Friday, May 14, 2010

KIDDUSH: The Laws of Kiddush

Today is the 1st day (ROSH CHODESH) of Sivan (45 days of Omer. 6 weeks, 3 days)

“Zakhor et Yom haShabbat leKaddesho… “ Remember the Shabbat to sanctify it.
Last week we explained that the fourth Commandment is performed by the recitation of the Kiddush. In its text we remind ourselves the foundation of Shabbat: our testimony that God Almighty is the Creator of the world.
There are two times that we say Kiddush: first, Friday night, before Shabbat dinner and the second time before Shabbat lunch.
Although both ceremonies are called Kiddush they are not the same.
A couple of examples: at night most Sephardic Jews say the Kiddush standing. The reason for it is that we are giving testimony and according to judiciary procedures, when testifying in court a witness must stand. The Kiddush of Shabbat lunch is said while seated.
Both Kiddush are performed with wine. However if wine or grape juice is not available, at night it can only be replaced by bread. For the Kiddush of the day, however, one can use any alcoholic beverage (beer, vodka, Arak, etc.) but not bread.
When saying the Kiddush with bread, we should first do Netilat Yadaim, say the first part of the Kiddush, replace “bore peri hagefen” for “hamotsi lechem min haarets” and at the end, eat a piece of bread.
We obviously don’t need to do Netilat yadaim or hamotsi” a second time.

See this link to learn the recitation of Kiddush:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

LASHON HARA Gossip and revealing secrets

Today is the 29th of Iyar, 5770 (44 days of Omer. 6 weeks, 2 days)

Any information revealed in confidence should not be repeated.

The reason for this is obvious. Revealing a secret can have the same negative effects as Lashon haRa or gossip. If a person tells you, "I have a great business idea" and you pass this information on to others, someone may come along and make use of the idea. So harmful are such leaks that large cor­porations spend heavily on security to protect their private information.

Another potential fallout of divulging secrets is the risk of creating bad feelings. For example: Your sister informs you confidentially that she is planning to buy a house. A few days later, you casually mention this to your brother. What you did not anticipate is that your brother feels insulted because your sister did not tell him this piece of news. Just as with gossip, information which is related in confidence can cause animosity when passed on to another party.

Generally speaking, when someone is told per­sonal information, he should not repeat it even if the speaker did not mention that it is confiden­tial. This is the only sure way to avoid potential damage. What is seemingly a harmless piece of information may be explosive when repeated to someone else.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ELOKE ABRAHAM “The God of Abraham” (Part 2)

Today is the 27th of Iyar, 5770 (42 days of Omer. 5 weeks)
(See last week’s HOTD)
2. Abraham Abinu believed that God is "One", which does not imply a mere mathematical reduction of the number of "gods". It goes way beyond that…
Abraham lived in a society ruled by a tyrant king named Nimrod, who did whatever it pleased him pretending to have received a message from “god A” or “god B” . So, if Nimrod didn’t like you, the “god of death” would reveal to him that today it is a Mitzva to kill you. And if Nimrod liked your wife, the “god of lust” would reveal to him that he must take her from you. Right or wrong depended exclusively on the whims of Nimrod and his cynical manipulation of the various “gods”.
When Abraham Abinu spread the idea of “One God” he was considered by Nimrod and his entourage an extremely “dangerous individual” not because of his philosophical ideas but because it was ruining Nimrod’s play!
The idea of only "One God" would imply that there is an objective right and wrong. That whatever is wrong today is wrong tomorrow, for the simple citizen and even for the powerful Nimrod….
Abraham was persecuted and he would have been executed by Nimrod if not for God Almighty’s protection (Magen Abraham) who saved him from the tyrant’s hands.
The belief in God’s unity, initiated by Abraham Abinu, has a greater impact in man’s morality than in man's theology.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lending money or giving merchandise in “good faith”

Today is the 26th of Iyar, 5770 (41 days or Omer. 5 weeks and 6 days)

In the times of our Talmudic rabbis money was called ZUZIM, which comes from the Shoresh z/u/z which means “to move” , “revolve”.
They explain that the nature of money is that it constantly moves from hand to hand and that, especially in the financial aspect, ours is a revolving world. Having in mind this fact they established many laws to protect us –the lenders and the borrowers- from the uncertainties of the future.
One example: Our rabbis forbade to borrow or lend any amount of money when not in the presence of two witnesses or without having a signed document. Even if one borrows money from a good friend, or even a relative, somebody he knows from childhood, somebody he trusts and sees every day, even if it is a small amount of money, the debt must be documented. There is no need for a formal printed document. Any clear written statement where it states that A owes such and such amount of money to B, dated and signed by A is good enough. One should refuse on Halakhic grounds to lend or borrow money without such documentation.
There are too many true stories of good people who unfortunately ignored -deliberately or not- this simple rule and lent money or gave merchandise in good faith to friends or relatives without thinking about the uncertainties of the future or the complexity of human nature, and when they realized the wisdom of our Rabbis’ guidelines, it was already too late.