Shut Mivtza Tzuk Eitan – Q&A on Operation Protective Edge

Unity from the Time of the Kidnappings

Q: What can I do in order to help continue the amazing unity among Am Yisrael that began during the time of the teens' kidnapping?

A: Speak with others, telling them that what binds us together is greater than what seperates us.  By the way, there is a place which has even greater unity: Tzahal!


Hamas as Agent of Hashem

Q: Is Hamas an agent of Hashem, causing us to atone for our transgressions?  And if not, why doesn't Hashem destroy them and make it easier for Am Yisrael?

A: For the same reason that since the time of Kayin there are evil people and murderers in the world (see Ha-Rav's book "Ve-Gavar Yisrael" which discusses the problem of evil in the world and why bad things happen to good people).


Warning Siren in the Middle of Shemoneh Esrei

Q: What should a person do if he is in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei and hears a warning siren for an incoming missile?

A: He should run to the bomb shelter and continue to Daven the Shemoneh Esrei there.  This is based on two factors: 1. It is a case of a life-threatening situation.  2. Walking in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei without speaking is not considered an interruption.  For example, if I am Davening the Shemoneh Esrei and a child is bothering me to the point that I cannot concentrate, I can move to another place.  Or if I am Davening by heart and I cannot remember "Ya'ale Ve-Yavo," I can go and get a Siddur.  Speaking is forbidden, but there is no problem of moving if there is a need (Mishnah Berurah 104:2).  Therefore, if I am in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei and I hear a warning siren for an incoming missile, I should go to the bomb shelter without talking and continue to Daven where I left off (Piskei Teshuvot, Orach Chaim 104.  Shut Be'er Moshe 3:13.  Nes Lehitnoses by Ha-Rav Yoel Schwartz at the end, in the Q&A of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein during the Gulf War #39). 


Missiles Will Not Fall on the City of…

 Q: A Rabbi said that missiles will not fall in a particular city.  Is it permissible to rely on him and not enter the bomb shelter?

A: In general, one should obey the directives of the Home Front Command.  But you should ask the Rabbi directly (These were the words of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievsky regarding Bnei Brak, based on the promise of the Chazon Ish.  However, I heard that Rav Kanievsky said that one should go into the bomb shelter in order to feel distress with the rest of Am Yisrael.  See Rashi on Shemot 17:12).


Operation Protective Edge and Torah Learning

Q: If I learn Torah in order to protect myself from the missiles, is it considered a violation of "One who makes unworthy use of the crown [of Torah] shall pass away" (Pirkei Avot 1:13)?

A: No.  It is considered learning Torah not for its own sake (see Nefesh Ha-Chaim, Sha'ar #4.  Shut Yechaveh Daat 3:73).


Missile Fire

Q: Does one who goes out of his house during missile fire, violate "Guard your soul very carefully" (Devarim 4:10).

A: One is always obligated to follow directives of the Home Front Command and not try to outsmart them.


Feelings during Operation Protective Edge

Q:  During this time, should we be frightened, recite Tehillim and Daven, based on the idea that we should cry out to Hashem during a time of distress, or should we not get excited and continue in our routine in order to show that we will not bow to terror and will not be scare us?

A: Continue on with strength and courage during our state of war, which began with the establishment of the State of Israel.  But a courageous person also Davens to Hashem, as we see with Yaakov Avinu before his meeting with Esav: He sent gifts, Davened and prepared for war (Rashi on Bereshit 32:9).


Helping Tzahal

Q: What can I do in order to help Tzahal be victorious?

A: Repent, Daven and give Tzedakah.  It is already certain, however, that Tzahal will be victorious, but you can help make the process faster and less costly. 


Sleeping in a Bomb Shelter

Q: It is permissible for me to sleep in a bomb shelter with my husband if other men are also there?

A: Yes, in a corner.


Adding to the Prayers during Operation Protective Edge

Q: In light of the 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.


Operation Protective Edge and Traveling Southward

Q: I live in Northern Israel.  Is it permissible to travel to the Kotel for a Bar Mitzvah when missiles are currently falling in Yerushalayim and the south?

A: It is a negligible risk.  You may travel unless the Home Front Command says otherwise (see Piskei Teshuvah, Yoreh Deah 157).

Jewish Terror in Revenge for the Murder of the Three Teens

Q: What is the law regarding the Jews who murdered the Arab teen?  Is it permissible to take revenge on the Arabs for the murder of the three Jewish teens?

A: 1. A person is considered innocent until proven guilty.  2. It is certainly forbidden to murder one person on account of another person's transgression.  In general, it is forbidden to murder a non-Jew.  After all, ours souls were at Mt. Sinai and heard: Do not murder.  In any case, it is the terrorists who should be punished, not civilians.  3. Punishing terrorists must not be via the act of individuals, but rather through the decision of the entire Nation, i.e. via Tzahal, with the Government's permission, since the consequences are paid by the entire Nation.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #260

Making Aliyah

Q: When I make Aliyah, should I kiss the tarmac at the airport or wait until I get to actual rocks or dirt of Eretz Yisrael?  Do I recite Shehechiyanu and when?

A: Yes, kiss the tarmac.  And recite Shehechiyanu before kissing the ground (see the booklet "Oleh Chadash").


Religion or Nation

Q: Some claim that it would be good for us to have separation of religion and state in the State of Israel.  

A: Judaism is not a religion, it is a Nation - a Nation with a religion (as indicated by the blessing over Torah learning: "Who Chose us from all of the nations and [afterwards] Gave us His Torah").



Q: Many people testify that they have seen aliens.  Is this true?

A: Nonsense.  People have made such claims for 60 years and there is not one proof in the world which verifies them (When the first man walked on the moon, a huge dispute erupted over whether there was life on other planets.  The Satmar Rebbe - Ha-Rav Yoel Teitelbaum - exerted with total certitude that there was no life on the moon.  If there was life on the moon, he reasoned, the Ponevizher Rav – Ha-Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, who was a most successful fundraiser for his yeshiva in Bnei Brak, would have gone there collecting!  Builders, by Chanoch Teller, p. 352).


The Drink "BLU"

Q: Is it proper for a religious youth to drink energy drinks such as BLU?

A: It is forbidden, even for non-religious youth.  It contains much caffeine which is dangerous.


Ha-Rav Chanan Porat

Q: Even if a Rabbi waives his honor, his honor is not waived since it is not only his honor but the honor of the Torah.  Why then do we refer to Ha-Rav Chanan Porat Ztz"l by his first name?

A: The Halachah is that a Rabbi's honored may be waived, but he is not allowed to waive all of the Torah's honor.  I, the humble, therefore always called him Ha-Rav Chanan (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240:7).



Q: I worker as a ticket-checker on the bus to ensure that the passengers pay.  Is it permissible for me to wake up someone who is sleeping or is it considered stealing sleep (Gezel Sheina)?

A: You are obligated to wake him.  Stealing sleep (Gezel Sheina) is based on the Mitzvah of "Love your fellow as yourself", and here it is necessary (see Piskei Shlomo Volume 3, "Stealing"). 


Traveling on Shabbat

Q: If a person drives his wife to the hospital to have a baby on Shabbat, can he use Waze in order to take the shortest route?

A: Yes, activating Waze is a Rabbinic prohibition, while traveling extra is a Torah prohibition (See Ha-Rav's commentary on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Volume 3, Chapter 93).


Charedi or Religious-Zionist

Q: I am in doubt what to be.  Who is correct - Charedim or Religious-Zionists?

A: Depends on what issue.

Q: So which path should I take?

A: Torah.  "We will do everything which Hashem said".  Shemot 24:3.


Picture of the Even Ha-Shetiya

Q: Is there a problem with seeing a picture of the Even Ha-Shetiya (the Foundation Stone, which is on the Temple Mount and is on the spot where the Kodesh Ha-Kedoshim stood)?

A: It is forbidden, since it was photographed by someone, whether a Jew or non-Jew, who transgressed by entering the Temple Mount.


Kopi Luwak

Q: Is Weasel Coffee Kosher?  The coffee beans are eaten by small animals, digested and defecated whole, and ground into coffee.

A: There is a doubt.  There is a dispute if the urine of a non-Kosher animal is forbidden (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreah Deah 81:1).  The beans also absorb the secretions from the digestive system, which is what gives it taste.  It is therefore a doubt (see Techumin Volume 31, p. 423 which leans towards permitting it).  Nonetheless, it is forbidden on account of Bal Tashchit since the cost is astronomical. 

The Admor who Stands in Bavel and Sees a Carcass in Eretz Yisrael

In the wake of our tremendous pain over the murder of the three innocent teens, a desire has arisen within the Nation to understand why this has happened.  The Admor of Satmar, who dwells in the Exile, claims that it is a punishment for the teens learning in the "Settlements" and blames the parents for sending them to learn there.

We fear that assigning such blame may violate the prohibition of "Ona'at Devarim" (distressing others). As the Gemara in Baba Metzia (58b) says, one may not speak to one who is suffering affliction or illness, or whose children have died, the way Iyov's friends spoke to him: "Surely your fear was your foolishness, your hope and the sincerity of your ways" (Iyov 4:6).  And we can add that the Rishonim on this Gemara write that the problem is not only causing distress to another person but also arrogance in thinking that we can know the ways of Hashem.

This recalls the reciprocal placing of blame that occurred following the horrors of the Holocaust: Some said that it happened on account of Zionism, others said it was because there was not Zionism. Still others blamed it on the Enlightenment.  Each group's explanation came from its own biased outlook, with no regard for the idea: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways" (Yeshayahu 55:8).

As is known, the uncle of the Admor of Satmar, Ha-Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, wrote a book "Va-Yoel Moshe" which is based on the idea that the murder of the holy ones during the Holocaust was because of Zionism and the Return to Tzion.  But the great Rabbis of Israel have already answered that if the main transgression was Jews making Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael in an organized fashion, then the first Jews to make Aliyah should have been murdered.  Yet those who came to Eretz Yisrael and "violated" the Three Oaths (according to the Satmar Rebbe's opinion) were saved, and those who did not make Aliyah were the ones who were murdered! (See the book "Alo Naale" - Response to Va-Yoel Moshe #43).  The number of Jews murdered during one day in Auschwitz alone was, in fact, higher than that of all of the Jews murdered in all of the wars and terror attacks since the beginning of the Return to Tzion.  Today - with the kindnesses of Hashem upon us - there are almost half a million Jews who live in Yesha. Therefore the Admor of Satmar's claim is not valid.

Regarding the question itself, whether learning in Yesha is permissible: this was already asked of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rabbi of "Ramat Elchanan" (neighborhood in Bnei Brak).  A student was learning in a Yeshiva in Yesha and his parents were opposed on account of the danger.  Ha-Rav Zilberstein proves that "a frequent damage" (Pesachim 8b.  See Mesilat Yesharim, end of Chapter 9), into which a person should not place himself, is five percent.  Baruch Hashem, 5% of the residents in Yesha are not murdered!  And Ha-Rav Yitzchak Isaac Herzog, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, proves based on Shut Rabbi Akiva Eiger (#60) that a frequent danger is not five percent, but one in a thousand (Shut Ha-Rav Herzog Vol. 1, p. 269).  Baruch Hashem, one in a thousand Jews is not murdered in Yesha.  The basic halachah is therefore that there is nothing to fear.  Obviously, nothing is 100% certain, but nowhere in this world is 100% safe, not Yerushalayim and not Tel Aviv, and it is all based on the definition of "a frequent damage".  We agree with the Admor of Satmar that there are many Arab murderers in Eretz Yisrael, but we must see things in proportion.  We have already been living in Yesha for 40 years and the number of murders that occur there is extremely low.  The same is true in all of Eretz Yisrael.  We must remember that according to a report of the WHO, World Health Organization, 8 out of 100,000 Israeli citizens are murdered each year. That's compared with 15 out of 100,000 citizens in France, and 25 out of 100,000 Americans.  Therefore, it is more dangerous for the Admor of Satmar, may he live a long and good life, Amen!, to live in America than to live in the "Settlements"!

We must thank Hashem, and his loyal agents - Tzahal, the police, the Mossad, the Shabak and the rest of the security establishment - day and night for the peace and quiet we merit in our Land. 

In the Gemara in Chullin (63b), Rabbi Abayu asks: Why is there a bird called "Ra'ah" (the one who saw)?  He answers: Because he stands in Bavel and sees a carcass in Eretz Yisrael.  The great Rabbis explain that this is a parable to someone who dwells outside of Eretz Yisrael and see the deficiencies in Eretz Yisrael and speaks Lashon Ha-Ra against it…

This obviously in no way detracts from the incredible merits of the Admor of Satmar in strengthening Torah and fear of Hashem in America, and we pray regarding them: "May our eyes behold Your return to Tzion in compassion".

The Murder of the Kidnapped Teens HY"D: Shut SMS - Text Message Q&A #259

Where did all the Prayers Go

Q: Where did all the prayers, Tehillim, Mishnayot and acts of kindness, which were said and performed for the kidnapped teenagers who were murdered, go?

A: To the same place as all of the prayers from the time of the Holocaust, from 2000 years of the Exile, and from all of the sick and suffering.  We are not idol worshippers who believe that prayer is magic which forced something on some god.  Prayers are not wasted, but service of Hashem is not doing business.  


The Three Kidnapped Teens

Q: What should we tell young children about the murder of the kidnapped teens?

A: It is impossible with such deep and sensitive matters to relay the "facts", which someone else told you to say.  Rather, you should relay what you understand and feel.  Things that come from the heart enter the heart.


A Person's End

Q: Is it true that when a person's end, which Hashem has decreed, arrives, he will definitely die, and Hashem has many agents to do his work?


Collective Punishment

Q: Following the murder of the kidnapped teens, is it permissible to collectively punish the Arabs?

A: According to the basic Halachah, it is forbidden to punish one Arab for the crime of another Arab.  However, when we are engaged in a war, we must wage war.  This idea is also accepted among the non-Jews.  During the Second World War, the Allied Forces bombed Berlin and destroyed neighborhood after neighborhood, until they reached the bunker of Hitler, may his name be blotted out, who then committed suicide. The Allied Forces killed two million people during the conquest of Berlin and no one said a word because they understood that there was no choice. This is what Carl von Clausewitz, a military theorist, refers to as "Absolute War," i.e. we prefer not to wage war but if we are forced to go to battle, we are obligated to do so in the most cost-effective way in which we save the most lives and equipment.  King Shaul already said to the "Keni" (Shmuel 1 15:6): "Go, depart, go down from among Amalek, lest I destroy you with them."  This means, even though you are my friend, if you are there, you could get hurt or killed.  And this is all the more so when terrorists hide among civilian populations.  If innocent people are thereby wounded or killed, it is they who are guilty, not us.  We are all for "Purity of Arms" and for saving civilian lives.  But which civilians?  Our civilians, who are being attacked (This is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Shaul Yisraeli in the book "Amud Ha-Yemini" at the end of chap. 16).


Work with Arabs

Q: There are Arabs in the place that I work.  After the kidnapping and murder of the teens, I am unable to work with them or even look at them…

A: Do to the best of your ability and remember that not all Arabs are murderers.


Death Penalty for Terrorists

Q: Is it proper to impose the death penalty on terrorists?

A: Yes. In order that they not murder again, and so that others see and fear, and do not murder (Shut Igrot Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 2:68).


Murder of the Kidnapped Teens

Q: What is Ha-Rav's reaction to the murder of the kidnapped teens?

A: For hundreds of years, the Arabs have been cowardly, weak, debased and unsuccessful in the military, cultural, economic, familial and ethical realms.  350 million Arabs around us, supported by a billion Christians and another billion Muslims, have feared the State of Israel for over 40 years and do not dare wage war against us.  They are jealous of our successful and ethical young State, and they therefore murder teens.


"Death to Arabs"

Q: Why is it forbidden to say "Death to Arabs"?

A: Because it is not true. Only murderers and those who aid them are deserving of death.

Q: What is the source?

A: Do not murder.

We must remember that we are dealing with an enemy.  We are at war.  During war we are not merciful to the cruel.  One who is merciful to the cruel is cruel to those who require mercy (Tanchuma, Parashat Metzora 1; Yalkut Shimoni Shmuel 1 #121).  We are the merciful and they are the cruel, and when you are merciful to the cruel, you are cruel to your brothers and sisters.  This is a war like any other war.  There is a concept of the Total War which means that, while we do not look for wars (we are a Nation which loves peace, searches for peace, and loves all people), if someone attacks us, we respond with all our might.  When the enemy "merely" shaved half of the beards of some of King David's soldiers and tore their clothes, he went to war.  In a war, the most important aspect is deterrence.  You cannot place a soldier on every square meter.  The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (vol. 1 #41) discusses his national philosophy and writes that the secret to security is deterrence.  One must therefore strike his enemy with all his might.  It makes no sense to provide terrorists, evil people and murderers with electricity, gas and weapons!  Are you crazy, providing terrorists and murderers with weapons?!  The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (15-16) says that it is forbidden to provide regular murderers with weapons, and you give weapons to these people, not only in the past but also now?  Have you lost your mind?!  This mercifulness towards the enemy is harming us.  Other countries need to understand that we need to fight with all our might.  Perhaps they will yell and scream, but they would do that anyway, regardless of what we do.  I remember a joke – though it is certainly not a night for jokes – from Meir Uziel, a comedian and grandson of former Chief Rabbi Rav Uziel: in the competition among the 200 nations of the world for "Ms. Ethical", we always come in last place, since we are the only ones who show up!  We must certainly be ethical, but to our brothers, not to the enemy.  During the Second World War, the Allied power destroyed neighborhood after neighborhood in Berlin, because everyone understood that there was no other way to wage war.  Did King Hussein of Jordan deal with Black September with kid gloves?  No, he killed 17,000 Palestinians and ended his Intifada once and for all.  President Assad killed 21,000 Palestinians in one month when there was an uprising in Syria.  And when Hamas wanted to take over Gaza, they killed many, many people.  This is the language they speak and understand.  This is how we must deal with them.

I remember that a terrorist once attacked a woman in Neveh Dekalim.  She lay down on the baby carriage to protect her baby, and he stabbed her fifteen times in the back.  By some miracle, someone came and shot him and saved her.  Later, an unethical reporter interviewed the rescuer on the radio and asked: "How do you feel after killing a person?"  He responded: "The thing which I killed was not a person."  I remembered this and quoted it various times.  I once met someone and I said "shalom."  He said: "You don't know me but you quoted me.  I am the person who killed that thing which was not a person."  I said: "Yashar Koach – Way to go.  Your actions followed what the Rambam says in Moreh Nevuchim (vol. 1 #7)."  The Rambam discusses the "demons" mentioned in the Gemara.  He says that a "demon" looks like a person on the outside, but is a wild animal on the inside.  It is more dangerous than a wild animal in that it has intellect.  People periodically ask me: Is the theory that we came from animals true?  I answer: "I do not know.  I was not there.  The question, however, does not bother me.  What bothers me is whether we have ceased being animals."  We must therefore wage war with strength and courage and strengthen the Nation of Israel in our Land.

All for One!

Our hearts tremble over the fate of the three dear teenagers who were kidnapped.  The heart of the Nation is trembling.  You learn from here that we are one Nation.  In the Exile we were a scattered and dispersed Nation among the other nations - scattered not only geographically but also spiritually, from one another.  We have now returned to being one Nation.  "And who is like Your Nation Israel one Nation on Earth" (Shmuel 2 7:23).  We no longer say that each of us is on our own.  We all feel the distress of our kidnapped brothers.

We feel and we pray for them.  Some learn Torah to bring about their release, and others light candles, and some do uncomparably more.  These are the soldiers who enter deep into the cities and fields, and who risk their lives.  This is the greatest gift, since there is nothing more precious to a person than his life.

This is our motto: All for one and one for all!  Although this is not a Jewish saying (its source in Latin), we have adopted it for ourselves.  Truthfully, though, it has been our motto from the moment we crossed the Jordan River and swore that every Jew is responsible for one another.  During the Second Temple Period this unraveled, and we reached a point where each person was out for himself.  To our great distress, this was the only way for us to survive.  But towards the end of the Exile Jewish solidarity returned, "All Israel becoming comrades" (Birkat Ha-Chodesh).  Every Jew concerned about every other Jew, everyone working for the sake of one person.  This solidarity was preparation for returning to a state of Klal Yisrael.  We returned to being one Nation.  Three teenagers are kidnapped, and it is not "their" issue in which we help out, rather it is all of our issue, a national issue, a Klal Yisrael issue.

Some pray, some light candles, some learn Torah, some cry.  And above all of them, is one who takes his weapon and his life in his hand for a fellow Jew.  When one Jew is in danger, a million rise up to save him. 

"And who is like Your Nation Israel one Nation on Earth".