Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #329

Which is Greater - The Redemption from Egypt or Our Redemption?
Q: Which is greater: The Redemption from Egypt or our current Redemption, with our return to Eretz Yisrael, the establishment of the State of Israel, our military victories, etc.?
A: Our Redemption, for five reasons:
1. The Redemption from Egypt was after 210 years, while our Redemption was after 2000 years.
2. The Redemption from Egypt was from one country, while our Redemption was from the four corners of the world.
3. The Redemption from Egypt was with the aid of Moshe Rabbenu, while our Redemption was without the aid of Moshe Rabbenu.
4. The Redemption from Egypt was with revealed miracles, while our Redemption was with hidden miracles.
5. The Redemption from Egypt was followed by destruction of the Beit Ha-Mikdash (and another Exile), while our Redemption will not be followed by destruction.

Muscle Man
Q: My friend is always lifting weights so he'll have big muscles.  He says he wants to show off.  How should I relate to this?
A: This is dangerous arrogance.  Have pity on him.

Ariel Sharon
Q: How do we relate to Ariel Sharon?
A: It is complex.  He had both good and bad traits.
Q: Which were the majority?
A: Certainly the good.  He saved us during the Yom Kippur War.
Q: And relating to Yesha, what were the majority?
Q: Also the good.  He helped settled 400,000 Jews in Yesha and destroyed the homes of 10,000 there in Gush Katif.  By the way, how others related to him was not always proper, since they saw him only as a medium for achieving their goals.  They used him when it was beneficial.  Someone once said to him jokingly: You are the Messiah's donkey.  He replied: Beware, a donkey sometimes kicks…

Honoring Torah Scholars
Q: It is permissible to say out of respect for a Rav that he is cute and sweet?
A: Certainly not.  One must use respectful words.

To be Charedi
Q: Why does Ha-Rav cite Charedi sources in his Teshuvot?  Should we be Charedim?!
A: There is one Torah.  Furthermore, what is someone who is Charedi?  One who is particular to observe "light" Mitzvot in the same manner of as "severe" ones out of the fear of Heaven, and who learns Torah during all of his free time.  If so, everyone should be Charedi.  And one should also be particular regarding the severe Mitzvah of the revival of Am Yisrael in its Land.  One should therefore be more Charedi than the Charedim.

Name of Mother in Ketubah
Q: The groom is insisting that his mother's name is also written in the Ketubah.  I tried to convince him otherwise but to no avail.  Should I refuse to perform the wedding?
A: He errs, since we do not make such changes, but do not fight with him over it.

Date of Wedding
Q: Is there a problem with getting married on the same date that my parents got divorced?

A: There is no problem.  On the contrary, it is a spiritual repair.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #328

Counting a Yasamnik in a Minyan
Q: Is it permissible to count a Yasamnik in a Minyan?  [Yasam is the Israeli Police Special Patrol Unit, a dedicated to continuous security, riot and crowd control and other special operations.  They were heavily involved in the expulsion from Gush Katif and Amona.]
A: The question is whether one who asks this question can be counted in a Minyan.

Learning Mishnah by Heart
Q: Is there value in learning Mishnah by heart?
A: Certainly.  For example, you can learn them while waiting for the bus or in a place without books (During the eulogies for Ha-Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, Rosh Yeshivah of Ponovezh, Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef learned Mishnah by heart, since all of the eulogies were in Yiddish and he did not understand them.  Related by his son, the Chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel, Ha-Rav Yitzchak Yosef, in his weekly Parashah Shiur on Parashat Devarim 5774).

Stealing from a Non-Jew
Q: Is it permissible to steal from a non-Jew?
A: G-d-forbid!  Besides being forbidden on account of stealing, it is also a desecration of Hashem's Name.  The Arizal says that it also causes great damage according to the mystical side of Torah.  And see Kaf Ha-Chaim 156:12 (After the Six-Day War and liberation of Yerushalayim, some Jews took advantage of the Arabs' fear and went into their stores and stole from them.  Ha-Rav Shmuel Ha-Levi Wosner, author of Shut Shevet Ha-Levi, gave a Mussar talk to his Yeshiva students and said that doing so is a corruption of one's positive character traits!  To illustrate the severity of the issue, he said: "Anyone who touches money which does not belong to him becomes corrupt"!  And he added that one can always find "leniencies" in Halachot dealing with other people, but doing so certainly corrupts his character traits.  In the book "Rachemei Ha-Rav" p. 204).

Shabbat Observance by One in the Process of Conversion
Q: Is it permissible for a non-Jew who is in the process of conversion to observe Shabbat?
A: It is forbidden for a non-Jew to observe Shabbat (Sanhedrin 58b), so he must perform one forbidden act each Shabbat.  The Rambam holds that the prohibition for a non-Jew is against inventing a religion, but because he is not doing so here, he can observe Shabbat (There is a joke that a Yeshiva student once admitted to his Chevruta of many years that he is actually a non-Jew.  The Chevruat said: But you observed all of the Mitzvot, and you know that a non-Jew who observes Shabbat is liable for death!  The non-Jew said: I therefore carried something each Shabbat.  The Chevruta said: But there is an Eruv!  He responded: I don't hold by the Eruv…).
Q: What about a person who is in doubt as to whether he is Jewish or non-Jewish and is in the process of conversion?  What should he do?  After all, if he is a Jew, it is forbidden for him to desecrate Shabbat, and if he is a non-Jew, he is obligated to desecrate it!
A: He should perform half of a forbidden labor of Shabbat, such as writing only one letter, since this is only a Rabbinic prohibition for a Jew but is considered a complete violation for a non-Jew, since the concept of "Chatzi Shiur" (a violation which did not reach the Torah's forbidden measure) does not apply to non-Jews.  Minchat Chinuch (Mitzvah #32, Musaf Ha-Shabbat #6).  It seems preferable, however, for him not to perform any forbidden labor, and rely on the above-mentioned opinion of the Rambam.  Another possibility would be to perform a half a forbidden labor of a "Melacha She-Eina Tzaricha Le-Gufa" (A prohibited labor that is performed for a purpose different from its normal purpose.  For example, the Gemara assumes that the normal purpose of digging a hole is to be able to use the hole.  One who digs a hole for the purpose of using the dirt instead of the hole therefore performs a "Melacha She-Eina Tzaricha Le-Gufa") on Motzaei Shabbat, since according to the Hafla'ah, it is already a weekday for Jews but is still Shabbat for non-Jews since the day for them begins in the morning, while for Jews it begins at night (Although his is a sole opinion) (It once happened in Yerushalayim that Ha-Rav Shmuel Salant, who served as the Chief Rabbi there, traveled to Europe to raise money for the Jewish community.  He stayed in Warsaw in the home of the Gerrer Rebbe, the "Chidushei Ha-Rim".  There was a convert in Yerushalayim who had had a Brit Milah and had yet to heal, so he therefore did not immerse in a Mikveh to complete the conversion.  After Minchah on Shabbat, Rav Salant's temporary replacement, Ha-Rav Asher Lemil Lowy, ruled in the name of the Badatz that he should desecrate Shabbat since a non-Jew who observes Shabbat is liable for death.  A great controversy broke out over this ruling, and questions were sent to many Gedolei Yisrael asking if this was correct.  Rav Salant himself did not agree with the ruling and said he should observe Shabbat, since after the Brit Milah, although he was not a full-fledged Jew, he was no longer in the category of a "non-Jew who observes Shabbat is liable for death".  The Gerrer Rebbe and Ha-Rav Yaakov Etlinger, author of the Aruch Le-Ner, agreed with Rav Salant (Shut Binyan Tzion #91.  Torat Rabbenu Shmuel Salant ztz"l 1:31.  Aderet Shmuel pp. 90-94).  

Private Wedding
Q: I am an elderly widower and want to get married to an elderly widow, but if we do, she will lose her first husband's pension.  Is it permissible to get married by a Rabbi in a private wedding and not inform the State?
A: Certainly not.  It is forbidden according to the Halachah, the decrees of the Chief Rabbinate and the laws of the State.  In the USA, one who performs private weddings can sit in prison for many years.

50th Wedding Anniversary
Q: What is proper way to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary?

A: By doing something which strengthens your connection to one another.

Three NEW Sefarim for Pesach

1.    Rav Aviner's Commentary on Haggadah  translated into English

2.    New HEBREW Commentary on the Haggadah of Mordechai Tzion
Le-Shanah Ha-Zot Bi-Yerushalayim
Includes Eretz Yisrael in the Haggadah, Q&A of Gedolei Yisrael (Rav Aviner, Rav Nevenzal, Rav Kanievski & others) & practices of Rav Aviner on Pesach
3.    Shu"t Ha-Kol Beseder - HEBREW -
Piskei Halachot of Rav Aviner for Pesach

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #327

Hashem Loves Us
Q: Does Hashem love us despite the fact that we do all sorts of things against His will?
A: Yes, since we are his children.

Ma'aser for Food for a Family with a New Baby
Q: Is it permissible for use Ma'aser to buy food for a family with a new baby?
A: If they are poor.  Ma'aser is for the poor. 

Debt at Kiosk that Closed Down
Q: I had a debt at a Kiosk that closed down and I haven't been able to locate the owner.  What should I do?
A: Try your hardest to find him.  If it is impossible, give the money to a Tzedakah that benefits the most amount of Jews.  For example, an organization that helps Tzahal soldiers, because we all benefit from Tzahal.

The Letter Shin of Tefillin
Q: Why does the letter Shin have three heads on the right-hand side of the head Tefillin and four heads on the left side (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 32:42)?
A: Some explain that the three heads correspond to the three Forefathers and the four heads correspond to the four Foremothers (Eliyahu Rabba ibid. #65).

Selling Weapons
Q: Is it permissible for the State of Israel to sell weapons to another country?
A: If they are not murderers (Rambam, Hilchot Avodah Zarah 9:8,  Hilchot Rotzeach U-Shemirat Nefesh 12:13.  And see a discussion of this entire subject in the book "Kol Yehudah" of Ha-Rav Yehudah Gershuni p. 172).

Visiting Arabs who are Ill
Q: Our youth group is going to the hospital to hand out candy to the sick.  What should we do about the Arab patients?
A: Give to them as well.  Our Rabbis taught: "We sustain the non-Jewish poor with the Jewish poor, visit the non-Jewish sick with the Jewish sick" (Gittin 61a.  Rama, Yoreh Deah 251:1).

Eliyahu's Chair
Q: Is it permissible to sit on Eliyahu's Chair just to sit down?
A: Yes.

Student who Disturbs All the Time
Q: I am a teacher and there is a student who constantly disturbs the class.  What should I do?
A: It seems that something in his life is bothering him.  Have a personal conversation with him.

Tevilah For a Nutcracker
Q: Does a nutcracker require immersion in a Mikveh before use?
A: Yes.  In the book "Tevilat Kelim" of Ha-Rav Tzvi Cohain, p. 197.

Mishneh Torah of the Rambam
Q: How many chapters are in the Rambam's Mishneh Torah?
A: 1000.
Q: How many letters and Teshuvot did the Rambam write?
A: I have heard 3000.

Should I Marry
Q: My father passed away.  My mother is alone and said that if I get married she will be even more alone.  Perhaps I shouldn't get married?

A: You should certainly get married.  1. It is a great Mitzvah.  2. This is what will bring her joy: to see you married and to have grandchildren.  3. You should continue to be as close as possible with her after you are married, obviously in cooperation with your wife.

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner's Commentary on Haggadah Now in English!

Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim
Torah from Zion Project

English Books of
Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shlit"a

Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. Rav of Beit El & one of the leading Rabbis of Religious-Zionism today.  One of the most prominent students of Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, who followed directly in the footsteps of his father, Rav Kook.  Author of more than 150 Hebrew books filled with love of Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael & Torat Yisrael, tolerance & love to all Jews, guidance for harmony within the Jewish family, dedication to the State of Israel & Tzahal, and facing the most pressing questions of the day.   

Our Second Book in the Series
Commentary on Haggadah
"The Exodus from Egypt will eternally remain the springtime of the entire world" (Meged Yerachim – Nisan – Rav Kook’s sayings for each month).  It is not only the springtime of the Nation of Israel, but the springtime of humanity.  The Exodus from Egypt is an action which has never ended.  Israel was redeemed and it revealed the Hand of Hashem in a way that the whole world could clearly see, as part of human history.  Join Rav Aviner during the Pesach Seder and experience the Exodus which continues in our time.  

Other books in series:
Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Volume 1 [Revised addition]

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Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #326

Crossed Legs
Q: Is it permissible to sit with crossed legs in Shul?
A: No.  We should sit with an awe of holiness.  The same is true in a Beit Midrash.  And when we learn Torah it should be with fear, awe and trembling.  Berachot 20.

Bishul Akum in Tzahal
Q: If there is no military rabbi supervising the cooking on our base, what issue must one worry about regarding a non-Jewish soldier cooking?
A: For Ashkenazim, a Jew must light the fire, gas or electricity, and the non-Jew may place the pot or pan on it.  Thus it will not be considered Bishul Akum (Rama Yoreh Deah 113:7).  For Sefardim, the essence is that the Jew places the food on the fire (Shulchan Aruch ibid.).  After the fact, if there is nothing to eat, one may be lenient and eat.  A soldier 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 soldiers are not servants in the legal sense, but the Rama [ibid. 4] says that our permanent workers have the same ruling as servants.  We thus have a case of a double-doubt: perhaps the Halachah follows the opinion that a Jew lighting the fire is enough, and perhaps the permanent, non-Jewish soldiers have the status of servants.  It is thus possible to be lenient (Shut Yechaveh Da'at 5:54). 

Religious Jew
Q: What is the definition of a religious Jew?
A: One who observes the Halachot written in the Shulchan Aruch.

Yitzchak Avinu Erred…
Q: I heard that while it is true that the Rabbis forbid ascending to the Temple Mount, during his time, Yitzchak Avinu erred in wanted to bless Esav.  So too the Rabbis err in this ruling.
A: You must go to Maarat Ha-Machpelah to ask forgiveness from Yitzchak Avinu and at the same from all the Rabbis of Israel.

Stop Smoking
Q: I smoke.  I am not addicted but I enjoy it and cannot stop.  What should I do?
A: Stop gradually.  Smoke one less cigarette every week.

Room for Everyone After the Resurrection of the Dead
Q: How will there be enough room in the world for all of the people after the Resurrection of the Dead?
A: Maran Ha-Rav Kook said we will also live on other planets.

What is the Source?
A: What is the source for the answer I received?
A: I apologize.  I received 400 questions a day and do not have time to note the source.  If you want, the sources can be found in my books (She'eilat Shlomo, Piskei Shlomo, etc.).

Minhag for Adopted Child
Q: I was adopted.  Do I follow the Minhag of my adopted parents or my biological parents?
A: The parents with whom you live.

Blessing on Food that Does not Taste Good
Q: I eat food for sports-related reasons which does not taste good to me.  Do I recite a blessing on it or is it a blessing in vain?
A: You should certainly recite a blessing on it, since it sustains your body.

Loving My Son
Q: How do I love my son who rebels against the Torah and against me?

A: Learn from King David.  His son, Avshalom tried to kill him, and nonetheless when he died, he cried: "My son Avshalom, my son, my son Avshalaom, if only I could die in your place Avshalom, my son, my son… my son Avshalom, Avshalom, my son, my son".  Shmuel 2 19:1-5.  The Gemara in Sotah (10b) explains that David said "my son" eight times in order to raise him from the seven lower levels of Gehinom and have him enter Gan Eden.

New HEBREW Commentary on the Haggadah of Mordechai Tzion

New HEBREW Commentary on the Haggadah of Mordechai Tzion
Le-Shanah Ha-Zot Bi-Yerushalayim

Includes Eretz Yisrael in the Haggadah

Q&A of Gedolei Yisrael (Rav Aviner, Rav Nevenzal, Rav Kanievski & others) 

& practices of Rav Aviner on Pesach