Child in his Parents' Bed
Q: Our child wakes up in the middle of the night with bad dreams and comes into our bed. Should we insist he goes back or let him stay?
A: In general, you should bring him back to his bed and sit next to him with your hand on him until he falls asleep. However, in special cases, it is permissible to let him stay if it is difficult for him.
Calling Parents by Their First Names
Q: My parents want me to call them by their first names. Is it permissible, or forbidden on account of honoring parents?
A: Their will is their honor. Tosafot Kiddushin (31b d.h. Rebbe Tarfon) in the name of the Yerushalmi.
Kippah Made from Hair
Q: Someone made Kippot out of hair. Is it permissible to wear such a Kippah outside of Israel in a place which is dangerous for Jews?
A: Some forbid wearing a toupée without a Kippah on account of Maarit Ayin. Mishnah Berurah 2:12. This is the ruling of the halachic authorities, that one needs a recognizable Kippah (This is also the opinion of Ha-Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky. Emet Le-Yaakov on the Shulchan Aruch ibid.). Nonetheless, in a pressing circumstance, it is permissible to cover one's head with a toupee (see Mishnah Berurah ibid.). This is on condition that the Rabbis of that place permit it. It is preferable, however, to wear a hat that is not unique to Jews (Piskei Teshuvot 2 note #57). It is true that if one is asked if he is a Jew, it is forbidden for him to say that he is a non-Jew. But the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 157:2) already permits one to wear non-Jewish clothing so as to appear as a non-Jew, on condition that he not declare that he is a non-Jew (Regarding this question during the Holocuast, see Shut Mi-Maamakim of Ha-Rav Ephraim Oshry 1:15, 4:12, 5:3). And there is obviously an even greater solution: Making Aliyah. Here, in Eretz Yisrael, one can proudly wear a Kippah.
Guarding One's Tongue
Q: How can I refrain from speaking Lashon Ha-Ra? It is impossible!
A: Incorrect. The more one accustoms himself to refrain, the easier it gets. Furthermore, even speaking less Lashon Ha-Ra has great value. Introduction to Sefer Shemirat Ha-Lashon of the Chafetz Chaim.
Snacks in the Dorm
Q: Is it permissible to take snacks and cookies from friends in a dormitory without asking, or is this stealing?
A: It is permissible if one is 100% sure that the friend would agree with all of his heart, and not only because he doesn't feel right refusing.
Officer of Soldiers who are Torah Scholars
Q: I am an officer in Tzahal and I have soldiers who are Torah scholars. How should I relate to them? Is it permissible for me to put them on the duty roster?
A: Everything is permissible. 1. It is the same "Pikuach Nefesh" which permits doing so for every soldier. 2. A Rav may forgo the honor due to him. Kiddushin 32a. And when a person is drafted into the army, he forgoes his honor. 3. Although a Rav may not forgo a disgrace to him, here it is for the best of the soldier himself. This is similar to the halachah which a son can make his father grind on a mill. Kiddushin 31a-b. And it is for the best of the soldier that he be part of the duty roster so that the other soliders do not complain, unless they themselves initiate exempting Torah scholars from the list. See too the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 243:a) that a Torah scholar is exempt from all types of guarding, but he is obligated if it is Pikuach Nefesh. Shut Ha-Radvaz brought in the Pitchei Teshuvot there.
Picture of the Temple Mount
Q: Is it permissible to use a picture taken by someone who entered the Temple Mount?
A: Certainly not. It was taken by way of a transgression.
Q: Why does Ha-Rav answer stupid question?
A: The person who asked the question is also a person who deserves respect and an answer. In general, it is not your role to give Mussar to others who ask questions.
פורסם על ידי Mordechai Tzion ב- 21:45
Video Dvar Torah:
פורסם על ידי Mordechai Tzion ב- 2:00
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.
Q: I have OCD. A Rabbi told me that Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv ruled that in such a case, one should be lenient whenever there is a doubt. What does "whenever there is a doubt" mean? That I don't need to ask a Rabbi every time?
A: No. Whenever there is a doubt means exactly that: whenever there is a doubt (and see the book "Religious Compulsions and Fears" by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek).
Connections (Called "Protexia" in Israel)
Q: Is it ethical to use connections in order to receive a job or benefits?
A: On condition that you truly deserve them, but are unable to attain them in the usual way.
Guest Taking Food
Q: If I am at an affair, is it permissible to take a cookie in my pocket to eat later?
A: There is a dispute whether the host gives the food to the guest or whether he gives the guest permission to eat it. In practice, if the food is on the communal plate, you cannot take it home, but if it is on your personal plate, you may. Be'er Heitiv, Even Ha-Ezer 28:32.
Placing Items in a Tefillin Bag
Q: Is it permissible to put items, such as a mirror and money for Tzedakah, in a Tefillin bag?
A: It is forbidden to place items in a Tefillin bag unless they are connected to performing the Mitzvah of Tefillin. Therefore, it is permissible to put a mirror in a Tefillin bag but it is forbidden to put in money for Tzedkah. Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Halichot Shlomo Chapter 4 #34 (A father who suspected that his son was not putting on Tefillin once asked Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein whether he could put a chocolate bar in his son's Tefillin bag in order to discover the truth. Is it permissible to place something in the Tefillin bag for the great need of educating his son? Rav Zilberstein answers that it is permissible to place a mirror in one's Tefillin bag since it serves to insure that the Tefillin are resting in their proper place and is therefore essential to the Mitzvah. This is not the case however with a chocolate bar, since it is not part and parcel of the Mitzvah and it is therefore forbidden to place it in there. In the book "Ve-Ha-Arev Na Volume 2 pp. 439-441. And when Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef went to serve as a Rabbi in Egypt, there was a so-called "Chief Rabbi". Rav Ovadiah complained to him regarding all sorts of halachic violations which needed to be fixed, such as serving Treif food in the Jewish hospital, to which he responded: "There is no problem". There was a Torah scholar who served in the Rabbinate there, Chacham Yosef Chason, who told Rav Ovadiah that this "Chief Rabbi" doesn't even put on Tefillin! And how did he know? Every morning the "Chief Rabbi" would close himself in a room with his Talit and Tefillin bag, and come out after a half an hour. Chacham Yosef claimed that all he does in that room is smoke cigarettes and nothing else! Rav Ovadiah took out the Tefillin of the "Chief Rabbi" and replaced them with onions as a test. If he actually put on Tefillin and found onions in his bag, he would scream: "Where are my Tefillin"? No such scream ever occurred… In the book "Sinai Ve-Oker Harim" pp. 97-99. But how did Rav Ovadiah do such a thing, as it is forbidden to put onions in a Tefillin bag? This was an extenuating circumstance of a spiritual life-threatening situation and a desecration of Hashem's Name).
Preparation for Tzahal
Q: What spiritual preparation should I do in anticipation of my army service?
A: Learn Mesilat Yesharim many times. And do so as well when you are in the army.
Waking Up in the Morning
Q: I have a difficult time waking up in the morning. What should I do?
A: Set a radio alarm at a high volume.
Rachel and Lavan's Idols
Q: Why did Rachel save the Terafim instead of destroying them or immediately burying them?
A: She feared that because of Lavan's deep connection to them, he would murder everyone because of them. She therefore left open the opportunity to return them to him in the case of real danger. Gur Aryeh of the Maharal.
Laser Surgery for Cohain
Q: I am a Cohain. Am I allowed to have laser surgery on my eyes or is it considered creating a blemish?
A: A blemish in one's eyes which cannot be seen does not invalidate a Cohain from serving in the Beit Ha-Mikdash. On the contrary, the laser surgery will correct the "blemish".
Refusal to Discuss Ruling
Q: Why is Ha-Rav sometimes willing to give reasons for his rulings and other times unwilling to discuss them?
A: There are times when discussion gives a level of legitimacy to an opinion which has no place in Halachah (During one of Ha-Rav Aharon Kotler's visits to Vilna, Ha-Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski showed him a letter sent to him by a certain Rabbi with a lengthy Pilpul regarding turning on and off electric lights on Yom Tov. Rav Chaim Ozer told him that he did not respond to the letter. Rav Kotler asked: Why not? Rav Chaim Ozer explained that if he responds, and the Rabbi writes back, and he responds a second time, the Rabbi could say: I discussed this issue from all sides with the Rav of Vilna in an exchange of letters, and I decided to permit it… But if I don't respond at all, he cannot argue that the issue has any standing and relate it to me. Aish Ha-Torah on Ha-Rav Aharon Kotler Vol. 2, pp. 240-241.
And the same principle was applied in response to a question that caused a storm amongst the Poskim during the Holocaust. The European countries claimed that Shechitah was "Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim" (causing undue pain to animals) and made laws that an animal must be anesthetized before being slaughtered. All the great Poskim discussed whether this was permitted according to the Halachah. During that time, Ha-Rav Aryeh Tzvi Frumer, known as the Kozhiglover Gaon, wrote an ingenious Teshuvah (Shut Eretz Tzvi 2:39) regarding this issue and sent it to the Tchebiner Rav but did not receive a response. At short while later, they met one another and the Kozhiglover Gaon asked the Tchebiner Rav why he did not answer his letter. The Tchebiner answered that although the Teshuvah was a wonder and contained strong proofs, he did not understand how one can permit it anesthetizing an animal before Shechitah. He said that when anesthesia is given to a person for the purpose of surgery, we search for an expert anesthesiologist to examine the person's condition, so that the person is not injured or killed by the anesthesia, G-d forbid. And occasionally, there are errors. In our case of giving an animal anesthesia before being slaughtered, who will examine the animal's condition and how will we know if the animal did not become Treif before being slaughtered? The reason I did answer the letter is on account of the fear that if the Polish authorities saw that Rabbis were discussing this issue, some permitting it and others forbidding it, it would strengthen them to make such a decree, claiming that it is a dispute and some Rabbis permit it. I therefore thought it best to remain quiet and not discuss the matter. Sar Ha-Torah pp. 283-284).
Nurse Returning Home on Shabbat
Q: I am a nurse. If I am working on Shabbat and my shift ends, am I permited to drive home or take a ride from a non-Jew?
A: According to Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein, it is permissible. According to Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, it is forbidden. Therefore, one should return home in a car driven by a non-Jew. If this is not possible, it is permited for a Jew to drive (Shut Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:80, 5:25. Shut Minchat Shlomo 1:8. Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach adds a note there that this issue was discussed in the important and famous book "Shut Igrot Moshe" by the Gaon and Tzadik, Ha-Rav Feinstein, and he only printed his Teshuvah after asking permission from Ha-Rav Feinstein. See Ha-Torah Ha-Mesamachat pp. 229-230. Other authorities who hold like Ha-Rav Feinstein include: Ha-Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievski in the name of the Chazon Ish. Orchot Rabbenu Vol. 1 p. 213. The Brisker Rav, Ha-Rav Velvele Soloveitchik, brought in Asiya #56 p. 64. Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 3:105, 4:80. Shut Amud Ha-Yemini #17).
Q: Is Rastafarianism considered idol worship?
A: Yes. It is a type of Christianity.
Adding to the Prayers during the Wave of Terror
Q: In light of the current situation, should we add prayers to the Davening?
A: There is no need. This is the normal state of war with our enemies, which has been going on since the establishment of the State of Israel.
Q: Why are we revolted by terrorists? Don't we believe that they are performing Hashem's will?
A: This is not Hashem's will but rather evil. A wicked person absorbs Hashem's will in a false and evil manner. See Shemoneh Kevatzim of Maran Ha-Rav Kook 3:42.
Type of War
Q: Is this war considered an obligatory war according to Halachah?
A: Certainly. According to the Rambam, one type of obligatory war is to protect Israel from its enemies, i.e. Defensive War (Hilchot Melachim 5:1). According to the Ramban, it is to conquer the Land, cf. War of Independence (Sefer Ha-Mitzvot Le-Rambam, Additions to Positive Mitzvot #4).
Do We Need an Army?
Q: I heard a Rabbi say that we do not need an army and it is sufficient to rely on the spiritual strength of Rabbis. Is this true?
A: Moshe Rabbenu waged war, as did Yehoshua Bin Nun and King David. We need both: Human effort and Divine intervention. See Niddah 70b.
Talit for Single Man
Q: Should an unmarried man wear a Talit?
A: According to Sefardim, an unmarried man wears a Talit (Kaf Ha-Chaim 8:12). According to Ashkenazim, some wear a Talit (Be'er Heitiv 17:4) and some do not (Shut Levushei Mordechai Tanina #2). But everyone must wear Tzitzit.
Standing During the Blessing for Thunder
Q: Is one obligated to stand while reciting the blessing for thunder?
A: One is not obligated to stand for the blessings of praise and thanksgiving, but it is proper to do so. Piskei Teshuvot 218:1.
To Whom Does the Kotel Belong
Q: I heard that the Arabs claim that the Kotel belongs to them and the proof is that Mohamed tied his horse to it.
A: Nonsense and lies (In the year 5690, Ha-Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Ve-Da'at in Brooklyn, said: The leaders of the nations of the world are discussing to whom the Kotel belongs – to the Jews or to the Arabs. This is shocking! We have an entire tradition in the Torah, Gemara and Midrashim relating to the Temple Mount and the Kotel: The Akedah took place there, Yaakov Avinu slept and had his dream there, King David bought the land for full price, etc…, while the Muslim have a "story" that Mohamed visited there and tied his horse to the Kotel. How is it possible that all of our rights are denied based on a story?! Rav Kamenetzky answered that it is measure-for-measure. Since we ourselves are in doubt about the traditions of the Tanach and our Sages, Hashem shows us that even the nations of the world, the majority of whom believe in the Tanach, err in what even a nursery school child knows. Divine Providence clearly shows us this fact. Emet Le-Yaakov on Pirkei Avot p. 136 #131).
Clapping During Davening
Q: What is the source for clapping during Davening?
A: There is no source, and if it disturbs other people it is forbidden (see Mishnah Berurah 101:6. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 582:9. Mishnah Berurah #24).
Text Message Q&A
Q: From where did the innovation of the text message Q&A come?
A: There is no innovation. People have always asked questions not only orally but also in letters. The same concept applies to faxes, emails and text messages.
Q: What is the law regarding a driver who accidentally hit a pedestrian, fled without helping him and caused the pedestrian's death?
A: He is a double murderer.
'Makom Kavua' (Fixed Place) at the Kotel
Q: If I Daven regularly in the same place at the Kotel, is it my 'Makom Kavua'?
A: Certainly not. No one has ownership of the Kotel. It belongs to Klal-Yisrael (Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv rules in the same way. In the book "Mi-Pi Ish" p. 213).
Growing into a Torah Scholar
Q: How does one become a Torah scholar? Is there a Bracha or Segula you can give me to ensure that this will happen?
A: Years of toiling in Torah learning (Ha-Rav Shmuel Ha-Levi Wozner, author of Shut Shevet Ha-Levi, was born into a modernish Orthodox family in Vienna and blossomed into one of the major Poskim of our time. There is a famous story about his mother. She had a beautiful voice and was invited by the famous national Opera of Vienna to perform. This would have brought her fame and fortune, but one of the leading Rabbis told her it was forbidden to sing in front of men and/or a mixed audience. He gave her a blessing that for overcoming this temptation she would merit a son who would illuminate the world. Rav Wozner often spoke about growing in Torah learning but never mentioned this story. He himself was not a gifted student at all, but by sheer desire, unending effort, and prayer he succeeded in becoming a great Posek. Rav Wozner's son, Ha-Rav Avraham Eliyahu, Av Beit Din of the "Shevet Ha-Levi" community in the Brachfeld neighborhood of Modi'in Ilit, once said that his father never related this wondrous story. When Rav Wozner was asked if it was true, he answered: "That's what they say". Rav Wozner wanted to avoid the impression that simply by the merit of a Bracha one can blossom into a Torah giant. This can only be accomplished through years of hard work and toil in Torah learning. In the book "Ve-Lo Shevet Ha-Levi Bilvad" pp. 24-25).
Tefilat Ha-Derech in Airplane
Q: When should one recite Tefilat Ha-Derech when flying in an airplane?
A: After the ascent, since there is danger if – G-d-forbid – the airplane falls (Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Halichot Shlomo 21:4).
Ruling of Ha-Rav Against What is Written in His Book
Q: I asked a question and Ha-Rav answered differently than what is written in his book!
A: Rabbis sometimes do not want to include in their books rulings which could be relied on throughout the generations. They therefore present the basic Halachah in their books, but might rule leniently when the Halachah allows, or strictly when need be when asked orally (For example, A. Regarding a Sefardi eating in a Kosher restaurant or catering hall where non-Jews cook the food. While Ashkenazim rely on the Rama [Yoreh Deah 113:7] that as long as a Jew to lights the fire, gas or electricity, the non-Jew may place the pot or pan on it and it will not be considered "Bishul Akum" – food cooked by a non-Jew (which is forbidden), Sefardim follow the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch [ibid.] that it does not matter whether the fire is lit by a Jew or a non-Jew, the essence is that the Jew places the food on it. In many Kosher restaurants or catering halls, the Mashgiach lights the fire and then the non-Jews cook. Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef, however, finds a leniency and writes that a regular employee has the same leniency as a servant. Today we do not have servants as laid out by the Torah, but when there were non-Jewish servants, it was permissible for them to cook. Non-Jewish workers are not servants in the legal sense, but the Rama [ibid. 4] says that our permanent workers have the same ruling as servants. Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef says that we have a case of a double-doubt. Regarding each individual Halachah, Sefardim do not rule this way, but there are two doubts here: perhaps the Halachah follows the opinion that a Jew lighting the fire is enough, and perhaps the permanent, non-Jewish workers do have the status of servants. It is thus possible for a Sefardi to be lenient. Shut Yechaveh Da'at 5:54. But when someone asked Rav Ovadiah this question orally, he would rule that preferably one should be strict and refrain from eating there. Yalkut Yosef – Isur Ve-Heter Vol. 2 p. 158.
B. The Chazon Ish rules in his book that it is forbidden to eat the bread of someone who violates Shabbat, but he would answer those who asked him orally that it is permissible to rely on the lenient opinion of the Tiferet Moshe. Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 1:470.
C. In Shut Az Nidberu 2:69, Ha-Rav Binyamin Zilber writes that the Chazon Ish would answer orally that one should not eat sardines imported from outside of Israel because of Bishul Akum, but since the Chazon Ish did not forbid it in his book, it may be concluded that he did not hold that it was completely forbidden. Brought in Shulchan Melachim Volume 2 p. 1083).