Ask the Rabbi

STAR-K CERTIFICATIONrealizes that there is no substitute for a person's own Rav. However, in today's busy and connected world many people have difficulty getting in touch with their Rabbanim when they are needed. In an effort to offer a solution to this challenge, STAR-K launched its Institute of Halachah as a public service. Over the years, the agency's Kashrus Hotline has answered more and more halachic questions beyond the scope of Kashrus information, from consumers the world over, beyond the standard steady stream of inquiries regarding the kosher status of foods and certified Sabbath mode appliances which has made the STAR-K Kosher Hotline famous. The formation of a separate official division within STAR-K testifies to the need for addressing these issues.

The Institute of Halachah is directed by HaRav Mordechai Frankel, under the guidance of HaRav Moshe Heinemann, STAR-K's Rabbinic Administrator. It is an invaluable resource for a diverse array of rabbis to discuss general halachic matters, as well as gain access to source materials for shiurim and answers to congregants' questions.

Shailos may emailed using the form below, or called into the Institute of Halacha at 410-484-4110 x238. Rabbi Frankel or on occasion another STAR-K Rabbi will respond to your email or return your call if you leave a message and phone number.
Previously Asked Questions
Comments or questions regarding these answers can be emailed to [email protected] Only generic questions and answers are posted here. All sensitive questions and answers are kept strictly private.
  • Halacha Questions

  • We are extending and refurbishing our house. We will be moving out of the house during the whole period of refurbishment. We are looking to sign a contract with a non-Jewish builder, and all workers will also be non-Jewish. We will agree on a set price for the job. We will not be directly involved in the building and will not be hiring any workers directly. The council has imposed very strict deadlines which we have to meet. The builder has said that in order to meet these deadlines he has to work on Shabbat. In these circumstances, is this halachically permitted?
  • Halacha Questions

  • I would like clarification regarding not walking 4 amos in front or behind somebody davening shemoneh esrei in school and in shul. In the Artscroll women's siddur it says "You may not pass within 4 amos in front of a person reciting Shemoneh Esrei. Even when passing behind the person, you should pass at least 4 amos, approximately 8 feet, away. This [...] applies even if there is a barrier in front of the other person as long as she is able to see you from where she is standing". This concerned me because it seems that in my high school this halacha is widely unknown, as girls pass in front or behind within 8 feet of others who are davening shemoneh esrei in order to put their siddur away or leave the classroom. My halacha teacher (when asked) said that it's better to wait and get a late note than to pass too closely in front or behind someone saying shemoneh esrei. In a shul it is less of an issue because everyone starts shemoneh esrei at around the same time and it is usually not crowded. However, in our school everyone davens at their own pace. How is it possible to observe this halacha if 20 girls are all davening shemoneh esrei in one classroom, or if 400 students are davening in one auditorium? Also, must I avoid davening in a place where I assume people will pass too close in front or behind me because of lifnei iver?
  • Halacha Questions

  • Are ramen noodles (e.g. Tradition soup) allowed to be cooked on Shabbos? Are they already cooked, and can we apply the rule of ein bishul achar bishul? How about cooking them in a kli sheini or kli shlishi?
  • Halacha Questions

  • In cases where amira le’akum is permitted on Shabbos, would it be permitted to ask Alexa to do it? For example, could you ask Alexa to turn on an air conditioner on Shabbos, if the heat is making you feel sick?
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