'

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #407

 

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in Tzefat?!

Q: Is it true that Rebbe Nachman of Breslov was reburied in Tzefat and is no longer in Uman?

A: This claim has no strong basis.

 

Rambam's Medical Advice

Q: Is it permissible today to disagree with the Rambam's medical advice?

A: Yes.  The Rambam explains at length in his medical writings that they are not based on Torah but rather on Galen.  Baruch Hashem, medicine has greatly advanced since then.

 

Baal Shem Tov and Halachah

Q: The Baal Shem Tov did things which appear to be contrary to Halachah.  How so?

A: They appear to be contrary but are not.  They can be explained (The Satmar Rebbe opposed telling stories which seem to contradict Halachah so people will not come to take Halachah lightly.  In the book "Abir Ha-Ro'im", p. 31-33).

 

Sha'ar Ha-Rachamim

Q: Is it true that the Messiah will enter Yerushalayim through Sh'ar Ha-Rachamim?

A: No.  The Turkish Sultan heard this, and there closed up the gate.

 

Birkat Cohanim with Snuggly

Q: Is it permissible for a Cohain to recite Birkat Cohanim while carrying a baby in a snuggly?

A: When there is no other choice and the baby is covered.

 

Saving Parking Space for Husband

Q: Can I save a parking space for my husband when other cars want the space?

A: Yes.  "Ishto Ke-Gufo" – a wife and husband are like one being.

 

Falling Asleep in Front of Chief Rabbi

Q: If someone falls asleep during the Chief Rabbi's class, should I wake him up?

A: Yes.  It is certainly his desire even if he did not say so explicitly.  And the same applies to the classes of other Rabbis.

 

Minhag of Child of Divorced Parents

Q: Whose Minhag should a child of divorced parents follow if he lives with his mother?

A: His mother's.  After all, he lives with her there.

 

Tefillin for Vegan

Q: What should a Vegan do about putting on Tefillin?

A: Display self-sacrifice and put on regular Tefillin

 

22-Day Fast

Q: There was a news story that someone fasted for 22 days.  Is this possible?

A: Refraining from eating is possible – but damages the body.  But refraining from drinking for that long is impossible.

Short and Sweet - Q&A for Tishrei

 

"Zion shall be redeemed through Tzedakah" 
(Yeshayahu 1:27)

Please consider making a
HIGH HOLIDAY DONATION
to our Yeshiva in the heart of Yerushalayim

https://www.peach-in.com/org/ateret-yerushalayim-kaparot?ref=CzIF2oen

To our dear friends
,As we reach the holidays of Tishrei 
we are excited to send you a small taste
of our Beit Midrash in the
heart of Yerushalayim
Shana Tova!





Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A #406

 

Learning Maran Ha-Rav Kook in High School

Q: Is it appropriate for boys and girls to learning the writings of Maran Ha-Rav Kook in high school?

A: Selected portions.

 

Tip for Poor Service

Q: Do I still have to give a tip if someone provides poor service at a restaurant?

A: A small one.

 

Expulsion from Meiron

Q: Is the claim true that last year the Rashbi did not allow us to visit him on Lag Be-Omer, and this year he expelled us?

A: No.  

 

Calling Mom

Q: When I go out late at night, my mother asks me to check in, and sometimes it wakes her up.  Is it permissible to do so from the perspective of honoring parents?

A: Yes.  A person's desire is his honor.  See Tosafot in Kiddush 31b quoting the Yerushalami regarding Rabbi Tarfon's mother.

 

Treif Cooking Show

Q: Is it permissible to watch a cooking show where they prepare Treif food?

A: Yes, on condition they are non-Jews.

 

Unproven Stories about Rishonim

Q: Is it true that Rashi's daughters put on Tefillin?

A: There is no source for this, not among Rashi's descendants or his students.

Q: Did the Ramban's son convert to Christianity?

A: It is mentioned in a few books, but it never happened.

Q: Is the book Shut Besamin Rosh from the Rosh?

A: No.  None of it is from the Rosh.  An enlighted Jew from Berlin wrote it.

Q: Is the story about Maharam Mi-Rotenburg in jail reliable?

A: It is brought in Yam Shel Shlomo, but there is no earlier source for it.  It could be that an inaccurate story reached him.

 

Reserve Duty in Tzahal

Q: Should I perform reserve duty in Tzahal if it is difficult for my wife?

A: Certainly.  Reserve duty is a Mitzvah, an obligation, and a great merit.

 

Call from Another Phone Number

Q: If someone refuses to answer my telephone call, can I call from another person's telephone, or is it Genivat Da'at (deceit)?

A: It is certainly forbidden.  But you can ask your friend to call in your name.

 

Arab who Raises Palestinian Flag

Q: If I see an Arab raising a Palestinian flag, should I physically confront him in order to show that we are the sovereign authority here?

A: No.  1. Do not lower yourself to his level.  2. He knows full well that we are the sovereign authority here, and feels great shame, and therefore is involved with childish nonsense.

 

Mitzvah of Shalom Bayit

Q: If Shalom Bayit is so important, why doesn't the Torah make more mention of it?

A: It is the pinnacle of "Love your fellow as yourself".

 

Son in Father's Class

Q: Can a son be a student in his father's class?

A: It is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.  Each class must be decided on its own.  If there is a doubt, one should be strict and refrain from doing so.

 

Returning Corpses of Fallen Tzahal Soldiers

Q: What Mitzvah is there in returning corpses of fallen Tzahal soldiers from Gaza?  Redeeming captives?

A: No, it is the Mitzvah of honoring the deceased.

WHY I (AND YOU) NEED A RAV: A CASE “SHMUZE” ABOUT HARAV SHLOMO AVINER AND ME

 
by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon; Executive Director of Shapell’s/Darche Noam (Yerushalayim)
 
Today I want to talk about the importance of having a Rav.  As a case study, I will share with you about my thus far 26 year long relationship with my Rav, HaRav Shlomo Aviner shlit”a, how this happened and why this relationship has been a critical one in my life.
 
In Pirke Avot we are advised:     עשה לך רב…. Make yourself a Rav.
 
Why is this so important?  Why do we need to have a Rav?
 
So the first reason is the most obvious.  As religious Jews, we want to properly observe the halacha, which is what Hashem expects from us.  No matter how much we know, or think we know, we cannot possibly know all we need to know.  So we need to have someone to ask who can tell us the halacha. 
 
But your Rav really is far more than someone who knows the halacha; he is also someone who knows how to apply the halacha in your particular situation, often balancing different obligations and concerns.  He is someone who helps you to do Hashem’s will- in the broadest sense- in your own life.  And he is someone to help keep you balanced in your Avodat Hashem.
 
At this point I will pause to begin talking about my relationship with my Rav.  Shortly after I got married, my wife and I came to Israel for a two week visit.  The first Shabbat we were here, we stayed with students of what was then Ateret Cohanim in the so called Muslim Quarter.  We were amazed by their tremendous mesirut nefesh.  And we heard about their Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Shlomo Aviner.  Even then he was one of the most prominent rabbis in Religious Zionism bot only as a Rosh Yeshiva but also the Rav of Beit El and a prolific author.  I had bought some of this sefarim and decided to learn them.  I was blown away by the depth, the love of Am Yisrael and Erez Yisrael, the sensitivity to others and his ability to have a very clear and firm hashkafa while also loving and respecting others. So when back in the US as various questions came up I started to ask him via fax.  This was before he started getting hundreds of text messages daily with questions- so the responses were often longer.    This relationship continued into some phone calls and emails- and of course learning his sefarim . We actually continued this way about 11 years before I ever met Rav Aviner face to face.
 
Sometimes Rav Aviner has helped me with things that are not necessarily related to halacha or haskfafa.  Almost 25 years ago, when my oldest daughter was 4 months old, the pediatrician said that it was time to sleep train her- meaning, to put her in her crib and not to respond to her cries.  You can imagine that as first time parents my wife and I were very nervous.  So I faxed the Rav and asked him what we should do.  He wrote back a 2 page fax explaining that it was important to listen to the doctor, but that we should be sure every night to do a bedtime ritual with singing and stories and then gently put her to sleep.  I was amazed that he took such time and care to help someone he hadn’t yet met. 
 
Of course, most questions have been about halacha or haskafa.  There was one time when I called him from Chicago with two questions.  The first question was that we were expecting our first child, and my wife was to give birth in St. Francis Hospital-- which is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a Catholic hospital with a cross and you know who hanging off it in every room.  I was sure the care would be good.  But the idea of my child being born and the first thing they’d see was a cross bothered me.  So I asked him what to do.  He told me to cover it or take it down immediately upon entry.  So this is an example of having a Rav to tell you what the halacha requires.  I realized after that he didn’t get such questions from students in Yerushalayim or families in Beit El!
 
But I had another question.  There is a well known Halacha that if one spouse wants to make aliyah and the other does not, the spouse who wishes to may force the other.  And if the other doesn’t agree there may be a divorce.  So I asked him what to do if we would find ourselves in that situation.  He told me that though this is the theoretical halacha, and it shows us the importance of living in Israel, practically speaking we do not tell couples to do this.  Rather together they need to talk things through and come to an agreement. One spouse should not force another spouse to do things.    The Jewish family and love between husband and wife are to be preserved.  So this is an example of having a Rav to tell you how to apply halachot given the various obligations we have.
 
As a Baal Teshuva of more than 30 years, I can also say that this is particularly important in many situations we find ourselves in where we may be tempted to go to the extreme.  We want so much to do what the halacha requires that we don’t always have the clarity to understand how to apply these things in reality to have the best possible outcome.  For example, as a father and a Rav I have a very clear idea of how certain things I’d like my children to do and not not to do.  But how much should I force or pressure?  How about as they get older?  What about when they’re married?   Another example, when dealing with our children- or with non Observant family members- when is it wrong to be machmir?  A book can tell you what the black and white halacha is.  But your Rav can tell you what to do in the complicated real life situations we face.  So my Rav, Rav Aviner, has been very helpful in keeping me centered, to not over-pressure my kids, and to know when to look away and hope to lead by example.
 
Having a Rav has also helped me in my professional life.  Situations can be complex.  When I was a principal in Philadelphia, I heard that HaRav Shmuel Eliyahu was in the area and managed to get him to agree to speak in our school.  Some well connected parents heard about it and were very upset.  They felt he was too right wing and controversial.  They tried to get the school president to make me cancel.  I was worried.  There is an obligation of Kavod haTorah and Kavod Talmid Chachamim.  And it is absolutely forbidden to disgrace any Talmid Chacham.  Would I have to be willing to give up my job rather than to un invite the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat?  I emailed him the question.   Rav Aviner called me and said, “Rav Eliyahu knows that in America the Rabbis aren’t in charge, it’s the boards.  If they force you to cancel, do it and don’t lose your job.”  Having a Rav to help balance a complex situation and competing obligations was and is critical.  Fortunately, I did not have to cancel and Rav Eliyahu came and was tremendous.
 
But now let’s go even deeper.  Sometimes in life we find ourselves in critical situations where difficult decisions need to be made.  And when we are in the fog of confusion you need someone to help you.  Very often, having a Rav to turn to is critical.  So let me share with you a difficult part of my life.
 
Baruch Hashem, my oldest daughter is married with a beautiful daughter and meaningful work as a social worker.  But when she was in 9th and 10th grade we thought she would die.  You see it appeared that most days she could not eat, that her stomach didn’t work properly, and she was losing more and more weight.  She was tested for all sorts of things.  She was diagnosed with a stomach disorder and given a gastric pacemaker.  She was tube fed.  Nothing worked.  At the hospital they gave her TPN, intravenous feeding.  One night, the nurse caught her empting the feeding line.  We then started to realize what was going on.  She did not want to be fed.  She wanted to be as thin as possible.  The doctors told us she had an eating disorder, and it had to be treated.  My wife and I were not sure who to believe- and what to do.   So I wrote Rav Aviner who responded that we needed to talk and I should call.  When I did he told me gently but clearly that we needed to believe the doctors, and we needed to help our daughter any way possible.  Over the coming months he guided us, making sure when it became necessary to take her to an impatient center we’d do so- even though it meant her being there for  Yamim Noraim.  Pikuach Nefesh was more important.  Erev Yom Kippur he called my daughter to tell her that her Avoda was to eat and drink.  Did he tell me a lot that I didn’t know? Not really.  But he gave me the confidence to not get stuck in the fog and to do what the halacha required.  Take the available help to save my daughter’s life.  So he certainly took part in saving her life.  Baruch Hashem he came to my oldest daughter’s wedding and said a bracha under the chuppah.
 
We have continued to go to Rav Aviner for life’s challenges, including the difficulties we’ve been going through with our youngest son, Yehuda Yair Nissim, being ill for the last 2 ½ years.  I asked him about trying a medical treatment that has some risk but only a possible reward.  He promptly quoted a psak of the Tiferet Yisrael not in a volume of responsa but in his commentary on Mishna Yoma.  The Tiferet Yisrael wrote about one of the earliest vaccines, the vaccine for smallpox.  At that time, 1 out of a thousand people who took the vaccine died because of it.  On the other hand, smallpox was deadly.  But of course, not everyone got smallpox. So should one take the vaccine that had a risk for a possible life saving benefit?  The answer was yes.  So Rav Aviner applied this to our son’s case.  Even though he’s not in danger of losing his life, his quality of life has been very much damaged.  So one may take a slight risk to do something that the doctors say may help.
 
A fourth reason for having a Rav applies to married people.  It’s very important to have a Rav who both the husband and wife agree on who they can ask questions to.  In the course of a hopefully long marriage, there will be disagreements as to what is proper to do.  These disagreements may be over seemingly small things or they may be over larger things.  Sometimes you need a neutral party who you can count on.  That’s your Rav, as he can guide you as to what is halachically or hashkaficlly proper- or simply good sense.
 
A fifth reason for having a Rav is to be part of a Mesorah- a chain.  My Rav is Rav Aviner.  His Rav was Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, whose Rav was his father, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, whose Rav was the Netziv of Volozhin, whose Rav was Rav Chaim of Volizhin, whose Rav was the Vilna Gaon.  Now there are many different chains of Mesorot in Torah Judaism.  Sometimes they intersect, other times not. But they are all authentic chains that go back to Sinai   These are the chains that keep the Torah and Am Yisrael  alive.  When we have a Rav with a Mesorah, we are part of that chain.  It gives us grounding.  It keeps us from doing things that while perhaps not technically forbidden with a special law in Shulchan Aruch, are nevertheless things that are not acceptable for people who have a Mesora.  Chidush within the tradition is great...but innovation to try to have the Torah to conform to the latest fad isn’t.  Having a Rav helps us maintain this balance. 
 
A sixth reason for having a Rav is to help us have a Torah hashkafa that balances all aspects of our service to Hashem and guides us in how to act.  It’s a complicated world.  And if one hyper focuses on one aspect, even if it is a very important aspect, of our religious life we can be in danger of doing the wrong thing because of a failure to see the whole picture the Torah wants.  A few examples from my Rav. 
 
Rav Aviner is a great example of someone with a clear and strong hashkafa based on his understanding of Torah as he got from his Rebbe.  Because of this, not in spite of this, he always talks about that separation of opinions is allowed, but not of hearts.  Some examples…
 
1- Before the assassination of PM Rabin he was asked if Rabin, who was willing to give up land was a traitor. He told people - Chas V’Shalom.  A traitor is someone who tries to harm his people.  Rabin was trying to help our people.  We believe his ideas and plans were wrong . So it is necessary to protest, to try to change the government, etc.  But that doesn’t mean he is a traitor.
 
2- Satmar Chassidim have views on Israel that are the direct opposite to those of Religious Zionism.  And thus we feel that those views are incorrect.  Nevertheless we are to honor and respect them and their Rebbeim- and to acknowledge the very many good things that they do.  How about the most extreme group, Neturei Karta, who actively protest against the existence of Israel, some even meeting with Iran?  How do we view those people?  Rav Aviner teaches we view them with pity.  They are confused, in some cases mentally ill. No normal person helps those who want to kill them.   Why yell at them ?  Love them and feel bad for them. So I remember when we took students to the Israel Day Parade in New York, I told students that they shouldn’t yell at the Neturei Karta protesters.  They should ignore them and feel sorry for them.
 
3- How do we view left wing Jews? Secular Jews?  We fight those ideas which are bad while simultaneously loving them and honoring them for the good they do. Is this always easy?  No.  But it's our obligation.  We are to love every Jew.  As Rav Kook says, the second Beit haMikdash was destroyed due to Sinat Chinam, hate for no reason.  The Third will be rebuilt due to Ahavat Chinam, love for no other reason than someone is our fellow Jew.
 
4- Rav Aviner, following the view of his Rav, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt”l, holds that it is absolutely forbidden to give up any part of Eretz Yisrael as it has been designed by Hashem for Am Yisrael for eternity.  He also holds that it is a mitzvah to settle everywhere- so long as it is not on the private property of another.  At the same time, he- like his Rav before him- teaches that one is forbidden to protest violently or to harm innocents in any way.  And if our police or soldiers are ordered to remove Jews from an area it is strictly forbidden to touch or insult one of them.  A few years ago part of the neighborhood of  Netiv Avot in Elazar was ordered evacuated by the Israeli Supreme Court.  There were people who arranged to be present during the evacuation in order to sit down on the site and to peacefully protest the ruling.  I asked Rav Aviner if I should go and bring some of my kids.  He said that I should not do either as he was afraid there could be violence. In the end he was sadly correct.
 
Rav Aviner has taught me in the path of Rav Kook that our job is not simply to make ourselves and our families the best we can be, but that our job is to help strengthen all of Am Yisrael.  So making decisions at times isn’t necessarily what is best for elevating my own Avodah, but is best for doing my part for elevating the entire Nation. Of course, sometimes you can do both.  For example, though Rav Aviner never pressured me to make aliyah, he certainly encouraged it both because it would ultimately be best for my family but also because it was best for Klal Yisrael to be part of the continued revival of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. And when we finally made aliyah he called us shortly after landing to wish us a mazal tov.
 
So having a Rav helps make sure that we are getting the complete, complex message of the Torah- and not hyperfocusing on only one issue.  Having a Rav keeps us balanced and focused.
 
A seventh reason is to have a role model- someone to aspire to be like….even if we know we’ll never fully get there.
 
And now a word of caution.  Having a Rav does not mean checking our brain at the door, nor to substitute Hashem with the Rav.  There have been very sad cases of charismatic, so called rabbis who have done terrible things- including rape or adultry that they justified to their followers.  Some have ended up in prison.   There are cases of so called rabbis  or kabbalaists who charge for brachot or tefillot.  There were a few rabbis during the corona crisis who said not to get vaccinated.  Rav Aviner said that rabbis are not doctors; but rabbis can tell you that the halacha is to listen to the majority of the highest level doctors.   So even as we choose a Rav as a guide and role model, we must remember that this does not mean blind obedience and forgetting Who is really in charge. 
 
One thing I have always admired about Rav Aviner is that he teaches people to think for themselves.  One interesting example is during election time.  Rav Aviner does tell students and others who he is voting for and why.  But he is also emphatic that, as the Chatam Sofer taught, elections are like a Beit Din so every voter is like a Dayan.  Every voter is obligated to research and consider what would be best for Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael- even if it is not always best personally- and vote accordingly.  I made aliyah seven years ago and have merited to vote in 5 elections!  Sometimes I’ve voted like my Rav, and sometimes I haven’t...which is exactly what he wants.
 
Although I never learned more than a day at a time in Rav Aviner's Yeshiva I am very much his talmid.  Over 26 years, hundreds of sefairm, hundreds of recording shiurim, hundreds of emails, phone calls, a Shabbat in his home and more he has impacted my hashkafa and my life tremendously.. He is truly my Rav.
 
I encourage you to find a Rav with whom you are comfortable.  Someone who is a genuine Talmid Chacham who understands you, who helps you see the complete picture of Torah, who can keep you balanced, grounded and part of a mesorah.  A Rav who you can truly trust, one who cares about you and who knows how to help you apply the entire Torah to your life, who can help you solve difficult issues, and who can inspire you in your Avodat Hashem and Ahavat Yisrael and commitment to Am Yisrael.  I am very fortunate to have a Rav as part of my life and hope that Hashem will bless you in the same way.