Friday, January 22, 2010

Receiving Shabbat before it begins

7th of Shebat, 5770

Officially, Shabbat starts at sunset (Shekia). Sunset or sundown is when the sun disappears from the horizon. It wasn't easy to know when does sunset time precisely occurs: it changes virtually every day and from location to location, even within the same State. Besides, if it is a cloudy day it could only be estimated. Nowadays, BH, we can know the exact time of sunset checking in any newspaper or online or calling 5167962626 (My Zmanin).

Although Shabbat officially begins at sunset, we receiveShabbat earlier than sunset time. Why? Because we have a Mitzva to add time to Shabbat, before it starts and after it finishes. So we take a few minutes before sunset and “convert them” into Shabbat time and we do the same at the end of Shabbat, extending Shabbat a few minutes after we see the 3 stars.
How long before sunset we should receive Shabbat? The conventional custom is to receive Shabbat 18 minutes before sunset. In case of need, however, one can still light the candles or do anything up to five minutes before sunset. The Mitzva of adding time does not specify how much time to add, as long as we add “some” time before sunset.

In most calendars, nowadays, we are given already the time of candle lighting time, which is 18 minutes before sunset. Today, Friday February 22 , 7th of Shebat, for example, sunset is at 4:59 and Candle Lighting 4:41.

Shabbat shalom!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lending money and paying back (Part 2)

3rd of Shebat, 5770

It is forbidden for a borrower to spend the borrowed money recklessly (unnecessarily) in a way that the lender will not be able to recover the loan from him/her. This is true even if the lender is very wealthy; the Halakha does not permit to borrow without truly intending to repay.

When a person borrows money, the Halakha expects him/her to feel a very strong responsibility towards the lender, and to do everything to pay the lender back as soon as possible. After all, a loan is not a gift - the money still belongs to the lender. Just like the poor is not allowed to steal from the rich, so too is the rule regarding loans. Our Rabbis said “the money of your fellowman should be treated with the same care you would treat your own.”

ILLUSTRATION: Josh, having lost everything to the recession, asks David – whose wealth recently grew tenfold – for a loan. David lent Josh what he asked. Regardless of David’s wealth, Josh must act responsibly with this loan. He must care for David’s money as if it were his own, and repay him as soon as possible.