A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

Due 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: Why is it that sometimes during services we bow to the left first and as in Lecha Dodi, we bow to the right first? Does it really matter in which direction we bow first? If so, why?

A: As a rule, the right side takes precedence to symbolize that we are giving everything our best effort since the right hand is (generally) the stronger hand. We are doing it in a strong way rather than a weak way. During the prayer service, there are two exceptions. When bowing after the Amidah, we bow to the left first since we are acknowledging the “right hand” of God’s presence that is, in some sense, standing in front of us during prayer. Regarding Lecha dodi, some people have a custom of bowing left then right, and it may be connected to the left-bow above. Others bow straight which is westward (since the congregation has already turned around to face the back of the shul), as a gestrure of greeting to the Shabbat Queen (who “comes” from the west, where the sun just set).

Q: Is one allowed to eat candy during Shabbos davening?

A: Not only eating and drinking but even tasting is not allowed before making kiddush (O.C. 271:4).

Q: Is it permitted to own a human figurine?  I heard that you have to break off an ear to show it’s not an idol.
A: Common practice is to own figurines, sculptures, and dolls, even without damaging them, based on the fact that in our time it is rare for (typical) human images to be worshiped (Based on RHS & Chochmat Adam 85:6).
Q: I have a lot of matzah left over from Pesach.  If I make matzah brei out of it, will I be required to make hamotzei on it?
A: Frying the matzah changes its appearance to the extent that it is no longer considered to be in the category of bread and therefore its bracha is borei minei mezonot (Aruch Hashulchan 168:37).

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Filed under Halachic Issues, Text Message Halacha

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