Introduction to What Is Halacha
Introduction to What Is Halacha
Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus/Vayikra 19:2
Halacha ("The Way To Go" or "Way to Walk") guides proper Jewish behavior in all aspects of life, each day of our lives--not just in civil laws or court situations. Halacha teaches us how to behave with our families, relatives, and strangers as well as how to fulfill our religious requirements between ourselves and God.

To fulfill our role as a holy people, we imitate God's actions. Examples are visiting the sick, welcoming guests, giving charity, refraining from creative activity on Shabbat, and promoting peace between husband and wife (shalom bayit).

The true reason for following halacha is because God commanded us to do so.  We observe halacha to please our Creator and to become spiritually close to Him by doing His will and imitating His actions.

Like the word for the whole body of Jewish "laws," each rule of how to act is called a halacha (plural, halachot).

Where Do Halachot Come From?

Although you will find halachot on this site that were born only a few days or a few decades ago, the body of halacha has been around since before creation.  "God looked into the Torah and created the world," says the Zohar, and so we find the Patriarchs followed halacha even before that great law book, the Torah, was given on Mount Sinai four centuries later.
Many halachot are specified in the Written Torah (Jewish Bible). These halachot correspond to fuller and more detailed halachot given orally (Oral Torah) to Moses on Mount Sinai to explain the Written Torah that he received at the same time. Many halachot could not be understood from the Written Torah without the Oral Law (for example, what should be written on a mezuza scroll?) and many common practices such as making kiddush or what tefilin should look like are to be found nowhere in the Written Torah.
Since the Torah applies to all generations, the Torah specifies that there be wise and learned people to decide how to apply halacha to the situations of the day.  Halachot can be found in sourcebooks such as the MishnaGemara, their commentaries, Shulchan AruchMishna Berura, and responsa (questions and answers originally sent by letter and now, occasionally, by email or SMS!) of later rabbis.
Sometimes a custom becomes a halacha, sometimes not.  For example, the original halacha for tzitzit was that a Jewish man who wears a four-cornered garment must have tzitziyot on each corner.  The custom, which has become universally accepted and now has the force of halacha, is that Jewish men wear a four-cornered garment in order to be able to fulfill the commandment of wearing tzitziyot.  An example of a custom that did not become a halacha is that some men and boys wear their tzitziyot outside of their shirts and pants.

Levels of Halachot

In halacha, there are three levels of what to follow or observe. They are differentiated on this website by the following terms: 
  • “Must”:  Halachot that are generally non-negotiable except in extreme situations;
  • “Should”:  Customs that have been accepted by the entire Jewish world (or major segments of it) and that may be overridden when necessary, sometimes even if not extreme circumstances; and
  • “Non-Binding Custom”:  Customs that are not universally followed and that do not need to be followed except by people who have the tradition to do so.
The First Halachot
The First Halachot
The first commandment given to the Jewish people as a nation was about establishing the new moon. But, there were three commandments given before that (as written in Bereishit/Genesis):
  • P'ru u'rvu (to have children);
  • Brit mila
  • Gid ha'nasheh (not eating the sciatic nerve of animals).
Concepts in Halacha
Commandments (Mitzvot)
Commandments (Mitzvot)
Precedence of Mitzvot
A frequently performed commandment generally takes precedence over a less frequently performed commandment, but ONLY:
  • Regarding the order in which they are to be performed, and
  • If there is no specific reason to do the less frequent one.
If you are only able to do one of several commandments, do the most important one. 
Example If you can only put on either talit or tefilin, you would put on the tefilin since that is the more important commandment, even though putting on a talit is the more frequently performed one.
Another Example Friday before sunset when Chanuka will be on Shabbat--lighting Shabbat candles is done more frequently, but we light the Chanuka candles first since if we lit the Shabbat candles first, it would already be Shabbat and we could not light the Chanuka candles at all.
How Much Money to Spend on a Mitzva
You are never required to spend more than 1/5 of your liquid assets on any positive mitzva.
How Far To Go To Do a Mitzva
There is no need to go to different town in order to fulfill a mitzva (a different town can be defined as out of your local business district).
Follow National Law as Enforced
Follow national law as enforced. Halacha requires that national and secular law be obeyed. However:
  • If a law exists but is not enforced, it is not considered by halacha to be a valid law.
  • If a law states one condition but is enforced only in a different condition, the actual enforced law is the valid one.
Example If a posted speed limit is 60 mph, but drivers are actually allowed to drive up to 70 mph, then 70 mph is the valid speed limit.
Unintentional Violation; Receive No Benefit (Psik Reisha...)
Psik reisha d'la nicha lei (halacha whose violation you don't intend and from which you receive no benefit) is not permitted.
You open the refrigerator door on Shabbat and the light comes on.  This is forbidden on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, even if you don't want or need the light. 
However, you may ask a non-Jew to do an action for you that will be psik reisha d'la nicha lei.
 You may ask a non-Jew to get your jacket from the car on Shabbat or a Jewish festival, even though a light will go on, but only during the daytime; if it is night and the light would be needed to find the jacket, you may not ask.
Fence (Syag) around the Torah
Making a “fence” (“syag”) around the Torah means to avoid activities and situations that might lead to actions that are improper or not allowed by Torah law.
Preparation for Doing Mitzvot
Mitzvot that are from the Torah (tzitzittefilinsukka, etc.) require having the intention (kavana) to fulfill that commandment. But with many such mitzvot, it is inherent in doing the mitzva that you are doing it for the mitzva and therefore you do not need to have a special intention (for example, you would not put on tefilin to keep yourself warm).
VaYehi Noam, L'Shem Yichud, Yehi Ratzon
You do not need to say Va'yehi noamL'Shem yichud, or Yehi ratzon before doing commandments.
What Is a Mitzva/What Is Halacha
A mitzva is a commandment.  A halacha is how to do the mitzva.
Purposes of Commandments/Mitzvot
Commandments/mitzvot (plural of mitzva) have three main purposes:
  • Most importantly, to do what we are commanded by God to do;
  • To bring us close to God;
  • To earn reward for us in the future world (olam ha'ba).
Halachic Decisions (Psak)
Halachic Decisions (Psak): Choosing a Rabbi
Asking Multiple Rabbis for Psak
You may not normally ask multiple rabbis for halachic decisions about different questions, but if you do not have a primary rabbi, you may do so.
Shopping Around for Lenient Halachic Decision (Psak)
You may not generally ask different rabbis for their decisions of halacha in order to get the answer you want.  You may also not ask a specific rabbi a question based on your expectation that he will give you the answer that you are seeking. But if someone asks you to recommend a rabbi, you may refer him or her to a rabbi who will give the answer that he or she would like to receive.
Halachic Decisions (Psak): When You Must Follow
Following a Halachic Decision (Psak) You Requested
You must follow the decision you are given if you asked for a psak if the psak is more stringent that what you want to do but if it is more lenient, you may still be more stringent than what you were told to do. If the decision affects anyone other than yourself, you may not be more lenient or more stringent but must follow what you were told.
Following a Halachic Decision (Psak) You Overheard
If you didn't ask for a psak but just heard someone talking about a halachic decision, you may ignore it.

Halachic Decisions (Psak): Doubt (Safek)
Defining Doubt (Safek) in Halachic Decision
Doubt in halacha (safek) refers to when it is impossible to know or determine the situation.
Halachic Stringencies in Doubt
We are stringent in applying laws if we are uncertain about Torah commandments.
We are lenient in applying laws if we are uncertain about rabbinic commandments.
Halachic Decisions (Psak): Mitigating Circumstances
Accidental or Intentional
The ideal and preferred means of observing or fulfilling a halacha is called l'chatchila. Sometimes the halacha's requirements may be fulfilled b'di'avad (after the fact) under less-than-ideal circumstances. 
You may not intentionally do an action at the b'diavad level if you are able to do it at the l'chatchila level.
Shalom Bayit or Honoring One's Parents (Kibud Av Va'Eim)
The only type of laws that may sometimes be overridden to help with shalom bayit (promoting peaceful family relations) or kibud av va'eim (honoring parents) is rabbinic law, not Torah law. A rabbi should be consulted in these cases.
Saving a Life (Pikuach Nefesh)
Human life is valued in Judaism, unlike in some other religions. The Talmud says that if someone saves one human life (pikuach nefesh), it is as if he or she saved an entire universe. Almost all halachot may be overridden in order to save a life; the main exceptions are for Adultery, Murder, and Idol Worship—see Adultery, Murder, Idol Worship .
ExampleYou may drive a car on Shabbat or even Yom Kippur in order to take a seriously injured or ill person to the hospital. This includes pregnant women who are about to give birth.
Adultery, Murder, Idol Worship
The Talmud says that a person must allow himself to be killed rather than violate any of three commandments that may not be violated: adultery; murder; idol worship. Note that in Jewish law, not all types or conditions of killing a person are defined as murder.
Human Dignity (Kavod HaBriot)
Although human dignity (kavod ha'briot) cannot override Torah commandments, kavod ha'briot allows violating some d'rabanan laws in order to avoid embarrassment.
  • Tearing Toilet Paper
    Situation You need to use toilet paper on Shabbat but none is torn.
    What To Do You may tear some toilet paper using any non-standard method or change from the normal way (shinu'i), such as not using your hand, or dropping something on the paper.
  • Hearing Aid
    Situation You may speak to someone who uses a hearing aid on Shabbat to avoid embarrassing him or her.
Halachic Decisions (Psak): New Facts
Changes in a Halachic Decision Due to New Facts
A halachic determination may be voided or changed if factual information is found that contradicts the information on which the halachic determination was made (such as incorrect science or incorrect statement of a condition or situation).  However, you must check with the originator of the psak or the original source of information on which the halacha was based.
Halachic Practice
Customs (Minhag)
Customs (Minhag): How They Become Halacha
Observance of Customs (Minhag)
Any custom that has been accepted by the entire Jewish world or an entire Jewish community becomes halacha; it is then required to be observed by members of that community.
Customs (Minhag): Adopting
Changing Your Customs (Minhag) in New Community
When moving to a community with customs different from your own, adopt the customs of your new community but ONLY:
  • If you intend to stay in that new community, and
  • If the entire community follows the same customs.
Note An Ashkenazi who moves to a Sefardi community could eat kitniyot on Passover but would have to wake up extremely early for selichot and say them for the month of Elul, so think carefully about the trade-off!
Adopting Customs (Minhag) If You Are Newly Observant (Ba'al Teshuva)
A newly observant Jew (ba'al teshuva) may:
  • Follow the customs of the person who teaches him to be religious, or
  • Follow the dominant custom in the community, or
  • Revert to the customs of his ancestors, if their customs are known.
Weakening Halachic Observance or Respect for Torah
Lowering People's Respect for the Torah (Chilul Hashem)
You may not do any action that causes other people to lessen their observance of, or respect for, the Torah.
Example When a person known to be otherwise observant of Jewish law seems to be dishonest in business.
Appearing To Not Uphold the Torah (Mar'it Ayin)
You may not do any action that may cause religious Jews to do something wrong or cause people to think that an observant Jew is doing something forbidden (mar'it ayin). Mar'it ayin is doing something that might lead people to:
  • Violate a Torah law by thinking that an observed action that is permissible under special circumstances may be applied to other cases, or
  • Think that the person doing the action is violating Torah law (since the observer might not know that the action is actually permissible).
Example When a Jew wears a yarmulke and eats raw, kosher vegetables in a non-kosher restaurant, someone who did not know that only kosher food was being eaten might think that:
  • All of the food in that restaurant is kosher, or
  • The Jew was doing something forbidden (and think badly of the Jew).
If no one can see you, you may do activities that might look like violations of rabbinic laws. If the action is forbidden by the Torah (d'oraita), you may not even do it in private (but you may not actually violate either type of law!).
Hidur Mitzva/Mehadrin
Hidur Mitzva/Mehadrin
Almost all mitzvot may be enhanced by:
  • Making them beautiful (hidur mitzva), or
  • Observing non-required stringencies (mehadrin).
Hidur Mitzva
  • Women baking challa for Shabbat and Jewish festivals (and separating challa as a remembrance of the challa that was given to the priests/cohanim in the Temple).
  • Wearing especially nice clothes and eating special foods on Shabbat and Jewish festivals.
  • Using beautiful fragrances, tastes, textures, colors, and artistry in serving God.
  • Shabbat/Jewish festival table (set with beautiful challa cover, silver, kiddush cups).
  • Havdala set and pleasant-smelling spices for havdala.
  • Sukka and putting your finest things in it.
  • Etrog/etrog case.
  • Shofar.
  • Seder plate, matza holder, and matza cover.
  • Illuminated hagadas (hagadot) and megilas (megilot).
  • Chanuka candle-holder (menora, chanukiya).
  • Torah scroll written with a fine pen and beautiful script and wrapped in beautiful silks.
  • Mezuza covers.
  • Ketuba.
  • Wimple (to wrap baby in prior to brit mila; then donated to hold the two parts of the Torah together).
  • Elijah's Chair/Kisei Eliyahu.
  • Synagogues.
  • Chuppa.
  • Chalav Yisrael--When consuming milk and milk products, eating or drinking only those items whose production was supervised by religious Jews;
  • Pat Yisrael—When eating bread, only eating bread baked by Jews (not necessarily by religious Jews);
  • Glatt meat—When eating meat, eating only meat that had no lesions on the animal's lungs;
  • Lighting more than one Chanuka candle each night (beginning on the 2nd night) and having more than one person in each house light their own candles.
Priority: Chaviv and Chashuv
Priority: Chaviv and Chashuv
Opinions differ in whether you should give priority in eating to what you like the most (chaviv) or what is most important (chashuv).
Situation You like mangoes. Someone serves a platter with mangoes and dates.
Question Should you first eat a mango (chaviv) or first eat a date (chashuv—due to its being one of the Five Special Fruits)?
What To Do RMH usually recommends that people begin eating whichever fruit they prefer; that is, chaviv first.

Situation You want to eat both fruit and cake. 
What To Do You may eat the fruit first if you prefer to eat it first, even though the cake is more important.
Preparing for an Upcoming Commandment
You should refrain from any activity that will prevent or distract you from doing a commandment (or make you forget to do it),  from 30 minutes before the time at which you will need to do that commandment.
Cessation of Intention (Hesech Da'at)
“Cessation of intention” (hesech da'at) can occur when you get involved in a different action or activity than what you were doing. It is not time dependent.
Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Introduction to Agriculture
Introduction to Agriculture
All of the Jewish festival holidays had an agricultural element to them.
Agricultural laws include Kilayim, Orla, Reishit, Teruma/Ma'aser, Shmita, and Yashan, as well as special laws applying only to fruit trees. Some of these laws still apply today by Torah law (d'oraita) while others, such as First Fruits (bikurim), only apply when the Jerusalem Temple stands and so are not practiced now. Others are observed today as "practice" for when the Temple is rebuilt.
Forbidden Mixtures (Kilayim)
Introduction to Forbidden Mixtures (Kilayim)
Introduction to Forbidden Mixtures/Kilayim
The limits of kilayim keep:
  • Individual creations true to themselves, in the way they were created by God, and
  • Different, or opposing, spiritual forces governing creation in their own places and within their own bounds.
In the holiness of the Tabernacle or Temple, where opposites were peaceably and constructively resolved, kilayim in the form of sha'atnez was not only permitted but formed the foundation of all main tapestries and two of the High Priest's garments.
Note The Shulchan Aruch lists over 120 halachot pertaining to kilayim in planting!
Kilayim-type laws apply today to:
  • Animals (not yoking an ox and donkey together; not interbreeding, say, a horse and a donkey to produce a mule),
  • Food (not eating milk with meat),
  • Clothing - not wearing a garment made of a mixture of linen and wool (sha'atnez), and
  • Plants (interplanting, interbreeding, and grafting different species).
    Note Vineyards in Eretz Yisrael may only be near fruit trees if:
    1. A wall divides fruit tree and vineyard, OR
    2. The vineyard is not a bona fide vineyard. A bona fide vineyard has at least 5 grapevines in at least two rows, with at least two vines in one row and three in the other. 
Forbidden Mixtures (Kilayim): Animals
Crossbreeding Animals (Kilayim)
Using an Animal Crossbred by Someone Else
You may not crossbreed animals, but you may use such an animal if it was already crossbred by someone else.
Forbidden Mixtures (Kilayim): Plants
Forbidden Mixtures (Kilayim): Planting in Earth
Kilayim: Planting in Eretz Yisrael
Do not plant two species of fruit or vegetable plants (and trees) together (“kilayim”) in Eretz Yisrael. The prohibition covers all types of food-producing plants: herbs; vegetables; grains; trees….
Example In Eretz Yisrael, do not plant a vegetable with a fruit or grain or one type of vegetable with another type of vegetable, one type of fruit with a different type of fruit, and one type of grain with another type of grain.
Forbidden Mixtures (Kilayim): Planting in Pots
Kilayim: Planting in Pots in Eretz Yisrael
Within Eretz Yisrael, you may not plant disparate species in the same pot if the pot:
  • Is made of wood or earthenware, or
  • Has a hole in the bottom, regardless of the material it is made from.
If the pot does not have a hole in the bottom and if it is made of plastic, glass, or metal, you may plant multiple species together.
Kilayim: Planting in Pots outside of Eretz Yisrael
Outside of Eretz Yisrael, plants in pots are not subject to kilayim laws.
Forbidden Mixtures (Kilayim): Grafting
Grafting When Kilayim
You may not:
  • Graft two trees of different species together (grafting a branch or shoot from one tree onto the trunk of a different type of tree).
  • Pay someone else to graft a tree for you, not even a non-Jew.
Note You may use such a tree if it was already grafted by someone else.
Orla: General Questions
Orla: Which Uses Are Prohibited
You may not use orla fruit for any type of use or benefit (asur b'hana'a); the prohibition is not just for eating. 
Orla: Which Fruit Is Orla
Do not eat tree fruit for the first three years of the tree (orla); any tree fruits from the fourth year (neta revai) must be redeemed with a pruta before eating, even outside of Eretz Yisrael.
Note It is not possible to redeem neta revai in the old city of Jerusalem!
Orla: Which Part of the Plant Is Prohibited
Only orla fruit is forbidden, but the tree may be used.
Orla: Who Is Prohibited from Growing Orla
Orla applies to fruit grown by both Jews and non-Jews. 
Orla: How To Calculate
Orla Planting Deadline
Trees planted at least 45 days before Rosh Hashana (that is, by Tu B'Av) are considered to be one year old on that Rosh Hashana.
How To Calculate When Orla Is Over
You may eat tree fruit if the tree's buds appeared after Tu B'Shvat of the fourth year.  This may be a span of only 2.5 years if the tree was planted on or before Tu B'Av (at least 45 days before Rosh Hashana):
1st  Year  Tu B'Av to Rosh Hashana #1 
2nd Year  Rosh Hashana #1 to Rosh Hashana #2
3rd  Year  Rosh Hashana #2 to Rosh Hashana #3
4th  Year  Rosh Hashana #3 to Tu B'Shvat
Example A fruit tree planted on Tu B'Av, Aug. 15, 2011, will be one year old 6 weeks later, on Rosh Hashana, Sept. 29, 2011. By Rosh Hashana, Sept. 5, 2013, the tree will have completed three years and it enters its fourth year.  Buds that appear on or after Tu B'Shvat, Jan. 15, 2014, and turn into fruit will be neta revai and may be redeemed and eaten.
Orla: Doubt about Tree Age in Eretz Yisrael
Do not eat fruit from a tree growing in Eretz Yisrael if you are not certain about the age of a tree that might be three years old or less.
Orla: Doubt about Tree Age outside of Eretz Yisrael
You may eat fruit from a tree growing outside of Eretz Yisrael if you are not certain about the age of a tree that might be three years old or less.
Orla: Transplanted Trees
If a tree (whether younger or older than 4 years) is transplanted but did not have enough soil on its roots to live for several years, restart counting orla from zero.
Orla: Individual Fruits
Orla: Grapes outside of Eretz Yisrael
Outside of Eretz Yisrael, only grapes (not other types of “tree” fruit) need to be redeemed in the fourth year of their growth in order to eat them.
Note We are lenient in using commercially grown grapes due to doubt as to the grapevines' ages.
Orla: Papayas in Eretz Yisrael
Papayas grown in Eretz Yisrael may not be usable, since papaya trees don't normally live for four years.
Note There is a difference of opinion as to the blessing over eating papaya— borei pri ha'eitz or borei pri ha'adama.)
Firsts (Reishit)
Introduction to Firsts (Reishit)
Introduction to Firsts (Reishit)
Jews thank God for His blessings by giving Him the “first” (reishit) of various products (as well as a tenth/ma'aser of agricultural and other wealth). 
“First” applies to:
  • First-Born/Petter Rechem
    • First-born male children/petter rechem (redeemed with money; see Introduction to Pidyon HaBein).
    • First-born male kosher domestic animals (calf, lamb, kid)/petter rechem (in Temple times: sacrificed on altar; now, permanent holy status--see Selling Mother Animal before Birth of Petter Rechem.
    • First-born male donkeys/petter rechem chamor (redeemed with sheep/goat; holiness of both the donkey and the sheep or goat then disappears).
  • Dough/Challa
In Temple times, given to cohen; now, see When To Separate Challa (Hafrashat Challa).
  • First Fruits/Bikurim
In Temple times, the Jew (man or woman) brought the bikurim fruits to the area between altar and Temple building; only the man said the
  • First Shearing/Reishit HaGeiz
Portion of sheep's wool (reishit ha'geiz) (given to cohen).
Note All of the above have holy status except for the wool and the human petter rechem.
Reishit: Kosher Domestic Animals
Petter Rechem
Selling Mother Animal before Birth of Petter Rechem
Situation The first-born male baby of a female kosher domestic mammal or of a female donkey, if completely owned by a Jew, is a petter rechem (which may not be used for any purpose).
What To Do Before the mother has her first baby, sell part of her to a non-Jew so the firstborn will not be wholly owned by a Jew and, if male, will not become a petter rechem. Rabbinic guidance is recommended!
Reishit: Pidyon HaBein
Teruma/Ma'aser: Which Produce To Separate
Teruma/Ma’aser: Location
Teruma/Ma'aser: Location: Grown in Eretz Yisrael
Teruma and ma'aser laws only apply to produce grown in Eretz Yisrael.
Teruma/Ma’aser: Types of Plants
Teruma/Ma'aser: Types of Plants: Herbs
Separate teruma and ma'aser on herbs grown in Eretz Yisrael.
Teruma/Ma’aser: Ownership
Teruma/Ma'aser: Ownership: Separating Hefkeir Produce
“Ownerless” (hefkeir) fruit does not require having teruma and ma'aser separated even after it has been brought into your house.
Teruma/Ma'aser: Ownership: What Is Hefkeir Produce
Halachically ownerless (hefkeir) fruit is fruit that will not be collected or picked by or for the owner, whether the fruit is:
  • Still on the tree or fallen on the ground.
  • Growing on public grounds or privately owned property.
Teruma/Ma'aser: Quantity
Teruma/Ma'aser: Quantity: On How Much To Separate
Separate teruma and ma'aser on any amount of produce grown in Eretz Yisrael.
Teruma/Ma'aser: Quantity: How Much Is Teruma Gedola
Teruma gedola is 1/50th of the total food. But today, since the cohen does not eat it, we remove a smaller amount.
Teruma/Ma'aser: When To Separate
Teruma/Ma'aser: When To Separate: Not on Shabbat
You may not separate teruma and ma'aser on Shabbat since it is “fixing” the food by making it usable.
Teruma/Ma'aser: When To Separate: Cooking Outside
Situation You cook, outside, fruit from a privately owned tree in Eretz Yisrael.
What To Do You must separate teruma and ma'aser if you bring the cooked fruit indoors.
Teruma/Ma'aser: How To Separate
Procedure for Separating Terumot and Ma'asrot
Procedure for Separating Terumot and Ma'asrot
(from kashrus/kk-medi-terumos.htm">http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-medi-terumos.htm, used with permission)

Post this document in a conspicuous place.
Note The coin you are using for the separation must be in front of you (for the ma'aser sheini).
  1. Break or cut off more than one hundredth of the food and set it aside (for teruma and terumat ma'aser).
  2. Say the following (either in Hebrew or English):

    Yoteir me'echad me'me'a she'yeish kahn harei hu teruma gedola be'tzad tzefono. Oto echad me'me'a she'yeish kahn ve'od tish'a chalakim k'moto be'tzad tzefono shel ha'peirot harei hu ma'aser rishon. Oto echad me'me'a she'asitiv ma'aser rishon asuy terumat ma'aser, uma'aser sheini b'dromo, u'mechulal hu ve'chumsho al peruta be'matbei'a sh'yichidita lechilul ma'aser sheini ve'revai. Ve'im tzarich ma'aser ani ye'hei ma'aser ani bi'dromo. Im hu revai ye'hei mechulal hu ve'chumsho al peruta be'matbei'a she'yichidita le'chilul ma'aser sheini ve'revai.

    (Im ma'aser minim harbei tzarich le'hosif) “kol min al mino.”

    (If there is a food of one type that requires separation) Whatever is MORE than one hundredth of this food shall be teruma on the north side of the piece that I have set aside. The one hundredth that is left in the piece I have set aside plus nine other pieces the same size on the north side of the food shall be ma'aser rishon. That same one hundredth in the piece I set aside that I have made ma'aser shall be terumat ma'aser.
    Furthermore, I am proclaiming ma'aser sheini to be in effect on the south side of the food, and I am redeeming it and its fifth on a pruta (smallest amount of money recognized by the Torah for most purposes) of this coin which I have in front of me. If this food needs ma'aser ani, the ma'aser ani shall take effect on the south side of the food.
    If this food is subject to the laws of neta revai then it and its fifth shall be redeemed on a pruta of this coin that I have in front of me.

    If there is a food of more than one type, add each type of food for its type.
  3. Wrap the broken or cut-off piece in plastic and discard.
  4. The coin--dime or coin of greater value--must eventually be disposed of in such a manner that it will not be used.
  5. The food may now be eaten.
If you do not want to say the long version, you may say this shorter version, after having separated a piece larger than 1% of the total food:
All separations and redemptions shall take effect as is specified in this Star-K document outlining the Procedure for Separating Terumot and Ma'asrot, Tithes and Redemptions, which I have in my possession.

Whether saying the long or short version, only a little over one hundredth of the food will not be permitted to eat; all the rest may be eaten. Even though the tithes constitute over one fifth of the food, one is permitted to eat most of the tithes oneself, even though he may not be a Cohen or a Levi. Under no circumstances will it suffice merely to break off a piece of the food and throw it away. The aforementioned instructions must be strictly followed. The laws of the tithes apply to everyone, including the Cohen and Levi.

You must say the blessing lehafrish trumot u'ma'asrot if you know the produce definitely needed to have teruma and ma'aser taken; it was definitely:
  • Grown on Jewish-owned land in halachic Eretz Yisrael and
  • Had not yet had teruma and ma'aser taken from it.
BUT you must not say the blessing if the produce might have:
  • Not been grown on Jewish-owned land in halachic Eretz Yisrael, OR
  • Already had teruma and ma'aser separated.
Note The State of Israel is not the same as halachic Eretz Yisrael (that area of Eretz Yisrael owned or conquered by Jews during the Second Temple period). 
More on Teruma/Ma'aser
For more on teruma and ma'aser, including a short form of the text, see kashrus/kk-medi-terumos.htm" target="_blank">Star-K article
Teruma/Ma'aser: Bal Tashchit
Teruma that is separated and destroyed is not considered to be a violation of bal tashchit, since it is done to fulfill a commandment/mitzva.
Introduction to Shmita
Introduction to Shmita
Every seventh year, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes grown in Eretz Yisrael are subject to the laws of “shmita,” which entail letting the land rest.
Holiness of Shmita Produce
Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, etc., grown in Eretz Yisrael holiness.  This holiness determines how we may treat fruit during shmita, including how to eat it and how to dispose of it.
Which Produce Is Subject to Shmita Laws?
All fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes that grow in Eretz Yisrael are subject to shmita laws.  However, since there is a rabbinic decree that we may not eat vegetables and grains (called “sfichin”) that grow in Eretz Yisrael during shmita year, we will mainly be discussing fruits.
Note Vegetables, grains, and legumes that are not raised in halachic Eretz Yisrael are never subject to shmita laws.  So if a fruit or vegetable was grown outside the borders of Second Temple period Eretz Yisrael, you may eat that fruit or vegetable with no shmita concerns.  Such areas may include much of the southern part of the State of Israel, including the Arava and southern Negev all the way to Eilat, land south of Gaza, etc.  Some people include the Golan. Many people also include any land currently “owned” by Arabs.
Plants grown off the ground or inside a house are also not subject to shmita.
When Is Shmita?
The next shmita year will be observed beginning Rosh Hashana, September 2014.
Shmita: Fruit
Shmita: Fruit: Otzar Bet Din
SituationYou may not sell shmita fruit in the normal manner.

What To Do An otzar bet din can be set up to distribute fruit and pay the farmer for his work on distributing. The otzar bet din then distributes the fruit to the public and gets reimbursed for the expenses.
Shmita: Fruit: Who May Eat
Shmita produce is ownerless and free for use by anyone.
Shmita: Fruit: How To Eat
You may eat fruit of the shmita year in Eretz Yisrael, but only in the normal way for eating that fruit.
Shmita: Fruit: How To Dispose Of
You may not put shmita peels, cores, and other waste parts into the garbage (unlike teruma, you may not double-bag them and put them in the garbage).  You must put them aside to rot before disposal.
Shmita: Canned Fruit from Eretz Yisrael
You may not buy canned fruit or other produce from Eretz Yisrael (even in later years) if the produce grew during a shmita year (except through an otzar bet din). This may be a problem with exports from Israel.
Shmita: Grain and Vegetables
Shmita: Grain and Vegetables: Benefiting From
You may not use grain and vegetables grown in Eretz Yisrael from a shmita year in any way (and no benefit may be derived from them).
Shmita: Plants
Watering the Ground during Shmita
In Eretz Yisrael, you may not pour water on the ground during a shmita year if plants will benefit.
Spitting Seeds During Shmita
In Eretz Yisrael, you may spit seeds on the ground during a shmita year as long as they are inedible.
Shmita: Wine
Buying and Using Shmita Wine
You may not buy wine from grapes grown in Eretz Yisrael during a shmita year unless you buy it from an otzar bet din. Even if you do buy from an otzar bet din, it is not recommended to buy shmita wine since you:
  • May not waste even one drop,
  • Must use it only in the normal way, and
  • May not dispose of the residue in the bottle until it has become unpotable.


Introduction to Yashan
Introduction to Yashan
Only yashan grain should be used. Yashan means one of the Five Grains that was planted at least three days before Passover and has now passed the first day of chol ha'moed of Passover.  Grain planted after one Passover that has not passed the first day of chol ha'moed of the following Passover is known as “chadash.”
Grains Subject to Yashan
Wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt are subject to yashan.
Where Yashan Applies
Yashan applies to grain grown anywhere in the world.
Note Although yashan is from the Torah, some people outside of Eretz Yisrael are lenient about yashan with regard to grain that was grown outside of Eretz Yisrael.
Yashan: Halachot
When Grain Becomes Yashan
You may use grain as “yashan” after the first day of chol ha'moed Passover.  "After" means the third day of Passover in Eretz Yisrael and the fourth day outside of Eretz Yisrael.
Yashan and Matza
Matza is normally made from winter wheat and so does not normally have a question of being chadash.
Fruit Trees: Special Laws
Fruit Trees: Blessing over Blossoms
When To Say Blessing over New Fruit Blossoms
The first time each year that you see blossoms on an edible-fruit tree, say the blessing “shelo chisar ba'olamo davar….” It may be anytime throughout the year, not only in Nisan. If you live in a region in which fruit trees blossom all year round, you should say “shelo chisar”... in Nisan after you see some new blossoms.
Note You may say the blessing on a single tree, even though the blessing says “trees” (plural).
Fruit Trees: Removing
Laws on Removal of Fruit Tree
You may not remove a fruit tree that is still producing fruit, even
  • For lumber,
  • If the tree is diseased,
  • If a replacement tree would yield more fruit. 
Exception A fruit tree may be uprooted or cut down if it is not producing at least 46 oz. (2 lbs., 14 oz.--about 1.3 kg) of fruit each year.
Removal of Productive Fruit Tree
To remove from your property a fruit tree that produces at least 46 oz. of fruit each year, you must sell the tree to a non-Jew. The non-Jew may then remove it.
Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Introduction to Attire
Introduction to Attire
Various types of attire are considered appropriate for men, single women, married women, and children to wear in public.  The standards vary somewhat due to location and era.
Attire: Sleeping Covered
Sleeping Covered
A person should be covered with something when sleeping.  This may either by a sheet/other bedding or by a garment that is worn.
Note This is a good practice and is expected but is not a halacha. It is part of modesty (tzni'ut) between people and God.
Attire: Getting Dressed
Dressing in a Certain Sequence
Dressing in a certain sequence, such as putting on your right sock before your left sock, is proper behavior.
Attire: Blessings/Torah/Prayer
Attire: Blessings and Torah Study
The minimum attire required for saying blessings or studying Torah is shorts for men and a covered torso for women. But more of your body may need to be covered due to location and circumstances. For example, if men are in view, women's tzni'ut rules take over since they are more restrictive.
Attire: Man's Head Covering for Prayers or Torah Study
Wearing a hat for prayer (for men) is formal wear that shows honor to God. Men do not need to wear a hat but must have some type of head covering when saying blessings, when praying, or when studying holy texts (this is halacha). If a man said a blessing or prayer without a head covering, b'di'avad, it is OK and he does not need to repeat the blessing or prayer.     
Attire: Amida
See Attire for Amida.
Praying in Bare Feet on Stone Floor
See Praying in Bare Feet on Stone Floor.
Attire: Men's Prayer near Immodestly Dressed Woman
See Men's Prayer near Immodestly Dressed Woman.
Attire: Women's Prayer near Immodestly Dressed People
See Women's Prayer near Immodestly Dressed People.
Attire: Sha'atnez
Attire: Sha'atnez: Sheep Wool with Linen
You may not wear clothing made by combing/felting, spinning, and/or twisting/weaving lamb's or sheep's wool with linen. You may also not wear a garment made of two pieces—one wool and one linen—that have been sewn together. Even one thread of wool or linen with the other material is forbidden (there is not batel in 1/60th for sha'atnez).
Note The acronym sha'atnez stands for shu'a, tuvi, nuz—three steps in processing wool and linen fibers.
Attire: Women and Men
Attire: Women's/Men's (Begged Ish)
Attire: Wearing Other Gender's Clothing
Clothes that are worn by both genders may be worn by either gender, even if they were intended to be worn by just one gender. So women may wear clothes that have been made and intended for men (begged ish) if women wear those garments, too. There are some exceptions--consult a rabbi.
Attire: Men Wearing Women's Clothing
           Men may not wear women's clothing.
Attire: Women Wearing Men's Clothes
           A woman or girl may not wear men's clothes (begged ish), even:
  • if for a different purpose than what men use them for, and
  • if not for the purpose of looking like a man.
Attire: Woman Wearing Talit for Warmth
          A woman should not use a talit to keep warm, even
  • if there is no other garment in the synagogue and
  • if she is listening to a Torah class.
Attire: Pistols and Other Weapons
          Pistols and other weapons are considered to be men's attire (begged ish), but they may be worn or carried by women if in any place where there is danger.
Attire: Mixed Swimming
Attire: Women
Attire: Women: Tzni'ut
Attire: Tzni'ut Guidelines for Women
To dress tzenu'a, women should:
  • Cover torso to elbows and to knees;
  • Cover collarbones (and hair, if married).
Also, the garments must not cling tightly to the woman's body.
Note If there are no men nearby (visible), women do not need to wear tzanu'a attire, including when swimming.
Note It is an act of piety to always dress tzenu'a, and is preferable always to dress tzenu'a when feasible.
Attire: Women: Tzni'ut: Lifeguard
If no female lifeguard is available, a male lifeguard may guard and women do not need to wear special tzanu'a attire. There is no difference between using a Jewish or non-Jewish male lifeguard.
Attire: Women: Socks or Stockings
Women wearing skirts below their knees do not need to wear socks or stockings, unless that is the custom in their community.
Note Custom is defined by how people who follow halacha dress, not by how non-religious people dress, even if the non-religious are the majority of a community.
Attire: Women: Open-Toed Sandals
Women may wear open-toed sandals if that is customary in their community.
Attire: Women's Blessings: Mikva
When women say blessings in the mikva, their bodies are covered by the water, which takes the place of clothing for that purpose.
Attire: Married Women: Head Covering (Kisuy Rosh)
Attire: Married Women: Hair-Covering Guidelines
Married women should cover their hair when they leave their “chatzeir,” which may mean house, yard, or domain. Married women should not appear in public without covering their hair.
Note It is an act of piety for married women to always cover their hair. (For extenuating circumstances, consult a rabbi for exceptions).
NoteA married woman may have her hair exposed as long as its area is less than 1 square tefach (3.5” x 3.5”, or about 9 cm x 9 cm). To measure this, add up all exposed hair to get a total area, flattened to two dimensions, as if it were a silhouette.  It is an act of piety for married women to completely cover their hair.
To measure braided or bunched-up hair or hair in a pony tail, simply measure the cross-sectional area as it is. You do not need to measure the hair as if it were spread out flat.
When wearing a baseball-type hat, hair may be exposed on all sides, as long as the total exposed hair is less than 3.5” X 3.5.”
To wear a "kipa sheitl," you may wrap your real hair around the sheitl, but only up to a total of 3.5” x 3.5.”
Attire: Married Women: Hair Cuts
A Jewish woman may have her hair cut by any hairdresser, including men, whether Jewish or not, and there is no problem of his seeing her uncovered hair.
Attire: Married Women: Doctors
A married woman may allow her doctor to see her hair uncovered if necessary for treatment or examination.
Attire: Married Women: Hair Covered during Prayer
A married woman is not required by halacha to have her hair covered when praying alone, but the custom is for her do to so.
Attire: Women: Pritzut
Attire: Women: Pritzut Even If Completely Covered
Pritzut is a deviation from the norm for people's attire, even if completely covered (or not properly covered!).
Example A woman wearing a leotard and tights may be violating pritzut even if her body is completely covered, depending on where she is.
Attire: Women: Pritzut and Neighborhood Customs
          Deviation from the accepted standard for attire (pritzut) may apply even to customs such as are followed in certain neighborhoods, and visiting women must conform to the local standards while there.
Attire: Girls
Attire: Girls: Tzni'ut
Attire: Girls: Age for Modest Dress
Girls should dress modestly from the age of gil chinuch, when they can understand the concept of why to dress modestly. This may start at 6 years old but may be older depending on the girl. Consult a rabbi.
Note The requirement that girls dress modestly from gil chinuch includes girls' wearing bathing suits around adult males.
Attire: Men
Attire: Men: Tzni'ut
Attire: Men: Tzni'ut: Guidelines
          Tzni'ut for men: Men must at least wear shorts. For men, tzanu'a attire when swimming is a bathing suit.
Attire: Men: Head Covering (Kisuy Rosh)
Attire: Men: When To Cover Head
Attire: Man's Head Covering Indoors
It is customary for men to wear a head covering always, even indoors.  This is a custom, not a halacha. When praying or saying blessings or studying Torah or when in a synagogue or bet midrash, men must wear a head covering.
Attire: Men: With What To Cover Head
Sleeve/Hand as Man's Head Covering
You may use your sleeve or someone else's hand (but not your own hand) to cover your head to say a blessing if you are not wearing a head covering.
Mesh Man's Head Covering
Wearing a mesh head covering (kipa) is OK if the threads cover more area than the spaces. 
Size of Man's Head Covering
Minimum head covering (kipa) size should be large enough to be considered a head covering:  a 3-inch diameter would be reasonable.
Attire: Men: Head Covering: Holiness
Kipot Have No Holiness
          Kipot (yarmelkas, skullcaps) do not have any holiness (kedusha).
Attire: Men: Head Covering: Placement
Men's Head Covering on Top of Head
Wear a head covering (kipa) on top of the head, not over the ear as some men do.
Attire: Men: Head Covering: Prayer
Wearing Hat for Prayer
For details on men's wearing a head covering for prayer, see Attire: Man's Head Covering for Prayers or Torah Study
Attire: Men: Tzitzit
Tzitzit: Value
Tzitzit: Continuous Mitzva
Tzitzit have protective value; wearing them provides a continuous mitzva throughout the day and even at night (but only when wearing a garment which is primarily worn during the daytime).
Tzitzit: How To Wear
Tzitzit: Hanging Out
Wearing tzitzit hanging out of your clothes is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Tzitzit: When To Wear
Tzitzit: At Which Age To Wear
Boys begin to wear tzitzit as follows:
     Custom: When the boy is toilet trained and knows how to say the blessing.
     Halacha: When the boy knows that two tzitzit go in front and two in back.
Tzitzit: At Night or While Sleeping
Tzitzit should be worn day and night but not during sleep. (The commandment is to wear tzitzit only during the day, but they still provide protection at night.)
Note Men (and boys) wear a talit katan even after dark but only on clothes which are primarily worn during the daytime), due to doubt as to whether tzitzit are required at night.
Tzitzit: When Hot
You do not need to wear a talit katan at any time when you would not wear a shirt, such as if it is too hot or if you are too sweaty. If you wear a shirt, you should also wear a talit katan.
Tzitzit: Interference with Activity
You do not need to wear tzitzit if they will interfere with an activity such as swimming, scuba diving, or gymnastics (and, for me, hanging upside down on a flying trapeze!).
Tzitzit: What To Wear
Tzitzit: What To Wear: Which Garments Require Tzitzit
A garment or cloth requires tzitzit if:
  • Worn by a male 13 years old or above,
  • Contains at least 51% natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, etc.), and
  • Has four corners in which two corners are normally behind you and the other two are normally in front of you while wearing it (A shawl will not normally need tzitzit).
Note It is the widespread custom to begin wearing tzitzit at the age of chinuch—typically about three years old but this can vary by child.
Tzitzit: Knots and Wraps
Tzitzit strings have five knots separating four wraps of strings. This applies to tzitzit whether on a talit katan or talit gadol. The minimum length for tzitzit strings: 
From the first to fifth knots--at least 4 inches; 
From the fifth knot to the bottom (lower end) of the strings—at least 8 inches.
The wraps go around the entire bunch of strings as follows:
At top but below the first knot: 7 times 
Below the second knot: 8 times 
Below the third knot: 11 times, and 
Above the bottom knot: 13 times
Note The total of the wraps' gematria values (7+ 8+ 11 + 13 = 39) equals the gematria values of Hashem (one of God's names) Echad (is One), as follows:
Hashem (spelled: yud, heh, vav, heh) = 26
Echad (spelled: alef, chet, daled) = 13
Hashem + Echad = 26 + 13 = 39
Tzitzit: Shamash
The purpose of a shamash on tzitzit is to have a string long enough to make wraps.
Tzitzit: Placement
Like all tzitzit, tzitzit on a talit gadol should hang over the side edge of the talit and not hang down from the bottom.
Note They are still kosher even if they hang straight down, b'di'avad.
The tzitzit should hang down along the vertical border (screen left/model's right side)
The tzitzit should hang down along the vertical border (screen left/model's right side)
Tzitzit: Checking
Tzitzit: How To Check
Tzitzit: For What To Check
In checking tzitzit, determine:
  • Are any loops torn?
  • Are 8 strings visible on each corner?
If you cannot see 7 strings due to one or more having been torn off, consult a rabbi.

There is no problem if tzitzit are tangled. However, to untangle them:
  • Is a superior way to fulfill the mitzva, and 
  • Allows you to easily check them to see if there are 8 tzitziyot.
If any tzitziyot are so frizzy that the individual tzitziyot cannot be distinguished, they are invalid (pasul).
Note To prevent frizziness during laundering, wrap the tzitziyot tightly in a rubber band before drying them in a dryer, or hang them to dry.
  • If the hanging end of a tzitzit string breaks below the lowest knot, the string is kosher.
  • If more than one string breaks, or if one string breaks above the lowest knot, consult a rabbi since the tzitzit may not be kosher.
Tzitzit: When To Check
Tzitzit Checking: Before Blessing
You are not required to check tzitzit on a talit katan or talit gadol each day. 
Reason We assume, based on the norm (chazaka), that the tzitzit are OK.
But it is a good idea to check them before saying the blessing over them each day.
Tzitzit Checking: Shabbat and Jewish Festivals
Do not check tzitzit on Shabbat or Jewish festivals.
Reason If there is something wrong, you might untangle them and thereby untie a knot, which is prohibited from the Torah.
Tzitzit: Blessings
Tzitzit: Blessings: When To Say
Only say the blessing on tzitzit during the day.
Tzitzit: Blessings: Tish'a B'Av
On Tish'a B'Av, say a blessing on tzitzit in the morning as always.
Tzitzit: Kissing
Tzitzit: Kissing: Morning Shema
When saying morning shema, kiss the tzitzit when saying the words:
  • tzitzit” in the shema, and
  • emet” and “la'ad” in paragraph following the shema.
These are non-binding customs, not halacha.
Tzitzit: Kissing: Night Shema
Don't kiss tzitzit when saying the shema at night.
Tzitzit: Holding
Tzitzit: Holding: Morning Shema
Holding all four tzitziyot when saying the shema in the morning is not required, but it is customary to do so.
Tzitzit: Preventing Fraying
Tzitzit: Preventing Fraying
You may tie knots in the ends of tzitzit strings to prevent fraying.
Tzitzit: Disposal
Tzitzit: Disposal: How To Wrap
To dispose of items used for mitzvot (tashmishei mitzva) such as tzitzit or etrog, you may wrap in one layer of plastic and throw it into dry garbage, or wrap in two layers of plastic and throw it into wet garbage.
Tzitzit: Cut-Off End Disposal
You may cut off (shorten) tzitzit strings before the first time they are used and throw away the pieces without covering them. Once tzitzit strings have been worn, you must wrap them before disposal as above.
Tzitzit: Garment Disposal
Garments for talit katan and talit gadol have no special holiness (kedusha).  But once used for a mitzva, the garments—like the tzitziyot themselves--must be wrapped before disposal, as above.
Talit Katan
Talit Katan: Size
Talit Katan: Size
The minimum size for the garment of a talit katan is large enough to wrap your torso in, in front and in back: 17 inches (43 cm) wide and 17 inches (43 cm) long, from the top edge to bottom edge and so the total minimum dimensions will be 17 inches wide by 34 inches long. The optimal size is 24 inches wide and 24 inches long on each side (resulting in dimensions of 24 inches by 48 inches. 
The minimum  width for a talit katan is 17 inches
The minimum width for a talit katan is 17 inches
Talit Katan: Material
Talit Katan: Material
A talit katan (or a talit gadol) must be made from at least 51% natural fibers.
Talit Katan: Marking
Talit Katan: Marking Front and Back
A talit katan do not need to be marked with a front and back, but some people have a custom to do so.
Talit Katan: Blessings
Talit Katan: Blessings: Shema if You Wake Up Early
Situation You wake up early and want to say shema (in case you return to sleep and might miss the latest time to say morning shema). 
What To Do
  • You need to wear only a talit katan (not a talit gadol).
  • Say the blessing al mitzvat tzitzit, even if you normally would later put on a talit gadol and therefore would not normally say that blessing over a talit katan.
Talit Katan: Blessings: Shabbat or Jewish Festival Talit Katan
Situation You switch to a special talit katan right before Shabbat and Jewish festivals.
What To Do You do not need to say another blessing over the special talit katan if to switch:
  • Is your normal intention (even if you did not specifically intend to switch when you put on your talit katan that morning), or
  • Is NOT your normal intention but you did intend to switch later that afternoon. 
You must say another blessing if to switch:
  • Is not your normal intention and you also did not intend to switch when you put on the talit katan that morning.
Talit (Gadol)
Talit Gadol: Description
Talit Gadol: Size
The minimum size for a talit gadol is so you could put it over your head and wrap your body in it (even though this is not how you must wear it!).
Talit Gadol: Material
A talit gadol (or a talit katan) must be made from at least 51% natural fibers.
Talit Gadol: Color
A talit should be primarily white.  Here are some details:
  • A talit gadol should be either all white or white with black stripes. Avoid a very colorful talit that makes the white part look insignificant.
  • Blue stripes used to be used: as with techelet, the blue reminds us of the sky, of God's throne (kisei ha'kavod), and of God.
  • Even though the talit was originally supposed to have blue stripes, it is not the custom today to use blue stripes.
  • Black stripes have no significance or importance.
Talit Gadol: Tzitzit Placement
Like all tzitzit, tzitzit on a talit gadol must hang over the edge of the talit and not hang down from the bottom (see diagram).
The tzitzit should hang down along the vertical border (screen left/model's right side)
The tzitzit should hang down along the vertical border (screen left/model's right side)
Talit Gadol: Why
Talit Gadol: Mitzva
Men wear a talit as a mitzva (wearing a four-cornered garment in order to wear tzitzit).
Talit Gadol: Form of Honor
It is a form of honor for the congregation for the leader to dress up (some congregations have the custom of requiring the leader to wear a jacket for mincha for this reason). A talit is usually the form of dressing up for all men during prayer services.
Talit Gadol: Humility
When a person speaks directly to God, it is very important to demonstrate humility. Since the Talmud says that covering one's head is a form of humility (and that learned Jews/talmidei chachamim used to cover their heads), men who wear a talit for prayer should ideally use it to cover their heads whenever they wear it, but the minimum is during the amida.
Talit Gadol: When To Wear
Talit Gadol: Amida
A talit is required only when saying the amida prayer, but the universal custom (for men who wear talitot!) is to wear the talit during the entire shacharit service.
Note A talit is worn for shacharit, musaf, and all day and night on Yom Kippur; it is not commonly worn for mincha or ma'ariv (except on Yom Kippur).
Talit Gadol: Prayer Leader during Amida Repetition
A prayer leader should be especially careful to cover his head when saying the reader's repetition of the amida.  A hatless prayer leader covers his head with the talit gadol during the private amida (also during the public amida and repetition). If wearing a hat, he does not cover his head with the talit.
Talit Gadol with Talit Katan
Wear a talit gadol even though you are already wearing a talit katan, as a means of honoring the prayers.
Talit Gadol: Married Men
Once a man has been married, he must wear a talit when saying shacharit and musaf, even if he becomes widowed or divorced.
Talit Gadol: Mincha
When wearing a talit at mincha Torah reading--such as for an aliya, hagbaha, or glila--you do not need to wear it until after kedusha, but some people have that custom.
Talit Gadol: Blessing
Talit Gadol: Which Blessing
The blessing over putting on the talit gadol is lehit'ateiph ba'tzitzit.
Talit Gadol: What the Blessing Covers
Saying the blessing on a talit gadol, while intending to cover all other talitot (whether talit katan or talit gadol), will cover:
  • All talitot that you already put on.
  • All talitot that you will put on later that day.
  • If you go out of whichever building you are in when you say the blessing on your talit, you must say a new blessing if you put on a talit (even the same talit) in a different building.
Exception You may intend for the blessing NOT to cover other talitot.
Example You say the blessing over your talit gadol on the morning preceding Yom Kippur.  You may intend for your blessing not to cover the talit gadol that you will put on just before Kol Nidrei.

Note If you don't have a talit gadol, say al mitzvat tzitzit over your talit katan.

Note If you remove your talit gadol, go to a different building, and put the talit gadol on again, you DO say a new blessing.

Talit Gadol: Placing Talit on Head
Placing the talit gadol over your head while saying the talit blessing is a halacha, but wearing it on your head any other time is a custom.
Talit Gadol: Replacing One You Removed by Choice
Do not say a new blessing when you replace a talit that you chose to take off, with the intention of putting it back on (such as removing it to go to the bathroom).

Talit Gadol: Replacing One that Fell Off
Say a new blessing when you replace a talit gadol that fell off your body completely (not just if it slipped off one shoulder).
Talit Gadol: Blessing when Borrowed for Aliya/Prayer Leader
If you borrow a talit, such as for an aliya or to serve as prayer leader, it is not customary to say a blessing on it.
Note If you want to say a blessing on a borrowed talit, ask the owner to “give” it to you as a gift, which you will later give back as a gift.
Talit Gadol: Blessing on Loaned or Borrowed
Do not say a new blessing when you put back on your talit gadol that you loaned someone if you are at the same prayer service.
Talit Gadol: Blessing between Bar'chu and Amida
Situation You began shacharit on your way to synagogue and are between bar'chu and the amida when you arrive. You have not yet put on a talit.
What To Do
  • Put on a talit immediately.
  • Say the blessing on the talit after you finish the amida.
Talit Gadol: Blessing over Public Talit
You may say the blessing on a public talit gadol available at the synagogue, even though it is not your talit.
Reason It is assumed that the talitot at synagogues are there to be used by anyone.
Talit Gadol: Blessing Once Married
Once a man is married and wears a talit gadol, he stops saying the blessing on tzitzit on his talit katan; it is covered by the blessing on his talit gadol.
Talit Gadol: How To Put On
Talit Gadol: Putting on in Morning
To put on a talit in the morning:
  • Say the blessing lehit'ateiph ba'tzitzit.
  • Put the garment over your head and down to your nose.
  • Gather the two tzitziyot from the right side and the front one from the left side and swing them over your left shoulder (you do not need to bunch up the talit before doing so).
  • Wait for at least 2 ½ seconds and say the appropriate verses (see a siddur for the text).
Talit Gadol: How To Care For
Talit Gadol: Folding, Rolling, Hanging
You do not need to fold a talit after using it; you may roll it or hang it up. The only requirement is that you take care of it and don't crumple it or treat it disrespectfully.
Attire: Belt
Belt/gartel with Robes
You only need to wear a belt/gartel (for saying blessings, prayer services and for studying holy texts) if:
  • You are wearing an open and loose garment such as a robe (or other toga-like garments) and
  • You are not wearing any undergarments.
Note The belt separates upper from lower parts of your body and this requirement is not normally relevant for Western attire. If it is your family tradition, you should follow that. There may also a kabalistic reason to wear one.
Attire: Shoes
Leather or Synthetic Shoes in Halacha
In Jewish law, only leather shoes are considered to be “shoes” for purposes of the Nine Days, mourning, Yom Kippur, shiv'a, or ritual impurity. Non-leather shoes may normally be worn during those periods.

Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
See All Blessings
See All Blessings
To see all blessings, see Blessings & Prayers.
Introduction to Blessings (Brachot)
Introduction to Blessings/Brachot
Blessings as Thanks
We say blessings as thanks to God for the good we receive from Him; this is a form of acknowledging and expressing gratitude (hakarat ha'tov).
Having an appreciation for the physical world and the beauty and goodness in it is a means of relating to God through Creation. People can maintain a continual awareness of, and relationship with, God by saying blessings:
  • Before and after eating,
  • After waking in the morning,
  • At various types of life experiences, and
  • In many other situations.

Blessings Formulations

Some blessings begin with Baruch ata adonai only; some blessings continue with eloheinu melech ha'olam.  The shorter blessings come at the end of long (compound) blessings.

ReasonThere is no mention of malchut at the end of a blessing.

How To Say Blessings

When saying blessings or prayers, it is generally best to say the words of the blessing or prayer out loud since doing so can help you to concentrate on what is being said. (The main exception is the amida prayer.)
Normally, you should stand while saying blessings before doing a mitzva, unless the mitzva is done while seated (in which case you sit when saying the blessing).
REASON So there is no delay between saying the blessing and doing the mitzva.
NOTE Although there is not necessarily any need to stand while doing mitzvot, many mitzvot are done while standing due to the nature of the mitzva or for convenience.
If you find you have made an error in saying a blessing or prayer, you may correct your error without having to repeat any previous parts if you do so within 2.5 seconds of having made the error.
Note Blessings (brachot) and Prayers (tefilot) are in separate sections in this website, even though prayers have blessings within them.
Blessings: Categories
Three Main Categories of Blessings
There are three main categories of blessings:
  1. Enjoyment (birchot nehenin), such as on foods and scents.
  2. Praise and Thanks to God (shevach v'hoda'a), such as when saying she'hecheyanu, on seeing mountains and the sea, or when good happens to us.
  3. Commandments/Mitzvot (birchot mitzva), such as reading the Torah, using the lulav, or lighting Shabbat candles.
Blessings: General Rules
Blessings: Doubt (Safek) Whether You Said
If Doubt Whether You Said a Blessing (except for Birkat HaMazon)
If you are not sure if you said ANY blessing in ANY category, don't repeat it.
  • Birkat ha'mazon.
  • You may also include the first blessing over reading the Torah (Asher bachar banu mi'kol ha'amim.)
Even the blessing for mezonot is not an exception. 
Reason The only blessing commanded in the Torah is birkat ha'mazon (some say also the blessings on the Torah); all others are from Chazal.
If Doubt Whether You Said Birkat HaMazon
Say birkat ha'mazon if:
  • You are not certain that you said birkat ha'mazon, and
  • You were satiated from your meal.
Note You are considered to be “satiated” after eating food if you no longer have an appetite.
If Doubt Whether You Said Blessings on Torah Study
If you are not certain that you have said any of the morning blessings on studying Torah (from la'asok b'divrei Torah to notein haTorah), you should not say them later.  But when you say “ahava raba” before the morning shema, you may intend it to cover such blessings; then after the amida, you should say some Torah verses (psukim).
Blessings: Saying for Someone Else
Blessings: For Someone Else: Mitzva/Birchot Mitzva
You may say any blessing on a mitzva—such as kiddush, hallel, Torah—for another person, even if you have already fulfilled the mitzva for yourself, as long as that other person is required to do that mitzva.
Example Girls (12 years old and more) and women must fulfill all of the positive commandments of Shabbat including kiddush.  So even after they have already said kiddush for themselves, they may say kiddush for other Jews, including adult men.
Exception You may not say birkat ha'mazon for someone else.
Blessings: For Someone Else: Pleasure/Birchot Nehenin and Praise-Thanks/Shevach V'Hoda'a
You may say these blessings for someone else only if you also need to say the blessing for yourself:
  • Blessings for Enjoyment (“birchot nehenin”—such as for food or drink), and
  • Blessings of Praise and Thanks (shevach v'hoda'a--such as on rainbows or seeing large mountains)
Blessings: Answering Amen
Blessings: Answering Amen: What To Hear
When someone is saying a blessing on your behalf, you may say amen as long as you have heard at least:
  • The first six words of the blessing; and
  • At least a few words of substance in the middle of the blessing; and
  • The complete final line.
Example For the al ha'michya blessing, you must hear:
  • The first six words,
  • Al ha'michya, and
  • The final blessing line.

Blessings: Correcting a Mistaken Blessing
Correcting a Mistaken Blessing
If you make a mistake when saying any blessing or in any prayer, you may correct it within 2.5 seconds by simply saying the correct blessing. 
Note If you did not correct the blessing within 2.5 seconds, see next halacha:
Retracting a Blessing after Third or Fourth Word
If you start an incorrect blessing:
  • If you have said the third word (God's name), say
    lamdeini chukecha.
  • If you have already said the third syllable of the fourth word (elohei…), say
    Yisrael avinu mei'olam v'ad olam.
  • If you said more than the third syllable of the fourth word, say
    Baruch shem kevod malchuto l'olam va'ed.
Blessings: How Many To Say
100 Blessings on Weekdays
Try to say 100 blessings a day.  This is easy on weekdays since Ashkenazim say about 89 blessings just in the prayer services.
NoteSaying 100 blessings each day is a halacha drabanan.
100 Blessings on Shabbat and Jewish Festivals
On Shabbat and some Jewish festivals, you might want to fulfill some of the quota for making 100 blessings by:
  • Eating extra fruit or other foods,
  • Hearing and saying amen to the blessings over the:
    • Torah reading,
    • Reader's repetition of the amida for shacharit and musaf, and
    • Haftara by the maftir.
Blessings: Types
Blessings: Morning (Birchot HaShachar)
Morning Blessings (Birchot HaShachar)
In the morning blessings, say she'asa li kol tzarki even if you are not wearing shoes (even on Tish'a B'Av morning).
Blessings: Food
Blessings: Food: General Rules
Food When No One Will Bless
Food When No One Will Bless: Feeding
You should feed a poor Jew, even if he or she won't say a blessing on the food.  If a Jew is not poor, you should not give him or her food unless he or she (or someone else--it could be yourself) says a blessing on it for him/her.
Note If someone else says the blessing for the poor person, the person saying the blessing must also eat some of that food.
Food When No One Will Bless: Selling
You may sell food to Jews even if they will not make a blessing over it (you may of course sell to non-Jews since they are not required to say a blessing on it!).
Food Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona)
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): General Rules
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Priorities
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Priorities
You must say the blessing which was designed to be said on each type of food. B'diavad, a lower level blessing will still cover the food.
From lowest to highest level, here are the food fore-blessings:
  • She'hakol,
  • Borei pri ha'adama,
  • Borei pri ha'eitz (on common fruits),
  • Borei pri ha'eitz (on the Five Special Fruits)
Note You will only say borei pri ha'eitz ONCE to include both common fruits and also special fruits that you will eat at one sitting,
  • Borei minei mezonot,
  • Borei pri ha'gafen, and
  • Ha'motzi lechem min ha'aretz.

Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Which Level To Say
In general, say the highest-level fore-blessing (bracha rishona) on a food.
Note As some foods get processed by cooking or by other means, they qualify for a higher-level blessing.
  • Raw, rolled oats only merit the fore-blessing of she'hakol. But once the oats are cooked, the blessing of borei minei mezonot applies. 
    Note Raw oats could get the fore-blessing borei pri ha'adama, since they grow directly in the earth.  But because oats are not normally considered edible when raw, they get demoted to she'hakol
  • A raw grape or raisin gets the blessing of borei pri ha'eitz.  But once made into wine or grape juice, it merits borei pri ha'gafen.
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Minimum Measurements
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Minimum Quantity
On How Much Food To Say Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona)
Always say one of the six fore-blessings (bracha rishona) before eating, as long as you expect to get enjoyment or benefit from whatever you ate, even when eating:
  • Less than a minimal quantity (minimal shiur), or
  • Eating a small (kolshehu) amount of food.
  • Say a fore-blessing before you taste food you are cooking.
  • Say a fore-blessing before you taste a tiny amount of honeysuckle nectar.
Exception Do not say a fore-blessing on water that you drink with medicine.
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Time Limit
Until When May You Eat without a New Fore-Blessing
You may continue eating without saying a new fore-blessing--without a time limit--as long as you are not involved in some other activity that distracts you from eating (hesech da'at). 
Situation You are eating and take a break to do work for your business or read a magazine article that involves your concentration.  
What To Do You may not continue eating unless you say a new fore-blessing.
Note This is true whether you became full at any time or not.
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Food Categories
One Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona) per Food Category
Your fore-blessing covers all other same-category foods that you will eat at the same time (same sitting), if:
  1. They are in front of you when you say the blessing, OR
  2. You intend your blessing to cover all other same-category foods that you own and will eat at the same sitting--even if they are not in front of you when you make the blessing.
    Note You do not need to state your intention out loud, just think it.  If you usually have this intention but you forgot on an occasion, you do not need to say new blessings on the subsequent foods of that type that you already own.
Examples in Your Home
  • You say she'hakol over two kinds of she'hakol foods on your table.  The blessing also covers a third she'hakol food in your refrigerator and a fourth in your pantry that you know you own.
  • You say she'hakol and are eating an omelette when a visitor brings you a gift of chocolates: you must say a new she'hakol]blessing before eating the chocolates.
    Note Anytime your spouse is serving you food, it is assumed that your initial fore-blessings will cover all food that you will eat.
Examples outside Your Home
  • Guest at Someone's Home
    Whenever you are a guest at someone else's house, it is assumed that whatever foods you will eat, will be covered by your initial fore-blessing as long as they are in the same category.
  • Attendee at Kiddush or Wedding
    If you say she'hakol over fish at a kiddush or wedding, the blessing covers all she'hakol foods in the room.
  • Diner in Restaurant
    If you have made an order in a restaurant, all ordered foods will be covered by your first fore-blessing(s). However, if you later order more food, even if the fore-blessings are the same, you must still say a new fore-blessing.
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): HaMotzi and Desserts
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): HaMotzi and Desserts
For details on HaMotzi and desserts, see Which Foods HaMotzi Covers.
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Identifiable Produce
Which Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona) on Identifiable Produce
Say borei pri ha'eitz or borei pri ha'adama for foods made of identifiable pieces of fruit or vegetables.
Note Even if you know the ingredients in a prepared food--such as grated apples--you must see identifiable pieces in order to say a specific blessing (borei pri ha'eitz, borei pri ha'adama...). If no ingredients are visually identifiable, you must say she'hakol (or possibly borei minei mezonot).
Example Say borei pri ha'adama on a potato kugel with coarsely ground potatoes; if the potatoes are pulverized, say she'hakol.
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): When Not Thirsty
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona) When Drinking To Prevent Thirst
Do not say a blessing on water that you drink before you are thirsty in order to prevent thirst later.
Fore-Blessing When Drinking To Swallow Pill
Do not say a blessing if you drink water in order to swallow pills.
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Forgetting
Fore-Blessing If Forgot Whether You Said After-Blessing
Situation You ate some food and do not remember whether you had said the after-blessing. Now you want to eat or drink more food:
What To Do Depends on if what you want to eat or drink is water:
  • Not Water:
    • If the food or drink had been in front of you when you had said the blessing before, do not say it again.
    • If the food or drink was not in front of you and was also not available to you when you said the first fore-blessing, say a new fore-blessing.
  • Water (after having drunk water earlier in the same place):
    If you are not certain whether you had said the after-blessing and even if you definitely did NOT say the after blessing, do not say a new fore-blessing.
    Reason Water is always considered to be in front of you (in the water pipe).
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Incorrect Blessing
Incorrect Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona) If Food Is/Is Not before You
Situation You say the incorrect blessing over food in front of you but you also have a food in front of you that does fit the blessing.
What To Do You may eat the food covered by your actual blessing, and then say the correct blessing for the food you originally intended to eat.
Note You may not go into a different room to find food that qualifies for the incorrect food blessing. You should instead say Baruch shem kevod malchuto l'olam va'ed as soon as possible.
Note There is no specific time limit beyond which you may no longer say Baruch shem kevod malchuto l'olam va'ed.
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Changing Location
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Changing Location
The fore-blessing (bracha rishona) must be said where you eat.  However, sometimes you may begin eating in one domain and continue eating in another domain. A domain may be any physically limited area (car, house, restaurant, office building) or the outdoors (highway, park, etc.). Once you left the first place, you are considered to have had an interruption of thought (hesech da'at) and are no longer eating that original snack or meal. 
Whether you say a new fore-blessing depends on your intention when you said the fore-blessing:
  • Do not say a new fore-blessing if you had intended to go to the second place, as long as the food at the second place is in the same food categories as what you already blessed on at the first place.
  • Say a new fore-blessing if you had not intended to continue eating in the second domain, even if you had planned to return to that first place and continue eating.
    Exception You do not need to make a new fore-blessing if:
    • You return to the first place and even one person who was eating with you is still there, OR
    • You had eaten bread or mezonot and then left but had not said the after-blessings of birkat ha'mazon or al ha'michya, even if no one is left from before.
      Reason Since you are required to say birkat ha'mazon or al ha'michya, you are still considered to be continuing your meal.
      Note As long as you are under the same roof, do not say new blessings on food at the new place (such as when switching seats or even rooms in a restaurant).
      Exception Even if you washed your hands and said ha'motzi at the first place, say a new blessing on food that would have required a new blessing at the first place, such as new wine or any dessert other than mezonot.

Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona) in Vain (Bracha L'Vatala)
Making a Conditional Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona)
To avoid making a blessing in vain (bracha l'vatala), you may intend a fore-blessing to cover all other foods of that category that you will eat at the same time.
Note You may make the condition:
  • Each time you eat, or
  • Once and intend it to apply to all future instances.
Note You then do NOT say new fore-blessings on these new same-category foods.
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Liquid from Foods
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona): Liquid from Food
When you have said a fore-blessing on one type of food, such as borei pri ha'adama on vegetables, you do not need to say she'hakol on the liquid that remains after having eaten the solid vegetables.
Reason The fore-blessing covers all components, even if they are not the same classification.
Note If you ate the vegetables, said the after-blessing, and then later came back and drank the liquid, you would need to say she'hakol.
The Food Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Specifics
I. HaMotzi
HaMotzi: Which Foods Get HaMotzi
HaMotzi on Bread Made of the Five Grains
Wash the One-Time Method and say ha'motzi on bread made of the Five Grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley, or spelt), even if you will not eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) within four minutes.
Note Say the blessing al netilat yadayim on washing hands ONLY if you will eat at least 1.9. fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread within four minutes.
Note If you eat less than 1.3 fl. oz. of bread of the Five Grains, do not say birkat ha'mazon or any other after-blessing.
Fore-Blessing: Bread-Like Foods
Fore-Blessing: Bread or Mezonot
To be halachically considered “bread,” the item must have been baked and have air holes in it. To determine whether a food made of the Five Grains qualifies as bread (ha'motzi) or mezonot (borei minei mezonot), decide whether the food had been made to be eaten as a meal or as a snack.  If it was made to be:
  • Bread (that is, for a meal), say ha'motzi.
  • Mezonot (but you will eat a full meal), say ha'motzi.
  • A snack, say borei minei mezonot.
Note Some foods may qualify as either ha'motzi or mezonot (such as pizza).
NoteIf at least 20% of a bread's flour is from one of the Five Grains, say a fore-blessing of ha'motzi on the bread (and birkat ha'mazon afterward, if you ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. within four minutes).
NoteWhether the bread/mezonot was made with fruit juice instead of water may not affect its blessing, since the blessing is determined by its intended use. Mezonot rolls on airline flights may still require the blessing of ha'motzi if you eat them as part of a meal.
Note Since it does not have air holes, wheat tortillas get the blessing of mezonot and not ha'motzi.
NOTE The fore-blessing on stuffing made of bread or a bread kugel is mezonot if none of the pieces are 1 fl. oz. or larger.
Fore-Blessing: Small Amount of Pizza/Other Bread-Like Mezonot
Situation You will eat less than 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of pizza or other bread-like mezonot) within four minutes.
What To Do Wash your hands using the One-Time Method, but do not say al netilat yadayim. Then say borei minei mezonot.
Fore-Blessing: Sprouted Wheat Bread
For the fore-blessing on sprouted wheat bread, say:
  • Ha'motzi if the grains are more like wheat grains than sprouts.
    Note If the sprout still has any part of the original grain, excluding the husk, it is still considered to be grain and the fore-blessing is ha'motzi.
  • She'hakol if the grains were sprouted in water without soil.
Fore-Blessing: Bread/Cakes of Only Rice Flour
Bread or cakes made of only rice flour may not be used for any meal requiring eating bread and saying birkat ha'mazon.  The blessing is borei minei mezonot, not ha'motzi.
Fore-Blessing: Bread/Cakes of Rice Flour and Mezonot Flour
In a bread containing rice flour, if at least 20% of the flour is from one of the Five Grains, say the fore-blessing of ha'motzi (after-blessing: birkat ha'mazon).
In a cake containing mostly rice flour, if at least 20% of the flour is from one of the Five Grains, say a fore-blessing of borei minei mezonot (after-blessing: al ha'michya).
Fore-Blessing: Unbaked Dough
For the fore-blessing on cooked (but unbaked) dough, see Fore-Blessing: Cooked Dough/Pasta.
Fore-Blessing: Bulgur Wheat/Tabouli
The fore-blessing on bulgur wheat (such as tabouli) is borei minei mezonot.
HaMotzi: Which Foods HaMotzi Covers
Which Foods HaMotzi Covers
Ha'motzi always covers all food eaten as part of a meal, except wine and any non-mezonot desserts such as fruit, on all days (not just on Shabbat or Jewish festivals).
Desserts that HaMotzi Does Not Cover
Non-mezonot dessert foods (which often have a sweet taste) are not normally eaten with bread. Say fore-blessings on desserts at a meal (for which you have already said ha'motzi and eaten bread) only on:
  • Fruit from “trees”(borei pri ha'eitz),
  • Fruit from the ground (borei pri ha'adama), such as melons and strawberries, and
  • Specialty items (she'hakol), such as ice cream.
HaMotzi: Washing Hands
HaMotzi: Washing Hands: When To Wash
Before eating bread, you must always wash your hands.
Note If you do not plan to eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread within four minutes, wash but do not say the blessing al netilat yadayim.
HaMotzi: Washing Hands: Finding Water
To find water for washing hands before eating bread:
  • You must travel or walk up to 18 minutes away to find water.
  • If you are already traveling, you must continue up to 72 minutes (in the direction in which you are going anyway) to find water.
  • If you still cannot find water, cover your hands with any type of separation (gloves, sheet of plastic, bag, foil, or some other object) to keep your hands from directly contacting the bread.
HaMotzi: Washing Hands: Finding 4 fl. oz. Container
Situation You do not have a washing cup of at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) and you need to wash hands after sleeping or before eating bread.
Status You may not substitute a smaller washing container (such as a 2 fl. oz./59 ml cup) and use it twice. 
What To Do You must travel up to 18 minutes away to get such a container when needed.
Note If you have a spigot that is less than 12 inches above the ground, you may open the spigot and let at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) flow out, close the tap, reopen it, and repeat.
HaMotzi: Washing Hands: Procedure
To wash for ha'motzi, use the One-Time Method, see How To Wash Hands the One-Time Method.
HaMotzi: Being Touched by Unwashed Hands
Situation Someone who has not yet washed touches your hand after you have washed your hands, said al netilat yadayim, and dried your hands.
  • If his/her hand is dry, there is no problem of transferring impurity.
  • If his/her hand is wet, this may have transferred ritual impurity to your hand.
What To Do
  • If his/her hand is wet, touch a normally covered part of your body and then rewash your hands and say the blessing on washing hands.
    Note If you have already said ha'motzi, don't repeat the ha'motzi blessing.
HaMotzi: Speaking after Washing
Situation You washed your hands in order to eat bread. You spoke before saying hamotzi.
What To Do You do not need to wash your hands again.
You do not need to say the blessing on washing hands again.
HaMotzi: Forgot To Wash
Situation You said ha'motzi without having washed your hands first.
What To Do Up until the time you say birkat ha'mazon, you must interrupt your meal and wash your hands. 
Note Say al netilat yadayim ONLY if you will still eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread afterward; if you will eat less than 1.9 fl. oz., wash without a blessing.
HaMotzi: Lifting the Bread
HaMotzi: When To Lift the Bread
When saying ha'motzi, lift the bread when saying God's name. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
HaMotzi: Interrupted Meal/Hesech Da'at
Washing Your Hands for Interrupted Meal
Situation You said ha'motzi, ate any amount of bread, interrupted your meal and forgot about it, and now wish to resume your meal and eat more bread.
What To Do Wash your hands again and say the blessing on washing hands.
Note There is no time limit for this; whenever you forget about the meal, you must rewash before eating more bread. However, you do not say ha'motzi if it is within the allowed time to say birkat ha'mazon.
HaMotzi: Shabbat
HaMotzi: Shabbat
For HaMotzi on Shabbat, see Shabbat: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh).
II. Borei Minei Mezonot
Borei Minei Mezonot: General Rules
Introduction to Borei Minei Mezonot
Say the fore-blessing borei minei mezonot on non-bread foods if:
Borei Minei Mezonot: Which Grains
Fore-Blessing: Which Grains: Non-Five Grains: In Whole or In Part
Fore-Blessing: Which Grains: Non-Five Grains: In Whole or In Part
Say the fore-blessing borei pri ha'adama (not borei minei mezonot) on cooked or baked foods:
  • If the Five Grains make up less than 20% of the food's flour volume, OR
  • If made of non-Five Grains, such as corn, millet, or quinoa.
Note Rice is an exception; see next entry.
Fore-Blessing: Which Grains: Non-Five Grains: Rice
Rice (including rice bread and rice pasta) gets the fore-blessing borei minei mezonot, but not the after-blessing of al ha'michya (after-blessing: borei nefashot), even if you ate an entire meal of rice.
Fore-Blessing: Which Grains: Non-Five Grains: Tortillas
For corn tortillas (most tortillas are corn tortillas), say the fore-blessing she'hakol (after-blessing: borei nefashot).
For wheat tortillas, say the fore-blessing borei minei mezonot (after-blessing: al ha'michya).
Fore-Blessing: Which Grains: Non-Five Grains: Mezonot/Non-Mezonot Combinations
Fore-Blessing: Which Grains: Mezonot/Non-Mezonot Combinations: Ice Cream Cone
The fore-blessing for ice cream cones depends on which part you prefer to eat:
Situation 1 You like the ice cream more than the cone and would eat it without the cone.
What To Do Say the fore-blessing of she'hakol.
Note She'hakol covers the cone.
  • Borei nefashot if you eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup--including cone, if you eat the cone) within four minutes.
  • No blessing if you eat less than 1.3 fl. oz. in four minutes.
Situation 2 You like the cone and the ice cream equally.
What To Do Say borei minei mezonot (this will cover the ice cream).
  • Al ha' michya if you eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup of ice cream plus cone) within four minutes. 
  • No blessing if you eat less than 1.3 fl. oz. in four minutes.
Situation 3 The cone is sweet and you ALSO like the ice cream as much as the cone.
What To Do
  • Say she'hakol on the ice cream.
  • When you get to the cone, add borei minei mezonot.
  • Borei nefashot.
  • Also say al ha'michya if the cone totaled at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) and you ate it within four minutes.
Fore-Blessing: Which Grains: Mezonot/Non-Mezonot Combinations: Pie
Normally, for a pie say:
Fore-blessing of borei minei mezonot, even if it contains less than 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of flour. 
To say the after-blessing, al ha'michya, you must eat a total volume of at least 1.3 fl. oz.--even if the flour was a minority of the ingredients. 
            However, if you prefer the filling to the crust (if you would not eat the crust by itself), say the appropriate fore-blessing over the filling, such as:
  • She'hakol (after-blessing: borei nefashot), or
  • Borei pri ha'eitz (after-blessing if on more than 1.3 fl. oz. of the Five Special Fruits--figs, dates, grapes, or pomegranates:  al ha'eitz.
Fore-Blessing: Which Grains: Mezonot/Non-Mezonot Combinations: Turkey with Bread Stuffing
Situation You will eat bread stuffing with turkey. The bread stuffing has at least one chunk of bread at least 1.3 fl. oz. in volume.
What To Do Wash and say ha'motzi. If you eat at least 1.3 fl oz of the stuffing, say birkat ha'mazon afterward.
Situation You will eat bread stuffing with turkey. There is NOT at least one chunk of bread at least 1.3 fl. oz. in volume.
What To Do Do not wash and say ha'motzi, and do not say birkat ha'mazon (unless you eat enough to constitute a full meal). However, if you enjoy the stuffing as much as the turkey or will eat some stuffing by itself, say borei minei mezonot.
Borei Minei Mezonot: Which Cooking Methods
Fore-Blessing: Cooked Dough
Fore-Blessing: Cooked Dough/Pasta
Bread must be baked in order to say ha'motzi on it ; dough that was cooked by any method other than baking (such as pasta) gets the fore-blessing of borei minei mezonot
Note Even if you eat enough to constitute a meal, you still say al ha'michya afterward.
Fore-Blessing: Fried Bread Batter
Fore-Blessing: French Toast
See Bread/Mezonot: Mixtures with Other Foods.
Fore-Blessing: Raw or Cooked Grains
Fore-Blessing: Raw or Cooked Grains: Porridge/Oatmeal
If oatmeal is porridge, say borei minei mezonot (after-blessing, al ha'michya).
Fore-Blessing: Raw or Cooked Grains: Rolled Oats/Muesli
If rolled oats are eaten without cooking (such as in raw muesli), say borei pri ha'adama (after-blessing, borei nefashot).
Fore-Blessing: Raw or Cooked Grains: Granola
On granola, since it is cooked (baked), say borei minei mezonot (after-blessing, al ha'michya).
Fore-Blessing: Raw or Cooked Grains: Granola Bars
On granola bars, say borei minei mezonot (after-blessing, al ha'michya).
Fore-Blessing: Cake Batter
Fore-Blessing: Raw Cake Batter
Before eating raw cake batter, say she'hakol (after-blessing: borei nefashot).
Borei Minei Mezonot: Intended as Meal or Snack
Fore-Blessing: Bread-Like Crackers
Fore-blessing for Ryvita and other bread-like crackers :
  • Ha'motzi if they are normally eaten as a meal —even if you eat only a small amount.  The after-blessing is birkat ha'mazon as long as you ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) within four minutes.
    Note If you ate less than 1.3 fl. oz. or took more than 4 minutes, do not say any after-blessing.
  • Borei minei mezonot if normally eaten as a snack (after-blessing: al ha'michya) .
Situation Crackers are normally eaten as a snack, but YOU eat it as part of a meal.
What To Do Say ha'motzi (after-blessing, birkat ha'mazon).
Fore-Blessing: Bread Sticks
Bread sticks are intended to be eaten as a snack, so say borei minei mezonot and not ha'motzi (after-blessing, al ha'michya).
Fore-Blessing: Crackers
Over crackers, say the fore-blessing borei minei mezonot (after-blessing, al ha'michya).
III. Borei Pri HaGafen
Borei Pri HaGafen: Which Foods
Borei Pri HaGafen: What It Covers
When To Say Borei Pri HaGafen
Say borei pri ha'gafen on wine or grape juice, whether at a meal with bread or not.
Borei Pri HaGafen: Mixed Drinks
Borei Pri HaGafen: Mixed Drinks: Wine/Grape Juice Mixed with Water
Say borei pri ha'gafen on drinks of wine or grape juice mixed with water if at least 1/7th of the total volume is wine (or grape juice) but the mixture but also still be considered to be wine or grape juice.
Borei Pri HaGafen: Mixed Drinks: Wine/Grape Juice Mixed with Non-Water Liquids
Say borei pri ha'gafen on mixtures of wine (or grape juice) with beverages other than water, as long as the final mixture would still be considered to be wine (or grape juice) by most people in your area.
Note If the mixture is at least 50% wine (and maybe even at greater dilutions), it will normally be considered borei pri ha'gafen.
Borei Pri HaGafen: In Succession with SheHakol
Borei Pri HaGafen*: After SheHakol
Borei Pri HaGafen*: After SheHakol
Situation You said she'hakol on a non-grape beverage, drank the beverage, and then want to drink wine (or grape juice).
What To Do Say borei pri ha'gafen before drinking the wine (or grape juice).
Borei Pri HaGafen*: Before SheHakol
Borei Pri HaGafen*: Before SheHakol: Drink at Least 2 Fl. Oz.
If you say borei pri ha'gafen and drink at least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) of wine (or grape juice) within 30 seconds, the borei pri ha'gafen will cover all subsequent beverages you drink at about the same time--even if their fore-blessing should be she'hakol.
NoteSaying the after-blessing on the wine/grape juice--if drinking at least 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of the wine/grape juice--covers the water or other beverage that you drank.
Borei Pri HaGafen: Before SheHakol: Drink Less than 2 Fl. Oz.
If you say borei pri ha'gafen and drink less than 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) of wine (or grape juice) within 30 seconds, you must say she'hakol over any subsequent non-grape-based beverages that you drink.
Borei Pri HaGafen: Saying Again
Saying Borei Pri HaGafen Again
You may say a new blessing on any remaining wine if:
  • You said, or heard someone saying, borei pri ha'gafen,
  • Drank some wine (or grape juice),
  • Decided to stop drinking (hesech da'at), and
  • Returned to drink from the same cup later.
Note If you are not sure you had hesech da'at, do not say a new blessing.
IV. Borei Pri Ha'Eitz
Borei Pri Ha'Eitz: Which Foods
Borei Pri Ha’Eitz: All Fruits
Borei Pri Ha'Eitz: All Fruits: Perennial Fruits and Nuts
Say borei pri ha'eitz on fruits and nuts from perennial trees or bushes.
Note A perennial tree or bush is a plant whose trunks or stalks survive from year to year; often with bark on the trunk or stalk.
Borei Pri Ha’Eitz: Five Special Fruits
Borei Pri Ha'Eitz: Five Special Fruits: General Rule
Say borei pri ha'eitz on the Five Special Fruits for which the Land of Israel is praised.
Borei Pri Ha'Eitz: Five Special Fruits: Order and Preference
To eat more than one type of the Five Special Fruits:
  • If you have a particular preference, you may eat the fruits in whichever order you prefer.
  • If you have no particular preference, eat them in this order:
    1. Olive
    2. Date
    3. Grape
    4. Fig
    5. Pomegranate.
Note Order of Five Special Fruits
The order for eating the Five Special Fruits comes from Deuteronomy/Devarim 8:8 and follows the fruit's proximity to the two times the word “eretz” is used:
Eretz chita u's'ora v'gefen u't'eina v'rimon, eretz zayit shemen u'dvash.”
A land of wheat and barley and grapevine and fig and pomegranate, a land of olive oil and honey.
V. Borei Pri HaAdama
Borei Pri HaAdama: Which Foods
Borei Pri HaAdama: Which Foods: General Rules
Borei Pri HaAdama: Which Foods: General Rules
Say borei pri ha'adama on:
  • Common vegetables,
  • Fruits and nuts that grow on annual plants (such as pineapple, bananas, strawberries, peanuts), and
  • Uncooked or unbaked grains, including those not of the Five Special Grains.
Note For when to say she'hakol, see Borei Pri HaAdama: Sprouts .
Borei Pri HaAdama: Which Foods: Specialty Foods
Borei Pri HaAdama: Bananas, Hearts of Palm
Say borei pri ha'adama if the tree from which the food grew can only be used once, such as banana trees or palm trees that get cut down after giving their produce.
Borei Pri HaAdama: Bread Croutons in Salad
For fore-blessing of bread croutons in salad, see Borei Pri HaAdama: Salads.
Borei Pri HaAdama: Salads
Say borei pri ha'adama on vegetable salad.
Note The fore-blessing of borei pri ha'adama also covers salad toppings and additions that by themselves require a different blessing, such as:
  • Borei pri ha'eitz for a sprinkling of pine nuts, cashews, apple slices, or raisins, or
  • Borei minei mezonot or ha'motzi for bread croutons. 
Reason Since these toppings and additions are subordinate to the main salad, you do not say the individual blessings; you only say borei pri ha'adama.

Borei Pri HaAdama: Sprouts
Say the fore-blessing of she'hakol if the sprouts were grown only in water.
Say borei pri ha'adama if the grains were sprouted in the ground (such as sunflower sprouts or wheat grass).
VI. SheHakol
SheHakol: Which Foods
SheHakol: Which Foods: General Rule
Say she'hakol, the most general blessing, over any food or drink that does not fall into a higher category (HaMotzi, Borei Minei Mezonot, Borei Pri Ha'Eitz, Borei Pri HaGafen, and Borei Pri HaAdama).
Note One blessing of she'hakol covers both liquids and solids that will be eaten/drunk at the same snack or meal.
SheHakol: Which Foods: Mistaken SheHakol
She'hakol may theoretically apply to many foods, b'diavad,--even bread, wine, the Five Special Fruits, and mezonotHowever, we have a principle to say the highest-level food blessing possibleIf you said she'hakol, mistakenly believing it was the correct blessing for a higher-level food, she'hakol does cover the food after the fact and, b'di'avad, you may eat the bread, wine, or other higher-level food.
SheHakol: Which Foods: Unrecognizable Foods
You must be able to recognize, from at least one piece, that an ingredient is from the ground or from a tree in order to say borei pri ha'adama or borei pri ha'eitzIf not, say she'hakol.
So say she'hakol on:
  • All foods that did not grow in the ground or on a tree, but also
  • Foods that you cannot personally identify as having grown in the ground or on a tree—either because it has been finely ground or processed or because you personally do not know what it is.
Example Even if you know that a kugel is made with potatoes, unless you can see recognizable pieces of potato, do not say borei pri ha'adama, but rather she'hakol.
Examples (Foods that Get SheHakol)
  • Apple Sauce.
  • Beer, Cognac, Grape Brandy, and other alcoholic beverages other than wine and grape juice and their derivatives.
  • Cheese and other Dairy Products (unless they contain grain).
  • Eggs (plain).
  • Fish.
  • Fruits or vegetables whose identity is not recognizable.
  • Honey.
  • Ice Cream.
  • Juice.
  • Meat.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Poultry.
  • Seaweed.
  • Soda.
  • Soup (clear).
  • Sprouts.
  • Water.
SheHakol: If You Cannot Eat the Food
SheHakol: Said But Cannot Eat
Situation You said the blessing she'hakol, intending to eat some cheese that is in front of you, and then remember that you ate meat shortly before.
What To Do You should not eat any of the cheese but, instead, say Baruch shem kevod malchuto l'olam va'ed.
SheHakol: How Often
SheHakol: Drinking Water Once
Say the she'hakol blessing on water once for the entire day if you:
  • Are hiking or doing other outdoor activities, and
  • Have water with you or know there is water along the way, and
  • Expect to be thirsty again later in the day and will want to drink water.         
SheHakol: Drinking Water Again
Say a new she'hakol blessing if you buy more water along the way while hiking or doing other outdoor activities--even if you said the blessing at the start of your day's activities.
SheHakol: Drinks while in Flight
If you intend to continue drinking during a flight, you may say one blessing on beverages (she'hakol) and continue drinking for the entire flight.
SheHakol: When Not To Say
SheHakol: When Not To Say: Non-Nutritive Foods
Do not say a fore-blessing on chewing gum or bubble gum if it contains no nutritional substances.
SheHakol: Humorous Reminder Poem
SheHakol: Humorous Reminder Poem
If you're in doubt,
And you do not know,
Say she'hakol
Nihiyeh bi'dvaro
Food Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Special Cases
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Food Mixtures
General Rules of Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Food Mixtures
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Food Mixtures: Main Ingredient
  1. Say the fore-blessing (bracha rishona) over the main or most important ingredient in a mixture of foods from various food-blessing categories.
  2. The blessing on the main food covers all other ingredients in the mixture.
Examples Fore-Blessing over Turkey with Cranberry Sauce
To eat turkey with cranberry sauce, saying the fore-blessing she'hakol on the more-important food (turkey) covers the less-important food (cranberry sauce). Even if you eat some of the sauce after the turkey is finished, you do not say a new blessing on the sauce.
Note If you eat cranberry sauce by itself and not with turkey, say:
  • Borei pri ha'eitz if it contains identifiable pieces of (or entire) cranberries.
  • She'hakol if the cranberry sauce has no identifiable pieces.
Fore-Blessing (Bracha Rishona) over Cholent
Cholent blessing (if the cholent is not eaten as part of a meal) follows the most important ingredient and is somewhat subjective to the eater.  
  • German cholent —A variety of wheat is primary; say borei minei mezonot
  • Hungarian cholent—Barley is primary; say borei minei mezonot.
  • Polish cholent —Beans are primary; say borei pri ha'adama.
  • Russian cholent —Potatoes are primary; say borei pri ha'adama.
  • If meat is most important, say she'hakol.     
Note You may need to say more than one blessing (bracha rishona) if there is no one preeminently important ingredient in a mixture of food types in one utensil, such as a casserole or cholent,  but only if:
  • You especially like more than one ingredient, and
  • Both (or more than two) of the ingredients can be eaten distinctly. 
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Food Mixtures: Including Five Grains
Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): Mixtures with Five Grains: Containing Bread/Mezonot
Introduction to Food Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona): The Five Grains
Bread or Mezonot: Intended Use
Whether a food made of the Five Grains qualifies as bread (ha'motzi) or mezonot (borei minei mezonot) depends on whether the food was intended to be eaten as a meal or as a snack, as follows:
  • Bread for a meal: Say ha'motzi.
  • Mezonot (but you will eat a full meal): Say ha'motzi.
  • A snack (including bread as a snack): Say borei minei mezonot.
    Note Some foods may qualify as either ha'motzi or mezonot (such as pizza).
    Note Whether the bread/mezonot was made with fruit juice instead of water may not affect its blessing, since the blessing is determined by the food's intended use. “Mezonot” rolls on airline flights may still require the blessing of ha'motzi if you eat them as part of a meal.
    Note Bread that has been cut into small pieces and fried may be reduced in status from bread to mezonot.
Bread/Mezonot: Amount of Five Grains Needed
In a non-bread food containing a mixture of grains, at least 20% of the main ingredients must be from one of the Five Grains in order to require the fore-blessing (bracha rishona) of borei minei mezonot (after-blessing:al ha'michya).
If at least 20% of a bread's flour is from one of the Five Grains, say a fore-blessing of ha'motzi (and birkat ha'mazon afterward if you ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. within four minutes).
Note If you do not know the actual percent of each grain, such as in cereal, say she'hakol (after-blessing: borei nefashot).  But you should try to determine the actual amounts of the grains.
Bread/Mezonot: Mixtures with Other Foods
Normally, the fore-blessing for bread (ha'motzi), or for other cooked or baked foods made from flour (borei minei mezonot), will override the remaining foods in a food mixture.
Note Bread that has been cut into small pieces and fried may be reduced in status from bread to mezonot.
Examples Saying HaMotzi over Bread Mixture
Wash and say ha'motzi over bread and bread-mixture foods such as French toast, if at least one piece is more than 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) in volume.
If no individual piece is at least 1.3 fl. oz., say borei minei mezonot.
Reason Being fried changes the French toast's status, even if the total of all of the pieces is more than 1.3 fl. oz.
Saying Borei Minei Mezonot over Mezonot Mixture
Say borei minei mezonot over:
  • Cholent whose main ingredient is barley;
  • Ice cream cone (ice cream + cone)—see “ice cream cone” for further details;
  • Pie; and
  • Cheesecake with any kind of crust.
    Note Cheesecakes are sold in bakeries and not in cheese stores, indicating that the mezonot part is more important than the cheese part as regards fore- and after-blessings.
Fore-Blessings: Fruit Mixtures
Fore-Blessings over Fruit Cocktail
For fruit cocktail, say fore-blessings of borei pri ha'eitz (for tree fruits) AND borei pri ha'adama (for pineapple, etc.).
Reason Fruit cocktail does not have a main ingredient.
Fore-Blessings: Mixtures with Rice
Fore-Blessings: Stuffed Grape Leaves
If grape leaves are stuffed with rice, say borei minei mezonot.
Fore-Blessings: Sushi
Say the fore-blessing borei minei mezonot over sushi, since the rice is primary. If you are eating the sushi for the salmon (or other ingredient) in the middle, say she'hakol, too (or whatever blessing is correct for that important ingredient).
Note To say fore-blessings over sushi:
  • Say borei minei mezonot, then take a bite of rice (which may have nori, etc., on it).
  • Say she'hakol, then take a bite of fish (which may have rice, avocado, etc., stuck to it).
Fore-Blessings: Unusual Fruits and Vegetables
Bracha Rishona: Coconut Water
To drink coconut water:
  • Say borei pri ha'eitz if you drink coconut water directly from the coconut.
  • Say she'hakol if you pour the water out of the nut into a utensil.
Bracha Rishona: Fiddleheads
Say borei pri ha'adama on fiddleheads (unfurled fern tops in early spring).
Bracha Rishona: Hydroponic Vegetables
Say she'hakol on hydroponic vegetables, including bean sprouts.
Note If you don't know how the vegetables were grown, you are not required to research the source of the vegetables: you may assume that they are not hydroponic and say the fore-blessing of borei pri ha'adama.
Bracha Rishon: Olives
There is no separate blessing on eating olives with a meal. If you eat olives by themselves (without other food), say borei pri ha'eitz.
Bracha Rishona: Popcorn
Say borei pri ha'adama on popcorn.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona)
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): General Rules
The Five After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona)
The Five After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona)
There are five Bracha Achrona blessings on food:
  • Al HaMichya
  • Al HaGefen
  • Al Ha'Eitz
  • Borei Nefashot
  • Birkat HaMazon.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Levels
Levels of After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona)
Like fore-blessings, say the highest level of after-blessing (bracha achrona) that applies.
Note Although borei nefashot will cover many foods (at least, after the fact), it does NOT cover bread, wine, or mezonot.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Minimum Measurements
Introduction to After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Minimum Measurements
To say any after-blessing/bracha achrona (al ha'michya, al ha'gafen, al ha'eitz, borei nefashot, or birkat ha'mazon), you must:
  • Eat at least the minimum volume (1.3 fl. oz.--39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of solid food within four minutes, or
  • Drink at least 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of liquid within 30 seconds.
Note With hot foods, especially liquids, you are unlikely to be able to swallow a minimum amount in the required time in order to qualify for the after-blessing (bracha achrona).

If Did Not Eat Minimum

Do not say bracha achrona if you did not eat 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml) within four minutes.

If Did Not Drink Minimum

Do not say bracha achrona if you did not drink 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of any potable liquid within 30 seconds. Note You may not combine the volume of solid food to liquid food or liquid food to solid food that you ate and drank in order to make the minimum volume for an after-blessing.

If Did Not Eat or Drink Minimum

Size: How To Calculate

Ounces: Weight or Volume

The minimum quantity for saying after-blessings is based on volume, not weight. If you eat a pack of pretzels whose volume is 1.3 fl. oz., even though the label says it only weighs 0.5 oz., you would say an after-blessing of al ha'michya.

Figuring Volume

Figuring Volume: Non-Mezonot Foods

You may not include the volume of fish or meat or other foods eaten together with bread or matza in order to reach a total volume of 1 fl. oz., which is required for saying the after-blessing of birkat ha'mazon. However, you may combine the volumes in order to say borei nefashot.

Figuring Volume: Unswallowed Pits/Seeds

When eating foods with seeds or pits (olives, pomegranates, etc.), do not include unswallowed seeds or pits to reach the 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) minimum volume needed to say an after-blessing. You may include only what you have swallowed.

D'Oraita Cases

For d'oraita cases (halachot from the Torah), such as eating matza at seder or drinking wine for kiddush, we use a more stringent minimum measure:
  • Eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of solid food within four minutes, or
  • Drink at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) of liquid within 30 seconds.


When To Start Counting

You may start counting the period of four minutes (for eating at least 1.3 fl. oz.) or 30 seconds (for drinking at least 3.3 fl. oz.) any time after the fore-blessing as long as it is continuous from when you first swallow until you have swallowed the minimum amount.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Time Limits
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Time Limits and Satiation Status
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Satiation Status: General Rules
After eating or drinking the required amounts, you may say bracha achrona (including birkat ha'mazon) as long as:
  • You are still satiated after having been hungry and eaten, OR
  • You were not satiated after eating and it is less than 72 minutes since you finished eating.
Reason We say the effects of food last for at least 72 minutes and that 72-minute period overrides becoming hungry again even after having been satiated.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Satiation Status: Hunger Situations
Situation You were hungry.
You ate and were satiated.
You are not yet hungry again.
What To Do You may say bracha achrona without any time limit, until you get hungry again
Situation You were hungry.
You ate but were not satiated.
You are still hungry.
What To Do You may say bracha achrona for up to 72 minutes after having stopped eating.
Situation You were not hungry, but you ate.
What To Do
  • If you ate enough that you became satiated and now you are hungry again:
You can say after-blessing for up to 72 minutes after you finished eating.
  • If you ate enough to be satiated and are not yet hungry again:
    You may say an after-blessing for up to 72 minutes OR until you are hungry again, whichever comes later.
  • If you ate but did not become satiated and are still hungry:
    You can say after-blessing for 72 minutes after you finished eating.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Time Limits and Falling Asleep
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Falling Asleep for more than 30 Minutes
If you fell asleep for more than 30 minutes in the middle of a meal:
Step 1: Wash your hands the Three-Times Method to remove the tum'a of your sleep.
Step 2a: To Continue Eating
To continue eating in this case, since the previous blessings and food are no longer relevant (due to hesech da'at), you may:
  • Wash again and say ha'motzi again, and then say birkat ha'mazon, OR 
  • Eat other items with a fore-blessing and after-blessing (since your previous eating is finished).
Step 2b: If You Are Finished Eating
  • Say birkat ha'mazon if you are:
    • Finished eating, and
    • Not hungry again, after having been satiated at the meal.
  • Do not say birkat ha'mazon if you are
    • Finished eating, and
    • Hungry again (after having been satiated at the meal), as the original snack or meal is irrelevant to any after-blessing now.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Falling Asleep for less than 30 Minutes
If you slept less than 30 minutes, you do not need to wash; you may:
  • Continue eating your meal, or
  • Say birkat ha'mazon (as long as you had already eaten at least 1.9 fl. oz., or 56 ml, of bread within 4 minutes).
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Correspondence with Fore-Blessings (Bracha Rishona)
Correspondence between Fore- and After-Blessings
There is no essential connection between fore-blessings and after-blessings.
Examples Rice
The fore-blessing is borei minei mezonot, so you might expect the after-blessing to be al ha'michya.  But the correct after-blessing is borei nefashot.
The fore-blessing is borei pri ha'eitz, so you might expect the after-blessing to be al ha'eitz.  But the correct after-blessing is borei nefashot.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Incorrect
Correct After-Blessing after Incorrect After-Blessing
Situation You ate or drank mezonot, wine, grape juice, or any of the Five Special Fruits.
You said the incorrect after-blessing.
What To Do You must still say the correct after-blessing after the incorrect one.
Correct After-Blessing after Incorrect Fore-Blessing
Situation You said an incorrect or too-general fore-blessing over food (even she'hakol--which does, b'di'avad, cover all foods, including bread, wine, the Five Special Fruits, and mezonot). Or you forgot to say the fore-blessing.
What To Do You must still say the more-specific, correct after-blessing, including birkat ha'mazon when appropriate.
Reason You must still say the correct after-blessing even though you said the incorrect fore-blessing.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Incomplete
Incomplete After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona)
You must repeat the after-blessing for mezonot, wine/grape juice, or any of the Five Special Fruits if you ate items from more than one of those categories, said the after-blessing for just one of them, and forgot the other. 
Situation You ate mezonot and some figs, said al ha'michya, and forgot to add the words for al ha'eitz.
What To Do You must say the after-blessing al ha'eitz.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Sequential
After-Blessings If Snack, then New Meal
If you said a fore-blessing and ate a snack, but then decided to eat bread and a full meal:
  • If your meal will not contain any foods that have the same after-blessing as your snack--
    • Say the snack's after-blessing, and then
    • Wash your hands and say ha'motzi.
  • If your meal will contain foods with the same fore-blessing as your snack (even the same food as your snack)—
    • Do not say the snack's after-blessing.
    • Wash your hands and say ha'motzi.
Note Wash and say ha'motzi if you will be eating any amount of bread--even less than 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) within four minutes and even if it will take you more than four minutes to eat it (in which case, although you say ha'motzi, you do not say any after-blessing, including birkat ha'mazon).
Note Say al netilat yadayim only if you intend to eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (59 ml) within four minutes.
Exception If you have eaten mezonot (and even if you will not eat any more mezonot with your meal), do not say al ha'michya. Just wash your hands, say ha'motzi, and eat your meal.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Changing Location
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Changing Location: Inside to Outside, Outside to Inside
After-Blessings: Start Meal Inside, Intend To End Outside
You may start a meal inside the house and finish outside, or the reverse, if that was your original intention. If that was not your original intention, consult a rabbi.
After-Blessings: Start Snack Inside, Did Not Intend To End Outside
If you were eating a snack inside a building and had not planned to continue eating outside but then decided to eat outside, you must say a new fore-blessing once you are outside.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Changing Location: Bread or Mezonot
After-Blessings: Changing Location: Continuing To Eat Bread or Mezonot
Because bread or mezonot REQUIRES you to say an after-blessing at the place where you ate it, you are considered to NOT have had an interruption of thought (hesech da'at ) when you move and eat more bread or mezonot at the new place, and you may say the after-blessing at the new place.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Changing Location: Traveling
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Changing Location: Traveling
When traveling, the proper practice is to:
  • Finish eating where you begin eating, or
  • Intend, when saying the fore-blessing, to continue eating while traveling.
ExceptionsEven if you did not intend to continue eating along the way, you may say the after-blessing wherever you are if:
  • You are already involved in doing a mitzva, or
  • If you will incur a large loss of money, or
  • By the time you would return to where you ate, it would be past the latest time to say the after-blessing.
After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Changing Location: Food within View

SituationYou eat one item outdoors, then eat food from another category inside your car, which is within view of where you ate the first food.

What To DoYou may say the after-blessings for both foods while in your car (or both outside of your car), even if it is a food that normally would require you to return to the place at which you ate it.

After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Changing Location: Did Not Intend To Continue Eating
Situation You did not, at the time you said the fore-blessing, intend to continue eating along the way. You then ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread or mezonot within four minutes.
What To Do When you say the after-blessing, you should return to where you began eating. However, if you continued eating mezonot or bread while traveling, you may say the after-blessing in either place.
Note It is the proper practice to say a new fore-blessing (since you did not intend to continue eating along the way when you began eating) in the vehicle in which you are traveling. But even if you did not say a new fore-blessing, you may still say the after-blessing in the vehicle.
After-Blessings: Changing Location: Inside Vehicle, Outside Vehicle, Return
Situation You are traveling (driving, riding in a bus, etc.), and you stop and get out of the vehicle in order to eat part of a meal or snack:
What To Do
  • If, when you said the fore-blessing, you had consciously intended to return to the vehicle and continue eating either along the way or at the next stop, you may say the after-blessing wherever you are when you finish eating.
  • If, when you said the fore-blessing, you had not consciously intended to return to the vehicle and continue eating while traveling, it is assumed that you will continue to eat and you do not need to say a new fore-blessing.
  • If you intended NOT to continue eating in your car or along the way, you need to say a new fore-blessing in the vehicle.
The Five After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona)
I. Al HaMichya
Al HaMichya: Type and Volume of Foods
Al HaMichya: Eating Enough
Say al ha'michya after eating at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of non-bread foods baked from the Five Grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley, or spelt) within four minutes.
Al HaMichya: Eating Enough Pie To Say
Say al ha'michya if you ate a total volume of crust + filling of at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) or more within four minutes--even if the total mezonot-based crust you eat is less than 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup).
Al HaMichya: Or Birkat HaMazon
Say birkat ha'mazon instead of al ha'michya if you ate enough bread-like foods (mezonot) or bread-like food combinations (such as crackers with tuna salad) to be the volume of your normal biggest meal of the day. This is true even if:
  • You had not planned to have a meal (for example, you planned to eat only one slice of pizza but then ate two more), and
  • Did not wash your hands before the meal.
Al HaMichya: Doubt
Al HaMichya: Doubt If You Said
Don't say al ha'michya after eating mezonot if you are not certain whether you said it or not.
Al HaMichya: Doubt If 72 Minutes Have Passed
Situation You ate some mezonot. It might be more than 72 minutes since you finished eating but you are not certain.
What To Do Doubt about a blessing (safek bracha) does not get a blessing.
Note You may not eat one of the Five Special Fruits in order to say the after-blessing of al ha'eitz and include al ha'michya. You could eat fruit and say the al ha'eitz blessing, but you may not include mezonot food in the blessing by adding al ha'michya.
Al HaMichya: Forgetting V'Zachreinu L'Tova
Al HaMichya: Forgetting To Add V'Zachreinu L'Tova
Don't repeat al ha'michya on Rosh Chodesh if you forget to add v'zachreinu l'tova….
II. Al HaGafen
Al HaGafen: Type and Volume of Drink
Al HaGafen: Drinking Enough Wine/Grape Juice To Say After-Blessing
Say al ha'gafen after drinking at least a revi'it (3.3 fl. oz., or 99 ml) of wine (or grape juice) within 30 seconds.
Al HaGafen: Covering SheHakol Drink
If you drank at least 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of grape juice or wine water within 30 seconds and then drank some water or another beverage, saying the after-blessing of al ha'gafen on the wine/grape juice covers the water or other beverage.
Al HaGafen: Which Blessing Ending
Al HaGafen: Al Pri HaGafen or Al Pri Gafna
After drinking wine made from grapes grown in Eretz Yisrael (regardless of where you are physically located when you drink the wine), end the after-blessing with al ha'aretz ve'al pri gafna instead of al ha'aretz ve'al pri ha'gafen.
III. Al Ha'Eitz
Introduction to Al Ha’Eitz
Al Ha'Eitz: Type and Volumes of Fruits
Say the after-blessing of al ha'eitz after eating at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup), within four minutes, of the Five Special Fruits:
  • Olive,
  • Date,
  • Grape,
  • Fig,
  • Pomegranate.
Note The after-blessing of al ha'eitz also covers any non-special fruits that you ate while eating the Five Special Fruits.
Situation You ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) within four minutes of the Five Special Fruits, such as figs, and any amount of non-special fruits, such as walnuts, at about the same time.
What To Do Say:
  • Fore-blessing of borei pri ha'eitz, and
  • After-blessing of al ha'eitz.
Al Ha’Eitz: Figuring Volume
Al Ha'Eitz: Figuring Volume: Eating Special and Non-Special Fruits Sequentially
You may not eat non-special fruits sequentially with or even interspersed with the Five Special Fruits in order to make the minimum volume for saying the after-blessing of al ha'eitz.
Situation You ate a date and then ate the remainder of 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of cherries.
What To Do Say:
  • Fore-blessing of borei pri ha'eitz over the date (and cherries).
  • After-blessing of borei nefashot on all the fruits.
Al Ha'Eitz: Figuring Volume: Eating Special and Non-Special Fruits As a Unit
The volume of special and non-special fruits DO combine for the after-blessing if:
  • They are considered to be one food, AND
  • The main component is the Special Fruit.
Situation You eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) within four minutes of dates stuffed with almonds.
What To Do
Say the after-blessing of al ha'eitz over both types of fruits.
Al Ha'Eitz: Figuring Volume: Eating Special Fruits Mixed with Other Foods
Situation You say borei pri ha'eitz and eat a few olives, but less than 1.3 fl. oz. Then, you say borei pri ha'adama and eat lettuce mixed with enough olives to constitute the minimum volume when combined with the first olives.  You eat them all within four minutes. It is time to say the after-blessing.
What To Do You may not combine all the olives in order to say the after-blessing of al ha'eitz unless the olives remain distinct from the lettuce and you continue to eat them separately.  Say borei nefashot after finishing eating as long as the total food eaten was at least 1.3 fl. oz.
Al Ha'Eitz: Ve'al HaPeirot or Ve'al Peiroteha
Al Ha'Eitz Ve'al HaPeirot or Ve'al Peiroteha
Situation You ate some of the Five Special Fruits and they were grown in Eretz Yisrael.
What To Do End the after-blessing al ha'eitz with al ha'aretz ve'al peiroteha instead of ve'al ha'peirot.
IV. Borei Nefashot
Borei Nefashot: Type and Volume of Foods
Borei Nefashot: Minimum Requirements
Say borei nefashot after:
  • Eating at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of non-mezonot food or non-special fruits within four minutes, OR
  • Drinking at least 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of non-grape juice drinks or wine within 30 seconds.
Borei Nefashot: Special Cases: Popcorn
To say the after-blessing on popcorn, you only need to eat a few popped kernels as long as in the popped state they fill 1 fl. oz. (30 ml).
V. Birkat HaMazon
Birkat HaMazon: Source
Birkat HaMazon: Torah Source
The source of birkat ha'mazon is Deuteronomy/Devarim 8:10:  You will eat and be satiated and bless Hashem, your God, for the good land that He gave you.
Birkat HaMazon D'Rabanan: Rabbinic Source
Although the mitzva d'oraita is to thank God only when you are satiated from the meal, chazal decreed that we say birkat ha'mazon even when eating only the volume of a k'zayit and even if not satiated. So you must still say birkat ha'mazon after eating at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread within four minutes--even if you are not full.  This is known as birkat ha'mazon d'rabanan.
Birkat HaMazon: How Much Food
Eating Enough Bread To Say Birkat HaMazon
Say birkat ha'mazon if you ate a “meal” as defined by halacha—that is, if you ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread made of the Five Grains within four minutes.
Note If you didn't eat the minimal amounts within four minutes, don't say birkat ha'mazon (even if you washed and said ha'motzi).
Eating Enough Mezonot To Say Birkat HaMazon
Say birkat ha'mazon after eating mezonot if it constituted a meal—that is, if you ate:
  • The amount a person would eat for his/her dinner meal, OR
  • Mezonot in addition to other foods that are normally eaten with bread in a quantity sufficient to be a normal dinner meal.
Note In either case, you must eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of mezonot made of the Five Grains within four minutes.
Birkat HaMazon: If You Planned To Eat Minimum Amount of Bread and Did
Regardless of how much bread you plan to eat, if you eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) within four minutes, say birkat ha'mazon.
Birkat HaMazon: If You Planned To Eat Minimum Amount of Bread and Did Not
If you planned to, but did not, eat a full meal:
  • Do not say al ha'michya if you did not eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of foods baked from the Five Grains within four minutes--even if you had washed your hands and said ha'motzi.
  • Do say the appropriate bracha achrona for any other foods of which you ate the minimum (1.3 fl. oz.--39 ml, or 1/6 cup) quantity within four minutes, even though you did not say an individual bracha rishona (since you were planning to
Birkat HaMazon: Time Limit
Birkat HaMazon: Time Limit
For time limits on birkat ha'mazon, see After-Blessings (Bracha Achrona): Time Limits.
Birkat HaMazon: Location
Birkat HaMazon: Location: Switching Seats
You should sit down for birkat ha'mazon, but you do not need to sit in your original seat. You may sit anywhere in the room in which you ate, even at a different table.
Birkat HaMazon: Location: Eating in Two Places--No Prior Intention
  • You said ha'motzi.
  • Ate bread without planning to continue your meal elsewhere.
  • Then changed your mind and wanted to eat at a second place.
What To Do The ideal practice is to:
  • Say birkat ha'mazon where you are, and then
  • Start a new meal--wash, make ha'motzi, and eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup)—of bread in the second place.
B'di'avad, it is OK to say birkat ha'mazon at the second place, but only if you also ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread at the second place (no additional washing or ha'motzi is needed).
Birkat HaMazon: Location: Eating in Two Places--Prior Intention
Say birkat ha'mazon at either place if:
  • You eat in one place, intending to continue your meal in another place, AND
  • You ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread at either place.
Note If you intend to eat only a snack only at the second place, you do not need to say birkat ha'mazon before you go there; you only need to say whichever fore-blessings are required for the foods you will eat there. You must return to the first place to say birkat ha'mazon.
Birkat HaMazon: Mayim Achronim
Mayim Achronim a Custom?
Many people have the custom of using mayim achronim (water to wash hands after a meal). But according to some opinions, to do so is not required by Jewish law.
Note According to most opinions, women do not wash with mayim achronim.
Birkat HaMazon: Mezuman and Minyan
Birkat HaMazon: Reason for Mezuman
Saying birkat ha'mazon with a mezuman (or a minyan) is important since it gives honor to God.
Birkat HaMazon: Seating for Minyan or Mezuman
You may join with other men to make a minyan or mezuman (a mezuman is any group of 3 or more Jewish men 13 years old or older and so a minyan is also a kind of mezuman) for birkat ha'mazon if, while you are eating:
  • You can see any other tables at which the other men are eating, or
  • You had the same waiter as the other men, even if you could not see the rest of the group (such as in an L-shaped room). 
Birkat HaMazon: Eating for Mezuman
Say birkat ha'mazon as a mezuman if:
  • You don't have enough men for a minyan (see above), AND
  • Two men wash, said ha'motzi, and ate bread, AND
  • One or more other men ate any food other than water and salt.
Note If the three men's eating overlapped in time with each other, they MAY say birkat ha'mazon with a mezuman
If the three men began eating at the same time, they MUST say birkat ha'mazon with a mezuman.
Birkat HaMazon: Eating for Minyan
You may say birkat ha'mazon with a minyan if:
  • At least seven men washed, said ha'motzi, and ate bread, with
  • Enough other men who ate some food (anything other than water or salt) to total 10 men.
NoteIf the 10 men's eating overlapped in time with each other, they MAY say birkat ha'mazon with a minyan
If the 10 men began eating at the same time, they MUST say birkat ha'mazon with a minyan.
Birkat HaMazon: Women's Mezuman and Minyan
Women (even if 10 or more) do not make a minyan, only a mezumanSo do not say the birkat ha'mazon's minyan introduction but simply say the mezuman introduction if:
  • 10 or more women ate together, without men present;
  • At least two women washed, said ha'motzi, and ate bread; AND
  • At least one more woman ate some type of food.
Note Women are never required to make a mezuman. So when three women are eating together and no men are present, they may say birkat ha'mazon as a mezuman but they are not required to do so.
Birkat HaMazon: Until When To Join Mezuman
You may join a mezuman by eating any food (except water and salt) up until the leader says “rabotai nevareich.” 
Birkat HaMazon: How To Join Mezuman and Continue Eating
To join a mezuman and continue eating:
1)  Reply to “rabotai nevareich,” etc.,
2)  Say amen after the leader says the first paragraph's final blessing, and then
3)  Finish eating and say birkat ha'mazon on your own.
Birkat HaMazon: How Many Men Needed for Baruch Hu U'Varuch Shemo
Say baruch hu u'varuch shemo before birkat ha'mazon even if only three men are present; you don't need a minyan
Note Only the leader (mezamein) says this, not the other two men.
Birkat HaMazon: Standing Up to Honor God
Stand up a little to honor God when you say God's name in the introduction (nevareich eloheinu) if you ate with 10 men. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Birkat HaMazon: Table
Birkat HaMazon: Knives on Table
Birkat HaMazon: Covering Knife on Shabbat
You do not need to cover or remove a knife on the table before saying birkat ha'mazon on Shabbat.
Birkat HaMazon: Covering Knife on Weekdays
Cover or remove a sharp knife from the table on weekdays before saying birkat ha'mazon.  This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Birkat HaMazon: Bread on Table
Birkat HaMazon: Replacing Bread
Place the bread back onto the table before saying birkat ha'mazon if the bread had been removed during the meal. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Note This is true for any meal, not just for Shabbat.
Birkat HaMazon: When To Repeat
Birkat HaMazon: When To Repeat If Forgot Additions
When saying birkat ha'mazon, you must repeat birkat ha'mazon if you forgot:
  • Retzei on the first two meals of Shabbat.
  • Ya'aleh v'yavo on the first two meals of any Jewish festival day (women only repeat if they forgot it at the Passover seder).
Never repeat birkat ha'mazon if you forgot additions for:
  • Rosh Hashana (during the daytime) or
  • Rosh Chodesh.
Birkat HaMazon: Alternate Wordings
Ba’alat HaBayit HaZeh
Ba'alat HaBayit HaZeh: Woman Head of Household
Say ba'alat ha'bayit ha'zeh if the head of the household is a woman.
Bracha Meruba BaBayit HaZeh
Bracha Meruba BaBayit HaZeh: Inside Jewish Home
Say bracha meruba ba'bayit ha'zeh only when eating in a house or apartment that is occupied by a Jewish family or a Jewish owned public building.
Bracha Meruba BaBayit HaZeh: Outside Jewish Home
If eating outside a Jewish home, including when eating outdoors, say (instead of bracha meruba…):
Ha'rachaman hu yishlach lanu bracha meruba b'halichateinu uv'yeshivateinu ad olam.
Migdol or Magdil
Birkat HaMazon on Musaf Days: Migdol or Magdil
Say migdol (yeshuot) on days when we say musaf (on other days, say magdil).
Birkat HaMazon Once Shabbat Ends: Migdol or Magdil
When saying birkat ha'mazon after Shabbat until halachic midnight (chatzot), say migdol, not magdil.
Note This also applies to birkat ha'mazon after Jewish festivals or Rosh Chodesh--all days when we say musaf.
Ve’al Shulchan Zeh SheAchalnu Alav
Ve'al Shulchan Zeh SheAchalnu Alav When Alone
Say she'achalnu (in the plural) even if you are alone.
Ve'al Shulchan Zeh SheAchalnu Alav If No Table
Skip ve'al shulchan zeh she'achalnu alav if there is no table.
Ya'aleh V'Yavo
If You Forgot Ya'aleh V'Yavo
You forgot to say ya'aleh v'yavo in birkat ha'mazon for a meal that you were required to eat on a Jewish festival.
What to Do
If you have already begun the fourth blessing, you must repeat the entire birkat ha'mazon. If you have not yet said the fourth blessing, you may say a special addition that appears in many siddurim.
Introduction to SheHecheyanu
Introduction to SheHecheyanu: When Obligatory
Say she'hecheyanu for:
  • Acquisitions,
  • Jewish festivals, and
  • New fruits. 
Note You MUST say she'hecheyanu on Jewish festivals; saying she'hecheyanu on acquisitions is subjective and is only required if you enjoy the possession and it is new (for you) and valuable.
HaTov V'HaMeitiv or SheHecheyanu
Say ha'tov v'ha'meitiv instead of she'hecheyanu when two or more people benefit from or enjoy something. 
  • If your wife or husband will enjoy and use the new item too.
  • When wine is already on the table and a second bottle of wine that is as good as, or better than, the first bottle is brought to the table (and more than one person will drink that second bottle of wine).
Note When two or more people are eating a new fruit that is in season, each person says the blessings al pri ha'eitz and then she'hechaynu (and not ha'tov v'hameitiv).
SheHecheyanu: Acquisitions
SheHecheyanu: Acquisitions: Which Items
On What To Say SheHecheyanu
Say she'hecheyanu on any item that you acquire through any of the following means, as long as the item gives you pleasure:
  • Gifts.
  • Purchases you made. 
  • Used items that you acquire.
Note If the item would be desirable or a luxury to other people, but it is not to you, or if it only has value to you as a useful item, do not say she'hecheyanu
NoteFrom Richard Aiken --I said she'hecheyanu on my scuba diving equipment and on my paragliders, the first time I used them.)
Items on Which Women Say SheHecheyanu
Women say she'hecheyanu on:
  • Engagement rings but not on wedding rings.
  • Valuable candlesticks.
Items on Which Men Say SheHecheyanu
Men say she'hecheyanu on a new talit. Do not say she'hecheyanu on tefilin.
SheHecheyanu and Attire
The only items of attire that get a she'hecheyanu blessing are those that are worn for enjoyment or importance.  These are both subjective: If you don't enjoy new clothes, don't say she'hecheyanu over them.
Note She'hecheyanu is not said on shoes.
SheHecheyanu: House or Apartment
Say she'hecheyanu on a house, condominium, apartment, or other accommodation that you buy. Don't say she'hecheyanu on a house or apartment that you are renting.
Note If you are married (or living there with any other family members), say ha'tov v'ha'meitiv instead of she'hecheyanu.
SheHecheyanu: Acquisitions: When To Bless
SheHecheyanu: Acquisitions: When You May Say
You may say she'hecheyanu as long as you still feel the exhilaration of having or using the new item (ideally, say the blessing when you purchase the item or receive it as a gift.).
SheHecheyanu: Acquisitions: When To Bless over New Home
If you buy a house, condominium, apartment, or other accommodation, say she'hecheyanu:
  • When you buy it, if it is ready to move in when you buy it (if you will live there by yourself).
  •  When you move in, if it is not ready to move in when you buy it (if you will live there by yourself). 
Note If you are married, say ha'tov v'ha'meitiv instead of she'hecheyanu.
SheHecheyanu: Jewish Festivals
SheHecheyanu at Candle-Lighting for Jewish Festivals
Say she'hecheyanu when lighting candles for:
  • Both days of Rosh Hashana,
  • Yom Kippur,
  • First day (if in Eretz Yisrael) or first two days of Sukkot,
  • Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah,
  • First day (if in Eretz Yisrael) or both days of Shavuot, and
  • First day (if in Eretz Yisrael) or first two days of Passover.
Note She'hecheyanu is not said on the last day (if in Eretz Yisrael) or last two days of Passover.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: Order of Blessings
Borei Pri Ha'Eitz or SheHecheyanu First
Steps for saying she'hecheyanu on a new fruit:
  • Say borei pri ha'eitz first, then
  • Say she'hecheyanu, then
  • (Cut and) Eat it.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: When To Bless
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: When First in Season
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: When Is First in Season
Say she'hecheyanu when eating a fresh (not dried or frozen) fruit for the first time it appears in the market that season (this does not follow Rosh Hashana or any of the other Jewish “years”).
Note If a fruit is available year round, never say she'hecheyanu over it.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: When Travelling
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: Visiting Place Where Fruit Is Available Year Round
  • You live in an area in which a  fresh fruit is not available all year.
  • You visit a place in which that fruit IS available all year.
What To Do You do not say she'hecheyanu when eating this fruit the new place.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: Visiting Place Where Fruit Is Not Available Year Round
  • You visit a country in which a fresh fruit is not available there year round.
  • You have not eaten this fruit that year (either since the fruit season began there or within the past 12 months).
What To Do You may say she'hecheyanu.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: Import/Export
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: Import/Export
A fruit is available year-round in one place.
That fruit is taken to a place where it is not available.
What To Do
You may say she'hecheyanu on the fruit in that second place.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: Which Types
Varieties of Fruit for SheHecheyanu
If one type of fruit has many varieties--such as navel oranges, Valencia oranges, kumquats, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits-- say she'hecheyanu on each type if the:
  • Trees have different leaves, OR
  • Taste differs from one another (taste must be noticeable to an average person). 
Note Since many fruits are often available year round, it may not be possible to ever say she'hecheyanu on those fruits.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: On Which Forms To Bless
SheHecheyanu: Cooked Fruit
Say she'hecheyanu on cooked fruit in season if that fruit is not normally available all year.  If the fruit is commonly available canned, you may not say she'hecheyanu on it at any time.
SheHecheyanu: Dried Fruit
Do not say she'hecheyanu on dried fruit. 
Note She'hecheyanu may be said on carob while it is still chewy.
SheHecheyanu: Imported Fruit
Do not say she'hecheyanu again if:
  • You already said she'hecheyanu on that type of fruit once during that year,
  • The fruit then stops being available, but
  • Later in the year it becomes available again as an import from another country.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruit with Juice
  • You drink the juice of a fruit that you have not eaten for one year.
  • Later, you will eat the actual fruit,
What To Do Say she'hecheyanu on the fruit (if you would normally be required to do so).
Note Having drunk the juice does not affect the status of the fruit's being new and in season.
Note You do not ever say she'hecheyanu on fruit juice!
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: Two or More
SheHecheyanu for Two or More Fruits
If you eat two new fruits at same sitting, say she'hecheyanu only once.
SheHecheyanu: New Fruits: Might Not Like
SheHecheyanu for New Fruit You Might Not Like
You have a fruit on which you would like to say she'hecheyanu, but you might not like it.
To avoid saying a pointless blessing (bracha l'vatala), you may:
  • Say the blessing borei pri ha'eitz on a different fruit.
  • Eat from the fruit you just blessed over.
  • Taste the new fruit. If you like it—and before you have eaten all of the new fruit—
  • Swallow the small piece you tasted (if you do not like it, you do not need to swallow it).
  • Say she'hecheyanu.
  • Finish eating the new fruit.

NoteWhen saying she'hecheyanu on a new fruit, there is no preference for on which fruit to say borei pri ha'eitz--you may say it on the new fruit or on any other fruit.

The Great Outdoors
Tefilat HaDerech
Tefilat HaDerech: When To Say
Tefilat HaDerech: When To Say: Leaving Your
Say tefilat ha'derech when leaving your “place,” which may be a city, town, village, or even your home if you live in an isolated area. You may only say tefilat ha'derech if you will go at least 2.8 miles outside the inhabited area.
Tefilat HaDerech: When To Say: Starting Journey
If you will certainly leave the city limits at some point in your journey, you may say tefilat ha'derech as soon as you start your journey (when you leave your house or get in your car, etc.). 
Example You may say tefilat ha'derech when leaving your house for a flight, but the optimal time is when the plane begins to taxi.
Tefilat HaDerech: When To Say: City Limits
City limits for tefilat ha'derech means the last house before a gap of 2.8 miles, measured horizontally but not vertically.
Tefilat HaDerech: Boat
Say tefilat ha'derech in a boat that will be going at least 2.8 miles from shore.
Tefilat HaDerech: How Often
Tefilat HaDerech: How Often: Once a Day/Once a Trip
Tefilat HaDerech: How Often: Once a Day/Once a Trip: Vehicles
When riding in a vehicle on a trip, you should say tefilat ha'derech once each day, as long as:
  • You have gone--or will go--at least 2.8 miles past any populated area, and
  • You will be breaking your trip at night.
Note If you will be living in an RV or other vehicle, only say tefilat ha'derech once for the entire trip.
Tefilat HaDerech: How Often: Once a Day/Once a Trip: Boats
If you take a multi-day boat trip, such as a cruise, say tefilat ha'derech only once during the journey—not each day.
Note Any time you stay overnight (on land) along the journey, say tefilat ha'derech again when you resume your travel.
Tefilat HaDerech: What To Say
Tefilat HaDerech: What To Say: Main Blessing
You do not need to say other blessings before tefilat ha'derech. Since tefilat ha'derech begins without a blessing, some people like to say an unrelated blessing before it, but the custom is not to require saying another blessing first.
Tefilat HaDerech: What To Say: For Others
When saying tefilat ha'derech, even if you say it for other people traveling with you, always say “titneini” (in the singular) and not “titneinu” (plural).
Note This is different from most blessings, which are in the plural even when said by just one person for him/herself.
Tefilat HaDerech: What To Say: Phrases (Psukim)
After saying the main blessing of tefilat ha'derech, some people have the custom to say these phrases (psukim) three times each:
  • L'shuatcha kiviti...
  • V'ya'akov halach l'darko...
  • Yivarechecha...
  • Hinei anochi sholei'ach lifanecha...
Al Netilat Yadayim or Al Tevilat Yadayim
Al Netilat Yadayim or Al Tevilat Yadayim: Water Fit or Not Fit
Say al netilat yadayim even if you wash your hands by immersing them in a river, ocean, or other natural body of water.
Note Say al tevilat yadayim if the water is not fit for netilat yadayim (if it smells bad, is salty, a dog would not drink it, etc.). This applies to washing before bread, after sleeping, etc.
Blessings: Scents
Blessings: Scents: When To Say
Say the blessing if you intend to smell something fragrant; you may, but do not need to, say a blessing if you smell a scent in passing.  If you are outdoors and a pleasant scent of flowers comes to you, even if you did not intend to smell the flowers, as long as you enjoy the scent, you may still say the appropriate blessing.
Blessings: Scents: The Four Blessings
Choose the correct smell blessing (Note that these blessings are not said on synthetic scents!): 
  • Borei minei vesamim Generic; this is the default blessing if you are not certain which category applies; also say this when smelling a mixture of scents;
  • Borei isvei vesamim  Plants which do not have stiff stems;
  • Borei atzei vesamim  Trees and stiff-stemmed plants (such as roses); and
  • Ha'notein rei'ach tov ba'peirot  Fragrant fruits, such as lemons and some etrogs.
Blessings: Scents: Minimum Scent
The minimum intensity of scent required to be permitted to say a scent blessing is anything you can smell and that you find pleasant.
Blessings: Scents: Sniffing First
Situation You see a flower but do not know whether it has a scent.
What To Do You may sniff the flower and, if it does have a nice scent, you may then say borei minei (or atzei or isvei as appropriate) vesamim and then take a big whiff.
Blessings: Scents: All Scents in that Category
Situation You are visiting a botanical garden or an outdoor area at which you will see many flowers and blossoms.
What To Do You may say the appropriate blessings on pleasant smells once for each category and intend for the blessing to apply to all flowers and blossoms you will smell during that day.
Blessings: Scents: Hesech Da'at
If you say borei isvei vesamim or borei atzei vesamim, you should say the blessing again once you have had a lapse of thought (hesech da'at); that is, once you have stopped thinking about smelling fragrances at that time.
HaGomel: For Which Events
After What To Say HaGomel
Say ha'gomel after:
  • Crossing the ocean (far enough away that you cannot see the shore);
  • Crossing a desert by any means except flying;
  • Getting out of jail; or
  • Recovering from a serious illness.  
In addition, say ha'gomel anytime a catastrophe has been avoided, such as a vehicle crash. Consult a competent halachic authority in these cases.
HaGomel: When To Say
Saying HaGomel within 30 Days
Say ha'gomel within three days of the event; b'di'avad, it is OK to say it within 30 days.
Say HaGomel When You Can Walk Normally
You may say ha'gomel after recovering from a serious illness once you are able to walk around normally.
HaGomel: For Whom To Say
For Whom To Say HaGomel
Don't say ha'gomel for anyone other than yourself (not even for your spouse or children). Likewise, one person may not exempt the entire congregation for ha'gomel except b'di'avad.  But when an entire congregation says ha'gomel, use “gemalanu.”
HaGomel: Women
Women and HaGomel
Women customarily do not say ha'gomel. A woman does not say ha'gomel after childbirth.
Blessings: Natural Phenomena
Blessings: Comets
Blessings: Comets: How Often
Say oseh ma'aseh v'reishit only once per comet.
Blessings: Earthquakes
Blessings: Earthquakes: Cycle of Earthquakes
Say she'kocho u'gvurato malei olam or oseh ma'aseh v'reishit (either is correct) once per earthquake. Don't say the blessing on aftershocks.
Note One cycle of quakes and aftershocks is still considered just one earthquake, even if it lasts more than one day.
Blessing: Eclipses
Blessings: Eclipses: Solar and Lunar Eclipses
There is no blessing for eclipses.
Blessings: Meteors
Blessings: Meteors: How Often
Say oseh ma'aseh v'reishit once per night.
Blessings: Mountains
Blessings: Mountains Renown for Their Height
Say oseh ma'aseh v'reishit once per month on mountains, but only on very large mountains that are famous for their height and that you have not seen within 30 days.  
Blessings: Oceans
Say she'asa et ha'yam ha'gadol when you can see an ocean or the Mediterranean sea, but only:
  • While you are present, and
  • After not having seen it for at least 30 days.
Note If you forgot to say it and returned the next day, you may not say the blessing.
Blessings: Rainbows
Blessings: Rainbows: Looking and Blessing
The blessing over rainbows is zocheir ha'brit v'ne'eman bi'vrito, v'kayam b'ma'amaro
Note You may not gaze at a rainbow, but you may look at it for up to 2.5 seconds, then look away, and then look back repeatedly an unlimited number of times.

NOTEDon't tell other people that a rainbow is visible. But if they see you looking or hear you saying the blessing, you may tell them that there is a rainbow and you may tell them the correct blessing to say.

Blessings: Storms
Blessings: Thunder
Say the blessing she'kocho u'gvurato malei olam if you hear thunder. (See Blessings: Thunder/Lightning: Which First)
Blessings: Lightning
Start saying the blessing oseh ma'aseh v'reishit within 2 ½ seconds of seeing a lightning flash; otherwise, do not say the blessing at all.
Note You do not need to see the actual lightning bolt--you must just see the light from lightning, even if reflected from something. 
Note The lightning must be from a rainstorm, but you may say the blessing on lightning even if it is not raining where you are, as long as you can hear thunder first. (See Blessings: Thunder/Lightning: Which First and Blessings: Thunder/Lightning: How Often)
Blessings: Thunder/Lightning: Which First
Always say she'kocho u'gvurato malei olam (on thunder) before oseh ma'aseh v'reishit (on lightning.) 
If you see lighting but don't hear thunder, do not say oseh ma'aseh v'reishit at all.
Blessings: Thunder/Lightning: How Often
Say she'kocho u'gvurato malei olam (on thunder) and oseh ma'aseh v'reishit (on lightning) only once per storm. If you hear thunder over telephone or microphone, you may not say kocho u'gvurato.
Note If the storm clouds clear and another storm comes along, you may say blessings again, even on the same day.
Kiddush Levana
Introduction to Kiddush Levana
Introduction to Kiddush Levana: Thanksgiving
Kiddush levana expresses our thanks to God for having made the moon, which affects our lives (tides, weather, crops, biological clocks) and provides us benefits in many ways (light at night, basis for determining our calendar and our holidays).
Kiddush Levana: What To See
Kiddush Levana: What To See: How Clear the Moon
You do not need to see the moon completely clearly in order to say kiddush levana, but you must be able to see the outline of the moon.
Kiddush Levana: When To Say
Kiddush Levana: When To Say: Molad
Although the traditional time to say kiddush levana is after Shabbat, you may say kiddush levana from the third day (three periods of 24 hours) after the molad until 14 days and 18 hours after the molad.  Ideal is after seven 24-hour periods.
Kiddush Levana: When To Say: Custom not To Say
It is customary not to say kiddush levana:
  • During the Nine Days before and including Tish'a b'Av;
  • On Friday night, and
  • On the evening of a Jewish festival.
Many people also have the custom not to say kiddush levana during the first 10 days of Tishrei.
However, you should do so if you do not expect to see the moon on any other night (due to weather or other factors), rather than miss the chance to say it that month. If you do say kiddush levana on Friday night or the after nightfall of a Jewish festival, say only the blessing, not the Psalms and other phrases that are normally said.
Kiddush Levana: When To Say: Night
You may say kiddush levana (blessing on the new moon) only at night, after dark/tzeit ha'kochavim.
Kiddush Levana: When To Say: When No Dark
At the high latitudes, you may say kiddush levana during any season when the sky gets dark but not during seasons when the sky does not get dark.
Kiddush Levana: When To Say: Shabbat
You may say kiddush levana on Shabbat, if needed.
  • Shabbat is the last possible night that month to say kiddush levana.
  • The forecast is for clouds for the other nights until it will be too late that month to say kiddush levana.
Note On Shabbat, say only the blessing of kiddush levana, not the psalms or other phrases (psukim).
Kiddush Levana: Who Says
Kiddush Levana: Minyan
You do not need a minyan to say kiddush levana.
Kiddush Levana: Women
Women do not say kiddush levana.
Kiddush Levana: What To Say
Kiddush Levana: Minimum Blessing
The minimum you may say of kiddush levana and fulfill the mitzva is the blessing. The psalms and other psukim are customary but are not required.
Asher Yatzar
Asher Yatzar: Minimum
The minimum amount to urinate or defecate and be able to say asher yatzar is any quantity (kolshehu).
Asher Yatzar: Timing
If you did not say asher yatzar immediately after finishing, you may still say the blessing until the next time you feel the need to urinate or defecate.
Asher Yatzar with No Water
Say asher yatzar, even when you cannot wash your hands, such as when you do not have any water with you.
Note In any case, your hands must be clean; if they are not, you must wipe them off on something before saying the blessing.
Asher Yatzar: Saying for Someone Else
You may say asher yatzar for someone else if you need to say it also.
Asher Yatzar or After-Blessing
If you are eating and stopped to use the toilet, you may say either asher yatzar or the after-blessing on the food first.
Asher Yatzar Underwater
After urinating while scuba diving, say asher yatzar. The water is sufficient as a head covering or, better, you may cover your head with your wetsuit sleeve.
Blessing the Children/Birkat HaBanim
Introduction to Blessing the Children/Birkat HaBanim
The Blessing for the Children has two parts:
  1. Introduction
    For Boys: “Yesimcha Elohim k'Efraim v'chi'Menashe
    (May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe)

    For Girls: “Yesimeich Elohim k'Sara, Rivka, Rachel, v'Leah” 
    (May God make you like Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah)
    Note The formula asks God to make the boys like Ephraim and Menashe but to make the girls like Sarah, Rivka/Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. We might think that Sara, Rivka/Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah should be paired with their husbands, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob instead of with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Yet, while Isaac and Jacob had the advantage of growing up in religious homes and in Eretz Yisrael, all of the fore-mothers as well as Ephraim and Menashe lived righteous lives even though all grew up in bad environments outside of Eretz Yisrael.
  2. Priestly Blessing/Birkat Cohanim (Numbers/Bamidbar 6:24-26)
    This is the blessing that the priests (cohanim) use when blessing the Jewish people.  For words to the blessing, please click here and scroll down to "Birkat Cohanim": http://practicalhalacha.com/blessings#B.
Blessing the Children: When To Bless
Bless children on:
  • Friday night,
  • Saturday night (this is so we start the new week with a blessing), and
  • Jewish festival nights.
Note This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Blessing the Children: Who Should Bless
Who should bless the children:
  • Anyone may bless children, but it is best for both parents to do so.
  • Parents may ask any other adult to be their emissary to bless their children. 
Blessing the Children: How To Bless: How To Place Hands
You may use one or two hands when giving a blessing, such as when blessing children on Shabbat or Jewish festivals. You may hold your hands over the person's head or actually put your hands on their head--either is OK.
Blessing the Children: How To Bless: From Afar
Parents may bless their children by telephone if not nearby. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Introduction to Brit Mila
Introduction to Brit Mila
Avraham was commanded to circumcise himself and all males in his household. From then on, all healthy Jewish males were to be circumcised when they reached 8 days old.
If there is any question about the baby's health, the circumcision is delayed or, in rare cases, not done at all.
The primary obligation to do the circumcision is on the boy's father. Since most people are not skilled surgeons, the actual cutting is usually done by a highly trained expert, called a mohel, who is appointed by the father. A festive meal is eaten after the circumcision.  A minyan is preferred, but not required, for a brit mila.
Brit Mila Scheduling
Brit Mila: Which Day
Brit Mila: Eighth Day
Brit Mila: When Is Eighth Day
As long as the boy was born before sunset (even one minute before), this time period counts as the first day.  Normally, the brit mila will be performed on the following week on that same day of the week (the baby's eighth day). If the baby was born between sunset and dark, consult a rabbi or mohel.
Brit Mila: Delays
Brit Mila: Delays: Health
Brit Mila: Delays: Health: Doctor and Mohel
The brit mila may be done only if the baby is healthy by the opinions of both a doctor and a mohel. If either says not to do the brit mila, don't.
Note Even if the doctor says the baby is healthy, ask the mohel for his opinion since the mohel can still veto.
Brit Mila: Delays: Shabbat/Jewish Festivals
Brit Mila: Delays: Shabbat/Jewish Festivals: Special Births
Situation A baby boy is born by caesarean section. The eighth day after the birth is Shabbat or a Jewish festival.

What To Do The brit mila must be delayed to at least the next day following that Shabbat or Jewish festival. (If the mohel or doctor says the baby is not healthy enough for a brit, the brit must be delayed even more.)
Brit Mila: Delays: Caesarean Birth
Brit Mila: Delays: Caesarean Birth
Do not delay a Shabbat brit mila until Sunday in order to prevent Jews who do not keep Shabbat from driving or otherwise desecrating Shabbat to attend the brit.
Brit Mila: What Time
Brit Mila: Time of Day
The brit mila may be done anytime from sunrise to sunset, but the preferred time is in the morning.
Note Brit mila may only be done during the daytime.
Brit Mila: Hatafat Dam
Brit Mila: Hatafat Dam
For a boy who requires an operation six months later (or more) to repair an anomalous condition such as hypospadias or webbing--if the hospital will allow a mohel "hands-on" participation, then the brit mila is done at the time of the operation. 
If not, after the child heals, a hatafat dam brit mila should be performed.
Brit Mila: Who Should Perform
Brit Mila: Who Should Perform: Preference
A father should circumcise his male children (if he knows how to do to the circumcision!) or appoint someone to do so. Order of preference for who should do the circumcision, if competent:
  • Father
  • Other shomer-Shabbat male
  • Shomer-Shabbat woman (if no male is available).
Note A father (or anyone else) may not perform the brit mila--even just the incision--on Shabbat if it is his first time.
Note A non-Jew may not perform a brit mila.
Note If a child was circumcised in the hospital or by anyone who is not shomer Shabbat, consult a rabbi.
Brit Mila: Sandak
Brit Mila: Choice of Sandak
Choose the greatest Jewish scholar (talmid chacham) in your town or city as sandak (person who holds the baby for the brit mila), since kabbala says it is a good omen for the boy's soul. A woman may be a sandeket but only if no suitable man is available.  If no Jewish man or woman is available, a non-Jewish person may serve as a sandak or sandeket.
Brit Mila: How To Do
Brit Mila: How To Do: Metzitza
When doing a circumcision, metzitza (sucking out some blood) is required.  Metzitza may be done using a pipette or other tube, but the traditional way is by mouth.
Note Using a gauze pad for metzitza is not traditionally done.
Brit Mila: Amount of Metzitza Blood
There is no minimum amount of blood to draw out for metzitza: any quantity suffices.
Brit Mila: Invitation
Brit Mila: Announcement or Invitation
Don't formally invite people to a brit mila meal, just announce it.
Reason If you invite people and they don't come, they are disrespecting the chance to participate in a mitzva.  
Brit Mila: Naming the Baby
Brit Mila: Naming a Baby after Someone
You are not halachically required to name the baby after a particular person. The custom is that a baby is not named after its living parent.
Brit Mila: Festive Meal
Brit Mila Meal: Minimum Requirement
A se'udat mitzva is required for a brit mila, but the brit mila is still valid even if no meal is held. The minimum requirement for the meal is to eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread within four minutes.
Brit Mila: Fast Day
If a brit mila is performed on Tish'a b'Av or other fast days, the meal (se'udat mitzva) is held after the fast ends. On a delayed fast day, the sandak, mohel, and father of the boy who is having the brit may eat after mincha.
Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Introduction to Charity/Tzedaka
Introduction to Charity/Tzedaka
The Torah requires everyone to give charity (tzedaka), and even people who are so poor that they receive charity must also give something to charity. The giving of charity engenders consideration for people who have less than we do.
General Charity/Tzedaka
Charity/Tzedaka: How Much To Give
Charity/Tzedaka: Normal Donation
Charity at 10% After Taxes
You must give 10% of your net, after-tax income or received gifts of money to charity (ma'aser kesafim), by rabbinic enactment. For what is considered income, see Charity/Tzedaka: On What To Give.
Charity/Tzedaka: Maximum Donation
Charity at 20% After Taxes
You should not give more than 20% of after-tax income to charity for poor people.
Note This rule is intended only for average people. If you have more money than you need, you may give away more than 20%.
No Charity Limit for Jewish Education
There is no limit to how much “charity” you may give to Torah institutions. 
Note You may give more than 20% after taxes for Jewish education because it is considered an investment that benefits the donor--the donor shares in the reward that the student gets for studying Torah--rather than charity.
Charity/Tzedaka: Donation If Poor
Charity When Not Required
Even if you do not have enough income to be required to give to charity, you MAY give small amounts of money anyway. RMH suggests not giving more than 0.5\% of your liquid assets.
Charity/Tzedaka: On What To Give
Introduction To Charity/Tzedaka: On What to Give
Give charity on 10% of your net, after-tax income or received gifts of money (cash, checks, or equivalent).
Items or Material Gifts
If you receive or inherit items or material gifts that you use, you do not need to give charity from their value. If the items or material gifts were intended for sale and you sold them, give to charity 10% of the money you receive.
Trusts, Funds, and Securities

A trust or other inherited or gifted fund does not pay charity on money it receives or earns. Only the recipients give charity, when get they get any money.
If the trusts or funds are intended for sale and you sold them, pay 10% on the value you received to charity.
You do pay 10% on inherited or gifted securities once you have inherited them, even if you do not intend to sell them. If you do not have enough cash to give 10% of the securities' value, you should sell 10% and give that money to charity. The remaining securities do not incur a requirement of owing charity, whether they increase or decrease in value in the future.
Heir: Charity on Money or Property for Sale
You must give to charity 10% of the value of an inheritance or gift of:
  • Money, and
  • Property, including a building or house, that you to sell (but not if you will keep or use it for yourself, such as to live in). If you do not have enough cash to pay 10% of the building's value, you may pay it off over time.
Note If  you inherit (or will inherit) from a person who died, you are required to pay for (or help pay for) the dead person's burial. You may not deduct this money for burial or funeral expenses from your ma'aser charity.
Charity/Tzedaka: What To Give
Buying Seforim To Pay Charity/Tzedaka
You may use tzedaka (ma'aser) money to buy seforim. Because the books then become public property, you must write in the books that they are ma'aser and anyone may use them. You may only do this if other people who are not in your family will also use them. 
Note You may only use tzedaka (ma'aser) money to buy seforim that are not commonly found in Jewish homes; you may not use this money to buy a siddur, chumash, or Talmud.
Jewish Education Tuition as Charity
Parents may consider as charity any money they spend on the Jewish education of children age 16 and up.  If a child goes to a college and takes secular and Jewish classes, the parent may count any tuition for the Jewish classes as charity.
Charity/Tzedaka: How To Divide
How To Divide Charity Donation
A good split of the total amount to give to charity is:
  • 1/3 for Jewish education,
  • 1/3 for poor people, and
  • 1/3 for humanitarian purposes such as a hospital, mikva, synagogue, or Jewish outreach/kiruv.
Charity to Local Jewish Causes
When giving charity, you should give at least 51% of your donations to local Jewish charities, if there are any that need support. After that, donations to Israel have priority over donations to other locations.
Situation You have residences in more than one place (for example, you were assigned to work in a new place for a few years) and you need to know which location is to be considered your home for giving charity locally:
  1. If you kept your first residence and intend to return to it, even after a few years, that remains your halachic home for this purpose (even if you rent out that house to someone else).
  2. If you do not intend to return to your first residence and you moved to a second city where you earn money, give money to charities in that second city.
  3. If you made an investment while in that second city and received profits from it while living in a third city, donate to charities in that third city.
  4. If you donated to a foundation while in the second city but the funds were not distributed until you were in the third city, donate to charities in the third city.
Exception If you purchased an investment with money that you were supposed to give to charity, your donation should go to where you were when you earned the money from which you owed the charity.
Charity/Tzedaka: Who Should Give
One Who Receives Charity, Gives Charity
A person who receives charity should still give a minimal amount to charity. Doing so gives him or her the benefit of the mitzva of giving charity and serves as an example to his or her children (who should be made aware that the parents are giving money to charity).
Charity/Tzedaka: To Whom
Charity/Tzedaka: To Whom

Charity/Tzedaka: To Whom: General Rules

Charity: Family First

Give charity first to family; then to your local or nearby community. Only then may you give to remote communities, especially if the remote communities are in Eretz Yisrael.

Who Qualifies To Receive Charity

A person may receive charity if he or she has so little money that he or she must worry about having sufficient funds to buy a non-luxury item.

An institution is needy if it does not have enough money for basic needs (repairing buildings, maintenance, utilities...).

There is no need to donate to people or institutions if their basic needs are covered.

Charity/Tzedaka: To Whom: Beggars

Charity to a Jewish Beggar for Himself

If a Jewish beggar asks for money for him/herself, and you know him/her to be needy, you should at least give something, but it does not need to be much.

Charity to a Beggar for Jewish Institution

If a beggar asks for money for a Jewish institution, you do not need to give.

Charity/Tzedaka: Assumed Beggar at Door

If someone knocks on your door and you assume that he or she is a beggar, you do not need to answer the door.

Charity/Tzedaka: To Whom: Purim

Charity on Purim

On Purim, give money to anyone who asks.
Note If for an institution, you are not required to give.

Charity/Tzedaka: To Whom: Poor Brides/Hachnasat Kalla

Charity/Tzedaka: Poor Brides (Hachnasat Kalla): How Much

Hachnasat kalla means helping a poor woman pay the expenses to hold a wedding and set up a household for married life. The minimum required is enough so that she is not embarrassed. It does not include paying for an opulent wedding. There is not any absolute amount of money that you should give per guest and even the quality of the food, decorations, and any entertainment are dependent on the individual.

Hachnasat Kalla for Women and Men

Hachnasat kallaalso applies to a poor man who needs money to pay the expenses to get married.

Charity/Tzedaka: To Whom: Non-Sectarian Causes

Non-Sectarian Causes and Ma'aser

You may give small amounts of money or goods to a non-sectarian charity (hospital, school, etc., that is not affiliated with any religion other than Judaism) and it will count as part of your charity (ma'aser). You may give large amounts of money to non-sectarian charities, but you should not count it as part of your ma'aser.
Note A small amount of money is whatever is common in your area as a minimal amount to give to a person or charity.
Charity/Tzedaka: From Whom To Take
Charity from a Woman
A person may receive charity from a woman:
  • From a single woman: any amount.
  • From a married woman: a small amount; a large amount only if her husband agrees.
Charity/Tzedaka: When To Give
Charity/Tzedaka: By When To Give
Charity/Tzedaka Should Be Paid by Third Jewish Festival
Charity/tzedaka should be paid by the third Jewish festival (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot) after the money is received.
Charity/Tzedaka: How Often To Give
Charity Daily on Weekdays
You should give charity daily (except Shabbat and Jewish festivals) at the time of prayer.
Giving Charity Less, More Frequently
You should give charity frequently, even if that means giving smaller amounts at each giving.
Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Introduction to Death and Mourning
Introduction to Death and Mourning
When we hear of a death, we say Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet to acknowledge that even though we are unhappy about a person's dying, we recognize that it is part of God's operation of the world.
Close to Death
Changing Sick Person's Name
Changing Sick Person's Hebrew Name
When a person is very ill and is younger than expected to have a deadly illness, the person may change his or her Hebrew name.
  • If he or she lives (in health, such as able to walk around outside) for at least 30 days after changing his or her name, the person should keep that name (and if the person dies, that changed name should go on the tombstone).
  • If the person dies in less than 30 days, the person's original name reverts to being the valid name.
A very sick person who might die soon should say a special confession (vidui). It is not a problem to say it multiple times during one's life.
Note If the person cannot say vidui, someone else says it for the person.
Preparation of Body
Chevra Kadisha
Chevra Kadisha for Males and Females
There is a “holy society” (chevra kadisha) for males and a separate one for females.
Cleaning before Tahara
Any blood should be wiped up and the cloth should be buried with the body.
Wet Cloth and Soap
The body is cleaned with a wet cloth and soap (if necessary).
No Tahara
A dead body that bleeds a lot, such as after being shot or in a car crash, does not get purification (tahara) by water.
Three Buckets of Water
A ritual purification is performed (“tahara”) by pouring three buckets of water over the body:
The body is stood up and water is poured from the head over the body. The subsequent buckets are poured before the previous ones are empty, so that the water from the subsequent bucket overlaps the water from the previous one.
Certain lines from the Torah (psukim) are said during the purification.
Shrouds, Hat, Robe
The body—whether male or female--is wrapped in shrouds: shirt, pants, socks (or long pants with the feet sewn up), hat (women who covered their hair while alive get two hats), and robe (kittel) on top of all. The hat covers the face.
An adult male is wrapped in a talit but one of the tzitziyot is made invalid/pasul.
Child's Dressing
A child under bar mitzva or bat mitzva age also gets dressed the same way as an adult, except if less than 7 years old (consult a rabbi in that case).
Egg and Wine for Face of Dead Person
Some people have the custom of putting egg and wine on the face of a dead person, but this is not halacha.
Arms on Sides, Hands Open
The body is placed lying on its back, with arms on the sides and hands open. 
Note on Christian Hospitals
In many Christian hospitals, as soon as a person dies, the arms are put in the shape of a cross.  After rigor mortis, it is very difficult to move the arms, so if the arms were crossed, they should be uncrossed as soon as possible.
Feet First
The body is removed from the building feet first. (This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.)
In the Presence of the Body
Lighted Candle Near Head of Dead Person
It is customary to place a lighted candle near the head of a dead person.
Put Dead Body on Floor
It is customary to put a dead body on the floor, if possible.
Shomer To Honor Dead Person
A “watcher” (shomer) should stay with a dead body at all times until the burial, if possible, to honor the dead person. The watcher should be close enough to be able to see the body. A non-Jew may be a watcher, but only b'di'avad.
Note If the body is being shipped somewhere, it is preferable that a shomer stay with the body, but it is not required.
Shomer for Several Days
When a person dies on Shabbat or a Jewish festival, a watcher (shomer) should still be present until burial, even if there will be a delay of several days.
Woman Shomeret
A woman may be a watcher (shomeret) for a dead person.
Note Either gender may watch the other, but the custom is to have the same gender where possible.
Eating in Room with Body
Don't eat in a room in which there is a dead body.
From Funeral Home to Cemetery
Offspring at Funeral

Attending a funeral is a mitzva--that of honoring the dead person--but in attending a parent's funeral, there is the added mitzva of honoring a parent.

Adult (at least bar mitzva or bat mitzva) offspring should attend their parent's funeral, unless there is a financial, health, or other significant reason not to attend. There is no requirement for minor offspring to attend a funeral for a parent. RMH recommends consulting a rabbi before having a minor go to any funeral, including for the child's parent.

NoteIf both parents are still alive, it is not customary to go to the cemetery for any funeral except for a close relative, but it is a mitzva to attend the eulogies and ceremony beforehand.

Accompanying the Body: Jerusalem
In Jerusalem, charedim do not allow sons of a dead father to attend their father's funeral (from the funeral home to the cemetery).
Burial: Where
Burial: Jewish Cemetery
Jews Buried with Jews
Jews should be buried with Jews. It is permitted to disinter a body from a non-Jewish cemetery for reburial into a Jewish cemetery.
Non-Jew Not Buried in Jewish Cemetery
A non-Jew (including a non-Jewish spouse of a Jew) may not be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Someone who commits suicide may not be buried within 8 amot of other Jews in a Jewish cemetery. If the person had emotional problems, consult a rabbi.

Burial: Eretz Yisrael
Burial: Eretz Yisrael If Did Not Live There
You should not be buried in Eretz Yisrael if you could have lived in Eretz Yisrael but chose not to. If you could not live there or if you had a heter to not live there, it is OK to be buried there.
Note The reason to be buried in Eretz Yisrael is for Resurrection of the Dead (techiyat ha'meitim), which will only happen in Eretz Yisrael.  But the entire world will eventually become Eretz Yisrael, so it is only an issue of time.
Burial: Near Offspring
Children Visiting Cemetery
It is considered comforting to the parent's soul for children to visit the cemetery.  So proximity to children may be a factor in choosing where to be buried (but who knows where offspring will end up living?).
Burial: When
Same-Day or Delayed Burial
A body should be buried the same day as death occurs or as soon as possible afterward, but the burial may be delayed to allow relatives to arrive or for a body to be taken to Eretz Yisrael for burial.
Burial: Coffin
Coffin Material
The coffin should be plain wood (usually pine) without any adornments or fancy features.  It has holes in it.
Burial: Specifics
The pall-bearers usually pause seven times on their walk to the grave.  On days when no tachanun is said, they walk directly to the grave without pausing.
Who Shovels
It is a mitzva but not a requirement for attendees to shovel some earth into the grave. Women should only do this if no men are present.
How To Shovel
Do not hand the shovel from person to person. Rather, stick the shovel in the ground.  The next person takes it out, shovels some dirt, and sticks it back in the ground.
Depth of Coffin
The coffin should be buried with at least 12 inches of dirt above it.
Burial: Kaddish
Burial: Kaddish: Version of Kaddish

Kaddish is recited near the grave but at least 4 amot (7 feet) away from the nearest grave:  

  • If the son of the dead person is present and the burial occurred on a day when tachanun is normally said, the version of kaddish recited is the same as for a siyum (celebration of completing studying part of mishnayot or other holy books).
  • If there is no son of the dead person present or if it is not a day when tachanun is said, then the version of kaddish recited is the normal mourner's kaddish.
Burial: Kaddish: Having Minyan
It is important, but not critical, to have a minyan at the gravesite so the mourner will be able to say kaddish.
Burial: Kaddish: Attending Minyan
It is a mitzva to attend the minyan at a burial, but no one needs to interrupt his day in order to do so.
Burial: Leaving
Walking between Rows
All non-mourners stand in two rows on the way back from the grave.  The mourners walk between the rows and are greeted with this phrase:
 Ha'makom yinachem etchem b'toch she'ar aveilei tzion v'yerushalayim.
Then, the mourners remove any shoes which contain leather from their feet before walking between the rows of people. (Take other non-leather shoes to the cemetery so they can switch into them after the burial).
Stepping on Graves
For rules on how to treat graves, see Graves: Stepping on.
"Three-Times" Hand Washing
After leaving the cemetery, wash hands using the Three-Times Method without a blessing; see How To Wash Hands Using the Three-Times Method. You can take a container of water with you in your car.
Introduction to Mourning
Introduction to Mourning

Who Is a Mourner

A mourner is defined in halacha as someone mourning during the 12-month mourning period for parents or the 30-day mourning period for the other five relatives (spouse, brother, sister, son, daughter). After 30 days, one is no longer a mourner for anyone but one's parents.

Mourners' Restrictions

If the mourner goes about business as usual, it may show he or she doesn't care about the close relative who died. The mourner should ideally not want to do these things. The mourner honors the dead person by refraining from pampering him/herself and refraining from going about his or her life as usual.

Public Meals

A mourner may not attend a public meal for any purpose. For example, if the mourner attends a lecture or Torah class at which food is being served, he or she may not eat the food. This only applies to sit-down meals; snacking is permitted.

Siyum/Brit/Bar Mitzva

After 30 days after a parent's burial, a mourner may:

  • Attend a siyum or bar mitzva and eat there.
  • Attend a brit but not eat there.
Note If there is music (live or recorded), the mourner must leave.


A mourner may not eat at a wedding and may not even be in the wedding hall after the ceremony took. The mourner may also not hear the music at a wedding.

  • If the mourner is the parent of someone getting married, the mourner can fully participate in the wedding.
  • If the mourner is the bride or groom, he or she must normally wait to get married until after shloshim/30 days.
Note If it is after shiva, but still during shloshim, consult a rabbi.

Kiddush and Shabbat or Festival Meals

A mourner may not publicly (noticeably) mourn on Shabbat or festivals so he or she may attend Shabbat or festival meals and kiddushes if he or she would be expected to attend. If the mourner always or routinely invites some person or a lot of different people on Shabbat or festivals, it is still permitted. If the mourner does not routinely invite some person or a lot of different people to a Shabbat or festival meal, then he or she may not, for his or her own enjoyment, invite guests for meals. However, the mourner is permitted to do so for other purposes (for the benefit of the invited person or people), such as kiruv or hachnasat orchim. There is no limit to how many guests the mourner may host.

The mourner may attend or host a sheva brachot in his/her home.

A mourner should not be invited to meals, even for Shabbat or festivals; but if he/she was invited, he/she may go.


A mourner does eat at a Purim or Jewish festival seuda, since there is no mourning on Purim nor on any festival (except Chanuka).

Mourning: Who Must Mourn
Mourning: Who Must Mourn: Seven Categories
There are seven categories of relatives for whom mourning is required: father; mother; spouse; son; daughter; brother; sister.
Mourning: Who Must Mourn: Before Burial/Onen
From the time of death until burial, the seven relatives are called onen (onenim). One is only an onen if he or she will participate in the funeral or make decisions related to the funeral. This could be even if you will be involved only in deciding who will speak at the hesped. If someone is completely uninvolved in the funeral arrangements, one is an aveil.
Mourning: Who Must Mourn: No Onenut on Shabbat and Jewish Festivals
One is not an onen whenever a body may not be buried, such as on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, and so there is no onenut on Shabbat or Jewish festivals. An onen says blessings and does mitzvot on those days.
Mourning: Who Must Mourn: After Burial/Avel
After burial, any of the seven close relatives are called avel (aveilim).
Mourning: How Long To Mourn
Mourning: How Long To Mourn: Parents or Others
Mourning for parents lasts one year. Mourning for others lasts only 30 days.
Mourning: How To Mourn
Being an Onen
Onen Restrictions
An onen is prohibited from doing positive mitzvot so as not to be distracted from taking care of the dead body.
An onen may not:
  • Do any positive commandment (no blessings, prayers, shema…).
  • Eat meat or drink wine (until after the burial).
  • Work or operate a business.
Note Before the relative dies, if possible, the onen should sell his business for whatever days he or she will be an onen and in shiv'a. Otherwise, the owner may have to close the business until shiv'a is over.
Note If there will be a large financial loss, consult a rabbi.  A large loss is subjective to the individual's actual wealth and also to that person's perception of what is a large loss. Consult a rabbi for how much constitutes a large loss.
Onen Traveling with Body
An onen who accompanies a body to a foreign country for burial may have two extra days (or more) of onenut. If the onen then returns home and joins other mourners in the shiv'a house, the onen may end shiv'a with the other family members. (For more details, see When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Starts: Normal Days .)
Being an Onen: Saying Kaddish
Some communities have the custom of an onen's saying kaddish.
NOTE When a person's parent dies on or just before (erev) Shabbat or a Jewish festival, a daughter of any age should not be told until after Shabbat or the festival is over. A son should only be told if he is 6 years old and above and the custom in that community is to say kaddish as an onen.
Kri'a: Tearing the Clothes
Kri'a: Who Tears
Children and Kri'a
When a parent has died, the children must tear “kr'ia,” that is, tearing any garments that they wear during shiv'a.
Women and Kri'a
Women do kri'a. To avoid exposing her body when tearing, a woman may wait until she is in a private place.  After tearing, she might need to pin the torn area closed for tzni'ut (modest attire).
Kri'a: On What To Tear
What To Tear for Kri'a
When tearing kri'a, do not tear underwear, a coat or sweater worn for warmth, or talit katan. To avoid ruining good or expensive clothing, you may change to other clothes before doing kri'a.
You may tear the same garment more than once if you need to do kriya for more than one dead person or for seeing the Temple mount more than once (in more than 30 days).
Kri'a: When To Tear
Tear at News or Funeral Home
Do the tearing/kri'a when you hear the news of a death. If not, tear at the funeral home before the funeral.
Kri'a: How To Tear
How To Tear Kri'a
If you are in mourning for a parent, whether you are a man or woman, tear a vertical tear 4 inches (10.2 cm) long on your outermost garments (shirt and jacket, if you wear one) at the neck on the left side. The bulk of the tear must be made by hand, not with scissors or a knife, although you may start the tear with a sharp implement.
Kri'a: How Often To Tear
Kri'a: How Often for a Parent
When mourning for a parent, you must tear kri'a throughout the shiv'a week whenever you change shirts, so it is best to change garments as little as possible! You must wear the torn garment during the entire week of shiv'a. Coats do not require kri'a.
Note Wearing a torn black ribbon pinned to a garment does not fulfill the requirement of kri'a.
Kri'a: How Often for Non-Parents
When mourning for any of the five categories of people other than parents (spouse; son; daughter; brother; sister), tear only one time and only the outermost garment (but not coats) and tear on the right side.
Shiv'a: Purpose
Shiv'a: Purpose
The purpose of shiv'a is to honor the dead person and the mourners.
Shiv'a (and Shloshim): Timing
When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Starts
When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Starts: Normal Days
Shiv'a (and shloshim) starts for a mourner who:
  • Attends funeral:  After the burial.
  • Will not attend funeral and is a(n):
    • Non-Onen:  Immediately upon hearing news of the death.
    • Onen:  As soon as the onen has nothing (more) to do with the funeral.
Note Family members may observe shiv'a at different starting and ending times. 
When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Starts: Jewish Festivals
For someone who dies during Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, or any of the three Jewish festivals, the mourning period does not start until after the holiday has ended.
How Long Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Lasts
Duration of Shiv'a (and Shloshim)
Shiv'a lasts seven days. Shloshim lasts 30 days, beginning with Day 1 of shiv'a. There may be some exceptions if shiv'a occurs before or during festivals.   
Note Any part of the first day is considered to be one full day. On the final day after shacharit, the mourners finish shiv'a, so shiv'a can actually last as little as 5 ½ calendar days.
When Shiv’a Resumes
When Shiv'a Resumes: Shabbat
Shiv'a that is interrupted by Shabbat resumes Sunday morning.
When Shiv'a Resumes: Jewish Festival
Shiv'a that is interrupted by a Jewish festival does not resume after being interrupted.
When Shiv'a Resumes: Purim
Shiva is interrupted for Purim and resumes (except on shiv'a's 7th day) after Purim (or, in Jerusalem, after Shushan Purim).
When Shiv'a Resumes: Chanuka
Shiva is not interrupted for Chanuka.
When Shiv'a Resumes: Rosh Chodesh
Shiva is not interrupted for Rosh Chodesh.
When Shiv'a Ends
When Shiv'a Ends: Onen
An onen ends shiv'a (and shloshim) with the household head ("gadol ha'bayit"--whoever controls the money in that household)—even if the household head begins shiv'a before burial and the onen joins the shiv'a house after burial.
When Shiv'a Ends: Non-Onen Who Finds Out Later
If you do not hear about someone's death for 30 days after the person died, observe just one day of shiv'a. If you hear in less than 30 days, observe the regular seven-day shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Location
Ideal Location of Shiv'a
The ideal place to sit shiv'a is the home of the dead person, but any practical location is permitted.
Shiv'a in Several Locations
There may be more than one shiv'a house for one dead person. There is no requirement for people to all join for one shiv'a house, especially if the mourners live in different cities.
Shiv'a: Leaving the House
Mourners' Leaving the Shiv'a House
Mourners should not leave the shiv'a house even if they do not have a minyan there.
Note There are some exceptions for extreme conditions, including medical reasons. A rabbi should be consulted.
Shiv'a and Going Elsewhere To Sleep
If there is not enough space for all of the mourners to sleep in the shiv'a house, they may go elsewhere to sleep at night.
Shiv'a: Minyan
Reason for Shiv'a House Minyan
The main reason for a shiv'a house minyan is to allow the male mourners to pray with a minyan and say kaddish, since they may not leave the house.
Shiv'a: Furnishings
Shiv'a: Furnishings: Seat Height
 Mourners during shiv'a do not sit on normal chairs. Any seat should be less than 12 inches high.
Shiv'a: Furnishings: Mirrors
Cover all mirrors after the funeral in the house of mourning (shiv'a house). This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Shiv'a: Furnishing: Candle
Have a candle burn for seven days in the shiv'a house.
Shiv'a: Meals
First Shiv'a Meal
First Shiv'a Meal: Bread and Egg
The first meal should be bread and a hard-boiled egg. After that meal, any foods may be eaten, including meat and wine.
First Shiv'a Meal: Prepared by Others
The mourners do not eat their own food for the first meal after the burial, so other people bring prepared food to the shiv'a house.
Bringing Food to Shiv'a House
Bringing Food to Shiv'a House
Bringing food to a shiv'a house is a non-binding custom, not a halacha. Some people have the custom for all seven days.
Shiv'a: Daily Life
Shiv'a: Bathing
Bathing during Shiv'a
An avel should not bathe for pleasure and should only wash hands (to elbows), face (to collarbone), and feet (to the knees). If the avel is sweaty, smelly, or dirty, he or she may wash other body parts as needed.
Shiv'a: Business
Business during Shiv'a
An avel may not work and may not own an operating business during shiv'a.  If a death is imminent, consult a rabbi immediately to arrange a sale of the business.
Shiv'a: Clothing
Clothing during Shiv'a
Mourners may not wear leather shoes for the seven days of shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Driving
Driving during Shiv'a
A mourner who absolutely must go somewhere may drive himself or herself (or be driven by someone else), but the proper observance of shiv'a is to stay home for the week.
Shiv'a: Gifts
Gifts during Shiv'a
A mourner may not give gifts for seven days.
It is not appropriate to give gifts to a mourner for one year if the mourner is mourning for a parent.
Shiv'a: Greeting
Greeting during Shiv'a
A mourner may not greet someone in return but may acknowledge a greeting to him/her and may say “thank you” back. (This restriction ceases if a Jewish festival occurs during shiv'a.)
Shiv'a: Laundry
Laundry during Shiv'a
A mourner may not do laundry nor wear clean clothes for comfort during shiv'a, but if all of the clothes are dirty, they may be washed. If so,
  • Someone else should briefly wear such clothes before the mourner wears them, or
  • The clothes may be thrown on the floor so that they will be considered dirty.
Shiv’a: Make Up
No Make Up for Mourner
A mourner should refrain from wearing make up during shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Marital Relations
Marital Relations during Shiv'a
A mourner may not have marital relations and may not touch his or her spouse affectionately during shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Shabbat and Public Mourning
Shiv'a: Mourning on Shabbat
A mourner does not mourn publicly on Shabbat.
Shiv'a: Entering Synagogue Friday Night
A mourner enters the synagogue on Friday evening before Mizmor shir l'yom haShabbat (after the main part of Kabbalat Shabbat has finished).
Reason Mizmor shir is the actual starting point of Shabbat.
The congregation stands and, as the mourners walk in, greets the mourners with “HaMakom yenacheim etchem b'toch she'ar aveilei tzion v'yrushalayim.
Women and Public Consolation after Kabbalat Shabbat
It is not the custom for women to get public consolation (nichum aveilim) on Friday night at synagogue.
Shiv'a: Tefilin on First Day
Tefilin: First Day of Shiv'a
Mourners do not wear tefilin on the first day (the day of burial), but do wear them after the first day.
Shiv'a: Torah Study
Torah Study during Shiv'a
A mourner during shiv'a may not study Torah, other than:
  • Laws of mourning (aveilut), and
  • Whatever is permitted to study on Tish'a b'Av.
Note This restriction ceases if a Jewish festival occurs during shiv'a.
Shiv'a: Washing, Haircuts, Shaving
Washing, Haircuts, Shaving during Shiv'a
An avel may not wash, shave, or get a haircut during shiv'a (for more details on haircuts, see Haircuts during Shloshim).
Mourner's Kaddish
Kaddish: For Whom To Say
Kaddish for Parents/Exceptions
Mourner's kaddish is only supposed to be said for parents, unless no one else is saying kaddish for the dead person. If both your parents are still alive, you may not say mourner's kaddish for someone else unless you get your parents' permission.
Kaddish for Relatives Other than Parents
If you wish, you may say mourner's kaddish for family members other than parents, especially during shloshim (the first 30 days after burial), since the first 30 days after death are the most difficult for the dead person's soul. 
However, you may say kaddish for anyone even after shloshim ends, if you wish, until the end of 11 months (for a shomer-mitzvot person) or 12 months (for a non-shomer mitzvot person. But in a place where only one person says kaddish, you may not supplant another person who is halachically required to say kaddish.
Kaddish: How Long To Say
Kaddish: How Long To Say: Shomer Shabbat or Not
Kaddish is only said for 11 months for a shomer Shabbat Jew and 12 months for a non-shomer-Shabbat Jew.
Kaddish Timing: Last Day of Kaddish
The last day of kaddish is based on the day he or she was buried.

The final kaddish for a mourner, at the end of 11/12 months, will always be at mincha, regardless of when the dead person died or was buried.

Kaddish: Who Should Say
Kaddish: Who Should Say: Sons Six and Above
All sons age 6 and above are required to say kaddish for a dead parent. For frequency, see Kaddish Frequency: Requirements of Sons.
NOTE Women are not required to say kaddish.
Kaddish: Who Should Say: Women
Women are not required to say kaddish, and it is not customary for them to do so.  But if they want to, it is best if at least one man says kaddish with the woman.
Kaddish: How Often To Say
Kaddish Frequency: Needs of Dead Person
Each dead person needs kaddish to be said for him or her:
  • By at least one person.
    Note If more than one person who was close to the dead person (such as a relative) says kaddish, it is a merit for the soul of the dead person.
  • At least once a day. 
    Note More frequently is commendable, since kaddish relieves a dead person's soul from gehenna.
Kaddish Frequency: Requirements of Sons
Each son age 6 and above is required to say kaddish for his dead parent at least once a day.
Note “Day” here means from dark until the following sunset. If you say kaddish at mincha and the following ma'ariv, you have covered two days.
Saying Kaddish Multiple Times
Even though saying kaddish many times benefits the dead person's soul, there is no need--nor is it the custom--to attend multiple minyans each day in order to say kaddish for a dead person many times.
Kaddish: With Whom To Say
Saying Kaddish in Unison
Ideally, only one mourner should say kaddish, whether mourner's kaddish, rabbis' kaddish, etc. Any kaddish said by more than one mourner should be said in unison.
Thirty Days of Mourning (Shloshim)
When Shiv'a (and Shloshim) Ends
Shiv'a and Shloshim: Ended by Jewish Festivals
Shiv'a ends if a Jewish festival, Rosh Hashana, or Yom Kippur intervenes.
Shloshim ends if a Jewish festival, Rosh Hashana, or Yom Kippur intervenes.
If two of those holidays occur within the first seven days after burial, the first one will break shiv'a and the second one will break shloshim.
Shimini Atseret does not constitute a second day for breaking shiv'a or shloshim (it is considered to be part of Sukkot for this purpose).
Shloshim: Daily Life
Shloshim: Bathing
Bathing during Shloshim
For the first 30 days, a mourner should not bathe for pleasure in hot water and should only wash hands (to elbows), face (to collarbone), and feet (to the knees). If sweaty, smelly, or dirty, he or she may wash other body parts even during shiv'a. Lukewarm water may be used after shiv'a ends.
Shloshim: Clothing
Clothing during Shloshim
Do not wear newly purchased clothing during the first 30 days of mourning (shloshim).  You may wear new clothing from the end of shiv'a if someone else wears them somewhat before you do. 
Note Restrictions on newly purchased clothing end after:
  • the year of mourning for those mourning for parents, and
  • 30 days for those mourning for other relatives.

Shloshim: Haircuts
Haircuts during Shloshim
Do not get a haircut for the first 30 days of mourning. When mourning for parents, a mourner's hair should grow for three months from the last haircut but not for less than 30 days from the time shiv'a began. This applies to men and women, except if the woman needs to cut her hair for immersing in the mikva.
Shloshim: Kiddush
Kiddush Club during Shloshim
A mourner during shloshim (or the rest of the mourner's year) may eat at a kiddush on Shabbat after shacharit if he is expected to be there (for example, if he is a regular member of a “Kiddush Club”) because you may not display mourning in public on Shabbat.
Shloshim: Nail Cutting
Nail Cutting during Shloshim

Do not cut your nails for the first 30 days of mourning.

ExceptionWomen mourners may cut their nails before going to the mikva.

Shloshim: Shaving
Shaving during Shloshim
If you shave regularly (can be every day or a few times each week), you may shave after 30 days but not within 30 even if for non-parent and certainly not for a parent. If you normally grow a beard, you may not shave until 3 months have passed since the last time you trimmed your beard (and as long as it is more than 30 days from the day shiva began for the parent).
In case of a large financial loss, consult a rabbi.
Note A large loss is subjective to the individual's actual wealth and also to that person's perception of what is a large loss
Shloshim: Getting Married
Wedding during Shloshim
Do not get married during the first 30 days of mourning, but you may get engaged.
Year of Mourning
Year-of-Mourning: Time Period
Mourner Period When Shiv'a or Shloshim Are Shortened
Someone who is mourning for parents is still a mourner for the entire year even if shiv'a and shloshim are truncated. 
Year-of-Mourning: Practices
Year of Mourning: Marrying
Remarrying after a Wife Dies
If a wife dies, the husband must wait for three Jewish festival holidays to pass before remarrying (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur do not count for this purpose).
Remarrying after a Husband Dies
If a husband dies, the wife may remarry after 92 days have passed.
Year of Mourning: New Clothing
New Clothing during Year of Mourning for Parent
For wearing new clothes during the year of mourning for a parent, see Clothing during Shloshim .
Year of Mourning: Mourners Leading a Minyan
Mourners Leading a Minyan

The dead person benefits if his/her son or sons lead public prayer services, whether during shloshim or the entire year (11 or 12 months). However, if the mourner is uncomfortable leading the minyan or is not a good reader or will be embarrassed, he should not feel obligated to do so.


A mourner does not lead a minyan on:

  • Shabbat;

  • Jewish Festivals (including chol ha'moed);

  • Purim;

  • Rosh Chodesh.

Opinions differ concerning Chanuka, so follow your local custom.

Year of Mourning: Public Festivities
Public Festivities for Mourner for Parent

A mourner may not generally enter a hall of joyous celebration and may not eat at any public meal. During the year of mourning for parents, you may not join any public festivities (even if it is not a simcha) that have a meal, including any meals celebrating a mitzva (se'udat mitzva) such as for a brit mila, wedding, or redemption of a son (pidyon ha'ben). After 30 days, you may attend a bar mitzva or a siyum meal, since a bar mitzva is similar to a siyum since the child's parent's commandment to educate his/her child in Jewish education has been completed.
ExceptionA mourner whose child is getting married, does attend the wedding and does eat at the meal with everyone else, even if mourning for a parent. He or she does not need to leave the room when music is being played. To attend the wedding of anyone other than one's child, regardless of who died, a mourner must eat alone and outside the main dining area.

Note An intervening Jewish festival partially truncates the 30 days of mourning and so you may attend a bar mitzva or siyum even before the end of 30 days.
NoteIf you work at weddings (caterer, musician, etc.), you may attend weddings even before 30 days are up, but you may not join the meal.
Public Festivities for Mourner for Non-Parent
A mourner for the five categories of people other than parents (spouse; son; daughter; brother; sister) may join any celebrations, including the meals, after 30 days (and if any Jewish festivals intervene, that 30-day period is truncated).
Year of Mourning: SheHecheyanu
A mourner (avel) is permitted to say she'hecheyanu for himself but should not say she'hecheyanu if required for the congregation.  An avel should say she'hecheyanu on:
  • Eating a “new” fruit.
  • Wearing a new garment.
  • Lighting Chanuka candles at home for the first time that year.
 An avel should not do the following, since he should not say she'hecheyanu unless it is necessary:
  • Light Chanuka candles in synagogue.
  • Read the megila.
  • Blow shofar on Rosh Hashana.
Year of Mourning: Synagogue Seat
Synagogue Seat When Mourning for Parent
Change your normal seat in synagogue during the year of mourning for a parent. (The rabbi is not required to change seats). You should move to a seat further away from the aron hakodesh then your previous seat (since seats further from the aron are considered to be less prestigious than those close to the aron).
Reason This is to show humility and that we feel subdued due to the death.
Tombstones and Graves
When To Set Up Tombstone
Set up a tombstone on the grave any time after the burial but within 12 Jewish months of burial.
What To Have Engraved on Tombstone
Put the dead person's name on the tombstone. Anything aside from the name is optional.
Tombstone if Hebrew Name Unknown
Use the person's secular name in any language if the Hebrew name is unknown.
How To Treat Graves
Graves: Photographs
Taking photos of graves is OK. (This is common at the Jewish cemetery in Prague.)
Graves: Visiting
There is not any mitzva or halacha to visit graves of any person, not even tzadikim and not even parents.
Graves: Stepping on
Do not step on graves.
Graves: Leaving Stone
When you visit a grave, it is customary to leave a small stone on the tombstone.
Yarhzeit: Date
Yahrzeit: Timing
If the person was buried before the passage of two sunsets after death:
  • Yahrzeit day is the anniversary date of the day he or she died.
If the person was NOT buried before the passage of two sunsets after death:
  • First yahrzeit is one year after the day he/she was buried.
  • Subsequent yahrzeits will be on the day he/she died.
Yarhzeit: Candle
Yarhzeit: Candle: Day of Yahrzeit
Yahrzeit: Candle: Day of Yahrzeit
Lighting a yahrzeit candle on the yahrzeit of a parent is a universal custom but not a halacha.
Yahrzeit: Candle: How Many Candles
Yahrzeit: Candle: How Many Candles: Yahrzeit and Yizkor
One candle is lit on the yahrzeit/anniversary of the date a parent died.
Note If both parents died on the same day, light two candles on the yahrzeit day (but only one on yizkor day).
Yahrzeit: Candle: How Many Candles: One per Household
For a deceased parent on a yahrzeit or yizkor day, only one candle needs to be lit in each home where any of a parent's children are at sunset of that evening.
  • If two siblings (or more) are in the same residence on the night of the yahrzeit, just light one yahrzeit candle.
  • If all siblings are in different homes, each sibling lights one yahrzeit candle.

Yahrzeit: Fasting
Fasting on Yahrzeit of Parents
It is a good custom (but not halacha) to fast on the yahrzeit of one's parents, since it is a kind of repentance (teshuva).
Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Jewish Festivals (Chagim, Yom Tov)
Introduction to Holidays/Jewish Festivals
Introduction to Holidays/Jewish Festivals/Chagim/Yom Tov
Jewish Festivals are listed in the Torah and are of two types: 
  1. Three pilgrimage festivals (shalosh regalim):
  • Passover,
  • Shavuot, and
  • Sukkot (including Shimini Atzeret).
These festivals were celebrated in ancient times by "appearing before God"--by bringing offerings to the Tabernacle or Temple.
  1. High Holidays
  • The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana—“Yom Teru'ain the Torah), and the
  • Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
Jewish holidays that were originally one day are now observed as follows:
  • Rosh Hashana--2 days.
  • Yom Kippur--1 day.
  • Shavuot--1 day in Eretz Yisrael or 2 days elsewhere.
  • Passover has festival days at the beginning and end of the holiday and intermediary days of lesser holiness, which are called chol ha'moed. In Eretz Yisrael, Passover lasts for 7 days in total and the first and last days are festival days. Outside of Eretz Yisrael, Passover lasts 8 days and has two festival days at the beginning and two at the end.
  • Sukkot has festival days at the beginning and at the end and intermediary days of lesser holiness, which are called chol ha'moed. In Eretz Yisrael, Sukkot lasts for 8 days and the first and last days are festival days (the last day is Shimini Atzeret). Outside of Eretz Yisrael, Sukkot lasts for 9 days and the first two days and last days are festival days (the 8th day is Shimini Atzeret and the 9th day is Simchat Torah).

Each holiday contributes its own character to Jewish life (Passover--the theme of freedom; Yom Kippur brings atonement, etc.). 

How to celebrate these holidays is detailed in our Oral Law and halacha books. Jewish festivals as practiced today are similar in holiness to Shabbat. As with Shabbat, the Jewish festival has candle lighting, kiddush at two meals, and havdala.   We eat our best food and wear our best clothing on Jewish festivals (we eat our next-best food and wear our next-best clothing on Shabbat!).
The main idea behind eating meals on Jewish festivals is joy (simcha), so you should drink wine and eat meat (only if you enjoy wine and meat).  There is no third meal on Jewish festivals since people used to eat two meals each day (adding a third meal on Shabbat was for enjoyment/oneg).
Any activities or actions permitted on Shabbat are also permitted on the Jewish festivals. Actions that are forbidden on Shabbat are generally also forbidden on Jewish festivals, but there are some leniencies (only if the actions are needed for that festival day).
  • Lighting from an existing flame,
  • Cooking and baking for the Jewish festival day, and
  • Carrying outside the eruv (hotza'a--transferring objects between domains).
Grama (indirectly causing an action) is permitted on Jewish festivals (but not on Shabbat). For example, you may advance or delay a timer that will make a light go on or off in the future (the timer must already be plugged in and operating from before sunset of the festival day).
Note For an action to be considered indirect based on time, there must be at least 2.5 seconds after the first action is done before the resulting action begins to happen.

Psik Reisha Dla Neicha Lei
Psik reisha dla neicha lei is forbidden on Jewish festivals, just as it is on Shabbat.

D'oraita Restrictions
D'oraita restrictions apply world-wide to:
  • First and seventh days of Passover,
  • First and eighth days of Sukkot,
  • First day of Shavuot,
  • Yom Kippur,
  • First day of Rosh Hashana.
Note The same restrictions apply to all other Jewish festival days but are rabbinical.
In general, women are not required to perform the positive, time-dependent commandments. Women and girls are not required to eat any Jewish festival meals except the Passover seder meal (but they are not allowed to fast on those days).
Pre-Jewish Festival Issues
Jewish Festival: Which Day
Jewish Festival: International Dateline
Jewish Festival: Dateline Considerations
If unsure which day to start the Jewish festival because you are near the International Dateline, follow guidelines for Shabbat; see Introduction to Shabbat, IDL, and Region of Safek/Doubt.
Jewish Festival: One Day or Two
Jewish Festival: One Day or Two
Outside of Eretz Yisrael, Jewish festivals are observed for two days instead of one.
Reason In ancient Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin declared the new month based on testimony of at least two witnesses.  Since Jews who lived far from Jerusalem did not find out when the Jewish festivals began until as much as two weeks after the fact, a two-day festival was declared and we continue to observe that two-day holiday outside of Eretz Yisrael.
Situation You are in Eretz Yisrael for any of the Jewish festivals.  You want melacha done for you on the second day of the festival.
What To Do You may ask a resident of Eretz Yisrael to do melacha for you. (You may not ask a non-Jew to do melacha for you!)
Reason It is no longer a Jewish festival for him/her.
Note If you are outside of Eretz Yisrael, you may not ask a resident of Eretz Yisrael (who is visting you) to do melacha for you on the second day of the Jewish festival, even though he/she is no longer observing the festival.
Reason He/she may not do any melacha d'oraita even in private and not even for him/herself.
Jewish Festival: One Day in Eretz Yisrael
To keep one day only of a Jewish festival in Eretz Yisrael, you must live most of year in Eretz Yisrael and fulfill certain other requirements. Consult a rabbi for details.
Jewish Festival: One Day for a Year Plus in Eretz Yisrael
If you are living in Eretz Yisrael for one year and might stay longer, ask a rabbi if you must keep one or two days of the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Transportation
Non-Jew Driven Vehicle before Dark Starting Jewish Festival
You may continue riding in a car or taxi driven by a non-Jew between sunset and dark (tzeit ha'kochavim) beginning a Jewish festival, even if the vehicle is driven just for you. You:
  • May not do this on Shabbat.
  • Must have already paid before sunset. 
  • May not open a door that will cause a light to turn on or do any other melachot.
  • If you have already traveled outside techum, you may move only 4 amot (85” or 116 cm) away from the vehicle, unless the driver leaves you off in an enclosed domain (any area surrounded by walls or an eruv), in which case you may go anywhere in that domain.
  • If you had not gone outside of techum, you may go anywhere in the domain and you may also go up to 2000 amot (3,542 ft. or 1,080 m) outside of the domain.
Note Since this is a d'oraita case, we use a smaller measurement for ama--21 ¼” (54 cm). 
Jewish Festivals: Leaving the World of Work
Sole or Majority Business Ownership on Jewish Festivals
For sole or majority ownership of a business on Jewish festivals, see Jewish Festivals: Business Ownership.
Refraining from Distracting Work
You may not do any work or get involved in any project that might distract you from preparing for a Jewish festival, beginning from twice the duration of plag ha'mincha.  So allow 2 1/2 halachic hours (sha'ot zmaniyot) before sunset to prepare for the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Eating Before
Appetite for Jewish Festival Dinner
Do not eat a full meal (meaning, do not eat bread or a lot of mezonot) after halachic midday on the afternoon before a Jewish festival.
Reason To have an appetite for Jewish festival dinner.
Note You may eat other food after halachic midday the afternoon of (before) the Jewish festival but you should not eat foods which are filling.
Eating before Hearing Jewish Festival Evening Kiddush
See Eating from Start of Jewish Festival until Kiddush.
Jewish Festival: Setting the Table
Jewish Festivals: Tablecloth
A tablecloth should cover the table during Jewish festival meals, but you may remove and switch tablecloths. Even if you have a beautiful and valuable table, you should still cover it for Jewish festival (and Shabbat) meals.
Jewish Festivals: When Men Start
Jewish Festivals: When Men Start: Sunset or Bar'chu
Jewish festivals begin for men at sunset or when they say “bar'chu” in ma'ariv, whichever comes first.
Jewish Festivals: When Women Start
Jewish Festivals: When Women Start: Candle-Lighting or Sunset
As for Shabbat, Jewish festivals start for women when they light candles or at sunset, whichever is earlier. 
For more details, see Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting with Delay until Sunset.
Jewish Festivals: Candles
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Who Lights
Jewish Festivals: Candles: One Person per Home
Like Shabbat candles, Jewish festival candles should be lit only by one person per home. Priority order: wife; then husband; then children.
It is customary for each married woman to light candles on each festival even though she is not eating in her own home and even though her hostess is already lighting candles. She may light her candles at her hostess's house or at her own home (but if at her own home, she must see the candles are burning after dark if she lights there).
Girls should not be encouraged to light Jewish festival candles except when no parent can.
Single people should light Jewish festival candles in their homes if they will eat there.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Have Others in Mind
Whoever is lighting the Jewish festival candles should have in mind all other people who will be eating dinner in that home.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: When To Light
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Earliest Time To Light
You may not light Jewish festival (or Shabbat) candles before plag ha'mincha.  The candles must burn until at least dark (tzeit ha'kochavim) and someone must be there to see the light from the candles after dark.
SITUATION  Mincha minyan begins at plag ha'mincha. You cannot light candles at home and still get to mincha minyan on time.
WHAT TO DO You may light a candle without a blessing, just so you can have a flame for after the festival has begun. You go to synagogue and after ma'ariv you return home and light the candles from the flame which was burning from before sunset. If you will not have a flame burning from before sunset, you must say mincha on your own (anytime from half an hour after mid-day until sunset). You will light candles after plag ha'mincha but before sunset and not join the mincha minyan. Women should skip mincha and light candles either 18 minutes before sunset or have a flame burning from before sunset and light candles from that flame once the festival has begun (but she may not light from a new flame or a match).
Jewish Festivals: Candle-Lighting Times
In most countries, candle lighting time is 18 minutes before sunset. In Jerusalem, many people have the custom of lighting candles 40 minutes before sunset.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting Two Days
The custom is to light candles:
  • Before sunset on the first day of a Jewish festival, and
  • After dark on the Jewish festival's second day (except when the second day coincides with Shabbat!).
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting after Sunset
Men and women may light candles after sunset on Jewish festivals, with these conditions:
  • You may light only from an already-burning flame.
  • You may not light Jewish festival candles after sunset on Friday nor on the evening before Yom Kippur begins.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting with Delay until Sunset
As on Shabbat, you may say “I am lighting Jewish festival candles but not starting the Jewish festival until sunset” to delay observing the Jewish festival until sunset, but this in only b'diavad.
Note As for Shabbat, women should not routinely start Jewish festivals at sunset since the proper time for women to begin Jewish festivals is at candle lighting (typically 18 minutes before sunset).
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Where To Light
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Dinner Location
As on Shabbat, light Jewish festival candles wherever you will eat dinner that night.
Note If you will be eating away from home, do not light the candles at home unless you will be home for some period of time after dark (in which case you must see the candles burning for at least one minute after dark/tzeit ha'kochavim; otherwise you will have made a bracha l'vatala). This is not the ideal situation, as the ideal is to light where you will eat.
Note You do not need to light candles at all if you are not eating at your own home on the Jewish festival (this applies to men and women, even wives and mothers who normally light at their own home) as long as someone else is lighting candles where you will eat. While the basic halacha is that the hostess lights for everyone, it is a widespread custom for any woman who is--or was--married to light at the hostess's home.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Many To Light
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Many Required To Light
As on Shabbat, wives should light two candles for Jewish festivals, even though we say the blessing over “ner” (“candle” in the singular). Lighting any more than two candles is a universal custom.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Many To Light when Eating Elsewhere
A wife lighting Jewish festival candles in a place other than her own home lights only two candles, even if she normally lights more than two candles in her own home. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Adding a Candle
Unlike on Shabbat, on Jewish festivals you do not add an extra candle to the number you normally light for the rest of your life if you miss lighting Jewish festival candles.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Long To Burn
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Long Candles Must Burn
As on Shabbat, Jewish festivals candles must burn at least until you have eaten the bread of ha'motzi.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How To Light
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting before Blessing
On the first day of Jewish festivals, both women and men may say the blessing before lighting the candles, but it is customary for women to light before they say the blessing, as they do on Shabbat.
Jewish Festivals: Yahrzeit Candle
Jewish Festivals: Yahrzeit Candle
Some people have the custom of lighting a yahrzeit candle for a deceased parent on days when yizkor is said: Yom Kippur, last day of Passover; second day of Shavuot; and on Shmini Atzeret.
Jewish Festivals: Mincha Before
Jewish Festivals: What Time Is Mincha
Jewish Festivals: Earliest Mincha
The earliest permissible time to say mincha before a Jewish festival is one-half hour after halachic midday, as with all mincha prayers including before Shabbat.
Note You may begin the second day of any Jewish festival as early as plag ha'mincha. You should ideally say mincha before plag and then say ma'ariv after plag; but if you are praying with a minyan, you may say mincha anytime after plag and then say ma'ariv immediately afterward, just as on Shabbat.
Note However, there is nothing gained by saying mincha early before a Jewish festival:
  • We don't want to start Rosh Hashana (Yom HaDin) early and no one wants to start Yom Kippur early.
  • You may not start either seder until after dark on Passover.
  • You could eat in a sukka before dark on either of the first two days of Sukkot, but you would not fulfill the requirement of eating in a sukka since it was not dark.  
  • Likewise, the first day of Shavuot does not begin until after dark.
  • Since you may not say the blessing on eating in a sukka on Shmini Atzeret (which you would have to do if you eat before dark), there is nothing gained by saying mincha and ma'ariv early on that day, either.
So, as a practical matter, the only days on which saying mincha and ma'ariv early would allow beginning the holiday early are the second day of Shavuot, the second day of Rosh Hashana, and the last days of Passover.

Jewish Festivals: Mincha and Candle Lighting
Saying Mincha after Lighting Jewish Festival Candles
A woman who has already lit Jewish festival candles may not say mincha for the afternoon before a Jewish festival, even if she lit (after plag ha'mincha) long before sunset time, unless she intended not to begin the Jewish festival when she was lighting the candles (and intending to begin later should only be done in urgent situations, not routinely.)
Jewish Festivals: Ma'ariv
Saying Ma'ariv at Plag HaMincha
You may say ma'ariv before the start of a Jewish festival as early as plag ha'mincha (1 1/4 halachic hours before sunset), even if you did not say mincha before plag (unlike on weekdays when you must say mincha before plag in order to say ma'ariv before sunset). 
Answering Kedusha If You Began the Jewish Festival Early
If you began the Jewish festival early and you are at a minyan where they are saying kedusha for mincha before the Jewish festival, you should reply to kedusha.
Jewish Festivals: Meals
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Meals
Introduction to Jewish Festival "Eating a Meal" Requirements
We are required to eat two meals on Jewish festivals, each preceded by kiddush, one in the evening and one in the morning. For both meals for each Jewish festival day (and all three meals on Shabbat), say ha'motzi over two complete loaves of bread, each of which is at least 1.3 fl. oz. in volume. 
Note Girls and women are not required to eat any meals (that is, including bread or matza) on Jewish festivals except the Passover seder. However, if a woman, or girl at least bat mitzva age, wants to eat bread, she should use two loaves, just as men do. This is halacha, not a custom. Also, girls and women may not fast on any festival day so even if they do not eat bread or matza, they must eat some food.

Source of Saying Jewish Festival Kiddush
Some kiddushes are commanded by the Torah (d'oraita); the others are from Chazal (d'rabanan), as follows:
Kiddush d'Oraita
  • First night of Jewish festivals
  • Night of seventh day of Passover
  • Night of Shmini Atzeret.
Kiddush d'Rabanan
  • First day of Jewish festival
  • Second night of Jewish festival
  • Second day of Jewish festival
  • Seventh day of Passover
  • Eighth night of Passover
  • Eighth day of Passover
  • Shmini Atzeret day
  • Night and day of Simchat Torah.
Source of Jewish Festival Kiddush Location
Saying Jewish festival kiddush at the place where you will eat your meal is a rabbinical (d'rabanan) enactment.
Jewish Festival Kiddush-Meal Quantities: Evening
  • For evening kiddush for a first-night (d'oraita) Jewish festival, a minimum of 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) of wine must be blessed on and at least half must be drunk.
  • For evening kiddush for a second-night (d'rabanan) Jewish festival, a minimum of 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of wine must be blessed on and at least 2.0 fl. oz. must be drunk.
  • For the evening meal, as on the first two Shabbat meals and for all required Jewish festival meals, a minimum of 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread must be eaten within four minutes.
Eating Requirements for Jewish Festival Morning Kiddush
There are two separate eating requirements during the daytime. They may be combined (say/hear kiddush and start the main meal right away) but are often done separately (say/hear kiddush and then eat some light foods and beverages; the main meal is eaten later in the day).
Note Since eating and drinking requirements on all morning kiddushes (both Shabbat and Jewish festivals) are d'rabanan, the required beverage amount for morning kiddush is only 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) instead of the d'oraita 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) (which is required for kiddushes for Shabbat evening and all first-night Jewish festivals).
  • Morning kiddush requires a halachically legal “meal” with these elements:
    • Blessing on a minimum of 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of wine (or other beverage),
    • Someone's drinking at least half the beverage, followed by
    • Eating at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of some type of mezonot within four minutes. 
      Note If you drink at least 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of wine within 30 seconds, you do not need to eat mezonot.
      Note You do not need to drink the wine or other kiddush beverage to fulfill “establishing a meal.” You may hear kiddush and then simply eat the required amount of bread or mezonot. This applies to Shabbat or Jewish festivals, evening or morning.
  The kiddush “meal” does not have to satiate.
  • The real meal (kovei'a se'uda) requires eating at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread (or matza during Passover!) within four minutes. It must include enough food to satiate. 
    Note You can simultaneously fulfill the requirement to “establish a meal” and to “eat a meal” by eating one (the same) piece of bread.

Jewish Festivals: Kiddush
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Who May Make
Jewish Man or Woman Making Kiddush
Any adult Jew, male or female, may say kiddush for him/herself and, as long as he/she still needs to say kiddush for him/herself, may include any other Jews of any age or gender.
Any Jewish male, 13 years old or older, may say kiddush for anyone else, either gender and any age, even if he has already fulfilled his personal requirement of saying kiddush.
Any Jewish female, 12 years old or older, may say kiddush for any other females but not for men, except that on the 2 Passover seder nights, a Jewish female who is at least 12 years old may even say kiddush for men, if the men are not able to say it for themselves. (Women may also say kiddush for men on Shabbat evening).
Reason Any person who is obligated to fulfill the mitzva of kiddush may say it for another personIt is questionable whether women are obligated to say (or have said for them) Jewish festival morning kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: What To Drink
Ideal Kiddush Beverage: Wine/Grape Juice
Wine (or grape juice) is the ideal and proper beverage for kiddush (and havdala).
Reason It is considered to be a prestigious beverage.
Jewish Festival Night Kiddush Beverage
Wine (or grape juice) is the only drink permissible for Jewish festival (or Friday) evening kiddush. See Challot for Kiddush, below, if you do not have wine or grape juice with which to make Jewish festival (or Shabbat) evening kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: How Much To Pour
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Pour Revi'it
As on Shabbat, the minimum volume of kiddush beverage on which you may say Jewish festival kiddush (or havdala) is a revi'it:
  • 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) for d'oraita cases such as the first night of Jewish festivals (or Shabbat evening) kiddush, and
  • 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) for d'rabanan cases such Jewish festival lunch and evening/daytime meals on the second Jewish festival day (as well as kiddush for Shabbat lunch).
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: How High To Fill the Cup
Ideally, fill your kiddush cup to just above the rim, even if the cup is larger than 4 fl. oz. (119 ml). Don't make the cup overflow. 
Note If you did not fill the kiddush cup to the rim, it is still OK.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Diluting Wine
There is no need to dilute wine before drinking it.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: If Not Enough Wine
If there is not enough wine (or grape juice) for Jewish festival (or Shabbat) kiddush and havdala:
  • Set aside the first cup for havdala.  Then, if there is one more cup,
  • Use it for the morning kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Challot for Kiddush
To use two challot for kiddush instead of wine:
  • Wash hands and say al netilat yadayim,
  • Say kiddush but substitute ha'motzi for borei pri ha'gafen; and, as soon as you finish saying kiddush,
  • Eat the bread as normal.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Cup & Wine Bottles
Your Own Kiddush Cup
If you want to drink kiddush wine, you may either hold your own cup of wine (or grape juice) during kiddush or receive wine or grape juice from the kiddush leader's cup.
Kos Pagum
Kos pagum means either:
  1. "Physically damaged or broken drinking utensil”: You may not use such a cup for kiddush l'chatchila. OR
  2. Cup of wine, grape juice, or any beverage that has been drunk from.  This beverage may not be used for a kos shel bracha until at least a small amount more of some beverage has been added.
Uncovered Wine Bottles/Cups
You do not need to close the wine bottle or cover the other wine cups while the first of several people says kiddush, whether on Shabbat or Jewish festivals.
Washing Wine Glass
There is no need to wash a clean wine glass before using it for kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: How Much To Drink
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Drinking Cheekful
As on Shabbat, the minimum total volume of Jewish festival kiddush beverage that must be drunk--usually by the kiddush-maker (mevareich) but it may even be several people combined--is a cheekful (m'lo lugmov)—considered to be 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) within 30 seconds.
Note If no one drinks the kiddush beverage, the commandment to say or hear kiddush has not been fulfilled. 
Note Although you must drink at least a cheekful to fulfill kiddush, you must drink at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) within 30 seconds in order to say the after-blessing.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: When To Speak or Drink
When You May Speak after Kiddush
You may speak, even without having drunk anything yourself, once:
  • The leader (mevareich) has said Jewish festival (or Shabbat) kiddush for other people, and
  • At least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) of the wine (or other appropriate beverage) over which kiddush was made has been drunk.
When You May Drink after Kiddush
You may drink your own beverage as long as:
  • The leader (mevareich) has said Jewish festival (or Shabbat) kiddush for other people, and
  • At least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) of the wine (or other appropriate beverage) over which kiddush was made has been drunk.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: When To Say Blessing Again
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Borei Pri HaGafen after Drinking Kiddush Wine
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Drinking Kiddush Wine and then Drinking Later in Meal
If you drank any amount of kiddush wine (or grape juice), you do not say borei pri ha'gafen over wine or grape juice later in the meal (but you may have to say ha'tov v'ha'meitiv if the wine is better than the kiddush wine).
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Borei Pri HaGafen after Drinking Kiddush Wine and Hesech Da'at
If you said or heard the blessing borei pri ha'gafen, finished drinking had hesech da'at, and then want to make a new blessing over the remaining wine in the cup, see Borei Pri HaGafen: Saying Again.
Note Although you may say a new borei pri ha'gafen on wine (or grape juice) that you left off drinking and returned to finish after hesech da'at, you may do so only as a simple blessing, not as kiddush (for how to make kiddush on same wine, see next halacha).
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Making New Kiddush after Drinking Kiddush Wine
To say borei pri ha'gafen as a new kiddush on the same wine, you must add at least one drop of new wine to the cup, if you have drunk any of the wine directly from that cup.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Borei Pri HaGafen after Not Drinking Kiddush Wine
Jewish Festivals: Borei Pri HaGafen after Not Drinking Kiddush Wine
You must say borei pri ha'gafen if you want to drink wine (or grape juice) after you heard kiddush and then:
  • Spoke without drinking any amount of kiddush beverage, and/or  
  • Spoke before the kiddush leader drank at least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) of wine (or grape juice) from his cup, and/or
  • Heard someone make kiddush over a she'hakol, even if you drank from that cup.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Standing or Sitting
Kiddush Standing or Sitting
Standing or sitting while drinking wine or other beverage for kiddush (or havdala) is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh)
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): What To Use
Bagels for HaMotzi
You may use two bagels for the two loaves (lechem mishneh), even though they are already sliced most of the way through, if you can pick up each bagel by its slightly smaller half and the larger half does not fall off.
Crackers for HaMotzi
The minimum volume of a cracker or crispbread (such as Ryvita or Wasa) that may be used for lechem mishneh is 1 oz. (30 ml).
Other Foods for HaMotzi
You may not substitute other foods for the two loaves (lechem mishneh). You may not, for example, use two apples or two cans of fish.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): How Much May Be Missing
How Much Challa May Be Missing
Less than 1/48th missing is still considered a whole loaf. So if you only have two challot (or other loaves of bread) for a Jewish festival, you might be able to use one loaf twice:
  • Wash your hands,
  • Say ha'motzi,
  • Cut off a piece that is less than 1/48th of the loaf, and
  • Eat it.
Reason You may consider the remainder of that loaf as still being a full loaf and you may re-use it for your Jewish festival morning meal.
Note If you have pieces of bread or other mezonot, you may:
  • Cut off less than 1/48th of the loaf,
  • Eat the additional pieces of bread to make a total of at least 1.9 fl. oz., and then
  • Re-use the same loaf for Jewish festival morning.

Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): How To Cover
White Challa Cover Above and Below
As on Shabbat, on Jewish festivals you should place a white cover above and another below the challot to remind us of the layers of dew and “mun” in the desert that the Israelites ate for 40 years.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): How To Wash and Bless
How To Wash for HaMotzi
To view all halachot related to washing for ha'motzi, see HaMotzi: Washing Hands.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves: (Lechem Mishneh): What HaMotzi Covers
What HaMotzi Covers
See Which Foods HaMotzi Covers.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): How To Cut
Mark the Challa
Mark in the bread with a knife where you will cut before ha'motzi
Note It is customary to just make a mark on the challa.  You may cut almost all of the way through, but you must be able to pick up the bread by the small end and have it hold the big end up.
Cut Upper Loaf for Jewish Festivals
For Jewish festivals, cut the upper loaf at night and day.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): Salt
Why Dip Challa in Salt
Before eating bread (at any time, not just on Shabbat or Jewish festivals), the bread should be dipped in some salt. This makes it taste better and makes it like a sacrifice (which had salt added to it).
Note You may sprinkle salt on the bread instead, but kabbala recommends dipping.
Eating before Kiddush
Eating a Full Meal before Jewish Festival
See Appetite for Jewish Festival Dinner.
Eating from Start of Jewish Festival until Kiddush
Once the Jewish festival begins for you—either at sunset or before (such as if you lit Jewish festival candles)--you may not eat or drink before hearing kiddushWomen and girls may make kiddush soon after lighting candles.
Jewish Festivals: Dinner
Jewish Festivals: Blessing the Children
Jewish Festivals: Blessing the Children
See Blessing the Children/Birkat HaBanim.
Jewish Festivals: Evening Kiddush
Jewish Festivals: Evening Kiddush
To fulfill the two requirements for Jewish festival evening kiddush:
  1. Make Kiddush
    Say, or hear, the three Jewish festival evening kiddush blessings/segments:
    1. Borei pri ha'gafen (if on wine or grape juice—preferred option), OR
      Ha'motzi (on two challot if you have no wine or grape juice, since no chamar medina is allowed for Jewish festival evening kiddush; see Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Challot for Kiddush) AND
    2. Asher bachar banu mi kol am.... mekadeish Yisrael v'hazmanim, AND
    3. She'hecheyanu on all Jewish festival nights, except the last two nights of Passover.  So say she'hecheyanu on:
      • Both nights of Rosh Hashana (in or outside of Eretz Yisrael),
      • First two nights of Passover (1 night in Eretz Yisrael),
      • Both nights of Shavuot (1 night in Eretz Yisrael),
      • First two nights of Sukkot (1 night in Eretz Yisrael), and
      • Nights of Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (same day in Eretz Yisrael).
      Note There is never any requirement on an indvidual to drink kiddush wine (except at the Passover seder), but the kiddush wine must be drunk by one or more persons.
      Note A woman who had said she'hecheyanu when she lit the Jewish festival candles does NOT say she'hecheyanu again if she makes kiddush for herself, even when making kiddush at the Passover seder.
      Note There is no need to eat a new fruit after saying she'hecheyanu on the second night of  Shavuot, Passover, or Sukkot. This is not comparable to Rosh Hashana, since the second festival night was instituted due to uncertainty of the actual date of the holiday, while Rosh Hashana is considered to be one single, long day.
  2. Establish a halachic “meal” (kovei'a se'uda).
    For how to establish a halachic meal, see Introduction to Jewish Festival “Eating a Meal” Requirements.
Note For evening kiddush, the custom is to go straight to the meal without delay (with no mezonot or snacking first).  B'di'avad if you snacked, it is still OK.
Note At night on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat), you may not say kiddush at a place where you will not eat your evening meal (even if you will hear or say kiddush again at the place where you will eat the meal).
Jewish Festivals: Day
Jewish Festivals: Day: Prayers
Jewish Festivals: Shacharit: Eating
Jewish Festivals: Shacharit: Eating Before
Eating before Making Jewish Festival Kiddush
As on Shabbat, you may eat non-mezonot and non-bread food before praying Jewish festival shacharit and without making kiddush, in order to avoid hunger or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Women and Minimum Prayer before Jewish Festival Kiddush
The minimum prayer that a woman should say on Jewish festival (or Shabbat) morning before saying kiddush and eating some food is birchot ha'shachar.
Eating before Jewish Festival Midday
As on Shabbat, don't fast on Jewish festivals (except Yom Kippur!) past halachic midday.
  • If you will not finish shacharit before halachic midday, you should eat or drink earlier in the day, even before you begin shacharit—water can be sufficient for this purpose.
  • If you will finish shacharit, but not musaf, by halachic midday:
    • Finish shacharit,
    • Make kiddush,
    • Eat some mezonot, and then
    • Return to say musaf.
Jewish Festivals: Shacharit: Eating After
Eating Only after Jewish Festival Kiddush
As on Shabbat, once you have said the amida of Jewish festival shacharit, you may not eat any food until you have said (or heard) kiddush and finished kiddush requirements by either drinking 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) of wine/grape juice or eating at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of mezonot or bread.
Jewish Festival Day: Yizkor
Jewish Festival Day: Reason for Yizkor
Yizkor on Yom Kippur serves as a type of elevation for the souls of dead people.
Jewish Festival Day: When To Say Yizkor
Yizkor is not required to be said at all, but it is the custom in most places. Yizkor is normally said on Yom Kippur (and the final day of Passover, the second day of Shavuot and on Shmini Atzeret), when many people attend the synagogue prayer services.
Yizkor may be said anytime you wish—even when it is not a Jewish festival--and does not require a minyan.
Jewish Festivals: Musaf
Jewish Festivals: Musaf: Additions for Sacrifices
Jewish Festivals: Musaf: Additions for Sacrifices: Sukkot
In the amida of musaf for Sukkot, there is a different line added about the sacrifices for each day.
Jewish Festivals: Musaf: Additions for Sacrifices: Sukkot: Outside Eretz Yisrael
Since two days of Jewish festival are observed outside of Eretz Yisrael, read the lines for the sacrifice for both days that might have been the correct day.
Exception On second day of Sukkot, repeat the same lines said on the first day.
Example On the 4th day of Sukkot (the 2nd day of chol ha'moed), say the lines for the 3rd day and 4th day. On Shimini Atzeret, say only the lines for Shmini Atzeret.
Jewish Festivals: Musaf: Additions for Sacrifices: Sukkot: In Eretz Yisrael
In Eretz Yisrael, read only the line for the actual (correct) day.
Note After the lines about the sacrifices, say u'minchatam v'niskeichem.  If you are outside of Eretz Yisrael, you will need to say u'minchatam v'niskeichem twice:
  • Say the line for the prior day's sacrifices and then say u'minchatam v'niskeichem.
  • Then say the line for the sacrifices for the day you are at and, again, say u'minchatam v'niskeichem.

Jewish Festival Lunch
Jewish Festivals: Daytime Kiddush
Jewish Festivals: Daytime Kiddush
To fulfill the two requirements for Jewish festival daytime kiddush:
  1. Say, or hear, at least #b and #c of these Jewish festival daytime kiddush blessings/segments:
    a) Eileh mo'adei Adonai mikra'ei kodesh asher tikri'u otam b'mo'adam.
    Note It is not a universal custom to say the above sentence.
    b) Va'yidaber Moshe eht mo'adei Adonai el bnei yisrael.
    Note It IS a universal custom to say the above sentence. AND
    c) Borei pri ha'gafen (if on wine or grape juice), OR
    She'hakol nihiyeh bi'dvaro (if on other beverage/chamar medina).
    Note For Jewish festival (or Saturday) lunch and havdala, you may use any beverage (chamar medina) commonly drunk for social purposes (not just for thirst) in the country in which you are saying kiddush (say the blessing she'hakol instead of borei pri ha'gafen where appropriate).
    Note There is never any requirement on an indvidual to drink kiddush wine (except at the Passover seder), but the kiddush wine must be drunk by one or more persons.
  2. Establish a halachic “meal” (kovei'a se'uda).
    You must establish the halachic meal required for kiddush shortly after hearing Jewish festival morning kiddush. See How To Fulfill Eating Jewish Festival Second Meal.
    Note If you make Jewish festival morning kiddush on any beverage except wine or grape juice, you must also eat mezonot or bread to establish the kiddush meal. If you do not want to eat bread or mezonot, only drinking 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of wine or grape juice within 30 seconds will fulfill all of the requirements for kiddushIf you have not fulfilled the requirements for kiddush, you may not eat other foods, such as fruit or fish at a kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Second Meal
How To Fulfill Eating Jewish Festival Second Meal
You must eat a second meal on Jewish festival (or Shabbat) day with 1.9 fl. oz., or 56 ml, of bread--even if you already said ha'motzi and ate bread at kiddush.
Note There is no essential time limit for eating the second meal, but it must be before you get distracted (hesech da'at). Otherwise, you must hear kiddush again and drink wine (or grape juice) or eat bread/mezonot before eating anything.
Jewish Festivals: Ending
Jewish Festivals: Ending: When They End
Jewish Festivals: When Is
Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) end at “dark”: when three medium-sized stars are visible overhead.
Note When stars appear in the west (these are “large stars”), medium-sized stars should be visible overhead and the Jewish festival (or Shabbat) will be over.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Before Havdala
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Before Havdala: Baruch HaMavdil
Say baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol (without saying God's name!) if:
  • It is already “dark” (you can see three medium-size stars--tzeit ha'kochavim), and
  • You want to end the Jewish festival (and Shabbat) before saying ma'ariv's amida or havdala.
Note Saying this formula allows you to do melacha, but you may not eat or drink until you have said or heard havdala.
Note Men must still say the amida and men and women must say or hear havdala later even if they said baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol. For how late you may say havdala after a Jewish festival, see Jewish Festival Havdala at Night or Next Day.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Before Havdala: Baruch HaMavdil and Birkat HaMazon
Saying Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol after dark at the end of a Jewish festival or of Rosh Hashana does not affect the additions you will then say in birkat ha'mazon.
Situation On a Jewish festival afternoon, you washed your hands, said ha'motzi, and started eating.  It is now dark and the end of the Jewish festival.
What To Do You may say Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol and do melacha, and then
  • Continue to eat your meal, or
  • Say birkat ha'mazon INCLUDING ya'aleh v'yavo and ha'rachaman hu yanchileinu yom she'kulo tov.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Before Havdala: Ata Chonantanu
As on Shabbat, if you forgot to say ata chonantanu after Jewish festivals, you do not need to repeat the amida.  But, if you then ate food before saying havdala, you must repeat the amida including ata chonantanu.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: When To Say
Jewish Festival Havdala at Night or Next Day
Say Jewish festival havdala at night.  If this is impossible, say it the next day but only until sunset on the day after the Jewish festival.
Note This is different from havdala after Shabbat!
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Who Must Say/Hear
Men and Women Must Say/Hear Havdala
The following must each hear or say havdala for themselves:
  • Men and boys 13 years old and up, and
  • Women and girls 12 years old and up.
Note As on Shabbat, any male Jew above 13 years old and any female Jew above 12 years old may say Jewish festival havdala for himself/herself and for anyone else.
Note A husband's or father's hearing havdala at synagogue does not cover his family's obligation to hear havdala.  He may say havdala for his wife and children even if he fulfilled his personal havdala requirement at the synagogue. (Men who say havdala for their families normally intend not to be covered by the synagogue's havdala).
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: What To Use
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: No Candle or Spices
For Jewish festival havdala, use only wine (or a substitute, chamar medina, beverage); NO candle or spices (unless the Jewish festival also coincided with Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Beverage
Wine or grape juice is the preferred beverage for havdala, but you may use any common beverage (chamar medina) that is drunk for social reasons.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Filling the Cup
You must pour at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml--a revi'it) of wine or other beverage into the havdala cup--this is halacha.  However, to symbolize that we are blessed (siman bracha) with wealth, overfill the cup (non-binding custom).
Note Do not drink the overflow, to show that we are so rich that we do not need the spilled beverage.
Note Do not overfill a cup containing shmita wine!
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: How Much To Drink
To fulfill the commandment of havdala (or kiddush), the person making kiddush must drink at least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) within 30 seconds from the kiddush cup. However, drinking at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml--a revi'it) from the havdala cup within 30 seconds allows you to say bracha achrona.  
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Who Drinks the Beverage
For men: No one should drink the havdala beverage except the person saying havdala. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
For women: This custom does NOT apply to women. Women who say havdala for themselves may give their havdala beverage to someone else to drink.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Standing or Sitting
Havdala Standing or Sitting
Sitting or standing while drinking havdala (or kiddush) beverage is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Jewish Festivals: Permitted/Forbidden Actions
Jewish Festivals: Acquisitions
Jewish Festivals: Acquisitions
You may not acquire items (kinyan) on Jewish festivals unless they are needed for that Jewish festival or for a mitzva. The classic example is bringing food or wine to a house for Jewish festival lunch, which the house owner acquires on the Jewish festival for the Jewish festival. Other permissible kinyan on Jewish festivals is giving:
  • Siddur, machzor, or chumash to use on that day.
  • Permissible medicine for use on that day. 
On bringing mail or a newspaper into your house on Jewish festivals, see Jewish Festivals: Bringing Mail inside House  and Jewish Festivals: Bringing Newspaper inside House.
Jewish Festivals: Animals
Jewish Festivals: Trapping Animals
You may not trap animals on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Releasing Trapped Wild Animal
As on Shabbat, on Jewish festivals you may release a wild animal that is trapped in a trap or cage by opening the door or gate, but you may not move or lift the cage.
Jewish Festivals: Feeding Trapped Wild Animal
You may not feed wild animals on Jewish festivals.  But if you intend to keep the animal, you MUST feed it.
Jewish Festivals: Air Conditioners
Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Air Conditioner Louvers
As on Shabbat, you may adjust air conditioner louvers on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Air Conditioner Temperatures
On Jewish festivals, you may:
  • Lower the temperature when an air conditioner compressor is running, and
  • Raise the temperature when the compressor is off.
Note You may do so ONLY with an analog control; not with a digital control. 
Reason Grama is permissible on Jewish festivals (but not on Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Bathing
Jewish Festivals: Showering
It is forbidden to shower on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Blotting Hair
You may blot your hair with a towel on Jewish festivals as long as you don't squeeze or wring out your hair.
Jewish Festivals: Bioluminescence
Jewish Festivals: Creating Bioluminescent Light
You may not create bioluminescent light, as with glowsticks, on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Books
Jewish Festivals: Marking Pages in Books
You may mark pages in a book, whether secular or holy, on Jewish festivals by:
  • Putting slips of paper in the book (but only if the slips were torn before the Jewish festival began), or
  • Bending the corners.
Jewish Festivals: Braiding Hair
Jewish Festivals: Braiding Hair
As on Shabbat, you may not braid (or unbraid) hair on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Brushing Teeth
Jewish Festivals: Water, Tooth Powder, Toothwashing Liquid
You may use water, tooth powder, and toothwashing liquid on Jewish festivals.  But, to avoid squeezing the toothbrush bristles, you must put the water or toothwashing liquid into your mouth and not on the brush.
Jewish Festivals: Flossing Teeth
You may floss your teeth on Jewish festivals as long as your gums do not bleed.
Jewish Festivals: Cutting Floss
You may not cut floss on Jewish festivals, so it is best to cut the floss before the festival starts. 
Note Even if you did not cut the floss ahead of time, you may still pull out a length of floss and clean your teeth (but be careful not to cut off the floss when you are finished.)
Jewish Festivals: Businesses
Jewish Festivals: Business Ownership
Jewish Festivals: Business Ownership
A business whose sole or major owner is Jewish may not be operated on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), even by non-Jewish employees. There may be possibilities to allow operation by relinquishing majority control, but the issues are complex and rabbinic guidance is essential.
Jewish Festivals: Internet Business
Jewish Festivals: Internet Business
Running a business that accepts orders and payments over the internet during Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) is complicated. The main issue is collecting payments. A rabbi should be consulted for specific cases.
Jewish Festivals: Selling Tickets for Flights
Jewish Festivals: Selling Tickets for Flights
If you are a travel agent, you may sell airline tickets during a weekday to a Jew who will fly on a Jewish festival (even though Jews are not allowed to fly--except in some emergencies).
Jewish Festivals: Children
Jewish Festivals: Children and Melacha
Jewish Festivals: Children and Melacha
As on Shabbat, you may not have a child, even younger than gil chinuch, do melacha for you on a Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Children's Games
Jewish Festivals: Ball Playing
Jewish Festivals and Ball Playing in Yard or Eruv
Playing ball is not forbidden on Jewish festivals, as long as the Jewish festival does not coincide with Shabbat (in which case, it is not forbidden to play ball in an enclosed private yard, but it is not in the spirit of Jewish festivals or Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals and Retrieving Ball
You may retrieve a ball or other item that has fallen into a bush on a Jewish festival, but only if you can get it without moving the bush.
Jewish Festivals: Card Playing
Jewish Festivals: Cards If No Gambling or Melacha
Playing cards is not forbidden on Jewish festivals as long as you do not gamble or do melacha. As on Shabbat, you may sort a deck of cards into suits.
Note However, playing cards is not in the spirit of Jewish festivals (or Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Removing Unwanted Cards
Unlike on Shabbat, on a Jewish festival you may select (boreir) and remove unwanted cards (such as Jokers).
Jewish Festivals: Stickers
Jewish Festivals: Stickers
Children may apply or remove stickers for decoration or “jewelry” if the stickers and earrings are likely to come off in less than 24 hours.
Jewish Festivals: Clothing
Jewish Festivals: Removing Dirt from Clothing
Jewish Festivals: Non-Embedded Dirt
You may remove non-embedded dirt or hair from the surface of clothing on Jewish festivals. You may not remove dust or burrs and anything that penetrates the surface of the garment.
Jewish Festivals: Folding Clothes
Jewish Festivals: Folding Clothes on Existing Crease
Don't fold clothes (including a talit) on an existing crease on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Folding Clothes on New Crease
You may fold clothes on Jewish festivals by making a new crease, but only if there is already an existing one on the garment. If there is not a crease from before you used the garment, you may not make one.
Reason This avoids smoothing out clothing (a forbidden action on Jewish festivals and Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Removing Tags from Clothing
Jewish Festivals: Removing Tags from Clothing
You may not cut a tag off clothes on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Coloring (Tzovei'a)
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Coloring (Tzovei'a)
Since wool and/or leather was dyed for the Tabernacle in the desert, similar actions are forbidden today on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat). Any action that causes one item or substance to change its color may be forbidden, even if it is not related to dyeing wool or leather.
Jewish Festivals: Coloring (Tzovei'a): Food
You may not add a substance, whether food or other, in order to color food on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat). You may add food to other food even if it will cause the other food to become colored as long as that is not your intention.
Jewish Festivals: Coloring (Tzovei'a): Cloth

You may wipe a stain off of your face or hands onto a cloth or piece of paper if you do it to clean your face or hands on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), but not if you want to color the cloth or paper.

Jewish Festivals: Couriers and Packages
Jewish Festivals: Shipment that Arrives on Festival
You may not send a shipment--such as Fedex or another express delivery service--to arrive on Jewish festivals.  However, you may tell the shipper that it is OK with you if it is delivered at night after the festival.
Jewish Festivals: Cut Flowers
Jewish Festivals: Putting Cut Flowers in Water
You may not put cut flowers in a vase or other utensil (with water in it) on Jewish festivals.

Jewish Festivals: Adding Water to Cut Flowers
You may add water to cut flowers in a utensil on Jewish festivals as long as there are no unopened buds that will open on the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Moving Cut Flowers
You may move cut flowers in a vase or other utensil on Jewish festivals if they were in the vase or utensil since before the Jewish festival started.
Note If there are still some unopened buds on the stems, you may not put the cut flowers into direct sunlight.
Jewish Festivals: Doors
Jewish Festivals: Replacing Doors
You may not replace a door on its hinges and you may not replace a sliding door onto its track on Jewish festivals.
Reason This is due to the melacha of boneh (building).
Jewish Festivals: Electricity
Jewish Festivals: Turning Off Electrical Devices
You may not turn off or disconnect an operating electrical device (such as an alarm, appliance, light, oven, or any machinery) on Jewish festivals, even using a shinui and even if the noise will prevent you from sleeping. You may ask a non-Jew to turn it off, but you may not ask a Jew, not even a child below bar/bat mitzva age.
Note If the device catches on fire, you may call the fire department or unplug it. However, there must be an actual danger or actual fire in order for you to disconnect it yourself.  You may not disconnect the device if there is only a chance that it will catch fire, unless an indirect means (grama) is possible (in which case, it would be permissible; consult a rabbi).
Jewish Festivals: Electric Eyes
On Jewish festivals, when walking into the path of an electric eye:
  • You may walk into one that prevents a door from closing.
  • You may not walk into one that causes the door to open.
Jewish Festivals: Elevators/Escalators
Jewish Festivals: Riding Elevators
You may ride an elevator on Jewish festivals if:
  • The elevator stops at all floors, or
  • A non-Jew pushes the button in order to ride the elevator himself.  But:
    • You may only get off on the floor he or she has stopped at (he or she may not push a button for a different floor for you).
    • You must enter the elevator while the door is already opened but has not yet begun to close (since your presence keeps the door open but does not cause it to open).
Note You may not ride an elevator at all if a Jew pushes the button to any floor.
Jewish Festival: Riding Escalators
You may ride escalators on Jewish festivals if they run constantly and are not controlled by a foot treadle or an electric eye.
Jewish Festivals: Exercise
Jewish Festivals: Strengthening
You may not exercise on Jewish festivals to strengthen your body. You may exercise on Jewish festivals for enjoyment, for socializing, or other fun purposes if:
  • No melacha is involved, and
  • It does not appear to be for healing (refu'a) or health purposes.
You may run on Jewish festivals if you like to run. You may not run on Jewish festivals if you don't like running but would do it to lose weight or to get in shape.
Jewish Festivals: Trapeze
You may swing and fly on a trapeze on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Roller Blading
You may roller blade on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festival: Swimming
You may not swim on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festival: Weight-Lifting
You may change weights on barbells or on a completely mechanical (no electrical parts; no timers or indicators) weight machine on Jewish festivals but only for enjoyment, not for exercise.
Jewish Festivals: Stretching
You may stretch on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) to make yourself more comfortable but not if it appears that you are doing it as exercise for health.
Jewish Festivals: Flashlights
Jewish Festivals: Turning On Flashlight
You may not turn a flashlight on or off after sunset at the beginning a Jewish festival (until the holiday is over).
Jewish Festivals: Flashlight On before Festival
If you turn on a flashlight before a Jewish festival starts, you may carry the flashlight with you if you need the light.
Jewish Festivals: Food Preparation
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Food Preparation
Introduction to Jewish Festivals and Food Preparation
Food preparation forbidden on Jewish festivals includes these forbidden melachot:
  • Preparing soil for planting (choreish)
  • Causing plants to grow (zorei'a)
  • Harvesting (kotzeir)
  • Gathering (mi'ameir)
  • Threshing (dash; such as milking a cow into clean container or squeezing juice for drinking)
  • Winnowing (zoreh)
  • Selecting (boreir) (for exceptions, see Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Selecting/Boreir)
  • Grinding (tochein) (Grinding may be OK with a shinu'i; ask a rabbi for specific cases)
  • Sifting (merakeid).
However, you may do all food preparation necessary for baking or cooking food for that day--from kneading dough (kneading, or lash) to cooking and baking (ofeh) from an existing flame.
Note You may not use electric appliances to knead dough and you may not turn on an electric oven.
Jewish Festivals: Checking for Bugs
Checking Product for Bugs on Jewish Festivals

You may check produce for bugs on Jewish festivals.  You may remove the bug but not by hand.

ExampleYou may rinse a bug off produce.
Note You may not kill bugs on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat). To do something that is certain to kill the bug is forbidden; if might not kill the bug, it is OK.
Jewish Festivals: Cooking
Jewish Festivals: Existing Flame
Jewish Festivals: Cooking from an Existing Flame
You may cook food on all Jewish festivals (except Yom Kippur or when they coincide with Shabbat) as long as the fire, oven, or other cooking appliance:
  • Has been on since before the Jewish festival began, OR
  • Is lit during the Jewish festival from an existing flame, such as from a pilot light or yahrzeit candle lit before the Jewish festival began.
Jewish Festivals: Asking Non-Jew To Turn on a Stove or Oven
Jewish Festivals: Asking Non-Jew To Turn on a Stove or Oven
You may directly ask a non-Jew to turn on a stove or oven for you.
NOTE Be careful about bishul akum problems if a non-Jew will then be cooking food for Jews on that stove or oven.
Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Stove/Oven Temperature Controls
Jewish Festivals: Digital-Display Devices
Digital-Display Ovens and Stoves on Jewish Festivals
You may not adjust digital-display ovens and stoves (and also refrigerators or other electronic devices) on Jewish festivals unless they were designed for Jewish festival use.
Jewish Festivals: Raising/Lowering Flames/Heat
Jewish Festivals: Raising Flames/Heat
On Jewish festivals, you may adjust (analog-only) temperature controls of gas and electric stoves and ovens UP when the heating element is ON, as verified by an indicator light or some other means.
Jewish Festivals: Lowering Flames/Heat
On Jewish festivals, you may adjust (analog-only) temperature controls of gas and electric stoves and ovens DOWN but ONLY to prevent the food's getting overcooked or burnt (not for convenience or to save money). One permitted way to lower a burner temperature is to put a pot of water on the burner and lower the flame so the water does not boil away (but you must use some of the heated water during the holiday!).

Note For an electric stove or oven, you may only adjust the temperature DOWN when the heating element is OFF, as shown by an indicator light.
Note An analog control used on Jewish festivals must allow continuous changes to the temperature:  if an analog control has discreet settings, it may not be used on Jewish festivals!
Jewish Festivals: Cooking on First Day for Second Day
Jewish Festivals: Cooking on First Day for Second Day
You may not cook on the first day of a Jewish festival for the second day. But you may cook enough food for both days in the same pot, even l'chatchila (but not bein ha'shmashot). You must eat at least a normal-sized portion before sunset on the first Jewish festival day.
Jewish Festivals: Eruv Tavshilin
Jewish Festivals: Personal Eruv Tavshilin
One person per household should make an eruv tavshilin in order to allow cooking on a Jewish festival for the next day, if the next day is Shabbat.  The person sets aside something cooked and something baked and says a formula (which can be found in most siddurs).
Note An eruv tavshilin made by one person covers everyone in that household, including guests staying over for that Jewish festival--even if he or she did not intend it to cover anyone else.
Jewish Festivals: Eating Eruv Tavshilin Food
You are not required to eat food set aside for an eruv tavshilin, but the custom is to eat it for se'uda shlishit.
Jewish Festivals: Rabbi's Eruv Tavshilin
If you forgot to make an eruv tavshilin, you may rely on the eruv tavshilin said by the local rabbi only once in your lifetime.
Jewish Festivals: Freezing
Jewish Festivals: Making Ice Cubes
You may fill an ice cube tray on Jewish festivals if you intend to use the ice cubes on the same day.
Jewish Festivals: Grinding
Grinding on Jewish Festivals: How Finely You May Grind
You may not grind, grate, or even finely chop or dice food on Jewish festivals. You may not use a garlic press on Jewish festivals.
The minimum size before violating the melacha of tochein varies by the type of food. The resulting pieces must be somewhat larger than the size you would normally use.
Jewish Festivals: Salting
Jewish Festivals: Salting Food
You may not salt certain foods, whether cooked or raw, on Jewish festivals if the:
  • Foods have a shell, such as corn kernels (on or off of the cob), beans, peas;
  • Salt has not been heated previously (such as during salt processing) and the food you are salting is hot (over 120° F, or 49° C); or
  • Salt will materially change the flavor of the food, especially if it causes a chemical change, as when salting cut or chopped onions or salting tomatoes.
    Note You may dip the tomato or other food into salt using your hand as long as you eat the food immediately afterwards.
Note If the food has oil in it, you may add salt even if the food contains onions or has a shell.
Note Even a thin layer of oil will exempt the salt.
Note You may pour salt into a liquid or a liquid onto salt, but you may not make a saturated salt solution on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Selecting/Boreir
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Selecting/Boreir
Issues of boreir are almost always d'oraita, not d'rabanan, and therefore we are stringent in applying restrictions concerning boreir.
Unlike on Shabbat (when you must remove some good along with the bad so as not to violate the melacha of boreir), on Jewish festivals you may remove the bad from the good if it is easier to take the undesired food from the desired food.

Desired from Undesired
You may select desired food from undesired (or inedible) substances if you follow these two rules:
1. Cannot Use Specialized Separating Utensil
    Don't use a utensil--such as a slotted spoon, peeler, or sieve--that is specialized
    for separating:
  • Food from other food, or
  • Food from other substances.
    Note You may remove dirt from a carrot's surface by scraping the peel with a knife (a tool not specialized for separating food), but not by using a peeler.
    Exception As on Shabbat, an action necessary to eat a food normally (derech achila) does not violate the prohibition of boreir. So you may peel a food that is normally separated from its peel or shell in order to be eaten, as long as you do not use a specialized instrument to do so.
  • You may peel an orange by hand, with or without a knife.
  • You may remove the shells from peanuts by hand.
  • You may remove the shell from a hard-boiled egg by hand.
2. Do This Shortly before You Eat the Food
   Prepare the food soon before it will be eaten.
     Note       You may prepare the food as much in advance as you would normally prepare a meal which you will eat--even as much as several hours.
On Jewish festivals, you may:
  • Remove fish bones from fish while you are eating the fish or just before eating it.
  • Cut open a melon such as a cantaloupe and remove any seeds normally.
Jewish Festivals: Separating Good Food from Bad in Your Mouth
You may separate food inside your mouth while eating, even if you remove the bad from the good, on Jewish festivals (it is not boreir.)
Jewish Festivals: Salt Shaker with Rice
You may not, due to boreir, use a salt shaker into which rice has been added (in order to keep the salt dry).
Jewish Festivals: Lemon Seeds
You may remove lemon seeds (pits) from food, such as after you have squeezed out some lemon juice, but not with a specialized utensil such as a sieve or slotted spoon.
Jewish Festivals: Washing-Draining Food
You may wash and drain olives and other canned fruits and vegetables on Jewish festivals (it is not boreir unless the food in the can is dirty).
Jewish Festivals: Dropping Unwanted Food
When you have food mixed with non-desired substances, you may remove the non-desired ones by picking up the entire mixture and letting the non-desired elements fall away.
Jewish Festivals: Separating Challa
Jewish Festivals: Challa Not Separated before Festival
On Jewish festivals, you may not separate challa from loaves baked before the festival, as follows:
  • In Eretz Yisrael, you may not eat bread from which challa was not separated if required (for more details, see Separating the Challa Portion and Challa Separation) until after the Jewish festival ends and you have separated the challa.
  • Outside Eretz Yisrael, you may:
    • Leave one loaf until after the Jewish festival,
    • Eat as much as you want of the remaining loaves, and then
    • Separate the challa from the loaf after havdala.
Note If the bread was baked on a Jewish festival, you may separate challa on the Jewish festival.
Note This is true even for loaves that came from dough of more than 2.5 lbs of flour.
Jewish Festivals: Squeezing Juice
Jewish Festivals: Squeezing a Lemon
As on Shabbat, on Jewish festivals you may squeeze a lemon (or other fruit) onto solid food—or mostly solid, even wet, food--that you will eat right away, but not into a container or into a liquid.
Jewish Festivals: Fans
Jewish Festivals: Moving a Fan
You may pick up and move a fan on Jewish festivals if you need it elsewhere.
Note You may not plug in the fan or unplug it on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Fluids on Skin
Jewish Festivals: Fluids on Skin
For using fluids on skin during Jewish festivals,  see Jewish Festivals: Sunscreen.
Jewish Festivals: Glasses
Jewish Festivals: Eye Glasses
You may wash reading glasses or sunglasses using liquid soap on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Grama
Jewish Festivals: Temperature Controls and Grama
On Jewish festivals, “grama” (indirect action) is permissible. For adjusting temperature controls on Jewish festivals, see Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Air Conditioner Temperatures and Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Heater.
Jewish Festivals: Hair/Beards
Jewish Festivals: Hair Brushing
You may brush your hair on a Jewish festival, but only if the brush bristles bend easily. You may not use stiff bristles or combs since they might pull out some hair. 
Note Using a special brush for Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) is recommended but not required.
Jewish Festival: Hair Cuts/Shaving
You may not have your hair cut and you may not shave on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Heaters
Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Heater
On Jewish festivals, you may adjust a heater with an analog thermostat:
  • UP when running, and
  • DOWN or OFF when not running.
Reason This is due to grama, which is permissible on Jewish festivals (but not on Shabbat).
Note You may not adjust a digital thermostat.
Jewish Festivals: Moving Electric Heater
You may pick up and move an electric heater that is ON on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) only if:
  • You need the heat elsewhere, or
  • You need to use the space where the heater is standing.
Note You may not unplug it.
Jewish Festivals: Moving Flame Heater
Unlike on Shabbat, you may move a kerosene or other heater that has a flame burning on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Insects
Jewish Festivals: Insects that May Carry Diseases
You may kill mosquitoes and other insects on Jewish festivals if they carry deadly diseases, which makes the insects a danger (sakana). You may kill insects that might carry diseases even if you do not know for certain.
Jewish Festivals: Biting or Stinging Insects
If insects such as bees or non-diseased mosquitoes don't carry diseases but they bite or sting you, you may kill them on Jewish festivals, as well as trapping them or chasing them away with bug spray. Unlike on Shabbat, on a Jewish festival you may kill insects that are a nuisance, such as gnats or flies. These halachalot apply to all Jewish festivals unless they fall on Shabbat (or are Yom Kippur).
Jewish Festivals: Knots
Jewish Festivals: Permanent Knots
You may not tie permanent knots on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat).
Note A permanent knot is a knot intended to remain tied for at least 24 hours. Any strings you connect on Jewish festivals must be able to easily come undone, such as a bow.
Note Since opinions differ on what constitutes a permanent knot, we do not even tie knots that are intended to be untied, such as a double figure-eight knot.
Jewish Festivals: Double Bows
You may not tie a double bow on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: LCDs/LEDs
Jewish Festivals: Changing LCD/LED
As on Shabbat, you may not use any item on a Jewish festival that will cause an LCD or LED to form letters or change an LCD display.
Jewish Festivals: Laundry
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Laundry
You may not wash or hang up wet laundry on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat).  The halachot for drying laundry depend on whether you use a clothesline or a dryer:
Jewish Festivals: Laundry: Clothesline
You may only take down laundry on Jewish festivals if it was dry before sunset at the start of the festival, and only if you don't:
  • Transfer the laundry from one halachic domain to another (hotza'a), or
  • Give the impression that the laundry had been washed on the Jewish festival (mar'it ayin).
If laundry on a clothesline is still wet at sunset before the festival, the laundry is muktza and you may not take it down or use it during the festival. This is different from the case of a dryer.
Reason On the clothes line, there is no certainty that the laundry will dry during the festival (it might rain, it might be cold or cloudy...), so the person may not have in mind that it will dry during the festival.
Jewish Festivals: Laundry: Dryer
Laundry in a dryer (even if it was wet at sunset) that was turned on before sunset beginning the Jewish festival (or Shabbat) is not muktza, even if you do not intend to wear it.  You may remove the dry laundry from the dryer on the Jewish festival as long as no light goes on.
Jewish Festival: Lights
Jewish Festivals: Redirecting Lighting Fixture
You may redirect a light fixture on Jewish festivals, but only by moving it with a stick or other object, not directly with your hand.
Note During Jewish festivals, you may not:
  • Turn this light on or off, or
  • Disconnect its plug or light bulb.
Jewish Festivals: Moving Lighting Fixture
You may directly move a lamp or other light fixture to where you need the light but you may not:
  • Plug or unplug the plug from the wall.
  • Turn the light on or off.
Jewish Festivals: Unplugging Turned-Off Light
You may unplug a turned-off light on Jewish festivals if:
  • You need the space where the lamp is situated, or
  • The cord is in the way and you want to remove it so someone doesn't trip.
Note You may not turn off the light on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Mail and Periodicals
Jewish Festivals: Bringing Mail inside House
Do not bring mail inside the house on Jewish festivals, unless it was delivered:
  • Open
Reason Most mail is muktza on Jewish festivals since it cannot be opened or used without doing melacha, AND
  • From within techum Shabbat, AND
  • By a non-Jew. 
Jewish Festivals: Bringing Newspaper inside House
You may bring a newspaper, magazine, or other reading material inside the house on Jewish festivals and read it, UNLESS it was:
  • Printed on Shabbat or a Jewish festival, OR
  • Brought from outside the techum Shabbat, OR
  • Delivered by a Jew.
If any of these conditions apply, you may not move it or use it in any way during the Jewish festival, even if all of the other conditions permit its use. You may use it once the Jewish festival is over.
Note As a policy, you may want to tell delivery services (newspapers, post office, etc.) that you do not need to have the item delivered until after dark.
Reason If delivered on the Jewish festival day, it will not be done at your request and, if it is reading material, you may read the material as long as the other conditions permit it--see above.
Note If you do not know where the reading material came from, you may not use it on the Jewish festival.
Note Although taking possession of the newspaper, magazine, or other reading material is “acquisition” (kinyan), you may do so since you will use it on the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Makeup
Jewish Festivals: Applying Makeup
Girls and women may not put on any nail polish or makeup on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), including mascara and lipstick.
Note Regarding makeup that consists only of powder (no oil or liquid ingredients) and that comes off easily, ask your rabbi. Beware of “Shabbat makeup” that stays on longer than normal makeup but is forbidden to be applied on Shabbat or Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Removing Makeup
Girls and women may remove makeup or nail polish on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Medicines
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Medicines
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Medicines
Jewish Festivals: Medicines: When To Take
Medicine generally may not be used on the d'oraita Jewish festival days.

Jewish Festivals: Medicine for Chronic Diseases
You may take medicine on Jewish festivals (whether d'oraita or d'rabanan) for:
  • Chronic diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, or
  • Any disease that affects your entire body.
Jewish Festivals: Medicine for Non-Chronic Diseases
You may take medicine on Jewish festivals for non-chronic illnesses, if skipping one day will prevent cure.  You may not take medicine for non-chronic illnesses if skipping a day will just delay your being cured (unless the disease affects your entire body--in which case, you may take the medicine).

Jewish Festivals: Medicines: When To Take: D'Oraita Festival Days
Here are the d'oraita Jewish festivals:
  • First day of Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot
  • Seventh day of Passover
  • Shmini Atzeret (8th day of Sukkot)
  • Yom Kippur
  • Both days of Rosh Hashana (even though the second day is d'rabanan).
On these days, as well as on d'rabanan Jewish festivals, you:
  • MUST take medicine whenever there is any question of a life-threatening disease or condition.
  • MAY take medicine for a condition that affects the entire body (illness, weakness, etc.). Consult a rabbi if possible.
    ExceptionYou may not smear substances on skin UNLESS the illness is life-threatening, in which case even smearing is permitted.
  • MAY use some medicines if only part of your body is affected by a non-life-threatening disease--consult a rabbi.
Jewish Festivals: Medicines: When To Take: D'Rabanan Festival Days
You make take medicines for any reason on d'rabanan Jewish festivals--even medicines not allowed on the first day of Jewish festivals--except:
  • Medicines that you smear on skin.
  • If the Jewish festival falls on Shabbat (which can only be second day of Shavuot).
Note The d'rabanan Jewish festivals are the second day of Jewish festivals except Rosh Hashana (actually, the second day of Rosh Hashana IS d'rabanan but has the status of d'oraita), plus the last day of Passover and Simchat Torah outside of Eretz Yisrael.

Jewish Festivals: Squeezing, Dabbing, Smearing
As on Shabbat, you may squeeze a tube of cream on Jewish festivals, but you might not be able to use the cream on the Jewish festival for other reasons—consult a rabbi.
Note Smearing creams or ointments is permitted only in life-threatening situations. Otherwise, you may not smear cream on skin on a Jewish festival (or Shabbat) even using a shinu'i such as using the back of your hand or a toe.
Dabbing is permitted, but only when you are permitted to use medicine. 
You may use cream on a Jewish festival (and Shabbat) by dabbing (you may ONLY dab--you may not SMEAR cream) for a bee sting if it will affect the entire body. You may not use cream for a mosquito bite, since it is only a local irritation.
Jewish Festivals: Painkillers
Jewish Festivals: When You May Take a Painkiller
You may take a painkiller on the first day of Jewish festivals if the pain:
  • Affects your entire body, or
  • Keeps you awake.
Note This also becomes the criterion for whether to take the pain killer during the daytime: if the pain you feel during the day would keep you awake if you were trying to sleep.
Note You may take painkillers without any restrictions on the second Jewish festival day (except Rosh Hashana).
Jewish Festivals: Mopping
Jewish Festivals: Mopping
You may squeegee a floor--as is commonly done in Israel--on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat)), but you may not push the water onto earth or plants.
You may mop up a local spill, but only without squeezing out the rag or mop.
Jewish Festivals: Music
Jewish Festivals: Kazoos/Whistles
You may not use a kazoo or a whistle on Jewish festivals, but you may whistle with your mouth.
Jewish Festivals: Listening to Non-Jewish Musicians
You may listen to non-Jewish musicians performing on Jewish festivals if:
  • You do not need a ticket, and
  • They are not playing particularly for Jews.
Jewish Festivals: Nail Cutting
Jewish Festivals: Having Nails Cut
You may not cut your nails or have your nails cut on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Non-Jews (Shabbat Goy)
Jewish Festivals: Asking a Non-Jew To Do Melacha D'Oraita
Although you may not normally tell a non-Jew to do melacha d'oraita on a Jewish festival, even for the purpose of doing a mitzva, the non-Jew is not forbidden from doing melacha if he/she wants to do so.
Note To save a life, even a Jew may do melacha d'oraita.
Jewish Festival: Inviting Non-Jews to Meal
You may not cook food specifically for a non-Jew on a Jewish festival. You may only invite a non-Jew for a meal on a Jewish festival if you inform him or her ahead of time that you will not cook something special for him or her.
Jewish Festivals: Opening/Sealing/Tearing
Jewish Festivals: Bottles
Jewish Festivals: Opening Plastic Bottles
You may completely open plastic bottle caps on plastic bottles on Jewish festivals (even if doing so will leave a plastic ring on the bottle), as long as it is theoretically possible to dispense the liquid without completely separating the cap from its seal.
Reason Since liquid can be poured with the cap still attached, we have not violated the Jewish festival by making a sealed bottle into a “new utensil.”
Note If you will destroy letters that are printed on the cap, you may not open the bottle.
Jewish Festivals: Opening Metal Bottle Caps
You may not open metal bottle caps on Jewish festivals if a metal ring will be left after doing so. You may break that ring or simply open the bottle before the Jewish festival (or simply open the bottle and reclose it such that when you open in again, no metal will be broken).  
Note If you need the contents for a Jewish festival (such as if it is a bottle of wine), you may ask a non-Jew to open the bottle for you.  But if it is wine that is not cooked/mevushal, the wine will become non-kosher once opened and handled by the non-Jew.
Jewish Festivals: Twist-Ties
Jewish Festivals: Non-Permanent Twist-Ties
You may twist or untwist twist ties on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), but only if you intend them to be a non-permanent seal.
Note If you will (at any time in the future—even long after the Jewish festival is over) remove the twist-tie, it is considered non-permanent.
Jewish Festivals: Pumps
Jewish Festivals: Well Water
You may use water from a well on Jewish festivals (as on Shabbat) via an automatic pump that fills a reservoir once the water level drops. But you may not operate the pump directly and you may not turn the pump on or off.
Jewish Festivals: Refrigerators
Jewish Festivals: Opening Refrigerator Door with LEDs
As on Shabbat, do not open a refrigerator door that has LEDs that illuminate when the door is opened on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Room Sensors
Jewish Festivals: Covering Motion Detectors
Situation A motion detector will light up when you move.
What To Do You must cover the detector or turn off the device before the Jewish festival begins.
Jewish Festivals: Walking Past Motion Detectors/Microwave Sensors Situation
Situation You enter a room on a Jewish festival and then find that there is a motion detector that will turn on a light or an LED.
What To Do You should not move until someone else has entered the room and the light has turned on. You may then leave while the light is still on.
Jewish Festivals: Secular Studies
Jewish Festivals: Secular Studies
Studying secular subjects on Jewish festivals is not in the spirit of the Jewish festival, but you may do so.
Jewish Festivals: Soap
Jewish Festivals: Hard Soap
You may not use hard soap on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Soap Bubbles
Causing soap bubbles from lather is not a problem on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Sponging
Jewish Festivals: Sponging
You may not wash dishes on Jewish festivals with a
  • Sponge (even if it is on a handle), 
  • Dish rag, or 
  • Scrubbing pad (pad that holds water and, when used, the water gets squeezed out).
You may use wide mesh or other items that do not normally hold water.
Jewish Festivals: Sunscreen
Jewish Festivals: Sunscreens
To use a fluid on skin on Jewish festivals, even sunscreen that may be needed to protect damaged skin, the fluid must flow without lumps and not be more viscous than honey at room temperature. Therefore, apply sunscreen only if fluid (but not a cream or thick liquid).
Jewish Festivals: Diluting Sunscreens before Festival
You may dilute sunscreen before Jewish festivals with water or alcohol, but some sunscreens may not become more fluid even with added water or alcohol.
Jewish Festivals: Talking
Jewish Festivals: Talking about Weekday Subjects

You may talk about weekday subjects on Jewish festivals if what you are discussing already happened, but you may not discuss plans to do activities that involve any type of melacha, even d'rabanan.

Jewish Festivals: Taping
Jewish Festivals: Taping Items Together
You may not tape items together, on Jewish festivals, if you intend for them to stay attached for more than 24 hours.
Jewish Festivals: Taping Card to Hotel Door
You may tape a card to a hotel room door on Jewish festivals in order to prevent it from locking you out.
Jewish Festivals: Tearing
Jewish Festivals: Tearing Paper and Plastic Wrap

You may tear paper, plastic, foil, or other wrappers around food in order to eat that food on a Jewish festival.

You may tear plastic and foil (but not paper) around napkins, plasticware, etc., that you need on Jewish festival.

But you may not:

  • Do so if you will inevitably tear through any words or pictures on the package.
  • Use scissors.
Except for wrappers for food or eating utensils, do not tear paper, foil, toilet paper, parchment paper, plastic wrap, paper towels, etc., on a Jewish festival.
Note If there is a perforation, that makes the tearing worse.
Note If you do not have any torn toilet paper, tear it is an unusual way:
  • Tear using the back of your hand.
  • Spread the toilet paper across your knees and then spread your knees apart.
Jewish Festivals: Techum Shabbat
Jewish Festival: Item from outside Techum Shabbat
You may not use, on a Jewish festival, any item that was outside the techum Shabbat when the Jewish festival began--even if a non-Jew brought it to you.
SITUATIONYou arrive on a flight but your luggage is delayed and delivered on Shabbat or a Jewish festival. Or, a package is delivered to you then.
WHAT TO DO  If the airport or delivery warehouse is within techum Shabbat, you may use whatever is brought to you. If the airport or warehouse is outside techum Shabbat, you may not use the items until enough time has passed after Shabbat (or the Jewish festival) for them to have been delivered from the airport or warehouse.

Jewish Festivals: Telephones
Jewish Festivals: Telephones and Time Zones
If a Jewish festival is over where you are, you may speak by phone to non-Jews in a place that is still observing the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Toilet
Jewish Festivals: Toilet
Flushing a toilet on a Jewish festival is not a violation of transferring from domains.
Reason The pipe is considered too small a space to be a domain.
Note If the water comes from a pump-operated well, such as in rural or remote areas, consult a rabbi.
Jewish Festivals: Trees
Jewish Festivals: Walking between Trees/Bushes
You may walk between bushes or trees on Jewish festivals, even if they are close to each other, and you may use your body to make space for yourself to walk. But you may not push the trunks or branches away using your hand.

Reason The trees are muktza.

Jewish Festivals: Water (Pool)
Jewish Festivals: Dangling Legs
On Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), you may dangle your feet or legs into a pool (or other body) of water up to whatever garment you are wearing. However, you may not let the garment get wet. 

Jewish Festivals: Water Filters
Jewish Festivals: Filtering Potable Water
You may filter plain water using a non-electrical water filter on Jewish Festivals.
Note The water must be potable before filtering.
Chol HaMoed
Introduction to Chol HaMoed
Introduction to Chol HaMoed
The intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot (between the first and last days, which are festival days) are called “chol ha'moed.”  Passover has four chol ha'moed  days outside of Eretz Yisrael and five days in Eretz Yisrael. Sukkot has five chol ha'moed days outside of Israel and six inside Eretz Yisrael.
The restrictions that apply to the Jewish festival days generally do not apply to the chol ha'moed days (see below for exceptions).
Chol HaMoed: Expert Work
Chol HaMoed: No Expert Work
You may not do “expert” or “professional” work of certain types on chol ha'moed, and some types of expert craftsmen/women may not do their trades on chol ha'moed.
  • You may sew or lay bricks or other such labors, but not if you are an expert or professional in those fields and you are doing expert work.
  • Skilled writers and artists may not do their professional writing, calligraphy, or drawing (even for free!) on chol ha'moed. They may not do calligraphy or sofer work (Torah, tefilin, mezuza), but they may write normally.
  • If you are not a professional writer or expert craftsman/artist, you may write on chol ha'moed but the preferred practice is to use a shinu'i --an altered method of writing, such as:
    • Using your other hand,
    • Holding the pen/pencil differently from normal, or 
    • Writing diagonally across the paper.
Chol HaMoed: Shaving and Hair Cuts
Shaving/Hair Cuts and Jewish Festivals
You should not shave or cut your hair on chol ha'moed.
Reason Chazal made a takana so people would do those types of grooming before each holiday and not wait until chol ha'moed.

Chol HaMoed: Exceptions for Shaving
It is best not to shave during chol ha'moed.  You MAY shave if:
  • You normally shave every day, and
  • You shaved before the Jewish festival began.
Note Even if you only shave 2 or 3 times per week instead of every day, it is still considered as if you shave regularly.
Note You may shave during omer if not shaving might cause you to lose your job or otherwise incur financial loss. A large financial loss is subjective to the individual's actual wealth and also to that person's perception of what is a large loss.
Chol HaMoed: Cutting Nails
Chol HaMoed: Cutting Nails
You may not cut your nails (fingernails or toenails) during chol ha'moed.
Exception Women before going to mikva may cut their nails on chol ha'moed.
Chol HaMoed: Laundry
Laundry before Jewish Festivals
You should not do laundry on chol ha'moed.
Reason Due to a takana so people would do their laundry before each holiday and not wait until chol ha'moed.
Note If you had already done the laundry before the Jewish festival began and now no clean clothes remain:
  • You may do laundry for babies and small children (3 years old or less) on chol ha'moed.
  • You may not do laundry for adults.

Rosh Chodesh
Introduction to Rosh Chodesh
Introduction to Rosh Chodesh
Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish (lunar) month, is a minor holiday of one or two days, depending on whether the previous month was 29 or 30 days.  When the preceding month is 30 days long, the 30th day becomes the first day of Rosh Chodesh and the second day of Rosh Chodesh is the first day of the succeeding month.
Rosh Chodesh used to be officially declared in Jerusalem each month by the Sanhedrin, based on evidence from at least two witnesses who had seen the new moon in the western sky.  For the past 1700 years or so, the new moon (and the dates for the entire Jewish calendar) have been determined by a formula prescribed by Hillel HaNasi (then head of the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael). 
Rosh Chodesh: Molad
The molad (first appearance of the new crescent moon somewhere in the world but using Jerusalem time) is an average molad and may be more than 12 hours off the actual time of the moon's first appearance. It varies somewhat from month to month.
Rosh Chodesh: Ya'aleh V'Yavo
Ya'aleh V'Yavo on Rosh Chodesh
If you forgot (or are not sure if you said) ya'aleh v'yavo of:
Rosh Chodesh Ma'ariv 
Don't repeat the amida. This applies to both ma'arivs on a two-day Rosh Chodesh.
Rosh Chodesh Shacharit or Mincha 
  • If you forgot:  Repeat the amida of Rosh Chodesh shacharit or mincha.
  • If you are not sure:  Repeat the amida with the condition that if you had said ya'aleh v'yavo the first time, the second time is a voluntary prayer (tefilat nedava).
Note If Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat and you are not certain whether you said ya'aleh v'yavo at shacharit or mincha, you must repeat the amida without a condition.
Rosh Chodesh: Ul'Chaparat Pasha
Shabbat-Rosh Chodesh: Adding Ul'Chaparat Pasha
SITUATION It is Rosh Chodesh in a Jewish leap year.
Add “ul'chaparat pasha” to musaf—from Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan through and including the second month of Adar
REASON This blessing usually contains 12 requests--corresponding to the 12 months--and so in a leap year, we add ul'chaparat pasha for the 13th month.
NOTE Don't say ul'chaparat pasha on Rosh Chodesh Nisan or after that until the next Jewish leap year.
Rosh Hashana
Introduction to Rosh Hashana
Introduction to Rosh Hashana
Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the Jewish calendar year (there are three other dates that begin other aspects of the Jewish year).
Rosh Hashana is observed for two days, which are considered to be one continuous day. In Temple times, a cohen would offer a sacrifice but might not know until the following evening, after the new moon had been seen (or not), whether he had offered the Rosh Hashana offering.
Rosh Hashana focuses on the idea of God as King and of our relationship as Jews to that King.
Rosh Hashana: Greetings
Greetings for the New Year
For greetings for the New Year, say:
  • Ketiva V'Chatima Tova
              From: Rosh Chodesh Elul
              Until:  Eve of (erev) Rosh Hashana (when the holiday begins).
  • L'Shana Tova Tikateiv V'Tichateim
            From:  First night of Rosh Hashana (when the holiday begins)
            Until:   Musaf of the first day of Rosh Hashana.
  • Gmar Chatima Tova
               FromMusaf Rosh Hashana
               Until:   End of Yom Kippur.
  • Gmar Tov
               From: Yom Kippur
               Until:  Musaf Hoshana Rabba.
Rosh Hashana: Prayers
Rosh Hashana: Prayers: What Time To Start
Rosh Hashana: Prayers: What Time To Start: Ma'ariv and Kiddush
Ma'ariv and evening kiddush for Rosh Hashana are not started until after dark.
Rosh Hashana: Prayers: Special Bowing
Rosh Hashana: Prayers: Special Bowing: Musaf
For special bowing during Rosh Hashana musaf, please see Waist-Bowing and Knee-Bowing.
Rosh Hashana: Shofar
Rosh Hashana: How Many Shofar Blasts To Hear
Men are required to hear at least 60 shofar blasts on Rosh Hashana (l'chatchila) in order to fulfill the commandment of hearing shofar:  30 before the musaf amida and 30 afterward.  But they fulfill their requirement (b'di'avad) if they have heard at least 30 on each day of Rosh Hashana
Women only need to hear 30 shofar blasts on each day of Rosh Hashana.
Note Although 100 shofar blasts are blown each day of Rosh Hashana, hearing all 100 is a non-binding custom.  You do not need to hear the first blasts or any other particular set, but you must hear blasts that include:
  • 3 tashrat (teki'a-shevarim-teru'a-teki'a) +
  • 3 tashat (teki'a-shevarim-teki'a) +
  • 3 tarat (teki'a-teru'a-teki'a).  

Interruptions after Shofar Blessing
Once the blessings have been said before (and for) blowing the shofar on Rosh HaShana, no one in the congregation may speak or do any action (hefsek) that will interrupt the entire process of blessings and the series of blowing the shofar. Any speaking that is not related to the shofar blowing or to the prayer service is forbidden.
Woman Blowing Shofar
A woman who knows how, may blow the shofar for herself and for other women but not for men. 
Reason This is because women, who are not required by the Torah to hear shofar but who have universally accepted that custom, may not fulfill the obligation for men, who are required by the Torah to hear the shofar.

Practicing Shofar on Rosh Hashana
You may practice blowing a shofar on Rosh Hashana (unless it coincides with Shabbat!).

Rosh Hashana: Evening Kiddush
Rosh Hashana: Evening Kiddush: Fruit for SheHecheyanu on Second Night
Rosh Hashana: Evening Kiddush: New Fruit for SheHecheyanu on Second Night
Place a “new” fruit--over which you may say she'hecheyanu--at the table for kiddush on the second night of Rosh Hashana.
Reason So the she'hecheyanu of kiddush also covers the fruit. 
Note B'di'avad, still say she'hecheyanu even if you do not have a new fruit.
Rosh Hashana: Symbolic Foods (Simanim)
Rosh Hashana: Symbolic Foods (Simanim): Which Foods
Eating the special symbolic foods (simanim) on Rosh Hashana evening is a universally accepted custom. These may include:
Apple Dipped in Honey
Black-eyed Peas
Fish Head
Rosh Hashana: Symbolic Foods (Simanim): HaMotzi
On Rosh Hashana, before eating the symbolic foods (simanim):
  • Make kiddush,
  • Wash your hands,
  • Say ha'motzi, and
  • Eat bread.
Then eat the symbolic foods (simanim), saying the appropriate blessings (borei pri ha'eitz, borei pri ha'adama) before eating the simanim.
Rosh Hashana: Symbolic Foods (Simanim): God's Name
Situation You made up your own segulot for Rosh Hashana.
What to Do You may say them with God's name or without, in the yehi ratzon.
Rosh Hashana: Challa Customs
Rosh Hashana: Challa Customs: Round Challa
It is a custom to make round challa for Rosh Hashana and other Jewish festivals (except Passover!), unless Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat.
Rosh Hashana: Challa Customs: Challa Dipped in Honey
Eating challa dipped in honey on Rosh Hashana is a universal custom but is not halacha.
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich: Introduction to Tashlich
Tashlich is a universal custom with force of halacha. Don't feed fish, don't throw crumbs into the water.
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich: When To Say
Ideally, say tashlich on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashana (unless that is Shabbat, in which case say it on the second day of Rosh Hashana). You may say it until the end of the day of Hoshana Rabba.
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich: How Much To Say
The minimum amount of the tashlich service to say is the first paragraph (mi eil kamocha).
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich: Where To Say
Tashlich should be said near a running natural stream or a lake but not at a mikva.
Rosh Hashana: End
Rosh Hashana: End: Baruch HaMavdil Bein Kodesh L'Chol and Birkat HaMazon
Saying Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol after dark at the end of Rosh Hashana (as for Jewish festivals) does not affect the additions you will then say in birkat ha'mazon.
Situation You washed your hands, said ha'motzi, began eating your meal on Rosh Hashana afternoon, and it is now dark.
What To Do You may say Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol and do melacha, and then continue to eat your meal or say birkat ha'mazon INCLUDING ya'aleh v'yavo and ha'rachaman hu yichadeish alenu et ha'shana ha'zot l'tova v'livracha.
Ten Days of Repentance
Forgetting Amida Additions for Ten Days of Repentance
If you forget a change or addition to the amida during the 10 Days of Repentance (between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), the only one for which you must return or repeat the amida is ha'melech ha'kadosh (third blessing).
Yom Kippur
Introduction to Yom Kippur
Introduction to Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. In ancient times, it was more festive than now and unmarried people of both genders would meet and try to find their future spouses.
Yom Kippur is a serious but also a happy day, since all Jews who repent (do teshuva) have their sins forgiven on that day.
Teshuva has four main parts:
  • Charata  Regretting what we have done and feeling bad about it.
  • Vidui  Recognizing and admitting that we have done something wrong.
  •  Kabala  Resolving not to repeat that mistake.
  • Azivat hachet  Being in the same situation as before but avoiding doing the sin.
The Torah tells us that there is an inherent property to Yom Kippur that causes spiritual purification and removes sins.
All Jews can become like angels on Yom Kippur.  In order to imitate angels (which are spiritual beings), we abstain from five activities that are associated with physical beings. We do not wash, anoint our bodies, eat or drink, have intimate relations, or wear leather shoes. To further imitate angels, when we say the shema, we say Baruch shem kevod malchuto l'olam va'ed out loud, as opposed to the rest of the year, when we say it quietly.
For more on fast days, see Fast Days.
Pre-Yom Kippur
Pre-Yom Kippur: Asking Forgiveness
Asking Forgiveness
  • If you know you have offended or otherwise injured someone, ask for forgiveness before Yom Kippur (if doing so will bring up bad feelings from the past, you may not do so--but you might not be forgiven for that injury). 
  • If you may have offended, ask for forgiveness.
  • If you are certain that you did not, don't ask for forgiveness.
  • If you did not ask someone for forgiveness (whom you should have asked) before Yom Kippur, you should do so afterward.
  • If a person wrongs you intentionally, you do not need to forgive him or her unless the person repairs the wrong and is genuinely regretful for having done the evil.
Pre-Yom Kippur: Nullifying Vows (Hatarat Nedarim )
Nullifying Vows (Hatarat Nedarim)
Hatarat nedarim (nullification of vows) should be done before Rosh Hashana (but it may be done any time of the year) in front of three adult male shomer-Shabbat Jews. You may make a condition that you never want to make a vow of any type, but this might not be effective or valid.  The formula may be said in English or any other spoken language.
Pre-Yom Kippur: Kaparot
Kaparot with a chicken or money should be done before Yom Kippur, but you may do it before then or any other time. This is a universal Jewish custom.
Pre-Yom Kippur: Meal (Se'uda HaMafseket)
Meaning of pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Se'uda HaMafseket)
We eat a festive meal for the final meal before Yom Kippur to celebrate that we will be forgiven for our previous sins on Yom Kippur.
Mezuman/Minyan at pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Se'uda HaMafseket)
A mezuman or minyan is permitted at the pre-Yom Kippur meal (se'uda ha'mafseket).
Reason It is a festive meal.
Challa Dipped in Honey for pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Se'uda HaMafseket)
Eating challa dipped in honey is a non-binding custom for the pre-Yom Kippur festive meal (se'uda ha'mafseket).
Pre-Yom Kippur Meal: Shir HaMa'alot
Shir ha'ma'alot should be said before birkat ha'mazon at the final meal (se'uda ha'mafseket) before Yom Kippur (and also at a meal after Yom Kippur ends).
Wishing Easy Fast
You may wish “an easy fast” for Yom Kippur since, although Yom Kippur is supposed to be a day of afflicting our souls, there are degrees of affliction!
Pre-Yom Kippur: Yahrzeit Candle
Pre-Yom Kippur: Yahrzeit Candle
On Yom Kippur, it is a universal custom to light one candle if one or both parents are deceased. Every married couple also lights one candle for themselves and their children (if any).
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur: When To Start
Yom Kippur: Starting Fast
Yom Kippur fasting starts with candle lighting for women and at least 7 minutes before sunset for men.  
Yom Kippur: Delaying Start Past Candle Lighting
Lighting the candles starts the holiday of Yom Kippur.  If you want to start the holiday later, you must:
  • Make a condition when lighting candles that you are not yet starting the holiday (by saying “I am lighting Yom Kippur candles but not starting Yom Kippur until 7 minutes before sunset”-this may only be done in urgent situations) and
  • Omit the she'hecheyanu blessing at candle lighting.  Men say she'hecheyanu later (in kol nidre).
    Note Women then say she'hecheyanu at least 7 minutes before sunset! (One may not make a condition for she'hecheyanu!)
Note If a woman lit candles for Yom Kippur more than 7 minutes before sunset (as is normally done at 18 or even 40 minutes before sunset), but made a condition (tenai) that she would still eat or do melacha until somewhat later, she must still stop eating and doing melacha by no later than 7 minutes before sunset.
Yom Kippur: What To Wear
Yom Kippur: What To Wear: Leather Shoes
You may not wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur: What To Wear: Kittel for Men
All married men should wear a kittel on Yom Kippur during all prayer services (this is a universal custom). Some men do not wear a kittel during the first year of marriage.
Yom Kippur: If You Must Eat
Yom Kippur: No Kiddush If You Must Eat
If you must eat on Yom Kippur (for health reasons), do not make kiddush and do not use two loaves of bread, even if Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbat.
Yom Kippur: Birkat HaMazon If You Must Eat Bread
If you must eat a meal including at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread on Yom Kippur, say birkat ha'mazon afterward. Add ya'aleh v'yavo (and if Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbat, also add retzei).
Yom Kippur: Washing
Yom Kippur: Washing To Remove Tum'a
On Yom Kippur (as on Tish'a b'Av), if you must wash your hands to remove:
  • Tum'a: You may wash your hands only up to the knuckle that connects your fingers to the rest of your hand (thumb: second knuckle; fingers: third knuckle).
  • Dirt from your hand: You may wash wherever the dirt is on your hand.
Yom Kippur: Prayers
Yom Kippur: Torah Reading
Yom Kippur: Torah Reading: Forbidden Relationships
On Yom Kippur, at mincha, we read in the Torah about forbidden relationships to remind ourselves that even on the holiest day of the year, we may be subject to temptations and sins.
Yom Kippur: Bowing
Yom Kippur: Bowing for Musaf Alenu
For how to bow at Yom Kippur Musaf Alenu, see Waist-Bowing and Knee-Bowing.
Yom Kippur: Ending
Yom Kippur: Ending: Havdala

After Yom Kippur, say the full havdala

Note You must light a candle from a flame that was burning since before Yom Kippur began. If you do not have one, skip the blessing on the flame.
If Shabbat coincides with Yom Kippur, you should light the candle from a flame that was burning from before Shabbat began. If you do not have one, you may light a new flame after Shabbat and Yom Kippur are over. Don't say the blessing on spices.

Post-Yom Kippur Meal: Shir HaMa'alot
Shir ha'ma'alot should be said after eating a meal that you began after Yom Kippur ended.
See Fast Days.
Introduction to Sukkot
Introduction to Sukkot
Sukkot means “huts.” The Jewish festival of Sukkot celebrates and commemorates the shelters in which the Israelites lived for 40 years after leaving Egypt.

The main symbols associated with Sukkot are living in a sukka (eating and, when possible, sleeping in the sukka) and the lulav and etrog.
Sukkot is observed at fall harvest time.  When many Jews were feeling wealthy due to their produce, we were commanded to live in temporary shelters--in part, to ward off feelings of arrogance or pride in what we had accomplished in the material world. Instead of thinking or feeling that our hard work or great wisdom has made us wealthy, we are reminded that whatever we have comes from God, and that God will take care of us, even in a flimsy “house.”
The lulav and etrog have many meanings.  Here are two:
Likening to the Human Body
The four components are compared to four parts of the human body:
  • Palm branch: Spine.
  • Myrtle leaves: Human eyes.
  • Willow leaves: Human lips.
  • Etrog: Human heart.
When we hold the four parts of the lulav/etrog together, we are symbolically taking the various components of our bodies together to serve God.
Likening to Types of Jews
The four components are likened to four types of Jews:
  • Etrog smells nice and tastes nice--like a tzadik who is knowledgeable in Torah and does mitzvot;
  • Myrtle smells nice but does not have a good taste--like a person who does mitzvot but is not knowledgeable in Torah;
  • Palm tree (date palm) has a nice tasting fruit but no scent--like someone who has knowledge but lacks mitzvot;
  • Willow does not smell nice nor has a good taste--like a person who has neither.
By holding them together, we show that all types of Jews are to be consider as one nation.
Sukkot: Prayers
Sukkot: Prayers: What Time To Start
Sukkot: Prayers: What Time To Start: Ma'ariv and Kiddush
  • Ma'ariv on both nights of Sukkot may be said from 1 1/4 hours before sunset.
  • Kiddush in the sukka may not be said until after dark on both nights.
Sukka: Being Inside
Sukka: Being Inside: Requirements
There is no requirement to be in a sukka except when eating bread or mezonot, and possibly sleeping in the sukka, but there is some spiritual benefit from being in the sukka at other times.
Sukka: Eating
Sukka: Eating: What To Eat
 There is no requirement to eat any food other than mezonot or bread (and some opinions say also drinking wine) in a sukka.  Eating other foods in a sukka is considered to be saintly behavior (midat chasidut).
Men: Eating Outside the Sukka
Bread: Men may not eat bread or a full meal outside the sukka during Sukkot.
Mezonot: Men may not eat more than 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of mezonot (within four minutes) outside the sukka during Sukkot, but they may eat 1.8 fl. oz. or less, wait nine minutes, and then eat another quantity up to 1.8 fl. oz.
Women: Eating Outside the Sukka
Women and girls may eat bread or mezonot outside of a sukka.  They do not need to eat any meals in the sukka, but if they do, it is a mitzva and they say leisheiv ba'sukka.
Sukka: Eating: Uncomfortable Weather
Except for first night of Sukkot (and also the second night outside of Eretz Yisrael), there is no need to be discomforted at all by rain, cold, or heat. You may eat even bread outside of the sukka without waiting to see if the conditions will become more comfortable. This includes on  Shabbat.
Sukka: Blessings
Sukka: Blessings: When To Say
Do not say the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka except when you will eat bread or mezonot. Even drinking wine is not an exception, so do not say leisheiv ba'sukka even for havdala (unless you will also eat mezonot at the same time).
Note We do say leisheiv ba'sukka at kiddush, but that is in anticipation of eating bread at the meal to follow.
Sukkot: Blessings: SheHecheyanu
First Night: Say she'hecheyanu after saying leisheiv ba'sukka (in kiddush), since she'hecheyanu covers the sukka and the Jewish festival
Second Night: Say she'hecheyanu before leisheiv ba'sukka (since it only covers the Jewish festival itself).
Note There is no blessing on building a sukka; it is covered by the she'hecheyanu in the kiddush.
Sukkot: When To Say Leisheiv BaSukka
When you sit down in a sukka, only say the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka:
  • If you are going to eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml, or about 1/4 - 1/5 cup) of bread or mezonot within four minutes, OR
  • Immediately after saying kiddush and before drinking the wine in anticipation of eating mezonot or bread, OR
  • Before eating any food or beverage (except salt or water) when visiting any other person in his/her sukka.
Sukkot: Blessings: Forgetting Leisheiv BaSukka
If you washed hands, said ha'motzi, and ate some bread in a sukka but forgot to say the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka, you may still say that blessing until you have finished your meal; but you should eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) more of bread (within 4 minutes) after saying leisheiv ba'sukka.
Birkat HaMazon If You Ate Sukka Meals Indoors
If you ate your meal inside the house on Sukkot, you do not need to go to the sukka to say birkat ha'mazon.
Sukka: Sleeping
Sukkot: Sleeping at Someone Else's House
If you sleep at another person's house or sukka during Sukkot, you should consider their sukka as being yours. You do not say the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka except if you eat bread or mezonot there.
Sukka: Building
Sukka: Building or Fixing
Building or Fixing a Sukka on Sukkot
A Jew may fix or build a sukka on chol ha'moed.
A non-Jew may fix or build a sukka on chol ha'moed or even on the Jewish festival days. A Jew may explicitly tell the non-Jew how to accomplish the repairs or the building of the sukka.
Sukka: Shapes
Permitted Sukka Shapes
A sukka may have many sides and may even be circular, but it may not have a pointed top (shaped like a teepee).
Sukka: Dimensions
Sukka: Dimensions: Minimum/Maximum
  • A sukka must have at least three walls, but one of those walls may be as little as 1 tefach wide.
  • A round sukka must extend to at least 270 degrees.
  • Sukka height: More than 10 tefachim (40” or 1 m) high and less than 20 amot (33'4” or 10 m) tall.
  • Minimum sukka width: 7 tefachim x 7 tefachim (28” x 28” or 71.1 cm x 71.1 cm). 
  • Maximum wall-to-ground gap for sukka: walls must be within 3 tefachim, or 10 ½” (27 cm) of the ground.
  • Maximum permissible angle (slope) of a roof on a sukka is less than 45 degrees from horizontal.
  • Schach: Must cover the sukka so that there is more shade than sun when the sun is directly overhead and must have at least enough space between the schach elements for rain to penetrate.
Sukka: Walls
Sukka: Walls: Tree Trunk
You may use the trunk of a tree as part of a sukka, but consult a rabbi about the spacing and curvature of the roots.
Sukka: Walls: Flapping
The walls of a sukka must be able to withstand wind without flapping up from the bottom to more than 10.5 inches above the ground.
Sukka: Walls: Bracing
The sukka does not need to be freestanding. When setting up a sukka, you may brace the walls with rope, boards, against tree or house... in any way you wish. You may not brace or attach supports to the walls on the festival but you may directly ask a non-Jew to do that work for you.
Sukka: Schach
Sukka: Schach: Timing

Sukka: Schach: Timing: Within 30 Days

You must put schach on your sukka within 30 days of Sukkot. If you are using a porch that has slats year round as a roof for your sukka, you must lift up and put back the slats within 30 days of Sukkot.
Sukka: Schach: Materials

You may not use a
kli for sukka schach.

A kli is any item created with the intention of being used as a tool or utensil to make an activity easier.


  • Bamboo if it had been used for any other purpose.

  • Wooden ladder.

  • Walking stick.

A sukka's covering (schach) must consist of non-edible branches, leaves, or other materials of plant origin such as boards. You may use wooden boards (such as 2” x 4”s) to hold up schach, even though lumber is intended to be used for construction.
Boards or tree trunks—whether used as schach or used to hold up schach--must be not more than 15 inches (38 cm) wide. A board--whether used as schach or used to hold up schach--more than 15 inches wide invalidates the area below it and you would have to sit under kosher schach in order to fulfill the mitzva. In the case of a board more than 15 inches wide: If the sukka has only three walls, the board may invalidate the sukka. Consult a rabbi.
You may not use branches whose leaves will dry up in less than 8 days, intending to replace the branches with fresh ones during chol ha'moed; the custom is to use evergreen leaves only if you want to use leaves as schach.
Schach on the sukka must stay by itself without fasteners or connectors, even in a place with normally high wind. Any man-made fasteners--such as plastic, metal, or even hemp cord or rope--will invalidate the schachIf the schach will stay without them, then you may use fasteners or connectors as reinforcements.

Year-Round Structures
You may use a pergola, gazebo, or other type of awning frame or roof structure that exists year-round for a sukka as long as the other conditions (size, slope, materials, timing, etc.) are kosher. You must first remove any permanent roof coverings before putting on the schach.

Note The slope of the sukka roof must be less than 45 degrees from horizontal.

Sukka: Schach: Gap

Sukka: Schach: Gap: What Invalidates

A gap in schach of 10.5 inches by 10.5 inches or larger will not invalidate the entire sukka, but you may not sit under that part of the sukka when eating or saying the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka. A gap of more than 14 inches wide may invalidate the sukka.
Sukka: Schach: Normal Wind (Ru'ach Metzuya)
Ru'ach metzuya is defined as a normal wind for each location and season (this is relevant for schach on Sukkot).
Sukka: Overhangs
Sukka: Overhangs: Vines/Trees
Vines or tree branches that overhang even a small part of a sukka may make it not kosher. A tree that overhangs a large part of the sukka invalidates the portion below the tree and may invalidate an entire side or even more. Consult a rabbi.
Sukka: Overhangs: Wood Structures
You may not normally use a sukka that has any wood structure such as a pergola/gazebo above the schach, but there are exceptions:  ask a rabbi.
Sukka: Overhangs: Balconies

A sukka built under a balcony, even if the balcony is many stories above the sukka, is not kosher.


Only part of a sukka is under the balcony.


To be kosher, the sukka must have a footprint at least 7 by 7 tefachim and must have at least three walls that are not under the balcony.

Note If you have only two walls with the overhanging balcony, consult a rabbi.

Sukka: Overhangs: Women and Children

Women and children of either gender may sit under an invalidated part of the sukka since they are not required to sit in the sukka at all.  However, if they wish to say the blessing leisheiv baSukka, they must sit under a valid part of the sukka while they say the blessing. They must also eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. of bread or mezonot while under the valid part.

Sukka: Car
How To Make a Car into a Sukka
To make a car into a sukka:
  • Open two doors on the same side of the car and put schach on top/across the doors.
  • Make sure the doors reach to within 10 ½ inches (26.7 cm) of the ground or curb (so you might need to park at a curb).
  • Make sure the schach over the doors is at least 40 inches (1 m) above the curb.
Sukka: Intimacy
Sukka: Intimacy
Intercourse is permitted in a sukka.
Sukka: Leaving
Sukka: Leaving: First Night
Sukka: Leaving: First Night: Rain
Rain on the first night of Sukkot is only considered a bad omen in Eretz Yisrael.
Reason It does not normally rain there at that time of year.
Sukka: Leaving: First Night: Rain, Cold, Bees
You may leave the sukka due to extreme cold or heat, rain, or bees. You should not stay in a sukka if it is raining or very cold or will otherwise make people suffer.
If it is raining on the first night of Sukkot and the rain is sporadic, wait until midnight before saying kiddush indoors.
If it is raining on the first night of Sukkot and the forecast predicts rain all evening, you do not need to wait to see if the rain will stop before saying kiddush. Instead:
  • Say kiddush in the sukka (without saying leisheiv ba'sukka), even in the rain.
  • Wash hands and say ha'motzi.
  • Eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread in the sukka.
  • Go inside the house and finish your meal inside. 
Note You do not need to say birkat ha'mazon in the sukka. If the rain stops, go back outside, say leisheiv, eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) more of bread in the sukka, and finish your meal in the sukka.
Sukka: Shmini Atzeret
Sukka: Shmini Atzeret
Outside Eretz Yisrael, you should eat your meals in the sukka on Shmini Atzeret, but do not make a blessing on the sukka.
Four Species: Lulav and Etrog
Lulav: Beauty
Lulav: If First Day of Sukkot Is Shabbat
You do not need to buy a fancy or expensive lulav and etrog if the first day of Sukkot is Shabbat, since the Torah requirement for the etrog to be beautiful is only on the first day of Sukkot.
Lulav: Sizes
Palm Branch Sizes
Minimum length for lulav (palm branch):  Spine must be at least 16" long, not including the length of the leaves. At least 4" of the spine of the lulav must be above the tops of the willows and myrtles.
Myrtle and Willow Branch Sizes
Each of the myrtle and willow branches must be at least 12 inches long.
Lulav: Choosing
Lulav: Choosing: Condition
A lulav, willow branches, or myrtle branches are only disqualified/pasul if the leaves are so dry that they will crack if you bend them.  Being moldy does not disqualify them.
Lulav: Setting Up
To Set Up a Lulav
To set up a lulav: hold with spine facing you, with three myrtle branches (hadassim) on the right and two willow branches (aravot) on the left.  It is customary to put the myrtle and willow branches into a holder made of palm leaves.
NOTE Before Sukkot begins, open any sealed plastic bags that contain the willow and myrtle branches, as you may not cut them open on the festival days (the first and second days outside of Eretz Yisrael).
Lulav: Borrowing
Lulav: When You May Borrow
You may borrow a lulav on all days of Sukkot except the first day (or first two days outside of Eretz Yisrael). On the first (two) day(s), you may acquire a lulav and etrog by having a friend “give” them to you as a gift, even if you will later “give” them back to your friend, also as a gift.
Note If you intended to use someone else's lulav on the first day of Sukkot, it is considered as if the lulav is yours, even without doing the normal acquisition.
Lulav: Husband and Wife
A man's wife does not own the lulav with him (and a wife's husband does not own her lulav), but it is assumed that each gives their lulav to the other (on the first and second day of Sukkot) as a gift with a condition that the recipient will give the lulav back to the other spouse as a gift once finished.
Lulav: How To Bless
Lulav: Who Should Bless
Lulav: Who Should Bless: Women
Women and girls do not need to bless over or wave the lulav; but if they do, it is a mitzva.
Lulav: Where To Bless
Lulav: Where To Bless: Sukka or Synagogue
Say blessings on the lulav and etrog in the sukka or in synagogue.
Lulav: When To Bless
Lulav: When To Bless: Daytime
Only say the blessing on the lulav during the day.
Lulav: Shabbat
Don't pick up the lulav or say the blessing on Shabbat.
Lulav: Hold, Bless, Shake
Lulav: Hold, Bless, Shake
To fulfill the commandment of lulav and etrog, you must hold them together the way they grow: stems down. But since you fulfill the commandment as soon as you hold the Four Species together this way, you must first pick up the etrog inverted (stem up) and then say the blessing, as follows:
  • Hold the lulav with the spine facing you and the myrtle on the right, willows on the left, and the etrog with the pitom (opposite the stem) down;
  • Say the blessings for the lulav;
  • Turn the etrog right side up (stem-side down) and hold the lulav and etrog together; and
  • Shake the Four Species together.  
Note Waving (or shaking) the lulav is a universally accepted custom with the force of halacha. We show that God is present in all directions by waving the lulav in the four compass directions, plus up and down. There are various customs of the sequence in which to wave the lulav. One common sequence is east; south; west; north; up; down. Wave the Four Species three times in each direction.
Note Although the lulav's spine should face you as you hold it, you have still fulfilled the requirement of lulav if the spine was facing away or if the willows and myrtles are on the incorrect sides of the lulav.
Lulav: Hallel at Home or in Synagogue
Ideally, take your lulav and etrog to synagogue and say hallel with the minyanB'di'avad, it is OK to say hallel and the blessings and wave the lulav at home.
Lulav: How To Wave During Hallel
Wave the lulav in all six directions each time when saying Hodu l'Adonai… and, later, Ana Adonaiand again in the final Hodu in Hallel:
  • Hold together the lulav and etrog during the entire procedure, pitom up, etrog in left hand.
  • At each word in Hodu l'Adonai and at each syllable in Ana Adonai, shake the lulav/etrog together three times, advancing through the sequence of east, south, west, north, up, down.
For Hodu l'Adonai:
  • At Hodu, shake three times to the east;
  • At l'Adonai, don't shake but hold the lulav and etrog up while standing straight;
  • At ki, shake three times to the south, etc..
For Ana Adonai,
  • At “A,” shake three times to the east;
  • At “na, shake three times to the south;
  • At Adonai, stand straight and hold the lulav and etrog up;
  • At “ho,” shake three times to the west;
  • At “shi,” shake three times to the north, etc.
Lulav: Storing
Lulav: Storing: Replacing into Water
You may put the myrtle and willow branches into water after using them only if they were in water before the Sukkot holiday began. You may not add water on Shabbat, but you may on the other Jewish festival days. You may change the water only on chol ha'moed.
Lulav: Disposing
Lulav: Disposing
You may dispose of a lulav in any way that is not degrading. So, you may drop it into a field or put it on a lawn--unless animals might eat it or step on it or if it will be subject to poor treatment before it decays.  Don't dispose of a lulav or etrog directly into the garbage. Burn, bury, or wrap them in a bag or one layer of plastic and you may throw it into normal garbage.
Hoshanot: Joining
Hoshanot were done in the Temple in Jerusalem and the community is required to do hoshanot. Individuals are not required to join, but it is the proper practice to join if holding a lulav and etrog.
Hoshana Rabba
Hoshana Rabba: Hoshanot
Hoshana Rabba: Hoshanot: Main Observance
The main observance of hoshanot is wrapping five willow branches in a palm leaf and beating them.
Hoshana Rabba: Hoshanot: Lulav Willow Branches
You may use the willow branches (aravot) from a lulav for hoshanot, but you must add three more to the two already on the lulav.
Shmini Atzeret
Introduction to Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah
In Eretz Yisrael, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are observed on the same day. Outside of Eretz Yisrael, Simchat Torah is the second day of what becomes a two-day festival.

We begin mentioning rain in the second paragraph of the musaf amida of Shmini Atzeret and continue until the first day of Passover.
Universal Customs
The universal custom is to complete the reading of the Torah and to begin reading it again on Simchat Torah. Dancing and singing with the Torah scrolls is also a universal custom.
Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah: What Time To Start: Ma'ariv and Kiddush
Ma'ariv on Shmini Atzeret and on Simchat Torah may be said from 1 1/4 hours before sunset. Kiddush must be said after dark.
Shmini Atzeret: Eating in Sukka
For whether to eat in your sukka on Shmini Atzeret, see Sukka: Shmini Atzeret.
Introduction to Passover
Introduction to Passover
Introduction to Passover: Passover Names

Passover celebrates the seven or eight days starting with the 14th of Nisan, when God took the Israelites out of Egypt about 3300 years ago. The holiday has several names:
  • Chag HaPesach--Holiday of "Skipping Over" (reflecting that God passed over the Jewish homes and did not kill the first-born sons, unlike those of the Egyptians);
  • Chag HaAviv--Festival of Spring (the Jewish calendar is based on the moon and is adjusted to the solar cycle so that Passover always comes in the spring);
  • Chag HaMatzot--Holiday of Unleavened Bread; and
  • Zman Cheiruteinu--Time of our Freedom.

Introduction to Passover: Passover Observance

Passover observance includes removal of chametz, the Passover sacrifice and its reminders, and the Passover seder:


Chametz Gamur and Ta'arovet Chametz

The Five Grains, once fermented into items such as bread or beer, are genuine chametz (chametz gamur) and are forbidden on Passover by the Torah (d'oraita).  Ta'arovet chametz (a mixture containing chametz) includes foods such as breakfast cereal and are also forbidden on Passover.

Rules for Chametz

  • You may not own or see (your own) chametz during the entire period of Passover.
  • You may not benefit in any way from chametz during Passover, whether it belongs to a Jew or to a non-Jew. If the chametz was owned by a Jew during Passover, you may not benefit from that chametz even after the holiday has ended.

What To Do with Chametz

Ideally, any chametz should be used up before Passover, given to a non-Jew, or destroyed. But if the chametz has significant value, the custom is to sell that chametz to a non-Jew. You do not need to sell kitniyot, but you must sell any genuine chametz and any mixtures of chametz (ta'arovet chametz).

Passover and Nullification by 1/60th

During the year, 1/60th or less of an undesired substance is considered to be inconsequential and nullified by the other substances. But on Passover, any amount of leaven mixed in food is forbidden.
However, the chametz in food acquired before Passover can be nullified before Passover, but ONLY if:
  • It is 1/60th or less of the total volume of food,
  • The food is liquid mixed in other liquid, or solid in other solid, AND 
  • The chametz/non-chametz elements cannot be easily separated from each other.

Four Steps To Eliminating Chametz

There are four means of eliminating chametz:
  • Bedika: Searching
    You try to find any chametz.
  • Bitul:  Verbal and Intentional Nullification
    Since you may have overlooked some chametz during bedika, declare that any chametz in your possession is not important to you and has no value.
  • Bi'ur: Burning
    By burning and therefore destroying the chametz, we fulfill the Torah
    commandment of “tashbitu” (making it cease to exist).
  • Mechira: Selling
    By changing the ownership, we no longer own chametz on Passover and we create the opportunity to re-acquire the chametz after Passover has ended if the non-Jewish buyer agrees.

Chametz Symbolism

Fermented grains represent (among other things) arrogance and pride:  the puffing up of fermented grains is symbolic of people puffing up themselves. In Judaism, one way to get rid of a bad personal trait is to utterly destroy it and so we symbolically remove and destroy any fermented grain foods from our houses and ownership.

Destroying chametz is not a violation of “do not destroy” (bal tashchit) since it is done to perform a commandment.

What Are Kitniyot

Kitniyot are foods that look similar to the five chametz grains or that could be ground into a flour that could look like flour from those grains, such as beans, peanuts, rice, corn, mustard seeds, and other food plants that are grown near the Five Grains.

What To Do with Kitniyot

Kitniyot may not be used on Passover but do not need to be sold or removed from one's ownership. Kitniyot should be stored away from kosher for Passover food.

Passover Sacrifice

In Temple times, the Passover sacrifice was to be eaten with one's family and possibly with neighbors, depending on the number of people present. The only two instances of kareit (being cut off spiritually) for not doing a positive commandment are for not doing a brit mila and not bringing a Passover offering (in Temple times).


The Passover seder (order) was prescribed in ancient times as a means for helping all Jews, of all ages and both genders, to re-experience the transition from having been slaves to becoming free and from having ascended from idol worshippers to being monotheistic.

Passover: Cooking and Eating Utensils
Passover: Special Pots
You may not use cooking utensils on Passover that have been used for cooking chametz during the year unless they have been kashered. For details, click kashrus/kk-passover-kashering.htm">here.
You do not need to sell the chametz that is on the utensils unless it totals more than 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup).
Passover: Kitniyot in Passover Utensil
Situation Kitniyot were cooked in a Passover utensil. 
Situation 1 The kitniyot's volume was less than 50% of the volume of food cooked in that utensil. 
Status The food may be eaten and the utensil may be used on Passover (no need to kasher). 

Situation 2 The kitniyot's volume was more than 50% of the volume of the food cooked in that utensil.
Status The food is not permitted to be eaten. 

Situation 2a The kitniyot's volume was more than 50% of the volume of the food cooked in that utensil, and the total volume of the food cooked (kitniyot + non-kitniyot) was less than the normal volume of food which is cooked in that utensil.
Status The utensil may be used even without kashering, as long as you wait at least 24 hours after the utensil has been cleaned. 

Situation 2b The kitniyot's volume was more than 50% of the volume of the utensil itself and more than 50% of the normal volume of food cooked in it.
Status You may not eat the food (until after Passover) and must kasher the utensil after waiting 24 hours. 
NOTE You may only kasher a utensil on chol ha'moed but NOT on the festival days themselves. 
Passover: Foods and Soaps
Passover: Food Items
Cumin is not used on Passover due to its similarity to kitniyot.  This is a custom.
Flour (raw)
Raw flour is suspected of being chametz and therefore may not be owned during Passover.
Frozen Vegetables
Frozen vegetables, such as spinach or broccoli, may not be used on Passover unless certified as kosher for Passover.
Matza (Oat)
There is no question that oat matza properly made and supervised according to Jewish law is kosher for eating on Passover.
Matza (Unopened)
Kosher for Passover matza in unopened packages stays kosher for Passover and may be used in subsequent years.
Quinoa is not chametz because it does not ferment without adding yeast and it is not one of the original Five Grains.
Plain seltzer (with no additives other than water and carbon dioxide) that has been produced before Passover does not need kosher supervision.
If produced during Passover, it might need kosher supervision.
Water (Plain)
Plain water (in the USA) never needs kosher supervision, not even for Passover.
Yeast is not normally chametz but may not be used on Passover.
Passover: Soap/Toiletries
Dish Soap
Dish soap made from kosher ingredients but without Passover supervision may still be a problem on Passover due to possible alcoholic ingredients.
Chametz Soap
You may not use (including you may not ingest even tiny amounts of) soap that contains chametz on Passover. But since it is not fit for a dog to eat, you do not need to sell it. 
You do not need a new toothbrush for Passover as long as it is clean.
Toothpaste for Passover
Toothpaste does not need to be specially made kosher for Passover
Laundry Starch
You may use non-chametz starch on clothing during Passover but not on tablecloths, napkins, or other items that might contact food.
Reason The starch might be kitniyot.
Passover: How To Prepare
Passover: Getting Rid of Chametz
Passover: Cleaning
Passover: Preparing for the Search
Clean the house before searching for chametz.  Mark off the cleaned areas as you work. (This is just a suggestion, not a requirement!)
Passover: What Chametz To Remove
You must remove significant chametz when cleaning for Passover.  But you do not need to remove small crumbs unless they may be inadvertently eaten during Passover--if they are on a kitchen counter, a table, etc.
Note It is the custom to remove all chametz from the house.
Passover: When You Do Not Need To Clean
You do not need to clean your house if you will:
  • Leave your house 30 days or more before Passover, and
  • Will not return to your house until after Passover has ended, and
  • Have sold your chametz before the holiday begins.
Passover: Searching for Chametz (Bedikat Chametz)
Passover Chametz Search: Who May Search
One member of each house must search for any chametz (bedikat chametz) on behalf of the entire household. This may be a man, woman, or even a minor child, as long as he or she is sufficiently responsible to conduct the search in all of the details.
Passover Chametz Search: When To Search
Search your house for any leavened food or crumbs the night before first seder night. If the first seder begins Saturday night, you must search for chametz on Thursday night.
Passover Chametz Search: Where To Search
You must look for chametz (leavened foods) in any place where food might have been carried. If you have small children, you must search your entire house. However, you do not need to search in any place where no food was brought, nor in any closets that will be locked during Passover and the leavened food in them sold.
Passover Chametz Search: Whether To Search
If you are staying in someone else's house for Passover and the owner is away for the holiday, you must do bedikat chametz for the house--even if the owner has not been there for more than 30 days and even if you will not be eating in that house. The same rule applies for any place that you have rented for any part of Passover and that does not have a resident owner who has done the bedika there.
Exception If you are staying in a hotel or other accommodation that is thoroughly cleaned before Passover, you do not need to do bedika chametz.
Passover Chametz Search: Putting Out Chametz To Find
Before beginning the official chametz search, put out 10 pieces of chametz wrapped to prevent crumbs from falling off.
Note The entire procedure of putting out chametz is a non-binding custom.
Passover Chametz Search: Which Blessing To Say
Before searching for chametz, say the blessing al bi'ur chametz.
Passover Chametz Search: How To Search
While the search for chametz is traditionally done by candlelight, you may use a flashlight. You should not use a normal room light.
Reason The idea is to use a directional light source, which will highlight any chametz.
Passover: Nullifying Chametz
Passover: Nullifying Chametz: Which Language for Kol Chamira
The kol chamira formula, in Aramaic, is said to nullify any leaven that was missed during the search. If you do not understand the Aramaic, you should also read the translation in English (or whatever your own language is).
Passover: Nullifying Chametz: Who Says Kol Chamira
Everyone at bedikat chametz, including guests who will be there for the holiday, says the kol chamira formula for nullifying any chametz that they own.
Note A similar nullification is said the next morning (morning of the day before Passover), when the chametz from the search is burned.
Passover: Burning Chametz
Passover: Burning Chametz: What To Do with Chametz
If you own any chametz, you must burn some of it in order to fulfill the commandment of burning chametz: this is a mitzva from the Torah
Note If you have too much chametz to conveniently burn, you may throw some of the chametz into the garbage (but not into your own garbage can, only a public one--where permitted).
You must throw the chametz into the garbage before you burn the remainder. You may, alternatively, throw the chametz into a public area or pond (if permitted by the owner or by law).
Passover: Burning Chametz: Wife Covered by Husband
At the burning of the chametz before Passover, a wife is covered by her husband's saying kol chamira and burning chametz, unless she has chametz of her own.
Passover: Burning Chametz: Husband Covered by Wife
It is preferable for a husband to say kol chamira.  However, he is covered by his wife's saying kol chamira, as long as he has asked his wife to do so.
Note If the wife burns the chametz, she should inform her husband at the time she actually burns the chametz (she may inform him by phone and does not have to do so in person).
Passover: Selling Chametz
Passover: Selling Chametz: Different Countries for You and Your Chametz
If you live in one country and go to another country for Passover, you must sell your chametz so that the chametz in each country is sold and re-acquired at the correct time based on where you are located but also on where your chametz is. Consult a rabbi.
Passover: Selling Chametz: Selling by Mail
Appointing the rabbi (if the rabbi agrees!) as an agent to sell your chametz does not require an acquisition and may be effected through the mail.
Passover: Selling Chametz: Selling Animals and their Food
You must sell dog (or other animal) food, if it contains any chametz, for Passover to a non-Jew. 
Note You may sell your dog (or other animal) to a non-Jew for Passover (in order to allow the animal to eat chametz on Passover), but not to the same person to whom you sold the food.
Passover: Acquiring Chametz during Passover
Passover: Getting Rid of Chametz: Acquiring Chametz during Passover
If you inadvertantly buy chametz on Passover, you must burn it.
If chametz was brought to you, such as by mail delivery service, DON'T accept it. Consider it as ownerless/hefker. You may not bring it into your house or yard. If it is still there after Passover has ended, you may take it for yourself.
Note If  you inadvertantly bought kitniyot during Passover, just put it away until Passover has ended and then you may eat it.
Passover: Kashering
Passover: Dishes and Pots
See Passover: Special Pots.
For more details on kashering for Passover from the Star-K, click here.
NOTE On Passover, gender and chametz status DO get transferred through a stream of hot liquid back into the pouring container.
Passover: When To Finish Kashering
When kashering an oven or utensils for Passover, you may kasher:
  • By Libun
  Anytime, including on chol ha'moed (but not on Jewish festivals or Shabbat).
  • By Hag'ala
  Until one hour before halachic midday on Passover eve (but b'di'avad it is OK until
  just before sunset of Passover eve).
Passover: Kashering Pots and Utensils To Change from Milk to Meat (or vice versa)
You may make certain utensils kosher for Passover if they were chametz or non-kosher. For a list of materials that can be kashered, see the sections entitled "Items/Materials that Can Be Kashered" and "Items/Materials that Cannot Be Kashered" here: Introduction to Food Nullification: Utensils (Kashering).
Note You may not change utensils that are already kosher directly from milk to meat or meat to milk. Rather, you must:
  • First make the utensil non-kosher (or chametz), and then
  • Kasher it.
Once kashered, the utensil will usually be neutral/pareve as far as gender and you may choose to make it dairy or meat.

Passover: Kashering an Oven
To kasher an oven for Passover:
  • Clean it completely, including any hard deposits, and
  • Heat the oven for 40 minutes at its highest temperature.
Passover: Kashering an Oven: Cleaning
To determine whether an oven is clean: 
If there are black or brown spots, scratch them:
  • If the substance crumbles, the spots are OK.
  • If the spots do not crumble, consider the oven NOT clean.
Note If you use the oven's self-clean cycle, you do not need to remove the hard deposits from the oven before kashering.
If the oven is not self-cleaning, you must remove (clean off or burn off) any deposits on the walls, racks, and window. If the stains or deposits do not come off after two cycles of using a strong oven cleaner such as Easy Off, the oven is considered sufficiently clean. Weaker oven cleaners that do not remove deposits may not be relied on.
Passover: Kashering an Oven: Temperature
The order of preference for the heat settings is
  • Self-cleaning (if possible) on the self-cleaning cycle.
  • Next choice is broil or the highest heat setting.
For more details on kashering for Passover, see
Passover Eve: What To Stop Doing When
Passover Eve: When To Stop Eating Matza
When To Stop Eating Matza
You may not eat matza after daybreak on the day before the Passover seder: about 13 hours before sunset of the first seder night.
Passover Eve: When To Stop Eating/Owning Chametz/Kitniyot
When To Stop Eating/Possessing Chametz
After the fourth halachic hour on the eve of Passover:
  • You may not eat chametz or kitniyot.
  • You may not eat non-chametz food cooked in a chametz utensil. 
By the fifth halachic hour on the eve of Passover:
The chametz must be burned.
Note A halachic hour is a local daytime hour calculated by dividing the total number of daylight hours by 12.
Passover Eve: When To Stop Expert Work
Expert Work after Noon before Seder Night
You may not do any types of expert or professional work after halachic midday before the first Passover seder.  These types of prohibited work are whatever would be prohibited on chol ha'moed.
Note You may tell or ask a non-Jew to do such work.
Passover Eve: When To Stop Shaving
When To Stop Shaving
You should not shave or get a haircut on the afternoon before Passover unless a non-Jew shaves you or cuts your hair.
Passover Night(s)
Passover Night(s): Ma'ariv
Timing of Ma'ariv on Seder Night(s)
  • Ma'ariv on the first night of Passover may begin at sunset.  But since the seder may not be started until after dark, the custom is to begin ma'ariv a little before dark.
  • The second seder may also not be started until after dark.  Ma'ariv on the second night of Passover may be said from plag ha'mincha, 1 1/4 hours before sunset.
  • Ma'ariv on the seventh and eighth days of Passover may be started as early as plag ha'mincha, 1 1/4 hours before sunset.
Hallel after Ma'ariv
People who have the custom of saying hallel after ma'ariv on the first night of Passover also say hallel on the second night (outside of Eretz Yisrael).
HaMapil on Passover
On the first two nights of Passover, before going to sleep, just say shema and the ha'mapil blessing.
Reason The first night (two nights outside of Eretz Yisrael) is considered to have special Divine protection, so we omit the extra paragraphs in the final parts of the prayer.
Passover Night(s): Eating Matza
When Eating Matza Is Obligatory
The only time when matza must be eaten to fulfill the commandment of eating matza is on seder night(s). There may be a mitzva to also eat matza on the other days of Passover (but there are conflicting opinions about that).
However, men must eat matza in order to fulfill the commandment of eating two meals a day on each of the festival days.
Passover: Seder
Seder: Principles
Seder: Purpose
It is praiseworthy to tell the story of Passover even if you know all the details and interpretations (as did the great rabbis of the Talmud), because of the principle of “in order to remember” (lema'an tizkor): that we should remember everything God did for us when taking us out of Egypt.
The Three Discussion Points
The most important part of the seder is discussing:
  • Passover offering (Pesach),
  • Unleavened bread (matza), and
  • Bitter herbs (maror).
These three segments should be read from the Passover hagada in the Hebrew.  If anyone does not understand the Hebrew, these paragraphs and the concepts they express must be explained in whatever language he or she can understand.
Children at the Seder
Children are an integral part of the sederWe try to get children to ask questions and then we teach them the answers.  The Torah says to do this!
Acknowledging God's Miracles
We acknowledge God's miracles in sending the plagues against the Egyptians and their gods and in taking the Children of Israel out of slavery and Egypt.
Telling Our History
We tell our history beginning with Jacob (Yaakov) and Laban (Lavan) and on to slavery and, finally, to achieving freedom.
Seder: Practices
Seder: Practices: Halachot
Leaning to the Left
Every male (13 years old and above) at the seder is required by halacha to lean to the left side while:
  • Drinking each of the four cups of wine.
  • Eating matza for each of these mitzvot: motzi, matza, koreich, afikoman.
Ideally, lean onto something to your left, such as a chair or couch. A pillow is nice but optional.
Note Women and girls are not required to lean at any time during the meal.
Seder: Practices: Customs
Seder Customs
Here are some seder customs:
  1. Have someone else pour the water over your hands for washing before karpas.
  2. Have someone else pour your wine for you.
Seder Plate
Five Foods of the Seder Plate
Seder plate consists of five foods: 

Shank Bone
Shank bone, meat, or a neck represents the Passover lamb offering.
Note Any part of any kosher animal or bird may be used for this purpose except liver. You may even use roasted lamb, but you may not eat it.

Egg represents the holiday offering (chagiga).

Bitter Herbs
Bitter herbs (maror), such as romaine, horseradish, or endive, represent the bitterness of slavery.

Charoset (sweet mixture of nuts and fruits) reminds us of the mortar the Jews used to build the Egyptian storage cities.

Vegetable such as parsley or potato (karpas). The vegetable does not represent anything and is there to motivate the children to ask questions.
Seder: Three Matzas
Introduction to Three Matzas (Matzot)
The seder table also has a stack of three matzas (matzot), representing, among other meanings:
  • Cohen-Levi-Yisrael:  The three divisions of Jews
  • Abraham-Isaac-Jacob:  The three forefathers
These matzot are used later in the seder for the steps of Motzi and Matza (top and middle matzas); the middle matza becomes the “Afikoman.”
Seder: Steps
Kadeish: Four Cups of Wine
Kadeish: Making Kiddush
Passover Kiddush
Passover, like all Jewish festivals, is differentiated from weekdays by saying kiddush.
Everyone Must Drink at Seder
At the Passover seder, all Jews above the age of bar mitzva or bat mitzva (including women--unlike on other Jewish festivals) must drink wine for kiddush and for the other three times in the seder when the borei pri ha'gafen blessing is said.
Note On the other Jewish festivals, only one person needs to drink the wine when kiddush is said, and that will cover and fulfill everyone else's requirement for that kiddush.
Note Only children and people who will get sick if they drink alcohol are permitted to drink grape juice at seder.
Alcohol Content of Seder Wine
You may dilute the seder wine to a minimum of 4\% alcohol.
Red Wine or White for Seder
If you have equally good red wine and white wine, the red is preferred for the four cups at the seder. If your white wine is better or if you prefer white wine, use that.
Drinking More

You may drink more wine between the first and second cups, between the second and third cups, but not between the third and fourth cups.


Kadeish: Four Cups, Four Roles
Four Cups, Four Roles
Each of the four cups has a different role:
  • First Cup: Kiddush to sanctify the holiday.
  • Second Cup: Sanctifying the hagada.
  • Third Cup: Sanctifying Birkat ha'mazon.
  • Fourth Cup: Sanctifying Hallel.
Kadeish: Four Cups, Four Expressions
Four Cups, Four Expressions
The four cups of wine relate to the four expressions God used when telling what he would do to bring the Israelites out of Egypt:
  • V'hotzeiti   I will send them out.
  • V'hitzalti    I will save them.
  • V'ga'alti     I will redeem them.
  • V'lakachti  I will take them.
Kadeish: Fifth Cup
Fifth Cup
The fifth cup of wine at seder, for Eliyahu (Elijah) the prophet, symbolizes v'heiveiti--“I will bring them.”
Reason In the future, everyone will drink five cups of seder wine. (Some say the term v'heiveiti is not part of the redemption and some say it is a stage that has not happened yet.)
The cup of Eliyahu (which is not intended to be drunk by Eliyahu) should be used for kiddush the next morning. Various customs dictate when to fill Eliyahu's cup; it may be filled anytime from the beginning of the seder.
Kadeish: How Much To Fill and Drink
Four Cups: Minimum Quantity To Fulfill Mitzva
Minimum wine to fulfill the seder mitzva:
  • Each person must drink four cups of wine at the seder;
  • Each cup must hold at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml);
  • For each blessing on the wine, you must drink at least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) within 30 seconds of when you begin to drink each cup.
Majority of the Cup/Rov Kos
The seder is the only time in the year that you must drink most of your cup (rov kos) of kiddush wine. (For kiddush on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, you need drink only 2 fl. oz., or 59 ml).  So if you have a cup larger than 4 fl. oz. (119 ml), you may have to drink a lot of wine--more than half of each cup for four cups! 
Note You may drink other liquids between the first and second cups of wine at the seder, but it is not recommended.
Kadeish: Leaning To Left
Leaning To Left while Drinking Four Cups
Every male at the seder is required to lean to the left side while drinking each cup of wine.
U'rchatz: Wash Hands (No blessing)
U'rchatz (No blessing)
Wash hands from a cup of water but do not say a blessing on washing.
Reason We are about to eat food that is wet and Jews may not eat wet food if their hands have spiritual impurity (tum'a).
Karpas: Eat the Vegetable
Karpas Blessing
Dip the karpas in the salt water and say the blessing borei pri ha'adama; keep in mind that this blessing will also apply to the bitter herbs you will eat later in the seder.
How Much Karpas To Eat
Eating any amount of karpas fulfills the mitzva of eating karpas at seder, but you may not eat more than 0.6 fl. oz. (17 ml, or 1/12 cup).
Yachatz: Break the Matza
Breaking the Middle Matza
Break the middle of the three matzas and hide the larger part.
Reason As with most of the actions we do at the seder, this is to evoke curiosity in children. It also represents the idea that poor people can't afford a whole loaf of bread or might save some food for the next day.
Magid: Tell the Story
Four Questions
The Four Questions are actually only one question and that question is:

Why is this night different from all other nights?
Seder in Bnei Brak
The teachers in Bnai Brak were so engrossed in telling the Passover story that they did not notice that it was after sunrise.
Reason They may have been in a windowless room since they were risking their lives by celebrating Passover, against Roman law.
Like 70 Years Old
Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya says he is “like 70 years old” because even though he was only 18 years old, his hair turned white overnight as if God approved his appointment as Sanhedrin head.
Four Sons
Only three of the Four Sons' questions are mentioned in the Torah (which all related to the Passover sacrifice), since the fourth (smallest) child cannot ask questions. Regarding this child, the hagada says, "Aht p'tach lo" (in the feminine).
Reason  The mother is supposed to be a child's primary teacher while the child is young.
There is a difference in attitude between the wise son and the evil son: The wise son says "Eloheinu" (OUR God); he is asking a question and seeking and answer. The evil son makes a statement (sort of a rhetorical question), instead of asking a question for which he seeks an answer.
Why is there a “wise” (chacham) son and not a “righteous” (tzadik) son, which would be the logical counterpart to the “evil” (rasha) son? 
We don't know who is a tzadik. We cannot be sure by external appearance or even by seeing certain behaviors. We can tell who is a chacham by hearing him speak or by discussing Torah with him.
Yet, regardless of the sons' level of observance, it is a commandment to teach them about going out of Egypt.
Calculating the End (of Slavery)
God told Avraham (Abraham) that his children would be living in “lands not their own” and would be enslaved for 400 years, Yet the Torah states that the Israelites were in Egypt for 210 years.  So we say God “calculated the end” (chisheiv et ha'keitz) of the enslavement: He started the counting from the birth of Avraham's son, Yitzchak (Isaac), until the Exodus (a total of 400 years), as follows:
Time from Birth of Avraham's Son to Going Down to Egypt
  • Yaakov (Jacob) was born when Yitzchak was 60 years old.
  • Yaakov told Par'o (Pharoah) (when he and the rest of his family entered Egypt) that he was 130 years old.
  • 60 + 130= 190 years before going down to Egypt
Time in Egypt
210 years in Egypt
Time from Birth of Avraham's Son to Exodus
  190 Before going down to Egypt
+ 210 In Egypt
= 400 years from Yitzchak's birth to the Exodus.
Note Yitzchak and Yaakov did not yet “own” Eretz Yisrael. Since the Israelites were not given Eretz Yisrael until after the Exodus, Avraham's offspring were living in “lands not their own” for 400 years.
V'Hi She'Amda and Lefichach
When we lift up our wine cups at v'hi she'amda and at lefichach, we cover the matza.
Reason So the matza won't feel “embarrassed,” since bread/matza is more important than wine.
Let Us Deal Cleverly (Hava Nitchakma)
Hava nitchakma (let us deal cleverly) was an attempt at a clever way to keep the Israelites as slaves.
Reason The Egyptians were afraid the Israelites might join the Egyptians' enemies in a war.
Ten Plagues
Each of the plagues was against one of the Egyptian gods, to show that they were actually powerless.
Spilling Drops of Wine
We spill 10 drops of wine when reading the list of plagues.
Reason Wine symbolizes happiness and so we drink less wine to show that we are sad that the Egyptians suffered.
In "the plague of the first-borns" (makat bechorot), did the first-borns suffer by dying or did their families suffer more?
In Rabbi Yehuda's abbreviations of the ten plagues, d'tzach-adash-b'achav, the abbreviation ends with the Hebrew letter “vet” for bechorot (first-borns), implying that it was the families who suffered, since if it ended with a “mem” for makat bechorot, it would have been the first-borns who suffered.
In dayenu, we say that at each level of what God did for us, it would have been enough. Since we didn't get the Torah until one of the last stages, this seems incorrect, since of what value is money, wandering in the desert, and all of the other details if we don't have the Torah?
The answer is that we need to be grateful to God for each miracle that we received, and that at each stage, we owe praise and thanks to God.
Also, in one sense, we already had the Torah (in some version, even though not in the form in which Moses/Moshe wrote it later).
Pesach, Matza, and Maror
Pesach, matza, and maror should be read and explained with special attention.
Reason They are the main parts of the seder and of the commandment to have a seder.
In Every Generation
The hagada tells us that in every generation, a person must see himself as if he had personally gone out of Egypt.  If so, why didn't our Sages suggest how to visualize or recreate the experience?
It is not possible to actually see ourselves as having left slavery. Rather, we should feel our obligation to do the mitzvot (commandments) as the Israelites felt when they left Egypt, as they switched from being slaves to serving Hashem. We can be freed (b'nei chorin) from physical or spiritual slavery.
Why Matza and Not Bread

Question: Why didn't the Israelites bake bread (the Torah says that they did not have time for the dough to rise)? They knew 14 days ahead of time (on Rosh Chodesh Nisan) that they would be leaving, and they knew it would be middle of night (since God said that is when they would leave).
Answer: The Israelites did not do anything to prepare, except what God told them to do: the Passover offering and putting blood on their doorposts.

Rachtza: Wash Hands (With a blessing)
How To Wash Your Hands for Rachtza
To wash hands for rachtza:
  • Fill the washing cup with at least 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of water.
  • Pour enough water (may be as little as 1.3 fl. oz.--39 ml, or 1/6 cup) from the washing cup to completely cover your entire first hand (either hand may be first, but it is the custom to wash your right hand first).
  • Pour enough water to completely cover the second hand.
You do not need to pour more than once per hand and you do not need to break up the revi'it into more than one pour for each hand.
Handwashing Blessing
Say the blessing on washing hands, ending in al netilat yadayim.
Motzi Matza: Bless on/Eat Matza
Matza: Why
Matza: Meaning
Matza represents:
  • Food of poor people, and
  • The unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when leaving Egypt.
Note A pun reflects this dual meaning of poor bread plus the story of leaving Egypt, since “lechem oni” may mean “bread of poor people” or “bread of (many) answers.”
Matza: What Kind
When Shmura Matza Is Necessary
The only time you must use shmura matza is for the four commandments of motzi, matza, koreich, and afikoman.
Note You may use any other kosher for Passover matza, even for the rest of seder. There is no need for using shmura matza for the other days of Passover.
Hand Shmura Matza or Machine Shmura Matza
Hand shmura matza has some advantage in that it was made with the intention of being for a mitzva, but machine shmura matza has the advantage of being less likely to become chametz since it is automated and not touched by human hands.
Matza: How Much
How Much Matza To Eat
Motzi, Matza
For motzi and matza together, you must eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of matza within a 4-minute period from when you begin eating.

For afikoman, you must eat another 1.9 fl. oz of matzab'di'avad, at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) is sufficient. 
Note This amount is about 1/2 of a machine shmura matza, or 1/3 of a hand shmura matza
Note If your mouth is too dry to eat that quickly, you may drink water with the matza.
Motzi/Matza: Blessings
Why Two Blessings over Matza
We say two blessings over the matza: ha'motzi lechem min ha'aretz and al achilat matza.
Reason The blessing on motzi is one of enjoyment (nehenin); the blessing on matza is a blessing on a commandment (mitzva).
How To Do Motzi and Matza
The seder leader says the blessing “ha'motzi” while holding the three (which are now 2 1/2) shmura matzas, drops the bottom one, and says the next blessing, al achilat matza.  Everyone takes a small piece from the two top matzas and eats it, along with enough additional shmura matza to fulfill the minimum requirement.
Maror: Eat Bitter Vegetable
Maror: What To Eat
The ideal bitter vegetable for maror at the Passover seder is horseradish. Horseradish for maror:
  • Must be fresh enough to be sharp.
  • Should be ground (if ground ahead of time, it must be stored in a covered container until the seder).
  • Must not have liquid (horseradish with beets added is not suitable for use as maror).
Note Many people have the custom to use romaine lettuce for maror (be careful to check for bugs on the romaine).
Maror: How Much To Eat
The minimum amount to fulfill the mitzva of eating maror at seder is 0.65 fl. oz. (19 ml), or about the volume of 1/3 of an egg.
Note If you choose to use romaine instead of horseradish for maror, the minimum amount is about 2-3 stems (depending on their size), or enough leaves if crushed to make up 0.65 fl. oz.
Note It is even better to eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup).
Maror: How To Eat It
Say the blessing “al achilat maror.”
Dip the maror into the charoset and shake off all but a little bit of the charoset.
Do not lean when eating the maror.
Note The blessing for maror was included in the borei pri ha'adama blessing, which was said on the karpas earlier in the seder.
Koreich: Eat the Sandwich
Koreich: How Much Matza To Eat
You need eat only 0.95 fl. oz. (28 ml) of matza within four minutes of beginning to eat it to fulfill the commandment of koreich.
Koreich: How Much Maror To Eat
For koreich, use the same amount of maror as for the maror commandment. See Maror: How Much To Eat.
How To Eat Koreich
To eat the koreich:
  • Put some bitter herbs on the matza.
  • Lean to the left when eating the koreich.
Shulchan Oreich: Eat the Festival Meal
Lamb and Other Meat at Seder
Don't eat roasted meat of any kind at the seder, including roasted poultry.
Reason So it will not be confused with the Passover offering.
Note You may eat lamb as long as it is not roasted.
What Constitutes Non-Roasted Meat at Seder?
Meat is not considered to be roasted if, when the baking began, there was at least 1/4" of liquid in the cooking utensil with the meat.
Tzafun: Hidden (Afikoman)
When To Finish Afikoman
You should ideally finish afikoman by midnight at the Passover seder, but you may eat it later than midnight if you have not finished (or even started!) your meal by then. 

Eating or Drinking after Afikoman
After eating the afikoman on Passover, you may not eat again until daybreak, but you will still drink two more cups of wine and you may drink water anytime through the night.
Bareich: Say Birkat HaMazon
Forgetting Afikoman
If you said birkat ha'mazon at the seder but had forgotten to eat the afikoman, you must:
  • Wash your hands,
  • Say ha'motzi,
  • Eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of matza,
  • Say birkat ha'mazon again, and then
  • Drink the third cup of wine.
Opening the Door/ Sh’foch Chamatcha
Sh'foch Chamatcha
Open the door at this point.
Reason To show our trust in God to protect us, since the first night of Passover is called a night of watching (leil shimurim), when God provides special protection for the Jewish people. 
Note You should open the door unless you are in an unsafe neighborhood. If the neighborhood is dangerous, it may be forbidden by Jewish law to live there at any time.
Hallel: Saying Hallel Psalms
Hallel Divided at Seder
At the seder, hallel is divided into two parts. The first two psalms, read before the meal, deal with the exodus from Egypt. The remaining psalms, read after the meal, concern other miracles and the future of the Jewish nation.
Hallel at Night at Passover Seder
There are many opinions as to why we read hallel at night: most are related either to praising God for saving the Jewish people or to accompanying the Passover sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Nirtza: Accepted
Acceptance of Seder and Commandments
We hope that God accepts our seder and all of the commandments that we have done on this night.
Passover: Chol HaMoed and Ending Day(s)
Passover: Chol HaMoed and Ending Day(s): Prayers and Blessings
Passover: Chol HaMoed and Ending Day(s): Blessings for Matza Brei
Matza Brei Blessing
The blessing on matza brei is mezonot, as long as the pieces of matza are smaller than 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) each. If even one of the pieces is larger than 1.3 fl. oz., wash your hands and say ha'motzi before eating it.
Passover: Ending Day(s): SheHecheyanu
Passover: Ending Day(s): SheHecheyanu
Do not say she'hecheyanu when lighting candles or saying kiddush on the last two days of Passover outside of Eretz Yisrael or the last day of Passover in Eretz Yisrael.
Note These are the only Jewish festival days on which she'hecheyanu is not said.
Passover: Chol HaMoed and Ending Day(s): Hallel
Shortened Hallel on Seventh Day of Passover
We omit parts of two of hallel's psalms on chol ha'moed and the seventh (and eighth) day(s) of Passover.
Reason The Egyptians drowned on the seventh day. We thus dampen our celebration of God's saving us because we feel sorry that people had to die, even though they were evil.
Note Since chol ha'moed is less important than the final days of Passover, we diminish hallel on chol ha'moed by omitting the same passages.
When You May Buy Chametz Food Again
Store Owned by Jew Who Owned Chametz
You may buy chametz food from a store owned by a Jew who owned chametz during Passover as long as two weeks or more have passed since Passover ended.
Reason It is assumed that the old chametz has already been sold by then.
Note If you are certain that chametz in the store was there at any time during Passover, you may not buy it.
Store Owned by Someone Who Did Not Own Chametz
You may buy chametz from a store owned by non-Jews (or by Jews who did not own chametz during Passover) as soon as the holiday has ended.
Introduction to Omer
Introduction to Omer
Omer is counted for 49 days, from the second day of Passover to the day before ShavuotOmer connects the two holidays both physically and spiritually.  In Biblical times, an omer (a specific measure of volume) of barley was brought as an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem on the second day of Passover.  Once the barley offering had been brought, all grain changed status from “chadash” to “yashan” and could be eaten.
Due to tragedies that occurred during the omer period, especially the death of 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva during the second century, we observe a semi-mourning period during 33 days of the 49 days of the omer.
Omer: Counting
Halacha and Custom in Counting Omer
The only halacha of “counting the omer” is to say the blessing and then count the omer.  Anything else is custom. 
"Counting the Omer" Blessing
The blessing over counting the omer is “al sefirat ha'omer.”
How To Count Omer before Dark
The ideal time and way to count the omer is to wait until dark, stand up, say the blessing, and then count the omer for that day.
SITUATION You want to count the omer before dark (as is often done in synagogues at the end of ma'ariv).
STATUSSince the correct practice is to count the omer after dark, you should:
  • Count again with a blessing sometime after dark, or else 
  • Count during the following day (but before sunset) without a blessing.
WHAT TO DO  Do the counting without saying the blessing and make a condition (mentally or verbally, either is OK) that if you remember to count the omer again after dark, the first time you counted, does not count (!) Then, if you do remember after dark, say the blessing and count the omer for that day a second time.

If You Forget To Count Omer at Night
Situation You forgot to count omer at night.
What To Do
  • Count the next morning/daytime without a blessing. Then,
  • Resume saying the blessing the subsequent night.
If You Do Not Count Omer before Next Day Sunset
Situation You forgot to count omer at night and didn't count the following day before dark.
What To Do Do not say the omer blessing any more that year, but do continue to count the omer without the blessing.
Omer Period
Omer Period: How To Determine
Methods of Counting the Omer Period
The mourning period during the counting of the omer (sefirat ha'omer) lasts for 33 days, but there are three ways to count them:
  1. Second night of Passover until Lag ba'Omer (33rd day of counting the omer).
  2. Rosh Chodesh Iyar until the third day before Shavuot (excludes Lag ba'Omer).
  3. Second day of Iyar until Shavuot.
You may change your observance from year to year, if necessary.
Omer Period: Who Counts
Women and Girls Counting Omer
Women and girls are not required to count the omer. But if they do, they say the blessing (if appropriate) and it is a mitzva for them.
Boy Who Becomes Bar Mitzva during Omer
A boy becomes bar mitzva during the omer.  He has been counting the omer and has said the omer blessing without missing a day.
What To Do
He continues counting as he had been doing.
Note Boys should be counting the omer with a blessing from before they become bar mitzva, so there should not be any break.
Omer Period: Restrictions
Omer Period: Forbidden Activities
Forbidden Activities During Omer Period
These are forbidden during the chosen omer period:
  • Haircuts
  • Shaving
  • Listening to any music, even pre-recorded
  • Getting married.
Omer Period: Permitted Activities
Buying Clothes Allowed during Omer
You may buy and wear new clothes during sefirat ha'omer.
Cutting Nails Allowed during Omer
You may cut your nails during sefirat ha'omer.
Saying SheHecheyanu Allowed during Omer
You may say she'hecheyanu during sefirat ha'omer.  
Swimming Allowed during Omer
You may swim during sefirat ha'omer.
Pesach Sheni
Significance of Pesach Sheini
Only significance of Pesach Sheini now: No tachanun is said.
Introduction to Shavuot
Introduction to Shavuot
Shavuot (Yom HaBikurim in the Torah) celebrates and commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai.
Beginning with the second night of Passover, the Israelites who left Egypt underwent 49 days of spiritual improvement and purification until they were ready to receive the Torah from God (Shavuot ends this 49-day “omer” period).  We can undergo a similar process of spiritual development each year during these 49 days (how to do that is beyond the scope of this website). According to our tradition, the Israelites in Egypt had sunk to the 49th level of spiritual impurity (tum'a). The Israelites had to raise themselves in 49 daily stages to be worthy of receiving the Torah.  Several books and siddurs portray the 49 days of the omer as corresponding to the Seven Sefirot embedded in the seven weeks.  This awareness can help us work on and maximize the power inherent in each day of the omer to fix that particular sefira in ourselves. We thus relive this transition from slavery to freedom and the service of God each year as we try to perfect our midot (personal characteristics) to again be worthy of receiving the Torah on Shavuot.

Symbolism of the Shavuot Offering
In the Temple in Jerusalem, the only communal sacrifice of leavened bread was on Shavuot. Leavening in dough is compared to arrogance in humans (people puff themselves up to look more important than they actually are). During Passover we destroy, and refrain from eating, leaven--just as we try to destroy/remove arrogance from our personalities. After Passover, we continue to work on our personal traits (midot) until we reach Shavuot, when we celebrate receiving the Torah.  At Shavuot, we Jews have a right to feel important, since we are spiritually elevated by virtue of having been given the Torah.
Shavuot: Universal Customs
The universal custom is to eat at least one dairy food during Shavuot.
Possible reason  At the time the Israelites received the Torah, they did not have any kosher meat (they had not been required to eat kosher until then) and so the only food they were permitted to eat was dairy food.
Another universal custom is to stay awake all night (if possible) studying Torah.
Shavuot: Symbols
Unlike other Jewish festivals, Shavuot has no concrete symbols and no specific unique commandments/mitzvot, other than sacrifices that were brought in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Shavuot: Prayer Services
Shavuot: Timing of Ma'ariv
On the first night of Shavuot, ma'ariv may not be started until dark. On the second night, ma'ariv may be said from 1 1/4 hours before sunset.
Isru Chag
Isru Chag: Tachanun and Eulogies
Do not say tachanun or give eulogies on isru chag (day after a Jewish festival ends).
Jewish Festival Checklist
Preparing for Jewish Festivals
Here are some suggestions (they are NOT halachot!) of what to prepare in advance of Jewish festivals. Add or delete to suit your needs!
Candle Lighting
  • Check candle lighting time
  • Set the candles in their holders (and have matches nearby)
Set the Table
Set the table, including the challa and its cover
Kitchen Preparation
  • Sharpen knives
  • Tear paper towels
  • Refrigerator: Turn off or unscrew lights; disconnect any LEDs or fans
  • Turn on blechstove, oven, etc., for whatever you will need
  • Set up hot water urn
  • Turn off stove, oven, if needed
Food Preparation
  • Thaw frozen meat, fish, and other food that might take hours to defrost before being cooked
  • Cook whatever can be cooked ahead of time
  • Squeeze lemons; do any other boreir-type preparations
  • Chill wine
  • Open bottles and cans that will be needed on the Jewish festival
  • Make beds
  • Sweep or vacuum
  • Dump garbage
  • Do laundry
  • Empty pockets of muktza
  • For men, set out Jewish festival talit
Check that nothing you will need is beneath a muktza item
Personal Care
  • Cut hair and nails, if needed
  • For men, shave or trim beard and mustache, if needed
  • Tear dental floss
  • Tear toilet paper or put out tissues in bathrooms
  • Open any new boxes of tissues
  • Set heat or air conditioning
  • Turn on or off lights, or set timers for them
  • If desired, turn off or disconnect:
  • Alarms 
  • Cellphones and phones
  • Computers
  • Microwave detectors
  • Other electronics
Rabbinic Holidays
Introduction to Chanuka
Introduction to Chanuka
Chanuka commemorates the miracle of God's saving the Jews during the time of the Greek empire. The Greeks wanted to destroy Judaism and Jewish practices and have the Jews follow the Greek culture and religion. A small group of Jews defeated the Greek army, which was the world's greatest military force at the time. Contrast Chanuka with Purim (on Purim, the Jews' physical lives were in danger while on Chanuka, their religion was being threatened).
Chanuka: Background
Chanuka: Main Miracle
The main miracle of Chanuka was in defeating the Greeks; the oil's burning for eight days was secondary.
Chanuka: Why Eight Days
Eight days were required for the people who had contact with dead people to become ritually pure in order to make new olive oil.
Chanuka: Why Asher Kidshanu
Chazal have the authority to make laws, so we say “Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us” (asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu) for Chanuka blessings and other purposes that Chazal instituted after the Torah was given.
Chanuka: Customs
Chanuka: Customs: Foods
It is a non-binding custom to eat potato pancakes (latkes) on Chanuka; in Israel, it is also a non-binding custom to eat jelly-filled doughnuts (sufganiot).
Chanuka: Candles
Chanuka Candles: Meaning
Chanuka: Candles: Meaning
The reason for lighting Chanuka candles is to publicize the Chanuka miracle (pirsumei nisa).
Chanuka: Candles: What To Light
Chanuka: Candles: What To Light: Menora Shape
All eight candle holders of a chanuka menora must be on the same level. The menora itself may be curved horizontally.
The shamash must be slightly raised or lowered or to the side of the menora or in the center, as long as it clearly is not part of the other eight candles.
Note You may put oil lights directly onto a windowsill or other level surface, but candles must be in or on some type of holder.
Chanuka: Candles: How Many To Light
Chanuka: Candles: One per House
The basic commandment is for one Chanuka candle to be lit per house per night. The extra candles (matching the number of days in Chanuka) and having every male light his own menora is an enhancement and a custom.
Note Having every male in the family light his own Chanuka candles is a universally accepted but non-binding custom among Ashkenazi Jews.
Chanuka: Candles: One Shamash per Area
You only need one service (shamash) candle for any amount of Chanuka candles/oil lamps (menorot) in the same area.

Chanuka: Candles: Who Should Light
Chanuka: Candles: Who May Light
Anyone in the household who has reached bar or bat mitzva age can light Chanuka candles, thereby fulfilling the halachic requirement that one candle per household per night must be lit.
Chanuka: Candles: Light for Yourself
Light Chanuka candles for yourself, even if there are no other people around. If there are other people asleep in the house who have not fulfilled the mitzva of lighting Chanuka candles, you should wake them so they can see the candles. Do not wake children below gil chinuch.
Chanuka: Candles: Obligation for Women To Light
Women, like men, are required to light Chanuka candles or have them lit for them.
Note It was not traditionally customary for women and girls to light when men were present. The custom is that in a house in which the husband lights Chanuka candles, the wife does not also light. However, a wife is required to light if her husband is not present, and girls (above 12 years old) are required to light if no men are present.
Chanuka: Candles: Wife May Light for Husband
A wife may light Chanuka candles for her husband if he is not home.
Note If your wife lit for you and you return late at night, you do not need to light for yourself.
Chanuka: Candles: Where To Light
Chanuka: Candles: Light in Own Home, Except...
Light Chanuka candles in your own house, unless you are not in the city in which you live.
Note Even though the menora is for publicizing the miracle, Chazal set the observance to take place in each person's home (and not in groups at one home with several families together).
Chanuka: Candles: Place Anywhere
You may place Chanuka candles anywhere (but they should be lit wherever you are staying). Outside of Eretz Yisrael, it is customary to place them by a window, ideally facing the street.
Note Consult a rabbi as to whether candles should be lit inside an aquarium or other box as is sometimes done in Israel, since the candles should not be lit in a place where the wind would blow them out if not for the box around them.
Chanuka: Candles: When To Light
Chanuka: Candles: Light After Dark
Chanuka candles should be lit after dark (except on Fridays).
Note You may light chanuka candles as much as 1 ¼ hours before dark (not 1 ¼ hours before sunset!) but the ideal and proper time is after dark.
Note Although eating a snack, working, and other activities are permitted before lighting the candles, nothing should be done that might make you forget to light the candles, and it is best to light the candles as soon as possible.
Chanuka: Candles: Latest Time To Light
Latest time to light Chanuka candles: 102 minutes before sunrise (so they will burn for 30 minutes before daybreak).
Chanuka: Candles: If You Fell Asleep before Lighting
Wake up sometime during the night and light the Chanuka candles if you fell asleep before dark.
Chanuka: Candles: How Long Must Burn
Chanuka: Candles: Must Burn 30 Minutes
Chanuka candles must burn for at least 30 minutes after dark.
Chanuka: Candles: Relighting Candle That Burned Out
A Chanuka candle (or candles) that is expected to burn for at least 30 minutes does not need to be replaced or relit, even if it burns out in less than 30 minutes.
Chanuka: Candles: Relighting Candle that Blew Out
You do not need to relight Chanuka candles that blew out after having burned for less than 30 minutes after dark, if they had been lit in a place where they would not be expected to have blown out.
If they were lit in a windy or drafty place, you must relight them in a different place and say the blessings again.
Chanuka: Candles: What You May Do While…
Chanuka: Candles: Do Not Use Light
You may not use light from Chanuka candles for any purpose (do not read by them; do not light other candles from them, except from the shamash).
Chanuka: Candles: No Work While Candles Burning
Do not do any “work” while the Chanuka candles are burning.
Reason In order to show that we are not using the candles for any other purpose.
Note “Work” may include some housework but usually means skilled labor done by professionals that may not be done on chol ha'moed and that requires light to do it.
Chanuka: Candles: How To Light
Chanuka Candles: Light Left to Right; Add Right to Left
Light Chanuka candles from left to right, as you face it, not as it will be seen from outside the window. Add the new candle from right to left.  For example, on the first night, put the candle on the extreme right of the menora.
To set up and light Chanuka candles:
  • Set up the candles starting from the right side of the menora.
  • Light the shamash candle and hold it while you say the blessings:
    • Lehadlik ner shel Chanuka.
    • She'asa nisim l'avoteinu ba'yamim ha'heim ba'zman ha'zeh.
    • (And on the first night, add) She'hecheyanu.
  • Light the left-most candle first and proceed to the next candle on the right, and so on.
  • Once you have lit the first candle each night, say ha'neirot hallalu (this is a halacha).
Note Once the menora has been lit, you may not turn or move it, even to the window.
Note Saying Ma'oz Tzur is a widespread custom but is not required.
Chanuka: Candles: Lighting on Friday
On Friday of Chanuka, light Shabbat candles after Chanuka candles; at least one Chanuka candle must burn until at least 30 minutes after dark.
If a man forgets to light the Chanuka candles, he may still light them until sunset or until he says Mizmor shir l'yom haShabbat, whichever comes earlier. 
But women start Shabbat when they light the Shabbat candles and so they may not light Chanuka candles after lighting Shabbat candles.
Chanuka: Candles: SheHecheyanu on Later Days
Say she'hecheyanu the first time you light Chanuka candles each year:
  • Even if your first time is the second or subsequent nights.
  • Even if someone lit for you the previous night.
Chanuka: Synagogue Menora
Chanuka: Synagogue Menora: Where

A Chanuka menora in a synagogue should be set up at the front of the synagogue, oriented east-west, and lit while standing on the south side and facing north (the person lighting will be facing toward the inside of the synagogue).

Chanuka: Synagogue Menora: How Long To Burn
The Chanuka candles in synagogue do not need to burn for 30 minutes after dark or even for any 30-minute period but that is the ideal minimum duration for burning.
Chanuka: Synagogue Menora: SheHecheyanu in Synagogue
If you light the Chanuka menora in the synagogue on the first night of Chanuka, say she'hecheyanu in synagogue. When you go home, if you light only for yourself, do not say she'hecheyanu again. However, if you light for your wife or for any adults including children above the age of bar or bat mitzva, say she'hecheyanu again.
Chanuka: Hallel
Chanuka: Hallel on Rosh Chodesh
When Chanuka coincides with Rosh Chodesh, say full hallel (as is done on all days of Chanuka, instead of the "half-hallel" that is said on Rosh Chodesh).
Fast Days
Introduction to Fast Days
Introduction to Fast Days
Introduction to Fast Days
The purpose of Jewish fast days is to make us reflect on our behavior and improve it by:
  • Eliminating negative actions and thoughts, and
  • Taking more care in our observance of the commandments.
God told the Jewish people on many occasions that He did not want their pointless sacrifices or fast days but rather wanted the Jews to improve their behavior. If people fast but still have reprehensible behavior, the people have missed the point and purpose of bringing sacrifices and having fast days.
All fast days may be circumvented for health reasons. Consult a rabbi.

Fast days come in several varieties:
  • Major fast days: Yom Kippur and the Ninth of Av (Tish'a B'Av). 
  • Minor fast days: There are four minor fast days; see below.
  • Fast for First-Born
  • Individual Fasts

The Major Fasts
Yom Kippur and the Ninth of Av begin before sunset and are both slightly longer than 24 hours. Yom Kippur is a festive day while, on the Ninth of Av, Jews mourn for the destruction of both Jerusalem Temples (the first was destroyed by Babylonians; the second, by the Romans). On both fasts, it is forbidden to:
  • Eat or drink.
  • Wear leather shoes (but you may wear any other clothing made of leather).
  • Bathe (or even to wash anything more than fingers; you may not use a deodorant--not even a spray type--since it is similar to washing).
  • Have marital relations.
  • Use cosmetics or body scents.

The Minor Fasts
The four minor fasts begin 72 minutes before local sunrise. They technically end at dark but functionally end after ma'ariv (and for the Fast of Esther, after hearing the megila). Unlike most times in the Jewish calendar, this 72 minutes is normal time and NOT based on the current length of the day (sha'a zmanit):
  • Fast of Esther (Ta'anit Esther): Day preceding Purim (or sometimes earlier).
  • Fast of Gedalia (Tzom Gedalia): Usually the day after Rosh Hashana.
  • Tenth of Tevet (Asara b' Tevet):
  • Seventeenth of Tamuz (Shiv'asar b'Tamuz): Beginning of the Three Weeks of semi-mourning beforeTish'a b'Av.
On all fast days, eating and drinking are forbidden. The Tenth of Tevet and the Seventeenth of Tamuz additionally have the same restrictions as the Nine Days. So you may wash or bathe on the Fast of Esther and on Tzom Gedalia but not on the Tenth of Tevet and the Seventeenth of Tamuz. (See Nine Days: Restrictions).
Note On a fast day that has been delayed for Shabbat, there may be leniencies for:
  • The mohel, sandak, and father of a baby getting a brit mila to eat after mincha.
  • Pregnant or nursing women (this leniency applies to eating throughout the day).
Fast for First Born
Fast for first-born males 13 years old and older, on the day before Passover. This includes first-born cohanim and Levites (levi'im). The fast begins 72 normal minutes before sunrise and ends with kiddush at the seder. However, the widespread custom is to attend a siyum on the day before the first seder so that the first-born men do not need to fast on that day.
Personal Fasts
Fast by a groom and bride on their wedding day is an example of personal fasts. This fast begins 72 normal minutes before sunrise and ends with drinking wine under the chuppa.
Fast Days: Timing
Fast Days: When They Start
Fasts that Start 72 Minutes before Sunrise
All fasts start 72 minutes (normal time) before sunrise except for the Ninth of Av and Yom Kippur.  These include:
  • 17th of Tamuz
  • 10th of Tevet
  • Tzom Gedalia
  • Fast of Esther
  • Fast by a groom and bride on their wedding day
  • Fast for first-born males on the day before Passover. This includes first-born cohanim and Levites (levi'im).
Note Unlike most times in the Jewish calendar, this 72 minutes is normal time and NOT based on the current length of the day (sha'a zmanit).
Fast Days and Crossing International Dateline
Your fast-day times are determined by where you ARE, not where you started traveling or where you are heading. This means that when you reach sunset (plus enough time for the sky to get dark), your fast is over. 
Fast Days: Practices
Fast Days: Teeth Brushing
Fast Days: Brushing Teeth without Water
You may brush your teeth on Yom Kippur and all other fast days without water and without toothpaste(You may not use water to brush your teeth even on Tenth of Tevet and 17th of Tamuz.)
Fast Days: Flossing on Fast Days
You may floss your teeth on Yom Kippur as long as your gums don't bleed and on other fast days even if they do bleed.
Fast Days: Eating
Fast Days: Tasting Food
You may not taste food (even a minimal amount) on a fast day, even if you are cooking for the end of the fast, such as on Tish'a b'Av.
Fast Days: Health Difficulties
You may eat or drink as necessary on the fasts of the Tenth of Tevet, 17th of Tamuz, and Tzom Gedalia if you are sick, faint, or dehydrated, but only enough to resolve your health difficulty.  Consult a rabbi.
Fast Day: Forgetting
If you forgot and broke your fast on any fast day, you may not continue eating after you remember that you should be fasting.
Fast Days: Prayers
Fast Day: Sim Shalom
Say “sim shalom” instead of “shalom rav at mincha on a fast day, even if you are not fasting at mincha.
Tzom Gedalia: Katveinu
On Tzom Gedalia, when saying avinu malkeinu, say "katveinu" and not "zachreinu."
Tenth of Tevet: Friday
When Tenth of Tevet occurs on a Friday, you may not start Shabbat early in order to cut short the fast.  That is, you may not eat until dark, as is normally the case.
On a fast day, if you are not fasting:
Do not say aneinu.
Do say Sim shalom.
If at least six of the men in a mincha minyan on a fast day are fasting, read the Torah portion Va'yechal (Exodus 32: 11-14). If fewer than six are fasting, omit it.
Three Weeks/Tish'a B'Av
Three Weeks: Three Stages of Mourning
Seventeenth of Tamuz to Tish'a B'Av: Three Stages of Mourning
Before Tish'a b'Av we are in a type of mourning so the laws are similar to mourning for a parent. There are three stages:
The “Three Weeks”: The least severe stage starts three weeks preceding the Ninth of Av
The “Nine Days”:  The next-most severe stage begins on Rosh Chodesh Av.
“Week” of Tish'a b'AvThe most severe mourning is during the “week” of Tish'a b'Av (beginning after Shabbat preceding Tish'a b'Av).
Three Weeks: Restrictions
Three Weeks: Restrictions
Forbidden during the Three Weeks :
  • Saying she'hecheyanu;
  • Shaving;
  • Haircuts;
  • Listening to music (even recorded);
  • Getting married.
Three Weeks: Moving into New Dwelling
You may move into a new home or apartment, whether owning or renting, during the Three Weeks before Tish'a b'Av. Ideally, you should not move into a new place during the Nine Days but if necessary, it is permitted.
Three Weeks: Swimming
If you are swimming for:
  • Pleasure, you may swim during the Three Weeks but not during the Nine Days.
  • Exercise (you don't particularly enjoy swimming or you are not doing it for fun or to cool off), you may be permitted to swim even during the Nine Days. Consult a rabbi.
Three Weeks: Socializing
Activities for socializing are not prohibited during the Three Weeks before Rosh Chodesh Av (but the activities might be prohibited for other reasons such as if they are dangerous).
Three Weeks: Risky Activities
Three Weeks: Dangerous Activities
We are discouraged from doing dangerous activities during the Three Weeks before and including Tish'a b'Av.  But since it is forbidden to do dangerous activities anyway, there are few relevant activities that are forbidden. Some people do not travel during this time but it is not forbidden to do so. Non-urgent surgery should be scheduled for after this period.
First Nine Days of Av
Nine Days: Restrictions
Restrictions during the Nine Days before Tish'a b'Av are the same as for Three Weeks, plus:
  • You may not eat meat or drink wine.
    1. You may drink wine on Shabbat (but not on Rosh Chodesh Av or erev Shabbat.)
    2. You may drink wine for havdala (but ideally give the wine or grape juice to a child between ages 6 and 10).  
    3. You may eat meat or drink wine at a brit, siyum, or pidyon ha'ben.
  • You may not wear freshly laundered clothes, or wear or buy new clothes.
  NOTE You may wear clean socks and underwear. Ideally, throw them on the floor
  first but, b'di'avad, it is OK to wear them even if you did not.
  • You may not wash yourself for pleasure.
    Note Showering or bathing to clean one's soiled body is permitted (except on Tish'a b'Av).  So you may bathe or shower during the Nine Days if you are dirty, sweaty, or smelly.
  • You may not do any activities that involve luxury.
  • You may not say she'hecheyanu except on Shabbat.
    Note Therefore you should not buy new fruits or new items that you will enjoy during the Nine Days.  But if you DO eat a new fruit or buy something new, you must say she'hecheyanu anyway.
Nine Days: Court Cases
Try not to be involved in a court case opposing a non-Jew during the Nine Days.
Reason The Nine Days are considered to be an inauspicious time for Jews.  But if you cannot avoid it, it is not forbidden and you may proceed.
Nine Days: Kiddush Levana
If you are not likely to see the moon on any of the days from the 10th to the 14th of Av, you may say kiddush levana during the Nine Days.
Nine Days: New Projects or Investments
You should not start new projects or make investments during the Nine Days if they can be delayed without incurring a loss.
Reason The Nine Days are considered to be an inauspicious time for Jews.
Nine Days: Painting Your House
You may not paint your house during the Nine Days. Ask a rabbi for possible exceptions.
Nine Days: Swimming
For laws on swimming during the Nine Days, see Three Weeks: Swimming.
Tish’a B’Av
Tish'a B'Av: Pre-Fast Meal
You may say birkat ha'mazon with a mezuman or with a minyan during the Nine Days.  But you may not do so at the meal preceding Tish'a b'Av (se'uda ha'mafseket).
Reason Only bread dipped in ashes and a hard-boiled egg should be eaten and that is not a meal for socializing or togetherness.
Tish'a B'Av: On Saturday Night
When Tish'a B'Av begins on Saturday night, the custom is as follows:
  • Say baruch ha'mavdil when Shabbat ends. 
  • Say the blessing on the candle after ma'ariv.
  • Do not say the remainder of havdala at all. Instead:
    • Wait until Sunday night, after the fast is over, and then
    • Say only the blessing on the wine and the paragraph of ha'mavdil blessings.
Note You will not say the blessings on the spices for havdala for that week.
Tish'a B'Av: Flying
You should not fly on Tish'a b'Av, even if you are flying to Israel to make aliya.
Tish'a B'Av: Hand Washing
On Tish'a B'Av, as on Yom Kippur, if you must wash your hands to remove:
  • Tum'a, you may wash your hands only up to the knuckle that connects your fingers to the rest of your hand (thumb: second knuckle; fingers: third knuckle).
  • Dirt from your hand, you may wash wherever the dirt is on your hand.
Tish'a B'Av: Teeth Brushing
On Tish'a b'Av, you may not brush your teeth using water.  You may use a dry toothbrush. You may floss your teeth.
Tish'a B'Av: Tefilin
Tish'a b'Av is similar to the day of burial of a person and so tefilin are not worn in the morning. The afternoon has a lower level of mourning and so tefilin (and talit gadol) are worn at mincha.
Tish'a B'Av: What To Do until 12 Noon
Activities for Tish'a B'Av until halachic midday:
  • Thinking: Until halachic midday, you should do things and think about things that will keep you in bad spirits or will make you sad.
  • Sitting: You may not sit on any kind of seat that is higher than 12 inches (30 cm) above the floor or ground until after halachic midday.
Tish'a B'Av: What To Do after 12 Noon
After halachic midday on Tish'a B'Av, you may do any activities except the five activities forbidden on Tish'a B'Av (washing, anointing, eating/drinking, marital intercourse, wearing leather shoes) or the Nine Days.  But you may not greet anyone, or reply to someone else's greeting to you, including saying “hello,” “good morning,” “how are you,” etc., until after dark.
Introduction to Purim
Introduction to Purim
Purim commemorates the saving of the Jews in the Persian Empire from Haman's plan to wipe them out completely. The story is a classic example of how God intervenes in human history in a hidden manner. The essential element was that the Jews were saved from physical destruction/death (contrast with Chanuka, where the Jews were not being threatened with physical death but with the destruction of their religious beliefs and practices).
  • Giving charity to poor people.
  • Giving gifts of ready-to-eat food to friends.
    Reason To promote friendship and a feeling of community.
  • Reading the megila of Esther at night and the next day.
  • Eating a festive meal.
  • Giving three half-dollars (or whatever the local unit of coin currency is where you live) to charity in commemoration of the half-shekel, which was given by all Jews to the Temple when it stood in Jerusalem.
    Note This is not actually an observance of Purim, but it has become traditional to give the 3 half-dollars on Purim.
Widespread Customs
  • Dressing up in costumes.
  • Making noise during the reading of Haman's (and his wife's) name in the megila, in order to wipe out their names.
  • Drinking more wine than normal.
  Note    Jewish women are required to fulfill all of the commandments of the holiday, just as men are, since the women were also saved.
Purim: Ad Dlo Yada
Getting Drunk Ad Dlo Yada
The idea of getting drunk ad dlo yada is that, even when optimal mental functions are impaired by alcohol, a person's essence is on such a high spiritual level that he or she can see God's hand in the actions of the evil Haman just as in the actions of the good Mordechai.
Note Jews should never get drunk, even on Purim, but they should drink a little more than they normally would.
Purim: Commandments
Purim: Commandments
There are four mitzvot for Purim:
1. Shalach Manot (Gifts of food to promote friendship)
Send to one person at least two readily edible foods that will be appreciated by the recipient. Sending gifts of food (mishlo'ach manot) must be done on Purim day. The earliest time to send mishlo'ach manot is after hearing the morning megila reading (so that the commandment of giving gifts to friends is also covered by the blessing of she'hecheyanu over the megila).

2. Gifts to Poor People
Give some money to at least two poor people or to a fund designated to give to poor Jews on Purim. The earliest time in the day to give gifts to the poor on Purim is daybreak.

3. Hearing the Megila Twice (evening and morning)
  • If you miss hearing a word or even syllable of the megila on Purim, say it to yourself and then catch up to the reader.
  • If you are not near a minyan and do not have a megila scroll, you should read the megila from a book.  But you will not have fulfilled the commandment of reading the megila and so you do not say any of the blessings.
4. Eating at a Purim se'uda.
  • The minimum amount to eat and drink for a Purim meal is at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread, any amount of meat (if you enjoy meat), and some wine (any amount more than you normally drink).
  • The earliest time you may eat the Purim meal is from daybreak; the latest time you must begin is before sunset.  You must eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread and some wine (and meat if you enjoy it) before sunset. You may continue your meal after sunset as long as you ate the bread before sunset.
Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Introduction to Holy Written Objects
Introduction to Holy Written Objects
By surrounding ourselves with reminders of the commandments and with objects for observing the various Jewish rituals, we can be constantly aware of what we should be doing to live our lives as Jews.
There are two categories of items used for mitzvot:
  • Holy items (tashmishei kedusha), such as tefilin and its boxes, Torah books and commentaries, and Torah scrolls and covers
  • Items used for mitzvot (tashmishei mitzva), such as lulav, etrog, and talit/tzitzit.
Sacred scrolls (Torah, mezuza, tefilin) may not be written by women for sacred purposes. However, if they were written by a woman, you may study from them. You may not use them for public Torah reading, putting on tefilin, or affixing to doorposts (for mezuza).

Both tashmishei kedusha and tashmishei mitzva should be disposed of in a respectful manner. Tashmishei kedusha should ideally be buried. Newspapers with Torah or Torah commentary must be double-wrapped and then may be put in the trash, since they contain material that should not be buried with holy writings (only a newspaper's Torah or Torah commentary contain inherent holiness).
To dispose of tashmishei mitzva, you may wrap in one layer of plastic and throw it in normal garbage.
Sheimot: What Are Sheimot
Sheimot: Definition
Sheimot/sheimos are written items with:
  • God's name in Hebrew or even in other languages;
  • Three consecutive words of Torah in Hebrew (or commentaries on the Torah in any language); or
  • Halacha in any language.
Sheimot: Illegible
If a normal person is not able to read your handwriting, then even if you wrote holy words, Torah, or halacha, they are not considered sheimot.
Sheimot: Treatment
Sheimot: How To Treat
Sheimot: Summary of Treatment
Sheimot must be treated carefully, protected from unclean places, and buried or—in
some cases—double-wrapped rather than trashed. See individual listings below for details.
Sheimot: How To Dispose of
Sheimot: Disposal
These holy writings (tashmishei kedusha) may not be thrown directly into the trash, but should ideally be buried with like items (sheimot):
  • Holy writings that contain God's name.
  • Parts of Tanach (24-book Jewish Bible).
  • Explanations of the Torah or commandments.
However, if a printed or written page (in contrast to parchment scrolls such as tefilin, Torahs, or mezuzas) contains God's name plus secular content, it must be double wrapped in plastic before being thrown in the trash.
Reason It would be a disgrace to bury Torah words with secular content.
Note You may find collection boxes (marked “sheimot/sheimos” or “geniza”) at a local Jewish school or synagogue into which you can deposit your sheimot items.
Note Tashmishei mitzva—items used to do a mitzva (such as talit or tzitzit)—must be wrapped in:
  • One layer of plastic if they will be thrown away in dry trash, or
  • Double layer of plastic if they will be thrown away into wet garbage.
Do not throw into trash, even if double wrapped:
  • Handwritten scrolls of Torah, tefilin, mezuza.
  • Printed Torah, Talmud, siddur, books of halacha, or Torah commentaries.
Rather, put them into a sheimot collection box or wrap in plastic and bury in a place where they will not be dug up. It does not need to be a cemetery.

Double Wrap and Throw into Trash
Double wrap and throw into trash:
  • Newspapers and flyers that have Torah psukim or Torah commentaries and also have non-Torah content.
    Reason Non-Torah material should not be buried as sheimot
  • Children's school handouts with psukim from the Torah or halachot that also contain non-Torah content (if they ONLY contain words of Torah, they should be buried as sheimot).
Single Wrap and Throw into Trash
For disposal of items used for mitzvot (tashmishei mitzva), you may wrap in one layer of plastic and throw it in normal garbage:
  • Lulav,
  • Etrog, or
  • Talit/tzitzit (but NOT tefilin!)
Holy Books
Holy Books: Definition
Holy Books: Definition
A Jewish holy book is any book that contains:
  • God's name in any language, not just Hebrew,
  • Any lines (psukim) of Torah,
  • Midrashim,
  • Halacha in any language, or
  • Mishna/Talmud and their commentaries.
Holy Books: Placement
Holy Books: Orientation
Holy Books: Correct Orientation
Put holy books in their correct location:
  • Remove a holy book from an inappropriate place to a place suitable for holy books. 
  • Turn right-side up a holy book that is upside down or backside up.
  • Do not use any holy book--even of lower priority or holiness--to prop up or raise the top of a non-holy or less-holy book (for example, so you can read it better).
Reason It is disrespectful to use a holy book as a book holder.
Holy Books: On Seat
Holy Book: Raise from Seat
You may place a siddur or chumash flat on chair seat or bench on which no one is sitting, but it is an act of piety to stand it up on its edge. 
To sit on a bench or other seat where a holy book rests, raise the book up at least a little; a single piece of paper is sufficient elevation.
NOTE If you are sitting on a bench and someone puts a holy book on the bench, you must stand up or raise the book off the bench. You may not stand a siddur, chumash, or other holy book up on its edge on a bench or pew in order to be allowed to sit on that bench.
Holy Books: Stacking Order
Holy Books: Stacking Order
When piling up several holy books, put them in this order (top to bottom):
  • Torah (Jewish Bible) 
  • Nach/Prophets
  • Talmud, siddur, and any other holy books.
Holy Books: Carrying Order
When carrying holy books, you may put a Torah or Talmud below other books to prevent their falling or to make them easier to carry.  For piling books on top of each other, see Holy Books: Stacking Order.
Holy Books: Modest Dress
Holy Books: Being Undressed
You should not be naked or have intercourse in a room with holy books, unless:
  1. There is a wall or divider between yourself and the holy books within 10.5 inches of the ground and at least 40 inches tall (or as tall as needed to block a line of sight between yourself and the book), or
  2. You cover the books with two layers of paper or some other material.
Reason It is not proper respect to the holy books.
Note This is true even if the couple is covered, as is the proper practice, and even if they are more than 4 amot/7 feet away, since the entire room is considered to be one domain.
Holy Books: Disposal
Holy Books: Disposal
For holy book disposal, see Sheimot: Disposal.
Introduction to Mezuza
Introduction to Mezuza
A mezuza (pl., mezuzot) is a small, sofer-inscribed parchment scroll containing the two Torah paragraphs commanding us to put mezuzot on our doorposts and gates: Deuteronomy/Devarim 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 (these are the first two paragraphs of the shema prayer.)  Each doorway that is related to where people live must have a mezuza.

Mezuzot are placed on the right side of doorways as you enter in apartments, buildings, or even recreational vehicles that you rent for 30 days or more (or that you purchase/own), in which you sleep.

A mezuza has protective value in that it reminds us to think about God each time we walk past a doorway or gateway, and so the particular name of God written on the mezuza (shin-daled-yud) likewise can serve as an acronym for God's role as “Shomer dirot Yisrael”—Watcher over the dwelling places of Israel.  
Mezuza: Parts
Mezuza: God's Name on Outside
A mezuza scroll should be rolled from left to right so that God's name appears on the outside.
Mezuza: Covers
Mezuzot are not required by halacha to have covers (sheitels). Covers are only for decorating and protecting the parchment; their use is recommended in the Shulchan Aruch.
Note Covers may be necessary to protect the mezuzot where the weather is humid, hot, or rainy.
Mezuza: Which Buildings Require
Mezuza: Where People Live
Only buildings in which people live need a mezuza, so you do not need to put them on offices, synagogues, or stores (unless people also live there). No mezuza is needed on an eruv.
Mezuza: Buildings Regularly Used with a Person's Home
Mezuzot must be placed on any buildings used with a person's home.
  • A barn with animals that is near a house, if you use their milk or meat for food.
  • A coop with birds that is near a house if you eat their meat or eggs.
  • A shed for firewood.
Note There may be exceptions due to size or other factors--consult a rabbi.
Note A structure that only stores items not used regularly, such as a shed for storing a sukka--even if attached to a house--does not need a mezuza.
NoteDo not put mezuzas on a sukka or any other temporary structure. If you have a pergola or gazebo that is at least 50 sq. ft. of area inside and that you use during much of the year, consult a rabbi.

Mezuza: Hotel Rooms
We do not normally affix mezuzot to hotel rooms, even when we would be required to (as when staying for more than 30 days).
Reason To do so might damage the hotel property.
What To Do Do not affix a mezuza even with long-lasting tape.
Note You may not affix a mezuza if you will not be allowed to remove it when you leave.
Mezuza: Which Doors
Mezuza: Which Doors: All Doors Except...
Each door needs a mezuza except for a:
  • Bathroom, or a
  • Room less than 50 square feet.
Note Do not affix a mezuza to a door that is sealed closed.
Mezuza: Which Doors: Balcony
Any covered balcony over 50 square feet requires a mezuza.
Mezuza: Which Doors: Arches
Place a mezuza on doors or gates, even if they have an arch on top instead of a straight lintel.
Mezuza: Placement
Mezuza: Placement: Right Side of Doorway
Attach a mezuza to the right side of the doorway as you follow the main traffic through the house. If there is one continuous path to go further into the house, place all of the mezuzot on the right side as you go further into the house.
Mezuza: Placement: Balcony
Place a balcony door mezuza on the right side of the doorway as you enter the house from the balcony, if the balcony has an outside entrance. If the balcony does not have an outside entrance, put the mezuza on the right side as you exit the house.
Note If the balcony has a roof, you may be able to put it on the right side as you go out. Consult a rabbi.
Mezuza: Placement
Mezuza: Placement: Door Frame
Place the mezuza outside the door but within the door frame. If not possible, you may place the mezuza inside the door frame. 
NOte You may recess a mezuza into the door frame.
Note If the doorframe is wider than 4” (10 cm), place the mezuza toward the outer edge of the frame, not centered in the middle.
Note You may attach a mezuza to a piece of wood that extends the doorway.

Mezuza: Placement: Height
Place the mezuza at shoulder height for the average person. Leave at least one tefach (4”, or 10 cm) between mezuza and lintel.
If possible, affix a mezuza just above where the top 1/3 of the doorpost meets the middle 1/3.
Note This rule is superseded by the rule that the mezuza must be near shoulder height.

Mezuza: Placement: Angle
Place the mezuza on a 45-degree angle from the vertical, with the top of the mezuza toward the inside of the main room. If you cannot, any angle toward the entrance is OK.

Mezuza: When To Affix
Mezuza: When To Affix in Eretz Yisrael
Mezuza: When To Affix in Eretz Yisrael
In Eretz Yisrael, whether you buy or rent, you must affix mezuzot immediately upon moving in.
Mezuza: When To Affix Outside Eretz Yisrael
Mezuza: When To Affix Outside Eretz Yisrael: Buying (or Renting for More Than 30 Days)
Outside of Eretz Yisrael, you must affix a mezuza immediately once you begin "living" in your house--determined by the first time you eat or sleep in the house. If you buy a house but do not move in immediately (for any reason--repairs, you are still in your previous house, etc.), you should affix a mezuza but do not say the blessing. Then, when you do move in, remove the mezuza and re-affix it and say the blessing.
You need not affix a mezuza if you will be renting for less than 30 days, and you may delay putting up a mezuza until the 30th day if you will be renting longer than that. Here are the types of rentals that will require a mezuza by the 30th day:
  • A home,
  • An apartment, or
  • Other accommodation--such as a camper, trailer, recreational vehicle (RV), etc.--in which you will live at some time.

NoteIf you are renting a vehicle/trailer that you will live in but might not keep it for 30 days, put on mezuzas as needed immediately but do not say a blessing (this is the same for in Eretz Yisrael or outside). Then, even if you keep it for more than 30 days, do not do anything additional (don't remove them and replace; don't say a blessing).

If you live in a vehicle for more than 30 days, you must affix mezuzas next to each of the doors.
If you live in a vehicle for more than 30 days, you must affix mezuzas next to each of the doors.
Mezuza: When To Affix Outside Eretz Yisrael: Renting for Fewer Than 30 Days
Outside of Eretz Yisrael, you do not need to affix a mezuza (even without a blessing) to an apartment, house, or other accommodation that you rent for less than 30 days.
Determining 30-Day Mezuza-Affixing Period
If you are living in a rented house, apartment, RV, etc., and remove all of your possessions used for living (such as clothing, bedding, and toiletries) at some time before 30 days have elapsed, the place is not considered to be your domicile. You restart counting the 30 days from the day you move the personal items back inside. 
Situation You rent a vehicle for 30 or more days but live and sleep there only five days a week (and remove all your personal items to spend Fridays and Shabbats with a family or in a hotel)
What to Do You will not be considered to be living there; you must affix a mezuza only if you leave some personal effects in the vehicle continuously for at least 30 days.
Mezuza: Blessing
Mezuza: Blessing
When you attach a mezuza to the correct doorpost, affix it at the bottom first and then say the blessing likbo'a mezuza.
Note Do not say the blessing if there is no door in the doorway
Mezuza: Blessing If Mezuza Falls Off
Say the blessing again when you replace a mezuza that falls off.
Mezuza: Blessing If You Removed Mezuza
Don't say a new blessing when you replace a mezuza that you took off (for example, to have it checked).


Mezuza: Kissing
Mezuza: Kissing: Custom
Kissing a mezuza (and tefilin) is not halacha but rather a custom to show our love for those mitzvot.
Mezuza: Kissing: Which To Kiss
If your custom is to kiss mezuzot, only kiss them when entering or leaving a house.  Do not kiss the mezuzot on the interior room doorways.
Mezuza: Checking
Mezuza: Checking: How Often
Have your mezuzot checked twice every seven years.
Mezuza: Bedroom
Mezuza: Bedroom

You may not be naked or have intercourse in a room with a mezuza inside the room, unless:

  1. There is a wall or divider  within 10.5 inches of the ground and at least 40 inches tall between yourself and the mezuza, or
  2. The mezuza is covered by two layers (kis b'toch kis) of paper or other material.
Note This is true even if the couple is covered, as is the proper practice, and even if they are more than 4 amot/7 feet away, since the entire room is considered to be one domain.
Mezuza: Removal
Mezuza: Removal: Do Not Remove When...
Do not remove your mezuzot if you:
  • Leave your house, even for a long period such as a year.
  • Sell your house to a Jew.
Tefilin: Mitzva
Tefilin: Torah Mitzva
Have in mind that you are doing a mitzva of the Torah while putting on tefilin.
Tefilin: Holiness
Tefilin: Holiness: Tefilin Straps
When Tefilin Straps Become Holy
The straps on tefilin become holy objects once they have been used.
Tefilin: Holiness: Tefilin Boxes
Tefilin: Holiness: Head and Arm Tefilin Boxes
The box for holding the head tefila (tefila shel rosh) has a higher level of holiness than does the box for holding the arm tefila (tefila shel yad). You may not intentionally switch the boxes.
Tefilin: Holiness: Switching Boxes by Mistake
If you inadvertently put the arm tefila (tefila shel yad) into the box for the tefila shel rosh, take it out and put it into its proper box.
Tefilin: How To Put On
Arm Tefila: How To Put On
  1. Place arm tefila box (bayit) on center of bicep of whichever arm you do not write with (knot on the arm tefila should touch the side of the box). If you are ambidextrous, put the tefila on your left arm.
  2. Say the first blessing, “lehaniach tefilin.
  3. Tighten the strap.
  4. Wrap the strap around your arm seven times between your cubit (inside of your arm, opposite the elbow) and your wrist.
    Note If you wrap more times, it is OK.
    Note You may wrap the tefilin strap over a wristwatch or put a watch on top of the tefilin strap.
    Note Tefilin straps should not overlap with each other and should not be wrapped on top of the ulna protuberance, but if they do--it is permitted.
  5. Wrap the excess around the palm of your hand (tuck in the end to keep it tight and out of the way).
Head Tefila: How To Put On
  1. Place the tefila on your head tightly enough so it does not slip off under normal motion.
  2. Center the head tefila box on your forehead (as it appears to an average person. There is no need to look in a mirror.)
  3. Place the head tefila box with its front edge above your hairline (or where your hairline was when you were 13!), not further back than half-way on your skull from front to back.
  4. Ideally, place the knot at the back on your occipital bone (base of your skull), but you may place it lower as long as it is still on top of your hair.
  5. Say the second blessing, al mitzvat tefilin.
  6. Tighten the tefila on your head and say, Baruch shem kevod malchuto l'olam va'ed
    Reason Al mitzvat tefilin” is a questionable blessing (safek bracha).
    Note Tefilin head straps should reach at least to your navel (left strap) and mila (right strap).
Arm Tefila: How To Finish
  • Unwrap the excess strap from your palm and wrap it three times around your middle finger while saying the three v'eirastich li” phrases, one for each wrap.
  • Wrap the strap around your palm in the shape of the Hebrew letter “shin.”
  • Wrap the excess around your palm and tuck in the end of the strap to keep it tight and out of your way.
Note You may not say amen or reply to kaddish or kedusha if you have said the blessing on your arm tefila but have not yet said the blessing on your head tefila.
Tefilin: Left-Handed Men
Left-handed men must put tefilin on their right arm.
Tefilin: Broken Arm
Even with a broken arm, do not switch the arm on which you wrap your tefilin.
Note If your (normally) weaker arm becomes permanently stronger than the other arm, switch to wearing tefilin on the newly weaker arm.
Tefilin: Fallen
Tefilin: Fallen: Fast
If tefilin without their covers on fall onto the ground, the custom is to fast for one day. If the covers are on the tefilin, there is no custom to fast.
Tefilin: Adjusting or Replacing
Tefilin: Adjusting
Tefilin: Adjusting: Saying Blessing
If you adjust your tefilin, do not say the blessing again.
Tefilin: Replacing
Tefilin: Replacing: Tefilin You Had To Take Off or That Fell Off
If you take off your tefilin because you have to, such as to go to the bathroom, or if one or both of the tefilin fall or slide off your arm or head, say: 
  • Both blessings again when you replace the head tefila (tefila shel rosh) on your head.
  • Only the first blessing when replacing the arm tefila (tefila shel yad) on your arm.
  • Each blessing in its correct place if you took off both.
Reason We say the blessing again for tefilin that fell off because there was discontinuity in thought (hesech da'at) when they fell off.
Note If you took the tefilin off between bar'chu and the end of amida and replaced them without saying the blessings:
  • Wait until after you have finished the amida, and then
  • Move each of the tefilin slightly, first the arm tefila and then the head tefila, and
  • Say the appropriate blessings.

Tefilin: Replacing: Tefilin You Took Off by Choice
If you take off your tefilin without being required to do so and with the intention of replacing them, do not say the blessings when you replace them on your head and arm. 
Note If you took the tefilin off between bar'chu and the end of amida, see the note to Tefilin: Replacing: Tefilin You Had To Take Off or That Fell Off.
Tefilin: Removing
Tefilin: Removing: Earliest Time
The earliest time to remove tefilin on normal weekdays is after saying u'va l'tzion.
Exception If you wear tefilin on chol ha'moed, remove them after the amida in shacharit.
Tefilin: Storing
Tefilin: Storing: How To Put Away
Put tefilin into its bag so that the knot on the arm tefila (tefila shel yad) faces away from the head tefila (tefila shel rosh).
Reason So that the arm tefila does not abrade the head tefila.
Note This is not a halacha, just good advice.
Tefilin: Care
Where Tefilin Must Be Black
Tefilin must be black as follows:
  • Tefilin must be black on all of the exposed surfaces, but not on the bases/bottoms.
  • Tefilin straps must be completely black on one surface.
Tefilin: Checking
Tefilin: Checking: When
It is customary to check tefilin twice in each seven year period. Tefilin do not usually require checking, but you should periodically check:
  • Tefilin of the type that can become pasul (due to white-washed parchment).
  • Tefilin that are moved a lot, such as from place to place where there are large changes in temperature.
  • Tefilin in humid climates, such as Florida.
NOTE Ask a sofer for advice about any of these cases.
Tefilin: Kissing
Tefilin: Kissing
Kissing tefilin is not halacha but rather a custom to show our love for the mitzva.
Tefilin: When To Touch
Tefilin: When To Touch: Shacharit
When praying on weekday mornings, touch and “kiss” the tefilin at:
  • Places in the shema that mention tefilin, and
  • Potei'ach in ashrei.
Reason  When wearing tefilin, you should be constantly conscious that you are wearing them. One way of reminding ourselves that we are wearing tefilin is to touch them at these times.
Note To “kiss” tefilin, touch the box with one or more fingers and then kiss those fingers.
Tefilin: Activities While Wearing
Tefilin: Activities While Wearing: Distractions
You may not do any activities while wearing tefilin that would distract you (hesech da'at) from remembering that you are wearing tefilin.
Tefilin: Activities While Wearing: Eating
You may eat a snack while wearing tefilin, but you may not eat a full meal (with bread).
Tefilin: Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed
Tefilin: Rosh Chodesh
Tefilin: Removing before Rosh Chodesh Musaf
Remove tefilin before musaf on Rosh Chodesh.
Tefilin: Chol HaMoed
Tefilin: Chol HaMoed: Remove before Hallel
Remove tefilin before hallel on chol ha'moed.
Exception On chol ha'moed Pesach, on the day when tefilin are read about (kadeish li…), many people keep tefilin on until after the Torah has been read.
Tefilin: Chol HaMoed: In Eretz Yisrael
If you move to Eretz Yisrael (where no one wearstefilin on chol ha'moed) to live there permanently, do not continue to wear tefilin on chol ha'moed (if that was your custom).
If you are only visiting Eretz Yisrael but not living there permanently, follow your custom.
SituationYour custom is to wear tefilin on chol ha'moed, You are in Israel during chol ha'moed.
What to DoYou still put on tefilin, but only in private, not in public.
Tefilin: Chol HaMoed: Blessing
If you wear tefilin on chol ha'moed (German and Lithuanian customs), do as follows:
  • Jews of German descent: Say the tefilin blessings, and
  • Jews of Lithuanian descent: Omit the tefilin blessings.
Torah Scroll (Sefer Torah)
Torah Scroll: Touching
Torah Scroll: Touching
Don't directly touch the parchment of a Torah scroll with your hand or other part of your body, unless there is no other way to handle the scroll.
Torah Scroll: Standing
Torah Scroll: Standing
Stand when a Torah is being moved.
Note When the ark is open, you do not need to stand if the Torah or Torahs are stationary, but the custom is to stand anyway.
Torah Scroll: Lifting
To Lift Up the Torah
To lift up the Torah:
  • Grip the handles close to the plate at the top of the lower handles.
  • Roll the Torah so that three columns are exposed and one of the seams is between the two rollers (this is a custom).
  • Lever up the Torah (you may slide the Torah down the table toward yourself if that makes it easier).
  • Show the Torah to people on your right and then on your left.
If you want to turn in a circle, turn to counter-clockwise as seen from above.
  • At the end of rolling (glila) closed the Torah, there should be a seam between the two rods on which the Torah is rolled (such that if it were to tear, it would likely tear at the seam and no words of Torah would be torn).
Torah Scroll (Sefer Torah): Writing
Torah Scroll (Sefer Torah): Priority for Writing
Writing a Torah scroll (sefer Torah) is a mitzva but is not a priority; there are other activities that have a higher priority for Jewish observance.
Note The commandment that each Jew write a sefer Torah is not fulfilled by paying someone else to write a few letters of the sefer Torah for you.
Note If you hire someone to write the entire sefer Torah for you, that fulfills your requirement.
Sofer: Woman
A woman may not be a sofer. Even though women are obligated in the commandments of megila, they may not be sofrot for megilot nor for the Prophets (nevi'im) section of the Torah.
Sofer: Non-Observant Jew
A non-shomer Shabbat Jew may not be a sofer.
Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Introduction to Interpersonal (Bein Adam L'Chaveiro)
Introduction to Interpersonal (Bein Adam L'Chaveiro)
Commandments are of two types; those governing:
  • Interpersonal behavior (Bein adam l'chaveiro), which this section presents, and
  • Behavior between people and God, which most of the rest of this website deals with (but interpersonal behavior is also a commandment between people and God).
Introduction to Business/Property
Business Ethics
The Torah requires ethical behavior in business, as it does in all other areas of interpersonal behavior.
We must be honest in business. We may not cheat or mislead the customer or misrepresent what we are selling. We may follow whatever are the accepted norms for honest people in our area of business.
Amenities and Office Supplies/Utilities
Amenities: Hotel Room
You may take whatever amenities are in your hotel room, as long as they are expected to be taken.
Amenities: Employees' Authority
Hotel employees are assumed to be authorized to give you whatever they give you.
Office Supplies/Utilities
Office Supplies: Personal Use
You may take office supplies for your personal use if your employer allows you to. If you are uncertain, ask!
Office Supplies: Permission from Boss
If your boss gives you permission to take or use things in an office where he is not the owner, we assume the boss has the authority to allow you to do whatever he tells you.
Office Supplies: Employee Directing Employee
An (non-owner) employee may not tell another (subservient) employee to take or use things for the benefit of that superior employee, unless the superior employee has the authority to take the items for himself.
Example A doctor may not tell a secretary to take hospital envelopes and postage and mail personal items for the doctor.
Utilities: Personal Use
You may use telephone and other services that do not cost your employer anything as long as you do not have any work to do for your employer.
Bet Din
Jewish Court or Secular Court
A Jew must go to a Jewish court before going to a secular court if the issue is suitable for judging at a Jewish court.
Billing: Personal Time
Someone who bills for his or her time may not charge a client for time used for personal purposes.
Example A lawyer must receive the client's OK before billing that client for time he used eating a meal in order to work more hours for the client. 
Double Billing
If you normally bill for your travel time, it is unethical to bill another client for work you did for the second client during the travel.
Buying Stolen Item
Buying Stolen or Knock-Off Items
You may not knowingly buy a stolen item, nor an item that is illegally trademarked (for example, a knock-off purse or watch). However, if it is not certain that it is illegally marked or stolen, you may buy it.
Finding Out a Bought Item Had Been Stolen
If you bought an item and later found out that it had been stolen, you must return the item to the original owner, but that owner must refund to you the amount of money you paid.
Note If the article was insured and the previous owner had already received payment for the loss, you do not need to return it.
Clerical Errors
Clerical Errors and Non-Jewish Business
If a non-Jewish business makes a mistake in your favor, it is considered a saintly trait to correct the mistake. It is especially a kiddush HaShem to return the money to them if they know that you are Jewish.
Clerical Errors and Jewish Business Owner
If a business makes a mistake in your favor, you must correct it if the:
  • Business owner is Jewish, and
  • Error is more than 1/6th of the item's value. 
Note It is recommended to correct the error even if the owner is not Jewish.
Note In some situations, you must correct the error to a Jewish owner even if the error is less than 1/6th of the item's value—consult a rabbi.
Note If the owner (Jewish or non-Jewish) forgot to charge you at all, you must return the item or pay for it.
Creating Competing Business

Generally, you may not go into a business if an existing business owner will go out of business or cannot survive on what income he/she will have remaining.

Exception If a better Torah teacher is available than the current one, the better one may be hired.

Abusing Rental Cars
You may not abuse a rental car. This means you may not use it in any damaging way that you would not do to your own car.
Recovering Damages
When a company damages something of yours, you are entitled to do what you need to in order to get compensated--as long as it is legal. This is ethical and honest and you do not need to actually do what the company wants or tells you to do.
Encroaching (Masig Gvul)
Encroaching (Masig Gvul)
Masig gvul can mean:
  • Actually stealing property, or
  • Stealing business from someone else.
Note This is complicated, so consult a rabbi if needed.
Gambling and Jews
Gambling may not be approved for Jews; some types are completely forbidden. Consult a rabbi.
Timing of Giving
Property may be given away in any manner and amounts desired during a person's lifetime. A Jew must give his property away before death if he does not want to make the inheritance according to Jewish law (such as double portion to a father's first-born son, etc.--consult a rabbi for details). A person should reserve some money to fulfill the Torah commandment of inheritance. Consult a rabbi.
Note In inheritance issues, the first-born son means the first-born son of the father (although pidyon ha'ben refers to the first-born son of the mother).
Note A mother can leave whatever she wants to her children without being required to give twice as much to a son who is the first-born of his father.
American Will
Since a person cannot give away property after his/her death (since he/she does not own it anymore), an American will has no halachic validity. An American will should be written to keep the inheritance out of the hands of the government and lawyers. In order for a secular will to be effective under halacha, an acquisition should be made that starts to take effect beginning at the time of the kinyan and finalize one hour before the person's death. 
Rabbinic guidance is recommended.
Intellectual Property/Copyright
Permission from Copyright Holder
Do not copy copyrighted tapes, CDs, DVDs, books, sheet music, and music (including on the internet) without permission from the copyright holder. This includes teaching material for religious and secular purposes.
Note Even if these are not available for purchase, you may not violate secular law.
Recordings of Movies and Other Entertainment
You may loan a DVD or other recording of a movie or other entertainment as long as it is legally permitted.
Note If uploading that recording onto the internet--or sending copies of it to friends--would violate copyright laws, it is not permitted by halacha.
Copyright When Book Out of Print
Even if a book is out of print, you may only copy it with permission or after the copyright expires.
Permission To Use PracticalHalacha.com
Although this website (Practical Halacha) may not be used for profit or commercial use, and no part of the website may be cut and pasted for use elsewhere, the content of the Jewish laws (halachot) may be taught verbally by anyone without any permission.  Further, I (Richard Aiken) give permission to print and use the entire text of this website for teaching (as long as ALL of the text is copied, including the introduction and glossary and all other parts). If you want to print sections or groups of halachot and if you print them using the print function we provide, you may do that too.
Internet Access
Internet Access
You may use a public or private internet without paying if it does not cost the owner or slow down the owner's use of it (or if the owner gives you permission!) and as long as doing so does not violate the secular law wherever you are.
Paying Day Laborer
You may pay a laborer at whatever time intervals you agreed upon; you do not need to pay the laborer each day before sunset unless you agreed to do that. If you did not make any agreement, follow local custom. If there is no local custom, pay by the end of the work day.
Loans: Witnessing/Writing Details
Loans: Witnessing/Writing Details
You must have a witness or write down the details of an agreement before loaning money or material goods. Both parties should count the money together unless there is a written record, as with electronic transfers, checks, etc.
Note If the amount is so small that the lender would not mind its not being paid back, it is customary to lend without a written record or witness.
Loans: Charging Interest (Ribit)
General Law on Heter Iska
A Jew is not permitted to charge interest (ribit) for a loan made to another Jew. A heter iska should be used in any case where a loan has been made between Jews if more money will be paid back than what was received.
Note In some cases, if you prepay for a purchase and thereby get a discount, it might be considered as interest paid on a loan, and you would need a heter iska.
Charging Interest: Loans or Borrowed Items
Prohibitions of charging interest (ribit) apply only to loans of money or a commodity (halva'a), not to borrowed items (she'eila):
1.  Loan/Halva'a   
You do not get back the exact item you loaned but, rather, some equivalent of the original, such as money. The borrower may not give back more than he/she borrowed and the recipient may not accept more. Even saying “thanks” is considered to be a form of interest.
2.  Borrowed Items/She'eila 
The original item is returned to the loaner (for example, borrowing a car), and there is no prohibition of paying more than what was originally received.
Heter Iska in Normal Language
If you use a heter iska for a loan, the document should be in English or whatever is the normal language of both parties.
Returning Lost Objects (Hashavat Aveida)
Returning Lost Objects (Hashavat Aveida)
You are required to return a lost object (hashavat aveida) to its Jewish owner if you can. This is a Torah commandment.
Note It is saintly behavior to return lost objects to non-Jews, too, if it will be a kiddush Hashem.
Note You should tell a person if his or her cigarettes fall out of a pocket, even though the cigarettes are dangerous to the smoker's health.
Shmita and Debts
Shmita and Cancellation of Debts
Shmita applies to debts in our era, but the normal requirement of forgiving debts may be circumvented via a document (prozbul).
Taking Items
Taking Items
You may not take items that do not belong to you even if they are worth less than a shava pruta, unless the items have no perceived value.
Interpersonal Relationships
Acknowledging the Good (Hakarat HaTov)
Giving Gifts
Acknowledging the good that other people do or have done for us applies to all people, Jewish and non-Jewish. You may give a gift to any person who has done something nice or good to you as acknowlegment of what they did for you in the past or in anticipation of what they might do for you in the future.
Bearing a Grudge
Do Not Bear a Grudge (Lo Titor)
You may not bear a grudge (lo titor). 
Example Someone did something not nice to you and some time later asks you for a favor. 
You may not make the person feel bad about what he or she did previously, even if you do grant the favor.
Note This applies to monetary issues and the custom is to apply it to non-monetary issues.
Counting People
Counting Jews

Jews should not be counted by number individually, but they may be counted as groups. The prohibition is only verbally, out loud. 


You should not say “There are 53 people here.” You may say, “There are more than 50 people.”

NOTEYou may use a sentence, such as Hoshiya et amecha (counting each person as a word in the 10-word phrase).

Derogatory Speech (Lashon HaRa)
Introduction to Lashon HaRa
Lashon ha'ra is saying (or communicating in any way--even by rolling your eyes, winking, etc.) anything derogatory or negative about someone that can hurt him or her in any way--by causing embarrassment, loss of money, lowered esteem, bad reputation, etc. 
Lashon ha'ra in which you attribute the negative statement about the person to whom you are speaking to someone else is called rechilut (gossip). 
Lashon ha'ra that is false is called motzi shem ra. Saying something that is true is not lashon ha'ra if it is being said for a positive purpose (even though the same words would be lashon ha'ra if they were only intended to hurt another person and had no positive purpose).
Lashon ha'ra, including rechilut, is forbidden to be said about shomer Shabbat Jews except for a positive purpose; motzi shem ra is forbidden to say about anyone--Jewish or not, shomer Shabbat or not, whether for a positive purpose or not.
Speaking Lashon HaRa
When You May Say Lashon HaRa
Lashon ha'ra, including rechilut, even if truthful, is not permitted except for a constructive or positive purpose. (Motzi shem ra is never permitted.) Its purpose cannot be to hurt a person.  It is permitted and recommended to tell the facts about someone:
  1. To protect others from being hurt (being cheated, molested, etc.), or
  2.  For a positive purpose that cannot be achieved through any other means.
Lashon HaRa To Protect Others from Being Hurt
You may say truthful lashon ha'ra (including rechilut, if it is necessary to divulge the name of the person who told you):
  • To prevent a bad person from telling children bad things or to keep children from learning bad behavior from the bad person;
  • To avoid being implicated in what the bad person is doing;
  • To prevent other Jews' suffering a loss by using a worker who did bad work for you.
Note You may not say that X is a bad/inexperienced workman, even if that is the truth, unless the listener needs to know this to protect himself or herself.
  • If a businessman cheats you or lies to you, you should warn other Jews about him (but only if you suspect they want to do business with him).
  • If you know something bad about someone who a third person wants to date or marry, in many cases you are required to tell what you know (but this can be very complicated and dangerous and a rabbi should be consulted about what to do in many cases)!
When You May Add Facts to Correct Possible Lashon HaRa
If the reasons behind an action are not clear and someone may get the wrong/negative impression of someone in question, then you should tell the facts and tell the entire story. 
Someone (A) insults another person (B) in public. Entire story is that B beat up A previously. Knowing the full story changes how people might view A.
Note If it is only your opinion, state that instead of declaring it as fact.
Lashon HaRa To Allow Gain
Saying lashon ha'ra for a positive purpose includes gain for yourself or for someone else; you may talk about others in cases such as these:
  • Psychotherapy  You may say truthful lashon ha'ra or rechilut to a psychotherapist since you don't know what is important. Outside of therapy and with non-therapists, you may say anything that will bring about a positive result (and only if there is no other way to achieve that result).
Abusive Parent
If a child needs to know what an abusive parent did or is doing in order to heal from damage, or if a therapist says it is necessary for the child to be told what the abusive parent did.
Abusive Spouse
If it will help the healing process for an abused spouse to talk about what he or she suffered.
  • Upset  If you are upset by what a person did to you and it will help you to calm down by telling what was done to you (that is, you will gain by feeling better).
Note If you want to ask someone for information that could be lashon ha'ra, you should say why you are asking so the other person will understand that it is for a positive purpose and is therefore not lashon ha'ra.
Lashon HaRa and Specific Cases
Children, Shomer Shabbat Person, Groups
Even truthful lashon ha'ra, including rechilut, may not be said about a Jewish child or a shomer Shabbat person or group of people unless for a positive purpose that cannot be achieved any other way.
  • A parent should not rebuke or criticize a child if it will embarrass the child in front of others.
  • A child (whether young or adult) may not correct a parent who is saying lashon ha'ra, unless the parent would want to be reminded that the parent is saying lashon ha'ra. Even then, it must be done respectfully. 
  • You may make statements about groups of people in general, even if negative, as long as the purpose is to protect other people from them. But what you say must be true.   
Note It is not lashon ha'ra to talk truthfully about someone who cannot be identified. (You may say “someone,” but only if that person is not identifiable.)
Lashon HaRa: Public Knowledge
You may mention information that is public knowledge. But your intent should not be to spread the word, but rather just to pass along interesting information.
Saying, “Did you hear that the president of the synagogue just got convicted of...”
Lashon HaRa: Mass Media
You may read in the paper, see on TV, or hear on the radio an account of someone's bad behavior (since you cannot know whether it will affect you or be important for you to know until you read or hear the information, it may be OK; ask a rabbi). You may not accept it as being the complete truth, but you should be wary.
Lashon HaRa: Shomer Shabbat Public Figure
You may not tell or listen to lashon ha'ra about a public figure who is a shomer Shabbat Jew unless there is a purpose.
You may give your opinion about a shomer Shabbat politician as long as you state it as your opinion and as long as giving your opinion may help other people.
Lashon HaRa: Shomer Shabbat Organization
You may not say any of the three types of speaking ill about an organization, school, synagogue, etc., whose members or employees are shomer Shabbat--except for a positive purpose.
You may not say any of the three types of lashon ha'ra about a Jewish school's cost, bad teachers, etc., unless it may be relevant to future students (and even if it is relevant, you may still not say motzi shem ra).
You may not say, “I don't like that shul because there is lots of talking,” unless you think the person will appreciate knowing since he or she will not want to go to a shul with lots of talking.
Lashon HaRa: Asked for Opinion
If you are asked for your opinion, you may give it if it is relevant (has a useful purpose) to the person asking. Otherwise, no comment.
If you are asked your opinion about a Torah lecture or lecturer, you may give your opinion only AS your opinion, not as criticism.
Lashon HaRa: Told in Confidence
If you have been told something in confidence, even if you think it is best for the person who told you if you pass it along, you may still not re-tell anyone else. You may say, “I cannot speak about that” if you are asked. Consult a rabbi.
Lashon HaRa: Getting Back at Someone
If someone hurts you, you may get back at the person at the time of the action against you.  But afterward, it would be revenge and is forbidden.
Someone tells you, “You are good for nothing.” You may say, “You are worse than I am,” if it makes you feel better.
Lashon HaRa: Bet Din Summons
If someone with whom you have a problem refuses a hazmana (summons) from a bet din, you may publicize a letter from the bet din saying the person refused the hazmana so that the recipient might agree to go to the bet din due to public embarrassment.
Lashon HaRa: Bet Din for Abuse
All matters between Jews should, ideally, initially go to bet din but only if the bet din is capable of resolving the problem. In cases of suspected child or spousal (or other) abuse, you may report it to the police if there is no bet din that is capable of dealing with the problem immediately: You are not required to wait while a bet din gets around to your case. The key is to expedite the case.
Note Some cities have special batei din for such matters.
Note Beware of governmental agencies that may take away children from their homes, even without evidence.
Listening to and Believing Lashon HaRa
Listening to and believing any category of lashon ha'ra is also forbidden. If you do hear something bad about someone else, do not believe that it is definitely true--but you may believe that it might be true. When you hear lashon ha'ra:
  • You can try to change the subject, since pointing out that lashon ha'ra is being said may not stop it from being said.
  • If you see a shomer Shabbat Jew doing something that seems to be forbidden, you should judge him/her favorably and assume that there is a good interpretation to what is being done.
You see someone who is not shomer mitzvot get in a car on Shabbat.
What To Do
Make the logical assumption that he/she is going to drive (and not for a halachically permissible purpose).
You see a shomer Shabbat person get in a car on Shabbat.
What To Do
Assume there is a good, halachic reason for it. However, you may not ignore reality or make implausible or unlikely excuses for bad behavior.
Evil Eye (Ayin HaRa)
When Ayin HaRa Is Significant
Ayin ha'ra is only significant if a person is worried about being affected.
Honoring the Elderly
Standing for the Elderly
You do not need to stand up for old people (as a form of honoring them) unless the old person is over 70 years old and is shomer mitzvot. This applies to women, too, if they are 70 years old or more and are shomrot Shabbat.
Honoring Parents
Introduction to Honoring Parents
Introduction to Honoring Parents
Honoring your father and mother—the fifth of the Ten Commandments—heads the mishna's list of mitzvot for which you receive reward in this world as well as in the next. It is one of only two mitzvot for which long life is promised (the other is shilu'ach ha'kein—shooing away a wild mother bird before taking her eggs).
This mitzva especially refers to giving your parents food and drink as well as helping them get dressed, get covered, and go out and in.  But it also includes: 
  • Not sitting in your father's chair.
  • Not calling your parents by their first names.
  • Not disagreeing with, not correcting, or not contradicting your parents if doing so will upset them.
  • Agreeing with them by taking sides in an argument (doing so is considered disrespectful since they do not need your agreement).
  • Not waking them up when they are sleeping--unless they would want you to do so. 
Whatever applies to fathers also applies to mothers, such as not sitting in the parent's chair. 
Note Many of these halachot may be overridden at the parent's request; for instance, you may correct your parent or call him or her by first name if he or she wants you to do so.
All parents—whether biological or adoptive, Jewish or non-Jewish—must be treated well, acknowledging the good they did for the child (hakarat ha'tov). If any parent opposes the observance of Jewish laws, the child should limit contact with the parent.
Honoring Parents: Names
Honoring Parents: Names: Saying Your Parents' Names
Children should not normally call their parents by name, nor say their parent's name without mentioning that this is their parent, as follows:
  • When praying for your brother's recovery from illness (refu'a), say:
    • Your brother's name,
    • Ben imi (son of my mother) or ben imi morati (son of my mother, my teacher), and
    • Your mother's name.
  • When praying for your sister's recovery from illness, say:
    • Your sister's name,
    • Bat imi (daughter of my mother) or bat imi morati (daughter of my mother, my teacher), and
    • Your mother's name.
  • An aliya for your brother, say:
    • Your brother's name,
    • Ben avi (son of my father) or ben avi mori (son of my father, my teacher), and
    • Your father's name.
Honoring Parents: Adoptive
Adoptive Parents: Acknowledging the Good
Adoptive parents must be treated well by the adopted child, acknowledging the good they did for the child (hakarat ha'tov).  But they are not considered halachic parents and the child may not be required to give them the honor that is required by the Torah for natural parents.
Honoring Parents: Non-Jewish
Respect for Non-Jewish Parent
Treat a non-Jewish parent who does not interfere with the Jewish observance of his or her Jewish child with more respect than any other person, even though the specific laws of honoring a Jewish parent do not apply.
Honoring Parents: Non-Observant Jewish
Shabbat/Jewish Festivals with a Non-Observant Jewish Parent
You should spend Shabbat or Jewish festivals with your non-religious Jewish parent (even in a non-religious environment) if he or she wants you to, as long as you can still observe all of the Shabbat or Jewish festival laws AND if your parent needs your help. 
Note You do not need to stay with your parent if your parent does not need your help or if you will not be able to fulfill all of the requirements of Shabbat or the Jewish festival.
Honoring Parents: Abusive Jewish
Honor an Abusive Jewish Parent but Not Suffer
A child is not required to suffer from any type of abuse (not physical, emotional, psychological…) from a parent, but the child should honor his or her Jewish parents as much as possible without suffering.
Note Consult a rabbi to define individual cases of abuse by parents because the issues are complex.
Honoring Torah Scholars
Who Is a Torah Scholar
Who Is a Torah Scholar
Who is a Torah scholar?  It depends on location and era. Someone with minimal Jewish knowledge may be considered a scholar if no one else knows as much.
Main Torah Teacher (Rav Muvhak)
Who Is Main Torah Teacher (Rav Muvhak)
It is theoretically possible--but highly unlikely--to have one main teacher (rav muvhak) who taught you most of your Torah knowledge. However, a rav muvhak might exist for a person who was not brought up religiously observant and did not have a traditional Jewish education.
Correcting a Rav Muvhak
Although a rav muvhak is deserving of the same honor you would give your parents, you may correct him if he wants you to correct him, just as you may correct a parent who wants you to do so.
Torah Scholar Honoring Other Torah Scholars
Torah Scholar Honoring Other Torah Scholars
A Torah scholar should stand up for another Torah scholar who is greater in knowledge; a greater Torah scholar should acknowledge the lesser scholar by standing up a little bit.
Hosting Guests (Hachnasat Orchim)
To Whom To Give Food and Lodging
We are commanded to give food and accommodation (hachnasat orchim) to people who do not have food to eat or a place to sleep.  This applies to any day, not just to Shabbat and Jewish festivals.
Inviting Friends for Meals
Inviting friends to your house for meals, even on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, is not hachnasat orchim--unless the friends do not have food or a place to sleep. But inviting friends for meals may qualify as other mitzvot.
Accompanying a Guest
You should walk a guest to the door or even along his/her way when he/she leaves your home. This is an act of kindness (chesed).
Hurting People
Hurting People
You are forbidden from hurting another person physically, emotionally, or psychologically.
Kindness (Chesed)
What Are Acts of Kindness
We are commanded to do acts of kindness (chesed), which means helping someone by doing an action that that person cannot do (or has difficulty doing) for him/herself.
  • Visiting sick people;
  • Opening a window for a crippled or weak person;
  • Giving charity;
  • Teaching non-religious Jews about Judaism;
  • Finding marriage partners for single people.
Members of the Other Gender
Contact (Negia)
What Constitutes Negia
Unrelated people of one gender may not generally have intimate physical contact with members of the opposite gender (negia). The prohibited types of contact are any that express affection or promote interpersonal relationships or intimacy.  Negia does not apply to:
For Males--mother, grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters, and other descendants and antecedents.
For Females--father, grandfathers, sons, grandsons, and other descendants and antecedents.
Non-Intimate Contact between Men and Women
Non-intimate contact is permissible between men and women--even if the two people are related or have a close personal relationship (except a husband and wife when she is a nida).
  • Doctor and patient.
  • Massage therapist and patient.
  • Lifeguard and swimmer.
  • A Jewish man may catch a Jewish girl or woman on the flying trapeze.
    Reason This is not intimate contact.
Family Member Who Intermarries
Treat as single a sibling or parent or any other Jew who marries a non-Jew, as he or she is not considered to be married.
Example If they visit, don't let them share a bedroom.
Misrepresenting Yourself (Gneivat Da'at)
When Misrepresenting Yourself (Gneivat Da'at) Applies
It is forbidden to give a falsely positive impression to other people (gneivat da'at), whether to Jews or non-Jews. Pretentiousness is a type of gneivat da'at.
Gneivat da'at may be through actions or speech and requires intent. It applies only when someone else will be affected.
Rebuking (Tochacha)
When To Rebuke (Tochacha)
You must tell another Jew--but only if he or she will appreciate your comment—if he or she:
  • Is violating a Jewish law, or
  • Has done a hurtful action.
Revenge (Nekama)
You May Not Take Revenge
You may not take revenge on someone.
Example You ask for a favor--to borrow an item or for help--and you get refused. Later, if that person asks to borrow something of yours or for help, you may not refuse, saying "No, because you did not lend to me (or help me) when I asked.”
Note Revenge applies to loaning money but also deals with other cases.
Introduction to Tzni'ut
Introduction to Tzni'ut
Tzni'ut, or modesty, is the concept of not standing out--commonly applied to attire, behavior, or speech--and includes privacy and separation of genders. Jews should not exhibit their bodies--but they should also not speak unnecessarily loudly, be boastful, or do anything that attracts attention to themselves. Tzni'ut applies between people and other people and also between people and God. 
For tzni'ut in attire, see ATTIRE.
Visiting the Sick (Bikur Cholim)
Why Visit the Sick
The main commandment of visiting sick people is chesed (kindness):
  • To see if they need anything, and
  • To pray for their recovery.
Wasting People's Time (Tircha Tzibur)
Wasting People's Time (Tircha d'tzibura)
You may not waste people's time or upset them (tircha d'tzibura).
Example A prayer leader should not:
  • Roll a Torah scroll during the minyan in order to get to the correct place for reading (it should have been done previously) unless necessary;  
  • Roll up his tefilin after taking them off for musaf on Rosh Chodesh, before hallel on chol ha'moed of Sukkot, or after hallel on chol ha'moed Passover. (Instead, he should take them off and leave them on the bima until the prayer service is finished, or roll them up during Torah reading).
Widows, Orphans, Poor
Oppressing Widows, Orphans, Poor
There is a special Torah prohibition against antagonizing widows, orphans, and poor people.
  • Widow  You may not antagonize a widow even if she is rich and even once she remarries.
  • Orphan An orphan only gets special treatment until he/she can fend for himself/herself.
    Note An orphan is usually someone:
    • Without parental support,
    • Who cannot fend for himself either financially or otherwise, and
    • Is usually under 18 years old. 
Witnesses: Who May Testify in Jewish Court
Witnesses: Non-Observant Jew in Jewish Court
A Jew known not to observe the laws of Shabbat is not accepted as a witness under Jewish law. However, if it is known that the person would not lie, he or she may be trusted in some cases.
Witnesses: Women in Jewish Courts
It is customary today for Jewish courts to accept the testimony of Jewish women.  
Witnesses: Non-Jews in Jewish Courts
It is customary today for Jewish courts to accept non-Jews of both genders as witnesses in some circumstances.  
Witnesses: Relatives in Jewish Courts
These relatives of participants in a Jewish court case or wedding may not be witnesses:
  • Parents and their spouses
  • Children and their spouses
  • Siblings and their spouses
  • First cousins and their spouses.
However, it is customary today for Jewish courts to accept relatives as witnesses in some cases.
When Yichud Applies
The general rule for yichud is that a man and a woman who is not his wife or a woman and man who is not her husband may not be secluded together. If another adult can enter the room at any time without knocking, there is no problem with yichud, even if the adult is not present initially. Yichud does not apply whenever:
  • A woman has a lockable door that only she controls, which is locked (in this case, men are permitted elsewhere in the building).
  • Direct descendants or ancestors are in a room together (in this case, all other men/women combinations are permitted--even if the other people are not related).
  • Three (or more) women and one man (or more) are in a room, except when they will be sleeping. At those times, four (or more) women and one man (or more) are permitted in a room or enclosed area.
  • Two (or more) men and one (or more) woman/women are in a room.
  • Other people have keys to the room and may enter at any time.
  • One (married) woman is with one or more men and the woman's husband is in the same area (RMH looks at the local business district as the “area,” so wherever businesses would be advertising or marketing would be a local area).
  • For other cases, consult a rabbi.
Father and Daughter Sleeping in Same Room
It is OK for a father and a daughter to sleep in same room.
Peaceful Ways (Darchei Shalom)
Peaceful Ways (Darchei Shalom)
Darchei shalom is behaving in a manner that engenders harmony and good relations between Jew-to-Jew and Jew-to-non-Jew. Darchei shalom allows some customs, but not halachot, to be overridden.
Peace in the Home (Shalom Bayit)
Introduction to Shalom Bayit
Shalom bayit is a family at peace, as one unit. When leniencies in law are used to avoid intrafamily conflicts, customs and d'rabanan halachot can sometimes be overridden. But d'oraita halachot may not be violated. Consult a rabbi.
You want to go to minyan but your wife is overwhelmed with trying to feed several children and she asks you to help.
What To Do
You must miss minyan and help her since your wife's needs take precedence over your wish to pray with a minyan.
Note With shalom bayit problems between spouses, a rabbi should be consulted for details.
Note Once someone is married, his or her in-laws are part of his or her family and are included in shalom bayit rules.


Shalom Bayit: Non-Observant Parents and In-Laws

Ba'alei teshuva often have problems with issues of kashrut in their parents' homes. Pots, dishes, and utensils might not be kosher or toveled. Consult a rabbi. Questions of bishul akum (cooking that was done by a non-Jew) might apply to non-shomer Shabbat parents, but the custom is to be lenient.

If the parent's kitchen is known to be non-kosher, food must be prepared with care (see How To Use a Non-Kosher Kitchen). If the parents do not lie to their children, they may be trusted as to the source of food and its kosher status.

Since we may not eat from dishes or utensils that have not been toveled (immersed in a mikva), you may  want to consider toveling your parents' dishes or utensils, or using disposable goods. In such cases, it is OK to use china that has not been toveled.

Beginning of Book | Beginning of Category
Introduction to Kosher/Kashrut
Introduction to Kosher/Kashrut
The human soul can achieve its goals when the body's physical desires and abilities are channeled to do good. Since our bodies are meant to serve holy purposes, what goes into them (as food) likewise must be fitting. The Torah lists “fitting,” or kosher, foods and food preparation rules that enhance our spiritual nature. Kosher rules help us use the physical items in the world to achieve holiness.
Note Many of the halachot listed here differ from the more-stringent approach of the Star-K, even though RMH is the halachic authority for the Star-K. The halachot listed in PRACTICAL HALACHA are the basic halachot and RMH approves of their use for individuals.
What Is Kosher?
What Is Kosher?

By Sara-Malka (Diane) Laderman

Kosher (Hebrew for “fitting” or “suitable”) means foods that comply with certain laws. Kosher rules could be summed up like this:
  • The food must start out kosher
  • The food must stay kosher during processing.

Starting Out Kosher
The Food's Natural State

Rule #1

All Plants, Raw, Are Inherently Kosher

All raw, unprocessed plants are kosher. However, restrictions on produce grown in Eretz Yisrael may apply (teruma, ma'aser, shmita), and orla may apply to produce grown anywhere in the world.
  • For laws about eating perennial fruits, see appropriate listings under Agriculture
  • For laws regarding bugs in plant produce, see below.
Rule #2

All Mammals that Chew Their Cud and
Have Split Hooves Are Inherently Kosher

Kosher mammals are all cud-chewing, split-hooved animals (Leviticus/Vayikra 11:1-8 and Deuteronomy/Devarim 14:3-8). Included are both domestic ("beheimot"--goat, sheep, and cow families ) and wild ("chayot"--deer, giraffe, and wild goat and sheep families) mammals. There are two (sometimes) practical differences between the two groups:
  • You may eat the cheilev (a type of fat) from a wild kosher mammal, and
  • After slaughtering, you must cover the blood from a wild kosher mammal but not a domesticated kosher mammal.
Below is a sampling of kosher mammals:


Q: How can you tell if an animal has split hooves?

1)  Split Hooves Must Be Hooves

Hooves must be made of hoof material--a hard substance similar to your fingernails—not fleshy feet.

2)  Split Hooves Must Be Split

Hooves must be split all the way through from front to back.


Q:  How can you tell if an animal chews its cud?

A:  Watch for the sliding ball.

When a cud-chewing animal starts to eat, you will see it bolting down its food into its first stomach, like a hungry 9th grade boy (much like humans racing to throw groceries into their shopping carts), in case a lion or bear is coming to eat him or her.

Next, it will find a safe place to more leisurely bring up its cud and chew its stash. During cud-chewing time, especially for goats (sheep are usually too woolly to make out shapes), you will distinctly see:

  • Racketball shape popping up the goat's throat, 
  • Goat's cheeks ballooning out and its lower jaw chewing in a horizontal figure-eight pattern, and, a little later,
  • Racketball shape sliding down the throat again.  

You will soon see the shape of a new racketball pop up the throat.

By contrast, a non-kosher animal will chew slowly and well the first time—it will not have another chance to chew its food later, like the kosher animals do.  

Note Kosher animals' four stomachs do a great job of completely digesting whatever they eat. That's why smart gardeners will only fertilize their gardens with dung from cud-chewing animals, because the dung from non-kosher horses and donkeys contain many undestroyed weed seeds that will sprout and take over their gardens.


Animals in the camel family (camel, llama, alpaca, vicunya, etc.) appear to have split hooves when seen from the front.  These are actually just two long toenails in front of a padded, fleshy, incompletely split foot, which you can easily distinguish as a whole foot when looking from the back.

One non-kosher animal has great-looking split hooves but doesn't chew its cud—animals from the pig family.

Insight from Masechet Chullin

All kosher mammals inherently have horns; all non-kosher animals are hornless.  Bottom line:  If you find a horned animal, it's definitely kosher.

But horns are not a halachic requirement from the Torah like split hooves and cud chewing are, which is a good thing, since some breeds of goats, sheep, and cows are naturally “polled” (born hornless) or their horn buds were removed when they were young to prevent damage later.

Note Unlike for birds, we don't need any tradition (masoret) to identify kosher mammals. We rely entirely on the two signs: cud-chewing and split hooves.
Rule #3

All Fowl That Have “Masoret” Are Inherently Kosher

Not everyone's agreed as to what the Torah means by a “netz” or a “yanshuf.”  So when Leviticus/VaYikra 11:13-19 lists the 20 non-kosher flying species—allowing us to eat anything NOT on the list—we ignore the list and just eat what we know our ancestors traditionally ate as kosher.  This tradition is known as masoret.

In the US, we eat all breeds of chickens and--in most circles--turkey, all breeds of goose except those whose beak is black (such as the Canadian goose) or whose beak does not go straight back to its forehead (like the Chinese goose), and Peking duck (we don't eat mallard or Muscovy ducks or their close relatives).

In Israel, additional birds eaten as kosher include mallard and Muscovy ducks, guinea fowl, Couternix quail, pigeons, and turtle doves.

Note Some Jewish families originating in Germany, Iran, and other places maintain their masoret on eating pheasant, and you may be able to receive masoret on various species from researchers such as “The Aris”--Dr. Ari Greenspan and Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky, both Jewish ritual slaughterers (shochtim) who have spent the last 20 years interviewing and videotaping elderly European and Sefardi immigrants to Israel as to what birds they ate as kosher in their home countries. You can google their work or read some of Dr. Zivotofsky's articles on www.kashrut.com.

Zivchei Cohen, a book written and published by a Jewish ritual slaughterer (shochet) in Italy, shows colored illustrations of 29 species known to be kosher, including peacock, pheasant, Couternix quail, mallard duck, and numerous songbirds.  Maor L'Masechet Chullin U'Vechorot (vol. 2, Feldheim, pp. 29-33) reproduces these colorful illustrations and names each bird in five languages, noting that the 29 were listed to acquaint students of Jewish ritual slaughter (shechita) only with rarer birds' identities and that the well-known kosher species were not included in the 29!

Chazal noted that kosher birds share certain characteristics:

  • They sit on a branch with three toes in front and one in back.  Non-kosher birds usually sit two and two, as they need equal strength on both sides of their feet for killing and carrying off food, except for:
    • Owls, whose feet are flexible and can move their toes to the side, forward, or back, and 
    • Vultures, who need balance walking instead of gripping, since they walk on the ground to eat food that is already dead.
  • They lay eggs that are not entirely round or oval but are, well, egg-shaped, with kad v'chad—a rounded end and a pointed end. Not all egg-shaped eggs are kosher, but all totally round eggs, if from fowl, are not kosher (fish eggs from kosher fish, which are perfectly round, are of course kosher). There are some eggs, including from doves, that seem perfectly oval but are actually kosher.
Rule #4

All Fish That Have Fins and Scales Are Inherently Kosher

This excludes most eels (some conger eels that have kosher scales are kosher!) and all shellfish, catfish, sharks, swordfish, sea urchins, jellyfish, sea slugs, and many other sea creatures.

In addition to commonly eaten kosher fish such as salmon and tuna, some unexpected fish are also kosher, including barracuda, goldfish, and many other pet and tropical fish.

Rule #5


All other creatures, except the four kosher locusts, are not kosher.
NoteThe four kosher locusts are grasshoppers with knees higher than their backs. The four include the chagav, identified by Yemenite Jews by a “chet for chagav” marking on its abdomen.
Rule #6

Kosher from Kosher
Whatever Food Substances Come Out of a Kosher Animal Are Inherently Kosher

except for some fats (cheilev), blood, and the sciatic nerve (gid ha'nashe).

Milk from a cow (a kosher animal) is kosher. Milk from a pig (a non-kosher animal) is not. An egg from a kosher bird is kosher; an egg from a non-kosher bird is not kosher.

Q:  Since bees are not kosher, how can we eat honey? 

A:  Honey is not produced from bee parts, but rather from flower parts.

Rule #7

Animal Blood
May Not Be Eaten in Any Form.

Note Fish blood is not forbidden.

Preparing Kosher
Harvest and Kitchen


What To Check

  • Remove bugs (see Why Bugs May Not Be Eaten)
  • Select fruits and vegetables that have no harvest-related problems such as orla (and in Eretz Yisrael, kilayim, shmita, etc.); separate out teruma and ma'aser from any Israeli-grown produce that requires it (see Teruma/Ma'aser: Ownership: What Is Hefkeir Produce)
  • Make sure that any liquid grape product to be handled by a non-Jew for a Jew has been cooked or pasteurized before being handled.  Cooking turns the wine into an inferior product disqualified for use in idolatrous practices.




Kosher mammals must be slaughtered in the quickest and most humane manner possible, according to halacha.  A highly trained ritual slaughterer (shochet) must perform the slaughtering (“shechita”).  He checks the knife before the slaughtering to ensure there are no burrs to catch on the animal's throat.  He says the blessing “al ha'shchita” and then cuts the windpipe and the esophagus as well as the neck arteries.  After slaughtering, he checks the knife again for burrs (if he finds one, the animal is not kosher) and checks the animal's lungs to make sure the animal wasn't about to die of lung perforation in the near future.  

Certain types of adhesions may be found on the animal's lungs. If they can be removed (by peeling) without perforating the lungs, the meat is kosher. If there are only small and easily removed lesions, the meat is glatt (“smooth”). If there are no lesions at all, the meat is classified as “Beit Yosef.”

Kosher lamb and goat are always glatt/chalak kosher.

NoteThere is no need to eat glatt meat. Meat is kosher if it has been properly slaughtered, de-veined and de-fatted (traibored), and soaked and salted in accordance with Jewish law.

Actually, there are 18 organic or physical defects that may make meat non-kosher but, as a practical matter, we only check for lesions in the lungs and also in the second stomach. 

If the animal proves to have been healthy, it is sometimes hung upside down to allow the arterial blood to drain out. (It is possible to hang the animals before being slaughtered but this is not the usual method). 

Skinning and Traiboring

The animal is skinned.

Next, the animal is traibored. Traiboring removes certain nerves, sinews, blood vessels, and fats that we don't eat, including the sciatic nerve damaged when our forefather Jacob wrestled with the angel at the Jabbok stream.  

In the US, only the forequarters are traibored and eaten, and the hind portion is sold to the non-Jewish consumer. In Israel, the hind portion is traibored too and eaten as kosher.

May you traibor meat once it's cooked?  And if not, how did Jews traibor more than 1 million Passover lamb offerings that had to be slaughtered and prepared between midday and evening (and it takes 2-3 hours to traibor one lamb!). The Jewish commentator The Raavad says the Passover lamb was traibored before roasting; Rambam disagrees, since the lamb had to be roasted whole. Rambam opines that the sinew, unlike fat, does not impart its flavor to the meat and that people would just traibor the Passover offering meat on their plates.

Removing Blood

The next steps involve removing blood (“kashering”) and can be done at the butcher's or at your home.  The meat is cut, rinsed, soaked for at least 30 minutes, put on a slanted board to allow the blood to run off, and covered with kosher (a coarse) salt for one hour.  After being rinsed three more times, the meat is now kashered.

Note Not all blood is not kosher! There is a difference in Jewish law between “moving blood” (which is not kosher) and other types. So, if you see some blood or other red liquid inside meat that has been already made kosher, it is not considered to be blood. For blood that has pooled outside of the meat, see Introduction to Blood in Meat.

Preparing the Liver

The liver is cut halfway through several times and covered with kosher salt top and bottom.  You can oven broil the liver on a rack reserved for that purpose. The blood must be able to drain away from the liver 

You can instead broil the liver over a fire outdoors.  Grilling outside will give the liver a delicious smoky flavor that even children like--but do NOT allow the neighborhood cats to steal your livers off the grill!  


Covering Blood

Kosher fowl is slaughtered and, when it stops flapping, is usually hung upside down to allow the arterial blood to run out and onto the earth. Cover all the blood with dirt (a mitzva from the Torah--mitzva d'oraita) and say the blessing “al kisuy dam b'afar.”


Rinse with water and remove the feathers. Defeathering can take a while for chickens and up to two hours for one small duck, especially if you are saving the down!  

NoteAlthough the non-kosher world will dip the bird in hot water to open the pores and make the feathers easier to pull out, we cannot yet heat (this is like cooking) the bird because it is not yet kashered.

Removing Internal Organs

Rinse the bird. Usually, a circle of flesh surrounding the anus is cut out.  Start pulling out the digestive system.  Recognizable items such as the liver, heart, and giblets will come out and eventually you will be able to stick in your hand and pull out the lungs.  This is not as cold and unpleasant as it sounds because the bird will be warm for quite a while.


Once the bird is defeathered and the internal organs have been removed, rinse and salt with kosher salt inside and out and put it on a slanting board for an hour. Rinse three more times and cook!

Preparing the Giblets

Cut off the hard coating at one end of the giblets and rinse out the fine sand within. Remove the yellow internal lining.  Salt and kasher with the rest of the bird.

Preparing the Liver

To kasher the liver, see Preparing the Liver, above, for meat liver.

NoteCurrently, all kosher poultry in the USA is mehadrin (enhanced level of kosher), but not all kosher poultry slaughtered in Israel is mehadrin (due to organic defects).


Buying Fish

Kosher fish bought from a store in which non-kosher fish are also sold should have any cut surfaces scraped and should be rinsed before using. Ideally, the knife that cuts the fish should be washed with soap and water beforehand. 


Chagav Grasshoppers

Not much preparation needed here. Many Yemenites just twist off their heads and eat. B'tei'avon!

Substances from Animals


Dairy must be kept separate from meat, with a separate set of pots, pans, servers, scrubbers, and dishpans each for dairy and meat. See Kashrut: Dairy/Meat Combinations.


Eggs must be checked for blood spots.  Throw out a fertilized egg with a blood spot. You may remove the blood in the white of the egg and eat the rest of an unfertilized egg, but the custom is to not eat the egg at all.

Unwanted Additives

Manufacturing Aids

In the US, food manufacturers are allowed to add “manufacturing aids”--even more than 1/60th of the volume of the other ingredients--without listing them. Some foods therefore need special supervision to ensure non-kosher substances have not been added.


  • Kosher oils may be deodorized by heating them in vats that previously contained non-kosher oil, which renders the formerly kosher oil non-kosher. Or they may be put into tankers previously used for non-kosher liquids.
  • Food colorings may come from the cochineal insect, which is non-kosher, and flavorings may be derived from the musk of non-kosher animals.
  • Cheeses may have non-kosher rennet or pig milk added. Also, the rabbis of thousands of years ago made an injunction that even where the ingredients are kosher, cheese still requires kosher supervision.
  • Maple syrup in the vat may be stirred with bacon (which is non-kosher) to reduce the froth produced by boiling.  
  • Candy may include non-kosher oil that is put into the molds so the candy does not stick.
  • Kosher meat might not be kosher for Passover.

Transference of Taste (Ta'am)

Sometimes dairy will spatter onto a meat utensil, or someone will set a hot pot of kosher food into a non-kosher sink.  Or someone will cut a lemon or onion with a dairy knife and then put the lemon into a pot used for meat.  What happens next depends on whether the offending substance was:

  1. Charif (spicy/sour/strong) enough to transfer the taste to the new item.
  2. Hotter than yad soledet bo (too hot to hold your hand in it for a few seconds—about 120° F, or 49° C).
  3. More than 1/60th of the total volume.
See following halachot for what to do next.

Kitchen Set Up

A hungry Martian landing in a modern kosher kitchen must assume earthlings eat in binary: Ideally, two sinks. Two dish towels.  Two sponges.  Two dishpans. Two cutting boards.  Even, if the owner is fortunate, two dishwashers.

And what about those strange markings on the pots, pans, and servers?  Perhaps he'll find a bright splotch of red paint or an “F” (for fleishig--Yiddish for “meat”) lettered in nail polish on utensils in the left cabinets.  Blue paint or nail polish, or an “M” (for milchig--Yiddish for milk) on utensils in the right cabinets. The plates, bowls, and silverware in left cabinets do not in any way match those in the right cabinets. Somewhere in a central cabinet, pots, pans, and servers are painted with a white dot, marked with a “P” for pareve, or left unmarked.

Opening the pantry, little symbols jump out from canned and packaged goods.  Star-K, O-U, O-K, KOF K…..  Only the dried beans and grains seem symbol-less.  And the freezer?  Well stocked but no frozen bacon, pepperoni pizza, and shellfish TV dinners.…

How do these people eat?

The Great Divide

Separating Dairy and Meat

Welcome to the world of dairy and meat. Most kashrut problems in the kitchen involve the transfer of milk or meat flavor to the other gender by means of heat or, less commonly, by hot/spiciness.

It's easy to be jealous of vegetarians, or people who only eat plants and dairy products or who only eat plants and meat products!  They never confuse their pots and serving utensils or deal with spatters of hot dairy foods onto meat utensils or vice versa.  Large institutions and kosher cafeterias, similarly, may not have these mix-ups, since they can usually devote a whole room to a dairy or a meat kitchen.

Here's how the rest of us live:


If you can, designate some countertops for dairy and some for meat.  This will help you stay organized spatially.  If you have only one sink, you may need to use the counter to the left for one dishrack (dairy or meat) and the counter to the right for your other dishrack. 

Some countertop materials, such as granite, can be kashered by pouring boiling water over them.  This will make the counters kosher and pareve (neutral--not dairy or meat).  Once you have kashered your counter(s), you will be able to set down hot utensils, pots, and pans directly onto the counter (dairy utensils on your designated dairy counter; meat utensils on your designated meat counter). 

If your countertop is not kosher or kasherable, you will need to cover the countertop before setting down hot (above 120° F) utensils, pots, and pans. Trivets work fine but so does a simple piece of corrugated cardboard in a pinch.  

Dishes and Flatware

If feasible, select different patterns of dishes and flatware for dairy and meat so you can tell them apart.  It is helpful to store the dairy and meat dishes in separate locations, preferably close to the counter of its gender. Porous dishes (stoneware, china, ...) cannot be kashered once used for hot non-kosher food and cannot be changed from one gender to the other. Metal dishes generally can be kashered. Glass only assumes a gender if it is placed directly on a fire or other heat source (to at least boiling temperature) or into a hot oven, so even if you pour boiling water or hot food into a glass bowl, such as hot pasta, and add cheese or other dairy food, the bowl remains pareve (or whichever gender it was previously).

Sinks and Dishracks

If you don't have two sinks--one for dairy and one for meat--and must use the same sink for both, try to choose different colors for your dairy, meat, and pareve dishpans, dishracks, and sponges/scrubbers (or sponge holders). If not, distinguish your dairy dishpans, dishracks, and sponges/scrubbers (or sponge holders) from your meat ones by placing them on opposite sides of the sink. Neutral, or pareve, dishes/cookware require a third sponge and dishpan. In a pinch, you can wash dishes, pots, and utensils by holding them in the air or placing them on a counter (whether either kashered or not) next to the sink as long as the dishware, pots, etc., do not reach 120° F.  


You can designate one drawer for dairy flatware and a second drawer for meat (and a third drawer for pareve). Color-coding or purchasing “dairy” and “meat” stickers to place on the outsides of cabinets and drawers can be especially helpful if anyone else will be cooking/washing dishes in your house and doesn't know your kitchen well.  

Cooking Utensils/Food Processors

Distinguish your cooking utensils (your choice of colors) for dairy, meat, or pareve by using paint or nail polish, using different patterns, or even different shapes (one person uses round baking dishes for dairy and rectangular ones for meat!). If you lack drawer space, hang utensils from the wall or overhead rack or put them on your counter in jars color-coded for dairy, meat, or pareve. In a pinch, colored electrical tape can be used temporarily to mark dairy or meat servers or serving pieces (until it falls off during washing or turns black in the oven…).

You will only need one blender, blending stick, bread machine, mixer, food processor, etc., if you always keep them pareve.  Otherwise, you may need duplicates of these items. Color-code them as well.

Stove Burners

To kasher a non-kosher stove burner, clean off any hard deposits on the grate, cover the burner with a sheet of metal (to hold the heat on the grate), and heat it full-blast for 45 minutes. (See halachot below for kashering burners by putting them in the oven.) 

NoteYou do not need to kasher a burner between uses for dairy or meat because the burner's heat keeps it kashered.


A stainless steel stovetop can be kashered, but a ceramic one (due to porousness) might not be kasherable-consult a rabbi.  When cooking, place an appropriate spoon rest or bowl nearby (for dairy or meat, depending on what you are cooking) to hold your hot stirring spoon or spatula. This way, you won't need to set down your hot stirring utensil onto a non-kosher countertop or stovetop, or place a hot dairy stirrer where you previously set down a hot meat spatula.  


You can kasher a non-kosher oven by cleaning off any accumulation of old food (whether burned on or not, it must be removed) and turning up the oven full blast for 40 minutes.  You may use the same oven for dairy and meat foods if you always keep either the dairy or meat covered. Consider the oven to be one gender and always cover liquid foods of the opposite gender (dry foods do not require a cover).

Cutting Board

If you only have one cutting board for fruits and vegetables and one knife, you may want to keep them pareve. The main kosher problems with knives and cutting boards happen when cutting a fruit or vegetable with a strong-spicy taste that can transfer the milk or meat status of one utensil or food to another.  Such items are garlic, lemon, onion, and sour apples, and sour grapefruits.


  • Garlic was chopped with meat knife on a dairy cutting board (rendering the garlic, the knife, and cutting board non-kosher), or
  • Onions cut with a dairy knife were tossed into a boiling meat pot (rendering the pot and contents non-kosher unless the onions were less than 1/60th the volume of the pot's food). 


Glasses, washed, can be used for a dairy or meat meal. You can use the same salt and pepper shakers and clean glasses for dairy and meat; however, it is recommended to use separate salt and pepper shakers since you might have food of one gender on your hands when you use the shakers of the opposite gender. If you typically use a table for serving either dairy or meat, and want to serve the opposite without switching tablecloths, lift the tablecloth and use the original table surface or cover the tablecloth with placemats. If one person wants to eat dairy and another wants to eat meat at the same time on the same table, place a reminder to remind them not to mix the foods (different placemats or tablecloths, physical barrier between the people's dishes, etc.).


Let's say you don't keep kosher and want to have your kosher-observant friend over. What to serve?

As long as your utensils are clean, you chose kosher foods (see Going Shopping, below) or fresh fruits and vegetables, nothing gets 120° F or above, there is no involvement of anything spicy (charif), and you don't mix dairy and meat (don't offer a kosher bologna sandwich with kosher Swiss cheese!), everything should be OK. Some people will prefer if you serve them using disposable plates, bowls, flatware, and cups; if you are Jewish, you should only serve on disposables. Some will prefer to be in the kitchen during food preparation. Don't be offended; it's hard to keep track of everything to remember even in a kitchen set up for being kosher!

You might want to keep the wrappers or containers from any processed food so that the kosher guest can see what you actually are serving and check for the ingredients or for a kosher supervision symbol.


Major towns usually have at least one kosher supermarket, but you can find plenty of kosher food in regular supermarkets too. (Even in Salt Lake City, home of the Mormons, a major supermarket chain sells Empire Kosher Chickens!) Here are some tips:

  • You may consider all fresh and uncut fruits and vegetables to be kosher. Sharp-flavored fruits and vegetables such as garlic, when cut, must be cut with a kosher utensil.
  • Look for a kosher symbol (“hechsher”) on prepared foods (except those foods that do not need a hechsher—see When Hechsher Needed  and When Hechsher NOT Needed).

For more information on kosher symbols and on what goes into certifying a prepared food as kosher, see this link: http://kosherquest.org/symbols.php


The basic reason that Jews only eat kosher food is because God commanded us to do so. There are many explanations of how eating kosher benefits us. One approach is that kosher food enhances the spiritual well being of the Jewish people. That holiness is blocked when we eat non-kosher.

While kosher food raises us up spiritually, we raise it up too. When we say the correct blessing before or after we eat, we acknowledge that God is the food's true source. When we use food's resulting health and strength to perform God's commandments, we reunite our food and ourselves with our higher purposes, “rectifying the world.” That brings spiritual and physical blessing down to us and to the world.

You don't want a rapacious spirit?  Don't eat predators. You don't want to think like a bottom-feeder? Don't eat scavengers—whether catfish or vultures or pigs—or reptiles, amphibians, or bugs (except kosher grasshoppers!). You don't want to be callous? Don't eat the life-blood of a bird or mammal—or even the bloodspot of an egg. You don't want to be cruel? Make sure the animals you eat were slaughtered quickly and humanely. Don't want to separate yourself from worshipping the Only One? Don't drink wine or grape juice that could have been used for idol worship.

And non-Jews? Shouldn't they keep kosher too?

Non-Jews must keep only one kosher law--aver min ha'chai. This means non-Jews, like Jews, may not cut off and eat the limb of a live animal.

We can come up with numerous explanations for why keeping kosher is healthier, more pleasant, more logical, or more spiritual than eating non-kosher. But the bottom line is, we do it because God says to, we are here to serve Him, and we trust that God wants what is best for us!

Kashrut: Concepts
Kashrut: Terms
Kosher means fitting (food that is fitting to eat).
Nifsal MeiAchilat Kelev
Nifsal mei'achilat kelev means not fit for a dog to eat. Since dogs will eat many things that are disgusting, food is considered edible by whether you would serve it to a dog. Toothpaste and lipstick (all year round, not just on Passover) are examples of nifsal.
Trafe and Neveila
"Trafe" is generically used to mean any food that is not kosher, but it actually means an animal that was “torn” (for instance, by a predator).
Neveila is an animal that was not slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law.
Kashrut: Supervision/Hechsher
Kashrut: Food Served by Shomer Shabbat Jew
Kashrut: Food Served by Shomer Shabbat Jew
You may trust that the food a shomer Shabbat Jew serves is kosher without your needing to check it out.
However, if a shomer Shabbat host serves non-kosher food or food without reliable supervision on foods that need supervision, you may not eat it.
Note If the host will listen to you if you tell the host that the item is not kosher, you should tell him/her. If the host will not listen, you should not tell him/her.
Kashrut: Food Sold by Stores or Caterers
Kashrut: Supervision Mark
Supervision is needed during the manufacturing of certain foods to certify they are kosher. These products are usually marked with a supervision mark (“hechsher”) of the certifying body.
Kashrut: Reliability of Supervision
Ask a reliable source when you need to determine whether a particular kosher-supervision body is reliable. You do not need to do any further research.
When Hechsher NOT Needed
Processed Food without Hechsher: Is It Kosher?
If a processed food does not have supervision/hashgacha, here are some issues to consider:
  • Ingredients;
  • Utensils/processing equipment;
  • Bishul akum/“prestigious” foods that require Jewish involvement in the cooking;
  • Heating system (recirculated steam?);
  • Heter for milk without being supervised - which conditions and countries can be relied on;
  • Non-food ingredients (lubricants, preservatives, emulsifiers...);
  • Reliability of the producer;
  • Is the non-kosher ingredient batel/nullified?
    • ownership (Is the food's producer or owner Jewish?)
    • intended consumer (Is the food being produced specifically for Jews, or is it for the public and Jews are some of the customers)?
    • Was the non-kosher substance added intentionally?
    • Does the non-kosher substance have flavor?
    • Was the non-kosher substance added for flavor?
A hechsher/kosher supervision is not needed on:
  • Beer made in the US (and sometimes in other countries).
  • Nuts (dry roasted) without additives.
  • Olives--assumed to be kosher unless mixed with ingredients that may be non-kosher, such as:
    • Vinegar (sometimes made from grapes).
    • Non-kosher chemical preservatives (in commercially sold olives).
    Note In open markets in which olives are sold in bulk, you may eat olives after checking the ingredients.
  • Olive oil (extra virgin).
  • Pure fruit juice NOT made from concentrate (such as orange or pineapple juice) does not normally require a hechsher (except for grape juice, which always requires a hechsher!).
    Note Juices from concentrate might have kashrut problems due to the vats in which they are cooked or pasteurized. If you can verify how the juice was processed and that there are no kashrut problems, you may use the juice without a hechsher. There may also be problems with juice made from fruit or vegetables which were grown in Eretz Yisrael, due to orla, shmitta, teruma and maaser.
  • Scotch whiskey--even where it might have been aged in sherry casks.
    Reason Any sherry would be nullified as less than 1/6th. 
    Note Other types of whiskey may not be kosher because:
    • Glycerine may have been added;
    • The whiskey may have been owned by a Jew during Passover in a previous year; or
    • Milk, or alcohol derived from milk, might have been added.
  • Sugar (confectioner's) needs kosher supervision only for Passover. Regular sugar never needs kosher supervision (currently).
  • Unprocessed foods such as
    • Raw fruits and vegetables (but might need to be checked for insects), and
    • Water, but some unfiltered tap water might have tiny creatures in it which make the water non-kosher.
Note Several websites list additional foods that do not need supervision to be trusted as kosher.
When Hechsher Needed
A hechsher/kosher supervision is needed on:
  • Seltzer with natural flavor.
  • Grape seed extract and grape seed oil.
Kashrut: Taste (Ta'am) Transfer
Introduction to Taste (Ta'am) Transfer
Introduction to Taste (Ta'am) Transfer
Gender/Kashrut Status Transfer
Foods and kitchenware (pots, pans, dishes, utensils, and containers) can absorb taste from each other and so adopt a new gender or kosher status. They can change fro