Arthur Marcus ztz"l - The Man of Great Chesed

Appeared in the Jewish Press:

Arthur Marcus ztz"l - The Man of Great Chesed

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner,

Rosh Yeshivat Ateret Cohain in the Old City of Yerushalayim

Few people in Eretz Yisrael heard of Arthur Marcus, Avraham Zev ben Moshe Yitzchak ztz"l, despite his great merits.  The reason was not only the fact that he lived in America, but on account of his humility and modesty.
Forty years ago, this man established the Central Fund of Israel, which allowed transferring donations to Israel, and to receive a tax-exemption, which is essential for donors there.  Everything was obviously performed in full accordance with the law.  The donor transfers the donation to the fund, and the money is passed along to a non-profit organization in Israel.
In this way, he transferred close to 20 million dollars a year to 300 non-profit organizations.
He did all of this on his free time, together with his wife, who was with him in this holy work.  He worked tens of hours each week, without receiving a penny for himself, and even paid for the expenses from his own money.  At the beginning, he did not even have an office, but rather did everything from his home.  Much later, he did have an office, which was his private office at work.
He did not distinguish between people, but rather transferred donation to any cause which had an idealistic purpose: humanitarian aid, educational institutions, communal projects, Shuls, Yeshivot, projects to build Eretz Yisrael, medical and security projects.  And he did not distinguish between different parts of our Land.  In his eyes, the Shomron and Tel Aviv and the Negev were all the same.  
This reminds us of the three great wealthy men who displayed self-sacrifice for Israel during a time of distress: Nadimon Ben Gurion, Ben Kalba Savu'a and Ben Tzitzit Ha-Keshet.  Arthur Marcus ztz"l however was not wealthy himself, but nonetheless succeeded in transferring hundreds of millions of dollars.  Regarding such things we say: "The act is greater than the one who performs it".  And this was all done in simple and modest ways.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to this great man, and all of those who faithfully busy themselves with the needs of the community, may Hashem grant them a reward, both them and their families, and may they lay in their resting places in peace, with all of the Tzadikim. 


Forgiving Someone who was Disrespectful to a Rabbi

Question: In the community where I live, there is someone who was disrespectful to the Rabbi, and I can't even talk to him. He does not seem to regret what he did, and I don't think that he will accept my rebuke. Do I have to or am I permitted to forgive him?
Answer: This is not your honor, it is the Torah's honor. We are not obligated to forgive someone who has not requested forgiveness. You are allowed to forgive someone who has done something to you. If you have a good heart, you can forgive him. This is an act of piety. Here, he was not disrespectful to you, he was disrespectful to the Rabbi, and you therefore cannot forgive him in place of the Rabbi. If you are angry with him in your heart, you have to tell him that you are upset for this or that reason. This is like what Rashi says about Yosef's brothers. The Torah says that they could not speak to him peacefully, and Rashi explains that out of their shame, you learn their praise: They did not speak to him one way, but feel differently in their heart (Bereshit 37:4). It is even worse for someone who shames a Torah scholar. There is no cure for his ailment. In the Gemara in Baba Metzia (84b), Rabbi Elezar the son of the Rashbi

died, and they laid him on a slab in the attic for many years. One day, they saw a worm came out of his ear, and they were surprised. He came to them in a dream and said that it was because he once heard a Torah scholar shamed and did not protest. On such things, we need to protest. We need to protest everything which is against the Torah, but this in particular. Shaming a Torah scholar is not only his shame, but the shame of the Torah. Disputes and disagreements are acceptable, but not shaming. It is written in the books that Torah scholars do not want to discuss this subject, because then people will say that they are saying it for their own benefit. Torah scholars therefore do not talk about this, but it is very severe. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (99b) says that a heretic is one who shames a Torah scholar. The Talmud Yerushalmi (Sanhedrin 10:1) compares this to a structure of stones: If one stone is shaken, the entire structure is shaken (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 10:1). That is to say, one who scorns any Torah scholar, knocks over the entire building of the Oral Torah in Israel. The Radvaz (vol. 4 #187) writes that even a Torah scholar who errs should not be shamed. His proof is from the Gemara in Sanhedrin (99a) that a Torah scholar named Rabbi Hillel – not Hillel the Elder – said that the Messiah will not come. Rav Yosef said: May Hashem forgive his sin and he brought proofs. Rav Yosef spoke to him in the third person with honor, and said that he erred and should be forgiven, because the damage done by shaming him would be much worse than the damage done by him saying that the Messiah will not come!

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #339

Preparing Oneself for Difficulties
Q: Is there a proper way to prepare oneself for difficulties which Hashem brings upon a person?
A: The proper way is to always see the good, to see that the majority of one's life and the majority of the world is good (Moreh Nevuchim 3:12), and to know that the difficulties are for the good (Mesilat Yesharim, Chapter 19).

Paying Taxes for Pidyon Ha-Ben
Q: I am a Cohain and received money at a Pidyon Ha-Ben.  Do I have to declare it as income for tax purposes?
A: No.  It is a minimal amount of money, a rare occurrence and is considered a gift (Similarly, Shut Revivot Ephraim 6:389 brings from the Sefer U-Vacharta Ba-Chaim p. 68 that Ha-Rav Chaim Kreiswirth, Av Beit Din of Antwerp, said in his eulogy for Ha-Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky, Rosh Yeshivat Torah Ve-Da'at, that he would pay taxes on the Mishloach Manot he received.  This, however, is an act of piety and not an obligation, since the amount one receives of Mishloach Manot is negligent).

Q: How do we know that the Zionist Rabbis are correct and not the Charedim?
A: This was a major question when the movement to return to Zion began, since there were many opposing factors.  But now that we see the building of Eretz Yisrael, the ingathering of the Exiles, the establishment of the State of Israel, the military victories, the unity of the Nation and the incredible Torah community in Israel, it has become clear.  In Eretz Yisrael there is great physical and spiritual success, while in the Exile there is great physical and spiritual destruction (See Nefesh Ha-Rav pp.87-88).

Language of Maran Ha-Rav Kook
Q: What language did Maran Ha-Rav Kook speak – Yiddish or Hebrew?
A: I believe that he spoke Yiddish to those who did not understand Hebrew.  Otherwise, he spoke Hebrew with an Ashkenazi pronunciation.  See Le-Shelosha Be-Elul.  When Rav Kook was unable to return to Eretz Yisrael during the First World War, he served temporarily as Rabbi in England.  In order to learn English, he read the Soncino translation of the Tanach.  As a result, when he spoke English, people said he spoke like a prophet…  

Texting While Driving
Q: I am riding in a car while my Rav is texting while driving.  Is it permissible for me to point out to him that it is forbidden?
A: Ask him directly.  In fact, 20% of fatal car accidents are a result of texting while driving (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 242:22).

Problematic Book
Q: Is it permissible to read a good book which contains a few problematic parts?
A: It is similar to eating Kosher soup with a few pieces of non-Kosher meat in it.

Crib Death
Q: It is true what they say that crib death is on account of disputes among Am Yisrael?

A: 1. No one knows the secrets of Hashem.  2. Disputes are certainly a bad thing and one should resolve them.

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner's Newest English Book - Rabbenu - Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim
Torah from Zion Project
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Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shlit"a
Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. Rav of Beit El & one of the leading Rabbis of Religious-Zionism today.  One of the most prominent students of Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, who followed directly in the footsteps of his father, Rav Kook.  Author of more than 150 Hebrew books filled with love of Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael & Torat Yisrael, tolerance & love to all Jews, guidance for harmony within the Jewish family, dedication to the State of Israel & Tzahal, and facing the most pressing questions of the day.   
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Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, a special emissary of G-d, was sent to us to teach the Nation of Israel the meaning of rebirth, the meaning of a Nation living independently in its Land, according to its Torah.  He came to remind us of things we had forgotten.
We pray that this volume will allow a small glimpse into the teachings and the Torah personality of this towering figure, whom we call "Rabbenu", our Rabbi.

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Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #338

Blocking Road as a Form of Protest
Q: Is it permissible to block roads as a form of protest?
[There have been a lot of protests recently in Israel by a small group of Charedim called the Peleg Ha-Yerushalami, under the leadership of Ha-Rav Shmuel Auerbach (the son of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman), against the induction of Yeshiva students into Tzahal.  Their protests are blocking traffic all around Israel.] 
A: I have been asked this question many times during periods of expulsions from Yishuvim, like Gush Katif.  It is completely forbidden for 5 reasons, each of which is sufficient on its own:
1. Everything must always be done according to the law. 
2. The protesters are bothering people who did nothing wrong. 
3. Perhaps there is a doctor in one of the cars on the way to help someone, or a person on their way to the hospital.  The protester can get run over.  There is no permission to risk one's life, or the life of another, in order to protest. 
4. The police have to deal with the protesters instead of our enemies!  And the police deal gently with the protesters instead of spraying pepper spray or tear gas or similar things which could easily disperse them.  So even more police are required. And it is forbidden to cause a Jew to use force on a fellow Jew.
5. Nothing is accomplished in the State of Israel by force.  Decisions are made only by Jews talking one another.
In sum: Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah said that public struggle may only be undertaken without violence, without insults and without hatred (Le-Netivot Yisrael Vol. 1 in the article "Et Achai Anochi Mevakesh").

Loving Hashem and My Husband
Q: Who should I love more - Hashem or my husband?
A: Love of Hashem is also revealed through the love of your husband.

Hanging Bread on a Garbage Can
Q: Why do people hang left-over bread in a plastic bag on garbage cans instead of just throwing it out?
A: There is no good reason for doing so, since no one is going to take the bread from there to eat it.  It is forbidden to throw bread away in a disgraceful manner.  Therefore, one should try to buy bread in a reasonable quantity that will then not necessitate having to throw any away.  If there is no choice, then it should be disposed of in a respectful manner, i.e. by wrapping it in two plastic bags and placing it in the garbage.  See Piskei Teshuvot 171:3.  In the contrary, the Gemara in Pesachim (111:2) says that one should not hang bread, especially here, since it is in a disgraceful manner (See Kaf Ha-Chaim 180:14.  Maor Ha-Shabbat Volume 2, Penini Ha-Maor 30:4 in the name of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach).

Q: Is swordfish Kosher?
A: It is a dispute.  The question arises since its scales fall off.  Although the Knesset Ha-Gedolah permits it, it is unclear whether he is discussing the same fish which we call "sword fish" today.  There are others who also permit it (Shut Shevet Me-Yehudah Volume 2 5:118.  Divrei Ha-Rav p. 192 in the name of Ha-Rav Soloveitchik), but the majority of Poskim forbid it (see Shut Tzitz Eliezer 9:40).

Second Marriage
Q: The Gemara in Sotah (2a) says that 40 days before a fetus is formed, a voice from Heaven announces the daughter of "this" person will marry "this" man (i.e. each person has a Beshert, a soul-mate).  If so, how does a widower get married a second time?
A: He marries a woman who is not his Beshert (and he is not hers), but with whom he can still build a household.  As it says: "G-d makes the solitary dwell in a house" (Tehillim 68:7.  Ramchal).

Tefillin After Accepting Early Shabbat
Q: If someone accepts Shabbat early and then realizes that he did not put on Tefillin on Friday, can he put them on before sundown begins?
A: Yes.  There are certain actions which our Sages allowed during twilight, and all the more so if he accepted Shabbat early, and all the more so for Tefillin.

Permanent Make-Up
Q: It is permissible for a woman to have permanent make-up?
A: It is permissible if it is to hide an aesthetic blemish, such as a scar, sparse hair or lack of eyebrows, since it is not actually permanent but rather only for a few years.  If, however, it is to add beauty, it is forbidden.  Taharat Ha-Bayit of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef Volume 3 pp. 29-34.

Blessing over Birkat Ha-Mazon
Q: Why isn't there a blessing over Birkat Ha-Mazon, which is a Torah Mitzvah, "And you should eat, be satisfied and bless" (Devarim 8:10)?

A: We do not recite a blessing over a blessing (Ha-Gaon Rabbi Yaakov Mi-Lisa, author of Chavot Da'at, in his commentary on the Haggadah.  Likutei Shoshanim pp. 13-15).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #337

Eye Color
Q: Are the color of one's eyes connected to his soul?
A: No.

Marriage Between People with the Same Name
Q: Is it permissible for a man and woman with the same first name to be married?
A: Yes (This is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Neiman, who served as Av Beit Din of the Machzikei Ha-Dat of Belz in Montreal.  He states that although he had not heard such a ruling before, we should not add strictures that are not mentioned in Tzava'at Rebbe Yehudah Ha-Chasid.  Shut Agurah Be-Ohalecha Volume 3, Even Ha-Ezer #2).

Fashion Designer
Q: [Question from a woman]: I am a fashion designer for women's evening wear.  Is it permissible?  Are there limitations?
A: It is permissible on condition that the clothing is modest.

University Paper
Q: Is it permissible for me to write a university paper for someone else?
A: Ask the professor directly.

Translating the Kaddish
Q: Why don't we translate the Kaddish into Hebrew?
A: Because a translation cannot be precise.  In many Siddurim, however, there is a translation of the Kaddish, so that a person can quickly understand the Aramaic words of this prayer. 

Difficulty in Learning
Q: It is difficult for me to learn Gemara.  Is there hope for me?
A: Certainly.  It was also difficult for Ha-Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spector to learn.  And also Maharam Shick.  And also Rabbi Akiva.

Passing Kiddush to My Mother or My Wife
Q: If I am eating a Shabbat meal with my mother and my wife, to whom should I first pass the Kiddush?  If I first give it to my wife, my mother will be insulted, and visa-versa.
A: The question is not formulated correctly.  You and your wife are one, and should decide together what to do (See the answers of Gedolei Yisrael on this question in Shut Ha-Shoel #37).

Shirt with the Verse "Hashem is the King"
Q: Is it permissible to wear a shirt which has the verse "Hashem is the King" printed on it?
A: 1. It must be covered when one enters the restroom.  2. Gedolei Yisrael and G-d-fearing Jews throughout the generations did not write verses of their clothing but upon their hearts and their actions.

Torah Classes on Cell Phone
Q: If one listens to Torah classes on his cell phone, computer or MP3, does he fulfill the obligation to set fix times for learning Torah?
A: Yes.  It is obviously preferable to learn from a Rabbi face-to-face.  

Divrei Torah at Meals
Q: On the one hand, the Gemara Ta'anit (5b) says not to speak during meals because there is a fear of choking on the food, while on the other hand, Pirkei Avot (3:3) says that a meal without Divrei Torah is like eating the sacrifices of the dead.  Isn't this a contradiction?

A: It means that one should not talk during the actually eating, but it is a Mitzvah to say Divrei Torah between the eating.  Mishnah Berurah (170:1-2). 

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #336

Q: Is it permissible to work for a website which involves casino gambling?
A: No.  1. Gambling is forbidden.  2. It is taking advantage of poor people and people who are addicted to gambling.

Time of Zecher Le-Churban
Q: Baruch Hashem, we built in a house in the community of Neriya!  When does one have to make the Zecher Le-Churban (part of the wall left undone as a remembrance of the destruction of the Beit Ha-Mikdash) when moving into a new house?
A: One is certainly obligated to make a Zecher Le-Churban.  The Halachah however does not say that it is forbidden to live in a house which does not have a Zecher Le-Churban, although the person is lacking the fulfillment of a Positive Mitzvah.  Regarding a Mezuzah, there is an opinion in the Rishonim that it is permissible to live in a house without a Mezuzah, but the basic Halachah is that it is forbidden to do so.  This is not the case, however, for a Zecher Le-Churban.  But obviously, we have a general principle: "The diligent fulfill Mitzvot as early as possible" (Zerizim Makdimim Le-Mitzvot). 

Musical Instruments during Davening
Q: Is it permissible to play instruments during Hallel?
A: It is forbidden on account of "Chukat Ha-Goyim - following the non-Jewish practices" (Shut Chatam Yoreh Deah #84-96, Choshen Mishpat #192.  Kaf Ha-Chaim, Orach Chaim 151:19.  Shut Minchat Yitzchak 5:96).

Jewish Star
Q: We were told that one should place a Jewish star (Magen David) in his house as protection.  Is this true?
A: No.  There is no source in Judaism for the Jewish star, though it is obviously a beloved symbol.

Mashiach's Kippa
Q: What type of Kippa will the Mashiach wear: knit, black velvet, etc.?
A: We do not know what will happen in times of Mashiach until they happen.  Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 12:2.

Demographic Problem in Yesha
Q: What does one answer to those who claim that we should leave Yesha on account of the Arab population's higher birthrate than that of the Jewish population?
A: 1. It is a Mitzvah to settle of the entire Land of Israel and Hashem already thought of this issue when He commanded us to do so.  2. If we were originally concerned about this issue, we would not have established the State of Israel.  3. It is a lie.  The birthrate among Arabs in Yesha is 2.8 children per family and is decreasing, while the Jewish birthrate is 5.1 children per family and is increasing.  It is true that 20 years ago the birthrate in Yesha was 6.0 for Arabs and 2.5 for Jews.  Baruch Hashem, the Mitzvah of "Be fruitful and multiply" is being fulfilled by us.  

Hashem is the King
Q: There is a sticker which says "Hashem is the King".  Is this a proper way to publicize the Kingship of Hashem?
A: 1. Throughout the generations, our great Rabbis did not use this method.  2. Faith is deep and not a sticker.  By the way, one must cover such a sticker when one enters a bathroom.

Bringing the Torah to People to Kiss
Q: Is it permissible to bring the Sefer Torah in the Shul towards people who want to kiss it?
A: No.  This is a disgrace to the Sefer Torah.  They should approach the Sefer Torah.  Piskei Teshuvot 134:6.

Q: Will Anti-Semitism ever end?
A: The Rambam explains in Igeret Teiman that the reason for Anti-Semitism is opposition to the word of Hashem.  Therefore, when humanity is in love with Hashem, Anti-Semitism will cease.

Talit Switching
Q: I accidentally switched my Talit with my friend's, and have been unable to get in touch with him.  It is permissible for me to use his Talit?
A: Yes.  Since he will also use yours.  Piskei Teshuvot 14:11.

Questions in Emunah
Q: If someone has questions in Emunah, does this mean that his faith is somehow lacking?

A: No.  His faith is simple, which is a very high level of faith.  If he has questions, however, he should learn books having to do with Emunah.  See Midot Re'eiyah, Emunah #18.