Navigating the Challenges: Shemita 5782

For over
nineteen hundred years, the Jewish people have longed to return to Eretz Yisroel.
It is only in Eretz Yisroel that we can realize our full potential as a nation.
It is only in Eretz Yisroel that the Torah’s blueprint for life can be
completely fulfilled.

For the
millennia, the most important dimension of this longing was the yearning to
once again be able to fulfill the mitzvos hatluyos ba’aretz (agricultural
laws), the commandments that can be observed only in Eretz Yisroel. With Hashem’s
help, many of us in this past generation have realized part of this two
thousand year old dream. Yet, this realization has presented us with new
challenges.

Without a
doubt, one of the greatest mitzvah challenges of all times is the fulfillment
of the mitzvah of Shemita, the year of Sabbatical rest for the Land of
Israel. The Midrash perceives this multifaceted commandment as being so
challenging and difficult that he who meets the challenge of Shemita in
all its details […]

Kosher Consumer Misconsumptions

STAR-K’s
consumer Kosher Hotline is constantly abuzz with kashrus inquiries. Close to
5000 consumer calls were logged between Purim and Pesach 5781 alone. Questions
range from product information to complex kitchen shailos, from reliable
kosher airline caterers to wines whose kosher certification symbols are so
small you need a high-powered magnifying glass to read the rav hamachshir’s
name.

Even
with all the available information, consumers still get confused or make incorrect
assumptions that could lead to severe halachic consequences. The following
examples of kosher consumer misconceptions are based on real Kosher Hotline
inquiries. Hopefully, this article will help clarify some common errors.

Misconception 1: Putting an oven into Sabbath Mode allows
one to cook on Shabbos.

Chas v’shalom! The Sabbath Mode does not allow one to cook on Shabbos. The
Sabbath Mode makes a modern oven halachically compliant so that it may be used on
Shabbos and Yom Tov. The purpose of the Sabbath Mode was to address new
technological and computerized features that have created issues […]

Optical ‘Allusions’: Avoiding Maris Ayin

Making a Good Impression

The kohen tasked with removing funds from the treasury of
the Bais Hamikdash needed to go to great lengths to avoid any suspicion of
stealing: he could not wear hemmed clothing, or even tefillin, lest he hide a
coin in them. He was required to speak the entire time so that he could not hide
any coins in his mouth. When he exited the treasury, his hair was combed to
ensure that he did not squirrel away any money in his curls! The Mishnah
explains that these measures were necessary, as there is a Torah obligation to
avoid suspicion: “…v’hiyisem neki’im meHashem u’meYisroel, … and you
shall be innocent before Hashem and before Israel.”[1]

Activities that give an impression of transgressing Halacha must
be avoided, even if they are intrinsically permitted. This area of Halacha is
known as maris ayin and chashad, the appearance of transgressing
an issur.[2]
Interestingly, Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, writes that this only extends
to […]