Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #238


Changing Locations with Candy and Gum

Q: If someone is eating candy or chewing gum and goes outside does he have to recite another blessing?

A: No.  Since this is the way of the world, it is as if he made such a condition from the outset. Shut Igrot Moshe (Orach Chaim 2:57.  Unlike that which Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski said in the name of the Chazon Ish: "In my youth, I once left the house with a piece of candy in my mouth, he [the Chazon Ish] said to me that leaving the house is a change of location and I need to recite a blessing, and when I come back inside I have to recite another blessing – even 100 times!"  Divrei Si"ach Vol. 4 p. 20).

 

The Fellowship

Q: The army gave me a monetary gift from the Fellowship.  Is it permissible to keep it?

A: It is forbidden.  The full name is "The International Fellowship of Christians & Jews".  Christians have never been our friends and are not now.  They murdered us physically during the Crusades and are now preparing to murder our souls with a Monetary Crusade.  Their method: To hug and choke us (see Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah Vol. 4, pp. 74-76).

 

Female Kosher Supervisors

Q: There is an initiative to train female Kosher supervisors.  Is it permissible?

A: It is permissible.  Shut Igrot Moshe (Yoreh Deah 2:44).  It is not new, it has been around for a long time.

 

Lefists

Q: Is it permissible to hate leftists?

A: "Love your fellow as yourself".  Take a map of Israel and look how many enemies surround us and you are busy spreading hate within Am Yisrael?! (see Sefer Ha-Tanya Chap. 32).

 

Modim De-Rabanan

Q: Why is the prayer "Modim" which the community says during the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei called "Modim De-Rabbnan" – the Rabbinic Modim?  Is there a "Modim De-Oraita" – the Torah Modim?

A: It is called "Modim De-Rabbnan" because the prayer is comprised of prayers from various Rabbis (Sotah 40a).

 

Shaliach Tzibur who has to use the Restroom

Q: If I am the Shalaich Tzibur and I suddenly have to use the restroom, should I continue or stop?

A: There is a discussion whether or not it is permissible to continue based on the law of human dignity so that one will not be embarrassed (In general, it is forbidden to hold it in, and in particular, it is forbidden to Daven when one needs to use the restroom), but it is best to cough as if you have a problem with your throat, signal to another person that he should replace you, and go to the restroom as if you need a drink (see Ishei Yisrael 10:11, 12, 17 with notes).

 

All You Can Eat

Q: Is there a problem with eatting in a restaurtant that is "All you can eat"?

A: Yes, it is gluttonous.  Rambam, Hilchot Deot Chapter 5.

 

Trip outside of Israel

Q: Is it permissible to take a trip outside of Israel to refresh oneself?

A: There is no allowance for this.  Perhaps you can travel within our Land (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 5:9.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 531).

The Ten Commandments for Asking Rabbis Questions


Compiled by Rabbi Mordechai Tzion, based on the

Rabbinical practices of Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shlit"a

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Shemot 5774 – translated by R. Blumberg]

 

1. "Acquire for Yourself a Rabbi." (Avot 1:6)

This principle is not obligatory. One may ask several Rabbis a question, and if someone wants a lenient ruling, he is allowed to turn to a Rabbi who is known to give such a ruling. "If someone wishes to follow the rulings of Beit Shammai, he may, and if he wishes to follow Beit Hillel, he may" (Eruvin 6b). But one must be consistent.

Nonetheless, the best way to grow in Torah and the fear of G-d is to select a Rabbi who will most increase one's good traits, fear of G-d and Torah wisdom.

 

2. When to Ask Questions

Anything that a person can solve himself he should solve himself and not ask a Rabbi. Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohain Kook presented a parable in Orot Ha-Torah (5:4): Some people always go places on foot.  They may well indeed by strong and courageous, yet they arrive at their destination slowly, and cannot get to places necessitate riding on a horse.  There are other people who always ride a horse, arriving everywhere quickly, yet they are lazy do-nothings.  And there are still others who walk whenever they can, but ride a horse whenever they cannot walk.

It is the same with asking Rabbis questions. There are people who decide everything on their own. That is a problem, for with deep, complex questions one must take council with the Torah, and “the letters of the Torah are horses of fire”. And then there are those who check everything out with the Torah. That is a problem as well, because one should exercise one’s mind. Finally, there are people who decide what they can on their own, and what they cannot decide on their own, they bring to their Rabbi. That is the ideal path.

 

3. Precise Wording and the Art of Summarizing

It is important to learn the art of summarizing, i.e., relate only the necessary details to the Rabbi. It pays to write out the question precisely and to read it out loud instead of rambling on at length. Indeed, a halachic ruling is composed of two elements: the situation and the law (Commentary of the Gra on Mishlei 22:12).

One time a Rabbi was learning with his son-in-law. When someone would come to ask a question, the Rabbi would answer him and then they would continue learning. One day a woman arrived with meat and asked whether it was Kosher. The son-in-law said, “I'm just the son-in-law. The great Rabbi went out, and he will be back in an hour.”  The woman responded, “I don't have an hour. My children are home, crying. You tell me what the law is!” The son-in- law looked in the Shulchan Aruch, asked questions, found answers, clarified, came up with an operating principle, and in accordance with that principle issued a ruling.

Just at that moment the great Rabbi returned. The son-in-law said: “It's good you're back. This woman came here with this piece of liver. I asked questions, found answers, clarified, came up with an operating principle and issued a ruling.”

The Rabbi answered: “Very good! But it's not liver, it's a spleen...”

The Rabbi must understand both the situation and the halachah.

So, the person asking the question has to be precise with his question. Most of the time, Ha-Rav repeats the question, in order to be certain that he has understood the reality of the situation.

Shlomo Ha-Melech did just that in the case of the two women, as it says in Choshen Mishpat 17:7: “The judge must hear what the two litigants say, and he must repeat their points, as it says: The King said: 'One says, 'This is my son, the live one...'” (Melachim 1 3:23). The Rabbi must first get matters clear in his head, and then issue a ruling.  For him to do this, one needs to provide him with accurate, specific information.

 

4. Non-practical Questions

One may ask a Rabbi a question that has no practical ramifications, or without intending to follow the Rabbi's ruling, but one must inform the Rabbi of this in advance. When a Rabbi is issuing a ruling that is going to be followed, he makes much more of an effort. So one should not deceive him.

When Ha-Rav Meir Brandesdorfer, author of Shut Knei Bosem and a member of the Beit Din of the Eidah Ha-Chareidit, was asked a halachic question, he would sometimes respond by asking in return, “Tell me the truth: Does this question have practical bearing?” When asked about this, he would explain that when a Rabbi issues a ruling with practical bearing, he has special, Divine assistance directing him to the truth of Torah.  Another time he said, “A Rabbi is not an answer factory".

He also pointed out that all of the responses of the Rishonim and Achronim were written based on questions that were sent from all around the world, except for Shut Terumat Ha-Deshen, as brought in the Shach, Yoreh Deah 196:20 (The author himself invented the questions).   This is so because a change in a small detail can change the halachic ruling (Heichal Hora'ah, pp. 17-18).

 

5. Those Present, and the Locale

One must take note of who else is present when one is asking a Rabbi a question. If it is a personal matter or a matter for discretion, it should not be asked with others present. Likewise, one cannot clarify important matters while walking along the street. Rather, one must approach the Rabbi in a serious manner in an appropriate place.

Ha-Rav Moshe Mordechai Ha-Levi Shulsinger related that he was told by Ha-Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, author of the work Chazon Yechezkel, “When you ask a question and expect an answer, look around to see if there is anyone in the vicinity whose presence could keep the Rabbi from answering, and if so, be prepared not to ask the question. We derive this from Akeidat Yitzchak. The whole time Yitzchak wanted to ask his father, 'Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?' but he thought the presence of the lads there would keep Avraham from answering him.  Therefore, only after Avraham told them, “Stay here with the donkey,” and Avraham and Yitzchak walk on alone, did Yitzchak ask.

Rav Shulsinger found a source for this idea in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Sanhedrin 1:2).  Rabbi Yirmiya asked Rabbi Zeira: Isn't the city of Lod in Yehudah?  He answered: Yes.  He asked: Why then don’t they intercalate the year there?  Rabbi Zeira said: Because they are arrogant and lack Torah.  Rabbi Zeira turned around and saw Rabbi Acha and Rabbi Yudah ben Pazi standing behind him (The Pnei Moshe explains that they were from Lod).  Rabbi Zeira said to Rabbi Yirmiya: What have you done now?! The Pnei Moshe explains his word: You saw them, and you shouldn't have asked this question in their presence (Pninei Mishmar Ha-Levi, pp. 132-133).

 

6. Understanding the Rabbi's Answer

Listen well to the Rabbi's answer instead of guessing what he's going to say. The reason we ask Rabbis questions is to receive an answer from them, and not from ourselves. Sometimes we ask a Rabbi a question and he answers, “I don't know,” or “I'm not familiar with that.” Even this is a type of an answer, involving his taking a stand.

The Chazon Ish said: Even “I don't know” is part of the Torah. In other words, when a person is reviewing his learning, he has to say, “This I now know and that I do not know” (Sha'arei Aharon Vol. 1, p. 44, in the “Sha'arei Ish” booklet).  The Steipler Gaon once complained to a great Rabbi, “When I say, 'I don't know,' everyone interprets it as though I was in doubt” (Orchot Rabbenu Vol. 1, p. 38, in the addenda at the end). Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievsky was asked, “When you answer a question with, “I haven't heard,” do you usually mean, “I don't accept that”? He answered, “I mean it literally” (She'elat Rav 1:22, #8; Segulat Raboteinu 257, note #319).

Sometimes one asks Ha-Rav about some practice or spiritual remedy, and he answers, “It has no source.” By this he means, “It has no source in the Torah, the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Rambam, or the Shulchan Aruch. Everything must be proven. Even regarding the Mishnah itself, the Talmud asks, “Where does this idea come from? There are things that are brought in the recent Sages with proofs, and we are obligated to observe them. Yet if a practice is recommended without proofs, even if one of the recent Sages mentions it, it is not binding.  With all due respect, it is impossible for us to fulfill every practice recommended by every recent Sage, without proofs from ancient sources. Otherwise we will collapse under the unending flood of instructions, for thank G-d, there are a lot of recent Sages, and they've said a lot of things.

 

7. Unconventional Rulings

If a particular ruling has become very widespread, one should not diverge from it unless one's own Rabbi rules differently (Shut She'elat Shlomo 2:223, 3:263)

 

8. Contradictory Rulings

Sometimes a Rabbi will answer differently than he has answered in the past. There are probably different circumstances or a borderline situation requiring the Rabbi to rule however he is inclined to rule at this moment (Sefer Ha-Chaim, of Rabbi Chaim ben Bezalel, the Maharal's brother).

One time Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein was asked a question and he ruled what he ruled, but his ruling went against what he himself had previously ruled in his Shut Igrot Moshe. His family wondered, “If you've changed your opinion, how can we go back and reprint the Igrot Moshe almost every year in exactly the same wording?” He responded, “What is the problem? There are two approaches. Both are the word of the Living G-d” (Meged Givot Olam p. 56).

 

9. The Same Question to Two Rabbis

Is one allowed to ask the same question to several Rabbis and in the end to decide whom to follow? A: It depends on what you are asking.  The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (7a) says that one who asks a Rabbi a question about something and the Rabbi declares it impure may not ask another Rabbi who will declare it pure, and one who asks a Rabbi a question and he declares it forbidden may not ask another Rabbi who will declare it permissible.  This ruling is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 242:31).  Why is it forbidden to ask the same question a second time to a different Rabbi?  Some explain that it is because of the honor of the first Rabbi (Rashi to Niddah 20b): You asked a question and don't like the answer so you are going to a different Rabbi?!  You are shaming the first Rabbi!  Others explain that when the first Rabbi rules, the object on which he ruled now has the status which he placed upon it.  This means that if I ask a Rabbi if something is kosher or not and he rules that it is not kosher, the ruling of another Rabbi cannot change it.  The Halachah follows the second explanation (This is the opinion of most Rishonim – Rabbis of the Middle Ages – including Ra'avad, Ramban, Rashba quoted in the Ran Avodah Zarah ibid. and Rosh, ibid. 1:3).  Therefore, when I ask a Rabbi a question about a piece of meat, the meat has the status of his ruling, but if I have another piece of meat and I have the same question, I can ask a different Rabbi.  There are also questions regarding a person's activities: How do I act in a given situation?  A Rabbi's ruling fixes the status of an object, but not the status of a person's activities.  Regarding an object, you can only ask one Rabbi, but regarding a person's conduct, you can ask various Rabbis.  Even in the case of an object, if I really, really want to ask a second Rabbi, I can ask a second Rabbi if I tell him that I already asked the first Rabbi.  If the second Rabbi so desires, he can talk to the first Rabbi and try to convince him to change his mind (Rama ibid.).  I remember that someone once asked me a question regarding the laws of Family Purity and I answered: she is impure.  The questioner went and asked Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu. Ha-Rav Eliyahu called me and said: "Rav, look at it from this perspective and that perspective."  I then understood that it was permissible to be lenient and I said: "I retract, she is pure."   Furthermore, it is obvious that someone who asks a theoretical question may ask as many Rabbis as he wants.  You may also ask questions to different Rabbis at different times, since all Rabbis are Torah (And this is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Ve-Alehu Lo Yiblo Vol. 2 #40).

 

10. Rabbis Who Rule Leniently and then Are Strict on Themselves

A Rabbi is allowed to permit something and then to treat it as forbidden to himself. The family of Rabban Gamliel were lenient for others but strict for themselves (Mishnah Shabbat 1:9).  Although the Belzer Rebbe – Mahari"d – said that a Rabbi who provides supervision on a product and does not eat it at least once will not have much assistance from Heaven.  When Ha-Rav Shmuel Salant, the Rabbi of Jerusalem, ruled that a particular food was kosher, he would eat from that food to show that he, too, relied on the food's Kashrut.  And Ha-Rav Eliezer David Greenwald, author of Keren Le-David and Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in Satmar, who did not carry within the Eruv on Shabbat did so once to show that it was completely Kosher.  Similarly, Ha-Rav Mendel of Vitebsk did not carry within the Eruv on Shabbat in Tzefat, but did so once on Shabbat Shuva to show that it was Kosher.  And Ha-Rav Moshe Halberstam of the Eidah Ha-Charedit in Yerushalayim related that the Admor of Pupa was in Yerushalayim and carried out a book on Shabbat in order to show that the Eruv of the Eidah Ha-Charedit was Kosher.  Commentary on Pirkei Avot 'Az Yomru' of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Aharon Goldberger, Dayan and Rosh Yeshiva for Pupa Chasidim, pp. 73, 77).

Truth or Superstition? #8


1\3rd of Gan Eden

Q: What is the source that if one sets up 3 couples and they get married one goes to Gan Eden?

A: There is no source.  But it is certainly a great Mitzvah and one should exert great effort for it (and Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski said: I have not heard.  Segulot Raboteinu p. 230).

 

Corner of a Table

Q: Is it true that if one sits on the corner of a table he will not get married?

A: There is no such thing (And so too Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski.  Segulot Raboteinu p. 223.  Shut Ve-Darashta Ve-Chakarta Vol. 5 Even Ha-Ezer #22).

 

Healing

Q: Is healing – treatment for physical and emotional illness by transferring energy – in the spirit of Torah?

A: From a scientific perspective it is nonsense, from the halachic prespective it is therefore superstition (Ner Be-Ishon Laila p. 120).

Mazal Tov When Someone Drops a Plate


[Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:481]

 

Question: When someone drops a plate or glass and it breaks on the floor, there are always those who yell: Mazal Tov, and even clap in joy.  Is this proper?

 

Answer:

  1. One should certainly not do this, since it embarrasses someone in public, which is a severe prohibition.  The Gemara in Berachot (43b) says that it is better for one to throw himself into a fiery furnace than to embarrass another person in public.  Rabbenu Yonah explains that it is better to die than to violate embarrassing another person in public since it has an aspect of murdering another person (commentary on Pirkei Avot 3:15).
  2. Hillel the Elder already responded to the potential convert who wanted to learn the entire Torah while standing on one foot: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow (Shabbat 31a).  If I dropped a plate, I certainly would not like someone to yell "Mazal Tov" to me in public, and I should therefore not do so to others.
  3. If one wishes to respond, he should do a kindness and help him pick up the pieces of the plate.  There are three characteristics which distinguish the Jewish People: they are merciful, they are bashful and they are performers of acts of kindness (Yevamot 79a).

 

Learning Torah on "Nittel Nacht"


Question: Is it permissible to learn Torah on "Nittel Nacht" (Christmas Eve)?

Answer: There is a custom among some Chasidim not to learn Torah on "Nittel Nacht" in order not to contribute positive spiritual powers to idolatry. The Lubavitcher Rebbe related in a talk in the name of his father-in-law, the Rebbe Rayatz, that the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Rashab, played chess on "Nittel Nacht" (Parashat Vayeshev, 1st Night of Chanukah 5750). And this was indeed the custom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe until midnight of "Nittel Nacht" (see Sha'arei Halachah U-Minhag vol 3 pp. 64-67.  There is a famous picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his father-in-law, the Friediker Rebbe, playing chess on Nittel Nacht). But our custom is that one needs to learn Torah on that night, just like every night. Some explain that the reason for not learning Torah of that night is that the Christians would become impassioned on their holiday, would go out and kill Jews (Ta'amei Ha-Minhagim p. 500). We therefore would need to stand guard instead of learning Torah (Ta'amei Ha-Minhagim p. 500). Baruch Hashem, Christians do not act this way today and we need to learn a lot of Torah.

By the way, it is told in the book "Siach Sarfei Kodesh" (p. 192) that when the last Lubavitcher Rebbe was sitting shiva, the Satmar Rebbe, Ha-Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, paid a shiva call and asked him: Why do we observe the night of "Nittel Nacht" according to the non-Jewish calendar (which is forbidden) instead of according to the Jewish calendar? The Lubavitcher Rebbe answered that we do not learn on that night in order not to give spiritual strength to the god of the Christians and we therefore observe it on the night that they celebrate, which is according to their calendar. And – he added – we must therefore be aware when they celebrate this holiday in the place we are located. In most places, their holiday is on December 25th, but it other places it is on a different day (For example, January 6th). In such places, that is the night of "Nittel Nacht".

But as we said, our custom is to learn a lot of Torah on that night. And Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch wrote that this custom was unknown in Lithuania and it is only a custom among Chasidim (Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 1:551). The Chazon Ish would learn on "Nittel Nacht," and said that it was forbidden to waste time from learning on this night and he criticized those who did not learn on that night. The Steipler Gaon would also learn on "Nittel Nacht," but did so by heart so as not to upset those who have the custom not to learn. The Steipler Gaon also requested not to be informed when Nittel Nacht is so that he would not have to waste time from his learning (Orchot Rabbenu vol. 1 p. 193). And Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef has written that no such custom exists among Sefardic Jews (Shut Yabia Omer vol. 7 Yoreh Deah #20). The Lubavitcher Rebbe also writes that this custom does in exist in Eretz Yisrael (Sha'arei Halachah U-Minhag ibid. p. 67), even though it seems that some do have this custom in Eretz Israel.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #237


Smartphone

Q: Is it permissible to have a smartphone?

A: If you are positive that you will not go onto any forbidden websites.  For example, if one has the internet blocker Netspark.

 

Smoking by a Pregnant Woman

Q: I am a medical student.  Should I tell a pregnant woman who is smoking how dangerous this is to the fetus?

A: First ask if she is interested in talking about it.

 

Burial of a Spouse

Q: Burying spouses next to each other costs thousands of Shekels.  Is it worthwhile to invest money in that?

A: There is no need.  They will be together in the Next World even if they are not buried next to one another.

 

Printed Ketubah

Q: Is it permissible to use a printed Ketubah or should it be handwritten?

A: There are some who are opposed to a printed Ketubah, but we see that great Rabbis use a printed Ketubah, and they know what they are doing, just as in the case with other documents.  Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat (48:1).  There are those who are strict to hand-write the names, the dates and the amounts of money.  Shach ibid. (#1).  But the basic Halachah is that it is also permissible to print these parts as well.  Shulchan Ha-Ezer (Vol. 2, p. 23).  And on the contrary, some authorities say that a printed Ketubah is preferable.  And there are those who say so in the name of the Vilna Gaon (Halichot Ha-Gra of Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch #184 who writes that if it is printed, the witnesses need not read the entire document since it is clear that they are familiar with the contents, which is not necessarily the case if it is hand-written.  And Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein writes that there is absolutely no advantage in a hand-written Ketubah over a printed one.  Shut Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 1:178.  Ha-Rav Nisan Alpert – one of the leading students of Reb Moshe – related why his Rav wrote this Teshuvah.  It happened a few times that at a wedding Ha-Rav Feinstein had taken a printed Ketubah and filled it out and Ha-Rav Eliezer Silver then arrived, publically tore up the Ketubah and rewrote it by hand.  This was based on the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah in Mishnah Gittin [3:2] that we should hand-write all documents to ensure that we hand-write a Get.  Gittin 26a.  Although the Shulchan Aruch [ibid.] does not rule this way, Rav Silver was strict like the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah.  Rav Feinstein never said a word but wrote a Teshuvah that there is no advantage to be strict like Rabbi Yehudah's positon.  Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter related this story and added and we would not have known the background to this Teshuvah if Ha-Rav Alpert had not revealed it).

 

Bus Driver without Change

Q: I heard that according to the law if a bus driver doesn't have change then one is exempt from paying?

A: Yes.  It is logical.  Based on the Mitzvah of returning a lost object, however, one should pay the bus company when he has an opportunity.

 

Rashi's Commentary

Q: I heard that some of Rashi's commentary on the Tanach is not by Rashi?

A: Divrei Ha-Yamim and Iyov.

Q: It is also true that some of Rashi's commentary on the Gemara is not Rashi?

A: Nazir, most of Nedarim and Me'eilah.  The same is true of the commentary on the Rif attributed to Rashi.

 

Hotel Room

Q: Is it permissible to have an extra person sleep and shower in a hotel room if others paid?

A: Yes, for an extra change.

Parashat Shemot: I Come From Eretz Yisrael!


"An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds, and he even drew water for us and watered the sheep" (Shemot 2:19)

 

Moshe Rabbenu looked like an Egyptian.  He dressed like an Egyptian, had an Egyptian haircut, an Egyptian beard and an Egyptian accent.  He looked like an Egyptian from head to toe.  Because of this, our Rabbis expressed somewhat of a criticism of him.  They state (Devarim Rabbah 2:8): "One who identifies with his Land will be buried in the Land, and one who does not identify with his Land will not be buried there."  Yosef identified with the Land when he said: "For indeed I was kidnapped from the Land of the Hebrews" (40:15), and he was therefore buried in Shechem.  But Moshe Rabbenu did not acknowledge the Land.  When Yitro's daughters say to their father: "An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds," Moshe heard himself being referred to as an Egyptian and kept quiet.  Based on this, our Sages conclude that because Moshe did not identify with the Land, he did not merit being buried there.        

 

Rabbi Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtza, one of the great Chasidic Rebbes in Poland, asked this question: what did they want from Moshe Rabbenu?  Yosef saying that he was from Eretz Yisrael made perfect sense: he was raised there.  But Moshe was born and raised in Egypt!  Was he expected to lie and say he was from Eretz Yisrael?  His answer: Every Jew is obligated to see him or herself as an Israeli.  Even if he was born elsewhere – by historical error - he nonetheless belongs to the Land of Israel.  A Jew should always say: I come from Eretz Yisrael!  Rabbi Moshe from Kutzi, the author of the "Semag" and one of the Tosafot, would sign his name: "Moshe from the Exile of Jerusalem who is in France."  It is true that I am in France, but I am from Jerusalem.  When a Jew is asked: "Where are you from," he must therefore respond: I come from Eretz Yisrael.

 

I was once invited to a Brit Milah.  When we sat down to eat, a man quickly ran into the hall and said: "When is the Brit Milah?"  The participants told him: "It just ended.  Mazel Tov!"  He took a deep breath: "Oy vey, I missed it!"  He sat down at the meal.  I was sitting nearby and overheard his conversation with the others. 

-          They asked him: "Where are you from?" 

-          He said proudly with a German accent: "From Frankfurt am Main!" 

-          I thought to myself: Poor guy, he came all the way from Frankfurt am Main to the Brit Milah and missed it by a few minutes…  Everyone felt sorry for him.

-          They asked: "What kind of work do you do?" 

-          He said: "I sell Sifrei Kodesh (holy books)." 

-          "In Frankfurt am Main?"

-          "No, no.  In Bayit Ve-Gan (a Jerusalem neighborhood)."

-          ????

-          "I live in Bayit Ve-Gan."

-          "Didn't you just say that you are from Frankfurt am Main?"

-          "Yes, yes.  I live in Bayit Ve-Gan but I am from Frankfurt am Main!"... 

He may live in Bayit Ve-Gan, but where is he really from?  Frankfurt am Main!  He breathes Frankfurt am Main, thinks about Frankfurt am Main and lives Frankfurt am Main.  This is how German Jews felt right before the Holocaust. 

 

Truth or Superstition? #7


Invalid Ketubah

Q: Is it possible that we do not have Shalom Bayit and do not have children because we have an invalid Ketubah?

A: There is no ancient source for this.  It is necessary, however to have a Kosher Ketubah according to the Halachah (see Shut Mishneh Halachot 14:86).

 

Interlaced Hands

Q: Do interlaced hands impede the abundance of luck descending onto a person?

A: Nonsense.  There are some who refrain from interlacing fingers based on Kabbalah.  Zohar, Vayikra 24:1.  But this is not found in the Halachah.  According to the Halahchah, one should refrain from interlacing their fingers during the Shemoneh Esrei.  Taz, Orach Chaim 95:1. Aruch Ha-Shulchan ibid. #7 (and see Ta'amei Ha-Minhagim, Likutim #24.  Ben Ish Chai, Pinchas #18.  Kaf Ha-Chaim, Orach Chaim 91:28.  Shemirat Ha-Guf Ve-H-Nefesh 78:1.  Piskei Teshuvot 95:5.  And see Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv who interlaced his fingers when meeting with the Tzanz-Klausenberger Rebbe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dKkwC2YiOw).

 

Groom's Challah

Q: What is the source that it is a Segulah for finding a match if one eats from the Challah on which a groom recites the blessing?

A: There is no source.

 

Segulah for a Happy Marriage

Q: Baruch Hashem, I am getting married.  Is there a Segulah for a happy marriage?

A: To repent and learn Mesilat Yesharim (And so too Ha-Rav Ben Tzion Mutzafi in Shut Doresh Tzion: To completely repent and establish fixed times for Torah learning after the wedding).

Don't Be Corrupt


The International Corruption Perceptions Index of 2013 (according to their counting) was just published.  Our standing is not stellar.  Out of 177 countries, the State of Israel placed 36th, i.e. there are 35 countries more ethical than we are.

 

The definition of corruption is "the misuse of public power for private benefit", or in the words of the prophet Yeshayahu (1:23): "Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves, every one loves bribes, and pursues rewards", or in the words of Pirkei Avot (2:3): Be cautious with authorities, for they bring a person close only for their own purpose, appearing as friends when they stand to profit, but not standing by one at his time of need."

 

The highest ranked country is Denmark, then New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Holland, Australia and Canada.  Germany places 18th, USA – 19th, France – 22nd, United Arab Emirates – 26th, Qatar -29th and us – 36th.

 

Although we were in 39th place last year and therefore moved up, this is no consolation since we have fallen significantly over the years.  In 1996, we were in 14th place, '97 – 15th, '98 – 19th, '99 – 20th, and so on.

 

As is known, 2000 years ago we lost our national independence and were exiled on account of corruption between one person and another.  Baruch Hashem we have been redeemed, which is a sign that our integrity has returned.  It is forbidden for us, however, to fall asleep while on guard.  When we see out leaders taking advantage of their authority in an improper manner, we are obligated to rebuke them, even if we believe that their actions are furthering our ideals.  The goals do not justify the means.  One does not fulfill a Mitzvah through a transgression.

 

"And what does Hashem require of you?  To act justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your G-d" (Michah 6:8).