Throughout the years there were numerous enactments and loopholes made by Rabbis in order to benefit the community at large. Some were widely accepted, and other weren’t. Here are a list of top 10 personal ones.
1. Monogamy – One Wife Only
Set up by R’ Gershom over 1,000 years ago, this enactment became popularized among Jews and non-Jews. He apparently was looking out for the best interest of the men as patriarch life can be so stressful. Case in point: Yaakov who had four wives was short-tempered with the love of his life, Rachel when she cried about not bearing more children. Gd bless, he had three other wives and many children to worry about as well as tending the flocks of his swindling father-in-law/boss.
While it’s technically a “custom,” it’s enough that if an Ashkenazi Jewish male breaks it (as well as some Sephardim) he gets banned.
Nothing like a technicality. A Jewish married woman must cover her hair, though there’s no specification on what it is. Apparently human hair – from another woman – can be worn according to many circles since the principle of “Ervah” (nakedness) in the hair is a spiritual one. For the record many Sephardim and some Chassidic groups do not permit human hair Sheitels since it does the exact opposite of making the woman appear modest – it makes her look more attractive.
What’s also shocking is how most non-Jews don’t know how much real human hair is, which proved to be a turning point in an infamous court case on People’s Court a few years ago.
3. Chicken as Meat
2,000 years ago chicken and all fowl wasn’t “meat” and was mixed with milk. R’ Yosi HaGlili was a big proponent of sticking to this rule, stating that an animal that doesn’t produce milk – e.g. a bird – can’t be placed in the category of “cooking a kid in it’s mother’s milk.” The mainstream Rabbis won this one as it serves as a safeguard since ground meat and ground fowl look and smell very similar, among other things.
Want to carry on Shabbos? No problem. Only Jews can come up with a loophole consisting of two poles and a string.
5. Kli Shlishi
Need to cook something on Shabbos without actually “cooking?” No problem, a Kli Shlishi (a third vessel which the hot liquid is poured in) would work. This especially goes with tea, according to R’ Moshe Feinstein ZT”L, since the maximum temperature of “Yad Soledes bo” (the temperature point where one pulls ones hand out of water saying “ouch)” is 113F, which apparently is less than/equal that temperature when boiling hot water reaches a third cup.
We also must note that the same R’ Feinstein once was in a 1950’s style taxi cab (heavy doors) when a door closed on his hand and he didn’t make a peep, suggesting his tolerance for pain in general was very high (as well as not wanting to embarrass the cab driver). He also (respectfully) wasn’t a scientist. Just saying.
6. Shabbos Key Belts and Tie Clips
Need to carry a key without “carrying?” No problem. Wear the key as an ornament on your belt or as a tie clip. Talk about a “loophole!”
7. Siyum Party for Fast of the Firstborn Erev Pesach
If a Jew is a firstborn son on Passover Eve, he technically is required to fast. That doesn’t apply if he attends a “Siyum,” where one usually completes a tractate of Talmud Bavli followed by a small party of cake, cookies and even schnapps.
8. Sefira Acapella
If you absolutely cannot go without music for 33/49 days you can always listen to Acapella, where no “instruments” are being played.
While past custom/Halacha forbade any music whatsoever as long as the Beis Hamikdash is destroyed, this has been lifted in light of Yeridas HaDoros.
Over here, every 7 years you do not lose debts owed to you vis-a-vis Shmitta through this manner. All you need is three guys and you’re set. The corollary here is Yovel (every 50 years) where all debts are cleared and slaves are freed.
10. Shlugging Kaparos
Nothing like saying that a “chicken died for your sins.” Next thing you know the Jewish religious symbol will consist of a chicken with it’s head underneath a Chalaf (a special ritual slaughtering knife that, when sharpened to the point of absolute smoothness, causes the kosher animal virtually no pain)!