Welcome to PRACTICAL HALACHA — a guide to performing halachot correctly. Here you'll find clear halachot, simple to understand and follow — whether you are Jewishly learned, a beginner, or not Jewish.

Letter of Approbation from Rabbi Moshe Heineman

You can search:

  • By topic or by key words (use the search window, above).
  • By category (see Index or All Halachot options in each category on the left side of this home page).
  • By clicking on "Read/Print Halachot as a Book" (button, upper right of this home page) or the desired category (left) and scroll down to what you are seeking.
 
You can also read the entire website as a halacha study text.

This website can help when:
  • A well-informed rabbi is not available to answer your questions, such as just before Shabbat or Jewish festivals, late at night, or when you are in a remote place with no rabbi to consult.
  • Your question requires expert knowledge beyond that of your local rabbi.
  • You need to know the "Bottom Line." These concise halachot tell you what to do and what not to do (unlike many books on halacha, in which you may find multiple--even conflicting--halachic opinions and, after hours of searching, still do not know what to do!).

Why the Web
Over the many years that Rabbi Moshe Heinemann (RMH) has been my posek (halachic decisor), I asked him why he did not write up his halachic decisions. He said that he did not have time to do that writing. I suggested that I write up the halachot and he review them and he agreed to do that. In addition to having options to print these halachot, in book form or on a printer, I chose to post them on the internet so that they would be free to anyone who wants to read them, so that they would be instantly available anywhere in the world, and so that they could be easily searched through when someone needs an answer to a halachic question or problem. RMH is not involved in any aspect of the website.

Applying PRACTICAL HALACHA

Some of the halachot in PRACTICAL HALACHA are stated explicitly in the Shulchan Aruch and universally agreed upon. Others are stated in the Mishna Berura or similar works and are standard practice. Other halachot are the personal decision of RMH or of other major poskim. We have made no distinction between these sources of halachot on this website.
Jews everywhere can rely on these halachot as having been approved by RMH, and since RMH is a reliable posek, anyone who follows these halachot can be confident that he or she is fulfilling these mitzvot (commandments).
However, you do not need to make this body of halachot "all or nothing." While RMH's authority is what gives these halachot their value, there are many "correct" approaches to halacha--some of which appear on this website. You might choose to follow some of these halachot but not others, especially if you have a different tradition in some areas or if you learned a different practice. Here are some more thoughts about applying PRACTICAL HALACHA:

  • RMH gives halachic determinations tailored to each individual, and all halachot in PRACTICAL HALACHA are the basic halachot that he approves for individuals. These determinations will differ from his frequently more-restrictive supervision policies as halachic authority of the Star-K, which cover the most possible users.
  • The halachot in PRACTICAL HALACHA are specific; in a case with any distinct differences, please consult a rabbi.
  • If your community follows a more restrictive practice than what you read here, you may still be obligated to follow that practice, especially if there is one dominant (and learned) rabbi who has set a different standard for his community.
  • PRACTICAL HALACHA is for Ashkenazi Jews. If you wish to make a Sefardic version of this site, I will provide free use of the software and webhosting and I will help with the writing and other work involved.
  • Although these halachot apply to Ashkenazi Jews, some halachot may not apply to those living in Eretz Yisrael, while others may apply only to Jews living in Eretz Yisrael.

Special Features

In many places, we have grouped halachot in order to teach some basic halachic principles and concepts and to make it simpler to remember what to do in similar cases.
I use English terms where possible and define non-English terms in the glossary, in order to make this site usable for all readers. Hebrew, Yiddish, and Aramaic terms are transliterated using Sefaradit pronunciation.
We have also created our own terminology to explain halacha concepts in common and intelligible English, such as washing hands the "One-Time" or "Three-Time" method, as well as doing our own translations for such prayers as kaddish so the reader can better appreciate their beauty.

Building the Database

One purpose of this website is to encourage questions. When you ask a question, you aid a long tradition of halacha clarification. It's good for you and good for the Jewish people.
Anyone can ask a halachic question with far-reaching effects. In 1996, my sister Diane (editor of this website) asked if quinoa could be eaten on Passover. The Star-K kosher supervision service soaked the grains, saw they didn't ferment and, due to Diane's asking a simple question, Jews all over the world now eat quinoa for Passover.
Since this website is a work-in-progress, we would love your help in filling in the gaps. We will not respond to submitted halachot or questions and cannot use halachot that are highly specific or particular to a few cases. But if you know practical halachot (or have questions about halachot) that might be of interest to many people, please send them in. Those deemed appropriate will be passed along to RMH for his approval and may be added to the database.
Also, please let us know if you find an error - whether in spelling or content.

Hakarat HaTov - Others Who Worked on this Website

If you find these halachot easy to read and comprehend, much of the credit is due to my sister Diane, who is the most skilled and talented editor I ever worked with during my career as a professional travel writer (she is an excellent writer, too!). By hiring Diane, I hope to set a very high standard for Jewish writing of all types. Diane can help refine almost any type of writing from Jewish holy topics (limudei kodesh) to medical, legal, business, or feature writing. Please see About the Editor, or view one of her writing styles at "What Is Kosher."  Email Diane at
jacobsladderfarm@gmail.com or call 972-2-535-2994 (Israel).

This project has involved many of my other relatives. My brother, Rabbi Eric Aiken, contributed more than 100 questions, comments, and halacha suggestions and pointed out many areas for additional information or clarification. He also helped me structure the rules about what makes kitchen and cooking items become non-kosher (see the Kashrut section).

All of my nieces and nephews asked good questions, and one nephew, Elan Aiken, contributed more than 100 questions to the site. Ephraim Laderman worked on some of the transliterations and Shoshana Laderman added editorial comments.

I also wish to thank Brianne (Rina) Kumelos for her excellent design work. Brianne was chosen out of about 100 designers, whose portfolios we reviewed for clarity and readability. She was willing to work with us when other graphic designers gave up. The amount of data, as well as my requirement that the website be extraordinarily user-friendly and intuitive, demanded skill and determination. You can reach Brianne at brianne@kumelos.com or visit her website:www.kumelos.com.

How You Can Help

Donations


I have been paying for the PRACTICAL HALACHA project from my own funds--more than $100,000 (for more than 4000 hours of work!). We still have a lot more work to do. We began this project more than 6 years ago and there is no end in sight yet.

Individual Donor If you would like to contribute to the project, please click the Donate button.  Small or large donations are welcome.

IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO MAKE DONATIONS TO THIS WEBSITE IN ORDER TO USE IT!
I am setting up PRACTICAL HALACHA to be free for anyone to use.

Corporate Sponsor To help sponsor this website via a business/corporation, organization, or even a community, please contact me at  info@practicalhalacha.com. We will put your logo and a link to your website on ours and we will consider doing publicity for you. Any community that donates can also have an addendum of alternate halachic decisions (piskei halacha) by their rabbi on a separate link.
Let us know if you would like your donation to go toward a Sefardic version or a translation into other languages (including Hebrew, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian). I estimate that each translation will cost about $25,000 for the translator, editor, and review by a posek who speaks the language and that a Sefardic version will cost close to $100,000.

Note Donations to this website are not yet tax deductible.

Translations

If you are willing to translate this site into other languages (especially Hebrew, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian), please contact me at info@practicalhalacha.com.

Permission

The use of this site for educational purposes is encouraged, and this website may be downloaded and printed for free by anyone for personal or educational use. However, no part of this site may be used for any commercial purpose without written permission from me.

No part, and none of the contents, of this website may be used for any purpose without giving full credit to me as the copyright holder. No other permission is needed but you must include the credit, as follows: 

From www.PracticalHalacha.com, Copyright 2014 by Richard B. Aiken

Have a Rabbi/Aseh Lecha Rav

The content of this website is for informational purposes only--for study, for reference, and for determining what to do when no rabbi is available or when the available rabbi does not have expertise in these areas. The content is not legal advice and is no substitute for the informed judgment of a competent rabbi who knows your particular case.

Richard (Baruch) Aiken

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