Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #332

Cell Phone on Shabbat
Q: I have a relative who is a Holocaust survivor and on Shabbat she was telling me what she went through.  Suddenly, she pulled out a cell phone and showed me a picture.  Did I commit a transgression?
A: No.  This is considered a benefit that comes to a person against his will.  Pesachim 25b.

Exercising on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible for me to exercise on Shabbat if it saves me from depression and lying in bed the entire day?
A: Certainly.

Aliyah or More Religious
Q: Which is preferable - to make Aliyah or to be more religious outside of Israel?
A: Good question, but in the long run, the Exile is spiritually dangerous.

Comparing Jews to Nazis
Q: A high-ranking Tzahal officer compared Jews to Nazis.  How should we relate to this?
A: This is what is called "Godwin's Law". If a discussion goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone else to Hitler.  This obviously causes the entire value of the discussion to be lost (see "Godwin's Law" in Wikipedia).

Protection for a Mourner
Q: If a mourner needs to walk in the street, does he require an escort?
A: If there are other Jews in the street, he does not require an escort.  A bride and groom require an escort since they are similar to a queen and king.  A mourner, however, requires an escort so he will not be alone, and if others are in the street, he will not be alone.  See Piskei Teshuvot 239:11 (When Rav Aviner was sitting Shiva for his mother z"l, he came to the Yeshiva one morning so that the students could pay a Shiva call without having to travel far and thus missing Torah learning.  He told me that when he walked through the Kotel Plaza, he did not require an escort, but when he walked through the so-called Muslim Quarter he would need one).

Error in Number of Loops on Tzitzit
Q: Does an error in the number of loops on Tzitzit make them invalid?
A: No.

Babylonian Talmud
Q: Why do we learn the Babylonian Talmud which is from the Exile and not the Jerusalem Talmud, which is a product of Eretz Yisrael?
A: 1. The Babylonian Talmud is written extensively and there are many commentaries on it, while the Jerusalem Talmud is written briefly and has merited few commentaries.  2. The Babylonian Talmud is not exilic.  It is an expansion of the Mishnah, which is a product of Eretz Yisrael.

Army in the Time of Mashiach
Q: Will there be an army during the time of the Mashiach?
A: Yes.  The Mashiach will wage great wars.  See Rambam, Hilchot Melachim Chapters 11-12.
Q: But it is written: "Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears" (Yoel 3:10)?
A: That will occur much later.  See Rambam, ibid.

Dulling of the Heart to Save One's Life
Q: If someone is obligated to eat non-Kosher food because he is in a life-threatening situation, does the food cause him "dulling of the heart" (dulling of one's spiritual sense, "Timtum Ha-Lev")?

A: No. Maran Ha-Rav Kook writes in his book "Musar Avicha" (p. 19) that the dulling of one's heart comes from violating a prohibition and not from the food itself (Yoma 39a.  And see Meharsha on Shabbat 33a).  Therefore, someone who eats non-Kosher food which is permitted to him, does not experience a "dulling of the heart" (Ha-Griz Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav, also holds this way.  Uvdot Ve-Hanhagot Mei-Beit Brisk Volume 2, p. 50.  As well as Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski in his book "Orchot Yosher" #13).

Parashat Devarim: Video Dvar Torah by Rav Aviner - Come and Possess Eretz Yisrael - Promise and Command



The entire book of Devarim is one long speech given by Moshe Rabbenu before his death and before Israel enters the Promised Land. In his humility, he had protested to being appointed, saying: “I am not a man of many words” (Shemot 4:10). Forty years later, at the age of 120, he encompasses the whole history and geography of Israel in his final speech - addressing both the individual and the Nation as a whole.

Throughout the past century, a great debate has been going on regarding whether it is up to us to conquer and settle the land, or whether we should sit and wait for G-d’s promise to be fulfilled. This week’s parashah contains the promise: “See, I have presented you with the Land” (Devarim 1:8). Although this seems to imply that G-d will ensure that we get the Land, we are immediately commanded: “Come and possess the Land which Hashem swore to your fathers, to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, to give to them and to their descendants after them” (ibid.). “Hashem swore,” but it is up to us to ensure that His word be done. It is both a promise and a command. We must not rationalize that if Hashem swore, there is nothing for us to do but sit and wait. It is precisely because He swore that we know that our efforts are meaningful, and that they will bear fruit. We must conquer and settle the Land.

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner's Newest English Book - Prophecies for the Generations

Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim
Presents
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 Third Book in the Series
Prophecies for the Generations
Explorations into the Haftarot
In our times there is so much to see, so many miracles which Hashem performs for His Nation.  One must therefore open one’s eyes in order to see the natural fulfillment of the messianic prophesies in the return to Zion, the desert blossoming once again, the Land being rebuilt, the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jews gathering from their places of exile, Tzahal's victories, the booming economy and the Torah spreading throughout the entire length and width of the Land.  The promises of Hashem through the prophets are materializing before our very eyes.

Other books in series currently available:
Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Volume 1 [Revised addition]

Price per book: $25 or 80 NIS (shipping included)

To order: 02-628-4101 [in Israel] or toratravaviner@gmail.com

Thought for the Beginning of the Three Weeks - Hashem Hiding His Face

Question: Why do we say that Hashem hides His face in the world (Hester Panim) when Hashem is everywhere?

Answer: Hashem can be found everywhere, but He sometimes hides; He is here but we cannot see Him. This means that everything which occurs in the world is under Divine direction, even strange events such as destructions, but Hashem is hiding. The Torah says: "I will surely hide My face" (Devarim 31:18). "I will hide" – He is there but we cannot see Him. "He was standing behind our wall, observing through the windows, peering through the lattices" (Shir Ha-Shirim 2:9). The Shechinah (Divine Presence) is always there but there are different levels. For example, Pirkei Avot says (3:6): If ten people learn Torah the Shechinah rests among them…and where do we learn that even five?...and where do we learn that even three?...and even two?...and even one? If the Shechinah is found with one person learning Torah, then why does the Mishnah have to begin with ten people?  Go directly to one person.  Answer: there are different levels of intensity by which the Divine Presence is found in a particular place. There is a level of the Shechinah dwelling when we are in our Land during the Redemption. There is a level when we are in Exile which is called "Shechinta Be-Galuta – the Shechinah in Exile." When the Temple is standing, the Divine Presence rests among us more, and when the Temple is not standing, less so. Hashem is now slowly returning His Divine Presence to Zion. We are in an intermediate stage. He is hiding His face, because there is suffering and pain, and it is impossible to say that we have reached the complete Redemption. But we are not in Exile – pursued, plundered and murdered. In the Haggadah of Pesach, we say: "The day is approaching which is neither day nor night" (from the song "U-ve'chain Va'yehi Ba-chatzi Ha-liela" at the end of the Seder). It is like twilight, there is both darkness and light at the same time. Even though we are certainly waiting for the day which is completely “day,” we know that the Redemption comes "slowly, slowly."

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner Has Some Sound Advice For Bayit Leumi MKs Regarding Halacha

https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/1310103/rabbi-shlomo-aviner-sound-advice-bayit-leumi-mks-regarding-halacha.html 

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #331

100 Blessings a Day
Q: Does the requirement to recite 100 blessings a day begin from the morning or the night?
A: From when three stars come out at night.  Piskei Teshuvot 46:10.
Q: Who established this obligation?
A: King David.  And some explain that he re-established a decree that had been forgotten.  Ibid. #9.
Q: Are women obligated to recite 100 blessings each day?
A: It is a dispute.  Ibid.

Gemara Aids
Q: Is it permissible to use a Gemara which has vowels and punctuation?
A: Yes.  It is very good.
Q: But one must learn with toil?
A: Don't worry.  There is toil with this as well.

Choosing an Apartment
Q: We found an apartment that fills our needs.  Do we need to ask a Rabbi for approval to buy or rent it?
A: No.

Religious-Zionists and Charedim
Q: Are we as Religious-Zionists closer to the secular Jews or to Charedi Jews?
A: To the Charedim: we have the shared goal of creating a holy State, even though we have a difference opinions on how to get there.  With the secular Jews, we have a difference of opinion regarding the goal itself.
Q: Why do we always talk about connecting with the secular Jews but not with the Charedim?
A: This is a mistake.  We need unity among the entire Nation.
Q: Are we obligated to help the Charedim do Teshuvah regarding their relationship to the State of Israel?
A: We are obligated to help ourselves do Teshuvah.
Q: Should we force the Charedim to join the Army?
A: No.  Things such as this cannot be forced.  We have to have patience.  There are more Chardeim going into the army each year.  Following the enactment of the new law, however, which forced them, the number declined significantly.  The exact opposite of what we want.

Cohanim During the Winter
Q: How will Cohanim work in the Beit Ha-Mikdash during the winter when they are barefoot?
A: The same as in the past: with self-sacrifice.

Dispute in the Gemara
Q: Is it logical that there are so many disputes in the Gemara?
A: They are very few disputes.  There is agreement on 99% of the issues, and disputes about only 1%, but the disputes fill up 99% of the Gemara.

One Book or Many
Q: Is it preferable to learn one book at a time or many books?
A: One book.  One should focus.  What one does, he should do well.  However, a person should learn Torah in a subject that his heart desires (Avodah Zarah 19a).  Therefore, if his learning in many books at a time brings more blessing than learning one book, he should do so.

Transgressions in Eretz Yisrael
Q: Which is worse – transgressions outside of Eretz Yisrael or within Eretz Yisrael?

A: Within Eretz Yisrael, since rebelling against the king is more severe than rebelling in the street.  Therefore, according to the Terumat Ha-Deshen and the Sha'arei Tzedek by the author the Chayei Olam, one who is not a Tzadik should not make Aliyah.  The Halachah, however, does not follow them.  Rather, one should make Aliyah and strengthen his commitment to Torah (see Alo Naale #56).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #330

Pesak Halachah before Blessing over Learning Torah
Q: If someone asks me a halachic question before I recite a blessing over learning Torah, is it permissible to answer?
A: Yes, if you answer without given the reasoning (even if you think about the reasoning).  Piskei Teshuvot 47:3.

Endangering Children for Settling Eretz Yisrael
Q: Is it permissible for parents to live in a place in Eretz Yisrael where there is some level of danger involved, or are they endangering their children?
A: Children follow their parents.  Shut Me'il Tzedakah brought in Pitchei Teshuvot Even Ha-Ezer #75.

Establishing Yeshivot
Q: Should we establish Yeshivot in every place?
A: Yes.  A Yeshiva is the heart of life in every place.

Calming a Baby in the Middle of a Blessing
Q: If I am in the middle of reciting a blessing and my baby starts crying, is it permissible for me to make signs with my hands and smile at him to calm him down?  After all, it is forbidden to do anything in the middle of a blessing.
A: After the fact, it is permissible, since calming the baby will aid in reciting the blessing properly.  Piskei Teshuvot 191:2.

Photograph on Shabbat
Q: What should I do if someone is taking a picture of me on Shabbat?
A: Refuse.  If it does not help, turn around or cover your face.

May the Merciful One Bless the State of Israel
Q: Should one add into the Birkat Ha-Mazon: "May the Merciful One Bless the State of Israel, beginning of our Redemption" and "May the Merciful One Bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Force"?
A: There is no need.  These ideas are already included in the Birkat Ha-Mazon.

Direction of Davening at the Kotel
Q: Should one Daven straight at the Kotel or on an angle towards the Dome of the Rock which was the spot of the Beit Ha-Mikdash?
A: No one knows where the Beit Ha-Mikdash stood.  Although the Radvaz said that the Dome of the Rock is on the spot of the Beit Ha-Mikdash, Poskim have already pointed out that the Radvaz himself has a few contradictions regarding this issue.  Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch writes that the Radvaz says this is in the name of the Arabs and one cannot rely on their testimony.  Furthermore, he brings in the name of the Zohar that the location of the Temple is hidden in the ground and is unknown.  And the Arizal said that nothing will be built on top of the spot of the Beit Ha-Mikdash (Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 3:39).  And when someone said to Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski that today we know where the Holy of Holiest is located, and we should therefore Daven on an angle, he responded: We don't know anything (Le-Binyamin Amar p. 84).

Silver and Gold Wedding Anniversary
Q: Is the custom of celebrating a Silver or Gold Wedding Anniversary upon 25 or 50 years of marriage forbidden on account of "Chukot Ha-Goyim" (following the practices of the non-Jews)?
Q: No.  It is a proper and logical celebration in order to increase love and fraternity, peace and friendship (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah #175).

Unemployment Check
Q: I receive an unemployment check each month.  Is it permissible for me to work if the payment for this work will only be given to me after my unemployment benefits end?

A: Ask the unemployment office directly.