Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #363

Honoring Rabbis
Q: I harshly admonished someone who called Ha-Rav Chaim Druckman: "Druckman" without the title of Rabbi, and asked him to leave our Shul.  Was I correct?
A: Very correct.  It is honoring the Torah (By the way, Ha-Rav refers to Rav Druckman as "Mori Ve-Rebbe" - "My teacher and my Rabbi" in Shut She'eilat Shlomo, which is unusual.  Ha-Rav explained to me: "I learned from him when I was in Bnai Akiva, and I later asked him many questions and took counsel with him over the course of many years.  I was influenced by his personality").

Tip in Restaurant
Q: Is there an obligation to give a tip in a restaurant?
A: Yes, according to the accepted amount, since a person eats there based on this understanding.
Q: What if the service is not good?
A: One should still give a tip, although it can be a little less.

Immersing Jars
Q: I sell honey.  Am I obligated to do Tevilat Kelim for all of the jars?
A: No.  It is an obligation on the buyer.  Sefer Tevilat Kelim 8:5.

Mezuzah on Caravan which was Moved
Q: I live in a caravan on a Yishuv.  They are paving a new road and are moving the caravan to a new location on the Yishuv.  Do I need to re-affix the Mezuzah when they lower the caravan onto its new spot?
A: Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu was once asked this same question and he responded that when the caravan is lifted off the ground by the crane, it is exempt from the obligation of Mezuzah, and when it is placed on the ground, it is obligated once again.  As a result, the Mezuzah must be affixed again with a blessing on account of the general principle "Ta'aseh Ve-Lo Min Ha-Asu'i" - one must perform that Mitzvah and not take that which was previously made" (Avihem Shel Yisrael – Devarim, p. 48.  Mi-Pi Eliyahu p. 79.  And so too Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein in his book "Aleinu Le-Shabeiach" Volume 6, p. 108.  And so too Ha-Rav Chaim Kanevski but he said to affix it without a blessing.  In the Parashah Sheet "Ve-Yishma Moshe" – Parashat Shoftim 5778).

Drinking in the Market
Q: Is it permissible to drink a cup of coffee while walking?  After all, the Gemara (Kiddushin 40b) specifies eating - "One who eats in the market is similar to a dog" - and not drinking.
A: This is also forbidden (One day a student was walking with Ha-Rav Beni Alon, Rosh Yeshiva of Beit Orot in Yerushalayim, and they bought drinks.  The student began to drink while walking, and Ha-Rav Beni asked him with a half smile: You are drinking in the street?  The student said but it says "One who eats in the market is similar to a dog".  Rav Beni replied with a smile: One who eats is similar to a dog, and one who drinks is similar to a puppy…  In the booklet "Le-Binyanim Amar… Yedid Hashem", p. 23).

Child with Anxiety
Q: My four-year old grandson suffers from anxiety at night and from nightmares.  What is the solution?
A: 1. To lovingly sit with him when he falls asleep.  2. To figure out if something is bothering him.  3. But this is not a question for a text message.  Tell the parents that they should talk to a child psychologist.

Medical Marijuana
Q: Is it appropriate to advance medical marijuana?
A: Certainly.  It is a great Mitzvah.  But not for any other purpose.

White Smoke
Q: What is the source for the expression: white smoke?
A: It means when a matter is finally decided.  Its source is Christian.  When a new Pope is chosen, the ballots are burned along with a substance with causes white smoke above the Vatican.  This is the sign that the new Pope has been elected.  One should not use the expression.

Checking Mezuzah Because of Illness
Q: We have recently had many illnesses in our family.  Should we check the Mezuzot?
A: If they have not been checked in three and a half years (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 291:1.  And Ha-Rav Levi Ha-Cohain Rabinowitz, author of Maadanei Ha-Shulchan, was once in the hospital on account on pneumonia and then had a heart attack.  When he returned home, his wife had a heart attack.  Their daughter asked him if they should check their Mezuzot.  The Maadnaei Ha-Shulchan asked the family if they had been checked in the last three and a half years.  They said that they were checked during the last year.  He said: there is no need to check them (Uvdor De-Rebbe Levi, p. 96).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #362

Immersing a Pocketknife in a Mikveh
Q: Does a pocketknife that includes eating utensils need to be immersed in a Mikveh?
A: Yes, while it is completely opened.

Making a Pesak Halachah for the Mashiach to Come
Q: Is it possible for Gedolei Yisrael to issue a Pesak for the Mashiach to come, which will cause an awakening above and result in his coming?
A: There are those who say it is possible, but we should instead plead with Hashem and not make demands of Him (When the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu and Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira, visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe asked them: Perhaps all of the Rabbis should gather together and issue a Pesak that the Mashiach should immediately come!  Rav Eliyahu said: If you join us, we will be a Beit Din of three judges, and we can issue such a Pesak.  The Rebbe replied: I have been ready to do so for some time, but I am only one, and need two others.  Rav Eiyahu said: We will join the honorable Rabbi…  In the book "Be-Tzel Ha-Chochma" p. 304.  See also "Ha-Melech Be-Mesibo" Volume 1, pp. 59-60. 
And during "Chalukat Ha-Dollarim" [when the Lubavicher Rebbe would distribute dollars bills to thousands upon thousands of people to give to Tzedakah] in the year 5750, the Rebbe said to Ha-Rav Moshe Stern, one of the great Poskim of America and author of Shut Be'er Moshe: "I have your Teshuvot, but it is not enough.  You have to help bring the Mashiach.  Perhaps you should write a Teshuvah ruling that the Mashiach should come."
But in the year 5771, when the Ungvarer Rav, Ha-Rav Menashe Klein, author of Shut Mishnah Halachot, visited Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and asked him to Pasken for the Mashiach to come, Rav Elyashiv politely declined: It is impossible to issue a Pesak that the Geulah should come.  But rather we must believe in it and await it).

Adopted Child
Q: Should parents who adopted a child tell him that he is adopted?
A: Eventually he will find out whether they tell him or not, and it will be a shock to him.  They should therefore tell him when he is young, and he will accept it in a natural manner and grow up with this knowledge.  They should emphasize: You are our child, because we chose you.

Coming of Mashiach
Q: How is it possible for us to expect Mashiach to arrive every day when our Sages tell us that he will arrive in the month of Tishrei or Nisan?
A: He can arrive other times through a miracle.

Rabbi's Blessing
Q: Is it worthwhile to travel a far distance in order to receive a Rabbi's blessing?
A: It is worthwhile to go to Shul to hear Birkat Cohanim, which is a blessing from Hashem, which is much greater than a Rabbi's blessing (It once happened that in the Beit Midrash of the Brisker Rav, Ha-Rav Velvele Soloveitchik, that there was no Cohain for Birkat Cohanim.  The Brisker Rav asked for people to find a Cohain and bring him.  It took about 15 minutes.  Among those Davening were two Chasidim who were clearly impatient to finish Davening, but they stayed out of fear of the Brisker Rav.  After the Davening, the Brisker Rav said to them: You will travel for two weeks with great difficulty and expensive in order to receive a blessing for a Chasidic Rebbe, which you have no guarantee will be fulfilled, but the Torah says "Place My Name on Bnei Yisrael and I will bless them", promising that the blessing will be realized, and you don't have 15 minutes?!  In the book Meged Givot Olam of Ha-Rav Michal Zalman Shurkin Volume 1, p. 98.  Ha-Rav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman also expressed surprise that people travel great distances to receive a blessing from a Rabbi instead of running to Shul to receive Birkat Cohanim, a blessing from Hashem.  Be-Orchotecha Lamdeni p. 38). 

Nickname of Prime Minster of Israel
Q: Is it permissible to refer to the Prime Minister by the nickname Bibi?
A: No.  We are obligated to honor him in a similar manner as honoring the King of Israel.  See Rambam, Hilchot Melachim Chapter 2 (Shut Orach Mishpat of Maran Ha-Rav Kook #144).

Q: I am married with many young children, Baruch Hashem.  Am I obligated to go to Shul to say Yizchor for my Mother, which would entail finding someone to watch the children?
A: You can say it at home.

Judaism Outside of Israel
Q: Should we strengthen Mitzvah observance of Judaism outside of Israel or send them a message that they should make Aliyah?
A: There is no contradiction.

Cataract Surgery
Q: Should one recite "Birkat Ha-Gomel" after cataract surgery?
A: No.  It is not a life-threatening situation (I saw that when Rav Aviner had cataract surgery he returned to the Yeshiva on the same day with a patch over his eye.  When he removed the patch, he did not recite Birkat Ha-Gomel).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #361

Kipa in the Army
Q: I am going into the army and bought a large Kipa in order to help me maintain my spiritual state.  My parents said that wearing such a large Kipa will prevent people from wanting to connect with me.  What should I do?
A: You should certainly wear a large Kipa, since this is the basic Halachah, and the purpose of a Kipa is to instill Yirat Shamayim (Fear of Heaven).  People will not connect with you based on your clothing but on your Midot Tovot (positive character traits).

Charedim and the Army
Q: How is it possible to explain that Charedim refuse to serve in Tzahal?
A: Instead of involving oneself in what is difficult to understand about the Charedim, one should learn from them to be punctilious in observing every Mitzvah, even those which seem light, and to dedicate every free moment to learning Torah, etc.

Long Peyot and Honoring Parents
Q: It really bothers my mother that I have long Peyot.  She says it embarrasses her.  What should I do?
A: Leave them and try to appease her.

Convert from Does Not Observe Mitzvot
Q: What is the status of a convert who does not observe Mitzvot?
A: If from the first moment of the conversion he did not observe the Mitzvot and deceived the Rabbis, there was no conversion.  If he did observe the Mitzvot from the beginning, but later regressed, he is a Jew like any other.

Woman Covering Hair at Home
Q: Is it permissible for a woman to be at home without covering her hair?
A: It is permissible on condition that only her immediately family is there.  It is preferable, however, to always cover her hair, even in the dark, since Hashem fills the entire world with His honor.  Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 3:1.

Reciting Prayer for the State of Israel in Place of Ketubah
Q: I am performing a wedding on Yom Yerushalayim.  What is Ha-Rav's opinion regarding reciting the Prayer for the State of Israel in place of reading the Ketubah?
A: In theory, it is a beautiful idea to honor the State of Israel, but one should not change the way our Rabbis acted throughout the generations.  The entire purpose of reading the Ketubah is to separate between the Eirusin (Betrothal) and the Nisu'im (Matrimony) (Rama, Even Ha-Ezer 61:9.  Therefore, a great Rav in America, Ha-Rav Eliezer Silver, would read the Ketubah very slowly.  See "Be-Ikvei Ha-Tzon" of Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter p. 268).  In theory, it is even possible to invite a philosopher to read Plato in Greek between them, but we do not make changes (And in America, Ha-Rav Schachter once said that in theory even a monkey could read the Ketubah in order to create a separation. Some people were angered by his remark, mistakenly asserting that he was using an insulting expression towards women.  But Ha-Rav was using a halachic expression: "The act of a monkey".  For example, the Chatam Sofer writes that it is permissible for a monkey to serve as a messenger to deliver Mishloach Manot.  Chatam Sofer on Gittin 22b.  And food prepared by a monkey is still considered Bishul Akum.  Shut Shevet Ha-Levi 9:164).

Medical Negligence
Q: Is it permissible to sue a hospital for medical negligence?  Perhaps it is ungracious after they tried so hard to help?
A: It is permissible.  1. It is deterrence against it happening again.  2. It is not necessarily the same doctor who was both negligent and effective.  3. The hospital has insurance for such cases.

Mother of Hitler, may his name be blotted out
Q: Is it true that Hitler's mother was Jewish?
A: No.  There are those who claim that his father's mother was Jewish, but this has no basis.

Picture of the Rambam
Q: Is the famous picture of the Rambam really the Rambam?
A: No.  He doesn't have Peyot at all.  It is a later picture of someone who is wearing Turkish clothing.

Difficult Pregnancy
Q: My wife has difficult pregnancies, and nonetheless still wants to have another child.  The problem is that I also suffer from this, and it has a damaging effect on our relationship (Shalom Bayit).  Is this a reason to not have another child?
A: Just as your wife courageously enters pregnancy to have another child, you should do the same (see Meshech Chochma on Bereshit 9:7).  You should therefore be brave, and you will benefit two-fold: having another child, and learning to overcome difficulties.

Q&A on Alzheimer's

Q: Which is preferable for a person with Alzheimer's – to be home with limited resources or in a medical facility rich in resources?
A: At home.  He feels better there, and it slows down the progression of the illness.
Q: When there is no choice, can a child help a parent in the bathroom or shower even though it is immodest?
A: Yes (See Pesachim 51a.  Aruch Ha-Shulchan, Even Ha-Ezer 23:8.  Shut Shema Avraham #70).
Q: Sometimes the behavior of a parent suffering from Alzheimer's goes beyond the limit.  Am I still obligated in honoring one's parent?
A: Yes, to the best of your ability (See Rambam and Raavad, Hilchot Maamrim 6:10).
Q: Is a person suffering from Alzheimer's obligated in Mitzvot?
A: To the best of his ability, and where he is mentally aware (See Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 1:120).
Q: I don't have the strength to care for a person suffering from dementia.
A: One needs great self-sacrifice to care for a loved one.
Q: Is there any advice for a person suffering from Alzheimer's who forgets to perform Mitzvot and violates transgressions?
A: Writing in a notepad.  And for Shabbat – pre-made sticky notes.
Q: Is it permissible to violate Shabbat for a medical procedure which will extend his life?
A: Yes.  It is considered a life-threatening situation.  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 328:5 (Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:91.  See Shut Tzitz Eliezer 8:15 #7.  Shut Bigdei Shesh 1:42 #4).
Q: Is it permissible to violate Shabbat for a medical procedure which will help him remain mentally stable for a longer period of time?
A: Yes (Shut Tzitz Eliezer ibid. #9, 1.  Shut Bigdei Shesh ibid. #5).
Q: Should one pray for his recovery?  After all, there is no medical cure.
A: Certainly.  1. In order that the illness does not worsen.  2. There is constant research and perhaps a cure can be discovered.  3. That he should feel good, as much as possible.
Q: If the person is suffering greatly, is it permissible to pray for his death?
A: Yes (Ketubot 104a).  However, it is on condition that it is for his benefit and not to ease the burden on the family (Shut Tzitz Eliezer Volume 5, Ramat Rachel #5.  Volume 7 #49).
Q: In general, how should one relate to a person suffering from Alzheimer's?
A: With love and respect.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #360

Thoughts about Someone's Death
Q: I thought about a particular person dying.  Can this person die because of my thoughts?
A: Certainly not.  Ignore all of these badgering thoughts.

Stone that Fell From the Kotel
Q: A stone fell from the Kotel, and it is really bothering me.  What does it mean?  What should we do?
A: Thank Hashem that no one was injured.

Netilat Yadayim by a guest
Q: Should a guest avoid using large quantities of water for Netilat Yadayim, since it is at the host's expense?
A: It is an insignificant amount of water and the host forgives the cost with all of his heart.

Taking a Shower
Q: Is there a Mitzvah to take a shower?
A: It is a positive character trait of cleanliness and health.  Rambam, Hilchot De'ot Chapter 4.

Davening by a Soldier
Q: I am a soldier and work as a driver for a high-ranking officer.  Sometimes we leave early and I do not have time to Daven.  Should I drive faster in order to make it to Davening?
A: No.  1. Pikuach Nefesh (life-threatening situation).  2. One who is engaged in one Mitzvah is exempt from another Mitzvah.  You can Daven before you leave, however, even if it is early (ShutYechaveh Daat 2:8).

Crib Death
Q: I just read that in order to avoid Crib Death, one should lay the baby on his back. My grandmother told me to lay a baby on his stomach.  What should I do?
A: This is a medical question.  You should therefore ask doctors.  If the doctors said one way and then changed their opinion, the latter opinion is followed, just as in all scientific research.  We still do not know what causes Crib Death, but the doctors do say that laying a baby on his back is beneficial in this case.

Dormitory or Home
Q: Which is better for Yeshiva high school by, a dormitory or home?
A: Each one has its advantages.  It depends on the child, and is therefore a personal decision.

Book in the Geniza
Q: Is it permissible to take a book from the Geniza, or is it stealing?
A: It is permissible.  It is Hefker (abandoned).

Woman Reciting Kaddish
Q: Is it permissible to help make a Minyan in a mourner's home where a woman is reciting Kaddish on her own?
A: No.

The Chinese are Human Too

The Chinese are human too.  We are talking about believers of Falun Gong who have been subjected to horrible persecution for nearly 20 years.
The State of Israel is still a small country, and we can’t fix the rest of the world, but we must protest and shout against injustice, suffering and evil.  One can say: "How is that useful?"  It is very useful!  The truth is that every time there is a protest in our country of any sort against these persecutions, the Chinese embassy responds aggressively demanding that we immediately cease our actions.  It’s a sign that this is helpful.  In general, one must know that if there is injustice in the world, and the intellectuals protest against it – then there is hope.  However, if the intellectuals put their heads down and remain silent – then everything is lost.
To those who don’t know, Falun Gong is a group, a movement, an ideology or a spiritual practice of body and mind that improves health through exercises. We are, of course, not Falun Gong, we are the Nation of Israel with our Jewish heritage, that is however not a reason to torture them.  The Chinese government demonizes them for their supposed irrationality, superstitious beliefs, being in conflict with Marxist ideology, bringing so called harm to the government, creating youth crisis and the government makes a variety of other misleading claims against them.   It is not our duty to check if these claims are true or not, or who is right or wrong.  Perhaps both sides are incorrect, but that is not our issue.  We are against torture.
The many tortures that Falun Gong practitioners undergo in detention at this moment are reminiscent of Mao’s style of repression and maybe even worse. Below is the list of tortures that are taking place in Chinese prisons right now:
- Beatings
- Electrical shocking of the sensitive parts of the body
- Being tied up in uncomfortable positions for weeks
- Inmates’ legs are burned with coals
- Being subjected to freezing temperature
- Being force-fed through a nose or a mouth
- Insertion of bamboo sticks under the fingertips
- Insufficient and poor nutrition
- Sleep deprivation
- Denial of bathroom use and other basic hygiene
- Rape and gang rape
- Choking
In addition, other forms of persecution are taking place: expulsion from academic institutions, expulsion from workplace, burning of spiritual books, forced labor camps, forced re-education camps, all of which results many times in death.
The horrible atrocities extend to organs being harvested from live Falun Gong practitioners and then sold for tens of thousands of dollars. 
Of course, China denies all the claims, but various committees from different countries, objective bodies, human rights councils and other organizations came to a conclusion that all of it is true and still occurring.  Due to this, the American Congress as well as European countries decided to act against this. The new “organs transplant law” was passed in our country to stop public funding for organ transplants in China.

There is time to be quiet and time to shout.  
In this case, it’s time to shout.

There was a recent protest in front of the Chinese embassy in Tel Aviv and other events are expected in the future.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #359

Prohibition of Hitting Soldiers (1)
Q: In a text message, Ha-Rav wrote that it is a severe transgression to hit a soldier.  What is the prohibition?
A: It is good that you ask questions, but have patience.  When you get to Kindergarten, you will learn about it.

Prohibition of Hitting Soldiers (2)
Q: Where is it written in the Torah that it is forbidden to hit a soldier?
A: In order to atone for this horrible question, find five sources by yourself.

Da'at Mikra
Q: What is Ha-Rav's opinion of the commentary Da'at Mikra on the Tanach, published by Mossad Ha-Rav Kook?
A: On the whole it is good, but it is not deep.

Air-Conditioner in Class
Q: What should we do if there is a disagreement in class whether or not to turn on the air-conditioner?
A: Decide together.
Q: And what if we unsuccessful?
A: Thank Hashem that such situations arise so we can learn how to decide together, which as an extremely important life skill.

Students of Rabbenu Ascending on the Temple Mount
Q: How is it possible that Rabbis who are students of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda ascend to the Temple Mount, despite the fact that it that he was completely opposed it?
A: It is not our role to judge Rabbis.

"Baruch Mechaye Ha-Meitim" For Someone whose Pulse Stopped
Q: If someone's pulse stopped for a few minutes because he had a heart attack, should we recite the blessing of "Baruch Mechaye Ha-Meitim" - Blessed is the One who Resurrects the Dead"?
A: In general, we only recite this blessing when one has not seen and heard from his friends over the course of twelve months (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 225:1), but I heard that one Gadol did recite this blessing over another Gadol whose pulse stopped (It once happened that Ha-Rav Baruch Dov Povrasky, Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovez in Bnei Brak, came to visit Ha-Rav Yaakov Edelstein, Rav of Ramat Ha-Sharon, after his pulse stopped working for 6 minutes.  Rav Povarsky recited the blessing of "Baruch Mechaye Ha-Meitim" in its entirety with Hashem's Name and Kingship, and Rav Edelstein answered Amen.  When Ha-Rav Nisan Karelitz later came to visit and heard about this, he said that one only recites this blessing when one has not seen and heard from his friend over the course of twelve months.  When Ha-Rav Chaim Kaniesky was asked about it, he was in doubt and said that the issue needs to be studied.  And in Shut Mishnat Yosef [10:52], he said that it seems that this issue seems to revolve around the doubt of the Chidah whether one who died and came back to life must remarry his wife.  See Beit Matityahu 2:14 #7.  Shut Ha-Shoel 2:91).     

Learning Torah for Bagrut (High School matriculation exams)
Q: Is it permissible to learn Gemara for the Bagrut?  It is not learning Torah for it's own sake.
A: 1. Learning Torah not for its own sake is also very important.  And so too learning Torah for an academic degree.  See Shut Yechaveh Da'at 3:74.  2. It is possible that learning Torah for the Bagrut can be for its own sake.

Resurrection of the Dead
Q: When the Mashiach arrives will there be no more death?
A: Resurrection of the dead occurs long after the coming of the Mashiach.  See Rambam, Hilchot Melachim Chapter 11-12.

Learning Gemara according to Maran Ha-Rav Kook
Q: What was Maran Ha-Rav's Kook method for learning Gemara?
A: Regular, as has been done throughout all the generations.

Military Medals and Pins
Q: Is there a problem of arrogance in wearing military medals and pins on one's Tzahal uniform?
A: It is national pride, which is positive.

Retirement for a Woman
Q: I am retiring.  What can I do in life to fill my days?
A: Acts of kindness - first for your family and then for all of Am Yisrael.

Shechina in Our Home
Q: What can my wife and I do in order to bring more of the Shechina into our home?
A: Davening, Torah learning and Cheshbon Ha-Nefesh (making an accounting of one's spiritual level).