Shut SMS #67

Ha-Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
A Lap of Luxury
Q: Is it permissible to buy a car for hundreds of thousands of shekels?
A: It is a waste. Give the money to Tzedakah. You life takes precedence over your fellow's life, but your luxuries do not take precedent over your fellow's life (Igrot at the end of Sefer Ha-Tanya. Aruch Ha-Shulchan Yoreh Deah 251. Sefer Ahavat Chesed of the Chafetz Chaim. Shut Orach Mishpat of Maran Ha-Rav Kook).

Modesty
Q: My Rebbetzin, who I greatly respect, wears provocative clothing. How should I relate to that?
A: This is truly difficult to understand. But a person is judged by the majority of his actions (Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:1).

Taxes
Q: If I receive a present from work, do I have to include it when figuring my taxes?
A: No, an insignificant amount is not required. Although Ha-Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky would pay taxes in America on the Mishloach Manot he received (Shut Revivot Efraim 6:389), it appears to be a strict interpretation.

The Grave of the Rashbi
Q: Is it preferable to visit Kever Rashbi on Lag Ba-Omer or learn Torah?
A: Learn Torah since it is a clear obligation.
Q: But the Arizal would visit Kever Rashi on this day?
A: We are not the Arizal (in the name of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski).

Herzl
Q: Where can I read the truth about Herzl without false defamations?
A: Herzl – A New Reading. Dr. Yitzchak Weiss.

Civil Marriage
Q: Is it permissible for me to marry a woman who does not want to marry through the Rabbinate?
A: It is forbidden (see Shut She'eilat Shlomo 2:305).

Dating and a Picture
Q: Is it permissible to show a picture of a young woman to a young man without her permission to see it they are interested in dating?
A: No. You need to ask her permission. The picture belongs to her. Furthermore, one should not close off opportunities since many times a picture is not flattering and reality is much better (Shut Mishneh Halachot 4:114. And unlike Shut Betzel Ha-Chochmah 4:85).

Medical Clowns
Q: Is medical clowning forbidden like other forms of frivolity or it is permissible?
A: Frivolity is forbidden. Avodah Zarah 18b. But jesting for a good reason is permissible, like mocking idol worship. Megillah 25b. And our Sages praise two men who would make the sad happy by joking around. Ta'anit 22b. Medical clowning is therefore permissible and a mitzvah. But only a man for a man and a woman for a woman.

Redemption
Q: Is it true that the Redemption has already begun?
A: It began 130 years ago with the First Aliyah in 5641 (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedilah pp. 374-378).

Piercing
Q: Why it is forbidden to get an earring in one's eyebrow?
A: It is forbidden because of "Chukot Ha-Goyim" – imitating non-Jewish practices (see She'eilat Shlomo 1:339 #2).