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:
Siyum
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.

Prayer
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.

Smoking
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).

Shidduch
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.

Dating
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).

Tzedakah
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.