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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘laws’

Laws Prohibiting The Charging Of Interest (Bava Metzia 63b)

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

“If I make the slightest mistake, imagine how many people will be eating non-kosher meat because of me,” said the town shochet, the ritual slaughterer, to Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. “I cannot have this on my conscience any longer. I shall go into business instead.”

“Business?” wondered Rabbi Yisrael. “Do you know how many positive and negative commandments you have to worry about in business and how careful you have to be not to violate them? Stick with shechitah. You only have to worry about one.”

“You shall not rob.” “You shall not steal.” “You shall not defraud one another.” “You shall not oppress an employee who is poor or desolate.” “You shall not cheat in measures and weights.” “You shall not take interest.”

It would be wonderful, writes Rabbi Avraham Pam, if people would be required to take semichah in the laws of Choshen Mishpat, the laws of business integrity, before going into business.

Let us focus here on the prohibition against charging interest.

Interest is referred to in the Torah as “neshech,” from the word linshoch, which means to bite. Interest bites you like a snake and slowly devours you, explains Rashi. Interest is also referred to in halacha as ribbit, from the word marbit, to increase, because it increases the debt.

Ribbit is defined in the Talmud as agar natar, which means any compensation, whether in money or in kind, a Jew receives from a fellow Jew for having to wait for payment. If a transaction included ribbit, then according to the Rambam the lender would be in violation of six different Torah prohibitions, corresponding to the six times the Torah forbids the lender from receiving ribbit. The borrower would be in violation of three different Torah prohibitions, corresponding to the three times the Torah forbids the borrower to pay ribbit.

Unlike other monetary prohibitions, including the prohibition against ona’ah, the parties to a transaction cannot contract out of the ribbit prohibition. Even if the debtor agrees to pay ribbit, the transaction remains prohibited. The prohibition against ribbit applies equally to money, commodities, and services. Accordingly, if one borrowed six eggs from one’s neighbor, one may not return seven. If one’s neighbor painted one’s house free of charge, one may not paint his house if it is larger then one’s own house.

The prohibition against ribbit falls into two major categories. The Torah prohibition, known as ribbit ketzutza, and the rabbinic prohibition, known as avak ribbit. Categorizing ribbit as ribbit ketzutza or avak ribbit is of major importance. For one, ribbit ketzutza is recoverable by the borrower in court whereas avak ribbit is not. Also, as in other areas of halacha, there is more room for leniency and flexibility when dealing with rabbinic prohibitions than there is when dealing with Torah prohibitions.

Ribbit ketzutza, or Torah ribbit, occurs only in the context of a loan transaction (as opposed to a sale transaction) and only when the agreement to pay interest was entered into at the same time as the money or other item was loaned. If the maturity date of the loan arrives and the lender agrees to extend the term of the loan for an additional compensation, this too, according to some halachic authorities, constitutes ribbit ketzutza.

If the payment of ribbit was agreed to only after the money or other item was loaned, then there is no violation of ribbit ketzutza, but there is a violation of avak ribbit. A person who sends another a gift specifying that it is to encourage the recipient of the gift to lend him money, or a substantial gift even without such specification, violates the prohibition of avak ribbit. So too, a borrower who sends the lender a gift in articulated appreciation of a past loan that has already been repaid, violates the prohibition of avak ribbit.

An amount of money added to the price of goods to compensate the seller for deferred payment violates the prohibition of avak ribbit. This, however, is only the case if the seller explicitly informs the buyer that the extra charge is due to the deferred payment. There would, however, be no violation of avak ribbit if the seller simply charged an increased amount without specifying that it was to compensate him for having to wait for his money. The lender’s expenses in making a loan available, such as bank transfer fees or in collecting a loan, such as lawyer’s fees, are not considered ribbit.

Most authorities permit a Jew to pay interest to a corporation or bank if non-Jews own the majority of the corporation’s shares.

Raphael Grunfeld

The Laws of Yom Kippur 5777

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Discussed in this article:

Preparing for Yom Kippur,
Erev Yom Kippur,
Halachot of the Fast,
Those who are exempt from fasting,
Yom Kippur,
End of the Fast

Preparing for Yom Kippur:
• It is a positive commandment from the Torah to do Teshuva to Hashem via confession (vidui) of the things we have done wrong and express regret. We should also take upon ourselves never to commit the sin again (דברים ל’, רמב”ם הל’ תשובה).
• For Mitzvot that are Ben Adam LeMakom, you have to confess to Hashem and not to detail your wrongdoings to other people (יומא פו:). For Mitzvot that are Ben Adam LeChavero, you must confess and apologize to the person you have wronged as well as confess and apologize to Hashem.
• If you have hurt your friend and your friend is unaware, for example, you spoke Lashon Hara about him, if the friend will not be hurt any further by knowing of the sin, you should apologize to him. If you think that your friend will be insulted and hurt by knowing about what you have done, do not ask for forgiveness (ממשמעות המג”א תר’ו, וכסברת ר’ ישראל סלנט).
• It is best to be stringent when it comes to Kashrut during Aseret Yemei Teshuva, for example, you should refrain from eating לחם של נכרי and חלב נכרי. This also goes for those who are more lenient about this on all other days of the year (ראבי”ה בשם ירושלמי שבת פ”ג).

Erev Yom Kippur:
• ‘Kapparot’ – Many of the big poskim have decided that it is best not to engage in the practice of Kapparot as there might be some suggestion of idolatry (רמב”ן ורשב”א בשו”ת ח”א שצה, וכן בשו”ע תרה). Although, it is our custom to do Kapparot on a chicken or on money. (It was Rashi’s custom to do Kapparot on a vegetable but we should not do it any differently from what we have customarily done. (רמ”א ומג”א תרה). One can use a credit card for Kapparot after making a donation with it, by circling it overhead as with money.
• Immersing in the Mikve (רא”ש יומא פ”ח כד בשם רס”ג) – We do not make a Bracha on the immersion (רא”ש שם, שלא כרס”ג).
• It is a positive commandment from the Torah to eat as much as you can on this day, especially delicacies (יומא פא, רא”ש שם, שו”ע תרד ומשנ”ב סק”א, ולא כרמב”ם). There are those who explain that the Torah is trying to make the fast easier for us with food (ב”ח תר”ד). And there are those who say that Torah is trying to make this day a little harder (ערוה”ש תר”ד).
• Mincha is davened early, before the Seudat Mafseket. During Mincha, Vidui is said during the Shmona Esrei, but not during Chazarat HaShatz. We do not say Avinu Malkeinu. (The Sephradim minhag is to say it)
• We light candles with a Bracha (…shel Yom HaKippurim) and we say Shehechiyanu, as it is written in the Machzor. In addition, you should light a yahrtzeit candle, so that Havdala is recited on a candle that has been lit all day.
• The father (and there are some whose custom it is also for the mother) bless the sons and daughters, as it is written in the Machzor. The children are supposed to kiss the parents’ hands following the Bracha (כתבי האר”י)
• Men should wrap themselves in their Tallit before sundown with a Bracha. There is a prevailing custom to wear a kittel so that we appear as the angels do and to remind us of the seriousness of this day (יום המיתה) and encourage us to do Teshuva.
• Tefillat Zaka is said before Kol Nidrei.

Halachot of the Fast:
• The fast starts at night (ויקרא כ”ג).
• On Yom Kippur, refrain from 5 things: eating and drinking, washing, anointing, wearing leather and marital relations between husband and wife (גמ’ יומא, פ”א ה”ד). According to the רא”ש they are all Rabbinical prohibitions, aside from eating and drinking, but according to the Rambam they are all prohibitions from the Torah.
• You are prohibited from doing any creative work (Melacha) on Yom Kippur (ויקרא כג)
• Women who have given birth, are pregnant, are weak or who have difficulty standing, are permitted to wash as they normally do – not for pleasure but for health and cleanliness reasons only (רמב”ם פ”ג ק”ב ערוה”ש תריג ס”ט).
• For those who have a hard time fasting, you are permitted to chew flavorless gum on Yom Kippur ((ממשמעות מג”א תקס’ז, וכה”ח החמיר שם אפילו בבליעת רוק .
• Avoid bathing and washing for pleasure (שו”ע תריג) but washing for cleanliness purposes is permitted (ראשונים, מג”א שם סק”א).
• Washing for cleanliness which is also pleasurable (for example, washing one’s dirty face with warm water) is prohibited (ממשמעות הרמ”א שם ס”ד).
• It is best not to put on deodorant on Yom Kippur. But, if it will disturb you or others greatly if you do not put on deodorant, you can use spray, but not a solid or cream deodorant.
• There are those who are stringent and say that it is best not to wear Crocs or Shoresh sandals because of their comfort level (ע”פ שער”ת תקנד סקי”א, ומשנ”ב שם סק”ה), however, according to the law, it is permissible and that is what the custom has become (ערוך השולחן שם ס”ה). • One should avoid touching one’s spouse at night, but it is permissible during the daytime. (ט”ז תרטו סק”א, ערוה”ש תרטו ס”א, ושלא כמג”א ומשנ”ב שהחמירו).
• If it is necessary, you can bathe your children on Yom Kippur, in tepid water. Take care not to use warm water. (ב”ח ומג”א תרטז סק”א ומשנ”ב שם).
• Kids who have not yet reached Bar or Bat Mitzvah age do not have to fast, but it is customary to have them fast a little for educational purposes (boys from the age of 12, and girls from the age of 11 are fasting) (ב”ח ומג”א ססק”ב).

Those who are exempt from fasting:
• A woman who is pregnant, no matter what stage of pregnancy she is in, who experiences severe headaches, is permitted to drink water in ‘shiurim’, and if that is not enough for her, she may drink a lot.
• A pregnant woman who experiences permanent contractions or whose water has broken, can drink without ‘shiurim’, even if she does not have a headache.
• A woman who has given birth 3 days prior to Yom Kippur, is prohibited from fasting (שו”ע תריז ס”ד)
• A woman who has given birth seven days prior to Yom Kippur, if she or her doctor feel she must eat, she is permitted to eat in ‘Shiurim’. If that is not enough, she is permitted to eat as she chooses. (שבת קכט. ושו”ע תריז ס”ד)
• A woman who is nursing who is worried that she will have less milk for the baby because of the fast, is permitted to drink in ‘Shiurim’ (תורת היולדת בשם חזו”א, עדות הגר”א נבנצל בשם הגרש”ז), There are poskim that say to be Machmir if the child is willing to drink formula (שו”ת אז נדברו ח”ט ט).
• A sick person who is in danger (חולה בסכנה) can eat and drink immediately, as well as someone whose classification of sick and in danger is doubted. This person does not have to go around searching for a Rav to ask whether or not he is permitted to eat. He should eat right away. (ויקרא יח, יומא פב, שו”ע תריח ס”ח)
• A sick person who is not in danger but feels that because of the fast, he might become in danger, is permitted to eat in ‘Shiurim’. (שו”ע תריח ס”א)
• Whoever eats and drinks in “Shiurim” should eat the volume of a matchbox every seven minutes (ערוה”ש תריח סי”ד), and should drink the amount of less than one cheek –full (שו”ע תריח ס”ז) on average a fifth of a disposable cup. It is preferable to eat foods that are sweet and healthy. In a case where eating /drinking in Shiurim every 7 minutes is not enough (שעת הדחק) one can do so every 4 minutes. If there is a need to drink more (drink only) one can drink in Shiurim in 1 minute intervals this is still better than drinking as usual. (כשיטת הרמב”ם שביה”ע פ”ב, וב”י תרי’ב- כרביעית הלוג)
• A sick person who is not in danger is permitted to take medication (pills) without water (אג”מ או”ח ח”ג צ”א).
• A sick person who is not in danger must fast normally. This includes people who experience regular headaches, general weakness, and other such symptoms. If in doubt, ask one of the doctors in the neighborhood.
• One who eats on Yom Kippur does not make Kiddush , but he should add Yaale VeYavo during benching (שו”ע תריח ס”י). One who eats on Yom Kippur is permitted to receive Aliyot LaTorah except for Maftir and Mincha (שו”ת רעק”א סכ”ד).

Yom Kippur
• In the morning, wash Negelvasser up to the knuckles (תו’ס יומא עז).
• Cohanim wash normally during Shacharit. If they have stayed clean, they do not have to wash hands again for Mussaf (ע”פ ערוה”ש תריג ס”ד בשם רמב”ם).
But, during Neila, Cohanim must wash their hands again as there was a break.
• We have been promised by Hashem that Yom Kippur atones for all those who have done Teshuva and that is why it is important to gather your strength and do Teshuva on Yom Kippur, even if it is difficult.
• One who feels that the fast is difficult for him and feels that he cannot continue to daven, should lie down and not break his fast, even if it means that he will not daven with a minyan or will not daven at all.
• A woman who sees that the fast is extremely difficult for her, her husband is exempt from davening with a Minyan and he must assist her so that she will lie down, fast, and not exert too much energy. The same goes for men who find it difficult to fast.

End of the Fast
• During Arvit following the fast, say “Ata Chonantanu”.
• Havdala is done on a candle that has been lit the entire holiday, with wine, without besamim (spices).
• Kiddush Levana should be said even though you haven’t yet eaten, as we are joyous that we have been atoned of our sins. אחרונים
• After the holiday is over, it is customary to do an action that is connected to constructing the Sukka, even if it is only a symbolic gesture (ערוה”ש, גר”א) and to eat with joy. (רמ”א תרכד ס”ה)
• Shacharit on the following day begins a few minutes earlier than usual. (משנ”ב תרכד סי”ד)

Rabbi Baruch Efrati

Shavuot: Heavy On The Customs, Light On The Laws

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Where is the section called “Hilchot Shavuot” in the Shulchan Aruch? Actually, there is no section called Hilchot Shavuot because Shavuot does not have its own section in the Shulchan Aruch.

Instead, the last chapter of Hilchot Pesach is called “Seder Tefillat Chag HaShavuot” and it contains just three short sentences. The Shulchan Aruch simply lists the order of davening for Shavuot, the Torah portions that are read, and the prohibition of fasting on the Yom Tov.

What stands out is the lack of any specific halachot for Shavuot. There is no matzah, no sitting in a sukkah, no shaking a lulav, and no blowing of the shofar.

There is nothing that marks Shavuot as a unique Yom Tov from the halachic prospective of the Shulchan Aruch. The Rama adds some Shavuot customs but not halachot. The customs he mentions are putting out plants in shuls and houses and eating dairy foods.

Even staying up all night on Shavuot is only a custom, not halacha.

It’s a seemingly odd situation. Even the shtei halechem and bikurim were brought only during the time of the Beit HaMikdash.

So we are left with the phenomenon of a festival that is heavy on minhagim but light on halachic imperatives, making this Yom Tov different from all others,

The Talmud (Pesachim 68), in discussing the best way to celebrate the festivals, relates a dispute between R’ Eliezer and R’ Yehoshua.

R’ Eliezer says Yom Tov should be spent either kulo laHashem – entirely praying to God and learning Torah –or kulo lachem – entirely as a day of eating and drinking and other physical enjoyment.

R’ Yehoshua says the festivals should be divided in half, chetzyo laHashem and chetzyo lachem – half for God and half for us.

But even R’ Eliezer agrees that Shavuot must also include physical enjoyment through feasting, because it is the day on which God gave us the Torah.

Rashi explains that we need to show we are still joyful about accepting the Torah and therefore we need to celebrate in a physical manner. Shavuot cannot be only a day of ritual halachic structure; in order for us to demonstrate our joy and happiness at accepting the Torah, Shavuot must include our human input.

Our physical and human enjoyment of Shavuot is described in the Talmud as involving eating and drinking. Of course, over the generations Jews have added various customs to the celebration of Shavuot, but food and drink remain the central focus of our minhagim.

To show our joy in accepting the Torah anew every year, we imbue this festival with delicious new meaning, such as eating cheesecake, cheese blintzes (my favorite), and decorating our synagogues and homes with flowers.

This is how we demonstrate our love for the Yom Tov that celebrates the great gift God gave us when He entrusted us with His holy Torah.

Rabbi Ephraim S. Sprecher

How Tax Laws Can Help in the Fight Against Terrorism

Monday, June 6th, 2016

American tax laws originally enacted to combat money laundering and terrorism adversely affect the millions of American citizens living abroad.

Colleen Graffy, a former United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Professor of International Law at Pepperdine University, explains why FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) restrictions are unfair to law-abiding U.S. expats. Did FATCA lower the value of U.S. citizenship?

Whether FATCA applies to you or not, you need to prepare for retirement. Consider whether dividend-paying stocks are appropriate for retirement savings. Find out more, and also how to download a free copy of The Retirement Planning Book, written by Douglas Goldstein CFP®, by listening to today’s show.

The Goldstein On Gelt Show is a financial podcast. Click on the player below to listen. For show notes and contact details of the guest, go to www.GoldsteinOnGelt.com

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Canada’s Harper Govt to Introduce Anti-Terror Legislation by Weekend

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper’s Conservative government is set to introduce new anti-terrorism legislation by the end of this week, following the recent steps taken by some nations in Europe.

The new laws would enhance the powers of police and security agencies while restricting movement of suspected extremists. It would be illegal to promote terrorism under the new laws as well, Harper told participants at an event in Ottawa on Sunday.

“These measures are designed to help authorities stop planned attacks, get threats off our streets, criminalize the promotion of terrorism and prevent terrorists from traveling and recruiting others,” he told supporters. “It will contain a range of measures to ensure that our police and security agencies have the tools they need to meet evolving threats and keep Canadians safe.”

Harper added that although there would be changes in Canada’s ‘no-fly’ policy, making it tougher for suspected terrorists to board planes, civil liberties would not be curbed.

“To be clear, in doing so, we shall be safeguarding our constitutional rights of speech, of association, of religion and all the rest,” he said.

Last autumn there was a series of terror attacks on Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec that shocked and horrified the public, which until then had not considered that terror could arrive in their land too. Two soldiers were killed within one week.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Eliminates ‘Single Parent Family’ in Legal Lexicon

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

The Knesset has passed an amendment eliminating the term “single parent family” from the lexicon of the legal system in Israel.

Instead, the One-Parent Family Law of 1992 will now read: “Family headed by an independent parent” to clarify the status of a parent with custody and who is head of household.

The amendment proposed by MK Meir Sheetrit replaced “single” parent with “independent” parent in order to avoid the implication that a lone parent was a widow or widower.

A family with a parent who is divorced or separated, who has custody of a child, cannot be classified as a single parent family under current law since both parents are alive. “Once the mother is defined as a ‘sole parent’ the father is, metaphorically, dead,” according to the bill’s explanatory notes.

Sheetrit told reporters, “This definition skews reality and in effect renders the parenthood of the other parent, usually the father, null and void in perception and in practice – not just in the eyes of the mother and child but in the eyes of society as a whole.”

Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, chairperson of the Committee for Advancement of the Status of Women and Gender Equality, meanwhile, noted Tuesday morning that the committee reviewed the issue and found the amendment to be “only semantic.”

Lavie said the change “does not harm the rights granted to these families by law” and noted the point of the amendment was to “affect legal and public discourse in order to strengthen the perception that even in cases of separation between partners, their child has two parents who want his benefit and contribute to his growth and development.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Agudath Israel slams NJ Gay Therapy Law

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Agudath Israel of America condemned a New Jersey law prohibiting gay reparative therapy for minors as an infringement on religious freedom.

The statement from Agudah came just hours after Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill barring licensed therapists from providing treatment to help gay teenagers become straight.

“The new law tramples on the rights of mental health therapists to engage freely in their profession, and it unfairly denies teenagers seeking therapy for issues that are troubling them the ability to obtain professional help,” the group said.

“Under the new law, therapists, social workers or counselors who work with minors on these issues risk losing their licenses to practice their professions, and minors who sincerely want to obtain professional help will have nowhere to turn. This is an unconscionable infringement on personal liberty and a trampling of personal rights, including religious and free speech rights.”

New Jersey joins California as the only states with laws barring so-called reparative therapy. The New Jersey bill passed both houses of the state Legislature in June with bipartisan support.

In signing the bill into law, Christie, a moderate Republican who is widely believed to be eyeing a presidential run in 2016, appended a note indicating his reluctance to intrude on parents’ ability to determine the right treatment for their children.

“However, I also believe that on issues of medical treatment for children, we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards,” Christie wrote. “The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”

JTA

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