Shut SMS #73

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:
Greek Mythology
Q: Is there a problem in giving kids Greek Mythology to read?
A: Yes, it is full of nonsense and unethical behavior, with remnants of idol worship (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 4:167. See Chinuch Be-Ahavah vol. 1, pp. 320-341).

Artificial Insemination
Q: Is it permissible for a married woman to have Artificial Insemination?
A: If there is no other solution, it is permissible from a non-Jew (Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 1:10).

Lashon Ha-Ra
Q: I spoke Lashon Ha-Ra about someone but he does not know about it. Should I ask his forgiveness?
A: No. On the contrary, it will cause him pain. You should repent to Hashem. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter (see Chafetz Chaim, Hilchot Lashon Ha-Ra 4:12. Mishnah Berurah 606:3. Halichot Shlomo 1:3 #6).

Child Mourner
Q: I work with children affected by terror attacks. One youth, who was orphaned in a terrorist attack and is still in the period of mourning, has a cousin who is getting married. He wants to dance at the wedding. Is it permissible?
A: Yes, it is part of his rehabilitation.

Separate Money
Q: Can a married couple have different accounts and each equally pay for all expenses?
A: It is permissible. It is preferable to have everything joint, but it is permissible if there is a need.

Evil Eye
Q: I am succeeding in getting married, and I was told that I have the Evil Eye?
A: You don't have anything of the kind (Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 3:26. And see Gam Ani Odeca of Ha-Rav Gamliel Rabinovitch 2, 48 in the name of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski).

Drafted into a Combat Unit
Q: I want to be drafted into a combat unit, but I am afraid. What should I do?
A: It is a mitzvah to be drafted into a combat unit. There is nothing to fear. Serving in a combat unit is safer than traveling in a car – four times as many people are killed in car accidents than in combat units!

Honoring a Father who does not Recite a Blessing
Q: My father asked if I could bring him some food, but he does not wash "Netilat Yadayim" or recite a blessing?
A: It is forbidden on account of "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind," but it is a mitzvah to give food to the poor for Tzedakah (even if they do not recite a blessing), and all the more so to your father since you have a mitzvah to honor him (Mishnah Berurah 169:11).

Upside-Down Shoe
Q: Is there a problem with an upside-down shoe?
A: Superstition.

Female Musician
Q: Is it permissible for a female musician to play in a band before a mixed audience?
A: It is permissible on condition that the men do not stare at her.

Q: Is it permissible to try samples in the supermarket if I am certain that I will not buy them?
A: No, it is "Genivat Da'at – deceptive."

Commercial Advertisements in Parashah Sheets Distributed on the Shabbat

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Chukat 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: Is it permissible in a Parashah sheet distributed on the Shabbat for there to be commercial advertisements, calls for people to make donations to Tzedakah, with details about prizes and a standing-order form? Is one allowed to read all of these? Are not such topics “Muktza” [forbidden to dwell on during Shabbat]? Don’t such contents render the entire sheet forbidden to touch?
Answer: It is indeed forbidden to dwell on monetary affairs, commercial matters or business offers on Shabbat due to the prohibition against “pursuing your business or talking about it” (Yeshayahu 58:13. See Mishnah Berurah 307:7 and 323:20). For that reason, some authorities forbid reading the entire sheet, because of the law of “Muktza,” i.e., because of the commercial content there (Mishnah Berurah 307:3). Yet some have ruled that that commercial section of the leaflet does not make the entire leaflet forbidden, and they permitted reading it, except for the commercial section (ibid., quoting Shvut Ya’akov 3:23 and She’elat Ya’avetz 1:162 quoted in Sha’arei Teshuvah 306:3), and such is the prevalent custom. Therefore, the entire leaflet is not rendered Muktza. The same applies to standing order forms and ad details about requested donations. One is allowed to read them on the Shabbat. Yet suppose a page is entirely commercial, or devoted entirely to a standing order, might it be Muktza since reading it is forbidden? In this case, however, our Sages wrote that if there are other permissible uses for the page, it is not Muktza. They therefore ruled that an entirely commercial newspaper is not Muktza on condition that one not care about its worth and that he be willing to use it for all sorts of uses such as a stopper to keep dirt from getting into a bottle (Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 5:22 #3, Brit Olam by Ha-Rav Binyamin Zilber, “Dinei Metzo Cheftzecha,” Section 10). Likewise, nobody cares about the worth of a standing-order form, and it can be used for anything. It is therefore not considered Muktza.
Question: Yet it remains forbidden to read those commercial notices, details about lotteries, etc. Are the printer and distributor thereby guilty of causing the reading public to sin?
Answer: No! Even if we decide that it is forbidden to read them, the printer is not forcing anyone to read them precisely on Shabbat. Rather, he is preparing the material for weekday reading. Besides that, it is not clear that the reading itself is forbidden. After all, some of our Sages took the lenient approach that only reading aloud is forbidden as part of “pursuing your business or talking about it,” but reading silently is permissible (Netziv in Iturei Sofrim, Shalmei Yehudah quoting Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Az Nidbaru 9:7 and see Mishnah Berurah 307 in Sha’arei Tziyun #60). All this relates to commercial publications, but as far as reading about charitable contributions and their standing orders, there is an allowance to read these because they are part of a mitzvah. After all, doing calculations for the sake of a mitzvah is permissible on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 306:6). It is even permissible to earmark charity funds on Shabbat (ibid., Mishnah Berurah ibid. # 27). For example, one is allowed to use a donor card on which sums of money are printed, with the donor or synagogue official marking off the sum with a paper clip, since it that is part of a mitzvah (Mishnah Berurah 323:20).
In summary: The leaflet is not Muktza, and even a page entirely devoted to standing orders, donations or commercial matters is not Muktza. As far as the actual reading, regarding commercial matters one should take the strict approach and not read it. As far as donations, one may read it, since it is part of performing a mitzvah. Obviously, none of this makes it permissible to read these leaflets during davening. Rather, they should be taken home. Even words of Torah should not be read during davening. Each mitzvah in its own time.

Machon Meir Stickers on the Sabbath
Question: Together with the parashah sheet "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" distributed by Machon Meir each Shabbat, there is sometimes a sticker added with the words of our Sages or other ethical sayings, such as “Repentance through Love.” Aren't these Muktza since they are earmarked for sticking on surfaces, a forbidden activity on the Sabbath? Likewise, sometimes an envelope with Machon Meir’s address is included, earmarked for sending a donation. Is that not Muktza, since that too is a forbidden act on the Sabbath?
Answer: A regular sticker is indeed Muktza, being “Muktza Machmat Gufo” [Muktza due to its own essence]. In other words, like rocks, it is not usable for anything else on Shabbat. After all, it is forbidden to attach an adhesive. In our case, however, the sticker is usable for something else, for written on it are ethical and Torah utterances that arouse good thoughts. It therefore possesses an intrinsic value apart from the act of sticking it.
As for the envelope, it is “Muktza Machmat Chisaron Kis” [Muktza due to potential monetary loss]. In other words, due to its value, a person will be careful not to use it for anything else. Yet our Sages wrote that even writing paper is not Muktza unless it is blank, for in that case people are careful not to use it for something else. If, however, that blank paper is simple paper, usable for all sorts of other things, it is not Muktza (Pri Megadim). The same applies to the envelope, where it depends on whether or not people are careful not to use it for something else. In our case, however, involving an envelope with the institution’s address, people generally throw such things away, and they certainly would not avoid using it for other things.
In summary: Neither the stickers nor the envelopes are Muktza.


Question: I understand that marriage is about compromise, out of agreement and love. But I sometimes have to compromise on ideals which are important to me. Is marriage preferable to ideals?
Answer: It obviously depends which ideals we are discussing. You obviously cannot murder on account of your wife's love. But in principle, there are situations in which marriage overrides other important things. This is true not only for marriage, but in many areas of life where there is a conflict of values, and one must choose between them.
The Gemara is full of such ethical dilemmas, which are often quite complex, and it teaches us how to make such decisions.
Marriage is one of the most essential aspects of life and we make many compromises for its sake. For example, we sell a Sefer Torah in order to ensure the marriage of an orphan. And it is permissible to temporarily leave Eretz Yisrael in order to find a spouse.
Marriage is a blessing which provides a person with so much joy, purity, ethics, children, etc., and for its sake it is certainly worthwhile to make many compromises!

Leaving Eretz Yisrael #4

In the summer of 5674, Maran Ha-Rav Kook was invited to the Agudat Yisrael conference in Germany, and he was in great doubt whether he should attend. He wrote in his letters how difficult it was for him to agree to leave Eretz Yisrael, even temporarily. At the same time, there was great potential to influence the Rabbis of the Agudah to support the revival of the Nation of Israel in its Land (Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah, igeret #678).
Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, believed that it was important to attend (Tzemach Tzvi #23) and even sent background information (Igeret #684), but it was still difficult for Maran Ha-Rav to come to a clear decision (Igeret #687, #691). In the end, he decided to attend, but with much inner turmoil (Igeret #694).
Our Rabbi explained that Maran Ha-Rav did not agree to leave Eretz Yisrael, even temporarily, as per the request of the administration of Agudat Yisrael to participate in the Kenesiyah Gedolah in Frankfurt am Main and in the Council of Torah Sages, until added to this were doctors' orders that he required a medical procedure outside of Israel (Le-Shelosha Be-Elul, p. 25). Maran Ha-Rav's wife also traveled with him to visit well-known doctors for her own health-related issues (Igeret #695). They arrived at the end of Tamuz 5674, and World War One broke out on Tisha Be-Av. The conference was canceled, and they were unable to return to Israel for four years. But that is a different story…

Davening before the Shechinah

Question: In Sefer Rav Chaim Soloveichik ztz"l on the Rambam, he explained the Rambam in Hilchot Tefillah, that there are two required elements to Tefillah:
a) That one must have Kavanah and understanding of the words one is saying.
b) That one must have Kavanah in his heart that he is standing before the Master of the Universe. Reb Chaim explained this according to the Rambam: without the Kavanah of "standing before G-d," one is not considered to have davened.
How can one acquire the ability to fully feel in his heart that he is standing before the Shechinah? What can one do to grow in this "second" essential element of Tefillah?
Answer: There is no patent on how this is accomplished. It must be worked on slowly and in stages. In areas such as these, each person must grow according to his own level. Look in the Mishnah Berurah (98:1) that the Rash said that after he learned the secrets of Kabbalah he davened like a one day old baby. One grows little-by-little.

All the Hechsherim are Kosher

Question: Numerous times you have written that all of the Hechsherim [Koshert certifications] are kosher. I think you are naive and unaware of what is really going on. If you knew how many foul-ups occur in this regard in food production, and even more so in restaurants, you would not express yourself this way.
Answer: With bakeries and restaurants, each place must be examined on its own merits. I was talking about factories in which there is a set production process. In all modesty, I am well aware of the reality, and I still say that if a Torah scholar took responsibility and wrote "kosher," then the product is indeed kosher, and let no one dare say that Rabbis are feeding the Jewish People non-kosher food.
Question: When a consumer sees a Hechsher on a package, how can he know whether the person giving the Hechsher is really a Torah scholar? Perhaps he is just a layman masquerading as a Rabbi?
Answer: If the consumer does not know that Rabbi, he should check it out. If the Rabbi is the Rabbi of a city, or part of a recognized Kashrut organization or a city rabbinate, then he is certainly a genuine Torah scholar.
Question: I have encountered instances in which a product has a Hechsher but it turns out that the factory is forging it. Is the product still kosher?
Answer: Obviously, if a counterfeiter forges a Rabbi's signature, this lacks the force of a Hechsher. Yet this has nothing to do with the question of whether all Hechshers are kosher. Even if they forge the signature of the strictest Rabbi in the world, the product will not be kosher.
Question: A Rabbi was giving a Hechsher to a large and prominent food production plant and it turned out that he had no idea what was going on there. In another plant a lot of bugs were found in the product.
There was a case in which a Rabbi did not check whether a particular fruit was "orla" [from a tree in its first four years (Vaykira 19:23-25)]. In a certain factory in which all the non-Jewish workers worked on Shabbat, the Mashgiach [kashrut supervisor] could not check out the ingredients being delivered on Shabbat. There are known cases of Rabbis who gave Hechsherim until the Chief Rabbinate discovered oversights and appointed other Mashgichim over the original ones.
Answer: I didn't say that mistakes never happen. My point is only that throughout the Torah we rely on the principles of "Rov" [the majority factor] and "Chazakah" [the presumption that a previous state continues]. Every person known to be a Torah scholar is presumed reputable until proven otherwise. If a rumor circulates that there is an oversight, that rumor must be investigated. If one has dealings with a Rabbi and he behaves questionably, the situation changes. Surely a Rabbi who gives a Hechsher without checking out what is happening forfeits his Chazakah unless he duly repents.
Question: In one factory, when the Rabbi arrives they prepare him a large package of products from that factory, and then everything goes smoothly. It is likewise known that there are rabbis who have appointed as kashrut supervisors their relatives and friends, people who lack any of the appropriate training for the job, and these people work unsupervised. There was even a case of a nonobservant person being appointed.
Answer: I do not understand these questions. Sometimes it is discovered that a particular Rabbi is unethical, that he is a thief, a cheat or an adulterer. Do all rabbis forfeit their Chazakah as a result? The concept of presumed good repute does not mean one hundred percent certainty like in mathematics. It only means that the Torah decreed that we can rely on certain presumptions, and even that we can put someone to death on the basis of a Chazakah. Likewise, a Torah scholar has a Chazakah so long as there is no proof otherwise.
Certainly, if someone writes "kosher" on a non-kosher product, he is unworthy of the title "Rabbi," but as long as no such thing has been proven, the food is presumed kosher.
Question: There are even great and reputable Torah scholars who have been deceived by factory owners or who sometimes err in their rulings. In such cases, is the Hechsher still kosher?
Answer: Even a real Torah scholar sometimes errs. Why did you not ask me about the case at the beginning of Tractate Horiyot, where the Sanhedrin ruled that a certain food was kosher and everybody ate from it, and it ultimately turned out that it had been a mistake? In that case, the Rabbis had to bring a sacrifice. Why did you not ask if that food was kosher? When all is said and done, the Shulchan Aruch rules that we can eat in the home of any Jew who has a Chazakah of observance.
Question: Is it that in order to strengthen the Chief Rabbinate of Israel it is permissible to eat food that is not so kosher?
Answer: It isn't like that. To address your point, there is certainly a mitzvah to strengthen "the judge who will be in that time" (Devarim 17:9). That verse, however, is teaching that any Rabbi, and not just one connected to the Chief Rabbinate, is presumed reputable.
Question: Sometimes the Rabbi who gives the Hechsher himself says that he is dissatisfied with the situation but that he cannot improve it due to lack of manpower.
Answer: Quite the contrary, since he is aware of the problematic situation yet still puts his stamp on the food it is a sign that it is kosher.
Question: If someone wishes to be more strict regarding kashrut, why stop him?
Answer: G-d forbid! In every realm, the person who takes the stricter approach reaps a blessing. Obviously, this is so not just in the realm of kashrut, but also regarding Shabbat, prayer, Tzitzit, business ethics, interpersonal relations, treating one's wife with respect, educating one's children, etc.
Yet there is a precondition to every stricture, namely that it not involve one's denigrating others. Could there be any worse denigration than that of a person spreading libels about Rabbis, saying that they are making people eat non-kosher food? Such a thing would take unparalleled gall. Certainly we must be scrupulous regarding kashrut. Certainly the consumer must exert pressure. After all, most of the factories agree to kashrut supervision only for commercial reasons. Hence the more the public's demands increase, the more the Hechsherim will improve. Yet, all this must be done with real respect shown for Rabbis. Those Rabbis in fact will be the first to rejoice over each additional stricture.

Shut SMS #72

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Q: Why did Hashem, who is completely good, allow the Holocaust?
A: This is not a question for a text message. Call or look in my book: Orot Me-Ofel.

Annulling Marriages
Q: Is it possible to retroactively annul a marriage in order to solve the problem of Agunot (women whose husbands refuse to grant a religious divorce and they are therefore unable to remarry)?
A: No. Halachic authorities already rejected this idea (Shut Melamed Le-Ho'il 3:51. Shut Tzitz Eliezer 1:2 #2).

A Man Wearing a Wedding Ring
Q: It is forbidden for a man to wear a wedding ring?
A: There is no prohibition. Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 4:32 #2.

Christian Date
Q: Is it permissible to use the Christian date?
A: One should definitely not use it. Derashot Chatam Sofer vol. 1, p. 93. Shut Maharam Shik, Yoreh Deah #171.

A: Is it permissible to play cards?
A: It is certainly not recommended. Sidur Yavetz, sha'ar #6 chalon #7.

Davening without a Kippah
Q: I accidently davened without a Kippah. Do I have to daven again?
A: You fulfilled your obligation after the fact. Shut Yabai Omer, Orach Chaim 15 #6.

Speaking Hebrew
Q: Is it permissible to use English and Yiddish words while speaking?
A: One should speak pure Hebrew. Sifre – Devarim 46.

Jewish DNA
Q: Is it possible to prove someone's Jewishness by their DNA?
A: No. Although there is above-average closeness of genetic material among Jews, it is merely statistical. And after all, people converted to Judaism from among 200 different races.

Kallah Classes
Q: How much should one pay a woman who teaches a bride the laws of Family Purity?
A: 1000 shekels.

Q: Is it permissible to play the lottery?
A: No, our Sages looked negatively upon one who gambles (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:201).

Q: Why are non-Jewish houses of worship so much more beautiful and glorious than shuls?
A: The essence is the service of Hashem and not the human experience.

Talking with My Wife
Q: My wife needs me to talk to her every evening. What about learning Torah?
A: This is a mitzvah, and we learn Torah in order to fulfill it (The blessing Ahavah Rabbah before the Shema).

Parashat Balak: Bilam’s Wickedness

[Tal Chermon]

The closer we come to Eretz Israel, the more fear we generate all around: “And Moav was extremely fearful of the Nation for it was very great” (Bemidbar 22:3)…. Furthermore, it is clear that we did not overcome our enemies through superior physical strength. This is as true for Sichon and Og as it was for the Egyptians. Balak, King of Moav, realized that he needed spiritual, not physical power, to stand up to the Nation of Israel. He turned to Bilam, one of the greatest and most wicked spiritual powers in the world (see Devarim 34:10, Sifrei ibid and Maran Ha-Rav Kook, Igrot Reiya 2, 34). Bilam was a philosopher of great stature who chose to use his spiritual powers for evil and not for good.
As Bilam was on his way to curse the nation, we were witness to a strange showdown with his donkey. What role did this incident play within the larger context? Did it have anything to do with the conflict between the Nation of Israel, Bilam and Moav? Indeed, this confrontation clarified our conflict with Bilam. Rashi pointed out that Bilam’s failure to defeat his donkey presaged his future failure in the conflict with Israel. When he told his donkey, “If only I had a sword in my hand now, I would kill you,” (Bemidbar 22: 29), “This showed him in a very bad light before the princes of Moav. Here he was on his way to kill a whole nation by cursing them, but he needed a weapon to punish his donkey” (Rashi ibid.). The question therefore asks itself: “Why was Bilam powerless against his donkey, and what is the moral of this story?”The story begins with three “sins” of the donkey: It turned off the road, then pressed Bilam’s foot to the wall on the narrow path through the vineyard and finally it simply sat down and refused to continue on. Each time, Bilam beat the donkey. It finally opened its mouth and asked: “What have I done to you to make you strike me these three times?” (Bemidbar 22:28). This is a rhetorical question which is actually a moral accusation directed at Bilam. In effect it asked if he thought that it is all right to oppress animals, and need not account for such action. (Rabbi Yehuda HeChassid, in Sefer HaChassidim, 44, stated that on the Day of Judgment, men will be called to account for pain caused to their horses by sharp-nailed shoes.) How did Bilam react to this accusation? He lost all control and was ready to kill! “For you have mocked me. If only I had a sword in my hand now, I would kill you!” Before, when the donkey pressed against his foot, he merely struck it, and now he was ready to kill. Why? Physical pain is not nearly as provocative being rebuked by a donkey. That was more than he could take. The donkey, however, continues explaining: “For I am your donkey, which you have always ridden, until this very day. Have I ever done such a thing to you before?” (ibid. v. 30). This is the first time I have behaved this way. Why were you so fast to strike me? You should have tried to understand what was happening if my behavior changed so drastically. Secondly, why did you pay so much attention to this one negative action and not look at the whole picture? You are the type of person who is attracted to the bad things in the world. You have an “evil eye.” You may be a great philosopher, but as soon as you become personally involved in something, you lose all ability for objective ethical judgment….Bilam had no answer. He had to admit that he was wrong. He had been bested by the ethical superiority of his donkey. And this received Divine affirmation: “And G-d opened Bilam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of G-d standing on the road with his sword drawn in his hand” (ibid. v. 31). Until then, only the donkey had been capable of seeing the angel of G-d; now Bilam saw him too. “Angels” are Divine laws given a physical representation. There are Divine laws which function within the natural, physical world, Divine powers which appear in man’s soul, and even spiritual Divine powers. The donkey “saw” the “angel” of simple morality. The fact that the donkey spoke up was a miracle, but not the fact that it saw the angel (see Avot 5:5). It had an instinctive understanding of the basic moral principles which had escaped Bilam, wise as he was. Only after he admitted being morally inferior to his donkey was he privileged to also “see the angel” and realize that his eagerness to accept Balak’s invitation was morally reprehensible. “And Bilam said to the angel of G-d, ‘I have sinned’” (ibid. v. 34).
Scientific experiments have shown that animals do have instincts of right and wrong. In one such experiment, every time one monkey took a piece of food, the other monkey was given an electric shock which caused it to cry out in pain. When the first monkey realized the causal effect here, it fasted for long periods of time! Not only that, but when the roles of the two monkeys were switched, the second monkey fasted for even longer periods of time, as it itself had previously experienced the punishment caused by the other monkey.
We know that animals are loyal and devoted to their owners (see Netzach Yisrael, chap. 2). The prophet Yeshayahu (1:3) tells us that “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib.” The ox is very loyal, but it needs to be comfortable. The donkey, however, may be a bit rebellious, but it works very hard under the most difficult conditions. The Hebrew word for "donkey – chamor" - is very similar to the Hebrew terminology for "material – chomer." The Messiah is described as “poor and riding on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). The Zohar explains that a donkey is “bad on the outside and good on the inside” (Tikkunei Zohar 60), very “material” but loving and loyal (Igrot Reiya #555). The Messiah “takes a ride” on a generation comparable to a donkey (a generation steeped in materialism).
Bilam, great as his spiritual powers were, lacked this simple morality. His failure to win the argument with the donkey showed that spiritual power alone was insufficient. He lacked even the basic primitive sense of right and wrong which animals possess. If his spiritual powers failed in the face of the moral superiority of his donkey, they would certainly not suffice to contend with the tremendous moral superiority of the Nation of Israel. Thus his failure in the conflict with the donkey is an indication of his future failure in the conflict with Israel.

Leaving Eretz Yisrael #3

Rav Asi had an elderly mother. She said to him: I want jewelry. Rav Asi got them for her. She said: I want a man to marry. He said: I will look. His mother: I want you to find a man as beautiful as yourself for me to marry! He then understood that she was not able to think clearly and he was unable to honor her properly. He decided to leave her and find others to take care of her. Rav Asi made Aliyah. He heard that she was coming after him. He asked Rabbi Yochanan: Am I permitted to leave Eretz Yisrael to greet her and come back with her? Rabbi Yochanan responded: I don't know. Rav Asi waited a while and then came to ask again. Rabbi Yochanan said: "Asi, I see that you want to go. Hashem should return you safely." Rav Asi went to Rabbi Elazar and asked: Perhaps, G-d forbid, Rabbi Yochanan is angry at me? He said: What did he actually say to you? He responded: "Hashem should return you safely." Rabbi Elazar: If he was angry with you, he would not have blessed you. Rav Asi left Eretz Yisrael, but before he reached her, he was informed that she had died and she was being brought to Eretz Yisrael for burial. He said: Had I known, I would not have left Eretz Yisrael (Kiddushin 31b, Meharsha ibid., Rambam Hilchot Mamrim 6:10 and see Yam Shel Shlomo on Kiddushin ibid. and Shut Noda Bi-Yehuda Tanina Even Ha-Ezer #45).


Question: Very often we encounter beggars on the street, especially at the Western Wall Plaza. Are we obligated to give something to everyone who puts out his hand? How much must give? It has happened to me that I gave a pauper a small sum and he scornfully returned it to me. How is it possible to know whether someone is really poor or simply a liar? Is it permissible to refuse to give a donation?
Answer: Generally speaking, we do not give Tzedakah without a serious investigation. There is only one exception, and that is if someone approaches asking for food because he is hungry. There, we must give him something immediately. The Shulchan Aruch says as follows: "If a poor person whom we do not know says, 'I am hungry. Feed me,' we do not investigate the possibility that he is a liar. Rather, we contribute immediately. If someone lacked clothing and said, 'I lack clothing. Give me money to buy some,' we investigate to see whether he is a liar" (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 151:10).
Indeed, if someone refuses to give Tzedakah when he has money in hand, he is considered cruel, and he violates a mitzvah of the Torah. Yet as with all mitzvot, the mitzvah of Tzedakah has restrictions as well. The restriction on Tzedakah is that we do not give it to everyone who asks for it, but only to those who it has become clear really need it, as in Rambam's words, "According to our information, they are in financial straits" (Sefer Ha-Mitzvot, Lo Ta'aseh 232). If someone gives without investigating, and the collector turns out to be a cheater, then he has not fulfilled the mitzvah of Tzedakah. Rather, he has squandered his money and caused loss to genuine poor people.
Wicked men tried to kill Yirmiyahu. He then cursed them saying, "Master of the Universe! Even when those people perform charitable acts, make them stumble by having them perform their acts for disreputable people, so that they should not reap merit for it" (Baba Kamma 16b). Even the wicked are sometimes aroused to perform good deeds, yet if they give their money to charlatans, they will not fulfill any mitzvah thereby.
It is true that regarding all the mitzvot of the Torah, a person is presumed reputable, truthful, honest and good, until proven otherwise. This principle has several exceptions, however, for example, the beggar mentioned above, and that is because of the large number of cheaters. The same applies in our own time. The great halachic authorities of our generation have ruled that all beggars are to be presumed swindlers until proven otherwise. There are some very wealthy beggars, for example, in Jerusalem. A beggar who walks from the Central Bus Station to the Kotel can collect 500 to 800 shekel per day.
Obviously, the investigative process to find out whether the beggar is a swindler or not cannot be carried out by just anyone, but only by a Bet Din, a Rabbinic court (see Otzar Mefarshei Ha-Talmud, Baba Metzia, 27b). The Bet Din then awards the beggar a certificate which the legal authorities have labeled a Ketav Kibbutz [writ of collection] (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 253:12 in the Rama).
Yet we must be cautious to ensure that the beggar's "Ketav Kibbutz" is not forged. There was a swindler who forged the certificate of a great Rabbi, yet got confused between the Rabbi and the Rabbi's father-in-law, also a great Rabbi, who had passed away several decades previous. Another swindler collected money for a deathly ill person, using a genuine certificate, but pocketed the money for himself. Nonetheless, Divine Providence brought him to the home of the ill person himself, who had already been healthy for quite a while. All of the preceding relates to a person who is suffering financial distress and approaches members of a charitable institution in hopes of their solving his problem. They therefore share a sizable portion of the responsibility for saving him from his troubles.
Regarding the beggar who approaches everyone, one after another, the law is different, however. The halachic authorities call that person a "door-to-door beggar," and the Shulchan Aruch rules: "We are not obligated to give a large sum to the beggar who goes door to door. Rather, we may give him a small sum" (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 250:3). That beggar is approaching many people, and from all of them together he will attain what he needs.
How much is "a small sum"? Rambam writes: "If a beggar goes door to door, we are not obligated to give him a large sum, but only a small one. Still, the Rabbis forbade us to turn him away empty-handed. It is enough, however, to give him a single dried fig, as it says, 'Let not the oppressed return ashamed' (Tehillim 74:21)" (Matanot Aniyim 7:4). It is therefore enough to give him a fig or its monetary equivalent, in other words, twenty Israeli agorot (at present, about five American cents). In that way, the beggar will be able to collect 100 shekels per day. If he is insulted and refuses to accept a small gift, it is a sign that he is not really poor. Rabbi Chaim David HaLevi wrote: "If a pauper begs door to door, it is enough to give him a small gift. At the same time, if is forbidden to turn him away empty-handed... In our day, however, there are poor people who are not satisfied with a little bit, and they demand set amounts, emphasizing that they must be given nothing less. These people bear letters from Rabbis or physicians assisting them in their cause. The number of people behaving licentiously in this regard has become great, and I am not certain that it is possible to rely on a recommendation. In any event, since these people are classed among those who stretch out their hands, there is no obligation to give them more than a small gift, as is defined by Halachah. A real poor person such as in called an "Evyon" in the Torah (Devarim 15:4) does not pamper himself. He accepts whatever he is given, even a dried fig, as in Rambam's definition. If someone refuses small gifts, we bear no responsibility for him" (Aseh Lecha Rav 9:34-35).
Therefore, whoever wishes to fulfill the mitzvah of Tzedakah properly should give to known and recognized organizations of Tzedakah and kindness.

Shut SMS #71

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:
To whom should I Donate
Q: Should I give tzedakah to someone who is in a difficult financial situation because he does not have health insurance and he needs an operation or someone who is having an expensive wedding?
A: Both are considered tzedakah, but it is preferable to give to people who are poor not of their own fault.

Q: I see more and more men and women – single or married – who talk and laugh with one another, and even G-d-fearing individuals stumbling in this…
A: You should give them the benefit of the doubt that they do not know how horrible this is, and that they have not merited learning Gemara, Rambam, Shulchan Aruch or Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:8.

Asking for a Raise
Q: I feel that my salary is less than I deserve, is it permissible for me to ask for a raise or is it a lack of faith?
A: It is not a lack of faith. It is very good. A person should ask for what he justifiably deserves. See Baba Kamma (92b) regarding Avigail's request from King David.

Honoring Parents
Q: My father asked me to do something and my mother asked me not to do it. What should I do?
A: Humbly ask them to work it out between them and not to rip you in pieces (see Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240:14 with commentators).

Honoring One's Father-in-Law
Q: Is it permissible to call my father-in-law by his first name?
A: Yes, if he wants you to do so (Sedei Chemed, Ma'arechet Chatan Ve-Kallah).

Covering One's Hair
Q: Why do married women cover their hair for modesty reasons but single women do not?
A: It is an intimate beauty saved for her husband.

Studying Secular Subjects on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to study secular subjects on Shabbat?
A: Some authorities are strict, but the basic Halachah is that it is permissible. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 307:17.

Q: Is it permissible to place the Bima in a shul a little bit forward?
A: It must be in the middle. Shut Chatam Sofer 6:86.

Q: Is it permissible to hunt animals?
A: For making a livelihood, it is permissible. If it is for pleasure, it is cruel. Shut Noda Bi-Yehuda (Mehadura Tanina Yoreh Deah #10).

Aliyah from Yemen and Maran Ha-Rav Kook
Q: I heard that a secular Jew named Yavnieli disguised himself as a religious Jew and deceived the Jews of Yemen to make Aliyah, and that Rav Kook was a partner in this act and supported him by giving him a letter with Halachic questions for the Rabbis of Yemen.
A: It is a lie. Yavnieli disguised himself not in order to deceive the Jews of Yemen but in order to deceive the Turks who forbade Aliyah. The Sefardic Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav Uziel, wrote that he was an upright person. Rav Kook believed that Aliyah from Yemen would bring blessing, since they were G-d-fearing people who worked hard to make a livelihood and also learned Torah and performed mitzvot, and it would be a good antidote for the secularists. Rav Kook wrote a letter with questions, not to deceive the Rabbis, but to know how to rule in Halachic matters relating to their community (Ohev Yisrael Bi-Kedusha of Rav Be'eri pp. 169-179).

Money of a Wanted Man
Q: If a soldier stops a wanted man and takes his money, is it considered theft?
A: It is certainly theft. It is also a most severe military transgression.

Charedei or Religious-Zionist
Q: Should I associate with Charedei or Religious-Zionists?
A: Charedim have distinction in the realm of fear of Hashem. Religious-Zionists have the distinction in relating to the revival of our Nation in its Land. We are neither of these two types but students of Moshe Rabbenu. The Torah states that we must excel in both fear of Hashem and in supporting the revival of our Nation. You should therefore connect to people who have both distinctions.

Theft in Shopping
Q: Is it permissible to buy in a store which does not give a receipt?
A: Certainly not. It is theft (Shut She'eilat 2:375).

Cheating on a Test
Q: I cheated on a test and received a high grade. My parents want to buy me an expensive gift because of my grade. I regret it, but don't want to tell them because they will be angry at me. What should I do?
A: Learn the material really well.

Gender of Fetus
Q: Is there a problem to tell others the gender of the fetus? The evil eye?
A: There is no problem. It is a personal decision.

Parashat Chukat: The Sin of Mei Merivah

Our Parashah begins with the Mitzvah of the Parah Adumah, one of the "Chukim" - unfathomable Mitzvot of the Torah. It goes on to relate how Moshe Rabbenu struck the rock to bring forth water for the thirsty congregation at Mei Merivah. This sin is also a mystery.
"Because you did not believe in Me, to sanctify Me before the Nation of Israel - therefore you [Moshe and Aharon] shall not lead this congregation into the Land which I have given to them" (Bemidbar 20:12). What was the sin of Mei Merivah for which Moshe and Aharon were punished so severely? The command which Hashem gave was clear, there is a clear description of what Moshe Rabbenu and Aharon did and said, and their punishment is also stated explicitly. What is not clear is what their sin was. There are almost as many explanations as there are commentaries on the Torah.
Rashi's commentary follows the opinion found in the Zohar (Bereshit 20) and the Midrash (Yalkut Reuveni 70). He explained that "Hashem did not command them to strike the rock, but rather to speak to it. Had they spoken to the rock and produced water, it would have been a tremendous sanctification of the Divine Name. If a deaf and dumb rock does G-d's bidding when spoken to, although it is not dependent upon G-d's mercy for its daily needs as we are, how much more must human beings fulfill the Divine commands" (Bemidbar 20:8-12 with Rashi). The Ramban disagreed with this explanation since Moshe Rabbenu was commanded to take his staff (ibid. v. 8), and the implication is that he was to use it. Furthermore, he asks why it is less miraculous to draw water from a rock by knocking it with a staff than by speaking to it? Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook sharpened the question by noting that hitting an inanimate object seems more "natural" and appropriate than talking to it. As the Nation of Israel comes closer to Eretz Israel, they gradually assume a more natural, less overtly miraculous way of life. The clouds disappear upon Aharon's death, the well no longer follows them when Miriam dies. Later, when they actually enter Eretz Israel, the Manna no longer falls. It would therefore seem more appropriate for Moshe Rabbenu to strike the rock at this point (see Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, Chukat 1). Why do these commentaries stress the difference between speaking to a rock and striking it?
Man is defined as a "speaking animal." His ability to perceive abstract ideas and moral imperatives and to express them in words is what sets him above the rest of the animal world. On the verse, "And man became a living soul" (Bereshit 2:7), the Targum Onkelos translates "a speaking soul," and Rashi explained that it means the ability to think and to speak. Through Man's verbal ability, he communicates with and influences society and is able to translate thought into action. This requires proper usage of the power of speech. There are times to be silent and times to speak. Our Sages ask, "What is man's special skill in this world?" They answer, "To act as if he were mute" (Chulin 89a).
Does this mean he shouldn't discuss Torah and Mitzvot either? No, the Torah teaches: “You shall speak righteously" (ibid.). It takes great skill sometimes to differentiate between speech that is beneficial and a Mitzvah, and that which is damaging and prohibited. Since speech expresses man's very being, it is essential that the Nation be led by persuasion and not by coercion. The Aramaic word for "leader" is "Dabar" - speaker.
When Hashem wished to appoint Moshe Rabbenu to lead the Nation of Israel out of Egypt, he protested: "I am heavy of mouth and of tongue" (Shemot 4:6). He felt himself unable to communicate with the people. Hashem then pronounced "Aharon, your brother, shall speak" in your place (ibid. v. 14-16). Eventually, though, Moshe Rabbenu acquired the power of leadership through speech. The phrase "And Moshe spoke" appears innumerable times in the Torah, and the whole book of Devarim is one long speech given by Moshe Rabbenu before his death (see beginning of Midrash Devarim Rabbah). Important as speech may be in leading the Nation, there is obviously also a need for means of coercion. We don't depend on the power to persuasion to convince a thief to compensate for his theft, we grab him by the neck and bring him to judgment. There is a need for courts and police. However, these are secondary, the primary force must be verbal. Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah explained that Moshe Rabbenu had such a great overpowering personality that when he became personally involved, even to the slightest extent, in the incident at Mei Merivah, he expressed himself in a silent strike. But the Nation of Israel at this point, preparing to settle Eretz Israel, was in need of a leader who would not overpower them. Thus, his punishment was appropriate: "Moshe would die and Yehoshua would bring them into Eretz Israel" (Sanhedrin 17a). Moshe is compared to the sun (Baba Batra 75a). Sunshine may sometimes be overpowering. Its light is so strong that the stars cannot be discerned during the day, even though they are always present. The light of the sun, of Moshe Rabbenu, overpowered and concealed other lights. Yehoshua however "is like the light of the moon" (Baba Batra ibid.). The light of the moon allows other lights to be seen too. When we entered Eretz Israel, there was no room for coercion. The Nation must be led by words and not by force. Moshe Rabbenu was therefore punished by not being allowed to continue to lead the people by force into the Promised Land. He would die and a different type of leadership would take over. The Rambam's commentary is in a similar vein. He explained Moshe Rabbenu's sin as one of anger (Shemoneh Perakim, chapters 4 and 7) because he called the Nation "rebellious," although their demand for water was not considered a sin. Although the Torah does not state that they were punished for speaking angrily, the Maharal explained that angry speech is a sign of a lack of faith. Anger is an expression of an attempt to force things to be what you want, while soft speech implies the belief that others can be influenced by reason. The power of speech is man's greatest strength, and we must believe in its power to change even inanimate objects, not only people's hearts (see Sefer Ha-Ikarim 4:22). As Yeshayahu said, [Hashem] fulfills His servant's word" (44:26). For example, Yehoshua prayed, "Sun - stand still in Giveon and moon in the valley of Ayalon" (Yehoshua 10:12), Moshe Rabbenu commanded the earth to swallow up Korach (Bemidbar 16:30) and Eliyahu Ha-Navi imposed a drought upon all of Eretz Israel (Melachim 1 17:1). The sin of Mei Merivah and Moshe Rabbenu's punishment teach us, once and for all, that force is not the way to educate.

An Oath to Finish a Gemara

Question: Someone made a Neder (oath) to learn a Massechet to be completed on the day of someone's Yahrtzeit. As the day approaches, he will only be able to complete the Gemara if he learns it quickly with a simple understanding of the words. Is it preferable to free him from the Neder or for him to learn it in the quick fashion?
Answer: He should finish the Massechet with the basic understanding since it is a great merit for the deceased, and then relearn that part in depth.

Leaving Eretz Yisrael #2

It once happened that a Jew who lived in Eretz Yisrael had a brother in Bei Chuzah in Babylonia and the brother died. He therefore had an obligation of "Yibum" (If a man dies childless, his wife is expected to marry the brother of her deceased husband). He asked Rabbi Chanina: Is it permissible to temporarily leave Eretz Yisrael to fulfill the Mitzvah of "Yibum" and return to Eretz Yisrael with her? His Rabbi responded harshly and referred to widow as a non-Jew because she lived outside of Israel: "Your brother married a non-Jew and died. Blessed is He who killed him! And you are going to follow in his footsteps!? (Ketubot 111a, Tosafot on Avodah Zarah 13a and Shut Pri Ha-Aretz vol. 3 Yoreh Deah #7).

How Much Does a Spouse Cost?

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Shelach 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

How much does a spouse cost? A lot! And rightly so, for that is the most important thing in life. When people are married, and married happily, they solve all their problems together, but if they are single, or having a rocky marriage, everything limps along. For something worth a lot, you’ve got to pay a lot. Thus, you’ve got to pay a lot of money to the matchmaker, whether this is his profession, a secondary occupation or a one-time act. A couple is worth all the wealth in the world. So, please pay several hundred shekels in advance for the time investment, and if the match works out, each side should pay 5,000 NIS, for a total of 10,000. That’s very little compared to the cost of the wedding, especially if it is an expensive wedding.
And why SHOULDN’T you pay the matchmaker? After all, if you hire a surgeon privately, you pay him an enormous sum, and that is just for his treating the human body; all the more so here, where it is for the soul. We pay lawyers thousands and tens of thousands, and that is just to safeguard money; all the more so here where one’s very life is at issue. It’s not enough to cry over there being 600,000 unmarried males and females amongst our people, and to exclaim, “What will be with them?”
Rather, we have to make an effort to solve the problem. After all, we don’t rely on miracles, and we don’t wait for a match to fall out of the sky. You also can’t rely on those good souls who devotedly volunteer to make matches, because they have other commitments. They don’t have oodles of time at their disposal. A matchmaker must make calls, match up candidates, persuade, follow up, remove all obstacles, and patch up all the quarrels. And all that requires a great investment in time.
One therefore has to be serious and pay out a serious sum of money. Not in advance, as noted above. Rather, with G-d’s help, after the match works out well. After all, there are other mitzvot as well for which money is collected, and the Halachah delineates set sums for each type. You’re not paying for the mitzvah itself, but for the person’s time. People in this category include physicians, mohels, Torah scribes, cantors, people who give Torah lectures, Rabbis, and soldiers as well.
Just relying on volunteers is not a serious approach. If someone strives and exerts himself for something so important, he should be paid. And even if it happened without any effort, he should be paid 10,000 shekels. That’s a paltry sum compared to what a wedding cost. After all, it is thanks to the matchmaker that everything turned out well, and the couple is together, in love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. That is certainly more important than a band or a photographer or another plate at the meal. And even after the wedding, the matchmakers and pre-marital counselors very often accompany the couple.
It is hard to understand why people expect others to make an effort for them for free. As noted, one should not pay in advance, because there have been numerous instances of terrible fraud. One should pay only several hundred shekels for the ongoing expenses. A real estate agent likewise takes a lot of money, and here we are talking about more than a home. We’re talking about the CONTENT of the home, the SOUL of the home. The Rabbis said: One’s wife is one’s home. So, pay the matchmaker, pay the counselors, and you’ll be privileged to build faithful homes in Israel.

Shut SMS #70

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:
Standing for one's Rabbi
Q: Do I have to stand when I speak to my Rabbi on the phone?
A: One is not obligated to do so, but it is proper (Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach would stand when he spoke on the phone with Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein – Chicho Mamtakim vol. 2 p. 34. And we also heard that Ha-Rav Shimon Schwab – after he was more-or-less confined to a wheelchair because of his knees – would stand when he spoke on the phone with Ha-Rav Shach, and Ha-Rav Ahaon Kotler would stand when speaking on the phone with the Skverer Rebbe).

Pre-Historic Man
Q: How should we relate to the discoveries of pre-historic man which precede the date we give to Adam?
A: Adam Ha-Rishon is the first person created with the image of G-d. Shemoneh Kevatzim of Maran Ha-Rav Kook 1, 594.

Health Insurance
Q: Isn't having health insurance a lack of trust in Hashem?
A: No. Trust in Hashem is to trust Hashem in something He promised. Hashem never promised that you would not get sick. The book "Ha-Maspik Le-Ovdei Hashem of Rabbenu Avraham ben Ha-Rambam. Sha'ar Ha-Bitachon (Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 2:111. Shut Yechaveh Da'at 3:85).

Netilat Yadayim
Q: If I am only able to wash one hand for Netilat Yadayim because of a medical problem with my hand, do I recite a blessing?
A: Yes, and wrap the ill hand. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 162:10. And recite the blessing in the plural "Al Netilat Yadayim (hands)" as usual. Kaf Ha-Chaim 4:2.

Hiding a Fact
Q: Is it permissible to say that we do not know the gender of the fetus so that people do not bug us about us?
A: Yes, just as it is permissible to conceal that a woman is pregnant (Yevamot 65b).

Calling-Off an Engagement
Q: I called off my engagement because I discovered serious issues which my fiance hid from me. He has not forgiven me. I was told that if he does not forgive me, it will cause me NOT get engaged again.
A: 1. This will not block a future match. 2. He needs to ask your forgiveness for deceiving you. 3. You acted strictly by asking his forgiveness. May Hashem bless you.

Moshe Rabbenu
Q: How did Moshe Rabbenu manage to learn Torah when he went to live in Pharoah's house as a baby?
A: He went when we are 12 years old. Shemot Rabbah 5:2.

Clinking Glasses
Q: Should one clink glasses together when saying "Le-Chaim"?
A: It is "Chukot Ha-Goyim" – imitating non-Jewish practices (Shut Mesaver Tov 2:79).

Q: Is it permissible to read talkbacks on the internet?
A: It is best not to have the internet at all. If one nonetheless does have the internet, he should greatly distance himself from talkbacks since they are full of Lashon Ha-Ra, insults, lies, etc.

Torah or Eretz Yisrael
Q: Which is preferable – Torah or Eretz Yisrael?
A: There are circumstances in which Hashem decides to send us into Exile in order for us to strengthen ourselves in Torah.

Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu ztz"l: The Torah Scholar and Gadol

Israel is not bereft of Torah scholars – each one illuminating the Nation in his own area. They are all beloved, they are all flawless, but rare are the ones who are Gedolim, who raised themselves in their strength above their particular area and possess a comprehensive knowledge. This is how our Rabbi, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu ztz"l, was: Connected to the entire Torah, to all types of holy work and to the entire Nation. A blessing rested on everything his hands touched.

There is a Gaon in Torah, enclosed in the four amot of Halachah. And there is a Gaon in kindness, with the Torah of kindness on his tongue, to spread to all. But our Rabbi Mordechai possessed a double spirit – the Living Torah and the love of kindness. From his youth, he was a great "Shakdan" (diligent in learning), and learning never departed from him. Even when suffering from difficult poverty and physical pains, he cleaved to Torah with great dedication.

Our Rabbi did not merit the Torah out of nowhere, but through incredible effort in this holy endeavor, which made him a supreme Torah Scholar, Posek, Dayan on the Beit Ha-Din Ha-Gadol and the Chief Rabbi of Israel. In his youth, our Rabbi already fulfilled "If you have learned much Torah, do not take credit for yourself," rather he tirelessly traveled to any place where people would listen – and, in fact, they wanted to listen, everyone wanted to listen.

It is amazing how people in our Nation who are so different from one another would come to ask him questions and learn Torah from his mouth: Charedim, Religious-Zionists and the secular, Torah scholars and working people, adults and children, lovers of the Land of Israel and residents of outside of Israel, those who learn the hidden Torah and those who learn the revealed Torah, Rabbis of the Edah Ha-Charedit and Zionist Rabbis, military men and settlers, doctors and activists for the release of Jonathan Pollard.

In his great wisdom and amazing broad knowledge, in both the heavenly and earthly matters, our Rabbi was able to give each person his spiritual sustenance. Everyone benefited from his light, and everyone loved to hear him, because he loved everyone. Our Rabbi Ha-Gaon ztz"l was not boxed into a particular political party or a certain group, rather he worked with everyone. He saw the good in each person, and strengthened the good in each person.

He was not involved in negativity. He rejoiced over every good thing. He rejoiced over every learning of Torah, and over every fulfillment of a mitzvah, of any kind. He was happy to help, he did not push away or excommunicate, rather he supported any stream and path which contained the light of Torah in it, just as the heart is responsible for the blood flowing to each of the limbs.

This is the nature of a truly great man, who is a Gadol in everything and follows in the ways of the Master of the Universe, who loves everything and gives of his good to everyone. Our Rabbi received every person with a cheerful countenance, with a personal connection, with true love and ready to give advice in any matter. Everyone who came to him felt as if he was with his father – as is the law regarding a true Torah scholar that everyone is a relative – and each person would benefit from his Torah.

This Gadol travelled throughout the entire country in order to strengthen anything which needed to be strengthened, to strengthen the Torah, to strengthen the warriors of this Land, to strengthen for war – the war over Torah and the war over the Land. And it was all done with immense joy. The same joy of our Rabbi for learning Torah spread to anything good.

It is difficult to understand, difficult to grasp, how he had time for everything, rather he followed in the path of the Master of the Universe, for there is still space for more and more in a full vessel. This Gadol, who was needed by so many, left us to lament, and we will try and exert ourselves to follow in his illuminated and joyous path – full of Torah.

Parashat Korach: An Argument for the Sake of Heaven?

A commentary on the Rambam, called “Yad Ketanah”, suggests a novel thought: Arguments for the sake of heaven are forbidden! (Hilchot De'ot 10). This is puzzling. After all, Pirkei Avot refers to the controversy between Hillel and Shammai as a controversy for the sake of heaven, singling it out for praise, and contrasting it with that of Korach and his assembly, which was not for the sake of heaven! The Yad Ketanah explained that everyone always claims that their controversy is for the sake of heaven! Have you ever seen a disputant say: “I've got to admit: This controversy is not for the sake of heaven”? People always deceive themselves, and not just others, claiming that their controversy is for the sake of heaven. They are not conscious of their being motivated by self-interest.
After all, we've got to wonder how Korach, who was an exceedingly wise individual, as well as saintly and blessed with Divine intuition, immersed himself in such an ugly controversy with two holy individuals, Moshe and Aharon. Surely he was not the sort who pursues honor for himself.
The Yad HaKetanah explained that Korach deceived himself, speaking about the glory of G-d and the glory of Israel, and he claimed: “All the people in the community are holy, and G-d is with them. Why are you setting yourselves above G-d's congregation?” (Bemidbar 16:3). Truthfully, however, a minuscule element of passion was present in Korach. It was so minute and concealed that he was not conscious of it, and this led him to become confused and to call evil good.
Moshe knew full-well what the problem was, and he answered Korach: “Listen to what I have to say: You sons of Levi, isn't it enough that the G-d of Israel has separated you from the community of Israel? He has brought you close to Him…. Although He gave this privilege to you and all your fellow Levites, you are now also demanding the priesthood!?” (ibid. v 8-10).
Why does Moshe use such an argument to reject Korach's claim about the Divine holiness that envelops the entire Nation of Israel? Rather, Moshe was saying: If you are truly concerned about the specialness of Israel in the aggregate, and the idea that one should not set himself above them, then why didn't you say so when you were chosen with your tribe? Rather, you have to understand that you have personal motives veiled in a lofty ideology.
Yet by then Korach's conscience had already been dulled and he didn't listen, and that is how he sank into perdition. We thus learn that when someone gets enthusiastically involved in a controversy, so to speak “for the sake of heaven,” he must examine himself many times over, wondering whether or not extraneous considerations are involved.
As a humorous aside, there was once a Knesset member who would stop at nothing to hold on to his seat, yet he claimed that he was acting for the sake of heaven. People answered him, “Of course you are! Surely Yeshayahu said (66:1): 'Heaven is My seat'”…
If so, the question remains: How did our Sages say of Hillel and Shammai that their controversy was for the sake of heaven? The Yad Ketanah answered very simply: They were intimate friends, and we can therefore be certain that neither was interested in claiming victory over the other. They only wished to clarify the truth. Similarly, Rabbi Yonatan Eibschutz in his book “Ye'arot Devash” explained that the gauge of a controversy being for the sake of heaven is whether or not the parties are friends.
In summary, differences of opinions are permissible but divided hearts are forbidden. Every one of us must flee a thousand miles from what seems like controversy, and must run like a gazelle towards friendship and camaraderie.

My Wife or My Mother

Question: I have a problem: I am torn between my mother and my wife. There is tension between them and I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. My mother is the one who raised me, but my wife is part of me. What should I do?
Answer: This question is not phrased correctly. Your wife is not part of you, rather the both of you are one person, as the Torah says that you are "One flesh" (Bereshit 2:24) and obviously one soul and one spirit. The correct phrasing is therefore: You and your wife have a problem. You are one person, and the both of you are obligated to honor your parents. The husband is obligated from the Torah to honor them, and the wife is obligated by the Rabbis, but it does not matter, you are both obligated and it is not always easy. As you said, your mother raised you, but you are an independent person. This does not mean that you should be ungrateful for all she has done, but you were first a part of your parents and you are now a part of a new being which is made up of you and your wife. "A man therefore leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (ibid.). The correct phrasing is therefore: My wife and I have a problem with my mother. And what is the solution? Knock your heads together. Together. When one phrases the problem correctly, this is already half the solution. Solve the problem together.

Leading Davening or Bircat Cohanim

Question: If an Ashkenazic Cohain, who lives outside of Israel, has Yahrtzeit on Yom Tov, and he davens in a community that does not permit the Shaliach Tzibur to duchen, is it better that he does not act as a Shaliach Tzibur for Mussaf and Duchens so he does not miss the opportunity of fulfilling a Torah obligation of Bircat Cohanim? I am also able to lead the Davening during other times on Yom Tov.
Answer: It is preferred to Duchen since there is no obligation to be the Shaliach Tzibur at every Davening.

Leaving Eretz Yisrael #1

It once happened that a student of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai traveled outside of Israel and returned wealthy. The other students saw him and were jealous, and they also wanted to travel outside of Israel. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai brought them to a valley near Mt. Meiron in Northern Israel and prayed: Valley, valley, fill yourself with gold coins. He said to them: If you want gold, take this gold, but know: Anyone who takes now also takes his share in the World to Come, since there is no reward for learning Torah in this world, but only in the World to Come (Shemot Rabbah 52 and Yalkut Shimoni Mishlei 31).

Strengthening the Religious-Zionist Community

Question: How can we internally strengthen the Religious-Zionist community and increase its influence? Not through specific programs but by an overall philosophy.
Answer: When we speak about a movement, i.e. a powerful historical process, it is impossible to employ artificial ideas and use foreign concepts; rather we must identify the fundamentals of the movement which nurture and increase its strength. This movement was born a little over one hundred years ago and its purpose was to insert a spiritual soul into a powerful movement which then appeared and was growing: The national revival of the Nation in its Land. The Religious-Zionist movement therefore nurtures its strength from these two entities: the body and soul. Its beginning was quite modest but it grew stronger, both internally and in its influence.
Regarding its quantity, it has reached ten percent of the Nation which dwells in Zion, and regarding its quality, it contains a much high percentage of those active in the government, army, economy, science than other sectors of society, and today there are more Bnei Torah, Torah scholars, yeshivot, women's high schools and seminaries than ever before.
Its influence on the Nation is incredible, and much greater than the ten percent it represents. One must obviously point out that the Religious-Zionist community has many shades and includes different streams: yeshivish, university types, those who are punctilious about the mitzvot, liberals, right-wingers, left wingers, etc. The common denominator between all of them is the belief in the revival of the Nation in its Land according to the Torah.
Besides the fact that this community is becoming stronger both quantitatively and qualitatively, it also has a major impact on the other two communities between which it mediates: the Non-Zionist Charedim and the Secular-Zionists. This influence is not a direct one but a natural one of absorption. The Secular-Zionists are coming closer to Torah, and are much closer than they were before the establishment of the State – and this is based on their encounter with the Religious-Zionist community, in which it sees many sterling qualities in the area of education, family life and in our relationship to the State and the army. Similarly, the Charedi community is coming closer to the State and the entire enterprise of the national revival, in that it unwittingly absorbs Torat Eretz Yisrael from the Religious-Zionists.
There is obviously much more work to be done, and there are certainly many deficiencies in our community, but this is not on account of a faulty foundation, but because we are since at the beginning of our path. It is the correct path and we must continue on it. The strengthening of the physical national revival is a natural process which feeds itself, and does not require addition action.
Regarding the spiritual national revival, we must exert much more effort, i.e. to increase Torah learning in our community. The more we learn Torah, the greater blessing will come to us and others.
This conclusion is not surprising. We know that the Torah is the Divine cure for all maladies, both communally and individually, as the Maharal wrote at the beginning of his work Netivot Olam, Netiv Ha-Torah, that the Torah provides the order of the world. The Netziv of Volozhin similarly wrote in his teshuvah "Yamin U-Semol" (Right and Left) regarding the different streams among the Nation of Israel, in which the solution is not separate communities but increasing Torah among the Nation, producing Torah scholars and Torah learning among the masses (Shut Meishiv Dvar 1:44). Maran Ha-Rav Kook similarly wrote that the various spiritual ailments are a result of an intrusion upon the pure Israeli nature which retains its purity by learning Torah, whether Torah learning in order to produce Torah scholars or Torah learning for the masses (Orot Ha-Teshuvah).
The main remedy is therefore to increase Torah among the Religious-Zionist community, from top-to-bottom, in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and in yeshivot for both men and women.
And we must also strengthen what must precede Torah, i.e. proper character traits of integrity, honesty, helping other, care in guarding one's tongue as the central focus. Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, did not want to force the yeshiva's schedule on the students, except for demanding that every day between 12:45-1:15 the students learn the book "Chafetz Chaim."
The general principle is that we must increase proper character traits and Torah learning among the community in general and for one who display self-sacrifice for it in particular.

Shut SMS #69

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 Convert and Honoring Parents
Q: Does a convert need to honor his biological parents?
A: Yes, just as a non-Jew would honor his parents (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 241:9. See Shut Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:130 and Shut Yechaveh Da'at 6:60).

Q: Is it permissible to ride a motorcycle? I am very careful!
A: No, being careful is not enough. There are other drivers who are not careful, and a motorcycle is exposed. This is an extremely dangerous vehicle (see Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:473).

Damage during Game
Q: A friend poured water on me. I poured water on him and his cell phone was damaged. Do I have to pay?
A: No. He accepted on himself the general rules of the game that you would pour water on him (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 2:390-391).

Q: When I visit the Kotel, there are so many people asking for money, should I give money to the beggars?
A: If you are certain that they are not swindlers. Most Beggars are Swindlers (Estimation of Rabbis. See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 241:10).

Q: Is it permissible for a girl to wear a short shirt and pants when she is home with just her brothers?
A: One always needs to be modest even when alone and in the dark (see Gan Na'ul).

Book of Tehillim
Q: I soaked a Book of Tehillim belonging to a hospital with my tears. Do I have to pay?
A: No, this is its use (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 340:1).

Guidance for Groom
Q: I learned the laws of Family Purity in preparation for my wedding with a guide. Should I pay him?
A: Certainly. This is the most important preparation for the wedding. You should therefore pay 1000 Shekels. And the same applies for the woman who taught your bride.

Paystub on Wife's Name
Q: Is it permissible to have a husband's paystub under his wife's name, since it is better tax-wise for them?
A: 1. It is forbidden according to the law. 2. It is dangerous, since if something happened to him, it is possible to demand millions from her.

Messiah and Shabbat Clothing
Q: I wait to see the Messiah every day. Should I carry my Shabbat clothes with me everywhere I go?
A: No, since the Messiah will do many things when he arrives that require weekday clothes. See Rambam, Melachim 11:1.

Q: Is it true that Herzl had a plan for all of Israel to convert to Christianity?
A: A delusional idea when he was young that the weak convert to Christianity. It was not a plan which was ever suggested but something he wrote for himself in his diary, when he was a "Tinok She-nisha" (literally Jewish children captured and raise among non-Jews but meaning a Jew who did not receive a proper Jewish upbringing and education). He later worked to establish a State of the Jews and a Jewish State (Herzl: A New Reading from Dr. Weiss).

Mistaken Grade
Q: I received a grade higher than I deserved on a test because the teacher miscounted. Do I have to tell him?
A: Yes, so you do not violate "genivat da'at" (deception).

Parashat Shelach: The Sin which Haunts Us

[Tal Chermon, Parashat Shelach Lecha]

On the way to Eretz Yisrael through the vast threatening desert, the Nation of Israel continued to undergo crisis after crisis. These crises taught them the values of the Torah and what it means to belong to the Nation of Israel. The greatest crisis was that of the Spies. Their failure revealed Israel's rejection of the Promised Land. The severity of the sin may be deduced from the severity of the punishment: "Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness" (Bemidbar. 14:29). All adults who accepted the evil report of the spies were to die in the desert.
But that was not the end. This sin has haunted us throughout the centuries. The maxim, "The deeds of the fathers are a precedent for the sons" (see commentary of Ramban to Bereshit 12:6) holds in both positive and negative cases. It is not merely a case of formal precedent-setting; the deeds of the fathers set a precedent for us because we are their continuation, cut from the same cloth. We have inherited their character traits, and our deeds therefore reflect and repeat theirs, both positively and negatively. The sin of the spies revealed a certain spiritual flaw, a lack of faith and of love for the Land, of indifference, emotional distance, and even rejection. This flaw has passed from one generation to the next, infecting the sons and their sons after them.
Historically, the phenomenon of rejection of Eretz Yisrael repeated itself during the Second Temple Period, when only a small fraction of the Nation chose to return to Eretz Yisrael. In general, it was the poor and underprivileged who followed Ezra. The scholars, the wealthy, and the Levi'im chose to remain in Babylonia, a prosperous, flourishing, Jewish community (See Ezra 2 with Rashi. See Ketubot 25, Kiddushin 69a with Rashi). According to the Kuzari (2:24): "Only a few of them responded to Ezra's call, most, including the important people, remained in Babylonia."
A similar phenomenon occurred in the past century when many great rabbis and leaders ignored the national revival and preferred to remain in the Exile. Sadly, just as the spiritual flaw and the sin repeat themselves in history, so too does the punishment. The weeping which occurred that night, the eve of Tisha B'Av, has become "a weeping for all generations." (Ta'anit 29a).
Both the First and the Second Temples were destroyed on Tisha B'av. The exile from Spain and World War I, among others, began on Tisha B'Av. Only partial punishment was meted out to the Generation of the Wilderness. We have been receiving the remainder bit by bit ever since.
Who were the men who spoke evil of Eretz Yisrael? "And Moshe sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the word of G-d, all of them important personages, the leaders of the Children of Israel" (Bemidbar 13:3). "They were important men, and the righteous ones at that time" (Rashi ibid.). There was no sudden change in their personalities, the weakness which had existed in potential simply now found its expression: "And they went ... and they came" (ibid. 13:26). "Just as they returned with bad intent, so too did they start out with bad intent" (Sotah 35a). Were they wicked or were they righteous?
The answer is that there are different kinds of righteousness. There are people who are personally Torah observant, but when it comes to national concerns, their behavior leaves much to be desired. In contrast, there are those who are devoted with all their hearts to their Land and Nation, but are not personally devout. King Shaul, for example, was more righteous in his personal life than King David (Yoma 22b and Moed Katan 22b), but he failed as a King when it came to leading the Nation in the war against Amalek.
This also explains the conclusion of the Chesed L'Avraham (Ma'ayan 3, Nahar 12) that anyone who lives in Eretz Yisrael may be considered righteous, otherwise the Land would expel him.
Superficially, this is hard to comprehend. However, if this refers NOT to the righteousness of his private life - how observant he is of the 613 Mitzvot - but rather to how devoted he is to his Land and Nation, then it is quite reasonable. Both types of righteousness are needed, and the Redemption will come when each type perfects himself by becoming wholly righteous (Orot of Maran Ha-Rav Kook, p.84).
The Spies, like many other righteous men, did not behave in such an admirable fashion in their public lives.... The Zohar tells us about the special evil impulse reserved for the very (personally) righteous: "The Serpent nests in the highest mountain tops - i.e. the sages and the righteous" (Tikunei Zohar, end of Tikkun 13 and commentaries). This evil impulse feeds on spiritual motivation. Defense of Torah observance and the need to combat evil practices among those who build the Land become excuses for not supporting our national redemption. This is the evil impulse disguised as Torah observance. "And the great leaders of Israel will have to stand trial in the Heavenly Court for this matter. G-d will hold them responsible for humiliating His House" (Or Ha-Chaim Ha-Kadosh, Vayikra 25:25).
How could such great men commit such a sin? What were the spiritual and psychological elements which led them to do it?
An important factor in any sin is personal interest. When a man imagines that he will suffer some personal setback, it is difficult for him to remain objective. As Mesilat Yesharim teaches in chapter 11: "The heart may be deceived, and if we investigate, we discover that it had some slight unworthy desire .... for man is by nature weak and it is easy to deceive him into permitting things in which he has a personal interest." According to our sages, the Spies had reason to believe that once they entered the Promised Land, they would no longer be the leaders of the Nation, as they had been in Egypt and in the desert.
There is another explanation, that it was not personal wealth or honor which the spies sought, but rather spiritual wealth. They did not share the vision of "Malchut Israel" [the Kingdom of Israel], as the only way to bring about the greatest sanctification of G-d's Name and the means by which G-d's rule in this world evidences itself, as we pray every day in "Aleinu". According to the Kuzari (2, 24), the Holy One rebukes the righteous of each generation, saying: "You righteous! Although the words of my Torah are dear to you, it is unseemly that you yearned for My Torah and not for My Kingship."
The Spies panicked at the idea of the Nation of Israel settling the Land. They worried that preoccupation with politics, military and economic affairs would estrange them from the Torah. It was the "Eidah," the Sanhedrin, who were responsible for the spiritual welfare of the Nation, who wanted to stone Moshe Rabeinu. They claimed Eretz Yisrael was "a Land that devours its inhabitants," that the temptations there would spoil their character (Chidushei Ha-Rim). This same claim reappears at the beginning of the Second Temple Period, when many of the great leaders of the Nation refused to leave Babylonia and go to Eretz Yisrael, because Jewish life in Babylonia was much more established and secure (see Kuzari 2:22-24). This is a negative phenomenon, even if motivated by spiritual considerations, as our Sages taught: "One should always try to live in Eretz Yisrael, even in a city where the majority are idol-worshippers, rather than live outside of Israel, even in a city where the majority are Jews (Ketubot 110b).
There is no doubt that it is difficult to sustain a spiritual existence while concurrently leading a public life, however, it is not impossible (see Rav Kook's introduction to Shabbat Ha-Aretz). Although the spies, "the heretic Tzadikim" (see Sotah 48b), warned: "We cannot go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are stronger than us" (Bemidbar. 13:31), Calev and Yehoshua were adamant that "We shall surely go up and possess it, for we are certainly able to" - Even if Eretz Yisrael were in the sky, and G-d had commanded us to build ladders and climb up, we would be able to do it! (ibid. v. 30, and Rashi's commentary there). Eretz Yisrael is the ladder by which we reach heaven. It is precisely the "earthly" preoccupation with settling the Land which raises us to the highest spiritual heights, by virtue of the sanctity of the Promised Land.

The Israeli Navy Operation against the Flotilla

[Talk in the Yeshiva during lunch]

We are fortunate to have merited being a free Nation in our Land. We are fortunate to have an army that does not allow our enemies to abuse us. The period has ended when we were a sheep among seventy wolves and we needed to be saved by a miracle. Now, with the kindness of Hashem on us, we protect ourselves. We are the ones in control here, even over the Gaza Strip. We give them autonomy because we want to do so. And we decide who is allowed to enter. When we do not want someone to enter, he cannot. It was justifiable that we did not allow the people on the flotilla to enter, since if they really wanted to bring supplies to the Arabs in Gaza, they could have given it to us and we would have passed it to them. In any event, the claim that they do not have food is a lie. Tons of supplies are passed along to them every day. I believe that the two largest areas of Israeli exports are Europe and Gaza, since Gaza only receives supplies from us. The fact that there are starving and miserable people in the Gaza Strip is that the rich take all of the supplies and do not leave anything for the poor.
Perhaps you will say, what do we care if they come with supplies? Let them bring it. No, this is the honor of the Nation. King David sent soldiers to console Chanun, King of Amon, over the death of his father and they were attacked. They shaved off half of the soldiers' beards and tore off half of their clothes, and King David went to wage over it (Shmuel 2 10). This is a reason to go to war? Yes, mostly definitely. One goes to war for the Nation's honor and one responds with force. The enemy is then afraid and deterred.
Regarding the ship, we also deterred them, since instead of firing a missile from far away, we went onto the ship without fear. There are obviously difficulties when done in this way but we showed them that we are not afraid of anything.

And now the Nation is united. And Turkey (who sent the ship) deserved a big "Yashar Koach!" for strengthening the unity within the Nation of Israel!

Song of Praise for the Reservist's Wife

This is a song of praise for you, wife of a reservist. Your husband also deserves a song of praise, since so few serve in the reserves, and your husband is willing to miss work, crawl in the thorns and mud and eat straw. He is truly a hero, but so many songs have already been written about the reservist.
This song is therefore for you. Please know, he is there in your merit. If you expressed any negativity, he would not go, he would stay at home. Although it is difficult for him in the reserves, it is much harder for you. You are alone with the kids, who are as hard to care for as an entire unit, and your unit includes a crying baby, a child running around getting into all sorts of things, a young girl going through all sorts of crises. You fall onto your bed late at night, and suddenly feel lonely and you immediately fall asleep from exhaustion. But this is not always the case, because you worry about your husband. He is not worried, since there is no time to worry or think on the front line during the fire of battle. But your thoughts do not allow you to rest, you therefore cannot fall asleep. It is sometimes more difficult on the home front than the front line.
Yasher Koach, heroine of Israel, the courageous reservist's wife, a heroine day after day, hour after hour.

Blessing One's Children after Getting Married

Question: My daughter is getting married. When she comes to visit us with her husband for Shabbat, should I continue to "bless" her as I did before she was married? What about my son-in-law - should I bless him as well?
Answer: You should continue to bless your daughter and you can bless your son-in-law if he wants. You should do what is comfortable for him.

Our Rabbi & Tzitzit

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

Our Rabbi would encourage his students to wear their tzitzit hanging outside of their clothing, and he made no distinction between Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews. One of our Rabbi’s leading students, Ha-Rav David Chai HaCohen, once asked if this ruling to wear tzitzit outside of one's garments applied to him as well, for his family's custom was to wear tzitzit tucked in (Ha-Rav HaCohen’s uncle was an important Torah scholar and a faithful follower of the Ben Ish Chai). Ha-Rav HaCohen said that he would abide by whatever ruling our Rabbi gave. Our Rabbi told him that he did not have to wear his tzitzit outside of his clothing. (From the article "The Appearance of a Meticulously Observant Jew" by Ha-Rav Eliezer Melamed)

Our Rabbi would often emphasize the words of the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 8:13) that the essence is that the tzitzit be seen outside of one’s clothing. (Gadol Shimusha p. 71)

A newly observant Jew asked our Rabbi for the source for wearing a kippah. He answered that according to the opinion of the Vilna Gaon (Orach Chaim 8:2), there is no ancient source for a kippah, but wearing tzitzit outside of one's clothing is from the Torah. The newly-observant Jew immediately bought long tzitzit, and obviously also wore a kippah. (Gadol Shimusha p. 70)

Tzitzit at night
Our Rabbi would wear his tzitzit during the day as well as sleep with them at night. (Ha-Rav Yechezkel Greenwald)

Wearing Tzitzit Out
Our Rabbi would say that one should wear his tzitzit hanging outside of his clothing. A student asked: And what about the Arizal (who said that one should wear the tzitzit inside – although there is a dispute regarding the meaning of his words)? Our Rabbi responded with a smile: I know the Arizal. And he added: And do you perform everything that the Arizal says? (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 8:11, Magen Avraham ibid., Mishnah Berurah ibid. Ha-Rav Yosef Bedichi)

Jewish Clothing
Our Rabbi would teach that one should wear his tzitzit out, and that Jewish clothing is not necessarily a kippah, but tzitzit and tefillin. Regarding a kippah, he would quote the words of the Vilna Gaon that wearing a kippah is an act of righteousness (Biur Ha-Gra, Orach Chaim 8). (Ha-Rav Yechezkel Greenwald)