Halacha for Monday 23 Tevet 5780 January 20 2020

Widows and Orphans

The Torah states (Shemot 22): “You shall not oppress any widow or orphan. If you oppress them and they call out to me, I shall surely hear their cry. My anger shall flare and I shall kill you with the sword; your wives shall then be widows and your children orphans.” The Torah explains that Hashem is very concerned about the honor of the downtrodden, namely widows and orphans. The Torah explicitly states the punishment for oppressing them which is imminent death; this sin is indeed too great to bear.

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes (in his commentary on Bereshit 37) quotes a Midrash where our Sages teach us that when the Torah warns us to preserve the honor of widows and orphans, this refers even to a king’s widow. The reason for this is because “their spirits are low and their tears are frequent.” He explains that the reason why Hashem listens to the prayers of widows and orphans because regarding other individuals, when others oppress them, they can turn to their friends for help and support; however, since widows and orphans have no one to save them, they only rely on Hashem and Hashem therefore hears their cry and wages their battles.

The Midrash (see Otzar Ha’Midrashim, page 262) states that our Sages taught that when Moshe Rabbeinu ascended to Mount Sinai, he was shown everything that went on there. He observed the angels singing Hashem’s praises and other amazing scenes. He was then shone wicked individuals who were hanging upside-down and completely inflicted with bitter and harsh punishments from head to toe. These wicked individuals screamed, “Put us to death already!” as the verse states, “They waited for death but it would not come.” Moshe asked the angels, “What did these people do to deserve this?” The angels replied, “These individuals oppressed widows and orphans.”

The reason why it would sometimes seem that the prayers of widows and orphans do not come to fruition is because the Gemara (Shabbat 33a) states that as a result of vulgar speech, harsh decrees and calamities are renewed, the lads of the Jewish nation perish, and widows and orphans cry and are not answered, as the verse states, “Because of this Hashem shall not rejoice upon his lads and shall not pity His orphans and widows; because they are all flatterers and evil and every mouth has spoken obscenities.” Nonetheless, Hashem is trustworthy in that He hears the prayers of widows and orphans above all other prayers. Anyone who oppresses them places himself in clear and present danger.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l was extremely careful to safeguard the honor of widows and orphans and his door was always open for them. Indeed, he fundraised for widows and orphans many times. Once, when he heard about a lonely widow, the wife of a certain great rabbi who had passed away, sent our very own Hagaon Harav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a (author of the Hebrew Halacha Yomit) to bless this widow in his name and to find out how she was doing. When he heard that his granddaughter’s husband was travelling to Netanya, Maran requested of him (of his own volition) to take along one of his newly published books with a personalized dedication to a widow of rabbi who had recently passed away in that city. When Maran heard that the widow was truly glad to receive the book, he was overjoyed and recited the verse, “And I shall gladden the heart of a widow.”

We shall discuss several other details related to this law in the following Halacha.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Holiday of Shavuot- Teachings of Kindness

The Torah introduces the momentous event of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation with the verse (Shemot 19), “On the third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Sinai desert.” Our Sages in the Pesikta ask: Why is it that the Torah w......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by strik......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the perti......

Read Halacha


Reciting Kaddish

Question: What is the significance of reciting Kaddish for a deceased individual? Answer: When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Simil......

Read Halacha

Using an Electric Hotplate (Plata) For Both Meat and Dairy

If one uses an electric hotplate to warm meat pots and the like, it is quite common that some of the meat food inside these pots will sometime fall onto the hotplate thus causing the hotplate to absorb this meat flavor. As such, if one then wishes to place dairy foods onto the hotplate, if one does ......

Read Halacha

An After-Blessing After Drinking Tea or Coffee-An Incident Involving Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l

In the previous Halacha we have discussed the basic laws of reciting an after-blessing after drinking a beverage in that as long as has drunk a Revi’it (approximately 81 cc or 2.8 fluid ounces) of the beverage in one shot (in a continuous manner without interruption between gulps), one recites......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one recite the “Boreh Nefashot Rabbot” blessing after drinking hot tea or coffee?

Answer: We have already discussed on several occasions that after drinking any beverage, one must recite the “Boreh Nefashot” after-blessing. The amount one must drink in order to become obligated to recite this blessing is a Revi’it in one shot, i.e. approximately 81 cc or 2.8 flu......

Read Halacha