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See below for a selection of some of the questions and answers that have come through the H.I.T. Halacha Line.

Can the same dishwasher be used to wash my dairy dishes and my pareve dishes?

A dairy dishwasher that is used regularly for dairy dishes can be kashered and then used for pareve dishes. You should kasher the dishwasher by running a single dishwashing cycle and inspecting the dishwasher to ensure that it is clean inside. A meat dishwasher can be kashered in the same way and then used for pareve dishes. One should not use the same dishwasher for meat and dairy, even in separate cycles.

My son is almost bar mitzvah. He writes with his right hand but he does almost everything else with his left hand. Which hand should he put tefilin on?

Tefilin shel yad are put on the weaker hand such that a “righty” puts his tefilin on his left hand while a “lefty” puts his tefilin on his right hand. A bar-mitzvah boy who uses both hands equally (ambidextrous) puts his tefilin on his left hand like a righty. Regarding a boy, such as your son, who writes with one hand and does everything else with the other, the answer depends on how the weaker hand is used. You must observe your son and note which hand he uses for functions such as throwing a ball, opening a door, dialing a phone, etc. If he genuinely does all these functions only with his left hand and he is uncomfortable using his right hand except for writing, then the left hand is considered dominant and tefilin should be put on his right hand as if he was a lefty. If he can comfortably use his right hand for those functions, and does so sometimes, yet he prefers to use his left, then he is considered a righty and he puts tefilin on his left hand.

I made a neder when I was upset and now I regret making it. How shall I deal with this?

If you regret making a neder then you have an option of being matir neder – annulling the neder. You should approach your rov and ask him to help you be
Matir neder for you, to nullify your vow. If you require, we can assist you with this.

I am a counselor in camp and we baked challah with the children. We separated the dough into small pieces for each child and then we separated a piece for the mitzvah of taking challah. Accidentally, the piece of dough that was set aside for the mitzvah was mixed with the other small pieces. What should we do?

One can be matir neder and essentially annul the original piece of challah so that it loses its status of challah. Again, you should approach your rov and ask him to help you be matir neder. At that point, challah must be re-taken but the bracha is not recited. The reason that a bracha is not recited is because it is questionable whether separating challah was required in the first place. This is because the dough was made in mind to divide up between the children and each child’s piece is not a large enough piece to require separating challah. Since the requirement to take challah is questionable, a bracha should not be recited.

Can I take food out of the fridge on the first day of Yom Tov so that it will get to room temperature in time for the meal on the second night of Yom Tov or is this considered preparing for the second day of Yom Tov?

This is permitted since it is not apparent from the action that it is being done for the second day. Taking something out of the freezer to defrost is also permitted as long as it is taken out early enough to be eaten on the first day of Yom Tov, unless defrosting it changes its state such as a solid mass that melts into a liquid.

I had one slice of pizza and recited the bracha of mezonos. Now, I changed my mind and I want to eat a second slice. Do I have to recite hamotzee?

You would not need to wash your hands nor would you recite hamotzee on the second slice of pizza since an additional slice is also not large enough to be considered a meal. After the meal is complete, birkas hamazone is recited since altogether you ate enough to consider it a meal. (It is noteworthy to mention that some hold that hamotzee is required even for one slice of pizza assuming that the dough is made with water and not apple juice.)

Someone backed his car into my car and caused me damage. He didn’t want to go through insurance and assured me that he would pay me directly for the cost to fix the damage. Now he is avoiding me. What recourse do I have?

You may tell him that if he does not pay you will call his insurance company directly and inform them of the accident. If you do not wish to do so, then you may call the bais din and issue a hazmana – a summons. Alternatively, if both parties are agreeable, you may engage H.I.T’s alternative dispute resolution center to settle the dispute in an amicable fashion. H.I.T.’s rabbonim are certified mediators, have experience mediating disputes, and are readily available to the community for this purpose.

It is Sunday morning and I realized that I didn’t make havdalah last night. How shall I make havdalah on Sunday morning?

Havdalah is made by reciting the brachos of borei pri hagofen and hamavdil but leaving out the brachos of besomim and ner. One should not eat before reciting havdalah.

I reuse my disposable foil pans several times before discarding them. Do I need to toyvel foil pans before I use them?

Since foil pans are integrally disposable, tevila is not required. This is true no matter how many times they are used.

We used the fleishig barbeque to grill corn on the cob and it was delicious. Do we have to wait 6 hours before eating dairy?

You do not have to wait 6 hours since you didn’t eat meat. Even if you are unsure whether or not your BBQ was clean before you placed the corn on the grates, you can assume that any remnants of meat were burned during the preheating. (One should be careful to ensure that corn on the cob is properly washed for insects before consuming it.)

Occasionally I rent cars for business meetings. The renter car’s policy is that you need to return the car with the same gas level in which you got it. Yesterday, I received the car with half a tank of gas. I drove to my meetings and then when it was time to return the car, I noticed that the gas gauge was still at half a tank. In cases like these, am I obliged to put some gas in the tank? The gauge still says half full, but I obviously did use some of the car’s gas.

The right thing to do is to put a small amount of gas into the car to compensate for your usage. Alternatively, you can return it as is and then it would be up to the rental car company to charge you. The company does not obligate you to fill the car yourself but rather to pay for the gas usage. If they send you a bill you will have to pay for the usage at their rate.

I have a store in my basement. People inevitably will come to my house on Yom Tov to “purchase” an item that they need for Yom Tov. Can I give them the merchandise and have them pay me for it after Yom Tov? ´

You may give them the merchandise on Yom Tov as long as you make no mention of pay or cost. They can pay for the merchandise after Yom Tov.

My neighbour put her home entertainment system at the end of their front lawn to be picked up by the garbage collector. When I asked her why she was throwing it out, she replied that one of the parts broke and the store that she bought it from quoted her an enormous amount to fix it, so she decided to simply throw it out. I asked her if I can have it and she said sure. I then called the manufacturer and was told that it is still under warranty and that they would fix it for free if I paid shipping and handling. Do I have to tell my neighbor or can I keep it? After all, the garbage man would have thrown it out had I not salvaged it. ´

This is an interesting question since it is clear that it was her misunderstanding that led her to deem the object as useless and hefker. As such, this should be considered hefker b’ta’us – and should be returned.

Does chap stick need to have a hechsher? What if it is flavoured and has a good taste?

Chap stick is similar to lipstick which does not require a hechsher even though it is flavoured and small amounts may be ingested accidentally. This is permitted since chap stick is not food and possible ingestion is unintentional (ayno miskaven) and abnormal (she’lo k’derech achila). For Pesach, it is advised to be stringent and to ensure that chap stick does not contain chometz.

I am in the first twelve months of the mourning period for my father. Am I allowed to make a fruit platter for a friend who is making a simcha?

As an avel after shiva, you are permitted to send a gift as long as it is not sent for the sole purpose of enhancing the feeling of simcha. A fruit platter or any other food item serves a functional purpose as it will be served to the guests at the simcha. Accordingly, it is classified as a “functional gift” and can be given.

Is there any issue with having an ultra sound performed during the early stages of pregnancy to detect abnormalities?

Performing an ultrasound is halachically permitted. That said, halachic questions will arise should, heaven forbid, an issue be detected that arouses concern. In that case, a competent halachic authority should be consulted with immediately.

My wife is at work until 2:30 P.M. and I am home studying. It is now 2:00 P.M. and my cleaning help just showed up half an hour early. My wife never comes home early. Must I leave my home immediately? I live on the second floor in a 3-storey apartment building.

You do not have to leave your home. Rather, you should open the front door at least to the point that it is visibly ajar to a neighbour who passes by.

We recently moved into an apartment which has a dishwasher that is not kosher. Is there any way to kasher it or do I have to purchase a new one?

It is permitted to kasher a non-kosher dishwasher. You must clean it thoroughly taking special care to clean the filters well. Any area that cannot be removed such as a panel should be cleaned with a bad tasting chemical or cleanser. It must be left dormant for 24 hours and then it may be kashered by running three consecutive full cycles. While this method of kashering is sufficient to kasher a non-kosher dishwasher, it is not recommended for Pesach.

I work in an all Jewish office and most people who come to visit us are also Jewish. I found a $10 bill on the floor of the lobby and it looks like it fell out of someone’s pocket. What is the right way to go about this – can I keep it?

You may keep it. It would be considered praiseworthy or “lifnim m’shuras hadin” to ask your colleagues if they lost money or to put up a sign indicating that you found some money.

I toyvelled my glass dish several months ago and I only now noticed that I forgot to peel the sticker off the bottom of the dish. It is located underneath the dish in a place which is not visible unless you turn the dish upside down. Do I have to toyvel it again?

You do not have to toyvel it again. This is because the sticker is covering a very small area and is located on the bottom of the dish in a place that you do not really care to remove it. While it is best to remove all chatzitzos prior to toyvelling, since you have already toyvelled it, you need not redo it.

For the upcoming bar mitzvah celebration of our son, which will take place on Shabbos, we purchased decorated cookies that have “Mazel Tov” written on them with coloured icing. We realized that this might be an issue regarding erasing on Shabbos.

You may serve them since it is permitted to break the letters while biting into them. It is proper not to break them with your hand prior to eating them.

May I use hot water from the tap on yom tov? It seems that my high-efficiency electric water heater ignites almost immediately after the hot water is released from the tap?

You should do some testing before yom tov begins. If the element goes on immediately as soon as the hot water tap is pulled then it may not be used on yom tov. If the element does not turn on immediately then it may be used.

Can I ask a gentile to turn off my stove on yom tov after I finish using it and don’t need it anymore?

You may not tell the gentile to turn off the element but you may hint in an indirect way. For example, you may say “it is getting very hot near the stove” or “we don’t need to cook anymore”, but you may not say “I wish I could turn off the stove” or even wave your hand in an “off” motion as this is understood as a direct instruction to turn off the stove.

Is it preferable to bake a small amount of challah, less than the required minimum to recite a bracha, each week for Shabbos without reciting the bracha or shall I make a large amount of challah, which satisfies the minimum necessary to recite a bracha, every second week in order to fulfill the mitzvah and recite a bracha?

It is preferable to make challah every second week and recite a bracha.

I purchased a compact disc (CD) and it became scratched. I would like to borrow the same CD from someone else and copy the music onto my computer. Since I already paid for it, am I allowed to do this?

H.I.T has checked with a prominent producer of Jewish music who told us that while he would not take issue with someone who wanted to copy his music from a CD to a computer or iPod for personal use, he would take issue with someone who wants to borrow a friend’s CD to copy onto his own personal device; even if his CD became scratched. He reasoned that just as someone who buys a new suit can only use it until it is worn or becomes ruined, similarly a CD can only be used until it is worn or becomes ruined. It would appear that producers would take issue with the practice in question and therefore we do not recommend it.

I am a single man living alone in a house that has a guest room and guest bathroom in the basement. There is a separate entrance to the basement from the outside and an additional door in between the upstairs and the downstairs which is lockable such that a guest would not be able to access the upstairs directly, but I would be able to access the basement at my convenience. Is it a problem of yichud if two women from out of town would want to stay in the basement for Shabbos – I do not know them and they are not eating any meals in my house?

This is not a simple question since you can easily access the downstairs at any time. If you have no other option, you should find a way to lock the door to the basement while they are there such that you would not be able to enter the basement through the house. If that doesn’t work, you can allow them to stay upstairs while you go down to the basement. They would then lock the door to the basement so that the upstairs cannot be accessed.

Am I required to toyvel a pasta maker which makes pasta from scratch by rolling out dough?

A pasta machine should be toyvelled without reciting a bracha.

I am having root and jaw surgery followed by a tooth implant. The endodontist may be required to use “enamel matrix derivative gel” which is taken from porcine teeth. Alternatively, he may use “puros allograft” which is made from human bone particles. Is there a problem?

The use of porcine or bovine enamel is allowed in this manner as there is no prohibition to derive benefit from them. The use of human bone particles for tooth regeneration is likewise allowed. While deriving benefit from human remains is prohibited, we can assume that the particles are the remains of a gentile which may not be subject to this prohibition. Furthermore, once the enamel is implanted in the patient, it becomes part of a living person and is therefore further not subject to this prohibition. Should this question be relevant to a kohen, he should consult with a halachic authority.

As this is a leap year, I am uncertain as to the exact dates for the end of the year of mourning. My father passed away on the 13th day of Cheshvon and was buried on the 14th day of Cheshvon. When is the last day for kaddish? When does the year of mourning conclude? What is the yahrtzeit?

The recital of kaddish concludes eleven months after the burial which is the first time that kaddish was recited. Since it is a leap year, the last day for kaddish is the 13th of Elul. The mourning period concludes twelve months after the burial which is the day that mourning began. Since it is a leap year, the last day of mourning is the 13th of Tishrei. The yahrtzeit is scheduled on the date of passing. Therefore, the yahrtzeit is on the 13th of Cheshvon.

My nephew dorms at university where he lives in the same apartment as a gentile. It is a standard apartment with two separate bedrooms and two common rooms which are shared. The rent is shared equally. Is he required to put up a mezuzah?

His bedroom door requires a mezuzah which should be put up with a bracha. The shared rooms should also have a mezuzah but no bracha is recited when they are put up. It would be ideal to put up all of the mezuzos at one time and the bracha recited on the bedroom mezuzah which is put up first.

Can I ask a gentile to record or take notes for me for a class that I am missing on Yom Tov?

You may not ask a gentile to record a class for you on Yom Tov nor may you ask him to take notes for you. You may ask the gentile to record it for the purpose of selling it to you after Yom Tov. That way, he benefits from recording it as the melacha was performed for his own benefit. You may also copy the notes of a fellow student that attended the class as long as you do not ask him to take notes for you.

I drove my car into someone else’s while attempting to parallel-park and this caused a noticeable scratch on his front bumper. His car was parked on a busy main street in a legal spot directly behind the spot that I was trying to get into. I am wondering if I am obligated to pay anything since everyone who parks on a busy main street understands that his or her car is a target and may get hit in the course of standard careful parking. Furthermore, his car is not new and displays its fair share of scratches which he has not fixed. He tells me that he fully intends to fix this scratch since in his opinion it is an eye sore and feels that I should pay for the repair. The cost to fix this is $500. Am I responsible or not?

Clearly, when attempting to parallel-park, one must proceed with extreme caution and carefully determine the position of the cars in front and behind to protect against hitting one of them. You were not careful and are clearly liable for the damage that resulted. That said, the amount due is not as clear. Damage is typically measured by the depreciation in the value due to the incident. In this case, the value of depreciation might be minimal, probably less than the $500 that it would cost to repair, since his car is used and has other scratches on it. But if the scratch is truly an eye sore or if it might cause the car to rust, then it must be repaired, and you are liable to pay for the full cost of repair. If it is not a scratch that must be repaired then you are not responsible to pay for the full cost of repair, even if he decides to repair it. Determining how much you owe requires further assessment and should be brought in front of qualified dayanim.

Someone who does not keep kosher wishes to give me their used baby high chair which has a plastic tray for eating. Can I wash the tray and then use it to give my baby kosher food?

Since it is not usual to place hot food down on a baby high chair tray, it is unlikely that hot non-kosher food came into contact with this tray. Even if it did, it would either have the status of a kli sheini– whose ability to render the tray treif is the subject of halachic debate or perhaps the status of davar gush whose ability to render the tray treif is a chumrah. Therefore, kashering is not required al pi din. Notwithstanding since the tray can easily be kashered by pouring boiling water over its entire surface, it is worthwhile to do so.

Must I wait six hours after consuming ravioli or lasagna that contains parmesan cheese prior to eating meat? What about after consuming caesar salad sprinkled with parmesan cheese?

Most authentic parmesan cheeses are aged for six months and fall into the category of gevina kasha whose consumption necessitates waiting the appropriate halachic waiting period — six-hours according to most customs — prior to consuming meat. Some are of the opinion that this requirement applies only if the parmesan cheese is b’ayn – independently identifiable. If, however, it is melted into a dish, the dish is called a tavshil d’gevina, upon which, this opinion requires only a one-hour waiting period. Others do not differentiate and are of the opinion that six hours is required even after tavshil d’gevina. In summary, you must wait six hours after consuming salad sprinkled with parmesan and it is recommended that you wait six hours even after consuming either ravioli or lasagna that includes melted parmesan which is not independently identifiable. In cases of necessity, you may be lenient and wait only one-hour after consuming ravioli or lasagna that includes aged parmesan. It is worthwhile to note that some establishments sprinkle parmesan on lasagna after it comes out of the oven before serving it. In that case, the full waiting period is required.

I go for massage therapy and sometimes there are two people working on me at the same time. I heard that there might be a problem with this. Is there any truth to this?

We are not aware of such a problem. There is a practice not have two people dressing someone, a child or otherwise, as this is similar to how a tahara is performed. There is also a halacha which prohibits putting on two articles of clothing together at the same time although shoes and rubber overshoes may be put on at the same time.

A lovely shidduch was suggested for my son. The girl has two names, one of which is identical to mine. Is there a problem with this?

The famous last testament of Rebbe Yehuda HaChassid states that one should not marry a girl who has the same name as his mother. While many halachic authorities consider this testament to be halachically binding, others are lenient for individuals who are not makpid. If she has two names, one of which is not the same as yours, then there is no problem, even if she is called by the name that is the same as yours. Some suggest that you ask your son to call her by both names or by her other name or even by a nickname, especially in your presence so that it should not sound like he is calling you, his mother, by your first name.

I am the owner of a professional consulting firm which helps businesses grow. My employees are independent contractors who are each assigned specific business cases to consult on. They are paid by the hour and I, in turn, bill their total hours to my clients. Some of my employees are Jewish while others are gentiles. Most of them will work on their cases on Shabbos and Yom Tov in their own homes. While much of their work involves thought and application, they will do melachos such as working on their computer and using the phone. Is there an issue?

First and foremost, it is forbidden to put another Jew into a situation such that he would be desecrating Shabbos or Yom Tov by working for you. You have an obligation to tell your Jewish employees, in no uncertain terms, that they must not do any work related to your clients on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Regarding your gentile employees, there is a prohibition against hiring employees that are paid by the hour to perform activities that are forbidden on Shabbos and Yom Tov on your behalf. This is true even if you are not telling them to do the work specifically on Shabbos and Yom Tov and even when they have an option to do the same work during the week. That said your case may be an exception. While it is not permitted to hire a gentile to work by the hour on Shabbos and Yom Tov, it is permitted to hire a contractor, a kablan, who is paid a set amount for the job, even if he will perform melachos on Shabbos and Yom Tov. This is because the work that he performs on Shabbos and Yom Tov is of his own volition and for his own benefit since as far as you are concerned he could do the same work after Shabbos and Yom Tov. In your situation, it appears that you are paying an hourly wage in order to determine how long the job will take but that you are essentially hiring the employee to perform and complete a job and therefore he has the status of a kablan. We might better understand this exception by using an example of a lawyer who is hired to provide a legal opinion. The lawyer is paid by the hour for his work but is hired to provide an opinion, in writing, on a legal matter. Let’s say that the lawyer spent several hours researching the matter and then informed you that he would not be able complete the opinion for personal reasons. It would not be acceptable for him to bill for the time that he spent researching the issue since; in the end he did not complete the work. He is, therefore, a kablan even though he is paid by the hour. Similarly, in your case, if your employee is only paid on the condition that the job is completed, then you can consider him a kablan and it is permitted to allow him or her to work on Shabbos and Yom Tov if they choose to do so. But you must be very careful not to fall into a situation where they must work on Shabbos and Yom Tov in order to complete their work by an imposed deadline.

Is there an issue of sof zman tefila for a woman who wishes to daven shachris?

A woman who wishes to daven shachris should ideally do so before the sof zman tefila (four sha’os zmaniyos after sunrise). Please consult www.Myzmanim.Com for more details. If she cannot do so, then she may daven until chatzos hayom. Birkas kriyas shema (the brachos that are recited after yishtabach that preceed shema) are not recited after sof zman tefila unless the reason for missing the deadline was an ones and was beyond the control of the woman.

Do toothpaste and mouthwash need a hechsher? What about “Listerine strips”?

Neither toothpaste nor mouthwash requires a hechsher. Both fall into the category of shelo k’derech achilah which may be put in your mouth if you are going to spit them out. On Pesach, it is advisable to be stringent with regard to products that are used orally and it is recommended to use only toothpastes and mouthwash that do not contain chametz. Some are careful all year round and use only toothpaste and mouthwash that do not contain glycerin. Listerine strips are edible products that are ingested and require a hechsher all year round to ensure that they do not contain non-kosher ingredients.

I have heard that there may be a problem with purchasing Mitzvah Kinder or Mitzvah Menchies because they are images of human beings. Is there any basis to this in halacha?

One may not create, or even commission a gentile to create, a sculpture or a graven image that depicts a – צורת אדם – the form of a person. This includes dolls and toys that demonstrate the full features of a human being. When idol worship was more common, there was even a prohibition against owning them. This is the reason that some people customarily cut off part of the nose or ear of a doll that is manufactured to resemble a human being. It is also the reason why Jewish manufacturers will take care to ensure that one or multiple limbs do not resemble human limbs. Nowadays, many Poskim permit ownership of dolls and toys that resemble human beings because it is well known that they are not used for idol worship.

I heard that you are allowed to toyvel kaylim in the snow. Is this true? It would save me a trip to the local mikvah.

Under normal circumstances, one should not toyvel vessels in snow. In case of great need, such as where no kosher mikvah is available, it is permitted to toyvel in snow a vessel made of glass whose obligation to toyvel is rabbinic, or glazed china whose obligation is at most rabbinic,  if there is at least 240 cubic feet of snow joined together in one area. This is the shiur of snow that constitutes a kosher mikvah. When immersing the vessel, care must be taken to ensure that the snow is deep enough so that the vessel is connected to the required amount of snow. The vessel must also be completely immersed in the snow such that the snow covers the entire vessel, both inside and outside, similar to the way that a vessel is immersed entirely in the water of a mikvah. As the details of this procedure are complex, it is recommended to contact you rabbi or H.I.T. for further guidance.

I recently bought a business from a Jewish person and I am paying for it in monthly installments. As a safeguard, his lawyer added a “late penalty clause” which stipulates that if I delay payment past the due date, the outstanding payment would incur an accumulating penalty which would grow each day that it remains outstanding. Is this a problem of ribbis (forbidden interest)?

Late payment penalties are permitted only if they occur once and do not recur as an accumulating penalty. Accumulating late penalties, such as yours, act similar to interest and are prohibited.

I left a fully peeled onion overnight in the fridge without sprinkling salt on it. I then used it the next morning for a kugel. Should I now discard the kugel?

The Gemara warns against leaving peeled onions, eggs and garlic overnight due to the risk of ruach ra’ah. It makes no difference whether the peeled onions would have been sealed in a container in the fridge or left out on the counter. If, on the other hand, some of the peel remained on the onion or if other ingredients were mixed with the onion or even if it was lightly sprinkled with salt, it is no longer a problem. In your case, you already used the problematic onion in a kugel. Since we are only dealing with this problem after the fact, there is room to be lenient.

Unfortunately, I know of several divorced couples who have taken their cases to civil court and not to Bais Din. I always thought it was forbidden to go to court?

Engaging in arka’os – civil courts – without the express permission of a halachic authority, is strictly forbidden. This applies to both monetary disputes as well as family matters. When it comes to family law, however, Ontario law deems any third party arbitration that is not conducted in accordance with the law of Ontario or another Canadian jurisdiction to be unenforceable. The possibility exists that if a decision is rendered in Bais Din which is not in accordance with the law of Ontario it may be deemed unenforceable, if subsequently challenged by one of the parties. It is, therefore, critical that every situation be first discussed with a Rav or a Bais Din.

Voluntary Mediation, offered by H.I.T., is a method of alternative dispute resolution whereby Rabbonim who are trained and certified as mediators can help the parties come to an agreement without being subject to the hefty legal fees that are incurred through the civil system. For more information, please contact H.I.T. at 416 535-8008.