Shut SMS #57

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 it permissible for cousins of the opposite gender to touch?
A: No, it is only permissible for parents/children and grandparents/children. And it is permissible for siblings if it is not for affectionate purposes.
Q: I took money from my brother without permission. How do I return it without shame?
A: Return it secretly.
Q: Does one have to wait 6 hours between meat and milk or is 5 hours enough?
A: 6 hours. Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 89:1. Unless one has a halachically based tradition to wait 5 hours.
Q: Is it permissible to daven Shacharit at the beach?
A: After the fact, since one needs to daven in a closed area.
Q: Is it permissible to reuse a stamp not crossed out by the post office?
A: No, there is a mitzvah to return a lost object.
Q: Is there a source to keep Eretz Yisrael beautiful?
A: Yes, the end of Ketubot.
Q: Is it permissible to take a towel from a hotel? They charge more money because they know people will take them.
A: It is certainly theft.
Q: What should one do with a ripped flag of Israel – Geniza or garbage?
A: Put it in the garbage. When it is ripped the honor is gone.
Q: Do I have to tell in a job interview that I am pregnant?
A: Depending on the law.
Q: Is it permissible to daven Shemoneh Esrei out loud if it adds to my kavana?
A: Yes, if you are davening alone (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 582:9. Mishnah Berurah #24).
Q: My father has a custom which is not found in Halachah books. Should I change it or continue since it is the custom of my ancestors?
A: Continue it after you inquire among Torah scholars if it is a proper custom.