Shut SMS #199


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

Driver Talking on Cell Phone

Q: Should one report to the police a driver who is holding a cell phone and talking on it?

A: Certainly.  It is a life-threatening situation (This is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv based on Sanhedrin 72 and Ketubot 35.  Kav Ve-Naki #676).

 

Ripped Shirt

Q: During a disagreement in school a friend grabbed my shirt and it ripped.  Is he obligated to pay for the damage?

A: If he acted in a regular way during the disagreement, he is exempt.  Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 421:13.  And this is all the more so if he is under the age of Bar Miztvah.  Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Misphat 424:8.  But you should check the school's rules in such matters.

 

The Taste of Pork

Q: Is it permissible to eat a Kosher spice that has the taste of pork?

A: Yes.  Like the brain of a Shibuta fish which tastes like pork (As Yalta says: "For everything that the Torah forbids, something similar is permitted".  Chullin 109b).

 

Ad of Shabbat Desecration

Q: Is it permissible for a newspaper to accept an ad for a company which violates Shabbat?

A: Certainly not.  It is aiding and strengthening transgressors.  And if it encourages Jews to participate in the Shabbat desecration, it is also forbidden on account of "Mesit" (enticing Jews to sin), as Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein writes (Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:99).

 

Bill with Divrei Torah

Q: Is it permissible to bring into the bathroom a 200 shekel bill which has Divrei Torah on it?

A: Only if it is in one's pocket, since the words are legible to someone with good eyesight.  See Shut Tzitz Eliezer 16:31.

 

Shehechiyanu for Reaching 70 Years Old

Q: Should one recite Shehechiyanu for reaching 70 years old?

A: This does not have a clear source (Shut Chavot Yair #70 writes that one who reaches the age of 70 should recite Shechiyanu.  And the Mishnat Yaakov 2:225 [brought in Piskei Teshuvot 223 note 50] writes that this was what the Chafetz Chaim did in front of his prize students).  The age of 60 is mentioned in the Gemara as a holiday since one passed the time of Karet (Moed Katan 28a, and brought in Ben Ish Chai Reeh #9 and Kaf Ha-Chaim 223:29).  But the age of 70 is not mentioned (Pri Megadim, Mishbetzot Zahav 444:9 and the Chatam Sofer, Orach Chaim 225:1 writes that it should be recited without mentioning Hashem's Name and Kingship).  Some recommend wearing a new garment on one's 70th birthday and reciting Shehechiyanu on both.  This is always possible (When Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren was Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, he recited Shehechiyanu on the night of Yom Ha-Atzmaut in Shul as was his opinion.  One of the people there questioned it, and Rav Goren waved his tie, as if to say that he was wearing a new tie, and so the blessing was on it.  After the davening, Rav Goren scolded the man: It is obvious to you that one says Shehechiyanu on a new tie, but not on a new State?!  Nonetheless, Ha-Rav Aviner did not recite Shehechiyanu on his recent 70th birthday). 

 

Cities Given Over by King Shlomo

Q: King Shlomo gave 20 cities to the King of Tzur in exchange for his help in building the Temple.  Can't we learn from here that it is permissible to give away parts of Eretz Yisrael in negotiations?

A: He only gave away the produce.  Rabbi Yitzchak Abrabanel.

 

Christianity

Q: Are all strands of Christianity considered idol worship?

A: There are different levels of idol worship, but they are all idol worship, since they claim that the father is the son, and they pray to the son.  Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, Yahadut Ve-Natzrut.

The Large Kippah


[Be-Ahavah U-B-Emunah – Tetzaveh 5773- translated by R. Blumberg]

 

Wear a large Kippah! Not because you have to, but because you want to. In life, you don’t do just what you have to. You also crave being good. Between the strong, exacting edifices of duty, there is a free atmosphere in which man’s pure cravings flow freely. 

Certainly there are obligations as well. Shulchan Aruch rules: “One should not walk four cubits with his head uncovered” (Orach Chaim 2:6).

And what is the minimum size?

1. According to Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Shlomo Kluger, most of the head must be covered (Shut Ha-Elef Lecha Shlomo), for you need a “head covering”, i.e., of the whole head, and most is equated with all.

2. According to Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Ovadia Hadayah, the Kippah has to be visible from all sides (Shut Yaskil Avdi vol. 6, p. 292). Otherwise, it’s not called a covering. Likewise, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef said, “It should be recognizable and visible from all sides of the head, front and back” (Shut Yehaveh Da’at 4:1).

3. According to Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein, it is best to take the strict approach and to cover most of one’s head, but legally, it suffices to have a head covering (Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:8). If it is too small it is not called a head covering, but just a decoration.

4. Some have ruled that the size of a hand suffices, because legally, another person can put his hand on his friend’s head, and his friend can recite blessings (Igrot Moshe, ibid.).

See also many more details on this in my own humble commentary on the Kitzur Shulchan

Aruch (3:6). Yet my point here is not to define the minimum size of the Kippah, because in life, a person does not just do the minimum. Rather, if something is precious to him, he adds to it with all his heart. A person does not live in a minimum size house. He does not buy a minimum size car, nor buy a secondhand shirt at the minimum price. People do not voluntarily subsist on bread and water. Rather, they augment their diet. All the more so should one augment his service to G-d, which is life’s purpose. The house, the car, clothing and food are only means, but the purpose is to serve G-d. Therefore, a person will be happy to add on for the sake of his reason for living, thereby giving his life content.

Why, after all, do we cover our heads? It is so that we will have the fear of G-d (Shabbat 156b). As Kitzur Shulchan Aruch states: “We have to accustom even small boys to covering their heads, so that they will have the fear of G-d. We have seen this in the case of Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak, whose mother did not allow him to bare his head. She told him ‘Cover your head so you will have the fear of G-d on you’ (Shabbat, ibid.)” (Kitzur Shulchan

Aruch 3:6). So, for a big Mitzvah such as this, we should be happy to wear a big covering on our heads. Certainly, the fear of G-d is the most important thing in life. “Fear Hashem your G-d” (Devarim 10:20). “And now, oh Israel, what does Hashem your G-d ask of you, but to fear Hashem your G-d?” (Ibid. 10:12). “The sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Revere G-d... for that is man’s whole purpose” (Kohelet 12:13).

Why, in effect, do people cover their heads? It is because the Divine presence is above our heads (Kiddushin 31a). Is there anything more important than the Divine presence above a person’s head?! Could there be anything more important to remember?! True, it is stylish nowadays for people to place themselves above all else, as if to coin a new verse: “I place myself before me always.” Yet that is not our style. We, the disciples of Avraham and the disciples of Moshe, say, “I place G-d before me always” (Tehillim 16:8). Surely that is the most supreme purpose of all - that G-d longed to have an abode on this Earth. So also for such a big Mitzvah is this, we should long to have a big Kippah.

And why do we wear a Kippah? Our great master Rambam wrote, “Torah scholars conduct themselves with great humility… They do not bare their heads” (Hilchot De’ot 5:6).

Humility! A prodigious concept! Kitzur Shulchan Aruch teaches: “It says, ‘Walk humbly with your G-d’ (Michah 6:8). Do not say, ‘I am here in an inner room, in the dark. Who sees me?’ G-d’s glory fills the whole earth, and for Him, darkness is like light. Humility and shame lead a person to subject himself to G-d” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 3:1). Great humility, a large Kippah!

You might ask: “But a large Kippah implies pride!” Sure it constitutes pride! But it is not pride for oneself, but pride for something larger. It represents pride that I am a Jew, pride over being part of a unique nation. Nowadays, nothing so marks Jews as their head covering.

Rabbi David Ha-Levi Segal [the “Taz” or Turei Zahav] already wrote that there is an outright prohibition against going bareheaded, because of the verse “Do not follow any of their customs” (Leviticus 18:3) (Orach Chaim 8, Taz 105. Quoted in Mishna Berura 2:11). True, this is a very novel idea. Yet based on this novel idea, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Avigdor Neventzal wrote, “Baring one’s head to appear non-observant violates a prohibition that while not actually being something one must give up one’s life to avoid, still verges on it” (Be-Yitzchak Yikarei on Mishna Berurah, Ibid.). The innovation is thus two-fold. True, it says in Chochmat Adam that wearing non-Jewish attire must be avoided with one’s life, but Rav Neventzal’s comment still remains a double innovation.

Interestingly, the author I. E. Peretz, who was not at all religious, wrote a short story about a poor Jew who was framed, and his punishment was to cross between two rows of soldiers who whipped him until he bled. He advanced without stumbling, but suddenly he discovered that his Kippah had fallen off. So, he turned around, walked back and picked up his Kippah and covered his head. Then he walked with his Kippah on his head until he fell...

As I said, I. E. Peretz belonged to the Enlightenment, but unlike others of that movement, he did not attack G-d-fearing Jews, but was impressed by their pure hearts and by their heroically sacrificing themselves to sanctify G-d’s name.

So, always wear a Kippah. A big Kippah. Wear it during sports, war games, in battle, always wear one.

You might ask: how can I wear a large Kippah when there are Torah scholars greater than I who wear small Kippot? Am I greater than they?! Certainly I am smaller than they, but I do what I do, and they do what they do. They are busy doing very great things for the sake of G-d’s glory, while I am involved with smaller things, such as wearing a Kippah. Yet for me it is a great Mitzvah. I love it, I yearn for it, I rejoice over it, and through it, G-d has given me a way to stand fast. I am a small person with a big Kippah.

 

Haftarat Parashat Parah: The Sanctification of Hashem's Great Name


[Ashkenazim: Yechezkel 36:16-33

Yemenite Jews/Sefardim: Yechezkel 36:16-36]

 

"And I will sanctify My great name that was desecrated among the nations, that you desecrated among them.  Then the nations will know that I am Hashem" (Yechezkel 36:23).

 

Our Haftarah is a special one, and is related to the additional Torah reading called "Parah."  This portion deals with the "Parah Adumah" - the Red Heifer that is designated to rid us of all impurity incurred by contact with the dead.  Its theme of purification explains why we read this portion in the weeks leading up to Pesach: after all, the holiday itself, and its requirement to visit the Temple, obligate us to purify ourselves. The purification described in this Haftarah, however, does not pertain to the individual, but rather to the entire Nation, at the conclusion of the Exile, when it truly needs it.

 

"And the word of Hashem came to me, saying: Son of man, the House of Israel, as long as they lived on their own Land, they defiled it by their way and by their misdeeds; like the uncleanness of a woman in the period of her separation was their way before Me" (ibid. 16-17).  As is known, the Nation of Israel was mired in the most severe sins: idol worship, illicit sexual relations, and murder – sins that require a radical transformation, i.e. exile.  "I poured out My wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the Land and because they had defiled it with their idols.  And I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the lands.  According to their way and their misdeeds did I judge them" (ibid. v. 18-19).  Since we were unable to act as a Holy Nation, we were cast out among the nations of the world.  But a severe problem, no less hideous than the one which caused the destruction, arose while we were in exile.

 

"And they entered the nations where they came, and they desecrated My Holy Name" (ibid. v. 20).  What type of desecration of Hashem's Name are we discussing?  Didn't the Nation of Israel reach the ultimate of desecrating Hashem's Name while performing those horrible sins?  This desecration was something else, which the verse specifies: "It was said of them: These are the Nation of Hashem, and they have come out of His Land" (ibid.).

 

Humanity well knows that the Nation of Israel is the Chosen Nation and that the Land of Israel belongs to them.  But things have gone awry: instead of being master of its Land, the Nation of Israel became a wandering and outcast Nation.  It is an unbearable national failure.  "But I had pity on My Holy Name, which the House of Israel had desecrated among the nations to which they had come" (ibid. v. 21).  The entire purpose of Creation is sanctifying Hashem, who brought down his Divine Presence from the supreme worlds to the lower worlds in order to reside in them and illuminate them through the Nation of Israel.  And yet this eternal plan directed the Nation of Israel to be temporarily located outside of its Land.

 

"So says Hashem G-d: Not for your sake do I do this, House of Israel, but for My Holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations to which they have come" (ibid. v. 22).  Hashem acts in this way not for Israel's sake but in order to sanctify His Great Name: "And I will sanctify My Great Name, which was profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst, and the nations will know that I am Hashem, so says Hashem G-d, when I will be sanctified through you before their eyes" (ibid. v. 23).  It was (and is) incumbent upon us to sanctify Hashem's name, but we betrayed our mission. So Hashem took the mission upon Himself.  But did He repair this terrible affront to His Holy Name?  "For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the lands, and I will bring you to your Land" (ibid. v. 24).  The ingathering of the exiles, the revival of the Nation of Israel in its Land and returning to nationhood is the great sanctification of Hashem’s name.  In this way, everything returns to its proper order, according to the Divine plan.  But it is not a redemption that occurs because the Nation of Israel merits it.

 

"And I will sprinkle pure water upon you, and you will be purified from all your impurities; and from all your abominations, I will purify you" (ibid. v. 25).  A Jew who makes aliyah is not necessarily pure, but he will become pure.  This idea is contrary to the view of some Rabbis that the purification of the Nation of Israel must precede their return to Eretz Yisrael.  The prophet Yechezkel teaches us, in the Name of Hashem, the exact opposite.  The Exile is a desecration of Hashem's Name and not a place for purification.  Purification can only occur in Eretz Yisrael.

 

"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh" (ibid. v. 26).  Even some Jews who make aliyah will have a heart of stone, but they will receive a heart of flesh when they root themselves in the Land.  The spiritual revival of the Nation will follow the national revival, according to the Divine blueprint.  "And I will put My spirit within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do [them]" (ibid. v. 27).  The performance of the Mitzvot comes at a much later stage in the purification of the Nation of Israel. It is caused by the purifying waters and the heart of flesh.

 

And in order to make it completely clear that our Redemption is not dependent upon our merits and repentance, Yechezkel emphasized: "And you shall remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own eyes on account of your sins and on account of your abominations.  Not for your sake do I do it, says Hashem G-d, may it be known to you, be embarrassed and ashamed for your ways, House of Israel" (ibid. v. 31-32).

 

Yechezkel transmitted to us a precise plan for the Redemption and the revival of the Nation of Israel.  According to this Divine blueprint, the Nation of Israel will first return to its Land, and only then experience, little by little, an ethical, spiritual, and religious purification.  The Master of the Universe guides the purification of the Nation of Israel, first removing us from the impurity of Exile, and next renewing our body, heart and spirit.  Only then are we ready to fulfill the Torah's mitzvot.

 

Just as the first part of Yechezkel's prophecy is coming true before our eyes, i.e. the return of the Nation of Israel to its Land, so too is a new idealistic, ethical, and spiritual spirit manifesting itself in our time.  We must not despair that the process is a slow one. It will be perfected in later stages of our Salvation, and it will lead us to complete and supreme unity with Hashem and His Torah.

 

Shut SMS #198


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

 

Making Noise at Mention of Haman

Q: Is the Minhag to make noise during the reading of the Megillah only when Haman's name is mentioned or also for his wife and sons?

A: According to the Shevet Musar, also for his wife and sons.  Piskei Teshuvot 690:9.  But in general, one should only make noise for Haman for a short amount of time and one should not disrupt the reading of the Megillah.  Do not turn the essential into the unessential and the unessential into the essential (Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach did not make any noise at Haman's name, not even stamping his feet.  Ve-Alehu Lo Yibol, Vol. 1 p. 246.  See She'eilat Shlomo 1:276).

 

Fireworks

Q: Is it permissible to shoot off fireworks on Purim?

A: It is certainly forbidden.  They cause all sorts of injuries during the year, and very severe ones.  In addition there is the fear they cause.  Purim is a day to express the love of Israel and not a day to cause her pain.

 

Cross-Dressing for Purim

Q: Is it permissible for a man to dress as a woman for Purim?

A: Some authorities permit it, but most forbid it.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 696:8.  Mishnah Berurah #30.  It is therefore proper to refrain. 

Q: And a woman to dress as a man?

A: Same as above.  But certainly not in the presence of men since it is eye-fetching.

Q: And children?

A: There are those who are also strict.  Piskei Teshuvot ibid. #14 (Aruch Ha-Shulchan ibid. #12.  Shut Yechaveh Da'at 2:50.  Orchot Rabbenu 3:60. Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:287.  A close associate of the Chazon Ish entered his house on Purim with his 4-5 year old daughter wearing pants. The Chazon Ish said: This is education?  Dinim Ve-Hanhagot of the Chazon Ish 22:10).

 

Honoring Torah Scholars on Purim

Q: Is it permissible to have a play on Purim which imitates Torah scholars?

A: One must be extremely cautious on Purim not to embarrass another person and all the more so to embarrass Torah scholars (Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, scolded someone who dressed up on Purim like the Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren.  Rabbenu p. 130.  And it is related that Maran Ha-Rav Kook said Divrei Torah on Purim in the same style and with the same emphasis as his Rav, the Netziv, but Rav Kook knew how to do so with respect and holiness, and also did not imitate his voice.  See Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:285. 4:131).

 

Toy Gun for Children

Q: It is permissible to buy a toy gun for children for Purim?

A: It is okay.  During the course of the year, this is inappropriate culture, but it is not a problem on occasion.

 

Drinking on Purim

Q: Is a person obligated to drink on Purim if it leads to stupidity?

A: No.  The earlier Prophets only commanded us to rejoice in a manner that will lead us to show gratitude to Hashem, and not to behave with licentiousness and stupidity.  And we do not perform a Mitzvah through a transgression, such as missing Davening.  Biur Halachah 695 in the name of the Meiri and Chayei Adam.  Nimukei Yosef and Meharsha on Megillah 7b.  Piskei Teshuvot 695:4.  And in such a case, one should merely drink a bit more than he is accustomed to (The Steipler related that one time he got drunk on Purim, and then decided to refrain from doing so again.  Ashkavtei De-Rebbe Vol. 1, p. 164.  See Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:274, 286. 3:159. 4:130).

 

Insurance Money

Q: I received money for my car from my insurance company based on an estimate from the garage.  The owner then gave me a discount.  Does the money left over from the discount belong to me or to the insurance company?

A: It seems that it belongs to the insurance company since they compensate based on the actual payment.  You should therefore inform the insurance company and they will decide (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Choshen Mishpat 183:6 and commentaries there).  

 

Separating Terumah from Public Tree

Q: Is one obligated to separate Terumot and Maasarot from a tree grown on public property?

A: If everyone has permission to pick the fruit, it is considered ownerless and one need not separate them.  Rambam, Hilchot Terumot 2:11.  If permission is only given to the residents of that area, one is obligated to separate them.

 

Shidduch and Scars

Q: If a young woman has a scar on her body from surgery, does she need to tell a potential Shidduch?

A: No.  It is an unimportant issue (This is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv that it is only necessary if it came from a dog bite which dug deeply into the skin.  Ketubot 75a.  Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha-Ezer 39:4.  Kav Ve-Naki #524).

 

Shabbat Elevator

Q: Is it permissible for anyone to use a Shabbat elevator or only one who is ill or suffering?

A: It is permissible for anyone.  It is obviously always good to be strict.  The effect of the weight of the rider is an unintended act and negligible.  Shemirat Shabbat Ke-Hilchata (23:58-59 and in the notes in the name of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach).

 

The Holocaust

Q: It is difficult for me to understand how Hashem allowed the Holocaust.

A: It is indeed difficult, but it is also difficult to understand how you are asking this question in a text message.  It is too complex for a text message.  See my book "Orot Me-Ofel".

 

Antidote to the Evil Inclination

Q: "I have created the Evil Inclination, and I have created Torah as its antidote" (Kiddushin 30b).  Learning Torah is for men – what then is the antidote for women?

A: Modesty.  The letter of the Vilna Gaon.

Rav Aviner in the News: I was sent by Mossad to Iran



 

Rumors surrounding Rabbi Shlomo Aviner's ties to the Mossad have been circulating for years, and on Thursday he admitted for the first time that he was sent by the Israeli intelligence agency to Iran, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

In an interview with religious website "Kippah," the Rabbi from Beit El recounted the recruitment process: "Following the (Islamic) revolution of 1979, I received a phone call. 'Shlomo, we need you.'" The following day Aviner was sent to Iran with a French passport.

The Rabbi said he was asked to relay a list from Israel to Iran, but he refused to offer any other details. The cover story was that Aviner was visiting Iran as a representative of the French Rabbinate to provide Iranian Jews with matzos for Passover.

"I was terrified and prayed that I wouldn't be checked too much at the passport desk, but they let me pass without asking too many questions," Aviner told the website.


Asked how he managed to relay messages from Iran to Israel, the Rabbi said, "My aunt ran an international chandelier business in France and she exported (chandeliers) to many countries, including Iran. I used public phones to place calls, pretending to be a client, and used code words to relay the information to her."

Aviner returned to Israel and was recruited for another mission after Passover. The Rabbi said he cut short the second mission after noticing he was being followed.

 

Rav Aviner in the News: Drafting Charedim



 

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, municipal Rabbi of Beit El, dean of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem and another leading figure in the national-religious community, similarly rejected the idea of imposing a universal draft on Charedi yeshiva students but said it was a Mitzvah, a religious obligation in Jewish law, to serve in the army in order to protect Jewish lives, protect the Land of Israel and sanctify God’s name.

“We need to gain the trust of the Charedi world and the deans of their yeshivas, in order to get more Charedi men to enlist and we need to be tolerant because coercion won’t work,” said [Rav] Aviner, adding that “men of faith and spirituality” were vital to the state.

The Rabbi refused to comment on the current political wrangling on the issue, however, saying that he would not address the different positions being presented on the issue in the current coalition negotiations.

 

 

Don’t Live off of Loans


[Be-Ahavah U-B-Emunah – Terumah 5773- translated by R. Blumberg]

 

Don't take loans if you’re not sure you can pay them back. That is also a type of theft.

“The wicked man borrows and does not repay” (Tehillim 37:21).

Do not say, “I've got a lot of expenses, and I have no choice.” Certainly you’ve got a choice. The rule is: Don’t spend more than you earn. Spend less!

Less! 1) Because you must return all your loans. 2) Because you need reserve funds for unexpected expenses, pleasant or unpleasant. An example of a pleasant expense is a wedding. An example of an unpleasant expense is a washing machine that has to be replaced.

You therefore need a reserve fund.

Don’t spend money you don’t have. That is morally licentious, even morally corrupt – living off the money of others.

Our Sages said that there are four types who are too impossible for words, and one of them is a poor man who is arrogant (Pesachim 13b). This refers to a person of little income who lives like a rich man.

As a rule, don’t spend more than you bring in. Towards that end, here are several practical pieces of advice:

 

A. Don’t rely on your intuition. Rather, keep a precise budget that covers annual, monthly, weekly and daily figures. Realize how much each item costs you, as with car upkeep and cellular phones. Knowledge is power. Just as we must spiritually take stock, so must we take stock of our holdings. That, too, constitutes taking stock spiritually.

 

B. Use cash. Don’t use a credit card or checks. Just use cash. That way you’ll know whether you have money or not.

 

C. Limit expenses and cancel unnecessary ones. Don’t envy others and don’t covet their possessions. Jealousy, lust and seeking honor banish a person from the world. Not just the world-to-come, but this world too. Get by with little. Who is rich? He who is content with his lot (Avot 4:1).

Here are some details:

1. When you make a wedding, there is no obligation to invite so many people or to hire an expensive hall, catering service, band or photographer. Don’t take loans that are not based on what you own now.

2. The same goes for the engagement party, the Shabbat festivities before the wedding, the festivities during the week after the wedding, bar and bat mitzvahs, circumcisions, kiddushs, etc.

3. Move to a more inexpensive apartment. Avoid remodeling and expensive furniture.

4. Buy a less expensive car. Or live without a car altogether. It is possible.

5. Limit telephone use. There’s no need to talk so much.

6. Buy simple, inexpensive, essential food.

7. Don’t eat out. Bring sandwiches, fruit, etc. with you,

8. You can smoke less… You can smoke not at all. Each year 10,000 people die from smoking, with a sixth of them dying from passive smoking, and hundreds of thousands more who get ill.

9. Limit travel expenses.

10. Limit electricity expenses. My late father-in-law, of blessed memory, received free electricity as one of the perks of his important position in the Electric Company, yet he still went around the house turning off every unnecessary light. He taught: “Someone is paying for this!”

11. Buy inexpensive clothing. Second- hand stores have an enormous selection of lovely clothing in excellent condition at rock-bottom prices.

12. During vacation time, expenses skyrocket. Don’t spend on anything you feel like.  Keep your spending under control.

13. The same applies at holiday time.

 

D. The Consumer Culture: Steer clear of the consumer culture, and from going on shopping excursions to malls. Don’t go in there! It’s a place full of unnecessary temptations.

If you must, plan in advance and prepare yourself psychologically not to be tempted. Go to less fancy stores. Compare prices. And remember: shopping is not a recreational activity, nor a treatment for depression.

 

E. Admit the truth: If you’ve got a problem with overspending, admit it. It’s a sickness. True, you’re not the only one. About half of the Jewish People live in overdraft.

Yet that is no consolation. Pal, you’re sick! Get a hold of yourself! Nobody will solve this problem for you. Don’t expect others to come up with the solution, and not the government, as they do at demonstrations. Rather, the only guilty party is you. Because you are spending money that you don’t have.

 

F. Redemption comes gradually. Save another hundred shekels, another ten shekels, another shekel. One small saving and then another, add up to a great saving. One penny to another adds up to a large sum.

 

G. No more overdraft. Important rule: Have no overdraft. In the United States, it doesn’t exist. If a person there is missing one dollar in his account, a thousand dollar check will bounce. In Israel, the bank doesn’t allow overdraft out of kindness, but because it makes a lot money from it, and your own debt balloons. They say of overdraft that it is sweet at first, but bitter in the end.

 

H. No loans. Don’t take loans. They’re not a wonder cure. Loans have to be paid off! Don’t keep borrowing to pay off loans. In the end everything will collapse like a house of cards.

 

I. Not even interest-free loans. Even they have to be paid off. A free-loan is not a gift.  Other people are waiting for the money. Don’t steal from Free-loan societies. Don’t live at other people’s expense, not even to do mitzvoth, except for a few exceptions. Don’t be a beggar. Don’t be a Schnorrer.

 

J. The same applies to your children. Teach your children thrift. Don’t give in to their pressuring you to buy them everything their heart desires. Don’t submit to extortion. Such submission begets worse extortion. Show them your budget and let them share in the responsibility. Start teaching them from age five, the age when education begins. Handling money is part of education as well. Give your children spending money on a monthly, weekly or daily basis. Let them decide what to do with it, whether to save it or to buy items or to go out on excursions. Let them take responsibility. They can get jobs as well.