Shut SMS #186


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

Guarding One's Eyes

Q: Is guarding one's eyes (deriving pleasure from the opposite gender (aside from one's spouse) or looking at immodest images) a halachah or stricture?

A: It is certainly a Torah Mitzvah.  We recite three times a day: "And do not be led astray after your heart and eyes" (Bemidbar 15:39).

Q: Where can I find sources from a spiritual perspective on guarding one's eyes?

A: Sefer Reishit Chochmah, Sha'ar Ha-Kedushah, chap. 5.

Q: Is it also forbidden to look at single women?

A: Certainly.  "I made a covenant with my eyes, how then can I look at a young woman?"  Iyov 31:1.  Rambam, Hilchot Isurei Biah, chap. 21.

 

Feet Facing the Door

Q: According to the Torah, should one refrain from sleeping with his feet facing the door?

A: It is a superstition taken from Feng Shui.

 

Yaakov and Dinah

Q: Why was Yaakov Avinu punished because he didn't want to give Dinah to Esav for marriage – Esav was wicked?

A: The Alter of Slobodka explained that he was punished because he was not pained enough over his brother's state.

 

Selling Food to Someone who will Not Make a Blessing

Q: Is it permissible to sell prepared food, such as a drink or cookies, to someone who will not make a blessing?

A: It is forbidden to give such items as a gift to someone who will not recite a blessing.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 163:2.  But it is permissible to sell it to him.  Torat Chesed of Ha-Gaon Mi-Lublin, Orach Chaim #5 (It is asked in Shut Divrei Chachamim, p. 281: Regarding the law of "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind," is it permissible for someone who owns a restaurant to serve food to a secular Jew who he knows will not recite a blessing?  Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and the Steipler Gaon answered that the world relies of Ha-Gaon Mi-Lublin to permit it).

 

Two Worlds

Q: I feel like I live in two worlds.  I learn Torah and perform Mitzvot, but I also sin a lot.  Perhaps I should stop with the Torah and Mitzvot so I can be complete with myself?

A: You should certainly not give up but rather add as much Torah and Mitzvot as you can.  See Igeret Kiddush Hashem of the Rambam.  "Just because someone ate garlic and his breath stinks, should he eat more garlic and make it worse?!" (Berachot 51b and Ain Aya of Maran Ha-Rav Kook ibid.).

 

Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge

Q: Why do so many people think that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was an apple?

A: Christian art (see Berachot 40a and Bereshit Rabbah 77:7 that it was either a date, wheat, grapes or Etrog).

 

Ten Commandments

Q: Were the Ten Commandments rounded or square on the top?

A: Square.  Baba Batra 14a.  The idea that that they rounded is from Christian art (The Lubavichter Rebbe was strongly opposed to using the round design.  Shaarei Halachah U-Minhag, vol. 1 p. 199.  And the same is true of the Steipler Gaon.  Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 2:535.  Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch writes, however, that while it is preferable to use the square design, it is permissible to use the round design since it is not an exact depiction but rather merely a symbol.  Ibid.).

 

Visiting Sick Person Who Hates Him

Q: Is it permissible for one to visit a sick person who hates him, or is there a concern that he will be offended that he came to see him in his time of suffering?

A: He should clarify the situation through a third party to see if the sick person would want to see him or not.  See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 335 with commentators (Shach ibid. #2 and Hagahot Yad Shaul).