Friday, May 21, 2010

KIDDUSH: Can we eat before reciting Kiddush?

Today is the 8th of Sivan, 5770 (Isru Chag)

Friday evening, once Shabbat has started, we are not allowed to eat anything before reciting Kiddush. If one inadvertently ate before the Kiddush, he must still recite the Kiddush before eating any more.
During the day, however, before the services (Shacharit) begin it is permitted to have some coffee, tea or a very light snack. Some people need this to set their minds at ease in order to pray properly.
After Musaf on the other hand, the rule is the same as at night, one is forbidden to eat or even drink anything before Kiddush.
After Shacharit and before Musaf, however, it is customary in our community to allow people to have a coffee or a tea, even without Kiddush.
If for some reason, one wants to have a full meal before Musaf he has to do the Kiddush. We have this situation during Simchat Torah: due to the “Kavods”, the dancing, etc, we have a sandwich before Musaf, so we recite the Kiddush before that.
When we do Kiddush Friday night, the bread should be covered. This is in remembrance of the Man (manna) the heavenly food that the People of Israel ate in the dessert for 40 years, which was covered with a layer of dew both below and above.
Another reason is that if the bread would be left uncovered it will be inappropriate to say a blessing first for the wine and not for the bread. Since bread is man’s primary food it should take precedence over wine.
(Adapted from Meam Loez, Book 6)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SHABUOT: The day we received the Torah (Part 2)

Today is the 5th of Sivan, 5770 (49 days of Omer. 7 weeks)

Tonight we celebrate Shavuot, when we stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai to be appointed as God’s chosen people. Being chosen does not imply that we have more rights, on the contrary, while God gave to humanity 7 commandments He gave us 613.

There are 5 Minhaguim (customs) that most Jews follow on Shavuot (to remember them recall the Hebrew word A /CHA/ R/ I/ T).

A: Akdamot or Azharot. Poems describing the 613 Mitzvot (see yesterday’s HOTD).

CHA: Chalav (milk), the custom to eat dairy food on Shavuot (see yesterday’s HOTD).

R: Rut. During Shavuot we read and study Megilat Ruth. Among the many reasons for reading Rut is that she was a convert and in a sense, by receiving the Torah we also became converts to Judaism. Another given reason is that from Rut we learn the total dependency of the written Torah on the Oral Torah, because by the “letter” of the Torah rut, a Moabite, could not been accepted as a convert.

I: Yerek. Green. Many communities have the custom to decorate their Synagogues with plants and tree branches to remember Mt Sinai. When the Torah was given –we still treasure this image in our genetic collective memory- Mt. Sinai was green , blossoming and flowering. For this reason, in the Persian tradition Shavuot is known as moed gol (the festival of flowers).

T: Tikun. Reparation. We stay awake during the night (Tuesday night until Wednesday morning) studying Torah, to “repair” for our ancestors who went to sleep the night of the sixth of Sivan instead of waiting vigilantly for the giving of the Torah, which was taking place the following morning.

Chag Shavuot Sameach!!!

Watch this inspiring 5 min. video: