeshivot and attended popular yeshiva summer camps, while growing up in what was a primarily Ashkenazi community at that time.

Over the course of raising our family together I have made some changes that have helped me to feel more Sephardic – davening a bit differently, giving up my wig (and wearing other types of headcoverings) and cooking more traditional Sephardic foods for my family. Emotionally, for the females that find themselves in this same position, it may take some time to get used to no longer observing religious rituals she grew up with, and instead running her home according to the religious traditions of her husband.

For most families this is where the story might end. Two people from different backgrounds marry, and according to Jewish law follow the minhagim or customs, of the husband’s family. In fact there are even some mitzvot that are performed differently for Ashkenazim and Sefardim, but over time everyone adjusts. Keep in mind, that although religious customs may be observed paternally, there is so much more that goes into raising a family that most couples may choose to incorporate non-religious based traditions from both families.

For the blended family things can be a bit more complicated. What about the children from the wife’s first marriage when there is a “mixed” Sefardic/Ashkenaz second marriage? My children for instance were born Ashkenazi, as both my ex-husband and I are of European decent. His family may have had slightly different family rituals than mine, but the minhagim and halachot were the same for both.

After I married my second husband I now found myself following Sefardic laws and customs, but what about my children from my first marriage? Who do you even ask direction from: an Ashkenazi rabbi or a Sefardic one? Were we obligated to run our home and family honoring two sets of customs? I was concerned that it would hinder my plans to create one cohesive family unit for my blended family.

Fortunately the rabbeim we sought counsel from, both Sefardic and Ashekenaz, understood our concerns and felt that under our personal circumstances, where my children’s biological father had very limited interaction with the children and no participation in their upbringing and education, my children should be raised and educated in accordance with Sephardic customs.

As our blended family grew, my husband and I raised our motley crew according to Sephardic heritage, until one day my daughter from my first marriage met and married a nice Ashkenazi boy. As the custom goes, she now runs her home based on the customs of her husband’s family; she went back to her birth heritage. My husband and I gave little thought to this fact and were thrilled that the boy she was marrying was a ben Torah and raised in a loving home with wonderful parents.

As most of you can attest, by and large the tradition that prominently stands as being polar opposites between the two heritages is the custom of naming a baby. While Sefardic Jews name after the living – as a way of blessing for a long and healthy life – Ashkenazi Jews have the custom of naming after a relative who has passed away as a means of keeping the name and memory alive, and to honor the deceased.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

‘Gotcha’ (I)

I was intrigued by Meir Weingarten’s spin on the El Al cheap ticket fiasco of a couple of weeks ago (“Is ‘Gotcha!’ a Jewish Value?” op-ed, August 24).

First, I’m not sure he is the best choice to present the case for voluntary surrender of the tickets. After all, as a self-described “leader in group travel to Israel” he is not exactly a disinterested party when it comes to matters affecting El Al.

Second, while he referred to “some rabbis who wrote long, intricate articles why it’s not assur” to keep the tickets, he dismissed those articles without any authoritative explanation yet took it upon himself to apply a p’sak issued in a different context, again without authoritative explanation.

Third, he spoke of El Al as if it were human and therefore the beneficiary of halachot governing these kinds of transactions. Can a corporation be Jewish? And who says so? Finally, El Al did not request a return of the tickets and thereby legitimized the choice of customers in keeping them.

Why does Mr. Weingarten take it upon himself to go beyond what the owners of El Al demanded from the purchasers?

Gary Bernstein
(Via E-Mail)

‘Gotcha’ (II)

I wish those who initially took advantage of El Al’s mistake had had the benefit of Meir Weingarten’s article. However, it’s not too late for them to do the right thing – the Jewish thing. We are in Elul, after all.

Harold Marks
(Via E-Mail)

Egypt And Sinai

Re: “Israel’s Trojan Horse” (editorial, Aug. 24):

Wonderful analogy. The Egyptian military was given a way to reenter Sinai without Israel’s protesting. Why should they leave? Would you? And what will Israel do if they stay? Start a war? Another example of Israel’s continuing dilemma.

Selwyn Weiss
(Via E-Mail)

A Reelected Obama

Reader Gary Stein (Letters, Aug. 24) got it exactly right. It is very clear that on Israel and the economy, Mitt Romney is the clear choice over Barack Obama.

Concerning Israel, I have yet to hear from anyone why a reelected President Obama will continue to act as a friend of Israel when there is no longer a political reason to do so.

Misha Gold
(Via E-Mail)

Presidential Double Standard (I)

Re: “The President’s Double Standard” (editorial, Aug. 24):

It’s really very simple why President Obama would ignore attacks on Dennis Ross’s loyalty and rush to the defense of Huma Abedin when similar questions are raised about her.

Obama has always demonstrated a hyper-sensitivity to the feelings of Muslims (to be fair, George W. Bush did so too, as when he repeatedly declared that Islam is a “religion of peace”), while he knows most American Jews are so mindlessly beholden to the Democratic Party that they will vote for him no matter what he says and does.

Michoel Price
(Via E-Mail)

Presidential Double Standard (II)

I was frightened by the “dual loyalty” implications in last week’s editorial titled “The President’s Double Standard.” In discussing a 2011 New York Times article about the pro-Israel advice Dennis Ross gave to President Obama and several presidents before him, you wrote: “The inference is that such advice is so self-evidently against American interests that it could only have been offered by someone whose pro-Israel agenda trumps U.S. interests.”

That really opened my eyes. I’d read that Times article last year and was oblivious to what the writers were implying.

Anne Stern
New York, NY

Communal Disunity

I really appreciated the letter to the editor from Michael Brenner in the Aug. 24 issue. His views on the Siyum HaShas reflect my own and those of many other Modern Orthodox Jews.

I noticed that none of the speakers at either the Citi Field Asifa on the Internet or the Siyum HaShas wore a kippah serugah. Does what we wear on our heads define who we are?

I also appreciated the second item on the My Machberes page, concerning the conflict in the Satmar community between the two Rebbes and their respective followers. That split is a good example of why Mashiach has not yet come. In the name of their religious beliefs they are violating basic precepts of respect for each other.

Leonard Farbowitz
(Via E-Mail)

Perlman-Helfgot

Q & A: Tisha B’Av And Mourning

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Editor’s note: We interrupt our “Chazzan and Congregation” series for this timely discussion on Tisha B’Av. Part IX of “Chazzan and Congregation” will appear next week.

* * * * *

Question: I was taught that due to our state of mourning on Tisha B’Av, we are not allowed to learn or discuss Torah – a topic that makes us happy and weakens our mournful state. Why, then, are we allowed to read from the Torah at Shacharit and Mincha on Tisha B’Av? Also, does the halacha of not learning apply to a regular mourner as well?

Menachem
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: Yoreh De’ah 384:1 (based on Mo’ed Katan 15a) states, “During the entire seven-day period [of mourning], a mourner is forbidden to read from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Mishnah, Gemara, halachot and aggadot – except if people need him to teach them. In such a case, it is permissible.”

We also find a similar ruling regarding Tisha B’Av, our national day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, as the Mechaber notes (Orach Chayim 554:1).

The reason behind the prohibition, according to the Shach (Orach Chayim ad loc.), is the verse in Psalms (19:9), “Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev, mitzvat Hashem barah me’irat eynayim – The commands of Hashem are right; they gladden the heart. The commandment of Hashem is of such clarity that it enlightens the eyes.” Torah has the power of offering unique enjoyment and pleasure. A mourner in his bereavement is not supposed to enjoy this delight.

It is interesting to note that this Shach is at variance with the Mechaber who gives a different source for this halacha. He cites Mo’ed Katan 15a, where we learn that a mourner is prohibited to utter words of Torah since Hashem stated (Ezekiel 24:17), “He’anek dom – Sigh in silence.” Hashem only precluded Ezekiel from any manifestation of outward sorrow. All other people were supposed to publicly mourn, explains Rabbenu Chananel, explicating the position of our sages.

The Gemara (in Ta’anit 30a) states that all customary restrictions on an ordinary mourner during the seven days of mourning apply to the community as a whole on Tisha B’Av. However, there is a difference. On Tisha B’Av, one is prohibited from eating and drinking (Rashi s.v. “asur be’achila uvi’shetiya” explains that these two restrictions apply only to the mourning for the Temples’ destruction).

The Gemara in Ta’anit explains that one is prohibited from (washing and) anointing, donning (leather) shoes, and engaging in marital relations. One is also forbidden to read from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, as well as halachot and aggadot. However, one is permitted to read material that he usually does not read. (Rashi s.v. “be’makom she’eino ragil likrot” explains that since this material is beyond the mourner’s familiarity and understanding, it actually causes him distress.) One may also read Kinot and Job and the elegies in Jeremiah.

Young schoolchildren – tinokot shel beit rabban – should remain idle (i.e., we do not study with them on Tisha B’Av), in accordance with the verse (Psalms 19:9), “Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev – The commands of Hashem are right; they gladden the heart.” R. Yehuda disagrees and states that the learning restrictions apply even to material that one is unfamiliar with. The only exceptions to the no-learning rule, he maintains, are Job, Kinot, and the elegies in Jeremiah.

In any event, we see that both verses apply: the verse from Ezekiel as well as the verse from Psalms.

Regarding the reading of the Torah in shul on Tisha B’Av during Shacharit and Mincha, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 554:4) writes as follows: “One is permitted to read the complete order of the day [i.e., the order of the daily prayer service] as well as the portion of the korbanot, the Mishnah of Ezehu Mekoman (Tractate Zevachim, chapter 5) and the midrash of Rabbi Yishmael (Beraita, in Sifra). (The latter three constitute the portion of tefillah referred to collectively as korbanot.)

The Rema adds that one is allowed to review the parshah on Tisha B’Av. However, both the Ba’er Heiteiv and Mishna Berurah (ad loc.) note that this applies only to the chazzan, who reads the Torah publicly for the congregation. His reading and advance preparation are obviously considered tzorech ha’tzibbur (a public need).

How To Make Pesach Cleaning Stress Free!

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I think if we can be honest with ourselves, most women will admit to enjoying Pesach cleaning – and perhaps to even looking forward to it all year long. What better opportunity is there to start digging through closets and drawers and clearing them out, giving both the house and yourself a physical and emotional purging? When else would you tackle the dusty corners on top of cabinets and vacuum behind heavy furniture?

None of the above has anything to do with chometz, of course. As Rabbi Dovid Orlovsky said, “If men made Pesach and women built the sukkah, both would start on erev Pesach.” So just in case circumstances are completely out of control and you have no time to do much, here is what you must do for Pesach cleaning: Sweep the floor, clear off the table, empty out the fridge, and close the kitchen cabinets. Buy some paper goods and ready-to-eat Pesach products, sell your chometz to the local rabbi and you are done.

But for most of us that won’t work. For the vast majority of us, Pesach cleaning is synonymous with spring-cleaning, and why not? If you’re not going to tackle those tasks for Pesach, when will you?

There are two schools of thought regarding when to first pick up that duster and spray: You can start months in advance and eliminate the stress of 20-hour cleaning days, or you can start as close to Pesach as possible and eliminate the stress of constantly reminding everyone not to walk around with chometz. For me, the decision is a no-brainer; everyone should only be eating at the table anyways.

To make Pesach a success, it is best to start from the year before – last Pesach. I like to keep the receipts of the items I bought. Once the holiday is over, I write up a list of things I actually used and the amounts I needed. Pesach is expensive enough without buying excessive products. I keep the list with my Pesach dishes, but accessible so I can go shopping before its time to bring down the boxes. In addition to last year’s list, it’s a good idea to plan the menu for the entire holiday in advance so you can add the corresponding ingredients to the list. Don’t forget breakfast and snacks. Oh, and please, as a personal favor to me, stay away from any packaged cakes and cookies. No 5×7 cake is good enough to cost ten dollars. You can make Pesach munchies yourself for a quarter of the price and they will be twice as tasty.

To clean your house, I recommend sitting down at a desk or table and writing down all the tasks for each room in the house. Take a calendar and schedule when each task should be done. Remember, unless you are the only person living in the house, you should not be the only person cleaning up. Figure out when you have the most physical energy and try to plan chores for that time. Blast some music and consider the scrubbing a cardio work-out! When organizing cabinets and closets, remember everything has a limited shelf life. If you can’t articulate why you want to keep it, then it’s time to chuck it. If your spouse has a hard time throwing things out, then consider doing it when he or she is not home.

Here’s a sample To-Do list that can be modified as necessary:

1. Bathrooms: vanities, medicine cabinets, high shelves, linen closets.

2. Bedrooms: Closets, dressers, under beds, wipe down blinds, behind radiators. carpet clean, wipe down toys, machine wash stuffed animals, purge old and broken toys.

3. Basement: Organize and purge miscellanea. If you have an extra fridge there, clean and line it first so you can start buying and preparing Pesach products.

4. Den: Clean behind and inside couch. Organize and purge files, purge old toys, dvds and whatever clutter is stashed there.

5. Living Room: Clean behind and inside couch. Wipe down bookcase, purge old books, clean out fireplace, wipe behind picture frames, shellac wooden floors.

6. Dining room: Clean behind, inside and the top of china closet. Wipe down chairs and table. If it’s your custom, line the table and any other surface that will hold food.

7. Kitchen: Move chometz dishes out, organize, purge, clean and line cabinets and drawers, wipe and line fridge, wipe down walls, wipe down garbage can. Different halachot apply with cleaning the stove, so consult your local rabbi. Remove any appliances from counter and line them.

8. Vacuum and scrub the car and strollers, machine wash backpacks and dry clean coats! I know this list is extensive. That’s why you need to start in advance. For working moms, I always recommend Tu B’Shevat as an optimal start date to get everything done on a reasonable schedule. (I know its Adar, don’t panic, just adjust the list to fit the amount of time you have.)

Q & A: What Constitutes Shemot (Part I)

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Question: Since my daughter in high school started researching the topic of shemot for her school newspaper, I have become more and more confused. Does shemot only include items, such as books and sheets of papers, with Hashem’s name on them? Or does it even include items containing Torah concepts or even just Hebrew letters? For example, how do you advise I dispose of The Jewish Press? Finally, concerning Hashem’s name, must the name be spelled out fully in Hebrew to constitute shemot? What if it is in English in abbreviated form – “G-d,” for example?

Shlomo Newfield
(Via E-Mail)

 

Answer: The Mechaber (Yoreh De’ah 276:9-10) states: “It is forbidden to erase even one letter of the seven [Holy] Names that are never to be erased. And one may not erase one of the letters that follow them – for example the final chaf of Elokecha and the chaf and final mem of Elokeichem. And these are the seven Names: The name of Hava’yah, the name of Adnut, Kel, Elokah, Elokim, Sha-dai, Tzevakot, and some include also Eh-yeh asher Eh-yeh. If one wrote Kel from Elokim, Kah from the Name [of Havayah] or he wrote the Name Kah, they are not to be erased. However, as regards shin daled [without the yud] of Sha-dai or tzadi bet of Tzevakot they may be erased.”

The Rema (ad loc.) notes: “The same applies if one wrote alef daled of Adnut or alef heh of Eh-yeh. There are those who are stringent in this matter. However, as regards to the Name comprised of two yuds joined together, [it] may be erased if the need arises.”

The above halachot are mentioned in the context of Hilchot Sefer Torah regarding writing or repairing Sifrei Kodesh. Yet, as we will see, these are the basic halachot regarding any writing of Divine Names.

You asked about G-d’s name written in abbreviated form. My uncle, Harav Sholom Klass, zt”l, was the one of the first people to popularize writing G-d’s name in this way, doing so in The Jewish Press from its very inception (in the winter of 1960). Thus let us cite from his Responsa of Modern Judaism II, where he discussed this matter in detail in two related responses.

We first quote from one of them (p. 535): “Usually, if the name G-d is written in English, it is not considered holy and may be discarded [my uncle he is referring to secular, non-Jewish texts]. Only if written in Hebrew is it not permitted to be discarded.

“The Mishna and Gemara Sotah 38, states the following: In the Beth Hamikdosh the name of G-d was pronounced as it is written, Jeho-a (Yud Kay Vav Kay) but throughout the land it was pronounced (as we do today) Ahdo.

“The Gemara Yoma 39b, then continues with this subject by saying that when Shimon Hatzadik died, his brother Kohanim refused to say the Shem Hameforash (Holy Name) even in the Beth Hamikdosh.

“The Gemara Menachos 109b explains that after the death of Shimon Hatzadik, the Kohanim began to fight and jealousy arose. Tosafos in Sotah 38a explain further that the Shechina (Holy Spirit) departed from the Beth Hamikdosh and therefore the Kohanim weren’t allowed to use the Holy Name.

“The Rambam (Hilchos Tfilos chap. 14:10) explains that they stopped using the Holy Name so that disrespectful and unruly people would not learn it.

“The Maharsha in Kidushin 71a considers G-d’s name, Adoshem, as pertaining to the ‘Middas Hadin’ attribute of judgment which is applicable to this world, while the name Jeho-a is the ‘Middas Harachamim,’ the attribute of mercy which pertains to the other world. Only in the next world, which is all good and compassionate, will we be able to pronounce his name the way it is written.

“The Gemara Kiddushin 71a narrates: G-d says, ‘I am not pronounced as I am written. I am spelled “Yud Kay…” and I am pronounced “Ado…” (Alef Daled…)’

“Our Rabbis taught: At first G-d’s twelve-lettered name used to be entrusted to all the people. When unruly men increased, it was confided to the pious of the priesthood and they swallowed it (pronounced it indistinctly) during their chanting of their brother priests.

“Rabbi Judah said in Rab’s name: ‘The forty-two-lettered name of G-d is entrusted only to him who is pious, meek, middle-aged, free from bad temper, sober and not insistent on his rights…’ [Rashi ad loc. s.v. “v’eino ma’amid al midotav,” explains we are concerned that someone who lacks the latter attribute might use that name to exact retribution against an adversary.]

“The Midrash Rabah explains that the Holy Name of 12 letters represents the letters of Alef, Daled, Nun, Yud, Kay, Vav, Yud, Kay, Alef, Kay, Yud, Kay, which totals twelve letters. The Holy Name of 42 letters is the spelling out of each letter of the above words (such as the letter of Alef) which then total 42.

A Taste Of Eternity

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the Jewish year and it is also the strangest – because it seems to negate all that makes us human.

For this one day we step out of ourselves and become something else, something otherworldly. We are no longer part of this world as we know it. Denying our bodies food, drink, sex and any other possible physical pleasure, we act as if the normal impulses that make us human no longer exist. It is almost as if we have slipped out of physical life into immortality.

Perhaps that is what the Sages were trying to tell us when they said that Yom Kippur is the only time we say aloud the line, “Blessed is the name of His honorable majesty forever and ever (baruch shem k’vod malchuto l’olam vaed) in the recitation of the Shema.

Where did “baruch shem k’vod malchuto” originate? When Moses went up to heaven to receive the Tablets of the Covenant, he overheard the angels praising God with these words. When he returned to earth, he instructed the Jews concerning all the commandments he had received and he also taught them this sentence of praise.

But he said to them, “All the Torah and mitzvot I have given you I received openly from God, but this verse is something that I overheard the angels say when they praise the Holy One. I stole it from them, therefore say it in a whisper.”

It can be likened to someone who stole a jewel and gave it to his daughter, telling her, “All that I have given you, you may wear in public. But this jewel is stolen. Wear it only indoors!”

The Midrash continues, “Why, then, is it said aloud on Yom Kippur? Because then we are like angels, wearing white, not eating or drinking; nor do we have any sins or transgressions, for the Holy One Blessed Be He has forgiven all our transgressions” (Deuteronomy, Midrash Rabbah).

Usually, of course, we are not angels. Far from it. We have human needs and desires. We have impulses that can lead us into sin and transgression (but we also have the ability to channel them in a positive manner and live a good life).

We sin, all of us, in word, thought and deed. We are indeed human. The beauty of Judaism is that it recognizes our physical needs and our impulses. It does not seek to deny them but rather to regulate and control them.

Judaism is not about self-denial. The denial of the body is not praised or required. The pleasure of eating and drinking is acknowledged and is part of religious celebrations through seudat mitzvah, Shabbat and Yom Tov feasts. The act of eating is, however, controlled and regulated by the halachot of kashrut. Sexual desires are considered normal and positive (procreation is even the first of the 613 commandments) but they are controlled by the halachot of marriage and family relations.

So too the desire for wealth. We are not commanded to live lives of poverty, but we are told to share what we have with others through acts of tzedakah and to acquire our wealth honestly.

We know we are not without sin, which is why we are given the mitzvah and opportunity of confession and teshuvah, repentance. On Yom Kippur, however, we are given a taste of eternity, an experience of something otherworldly. We are like the angels, or as close to angels as human beings can get. When all physical needs are denied and canceled, we have a day during which we can concentrate on other matters – when we pray, think, contemplate and lift ourselves to a higher level of holiness and consciousness than normal.

Yom Kippur is the day of the soul. It is the one unique day in the year when we proclaim: “I’m a soul man.”

We begin with listening to the words of Kol Nidre, which conclude with the message “I have forgiven as you have asked” – the assurance that if we have properly repented during the last week, our sins have been blotted out. The burden of guilt has been lifted.

Yes, all during the day we continue to confess our sins, but that serves to make us aware of what we should avoid from now on and to help us plan a purer and holier life. We hear the words of Isaiah in the magnificent haftara of Yom Kippur that teaches us that all these actions, even fasting, are worthless if they do not lead to a life of help and caring for others.

And at the close of Yom Kippur, we experience an incredible inner joy when we move beyond consciousness of hunger into a feeling of renewed strength as we proclaim our most sacred beliefs.

We say the Shema, and the assertion that “The Lord is God” followed by the magnificent blast of the shofar – the shofar that proclaims liberty from sin and transgression, liberty from all that shackles the mind and the body.

At that moment we may not become angels, but we become something no less exalted – real menschen.

Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher is dean of students at the Diaspora Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Title: Shabbat The Right Way: Resolving Halachic Dilemma

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Title: Shabbat The Right Way:

Resolving Halachic Dilemma

Author: Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen

Publisher: Urim Publications

 

 

   Shabbat The Right Way: Resolving Halachic Dilemma is the latest book of Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen, a Jewish Press columnist and recognized posek, as well as the author, previously, of How Does Jewish Law Work, vol. 1-2 and The 613th Commandment.

 

   The book demonstrates his original analysis and creative psak and answers many common halachic questions. Using various sources, Rabbi Cohen discusses a wide range of halachot, minhagim, and contemporary Shabbat issues.

 

   This book is unique in its question and answer format and clear explanations. It is readily understandable by those familiar with the sources, as well as those who are not yet well versed in them.

 

   The book is divided into two categories. The main category includes short answers to questions about such Shabbos-related halachot and minhagim such as Kiddush and the correct nusach of Friday night prayers.

 

   Because he presents opinions, sources, and explanations according to the Ashkenazi tradition, however, Rabbi Cohen does not include the original sources for some of the halachot and minhagim, such as the recitation of Mizmor Shir Leyom HaShabbat, the manner in which one holds the kiddush cup, etc. Their origins are found in kabbalistic writings, such as the Zohar and hechalot literature. These kabbalah-based halachot and minhagim, and their spiritual significance, are discussed at length in the works of Moshe Halamish, Daniel Sperber, Gilat Yitshak Dov, and others.

 

   The second category of Rabbi Cohen’s book covers contemporary issues in great detail, such as employing a Shabbat goy, using a Shabbat timer for a dishwasher, carrying muktzeh objects, saving lives on Shabbat, registering in a hospital on Shabbat, and many more.

 

   One of the major questions that Rabbi Cohen discusses is the use of a bus with a non-Jewish driver on Shabbat to transport elderly or sick people to shul. The issue involves not only purely halachic considerations, but also medical and psychological implications. What if mental anguish would be caused, or the health of an elderly, or sick Jew would be impaired by not going to shul on Shabbat?

 

   This question has been discussed by contemporary poskim. Rabbi Cohen quotes some of them, and prints their responses in his addenda. Almost all of them are stringent, and most of them disagree with the author. The Institute of Halacha and Technology in Jerusalem and the Tsomet Institute offer other solutions for this problem.

 

   Rabbi Cohen shows courage and genuine originality in analyzing these Shabbat questions and offers his opinion and psak even though he is aware that many poskim will disagree with him. That is the way of our Oral Torah. The posek must compare a new issue with earlier piskey halachot in the method of dimui milta lemilta, analyze the sources, learn the opinions of other poskim, and conclude with a psak.

 

   I wholeheartedly recommend Rabbi Cohen’s book; it will strengthen Jewish life and the observance of Shabbat kodesh.

 

   Rabbi Meir Kadosh received his semicha from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik of Yeshivat Rabbenu Itzhak Elchanan (RIETS), and from the Israeli chief rabbinate. He holds a Ph.D. in Jewish philosophy and kabbalah from Bar Ilan University. He is the rav of Kol Shadday Synagogue and rabbi of the Maale religious high school in Jerusalem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/title-shabbat-the-right-way-resolving-halachic-dilemma/2010/07/28/

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