A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

photoDue to the space limitations of a text message, please note that it is particularly important to read carefully, pay close attention to the context of the question, and use the answers as a springboard for further study.

If you would like my phone number to submit questions, please leave a comment and I will send it to you.

Q: Should one say kiddush if he intends to break shabbes?

A: Shabbos will come, whether one keeps it or not – so there is always a mitzvah to acknowledge it by making kiddush. May we all be zoche (fortunate) to recognize the preciousness of Shabbos.

Q: On a day when there are readings from three Torah portions, does a congregation need to have three scrolls, or can they read from one or two with some rolling? I would think rolling to another portion is OK, because you have to do some rolling even to read one portion. I ask because our congregation currently has three scrolls, but we are thinking of selling one. Any help you can provide on this point is appreciated.
A: While rolling one or two scrolls is halachically acceptable, it is not ideal due to the inconvenience that the delay of rolling causes to the synagogue service.  If a shul doesn’t have the means to own three sifrei Torah, then that inconvenience is unavoidable.
Q: Is the universe as old as the Jewish calendar or do we believe the universe was created much before the calendar started?
A: The universe is definitely older than the years counted by the Jewish calendar, since the entire process of creation took place before the first day of year one (Tosafot, Rosh Hashanah 8a; cited by Reinman, One People Two Worlds pg. 194).  The six “days” of Creation are six time periods; their meaning is ambiguous.  If you take those “days” literally, then the age of the universe would only be six days more than the chronology of the Jewish calendar.  According to multiple prominent classical commentaries (like Nachmandies and Seforno), these days can be understood as much longer periods or epochs.
Q: What is your opinion about going to see a movie during sefira?
A: In this case, sefira is no different than any other time of the year.
Q:  Why did people take vows not to benefit from each other?
A: People don’t normally take vows not to benefit from one another. Historically, it is done in anger to spite a person.
Q: What does halacha say about a man living with a woman who’s husband abandoned her…?
A: According to halacha, all marriages can end in two possible ways.  One way is upon the death of one of the spouses.  The second way depends on who the marriage is between.  A marriage between a Jewish man and woman can also be ended with a ritual document of divorce (know in Hebrew as a “get”), while a marriage between two non-Jews can also be ended by the couple separating and living apart from one another.
Q: Is a bracha made on chewing tobacco?
A: No.  One reason is that nothing is intentionally swallowed.
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Filed under Text Message Halacha, Theological Issues

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