Speaking Gently

It is most stressful when Shabbat is approaching and not everything is ready. A man must make sure that three things in his house are ready: "Have you tithed?" – Since if the Terumot and Ma'asrot have not been separated from the food, there is no way to fix it on Shabbat and it is forbidden to eat them on Shabbat. "Have you made an Eiruv?" – One must make an Eiruv to allow carrying in one's courtyard or else it is forbidden to carry and we are trapped. "Light the Shabbat candle" – And if not, it is pitch black (Mishnah Shabbat 2:7).
Our Sages add a provision to these important comments: Even though one must say them, he should say them gently, in order that people will listen (Shabbat 34a).
One must be careful about being overly excited religiously. Do not think that yelling and exerting pressure will yield the desired results. On the contrary, speaking gently is the secret to success.
This is therefore the way to speak to one's wife, and all the more so one's child. An adult is not built to withstand constant yelling. How then can a young child deal with such tension?!
One should certainly educate his child, and certainly point out things to him, but everything depends of how things are said. The words of Sages are heard when said gently (Kohelet 9:17).

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #38-39

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

We have all been saying Kriyat Shema for many years. So we all know the words well. But we need to make sure we really understand what’s happening in Shema. When we say the first verse and then the first parashah of Shema, we are accepting the Yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom. We are saying that we believe in Hashem, love Hashem, and want to be close to Hashem. And that’s really the first thing we need to accomplish. But then we go further in the second paragraph. There we are accepting the Yoke of the Mitzvot. Once we say that we believe in Hashem, we are recognizing that Hashem has things He expects us to do - His Mitzvot. Belief isn’t enough, it must bring us to observance and action.

We say Shema - which is the center of Judaism. We proclaim that Hashem is Our G-d and that He is One. Not only is He the Only G-d, all of the powers that exist in the world come from Him and are ruled by Him. We then quietly say a verse that is not in the Torah - Blessed is His Honored Name, His Kingship is Forever. This shows we don't only accept Hashem in theory, we accept him in fact in our world and forever.
The Midrash teaches us that when Yaakov Avinu knew he was dying, he asked his sons if they would follow Hashem. They answered with the verse Shema Yisrael (Listen, Yisrael – Yaakov's name). Yaakov Avinu was so relieved and happy that his children would follow belief in Hashem that he quietly said "Baruch Shem." Therefore, we say this quietly, too. We also accept Hashem as our G-d.
Hashem wants us to accept Him as our King. It brings Hashem joy to know that we, His children, accept Him as our King. So we need to say "Baruch Shem." But we say it quietly as He doesn't need our acceptance to be King of the Universe. So it is not on the same level as Shema Yisrael, the actual verse in the Torah. Still, it is all part of our stating clearly and forever that we accept Hashem's Kingship.

To Love the Land and to Come Live In It

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

The quotations below are from the concluding discussion after a seminar about moving to Israel, held by the “Kehilot Yisrael” organization, which organizes group Aliyah.
Preparation includes: Personal contact with every Aliyah candidate while still abroad, three preparatory seminars where participants learn Torah sources about the Land of Israel and deal with practical problems, a pilot trip to Israel to look for a place to live and, following Aliyah, the organization accompanies immigrants for the first year, including assistance to children with auxiliary teachers and National Service young women.
– I used to say to myself: “For sure I will move to Israel, but not yet.” Now I say to myself, “If not now, when?” The longer I wait, the harder it will be, and if I don't move to Israel for myself, then I should do it for my children.
– Obviously you've got to prepare for Aliyah, but you shouldn't wait too long.
– I thought a lot and I decided that it's not so impossible. If you really want to, you can solve the problems.
– We've got to do all we can to make the move. Nothing is impossible.
– I came to the seminar with a lot of questions, and I didn't get answers to them all, but when all is said and done, no one is Israel is dying of hunger. No one is sleeping out on the street, and nobody ill goes untreated. It's true. We've got all sorts of real questions, but asking questions can be taken too far. We'll always manage. This is our place, the place G-d gave us.
– I came to the conclusion that the problem is with me. So I'll work on myself and make the move.
– I've got strong motivation to move to Israel, but also some big questions, especially about schools for my kids. Yet when we arrive, the problems will certainly find solutions.
– I'm getting more and more convinced. I'll do my utmost to make Aliyah as soon as possible, and G-d will help me.
– At some point I stopped asking questions. First you've got to decide that you're coming, and you've got to set a date. Then you tackle the problems however it suits you.
– The more time passes, the less questions I have. In two days I've advanced a great deal.
– I've stopped asking. My mind’s in Israel.
– Thank G-d, now I want to make Aliyah. I've finally extricated myself from all sorts of negative ideas I hear all around me.
– I thought the typical immigrant was someone with nothing to lose by coming on Aliyah, a person with work problems and problems with his children's education. But here I've met physicians, engineers, lawyers, who will only gain by staying in the Diaspora. But they're on Aliyah! It was an eye-opener. I had fears, and they've disappeared!
– I’ve had a lot of hardships in life. Compared to them, Aliyah isn't a hardship. Obviously, it isn't easy, but we do what we have to.
– We've got to make Aliyah as fast as we can. We've got to stop with the questions. Otherwise, we'll never come.
– I always thought about Aliyah, but never set a date. Now I've got a date. I'm on the way.
– Group Aliyah is a tried and true approach. You feel you're getting support, and a push forward. I came to this seminar as just a tourist, and gradually our thoughts and feelings have developed and been clarified. Our future is there in Israel. We'll be able to look our children proudly in the eye for our decision.
– Before coming to this seminar, I didn't know what it would involve. Now we've been able to make sense of our thoughts. Something that was stuck has come free.
– Sometimes I tell the Jews in France, “What are you doing here?! Now it's hit home that I'm here too.
– I've got no more questions. I'm impatient to come.
– Earning a living isn't the problem. It's just a matter of making a decision. Once we decide, we'll solve the problems. Others have made Aliyah in worse shape than us. If they did it, we can too.
– There will always be questions. I've to plug my ears not to hear all the people around me who are weakening my motivation. My place is clearly in Israel.
– Thank you! We've coming!
– It's the wise decision. We shall succeed. Our doubts have disappeared.
– If we don't come, we'll miss out on the helping hand G-d is offering us.
- Until now it’s all been theoretical talk. From now on we’re advancing to action.
- I’ve discovered fabulous people here, new friends, friends traveling the same route as I. It’s given me a real push forward. Together, we’ll all succeed.
- The evil gossip about Israel that people talk here is so awful. They tell me that I’m crazy for wanting to make Aliyah. At this seminar everything has been clarified. Until my Aliyah date I’ll close my ears.
- I had a lot of questions. After hearing what was said here, they’ve all disappeared.
- It was my husband who aroused me to Aliyah. Now I’m going to push him with all my might.
- I won’t tell anyone in my circle that I’ve decided on Aliyah, so that they won’t discourage me.
- I’ve decided to move to Israel, and tomorrow I’ll start learning Hebrew.
- Recently I’ve undergone a lot of changes. Without a doubt, it’s for the good of our children.
- We’re on our way there. We’ve just got to solve several small problems. My place is there.
- I’ve received answers to my questions, even the ones I didn’t think to ask.
- Here I’ve met friends I can work together with.
- Thanks to the group. Now I don’t feel alone.
- This has been an exalting experience. I feel like I’ve been born anew. I feel certain of myself. I’ve got nothing to fear. Our Land will protect us.
- All the difficulties are like labor pains. I’m being reborn.

Parashat Pekudei: Do Not Ascend Onto the Mountain – Part 5 of 5

Recorded from two conversations with our Teacher and Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Tau Shlit"a – Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Ha-Mor in Yerushalayim
[Sefer Le-Mikdashech Tuv, pp. 177-187]

Q: Rabbi Yehudah Halevi emphasized that it is not enough to have words but there is also a need for actions.
A: It is impossible to rule in matters relating to the entirety of Israel "off the cuff." This is only given to the great Torah scholars of the generation. All of the awakening [to ascend the Temple Mount] needs to be in a proper fashion according to Jewish law, and not by desecrating the holy by entering with boots into the holy. When Rav Hirschenson suggested building a shul on the Temple Mount, Ha-Rav Kook protested against this idea with full force (Shut Malki Be-Kodesh vol. 4, pg. 3). We also heard many times without end how Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah completely rejected even those closest to him when they came with ideas such as these, and he explained to them that this is a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the entire issue. The view of our Rav [Tzvi Yehudah] was that any touching of the Temple Mount was an impingement on the most precious possession of the community of Israel and was placing a blemish on all that we have done in the building of the Land of Israel. We will not dig with our hands of impurity within the holy.

Q: And we should sit with arms folded when Arabs walk around in the Temple Mount?!
A: We constantly endeavor to exalt ourselves to the point of understanding our Rav [Tzvi Yehudah]. All of his explanations relating to entering the Temple Mount were stated during the desecration of Hashem’s Name by the Arabs walking around there - these are simple words that even a twelve year old child understands. But in order to be exalted to the reasoning of Rav Tzvi Yehudah, there is a need for spiritual exertion. It is incumbent upon us to make Israel into a single being like one man with one heart. As in all realms, the more one draws close to the holy, the more the Nation needs to be united. The Temple Mount is not an individual matter of some avant-garde or pioneers who travel before the camp. The Temple Mount is not a matter of pioneers with mud on their boots, even if they are good people. We should be extremely concerned about [Divine] accusation because of unwholesome prayers which are recited at the Kotel, or all the more so because of prayers recited without proper intent. The book "Yesod Ve-Shoresh Ha-Avodah" describes at length what one should focus on at the time of prayer in order that it will be called a proper prayer, and all the more so in a holy place. When we enter the Temple Mount improperly, we will cause [Divine] accusation and great damage. Rav Tzvi Yehudah never agreed with any rabbi, as important as he may be, who wanted permission to enter the Temple Mount. This was a question that the Nation needed to ask Ha-Rav [Tzvi Yehudah], and only he possessed the mighty aid of Heaven in order to answer. The Kingship of Torah is revealed through him and he rules in Jewish Law in a proper fashion. The entire matter of the Temple Mount only applies when there is unity among the Nation of Israel, prophecy in Israel and one Torah authority in the Nation of Israel. Then the power of nature is different, the aid from Heaven is different.

Q: But it is possible to proceed gradually, like in all matters of the Land of Israel?
A: The Land of Israel and the Temple Mount are "two separate laws." Each generation, its leaders and its Torah authorities, Ha-Rav [Kook] ztz"l and Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah were the two halachic authorities in matters relating to the entirety of Israel who show us the way.

Shut SMS #103

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text messages questions a day! Here's a sample:

Valentine's Day
Q: How should we relate to Valentine's Day?
A: What do we have to do with a gentile, Christian holiday?!

Anti-Semitism and wearing a Kippah
Q: It is permissible NOT to wear a kippah outside of Israel if there is a fear of Anti-Semitism?
A: Yes, to our great distress. But perhaps you can wear a hat.

Q: What is the definition of a Zionist?
A: One who supports our national revival in our State and Land.

Dog Food
Q: Is it permissible to give a dog food which has pork in it?
A: Yes, there is no prohibition of benefiting from pork. It is however forbidden to benefit from milk and meat mixed together.

Q: In theory, if men and women acted properly, would it be possible to eliminate the mechitza in Shul?
A: No. After all, we learn the obligation to have a mechitza in the Temple from the eulogy for the Yetzer Ha-Ra (evil inclination) which will be given in the future, and there is nonetheless a requirement for a mechitza during the eulogy. Sukkah 51-52.

Q: Our tradition says that a Jew who "converts" to another religion remains a Jew. So why doesn't someone who converts to Judaism remain a non-Jew?
A: Because they have a hidden Jewish soul all along.

Rebuking One's Father
Q: My father talks a lot during davening. Should I say something to him?
A: Not during the davening. You should first ask him if he wants to speak with you about it, and you must obviously speak in a respectful manner (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 240:11).

Nursing and Pregnancy
Q: Should I end nursing my baby early in order to hurry to get pregnant again?
A: No. Let him nurse as he requires. It is his turn now.

Ordering from a Caterer for Fewer People
Q: If I know that caterers always give extra food and we always have leftovers when we order, can I slightly decrease the number of people I am ordering for? If I am ordering for 20, can I order for 18, assuming the risk that there will be enough food?
A: One cannot be deceptive. Caterers always provide more food than each person can eat to ensure that there is enough. One cannot then take advantage of them and order for fewer people.

Verse on a Tombstone
Q: Is it permissible to write a verse on a tombstone?
A: Yes.

New Apartment
Q: We want to buy an apartment where the previous owner committed suicide. Could this prevent a blessing from residing in the home?
A: There is no problem.

The Book "Dat Ha-Tziyonut" (The Zionist Religion)
Q: I saw a book called "Dat Ha-Tziyonut" which is full of lies and malicious comments against Torah scholars. I am surprised that Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis do not protest against it.
A: I did not read it since it is forbidden to read such things. But who said that they did not protest? Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef said in response that it is forbidden to speak against Rav Kook who was an angel of Hashem (www.halachayomit.co.il/QuestionDetails.aspx?ID=221). And Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was shocked how the author forfeited his World to Come by shaming Torah scholars. And he made harsher comments which I do not want to mention.

Separate-Gender University
A: Is there a need to separate men and women at a university?
Q: Certainly. Like in America at Yeshiva University.

Mixed Singing for Kiruv
Q: Is it permissible to organize an event for Kiruv with men and women singing together? If not, how can we bring Jews closer to Torah?
A: Kiruv is a great Mitzvah, but we do not fulfill a Mitzvah through performing a transgression. Many Ultra-Orthodox groups are involved with Kiruv without mixed singing. Do your homework to see what they do.

Chabad Minyan
Q: Is it permissible to daven in a Chabad Minyan where they say: "May our master, our teacher, our Rabbi, King Messiah, live forever"?
A: Yes. They are proper and G-d-fearing Jews with many merits.
Q: But they think that a man who died is still alive and that he is the Messiah, which is similar to the Christians?
A: So they are mistaken. Everyone errs. But they are not similar to the Christians, G-d forbid, they are righteous Jews.
Q: Why don't we remove them from the community of Israel as heretics?
A: They are not heretics. Not every mistake is heresy!

Testing a Fetus for Abnormalities: The Responsum which Hangs on Hospital Walls

[Shut She’eilat Shlomo vol.2 #312]

Question: Should older women be counseled to have a prenatal exam to reveal an abnormality with the fetus? If a problem is detected, what benefit is there if it is not permissible to have an abortion? Furthermore, since these exams can endanger the life of the fetus, is it permissible to check if the fetus has an abnormality?
Answer: 1. It is a good idea to have this exam, since either way - if the exam is positive and there is no problem, the pregnancy will continue with calm and contentment for the benefit of the mother and perhaps also for the benefit of the fetus. If, however - G-d forbid, the exam is negative and there is a problem, they can turn to a rabbi and ask him if it is permissible to abort in such a case. If he rules that it is permissible - since there are cases where it is permissible, and indeed abortions have been performed in practice by the rulings of great authorities - the parents can responsibly decide what they want to do. If they decide to keep the child, it will be out of free will, and they will accept him lovingly with a full heart, and they will raise him lovingly with a full heart.
2. Regarding man interfering with Hashem’s actions, there is absolutely no interference here. Everything is included in the light of Hashem which illuminates the path of the
scientific intellect of man, which acts in a manner permissible according to the word of Hashem, which was revealed to us by Moshe Rabbenu. If this were not so, all medicine and all science in general, would be invalid. And on the contrary, wisdom gives strength to the wise man.
3. Regarding the claim which is heard against abortion being permitted according to Halachah, that it prevents a soul from entering the world, we do not engage in the hidden in order to
decide Halachah.. On the contrary, the Halachah must be decided according to what is revealed to us and our children for eternity, and anything which is intended by the Halachah is in any case intended by the secrets of the Torah which are more hidden. If according to Halachah there is room to perform an abortion, we rely and trust that this soul will find a correction in other ways and the hand of Hashem will not shorten.
4. Regarding the test being dangerous, besides the fact that there are tests which are devoid of any danger, such as blood tests; according to Halachah, it is permissible to enter into a
remote chance of danger when there is a need, such as making a living - engaging in a profession which has a certain danger involved in it or for a mitzvah. Endangering oneself in a minimal way is called as “an infrequent damage” in Halachah. This is the law in our case, since giving birth to a disabled baby can sometimes destroy an entire family, and all the more so when we are discussing the danger of a fetus which is yet to be born.
We must certainly clarify, however, if it is permissible to have a test with a minimal chance of danger. It does not make sense to enter into details here, since Blessed be Hashem,
science continues to advance, and in each individual case, one must take counsel with a G-d-fearing doctor and with an halachic authority.
5. The last is the most precious. The reality is that many women, who are not young, refrain from becoming pregnant, even though they very much have such a desire, because of a
fear of giving birth to a disabled baby, and they live with a broken heart. When an halachic authority permits, and even encourages them, to arrange a prenatal exam, and also promises that in the case of a problem, G-d forbid, he will stand by their side in finding an halachic solution with responsible thought given to the effects on the family, this will take a huge burden off of their heart, and they will give birth to more children who will fill their lives with joy and happiness, and add more servants to the world for the sake of increasing the sanctification of Hashem's Great Name.

Rav Aviner's Responsum which Hangs on Hospital Walls
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Rabbi of Har Beracha, in his book “Penini Halachah" (volume 3 p. 221) writes, “A few years ago Ha-Rav Aviner published a responsum, in which he encourages older women to test their amniotic fluid, so that if their fetus is sick, they can take counsel with a rabbi, and decide if they will follow the strict or lenient position [regarding abortion]. They hung this responsum in various hospitals. And in its merit, a not insignificant number of women, approximately in their forties, who had earlier feared becoming pregnant, lest they gave birth to a sick baby, dared to become pregnant, and may there be more like this in Israel.”

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #36-37

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

In the blessing of Ahava Rabba (Ahavat Olam in Nusach Sefard), we ask Hashem to gather us from the four corners of the earth and bring us upright and proud to our Land. This is how Hashem will give us blessing and peace from all corners of the earth - when He brings Klal Yisrael from all over to Eretz Yisrael. And all of us want be able to go to our true home - Eretz Yisrael. It is interesting to note that we don’t just ask for all Jews to go home, we ask for Hashem to bring us there upright and proud. Just as we did when we left Egypt in the bright sunlight of day, proudly marching towards Eretz Yisrael, we ask that the Jewish People today not have to flee for their lives. We ask to proudly go to our Land. We are blessed to live in a time when most Jews in the world are able to do just that. We don’t have to run away. We have to run towards our true home.

In the blessing of Ahava Rabba, we learn about Hashem’s great love for us. We say he has a great love for us. At the end of the blessing, we say that "He chooses His Nation of Israel with love". Notice that "chooses" is in the present tense. He chooses His Nation Israel with love. He chooses us constantly to be His Nation. This great love that He has for us lasts forever and will never go away. This is an important reminder to us about Ahavat Yisrael. Since Hashem has a great love for every Jew and for the entire Jewish People, we must have that same great love. Sometimes it’s not so easy. People may annoy us or upset us in minor or major ways. But we want Hashem to love us even when we’re not perfect. So we want to love all Jews in the same way that Hashem does.

How Can We Renew Ourselves?

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

I was asked how we can renew ourselves in the coming year in our communities. What should we be doing? What point needs strengthening? What should be advanced?
Obviously we must fulfill the entire Torah, as it says, “We will do and obey all that G-d has declared” (Shemot 24:7). Moreover, Radbaz in a responsum objects to establishing “main tenets of faith”, since everything is a main tenet. All the same, there is room for main tenets, as Maran Ha-Rav Kook explained in his article “Ikarim” [Main Tenets], for when a person is healthy, the doctor treats all his organs, but when he is at death’s door, we do what we can to save the essence. Similarly, the end of Tractate Makkot explains about great Torah figures who established a limited number of principles to encapsulate the Torah.
It is thus obvious that these foundations will not be changing every year. Rather, they have to remain fixed down through the years, for only contiguity has the power to have an influence. As Maharal teaches, what has an influence is the unchanging method, not the transient.
For that same reason, the required method is not sectarian. It is not tied to a particular community. Otherwise, it would lose its main strength, which is association with the entire
Jewish People. Rather, it has to include the entire Nation that we belong to. That method was isolated in the book “Orot” by Maran Ha-Rav Kook, and was well-explained by Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda, and that method is: love and faith – the love of every Jew and faith in G-d, with love preceding faith.
Love of Israel, love of all Jews, those close and those far removed, those similar and those different, loving one’s family, community and Nation, one’s spouse, parents, children and neighbors, loving the religious and the irreligious alike, the right wing and the left, the Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Yemenites, and Ethiopians, those we agree with and those we disagree with, those whose ideas we combat or don’t combat. Such love does not just involve
emotion but profound intellect, intellect that discerns that what unites us is infinitely greater
than what divides us. Such love involves a moral process of purification whereby exaltation
transcends egotism and individualism and excess, subjective, exaggerated self-love.
Love. Love! That is the word and that is the cure.
Faith in G-d means clinging to G-d, belonging to G-d, and believing that all that G-d does is good, even if we do not understand it. It means believing that the Jewish State was an act of G-d, that the government and the army are good, despite their many shortcomings. It means believing that Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth. It means believing that every word of the Written and Oral Torah is true, and provides us with life and happiness. It means believing that the content of our lives is to serve G-d, whether through the mitzvot involving our relationship with G-d, or those involving our relationship with man. It means believing that it is our job to sanctify our lives for the service of our Creator, to increase G-d’s glory and to sanctify His name.

Parashat Vayakel: Do Not Ascend Onto the Mountain – Part 4

Recorded from two conversations with our Teacher and Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Tau Shlit"a – Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Ha-Mor in Yerushalayim
[Sefer Le-Mikdashech Tuv, pp. 177-187]

Q: We are Zionists in matters of the Land of Israel, but "Satmar" (who are intensely anti-Zionists) in matters of the Temple Mount.
A: We have a Rav (Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook) who showed us the way. In matters relating to the Land of Israel, we also do not rule for ourselves. We have a Rav and we have a path. It is impossible to accept the Rav in one matter and reject him in another. As forceful as Ha-Rav [Kook] ztz"l was in matters of the Land of Israel, he cautioned that in this point one must not touch [the Temple Mount]. When an important person of great merits in building the Land entered the Temple Mount on account of some scheme which he though permitted it, Ha-Rav [Kook] ztz"l wrote: "One infringement on the holiness of the site of ‘The House of Our Lives,’ will counteract for us the myriad of physical settlements [we are building elsewhere in the Land of Israel]" (Igrot Ha-Re’eiyah vol. 2, 285).

Q: But that person entered really close to the site of the Temple, we are only talking about entering the Temple Mount within the wall and not within the Courtyard?
A: But we said that Rav Salant and Ha-Rav [Kook] ztz"l refrained from putting their fingers [into the Kotel]! With whom are we arguing?!

Q: Are we discussing the basic law, or a pious act?
A: This was a clear ruling, large-size announcements from the Chief Rabbinate were hung in Yeshivat Mercaz Ha-Rav. This is not the way. All of this issue of prayer in the "Machkameh" is distancing us from the Temple Mount and destroying its essential value. It is preferable to use this energy to establish more towns and settlements.

Q: Don't the settlements do damage because they do not act in a proper fashion towards the site of the Temple?
A: The settlements damage because we did not explain and did not arouse the Nation. Similarly, we should certainly arouse for the issue of the Temple Mount by means of tours, conferences and days of study.

Q: But this also needs to be built on an "awakening from below" (a Kabbalistic concept which means that it is sometimes possible for humans on Earth to take an action which prompts Hashem to react from above).
A: The "awakening from below" is to exalt the Nation in order for us to be at a proper level, in order that we will arrive in unity, so we can have one Kingship, to reestablish Semichah (Rabbinic ordination which originated from Moshe Rabbenu and was lost under Roman oppression) and to learn the issues of sacrifices and issues of prophecy.

[To be concluded next week, B"H]

Shut SMS #102

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text messages questions a day! Here's a sample:

Suit and Hat
Q: Is one obligated to wear a suit and a hat?
A: It is enough to wear respectful clothing based on the time and place in which you live (see Shut She'eilat Shlomo 2:232-233).

Broken Utensils
Q: It is written somewhere that eating from broken utensils causes forgetfulness. Where is it? Should we be concerned about this?
A: Kaf Ha-Chaim, siman 2. It is a minority opinion. There is therefore no reason to be concerned.

Pre-Natal Testing
Q: Should one have pre-natal testing or is it preferable to trust in Hashem?
A: Trusting in Hashem is only where Hashem explicitly informed you that He will take care of you without you having to exert any effort. He did not say such a thing in this area, and He commanded that one should follow the instructions of doctors (see Rabbi Avraham ben Ha-Rambam, Ha-Maspik Le-Ovdei Hashem, Sha'ar Ha-Bitachon. Kovetz Teshuvot of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv vol. 1).

Meat and Milk to Children
Q: At what age must a child wait 6 hours between meat and milk?
A: Gradually, according to his ability (Shut Yabia Omer vol. 1 Yoreh Deah #4).

Lecture in a Shul
Q: Is it permissible to have a lecture on a secular subject in a Shul?
A: No. It is only permissible to have Torah lectures. During the time of the Holocaust, when it was only possible to gather in shuls, the "Seridei Aish" permitted secular lectures with the purpose of strengthening people’s hearts and preventing them from going to the Reform Temples. He stipulated, however, that 1. the lecturer be G-d-fearing 2. that he begins with Divrei Torah or Tehillim 3. that there be no arguments, and 4. that they be held only during pressing circumstances. Shut Seridei Aish (1:16-17).

Q: If one does not see the lightning itself but only its light, should he recite the blessing?
A: Yes. Piskei Teshuvot (227:3).

Fathers and Diapers
Q: Is it permissible for a father to change his daughter's diaper?
A: There is no problem.

Q: If someone broke an object of mine which is only available outside of Israel, is he obligated to travel there to replace it?
A: No. He has to pay its cost here.

Lengthening a Class
Q: Is it permissible for a teacher to lengthen a class which takes away from the break?
A: Everything is dependent on the school's rules.

Swallowing Blood
Q: My tooth fell out and I have blood in my mouth. Is it permissible to swallow the blood?
A: Yes. It is forbidden to eat blood because of "Marit Ayin". Therefore, it is permissible if it remains in one's mouth.

Woman Driver
Q: Is it permissible for a woman to drive a car?
A: Yes.

Spaying Cats
Q: Is it permissible to spay cats?
A: No. It is a Torah prohibition. But spaying a female cat is a Rabbinic prohibition and is permissible if done by a non-Jew. The same applies to a female dog (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 4:262).

Ultra-Orthodox and Army Service
Q: Why don't the Ultra-Orthodox serve in Tzahal?
A: They are good and righteous people, but they err in this area.

Blessing on Uniform
Q: Does one recite a blessing on being drafted into Tzahal? On the uniform?
A: Yes. One Shehechiyanu on both of them (Mei-Chayil El Chayil vol. 1 p. 320).

Q: I saw a movie which compared Herzl and secular Zionists to Anti-Semites and Nazis. How should I relate to it?
A: I don't understand how one can ask a question like this. It is clear that this is horrendous. It is a film of partial, incorrect quotes.

Q: Is it permissible, an obligation, or forbidden for a bodyguard of the Prime Minister to jump on him to be killed in his place?
A: It is permissible for him to sacrifice his life in order to save the Prime Minister. Hagahot Maimoniyot in the name of the Yerushalmi (Beit Yosef, Choshen Mishpat 426).

Wicked Father
Q: Am I obligated to honor my father, who disgraces and hits my mother?
A: There is a dispute whether one is obligated to honor an evil parent. Honor him to the best of your ability (Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Yoreh Deah 240:18).

Parashat Ki Tisa: Do Not Ascend Onto the Mountain – Part 3

Recorded from two conversations with our Teacher and Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Tau Shlit"a – Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Ha-Mor in Yerushalayim
[Sefer Le-Mikdashech Tuv, pp. 177-187]

Q: This is similar to the words of the Sefer Ha-Chinuch against those who teach that we are not suitable for the Mitzvah of Tefillin (Mitzvah #421)!
A: The Temple Mount is a completely different level than Tefillin. Baseless hatred is what destroyed the Temple Mount (Yoma 9b), and this is the level of correction which is required.

Q: "You shall seek out His Presence and come there" (Devarim 12:5)!
A: By igniting a thirst for it and expanding the understanding of what it is.

Q: The Sforno explains: For prostration.
A: Until the Kotel. For our generation until the Kotel. Are we more righteous than Maran Ha-Rav Kook who would not even place fingers between the stones of the Kotel? The great Torah authorities in earlier generations did not allow approaching there. In order to permit entering the Temple Mount one needs very broad shoulders. No rabbi can argue with Ha-Rav [Kook] ztz"l regarding this issue, any time in which he does not have the authority to rule in matters relating to the entirety of Israel. And the natural holiness of the Nation must be revealed and only then may they approach the Temple Mount.

Q: If we follow this logic we also deny Zionism?
A: Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher held that we may enter the Temple Mount, but Rav David of Karlin argued with him (She’eilat David, Kuntres Derishat Tzion Virushalayim). Ha-Rav [Kook] ztz"l disagreed (with Rav Kalisher) and this did not prevent him from being a great Zionist and waging war for the settlement of the Land of Israel - but only until the Temple Mount ("Committee of Investigation. Testimony of the Chief Rabbi Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook." Yerushalayim 5689 [1929]). This was not in order to reject the claims of the British, but rather because this is what he really held, as he mentions in various places (Shut Mishpat Cohain #96). This is an essential matter in faith to understand the difference between the Nation of Israel on the level of the Temple and the Nation of Israel now. One who does not differentiate between the two, minimizes the entire issue and lowers himself to the level of kindergarten.
We do not currently stand before the building of the return of the Second Temple, like one Torah scholar stated, rather before the Third Temple, which is more supreme. Before all else prophecy needs to appear in Israel (She’eilat David, Kuntres Derishat Tzion Virushalayim) and afterwards we may approach the Temple Mount. Prophecy is not a peripheral condition which can be circumvented. And there is also the requirement of a King (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 1:3).

Q: There wasn't a King during the Second Temple?
A: This was a unique temporary ruling (She’eilat David, Kuntres Derishat Tzion Virushalayim). We are currently before the Third Temple. Kingship is a completely different level of the Nation of Israel. And so too a world which contains prophecy within it is a completely different world. If we are lacking a King or Prophet, we are not lacking a detail, rather this is a completely different level of the entire character of the Nation of Israel, a different environment, a different generation, different concepts…

Q: All of this is true relating to the Temple, but does this also relate to the Temple Mount?
A: This is also true relating to the Temple Mount. Both of them are a completely different world of ours. We are not suitable. This is not the way. Building now would be a building of children which will bring destruction (Megillah 31b). All of the authorities established that we are not suitable and there is a need to distance ourselves. It is currently not possible to argue on all of the generations which refrained from entering.

Q: The Nation of Israel was then in Exile without the possibility of approaching.
A: The Rabbis of Yerushalayim, Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin and Rav Shmuel Salant, also refrained.

Q: They were not able to approach because of the non-Jewish authority.
A: But there were Rabbis who ruled that one should not place our fingers into the Kotel. And there were those who stood at a distance of a hundred meters from the Kotel because of the concern of the position of the Radvaz (that the Kotel is the wall of the Temple Courtyard). By way of their distancing, they drew close. Ha-Rav from Brisk who stood at a distance was certainly closer than one who prays in the "Machkameh" (court building which is located on the Temple Mount) and he infused within the Nation more love, recognition and claim to the Temple Mount.

[To be continued next week, B"H]


Do not set a trap for your child. What does this mean? Do not forbid him to do something which you know from the outset he cannot withstand, and then punish him for it. And even if you do not punish him, it will create within him a guilty conscience and unpleasant feelings that he was not able to meet the expectations. Even our Sages did not enact decrees which the community could not properly observe. And even Hashem did not command us in His Torah to do anything beyond our capacity. And He does not send anyone a trial if he does not have the capacity to withstand it. Everything is thus dependent on a person's free choice.
But a young child possesses a limited amount of free choice. He should therefore not be tested. It is true that a test builds a person's character but a person experiences enough natural tests from the world around him, and he doesn't always withstand those.
A parent's role is then to comfort him and help him digest his failure in order to transmit to him: My dear child, failures occur in life, but regardless, I love you.

Exceptions for Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisrael

Q: Concerning the obligation to live in Israel, are there exceptions for Rabbis serving Diaspora communities?
A: Yes, temporarily.
Q: Chazanim serving Diaspora communities?
A: ibid.
Q: People who help Diaspora Jews make Aliya (e.g. Jewish Agency personnel)?
A: ibid.
Q: People who do important work for the State of Israel (e.g. diplomats)?
A: ibid.
Q: If someone is exempted, are his wife and younger children also exempted so that they can live with him?
A: Yes. This is all called to the sake of a Mitzvah for which it is permitted temporarily. Tosafot on Avodah Zarah 13a.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #34-35

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

In Barchu the Chazan says "Bless Hashem, the blessed One" and we respond "Blessed is Hashem, the blessed One, for all eternity". The Gemara says that the one who answers is greater than the one that makes the blessing. What's going on here? When we pray as an individual, it is just ourselves. But when we are joined with others, we clearly become part of Klal Yisrael. So our prayers have more importance and strength. So in Barchu the Chazan gathers together a bunch of individuals and we become a strong community. And notice when we respond, we say Hashem should be blessed forever. This connects us with every Jew forever and ever. So once again our Tefillot go beyond ourselves and join with the rest of Klal Yisrael.

The first blessing before Kriyat Shema blesses Hashem who created everything in nature. We also say that He creates both the light and the dark. We know that Hashem loves us and takes care of us, which means everything is for the good, even if we don’t always see or understand why something is good. So the darkness, both at night time and the darkness that can sometimes happen in our lives, is eventually for the good as it’s all from Hashem. We are not like some of the ancient people who believed in a good god and a bad god. Hashem is One and everything He does is for the good, even if it takes us a very long time to see it.

And in My Dream I am in a Church...

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

… And in my dream, I am in a Christian church, a majestically adorned church, but I feel like I am suffocating. The smell of blood rises in my nostrils, Jewish blood spilt down through the generations, the blood of murders and torture, forced conversions and expulsions. I smell an awful stench. I want to flee, but I am frozen in place. Suddenly I see representatives of Jewish religious and Charedi organizations coming in, yeshiva directors and prominent rabbis. I rub my eyes. I cannot believe what I am seeing. It’s an awful nightmare. I pinch myself to wake up, but I am still here.
All the representatives and all the rabbis sit smiling and self-satisfied. They must certainly have been forced to come here. I remember that during black periods of our history we were forced to sit in churches and to listen to the priests preaching to us. Yet how did we end up back in a church? Don’t we have our own State? Apparently, you don’t questions about a nightmare.
And now the choir is starting to sing. I don’t understand a word of the Christian verbiage, but it doesn’t interest me. It sears through my brain and makes my head spin. Then a Christian minister steps up to the pulpit and starts to speak. He says: “I am the head of this church, Pastor John Hagee. Welcome to the Corner Stone Church following our three days of Christian celebrations. I am pleased about the privilege that has come my way to grant every one of you a religious contribution from the Evangelical Christians, to each of you up to a million dollars.”
What!? Shall we accept a contribution from the non-Jews? What?! Are we beggars? Schnorrers? It’s forbidden to accept public gifts of money from non-Jews! (Rambam, Matanot Aniyim 8:9. Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 254:8). And here this is happening with a live broadcast!
And if it’s exclusively for Jews, that is even worse. (ibid. 254:16). I am ashamed! What a nightmare! And now, a Jewish representative is stepping forward… for all the cameras to see, and he is accepting an enormous check made of poster board, a meter long, and all the cameras are flashing! I don’t understand! After all, the Chief Rabbinate prohibited accepting money from Christians… And here is still another representative… How did we dare enter a Christian church? It’s forbidden to enter! (Chochmat Adam 84:16. Birkat Yosef on Yoreh Deah 145:15. Shut Yabia Omer vol. 2 Yoreh Deah #11). And still another representative… I
can’t believe it. Look who else has come in!
Surely Rambam writes that it is forbidden to pass through a city in which there is idolatry, let
alone to live there. Yet we have no choice, and we are the living fulfillment of, “There you will serve man-made gods of wood and stone” (Devarim 4:28) (Perush HaMishnayot Avoda Zara 11). And once again… a well-known representative… It cannot be that that prominent Chassidic sect is generating influence and dependency on Christianity. Heaven help us! What a great temptation money creates! Bribes blind the wise men’s eyes!
I see the ___ Institution stepping forward, and I am despondent. This strengthens the status of the Christians in Israel. Precisely because of their money, the law we wanted to pass against missionizing has failed several times.
And now the ____ institution! Surely Ha-Gaon Rav Mordechai Eliyahu forbade accepting Christian money, as did Ha-Gaon Rav Avraham Shapira, Ha-Gaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Ha-Gaon Rav Asher Weiss, Ha-Gaon Rav Ovadia Yosef and many more.
And the ___ yeshiva! Oh no! Have you forgotten that the Jerusalem “Badatz” Rabbinical court forbade this, as did the rabbinical court of Chabad? True… true… it’s just a dream.
I then remembered Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Chassid, who said, “A priest owed a Jew money, and the priest knew that the Jew would not follow him into the church. So, when the Jew came to demand his money, the priest went into his church, and the Jew did not wish to follow him inside.” (Sefer Chasidim 60:435). Yet here the Jews are, coming to the church for money!
And the X organization as well! Maybe they never heard the following story from Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Chassid? “A Jew went into a house of idolatry, and then felt contrite. He asked an elderly sage to instruct him what to do to repent. The sage asked what day he had gone inside, and the Jew told him. The sage responded, ‘Fast on that date every year.’ And the Jew did so.” (Sefer Chasidim). We can hope that those Jews in the dream will pray.
Yeshivat X is stepping forward! What about our souls? Yes, of course, another quotation from Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Chassid: “A Jew walked in the courtyard of a house of idolatry. When he left, he heard a Divine voice say, ‘You have cast Me behind your back’ (Melachim 1 14:9), and he fasted all his life” (Sefer Chasidim, ibid.).
The Jewish-Christian Center in ___. That’s no surprise… but why should there be such a center in the Holy City?…
The Reform Movement’s ___ School. All right, they’re “Reformed”, but they’re still Jews. They’re our brethren, and not Christians. Heaven help us! Don’t they understand that the very fact of accepting Christian money increases their stature in our country?
There are even rabbis who are hugging that pastor, and all this for a million dollars. How great the power of money!
Now they’re starting to sing: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together.” No! You are not my brothers! First ask forgiveness for murdering my ancestors, body and soul. I don’t know how you will be able to atone for that. Come to me in my Land, discreetly, and ask forgiveness, and then we’ll talk.
Oy! How great the power of money! Don’t all these wretched souls understand that accepting money from Christians undermines the opposition of weak-souled Jews to accepting Jesus the Christian? Where is our self-respect?
Quick! Let’s escape from this nightmare! An idol has been brought into the sanctuary!
It’s the Money Crusade!
But it’s no dream! It’s the reality! (The entire episode can be seen on the Internet at http://www.kr8.co.il/BRPortal/br/P102.jsp?arc=109447). Obviously, I am not there, G-d forbid. Run away fast! I am getting out of this nightmare and going back to my own dream, our own dream: “When the G-d restores the fortunes of Zion, we shall be as dreamers” (Tehilim 126:1)…. “Our feet stood inside your gates, Jerusalem” (ibid. 122:2).
I am sitting in our yeshiva, “Ateret Yerushalayim”, and I remember a gentleman who came to visit us thirty years ago, and here is approximately what he asked me: “I represent many Evangelists, and we would like to advance the construction of the Temple. I am therefore coming to you because your yeshiva is the closest to the site of the Temple. Are you preparing the construction of the Temple? You’re not… Well… you say that through Torah study and observance of the commandments, good character and the fear of G-d, one can bring the Temple’s construction nearer?.... Fine… So we would like to help you. In America we’ve got fifty million Evangelists. I will collect just one dollar a year from each of them, so that you’ll receive fifty million dollars a year until the Temple’s construction is completed. That is my offer. Do you agree?
Do you know what I answered him? Just one word. “No!”

Shut SMS #102

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner answers hundreds of text messages questions a day! Here's a sample:
Security Guard on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible for me to work as a security guard on Shabbat?
A: Yes, just as it is for the army and police.

Q: Is it permissible to believe that aliens exist?
A: It is permissible, since it is not sanctioned or opposed by the Torah. There has yet to be any scientific proof, however, that they exist.

Hitting a Friend
Q: Is it permissible for me to hit a friend who watches inappropriate TV programs?
A: Certainly not. Hitting is also a transgression. Rather have a heart-to-heart talk with him.

Soldier and Marriage
Q: Is it worthwhile for a soldier to get married?
A: It is not recommended that he serves in a combat unit during the first year of marriage, since his young, newly-wed wife will be left alone and will also be worried. As much as possible, one should spend time with his wife during the first year.

American Money
Q: Is it correct to say that we are dependent on American Jewry, since they donate money to us?
A: They give us 300 million dollars a year, which is equivalent to a half-day of Israel’s gross national product (200 billion dollars). It is therefore negligible.

Shabbat Shalom or Gut Shabbos
Q: It is better to say Shabbat Shalom or Gut Shabbos?
A: Our language is certainly Hebrew and not German and not even Yiddish.

Shabbat Shalom on Shabbat Afternoon
Q: I heard that one should not say Shabbat Shalom on Shabbat afternoon since Yosef, Moshe and David died on Shabbat afternoon?
A: One should certainly say Shabbat Shalom, and with a big smile (Ha-Rav Avigdor Neventzal wrote in Yerushalayim Be-Moadeha – Shabbat [vol. 2, p. 196] that some refrain from saying it since Moshe died at that time, and those who refrain do so from noontime onward. And in Derech Sichah [vol. 1, p. 271], Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski relates that his father, the "Steipler", refrained from saying Shabbat Shalom in the afternoon, since the Zohar says that these three righteous men died on Shabbat afternoon, and those who refrain do so from Minchah Ketana).

Cake with Letters
Q: Is it permissible on Shabbat to eat a cake with letters, c.f., "Happy Birthday"?
A: You should cut in between the words; some are strict to cut in between the letters. Shemirat Shabbat Ke-Hilchata (11:7-8).

National Service
Q: Is it recommended for a young woman to perform National Service for one or two years?
A: It is preferable to perform it for one year in order not to push off marriage.

Refusing Orders
Q: When should one refuse orders regarding evacuating settlements and when should one comply?
A: The very fact of this discussion causes great damage and paves the way for destroying settlements. Rather we should dedicate our time to thinking about how to protect our entire Land and not about the particular problem of the soldier. It is similar to having a dispute whether we are obligated to participate in the burial of a sick person instead of trying to heal him.

Tooth which falls out on Shabbat
Q: Is a tooth which falls out on Shabbat muktze?
A: Yes. It is not useful for any purpose. And so too hair which falls out. They should be moved with a "shinu'i" (in an unusual way).

Q: Is it permissible to read the Koran?
A: No. It contains heresy. For example, that the Torah was replaced. And it is forbidden to read heresy. Rambam, Avodah Zarah 2:2.
Q: Is it permissible to bring a Koran into the bathroom?
A: No. It also contains correct teachings about faith.

Women and 100 Blessings
Q: Are women obligated to recite 100 blessings a day as are men?
A: No. Shevet Ha-Levi (5:23).

Bar Mitzvah in Adar
Q: If a boy was born in Adar in a non-leap year, when does he celebrate his Bar Mitzvah if it is a leap year?
A: In the Second Adar which is the actual Adar, since the First Adar is the additional one (Rama Orach Chaim 55:10).

Q: Can amulets heal?
A: There are amulets with value and amulets which are worthless. In our time, amulets do not have value.

Q: How should I respond to a secular person who asks where was Hashem during the Holocaust?
A: I do not know how to respond to this question in a text message. Therefore, ask someone who can answer in a text message or read my book on the topic. I feel, however, that even after reading the book you will not know how to respond. It is a secret of Hashem.

Don't Pressure

Do not pressure a young kid under the age of six. Do not pressure him physically by having him carry things which are too heavy since he is weak, and do not pressure him emotionally, since he is also weak in this realm. If we do so, he will be placed in a stressful situation from which no benefit will come.
Do not punish him. Punishment at this age has no benefit, and on the contrary, can cause damage. The reason being is that a young child does not possess the power to properly understand the punishments. He is unable to transform them into a positive factor for building his character. Just the opposite, the punishment causes him distress and destroys his self-confidence.
Punishment is not designed to cause pain, but to serve as a medium to explain to a child: You did something wrong, you did not act correctly. If a child is sitting on the window ledge and might fall, we can act severely with him in order to teach him not to do that again, even if it causes emotional damage, since it is a life-threatening situation. But if he spills soup on the floor, dealing with him severely will not teach him to be neat.
After all, a young child does not have that much intellectual control, but is largely an emotional being. We must take this into account, and realize that there are many other ways to educate him.

Folding One's Talit on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Question: Is it permissible, after davening on Shabbat and Yom Tov, to fold one's Talit, the way it is done on weekdays?
Answer: It is forbidden to fold the same way as on a weekday (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:91). The Talit should be folded either outside the folds or backwards.

Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #32-33

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

At the end of Psukei De-Zimra, we say Yishtabach. It’s the end of an important part of Tefilah, so it’s an important summary. There are those who say it was written by Shlomo Ha-Melech as we see the letters "Shlomo" at the beginning of "Shimcha La-Ad Malkenu Ha-Kel Ha-Melech". Some say Avraham Avinu wrote the second half as we see the letters "Avraham" at the beginning of "Adon, Borei, Ribon, Ha-Bocher, Melech". Why is this important? We see that this is an extremely old prayer. All of our prayers in the Siddur were written by great people. And certainly we have to give respect to all of them. And when we see a Tefilah that may have been written by Avraham or Shlomo, we are reminded just how amazing our Tefillot are and how we need to honor and respect them.

At the end of Yishtabach we say again say that Hashem is our great and praise worthy King. We say He is the only King and He alone lives forever. And we say He is the One who chooses "Shirei Zimra". What is the difference between "Shira" and "Zimra" – two words which mean "song"? "Shira" is when we serve Hashem with our minds. The entire Torah is called a "Shira." It is more national and applies to the whole world and to great ideas. "Zimra" is when we serve Him with our feelings. It is more individual, as I am expressing the feelings that I have. So which does Hashem want? He wants both. We are to serve Him with our feelings, our thoughts, our minds - both as individuals and as part of the Jewish Nation. Everything is to be focused on serving Hashem.

Refusing Orders, etc

[Be-Ahava U-Be-Emuna – Teruma 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: Following our brief conversation, I see myself obligated to make clearer my position about my being in favor of refusing orders. It’s not to solve my personal problem. My own problem can be solved by making a polite request of my commander, and he will help me out. Rather, for me this is a matter of principle, a political tool to fight against this corrupt army and the corrupt state that stands behind it. Yes, I say this with great certainty, but with great pain as well. Everything is rotten, unfortunately, and it can no longer be rectified. Therefore, the faster it is destroyed, the faster it will be rebuilt upright and pure. Refusing orders is just the tip of the iceberg. I have no faith in this country or in the people that dwells in Zion. True, I am talking only on my own behalf, and I don’t represent anyone, but I am certain that I am serving as a mouthpiece for others like me. Please don’t respond with quotations from Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook or Chief Rabbi Kook – they should rest in peace – regarding the Jewish People. I feel no attachment to Chief Rabbi Kook, I’m no disciple of Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda, and as far as the Jewish People, I don’t know what that is. I agree, unwillingly, that our lives are a partnership here, but I shall continue pulling as much as I can in the direction of the Torah, and against the degeneration that is going on from day to day. And altogether, I didn’t write to get an answer, but so that you would listen to what I have to say.
Answer: Thanks a lot. I, too, am going to tell you what I think, not to convince you, but to prevent misunderstanding. I don’t see myself in any sort of partnership. A partner has a part that is his, alone, and he’s allowed to insist on having his way with it. And anyway, in a partnership each partner is entitled to stop changes in the arrangement, even if he is in the
Rather, I see myself as part of the people, and our master Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote in Mishpat Kohen that one should not confuse an aggregate with a partnership. An aggregate is like a body with organs, all of which are vital. All together constitute a single vital whole, whereas a partnership is a collection of individuals like a joint venture, like a large insurance company. Thus, all Israel is responsible for one another. They suffer from one another, enjoy one another, in the same way that all the body’s organs constitute a single organism, as Malbim explained, and they are not like a worm, made of individual, independent vertebrae.
The ones who decide what happens in this country are the people, because it is the people who built it. It is the people that returned to Zion, who established the State and who liberated Judea and Samaria. These areas do not belong to you personally, but to the people. This Land belongs to the people, even the people down through the generations, and it is the people that decide things. I am one of the people, and everything I do in this Land, I do together with them, my being one of them, as I said, and “I live among my people” (Melachim 2 4:13), as is explained many times in the Zohar on this verse.
I am not always pleased with what my people do – generally yes, but not always. Certainly there are different spiritual levels within the people, in line with Rabbi Luria’s comment that “Tzibur” [community] is an acronym for TZaddikim [righteous], Benonim [middle level] and Resha’im [wicked]. Yet all of them are levels within the people – my people.
In the exile, we were a collection of individuals, and in the best instance, communities. Yet our lives as a people disappeared, and now they are slowly coming back. This is what died in Yechezkel’s prophetic vision of the dried bones, this is what died in the rot described by the Vilna Gaon in his Likutim at the end of his “Sifra DeTzeni’uta”. And this is what is now
coming to life. We have resumed being a people, and the greatest expression of that peoplehood is our country and our army.
I therefore try to fulfill, “I live among my people”, and not to fulfill, “‘They have gone from here’ – they removed themselves from brotherhood” (Bereshit 37:17 and Rashi).
I love my people greatly, even in the most problematic of times, as is explained at the end of Chapter 19 of Mesillat Yesharim. I am always together with my people, both when they rise up, and when they fall.
It’s true that we’ve got a lot of shortcomings to our public life, yet we are still rising to rebirth as a Nation. This is a Divine decision, and no human calculation can change it.
Everything will heal. Patience. It will come thanks to me a bit, and thanks to you a bit.
All of us together.

Parashat Tetzave: Do Not Ascend Onto the Mountain – Part 2

Recorded from two conversations with our Teacher and Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Tau Shlit"a – Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Ha-Mor in Yerushalayim
[Sefer Le-Mikdashech Tuv, pp. 177-187]

Second Conversation
Q: "Even them will I bring to My Holy Mountain, and make them joyful in My House of Prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on My altar" (Yeshaya 56:7). This is the order: My Holy Mountain - My House of Prayer - the Temple. There is therefore great value for prayer in this place, and – in contrast to this - a great [Divine] accusation comes if we do not remember this idea, at the very least on special days. The Holy One, Blessed be He, comes there and does not find a minyan! The Ramban (on the Torah - Bamidbar 16:21) quotes the words of our Sages that because the Jewish People did not request the Temple in the time of David, there was a plague. David himself, however, certainly desired it, but the simple Jews also need to come with this demand. Therefore, when the Nation of Israel is in distress, the Temple Mount is the place of correction.
A: We need to bring the Nation to this spiritual level, and the ascent of individuals onto the Temple Mount does not bring the Nation closer. We need to prepare the Nation for the awe of the Temple. This is all part of the slow process of building the Nation of Israel and the building of the spirit in the Nation. Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook ztz"l taught us that any time that we are not suitable and connected to this level, the path of jumping ahead, digging and even halachic research, will not bring the Redemption closer (Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah ztz"l, choveret 8, Talmud Torah 1, addition #3).
Rather it is incumbent upon us to understand what the Temple Mount is, and what is the greatness of this place, and with this knowledge, we will be drawn closer more than by action which we perform on account of our pettiness. We are not suitable for this level, the Master of the Universe therefore delivered this place into the hands of the Arabs in order to prevent us from approaching (Shut Tzitz Eliezer vol. 15, pg. 84). We need to work for the sake of the repentance of the generation, so that we will be called by the Name of Hashem, and then the issue of the Temple Mount will be automatically settled. Our spiritual independence is overcoming all of the nations. It is correct that this spot belongs to us, but we recognize the worth of the place based on how much we distance ourselves from it. As much as we distance ourselves, we thereby come that much closer, just as in relation to prophecy, or the Master of the Universe. Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah ztz"l expressed these words with amazing forcefulness.
After the Six-Day War, students approached our Rabbi and quoted the words of Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher in the introduction to his book "Derishat Tzion" which repeats a tradition recorded in the name of the Vilna Gaon that if we will only leap and sacrifice one lamb, then everything will be ready for Redemption. They asked: perhaps it is proper to sacrifice one Pesach sacrifice? When our Rabbi heard this he became enraged: "We need to strengthen the Kingdom of Israel and return the Torah to those who learn it in Israel; to bring great repentance, and we will then ascend to the Temple Mount from the midst of this prophecy." He said these words emphatically and forcefully.
Once they brought him a book of research and measurements of the Temple Mount. He disassociated himself from it and hid the book. The Mishnah (end of Massechet Berachot) forbids spitting on the Temple Mount all the more so (than wearing shoes - since if wearing shoes, which is not disrespectful, is forbidden than spitting, which is disrespectful, is forbidden all the more so). He added that scientific research and halachic clarifications are included in "spitting all the more so." In matters such as these, closeness is attained by means of distancing. For example, if I know that the Rambam is an angel of God and I am nothing - then I bring myself close to him. Not by my treading on the Temple Mount do I reveal that it belongs to me. On the contrary, it is revealed that the Temple Mount belongs to us and not to the non-Jews by the fact that they tread on it and I do not. Every entering there arouses [Divine] accusations and does not remove them. It is similar to a desire to bring the Messiah not at His time and to force the End [of Days]. Only the entire Nation of Israel can enter there like one wall and not individual Rabbis, when the entirety of Israel will be united, without dispute between Rabbis.

[To be continued next week, B"H]

Shut SMS #101

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text messages questions a day! Here's a sample:
Egg and Mazal
Q: I heard that it is forbidden to peel someone else's egg since it takes away his Mazal.
A: Nonsense.

Livelihood with Risk
Q: Is it permissible to work in a profession which involves some risk, such as heavy lifting or playing a sport?
A: It is permissible, if it is a minimal risk. Shut Noda Bi-Yehudah regarding hunting (Yoreh Deah 2:10. Shut Igrot Moshe, Choshen Mishpat #103).

Q: Is a tattoo an impediment in immersing in a Mikveh?
A: No.

Q: Is there such a thing as a Dybbuk (a possessive spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a deceased person)?
A: Yes, but the majority of times what is referred to as a Dybbuk is in fact a mental issue. When the Satmar Rebbe visited Israel, they brought him a person with a Dybbuk, so he could remove it. He said: Send him to a good psychologist.

Children Comforting Mourners
Q: Should children be brought to comfort mourners?
A: Yes. They should be educated from an appropriate age (approximately 6) to go to comfort mourners. Nita'ei Gavriel – Avelut 85:15. But a mourner should not take a baby on his lap, lest it make him laugh. Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 391:1. For a short time, it is permissible. Nita'ei Gavriel ibid. 113:9.

Jumping over a Chanuka Menora
Q: People told me that if I jump over a Chanuka Menora, I will find my soul-mate? Is this true?
A: Nonsense.

Lying to get into a Combat Unit
Q: Is it permissible for me to hide medical issues from Tzahal so that I can serve in a combat unit?
A: In general, it is forbidden to lie and especially to the army.

Q: How can I overcome laziness?
A: Mesilat Yesharim chapters 6-7-8-9.

Torah Learning for Women
Q: What type of Torah can women learn?
A: Tanach. Emunah. Halachah. Siddur. Musar.

Opening an Umbrella Inside
Q: Is it dangerous to open an umbrella inside [on a weekday - on Shabbat an umbrella is muktzeh]?
A: Superstition.

Q: Is it a Mitzvah to take medicine which a doctor prescribed me?
A: Yes. The Torah commands "And he shall surely heal him." It is a Mitzvah to be healed by a doctor (Baba Kama 85a).

Modesty with One's Son
Q: Is it permissible for a mother to place her hand on the shoulder of her son (who is over Bar Mitzvah) in order to give him a haircut?
A: Yes. It is also permissible to hug and kiss him (Beit Shmuel, Even Ha-Ezer 21:14).

Q: Our debt continues to grow. Is there a Segula to reverse this trend?
A: Certainly. You should spend less than you bring in and not rely on the miracle of overcoming the rules of mathematics. The Tur wrote that one should limit his expenses. And the Mishnah Berurah wrote that this is a harsh criticism against those who are enticed to spend money on luxuries without seeing the consequences, which will lead to theft and disgrace in the end. Biur Halachah chap. 529. One should plan well.

German Products
Q: Is it proper NOT to buy German products?
A: Yes, but it is not obligatory (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 2:442).

Fish on Shabbat
Q: Am I obligated to eat fish on Shabbat if I do not like it?
A: No. The Mitzvah is to enjoy yourself. (Mishnah Berurah 242:2).

Q: If I did not say "Vayechulu" with the community on Shabbat night, because I was still davening Shemomeh Esrei, do I need to recite it with someone else or can I recite it alone?
A: There is no obligation to say it with another person, since it is not actual testimony (which requires two witnesses). But some are careful to recite it with another person (The Mishnah Berurah [268:19] wrote that this section is testimony regarding the Creation of the World, and testimony requires two people. But the Chazon Ish (38:10] wrote that one should not be particular to recite it with another person since there is a fear of bringing witnesses to testify regarding whether the Creation really took place. There is however a tradition that the Chazon Ish changed this mind regarding this practice – Ma'aseh Ish vol. 4, p. 121 and vol. 7 p. 145).