Insights from the Institute: Halachos Pertaining to Covid-19

2020 will be remembered for a long time to come as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. These unusual circumstances have given rise to some unusual halachic questions. It is my fervent hope that everything will have returned to ‘normal’ by the time that you read this, and the lasting legacy will be the chiddushei Torah and piskei halachah that were generated as a result of this event. Below are some examples.

Q: If there are two adjacent houses with decks, with five men on one deck and another five men on the other deck, can they join together to form a minyan?

A: A gathering of ten men is needed in order for their davening to be considered tefilah b’tzibur. Once ten men have joined together to form a minyan, anyone else who is able to see them and participates is considered part of the minyan, and his davening is considered […]

Now You See It, Now You Don’t: A Kosher View of Refined Edible Oils

“שמן תורק שמך“ (Shir Hashirim Rabah 1:3) …”Your name is flowing like fine oil”. Shir Hashirim Rabah makes the following insightful observation.  Shlomo Hamelech compares Bnei Yisroel to fine oil. Just as fine oil is extracted from its source through crushing and squeezing, so do the innate qualities of Bnei Yisroel emerge as a result of our collective challenges and travails. Similarly, just as oil serves as a glowing source of radiance that fills a room with shining light, so does Bnei Yisroel serve as a light to other nations through their stellar performance of Torah and mitzvos.

Oil is an incredibly remarkable and versatile product of Hashem’s creations and is not limited to olives, the quintessential source of shemen. Oil is found in a plethora of sources, and the means of oil extraction are varied.  Moreover, there are remarkable halachic ramifications with various oil extractions.  Let’s explore the wondrous world of […]