Preparations

Eating Restrictions on Friday – We have non-religious relatives staying nearby on vacation and we’ve been trying to invite them for a meal. They have a busy schedule so we’ve been having trouble setting a date and time. Is there any issue inviting them on… More »
Fingernails – I know that Judaism has something to say about every aspect of existence and our lives. But I never imagined there was something to know about fingernails, until my friend said there is a specific order to cut them. What’s… More »

Shabbat Candles

Candle Lighting Times – I say that Shabbat begins 18 minutes before sundown. My son says it begins after lighting the Shabbat candles. Who is right? More »
Husband Lighting – My wife is going to be away for Shabbat in a few weeks. Am I supposed to light in her absence? Is there any difference between a wife and husband lighting? More »
Shabbat Candles & Havdalah on Chanukah – During the Shabbat of Chanukah, which is lit first - the Menorah or the Shabbat candles? And then on Saturday night, which do we do first - the Menorah or the Havdalah service? More »
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Shabbat Prayers

Driving to Synagogue on Shabbat – I enjoy attending synagogue services on Shabbat, but the rabbi told me that it's better to pray at home than to violate a prohibition of Shabbat. I couldn't really see how that’s more important than attending synagogue, which gives me… More »
Eating Shabbat Morning Before Prayers – In our community Shabbat morning services only begin at 9:00 and the lunchtime meal does not begin till well after 12:00. Can I eat before morning prayers if I make kiddush first? More »
Mincha and Ma’ariv Together; Earliest time for Ma’ariv – Our synagogue says Mincha shortly before sunset and Ma’ariv almost immediately after. I’m wondering if there is any issue doing so. It is only beginning to get dark when Ma’ariv is said. What is the earliest time for Ma’ariv? More »
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Kiddush

Kiddush – Drinking the Wine – I tend to get dizzy when I drink wine too quickly – though in general I tolerate wine very well. How much of the Kiddush cup do I need to drink? Is it sufficient to take just a few sips… More »
Kiddush – How Much Wine – I own two very nice Kiddush cups – I believe both were wedding presents. One happens to be quite large and the other fairly small. Is there a minimum or maximum size a cup must be? Also, when I use… More »
Kiddush – Stand or Sit? – Whenever I go to someone's house for Shabbat, I notice that on Friday night we stand for Kiddush, and on Saturday morning we sit. Why? More »
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Shabbat Meals

Blessing After Washing for Bread – I noticed that whenever we wash our hands – both in the morning and before eating bread – we make the blessing “al netilat yadayim” after washing. But don’t we always make blessings before doing a mitzvah rather than after? More »
Challah – Breaking Bread on Shabbat – Whenever I attend a Shabbat meal, the process of making the blessing (bracha) on the challah and cutting it seems detailed. Can you give me the rundown of how it’s done? More »
Covering the Stove (Blech) – My brother observes Shabbat and he has a “blech” – a large flat plate used to cover the stovetop. All his hot Shabbat food is placed there, and sometimes returned there. Can you give me a quick rundown of why… More »
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Havdalah

Repeating Havdalah for Others – We have several older neighbors in our building who ask me to make Havdalah for them. I try to have them come to us in time for Havdalah, but that doesn’t always work. If I’ve said Havdalah already, can I… More »
Shabbat Candles & Havdalah on Chanukah – During the Shabbat of Chanukah, which is lit first - the Menorah or the Shabbat candles? And then on Saturday night, which do we do first - the Menorah or the Havdalah service? More »
What to Use for Besamim (Spices)? – Whenever I go to a religious home for havdalah, I notice that they use whole cloves for the blessing on the spices (besamim). Is there some special significance to this, or can any spice be used? More »
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Forbidden Activities - Electricity

Dishwasher on Shabbat – I know that you can't use a dishwasher on Shabbat, but I'm wondering if I can load the dirty dishes into it? Or perhaps I shouldn't be touching the dishwasher at all on Shabbat? More »
Driving to Synagogue on Shabbat – I enjoy attending synagogue services on Shabbat, but the rabbi told me that it's better to pray at home than to violate a prohibition of Shabbat. I couldn't really see how that’s more important than attending synagogue, which gives me… More »
Kiruv Drive – Is there a possibility to invite someone to our home for Shabbat dinner, if they are not Shabbat observant and will probably drive home after the meal? More »
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Forbidden Activities - Weekday Activities

Bicycles on Shabbat – I am in a new city and last Shabbat I decided to go to synagogue for services. After looking one up and calling to get the address, I found that it was far from where I was staying. I have… More »
Giving Gifts on Shabbat – I am invited Shabbat lunch to a local family. Is there any issue with bringing them a gift such as a bottle of wine? More »
Musical Toys on Shabbat – My two-year-old often gets ahold of his favorite musical toy on Shabbat and starts banging away at the keys. It certainly disturbs the serenity of Shabbat. Am I obligated to take it away from him? Am I even allowed to… More »
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Forbidden Activities - Carrying

Accidental Carrying on Shabbat – What do you do if you realize you’re carrying something outside on Shabbat, such as if you have something in your pocket you didn’t know about? More »
Carrying Child Who Can Walk on Shabbat – Regarding the law that one may carry a child who can walk by himself outside without an Eruv, how well does the child need to be able to walk? Let’s say he walks only with assistance. More »
Carrying Keys on Shabbat – I’d like to know if there is any way I can carry my house key to the synagogue and back on Shabbat. The typical trick of hiding it under the mat just doesn’t feel so secure to me (we actually… More »
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Forbidden Activities - Work & School

Paying Babysitter for Shabbat Work – We’d like to hire a babysitter to watch our kids on a regular basis Shabbat morning, so we can go to synagogue. Is there a problem with arranging her to work on Shabbat and to pay her for it? More »
Studying for a Test on Shabbat – I am a college student and I wanted to know if it’s permitted to study for a test on Shabbat. I used to do so, but then became concerned that perhaps it was an issue of preparing from Shabbat to… More »
Studying History (Weekday and Shabbat) – I’ve heard that some classic Jewish sources write that the study of history is a waste of time and should not be done, in particular on Shabbat. Is this true? More »
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Forbidden Activities - General, Misc

Food with Writing – We recently bought cookies with writing etched into them. That got me thinking that perhaps one shouldn’t eat them on Shabbat, since writing and erasing are forbidden. I’m especially concerned because we were going to celebrate my son’s birthday on… More »
Opening Folding Bed on Shabbat – I live in a small apartment and I want to have guests who may stay overnight. Would I be allowed to open a sleeper sofar for them on Shabbat? (Because my apartment is small, there isn’t room to keep it… More »
Shabbat-Observant Politicians? – After the nomination of Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the first Jewish Vice-Presidential candidate - and a Shabbat observant one at that! - one question raised was his ability to conduct affairs of state only six days a week. Sen. Lieberman… More »
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Misc.

Shabbat Hospitality – I bought a plane ticket to fly around the world. The ticket is good for one year. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. My concern is how I will find the Jewish community in each place, especially for Shabbat… More »
Shabbos Goy – My husband and I are Christians and our neighbors are Orthodox Jewish. Sometimes on any given Saturday, our neighbors knock on our door and ask us to turn on the air conditioning, etc. We've always helped them out, not understanding… More »
Shiva on Shabbat – We are unfortunately sitting shiva for our mother right now. I know that shiva is not observed on Shabbat, but I’m unclear precisely how one goes about observing Shabbat. Are there any differences from an ordinary Shabbat? More »
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