Halacha a Day

Brachot When Lighting The Hanukkah Menorah [Halacha a day]

brachot hanukkah

On the first night of  Hanukkah one says 3 Brachot: 1. Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah – “Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.” ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר(…)


Making tents on Shabbat (Halacha a day)

Making a roof on Shabbat is forbidden; even if it’s a temporary flimsy roof. A roof is defined as a cover, over an area of at least 1 Tefach (8 cm, 3″) by 1 Tefach, and at least 1 Tefach of space underneath it. For example, on Shabbat one may not put a netting over(…)


Visit the sick (Halacha a day)

It’s a Mitzva to visit sick people, irrelevant of the social standing of the visitor or the patient. Close friends and family may visit immediately, but others should wait until the 4th day, so as not to aggravate the patient’s Mazal and give them the “sick” title. However, if a person becomes very ill very(…)


Shabbat Shekalim (Halacha a day)

This week is Shabbat Shekalim and 2 Torah Scrolls are taken out. First we read the regular Torah Reading – Parshat Pekudei, after which we will say “Chazak” concluding Sefer Shemot. We then read the beginning of Parshat כי תשא (Shemot Ch. 30, verses 11-16) in the second Sefer Torah. This is followed by the(…)


Kaddish when there are 2 Torah scrolls (Halacha a day)

On a regular Shabbat, a Kaddish is said after reading the Parsha, before the Maftir is read. When 2 Torah scrolls are used – like this coming week – then the second Torah scroll is put on the Bima next to the first one and the Kadish is said over both. Then Hagba is done(…)


The Pidyon HaBen ceremony (Halacha a day)

On day 31 of a firstborn’s life (if he was born naturally and neither parent is a Cohen or Levi) the Pidyon HaBen ceremony is takes place – along with a festive meal. The Cohen washes and says haMotzi over bread, starting the festive meal. The father then holds the baby [bedecked in jewelry on(…)


Who does a Pidyon HaBen at his Bar Mitzvah? (Halacha a day)

Usually a firstborn baby boy whose father is a Cohen or Levi, or his mother is the daughter of a Cohen or Levi does not need a Pidyon HaBen. If the firstborn’s mother is Jewish but his father is not, then he does his own Pidyon at his Bar Mitzvah. A daughter of a …(…)


How much does a firstborn cost? (Halacha a day)

At the Pidyon HaBen ceremony the father has to give a Cohen 5 biblical Shekalim. 5 biblical Shekalim is about 117 grams of silver (3.77 troy ounces) with a value of about $123 at yesterday’s (February 21, 2011) rate. This value can be given in coins, or other goods. Bank notes, checks, IOUs and property(…)


When does one do a Pidyon HaBen? (Halacha a day)

All firstborn sons (born naturally) have to be “redeemed” by giving 5 biblical Shekalim to a Cohen; unless the baby’s father is a Cohen or Levi, or his mother is the daughter of a Cohen or Levi. The Mitzva is to be done on the 31st day of his life. If day-31 is Shabbat or(…)


Who knows eight? (Halacha a day)

. When a newborn boy is 8 days old, his father has to ensure he gets a Brit Mila (circumcision). So if a baby is born on Sunday, his Brit Mila is the following Sunday. If the father cannot do the Brit Mila himself, he asks a Mohel (a Jewish expert at circumcision) to do(…)


The Sandek only holds the baby once (Halacha a day)

. The person who holds the baby during the Brit Mila is called a Sandek. The custom is that the father never honors the same person twice with Sandeka’ut. (*) On the other hand, the custom is to always use the same Mohel, if he is available. Even if it was assumed that the original(…)


Shabbat party for newborn boys (Halacha a day)

. The Minhag (custom) is to celebrate with fruit and drinks on the Friday night before a baby boy’s Brit Mila. This party is a Se’udat Mitzva (and is called a Shalom-Zachor) There is also a custom to gather in the baby’s house the night before the Brit and to learn Torah. The meal served(…)


Yahrzeit of Moshe Rabeinu (Halacha a day)

. According to most opinions on 7 Adar (this year Friday, February 11) will be the Yahrzeit of our teacher Moses – Moshe Rabeinu. Many Jewish Burial Societies [Chevra Kadisha] have their annual meeting that day, including fasting and special prayers. Halachot related to Moshe Rabeinu: – When babies start talking one should teach them(…)


Is new produce a problem? (Halacha a day)

The “five grains” are wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye. Grain that was planted and started taking root before the first day Chol Hamoed Pessach may be eaten immediately – and is called “Yashan” (old). Grain that took root thereafter is “Chadash” (new) and may not be eaten until after the 2nd day Chol Hamoed(…)


Diverting trouble (Halacha a day)

One may not divert trouble if it will then go to a fellow Jew. However, before the damage arrives, one may protect oneself from being damaged, even if somebody else may suffer as a result. For example: If a river overflows into one’s garden, one may not divert nor drain it, in a manner that(…)