Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #290

Wonderful Dream
Q: I dreamed that I received an amazing house from Hashem.  What does this mean?
A: You will certainly receive an amazing house, but we do not know when: now, in ten years or through your offspring.

Talmud of Rav Steinsaltz
Q: Is it permissible to use the Talmud of Rav Steinsaltz?  I heard that great Rabbis said that in includes problematic parts.
A: 99.9% is not problematic.  Skip those parts.

Chess
Q: Is there any educational worth for children to play chess?
A: It is a smart and good game.  The essence is not to overdo it.

"Vayechulu"
Q: If I did not say "Vayechulu" with the community on Shabbat night because I was still Davening Shemomeh Esrei, do I need to recite it with someone else or can I recite it alone?
A: There is no obligation to say it with another person, since it is not actual testimony (which requires two witnesses). But some are careful to recite it with another person (The Mishnah Berurah [268:19] wrote that this section is testimony regarding the Creation of the World, and testimony requires two people. But the Chazon Ish (38:10] wrote that one should not be particular to recite it with another person since there is a fear of bringing witnesses to testify regarding whether the Creation really took place. There is however a tradition that the Chazon Ish changed this mind regarding this practice – Ma'aseh Ish vol. 4, p. 121 and vol. 7 p. 145).

Tzitzit without a Kippah
Q: It is difficult for me to wear a Kippah, but I have taken it upon myself to wear Tzitzit.  Is it permissible to wear Tzitzit without a Kippah?
A: You also need to wear a Kippah!  Yirat Shamayim – Awe of Hashem! (Rama, Orach Chaim 2:6.  Mishnah Berurah #11).

Dybbuk
Q: Is there such a thing as a Dybbuk (a possessive spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a deceased person)?
A: Yes, but the majority of times what is referred to as a Dybbuk is in fact a mental disorder. When the Satmar Rebbe visited Israel they brought him a person with a "Dybbuk" so he could remove it. He said: Send him to a good psychologist.

Learning Kabbalah
Q: Why don't they learn Kabbalah in Yeshivot?
A: Kabbalah is only proper for unique individuals who have filled their stomach with the entire Torah (And when Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was asked about learning Kabbalah, he pointed to his stomach, smiled and said: There is still room in my stomach…, i.e. "his stomach" was still not full of Gemara and Poskim, as stipulated by the Rama, Yoreh Deah 246:4).

German Products
Q: Is it proper NOT to buy German products?
A: Yes, but it is not obligatory (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 2:442).

Sick Days
Q: My wife doesn't feel well.  Can I take sick days from work in order to take care of our kids?

A: Ask directly at your work.

Three HEBREW Books by Mordechai Tzion about Eretz Yisrael

Kum Hithalech Ba-Aretz
The Halachot of traveling in Eretz Yisrael – 2nd edition with many additions
Including "Hilchot Egged" – The Halachot of traveling on a bus – Q&A with Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner
and "Oleh Chadash" - A Spiritual and Halachic Guide to Making Aliya

Alo Na'ale
Response to the book "Vayoel Moshe" of the Satmar Rebbe
Answers by Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner
2nd edition – now includes response to Maamar Yishuv Eretz Yisrael

Shut Eretz Yisrael
Q&A regarding Eretz Yisrael from Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner, Ha-Rav Avigdor Nevenzal and Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski, and other Rabbanim
Also includes "Chaviva Lei" – Divrei Torah about Eretz Yisrael in Parashat Ha-Shavua
and "Shechon Ba-Aretz Ha-Zot" – the prohibition of leaving Eretz Yisrael from Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner

Each Sefer can purchased separately or in a box set
Perfect for anyone who loves Eretz Yisrael


Laws of Purim

1. Shabbat Clothing
It is proper to wear Shabbat and holiday clothing beginning in the evening.  One’s house should be clean and straightened up nicely to honor Purim (Rama, Orach Chaim 695:2).

2. Gifts to the Poor
One is required to give at least two gifts to two poor people, one gift to each poor person (Shulchan Aruch 694:1).  These gifts may only be given on Purim and not beforehand, during the day, and not at night. The basic law is that it is sufficient to give to each poor person a minimal amount, but the Rambam wrote: "It is preferable for a person to be liberal with his gifts to the poor than to be lavish in his festive meal or in his giving portions to his friend, because there is no greater and more splendid happiness than to gladden the hearts of the poor, the orphans, the widows and the converts. For one who gladdens the heart of the unfortunate is similar to the Divine Presence, as it says (Yeshayahu 57:15): To revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Hilchot Megillah 2:17). It is possible, however, to take money for the additional gifts from one’s yearly Tzedakah obligation. We should not be particular with regards to whom we give Tzedakah on Purim, rather we give to anyone who extends his hand to receive. If one does not find poor people on Purim, he should set aside the money and give it to Tzedakah afterwards (Shulchan Aruch 694:1-2).

3. Festive Meal of Purim
One is required to eat a pleasant festive meal, such as with meat, bread and wine.  Women are also obligated in this. There is no obligation of a festive meal at night, but one should nevertheless increase his meal somewhat. It is also proper to rejoice somewhat at a festive meal on Shushan Purim (the next day - the 15th of Adar - when Purim is celebrated within a walled city). The majority of the festive meal of Purim must take place during the day. Even if one concludes it at night, one nevertheless recites "Al Ha-Nissim" in the Birkat Ha-Mazon (Rama, Orach Chaim 695:2).
It is a proper custom to eat the festive meal only after one fulfills the Mitzvah of sending portions to friends and gifts to the poor.  If the time of Minchah Gedolah (the earliest time to Daven the afternoon prayer - approximately midday) arrives - it is forbidden to begin the festive meal until one prays (Rama, Orach Chaim 695:2). One should engage somewhat in Torah learning before the festive meal (ibid.).

4. Drinking Wine at the Festive Meal of Purim
One is required to drink wine at the festive meal, but even if he does not drink, he nevertheless fulfills the obligation of having a festive meal on Purim (Mishnah Berurah in Biur Halachah 695:2). One is not obligated to become drunk but he should drink more than that to which he is accustomed. Thus he will fall asleep, and by sleeping he will not know the difference between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai. The Meiri wrote that were are not obligated to become drunk and lower ourselves in the midst of rejoicing, "We are not commanded regarding joy of folly and nonsense but joy of pleasure which will bring out of it the love of Hashem, may He be Blessed, and thanksgiving of the miracles which He performed for us" (Megillah 7). Therefore, if one knows that he will disregard a Mitzvah (Netilat Yadayim, blessings, Birkat Ha-Mazon), or that he will not Daven Minchah or Ma’ariv, or that he will act frivolously – it is better for him not to get drunk.
Women are exempt from drinking wine.

5. Sending Portions to Friends
One is required to send at least two portions to one person.  Anyone who increases the amount given is praiseworthy, because on account of this love, fraternity, peace and friendship increase (Mishnah Berurah 695:4). We must send two types of food which may be consumed immediately, without needing to be cooked or prepared.  The sent items must be important and honorable in the eyes of the sender and the recipient. It may only be sent during the day and not at night. If one sent it earlier by mail, and it arrives on Purim, there are those who state that he has fulfilled his obligation (Shut Mahari Asad #207).
Women are also obligated in sending portions. Her husband may send it for her, but there are those who are strict that she should send for herself. Care should be taken that a woman sends to a woman, and a man sends to a man.
A boy is obligated in sending portions when he becomes 13 years old, and a girl when she become 12 years old. When a child arrives at the age of education (when they can learn proper conduct) it is proper to educate him to fulfill the Mitzvah.
Regarding one who sends to a minor under Bar Mitzvah - there are those who state that he does not fulfill his obligation. But a minor may send to a minor.
One may not send portions to someone who is mourning for his father or mother within twelve months, but it is permissible to send to his family members who are not mourners (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:2).
Regarding one who send anonymously - there are those who state that he does not fulfill his obligation.  He should therefore send another one.
An agent - even though there are those who are careful to send it only by way of an agent, one may nevertheless bring it on his own or send it by way of a minor even though he is not included in the category of those who may be an "agent".

6. One who Forgot to Say: "Al Ha-Nissim"
If he forgot "Al Ha-Nissim" in the Shemonah Esrei or Birkat Ha-Mazon:
1. If he remembers before he says Hashem’s Name, he should return and recite "Al Ha-Nissim".
2. If he already said Hashem’s Name, he should continue.
But:
A. In the Shemonah Esrei, in "Elokai Netzor " before "Yehiyu Le-Ratzon," one should add: "We give thanks to you on the miracles...".
B. In the Birkat Ha-Mazon, before reciting "Ha-Rachaman Hu Yezakeinu", one should add: "May the Merciful One perform miracles and wonders for us as He performed for our ancestors in these days at this time in the days of..." (Rama, Orach Chaim 682:1).

7. When Adar Arrives, We increase in Joy
And we continue to rejoice until the end of the month of Nissan, or until the beginning of the mourning of Sefirat Ha-Omer.

8. Learning Torah

It is also proper to make one’s soul rejoice with additional Torah learning on this day, about which the Sages of Israel were zealous throughout the generations, as they wrote (Esther 8:16): "The Jews had light" - and "light" refers to "Torah."

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #289

Serving in Tzahal and Torah Scholars
Q: Is it true that it is impossible to serve in Tzahal and also blossom into a Torah scholar?
A: You should repent for shaming Torah scholars by asking this question.  After all, many great Torah scholars served in Tzahal, including: The Chief Rabbi Ha-Rav David Lau, Ha-Rav Tzvi Tau (Nasi of Yeshivat Har Ha-Mor), Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv Cohen (Rav of Haifa), Ha-Rav Shmuel Eliyahu (Rav of Tzfat), Ha-Rav Avraham Yosef (Rav of Holon) and many others (Note: Ha-Rav Aviner also served in Tzahal – M.T.). 

Child who Talks to Doll
Q: Our seven year old pours his heart out to his doll when he is laying in bed.  Is this a problem of idol worship?
A: Certainly not.  It is not only permissible but good.

Humility in Torah Learning
Q: What should I do if the Tosafot's words do not seem logical?
A: You need humility to realize that they are logical.  It is you who is not thinking logically.  When Rabbi Akiva Eiger writes on a Tosafot: "Tzarich Iyun" - it requires investigation, he does not mean that the Tosafot requires invetigation but rather he himself requires investigation in order to understand their words (In his youth, Ha-Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, who later became Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh, spoke in learning with Reb Chaim Brisker.  A Tosafot came up and the Ponovezher Rav said that it was difficult to understand, and he repeated it a few times to emphasize that the Tosafot's words were truly difficult.  Reb Chaim disapproved of this expression and said: "The Tosafot is not difficult, only your head has difficulty understanding it."  Rabban Shel Kol Bnei Ha-Golah – Toldot Ha-Grach p. 559 note #25.  And Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef once said to his grandson that the abbreviation of the letters "Tzadi-Ayin" does not mean: "Tzarich Iyun" - it requires investigation, but rather "Tzarich Amal" – it requires toil.  Maran Shel Kol Bnei Ha-Golah p. 136).

Reusing Water Bottles
Q: Is it true that reusing small plastic water bottle is unhealthy?
A: There are those who claim that bacteria from one's mouth and hands build up in them and there is a problem with BPA.  Ask a doctor (See Wikipedia – Reusing Water Bottles).

Visiting the Sick
Q: I heard that one who visits a sick person but does not Daven for him does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.  Is this correct?
A: This is the ruling of Rama (Yoreh Deah 335:4).  But his intention is not that the person does not fulfill the Mitzvah at all, only not in its entirety.  Chafetz Chaim in Ahavat Chesed (3:3).

Student without Tzitzit
Q: If a student in my class stubbornly refuses to wear Tzitzit, should I wait patiently or demand that he put them on?
A: If he is negatively affecting others in this area, then demand it, like Shammai. If he is not, then wait patiently like Hillel. Ain Aya, Shabbat 31.

Anorexia
Q: What should be done with a young woman who is anorexic and refuses food and treatment?
A: There is no choice, she must eat and have treatment. This is a life-threatening situation. She must therefore be hospitalized.

Sadness
Q: How does one free himself from sadness?

A: Through the intellect.  By seeing things in their proper proportion, and recognizing that the most important and joyous thing in the world is serving Hashem.  Pele Yoetz, Erech "Atzvut".

Davening on the Job

Question: At my workplace, we Daven Shacharit and people generally punch into work after Davening.  Some people, however, punch in before, and are on the clock during the Davening.  Can they be counted in the Minyan and lead the Davening?

Answer: It is forbidden to fulfill Mitzvot during work time.  The book "Mesillat Yesharim" (chapter 11) brings this exact example when discussing theft.  The Ramchal said that if someone fulfills a Mitzvah during work time, it will not be considered a merit, but a transgression.  If someone performs a transgression, it cannot be considered a Mitzvah.  When a person steals wheat and makes bread and then recites a blessing, it is not a blessing, but a disgrace.  What is the difference between stealing an object and stealing time?  When someone steals an object and use it to perform a Mitzvah – "Saneigor Na'aseh Kateigor" – a defender becomes a prosecutor.  Something which is generally used as a vehicle to reach Hashem is transformed into a vehicle for sin.  The same applies to stealing time.  There are three levels of performing a Mitzvah through a sin: 1. You fulfill a Mitzvah through a sin, and now have a Mitzvah and a sin.  The sin does not cancel out the Mitzvah and vice versa.  2. The Mitzvah is canceled out because you performed it through a transgression.  3. The Mitzvah becomes a sin.  We see in "Mesillat Yesharim" that when someone fulfills a Mitzvah during work time, his act is considered a sin.  This appears to be the opinion of the Jerusalem Talmud in the chapter "Lulav Ha-Gazul – The Stolen Lulav" in Massechet Sukkah.  It is possible that others disagree with the Ramchal on this point.  If a person davens during work time and he is sinning, how then is it possible to count a sinning person in a Minyan?  We are not saying that he is evil.  A person is judged according to the majority of his actions.  It is possible that despite this sin, he has many merits.  At this moment, however, he is not davening, but sinning, and cannot be counted in a Minyan and, all the more so, he cannot lead the davening.  How do we inform him of this?  With great wisdom.  Perhaps you can photocopy chapter 11 of "Mesillat Yesharim" and highlight the appropriate parts and give it out to everyone.  I should add, however, that a short Mitzvah like Davening Minchah, which takes five to ten minutes, is permissible since you receive a break once in a while anyway.  But Shacharit takes much longer.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #288

Torah Obligation to Observe Shemitah
Q: The majority of the Nation of Israel will soon be in Eretz Yisrael.  At that point will we be obligated to observe Shemitah according to the Torah, and will not be able to use the Heter Mechirah?
A: It is not enough to have the majority of the Nation of Israel in Eretz Yisrael.  Every Tribe must be located in his portion of Eretz Yisrael.  Rambam, Hilchot Shemitah U-Yovel 10:8.  And this also applies to other Mitzvot dependent on the Land of Israel.  See Hilchot Terumot 1:26.  Hilchot Beit Ha-Bechirah, end of Chapter 6.  And introduction to Shabbat Ha-Aretz of Maran Ha-Rav Kook, Siman #2.

Instructions to Rabbi
Q: Why don't Rabbis forbid…
A: We must ask Rabbis what we are obligated to do and not instruct them what to do.

Montessori Education
Q: A nursery school teacher who follows the Montessori method of education was hired.  Is this good?
A: Very good.  It is a new educational method which aids the child in developing himself.

Mourner Answering Amen to "Ha-Makom Yenachem Etchem…"
Q: Should a mourner answer Amen to "Ha-Makom Yenachem Etchem…", or remain silent?
A: He should answer Amen, as we do for all blessings and greetings.  And I have seen this done by great Torah scholars (and this is recorded in Pnei Baruch 11:5 in the name of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 1:691, 3:377 and 4:274 and in the name of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.  Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski, however, says that the custom is to remain quiet.  Halichot Chaim vol. 2, p. 150).

Sushi
Q: Is it permissible to eat Sushi?
A: Yes, on condition that it has Kosher supervision, since there is a concern for worms.

Ritalin
Q: Is Ritalin good for kids who need it?
A: Yes, but obviously only by direction from a doctor or psychologist.

Leaving Shul
Q: Should one bow when leaving Shul?
A: Yes, just as one does when leaving the Beit Ha-Mikdash.  Rama, Orach Chaim 132:2.  Mishnah Berurah #18.

Conflict between Honoring Parents and Fulfillment of Halachah
Q: What should one do when there is a conflict between one's parents and fulfilling the Halachah?
A: One should honor his parents to the greatest extent which the Halachah allows in a pressing circumstance (Ha-Rav Elezar Menachem Man Schach told yeshiva students that their parents are not always comfortable with their customs and exactitude in observing Halachah, and this can cause arguments and strife. Therefore, in any issue in which halachic authorities write that one may be lenient when there is a "Hefsed Merubah" (major loss), one may be lenient since arguing with one's parents is a "Hefsed Merubah".  The Booklet "Halachah Ke-Rebbe Elezar" by Ha-Rav Shmuel Baruch Genot, p. 36). 

Chewing Cud
Q: What is the reason that only animals which chew their cud are Kosher?

A: To teach that one should suffice with the minimal amount.  Vilna Gaon.  This is also the why fish who have a simple "jacket" of scales are Kosher.

Rav Aviner: The Establishment of Yachad a Historical Spiritual Event