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Rabbi Akiva Dershowitz

Number of Entries : 462

Adding to Shemona Ezrai

Question: I grew up in a Jewish home in N.Y. following tradition. Later on I began to study Judaism. I have five married children all following Halacha. My mind has opened and I see Zionism in another light. Zionism can be considered Idolatry in the way it is strictly observed without connecting Zionism with World Unity and Faith. I always have thought of myself as a Jew but it is also important to me that ...

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sefirat haomer customs

Question: Dear Rabbi! In our city like in most cities here in Russia we have a big Chabad community and small our Lituanian one. Which custom of mourning we have to accept at sefirat haomer period: a custom of Arizal or Rama? And if Rama's - which of them? Our Rabbi live in Eretz Israel and have Israeli custom. What about music listening? Answer: Your community is not bound by the practice of the other [Cha ...

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Superstitions – “Knock Wood”

Question: Many people have the minhag to knock gently the table by benching when saying the (individual) Horachamons I have seen this with elderly people too who seem to be Minhag-conscious and have taken presumably from previous generations My assumption is that this is against the Ayin Hara and similar to what people say "Keyn Ayin ora". After a bit of reserach it however seems the source is gentile and n ...

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Hair pulling on Shabbat

Question: I have a disorder called Trichotillomania. Many weeks I find myself pulling out my hair on Shabbos but I cannot control the urges. I have guilt over this constant violation of halacha. Your insight and advice would be appreciated. Answer: The Torah requires one to do whatever they can to perform mitzvos and stay away from aveiros. So you should and surely are doing what you can to heal yourself of ...

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5 Minim – Oats

Question: What is the Rav's opinion about whether oats are one of the five minim? Should one be concerned that perhaps it is not? Thank you. Answer: Oats are Shiboles Shual, one of the 5 minim. One may rely on this long standing view, accepted by the Gedolei Yisrael. See Rashi Pesachim 35a, Kuntress Halichos Sadeh Vol. 57 essay of Rav Efrati in the name of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Moshe Feinstein. ...

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Tzitzis – Bigdei Shabbos

Question: If one purchased a new pair of tzitzis, and his old one is still kasher. Should he wear the new one on Shabbos to honor the Shabbos, or during the week to fulfill mitzvas tzitzis b'hiddur for the whole week? And if he should wear the new ones during the week, would it be proper to change into the old ones for Shabbos, or he should keep on wearing the new ones? Answer: Being that they are both kosh ...

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Chol Hamoed

Question: A faulty oven was delivered to us and we asked for refund and collection. The (Non jewish) vendors have arranged for this but they have scheduled it for Chol Hamoed. Is it permitted to allow for the collection to take place from our home or does it need to be postponed. Thanks Answer: It would have been permissible for them to come pick up the faulty oven. This does not constitute making a purchas ...

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food in bathroom, shmone esrei, wind storms etc.

Question: 1. Can one bring food into a bathroom? If not, what about a sucking candy? Ideally one should not bring food into a bathroom, including sucking a candy. This is due to the question of ruach raah that is in these places. After the fact or in a case of need one may be lenient to consider our bathrooms as clean and free of this concern.  2. Can one walk passed someone says shemoa esrei is order to ki ...

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Shnayim Mikra

Question: Can one read an English translation to fulfill the targum requirement for shnayim mikra? Does the Halacha differ depending on the age/level? Answer: Ideally one should fulfill this obligation through Rashi or Onkelos. If one is unable to do either of the above an english translation that is based on Chazal and/or Rashi may be used to fulfill one's obligation. See Mishna Brura 285:5 ...

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Ladies jewish name

Question: A baslat tshuva, a yang lady was given a Jewish name at birth. It was almost not used, and she also dislikes it and hates being cold by that name. Now, she wants to take a different name which she likes very much. Her question is, is this appropriate? I also suspect that she might have some slight mental illness, which she would not discuss, and this can be one of the reasons why would she want to ...

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