If I have half-a-minute free to learn Torah does it have worth?
Certainly.Every word of Torah a person
learns is the fulfillment of a Mitzvah.Ha-Gra in Shenot Eliyahu on Peah Chapter 1.
What is the blessing on chocolate?
It would have been proper to recite Eitz, but the custom is to recite Shehakol since
it contains various ingredients aside from cocoa, and its form is changed and
unrecognizable.Piskei Teshuvot (Ha-Rav
Moshe Feinstein was once asked about the blessing on chocolate, and he
responded that people have the long-standing custom to recite Shehakol, and we
must clarify why this is so, since it is impossible for us to say that Klal
Yisrael acts improperly.Reshumei Aharon
of Ha-Rav Aharon Felder, p. 24.And this
was Rav Feinstein's opinion in general. Someone once told Reb Moshe that the Sanzer
Rav, author of Shut Divrei Chaim, ruled that over a potato one recites Shehakol,
because the potato does not really grow from the ground, rather it grows from
air around the ground.Reb Moshe said
that even if such reasoning was correct, which it is not, didn't the Sanzer Rav
know that the custom of the world is already to recite Adamah, and thus it does
not make sense to rule otherwise.See
Chullin 136b.Mesoret Moshe p. 50.And Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach also ruled
that one should recite Eitz on chocolate, but since the world did not accept
his ruling, he said that in practice one should recite Shehakol. See Shut Minchat Shlomo 1:91.And Ve-Zot Ha-Berachah p. 101, for a
discussion of why the blessing is not "Borei Pri Ha-Eitz").
Yadayim after Donating Blood
After donating blood should one wash Netilat Yadayim as one would after
blood-letting?What about after a blood test?
No.Since these are spiritual matters,
we only do what is written in the Halachah and do not add to it.Halichot Shlomo 20:19.Some authorities however do say that donating
blood is similar to blood-letting, and that it is proper to be strict.Piskei Teshuvot Vol. 1 p. 58.But certainly not after a blood test (And
this is also the ruling in the Halachic-Medical Encyclopedia of Rav Steinberg
Vol. 2 pp. 525-527, Vol. 3 pp. 429-430.It is also the opinion of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, since the amount
of blood extracted when donating blood is equivalent to that in blood-letting
while a blood test requires only a minimal amount of blood.Be-Dama'ich Chayi - collection of Halachot
regarding blood donation pp. 51-54).
I receive a 30% discount from various stores for being a soldier.Is it permissible to use this discount to buy
something for a friend?
You should ask the army.
in Right Hand when Immersing in Mikveh
When immersing utensils in a Mikveh, should one hold the utensil in his right
Yes, just as one holds the food or object in his right hand when reciting a
blessing over it or for a Mitzvah.Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 26:2.Mishnah Berurah #17-18 (And this is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Chaim
Kanievski in Kuntres Ish Iter #38).
I heard of a case where one person was willing to take on another person's
transgressions for $500.Is there such a
Nonsense.See Sefer Chasidim, edition of
Ha-Rav Reuven Margoliyot, p. 591.
What should I do if one of my teachers has bad body odor?
Either leave him an anonymous note written politely, or inform the
principal.The same applies to bad breath.
Is it permissible for me to take my sister's clothing, since they were bought
with our parent's money?
Certainly not.They belong to her.
as Combat Soldier in Tzahal
Is it permissible for a Cohain to serve as a combat soldier in Tzahal?
Certainly.In circumstances when there
are corpses, he will receive special directives as how to act (And regarding
the question as to whether a Cohain serving in Tzahal who kills someone in war
can still recite the Birkat Cohanim, see Shut Yechaveh Daat 2:14, where Ha-Rav
Ovadiah Yosef rules that such a Cohain is exactly the right person to bestow a
blessing upon us since he killed defending the Nation and Land of Israel.See also Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:61. This is
unlike Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik who held that just as King David was unable to
build the Temple on account of his participation in war, so too a Cohain who
kills in war is no longer able to recite the Birkat Cohanim. Nefesh Ha-Rav, p.
It is worthwhile to use the 12-Step Program to fix my behavior?
Certainly not.This program is only for
someone with an addiction.It is like a
drug which cures but has side effects.One can therefore not use it except in the case of an addiction which
cannot be cured otherwise.
to the Wrong Rabbi
I accidently sent a text message question to a different Rabbi and he sent me
an answer.Am I obligated to follow his
ruling or can I ask Ha-Rav?
If you intended specifically to ask me, the lowly one, it is permissible to
re-ask the question.If you intended to
ask a Rabbi in general, you must follow his answer (Similarly, it once happened
that a couple had a question about the laws of Family Purity on Shabbat
Night.Since they lived nearby to Ha-Rav
Ovadiah Yosef, the wife went to his apartment building, but accidentally she
went to the floor above Rav Ovadiah, where Ha-Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul lived,
and he ruled that it was forbidden.When
she returned home, the husband understood that his wife had made a
mistake.He went on his own to Rav
Ovadiah, who permitted it, and related that his wife had accidentally asked Rav
Ben Tzion Abba who prohibited it.Rav
Ovadiah said: Rebbe Ben Tzion is a Gaon in Halachah, but my opinion in this
case is that it is permissible.Therefore, if you originally intended to ask me, it is permissible, but
if you intended to ask any Rabbi, it is forbidden, especially since you asked
Chacham Ben Tzion, and I cannot permit what he did not.Maran by Ha-Rav Michal Shtern pp. 247-248).
How should we relate to Biblical Criticism?
It is nonsense which is not worth relating to.This was explained by Maran Ha-Rav Kook and Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah
(See also Ha-Rav's book "Torat Emet").
during Military Exercises at Sea
During military exercises at sea is a soldier obligated to wear a Kippah?
No.And it is a pious act to only remove
it right before heading out to sea.Piskei Teshuvot 3:12.
When the Nazis, may their names be blotted out, stood at the gates of Eretz
Yisrael, Ha-Rav Yitzchak Isaac Herzog said: there will not be a Third
Destruction.What is the source for this?
Answer:Rabbi Abba said: You have no more clear sign of
the end of days than that of the verse: "But you, O mountains of Israel,
shall yield your produce and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for their
return is near" (Yechezkel 36:8).Rashi explains: “When the Land of Israel yields its fruit bountifully,
then the end of days will be near. You have no clearer sign of the end of days
than that."Sanhedrin 98a.If Chazal says that there is no clearer sign,
there is none!When Rabbenu
Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah was asked what should be said to the Charedi community,
which was unconvinced regarding the Redemption, he said: "We are not
Karaites! We are Talmud-faithful Jews,
and the Talmud itself teaches us about the revealed Final Redemption. It
says that there is no more clear sign of the Final Redemption than the Land of
Israel’s offering its fruit generously to the ingathering Jews!
Dr. Yaakov Herzog related about his father, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ha-Rav
Yitzchak Isaac Herzog: "…his great Emunah was that the Return to Zion in
our time is the beginning of the blossoming of the Redemption of Israel.In the year 1941, when Rommel was at the
gates of Eretz Yisrael, and my Father ztz"l was then visiting Washington
D.C., President Roosevelt warned him not to return to Eretz Yisrael, because it
was about to be conquered by the Germans.My Father responded that the prophets prophesized regarding two
destructions, and not on a Third".Am Le-Badad Yishkon p. 16.Ha-Rav
Herschel Schachter writes that at the time of the Israeli War of Independence.
Ha-Griz Soloveitchik of Brisk wanted to leave Yerushalayim and move to Switzerland.Rav Herzog came to him and argued that he
should not leave Eretz Yisrael, and that there was no need to fear the war
since we have an accepted tradition that there will not be a Third Destruction.The Brisker Rav answered that he has an
accepted tradition from his father that when there is shooting one flees.This seems to mean that although there is a
tradition that there will not be another destruction, this principle does not
apply to individuals being killed and therefore one must flee.Ikei Ha-Tzon pp. 115-116 (Rav Herzog's
opinion is also brought in Kim'a Kim'a of Ha-Rav Chaim Druckman p. 144 and
Ti'um Kavanot of Ha-Rav Chaim Sabato p. 98).
principle was also cited, however, right before the Six-Day War.At that time, Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren - who then served
as the Chief Rabbi of Tzahal - traveled to Australia to help raise money for
the United Jewish Appeal.With the
closing of the Straits of Tiran, he understood that there would be a war and
hurried to return to Eretz Yisrael.The
only route home was from Australia to Los Angeles, then to New York, and from
there to Israel.Rav Goren spent Shabbat
in Far Rockaway, New York, which is close to the airport, in order to fly out
right after Shabbat.He spoke in the
White Shul on Shabbat.Rav Goren's
autobiography "Be-Oz Ve-Ta'atzumot" pp. 264-265.It is related elsewhere that Rav Goren said
that a war with the Arabs was about to begin.The entire community started to cry and feared a second Holocaust, but
Rav Goren said that there was nothing to fear since the Torah promises that
there will not be a Third Destruction (Ha-Rav Chaim Jachter in the name of
Ha-Rav Shaul Chill, quoted in the parashah sheet "Kol Torah" of the
Torah Academy of Bergen County).
I want another child but my husband does not.This causes me great distress.
You are right.But this is too
complicated for a text message.Talk to
It is a Mitzvah to run to Shul from my house?
No.Only when you are close to the Shul,
so it is clear why you are running.Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 90:12.Mishnah Berurah ibid.
Is it permissible to throw away a worn Israeli flag or must it be placed in the
It may be thrown away, but not in a disrespectful manner (In the book Nefesh
Ha-Rav pp. 99-100, it is related that one year the Agudat Yisrael Conference
was held in a hotel in Yerushalayim and there was an Israeli flag flying on the
roof.Some of the participants, who were
opposed to the State of Israel, were unhappy about this, but instead of requesting
that the flag be removed they asked if all of the flags of the participants'
countries be flown as well.After this
was publicized, Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik stated at the Mizrachi Conference that
while the Jewish People had flags in the desert, they were temporary and not
for all generations.But the flag of
Israel has a different significance.There is a Minhag in the name of the Rishonim brought in the Shulchan
Aruch, Yoreh Deah 366:4: "If a Jew is found murdered, he is to be buried
as he was found [i.e. in his bloody clothes] without any shrouds."The Shach #11 explains that the reason for
this Minhag: to kindle Hashem's wrath when He sees how this person was buried
without shrouds.Hashem's compassion
will thus be aroused to avenge him.And
the same applies to the Israeli flag.Towards the end of the War of Independence, the UN set a specific time
by which the Jews and Arabs could seize land.They established that all the territory in the hands of the Jews, as
signified by raising the Israeli flag on that spot, would become part of the
State of Israel, and all territory in Arab hands, would remain outside the
State of Israel.And this is indeed what
occurred.During this period, much
Jewish blood was spilled in order to raise the Israeli flag over as much
territory as possible.Many Jewish
fighters were killed, displaying self-sacrifice for the sole purpose of raising
the Jewish flag, the flag of Israel.Therefore, Rav Soloveitchik said, the flag of the State of Israel has
the status of a murdered Jew's clothing, a symbol of the spilled blood of the
Jews.As a result, when the flag of
Israel flies, it arouses Hashem's compassion for Am Yisrael).
and Knot at End of Tzitzit
Is it permissible to put glue or tie a knot on the end of Tzitzit so they do
Some authorities permit it and others forbid it.Piskei Teshuvot 11:14.
and Sofer Stam
Which is preferable – a Sofer Stam with more beautiful script but whose wife
wears a wig or a Sofer Stam with less beautiful script whose wife covers her
hair with a scarf?
The former.1. The Sofer Stam is the
deciding factor and not his wife.2.
Wearing a wig is permissible for both Ashkenazi and Sefardi women (see Shut
She'eilat Shlomo 1:442, 3:416.And there
is a story told about a couple who moved from Hungary to America, and the wife
wanted to cover her with a wig like others in America instead of shaving her
hair and wearing a scarf as had been the custom of her foremothers in
Hungary.The husband, however, did not
agree and went to Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein to ask about this issue.Ha-Rav Feinstein saw that the husband did not
have a beard.He asked: Did your father
and grandfather have beards?He said: Of
course, everyone had a beard.He asked: So
why are you clean-shaven?He said: This
is America!Ha-Rav Feinstein said: If
so, there is no problem for your wife to wear a wig.See also Shut Igrot Moshe Yoreh De'ah 1:81 on
wearing modern clothing).
Kippah in Tzahal
The main officer of my base told me that my Kippah is too large.What should I do?
A large Kippah is praiseworthy.Ask a
military Rabbi or call the hotline for soldiers of the Military Rabbinate: 052-941-4414.
did Rachel Imenu save our soldiers during Operation Cast Lead but did not
during Operation Protective Edge?
Answer: A fool will believe
anything.There are two types of extremism:
one is to deny miracles, and the other is to believe someone who tells you
there was one.We need to check.It is possible that the person imagined
seeing something or someone.Sometimes even
a sane person imagines things, especially one who is under pressure, tired or
hungry.He thinks he sees something that
isn't there, and later fosters it in his memory.This is called FMS - False Memory
Syndrome.It may have been a non-Jewish
woman who was seen and mistaken for Rachel Imenu. There are also good Arab women.Or maybe someone dreamed up this idea to
strengthen faith, and to say: "You see?There are people who go to war and there are people who don't go to war
but they pray, and Rachel Imenu came to save us on account of their
merit."But we need proof for such
matters.There were soldiers who fell in
battle and Rachel was not there.There
were also soldiers who won battles due to their great dedication and wisdom and
courageousness to fight, and Rachel was not there.This means that Rachel was not there in the
image of a woman guiding them and telling them go this way or that way, shoot
here or shoot there.But Rachel was
certainly there - in both Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Shield -
in the sense in which we explained: the inner power which sustains the Nation
of Israel and returns us to our Land.
Which is preferable – a few wealthy donors supporting a Yeshiva, or many poor
Many poor donors, so that all Klal-Yisrael will have a part in the Yeshiva (It
once happened that a wealthy individual wanted to donate the entire sum needed to
build the Chafetz Chaim's Yeshiva in Radin.The Chafetz Chaim refused.He
explained that he wanted all of Klal-Yisrael to have a part in the Yeshiva and
asked that a Tzedakah box be placed in each house.The wealthy person had a Din Torah against
the Chafetz Chaim in the Beit Din of Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Chaim Ozer Grozinski so
that he would have to accept the entire donation.Rav Chaim Ozer ruled that they should
How is it possible that there are people who are Torah observant but act in a
This is the definition of Chilul Hashem.Yoma 85.Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei
Ha-Torah Chapter 5.
Is living in Eretz Yisrael a goal in and of itself or a means to learning Torah
and performing Mitzvot in completeness and contentment?
It is a goal in and of itself, which also brings completeness and contentment,
as does performance of every Mitzvah in the Torah.See Orot Eretz Yisrael #1 (see Ha-Rav's book
"Am Ha-Artzo" which discusses this question in the first chapter).
What can I, as a mother, do if my 4-year old is lying?
I apologize: this is too complicated of an issue for a text message.You can call my wife (or look in Ha-Rav's
book on educating children: Chinuch Be-Ahavah).
I teach Torah and quote many verses, but I saw that the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
(1:6) writes that it is forbidden to recite verses by-heart.Do I have to open up a Tanach each time I
quote a verse?
You are not obligated to do so.1. It is
permissible to recite a verse which you know well.2. According to Tosafot, one is only
obligated to recite a verse from a Tanach if he is fulfilling a Mitzvah for
others by doing so.3. It is permissible
to do so if it is a burden on the community (Piskei Teshuvot 49:9.See there for further permissible manners of
How does one merit Ruach Ha-Kodesh?
Following the path laid out in Mesilat Yesharim, from beginning to end.
Books in a Store
Is it permissible for me to read books in a store if I do not intend to buy them
but am careful not to ruin them?
This is theft.The books belong to the
store and it is forbidden for you to use them without their permission.
Is it forbidden to use WhatsApp?
If it contains Lashon Ha-Rav, insults and idle talk.
in Front of Avodah Zarah
What is the source for spitting when seeing a Preist?
There is no source.
I sometimes Daven at the Kotel and see great Torah scholars there.Two of my classmates told me that we are
obligated to Daven on the Har Ha-Bayit and not at the Kotel, and say "You
enjoy talking to a wall"?!I am
confused.What should I do?
Don't listen to the mockers of the generation but rather to its great Rabbis.
I heard that the Arizal said not to say Yigdal?
Correct.Mishnah Berurah 68:2.But the Shelah did say it, and this is the
custom (And Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik said that reciting Yigdal, which includes
the foundations of Emunah, is forbidden because of "Chukot Akum" -
imitating non-Jewish practice.This is
because it is seen as similar to the Catholic practice of reciting the
Catechism – an oral review of their articles of faith.Nefesh Ha-Rav, p. 231).
heard that Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren permitted using the Heter Mechirah and then later
Ha-Gaon Shlomo Goren's opinion is that after the establishment of the State of
Israel we can no longer utilize the Heter Mechirah since even though an
individual can sell his field to a non-Jew, there still remains a sort of
"super-ownership" by the entire State.As a result, there is still Jewish ownership
by the State of Israel.When Rav Goren
served as the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Halachah nonetheless followed the
majority of the Rabbis on the Rabbinical Council of the Chief Rabbinate and the
Heter Mechirah was indeed utilized.His
personal opinion, however, was that it cannot be used (article in the magazine
"Be-Machanayim" of the Military Rabbinate in the year 5619.Torat Ha-Medinah p. 445.Torat Ha-Moadim p. 624).
there is another great Rabbi who agrees: The Satmar Rebbe.Ha-Rav Yoel Teitelbaum had many arguments against
the Heter Mechirah.He argued that even
according to the opinion that the Heter Mechirah is halachically acceptable
(which he did not uphold), it no longer applies after the establishment of the
State of Israel on account of the "super-ownership" of the State (Shut
Divrei Yoel #96-98 and printed in a separate booklet entitled "Shalosh
difference, however, is that Rav Goren held this opinion because the State of
Israel is a great and holy Mitzvah, while the Satmar Rebbe reasoned as he did because
he saw the State as impure, and a rebellion against Hashem.
Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah however rejected the proofs of Rav Goren, and argued that
the sale of land sold by an individual is considered a valid sale regardless if
there is Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael or not.Therefore, the Heter Mechirah still applies
even after the establishment of the State of Israel (Techumin Volume 7, p. 23).
To Enrich the spiritual life of the English-speaking World through the Torah of Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. By offering English translations of Rav Aviner’s written and oral Torah, this division of the yeshiva aims to expose English speakers to a powerful, sensitive and poetic voice unparalleled in our time. His unfailing optimism, his tolerance and love all Jews, his guidance for harmony within the Jewish family and his dedication to Eretz Yisrael, the State of Israel and Tzahal will inspire and enrich the lives of all who may now have access to his words.