A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

Q: If I have no faith will I still go to heaven?

A: Although it is true that Judaism emphasizes righteous action more than other religions and, historically, has sometimes de-emphasized the role of required religious beliefs (“dogmas”), nevertheless most authorities are of the opinion that there are essential Jewish beliefs that must be accepted by all.  Nachmanides , an outstanding medieval authority, writes “There is no merit in the actions of the evil persons who deny God…even if they conduct themselves in accordance with beautiful and good traits all their days.” Bottom line, faith is necessary to merit the Afterlife.

Q: The prohibition for us, is to not mark a tattoo upon ourselves… as jews…. but just for clarification… can I tattoo other people??

A: It is only permitted to tattoo someone that person may tattoo his/herself.  Therefore, it is forbidden to tattoo a Jew but it is permitted to tattoo a non-Jew (Noda Biyehuda in Pitchei Teshuva YD 180:2).

Q: Do you wash on wraps [and say hamotzei/bentch, or do you just say borei minei mezonot/al hamichya]?

A: No; although it is common for people to consider it bread since it is often eaten as a main part of a meal (R. Belsky), many make mezonos since it does not have the appearance of bread (R. Elyashiv).

Q: Hi Rabbi, I heard that there might now be a bug issue between cloves in a head of garlic (nafka mina [the practical ramification] is by roasted garlic in the head). Is this true? If so, what precautions should be taken?

A: It is true that there have been dependable reports of the issue so it is a legitimate chumrah [stringency] but there is not yet sufficient data to conclude that its frequency has reached the threshold of an actual halachic prohibition.  [Note: This issue only effects grilling or cooking whole heads but not individual cloves or powder, etc.]

Q: Why would we put statues (i.e. cherubim) on the Aron [Ark of the Tabernacle]? We abhor statues in Judaism, so one would think the last place we would have them would be the in the holiest place on the holiest object.

A: This is a very difficult question to answer.  Abarbanel explains that although in general we are forbidden to create sculptures of things like angels (which the Cheruvim where) so we will not come to worship them, in this case God made a special exception so they could accomplish their purpose to teach us an important lesson [e.g., that all men and women must habituate themselves to Torah, mitzvos, and good character from their youth].
Q: What is the basis for the custom to place a stone at a grave upon visiting?
A: It shows honor for the deceased since it shows that people have visited his/her grave (Baer Heitiv O.C. 224:8, cited by Rite and Reason pg. 661).
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.




Filed under Halachic Issues, Text Message Halacha, Theological Issues

2 responses to “A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

  1. YC

    Yeyasher Kochacha.
    Suggestion: Please number message and questions for future ref.

    Not exactly sure what you mean by a wrap but should it not have been emphasized that it depends if they are being koveya seudah or not? Can’t imagine something being more “pas haba b’kisnin” than a wrap!

    Also – I don’t know the metzius by the garlic heads but even if it is not muchzak, if it is matzui it needs bedika miderabanan.

    Yeyasher Kochacha once again…

    ATB, YCV


    • Thanks for the suggestion, and thank you for reading!

      Regarding a wrap – which is a very thin flour based but non-liquid dough product – the opinions that hold its mezonos understand that since it is so thin it doesn’t have the appearance of bread (tzurisa d’nahama) and it therefore is not bread at all but rather like a crepe or a blintz (even though those are made from a liquid batter). On those products one never makes hamotzie, like pasta and oatmeal and the same applies to wraps.

      Regarding the heads of garlic – that is exactly the question. The question isn’t if they are muchzak or not – it is clear that the infestation is found too infrequently. The question is, rather, whether or not there is a miut hamatzui which would require bedikah to take place.


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