answers hundreds of text message questions a day! Here's a sample:
in Work Clothes
Is it permissible to daven Minchah in dirty work clothes?
From the outset, one should not, since this is not how one stands before a
king.When there is no choice, it is
permissible (And Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was asked: Is it permissible for
a painter to daven in his work clothes?And he responded: If he would not be embarrassed to walk around wearing
such clothing on Yafo Street in Jerusalem, he may wear them for davening in an
extenuating circumstance.Kav Ve-Naki
How can we convince Jews to make Aliyah?
1. Spiritually:this is our Land, our
State and our lives, and it is dangerous elsewhere because of anti-Semitism and
assimilation.2. Practically: one should
help them find a livelihood, an area with people who speak their language (if
they are not yet fluent in Hebrew) and an appropriate schools for their
in a Skirt
Is it forbidden to have a slit in a skirt even under the knee?
Yes.It should be filled in with the
same or similar fabric.Malbushei Kavod,
What should I do in order to retain modesty - everything is full of horrible
seductions: TV, Internet, Facebook, newspapers, Iphone, the street, etc.?
It is true that it is very difficult to overcome these obstacles but it is
possible.Everything which Hashem
commands is possible.One who overcomes
is called "holy".He is
In the Shul where I daven, there is tension between the people.Is it worthwhile to move to a different Shul?
Yes.But it is preferable to make peace
where you are.And the Arizal wrote that
before davening one should accept upon himself "Love your fellow as
yourself", i.e. he should love all of Israel as himself, so that his
prayers rise up together with those of all Israel.Chida, Petach Einayim Ukatzim chapter 3 #4.
between Honoring Parents and Fulfillment of Halachah
What should one do when there is a conflict between one's parents and
fulfilling the Halachah?
One should honor his parents to the greatest extent which the Halachah allows
in a pressing circumstance (Ha-Rav Elezar Menachem Man Schach told yeshiva students
that their parents are not always comfortable with their customs and exactitude
in observing Halachah, and this can cause arguments and strife.Therefore, in any issue in which halachic
authorities write that one may be lenient when there is a "Hefsed
Merubah" (major loss), one may be lenient since arguing with one's parents
is a "Hefsed Merubah".The
Booklet "Halachah Ke-Rebbe Elezar" by Ha-Rav Shmuel Baruch Genot, p.
Is it permissible to use electricity on Shabbat in Israel (in a permissible
fashion - either by turning it on before Shabbat or using a timer) since the
electric company desecrates Shabbat?
It is permissible.There are many
reasons for being lenient (And Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein and Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom
Elyashiv said that the opinion that it is forbidden is according to the Chazon
Ish and he is a lone opinion in this matter.Shut Divrei Chachmim, p. 103).
a Ring to the Groom
Is it permissible for the bride to give the groom a ring and say to him:
"Ani Le-Dodi Ve-Dodi Li – I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine"?
It is forbidden.But after the fact, the
marriage is still valid.Shut Igrot
Moshe (Even Ha-Ezer 3:18).
[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Lech
Lecha 5773 – translated by R. Blumberg]
by a pen stroke to heal the wounds of our people, registering non-Jews as “Jewish”
on conversion documents out of synch with Jewish law. They think that via this procedural
step they can solve a profound problem of identity. Yet in reality they err and
cause others to err, adding still more suffering to our Nation. Instead of
toiling to bring near those far removed, they place an official stamp of
recognition on the division of our people, creating two types of Jews: Jews
according to Jewish law and Jews according to Israeli secular law. Heaven help us
if tomorrow a boy proposes marriage to a girl he loves, but she answers, “I
cannot. I am Jewish by Jewish law and you are Jewish by secular law. Leave me.
I am forbidden to you.”
there are circles of people, both religious and irreligious, seeking to
separate religion and state. They do not understand that you cannot solve
problems and conflicts by division of forces, but only by increasing love. They
do not understand that they are leading us to a deep crisis. And who knows
where it will lead?
agree to there being two types of Jews in our midst, any more than we should
agree to the establishment of two separate countries for the Jewish People.
ago we were a dispersed people, scattered among various countries, but now we
are a country ourselves, and the Torah too must manifest itself as a national
have every group holding its own loudspeaker, thinking it represents Jewish
law. The Chief Rabbinate must be the body that decides matters. When there is
no national conception of the Torah, fissures form that threatens to shatter
the nation. Therefore we must increase unity and we must strengthen the Torah
as an all-encompassing institution of the Jewish People, centered around the
Israeli Chief Rabbinate. This will solve the problem of conversion both here
and abroad, and put an end to all of the yelling, agitation and divisiveness.
As for the
very question of “Who is a Jew”, I can recall what Yosef Schechter, a learned
educator, philosopher and researcher, said to David Ben-Gurion: “Here is what a
researcher does when he sets out to deal with a problem. First he examines all
the material that has been published until now. Then he examines all the conclusions
that have been amassed, and he builds on them, unless he discovers contradictions.The present question was deliberated upon by
generations of our Sages. They pondered it in enormous depth and examined every
detail with remarkable precision. Not only that, but we see with our own eyes
the extraordinary result of their long, exhausting approach – the survival of a
poor, persecuted nation throughout such a dangerous exile. True, in our own
generation, novel and scientific research methods have been developed, but as
far as spiritual problems, it is not only experimentation that should be the determining
factor, but thought as well. And in this realm, we are forced to admit that
civilization’s advance has only tainted the depths of our thinking. Who will
dare, in our dark generation, in which the worst crimes against humanity were
committed, to try to tailor the Torah of Moses to modern thought?”
Court justice, the late Dr. Moshe Zilberg, wrote in his day that what we have
here is not a minor, concrete question of registration, but a penetrating
clarification of the essence of the concept of a Jew: “The one in the court
docket is not the registrar of the State of Israel, or the Interior Minister,
but the Jewish People down through the generations. Shall a ‘subjective test’
be what determines Jewishness? Is silent identification coupled with some
ceremony that people have made up out of their heads based on their own
understanding of the spirit of Judaism sufficient? Where is the boundary? Shall
even the Christian who harbors deep affinity for the Jewish People be
considered a Jew?
said that the radio broadcaster who announced on June 7, 1967 that the Western
Wall had been liberated was worthy of everyone’s thanks, ‘because he succeeded
in making clear for us, all at once, how foolish is the pilpulistic argument
over who is a Jew’ (Siach Lochamim p. 236). Yet the Jewish People were not born
yesterday. Shall we desecrate the word ‘Jew’, cross out its hallowed, historic
meaning, and deny all the values of the spirit to which we became accustomed
daily during our long exile? Whether we are called “religious” or “secular”, we
cannot cut ourselves off from our historic past, nor can we deny it. We are
carrying on. Not everyone who wishes to claim the title of Jew for himself may
someone called “secular” may rise up and say, “What relevance do Jewish legal definitions
have for us? After all, we don’t keep Jewish law, and those who do keep it sometimes
insult us by calling us non-Jews. It turns out that we aren’t Jewish either according
to Jewish law.”
is not true. The essence of a Jew is not measured by behavioral criteria, nor
does it depend on Mitzvah fulfillment. A Jew, even if he be secular, is still a
Jew. One’s very Jewishness is independent of one’s deeds. It should be borne
out by one’s deeds, but it does not depend on them. It is an inner quality and
a spiritual character.
plagued by a very deep crisis of loss of, and search for, identity, and this is
bitterly painful for us. In these times, we cannot avoid this issue. We must
remember what we are, what our lives are, what it means for us to be a special
nation, distinct from all others. We constitute a unique component of mankind,
a people with a unique national psyche. We belong to a people that was not born
recently, but in ancient times: the people of eternity, Eternal Israel.
clear from one of the verses of our Haftarah that the prophet Elisha had an excellent
relationship with Yehoram, King of Israel, even though the king was totally
wicked.It is told that the great woman
of Shunam hurried to serve the prophet and to provide him with "a little
upper room with a wall" in which she placed "a bed, table, chair and
lamp" (Melachim 2 4:10).Out of
respect and gratitude, he asked her: "What is to be done for you?Should I speak to the king or the commander
of the army for you?" (13).Here we
see that the prophet had carte blanche to visit the Prime Minister and the Chief
of the General Staff, since he suggested that he could act on the woman’s
behalf before them.
face value, this fact is extremely surprising because we know, to our distress,
that King Yehoram was a cruel and corrupt man."And he (Yehoram) did evil in the eyes of Hashem…he held fast to
the sins of Yerovam ben Nevat who caused Israel to sin.He did not depart from them" (Melachim 2
3:2-3).It is impossible to find a more
damning comparison than to Yerovam.
would expect that the great prophet, who was responsible for the spiritual
purity of the Nation of Israel, would diametrically oppose the King, and not
have positive relationship with him - even for the purpose of helping others.We would expect Elisha to sever all contact
with him and devote himself to the pure needs of the entire Nation.
this is not so, and we should pay close attention to the prophet Elisha, a
manobedient to the national government,
even though he was a great zealot following the example of his teacher, the
prophet Eliyahu.When Yehoram, King of
Israel, went to war together with Yehoshafat, King of Yehudah, against a shared
enemy, he turned to Elisha in a moment of despair.Elisha showed no mercy or love toward the
king, admonishing him instead: "What do I have to do with you?Go to the prophets of your father and the
prophet of your mother…If it were not for the presence of Yehoshafat, King of
Yehudah, I would not look towards you nor see you" (ibid. 3 13:14), since
Yehoshafat was a righteous king.The
prophet Elisha did not fear rebuking the king of Israel with great
the prophet knew that the king saw him as a dangerous enemy who should be
killed – he had already sent an assassin from the secret police to eliminate
him: "But Elisha sat in his house and the elders sat with him, and the
king sent a man from before him; but before the messenger came to Elisha, he
said to the elders: 'Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent someone to
remove my head.Look, when the messenger
comes, shut the door and push him at the door.Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?'" (ibid. 6:32).Yehoram learned this tactic from his father,
the corrupt King Achav, who sent special agents throughout all of Israel and
the surrounding states in order to find the prophet Eliyahu and kill him.
all of this, how can we understand what united Elisha and Yehoram, who were so vastly
different from one another?The answer
is simple: shared, infinite love for the Nation of Israel.Even if the king of Israel was an evil man,
he still remained the king of Israel, and carried the incredible responsibility
of saving the Nation.And while it is
not the ideal situation, it is certainly preferable for the Nation to be ruled
by the sinful government of Yehoram than to fall into the hand of the enemy and
to suffer the decree of exile.
prophet was therefore always ready to help the king for the benefit of the
Nation of Israel, and the king, despite his ambivalence, could not refrain from
expressing his gratitude to some extent.
Yehoram was about to make a severe strategic error, the prophet Elisha warned
him: "Beware that you not pass such a place, for Aram is hidden
there" (ibid. verse 9). With this piece of advice Elisha saved the army of
Israel, who went on to be victorious.Elisha followed precisely the path of his teacher, Eliyahu, who did not
hold back even the harshest rebuke when it was justified (Melachim 1 18:17-18),
but also honored this same king of Israel when he displayed self-sacrifice to
protect his Nation and the Land."And the hand of Hashem was upon Eliyahu, so he girded his
loins and ran before Achav until the approach of Yizre’el" (ibid.
verse 46).Running from Mt. Carmel to
Yizre'el valley!Is it possible to
display greater honor for the king?
was internally conflicted.On the one
hand, he was influenced by his evil, non-Jewish wife, Izevel, daughter of the
King of Sidon.On the other hand, he was
influenced by the prophet Eliyahu.If
the prophet were to abandon him, he would have fallen completely under the
dominion of his wife - to the great detriment of the Nation of Israel.The influence of the prophet indeed secretly
bore fruit.At the moment of truth, the
king turned to him for advice and called him "my father" (Melachim 2
6:21).Furthermore, during the national
tragedy, Ahav was truly torn apart because of his pain; he ripped his garment,
and while he was walking on the wall, "and the people looked, and he had
sackcloth within on his flesh" (ibid. verse 30).
heretic, the sinner, the anti-religious one was, somewhere within, a secretly
repentant man, who wore sackcloth of mourning on his flesh.
answers hundreds of text message questions a day! Here's a sample:
What is the purpose of prayer?
To serve Hashem with our emotions."And serve Him with all of your heart" (Devarim 11:13.See introduction to Tefilat Amecha vol. 1,
Yisrael Vomiting out Sinners
The Torah says that Eretz Yisrael will vomit out sinners (Vayikra 18:25,
28).If so, how is it possible that our
country contains so many Jews who are far from Torah observance?
It is a sign that they are not sinners according to this definition, as
explained by Rabbi Avraham Azulai in Chesed Le-Avraham (Ma'ayan Shelishi, Ein
Ha-Aretz, Nahar 12).They are sinners in
their individual lives but not in their communal lives.Orot #84.They are bad on the outside but good on the inside.Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah, Igeret #555 (see Alo
on the Street
If I see bread thrown in the street, must I pick it up?
You are not obligated to do so, as no one will eat it since it's dirty, and it
no longer has the status of bread for this Halachah (This is also the ruling of
Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.Kav
the Benefit of the Doubt
Is giving someone the benefit of the doubt a Mitzvah or a pious act?
A Torah Mitzvah."Judge your fellow
favorably" (Vayikra 19:15).And see
Pele Yoetz, entry on "Sanagoria".
Is it permissible in medical school to perform experiments and operations on
corpses of people who donated their bodies to science?
Almost all of the halachic authorities forbid it, but it is permissible on
non-Jewish corpses, since different laws apply to their bodies even in their
lifetimes.Shut Da'at Cohain (#199).
Torah with Secular Jews
Is it permissible to say words of Torah to secular Jews who have not recited
the blessing over learning Torah?
Yes, as our Rabbi Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah ruled (Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv also
rules this way.Kav Ve-Naki #9).
who Married a Divorcee
If a Cohain married a divorcee (which is forbidden according to Halachah), is
the Shul exempt from saying Tachanun (as in the case of a permissible
Certainly not.This is not a day of joy
but a day of sadness (This is unlike the ruling of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv
who exempts them from saying Tachanun, since he is still a groom and it is a
Yom Tov for him.Although he does rule
that this Cohain should not receive an Aliyah since he should not be honored
when he violated a transgression.Kav
between One Person and Another
What is more important to teach a child – Mitzvot between a person and Hashem
or between one person and another?
Hashem prefers Mitzvot between one person and another.Rosh at the beginning of Peah.The reason is that Mitzvot between one person
and another are included in Mitzvot between a person and Hashem (since people
were created in the image of Hashem).
[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Noach
5773 – translated by R. Blumberg]
involves the constant giving of oneself. Yet it isn’t easy, because people
naturally love themselves too much. One is certainly allowed to love oneself.
It says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18), which implies that
one does love oneself. Yet one shouldn’t exaggerate that self-love.
were just two brothers on the face of the earth, two brothers, it was enough
for one to pounce on the other and kill him. That tells us that we must be
cautious. It’s not easy to get along together. Adam didn’t physically hurt Chava,
but when G-d asked him why he had sinned, he blamed her, basically saying, “The
woman You gave me is a tainted gift.” Yet that wasn’t so. Eve was a marvelous
gift, and Adam was denying a goodness done for him (see Rashi). G-d rejected
Adam’s claim, punishing him together with Chava. This same shortcoming surfaced
later in his sons.
this difficult beginning, G-d does not give up. He wants people to learn to
live together, lovingly. After all, there are a hundred billion planets in the
Milky Way, so every human being could be settled alone on one of them, thus
avoiding any tension. Yet G-d instead crowded us all onto one planet, so we
could learn to live together.
gargantuan mission starts small, with relationship between husband and wife,
between two people who chose each other and love each other. Yet it requires an
investment. In initial love there is no need to invest. It comes by itself, and
one does not generally know why. It’s similar to a person loving orange juice –
no investment is necessary, it love just exists!
asked his father: “How much did Mom cost you?” His father answered, “After so
many years, I cannot recall what I paid for the ring, but I keep paying each
day…” This may be meant as a witty joke, but it holds an important truth: by
signing a Ketuba, a groom undertakes an obligation to support and love and
respect, etc. his wife. All his life he must keep investing in her. Nothing
comes for free. Man is born for toil.
ask: isn’t it irksome, or frightful that marital bliss requires such an
answer: no! just the opposite is true. If compatibility depended on hidden
reasons, then we would need to be worried about the possibility that we were
not where we should be, and that we would never know how to keep things right.
Then, the first time a problem arose, we might say, “Perhaps we made a mistake!”
marriage depends on our investment, we have control over its success.. We must
invest more and more, until we succeed. From that moment on, “the [miniature]
‘Temple’ is in our hands”.
words, on the most fundamental level, there ARE no compatible couples. Rather, there
are couples who WANT to be compatible, and who invest in order to succeed in
being compatible. The stubborn will succeed.
fortieth chapter of Yeshayahu is considered by various streams of Biblical
Criticism to be the beginning of "Second Yeshayahu"- as if there were two prophets with the same
name!What is the reason behind this
profane insistence on breaking up the words of our great prophet?
pseudo-“question” which was asked by German “scientists” lies at the root of
the problem: How is it possible that Yeshayahu, who lived during the generation
of Uziyahu, Yotam, Achaz and Yechizkiyahu, the Kings of Yehudah (Yeshayahu
1:1), could describe the Nation of Israel’s return to Zion in the time of the
Persian King, Koresh (ibid. 45), which occurred two hundred years later?Was he an extremely elderly man who lived for
two hundred years?Clearly, these
non-believing Tanach readers, called Biblical Critics, forgot something essential:
Yeshayahu was a prophet. He could see great distances into the future because
the Divine Presence rested upon him.He
knew quite well how to project forward two hundred years.
this is not the only problem that bothered these critics of one hundred years
ago, whose combined ignorance and hatred of Israel caused them to go astray (as
they did in relation to Yehoshua bin Nun - see the article on the Haftarah for
Simchat Torah).They could not fathom
how one man could have numerous and diverse facets.Since the prophet Yeshayahu praises peace,
the proclaimed, he must be a leftist.But he legitimizes war, so he must be a rightist!Since he praises Shabbat, he must be
religious.But he raises the banner of ethics
and justice, so he must be a humanist.He recited Hallel for the Nation of Israel (what a disgusting nationalist!),
and yet he is enthusiastic about all of humanity, so he is a universalist.Since he describes heavenly revelations, he
must be a mystic.But he speaks so
logically to us, so he is clearly rational.And so on and so on…Their conclusion:there is more than one Yeshayahu.
abandon this fantastic idea. There was always only one Yeshayahu. He was a
great man who was able to combine his incredible spirituality with a thorough
understanding of the human psyche, in all of its manifestations.His ability to unify these diverse tendencies
into one person is a capacity that transcends our world knowledge. How unlike
this group of pseudo-scholars, enslaved by a dry theory and a weak
understanding, who couldn’t unify – who could only understand by breaking
everything into pieces.
they were further confounded by this “riddle”: how is it that the entire tone
of Yeshayahu’s message begins to change at the famous fortieth chapter. What
began as a message of strength, courage and determination turns into one of
comfort, expectation and confident hope.This observation is in fact correct and astute…but it is nothing
new!Our great Rabbi, the Rambam,
already referred to chapter forty and its following chapters as the
"Consolations of Yeshayahu."This does not mean that there were two separate Yeshayahus: the warrior
and the comforter.It means that there
was a monumental shift - an unparalleled tragedy - which occurred in the seam
between the thirty-ninth chapter and the fortieth chapter, and which caused the
message to change. What is this momentous event? The “failure” of the
designated Messiah, King Chizkiyahu himself.Yeshayahu brings us this good news: "And there shall come forth a
rod out of the stem of Yishai, and a branch will grow out of his roots.The spirit of Hashem will rest on him, the
spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the
spirit of knowledge and awe of Hashem.His delight will be in the awe of Hashem.He will not judge after the sight of his eyes
and he will not decide after the hearing of his ears…And righteousness will be
the girdle of his loins and faithfulness the girdle of his reins"
(Yeshayahu 11:1-5).This was the time of
King Chizkiyahu, who had the potential to become the Messiah.
Sages relate that "The Holy One Blessed Be He wanted to make Chizkiyahu
the Messiah" (Sanhedrin 44a).He
was a righteous, courageous and activist king.To our great distress, however, this messianic hope was hidden and, at
the same time, the threatening clouds of Exile began to appear on the horizon.
is now possible to understand the horrible despair that gripped the Nation of
Israel at this time, and the transformation that took place in the style and
content of Yeshayahu’s prophecy.
turned to his Nation with love and succinctly informed it: Do not despair, the
Redemption has not been canceled, it has just been postponed.The Messiah will arrive at a later time.Be strong and courageous."Why do you say, O Yaakov, and speak, O
Israel: 'My way is hidden from Hashem, and my case has been passed over by
myG-d'" (Yeshayahu 40:27).Are we eternally lost?Certainly not!"Have you not known?Have you not heard?The Eternal G-d is Hashem, Creator of the
ends of the earth, Who neither tires nor wearies.There is no scrutinizing His
understanding.He gives strength to the
tired, and He increases the strength of the powerless" (ibid. 28-29).
Master of the Universe never reaches a point of exhausting His strength, and
the more we cleave to Him, the stronger and more indefatigable we become.Even the youth, who are said to be full of
energy, are sometimes broken after a difficult journey."Youth may become tired and weary and
young man may utterly fall" (30)…But those whose hope is in Hashem will
have renewed strength, they will grow wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary.They will walk and not grow tired"
(31).It is in this sense that we recite
the blessing each morning: "Blessed is Hashem…who gives strength to the
Dati Leumi Posek Rabbi Shlomo Aviner Shlit"a was asked 1. for a p’sak
regarding Smartphones and 2. if one is
required to use a Kosher phone. The Rav’s words were aired on Yeshivat Machon
Meir’s internet Shiurim broadcasts.
Rav explained that SMS text messages and internet connectivity are helpful to
many people. He feels there is no prohibition in using either of these
is certainly preferable to have a Kosher phone but this is a Chumra and not an
obligation. One who feels that a non-kosher phone is a Michshol
(stumbling-block) must prohibit himself from using such a device” the Rav
Aviner continued by explaining there are things that the Torah does not
prohibit, but if a person realizes that such a thing will cause him to stumble,
he must place restrictions upon himself to avoid falling due to this Michshol.
answers hundreds of text message questions a day! Here's a sample:
Ma’arat Ha-Machpelah and
Q: I want to daven in Ma’arat
Ha-Machpelah but my mother is shaking from fear that something will happen to
me?Should I give in to her?
A: Yes.Even though it is not dangerous, you should
give in.If she instructed you to
violate a Torah transgression, a Rabbinic transgression or even an accepted
custom in Israel, you would not obey.But davening at Ma’arat Ha-Machpelah is none of these, although it is
important (Sefer Chasidim #340.Brought
in Beit Lechem Yehudah on Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah #240).
Soldier on Train
Q: Is it permissible for a
soldier to ride the train for free (in Israel) when he is not wearing his
uniform?I did and the inspector warned
me that it is forbidden and the next time I must be wearing my uniform.
A: You already received an
Male Lifeguard for Women
Q: Is it permissible for
women to swim in a separate beach or pool where there is a male lifeguard?
A: There should obviously be
a female lifeguard for women.But if
there is a male lifeguard, based on the fact that it is the women’s area, that
the people there are in a potentially life-threatening situation, and that the
lifeguard is involved in his job of keeping everyone safe (and is therefore not
staring at the women), it is permissible for women to swim there. Outside of
the water, a woman should wear a robe and it is proper even in the water to wear
a bathing suit which covers as much as possible.Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 4:62 (see
Ya"d Moshe 29).
Overcoming One's evil
Q: How great is the reward
for someone who overcomes his evil inclination?
A: Very, very great.
Q: I am incredibly worried
about the Iranian nuclear threat.What
should I do?
A: There is nothing to
fear."The Guardian of Israel
neither slumbers nor sleeps" (Tehilim 121:4)."All
who become angry with you will be shamed and humiliated.Those who fight with you will be like
nothingness and will perish.The men who
struggle with you, you will seek them but not find them.The men who fight you, they will be like
nothingness and naught."Yeshayahu
41:11-12.And Hashem performs this through
His loyal agent – Tzahal, who is ready for anything (A Kollel student from Elad
sent a letter to Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievsky that he has the possibility to prepare
British passports for his family since his parents are British citizens.
His question was: Due to the Iranian threat, is it advisable to do so because
of the frightening danger that is coming from the direction of the
Yishmaelim? Ha-Rav Kanievsky responded: "For not just one alone has
risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to
destroy us, and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their
Q: Is it permissible to eat
at a meal where the caterers hired immodestly dressed waitresses?
A: It is certainly forbidden
to use caterers such as these, and in general, there need to be waiters for men
and waitresses for women.But after the
fact, it is permissible to rely on Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein and eat there, and
one should not look at the waitresses. Eating in this environment is considered
a benefit which comes to a person against his will (see Ya"d Moshe 26).
Fasting and Pidyon Ha-Ben
Q: Is it true that
participating in a Pidyon Ha-Ben meal is equal to 84 fasts?
A: The Sdei Chemed says that
this is a nice saying that people use.Ma'arechet 60 Klal 54.In Shut
Emek Yehoshua, Yoreh Deah #18, he brings it in the name of the Arizal.But Ha-Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach was once
surprised at a student who missed a class in order to participate in a Pidyon
Ha-Ben meal, and he explained to the student that a Torah class is also equal
to 84 fasts.
Tooth that Fell Out
Q: What should one do with a
tooth that fell out?
A: As you wish (See Rashbam
on Berachot 5b.Shut Yabia Omer vol. 3
Yoreh Deah 321.Shut Tzitz Eliezer 10:5
Picture of Herzl
Q: Is it permissible to hang
a picture in one's house of Herzl next to a picture of Ha-Rav Kook, or it is
shaming Ha-Rav Kook?
A: It is totally acceptable,
but they should be hung in a way to show their different levels (It is well
known that along with pictures of the Netziv, the Aderet, Maran Ha-Rav Kook and
others, our Rabbi Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah had a picture of Herzl hanging in his
home.Three stories about the picture:1. Rav Avraham Romer related: "The
picture of Herzl once disappeared from our Rabbi’s house and there was a
suspicion that one of the students wanted 'to teach him a lesson.' When I
suggested that perhaps the picture fell behind the desk, he permitted me to
look there. When I found the picture, he was extremely happy and saw a
need to comfort me because he saw that I had been distressed. He told me
wondrous stories about Herzl and his position. He repeated the opinion of Reb
Aharon Marcus z"l Herzl who said that Herzl was a descendant of
Mahari Titzak [a famous Rabbi] and was from a Sefardic family. Gadol
Shimusha, p. 54.2. When a particular
Jew from the neighborhood of Geulah would come to our Rabbi's house, he would
turn over the picture of Herzl. Our Rabbi once caught him in the act and
asked him: Why are you doing this? Doesn't he have all five corners of
his beard [which may not be shaved according to the Torah]?!Iturei Cohanim #212.3. A student of our Rabbi saw Herzl's picture
hanging in the room where our Rabbi taught classes in his house, and it was
hanging among the pictures of our great Rabbis. He asked for an
explanation and our Rabbi gave an entire class on the fact that, whether we
like it or not, Herzl was the agent of the Master of the Universe in returning
independence to Israel in this generation. Ibid.).
and Yemenite Jews: Yeshayahu 54:1-55:5
the covenant between the Master of the Universe and the Nation of Israel be
cancelled on account of our sins?
is one of the central claims of Christian theology: the Jews ceased being the
Chosen Nation. The Nation of Israel remains only in body but not in
spirit.We were replaced by "Verus
Israel – the true Nation of Israel," which, according to their opinion, is
is certainly not the teaching of Yeshayahu in our Haftarah: "For the
mountains may move and the hills falter, but my kindness will not move from you
and My covenant of peace will not falter, says Hashem, who has mercy on
You" (Yeshayahu 54:10).
is no "Old Covenant" and there is no "New Covenant," just
one eternal love of the Eternal G-d for His Nation, which is also eternal.This is the "love which is not dependent
on anything" which is mentioned in Pirkei Avot (5:20); it is not
conditional and it therefore cannot be nullified.This is the love which we mention in
"Shacharit" (the morning prayers) before the Shema, i.e. "Ahavah
Rabbah" according to Ashkenazic tradition or "Ahavat Olam"
according to Sefardic tradition.
prophet Yirmiyahu is even more explicit: "Thus says Hashem, who gives the
sun for a light during the day and the laws of the moon and stars for a light
during the night, who sets the sea in motion and its wave to roar, the G-d of
Hosts is His Name.If these laws move
from before Me, says Hashem, then the offspring of Israel will also cease from
being a Nation before Me forever.Thus
says Hashem, if heaven above can be measured and the foundations of the earth
below searched, then I will cast off all of the offspring of Israel for all
that they have done, says Hashem" (Yirmiyahu 31:34:36).Just as the laws of nature are immutable, so
too is the law of the great history of the Chosen Nation of Israel.Yirmiyahu emphasizes that "for all that
they have done" (36), that is to say, despite all of our sins.Even if the entire natural world crumbles,
the Nation of Israel – the soul of the world – will not be consumed.
light of this incredible Divine love, how can we understand the Exile, and its
horrible suffering, which we experienced for such a long period?The prophet Yeshayahu encouraged us to see
this painful page of our history in the proper perspective: "For a brief
moment have I forsaken you, but with great mercies will I gather you"
(54:7).Is two thousand years of Exile
only a "brief moment"?!For
the Master of the Universe, and in relation to eternity, yes it is!Israel pleasantly confirms this in the Psalms:
"For a thousand years in Your eyes is like yesterday when it passed and
like a watch in the night" (Tehillim 90:4).In fact, we passed through the worst night,
but now the light of morning is shining on the horizon: "For you will
break forth to the right and the left, and your offspring will possess nations
and settle desolate cities" (Yeshayahu 54:3).
all of these events not materializing right before our very eyes?Instead of giving our attention to the bad
news, which is spread daily by the media to depress us, we should once again
read the optimistic, positive and realistic promises of the prophet
truth of the matter is that the prophet already knew that it would be difficult
for us to free ourselves from the trauma of the Exile, and the constant concern
and fear of our wanderings. So he teaches us about trust in Hashem."Do not fear, for you will not be
shamed; and do not be humiliated, for you will not be mortified; but you will
forget the shame of your youth, and you will not remember the mortification of
your widowhood anymore" (4).
not lose trust in Hashem, nor in ourselves, because of the difficult “moment”
in Exile.This period of lowliness and
destruction is finished once and for all – "In the overflowing of wrath I
hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness, I will have
mercy on you" (8).
era of love has returned: "Break out into song and be joyous" (1),
"Enlarge the place of your tent and stretch out the curtains of your
dwellings, spare not" (2), "Stay away from oppression for you do not
need to fear" (14).
To Enrich the spiritual life of the English-speaking World through the Torah of Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. By offering English translations of Rav Aviner’s written and oral Torah, this division of the yeshiva aims to expose English speakers to a powerful, sensitive and poetic voice unparalleled in our time. His unfailing optimism, his tolerance and love all Jews, his guidance for harmony within the Jewish family and his dedication to Eretz Yisrael, the State of Israel and Tzahal will inspire and enrich the lives of all who may now have access to his words.