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Rabbi Akiva Dershowitz

Number of Entries : 501

Repainting old furniture

Question: I was told that painting a house should not be done during the nine days. Does the same apply to repainting old furniture? Answer: It would seem that painting furniture is not included in the prohibition of “binyan shel simcha”, and thus would be permitted during the nine days. Never the less, in the absence of a specific need, it would be commendable to refrain from beautifying one’s home during ...

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Alterations during the nine days

Question: May one make alterations on a rented gown during the nine days to be used for a simchah after the nine days? Answer: If it is a minor alteration it is permissible. Major alterations which require taking apart and sewing the gown again, should not be done during the nine days. A chosson and kallah may make alterations during the nine days. מקורות: כל איסור תפירה ותיקון בגדים שמצינו בתשעת הימים הוא ...

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Comfortable non leather shoes on tisha bav

Question: Is it permissible to wear comfortable, non leather shoes on tisha bav [like crocs]. Answer: All non leather shoes are permissible on tisha bav. It is praiseworthy to wear shoes or slippers which diminish ones comfort, hence fulfilling the spirit of the law and not just the letter of the law. מקורות: קי"ל בש"ע סי' תקנ"ד סע' טז' כדעת רוב ראשונים שאיסור נעילת סנדל הוא רק בשל עור, ולא חומר אחר, ולא חי ...

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Rinsing mouth out with mouthwash

Question: May I rinse my mouth out with mouthwash on the morning of Tisha B’av? I suffer from very dry mouth in the morning, and without rinsing it is difficult for me to even speak and daven. Answer: It is permitted to rinse one’s mouth in order to alleviate suffering from extreme dry mouth, and to enable normal speech and davening. מקורות:    בגמ' ברכות יד. איתא שהשרוי בתענית מותר לו לטעום ולפלוט, דבתענית ...

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Tevila for a water urn

Question: I recently purchased a hot water urn, the seller told me not to immerse it in water, it may break and he assumes no responsibility. Am I exempt from tevilas keilim or do I have to return it and purchase a different one that could be immersed? Answer: An urn which could be ruined by tevila, should either be sold to a non jew and borrowed back from him [permanently]. Alternatively, it could be taken ...

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Stitching a wound on Shabbat

Question: I am a surgeon and live in a religious neighborhood. On Shabbat there are commonly children who suffer from lacerations that require stitching. In place of traveling to the hospital and being stuck there for the duration of Shabbat, they come to me and I stitch them up. Is this permissible or are they required to travel to the hospital and have a non jew do the stitching? Answer: It is permissible ...

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Co-ed trips

Question: Sholom, I run coed Birthright trips to Israel each year for secular students. A portion from each trip eventually go on to yeshiva. However, during the trips students inevitably engage in inappropriate relationships with each other. I have no doubt that these trips are one of the most successful ways to get students into learning, however, I'm not sure how it can be mutur to lead students on mixed ...

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Amira L’Akum

Question: The shul I daven in Friday Night has a problem with the electricity. As a result in the summer months when the air conditioning is running, there are power outages from time to time. When this happens before Maariv is it permissible to ask a non jew to turn on the electricity? Answer: A non jew should be hinted to about the outage and what needs to be done [“it is dark in the shul”]. In this manne ...

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Serving food on a fast day

Question: I am leading a kiruv trip of secular students over the next few weeks. We are responsible to provide them every day with food or money to buy food. What should be done on Shivah Asar B’Tamuz, may we feed them as on a normal day [provide actual food]. If not, could we give  them money specifically to buy food [on their own]? Answer: They could be given money to buy food on the fast day. If this is ...

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Working on a fast day

Question: I am leading a group of secular university students on a 2 week trip to Israel. The trip will overlap with the fast of Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. Working on the trip requires a lot of energy, and will be very difficult while fasting. It will very likely cause me a severe headache at which point I will have to drink. Do I need to take off that day or can I run the trip? Answer: You may run the trip on the ...

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