17

Rashi doesn't address it, but other commentators do. The Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Sforno, and Chezkoni all agree on this: Yaakov was "legally blind" to the point that he could not see any details, but was able to see that there was a person there. This is actually similar to personal experience. My mother is nearly like this: she can discern shapes, but no ...


12

The Ritva writes (Rosh Hashana 11a): ויומי ניסן לאו דוקא אלא כל מקום ומקום לפי מה שהוא דמלבלבי.‏ "The days of Nissan" is not precise, but rather every place according to when the trees bud. Based on this, Rabbis Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss (Minchat Yitzchak 10:16) and Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi OC 118) ruled that in the Southern Hemisphere the blessing ...


12

No, one may not pray in front of a mirror. The Radbaz in a responsum (4:107) gives both of the reasons you mention as explanations. From DailyHalacha.com The question surrounding the permissibility of praying facing such a window arises from a discussion of the Radbaz (Rabbi David Ben Zimra, Egypt, 1480-1574) regarding praying in front of a mirror. It is ...


11

Rav Zilberstein writes in Veha'arev Na (page 441), that sheimos written in Braille require placement in sheimos, as they are read by a wide audience of blind people. Challenge: May divrei Torah written in braille be thrown in the garbage, or do they require genizah like divrei Torah written in normal script? Solution: Since braille is a written ...


11

Simla Chadasha (the book on shechita) rules (11:1) that one should not shecht in the dark/at night, because he won't be able to look at the simanim, to check whether he did what he needed to do (רוב אחד בעוף רוב שנים בבהמה; most of one "siman" (windpipe/foodpipe) for a bird, most of two "simanim" for an animal). "Dark" is defined as "too dark to see what he'...


10

Jewish Action, Summer 2005 edition, has a "What's the truth about..." column by Rabbi Dr. Ari Z. Zivotofsky on not meeting for the week preceding the wedding. His main point is the lack of old sources for this custom, but he does cite several newer sources and the reasons they give. See there for the details, but the reasons and post-facto rationales offered ...


10

There are two opinions in the medrash cited in Aryeh's answer; R' Yehuda permits women gazing upon men. His opinion is accepted by Sh'muel in B'rachos 48b. Although R' Yochanan follows R' Yosi's interpretation of the pasuk there, the gemara does not record that he added the phrase אם כן עשית בנות ישראל כזונות. In fact, R' Yochanan himself allowed women to ...


10

Being blind myself, I can more specifically address Hebrew Braille and how siddurim work. As the first answer says, a person who knows English Grade 2 braille does not need to start from scratch, because there are many similarities. However, it is not transliteration; the Hebrew letters are represented character for character, with the vowels, when used, ...


9

The Talmud (Brachot 58b) says that upon seeing good creations or trees one says ברוך...שככה לו בעולמו. The Tur (OC 218) quotes an argument between the Raavad and Rosh if blessings like these should be recited only the first time one sees the object, or even if the object hasn't been seen in 30 days. He rules like the latter opinion (Rosh). The Tur in OC ...


8

In Maseches Sukkah 4b (copied below), Rava rejects Abaye's proposal for a platform without walls because there is a requirement that they be "ניכר". Therefore there may be a basis for transparent walls being invalid. היתה גבוהה מעשרים אמה ובנה בה עמוד שהוא גבוה עשרה טפחים ויש בו הכשר סוכה סבר אביי למימר גוד אסיק מחיצתא א"ל רבא בעינן מחיצות הניכרות ...


8

There is a concern that the congregation might come to think that the Brachos said before Torah reading are written in the Torah, but closing the Torah and then opening it would take extra time (see Megillah 31a). Therefore, the Rama (139:6) writes that it is best to turn one's head away from the Torah while making the Beracha. Once one is turning his head, ...


8

From here: I once heard a great story about Rav Solovetchick, from R’ Motty Berger of Aish. Isidor Rabi developed a theory in the 30’s that was a harbinger of the Big Bang theory. Arno Penzias was one of the scientists who discovered proof of it in the 60’s. Rabi was born frum but went off, and in his autobiography he tells a story in which he ...


7

Aish pathways says the blessing Oseh Ma’aseh Veraishit is said upon seeing spectacular mountains, deserts, lightning, earthquakes, hurricanes, astronomical phenomena, and impressive bodies of water. The Wikipedia entry for Aurora is titled “Aurora (astronomy)”. Thus the bracha Oseh Ma’aseh Veraishit seems right. But CYLOR. Edit: In the light of ...


7

This should fall into the same category as visiting a doctor of the opposite gender. Because just like the Shach Yoreh Deah 195:20 says that according to the Rambam, the only issur of negiah is when the negiah is with hana’a, or pleasure, but in medical care there is no pleasure involved so it would be muttar to treat a patient of the opposite gender. So too ...


6

I have no backing for this novel idea, but here goes: Modern science of the past century has taught us that light consists of photons. These are packets of energy that act like particles in many respects and have no mass (since they travel at the speed of light). Now, how can it be that the darkness was "thick"? When photons have no mass, how can there be ...


6

To answer your question directly, it is not actually a problem of Avoda Zara. There are sources (cf. HodofHod's answer) that discuss avoiding praying in front of a mirror lest it appear that one is bowing to himself, so the issue is one purely of Marat Ayin. Worrying about this issue seems normative, but I'd like to point out some exceptions based on a ...


6

Although they're marginal, there are authorities who discuss this. In Sefer HaChinuch, at the end of Mitzvah # 188 (קפח): ונוהגת בכל מקום ובכל זמן בזכרים ונקבות. שגם להן אסור להרהר אחר האנשים זולתי בבעליהן, שעליהם ראוי להן להמשיך כל חשקן וחפצן, וכן יעשו בנות ישראל הכשירות. ועובר עליה וקרב אל הערוה קירוב בשר כדי שיהנה ממנה, במזיד ובהתראה לוקה, ואם עבר על שאר ...


6

Note that the Minchas Chinuch says that literally placing a stumbling block before a blind person is not a (Biblical, at least) violation of this avera (according to what I've read in the "Torah Lodaas" weekly sheet by Rabbi Matis Blum; I didn't look up the Minchas Chinuch myself). However, the Meshech Chochma disagrees, holding that placing a stumbling ...


6

I've heard the previous UK Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, quote another scholar as saying: "Greek literature is televion; Bible is radio." Generally the Torah has much more emphasis on what's said/heard than what's seen. We have virtually no description of what any Biblical character looked like, unless it occasionally serves to drive the plot ("Joseph was very ...


6

At the end of Pathway to Prayer, R" Birnbaum has the following sources: Tanya Rabbosi, written in the 13th century, says to pray with a siddur. So does the Vilna Gaon in Even Shleyma ch. 9 note 2, and the Chofetz Chaim at the end of Shem Olam. R' Birnbaum asked R' Moshe Feinstein, and he said to daven with a siddur. Sefer HaYoshar Shaar (13th century) ...


6

I found the following teshuvah by R. Betzalel Stern, BeTzel HaChochmah 2:16: Regarding someone who travels by airplane from Australia to Israel, and on the way flies over mountains and deserts...In my humble opinion, it seems obvious that as long as he has a clear view, even though he only sees them from a plane flying miles above, he is ...


6

On a similar question about a woman's regular mikvah immersion, Daily Halacha reports several opinions (emphasis mine): Hacham Ovadia Yosef addresses this question in his work Taharat Habayit (vol. 3, p. 26), where he cites a responsum from the work Shebet Halevi (Rabbi Shemuel Wosner, contemporary). The Shebet Halevi distinguishes in this regard between ...


6

R. Joseph Messas wrote the following responsum on the similar issue of touching between a nurse and patients. Otzar Hamichtavim Vol. III # 1,833 תשובה דבר פשוט אצל כל הפוסקים שאין אסור נגיעה בעריות אלא דרך תאוה וחבה שמביאה לידי הרגל עבירה אבל נגיעה של עבודה ושירות של שעבוד לאחרים לא אסרה תורה ולא אסרו חכמים עיי' מזה באגרות משה חאבה"ע סי' י"ד שהאריך ...


6

The context of that Mishna is discussing who is fit to lead the congregation in prayers, and in particular that line is part of a dispute if a blind person can lead the prayer of Shema and its blessings. (Note "leading" here means reciting the entire section aloud for the congregation to hear and fulfill their obligations by reciting Amen at the end of each ...


5

The Mishnah Brurah (40:7) says that it's okay for one of the two coverings to be clear, but not both of them.


5

Rabbi Yoshia (Sukkah 7b) claims that walls must also provide shade and therefore may not be constructed from transparent material. But I think you can decorate the walls enough to guarantee enough shade for comfort or lay plastic sheets like tarp. Since I am a female, I am not a posek, but just suggesting my idea to help solve the problem of a sukkah with ...


5

The She'arim Metzuyanim BaHalachah 5:7 concludes that a picture of ervah counts as ervah.


5

Assuming the women are appropriately dressed, the only problem is staring for the purposes of enjoyment. (Here's an mp3 from Rabbi Willig citing several responsa of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein on the subject.) "Lehistakel", not "lir'ot." = "To gaze", not just "to see." One would hope that a G-d-fearing person applies appropriate judgment as to what's called ...


5

Igros Moshe 1:45 says it is permitted, as if not the fellow will be unable to ever come to Shul. However it is preferable to leave the dog at the door in order not to scare the congregants. I have personally seen a seeing eye dog in a Shul on more than one occasion.


5

R. Neuwirth in Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (16:24) writes that one should not wear ordinary sunglasses in a place where there is no Eruv because they are not considered clothing. However, if the sunglasses are never taken off even indoors (eg. for medical reasons) then they are considered clothing and can be worn even outdoors with no Eruv. In footnote 94 he ...


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