[This week's Haveil Havalim is here]
While we wait for post-Yom Tov "Derashah Reviews"...
As we have discussed, I keep a hard and fast rule: I don't answer halachic questions that require anything more than "See this note in the Mishneh Berurah/Aruch haShulchan", referring them instead to the Rabbi of whichever shul is involved. I have a few reasons for this, including respect for the shul Rav, necessity for consistency in communal psak, and a feeling that psak should be rendered by the one who is responsible for communal needs and fallout.
Nonetheless, I am sometimes the first stop on the way to the Rabbi of the shul. Here are some of the interesting questions I was involved with over Yom Tov; some of them may come up for you, too:
• May I braid challah on Yom Tov?
This is actually more complex than it may sound. On the one hand, acts from kneading and onward in the bread-making process are permitted on Yom Tov. On the other hand, the reason we don't braid dough is because it is "construction", and construction is prohibited on Yom Tov. Indeed, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach is cited in Shemiras Shabbos k'Hilchasah, Chapter 11 foonote 43 as opposing the practice, although he does offer a potential halachic justification.
• Why do we recite Shehechiyanu on shofar on the second day of Yom Tov, but not on lulav for the second day of Succos?
For shofar we recite Shechiyanu, but the reason is not clear (indeed, the tokeia may wear an appropriate new garment in order to remove doubt regarding the Shehechiyanu). For lulav, though, I see less reason to recite Shehechiyanu. One could argue that we must recite Shehechiyanu for shofar, since the only way we should blow shofar is if it's Day 1. For lulav, though, we pick up the lulav even for days 2-7.
• If the kitchen sink stops up on the first night of a three-day Yom Tov, may we plunge it?
If there is a great need, one may use a plunger for a sink, ideally in an unusual way. See Shemirat Shabbat k'Hilchatah Chapter 12, footnote 50, for more on this.
• May one change the orientation of a ceiling light in shul, to aid davening?
The answer seems to be Yes; we generally permit moving a lamp altogether on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
• We say (see Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 2:36) that one should not interrupt between the berachah on the shofar and the end of the blasts blown in the repetition of the Amidah. What if one interrupted after the first 30?
It seems that there is nothing to do at this point. The reason to be silent through the second set of 30 is in order to tie the berachos of the repetition of the amidah to the shofar blowing; if that doesn't happen, one certainly doesn't daven musaf a second time.
• What melachah has one performed, if one cuts a worm in half (without moving it) on Shabbos or Yom Tov, and both halves of the worm live?
Okay, this one is weird, fine. It was my own, sparked when I saw someone step on a worm in a park on Yom Tov. It's interesting, though:
One is not guilty of netilas neshamah, taking a life, since the worm lives.
One may help an animal give birth on Shabbos, but one may not physically pull the young out (Shabbos 128b); what is the status of the cutting action?
Should we contend that this is an act of tearing for a constructive purpose, if it is done intentionally?
One didn't move a muktzeh entity.
Would it bleed? But even if so, would the blood be coming from inside the flesh, or from a cavity? (mifkad pakid vs chiburei michbar, in Kesuvos-speak)
Is one guilty of molid, creating something new, as in creation of a spark or investment of scent in a garment?
Dunno. Ask the Rabbi.