How is it possible that UNESCO Denies our Connection to the Temple Mount and the Kotel?

Question: How is it possible that UNESCO ratified a resolution that there is no Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and the Kotel?  Why do the Nations of the World Deny our Connection to Yerushalayim?

Answer: In the year 5690, Ha-Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Ve-Da'at in Brooklyn, said: The leaders of the nations of the world are discussing to whom the Kotel belongs – to the Jews or to the Arabs.  This is shocking!  We have an entire tradition in the Torah, Gemara and Midrashim relating to the Temple Mount and the Kotel: The Akedah took place there, Yaakov Avinu slept and had his dream there, King David bought the land for full price, etc…, while  the Muslim have a "story" that Mohamed visited there and tied his horse to the Kotel.  How is it possible that all of our rights are denied based on a story?!  Rav Kamenetzky answered that it is measure-for-measure.  Since we ourselves are in doubt about the traditions of the Tanach and our Sages, Hashem shows us that even the nations of the world, the majority of whom believe in the Tanach, err in what even a nursery school child knows.  Divine Providence clearly shows us this fact (Emet Le-Yaakov on Pirkei Avot p. 136 #131). 

Laws of Dwelling in a Sukkah

1. During all seven days of Sukkot (eight days outside of Israel), one's house should serve as his temporary dwelling and his Sukkah as his permanent dwelling. He should eat, drink, sleep and live in the Sukkah, day and night, just as he does the rest of the year in his house (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 639:1).
2. There is an obligation to sleep in the Sukkah, even for a nap. The law of sleeping in the Sukkah – for men – has a greater foundation in Halachah than does eating in the Sukkah. The basic halachah is that except for the first night (and the second night outside of Israel), there is no obligation to eat in the Sukkah unless one is eating foods made from flour such as bread, cakes or noodles. In contrast, there is an obligation to sleep in the Sukkah, even for a nap. Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, would remind his students of the importance of sleeping in the Sukkah. When he was in Switzerland in the cold and snow, he would not forgo even one night of sleeping in the Sukkah (Sefer Rabbenu - on the Life of Ha-Rav Zvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, p. 187).
3. Because of the great holiness of the Sukkah, it is proper to limit non-holy discussions and speak words of holiness and Torah in the Sukkah, and all the more so one must be cautious to refrain from speaking Lashon Ha-Ra (Mishnah Berurah ibid. #2).
4. At the beginning of the Laws of the Sukkah, the Bach explains that there are three Mitzvot which one does not fulfill in the proper manner if he does not elucidate the reason for performing them. They are: Tzitzit, Tefillin and Sukkah. During Sukkot, Maran Ha-Rav Kook would mention this idea and explain at the length the reason for dwelling in the Sukkah (Siddur Olat Re'eiyah vol. 1, p. 11 in the notes of our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah). 

Eating in the Sukkah:
5. The order of Kiddush on the first night is: The blessing on the wine, the Kiddush, the blessing of "Leshev Ba-Sukkah" and Shehechiyanu. On the second night outside of Israel, Shehechiyanu is recited before the blessing of "Leshev Ba-Sukkah" since the Shehechiyanu applies to the holiday and not the fulfillment on the mitzvah of dwelling in the Sukkot which was performed the previous night for the first time (ibid. 661:1 and in the Rama and Mishnah Berurah #1). 
6. On the first night of the holiday (and the second night outside of Israel), one must eat an olive-size piece of bread in the Sukkah, just as one must eat an olive-size piece of Matzah on the first night of Pesach. And similar to eating Matzah, one should not eat on Erev Sukkot from noon onward in order to approach eating in the Sukkah with an appetite, one should not eat on the first night until it is definitely night-time and one should eat the bread before midnight (ibid. 639:3 and in the Rama).
7. It is forbidden to eat more than an egg-size piece of bread or foods made from flour such as cookies, cakes or noodles outside of the Sukkah. But if one eats meat, fruit or vegetables there is no obligation to eat in the Sukkah. One who glorifies the mitzvah to eat even snacks (not containing flour) in the Sukkah is praiseworthy (ibid. 2).

Those Exempt from Dwelling in the Sukkah:
8. Women and children are exempt from the Sukkah. A boy who reaches the age of education is obligated in the mitzvah of Sukkah so he can be educated about the Mitzvot (ibid. 640:1).
9. One who is distressed is exempt from the Sukkah whether he is sick, too cold or too hot, bothered by the wind, flies, bees or mosquitoes, etc. as long as the Sukkah was not constructed in a place where there would certainly be a hardship. Therefore, if it is raining to the extent that the rain would spoil a cooked dish – even if you do not currently have such a dish there – one may go into his house. This applies to all days of Sukkot, but on the first night (and on the second night outside of Israel) one is required to eat an olive-size piece of bread in the Sukkah even if it is raining (ibid. 639:5 and in the Rama). If it is raining on the first night (and on the second night outside of Israel), some authorities say that it is proper to wait until midnight to see if the rain will cease. Others explain that one should wait an hour or two in order not to impinge on the joy of the holiday (Mishnah Berurah ibid, #35). If the rain does not stop, one should recite Kiddush, eat an olive-size piece of bread in the Sukkah without the blessing of "Leshev Ba-Sukkah" and eat in his house. If the rain stops during the meal, he should go out to the Sukkah and finish it there (Shulchan Aruch and Rama ibid. and Mishnah Berurah #36).
During the remaining days of Sukkot, if one is eating in the Sukkah, and it begins raining so that he goes inside his house to eat, he may remain inside until the end of the meal, even if it stops raining (ibid. 6). If one is sleeping in the Sukkah, he need not wait until the extent that the rain would spoil a cooked dish in order to go inside his house since even a little rain is distressing when sleeping (ibid. 7 in the Rama). If he went to sleep at night in the house due to rain, he may remain in the house until the morning (ibid. 7).
10. It is permissible to take trips on Chol Ha-Moed Sukkot, and to sleep and eat outside the Sukkah, if a Sukkah cannot be easily found. One who is strict not to lose out on the mitzvah of Sukkah even once is praiseworthy (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:238 and 2:149).

Prayers in the Sukkah:
11. There is a custom to welcome in each night one of the seven spiritual guests called "Ushpizin." According to Ashkenazic tradition, the order of the Ushpizin is: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon and David. According to Nusach Sefard, the order is: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and David.

12. When departing from the Sukkah at the end of Sukkot, some say: May we merit to dwell in the Sukkah of the Leviathan" (ibid. 667:1 in the Rama). And the Aderet – Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Eliyahu David Rabinowitz Te'omim – the Rav of Jerusalem and Maran Ha-Rav Kook's father-in-law, would say: May we also merit in the coming year, may it be good for us, to fulfill the mitzvot of Sukkah and the Four Species, the rejoicing on Holiday and all of its parts according their proper halachic prescriptions, and fulfill all of the Mitzvot from now until next year, may it be good to us and all Israel, amen (Tefillat David, p. 110 and Nefesh David, p. 197, 211).

Rav Aviner And New IDF Regulations Vis-à-vis Kol Isha 

Expressing Immense Gratitude to President Shimon Peres z"l

Expressing Immense Gratitude to President Shimon Peres z"l

We are joyous that we have a State, that we have a President and that we are not enslaved by the non-Jews.  Our former President, Shimon Peres z"l, was not the Mashiach, and did not pretend to be the Mashiach, but we are extremely grateful that we have a State and that he served as our President.
In the face of criticism regarding his conduct in various areas - and who is the person on Earth who is free from criticism? - we must remember the important, essential things which he accomplished.  One of the greatest merits of Shimon Peres z"l, of which many are unaware due to censorship, is the nuclear strength of the State of Israel.
If we search the internet in Hebrew, we will not find a word about this.  But if we search in other languages, we find that the State of Israel has hundreds of Jericho 2 missiles with nuclear warheads with a range of 700 kilometers, and hundreds of Jericho 3 missles with a range of 11,500 kilometers.  This information is not censored when it is written in a foreign language.
Before the Six-Day War, we armed missiles with nuclear warheads.  And during the Yom Kippur War, when our ammunition was depleted, we again armed the missiles.  These were truly weapons of Judgement Day in its simplest meaning.  Baruch Hashem, we did not need to use them, but they served as a serious deterent.  Until this very day, our enemies are deterred by them.  And all of this strength is in the merit of Shimon Peres.  Because he was a socialist, he had connections with his socialist comrades in France, and little-by-little, both officially and unofficially, he facilitated our acquisition of nuclear weapons.  Peres z"l did all of this modestly and humbly.  We are therefore obligated to express immense gratitude to our former President.
One can certainly take issue with his policies and other conducts, which I will not detail. Such criticism is legitimate, and has its place.  But it is forbidden to confuse the essential with matters of secondary importance.  We therefore express our gratitude to President Peres.
"Who is the man who desires life, who loves days to see goodness?  Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully" (Tehillim 34:13-14).  I do not know if the former President was particular about every Halachah in the book "Chafetz Chaim", but it is clear to me that he respected every person and guarded his tongue.

We owe this man a great deal, and we bless him: May his soul be bound up with the bonds of the living.

Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv Ha-Cohain Ha-Gadol ztz"l

[Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv, Ha-Rav Shlomo Min Ha-Har and Rav Aviner]

A great Talmid Chacham, Ha-Rav Eliyahu Yosef Shear Yashuv Cohain has ascended on high.  He is the third Cohain Ha-Gadol, after his father, the Nazir – Ha-Rav David Cohain and after Maran Ha-Rav Kook, who also ascended on high on the 3rd of Elul.
He himself merited learning Torah from Maran Ha-Rav Kook as a child, and spent much time in his home.  He was 7 years old when Rav Kook passed away.  We, the lowly, are unable to understand the level of a person who merited to meet Maran Ha-Rav Kook and to be perfumed by his holiness.
He also merited learning much from Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, hours upon hours of private conversations.
Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv was a great and loyal student of his Rabbis, and connected deeply to the great vision of the "revival of the Nation in its Land according to its Torah".
His father decided that he would also be a Nazir from the time of his birth, but allowed him to cease being a Nazir when he so desired.  When Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv turned 16, he decided to cut his hair but continued to refrain from drinking wine.  He also had additional customs, such as refraining from meat and fish, and only wearing canvas shoes, until he was wounded during the War of Independence.
And here we turn from the Torah learner, the Shakdan, to the soldier.  He was among the members of the underground group "Brit Chashmonaim" who fought against the British rule, and was among the founders of the "Fighting Yeshiva": 8 hours of Torah learning, 8 hours of guard duty and 8 hours for one's physical needs.
Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv related that during the War of Independence there was a major dispute between Rabbis – including within Yeshivat Mercaz Ha-Rav – about whether Yeshiva students should be drafted into the military.  The students followed the path of our Rabbi and the Nazir and were active in the Haganah, Etzel and Lechi.  During the waiting period, after the UN votes and before the end of the British Mandate, Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv would learn in the Yeshiva.  One day he left the Yeshiva and saw a broadside with the huge title that Maran Ha-Rav Kook opposed drafting Yeshiva students into the army. It included harsh quotes from one of Rav Kook's letters regarding this issue.  He was unsure what to do and was deep in thought when he bumped into our Rabbi.  Our Rabbi immediately noted his distress and said: "Shear Yashuv, what happened? Why are you so upset and pale?"  He told him what he had seen and pointed to the broadside.  Our Rabbi roared over and over: "This is a distortion!  This is a total distortion!"
After he calmed down, he explained that these quotes were taken from a letter of Maran Ha-Rav Kook to Rav Dr. Hertz, Chief Rabbi of England, regarding being drafted into the British army, which the latter presented to the government.  Yeshiva students who arrived in London from Russia and Poland as refugees of World War One and were learning Torah were left off the list of those exempt from military service (for example, priests, who were exempted).  Maran Ha-Rav Kook admonished him, and said that this has nothing to do with the war for Jerusalem (Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah vol. 3, letter #810). Rav Shear Yashuv encouraged and helped our Rabbi to publish a booklet clarifying this issue (see Le-Hilchot Tzibur #1).
During the difficult battle for the Old City in Jerusalem, the Jewish community was defeated and Rav Shear Yashuv, who was badly wounded on his leg, was taken into Jordanian captivity along with other surviving fighters.  He thus did not merit seeing the publication of the booklet he initiated.  After approximately eight months and the establishment of the State, Rav Shear Yashuv was released and taken to Zichron Yaakov for rehabilitation.  Within a day, at a time when buses were rare, our Rabbi appeared outside his window.  He entered the room, hugged and kissed him and burst out crying.  He removed a small booklet from his pocket and gave it to him.  It was the first booklet printed, and was dedicated to Rav Shear Yashuv (The booklet was printed in Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 1 #23).  
When Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv was serving as a Rabbi in the Army, he came to his own wedding in Yerushalayim dressed in his Tzahal officers' uniform. Some people from the Yishuv Ha-Yashan did not look upon this positively.  Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah was surprised by their reactions, "Wearing the clothing of a Russian nobleman - this is appropriate?! But wearing the uniform of Tzeva Haganah Le-Yisrael - the Israel Defense Force - this is not appropriate?!" (Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Eretz Yisrael p. 268.  Tal Chermon – Moadim, p. 135).
Rav Shear Yashuv was an accomplished person.  It is difficult to believe how much he did, and with such calmness and love: he was the head of Torah institutions, earned a law degree, was a researcher of Mishpat Ivri, an assistant mayor of Yerushalayim, and much more.
And finally, he became the Chief Rabbi of the Holy City of Haifa.  In this position, it pained him that Ashkenazim in the Galil and Northern Israel did not recite Birkat Cohanim every day.  He wrote a Teshuvah to reestablish this practice (see Shai Cohain #1).
When I served in Kibbutz Lavi in the Lower Galil, I asked him about this practice.  I obviously was not brazen enough to make such an important change, I therefore said that in addition Shabbat, we should also Duchan on days on which we recite Musaf.  Later, when I served in Moshav Keshet in the Golan, I instituted Duchaning everyday according to his path, since it was a new place.
Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv was once invited as an honored guest to Kibbutz Lavi, and he was gracious enough to visit my home.  When he saw that I was wearing a simple shirt and pants like all of the other Kibbutznikim, while he was wearing a long coat and hat, he looked at me, and said humbly while rubbing his clothing: "These are my uniform", i.e. I shouldn't suspect that he was craving any honor.
And he was a truly humble person.  He loved everyone from every stream and everyone loved him.  This is how he always was, beginning in Jordanian captivity and ending in the Holy City of "Red" Haifa, as people once called it on account of its lack of Torah.
He was a man of Torah and peace.  He was truly a student of Aharon Ha-Cohain, as the Mishnah described: loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to Torah" (Avot 1:12).

May his soul be bound up with the bonds of the living with all of the Tzadikim.

Tisha Be-Av which Falls on Motzaei Shabbat

1. Beginning of the Fast
The fast as well as the other prohibitions begin from sundown – not nightfall (i.e. when 3 stars come out), even though it is still Shabbat (Mishnah Berurah 552:24).

2. Seudah Mafseket
It is permissible to eat meat and drink wine and have a festive meal like King Shlomo (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 552:10).  And one does not eat an egg dripped in ashes as in a regular year.  There are Poskim who say that one should nonetheless eat the meal in a sorrowful manner without joy, and without company, while other authorities permit acting as on all other Shabbatot, so there is no public mourning on Shabbat (Mishnah Berurah #24).  One must be careful, however, to complete the meal before sunset (Mishnah Berurah ibid.).

3. Removing Shoes
The Rama (Orach Chaim 553:2) rules that on Tisha Be-Av which falls on Motzaei Shabbat, we remove our shoes after Barechu of Maariv, since it is forbidden to display any signs of mourning on Shabbat (Mishnah Berurah #6).  The Rama adds, however, that the Shaliach Tzibur removes his shoes before Barechu, after reciting "Baruch Ha-Mavdil Bein Kodesh Le-Chol" (Mishnah Berurah Ibid. #7).  The Mishnah Berurah (Ibid.) explains that he does so in order not to become confused if he has to remove them after Barechu.
There are however various problems which arise with this:
a. One who brings his Tisha Be-Av shoes to Shul on Shabbat violates preparing on Shabbat for a weekday.
b. When one removes his shoes and puts on his Tisha Be-Av shoes, he must be careful not to touch them, or he will be required to wash Netilat Yadayim.
c. Everyone changing shoes impinges upon proper intention while Davening.
d. If everyone changes their shoes (even if they brought them to Shul before Shabbat), the Shul will be filled with shoes, which disgraces the holiness of the Shul.
It is therefore preferable to act in the following manner: After nightfall (3 stars coming out), before one leaves his house, each person says "Baruch Ha-Mavdil Bein Kodesh Le-Chol" and puts on his Tisha Be-Av shoes (and see Shut Yechaveh Daat 5:38).  In order to do so, Maariv should be delayed 15 minutes.  If one is unable to act in this manner, he should put on his Tisha Be-Av shoes at home on Shabbat and walk to Shul in them so he is not preparing on Shabbat for a weekday, since he is using them on Shabbat itself.  Even though this seems to contradict the concept of not displaying signs of mourning on Shabbat, our Sages allow one to wear regular shoes on Tisha Be-Av if one is traveling or if one lives among non-Jews and he fears being mocked (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 554:17), and the same leniency applies for the honor of Shabbat and he may wear his Tisha Be-Av shoes on Shabbat.

4. Kinot
One who brings a Kinot book to Shul on Shabbat should learn a little from it so that he does not prepare on Shabbat for a weekday.

5. Havdalah
After Maariv, before reciting Kinot, we recite only the blessing over seeing a candle (and not the verses before Havdalah or the Berachot over wine and spices).  If one does not recite the blessing then, he should do so later that night upon seeing a candle or light.  A woman should also recite this blessing if she stays at home and her husband does not return until later.  On Motzaei Tisha Be-Av (Sunday night), we recite Havdalah only over wine, without a candle and spices (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim #556).  We also do not recite the verses before Havdalah.     

6. Eating   
When Tisha Be-Av is postponed until Sunday – those who are ill, nursing or pregnant fast as long as it is not difficult for them.  If it is difficult for them, it is permissible for them to eat.  There is no need to eat "Shiurim" (minimum quantities), but one should eat simple foods.
Anyone who eats should first recite Havdalah over grape juice.

7. Motzaei Tisha Be-Av when Tisha Be-Av is Postponed
After the fast, it is forbidden to eat meat and drink wine.  It is permissible to drink wine during Havdalah.  It is permissible to do laundry and get a haircut and shave.  All of the other Halachot of the Three Weeks no longer apply (Halichot Shlomo of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Chapter 15, Dvar Halachah #26.  Unlike the ruling of Ha-Rav Yechiel Michal Tukachinsky in Luach Eretz Yisrael).  In the morning, all of the prohibitions of the Three Weeks are lifted.

May Hashem continue the return of His Presence to Zion, and may the Beit Ha-Mikdash be built speedily in our days. 

In Honor of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim – the Next Chief Rabbi of Tzahal

Our Yeshiva, Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim, received very exciting news this week that Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim, who learned in our Yeshiva and was head of our Pre-Military Academy, has been appointed to be the next Chief Rabbi of Tzahal!
Although our Yeshiva is not an "Army Yeshiva", but rather a Yeshiva where we solely learn Torah, we are extremely proud since Ha-Rav Krim will be the second Chief Rabbi of our Yeshiva.  The first being Ha-Rav Avichai Ronski, who served as a Ra"m in our Yeshiva.
Rav Krim, along with serving as an officer in elite combat units and serving as head of the Halachah Department of Tzahal, has also published 6 volumes of Teshuvot relating to military related questions entitled "Kishrei Milchama".
In his honor, here are some Teshuvot of Rav Aviner which quote Rav Krim's rulings:

Using a Untensil without Immersion in a Mikveh
Q: I am a soldier.  I have a new pot and am unable to immerse it in a Mikveh.  Is it permissible to use it one time without immersion?
A: No.  It is permissible to use disposal utensils without immersion (if they are used more than 3 times, many Poskim require their immersion), but a permanent utensil may not be used even once without immersion.  In a pressing situation, it is permissible to give the pot as a gift to a non-Jew and then borrow it from him (since the utensil of a non-Jew does not require immersion).  Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 120:16.
Q: And what if there is no non-Jew?
A: Call a military Rabbi, or the 24-hour phone line for soldiers of the Military Rabbinate 052-941-4414.  They will sell the utensil to a non-Jew, or in a pressing situation, they will permit it based on the opinion that it is permissible since it is not the soldier's utensil (Kishrei Milchama of Ha-Rav Colonel 3:58).

Ambush on Shabbat
Q: If a soldier goes out of an ambush on Shabbat or returns from an ambush on Shabbat, is it permissible for him to take personal items with him?
A: It is permissible to take food which will contribute to his alertness.  There is a dispute regarding non-essential items.  The Chafetz Chaim is lenient in his book "Machane Yisrael" (see Ke-Chitzin Be-Yad of Ha-Rav Avichai Ronski, former Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, Volume 2 pp. 36-37.  And Kishrei Milchama of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim, head of the Halachah Department of Tzahal, Volume 4 pp. 86-90).

Writing during a Life-Threatening Situation on Shabbat
Q: If one is obligated to write on Shabbat during a life-threatening situation, in the case of a doctor or soldier, is it preferable to use a pen or computer?
A: Computer, since writing with a pen or pencil is a Torah prohibition while writing on a computer, which involves electricity, is a Rabbinic prohibition (see Kishrei Milchama of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim 3:41).

Soldiers in Protective Edge Eating Meat During the Nine Day
Q: Is it permissible for combat soldiers fighting in Gaza to eat meat during the Nine Days?
A: In general, it is forbidden for Ashkenazim to eat meat from 1 Av (Mishnah Berurah 551:58) and for Sefardim from 2 Av (Kaf Ha-Chaim ibid. #125).  A soldier in Tzahal, however, is not defined as Ashkenazi or Sefardi but as a soldier, and it is permissible for a combat soldier to eat meat if it is needed to give him strength.  And this is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim, head of the Halachah Department of Tzahal (Kishrei Milchama 3:56).  And the Military Rabbinate also ruled this way.
Q: Can non-combat soldiers eat meat?

A: There is a Chiddush of Maran Ha-Rav.  It once happened that there were two restaurants for workers, one Kosher and one not Kosher, and many of the non-religious Jewish workers ate in the Kosher restaurant.  During the Nine Days, however, meat was not served in the Kosher restaurant, and the workers who wanted to eat meat would eat in the non-Kosher restaurant.  The Rabbi, who was responsible from the Poalei Mizrachi, asked Maran Ha-Rav Kook: Is it permissible to serve meat in the Kosher restaurant so that the non-religious Jews would not eat the Treif meat?  Rav Kook said that it is permissible since it is a Mitzvah to save Jews from eating Treif.  Any such meal is therefore considered a Seudat Mitzvah at which one may eat meat during the Nine Days, and even you - the Rabbi - would be allowed to eat meat there (Moadei Ha-Re'eiyah pp. 539-542)!  One could say, based on this, that a meal during which a combat soldier eats meat in order to give him strength to wage war is considered a Seudat Mitzvah, and at a Seudat Mitzvah even a non-combat soldier would be permitted to eat meat.  If Rav Kook had given such a ruling, we would certainly accept it, but he did not.  So the non-combat soldiers must still refrain from eating meat.