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.