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.

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).

Shehechiyanu on F-35 Stealth Fighter Jets

Question: With Hashem's kindnesses, the State of Israel received F-35 Stealth Fighter jets.  Should the blessing of Shehechiyanu be recited, or is it not recited because the fighter plane is a weapon of war?  If it should be recited, who recites the blessing?
Answer: War indeed causes distress, but for now we are obligated to wage war.  The Rambam calls one of the books in the Mishneh Torah Hilchot Melachim U-Milchamot - Laws of Kings and Wars.  The censored edition calls this book "Laws of Kings and Their Wars", as if the Nation of Israel only waged wars in the past but no longer does so.  This is not true.  There is no free nation without war.  To our great distress, we therefore must wage war, but we can take pride in the power of the deterrence of Tzahal.  How fortunate are we to have merited these planes!
Regarding which blessing to recite: the blessing of "Shehechiyanu" is recited over an object acquired by one person, while the blessing of "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv" is recited over an object acquired for the benefit of more than one person: Hashem is good to me and does good for others )Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 223:2).  In this case, the Stealth Fighter jets are obviously for the benefit of the entire Nation of Israel!
Many years ago, I wrote a long Teshuvah that one should recite such a blessing over the acquisition of a pistol (in this case "Shehechiyanu".  See Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:87).  This is true all the more for the F-35 jets!
There were Gedolei Yisrael who disagreed with my Teshuvah on the pistol for various reasons, including that it is a weapon of destruction.  These included the former Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, Ha-Rav Brigadier General Avi Ronski, Ha-Rav Dov Lior, Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef and Ha-Rav David Cohen, Ra"m in our Yeshiva (brought in the book "Ke-Chitzim Be-Yad Gibor Vol. 1, pp. 131-133).  Perhaps the four Rabbis who disagreed with me regarding the blessing over a pistol would agree, however, regarding a fighter plane.  In any event, I discussed this issue with the current Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, Ha-Rav Brigadier General Ayal Krim, and he agrees that the blessing of "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv" should be recited over the fighter jets.  And as the Torah says: And come to the Chief Rabbi of Tzahal who will be in your days (play on the verse "Come to the judge who will be in your days" - Devarim 17:9), and the Chief Rabbi of Tzahal is the halachic authority of the army. 
The blessing should be recited by the head of the Israeli Air Force.

And we can add (somewhat in jest) that if the head of the Air Force wants to be strict, and follow all of the opinions, he can buy a new shirt to be worn by a few people and recite the blessing "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv" over the $25 shirt while also having the 90 Million Dollar F-35 Stealth Fighter jet in mind…  This reminds us of the story that when Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren was Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, he recited Shehechiyanu on the night of Yom Ha-Atzmaut in Shul as was his opinion.  One of the people there questioned it, and Rav Goren waved his tie, as if to say that he was wearing a new tie, and so the blessing was on it.  After the davening, Rav Goren scolded the man: It is obvious to you that one says Shehechiyanu on a new tie, but not on a new State?! 

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #320

Taking a Book from a Beit Midrash
Q: Is it permissible to take a book from a Beit Midrash for a few hours in order to learn from it?
A: Only with the Gabbai's permission.

Giving Tzedakah without Offending
Q: How can I give money to a family member who is in a bad financial state without offending him?
A: Tell him that it is a loan, and then forget about it.

Children's Book about Noach
Q: There is a children's book which depicts Noach as a good and kind grandpa.  Is there a problem with it?
A: Yes.  One needs to have awe of holiness towards him: He was a righteous man who walked with G-d (Bereshit 6:9.  And see Ha-Rav's book on learning Tanach properly "Torat Emet").

Sleeping in a House Where Someone Died
Q: Is it true that if someone sleeps in a house where someone died, even for one night after the Shiva, he must continue to sleep there during the entire Sheloshim?
A: No.

Milk and Fish in One Oven
Q: What is the Halachah if one cooked meat and fish in the oven at the same time but on different trays?
A: If one did not drip on the other, it is, after the fact, Kosher.  Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Deah 116:10).

List of Donors
Q: Is it permissible for an organization to pass along a list of donors to others?
A: Our Rabbis forbade one from relating that he received good "Hachnasat Orchim" (hospitality) lest others come to the person who provided it.  It is praising another in a loud voice.  Arachin 17a.  Nonetheless, Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein allows it since the donor always has the option to refuse.  There is however an additional problem: perhaps the donor does not want one to tell others that he donated to that organization.  One thus violates: "Gossipers go around revealing secrets" (Mishlei 11:13) or violating one's trust, i.e. "Genevat Da'at" (deception) (Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 3:95).

Pesukei De-Zimra Out Loud
Q: Is there worth in reciting Pesukei De-Zimra out loud?
A: Certainly.  This aids one to have proper intent.  Sefer Chasidim #18.  But one should obviously not exaggerate and should not bother others.  Piskei Teshuvot 51:70.

Immersing in the Dead Sea
Q: Is it permissible to immerse in the Dead Sea as a Mikveh?

A: It is dangerous to immerse there.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #319

Q: Why isn't there an explicit Halachic ruling that smoking cigarettes is forbidden?
A: There are many given by Gedolei Yisrael (Including by Rav.  See Piskei Shlomo Vol. 4 under the heading "Smoking").

Being Drunk and Bed-time Shema
Q: Is it permissible for someone who is drunk to recite the Bed-time Shema?
A: If he can recite it properly.  But in general, one should not get drunk (See Biur Halachah #695).

Crossing on a Red Light
Q: Is it permissible to cross the street on a red light when it is late at night and there are no cars?
A: It is certainly forbidden.  1. Pikuach Nefesh - it is a life-threatening situation.  There are sometimes people who think they can outsmart the system, and have been hit by a car or caused an accident.  If the traffic light is still working at night, there is a logical reason for it (including international regulations).  2. The general principle, or in Aramaic, "Lo Pelug" – "We don’t distinguish regarding exceptions" (And Ha-Rav Avraham Genichovsky, Rosh Yeshivat Tshebin in Yerushalayim, was extremely careful not to cross against the light even late at night and even when no one was on the street, lest a child see him from a window and follow his lead.  He has added that this is in order to teach a person not to disregard boundaries and accepted standards.  And he once noted that crossing against a red light is the mindset of "My power and the strength of my hand" (Devarim 8:17) instead of Hashem providing me with power and strength, i.e. he crosses when he wants and does not need to be concern with the rules.  And he referred to the verse: "And Edom (the name of a nation, but also meaning "red") refused to give Israel passage through his border.  Bemidbar 20:21.  And it is known that Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv once saw someone crossing at a red light, and said: Rasha - an evil person.  The person was very taken aback and asked why he called him that.  Rav Elyashiv said that such an act causes blood to be spilled, since children will see you and learn from your actions.  Ha-Rav Genichovsky  added that the Gerrer Rebbe - the Beit Yisrael - once saw a person cross against a red light and said the verse: "Edom says: Don't pass through me".  Bemidbar 21:4.  And Rav Genichovsky explained that the Beit Yisrael did not tell jokes, but rather intended that everyone would relate his "Vort" and learn not to cross on a red light.  Agan Ha-Sahar, p. 456).

Succeeding in Tests
Q: I keep failing tests.  Is there a Segulah in order for me to succeed?
A: Ask someone for help how to prepare for tests.  And, of course, Teshuvah, Tefillah and Tzedakah.

Q: Is it possible to be cured from O.C.D.?
A: Yes.  If it is mild, a Rabbi can help.  If it is more serious, one requires a psychologist.  If it is severe, one requires a psychiatrist.  4% of the population suffers from this problem.  It is possible to overcome it.

Citizens who Live in Yesha
Q: How many Jews live in Yesha?
A: 340,000.  1/3 secular, 1/3 Religious-Zionist and 1/3 Charedim.  Klal Yisrael.

Q: I found a Nargila in the trash.  May I take it?

A: Yes, and break it into little pieces and throw it away, so that no one else finds it and uses it.  Nargila is a greater killer than cigarettes, and cigarettes kills 10,000 people a year in Israel, 100 times more than Arab terror (See Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 3:35.  An observant Jew once came to the yeshiva to speak to Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein and explained that his son was in prison for selling drugs.  He wanted Reb Moshe to write a letter to the judge asking to have mercy on his son.  Reb Moshe harshly said to him: "Your son causes people to be sick and hurts them.  Let him sit in prison!"  And the father tried over and over again to convince Reb Moshe, but he in no way agreed to sign such a letter, and added that his actions were against the laws of the country, which are not forfeited.  Reshumei Aharon, p. 22).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #318

Birkat Ha-Mazon
Q: Should I forgo reciting Birkat Ha-Mazon in order not to miss a Torah class?
A: Certainly not!  You should recite Birkat Ha-Mazon.  After all, Torah learning is not out of intellectual curiosity but in order to fulfill its words, and it is written in the Torah to recite Birkat Ha-Mazon.

Honoring Parents and Medical Treatment
A: My father refuses to go to the doctor regarding an important issue and I am very concerned.  What should I do?
A: Find someone to convince him or pressure him.  Kiddushin 31a-b.

Q: How can I be happy when I have a severe stutter and I can't get ahead in life?
A: It is true that this limiting, but it is still possible to accomplishing amazing things.  It once happened that a person was badly injured in a car accident and was bound to a wheelchair.  He said: I used to be able to do 10,000 things, and now I can only do 9,000!  By the way, two of my professors in university had severe stutters.  I also know two officers in Tzahal who stutter.

Murder of Rabin
Q: How do I respond to someone who says: "Rabin, Yimach Shemo – may his name be blotted out"?
A: Do not waste your time responding to such statements from people who require psychological treatment.  And this is giving such a person the benefit of the doubt, because if we weren't giving him the benefit of the doubt we would have to conclude that what he is saying is a severe transgression (It is said in the name of the Sochachover Rebbe, the author of "Avnei Nezer", that making such a statement is forbidden.  His proof is that if a man dies childless, his wife must marry the brother of her deceased husband ["Yibum"]. The Torah says that the reason for "Yibum" is so that "his name is not erased from Israel" [Devarim 25:6]. But why should I care if an evil Jew's name is erased? What's wrong with saying "may his name and memory be blotted out"?  The proof is that there is no halachah which eliminates the need to perform "Yibum" for a sinning Jew [Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha-Ezer 157:3]. This means that we must be concerned that his name not be erased from Israel.  Iturei Cohanim – Devarim 25:6).

Blessing for a Guest in Yeshiva
Q: When one learns in a Yeshiva, does he recite the blessings for a guest in Birkat Ha-Mazon?
A: Each Rosh Yeshiva should decide for his Yeshiva.  In our Yeshiva, we do not recite it since Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah taught that a Yeshiva student is not a guest in the Yeshiva but rather a member of the household (This was also the opinion of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef.  Shulchan Yosef p. 25.  Although he adds that if someone donated the food, it is proper to add: "May the Merciful One bless the hosts of this meal").

Jewish or Israeli State
Q: Which is preferable, a Jewish State or a Israeli State?
A: There is no contradiction.  Israeli-ness is hidden within Judaism, and now with Hashem's kindness, it is once again awakening.

Surrendering Parts of Eretz Yisrael
Q: Who is authorized to decide to give up parts of our Land – the Jews living in Israel or all the Jews around the world?
A: The Nation of Israel in the entire world and throughout all of the generations, those who already lived and those who have yet to live.  There is a need to ask all of them if they agree, including one's grandfather who already passed away and one's grandson who was not yet born (This was the response of Yitzchak Tabenkin to Ben Gurion as to why he opposed the Partition Plan.  Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah said the same thing).

Throwing Parashah Sheets into the Garbage
Q: Is it permissible to throw away the weekly Parashah sheets?
A: No.  They contain Divrei Torah.  They must be placed in the Geniza.
Q: But only about 10% are Divrei Torah?  The rest is advertisements.

A: Cut out the Divrei Torah and place them in the Geniza.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #317

Children of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah
Q: How is it possible that Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah did not have children?
A: We do not know the secrets of the Creator.  Ha-Or Ha-Chaim Ha-Kadosh also did not have children, and it is told that he exerted all of his efforts, which he would have used for raising children, into his commentary on the Torah.  And Rabbi Meir of Lublin also did not have children, but considered his Yeshiva, Chachmei Lublin, and those who learn Daf Yomi to be his two "children".  So too, Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah had two children: his Yeshiva, Mercaz Ha-Rav, and Klal Yisrael (the same can also be said of the Rebbe of Lubavitch who also did not have children).

Visiting Rabbi's Grave
Q: There is a Rav who I greatly admire.  Is it worthwhile to visit his grave?
A: It is better to learn his books.

Tissue on the Floor of the Yeshiva
Q: There is sometimes a tissue on the floor of our Beit Midrash.  Should I stop my learning in order to pick it up?
A: Yes, since proper respect of a Beit Midrash is a Mitzvah, and we temporarily stop our learning to perform a Mitzvah.  But you should ask your Rosh Yeshiva.

Rav Kook's Books
Q: I am in 12th grade and want to learn a book of Rav Kook.  Which should I start with?
A: Orot Ha-Teshuvah.  And if you don't understand something, skip it.

Wedding Ring for Men
Q: Is it permissible for a man to wear a wedding ring, or is it forbidden on account of "Lo Yilbash" (the prohibition of men dressing like women) and "Chukot Ha-Goyim" (following non-Jewish customs)?
A: .  There is no issue of "Lo Yilbash", as long it is not a woman's ring.  There is also no issue of "Chukot Ha-Goyim", since there is no such law among the non-Jews regarding wedding rings.  Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein writes that there is no issue of "Chukot Ha-Goyim since the ring is ornamental and symbolizes that he is married.  He adds that perhaps it is an ugly custom for a G-d-fearing Jews, but it is not forbidden.  Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 4:32 #2.  The definition of an "ugly" custom is according to the time and place.  There are Sefardic men who wear a wedding ring, and some Ashkenazim as well (Ha-Rav Nissim Karelitz also permits it in his book "Peat Zekanecha" #102.  So too, Shut Or Le-Tzion 2:23 #11 and Shut Aseh Lecha Rav, Volume 5 p. 386).

Lost Ketubah
Q: We lost our Ketubah.  What should we do?
A: Write a replacement Ketubah called a "Ketubah De-Irketa".  Turn to a Rabbi.

Making Aliyah
Q: When we tell people to make Aliyah because of terror in Europe, they say that there is also terror here.  What should we respond?
A: That this is our Land.

Ascending onto the Temple Mount
Q: Is it permissible to ascend onto the Temple Mount?
A: No.  It is a transgression.  There are signs there that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel forbids it.
Q: But some say that the Chief Rabbinate does not decide for all of Am Yisrael and its decisions are political?
A: Now you have two transgressions.

Talmud or Gemara
Q: What is the true name – Talmud or Gemara?

A: Talmud.  For example, Babylonian Talmud, Jerusalem Talmud, Talmud Torah.  Gemara is an expression forced upon us by the censor.