Questions & Answers             Li-Yeshuatcha Qiviti - לק"י
Sources may include:

  • RMb"M = RMb"M: All quotes from Mishneh Torah utilize original Yemenite MSS and numbering schemes.

  • B'ladi Contributors: Talmidim haRMb"M , Mahari"S

  • RMb"M Scholars of all flavors

  • Spanish Portuguese Scholars

  • Rabbi Kafeh will be referred to as Rabbi QafaH zs"l


ONLY ONE RULE: Everything submitted must directly reference a source to the Mishneh Torah. Although there have been geon-oriented & mesorah-oriented articles in the past (below), we are now trying to streamline this section into a tight RMb"M focus.

WARNING: The pronunciation schemes below are provided by many different people, from many different traditions. To sum it up, it is one large mix of pronunciation schemes. What unites them all is a meticulous ability to tie it directly into the Mishneh Torah.



Agricultural Laws: See Orlah below

"Aleinu" in the Siddur

Aliyah: "Going Up To The Land" or Making

Amidhah: one Geonic opinion on how to bow your neck

Amidhah: Original Practice

Amidhah: tefilla during the repetition

Animal Cruelty

Anusi Studies: Spanish Portuguese Scholar David Ramirez: 

Answering the Kofer (spiritual enemies of Israel): See kofer below

Beard-Trimming of

Baladhi or Shammi

Bet Din: Jurisdiction of local Bet Din

Birkath haMazon (Legal Version): Full Usable Text: RMb"M

Birkath haMazon (Yemenite Tradition)

Birkath hamazon on desert:

Birkath hamazon: mayim ahronim:

Birkath hashahhar: blessing about the rooster

Birkath haMazon during the yomei Tshouvah

Bread: See Chalah below

Cabalah: See "Qabalah" section below

Chalah: Taking of in Israel & Galuth

Chanukah Blessing: Words of like Gamara

Chopped meat: Preparation

Christianity: Punishments for Jews Who Believe in it

Dancing: See "Mixed Dancing" below

Electricity on Shabboth - This article has Not Been finalized

Elo-hai ha-n'eshoma

Email: Distribution of personal email without permission

Ethroghim (ESROG) - Only kosher if from Temani (non-grafted / non-lemon) seed

Eruv: Doubts over American Eruvin (and some in Israel)?

Geonim: Zero authority to add or diminish from the law: Sanhedrin & Rav Ashe & Ravina

Geonim Notes

Ger: Ancient Definitions

Goy: Definition of in different locations

Hagaddah: "JoEl Yisrael" vs "JoAwl Yisrael"

Haircut on the Moed

Haircut on the Omer: see "Omer" above

Hamburger: See chopped meat above

Hebrew: Yemenite Pronunciation: Accuracy & Antiquity of...

Hhanuka lighting at conclusion of Shabboth

Ja'aleh: Eating nosh after Qiddush - before ha'motzi

Kaballah: Real Divrei Sofrehem vs. false mysticism: See "Qaballah" section below...


Kashering a glass table

Kashrut: A couple of practical comments for today's times

Kofer: Answering the Kofer (spiritual enemies of Israel): In process

Kol Ishah: Hearing a women sing

Kosher Meat - Hhalitah

Kosher Slaughter

Lulav: Waving of

Mahari"K (Maori Harav Yosef Qafih zs"l): Rough translation of questions & answers NEW

Masora hopping? Pick one and stick with it / ha Gaon Saadia

Masora vs. Logic/ ha Gaon Saadia

Mayim ahronim


Chopped meat: Preparation
Halitah: Preparation
Halitah: Background Material
Kosher Slaughter
Milk and Meat

Menorah Page

Milk and Meat

Mi3woth: Reasoning behind

Mixed Dancing : Weddings

Modeh ani: Elo-hai ha-n'eshoma

Modesty Overview: Brief Summary (article still in process)

Modestly Dressed

Moed: Tefillin on

Music & Instruments: Prohibition in force?

Nations: Come to an end - near the end of days

Mysticism: See "Qabalah" section below

Naphillath Panim/ Apayim : Falling on your face

Natila: Washing the hands

Natilath Yadayim continued...

Niddah: See "Women's" section

Nusach: definitions and terms Skimming for the ancient B'ladi Tikhlal

Nusach: QafaH zs'l compared to Mahari"S

Omer: Halikhot Teman

Omer: Mourning on: RMb"M and Yemen

Orlah in Chutz La'Aretz

Parnossa Prayer in Rosh HaShanah Siddur: Warning

Passover: Halicoth Teyman

Passover: "Putting Away" Pans Used For Chamaytz - not kashering

Passover: Shabboth Falls On: Destroying Hhames

Peyoth / Simonim / "Zenaneer"- סימנים

Pets: Warning: Don't Buy One Until You Read This!

Pronunciation Studies of HEBREW-- in Depth

Pronunciation of our Ashkenaz Brothers

Prostrating: see Naphillath above

Purim: Costumes



Qabalah: RMb"M: Learning the real stuff (Metaphysics / Maaseh Merqavah)?

Qabalah: RMb"M: Merkavah - Physics / Metaphysics

Qabalah: RMb"M's views -Anti-Maimonidian Demons-American Sephardi Federation

Qabalah: Saadia Gaon's (pre-Zohar) Concept: In process

Qabalah: Yemenite Midrash by Khoter ban Shlomo: Siraj al-Uqul

Qabalah: Zohar as real Qabalah???: see "Zohar rift" below


Rabbis: Authority: Today vs. Time of Sanhedrin: see Sanhedrin


Reasoning behind Commandments: Permissable to learn?

RMb"M: "BALADI" Temanim Record: 30 Difference

RMb"M: Learning Group: Talmidim of Mori Yosef QafaH zs"l

RMb"M: Logic of sources

RMb"M: Merkavah - Physics / Metaphysics

RMb"M: Nusah of Yemen  

RMb"M: Qabalah-- see Qabalah section above

RMb"M: Shulhan Arukh / R. Yosef Karo - See Shulhan Arukh below

RMb"M: Talmudic Study of Talmud was discouraged? (Heaven forbid)

RMb"M: Where Temanim Differ

RMb"M: Wife: "Imprisoning wife" is a slanderous accusation: Law forbids 

RMb"M: Wife beating accusation is slanderous

Roasting Chopped Meat

Rooster: blessing in the morning

Rosh HaShana: Customs in Yemen (see Yemenite Section below)

Rosh HaShanah Seder (Simonim)

Sanhedrin: Nothing after r. Ashe & Ravina's court can add or diminish

Shema`: Proper time for reciting

Shema`: Around Feces: Implications for Moed

Shabboth: Bringing it in early

Shabboth: Lighting candles after the blessing

Shulchan Arukh: Better than the Mishneh Torah?

Siddur: Ancient Yemenite Tiklal corrupted by Zohar

Slaughter : Kosher

SeliHoth: Spanish & Portuguese Customs

Sukkoth: the four species

TaHnun: Prostrating or Kneeling at : see Naphillath above

TaHanun: On Gentile American Holidays?

Talith: When to wear a Talith Gadol

Talith Qatan: Blessing on

Talith Qatan and Jathol...continued


Tefillin: Hol shel Moad

Tefillin: Tying

Tefillin: Yom Tuv Sheni

Talmud - Correct version of

Tiklal - and original RMb"M Nusah

Tisha b'Av: RMb"M

Tisha B'Av: Yemenite Customs - See Yemenite Section

Torah: Requirement for every man to write his own

Traveling: Praying while traveling long distances : ie: on an Airplane

Wedding: see Mixed Dancing

Woman's Section

Yemenite Section

Yashan: New Wheat

Yomei Teshuvah

Zimmun for Women

Zohar rift: a long but worthwhile study

Zohar: War against the False Qabala (in Hebrew- requires encoding in Hebrew w/right to left)

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Start of Articles


Look in Siah Yerushalayim. Bottom of pages 68,101,134. The only place I see where Mori QafaH does not say flat out that Aleinu is not said is after Shacharit of Shabbat (page 213).  To get the real answer regarding Aleinu, you have to go look in the Mishne Tora.  In general, Mori QafaH said that Borchu and Aleinu were not found in any tiklalim at the end of weekday Shacharit or Maariv (chol or Shabbat). I don't know about the yomim tovim.

Spanish & Portuguese Rabbi Lopes weighs in:

The closing of Tefiláh called `Alénu was not part of the Tefiláh in old days. It's worth to say that is not found in Sudur 'Amram Ga'ón or the RAMBAM. However, the RAMBAM, R. `Amram and Dawid Aburdarham, one of the most famous writers about local customs, only bring `Alénu in the Mussáf Rosh haShanáh.
According to Hay Ga'ón (Sha`aré Teshubáh, siman 44), `Alénu was fixed by Yehoshu`á bin Nun, but it has no relation to Tefiláh as we see today.
Considering the case of Hakham Aburdarham, `Alénu was not said in Iberia or any other parts apparently. It seems that only Ashkenazim had said it before other communities. `Alénu does not appear in Yemenite siddurim but after the Mahari"S. In the past I have researched this and it seems that this was made imperative but after the Kabbalist Rabbi Ishaq Luria.
The other part, `Al ken which follows `Alénu seemed to not be mentioned by any Sephardim or Mizrahí community. `Alénu was added by that majority, but S&P Jews kept and older tradition of not saying, probably because of Tórah Sibúr, as mentiones by Hakham Shem Tob Gaguine. This has much logic, since S&P are probably the most careful community about the rules of highly distinct services and Tórah Sibúr.
Tiqqún Haza"l (Talmud) requires Tefiláth haSibúr starting by Barekhú. Probably, the Tefiláh in old times ended up by Barekhú as well.

In our days, both`Alénu and that what follows it have mystical values.
Berakhoth weHódesh Tob


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Aliyah: Mentioned by RMb"M or not?

QUESTION: Is it true - that the there is no commandment to 'make aliyah' ('ascend through emigration') to the land of Israel? After all, the RMb"M does not list it as a commandment in his count of the 613 commandments.

ANSWER: Well, he does equate living outsie the land to idol worship in the Laws of Kings 5:12. As such, it has the Mosaic force of law:

טו  [יב] לְעוֹלָם יָדוּר אָדָם בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל, אַפִלּוּ בְּעִיר שֶׁרֻבָּהּ גּוֹיִים; וְאַל יָדוּר בְּחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ, וְאַפִלּוּ בְּעִיר שֶׁרֻבָּהּ יִשְׂרָאֵל:  שֶׁכָּל הַיּוֹצֶא לְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ--כְּאִלּוּ עוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "כִּי-גֵרְשׁוּנִי הַיּוֹם מֵהִסְתַּפֵּחַ בְּנַחֲלַת ה' לֵאמֹר לֵךְ עֲבֹד אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים" (שמואל א כו,יט).  וּבְפֻרְעָנוּת הוּא אוֹמֵר "וְאֶל-אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יָבֹאוּ" (יחזקאל יג,ט). (from Machone-Mamre Site)

"For all time a person shall live in Eretz Yisrael even in a city that is mostly idol worshippers and   do not live in the exiled land (diaspora) and even in a city that has mostly Jews. For all who who leave to chutz la'aretz are as if they are worshipping avoda zara as it is written..."

The reason why the RMb"M did not enumerate "making aliyah" as one of the 613 commandments of the Torah can be gleaned from thoroughly studying the principles that are listed at the beginning of the Mishneh Torah,  where the RMb"M lists (explains) the criteria for mentioning or not mentioning commands in the 613 count. Based on principle number four, set down in Sefer HaMitzvoth: Commandments which encompass the entire Torah are not to counted.

Settling Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) is an extremely precious command. The fixing of holidays and the months (calendar), and all related commandments depend upon it. This is supported by the momentary (allowable) suspension of the Sabbath prohibition against commerce, in order allow Benai Yisrael to purchase houses in Israel (from Goyim) - Hilchoth Shabboth 6:11. There is also a law about not being permitted to build permanent structures outside of the land of Israel. The implications for today's Diaspora are apparent. There is an undeniable commandment to live in Israel.

Other legally related concepts include compelling one's wife to "make aliyah" (or be divorced without Ketubah). This also points to the undeniable existence of a foundational commandment to live in Israel. I would add that the RMb"M in (Hilchoth Ishuth 13:20), also grants a woman the right to force the man to move to Israel too!

As mentioned above, the establishment of a Jewish calendar is also an aspect of this foundation commandment. Adherence to most of the Torah is impossible without (at least) a Jewish court within the Land of Israel. Or at least a din in the Diaspora ordained in the land of Israel. Even without this, we still need Jews living in the land, or we are forbidden to count the months or establish leap years in the diaspora. Without a calendar, there is no Judaism. (see the laws of Qiddush haHodash 5:13, Mishneh Torah)

For out of Zion will go forth Torah. See Sefer haMiswoth - positive commandment 153. The RMb"M uses the words "G-D forbid" that there should be no Jews living in the land. Also, RMb"M himself writes that Moshe commanded us an Inheritance (Morashah) of the congregation of Yaaqov. He notes that this applies to all generations. The same is true of the land, for the Torah says: And I will give the land to you as an INHERITANCE (same word). Therefore it is clear that the RMb"M, who holds the word Morashah to imply perpetuity, agrees that the miswah (foundation) of dwelling in the land is forever, for Eras Yisrael is referred to as Morashah.


Challenger: Nowhere inside the M"T (Mishnah Torah) is an obligation to "make individual Aliyáh" (immigration to Israel) mentioned!

Response: As shown above, this is totally false. This has to do with the 14 rules (stated by RMb"M used to enumerate the 613 commandments). According to rule number 4… commandments that encompass the entire Torah are not to be counted. It is very clear that our Holy Torah most certainly does require aliyah (and thus settling the land) - as a most treasured mitzwah. When taken together, the number of supportive and correlative statements in our Talmud makes any other type of conclusion implausible. The statements in our Talmud (which did come down as the final halakha - according to the last Sanhedrin  (and court of r. Ashe and r. Ravina) are undeniable. In addition, the calendar issues mentioned in the short article above are also relevant. People dwelling outside the land are likened to Idol worshippers (ie: someone without a G-D) - even when living amongst a majority of Jews in the exile. Whereas those living in the land, even where there are mostly idol worshippers, are likened to someone who HAS a G-D. Another deals with the prohibition against permanent settlement outside the land. Taken together, they all add up to an undeniable command for aliyah. In the Mishneh Torah, this can be found in the Laws of Kings 5,11 until the end of the chapter. If a man wants to make `aliyah and his wife does not, he divorces her without paying the ketubbah, and he makes `aliyah; similarly, if a woman wants to make `aliyah and her husband does not, he must give her a get AND pay the ketubbah and she makes `aliyah.  Laws of Marriage 13,25.

"One should not emigrate from the Land of Israel , except for the purposes of studying Torah or in order to get married... so, too, one may leave for the purposes of business. However, one may not leave on a permanent basis... [10] The Sages would kiss the ground of the Land of Israel , and kiss its rocks and roll on its earth... [11] Our Sages said that any person who lives in the Land of Israel will be forgiven for his sins... even if he walks four cubits there, he will merit life in the World to Come. So, too if a person is buried there, he is atoned for... [12] A person should always live in the Land of Israel , even in a town which is mainly inhabited by non-Jews, rather than live in the Diaspora in a town which is predominantly Jewish. If a person leaves [the Land of Israel] to go to the Diaspora, it is as if he worshiped idols, as the verse states, "For they have driven me this day from abiding with the inheritance of G‑d, saying, go serve other G‑ds" (Sam. I 26:19). Just as one may not emigrate from the Land to the Diaspora, so too one may not emigrate from Babylon in order to live in another country, as the verse states (Jer. 27:22), "They will be carried to Babylon, and there they will be" (Laws of Kings, 5:9-12).

Challenger: The Babyonian Sages were in no hurry to make Aliyah! So this proves it is not a command.

Response: So? If you see a "sage" who does a sin...this gives permission to imitate it?!?!? 

That is a non-sequiter argument. Besides, the sages of the Talmud lived a long time ago, when the material conditions were much harder.  Even the RMb"M came there and left, because of the dangerous conditions.  Also, RMb"M lived in Egypt. The point is that RMb"M gave it a real shot. Will you also conclude from this that it is permitted to re-settle in Egypt?  That is "no-no" from the Torah.

All of these statements taken together spell it out – not any one by itself. Again, there were 5-6 places in Gamara, all dealing with different accepted legal concepts. Taken together, all of these statements point to an undeniable requirement to MOVE to Israel.

Challenger: The Gemaráh proves the opposite. Aliyah is actually against the Torah itself!:

R. Zera was evading Rab Judah because he desired to go up to the Land of Israel while Rab Judah had expressed [the following view:] Whoever goes up from Babylon to the Land of Israel transgresses a positive commandment, for it is said in Scripture: They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be, until the day that I remember them, saith the Lord.1  [.  .  .] 

That text is required for [an exposition] like that of R. Jose son of R. Hanina who said: ‘What was the purpose of those three adjurations?10 — One, that Israel shall not go up [all together as if surrounded] by a wall;8

Response: Actually, this text DOES NOT say what you want it to say at all. Note the brackets. Also - other gerasot (versions) have different words there. Be careful of this type of flawed thinking. This is the kind of thinking used by heretics like Netorey Karta and the like. The Talmud is full of minority opinions (even from r. Yehudah ha Nasi ZT"L himself), but we do not go by them. So far, you have still not shown me any proof or basis for remaining in the exile/ Galuth; whereas I have shown the opposite is true to you. You can continue to search vainly for minority opinions in Gamara, or lame excuses like "that Israel shall not go up by a wall".  These same Netorey Karta types kiss the hands of our enemies and encourage them to murder Jews.  Their so-called "Torah illogic" is patently flawed.

CONCLUSION: The final conclusion - reached by the Sanhedrin  (and court of r. Ashe and r. Ravina) - requires one to move to Israel. This is a religious Rabbinic injunction, that has nothing to do with politics. Otherwise, the RMb"M would have surely spelled that out in the MT. Also, there *may be* a valid teshuva of the RMb"M - where he calls himself a sinner for not staying there.

However, this site does not rely upon Teshuvoth (even of RMb"M), which are generally unreliable, questionable testimonies, in terms of their ability to clarify the Mishneh Torah. On the contrary, RMb"M himself already considered them in his final redaction of the Mishneh Torah. Thus, they are disqualified (for legal purposes) according to his own words. Although they may have applied to very specific situations in the Diaspora, they must not be used to trump the Mishneh Torah:

"42  This is so that all the rules should be accessible to the small and to the great in the rules of each and every commandment and the rules of the legislations of the Torah scholars and prophets:  in short, so that a person should need no other work in the World in the rules of any of the laws of Israel; but that this work might collect the entire Oral Law, including the positive legislations, the customs, and the negative legislations enacted from the time of Moshe Our Teacher until the writing of the Talmud, as the Geonim interpreted it for us in all of the works of commentary they wrote after the Talmud.  Thus, I have called this work the [Complete] Restatement of the [Oral] Law (Mishneh Torah), for a person reads the Written Torah first and then reads this work, and knows from it the entire Oral Law, without needing to read any other book between them."

Here is some more irony : Book

If you believe this story… on what grounds did Ezra have the right to curse an entire community of Jews for not coming to Yemen - even when their predictions turned out to be true?



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Amidah: How to Stand: A Unique Yemenite / Geonic View

Site Admin.: what about Amidah Stance --anything special there.
Friend says:: head looking down with hands (or arms) over chest with right intertwines over left.
Site Admin.: the whole time?
Friend says:: yes
Site Admin.: head looking down whole time?
Friend says:: yes

In Otzar HaGeonim Tractate Berakhot 12b (pg 34) Rabbi Hayei Gaon explains the word Hhizra (from the Sugya at hand) to be one of the types of thorn bushes indigenous to his area in babylonia. His contention is that in their parts they still speak aramaic and that the word has not changed although in Arabic it is pronounced with a Heh instead of a Hhet (with no difference in meaning). He goes on to discribe (with illustrations) how this thorn bows and describes a bow of the head (curling of the neck). He adds that in the Sugya at hand that the lenient of opinions is simply a simple nod of the head. This is exactly wht Rabbi QafaH explained. So one would not FULLY bow all the way down as is done in today's Amidah. Only the neck was curled down.
Regarding the hand over hand: One would be hard pressed to explain this as simply one hand over another. The sugya deals with Teffillin being next to the heart and therefore would be quite awkward with a hand over hand over the heart. Furthermore, the RMb"M uses the word Kefutin (Keshurin - tied/intertwined) he does not say intertwine the fingers --how would one intertwine his hands if not by crossing his arms over his torso (heart)?

Hayei Gaon is quoted by other Rishonim such as the Rosh. (Sheelot Veteshuvot) Avkat Rochel of Rabbi Yosef Karo also seems to side with this point.

Amidha In Original Practice

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Amidah (davening during the repetition)

QUESTION: What should I do during the repetition of the Amidah when I can't daven as fast as the Tsibbur. Should I ignore his repetition (even during the Kedusha) and finish my own Amidah or should I pause during his repetition and continue after he finishes. Please tell me the Halacha?

ANSWER: You should continue until the chazan reaches kedusha, then pause (preferably at the end of a brachah) and have in mind to be yotzei his kedushah while standing silently. When he finishes kedushah, continue your shmoneh esrei.

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Baladi or Shami: Yemenite Nusah

My friend and I are trying to compare the Mahari"S (Mori harav Yehheya Ssalahh zs"l) prayer book (known as "Eis Hhaim" / "Torath Avoth") with the Mori Yosef QafaH zs'l prayer book (known as Siyah Yerushalayim).
Although this query aims to resolve the differences between the Baladi Nusahhoth -- there is also a brief discussion about the (Syrian / Sefaradi influenced) "Shammi Nusahh" -- that made its way into Yemen with the influence of the qabalists of the 16th to 19th century.
Regarding the two different Baladi traditions: both are basically the same nusahh (Mahari"S and Mori Qafah); however, Mori Qafah's siddur contains fewer qabalistic additions, less apologetics and is more descriptive in terms of what was in the original Nusahh of old. 

Mahari"S edited his siddur around 300 years ago - after a bitter argument in the Jewish community of Tzana'a Yemen. His goal was to bring "Shalom Bait" between two groups. Basically, the new group was Shami and the other group stuck to the original Nusakh of Yemen. The Baladi Nusah (at that time) then contained no ZOHAR references at all. Eventually, the Mahari"S  adopted his "Eitz Chaim" siddur to include some paragraphs from the Shami - like "Lecha dodi", "Barich Shame", "Bar Yochai" etc. On the other hand, today's "Siach Yerushalaim" siddur comes the closest to the ORIGINAL Masoret of the Jews of Yemen.
[Site Admin. comment: however, the QafaH siddur & the Mahari"S siddurim utilize the same exact core contents (i.e.: Amidah and Shema`). Today, both of these are slightly different than the original Yemenite Tiklal - that actually matched the RMb"M version in the Yad exactly--according to Rabbi Yosef QafaH zs'l].
Mori Yusef QafaH ZS'L and my father's shul , Rabbi Arusi, Rabbi Aviad and others who follow the Rabbi QafaH's Masora - DO NOT RECITE Barich Shameh, Bar Yochai and other things. HOWEVER, these PRAYERS ARE in "Siach Yerushalaim" - just because Mori Yusef was "Rodef Shalom" and allowed people to decide for themselves. His siddur is exactly like Torath Avot, the text, with the following main differences:
A) The comments/explanations in Siyakh make comments/adjustments about the original Nusakh of Yemen.
B) Torath Avot does not have "Birchat Ha'Medina" for the State of Israel - since they claim to be "Hareidim" that do not recognize the State of Israel. Siyakh does have this prayer.
Comparison of Baladi Siddurim regarding B'rich Shmeh addition:
"Torah Avoth"  This is what it says in Torah Avoth (minhog Maahari"S) right before B'rich Sh'meh prayer. Pardon the poor vowels:

"V'omrim kol hakal yachad--V'yesh snhogu limru b'Amidah a'p Mararis"

My translation: It means that they recite the "Barich Shame" standing. 

"Siyakh Yerushalayim": This is what the R. QafaH zs'l Siddur "Siyah Yerushalyim" says before the verse in question (translated from the Hebrew)
"In all the ancient Tiklalim this (prayer) does not appear in this Nusach. And also in Mahari"S (it) is (was) not written"

Regarding "Kevar nahagu" comments... Rabbi Aroussi was in New York (he left yesterday) and I asked him your question. He had only 2 minutes for me and this is what he said to me:

1) All the additions to the original "tiklal" were done hundreds of years ago and EVEN MORI YICHYE Qafech AGREED to them. I'm not discussing here the reasons..

.2) All "Kvar nahagu" comments in "Siach Yerushalaim" were old comments that appeared in the first siddur that Mori Yoseph QafaH edited 50 years ago - "Shivat Tzion"

I have one comment about the "tiklal" that mentioned in your email numerous times. This is MY UNDERSTANDING - 1) there were many versions of the "ORIGINAL" "tiklal". The most famous were a) Maharitz, b)R' Yichye Wanna, c)R' Yichye Beshari,d) R' Shalom Shabazi. None of them was Shammie - they all were versions of the original Baladi.

More on the differences between the Shami Nusahh and the Baladi Nusahh at

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Desert & Birkath Hamazon

Question: I read that some say Birkhath Hamazon after they eat the meal
and then make a separate Mezanoth if they eat cake for dessert. Is this
correct? If so, Do I make another brakha ahhronah after the cake too?

The RMb"M said to clear off the table and say Birqath Hamazon. Then you serve and eat desert. Then make a blessing on the desert.

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Mayim Ahronim after meal?

Of course - before and after. The "after" (Mayim Ahhronim) is more important, specifically the one that makes the "Zimun".- see Mishna Brachot and RMb"M. The RMb"M mentions having enough water to fully wash both hands--while aiming the fingers down so the water drips off. Perhaps this insures that all the salt will be removed from our finger tips.

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Regarding the Rooster 

Regarding the question of when we say the Brakha about the rooster - according to Rabenu (RMb"M):

If there is no rooster crowing --we don't make a Bracha. This is our practice today. When we experience the benefit, we say the thanks (blessing) right after experiencing it.

In the case of morning blessings, which are blessings of thanks (not blessings on commandments: "over la'asiyata"), one always blesses right after the benefit is realized.

Also, we say : who gives the rooster that ability to understand (read as lahavin-not lahavhhin) between day and night. Our wording is different then most siddurim : "who gives the rooster understanding". Some people say "gives the heart understanding" based on Rebbenu Asher's commentary to Brachoth.

Talmid of r. Arusi comments:

Chances are that the older and more popular custom in Yemen was the reciting of all Berachot together after one dressed and was on his way out to synagogue.

Site Admin: RMb"M calls the recitation of the blessings at the Bet Knesseth an incorrect practice.

Talmid of r. Arusi continues: This is clearly a simpler way of doing things. I have no opinion as to when people washed their hands, however if they studied Torah prior to going to synagogue then they washed prior to Birchot Hatorah. Rabbi Amram Korah in his "Sea'arat Teiman" makes a very good point, which Rabbi QafaH would may very well have agreed with. Why would the RMb"M write

(Tefilla 7,9) "The Custom among the people in most of the cities/towns is to recite all of the blessings one after another in the synagogue whether they are obligated in the particular Beracha or not. This is a mistake, one should not make a Beracha unless they are obligated to."

Although Maimonides seems to be stating the Talmudic custom in halachot 3,4,5 etc...  He is only saying in Halacha 9 that he feels that the saying of a Beracha that one is not required to say is a Beracha LeVatala. Not that reciting the blessing a little bit later after the act is a problem.

Site Admin: I think I actually agree with this. Since this is a blessing over a benefit (not a miswah).

Talmid of r. Arusi continues: (Hence, many communities, have one reciting the Berachot and everyone answering amen which does not necessarily constitute a Beracha Levatala for those answering Amen - it might create a problem for the person reciting the Berachot).

Site Admin: Nope. I disagree with this, because this is clearly an incorrect practice in RMb"M's eyes. Clearly, one should (to begin with) thank HaShem (as soon after) the benefit as he can.

Talmid of r. Arusi continues: So you see, the RMb"M acknowledges the custom of his time and probably that which preceded his time by many years. Chances are, that the situation was quite similar in Yemen.

Rabbi Arussi's approach in most matters - for most people- is for one to practice Judaism in a very stable fashion and as much in line with acceptable practices of today. Thus he would suggest to you to follow the Maharitz' opinion in this case, which keeps pretty much in line with the mainstream of Judaism today - as well as holding true to the RMb"M's comment of not reciting Berachot on things one is not obligated in.

Site Admin. comment: In the end, I didn't buy this reasoning.

It is actually easier for someone to say each brakha as he/she does it, than
to say it as they are walking to the Kanis. Once you try it, it makes perfect sense (IE: to
say zokayf kefufim - right after you stand or oter Yisrael b'tiferath as you wrap your head
or the blessing for rubbing your eyes)... Look, we need to train ourselves properly. If (aferwards) we forget something, than thank later. But the practice of repeating these blessings in a Kanis, one after the other is wrong, because it conditions people to WAIT, and then thank HaShem.

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What changes - if any- do we make during the ten days of Teshuva...: I.E.: Uvkhen

Friend: I opened up my sidur tefilah (Siyakh Yerushalayim) shal YH"K, and found the prayer we say A"P R. Yusef QafaH zs"l in the Shacharith.  There, starts with "Uvkhen yithgadash," and goes through "hamalakh hagadhosh." For both YH"K and RH"Sh, it does *not* say "yesh  nohaghim."  It is included in the tefiloth as standard fair.  That leads me to think that some Baladhim had decided to recite the "uvkhen" during the asrath yomei hateshuvah as a form of taganah (I believe that is the right word for a Rabbinic stricture?)

I think you and I solved the question of whether we say "uvkhen" in the berakhah "atah gadhosh." 
The "uvkhen" is found in the Amidhahh for YH"K &  RH"Sh on page shin-khag-jimmal of the weeday/Shabboth sidur.  The
consensus was that we do not say it, since it says "yesh nohaghim."

Site Admin.: That's my take. We do not say it during the 10 days. But we do say it during the high Holy Days. 

About Birkat Hamazon, there are no adjustments during the 10 days.

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Elohai ha-n'shomah / Modeh Ani

Also, according to Rabenu one should start with Elohai haneshama and that's what we were taught since our childhood, though lots of people including Yemenite ones do start with Modeh Ani upon wake-up and there's nothing wrong, even according to Rabenu, about adding additional Tephila's.

The Maran wrote in his Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayim, section # 46, item # 1, that when one awakens from his sleep, he should say, "E-lohai. Neshamah, etc." (My G-d, the soul that thou hast given me, etc.) In Yemen, the practice was somewhat different, viz., to make use of a slightly
different version: "E-lohai. Haneshamah, etc." (My G-d, the soul that thou hast given me, etc.)

Site Admin. - Shalom,

I asked Rav Arussi about your question and his definite answer was ' Just davin by the Sidur', so I guess you would have to follow your Sidur directions.

Site Admin. Comments: The siddur starts with Modeh Ani (which is the mainstream Mahari'S practice). 

However, I start my morning al pi Talmud, as recorded by RMb"M, by mentioning haShem's name first with "Elohai ha-n'shomah".

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The Preservation of an Ancient Fruit


1-   Talmud Bavli lists signs (simonim) for an Ethrog as follows: The ethrog is described as the only tree in which the fruit and the tree have the same taste. In addition, the ethrog is considered unique in that the fruit will stay on the tree past its "season" and continues to grow and thrive year-round.

Taste of bark = Taste of fruit (Talmud Bavli & Yerush)
תלמוד בבלי:מסכת מכות פרק א
תלמוד ירושלמי: מסכת סוכה פרק ג

2- RaMb"M: "If even the slightest amount of an Ethrog is missing, as a result of a hole, it is posul." (Hilchoth Shofar/Sukkah/Lulav 8)....

Also see pereq Zion of הלכות שופר סוכה לולב , where the RMb"M is very specific about describing each of the four species. At the end of pereq ז verse ה , the RMb"M writes the following:

ה ארבעה מינין אלו--מצוה אחת הן, ומעכבין זה את זה; וכולן נקראים מצות לולב. ואין פוחתין מהן, ואין מוסיפין עליהן; ואם לא נמצא אחד מהן, אין מביאים תחתיו מין אחר הדומה לו.

["One may not diminish from them or add to them. If one of the species can not be found, a similar species may not be substituted for it"]

While many claim this refers to substituting one of the other arbeh minim for each other, this still shows the importance of using the right fruit, for the four species.

CONCLUSION: We would only rely upon Yemenite Ethrogim, which contain no juice whatsoever. In other words, their interiour is only rind, which tastes identical to the vine of the tree.  I have verified this with the 9 trees we have growing on our family’s property. In addition to that sign, it also satisfies the sign of "growing on the tree all year long" (if left unpicked). We believe the seriousness of this identification is backed up by RaMb"M, who required an Ethrog to be complete (not missing something).


The rest of the article below is commentary (that deals with other related issues):


According to the RMb"M (Mose Maimonides), subbing a lemon for an ethrog (pronounced esrog by Askhenaz Jews) is forbidden on the Jewish festival of Sukkoth. RaMb"M also writes: "If even the slightest amount of an Ethrog is missing, as a result of a hole, it is posul." (Hilchoth Shofar/Sukkah/Lulav 8).

In their codes of Jewish Law, Yemenite rabbis said that one must not use grafted or cross breed etrogs (especially where lemon stock is suspected), because they were convinced that these practices certainly did ALTER the SIGNS (ie: content) of the Ethrog - in different ways.

Please note that this is not a scientific argument, based on DNA or species types. Rather, it is based on ethrog content and signs (as defined in Talmud and Halacha).

However, we still feel science is not being accurate about SPECIES arguments either. But again, Torah NEVER argued based on DNA or SPECIES types (which are scientific designations). So we really don't want to get sucked into that type of argument.

Regardless of how or why a so-called "ethrog" exhibits a "lack of" signs (listed in Talmud), only the Yemenite Ethrog has no issues (and thus DOES satisfy all the signs mentioned in Talmud Bavli).

The Yemenite Code of Jewish Law did speak of the problems related to grafted (or perhaps cross bread) ethrogim. Apparently, they did consider these practices as a contributing factor to the disappearance of the required signs:

Yemenite ethrogs, according to Rabbis Yusef QafaH zs"l and Yizhak Ratzhabi, are sure to be from non-grafted trees in OUR (these) TIMES. They consider (only) Yemenite ethrogs kasher for fulfilling the commandment (cf. Rabbi Y. QafaH, ibid., p. 587; Rabbi Y. Ratzhabi, Yemenite Shulkhan Arukh ha-Mekitzar on Orakh Chaim, chap. 3, 117.8). Here is the translation to English in the Mikitsur Shulkhan Arukh:  

"All the ethrogim in our times have a worry of being grafted with lemon, except for the Yemenite ethrog, which is all meat, without any juice. Thus, there is no taking another kind of ethrog."

This is recorded in the abbreviated Yemenite Code of Jewish Law: link to the Hebrew original. The same concepts also appear in the writings of rabbi Yusef QafaH zt"l. This is a unanimous Yemenite opinion.

In our assessment, the underlining concern of these rabbis was still the lack of signs listed in Talmud Bavli. To combat this position, a couple of scientists have tried to show that grafting (in their assessment) can have no effect on DNA. While their argument has no effect on our original legal (sign-oriented) argument (either way), we still see evidence that their science is tainted too. 1


The concept of the unbroken Chambers

Taste of bark = Taste of fruit (Talmud Bavli & Yerush)
תלמוד בבלי:מסכת מכות פרק א
תלמוד ירושלמי: מסכת סוכה פרק ג

This supports the identification of the Temani ethrog over others (in today's times), as ONLY the Temani ethrog's dry white (non-juicy/fleshy) core tastes like the inner bark of an ethrog tree. I have personally verified that the Temani ethrog does indeed taste like the inner bark of the tree. It seems impossible that the fruit of other types (claiming to be ethrogim) could also pass this test, as they are composed of juice.

Regarding this subject, one Temani Rav (referenced below), who is an expert in this subject, used RaShY (a non-Temani source) as one of his collaborating sources. He said as follows:

"First of all, we hold by sources derived from the Mishna and Gamara --first and foremost. When one sees the undeniable facts presented in front of their eyes, there can be no denying the validity of our claim. Here are the facts: In Daf Lamed Waw (amood aleph) of Mishnah Sukka (in the section dealing with kosher signs found in an ethrog): A Rabbi (I believe Rabba) is asking a question. The subject is in regards to the signs of treifah that are found in an animal (cow). According to Jewish Law, if one of the lungs (simponot = pipes) of an animal are black, is it still kosher? Also, if the pipes are rotted, is it still kosher? The answer to both is that the lungs must have chambers to be kosher (they can’t be black and they must be in tact). Otherwise they are posul."

According to this commentary, the Gamara (itself) makes a comparison between the ethrog and an animal -- in terms of kashruth. RaShY (who is rarely used by Temanim to back up halakha) explains that the chambers where the seeds are located inside of an ethrog are thus compared (ie: equal) to the chambers inside of the lungs. In order to understand this point, one really needs to study the detailed ethrog pictures that are referenced on this page. Then, they need to compare it to the chambers (pipes) inside of a cow's lungs. This is one of many places where the Yemenites agree with RaShY.

According to this Temani rav: "This description is so convincing that many in the Ashkenaz world have dropped their own minhogim (regarding the pureness of their ethrogim) in favor of the Temanim."

This is not a slap against the Gadolei Israel of yesterday. On the contrary, this is a scolding of today's current ethrog industry.

The Chosem Sofer further explains one Gamara (I believe discussed in Orach Chayim 207) as follows: He says that if one finds juice or lemon-like flesh, it is not an ethrog al pi Torah. Thus, it can not be eaten raw (which brings up a halachic doubt on the ethrog). Whereas, the Temani ethrogim are considered kosher for raw consumption.  

When one looks at the majority of fruit being sold as ethrogim (today), the chambers (pipes) are either broken or not in tact. Or they are so thin, the continuity of the chambers is questionable. This is a very serious matter. Not so with Temani ethrogim:

Picture of "unbroken" ethrog chambers/ pipes

The incredibly thick nature of the Yemenite ethrog almost always makes this a non-issue. In the seven years I have examined these ethrogim, I have never seen broken or rotted chambers/pipes. Many Ashkenazim, who are super strict about any contact with things like kitnioth (kitnius), have thus switched over to the Teman ethrogim. The ethrog issue is as just as severe (or more) as issues like kitnioth.

Another reported sign of grafted ethrogim is that many do not have any seeds inside them. And the ones that do, look like lemon seeds.

Bottom line, there is a serious chashash over today’s ethrogim. When my rav sells an ethrog, Heaven forbid someone should make a brakha l’tal (blessing in vain). Today, most manufactures set up Shomrim and checkers to make sure the trees are not being grafted. But this does absolutely nothing to make sure the seeds didn't come from grafted trees.

I have posted (ethrog vs. hakava) pictures to back up every single letter I am typing. These pictures show the differences I am speaking about. See below.

I had the privilege of meeting rabbi Shalom Ghoori in NY last Sukkoth. He is considered a leading expert on ethrogim in the NY area. Many great rabbis that he knows, who followed their father's traditions (on ethrog types) since arriving in America, have slowly come over to the evidence against today's grafting industry. He was able to explain to me a few techniques on how to tell a grafted ethrog from a non-grafted one (besides what is already written above). He has dealt with people in both the lemon and ethrog industries for many years.

He said that the ethrogim that had seed growth that was circular was a sign of non-grafted ethrogim. This is in contrast to one-sided seed growth. Although both the lemon and ethrog appear to have circular seed growth, the circle of growth is more apparent in the ethrog (where every chamber has a seed).

Upon further research, I think the rav was specifically referring to the fact that non-grafted citrons have seeds that lie longitudinally (i.e. parallel to the long axis), while in the murkav (grafts) the seeds lie latitudinally (horizontally). However, I don't know how this maps up with modern science.

Here is the picture that demonstrates seed grow:

Also (as mentioned above), the chambers on the non-grafted ethrogim were clear and in tact--much like a cow's glatt-kosher lungs. I have taken the liberty to take photos of one them. See here:

There are a few other ways to identify grafted fruit. I have done my best to remember these "tricks" below. However, this is coming from old memories.

Another identifying mark used to identify a grafted ethrog is a pronounced/protruding stem crown. I've also heard that spots on the stem are a sign of grafted types. However, I am no longer able to understand the application of these tricks. I suspect, I am remembering them incorrectly. He said these were quick tests- without looking inside. That much... I remember.

If I remember correctly, he said that lemon-grafted stems have tiny dark dots and a slightly obtruding crown whereas non-grafted species do not.

Here are pictures of a non-grafted types:


I am in the process of acquiring other types of "ethrogim" from different friends of mine to complete the comparison. I'll keep you informed.

Also: In pereq Zion of הלכות שופר סוכה לולב , the RMb"M is very specific about describing each of the four species. At the end of pereq ז verse ה , the RMb"M writes the following:

ה ארבעה מינין אלו--מצוה אחת הן, ומעכבין זה את זה; וכולן נקראים מצות לולב. ואין פוחתין מהן, ואין מוסיפין עליהן; ואם לא נמצא אחד מהן, אין מביאים תחתיו מין אחר הדומה לו.

["One may not diminish from them or add to them. If one of the species can not be found, a similar species may not be substituted for it"]

According to the Miqitsur Shulkhan Arukh (referenced above) and rabbi Yosef Qafah's (zt") note in the siddur, that ethrogim did not have fleshy juice. This was one way the sages were able to tell lemons from ethrogim. They were very particular about this. There is also a source about the way and place in which the seeds group inside the ethrog.

Bottom line: According to the Miqitsur Shulkhan Orach, all of today's (so-called) ethrogim are in doubt. Apparently, they could be grafted onto lemons. This is the fear.

Based on these factors, the majority of Temani Rabbonim have ruled that in today's times, "grafted" (or mixed) ethrogim are thus subbed and unfit for the miswah. Only Temani ethrohgim have avoided this snag.

Ethroghim of a mixed variety (ie: that contain any kind of lemon species) are forbidden on Sukkoth. Only Yemenite ethrogs, according to Morenu (Mori QafaH zs"l) and Yizhak Ratzhabi  are sure to be from non-grafted trees. They consider such ethrogs kasher for fulfilling the commandment (cf. Rabbi Y. QafaH, ibid., p. 587; Rabbi Y. Ratzhabi, Shulhan Arukh ha-Mekutzar, 3, 117.). It's a shame that in today's times, mahadar miswah has overrode the need to accurately and properly fulfill the Miswah. By the way, someone pointed out a Gamara - that the size of the ethrog has little (if anything) to do with Mehadar Miswah--as is widely accepted today.

1. Due to the fact that the fruit must be whole and not missing a piece (chaser), the grafted etrog is considered as coming from partially from each fruit and therefore not complete.

2. Possibly the identity of a fruit is determined by the trunk of the tree on which it appears, meaning that a grafted etrog is not even considered to be an etrog but rather a lemon.

3. Because the fruit consists partially of a lemon, using it for the mitzwah entails adding an additional species, which violates the prohibition of bal tosif (adding onto mitzvot).

4. Interspecies grafting of any kind is a biblical prohibition, and using the progeny of an illicit act for a mitzwah is "repugnant to God."

NOTE: Prof. Eliezer Goldschmidt says that (in his assessment) there is simply no way to tell if an etrog today is a descendent of a grafted tree or one that naturally cross pollinated years ago. This type of thinking assumes that all of today's ethrogim must be grafted or mixed in some way. Also, he appears to believe there is no significant difference in DNA between "ethrogim" today.

In the end, we obviously respect the good professor's opinion. However, we strongly disagree with his assessment. He apparently tried to prove (scientifically) that the majority of DNA is the determining factor in species. Halachically, this doesn't hold up. This isn't a DNA situation over here. If there is no subbing, you can't play with the DNA at all. This is part of a much larger subject that leads into books about genes, cloning, hybrids and other stuff. Genetic diversity (what we call un surety) also places a role in this. There are many scientific sites that explore the scientific angle (of genetic diversity in citrus) in great detail.


In our conclusion, all of the above pictures and studies prove that there is a clear and discernable difference between the Temani ethrog and others, especially when compared to lemons. Therefore, only the Temani ethrog (when purchased from a reliable and trusted source) can be relied upon as a pure citron.


Refuting bad science:

Regarding science's currently popular position, we say the following:

Besides seed positioning inside the fruit, we assert that grafting and/or cross breeding can also create spots & change the indentation of the stem of the fruit. Many have suggested that an authentic ethrog should have ridges on it's exterior - and not be totally smooth. I don't agree with that at all, because I know that the same tree (many times) produces both appearances - depending upon the ethrog. But I digress.

To date, no scientist or professor in the citrus industries (in or out of Israel), has provided evidence that grafting has no effect on the DNA content of an ethrog (as is claimed). Even though this is totally irrelevant to our legal argument, we are still interested in this topic!

Returning to our original (sign-oriented arguments), the "onis probandi" rests on critics to prove their case. Until they can 100% guarantee that grafts have had no effect on the SIGNS of an ethrog (rind vs. juicy interior - which relates to how Yemenite Ethroghim taste exactly like the tree), we will continue to avoid them (at all costs).

Regardless of how or why an ethrog exhibits a lack of signs (listed in Talmud), the Yemenite Ethrog fits the bill.

Thus, we opt for Ethrogim that have a tradition of being "non-grafted" (while meeting the Talmudic signs). We also avoid using Ethrogim that exhibit features of being cross-hybrid-bread with lemons.

That grafting can mess up the inner content of a tree or fruit is proven:

"Occasionally, a so-called 'graft hybrid' or 'chimaera' can occur where the tissues of the stock continue to grow within the scion. Such a plant can produce flowers and foliage typical of both plants as well as shoots intermediate between the two. The best-known example is probably +Laburnocytisus 'Adamii', a graft hybrid between laburnum and broom, which originated in a nursery near Paris, France in 1825. "

Resume Main Article on Ethrogim

New Section: Still Ethrog Photos: Florida

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Doubts About the Eruvin in America

The RMBM (and most Rishonim, and Talmud itself) states that a street which is 16 amoth wide is a "Toraitic public domain". According to Torah and Rabbinic Law, one is not permitted to carry in a 'public domain' (רשות הרבים ). It is not possible to make an `eruv' which includes a public domain, since the entire concept of `eruv' is a Rabbinic enactment to permit carrying between Rabbinically forbidden domains (and which were forbidden by the Rabbis to prevent people from getting confused as to what was really permitted or forbidden regarding carrying in domains). An eruv can not convert such a 'public domain' into a private one.

So carrying from one's house into almost any street in a modern city, is actually a Torah prohibition, for which the `eruv' is of no avail. Although there is a legal imperative to be lenient, where there are doubts about a rabbinic decree (ie: an eruv), this necessarily flows over into the realm of Torah. The ("Geon started / RaShY popularized") belief that less than 600,000 people (in an area) can nullify this concept (through a carmalit) is not an original, accepted concept, even though it is commonly accepted by many of our Ashkenaz brothers.

The RMb"M also mentions the legal requirement of a lockable Eruv, with real walls. Strings are not walls - nor could they nullify 16 amoth (even if valid walls).

Laws of Shabboth: Chapt 14:1: RMb"M's Mishneh Torah

הלכות שבת פרק יד

א  איזו היא רשות הרבים--מדברות ויערים ושדות, ודרכים המפולשין להן:  ובלבד שיהיה רוחב הדרך שש עשרה אמה, ולא תהיה עליו תקרה.  ואי זו היא רשות היחיד--תל שגבוה עשרה טפחים, ורחב ארבעה טפחים על ארבעה טפחים או יתר על כן; וכן חריץ שהוא עמוק עשרה, ורחב ארבעה על ארבעה או יתר על כן; וכן מקום שהוא מוקף ארבע מחיצות, גובהן עשרה וביניהן ארבעה על ארבעה או יתר על כן, אפילו יש בה כמה מילין, אם הוקף לדירה כגון מדינה המוקפת חומה שדלתותיה ננעלות בלילה; ומבואות שיש להן שלושה כתלים, ולחי ברוח רביעית; וכן חצר ודיר וסהר, שהוקפו לדירה:  כולן, רשות היחיד גמורה הן.

Response to a friend: Regarding problems with Modern Erub:


Shalom shalom,

Your desire to unite the community (in halachic practice) is daunting and admirable. Below, I have responded to your latest query with very clear and simple proof. While you read this, I sincerely hope you will appreciate the following fact: carrying (from private to public) is a d’oraitha issue (not rabbinic).

With regard to the requirement of less than 16 ammoth:

RaMb"M, the only halachic codifier with stated access to a 500 year old text of Talmud Bavli (TB), clearly and simply states the (< 16 ammoth) rule right here:

Thus, IF there are streets inside our “eruv” that are GREATER THAN 16 ammoth wide, it can NOT be an eruv.

This comes from Talmud Bavli - Shabbath 99a.

"Raba said: The sides of the wagon equaled the fit internal breadth of the waggon, and how much was the internal breadth of the waggon? Two cubits and a half.  Why was this necessary: a cubit and a half would have sufficed?  — In order that the boards should not jump about. Then as to what we have as an established fact that the path width of public ground must be sixteen cubits: since we learn it from the Tabernacle, surely the public ground of the Mishkan was fifteen (only)? There was an additional cubit where a Levite stood, so that if the boards slipped he would support them."

Rabénu haGadhol does not say anything about 600,000 people here. Here we clearly see that a public domain depends solely on the MEASUREMENTS, and not the CROWD.

In TB, there is no mention of 600,000 person loophole first mentioned by RaShY (insinuated by a geon), which tries to make a carmelit out of a public domain) at all. RaShY tries makes this assertion by trying to relate Eruvin 6b and Berakhoth 58a to the concept of a public domain. However, there is no such relationship there (between the concept of 600,000 people and a public domain). Therefore, it is NOT an original concept of the Sanhedrin. Thus, the 16 amoth issue is still an issue which defines a (De’Oraitha) Public Domain !!!

With regard to the requirement for 4 (lockable) walls:

RaMb”M is AGAIN very clear (Hilkhoth Shabboth 17:10) and Hilchot Eruvin: chapter 1.

With regards to using STRINGS in an eruv in place of walls:

Would strings ever be used as a meHitsa in a Bet Knessath? At best, the strings are considered as “ir muqéfeth diráh”.

You know that I started the Western Eruv in our city? I am now convinced that the very type of Eruv I helped establish over there is extremely problematic (for the above reasons). In fact, I have notified the leading rabbi over there, along with the community, of my serious concerns - since my return. Those exact same reasons exist over here too. But in our communities (in the galuth), who will listen?

With all due (humble) respect, we might be better served by learning halacha through the Mishneh Torah (as RaMb"M himself said), instead of relying upon layers (upon layers) of non-authoritative, later-day pilpul.

With blessings of Torah,

Chayas Site Admin

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Tefillin (according to law) must be warn all day - EVERY DAY. Here is why...

There is an ongoing HALAKHIC imperative (in effect) at all times.

In Hilkoth Tefillin 4:10, it says that one must wear them all day "from day to day" (i.e.: every day). This means tefillin must be worn EVERY DAY - unless otherwise specified. This is backed up by Talmud Bavli and the Hhumash itself: "And you shall observe this ordinance in its season from day to day... From day, but not all days; hence the Sabbath and Festivals are excluded." (Manahhoth 36B on Shemoth XIII,10). This is the opinion of Rabbi Yosi the Galilean.

But even if you prefer rabbi Aqiba's explanation, tefillin are only excluded on those days which stand in need of a sign, but Sabbaths and festivals are excluded, since they themselves are a sign."

And how do we know that tefillin were worn on the Moed (ie: the Moed was not a sign)?


תלמוד ירושלמי מועד קטן

Talmúdh Yerushalmí Mo`édh Qatán

 יב"ב פרק ג הלכה ד משנה  אין כותבין שטרי חוב במועד אם אינו מאמינו או שאין לו מה יאכל הרי זה יכתוב אין כותבין ספרים ותפילין ומזוזות במועד ואין מגיהין אות אחת אפי' בספר העזרה רבי יהודה אומר כותב הוא אדם תפילין ומזוזות לעצמו וטווה לעצמו תכלת לציצת

חד בר נש אובד תפילוי במועדא אתא לגבי ר' חננאל ושלחיה לגבי ר' אבא בר נתן א"ל הב לי תפילך וזיל כתוב לך א"ל רב איזיל כתוב  ליה.  מתניתא פליגא על רב כותב הוא אדם תפילין ומזוזה לעצמו הא לאחר לא פתר לה בכותב להניח


Talmúdh Yerushalmí Mo`édh Qatán

Mishnáh...Ribbí Yehudhá says "a person writes Tefillín and Mezuzóth to himself".

A certain person lost his Tefillin on Hol haMo`edh and came to Ribbi Hanane'el and he sent to Ribbi 'Abba' bar Nathan, who instructed him: Give me your Tefiláh, and go write yourself . Rab said to him: "write for him". The Mishnah disagrees with Rab: a person writes Tefillin and Mezuzoth for himself, for another person is not permitted! (He understands it as dealing with) writing in order to wear (them on Hol haMo`edh).

It is clear that tefillin must be warn every day (even on a MOED). The only exceptions are the Sabbath and Festivals "Yomim Tovim".

This is certainly the original way of understanding it, and there was never any universally recognized authority to deviate from this Torah practice.

In relation to this topic, the Geonic work (Halakoth Geduloth) clearly records an "illegal deviation" from the original practice of wearing tefillin on the Moed. In fact, this work proves that tefillin IS REQUIRED (and was required) to be worn on the Moed.

"They asked Mar Rab Yaakov the son of Habib a question concerning Tefillin and he answered, 'It is forbidden to put on Tefillin on the Hol HaMoed.' And [another] question was asked: 'How do we know that it's forbidden to put them on?' [To which it was replied], 'What is the reason? Because they have made it (i.e. the Hol HaMoed) like the Sabbath and the Feast Day'."

"They have made it" documents the change. There is no question about it. Jewish law originally did (and certainly still does!) require us to wear tefillin on the Moed. Whether this alteration was immediately followed by some at that time, or retroactively followed by some later on - is an open question. Many argue that this (deviating) practice was not followed, until the influence of Zohar and Lauria retroactively used it as a justification to start the practice. Regarding this, I can not say. The only thing I know (for certain) is that we DO (and did) wear tefillin on the Moed.

In this article, we will eventually address the validity of this geonic "decree", which begins (or suggests the start of) the practice (by many) of treating the Moed as a festival (in terms of forbidding Jews to wear tefillin), because the Jews (in that time) treated the Moed "like a festival". Before we go this geonic work, here is some background information.

Background Information: Framing the Initial Argument

In Torah law, tefillin was/is required to be warn every day, unless otherwise specified (i.e.: the Sabbath and Festivals "Yomim Tovim" are the only exceptions). No where in written or oral law does (did) it specifically mention the term "Hol shel moed" or plain "moed" - as an exception that "forbids" wearing them.

Therefore, we must fall back on our original (EXTANT) legal requirements... One is (and was) legally required to wear them every day (unless otherwise legally directed not to). This is the law... not the tradition, according to Torah m'Sinai al fi haRMb"M. Wearing or not wearing tefillin has ZERO to do with tradition - as many would have us incorrectly believe.

Thus, the only question is as follows: when is it required (or forbidden) to  wear them?


In Hilkhoth Tefillin 4:10, the RMb"M says tefillin are not warn on "Yomim Tovim" (which are days we do not work at all). He does not use the term "b'Holo shel moad" or "moad" here, as he does in Hilkhoth Sh'vitat Yum Tuv 6:22. Please make a note of this.

 אבל כותב הוא אדם תפילין ומזוזה לעצמו, וטווה תכלת לבגדו.  ואם אין לו מה יאכל, כותב ומוכר לאחרים כדי פרנסתו. (Hilkoth Shvitat Yum Tuv 7:13).

On the Moad, "He may write tefillin for himself, even to make money if he has no food.

Throughout the entire chapter, almost everything that is mentioned (that is permitted) must be done for the sake of the Hol shel moed. Surely he is not writing tefillin here (in this case) to sell to someone who will use it after Hol shel moed. But rather, the intent is that the customer plans on using it during the Moad.

Also, we see in Hilkoth Tafilah 2:10: that the Amidah (of the Moad) is just like the week days -with one exception. No one is saying that these are not special days (that required additional sacrifices and Holiness). Indeed they are Holy (see Hilkoth Sh'vitat Yom Tuv 7:1). But they are "not referred to as a Sabbath or Festivals". Thus, there was no sign for those days.

Thus, they are not Moadim Tuvim (Yom Tuvim). On festivals, 5 people are called to Torah.

On Hol shem moed, only 4. (Hilkoth 12:16).

Clearly, they are different.

It is interesting to note that Rabbi Yosef Caro, who always made a point to chose from the majority of the sources - when compiling his law code, did not do so in the case of Tefillin on the Moed. In this case, he did not follow the majority of sources, one of whom was the RMb"M.

From what I understand of MARAN Karo, he believed that RMb"M upheld the requirement to where tefillin on the Moed. And the Rosh (or the Rif-I forget) also held this way... So he should have required tefillin on the Moed (chosen the majority). But in this case he did not, citing reasons that most likely came from Qabalistic sources, about how this compared to cutting down a tree. However, we do not posqen according to Zohar.

The following discussions in Mishnah/Gamara (Bavli Moed Kattan 18b-19a) and the Jerusalem Talmud speak to the permissibility of writing tefillin on the moed, in order to feed himself or family.

"We do not write debt documents on Chol Hamoed, but if he [RaShY: the lender] doesn't trust him [the borrower], or if he [The scribe] doesn't have what to eat - he writes [the debt document]. We don't write Torah scrolls, tefillin or mezuzas on Chol Hamoed . . . Rabbi Judah says: a person writes tefillin and mezuzot for himself [RaShY: In order to fulfill that mitzwah]."

Gemara: The Rabbis taught: "A person writes tefillin and mezuzot for himself . . . according to Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Judah says: He may engage in a legal fiction and sell his own and go back and write for himself. Rabbi Joseph says: One writes and sells in his normal fashion in order to support himself. Rav taught Rabbi Chanananel, though some say it was Rabbah bar Bar Chanah who [taught] Rav Channanel: The law is that one writes and sells in his normal fashion in order to support himself. And the law is one writes and sells in his normal fashion in order to support himself.

Jerusalem Talmud Moed Kattan 82a: A certain person lost his tefillin on Chol Hamoed and came to Rabbi Channanel [Korban Ha'edah: Who was a scribe], and he sent to Rabbi Abba bar Nattan, who instructed him "Give him your tefillin, and go write yourself [a set of tefillin]." Rav said to him: "Write [tefillin] for him." The Mishnah disagrees with Rav [saying] "a person writes tefillin and mezuzot for himself" [which indicates he may not write] for others! He understood it [the Mishnah] as referring to [one who writes] to set aside [Korban Ha'edah: for wearing after the holiday, but to wear them on Chol Hamoed, it is permitted to write even for others].


The main work of the Talmud came to an end with the death of Ravina in 4259 (499ce). Rav Ashi and Ravina were the end of the decision making (horoth). This initiated the period of the Savoraim, who made some additions to the Talmud and placed it in its final form. It appears that it is these Savoraim who the RMb"M refers to as the FIRST GAONIM. Since the Savoraim headed academies including all the sages of the time, their decisions are as binding as those of the Talmud. The period of the Savoraim lasted for 90 years until 4349ce (589 ce). Following the Savoraim came the official period of the Gaonim. They headed the great academies of Sura and Pumbetitha in Babylonia, which had been founded in Talmudic times.

As the RMb"M correctly noted in the introduction of his law code some 500 years after the Savoraim:

"In our time disasters continually follow one another. The need of the moment sets aside every other consideration. The wisdom of our wise men is lost, and the learning of our learned men is hidden. All the "settled" interpretations, codes and responses which the Geonim composed, and which they thought were easy of understanding (here the RMb"M means the FIRST GAONIM=Savoraim), have become unintelligible in our days, and there are but few who are able to comprehend them."

Thus, only the "settled" works of the original (first) Gaonim were considered authoritative. Anything created after that time does (did not have a) legitimate basis in law.

One of the reasons that RMb"M created his Mishneh Torah was to address the settled laws vs. the unsettled, non-authoritative issues that arose after the original Gaonim. Thus, RMb"M provided a comprehensive code, without any arguments or counterarguments, in clear and unmistakable terms. This was in perfect accord with the decisions that were deduced from all the treatises and interpretations existing since the time of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch, compiler of the Mishna until the present day."

Even during their times, no one had the authority (according to Torah) to add or diminish from the Torah in the form of decrees and laws. However, this did not stop them from doing so:

"The geonim occasionally 'transcended' the Talmudic laws and issued new decrees. At the time of the gaons Mar R. Huna at Sura and Mar R. Rabba at Pumbedita (c. 670), for instance, the measures taken in relation to a refractory wife were different from those prescribed in the Talmud (Ket. 62b). Toward 785 the geonim decreed that debts and the ketubah might be levied on the movable property of orphans. Decrees of this kind were issued jointly by both academies; and they also made common cause in the controversy with Ben Meïr regarding a uniform Jewish calendar (see "R. E. J." xlii. 192, 201).

"The RMb"M publicly says flattering things about the geonim (i.e.: He called Halakhoth Gadoloth a work of G-D in his Mishna commentary).

However, he then turns around and rejects their words as nonsense as well.
Privately he was very critical ("vicious" is no exaggeration!) of them.
We may dismiss their rebel legislations, unless we are ourselves rebels.
When they say something reasonable, it is foolish to reject it, of course
(and RMBM did not, when it it was reasonable). Apparently, political correctness is NOT a
latter-day-saintly thing, but an old custom that even RMBM liked to

Regarding this issue, refer to Only the first two chapters are CRITICAL, and the first 3 paragraphs of the 3 chapter; thereafter is details that need not concern one...and matters
of honoring and fearing parents in the chapters after 4. Obviously, these works are
to be learned from, but not used as legal sources.

In short, OLD is not always good, nor authoritative, either.

Site Admin: Here is an important lesson in logic. Even though I tend to
appreciate the old, we need to be careful about a fallacy of logic called
'Arugumentum ad Antiquitum'. This is the belief that something is true,
simply because it is older. This is totally illogical. The Oldest is not always correct, although I do see the importance of studying it...but never to assume it as correct on age alone. Thus, Halakhoth Gadoloth is a important Geonic work to study, but should not be relied upon as a LEGAL GUIDE.

The only thing that matters is what is incumbent on the whole of Israel.
The Torah is our constitution. Anything that is unconstitutional is not law, but color of law.

Regarding comments about the power of the Babylonian exilarch...being in a position to help settle disputes is totally different from being in a position to make new or nullify old siyyaghim, taqqanoth, or minhaghim.

Even the Babylonian sages never had the power to contradict the authoritative legal traditions established in the Land of Israel.  Their new decrees and customs were only intended to safeguard the law.  Their authority was based on their unique ability to determine and officially codify what the original law was, and the fact that its rulings were accepted by the majority of the Jewish People—which no later court could claim.   

In the context of the rest of Talmudic literature, the Talmud Bavli remains the primary source of the Halakhah (official Jewish Law).   

If there is a question regarding original Babylonian legislation, certainly noone after Rav Ashe and Rav Ravina has the authority to add to, or give an alternative ruling to rabbinical law, as it was written down by the time the Talmud Bavli - and formally sealed, about 500 C.E.  Since then, only authentic Talmudic Law—based purely on the written word from the original Talmudic literature—is the Halachah.

SUMMARY OF GAONIC WORK: "Halakhoth Gadoloth"

Seven New Geniza Fragments of Halakhot Pesukot
and Hilkhot Reu Hilkhot Mila
Yehonatan Etz-Chayim

Yehonatan Etz - Chayim, in "Seven New Geniza Fragments of Halakhot Pesukot and Hilkhot Re'u 'Hilkhot Mila'," presents six fragments of Halakhot Pesukot' Hilkhot Mila' and one fragment of a parallel section of Hilkhot Re'u, all hitherto un published. The Halakhot Pesukot fragments, from six different but overlapping manuscripts from the 13th to the 14th (and perhaps the 15th) centuries, bridge the sections published by Etz - Chaim in Sidra volume 2. Together with other sections published re cently by the author elsewhere, almost all of the missing part of the Sassoon edition of 'Hilkhot Shabbat' of Halakhot Pesukot has been published.

Etz - Chayim compares the fragments with the other major halakhic compendium from the Geonic period, Halakhot Gedolot. Special attention is given to the additions in Halakhot Gedolot which are absent in Halakhot Pesukot. Some of these additions have been found to contradict the text common to both halakhot Gedolot and Halakhot Pesukot, as times causing difficulties in understanding the additional material. Quotes from the Babylonian Talmud found in Halakhot Pesukot and in Halakhot Gedolot are compared to our version, and indications have been found of different versions of the Talmud text sometimes used by the Geonim. Proof has been discovered that sometimes the Geonic redactor himself rephrased the "different version".

The Additional Passages in Halakhot Gedolot in comparison to Halakhot Pesukot and their Halakhic Mark on the Rishonim 
Yehonatan Etz-Chaim

In "The Additional Passages in Halakhot Gedolot in comparison to Halakhot Pesukot and their halakhic Mark on the Rishonim", Yehonatan Etz-Chaim extends the observation he made in Sidra, volume 2. There he noted the presence of additions in Halakhot Gedolot which are not merely a quotation, a supplement or a paraphrase of Talmudic sources, but which are, instead, either an independent explanation of the words of the Babylonian Talmud or a wholly independent addition with no basis in talmud ic literature. Not one of these additions left its mark in the halakhic decisions of Alfasi or Maimonides, who frequently decided the halakhah in opposition to these additions. The same is true of other Rishonim. Etz-Chaim's conclusions there were based o n the comparison of a limited amount of material, and a small number of additions - only six. In the current study he undertakes to compare a larger section, the laws of Passover.

Etz-Chaim found thirty-seven additions to the laws of Passover in Halakhot Gedolot compared with Halakhot Pesukot, with sources in the Yerushalmi, the Tosefta, the Mekhilta de-R.Ismael, Baraitot and sugyot in the Babylonian Talmud, Saboraic sources and th e Sheiltot. A study of these sources led to the following conclusions: a. These additions left no impression in Alfasi or Maimonides : b. Even in those instances where there were items in these additions, parallel to Alfasi and Maimonides, yet these halakhic deciders had used the common, direct source and not Halakhot Gedolot ; c. There are additions whose rulings these halakhic desciders opposed ; d. There are additions for which Alfasi and Maimonides themselves served as the source ; e. Those additions whose source was the Sheiltot are later than Alfasi and Maimonides ; f. A few other additions originated in Ashkenaz and in France.

The following quote from Halakhoth Gadoloth is an English translation of this topic. This Geonic quote (responsa) is relied on by many (most) Yemenite Jews to justify their practice of not wearing tefillin on Hol shel Moed.

"They asked Mar Rab Yaakov the son of Habib a question concerning Tefillin and he answered, 'It is forbidden to put on Tefillin on the Hol HaMoed.' And [another] question was asked: 'How do we know that it's forbidden to put them on?' [To which it was replied], 'What is the reason? Because they have made it (i.e. the Hol HaMoed) like the Sabbath and the Feast Day'."

In my assessment, the above quote represents a clear changing of the law in relation to the conditions of the time. I argue that this change was made at the time of the Geonim, by the Geonim themselves. IE: They changed the law because people started treating the Hol shel moed as (like) a Festival. OR they were confused on Talmudic versions (see Fragment evidence below). Thus, this change was made as a reaction to the way Jews started treating the Hagim (Festivals). Originally, the Hol shel moed (intermediary days) were not treated as a Festival, and thus tefillin were required, as like every day except Shabboth and Festivals.

Halachoth Gedoloth was written long before RMb"M in anno 743 C.E. However, "older does not always make it righter".

Ribbi Shim`on (in Talmud) proves we have to follow the legislation of the Sanhedrin (and court of r. Ashe and r. Ravina), in terms
of their concept of "majority rules. See Yerushalmi:

ר"ש בן יוחי הוה עבד בשמיטתא וחמי חד מלקט שביעית א"ל ולית אסור ולאו ספיחין אינון א"ל ולא את הוא מתירן א"ל ואין חבירי חלוקין עלי קרא עליו דף כה,ב פרק ט הלכה א גמרא (קוהלת י) ופורץ גדר ישכנו נחש וכן הוות ליה

So I guess the main question is this: Does what is written in Halakhoth Gadoloth actually represent the words of the earlier Sanhedrin (and court of r. Ashe and r. Ravina). Or is it a post-Sanhedrin (and court of r. Ashe and r. Ravina) change that lacks authority?

A copy of page from Halakhoth Gadoloth can be found at :

Either way (as stated above), Halakhoth Gadoloth is a work to be studied, but we do not posqen according to it.

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Hagadda: "JoEl Yisrael" vs "JoAwl Yisrael"

One friend notes:

> In Mori Yusef's nosaH for MT, he has ga'al, which we originally used in
> the haggadah; but then on shabbath when reading Frankel's notes, I noted
> that F. says that MT has go'el in all but one Yemenite manuscript, which
> happens to agree with the standard Baladi text, too.  So now it is
> go'el/Who redeems instead of ga'al/Who has redeemed.

Site Admin. Comments: I went home after work and triple checked the Torath Avoth (Mahari"S / Eys Hhayim al pi r. Yusef Salahh) Siddur. It says Jo-El Yisrael with no footnote. Surprisingly, so did Ben Tsur's Saana edition. So does the edition put out by Hhaim ben Tsur. HOWEVER,  Rav Qafah's Siyahh Yerushalayim said "Jawal" (who has redeemed/delivered-past tense)--as opposed to JoEl Yisrael (present). So there you are. 

Regarding the r. Frankel/ QafaH stuff... For me it is not a matter of quantity as r. Frankel would have us believe. Because anyone could have perpetuated an error in large quantity through scribes. However, it is more a matter of quality... which is why I believe Rav QafaH's version was more on target, as it happens to agree with r. Saadia Gaon's oldest siddur, which preceded the RMb"M by 200 or so years. R. QafaH was well aware of all the differences when he made his final decision. One of my friends had the following to say:

A Talmid of r. Arusi says:
 Both Rabbi/Dr. Arussi and Rabbi/Dr. Moshe Gavra are of the belief that the custom is Goel, not in line with Rabbi QafaH's opinion. Rabbi Arussi likes to say that Ribbi A'akiva in the Mishna (Pesahim 10, 6) seems to be speaking of the future and therefore to him it seems more likely that he would have said Goel (present, future tense). The Frankel edition of the RMb"M (which by the way is not just Rabbi Frankel but a group of scholars) follows a different approach than Rabbi QafaH. In fact, they try to keep themselves disassociated with Rabbi QafaH's edition, to the best of my knowledge. HaRav QafaH did not rely heavily on the Oxford manuscript of the RMb"M whereas they do. They are composed of a group of scholars from the Benei Beraq Yeshiva world and are not necessarily academics--(Site Admin. comment: in terms of the western scientific method). At times these issues might work against their objectivity. I do not doubt that Joel might be a more authentic Nusah. (SITE ADMIN COMMENT: I do!). Other than reading different opinions and studies, I have little to go on. The most important thing to me is that what I say does not spoil the occasion for others and that I best fit in with my surroundings.  I personally say Joal since I'm more convinced by the fact that just about every other Nusah seems to say Joal other than some Yemenite manuscripts.   

Regards and have a hag Kasher VeSameyahback to questions

Site Admin: Comments: Here is a copy of r. Saadia Gaon's Hagada. Here it clearly says: GO-AL (not GO AYL). Here is the documentation: --spelled: Gimal, Aleph, Lamed not GO-AYL with an added wow. Make your decision from there. As far as I know, this is one of the oldest siddurim in the world. It may even be the oldest. Although "oldest" does not always mean most accurate, there you have it.

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The minhag of the Baladi Yemenites (endorsed by Maharitz(see "Peulat Tzadik") and Mori Yuseph QafaH zs"l - is that we can take haircuts on Erev Shabbat, as was our tradition for thousands of years. 

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Hhanuka at the conclusion of Shabboth

Hhanuka Lighting Times:

On Sat night, it is Yemenite custom to light the menorah first (before Havdala)... and then to light the Havdala candle--being sure to wait enough time for the Shabboth to leave.  This is in line with what RMB"M records.

REGARDING FRIDAY NIGHT: the Siahh siddur says: "it is our tradition to light the Shabboth light and after to light for Hhanukah". So I guess we keep in mind to light an addition (Hhanukah) flame (just before sundown) as we light for Shabboth

We say full Hallel by Shahharith during the week days of Hhanuka from beginning to end.

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JA'ALEH: Eating fruits (or nosh) after Qiddish, before bread

You (i.e.: and the Maharis) are definitely correct regarding the origin of Jaaleh. I found out where the RMb"M mentions the health reason for eating fruit (at the beginning of the meal). There may be more in a teshuvah somewhere else that goes into more detail. But either way, the source does derive from manners as you wrote. This was just medical advice from the RMb"M in hilkhoth deot : chp 4.

One of my friends had the following to say on this topic :

The Talmud Bavli clearly outlines all of these (most probably Greek in origin) manners and eating styles. The reason that they (the Sepharadim) have lost this custom (not all Sephardim) is simply because of Pilpulim.

Moroccans and other North Africans still keep this custom and up until 200 years ago the custom existed in Iraq (See Teshuvot Tzedakah U'Mishpat) Harav Hussein describes this exact custom. He was born in Syria in 1699 (which probably means it was practiced there as well) and in 1743 elected as chief Rabbi of Baghdad. Ironically HaRav Ovadia Yosef did not mention his predecessor when discussing this issue.
As for the problems with the blessings, this has always been one of 
the reasons the Sephardic Jews have abandoned this ancient custom.
But as for us, the antiquity of this practice is clearly shown by 
the following: RaShY mentions it in Ketuboth 8.b s.v. ÷åãí àëéìä, 
who writes there that thus was the custom, in all of their large 
suppers, to eat fruit before the meal. So, too, does RaShY mention 
this practice in Sukkah 27.a, s.v. ôøôøàåú. The great Sephardic 
Rabbis of our time have forbidden this practice, out of doubt 
whether or not one is obligated to say a final blessing over the 
fruits before his breaking of the bread. However, a general rule 
with us states that where there is a custom to do a certain thing, 
one does NOT say, "Dubious blessings require leniency." (i.e. As we 
would say with regard to doubts of a rabbinical nature, and would 
avoid the blessing altogether!)  In this case, the Yemenites had it 
as their custom to bless over the fruits, and to fulfill their 
obligations of a final blessing over them when they blessed over 
their meal, at the end of their supper. The general practice of 
eating refreshments before a meal is also upheld by the Jerusalem 
Talmud, Berakhoth 6:4, where there, in the Gemara, Rabbi Yehoshua 
ben Levi explains the meaning of the foregoing Mishnah as implying 
that a man can eat any fruit that he desires (not necessarily the 
seven kinds of fruit had in the land of Israel), each with its 
designated blessing, when he knows that his intention is to eat 
bread after his eating the fruit! This teaching does not contradict 
the Babylonian Talmud, when it discusses the same Misnah. (cf. 
Babylonian Tamud, Berakhoth 41.a-b)

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Top Sages warned against Kapparoth - as a Biblical and/or Rabbinic Prohibition

Bet Yosef quotes RambaN (the recognized leader of Spanish Jewry in his day) – who said it was outright forbidden – as one of the idolatrous ways of the Amorites.

Shulchan Aruch’s Decree : “It is customary practice to slaughter a rooster. This custom should be stopped!”

Rabbenu Chaiye “Gaon” (the master of the authentic Torah tradition) - who was the LEADER OF THE ENTIRE JEWISH WORLD (from Bavl) called it an older custom that “he stopped” people from doing!

RaMb’M’s Mishneh Torah: Hilchoth Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 14:7: Sacrificial (atonement) attempts MUST not be done outside the TEMPLE – or you receive KORAYTH. This practice (that involves the sprinkling of innards) certainly does attempt to precisely mimic a sacrifice in both intent and practice. (Leviticus 17:4 – also refer to book of Negative Commands in RaMb”M’s MT)

Yemenite Jews Rejected It:  Rabbi Mori Qafah ZT”L:
Here is my translation of the very top of Halicoth Teman "Kipur" ( )

"(There is an) ancient tradition (of) k'porath, and during the past there was a tradition to make k'poroth with an animal -- in the past WE acted to make Kiporoth with  flowers - with a species (of) plants. Nevertheless -- we Temani Jews do/did not accept this minhog (of k'paroth)."

Other considerations: Unnecessarily harming of birds can cause kashruth issues (ie: damaging wings – traifah or nevillah).

Site Admin Comment: According to my research, the use of flowers came from (and is mentioned in) the Gamara (as a custom). However, using chickens was apparently started (first recorded) by the Geonim. Yemenite Jews rejected (did not accept) both forms of the custom.


Rosh haShanah section mentions that there was no Tashlich in Yemen either.

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Glass is a difficult issue. There are three approaches to it. Glass may be found in the Mishna in Sidrat Taharot Masechtot Kellim and Ahelot if I remember correctly. In the Mishneh Torah it is probably discussed in Shaar Avot HaTumah, but is definitely addressed in Laws of Forbidden foods: Chapter 17...
After that introduction I will give an extremely brief synopsis of the three approaches and why.
Approach #1: Glass is made from sand as earthenware vessels and is therefore likened to Klei Heres which cannot be koshered. - Ashkenazic policy
Approach #2: Glass is molded as in metal vessels and therefore may be koshered just like metal keilim. - Harav Yosef QafaH and Rabbi Arussi including others.
Approach #3: Glass is a substance all its own and does not fall into any of the above catagories therefore does not require it to be koshered between meat and milk or Pesah and non-Pesah. - Harav Ovadia Yosef and my Hevruta who disagrees with Harav QafaH and his brother-in-law Harav Ratson.
As you can see, the issue of how to consider glass is less of a scientific question and more of a catagoric one. When pressed about the scientific issues both Harav QafaH and Harav Ratson would not yield.

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Music : Prohibition of ?

There is a rabbinical gezera recorded in Ta`aniyoth 5:14, which not only prohibits playing and listening to music - but also even singing: The implication is that this now applies to all times and days.

יד  וכן גזרו שלא לנגן בכלי שיר, כולם; וכל מיני זמר, וכל משמיעי קול של שיר--אסור לשמוח בהן, ואסור לשומען:  מפני החורבן.  ואפילו שירה בפה על היין--אסורה, שנאמר "בשיר, לא ישתו יין" (ישעיהו כד,ט); וכבר נהגו כל ישראל, לומר דברי תושבחות או שיר של הודאות לאל וכיוצא בהן על היין.

However, any legislation enacted by the Beth Din Haggadhol must be accepted by the vast majority of the people in order to become binding (see Hil. Mamerim 2:11). There are those who contend that no generation has ever taken upon itself to observe this gezera and it therefore never became binding. I am not a historian and cannot tell for sure, but I do get the impression that this is the case from RMBM’s words in the second sentence:

יד  וכן גזרו שלא לנגן בכלי שיר, כולם; וכל מיני זמר, וכל משמיעי קול של שיר--אסור לשמוח בהן, ואסור לשומען:  מפני החורבן.  ואפילו שירה בפה על היין--אסורה, שנאמר "בשיר, לא ישתו יין" (ישעיהו כד,ט); וכבר נהגו כל ישראל, לומר דברי תושבחות או שיר של הודאות לאל וכיוצא בהן על היין.

In this context, "nahagu kol yisrael" does not mean that this was a minhag legislated by the Sanhedrin and court of r. Ashe and r. Ravina, but rather that most people have adopted the custom of singing over wine. He does not call this an incorrect practice (like in other places). This could suggest that most (all?) people never paid attention to the gezera on music. In fact, I suspect this gezara was universally REJECTED by klal Yisrael. But that may be wishful thinking. I am not sure.

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Kol Ishah: Listening To A Woman's Voice (Sing)


I thought hearing a women sing was always forbidden. Now I am hearing that a woman's
voice is restricted to the Shemá' (only). Is this true?


I am not sure what source he used, but Sephardic historically-popular
music (romances, xarxas) are traditionally sung by women, and are performed
in special occasions like weddings and circumcisions (for the party, that is;
not the ceremonies).

One would never find man/woman combination in Sephardic singing. That a particular
practice has been custom for centuries is no proof of its being right, of course,
but simply a historical "fact". RMBM is to be understood as saying that if one gets
sexual stimulation or enjoyment from listening to a "woman" who is not one's wife, then
it is forbidden just as if he had looked at her privates.  ("Woman" is even a 3 year
old girl in this context).


I understand from this (and this was confirmed by one of my Yemenite teachers) that if
you do not get any sexual pleasure from listening to a woman's voice, then it is permitted
to listen to her musical performance. The HEART of the matter is sexual pleasure where
it is not permitted, and it is not permitted aside from with one's own wife.  This is
simply fine details.

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Modern Shechita vs. Schekitah al fi Talmud -RMb"M

RMb"M notes in Hilkhoth Schitah 1:19 that the three sides of the knife (the edge and the sides) must be checked with the fleshy part of the finger and then using the actual fingernail (back and forth). To summarize, the finger is moved to and fro - for each of the left, right and sharp side of the knife, on both the nail and then the flesh of the finger.

Also, the knife needs to be checked both before and after each slaughter.


א,יט  [כג] השוחט צריך שיבדוק הסכין בחודה, ומצד זה, ומצד זה.  וכיצד בודקה:  מוליכה ומביאה על בשר אצבעו, ומוליכה ומביאה על ציפורנו, משלוש רוחותיה, שהן פיה ושני צדדין--כדי שלא יהיה בה פגם כלל; ואחר כך ישחוט בה.

א,כ  [כד] וצריך לבדוק כן אחר השחיטה--שאם מצא בה פגם אחר השחיטה, הרי זו ספק נבילה:  שמא בעור נפגמה, וכששחט הסימנין בסכין פגומה שחט.  לפיכך השוחט בהמות רבות או עופות רבים, צריך לבדוק בין כל אחת ואחת:  שאם לא בדק, ובדק באחרונה ונמצאת הסכין פגומה--הכול ספק נבילות, ואפילו הראשונה.

See background Masekhet hullin 17a-b for more information


View our Banned "Kosher Shechita" YOUTUBE VIDEO

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Selihoth for Spanish Portuguese

Selihoth are said since the 2nd day of Ellul till the 8th day of Tishrí, at night, after the Tefilah (`Amidah). There are also some said in the mornings called Tehinoth and are different from the one at night. Both are short.

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Orlah: Agricultural issue: Trees under three years old

"And when you come into the land, and you will plant any fruit-bearing tree . . . three years it [i.e.the fruit] shall be closed off from you, it shall not be eaten."(Vayikra 19:23) The law, banning any sort of pleasure from the fruits of a tree during the first three years of its life, is known as "Orlah".

Orlah does apply to all trees (aytzim) in all of Chutz La'Aretz: due to Halachah L'Moshe MiSinai (RaMb"M, Maachalot Asurot 10:10, in accordance with the opinion in Kiddushin 38b).

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Distribution of Private Email: Without Permission

Sending email without permission is definitely rekhiluth.  See De`oth 7:1 in the context of Mishle 11:13.  The moment one receives an email that is for his eyes only, it is secretive.  Moreover, he shames his fellow, halbanath panim.  If it is to more than 10 Jews, that could be one of the most severe crimes: halbanath pene hhavero be-rabbim.  To my understanding, by blasting a personal email, one transgresses on account of rekhiluth and halbanath panim, if not other prohibitions.

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Chanukah: Words of the first blessing

As touching the blessing made over the candles, the custom in many Sephardic communities is to follow the Qabbalah of Rabbi Yitzhaq Luria (AR"I) as written in the Shulhan 'Arukh. They bless by saying, "…Lehadliq Ner Chanuka" (...ìäãìé÷ ðø çðåëä). The Yemenites, however, will bless by saying, "…Lahadhliq Ner Shela Chanuka" (...ìäãìé÷ ðø ùÑÆìÌÇ çÂðåÌëÌÈä), in accordance with the Gemara and with the early exponents of our laws.

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Kashruth: Practical issues

Pots and pans made by potters (not metal!!!) that are cooked in with dishes and also dishes we buy from גוים as opposed to their dishes that we do not buy. With today's stainless and aluminium pots and pans as well as metal spoons, etc., there is no such thing as meaty, milky, and chinese; but all are just washed well between use and away you go! Of course, for Passover you have to do the hag`alah. This is NOT what most Jews do, but Jews LOVE to play "lets pretend!" 

Consumption of Non-kosher Whey (Non-Kosher Vitamins / Suppliments):

Definitely presents a halav Yisrael issue. That aside, there are other issues from Forbidden Foods in pereq 14 that need to be addressed:

If one purports to drink grass-fed whey concentrate for health reasons, they have to overcome the following:

-Regarding Flavor? Does it add pleasant taste? If so, there is a problem.

- Does it satisfy hunger. If so - there is a problem.

-Used Frivolously? If so, there is a problem.

-If it's milk and meat mixture, there is a problem.

 I know someone who uses whey concentrate as a required health supplement (after making a liquid out of the mixed powder)  - and then bitters it up to kill any potential flavoring. 

Yesodai haTorah 5:8 (Vilna edition): “When, however, [the prohibited substances are used] in a way that does not grant satisfaction - e.g., one makes a bandage or compress of chametz on Pesach or from orlah, or when one is given bitter-tasting substances mixed with forbidden foods to drink - since one's palate derives no satisfaction, it is permitted even when no danger to life is involved.”

If it was milk and meat mixture, all bets would be off.

Most of the above issues do not apply to pill-formed supplements, which are less problematic. Thus, non-kosher vitamins (although not preferred) are usually 100% muttar - according to RaMb"M.


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Zimmun for Women: Birkath haMazon

So long as they (3 Shomer Women) are all Yisra'el, my understanding is that they are supposed to make a ZIMMUN, just as 3 men joining together in a Zimmun do. (see Hil. Berakhoth 5:6[7]])  They just make their own zimmun, period.  Also, there is a "suggestion" that women are really supposed to sit separately from Men - lekhath'hillah - out of modesty.  (Hil. Yom `Tov 6:20[21]).  According to this idea, there is probably nothing wrong with close family sitting all together when other women are NOT present.  Either way, "zimun nashim" is seems to be a requirement, in addition to a nice thing indeed.

About Hil Yom Tov mentioned above:

> So you say the bet Din part only applies to the top part, whereas  the

> part about being in the home is just a general warning to be "careful,"

> about "gathering ...AND (stressed) getting drunk with wine" - as if

> gathering in HOMES is only a problem when they get drunk - as opposed

> to public gathering.

> I suspect that because it says al davar zeh lechol h'am... the first

> part (making sure they don’t mix in public) is probably designed to

> discourage the second part (getting drunk in the home). It seems

> logical. But I guess no bet din is required to SEARCH HOMES! That would be insane.

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