Miscellany: R-T (Remembering Amaleik, Shiluach HaKein, Torah Study...)


All Jews, both men and women, must fulfill the commandment to remember what Amaleik did to the Israelites. The paragraph about that episode, called Parashat Zachor (found in Parashat Ki Teitzei:  Deuteronomy/Devarim 25:17-19) is read on the Shabbat morning before Purim as a law established by Chazal (takana). The commandment is fulfilled whenever that episode in the Torah is read, even privately and at home, but there is special value in hearing it read in a synagogue on that Shabbat preceding Purim.


It is customary to say "God bless you" in English (or the equivalent in other languages) when someone sneezes.


Declaration of Ownerlessness

For shilu'ach ha'kein, the bird, eggs, and nest must be wild or declared ownerless (hefkeir) with three adult, Jewish, male witnesses.

Shilu'ach HaKein for Female Birds

Shilu'ach ha'kein only applies to the female birds of kosher species (so, with doves, this mitzva may only be done at night because the male doves do the nesting during the daytime).


Positive Commandments and Kareit

The only positive commandments punished by spiritual excision (kareit) are not doing a brit mila and not bringing the Passover offering.


Tatttoos and Cemeteries

Tattoos are not permissible. However, if someone has a tattoo, it will not preclude him or her from being buried in a Jewish cemetery.

TEMPLE (Zeicher L'Churban)

Leaving Part of House Unfinished

It is no longer customary to leave part of a house unfinished (as a remembrance of the Jerusalem Temple's destruction) and it is not necessary to wreck part of a completed house.

Tearing (Kri'a) on Seeing Temple Ruins

You must tear four vertical inches at the neck of your shirt (and jacket, too, if you wear one) when seeing the ruins of the Temple in Jerusalem for the first time in more than 30 days. You do not need to be close by; do kri'a even if you see the mosques that are on top of the Temple mount.

Note: A woman should not tear her garment if it would result in her being immodestly exposed in public. Don't tear your garment on Shabbat, Jewish festivals,chol ha'moed,Rosh Hashana, andYom Kippur. Do tear even on the afternoons before Shabbat and Jewish festivals.



Studying Torah is a basic requirement for all Jews and such study is considered to be a prestigious commandment (Torah study is as important as doing all the other mitzvot: talmud Torah k'negged kulam). Setting time for Torah study (k'viat zman l'Torah) means that we show how important Torah study is by setting a specific time each day and a specific duration for such study.

But all commandments that you must do (mitzvot aseh) take precedence over studying Torah. That is, you may NOT ignore the need to do another positive commandment because you are studying!

Minimum Required Torah Study

The minimum requirements for Jews to learn:

  • Men:  All parts of the Torah plus whatever halacha is relevant for them.

Note: The most important subjects for men to study are whatever is practical for them in their lives

  • Women:  All halachot relevant for them, and hashkafa.

Studying Torah

All Jews must study Torahlishma” (studying for the sake of understanding the Torah, just because we are commanded to do so). If you are studying in order to teach, to get honor, or any other reason, it is not lishma.

Reading Weekly Torah Portion

Read the weekly Torah portion (parasha) twice each week and Targum (or commentary) once each week.

Learning Gemara

If you can memorize the gemarayou are learning, you do not need to use the printed book.

Torah at Meals

Some Torah should be discussed at every meal.

Torah, Prayers, and Bad Smell

Do not say blessings or prayers or study holy subjects (limudei kodesh) if there is a bad smell.


A siyum can be held any time a book of Torah or Talmud or any other holy book (sefer kodesh) has been studied for a long time; three months or longer is a good guideline. Simply reading through a book does not qualify; you must study it and understand it.

Note: Originally, the intent was for a volume (masechta) of Talmud or a division (seder) of the Mishna.

TRAITS (Midot)


A person may reach the “gadol” level through persistence in study or through brilliance but usually it requires both.


Twining Fingers with Spouse

You may interwine your fingers with those of your spouse, even though you there is a custom not to intertwine the fingers of both of your own hands.

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their website for more information.