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Ask the Rabbi #100

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This issue is dedicated in memory of R' Avraham Yitzchak ben Yaakov zt'l and Rachel bas Nassen Nota z'l by their family

16 March 1996; Issue #100

  • Blazing Sukkahs
  • Answer to Yiddle Riddle
  • Subscription Information
  • Back issues are indexed both by issue no. and by subject
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  • Blazing Sukkahs


    Jeff Marder wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    Recently I cleaned out the garage, and I found lumber that was once used to build our Sukkah. I no longer use this wood for creating such a 'Sacred Space.' May I burn these boards in our fireplace?

    Dear Jeff,

    In general, 'mitzvah objects' may be disposed of when you're done with them. Nevertheless, they should be treated with dignity - they shouldn't be stepped on or thrown in the garbage.

    Burning, however, is not considered a disgrace to a mitzvah. So burning sukkah wood - the walls and the roof - is a perfect way to dispose of it. Just be careful.

    There are a number of exceptions to this rule - e.g., Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot. They have special sanctity and should not be burned. Rather they should be buried (geniza).

    Ideally, once you use an object for a mitzvah you should try to use it for another mitzvah. For example, you should use a torn tzitzit string as a bookmark when you study Torah!

    So use your sukkah wood to burn your chametz, or burn it in you fireplace for oneg Shabbat (Shabbat enjoyment).

    Here's a true story that's hard to imagine happening anywhere else but here in Israel. I was once walking to Yeshiva when I passed a garbage truck moving slowly down the street. The garbage man standing in back of the truck was trying to get my attention. Then I noticed he was holding something long and black in his outstretched arm, and he was motioning for me to take it. "Burnt spaghetti?" I wondered. I reached out and took it. It was a tefillin strap. "This shouldn't be in the garbage," said the garbage man. "You'll know what to do with it..."
    • Tractate Megillah 26b
    • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 21:1
    • Mishna Berurah ibid. 6 ,8 & 9 and 638:24
    • Aruch Hashulchan 638:12, Bekurei Yaakov 638:18

    Answer to Yiddle Riddle


    Last week we asked: Triplets and their cousin are born within a 2 hour period, yet the brit milah for each of the four takes place on four consecutive days. They are all healthy -- i.e., no jaundice or other health problems. How can this be?


    1. One baby is born before sunset. His brit is 8 days later, which happens to be the day before Yom Tov.
    2. His brother is born after dark - halachically a new day. His brit is a full day later, the day of Yom Tov itself. A brit performed on the 8th day supersedes Yom Tov.
    3. The third triplet was born between the other two. He was born in the halachic 'gray area' after sunset but before dark. It is unclear if this is considered night or day. He can't have his brit the day before Yom Tov because that might be the 7th day, which is too early. He can't have his brit on Yom Tov, because that might be the 9th day, and only a brit done on the 8th day supersedes Yom Tov. Therefore, his brit is the day after Yom Tov.
    4. So much for the triplets who, by the way, were born in Israel. Their cousin in Johannesburg, South Africa was born at the same time as the baby in paragraph #3. His brit, however, is postponed yet another day, due to the extra day of Yom Tov observed outside of Israel! (Johannesburg is in the same time zone as Israel.)
    Thanks to Shlomo Steinhart for the riddle idea.

    • Written by Rabbi Moshe Lazerus, Rabbi Benzion Bamberger, Rabbi Reuven Subar, Rabbi Avrohom Lefkowitz and other Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions / Tanenbaum College, Jerusalem, Israel.
    • General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    • Production Design: Lev Seltzer
    • HTMIL Design: Michael Treblow

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