Chag Sameach!


Chag Sameach from
Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner &
Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim

The Power of Uninterrupted Torah Learning

[Rav Aviner once gave this talk in the yeshiva during lunch]

There are many sources which highlight the importance of Torah learning without interruption. Torah learning should be long and deep.
1. The Gemara in Shabbat (11a) says that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his colleagues did not daven. They constantly learned Torah without any breaks. Since they never stopped, they were exempt from praying. We take all sorts of breaks to do this and that activity. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 106:2) therefore says that we also stop to daven. Nonetheless, we see the ideal of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his colleagues.
2. The Gemara in Berachot (8a) relates that Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi davened in the place where they learned Torah, even if there was no minyan. The Rama in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 90:18) rules that we do not act this way so that the less educated do not follow this practice. They did not go to shul so that they would not take up the time to go back and forth. They could immediately return to learning after praying.
3. The Midrash (Ketubot 62b-63a) explains how Rabbi Akiva went to learn in yeshiva for twelve years. When he returned, he overheard someone saying to his wife, "How long will you be like a widow waiting for him?" She replied that she would prefer that he learn for another 12 years! Rabbi Akiva turned around and went back to the yeshiva for another 12 years. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz in "Sichot Musar" asks, why didn't Rabbi Akiva come in to say shalom or have a cup of coffee with his wife? Answer: Because 12 years plus 12 years of Torah learning is not the same as 24 continuous years.
4. There was a secret society established in the Volozhin Yeshiva called "Nes Tziona," with the purpose of spreading the idea of settling the Land of Israel among the Nation. A group of students signed a document describing its activities. Maran Ha-Rav Kook's signature did not appear on it even though he was learning there at the time. Someone once asked our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, why Maran Ha-Rav Kook was not part of it? He asked, "He was learning Torah" (see Tal Ha-Re'eiyah, p. 68).

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #7

For the miracles - additions for Chanukah and Purim

"For the miracles...and for the wars which You performed for our forefathers." There are those who say that miracles are the opposite of wars. They reason that the ideal is to sit with folded arms, because "Hashem will wage war for you, and you shall remain silent" (Shemot 14:14). According to their opinion, if we wage war, this is a sign of a lack of faith in Hashem. We see, however, that the Hasmoneans, who were certainly of great faith, also waged war. And similarly during the time of Purim, "...the Jews throughout the King’s provinces gathered and defended themselves and gained relief from their enemies and slay those who hated them..." (Esther 9:16). We believe that the Master of the Universe does all and performs all, but this does not require that it be executed in a miraculous way beyond nature, since nature is also in the domain of God. The numerical value of the word "ha-teva - the nature" being equivalent to the word "Elohim – God" (86). Those wars during the time of Chanukah and Purim, were in fact performed by the Master of the Universe, "and for the wars which You performed for our forefathers," but He performed them through our hands and from within our midst. "I perform wars" (Avodah Zarah 2b) as it says, "Hashem is Master of War" (Shemot 15:3).

Shut SMS #21

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Q: Is it permissible to go to the ocean during Sefirat Ha-Omer?
A: Yes.
Q: Is it permissible for a girl to get a second earring?
A: It is permissible. The essence is for the earrings to be modest and not to attract attention.
Q: Why do we recite the confession (We have sinned, we have betrayed…) in the plural?
A: Responsibility for others.
Q: Is it permissible to imitate Rabbis in a respectful way?
A: With great care so that there is not even a hint of shaming them.
Q: May cohanim enter the grave of the Rashbi on Meiron?
A: No.
Q: Can a child play with a non-kosher animal?
A: Yes. The proof is from the Mishnah in Shabbat (9:7) that a child may play with a non-kosher locust.
Q: Is it permissible to daven without shoes?
A: No, it should be like you are standing before a king.
Q: Who did Dinah marry after the horrible episode with Shechem?
A: Some say Shimon, others say Iyov.
Q: Why do we say "Lechaim" (To Life) when drinking wine?
A: Since wine is given to one who is receiving capital punishment, we therefore emphasize that this is for life.
Q: Can you please provide sources that can strengthen me in the prohibition of not touching others of the opposite sex?
A: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:8. Mesillat Yesharim, chap. 11.
Q: If someone is traveling to Poland, is it permissible to wrap himself in an Israeli flag even though it does not have tzitzit?
A: It is permissible. It is not clothing, but a symbol.
Q: I try not to become angry, but I have a friend who takes advantage on this and bothers me all of the time. Is it permissible to respond one time in the same way as he acts so it will stop once and for all?
A: Yes. It is permissible and preferable to do so without anger. Sefer Ha-Chinuch 338.
Q: Are women obligated to hear the Torah reading on Shabbat?
A: No.
Q: On Erev Shabbat, should one say one recite "Magdil" or "Migdol" in the Bircat Ha-Mazon?
A: "Magdil" as on a weekday.
Q: If I eat a meal of meat and potatoes, what blessing do I recite at the end?
A: "Borei Nefashot".
Q: What is the minimum size for a kippah?
A: Some say that it must cover the majority of the head, and others say that it should be seen from all sides.

Our Rabbi & Yerushalayim

Sacrifices
One of the students, who was present with our Rabbi at the liberation of the Temple Mount, asked: "What about sacrifices now?" Our Rabbi responded in a sharp and powerful manner: "Reb David Karlin said (Shut She’eilat David #1) do not hasten to build the Temple!"

The Temple
When asked about rebuilding the Temple, our Rabbi responded: "Israel was commanded regarding three mitzvot upon entering the Land: to appoint a king…to destroy the seed of Amalek…to build the Temple," and they are to be performed in this particular order (Rambam, Melachim 1:1-2). We must first build the State of Israel - the Kingdom of Israel - then defeat our enemies, and only then build the Temple. The Temple burns within you? Don't burn." (Rafael K.)

We Have Returned Home
Right after the liberation of Jerusalem, our Rabbi informed the entire world on the radio: "All Israel, the entire world and all of the nations of the world must know that we have returned home. And since we have returned home, know that no power in the world will move us from here. Every house has an entrance way and a main room. We first entered the entrance way and now we have reached the main room." (Iturei Yerushalayim #6)

It once happened that two writers from outside of Israel, a Jew and a non-Jew, were preparing a book and a film about Zionism in Jerusalem. They met with one of the students of our Rabbi, for many hours and were deeply impressed by him. The student brought them to our Rabbi. After two minutes they were excited by him, and they understood that there was something unique here. One of the writers said: "We are going home, and we will return with all of the necessary equipment to film a movie about the ‘settlements.’" After three months they returned to Israel and came straight to our Rabbi. Searching for a way to open the book and the movie, they asked our Rabbi: "We have a question and the book will begin with it: If you were given ten minutes, not a minute more, in order to explain your position to the President of the United States, what would you say, honored Rabbi?" Our Rabbi gave a lengthy smile, and said: "This is nine minutes too long. I would say only two words: Chazarnu Ha-baita - We have returned home!"

Emotional Divorce

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

The psychiatrist Dr. Juliette Louise Despert, in his work “Children of Divorces” wrote:
“It is not the divorce that determines the child’s ability to adapt, but the emotional mood in the home. Amongst the hundreds of unfortunate children who reach pediatric psychiatrists, I have seen confused children whose parents have never considered divorce, but I have never met a child whose parents live together happily.”

In other words, the casualty of the war between the parents is the children, whether we are talking about a hot war or a cold war. It is natural for there to be arguments and crises between the couple. We’re not angels. Yet if the situation is chronic, and the parents don’t know how to improve it, the child, so in need of tranquility, will absorb war and tension.

He will drown in a sea of tension, with periods of strained quiet or of explosions, owing to the disproportionate responses he witnesses to every small incident, in contrast to the love that adorns a beloved person in all circumstances. Just as in Shendahl’s parable from his book on love, according to which in a salt mine, crystallization transforms the most conventional tree branch to a marvelous ornament, so does the constant tension transform everything that comes from the spouse – his regular movements, his walk, his laugh, his age, his expressions, pronouncements and judgment – to something aggravating and annoying. Every act arouses a negative response. All is lost from the start, for everything receives a negative interpretation. When one spouse is in the other’s sights, that other spouse will look for his every fault. Each will strive to destroy their unity as a couple.

This situation is called “emotional divorce”, when emotionally the couple has gone to pot, without any official, legal divorce. Since their couplehood as a living cell has been destroyed, all that remains for the monstrous couple to do is to tear each other apart and to cause themselves suffering.
This insane goal takes precedence over all else, and despite outward declarations to the contrary, all the means of war are legitimate. They are transformed from one kind of couple to another, and over the years, each learns to recognize what are his spouse’s sensitive, painful areas, and where to take aim. Often, even the children serve as vehicles in this battle, and as hostages.

In all such case, communication breaks down in the sense of interpersonal contact and positive listening. It becomes a debilitating, empty shell. Moreover, body language becomes more important than the content of conversation. Sometimes a minor conversation, limited to essential daily needs can turn into a flood of words, but there is always disharmony between content and form, as in the apathetic utterance of very important words.

Even worse is the silence. The distorted interpretation of the other spouse’s words often leads to less and less talk. At this point the couple no longer talks, but just leaves each other notes. Yet this is false silence, because it covers over the tension and the strained behavior. This is cold war that looks like peace.

There can also be open war, i.e. marital hell involving outbursts and storms. In that case, you can have intermittent cold war and hot war. This war fills three needs:
1. Liberating oneself from guilt feelings: “I am right! I am innocent! I am the victim! The responsibility for what is happening does not depend on me.
2. Always blaming the other spouse: This completes the first need. All the facts and all the memories serve, as if objectively, to prove to guilt of the other, and they constitute an always available, never ending source.
3. The need to punish the other spouse: the one who I believe destroyed all my joy, made me waste my life, and cut off all my existence – deserves punishment.

There is no saying sorry, and no forgetting. “We won’t forgive or forget”. We won’t turn over a new leaf! Such is the state of emotional divorce with constant punishment. Marriage becomes a trap. And, as noted, the ones who pay are the children who are born into, and grow up in, this marital hell. With the reality of their togetherness failing, the failure of the “we”, the disappearance of love, and the perception of the other spouse as a frustrating presence, marriage turns into a prison, and begins to function in an emotionally sick manner.

It should be noted, however, that outside the home, functioning remains normal. The spouse is not sick from head to toe, but has a sick aspect to him in his personality. A terrible paradox is created in which people who are totally normal in their professional and social lives keep the wretched, sick side of their personality specifically for their spouse and children.

Therefore, if you want to know if people function in a healthy, normal manner, you have to look at their children.

Make no mistake. Many such parents hide from their children their cold war. The children sense much more than their parents think. They sense the signs of tension in their parents’ body language. It borders on insanity to prepare a person to be a scientist, a Torah scholar an professional in some other realm, but in what is most important, his very life and the life of his children, he functions in a lowly, disgraceful manner.

Yet one mustn’t despair. Even from this terrible labyrinth one can escape. Even is snuffed-out volcano can once more spout a hot fire of love. Yet it cannot happen by happenstance. One must make a decision, saying: This is the central mission of my life.

This labor of compatibility starts right after the wedding, and it fills a person with greater joy than any other preoccupation.

Endangering yourself to save another

Q: A female athlete was rowing in the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv, when her boat capsized and she nearly drowned. People saw and they were concerned about jumping into the polluted water of the Yarkon. In the end, someone did jump in and saved her but she is in critical condition. Is it permissible for a person to endanger himself to save another person?
A: It is a dispute between Achronim (later authorities). While the Torah does say "Do not stand idly by your fellow's blood" (Vayikra 19:16), the Radvaz writes that one only needs to save him without endangering yourself as is known: "Your life takes precedence over your fellow's life." This is based on the Gemara in Baba Metzia (62a) which discusses the case of two people travelling in the desert, and only one of them has a jug of water. If both drink, both will die. If one drinks, he will make it to civilization. The Halachah is that one person drinks, i.e. a person need not save another people while endangering his own life. This is all-the-more-so true when one has the water, he is not obligated to give it to the other person. The Radvaz therefore said that it is certainly a mitzvah to save another person but one does not have to endanger himself since the ways of the Torah are pleasant (Shut Ha-Radvaz 3:625 and brought in Pitchei Teshuvah, Yoreh Deah 157:15). Other authorities disagree. They say that it is true that your life takes precedence over the life of your fellow, but it is obligatory for one to place himself in uncertain danger in order to save the victim from certain danger. This is the opinion of Hagahot Maimoniyot (Hilchot Rotzeach 1:14 brought in Beit Yosef, Choshen Mishpat 426) and Kesef Mishnah (ibid.). Their source is the Gemara in the Jerusalem Talmud that a Torah scholar was once taken captive. Many said: To our distress, prepare burial shrouds. Reish Lakish said: I am going to kill or be killed. Baruch Hashem, he was successful, but we see from here that Reish Lakish was ready to endanger himself to save another person. There is therefore a dispute.
In the article "Le-Mitzvah Ha-Aretz" (Le-Netivot Yisrael, p. 157), our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, agreed that a person should endanger himself to save another person. He brought a proof from the Gemara in Sanhedrin (73a) that when one who sees a person drowning in a river, or being dragged by an animal, or being pursued by bandits, he must save him, as it says: "Do not stand idly by your fellow's blood." In the majority of situations, a river, animal and bandit are dangerous. Furthermore, the Rambam (Hilchot Rotzeach 1:14) changed the word from "a person drowning in a river" to "a person drowning in a sea" which is even more dangerous situation. And the Rambam wrote (ibid.): "One who can save and does not save transgresses: Do not stand idly by your fellow's blood." A person who can save and does not obviously transgresses?! He means that the only exemption for a person not to save is when he is unable to save.
But in our case, jumping into the polluted waters of the Yarkon is a minor danger. If someone enters, he can immediately receive a shot which is like a retroactive immunization, and there will be no ill consequences. This is the responsum of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef in Shut Yechaveh Daa't (3:84), to the question if it is permissible for a living person to donate a kidney. Ha-Rav Yosef holds like the Radvaz that a person does not have to endanger himself to save another person, but donating a kidney is a minor danger, and one does need to take such a risk. Thus, even according to the Radvaz, one needs to take a low level risk.
Therefore, they did have to jump into the Yarkon to save the athlete and "Yashar Koach" to the one who did. He is a national hero!

Our Rabbi's Life

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah (from Ha-Rav's video blog)
Q: Why did Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah not have children?
A: We do not know the secrets of the Creator.
Q: After his wife's death, he did not remarry over the course of approximately forty years. Why didn't he remarry? After all, it is known that it is a great mitzvah, especially for someone who did not fulfill the mitzvah of "Be fruitful and multiply." What did he rely on?
A: We also do not know this.
Q: Is it true that Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah's leg was amputated?
A: It is correct.
Q: Did he have cancer?
A: We do not know.
Q: Was this the reason for his death?
A: I do not know. I learned Torah from his mouth from many years to the best of my ability and I arranged many of his talks but he guided us not to engage in the personal details of his life but to learn Torah. He was a very private person and did not relate to us the details of his life.

30 YEARS!

MAZEL TOV!

Last night, on Erev Yom Yerushalayim,
Yeshiva Ateret Yerushalayim
located in the heart of the Old City
celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of
its founding under the leadership of Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shilt"a

Hundreds of graduates and supporters gathered
to celebrate at the beautiful
Southern Wall Excavations (Davidson Center)
adjacent to the Kotel Plaza

Speakers included:
Ha-Rav Shlomo Amar, Chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel
Ha-Rav Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, Former Chief Sefardic Rabbi
Ha-Rav She'ar Yashuv Cohain, Chief Rabbi of Haifa
Ha-Rav Avichai Ronski, Chief Rabbi of Tzahal
Ha-Rav Tzefanya Drori, Rav of Kiryat Shemoneh
Ha-Rav Simchah Ha-Cohain Kook, Rav of Rechovot
Ha-Rav Yaakov Ariel, Rav of Ramat Gan
Ha-Rav Yehoshua Zuckerman, Rabbi at the Yeshiva and Har Ha-Mor
Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem

And, of course,
Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner

Our Rabbi & Yom Yerushalayim

Yom Yerushalayim
28th of Iyar 5727 - The Day of the Liberation of Jerusalem

That Very Wednesday
"...We are reminded of that very Wednesday. How is it possible not to remember? It is impossible to forget. An emissary of the Chief Rabbi [of Tzahal], Rav Goren, came to me. To hear the news, we were, of course, incredibly excited. Afterwards a telephone message arrived from Rav Goren. We did not have a telephone in our house. It was therefore quiet, but messages sometimes came to us through our neighbors. Thus, they sent in the name of Rav Goren that he wanted to let us know that they were drawing near, they were currently located in the area of Rockefeller [Museum] and they were going to the Kotel, and that I should be ready to travel there. When the driver arrived I asked him: ‘How did you enter?’ He said to me: ‘All of the gates were open before us.’ He brought me in an army jeep. We drove and drove. I asked him: ‘Where are you going to bring me?’ Suddenly he said to me: ‘We are on the Temple Mount.’ I was dismayed. We were across from their building [the Dome of the Rock]. The passage was in fact through the Lion’s Gate. It was then impossible to approach any other way. They therefore brought me in through this passage. There were groups of young men there. Large groups of the soldier of our Army were passing from all sides, and I heard a voice yell to me: ‘Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah!’ This was Chanan Porat. There were other Torah scholars, a large camp of soldiers of the Army [who were] Torah scholars! We arrived at the Kotel. We danced, we rejoiced, we were moved, we embraced and kissed each other with the soldiers. There is no need to relate the genius, the righteousness and the holiness of our Master, the Chief Rabbi of Tzahal (Shilt"a) [ztz"l], who went with courage at the front of the Army, at the front of the conquerors with two weapons. Do you know what his two weapons were? A small Torah scroll and a small shofar! Afterwards, he said to me: ‘We have completed this visit at the Kotel, now I am going to Hevron.’ I jumped. I was dismayed. I was afraid. I could not understand. The Master of the Universe! What is the meaning of this? He was going to Hevron with the two weapons, with the small Torah scroll and with the small shofar! The next day they informed me in the afternoon: Rav Goren is at his father-in-law’s house, Rav David Cohain [This was already after the conquest of Ma’arat Ha-Machpelah - the Cave of Machpelah]. This was how it occurred. ‘Were our mouth as full of song as the sea...we still could not thank you sufficiently’ (from the prayer ‘Nishmat’ recited on Shabbat and holidays). How is it possible, Master of the Universe, not to see this? How is it possible not to fill ourselves with faith, how is it possible not to fill ourselves with the most glorious holiness for what the Master of the Universe has done, does and will do for us, before the entire world, before all of the non-Jews, before all of the believers and all of the nonbelievers?" (Sichot Rabbenu, Yom Yerushalayim 5733 [1974], #9).

Right after the liberation of Temple Mount, our Rabbi and "The Nazir" were brought there in an army jeep. They were not told about this and they suddenly realized they were on the Temple Mount, but decided it was acceptable for the moment to be on the Temple Mount based on the concept of "kiboosh" (acquiring land through conquering). In general, it is forbidden to be on the Temple Mount at this time (because we are impure). On the way back from the Kotel, our Rabbi wanted to return by a different route, but they were told that it was dangerous so they went through the Temple Mount. (Iturei Yerushalayim #6)

It was so very natural that the first citizens who arrived at the Kotel on the first day of its liberation were our Rabbi and Rav David Cohain "The Nazir."

Regarding the prayers of Minchah which he prayed with the paratroopers, our Rabbi said: "This was like the prayer of Neilah (the concluding prayers of Yom Kippur) in the yeshiva."

When the book "Be-Shesh Acharei Ha-Milchamah" of Yosi Gamzu was published, it included the song "Ha-Kotel - The Kotel" and one of the stanzas began: "He stood facing the Kotel, with us, the elderly Rav," accompanied by the picture of our Rabbi. Our Rabbi said: "I am not elderly." (Gadol Shimusha p. 17 #20)

An "Oleh Chadash" Buying Furniture and other Items during the Three Weeks

Question: We are making aliyah during the Three Weeks and are bringing very little with us. Is it permissible to purchase furniture and other items upon arrival in Israel?
Answer: Yes, on account of two reasons:
a. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 551:17) says that one should be careful not to recite Shehechiyanu during the Three Weeks. We thus see that this is a custom and not a full-fledged law.
b. The custom is not to recite Shehechiyanu as not to say: "who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this time," but there is no problem to recite the blessing "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv – who is Good and causes good." Since the furniture is for the benefit of entire family, including the beds - sometimes one person sleeps here and sometimes there – we do not recite Shehechiyanu but rather "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv."
But this only applies until Rosh Chodesh Av, since the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. #2) says that beginning on Rosh Chodesh Av, we limit doing business.

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #6

First Blessing of the Birkat Ha-Mazon
"He who nourishes all"

"Moshe established for Israel the blessing of 'Ha-Zan - He who nourishes all' at the time when manna fell for them" (Berachot 48b). After eating bread from the heavens, they recited the blessing of "He who nourishes all." And what did they bless before eating? Our Rabbis, the Achronim (later authorities), are in doubt whether the blessing was: "Blessed are You…who brought forth bread from the ground" or "…who brought forth bread from the heavens." It is true that our bread comes from the earth, and nevertheless it comes from Hashem, through our labor. In the desert, we were on the level of a young child who receives all he needs without effort, but when we arrived to the Land of Israel, we were required to labor in order for food to grow from the ground, and Hashem also provided us with this food. In a similar way, we received the Torah from heaven in the desert, but we were required to toil with difficulty in the Oral Torah in the Land of Israel (see Temurah 16), and the Oral Torah is also from Heaven. And so too, the verse (Shemot 14:14), "Hashem will do battle for you, and you shall remain silent" was fulfilled for us in the desert, but we waged difficult wars in the Land of Israel, and Hashem also went before us in all of these wars. One should accustom himself to see the hand of Hashem which works in everything. One should accustom himself to see the daily miracles in nature: "For Your miracles that are with us every day; and for Your wonders and favors in every season - evening, morning and afternoon. The Beneficent One, for Your compassion was never exhausted, and the Compassionate One, for Your kindness never ended - always have we put our hope in You" (the prayer "Modim"). Not only does Hashem nourish His Nation Israel with His great compassion, He also nourishes every person and every creature.
One researcher said that there is not enough food for all of the inhabitants of the world, since people are multiplying exponentially, while the resources of food are only expanding incrementally (Malthus). The Theory of Natural Selection therefore claims that only the strong survive. But we, the disciples of Moshe Rabbenu, recite in this blessing: "He is G-d who nourishes and sustains all, and benefits all, and He prepares food for all of His creatures which He has created." We damage His world because of jealously between nations. With the help of G-d, people will continue to discover new resources of food, with the aid of scientific understanding, which is also a gift of G-d.

Update to Reporting Child Abuse

Rav Aviner asked to publicize this response -

Reporting Child Abuse

UPDATE -
e-mail from:
Josh Werblowsky, Professor of Psychiatry
Jerusalem, Israel

Ha-Rav Aviner has made a very important contribution with his comments about child abuse. But regarding his statement: ‘if they stop and go for treatment all the better’ - how do we know IF they will actually stop? Furthermore, treatment is very complicated and there is a high recidivism rate. Therefore, the authorities must be contacted when there is a presumption of child abuse. And teachers cannot be allowed to move from one institution to another. "Lo ta’amod al dam reacha – do not stand by idly over your fellow's blood," as Rav Aviner has stated this is a matter of life and death.

Ten Commandments for Parents of Students

[From "Ma'aynei Ha-Yeshu'ah" – Emor 5769]

1. "These are the names" ("Eleh Shemot" – beginning of Shemot). You should write your dear child's name on all of his supplies: backpack and canteen, books and notebooks, pencil case and pencils, pencil sharpener and eraser, sweater and jacket. A child who losses an item wastes time looking for it and he becomes upset and frustrated. And schools will turn into a giant store house for lost objects, and all of the objects will be thrown out in the end. Especially to an unorganized child, order is a lifesaver.
2. A daily planner is a planner for life. Supply your child with a good planner with dates, without nonsense and vanity, such as picture of actors, rock stars, etc… Get our child accustomed to using it. It will help him to be organized and for teachers to pass on messages. It is good education for his entire life.
3. Water. Supply your child with a small bottle of water. Drinking water in abundance is essential, both in the summer and winter. Drinking water helps a child concentrate during learning. He can also drink in the middle of the class. Obviously, do not forget the blessing before and after.
4. Leaving calmly. Prevent stress when leaving for school because of last minute preparations. You should prepare the backpack and supplies the night before. Wake up on time. Give him something to drink before leaving, and prepare him a good breakfast. Even if he claims not to be hungry, he needs energy for the entire morning. We should eat in the morning like a prince, in the afternoon like a regular person and in the evening like a poor person. You should part from one another with love and a kiss, so that a good feeling remains with him all day.
5. Rest time. Make sure your child has rest time. If he goes to bed late, he will not be able to concentrate. He will be easily bothered and fall asleep during classes.
6. Love peace. It is better to live in peace than with strife. One should endeavor to "love peace and pursue peace." Why the doubled language? The Maharal explains: "Love peace – not to initiate strife; pursue peace – if others initiate, try to flee from it and reinstate the peace. Although according to the basic Halachah, if your child is hit, it is permissible to hit back or if he is insulted, it is permissible to respond in kind, it is preferable to teach him strategies how to avoid strife and bring about a peaceful resolution. Clarify together with him when and how it is appropriate to turn to the school's administration if someone bothers him and when not to.
7. Get up and travel in the Land. Even if your child prefers to remain at home or to learn Torah, encourage him to take a trip. A trip is not only for fun but also part of a school's education.
8. Give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. When your child criticizes teachers, this is an opportunity to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. One should certainly listen to the child's complains with love, but be careful not to be dragged into criticizing the teacher because then the child will be unable to learn from them. It is a delicate balance between respecting the child and respecting the teacher. Therefore, focus in on what the child is upset about and find solutions without blaming the teacher.
9. Parent-teacher conferences are an obligation. Just as a student is obligated to be present at class in school, so too are the parents obligated to attend parent-teacher conferences. And this is not only one parent, i.e. the mother, but also the father, who is involved with many important things, since the most important thing is his children. This is an obligation because of the cooperative effort between parents and teacher, from both directions: listening to what the teacher has to say about your child, and so the teacher can listen to what you have to say. And before anything, to express gratitude and respect to the teacher.
10. Give thanks. You should not only give thanks at the parent-teacher conference but at every opportunity. The teacher works so hard and does so many kindnesses for your child that you certainly should offer them gratitude for the rest of your life. Gratitude in writing and orally, in a note, on the phone, on the e-mail. Gratitude by bringing juice to the teacher's room. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

Shut SMS #20

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Q: My son became secular when I educated him his entire life to be religious. Did I fail in his education?
A: No. There are other factors. All of your proper education is located within him.
Q: Is there a halachic obligation to hide pregnancy?
A: No. It is a personal decision.
Q: I am selling my car. Do I have to relate its problems?
A: Certainly, so you are not deceptive.
Q: Is trust in Hashem (Bitachon) the same as trusting that Hashem will send me the salvation which I expect to be for my best?
A: It is trusting that Hashem will decide what is for your best.
Q: Is it permissible to use one sink for milchig and fleishchig? How?
A: Yes, wash in the air or use separate racks or tubs.
Q: Is it permissible to lie to an insurance company in order to receive a larger payment?
A: Certainly not. This is lying and theft.
Q: Is it permissible to take an oath to Tzahal at the swearing-in ceremony? Perhaps I will be unable to uphold it, such as if I fall asleep on guard duty.
A: It is not referring to a detail such as this, but loyalty to Tzahal. It is therefore permissible to take an oath. But in general, we refrain from saying: "I swear" (since we refrain from oath-taking) and say instead: "I declare."
Q: Is there an obligation to take off my watch when putting on Tefillin?
A: You should remove it, but some authorities are lenient.
Q: If a woman is crying on the bus, should I offer her help?
A: Yes, a woman should offer help.
Q: Is animal experimentation permissible? Is there a limit?
A: What is needed for human beings.
Q: Is it permissible to burn disks from songs I download from the internet?
A: It is certainly forbidden. Copyright. The creator invested time and money!

Reporting Child Abuse

["Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" – Behar-Bechukotai 5769 – translated by R. Blumberg]

We unfortunately see a phenomenon of unbridled parental child-beating, and there are also cases of parents or other relatives raping boys or girls. This heinous phenomenon exists in the same percentages amongst the religious as amongst the secular. In fact, it is actually higher amongst the religious and Chareidi [“UltraOrthodox”], but it gets reported only when matters get too far out of hand, or it comes to light by itself, and by then many more cases crop up.
And why don’t people report it? “It constitutes forbidden gossip… It might destroy the lives of he abuser… it’s unsavory to report it… it will bring calamity on the abuser and his family…” Obviously, all this is wrong. This is the sort of report that one can and must make. After all, the child is small, and who will protect him? It’s one thing if abuse happens outside of a family. One can hope that perhaps the family will stop it and protect the child, but if it occurs within the family, the child has no one to save him. Therefore, whoever knows about it has to report it. Obviously, first one has to talk with the parents, or with the teacher if he is the abuser. If they stop and go for treatment, all the better. But how do we know IF they will actually stop? Furthermore, treatment is very complicated and there is a high recidivism rate. Therefore, the authorities must be contacted when there is a presumption of child abuse.

Some amongst the Chareidim argue that one is forbidden to report abuse in accordance with the Jewish law that one is forbidden to be a “mosser,” i.e., a person who “betrays a Jew to the non-Jewish courts,” which, by analogy, they apply to the courts of the State of Israel. Yet that is wrong as well, because the child’s life is at stake. The author of the book “Nishmat Avraham,” Rabbi Dr. A. Avraham, relates that he asked the illustrious rabbis of our generation, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg and Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv about this, and all of them said that it is a mitzvah to report the abuse, and the person who does so is no “mosser.” Quite the contrary, the parents or family members or the teacher who commits the abuse, whether physical or sexual, is to be categorized as a “rodef,” an attacker, and one who reports a “rodef” is not to be classed as a “moser." Those same rabbis rule that even if, as a result, the child will be removed from his family and placed into a secular institution or adopted by secular parents, or – in cases abroad – even if he is placed in an institution of non-Jews – this is a matter of life and death. We must certainly strive to have the child not undergo such placement, but even if there is a chance it will happen, as noted, this is a matter of life and death (Nishmat Adam, Vol. 4, page 207).
Therefore, whoever knows, has to report it. Sometimes the counselors in a youth organization notice the child’s tension and distress, and they must report to the next echelon in the organization. Sometimes they can tell that something has happened to the child. He is sad. He doesn’t function. He’s woeful and introverted. These are worrisome signs. Or the opposite, suddenly the child becomes violent and acts this way to other children. Often, the victim, himself, becomes the attacker. In short, such things have to be reported – and right away!
One time I asked people in the know: How can a religious, G-d-fearing person, a person who learns Torah, behave this way? They yelled at me: “Don’t be naïve! Do you think that an abnormal person who learns Torah is going to become normal? No! He must go for treatment!”
They’re certainly right. For example, we see that Rambam did not make due with writing many books about faith and halachah, but saw the importance in writing a book called “Shemoneh Perakim” about improving one’s character. It may well be that a normal person who learns Torah will naturally improve his character that way. But if someone is in bad shape, it won’t suffice. He will need special treatment. In our case, he will need psychological treatment in order to take hold of himself. Have pity on the child!
In summary, if you see abuse, you’ve got to save the child and report it, and immediately!
G-d have mercy!

Techelet

Q: What is Ha-Rav's opinion about wear Techelet?
A: We only wear white. This is based on three reasons, each of which is sufficient on its own:
1. One of the authorities of last generation, the "Beit Ha-Levi," Ha-Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of Brisk, held that in the absence of a continuous tradition, it is impossible to reinstitute the identification of the Techelet, even with proofs. This identification has disappeared until the reestablishment of the Sanhedrin. But even if we say that it is possible to reinstitute it with the aid of proofs, they must be strong, clear and beyond doubt. The proofs relating to the Murex Trunculus are not one hundred percent. And the identification of the Techelet today is the third identification. The first identification was by the Chasidic Rebbe of Radzyner, and the Breslav Chasidim also adopted it. The second identification was by Ha-Rav Yitzchak Herzog, who later became the Chief Rabbi of Israel. And this is now the third identification. The great Rabbis of our generation have not accepted these suggestions since they are waiting for a possible fourth identification.
2. We are not strict to wear any Techelet since our Sages said that a blue color which is not Techelet (called "kala ilan) invalidates an entire Talit (see Bava Metzia 61b and Menachot 40a, 43a). It is thus possible that wearing this Techelet could invalidate the entire Talit. Furthermore, when we are strict about something in general, it is when we are certain that we are better off regarding the mitzvah, but if we are uncertain, it is not considered a "stricture."
3. This is casting dispersion on the earlier ones and the great Rabbis of our generation who did not and do not wear the Techelet. A Torah scholar once asked Maran Ha-Rav Kook about Techelet. He did not ask if he should wear Techelet. He said: "I wear Techelet on my Tziztit which I tuck in. Should I also wear them on my Talit?" Maran Ha-Rav Kook answered: "No, by doing so you would be casting dispersion on the earlier ones who did not do so. It is fine if you are wearing them and they are tucked in, "I walk with wholeness of heart within the confines of my house" (Tehillim 101:2), but do not wear them out.
It is also forbidden to act with "yuhara" – religious arrogance – before the great Rabbis of our generation. The Gemara in Baba Kamma (81) discusses that Yehoshua bin Nun made the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael conditional on the ten laws. One of them is that people may walk on the side of the road (on the border of others' property) to avoid hardened clumps of dirt on the road. Rav and Rabbi Chiya were once walking on the road, and they veered off to the side of the road to avoid the clumps of dirt. Rav Yehudah bar Kenosa was ahead of them, and walked in the middle, taking big steps to avoid the obstacles. Rav said: "Who is that? It is 'yehura' not to rely on Yehoshua's enactment!" Rabbi Chiya said: "Perhaps it is my student, Rav Yehudah bar Kenosa. All his actions are for the sake of Heaven." It is haughty to act strictly in front of one's Rabbi. Rav Yehudah bar Kenosa was different, however, as he always acted strictly. If someone wears Techelet, we do not disparage him, he has on whom to rely. But if someone comes and asks, we say to him: "do not display 'yuhara.'" The Torah scholars of our generation wore and wear white Tzitzit and we are going to act strictly in front of them? Do we know more about Techelet than Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira ztz"l?! Do we know more about Techelet than Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu Shilt"a?!
In sum: We need to continue to research the matter, and it is a long journey. Although the heart aches, we wait. In the meanwhile, we wear white, "it has completely turned white, it is pure" (a play on Vayikra 13:13).

[MF – It is worth noting what Rav Aviner once answered in regard to the question: What was Maran Ha-Rav Kook's attitude regarding Techelet?
Answer: When a Torah scholar, who wore Techelet on his Tzitzit, asked Maran Ha-Rav if he should also put Techelet on his Talit, he responded: "It is sufficient for you to have the Tzitzit with Techelet. Techelet on your Talit will be seen as casting dispersion on the earlier ones who did not put Techelet on their Tzitzit" (brought in "Sefer Ha-Techelet of Rav M. Bornstein, p. 192). "When Maran Ha-Rav saw that Ha-Rav David Cohain, Ha-Nazir, put Techelet on his Tzitzit, he asked him: Do you feel the lack of the Techelet on your Tzitzit and that you have a need for it? Ha-Nazir took this as a criticism and ceased putting on the Techelet. After a short time, Maran Ha-Rav came in a second time and said to him: Nu, nu, continue putting the Techelet on your Talit. Ha-Nazir however held fast to the first comment and refrained from doing so, and only put on the Techelet in private after the death of Maran Ha-Rav" (ibid., p. 188). I – the lowly one – heard the story in the following version: "When Maran Ha-Rav saw Ha-Nazir wearing Techelet on his Tzitzit, he rebuked him that he should not follow a path about which almost all the great Rabbis of Israel had reservations. Ha-Rav then entered his room and after a few minutes came out again and said to Ha-Nazir that there is nonetheless a place for this. Despite that this is not the path to be followed by the community, unique individuals may follow it, and since Ha-Nazir is unique and special, he could follow this special path."]

Nighttime Shema in a different room

Q: Is it permissible to say the Nighttime Shema in one room and sleep in another room?
A: Yes, there is no problem of an interruption, unlike a blessing over benefiting from the world (Birchot Nehenin). For example, if I recite the blessing over an apple, I have to eat the apple right away and not walk around. But this is a blessing of praise, which does not require the same alacrity.

Our Rabbi & the Kotel – Part 2

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

Our Rabbi only went to the Kotel on foot, and even from the yeshiva (which is quite a far walk), and said: "We only go to the Kotel on foot." Only in his later years, when he was already unable to walk, did he agree to travel by car.


Students who lived outside of Yerushalayim came to visit him and told him that they wanted to travel to the Kotel. He said to them that he would have spent more time with them, but he cannot "compete with the Kotel."

At a time of distress a student requested from our Rabbi to pray for him. Our Rabbi hurried to go to the Kotel, because things are heard there.

Our Rabbi would not simply go to the Kotel at any opportunity. He said: "I do not go to the Kotel every day, but only when there is a need and a feeling, the Kotel is aspecial place, a place from which the Divine Presence does not depart."

Mechitza at the Kotel
After the Six-Day War, when the discussion arose about erecting a mechitza to separate men and women at the Kotel, Our Rabbi said that in the place where a person comes to seclude himself with his Creator in Heaven and to turn his eyes upward in prayer, it is simple logic that we must remove any seduction that might force him to turn his eyes downward and disturb his focus (The book "Rav Ha-Kotel of Rav Simchah Raz pg. 239 and see Sichot Rabbenu 9, Ish Ve-Isha 15).

Excavations of the Kotel Tunnels and Finding the Temple Implements
After the liberation of the Old City during the Six-Day War, there were extensive excavations of the Kotel Tunnels, which extend under the Temple Mount. Ha-Rav Meir Yehudah Getz, Rav of the Kotel, asked our Rabbi, is it permissible to excavate under the Temple Mount to find the Temple implements? Our Rabbi answered, "No, do not dig." Our generation is still not ready to merit discovering the treasures of the Temple. (The book "Rav Ha-Kotel" p. 306)

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #5

Zimun – Invitation
"Three people who ate [bread] together are required to join in a zimun [the collective invitation to bless together after eating]" (Mishnah Berachot 7:1). What did our Rabbis see in the mitzvah of blessing after eating to establish that it be performed in a partnership? Ha-Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch explained that the daily struggle to survive is liable to transform people into enemies, and when a person rules over his fellow it is to the first person’s detriment. Therefore, particularly after people have pleasure from the goodness of this world, it is proper that they unite together to give gratitude to God with love and fraternity without jealousy or rivalry. When they remember that the source of goodness is the Master of the Universe, people will be reminded that all of us have one Father and we will be bound together in friendship (commentary on the siddur). The earliest source of the zimun is our forefather Avraham himself, the island of kindness, who would generously provide from his goodness to anyone who passed by. Our Sages relate that after they ate and drank and were ready to bless him, he would say to them: Did you eat of mine? Thank, praise and bless He who spoke and the world came into being (Sotah 10b).
By the way, the opening of the zimun, "Rabotai nevarech – Gentlemen, let us bless," or similar phrases, do not have their source in the Talmud but in the Zohar, based on the idea that all matters of holiness require invitation, and that anything that involves holiness requires preparation (Zohar, beginning of Devarim). Something involving holiness is not to be done casually, such as people performing commandments by rote (see Yeshayahu 29:13), rather one must prepare one’s soul: Know before whom you stand.

Check out the Yeshiva's new beautiful website!

www.ateret.org.il

Shut SMS #19

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Q: Is it permissible to go to a standup comedy night during Sefirat Ha-Omer?
A: No. It is forbidden all year because of "moshav leitzim - frivolity," and all-the-more-so now.
Q: I am about to be married and I had a dream that my grandparents told me that I should not get married. What should I do?
A: It does not mean anything. Get married. If you are concerned, recite the "Hatavat Chalom" (improvement of a dream) which is printed in the siddur before three friends.
Q: I saw an extremely immodest picture on the cell phone of one of my Rabbis. I am shocked and do not know what to think about him.
A: He is righteous, but not an angel – a person is judged by the majority of his deeds.
Q: Should an "Oleh Chadash" (new immigrant) say Shehechiyanu on receiving his Tehudat Zehut (identity card)?
A: Yes. Wonderful news!
Q: A person who learns Torah and performs mitzvot but speaks Lashon Ha-Ra, do his merits remain with him when he arrives in heaven?
A: His merits will be transferred to the person/s about whom he spoke ill. Chovot Ha-Levavot.
Q: To my distress, I spoke Lashon Ha-Ra about someone and that person do not know about it. How do I fix it?
A: Fix it with those who heard.
Q: Is it permissible to eat fish with cheese?
A: Some are strict, but it is permissible.
Q: I truly want to wake up early, but I do not succeed.
A: Use the aid of a radio or friend. Exert yourself! The beginning is difficult, but it will get easier after five times.
Q: At which holy place should a groom daven on the day of his wedding?
A: The Kotel.
Q: Is it permissible to write a verse from the Tanach on the glass which will be broken at the wedding?
A: No. It is erasing a verse.
Q: Should one engage in "Hitbodedut" (secluded meditation) and what does one do?
A: "Cheshbon Ha-Nefesh" - personal accounting. Mesilat Yesharim, chap. 3.
Q: A father of an extremely sick child said that he is willing to be in the child's place. Does he need to do anything or will heaven not judge him for something said in a time of pain?
A: He spoke well and does not need to worry at all.

Affection between Married Brother and Sister

Q: Is it permissible for a married brother to kiss his married sister by way of greeting when they see each other from time to time?
A: No, based on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:10.

Cherry Tree and Tomato Plant

Q: I have a cherry tree which is about two meters high growing outside my house in a large flower pot with a plate underneath resting on concrete. I would like to plant in the same pot a tomato plant that I bought. Can I do this or is this "Kilayim" (forbidden mixtures)?
A: It is forbidden to plant a tree and a vegetable together.

Pope Benedict XVI's Visit to Israel

[Talk given in the yeshiva during lunch]


"And the bad angel will say: amen" (see Shabbat 119b). This is the Church which has been obligated to admit, reluctantly, that the State of Israel exists, since the fundamental claim of the Catholics is that they are the true Israel - "Verus Israel" in Latin. It is for this reason that they have murdered us throughout the entire course of their history: thousands of Jews, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. They have never been our friends. They say that they are the true Nation of Israel and all of the prophecies concerning returning to Zion therefore refer to them. But with Hashem's kindness, we returned to Eretz Yisrael. In fact, before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Pope (Pius VII) sent a letter to all of the Christians in the world – Catholics and non-Catholics – urging them to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel because it would be the destruction of Christianity and a slap in the face to the fundamental theological principle of Christians that they are the Nation of Israel. Nonetheless, the State of Israel was established and was victorious. But they said that the State of Israel does not exist.


During the last visit of the Pope (John Paul II) in 5760, he already acknowledged the State of Israel, and many Catholic communities, such as in Poland, threatened him, that if he were to take another step in the direction of the State of Israel, they would disassociate from him and make a separate Pope. When Golda Meir was received by the Pope (Paul VI) at the Vatican in 5733 with the flags of the State of Israel, he was essentially acknowledging that we have a State, as it says in Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah (Yehadut Ve-Natzrut, p. 44) that this was a fulfillment of the verse "for darkness shall cover the land" (Yeshayahu 60:2), which is their shame at having to acknowledge us.


But this same Pope (Paul VI) did not acknowledge the State of Israel at all during the first visit of a Pope after the establishment of the State in the year 5723. The newspaper of the Vatican, L'Osservatore Romano, publicized that the Pope was preparing to visit the holy places. There was no mention of the State or the Prime Minister, but that he was coming to visit the holy sites. And how did he arrive? By way of Jordan. But there was no passageway from Jordan there, so they made a special hole in the border near Megido in order for the Pope to enter. He went in a roundabout way, as it is written: "The wicked go around" (Tehillim 12:9), and he entered the State through his hole and all of the heads of the State waiting for him there. At that time, there was only one Chief Rabbi of Israel, the previous Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi had passed away and his successor had yet to be chosen. There was therefore only the Sefardic Chief Rabbi: Ha-Rav Yitzchak Nissim. They told him: In the position of Chief Rabbi, you need to come and greet the Pope. He said: I am not going. If he wants to come to my office, I accept any visitor. I am not going to Megido to greet him. They said: you are obligated. He said: I am not obligated. They pressured him through Mafdal (a Religious-Zionist political party). He would not be pressured. They hinted to him: If you do not go there, they will replace you. He said: Let them replace me. In short: he did not go. The Pope entered through Megido and all of the heads of the State waited for him, but he did not greet them and did not even look even look at them. After he left the country, he sent a letter to the President and not the Prime Minister, and he sent it to Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem: thank you for hosting me. People said: Ha-Rav Nissim preserved the honor of the State of Israel. This is similar to: "Mordechai did not knee or bow down" (Esther 3:2) – Mordechai did not bow down because he was from the offspring of Binyamin, who did not bow down to Esav (see Me-Am Loez ibid.). Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, sent him a letter: Yashar Koach!


Even before the previous story, there were all sorts of terrorist activities and we blew up some planes in the airport in Beirut. The Pope (Paul VI) wrote in L'Osservatore Romano that this was the blackest day in world history since we were brazen enough to penetrate the sovereign territory of another nation and cause desolation. Ha-Rav Nissim responded: Destroying planes is the blackest day, but them entering here and murdering people is fine! They said to him: You need to be gentle. One cannot express himself this way to the Pope. He said: one can express himself this way. They asked him: Write that you words were misunderstood and taken out of context. He said: My words were understood correctly and were not taken out of context. The media in Israel attacked him but the media outside of Israel attacked the Pope. In the end, the Pope released a statement that his words were misunderstood and were taken out of context.

May we be strong and strengthen ourselves in the merit of Ha-Rav Nissim!

Bar Kochba, from Then Until Now

[from "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" – Emor 5769 – translated by R. Blumberg]
Between Pesach and Shavuot, we decrease our joy slightly, because according to tradition, twenty-four thousand students of Rabbi Akiva died at that time. Rabbi Akiva was one of the greatest scholars of his generation, and simultaneously he supported the national rebellion of Bar-Kochba. Rambam writes: “Rabbi Akiva was a great sage of the Mishna, and he was the armor bearer of Bar-Kochba, the king. Rabbi Akiva would say of him that he was the Messianic king. He and all the sages of his generation envisioned him being the Messianic king” (Hilchot Melachim 11:3). True, it turned out in the end that he was not the Messiah, yet we have to understand that there was no mistake here. Rabbi Akiva envisioned the POSSIBILITY of his being the Messiah. Rambam codified as law that if a Jewish king emerges, immersed in Torah and mitzvoth, and he rules the people according to the Torah and fights G-d’s battles, he should be related to as the Messianic king. If he succeeds in everything, it will become clear that he is the Messiah for certain. Otherwise, he will turn out to have been a king of Israel who did the best he could (ibid.).

Rambam also proves from the support of Bar-Kochba given by Rabbi Akiva and the sages that we needn’t require the Messiah to perform miracles. Rather, he can operate by non-miraculous means, such as through wars. That same Rabbi Akiva was a spiritual giant in his generation, but at the same time he was a militarist on behalf of the Jewish People, and he saw no contradiction between the two. In the same way, the Hasmoneans were both holy men and warriors. In his day, Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote that we are certain that when Rabbi Akiva in his time encouraged support for every vision of Jewish national liberation, he was expressing a doctrine of truth. Precisely from the fact that the attempt failed at that time and the Jewish People fell from the standpoint of their national freedom, we know that the time for this vision will come, and that time is approaching now, and Israel will not suffer again. Not in vain did Israel fight the battle for their survival. (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah 202-203).

And indeed, our Jewish State arose and it stands strong. Here we are safe both spiritually and physically. True, we have enemies around us, but psychologists have determined, contrary to the prevalent view, that the Israeli citizen leads a safe life and relies on our country and our army. Quite the contrary, the security threat strengthens our national cohesiveness, as well as the sense of safety of the people dwelling in Zion. Indeed, the most important thing for us to preserve faithfully is our brotherhood and unity.

When French-Jewish historian and writer Andre Maurois (nee Emile Herzog), who died a hundred years ago, was asked to what extent it was possible to allow political quarreling in a democratic regime, he responded: “The heads of our political parties may be compared to rival officers in charge of a large ship. As a passenger on that ship, I can allow them, at most, to hate one another, but under no circumstances will I consent to their hatred causing the ship to sink.”

Thank G-d, generally speaking there is a lot of love in our nation, yet we mustn’t fall asleep at the watch. Obviously, our army is strong, but at the same time, contrary to what all the libelers and anti-Semites among the nations say, it is a moral army. There’s a story about the recent Gaza Campaign that the soldiers of one of the reserve battalions found amongst one enemy force a very large sum of money. When the battalion commander heard about it, he moved his operations room there so that no one would mistakenly take the money.

Let us take this opportunity to mention another story about a unit that entered a home, and found cartons of fruit clearly marked as being headed for the “mehadrin” Shemittah market. In that same home, Kassam missiles were found. Obviously, orders were given to immediately destroy that house and the adjacent hothouses. It thus turns out that those who had claimed that buying fruit from the Arabs of Gaza was indirectly supporting the bombing of Israel were mistaken. It was DIRECTLY supporting it. The main point is that fear of the Jews befell those terrorists. We encountered almost no resistance. Rather, those murderers fled to hiding places like hospitals. Obviously, the role of the Jewish army chaplain changed dramatically. No longer was he just an army chaplain dealing with the religious needs of the soldier as an individual. Rather, he also worried about that soldier’s functioning as a soldier, and about the success of the fighting. He was not just a partner in the education corps. Indeed, the Chief Chaplain of the I.D.F. wrought a change in this realm. He, himself, was a high-ranking military officer, and he brought in fighting army chaplains who were together with the fighters and strengthened the fighting spirit. He likewise founded, within the army chaplaincy, a department for strengthening the fighting spirit.

Therefore, if Bar-Kochba heard that in our day there are people who are disappointed with the country, and who say that we have to nullify Israel Independence Day or the prayer for the Jewish State’s Welfare, or that we have to change it, he would not understand what he was hearing.

Accidental Radio on on Shabbat

Q: The radio was accidentally connected to the Shabbat timer, and it turned on. What should one do in such a case?
A: There are three options: 1. Put a blanket over it. 2. Turn the dial on the timer to turn off in 5-10 minutes and the radio will turn off indirectly (gemara). 3. If the volume is controlled by a knob (not an electric button), you can turn the volume down with a "shinui" (an unusual way, i.e. with your thumb, back-handed, etc.)

Book by Mordechai Friedfertig

"Kum Hithalekh Ba-Aretz"
A Guide to the Halachot of Traveling in the Land of Israel


Is traveling in the Land of Israel a mitzvah?
What are the special halachot when visiting the Kotel?
May cohanim enter Maarat Ha-Machpelah?
Do you recite a blessing when seeing the Kinneret?
Is it permissible to take trips around Israel during the Three Weeks?
And many other questions!

Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig – former Rabbi of Kehillat Ohr Tzion in Buffalo and now working for Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim spreading the Torah Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shilt"a - has authored a book in Hebrew, "Kum Hithalekh Ba-Aretz" – a guide to the halachot of traveling in the Land of Israel. It contains a guide with all of the rulings followed by longer Teshuvot explaining these positions. Many of halachot are based upon the teachings of Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shilt"a, Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim. There are also comments by Rav Neventzal Shilt"a – Rav of the Old City of Jerusalem and the work has the haskamot of today's leading Rabbis.

Rav Yirmiya bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: "Anyone who walks four amot in the Land of Israel is ensured of a place in the World to Come." Now when you fulfill the mitzvah of traveling around the Land of Israel, you will have a guide to ensure you do so according to the Halachah! It is perfect for anyone who loves Eretz Yisrael, and a great Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift.

The book includes a booklet "Oleh Chadash" which is a guide for anyone making aliyah.

The cost of the book is 60 shekels in Israel and $20 outside of Israel and includes shipping.
If you are interested, please e-mail: mororly@bezeqint.net

Yizkor without a minyan

Q: Is a woman obligated to go to shul to recite Yizkor or is it permissible to say it alone at home?
A: She may recite it alone at home. It is her choice.

Learning Torah for the sick

Q: Is there something else I can do for a sick person along with praying?
A: Ha-Rav Chaim of Volozhin in his commentary on Pirkei Avot (1:1), "Ruach Chaim," relates that a woman once yelled at the Taz: "My master, my son is going to die!" The Taz responded to her: "Am I in place of G-d?" She said: "I am yelling at the Torah within you, since The Holy One Blessed Be He and the Torah are one." He said: "This is what I will do. I will give the Torah learning which I am engaged in now as a present to your son, and perhaps he will live in its merit, as it says (Devarim 32): 'You will lengthen [your] days through this thing (the Torah).'" At that moment, the child's fever dropped. We can therefore learn Torah for the recovery of the sick.

"Igrot Kodesh" ("Holy Letters") of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Q: When some Chabad Chasidim have a question, they open the Rebbe's collection of letters and find the answer on that page. Isn't this prohibited on account of "consulting the dead" (Devarim 18:11) or "Do not engage in sorcery" (Vayikra 19:26)?
A: The commentators of the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 179:4) mention that it is permissible to open a holy book and find an answer, and this is even called a "minor prophecy" (see Shach ibid.). This means that there is no prohibition. There is a similar method of opening the Tanach, and locating verses which answer particular questions. This is called "Goral Ha-Gra" – the lottery of the Vilna Gaon. There is the famous story about the Tzadik of Jerusalem – Reb Aryeh Levin – in which he used the "Goral Ha-Gra. During the Israeli War of Independence, a group of thirty-five soldiers was sent to provide additional defense for the Gush Etzion Settlements. All in the group were tragically killed. After the war, the bodies were discovered but the Chief Rabbinate of Israel was unable to identify twelve of the corpses. Reb Aryeh Levin used the Goral Ha-Gra – which involves using a particular format of the Chumash, flipping the pages back and forth until eventually a particular verse is chosen. In each case, the verse chosen clearly identified a fallen soldier with a particular body (See "A Tzaddik in Our Time: The Life of Rabbi Aryeh Levin," pp. 111-117). The "Goral Ha-Gra" was also used by Ha-Rav Aharon Kotler when he wanted to immigrant to Israel from Russia, but Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein was greatly urging him to come to America in order to strengthen Judaism there. The verse which came out in the "Goral" was "Hashem said to Aharon: Go meet Moshe in the desert" (Shmot 4:27). He understood this to mean: "Hashem said to Aharon" – this was a hint to his name Ha-Rav Aharon Kotler. "Go meet Moshe in the desert" – Go meet Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein who is in the spiritually desolate desert of America. Ha-Rav Kotler indeed went to America and established the yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jeresy, one of the largest yeshivot in the world today (see the book "Ha-Gaon," p. 1118 by Ha-Rav Dov Eliach). And it is related in the book "Lev Eliyahu" (vol. 1, p. 35 in introduction) that Ha-Rav Elya Lopian used the "Goral Ha-Gra" (he once told his students that he received this "Goral" from the Chafetz Chaim) before he moved to London. The verse which came out was: "I will descend with you to Egype and I will surely bring you up"(Bereshit 46:4). There is therefore no prohibition in acting this way, but that does not mean that it will work. Reb Aryeh Levin, Ha-Rav Aharon Kotler and Ha-Rav Elya Lopian were Torah giants and holy individuals. It depends on who performs it. It is possible to ask any question in the world through the "Igrot Kodesh" but that does not mean that everyone will receive a true answer. Although this is a minor prophecy, not everyone is suited to receive it. It is related that Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik – the Brisker Rav – who was a completely righteous person – once tried the Goral Ha-Gra. He opened the Chumash, landed on the verse: "You shall be wholesome with Hashem, your G-d" (Devarim 18:13) and he stopped (Ha-Gaon, pp. 1126-1127). Similar, it is written in the book Orchot Rabbenu (p. 218), Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky said that this father – the Steipler Gaon – was not in favor of using the Goral Ha-Gra for two reasons: 1. We do not know exactly how to do it. 2. You shall be wholesome with Hashem, your G-d." Therefore, someone who acts this way does not perform a transgression, but this is not the way of the Torah. If you want to know the answer to a question you have to exert effort or take counsel with a Torah scholar.

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #4

Mayim Achronim - Washing after Eating
Is "Mayim Achronim" a law or a stringency? It is called an obligation in the Talmud (Berachot 53b). The Tosafot (ibid.) however writes that the reason for this washing is "salt from sodom" - a type of salt which can make one blind if it touches the eye, and since in our days this type of salt is uncommon, this custom creates no obligation to wash "Mayim Achronim." But there is another reason given for this washing: The Torah says (Vayikra 11:44), "For I am Hashem, your God – and you shall sanctify yourselves and you shall become holy..." The Talmud (ibid.) explains that "and you shall sanctify yourselves" refers to "Mayim Rishonim – washing before eating" and "you shall become holy" refers to "Mayim Achronim - washing after eating." This means that one should not bless Hashem with soiled hands. This law is not stated explicitly with regard to the blessing after eating, but with regard to all blessings, whether they are in the middle of a meal or the middle of the day (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 181, Shaar Ha-Tzion #32). Therefore, all depends on the situation. One who eats neatly without becoming soiled from the food is exempt from "Mayim Achronim." But if his hands are dirty, and it is to a degree that he would be careful to wash them for reasons of cleanliness or even because he is overly sensitive with regard to dirty hands, he may not recite the blessing without washing "Mayim Achronim." If his hands are completely clean, he is exempt according to the Halachah, although he is still required to according to the Kabbalists - the mystics (Mishnah Berurah ibid. #22). There is certainly no difference between men and women in regard to "Mayim Achronim."

Our Rabbi & the Kotel - Part 1

Our Rabbi said on Taanit Esther: "I wanted to go to the Kotel, but since I have the practice of putting on Tefillin at Minchah on a fast day, I am concerned about appearing arrogant." When a student told him: "Many people put on tefillin there and therefore you would not be viewed as arrogant," our Rabbi agreed to go. It was extremely hot and the student wanted to go back. Our Rabbi said to him with depth and gravity: "It is difficult for me to detach myself from here." When the student heard this, he was not tired or thirsty anymore for he felt the electricity of holiness.

Our Rabbi had reservations about placing notes in the Kotel, and he pointed out that there is a halachic problem of partially entering into the area of the Temple Mount by doing so.

When a Torah scholar mentioned to our Rabbi the custom of placing notes in the Western Wall, our Rabbi said that one should not do this, and one should even refrain from putting one’s fingers into the Kotel [since it is forbidden for an impure person to enter the air of the Temple Mount in even the slightest way]. The Torah scholar said to him: "But this is the custom of Israel [Minhag Yisrael]?" Our Rabbi responded: The word "minhag" [custom] contains the same letters as "gehinom" [purgatory].

He similarly said that Maran Ha-Rav Kook refrained from kissing a stone of the Kotel, which was not protruding. And thus he wrote (Le-Shelosha Be-Elul 1 pg. 59 #71): "And he [Maran Ha-Rav] was cautious about placing fingers of his hand between the stones of the Kotel."

When a groom asked our Rabbi what to pray for at the Kotel before his wedding, he responded to him that the Kotel is not a place to make personal requests but a place of meeting with the Master of the Universe.

Our Rabbi said that at the Kotel one should think about two things: A. We at located before the Divine Presence. B. The unity of Israel before the Divine Presence.

On the second Yom Yerushalayim after the Six-Day War, our Rabbi stood before the Kotel with his hand outstretched and prayed. Like one person, all of the students were startled on account of his trembling in holiness, and they felt as if our Rabbi was not standing with them in this world.

Orot Ha-Kodesh

Rav Aviner is preparing to publish his Hebrew commentary of the book "Orot Ha-Kodesh" (vol. 1) of Maran Ha-Rav Kook. "Orot Ha-Kodesh" is a pillar of Rav Kook's philosophy and essential for understanding his thought. It is a dictionary of words and phrases of Jewish philosophy with Rav Kook's explanations. This work is extremely difficult to understand and Rav Aviner's commentary will open it up to everyone.
You can be a partner in this project by dedicating part of a book in memory or in honor of someone (any amount is appreciated and payment can be made over time). Please be in touch with Rav Aviner or me if you are interested.

Non-Zionist Rabbis

[From the book "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" vol. 1, #21]

Question: Should we relate to non-Zionist Rabbis reservedly and in a unpleasant manner?
Answer: G-d forbid that such an idea should enter your mind! We are obligated to honor all Torah scholars, even if there are sharp differences of opinion between us and them, and anyone who scorns a Torah scholar is in the category of a heretic (Sanhedrin 99b). It is also forbidden for Torah scholars to scorn other Torah scholars. Scorning Torah scholars is like scorning the Oral Torah, which appears through the medium of the Rabbis and their students, and it is therefore heretical. The Jerusalem Talmud compares this to a structure of stones, if one stone is shaken, the entire structure is shaken (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 10:1). That is to say, one who scorns a Torah scholar, scorns and knocks over the entire building of the Torah in Israel (see "Perek Tzibbur" by Maran Ha-Rav Avraham in Ma’amrei Ha-Re’eiyah, p. 55).


It is, however, obviously permissible and a mitzvah to wage war against their mistaken opinions which do damage to all of Israel, but all of this must be done without scorning them, G-d forbid. The war of ideas is permissible, but it must be done with love, fraternity, peace and friendship, within the context of respect and awe. Maran Ha-Rav Kook explained that the ideal of "Great is peace" ("Gadol Ha-Shalom" – a midrashic expression lauding the important of peace) does not imply complete agreement, but rather that responding to harmful opinions does not necessitate dispute. We are able to respond with reasoned explanations, and through this, it will not in any way destroy the peace (Notes on the booklet "Or La-Yesharim," Ginzei Re’eiyah 3:27).


Note: In this vein, it is worth recalling the following story about our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah:
Even though the Satmar Rebbe had a completely different outlook from our Rabbi, he never scorned or denigrated him. Once Ha-Gaon Rav Moshe Feinstein ztz"l issued a ruling regarding the height of a mechitzah between men and women in a shul, that in pressing situations it is permissible to be lenient in a particular issue. The Satmar Rebbe came out against him. Our Rabbi said: "It is known that our paths are separate and different, but in this issue he (the Satmar Rebbe) is correct." Even though they were polar opposites regarding the Redemption of Israel and Klal Yisrael (the entirety of Israel), our Rabbi never said one negative word about him.

Shut SMS #18

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Q: I have an ex-boyfriend who wishes to come to my wedding to rejoice with us. Is it appropriate to invite him?
A: There is no reason to invite him, and it has the potential to upset your spouse-to-be.
Q: Can a mourner go on a date to find a spouse?
A: It is permissible.
Q: Is it permissible for a young woman to perform National Service in Israel? I have heard Rabbis would oppose it.
A: It is permissible and a mitzvah to perform National Service where a Rabbi or Rebbitzin certify that it is an appropriate place.
Q: Is it permissible to jump on a trampoline on Shabbat?
A: Yes.
Q: There are often Arabs selling wares – shavers, sunglasses, etc… on the street for an exceptionally low price. Can I buy from them or is there a fear that they are stolen?
A: If they are very inexpensive, there is a fear that they are stolen and you should not buy them.
Q: I experienced a spiritual descent a few years ago and did some forbidden things. I deeply regret it now and repented but it is hard for me to forgive myself. What can I do to heal myself?
A: Give a certain amount of tzedakah and learn a certain amount of Torah.
Q: Why is it forbidden to smoke?
A: It is life-threatening. 10,000 people die in Israel every year and tens of thousands are seriously sick.
Q: Is it permissible for a religious woman to date a non-religious man for the purpose of marriage?
A: No, for three reasons: 1. One should cleave to righteous people and not those who are far from Torah (Rambam, De'ot 6:1). 2. It will cause tension in a marriage. 3. It will cause damage to the religious education of the children.
Q: I work in a clothing store where half of the saleswomen are Arabs. I am simply incapable of looking at them in the eyes because of my negative feelings towards them. How should I act towards them?
A: A cold, but polite relationship.
Q: Is it permissible for a father to dance at the Kotel during his son's bar mitzvah when he is within the first thirty days of mourning for his parent?
A: No.
Q: Is it permissible to place on the floor a bag pack which contains holy books or Tefillin?
A: Yes, the bottom of the bag pack serves as a divider.
Q: How many prayers must a woman recite each day?
A: Some authorities say all of Shacharit and Minchah. Others say any prayer in any language once a day, and reciting the morning blessings is sufficient.
Q: Is it permissible for me to have a dog?
A: Yes, as long as it does not disturb others.
Q: Is there truth to the horoscope in the newspaper?
A: It is nonsense and also forbidden.
Q: Is there any truth that autistic people have hidden, special powers?
A: It has already been proven that it is nonsense, both by scientists and Rabbis.
Q: I discovered that my son was stealing from my wallet and he admitted it. What should I do?
A: 1. Give him allowance. 2. Hide all of the wallets in the house. 3. Tell him stories about integrity. 4. Convey to the child that he is a person of integrity, by saying: "This is not appropriate for you, since you are a person of integrity."
Q: A widow who lost her husband in war wants to get married in secret so she will not loss her payments from the government. Is this permissible?
A: It is forbidden and theft.

Extending not reciting Tachanun until after Yom Ha-Atzmaut

Question: If we do not say Tahanun for the whole month of Nisan because of our liberation from Egypt, why don't we continue that non-recital until after Yom Ha-Atzmaut - as one long period of national liberation?
Answer: We cannot make innovations which do not have a source.

Mourning on Yom Ha-Atzmaut

Q: Why doesn't Yom Ha-Atzmaut cancel out the mourning practices of "shiva"? While it is not a Torah-ordained holiday, it is known that when there is a conflict between personal mourning and communal joy of Klal Yisrael – the joy of Klal Yisrael takes precedence.
A: Regarding its laws, Yom Ha-Atzmaut is like Chanukah and Purim. But regarding the laws of mourning, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 696:4) states that Chanukah does not override the laws of mourning, while Purim partially overrides the laws of mourning. The reason for this is that Purim is a decree of the Prophets, while Chanukah is a Rabbinic decree. Since Yom Ha-Atzmaut is also a Rabbinic decree, it is similar to Chanukah and does not override the laws of mourning.

The Laws of Mixed Society (On having a boyfriend/girlfriend)

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner's article from "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" - Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5769
Question: Why don’t our rabbis codify the laws of having a boyfriend/girlfriend? It happens anyway, so there’s no point in ignoring it. I’m not looking for loopholes, but if it exists, what are the halachot so that the connection will be kosher and pure? Speaking more broadly, mixed society is a reality as well, and it won’t help to prohibit it or deny it exists. The rabbis should define the laws so that such society is kosher and clean.
Answer: This is a really good idea, so let me quote from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of the illustrious Rav Shlomo Ganzfried (152:8-11). Yet the same laws can be found in the Shulchan Aruch itself (Orach Chaim 21) and Rambam (Issurei Biah 21).
1. Distancing Oneself: “One must distance oneself from women very very much.”
2. Signs of Friendship: “A man is forbidden to gesture to a woman with his hands or feet, or with his eyes.”
3. Levity: “One is forbidden to laugh with a woman or to be frivolous with her.”
4. Staring: “One is forbidden to gaze at her beauty.” “If one stares at a woman, even at her pinky finger, with intent to derive pleasure, his sin is very great.” “One is forbidden to gaze at her hair.”
5. Perfume: “One is forbidden to sniff an individual woman’s perfume, let alone when she is holding it in her hand or it is hanging from her.”
6. Clothing: “If a man knows a woman, he is forbidden to gaze at her colored clothing, even if she is not wearing them.”
7. Walking: “If one encounters a woman in the marketplace, one is forbidden to walk behind her. Rather he should run forward so that she remains to his side or behind him.”
8. Singing: “One is forbidden to hear a woman’s singing.”
9. Saying hi: “One doesn’t say hi to a woman at all. Even through her husband one is forbidden to send her regards. Therefore, when one writes a letter to one’s friend, one is forbidden to write, ‘Regards to the wife’. But one is allowed to ask her husband or someone else how she is doing. One is likewise allowed to write his friend, ‘Tell me how your wife is doing.’”
10. A Husband and Wife’s Comportment in Public (not related to our topic, but good to mention at this opportunity): “One should show no woman, not even his own wife, any affection, in the presence of others.”
If we keep all these laws, we will establish a good, reputable society, and we will even be privileged to establish happy, reputable, Jewish homes.