Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #325

Law of Return
Q: I heard a story from the Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav David Lau, that a Jewish grandfather who lived outside of Israel enabled 78 non-Jews - his wife, children and grandchild - to make Aliyah, receive grants for absorption, reduction in buying a house, etc., under the Law of Return.  The Chief Rabbi therefore said that we must change the Law of Return.  Is he correct?
A: The Chief Rabbi does not require my approval, but of course he is correct.

Not Tasty Food from One's Wife
Q: If my wife occasionally cooks food that does not taste good, should I eat it without saying anything or tell her and not eat it?
A: Eat it.  Nothing bad will happen to you.  And thank your wife for it.  In general, thank Hashem that you have a wife and food.

How Much for Etrog Mehudar
Q: How much money should a person add in order to buy an Etrog Mehudar?
A: Another third of the cost.  More than this amount depends on one's ability.  Furthermore, it is possible that other Mitzvot take precedence over buying an Etrog Mehudar, such as Tzedakah or kindness to your wife and children (An Avrech, a married Yeshiva student, who very particular about observing Mitzvot, bought an Etrog Mehudar for $300 and to came to Ha-Rav Shmuel Ha-Levi Vozner, author of Shut Shevet Ha-Levi, to ask him about the Etrog.  Rav Vozner knew the Avrech, who was a true Ben Torah who had very little money, and asked him: Did you already buy clothing and jewelry for your wife for the holiday?  The Avrech answered that he does not have enough money to buy clothing and jewelry.  Rav Vozner said to him: It is preferable that you use the $300 to buy your wife a present for the holiday and purchase an inexpensive Etrog.  In the book "Ve-Lo Shevet Ha-Levi Bilvad, p. 200). 

Filming a Terrorist Attack with a Smartphone
Q: Is it permissible to film a terrorist attack in order to show the world that the Arabs are attacking us and we are only protecting ourselves?  After all, based on the story of Pilegesh Ba-Geva (Shoftim, Chapter 19-21), Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein permits someone to bring organs to a rally against organ donation to shock people, since hearing is not the same as seeing (Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:150).
A: It is preferable not to publicize it.  In our time it weakens the resolve of the Nation. When the terrorists see our pain, they are strengthened, as it is written in the lament of King David: "Do not relate it in Gat…lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice" (Shmuel 2 1:20).  It is only permissible when it can aid the police.
Q: In a case where it is permissible, would it be permissible also on Shabbat?
A: It is permissible, since it helps in our war against terrorism, whether in the short term or the long term, enabling us to capture and punish terrorists.  And filming is a Rabbinic prohibition.

Child Who Found Money
Q: My son found 50 shekels in school.  What should he do?
A: Ask his teacher what to do.
Q: Can I trust the teacher?
A: You trust him with your son's education for an entire year and you're not sure you can trust him with 50 shekels?!

Tefillin and Desecrating Shabbat
Q: My friend is leaving Israel on Shabbat and asked if he should take his Tefillin with him?
A: No.  It is performing a Mitzvah through a transgression.

Knit Kipa
Q: What is the source for a Knit Kipa?

A: There is no source and it has no importance.  During the course of the generations, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of head coverings.  The essence is that one's head is covered, i.e. really covered.

Shu"t Trump - Q&A Regarding President Trump & His Daughter, Ivanka

Q: First of all, is Ha-Rav happy that the Americans chose Trump to be the President of the United States?  On one hand, he seems to be more Pro-Israel than Hillary Clinton, but, on the other hand, he is unknown, and we say in Halachah: When there is a known and an unknown, the known is preferable.
A: There are two answers:
1. This question recalls that when Golda Meir became Prime Minister, a student asked Ha-Rav Joseph Soloveitchik: Is it permissible to appoint a woman to such a position? After all, the Rambam (Hilchot Melachim 1:5) brings the Halachah of the Sifri, that we learn from the verse (Devarim 17:15) "You shall surely set a king over you" – a king and not a queen. Ha-Rav Soloveitchik immediately answered: And appointing Ben Gurion was not a question? Although he was not a woman, he was not religious, and it was forbidden to appoint him as well (see Shut Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:45). The answer is that they did not ask us, and the responsibility of these appointments is therefore not incumbent upon us (Nefesh Ha-Rav, pp. 90-91).
The Americans did not ask me who was best for them.
2. We don't know.  Politics is a not math and it is difficult to predict the future.  There are too many factors at play to know if President Trump will be good for us or not.
Q: Some say that Trump is the Mashiach since "Donald Trump" is the same numerlcal value in Hebrew letters (424) as "Mashiach ben David"?
A: Nonsense.  Ha-Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, Rav of Tzefat, already pointed out that 424 is also the same Gematria as "Chatzi Mana Felafel" (a Half-Portion of Felafel)…
Q: It is known that Trump's daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism, and there was a storm over her conversion, which was performed by Ha-Rav Haskel Lookstein.  Is she Jewish?
A: It is impossible to express an opinion regarding such a serious matter of whether or not one is Jewish, based on hearsay.  Regarding the issue, we have not heard that there are questions about Rav Lookstein's conversions.  The two Chief Rabbis, Ha-Rav David Lau and Ha-Rav Yitzchak Yosef already expressed their opinions that there is no issue with his conversions.  Who then are we to ask questions?!  Furthermore, we were told that a Beit Din of the RCA converted her, Rav Lookstein was the one who sponsored her.  I have met with Rav Lookstein many times.  He is an Orthodox Rabbi. He is modern and open, but he is Orthodox.  He is also a man of integrity, with proper character traits and a heart of gold, who has done much good for the Jews of America.  He is also humble, modest and flees from honor.
Q: Then she is Jewish?
A: Yes.  I heard that she openly proclaims that she observes Shabbat and Kashrut.  If only this was the state of all Jews in America.
Q: It doesn't seem like she covers her hair.  Does she wear a wig?
A: I don't know.  It is forbidden to stare at a woman.
Q: I heard that at Trump's Inauguration, a Rabbi permitted Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner to violate Shabbat by being driven by a non-Jew because of Pikuach Nefesh?
A: If it was based on a Rabbi's ruling, then it is violating Shabbat with permission.  I am not an expert in the details but understand, however, that they consult with an Orthodox Rabbi, since they are indeed in a complex situation.  After all, her husband is one of the senior advisors to the President.  The Rabbi instructed them on what to do.  In general, one should choose a Rabbi and ask him what to do in difficult situations.  This is in fulfillment of the dictum: "Get yourself a Rav" (Pirkei Avot 1:6, 16).  By the way, some people say that when Trump's son-in-law is observing Shabbat, the President loses control and begins Tweeting all sorts of things.  This is how people are, if they observe Shabbat, people criticize them and if they violate Shabbat (with permission), people criticize them.  People should stop sticking their noses in their business.
Q: But I also heard that they entered a Church during the Inauguration?
A: See above.  This recalls the words of Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein: "The Rabbi from Minsk should not interfere in a question for the Rabbi from Pinsk".  Reb Moshe did not interfere with matters relating to Eretz Yisrael, and a Rabbi in Israel should not interfere with questions in America (Meged Givot Olam Volume 1, p. 55.  Volume 2, pp. 31-32).  Similarly, when Ha-Rav Aharon Lichtenstein would be asked questions relating to America, he would say: Ask the Rabbis of America (We heard this in the eulogy of Ha-Rav Mordechai Willig, one of the Roshei Yeshiva of Yeshiva University, for Ha-Rav Lichtenstein).
Q: But it once happened that when Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef was serving as a Rav in Egypt, a non-Jewish diplomat died and he was brought into a Church for a service.  He was asked to represent the community and enter on account of "Darkei Shalom - keeping the peace".  But he refused (Shut Yabia Omer Volume 2 Yoreh Deah #11)?
A: One who questions them suspects the innocent (Choshed Ba-Kesherim) and disrespects the Rav whom they ask.
Q: Is Ivanka, as a convert, required to honor her biological father, President Trump, since a convert is like a new-born baby?
A: Yes, just as a non-Jew would honor his parents (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 241:9. See Shut Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:130 and Shut Yechaveh Da'at 6:60).
Q: Trump was therefore required to honor his father?
A: Correct.  It is related in the Gemara Kiddushin (31a) that Dama ben Netina, who was a non-Jew, honored his father and did not wake him up even though he could have made a lot of money doing so.  In merit, a Parah Adumah was born in his herd.  The Sefardic Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav Yitzchak Yosef, said: Just as Trump honored his father, he therefore merited what he merited… (In the Parashat Sheet 'Beit Maran' #103).
Q: In sum?

A: Trump has said that he wants to focus on America and what is good for the American People.  We hope that he adopts the Monroe Doctrine of President James Monroe, i.e. America decides for America.  They should decide what is best for them, and we hope that they leave us to choose what is best for us and not try to dictate what we should do.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #324

Tzadik the Son of a Wicked Person
Q: Rashi says that Yitzchak's prayer was accepted over Rivka's because he was a Tzadik the son of a Tzadik while she was a Tzadik the daughter of a wicked person.  But isn't someone who does Teshuvah and comes close to Hashem at a higher level?
A: The Mussar Rabbis explain that the way of a child is to rebel against his parents and to be different from them.  Therefore, being a Tzadik the son of a Tzadik requires great sacrifice.

Too Much Salary
Q: I accidentally received too much salary for a long period of time and didn't realize.  My employer is now asking me to return the money, but I already spent it.  What is the Halachah in this case?
A: You have to return it, but can do so in increments, according to your ability.

Shidduch for an Elite Combat Soldier in Tzahal
Q: I am a soldier in an elite combat unit, which goes on dangerous missions, and we were required to sign a confidentiality agreement.  If I go on a Shidduch, it is permissible for me to tell the young woman what I do?
A: It is forbidden.  You should tell her that you are in a combat unit that sees a lot of action.  One must relate one's severe defects on Shidduchim.  Yevamot 45a.  Kehilot Yaakov of the Steipler ibid. #44.  This is not considered a sever defect, but rather a minor "defect", as well as a great merit (This is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Major Shraga Natan Dahan, head of the Halachah Department of Tzahal, given in a class on the subject).

Torah Secrets
Q: Ha-Rav once said that all of the Kabbalist secrets are hinted at in the Gemara.  What is the source for this idea?
A: Rashba in his commentary to Agadot Chazal, Berachot 6a.  Shelah, Ma'amar Torah She-Be-Al Pe, Kavod Elohim, Hester Davar.  And in other places.

How Do We Kow the Calculations of Hashem
Q: I have experienced many disasters and don't understand why.  What transgressions did I do?
A: We do not know the calculations of Hashem.  Do not search for transgressions to explain your misfortunes.  We also do not know the calculations of Hashem for all of the goodness He performs for us, even if we did not merit them (So too, whenever a tragedy occurred, Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein would always say that it was a decree from Hashem and never ascribe it to a particular transgression, since we cannot fathom the ways of Hashem.  In the book "Meged Givot Olam" with additions Volume 2, pp. 87-88).

Organ Donation by a Cohain
Q: Regarding a Cohain who signs an Organ Donor card: doesn't this create a problem for his close relatives who are Cohanim, as they will become impure by coming to the funeral and cemetery, since he is missing an organ?
A: It is permissible since it is an inner organ and not recognizable.  Shut Igrot Moshe (Yoreh Deah 1:251. 2:165).  Shut Tzitz Eliezer (9:48).  Yalkut Yosef (7:30 #3).

Segulah Against Danger
Q: I have to go to a place where there are many Arabs and I am scared.  Is there a Segulah against danger?

A: There is a Segulah of the Admor of Radzin, the Ba'al Techelet: To carry a pistol, or to be escorted by guards (When the Admor of Radzin was searching for the Techelet for Tzitzit, he visited many different areas in Italy, including the basements of non-Jews, in order to try to find a remnant of the Bigdei Kehuna.  People asked him: You aren't scared to go into such places?  He said: I have a Segulah from my grandfather.  He did not however want to say what it was.  His Shamash later revealed it: He carried a small pistol in his pocket…).


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Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Volume 1
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Short &Sweet - Text Message Q&A #323

Illegal Building
Q: Is it permissible to build houses illegally in Israel?  What is of higher value: the settling of Eretz Yisrael or the law of the State of Israel?
A: We do not perform a Mitzvah through a transgression.

Israeli Embassy Outside of Israel
Q: What is the halachic status of an Israeli embassy in a foreign country?
A: According to international law, it is considered the territory of the State of Israel, but according to the Halachah, it is foreign soil.  And the opposite it also correct: a foreign embassy in Eretz Yisrael is Eretz Yisrael.

Blessings by Rabbis
Q: Which is preferable – going to Rabbis to receive blessings or going to Shul to receive Birkat Cohanim?
A: Birkat Cohanim, since it is not a blessing from Cohanim but a blessing from Hashem (And Ha-Rav Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman expressed surprise that people travel great distances to receive a blessing from a Rabbi instead of running to Shul to receive Birkat Cohanim.  Be-Orchotecha Lamdeni p. 38). 

Informing Others of the Police on Waze
Q: Is it permissible on Waze to inform others that there is a police trap?
A: It is certainly permissible since it immediately causes people to drive in a more cautious manner in that area, and this is what the police are interested in.

Electric Hand Dryer
Q: If one washes Netilat Yadayim before a meal, is it permissible to dry his hands with an electric hand dryer and then recite the blessing?
A: Yes, just as one may dry his hand in the sun.  Pri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav #13.  This ruling is also found in Shut Revivot Efraim 2:68 #4 and Sha'arim Metuyanim Ba-Halachah, Kuntres Acharon 40:5).

Sefer Torah which Fell
Q: When we opened the Aron Ha-Kodesh, the Sefer Torah fell out.  We then fasted.  How else do we do Teshuvah?
A: Maran Ha-Rav Kook said in Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah (Volume 1, Igeret #10) that you should make sure that the Torah is secure in the Aron Ha-Kodesh so the Sefer Torah does not fall (Similarly, a 4-year old child once fell out of a window and a miracle occurred and she only had minor injuries.  The parents asked Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach what they should do as a "Tikun" (spiritual repair) to repent for the occurrence.  He said: Put bars on your windows!  Another time, a father was drinking a hot drink while holding a child, and it slipped on the child and she was badly burnt.  The parents asked Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman what they should do as a "Tikun".  He answered: Do not drink hot drinks while holding a child!  In the book "Ve-Alehu Lo Yibol" Volume 3, pp. 163-164).    

Tzedakah of a Child
Q: If my parents give me spending money, do I need to give Maaser?
A: Only if they agree.

Eretz Yisrael Vomiting Out Sinners
Q: When the Torah writes that Eretz Yisrael vomits out sinners (Vayikra 18:25, 28), does it refer to individuals or only to Klal Yisrael?
A: It also refers to individuals.  And if they appear as sinners and are nonetheless not vomited out, it is a sign that inside they are good.  Chesed Le-Avraham (Ma'ayan Shelishi, Ein Ha-Aretz, Nahar 12).  And see Sefer Orot p. 84 (And see at length in Shut Eretz Yisrael pp. 270-277).

Switching the Parochet
Q: Someone donated a Parochet for the Aron Ha-Kodesh in Shul. Is it permissible to take down the old one and put up the new one?

A: Yes, since a donor knows that one day someone will donate a new Parochet.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #322

24 Spies
Q: Is there an opinion that there were 24 spies that went to Eretz Yisrael and not 12?
A: Yes.  Rabbi Akiva in the Talmud Yerushalmi, quoted in the Tosafot on Sotah 34b: each spy and his assistant.

Anger
Q: Is anger a transgression or a bad character trait?
A: A transgression, but one can do Teshuvah.  See Mesilat Yesharim, Chapter 11.

Learning Torah and Working
Q: Which is preferable – learning Torah all day or working and learning a little Torah every day?
A: We need both types of people in Am Yisrael.  Each person according to his soul.  The way of the majority is to work and set times to learn Torah each day.  The way of the minority is to learn all day.  Berachot 35b.

The Height of a Shul
Q: Why aren't we particular today to follow the Halachah that a Shul is supposed to be the tallest building in a city (Shulchan Aruch 150:2)?
A: The Magen Avraham (ibid.) already asks this question.  A few different answers are given.  For example, the tallest buildings today are not for beauty but for housing people, whereas Shuls are built in a beautiful fashion.  See Piskei Teshuvot 150:7 (It is told in the name of the Chazon Ish that the city of Bnei Brak is saved from attacks by the fact that the Ponevitch and Slabodka Yeshivot are the tallest buildings in the city.  In the book "Ratzon Tzadik" it is related in the name of the Satmar Rebbe that when they built the main Shul/Beit Midrash in Kiryas Yoel in New York, they asked him if the main Shul needs to be the tallest building in the city.  The elderly Chasidim told him that it was difficult for them to walk up the hill and would refrain from coming to the Shul/Beit Midrash.  The Satmar Rebbe sent the question to Ha-Rav Getzel Berkowitz, the Dayan of Kiryas Yoel and author of Shut Elgei Devash.  He answered that the Yavetz writes in his book "Mor U-Ketziah" that one should be lenient since it is impossible for everyone to ascend to the top of the mountain.  This is also the opinion of the Chida in Machazik Beracha.  Furthermore, the Meiri holds that if the city's tall houses and towers were not built to display authority there is no need to be particular that the Shul be on the top of the mountain.  Rather, the Shul should be the largest building in the city.  Based on these sources, the Satmar Rebbe ruled that the Shul/Beit Midrash be built elsewhere and that it be the largest building in the city.  Also brought in the book "Be-Didi Hevei Uvda" p. 546).        

Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim for Fish
Q: Does the prohibition of "Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim" (causing pain to animals) apply to fish?
A: Yes.  Shut Mishneh Halachot 6:216).

Rabin's Murder
Q: My friends were arguing whether it was permissible to murder Yitzchak Rabin.  What is Ha-Rav's opinion?
A: It says in the 10 Commandments: Do not murder!  Our Sages discuss whether it is proper to recite the 10 Commandments every day and they concluded that one should refrain from doing so (Berachot 12a).  But in your case, it is a good idea.

Tachanun on One's Birthday
Q: Should one refrain from reciting Tachanun on his birthday since it is a happy day?
A: It should be recited.  One's birthday should be a day of Teshuvah.

Volunteering in Tzahal
Q: I am exempt from having to serve in Tzahal and am learning in Yeshiva.  Should I volunteer to serve?

A: Certainly.  It is a Mitzvah which cannot be performed by other (Moed Katan 9a-b).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #321

Davening on an Airplane
Q:  Is it permissible to Daven with a Minyan on an airplane, or should each person Daven on their own in order not to disturb others?
A: It is permissible to Daven with a Minyan on condition that one coordinates it with the head of the airplane crew (Many Poskim write that it is forbidden to Daven with a Minyan if it disturbs others.  Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach [Halichot Shlomo p. 95.  Shut She'eirit Yosef of Ha-Rav Shlomo Wahrman 7:3], Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein [Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:20] and Ha-Rav Ovadiah would Daven on his own and not together with a group so as not to disturb others, for fear of robbing another person's sleep. [Halachic Guide for the Passengers of El Al 9:1].  However, when Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg was asked about Davening with a Minyan on an airplane, he said one should, adding that he does it all the time.  While strictly speaking it might be permitted to pray at your seat, Rav Scheinberg prefers that one pray with a Minyan, but quietly in a way that doesn't disturb others).
Q: If I Daven in my seat, am I obligated to wear a Talit?  It is difficult to wrap it.
A: Yes, you are obligated to wear it.  Be careful, however, not to smack other passengers with your Tzitzit when putting it on.
Q: If I am Davening on my own, is it preferable to Daven Shemoneh Esrei while sitting or standing?
A: Standing, under three conditions: 1. It does not ruin your concentration.  2. Your eyes are not facing something which is immodest.  3. The "Fasten Your Seat Belt" sign is not on.
Q: If one is in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei and the "Fasten Your Seat Belt" sign lights up what should one do?

A: He should sit down and continue to Daven the Shemoneh Esrei in his seat. This is based on two reasons: 1. It is a case of a life-threatening situation. 2. Walking in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei without speaking is not considered an interruption. For example, if one is Davening the Shemoneh Esrei and a child is bothering him and he cannot concentrate, he can move to another place. Or if he is Davening by heart on Rosh Chodesh and cannot remember "Ya'ale Ve-Yavo," he can go and get a Siddur. Speaking is forbidden, but there is no problem of moving if there is a need (see Mishneh Berurah 104:2.  Piskei Teshuvot ibid. Shut Be'er Moshe 3:13.  Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein answers similarly since if one does not obey, there is a fear of perform a Mitzvah through a transgression and as a result, one does not fulfill his obligation.  Furthermore, it causes contempt for the Torah as well as a desecaration of Hashem's name.  The booklet of El Al regarding Halachot of air travel).