"May his name be blotted out" for a Jew

Question: I have heard that Ha-Rav said that it is forbidden to say "May his name be blotted out" for an evil Jew, even if he opposes the Nation and Land of Israel. Is this correct?
Answer: One must certainly fight against such ideas, but this does not mean that it is permissible to say "May his name and memory be blotted out." I did not invent this. It is said in the name of the Sochachover Rebbe, the author of "Avnei Nezer." The proof is quite simple. If a man dies childless, his wife must marry the brother of her deceased husband. This is called "Yibum." The Torah says that the reason for "Yibum" is so that "his name is not erased from Israel" (Devarim 25:6). But what should I care if his (the evil Jew's) name is erased? If I say "may his name and memory be blotted out," what is the problem if his name is erased from Israel? There is no halachah, however, which eliminates the need to perform "Yibum" for a sinning Jew (Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha-Ezer 157:3). This therefore means that I must be concerned that his name not be erased from Israel. It is true that he is a sinner, but there is a solution: He can repent. This is based on what Beruriah said to Rabbi Meir in the Gemara in Berachot (10a). Rabbi Meir had evil neighbors who had caused him much distress, and he prayed that they should die. His wife said: "Doesn't it say in Tehillim (104:35), 'Let sins cease and let the wicked be no more.' It does not say 'Let sinners cease,' but 'Let sins cease.' You should pray that they repent, not that they die." In fact, he prayed for them to repent, and they did. Therefore, we should not say "may their names and memories be blotted out," but we should pray for them to repent.

The Laws of IDF Uniforms (Hebrew)


The Laws of IDF Uniforms 
By Shlomo Aviner
Edited by Mordechai TzionHava Books
Jerusalem, 2017
87 pages
You will not find a section on the laws of army uniforms in the Shulchan Aruch. Classical texts of Jewish law do not discuss proper treatment of army uniforms for a simple reason: while Jews served in the armies of many countries, they did not serve in their own army since the times of Bar Kochba. After nearly 2,000 years, that changed with the establishment of the State of Israel. Does halachah reflect that change?
Rabbi Mordechai Tzion (formerly Friedfertig) translates, edits and publishes the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. In this short book, Rabbi Tzion arranges Rabbi Aviner’s rulings regarding IDF uniforms according to the order of the Shulchan Aruch. Following the list of rulings are questions posed to Rabbi Aviner and his answers, along with Rabbi Tzion’s expansions and citations of contemporary responsa. Rabbi Aviner is famous for his breadth of knowledge, love of Israel and fearless pursuit of religious ideals. Rabbi Tzion’s remarkable mastery of contemporary halachic literature adds color and context to Rabbi Aviner’s answers and great treasures for researchers.
Issues range from the religious significance of IDF uniforms to proper attire for prayer to preferred dress for Shabbat. Can a soldier pray in his uniform? Does a soldier say the Shehecheyanu blessing on receiving a new uniform? May a soldier in mourning rip his uniform at a family member’s funeral? According to Rabbi Aviner, yes, yes and yes, with extended explanation by Rabbi Tzion.
Rabbi She’ar Yashuv Cohen, zt”l, surprised Jerusalem rabbis when he arrived at his 1953 wedding wearing his IDF uniform rather than the shtreimel that was more common at Jerusalem rabbinic weddings. On being asked whether this was appropriate, Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook responded that the shtreimel is revered because of the great and holy people who wore it. In contrast, the IDF uniform is intrinsically holy. (See also the Ba’al HaTurim to Vayikra 6:3). This book is a tribute to the great mitzvah of defending the Jewish
State and a helpful guide to religious IDF soldiers.
Review by Ha-Rav Gil Student

To order:

New English book from HaRav Shlomo Aviner - 11th Book in Series - Tal Chermon - Bereshit

Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim
Torah from Zion Project
English Books of
Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shlit"a
Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. Rav of Beit El & one of the leading Rabbis of Religious-Zionism today.  One of the most prominent students of Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, who followed directly in the footsteps of his father, Rav Kook.  Author of more than 150 Hebrew books filled with love of Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael & Torat Yisrael, tolerance & love to all Jews, guidance for harmony within the Jewish family, dedication to the State of Israel & Tzahal, and facing the most pressing questions of the day.    

Our 11th Book in the Series
Tal Chermon - Bereshit
When Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner served as the Rabbi of Moshav Keshet in the Golan, in the shadow of Mt. Chermon, he delivered a weekly class on Parashat Ha-Shavua focusing on its connection to our national and personal soul.  The name of the book "Tal Chermon" literally "The Dew of Chermon" is based upon the verse "Like the dew of Chermon which descends upon the mountains of Zion" (Tehillim 133:3).  We pray that these beautifully-crafted discussions on the Parashah help the waters of Torah descend upon the Land of Zion and the entire Jewish People as we together experience the revival of our Nation in our Land, and individually experience personal growth.

Other books in series currently available:
1. Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Volume 1 [Revised addition]
2. Prophecies for the Generations - Explorations into the Haftarot
3. Rabbenu - Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook
4. Heroes of the Tanach
5. On the Air with Rav Aviner
6. Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Volume 2
7. Commentary on Yonah
Price: $25 or 80 NIS (shipping included)
To order: email - toratravaviner@gmail.com
or call in Israel: 02-628-4101

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #356

Davening for Woman
Q:  As a woman, is it preferable for me to Daven at the Kotel where it is difficult for me to concentrate or at home where it is quiet?
A: At home where it is quiet.

Canceling Soccer Game
Q: How should we relate to the soccer team from Argentina canceling their game (which was supposed to take place in Yerushalayim) on account of threats they received?
A: Competitive sports are nonsense.  B. It was supposed to take place with severe desecration of Shabbat. 

Tefillin in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei
Q: Is it permissible to look in a mirror during the Shemoneh Esrei to make sure that my head Tefillin are in the correct spot?
A: No.  1. One fulfills the Mitzvah of putting on Tefillin if it is in the correct spot on one's head for the amount of time it takes to walk 4 Amot (6 feet).  2. Even if it moves a little to the side, one still fulfills his obligation.  3. One should not be involed in other activities in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei.

Son Who is Distant from Torah
Q: Our 18-year-old son is distant from Torah and returned home with an earring.  As his mother, do I need to tell him that he should not return home until he removes the earring?
A: Your son is worth more than a text message.  If you want, you may call my wife.  In general, issues such as these are not solved through coercion but through trust.

First-Born Goat
[There is a Torah Mitzvah is give a first-born Kosher animal to a Cohain.  The Cohain sacrifices it in the Beit Ha-Mikdash and eats the meat with his family members in Yerushalayim.  If the animal has a blemish, it cannot be sacrificed but it is still Kosher, and the Cohain may eat it as "non-holy" meat.  After the destruction of the Beit Ha-Mikdash, the only permissible way to eat its meat is if it has a blemish (as there is no possibility to sacrifice it).  At the same time, it is forbidden to intentionally cause a blemish on a first-born.  As a result, when there is a first-born animal, the Cohanim must care for the first-born animal for a long period of time until a blemish somehow develops.  Since there is a fear that a Cohain will cause a blemish because of the hardship of caring for the animals, our Rabbis made a decree that if he does so it is forbidden to slaughter the animal.  There is also a fear that during our time people will shear the animal for its wool or work him, even though it is forbidden to get any benefit from the animal.  The Rabbis therefore suggest that before the animal is born, one makes an agreement of joint-ownership with a non-Jew, which exempts one from the Mitzvah of the first-born animal and the need to give it to a Cohain.]
Q: A first-born goat was born on our Yishuv.  Before it was born a partnership was not made with a non-Jew.  While it is forbidden by Halachah to cause the animal to have a blemish, the laws of the State of Israel require one to make a hole in the animal's ear and place a number in it.  Does this count as a blemish to permit the animal?
A: 1. Placing a number in the ear is only a small hole.  One needs a significant blemish to permit the first-born.  2. I have not lived on a Kibbutz for nearly 40 years, so you should ask the Rav of a Kibbutz or a Moshav who answers such questions all the time (It once happened with Ha-Rav Reuven Ha-Cohain Katz, when he served as the Rav of Petach Tikvah, that there was a knock on the door of his house and when he opened it, he saw a goat tied to the door with a silver sign engraved: "A present for a Cohain, a first-born, for the honorable Chief Rabbi".  Rav Katz was unable to figure out what to do with the goat, so he rented a field in the courtyard of Yeshivat Lomza in Petach Tikvah, and care for the goat for a few years until the goat died.  Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef related his story.  And see the book "Ma'aseh Ish" [volume 7, pp. 68-69] that in the Yishuv Bnei Re'em, where Ha-Rav Nachman Kahane of Spinka was serving as the Rav, a first-born animal was born and the owner forgot to make a partnership with a non-Jew.  Rav Kahane traveled to Yerushalayim to asked Gedolei Yerushalayim for all the details relating to the issue.  He met Ha-Rav Amram Blau, who told him to go to Bnei Brak and ask the Chazon Ish, who was not yet well-known.  The Chazon Ish wrote him 28 Halachot explaining all of the details).

Divorced Rabbi
Q: Is there a problem to learn Torah with a divorced Rabbi?
A: No.  If he is a good person.  And one should not learn Torah with a married Rabbi if he is not a good person.

Name from Tanach
Q: Is there are obligation to give a child a name from the Tanach?
A: No.  After all there is Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Tarfon.  But you should name him/her with a Jewish name and not a non-Jewish name.

When Will it be Permissible to Ascend to Har Ha-Bayit
Q: Maran Ha-Rav Kook and Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah forbid ascending to the Temple Mount.  When will it be permissible for all of Am Yisrael to ascend?
A: In order to build the Beit Ha-Mikdash.  The spot is therefore called "The Temple Mount", the mountain of the Temple and not for another purpose.

Dream Chaser
Q: There is a Native-American piece of jewelry called a dream catcher.  Can one buy one?
A: It is nonsense.  The source is from Native-Americans and adopted by the New Age movement.

Guests or Torah Learning
Q: When guests come to visit my parents, do I have to sit and talk to them or can I go and learn Torah?
A: Talk for a short time and then go and learn.

Yearning for Prayer
Q: What can I do so I have a yearning to Daven?
A: Read Mesilat Yesharim many times.

Traveling to Uman to the Grave of Rebbe Nachman

Q: Is it permissible to travel from the Land of Israel to Uman (Ukraine) to visit the grave of Rebbe Nachman?  What about for one who lives outside of Israel?  Whether on Rosh Hashanah or during the rest of the year?
A: This is a new "custom" based on the statement of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov: "Anyone who visits my grave and gives eighteen coins to Tzedakah will merit life in the World to Come." One may only leave Israel for a Mitzvah (see Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 5:9 and Tosafot to Avodah Zarah 13a). Anyone who violates this, we hope that he will repent. Worse than this is one who travels under the impression that he is performing a Mitzvah, because how will he then repent?! Visiting the graves of Tzadikim (righteous people) is not defined as a Mitzvah – not a rabbinic Mitzvah and not a Torah Mitzvah; it is a positive act. Based on this, Maran Ha-Rav Kook ruled that we do not leave Israel to visit the graves of Tzadikim and he wrote "are we without graves in the Land of Israel that you travel to the Exile?!" (Shut Mishpat Cohain #147).
It is true that Rebbe Nachman said: "Anyone who visits my grave and gives eighteen coins to Tzedakah will merit life in the world to come," but Avraham Avinu is greater than Rebbe Nachman. Rebbe Nachman himself said this. Anyone who goes to Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah in Hevron and gives eighteen gold coins can be certain that Avraham Avinu will aid him. Furthermore, know that the Land of Israel is holier than Uman. Rebbe Nachman himself said this.
Also know that it is not enough to visit a grave and give eighteen coins to Tzedakah to be worthy of life in the World to Come, but one needs to perform acts of loving-kindness, learn Torah and perform the Mitzvot. And it is not proper to spend thousands of shekels to travel there. You should give the money to Tzedakah. The value of traveling there is unclear, but giving Tzedakah is clear, it is an explicit verse in the Torah.
Also, if you leave your wife alone and sad on Rosh Hashanah, know that you will not leave guilt-free from the Heavenly Court.
The custom of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was to stand across from the national cemetery on Mt. Herzl and say: "These are the graves of the righteous who died sanctifying Hashem's Name. Why should I travel far distances?"
Therefore, go to Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah.
[Note: A collection of other leading Rabbi's statements on this issue –
Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu: "It is not proper to leave Israel on Rosh Hashanah or during the rest of the year, and it is preferable for one who wants to pray at the graves of Tzadikim to visit the graves of Tzadikim in the Land of Israel – Hevron, Kever Rachel, Kever Rashbi – who was the teacher of Rebbe Nachman, etc… – and not to leave Israel for the impurity of the lands of the other nations."
Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv: "Go daven at the Kotel."
Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef: "How did the grave of Rebbe Nachman become more important than the graves of the Rambam and Ha-Gaon Rav Yosef Karo?"
Ha-Rav Dov Lior explained how absurd is the thought-process who those who travel to Uman: "People travel to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in order to ask him to help them to travel to the grave of Rebbe Nachman so they can make a request of him."]

Kosher Cheeseburger?!

Question: I heard that the OU gave Kosher certification to a "Cheeseburger", which contains no dairy and no meat, but rather is made from water, wheat protein, potato protein and coconut oil.  Isn't there a problem of "Ma'arit Ayin" (the appearance of violating the prohibition) of eating meat and dairy together?

Answer: It is permissible for two reasons:
1.    It is true that our Sages decreed that one may not eat almond milk with meat unless one leaves the almonds out for everyone to see (Rama, Yoreh Deah 87:3).  Today, in many health circles, almond milk is common. It's in most supermarkets these days (but one wouldn't notice if not looking for it).  Also, there are people who routinely use almond (or rice or soya) milk as a Parve milk substitute or because they are allergic or sensitive to milk. 
Similarly, today everyone has seen and knows about veggie burgers. There is therefore no problem of "Ma'arit Ayin" of eating a veggie burger with cheese.
2. We do not make new decrees. That which our Sages decreed is decreed, and that which our Sages did not decree is not decreed. They did not make a decree against eating Parve burgers with Parve cheese. Perhaps you will say that they did not make a decree because such a thing did not did not exist at their time, but it is included in the original decrees of "Ma'arit Ayin." The halachic authorities explain that we do not make such an argument and it is not included.
I remember when I was a little kid and they invented Parve margarine. People ate the margarine with meat and other people did not know what it was. Many people were strict and put the wrapper on the table. There is also non-dairy creamer which looks like milk. There is a responsum of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef in Shut Yechaveh Da'at (3:59) which permits these items because they are well publicized and everyone knows about them.
Perhaps because this Parve "cheeseburger" new, one such make a clear sign that it is completely Parve.

Short & Sweet- Text Message Q&A #355

Living in the Heart of the Old City of Yerushalayim
Q: Is it forbidden to live in the Old City of Yerushalayim on account of "You shall surely safeguard your soul" (Devarim 4:15, 23:11)?
A: No.  It is a Mitzvah.  1. Settling Eretz Yisrael requires Mesirut Nefesh.  2. It is not more dangerous than living elsewhere (I heard that when Ha-Rav Yitzchak Shlomo Zilberman decided to move to the Old City and live on Ma'alot David Street, his brothers-in-law, who were important Torah scholars, brought him to a Din Torah before Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, for endangering their sister and nieces and nephews.  Rav Zilberman said that he is not obligated to appear before Rav Elyashiv since he is not his Rav but rather his father is his Rav.  Nonetheless, he agreed to go.  During the Din Torah, the brothers-in-law talked at great length about the danger involved in moving there.  Rav Elyashiv stopped them in the middle and said: Until you bring a letter from the Police Chief on the Yerushalayim District saying that it is dangerous and forbidden to live there, what you are saying is Lashon Ha-Rav against Yerushalayim!
I also heard that in Shevet 5778, a couple wanted to move into a newly-redeemed house in the Old City next to the Lion's Gate, where no Jews lived, and when Jews move into a new area, Arabs often awaken and riot.  They asked Ha-Rav Amiel Sternberg, Rosh Yeshivat Har Ha-Mor, if it is permissible to move there.  He answered: It is a personal decision.  One who does not move there is not considered a coward, and one who does move there is not considered irrational.  It depends on 1. The feelings of the couple.  2. The future plans, i.e. for more families to move into the area when possible).

Olam Ha-Ba for Animals
Q: We had a dog who was loyal and dedicated, and he died.  Does he go to Olam Ha-Ba?
A: No.  He does not have a soul.
Q: He only existed in this world?
A: Correct.  By the way, on a completely different level, there are many Atheists who do not believe in Olam Ha-Ba, and nonetheless display great self-sacrifice to be good and upright in this world, and see it as a value in and of itself.

Religious Zionist Torah Scholars
Q: Why does the Religious Zionist community have fewer Torah scholars than the Charedi community?
A: The Charedi community has existed for 2000 years, while the Religious Zionist community was born, or more precisely, revived, together with the establishment of the State of Israel.

Postpartum Depression
Q: I am depressed after giving birth.  I have always been strong.
A: It is natural.  It occurs to one in six women.  But you should seek professional help.  There is a free support program at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

Ritalin on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to take Ritalin on Shabbat in order to Daven and learn properly, or is it forbidden based on the prohibition of taking medicine for an illness on Shabbat?
A: Yes. 1.  It is not certain that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is considered an illness.  2. One suffers greatly without Ritalin.  3. In our day, medicines are not made at home.  4. In our day, medicines are not made by a grinding process.  5. It is proper to be strict and to hide the Ritalin in food on Friday before Shabbat and then eat it on Shabbat.

Kashering and Immersing Utensils
Q: Which does one do first, Kasher a utensil or immerse it in the Mikveh?
A: Kasher it.  Otherwise, it is like a person immersing in a Mikveh holding an impure creature (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 121:2 in the name of the Rashbam).

Sleeping Guard
Q: The guard at the entrance to the school fell asleep.  Should I wake him up or is it Gezel Sheina (stealing one's sleep)?
A: You certainly wake him up.  He is stealing from those paying him and he is endangering people.  Waking him is also for his own good.

Cutting the Line in the Bank
Q: Can a person who is waiting in line at the bank have his friend join him when it is his turn, and let the friend also perform a transaction?
A: No.  He helps his friend but at the expense of others (Baba Metzia 8a). 

Finding Money on Shabbat
Q: I found money on Shabbat, gave into temptation and took it.  I deeply regret it.  What can I do?
A: Accept upon yourself not to do it again and give the money to Tzedakah.