Shut SMS #117

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a day! Here's a sample:
Giving Food to a Secular Jew
Q: Is it permissible for me to give food to a secular Jew when I know he will not recite a blessing?
A: Perhaps you can also eat at the same time and recite the blessing out loud (see Shut Minchah Shlomo 1:35).

Q: Why did the Torah forbid the fruit of Orla (the first three years of the tree), when as a result, we lose the blessing of the Land of Israel?
A: Some explain that it is to teach us the trait of self-control, which is an immeasurably greater blessing.

Reason for Learning Torah
Q: Why do we learn Torah?
A: It helps one’s soul grow.

Bread without Water
Q: I am stuck in a place without water. How can I eat bread?
A: In extreme circumstances, one my wrap both hands with plastic bags, or gloves, in lieu of washing them with water.
Q: Is it permissible to wrap the bread?
A: No.

Classical Music
Q: My parents love to play classical music for our baby. Is this a problem?
A: No. This is gentle music which awakens gentle feelings.

Highlighting in a Tanach
Q: Is it permissible to highlight in a Tanach?
A: Yes. It does not contradict the reverence one must have for it.

Jewish Philosophy
Q: Is it worthwhile to study for a degree in Jewish Philosophy at a university?
A: No, since it has heresy mixed in with it.

Lashon Ha-Ra in Bagrut (matriculation exams in Israel)
Q: We are taking the "Charedei" Bagrut in history, and the study material contains Lashon Ha-Ra against Rav Kook. What should we do?
A: If this is so, skip this part, as well as other parts containing Lashon Ha-Ra, and may Hashem help you.
Q: We will lose points on the exam, since they love to ask about this material.
A: May Hashem fill your lack. If you nonetheless study it, than study the truth at the same time in contrast to the Lashon Ha-Ra.

Davening in Shorts
Q: Is it permissible to daven in shorts?
A: In a place where people would stand this way before a king (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:40).

Q: How does one repent?
A: Regret. Abandon the sin. Accept not to sin in the future. Acts of loving-kindness. Torah learning (see Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah chap. 2).

Q: Is there another religion which says that G-d revealed Himself to the entire nation?
A: To individuals – yes. To an entire nation – no.

Merits and Demerits
Q: It is written that if a man speaks Lashon Ha-Ra than his merits are transferred to the person he spoke Lashon Ha-Ra about and that person's demerits are transferred to the speaker of Lashon Ha-Ra. Is this correct?
A: Yes. It is in the book "Chovot Ha-Levavot", brought in the Chafetz Chaim's "Shemirat Ha-Lashon" and it is also found in the Zohar.

Cell Phone as an Alarm Clock
Q: Is it permissible on Shabbat to use a cell phone as an alarm clock?
A: On condition that one not touch it and not turn it off, and that it has a simple ring and not music.

Chai Rotel
Q: What is the source of "Chai Rotel" - that if one donates or offers 18 Rotels (54 liters or about 13 gallons) of drink to those attending the celebrations at Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's tomb on Lag Ba-Omer, then the giver will be granted miraculous salvation?
A: There is no source. One Chasidic Rebbe told his student to provide drinks to thirsty visitors to the spot, and in merit of this kindness, Hashem would help him, as in all acts of kindness (Rotel is a liquid measure of the Turks, equaling about 3 liters, and contains no holiness).

Direction of Sleeping
Q: Is it true that one should sleep with one's head in the direction of the Mezuzah?
A: No.

Rabbi Akiva
Q: How in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Akiva, who taught "Love your fellow as yourself is the main principle of the Torah," did they fail to treat each other with proper respect?
A: In merit of receiving this education, they were saved from much worse. Rabbi Menachem Azrya of Pano. Brought in the book "Tal Orot".