Shut SMS #104

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

Non-Hebrew Songs and Secular Songs
Q: Is it permissible to listen to non-Hebrew and secular songs?
A: There are three conditions: 1. Kosher words (Rambam on Pirkei Avot 1:17). 2. A kosher tune that does not stir up base urges (Rambam, Igrot p. 428). 3. A kosher musician. If he is Jewish – he observes the 613 Mitzvot. If he is not Jewish – he observes the seven Mitzvot of Bnei Noach. Shut Mishneh Halachot (6:108). It goes without saying that a man may only listen to a male singer; a woman may listen to either a male or a female.

Motza'ei Shabbat Haircut
Q: What is the source for the prohibition of getting a haircut on Motza'ei Shabbat?
A: There is none. It is permissible.

Blessing on Coconut Milk
Q: What is the blessing on coconut milk?
A: Shehakol, since it is not the essence of the fruit (Ve-Zot Ha-Beracha p. 396).

Shomer Negi'ah
Q: Why does one need to be "Shomer Negi'ah" (to refrain from physical contact with the opposite gender)?
A: One must maintain great distance between the genders. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:8. Just as it is forbidden to benefit from food until one recites a blessing, so it is forbidden to benefit from a woman until after the seven wedding blessings.

Prayer
Q: Should I be concerned that Hashem will not answer my request?
A: Hashem is not your servant, G-d forbid; all we may do is petition Him.

Vaccinations
Q: Should we have our children vaccinated? People mention that there are risks involved.
A: The chances of side-effects are extremely low compared to the hundreds of millions of child who receive vaccinations. In life-threatening situations we follow the majority, and all the more so when the minority of cases is (numerically) negligible.

Palm Reading
Q: Can a person really know what is in a person's soul through palm reading?
A: No. It is nonsense. Although it is mentioned in the Zohar, what is done now is nonsense. It is also forbidden on account of "Darkei Emorite" (the ways of the Emorites, i.e. superstitions, close to idol worship).

Jealousy
Q: How do I overcome the jealousy which bubbles up inside of me?
A: By understanding that Hashem gives each person exactly what is good for him, and that one kingdom does not overlap with another, not even a little. Mesilat Yesharim, chap. 11.

Suffering
Q: I have experienced all types of suffering. It is written that one who suffers should investigate his actions. How can I know what my transgressions are?
A: It is a private matter. Each person must check his own sins.

Studying Kabbalah
Q: I am 16 years old. Can I beginning learning Kabbalah?
A: Certainly not. The commentators on the Shulchan Aruch write that one should not learn Kabbalah before the age of forty (Shach, Yoreh Deah 246:6). In general, the secrets of the Torah are to be studied only by special individuals. The Mishnah Chagigah, chap. 2.

Tzahal
Q: What transforms Tzahal into something which is holy? After all, it performs profane acts.
A: Serving in Tzahal is a three-fold Mitzvah: Protecting the Nation of Israel, protecting the Land of Israel, and sanctifying Hashem's Name. And regarding a Mitzvah, it is said: "Who made us holy us with His Mitzvot (Mei-Chayil El Chayil vol. 1 p. 168).

Prayer
Q: Why do we pray if everything was decreed on Yom Kippur?
A: Prayer is beneficial even after the decree. Rosh Hashanah 17b.

Intellect
Q: Why is it important to do everything based on intellect?
A: One should also base their actions on other strengths in one's soul. But the intellect is the king, helping to prevent mistakes which occur on account of the other strengths (i.e. emotions). See Moreh Nevuchim 1:2 that the intellect is the "Image of G-d."

Female Medical Clown
Q: Can a woman be a medical clown?
A: Yes, for woman and children.

Tilting Tree
Q: My neighbor's tree is tilting into my lawn. Whose responsibility is it to cut it?
A: His. It is his tree and his responsibility.

Pocketknife
Q: Does a pocketknife require immersion in a Mikveh?
A: If it is used for food.

Hidden Recorder
Q: Is it permissible to record someone without his knowledge?
A: Certainly not. It is deception.

Bread on a Bus
Q: If I am on a long bus trip, is it permissible to eat bread without Netilat Yadayim?
A: Yes, by wrapping both hands in plastic bags or some other covering (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 40:14).