Insights from the Institute: Halacha of Erecting a Fence Around a Roof

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2018

Q: Under which circumstances is a person obligated to erect a fence around the roof of his house?

A: The Torah in parshas Ki-Setze states, “When you build a new house make a railing for your roof, and you shall not bring blood on your house if someone falls from there”.1 The Torah requires one to build a maakeh – a fence – around a flat roof that people walk on, so as to protect them from falling. The mitzvah applies not only to someone who builds a house but also to someone who buys, inherits or is gifted a house.2 A person who rents a house is also required to build a maakeh if the owner has not already done so.3

A maakeh has to be strong enough that a person could lean against it without falling, and it has to be ten tefachim high.[...] Read More

Insights from the Institute: Do Potato Chips Require Bishul Yisroel

Kashrus Kurrents, Fall 2016

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 […]

Insights from the Institute: When to Recite Hatov V’Hameitiv Over Wine

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2016

Q: When is the brocha of Hatov v’Hameitiv 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 […]

Insights from the Institute: Correcting Al Hamichya Mistakes

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2014

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”, […]

Insights from the Institute: Does Using Early-Bird Discounts Create a Ribbis Issue

Kashrus Kurrents, 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 on time, and […]

Insights from the Institute: Separating Challah When Giving the Bread Away

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2014

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 […]

Insights from the Institute: Security Cameras on Shabbos

Winter 2015

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  Torah). 1However, there are […]

Insights from the Institute: Eruv Chatzeiros in a Hotel on Shabbos

Fall 2013

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 […]

Insights from the Institute: Sheva Brachos Guidelines

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2013

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 […]

Insights from the Institute: Creating a Round Cake Decorated as a Sun | Doing Dental Work on a Parent

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2008

Inaugural Issue: Shailos From The Institute Of Halacha
Kashrus Kurrents is proud to launch a new column, “Insights from the Institute”.  In this regular feature, Rabbi Mordechai Frankel will share with our readership intriguing shailos from his email inbox. The following is a sampling of the types of interesting questions that will be addressed in future columns.

Insights from the Institute: Heating & Cooling – Using Ice from an Ice Maker on Shabbos | Using an Electric Hot Water Heater on Yom Tov

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2008

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?

A: There are various types of ice maker machines available, and they do not all work in the same way.  However, many of the commonly available models employ the following mechanism.  The ice making process begins when the ice maker signals the water valve to open, and a specified amount of […]

Insights from the Institute: Bracha On a Newly Flowering Tree – Birchas Ha’Ilanos Guidelines

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2009

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: 

(i) When is the optimal time to say this brocha?  Does the brocha have to be said during the month of Nissan? 

(ii) What rules apply concerning the location of the person when saying the brocha?  How far away can you be from the tree when saying the brocha?  Can you be inside a house or other structure?  Can you be in a car?  Is it necessary to be at a site where there is more than one tree? 

(iii) What limitations are there regarding the type of tree over which this brocha may be recited?  Does the tree need to be fruit bearing?  How old should the […]

Insights from the Institute: Maris Ayin Using Non-Kosher Venues

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2009

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?

Insights from the Institute: When Non-Mevushal Wine Becomes Stam Yeinom | Shipping Packages for Shabbos Delivery

Kashrus Kurrents, Fall 2009

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?

Insights from the Institute: Using a Warming Tray on Shabbos

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2009

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?

A:  In order to answer this question, one must have an understanding of the Rabbinic prohibitions of shehiyah and chazarah.  The parameters of these two prohibitions differ for Ashkenazim and Sefardim.  This response will explain the halachah as it applies to Ashkenazim.

Shehiyah:  Shehiyah is the act of placing food on an open flame before the onset of Shabbos […]

Insights from the Institute: Using a CPAP Machine on Shabbos

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2010

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?

A: Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing during sleep.  Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of the disorder, is caused by the relaxation of the walls of soft tissue in the airway of the throat during sleep.  Common symptoms include loud snoring, restless sleep, and daytime sleepiness.  Sleep-disordered breathing is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure,arrhythmias, diabetes, and sleep deprived driving accidents.1  Recent studies have shown that sleep apnea affects about 16% of men and 5% of women between 30 and 65 years of age.[...] Read More

Insights from the Institute:  Which Materials May Be Kashered (and Which May Not)

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2012

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

A:   A fleishig utensil which comes into contact with hot milchig food or a milchig utensil which comes into contact with hot fleishig food needs to be kashered before further use.  There are a number of methods for kashering, dependent upon the manner of contact between the utensil and the food.  Perhaps the most common form of kashering is hagalah, in which the utensil is immersed in boiling water.

Metal
The Torah tells us that a vessel may be kashered if it is made from one of six metals:  gold, silver, copper, iron, tin or lead.1  There are other metals and alloys which were not in common use at the time of Matan […]

Insights From The Institute: Tearing Kriah at the Kosel

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2013

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?

A:  The Shulchan Aruch paskens that when a person sees the cities of Judea he should say,
ערי קדשך היו מדבר and tear kriah.1  However, it is not customary to do so, possibly because we do not know exactly where the ancient cities of Judea are located.2  The Shulchan Aruch continues that when a person sees the Old City of Yerushalayim he should say, ציון היתה מדבר שממה , and then tear kriah again.3  Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l writes that even nowadays, one should tear kriah upon seeing the Old City.4  However, Rav Moshe Feinstein […]