The Unity of the Four Species and the Nation of Israel

[Opening words from Ha-Rav's radio show]

There is a famous teaching of our Rabbis (Vayikra Rabbah 30:12) that there are four types of Jews. There are some Jews compared to an etrog, which has a good taste and a good smell, and these Jews possess both Torah learning and mitzvah observance. The Lulav (palm branch) has a good taste but no smell representing the Jews who learn Torah but do not observe the mitzvot. And there are some Jews like the Hadas (myrtle) which has a good smell but no taste. These Jews fulfill the mitzvot but do not learn Torah. And then there is the Aravah (willow) which has no smell and no taste like the Jews without Torah or mitzvot. The midrash concludes that these groups join together – when we hold the Four Species together - and one atones for the other. The Ramchal explained in his book "Mesilat Yesharim" (end of chap. 19) that Hashem does not want Jews to separate from one another. One group atones for the other. Thus, if you are an Etrog you should not place yourself above others and say that they are no good. You are an Etrog – full of Torah and mitzvot – for all of the Nation of Israel.

There is a story found in the Beit Yosef (Orach Chaim 651) that Rabbi Menachem Rakanti once had a dream in which he saw Hashem's four-letter name written with the first three letters together and then the last letter of its own. He woke up quite bothered and did not understand the meaning of the dream. In the morning, he saw that there was a guest who held the Lulav, Hadas and Aravah in one hand and the Etrog in the other hand and did not join them together. He then understood that according to the mystical teaching the Four Species correspond to the four letters of Hashem's Name. One who separates the Four Species, separates the letters of Hashem's Name. We can go even further to say that one who causes discord and fragmentation among the Nation of Israel also causes a separation among the letters of Hashem's Name. This idea is found in the teachings of Rabbi David Tabil of Minsk, the author of "Nachalat David" (Beit David, darash 6 quoted in Olat Re'eiyah vol. 2, p. 468). This is also written in the midrash about the Four Species which we mentioned that Hashem says: If you become one united group, I will be elevated. Everything is dependent on the Nation of Israel uniting.

We will not cease speaking about the importance of the unity of the Nation of Israel. Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah would repeat himself over and over regarding important matters.

People occasionally say: The time has arrived to unite the camp. Baruch Hashem, we have finally reached an ideal upon which everyone can agree. Only one small detail remains: Who is this camp? There are obviously many camps and each marches with its large flag and small trumpets. And each camp thinks it possesses the entire truth, and the other camps are members of a different religion. Since everyone is suggesting a camp, I will also give my suggestion. The camp I suggest is the entire Nation of Israel. This is the true camp. Do not be confused into thinking that you have the entire truth. This is contained within the entire Nation of Israel and everyone is needed. It does not help that the Etrog is better than the other species, since you cannot fulfill the mitzvah with four Etrogim. You need all four species. The Master of the Universe spread all of the talents among the entire Nation. Therefore, if you see someone who looks empty, perhaps he is not. After all, our Sages say (Sanhedrin 37a) that every the empty ones in the Nation of Israel are full of mitzvot like a pomegranate.

Our Rabbi & Sukkot

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook
Our Rabbi would remind his students of the importance of sleeping in the sukkah. When he was in Switzerland in the cold and snow, he would not forgo even one night of sleeping in the sukkah.

A student related: "On Sukkot, great Rabbis sat in our Rabbi’s sukkah, and I brought my younger girls to visit so that he would know who they were. Suddenly my youngest daughter said out loud: ‘What an ugly sukkah, it is not kosher at all!’ Everyone stared, and I was embarrassed. Our Rabbi asked: ‘Who said that?’ I wanted to hide my daughter, but she answered: ‘I did!’ ‘Come here," the Rav said, ‘What do you have to say about the sukkah?’ ‘This is a sukkah? It is just boards!’ ‘What do you want?’ ‘Shach, greenery, trees, leaves. This is not kosher at all!’ Our Rabbi said: ‘Perfect innocence.’ This is what he said about her."

It happened one time that some people brought our Rabbi a schach mat (when they first became available): he examined it to see if it was kosher, and he was satisfied. Another time, some people brought him schach; he spent a long time investigating to be certain that it was taken from a permissible area and there was no fear of it being stolen. He requested that they check with the municipality that it was permissible to take them.

When he needed to leave the sukkah (in the year 5740), when it was raining hard, he said: "It seems that there is a greater need for rain than our mitzvot" (this was after a few years on drought, and afterwards this year was a year of blessing). (Gadol Shimusha P. 102)
One year our Rabbi pointed out with joy, that the etrog came to him from Kefar Ha-Roeh (Gadol Shimusha pg. 94).

When he would take the etrog he would kiss it (ibid.).

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #25

Magdil, Migdol
The same verse appears twice in the Tanach with a minor change. In the Book of Tehillim (18:51), it is written "Magdil" (meaning "He is magnifying [magdil] the salvation of His King [David]"), while in the Book of Shmuel (2 22:51) it says "Migdol" (meaning "He is a tower [migdol] of salvation to His King"). The Book of Shmuel is part of the "Prophets," which were said through prophecy. The Book of Tehillim is part of the "Writings," which were said through the Divine Spirit. Our Sages teach that there is a difference between "To David, a Psalm" and "A Psalm of David": "‘To David, a Psalm’ teaches that first the Divine Presence rested on him and then he recited that song; ‘A Psalm of David’ teaches that he first recited the Psalm and only then the Divine Presence rested on him" (Pesachim 117a). At times he began to sing and the Divine Presence rested on his song. This is the Divine Spirit. At other times, the Divine Presence rested on him, and, on account of this, we began to sing. This is prophecy. Our Rabbi, Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, therefore explained that on the days of holiness like Shabbat and holidays, we use the more exalted version, "Migdol," and on weekdays the simpler version, "Magdil." The meaning of "Magdil" is that the Master of the Universe is the One who brings about the process of the magnification of the Salvation. "Migdol," is that He, may He be blessed, is the Infinite Essence of greatness.

Happiness Doesn’t Feel Happy

[Translated from the book "Happy Women" by Chana Jenny Weisberg, the creator of the Jewish MomVideo Series that can be viewed on her popular website: JewishMom.com]

Lest you should say, “It’s true that there is a commandment to perform mitzvot with joy, but what can I do if I simply don’t feel any joy?” This is an important question, and the answer is just as important: you can be happy without feeling happy, and you can feel happy without being happy. Of course, I have nothing against feeling happy, but this is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness is not the same thing as enjoyment; happiness is a feeling of internal satisfaction from doing good things, and from fulfilling our obligations. It is similar to a feeling of joy. Pleasure, from eating delicious food for example, is fleeting. Enjoyment is felt for a moment and after that it disappears, and sometimes the pursuit of pleasure even turns into a disease.
Western society is a society of pleasures, brimming with delicacies, but its citizens are miserable, and this situation is not new. For several hundred years the great Western writers have been describing miserable and suffering human beings, to whom the pleasures of the world do not bring happiness. People are in despair, broken, disgusted by life, nauseated by life, vomiting life. The French philosopher Sartre wrote a book called “Nausea.” This is the constant emotional state of the Western human being – a nausea from life. Another existentialist philosopher from Germany named Heidegger, described how a person has a feeling of Geworfeheit – having been thrown into the world. In other words, people feel thrown into a world devoid of meaning, and all of the pleasures of the world cannot fill the void within them with happiness.
Our Sages compare the verse “And also the spirit will not be filled” (Kohelet 6:7) with a princess who marries a townsperson who presents her with many luxuries, but her heart yearns for the palace of the king (Kohelet Raba). The soul is the princess, and food and drink cannot fill her: the soul has different aspirations altogether.
The happiness of performing a mitzvah is closer to the concept of joy. Joy is a constant experience that comes from the knowledge and from the internal consciousness of human beings that they are honest and good – and that if sometimes they fail, they can repent.
We all know the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” We won’t respond to that question at the moment. We will only present what our Sages teach us, that in a certain sense there is no such thing as bad things happening to good people. Righteous people, Tzaddikim, are joyful. They might be sick and impoverished, exiled from their homeland and beaten, but this does not cause them unhappiness. Also the notion of “good things happening to bad people” does not exist. A person can have treasures and palaces, but if he is a bad person nothing will bring him happiness.
The happiness of the mitzvah is the internal consciousness, the internal awareness of people that they are good and honest, and that they therefore lack nothing. They do not require any reward for this. “The reward for a mitzvah is a mitzvah” (Avot 4:2) They are happy that they have performed a mitzvah, and they yearn to perform yet another.

Amount of sacrifices when the Temple is rebuilt

Q: How many sacrifices will we need to bring for our transgressions when the Temple is rebuilt?
A: Immediately after the destruction of the Temple, it was thought that the Temple might soon be rebuilt, and so each person would put the money aside for a sacrifice when he transgressed. The money then became mixed up with other money and was used for other purposes, and so people ceased putting the money aside. Therefore, when the Temple is rebuilt, we will be required to bring many Sin Offerings for our accidental transgressions.
In Shut Torah Lishma (#120), the Ben Ish Chai discussed the ruling of the Rama in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 334:26) that if one desecrates Shabbat by accident, he should gives 18 "shekels" to Tzedakah in place of the "Korban Chatat" (Sin Offering). He was asked: If some gives the Tzedakah, will he still have to bring a Korban Chatat when the Temple is rebuilt? The Ben Ish Chai answered that the Gemara in Shabbat (12b) rules that it is forbidden to read by candle light on Shabbat lest one come to tilt the candle so that the oil flows to the wick and ignite the flame even more. Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha said: I will read but I will not tilt it. He was once reading, and was about to tilt it - he said, how great are the words of the Sages, who forbade to read by a lamp! According to Rabbi Natan, Rabbi Yishmael actually did tilt the lamp and wrote in his diary: "'I, Yishmael ben Elisha, read by a lamp and tilted the Shabbat light, and when the Temple is rebuilt, I will bring a fat Korban Chatat." The Ben Ish Chai says that if it is enough to give Tzedakah in place of a Korban Chatat, why did Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha wrote that he was obligated to bring a sacrifice in his diary?!
Our Sages also say (see Menachot 110a): Anyone who reads the section in the Torah about the Korban Chatat is considered as if he sacrificed it. The Ben Ish Chai says that it is considered as if he brought the sacrifice, not that he actually did so; and when the Temple is rebuilt, he will be obligated to bring it. See introduction to the book "Likutei Halachot" of the Chafetz Chaim who discussed this issue.
But we also need to understand that there are many conditions regarding which transgressions require a Korban Chatat. Not every transgression requires one. See the Rambam in Hilchot Shogagim for all of the conditions.
There will therefore be a lot of sacrifices, as it says: "Like the flock of sacrifices, like the flock of Jerusalem, in her holidays, so shall the destroyed cities be filled with flocks of men, and they will know that I am Hashem" (Yechezkel 36:38) – there are many Jews and many sacrifices. How will we solve all of the technical problems of having so many people and so many animals at the Temple? I do not know but we will solve them, but right now that is not the issue. The problem is: how do we reach the conditions for rebuilding the Temple: the Nation of Israel’s complete repentance?
In this context, it is worth mentioning what our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, related about the book "Likutei Halachot" of the Chafetz Chaim which is like the "Mishnah Berurah" for sacrifices in the Temple. The Chafetz Chaim asked his close friend Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Te'omim, Ha-Aderet – the Rav of Ponovezh and Maran Ha-Rav Kook's father-in-law – to write an approbation for the book. Ha-Aderet said to Maran Ha-Rav Kook: "I received a letter from Reb Yisrael Meir, the Chafetz Chaim, and he informed me that he is preparing to publish a sort of 'Mishnah Berurah' on sacrifices, and he asked me to write a letter of support and an approbation. I want to honor his request immediately, without delay. But you see that it is impossible, because of the great Rabbinic demands of a big city which leaves me absolutely no time to rest. I am therefore asking you do me this favor: You write it. What you write will be in my spirit, and it will be as if I wrote it." Maran Ha-Rav Kook prepared the letter for him and gave it to him to sign. Within the lengthy letter, full of feelings of holiness for the expectation of Salvation, preparations for the Temple and the sacrifices, he brought a teaching of our Sages: "Rabbi Yochanan said: The Torah scholars who engaged in the Laws of the Temple Service are considered as if they build the Temple in their days." But we must understand what being "engaged" in the Laws of the Temple Service means. It is not simply reciting it, as printed in the Siddurim. Our Sages used the word "engaged in," i.e. to learn the subject with depth and toil in the manner of Torah scholar to elucidate the Halachah. Ha-Aderet said to Maran Ha-Rav Kook: How can I sign when you added your own teaching? How can I be a thief? Ha-Aderet therefore added before the innovative explanation: "And his honor, the well-known Gaon, who is praised, our teacher Ha-Rav Avraham Ha-Cohain, may his light illuminate, the Av Beit Din of Boisk, pointed out to me..." The Aderet then signed the letter but it was written by Maran Ha-Rav Kook. And with Hashem's help, the "Mishnah Berurah" of sacrifices will be used as a halachic guide when the Temple is rebuilt and we bring all the required sacrifices.

The righteousness of Maran Ha-Rav Kook and our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah

Question: There is the famous story that Maran Ha-Rav Kook admonished Reb Aryeh Levin because he picked a leaf off a tree while they were walking. He said: "Every blade of grass says something, every stone whispers a secret, every creature sings a story" (Malachim Kivnei Adam, p. 239-240). And I saw in Ha-Rav's book "Rabbenu" (p. 61) about our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, that at the end of our Rabbi's class on Maran Ha-Rav Kook's commentary on the siddur, "Olat Re'eiyah," some students entered to talk to him about an important matter. He motioned to them not to say anything and that they should sit next to him on the couch. The students were surprised by the need for silence since nobody was in house. Our Rabbi also sat silently and left his book open. After a while, he said with a wonderful smile: "He has desired it for His dwelling" and he repeated: "He has desired it for His dwelling" (Tehillim 132:13). The students assumed that this was what out Rabbi was teaching from "Olat Re'eiyah." He smiled again and said: "He has desired it for His dwelling" and pointed at the book. The students looked closely and saw a moth on the book. Our Rabbi did not want the students to scare it, he therefore told them to enter quietly. After a few minutes, the moth flew away on its own. Our Rabbi closed the book and began to talk. Are we also required to act with such sensitivity to plants and insects? After all, there does not seem to be an issue of "tza'ar ba'alei chaim" (cruelty to animals) here? And regarding the story of our Rabbi: doesn't the concern of "Bitul Torah" (taking away from Torah learning) override such an act of righteousness?Answer: These are truly acts of righteousness and a person is not obligated in them. Each person should act according to his ability and spiritual level. There is obviously a difference between these two stories. In the story of Reb Aryeh, there was no reason to pick the leaf. Why should a person pluck a leaf off a tree for no reason? In the second story, there was a reason: Not to scare the moth. Acting in this way is a personal decision. Regardless, this is not "Bitul Torah" since fulfilling the Torah is not "Bitul Torah."

Shut SMS #37

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah," "Olam Ha-Katan" and "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Eumnah." Here's a sample:
Q: Is it permissible to recite the silent "Shemoneh Esrei" out loud on the High Holidays?
A: Some Ashkenazim raise their voices a little with the condition that one does not bother others.
Q: Which is preferable – a person leading the davening who sings beautifully or who is a righteous person?
A: Obviously a righteous person. There is no question.
Q: There is a custom not to sleep on Rosh Hashanah. What if I am really tired?
A: It is permissible. By the way, there is no difference between sleeping and sitting idly. Mishnah Berurah.
Q: Is there a custom to eat fish or Rosh Hashanah?
A: Some do and some do not.
Q: Does the annulment of vows performed on Erev Rosh Hashanah nullify all the vows of a person?
A: No. Only positive acts which a person has performed a few times; and not an actual vow which he has made. The same applies for Kol Nidrei.
Q: Is it permissible to eat before the blowing of the Shofar.
A: There are various opinions. Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, did not eat.
Q: If there is no choice, may one recite Selichot during the day?
A: Yes, with a minyan.
Q: Is it permissible to recite Selichot at night before midnight?
A: The basic halachah is that it is permissible. Igrot Moshe.
Q: When we prostrate on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is it necessarily to put down a cloth?
A: If one puts his head to the floor, he must put a cloth there because of the prohibition of bowing to stones.
Q: Is it permissible for me to occasionally smoke "light" drugs when I am hanging out with friends?
A: G-d forbid. It is a severe Torah prohibition. It is also dangerous.
Q: What should I do if my mother always speaks Lashon Ha-Ra?
A: Steer the conversation in another direction.
Q: What should I do if the minyan I am davening in goes so fast that I am in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei when they reach Kedushah?
A: Daven as you would and when they reach Kedushah, stop and listen quietly based on the principle "Shome'a Ke-Oneh" (one who listens is like one who said it).
Q: Is it permissible to make a personal phone call at work?
A: In a rare circumstance for a short time.
Q: Why is it forbidden to smoke, there is also unhealthy food?
A: One also has to eat healthy food, but smoking is very dangerous: 10,000 people dies each year in Israel from smoking.
Q: Ha-Rav wrote that the idea of the 36 righteous people is a late teaching. Does this apply specifically to the fact that they are hidden?
A: In the Gemara, Abaye mentioned the 36 righteous people, and only the Chasidic movement mentions the fact that they are hidden.

Parashat Ha-Azinu: The Song without Any Preconditions

[Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Devarim p. 505-508 – edited by Rav Aviner]

The song "Ha-Azinu" briefly and broadly describes how the Master of the Universe leads the Nation of Israel from the Exodus out of Egypt, then the generation of the desert, and all of the generations until today and on to the end of days. The Torah portion begins: "Listen heavens…and hear earth" (Devarim 32:1), i.e. there is a cosmological value to all matters relating to Israel. The Ramban explained that this song is not dependent on Israel's repentance (ibid. verse 40). This idea is explicit in the prophet Yechezkel (36:22): "It is not for your sake, House of Israel, that I act," but for my sake, because there is disgrace and desecration of Hashem's Name. "Woe to the father who exiles his children" (Berachot 3a). It is impossible to continue enduring this desecration of Hashem's Name: "It was said of them: These are Hashem's Nation and they had to leave their Land" (Yechezkel 36:20). Therefore, "I sanctified My great name, which is desecrated among the nations… And I brought you to your Land" (ibid. 23-24). And then you will be healed.

We must first come home to the Land of Israel. This is established by the Ramban that the Land of Israel must be in our hands and not "in the hand of another one of the nations" (Additions to Sefer Ha-Mitzvot, Positive Mitzvah #4) as it says, "And you shall possess it and dwell in it" (Devarim 11:31). It is necessary to have a State. A land under control of a nation is none other than a state. The Ramban therefore says that there is no precondition: there will be the Redemption of Israel and their return to their Land. And then "He will forgive His Nation through His Land" (Devarim 32:43), since "the Air of the Land of Israel makes one wise" (Baba Batra 158b). We will first return to the Land and then we will be spiritually healed.

The Chafetz Chaim relates that Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin once asked the Vilna Gaon: We learn all positive character traits from Hashem based on "And follow His ways" (Sotah 14a explaining Devarim 13:5) – just as He is gracious and merciful, so too you should be gracious and merciful (Shabbat 133b). But where do we learn that Hashem is "happy with His Lot" (Avot 4:1), from which we learn the obligation to be happy with our lot? The Vilna Gaon answered: From the verse "For Hashem's portion is His Nation" (Devarim 32:9) from the song Ha-Azinu, since we are called His children whether we act correctly or not (Kiddushin 36a). Hashem is happy with His children even when we fail to act in the appropriate manner of being His children. This is a song with no strings attached.

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #24

"For the Messianic Age and for the life of the World-to-Come"

The Rambam explained that these two realities are completely separate. The World-to-Come is a spiritual world full of miracles which does not contain the body, only the soul. In contrast, the Messianic Age is in this world, but with the return of the Kingship of David to its former sovereignty: The Messianic Age is in this world and the world will continue according to its pattern, but the Kingship will return to Israel. And our early Sages already said: "The sole difference between this world and the Days of the Messiah is the servitude to the nations" (Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah - Laws of Repentance 9:2 and see Hilchot Melachim - Laws of Kings 11:1, 12:1).

Our Rabbi & the Holocaust

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook
The Holocaust
Our Rabbi gave a parable in relation to the Holocaust: There is a house next to a forest and a young child plays at the edge of the forest. It begins to get dark in the late afternoon, and the mother goes out and calls to the child: "Come inside the house, it is beginning to get dark and cold." The child does not listen. The mother goes out and calls again: "It is already cold. There is hot water for a shower, a hot meal and a clean bed. Come into the house," but the child does not hear. She yells next time: "It is already night, lions and bears roar in the forest, and they will soon go out to search for prey. It is dangerous to be outside, but the child continues to hide from her. The mother finally decides that she needs to bring him in by force. She approaches him and grabs the child, who is yelling and protesting by force. The time had arrived to go home, and to save him from the attacking animals, she would have pulled off one of his limbs, if she had to. (Ha-Rabbanit Chana Tau, Am Nolad p. 17)

Someone once came to pick up our Rabbi in a Volkswagen. He refused to enter.
(Ha-Rav David Goldenberg)

Our Rabbi disagreed with what Ha-Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik said in the name of his father, Ha-Rav Moshe, that anyone who arises against the Nation of Israel to wage war is in the category of Amalek in all respects (Kol Dodi Dofek p. 101, Five Derashot and Nefesh Ha-Rav, p. 87). And he said that it was only a derashah (a homiletic teaching), and one should refrain from saying things such as like this. While Ha-Rav Moshe held that "Amalek" is defined by a philosophy and can apply to any nation, our Rabbi held that it only refers to the biological offspring of Amalek (Ha-Rav Yitzchak Shilat quoted in the book "Melumdei Milchamah" of Ha-Rav Nachum Eliezer Rabinovitz. See Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam #187 and Moreh Nevuchim 3, 50).

Why Eretz Yisrael?

[From "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" – Parashat Netzavim-Vayelech 5769 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: Why is Eretz Yisrael the only thing that interests you people? You’re fixated on it! Certainly it’s important, but there are other important things: Torah study and mitzvah observance, education and our country’s social problems.

Answer: Indeed, this claim has provided a ready excuse for complaining over the years, and there are two answers to it:
First, why be inaccurate? Why mislead and confuse people? It isn’t true. We’re involved in Eretz Yisrael, but also in Torah learning and mitzvah observance and education and social issues. “Everything G-d said, we will do and obey” (Shemot 24:27). And precisely because the battlefront is so long, we have to work on ourselves in every one of these spheres, and G-d will come to our aid.
Second of all, are we properly devoted to Eretz Yisrael? It should only be so! Surely you can’t suspect Moshe of not being devoted to Torah and mitzvot, education and society, yet he still begged to enter Eretz Yisrael: “I beseeched G-d at that time saying, ‘Let me pass through and see the good land…’” (Devarim 3:23-25). G-d finally said to him, “You’ve said enough!” (verse 26). Don’t ask anymore. “Let people not say, ‘How unfair the Master! How stubborn and incalcitrant the disciple!” (Rashi). That shows how vociferously Moshe begged. “Here is one of three places where Moshe told G-d, ‘I won’t relent until You tell me if You’re going to fulfill my request or not” (Rashi, verse 23). Yet surely Moses had a reason for doing so. Eretz Yisrael has profound importance, the very most profound importance of all. It was only for a matter of such profundity that Moshe begged G-d in this manner. And Eretz Yisrael involves not just one profound matter, but 252 profound matters. Ha-Rav Natan Shapiro, the Chief Rabbi of Cracow, born in 1591, was one of the greatest mekubalim [mystics] of Poland in his day. His entire book “Megaleh Amukot” is devoted to those same 252 arguments used by Moshe to explain why he craved to enter the Land. He did not invent them all. Rather, they are taken from the works of Rabbi Menachem Racanati, the “Rokeach,” the Arizal, Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Pano, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero and Rambam’s Guide to the Perplexed. (see the work, “Kol HaNevu’a” by Rabbi David HaKohen, “the Nazir”, page 269). For example, number four is: “If someone possesses the merit from Eretz Yisrael, he can rid the world of its craving for idolatry.” Also, Eretz Yisrael is a key to “attaining the secret of wisdom… because the air of Eretz Yisrael makes one wise.” Certainly Moshe was full of divine wisdom, yet he still craved to enter Eretz Yisrael to add on more.
Principle 170 is: Eretz Yisrael is the key to fulfilling “The humble shall inherit the Land” (Tehillim 37:11), for the culmination of all character traits is humility. Certainly Moshe was the most humble man on earth. Even so, he longed to enter the Land to become more so.
Principle 187: “Eretz Yisrael is the key to bringing all the nations under the wings of the Divine Presence. That’s why Moshe beseeched Hashem. He was acting for the sake of Heaven, with the intent of helping all mankind to serve G-d.”
Indeed, Eretz Yisrael is a very profound matter. And may we merit to become more closely attached to Eretz Yisrael and to delve more deeply in the topic of Eretz Yisrael.

Lashon Ha-Ra on the news

Q: Is there a problem with hearing Lashon Ha-Ra on the news?
A: First of all, one does not need to listen to the news every hour. A summary of the news once a day is enough. Now, most of the news is not Lashon Ha-Ra. If there is suddenly Lashon Ha-Ra on the news, plug your ears. When a friend speaks Lashon Ha-Ra, you also have to plug your ears although it is uncomfortable; but when there is Lashon Ha-Ra on the radio there is no such difficulty in plugging your ears. One should therefore act this way.

Tefillin Knot

Q: I am a Ba'al Teshuvah and bought a pair of Tefillin. On the head Tefillin, it had the Ashkenazic knot since these are my family roots. I was at a Chabad house to learn how to put on the Tefillin and they changed the knot to the Chabad knot. Which tradition should I
A: One obviously fulfills his obligation with any of the traditions of knots but it is preferable for one to follow the custom of his ancestors. If your forefathers were not Chabad, follow the tradition of your forefathers. If they are Ashkenazic, it should be an Ashkenazic knot. If they were Chasidic-Ashkenazic, it should be a Chasidic knot. If you are not certain, follow the regular Ashkenazic tradition since this was the original custom.

Ketiva Ve-Chatima Tova!

in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem
under the leadership of HA-RAV SHLOMO AVINER SHLIT"A

For the Ascension of the soul of Maran Ha-Rav Kook

Q: I was at a class on the yahrzeit of Maran Ha-Rav Kook – 3rd Elul – and the Rabbi said that we are learning for the ascension of the soul of Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook. Can Maran Ha-Rav Kook's soul still ascend? Isn't he dwelling at the highest possible place a person can be?
A: This is true, but when Maran Ha-Rav Kook's students learn his Torah in his merit, this certainly causes his soul to ascend, whether you say: "For the ascension of his soul" or you do not say it. The greatness of Maran Ha-Rav Kook is not only what he did in his life but all of his students and his students' students which are in his merit.

"Muzinka" at a Wedding

Q: What is the source for the muzinka at a wedding (a special dance when a couple marries off their last child)?
A: Rav Aviner was not familiar with it (Ha-Rav added that obviously it is forbidden for men and women to dance together).

Shut SMS #36

Rabbi Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah," "Olam Ha-Katan" and "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Eumnah." Here's a sample:
Q: What should I read to comfort me over the fact that someone dear to me has been stricken with cancer?
A: Tehillim and Chovot Ha-Levavot – Sha'ar Ha-Bitachon (Gate of Trust).
Q: Which way should one open the Parochet (curtain) on the ark? Source?
A: It does not matter – Perishah 128. It is preferable from the left – Derishah 651.
Q: A person offended me greatly and has not asked forgiveness. Am I obligated to forgive him?
A: No.
Q: Does one who cuts someone else's nails, such as for a child, have to wash Netilat Yadayim?
A: No, but the person who has his nails cut is obligated to wash.
Q: Ha-Rav, you were right! Reflexology is nonsense. It is a pity that I did not listen to you. We would have saved a lot of money and anguish.
A: May Hashem bless you.
Q: Is it permissible to kiss a child in shul?
A: No. It is only a place for service of Hashem. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 90.
Q: Is it permissible to collect donations for a holy purpose if I receive 40% of the money?
A: On condition that you inform the donor.
Q: Is it obligatory to remove the sticker from a glass vessel before immersing it in a mikveh?
A: Yes, unless people usually leave the sticker on for beauty or as a symbol of the quality of the product.
Q: Ha-Rav wrote that it is permissible for a man to wear a wedding ring, and even a good idea as a sign that he is married and to avoid problems. But isn't it a problem of "Lo Yilbash" (the prohibition of men dressing like women) and "Chukot Ha-Goyim" (following non-Jewish customs)?
A: If it is a ring for men – there is no prohibition of "Lo Yilbash." And there is no issue of "Chukot Ha-Goyim." The Mishnah in Shabbat mentions a ring for a man, and Ha-Rav Nissim Karelitz permits it in his book "Peat Zekanecha" #102.
Q: If a Sefardi connects more to Ashekenzaic davening, can he change his tradition of davening?
A: A person should not change from the custom of his ancestors.
Q: In the Beit Midrash where I learn, they erased Rav Kook's name from all of the books printed by Mossad Ha-Rav Kook (a publishing house). Should I continue to learn there?
A: If there is a better Beit Midrash – move to there.
Q: What is the source for the idea that there are 36 righteous individuals in each generation?
A: It is a late tradition.
Q: What should be our relation to Chabad – acceptance or rejection?
A: The Torah of Chabad is part of the Torah but not all of the Torah.
Q: When I wear modest clothing I feel like it does not come from me. It is not me. What should I do?
A: Service of Hashem is more important than human feelings. And do not worry. This is indeed you in the depth of your soul. Have patience, the feeling will come.
Q: In order to find a lost object, it is a segulah (spiritual remedy) to say: "The G-d of Rabbi Meir, answer me" or "Rabbi Binyamin said: All are considered blind until The Holy One Blessed Be He lights up their eyes."
A: It is not correct.
Q: Can a Sefardi wear his Tzitzit out?
A: It is a dispute between Sefardic authorities, it is therefore possible to act either way.

Haftarah for Rosh Hashanah

The Prince of Hope

[Shmuel 1 1-2]

The Haftarah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah describes the birth of the prophet Shmuel, the great judge who saved the Nation of Israel from a period of terrible darkness. What a dreadful period of "When the judges judged" (Rut 1:1), which is explained by our Sages: "Woe to the generation when their judges are judged" (Bereshit Rabbah 42:4).

But relax, the judges did not commit any shameful transgressions, rather they simply despaired of that generation. Instead of rolling up their shelves and traveling throughout the entire length and breathe of the Land to teach Torah and ethical behavior, they preferred to lock themselves in their ivory tower. They were convinced that the spiritual struggle was lost from the outset (see Yalkut Shimoni, Shoftim 68).

They were certainly many reasons to despair from the Nation of Israel, who was ripped asunder by civil war as in the case of the prostitute in Givah (Shoftim 19-20), and also by the spiritual corruption of idol worship such as in the case of the idol of Michah in the northern part of Israel (Shoftim 17-18). The result was that the enemies of Israel routed them and cruelly ruled over large parts of Eretz Yisrael.

Out of this darkness shone the light of the spiritual giant, the prophet Shmuel, who succeeded in bringing the Nation of Israel back to the proper path, while liberating us from our permanent enemy: the Philistines. Furthermore, he prepared the kingship of Israel, the kingship of Shaul which laid the groundwork for the permanent kingship of David. This is the great message he gave to us: Never despair (see Maamrei Ha-Re'eiyah, p. 450).

But who fashioned the wonderful personality of this judge and prophet? As in many cases, it was his parents. His mother, Chanah, is famous enough that there is no need to describe her spiritual level. But his father, Elkanah, was also a spiritual giant. What do we know about him? Only one thing: "This man would ascend from his city every year to prostrate himself and to bring sacrifices to Hashem, Master of Legions, in Shiloh, and the two sons of Eli, Chofni and Phinchas, were cohanim to Hashem there" (Shmuel 1 1:3). On the face of it, this verse seems quite ordinary: the custom of that period was to visit the Mishkan on holidays. But there is actually a lot more to it. To understanding this verse, we turn to a story related by Ha-Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriyah about Maran Ha-Rav Kook, the first Rabbi of the reviving Jewish community in Israel.

A Torah scholar who made aliyah from America came to Maran Ha-Rav Kook and complained about the state of Judaism in the Land of Israel. He was so distressed that he was considering leaving Israel. Maran Ha-Rav Kook said to him: Doesn't your honor remember the learning of his youth? The Book of Shmuel relates about Elkanah: "This man would ascend from his city every year to prostrate himself and to bring sacrifices to Hashem, Master of Legions, in Shiloh, and the two sons of Eli, Chofni and Phinchas, were cohanim to Hashem there." Rav Kook asked two questions about this verse: 1. Why are we told in this verse that Chofni and Phinchas were there? 2. Our Sages say that Elkanah would not only go up to Shiloh, he would go around and encourage others to do so as well. Why did he have to do this? After all, isn’t ascending to the Mishkan on the holidays a Torah mitzvah? Why weren't people following this mitzvah? Rav Kook explains that the first question is in fact the answer to the second question. The fact that Chofni and Phinchas were the cohanim in Shiloh caused people not to make the pilgrimage there, since they were corrupt. People said that if there were cohanim like this in this holy place, it was better not to go and see this ugliness and meet such sinners. Elkanah then came and convinced them that despite the sons of Eli and despite the sins at this holy place, they should not give up on this mitzvah of Hashem. They should strengthen this holy place. Right now there are not great people there, but later there will be. Do not give up because of the difficulties. As a reward for this act, Elkanah was blessed with a son, the prophet Shmuel, who served in the Mishkan. Rav Kook said to the Torah scholar that the same applies in relation to the holiness of the Land of Israel. Why are you mad at the Land of Israel? There are problems, therefore exert yourself and everything will work out. Although there are sinners, this is not a reason not to make aliyah and, all the more so, not to leave the Land of Israel. The more people committed to the Torah and mitzvot in the Land of Israel, the more holiness will be added to it (Chayei Ha-Re'eiyah pp. 211-212).

This story from Maran Ha-Rav Kook's life provides us with deep understanding and an important contemporary lesson. The Nation sometimes loses its path, but we are told to act like Elkanah, who guided the Nation to follow him to the Mishkan on the holidays (Yerushalami Berachot at the end of chap. 9). But, make no mistake about it, Elkanah did not spend time giving speeches on proper behavior. In his commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud, Rabbi Eliezer Azkari, who was one of the leading sages in Tzefat during its golden period, explains that Elkanah had an influence on those of his generation mainly by his example: he would go up to Shiloh with such excitement, cleaving to Hashem and joy that it awakened a desire among others to join him. He loved the Nation of Israel, and respected it despite what he saw, and he was therefore successful in sharing his unshakeable faith with them. In the end, he merited a son who followed his path: he brought the Nation of Israel from darkness to great light.

Before You Go to Sleep

What do you do before you go to sleep? Romance, gentle words, sweet words, loving words?
Perhaps you will say: We are grown up already, it is not right for us. We are embarrassed. Incorrect! It is definitely correct.
Perhaps you will say: We are tired, we work hard, we fall off our feet, we don't have time. Incorrect! You have time. Do you also not have time to live? This is life.
Perhaps you will say: We had a fight today, like all days. We are experts in creating disputes, so we don't have the heart to be loving to one another. Incorrect! On the contrary, before you go to sleep, make up.
Perhaps you will say: It is already too late… Than it is even better, even more romantic. This is how you will have pleasant dreams, since reality is even sweeter than dreams.

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #23

The fallen Sukkah of David - addition for Sukkot

In the Talmud, it is told that one Sage asked his colleague:
- Have you heard when "Son of the fallen" [Bar Nafleh] will come, from among the fallen?- Who is "Son of the fallen"?
- The Messiah.
- You call the Messiah "Son of the fallen"?!
- Yes, as it is written: On that day I will raise up the sukkah of David which is fallen [ha-nofelet] (Amos 9:11, Sanhedrin 96b).

Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzhak Ha-Cohain Kook explained that these fallen are all kinds of messiahs who arose and fell, and the true Messiah comes as a continuation of them (Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 1, 37). The common denominator between them is the protest against the essence of the Exile, its subjugation and its darkness, its impurity and its decay (ibid.). The true Messiah will sprout from the midst of the experiences of falling.

Our Rabbi & Love of Eretz Yisrael

Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

A Letter from Eretz Yisrael
Maran Ha-Rav Kook was appointed Rav of Yafo and the surrounding settlements (i.e. Petach Tikva, Rishon Le-Tzion, Gedera, Rechovot, etc.) in the year 5664. After lengthy and exhausting negotiations with the community, the final letter with the travel expenses arrived, and Maran Ha-Rav Kook left a note for his daughter to pick up the letter. But our Rabbi, out of a love of Eretz Yisrael, rushed to get the letter himself in order to receive a letter from Eretz Yisrael. Our Rabbi made aliyah with his family shortly after his bar mitzvah.

Our Rabbi & Maran Ha-Rav Kook's Honor - Part 2

Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook
Visits to the Brisker Rav
Our Rabbi would go to hear the Divrei Torah of the Brisker Rav, Ha-Griz - Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, and when he was there, the "zealots" (extreme anti-Zionists) would insult him. When Ha-Rav Shabatai Shmueli, the Yeshiva's secretary, heard about this, he was shaken and turned to our Rabbi to stop going there. Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira also attempted to convince our Rabbi to stop, but he wanted to hear Divrei Torah from Ha-Griz. Ha-Rav Shmueli and Ha-Rav Shapira requested that Reb Aryeh Levin - who frequented there – speak with our Rabbi. He agreed and said to him: "Reb Tzvi Yehudah, you must cease going there. It does not bring honor to the Torah. It is also insulting to Maran Ha-Rav ztz"l." Our Rabbi tried to justify continuing the visits by saying that it does not affect him, and Ha-Griz is one of the great Rabbis of the generation etc., but Reb Aryeh interrupted him and said harsh thing about the "zealots," even though there was a great lost in not hearing Ha-Griz. When our Rabbi heard this from the mouth of Reb Aryeh, he did not return (It was quite rare for Reb Aryeh to speak this way since he had incredible patience and was able to endure anything. If our Rabbi had heard insults about Maran Ha-Rav Kook he would not have remained quiet). (Imrei Shefer of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Dadon, pp. 236-237)

A deep understanding of the love of Israel
A Torah scholar was delivering a eulogy for a great Rabbi and he spoke about Maran Ha-Rav Kook without explicitly mentioning his name. After mentioning his greatness, he added "But his love of Israel is contrary to normal behavior" (see Bereshit Rabbah 55:11 and Rashi to Bereshit 22:3). Our Rabbi explained that Maran Ha-Rav Kook's love of Israel was not in the usual sense, but came from a deep understanding of the love of Israel from which his own love flowed. And regarding the Torah scholar's words, our Rabbi cited the teaching: "One who prays: 'May Your mercy reach the bird's nest,' we silence him" (Berachot 33b). (Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Devarim p. 334)

Do Not Say: Traitor!

[From Ma'ayanei Yeshu'a – Parashat Netzavim-Vayelech 5769]

Don't call a leftist a traitor, because if you call him a traitor, then you are a traitor.
Don't call a leftist a traitor, because he loves the Nation of Israel no less than you, but he has different consideration about what should be the correct path for the Nation, the Land and the State.
Don't call him a traitor, because he wears the Tzahal uniform, he endangers himself for your sake, is killed for your sake and is buried for your sake with blood stains on his holy olive-colored uniform.
Don't say: traitor, because you cannot call half the Nation of Israel, more or less, by this name.
Don't say: traitor, because you hurt the Nation of Israel, you destroy the State of Israel.
I'll tell you a secret, do you know what he thinks of you? That you hurt the Nation and destroy the State of Israel. It is truly unbelievable that he thinks this, it is unbearable and unjust. I'll tell you another secret – he thinks your opinion is unbelievable, unbearable and unjust. This will certainly insult you that he dares not to see things like you – but he is also liable to be insulted by what you think. Sometimes, a small amount of objectivity is quite helpful in life.
And who is the enemy? The one who wants to kill you and eradicate the State. He is the enemy, not the Jew who does not agree with you – he is your brother.
It is possible that he is mistaken. It is possible that he is confused. It is possible that he is a "Tinok She-Nishba" (a Jew who did not receive a proper Jewish upbringing and education) because of the foreign winds which blow today – it is almost certain, but he is not a traitor.
Be careful with your temper, if you call him a traitor, perhaps you are the traitor.
Perhaps it is preferable to call him: my brother, my friend.
Perhaps it is preferable to remember that we are one Nation.
Perhaps it is preferable to search for the positive in each person.
Perhaps it is preferable to listen to what he has to say – not through the media, but directly, face-to-face.
You should know, the Nation will continue with all of us together. The State will continue with all of us together – and you will remain alone outside the camp.
Therefore, don't say: traitor.

Defending Rabbi's honor no excuse for murder

Rabbi Aviner in the News:
Defending Rabbi's honor no excuse for murder
By Kobi Nahshoni – from 24 Elul 5769 –

Prominent rabbis comment on Wednesday's murder of yeshiva student over halachic dispute

"Defending a rabbi's honor is no excuse to commit such an act," Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said in response to Wednesday's murder of yeshiva student David Mansharov in Netanya.

Police suspect that Mansharov was stabbed to death by two fellow yeshiva students following an argument over a halachic ruling.

The "Haredim" website reported that the students were arguing over the status of the head of their yeshiva, Rabbi Amos Gueta.

During a visit to a school in Ra'anana on Thursday, [Rav] Metzger said that the search for truth during halacha-related disputes must never deteriorate to violence.

In the spirit of the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday, Rabbi Metzger said that the blowing of the shofar teaches us to take something violent, like a ram's horn, and turn it into something spiritual and dignified.

Prominent Religious-Zionist Rabbi Shlomo Aviner said, "It is obvious that killing over a halachic dispute is forbidden, and it is also clear that anyone who kills over such an argument has major problems."

The rabbi said of the murder, "We cannot let such incidents distort our way of looking at things. In general, good things come out of places that teach Torah."

Artificial Insemination for a single woman

Q: If it permissible for a single woman, who is reaching the age of forty, sees that she does not have a reasonable chance of getting married and desperately wants a baby, to be artificially inseminated?
A: Artificial Insemination from a Jewish donor is impossible since the donation is made anonymously and since the father is unknown, there is a concern that the child will eventually marry one of his/her relatives.
Artificial Insemination from a non-Jew does not contain this problem. There are authorities (i.e. Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein, Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and others) who permit Artificial Insemination from a non-Jew for a married woman whose husband is infertile. From a certain perspective this is preferable to adopting a child, since at least the woman will be the child's natural mother.
In our case, however, it is improper since the child will be bereft of a father. It is true that there are single parents after a divorce or a death, and the child is bereft of a parent, but the child has a father. Our case is somewhat similar to a "shetuki" mentioned in the Gemara (Kiddushin 69a). A "shetuki" is someone who knows his mother but not his father, and he is called a "shetuki" because when he calls: "Abba," his mother says: "Shetok" (quiet). The Master of the Universe arranged that a child would have a mother and a father. This is normal. After the fact, a single mother can do a wonderful job raising children, but before the fact it is unethical for a mother to build her own happiness at the expense of the child. It will forever be difficult for him to respond to the question of who is his father, and it is possible that he will be suspected for being born out of wedlock in an illicit relationship.
Furthermore, it is possible that it is forbidden to have a medical procedure such as this. As is known, it is not obvious that medical procedures are permissible, and they are only allowed because the Torah explicitly permitted them: "And you shall surely heal" (Shemot 21:19) from which we learn that permission is given to a doctor to heal (Baba Kamma 85a). Hashem's will is for children to be born through the daughters of Israel from two parents who are married to one another, and not from a single woman. It is therefore possible that a medical procedure in order to impregnate a single woman is a Torah prohibition.
In sum: A single women should not be artificially inseminated and give birth to a child who will grow up without a father. Rather she should pray for Hashem's mercy to find the right mate to marry.

Home with guests or shul

Q: Is it preferable for a woman to stay at home with guests who are not going to shul on Shabbat or to go to shul?
A: As is known, women are not obligated to go to shul. A woman has to decide where she davens the best: At home or at shul. In the case of guests, again, she has to decide where the best place will be. It is her decision.

Parashat Netzavim-Vayelech

How will the Redemption from Exile occur?
[Tal Chermon pp. 348-350]

The later authorities disagree about this question. Some explain that the Redemption will come from Hashem and not through our own hands. We must sit, do nothing and wait until Hashem saves us. The Satmar Rebbe even explains that any act on our part to hasten the Redemption is considered a rebellion, expressing a lack of faith in and denial of Hashem. Any success (such as declaring the State of Israel, winning the wars, etc.) is an "act of Satan." Chabad expresses this idea in a less harsh manner: we did not go to into the Exile willingly, and we will not leave it on our own initiative (Sichot of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, 3 Tammuz 5714). This does not mean that it is forbidden for an individual to make aliyah, but only that it is not the proper path for the entire Nation of Israel. Other Sages, however, hold that Hashem redeems us through our own hands and actions. Hashem uses us as emissaries to redeem His Nation.

A second dispute which is related to the first is whether or not the Redemption is dependent on our repentance. According to all opinions, the Nation of Israel will repent in the time of the Redemption. The question is, however, whether repentance is a pre-condition for Redemption or whether Redemption can occur before the complete repentance of the Nation of Israel (see the dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua – Sanhedrin 97b. And see Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 1, p. 191).

When we look into our Torah portion, we see that chapter 30 describes the process of Redemption and repentance:
Verses 1-2 – "And you will take it to heart…and you will return unto Hashem, your G-d, and obey His voice according to all that I command you" – repentance.

3-4 - "And then Hashem, your G-d, will return your captivity…and gather you…If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven…" – Redemption.

5 - And Hashem, your G-d, will bring you to the Land…and you will possess it, and He will do good to you and multiply you…" – Redemption.

6 - "And Hashem your G-d, will circumcise your heart to love Hashem" – repentance.

7- "And Hashem, your G-d, will put all these curses on your enemies" – Redemption.

8 – "And you will return and obey the voice of Hashem and perform all His commandments" – repentance.

9 – "And Hashem will make you abundant in all your handiwork…for good" – Redemption.

10 – If you will listen…if you return to Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart and all your soul" – repentance.

There seems to be an intermingling of Redemption and repentance. What we see is in fact three things: 1. Gradual repentance. 2. Gradual Redemption. 3. The processes of Repentance and Redemption in stages one after the other (Akeidat Yitzchak – Sha'ar Ha-Meah).

The stages of Redemption are: Gathering of the Exiles and the Return to Zion (3-4), possession of and building the Land (5), military-political success (7) and economic success (9).

The stages of Repentance are: Beginning with the second stage: "And Hashem your G-d, will circumcise you heart to love Hashem" – removing the obstacles and the confusion from our hearts or, in the words of Onkelos (Aramaic translation), the "foolishness of the heart." We have to understand that this Divine act is accomplished through human beings. Just as it is clear to us that the guarantee of economic success does not contradict our going out to the field to work in order to help fulfill Hashem's promise, so too do we have to realize that the same is true of spiritual repentance. It is accomplished by educators, by people convincing others and speaking with others in their own language and style. It is impossible to approach a Charedei Jew from Hungary in the same way in which one approaches a so-called "secular" Jew. There is a style for the fathers and there is a style for the sons: "And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the sons and the heart of the sons to their fathers" (Malachi 3:24). The fathers must understand the holiness that is in the sons, no less than the sons must understand the value of the fathers. It once happened that a Rabbi visited a community outside of Israel and saw a poster which read: "And he will turn the heart of the sons to their fathers." He asked: "Where is the other part of the verse?" They responded to him: "Why is it needed? The fathers are fine, the hearts of the sons are what must change." But the prophet Malachi seems to think otherwise. He sets the turning of the fathers' hearts to the sons first, for as a result of this the sons will turn to the fathers. Nonetheless, the repentance described in this stage is not performed to fulfill the mitzvot but rather to come closer to faith in Hashem. The next stage is fulfilling the mitzvot (v. 8) – only after respect and love are entrenched in one's heart does the learning and fulfillment come (Orot Ha-Teshuvah, Tosafot Ha-Teshuvah 8). And the last stage – love of Hashem, returning to Hashem "with all your heart and all your soul," means a supreme cleaving to the Divine. And what about the first stage? It seems to contradiction what we have said since at the beginning it says "and you will return unto Hashem, your G-d, and obey His voice according to all that I command you." The difference is that the first stage is repentance unto Hashem, while the last stage is repentance to Hashem. Repentance unto Hashem is repentance out of fear. There is suffering in Exile. Israel therefore learns the lesson of blessing and curse. This, however, is physical, outer repentance caused by external factors. This is the return to Israel because the King's decrees are as harsh as Haman's, as the Gemara explains (Sanhedrin 97b). This is action without understanding, and perhaps without faith. "Unto Hashem," but not any further. The Nation of Israel returns to its language and Land without truly understanding the meaning of its actions (Orot Ha-Teshuvah 17, 2. And see Le-Netivot Yisrael p. 15 and "Ha-Medinah Ke-Hitkayamut Chazon Ha-Geulah," p. 188-190).

Only at the end of the processes of Redemption and repentance does the Nation of Israel reach complete repentance, repentance to Hashem, repentance out of love and repentance out of cleaving to Hashem.

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #22

"And may we find favor and good understanding in the eyes of God and man."

Both of them are needed. "This without that is not sufficient" (Niddah 70b). On the one hand, if a person only tries to find favor in the eyes of people, in a superficial, sociable manner, and he forgets the absolute Divine truth, in the end his life will be devoid of true content. On the other hand, if he only operates based on what he believes to be the opinion of Hashem, but people do not approve of him, this is also a bad sign, because he does not know how to point the way to the truth. Obviously what is explicit in Halachah does not require the approval of people. But for a person who chooses a path for himself to follow in life, it is incumbent upon him to be extremely particular that people do not speak ill of him. Our Sages say that if a "Ben Torah" (a Jew who lives according to the dictates of the Torah) does not speak pleasantly and does not conduct business honestly, people say about him: "Woe to him who learned Torah. Woe to his father who taught him Torah. This man who learned Torah, look how corrupt are his deeds and how ugly his ways" – This is the definition of desecrating God’s Name. But if he speaks pleasantly with people and conducts business honestly, people say about him: "Fortunate is his father who taught him Torah. Fortunate is his teacher who taught him Torah. Woe to people who have not learned Torah. This man learned Torah, look how fine are his deeds and how proper his ways" - This is the definition of sanctifying God’s Name (Yoma 86a).

Visiting Two Graves

Q: Is there a prohibition or recommendation not to visit another grave if one is at a cemetery for another funeral?
A: People say that it should not be done but there is in fact no problem.

Our Rabbi & Maran Ha-Rav Kook

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Maran Ha-Rav's Honor
Ha-Rav Yosef Buxbaum, the editor of the journal "Moriah,” had a very close relationship with our Rabbi, following the lead of his Rav, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Our Rabbi would give him letters which great Rabbis wrote to Maran Ha-Rav Kook in order to publish them in "Moriah." Ha-Rav Buxbaum would often visit our Rabbi. And when a baby boy was born to him, he asked our Rabbi to serve as the cohain at the Pidyon Ha-Ben.
It once happened that one of the editors of the "Otzar Mefarshei Ha-Talmud" (Treasury of Talmudic Commentators) included a ruling of Maran Ha-Rav Kook, but another editor removed it. Ha-Rav Buxbaum asked him why he removed the ruling: was it because he raised a difficultly with it and it required further study? He answered: "I didn't even look into the issue. I just think that a ruling of Ha-Rav Kook is not appropriate for 'Otzar Mefarsehi Ha-Talmud.'" Ha-Rav Buxbaum said to him: "From this moment, you are fired!" The editor did not accept his decision, and they went to Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. Ha-Rav Elyashiv was shocked and said to the editor: "Did you know Ha-Rav Kook?! You should know – he was holy. He did not belong to our generation, and in his generation, they did not properly understand him. Reb Yosef was certainly permitted to fire you. I would have done the same thing." (Ha-Rav Yosef Buxbaum ztz"l)

Ha-Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer
Our Rabbi related that Maran Ha-Rav would go to relax on Mt. Carmel in Haifa because of his physical condition. Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, Rosh Yeshiva of Eitz Chaim, once happened to meet him there. When he returned, he said: I merited seeing a Jew who does not have a moment devoid of holiness.

Our Rabbi related that Ha-Rav Meltzer said: If only our Neilah prayer was like Maran Ha-Rav's Minchah on a Friday.

Zichron Moshe
Our Rabbi would not pass through the "Zichron Moshe" neighborhood since they had burned an effigy of Maran Ha-Rav there in the past. (Choveret Avanim Levavot, p. 24).

Maran Ha-Rav's Room
On one of the summer days in 5708, during the war of Independence, only two students – Ha-Rav Yosef Kapach and Ha-Rav Glazer – were learning in the old building of the Yeshiva, together with our Rabbi, who did not refrain from coming to the Yeshiva even during times of danger. A large bomb hit the Yeshiva and its surrounding area and two women were killed in the Yeshiva's courtyard. Our Rabbi brought the two students with him into Maran Ha-Rav's room, pointed to his chair and announced: "In merit of the one who sat in this chair nothing will happen here!" (Ha-Rav Yosef Kapach)

Shut SMS #35

Rabbi Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah," "Olam Ha-Katan" and "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Eumnah." Here's a sample:
Q: I was davening Minchah and was called for Magen David Adom (as a first responder). I missed Minchah. Do I have to daven the Shemoneh Esrei of Maariv twice to make up for missing it?
A: No. One who is involved in one mitzvah is exempt from another mitzvah.
Q: Did Herzl prepare a plan for all of Am Yisrael to convert to Christianity?
A: Certainly not. See the book "Herzl: A New Reading" by Dr. Weiss, p. 65.
Q: If I am sweating, isn't it shaming my Tzitzit, and it would be preferable to remove them?
A: It is not shaming them. You should wear Tzitzit all of the time: in the army, during war, etc.
Q: During the seven festive days on our marriage, it is permissible to attend another wedding or is it "mixing one joy with another" (which Halachah says should not be done)?
A: It is permissible. This principle is not stated in this case.
Q: There is a person who is publicizing in the newspapers that he is the Messiah?
A: Nonsense.
Q: Is it permissible to put things in your Tefillin bag other than your Tefillin?
A: It is forbidden unless you bought it with this intention.
Q: Why don't yeshiva students from "Black-Hat" yeshivot go to the army?
A: Patience, in the end everyone will go.
Q: Should I sign the Halachic Donor Card?
A: It is a great mitzvah. It saves lives.
Q: Is it permissible to enter the Temple Mount?
A: There are signs of the Chief Rabbinate there which prohibit it.
Q: Theoretically, is it better to be a secular Jew who lives in Israel and works to build it than an observant Jew who lives outside of Israel and is not concerned about it?
A: Theoretically, no, a person is judged by the majority of his actions, but the Master of the Universe is the only True Judge.
Q: Is it permissible to whistle on Shabbat?
A: Yes, it is not from an instrument.
Q: What should one do for a Shabbat Brit Milah if many people will violate Shabbat to travel to participate?
A: Postpone it until Sunday. Yalkut Yosef.
Q: Is it permissible to buy my father a pack of cigarettes if he asks me?
A: Yes, there is no issue of "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind" for one pack, but smoking is a general bad character trait. Rambam, Hilchot Deot, chap. 4.
Q: Is it permissible for a bride and groom to dance together in front of everyone?
A: Certainly not, public acts of affection are forbidden. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:11.
Q: Is it worthwhile to visit "Kivrei Tzaddikim" (graves of the righteous)?
A: It is preferable to perform acts of kindness and learn Torah.
Q: Should one wear Techelet on his Tzitzit?
A: If your Rabbi says that you should, you should. If your Rabbi says that you should not, you should not. If you do not have a Rabbi, follow the majority of Rabbis who do not wear it.
Q: Should I recite Shehechiyanu on an expensive electric appliance?
A: Yes. If it is used by one than one person, the blessing is "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv."

Addiction and Free Choice

[From "Maayanei Ha-Yeshua" – Parashat Ki Tetze 5769]

Concern: My name is Rivka. I have experienced extremely hard times, including the loss of a loved one. I now have a terrible addiction, which I do not want to detail. I have been to all types of treatments, but they have not helped. I am not sure I even have any hope. I am completely in despair.
Answer: The common denominator of all types of treatments for addictions, such as for drugs, alcohol or gambling, is that the treatment is not in place of the will to be cured. First and foremost, you must change your outlook on yourself and on life.
Western Culture is a culture of benefit and over-indulgence, i.e. one should give into his inclination whatever they might be. You should change your spiritual direction, and believe in yourself that you have the strength to overcome this inclination, you have free choice and with great effort you can get out of this and return to the light.
Look how much the Torah emphasizes how Rivka Imenu, for whom you were named, received a distorted education from all direction: her father, brother, and locale – and she was able to escape it. Betuel (her father) was a murderer and tried to poison Eliezer (Targum Yonatan on Bereshit 24:33). Lavan was a murderer and wanted to murder Yaakov Avinu (Midrash Ha-Gadol on Bereshit 31:22). Both of them were idol worshippers (Rashi on Ber, 24:31, 31:19). And Lavan had chutzpa to speak before his father (Rashi on Bereshit 24:50). Lavan was greedy and when he saw the jewelry which Eliezer brought, he ran to his father (Bereshit 24:30 with Rashi). Lavan was called "Doubly Evil" (Sanhedrin 105a).
In contrast, Rivka was completely kind (Rashi on Bereshit 24:14), modest, and pure.
This teaches you that there is free choice. It is possible to free yourself from the evil inclination and to climb higher. This is unlike the expression of weakness in Western Culture: "This is how I am. Accept me for me." Look at the determination of Rivka: "And they called Rivka and asked her: Do you want to go with this man (Eliezer)? And she said: "I will go!" (Bereshit 24:28) – Even if you don't want me to go (Rashi).
It is true that a person lives with a body and he is limited by it but the soul is always free. It is an unparalleled Divine wonder. We have the power to overcome all obstacles.
Be strong and courageous.

The Book of Yonah - Commentary by Rav Shlomo Aviner

In anticipation of the High Holidays,

Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim

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The Book of Yonah
Commentary of Rav Shlomo Aviner

Our Sages teach: "Eliyahu demanded the honor of the father…Yonah demanded the honor of the son." This is to say that the prophet Eliyahu demanded the honor of Hashem, and Yonah demanded the honor of the Nation of Israel. For her sake, he was willing to do anything, even to distance himself from the Master of the Universe. Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner serves as our guide through the incredibly gripping story of the prophet Yonah – the story which became the paradigm of Teshuvah. 108 pages.

Be ready for the High Holidays
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In Israel: 50 shekels + 15 shekels for shipping
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To be a Serious Army in Our Land

["Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" – Ki Tavo 5769 – translated by R. Blumberg]

1. To remain in the exile and to imagine that we will not be hurt by assimilation and pogroms constitutes silliness and irresponsibility. I am not saying this to make an accusation, but only to express sorrow.

Yet to return to our land and to rebuild it, to establish our state, economy and army -- that constitutes taking a serious, responsible approach.

2. To sit complacently in our land and to imagine that we no longer have enemies, that we are living in a New Middle East in which there is no more war, only a few guerrila forces, and that in exchange for conceding a third or two thirds of our land, our neighbors will make peace with us, that we have almost no need of reserve duty, that we have almost no need of emergency warehouses -- that constitutes irresponsibility and worse. I am not trying to cast blame, only to arouse the public.

Yet to dispel illusions, to understand with a realistic, courageous perspective that we still have stubborn enemies, that the appeasing outlook of Chamberlain who said, "Peace, and no more war," is a mistake that led to the Second World War, to realize that Churchill answered him, "Your kind of peace is followed by war, and my war will be followed by peace" -- that is the serious spirit of the human race.

3. To conceive a new doctrine, that against terrorists you needn't use all your weaponry, bombs and tanks, but should be gentle; to think that certainly you shouldn't harm those arbitrarily defined as "innocent," for you have to be concerned about their welfare, and even targeted killings of terrorists aren't nice because it isn't good and proper to punish a person without first trying him in court – to think all this and thereby to lead our loyal soldiers, fighting like lions, to their deaths, and to evacuate from their homes a million and a half faithful citizens -- that constitutes silliness, an academic ivory tower on some other planet. My purpose is not to attack, but only to illuminate.

Yet a strong army that is always ready to smite the Arab wolves who come to annihilate us, an army that advocates "total war" in order to save us and our wives and children -- that is seriousness. That is responsibility. That is sanity.

4. To foster a national fantasy of transforming our army into an effeminate army, a maternal army, an army in which no one is endangered, an army in which one neither kills nor is killed, a luft-army, a show-case army, an army of peace, a shlemiel army -- is self-delusion. It is silly. I am not trying to accuse, only to improve.

Yet to recognize that we emerged from our exile and our lowliness of spirit, that we were saved from some sort of bizarre masochism -- that is morality, that is naturalness, that is healthiness! To absorb from the spirit of the university, science and technology, economics and organization, yet to draw our spiritual values and worldview from the depths of the life of our people rising to rebirth -- that is a proper, serious perspective on reality. To realize, with pain and fortitude, that armies and wars involve killing and being killed, that when we are not ready to be killed, quite the contrary, even more are killed, and when we ready to be killed, quite the contrary, much blood is spared; to know that it is impossible to easily heal what was broken and to say, "All is well" -- that is seriousness. That constitutes genuine leadership which contains a vision for which we are ready to pay a price.

Killing mosquitoes

Q: I read in the name of the Arizal that it is forbidden to kill bugs. What is the law?
A: The basic Halachah is that it is permissible to kill mosquitoes that are bothering you, and this applies to mice and other animals as well. The Arizal was strict. Everyone is obligated to follow a law, but a stricture is the personal decision of each person. Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch has a Teshuvah on this issue in Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot (2:726). He was asked: Is it permissible to kill flies? He answers that there is no prohibition of "tza'ar baalei chaim" (cruelty to animal) for such small creatures. He quoted from the Yavetz (Shut Yavetz #110) that the prohibition of "tza'ar baalei chaim" applies to animals who perform labor, and it is doubtful whether it applies to dog and cats. Ha-Rav Sternbuch wrote that he thinks that this prohibition certainly applies to cats and dogs but not to these tiny bugs. It is therefore completely permissible to kill them. He also mentions that the Arizal would not kill any creature and explains that it was not on account of "tza'ar baalei chaim" but rather because of his great holiness that he did not want to destroy any creature for which there was some need in the world. In Shut Igrot Moshe (Choshen Mishpat 2:47), Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote that if possible it is preferable not to kill the insects, mice, etc. with your bare hands. His proof is that the Torah promises that in the destruction of the "Ir Ha-Nidachat" (the wayward city – see Devarim 13:13-19) that Hashem will instill those who carry it out with mercy. The Or Ha-Chaim (Devarim 13:18) explained there is a need for the promise since by nature when one kills it makes him cruel. It is therefore better not to kill the bugs, mice, etc. with your hands. This, however, is also a stricture and it is also permissible if it is not possible to do it any other way.

Parents supporting children

Q: Parents supported their daughter and son-in-law for many years while the son-in-law learned in Kollel, but now they have decided to stop. The son-in-law will not allow the daughter to talk to her parents unless they give them all of the money they promised. What should the parents do?
A: This is certainly a desecration of Hashem's Name. First of all, parents have no obligation to give money to their children. The basic obligation is only to support child until they are six years old. According to a decree of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel after the establishment of the State, one must support children until the age of fifteen years old. After that, they can go out to work. Parents obviously help their children even after that, but it is a kindness and not an obligation. For this, the children should have gratitude and thank them each day. I do not understand what happened in this case. One must first be a human being. Ethics precede Torah. Before learning Torah, you have to be a good person. Perhaps the parents should speak with the Rabbi of our "scholar" and he will explain to him the proper way to act.


Dear couple, as you know, Adam and Chava were alone in the Garden of Eden, therefore please learn from them and make sure that every day or, at least, every few days take time to be just the two of you. In this way, you will have the Garden of Eden. You can simply talk, not for any purpose but because it is nice to be together. Even if you are older and have 10 children, 100 grandchildren and 1000 great-grandchildren – nonetheless! At least, on Shabbat. Please don't accept invitations every Shabbat and do not invite guests every Shabbat. At least talk before going to bed. What a wonderful delight!
Do you remember the Third Decree? It appears that you do not. At the beginning of the Kibbutz movement, there was incredible self-sacrifice. There were not enough places to sleep. There was some room in the chicken coop and barn. But this also was not enough, so they divided each tent in half with the help of a cloth. But this also was not enough, so each couple took in a single man or woman. What self-sacrifice! What damage to a couple's intimacy. "You expel the women of My Nation from their pleasant houses" (Michah 2:9) - "This is one who sleeps in a room where a couple dwells" (Eruvin 63b). I assume that you do not have a guest in your bedroom, so take advantage of the opportunity and exchange a few loving words before going to sleep.

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #21

The Guest’s Blessing

The Guest’s Blessing has its source in the Talmud (Berachot 46a) which says, "What does the guest bless? May it be the will of God that the host not be shamed in this world nor humiliated in the World-to-Come. And Rebbe (Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi) would add the words: And may he be very successful with all his possessions, and may his possessions and our possessions be successful and close to the city. And may no evil impediment reign over his handiwork nor over our handiwork. And may there not appear, neither before him, nor before us, any thought of sin, transgression or iniquity, from this time and forever." Although the Shulchan Aruch rules that a guest should recite this (Orach Chaim 201:1), it is surprising that it is omitted in many siddurim and one fulfills his obligation with the shorter statement: "May the Merciful One bless our host and our hostess, themselves, their home, their children and all that is theirs." The long version, however, is in printed in Maran Ha-Rav Kook’s siddur, Olat Re’eiyah (vol. 1, pp. 368-369).
Expressing thanks to a host is a great element of ethics, as is explained at length by Rabbenu Bachya in the book "Hovot Levavot - Duties of the Heart" that expressing thanks is the central building block of all the worship of Hashem. This is the Alef-Bet - the ABC - of the ethics teachings.
"May it be the will of God that the host not be shamed in this world." Maran Ha-Rav Kook, explains: "That a guest who is eating not of his own, will necessarily not be saved from some measure of shame." "One who eats food which is not his is ashamed to look into the face of the one who gave it" (Jerusalem Talmud, Orlah 1:3 quoted in the Tosafot to Kiddushin 36b d.h. Mitzvah). Therefore, to counteract this, the guest blesses the host so that "his fee will be paid without a touch of shame and disgrace being mixed with it" (Olat Re’eiyah vol. 1, p. 368).

"Kol Isha"

Q: What is Ha-Rav's opinion regarding "Kol Isha" (the prohibition of hearing a woman sing)? In modern times, may a man listen to the voice of a single woman singing – live?
A: The basic halachah is that it is forbidden to listen to a woman sing whether she is alone or in a group and whether it is alive or recorded.