Q: Do potato chips need to be bishul Yisroel (cooked by a Jew)?

A: The Shulchan Aruch states that there is a rabbinic obligation that food be cooked through bishul Yisroel if both of the following conditions are met: (i) The food is generally not eaten raw, and (ii) The cooked food is something that would be served at a shulchan melochim – a king’s table.1 Since we are no longer ruled by royalty, we cannot observe what is served at a king’s table. The modern-day equivalent to a king’s meal is an elegant meal, such as that served at a wedding.2  This second condition is met whether the food is served at a shulchan melochim as part of the main course or as the dessert. In either case, if the food is generally not eaten raw it needs to be bishul Yisroel.3

The Aruch Hashulchan proposes that potatoes are peasant food and are not […]

Q: When is the brocha of Hatov Vehameitiv recited over wine?

A: Before drinking a cup of wine, one recites the brocha of Borei Pri Hagofen. Under certain circumstances, if a different wine is subsequently drunk one recites an additional blessing – the brocha of Hatov Vehameitiv.1 The brocha gives thanks to Hashem for blessing the person with a richness of wine. The Hebrew text of the brocha is

   2ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם הטוב והמטיב

This brocha is recited only if a number of conditions are met:

If the second wine is of lesser quality than the first wine, Hatov Vehameitiv is not recited.3 There is one exception to this rule. If the first wine is red and the second one is white (but not the other way around), Hatov Vehameitiv is recited even if the second wine is known to be of slightly inferior quality. This is because Chazal consider […]

Q:   When I say  Al Hamichya and make a mistake, I don’t know what to do.  Could you give me some guidelines?

A:    There are three places in the  brocha me’ein shalosh (colloquially known as  Al Hamichya) where the text changes, depending on what was eaten:

(1)    The  brocha starts with the words “ Boruch atah Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olamal …”, followed by either “ hagefen  ve’al pri hagefen” if a person drank wine, “ ha’eitz  ve’al pri ha’eitz” if he ate fruit from the  shivas  haminim, “ hamichyeh  ve’al hakalkalah” if he ate food made from any of the five types of grain (wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt), or a combination of these phrases if he ate or drank a combination of items.1

(2)    Further on in the  brocha , one says “…  ve’nodeh  lecha al ha’aretz ve’al …”, followed by either “ pri  hagofen”, “ ha’peyros”, “ hamichya”, or a combination of these phrases.

(3)    The  brocha concludes with the words “…  Boruch atah Hashem al …”, followed once again by either “ hagefen  ve’al pri hagefen”, “ ha’eitz  ve’al pri ha’eitz”, “ hamichya  ve’al hakalkalah”, […]

 Published Spring 2014

Q:        I would like to send my young children to a backyard camp during the summer.  The camp is offering an ‘early-bird special’ if I register my children now.  If I wait until the summer to register, they will charge more.  Is there any ribbis issue with registering now and receiving the discount?

A:         Ribbis involves lending money to another Jew and charging interest.  Doing so may violate a Torah prohibition or a rabbinic prohibition, depending upon the situation.  If it is necessary to charge interest, the two parties may sign a document known as a “heter iska”, which converts the loan into a business investment, thereby avoiding the prohibition of ribbis.1  People are often unaware that a number of common transactions may violate the prohibition of ribbis.  Here are a couple of examples:

 

(1)   Reuven buys an item with Shimon’s credit card, and assures Shimon that he will pay the credit card bill.  However, Reuven forgets to pay the bill […]

Q: I have heard that someone who bakes loaves of bread with the intention of giving them to other people does not separate challah with a brocha. Can you explain the parameters of this halacha?

A: One is obligated to perform the mitzvah of separating challah when kneading dough which will be baked into bread. The amount of flour one must knead in order to be obligated in this mitzvah is an asiris ha’aifa, which is equivalent to the volume of 43⅕ beitzah.1 The exact volume of a beitzah is a matter of dispute. L’halacha, one should separate challah without a brocha when kneading 2.6 lbs. of flour, which on average is equivalent to 8⅔ cups of flour. According to Rav Chaim Noeh, one can separate challah with a brocha when kneading 3.675 lbs. or more of flour (on average, 12¼ cups). Many follow the opinion of the Chazon Ish, and […]

 

Q:   It has become common for businesses and stores to have security video cameras which monitor the foot traffic in front of their properties. Similarly, many apartment buildings have video cameras which record anything that enters or exits the building. Is a Jew allowed to walk in front of such a video camera on Shabbos? Can a Jew operate a video camera knowing that other Jews will walk in front of it on Shabbos?

A:    In order to answer this question, we need to address four issues.

(1)  The video camera may be connected to a monitor that displays the recorded image.  May a person walk in front of a video camera on  Shabbos if it will cause his image to be displayed on a monitor? 

One of the forbidden  melachos on  Shabbos is  kesiva, writing.  Drawing a picture is also considered to be  kesiva  mideoraissa (writing which is forbidden by the  […]

Q: When a person stays in a hotel for Shabbos, does he need to make an eruv chatzeiros to allow him to carry items in the hallways and lobby?

A: In order to answer this question, we need to review some of the basic halachos of eruv chatzeiros.

In the times of Chazal, it was common for private houses to be situated around the perimeter of a rectangular central courtyard, known as a chatzeir. The chatzeir was used by the members of these houses for chores, such as washing clothes and grinding grain. The Torah considers a chatzeir to be a reshus hayachid (a private domain) if it is surrounded on all sides by walls of the houses and one could, therefore, carry in the chatzeir on Shabbos. However, due to the fact that a chatzeir is less private than a house, the Rabonnon forbade carrying in a chatzeir unless the following […]

Q: Could you give me some guidelines as to when sheva brochos are recited?

A: When a chosson and kallah get married, sheva brochos are recited on three occasions: (i) under the chupah, (ii) at the end of the meal following the chupah, and (iii) at the end of subsequent meals that are made lekovod the chosson and kallah. It is this third category which is commonly known as sheva brochos. If the chosson and kallah have both been previously married, sheva brochos are recited only on the day of the wedding.1 If either the chosson or kallah has not been previously married, sheva brochos are recited on the seven days following the wedding, with the day of the wedding reckoned as the first of those seven days.2 If neither the chosson nor the kallah have previously been living an observant lifestyle (or if one of them has not been living […]

Shailos From The Institute Of Halacha

Kashrus Kurrents is proud to launch a new column, “Insights from the Institute”.  In this regular feature, HaRav Frankel will share with our readership intriguing shailos from his E-mail bag.  The following is a sampling of the types of interesting questions that will be addressed in future columns.

Q: My freezer has an ice making machine, which has an arm that rises as ice is produced and lowers when ice is removed. I generally turn the machine off before Shabbos by lifting the arm until it is fully raised. If I forget to do this, can I remove ice on Shabbos from the ice maker?

Q: There is a brocha which is recited once a year upon seeing a newly flowering tree.  I have a number of questions regarding Birchas Hailonos: 

Q: May one enter a non‐kosher restaurant to get a drink of water, use the restroom or attend a business luncheon?  If a person does enter such an establishment, may he eat kosher items such as whole fruit?  May one buy a cup of coffee at a non‐kosher facility, such as a highway rest stop or Starbucks?

Q:       I had a bottle of wine stored in the shelving unit on the door of my refrigerator.  I was in the kitchen, and I saw my non-Jewish hired help open the refrigerator.   She knows that she is not allowed to touch my wine, but did not pay attention to the fact that opening the refrigerator moves the wine on the door.  Can I still drink the wine?

Q:       I would like to buy a warming tray that has been manufactured for the Shomer Shabbos community. It is a glass covered warming tray and has a variable temperature dial with a removable knob. It can be set at a minimum temperature of 110 0F and a maximum temperature of 230 0F. It has a sticker on it stating that it is intended solely for the reheating of cooked foods and is not intended to be used for cooking. How may this tray be used on Shabbos?

Q: I have been invited to eat out on Succos.  The Succah has canvas walls which shake in the wind.  Is this a problem?

Q: My doctor has told me that I have sleep apnea, and advised me to use a sleep apnea machine.  Can this device be used on Shabbos?

Q:        Which brocha should be recited when eating the following foods?  (i) Hearts of palm; (ii) Cranberries; (iii) Sushi; (iv) Ezekiel bread; and (v) Rice cakes.

Q: When my barber works on the area around my ear and temple, what I am allowed to let him do and what should I stop him from doing?

Q: I have a number of utensils which need kashering through hagalah (immersion in boiling water). Which materials may and may not be kashered?

Q: I am going to Israel and will be visiting the kosel (Western Wall). I know that it is customary to tear kriah upon seeing the kosel, but what exactly is the procedure?