Whisky Festival

Dear Rabbi Simon, Rabbi, I hope you don’t mind me asking you some interesting whisky-related questions. A year from now is the annual Feis Ile whisky festival in the faraway Scottish island of Islay. I’m planning a milestone birthday trip with some friends. We will have to be there over Shabbat for it to work. A couple of practical questions:…

Making Havdalah on Beer

Dear Rabbi Simon, I just made havdalah but on 0.5 % volume beer. It is also advertised as alcohol free beer. Is this valid? Do I need to make havdalah again? Many thanks, Berel Dear Berel I am not sure if beer-drinkers consider the alcohol-free version to be completely authentic, however the distinction can be overlooked WRT חמר מדינה status.…

Using a Hotplate on Shabbat

Dear Rabbi Simon, We have begun to use a hotplate (food warmer, sometimes known by its Hebrew name platta) for hot food on Shabbat. Can you please advise how to use it in a halakhically acceptable way. Also using it with an electric time switch (colloquially know as a Shabbos clock). Thanks Philip Dear Phil Classically, a Shabbat hotplate is…

Long Friday Nights in Scandinavia

Dear Rabbi Simon I have a question for you from the and sun-deprived north. In my city, Shabbos comes in as early as 14:30 (surreal, I know…). Friday evening prayers are at 17:30 (Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv; no Mincha). Can I make Kiddush and eat cake, babka, or kichel and herring, for example, or even bread/challah (lechem mishneh) before going…

Does Alexa Observe Shabbat?

Dear Rabbi Simon I am teaching a Year 7 class about the festival of Shabbat. A question was asked relating to the use of Alexa. Can Alexa be used during this period to play music? Thank you Colin Dear Colin Thank you for your interesting and practical question. The consensus view is that use of voice-activated electronic devices like Alexa should…

Pop Top Shabbat (Opening Cans on Shabbat)

Dear Rabbi Simon What is your view of opening metal beverage cans (beer, soft drinks) on Shabbat? Sara Dear Sara I don’t do it, and we use only bottles of beer at Kesher, not cans, for this reason. However, there are posekim who allow this. Indeed, one can see beverage cans at some fine Shabbos tables. For those who are…

Amusement Park on Shabbat

Dear Rabbi Simon Can one go to an amusement park on shabbat if they already paid for the ticket and are walking back and forth to the park? Thanks Sara Dear Sara, As a matter of principle, it is difficult to approve of attending an amusement park on Shabbat, as doing so is not in the keeping of the spirit…

Electric Shabbat Candles

Dear Rabbi Simon You recently mentioned that in times of need, eg hotel/hospitals etc, one can fulfil the mitzvah of nerot Shabbat (Shabbos candles) by making the berachah on electric lights. Can this be used at home where a person misses candle lighting time and therefore can’t strike a match – say a person oversleeps or forgets etc, can she…

May I recite Havdalah on Grapes?

Dear Rabbi Simon I was looking at the sugar content of the grape juice I used to say Havdalah and was wondering if there is a healthier alternative.  I am reluctant to use wine as I drive after Shabbat.  If I can say Havdalah on grape juice, why can’t I say it on grapes? Similar question for Kiddush and Seder…

Questions & Answers
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Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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