It is Lucky that Yehudah the Maccabee Did Not Ask...

It is lucky that Yehudah the Maccabee did not ask politicians, because if he had they would have told him that one must consider the possible international pressure, and he would have sat and deliberated and deliberated.

It is lucky that he did not ask too many military strategists and experts, because they would have told him that there is no chance of delivering "the strong into the hands of the weak," and they would have broken his spirit.

It is lucky that he did not ask statisticians, because they would have revealed to him the secret that we are "the few against the many," and he would have been afraid of the demographic demon.

He also did not ask Roshei Yeshiva, because if he had, they would have ruled that it is forbidden for yeshiva students to interrupt their Torah learning , and then there would not have been a delivering of "the heretics into the hands of those involved in Your Torah."

He also did not ask too many Rabbis, because if he had they would have told him that it is forbidden to challenge the nations of the world, and that we do not rely on a miracle, especially where there is a real potential for danger, etc..., etc...

He also did not ask the humanists, because they would have revealed to him the secret that one soul of Israel is worth more than a few kilometers of land and is more costly for the Nation.

He certainly did not ask those who are pure-of-heart, because they would have depressed his spirit, and preached to him that it is not proper to kill or to be killed.

He did not ask deep thinkers, because – with their great depth - they would have confused him and stopped him with discussions of the order of priorities: Perhaps the Nation takes precedence, etc..., etc...

He did not ask the pacifists, because they would have illuminated his eyes to the greatness of peace, and that one should never use violence, and that goodwill will resolve everything.

He did not ask too many questions, but he fulfilled his national and spiritual obligation and jumped into the lion’s den, with amazing self-sacrifice into the great battle which saved Israel. And then all of the politicians, all of the strategists, all of the statisticians, all of the Roshei Yeshiva, all of the Rabbis, all of the humanists, all of the pure-of-heart, all of the thinkers, and all of the pacifists became sages after the fact, and they lit Chanukah lights as a remembrance of the victory, and these lights illuminate our lives from those days until this time.

Shut SMS #92

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Bad Breathe
Q: My good friend has terrible bad breathe. Should I tell him? He will be hurt.
A: Tell him gently that you have an unusual sensitivity.

Q: Is it a Mitzvah to go to a funeral of an acquaintance?
A: It is a Mitzvah, but not obligatory.

Netilat Yadayim for a Baby
Q: Does a two month old baby require Netilat Yadayim?
A: No, only from the age of education. Shulchan Aruch Ha-Rav (chap. 4).

Physical Abuse
Q: If a man purposefully touches me on the bus or in a public place, is it permissible for me to yell at him, or should I be concerned about embarrassing him?
A: You should certainly yell at him as loud as you can, and if he is embarrassed, he deserves it. He brought it on himself. Not only is it permissible to yell at him, it is a Mitzvah.

Traveling outside of Eretz Yisrael
Q: What is the source for the prohibition of traveling outside of Eretz Yisrael for a trip?
A: Rambam, Melachim 5:9. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 531:4.
Q: To visit close family?
A: It is permissible if they do not come here.

Trip to Jordan
Q: Is it permissible to visit Jordan?
A: It is Eretz Yisrael, but not under Israeli sovereignty. One should therefore refrain from traveling there. And the same applies to the Sinai (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:312).

Picture of Rabbis
Q: Is it permissible to hang pictures of Rabbis in a room where we change the baby's diaper?
A: Yes.

Free Choice
Q: If Hashem knows everything before, then I don't have free choice?
A: There is both Divine knowledge and free choice. This is a complex subject for a text message. See Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah, end of chap. 5 or Shemoneh Perakim, chap. 8.

Q: If a friend asks me to buy him a pack of cigarettes, should I refuse?
A: Yes, but do not get into a dispute.

Q: I work at a store and receive a discount. Can I buy something for friends? It is accepted behavior.
A: You nonetheless need explicit permission.

Separating Challah
Q: Is it permissible to separate Challah after the dough has already been baked?
A: Yes. This is how it is done with Matzah.

Electric Shavers
Q: Under what circumstance is it permissible to use an electric razor?
A: An older type which is less efficient. Do not put it too close to the skin, so that you can still feel the scruff (Ha-Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank brought in Shut Minchat Yitzchak 4:113. Halichot Shlomo – Tefilliah chap. 2 p. 11).

Woman dancing at a Wedding
Q: Is it permissible for young woman to dance at a wedding in the inner circle before the bride and groom in order to bring joy to their good friend?
A: It is forbidden for women to dance in front of men, and we do not perform a Mitzvah through a transgression (Gan Naul, p. 149).

Cemetery at Night
Q: Is it forbidden to visit a cemetery at night?
A: No. It is only forbidden to sleep there. Nidah 17.

Immersing Utensils
Q: Is it permissible to immerse utensils in a regular Mikveh?
A: Yes. With permission of the person who is responsible, since sometimes utensils fall in, break, or make it dirty.

Supermarket Bags
Q: Is it permissible for me to take bags from the supermarket for personal use after shopping there?
A: Certainly not.

Female Dentist
Q: Is it permissible for a man to go to a female dentist or hygienist?
A: Yes. Just like for a doctor.

Martial Arts for Kids
Q: Is it permissible to organize a martial arts class for kids, or will it be an opening to violence?
A: Yes. It is not an opening to violence but to self-control, and it will help them like all physical activity.

Shoes with a Magen David
Q: Is it permissible to wear shoes with a Magen David on the sole?
A: Yes. There is no holiness to a Magen David.

Picture of a Rabbi
Q: I have a picture of a Rabbi on my cell phone screen. Can I bring it into the bathroom?
A: Yes (see Shut Igrot Moshe Yoreah Deah 1:173. Shut She'eilat Shlomo 4:237).

Women in Tzahal
Q: Is it permissible for women to serve in the army?
A: It is forbidden. The ruling of the Chief Rabbinate.

Bride's First Immersion
Q: Is it the custom for friends to accompany a bride to her first immersion in the Mikveh?
A: Yes. They wait for her in the outer room with food, singing, and dancing. But this is on condition that she immerses in the day when the Mikveh is empty, and not at night, when it will bother the other women who come to immerse.


While nursing and dependence are pleasant, it comes time to wean from the nursing in a physical way and from the dependence in an emotional way. The weaning must obviously be in stages.
There are parents who are not interested in weaning their child. The child grows but is still a baby. When he informs his parents that he is getting married, the parents are insulted: "How can our child abandon us in order to go with a stranger? Why did we raise him – in order to stay with us until old age! Most of time, no such thing is said, but a feeling is created that the child's marriage is a transgression against the parents.
Weaning a baby is therefore very important and, as we said, it should be done gradually. The child needs to feel that his parents are happy with him and he was not born by some mistake.
Weaning in no way nullifies the love, which is essential at all ages.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #20

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

We end Baruch She-Amar with a blessing in which we describe Hashem has Ha-Kel, Av Ha-Rachaman- the powerful G-d, merciful father. This has 3 parts.
Hashem is the all powerful G-d. He can do everything and has power over everything and anything. He can make us cease to exist. He can make the world cease to exist. So you might think Hashem doesn't care about human beings. But He does. He is the Father and he is deeply involved with His world.
So you might think Hashem may care about the whole human race, but he doesn't care about us as individuals. But this also isn't so. He is the merciful Father. He cares about each and every human being. Once we now understand that Hashem is all at once all powerful, our Father, and merciful, we are ready to say Psukei De-Zimra - verses or praise to Him.

Service of the Heart

[Be-Ahavah U-BeEmunah – Vayeshev 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

The Talmud comments, "'And to serve him with all your heart' (Devarim 11:13): What is 'service of the heart'? It is prayer" (Taanit 2a). This means serving G-d with one's emotions. We serve G-d many ways. We serve him with our intellect - through Torah learning. We use our intellect to serve G-d, and we process our intellect according to G-d's word. We serve G-d with our deeds – the mitzvot. We serve G-d with our wealth, i.e. Tzedakah and integrity in business dealings. And, we serve G-d with the heart, with our emotions.
A man is not just his intellect. He is also emotion. Both have to be balanced. Otherwise, the person limps. Certainly, intellect is higher than emotion, but emotion is closer to man, to life.
We therefore need both, internal service and external service. (see Orot Ha-Kodesh 3:88). Action is external, the fear of G-d is internal. Wisdom is external. Will is internal. The intellect is external, while emotion is internal.
Torah learning is external, while prayer is internal, for even Torah learning can be external to man's personality. As our Sages said that the First Temple was destroyed because the Jews did not recite the required daily blessing before commencing Torah learning. As the Maharal explained, while they did study Torah, they forgot the Master of the Universe, the Giver of the Torah. One might think that Torah learning is an intellectual challenge, and that in Torah learning one does not stand before G-d. One therefore needs both external service and internal service, and then all is complete.
In prayer we stand before G-d. There can be two things missing in the synagogue: 1) If we view the prayers and the accompanying songs as a musical experience, then we are not serving G-d! 2) Another problem is when people chatter incessantly, having no control over their mouths during prayers. That is not what our Sages had in mind. Rather, they said, if someone talks between Yishtabach and Yotzer, he is committing a sin, and he must repeat his earlier prayers. (Hagahot Maimoniyot, Tefila 7:12, quoting the Jerusalem Talmud). Rather, one must prayer with concentration, i.e., thinking about the content of every word. Obviously, we are not on the level of that chazzan who recited "Akdamut Milin" on Shavuot with such great concentration that his soul flew out of him on High, or of Rabbi Nachum of Riminov, who would invest such a great effort in prayer that after the Shemoneh Esrei that he would faint.
Still, we must strive to concentrate on every word. And even that is not on the level of the Tosafot, quoting the Jerusalem Talmud, who said that we must be grateful to our head, which bows of its own accord when we reach "Modim". All the same, we make an effort. Just as we do not deign to boast that we know Torah, but instead say that we "try to learn". And – not to confuse the holy with the profane – Socrates said, "I am not a sophist, i.e., a wise man, but a philosopher, i.e., a lover of wisdom." Similarly, a rabbi is not called a Chacham - wise man, but a Talmid Chacham - the student of a wise man, a person who learns all his life. That is, likewise, how we must strive to pray.
Towards that end we prepare for prayer. The early pious ones would prepare for an hour (Berachot 30b). Some people, in preparation, would put on nice clothing (Shabbat 10a), and we prepare that way. "Be cautious when you go to the house of G-d" (Kohelet 4:17).
How fortunate we are to have merited a "miniature Temple" (Megilla 29a).
May it be G-d's will that we should merit the rebuilding of the Temple, speedily in our day. In the meantime, we serve G-d with our heart and emotions in that miniature Temple.

Parashat Vayeshev: The Clash Between Yosef and His Brothers

[Tal Chermon]

There was continual and mutual antagonism between Yosef and his brothers. Yosef brought "bad reports" about them (Bereshit 37:2). His dream revealed his criticism of his brothers. "We were binding sheaves in the field when my sheaf suddenly stood up and remained erect. Your sheaves formed a circle around my sheaf and bowed down to it" (ibid. v. 7). My sheaf stood upright ready for action while yours stooped sluggishly. H accused them of inaction and ignorance of the practical world. They also have complaints against him. Yehudah charged him: "You are just like Pharoah" (ibid. 44:8), i.e. "you are just another Pharoah and are only involved in the material side of life!" They suspected that his only concern was the physical arrangement of the world, which is the task of the non-Jews, not of the Jews; while he was neglecting our special Jewish mission of building the inner spirituality of the world.
The brothers sensed that Yosef was starting something new. He had the coat of many colors, showing that he incorporated all the different talents and he therefore outstripped them. This man slandered them to their father and was causing a rift in the Jewish Nation. He was dangerous and destructive to the unity of the "House of Israel." They remembered full well the refining process that the family had undergone in which Yishmael was rejected while Yitzchak remained and Esav was rejected while Yitzchak remained. They reflected: "Is this processing continuing? Will someone be weeded out now? Yosef called them and said: "Listen to the dream that I had (ibid. 37:6), I want you to know who I am." They knew exactly who he was but wanted to clarify the point. "Do you want to be our king? Do you intend to rule over us?" (ibid. v. 8). "Do you mean to consult with us or is your plan to dominate us as a dictator?" "If you intend to consult with us okay, but if you intend to lord over us – it's a no go!" The issue was through whom the Jewish People would continue. They were at loggerheads; it was either the brothers or Yosef. It could not be both.
Sibling rivalry and clashes did not commence with this dispute. It had been preceded by strife between Kayin and Hevel, Yitzchak and Yishmael and Esav and Yaakov. It is true that there are numerous explanations of these interpersonal clashes and of national conflicts. Some are based on economic considerations, others on class tensions, and still others on psycho-sexual problems, etc… Our Sages were fully aware of all these interpretations, and in fact the Midrash brings a dispute concerning the cause of Kayin and Hevel's quarrel. One view is that both of them claimed the right to have the second female twin that was born with Hevel (a psycho-sexual interpretation). Another view is that the dispute was over the division of the earth's resources between them (an economic interpretation - These views and others are brought in Bereshit Rabbah 22:7). However, the deep-rooted reason that caused the quarrel over these issues was their fundamental difference in nature, a clash at the deepest point of their inner essence. Their diverse qualities suited them for entirely different tasks in the world. The visible reasons for the quarrel were only superficial manifestations of a far deeper dispute. This is also true of the jealousy over the coat of many colors. The brothers were not kindergarten children who wanted a beautiful piece of colored silk. Yosef's talent made him competent to arrange and order the world but this clashed with the character of his brothers who were better suited to correct and improve the inner forces of the world. Yaakov, by giving Yosef the coat of many colors, had indicated that of all the brothers, Yosef had been chosen to lead the clan.

Shut SMS #91

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Q: Is one obligated to have a Siyum when completing a Massechet of the Gemara?
A: It is possible to do so on your own with a modest meal.

Q: Why don't prayers ever help - as in healing someone who is ill?
A: They always help, but not like the magic of idol worship.

Geniza or Recycling
Q: Is it permissible to place Divrei Torah without Hashem's Name in the recycling?
A: They are all considered commentaries on the Torah and it is forbidden to treat them disrespectfully. They must be placed in the Geniza (Mishnah Berurah 154:24).

Taxes on Pidyon Ha-Ben
Q: Does a Cohain have to pay taxes on the money he receives for performing a Pidyon Ha-Ben?
A: No. It is a gift and happens rarely (Similarly, Ha-Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky would pay taxes in America on the Mishloach Manot he received - Shut Revivot Efraim 6:389, but this was a pious act, since the amount was negligent).

Disk in a Geniza
Q: Does a disk with Divrei Torah require being placed in a Geniza?
A: No. This is not the type of writing the Torah prohibits destroying (Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 1:173).

Solar Eclipse
Q: Does one recite a blessing on a Solar Eclipse?
A: No.

Q: Is it forbidden to smoke?
A: Yes. In Israel, 10,000 die a year from smoking. And thousands are sick with cancer from it (Shut Aseh Lecha Rav, beginning of vol. 2).

Non-Jewish Date on Tombstone
Q: Is it permissible to put the non-Jewish date on a tombstone?
A: No. Gesher Ha-Chaim (vol. 2 #25).

Q: Is it true that if someone makes 3 Shidduchim (marital matches) he is ensured a place in Gan Eden?
A: Every mitzvah gives a person a certain place of Gan Eden, and all the more so a Shidduch which is a greater mitzvah.

Q: I am going out with a young woman and she eats Glatt Kosher and I eat regular Kosher. If we get married, how should we act?
A: Decide together.

"We will not forget"
Q: Is there a problem with the saying: "We will not forget and we will not forgive" (created after the expulsion from Gush Katif)?
A: No, but don't make it the essence.

The Temple
Q: Is there a Mitzvah nowadays to build the Temple or will it descend from the Heavens?
A: It is a Mitzvah to build it after appointing a King and eradicating Amalek (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 1:1-2).

Perfume in a store
Q: Is it permissible to try on perfume in a store when I do not plan to buy it?
A: It is forbidden. Not only is it deceptive but theft.

Second Hole
Q: Is it permissible for a woman to get a second ear piercing?
A: Yes. Obviously, the earring must be modest, not eye-fetching, and this is true even for one hole.

Gun for a Woman
Q: Is it permissible for a woman to carry a gun?
A: If it is necessary to protect herself, her students, or her family (Shut Yechaveh Daat 5:55 and Shut Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:75 #3).

Q: I give Tzedakah to an organization and I just read that the executive director earns a yearly salary of 375,000 shekels. This infuriates me. I have limited means and donate for the poor and not for him!
A: If this is true, it is truly a serious problem. To our distress, there are many such cases. One must check carefully.


A baby develops with a dependence towards his mother. At this age, it is positive. As one matures, it is negative. An adult should not be a burden on another. He must be independent. Even a marital relationship should be one of mutuality. Otherwise, it is unhealthy. But a baby's dependence is healthy. He feels like a part of his mother. In the womb, he literally was a part of her, but even after his birth, he is still dependent of her, and feels a part of his mother's existence. He overcomes nightmares, the dark and loneliness when he is held in his mother's arms. The pleasure is being in his mother's arms is indescribable.
The mother must also education herself that this dependence should also be pleasant for her and not a burden. The dependence is obviously a huge responsibility - the baby cries, is up all night, etc. – but often times she is the only one who can help, and this feeling should provide her with tremendous pleasure.

Giving a tenth during difficult financial times

Question: What should we do if I want to continue to give "Ma'aser Kesafim" (ten percent to tzedakah) as we have done in the past, but my husband is opposed on account of our difficult financial situation?
Answer: The question can be divided into two parts: 1. How does a couple make decisions? It is clear that a couple must make decisions together. This is not always simple since there are differences of opinion. It is natural that there are differences of opinion because people are different, faces are different, opinions are different, but you must reach a joint decision. Even when making a joint decision, one side does not have to change its opinion. Sometimes one side gives in and sometimes the other side gives in and sometimes there can be a compromise. It is not always possible to reach a compromise. For example, one person wants the children to learn at one school and the other wants them to learn at another school, it is not possible to learn in two different schools. It is possible to compromise on monetary issues. If someone wants to give 1000 shekels and another wants to give 200 shekels, there can be a compromise and give 600 shekels. You must therefore sit and discuss the issue until you reach a compromise. 2. Is someone who is having financial difficulties obligated to give "ma'aser kesafim"? See the book "Ahavat Chesed" of the Chafetz Chaim that giving ten percent for "ma'aser kesafim" is for people who have an average income, and someone who is wealthy should give more and someone who is poor should give less. Most halachic authorities point out that the Torah does not mentioning giving ten percent of one's income; it is only mentioned in connection to giving of one's produce. The practice of giving ten percent of one's income is a holy and supreme custom of Israel. When discussing tzedakah, the Torah says that one should give according to the need and one's ability. Regarding the need, there is obviously great need. The deciding factor is therefore one's ability. It is very difficult to determine one's ability. Our Sages thus fixed ten percent as the average ability. If one's financial situation is difficult, he should give less. In sum: you and your husband should sit together in love, fraternity, peace, and friendship, and decide your ability together, "without making a vow," since your financial situation may change.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #19

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

In Baruch She-Amar, we say Hashem has mercy on the earth and on His creatures. Hashem made the whole world with mercy and with love. He made it that there would be enough of everything for everyone. And so when we discuss His mercy for the world, it is about everything. But when we discuss his mercy for his creation, it is about every individual. Here again we see that Hashem cares for each and every one of us. He has mercy on the world and on every creation in it - especially for us.

Whose Country Is this, Your Eminence?

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayihslach 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

We heard some very interesting tidings from the Bishops’ Council for Middle East Affairs: Eretz Yisrael does not belong to the Jewish People. The necessary conclusion is that we are responsible for all the suffering of Christians and Moslems in our region, as well as of Jews. We are guilty for everything, and why is that, according to the Vatican? -- Because we conquered a land not ours. It’s all because of the Israeli conquest.
In their view, the solution is to establish two states, one for us and one for the Arabs. True, the Arabs already have twenty-two states, with a combined territory 500 times that of Israel, but they still want half our country. Yet even our receiving half the territory is not assured, because if this Land is not ours, but occupied, how can we sit on half of it, or a tenth of it? How can we build our existence on theft, suffering and injustice?
All the same, there’s a penetrating question that must be asked. Surely we are dealing with people who believe in the Bible, and the Bible states countless times that Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish People. If so, how can they declare that we can’t rely on the Bible to justify the Jews’ settling their Land?
The answer is very simple and was provided by them at that council: “There is no Promised Land to the Jewish People, since there is no longer any ‘Chosen People.’ All men and women in every country are the Chosen People. Hence, one cannot use the idea of a Promised Land to justify the Jews’ return to Eretz Yisrael.”
The cat is out of the bag. We are not the Chosen People. We are not the People of Israel. And who is? The whole human race. We have been familiar with this claim for a long time. It’s even mentioned in Rav Kook’s work “Orot”: “The call [of the Christians] to all the peoples, sunken in the mire of impurity, in the morass of wickedness and ignorance, in the most frightening depths of darkness: You are all holy. You are all G-d’s children. There is no difference between one people and another. There is no one people on earth, holy and chosen. Every man is equally holy” (page 33). This call has been known to us down through the generations.
The Catholics even claimed that they are Israel – not physically the Jewish People, but Israel in the spirit. Still, they claim to be “the true Israel” – in Latin, “Verus Israel.” This is the first, time, however, that the Catholics are proclaiming for all to hear that we have no right to Eretz Yisrael since we are not the Jewish People.
At the same time, the Pope worked behind the scenes, trying in every possible way to stymie the State of Israel’s establishment. Subsequent Popes have tried, every way they could, to support Arab terror groups who wanted to destroy our country. Above I said, “The cat is out of the bag”. We are no longer the Chosen People. Once we were, but we no longer are. Hence, it’s not our land. Obviously, according to the Bishops’ decision, Jerusalem is not our capital, but a city holy to three faiths. And that, itself, isn’t obvious. Why not make it an “international city”? After all, there is no Chosen People. Rather, all of mankind is a Chosen People.
Let me therefore announce in the name of the Jewish People and in the name of all of the honest part of the human race, and in the name of history, and in the name of G-d: We are the Jewish People, from time immemorial and forever, as long as there has been a heaven and
an earth, as long as the sun has shown upon this Land.

Shut SMS #90

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Q: After reading a "Kosher" article, is it permissible to look in the talkbacks?
A: No, there is a major concern for Lashon Ha-Ra, embarrassing others and nonsense.

Q: I was told that I am having a hard time getting pregnant because we have a parrot in the house.
A: Nonsense.

Changing a Child's Clothing and Sefarim
Q: Is it permissible to change a child's clothing in a room with holy books?
A: It is permissible up to age 9. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata, 5770 edition, chap. 24 note 116.

Affection between a Couple
Q: During the time when a wife is in Nidda, what is permissible for a husband and wife to say to one another? I love you?
A: Loving words are permissible, but nothing that will entice one's inclination (Eruvin 63b. It once happened that a newly-married young man came to our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, and told him that it was difficult for him, since only half of a month is "a time to hug," while half of a month is "a time to distance from hugging" (when a woman is a niddah - menstruating and counting the clean days before she is able to immerse in a mikvah - a husband and wife are not allowed to have any physical contact). Our Rabbi said to him: Look what is written [in the Sheva Berachot]: "Who created joy and happiness, a groom and a bride etc." - You see, marriage is not just hugging and kissing, but before all else a soulful connection of love, brotherhood, peace and friendship, which apply equally at all times).

Q: What benefit is there in repenting for a sin that I will fail in again?
A: It is true that this is not complete Teshuvah (Rambam, Teshuvah 2:1), but it is Teshuvah, and we continue to wage war.

Single Woman immersing in a Mikveh
Q: Is it permissible for a single woman to immerse in a mikveh?
A: Single women do not immerse.
Q: What if it is to lessen the prohibitions violated?
A: Then it is certainly a severe prohibition (Be'er Heitev, Orach Chaim 303:1. Yoreh Deah 183:6. See Shut Ha-Rivash #422).

Army for Women
Q: Is it permissible for a woman to go to an officers' course in the army in the educational department – and not in a combat unit?
A: The entire army is inappropriate for women. For education – National Service, on condition that it is in a "Kosher" place.

Retreats in Redemption
Q: Doesn't the destruction of Gush Katif show that this is not Redemption?
A: There will not be another exile, but there can be retreats and crises (Ramban on Shemit 5:22-23).

Maaser Kesafim
Q: My parents gave me a large sum of money for laser eye surgery for my wife. Do I have to separate Maaser Kesafim?
A: Yes, if it is in your financial ability (Ahavat Chesed of the Chafetz Chaim).

Honoring Parents
Q: My parents want me to break all relations with my sister following a disagreement between them. Should I listen?
A: If one's parents tell him to commit a transgression, one does not listen, including hating another person. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (143:11).

Painting Doorposts
Q: When one paints the doorposts, what does one do with the Mezuzah?
A: Cover the Mezuzah to protect it. If one removes for Mezuzah for a short period, he does not recite a blessing when it is put back (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:7).

Parashat Vayishlach: "And He Limped on His Hip" (Bereshit 32:31)

[Tal Chermon]

Yaakov's limping is an essential element of his makeup and we, the Jewish People, suffered similar woes throughout our history. The Nation of Israel has had to struggle with heavenly and human forces throughout the long dark night of human history. We cannot be vanquished, we are victorious, but we pay a price. His and our stalwart erect stance is undermined and stoops throughout history. But we have not sunk to the level of Esav around whose thigh a snake is wound (See Targum Onkelos on Bereshit 25:27). Yaakov's thigh remains pure but is weakened and limping throughout his, our, history we have been subjected to ghastly tortures in successful attempts to subdue us, "But the Holy One Blessed Be He delivered us from them." The Ramban (on Bereshit 32:26) described it as follows: "This even [the dislocation of his hip] is a hint to Yaakov's offspring that there will be a generation when Esav [Rome] will prevail over us and will almost obliterate us, G-d forbid. This occurred in the generation of Rabbi Yehudah ben Bava, who suffered martyrdom for continuing the Rabbinic chain by giving Rabbinic ordination to his students, despite the Roman prohibition, and his companions who were Rabbis of the Mishnah…'In this generation of religious persecution they would take iron balls, heat them until they were white hot and then place them under the arm-pits [of their torture victims] and thus burnt them to death.' And there are other generations in which they have done such things to us and even worse (a hint to the times of the Christian Inquisition)." Also in our final revival, the birth of our modern State of Israel which illuminates our horizons after 2,000 years of exile was proceeded by a horrific "limp" and satanic outrages unparalleled in history.

We, however, are not frightened by these blows because we are an indestructible Nation. This is intimated by the verse concerning the attacking angel which states: "And he [the angel] saw that he could not defeat him [Yaakov]" (ibid. 32:26). The eternal Jewish People can be injured and maimed, but we are invincible and even eventually return to our perfectly healthy state. As the abovementioned Ramban concludes: "However, we have endured and come through it as hinted in the verse: 'And Yaakov came in peace'" (ibid. 33:18).

Do not get angry

From the moment that a baby is born, we must express love to him, the same applies when he is older. We must show him great love, physical and non-physical, loving words and presents, all age appropriate. This is not always easy. For example, sometimes a baby cries, and all attempts to avert his attention or pacify him fail. In such a case, there is a concern that the parents will lose patience, yell and be angry with him, threaten and sometimes even hit him, even though by doing so, he will certainly continue to cry.
When a baby cries, one should never response with anger. Anger destroys him and breaks his character. It serves no educational benefit. If he cries, he should be calmed. In general, it is forbidden to punish a young child and forbidden to get angry with him.
This obviously does not mean that the baby should cause chaos in the house. He does not control the parents' life. The parents establish the norms, but without anger or an anger face. Even withheld anger damages. The child senses it even if the parent smiles. He feels that the parents relates to him as a burden, a nudnik, causes sleepless nights, takes away his rest, makes noise, crying endlessly, and is a yoke on his parents.
While this may be true to some extent, but if a parent expresses this through speech, facial expression or in his heart, it destroys the baby. He is certainly a burden, but a very pleasant burden. This is the general principle: The education of the parent precedes the education of the children.

Coping with Expulsion

Question: How can we cope if there is an expulsion from Yehudah and Shomron?
a. It is forbidden to speaking about it. The very discussion about such ideas is unhealthy. It once happened in Russia that Stalin said in the Kremlin: I am suggesting two new laws: 1. To kill all of the red-heads. 2. To kill all of the Jews. They said to him: Why should we kill all the red-heads?! What did they do? We understand that there was no dispute regarding killing the Jews. The same applies here: What are we going to do if there is an expulsion? The entire discussion is what are we going to do if…, but the discussion needs to be how do we prevent an expulsion in the first place. This is the question. Discussing what we will do if... accustoms people to the idea that there can be an expulsion, and there is the small matter of how we will cope with it.
b. What caused the expulsion from Gush Katif? It is quite simple: The Nation wanted it. The majority of the Nation wanted it. It is not only because of Arik Sharon or the media or the courts. The majority of the Nation wanted it. And if was the majority of the Nation, no one t could do anything to change it. The Nation said: We do not understand. There are two million Arabs and 8000 Jews. Free us from two million Arabs and it will be a little difficult for 8000 Jews. We'll try to help them. We don't want another two million Arabs. Let's at least free ourselves from them. This is what the Nation thought. And these were the Zionists who thought from a demographic, political, democratic and military perspective, this would be good. They were wrong. It happens that the Nation sometimes errs. Since the return to Zion, on the whole we have not erred, but sometimes we do. There is no completely righteous Nation who does good and does not sin (based on Kohelet 7:20). It was a major mistake. Many people who supported the expulsion now admit that it was a mistake. Nonetheless, the key is the Nation. The one who decides here is the Nation. We must therefore convince the Nation. It does not matter who the Prime Minister is, he does want the Nation wants. Everything that happens here is because of the Nation. The Return to Zion was done by the Nation. Building the Land – the Nation. Establishing the State – the Nation. The War of Independence the Nation. The Six Day War – the Nation. The Yom Kippur War – the Nation. Building the economy – the Nation. Returning the Torah to the Land of Israel - – the Nation. The Nation is the boss here. We must therefore convince the Nation. Each of us must convince a small part of the Nation. A five year old girl asked: How can I convince the Nation? Convince a five year old girl. It is possible to convince others. Herzl once said: We need to establish a State. They said: He is completely crazy. But they convinced, convinced, convinced… until we established a State.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #18

In the beginning of Baruch She-Amar, we say blessed is the One who says (Omer) and does, blessed is the One who enacts (Gozer) and fulfills. What is the difference between Omer and Gozer? Omer is when He says things that are logical. Gozer is when He decrees things that don't have a logical explanation. Many times we think things are not possible. How could there still be a Jewish People? How could there be an Israel? The list goes on and on. But for Hashem everything is possible. Whether something is logical or not, Hashem can do it all.

Eat Little

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayetze 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: I eat without end although I am not hungry. I tried a diet and it didn’t help, because I eat obsessively. I want to stop but I don’t succeed, and my weight increases from day to day.
Answer: You’re not alone. It’s a pervasive plague. There are a billion people on earth who weigh too much (by the way, a similar number of people are undernourished, and each day 25,000 die of hunger). 350 million overeaters are classed as having an eating disorder. Money spent on abnormal overeating in the U.S. each day equals 250 million dollars. Daily expenditures in the U.S. on various weight-lowering programs equal 110 million dollars. Overeating really is a plague. In Israel, 39% of people are overweight. Of these, 60% are adults, 20% are boys and 19% are girls.
Obesity can cause heart problems and many other illnesses, and the reason is simple: The body is taking in more calories than it is burning off. The cure is thus simple: Don’t eat fattening foods. Don’t eat sweet foods like chocolate, cake or sweets, or fatty milk products. Break out of the cycle of overeating: Taking in calories creates a need. It’s not real hunger
but artificial hunger.
And what is the ultimate cause of that uncontrollable desire to eat? There are various causes: psychological factors, loneliness, sadness, or depression, as well as hormonal irregularities and imprecise functioning of the brain, indicating, only after a delay, that a person is already sated, thus leaving an inaccurate feeling of hunger. In any event, the solution is not crash diets that require strong discipline and a great effort, but which generally fail. Rather, a different approach is needed.

Various Strategies
1. Eat a good breakfast, which our sages called “Pat Shacharit” -- one’s “morning bread”.
2. Eat a meal once every three hours, so that one will not be hungry and will not attack the food. Such was the custom of Jews from Germany, and it is linked to their custom of waiting three hours between meat and milk. Then, that three-hour habit will become second nature.
3. Prepare yourself something healthy in your bag in case you feel hungry during the day, like a piece of fruit, a vegetable, or a healthy cracker.
4. Prepare yourself healthy, tasty food at home with which to start your meal, like salad or vegetable soup.
5. Avoid fast food. Usually it’s not healthy.
6. Don’t drink sweet drinks.
7. If you slip, make amends quickly. Keep matters in hand. If someone makes a mistake and suffers for it, should he then make the same mistake and suffer more?
8. If there is healthy food on the table, wait ten minutes before eating so as overcome the strong desire to eat it. It’s like the Chinese saying: Who is brave? He who eats one peanut.” Rabbenu Yona of Gerundi wrote in his book, “Yesod HaTeshuva” in the name of Ra’avad, that in serving G-d one should harness one’s resolve and forego one delicious food every meal. I only said that one should wait.
9. Don’t store unhealthy food at home. We don’t house terrorists.
10. Sometimes a person thinks he is hungry when he is really only thirsty. Watch out for that.
11. Eat enough food to satisfy yourself and wait twenty minutes. That’s how long it takes for the brain to relay the message that you’re satisfied. It’s the time it takes to walk a kilometer.
12. Do a half hour of physical exercise each day. That, too, will take off a bit of weight, but
the main thing is that it’s very healthy.
13. Before participating in a large banquet, decide precisely what you are going to eat. It’s
like the instructions a soldier receives before battle.
14. Enlist family support and the supervision of another human being.

Deriving Blessing from Eating Less
Here’s a rule of thumb. The Torah says, “Eat your fill” (Vayikra 25:19), and Rashi comments, quoting Torat Kohanim, that this refers to “eating little and finding blessing in it.” Eat daintily. “One shouldn’t eat voraciously, but the way one eats before a king, for a blessing only rests on one who does not eat voraciously… as when Esau said, ‘Pour that red, red stuff down my throat’ (Bereshit 25:30). Just as the ministering angels eat in holiness and purity, so should Israel” (Torat Kohanim 25).

Turn to Overeaters Anonymous
If all the above advice doesn’t help, turn to Overeaters Anonymous (O.A.). O.A. was founded 50 years ago (5720) to help people with an obsessive, uncontrollable urge to eat, by way of a twelve-stage program. (The same that was used by Alcoholics Anonymous, but with several differences). It includes a personalized program, and treats the various causes of overeating, such as emotional disappointment. They take no medical steps (In case of need, go to a dietician), but work on the person to change himself internally. In Israel there are 130 groups that hold weekly meetings, and such meetings work on a principle of changing one’s character. This approach is both free, and the most beneficial. Call the national hotline at 03-
5745799, or check out: OA-ISRAEL.ORG

See a slimmer you soon.

Shut SMS #89

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Ha-Rav Meir Kahane
Q: I saw that there was a comparison between the views of Kahane and the Nazi abomination. Is this true?
A: Not all severe errors or lack of morality is Nazism, G-d forbidden. And you should call him: Ha-Rav Kahane.
Q: Why does Ha-Rav hold that Ha-Rav Kahane severely erred and had a lack of morality?
A: I did not write that Rav Kahane had a lack of morality but that part of his view contained a lack of morality. It is permissible to argue with the view of a Torah scholar but this does not permit one to say that the Torah scholar himself is immoral. Rav Kahane was a righteous man, who displayed self-sacrifice for the Nation of Israel and was murdered for the sanctification of Hashem's Name. But there are a few difficulties with his view. A big difficulty is relating to secular Jews as Hellenists, and thus removing the Mitzvah of "Love your fellow as yourself." This is a severe error and lack of morality, i.e. in relation to how to treat another Jew. Obviously, this is no way lessens his positive attributes and the positive parts of outlook.

Calling a Jew: "Nazi"
Q: What is the difference between a soldier who expelled Jews from Gush Katif and a Nazi?
A: Someone asked this a week ago about Ha-Rav Kahane. And someone once called Tzahal: "Judeo-Nazis." And someone once referred to Ashkenazic Jews "AshkeNAZIS," We therefore want to make it clear once and for all that it is forbidden to call a Jew a "Nazi." Someone who calls his fellow "wicked" will have his livelihood negatively affected (Kiddushin 28a. Rashi, Tosafot and Ri Ha-Zaken ibid.). Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, harshly scorned people who called a Jew "wicked," but he never even imagined that they would called him a "Nazi" (see Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Shemot, p. 45).

Pregnant Woman in Cemetery
Q: Is it permissible for a pregnant woman to attend a memorial in a cemetery?
A: There is no prohibition according to the basic Halachah, unless you have a custom not to do so (Nita'ei Gavriel – Avelut 84:4. See Shut Minchat Yitzchak 10:42 #2).

Q: Why do women have to dress modestly just because men can't control themselves?
A: A person must be modest when he is home alone, in the dark, even if he is a man, because of the honor of Hashem. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 3:1.

Cohain in Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah
Q: Is it permissible for a Cohain to enter Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah?
A: It is a dispute. Maran Ha-Rav Kook (who was a Cohain) did not enter (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:328).

Dairy Equipment
Q: If pareve food was cooked in a dairy pan, it is permissible to eat if after a fleishchig meal?
A: Yes (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 95:3).

Red Light
Q: Is it permissible for a pedestrian to cross the street against a red light?
A: It is forbidden, and it is also life-threatening (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 379:6. See Shut Chatam Sofer vol. 5 Choshen Mishpat #44).

Studying Religions
Q: I am a teacher and the curriculum calls for me to teach about Christianity and Islam. Is it permissible?
A: Teach what Judaism says about Christianity and Islam.

Nursery School
Q: How does one choose a nursery school?
A: Three criteria in this order: 1. A teacher who is motherly. 2. G-d-fearing. 3. Can help the child develop different skills.

Washing Dishes on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to washing dishes on Shabbat if there are other clean ones?
A: It is permissible if a person wants to eat off of those particular dishes (Shut Shevet Ha-Levi 5:39. Ha-Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky in Emet Le-Yaakov 323:6).

Q: Is a person obligated to remove a tattoo?
A: One is not obligated. It is appropriate to cover it with a piece of clothing (Shut Le-Horot Natab 8:72. Shut Revivot Ephraim 8:306. Shut Minchat Yitzchak 3:11).

Fish and Chesse
Q: It is permissible for a Sefardi to eat fish and cheese together?
A: Some are strict to refrain, but it is permissible according to the basic Halachah. Shut Yechaveh Da'at (6:48).

Davening with a Minyan
Q: Is it preferable to daven with a Minyan even though I am tired and do not have proper Kavana or to daven on my own with proper Kavana?
A: With a Minyan, because the advantages of davening with a Minyan are greater than the personal advantages of proper Kavana (end of the book "Chafetz Chaim").

A: Does Ha-Rav hold that there cannot be another Exile, and the State of Israel will last forever?
A: It will certainly last forever. But it is possible that there will be complications and withdrawals. Maran Ha-Rav Kook wrote about this.

Satmar Shul
Q: If I cannot find another minyan, is it permissible to daven in a Satmar shul, who are against the State of Israel?
A: Yes. Do not excommunicate people.

Bottle with Torah
Q: Is it permissible to throw out in the garbage a bottle which says; "Do not open on Shabbat"?
A: Some are strict, but it is permissible, since it is not for Torah learning but rather an instruction without reasons, and it is also designed to last for only one use (Shut Zekan Aharon 2:70 and Halichot Shlomo – Tefillah chap. 20 note 72. Ha-Rav Avigdor Neventzal, however, wrote in Be-Yitzchak Yikarei on the Shulchan Aruch 154:3 that the instructions printed on a bottle, such as do not open on Shabbat, should be placed in a Geniza).

Shaking a Woman's Hand
Q: If a woman puts out her hand to shake mine, it is permissible to shake it so as not to embarrass her?
A: No. We should not embarrass anyone, but here she is causing herself embarrassment. Ha-Rav Ovadia Yosef declined to shake hands with Prime Minister Golda Meir. And Rav Mordechai Eliyahu did not shake hands with the Queen of England. In both cases, apologies were issued to the Rabbis that very night. In fact, one should take into consideration the feelings of the one who observes the Torah (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 4:298. See Blog Maaleh of 25 Marcheshvan).

Burning Disks
Q: Is it permissible to burn a disk with songs that I got from different places?
A: Yes, but you have to pay for each of the songs. There is a way to do this (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:463).

Parashat Vayetze: Yaakov's Love of Rachel and Leah

[Tal Chermon]

Yaakov deeply loved Rachel as is stated: "Yaakov worked seven years for Rachel. But he loved her so much, it seemed like no more than a few days" (Bereshit 29:20). It was not a carnal love but a holy and lofty one based on a profound harmony between their souls. The proof of this is that he was with Leah for an entire night, thinking that she was Rachel and yet only in the morning did he discover the switch. His attraction to Rachel was clearly not bodily since he knew nothing about it and could thus be deceived for an entire night. Their bond was idealistic and spiritual. All the same, he loved her for what she was now.
Leah, however, was "disliked." This does not mean, G-d forbid, that he really hated her. Yaakov loved everyone, he even called the shepherds "my brothers" (ibid. v. 4). Leah was simply less loved than Rachel, as it says: "But he loved Rachel more than Leah" (ibid. v. 30). She feels "disliked" because she knows that as far as her husband is concerned she is the subordinate wife. Yaakov, however, did slowly develop a deep love towards her, not as his wife but as the mother of his children (On the birth of her first son, she called him "Reuven - see a son" and said "now my husband will love me" - Bereshit 29:32. On the birth of her third son, she said "Now my husband will be attached ["Levi"] to me because I have already given him three sons" - ibid. 29:34. And this pattern continues).
Yaakov's love for Rachel, despite all its sublimity, was not the ultimate in love. His love of Leah ended up deeper and more elevated. His love of Rachel, although it was a love in the depth of his soul, was a personal love of her. His love for Leah, however, centered on the creation of future generations and on the desire for continuance. By marrying and having children, one becomes "eternal" in this world since he is continued by his offspring. The heart of romantic love is, deep down, the love of and desire for continued existence. The Torah, by determining that the mitzvah is not marriage but procreation, makes abundantly clear that the purpose of marriage is not mutual pleasure and convenience but the bearing of children to ensure future generations. There is even an opinion that this command can be fulfilled with a concubine (The Rosh on Ketubot 1:12). G-d forbid that a person should act in such a shameful way, but the letter of the law indicates what is at the heart of the matter. A husband and wife must naturally love and respect each other on a personal level, but all of this stems from a deeper purpose. Maran (our revered teacher) Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook expressed this idea as: "Sexual impulses have been given to us in order to ensure the future of the world and of mankind (Orot Ha-Kodesh Part 3, p. 299).
Since Yaakov's love of Rachel was personal and unrelated to the propagation of future generations, their bond was infertile. Yaakov's spiritual romance had to give way to a love which bore with it the responsibility of maintaining the continuity of mankind. Rachel demanded in painful exasperation: "Give me children or let me die" (Bereshit 30:1). She implored G-d to be fertile like her sister (See Rashi's second explanation and Onkelos on Bereshit 30:8), and Hashem finally opened her womb (Bereshit 30:22). Her troubles, however, were not yet over. She died in childbirth when Binyamin was born (Bereshit 35:17-18). Rachel's temporary kingdom had to vacate its place for Leah's permanent kingdom to take over. The essential, romantic love was a preparation for the supreme state for them to "become one flesh" (Bereshit 2:24). This occurs when children are born, "for the child is created by both parents and in it their flesh becomes one and united" (Rashi ibid.). Both Rachel and Leah built the complete House of Israel.

Bircat Ha-Mazon while Getting Divorced

Q: Should a man continue saying in Bircat Ha-Mazon: "Ha-Rachaman Hu Yevarech et Ishti" (May the Merciful One bless my wife) if they are in the process of getting divorced?
A: One can say "Plonit" (her name) or "Gerushati" (my divorcee). One is not obligated to recite all of the additions after the fourth blessings, although there is a custom to do so (Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Ve-Ten Beracha, p. 304). Therefore, one may say what he wants.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #17

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

At the end of the morning Berachot and the recitation of the korbanot, we ask Hashem to rebuild the Beit Ha-Mikdash where we will offer Him our korbanot again. And we ask Him to do this quickly and in our days. This is our highest hope, because having the Beit Ha-Mikdash will mean we have the Mashiach, and we will be able to get as close to Hashem as anyone can get in this world. So we ask for this to be done in our days as we want to have this wonderful experience in our lives. We don’t want this to be just a theory. We want this to be a fact in our lives. So today we have to live our lives in a way that will bring us closer to having Mashiach and the Beit Ha-Mikdash.

And Jonathan remains in the pit...

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Toldot 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Jonathan cries in the pit, tearlessly, silently and without words. He is not crying over himself but over Joseph who was thrown into the pit, and over all sorts of Josephs thrown into all sorts of pits. He is the present Joseph, crying for the unrectified sin of the original Joseph’s being sold.
Jonathan Pollard ruminates in the pit. He has been there for twenty-five years. He has a lot of time to think, and he already knows all his thoughts by heart. He knows that he never betrayed the United States. Quite the contrary, he served it faithfully for many years. And anyway, he did a lot of good for the United States by passing on to Israel information which the United States was obligated to pass on to Israel according to their memorandum. If not for Jonathan, what a terrible calamity might have occurred! What shame and calumny for America! The fact is that he was never accused of being a traitor. So why is he being so badly mistreated? Why is such a terrible injustice being perpetrated against him? Why?
Jonathan is suffering in the pit for his brothers who threw him into it. He remembers that they said to him, “You are our brother. Don’t worry! If you get into trouble, come to the Israeli Embassy, you and your wife, and we will transfer you to Israel.” “Yet when I came there,” he recalls vividly, “they threw me outside, straight into the arms of the police.”
Jonathan trembles in the pit. He still recalls how they took off all his clothes and threw him into a psychiatric prison, totally naked in a cold and empty cell with just a single metal cot. To paraphrase Genesis 34:23, “the pit was empty but it contained water.” Occasionally he would be chained to a shower of freezing cold water until he lost all his senses. Even now he is in a terrible pit, a pit of life imprisonment. Prisoners come and go, but Jonathan sits in his pit forever... no leaves, no children, no kosher food. His only ray of light is his good wife who visits him regularly, with enormous devotion.
Jonathan asks himself questions in the pit: My brothers, why have you betrayed me? It is through me that you knew that Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Iran were preparing atomic, chemical, and biological weapons against Israel’s citizens, as well as terror attacks. I toiled so hard for you, my brothers! I literally sacrificed myself and endangered myself for you, and I don’t even have a bit of freedom. Have you forgotten me? You talk, you make declarations, you have photo-ops, and I am still in the pit. Sometimes you make promises. But you are lying. You don’t really worry about me. Even with me in the pit, you continue to take advantage of me for all sorts of purposes. I’m hurting in the pit, and it hurts me all the more that you are betraying me.
Jonathan suffers insult in the pit: Why do they write about me that I was working for profit? I didn’t get a red cent! I am an idealist. Why do they write about me that I am insane? Is this a way of getting rid of me? Why was the suggestion made of exchanging me for 750 terrorists with blood on their hands? Is that what I am worth in your eyes? Do I have blood on my hands? Me?
Jonathan suffers disappointment in the pit: In 1985 he was arrested. He was officially recognized as a citizen of Israel, and only in 1995 was he recognized as an official agent of Israel -- as if this were some sort of gesture. Yet it was no gesture! All of his missions were signed by the head of Israeli Intelligence. Why doesn’t the State of Israel turn over mountains and hills to free him? Why has it missed so many opportunities? Could there be a greater injustice?
Jonathan remembers in the pit. His brothers forgot him, but he did not forget them. He breathes Israel, lives Israel, worries about Israel. He is a very bright man, a man of rare genius. He thinks about the future of the State of Israel all the time, and about how to solve its problems, the problems of electricity, economics and security. From his scant resources, he contributes to charitable organizations in Israel, prays for those wounded in terrorist attacks and sends his wife to comfort the mourners of terror victims.
My brothers! I do not forget you. Please do not forget me…
For twenty-five years Jonathan has been in the pit. He touches the cold walls, touches the darkness, touches his aching head and his diseased sinuses. He thinks: When will I get out of here? He no longer believes in salvation coming from the Chief Butler or the Chief Baker, this minister from America or that one from Israel -- but only in the Master of the Universe. Jonathan sits in the pit and he weeps, he weeps tears of blood.
Yet he is not alone in the pit. G-d is with him. G-d is his Rock and Fortress, shining His countenance upon him and satisfying his needs. Even in the pit, Jonathan remains a tzaddik [saint] like Joseph the tzaddik. They are trying to corrupt his soul. They show him obscene photographs, yet he always remains a tzaddik. G-d is always with him in the pit.
Jonathan is a national hero and a saint. He has one prayer: Master of the Universe! I have but one small request. Get me out of here and bring me to the Western Wall so that I can kiss it.
“As for our brethren, the whole house of Israel, suffering distress and captivity, on sea or on land, may G-d have mercy on them and grant them relief, bringing them from darkness to light, from servitude to liberty, speedily and very soon” (morning prayers). May He who brought Joseph out of the pit bring Jonathan out as well, and may there soon be fulfilled through the saintly, heroic Jonathan, the words, “Hashem, You have brought up my soul from
She’ol. You have kept me alive, that I should not go down in the pit” (Tehilim 30:4).

Shut SMS #88

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets "Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'ah" and "Olam Ha-Katan." Here's a sample:
Rabbi who Foretells the Future
Q: People say that a certain Rabbi knows everything about you. Is it permissible to visit him to learn what will happen in the future?
A: Certainly not. "You shall be wholesome with Hashem, your
G-d" (Devarim 18:13).

Mock Wedding
Q: A boy said to a girl: "You are betrothed to me…" (Harei At Mekudeshet Li…) and gave her an object. What is the law?
A: It is possible that she is betrothed. Turn to a Beit Din.

Music for a Mourner
Q: When a family is traveling in a car, and one of them is a mourner, is it permissible to listen to music?
A: Yes, the other members of the family are not mourners. Even if the mourner hears the music, he should not actively listen to it (Pesachim 25).

Tevilat Kelim
Q: Do we immerse a glass platter if we do not whether it was produce by Jews or non-Jews?
A: It should by immersed without a blessing.

Havdalah Candle
Q: Is it true that a Havdalah candle is Treif and it is forbidden to extinguish it in the wine?
A: Today, the candles are made of synthetic, non-Treif material.

Happy with One's Lot
Q: How is it possible to be happy with one's lot when it is relatively small to what other's have?
A: If this is what Hashem gave, it is a sign that it is exactly what one needs.

Shaking Hands with a Man
Q: If a man puts out his hand to shake mine in public, can I shake his hand so he is not embarrassed?
A: No, just as if a man asks you to eat treif which he cooked, or to help him violate Shabbat. or even publicly proposes marriage and if you refuse, he will be embarrassed.

Picture of Rabbis
Q: Do pictures of Rabbis require being placed in a Geniza?
A: No, but it is a good thing to do.

Q: My wife is very modest, too much so in my opinion. I want her to fancy herself up and to wear a tight skirt, which is the shortest allowed, like other religious women I see. Am I normal?
A: You are certainly normal. Every person has an evil inclination. But you need to overcome it and add purity. Read a lot of Mesilat Yesharim.

Parashat Toldot: Wearing Two Hats

[Tal Chermon]

Esav the Wicked
Yitzchak believed in Esav's ability to manage the material world morally and thus wanted to give him his blessing. Rivkah, however, knew the stark truth. Esav in his present state was not capable of advancing the world, since he himself for the moment was incorrigibly depraved. Hopefully after several thousand years of improvement when the End of Days arrives, he would eventually be fit for the task. He possessed strength but it was the strength of wickedness which would be used for the destruction of the world. Yitzchak saw the overall picture of the ideal and absolute truth in which Esav's strength must and will be employed at the End of Days for the world's benefit. Rivkah, however, saw the world in its realistic, present state where Esav was a source of evil. At present he is a murderer as he said, "May the days of the mourning of my father come soon so that then I will be able to kill my brother" (Bereshit 27:41). It is true that he was upset because his blessing was taken from him, but there are limits even to an angry response. He even wanted to hasten the death of his father. It was a bit too much for him to do that personally, so he requested it of his dear uncle Yishmael, who certainly would willingly comply (Midrash Ha-Gadol, Bereshit 28:9). These murderous inclinations were not created overnight because of a one-time event but are indications of his deep-rooted corrupt nature (Rav Charlop in Ma'ayanei Ha-Yeshu'a). Rivkah knew Esav's present state better and thus decided that in the meantime Yaakov would have to fulfill both his and Esav's tasks.
[Sarah had acted similarly a generation earlier when she decided to banish Yishmael from the home because of the negative influence of his corrupt behavior. Avraham was shocked. This went against the grain, which was the ideal of absolute kindness. It is true but it was essential for practical considerations. Hashem confirmed Sarah's approach: "Do everything that Sarah tells you" (Bereshit 21:12). They should ideally live together, but it was not possible at the present time. "The events that occurred to our forefathers are indications of what will befall their descendants!" (This concept first appears in the Midrash Tanchuma, Parashat Lech Lecha, section 9. This exact expression of the idea first appears in the Shela Ha-Kadosh in Torah She-Bichtav, end of Parashat Vayishlach).]

The Transfer of Esav's Blessing to Yaakov
Rivkah instructed Yaakov, "Now, my son, listen to me and do what I command you. Go…take…and bring it to your father so that he will bless you before he dies" (Bereshit 27:8)." Yaakov tried to get out of it by saying: "Maybe my father will feel me…and I will bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing" (ibid. 27:12). Rivkah responded: "Let any curse be upon me, my son. But listen to me and go and bring what I asked" (ibid. 27:13). In other words, "Do what you're told! I know better than you and that's an order!" Yitzchak sensed that something was wrong when Yaakov came: “The voice is the voice of Yaakov but the hands are the hands of Esav" (ibid. 27:22). The voice expresses thought and the spiritual world, while the hands represent the realm of action" (ibid. 27:27)."

Question: Since Yaakov was disguised as Esav, doesn't this show that this task was not compatible with his character.
Answer: When there is no choice, we even have to do things that do not suit us. If Esav cannot fulfill his task then Yaakov is forced to take over, despite the fact that Yaakov's natural expertise is not for worldly matters but for spiritual ones. There are nations who in their own fields are more adept than Israel. It is true that Israel contains all human talents in the same way that human beings possess all talents that animals have, but individual nations may surpass us in a particular characteristic that is its specialty. We share the materialistic aspects of life with the non-Jews, but that is their area of specialization, not ours. Attempts to take over other people's tasks lead to disaster. The non-Jew's meddling in spirituality led to the birth of Christianity and Islam, while our degeneration into pre-occupation with material matters led to the neglect of the spirit. At this juncture, Israel also had to perform Esav's worldly mission. Yaakov was therefore given a blessing for material success using honest and upright tactics. "May Hashem give you of the dew of the heaven and the fatness of the earth…Nations will serve you…be a lord to your kinsmen…may they that bless you be blessed" (ibid. 27:28). The physical world was now in the righteous hands of Yaakov Avinu who would manage it in holiness, according to Hashem's will.

Yaakov's Spiritual Blessing
At the end of this Torah portion, Yaakov was given his original blessing as the firstborn who was to manage the world's spirituality. He received this blessing comfortably since this was originally designed for him. "May Hashem make you an assembly of peoples. May He give you and your descendants the blessing of Avraham so that you take possession of the Land that G-d gave to Avraham, where you lived previously only as a foreigner" (Bereshit 28:3). Yaakov was the spiritual successor of Avraham and was thus in charge of building up the inner essence of the world. After the original change of tasks, there was a further modification when Yaakov adopted both functions. Yaakov now wore two hats simultaneously: the supervision of the world's material advancement and the guide for the world's spiritual improvement.

"Price Tag"

Question: Should we punish Arabs for the trouble the Army does to the Settlers?
Answer: It is forbidden to punish an Arab for a transgression he did not commit. Furthermore, punishment must be meted out by the Nation and not an individual. It is therefore forbidden, and also causes damage.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #16

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

As part of our morning davening, we learn about the Korbanot (sacrifices) in the Beit Ha-Mikdash. The Korbanot have many details as to how they are to be offered and even what we must be thinking when we offer them. These are not just technical details. Everything has great meaning, even though it is hard to understand the meaning behind every detail. Yet, we try to do the best that we can. The Korbanot are considered The Avodah - the primary service of Hashem. Therefore, everything we do today in order to serve Hashem parallels an aspect of what was done in the Beit Ha-Midkash.
The Korban Tamid was offered in the Beit Ha-Mikdash twice daily - in the morning and at Minchah time. When Hashem gives this mitzvah to Moshe Rabbenu, he says “Tzav et Bnei Yisrael”- Command the Children of Israel. When Torah uses the command form Tzav it is emphasizing ziruz - being particularly dedicated to the mitzvah and doing it properly. This is particularly important here as there could have been a temptation not to be careful about a Korban that is offered daily. After all, we did it yesterday and will do it tomorrow. Yet the Torah is teaching us that even with things done constantly we have to be careful. These things that are constant have a great impact on our daily lives. Therefore, even though they may not seem as “exciting” as a mitzvah we do rarely, we need to be careful with them as they set our pattern for how we serve Hashem.
The word Korban comes for the word to come close. The whole idea was to come closer to Hashem. This is what we have to do in all aspect of our lives - come closer to Hashem. Today, our Tefilot substitute for the Korbanot. And sometimes we get so used to davening that we forget how special and important it is. We have the opportunity to come closer to Hashem. The Korban Tamid is a reminder to us that we cannot let that happen.

Playing with Matches

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Chayei Sarah 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: When a boy and girl go out many times, sometimes they are interested in going out with another couple to see how the prospective spouse interacts in company. Obviously, the aim is not to create a social gathering in which they “have a ball”, but to allow their relationship to develop and flow from a different direction. Is this permissible?
Answer: Absolutely not, for three reasons, any one of which would provide enough reason to reject it.
1. It’s going too far. 2. It won’t help. 3. It’s forbidden.
1. It’s going too far. What do you care how the girl functions in company? The main thing is how she functions with you. Is she in line to be a public relations man?! And if we say that she doesn’t behave properly to others, then that means she has a fault, but you’re not looking for an angel without shortcomings. And even if you look for that, you won’t find it. And even if you find it, she won’t marry you, because you, yourself, are no
angel. After all, you’ve got a shortcoming that you’re examining her too closely.
This brings to mind Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein’s response regarding a boy who wanted his prospective match to cook for him to make sure that she didn’t burn her food. Rav Feinstein rejected this (Shut Igrot Moshe). One has to hope that with G-d’s help the couple will come to an equitable agreement in the kitchen.
Likewise, even if it becomes clear that she does not behave properly towards others, one must hope that with the help of your blessed influence she will improve. After all, couples continue to advance ethically through mutual assistance and mutual love.
2. It won’t help. You can’t put someone under a microscope using a chance, fleeting test. One has to keep an ongoing watch, and especially to check on his or her behavior in situations of tension and crisis. After all, in most situations we are all sweetness and light. The test comes in crisis. Will you initiate a crisis?!
Yet there’s a much better, alternate solution. That is to ask others who know the candidate inside-out, like teachers or dormitory friends.
That constitutes an immeasurably more objective gauge than what you will see in some joint activity. And anyway, one shouldn’t go out with a girl before first finding out all one can from those who know her. Will you go out with a girl, and after you start to like her, suddenly remember to check out several points and then decide that it’s out of the question? Why cause senseless pain? Why do something wicked?
3. It’s forbidden. True, the intent is not to have fun, but going out with a girl for fun is forbidden, even if that is not the intent. True, Rambam wrote that one should not marry a woman until he sees her, to ensure that he likes her. Yet one cannot go beyond that for the purpose of having pleasure. And even Rambam’s permitting one to see her did not make Ra’avad particularly happy. True, the couple have to talk together to get to know one another and to resolve disagreements, and sometimes long talks are necessary.
But there’s a limit! Dating is not a halachic excuse for having fun.
Moreover, we’re talking here about one unmarried couple going out with another. What license is there to having fun with your friend’s wife or date? That’s already too much!
As far as wanting things to “flow freely”, that’s part of a plague that began recently, i.e., 250-300 years ago, that people became slaves of “flowing freely”.
One is reminded of the story of the philosopher Schopenhauer about the man who went to a masked ball and met a very interesting woman with whom he talked until the middle of the night. Afterwards he said to himself, “Finally I’ve met a woman with whom I can flow freely, a woman with whom I can have deep, personal conversations – not like the morose sourpuss I’m married to.” Yet at midnight, when everyone took their masks off, he saw that it was his wife…
In other words, it’s easy to flow freely. Marriage is about something else.
Responsibility, seriousness, morality, self-sacrifice.