Shut SMS #171

Tefillin and Minyan

Q: If someone does not have Tefillin, which is preferable – Davening with a Minyan without Tefillin or on his own with Tefillin?

A: Tefillin.  Mishnah Berrurah 25:40.

Drafting Yeshiva Students

Q: Do Charedi Yeshiva students need to be drafted into Tzahal?

A: 1. Yes, being drafted into Tzahal is a Mitzvah, and there is no exemption.  2. One can postpone his army service in order to grow in Torah learning.  3. A matter such as this cannot be forced upon the Charedim, rather we must gird ourselves with patience out of a mutual understanding that the Roshei Yeshiva will education their students about  the importance of being drafted (see Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 1, p. 118.  Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Tzava Ve-Yeshiva.  Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:368).

Honoring Parents and Tzahal

Q: My parents do not want me to go into the army.  Am I obligated to listen to them?

A: No.  Honoring parents does not apply if one's parents try to prevent him from fulfilling a Mitzvah.  One should obviously try to reason with and calm them (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 240:14).

Divorcee Covering her Hair

Q: Does a divorcee still have to cover her hair?

A: Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein has two Teshuvot where he writes that one may rely on the opinion that the obligation for a woman to cover her hair is a positive Mitzvah and not a transgression, and one may therefore be lenient in an extenuating circumstance, such as one who cannot find a spouse because people think she is married (because her hair is covered).  And the same applies to a widow (Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 1:57 and 4:32 #4).

Yehoshua Bin Nun

Q: Why did Yehoshua Bin Nun in particular merit to succeed Moshe Rabbenu?

A:  One who plants a date tree will eat of its fruit.  On account of his self-sacrifice for Torah learning with him day and night during the course of 40 years.

Avraham Avinu

Q: What should I learn from Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imanu?

A: Pursue righteousness and seek Hashem.  "Hearken to me, pursuers of righteousness, you seekers of Hashem, look at the rock from which you were hewn… Avraham your father and at Sarah who bore you."  Yeshayahu 51:1-2.

Hugging and Kissing in Shul

Q: Is it permissible to hug and kiss a friend in Shul?

A: In general, it is forbidden (Shut Orach Mishpat #22).  Although Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein would kiss his grandchildren in the Beit Midrash of his Yeshiva "Metivta Tiferet Yerushalayim".  He held that the prohibition against expressing love in Shul [Rama, Orach Chaim 98:1], which serves to “instill within one’s heart that there is no love like the love for the Almighty, Blessed is He", is only during the times of prayer, since the Shulchan Aruch brings this law in the Laws of Prayer and not in the Laws of the Holiness of a Shul.  Meged Givot Olam vol. 1, p. 92.  And when Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira – Rosh Yeshiva of Mercaz Ha-Rav – visited Yeshiva University, he met Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik in the Beit Midrash and Ha-Rav Shapira kissed Ha-Rav Soloveitchik for all to see.  Many were surprised, and asked: How could Ha-Rav Shapira kiss him when the Halachah is that it is forbidden to kiss another person in a Shul or Beit Midrash?  Ha-Rav Shapira explained to Ha-Rav Nachum Lamm – President of the Yeshiva – explained that Ha-Rav Soloveitchik has the status of a Sefer Torah, and it is impossible to pass him without kissing him. (Rosh Devarcha, pp. 174-175.  "Vayehe Binso'a Ha-Aron" – eulogy for Ha-Rav Shapira by Ha-Rav Eitan Eisman, p. 45.  And see Shut Yechaveh Da'at 4:12 where Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef discusses the Sefardic custom to kiss the Rabbi's hand as a sign of respect, and therefore permits it in a Shul).