The Musings of David P. Neff

Judaism from the eyes of a convert

Fake News and Halacha

Since the 2016 elections we have been hearing a lot about “fake news.” Fake news is defined as “a deliberately publish hoax, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news—often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect.” It differs from satire as fake news intends to mislead the public andn present itself as real news, whereas satire news articles are clearly for entertainment purposes only.

It is sad that in 2017 fake news and propaganda spreads like wild fire and people share and comment before reading the article.

Fake news and spreading fake news has quite a few halachic implications I wish to address in this article.

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Shabbat for Beginners – Sanctifying the Seventh Day

One of the things that drew me into Judaism was the beauty of Shabbat. Shabbat, often referred to as the Sabbath, lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday (a period of about 25 hours). During this time, there are 39 categories of work that is prohibited to perform. While at first glance Shabbat appears boring and tedious, nothing can be further from the truth. By observing Shabbat we give testimony to the fact that G-d created the universe in 6 days and rested on the 7th and also giving testimony to the fact of the Exodus from Egypt.

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Daily Halacha: The Laws of Pesach #5

One need not line cupboard shelves or drawers with shelving paper. Since they do not come into contact with hot food the only concern is cleaning the area out from any Chameitz.

One may use towels and table-cloths from year round on Pesach as long they are washed in hot water and soap before Pesach.

I want to emphasize that I am writing what is necessary by law. Jewish People from time immemorial have cleaned for Pesach with extra stringencies and it is a beautiful testimony to our ancestor’s commitment to G-d. I would advise that if one has a custom that is a stringency one should treasure it and hold on to it. If for some reason it becomes difficult to maintain, it should be weighed seriously before being discarded.

Daily Halacha: Laws of Pesach #4

Even after scrubbing counter-tops they are still considered Chameitz due to the fact that hot food comes into contact with the surface over the course of the year. Therefore one must cover the counter-tops with cardboard or thick padding over Pesach.

If one has a granite (not granite composite), marble, stainless steel, or metal counter-top one may kasher it by pouring boiling hot water over every part of the counter.

Many people have asked about using a steamer for kashering surfaces. One may use an industrial steamer or iron provided that one must  water over the surface they are about to Kasher. They then must hold the steamer over the area for a few seconds. This way the steamer makes the moisture already there hot enough to kasher the surface.

Westboro Baptist Church to Picket Yeshiva University

The Westboro Baptist Church, founded by infamous “pastor” Fred Phelps will be picketing Yeshiva University, one of the largest and most prestigious Jewish  yeshivas in New York City on March 27, 2017  from 9:45 AM – 10:30 AM.

In a statement posted on their website, the Westboro Baptist Church stated: “The Lord God entrusted His Holy Word to the ancient Israelites long  ago.  Their  modern  descendants  have  sorely  despised  and disregarded that manna from heaven to their detriment”

The Westboro Baptist Church teaches that Jews are responsible for killing Jesus Christ and believe that 144,000 Jews will become Christians before the end times. This is one of the most re-occurring antisemitic libel throughout history and is responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews.

Although the WBC is few in number, antisemitism is alive and well. A  poll back in 2013 found that more than 25% of Americans believed that the Jews are responsible for killing Jesus Christ. According to the ADL, more than 1.9 billion people harbored anti-Semitic beliefs.

Let us look forward to the day when the nations will come to the full understanding of G-d and will live together in peace and harmony.

Daily Halacha: The Laws of Pesach #3

Kitchen/ Dining Room Table – One should clean very well. If there are hard to reach places, the area should be sprayed with a harsh cleaner. The custom is to cover the table with a water-resistant cover such as a plastic sheet. It should be thick enough that it shouldn’t tear during Pesach.

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