Shut SMS #176

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


Kindness of Hashem

Q: Why am I lacking so much in life? Hashem does not perform kindnesses for me.

A: On the contrary, despite our transgressions, Hashem keeps us alive.  It would have been proper, from the moment of the first transgression, for Hashem to remove us from the world, but nevertheless – in His great kindness – He keeps us alive.  Sefer Tomer Devorah of the Ramak in the section "Mi El Kamocha".


Wedding Dress

Q: Is it permissible for a bride to wear a cream-colored wedding dress instead of a white dress?

A: Yes.


Position of the Rabbi

Q: The Rabbi of our community makes many mistakes – according to my opinion.  We spoke to him but it did not help.  Is it permissible for the Torah scholars who live here to wage war against him?

A: Certainly not.  On the contrary, it is incumbent upon you to strengthen him in every possible way.  Pele Yoetz, section on "Mishpat Ve-Din".



Q: Am I transgressing the prohibition of hating a fellow Jew if I do not speak with someone on account of a negative feeling?

A: Yes, "One who hates is anyone who does not speak with another for 3 days out of enmity".  Mishnah Sanhedrin 3:5.


Learning Tanach

Q: Is it permissible to learn "Nach" without the explanation of our Sages?

A: One may only learn the Written Torah according to the Oral Torah.


Daily Tanach Learning

Q: Is it worthwhile to learn Tanach on a daily basis?

A: Certainly.  Two chapters each day with Rashi and Metzudot, year in and year out. 


Made in Israel

Q: Is there a preference to buy Israeli products?

A: Certainly.  As much as possible.  After all, we must strengthen our economy.


Israeli Fruit

Q: Is there a preference to eat the fruit of Israel over fruit from outside of Israel?

A: Certainly.  1. It strengthens our economy.  2. The Divine Presence resides in the fruit of Eretz Israel.  Bach, Orach Chaim #208.


Metzitzah during Brit Milah

Q: Should one perform Metzitzah during a Brit Milah directly with one's mouth or through the aid of a glass tube, since there have been cases of babies becoming infected by the Mohel?

A: It is permissible to do so directly. Only in extremely rare cases do babies become infected, more infrequently than someone being run over by a car while walking on the sidewalk.  And we should obviously be concerned that the Mohel remains healthy.  Shut Da'at Cohain #140.  But it is also permissible to do so with a glass tube.  Ibid. #141-142.

Holy David

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Shoftim 5772 – translated by R. Blumberg]


On a tour of Jerusalem’s Old City, the teacher told his students: “We are standing right where King David’s palace stood, and it was from here,” added the teacher, “that he saw Batsheva bathing.”

That teacher is crazy! Is this what he found to arouse the imagination of those students? Instead of stirring their imaginations about King David’s positive traits, his patience, his ability to remain silent in the face of insults, his thirst for G-d, his military valor, his fortitude as a national leader, his holiness and his purity, his self-sacrifice to build up the Kingdom of Israel…this is what he chose to arouse their imaginations?! As though our imaginations are not sufficiently provoked by all the evil winds blowing in from the West!

Yet that teacher’s remark was no slip of the tongue. Rather, it reflected a complex worldview, as that teacher made clear in his further remarks: “Let me emphasize that King David was just a man – a man with weaknesses, a great man with great weaknesses, a man composed of good and of evil, not an ideal man.”

Heaven help us! That’s what he saw fit to say? And, in fact, one student responded, “I can identify more with a figure like that than with a pure, holy person”. “Indeed!” responded the teacher.

Woe to the ears that hear such things! Unfortunately such talk is part of an entire methodology of taking the greatest and most holy figures and bringing them down to eye level. Sure life is hard, and the struggle against our passions is no picnic, and sometimes we fail, and sometimes we are frustrated and despondent because we don’t succeed in escaping our evil impulse.

But what is the solution? To be more courageous. To increase our longing for G-d, to gaze upon our great figures and to emulate them. Instead, they’re taking those illustrious figures and making them small. They’re transforming them into the everyman, with one foot in the light and one foot in the darkness, light and darkness mixed together. And all so that we can identify with them!

Instead of drawing the student higher and higher, arousing his spiritual ambitions, understanding and awareness, instead of empowering him, they leave him below and lower, together with him, those who were high up. And then it’s easy to identify with them.

The student can learn Torah one moment and then read unclean material on the Internet.

Yet King David, himself, did not identify with his own sin. Our Sages point out that he wept over his sin for thirteen years. As it says, “I cause my couch to melt with my weeping” (Tehilim 6:7).

This has nothing to do with our Sages’ dictum that “whoever says David sinned is in error.” Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel says that he did sin, but even Abarbanel holds that David was a spiritual giant and he repented completely, escaped his sin and was purged of it. True, according to Abarbanel, King David committed a grievous sin once in his lifetime, but that does not make him a sinner. If someone lied once in his lifetime, that does not make him a liar, and if someone lost in battle one time that does not make him a loser. We don’t label people as a result of one-time deeds.

David was not a sinner, not even partially. He was a great man, righteous and holy.

Yet even such a person can occasionally stumble. Even Moshe became angry. Even he erred.

Yet that doesn’t make us say that he was errant or wrathful. We don’t judge a person based on exceptions to their norm.

Before we say anything new about King David that our Sages didn’t say, we have to learn the elementary truths. There is nothing against advancing new interpretations on the Tanach. There are hundreds and thousands of them. Yet they have to be motivated by faith and reverence for G-d. Towards that end we have to study the basic books such as Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s Mesilat Yesharim.

Learn his section on saintliness [Chasidut] and you will see that David thirsted for G-d, and not, G-d forbid, for his sin. “Like a hind crying for water, my soul cries for You, O G-d. My soul thirsts for G-d, the living G-d” (Tehilim 42:2-3); “I long, I yearn, for the courts of Hashem” (84:3); “My soul thirsts for You. My body yearns for You” (63:2); “I will delight in Your commandments, which I love” (119:47).

The Ramchal instructs us: If you wish to achieve saintliness, learn the Psalms and emulate them! Surely every young yeshiva student has learned Mesilat Yesharim. Probably that same teacher learned it too. So, he should review it ten times, a hundred times, until it sinks in deep.

The figure of King David is not up for grabs. You cannot say about him whatever you want, or fashion a new personality for him that samples a taste of all worlds, and that accords legitimacy to dialectically strolling along a pathway of life that combines purity and impurity. Even if one takes the approach of Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel, one should learn about King David’s remarkable repentance spurred by his fierce longing for the holy.

Haftarat Ki Teitze: An Unconditional Covenant

[Yeshayahu 54:1-10]


Through the voice of the prophet Yeshayahu, Hashem has expressed his immense love of and fondness towards the Nation of Israel.  He has promised that after a "small moment" (Yeshayahu 54:7) of anger – 2000 years of exile! – He will not forsake us again.


"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness will not depart from you, and My covenant of peace will not be removed, so says Hashem who has compassion on you" (ibid. v. 10).


Our Sages distinguish between two types of love: "Love dependent on a specific cause" and "love not dependent on a specific cause."  The first type can vanish if the conditions change, but the second type is eternal (Pirkei Avot 5:9).  The love of Hashem for the Nation of Israel is clearly the second type, which is not dependent on our merits or our repentance.  The future, promised Redemption by Hashem, through the prophets, is a free gift, and is not dependent on any prior condition.


When we read the verses of our Haftarah which promise the awaited Redemption, we see that there is no condition placed upon us: "For your Maker is your husband, Hashem of Hosts is His Name, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, who will be called the G-d of the whole world" ((ibid. v. 5).  The prophet is discussing a marriage between Hashem, the Creator of all existence, and the Nation of Israel.  Hashem chose us from all of the nations in order to make a covenant of marriage with us.  


"For Hashem has called you a wife as if forsaken and depressed in spirit, but your G-d says: 'Could the wife of one's youth be rejected?'" (ibid. v. 6).  Hashem never forgot the love of our bridal days, i.e. the amazing events which occurred between the Master of the Universe and his modest spouse, the Nation of Israel.


If this is so, how can we explain the horrible suffering we have experienced throughout the course of the Exile?  As explained in Shir Ha-Shirim (6:1), the nations of the world have mocked and taunted us: "Where has your beloved gone?"  In this song, the Nation of Israel declares that it has merited the love of its Beloved, but in reality, it appears that the Beloved has neglected His spouse.


Yeshayahu responds to us: "For a small moment have I forsaken you, but with great compassion will I gather you" (ibid. v. 7).  The two-thousand year Exile was a "small moment" when viewed in the proper prospective.  What is two-thousand years according to the Divine calculation?  Doesn't the sun have enough energy for billions of years?  All of the oceans together are only a drop of water.  All of the gold and silver are only a small coin.  All of the stars are only a small spark.  According to the same principle, two thousand years is only a small moment.  For human beings, two thousand years is a lengthy experience, but in relation to eternity, it is miniscule.


Therefore, Hashem forsaking us was not true abandonment since it was only temporary.  "When I was a little angry I hid My face from you for a moment, but I will have compassion on you with everlasting kindness" (ibid. v. 8).  Exile is a Divine expression of anger which we deserved, since we sinned severely.  But the sin and its punishment does not nullify the Divine covenant.


In our times, if we open our eyes we can see the Divine love towards the Nation of Israel.  For more than one hundred years, Hashem has given us an abundance of kindness.  The desert is blossoming once again, the Land is being rebuilt, Jews are being gathered from their places of exile, the army of Israel is victorious, the economy is succeeding and the Torah is spreading throughout the entire length and width of the Land.  All of these kindnesses speak volumes about the immense love which Hashem is showering upon us.


This is the reason we do not need to fear seeing our State crumble.  Yeshayahu delivers a Divine promise: despite our numerous sins, there will not be a third destruction, just as there will not be another flood. "For this is as the waters of Noach to Me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noach will not go over the Earth again, so have I sworn that I will not be angry with you nor rebuke you" (ibid. v. 9).


We certainly suffered greatly during the course of the Exile, especially during the Holocaust, but it is clear today that the situation is completely different, despite the difficulties which pain us.


Now, our problems are those of a free Nation, a proud Nation, which can no longer be lowered: "Do not fear, for you will not be put to shame.  And do not be embarrassed, for you will not be found wanting, for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the embarrassment of your widowhood you will not remember anymore" (ibid. v. 4).


After such an extended period bereft of nationalism, we have begun again to live fully: "Sing barren woman, you who could not bear, break forth into song, and cry aloud, you who never felt the pains of labor, for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife – says Hashem" (ibid. v. 1).


Despite all of these amazing occurrences, and the unconditional Divine promise, we cannot simply sit waiting with our arms folded and rely on a miracle to solve all of our problems with the help of Hashem.  We do not rely on miracles.  On the contrary, the miracles rely on us!  Hashem brings greatness by us and through us, through our efforts.  It is therefore incumbent upon us to rebuild our Land and expand our settlement within it.  "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of your dwelling places, spare not!  Lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.  For you shall spread to the right and to the left" (ibid. v. 2-3).


Our obligation is to do everything in our ability to strengthen our Land in every realm, in order to prepare for the Redemption.  We see with our own eyes the actualization of everything which Yeshayahu promised, and we therefore hear his call: "Sing!" (ibid. v. 1).


Shut SMS #175

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

Our Ancestors' Surprising Actions in the Tanach

Q: From where do we learn that we should understand our Ancestors' surprising actions in the Tanach in a positive light instead of in the usual way we view people's actions?

A: We do not judge a person based on a particular act, but rather we judge the particular act based on the person who performs it.  See Rambam in his commentary to the Mishnah on Avot (1:6): "Judge every person favorably".  For example, when Moshe Rabbenu said about the Nation of Israel: "They will not believe me", it obviously did not mean that they were atheists.


Learning Tanach and Lashon Ha-Ra

Q: If while learning Tanach, people speak Lashon Ha-Ra about our Forefathers and Foremothers, perhaps it is preferable not to learn Tanach at all?

A: Not perhaps – certainly!  Learning Tanach is a great Mitzvah, and Lashon Ha-Ra is a major transgression, and we do not perform a Mitzvah through a transgression.  And there is a hint of this idea in what the Vilna Gaon wrote to his wife that if people speak Lashon Ha-Ra in Shul, it is preferable for her not to attend at all and not to daven at all (Igeret Ha-Gra).


Choshen Mishpat

Q: If I am not planning to be a Dayan, do I still have to learn Choshen Mishpat?

A: Certainly.  1. One must learn the entire Torah (Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:110, 4:36).  2. One must know Choshen Mishpat in order to fulfill the Mitzvot between one person and another (See Orot Ha-Teshuvah 13:5.  And in the notes of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah [#6] who directs one to the book "Ha-Tzadik R' Yosef Zundel Salant" which explains that it is impossible to be G-d-fearing if one does not learn Choshen Mishpat, and it is difficult to be careful regarding the laws of damages and Mitzvot between people if one is lacking knowledge in the areas of proper character traits and Musar).


Aliyah on Yahrzeit

Q: On a day when I observe Yahrzeit, should I battle to receive an Aliyah?

A: This is indeed a proper custom, but do not argue about it, since that is a major transgression (See Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:79 #21).


Physically-Challenged Person as Shaliach Tzibur

Q: Can a person in a wheelchair serve as Shaliach Tzibur?

A: Some authorities are strict, but it is permissible, and - on the contrary – there is an advantage for a person with a broken heart (i.e. a person in some type of distress) to lead davening.  Mishnah Berurah 53:13.


Bikur Cholim on the Telephone

Q: Does one fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim on the phone?

A: It depends on the reality and what is best for the sick person.  Shut Tzitz Eliezer 8:5 (see Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 1:223).


Bikur Cholim for a Sleeping Person

Q: If one comes to visit an ill person and he is sleeping, does he fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim?

A: Yes, since others will tell the sick person when he wakes up that someone came to visit him and he will have contentment from this (Ha-Rosh Al Ha-Torah, beginning of Parashat Vayera.  Derech Sichah vol. 1, p. 65).  And also visiting is in order to daven for the sick (Rama, Yoreh Deah 335:4.  Ha-Gra #7) and to see to his needs (Tur ibid.).


Bikur Cholim for a Sick Baby

Q: Is there a Mitzvah to visit a sick baby?

A: Yes.  For various reasons: 1. To daven for him, and the visit will awaken within him more mercy (Rama, Yoreh Deah 335:4.  Ha-Gra #7).  2. To see to his needs (Tur ibid.).  3. To give strength to the parents (brought in Beit Yosef ibid.  Biur Halachah ibid.  Shut Avnei Yashpe 1:230).

How to Daven without Bothering Others

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Re'eh 5772]


If you are the one leading the davening

Do not daven slower or faster than what is acceptable. Do not place "a burden on the congregation." If you daven too slowly you will cause others who have to go to work to leave before the end of the davening, and you will prevent the next minyan from starting on time. If the someone davens too quickly, do not admonish him in the middle of the davening and embarrass him. Talk to him as a friend after davening. If speaking to him gently does not work, do not ask him to lead the davening.


Shul is not an opera house

Use the accepted tunes of the community. Do not use tunes with which the community is not comfortable. This causes discomfort to the community in addition to the halachic question that arises from acting this way. If the person leading the davening acts differently from the accepted practice, please do not embarrass him, as we said above. If you ask your guest to lead the davening, advise him of what is expected of him in order to prevent any unpleasantness.


Shul is not a day care center

Do not bring young children who cannot remain quiet. It is permissible to bring a quiet child. If he begins to make noise please take him out immediately, even in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei. In fact, especially in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei.


Shul is not a club house

Please take an urgent conversation outside, and "Hashem, the Beneficent One, will forgive." If you talk inside and disturb others who are davening, however, it is not certain that they will forgive you. If the conversation cannot be delayed and it is impossible to take it outside, please whisper and "Hashem, the Beneficent One, will forgive."


Shul is not a carpenter's workshop

Close chairs and folding shtenders quietly without banging them.


Shul is not a place to create work for others

Please return siddurim to their places. The Gaba'im are not your slaves.


Shul is not a welfare office

Pay your dues and donations, and do not perform Mitzvot with money that does not belong to you.


Shul is not a Chasidic Rebbe's court

Do not make a long "Mi She-beirach" to which no one listens. A blessing will come to someone who is strict to forgo a "Mi She-Beirach." Donate money when you receive an Aliyah, and I promise you that the Master of the Universe will bless you even without the Gabbai's announcement.


Shul is not a "Shteibel"

If you are late, repent. Do not organize a private repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei which prevents others from leaving and places a "burden on the community."


Shul is not an election rally

Do not shout out "Yasher Koach" to people who receive an aliyah or led the davening. They will be happier to receive a personal "Yasher Koach" with a smile.


Shul is not Hyde Park in London

Try, as much as possible, to hang announcements on the bulletin board.


The Netilat Yadayim room is not a club house for Cohanim and Levi’im

Conversation and the "jokes" are usually at the expense of the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei and others people's ability to concentrate.


The Silent Shemoneh Esrei is exactly that: Silent.

Our Sages said that one should not daven the Shemoneh Esrei out loud in the presence of others, since a person is not permitted to increase his own concentration at the expense of another person's concentration. Do not clap your hand in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei "to expel external distractions." Ask Mekubalim (mystics) how to attain this result without making noise.


If you see a new face in Shul

Smile at him, extend a handshake and greet him. The usual crowd in shul should also be viewed as a new face.


If you have an obligation to lead the davening, forgo it

The merit of forgoing it will benefit the ascension of the soul of the deceased even more than the merit of prayer.



If you are looking for challenges in Mitzvot between one person and another – come to shul.

If you are looking for challenges in Mitzvot between a person and Hashem, fulfill these Mitzvot between one person and another. They are also the will of Hashem.

Haftarat Shoftim: A New World

[Yeshayahu 51:12-52:12]


The return of the Nation of Israel to its Land, which we are experiencing in our generation, is not an historical anomaly, but a turning point in history. 


"And I have put My Words in your mouth, and have covered you in the shadow of My Hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion: 'You are My Nation'" (Yeshayahu 51:16). 


Hashem comforts us from the horror of Exile, which crushed us so badly.  "I, I am the One who comforts you. Who do you think you are, to fear man who will die, and of the son of Man who will be made as grass?" (ibid. v. 12).  Hashem teaches us not to fear even the greatest human power, since it is only relative, and will sooner or later disappear from history's stage.  Hashem is the true and sole Director of the world: "And you forgot Hashem who made you, who spreads out the heavens and lays the foundation of the earth, and you were afraid all day of the anger of the [human] oppressor, who was prepared to destroy, but where is the fury of the oppressor?" (ibid. v. 13).  In fact, the tyrant disappeared. Nothing remains of him today.


"He that is bent down will soon be released, and he will not go down dying into the pit, neither shall his bread fail" (ibid. v. 14).  We will be freed from all of the suffering and oppression of the Exile.  "I am Hashem your G-d, who quiets the sea and makes its waves roar, Hashem of Hosts is His Name" (ibid. v. 15).  The One who created worlds and rules over the laws of nature will also solve every human problem and save us from all tribulations.  But, for us, the Redemption for which we have so yearned is not only about being saved from suffering and problems; we expect much more: A new world!  Hashem will lead us to this level: "That I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth" (ibid. v. 16).  Are we discussing a cosmological revolution?  No, it is a historical one: The rehabilitation of the Nation of Israel in its Land – "And say to Zion: 'You are My Nation'" (ibid.).  The revival of the Nation of Israel is accompanied by new heavens and earth as the Rambam explained in Moreh Nevuchim (2:29), based on this prophecy of Yeshayahu. There will be a renewal of heaven and earth when the Kingship of Israel returns.


The renewed State of Israel is not temporary, like the last two.  This time our return is complete, and nothing can cause a new exile.  We are not only discussing the return of individual Jews to Eretz Yisrael, as has occurred over the last few hundreds of years, but the collective return of the Nation of Israel to its Land.  The State of Israel is "The new heavens and new earth" about which Yeshayahu prophesied (66:22).


For the Nation of Israel, the State is not just a place in which to absorb individuals, a shelter from the tragedies of the Exile and a location for people to live in quiet and contentment.  Our State is much more. It is nothing less than the foundation of the heavenly throne of Hashem on earth (Orot, Orot Yisrael 6, 7).  The State of Israel is an ideal in and of itself.


Every one of us, in fact, is not just an individual; we each belong to the collective of humanity.  As a result, it is impossible that the Divine light would illuminate an individual's life without also illuminating the life of a nation.  The Divine light rises above the individual level, and above the familial level and even above the communal level.  The Divine light illuminates the entire Nation in all areas: The Knesset and the government, the army and the police, the agriculture and the economy, society and culture.  We want to save the entire world - not just the individual.


This is the reason that we do not reach the height of consolation by being saved from the cruelty of tyrants, the oppression and suffering.  The true consolation is "and say to Zion: 'You are My Nation'" (ibid. 51:16).


During the course of two thousand years, there was a huge gap between Zion and the Nation of Israel.  The true meaning of Zionism is the revival of the life of the Nation of Israel as a Nation in its Land, and the renewal of  the Nation’s dormant love of Zion: "Awaken yourself, awaken yourself, get up, Jerusalem" (ibid. v. 17).  We sing this verse as part of Kabbalat Shabbat in the song "Lecha Dodi": “Awaken, Awaken, put on your strength, Jerusalem, the Holy City, from now on there will never enter you the uncircumcised and the unclean.  Shake off the dust, arise and be seated, Jerusalem, loosen yourself from the bands around your neck, captive daughter of Zion” (ibid. 52:1-2).  


We are witnesses today not to some historical process devoid of meaning.  We are experiencing the initial return of the Kingship of Hashem to the Land of Israel.  These are the signs which announce the coming of the Messiah: "How beautiful on the hills are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, who announces peace, brings word of goodness, announces Salvation, saying to Zion: 'Your G-d has ruled.'  The call of your watchmen is heard.  They lift up their voices together and sing: 'For they will see, eye to eye, Hashem returning to Zion" (ibid. v. 7-8).


The Nation of Israel who returns to Zion is accompanied by Hashem Himself: "Break out into joy, sing together, ruins of Jerusalem, for Hashem has comforted His Nation,
He has redeemed Jerusalem" (ibid. v. 9).  And all of the nations of the world witness this amazing occurrence: "Hashem has revealed His holy arm to the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the Salvation of our G-d" (ibid. v. 10).  We are not refugees running from the Exile to find shelter, "You will not leave in haste nor in flight, for Hashem goes before you, and the G-d of Israel is the One who gathers you" (ibid. v. 12), but as a Nation returning home.


3 Elul – Yahrtzeit of Maran Ha-Rav Kook

The words engraved on Maran Ha-Rav Kook's tombstone

Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook

Born on 16 Elul 5625

Ascended to the Land of Israel on 28 Iyar 5664

Ascended to Jerusalem on 3 Elul 5679

Ascended to Heaven on 3 Elul 5695

Maran Ha-Rav Kook's grave

Rabbi Yaakov Filber relates that Maran Ha-Rav Kook's grave on Mt. Olives remained completely intact during the period between of the War of Independence and the Six-Day War when the area was under Jordanian control.  While all the other graves were vandalized and the tombstones were uprooted by the Arabs and used for paving roads, Maran Ha-Rav Kook's grave remained untouched.  He heard from reliable sources that every time a Jordanian tractor came within reach of the grave, the tractor would flip over.  The Jordanians were struck by the holiness of the grave and left it alone.  Our Rabbi filled in the details.  While everything around Maran Ha-Rav Kook's grave was bombed out or destroyed, his grave remained whole.  An Arab worker related that they received special instructions from their superiors not to damage the grave in any way (Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah #51).  (Mareh Cohain of Ha-Rav Yaakov Filber, p. 139 including pictures of the untouched grave and its destroyed surroundings immediately after the Six-Day War).

Shut SMS #174

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

Food in a Restroom

Q: Is it permissible to bring food, which is wrapped up, into the restroom?

A: One should not do so from the outset, but it is permissible after the fact.  If the room also contains a shower or bathtub, it is permissible from the outset.  Shut Yabia Omer 4:5.  Shut Teshuvot Ve-Nanhagot 2:4.

Telephone Call in Restroom

Q: Is it permissible to answer an urgent cell phone call in the restroom?

A: Yes, but not while using the restroom.  Piskei Teshuvot 3:3.

Netilat Yadayim after Donating Blood

Q: Is one obligated to do Netilat Yadayim after donating blood, as in after blood-letting?

A: No.  Since regarding spiritual matter, we only do what is specifically said and do not extrapolate from it.  Halichot Shlomo 20:19.

Lying to Customers

Q: I work for a cell phone company and they asked me to lie to customers.

A: It is certainly forbidden.

Q: Then they will fire me.

A: Let them fire you.  We do not perform a transgression for money.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 656.

Charedim and Redemption

Q: How is it possible for the Charedim not to see the Redemption?  Isn't this heresy?

A: No.  Confusion.

Translation of the Gemara

Q: Is it possible to use a translation of the Gemara if it greatly helps me?

A: Certainly.  If this helps greatly – great.

War against Inclination

Q: I am constantly trying to improve my character traits, but I feel that I am not advancing.

A: You are advancing.  Nevertheless, one must understand that a person is obligated to wage an internal war against the evil inclination during the entire course of his life, and this is Hashem's will (beginning of Mesilat Yesharim).

Amen without a Kippah

Q: Is it permissible for a person without a Kippah to say Amen?

A: Yes.  It is not one of the Names of Hashem.  See Shut Yabia Omer 6:15 #50.

Davening without a Kippah

Q: If a person davens without a Kippah must he repeat the Shemoneh Esrei?

A: After the fact, if he does so accidentally, he does not have to repeat it.  Shut Yeshuot Moshe #15.

Christian Date

Q: Is there a difference between using the Hebrew date and the secular date?

A: It is not the secular date but the Christian date and one should flee from it, as the great halachic authorities ruled, and also Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:328).