Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tefillin, Prayer and Gelatin


Hello Rabbi Maroof-

I was looking at your blog, and I wanted to ask you a couple of questions, whether through the blog, or through email both are the same to me, but I didn't know exactly how to post it to the blog...

1.- Removing Tefillin for the Restroom - When we remove the Tefillin to use the restrooms, do we remove it in any specific way? (such as we would when removing them for putting them away)

2.- Praying Shacharit after the latest time for Shacharit (and before Chatzot) - My understanding about praying Shacharit was that one is allowed to pray Shacharit up until Chatzot. Recently I heard in a recorded Shiur that when one prays Shacharit after the latest time for Shacharit (Sof Zman Tefilah) and before Chatzot, then one doesn't mention Hashem's name in the Berachot of Shema. What's the Halacha Lemaase? Furthermore, if one is allowed to pray Shacharit up until Chatzot, then what exactly does that mean? -> Should one finish before Chatzot? Should one start before Chatzot? I understand than to avoid all this the best is to pray as early as possible, yet sometimes, it's not always easy or possible...

3.- Gelatin - I recently read an article ( about gelatin which 'claims' that Rab Ovadia Yosef categorizes it as parve due to its chemical process and change. Is the article accurate? If yes, does that mean we could potentially eat any gelatin?

Thank you so much Rabbi, and warm regards,


Dear Daniel,

1. You remove them the same way you would to put them away.

2. After Sof Zeman Tefillah (the last time for morning prayers), the Amidah (silent devotion) can still be recited but not the blessings on the Shema or the blessings on Pesuqei Dezimra (i.e., Baruch Sheamar/Yishtabach). The Amidah should be finished, at least the majority of it, before Hatzot (halakhic midday).

3. This attribution is correct, Hacham Ovadiah states this unequivocally in a Teshuva in his responsa Yabia Omer (in the eighth volume), and he is by no means alone in this assessment.

So gelatin is indeed OK at least for Sephardim who abide by the rulings of Hacham Ovadiah.

Best Regards,

Rabbi Maroof

Sephardic Wedding Customs


I am sefardi (persian) however I grew up in a primarily ashkenazik community. What are the halachot as well as minhagim for sefardim as pertaining to weddings (perhaps as a contrast to askenazic halachot/minhagim)?
Thank You,


This seemingly simple question requires a rather complex response. There are several key distinctions between Ashkenazic and Sephardic practices in this regard.

Essentially there are eight differences:

1) There is no "badeqen", or veiling of the bride that is practiced in Ashkenazic circles.

2) We (Sephardim) do not have a "tish" before the wedding. We do not sign "tannaim". Many Sephardic Rabbanim actually perform the ketubah signing under the Huppah as part of the ceremony.

3) The text of the ketubah should be prepared according to Sephardic tradition rather than Ashkenazic wording.

4) The woman does not circle around the man when she arrives under the Huppah. Instead, she stops a few feet before the Huppah, her parents move on, and the groom comes out to walk together with her back under the Huppah.

5) The man puts on a brand new tallit under the Huppah and recites Sheheyanu (and Lehitatef betsitsit if it is daytime).

6) The Tallit is held over the heads of the bride and groom during the recitation of the Sheva Berachot

7) The text of the wedding Berachot is slightly different, using a Sephardic Siddur would solve that problem.

8) Many Sephardim do not practice "yihud", seclusion of the bride and groom after the ceremony. For this you should consult with a local Sephardic rabbi. I know within the Syrian communities there are differences in custom. Rav Ovadyah Yosef is against the seclusion. But some do it anyway.

9) We have much better food - Ghormeh Sabzi, Berengh, Tadigh, etc. :)

Off the top of my head, these are the basic differences. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask.

Best Regards,

Rabbi Maroof

Hanukkah or Yahrzeit?


My mother's yahrzeit is next Friday, the fifth day of Hanukkah. At minha I
seem to have two choices:

To pray before the amud at a minyan that will take place after we have lit the
candles at home, OR

To pray earlier in a minyan, but not to be the shliah tzibbur.

Which alternative is preferable?


If I understand correctly, your conflict is as follows:
On one hand, the recommended procedure
throughout Hanukkah, and particularly on
Friday afternoon, is to pray the Minha Service
prior to lighting Hanukkah candles.

However, this would require you to forgo the
custom of serving as prayer leader on the
anniversary of a parent's death (Yahrzeit).
You are wondering which priority should take
precedence here.

This is somewhat of a judgment call,
since neither of these considerations is
strictly halakhic. You are weighing the
relative importance of two recommended

Thus, whatever choice you make, you are
still within the parameters of legitimate
halakhic observance.

I believe that praying minha earlier and
thus lighting Hanukkah candles at the ideal
time would be the preferred practice in
this case. Leading the prayers on a
yahrzheit is a custom that was introduced
into Judaism much later (the original
version was simply reciting kaddish, and
before that, simply fasting - though not on
Hanukkah, of course) that should not
trump the more established and intuitive
principle of lighting Hanukkah candles after minha.

Best Regards,

Rabbi Maroof

Making Music on Shabbat


Shalom Rabbi,
I am wondering why it isn't okay to use a drum or any other musical instrument on Shabbat if groups like Chabad and other Chassidim say the ban against this doesn't really apply today because nobody makes their own instruments now. They use this line of argument to justify clapping and dancing, but what about using a small hand drum or something similar which one (and most) has no idea how to create or fix if broken?
Andrew H.


Dear Andrew,

After reading my response, I would encourage you to address this question to someone who believes the ban on clapping and dancing is no longer applicable. You are correct in observing that this position seems inconsistent because it still upholds the prohibition on musical instruments despite the fact that some of them should be treated in the same way as hand clapping. It would be interesting to see how proponents of the Chassidic view explain their stance.

As you may know, most halakhic scholars disagree with the Chassidic practice and maintain that we don't have the ability to discount Rabbinic legislation simply because its original intent has become partially obsolete.

In this case in particular, the reality is that many musicians do indeed regularly and habitually tune their instruments, especially string players, so the prohibition makes perfect sense. (It is tuning, by the way, and not fashioning instruments, that is the reason for the rabbinic enactment - tuning an instrument is Biblically prohibited on Shabbat because it constitutes repairing or restoring the functionality of a vessel).

Distinguishing between different forms of instruments, hand clapping, etc., on a case by case basis is generally avoided in halakha because it becomes confusing and the average person is generally not well versed in the subtleties of the principles involved.

Best Regards,

Rabbi Maroof