Torah Riddles and Records

by

Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons

chaimsimons@gmail.com

Shevat 5767 / January 2007

Copyright. Chaim Simons. 2007

PLEASE READ THIS FIRST!

In this book I have tried to do the near impossible! In other words this book is intended for people of diverse ages, of diverse interests and of diverse background knowledge.

Layout of Book
The book contains over 250 Riddles or Records in the field of Jewish Religious knowledge.
Each Riddle/Record is divided into four parts:
1) The Question (designated by the letter Q). The Questions are intentionally presented in a completely random order
2) The Answer (designated by the letter A). It is possible that there are other equally acceptable answers to some of the questions.
3) An explanation and background knowledge to the Questions and Answers.
4) References in the Rabbinical literature for this information. In some cases these References are very obvious (e.g. Siddur – Shacharit); nevertheless I included them to keep a uniform style throughout this book. As far as possible I tried to give reference works which are to be found in many Jewish homes (e.g. Mishnah Berurah). However, in some cases this was not possible and the user interested in looking them up, may have to go to a Torah library.

Let me now make some general comments:


* A serious problem is how to transliterate Hebrew words into English. Since this is not a research book, there is little point in using a scholarly transliteration scheme – this could make difficulties for some of the users. I have therefore not followed any recognized method, and this will thus lead to non-uniform transliterations throughout the book. However I trust that this will not cause problems for the users.
* Another problem is when to use capital letters. Here I have been arbitrary.
* I am sure that the background knowledge of the different users will vary considerably. Since for some there will be difficulty in understanding the Hebrew words and expressions used throughout the book, I have included a Glossary at the end of the book.
* The explanations given in this book cannot cover every Rabbinic opinion and eventuality and I am sure that some of the users will notice this fact.
* Since this book is in English, almost all the users will be Ashkenazim and, unless otherwise stated in a particular question, the answers are in accordance with Ashkenazi practice.

Suggestions on how to use this book


*In schools, Chederim, youth groups, and adult gatherings. The instructor could use it as an activity such as a quiz between two teams. I should stress that it is not necessary to use consecutive questions as they appear in this book. The instructor can pick out questions he feels are suitable for the level of knowledge of his group. In addition to asking the participants for the answers to the questions, it might in some circumstances, be appropriate to ask the participants to answer questions from the explanations I have appended.
By an individual: The user can cover up the answer, read the question and see if he can answer it, and possibly even explain his answer. If he is familiar with the use of (for example) the Mishnah Berurah, he can then go the source material.

In conclusion, I will be grateful to receive feedback from users and also any comments on and corrections to the material.

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Q. Where and when does one say “Ashrei” at midnight?

A. In many Shuls on the first night of Selichot.

Selichot are recited by the Ashkenazim from a number of days before Rosh Hashanah and on weekdays during the “aseret yemai teshuvah”. They are invariably said immediately before the Shacharit service. However on the first day of Selichot, which is always on Motzaei Shabbat, many congregations hold them at midnight. Maybe the reason is that contained in the Pizmon, are the phrases “who cry to you while it is still night” and “accept their entreaties when they tarry at night.” These Selichot begin with Ashrei.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 581:1 Rema; Selichot books)

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Q. Why when Dan increased the size, (its height as well as its area), of his Sukkah, he made it possul?

A. He increased its height to above 20 amot.

There is no limit to the maximum area of a Sukkah. In theory one could build one enormous Sukkah in which all the Jews in the world could sit in! However there is a maximum height, which is 20 amot (An ama is about half a metre.) A Sukkah above this height is possul.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 634:1, 633:1)

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Q. Why when Naftali put on his Tephillin at night he observed the Mitzvah?

A. Because he had to get up early for work and it was still dark.

When wearing Tephillin one must always be aware of their holiness. The Rabbis therefore made a decree that it is forbidden to sleep in Tephillin. One might then well ask what happens if one has to get up early to go to work before it is light in the morning. The answer is that in such a case, since there is no chance of a person falling asleep with his Tephillin on, he is permitted to put them on then. However according to most opinions he should not make a berachah over them. This question also arose in the Nazi concentration camps, where Tephillin had been smuggled in. The inmates began work when it was still dark and the Rabbis in the camp permitted them to lay Tephillin before it got light. There, there was certainly no chance of one falling asleep wearing them, since one would then certainly have been shot by the Nazis guards.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 30:2; Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 10)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Which of the “Tehilim for the Day” is most appropriate for Rosh Hashanah?

A. The one recited on Thursdays

It contains the verse “Tik’u bachodesh shofar…” (Blow the Shofar on the new moon…. for our day of Festival.) Rosh Hashanah occurs on the 1st and 2nd of the month, namely when there is a new moon, and the Shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah. Indeed, according to some opinions, one always recites this Tehilim on Rosh Hashanah irrespective of the day of the week on which it actually occurs.

(Tehilim 81:4; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski] any year, “Shacharit Rosh Hashanah”)

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Q. Why, when choosing his etrog for the Mitzvah, did Aaron pierce it with a needle and thread?

A. To check that it has not dried up inside.

An etrog which has dried up is possul. One can know whether it is dry inside by piercing it with a needle and thread. If there is moisture inside, the thread will become wet. [Unless one is an expert and knows how to pierce it, one should not do so, since one can easily make it possul, if one doesn’t pierce it in the right place!]

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 648:1)

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Q. What seems strange about the content of “al hanisim” said on Chanukah?

A. It does not mention the miracle of the oil.

The Gemara explains that the reason for the celebration of Chanukah is because of the miracle of the oil. One would therefore expect this to be the main theme of the “al hanisim” addition to the Amidah and Birchat Hamazon. However, it is not even briefly mentioned there.

(Shabbat 21b; Siddur -“Al Hanisim”)

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Q. Why did Yehoshua read Eichah on Tisha b’Av, sitting on the floor but wearing his Shabbat clothes?

A. Tisha b’Av occurred on Motzaei Shabbat and he had no time before Ma’ariv to change out of his Shabbat clothes.

Many Shuls will daven Ma’ariv when Tisha b’Av occurs on Motzaei Shabbat, immediately after Shabbat. The Halachah is that one removes one’s leather shoes after Borachu (the beginning of Ma’ariv). Obviously one cannot change into weekday clothes on Shabbat and so one has to sit on the floor with one’s Shabbat clothes!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 559:3; 553:2 Rema)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Where are there more berachot in the Ma’ariv service - in Israel or in the Diaspora?

A. In the Diaspora

After the berachah “Hashkivainu” recited soon after the Shema at Ma’ariv, there is an extra berachah “Baruch haShem leolam” Some Siddurim might state that this berachah is said only in the Diaspora. However, it was the custom of the Vilna Gaon not to say this berachah, even in the Diaspora. Many of the customs of the Vilna Gaon are followed in Israel by the Ashkenazim, since the followers of the Vilna Gaon were the first of the settlers to go to Israel in the early 19th century. Therefore this berachah is not recited in Israel.

(Siddur – weekday Ma’ariv service; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski] all years, ”Motzaei Rosh Hashanah”)

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Q. For which Parashah does one lein on Shabbat Minchah, Monday and Thursday up to Chamishi?

A. Parashat Vayelech.

The smallest number of verses from the Torah that may be read for a person called up to the Torah is three. On Shabbat Minchah, and Monday and Thursday mornings, three people are called up. However a total of 9 verses is not sufficient – one has to read a minimum of 10. In Parashat Vayelech, the division of the Parashah is such that for the first three people called up on Shabbat morning, only three verses are read for each of them. Therefore on Shabbat Minchah, Monday and Thursday, one must continue reading up to Chamishi when the third person is called up to the Torah.

(Chumash - Parashat Vayelech, Devarim chap 31; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 135:1; 137:1)

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Q. Why did Rivkah, who one Shabbat had gone for a walk outside the town, suddenly stop and then not move more than a few steps in any direction?

A. She suddenly realized that she had gone outside the Techum.

On Shabbat and Yom Tov, one may not walk more than about one kilometer beyond the last houses of the settlement. [The laws on this are very complicated.] Should however one find that one has done so, one would then be “trapped” there and could only walk no more than about two metres in any direction! [Therefore take care where you walk on Shabbat and Yom Tov!]

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 396:1 & Rema)

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Q. Why and when did Shaul bow 8 times during the Amidah?

A. He was the Shliach Tzibur during Mussaf on Yom Kippur.

During every Amidah, the congregation and also the Shliach Tzibur during his repetition bow 4 times - at the beginning at end of both the first berachot and the berachah “Modim” which occurs towards the end of the Amidah. The repetition of the Mussaf amidah on Yom Kippur includes “Aleinu” and the Avodah (describing the service of the Kohen Gadol in the Temple on Yom Kippur). During these two sections, the Shliach Tzibur and the congregation bow a total of 4 times right on to the floor. Thus the Shliach Tzibur bows a total of 8 times.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 113:1; 621:4 Rema; Machzor for Yom Kippur - Mussaf)

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Q. Where is the fast longer on Tisha b’Av - in Israel or in England?

A. In England

The fast begins at sunset and ends at “tzait hakochavim” (when it gets dark and one can see the stars) on the following day. The period between sunset and “tzait hakochavim” is known as twilight. The further north or south one travels from the equator, the longer is this period of twilight. Hence the length of the fast!

(tables in “Or Meir” by Rabbi Meir Posen, London 5733)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When on Rosh Hashanah occurring on a weekday may no-one blow the Shofar?

A. During the nighttime.

On Rosh Hashanah there is the Mitzvah of blowing the Shofar. This Mitzvah can only be observed during the daytime. Since one is only allowed to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah when actually performing the Mitzvah and not just to practice or for the fun of it, one may not blow it during the nighttime of Rosh Hashanah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 588:1, 596:1 Rema)

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Q. What did Leah have to say when she saw a monkey for the first time?

A. The berachah “M’shaneh haBriyot”

Amongst the various berachot which one recites are berachot of praise to G-d. One of them is “M’shaneh haBriyot” (who varies the forms of His creatures). The recital of this berachah includes seeing for the first time an elephant or a monkey.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 225:8; Mishnah Berurah 225:29)

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Q. When is Havdalah divided into two parts, with a separation of about 24 hours between the parts?

A. When Tisha b’Av occurs on a Sunday (or is postponed from Shabbat).

At the termination of every Shabbat one makes Havdalah over wine. However, if Tisha b’Av occurs after Shabbat, one will not be able to drink the wine. Since Havdalah after Shabbat can be made until Tuesday night, one makes the part of Havdalah - the berachah over the wine and “Hamavdil” on Sunday night after the end of Tisha b’Av. The part of Havdalah consisting of the berachah over the light can only be said on Motzaei Shabbat. This is therefore said on the night of Tisha b’Av. Thus Havdalah is divided into two parts with a separation of about 24 hours between the parts.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 299:6, 556 :1)

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Q. Why did Malachi say the Tehilim of Hallel on the 24th day of each month?

A. He would read the entire book of Tehilim over the course of each month.

It is always praiseworthy to recite Tehilim. Some read the entire book once each month. According to the accepted division, on day 24 of the month, Tehilim 113 - 118 (i.e. the Tehilim comprising the Hallel) are recited.

(Some books of Tehilim show this division.)

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Q. What is the longest Kaddish possible?

A. The Kaddish said at a siyum of a Masechet during the “aseret yemai teshuvah.”

When finishing learning a Masechet, one makes a Siyum (a finishing ceremony which includes a special prayer, a Kaddish and drinks and the serving of refreshments). This Kaddish includes a longish addition towards its beginning, the additional paragraph of Kaddish d’Rabbanon, and if it is during the “aseret yemai teshuvah” there is the addition of the word (u)l’eila.

(Hadran at end of any Masechet from the Talmud)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Why did Yonah send “Mishloach Manot” three days running?

A. He lived in a city in which there was a doubt whether it was walled at the time of Yehoshua bin Nun, and that year, Purim occurred on a Friday.

The date of Purim in an unwalled city is 14 Adar. Cities walled from the time of Yehoshua bin Nun celebrate Purim on 15 Adar. Cities where there is a doubt whether or not they were walled have 2 days Purim - 14 and 15 Adar. One of the Mitzvot of Purim is “Mishloach Manot.” This is performed in non-walled cities on the 14th, walled cities on 15th, and “doubtful cities” on both 14th and 15th. When 15 Adar occurs on Shabbat, walled cities spread the celebration of Purim over 3 days - Friday 14th,, Shabbat 15th and Sunday 16th Adar.. To keep all the various opinions, residents of such walled cities send “Mishloach Manot” both on Shabbat 15th and Sunday 16th. Thus one can see from all this, that residents of doubtful cities will, to keep all the opinions, send them on all 3 days.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 688:4, Mishnah Berurah 688:10; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 688:6; Mishnah Berurah 688:18)

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Q. Why nearly 2 weeks after the burial of a relative, family Levy who were present at the burial, were still sitting Shiva?

A. The burial took place at the beginning of Chol Hamoed.

From the time of the burial of a close relative, one sits Shiva for (almost) a week. However, if the burial takes place during Chol Hamoed Pesach or Sukkot, the Shiva only starts at the end of that Festival. If therefore a burial were to take place on the first day of Chol Hamoed, the Shiva would only start about a week later, and would hence end about two weeks after the burial.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 548:1)

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Q. When (according to some opinions) does one say “Migdol” in Birchat Hamazon, but does not say either “retzai” or “ya’aleh v’yavo”?

A. At the Melave Malka on Motzaei Shabbat.

Towards the end of Birchat Hamazon one says on weekdays “Magdil yeshuot …” and on Shabbat, Festivals, and Rosh Chodesh, “Migdol yeshuot…” On Shabbat there is an additional paragraph in Birchat Hamazon beginning with “retzai” and on Yom Tov and Rosh Chodesh, the addition of “ya’aleh v’yavo”. According to some opinions, at the Melave Malka, the meal held on Motzaei Shabbat, (when one is of course not adding either “retzai” or “ya’aleh v’yavo”) one says Migdol.

( Siddur – Birchat Hamazon; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 188:5; Ben Ish Chai, Year 2 Parashat Vayetzei, para. 27.

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Q. From where in the Tefillot can one learn the laws of Pesach?

A. From a Piyut which is recited during the repetition of the Shacharit Amidah on Shabbat Hagadol.

A number of piyutim have been written and are incorporated in the repetition of the Amidah on many special Sabbaths, including Shabbat Hagadol, the Shabbat before Pesach. Amongst those recited on that Shabbat, is one which has the laws of Pesach in a rhymed manner. In practice very few Shuls say these piyutim.

(some Siddurim - The Piyut for Shacharit of Shabbat Hagadol, “Elokei haruchot lechol basar…”)

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Q. When during Kriyat haTorah does the entire congregation call out part of the leining?

A. When reading “Vayechal” on Fast Days.

During Kriyat haTorah on Fast Days, there are three occasions when the Ba’al Koreh stops, the congregation call out together in a special tune the subsequent words and the Ba’al Koreh then repeats them when continuing with the Torah reading. The first is during the Aliyah for the Kohen; the second and third are during the third Aliyah.

(Shemot 32:12, 34:6-7, 9; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 565:1; Mishnah Berurah 565:3)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Why did Yoel say Ashrei (for the first time during that service) after saying the Amidah of Minchah?

A. He had arrived in Shul for Minchah and the congregation were already saying the Amidah.

The important thing about congregational prayer is for everybody to say the silent Amidah together. If one arrives a few minutes late for Minchah and the congregation is already saying the silent Amidah, by starting with Ashrei, one is likely to miss out on saying the Amidah with the congregation. One therefore first says the Amidah and afterwards Ashrei.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Be’er Heteiv 234:2)

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Q. On the board in a Shul appeared “Mashiv Haruach” and under it “Barech Aleinu”. Why did not “V’tain Tal Umatar” appear instead of “Barech Aleinu” on this board?

A It was a Sepharadi Shul and “Barech Aleinu” is said during the winter instead of “Barachenu”.

In the blessing “barech aleinu” in the Amidah, a request for rain is added during the winter months. Ashkenazim say “v’tain tal umatar livrachah” instead of just “v’tain berachah”. Sephardim however, in the summer say a shortish berachah beginning “barachenu” whilst in the winter say a much longer berachah beginning “barech aleinu.”

(Siddurim “Nusach Ashkenaz (or Sephard)” and “Nusach “Eidot Hamizrach (Sepharadi)” – weekday Amidah)

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Q. Why on some occasions was Yechezkel permitted to bite his nails on Shabbat?

A. That part of his nail was mostly hanging off.

One of the 39 of forbidden work on Shabbat is “gozez” (shearing). Included under this heading is detaching anything from a creature, whether living or dead. For example cutting or even biting one’s nails is forbidden. However if the majority of a certain portion of the nail is already detached, one may in an unusual way (such as with one’s hand or teeth) detach the remaining part.

(Mishnah Berurah 328:96)

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Q. On which Rosh Chodesh does one recite whole Hallel?

A. Tevet

Whole Hallel is recited on Chanukah, but only half Hallel on Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh Tevet always occurs during Chanukah. It hence follows that on this Rosh Chodesh, whole Hallel is recited.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 683:1)

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Q. When did Yankel Cohen have to especially search for the beginning of his leining when he was called up first to the Torah?

A. When it was Parashat Vayechi.

In a Sefer Torah there is a form of “paragraphing.” Sometimes, the writing stops in the middle of a line and the rest of the line is blank - this is known as a Parashah Petuchah (an open portion). In other cases, after a space in the middle of a line, there are more words. This is known as a Parashah Setuma (a closed portion). With one exception, every new weekly Parashah begins after a Parashah Petuchah or a Parashah Setuma. A Kohen who is always called up for this first portion, will therefore not have to search in the middle of a paragraph for the beginning of his reading. The exception is Parashat Vayechi (the last reading in the book of Bereshit) which follows the previous Parashah without a space.
[A Kohen will also have to search on a Fast Day where reading begins with Vayechal, which is in the middle of a paragraph.]

(Bereshit 47:28; Chumash which indicates paragraphing with the letters “pe” and “samech”)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When did Binyamin read half a verse from the Torah backwards?

A. Whilst he was saying Kiddush Levanah.

Towards the beginning of each month, one has the ceremony of Kiddush Levanah, blessing the Creator of the moon. During this ceremony one reads 3 times half the verse from the song of Moshe, “Tipol aleihem…” and then follows it by reading it 3 times backwards.

(Shemot 15:16; Siddur – Kiddush Levanah; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 426: 2 Rema)

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Q. When on Shabbat Minchah does one not say “Va’ani Tefilati” before taking out the Sefer Torah?

A. When Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat.

Every Shabbat Minchah immediately before the leining one says the verse from Tehilim “Va’ani Tefilati”. However when Yom Kippur occurs on Shabbat it is not said. The reason for saying it is that it is praise to the Jewish people, who even though they eat and drink on Shabbat they don’t neglect the Shabbat prayers. Since one fasts on Yom Kippur this reason is not relevant.

(Tehilim 69:14; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 622:1; Mishnah Berurah 622:2)

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Q. When during a particular period of the year was Tsephania careful not to write the date in a particular form?

A. It was nighttime during Sefirat haOmer and he had not yet counted that particular day?

There are some opinions which say that the performance of a Mitzvah does not require intent. To observe the Mitzvah of counting the Omer, all one has to do is say, for example, on the fifth night, “Today is the fifth day.” Therefore, if before one has counted, someone were to ask, “How many does one count tonight?” and one were to answer “today is the fifth day”, it is likely that by saying this, one has observed the counting for that night and it is then questionable whether one could then count that night with a berachah. There is an opinion, that by writing the date, one fulfils the Mitzvah of counting. Therefore one should not write the date in the form “Today is the fifth day of the Omer” until one has counted that night.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 489:4; Responsa by R’ Wolf Eiger (printed in Responsa of R’ Akiva Eiger, responsa no. 29))

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Q. What is not used on Shabbat and must always be black on the outside?

A. The straps of the Tephillin.

There are a number of things in the construction of a pair of Tephillin which are “Halachah leMoshe miSinai”. One of these is that the straps of the Tephillin must be black on the outside.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 33:3)

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Q. Why did Yocheved prefer to drink from a plastic cup rather than a glass one?

A. She was in a place where she did not know whether the kelim had been toiveled.

Kelim made from certain materials which have been manufactured or purchased from a non-Jew requires immersion (“toiveling”) in a Mikva before they may be used. These materials include metal, glass, glazed china, but NOT plastic. Thus by using a plastic vessel, there is no problem regarding toiveling.

(Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 120:1)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When do some ba’alei koreh use the “upper notes” whilst others the “lower notes”?

A. When reading the “aseret hadibrot” in Parashat Yitro and Parashat Vaetchanan.

All the books in the Tenach have musical notes on each of the words (not the same symbols as used in musical scores for an orchestra!). In many Chumashim, one sees two different sets of notes (known as the “upper notes” and the “lower notes”) on the same words for the “aseret hadibrot” (“Ten Commandments”) in both Parashat Yitro and Parashat Vaetchanan. The difference is that the “upper notes” divide each of the Commandments into a separate verse and the “lower notes” keep the natural division of the verses. Some congregations use the “upper notes” on Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah, and the “lower notes” on Shabbat Parashat Yitro and Shabbat Parashat Vaetchanan. Other congregations always use the “upper notes”.

(Mishnah Berurah 494:3 and Biur Halachah “Mibachodesh Hashlishi”)

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Q. What might happen if one pours the wine left in the Kiddush cup back into the wine bottle after Kiddush?

A. The wine could become “pagum.”

When one drinks from a cup of wine, what remains in the cup becomes “pagum” (“blemished”). If one pours this wine back into the bottle, the whole bottle becomes “blemished” and it is then better not to use it for Kiddush etc. One can remove this blemish by, before pouring it back in the bottle, pouring some wine from the bottle into the “blemished” cup. Following this, the wine can be poured from the cup back into the bottle with no problem.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 182:6; Mishnah Berurah 182:27)

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Q. In the mnemonic “at-bash” to remember the days of the various Festivals throughout the year, the letter “koof “ stands for Kriyah – Simchat Torah, as observed in the Diaspora. However, in Israel, Simchat Torah is on the previous day. Suggest an alternative occasion for “koof” which can also be used in Israel.

A. Purim KATAN. This occurs on the same day of the week as the 4th day of Pesach occurs that year.

What is the mnemonic “at-bash”? From the various days of the week when Pesach occurs, one can determine on what day of the week most of the other notable days in the year will occur. The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “aleph” and the last letter is “taff” - hence the phrase “at” in at-bash; “taff” stands for Tisha b’Av and this will occur on the same day of the week as the first day of Pesach. The second letter is “bet” and the second from last letter is “shin” (hence the phrase “bash’) “Shin” stands for Shavuot and this will occur on the same day as the week as the second day of Pesach, and so on... However to apply this mnemonic in Israel, there is a problem with the fourth day, since in Israel, Simchat Torah occurs one day earlier than in the Diaspora. This can be solved, in leap years by utilising Purim Katan. “Katan” begins with a “koof”, the fourth from last letter of the alphabet. [Purim Katan only occurs in a leap year and is on 14 Adar I.]

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 428:3; Mishnah Berurah 428:5)

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Q. Where in the Yom Kippur service can one learn to count up to at least seven?

A. In the Avodah - achat, achat veachat, achat ushtayim …

During the Mussaf service for Yom Kippur, one reads the order of the service for the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. In it he counts “one, one and one, one and two….”

(Machzor for Yom Kippur - Mussaf)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When and why did Miryam use a brush made from pig’s hair?

A. On Shabbat, because (according to some opinions) one can then brush one’s hair with it.

One of the forbidden labours of Shabbat is “gozez” (shearing) and this includes detaching anything from a living creature. Pulling out one’s hair comes under this category. If one uses a comb or a hard brush, one is sure to detach hairs. However a brush made from pig’s hair is very soft and thus won’t pull out any hairs.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 303:27, Be’er Heteiv 303: 13)

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Q. Why did the waiter at the wedding dinner remove only the knives from the table, yet leave all the other dirty cutlery and plates?

A. It was time for Birchat Hamazon

It is customary to cover or remove the knives from the table before Birchat Hamazon. One of the reasons is that the table is like an altar and the stones on the altar may not be cut with metal since weapons for war are made of metal.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 180:5; Mishnah Berurah 180:11)

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Q. Since it was not Tisha b’Av, why did Yosef put on Tephillin in the afternoon?

A. The Tephillin only became available in the afternoon.

Although it is normal to put on Tephillin first thing in the morning for Shacharit, if for some reason one is prevented from doing so, they can and should be put on when one is able to do so. (It is only on Tisha b’Av that one specifically waits until Minchah to put on Tephillin.)

(Mishnah Berurah 30:1; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 555:1

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Q. When on Rosh Chodesh does one omit reading the korbanot for Rosh Chodesh?

A. When it is Rosh Chodesh Tishri

On Rosh Chodesh, the korbanot are recited at the beginning of the service following the daily sacrifices; at Kriyat haTorah; and in the Mussaf Amidah. Rosh Chodesh Tishri is also Rosh Hashanah and the korbanot for Rosh Chodesh are not directly mentioned in the davening. However contained in the Rosh Hashanah korbanot is the phrase, “Milvad olat hachodesh” (apart from the Rosh Chodesh sacrifice).

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 591:2 Rema; Mishnah Berurah 591:3)

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Q. When does one say “Clear the table,” without having yet eaten the meal?

A. On the Seder night before Mah Nishtanah.

The Torah phrases the commandment for the Seder night “And you shall relate it to your son”. Unusual things are thus done, such as dipping a vegetable in salt water, and giving the children nuts, in order to encourage them to ask questions about the Seder. Another one of these unusual things is before the “Mah Nishtanah” to call out “Clear the table”. The natural reaction of a child is to say “but we haven’t eaten yet!” One hopes by this that the children will then continue asking questions about the Seder.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 473:6, 472:16)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Why was Chaimke’s birthday cake not iced with words such as “Happy Birthday”?

A. It was going to be cut on Shabbat.

One of the forbidden labours of Shabbat is “mochaik” (erasing). Included in this labour is cutting through letters. When a cake is iced with words, one must be particularly careful on Shabbat when cutting the cake not to cut through any letters.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 340:3 Rema)

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Q. How many times is Moshe Rabbeinu’s name mentioned in the Pesach Hagadah?

A. Only once

One would have thought that since Moshe is the central character in the Exodus from Egypt, the Hagadah would be full of his name. But this is not so! It occurs only once and even that is only incidentally in a quote.

(Hagadah - the paragraph beginning “Rabbe Yossi Haglili …” (immediately after the ten plagues))

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Q. Which weekly meal is good for a certain limb in one’s body?

A. The Melave Malka.

By tradition, there is a limb in one’s body known as the “niscoi” or “luz” and it gets its sustenance from the food eaten at a Melave Malka, the meal eaten after the termination of Shabbat. This is the limb which will not rot in the grave after one’s death and will remain until “techiyat hameitim.”

(Mishnah Berurah 300:2)

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Q. What is the maximum number of Chanukah candles (not counting the Shamash) that are lit throughout Chanukah in the Shul in the MORNING?

A. 34

It is customary to light Chanukah candles in the Shul just before Shacharit throughout Chanukah, the number being the same number that was lit on the previous evening. Needless to say, they are not lit on Shabbat morning and the smallest number not to be lit on Shabbat morning is when the 2nd day of Chanukah falls on Shabbat. Since 36 candles are lit throughout the nights of Chanukah, the maximum number lit in the mornings will be 34.

(Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski], all years, “1st day Chanukah”)

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Q. When (in Israel) do some people recite “Shir Hashirim” three times on the same day?

A. When the 1st day of Pesach occurs on Shabbat.

It is customary to read Shir Hashirim at the commencement of Shabbat. Some read this book at the end of the Pesach Seder. On Shabbat Chol Hamoed Pesach, this book is read in the morning service before Kriyat haTorah. When there is no Shabbat Chol Hamoed and the 1st day occurs on Shabbat, it is read on that Shabbat in Israel. (In such a case, in the Diaspora, it is read on the 8th day.) It is thus read 3 times on that Shabbat.

(Luach D’var B’ito 5758 [“Achiezer” Bnei Brak] p.696)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. What is the shortest leining read during the year?

A. The leining for Purim.

The smallest number of people called up when one reads from the Torah is 3. Although for each person one must read at least 3 verses, the smallest total number of verses that may be read are 10. There is one exception to this rule which is Purim when just 9 verses are read. The reason is that the subject being read is the war with Amalek (Haman’s ancestor) and this is contained in just 9 verses.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 693:4 & Rema; Mishnah Berurah 693:10; Shemot 17:8-16)

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Q. For what food does one say the berachah “Borei minei mezonot”, but the after berachah is “Borei nefashot”?

A. Cooked rice

Although rice is not one of the “five species of grain” (wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye), the Rabbis attached a special importance to it, since it satisfies one’s hunger. They therefore ruled that before eating cooked rice, one would say the same berachah over it as for dishes prepared from the five species of grain, namely “Borei minei mezonot.” However since it is not one of these five species, the after berachah is just “Borei nefashot.”

. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 208:7; Mishnah Berurah 208:28, 29)

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Q. In which Shul (which has daily services) is Tachanun rarely said?

A. In a Shul where a Mohel attends every day and performs a Brit Milah almost every day.

One of the occasions when Tachanun is omitted is when a Ba’al Brit is present. A Ba’al Brit is the father, the Mohel or the Sandak. Thus a Mohel who is well occupied will enable his Shul to omit Tachanun almost every day!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:4; Mishnah Berurah 131:22)

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Q. Why of all the worshippers in the Shul did just Elimelech grow a beard?

A. He was appointed as the permanent Shliach Tzibur.

The Gemara tells us that out of respect for the congregation, a permanent Shliach Tzibur should have a beard. In particular, the Shliach Tzibur on Fast days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur should have a beard.

( Chullin 24b; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 53:6; Mishnah Berurah 53:24)

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Q. Why did Tomar who was caught selling hadassim with the sign “Hadassim grown in the North of England” end up in Court?

A. Hadassim don’t grow there. The climate is not suitable.

Different plants grow in different parts of the world, depending on the climatic conditions, etc. Hadassim need a warm climate and there is not such a climate in the North of England.

(an appropriate book on botany!)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. What is the minimum number of leaves one can have on one’s aravot (used for the Mitzvah of the “aravah”) on Hoshana Rabba?

A. One twig with one leaf.

On Hoshana Rabba, in addition to taking the Arba’at Haminim, one also takes the aravot, shakes them and then beats them. The ideal number of twigs to take is 3, 5 or 7 (depending on one’s custom). However one could take just one twig with one leaf, although this is frowned upon.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 664:4 & Rema; Mishnah Berurah 664:16)

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Q. Which Shabbat do the birds look forward to?

A. Shabbat Parashat Beshalach.

On Shabbat Parashat Beshalach, the portion concerning the manna is read. There was a command not to go out to gather the manna on Shabbat since it would not fall that day. The trouble makers, Datan and Aviram, who wanted to “prove” that this was not so, would get up early on Shabbat morning and sprinkle on the ground manna they had collected on Friday. But their plot did not work. The birds came and ate it up. As a reward, it is customary to feed them on Shabbat Parashat Beshalach each year. [Because there are some problems in the laws of Shabbat on the feeding of these birds, there are various permissible ways to do it.]

(Aruch Hashulchan Orach Chaim 324:3)

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Q. When and on which day of the year does one read (the letter) “pe” before (the letter) “ayin”?

A. In three of the chapters of Eichah on Tisha b’Av.

The first four chapters of the Book of Eichah consist of 22 (or 66) verses written in alphabetical order. However in chapters 2, 3 and 4 the verses beginning with the letter “pe” comes before the verses beginning with the letter “ayin.” The Gemara explains this reversal of the letters as follows. The spies who returned from spying out Eretz Yisrael spoke evil about it - they said what they had not seen. Their mouth [pe] came before their eyes [ayin].

(Eichah 2:16-17, 3:46-51, 4:16-17; Sanhedrin 104b)

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Q. Why did Tirzah light a Yahrzeit candle specifically in the dining room?

A She lit it on Yom Tov

On Yom Tov, one may light a candle from an existing light, provided one intends making use of the light, e.g. for reading, to light up the room, etc. A Yahrzeit candle is not usually lit for making use of, and so if one wants to light it on Yom Tov, one must do so in a place where one will use it, for example in the dining room.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 502:1; Mishnah Berurah 502:1; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 13:6)

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Q. In Israel there are 5 berachot which are said only once a year and in the same month. Which is the month and what are the berachot?

A. The month is Nissan and the berachot are:
1. al biur Chametz
2. birchat hageulah (before 2nd cup of wine at the Seder)
3. al achilat Matzah
4. al achilat Maror
5. birchat hailanot

The first of these berachot is made before one searches for chametz on the night before Pesach.
The next 3 berachot are recited at the Seder: namely the berachah recited before the berachah over the second cup of wine, before eating the matzah, and before eating the maror. (In the Diaspora where one has two Seders, these 3 berachot are recited twice in the year.)
The last of these berachot is one said specifically in the month of Nissan when one sees fruit trees beginning to blossom.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 432:1, 473:7, 475:1, 226:1)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. An entire congregation was seen reciting Tachanun resting their foreheads on their arms but there was no Sefer Torah in the room. In which city was the congregation?

A Jerusalem.

When one recites Tachanun and there is a Sefer Torah in the room, one says this prayer reclining one’s forehead on one’s arm. However, in Jerusalem, even if there is no Sefer Torah present, one does this reclining.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:1; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski], all years, “Tzom Gedaliah”)

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Q. On which two Festivals does one get the punishment of “karet” for eating chametz?

A. Pesach and Yom Kippur.

The punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet - a severe Heavenly punishment. The punishment for eating anything on Yom Kippur is karet - and this of course includes chametz!

(Rambam Hilchot Chametz uMatzah 1:1; Rambam Hilchot Shvitat Asor 1:4)

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Q. Where in the davening did Binyamin mention Shabbat every day of the week?

A. In the introduction to the Shir shel Yom (e.g. hayom yom sheini b’SHABBAT …)

Every morning towards the end of Shacharit, one says one of the Tehilim. These were the Tehilim which was said by the Levi’im in the Temple service. It is introduced by the words, (for example), “Today is the second day of the week b’SHABBAT. This is in fact the proper title for the days of the week. According to the Ramban, one has to remember the Shabbat every day of the week.

(Siddur - end of weekday Shacharit service; Ramban, commentary on Shemot 20:8)

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Q. Which double Parashah is shorter than almost all the single Parashiot?

A. Nitzavim-Vayelech.

The last 4 Parashiot in the Torah are the shortest ones in the Torah. When Rosh Hashanah occurs on a Thursday or Shabbat, Nitzavim and Vayelech are joined together. Nitzavim is of length 40 verses and Vayelech is 30 verses. Together they are just 70 verses which is much shorter than the length of most of the Parashiot, whose lengths are generally over 100 verses.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 428:4; Devarim 29:9 – 30:20 (Nitzavim); Devarim 31:1 – 31:30 (Vayelech))

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Q. “Mayim Shelanu” translates as “our water” – or does it have another meaning?

A. It means water which has been allowed to stand all night for the purpose of baking Matzot for Pesach.

Great precautions have to be taken when baking the Matzot for Pesach to ensure they don’t become chametz. Any rise in temperature will cause the dough to become chametz quicker. Therefore one requires the water used to be as cool as possible. To do this the water is drawn just before night and allowed to stand all night. The cool spring night air, compared with the hotter daytime air, will cool down the water. Only such water may be used for baking Matzot for Pesach. In Hebrew the expression “mayim shelanu” also means water which has been allowed to stand all night.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 455:1)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Apart from living creatures (e.g. chicken, fish) or money, what can one use for Kapparot on erev Yom Kippur?

A. A plant

On the morning of erev Yom Kippur, it is customary to do the Kapparot ceremony. It is symbolic of transferring one’s sins on to some living creature or an object.[It should be stressed that this is only symbolic. The only way to be free of sin is by repentance.] Some people use a chicken, some a fish and others money. One authority quotes the possibility of using a plant.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 605:1; Matei Ephraim 604-605:4)

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Q. When did Malachi make a point of not sleeping during the Rav’s derashah or shiur in the Shul?

A. During Sukkot.

On Sukkot, one is obligated to sleep in the Sukkah. One is even forbidden to take a short nap outside the Sukkah. Therefore one must keep awake whilst the Rabbi is giving his derashah or shiur outside the Sukkah. (It is impolite at any time to fall asleep when the Rabbi is talking!)

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 639:2)

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Q. When is the longest interval of time between 2 successive readings of whole Hallel?

A. In a non-leap year: from Shavuot to Sukkot.
In a leap year: from Chanukah to Pesach.

Whole Hallel is recited on the first day(s) Yom Tov of Pesach – 15 (and 16 in Diaspora) Nissan; Shavuot – 6 (and 7 in Diaspora) Sivan; Sukkot – 15–22 (and 23 in Diaspora) Tishri; Chanukah – 25 Kislev and following 7 days. In a leap year there is an additional Adar consisting of 30 days. From this one can see that the interval from Shavuot to Sukkot is 4 months and 9 days, and in a leap year the interval from the end of Chanukah to Pesach is 4 months and 12 or 13 days.

(Arachin10a-b; any Luach of the Jewish year)

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Q. In which prayer does one give the answer to a question and only afterwards ask the question?

A. Ein kElokenu

Ein kElokenu is said or sung towards the end of the morning service on Shabbat and Yom Tov (and by some also on weekdays).The first verse begins “Ein kElokenu” (there is none like our G-d). The second verse begins “Mi kElokenu” (who is like our G-d?). Logically these two verses should be reversed. The reason is that one must accept absolutely unconditionally the uniqueness of G-d. Only after such an acceptance can one ask who is like our G-d.

(Siddur – end of Shabbat Mussaf)

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Q. On which 3 occasions does the leining at Shabbat Minchah not come from the following Shabbat’s Parashah?

. A. 1.The following Shabbat is Yom Tov or Chol Hamoed
2.Yom Kippur occurs on Shabbat
3.The following Shabbat is Parashat Bereshit

On Shabbat Minchah, one normally reads from the Torah the beginning of the following week’s Parashah. However there a few exceptions:
1) When Yom Tov or Chol Hamoed occurs on Shabbat, one does not read the regular Parashah, but a special appropriate reading. On the previous Shabbat Minchah, one doesn’t read the beginning of this special reading but the beginning of the Parashah of the Shabbat after the Festival.
2) There is a special reading for the afternoon of Yom Kippur, irrespective of whether it occurs on Shabbat or on a weekday.
3) The last Parashah in the Torah (Vezot Haberachah) is read on Simchat Torah - in Israel usually on a weekday and in the Diaspora always. If for example Simchat Torah occurs on a Tuesday, then on the following Shabbat, Bereshit is read. However on the previous Shabbat, one reads at Minchah the next Parashah, namely Vezot Haberachah and not Bereshit.

(Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski])

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When did Akiva recite the entire Aleinu prayer not at the end of the service?

A. During the Mussaf Amidah on Rosh Hashanah.

The entire Aleinu prayer is said in the middle of the 4th Berachah of the Mussaf Amidah on Rosh Hashanah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 591:7 Rema; Rosh Hashanah Machzor - Mussaf Amidah)

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Q. What is the minimum time that can elapse between 2 different Festivals?

A. Zero.

Immediately following Sukkot is Shemini Atzeret which is a new Festival. For example the berachah “Shehecheyanu” which is said on a new Festival is recited on Shemini Atzeret. Therefore there is zero time from the end of the 7th day of Sukkot to the beginning of Shemini Atzeret.
(NOTE: Unlike Shemini Atzeret, the 7th day of Pesach is a continuation of the Festival of Pesach.)

(any Jewish calendar!)

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Q. Is it better to eat exclusively meat foods OR exclusively milk foods on Shavuot?

A. Exclusively meat foods.

It is a custom to eat milk foods on Shavuot. However, in common with the other Festivals, there is a Torah command to rejoice on the Festival and “there is no rejoicing other than by eating meat and wine.” To observe all the foregoing, it is the norm to have one meaty and one milky meal on Shavuot. If one has to choose between the two, surely a Torah commandment would come before a custom!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 494:3 Rema; Mishnah Berurah 529:11)

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Q. When does everybody have to daven early on Shabbat morning?

A. When erev Pesach occurs on Shabbat.

On Shabbat one is obliged to eat three meals. According to all opinions, at the second meal one must eat bread. On erev Pesach one may only eat chametz until the end of the first third of the day (about nine o’clock in the morning.). Matzah may not be eaten that day. Therefore one has to daven early in order to finish the service, go home, make kiddush and finish at least a small meal by nine o’clock.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 274:4, 444:1; Mishnah Berurah 444:4, 5)

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Q. Why is it a good idea to check one’s Mezuzot every Adar Rishon?

A. A Mezuzah should be checked twice in 7 years and this is about the frequency of Adar Rishon.

Mezuzot of a private house should be checked twice in 7 years. The month of Adar Rishon occurs in every Jewish leap year and there are at least 2 Adar Rishons during every 7 years. There are no Festivals in this month, which leaves one ample time to deal with the checking of Mezuzot and thus fulfilling the requirement of their checking,

(Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 291:1; end of section 4 of Mishnah Berurah, very short account of calendar principles)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When might some say “Vayanuchu VOM” in an Amidah on Shabbat, other than at Minchah?

A. At Ne’ila when Yom Kippur occurs on Shabbat.

Many congregations in the Shabbat prayers say Vayanuchu VAH in the Ma’ariv Amidah, Vayanuchu VO in the Shacharit and Mussaf Amidot, and Vayanuchu VOM in the Minchah Amidah. Logically when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, at Ne’ilah one should say Vayanuchu VOM and some suggest this distinction.

(Mishnah Berurah 268:1; Siddur – Shabbat services; Shulchan Aruch Harav 3-4 additions 141(1447))

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Q. Why did Ruchama not say “al hanisim” in Birchat Hamazon after the Seudat Purim?

A. It was in Jerusalem when (Shushan) Purim occurred on Shabbat.

In such a case, the celebration of Purim is spread over 3 days with the Purim Seudah being held on the Sunday which is after Purim. Therefore “al hanisim” is not said in Birchat Hamazon after the Seudah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 688:6; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski] 5765, “Purim Meshulash”)

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Q. What is sometimes classed as a plant and sometimes not?

A. Mushrooms.

When one eats mushrooms, one says the berachah “shehakol” and not “adamah” because they don’t feed from the ground but from the air. However on Shabbat, if one were to detach them, one would be guilty of “ketzirah” (reaping ) like for any other plant or tree which grows from the ground.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 204:1; Chaye Adam Hilchot Shabbat 12:1)

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Q. Why had Aaron who had been born on 7th day of Chanukah not yet reached the age of Barmitzvah 13 years later on the 7th day of Chanukah?

A. He was born on 2 Tevet in a year when there were 29 days in Kislev, and 13 years later, there were 30 days in Kislev.

The month of Kislev can have either 29 or 30 days. When it has 29 days, the 7th day of Chanukah will be 2 Tevet. When it has 30 days it will be 1 Tevet. It is the date of birth and not the day in Chanukah which determines when a boy is to be Barmitzvah. In this case, the boy must wait until 2 Tevet for his Barmitzvah which will be the 8th day of Chanukah.

(c.f. Mishnah Berurah 55:42)

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Q. When is “Baruch Ata HaShem,” not part of a berachah?

A. When one is saying the verse in Tehilim, “Baruch ata HaShem lamdaini chukecha”.

One may always recite Tehilim including saying the Divine Name which often occurs in their verses. “Baruch ata HaShem lamdaini chukecha” is a complete verse in Tehilim 119.
(If one says “Baruch ata HaShem” with the intention of saying a berachah and one suddenly realises that one should not be saying that berachah, one should finish off by saying “lamdaini chukecha.”)

(Tehilim 119:12; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 206:6)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When leining which Parashah (excluding Sefer Bereshit and Parashat T’zaveh) did Shmuel not mention Moshe Rabbeinu’s name?

A. Parashat Nitzavim.

The reason people usually quote just T’zaveh, (but not Nitzavim), as a Parashah when Moshe’s name is not mentioned, is that Moshe is talking to the Jewish people in Nitzavim and he is thus not “out the picture” as in T’zaveh.

(Devarim chap. 29:9 – 30:20)

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Q. Why was it permitted to strain the water on Shabbat in a certain city, yet in the adjoining city it was forbidden?

A. In the first city, the water was drinkable without straining. In the second city it wasn’t.

One of the forbidden labours of Shabbat is “meraked” (straining). Liquids which are fit to be drunk without straining may be strained on Shabbat. Those which are not, may not.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 319:10)

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Q. When one says Tachanun at Minchah one reclines one’s forehead on one’s left arm. At Shacharit because one is wearing Tephillin on the left arm, one reclines on the right arm. On Tisha b’Av one puts on Tephillin at Minchah but not Shacharit. Therefore on which arm does one recline one’s forehead when one says Tachanun at Shacharit and Minchah on Tisha b’Av?

A. On Tisha b’Av one does not say Tachanun!

On the surface it may seem strange that Tachanun is omitted on Tisha b’Av. On all other fast days it is said. The reason is that Tisha b’Av is referred to (in the book of Eichah) as a Festival in the hope that in the near future it will indeed become one.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:1 Rema, 559:4; Eichah 1:15)

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Q. What is the connection between “shaatnez” and “15 tagin”?

A. On each of the 5 letters of the word “shaatnez” (shin, ayin, tet, nun, zayin) are 3 “tagin” i.e. a total of 15 “tagin.

On a number of letters in the Torah are “decorations” called “tagin.” These consist of either one or three little “zayins” on top of the letters. Five of the seven letters with three tagin are shin, ayin, tet, nun, zayin and these spell out the word “shaatnez.”

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 36:3; Mishnah Berurah 36:12; Vayikra 19:19; Devarim 22:11)

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Q. When is it most possible that one’s Tephillin will get mixed up with someone else’s?

A. During Mussaf on Rosh Chodesh.

On Rosh Chodesh one removes one’s Tephillin before Mussaf. It is rare that the service will be held up until everyone has wound up and put away his Tephillin. Therefore in a Shul they are invariably left on the table during Mussaf and mix ups could occur!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 423:4)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. How (according to some opinions) can some members of a congregation be saying “v’tain berachah” whilst others are saying “v’tain tal umatar” at the same service? No-one is making a mistake!

A. It is in the Diaspora, but some of the worshippers have arrived from Israel after 7 Marcheshvan and it is before about 5 December.

During the rainy season, a request for rain is made during the saying of the Amidah. In Israel one starts this prayer on 7 Marcheshvan. In the Diaspora however, the date is about 5 December, which is usually more than a month later than in Israel. The practical question which arises is when one travels from Israel to the Diaspora between 7 Marcheshvan and the beginning of December. One would then have already started praying for rain in Israel. Should one then stop when one reaches the Diaspora? The generally accepted opinion is that if one has started, one continues saying “v’tain tal umatar” in the Diaspora. One can therefore have a situation in a particular congregation when some people are praying for rain whilst others are not!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 117:1; Sha’arei Teshuvah Orach Chaim 117:4)

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Q. What did Tzvika the magician say to his audience before beginning his act?

A. It is not magic, but a sleight of hand.

Any form of sorcery is strictly forbidden by the Torah. If therefore one wants to put on a conjuring show, at, for example, a children’s party, then the “magician” must announce at the start that what he is about to perform is not magic but a sleight of hand.

(Meorot Hadaf Hayomi vol. 2 p.246)

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Q. What does baldness not change during davening on every weekday morning?

A. The position of the head Tephillin.

The position of the head Tephillin is behind the hair line. However with increasing age there is increasing baldness and the hair line recedes. However the Tephillin remains in the same position as before the baldness began.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 27:9; Ben Ish Chai, First year, Parashat Chaye Sarah, para. 1)

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Q. What are the greatest number and the smallest number of the 4 special Parashiot that can be read during the month of Adar?

A. greatest number – 4; smallest number - 2.

Around the period of the month of Adar (or Adar Sheni in a leap year), 4 special additional Parashiot are read:
1. Shekalim - on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Adar or if it occurs on Shabbat, on Rosh Chodesh itself.
2. Zachor - on the Shabbat before Purim.
3. Parah - on the Shabbat following Purim. If however Purim occurs on Thursday or Friday, Parah is read one week later.
4. Hachodesh - on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Nissan, or if it occurs on Shabbat on Rosh Chodesh itself.
There are 29 days in Adar (or Adar Sheni).
From the above one can easily work out that when Rosh Chodesh Adar occurs on Shabbat, all 4 Parashiot are read in Adar. When Rosh Chodesh Nissan occurs on Shabbat, only 2 are read during Adar. In the majority of years, 3 are read during Adar.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 685:1-6)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Which prayer by tradition “fell from Heaven” and was found by the “Anshei Knesset Hagdolah”?

A. Baruch Sheamar

The prayer “Baruch Sheamar” is at (or near) the beginning of the “pesukei dezimrah” which are recited towards the beginning of Shacharit. By tradition, this prayer fell from Heaven and was found by the “Anshei Knesset Hagdolah” (the Rabbis who organised the Prayer Book).

( Siddur – towards the beginning of Shacharit; Mishnah Berurah 51:1)

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Q. When do Jerusalemites read the Megillah (Esther) whilst fasting?

A. When Purim occurs on Shabbat in Jerusalem.

In unwalled cities the Megillah (Esther) is read on 14 Adar, which immediately follows Ta’anit Esther and so the congregation hear the Megillah whilst still fasting. Walled cities (in practice only Jerusalem) read the Megillah a day later and so are not fasting when they hear it. However, when 15 Adar occurs on Shabbat, even in Jerusalem they read the Megillah on 14 Adar which means that even they are fasting at the time.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 686:2, 688:6)

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Q. Why on Shabbat did Tamar scatter over the table the mixed cutlery (which had already been dried)?

A. She wanted to return it to its respective compartments in the cutlery tray in a manner which was permitted on Shabbat.

One of the forbidden labours of Shabbat is “borer” (selecting). After washing cutlery, the knives, forks and spoons are usually all mixed up together. One often wants to return each item to its correct compartment in the cutlery tray, but as such one cannot, since they are all mixed together. To solve the problem, one can scatter them over the table in a way that each item will separate from the others. They will then no longer be mixed together and can be returned to their respective compartments in the cutlery tray.

(Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:74 “Borer” 11)

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Q. Who and when do those reciting a berachah turn through a half circle in the middle of the berachah?

A. The Kohanim during the berachah for Birchat Kohanim.

In most of Israel, the Kohanim duchan every morning, although in the Diaspora, this only takes place on Festivals. Before they begin the duchaning they make a berachah. When they begin this berachah they are facing the Ark and about three quarters way through the berachah they turn through a half circle to face the congregation.

(Mishnah Berurah 128:40)

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Q. Why was Amos the Shliach Tzibur instantly dismissed?

A. Because he omitted the berachah “vlamalshinim” in the repetition of the Amidah

The weekday Amidah originally consisted of 18 berachot. Later, an additional berachah “vlamalshinim” was instituted against the Jewish heretics, Should the Shliach Tzibur leave it out during his repetition of the Amidah, we suspect he may be a heretic and we therefore immediately dismiss him!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 126:1)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. What is the shortest span of time that something is leined from all 5 Books of the Torah?

A. If in that year there is a Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot - 8 days. However, if this is not the case - 9 days, namely from the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

The readings from the Torah during this period include the following: the 2 days of Rosh Hashanah - Bereshit and Bamidbar; the Fast of Gedaliah - Shemot; Shabbat Shuva - Devarim; Yom Kippur - Vayikra and Bamidbar; the first day of Sukkot in Israel [and first 2 days in the Diaspora] - Vayikra and Bamidbar; if there is Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot - Shemot, Bamidbar and Devarim; Shemini Atzeret - Devarim, Bereshit and Bamidbar in Israel [and Devarim and Bamidbar in the Diaspora], [Simchat Torah (Diaspora) - Devarim, Bereshit and Bamidbar.]
From this one can see that when there is a Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot, from the first day of Sukkot to Shemini Atzeret in Israel, [and 2nd day Sukkot to Simchat Torah in the Diaspora] – namely in a span of 8 days, one reads from all the 5 Books in the Torah. When there is no Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot – it is a span of 9 days, from 2nd day Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

(Megillah 30b-31a)

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Q. Why on Shabbat could the knot be untied but not tied?

A. It was a bow that accidentally became a knot on Shabbat.

Two of the forbidden labours of Shabbat are “koshair” (knotting) and “matir” (unknotting). The tying and untying of a tight knot on Shabbat is forbidden. The tying of a bow, (which will be untied within a day) is permitted. If however, such a bow accidentally becomes a knot, the knot may be untied on Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 317:5; Mishnah Berurah 317:23)

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Q. Why did Haggai, the Shliach Tzibur, say the Kedushah (which is recited during the repetition of the Amidah) even though there was no minyan present?

A. When he began the repetition of the Amidah there was a minyan present. However before the Kedushah, several people left the Shul, and since at least 6 people still remained he could continue the repetition including the Kedushah.

Although most of the prayers can be recited even when davening alone at home, there are some prayers which require a minyan in order to be recited. These include the repetition of the Amidah, which in turn includes the Kedushah. The Kedushah is an addition in the third berachah of the Shliach Tzibur’s repetition. However if one begins the repetition with a minyan in the Shul and then some people leave the room, provided that there remain at least 6 people, one can continue the repetition of the Amidah, (which of course includes the Kedushah), until its conclusion.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 55:2; Mishnah Berurah 55:8)

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Q. When should one avoid having one’s fingerprints taken?

A. On Shabbat and Yom Tov.

“Koteiv” (writing) is one of the forbidden labours on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Writing includes meaningful symbols. Fingerprints are a meaningful symbol for police and fingerprint experts and are therefore classed as writing.

(Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 41:29)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Why month after month did only some members of the congregation say the berachah?

A. It was the berachah over “Half Hallel.”

On the days when the whole Hallel is said, all communities of Jews in the world precede it by a berachah. When however only “Half Hallel” is recited (on the last 6 days of Pesach and on Rosh Chodesh) there are differences of opinions regarding the berachah. Ashkenazim say it, whilst Sephardim omit it. Thus if there is a mixed congregation, some will say it, whilst the remainder will omit it.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 422:2 and Rema)

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Q. How many times should one wash one’s hands during the Pesach Seder?

A. Three

(i) “urchatz” - washing before eating the karpas dipped in salt water.
(ii) “rachtza” - washing before eating the Matzah.
(iii) The third time, which is obligatory, but generally people are very lax about, is “mayim acharonim” - washing one’s hands before Birchat Hamazon.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 473:6, 475:1, 181:1)

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Q. Why did Reuven not have to repeat the evening Amidah, but during the following day he had to do so?

A. It was Rosh Chodesh and at the respective Amidah he had forgotten to say “ya’aleh v’yavo”

On Chol Hamoed and Rosh Chodesh, one adds “ya’aleh v’yavo” in the weekday Amidah. Should one forget, one is obligated to go back and say it. The only exception is Ma’ariv of Rosh Chodesh. The reason is that when witnesses came to Jerusalem to report that had seen the new moon, and their evidence was accepted, the Court did not sanctify the new month at night.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 422:1)

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Q. When did Shifrah intentionally boil up water, and allow it to overspill to put out the gas?

A. On Yom Tov.

If for some reason, one no longer requires a lighted gas on Yom Tov, one is not allowed to directly turn off the gas. In the case of a financial loss, one may however do it indirectly by the following method. Fill a saucepan to the top with water, boil the water and when it boils it will automatically spill over and put out the flame, and one can then turn off the gas. One has to then use some of this water, such as for making a cup of tea.

(Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 13:13)

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Q. What is the only occasion in the year that one has an obligatory leining from the book of Bereshit? (not including when one is reading the Parashiot from Bereshit)

A. Rosh Hashanah

On the 2 days of Rosh Hashanah one leins from Parashat Vayera - on the first day from the birth of Yitzchak until the Akeidah, and on the second day the Akeidah. [The leining from Bereshit on Simchat Torah is strictly speaking not an obligatory reading, but an extra! Having finished reading the Torah, one immediately begins again from Bereshit, so as not to give the opportunity for the Satan to say that the Jews have finished reading the Torah and do not want to read it again!]

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 584:2, 601:1, 668:2; Mishnah Berurah 668:10)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Why did Yitzchak omit “Tzur Mishelo” from the Zemirot he sang?

A. Because he might fulfill the Mitzvah of Birchat Hamazon when singing it!

“Tzur Mishelo” is a paraphrase of Birchat Hamazon and according to some opinions, one might fulfill the Mitzvah of Birchat Hamazon by singing it. Therefore when one sings it, it is preferable to have the active intention of not fulfilling the Mitzvah of Birchat Hamazon. [Of course, in all instances, one should not say that having sung it, one does not then have to say Birchat Hamazon!]

(Orchot Chaim of Rav Chaim Volozhin on customs of the Vilna Gaon, para. 94 and footnote no.52 of “Ohalei Chaim” – found in Siddur “Ishei Yisrael” of the Vilna Gaon.)

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Q. How many “Avinu Malkeinu’s” are there?

A. One

Judaism is a monotheistic religion. There may be 44 verses in “Avinu Malkeinu” - but there is only one Avinu Malkeinu!

(Siddur – weekday Shacharit and Minchah, Machzor for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.)

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Q. When does the Shul omit “vihi noam” on Motzaei Shabbat even though none of following 6 days are Yom Tov?

A. There are 3 possibilities:
1. Pesach begins on the following Shabbat.
2. In Israel, if Yom Tov of Sukkot is on Shabbat.
3. Tisha B’Av is on Motzaei Shabbat.

After the Amidah on Motzaei Shabbat, “vihi noam” is said. It speaks of “ma’asei yadeinu” (the work of our hands) and so when there is not a complete week of workdays, (i.e. a Yom Tov will occur before the following Shabbat), it is omitted. There are however a few exceptions:
1. If Pesach begins on the following Shabbat - the reason being that the afternoon of erev Pesach, namely Friday afternoon, is the time for offering the “Korban Pesach”. This time is regarded like a Yom Tov and certain labours (approximately those forbidden on Chol Hamoed) are forbidden. Hence, there is less than a complete week for “ma’asei yadeinu.”
2. In Israel, if Yom Tov of Sukkot is on Shabbat. The entire following week is then Chol Hamoed, when many labours are forbidden. [This cannot arise in the Diaspora since the Sunday will be Yom Tov as well.]
3. If Tisha b’Av occurs on Motzaei Shabbat, one begins after reading the book of Eichah from “v’ata kadosh”. The reason is that the words “vihi noam” are not appropriate for a day such as Tisha b’Av.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 295: Rema; Mishnah Berurah 295: 3; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski]: 5758 “Shabbat Hagadol”, 5764 ”1st day Chol Hamoed Sukkot”; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 559:; Mishnah Berurah 559:7)

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Q. At which Minchah does one not say Ashrei?

A. Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur, Minchah begins with Kriyat haTorah. Ashrei is left over to the Ne’ilah service.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 622:1 Rema)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When does one read the same Haftarah two weeks running?

A. In Jerusalem, when Purim occurs on Shabbat.

In Jerusalem (a city which was walled at the time of Yehoshua bin Nun), Purim is celebrated one day later than the rest of the world. Only in Jerusalem, Purim can occur on Shabbat, and in such a case its observance is spread over 3 days - Friday, Shabbat and Sunday. On the Shabbat, “al hanisim” is said and the Torah reading for Purim is read as the Maftir. The question then arises which Haftarah is read on that Shabbat. One reads the same Haftarah as on the previous Shabbat, which was Shabbat Zachor. The Haftarah deals with King Shaul fighting the Amalekites, something which is most appropriate for both Shabbat Zachor and Purim.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 688:6; Mishnah Berurah 688:16; Shmuel I 15:2-34)

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Q. What is the connection between duchaning and worrisome dreams?

A. Whilst the Kohanim are stretching out the tune during duchaning, there is a prayer to be recited by a person who has had such a dream.

Sometimes a person wakes up having dreamed something which troubles him. The Gemara gives various remedies to put one’s mind at rest after such a dream. One of them is saying a special prayer whilst the Kohanim are duchaning. The reason for stretching out the tune at the last words of each of the verses of the duchaning is to give the congregation time to say this supplication.

(Berachot 55b; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 130:1; Mishnah Berurah 130:3; some Siddurim and Machzorim - duchaning)

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Q. Where does one omit the same 2 paragraphs in the davening month after month?

A. In the Hallel on Rosh Chodesh and last 6 days of Pesach.

The Gemara gives a list of days when one is obligated to say the Hallel. In addition, by established custom, Hallel is also recited on Rosh Chodesh and the last 6 days of Pesach. However on these occasions, two paragraphs are omitted - those beginning with “lo lanu” and “ohavti” - and it is then popularly known as “Half Hallel.”

(Arachin 10a-b; Ta’anit 28b; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 422:2; Mishnah Berurah 422:12)

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Q. When does one read from three Sifrei Torah on the same morning?

A. There are 4 possibilities:
(i) Shabbat Chanukah which falls on Rosh Chodesh
(ii) Shabbat Shekalim which falls on Rosh Chodesh
(iii) Shabbat Hachodesh which falls on Rosh Chodesh
(iv) Simchat Torah

Every Shabbat (unless it is a Yom Tov or Chol Hamoed) one reads the week’s Parashah from the Sefer Torah. If it is Rosh Chodesh, one takes out an additional Sefer Torah to read the portion for Rosh Chodesh. If it is also Parashat Shekalim or Parashat Hachodesh (which are two of the special readings which take place around the month of Adar) or Chanukah, then a third Sefer Torah is taken out that Shabbat for the appropriate reading. On Simchat Torah one also takes out three Sifrei Torah – one to read from the end of the Torah, one for the beginning and one for the Maftir for that day.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 684:3; 685:1; Mishnah Berurah 685:13; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 668:2, 669:1)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. What and when is the maximum number of days in a row that one can read the Torah?

A. In Israel: 10 – When Chanukah begins on a Friday or a Sunday. [In the Diaspora: 11 – When Sukkot begins on a Tuesday.]

In addition to every Shabbat, Monday and Thursday, the Torah is read every day during the 8 days of Chanukah. Therefore, in a year when Chanukah begins on a Friday, one reads the Torah on: the day before Chanukah which is Thursday; the 8 days of Chanukah; and the day after Chanukah which is Shabbat. A similar calculation can be made when Chanukah begins on a Sunday. One thus has a Torah reading on 10 consecutive days.
[One likewise has Torah readings every day throughout Sukkot (including Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah) which in the Diaspora continues for 9 days. In a year when the day before Sukkot occurs on a Monday, one reads the Torah on that day, on each of the 9 days of Sukkot, and also on the following day (Isru Chag) which will be a Thursday. Thus in the Diaspora there is a Torah reading on 11 consecutive days.]

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 684:1)

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Q. In Israel, for which Festivals does one never make Eruv Tavshillin?

A. Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret.

On Shabbat, cooking is strictly forbidden. On Yom Tov it is permitted for that day alone. What then can one do when Yom Tov occurs on Friday? How can one have fresh cooked food for Shabbat? This is done by performing Eruv Tavshillin - taking a cooked dish and bread on the day before Yom Tov and making a certain declaration.
In Israel, where there is only one day Yom Tov (except for Rosh Hashanah), Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret cannot occur on Friday - (in the Diaspora they can be the 2nd day of these Festivals) - Eruv Tavshillin is thus not applicable to Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret. The reason for these limitations is that due to calendar principles, there are three days during the week, when the various Festivals cannot occur.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 527:1. 2. 12; 428:1)

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Q. Apart from “aseret yemai teshuvah,” when do some say “Shir Hama’alot Mimaamakim” after Yishtabach?

A. On Hoshana Rabba.

During the Festival of Sukkot, the world is judged for how much rain will fall that coming winter. The last day of Sukkot is Hoshana Rabba and being the last day, it is very crucial for this judgment. The day thus takes on the appearance in the Shul’s morning service as a “Mini Yom Kippur.” Just as in the “aseret yemai teshuvah” when one says “Shir Hama’alot Mimaamakim” after Yishtabach, some places likewise do so on Hoshana Rabba.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 664:1; Mishnah Berurah 664: 2, 7; Luach D’var B’ito [“Achiezer” Bnei Brak] all years “Hoshana Rabba”)

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Q. What is the longest weekday Amidah?

A. Minchah of erev Yom Kippur.

Every Amidah recited on Yom Kippur ends with a long Vidui. In addition, this Vidui is also recited at the end of the Amidah of Minchah of erev Yom Kippur; the reason being in case there should be a mishap whilst one is eating one’s meal before the fast one might not be able to recite Vidui during Yom Kippur itself. This Vidui easily makes this Amidah the longest weekday Amidah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 607:1; Mishnah Berurah 607:1; Machzor for Yom Kippur- Minchah for erev Yom Kippur)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. What is the connection between elephants and Chanukah?

A. During the war with the Greeks at the time of the Chanukah miracle, the Greeks used elephants.

This is found in the Book of Maccabees, which is one of the books of the Apocrypha. “…and for every elephant they appointed a thousand men, armed with coats of mail, and with helmets of brass on their heads; and beside this, for every beast were ordained five hundred horsemen of the best.”

(Maccabees I 6:33-35)

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Q. Why (according to some opinions) when Moshe heard the Megillah not in the original Hebrew, nor in a language which he understood, he fulfilled the Mitzvah of reading the Megillah?

A. He heard it in Greek.

To fulfill the Mitzvah of Reading the Megillah on Purim, one must hear it either in the original Hebrew, even if one does not understand Hebrew, or (at least in theory) in a language that one understands. An exception to this rule, according to the Rambam, is if that one hears the Megillah in Greek, even if one does not understand Greek, one fulfills the Mitzvah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 690:8, 9; Rambam, Hilchot Megillah 2:3)

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Q. When is the longest Rosh Chodesh weekday Mussaf Amidah recited?

A. On Rosh Chodesh Tevet during a leap year.

Every Rosh Chodesh there is an additional service after Shacharit known as Mussaf. During every service during Chanukah, an additional passage “al hanisim” is added in every Amidah. Since Rosh Chodesh Tevet occurs during Chanukah, “al hanisim” is added into the Rosh Chodesh Tevet Mussaf Amidah. In addition, in (at least the first half of) a Jewish leap year, the two additional words “ulachaparat posha” are added into this Amidah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 423:3, 682:2; Mishnah Berurah 423:6)

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Q. How many times (in the vast majority of years) is there Kriyat haTorah during the “aseret yemai teshuvah”?

A. 10.

On Shabbat, Yom Kippur and the Fast of Gedaliah, the Torah is read at both Shacharit and Minchah; on Rosh Hashanah (unless it is Shabbat) and on any remaining Mondays and Thursdays, just at Shacharit. One can now easily work out that when Rosh Hashanah occurs on Monday, Thursday or Shabbat, the total number of Torah readings during the “aseret yemai teshuvah” is 10. However, when Rosh Hashanah occurs on Tuesday, it is only 9.

(Siddur; Machzorim for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur)

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Q. Why on a winter’s night did Katriel not close the shutters on the windows?

A. It was Chanukah and the Chanukah lights were burning in front of the window.

The Chanukah lights should be placed where those passing by the outside of the house will see the lights and thus there will be “pirsumei nisa.” They should therefore be placed outside the front door or next to the window. If they are next to the window, one should obviously not close the shutters, since then passers by will not then see the Chanukah lights!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 671:5; Mishnah Berurah 671:21)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. During which two months does one say Tachanun during every Shacharit (except for Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh)?

A. Marcheshvan and Tammuz.

Tachanun, a supplicatory prayer, follows the Shacharit Amidah on weekdays. It is however omitted on Festivals and many other notable days, although it is said on many fast days such as 17 Tammuz. Marcheshvan and Tammuz have no days which come into the category of omitting Tachanun

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:6, 7)

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Q. What is the only day in the week on which all 6 fasts in the year can occur?

A. Thursday

The six fasts of the year are: Yom Kippur, 9 Av, Fast of Gedaliah, 10 Tevet, 17 Tammuz and Fast of Esther. The principles of the calendar prevent the fasts from occurring on certain days of the week and also, with the exception of Yom Kippur, if they fall on Shabbat they have to be moved to a different day.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 428:1)

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Q. What is the longest period of time between two successive recitals of Hallel (either whole or half Hallel)?

A. Just over six weeks – from second day Rosh Chodesh Elul until first day of Sukkot.

Hallel is recited on Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh. It is not recited on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, since it is inappropriate to say it on the Days of Judgment. [Rosh Hashanah occurs on Rosh Chodesh Tishri.] Therefore the longest period between two successive recitals of Hallel is just over six weeks - from the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul until the first day of Sukkot.

(Arachin 10a-b; Ta’anit 28b; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 584:1)

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Q. When on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh does one read the Maftir for Rosh Chodesh but not the Haftarah for Rosh Chodesh?

A. When Rosh Chodesh Av falls on Shabbat.

When Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat, and one reads as the Maftir the portion for Rosh Chodesh, then the Haftarah is that read for Rosh Chodesh. During the “Three Weeks” between 17 Tammuz and 9 Av, special Haftarot are read – Haftarot whose message is rebuking the Jewish people and warning them of the imminent destruction. In some years Rosh Chodesh Av occurs on Shabbat and then there is a “conflict” of which Haftarah to read. The one read is the one for the “Three Weeks” even though the Maftir read on that Shabbat is the one for Rosh Chodesh.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 428:8; 425:1 Rema; Mishnah Berurah 425:8)

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Q. According to the Ashkenazi order of service, on which day is the Shacharit service the shortest in the year?

A. Erev Pesach - when it occurs on a Friday.

During Shacharit on the day before Pesach, a number of things are omitted:
i) Mizmor Letodah, which is one of the Tehilim recited in the “pesukei dezimrah”.
ii) Tachanun, which is omitted during the entire month of Nissan.
iii) Lamnatzeach, which is said between Ashrei and Uvo leZion, towards the end of the service.
At the end of the service, each day of the week a different one of the Tehilim is read. The one for Friday is the shortest of these Tehilim.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 429:2 & Rema; Tehilim 93)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Apart from Yom Kippur, when can one have a Ne’ilah service (at least theoretically)?

A. On the last 7 fast days proclaimed when there is no rain in Eretz Israel.

On Yom Kippur, after Minchah one has an additional service called Ne’ilah. Ne’ilah means “closing”, as this is the time when the gates of Heaven are closing and it is thus the last opportunity to pray for forgiveness before the day ends. On a practical level, this is the only occasion in the year when Ne’ilah is said, since on our other fast days observed every year there is no Ne’ilah service. However in addition to these fast days, should there be no rain in Eretz Israel, a series of fasts are proclaimed, with increasing severity. During the last 7 of these fast days, there is, at least theoretically, a Ne’ilah service.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 623; Tur Orach Chaim 579)

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Q. What do the longest Parashah in the Torah, the longest of the Tehilim, and the longest Masechet (in pages) in the Talmud have in common?

A. The number 176.

The longest Parashah - Naso (the second Parashah in Bamidbar) has 176 verses, the longest of the Tehilim - no. 119 has 176 verses and Bava Batra - the longest Masechet in the Talmud has 176 pages. [NOTE: Although it only has 64 pages, the longest Masechet in words is Berachot.]

(Tenach; Masechet Bava Batra)

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Q. Why was Moishe’s Sukkah which looked perfectly kosher and could withstand a normal wind, possul?

A. The schach was put on before building the walls.

To be a kosher Sukkah, it has to be built in a specific order – namely the walls must be built before putting on the schach. (Should one happen to put the schach on first, after building the walls, it would be sufficient to lift up the schach and then return it in order to make the Sukkah kosher.)

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 635:1 Rema; Sefer Sukkah Hashalem by Eliahu Weissfish p.337)

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Q. On which three consecutive days in the year has the time of midday a special significance?

A. Erev Tisha b’Av, Tisha b’Av and the day after Tisha b’Av.

On erev Tisha b’Av, according to some authorities, one may not learn Torah after midday. The study of Torah gives one joy and therefore it is forbidden on Tisha b’Av and this has been extended to the afternoon of erev Tisha b’Av. From midday of Tisha b’Av, some of the mourning restrictions are relaxed and sitting on a chair is permitted. On the day after Tisha b’Av, the mourning restrictions end at midday. During the 3 weeks from 17 Tammuz until Tisha b’Av and especially from Rosh Chodesh Av there are various laws of mourning to be observed. The reason they continue until midday on the 10 Av, is that the Temple continued burning during 10 Av.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 553:2 Rema, 559:3, 558:1 Rema)

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Q. Why did Daniel make Kiddush at the conclusion of a public fast?

A. It was Asara b’Tevet which that year occurred on a Friday.

The only fast that can occur on a Friday is Asara b’Tevet. The fast will end after Shabbat comes in. One is not allowed to eat or drink anything after the commencement of Shabbat until one makes Kiddush. One therefore ends this fast with Kiddush.

(Mishnah Berurah 550:10; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 271:4)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When and by how much are the “pesukai dezimrah” (from Baruch Sheamar to Yishtabach) longer – on Shabbat or on Yom Kippur?

A. On Shabbat, by one letter

Towards the beginning of Shacharit are the “pesukei dezimrah.” On Shabbat, Yom-Tov and Hoshana Rabba a number of Tehilim are added to them. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, towards the end of the “pesukei dezimrah”, one replaces the words “Hamelech Hayoshev” (the King who sits) with “Hamelech Yoshev” (the King is now sitting). The reason being that on these days, which are the days of judgment, the Almighty - the King - is at that moment sitting and judging the world. Thus there is one letter fewer in the “pesukei dezimrah” - namely the letter “he” in “hayoshev”.

(Siddur – Shacharit for Shabbat; Yom Kippur Machzor - Shacharit)

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Q. Why did Reuven wait until the second night of Rosh Hashanah to eat an apple?

A. His new fruit was an apple.

At the beginning of every Festival, one says the berachah “Shehecheyanu”, at the joy of having lived to see the Festival. The question therefore arises whether one should say it again on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. To help solve this problem , one takes a new fruit on the second night and has the intention when saying Shehecheyanu during Kiddush, that the berachah is also over this new fruit. In addition, it is customary to eat an apple dipped in honey on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. But what if one has not eaten an apple that year (and they are not found in the shops for the remainder of the year) and one has no other new fruit? It would in such a case seem best to keep this apple for the second night.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 600:2, 583:1 Rema)

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Q. Which Mitzvah is one unlikely to perform more than 4 times during one’s lifetime?

A. Birchat Hachamah

Birchat Hachamah (blessing the Creator of the sun) is said only once in 28 years. Even a person saying it the first time at the age of 6, might subsequently say it at the ages of 34, 62, 90. Although we wish a person to live to 120, it is unlikely he will live to say Birchat Hachamah at 118.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 229:2)

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Q. When is the only occasion when one begins leining less than three verses from an open or closed paragraph?

A. For the Levi on Rosh Chodesh.

In a Sefer Torah there is a form of “paragraphing.” Sometimes the writing stops in the middle of a line and the rest of the line is blank - this is known as a “Parashah Petuchah” (an open portion). In other cases, after a space in the middle of a line, there are more words. This is known as a “Parashah Setuma” (a closed portion). The end of such paragraphs can be considered as “natural breaks.” The minimum number of verses that one can read for a person called up to the Torah is 3. Also one is not allowed to stop less than three verses from such a “natural break.” The reason for this is that a person coming in or leaving the Shul between people being called up to the Torah might come to think that one may read less than three verses. However there is a problem in the splitting up the leining on Rosh Chodesh and one is left with no option but to begin reading for the Levi less than three verses from an open paragraph.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 137:2, 138:1, 423:2, Mishnah Berurah 423:2)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When (not including Friday or Shabbat) does one not say “Avinu Malkeinu” at Minchah on Rosh Hashanah?

A. When one davens Minchah immediately after Mussaf.

After saying the Amidah at Minchah on Rosh Hashanah, one says “Avinu Malkeinu”. In many Shuls, Mussaf on Rosh Hashanah finishes well after noon, when one is able to daven Minchah. In such a case, “Avinu Malkeinu” is omitted.

(Machzor for Rosh Hashanah - Minchah; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski], any year, towards end of Mussaf for Rosh Hashanah.)

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Q. When is the longest Maftir read?

A. When the 8th day of Chanukah falls on Shabbat.

Following the reading of the Parashah each Shabbat, the Maftir is read. This is usually a repeat of the last few verses (about 3 - 5 verses) of the Parashah. On some occasions, there is a special Maftir, which is often much longer; for example, on Rosh Chodesh, on Chanukah, and on the 4 special Parashiot read about the month of Adar. When the last day of Chanukah is on Shabbat, the Maftir is particularly long and is of length 40 verses.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 282:4, 684:1, 2; Bamidbar 7:54-89, 8:1-4)

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Q. Why did Meir drink lemonade (not during a meal), but not say a berachah before drinking it?

A. He had already drunk wine and the lemonade was (preferably) on the table when he said the berachah over the wine.

Normally on has to say the appropriate berachah before eating any food. Sometimes one berachah will also cover various subsequent foods. When one says the berachah “Hamotzi” before eating bread at the beginning of a meal, almost all the foods eaten and drunk during that meal are included by that “Hamotzi”. Another example is when one says “Borei Pri Hagafen” over wine. This will include any other drink subsequently drunk. It is however preferable that the drink be on the table when the person says the berachah over the wine.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 177:1, 174:2; Mishnah Berurah 174:3)

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Q. Since he did not give a Derashah, why was the Festive meal at Yehudah’s Barmitzvah considered a “Seudat Mitzvah”?

A. It was precisely the day he became 13 years old.

Certain meals on special occasions, such as the meal after a wedding or a Brit Milah are known as a “Seudat Mitzvah”. One such meal is to mark a Barmitzvah. If it is given on the day a boy becomes 13 years old, it is a “Seudat Mitzvah” even if the Barmitzvah boy does not give a derashah. If however it is held on a different day, it is only called a “Seudat Mitzvah” if the Barmitzvah boy gives such a derashah.

(Mishnah Berurah 225:6)

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Q. On which two nights in the year does the congregation wear a Tallit for Ma’ariv?

A. Yom Kippur and the night after Yom Kippur.

A Tallit is only worn at Shacharit and Mussaf.. However on Yom Kippur it is worn at all the services. Ma’ariv after Yom Kippur follows immediately after Ne’ilah. It is unusual to remove one’s Tallit between Ne’ilah and Ma’ariv!

(Mishnah Berurah 619:4; Shulchan Aruch Harav 4: additions 137 (1443))

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When does one say “Mizmor Letodah” and also the extra Tehilim (not recited on an ordinary weekday) which follow it?

A. On Hoshana Rabba.

In the “pesukei dezimrah” on Shabbat, Yom Tov and Hoshana Rabba a number of extra Tehilim are added before “yehi chavod.” On Shabbat, Yom Tov, erev Pesach, Chol Hamoed Pesach and erev Yom Kippur, one of the Tehilim, “Mizmor Letodah” is omitted. Thus on Chol Hamoed Sukkot it is said - Hoshana Rabba is the last day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot.

(Siddur – Shacharit for weekdays, Shabbat and Yom Tov; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 664:1 and Rema)

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Q. How did Yoezer make Kiddush since he did not have a cup holding a “revi’it”?

A. He held the wine bottle (in which there was a revi’it of wine) whilst making Kiddush.

When one makes Kiddush, one requires a certain minimum quantity of wine. This quantity is a “revi’it” (at least 86mls). If one does not have a cup which holds that minimum size, one can hold the wine bottle during Kiddush, provided the wine in this bottle is at least this quantity. After finishing Kiddush, one pours wine from the bottle into ones cup and drinks it.

(Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 47:10 and footnote 48)

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Q. Why when Yehudah counted the correct number for the Omer (without having omitted any previous days’ counting), did he not fulfill the Mitzvah?

A. He read from the Siddur the correct number, but not understanding the Hebrew words, he did not know which number it referred to.

Each night from the 2nd night of Pesach until Shavuot, one counts the Omer. The actual counting is not a prayer but a counting and thus one has to know which number one is counting. Even if one reads it in the original Hebrew but does not know which number is referred to, one does not fulfill the Mitzvah.

(Mishnah Berurah 489:5)

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Q Apart from Yom Kippur, for which fast is the date never changed?

A. 10 Tevet.

With the exception of Yom Kippur, fasts occurring on Shabbat are moved to the next day – Sunday, (except for the Fast of Esther which is advanced to Thursday). However the fast of 10 Tevet can never fall on Shabbat, and so it is always observed on 10 Tevet.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 550:3; Mishnah Berurah 550:8)

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Q. Why does one eat gefilte fish on Shabbat rather than on Yom Tov?

A. One eats it on Shabbat to avoid the problems of borer. On Yom Tov, such borer is permitted.

One of the forbidden labours of Shabbat is “borer” (selecting). This means that one may not remove unwanted material from wanted material. An example is not removing fish bones (which are unwanted) from the fish (which is wanted). A person can easily transgress this either inadvertently or by lack of knowledge. Therefore, some time in the past, someone “invented” gefilte fish (minced fish balls) for Shabbat. However, on Yom Tov one may remove the fish bones, and because of this, there is no reason to eat gefilte fish on Yom Tov.

(Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 3:15)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. How did Yoel keep the Mitzvah of “Kiddush Levanah” on a month when it was so cloudy every night that he could not see the moon during the entire period when one could perform this Mitzvah?

A. He went up in airplane above the clouds!

There is a monthly Mitzvah to bless the Creator of the Moon. This Mitzvah is known as “kiddush levanah” and it is performed during most of the first half of the month on a night when the moon is visible. Cases have been reported when it was cloudy every night and when the last night was reached and the Mitzvah would thus be lost for that month, some Rabbis went up in an airplane above the clouds!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 426:1 Rema; Meorot Hadaf Hayomi 2:219)

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Q. When did Chaim say Hallel sitting down?

A. On Seder night(s).

In addition to the various daytime readings of Hallel, it is also said during the Seder service. It is begun before the meal and continued after the meal. When the Hallel is recited during the daytime, one stands when reading it. At the Seder however it is read whilst seated as a symbol of freedom.

(Hagadah of Pesach; Mishnah Berurah 480:1)

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Q. How did Eliahu fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush, which requires speaking, yet he did not even open his mouth and say anything?

A. Using the principle “shomea k’o-ne.

Literally the words “shomea k’o-ne” mean “listening is like answering.” To fulfill certain Mitzvot, one has to say something. Common examples are Kiddush and Havdalah. In practice however, (indeed it is preferable), that just the master of the house says these things in the presence of the family and the guests. They just listen silently with the intention of fulfilling the Mitzvah, and thereby, it is, as if they have said these things with their own mouths. [Although it is proper to answer “Amen”, nevertheless by not answering Amen, one still fulfills the Mitzvah.]

(Mishnah Berurah 271:5; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 47:32; Encyclopedia Talmudit 4:197)

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Q. Which prayer is said on a particular day, just at Minchah by some communities, in Shacharit and Minchah by others, and at Ma’ariv, Shacharit and Minchah by yet others?

A. “Aneinu” on fast days.

On fast days one adds in the Amidah, the prayer beginning “Aneinu.” However different communities say it at different times. Ashkenazim (Jews of European origin) say it just at Minchah, Sephardim (Jews of Oriental origin) at Shacharit and Minchah, and Taymanim (Jews of Yemenite origin) at all three services. It is of interest to note that the fasts (except Tisha b’Av) have not yet begun when Taymanim say it at Ma’ariv!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 565:3 & Rema; Mishnah Berurah 565:9; Kaf Hachaim 565:14; Shtilei Zeitim 565:1 & Zayit Ra’anan 565:1)

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Q. The congregants were not talking or making any other disturbances. So why month after month did the Shamash bang on the table during the service?

A. To tell the congregation to begin saying the Mussaf Amidah on Rosh Chodesh.

After the Kaddish before the Mussaf Amidah on Rosh Chodesh, there is a short pause to enable the congregants to take off their Tephillin. Since the entire congregation should start the silent Amidah together, the shamash or the gabbai bangs on the table to signal to the congregation to start saying the Mussaf Amidah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 423:4, 90:10; Mishnah Berurah 90:35)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. What in connection with the afflictions on Yom Kippur can a Kohen do up to three times during that day which is forbidden to a non-Kohen?

A. Wash his hands (or preferably have his hands washed by a Levi) up to the wrists before Duchaning.

One of the prohibitions on Yom Kippur is washing any part of the body. Before Kohanim go up to Duchan, their hands are washed up to the wrists, preferably by a Levi. In Israel there is Duchaning three times during Yom Kippur – at Shacharit, Mussaf and Ne’ilah - and so the Kohanim have their hands washed up to their wrists, three times during Yom Kippur.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 613:1, 613:3 Rema, 128:6; Mishnah Berurah 613:7)

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Q. Which berachah is sometimes said only once in a lifetime, sometimes never and rarely more than once?

A. The berachah for a “Pidyan Haben”.

The ceremony of “Pidyan Haben” by a Kohen is performed when the firstborn is over 30 days old. It is only performed if the firstborn child of the mother is a boy. In addition it must not be a Caesarian birth, nor may the father be a Kohen or Levi nor the mother the daughter of a Kohen or Levi. At this ceremony the father says the appropriate berachah. Should a man marry more than once and each wife give birth to a first born son, only then will the father will have the opportunity to say this berachah more than once in his lifetime!

(Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 305:1, 18, 24)

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Q. When was Shimon particular to eat “Seudah Shlishit” twice on a certain Shabbat?

A. When erev Pesach occurred on that Shabbat.

On Shabbat one is obligated to eat three meals. For the first two meals one must eat bread and for the third meal (Seudah Shlishit) it is preferable. According to many opinions one can only eat the third meal on the afternoon on Shabbat. From the foregoing, a problem will arise when erev Pesach occurs on Shabbat. One may only eat bread until one third of the day has passed - about 9 o’clock in the morning. Matzah may not be eaten the entire day. What then is the best way to observe the Mitzvah of eating the third meal? Some people have two meals with bread – the second one being for the “Seudah Shlishit” – on Shabbat morning whilst one can still eat Chametz, and, in the afternoon an additional “Seudah Shlishit” (without bread or Matzah, of course!) is eaten with, for example, fish, fruit, etc.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 274:4; 291:5 & Rema; 444:1 & Rema; Mishnah Berurah 444:8)

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Q. When Asher the Ba’al Koreh first learned Parashat Masei, what unusual thing did he notice with the singing notes?

A. He saw two notes which occurred nowhere else in the Torah.

The Torah is read to various musical notes which are indicated in the printed Chumash on the words themselves. Most of these notes are very common. However there are a few rare ones, the rarest being “Yerach ben Yomo” and “Karnei Foro” which only occur once in the Torah and that is in Parashat Masei. [These notes also occur once in Megillat Esther. In both the case of the Torah and Megillat Esther they occur on words connected with measurements.]

(Bamidbar 35:5; Esther 7:9)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Why did Gad search for specially spun 4 or 8 ply wool?

A. He wanted the wool for the making of Tzitzit.

Wool used in most clothing is two ply, namely two threads twisted together. In the wool for Tzitzit, however, it is customary to use 4 ply or better still 8 ply, which has been spun for the express purpose of wool to make Tzitzit.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 11:2, Biur Halachah “v’tzrichin”)

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Q. When can a person be called up to the Torah for “shishi” and “chazak” simultaneously?

A. When Parashat Pekudai is read on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh.

Four special Parashiot are read around the month of Adar (Adar Sheni in a leap year). The first is Shekalim which is read on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Adar, or if Rosh Chodesh Adar is on Shabbat, on the Shabbat itself. When such a Rosh Chodesh occurs on Shabbat, 3 Sifrei Torah are taken out. In the first one reads the Parashah to six people; in the second Sefer Torah one reads for Rosh Chodesh for the 7th person and in the third Sefer Torah the Maftir for Parashat Shekalim. When one finishes reading any of the 5 books of the Torah, the congregation followed by the Reader says “Chazak...” In a year when Parashat Pekudai is read on Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni (this can only occur in a leap year), it is also Parashat Shekalim. Thus only six people are called up for Parashat Pekudai, and “Chazak” (which is said at the end of the Parashah) will thus be said at the end of Shishi (the 6th person called up).

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 685:1; Mishnah Berurah 685:4, 5; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 139:1 Rema)

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Q Why could Yonatan move the object on Shabbat but not on Yom Tov?

A. Certain things are Muktzah on Yom Tov but not on Shabbat.

The term “Muktzah” is used for objects which may not be moved on Shabbat or Yom Tov. In fact Muktzah is stricter for Yom Tov than for Shabbat. For example, peels and bones which are fit for consumption by animals are Muktzah on Yom Tov but not on Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 495:4, Mishnah Berurah 495:15, 17)

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Q. When on every Yom Tov is it forbidden for Leah to do cooking?

A. After sunset (towards the end of Yom Tov).

Cooking is only permitted on Yom Tov for that day. We do not know exactly when between sunset and “tzeit hakochavim” the day begins or ends. [This is the reason that Shabbat and Yom Tov are more than 24 hours long; we start some minutes before sunset and finish at tzeit hakochavim.] Thus by cooking after sunset, we could well be cooking on Yom Tov and eating the food after Yom Tov is out.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 503:1; Luach D’var B’ito [“Achiezer” Bnei Brak] 5758 page 835)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When do all Shuls leave out “Me’ain Sheva” on a Friday night?

A When the first night of Pesach is on Shabbat?

Normally there is no repetition of the Amidah at Ma’ariv. However on Ma’ariv of Shabbat, there is an abridged repetition in which the 7 berachot of the Shabbat Amidah are incorporated into 1 berachah - hence the term “Me’ain Sheva” (an abridged 7 berachot). It was instituted to give an opportunity to latecomers to catch up with their prayers. The importance of this was that they should not finish after everybody else and thus have to go home alone in the dark. However, the Seder night is known as “Leil Shimurim” - the night when the Jewish people are specially guarded and so there is no worry for latecomers to go home alone in the dark. Thus “Me’ain Sheva” is omitted.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 268:8; Mishnah Berurah 268:20; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 487:1; Mishnah Berurah 487:9)

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Q. When and why did Shimon intentionally make his kosher Sukkah possul?

A. It was at the end of Hoshana Rabba, in Israel, since he needed to use the Sukkah on Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.

It is a Torah commandment to dwell in the Sukkah all 7 days of Sukkot (8 days in the Diaspora). In Israel one returns to the house on the evening of Shemini Atzeret. Now supposing someone needs to use the Sukkah on Shemini Atzeret. (For example one has a lot of guests and there is insufficient room in the house to feed and sleep them on Shemini Atzeret.) In order to be able to use the Sukkah on Shemini Atzeret, one must intentionally make it possul just before Shemini Atzeret. The reason is that one should not give the appearance that one is adding to the Mitzvah of Sukkah by using it after the end of Sukkot.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 666:1)

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Q. When did Ovadiah not make Havdalah at the end of Yom Tov?

A. When Yom Tov ended on a Friday.

At the end of every Shabbat and Yom Tov, one makes Havdalah, a ceremony which separates the holy from the profane. When a Yom Tov ends on Friday, Shabbat then begins at the termination of Yom Tov and because Shabbat has a greater holiness than Yom Tov, one does not make Havdalah.

(Rambam, Hilchot Shabbat 5:21)

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Q. Which two words seem out of place in “vatodiainu” said when the second day of Rosh Hashanah begins on Motzaei Shabbat?

A. Vachagigat Haregel.

At Ma’ariv at the termination of Shabbat, ones adds in the Amidah, the prayer “ata chanantanu” whose content is the separation between the Shabbat and the weekdays. When Yom-Tov occurs immediately after the Shabbat, the addition begins “vatodiainu” and is differently phrased. Since most of the occasions when one says this addition is one of the “Foot Festivals” (Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot), it includes the phrase “Vechagigat Haregel” - celebration of the “Foot Festival.” Even though Rosh Hashanah is not one of the “Foot Festivals,” this phrase is not omitted when it occurs on Sunday.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 294:1, 599:1; Mishnah Berurah 599:2)

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Q. What is wrong with the following instruction appearing in a Siddur: “On erev Yom Kippur, omit Lamnatzeach and Kel Erech Apayim.”?

A. Kel Erech Apayim is only said on Mondays and Thursdays. Erev Yom Kippur cannot fall on these days!

On most Mondays and Thursdays throughout the year one says Kel Erech Apayim immediately before Kriyat haTorah. From the principles of the calendar, Yom Kippur cannot fall on Sunday, Tuesday or Friday. Thus erev Yom Kippur cannot fall on Monday or Thursday.

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 25:2; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 428:1)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. In which well-known prayer recited three times each day has the “nun fallen out”?

A. Ashrei

“Ashrei” begins with two verses from different Tehilim which both begin with the word “Ashrei”; it is then followed by Tehilim 145 in its entirety; finally there is a verse from another one of the Tehilim. Tehilim 145 is an alphabetic acrostic. However, there is no verse in it beginning with the letter “nun.” The Gemara explains the reason for such an omission. “Nofel” (whose first letter is nun) means falling and since this is a hint at the Jewish people falling, there is no verse in Ashrei beginning with the letter nun.

(Tehilim 84:5, 144:15, 145, 115:18; Berachot 4b)

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Q. In which berachah did Leah make a distinction between fruits grown in Eretz Yisrael and fruits grown in the Diaspora?

A. Me’ain Shalosh.

After eating bread one recites the full “Birchat Hamazon”, which consists of 3 berachot (of Torah origin) plus an additional one (of Rabbinical origin). After eating flour products, wine and certain fruits one recites “Me’ain Shalosh” - an abridged 3 berachot. In it the 3 berachot of “Birchat Hamazon” plus the additional berachah are incorporated into one berachah. For fruits grown in Eretz Yisrael, this berachah finishes with the words “ve’al pairoteha” (and for its [i.e.Eretz Yisrael’s] fruits); for Diaspora fruits it finishes with “ve’al hapairot” (and for the fruits).

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 208:1, 10)

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Q. What is the longest period of time that one omits Tachanun?

A. The entire month of Nissan. To be exact from Minchah on 29 Adar (Adar Sheni in a leap year) to Shacharit of 2 Iyar.

Tachanun is the supplicatory prayer recited after the Amidot of Shacharit and Minchah. It is omitted on Festivals and various other notable days in the year and (almost invariably as well) on the Minchah preceeding these days. Included in these days is the whole month of Nissan. The longest period for its omission will therefore be from Minchah on 29 Adar to (but not including) Shacharit of 2 Iyar.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:7)

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Q. When did Naftali read the Haftarah for Parashat Miketz?

A. When Chanukah began on a Friday.

Every Shabbat morning, following the Kriyat haTorah, one reads a Haftarah. The Haftarah is almost always related to the week’s Parashah. When Shabbat occurs, for example, on Chanukah or Rosh Chodesh, the Haftarah is special for these days. In almost every year, Parashat Miketz is read during Chanukah. However, when Chanukah begins on Friday, Parashat Miketz is read after Chanukah and so the Haftarah for Miketz will be read.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 684:2; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski] 5761, “Miketz”)

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Q. Why in Israel may one sweep the floor of the house on Shabbat, but this was not allowed in pre Second World War Europe?

A. Almost all the house floors in Israel are tiled, which was not the case in Europe.

One of the forbidden labours of Shabbat is “boneh” (building). This includes leveling any holes in the ground. Houses such as in pre Second World War Europe had earthen floors and since by sweeping one would level holes, it was forbidden to sweep such floors. Today, in Israel, as in much of the developed world, floors are not earthen. If the majority of the floors in a city are tiled or wooden, one is allowed to sweep the floor on Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 337:2, Biur Halachah 337 “v’yesh machmirim.”)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Apart from Lag b’Omer, what are bonfires and haircuts connected with?

A. The Nazir

Due to certain mourning practices during part of the period of the Omer, haircutting is not allowed. On the 33rd day of the Omer - known as Lag b’Omer, mourning is suspended and haircutting is permitted. Also, Lag b’Omer is a celebration in memory of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a Rabbi who lived nearly two thousand years ago. At this celebration, bonfires are lit. The Nazir is a person who has taken a vow to abstain from wine and grape products and cutting his hair. At the end of his period of being a Nazir he cuts his hair and then burns it.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 493:2, Rema and Ateret Zekainim; Bamidbar 6:18)

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Q. What in a house sometimes points inwards, sometime outwards and sometimes upwards?

A. A Mezuzah

A Mezuzah contains the first two paragraphs of the Shema and is attached to the doorpost of almost every door in a house on the upper third of the doorpost. There are different customs regarding the direction of affixing a Mezuzah on the doorpost. Some have it pointing inwards, others outwards whilst yet others upwards.

(Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 289:6 & Rema, Terumat Hadeshen part 1 chapter 52)

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Q. Why is the Halachah which says that a Kohen who pronounces his “ayins” as “alephs” not permitted to Duchan, not relevant for any Jews in the world?

A. There is no letter “ayin” in Birchat Kohanim!

Most Western Jews cannot pronounce the letter “ayin” correctly and thus we are lenient on this question. But even if we were not lenient, this problem cannot arise with Birchat Kohanim since there is no letter “ayin” in Birchat Kohanim!
[It also applies for a Shliach Tzibur and here it can be relevant.]

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 128:33, Mishnah Berurah 128:120, Be’er Heitev 128: 55; Bamidbar 6:24-26)

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Q. Why on one Friday night when Yosef made Kiddush in accordance with the Halachah, did he not fulfill this Mitzvah?

A. He did not eat anything after making Kiddush.

In order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush, one must eat a meal immediately after it. This meal need not be a full meal but can just be a piece of bread or cake. Without this, one has not fulfilled the Mitzvah of Kiddush, even if one has made it meticulously in accordance with all its other laws.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 273:3 & Rema, 273:5)

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Q. Why when Mordechai nullified his Chametz in Chinese, did he fulfill the Mitzvah of nullifying Chametz?

A. He understood the Chinese language!

After searching for Chametz on the night before Pesach and also after burning or disposing of it the next morning, one makes a declaration of nullification. This is not a prayer but a declaration and one must understand what one is saying. Even if one says it in the original Aramaic and doesn’t understand what one is saying, one has not fulfilled the obligation of nullification. Therefore if one understands Chinese, one can say it in Chinese. Moreover, if one only understands Chinese, one has to say it in Chinese!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 434:2 Rema; Mishnah Berurah 434:9)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When whilst dressing does one act daily “Right and then left and then left and then right”?

A. When one puts on one’s shoes and ties up the laces.

One first puts on the right shoe and then the left one. Afterwards one ties up the left lace and then the right one. The reason that one puts on the right one first is that the Torah gives importance to the right hand and foot over the left ones. With regards to the laces however it is the left which is given the greater importance as can be seen from the binding of the Tephillin which is done on the left arm.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 2:4; Mishnah Berurah 2:5, 6)

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Q. For which Parashah may one not call up additional people, all the way up to Shevi’i?

A. Ha’azinu.

Towards the end of the Torah is the song “Ha’azinu” which is the content of almost the entire Parashat Ha’azinu. It was also the song of the Levi’im in the Temple during the Shabbat Mussaf sacrifice. It was then divided into six portions and every week one portion was sung. Today when we read it from the Torah, we may only make stops where the Levi’im stopped in the Temple. Thus only shevi’i (the portion for the 7th person being called to the Torah) may be split up.

(Devarim 32:1-43; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 428:5, Mishnah Berurah 428:11, 12, 14)

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Q. Which fast (according to some opinions) is postponed every year?

A. Tzom Gedaliah.

Tzom Gedaliah commemorates the murder of Gedaliah after the destruction of the First Temple. It is observed on the day after Rosh Hashanah. Some however, say that Gedaliah was killed on Rosh Hashanah. Since one cannot fast on Rosh Hashanah, the fast is every year postponed until after Rosh Hashanah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Be’er Heteiv 549:1)

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Q. Why when Shmuelik, who lived in a village in England had a daily national newspaper delivered to his house on Yom Tov, was he forbidden to carry it in the street?

A. Because it had come from outside the Techum on Yom Tov.

On Yom Tov it is permitted to carry outside the Eruv (e.g. in the street, in a place where there is no Eruv). However the laws regarding the Techum - going about a kilometre outside the “city boundaries” applies in the same way as on Shabbat. If a daily newspaper has been printed in a different city, it has come from outside the Techum on Yom Tov. In such a case one may not carry it outside the Eruv.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 495:1, 397:3; 515:5, 9; Mishnah Berurah 515:49)

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Q. What is the longest Amidah that can be recited during the year?

A. Mussaf on Rosh Hashanah when it occurs on Shabbat.

All the Amidot recited on Shabbat and Yom Tov consist of 7 berachot – with one exception. This is the Mussaf Amidah for Rosh Hashanah which consists of 9 berachot, with the middle three of them being very long. When Rosh Hashanah occurs on Shabbat, there are also a number of additions appertaining to Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 591:1; Machzor for Rosh Hashanah – Mussaf)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Where and when (according to some opinions), (after the fixed calendar was already in operation), did one lay Tephillin on 2 Tishri?

A. In Eretz Yisrael, until about the 13th century.

When the fixed calendar was instituted, at about the middle of the 4th century, the observance of two days Yom Tov in the Diaspora was retained. In Eretz Yisrael only one day was observed and according to some opinions, this included Rosh Hashanah. Thus Tephillin were laid on 2 Tishri. According to these opinions, when Jews arrived from France in about 13th century, after the expulsion of the Crusaders from Eretz Yisrael, they instituted 2nd day Rosh Hashanah. As a result the Jews of Eretz Yisrael no longer lay Tephillin on that day.

(Beitzah, Ba’al Hamaor 3a)

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Q. Apart from pikuach nefesh, when may one, today, intentionally cause bleeding on Shabbat?

A. When performing a Brit Milah.

There are only a few things today which override Shabbat. They are pikuach nefesh and a Brit Milah. If a baby boy is 8 days old on Shabbat, the Brit Milah takes place on that day. During a Brit Milah, there is, of course, bleeding.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 331:1)

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Q. In which three consecutive Parashiot in the Torah did David the Ba’al Koreh encounter a rare note?

A. Vayeira, Chayei Sarah and Toldot.

The Torah is read to specific musical notes which are printed above or below the words in a Chumash. Most of these notes are common but there are a few rare ones. In three consecutive Parashiot in Bereshit there are rare notes. These are: Vayeira - “shalshelet”; Chayei Sarah – “shalshelet” ; Toldot – “merchah k’fulah”

(Bereshit 19:16, 24:12, 27:25)

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Q. When are there more words in the Kaddish – during the year or during the “aseret yemai teshuvah”?

A. The same.

Kaddish is a prayer largely in Aramaic which has various formats and is said in a number of places in every service. During the “aseret yemai teshuvah” there is a slight change in the wording as follows: Whilst during the year one says “leaylah min kol” – 3 words, during the “aseret yemai teshuvah” one says: “leaylah (u)leaylah mikol” – 3 words. The number of words remains constant!

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:1)

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Q. When did Yechezkel lein in Aramaic?

A. When he leined Parashat Vayetzei.

The entire Torah is in Hebrew with the exception of 2 words spoken by Lavan which appear towards the end of Parashat Vayetzei. These words are “Y’gar sahaduta”

(Bereshit 31:47)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. On which Shabbat may one not eat gefilte fish?

A. When Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat.

The origin of eating gefilte fish on Shabbat (minced fish balls) stems from the prohibition of “borer” (selecting) on Shabbat. Because of this prohibition, one may not remove the bones from fish. Since this may create difficulties when eating fish on Shabbat, it became customary to eat gefilte fish on Shabbat. On Yom Kippur one must fast and thus gefilte fish is forbidden!

(Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 3:15)

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Q. Why when Shmuel drank on Purim until he reached the state of “ad dlo yada” did he not fulfill the Mitzvah of drinking on Purim?

A. He drank alcoholic beverages other than wine.

On Purim one is commanded to drink until one does not know the difference (“ad dlo yada”) between “Blessed be Mordecai” and “Cursed be Haman.” According to most opinions, the drinking must be done with wine only. Therefore by getting drunk on liqueurs, one will not fulfill the Mitzvah!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 695:2; Mevakshei Torah 3:14 “Purim and the Month of Adar” 146:2 (pp.162-63))

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Q. Which scissors are never Muktzah on Shabbat?

A. A grape scissors.

The term “Muktzah” is used for objects which may not be moved on Shabbat. It is divided into different categories. One of these categories is implements which are normally used for doing work forbidden on Shabbat: for example, a hammer. However objects in this group may be used to do permitted works. For example, one may use a hammer to crack open nuts. One can likewise use an ordinary scissors to cut grapes from a bunch (which has of course been detached from the tree before Shabbat!) When not using the scissors for this purpose the scissors are Muktzah and (if one does not require the space they are occupying) they may not be moved on Shabbat. The sole function of grape scissors is cutting grapes from a bunch, (in the same way as a table knife is used for cutting food), and they are thus not Muktzah on Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 308:3, 4)

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Q. What is the minimum quantity of food over which one has to say a berachah before eating?

A. There is no minimum - even one grain of sugar!

Before eating or drinking any food, one blesses the Creator for benefit one gets from the food. However small the quantity, there is a benefit and one thus makes a berachah.
(For a berachah said after eating food, one requires a definite quantity of food.)

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 210:1; Mishnah Berurah 210:3)

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Q. Where is Rosh Chodesh Tishri “hidden” in the Amidah of Rosh Hashanah?

A. In the expressions: i) Yom Hazikaron, ii) Milvat olat hachodesh, iii) Musfei.

i) Yom Hazikaron – this is an expression used for both Rosh Hashanah and Rosh Chodesh.
ii) Milvad olat hachodesh – apart from the Rosh Hashanah Mussaf sacrifice, there is a Rosh Chodesh Mussaf sacrifice.
iii) Musfei – the Mussaf sacrifices (plural) offered on Rosh Hashanah – one for Rosh Hashanah and one for Rosh Chodesh.

.(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 582:6, Mishnah Berurah 582:18; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 591:2 Rema; 591:3)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Why did Ezra talk about Pesach during his Purim seudah?

A. Pesach occurs 30 days after Purim and one begins studying the laws of Pesach 30 days before this Festival.

Because of the numerous laws on the various aspects of Pesach, one should start to learn them 30 days before Pesach. Thirty days before Pesach is exactly Purim.
(In addition, on the Shabbat before Pesach, the Rav of the Shul gives a derashah on the laws of Pesach.)

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 429:1; Mishnah Berurah 429:1, 2)

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Q. What was the profession of Dov who potentially had to work every day of the year and only had holidays and rest periods during the night?

A. A Mohel.

A Brit Milah can take place every day of the year without exception - including Shabbat, Yom Kippur and Yom Tov - but only during the daytime. It may never take place during the night. Thus a Mohel who performs Brit Milah has his “holidays” only at night-time! [In practice he is not free even at night. Parents often contact the Mohel, at all times including nighttime, to ask questions.]

(Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 262:1 & Rema, 266:2)

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Q. When did Nachum put on Tephillin on Shabbat?

A. When he found them in the street on Shabbat and there was no Eruv.

One of the prohibitions of Shabbat is “hotza’ah” (carrying in a place where there is no Eruv - an enclosed area). A classic example is a street situated in a town which has no Eruv. What then happens if one finds a pair of Tephillin in such a street on Shabbat? On Shabbat one is forbidden to put on Tephillin for the purpose of the Mitzvah of Tephillin. However in this situation, by wearing the Tephillin they become an adornment on the wearer and he may thus walk in the street with them.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 301:7, 42; Mishnah Berurah 301:158)

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Q. Apart from Kabbalat Shabbat, when does one say “Lechu Nerananah” every week?

A. On Wednesday morning, at the end of the Tehilim for that day.

Before Ma’ariv on Shabbat, there is a service called “Kabbalat Shabbat.” It consists of a number of Tehilim, beginning with “Lechu Nerananah”, and also the poem “Lecha Dodi.” At the end of every Shacharit one says a different one of the Tehilim for each day of the week. Wednesday’s is Tehilim 94. The following one – Tehilim 95 - begins with “Lechu Nerananah” and the first three verses of it are read. It is appropriate that these 3 verses are read on Wednesday, since Sunday, Monday and Tuesday “belong” to the previous Shabbat, and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to the following Shabbat. So saying these verses on Wednesday is a reminder that Shabbat is “on the way.”

( Siddur – Kabbalat Shabbat; Tehilim 94, 95; Mishnah Berurah 299:16)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Shimon heard Reuven repeat the same thing 90 times in rapid succession. What might Reuven have been saying?

A. (e.g.) V’et kol minai tevuata l’tova, v’tain tal umatar livrachah

During the winter, prayers for rain are added into the weekday Amidah. One of these additions is in the berachah “Barech Aleinu” (the blessing for sustenance) and the added wording is “v’tain tal umatar livrachah” - and give us dew and rain for blessing. However during the course of the previous over half a year, one has not made this addition and by habit one could err and not say it, or be doubtful whether one had said it. If one has not said it, one has to go back. However what is the rule if one is not sure whether one has made this addition? The answer is that if one has already said it 90 times, then one can assume that one has not made a mistake. However rather than wait for about a month until one has davened 90 times, one can say the words “v’et kol minai tevuata l’tova, v’tain tal umatar livrachah” 90 times in rapid succession. Having said this 90 times, should one be in doubt whether one had said this addition when subsequently saying the Amidah, one would not have to go back or repeat the Amidah.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 117:1, 114:8, 9

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Q. For what on Friday night does one use the bottom one and on Shabbat morning the top one?

A. On Friday night one cuts the bottom of the two Challot and on Shabbat morning the top one.

On each meal on Shabbat and Yom Tov, one makes “Hamotzi” over two loaves of bread (the “Challot”). The reason for two loaves is that a double portion of manna fell on Fridays. It is customary to cut the top loaf on all occasions, except Friday night when one cuts the bottom one.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 274:1 & Rema. Mishnah Berurah 274:1)

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Q. When did Zevulun read a Haftarah in Shul on a Friday afternoon?

A. When the fast of 10 Tevet occurred on Friday.

On Minchah on fast days one reads from the Torah and there is also a Haftarah. The only fast that can fall on Friday is 10 Tevet.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 550:3 Rema; Mishnah Berurah 550:10)

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Q. The Shulchan Aruch says that one should hurry up Shacharit on Yom Kippur in order not to delay the davening of Mussaf. In fact there is another day in the year when the problem is even more acute. When is it?

A. Simchat Torah.

The reason for hurrying up Shacharit is that one should begin Mussaf before the time for Minchah, otherwise there will be the problem of what to daven first – Mussaf or Minchah. This stems from the principle that when there is something which is frequent and something which is less frequent, the frequent takes priority. Since Minchah is said every day of the week but Mussaf only on Sabbaths and Festivals and Rosh Chodesh, Minchah would take priority over Mussaf. In practice however, on Yom Kippur almost every Shul has already started Mussaf before the time for Minchah. However on Simchat Torah, by the time one finishes the Hakafot with their accompanying dancing and all the numerous Aliyot in calling up the entire congregation (and possibly a Kiddush in the middle of it all!), it is already probably the time for Minchah!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 620:1; Mishnah Berurah 620:2; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 669:1 Rema)

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Q. What is the maximum number of times a Kohen can Duchan at different services on a particular day?

A. 4 times

This could occur in theory on Yom Kippur. In Israel there is Duchaning at Shacharit, Mussaf and Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur. However if a Kohen goes up to Duchan at Minchah on Yom Kippur, one does not tell him not to Duchan.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 129:1, 2, 622:4)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q.Which 5 successive paragraphs in the davening begin and end with the same words?

A. The 5 Tehilim of the “pesukei dezimrah” which follow Ashrei.

Following Ashrei, which is in the main Tehilim 145, the “pesukei dezimrah” continue with Tehilim 146 - 150, each of them beginning and ending with the word “Halleluyah”

(Siddur – Shacharit service.)

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Q. What is permitted on Shabbat and Yom Tov, yet forbidden on Chol Hamoed?

A. Having a non-Jewish contractor build a house for a Jew outside the Techum.

On Shabbat and Yom Tov (but not Chol Hamoed) it is forbidden to go more than about a kilometer outside the city boundaries. The boundary until where one may go is known as the Techum. For a number of reasons including “ma’arit ayin” (doing things which could appear to be forbidden), one may not employ non-Jewish workers to do work for a Jew on Shabbat, Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed. Since on Shabbat and Yom Tov one may not go outside the Techum, a question of “ma’arit ayin” cannot arise when a non-Jewish contractor builds a house for a Jew outside the Techum. However, since on Chol Hamoed one can leave the Techum, a Jew may not employ a non-Jewish contractor on these days.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 397:1, 543:2, Mishnah Berurah 543:4)

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Q. Why was Reuven at first reluctant when he was asked to be the Shliach Tzibur?

A. The Halachah says that only when pressed should one accept.

A person should not “push himself” to be the Shliach Tzibur in a Shul. The first time he is asked he should refuse, the second time he should prepare himself to get up from his seat and only on the third occasion go up to the Amud.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 53:16)

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Q. When is salt regarded as a product which grows from the ground?

A. In the laws of Imur on Shabbat.

One of the headings of forbidden work on Shabbat is “imur” (gathering together of produce). The prohibitions regarding imur only apply to things that grow from the ground. However, for the purpose of imur, salt is regarded by the Rabbis as something which grows from the ground (i.e. in salt mines)

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 340:9; Mishnah Berurah 340:36)

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Q. Where in the davening on a Yom Tov which occurs on Shabbat, does one conclude a berachah solely with “Mekadesh haShabbat”?

A. In the berachah “Me’ain Sheva”.

On Shabbat one concludes the middle berachah of the Amidah with the words “Mekadesh haShabbat” and on Yom-Tov “Mekadesh Yisrael vehazmanim”. On Friday night, including when Friday night is also Yom Tov, one says immediately after the Amidah, “Me’ain Sheva” – an abbreviated repetition of the Amidah. However one always concludes it with just the words “Mekadesh haShabbat”. The reason is that this is a prayer written specially for Shabbat.

(Siddur – Ma’ariv for Shabbat and Yom Tov; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 268:8, 9)

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Q. Why did Dinah never take Trumot and Ma’asarot from rice?

A. Because rice is not grown in Israel.

Produce grown in Israel in Jewish fields has to have Trumot and Ma’asarot taken from it. It happens that rice is not at present grown in Israel. Were it to be grown it would of course have to be tithed.

Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 331:1)

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Q. On Chanukah it is customary to eat cheese dishes. How is it possible to go through Chanukah and not be able to eat any cheese dishes?

A. One continually eats meat at intervals of less than 6 hours.

It is a custom to eat cheese dishes on Chanukah. This commemorates Yehudit who cut off the head of a wicked king by feeding him cheese dishes and wine until he fell asleep. After eating meat, one has to wait 6 hours before partaking of any milk dishes. Therefore if one were continually to eat meat throughout Chanukah in intervals of less than 6 hours, one would be precluded from keeping the custom of eating cheese dishes!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 670:2 Rema; Mishnah Berurah 670:10; Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 89:1)

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Q. On what days does one say Ashrei 4 times?

A. On the days when one says Selichot before Shacharit.

Every day of the year during the course of the davening, one says Ashrei three times. The Selichot (recited before Shacharit in the days before Rosh Hashanah and during the “aseret yemai teshuvah”), begins with Ashrei. Thus on these days Ashrei is said 4 times.

(Berachot 4b; Siddur - Shacharit and Minchah; Book of Selichot)

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Q. When cannot a Kohen or Levi receive Maftir?

A. At Minchah on fast days and at Shacharit on Tisha b’Av.

The first person called up to the Torah is a Kohen and immediately after him is a Levi. From then on, only a Yisrael is called up. On Shabbat and Yom Tov, the Maftir is additional to the obligatory number and so a Kohen or Levi can be called up for it. However, on the afternoon of Fast days and at the morning of Tisha b’Av, the Maftir is the third person called up and being part of the obligatory number, only a Yisrael can be called up for it.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 135:3; 282:4 & Rema, 566:1 Rema)

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Q. Why on an erev Shabbat was Reuven given the book (and it was not a mistake!) designated for the Barmitzvah boy Shimon, whose Barmitzvah was on that Shabbat?

A. Generally speaking, one may not give a present on Shabbat.

The Rabbis have forbidden giving a present on Shabbat since it resembles a business transaction and could lead to writing on Shabbat. However there are ways of giving a Barmitzvah boy his present on Shabbat. One way is by someone else receiving the present before Shabbat on the Barmitzvah boy’s behalf, even if the Barmitzvah boy does not know about it. It can then be given to the Barmitzvah boy on Shabbat, since technically he has received it before Shabbat.

(Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 29:29)

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Q. Apart from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when does one say “Avinu Malkeinu” but omit Tachanun?

A. The morning of erev Yom Kippur when it occurs on a Friday.

Avinu Malkeinu is said during the “aseret yemai teshuvah”, and on most fast days throughout the year. It is omitted when these days occur on Shabbat, Friday afternoon and erev Yom Kippur. When however the latter occurs on Friday, it is said at Shacharit - the reason being that Yom Kippur of that year will be on Shabbat and Avinu Malkeinu will only be said on that day at Ne’ilah. During the “aseret yemai teshuvah”, Tachanun is omitted on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Shabbat, Friday afternoon and erev Yom Kippur. It thus follows, that apart from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the only time one says Avinu Malkeinu but omits Tachanun is the morning of erev Yom Kippur when it occurs on a Friday.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 602:1 Rema, 604:2 Rema)

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Q. Why did Reuven’s father not worry when his son demanded an excessive ransom for the Afikoman?

A. If the Afikoman gets lost, one can take any other Shemurah Matzah and use it for the Afikoman.

Towards the beginning of the Seder, the middle Matzah is broken and the bigger portion (the Afikoman) is put away to be eaten as the last course of the meal. It is customary for the children to “steal” the Afikoman and demand a “ransom” for its return. There is however a halachah that should the Afikoman get lost, one can take another Shemurah Matzah in its place.
[But be careful – one’s son might get clever and hide all the Shemurah Matzot which are in the house!!]

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 473:6, 477:2 Rema)

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Q. How did Zechariah reach the age of Barmitzvah 23 hours before he completed his 13 years?

A. He was born at the end of a day. 13 years later he reached the age of Barmitzvah at the beginning of that day.

A boy reaches the age of Barmitzvah when he is 13 years old. There is a principle that part of day is regarded as a whole day. Therefore if a boy is born just before sunset on, for example 3 Kislev, then 13 years later when 3 Kislev begins at the previous nightfall, he will be 13 years old, even though on an hourly count, he is missing about 23 hours.

(Mishnah Berurah 55:42)

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Q. When, for a religious reason, did Dan return home and wake somebody up at 2 o’clock in the morning (i.e. 2 a.m.)?

A. When he returned home at 2 o’clock in the morning during Chanukah, no-one in the house was awake and he needed to light Chanukah candles.

At the beginning of each night during the 8 days of Chanukah, candles are lit. (On Shabbat of course, they are lit before the commencement of Shabbat.) They are lit in a place where people outside in the street or members of the household can see the lights. The reason is to proclaim the miracle of Chanukah (“pirsumei nisa”). If the hour is so late (such as 2 o’clock in the morning) that there is no-one in the street and the entire household is asleep, one cannot say a berachah over the lights. Therefore one should wake up a member of the family to watch the lighting of the candles.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 672:2 & Rema; Mishnah Berurah 672:11).

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Q. Why was Micha trapped up a tree for almost the entire Shabbat?

A. He, knowing that the Halachah forbade it, climbed up a tree towards the beginning of Shabbat.

One of the work prohibitions of Shabbat is “kotzer” (detaching something which grows from the ground). Since by climbing a tree, one can easily break off branches and twigs, the Rabbis forbade climbing a tree on Shabbat. Included in this prohibition is the “punishment” that if one knowing the law regarding climbing trees on Shabbat, still does so, one must remain in the tree till the termination of Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 336:1; Mishnah Berurah 336:7)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When does one say “Sephardim, go back; Ashkenazim, continue”?

A. If in the Amidah during the “aseret yemai teshuvah”, one says in error “Melech oheiv tzedaka umishpat”, Ashkenazim continue with the Amidah, whilst Sephardim must go back to this berachah.

Several changes are made in the Amidah during the “aseret yemai teshuvah”. If one erred, in some cases one must go back; in others one does not return. One of the changes made during these days is, instead of concluding one of the berachot. “Melech oheiv tzedaka umishpat,” one says “Hamelech hamishpat”. If one errs here there is a difference of opinion what to do. Ashkenazim continue with the Amidah, whilst Sephardim go back.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 582:1, 118:1 Rema.)

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Q. Why did Rabbi Zielin not give a Derashah on a certain Shabbat Hagadol?

A. That year Shabbat Hagadol occurred on erev Pesach.

It is an established custom for the Rabbi of a Shul to give a Derashah on Shabbat Hagadol, the Shabbat before Pesach. In it, the Rabbi talks about the laws of Pesach. However, when Pesach begins on a Sunday, some of the laws, such as the search for chametz, selling the chametz, kashering vessels, must be performed before Shabbat and it will thus be too late for the Rabbi to talk about them on that Shabbat. The Derashah is therefore advanced to the previous Shabbat.

(Mishnah Berurah 429:2)

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Q. What new clothes may be bought during “the 9 days”?

A. Non-leather shoes for Tisha b’Av.

During the 9 days (the first nine days of the month of Av), no new clothes may be bought, even such mundane clothes such as socks. On Tisha b’Av one may not wear leather shoes. If one does not possess non-leather shoes, one may buy such shoes for use on Tisha b’Av.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 551:7 Rema, Mishnah Berurah 551:49; Kaf Hachaim, Orach Chaim 551: 97, Igrot Moshe 3:80)

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Q. When does one say the extra Tehilim for Shabbat and Yom Tov but omit Nishmat?

A. On Hoshana Rabba

Towards the beginning of Shacharit are the “pesukei dezimrah”. On Shabbat and Yom Tov they are longer than on weekdays with a number of Tehilim being added before the paragraph “yehi chavod”. In addition, on Shabbat and Yom Tov, “Nishmat” is added before yishtabach. On Hoshana Rabba, these Tehilim are added before “yehi chavod” but “Nishmat” is not said.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 664:1 & Rema)

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Q. When were the Arba’at Haminim taken on Chanukah?

A. At the time of the Hasmoneans.

Because of the war with the Greeks, the Jews were not able to celebrate Sukkot at the proper time. Therefore, after they cleansed the Temple on 25 Kislev (which then became Chanukah), they celebrated Sukkot and took the Arba’at Haminim.

(Maccabees II 10: 5-7)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. How, for three and a half months in a year, can there be a difference in the Parashiot read in Israel and in the Diaspora?

A. When the 8th day of Pesach in the Diaspora occurs on Shabbat, in a Jewish leap year.

Throughout the year successive Parashiot of the Torah are read on Shabbat mornings. When however, a Festival or Chol Hamoed occurs on Shabbat, an alternative portion of the Torah is read. In Israel, Pesach is 7 days and in the Diaspora 8 days. If this 8th day occurs on Shabbat, in Israel the normal Parashah will be read, whereas in the Diaspora there will be the special leining for Pesach. As a result, Israel will be one Parashah ahead of the Diaspora. The only way for the Diaspora to catch up will be that when one comes to a double Parashah, in Israel it will be split up into two single Parashiot. In a leap year, the first double Parashah after Pesach will be Matot-Masei, but it is only read about three and a half months after Pesach.

(Luach D’var B’ito [“Achiezer” Bnei Brak] 5755)

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Q When does 7 become 1, and when does 3 become 1?

A. 7 becomes 1 in the prayer “Me’ain Sheva”
3 becomes 1 in the berachah “Me’ain Shalosh”

Normally the Amidah is not repeated at Ma’ariv. However on Friday night there is a form of repetition of the Amidah called “Me’ain Sheva” when the 7 berachot of the Amidah are “telescoped” into 1 berachah.
After eating bread, one must, according the Torah, say a full “Birchat Hamazon” comprised of 3 berachot from the Torah (plus one added by the Rabbis). After eating from the “seven species” (flour products, wine and certain fruits) one says a berachah called “Me’ain Shalosh” in which the 3 (plus one) berachot of “Birchat Hamazon” are made into 1 berachah; (for flour products it begins “al hamichya,” for wine, “al hagefen” and for certain fruits, “al haetz.”)

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 268:8, 208:1)

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Q. When is wool preferred for a garment?

A. In the Mitzvah of Tzitzit.

According to the Torah, a garment having 4 corners requires Tzitzit to be attached to each of the corners. Garments can be made of various materials - wool, cotton, linen, etc. Do they all require Tzitzit? Opinions are divided on this question, but all agree that according to the Torah, a garment made of wool requires Tzitzit.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 9:6)

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Q. Why on a certain Ta’anit Sheni Batra, did Binyamin who usually said the Selichot for that day, omit them?

A. Because it occurred on Pesach Sheni.

A few weeks after Pesach and Sukkot, there are three days - Monday, Thursday and the following Monday - designated as fasts, or in practice as days for saying Selichot. The reason for these days, is that due to levity during the week long Festivals, one might have come to sin. A day known as Pesach Sheni - a minor festival today - occurs on 14 Iyar, and should this clash with the second Monday, some omit the Selichot.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 492:1; Luach Eretz Yisrael, [Rav Tukachinski] 5765,”Iyar – Ta’anit Sheni Tanina”)

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Q. Which three numbers follow 13, 12, 11, 10, 9 in the Amidot for Mussaf recited on Sukkot (including Shemini Atzeret)?

A. 8, 7, 1.

During every Mussaf Amidah during the year, details of the Mussaf sacrifices are included. Generally they are not the same for the various Festivals. On the first day of Sukkot this sacrifice includes 13 cows. On successive days during Sukkot, the number of cows decreases by one each day. Thus on the sixth day, 8 cows are offered up and on the seventh day 7 cows. However on the eighth day which is known as Shemini Atzeret, and which is in fact a new Festival, not 6 cows are offered up but only 1.

(Machzor for Sukkot- Mussaf; Bamidbar 29:12-38)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. How did Yissachar fry an egg on Shabbat in a permitted way?

A. In the direct heat of the sun.

One of the categories of work forbidden on Shabbat is “ofeh” (baking/cooking). However this prohibition is limited to cooking by a man-made source of heat, e.g. oil, gas, electricity. Cooking by the direct heat of the sun is not included. Therefore, in theory at least, one can fry an egg by the heat of the sun on Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 318:3)

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Q. Why did Yossi prefer a wooden seat to a padded one in a train or bus?

A. In case there was Shaatnez in the material of the padded seat.

The Torah forbids the wearing of a garment containing both wool and linen. Such a mixture is known as Shaatnez. In addition, some people are particular not to sit on a seat containing Shaatnez.

(Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Be’er Heteiv 301:2; “The Chazon Ish” by Shimon Finkelman [Art Scroll History Series, Mesorah Publications] pp.164, 234)

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Q. What berachah did Akiva say when he saw “ROYGBIV”?

A. “Zocher Habrit …” - the berachah recited when seeing a rainbow.

After the flood, G-d promised Noach that he would not destroy the world in the future by flood and as a sign he gave the rainbow. When one sees a rainbow one must say the berachah “Zocher habrit, v’neeman bivrito v’kayom b’maamaro.”
The colours of the rainbow are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Their initial letters spell out ROYGBIV.

(Bereshit 9:8-17; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 229:1)

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Q. Where is Yom Kippur called Rosh Hashanah?

A. In the book of Yechezkel - “On Rosh Hashanah, on the tenth of the month [of Tishri].”

This is the only occasion in the whole of the Tenach where the expression “Rosh Hashanah” is used but it refers to Yom Kippur!

(Yechezkel 40:1.)

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Q. When does one not reply when spoken to by a king and when does one reply?

A. During the Amidah. To a Jewish king, one does not reply but to a non-Jewish king, if necessary one does.

The central prayer in every service is the Amidah. On weekdays it consists of 19 berachot and on Sabbaths and Festivals almost invariably 7 berachot. There are very strict laws regarding not speaking during the saying of the Amidah. If a Jewish king were to address someone, he would understand why he could not reply. With a non-Jewish king however, it could prove uncomfortable if not outright dangerous!

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 104:1)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. What is the difference between a miniscule insect and a caterpillar on a lettuce on Shabbat?

A. The miniscule insect cannot be removed, the caterpillar may.

The forbidden labour of “borer” (selecting) on Shabbat does not apply to big objects. An insect on a vegetable is miniscule; a caterpillar is relatively large and may therefore be removed.

(Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 3:36)

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Q. When in some years does one say Tachanun on every day of a particular month (except Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh) whereas in other years one does not?

A. In Shevat, when Tu biShevat occurs on Shabbat.

Tachanun is a supplicatory prayer said after the Amidah on most week days during the year. On almost all days which have some special significance, Tachanun is omitted. One of these days is Tu biShevat - the 15th Shevat, the New Year for Trees. This is the only occasion during the month of Shevat when Tachanun is omitted. Should Tu biShevat occur on Shabbat in any particular year, then Tachanun in any case is not said and Tachanun will thus be said every day of that month except Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:6)

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Q. Which Haftarah has the most verses?

A. The Haftarah for Parashat Beshalach.

Every Shabbat and Yom Tov morning and on a few other occasions during the year, a Haftarah, which is a reading from the Nevi’im, directly follows the leining. These Haftarot vary considerably in length from each other. The longest is for Parashat Beshalach and it is 52 verses long.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 284:1; Shoftim 4:4 – 5:31)

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Q. When did Sa’adia, who was a Sepharadi say a berachah over Hallel on Rosh Chodesh?

A. On Rosh Chodesh Tevet

Whole Hallel is recited on the first day(s) of Yom Tov of Pesach, Shavuot, every day during Sukkot and every day during Chanukah. Half Hallel is recited on the last six days of Pesach and Rosh Chodesh. Everyone says a berachah over whole Hallel. In the case of half Hallel, Ashkenazim say a berachah whereas Sephardim do not. Rosh Chodesh Tevet occurs during Chanukah and even Sephardim will thus say a berachah before reciting Hallel on that Rosh Chodeshv (Arachin10a-b; Ta’anit 28b; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 422:2 Rema)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Which prayers, which are special for Shabbat, are recited every Shabbat throughout the year without exception?

A. 1. Mizmor Shir Leyom haShabbat during Kabbalat Shabbat
2. Vayechulu after the Ma’ariv Amidah
3. Kel Adon
4. Yekum Purkun

1. Following Lecha Dodi on Friday night, “Mizmor Shir Leyom haShabbat” is recited. Although many Shuls omit Lecha Dodi and the Tehilim preceding it when Shabbat occurs on Yom Tov, Chol Hamoed or immediately after Yom Tov, one always says “Mizmor Shir Leyom haShabbat”.
2. Even when Shabbat occurs on Yom Tov, “Vayechulu” is recited after the Ma’ariv Amidah.
3. On every weekday throughout the year, even if it is a Festival, one says the berachah “Hamayir Laaretz” after Borachu in Shacharit. On Shabbat however, this is always replaced by “Hakol Yoducha” and then “Kel Adon.”
4. Following the Haftarah on every Shabbat during the year, “Yekum Purkun” is recited.

(Siddur – Shabbat services; Machzorim for the different Festivals)

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Q. Why could Yocheved eat Parev foods but not milky or meaty foods?

A. It was at the beginning of the “nine days” (at beginning of the month of Av) and she had just eaten a meaty meal. (Likewise after Shabbat during the “nine days.”)

The two Temples were both destroyed on the 9 Av. Because of this, a number of rules of mourning were instituted during the 9 days from the beginning of Av until after 9 Av. One of them is not eating meat during this period, except for Shabbat. There is also a rule that after eating meat, one must wait a period of time, (according to most authorities - 6 hours), before partaking of milk foods. Therefore, if just before the beginning of the 9 days, or towards the end of Shabbat during these 9 days, one has partaken of meat, one will not be able to eat even milk foods at the beginning of the 9 days or after the termination of Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 551:9; Yoreh Deah 89:1)

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Q. What use can one make of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah occurring on Shabbat which one cannot do when it occurs on a weekday?

A. Use it as a cup for drinking.

When Rosh Hashanah occurs on a weekday, the Shofar is blown. The Shofar is therefore set aside for the Mitzvah of blowing it and it cannot be used for any other purpose. When Rosh Hashanah is however on Shabbat, there is no blowing and it can therefore be used for other purposes, such as a cup for drinking! (One would of course have to close up the narrow open end with one’s finger!)

(Mishnah Berurah 588:15)

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Q. Which four books in the Tenach, all of which are read during the Shul service, does one “go back” after reaching the end of the book?

A. Yeshayahu, Malachi, Eichah, Kohelet.

These 4 books of the Tenach end on a bad note. Since we do not like to finish off anything on a bad note, after reading the last verse we again read the verse preceding it. During the course of the year, all four of them are read as part of the Shul service - two of them as Haftarot and the other two as Megillot.

(Tenach)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When on a Wednesday or Thursday should one not “rely” on one’s Rabbi?

A. For the making of Eruv Tavshillin.

On Shabbat, cooking is strictly forbidden. On Yom Tov it is permitted for that day alone. What then can one do when Yom Tov occurs on Friday? How can one have fresh cooked food for Shabbat? This is done by performing a ceremony known as Eruv Tavshillin - in which one takes a cooked dish and bread on the day before Yom Tov (which for this Mitzvah will always be a Wednesday or Thursday) and making a certain declaration. Although the Rabbi of the town includes in his Eruv Tavshillin, all the inhabitants of his town, this is only for people who genuinely have themselves forgotten to make it. A person may not deliberately rely on his Rabbi in this matter.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 527:1, 2, 7)

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Q. When on Yom Tov is it obligatory to have a Seudah Shlishit?

A. When Yom Tov occurs on Shabbat.

On Shabbat it is obligatory to eat 3 meals. On Yom Tov, 2 meals are sufficient. Obviously when Yom Tov occurs on Shabbat, three meals are required.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 291:1, 529:1)

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Q. On which Shabbat Mevorachin does one always take out 2 Sifrei Torah?

A. Nissan.

On the last Shabbat of each month (except Elul), before returning the Torah to the Ark, the blessing for the coming month is recited. Such a Shabbat is thus known as “Shabbat Mevorachin.” When Rosh Chodesh Nissan occurs on a weekday, Shabbat Mevorachin is Shabbat Parashat Hachodesh. When however Rosh Chodesh occurs on Shabbat, Shabbat Mevorachin will be Parashat Parah. On both these Shabbatot, 2 Sifrei Torah are taken out.

(Siddur - Shabbat Shacharit; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski] 5766 “Parashat Hachodesh”, 5758 “Parashat Parah”)

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Q. What is the minimum period of time to finish the “shloshim” after the death of a relative?

A. Six days.

After a close relative dies, there is first of all a period of mourning lasting seven days, known as the “shiva”. This is followed by a period of 23 days, making a total of 30 days - “shloshim”. However should a Festival begin during these two periods, then such a period will be immediately terminated. When a burial takes place on erev Yom Kippur, the shiva will end with Yom Kippur and 5 days later the shloshim will end at the commencement of Sukkot.

(Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 399:10)

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Q. Why did Reuven say a berachah over food which he knew not to be kosher?

A. He was eating it for “Pikuach Nefesh”.

Before eating any item of food or drink, one has to make a berachah. Should however one eat a food which is not kosher, such as pork, shell fish, non-kosher cakes or non-kosher confectionery, one does not make a berachah. However if one is seriously ill and one requires to eat such foods to become healthy, then it is permitted, even obligatory, to eat such forbidden foods in order to recover. This is known as “pikuach nefesh.” In such a case ones says a berachah over these forbidden foods.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 196:1, 2, 204:9; Mishnah Berurah 204:47)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. Why was Tachanun said in a Shul at Minchah, even though they had not said it at Shacharit that very same day?

A. At Shacharit that day, there had been present in the Shul a Chatan and he was not present at Minchah.

The Tachanun prayer is said at Shacharit and Minchah each weekday unless it is a special day in the Jewish year: For example: Tu biShevat, Purim, Lag b’Omer. It is also omitted when there is present in the Shul a Chatan - a man who has got married during the previous seven days. Thus if the Chatan was present at Shacharit but not Minchah, Tachanun would only be recited at the Minchah service that day.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:4)

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Q. What is the maximum and minimum number of days during Chanukah that one can say Mussaf?

A. Maximum – 4; Minimum - 2

During Chanukah, Mussaf is said on Shabbat Chanukah and on Rosh Chodesh Tevet which always occurs during Chanukah. Since Chanukah is 8 days long, there can be two Shabbatot during Chanukah. The month of Kislev has either 29 or 30 days. When there are 30 days in a month, Rosh Chodesh is on the 30th day and on the 1st day of the new month; when there are 29 days, it is only on the 1st day of the next month. For Chanukah itself, there is no Mussaf, since there was no Mussaf sacrifice specifically for Chanukah.
The maximum number of days during Chanukah that one can say Mussaf is 4. This occurs when the first and last days occur on Shabbat and there are 2 days Rosh Chodesh Tevet. The minimum number of days is 2. There are two possibilities for this: i) when Rosh Chodesh Tevet occurs on Shabbat and Sunday, ii) when Shabbat is not Rosh Chodesh, nor the first and last days, and there is just one day Rosh Chodesh Tevet. [Note: If there is just one day Rosh Chodesh Tevet, due to the principles of the calendar, it cannot occur on Shabbat. Thus the minimum number of days for saying Mussaf during Chanukah cannot be 1.]

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 286:2, 423:3, 428:2)

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Q. What is the maximum number of consecutive days on which one does not lay Tephillin (under normal circumstances)?

A. For those who lay Tephillin on Chol Hamoed: 3
For those who do not lay Tephillin on Chol Hamoed: 8 in Israel
10 in the Diaspora

Tephillin must be put on every day with the exception of Shabbat and Festivals. Regarding Chol Hamoed, there are different opinions. In Israel, no-one lays Tephillin on Chol Hamoed.
For those who lay Tephillin on Chol Hamoed:
When a Festival occurs on Thursday and Friday or on Sunday and Monday, the maximum number of days will be 3.
For those who do not lay Tephillin on Chol Hamoed:
In Israel: For Sukkot in every year, and for Pesach beginning on Shabbat or Sunday, the maximum number of days will be 8. (Sukkot cannot begin on a Friday or Sunday and so the number cannot increase to 9).
In the Diaspora: When Sukkot begins on a Thursday, Simchat Torah will be on day 9 which is a Friday. Thus the maximum number of days will be 10.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 31:1, 2 & Rema)

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Q. Why did Tzuriel say the berachah “Hamotzi” over cake?

A. He intended eating a very large quantity of it.

The berachah over bread is “Hamotzi” and over cake “Mezonot.” However should, for example, one intend to eat a large quantity of cake, which others would make a whole meal of, one would then have to wash one’s hands beforehand, say the berachah “Hamotzi” over the cake and the entire “Birchat Hamazon” after eating this large quantity of cake.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 168:6)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When was Sarah permitted on Yom Kippur to smell a fruit which was attached to the tree?

A. When Yom Kippur occurred on a weekday.

Picking something which is attached to the ground is forbidden on Shabbat. Because of this, on Shabbat the Rabbis forbade one to smell a fruit on a tree in case one came to pick it in order to eat it. This prohibition does not apply when Yom Kippur occurs on a weekday, since one cannot eat the fruit. It does however apply when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, in case one would come to do likewise on another Shabbat.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 336:10; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 26: footnote 72)

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Q. When are the berachot recited after a Haftarah the longest?

A. On the morning of Yom Kippur occurring on Shabbat.

Following any Haftarah, at least 3 berachot are recited. On Shabbat and Yom Tov there is an additional berachah, the wording depending on whether it is Shabbat or a Yom Tov. When a Yom Tov occurs on Shabbat, a number of words relating to Shabbat are contained in this berachah. This berachah is the longest on Yom Kippur morning and when it occurs on Shabbat it includes these additional words, making it even longer.

(Machzor for Yom Kippur – end of Shacharit)

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Q. On which day of the year does one, in some years say Hallel, and in other years Tachanun?

A. 3 Tevet.

Chanukah begins on 25 Kislev and always lasts 8 days. Every day during Chanukah, one says the whole Hallel and omits Tachanun. The latter is resumed on the day after Chanukah. Since in some years, the month of Kislev has 30 days and in others 29 days, the last day of Chanukah will occur on either 2 or 3 Tevet. In the former case Tachanun and not Hallel will be said on 3 Kislev, and in the latter case the opposite.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 683:1, 131:6; Luach l’Eretz Yisrael [Rav Tukachinski] – at end of Chanukah)

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Q. When are there 20 berachot in the weekday Amidah?

A. In the Shliach Tzibur’s repetition of the Amidah at both Shacharit and Minchah on a Fast Day.

The normal weekday Amidah has 19 berachot. However when the Shliach Tzibur repeats the Amidah on a Fast Day, he adds a berachah “Aneinu” before the berachah “Refoeinu” thus increasing the Amidah to 20 berachot,

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 566:1; Siddur – Shacharit and Minchah for weekdays)

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Q. When did Zevulun shorten the length of “Birchat Hamazon” day by day for 4 successive days?

A. When Shabbat Chanukah occurred on Rosh Chodesh Tevet.

On Shabbat ones adds “retzai” in “Birchat Hamazon”; on Rosh Chodesh “ya’aleh v’yavo”; on Chanukah “al hanisim.” When Shabbat Chanukah occurs on Rosh Chodesh Tevet – (it has to be the first day of Rosh Chodesh since 1 Tevet cannot fall on Shabbat) – then on that Shabbat one has all these three additions. On the following day, namely the 2nd day of Rosh Chodesh – 1 Tevet – one adds just two of them – “ya’aleh v’yavo” and “al hanisim”. The following day is the 8th day of Chanukah and the only addition is “al hanisim”. The day after is an ordinary weekday with no additions.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 188:5; 187:4 Rema)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. On which Shabbat Amidah does one omit “retzai bimnuchatenu, kadsheinu b’mitzvotecha….”?

A. The Mussaf Amidah for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh.

The final paragraph of the fourth berachah of any Amidah said on Shabbat, even if it is also a Yom Tov, is “retzai bimnuchatenu, kadsheinu b’mitzvotecha….” The only exception is the Mussaf Amidah for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, when these words (which all in all are several lines of print!) are absent. It has been suggested that at some time in the past they were accidentally missed out and they were never replaced. Indeed there have been suggestions to replace them!

(Siddur - Amidot for Shabbat and Yom-Tov; Aruch Hashulchan Orach Chaim 425:2)

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Q. How did Amos (according to some opinions) avoid observing Purim and not transgress the Halachah?

A. He traveled from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv during the daytime of 14 Adar and remained there till the following day.

Purim is celebrated in non-walled cities (such as Tel-Aviv) on 14 Adar. However, in cities, such as Jerusalem, which were walled at the time of Yehoshua bin Nun, it is celebrated on the 15 Adar. Numerous questions and discussions arise regarding people traveling between these two types of cities on 14 and 15 Adar as to when they should celebrate Purim. According to some opinions if one were to travel during the daytime of 14 Adar from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv and remain there till the following day, one would be exempt from Purim.
(Needless to say, this is not the proper way to act!!)

(Har Tzvi,(Responsa of Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank), Orach Chaim, volume 2, chapter 628, summary, paragraph 11) *********************************************************************

Q. When did Nechemiah (who davened “Nusach Ashkenaz”) say “Amen” after his own Berachah?

A. After saying “bonei brachamov Yerushalayim” in Birchat Hamazon.

The first 3 berachot of Birchat Hamazon are from the Torah. The 4th berachah is a Rabbinical enactment. One thus says “Amen” after the end of the 3rd berachah to indicate the separation between the Torah and the Rabbinical berachot.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 188:1; Mishnah Berurah 215:4)

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Q. When and what is the largest number of verses leined for a single Aliyah?

A. Revi’i of the joined Parashiot Matot-Masei – 72 verses.

There are some weeks in the year, especially in a non-leap year when two Parashiot are read and in such a case, they are always joined together at revi’i. Since 2 Parashiot are read, the total number of verses being read that Shabbat are almost always greater than with the reading of a single Parashah. Matot-Masei are the last two Parashiot in the book of Bamidbar.

(Mishnah Berurah 282:5; Bamidbar 32:20 - 33:49)

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Q. When might Channah say the berachah “borei minei mezonot” over bread?

A. (For example) When she breaks the bread into pieces each smaller than a “kezayit” and then cooks the bread,

The berachah over bread is “Hamotzi” and over cake “Mezonot.” However bread can lose its “status” in various manners. One of them is to first break the bread into pieces each of which is less than a “kezayit” (the size of an olive - about the volume of a matchbox today). The bread is then cooked (but not baked) in a saucepan over the stove. It will then be regarded like “cake” whose berachah is “mezonot”.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 168:10)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. On which occasion during the year do some Shuls interrupt the Kriyat haTorah to read a Piyut?

A. On (the first day of) Shavuot to read “Akdomut.”

Akdomut is a Piyut written by R’ Meir ben R’ Yitzchak nearly one thousand years ago in the city of Worms and its language is Aramaic. It used to be recited in most places after the first verse of the leining on (the first day of) Shavuot. However today most Shuls read it before the Kohen recites the berachot over the Torah.

(Machzor for Shavuot – beginning of leining (for first day); Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Be’er Heteiv 494:2)

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Q. When did Yankel shave 2 days before Lag b’Omer?

A. When Lag b’Omer occurred on a Sunday.

The Gemara states that 24,000 pupils of Rabbi Akiva died between Pesach and Shavuot. Because of that, it has become customary not to marry or cut one’s hair during a part of that period. There are differing customs as to which part of the Omer these restrictions apply. However all the various customs include the weeks before Lag b’Omer – the 33rd day of the Omer. When however Lag b’Omer (a day during the Omer when these restrictions don’t apply) falls on a Sunday, one may cut one’s hair on the previous Friday, in honour of Shabbat.

(Yevamot 62b; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 493:1, 2 & Rema)

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Q. Which is the only Haftarah always read on a Shabbat, which comes from the book of Yehoshua?

A. The Haftarah for Parashat Shelach Lecha.

Every Shabbat and Yom Tov, following the leining, a portion is read from the Nevi’im, which is known as the Haftarah. Although during the course of the year the Haftarot are read from all of the books of the Nevi’im, the vast majority come from the latter Nevi’im, in particular from the prophet Yeshayahu. In contrast there are only 3 which come from the book of Yehoshua, two of which are read on Yom Tov (Simchat Torah and the 1st day of Pesach) and only one which is always read on a Shabbat (Parashat Shelach Lecha).

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Q. For which month during some years was Motty Klein, a caterer for Barmitzvahs, without any work?

A. Adar Rishon – if 13 years earlier was a non leap year.

A boy reaches Barmitzvah age on the date he becomes 13 years old. But what happens when a boy is born in the month of Adar in a Jewish non leap year and 13 years later it is a leap year – namely there is both Adar Rishon and Adar Sheni? In such a case, his Barmitzvah is in Adar Sheni, since only then is he considered to have completed 13 years of his life. Thus in such a year there will be no Barmitzvahs in Adar Rishon.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 55:10 Rema)

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Q. When does one have 7 successive Readings of the Torah, without missing a day, without reciting Hallel?

A. When Rosh Hashanah occurs on Thursday and Friday.

Included in the occasions when one has Kriyat haTorah are Rosh Hashanah morning, Shabbat morning and afternoon, Fast of Gedaliah morning and afternoon, and Monday morning. On none of these occasions does one say Hallel. When Rosh Hashanah occurs on Thursday and Friday there is a total of 2 Readings of the Torah; the next day is Shabbat with a further 2 Readings; the following day is the Fast of Gedaliah (postponed from Shabbat) with 2 Torah readings.; the next day is Monday with its Reading. Thus we have a total of 7 Readings of the Torah without having said Hallel.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 584:2, 601:1, 282:1, 292:1, 566:1, 135:1)

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THERE IS A GLOSSARY OF HEBREW TERMS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

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Q. When during the period of the Omer did Menashe answer his friend’s question in an indirect manner?

A. When (prior to his own counting) he was asked one night “how many do we count tonight in the Omer?”

Every night from the 2nd night of Pesach until Shavuot one counts the Omer. To keep this Mitzvah, it is sufficient to just say (for example) “Today is the third day.” There is a dispute whether when counting the Omer, one must have the intention of fulfilling the Mitzvah. If the answer is in the negative, then (prior to one’s own counting) by answering one’s friend “Today is the third day.” one fulfills the Mitzvah and so cannot subsequently count that night with a berachah. To avoid this problem one answers one’s friend “Last night was the second day.”

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 489:1, 4)

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One can go on and on composing questions such as these – but as with all things, one has to stop somewhere!!

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GLOSSARY

Should the explanation of Hebrew word(s) used in this book include another Hebrew word, it will be written in italics and it will be found elsewhere in this Glossary.

Adar -- Month in the Jewish calendar when Purim occurs
Adar Rishon and Adar Sheni -- The two months in a Jewish leap year in place of Adar
Afikoman -- Matzah which is eaten as last item at Passover Seder
Akdomut -- Liturgical poem recited on Pentecost before Reading the Torah
Akeidah -- Chapter in the Torah dealing with the “Binding of Isaac”
Al achilat Maror -- Blessing over the bitter herbs at the Sede r service
Al achilat Matzah -- Blessing over Matzah at the Seder service
Al biur Chametz -- Blessing made before the search for Chametz on the night before Passover
Al Hanisim -- Prayer recited on Chanukah and Purim
Aleinu -- Prayer recited at the end of almost every service
Aliya -- A term used to designate a person being called up to the Reading of the Torah
Ama (plural: Amot) -- Linear measurement (about half a metre) used in Jewish law
Amidah (plural: Amidot) -- Silent prayer recited at every service
Amud -- Lectern at which the Reader in the Synagogue stands
Aneinu -- Prayer added in the Amidah on most Fast days
Apocrypha -- A number of books which were not included in the Jewish Bible
Aravot -- Twigs of willows – one of the “Four Species” taken on the Festival of Tabernacles
Arba’at Haminim -- The Four Species taken on the Festival of Tabernacles
Asara b’Tevet -- Fast of 10th Tevet
Aseret hadibrot -- The Ten Commandments
Aseret yemai teshuvah -- Ten days of Penitence which occur from the Jewish New Year until the Day of Atonement
Ashkenazim -- Jews coming from European countries
Ashrei -- Psalm 145 together with a few other verses from Psalms, which is recited daily
twice during the Morning service and once at the start of the Afternoon service.
Avinu Malkeinu -- Prayer added on the Ten days of Penitence and on Fast days
Avodah -- Term used for the service of the High Priest in the Temple on the Day of Atonement
Ba’al Koreh (plural: Ba’alei Koreh) -- Man who reads from the Torah during the Synagogue service
Bamidbar -- Biblical book of Numbers
Barmitzvah -- Boy reaching the age of 13
Baruch Ata HaShem -- First words of almost every Blessing
Berachah -- (plural: Berachot) -- Blessing which is recited at different occasions
Bereshit -- Biblical book of Genesis
Birchat hailanot -- Blessing recited when one sees fruit trees blooming during the month of Nissan
Birchat Hamazon -- Grace after Meals after eating bread
Birchat Kohanim -- Blessing the congregation by the Kohanim – Duchaning
Borachu -- Very short prayer said mainly during the Evening and Morning services
Borei minei mezonot -- Blessing said over flour products
Brit Milah - - Ritual circumcision
Challot -- Bread eaten (specially) on Shabbat
Chametz -- Leaven food which may not be eaten on Passover
Chamishi -- 5th person called up to the Reading of the Torah
Chanukah -- Eight day Festival when an increasing number of candles are lit on each successive night – hence the expression “Feast of Lights”
Chatan -- Bridegroom
Chol Hamoed -- Intermediate days of the Festivals of Passover and Tabernacles
Chumash -- The Torah
Daven, Davening -- Praying
Derashah -- Religious discourse, given by (amongst others) the Rabbi or a Barmitzvah boy
Devarim -- Biblical book of Deuteronomy
Duchan -- Blessing of the congregation by Kohanim during the Synagogue service
Eichah -- Biblical book of Lamentations recited on the Fast of Ninth of Av
Elul -- Month of the Jewish calendar occurring before the New Year
Eretz Yisrael -- Land of Israel
Erev Pesach -- Day before Pesach
Erev Shabbat -- Day before Shabbat (i.e. Friday)
Erev Tisha b’Av - Day before Tisha b’Av
Erev Yom Kippur -- Day before Yom Kippur
Eruv Tavshillin -- Ceremony made when a Festival occurs on a Friday to enable one to cook for the Sabbath
Eruv -- Popularly used to designate area in which one may carry on the Sabbath
Etrog -- Citron (similar to a lemon) which is taken as one of the “Four Species” on the Festival of Tabernacles
Gabbai -- Synagogue official who is in charge of deciding who gets called up to the Torah or who leads the services
Gemara -- The major part of the Talmud
Hadassim -- Twigs of myrtle which is taken as one of the “Four Species” on the Festival of Tabernacles
Haftarah (plural: Haftarot) -- Reading from the Prophets following the Reading of the Torah on the mornings of Sabbaths and Festivals
Hagadah -- Book from which the Passover Seder is read
Hakafot -- Circuits made with the Sifrei Torah on Simchat Torah
Halachah -- Jewish law
Halachah leMoshe miSinai -- Laws handed to Moses on Mount Sinai but do not appear
directly in the Torah
Hallel -- Psalms 113-118 which are recited on certain Festivals during the Morning service
Hamavdil -- Main blessing of the Havdalah ceremony
Hamotzi -- Blessing before eating bread
Havdalah -- Ceremony made using wine, spices and a light at the termination of Sabbaths and only wine at the termination of Festivals
Hoshana Rabba -- 7th day of the Festival of Tabernacles
Isru Chag -- The day after the Festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles
Kabbalat Shabbat -- Synagogue Service for the Inauguration of the Sabbath
Kaddish -- Prayer taking various formats recited during the course of all Synagogue Services
Kaddish d’Rabbanon -- One of the various formats of the Kaddish which is recited after learning in public
Kapparot -- Symbolic ceremony performed on the day before the Day of Atonement
Karet -- A severe Heavenly punishment
Karpas -- Vegetable which is dipped in salt water towards the beginning of the Passover Seder
Kashering -- Making non-Kosher crockery, cutlery etc. Kosher, or fit to be used on Passover
Kedushah -- Addition during the Reader’s repetition of the 3rd blessing of every Amidah
Kelim -- Eating utensils
Kezayit -- The size of an olive – taken as about the volume of a matchbox today
Kiddush -- Prayer made over wine before most meals on Sabbaths and Festivals
Kiddush Levanah -- Prayer blessing the Creator of the Moon recited each month
Kislev -- Month in Jewish calendar in which Chanukah occurs
Kohelet -- Biblical book Ecclesiastes
Kohen (plural: Kohanim) -- Jew who is descended in the direct male line from the Biblical Aaron
Kohen Gadol -- High Priest chosen from amongst the other Kohanim
Korban Pesach -- Paschal lamb sacrifice
Korbanot -- Sacrifices which were offered up in the Temple in Jerusalem
Kriyat haTorah -- Reading from the Torah during the Synagogue service
Lag b’Omer -- 33rd day of the Omer
Lecha Dodi -- Liturgical poem recited during the Inauguration of the Sabbath service
Lechu Neranana -- First words of Kabbalat Shabbat
Lein, Leining -- Reading of the Torah in the synagogue
Levi -- Jew descended in the male line from the tribe of Levi (and who is not a Kohen)
Ma’ariv -- Evening service
Maftir -- Last Reading from the Torah on Sabbath and Festival mornings. It is always followed by a Haftarah
Mah Nishtanah -- The 4 questions asked by the child at the Passover Seder
Malachi -- Last of the “Minor Prophets” in the Bible
Marcheshvan -- Month in the Jewish calendar
Masechet -- A Tractate of the Talmud
Mashiv Haruach, Barech Aleinu, and V’tain Tal Umatar -- Changes made in the Amidah during the winter in order to pray for rain
Matzah (plural: Matzot) -- Unleavened bread eaten during Passover
Me’ain Shalosh -- Blessing recited after eating flour products, wine and certain fruits
Me’ain Sheva -- Abbreviated repetition of the Amidah recited on the Evening service of Sabbaths
Megillah -- Usually refers to the Book of Esther which is read on Purim
Melave Malka -- Meal eaten after termination of Sabbath
Mezonot – see Borei minei mezonot
Mezuzah (plural: Mezuzot) -- Scrolls attached to every door post which contain two portions from the Torah
Mikva -- Ritual bath
Minchah -- Afternoon service
Minyan -- Ten adult males who have to be present in a Synagogue in order to say certain prayers
Mishloach Manot -- Two food items that must be sent to a friend on Purim
Mitzvah (plural: Mitzvot) -- A commandment
Mizmor Letodah -- Psalm 100 which is recited during the pesukei dezimrah on almost every weekday
Mohel -- Person performing ritual circumcisions
Moshe or Moshe Rabbeinu -- Biblical Moses
Motzaei Shabbat -- Termination of the Sabbath
Muktzah -- Objects which may not be moved on Sabbaths and Festivals
Mussaf -- Additional service recited mainly on Sabbaths and Festivals
Ne’ilah -- Concluding service on the Day of Atonement
Nevi’im -- Prophetical books of the Bible
Nishmat -- Addition towards the end of the pesukei dezimrah on Sabbaths and Festivals
Nissan -- Month in the Jewish year when Passover occurs
Omer – see Sefirat haOmer
Pagum -- Blemished
Parashah (plural: Parashiot) -- Portion of the Torah read during the Synagogue service on Sabbath morning
Parashat …. -- Every Parashah has a name taken from one of its first words (e.g. Parashat Yitro)
Parev -- Food which is neither milk nor meat
Pesach -- Festival of Passover
Pesach Sheni -- The “Second Passover” which was observed in Temple times a month after Passover
Pesukei dezimrah -- Psalms and verses of Praise to the Almighty recited towards the beginning of the Morning service
Pidyan Haben -- Ceremony of Redeeming of the First born if a boy
Pikuach Nefesh -- Saving of life. This overrides almost every law in the Torah
Pirsumei nisa -- Proclaiming a miracle – an example is lighting the Chanukah candles in front of the window in order to proclaim the miracle which occurred with the oil in the Temple
Piyut (plural: Piyutim) -- Liturgical Poem
Pizmon -- Liturgical poem with a refrain
Possul -- Expression used when an object is disqualified for a ritual use
Purim -- Feast of Lots which commemorates the Jews’ victory over Haman as recounted in the Book of Esther. Haman drew lots to decide on which day to kill the Jews and hence the name “Feast of Lots”
Rambam -- Moses Maimonides – a great Rabbi who lived in the 12th century
Rav -- Rabbi
Retza i -- Addition to Grace after Meals made on Sabbaths
Revi’i -- 4th person called up to the Reading of the Torah
Revi’it – Minimum quantity of a liquid (at least 86mls) required for certain Mitzvot
Rosh Chodesh -- Beginning of New Month in Jewish calendar
Rosh Hashanah -- Jewish New Year
Sandak -- Person holding the baby during a circumcision
Schach -- Roof of the Sukkah which is made of flora
Seder -- Service in the home on the first night(s) of Passover
Sefer Torah (plural: Sifrei Torah) -- Handwritten Torah
Sefirat haOmer -- Daily counting of the 49 days between Passover and Pentecost
Selichot -- Penitential Prayers recited mainly during the days before the Jewish New Year and thereafter until the Day of Atonement
Sepharadi -- Jews generally from Oriental countries
Seudah -- A meal – usually used for a festive meal
Seudat Mitzvah -- Meal given on a religious occasion, such as a wedding, Barmitzvah or Brit Milah
Seudat Purim -- Special festive meal eaten during the day of Purim
Shaatnez -- Garment containing both wool and linen
Shabbat -- Jewish Sabbath
Shabbat Hagadol -- Sabbath before Passover
Shabbat Mevorachin -- The last Shabbat of a month at which the following month is blessed
Shabbat Shuva -- Sabbath between the New Year and the Day of Atonement
Shacharit -- Morning service
Shamash -- Sexton in a Synagogue . Another meaning: the candle used to light all the Chanukah candles
Shavuot -- Festival of Pentecost
Shehecheyanu -- Blessing of praise recited at start of Festival or on eating a new fruit or wearing a new garment
Shema -- Prayer containing three passages from the Torah recited during the Evening and Morning services
Shemini Atzeret - Festival occurring immediately after the Festival of Tabernacles. [It is popularly called the 8th day of Tabernacles, but strictly this is incorrect.]
Shemot -- Biblical book of Exodus
Shemura Matzah -- Specially baked Matzot which are eaten at Passover Seder
Shevat -- Month in Jewish calendar
Shevi’i -- 7th person called up to the Reading of the Torah
Shir Hama’a lot Mimaamakim -- Psalm 130. It is added to the morning service during the Ten days of Penitence
Shir Hashirim -- Biblical book “Song of Solomon”
Shir shel Yom -- Psalm recited at the end of the Morning service which is specific for a particular day of the week
Shishi -- 6th person called up to the Reading of the Torah
Shiur -- A Torah lesson
Shiva -- First week of mourning for a close relative
Shliach Tzibur -- Reader at a Synagogue service
Shloshim -- 30 days of mourning following the death of a close relative
Shofar -- Ram’s horn blown mainly on the Jewish New Year
Shul -- Synagogue
Siddur (plural: Siddurim) -- Prayer book
Simchat Torah -- Rejoicing of the Law -. Last day of the Festival of Tabernacles
Sivan -- Month in the Jewish calendar in which Pentecost occurs
Siyum -- Celebration made when one finishes usually a Tractate of the Talmud
Sukkah -- Temporary hut lived in during the Festival of Tabernacles
Sukkot -- Festival of Tabernacles
Ta’anit Esther -- Fast of Esther which is observed on the day before Purim
Ta’anit Shaini Batra -- Last of three fasts which some are accustomed to fast after the Festivals of Passover and Tabernacles
Tachanun -- Supplicatory prayer said immediately after the Amidah of the Morning and Afternoon services on most days of the year
Tallit -- Garment with Tzitzit worn by men during the Morning service
Talmud – A multi-volume book containing Rabbinic discussions on all aspects of Jewish law
Techum -- Boundary as to how far one may walk outside the city limits on Sabbaths and Festivals
Tefillah (plural: Tefillot) -- Daily prayers
Tehilim -- Biblical book of Psalms
Tenach -- Entire Jewish Bible
Tephillin -- Phylacteries – Black boxes containing 4 portions from the Torah worn by men during the weekday Morning service.
Tevet -- Month in the Jewish calendar
Tisha b’Av - - Fast of 9th of Av commemorating the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem
Tishri -- Month in the Jewish calendar when the New Year, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles occur
Toiveling -- Immersing certain items of eating and cooking utensils in a ritual bath
Torah -- Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses. A Torah scroll used in the Synagogue service is a handwritten copy of the entire Pentateuch
Trumot and Ma’asarot -- Tithes taken from produce grown in Eretz Yisrael
Tu biShevat -- New Year for Trees which occurs on 15th Shevat
Tzitzit -- Special fringes attached to each corner of a 4 cornered garment
Tzom Gedaliah -- Fast of Gedaliah which is observed on 3 Tishri
Tzur Mishelo -- One of the Zemirot sung at the Sabbath meals
Va’ani Tefilati -- Short prayer recited at the Sabbath Afternoon service
Vayechal -- Portion of the Torah read in the Synagogue on most Fast days
Vayikra -- Biblical book of Leviticus
Vidui -- Confession of sins which is recited at the end of every Amidah on the Day of Atonement
Vilna Gaon -- a great Rabbi and scholar living in Vilna in Lithuania during the 18th century
Ya’aleh v’yavo -- Addition to Amidah and Grace after Meals made on Rosh Chodesh and Festivals
Yahrzeit -- Anniversary of the death of a relative
Yechezkel -- Biblical book of Ezekiel
Yehoshua bin Nun -- Biblical Joshua
Yeshayahu -- Biblical book of Isaiah
Yishtabach -- Final blessing of the pesukei dezimrah
Yitzchak -- Biblical Isaac
Yom Kippur -- Day of Atonement
Yom Tov -- Generic name for a Jewish Festival
Zemirot -- Songs sung during the meals on Sabbaths and Festivals

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