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By: Rabbi Daniel D. Levy




Practically all halachic authorities agree that, prior to eating ice cream on a cone, a shehakolshould be recited. This is the case regardless of the topping, which is “tafel”– insignificant. The bigger question is if, when eating the cone, which is usually made from wheat, an additional blessing of mezonotis recited. Hacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul, zt”l, (Or Letzion Vol. 2 Ch.4 Q20) is of the opinion that no additional berachahis recited, as the cone, (especially a wafer cone), and the toppings are insignificant compared to the ice cream. Though if one chooses a sugar cone and desires to eat it to enjoy the flavor, some would say a separate mezonotshould be recited on the cone. On an ice cream sandwich, one should make mezonot. If one ounce is consumed within 4-6 minutes an al hamichyahis recited.



           Why is there no berachah recited
           after drinking a slush or a Slurpee?  

Since these items are consumed as drink, rather than food and people don’t usually drink at least 3-4 ounces of them within keday(about) 20 seconds, since the drink is freezing, no berachah acharonahis recited (Or Letzion-Vol. 2Ch -14 Q18). The same would hold true for why no berachahis recited after drinking hot cocoa, tea, or coffee but for the reverse reason – that the drink is too hot to consume so quickly. It’s true that some people do leave at least 3-4 ounces of coffee to cool off so they can drink it at room temperature. If this is the case and the coffee has been drunk within 20 seconds a berachah acharonahof boreh nefashotis recited.



           Are we permitted to kill ants,  mosquitos,
           and other bugs on a weekday?

According to halacha, one is permitted to kill bugs on a weekday (not Shabbat) only when there is a need to do so –for example, when they are being really bothersome to you. According to kabbalah, though, it is advisable never to kill bugs – which are Hashem’s creations – unless it’s a life threatening situation.

Please note that the laws of killing bugs and insects on Shabbat (which in general is forbidden) are far more complex and beyond the scope of this article.



           If one goes swimming in a pool or
           on a beach, must he recite a new
           blessing on his tzizit (talit katan)
           after redressing?  

Once a person is “masiach daat” – which means he is no longer conscious about the fact that he is not wearing tzizit– a new berachahis required. Some commentaries are of the opinion that a half an hour would need to have elapsed between his forgetting, while othersmaintain an hour’s time would necessitate a new berachahof al mitzvat tzizit.




           May one spray Raid on Shabbat in any
           given vacant area to prevent bugs
           from coming there?

To spray Raid directly on the bugs is forbidden on Shabbat, as the direct hit will cause them to die. Spraying Raid in an area where the bugs might potentially go may indirectly cause them to die. This scenario is called a “gerama,” which is still prohibited by many commentaries. However, some do allow it since, if the spray dries up, the smell may keep away the bugs but not have the potential to kill them.



           If one travels to Niagara Falls or the
           Grand Canyon is there a special
           blessing to recite?

Some authorities maintain that a blessing of “oseh maaseh bereshit” with Shem Umalchut(Hashem our Gd) is recited when seeing places of nature within the span of thirty days. This is because special sights like these enhance our appreciation of Hashem’s glorious creations. (Shulhan Aruch O. C. 228:1-3) One can always say a berachahwithout Shem Umalchutto praise Hashem, if he chooses to follow the other commentaries who don’t allow a full blessing with Shem Umalchutin this situation.




           Is it customary for one who  hears
           thunder and sees lightening to recite
           a special blessing?  

The prevailing custom among Syrians is not to recite a berachahwith Hashem’s special name. Many other communities do recite  berachot. They say “shekocho ugevurato maleh olam” which means His power and might fill the world” upon hearing thunder, and “oseh maaseh bereshit” meaning “Gd created the wonders of the world” upon seeing lightening. If both happen simultaneously, usually only shekochois recited.



           How should one go about crushing
           a five or ten-pound bag of ice to serve
           with drinks on Shabbat?

Crushing large pieces of ice into smaller ones is not problematic in and of itself. The issue really arises when one’s action of crushing ice causes it to change form and melt from a solid into a liquid. Therefore, one should be sure to only crush it into smaller chunks and then put the cubes into a bowl. The drink and the ice should remain separate; one should pour the liquid into the cup first and then place the ice cubes into the drink, not vice versa, as pouring liquid on the ice would actively melt it, which is prohibited.




           Is one obligated to shut a
           preprogrammed sprinkler system
           before Shabbat to prevent the
           watering of grass or plants
           on Shabbat?

No, since the sprinkler system has been preprogrammed, there is no active action of melachah(work) being done on Shabbat when it turns on that day. However, it is commendable to preset the timer not to water the grass or plants on Shabbat.  If watering the grass on Shabbat is necessary, though, it’s best to have the sprinkler system go on in the early morning when little to no people are around to avoid even the slightest perceived degradation of Shabbat.




            Is one obligated to recite havdallah
            the next day for children who went to
            sleep before dark on Saturday night?

If the child has not yet reached the age of hinuch(being educated) there is no need for them to hear havdallahat all. However, if the child is ten or eleven years old and normally stays up for havdallah but went to bed early, it is recommended to assist the child in making havdallahfor themselves
Sunday morning.

Whenever havdallahis recited after Saturday night, only the blessings of hagefenon the wine and hamavdilbein kodesh lhol are recited. The blessings on the besamimand havdallahcandle are omitted.