Friday, February 11, 2011

SHABBAT: Juice and snow

Today is the 7th day of Adar I, 5771

One of the 39 prohibited tasks of Shabbat is threshing, in Hebrew 'dash'. Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of cereal grain from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it. It is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing, which separates the loosened chaff from the grain.

As we've explained, every melakha includes also similar operations. But it is a little tricky to establish (or knowing) what is included and what not, within the principles of each melakha.

In the case of 'threshing', it includes all actions where 'food' is intentionally extracted from its natural inedible container.

A few examples:

Squeezing a fruit on Shabbat is forbidden. We can not make orange juice, either by hand, or by a juice squeezer. But lemon is considered an exception, because is only used as juice. So, it is permitted to squeeze lemons by hand for lemonade, salad dressing, etc.

It is forbidden to 'melt' snow on Shabbat when the intention is drinking the water. That will be an action similar to extracting juice from a fruit. However (if needed) it is permitted, to apply melting salt on snow or ice on Shabbat, because we don't need the water, we just need to get rid of the snow. (Yalkqut Yosef, Shabbat 3, 358).

It is also permitted to use ice on a drink, because the melting happens by itself, there is no 'extraction'.

Shabbat Shalom!!!

Candle ligting in NYC: 5:07

Shabbat ends in NYC: 6:16

Dear readers.

Halakha of the Day will be momentarily suspended. It will resume B'H in a few weeks.

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Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

KASHRUT: Meat and milk, the Minhaguim.

Today is the 5th day of Adar I, 5771

Besides the prohibition of eating together meat and dairy, our Rabbis indicated that it is necessary to wait between eating meat or a meat product and eating milk or a diary product.

The general Sephardic Minhag (tradition, custom) is to wait six hours between meat and dairy. This rule applies equally after eating red or white meat.

If necessary, one could be lenient with a child, especially an infant, and allow him or her to have milk or dairy one or two hours after eating meat (R. Obadia Yosef).

There are other Minhaguim (traditions) which indicate that the waiting period between meat and milk is 3 or 4 hours. This is mainly the Ashkenazi custom as well as the tradition of some families in our Mashadi community. The general rule in Minhaguim is that everyone should follow the custom of his parents and families, and also be respectful of other's Minhaguim.

On a similar note, the general Sephardic Minhag is not requiring a waiting period from dairy to meat. After eating dairy you 1. wash your hands, 2. wash your mouth or drink water or soda, and 3. eat a solid Parve food (such as bread or a fruit etc) before eating meat. Many families in our community, however, still hold the Minhag to wait three hours after eating dairy before eating meat, especially after eating hard cheese.

As we've already explained, everyone should keep and follow his or her own family Minhaguim.

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The 16th Berakha: 'Listen to our prayers'

Today is the 4th day of Adar I, 5771

Hear our voice, HaShem our God, our compassionate father have mercy and compassion on us, and accept our prayers with mercy and favor... and from before You, our King do not dismiss us empty handed.

This is the sixteenth and last berakha of the section called 'requests' (baqashot).

In practical terms, in this berakha we can (or according to many Rabbis, we 'should') add our own personal and particular requests, those petitions which were not specifically covered by the berakhot we just recited --for example, we can ask here from haShem to help us or our children to find their shiddukh, the right man or woman to marry--. Or we can ask God in more in detail for something which belongs to an area that we have already covered, for example refua shelema --good health-- for a loved one who is sick.

It is important to notice that in this berakha we are not 'pressuring God to fulfill our prayers', but we are begging Him to 'listen' to our prayers. We can not impose on God, no matter how good we are or how just our cause is, to comply with all our requests. There is no guarantee that we will receive all what we have asked for.

We ask God to 'listen'. Knowing that God Almighty 'listens' to our prayers means that when my wishes are not fulfilled is not because HaShem did not hear me, rather because His answer was 'no'.

It is part of our faith that haShem knows better than anybody else, including myself, what is ultimately better --or necessary-- for me.

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Monday, February 7, 2011

KADDISH: The basics

Today is the 3rd day of Adar I, 5771

Although the Kaddish is recited during the first eleven months following the death of one's parent or after the decease of other relatives, there is no reference, no one word even, about death in this prayer (with the exception of the Burial Kaddish, -a.k.a. dehu atid- which is said only at the time of burial and on Tisha beAv.).

The theme of Kaddish is, rather, the Greatness of God, Who conducts the entire universe, and especially each individual human being, with careful supervision.

In this prayer, we also pray for peace - from the only One Who can guarantee it - peace between nations, peace between individuals, and peace of mind.

Praising God, having Him in mind is paradoxically the only true comfort in the case of the loss of a loved one. That is, to be able to view the passing of the beloved individual from the perspective that that person's soul was gathered in, so to speak, by the One Who had provided it in the first place.

As Beruriah, the wise wife of Rabbi Meir, consoled her husband, upon the death of their two sons, with words to this effect, "A soul is comparable to an object which was given to us - to each individual, to his or her parents and loved ones, to guard and watch over for a limited time. When the time comes for the object to be returned to its rightful owner, should we not be willing to return it? With regard to our sons, let us therefore consider the matter as 'The Lord gave it, and the Lord took it back, may the Name of the Lord be Blessed for ever and ever!'


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(Thanks to Michael Gindi)

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024