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Jul
23
comment Aside from the days set aside for impurity, what exactly is a man allowed to do with his wife in regards to intimacy?
@Shokhet -- most Ashkenazim and some Sephardim say our tradition has been lost as to which ones. R' Ovadya Yosef zt"l said for mainstream sephardim, they don't "treif" up your dishes, but don't eat them.
Jul
23
comment Am I allowed to give my kid a non-Hebrew (non-Jewish?) name?
JD Bleich says "they didn't change their names" means I was born Zev, but now I go to City Hall and tell them to make it William instead. That's different than what I choose to name my children.
Jul
15
comment Bishul Akum: State Dinners
@CharlesKoppelman not sure I understand your point. If I walk into a vegan restaurant where a non-Jew has cooked lentils from scratch, then as far as I can see that would be a serious Bishul Akum issue. (We focus on the main ingredient, lentils; regardless of how/if they're seasoned.) Whereas my grocery store may carry OU pre-cooked, vacuum-sealed lentils; not a Bishul Akum issue. The rule was set as "whatever is good enough for a state function", and has some local subjectivity to it. (The Star-K talks about foods that would be good enough to stand alone in some countries, but not in others.)
Jul
9
comment What's the source for naming children after Alexander the Great?
Rav Moshe says it can't be that the Jews were forced to name their children Alexander, or else he would have forced them to have the statue. (As the Gemara says he respected the Jews.) It's certainly possible that he asked nicely about the statue, and they felt bad so they offered to name their kids instead. (Rav Moshe's point is that it's not all-out prohibited to give your kids non-Jewish names. "And don't tell me those who named their kids Alexander were absolutely forced to do so..."
Jun
24
comment Geirim and accepting Mitzvos
@msh210, yes; but for instance, Rabbi Rakeffet suggests that if someone converts Orthodox and belongs to an Orthodox synagogue where all the people there affiliate Orthodox, never drive on shabbos, but eat salmon at non-kosher-certified restaurants, then if that convert does it too, it's no challenge to the sincerity of the conversion -- s/he is looking around at the common practice, figuring that's fully keeping the mitzvos, and following it.
Jun
22
comment Kosher items to stock in a cafeteria
Yogurt. Make sure to find a brand with kosher certification (and not just a "plain K.")
Jun
20
comment Why people keep saying 12 tribes of Israel when there are 13?
@JimThio, yes. As for the "ten lost" -- around the year 500 BCE, there was Jewish reign over only two parcels of land: Benjamin and Judah. (They, plus scattered Levite cities, made up "the kingdom of Judah" -- but there was still a line that said "Tribe of Benjamin's land" here, "Tribe of Judah's land" there. [The line actually ran right through the Temple in Jerusalem!] You're right, Simeon just disappeared into Judah long before. I guess "the ten lost tribes" is more like "the ten tribes who no longer had parcels by the year 500."
Jun
17
comment Is the Christmas tree an Ashera?
@DoubleAA but if a building was built to house an idol, that building would be prohibited.
Jun
11
comment Please explain the meaning of the word “Be'emunah” in the last paragraph of “Yekum Purkan”
Or better yet -- "with integrity." It echoes II Kings 12:16, "for the craftsmen worked with integrity."
May
27
comment Must a woman cover her hair in bed when she is niddah?
@R.Mo Chazal felt it was important that a man see that his wife looks pleasant, regardless of the phase of month. Depending on the couple and the situation, he might be fine seeing her in a snood 24x7, but he may prefer to see her real hair when there are no visitors. That's a question for a local rabbi. Rav Moshe's quote was about a woman who wants to shave her head altogether.
May
25
comment Does a Jewish idolater's pouring of non-mevushal wine make that wine forbidden to himself?
JD Bleich had a piece about this in Tradition a few issues back. Need more later.
May
25
comment Source for Immersion after Biblical Niddah
possible duplicate of What is the punishment spelled out explicitly in the Torah for having relations with a post-menstrual woman who has not gone to the Mikvah?
May
23
comment Psalm of retaliation
T'motet rasha ra'a?
May
23
comment Why can't we use products in food that are a דבר מעמיד
@DavidFeigen if you extracted, say, a curdling enzyme from the fruit, yes that would be a davar hamaamid. The fruit is non-kosher, so what's extracted from it is too. (Preservatives, like a metabisulfate or the like, are unlikely to be "davar hamaamid" as your food looks identical one hour before and one hour after you add it. It just keeps it looking that way much longer!)
May
23
comment dead bodies in the house of God
@NoachmiFrankfurt "sanctuary" == the big, main prayer room in the synagogue. Yes, they'll have coffins there. I'm not aware of any rule against tumat met in our synagogues today.
May
23
comment About what was Beit Shammai more lenient than Beit Hillel?
The most notable case that comes up today: every rabbi will eventually get the headache-inducing question of the silly-headed fourteen-year-old boy who gave his crush a Hershey bar, pizza slice, etc. and said "you are married to me by this." Beit Hillel says it takes very little money (well under a dollar) to make a binding marriage, hence this is a serious problem. According to Beit Shammai it would require a much more sizeable sum, so this teenage couple doesn't have to worry about the need for a divorce. (Many of the other cases concern polygamy, ritual purity, agriculture, etc.)
May
23
comment What is a Get Zikui and in what cases has it been used?
@BruceJames -- we can do all sorts of things with money because of hefker beisdin hefker. (And it has Biblical support, "psach picha l'ilem.") The Torah says a marriage ends with a Get or death, and the Holocaust etc. discussion is simply at what point we can assume death. (And the rabbis have no magical power there -- if they allow her to remarry and then the first husband appears, it's called adultery.) I understand your public-policy concern for medical intervention, but the point remains -- a Get requires the husband to take a deliberate action. Zikui is passive.
May
23
comment What is a Get Zikui and in what cases has it been used?
@BruceJames good will is not enough. If someone says [for whatever the reason] "I want to give a Get and hereby do so", it's valid. If someone takes no action, we're not empowered to do so on his behalf.
May
19
comment Can a Sheitel be made out of one's own hair?
@Yishai they're likely the ones I heard about via a friend of a friend
May
19
comment Can a Sheitel be made out of one's own hair?
The debate is whether that's called "pe'ah nochrit" -- foreign hair. For those who say it has to be foreign to you, I heard a legend about two identical twins who traded hair for their sheitels! (Personally? Eww....)