Shut SMS #219


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

Babies Forgotten in Cars

Q: Are the 3 tragedies of babies dying from being forgotten in cars a hint from Hashem?

A: That we should be extremely careful.

 

Ashes on a Groom's Head

Q: Should one put ashes on the groom's head as a remembrance of the destruction of the Temple?

A: Yes.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 560.  And some are lenient and say that we remember by breaking the glass.  Aruch Ha-Shulchan and Kaf Ha-Chaim ibid.  But it is proper to put them.  Piskei Teshuvot ibid.  And say the verse: "If I forget you Yerushalayim…".  Taz ibid. (During the expulsion from Gush Katif, before Ha-Rav left, he filled a bag with sand from there.  At weddings, he places both burnt ashes from Yerushalayim and sand from Gush Katif on the groom's head). 

 

Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ascending on High

Q: When Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah ascended on high was there an obligation for the students to tear their garments?

A: If one considered himself a student (And Ha-Rav Yechezkel Greenwald related that when Rabbenu passed away, this question was asked of Ha-Rav Tzvi Tau, and he directed the students to ask Ha-Rav, who said that anyone who considers himself a student should tear.  Similarly, Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski told the yeshiva students to tear their garments when Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv passed away, since they were his students.  The booklet "Divrei Shi"ach, p. 45).

 

Marriage

Q: My wife hugs and kisses her relatives.  I spoke to her and it did not help.  What should I do?  Ignore it?

A: Yes.  You are not her teacher but rather her friend.

 

Meaurement of Ha-Rav Chaim Naeh

Q: I heard that the Kiddush cup of the Chafetz Chaim was like the measurement of Ha-Rav Chaim Naeh and not like that of the Chazon Ish.  What is the source?

A: This is brought by Ha-Rav Moshe Karp as testified by the Chafetz Chaim's grandson, Ha-Rav Hillel Zacks, the Rav of the Brachfeld neighborhood in Kiryat Sefer, who inherited the Chafetz Chaim's Kiddush cup.  Hilchot Chag Be-chag – Pesach, Chapter 19 note #11 (and also brought in Meged Givot Olam Vol. 2, p. 34).  And the author of Einyaim Le-Mishpat, who inherited the Vilan Gaon's Kiddush cup, also testified that it was the smaller measurement.  Ibid.  And I also heard that someone has a Kiddush cup which was given as a gift by the Or Sameach and it is the smaller measurement as well.  As for the Mishnah Berurah, he writes that for Rabbinic Mitzvot, one uses the smaller measurement and for Torah Mitzvot, one should be strict to use the larger measurement.  271:8.  Biur Halachah ibid.  486:1 (and see Ha-Rav's commentary on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 43:5.  And we can add that Ha-Rav Eliyahu Dessler used to recite Kiddush with a smaller Kiddush cup as long as his wife was alive, since she brought the Kiddush cup from her family and he did not want to insult her.  After she passed away, he began using a larger Kiddush cup.  Ve-Haarev Na Vol 1, p. 369-371).   

 

Rabbis who Err

Q: Is there an obligation to believe that Rabbis do not err?

A: No.  It is possible that they err.  Moshe Rabbenu erred three times (Sifre Matot 31:21).

 

Rabbi So-And-So Permits it

Q: Sometimes Ha-Rav answers a question: "Rabbi So-And-So permits it".  Does this mean that Ha-Rav does not permit it, or is there some other reason for Ha-Rav turning the questioner over to another Rabbi's answer?

A: It is either because I do not personally permit it or I do permit it but it is a Chiddush and one needs broad shoulders to allow it (Someone once asked the Chazon Ish if it is permissible for someone who suffering from sweating to shower during the 9 Days?  He answered: "Reb Elya Dushintzer holds that it is permissible".  Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski wrote that he asked the Chazon Ish about this and he said that he does not permit it.  Orchot Rabben Vol. 1, p. 375.  And see Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 4:84.  And Ha-Rav Yehoshua Katz – Rav of Maale Adumim – once asked Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv a question, and he responded: "Reb Moshe permits it."  Rav Katz said: "But I want to know Ha-Rav's opinion."  Rav Elyashiv said: "My opinion is that Reb Moshe permits it", i.e. but he does not.  And it is related in the book "Oro Shel Olam" p. 343 about Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach that a woman once came to him after the doctors revealed in prenatal testing that there was a chance that her fetus had a birth defect, and she wanted to have an abortion.  It was known that Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman was not among those who permitted an abortion in such a case, since he thought that the chance of the baby having a birth defect was low.  When he began to talk to the woman about it, he said that his words fell on deaf ears.  He said to her: "The truth is that I do not understand this matter so much.  I will send you to someone who understands it much more than me.  His name is Ha-Rav Eliezer Waldenberg…"  Rav Waldenberg – the Tzitz Eliezer – permitted abortion in such a case.  See Shut Tzitz Eliezer 9:51, 13:102).

On the Temptation to Fan Controversy


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

 

The evil impulse is a very intelligent being, and doubly so when it comes to fanning controversy.

What does the evil impulse say?

It slyly turns to the Charedim and says, “Look at those secular people! They're the lowest of the low.  How destructive they are of the Torah and those who learn it, thereby destroying our Nation.” Quite logical. Quite convincing!

Encouraged by its success, it turns to the secular: “Look at those Charedim, the lowest of the low. How destructive they are of the army and the labor force, thereby destroying our Nation.” Quite logical. Quite convincing!

It then bounces back to the Charedim, hammering away at their brains, thereby succeeding in sowing discord between the two groups. It rubs its hands together with pleasure, and having fanned the flames of discord, those flames spread by independently. The work of the evil impulse is then carried on by others, leaving it free to turn to other missions. Truly creative.

As for those who believe in the Torah, the Nation and the Land of Israel, they are caught in a heavy crossfire, shot at from both sides, and they, too, take shots at both sides. That is the doing of the evil impulse, which takes new forms daily.

I forgot to mention that within each group the evil impulse also creates illusory subgroups and fans quarrels between them. So our own internal forces also shoot at one another. Obviously, the primary division between the Charedim and the secular is illusory. The whole thing is illusory. It's all nonsense.

Now you might ask: What do you want from the evil impulse when it sows strife? Isn't it just doing the job that G-d charged it to do? To incite people, to make them sin, to make them quarrel, both with their fellow man and with their spouse? It makes them sin, sets them up for the kill, and then slaughters them. That’s its job!

Yet there is an interesting opinion of our Sages in the Talmud that one who slaughters on the Sabbath is guilty of the work category called Tzove'a. This word Tzove'a here has the literal meaning of “dyeing”, but the word's root can also mean “hypocracy”. The evil impulse, which slaughters the sinner, is indeed a hypocritical liar and a cheat. When it talks to the Charedi, it disguises itself as a Charedi, talks like a Chareidi, using the distinct accent of the Charedi.

When it addresses the secular Jew, it speaks lovely, fluent secular Hebrew, proving very pleasing to them.

Even when it addresses the disciples of Maran Ha-Rav Kook, it talks in the language of Rav Kook's disciples. Of course that is a bit difficult, but the evil impulse adapted itself quite quickly, and the followers of Rav Kook do not succeed at distinguishing between the evil impulse and their master. After all, it learned in the yeshiva of Rav Kook, Mercaz HaRav! When was he there? He was there together with us.

So, you must be stubborn with stubborn characters. We'll lay a trap for that scoundrel. We'll interrogate him up and down in the court of justice composed of both Charedi and secular judges, but obviously, the chief justice of the court will be a National Religious Jew. After all, we National Religious Jews are better than everyone else, smarter than everyone else, more perfect than everyone else, and we have an official document signed by the evil impulse. Actually, others, as well, claim that they have a similar document (but theirs’ are obviously forged)....

And we, the court, will ask the evil impulse of strife, controversy and quarreling several incisive questions:

Q: What is your name and your address?

A: I am the evil impulse, a.k.a. the hypocrite. My address is everywhere. I am not prejudiced. I live with everyone, Charedim and Zionists, religious and irreligious, Yemenites and Ethiopians, academics and day laborers... I also work with children and youth.

Q: Who do you work for? The Charedim, the secular or the religious? Who are you with?

I'm not with anybody. I am with evil, but I cheat, and that way I succeed.

Q: How do you cheat?

I know that you are really one Nation, with more in common than what divides you, that G-d loves all of you, and that all of you face the same trouble from your enemies, that you are all good people, and that there is only one way to destroy you.

Q: Namely?

The paragraph of the Hagaddah "Ve-Hi She'amda" can be interpreted as teaching that when we are not united as one Nation, precisely that is what rises up to destroy us.

Q: But that's not the simple meaning of the words!

That's my interpretation, and it works...

Q: You tell us all this to our face. Are you not afraid that we will expose your deception?

No, because you are idiots. For thousands of years you have been fighting amongst yourselves, bringing calamity on yourselves, and you haven't yet learned your lesson.

Q: So we've got some news for you.

Which is?

Q: We have indeed learned our lesson. Presently there really is a lot of love within the Jewish Nation.

A lot of love?! Easily disprovable! I have just now organized great quarrels over drafting yeshiva students into the army, and over yeshiva budgets. It was my idea, to sow strife, and it has been a resounding success.

Q: You failed. We didn't take the bait.

You sure did!

Q: No. A small minority sinned. Most did not.  The mainstream of each stream did not sin. Only isolated individuals.

           Isolated individuals! Yet even a single dead fly can ruin all the ointment.

Q: You're wrong. We got confused for a moment, but now we are returning to sanity.

           It doesn't look that way.

Q: But it is that way. You don't see because you are blind. Look how in the army itself there is love and brotherhood and peace and friendship amongst everybody. And that sets the tone for all Israeli life. We are going in the right direction, and we are progressively being healed. Are there differences of opinion? Yes! Are there divisions of the heart? No! Are there wars over opinions? Is there a civil war? No! Because we are brothers! One Nation with one heart. “Who is like you, one united Nation in the Land.”

 

Are Levi's Kosher?


Q: Is it permissible to wear jeans or a jean skirt?  I heard that some rabbis ruled that it is forbidden because jeans are not modest.

A: Quite simply, the material itself is not a problem.  This material is durable, not easily ruined and, as is well-known, quite affordable.  This material also does not stick to the body.  A material which sticks to the body and outlines its contours is not modest for men and, all the more so, for women.  My understanding is that the rabbis who say that it is forbidden to wear jeans do not do so because of immodesty, but because they represent a distorted culture.  When you wear jeans, you identify with this culture.  The whole problem of wearing clothing which represents the surrounding non-Jewish culture is called "Chukat Ha-Goyim – following the non-Jewish practices."  It is forbidden for us to wear the same clothing as non-Jews.  This prohibition only applies, however, if the non-Jews are the only ones who wear a particular type of clothing.  If observant Jews also wear them, there is no problem of "Chukat Ha-Goyim."  This discussion is similar to one regarding the black suit worn today by many yeshiva students.  Originally in Russia, yeshiva students did not wear suits, they wore all sorts of long coats.  What happened?  Rabbi Yisrael Salanter once visited Paris and he saw that university students were wearing suits.  He said, "Those who are learning in yeshiva need to dress like those students.  They are students of Torah and holiness."  In Lithuania, the students therefore wore suits.  When those students arrived in Jerusalem, the Sages of Jerusalem excommunicated them.  They wrote harsh broadsides that wearing this type of clothing is a violation of "Chukat Ha-Goyim."  One needs a long coat.  There is a principle, however, that if people breach this prohibition and dress like non-Jews, they are in violation, but once this practice has spread, it is no longer forbidden since this dress is no longer worn solely by non-Jews.  This is stated in the responsa of the Rashba (vol. 5 #121).   It is possible that in the past someone who wore jeans was identifying with the distorted culture, but today all sorts of people wear clothing made with jean material, both men and women, including righteous, G-d-fearing individuals.  It is therefore permissible to wear such clothing.  Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein also has a responsum on this issue in "Igrot Moshe" (Yoreh De'ah 1:81).  He was asked if there is a requirement to wear the clothing which Jews wore in Poland, since in America both Jews and non-like dress alike.  Ha-Rav Moshe answered that it is permissible to wear the clothing like the non-Jews since there is no unique type of Jewish clothing, and even G-d-fearing Jews wear the clothing like the non-Jews.  Similarly, there is a story told about a couple who moved from Hungary to America, and the wife wanted to cover her with a wig like others in America instead of shaving her hair and wearing a scarf as had been the custom of her foremothers in Hungary.  The husband, however, did not agree and he went to Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein to ask about this issue.  Ha-Rav Feinstein saw that the husband did not have a beard.  He asked: Did your father and grandfather have beards?  He said: Of course, everyone had a beard.  He asked: why are you clean-shaven?  He said: This is America!  Ha-Rav Feinstein said: If so, there is no problem for your wife to wear a wig.  Everything is dependent on the issue of modesty.  If the jeans and the jean skirts are modest, they are acceptable.  If they are not modest, including having images and decoration which draw the attention of others, they are not acceptable.  In short: It is not a question of the material, but the piece of clothing itself - as in the case of all other items of apparel.

Honoring the Chief Rabbi of Israel


Q: Is there are obligation to honor whoever is elected the Chief Rabbi of Israel?
A: Absolutely. What kind of question is that?!


Explanation: One is obligated to honor every Torah scholar and one is obligated all the more so to honor the Chief Rabbi. This is the story in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (25). Rabban Gamliel, the head of the Sanhedrin – i.e. the Chief Rabbi, ruled one way and Rabbi Yehoshua ruled another way. Rabban Gamliel said to Rabbi Yehoshua: "You have to come to me with your staff and your money belt on the day that you calculated to be Yom Kippur." Rabbi Yehoshua asked Rabbi Dosa ben Hurkenos if he was obligated to go. He answered: "He is the Chief Rabbi and he decided. If you question this Chief Rabbi, you have to question every Chief Rabbi going back to Moshe Rabbenu." If you say, "How was it that former times were better than these?" (Kohelet 7:10), you are incorrect. You forgot. "Go to the judge that will be in your days" (Devarim 17:9) – that is the judge you have. And the later generations should not say that the earlier generations were superior (Rosh Hashanah ibid.). Rabbi Yehoshua went and Rabban Gamliel stood up, kissed him on the head and said: "Peace be upon you, my Rabbi and my student. My Rabbi in wisdom and my student in that you obeyed me." Fortunate is the generation where the elders – i.e. the greater Torah scholars - listen to the juniors, and all the more so when the juniors listen to the elders (Rosh Hashanah ibid.). This is an explicit Gemara. This is the way events occurred according to divine direction: each time there was a head of the Sanhedrin, there were greater Torah scholars than him. Certainly the Chief Rabbi of today is not like the head of the Sanhedrin back then, but the Torah scholars of today are also not like the Torah scholars back then. Each one according to his level.


In the book "Chayei Ha-Re'eiyah" (p. 212 and see the talk of Rav Tzvi Tau on Elkanah in Emunat Itenu vol. 1, p. 85), Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriyah relates that a Torah scholar who made aliyah from America came to Maran (our revered teacher) Ha-Rav Kook and complained about the state of Judaism in the Land of Israel. He was so distressed that he was considering leaving Israel. Maran Ha-Rav Kook said to him: Doesn't your honor remember the learning of his youth? The Book of Shmuel relates about Elkana: "This man would ascend from his city every year to prostrate himself and to bring sacrifices to Hashem, Master of Legions, in Shiloh, and the two sons of Eli, Chofni and Phinchas, were cohanim to Hashem there" (Shmuel 1 1:3). Rav Kook asked two questions about this verse: 1. Why are we told in this verse that Chofni and Phinchas were there? 2. Our Sages say that Elkana would not only go up to Shiloh, he would go around and encourage others to do so as well. Why did he have to do this? After all, isn’t ascending to the Mishkan on the holidays a Torah mitzvah? Why weren't people following this mitzvah? Rav Kook explains that the first question is in fact the answer to the second question. The fact that Chofni and Phinchas were the cohanim in Shiloh caused people not to make the pilgrimage there, since they were corrupt. People said that if there were Cohanim like this in this holy place, it was better not to go and see this ugliness and meet such sinners. Elkana then came and convinced them that despite the sons of Eli and despite the sins at this holy place, they should not give up on this mitzvah of Hashem. They should strengthen this holy place. Right now there are not great people there, but later there will be. Do not give up because of the difficulties. As a reward for this act, Elkana was blessed with a son, the prophet Shmuel, who served in the Mishkan. Rav Kook said to the Torah scholar that the same applies in relation to the holiness of the Land of Israel. Why are you mad at the Land of Israel? There are problems, therefore exert yourself and everything will work out. Although there are sinners, this is not a reason not to make Sliyah and all the more so not to leave the Land of Israel. The more people committed to the Torah and Mitzvot in the Land of Israel, the more holiness will be added to it.

There may be problems with the Chief Rabbinate, but you have to honor it. I have always said that the Chief Rabbinate is the nucleus from which the seedling will sprout from which the Sanhedrin will blossom. Everyone understands that it is not the Sanhedrin and it is not even a seedling of the Sanhedrin, but it is the nucleus and the nucleus is precious. Do you think the Sanhedrin will sprout from nothing? No, it will appear slowly. The same thing applies to the State of Israel. Okay there are difficulties, but what do you suggest? Would you prefer the British, the Turks or the Arabs? The State was built slowly. The Rabbinate was built slowly. The Yeshivot were built slowly. Everything is built slowly. If you want everything to be whole from the first moment, you will not have anything. There are ups and downs. You had Rav Kook who was a Torah giant and afterwards you had others who were less than Rav Kook, and so it seems that they will continue to be less than Rav Kook. The essence is that we must pay attention to the process and not reject something great when temporary difficulties arise.

Shut SMS #218


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

 

Smartphone

Q: I saw a great Torah scholar with a Smartphone.  Doesn't he know that there are forbidden things there?!

A: No.  He does not know.  And it once happened that a student asked Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein how he walks on a particular street on which there are forbidden images.  He responded: I didn't notice that there were forbidden images.

 

Jews as Amalek

Q: How should we relate to a Rabbi who calls Religious Zionist Jews Amalek?

A: Anyone who does not speak to the heart of a matter, indicates that he has nothing to say about the matter.  In practice, all segments of Am Yisrael are lacking and together we form a whole.  But certainly no one is Amalek (see Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah, Vol. 1 Igeret 311.  And see Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Bereshit, pp. 382-383). 

 

Disputes

Q: I asked a text message question and received an answer that it was permissible. For your information, I later saw that a certain Rabbi forbids it.

A: It is known.  But you did not state in your question that you wanted an answer according to his opinion.  Please note this the next time you ask (see introduction to Piskei Shlomo).

 

Charedi Torah Scholars

Q: Why are there more Charedi Torah scholars than Religious Zionist Torah scholars?

A: Because Charedi Torah scholars began 2000 years ago, and Religious Zionist Torah scholars began 100 years ago, but the quantity and quality grows at an incredible pace.

 

Immodest Movie

Q: If there is a movie with immodest parts, is it permissible to watch it and not watch those parts?

A: It is forbidden, just as it is forbidden to travel on an immodest road, unless there is no alternative route, and one is therefore forced to travel on it.  But here one is not forced to do so, since it is entertainment.  Baba Batra 57b.

 

Bad Breathe

Q: I am newly married and I do not know how to tell my husband that he has extremely bad breathe.

A: Blame the problem on yourself and tell him that you are very sensitive.

 

Shomer Negiah

Q: Is it permissible to touch a girl indirectly, such as with a pencil?

A: The Yetzer Ha-Ra is so creative!  As is written in the Gemara: A person's inclination renews itself each day (Sukkah 52b.  Kiddushin 30b).

 

Tearing One's Garment over Yerushalayim and the Cities of Yehudah

Q: Why don't we tear our garments over seeing Yerushalayim and the Cities of Yehudah in their destroyed state?

A: Because they are under Jewish sovereignty.  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 560, Mishnah Berurah in the name of the Beit Yosef (and see Kum Hithalech Ba-Aretz #1-2).

 

Spies or Golden Calf

Q: Which was worse – the Sin of the Spies or the Sin of the Golden Calf?

A: Each was worse than the other in a particular way.

 

Local Custom

Q: I am Ashkenazi and Daven in a Sefardi Shul.  Should I stand for Kaddish (as is Ashkenazi, but not Sephardi, custom)?

A: Act as everyone else (see Massechet Derech Eretz, Chapter 5: "A person should not stand among those who are seated or sit among those who are standing").

 

Lashon Ha-Ra at Work

Q: My fellow workers speak Lashon Ha-Ra against other workers in a foreign language because they think I don't understand it.  Should I tell them that I do understand to save them from speaking it or refrain since it will embarrass them?

A: Certainly inform them.  It is preferable to embarrass them a little here than a lot in the World to Come.

Shut SMS #217


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

Bring the Grave of Rebbe Nachman to Israel

Q: Is it a Mitzvah to transfer the grave of Rebbe Nachman to Israel?

A: It is certainly a Mitzvah.  See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah #363, Pitchei Teshuvah #2.  And it is a great Mitzvah (And there are those who opposed bring the graves of Gedolei Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael.  The Chazon Ish opposed bringing the grave of the Vilna Gaon.  Orchot Rabbenu Vol. 1, p. 316.  And it is related in Kuntres Reshumei Aharon p. 24 #37, that the grandchildren of the Chafetz Chaim once came to Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein and asked if they were permitted to move the Chafetz Chaim's grave to Israel, since there are non-Jews in Radin who desecrate the cemetery.  Ha-Rav Feinstein replied that the basic halachah is that it is permissible to transfer a grave on account of honoring the deceased, but he didn't recommend it in this case.  All of the souls of the Jews of Poland who are deceased anticipate greeting the Messiah together with the Chafetz Chaim, Ha-Rav Feinstein reasoned, and if you take his bones to Eretz Yisrael, perhaps those souls will be upset over it).  

 

Protection from Troubles

Q: I have many troubles in my life.  Is there a Segulah to protect me from them?

A: "Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue, keeps his soul from troubles".  Mislei 21:23.

 

Asking a Rabbi

Q: Is it permissible to ask a Rabbi a hypothetical question?

A: If you inform him from the outset that it is not a practical question, since if he thinks it is a practical question, the Rabbi will spend much effort and toil to answer it.  It is therefore forbidden to deceive him (When Ha-Rav Meir Brandsdofer, author of Shut Kene Bosem and member of the Beit Din of the Eidah Ha-Charedit, was asked a halachic question, he would often say: "Tell me the truth, is this a practical question?"  When he was asked about this practice, he explained that when he gives a practical halachic answer, there is a special Divine help in reaching the truth of Torah.  Another time, he said: "A Rabbi is not a factory to create answers."  And he pointed out that all of the responsa books of the Rishonim and Achronim were written from questions sent from around the world, aside from Shut Terumat Ha-Deshen, as brought in the Shach, Yoreh Deah 196:20.  The reason being is that if one detail is different, the ruling can totally change.  Heichal Hora'ah, pp. 17-18).

 

Pidyon Ha-Ben

Q: How does one calculate the time of a Pidyon Ha-Ben?

A: It is 30 days after the birth, which always falls 2 days later in the week than the birth itself.  If the child was born on Tuesday, the Pidyon Ha-Ben is on Thursday or Thursday night.  And if it falls on Shabbat, then the Pidyon Ha-Ben is on Motzaei Shabbat.

 

BCC

Q: Is it permissible to put a BCC (blind carbon copy) on an email?

A: Only if it is the desire of the one to whom the email is sent.  "One who goes along slandering reveals secrets."  Mishlei 11:13.

 

Sleeping Security Guard

Q: If I enter a place and see the security guard sleeping, should I report it?

A: Certainly.  It is a life-threatening situation.

 

Segulah for a Long Life

Q: Is there a Segulah for a long and good life?

A: “Who is the man that desires life and loves days of seeing good?  Let him guard his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking evil.”  Tehillim 34:13- 14.

Take Away from Tisha Be-Av: There is No "Us" and "Them"


We constantly hear people invalidating the secular or the religious, the left or the right, government ministers or the Government.  How sad that after 2,000 years of exile, and being educated through suffering to have Ahavat Yisrael, there are still those who speak in this manner.  Their words are lies, and saying them is considered lording over others!

 

We must be extremely cautious against making generalizations.  We live in a world where nothing is perfect.  We must distinguish between one whose only thoughts are evil and who thinks of ways to destroy the Nation and Land of Israel, and one whose intentions are good and wants to save the State, but who is nevertheless gravely mistaken in his path.  There is a big difference between an evil person and a good person who errs.  As Maran Ha-Rav Kook expresses, if we explain to a good person that 2+2 = 4 and not 5, he will be grateful to us.  When someone is mistaken, there is only one way of convincing him otherwise - and it is not through harshness and insult. 

 

Am Yisrael is not divided in such a way that one group is completely right and possesses all of the positives, while everyone else is lacking.  There were times like this in the past, when idol worshipers were completely corrupt and scorned Hashem, but - in our days - the merits are scattered among the Nation.  We even give the benefit of the doubt to those who divide the Nation: They are idealists, whose words flow from their heart to defend the Torah and the Land of Israel.  But, with all due respect, they are also mistaken when they cut the body of the Nation with a sharp knife and use the terms "us" and "them".

 

Why do these idealists err so severely?  Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah explains that the answer is found in two words: "Kima, Kima" ([the Redemption arrives] slowly, slowly).  In the Exile, the Nation crumbles.  But with its return to its Land, everything is being rebuilt and revived.  This process takes time. It comes slowly, slowly.

 

It is easy to prove that this is the State about which the prophets prophesized.  After all, the Nation is returning home and the Land continues to blossom.  This is not the complete Redemption for which we pray each day in the Shemoneh Esrei, but we must nonetheless be joyous for every "crumb" of Redemption.  The Nation will not be reborn in a day.  Israel will not return to its Land in one day.  The Nation will not come to love Yehudah and Shomron in one day.  And not everyone will begin to keep Shabbat and eat Kosher in one day.

 

Reality does not have wings like imagination.  We must therefore gird ourselves with patience.  Hashem has incredible patience.  He waited 10 generations from Adam to Noach before destroying the world and another 10 generations between Noach and Avraham before rewarding Avraham for all of the goodness (Pirkei Avot 5:2).  Hashem waited close to 2,000 years before the appearance of Avraham Avinu.

 

Patience is not idleness, but action based on careful consideration of the pace of reality.  What we have accomplished thus far in the State of Israel has great value, and we must continue on.  We must do all we can, without losing our joy and optimism.  We must rejoice over what we have attained up to this point, in all realms.  It is true that there are many complications, but one who only sees darkness and no light is lacking in gratitude to Hashem.

 

We must increase Ahavat Yisrael - love of our fellow Jews - and the understanding that we are one Nation. That which we have in common is infinitely greater than that which separates us. We are in the same boat; we are one soul.  And - most of all - we must remember that difference of opinion is permissible, but division of hearts is forbidden.  

Please Teach Us to Love


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

 

Avraham, our Father

And Sarah, our Mother

Please teach us to love!

To love G-d.

To love man –

G-d’s creatures.

For if we truly love G-d

Then we will love His creatures as well.

You, Avraham and Sarah,

Such were your whole lives –

Loving G-d.

“Avraham who loved G-d” (Yeshayahu 41:8)

And Sarah, who loved Him as well.

Because of your love for G-d

You left everything behind.

You land, your birthplace,

Your father’s house –

To serve G-d.

And throughout your lives,

You sacrificed all you had,

For G-d’s sake.

Please teach us to be like you.

To see G-d’s goodness.

Thank G-d for He is good!

For His kindness lasts forever!

G-d does so much good for us!

 

Avraham, our Father

And Sarah, our Mother.

You never thought about yourselves.

But only about others.

Only about G-d.

Please teach us to follow your path.

We gaze upon you.

And we recite in a loud voice

The words of our great prophet Yeshayahu:

“Look to the rock you were hewn from.

To the quarry you were dug from.

Look back to Avraham your father

And to Sarah who brought you forth.”

(Yeshayahu 51:1-2)

Please teach us to be like you.

For we were hewn from you.

For in essence, we are like you.

Our soul comes from you.

But with all our heart, soul and might,

We long to be like you in our lives as well.

Every single day of our lives.

Yes, please teach us to live

With nothing but the love of G-d

And the love of G-d’s creatures.

Morning, noon and night.

With every ounce of intellect

We shall read of your deeds

In the words of our Torah

In the words of our Sages.

We shall apply our minds

And you, please, help us!

Influence us from On High

To love G-d and His people Israel.

To serve G-d and His people Israel.

Make our devotion to this absolute.

Please teach us.

Avraham, our Father

And Sarah, our Mother