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Shalom aleichem Rabbi Lauffer. Thank you for answering my last question. I came across something in the Artscroll Shmuel Aleph that might have a bearing on a question Rabbi Lauffer answered for me a couple years ago, but I'm not sure if it does or not. I asked Rabbi Lauffer "Is one allowed to do a coin flip in order to determine the result of a sports competition that he is betting on, or is this prohibited because of what the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 179:1) writes that “One should not inquire from stargazers and not through lotteries" and Rabbi Lauffer graciously answered me saying, "Personally, I think that it is forbidden. The Sages teach that it is sometimes permissible to do certain actions that are comparable to stargazing and the like but only when there is some kind of a connection between the "omen" and the thing that it is being done for." The note in the Artscroll Shmuel p. 243 writes "According to Radak, omens are prohibited only if they reflect commonly accepted superstitious belief. However, a person is permitted to devise a sign to aid him in making a decision. Thus, the Talmud's citation of Jonathan does not mean to state that his action was impermissible. On the contrary, the Talmud's use of Jonathan's incident is to teach that it is appropriate to rely only on an omen that has been clearly stipulated in advance. A disquieting incident that has not been specified in advance only appears like a bad omen, and should be given no credence. Rema assumes that Radak's interpretation of the verse is coincident with the opinion of Raavad [and in opposition to that of Rambam], and Rema cites these two valid opinions regarding the use of omens (Yoreh Deah 179:4)." According to this Rema cited in the Artscroll, would doing a weighted coin flip on a calculator be permitted to decide the winner of a sports contest that one is betting on, or would it be forbidden as Rabbi Lauffer paskens. Thanks a lot.
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Dear Rabbi: Unfortunately my wife (Yael bat Channah) is now already nearly a year in hospitals and Rehab Nursing Homes. She has many times been unconscious, not aware of what was going on, but thank G-d her health has improved and she understands now most of the things, that happen around her. At home I continued always to candle the lights for Shabbos and Chanuka, even when she couldn't. If I bring her electric Shabbos candles and an electric Menora, can she say the bracha over the light kindling? Real fire is not allowed in the Hospital or Nursing Home. Too dangerous.
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I’m curious about what a certain phrase means. What does “patar mitzvos” mean? You see, I am Jewish, not so knowledgeable about religion, but I work with an Orthodox woman who just got married Sunday. I was invited to the wedding. It was not the first Orthodox wedding I have been to, but it was the first with separate seating for men and women at the reception. But there was one man sitting in the women’s section who actually had a place-card there. And he was at my table, together with his mother. He was in his early 20s and his mother told me he was autistic, but he didn’t appear visibly handicapped. He actually seemed very smart and gregarious and he liked me a lot. In fact I liked him so much, if I were closer to his age, I’d be interested in marrying him. But I’m 52 and divorced with a grown son and I obviously couldn’t marry him. The wedding was a very worthwhile experience. His mother was a very nice lady, around my age, and I feel I found a new friend in her. Unlike most guests there, who were dressed formally, she was wearing a plaid top and jean skirt. This made me feel comfortable around her, as I wasn’t so well dressed up myself in a turtleneck and khaki skirt. And she just seemed so relaxed and not overbearing. I exchanged contact info with her, and we plan to get together more in the future when we have more time. She, like me, is a divorcee, close to my age. I asked her out of curiosity why her son was sitting in the women’s section. She said he was “patar mitzvos” and he wanted badly to be with his mother, and my co-worker’s parents honored this request. What does that term mean? And I am curious why that would allow him to sit with the women.

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How can God command us to “love your neighbor”? It is not realistic to expect us to feel love on demand.

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Shalom aleichem Rabbi Lauffer. From Mishnah Berurah 656:8, it is clear that the same procedure used for ma'aser kesafim is used for spending money on mitzvos in general. Quoting the MB there: "See the Magen Avraham and Elyah Rabbah that just like for the purpose of charity the tithe is taken from the principal in the first year, when it has been earned, and from then on from the profit which derives from it, this is also so with respect to what is discussed here." Given that the same rule of a 20% limit applies to both ma’aser kesafim and mitzvah expenses in general, if a person does the mitzvah of ma’aser kesafim min hamuvchar, which is 20%, would he be exempt from expending money to do any other mitzvah? Or when they say that one doesn’t have to spend more than 20% of his income on mitzvos, is it only talking about the income that remains after giving 20% for ma’aser kesafim? Thanks a lot.

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Hello. What do rishonim and even Chazal say about the halachic matter of kapara without the activity of the Kohen Gadol in the Beis Hamikdash on Yom Kippur? I am aware of the general concept of prayers replacing sacrifices, but specifically, what is the effect of not having the kapara through the avoda of the Kohen Gadol? Do we have anything in the Oral Law that indicates the alternative (as we do in the matter of the calendar through cheshbon instead of testimony)? Thank you.
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Shalom aleichem Rabbi Lauffer. Thank you for answering my last question. It is brought down in halacha (Orach Chaim 656) that a person is not obligated to spend more than 20% of his money on performing a positive mitzvah. Is the 20% calculated according to his total bank account, or is it calculated like ma'aser kesafim is, according to his yearly income. For example, if a certain mitzvah would cost more than 20% of the man's income for that year, but it would be less than 20% of his total bank account that he has saved up from forever, would he still be obligated to perform that mitzvah? Thanks a lot.