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.

Modesty
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.

Bima
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.

Hunting
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.