Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hot Water Taps & Kashrus

Here is another one from the Mi Yodeya files. This is the long version of my answer here.

QUESTION: Many offices have a water dispenser (with hot water spout) or a hot water tap next to a sink. Is this hot tap Kosher? Assume for a moment that someone uses the tap to dispense hot water into a cup of non-Kosher instant soup or non-Kosher instant hot chocolate. Does the steam from the cup make the tap non-Kosher? – Seth J

ANSWER: You may use the water from the tap.

The following is the basis for my answer:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Showering & Changing Clothes During the Nine Days

QUESTION: Is it permitted to shower or change clothes during the Nine Days?

SHORT ANSWER: It is a mitzva to shower as one normally does on every day other than Tisha Bav itself, and changing shirts, socks and undergarments as one normally does for cleanliness is permitted – better yet, it is expected – even on Tisha Bav itself.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Few Points Regarding Some Laws of Niddah

I COMMONLY FIND that when one thing bothers me a million things bother me. Chana Gittel over at JMVHO has posted a number of complaints about certain Halachic standards found within her community. Some of the things she mentions are being done in compliance with Halacha, and some aren’t (in my opinion). So while I won’t be able to make everything go away, I’d like to address her points and clarify which things are ‘real’ and which aren’t, and outline what is required by Halacha and what is not.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Staring at the Kohanim

THERE IS AN INTERESTING new site that opened up called Need An Eitzah. It is similar to the stack exchange site Mi Yodeya with the exception that it allows for opinions as well. I think it’s a great site. Here is a quick bit of Halachic information that I posted as an answer there today:[1]

The Gemara says that someone who gazes upon the Kohanim in the Beis HaMikdash while they are standing on their platform and blessing the Jewish People; such a person’s vision will fade.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What do you do if you mistakenly make a bracha today?

WHILE AT SHUL YESTERDAY I noticed something in one of those weekly Torah periodicals they give out. A Halachic question was asked: If someone forgot that it was a fast day (for the purposes of this article, “fast day” refers to the seventeenth of Tammuz, the Tenth of Teves, and the Fast of Gedaliah), took some food and made a bracha on it, what should one do? The answer given was that there are generally two approaches; 1) to eat less than an olive-sized portion of the food, thereby not fully breaking the fast; or 2) to eat nothing, and to simply say baruch shem kevod malchuso le’olam va’ed – the praise we customarily recite after having mistakenly spoken God’s name in vain. A third approach was also offered; that one taste the food without swallowing.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Whose Fault Was It?

TOMORROW MARKS THE BEGINNING of the ‘Three Weeks.’ During this period is common to reflect on the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the events which led up to it. One of the better known stories of the Talmud on the topic is the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. The Gemara relates:

אקמצא ובר קמצא חרוב ירושלים דההוא גברא דרחמיה קמצא ובעל דבביה בר קמצא עבד סעודתא אמר ליה לשמעיה זיל אייתי לי קמצא אזל אייתי ליה בר קמצא אתא אשכחיה דהוה יתיב אמר ליה מכדי ההוא גברא בעל דבבא דההוא גברא הוא מאי בעית הכא קום פוק אמר ליה הואיל ואתאי שבקן ויהיבנא לך דמי מה דאכילנא ושתינא אמר ליה לא אמר ליה יהיבנא לך דמי פלגא דסעודתיך אמר ליה לא אמר ליה יהיבנא לך דמי כולה סעודתיך א"ל לא נקטיה בידיה ואוקמיה ואפקיה אמר הואיל והוו יתבי רבנן ולא מחו ביה ש"מ קא ניחא להו איזיל איכול בהו קורצא בי מלכא אזל אמר ליה לקיסר מרדו בך יהודאי א"ל מי יימר א"ל שדר להו קורבנא חזית אי מקרבין ליה אזל שדר בידיה עגלא תלתא בהדי דקאתי שדא ביה מומא בניב שפתים ואמרי לה בדוקין שבעין דוכתא דלדידן הוה מומא ולדידהו לאו מומא הוא סבור רבנן לקרוביה משום שלום מלכות אמר להו רבי זכריה בן אבקולס יאמרו בעלי מומין קריבין לגבי מזבח סבור למיקטליה דלא ליזיל ולימא אמר להו רבי זכריה יאמרו מטיל מום בקדשים יהרג אמר רבי יוחנן ענוותנותו של רבי זכריה בן אבקולס החריבה את ביתנו ושרפה את היכלנו והגליתנו מארצנו שדר עלוייהו לנירון קיסר.

The destruction of Jerusalem came through a Kamtza and a Bar Kamtza in this way. A certain man had a friend Kamtza and an enemy Bar Kamtza. He once made a party and said to his servant, “Go and bring Kamtza.” The man went and brought Bar Kamtza. When the man [who gave the party] found him there he said, “See, you tell tales about me; what are you doing here? Get out.” Said the other: “Since I am here, let me stay and I will pay you for whatever I eat and drink.” He said, “I won't.” “Then let me give you half the cost of the party.” “No,” said the other. “Then let me pay for the whole party.” He still said no, and he took him by the hand and put him out. Said the other, “Since the rabbis were sitting there and did not stop him, this shows that they agreed with him. I will go and inform against them to the government.” He went and said to the Emperor, “The Jews are rebelling against you.” He [the emperor] said, “How can I tell?” He said to him: “Send them an offering and see whether they will offer it [on the altar].” So he sent with him a fine calf. While on the way he made a blemish on its upper lip, or as some say on the white of its eye, in a place where we [Jews] count it a blemish but they do not. The rabbis were inclined to offer it in order not to offend the government. Said R. Zechariah ben Avkulas to them: “[You cannot do so, for] people will say that blemished animals are offered on the altar.” They then proposed to kill Bar Kamtza so that he should not go and inform against them, but R. Zechariah ben Avkulas said to them, “Is one who makes a blemish on consecrated animals to be put to death?” R. Johanan thereupon remarked: Through the scrupulousness of R. Zechariah ben Avkulas our House has been destroyed, our Temple burnt and we ourselves exiled from our land. He [the Emperor] sent against them Nero the Caesar…[1]

Many ask the question – whose fault was it? Is the Gemara trying to pin it all on the malevolent host? On the unforgiving Bar Kamtza? On the rabbis who looked away? On R. Zechariah ben Avkulas’s scrupulousness that went overboard?