Shut SMS #226

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

Tent on Shabbat

Q: Is it permissible on Shabbat for children to put a blanket over chairs to make a roof?

A: No.  It is making a tent (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-Hilchata 24:2, 5).


Asking for Forgiveness

Q: My sister and I have been fighting for a long time.  I apologized.  She accepted but demands that I apologize for something else, which I did not do but she did!  She hasn't apologized at all.  What should I do?

A: Don't be correct, rather be righteous and smart.



Q: If I wear immodest clothing, against whom do I transgress?  To whom do I have to ask forgiveness?

A: From Hashem.


Call about a Sick Person on Shabbat

Q: My grandmother who lives outside of Israel is extremely ill.  My irreligious uncle has called us 5 times from there on Shabbat.  Is it permissible for us to call him after Shabbat here even though it is still Shabbat there to check on her?

A: No.  It is only permissible when the call will help in a life-threatening situation.


Halachic Ruling based on Majority

Q: If we rule based on majority, how can we be sure that we have located every opinion? There are so many authorities!

A: We rule not only based on a numerical majority, but on a majority of wisdom, as the Ramban writes: one great Torah scholar equals a huge group of the unknowledgeable, the size of those who left Egypt.  Everything is relative (See Alo Naale #46.  Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter once discussed the book Darkei Teshuvah on Yoreh Deah of the Munkatcher Rebbe, which is a collection of all the Acharonim on each sentence in the Shulchan Aruch.  The first approbation is from Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spector.  A student of Ha-Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel, told Rav Schachter that Rav Ruderman once privately related to his students that Rav Spector regretted giving his approbation after the book was published.  The reason was that the book presents lists of authorities who permit or forbid certain things, but there is no distinction between the authorities - it is as if they are all on the same level.  This however is incorrect.  For example, the Divrei Chaim is worth 100 votes).    


Shaliach Tzibur and his Wife

Q: If a man's wife dresses immodestly, can he serve as a Shaliach Tzibur?

A: Yes.  He is not guilty.


Le-Shem Yichud

Q: Is it permissible and advisable for a person to say "Le-Shem Yichud" before every Mitzvah?

A: Certainly not.  These are deep and secretive concepts.  And the Noda Be-Yehudah (Mahadura Kama, Yoreh Deah #93) already complained about those who recite it before Davening, and we do not need more than this in order to refrain from doing so (The Tzanzer Rebbe, the Divrei Chaim, greatly praised the Noda Be-Yehudah.  And to those Chasidim who spoke negatively against the Noda Be-Yehudah on account of his opposition to reciting Le-Shem Yichud, the Divrei Chaim said that one who disputes the Noda Be-Yehudah is a heretic and anyone who doesn't like it should not visit him.  Hadrat Kodesh, p. 80.  And he obviously did not recite the Le-Shem Yichud.  Toldot Kol Aryeh, p. 112.  And it is written in Shut Chavot Yair #210 that its recitation is only for great Torah scholars.  The Klausenberger Rebbe say that Le-Shem Yichud was only given to the greatly righteous and not to regular people who have not reached the level to understand the meaning of this statement about the unity of Hashem.  Sefer Halichot Chaim Sefirat Ha-Omer #3.  The Baal Ha-Tanya wrote that one should recite the Le-Shem Yichud once a day before Baruch She-Amar in the morning and this would cover its recitation for the entire day.  Shaarei Halachah U-Minhag Vol. 1 #61.  There are many, however, who do recite it before each Mitzvah.  The Chida wrote that one should not pay attention to what the Noda Be-Yehudah wrote, for he belittled the recitation of Le-Shem Yichud, he came to anger the Chasidim of his land, and argued with clean hands with the Rashbi and the Arizal.  Simchat Regel 5:1.  And many Chasidim do recite the Le-Shem Yichud before each Mitzvah and explain that there is no questioning it after Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk and the students of the Baal Shem Tov acted in this way according to the words of the Arizal, who was unique in revealing the secrets of Hashem.  And this is indeed the Minhag of Belzer Chasidim.  However, on the Yahrzeit of the Noda Be-Yehuda during Sefirat Ha-Omer, there are Tzadikim who do not recite it out of respect for the Noda Be-Yehudah.  And this was in fact the practice of the Belzer Rebbe, Ha-Rav Aharon Rokeach.  Shut Divrei Pinchas of Ha-Rav Pinchas Avraham Meyers, Av Beit Din of Antwerp, vol. 1 #2).