Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #386

One Cigarette a Day
Q: Is it true that smoking one cigarette a day is healthy?
A: No.  This is the evil inclination trying to seduce you.

Tooth Which Fell Out on Shabbat
Q: Is a tooth which fell out on Shabbat considered Muktzeh?
A: Yes.  But if it is in one's hand in a permissible fashion, i.e. it fell out into a person's mouth and he removed it with his hand, then it is permissible to place it wherever he wants, similar to a fruit peel (See Mishnah Berurah 506:29.  Orchot Shabbat Volume 2, p. 101).   

Tzahal Soldier, His Wife and Danger
Q: I am a married soldier.  They sent me to the Gaza border.  My wife said that she is totally against me entering into Gaza.  What should I do?
A: 1. We do not know the future, but at this juncture, if Tzahal enters Gaza, it will only be a minimal entry and the danger will not be greater than on any other front.  2. The Rambam writes that when a soldier enters a war, he should not fear, and he should not think about his wife and children (Hilchot Melachim, end of Chapter 7).  This is logical, since he starts to fear, he will not be able to do anything.  3. If your officer is willing to grant you an exemption, you are allowed not to enter.  4. According to the Halachah, if you do enter, you are permitted to hide this from your wife in order not to cause her distress, which is called lying for the sake of peace.  Be strong and courageous!

Cell Phone in Shul
Q: Is it permissible to enter a Shul with a cell phone?
A: Yes.  On condition that it is turned off and one does not use it there.

Yosef's Coffin during Plague of Blood
Q: Why didn't Yosef's coffin fill up with blood in the Nile during the plague of blood in Egypt?
A: This is a very good question, but one should first ask why it did not fill up with water all year long.  It seems that it was sealed tight.  Additionally, after the plague ended, the blood disappeared.  Therefore, even if blood did enter the coffin, after the plague ended it also disappeared.

Learning Arabic
Q: Is it permissible to learn Arabic?
A: Hebrew is our language.  It is permissible to learn another language for a job.

Talit for Bat Mitzvah
Q: I own a Judaica store.  Is it permissible for me to sell a Talit for a Bat Mitzvah?
A: Certainly not.  But you should avoid doing so with wisdom (Similarly, in Shut Shevet Ha-Kehati [5:5], it is written that it is forbidden to sell Tefillin to a woman).   

Signs of Redemption
Q: Do the Charedim agree that when Eretz Yisrael yields her fruit bountifully it is a sign that the Redemption is coming?
A: Certainly!  It is an explicit Gemara, Sanhedrin 98a, and we are not Karaites.  And a friend told me in the name of Ha-Rav Avraham Greniman Shlit"a that the Chazon Ish told his father, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Shemaryahu Greniman ztz"l, Rosh Kollel Chazon Ish, that the reason he made Aliyah (in the year 5693) was on account of Eretz Yisrael beginning to grow her fruit, as it says in the Prophet Yechezkel (36:8): "But you, O mountains of Israel, shall yield your produce and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for their return is near".  

Immersing in Desert
Q: Where did the women immerse during the forty years in the desert?
A: There were small lakes, large puddles and natural springs  

The Satmar Rebbe is Visiting Israel!

[A talk given in the Yeshiva during lunch]

Question: The Satmar Rebbe is arriving in Israel for a ten-day visit.  Is it obligatory to go and greet him?
Answer: A person is not obligated to greet every single Torah scholar, especially since – Baruch Hashem – there are so many Torah scholars today.  A person is only obligated to greet his Rabbi, i.e. "Rav Muvhak" - the Rabbi from whom he has gained the majority of his knowledge.  Additionally, even if a Rabbi is not his main teacher, but is the "Gadol Ha-Dor", he is considered one's "Rav Muvhak."  Therefore, if the Satmar Rebbe is one's "Rav Muvhak," he is obligated to go and greet him, but if he is not, one is not obligated, although it is certainly permissible.

Regarding the question if the Satmar Rebbe is the "Gadol Ha-Dor" there is a dispute.  Who is the "Gadol Ha-Dor"?  The answer for us is simple: the "Gadol Ha-Dor" is Maran Ha-Rav Kook.  In fact, he is not only the leader of this generation, but the leader of generations.  But it is possible that there is a dispute.  One person says that this rabbi is the "Gadol Ha-Dor," while another says that another rabbi is the "Gadol Ha-Dor."  Surely some thought that the Rambam was the "Gadol Ha-Dor" and others thought that Rabbenu Tam was the "Gadol Ha-Dor."  It is even possible that each is the leading rabbi in a different sense.  The Gerrer Rebbe said that there is no need to find out which holiday is most important.  On Pesach, Pesach is the most important.  On Shavuot, Shavuot.  On Sukkot, Sukkot.  Each holiday, when it falls is the most important one.  So too here, it is possible that there are different types of leading Rabbis of the generation.   Nonetheless, the students of the Satmar Rebbe consider him the "Gadol Ha-Dor," and others do not agree.  Thus, one is not obligated to greet him as the "Gadol Ha-Dor."

Question: It is forbidden to greet him?
Answer: Why would it be forbidden?   Some say that if Yitzchak Rabin was a "Rodef" (literally a "pursuer" – who one is permitted to kill in order to save the pursued) then the Satmar Rebbe is all the more so a "Rodef" on account of his virulent anti-Zionist views.  We reject this position, since according to all halachic opinions, Rabin was not a "Rodef" and thus neither is the Satmar Rebbe.  It is certainly not forbidden to greet him.

The question of a rabbi who ridicules and insults the State of Israel, others Rabbis, etc. is a very sensitive topic.  On the one hand, the transgression of a Torah scholar who shames other Torah scholars is very severe.  On the other hand, we need to give the Rabbi as much benefit of the doubt as possible.  For example, there was a "Gadol Ha-Dor" of the previous generation who shamed all of the other Rabbis.  Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin said about him: He is insane – he is not normal.  This was giving him the benefit of the doubt.  There are also Torah scholars who have extremely harsh styles of speaking.  They refer to everyone as apostates, heretics, etc.  Explaining that this is someone's style of speaking is also a type of giving the benefit of the doubt.  We are not saying that this is proper, but are trying to see others in the best possible light.

In any event, quite simply, it is extremely important to honor all Torah scholars.  One should not shame them, even if there is a harsh communal dispute.  The Gemara in Sanhedrin (99a) explains that one great Rabbi, Rabbi Hillel (not Hillel the Elder who was a contemporary of Shammai), said that the Messiah would not come.  This is certainly a severe statement.  Everyone is waiting for and anticipating the Messiah, yet in his opinion: "No – there is no Messiah."  Rav Yosef said to him: "May Hashem pardon his error" (as explained by Rashi).  We clearly see that despite the severe nature of Rabbi Hillel's comments, Rav Yosef did not shame him.  Based on this, there is a Teshuvah of the Radvaz (4:187) that even a great Rabbi who has expressed himself heretically should not be ridiculed even though one should argue with all forcefulness against his ideas.  Maran Ha-Rav Kook explained this law based on the Jerusalem Talmud, which compares disgracing a Torah scholar to a structure of stones: that is, if one stone is shaken, the entire structure is shaken (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 10:1). Thus, one who scorns a Torah scholar knocks over the entire building of the Torah in Israel (see "Perek Tzibbur" by Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzhak Ha-Cohain Kook, Ma’amrei Ha-Re’eiyah 55).  Scorning Torah scholars is similar to sitting on a powder keg; we do not know when it will blow up and who will be injured.  Shaming Torah scholars cannot be controlled and we do not know where it will end.  If someone disgraces one Torah scholar, he disgraces them all.

We saw this with our own eyes: Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, the first Satmar Rebbe, made extremely harsh statements.   Our Rabbi, Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, never scorned or denigrated him even though their stances were diametrically opposed.  Our Rabbi once heard a severe ruling in the name of the Satmar Rebbe, and all he said was: "This is not correct."  Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah also admonished students who expressed a lack of respect towards the Satmar Rebbe, and would not allow them to continue to speak.  Once Ha-Gaon Rav Moshe Feinstein issued a ruling that in pressing situations it is permissible to be lenient in a regarding the height of a Mechitzah between men and women in a Shul.  The Satmar Rebbe came out against him. Our Rabbi said: "It is known that our paths are separate and different, but in this issue he (the Satmar Rebbe) is correct."  Even though they were polar opposites regarding the Redemption of Israel and Klal Yisrael, our Rabbi never said one negative word against him.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #385

Resuscitation by Cohain
Q: If a person collapses next to a Cohain, is it permissible for him to perform resuscitation, or is there a fear that if the person dies the Cohain will become impure?
A: It is certainly permissible!  Pikuach Nefesh – saving a life! (See Yoma 23a, that when a Cohain was stabbed in the Beit Ha-Mikdash, they asked about the impurity of the knife instead of tending to the victim).

Drunk Person Paying Check
Q: I was eating in a restaurant and a drunk person came over and said that he wanted to pay my check.  Is it permissible to accept the money?
A: No.  He was not level-headed at that moment.

Drunkenness at Wedding
 Q: There are people today who get drunk at weddings.  What does the Torah say about this?
A: It is forbidden.  In general, it is forbidden to get drunk.

Medicine of Non-Jews
Q: The Chatam Sofer wrote in his Teshuvot (Yoreah Deah #175) that the medicine of non-Jews does not apply to the body of a Jew.  What is Ha-Rav's opinion on this?
A: This is an extremely novel ruling.  After all, the Rambam bases his medical writings on the medical knowledge of the non-Jews.  He does not distinguish between the body of a Jew and the body of a non-Jew.  There is certainly a difference between the body of a Jew and a non-Jew regarding eating forbidden foods, but not in the area of medicine.

High-Ranking Officer in Tzahal
Q: Should I aspire to be a high-ranking officer in Tzahal?  After all, a person should have a normal life of a Jew – being with his wife, educating his children, learning Torah, celebrating Shabbat and Yom Tov - and a high-ranking officer is in the army all the time.
A: It is a great Mitzvah.  It is self-sacrifice.

Sticker to Prevent Snoring
Q: Is it permissible on Shabbat to put a sticker on one's nose, similar to a band-aid, to prevent snoring at night?
A: Yes, it is temporary.

Carrying Torah
Q: I saw someone carry the Sefer Torah from the Aron Ha-Kodesh and he did not turn the Torah around.  Should we say something to him?
A: This is the custom of Belzer Chasidim who are particular not to turn the Torah around, since doing so is disrespectful to the Torah (Ma'asei Choshev pp. 300-301 and notes).  And there are those who say that the Chazon Ish also acted in this way.  Everyone should act in this case according to the custom of the community, but if one acts differently, it should not be pointed out.  And in general, if something is to be pointed out, the Rabbi of the community is the one who should do so.

Need for Tzahal
Q: Is it true that if Am Yisrael observes Torah and Mitzvot, there will be no need for Tzahal?
A: Not true.  But we will be more victorious.  See beginning of Parashat Be-Chukotai.

Taanit Dibur for An Hour
Q: Is there value in having a Taanit Dibur (refraining from speaking) for an hour each day?
A: It is a personal decision.  But it is preferable to recite Tehilim, repent and give Tzedakah.

A Brief History of the Universe

[Translation by Rabbi Barry Kornblau,
Chief Content Officer at Canfei Nesharim: Sustainable Living Inspired by Torah]

Adon Olam... The Ruler of the Universe who ruled before any creation was formed.”
More than 13.8 billion years ago, “In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth.”

Le-Et Naasah... At the time all was done, all was made according to His will.”  All was concentrated in one point, the Singularity, tiny beyond measure, compressed beyond measure [“Ein Sof”], in which were united all forces and particles.

After 10-43 seconds began the great explosion, the Big Bang, the Tohu Va-Vohu. At that point, the creation of time, space, matter begin, and the laws of physics – gravity, the strong force, the electromagnetic force, and the weak force – became distinguished.

From 10 seconds thereafter until 380,000 years later was the period of photons - “Let there be light”.

After 400 million years, stars began to form along with heavy elements, until [the atomic number of] iron, since until that time only hydrogen existed.  Then tremendous explosions of stars (known as supernovas) began, releasing 4,000,000,000 times the energy of the Sun, and atoms heavier than iron were created.  As since it is not good for an atom to be alone (cf. Bereshit 2:18), molecules were formed.

8 billion years ago, our galaxy, the Milky Way, was formed.

5 billion years ago, our Sun was formed.

4.6 billion years ago, Earth was formed.

About 3.8 billion years ago, large molecules of millions of atoms appeared, known as prokaryotes: a single cell, without a nucleus, with a membrane separating it from other material – such as bacteria.  They know how to replicate themselves, and thus are the foundation of biological life.

About 2 billion years ago, eukaryotes appeared.  They have a nucleus and organelles – a great revolution which later enabled them to split into different organs such as the heart, brain, liver, male and female, adult and young.

(Notably, it took 0.8 billion years for prokaryotes to appear, another 1.8 billion years until eukaryotes appeared, and another 2 billion years until the [large] creatures we recognize today appeared.  Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook writes: “Physical reality's slowness, nature's restrictions, its external sloth, the contraction of spiritual ascents, the transience of miracles: these are all supporting foundations of the unending ascent constituting the ultimate foundation of physical reality. The latter includes internal limitations which prevents reality's revelation from sinking until its lowest depth, as well a darker thought which promotes the eternal, unending ascent.” – Orot Ha-Kodesh 2.529; cf. 2.539, 2.547)

1.2 billion years ago, reproduction by male and female appeared.  Previously, a single cell duplicated itself, but this process requires two different cells.  The offspring has only 50% of each of its progenitors' traits but is nonetheless doubly enriched in traits, doubling its survival rate.  “They shall be male and female” (Bereshit 6:19)

900 million years ago, multi-celled organisms appeared – pre-sponge creatures.

(The pace is now faster.)

580 million years ago, a creature with nerves and muscles: jellyfish.
570 million years ago, creatures with six or eights limbs.
550 million years ago, flatworms with head and tail, front and back, and a controlling brain.
550 million years ago, the first species of fish.
475 million years ago, plants on land.
405 million years ago, freshwater fish.
400 million years ago, plants with seeds and insects.
315 million years ago, amphibians with lungs and gills, living in the sea and coming onto land.
255 million years ago, finally land creatures.
220 million years ago, mammalian ancestors.
150 million years ago, birds.
125 million years ago, placental animals which protect the fetus inside.
120 million years ago, flowers.
65 million years ago, a small mammal living in trees, ancestor of the primates.
40 million years ago, division of primates into different types.
25 million years ago, Proconsul africanus, a primate.
13 million years ago, a primate whose body structure approaching our own, including flexible elbows, a hard spinal base, and more.
10 million years ago, the appearance of hominids that branched off from gorillas.
7 million years ago, hominids separate from chimps [Maran Ha-Rav Kook: “Zohar (Parashat Vayikra, p. 10) states that there were many types of man before Adam mentioned in the Torah.” – Letters Vol. 1, page 108]
3.5 million years ago, Kenyanthropus Platyops.  [“And Adam became a living being” (Bereshit 2:7) - “At that point, Adam was only a living being, unspeaking until he was formed in [G-d's] Image and Likeness]”  – Commentary of Rabbenu Ovadiah Seforno, cited in The Torah of Rav Gedalyah Nadel, pp. 99-100]
2.5 million years ago, Homo Habilis.
1.8 million years ago, Homo Erectus which walks erect.
1.5 million years ago, Homo Georgicus which mastered fire.
700,000 years ago, the predecessor of Neanderthal Man and modern man.
350,000 years ago, Neanderthal Man himself.
160,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens, the predecessor of Adam. He knew how to bury the dead and to slaughter.
150,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
50,000 years ago, migration to eastern Asia.
40,000 years ago, migration to Australia and Europe; Cro-Magnon man.
10,000 years ago, the Neolithic Era.

6,000 years ago – Year 0: After a long process, man was elevated to the status of Adam the First and our mother, Chava.  They are the first with the Image of God, which expresses the permanent, holy [familial] relationship between them [Adam and Chava]. (Maran Ha-Rav Kook, Shemoneh Kevatzim 1.594)

Year 1056, Noach, the righteous man.
Year 1948, our father Avraham.
Year 2048, our father Yitzchak.
Year 2108, our father Yaakov.
Year 2368, our teacher Moshe.
Year 2448, the Exodus from Egypt.
Year 2488, the Conquest of the Land.
Year 2854, King David.

Year 2928, Building of the Temple.
Year 3338, Destruction of the Temple.
Year 3408, Renewal of the Temple.
Year 3828, Destruction of the Second Temple.
Year 5642, the First Aliyah [to Eretz Yisrael].
Year 5664, the Second Aliyah.
Year 5679, the Third Aliyah.
Year 5684, the Fourth Aliyah.
Year 5692, the Fifth Aliyah.
Year 5699, the Sixth Aliyah.
Year 5708, the Establishment of the State of Israel.
Year 5727, Return to Yerushalayim.

How great are Your works, Hashem!  (Tehilim 92:6)
If our mouths were as filled [with Your praise as water] fills the sea,
It would still not suffice to thank You.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #384

Cup with Halachah
Q: Does a disposable cup which says "Please recite She-Ha-Kol Neyihe Bidvaro with proper intention" require being placed in the Geniza?
A: Yes, even though it is disposable,

Premature Baby
Q: If a baby is born prematurely, did he learn less Torah with the angel in his mother's womb?
A: No.  The Torah is absorbed within the special nature of a Jew's soul.

Festive Meal for Hatafat Dam Brit
Q: If a baby if born circumcised and there is a Hatafat Dam Brit, is there still a festive meal?  Tachanun?
A: There is an obligation to have a festive meal.  Kaf Ha-Chaim (131:71).  Tachanun is not recited.

Mesader Kiddushin
Q: Is there a spiritual significance to the Mesader Kiddushim at a wedding?
A: No (Ha-Rav Chaim Kaniensky said that he is particular to serve as a Sandek at a Brit Milah since it is a Mitzvah, which is not the case with a Mesader Kiddushin).

Bothersome Person
Q: How is it possible to love a bothersome person?
A: 1. See the good in him.  2. Regarding this bad character traits: do not judge a person until you walk in his shoes.

Angel who Teaches Torah to Non-Jews
Q: Does the angel who teaches Torah also teach it to non-Jews?
A: He only teaches to Jews.  "The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov" (Devarim 33:4).  But he teaches non-Jews the Seven Mitzvot of the Sons of Noach which are incumbent upon non-Jews.

Youth During Terror Attacks
Q: What is the role of the youth during periods of terror attacks?
A: To add strength and courage to the Nation.

Beginning of Redemption and Expulsions
Q: How is it possible to say that it is Atchalta De-Geulah - the beginning of the Redemption - when Jews are being expelled from their houses?
A: 1. It is not the Beginning of the Redemption, but rather the Redemption itself, but not the full Redemption.  2. It is not written in any place that during the Beginning of the Redemption or during the Redemption, Jews will not be expelled from their houses.  It is only written regarding the full Redemption.  3. Our Sages define the Beginning of the Redemption as war (Megillah 17b), i.e. wars to protect the Nation of Israel – Baruch Hashem.

Foxes on the Temple Mount
Q: It has been reported that foxes were seen on the Temple Mount.  What does it mean?  Is it connected to the prophecy "Foxes will go in it [the Holy of Holies]" (Eicha 5:18)?
A: It does not mean anything.

Immodest Pictures from the Holocaust
Q: We visited Yad Vashem and an ethical question arose.  Is it permissible to display pictures of people without clothing during the Holocaust to show the evil and cruelty of the Nazis?
A: It is certainly forbidden.  It is immodest and debasing.  If it was your mother, would be agree to have such a picture of her on display?!

Abusive Mother
Q: I see a neighbor abusing her child all the time, and punishing her in cruel ways.  What should I do?
A: Report her to the authorities.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #383

Q: Which is more important – a woman covering her hair or a man wearing a Kipa?
A: Certainly a woman covering her hair, since it is a Torah Mitzvah.

Food Which Arrived on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to eat food which arrived on Shabbat in a car?
A: No.  Biur Halachah #318 d.h. Achat.  Piskei Teshuvot 318:16.

Jonthan Pollard
Q: What is with Jonthan Pollard?
A: Continue to Daven for his and his wife's health and that they should be allowed by the United States to make Aliyah.

Sketch for Tattoo
Q: Is it permissible for me to make a sketch for a tattoo for a non-religious friend?
A: No.  It is aiding one to perform a transgression.

Working Diligently
Q: I am paid by the hour.  Is it permissible to work slower in order to earn more money or must I work as hard as possible?
A: You should work as hard as possible, as the Rambam writes at the end of Hilchot Sekirut regarding the words of Yaakov Avinu: "I worked for your father with all my might".

Kissing Mezuzah without Kipah
Q: Is it permissible to kiss a Mezuzah if I am not wearing a Kipah?
A: Yes.  But you should know that wearing a Kipah is an obligation and kissing a Mezuzah isn't even a fixed custom.

Small Tefillin
Q: Is there a problem with having small Tefillin?
A: No.  But one needs a Sofer who is a great expert knows how to write miniscule letters that are still Kosher.

Definition of Baseless Hatred
Q: What is the definition of baseless hatred?
A: Hating those who are different from you.

Bright Red Car
Q: Is it permissible to buy a car which is bright red?
A: Yes.  But it is preferable to refrain from doing so, since one should be modest and not draw attention to oneself.

Gabbai and Rabbi
Q: I am the Gabbai of a Shul and the Rabbi gave a Pesak which is difficult to understand.  Am I obligated to listen to him?
A: Yes.  But it is permissible to ask him for the reason behind the ruling.

Shaming Sages
Q: Is there a difference being one shaming Maran Ha-Rav Kook and shaming Chasidic Rebbes?
A: No.  Any shaming of a Torah scholar is an extremely severe transgression.  It is heresy (see introduction of our Sefer "Alo Naale" – Response to Va-Yoel Moshe of the Satmar Rebbe).