Friday, February 06, 2009


Ridiculous Halachic Answers

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Heshy at Frum Satire, together with a friend, posted a series of Ridiculous Halachic Questions. As I read through them, I thought that some aren't so ridiculous and people may actually believe some very odd things. (Ok, most of them are satirical and cynical, but hey, every good question deserves an answer.) So here they are, the questions with my answers. (In a change from our normal custom, I'm not translating each yeshivish {Jewish orthodox slanguage} term used, there's just too many.)

Crazy Halachic and Hashkafic Questions:

My parents daven at a modern orthodox shul with a treife mechitza, is it better for me to go and be kivud av and daven with a treife mechitza or is it better for me to stay at home and daven beyichidus?

-- First, don't be so certain the mechitza is treif. It may follow a number of leniencies and be kosher bide'eved. Consult a compentant orthodox rabbi.

Can I daven in front of a woman who is wearing crocs?

-- Depends on your gender. If you are female, yes. If you are Israeli, definately. If you are male, what are you doing looking behind you while davening???

Can I daven in front of a man who is not wearing a double head covering?

-- If you are female, you shouldn't be standing in front of men davening - don't be a show off. If you are male, consult a compentant orthodox psychotherapist as you're stuck in chumra mode.

My community has just instituted honor killings for women caught in despicable acts, is this halachically ok?

-- Given the halacha about getting up early to kill those who are going to kill you, you might want to make sure your door is locked tonight.

Is it better for bochrim to wear jeans or go on the internet?

-- Wear jeans.

Our table cloth is off-white, but the shadchun will only redd us shidduchim for our daughter if it is white, is it permissible to lie about this?

-- You may want to consider whether you want in-laws who are so shallow. Alternatively, spring for a new table cloth.

Does malchusay dina count for things like money tax fraud, since I am using the money to support shuls and yeshivas?

-- Yes. Heterim for this type of question only apply in situations where the government is sufficiently corrupt that one may not survive otherwise - and not survive doesn't mean can't afford a new SUV.

Is it loshon horah to tell on my rebbe who molested me?

-- It is a mitzvah to do so, as one who performs such acts is injuring others as well.

Are girls considered untznius if they don’t wear button down shirts?

-- Tznius standards are local community issues. Things considered ok in one community may be considered inappropriate in others. One should dress regal like a queen, not attention getting like a princess.

I grew up modern and went to NCSY until I was 10, I plan on learning in kollel after I get married. Is it really lying if I deny this part of my life? My parents have agreed to tell shadchunim that I was in learning mishnayis groups and attended siyuim mishnayus instead of NCSY conventions.

-- Be honest, but not stupid. When one sells something, one is obligated to make sure the buyer knows what he is getting, one is not obligated to go into great detail about flaws - especially if the purchaser may not even consider them such.

Why are red lips not painted another color to avoid attention?

-- Regular lip color is not glowing dripping shiny sparkly red which women are encouraged to buy and apply nowadays.

Can I play Wii with my wife while she is a needa since our cars may touch each other?

-- Physical touching is to be avoided, interaction is ok.

Where did ladies who wear bikins and snoods get their heterim from?

-- Women who are publicly bathing in a gender segregated area may expose their bodies yet still feel their hair is reserved only for their husband, or not to be exposed at all.

Is it assur for me to hook up with my mother in law for shalom bayis purposes, there is no prohibition against women together is there?

-- This is clearly assur d'orisa.

If there are only male clerks in a store, is it permissible for me to ask one for help?

-- Yes.

One of my brothers was adopted, can I talk to him?

-- Yes. But being alone with him for an extended period in a yichud situation can be a problem. Consult a competent orthodox rabbi.

If I am in an elevator with my mother is that yichud?

-- No. There is never an iyan of yichud with mommy.

If there is no counter for my slam the change onto while I am working as a cashier, what should I do?

-- Carefully drop it into the customer's hand.

I find that I need make up on shabbos – does being in the shidduch crisis allow me a heter to make myself look pretty on shabbos?

-- No, but one may purchase kosher-for-Shabbos makeup.

If I am stranded on a desert island with members of the opposite sex- must I kill them to avoid breaking yichud? How would I kill them without breaking the laws of negiah? Could I eat a member of the opposite sex if I had nothing else to eat?

-- No, no, and no, and you might want to stop by a competent orthodox psychotherapist sometime soon. Very soon. Really very soon.

Can a man eat turkey breast? If so may he touch it with his actual hand or does he need to use a utensil at all times?

-- Yes. And a woman may eat bull genitals if so inclined and from a kosher slaughtered, soaked and salted bull.

What materials are permissible to throw on shabbos if they are aimed at being mekarev apirkorsim? I am just asking because I heard rocks are assur now and we have mostly resorted to throwing fruit which may be considered baal tashchis?

-- One may not throw objects at ones fellow Jew with intention of injury. However, there are situations in Israel where politics and cultural conflicts leads to intentional Shabbos desecrations targeting religious communities. In such a case, one should follow the instrutions of the local rabbaim who may advice certain protest actions - such as road blocking - in response.

Is it permissible to hack into a potential shidduchs computer to see if she has anything to hide?

-- No.

Is it ok to order food in a restaurant where the male waiter actually looks me in the eye when he asks what I’d like to order?

-- Yes.

When a woman breaks halacha by sitting in the front of the bus, what is the best way to teach her a lesson - feathering and tarring, beating or stoning?

-- A quiet conversation is advised.

Can we bleach a girl on shabbos for dressing unztnius or is that breaking the melocha of coloring, cleaning and squeezing?

-- You should consult your local police department, making sure to mention all previous incidents in detail.

If I get into a cab and the driver is of the opposing gender- should i ask to leave a door open?

-- No. However, if it is night time in an area of lite or no traffic or without people on the street, there could be an actual inyan of yichud.

If someone who doesn’t know the laws of negiah touches me – is it better to call the vaad hatznius or scream for the police?

-- Depends on where they touched you.

Should I report my friends that do not keep shabbos to the bais din?

-- Write it down (after Shabbos) and save the report for the Sanhedrin after Moshiach comes. They are the only ones actually authorized to do something about it.

If I am going up a stairwell and meet a women coming down should I walk down and then go up when she leaves? Should I just keep going?

-- Just keep going, be sure not to hit your head on the roof.

Can I go on an escalator while someone of the opposite sex is on it?

-- Yes, unless the travel time exceeds 2 minutes and the escalator is in a private closed locked room.

Can I invite my non-religious relatives or non-Jewish co-workers to my wedding?

-- Yes, but this can create some complications particularly if one has separate seating. A short instruction sheet or booklet about the wedding, separate dancing and separate seating should be given out at the event.

If I have a medical emergency in Israel- but I don’t believe in the State of Israel- is it better to go untreated, then to G-d forbid go to a hospital that supports Israel?

-- Go for treatment, and before arriving in Israel be sure to check your Prozac dosage. You may need an increase.

Can I accept treatment from non-hatzolah paramedics?

-- Yes. The point of Hatzolah was to organize quicker treatment for the community. *Note in Israel, Hatzolah paramedics are free, while Magen Dovid Adom will cost you NIS 850 for the visit and/or ride to the hospital.

Can I go to a barbershop where both sexes are getting haircuts?

-- No.

Can I walk on the same side of the street as a woman if we are the only ones on the street and it is dark out?

-- Yes, except in Kiryas Yoel, New York, which has segregated sidewalks.

If I need to go to the mikvah on shabbos, is it better to blow dry my hair then to have someone realize where i have just come from as that may be untznius and lead to inappropriate thoughts?

-- Cover your hair when you go and on the return, then no one will know. If you run into someone you know who asks where you are going, just be nonchalant about it. Such things do really do happen, and not so infrequently as you might think.

Can I tell my husband it is mikvah night before I come home because he may start planning ahead and have impure thoughts?

-- He's male, he already is.

Is it inappropriate to look my mother in law in the face?

-- No.

May I speak to my date after I have decided that he isn’t for me?

-- Yes, but not much.

Can men wear red ties or is that too bright? Why do all the yeshivish guys I know wear pink and orange ties?

-- Bad taste?

If my date walks into oncoming traffic but she may not necessarily be killed, can I grab her to prevent her from doing it?

-- If you fail to do so, you are at serious fault.

Can a brother hug his sister? Can he speak to her?

-- Yes. There is no iyun of yichud between brother and sister. Of course, he may not want to depending on age.

Is wearing a red velvet yarmulke untznius?

-- Yes if you are a female. If you are male, it's only stupid looking.

Should I get breast reduction surgery because people can tell I have breasts no matter what I wear?

-- No, this would be absolutely forbidden. However, if you insist on wearing clothes that prevent any view of your chest (and there is no halachic requirement to do so), try a burka. Trust me, works for the ghosts, I mean ladies, in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet.

I work at empire and we were wondering if yeshivish people will buy more of our products if we took breast out of the name?

-- No, just add another 2 hashgachas. Seeing 5 hashgachas is enough to trust any product.

If my brothers friends are over should I leave the house?

-- If you are female, yes there could be an issue depending on the age of the young men and number of them. Go to your room and lock your door, or just throw them out of the house.

Can I wear a dark gray or navy wedding dress since that is more tznius, or is there some need to wear white?

-- You may wear any color wedding dress you like, however traditionally white is worn showing that one is particularly holy at the time of one's wedding. If you wish to show otherwise, feel free.

Can I make my husband wear a blindfold when we walk around since we live in Miami and there are many pritzusdicke girls?

-- This can be a real issue. Having actually seen someone who did this, I wouldn't advise it or at least buy him a helmet, knee and elbow pads. Alternatively and seriously, move to a less untzius area.

Is it tznius for a woman to say shabbosdick or yuntiffdick?

-- Cough, umm, yes.

Can I compliment my friends mother on her food or is that not tznius?

-- You can. However it would be inappropriate to complement her on her dress or shaitel. Further, mentioning to your friend that his mother is hot is ill advised.

Can I tell my wife that she looks beautiful when she is a needa?

-- No. You may not complement her appearance when she is needa. I wouldn't suggest criticizing it either, or she may stay that way.

If I don’t participate in synchronized swimming tryouts do I have to shave my head when I get married?

-- You do not have to shave your head when you get married. A few chassidic groups do have this chumra. If that thought horrifies you, don't marry one of them.

Can a male doctor deliver my baby or should I hold it in?

-- Yes he can. You should never "hold it in" whether a weekday, Shabbos, or Yom Tov, and regardless of who may be doing the delivery. I have known someone who intentionally delayed delivery that started on Shabbos until after Shabbat, this is ill advised as it's dangerous to the mother and baby, and therefore halachicly assur.

Are red cars tznius?

-- Depends on the type and brightness. One should not be overly extravagant and draw attention. Also, red cars get more tickets, many more.

Is my 3 year old son allowed to play with dolls of the opposite sex? Is he allowed to play at all or should he just be learning all day?

-- Not a big deal for a 3 year old. Yes playing is fine. However you are advised to run to a social worker for parental skills training right away.

Is it assur for my wife to leave the house when she is pregnant because nothing can hide the fact she is and then people will think about how she got pregnant?

-- Obviously asked by one who is not married. Yes she may. All the other married people already know what you are doing, and all the single ones remain clueless.

What is assur to lie about on a shidduch resume?

-- Lying is assur, however detailing every possible negative with a 5 page history is simply not wise. Providing minimal information glossing over some times of negatives is acceptable. Consult your LOCAL competent orthodox rabbi for local custom.

Can I publicly rebuke my off the derech brother so he will come back on?

-- No. The Shulchan Aruch forbids one from rebuking those who will not listen. Your brother didn't listen to you even when he was frum, so he definitely isn't going to now. Try something completely different, like being nice.

If my little sister dresses untzniusly but is frummer then I am in every way, are my shidduch chances ruined?

-- No, but asking such questions will ruin them.

How old do I have to be to be allowed to join online dating sites?

-- Old enough and ready to get married.

Is joining frumster assur because not everyone wears a black hat?

-- No, and don't you think the girls would look funny in a black hat?

My mother doesn’t cover her hair, can I tell my dates that she is the maid so they will not dump me?

-- No. Further, in-law relations can seriously impact your married life after the wedding. If your potential spouse-to-be can't deal with your family situation, you don't want to marry this person.

What is the best method to help apikorsim see the torahs true light?

-- For goodness sake, don't let them talk to YOU.

Can I whisper and point at a girl who is dressed immodestly to make her feel uncomfortable, so I don’t embarrass her in public?

-- You are clearly missing an understanding of the concept "embarrass". Call your mother and ask for an explanation.

I became frum recently; must I change my birth name to a Jewish name?

-- If you do not have a Hebrew name, you should work with your rabbi or rebbitzen to select one. If you do have one, you are under no obligation to change your U.S. legal name to your Hebrew name, and in the U.S. the procedure for doing so is expensive, time consuming, and complicated. However, if you live in England, the procedure is so simple that it's a nice thing to do.

Is it better to wear a light colored suit with a hat to davening or stay at home?

-- It's better to daven with a minyan as long as one is dressed modestly (male or female). Those who have a custom to wear a hat or suit while davening should realize that the chumra (additional stringency) never overrides the halacha (legal requirement), the custom for a hat does not override the halacha to pray with a quorum.

Is my davening counted if a chabadnick davens for the amud?

-- One who asks this question should worry about whether their davening is ever counted under any conditions. They are advised to consult their rav about a tikun for sinat chinam.

If I wear a srugi with a hat on is that counted due to the fact that srugis do not have two head coverings?

-- When one is already in chumra land, one shouldn't be nit picky.

If my wife insists on eating with me when we have guests is that grounds for a get?

-- In Ramallah, Gaza City, and maybe in Kiryas Yoel, yes. Everywhere else, having an exceptionally stupid husband may be.

Do I have to give my wife a get if she dresses immodestly?

-- This can be a real issue. One should consult a competent REASONABLE orthodox rabbi.

If I get custody of my sons can they live in the same house with me or is that yichud?

-- As mentioned above, there is never an inyan of yichud between mothers and sons, or fathers and daughters (or grandchildren) or brothers and sisters.

If a Jew mentions that he works with non-Jews may I rebuke him for assimilating?

-- One should wait until after one has collected their kollel check which was funded from the tzedakah that working Jew donated. After rebuking, one is required to hand over the kollel check to the person rebuked.


Anonymous said...

Changing your name in America is easy also - it's called the usage method and costs nothing but the time it takes to let everyone know your new name.


Shoshana Gib said...

The absurdity of the questions is NOT what troubles me. There is a much deeper sickness here than non intelligence in fact I am sure these people are very intelligent. Its another issue, I cant put my finger on it but it really bothers things for sure somewhere along the line Jews are missing the point. Hashem help us.

Shiloh said...

Akiva, nice post. Akiva and Nati, prior to Shabbat, I stumbled across your podcast titled the delay of the geulah. I am not sure who was talking here, but it was mentioned that the Sanhedrin must ask the Mashiakh to declare enough to haShem. Is their unwillingness to make the request the delay or do they not want to accept the one that haShem has chosen (as he may not match the Rambam for example). May it be that they are not aware of certain events preventing them from moving forward. Also, are you aware of after verse 21 in Ovadiah is fulfilled, where the sages elaborate on what happens after that verse. Your comments would be wonderful. Shavua tov.

Anonymous said...

Great answers, Akiva! Shoshana, I think most of these questions were made up by the Frum Satire comedians.

m00kie said...


Chaim M. said...

hilarious, loved reading the psakim and the humor in the answers.

prili said...

"If I have a medical emergency in Israel- but I don’t believe in the State of Israel- is it better to go untreated, then to G-d forbid go to a hospital that supports Israel?

-- Go for treatment, and before arriving in Israel be sure to check your Prozac dosage. You may need an increase."

I was the friend who helped frum satire write this- I only wrote this one because a child in the school I worked in (in Israel) died because their parents refused to take them to a hospital run by the Israeli government.

It's sad when chumra overrides halacha, isn't it?

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