Shut SMS #96

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text messages questions a day! Here's a sample:
Q: When will the Redemption come?
A: It began 130 years ago with Eretz Yisrael plentifully giving off its fruit. Sanhedrin 98a.

Q: Is it permissible for a yeshiva student to buy something without a receipt?
A: No. On the contrary, theft is forbidden to him more than to others (Yoma 86a).

Mourning for a Non-Jew
Q: Do I observe the laws of mourning for my non-Jewish father, who just died (my mother is Jewish)?
A: Somewhat. Mourn in the way of the non-Jews (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 241:9. See Shut Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:130. Shut Yechaveh Da'at 6:60).

Equality of Women
Q: Are men and women equal in Judaism?
A: Yes. It is written in the Torah that both of them are created in the image of G-d.

Q: Is it permissible to wear a pig-skin jacket?
A: Yes. And a belt too. Eating or selling pig is forbidden (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch #64).

Q: Is it possible to name our daughter "Shira" or is there a problem?
A: It is a wonderful name.

Distributing Newspapers
Q: Is it permissible to distribute newspapers since they have forbidden things in them?
A: Yes, since regarding the prohibition of "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind" (Vayikra 19:14), we are "Tolim" (literally "hanging" on the assumption) that one will only read the permissible items (Mishnah Gittin 5:9).

Tanach of Christians
Q: What should one do with a Tanach printed by Christians?
A: Throw it in the garbage (Shut Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah #172).

World to Come
Q: What is the World to Come?
A: Two meanings: 1. The world of souls, after death. 2. The world of resurrection, after the Resurrection of the Dead.

Q: We just got engaged, but a Rabbi we consulted said that based on our names we will end up hating each other.
A: There is no such thing. Get married and it will be good.

Studying Secular Subjects on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to study secular subjects on Shabbat? For tests?
A: The Rambam forbids it, since it is proper that Shabbat should be completely for Hashem, but the Rashba permits it. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307:17. The Halachah is that it is permissible but it is proper to be strict. Mishnah Berurah. The Rambam also holds that it is not forbidden according to the basic law, but it is a pious act to refrain. Aruch Shulchan. In sum, it is permissible but preferable not to.

Downloading Songs
Q: Is it permissible to download songs from the internet?
A: If you pay for them (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 2:374).

Bus Transfer
Q: Is it permissible to give my bus transfer to someone else?
A: No, it is only for you.

Two Rabbis
Q: Is it permissible to have two Rabbis and ask one sometimes and the other at other times?
A: Yes. Unless they give leniencies that are contradictory (Eruvim 6b).

Struggle with Inclination
Q: I want to overcome my inclination but cannot succeed. I stumble and get up over and over.
A: Then you are like all of us, or almost all of us. This is our mission from Hashem to constantly wage war against our inclination (Mesilat Yesharim, chap. 1).

Aid from Non-Jews
Q: Should we look positively on the aid from non-Jews in extinguishing the fire in the Carmel?
A: It was not a kindness, but mutual help which countries perform for one another.

Hard of Hearing
Q: A wonderful young man was suggested to me for a shiduch, but he is hard of hearing and this frightens me.
A: Nonsense. It is of no importance. Many good young men have this issue and it does not impinge on their positives. If this is his only problem, do not hesitate, you will be happy.

Vacation outside of Israel
Q: What is the source which permits a vacation outside of Israel?
A: I am not aware of one. See Rambam, Melachim 5:9.

Without Loyalty There is No Citizenship

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Shemot 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: A law has been proposed in the Knesset that any non-Jew who wishes to receive citizenship in our country must swear a loyalty oath: "I declare that I will be a faithful citizen to the Jewish state, and I undertake to respect the country's laws." Is this law appropriate?
Answer: Obviously, I don't deal with laws and jurisprudence, but with the Torah. And so, here is how things look according to the Torah:
1. It is halachically possible for a non-Jew to live in the Land of Israel. The Torah allows for a ger toshav, or resident alien. The Poskim [halachic decisors] write that even in our times there is room for a status similar to that of the resident alien (see Rambam, Ra’avad, Kessef Mishneh). In other words, it is possible for a non-Jew to live in the L and. Yet there are two preconditions to this, one moral and the other political.
2. The first condition is moral: undertaking the seven laws commanded to Noach, the foundations of human morality, by virtue of which man is called man. True, some take the lenient view that it suffices for a non-Jew to undertake not to worship idols, and such was the ruling of Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Kohain Kook (Mishpat Kohain), and our Rabbi Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehuda – Eretz Yisrael). After all, this is the Land given to Avraham, who fought against idolatry. Hence it cannot be that somebody
who goes against this should live here. Therefore, this is not the place of the various types of Christians, and of various pagan faiths from the Far East. By contrast, Islam is not idolatry.
3. The political precondition is that the candidate must accept the state's authority (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim). This is something obvious and logical that exists throughout all the nations of the world. Certainly, somebody busy destroying our country and killing us cannot live here. That goes without saying.
4. Let's just point out that there is no racism in either of these conditions. Racism is a biological doctrine that distinguishes between races, but within the Jewish people there are Jews from almost all of the races, whether they were born Jews or converted.
5. All that said, the idea of a Jewish-Democratic state can find expression, but note that I place the word Jewish first. In other words, there is room for democracy on condition that it does not contradict Judaism. That is certainly how things must be. After all, this is the State of Israel, or, in the words of Theodore Herzl, "the state of the Jews", in both Hebrew and German, or, "the Jewish state", in Yiddish and French. This is a Jewish state, and not a state of all its citizens.
Certainly, democracy, i.e., the will of the majority, cannot force an immoral or antinational law. Examples would include a law that would force Shabbat violations or a law that would decide to erase the State of Israel and make it part of the United States. Even the philosopher Plato described an idealistic democracy aimed at the general good as an organism and not just a utilitarian gathering of individuals. Certainly there are timeless ideals that transcend the law. After all, a nation is not built solely on economics and security, but on ideals and history as well.
To cut a nation off from its history, from its soul, is an immoral act, and the most antidemocratic act there could be.
Let us support real, exalted democracy: responsibility and loyalty to the Nation down through the generations.

Parashat Vaera: How Minute are you Acts, Hashem!

[From Rav Aviner's Commentary on the Pesach Haggadah]

"The sorcerers said to Pharaoh: It is the finger of G-d" (Shemot 8:15). We find the word "finger" three times in the Tanach: 1. In relation to the stars representing enormity, "When I see your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You made" (Tehillim 8:4). 2. In relation to the tablets of the Ten Commandments which represent spiritual heights, "Inscribed by the finger of G-d" (Shemot 31:18). 3. In relation to the lice which represent minutia. This is to teach you that everything is one and equal within Hashem's ability (Rabbi Sa'adia Gaon, Torah Sheleimah, Shemot 8:50 with note). Our revered teacher Rav Kook, wrote: ""Along with 'How great are Your acts, Hashem' (Tehillim 104:24 and prayer "Yotzer Or" in the morning prayer), it is proper to say with great astonishment 'How very tiny are Your acts, Hashem.' This means that just as we are full of wonder at the greatness of the luminaries, wide expanses of the heavens, and the mighty powers of nature, we are also amazed by our observation of the depth of creation in its minutia, in the smallest details of the limbs of animals, and the fineness of materials and the precision of the powers in the farthest places." Similarly, the most abstract, supreme thoughts are together with the details of the halachot and precision of hair-splitting argumentation (Orot Ha-Torah 3, 8).

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #24

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

In the Ashrei, the first words that David Ha-Melech wrote are “I will raise you up My G-d The King and I will bless your name forever.” Sometimes when we talk about Hashem, we may forget that He is our King. We relate to him as the Creator and even the one who gave us the Mitzvot. But He is even more - He is our King, the Ruler of All. David Ha-Melech is saying that we raise Him up and bless His name for every. We do this even when there are problems. David HaMelech didn’t always have such an easy life. But even when he was afraid for his life, he served Hashem and did all that he could to bless His Name. We also try to do this forever- not just for our own lives but for the entire history of Klal Yisrael - for all time.

In the News - Rabbi Aviner: Don't read talkbacks

One of Religious Zionism's leaders says responding to articles on websites may lead to religious and moral transgressions. 'Talkbacks can bring many blessings, but for the most part we see that they have many negative sides which means it isn't worth it in the long run'
Kobi Nahshoni - http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3986921,00.html

[Rav] Shlomo Aviner, one of Religious Zionism's leading rabbis, has stated that responses to articles on websites should not be read due to fears that doing so would lead to religious and moral transgressions.
In a conversation with Ynet, Rabbi Aviner stressed that this isn't a halachic decree or a comprehensive ban from a higher rabbinic authority, it is a ruling he gave to his students after receiving a question via text message which asked: "After reading a 'kosher' article is it all right to take a look at the talkbacks?"
The Rabbi's response: "No, due to major fears that it would lead to 'lashon hara' (gossip, slander), humiliation, and valueless time consumption". The question and answer session was published in the Maayanei Hayeshua weekly which is given out in synagogues.
"Talkbacks can bring many blessings, but for the most part we see that they have many negative sides, which means it isn't worth it in the long run," Rabbi Aviner explained on Thursday.
In his opinion, the ability to respond to articles and publications and to hold debates should have promoted "clarification and reformation of ideas and opinions" which is why "it could have been a wonderful thing", but instead it is used for diatribes and gossip under assumed identities which the Torah sees as "cursed be he that smites his neighbor secretly ".
The Rabbi gave an example: "A professor writes an article, and then some pipsqueak comes out of nowhere and responds with 'you know nothing, you and your nonsense', you can of course disagree and argue the point, but what kind of cheap rude style of response is that?"

After examining the complicated situation – and the positive and negative sides of talkbacks, the Rabbi ruled that it is preferable to give talkbacks a pass and explained: "I can't tell the person who asked me the question to look at the talkbacks in a critical light, read only the positive ones, it doesn't work that way. A person can get swept away by the talkbacks, so a decision is needed. It's like having someone ask if they should eat soup that has a few unhealthy vegetables in it.
"We all give up positive things because of the unhealthy elements they have. I mean, you aren't in the desert with no food, so no, don't eat the soup. Find something else to eat. Instead of reading article talkbacks, I recommend reading Rashi's 'talkbacks' on the Torah."

Shut SMS #95

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah," "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Training for Blessings
Q: At what age should one be particular about his children reciting blessings?
A: As early as possible, although each case is different.

Q: Should a boy recite Shehechiyanu the first time he puts on Tefillin?
A: Yes. The same applies to the first time any Mitzvah is performed (Shut Orach Mishpat 268-269).

Honoring In-Laws
Q: Is there an obligation to honor one's father- and mother-in-law?
A: Yes. But not to the same degree as parents (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240:24).

Q: Is it a Mitzvah or a proper custom to pick up garbage outside?
A: Proper custom.

Q: It is permissible to drink alcohol?
A: Only a bit and only for adults – because of the prohibition against getting drunk.

Q: Should I continue dating a young woman who once transgressed with a boyfriend?
A: If she repented, her transgression is erased (Rambam, Teshuvah 2:1).
Q: But if I feel it is a stain?
A: This is your own issue. Yehoshua Bin Nun married Rachav.

Q: What should I check for in a young woman who was suggested to me, but her parents are divorced?
A: If she has proper character traits, the same as in the case of any young woman.

Dating a Secular Man
Q: I am dating a secular young man. Will I be able to change him into a religious person?
A: This is a big gamble. Chances are that you will not be able to do so. You should therefore stop dating him.

Guarding One's Tongue
Q: At the Shabbat table, everyone speaks Lashon Ha-Ra about all the things that happened during the week. All my pleas to stop do not help. What should I do?
A: Leave quietly.

Switching a Ketubah
Q: A Rabbi suggested to my wife that she should change her name and switch our Ketubah in order to solve our marital problems. Is it proper to act this way?
A: Changes such as these do not help in these matters. Rather you should turn to a marriage counselor. We also do not switch a Ketubah at will.

Q: When I completely cease using the internet, after stumbling so many times, how can I attain atonement when, according to the Rambam, true atonement is attained through being in the same situation and overcoming one's evil inclination?
A: The ultimate atonement is that you completely ceased using it. Fortunate are you!

Eating at a Wedding
Q: We came to a wedding to check out the band. Is it permissible to eat at the buffet?
A: Certainly not. It does not belong to the band but to the people having the wedding.

Marriage of Two Women
Q: Is there a Torah prohibition for two women to get married?
A: Yes. Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha-Ezer 20:2. Sources there.

Temple Mount
Q: Is it permissible to enter the Temple Mount?
A: No. There are signs posted by the Chief Rabbinate which say that it is completely forbidden.

Abandoning Faith
Q: How should relate to a son who abandoned the Mitzvot?
A: With love. If Yitzchak loved Esav, you should love your son all the more so.
Q: A spouse?
A: Same as above.

Q: How should we relate to the Charedim who do not serve in the army, avoid paying taxes, and do not believe in the State of Israel?
A: Focus on their positives: Torah, Mitzvot, fear of Heaven, and proper character traits. Do not sign up for the "Committee to Find Blemishes Among Others," but, rather, look for blemishes among yourself.

Parashat Shemot: Calling a Jew: "Wicked"

[Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Shemot pp. 45-46]

The Gemara in Kiddushin (28a) gives clear halachic guidelines for one who calls another Jew by a disparaging name: "Someone who calls his fellow “wicked” will have his livelihood negatively affected (Rashi, Tosafot and Ri Ha-Zaken ibid.). Our Sages state it clearly: It is absolutely forbidden to call a fellow Jew "wicked." Referring to another Jew as evil is a type of forgery and falsification of reality, a shocking falsification. Rabbi David Tabil of Minsk, one of the great and first students of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin and author of "Nachalat David" on the Gemara, wrote a great philosophical book called "Beit David," in which he explained at length that the discord and fragmentation found in the Nation of Israel is also a denial of the unity of Hashem. A division within the Divine Presence is a division within "And I dwell within the Children of Israel" (Shemot 26:45 and Melachim 1 6:13). Our connection to the oneness of Hashem obligates the holy Nation of Israel to be united together in love, brotherhood, and friendship, tied tightly together like one person without any separation or division. In effect, the unity of the holy Nation of Israel testifies to the oneness of Hashem. In turn, the sin of dispute is truly like idol worship, since dispute is the opposite of unity, and it is as if the disputant testifies about himself that he does not have a part in the G-d of Israel (Beit David, darash 6 quoted in Olat Re'eiyah vol. 2, p. 468).
It is thereof not possible to have a reality in which one Jew calls another "wicked"! The Gemara in Sanhedrin (58b) does state, however, that "One who raises his hand against his fellow, even though he does not strike him, is called wicked," and it brings a proof from the verse (Shemot 2:13): "He [Moshe] said to the wicked one: Why would you strike your fellow?" If so, it appears that a reality does exist in which one Jew called another "wicked"?! But one must pay close attention to the words of the Gemara. It is true that he is called “wicked,” but this does not mean that it is permissible for one Jew to call his fellow Jew "wicked". Therefore, in the incident with Moshe Rabbenu, we learn that when one Jew was striking another and causing a division among Israel, he is referred to as “wicked” by the Torah, i.e. Hashem. We, however, are not to do the same. A similar example is found in the Gemara in Kiddushin (59a) which speaks of a person abandoning a cake in the public domain. A poor person notices it and wants to take it; but before he grabs it, another person jumps in front of him and snatches it. It is difficult to call him a thief, but he is referred to as “wicked.” This does not mean that it is permissible for one Jew to call another Jew "wicked", but only that his level is designated as wicked by Hashem.

Educating during Infancy

The age of infancy is not the place for punishments or speeches, which do not help at all. There is no "direct" educating of a child during this period. Direct instruction lacks any meaning. Even the best behavior of an infant does not flow from his understanding to do good, but from imitation.
Education begins at the age of 5-6. A child is not capable of understanding that the Master of the Universe brings forth bread from the earth, and one should therefore bless Him. Nor does he understand the context of the words, but is imitating his parents. This also possess great value in helping him to acquire proper habits, so that when he grows up there will be no need to exert great effort in order to instill good habits. Nonetheless, this is not education. Therefore, do not laugh at him when he imitates his father or mother. In general, one should not laugh at anyone, especially a little child. One must be very particular about another person’s honor, besides the fact that the imitation is building another level in the child’s development. It is healthy behavior in a pleasant way.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #23

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

We have already learned that the Gemara in Berachot promises that “Anyone who says Tehillah Le-David three times a day is promised a place in the World to Come (Ben Olam Ha-Ba).” A "Ben Olam Ha-Ba" means that he is connecting to the World to Come both in the next world and even in this world. Olam Ha-Ba is forever. Someone who is connected to Olam Ha-Ba in this world is connected to the important, eternal things in the world. The first two verses of Ashrei were not written by David. They come before we say Tehillah Le-David, and were added by Geonim. But they tell us how we can connect to Olam Ha-Ba. "Happy are those who dwell in Your House." Of course, Hashem’s main house is the Beit Ha-Mikdash. But when we learn, daven, and perform Mitzvot, we can also turn where we are into being a house of Hashem. That doesn’t just bring us enjoyment, which can pass. It brings us true happiness, which is eternal, as it is connected to Hashem forever.

Visiting Jonathan Pollard in an American Prison: An Interview with Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner

[Parashah Sheet "Olam Katan" – Vayigash 5771]

How does one arrange a meeting like this?
"I do not know the process, since they arranged it for me, but I do know that it takes many months to receive permission such as this. The one who arranged all of this is Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Vice President of 'Young Israel'. He displays self-sacrifice to visit Jonathan at every opportunity, and he also accompanied me on this visit."

Can Ha-Rav describe the entrance and checking process before one reaches Jonathan?
"There is a serious checking process there, and it is forbidden to enter with anything. Not a pencil, not a camera, not even a handkerchief or a piece of paper. Nothing. You enter and a metal door is closed. You then enter a hallway, and a metal door is open and then another door and another door, and the place is filled with cameras. They also stamp your hand with an invisible stamp, and when you leave, they check, with the help of ultraviolet, that it is you, in order that you do not switch with the prisoner. It seems that there are people with self-sacrifice who are willing to switch with the prisoner… In brief, it is impossible to escape from there, it thus appears"… Ha-Rav clarifies for anyone planning.

We'll arrange another flight for Pollard
Besides Rabbi Pesach Lerner, a Rabbi/teacher from Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim accompanied Ha-Rav Aviner, and a representative of the American Government was also present during the entire conversation. Ha-Rav Aviner mentioned that the businessman, Shlomo Zakheim, offered his private plane to transport Ha-Rav for the visit. "He is a wealthy man who each day performs kindnesses in many places with much money and time."
A problem was discovered with the plane a short time after take-off. They turned around and the landing was without problems. Zakheim quickly descended the plane and another rented plane was waiting for them. "Just as you buy a pen when your pen does not write, he rented another plane," Ha-Rav said in astonishment. "Regarding these two Jews, Zakheim and Rabbi Lerner, Jonathan said that without them he does not know where he and his wife would be today, since the Government of Israel does not help him and his wife."

People say that Pollard is not so healthy. Did Ha-Rav observe this?
"In general, he is sick and he recently had another complication, but one does not sense this about him. He smiles, speaks in moderation, quietly and with knowledge. He possesses a sharp, analytical mind, creativity, and also a good sense of humor. You do not see any of this about him, and this is great strength, since the following night, he felt really awful. But when one comes to see him, he strengthens himself, and you do not see any of it."

Does he succeed in having any hope?
"He has hope. Firstly, because he is a man of great faith. Additionally, as is known, there was been an awakening both in Israel and outside of Israel. A senior aide to Caspar Weinberger (Secretary of Defense of American during the time of Pollard's arrest), named Korb, was the person who presented the memo, following which Jonathan received a life sentence with a recommendation not to grant him clemency. This same Korb recently said that this memo was not true, i.e. Jonathan was blamed for things he did not do. There is therefore an awakening in the US and in Israel."

What did you talk about?
"He spoke the whole time and I just listened. At the end of the conversation, he said that he knows me, because every week he reads the Parashah Sheet of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim. This sheet is distributed on the internet in Hebrew, English, Russian, French, and Spanish. He therefore knows what I think on all subjects (to receive the Parashah Sheet, e-mail: mororly@bezeqint.net). In general, he knows everything that is happening in Israel and America. He said that he is concerned about the Nation of Israel. This man is in love with the Nation of Israel with a great yearning. He said: "I want to get out of here not necessarily for myself but for the Nation of Israel. Since the Nation of Israel needs to withstand future tests, which will not be simple, I want to be together with her." These are not merely words. If another person said such things, people would say to him that his words don't amount to much. But as Jonathan displayed self-sacrifice for the Nation of Israel and endangered himself for the sake of the Nation of Israel, it is therefore possible to believe him.
By the way, he also displays self-sacrifice in the service of Hashem. It is not easy to observe Shabbat in an American prison, but he observes Shabbat, eats Kosher, and also acts modestly with self-sacrifice. There are people, when faced with hardships in life, who begin to raise objections against the Master of the Universe, but he is the exact opposite. When he entered prison, he was not religious, and here – of all places – he became religious. He has to drink large quantities of water on account of a medical problem, and he says: 'This is an opportunity for me to recite a lot of blessings.'
Obviously, it greatly pains him that the Government ignores him and does nothing for him. What bothers him is not only how they relate to him, but that the Government of Israel does not act, as one would expect, in a Jewish and ethical manner in this matter. He says: 'If the Government had said that it could not help, this would be something else.' But the sense they transmit is that they do not want to help. It took approximately ten years until the State of Israel recognized its agent, and this was only following a ruling of the Supreme Court, which he approached and convinced. Only for this reason is there a document today which testifies that he is an official spy of the State of Israel. But this document has not been brought to the U.S. And as long as there is not official statement of responsibility from the State of Israel, in the U.S., he is presumed to be a criminal or traitor, and not as an agent of a friendly country, with which it has a special relationship."

It always seems that there is a detail which we are missing in this story. Why is he estranged by the Government?
"I do not understand political matters such as this. Some claim that if he is released from prison, he will open his mouth and will say many things. Following this, many important people will be blamed for all sorts of things, and there are therefore many important people both in Israel and America who are not interested in his release. But all of these are theories and we do not really know. Regardless, the most surprising thing is why we do not bang on the table and say: Give him to us. Until this day, we have not said to the Americans, even once, that we want him. There was a request, signed by 109 Knesset members, but this request was not passed on to the Americans. The Americans are not able to know this on their own. It is therefore correct that something here is not understandable. It is also not understandable why the Americans do not want to release him. Nevertheless, none of these theories relieve us of our obligation to what this demand."

Did Ha-Rav update him about things being done for him in Israel?
"He knows everything better than I do."

What can we do for him, at least on a personal level?
"Firstly, we can send him letters. And in this area, his words have been published in the newspapers, that the letters he receives are oxygen to him. Therefore, please write him. Everyone can write him, but you must write in English, since everything has to pass the censor. But it does not necessarily have to be in clear English. Just the opposite, he said that when he receives a letter in beautiful English, he understands that someone exerted effort to write in an artificial manner, but when it is in English with mistakes and errors, then he knows that this was an initiative that came from the heart. For a long time now, I personally write him a letter each week. I don't know English so well and I am sure that there are mistakes in my English, but after I heard this from him, I was comforted - it is not so bad that I write with errors."

In general, does he feel betrayed?
"He feels betrayed by the Government of Israel but not by the Nation of Israel. He knows that the Nation of Israel loves him and is interested in him. And if we send him letters, he sees that the Nation of Israel remembers him."

And this is despite the fact that only a small percentage of people send him letters and act for his release?
"This is true, but he does not expect to receive letters from everyone. He sees this as a credible representative sample of the Nation of Israel. He knows the direction of the winds among the Nation and if we ask a simple person among the Nation of Israel, he will answer: "Yes, certainly, Pollard is a good person, etc."

Did Jonathan ask Ha-Rav for something in particular?
"Yes. He humbly said: 'I have an extremely big request from you – when you return to Israel can you plant a fruit tree.' I said that I will certainly make sure to plant a fruit tree for you, and I will ask other communities to do so as well. This is therefore an opportunity to publicize that every community should plant a fruit tree. Every city, every Jew, just one tree. It is also worthwhile to inform him through the site www.freepollard.net. And this will make him happy. In any event, I have two other requests: One request - as we said - is to write him letters in English, and a lot of them. And the second request – to make others aware. Since many people do not know about this story, the more we speak about it the more it helps. The fact is that someone spoke about it here and someone else spoke about it there, and a snowball was created and an awakening occurred in the US. It is therefore important to tell friends and relate it at every opportunity."

Does Ha-Rav know how often Pollard receives a visit such as this?
"I have no idea, but I know that the day after our visit, he was going to have a visit from a group of scientists from America, in order to discuss a scientific matter, which he had thought about."

Don't Sell our Land to a Foreign People!

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayechi 5771]

Why did I add my humble signature to the Rabbinic petition against selling houses and apartments, lands and fields, to the Arabs?
The answer is so simple. The vision of the Jewish state. We have returned here after 2000 years of exile, in order to establish a Jewish state.
True, it is permissible for non-Jews to live there, and one has to treat the non-Jew who lives in the land with integrity and respect. Yet strengthening the foothold of the Arabs in the Land demonstrates a lack of national responsibility, for they are presently 25% of the entire population, and a large scale Jewish majority has to be preserved.
It is no secret that the Arabs want to annex our country for themselves and banish us from our Land, and they are doing this in every possible way: 1. By way of bloody wars which result in our country being full of widows and orphans and bereaved parents. 2. Unrelenting terror which likewise exacts from us a price in blood. 3. Recently, since the Carmel tragedy, a call has gone forth from the Arabs to commit a lot of arson in Israel, and indeed, there have been 15 attempts at arson since then. 4. Unrelenting land purchases by the Arabs throughout our country on a gigantic scale, in Yafo, Haifa, Acco, the Galil, and recently, an attempt to buy the Nof Tzion neighborhood in Jerusalem. In our world there are enormously wealthy Arabs who are ready to budget millions towards this end, and indeed, the Jews, lacking national responsibility, who are tempted by the money.
When I was a boy, a member of Bnei Akiva, I, together with my friends in the
movement, was asked to go, night and day, house to house, to distribute the blue boxes of the Jewish National Fund, whose goal was the redemption of the Land of Israel from the Arabs.
And now, shall we do the opposite?!
This is not just an isolated Jewish legal prohibition against "giving them a foothold" in the Land (Devarim 7:2). Two years ago, the greatest Charedi rabbis publicize their opinion on this. After all, the illustrious Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog, in his halachic responsa on the relationship to non-Jews in the Land, even before the State's establishment (Techumin, vol. 1), declared that we have to distinguish between isolated sales and the danger of being driven out of the Land, in response to which the State must establish clear boundaries regarding sales to the Arabs.
Some ask: What would happen if the non-Jews in America refused to rent or sell homes to Jews in America? This is foolish demagoguery. Everybody knows that the Jews of America are faithful citizen. They're not trying to establish a Jewish country in America. They are not engaged in terror there, and they are not forging any covenant with America's enemies.
Others ask: Does the tension not smack of racism? This too is foolish demagoguery. Racism is a biological outlook that distinguishes between a superior race and an inferior race, with the superior one having the right to control and take advantage of the inferior one. Yet the Jewish people includes within it dozens of races, perhaps the greatest number of races of any people in the world, all the races of Europe, most of the races of Asia, Africa and America. There is only a desire by the Jewish people that the country should remain Jewish, just as the American people want their country to remain American.
Moreover, every honest person in the world has to admit that we bend over backwards for the Arabs of our country. This has no precedent in any other country, and we do it not because we are forced to, but based on a moral ideal. Yet there is nothing, not even the best things, that isn't harmed by extremism, and we cannot allow our goodwill to lead to national suicide. Having a Jewish democratic state does not mean that the democracy has to commit suicide in order to prove its vitality.
For 2000 years we dreamt about a Jewish state, and, thank G-d, this vision is presently being fulfilled before our eyes. We must continue to strengthen ourselves for its sake.

Shut SMS #94

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah," "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Difference of Opinion
Q: I became religious and am Ultra-Orthodox. My sister became religious and is a Religious Zionist. This causes us to fight all the time. How do we reach some level of agreement?
A: Difference of opinion is permissible, but division of hearts is forbidden. You should know that what you share is much greater than what separates you.

Q: Is it permissible to bet money in a card game?
A: It is very bad (Rambam Gezela Ve-Aveda 6:10-11. See Aruch Ha-Shulchan 670:9. Biur Halachah ibid.).

Prayer during Guard Duty
Q: Is it permissible to prayer during guard duty when the level of danger is extremely low?
A: Only with permission.

Q: Is it permissible for someone to be a Sandek twice for the same family?
A: There is no problem. Shut Yechaveh Daat 3 221.

Eating before Davening
Q: Is it permissible to drink coffee and eat a pastry before davening? If not, why is this custom so prevalent?
A: It is forbidden. It is not a proper custom, unless it is completely necessary (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 89:3-4).

Partial Aliyah
Q: A family is unable to make Aliyah because of the difficulty of finding a livelihood, unless the father continues to work outside of Israel and comes once in a while. Is this acceptable?
A: Such an arrangement is okay for the time being.

Officers' Course
Q; I am set to begin an officers' course but am afraid that they will have me participate in expulsions.
A: There is no concern. Tzahal is involved 99% of the time in combating the enemy.

Yahrtzeit for a Baby
Q: Is it permissible to commemorate the Yahrtzeit for a baby who died when he was a half a year old?
A: It is permissible, as for everyone else.

Body Cream on Shabbat
Q: What type of cream is permissible on Shabbat?
A: Liquid cream, which pours out on its own (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 314:11).

Q: What should one do if he wants to take revenge on someone who was once his friend and is now arrogant and disgusting?
A: Know that everything is from Hashem. See Sefer Ha-Chinuch #241.

Weapon on Shabbat
Q: When is it permissible to carry a weapon on Shabbat?
A: It is always beneficial (Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren, Meshiv Milchama 2:61 pp. 52-53. 2:80 p. 80).

Q: We have a stand for people to put on Tefillin. Is it permissible to suggest to Ethiopians to put them on? Perhaps they are not Jewish?
A: They are Jews – as long as it is not proven otherwise (Shut Yabia Omer 8 Even Ha-Ezer #11).

Q: Should one recite Ha-Gomel if one's young son or daughter is saved?
A: Ashkenazim do not (Mishnah Berurah 219:1. Piskei Teshuvot ibid. #9).

Davening Alone
Q: Is it permissible to daven alone if one davens with better kavana alone than with a Minyan?
A: No. Because of the great benefit of davening with a Minyan (Shut Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim #7).

Q: What is the blessing on quinoa?
A: Ha-Adamah. It is not one of the five types of grains.

Q: What is the status of the beggars at the Kotel?
A: We cannot presume that they are truly poor (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 251:10).

Q: Is it permissible to sue another Jew in a secular court?
A: Only if he refuses to go to a Beit Din.

Bike Riding for Women
Q: Is it modest for a woman to ride a bike?
A: Yes, with modest clothing.

Parashat Vayechi: If you will it, it is not a dream

In this week's parashah, we see Yaacov and Yosef's incredible love for Eretz Yisrael when they make their relatives take an oath to bury them there. In this spirit, we bring the following Q&A from Rav Aviner -

Question: Once again a sense of dizziness confounds our leaders, who raise the idea of giving up part of our Land, G-d forbid. How should we struggle for our Land?
Answer: If we want to cure an illness, it is not enough to focus on its external signs, we must understand its cause. What is the reason for all of this weakness? Fear. Fear of enemies both from within and from without. Fear of all types of problems and difficulties. If this is the case, what is the medicine? Strength and courage. How do we attain strength and courage? From love of the Land of Israel and understanding the value of the Land. When we love and understand, we will be ready for great toil and self-sacrifice, and we will not fear anything. General Yitzchak Sadeh, one of the founders of the Palmach, wrote that a truly courageous person is not necessarily someone who abandons his feelings of fear, but an idealistic person who understands the greatness of his mission. Therefore a physically weak person can say, "I am courageous." The Rebbe of Gur, the author of "Sefat Emet," explained at the beginning of Parashat Shelach that the Land of Israel is acquired through desire and toil. We are not denying that building the whole length of our Land did not involve great toil, but when there is desire, people are ready for any amount of toil. He wrote that the same applies to learning Gemara. We can add that this is also the case with marriage.
We therefore know the solution: To fill the Nation of Israel with the desire for the Land of Israel. This desire certainly exists, because without it, there would be nothing here: No building of the Land, no return to Zion, no establishment of the State, and no founding of the army. We should therefore be more precise: We must strengthen the desire of the Nation of Israel for the Land of Israel.
We have already learned this from Yaakov Avinu. Hashem said to him: "The Land upon which you are lying, I will give to you and your descendants" (Bereshit 28:13). This is surprising: This is an extremely small area?! Rashi explained: "The Holy One, Blessed be He, folded up the entire Land of Israel under him. He hinted to him that it would be easily conquered by him like the four amah (six feet) which is the place of a person." If a person knows that the Land of Israel is his place, it is easy for him to conquer. If a person "lies down" on the Land of Israel, i.e. displays self-sacrifice for it, it is easy for him to conquer. And if "this is the stone upon which he lays his head" (Bereshit 28:18), then it is easy for him to conquer.
Why exactly is the detail of Yaacov Avinu putting the stones there important? Answer: These stones are the stones of the Land of Israel, and they were very dear to him. At the end of the Kuzari (5, 27), the Jewish spokesman is asked, when will the Redemption arrive? He answers: “When they yearn for the fundamental yearning, as it says: ‘For Your servants hold her stones dear, and cherish her dust"’ (Tehillim 102:14). The love of the stones by the Nation will bring Redemption. The Gemara relates that Rabbi Abba would kiss the stones of Acco and Rabbi Chaim bar Gamda would roll in the dirt of the Land of Israel, as it says: "For Your servants hold her stones dear, and cherish her dust" (Ketubot 112a-b). There is something strange in Rashi's commentary on this Gemara. He simply copies the verse, without offering an interpretation. I saw an explanation – I believe in the name of the Vilna Gaon – that those Rabbis who kissed the stones and rolled in the dirt did not do so to fulfill the above-mentioned verse, but because they loved the stones and dirt of our Land in the depths of their souls. This is the secret: To strengthen love.
Avraham Avinu was told: "Arise, walk in the Land, its length and its breadth, for I am giving it to you" (Bereshit 13:17). Our Sages explain: "In order that the Land would be easily conquered by his children" (Baba Batra 100a). The love of the journey makes the conquering easy. Yitzchak Avinu was told more: Do not only "Arise, walk in the Land," but "Dwell in the Land…live in the Land" (Bereshit 26:2-3). And Yaacov Avinu even more so: He laid down on the Land, he clung to the Land. Even if he had only laid down on four amah he would have been able to spring forth and conquer the entire Land, as is written in the commentary "Da'at Zekenim Mi-Ba'alei Ha-Tosafot": "'The Land upon which you are lying' means that I will give you that upon which you lie; and you will spread out in every direction by yourself and conquer all of your surroundings, as is the case with important horsemen. They give them a little land and they conquer all of the surrounding with their courage."
If we strengthen the love of the Land of Israel, we will then hold on it with self-sacrifice, and even spread out to the west, east, north and south. If you will it, it is not a dream.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #22

[adapted by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

The central part of Psukei Dezimra is Ashrei. During the times of the Gemara, what to say in Psukei Dezimra wasn’t yet decided. In general, people could say what they want. But the Gemara in Berachot says that “everyone who says Tehillah Le-David three times a day is promised to have a portion in the World to Come.” We say it twice at Shachrit and once at the beginning of Minchah. This has been going on a long time.
Why is as Ashrei so special that saying it three times daily gets you the World to Come? The Gemara in Berachot notes that Ashrei has two things that are particularly special. First, it goes in Alef-Bet order from Alef to Tav. This signifies completion. We say at the beginning and end Tehillah Le-David - a praise of David. Since we praise Hashem in Alef to Tav order, we are praising Him for absolutely everything. In addition, in Ashrei we have special Kavana when we say “You, Hashem, open your Hand and satisfy the needs of all who live.” When we say this, we are recognizing that Hashem has made a world where all needs can be fulfilled. It is true that sometimes they are not. Millions are hungry. But this is because, while Hashem has done his part of providing what everyone needed, people haven’t done their part of making sure everyone gets fed. When we say that Hashem has provided for the needs of all, we recognize Hashgachah Pratit - that Hashem is involved in the lives of all those who live. This is an important part of Judaism.

Decrees of our Sages

Question: Why did our Sages prohibit eating chicken and milk together? Why didn't they have more confidence in us, as surely we can tell the difference between fowl and meat? Furthermore, why was this decree not extended to fish as well?
Answer: This is a general question regarding all of our Sages' decrees. They did not enact decrees quickly and did not want to burden people. Rather they saw what was happening in reality and based on what they saw, warned people.

Regarding Army Service for Women

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Behar-Bechukotai 5766 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook said that theoretically speaking, even women are obligated to fight in a Milchemet Mitzvah [compulsory war]. As the Mishnah states, “Even a groom from his chamber and a bride from her wedding canopy [must go to war]” (Sotah 44b). Likewise, Rambam rules, “In a Milchemet Mitzvah all must go to war, even a groom from his chamber and a bride from her wedding canopy” (Melachim 7:4). Our situation today would be classified as a Milchemet Mitvah by Ramban, since we are still at war in our conquest of the Land (Note 4 from Ramban’s Additions to Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot), and by Rambam, since our wars involve “assisting the Jewish People against their enemies” (Melachim 5:1). The latter is itself an extension of the Torah’s command, “Do not stand by when your neighbor’s life is in danger” (Vayikra 19:16).

Yet our Sages said, “It is the nature of man to conquer, but not the nature of woman” (Yevamot 65b). Therefore, Radbaz, Rabbi David ben Zimra, wished to soften Rambam’s statement and to say that he didn’t have in mind actual military tasks but offering soldiers assistance, in line with Rambam’s comment that women should “provide food and water to their husbands” (Melachim 7:4). This novel thought is not mentioned in the Mishnah, the Talmud or in Rambam, who quoted the Mishnah word for word. It is clear that Rambam’s intent was about all military tasks (and the same can be found in Sefer HaMitzvot, at the end of Shoresh 4).

Rambam would explain that “It is not the nature of women to conquer” was not said regarding Milchemet Mitzvah and women bearing weapons in them. While women bearing weapons is normally forbidden due to “No male article shall be on a woman” (Devarim 22:5 and Nazir 49a), in a compulsory war, a life and death situation overrides all else.

In this way Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda clarified the fundamentals of the law (Sichot Rabbenu: “Ish VeIsha" se’if 42-43 and Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 1, p. 124). Yet he immediately added that in making a halachic ruling, it is essential to take into account the trials and obstacles to modesty faced by girls serving in the army. “In girls’ military service, there is a danger of moral decline, and it is hard for a girl to maintain her pristine modesty… It is a fact that in the army there is a problem with modesty.” Therefore, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda directs us to turn to the “judge who will be in those times” (Devarim 17:9), in other words, the Chief Rabbis of Israel. As is known, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate forbade girls to participate in military service, in any form of a draft, from then until now.

Therefore, later on Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda publicized his view opposing military service for girls, in accordance with Radbaz, not because that is the essence of the law, but as a fence around modesty. He also said that we should view National Service as a way of preparing girls to serve their Nation and Land: “Our holy Mishnah states for all time that in a Milchemet Mitzvah even the bride goes forth from her wedding canopy. According to the decision and clarification of the greatest later sage following Rambam – Radbaz – the Mishnah means that girls should assist the army. Today this can be accomplished through the ‘National Service’ arrangement, bearing in mind our Sages’ enormous caution regarding situations where modesty is at stake, as described at the end of Kiddushin” (Sichot Rabbenu, ibid., 44).

Obviously, even regarding National Service, not all locations are the same. Some are reputable, and it is a mitzvah to serve there, but unfortunately there are also places where things are different. We can employ the following yardstick: Just as we won’t eat food unless it carries the approbation of an authorized Rabbi, so too, a girl should not do National Service without the program in question receiving the approbation of an authorized Rabbi or Rebbetzin.

Yet regarding military service for girls, that program has always been rejected entirely by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda issued the same ruling. If, however, a girl enlists all the same, we have to engage in damage control. We must therefore praise the “Aluma” Organization which directs girls to army programs in which less immodesty prevails, providing them with guidance and assistance all through their service. After all, if someone is falling, we don’t push him down further. We further must praise the pre-military program for girls, “Tzahali Va-Roni Yoshevet Tzion,” slated for opening. If a girl is going to enlist either way, we have to strengthen her in Torah and the fear of G-d in preparation for her enlistment, and Torah study is always good.

Obviously these words of praise are not meant provide any legitimacy to girls’ military service. They are only an expression of our bearing responsibility for the entire Jewish People, even if they do not follow the straight and narrow. After all, there are co-educational pre-army programs, including one of the Reform Movement, and they, too, provide great assistance to draftees, hence they belong to the umbrella organization of the pre-military programs. All the more that there is a place for pre-military programs for religious girls. May we be so fortunate that from “Tzahali VaRoni Yoshevet Tziyon” we should advance to “The princess’s glory is all on the inside” (Tehillim 45:14).

Shut SMS #93

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah," "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Car Seat
Q: Is there really an obligation for a child to sit in a car seat? It is such a pain! Once upon a time none existed and nothing happened!
A: You are obligated! They prevent 60% of cases in which a child would have been killed!

Q: Was there a Golem in Prague?
A: It appears so. But there is no source.

Wedding Invitation
Q: It permissible to put half a verse on a wedding invitation when most people throw it out? A quote from the Gemara? A secular poem from Zelda?
A: It is forbidden to put any holy writing on it. It is permissible to put a secular poem (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 4:233, 235).

Orange Band
Q: What is the meaning of the orange band?
A: Faith in the revival of the Nation in its Land according to its Torah.

Q: Is there a problem to work in telemarketing and to convince someone to buy something?
A: It is permissible if you do not bother others and you tell the truth, the whole truth.

Relation to those who Sneak into the Country
Q: I work on the border with Egypt and we catch many people trying to sneak into the country. Is it permissible to give them some of our tasty food?
A: When dealing with people who violate the law, we must distance ourselves from two extremes: Not to be cruel for no reason but also not to be so loving.

Immersion and Ear Infections
Q: Every time I (a woman) immerse in the Mikveh, I get an ear infection. Is it permissible to wear silicon ear plugs?
A: No. Rather you should put in ear drops, since the water is not the problem but the filth. And you should get permission from an ENT.

E-mail on Shabbat
Q: Can I read an e-mail after Shabbat that was sent on Shabbat?
A: After the fact, it is permissible to benefit from it. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 318:1.

Disagreement between Parents
Q: What is the Halachah if my father tells me to do one thing and my mother tells me the opposite? For example, my father tells me to turn on the TV, and my mother says to turn it off?
A: Say that you asked a Rabbi, and he told you not to get involved.

Q: I have a video that a friend bought and lent to me. It says on it that it is forbidden to lend it to others. Is it permissible to watch it?
A: It is permissible. It is not possible to prohibit lending it out.

Q: Will Redemption nullify death?
A: Only when we reach the stage of the Resurrection of the Dead.

Children on Mt. Herzl
Q: Is it permissible to bring children to the national cemetery on Mt. Herzl? If it is permissible, is there a reason to refrain from doing so?
A: It is completely acceptable (The custom of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was to stand across from the national cemetery on Mt. Herzl and say: "These are the graves of the righteous who died sanctifying Hashem's Name. Why should I travel far distances?").

Memorial for First Husband
Q: Is there a problem for a widow, who is remarried, to attend a memorial service for her first husband?
A: Yes, it will pain the second husband, even if he denies it.

Torah in the House
Q: Someone just brought to our house a non-Kosher Torah, which we will bring to a Sofer tomorrow to be fixed. We were told that it is dangerous to have a Torah in our house, and we are scared. What should we do?
A: There is no such problem. Nonsense. On the contrary, holiness resides in your house.

Wedding during Year of Mourning
Q: I am in the year of mourning for my father. Is it permissible for me to get married? The date was not set before his death.
A: Yes.

Men's Sleeve length
Q: Is it permissible for men to wear short sleeves?
A: It is permissible, but it is proper to wear long sleeves (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:12).

Q: Is it permissible to break the law for the sake of Eretz Yisrael?
A: No. We do not perform a Mitzvah through a transgression.

Parashat Vayigash: The Different Qualities of

[Tal Chermon]

Yosef was unequaled in his ability to build the material basis of existence. This talent of the Messiah ben Yosef continued to unfold throughout history. It did not begin with Yosef, and it did not cease with his passing. Avraham Avinu had already displayed this ability in his victorious war against the four kings (Bereshit, chap. 14), in his successful discovery of fresh water in a well he had dug (ibid. 21:25), and in his great economic prosperity with his flock, silver, and gold (ibid. 13:2). This talent became apparent in Yitzchak also when he dug wells, and was blessed with an unexpectedly prolific crop, a hundred-fold more than others (ibid. 26:12). It reached its peak with Yosef as the viceroy of Egypt. Yosef's descendants demonstrated the same expertise. Two hundred thousand of his resourceful offspring from the tribe of Efraim broke out of slavery and left Egypt earlier than the rest of the Nation (Shemot Rabbah 20:11). Later, G-d chose Yehoshua of the tribe of Efraim to perform the miracle of halting the sun in its tracks (Yehoshua 10:12). Yehoshua became famous for this act. Shaul established both the army and the kingdom as a forerunner of the permanent kingdom of the Davidic line (Shmuel 1 14:47-52). Yoravam, an offspring of Yosef, was appointed as chief tax-collector of all the House of Yosef during King Shlomo's rule and finally became the king of Israel after the splitting of the Kingdom (Meleachim 1 11:28-31). Maran (our revered teacher) Ha-Rav Kook wrote that in these times of our national re-awakening, Herzl was a spark of the Mashiach ben Yosef, and he was thus a driving force for the rebuilding of our national entity (In his eulogy for Herzl called "The Eulogy in Yerushalayim," published in Ma'amrei Ha-Re'eiyah, p. 98). Unfortunately, this spark is dimming because its connection with the Mashiach ben David is weakening.

Unwanted Blessing

Unwanted Blessing
Question: Do all blessings given to you (by a Chatan or Sandak or Rebbe) have an effect even if you do not want the outcome of the blessing. For example, if someone was given a blessing to marry a certain boy, and there is no interest whatsoever to marry that boy, does the blessing have any affect?
Answer: The intention of the person's blessing was for the other person's benefit. And if it is not the other person's will, the blessing therefore does not work. Furthermore, when we recite a blessing, we leave the choice of what to do with the blessing to Hashem, and Hashem does want he wants. Therefore, there is no reason to be concerned.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #21

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

In Mizmor Le-Todah we say to serve Hashem with "Simcha" and to serve Hashem with "Rinana". "Rinana" is outward joy and "Simcha" is the happiness that we feel inside. So it is really the most important. Only Hashem and I know if I am happy to serve Him. I can use outward expressions of joy to get closer to this true joy. But only Hashem knows what I truly feel. So I need to work on my love for Him so I will feel more and more joy at serving Him.

The People of the Coin in the Empty Jar

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Miketz 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

The people of the "coin in the empty jar" are a large public the world over, transcending ethnicity, religion, and social status. Their slogan is: "A coin in an empty jar rattles" (Baba Metzia 85b). That is, shaking a small coin in an empty jar will make a lot of noise, as opposed to a jar full of coins, which is silent. Since these people are empty, they find consolation in making noise, putting on airs, and spouting their nonsense in every direction.
In every society they constitute a small but loud minority, and the media loves and nurtures them, seeking them out the way a fly loves dirt. Those noisemakers are a constant, never disappointing source of fascinating news at all times. They make news, but they don't make history. Those who make history are the mainstream, who eschew extremism, working steadily, quietly and assuredly, bringing the world a blessing. This being the case, they are happy with their lot and busy with their work.
The empty people however, since they will not produce, are sunken in anger. Surely, Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook taught us: "The source of danger derives from their lack of spiritual creativity." (Orot Ha- Kodesh 3:246). And therefore: "When we see any faction or party always expressing itself in anger, that's a sure sign of its mindlessness, of its having no content with which to fill up its emptiness, and it harbors sincere anger at itself. Nonetheless, its own ego emerges and forces it to impose its anger on others" (ibid. 245). The empty-jar rattlers are empty himself, so they make noise. Otherwise, nobody will know they exist. Perhaps they, themselves, will not know that they exist. So, they make empty noise.
Yet 99% of people make history. Obviously, not everybody is the commander-in-chief of the army, but every soldier has a place in history. Not everybody built the country, but if somebody lives in it and works in it, he has a portion in that great enterprise. Therefore, all those people feel good. They feel complete. They rejoice in the joy of doing mitzvot.
Still, the empty-jar rattlers earn no living for anyone but the newsmen, and, of course, themselves. Sometimes they cast a pall upon their whole group, which is composed of fine, upstanding people. For example, there are Charedim who express their bitterness by burning trash containers, to the chagrin of almost the entire Charedi public, which finds itself horribly blemished. Indeed, I am not a Charedi, but I appreciate Charedim and love them. As far as the burners of trash containers, however, I don't appreciate them.
But why should I be sorry about other people's coin rattlers, be they Charedim, secular, or leftists? Every public has its own rattlers. We, too, have got a few rusty coins spouting unending slogans in their empty jar: We are against the state (of the heretics), against the (criminal) government; against the (corrupt) army, we won't enlist, because in any event, the Army does nothing all day (except for uprooting settlements) and we shall refuse orders (true, we are not enlisting, but we will still find some way to refuse orders). I forgot the chronic opposition to the police (who behave like Nazis) and to the whole centrist stream (who are not serious people).
You've got to realize, however, that this is an unsolvable problem. There are always going to be people who rattle their coins in their empty jars. Since life is never going to be totally attuned to what we want, we have to understand that various reactions are likely.
Therefore, our relationship to the rattlers' party has to have two aspects: 1. Not to get excited.
This is a childhood illness – albeit involving a prolonged childhood. 2. We have to love and
respect our fellow Jew. After all, he is our flesh and blood.

It is Lucky that Yehudah the Maccabee Did Not Ask...

It is lucky that Yehudah the Maccabee did not ask politicians, because if he had they would have told him that one must consider the possible international pressure, and he would have sat and deliberated and deliberated.

It is lucky that he did not ask too many military strategists and experts, because they would have told him that there is no chance of delivering "the strong into the hands of the weak," and they would have broken his spirit.

It is lucky that he did not ask statisticians, because they would have revealed to him the secret that we are "the few against the many," and he would have been afraid of the demographic demon.

He also did not ask Roshei Yeshiva, because if he had, they would have ruled that it is forbidden for yeshiva students to interrupt their Torah learning , and then there would not have been a delivering of "the heretics into the hands of those involved in Your Torah."

He also did not ask too many Rabbis, because if he had they would have told him that it is forbidden to challenge the nations of the world, and that we do not rely on a miracle, especially where there is a real potential for danger, etc..., etc...

He also did not ask the humanists, because they would have revealed to him the secret that one soul of Israel is worth more than a few kilometers of land and is more costly for the Nation.

He certainly did not ask those who are pure-of-heart, because they would have depressed his spirit, and preached to him that it is not proper to kill or to be killed.

He did not ask deep thinkers, because – with their great depth - they would have confused him and stopped him with discussions of the order of priorities: Perhaps the Nation takes precedence, etc..., etc...

He did not ask the pacifists, because they would have illuminated his eyes to the greatness of peace, and that one should never use violence, and that goodwill will resolve everything.

He did not ask too many questions, but he fulfilled his national and spiritual obligation and jumped into the lion’s den, with amazing self-sacrifice into the great battle which saved Israel. And then all of the politicians, all of the strategists, all of the statisticians, all of the Roshei Yeshiva, all of the Rabbis, all of the humanists, all of the pure-of-heart, all of the thinkers, and all of the pacifists became sages after the fact, and they lit Chanukah lights as a remembrance of the victory, and these lights illuminate our lives from those days until this time.

Shut SMS #92

Ha-Rav 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:
Bad Breathe
Q: My good friend has terrible bad breathe. Should I tell him? He will be hurt.
A: Tell him gently that you have an unusual sensitivity.

Q: Is it a Mitzvah to go to a funeral of an acquaintance?
A: It is a Mitzvah, but not obligatory.

Netilat Yadayim for a Baby
Q: Does a two month old baby require Netilat Yadayim?
A: No, only from the age of education. Shulchan Aruch Ha-Rav (chap. 4).

Physical Abuse
Q: If a man purposefully touches me on the bus or in a public place, is it permissible for me to yell at him, or should I be concerned about embarrassing him?
A: You should certainly yell at him as loud as you can, and if he is embarrassed, he deserves it. He brought it on himself. Not only is it permissible to yell at him, it is a Mitzvah.

Traveling outside of Eretz Yisrael
Q: What is the source for the prohibition of traveling outside of Eretz Yisrael for a trip?
A: Rambam, Melachim 5:9. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 531:4.
Q: To visit close family?
A: It is permissible if they do not come here.

Trip to Jordan
Q: Is it permissible to visit Jordan?
A: It is Eretz Yisrael, but not under Israeli sovereignty. One should therefore refrain from traveling there. And the same applies to the Sinai (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:312).

Picture of Rabbis
Q: Is it permissible to hang pictures of Rabbis in a room where we change the baby's diaper?
A: Yes.

Free Choice
Q: If Hashem knows everything before, then I don't have free choice?
A: There is both Divine knowledge and free choice. This is a complex subject for a text message. See Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah, end of chap. 5 or Shemoneh Perakim, chap. 8.

Q: If a friend asks me to buy him a pack of cigarettes, should I refuse?
A: Yes, but do not get into a dispute.

Q: I work at a store and receive a discount. Can I buy something for friends? It is accepted behavior.
A: You nonetheless need explicit permission.

Separating Challah
Q: Is it permissible to separate Challah after the dough has already been baked?
A: Yes. This is how it is done with Matzah.

Electric Shavers
Q: Under what circumstance is it permissible to use an electric razor?
A: An older type which is less efficient. Do not put it too close to the skin, so that you can still feel the scruff (Ha-Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank brought in Shut Minchat Yitzchak 4:113. Halichot Shlomo – Tefilliah chap. 2 p. 11).

Woman dancing at a Wedding
Q: Is it permissible for young woman to dance at a wedding in the inner circle before the bride and groom in order to bring joy to their good friend?
A: It is forbidden for women to dance in front of men, and we do not perform a Mitzvah through a transgression (Gan Naul, p. 149).

Cemetery at Night
Q: Is it forbidden to visit a cemetery at night?
A: No. It is only forbidden to sleep there. Nidah 17.

Immersing Utensils
Q: Is it permissible to immerse utensils in a regular Mikveh?
A: Yes. With permission of the person who is responsible, since sometimes utensils fall in, break, or make it dirty.

Supermarket Bags
Q: Is it permissible for me to take bags from the supermarket for personal use after shopping there?
A: Certainly not.

Female Dentist
Q: Is it permissible for a man to go to a female dentist or hygienist?
A: Yes. Just like for a doctor.

Martial Arts for Kids
Q: Is it permissible to organize a martial arts class for kids, or will it be an opening to violence?
A: Yes. It is not an opening to violence but to self-control, and it will help them like all physical activity.

Shoes with a Magen David
Q: Is it permissible to wear shoes with a Magen David on the sole?
A: Yes. There is no holiness to a Magen David.

Picture of a Rabbi
Q: I have a picture of a Rabbi on my cell phone screen. Can I bring it into the bathroom?
A: Yes (see Shut Igrot Moshe Yoreah Deah 1:173. Shut She'eilat Shlomo 4:237).

Women in Tzahal
Q: Is it permissible for women to serve in the army?
A: It is forbidden. The ruling of the Chief Rabbinate.

Bride's First Immersion
Q: Is it the custom for friends to accompany a bride to her first immersion in the Mikveh?
A: Yes. They wait for her in the outer room with food, singing, and dancing. But this is on condition that she immerses in the day when the Mikveh is empty, and not at night, when it will bother the other women who come to immerse.


While nursing and dependence are pleasant, it comes time to wean from the nursing in a physical way and from the dependence in an emotional way. The weaning must obviously be in stages.
There are parents who are not interested in weaning their child. The child grows but is still a baby. When he informs his parents that he is getting married, the parents are insulted: "How can our child abandon us in order to go with a stranger? Why did we raise him – in order to stay with us until old age! Most of time, no such thing is said, but a feeling is created that the child's marriage is a transgression against the parents.
Weaning a baby is therefore very important and, as we said, it should be done gradually. The child needs to feel that his parents are happy with him and he was not born by some mistake.
Weaning in no way nullifies the love, which is essential at all ages.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #20

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

We end Baruch She-Amar with a blessing in which we describe Hashem has Ha-Kel, Av Ha-Rachaman- the powerful G-d, merciful father. This has 3 parts.
Hashem is the all powerful G-d. He can do everything and has power over everything and anything. He can make us cease to exist. He can make the world cease to exist. So you might think Hashem doesn't care about human beings. But He does. He is the Father and he is deeply involved with His world.
So you might think Hashem may care about the whole human race, but he doesn't care about us as individuals. But this also isn't so. He is the merciful Father. He cares about each and every human being. Once we now understand that Hashem is all at once all powerful, our Father, and merciful, we are ready to say Psukei De-Zimra - verses or praise to Him.

Service of the Heart

[Be-Ahavah U-BeEmunah – Vayeshev 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

The Talmud comments, "'And to serve him with all your heart' (Devarim 11:13): What is 'service of the heart'? It is prayer" (Taanit 2a). This means serving G-d with one's emotions. We serve G-d many ways. We serve him with our intellect - through Torah learning. We use our intellect to serve G-d, and we process our intellect according to G-d's word. We serve G-d with our deeds – the mitzvot. We serve G-d with our wealth, i.e. Tzedakah and integrity in business dealings. And, we serve G-d with the heart, with our emotions.
A man is not just his intellect. He is also emotion. Both have to be balanced. Otherwise, the person limps. Certainly, intellect is higher than emotion, but emotion is closer to man, to life.
We therefore need both, internal service and external service. (see Orot Ha-Kodesh 3:88). Action is external, the fear of G-d is internal. Wisdom is external. Will is internal. The intellect is external, while emotion is internal.
Torah learning is external, while prayer is internal, for even Torah learning can be external to man's personality. As our Sages said that the First Temple was destroyed because the Jews did not recite the required daily blessing before commencing Torah learning. As the Maharal explained, while they did study Torah, they forgot the Master of the Universe, the Giver of the Torah. One might think that Torah learning is an intellectual challenge, and that in Torah learning one does not stand before G-d. One therefore needs both external service and internal service, and then all is complete.
In prayer we stand before G-d. There can be two things missing in the synagogue: 1) If we view the prayers and the accompanying songs as a musical experience, then we are not serving G-d! 2) Another problem is when people chatter incessantly, having no control over their mouths during prayers. That is not what our Sages had in mind. Rather, they said, if someone talks between Yishtabach and Yotzer, he is committing a sin, and he must repeat his earlier prayers. (Hagahot Maimoniyot, Tefila 7:12, quoting the Jerusalem Talmud). Rather, one must prayer with concentration, i.e., thinking about the content of every word. Obviously, we are not on the level of that chazzan who recited "Akdamut Milin" on Shavuot with such great concentration that his soul flew out of him on High, or of Rabbi Nachum of Riminov, who would invest such a great effort in prayer that after the Shemoneh Esrei that he would faint.
Still, we must strive to concentrate on every word. And even that is not on the level of the Tosafot, quoting the Jerusalem Talmud, who said that we must be grateful to our head, which bows of its own accord when we reach "Modim". All the same, we make an effort. Just as we do not deign to boast that we know Torah, but instead say that we "try to learn". And – not to confuse the holy with the profane – Socrates said, "I am not a sophist, i.e., a wise man, but a philosopher, i.e., a lover of wisdom." Similarly, a rabbi is not called a Chacham - wise man, but a Talmid Chacham - the student of a wise man, a person who learns all his life. That is, likewise, how we must strive to pray.
Towards that end we prepare for prayer. The early pious ones would prepare for an hour (Berachot 30b). Some people, in preparation, would put on nice clothing (Shabbat 10a), and we prepare that way. "Be cautious when you go to the house of G-d" (Kohelet 4:17).
How fortunate we are to have merited a "miniature Temple" (Megilla 29a).
May it be G-d's will that we should merit the rebuilding of the Temple, speedily in our day. In the meantime, we serve G-d with our heart and emotions in that miniature Temple.

Parashat Vayeshev: The Clash Between Yosef and His Brothers

[Tal Chermon]

There was continual and mutual antagonism between Yosef and his brothers. Yosef brought "bad reports" about them (Bereshit 37:2). His dream revealed his criticism of his brothers. "We were binding sheaves in the field when my sheaf suddenly stood up and remained erect. Your sheaves formed a circle around my sheaf and bowed down to it" (ibid. v. 7). My sheaf stood upright ready for action while yours stooped sluggishly. H accused them of inaction and ignorance of the practical world. They also have complaints against him. Yehudah charged him: "You are just like Pharoah" (ibid. 44:8), i.e. "you are just another Pharoah and are only involved in the material side of life!" They suspected that his only concern was the physical arrangement of the world, which is the task of the non-Jews, not of the Jews; while he was neglecting our special Jewish mission of building the inner spirituality of the world.
The brothers sensed that Yosef was starting something new. He had the coat of many colors, showing that he incorporated all the different talents and he therefore outstripped them. This man slandered them to their father and was causing a rift in the Jewish Nation. He was dangerous and destructive to the unity of the "House of Israel." They remembered full well the refining process that the family had undergone in which Yishmael was rejected while Yitzchak remained and Esav was rejected while Yitzchak remained. They reflected: "Is this processing continuing? Will someone be weeded out now? Yosef called them and said: "Listen to the dream that I had (ibid. 37:6), I want you to know who I am." They knew exactly who he was but wanted to clarify the point. "Do you want to be our king? Do you intend to rule over us?" (ibid. v. 8). "Do you mean to consult with us or is your plan to dominate us as a dictator?" "If you intend to consult with us okay, but if you intend to lord over us – it's a no go!" The issue was through whom the Jewish People would continue. They were at loggerheads; it was either the brothers or Yosef. It could not be both.
Sibling rivalry and clashes did not commence with this dispute. It had been preceded by strife between Kayin and Hevel, Yitzchak and Yishmael and Esav and Yaakov. It is true that there are numerous explanations of these interpersonal clashes and of national conflicts. Some are based on economic considerations, others on class tensions, and still others on psycho-sexual problems, etc… Our Sages were fully aware of all these interpretations, and in fact the Midrash brings a dispute concerning the cause of Kayin and Hevel's quarrel. One view is that both of them claimed the right to have the second female twin that was born with Hevel (a psycho-sexual interpretation). Another view is that the dispute was over the division of the earth's resources between them (an economic interpretation - These views and others are brought in Bereshit Rabbah 22:7). However, the deep-rooted reason that caused the quarrel over these issues was their fundamental difference in nature, a clash at the deepest point of their inner essence. Their diverse qualities suited them for entirely different tasks in the world. The visible reasons for the quarrel were only superficial manifestations of a far deeper dispute. This is also true of the jealousy over the coat of many colors. The brothers were not kindergarten children who wanted a beautiful piece of colored silk. Yosef's talent made him competent to arrange and order the world but this clashed with the character of his brothers who were better suited to correct and improve the inner forces of the world. Yaakov, by giving Yosef the coat of many colors, had indicated that of all the brothers, Yosef had been chosen to lead the clan.

Shut SMS #91

Ha-Rav 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 one obligated to have a Siyum when completing a Massechet of the Gemara?
A: It is possible to do so on your own with a modest meal.

Q: Why don't prayers ever help - as in healing someone who is ill?
A: They always help, but not like the magic of idol worship.

Geniza or Recycling
Q: Is it permissible to place Divrei Torah without Hashem's Name in the recycling?
A: They are all considered commentaries on the Torah and it is forbidden to treat them disrespectfully. They must be placed in the Geniza (Mishnah Berurah 154:24).

Taxes on Pidyon Ha-Ben
Q: Does a Cohain have to pay taxes on the money he receives for performing a Pidyon Ha-Ben?
A: No. It is a gift and happens rarely (Similarly, Ha-Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky would pay taxes in America on the Mishloach Manot he received - Shut Revivot Efraim 6:389, but this was a pious act, since the amount was negligent).

Disk in a Geniza
Q: Does a disk with Divrei Torah require being placed in a Geniza?
A: No. This is not the type of writing the Torah prohibits destroying (Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 1:173).

Solar Eclipse
Q: Does one recite a blessing on a Solar Eclipse?
A: No.

Q: Is it forbidden to smoke?
A: Yes. In Israel, 10,000 die a year from smoking. And thousands are sick with cancer from it (Shut Aseh Lecha Rav, beginning of vol. 2).

Non-Jewish Date on Tombstone
Q: Is it permissible to put the non-Jewish date on a tombstone?
A: No. Gesher Ha-Chaim (vol. 2 #25).

Q: Is it true that if someone makes 3 Shidduchim (marital matches) he is ensured a place in Gan Eden?
A: Every mitzvah gives a person a certain place of Gan Eden, and all the more so a Shidduch which is a greater mitzvah.

Q: I am going out with a young woman and she eats Glatt Kosher and I eat regular Kosher. If we get married, how should we act?
A: Decide together.

"We will not forget"
Q: Is there a problem with the saying: "We will not forget and we will not forgive" (created after the expulsion from Gush Katif)?
A: No, but don't make it the essence.

The Temple
Q: Is there a Mitzvah nowadays to build the Temple or will it descend from the Heavens?
A: It is a Mitzvah to build it after appointing a King and eradicating Amalek (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 1:1-2).

Perfume in a store
Q: Is it permissible to try on perfume in a store when I do not plan to buy it?
A: It is forbidden. Not only is it deceptive but theft.

Second Hole
Q: Is it permissible for a woman to get a second ear piercing?
A: Yes. Obviously, the earring must be modest, not eye-fetching, and this is true even for one hole.

Gun for a Woman
Q: Is it permissible for a woman to carry a gun?
A: If it is necessary to protect herself, her students, or her family (Shut Yechaveh Daat 5:55 and Shut Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:75 #3).

Q: I give Tzedakah to an organization and I just read that the executive director earns a yearly salary of 375,000 shekels. This infuriates me. I have limited means and donate for the poor and not for him!
A: If this is true, it is truly a serious problem. To our distress, there are many such cases. One must check carefully.


A baby develops with a dependence towards his mother. At this age, it is positive. As one matures, it is negative. An adult should not be a burden on another. He must be independent. Even a marital relationship should be one of mutuality. Otherwise, it is unhealthy. But a baby's dependence is healthy. He feels like a part of his mother. In the womb, he literally was a part of her, but even after his birth, he is still dependent of her, and feels a part of his mother's existence. He overcomes nightmares, the dark and loneliness when he is held in his mother's arms. The pleasure is being in his mother's arms is indescribable.
The mother must also education herself that this dependence should also be pleasant for her and not a burden. The dependence is obviously a huge responsibility - the baby cries, is up all night, etc. – but often times she is the only one who can help, and this feeling should provide her with tremendous pleasure.

Giving a tenth during difficult financial times

Question: What should we do if I want to continue to give "Ma'aser Kesafim" (ten percent to tzedakah) as we have done in the past, but my husband is opposed on account of our difficult financial situation?
Answer: The question can be divided into two parts: 1. How does a couple make decisions? It is clear that a couple must make decisions together. This is not always simple since there are differences of opinion. It is natural that there are differences of opinion because people are different, faces are different, opinions are different, but you must reach a joint decision. Even when making a joint decision, one side does not have to change its opinion. Sometimes one side gives in and sometimes the other side gives in and sometimes there can be a compromise. It is not always possible to reach a compromise. For example, one person wants the children to learn at one school and the other wants them to learn at another school, it is not possible to learn in two different schools. It is possible to compromise on monetary issues. If someone wants to give 1000 shekels and another wants to give 200 shekels, there can be a compromise and give 600 shekels. You must therefore sit and discuss the issue until you reach a compromise. 2. Is someone who is having financial difficulties obligated to give "ma'aser kesafim"? See the book "Ahavat Chesed" of the Chafetz Chaim that giving ten percent for "ma'aser kesafim" is for people who have an average income, and someone who is wealthy should give more and someone who is poor should give less. Most halachic authorities point out that the Torah does not mentioning giving ten percent of one's income; it is only mentioned in connection to giving of one's produce. The practice of giving ten percent of one's income is a holy and supreme custom of Israel. When discussing tzedakah, the Torah says that one should give according to the need and one's ability. Regarding the need, there is obviously great need. The deciding factor is therefore one's ability. It is very difficult to determine one's ability. Our Sages thus fixed ten percent as the average ability. If one's financial situation is difficult, he should give less. In sum: you and your husband should sit together in love, fraternity, peace, and friendship, and decide your ability together, "without making a vow," since your financial situation may change.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #19

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

In Baruch She-Amar, we say Hashem has mercy on the earth and on His creatures. Hashem made the whole world with mercy and with love. He made it that there would be enough of everything for everyone. And so when we discuss His mercy for the world, it is about everything. But when we discuss his mercy for his creation, it is about every individual. Here again we see that Hashem cares for each and every one of us. He has mercy on the world and on every creation in it - especially for us.

Whose Country Is this, Your Eminence?

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayihslach 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

We heard some very interesting tidings from the Bishops’ Council for Middle East Affairs: Eretz Yisrael does not belong to the Jewish People. The necessary conclusion is that we are responsible for all the suffering of Christians and Moslems in our region, as well as of Jews. We are guilty for everything, and why is that, according to the Vatican? -- Because we conquered a land not ours. It’s all because of the Israeli conquest.
In their view, the solution is to establish two states, one for us and one for the Arabs. True, the Arabs already have twenty-two states, with a combined territory 500 times that of Israel, but they still want half our country. Yet even our receiving half the territory is not assured, because if this Land is not ours, but occupied, how can we sit on half of it, or a tenth of it? How can we build our existence on theft, suffering and injustice?
All the same, there’s a penetrating question that must be asked. Surely we are dealing with people who believe in the Bible, and the Bible states countless times that Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish People. If so, how can they declare that we can’t rely on the Bible to justify the Jews’ settling their Land?
The answer is very simple and was provided by them at that council: “There is no Promised Land to the Jewish People, since there is no longer any ‘Chosen People.’ All men and women in every country are the Chosen People. Hence, one cannot use the idea of a Promised Land to justify the Jews’ return to Eretz Yisrael.”
The cat is out of the bag. We are not the Chosen People. We are not the People of Israel. And who is? The whole human race. We have been familiar with this claim for a long time. It’s even mentioned in Rav Kook’s work “Orot”: “The call [of the Christians] to all the peoples, sunken in the mire of impurity, in the morass of wickedness and ignorance, in the most frightening depths of darkness: You are all holy. You are all G-d’s children. There is no difference between one people and another. There is no one people on earth, holy and chosen. Every man is equally holy” (page 33). This call has been known to us down through the generations.
The Catholics even claimed that they are Israel – not physically the Jewish People, but Israel in the spirit. Still, they claim to be “the true Israel” – in Latin, “Verus Israel.” This is the first, time, however, that the Catholics are proclaiming for all to hear that we have no right to Eretz Yisrael since we are not the Jewish People.
At the same time, the Pope worked behind the scenes, trying in every possible way to stymie the State of Israel’s establishment. Subsequent Popes have tried, every way they could, to support Arab terror groups who wanted to destroy our country. Above I said, “The cat is out of the bag”. We are no longer the Chosen People. Once we were, but we no longer are. Hence, it’s not our land. Obviously, according to the Bishops’ decision, Jerusalem is not our capital, but a city holy to three faiths. And that, itself, isn’t obvious. Why not make it an “international city”? After all, there is no Chosen People. Rather, all of mankind is a Chosen People.
Let me therefore announce in the name of the Jewish People and in the name of all of the honest part of the human race, and in the name of history, and in the name of G-d: We are the Jewish People, from time immemorial and forever, as long as there has been a heaven and
an earth, as long as the sun has shown upon this Land.

Shut SMS #90

Ha-Rav 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: After reading a "Kosher" article, is it permissible to look in the talkbacks?
A: No, there is a major concern for Lashon Ha-Ra, embarrassing others and nonsense.

Q: I was told that I am having a hard time getting pregnant because we have a parrot in the house.
A: Nonsense.

Changing a Child's Clothing and Sefarim
Q: Is it permissible to change a child's clothing in a room with holy books?
A: It is permissible up to age 9. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata, 5770 edition, chap. 24 note 116.

Affection between a Couple
Q: During the time when a wife is in Nidda, what is permissible for a husband and wife to say to one another? I love you?
A: Loving words are permissible, but nothing that will entice one's inclination (Eruvin 63b. It once happened that a newly-married young man came to our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, and told him that it was difficult for him, since only half of a month is "a time to hug," while half of a month is "a time to distance from hugging" (when a woman is a niddah - menstruating and counting the clean days before she is able to immerse in a mikvah - a husband and wife are not allowed to have any physical contact). Our Rabbi said to him: Look what is written [in the Sheva Berachot]: "Who created joy and happiness, a groom and a bride etc." - You see, marriage is not just hugging and kissing, but before all else a soulful connection of love, brotherhood, peace and friendship, which apply equally at all times).

Q: What benefit is there in repenting for a sin that I will fail in again?
A: It is true that this is not complete Teshuvah (Rambam, Teshuvah 2:1), but it is Teshuvah, and we continue to wage war.

Single Woman immersing in a Mikveh
Q: Is it permissible for a single woman to immerse in a mikveh?
A: Single women do not immerse.
Q: What if it is to lessen the prohibitions violated?
A: Then it is certainly a severe prohibition (Be'er Heitev, Orach Chaim 303:1. Yoreh Deah 183:6. See Shut Ha-Rivash #422).

Army for Women
Q: Is it permissible for a woman to go to an officers' course in the army in the educational department – and not in a combat unit?
A: The entire army is inappropriate for women. For education – National Service, on condition that it is in a "Kosher" place.

Retreats in Redemption
Q: Doesn't the destruction of Gush Katif show that this is not Redemption?
A: There will not be another exile, but there can be retreats and crises (Ramban on Shemit 5:22-23).

Maaser Kesafim
Q: My parents gave me a large sum of money for laser eye surgery for my wife. Do I have to separate Maaser Kesafim?
A: Yes, if it is in your financial ability (Ahavat Chesed of the Chafetz Chaim).

Honoring Parents
Q: My parents want me to break all relations with my sister following a disagreement between them. Should I listen?
A: If one's parents tell him to commit a transgression, one does not listen, including hating another person. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (143:11).

Painting Doorposts
Q: When one paints the doorposts, what does one do with the Mezuzah?
A: Cover the Mezuzah to protect it. If one removes for Mezuzah for a short period, he does not recite a blessing when it is put back (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:7).

Parashat Vayishlach: "And He Limped on His Hip" (Bereshit 32:31)

[Tal Chermon]

Yaakov's limping is an essential element of his makeup and we, the Jewish People, suffered similar woes throughout our history. The Nation of Israel has had to struggle with heavenly and human forces throughout the long dark night of human history. We cannot be vanquished, we are victorious, but we pay a price. His and our stalwart erect stance is undermined and stoops throughout history. But we have not sunk to the level of Esav around whose thigh a snake is wound (See Targum Onkelos on Bereshit 25:27). Yaakov's thigh remains pure but is weakened and limping throughout his, our, history we have been subjected to ghastly tortures in successful attempts to subdue us, "But the Holy One Blessed Be He delivered us from them." The Ramban (on Bereshit 32:26) described it as follows: "This even [the dislocation of his hip] is a hint to Yaakov's offspring that there will be a generation when Esav [Rome] will prevail over us and will almost obliterate us, G-d forbid. This occurred in the generation of Rabbi Yehudah ben Bava, who suffered martyrdom for continuing the Rabbinic chain by giving Rabbinic ordination to his students, despite the Roman prohibition, and his companions who were Rabbis of the Mishnah…'In this generation of religious persecution they would take iron balls, heat them until they were white hot and then place them under the arm-pits [of their torture victims] and thus burnt them to death.' And there are other generations in which they have done such things to us and even worse (a hint to the times of the Christian Inquisition)." Also in our final revival, the birth of our modern State of Israel which illuminates our horizons after 2,000 years of exile was proceeded by a horrific "limp" and satanic outrages unparalleled in history.

We, however, are not frightened by these blows because we are an indestructible Nation. This is intimated by the verse concerning the attacking angel which states: "And he [the angel] saw that he could not defeat him [Yaakov]" (ibid. 32:26). The eternal Jewish People can be injured and maimed, but we are invincible and even eventually return to our perfectly healthy state. As the abovementioned Ramban concludes: "However, we have endured and come through it as hinted in the verse: 'And Yaakov came in peace'" (ibid. 33:18).

Do not get angry

From the moment that a baby is born, we must express love to him, the same applies when he is older. We must show him great love, physical and non-physical, loving words and presents, all age appropriate. This is not always easy. For example, sometimes a baby cries, and all attempts to avert his attention or pacify him fail. In such a case, there is a concern that the parents will lose patience, yell and be angry with him, threaten and sometimes even hit him, even though by doing so, he will certainly continue to cry.
When a baby cries, one should never response with anger. Anger destroys him and breaks his character. It serves no educational benefit. If he cries, he should be calmed. In general, it is forbidden to punish a young child and forbidden to get angry with him.
This obviously does not mean that the baby should cause chaos in the house. He does not control the parents' life. The parents establish the norms, but without anger or an anger face. Even withheld anger damages. The child senses it even if the parent smiles. He feels that the parents relates to him as a burden, a nudnik, causes sleepless nights, takes away his rest, makes noise, crying endlessly, and is a yoke on his parents.
While this may be true to some extent, but if a parent expresses this through speech, facial expression or in his heart, it destroys the baby. He is certainly a burden, but a very pleasant burden. This is the general principle: The education of the parent precedes the education of the children.