Friday, October 29, 2010

Cooking vs. Warming (Last part)

21st of Cheshvan, 5771

We explained that in Shabbat it is forbidden to cook food, however, if the food is already cooked we are allowed to warm it.

There are a few conditions to allow warming food on Shabbat.

1. The source of heat. 2. The type of food. (see previous HOTD).

Our Rabbis distinguished between solid food (rice, bread, chicken, etc.) and a liquid food (water, soup, milk). While solid foods get cooked only one time, 'cooked' liquids, once cold will 'boil' over and over again.

So, it is permitted to place a solid cooked food from the fridge on the Electric Shabbat Plate (or Plata) but not a liquid food.

There are foods which belong to an intermediate status, like a stew (choresh, choulent, ma'ude) typical for Shabbat. These foods are composed of solids (meat, potatoes, vegetables, etc.) and liquids (soup, sauce, etc.).

For Sephardic Jews, including our community members, if you assess that the majority of that food is solid, then you can reheat it.

When the food or most of it, is liquid, like a soup, then you can place that food on the Plata only if that food is still hot (a liquid is defined as hot if it cannot be drank at once, but sip by sip).

For Ashkenazi Jews, to be considered solid, a food needs to be completely solid.

Ashkenazi Jews, however, are more lenient in the issue of liquids food (Ram'a follows Maimonides) and allow to reheat previously cooked liquids, if they are still warm.

However, if the liquid food is completely cold, it is forbidden.

Candle Lighting in NY: 5:37
Shabbat ends in NY: 6:44


Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The formula for a hatred free life - PREVENTING HATRED

20th of Cheshvan, 5771

Last week we explained the prohibition of hatred and how to become free of resentment by communicating to the offender our feelings and emotions.

The best antidote to 'prevent' hatred, however, is the fulfillment of a very important Mitsvah. 'Giving the benefit of the doubt' (betsedek tishpot amitekha).

Illustration: I'm coming out the supermarket with a many shopping bags. I don't have a car. When, I'm about to cross the street to take the bus, I see my next door neighbor (who knows I don't have a car!) driving by, and to my disappointment he does not stop to offer me a ride...

My first impulse is to think "What a bad guy!". That thought naturally triggers feelings of hatred (Torah prohibition # 1), resentment (# 2), seeking revenge (#3) and eventually will lead me to comment on his terrible behavior to my friends and family! (# 4).

Judging with the benefit of the doubt consists on stopping 'negative' thoughts in my mind before they become hatred, resentment, revenge and Lashon haRa.

How? I must force myself to have a second positive thought, a 'possible' reason which would excuse his behavior. Why didn't he stop?May be he didn't see me. Or may be he wasn't going home, but to the doctor or to pick up his son. I must focus my mind to advocate my neighbor!

Giving the benefit of the doubt aborts the whole negative emotional process: hatred/revenge/Lashon haRa before it becomes unstoppable.

MUST READ for PARENTS! (from Aish):

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FISH and milk

19th of Cheshvan, 5771

The Torah explicitly prohibits the mixing and consumption of meat and milk. The Rabbis extended this prohibition to include not only red meat but white meat (fowl) as well.

Last week we also explained the prohibition of mixing meat with fish, which the Rabbis forbade for a completely different reason: health concerns (see HOTD Wednesday Cheshvan 12).

What about fish with milk?

The Talmud (Chulin) states explicitly that fish and milk is a permitted combination.

However, Rabbi Yosef Caro (1488-1575), the famous author of the Shulchan Arukh, indicated in his book 'Bet Yosef' the custom to refrain from eating fish and milk.

There were two explanations given by later commentators as of why Rabbi Yosef Caro would prohibit milk and fish.

1. Health considerations, similar to meat and fish. Keep in mind that milk and fish are two common animal food allergens. (Newly discovered health considerations would, in principle, override an explicit ruling of the Talmud)

2. Most Ashkenazi Rabbis and some prominent Sephardic Rabbis, however, considered Rabbi Yosef Caro's statement as a 'misprint' on the text of the Bet Yosef, where a copyist confused between 'milk' and 'meat'.

As of today most observant Jews, including our own community members, would not refrain from mixing fish and dairy.

Some Sephardic Jews, mostly from Syrian communities, and some Chassidic Jews, would still avoid eating fish with milk. However, even they would acknowledge that the problem only exists in mixing fish with 'fresh milk', and not with dairy products.

So they wouldn't abstain from consuming, for example, fish with butter, cheese with salmon, etc.

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The 4th berakha: The blessing of wisdom

18th of Cheshvan, 5771

'Ata Chonen leadam da'at...' (YOU grant man wisdom...)

This berakha inaugurates the blessings in which we ask God for our material needs.

In total, there are 13 blessing which correspond to this category. Six of them asking God Almighty for our personal needs. Six of them for our national needs, and lastly, the all-inclusive thirteenth blessing: shome'a Tefila.

Why do we ask God for wisdom before anything else?

Because without wisdom/intelligence, we will not know what to ask. Or we can be asking the wrong things. Or even worse, without intelligence, we will not be able to identify the gifts we are constantly getting from HaShem.

'YOU' grant man wisdom (da'at) also describes a core Jewish belief. We acknowledge that da'at, intelligence/wisdom Is not a matter of neurons but a gift from God. An unnatural condition granted to man. Our brain is structurally very close to that of the monkeys, but we have what we call in this berakha 'the gift of intelligence', which is not an extension of our biological make up, like sight or hearing but a gift from haShem. Without da'at, biologically we could survive.

But we wouldn't be able to 'connect' to God or to choose between good and bad.

We recognize in this berakha 3 intellectual categories .

CHOKHMA: Associated with creativity. The capacity to discover something new. To see what no one sees, when everyone is looking at the same things. To develop a completely new idea.

BINA: The practical intelligence to apply a new idea.

DAAT: The wisdom of experience, which we acquire as we grow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to honor our parents?

17th of Cheshvan, 5771

'Honor your father and your mother... " (Shemot 20.12)

This is the Fifth of the 10 Commandments.

It is the first of the 10 Commandments that deals with our responsibilities toward others.

Unlike 'respecting' parents ('to obey them', see previous HOTD) this commandment is primarily directed to adults - not to children.

Honoring parents refers to the care and attention we should provide our parents when they are old and need our assistance. Normally, this commandment takes place after the children become husbands, wives and parents themselves and their parents become dependents.

The rabbis explain that this Mitzva consists in helping and assisting one's parents in practical ways, as much as we can.

If they are sick or weak and need help to eat, we should feed them. If they need help to get dress, or to clean themselves, or to walk, or to go to the doctor, etc., we should assist them.

Think about it: feeding, getting dress, walking, going to the doctor: those are precisely the things our parents did for us when we were children.

Now, when they depend on us, God Almighty commands us to take care of them and help them. It is very important to remember that Kabod means 'dignity'. Thus, this Mitzvah means to dignify one's father and mother, to keep their dignity. Therefore, when assisting the parents one should be very careful and mindful to preserve their dignity and never become what the Talmud critically calls 'a parent to his own parents'.


How did Rabbi Tarfon honor his elderly mother? [




Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024