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Purim Responsa

on Friday, February 22 2013. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
As the Rabbi of a large Congregation, I am privileged to field halachic questions frequently, both from within our community as well as from without.  Some are straightforward and easy to answer, while others require research, consultation and sometimes even creativity.  In honor of Purim, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite halachic questions that I received this past year.  Out of confidentiality, I have omitted the names of the those that posed the questions and ask that for the sake of their privacy, you not try to figure it out.

• I just got off the Carnival cruise ship. Which do I say first, asher yatzar or ha’gomel?

• If I made a pledge to Kol Nidrei out of fear of the giant man who made the appeal, do I have to honor the pledge?

• If I suffer from dry mouth in the middle of a major public speech and I need to reach for a bottle of water already threatening my political future, can I skip the shehakol?

• Someone I know recently had a boy after six girls and made a fleishig bris with people blowing shofar. Is that really necessary or isn’t that somewhat excessive and over the top?

• What beracha do I make on steroids?  (I am not asking for myself, but for a friend of mine who plays third base and wants to use them only to recover from injuries)

• If I can inspire others without inspiring myself, do I have to inspire myself first anyway?

• If I fall asleep during the Rabbi’s sermon and he speaks for over 30 minutes, do I need to wash my hands before davening mussaf?

• If I accidentally spoke Lashon Hara about Oprah Winfrey, do I have to ask her for mechila?

• Rabbi – Is there a blessing on the Czar?

• If I am at the Superbowl on a shabbos and the lights go out, can I ask a non-Jew to turn them back on?  If he does without my asking, can I benefit and watch the game or must I close my eyes and just listen?

• I got an email from a friend who is stuck overseas and lost his wallet.  Is it enough to send him money or must I go to London personally to pick him up and bring him home?

• If a Cohen mortally injures someone in the Hodu Bowl, can he still duchen?

• Rabbi, when you go to Israel, can you bring along a small package for my sister in Amman, Jordan, I understand it’s right next door?

• I came 8 minutes late to the 7:45am minyan.  Should I answer kedusha or say morning berachos?

• If I am invited to sing the national anthem at the inauguration and I lip-sync, do I violate geneivas da’as?

• If the 8:00am minyan is still davening when the time of mincha comes, can I fulfill both shacharis and mincha with one shemona esrei?

• I made a bar mitzvah, but the short Middle Eastern man didn’t throw any candy.  Is my son still considered bar mitzvad and can he count for a minyan?

• Didn’t the Synagogue Administrator work at the Ritz Carlton? Why hasn’t he offered to get me the friends and family rate for my daughter’s wedding?

• Hey mon, I was making da chulent for hashkama and a drop of milk fell in but I think it was less than one sixtieth.  Can I add more chulent to nullify the drop so that it is not a case of doubt?  

• Rabbi – who should I vote for?  Who did you vote for?

As you can see, as Rabbis we receive many questions that we didn’t train for in Rabbinical School.  Thank God we have Purim Responsa to help us find all the answers.

Happy Purim!
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