Banging for Haman-
I find going to the synagogue on Purim to hear the Megillah an unnerving experience to say the least. Why do the children have to set off explosives and make such a ruckus at various times during the reading?
Blessing on Bananas-
I was taught that the blessing before eating a fruit is “borei p’ri ha’aitz.” Yet the blessing for bananas is what we say on vegetables, “borei p’ri ha’adamah” When I asked around, no one seemed clear on the reason....More
Blessing on Ice Cream Cone-
I know the basic rules for the blessings on food, but I’m often stumped when dealing with mixtures. One of my kids wanted to know the blessing (bracha) on an ice cream cone. Does one make a blessing on the ice cream...More
Blessing on Medicines-
I am currently taking a liquid medication which has a flavoring but does not exactly taste good. Do I recite a blessing over it?
Blessings on Thunder and Lightning-
Yesterday evening a powerful thunderstorm came out of nowhere. I found myself jolted to attention and literally cowering – covering my ears at every blast of thunder. I was curious if the Sages have anything to...More
Carrying Keys on Shabbat-
I’d like to know if there is any way I can carry my house key to the synagogue and back on Shabbat. The typical trick of hiding it under the mat just doesn’t feel so secure to me (we actually don’t have a mat anyway!)....More
Carrying: Using a Cane on Shabbat-
Unfortunately, my legs have been giving me a lot of trouble lately and I am unable to walk unaided. Is there any way I can walk outdoors using a walker or a cane, or is that an issue of carrying on Shabbat?
Challah – Breaking Bread on Shabbat-
Whenever I attend a Shabbat meal, the process of making the blessing (bracha) on the challah and cutting it seems detailed. Can you give me the rundown of how it’s done?
Charity – Small versus Large Sums-
I find myself inundated with requests for charity, both at my door and in my mailbox. To me, this creates a dilemma. On the one hand, I feel I shouldn’t turn down worthy causes. On the other, if I spread out my limited...More
Completion of Kaddish-
My father passed away on June 14, which was 24 Sivan, but was not buried until the Sunday after, 27 Sivan. Until when should I recite the kaddish?
Covering the Stove (Blech)-
My brother observes Shabbat and he has a “blech” – a large flat plate used to cover the stovetop. All his hot Shabbat food is placed there, and sometimes returned there. Can you give me a quick rundown of why and how...More
Don’t Miss a Word-
I see many people in synagogue who bring their own Megillah scrolls for the reading. Is there any reason for that? I mean, shouldn’t they be quietly listening to the reader the entire time? Isn’t the reader’s scroll...More
Earliest Time for Morning Prayers (Shacharit)-
I’ve noticed that our synagogue has morning services (Shacharit) quite early during the workweek, after which most of the congregants hurry off to work. During the winter months it is still dark outside for most of the...More
Exemptions from Fasting-
I tend to get bad headaches when I fast. Am I obligated to fast on the Fast of Esther? Likewise, I have a friend who is pregnant. What is her status?More
Food with Writing-
We recently bought cookies with writing etched into them. That got me thinking that perhaps one shouldn’t eat them on Shabbat, since writing and erasing are forbidden. I’m especially concerned because we were going to...More
I am proud of the fact that at my advanced age I am learning to recite the blessings over food for the first time. However, probably also due to my age, I occasionally forget to say the blessing until I am already in...More
Hungry During Seder-
I try my best to run a traditional and meaningful Seder every year, often with much of my extended family in attendance. One big difficulty I have is that most of the people (including myself) are too hungry to really...More
My wife is going to be away for Shabbat in a few weeks. Am I supposed to light in her absence? Is there any difference between a wife and husband lighting?
Is Turkey Kosher?-
I have heard that there are some Jews who do not consider turkey kosher. Can you tell me the reason for this? As far as I know, turkey with kosher certification is widely available.
Kiddush Without Wine-
I am allergic to grapes. Is there an alternative way I can make Kiddush – perhaps on a different beverage?
Kiddush – Drinking the Wine-
I tend to get dizzy when I drink wine too quickly – though in general I tolerate wine very well. How much of the Kiddush cup do I need to drink? Is it sufficient to take just a few sips – or to drink it slowly...More
Kiddush – How Much Wine-
I own two very nice Kiddush cups – I believe both were wedding presents. One happens to be quite large and the other fairly small. Is there a minimum or maximum size a cup must be? Also, when I use the large one, I...More
Largest Jewish Funeral?-
I saw on the news that the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was attended by 850,000 people. What amazed me even more is that funeral was held just 4 hours after he died!
I was wondering – when was the last time that a...More
Milk and Meat on Same Table-
My high school no longer has a lunch program, so we all brown-bag our lunches. It occurred to me that though most of us eat pareve or dairy, some kids come in with meat sandwiches. At home we have separate tablecloths...More
I know that people exchange gifts and food baskets with each other on Purim. Are there specific requirements for this? Is this just a nice practice or does it have a basis in Jewish law?
Musical Toys on Shabbat-
My two-year-old often gets ahold of his favorite musical toy on Shabbat and starts banging away at the keys. It certainly disturbs the serenity of Shabbat. Am I obligated to take it away from him? Am I even allowed to...More
Not Talking After Washing for Bread-
I know that after washing for bread one should not speak until after he has taken a bite of the bread. My difficulty is that on Shabbat when we’re waiting for everyone to wash, my ADHD kids (yes, they inherited it from...More
Rolling and Wrapping a Mezuzah-
What are the rules for rolling a Mezuzah parchment? Can the scroll be wrapped in Saran Wrap or plastic before putting it into a case? I'm especially concerned about protecting a Mezuzah which hangs outdoors.More
Searching for Chametz (Leaven) Early-
We will be leaving our home several days before Passover in order to spend the holiday with my in-laws. When should I check my home for chametz? Also, is there any checking I should do when I am at my in-laws the night...More
Separation between Fish and Meat-
I was recently invited for Shabbat dinner. It was a wonderful, uplifting experience. One thing I was unfamiliar with is that everyone was told to take a drink between the fish and the chicken. I am familiar with...More
Springtime Blessing – Flowering Fruit Trees-
I was recently at the springtime Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. I was astounded by the beauty of it all. It made me think I should praise God in some way for the beauty He created in this world. Is there an...More
Staying up Shavuot Night-
I know that many people stay up the entire night of Shavuot, and my synagogue is arranging a schedule of classes throughout the night. To me it seems a bit crazy attempting to stay awake at so unproductive a time. Then...More
I often need to taste the food I’m preparing to see if it’s ready or seasoned properly. I’m usually not particularly hungry at the time, and I’m not eating to satisfy my hunger, just to see what the food tastes like....More
Tefillin on Top of Bandage-
I need to have a minor operation on my left arm next week. It will be bandaged for at least a week afterwards. This is the arm I place my Tefillin on. Am I allowed to place my Tefillin on top of the bandage?
My kids’ shoes are constantly getting untied or getting into knots. During the week I would just tie double knots (they actually wear sneakers with Velcro straps anyway during the week). Are there any issues with doing...More
Tzitzit Maintenance – Checking the Strings-
I was recently disappointed to notice that one of the strings on my tallit became torn. I subsequently found out that since it was only one string, my tallit was still kosher. However, it was unnerving to discover this...More
What to Use for Besamim (Spices)?-
Whenever I go to a religious home for havdalah, I notice that they use whole cloves for the blessing on the spices (besamim). Is there some special significance to this, or can any spice be used?
Why Sell Chametz (Leaven)?-
I hear a lot of talk about selling one’s chametz to a non-Jew before Passover. Is this a necessary procedure? Aren’t we supposed to be searching for and disposing of our chametz before Passover? And if we do a proper...More
“Who Did Not Make Me a Woman”-
I was born the oldest daughter of a mostly secular Jewish family and became observant in my early adulthood. I love everything about Judaism and my new life. However, to this day I am bothered by the blessing men...More