Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #301

Blessing of a Tzadik or Birkat Cohanim
Q: Is it worthwhile to travel to visit a Tzadik in order to receive a blessing?
A: Birkat Cohanim – which is a blessing directly from Hashem – is supremely greater than any blessing of a Tzadik (Ha-Rav Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman was also puzzled by the great distances people travel to receive a blessing of a Tzadik when one receives the blessing of Hashem each day in Birkat Cohanim [obviously this is in Eretz Yisrael or Sefardic Shuls outside of Israel where Birkat Cohanim is recited each day].  Be-Orchotecha Lamdenei p. 38).

Tzitzit in a Cemetery
Q: Is it permissible to leave one's Tzitzit out in a cemetery?
A: Not within 4 Amot (approximately 6 feet) of a grave.  Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 23:3.  Mishnah Berurah ibid.).

Texting and Ta'anit Dibur
Q: Is it permissible send a text message if I am in a Ta'anit Dibur?
A: It depends on what the person accepted upon himself.  Ta'anit Dibur is a new invention and does not have specific Halachot.

Learning Talmud Yerushalami
Q: Why do we learn the Babylonian Talmud in Yeshivot today and not Talmud Yerushalami which is Torat Eretz Yisrael?
A: The Talmud Yerushalami is very condensed, not fully elucidated and with limited commentaries, and is therefore difficult to learn.  We therefore first learn Babylonian Talmud.   

Ben Gurion
Q: How do we relate to Ben Gurion when he accomplished great things but was also a heretic?
A: With complexity.

Segulah for Torah Growth
Q: I want to grow in Torah learning.  Is there a Segulah?
A: Learn Torah and do not engage in other matters, even if they are important.  Others will be involved with them.  "Each person should be in his designated camp, and each person under his own flag" (Bamidbar 1:52).  Even in Torah learning, do not run in all directions, but rather concentrate on the essential matters, and do not engage with extraneous Pilpulim (Regarding the importance of learning Torah in such a manner, Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv would often say: "Like the story with the Maharsham and the Shoel U-Meishiv".  It once happened that Ha-Rav Yosef Shaul Nathanson, the author of Shut Shoel U-Meishiv, was traveling and stopped in a small town.  He entered the local Beit Midrash and saw two students learning intently.  He entered and laid out before them a major difficulty on the commentary of the Meharsha on the Gemara Sanhedrin.  He said that he would return in a few days on his way home and stop by to hear their answers.  When he returned, one of the students gave a major Pilpul which resolved the difficulty.  The Shoel U-Meishiv then asked the second student: And what about you?  The student responded: I will tell Ha-Rav the truth.  I looked into the issue, saw that there is indeed a great difficulty that would require hours to work on.  I decided that it was not a good use of my time, since I wanted to continue my learning.  I therefore do not have an answer.  The Shoel U-Meishiv was very excited and said: I am certain that he will be a major Posek in Israel, and indeed Rabbi Shalom Mordechai Schwadron – known as the Gaon of Berezhany – author of Shut Masharsham, became one of the foremost Poskim.  Rav Elyashiv added: And the other student did not amount to much, he sold nails…  In the book "Mi-Pi Ha-Ish pp. 50-51).

Shabbat Meals
Q: What is preferable – eating meat at Shabbat lunch, knowing that I will then be tired and fall asleep, or eating a light meal, and then having a lot of time to learn Torah?

A: A light meal.  The essence is that it is tasty, since Shabbat is for Hashem, for the soul and not just for the body.  See introduction to "Zichru Torah Moshe" on Hilchot Shabbat by the author of the Chayei Adam.   

What Blessings Will We Recite Upon Pollard's Release?

Q: When Jonathan Pollard is finally released from an American prison after thirty years, should he recite Ha-Gomel?
A: Certainly, as the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 219:1) rules that one who is freed from jail recites this blessing.
Q: But the Mishnah Berurah writes in the Biur Halachah (d.h. Chavush) that in the case of one who is imprisoned but not in danger, the Sefardic custom is to recite Ha-Gomel but the Ashkenazi custom is not to do so, and Pollard is Ashkenazi.  Furthermore, there are rules in a American prison and people are not randomly killed there.
A: 1. He has been in danger on account of the harsh treatment he received there, including years of solitary confinement.  2. He has been with other prisoners who could have murdered him (Piskei Teshuvot 219:4).  3. He has been in a life-threatening situation various times on account of illnesses, and he continues to be very sick.
Q: If so, it is clear that he should recite Ha-Gomel…
A: Furthermore, the Kaf Ha-Chaim (219:1) brings that Sefardim should recite Ha-Gomel when being released from jail on account of the lack of personal freedom, even if there were wonderful conditions.  And Ashkenazi Poskim hold that one recites the blessing if one is bound in handcuffs and this is the case here (Piskei Teshuvot ibid. #1.  Although Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski said that Pollard should not recite Ha-Gomel based on the simple understanding of the words the Mishnah Berurah writes in the Biur Halachah brought above.  Parashah Sheet "Divrei Shi'ach" – Parashat Re'eh 5775 - #131).
Q: Should we recite Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv?
A: Yes, upon the good news of his release (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 222:1.  And this is also the opinion of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski.  Parashah Sheet "Divrei Shi'ach" – Parashat Re'eh 5775 - #131).
Q: When should we recite this blessing?
A: Upon his release.
Q: Why don't we recite the blessing now over the good news that he will be released?
A: We only recite it when he leaves the prison and is free, since there can always be complications.
Q: Should everyone recite this blessing?
A: Anyone who is truly joyous.  See Aruch Ha-Shulchan (ibid. #1).
Q: Should one recite Mechaye Ha-Meitim when meeting him after his release?
A: No, since we have known all along that he was alive.  We only recite this blessing if we have not heard from someone in over a year and there is a possibility that he is dead.
A: Should one recite Shehechiyanu when meeting him after his release as one does when not seeing his friend for 30 days?
A: Yes.  Although there are those who do not, for various reasons, customarily recite Shehechiyanu over seeing a friend (see Piskei Teshuvot 225:2.  And Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski said that one should not recite Shehechiyanu when seeing Pollard based on the Mishnah Berurah 225:2.  Parashah Sheet "Divrei Shi'ach" – Parashat Re'eh 5775 - #131).  But Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah quotes all of these blessings in Sidur Olat Re'eiyah (Vol. 1 pp. 380-382) as the basic Halachah lays out (and see Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:83-84, 86).  
Q: But Shehechiyanu is only recited when one is joyous to meet his friend, and not when one has never met the person (Shulchan Aruch ibid. #2)?  And is someone who visited Pollard in prison, as Ha-Rav did, in the category of a "friend"?!
A: This is a unique case (see Piskei Teshuvot ibid. #2).  Pollard is all of our friend since he saved our entire Nation from the non-conventional weapons of the enemy.  When the Netziv met the Aderet for the first time, he recited Shehechiyanu (see Ha-Rav's commentary on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:21).
Q: This was special since the Aderet was a Torah giant!  And the Munkatcher Rebbe recited Shehechiyanu upon seeing the Saba Kadisha for the first time (Shut Yayin Ha-Tov #48-49), as did Ha-Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld over the Munkatcher (Masaot Yerushalayim p. 21).  And Ha-Rav Ephraim Greenblatt ruled that one should recite Shehechiyanu the first time he meets Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shut Revivot Ephraim 6:104).  It therefore seems that this is a special halachah for Torah giants!

A: One who saves his friend, and all the more so one who saves the entire community, has an aspect that is comparable to a Torah scholar.  See Pele Yoetz Erech "Hatzalah", who explains the saying of our Rabbis: "Even those of Israel who are empty are as full of Mitzvot as a pomegranate [is full of seeds]."  How so?  It is those who save lives.  And the Pele Yoetz emphasizes: One who saves lives is greater even than a Torah scholar.       

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #300

Sherayim of the Rebbe
Q: What is the source for eating Sherayim (leftover food) of a Rebbe?  Is there something to it?
A: It has no clear source in the Gemara or in the Poskim.  Some learn it from the Gemara Chagiga (13b) that it is forbidden to eat a loaf of bread from which a mouse nibbled since the impurity has spread throughout, and this is all the more so when a righteous person eats from it that the purity spreads throughout (Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira explained it in this manner.  When this explanation was related to Ha-Rav Moshe Halberstam, member of the Badatz of the Eidah Ha-Charedit, he said: "I am familiar with all the statements regarding Sherayim except this one."  Rosh Devarcha, p. 108).  Or the Yerushalami Moed Katan (2:3) which says that after the meal celebrating the New Month, Rebbe Yohanan would collect the crumbs and eat them, saying: "May I spend my life in the next world together with those who ate here last evening" (Brought in Shaarim Metzuyanim Be-Halachah 42:2.  Derech Sichah vol. 1, p. 220 in the name of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski.  And Chasidim ask: If one is strict not to sell actual Chametz for Pesach, is it permissible for him to sell a piece of Sherayim from his Rebbe?  The Poskim answer: yes.  Shut Nachat Pinchas 1:1 #65.  Brought in Ki Ba Moed – Pesach vol. 1, p. 8.  And Ha-Rav Aviner told me: "This is a big Chidush, since he is interested in saving it and perhaps there is no Bitul".  And the Gerrer Rebbe once said to Maran Ha-Rav Kook: "Chasidim eat Sherayim of their Rebbe, i.e. they nullify themselves to their Rebbe.  To whom do you nullify yourselves?"  Maran Ha-Rav Kook answered him: "We eat the Sherayim of Klal Yisrael."  And Maran Ha-Rav Kook already wrote that the greatest Tzadik does not reach the ankles of Klal Yisrael.  See Orot 76, 176).

Relation to Arabs
Q: I am volunteering at a center for mentally-challenged children, and there are also Arab children there.  How should I relate to them?  In the same pleasant manner as I would to the other children?
A: Certainly.  One has to be a human being.  It is not a battle field there.  See the introduction of the Netziv to Sefer Bereshit.

Suffering of Am Yisrael
Q: What kind of Chosen People are we when we suffer and are killed all the time?  This is how Hashem loves us?
A: This is complex for a text message.  Ask a Rabbi face-to-face.  Asking a question like this in a text message is a horrible belittling of the suffering of Am Yisrael and a belittling of Hashem.
Q: Thank you, it is truly a belittling.
A: May Hashem bless you. 

Film about Expulsion from Gush Katif on Tisha Be-Av
Q: Is it permissible to see a film about the expulsion from Gush Katif on Tisha Be-Av?
A: It is forbidden to read books that arouse all sorts of inclinations.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307:16.  And this is all the more so for movies.  Therefore, these films which usually arouse hatred towards the army, government, etc., are forbidden all year round, and all the more so on Tisha Be-Av.

Falun Gong
Q: Should we protest the horrible abuses which Falun Gong is undergoing in China?  After all, we are a small country and cannot solve all of the world's problems.
A: We cannot solve them, but we are obligated to protest as well as to act.  The fact is that their government fears this and denies it.
Q: Why do we care? They are idol worshippers!
A: It does not appear that Falun Gong or Falun Dafa is idol worship.  It is a technique of exercise with a little meditation and perfecting of one's character traits, such as truth and compassion.  And we should certainly save them from injustice.
Q: But there is a swaskita in their symbol, like the Nazis.
A: G-d forbid, they are not Nazis.  The swaskita is an ancient symbol from the Far East which the Nazis adopted.  They are good and ethical people.
Q: Is it true that in China they take organs for transplant from members of Falon Gong against their will and they die from this?  This is horrible!  This is like what the Nazis did!  Why are we silent?!

A: Some researchers make this claim but it has yet to be proven by international organizations.  What is certain is that they abuse them in an extremely cruel manner, make false arrests and torture them to death.

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. 

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #299

Eating Lunch at a Yeshiva
Q: If I visit a Yeshiva to learn a little and hear a class, is it permissible for me to eat lunch there even though I am not a student there?
A: You have to ask one of the Rabbis there.  I do not have the authority to decide for them.

Lending an Electronic Object to Someone who does not Observe Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible for me to lend an electronic object to someone who does not observe Shabbat?
A: In general, yes.  But it is forbidden if it is on Shabbat itself or if on a weekday the person explicitly says that he will use it on Shabbat.  Mishnah Berurah 347:7.

Bli Neder
Q: If one promises something but says "Bli Neder" (without taking an oath), is he obligated to fulfill it?
A: One is certainly obligated to fulfill his promises even if he says "Bli Neder".  If one says "Bli Neder" and does not fulfill his promise he has not transgressed the prohibition of an unfulfilled oath, but he has still transgressed towards his friend (A groom once continuously bugged the Chazon Ish to attend his wedding, but the Chazon Ish refused.  The groom suggested: Ha-Rav can say he is coming "Bli Neder".  The Chazon Ish was shocked:"Bli Neder" is still a serious acceptance, it is not something meant lightly.  If I say it, I will be obligated to attend).

Tzedakah or Kaddish
Q: Is it preferable to pay people to come to my relative's grave on the Yahrzeit so that I can recite Kaddish or to donate the money to Tzedakah?
A: Tzedakah, since giving Tzedakah is a clear Mitzvah, and there is no Mitzvah to recite Kaddish by a relative's grave.

Druze Wedding
Q: Is it permissible for me to attend the wedding of a Druze friend with a Druze woman?  The wedding will not be Kosher but they will provide Kosher food for the Jewish guests?
A: Yes, since the wedding and meal is permissible for them.  And "Maarit Ayin" only applies to what our Sages decreed.

Talit for Single Man
Q: Should a single man wear a Talit?

A: There are various customs among Ashkenazi Jews.  Be'er Heitev 17:4.  Mishnah Berurah Ibid. #10.  But he should certainly wear Tzitzit.  The Sefardi custom is for single men to wear a Talit.  Kaf Ha-Chaim 8:12.

Segulot that Work

Since people today are searching day and night for Segulot, inventing new ones and paying a fortune for them, we decided to collect all of the proven Segulot which we have heard from our Rabbis:

Segulah for Shalom Bayit
A husband should help his wife or, more precisely, the two of them should take care of the family's needs together since theirs is a shared life.
Satmar Chasidim end Shabbat very late due to a long Seudat Shelishit and the Rebbe's talk. Once, on a Saturday night, the Satmar Rebbe saw that one of his Chasidim was the last one in the Beit Midrash and was folding his Talit with great precision. The Rebbe asked him what he was doing. The Chasid said that he saw in various books that care in folding one's Talit is a Segulah for Shalom Bayit. The Rebbe responded: A better Segulah is to go home and help your wife wash dishes (And others say this incident in the name of Ha-Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, Rosh Yeshivat Mir.  The book "U-Piryo Matok - Bereshit" of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein, p. 140).

Segulah for the Education of One's Children
A good education, since for education, one has to work and invest.  
Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski related that someone once came to Ha-Griz Soloveitchik – the Brisker Rav – and asked for a blessing that his son should be a Torah scholar and G-d-fearing.  The Rav said that he will be a Torah scholar based on how much you learn with him, and he will be G-d-fearing based on how many tears his mother sheds during Davening for him (Minchat Todah p. 89).

Segulah for Learning Torah
Learn consistently and without interruption.
Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter relates that after he was married, he and his wife did not have children, and they therefore decided to visit Eretz Yisrael.  He was told that it is worthwhile to receive a blessing from the Steipler Gaon.  The way it worked was that one bought a book from him and at the same time asked for a blessing.  The Steipler was hard of hearing, and one would therefore communicate with him by writing on a notepad.  The Steipler yelled in Yiddish: What can I do for you? Rav Schachter wrote that he wants to buy Kehilat Yaakov on Kiddushin, the Massechet they were then learning in Yeshiva.  He bought it, received the change and said that the Steipler could keep the change as a donation.  The Steipler said that he did not need the money, business is business.  Then Rav Schachter asked for a blessing for children, and he blessed him.  The Steipler asked: What else can I do for you?  Rav Schachter said that he was learning in Kolel, and is it possible to receive a blessing for success in learning?  The Steipler said: All the blessings in the world will not help. Rather sit and learn and you will succeed.

Segulah for Debts
If someone has debts, he should spend less than he earns and not rely on the miracle of overcoming the rules of mathematics.
The Tur wrote that one should limit his expenses. And the Mishnah Berurah wrote that this is a harsh criticism against those who are enticed to spend money on luxuries without seeing the consequences, which in the end will lead to theft and disgrace (Biur Halachah chap. 529). One should plan well.

Segulah for a Long Life
“Who is the man that desires life and loves days of seeing good?  Let him guard his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking evil.”  Tehillim 34:13- 14.

Segulah against Traffic Accidents
Driving carefully and performing kindnesses to those who need a ride.
And the Belzer Rebbe – Ha-Rav Aharon Rokeach – also gave the Segulah that if one follows the traffic laws with the strictures of the 10 Commandments, and also gives rides to those who need them, in the merit of these kindnesses which he does on the road, he will be saved from any bad occurrence (Shut Shevet Ha-Kehati 5:241).

All of these pieces of advice can be found in Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievsky's answer to the question: How do we know which Segulot are true? - "I only know that which is written in the Shulchan Aruch" (Segulot Raboteinu p. 321).  And the Belzer Rebbe said that there is no greater Segulah than "Yirat Hashem" (Fear of Hashem), as it says (Devarim 28:58): "If you do not observe all of the words of the law, which are written in this book, to fear this Glorious and Awesome Name of Hashem, your G-d" (Shut Az Nedbaru 1:79 #179. Beit Baruch 1, 405. Brought in Shalmei Yehudah chap. 10 note #41).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #298

Discount from the Department of Education
Q: My brother is a teacher and he receives a discount at stores from the Department of Education.  Is it permissible for me to use it?
A: Ask the Department of Education directly.
Q: I asked and they said it is forbidden since they subsidize it.
A: Yashar Koach.

Bus Reaches its Stop in Middle of Shemoneh Esrei
Q: If I am riding on a bus and Davening Shemoneh Esrei of Minchah, since it is getting late, and the bus arrives at my stop, what should I do?
A: It is permissible to get off the bus and continuing Davening there (This is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski.  Ishei Yisrael Chapter 83:43).        

Text Message Questions
Q: Why do sometimes I receive an answer to my text message questions and other times receive an answer that I should call?
A: Sometimes there are details missing which are essential in order to answer (A young girl once came on Yom Tov to the house of Ha-Rav Shmuel Salant - the Rav of Yerushalayim - to ask a question.  The Rav was learning in his room and one of his students opened the door and asked the girl: What is your question?  She said: I baked a cake today and mixed in two eggs.  Is it permissible to eat the cake?  The student didn't want to bother his Rav for such an insignificant question and he answered on his own accord that the cake was permissible.  When the Rav heard the question and answer, he came out of his room and asked the girl how she made the cake and where she got the eggs.  The girl related: My mother went to Shul and asked me to make the cake.  When I went to get the eggs from the cabinet, I only found one.  I went to the chicken coop hoping to find an egg.  I was happy that I found a fresh egg which had been laid today.  I took the egg and used it to bake the cake.  When my mother returned from Shul, I told her the whole story.  She said that there is a question regarding this cake and she sent me to ask you.  The Rav answer: The cake is permissible to eat but only after Yom Tov, since an egg laid on Yom Tov is forbidden to eat on Yom Tov.  The Rav then turned to his student and said to him: When a question comes to you which seems like a question of an ignoramus, don't be so quick to answer it.  Investigate the question and find the driving force for the question, as we learn in Pirkei Avot (1:1): Be deliberate in judgement.  Tiferet Banim of the Mattersdorfer Rebbe on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:9).

Netilat Yadayim with a Disposable Cup
Q: It is permissible to wash Netilat Yadayim with a disposable cup?
A: Yes.  Shut Tzitz Eliezer (12:23), unlike the ruling of the Shut Igrot Moshe (3:39).

Davening in Slippers
Q: If I am Davening at home, is it permissible to Daven in slippers?
A: No.  One must Daven wearing clothing in which one would stand before an important person (Ishei Israel 10:6.  And when Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein would Daven Maariv on his own in his house, if he was wearing a house robe and slippers, he would switch into his regular clothing from his shoes up to his hat.  He would even put on a tie.  When Ha-Rav Aharon Felder saw this the first few times he was confused and thought Reb Moshe was planning to go somewhere.  He asked: Where are we going?  Reb Moshe answered with surprise: I'm getting ready to Daven Maariv.  Reshumei Aharon Volume 1 p. 19).      

Yak Milk
Q: I am in Tibet.  Is it permissible for me to drink yak milk?

A: A yak has the signs of a Kosher animal but lacks a tradition that it is indeed Kosher.  Nonetheless, if an animal has Kosher signs but lacks a tradition that it is Kosher, we refrain from eating its meat, but its milk is permissible.  I heard this in the name of Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch regarding the yak.  The milk is therefore permissible.