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Wednesday
Jul262017

TURN AROUND

Selected Halachos from theOne Minute Halachaproject

By HaRav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Shlita,
Mara Dasra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights

STANDING WITH ONE’S BACK TO THE ARON HAKODESH

The halacha is that one may not turn their back to a Seifer Torah. According to many poskim, standing with one’s back to an aron ha’kodesh while it’s housing a Seifer Torah is inappropriate as well. This being the case, how come rabbanim (rabbis) are permitted to give drashos (sermons) facing the crowd, thereby standing with their backs to the aron ha’kodesh? In fact, at times, such as when reciting “Bo’i V’shalom” in the prayer of Lecha Dodi, all the congregants turn to face the opposite direction, standing briefly with their backs to the aron ha’kodesh

There are a number of suggested answers why it is permitted, provided that some (or all) of the following conditions are met: 

the aron ha’kodesh is built in a way that the Seifer Torah is placed ten t’fachim or higher above the ground;

it’s done b’derech ara’i (temporarily);

it’s done for k’vod hatzibbur (out of respect for the community); or

it’s done for the purpose of a mitzvah. 

Nevertheless, there were many rabbanim who did not stand with their backs to the aron ha’kodesh when giving their drashos. Although they would have been permitted to do so, since they were speaking words of Torah, they chose not to out of respect for the Seifer Torah, or because they were concerned that their intentions may not have been purely l’sheim Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven). Some suggest that Bar Mitzvah boys should not stand with their backs to the aron ha’kodesh while delivering their speech, since their motivation is not l’sheim Shamayim—to bring the crowd to teshuva. However, since speaking publicly inspires the Bar Mitzvah boy himself to advance in Torah and mitzvos, the custom has become to allow him to stand with his back to the aron ha’kodesh while speaking, like the rav

BEVERAGES FOR KIDDUSH: ORDER OF PREFERENCE

According to the Ramban, one may only use red wine for the mitzvah of Kiddush. According to many poskim, including the Rambam, one may not make Kiddush on yayin mevushal (wine that has been cooked), or wine that had a sweetening agent added to it. Some poskim say that flash-heated wine is also considered mevushal. The actual halacha is not in accordance with the above opinions; however, we do take their opinions into account. For practical purposes, this means that if we have two wines of equal quality, we should choose the red wine, the non-mevushal one, and the one with no sugar or sweetener added. However, if one wine is more meshubach (of superior quality) than the other, we should choose the wine that is of superior quality, even if it is mevushal. There are many opinions that maintain that the white wine we have these days is also considered red wine for the purpose of making Kiddush, provided that it is gold-colored and not very white. The order of preference for Kiddush on Friday evening is as follows: first—wine; second—grape juice; third—lechem mishneh (two complete challos or rolls of bread); and fourth—chamar medina (the local popular beverage halachically considered a substitute for wine). However, the order of preference for daytime Kiddush is as follows: first—wine; second—grape juice; third—chamar medina; and fourth—bread.

DAVENING IN A SHUL LOCATED FARTHER AWAY

The Magen Avraham tells us that since a person receives s’char psios, a reward for every step they take going to shul, one should choose to daven in a shul located farther from one’s home. There are some poskim who qualify this by saying that it only applies if the more distant shul has an advantage over the closer one; for example, if it is a holier shul, there are more mispalelim (congregants), or if the person has become accustomed to davening there.

Certainly, all poskim agree that if having to go farther would interfere with his getting to shul and davening with a minyan, or with his being one of the asara rishonim (first ten people to arrive), which is very praiseworthy, then he should go to the closer one. Certainly, if the shul near one’s home is dependent upon him to complete the minyan, he should daven there.

One application of the mitzvah of s’char psios in today’s day and age—when we often travel by car—is that one should go to shul on foot; but again, if that will get in the way of their fulfilling the mitzvah properly, or from going to shul altogether, then they should go by car.

WHICH LIQUIDS MAY BE USED FOR NETILAS YADAYIM?  

The only liquid that may be used to wash one’s hands for a meal is water; this is particularly so according to Kabbalah. Seltzer and carbonated unflavored drinks are regarded as regular water, and may be used l’chat’chilla (in the first instance). Beshaas hadchak (in a desperate situation), if there is no water available, other liquids may be used, but only if they are primarily water-based, such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks. However, there are those poskim who rule that the bracha of “al netilas yadayim” should not be said if washing with a liquid other than water. Liquids that are not water-based, such as wine, milk, or fruit juices should not be used under any circumstances.

RECITING T’HILLIM

Dovid HaMelech, who composed much of Seifer T’hillim (the Book of Psalms), asked Hashem that when Yidden (Jewish People) will recite T’hillim He should be consider it ke’ilu oskim bi’negoim ve’ahalos (as if they are occupied with the complex laws of leprosy and tents, i.e. purity and impurity). It is an ancient custom dating back to the period of Rav Hai Gaon for Jewish people to gather in shuls and recite T’hillim. Whenever an individual or community needs hatzalah (salvation), they open their T’hillim in supplication. There are various customs for reciting T’hillim regularly, and among them:

Reciting T’hillim before and/or after davening: Whereas there are advantages to saying T’hillim before davening l’taheir es ha’avir (to purify the spiritual atmosphere of the world), as well as to enhance the acceptance of one’s prayers on High, the common custom is to say T’hillim after davening. Those who say T’hillim before davening should be aware of the teaching in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that one should not exert themselves when reciting T’hillim before davening, lest they be exhausted and unable to daven Shacharis with proper concentration. The most widespread method of saying T’hillim after davening is to recite the chapters allocated to that specific day of the month, as indicated in many books of T’hillim.

Reciting T’hillim on Shabbos Mevarchim before davening.

Saying extra T’hillim during the month of Elul, most notably, three additional chapters daily from the first day of Elul until Yom Kippur.

 

“One Minute Halacha” is a succinct daily presentation on practical and contemporary Halacha in video, audio, and text formats, and can be accessed by phone at 718.989.9599, by email, halacha2go@gmail.com, or by WhatsApp 347.456.5665.

 

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