Shut SMS #68

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:
Comforting Mourners
Q: What should I say to a friend who lost his father?
A: First listen, then you will know what to talk about (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 376:1).

Sperm Donation to a Single Woman
Q: Is it permissible for a forty-year old, single woman, who has given up on getting married, to have artificial insemination from a sperm bank?
A: No. This is giving birth to an orphaned child. Turn to a good Shidduch agency and freeze eggs in the meantime (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 4:277).

Growing a Beard
Q: Why should one grow a beard?
A: 1. It is the glory of a Jew's face. 2. There are serious halachic problems with electric razors (see the book "Hadrat Panim Zaken").

Evil Inclination
Q: Why doesn't the Torah destroy the evil inclination? I have learned Mesillat Yesharim and the works of Rav Kook for years and fought against it and it is still just as strong.
A: Our job is to struggle against it all the time. Shemoneh Kevatzim 8:36.

Q: Is it worthwhile to use facebook?
A: One's gain is offset by his loss.

Suntanning on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to suntan on Shabbat?
A: It is permissible. This is not the type of "coloring" which the Torah forbids (Shut Az Nidabru 2:30. Not like the ruling in Shut Minchat Yitzchak 5:32 and Shut Chelkat Yaakov 4:17).

Interruption during the Shemoneh Esrei
Q: I discovered in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei that pages where missing from my Siddur and I do not know the davening by heart?
A: It is permissible to go get a different Siddur. This is not considered an interruption in this case (Piskei Teshuvot #104. Shut Be'er Moshe 3:13).

Conditional Marriages
Q: Is it worthwhile to establish conditional marriages which are annulled retroactively if one of the members of the couple wants to get divorced in order to solve the problem of those who refuse to give a "Get"?
A: Our Rabbis already dismissed this proposal since we will not nullify the holiness of Jewish marriages and turn them into a doubtful cases of prostitution on account of a few horrible instances (see Shut Igrot Moshe Even Ha-Ezer 4:106-107).

A Piercing in One's Bellybutton
Q: Is it permissible to have a piercing in one's bellybutton? It would obviously be covered?
A: It is forbidden. "Chukot Ha-Goyim" – imitating non-Jewish practices (see She'eilat Shlomo 1:339 #2).

Kashrut of Medicine
Q: What is the law regarding medicine without kosher certification? And what if it has a meat or dairy base?
A: Any medicine which lacks taste is kosher (Halichot Shlomo – Moadim vol. 2 4:6 and notes).