Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #391

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a day.  Here's a sample:
Popping Pimple on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to pop a pimple on Shabbat?
A: No, since blood comes out.  If blood does not come out but only other debris, it is permissible.

Giving Tzedakah at Night
Q: What is the source that it is forbidden to give Tzedakah at night?
A: The Arizal, but the basic Halachah is that it permissible and proper to do so.

Faith in the Redemption
Q: What is the difference if we are in the Redemption or not?
A: It is the difference of what we believe.  The Torah directs us what to do, what to believe, what to think and how to feel.

Torah Learning in Yeshiva
Q: Regarding one who comes to learn for a few years in Yeshiva: what is worthwhile for him to learn, and in what quantity – in-depth Gemara learning, broad Gemara learning, Halachah, Emunah, Musar, Tanach, etc.?
A: There are 3 answers: 1. He should follow what is customary in the Yeshiva where he learns.  The two of us cannot decide in place of your Rosh Yeshiva.  2. A person learns Torah in a place that his heart desires (Avodah Zarah 19a).  But if a person's heart does not desire, he should bring himself to a level that his heart does desire.  He should discuss it with his Ra"m in Yeshiva.  3. There is an order to Torah learning in Yeshiva for thousands of years, and who are we to change it?  The essence is to learn Gemara in depth, and to learn a little of the rest. 

Tevilat Kelim for Flower Vase
Q: Does a flower vase require Tevilah in a Mikvah?
A: No.  Only a utensil which comes in contact with food.

Civil War in the U.S.A.
Q: A Rabbi said that there will soon be a civil war in the United States, and Jews should therefore make Aliyah.  Is this true?
A: We do not have prophets which can reveal the future to us.  But it is correct that Jews should make Aliyah.

Yom Ha-Atzmaut and Charedim
Q: A feeling of hatred against Charedim arises in me every Yom Ha-Atzmaut, since they belittle the State and the army.  How can I look at them positively?
A: 1. They have many positives.  2. At the same time, theirs is a mistake within a good intention.

Change the Prayer for the State of Israel
Q: Should we change the expression "The beginning of the sprouting of our Redemption" in the Prayer for the State of Israel, since perhaps we are already after the beginning?
A: No.  It is impossible to know where we are in the process.  As long as we have not arrived at the Complete Redemption, it is possible to call it "the beginning".

Shemirat Ha-Lashon and Har Ha-Bayit
Q: Instead of Ha-Rav writing so much about the prohibition to enter the Temple Mount, isn't it preferable to focus on not speaking Lashon Ha-Ra?
A: We need to address both issues, and many others as well.  "We will do and we will obey everything which Hashem spoke" (Ha-Rav receives 400 text message questions each day.  398 are on various subjects and about 2 of them are usually about the Temple Mount – M.T.).

Hilchot Corona

Instruction of the Ministry of Health
Q: Is one obligated to listen to the instructions of the Ministry of Health regarding Corona?
A: Rabbis are not physicians.  Therefore, regarding medical matters, please turn to physicians. As the Torah states, “He must provide for his complete cure” (Shemot 21:19), regarding which our Sages commented, “Here we derive the permission that physicians have to cure people.”  The Ba’al Ha-Tanya wrote that “only the Prophets had additional knowledge regarding various matters such as [medicine and economics]… but now there are no more prophets, and even great Torah scholars like the scholars of the Mishnah and Talmud do not understand medical or economic matters, or the like” (Igeret Ha-Kodesh 22). 
Just as in a disagreement between rabbis we follow the majority, so, too, in a disagreement between physicians. For example, if there are physicians who say a patient should violate the Sabbath or should eat on Yom Kippur, and others say he should not, the Shulchan Aruch rules that we must follow the majority.  And we follow the mainstream view of the medical field.  See Ramban, Torat Ha-Dam, Sha'ar Ha-Sakanah.  The Minstry of Health is following the instructions of the majority of doctors and the mainstream view of the medical field, so one is therefore obligated to listen to their instructions.

Bikur Cholim on the Telephone
Q: Does one fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim on the phone?
A: It depends on the situation and what is best for the sick person.  In the case of Corona, one does fulfill the Mitzvah, since it is forbidden to be with him physically (Shut Tzitz Eliezer 8:5.  Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 1:223).

Q: If a person is in quarantine for Corona, what does he do about Davening in a Minyan?
A: He does not attend.  He must follow the doctors' instructions.  He is Anus (exempt because of a situation beyond his control).
Q: But I heard that if someone wants to be spared from getting Corona, he should be particular to attend Minyan, and Davening in a Minyan is like being in a safe room.
A: One must obey the instructions of the Ministry of Health.  One who is in quarantine is forbidden to attend Minyan.  One who is not in quarantine must attend Minyan as usual.  We have not heard that there is such a Segulah.

Kissing Mezuzot
Q: Should one refrain from kissing Mezuzot on account of Corona?
A: There is no halachah that we must kiss the mezuzah.  It is an expression of our love of the mitzvah. Kissing the mezuzah is not mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch. What is mentioned is placing your hand on it when leaving and entering (285:2 in the Rama). It is possible that there is no concern of transferring the illness by simply touching it but one should not put his hand to his mouth afterwards. The essence is not kissing or touching the mezuzah, the essence is fulfilling what is written within it as the Rambam says at the end of Hilchot Mezuzah (6:13) that one should distance himself from the vanities of time and cling to the Master of the Universe.  One should therefore refrain from touching or kissing Mezuzot.  This is also the ruling of the Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav David Lau Shlit"a.
Q: Does the same apply to kissing Siddurim at the Kotel and in Shul?
A: Yes.

Parashat Zachor
Q: What about hearing Parashat Zachor which is a Torah Mitzvah?
A: He is exempt because he is Anus (because of a situation beyond his control).  It is a dispute if it is a Torah Mitzvah or a Rabbinic Mitzvah.  He should read it at home from a Chumash.  He should also have intention to fulfill the Mitzvah during the reading of Parashat Ki Teitze and the Torah reader should also have this intention as well.

Megillah Reading by Telephone or Video
Q: Can a person in quarantine fulfill the Mitzvah of hearing Megillah over the telephone or by video?
A: Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter Shlit"a, a Gadol in America, was asked this question and said that in Shut Igrot Moshe (Orach Chaim 4:91), Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein rules that Lechatchila, one cannot fulfill hearing the Megillah over the telephone or through a microphone.  However, in a pressing situation, one can fulfill this Mitzvah over the phone or through a microphone since it is a Rabbinic Mitzvah (This is also the opinion of Shut Tzitz Eliezer 8:11).  In Shut Minchat Shlomo (1:9), Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach disagrees (This also the opinion of Shut Yechaveh Daat 3:54 and Shut Minchat Yitzchak 3:48.  And the Chazon Ish was in doubt about this issue – Shut Minchat Shlomo ibid. in the notes).  In our case, since it is impossible to hear the Megillah in person due to Pikuach Nefesh (a life-threatening situation) caused by Corona Virus, it is permissible to hear the Megillah via a live phone call or video (The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ha-Rav David Lau, ruled however that one does not fulfill the Mitzvah in this manner).
Q: Does one recite Amen on the blessings?
A: Yes.  Just as one would in the Shul in Alexandria. (Sukkah 52a, Shut Minchat Shlomo 1:9, Shut Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:91).  The blessing of "Ha-Rav Et Riveinu" is only recited if a Minyan is present where the Megillah is actually being read.  One can also read from a Kosher Megillah on his own.  He is not obligated to recite the Troup, but must read it correctly and be careful to stop at the end of the verses.

One in Quarantine Attending Megillah Reading
Q: If someone is required to be in quarantine and attends a Megillah reading does he fulfill the Mitzvah?
A: No.  In Shut Maharam Shick (#260) it says that if a doctor warns a person not to eat Matzah, Marror and drink the Four Cups of wine because it is dangerous for him, it is certainly forbidden for him to be strict and eat them anyway.  This is based on the Eliya Rabba (618:2) who writes that a doctor says if a person is forbidden to fast on Yom Kippur and does so anyway, we force him to eat.  And in Shut Mahari Asad (#160) it says that if a person does not obey the doctor and fulfills the Mitzvah, it is a Mitzvah performed through a transgression (brought in Sha'aryim Metzuyanim Be-Halachah 119:18).  And the Tosafot in Baba Kama (23a) already wrote that more than a person should be careful not be injured, he should take care not to injure others.

"Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah"
Q: How could someone get sick with Corona while hearing the Megillah when the Gemara states, "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah"? 
A: See the Gemara in Pesachim 8b.  "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah" is said in regard to an infrequent danger.  The example given there is one who is checking for Chametz and perhaps should check under rocks.  But he should not check because there might be snakes or scorpions under the rocks.  The Gemara asks – how so?  Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah!  Answer: This is a frequent occurrence (snakes and scorpions under rocks) and there is therefore a chance that he might be harmed.  Another example: A person has a shared wall with a non-Jewish neighbor.  Perhaps he should stick his fingers into the cracks in the wall to search for Chametz.  But, he should not check, because the neighbor may accuse him of witchcraft and cause him terrible problems.   The Gemara asks – how so?  Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah.  Answer: This is an evil neighbor and it is considered a frequent occurrence.  Thus, we do not apply this principle when there is a frequent occurrence.  The Gemara states that the proof for this idea is found in the Book of Shmuel (1 Chap. 16) when Hashem tells the Prophet Shmuel to anoint David as king.  "And Shmuel said: How can I go?  If Shaul hears he will kill me?"  (verse 2).  Hashem said: Tell him that you are going to offer a sacrifice in order that he will not be suspicious.  The Gemara asks: But he was going to perform a Mitzvah directly commanded to him by Hashem and "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah" (see Rashi).  Answer: When there is a frequent danger, even those performing a Mitzvah can be harmed.  This is discussed at length in the book "Mesillat Yesharim" at the end of chapter 9.  It is obvious that if one comes in contact with someone who has an infectious illness, it is considered a frequent occurrence and even someone performing a Mitzvah can be harmed. 

What is Hashem Telling us
Q: What is Hashem trying to teach us with the Corona Virus in the world?
A: Humility.  Man is arrogant regarding the incredible technological advances which help him control the world and thinks he is a god.  And Hashem sends a tiny microscopic creature and Man – with all of his wisdom – cannot control it.
Q: Many Rabbis says that Corona is the Mashiach.  Is it true?
A: It has nothing to do with it.

And may the following be fulfilled through us: "Heal us, Hashem and we will be healed, save us and we will be save" (from the "Shemoneh Esrei").

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #390

Blessing on Miscarriage
Q: I had a miscarriage.  Should I recite the blessing "Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet – Blessed be the True Judge"?
A: Yes.  It is bad news.  May Hashem bless you in your next pregnancy. 

Person Who was Thought Dead
Q: If people said that someone had died but he was actually alive, what message is that for him?
A: Not good or bad.  Baruch Hashem that he is alive.

"Our Community"
Q: When someone asks Ha-Rav a question about "our community", i.e. the Religious-Zionists community, Ha-Rav always answers "Our community is Am Yisrael".  This is a beautiful idea, but other Rabbis do not feel the same way.
A: You need to ask forgiveness from all the Rabbis!  They all feel this way!  It is related that a devoted Satmar Chasid once said to the Satmar Rebbe, after a tragedy where many Jews were killed: "Baruch Hashem, none of them were our people".  The Satmar Rebbe responded: "This is how a Jew who has been around me for so many years talks?!  A Jew is a Jew, and it does not matter whether he is one of 'us' or not"!  In the book "Beit Peshversk Volume 1, p. 94 note 1).

Blessing on Music
Q: Why isn't there a blessing for enjoying music?
A: We do not know the exact principles by which our Sages established the blessings over enjoyment.  And some explain that it is because sound does not have concreteness (Rabbenu Bechaya in his book "Shulchan Arba", brought in Magen Avraham 216:1).

Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartinura
Q: When we learn Mishnah, should one refer to the commentator as Rabbenu Ovadiah, or it is permissible to call him Bartinura?
A: It is preferable to call him Rabbenu Ovadiah, but it is permissible to call him Bartinura, since it is not his name, but the Italian city from whence he came, and is a nickname for him.

Turning Off Light on Shabbat
Q: If I forgot to turn off a light before Shabbat, can I do so with my elbow?
A: Certainly not.

Zecher Le-Churban
Q: Is it true that after the liberation of Yerushalayim, one need not leave a Zecher Le-Churban (Remembrance of the Destruction, i.e. leaving part of one's home unfinished)?
A: Not true.

Peyot Behind One's Ears
Q: Is there any worth in growing Peyot which one places behind his ears and they are not seen?
A: Certainly.  We do not fulfill Mitzvot in order to be seen, but rather to serve Hashem (See the book "Orchot Rabbenu" Volume 1, p. 236 that the Steipler and the Chazon Ish were very particular that one should not put his Peyot behind his ears, since it looks like he is embarrassed of them).

Q: While Davening Shemoneh Esrei in the blessing of Refaeinu for health, should one have in mind that the virus Corona should be eliminated?
A: It is permissible.  There are obviously many other illnesses and many which are much more deadly.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #389

Charedi Dress
Q: What is the reason that there are Rabbis in our [Religious-Zionist] community who dress like Charedim?
A: 1. It is the traditional dress.  2.  "Our community" is the Nation of Israel.

Mosquito on Shabbat
Q: A mosquito is a potentially lethal bug.  Is it permissible to kill one on Shabbat?
A: No.  1. Put on bug-repellant.  2. In Eretz Israel, it is not a lethal bug.

Rashi's Father
Q: It is true that Rashi began his commentary on the Torah "Rabbi Yitzchak said" in order to honor his father, Yitzchak?
A: Perhaps (The Taz in his commentary 'Divrei David' on Rashi points out in the name of an ancient book that Rashi's first question of why the Torah began with the Creation of the World and not the first Mitzvah is brought in the Midrash but not in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak.  Some explain that Rashi's father was not a great Torah scholar, and Rashi told him to ask a question which he would bring in his name at the beginning of his commentary.  But the Taz explains that this is not correct, since Rashi brings a few comments regarding complex issues in his father's name.  For example, in his commentary on the Gemara Avodah Zarah 75a.  Ha-Rav David Shevel in his edition of the Divrei David writes that he found a manuscript of the Midash which does bring the above-question in the name of a Rabbi Yitzchak, and he suggests that Rashi brought this question in the name of the questioner, which he seldom does, in order to begin the commentary with Rabbi Yitzchak, which is also his father's name, in order to honor him).      

Newspaper Subscription
Q: I have a newspaper subscription.  Can I give the newspaper to a friend after I read it?
A: Yes.  Just as in the case of a book you bought.

Strange Kosher Food
Q: Is it permissible to attend a Kosher meal at a Siyum which includes cow udders, grasshoppers, Buffalo and red deer?
A: It is permissible.  This is obviously on the condition that it is under reliable Kosher supervision.  Grasshoppers are only permissible for Yemenite Jews.

Blessing on Drugs
Q: What blessing does one recite for taking drugs?  After all, it is forbidden to benefit from anything in the world without a blessing?
A: One does not recite a blessing on a prohibition, such as eating pork, even if one enjoys eating it, or on murdering someone, even if one enjoys it, and certainly not on taking drugs (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 196:1).

Medicinal Marijuana on Shabbat
Q: What does a suffering person who was prescribed the use of medical marijuana do on Shabbat?
A: The Tzomet Institute of Halacha and technology has a machine which can be used on Shabbat.

Microphone at Wedding
Q: When Ha-Rav recites the blessings under a Chupa, why doesn’t he use a microphone?
A: Many Poskim rule that hearing something through a microphone is not considered hearing, and a Minyan must hear the blessings.

Daven for Ill in China
Q: Should we Daven for those who are sick with the Coronavirus in China?
A: Yes.  "Hashem has mercy on all His creatures" (Tehillim 145:9).  Obviously, there are worse things in the world, such as the fact that 30,000 children die each day in the world on account of hunger.

Reading about Holocaust
Q: Is reading about the Holocaust considered "Bitul Torah"?
A: It is not Torah, but it is a Mitzvah to read about it.  It is a personal decision how much time one devotes to this.

Rav Aviner to President Putin: Do Not be Insulted, You are Not a King

Question: The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin is arriving in Israel.  If someone sees him should he recite the blessing of "Baruch…She-Natan Michvodo Le-Vasar Ve-Dam - Blessed are You…who has given of His glory to flesh and blood"? (In the Gemara in Berachot 58a, our Rabbis teach that one who sees a non-Jewish king recites the blessing.  It is recorded in the Rambam, Hilchot Berachot 10:11 and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 224:8.   The Chatam Sofer, Orach Chaim #159, rules that even if one sees the king outside of his area of "rule," one must still recite the appropriate blessing).  

Answer: No, the President of the Russia is not a king. 
Halachic authorities mention four criteria in order to be considered a king for this purpose:
1. One must be the absolute ruler of his kingdom or country (Orchot Chaim in name of Sefer Ha-Eshkol, Hilchot Berachot #49, Shut Ha-Radvaz vol. 1 #296).  The President of the Russia, but he does not have absolute authority.  The Kremlin also has some power.
2.  The king must have the ability to administer capital punishment (Shut Chatam Sofer ibid.).  The President of Russia does not possess this power.  While he does have the power to grant life by issuing a pardon, he does not possess the power of death (Shut Be’er Moshe of Rav Moshe Stern vol. 2, # 9).  If he frees Na'ama Yissachar from a Russia prison, we can discuss this further… 
3.  The king must have royal clothing.  President Putin wears a suit like everyone else (Shut Yehaveh Da’at, vol. 2, #28 and Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot vol. 2, #139).  
4. The king must have an entourage (see Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot ibid.  Rav Sternbuch writes there that he heard that Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, the great Rav of Yerushalayim before the establishment of the State, once had a private meeting in a tent with the King of Jordan and he recited this blessing even though he was without his entourage).  While President Putin is traveling with 400 people, most of them are for his protection.

The President of Russia is one of the most powerful countries of the world is visiting the tiny State of Israel, as well as many world leaders, and some people say that this is not "Atchalta De-Geulah – the beginning of the Redemption." 
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Shut Minchat Shlomo (the last responsum in vol. 1) writes that one is obligated to recite four blessings when the Messiah arrives: 1. "Baruch…Chacham Ha-Razim – Blessed are You…Knowers of secrets" which is recited when seeing 600,000 Jews together and certainly at least this many Jews will go out to greet the Messiah.  2. "Baruch…She-Chalak Mechomato Lirei'av - Blessed are You…who has appointed of His knowledge to those who fear him" which is recited when seeing an outstanding Torah scholar and the Messiah will certainly fit this criteria.  3. "Baruch…She-Chalak Michvodo Lirei'av- Blessed are You…who has appointed of His glory to those who fear him" which is recited when seeing a Jewish king.  4. "Shechechiyanu" – Blessing Hashem for having arrived at this moment.  We still are waiting for this time to arrive, but we are continuing to advance.  After all, the President of Russia and many world leaders are visiting the State of Israel.

Therefore, instead of reciting a blessing over President Putin, I recommend reciting two prayers for the Nation of Israel which we recite every day before the Shema with extra proper intention: "Blessed are You, Hashem, who chooses His Nation Israel with Love" and "Blessed are You, Hashem, who loves His Nation Israel."

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #388

Etrog Jam
Q: What is the source that Etrog jam helps a woman to have an easy delivery?
A: There is no ancient source.

Minhag of Divorced Woman
Q: I am divorced.  Should I continue the customs of my former husband or return to the customs of my father?
A: If you do not have older children, return to your father's customs.  If you have older children and they are used to your former husband's customs, you should continue to perform them so there is uniformity in your house.

Dispute over Wig
Q: I cover my hair with a wig but my husband does not like it.  What should I do?
A: He should wear what he wants, and you should not give him orders about his dress, and you should dress the way you want, and he should not give you orders about your dress.
A: But he claims that I do not understand him?
A: Indeed, and he does not understand you.  Perhaps you two should go to marriage counseling, and we hope that he will be able to understand what every 10 year old child understands, i.e. to be objective.

Siyum Ha-Shas
Q: We are planning to attend the Siyum Ha-Shas at Binyanei Ha-Uma in Yerushalayim, and then go and eat in a restaurant.  Is that considered a Seudat Mitzvah?
A: Yes.  It is possible to have a Seudah for a Siyum in another place.  Shut Maharam Brisk 1:133.

Cohanim's Shoes
Q: When Cohanim take off their shoes for Birkat Cohanim, should they put them under their chairs or leave them outside the sanctuary?
A: Most important is that they are not seen.

Calling from Different Phone Number
Q: I keep calling someone but they do not pick up for me.  Can I call them from a different number?
A: Genivat Da'at (deception).

Praising Student in Front of the Class
Q: Is it permissible for me to praise a student in front of the class for learning well?
A: One needs to be very careful, since it can cause the weaker students to feel frustrated.

Non-Hebrew Words in Rashi
Q: Do the non-Hebrew words in Rashi have the same holiness as the Hebrew words?
A: They have similar holiness as the Aramaic translation of Onkelos but a little less since Onkelos was given at Mt. Sinai (Ha-Rav Chaneh Halberstan, Av Beit Din Kalashitz, said that his holy grandfather, the Shinova Rav, was very particular to pronounce the non-Hebrew words when learning Rashi, since they have the same level of holiness as the rest of Rashi.  And if he heard someone skip over those words, he would tell them to go back and pronounce them.  In the book "Divrei Chaneh Ha-Shalem" p. 453.  And see the book "Otzar Lazei Rashi" which explains all of the non-Hebrew words in Rashi).

Shul in Bomb Shelter
Q: If we have a Shul in the bomb shelter of our building, does it have the holiness of a Shul?
A: No.  It is still a bomb shelter.

Celebrating after Qasem Soleimani's Death

With America and the entire world riveted by the US Military's success in assassinating Qasem Soleimani, Iran's senior military officer, we felt it important to bring you Rav Aviner's response to the death of Yassir Arafat (in 5765).

When Your Enemy Falls, Do Not Rejoice?

It is true that it says in Mishlei (24:17): "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice," but there are enemies and there are Enemies.

The Talmud in Megillah (16a) relates that when Mordechai was led around on the horse by Haman, he did not treat him exceedingly mercifully. When Haman questioned him: Doesn’t the verse say, "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice"?  Mordechai responded: This does not refer to you.

Arafat was like Haman. He not only wanted to kill Jews, but actively did so, and left many widows, widowers, and orphans, as well as thousands of wounded and suffering.  We could say that every child in Israel has a wound on his soul for a person who was close to him who was murdered. 

It is also true that when the angels wanted to sing and join with the song of the Children of Israel after the Splitting of the Red Sea, the Master of the Universe prevented them, saying: "My handiwork has drowned in the sea and you are singing a song?" (see Sanhedrin 39b and Megillah 10b).  This is correct, and yet the Children of Israel did sing! How so? We are not angels. As the Admor of Pisetzna, Rav Kalman Kalonymus Shapira, wrote during the Holocaust (see "Aish Kodesh"): Was an angel ever hit? Was an angel ever murdered? Was an angel ever humiliated? We were! The angels did not suffer as we did in Egypt, so they could not sing. But we did suffer -- suffered immensely -- and therefore during the Exodus from Egypt "Moshe sang." And Miriam and the women also went out with singing and dancing after the Splitting of Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptians.  And so, for Arafat, as for the Egyptians, we say, "and joy went through the camp" (Melachim 1 22:26) and we say "when the wicked perish, there is joy" (Mishlei 11:10).

May we be comforted by the building of Jerusalem.