Ha-Rav's Opinion about the Upcoming Protest Rally against Drafting Yeshiva Students

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #245

Baba Sali

Q: Did the Baba Sali, Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeira who died in 5744, only perform wonders or was he also a great Torah scholar?

A: Someone who is not a Torah scholar cannot perform wonders.  The Baba Sali was also a great Torah scholar, Dayan, Av Beit Din and Posek, but most of his halachic writings have disappeared.


Immersing Dentures

Q: Do dentures require Tevilat Kelim (immersion in a Mikveh) as do utensils?

A: No.  Dentures are not a utensil, and their use on Shabbat is not called "Grinding" (Tochen) but eating (And this is also the ruling in the book "Tevilat Kelim" of Ha-Rav Tzvi Cohain 11:20 in the name of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach).


There is no Messiah for Israel

Q: How did the Tana (Rabbi of the Mishnah) Hillel say that there will not be a Messiah for Israel?  It lowers the expectation for the Redmpetion and lessens hope.

A: There is a misunderstanding.  1. This is not Hillel the Elder but rather Rabbi Hillel. 2. The Gemara rules that the Halachah does not follow him (Sanhedrin 99a).  3. Rashi explains that he does not say that there will not be Redemption but rather that Hashem will redeem us without the Messiah.  It is always worthwhile to learn from the original source and not to be sustained by partial, surface quotations.       


Smoking and Non-Kosher Food

Q: Is smoking as severe a prohibition as eating non-Kosher food?

A: There is an aspect to smoking that is more severe (And Ha-Rav Asher Weiss said that smoking cigarettes is like eating Treif food, and we are stricter with dangers than with prohibitions.  Today there is no doubt that smoking kills.  From his class on Parashat Ki Tzetzei 5767).


Divine Messenger

Q: What is unique about Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah among all the other Gedolei Yisrael?

A: Maran Ha-Rav Kook and Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah are special Divine messengers for the appeareance of Torah during the revival of Am Yisrael in its Land.


Pollard for Terrorists

Q: Is it permissible to release terrorists in exchange for Jonthan Pollard?

A: It is certainly forbidden, and he himself opposes it.  He is not a murderer like them but a national hero.  And see the Gemara regarding redeeming captives in Gittin 43.  But if they are releasing murderers in any event, it is a great Mitzvah to take advantage of this opportunity to free him.


Stories of Tzadikim in the Restroom

Q: Is it permissible to read stories of Tzadikim in the restroom?

A: No.  They are full of fear of Heaven (Ha-Rav Ephraim Greenblatt was also asked about reading stories of Gedolei Yisrael, such as Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein and Ha-Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, and he responded that it is forbidden.  Shut Revivot Ephraim 8:504).


Writing Name in Cement

Q: I wrote my name in wet cement on the sidewalk and now people are stepping on it.  Will it bring me bad luck?

A: No.  But you are obligated to donate money to the city since you vandalized public property.

The Wars of Hashem: Why King David was not Permitted to Build the Temple - Part 2

The true obstacle to King David building the Temple - as Rav Sa’adia Gaon explains -   was not an ethical-spiritual deficiency connected to his participation in wars, but rather the need for him to dedicate his life exclusively to the labor of war. Changing gears in his old age and dedicating his life to a different labor altogether was not what Hashem had in mind for him.  This would be the life-project not of King David, but of his young son, who would sanctify his entire life to building a house for Hashem (Rasag, Targum Ha-Tanach Le-Arvavit Le-Divrei Ha-Yamim 129:9).


One must understand that the building of the Temple is the final, climactic step and not the beginning. There are three Mitzvot which we are commanded when we enter the Land - building the Kingship of Israel, fighting the war with Amalek, and building the Temple - and they must be performed in this order (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 1:1-2). Therefore, anyone who is involved in building the Kingship of Israel is also involved in the waging of war, which is necessarily connected to it, as in the words of the Rambam’s title: "Laws of Kings and their Wars". And all of this precedes, and leads to, the building of the Temple.


Anyone who fights the wars of Hashem is involved in the preparation of the Temple. And this is what was said of King David: Although you were not involved in the actual building of the Temple, you nevertheless prepared it by the great wars which you waged, and now your son is able to build it. Our Master Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzhak Ha-Cohain Kook similarly writes: "In building the Temple, as the King said to the prophet Natan: ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the Ark of God dwells within a curtain’ (Shmuel 2 7:2), the prophet responds to him with the word of Hashem: ‘Did I speak a word with any of the rulers of Israel, who I commanded as shepherds of my Nation saying, why do you not build me a house of cedar?’ (ibid. verse 7). When the times comes, ‘I have appointed a place for my Nation Israel, and planted them, that they may dwell on it, and be troubled no more, nor will the children of wickedness torment them anymore, as in the beginning’ (ibid. verse 10), then the time will have arrived to build the Temple. Everything that King David, may peace be upon him, did, all the wars that he waged with the enemies of Israel to break the nations of the world from around our neck and to expand the borders of our Land, all of this was a preparation and a readying for the ultimate goal of building the Temple" (Ma’amrei Ha-Re’eiyah vol. 1, pp. 246-247).


Who determines what occurs in the World?

Question: If you say that Hashem determines what occurs in the world, then why do we exert effort? Hasn't Hashem has already decided what will happen?  If a sick person will be cured, why should the doctor toil?  And if you say that people determine what occurs in the world, everything will be out of control and a mess.  What will happen to the world?  Oy vavoy! 


Answer: Both Hashem and people determine what occurs.  How do these work together?  Many of our Sages discuss this subject and provide various answers, but the most simple explanation is that Hashem causes good to be brought about through the agency of righteous people and bad to be brought about through the agency of evil people.  This means that Hashem decides the outcome and we decide the means.  For example, Hashem decides that a sick person will be healed and the doctor decides that it will be through his agency because he works with self-sacrifice to save him.  The Gemara in Shabbat (32a) discusses the Mitzvah of the "Maakeh", which says that a person must build a guardrail around his roof.  Why?  The Torah literally says, "Because a falling person may fall from it" (Devarim 22:8).  The Gemara responds that of course a falling person will fall off the roof, who else will fall off a roof – a person who is not falling?  Our Sages state that the reason he is referred to as a "falling person" is that Hashem has decreed that he will fall.  But if it was decreed that he will fall than why do we have to make a guardrail?  If it was decreed that he will fall, he will fall even with a guardrail, and if it was decreed that he will not fall even without a guardrail he will not fall.  Answer: Hashem decreed that he will fall with or without a guardrail, but if he falls and you have a guardrail, you are not held responsible.  If you did not make a guardrail and he falls, however, you are responsible – woe to you - because bad occurred through the agency of a person lacking merit. 


Another example is brought by Rashi on the Torah (Shemot 21:12): There are two men, one who killed inadvertently and should be exiled to one of the cities of refuge and one who killed intentionally and should be killed.  There were no witnesses, however, to either event.  Thus, the first was not exiled and the second was not killed.  Hashem brings them together in one inn.  The one who killed inadvertently climbs a ladder, slips and falls onto the one who killed intentionally, and kills him.  As a result, the one who killed intentionally is killed as he deserves and the one who killed inadvertently killed inadvertently again.  He is exiled since there are many witnesses in the inn.  This is called, "Wickedness comes forth from the wicked" - Hashem causes bad to be brought about through the agency of evil people. 


Obviously, good also comes through the agency of good people.  Massechet Semachot (chapter 8) says: Do not think that the entire Redemption was in the merit of Moshe Rabbenu, and if it were not for Moshe Rabbenu the Nation of Israel would not have been redeemed.  Good comes through the agency of righteous people.  It occurred through Moshe Rabbenu because of his righteousness.  The Pesach Haggadah says: "Me and not an angel, Me and not a seraf, Me and not an agent."  But was Moshe Rabbenu an agent?!  Even though Moshe Rabbenu was the national leader and divine messenger, do not think that the Redemption was dependent upon him.  If it was not Moshe Rabbenu who brought us out, Hashem would have found somebody else.   Our Sages also say that the Torah had to be given to the Nation of Israel, and even without Moshe Rabbenu, Hashem would have found another messenger (ibid.).  The Temple would have been built even without David and Shlomo.  And the Jews would have been redeemed in the time of Haman, even without Mordechai and Esther.  It is written explicitly in the Megillah, "For if you continue to remain silent at a time like this, relief and salvation will come to the Jews from some other place" (Esther 4:14).  And so too, on the other side: even without Pharaoh we would have been enslaved, and even without Nebuchadnezar we would have been exiled.  Good things are brought about through the agency of righteous people and bad things are brought about through the agency of evil people.  Hashem has many agents, and many snakes and many scorpions.  Question: Why were the Egyptians punished for oppressing the Jews when the Torah says (Bereshit 16:13): "Your offspring will be strangers in a land not their own, they will serve them, and they will oppress them four hundred years"?  The Rambam explains that the Egyptians did not oppress the Jews because Hashem forced them to do so, but because they wanted to do so (Hilchot Teshuvah 6:5).  What would have happened if none of the Egyptians wanted to oppress us?  Do not worry, when there is a need to oppress the Nation of Israel or to perform evil in general, there are always plenty of volunteers.  So too, when good needs to be performed in the world – there are plenty of volunteers.  "For Hashem will not cast off His Nation, nor will He forsake His heritage" (Tehillim 94:14).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #244

Bedouins who Steal

Q: We have Bedouins near our community who are constantly stealing.  Is it permissible to steal thins of equal value from them?

A: They are thieves, we are not.  Turn to the police.



Q: What is the halachic approach to vegetarianism?

A: It is not a Mitzvah or a transgression.  It is the personal choice of each person (see Rav Aviner's book on vegetarianism according to Maran Ha-Rav Kook).


Tzedakah before Traveling

Q: Is there a source for giving Tzedakah before traveling?

A: Yes.  "Righteousness should go before you" (Tehillim 82:14. "Tzedek" meaning righteousness is from the same root as "Tzedakah").  Kaf Ha-Chaim (110:24).


Teaching Divrei Torah to the Secular

Q: Is it permissible to teach Torah to secular Jews who have not recited the blessing over learning Torah?

A: Yes.  This is the ruling of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah (Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv also rules this way.  Kav Ve-Naki 1:9).


Learning Torah Every Moment

Q: Is there an opinion to learn Torah every free moment?

A: This is the opinion of Rabbenu Yonah in Igeret Ha-Teshuvah, Derush 1:13.  The Mishnah Berurah 155:4 also leans in this direction.


Stories about Gedolei Yisrael

Q: Is reading stories about Gedolei Yisrael considered Torah learning?

A: Yes, like learning books of Mussar.  However, it is not at the level of toil and depth as learning Torah.  See Piskei Teshuvot 155 note #41.


Hashem's Name during Torah Learning

Q: When the Gemara mentions a verse which includes Hashem's Name, is it permissible to pronounce it or should one say: "Hashem", "Elokim", etc.?

A: It is permissible (Piskei Shlomo Vol. 1 p. 22.  Ha-Rav's commentary on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 6:3).


Traveling in Eretz Yisrael

Q: Is taking a trip in Eretz Yisrael or hiking around Eretz Yisrael considered a Mitzvah? 

A: It is a partial Mitzvah.  See the book "Kum Hithalech Ba-Aretz" of Rabbi Mordechai Tzion.


Train Ticket

Q: Is it permissible for me to use a train ticket which was used and then thrown into the garbage (train tickets on the light-rail in Yerushalayim may be used for a period of an hour and a half)?

A: It is certainly forbidden.  Theft.

The Wars of Hashem: Why King David was not Permitted to Build the Temple - PART ONE

]Sefer Al Diglo #75[



There are those who explain that our King and Master David was admonished: "You have shed blood abundantly, and have waged great wars. You will not build a house to My Name, because you have shed much blood on the Land before me" (Divrei Ha-Yamim 1 22:8).

But this understanding is surprising, because if this were so – if King David was truly punished on account of his wars - why didn’t Israel’s prophets instruct him to refrain from wars for the rest of his life? Is it proper that a person sacrifices himself for the Nation of Israel, the Land of Israel and the Kingship of Israel, and is in the end told: "This was a mistake"?! The prophet Avigail in fact praised King David for his wars: "For Hashem will make my master a faithful house because my master fights the wars of Hashem and evil has not been found in you all of your days" (Shmuel 1 25:28). And what about the general principal that it is a Mitzvah to wage an obligatory war?  According to the Ramban, this includes conquering the Land of Israel, according to the Rambam it includes protecting Israel from a enemy.  So how can a person be admonished when he is fulfilling a Mitzvah, and – on account of this – be told that he may not build the Temple? Where is it written that a soldier may not build the Temple?


It is true that a Cohain who murders may not recite the Bircat Cohanim, because "When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you, even when you recite many prayers, I will not hear, your hands are full of blood" (Yeshayahu 1:15).  Halachic authorities, however, have ruled that this does not apply to a Cohain who is a soldier of Tzahal and kills in war: "And on the contrary, it is proper to say to them: 'May your hands be strengthened and may your power increase'" (Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef in Shut Yehaveh Daat 2:14). And above all, our righteous Messiah himself, as the Rambam says, will both wage the wars of Hashem and build the Temple (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 11:1).


[Next Week Part Two: Rav Aviner's Answer]

Yes, you will succeed!

Question: I’m not going to succeed in repenting. Why should I try if I’m doomed to failure? Repentance is too hard for me. Being pure and holy is not for me. I know myself. I’ll never succeed! I’m wallowing in a sea of pitfalls and obstacles. As I said, it’s too hard for me. Maybe I’ll have some small success here and there, but what is that worth? It won’t help me. It’s a drop in the bucket. A waste of effort. Let me just stay like I am. Maybe that’s best.

Answer: You WILL succeed! Everything G-d commanded us to do is possible. It’s within our power. Consider the way the Torah allowed Jewish soldiers to marry the beautiful war-captives (Devarim 21:10-14), despite this being an unsavory deed. The Torah understood that the soldier could not withstand this temptation. From this we derive that all the rest that the Torah did not permit is presumably within our ability to avoid. Even the Philsopher Kant said that if G-d obligated us in something, that signifies that we are capable of fulfilling that obligation.

Don’t say that some Torah obligation is too great for you, for you, yourself, are great. You are in the image of G-d! You have a Divine spirit – part of G-d above! You are a giant! Only try. Only try and you will see that you have wings to soar up to the heavens.

I didn’t say it would be easy. It will be hard, but worthwhile – the most worthwhile thing on earth. And if you wish, it won’t even be hard. Just move slowly.

There’s a story of a Chasid who approached his Rebbe and said, “I’m full of sin! I’m drowning in a sea of sins!”

The Rebbe replied, “Don’t talk too much. Make a written list.” The Chasid made a list.

“Now,” said the Rebbe, “order the list from the lightest sin to the heaviest.” The Chasid did so.

“Now,” he added, “divide up the lightest sins into four groups.” He did so.

The Rebbe said, “The most insignificant quarter is your task for the coming week.”

“And what about the rest?” asked the Chasid.

“That’s for later weeks!” answered the Rebbe.

“But this quarter is too insignificant…”

“Don’t say it’s too insignificant!” the Rebbe replied. “With a lot of pennies you can amass a fortune.”

Indeed, every crumb of repentance is infinitely precious.

How fortunate you are to be having penitent thoughts. Your whole comment about being in despair actually signifies faith, fortitude and courage. It says that you have not resigned yourself to your situation. You say you have, in an effort to convince yourself that you’re best off in your lowly state. Yet in vain. Your soul is great, and it will never agree. “The soul is never sated” (Kohelet 6:7). This verse is associated with a parable of a princess who married a wealthy commoner who gave her every gift.  But nothing could satisfy her because she missed the palace of her father the king. In the same way, the soul is the king’s daughter, and all the treasures of this world cannot satisfy her. “The soul is never sated.”

Have courage. Repent as much as you can, taking the minor with the major, and you will see that you will succeed in climbing higher and higher.


Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #243

Tying Shoes before Musaf

Q: I am a Cohain.  When I put my shoes back on after Birkat Cohanim in Shacharit on Shabbat, do I have to tie them or can I wear them untied until I Daven Musaf?

A: You must tie them properly right away, since one should stand as before a king (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 91.  Mishnah Berurah #1, 12-13).


Learning Halachah

Q: I do not have time to learn everything.  Which subjects in Torah learning take precedence?

A: Learning the Halachot which are required for day-to-day living.  Sefer Chasidim #1011.  Shut Chavot Yair #124.  And also books about Emunah and ethics.  Will of Ha-Rivash, Chap. 11 #13.

Q: Why do Yeshivot learn the Massechot of Nashim (Laws relating to marriage) and Nezikim (Laws relating to damages) as opposed to day-to-day Halachot?

A: Because it helps one develop the ability to learn in depth.  Later, one should learn the day-to-day Halachot in depth.  Keraina De-Igarta of the Steipler Vol. 2 Letter #1.  Since if one is a Lamdan (serious Torah learner) and violates transgressions, this is a desecration of Hashem's Name.  See Piskei Teshuvot 155:3.


My Sister's Clothing

Q: Is it permissible for me to take my sister's clothing without her permission, since they were bought with my parent's money?

A: Certainly not.  They belong to her.


Buying Tefillin without Paying Taxes

Q: Is it permissible to buy Tefillin from a Sofer Stam who does not pay taxes?

A: It is forbidden.  Shut Yechaveh Da'at of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef (5:64).


Repentance out of Love or Fear

Q: Which is preferable to learn – books which awaken repenting out of love or out of fear?

A: Both.  See Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah of Maran Ha-Rav Kook, Letter #378 (also published in part at the beginning of Orot Ha-Teshuvah).


Free Choice

Q: If Hashem sees and plans the future, how do we have free choice?

A: This is a complex question for a text message.  Ask a Rabbi orally or see Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah end of Chapter 5.  Shemoneh Perakim Chapter 8.


Books of the Maharal

Q: Which book of the Maharal do you recommend learning first?

A: Netivot Olam on proper character traits, and then Netzach Yisrael on Am Yisrael.


Magen David Adom or Counselor

Q: Which is preferable – volunteering as a medic in Magen David Adom or as a counselor in a youth group?

A: Both are good on the obvious condition that everything is Kosher and modest.  But performing a kindness for the soul is much higher than a kindness for the body.


More than Israel has Kept Shabbat

Q: What is the meaning of "More than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept them"?

A: It is a heretical statement of "Echad Ha-Am", which means that Shabbat does not have Divine value but only a communal-national value.

Serving Hashem through Emotion or Intellect

Question: How should one serve Hashem through emotion or intellect?

Answer: It is written on almost every page of the book "Mesillat Yesharim" that one must serve Hashem through intellect.  A person is obligated to be good and to distance himself from evil.  How can a person improve himself?  Answer: through intellect.  The intellect is the main power of a person.  The fact that you have emotions does not make you a man.  Animals also possess emotion.   Apes, for example, have an incrediblely strong motherly emotion, to the point of self-sacrifice.  They hold their babies for five years even when they are gathering food or fighting off an enemy.  Like us, animals have emotions, a body, desires, imaginations, etc.  The Rambam therefore writes in "Shemoneh Perakim" (chapter 1) that the intellect must reign over all of these powers.  The intellect is the king.  Not a ruler who murders all of his citizens so he can reign all by himself, but one who takes care of them.  Rabbi Yehudah Halevi also wrote this in the book "Ha-Kuzari" (in the third section) when he discussed the righteous person, one who is similar to a king who provides for the needs of his citizens.  When he asks them to rally around the flag, they come running.  The same applies to the intellect which gives each human being his status and role.  The intellect examines if a given emotion is positive or negative.  If you are excited about our state and army, this is a good emotion.  But being excited by some actor – what kind of emotion is this?!  A person certainly needs to be excited – if he does not he is not human – but the question is what is he excited about.  How can we know which emotion has deep meaning and which does not?  This is the job of the intellect.  We learn Torah and know what is right and wrong.  To our distress, it is true that emotion and imagination control most people of the world, but we are not discussing what exists, but what should exist.  What should exist is the intellect as the main power.  The intellect is the company commander which gives the orders.  Emotion began ruling the world with the sin of Adam.  Hashem said: do not eat from this tree.  "But it is beautiful…" and so he ate from the tree.  From that time, man has not been directly controlled by his intellect, but has been enslaved to emotions and imagination.  But Hashem had mercy on us and gave us the Torah which teaches us what is good and evil, what is a mitzvah and what is a transgression, what is a law and what is a stringency, etc.  We therefore know how to act in the world, and we can examine an emotion through the intellect.  For example, "I hate you" – the Torah says "Do not hate people."  "I am jealous" – the Torah says "Do not be jealous."  "But I have a powerful emotion" – the Torah says "Do not be jealous of another person."  The Torah clarifies for us prohibited emotions which must be eliminated, permissible emotions which can remain, and supreme emotions which should be strengthened.


Parashat Ki Tisa: Spiritual Repair

[Tal Chermon p. 181]

After the sin of the Golden Calf came the spiritual repair. It is true that there are crises in the world. The world is not a plain. There are mountains and valleys. We cannot deny it. We know that there are crises, but there is no need to panic on account of them. We can overcome the crises and spiritually repair ourselves through the Divine treatment found in the world of the Torah given to us by Moshe Rabbenu. The Torah can only be properly fulfilled after first stumbling in it (Gittin 43a).  By overcoming difficulties one attains a great possession. We received a second set of the Ten Commandments and repaired our relationship with Hashem. Out of the crisis of the sin of the Golden Calf, we clarified our proper relationship with Torah and with the Divine Presence which dwells among us.

In the News... Senior Rabbis Insists Jews Should Decline Spanish Passport



Rabbi Shlomo Aviner and other senior rabbis are not pleased with the development Monday that Spain may issue passports to descendants of Jews expelled in 1492. 

Walla! reports that Rabbi Aviner - a highly respected Religious Zionist rabbinical authority and head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva (Torah study academy) - has forbidden Israelis from obtaining the passports on the grounds that the gesture may be a political ruse to "make up for" the expulsion of Jews. Rabbi Aviner said that the Jewish world cannot and should not forgive Spain for the expulsion and Inquisition. 

On March 30, 1492, Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela decreed that the entire Jewish community of Spain, numbering some 200,000 people, must leave the country in four months' time. The Jews' expulsion had been the pet project of the Spanish Inquisition, headed by Father Tomas de Torquemada, who believed that as long as the Jews remained in Spain, they would influence the tens of thousands of recent Jewish converts to Christianity to continue practicing Judaism.

The short time span forced the Jews to liquidate their homes and businesses at absurdly low prices. By July 30, the Jews were gone from Spain. After the expulsion, many rabbis imposed an informal ban forbidding Jews from ever again living in Spain. 

The bill to grant Spanish passports to Israelis as compensation - over 500 years later - has not been made into law yet and is pending a vote by Spain's Congress of Deputies. 

However, the wait has not prevented the Israeli news media from eagerly publishing the news - and has so far provoked a number of responses, including from the senior rabbis. 

"Spain needs support at the moment - it is in a very difficult financial situation," Rabbi Aviner explained Monday. "Suddenly they are courting us and giving us [dual] citizenship. An Israeli passport is worth more." 

He explained further that the decision to grant Spanish passport is strongly reminiscent of the debate Israel underwent whether or not to accept reparations from Germany - which it did. "The Israeli government accepted compensation then, but it was a matter of saving lives," Rabbi Aviner stated. "Israel was a new, poor country and needed to create jobs. But today, do we really need their [Spain's] favors?" 

About Spain, the Rabbi urged the Jewish people to reject the offer. "[Israel is] strong and healthy, more than they," he said. "I do not see evidence that over the ages they have done anything to really compensate for the expulsion."

He clarified that true amendments are not made through "gestures we don't need." 

"They really haven't done any Teshuva [repentance]," Rabbi Aviner continued. "If they really want to repent, they should at least stand by our side politically when we are attacked." 

He also referred to remarks the Spanish Prime Minister made during a visit to Israel, claiming that thanks to the expulsion from Spain, the State of Israel was established. "There is some truth to that," the Rabbi admitted. "but to phrase it like that - 'thanks to the expulsion? Is this how you ask for forgiveness?"

Rabbi Haim Druckman, another leading Religious Zionist figure and the head of Yeshiva Or Ezion, echoed Rabbi Aviner's sentiments Monday. "Why do we need Spanish citizenship?," he stated. "We are privileged to have our own country and we should be proud to be its citizens." Walla! notes that Rabbi Druckman's own wife would be privy to Spanish citizenship if the bill passes. 

Sephardic Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, prominent Dayan (religious judge) and Av Beit Din of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, issued equally sharp criticism against the gesture. "There is an old Cherem [religious ban] on returning to Spain" after the expulsion, he explained.


I am a Cohain

["Mikdasheich Tuv", pp. 57-60[


Shalom. I am a Cohain, but if you look for me in the Beit Ha-Mikdash, you will not find me. You think my entire life revolves around issues concerning the Beit Ha-Mikdash and sacrifices? You will be surprised to hear that I am only in the Beit Ha-Mikdash two weeks a year, because we are divided into twenty-four groups called "Mishmarot".  So what do I do all year long, you want to know?  I am something like a teacher.


We Cohanim were once reprimanded by one of the prophets. He was exasperated that there were Cohanim who were like robots performing the sacrifices and who did not relate to the Beit Ha-Mikdah and other holy acts and objects with "Cherdat Kodesh – trembling of holiness." We were very distressed, but we "profited" by receiving a clear job description: "For the Cohain's lips should guard knowledge, and they should seek Torah at his mouth, for he is a messenger of Hashem of Legions" (2:7). The prophet's name is Malachi, but this was not his invention. He only reminded us of the words of Moshe Rabbenu which we had forgotten: "They shall teach your statutes to Yaakov and Your Torah to Israel" (Devarim 33:10).


That’s it, I am a teacher. Not just a regular school teacher, but someone capable of being a supreme teacher, like an angel. Not an official teacher, but a personal, intimate teacher. Not a teacher with a fixed position, but a "traveling" teacher. But the two weeks that I spend in the Temple, they are the heart of my time. You know that there are different levels in the Temple: The Temple Mount, the courtyards, the Holy, the Holy of Holies. And what is in the Holy of Holies? The Torah. I am full of Torah, full of the word of Hashem and I bring it to others. What do you think? How can I give it to others if I do not possess it myself?


Understand me. We, the Cohanim, are not an isolated and separated group. We are with you. We are connected and attached to you. All of the effort we exert in life is for you. You have certainly heard about out elder, Aharon Ha-Cohain, of whom it is said: "Aharon shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the Breastplate of Judgment on his heart when he enters the Holy, as a constant remembrance before Hashem" (Shemot 28:29). The entire Nation of Israel is on his heart.


I have nothing. I do not have fields. I do not have vineyards. I do not have factories. Everything I have is for the Nation of Israel. But I do not worry. I know that any place I go I will receive from a cheerful face what I need for a modest life. And you also do not need to worry that perhaps "you will be embarrassed" that you spend your entire lives involved with physical work. You know that there are religious people who are against building the Land, agriculture, and the army. They fear that the profane will swallow up the holy. I am not afraid. Just the opposite.  I think that it is impossible to build a state with half of one's energy. But what about fearing the profane? On account of this, I exist and am traveling among you. I am an "angel" who travels among the living. My world is not outside of life or after life. It is even forbidden for me to come in contact with the dead.  I am among the living. I am not a Cohain who is closed-off, but a Cohain who travels around.


Every place I go, everyone excitedly brings me something from his fruits. This one brings oranges and that one brings bananas for my children. I do not force anyone; just the opposite, everyone happily gives to me. I am also happy to give them what I have. Over the course of a few weeks I soak up incredible holiness in the Beit Ha-Mikdash, and pass it out all year long, in an endless number of personal conversations.  Sometimes complex questions arise in life, and one needs to take counsel. It is true that there are judges and sages for this purpose, but sometimes it is preferable to consult a Cohain. I did not invent this idea. It is explicitly written that if you are in doubt about something: "You shall go to the Cohanim, the Levi'im and the judges who will be in those days" (Devarim 17:9).


I will now reveal a secret to you, the entire truth. Everything I do for you is because I love you. Yes, I love you, I love all of you. When I bless you, I do not simply say a blessing, but I say: "Who has made us holy with the holiness of Aharon, and has commanded us to bless His Nation Israel with love." This is the holiness of Aharon: "Loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to the Torah" (Pirkei Avot 1:12).


Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #242


Q: How much should one give to someone who makes a Shidduch for them?

A: I recommend 5000 Shekels from each side.

Q: That's a lot!

A: It's a little!  A Shidduch is worth much more than a Million Shekels.  We should remember that the wedding itself costs more than 10,000 Shekels...


Skiing on Shabbat

Q: Is it permissible to ski on Shabbat?

A: It is forbidden on account of various problems: 1. The ski lift, even if it is activated by non-Jews for Jews.  2. According to some opinions, making slits in the snow violates the prohibition of plowing.  3. Leaving the Techum Shabbat.  4. Carry the skis on one's feet from a snowy area to a non-snowy area.  5. Carrying the ski poles.  6. It is a weekday activity (Ha-Rav Chaim Kanieski was asked this same question, and responded: I do not know what it [skiing] is.  They showed him pictures of people skiing, and he said that it is the same as the prohibition of sailing on Shabbat.  In general, Rav Kanievski holds that the Halachah regards snow in a manner similar to water.  The book "Ha-Noten Sheleg" p. 333).


The Blessing of "Poke'ach Ivrim"

Q: Should a blind person recite the blessing of "Poke'ach Ivrim" (Blessed is the One… who opens the eyes of the blind) in the morning blessings?

A: Yes, since it is general gratitude for what Hashem has done in His world.  Shulchan Aruch.  Mishnah Berurah (Shulchan Aruch 46:8.  Mishnah Berurah #25).


Child and Shul

Q: What should I do if my child does not want to come to Shul?

A: If you force him to come and he Davens, it is permissible to force him.  But if he comes and is bored out of his mind, do not force him, but rather come to an understanding with him that if he comes for part of the time and Davens, he will receive a prize (see Ha-Rav's book "Chinuch Be-Ahavah").


Planting a Tree in the Shul's Courtyard

Q: It is permissible to plant trees in the Shul's courtyard?

A: There are some authorities who forbid it just as it is forbidden to plant a tree near the altar in the Temple (since idol worshippers worshipped trees).  Rambam, Avodah Zarah 7:9.  And others permit it.  Therefore, one should refrain from doing so.  But even those who forbid it allow: planting a bush even the height of a person, planting a tree next to the street, and leaving trees that were there before the Shul was established (Piskei Teshuvot 150:19).


Nurse Returning Home on Shabbat

Q: I am a nurse.  If I am working on Shabbat and my shift ends, am I permited to drive home or take a ride from a non-Jew?

A: According to Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein, it is permissible.  According to Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, it is forbidden.  Therefore, one should return home in a car driven by a non-Jew.  If this is not possible, it is permited for a Jew to drive (Shut Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:80, 5:25.  Shut Minchat Shlomo 1:8.  Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach adds a note there that this issue was discussed in the important and famous book "Shut Igrot Moshe" by the famous Gaon and Tzadik, Ha-Rav Feinstein, and he only printed his Teshuvah after asking permission from Ha-Rav Feinstein.  See Ha-Torah Ha-Mesamachat pp. 229-230.  Other authorities who hold like Ha-Rav Feinstein include: Ha-Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievski in the name of the Chazon Ish.  Orchot Rabbenu Vol. 1 p. 213.  The Brisker Rav, Ha-Rav Velvele Soloveitchik, brought in Asiya #56 p. 64.  Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 3:105, 4:80.  Shut Amud Ha-Yemini #17).