Shut SMS #148

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

Q: We have recently experienced many tragedies. What does this mean? What does Hashem want?
A: It is true that there are tragedies in the world. There are righteous people who experience bad things. If you are asking, it is a sign that perhaps this is the first time you have experienced such things. If so, Hashem loves you very much.
Q: But want should we do?
A: Someone who experiences tragedies should repent. Rambam, Hilchot Ta'anit chap. 1.
Q: But what should I repent for?
A: It is personal. Each person should repent for the sins he committed.

Text Message Responsa
Q: Does it bother Ha-Rav when people send text message questions?
A: Certainly not. I am happy to help. But sometimes I cannot answer right away because there is a backlog of questions.

Few Talitot
Q: Why don't we wear a few a Talitot at the same time, since we fulfill a Mitzvah with each one?
A: We do not act this way with any Mitzvah, rather we perform what Hashem commanded of us (There are many stories about why Ha-Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg – Rosh Yeshivah of Torah Or – wears so many pairs of Tzitzit [in his younger years, 150 pairs, and as he has aged about half that amount]. Some say that it is in order to fulfill all of the different opinions regarding Hilchot Tzitzit. Others explain that he began when his daughter was ill in order to fulfill a Mitzvah in her merit. But Ha-Rav Scheinberg himself says: "It is 15-20 Kilo of Mitzvot…" "Mishpachah" Magazine of 12 Nisan 5768 #851. This, however, is the unique practice of a great Rabbi).

Black Hebrews
Q: Are the Black Jews in Dimona considered Jewish? Should I donate to them?
A: They are not Jewish, and you should donate to Jews.

Q: Is there an obligation to recycle newspapers and bottles?
A: No, but it is proper to do so. By the way, in many places in America, it is obligatory by law.

Kivrei Tzadikim (Graves of the Righteous)
Q: Must one perform Netilat Yadayim after visiting Kivrei Tzadikim as one does after visiting a cemetery?
A: According to those who rule that Kivrei Tzadikim do not make one impure and Cohanim are permitted to visit them, there is no need for Netilat Yadayim. According to those who rule that Kivrei Tzadikim do make one impure and Cohanim are forbidden to visit them, one must perform Netilat Yadayim. Nonetheless, the custom is not to perform Netilat Yadayim after visiting Ma'arat HaMachpelah and Kever Rachel.

Shomer Negi'ah
Q: Is it permissible for me to help a girl while ice-skating? After all, it is only so she doesn't fall.
A: Yashar Koach to the evil inclination for his creativity in causing people to stumble in Halachah!

Leniencies and Strictures
Q: Why does Ha-Rav rule leniently in some areas of Halachah and strictly in other areas? Is Ha-Rav one who rules leniently or strictly?
A: These different areas of Halachah are unrelated. Each issue must be ruled on its own. Sometimes the ruling comes out leniently and sometimes strictly.

Mentally Ill
Q: If Hashem created man in order to serve him, why does he create the mentally ill and mentally handicapped?
A: We do not know. Perhaps it is connected to something which occurred to their souls before they were born. Ramban's commentary on Iyov, introduction and chap. 33. And also to what will occur to the souls after death.

Hitting a Child
Q: Must a father hit his child in order to educate him in Torah as it says: "One who spares his rod, hates his son" (Mishlei 13:24)?
A: Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah taught us that this is fulfilled through gentle rebuke.

Pictures from the Holocaust
Q: Is it permissible to look at pictures from the Holocaust of Jewish women without clothes?
A: G-d forbid. 1. It is immodest. 2. It is a horrible infringement on the honor of these women, may Hashem revenge their blood. What would you do if it was your mother?!

Q: I want to stop watching sports games on TV based on "Moshav Leitzim" (frivolity), but am unsuccessful. What should I do?
A: Gradually wean yourself off and read Mesilat Yesharim.

Custom of Husband and Wife
Q: How should a husband and wife act when they have different customs?
A: The wife follows the customs of the husband so they are united and at peace, based on the law of one who moves from one place to another and follows the customs of the new locale.
Q: Is the wife required to perform an annulment of vows when she changes her pre-wedding customs?
A: No. There is no need and we have not heard that earlier generations acted this way (Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:158. Shut Minchat Yitzchak 4:83. Shut Yabia Omer vol. 5 Orach Chaim #37).

Bad in the World
Q: If everything is from Hashem, how is there bad in the world?
A: Bad is bad, but good will come from it. Everything is for the good. This is a deep subject for a text message. You can look in my book "Ve-Gavar Yisrael".