Monday, October 30, 2006

Quick Survey about Jews and Halloween

I think that it is quite clear that an observant Jew should not celebrate or take part in anything that has to do with Halloween. I found the following articles on line here and here to support this. My question that I want to ask is if giving candy to kids is permissible. By giving candy you are not celebrating any holiday but the person you are giving the candy to might think that you are. In some areas if you do not give candy, your house, car and property will be hit with eggs, silly strings and all sorts of stuff which will cost you a lot of money to clean up. If a cute little kid in costume comes and rings your bell and says Trick or Treat, what are you going to do or what should you do?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

At minyan this morning

I wanted to relate the following incident which happened this morning when I went to minyan and see what my readers opinion is of the matter.

In the minyan I went to this morning, the room is relatively small as is set up with pews with not much space between them. I was sitting in the middle of two people. The person on my left was an old man and the person on my right was a young man who came late and was right next to the shtender as well as being in the aisle. At the end of the Shemona Esrei during the long tachanun prayers they asked the old man next to me to have pesicha and taking the Torah out of the Aron. This man on my left wanted to proceed to the Aron but he could not get through because the guy sitting next to me on the right was still reciting Shemona Esrei as the minyan was ready to take the Torah out to be read. The old man said out loud this is a pain in the ass while he was trying to get by which he couldn't because the pews are too close together and this other guy was still davening Shemona Esrei. Now my question is, who is right in this situation? Is it the old man who came to shul on time who got frustrated with the guy next to me or is it the young guy who was trying to recite Shemona Esrei without being disturbed?

In my opinion they were both wrong. The old man should not have gotten frustrated so quickly and say the word ass in a Beis Midrash. The young man should have had some consideration for the people around him. He came late and was not davening Shemona Esrei with the minyan and he was blocking the path of others. He should have realized this and started his Shemona Esrei in a spot where people could still get by. I am curious to hear how other people will interpret this situation.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Men in the women section

Something that has always bothered me is when men sit in the women's section when they go to shul during the week. Why is this? This started to bother me more when I saw this topic in Mishna Berurah which states that one cannot not do this because it gives the appearance that one is starting a breakaway minyan from the main minyan. In small shuls if there are set times for davening and the minyanim overlap I can understand where there can be a leniency but if there is only one minyan and there is plenty of room, why does a person still find the need to sit in the womens section? What if there is a woman who wants to go to this minyan and there is a man in her section? Do you think a woman would feel comfortable asking him to leave? I don't think so. Although I am not an advocate for feminism in Judaism, I do believe that woman should go to shul if they can. If there are men in there section I don't know if they would feel comfortable. The next question on this topic is how come many shuls do not have room for women to come during the week. I don't think that this is right. Just like in America you have to be an Equal opportunity Employer the OU and Agudah and all the other magor groups that have affiliate synagogues should have Equal Opportunity DAvening allowing women to come to shul if they want. One of the old shuls I used to daven at before I got married, rearranged the minyan room when they hired a new Rav to allow women to come if they wanted. For 30 + years this didn't exist. I hope shuls will take my suggestion and men should stop davening in the womens section.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Post Succos/Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah Questions

Today being the first day after the holidays, there is some time to reflect about the experiences we just had. One observation that I had during Succos occurred during Simcha Beis HaShuevah. For Simcha Beis Hashueve I usually make my rounds around Boro Park and Crown Heights to different Succahs of Rebbes and friends. In all of these neighborhoods there were all kinds of Jews coming together to celebrate. There were Chassidim, Misnagdim, Secular, Modern, all together to celebrate. I think that Succos is unique for that. On the west side of Manhattan you have the same thing on Simchas Torah when all the shuls no matter what the affiliation come together to celebrate Simchas Torah. Hopefully this holiday will be a sign of the unity the Jewish people should have throughout the year to help bring Moshiach closer.

With all of that said, I have my questions. When shopping around for a lulav and esrog, the one thing I noticed is the price difference by the neighborhood you go to. This price difference can be very significant. How come the same esrog in Boro Park can sell for around 500 dollars and in queens for 60 dollars? I think the vendors take advantage of the Chassidim who are willing to spend that much. If you come to Queens no one will spend that much so the vendors no that they cannot charge that amount. Although this is a question do we have a right to criticize what they are charging? After all by them selling the lulav and esrog sets they are allowing us to take part in the Mitzvah. In Europe it was not so easy to get a set so we should be thankful it is so easy now.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Post Yom Kippur Comments and Questions

This Motzei Yom Kippur I did not get sick like last year so that gives me an opportunity now do discuss some observations I had and some questions I had.

First off, I want to say that MOChassid wrote a post here which was very similar to my posts here and here . I guess I am not the only one who is not disensitized to peoples rudeness. Besides the posts I just linked, I would like to add another one to the list of things people do that is rude that I experienced this Yom Kippur.

I knew I might be in some trouble when I saw that sitting in front of me were people who talk occasionally in shul and also don't look before taking three steps back. The way my minyan did the seats was they put a chart of the seats, you emailed them the seat you wanted and they posted it on our minyans web page excluding peoples names. Right before Yom Tov they posted the names and all the seats were taken so there was no way for me to change my seat. So the new thing to add for this Yom Tov along with the other things is being whipped in the face with a tallis. Don't you just love it? It is more important for a person to flip there tallis so its not bothering them then to realize that they are whipping someone in the face with their tzistzis. There is nothing the victim can do because it is always by surprise because you never know when the person is going to flip the talis. I know I have seen it written that is a Halacha that you are not allowed to treat the tallis like this and you have to be careful if you are going to flip your talis.

My next issue is Maariv Motzei Yom Kippur. If you ask someone Jewish trivia and say which are the fastest davenings of the year, a person would answer Shacharis/Musaf on Shavuos and Maariv Yom Kippur. I don't understand in general why people rush through davening but on Motzei Yom Kippur? I understand you are hungry after fasting but a few minutes is not going to make a difference after you were fasting for 25 hours already. One would think that if you concentrated on your davening all of Yom Kippur , this Maariv would be one of your longest of the year. In certain shuls people run out after the shofar blowing and don't even daven Maariv. Some people stay for Maariv but don't stay for Kiddush Levanah. The whole reason why Kiddush Levana is held off until Motzei Yom Kippur is because we want to run to do a mitzvah right after Yom Kippur and this one is very easy to accomplish.

Along with the Maariv topic I am interested to see if anyone has any interesting answers for this question I have that I have never gotten an answer to that satisfies me. How come right after Neilah when we daven Maariv we say Salach Lanu in Shemonei Esrei. Did we really do any aveirah from the shofar blowing until Shemonei Esrei? I don't think that is possible since you can't talk or do anything.

I hope everyone had a good break fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur.