Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #267

Donation to a Yeshiva

Q: Which is preferable – a few wealthy donors supporting a Yeshiva, or many poor donors?

A: Many poor donors, so that all Klal-Yisrael will have a part in the Yeshiva (It once happened that a wealthy individual wanted to donate the entire sum needed to build the Chafetz Chaim's Yeshiva in Radin.  The Chafetz Chaim refused.  He explained that he wanted all of Klal-Yisrael to have a part in the Yeshiva and asked that a Tzedakah box be placed in each house.  The wealthy person had a Din Torah against the Chafetz Chaim in the Beit Din of Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Chaim Ozer Grozinski so that he would have to accept the entire donation.  Rav Chaim Ozer ruled that they should compromise).


Chilul Hashem

Q: How is it possible that there are people who are Torah observant but act in a repulsive manner?

A: This is the definition of Chilul Hashem.  Yoma 85.  Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei Ha-Torah Chapter 5.


Eretz Yisrael

Q: Is living in Eretz Yisrael a goal in and of itself or a means to learning Torah and performing Mitzvot in completeness and contentment?

A: It is a goal in and of itself, which also brings completeness and contentment, as does performance of every Mitzvah in the Torah.  See Orot Eretz Yisrael #1 (see Ha-Rav's book "Am Ha-Artzo" which discusses this question in the first chapter).


Lying Child

Q: What can I, as a mother, do if my 4-year old is lying?

A: I apologize: this is too complicated of an issue for a text message.  You can call my wife (or look in Ha-Rav's book on educating children: Chinuch Be-Ahavah).


Saying Verses By-Heart

Q: I teach Torah and quote many verses, but I saw that the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (1:6) writes that it is forbidden to recite verses by-heart.  Do I have to open up a Tanach each time I quote a verse?

A: You are not obligated to do so.  1. It is permissible to recite a verse which you know well.  2. According to Tosafot, one is only obligated to recite a verse from a Tanach if he is fulfilling a Mitzvah for others by doing so.  3. It is permissible to do so if it is a burden on the community (Piskei Teshuvot 49:9.  See there for further permissible manners of doing so).


Ruach Ha-Kodesh

Q: How does one merit Ruach Ha-Kodesh?

A: Following the path laid out in Mesilat Yesharim, from beginning to end.


Reading Books in a Store

Q: Is it permissible for me to read books in a store if I do not intend to buy them but am careful not to ruin them?

A: This is theft.  The books belong to the store and it is forbidden for you to use them without their permission.



Q: Is it forbidden to use WhatsApp?

A: If it contains Lashon Ha-Rav, insults and idle talk.


Spitting in Front of Avodah Zarah

Q: What is the source for spitting when seeing a Preist?

A: There is no source.


Shaming the Kotel

Q: I sometimes Daven at the Kotel and see great Torah scholars there.  Two of my classmates told me that we are obligated to Daven on the Har Ha-Bayit and not at the Kotel, and say "You enjoy talking to a wall"?!  I am confused.  What should I do?

A: Don't listen to the mockers of the generation but rather to its great Rabbis.



Q: I heard that the Arizal said not to say Yigdal?

A: Correct.  Mishnah Berurah 68:2.  But the Shelah did say it, and this is the custom (And Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik said that reciting Yigdal, which includes the foundations of Emunah, is forbidden because of "Chukot Akum" - imitating non-Jewish practice.  This is because it is seen as similar to the Catholic practice of reciting the Catechism – an oral review of their articles of faith.  Nefesh Ha-Rav, p. 231).

When Ha-Rav Goren & the Satmar Rebbe Agreed: Heter Mechirah after the Establishment of the State of Israel

Question: I heard that Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren permitted using the Heter Mechirah and then later forbade it?

Answer: Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Shlomo Goren's opinion is that after the establishment of the State of Israel we can no longer utilize the Heter Mechirah since even though an individual can sell his field to a non-Jew, there still remains a sort of "super-ownership" by the entire State.  As a result, there is still Jewish ownership by the State of Israel.  When Rav Goren served as the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Halachah nonetheless followed the majority of the Rabbis on the Rabbinical Council of the Chief Rabbinate and the Heter Mechirah was indeed utilized.  His personal opinion, however, was that it cannot be used (article in the magazine "Be-Machanayim" of the Military Rabbinate in the year 5619.  Torat Ha-Medinah p. 445.  Torat Ha-Moadim p. 624).

And there is another great Rabbi who agrees: The Satmar Rebbe.  Ha-Rav Yoel Teitelbaum had many arguments against the Heter Mechirah.  He argued that even according to the opinion that the Heter Mechirah is halachically acceptable (which he did not uphold), it no longer applies after the establishment of the State of Israel on account of the "super-ownership" of the State (Shut Divrei Yoel #96-98 and printed in a separate booklet entitled "Shalosh Teshuvot").

The difference, however, is that Rav Goren held this opinion because the State of Israel is a great and holy Mitzvah, while the Satmar Rebbe reasoned as he did because he saw the State as impure, and a rebellion against Hashem.

Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah however rejected the proofs of Rav Goren, and argued that the sale of land sold by an individual is considered a valid sale regardless if there is Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael or not.  Therefore, the Heter Mechirah still applies even after the establishment of the State of Israel (Techumin Volume 7, p. 23).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #266

Burial in Socks

Q: I heard about someone who asked to be buried in socks.  Is there such a custom?

A: No.  There is a story about a wealthy man who left two wills, one to be read upon his death and one to be read 30 days later.  In the first will, he asked to be buried in socks.  The Chevra Kadisha refused to do so.  The second will said that he knows that they will not bury him with his socks, but he made this request to prove that a person does not take any of his wealth to the World to Come.  He only has his Mitzvot.  But I don't know if this story is true.


Selling Food to a Jew who will Not Recite a Blessing

Q: Is it permissible in a store to sell food to a Jew if he will not recite a blessing before eating it?  Is there a prohibition of "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind" (Vayikra 19:14)?

A: It is permissible.  1. Perhaps he will recite a blessing.  Regarding "Do not place a stumbling block", if one is uncertain if the person will transgress the halachah, we are "Tolim" (literally "hanging" on the assumption) that he will not violate it (Mishnah Gittin 5:9).  2. Some authorities hold that there is no prohibition of "Do not place a stumbling block" in business dealings (Shut Meishiv Dvar 2:32).  3. Some authorities hold that when the prohibition will be encountered later on and not at that exact moment, "Do not place a stumbling block" does not apply (Be'er Heitev 169:4 in the name of the Bach).  4. When one has the ability to obtain the item elsewhere, there is no prohibition of "Do not place a stumbling block".

Q: I asked a different Rabbi about the fourth reason Ha-Rav gave and he told me that even when one has the ability to obtain the item elsewhere and that store is owned by a Jew, there is no still the prohibition of "Do not place a stumbling block"?

A: This is the opinion of the Mishneh Le-Melech (Hilchot Malveh Ve-Loveh 4:4) but the Ketav Sofer disagree (Shut Ketav Sofer Yoreh Deah #83.  And in Shut Torat Chesed Orach Chaim #5, Ha-Gaon Mi-Lublin also permits it.  And in Shut Divrei Chachamim p. 281, it is asked regarding "Do not place a stumbling block", if one owns a restaurant, may he sell food to a non-observant Jew?  Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and the Steipler Gaon answer that the world relies on Ha-Gaon Mi-Lublin in this case.  So too Piskei Teshuvot 169:4).


Kiddush for the Birth of a Daughter

Q: If parents did not have a Kiddush to express gratitude for the birth of a daughter will it impede her ability to get married?  Is there a Segulah for her to have a Kiddush later in life?

A: Nonsense (Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski was once asked: I was in Los Angeles, and there was a Kiddush for a 25-year-old woman whose parents had not made a Kiddush for her when she was born.  They said in the name of Ha-Rav's father – the Steipler – it was for this reason that she was having difficulty finding a match.  Ha-Rav Kanievski said: "Who made this up?  Wouldn't I have heard about this in my home?  He never said to make a Kiddush in our family!  Derech Sichah Vol. 1, p. 33.  And Ha-Rav Ben Tzion Mutzafi similarly writes in Shut Doresh Tzion: This is a complete lie, and our mothers did not have a Kiddush made for them and they are happily married).


Singing Between the Blessings Under the Chupah

Q: Is it permissible to sing between the blessings under the Chupah?

A: No.  It is considered an interruption between the blessings.  When people would start to sing under the Chuppah, Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira would instruct them to cease doing so by raising his hand since this was not done throughout the generations (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 62:2.  Sefer Ha-Nisuim Ke-Hilchatam p. 266).


Honoring One's Father

Q: Which is preferable - going to a Torah class or driving my father somewhere so he doesn't have to travel on the bus?

A: Your father.  It is a Mitzvah which cannot be preformed by another person.  Moed Katan 9a-b.


Non-Kosher Cooking Program

Q: Is it permissible to watch a TV program in which they cook non-Kosher food?

A: No.  It is a desecration of Hashem's Name (Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei Ha-Torah, Chapter 5).


Donation to Shul or Yeshiva

Q: Is it preferable to donate towards building a Shul or towards Torah learning in a Yeshiva?

A: Certainly a Yeshiva - it is preferable to build souls than to build buildings.  Yerushalami, Shekalim End of Chapter 5.  And Pele Yoetz Erech "Sefer".

Hannibal Directive

In Tzahal, the Hannibal Directive has been practiced for a long time, whether officially or unofficially.  This means that if a soldier is kidnapped, the army acts against the kidnappers in every way possible in order to thwart the kidnapping.  This includes shooting at them, even though there is a high risk of wounding or killing the kidnapped soldier (Hannibal, by the way, was a Carthaginian military commander who opted to poison himself rather than fall into the hands of the Romans).

During Operation Protective Edge, Lt. Eitan entered a Hamas tunnel with incredible courage in order to save his kidnapped officer.  He gave an order that if they identified something, they should shoot, knowing full well that they could wound or kill the officer.  Tzahal also heavily bombed the area in order to prevent the kidnappers from fleeing.   

This is obviously a very difficult directive emotionally.  Various Rabbis and writers had expressed their reservations regarding its use (see "Hannibal Directive according to Halachah" [Hebrew] by Rav Eleazar Goldstein, Techumim #31 p. 157 and Jewish, Military Ethics [Hebrew] p. 222).  Nonetheless, Tzahal is correct regarding this issue.  The soldier's life is not less important than other people's lives.  On the contrary, it is extremely important.  After all, he displays self-sacrifice day and night.  It is extremely difficult for the father and mother of a kidnapped soldier to hear about the Hannibal directive, but we must not be confused: it is impossible to run a country based on the emotions of a parent's heart.  A country must be run on a systematic intellect.  And regarding this issue, Tzahal is correct. 

In his major article on the authority of the King and the reigning authority, Maran Ha-Rav Kook explains that the laws of Pikuach Nefesh are different for an individual than for a Nation (Shut Mishpat Cohain #144, pp. 315-316).  For the ruling authority, a kidnapped civilian or soldier is much more dangerous than one who is killed.  A person who is killed is a tragedy, but a person who is kidnapped is a tragedy which breaks the national morale as well as the fighting spirit. 

In general, it is forbidden to negotiate with terrorists.  If it is nonetheless done, however, we must apply the Talmudic principle of "captives may not be ransomed for more than their value" (Gittin 45a).  For example, the State of Israel redeemed Shmuel Rosenwaser for one terrorist, based on the traditional mathematical equation of 1=1.  In our times, however, we trade 10, 100 and even 1000 terrorists for a kidnapped Jew.  As is known, half of released terrorists return to being involved in murdering Jews.  As a result, a kidnapping not only breaks the national morale, the resulting release of terrorists endangers the rest of the citizens.    

It is true that every soldier is cherished by us, but the essence of serving in the army overrides Pikuach Nefesh.  In the army, a soldier is always in danger.  An officer sometimes leads his soldiers into extremely difficult missions, and sometimes even missions in which there is a real possibility than none will return alive (See Minchat Chinuch #425. Shut Meishiv Milchama of Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Shlomo Goren Volume 3, pp. 273-274).  Tzahal is even willing to endanger its soldiers in order to free a kidnapped Jew (See Shut Yabia Omer Volume 10 Choshen Mishpat #6 regarding Operation Yonatan - the Raid on Entebee).

And see the article of Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Shlomo Goren in his book Torat Ha-Shabbat Ve-Ha-Moed (pp. 391-404) which justifies the bravery of the Jews of Masada, who committed suicide in order not to break the national morale.  Rav Goren also justifies King Shaul's falling on his sword for the same reason, based on the Meharshal's opinion, that this is what he was required to do.  He also rules there that a soldier who fears that under torture he will reveal military secrets that will endanger his fellow soldiers is obligated to commit suicide.  In our time, this is no longer the case, but the principle remains.

While the Netziv has a unique opinion that there is no principle of "Do not murder" in war (Ha-Emek Davar Bereshit 9:5.  And see Devarim 20:8), Ha-Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin writes that this is a big Chiddush (Le-Or Ha-Halachah pp. 17-18).

This is the guiding principle in the army: we do not make decisions solely based on their immediate results, but based on systematic calculation and long-term effects.  It is true that the basic Halachah of "Pikuach Nefesh" is judged according to the "here and now", but our Sages already established that regarding redeeming captives we are not always able to solve a current problem on account of future implications, because of Tikkun Olam - "The good order of the world" (Gittin ibid).

Short & Sweet - Tect Message Q&A #265

Questions from Yeshiva Students

Ta'anit Dibur [literally, “a fast from speech” for a particular amount of time]

Q: Is it permissible for a Yeshiva student to take upon himself a day-long Ta'anit Dibur in order to learn better, or is it forbidden on account of arrogance?

A: Important question.  You should therefore ask your Rabbi in Yeshiva.



Q: As a Yeshiva student, do I have to adhere to every stringency in the Shulchan Aruch?

A: Ask your Rosh Yeshiva.


Prayer and Torah Learning

Q: I wake up late at my Yeshiva.  Which is preferable - Davening without a Minyan, or with a Minyan and missing some of the Torah learning in the morning Seder?

A: Ask your Rosh Yeshiva.


Davening Vatikin in Yeshiva

Q: I am a Yeshiva student.  Which is preferable - Davening Vatikin in a Shul outside the Yeshiva or later with a Minyan in the Yeshiva?

A: Ask your Rabbi in Yeshiva.



Q: I give much to my Chevruta in Yeshiva and yet he insults me.  Should I get a new one?

A: It difficult to solve a problem such as this from a distance.  Ask your Rabbi in Yeshiva.


Blessing of a Guest in Yeshiva

Q: I learn in Yeshiva.  Should I recite the blessing of a guest in Birkat Ha-Mazon?

A: Ask your Rabbi in Yeshiva.


Selichot or Torah Learning

Q: I learn in Yeshiva and getting up early to recite Selichot makes me extremely tired and really affects my learning.  Should I skip Selichot?

A: Ask your Rabbi in Yeshiva.


Maaser from Kollel Stipend

Q: Should I give Maaser from the stipend I receive in Kollel?

A: Ask your Rosh Kollel directly.


Gemach in Yeshiva

Q: I am a Yeshiva student and want to open a Gemach in the Yeshiva to lend money to those who need it.  Should I?

A: Ask your Rabbi in Yeshiva.


Breakfast in Yeshiva

Q: I learn in Yeshiva and didn't wake up on time.  It is forbidden to remove food from the cafeteria.  If I Daven, I won't eat until lunch.  Is it permissible for me to eat now and then Daven?

A: Ask your Rabbi in Yeshiva.


Question from Yeshiva Students

Q: Ha-Rav frequently responds to questions from Yeshiva students with the answer that they have to ask their Rabbi in Yeshiva.  But I follow Ha-Rav's rulings?

A: You are required to ask your Rabbi in Yeshiva about things which relate to the Yeshiva.

Rescuing a Wounded Soldier

Q: It is permissible to endanger soldiers in order to rescue a wounded soldier?

A: Certainly.  This is part of the Halachot of the army.  Without doing so, the military will not function.  In civilian life, this is indeed a question: is it permissible for a person to endanger himself in order to save another person?   It is a dispute between Achronim (later authorities).  While the Torah does say "Do not stand idly by your fellow's blood" (Vayikra 19:16), the Radvaz writes that one only needs to save him without endangering yourself, as is known: "Your life takes precedence over your fellow's life."  This is based on the Gemara in Baba Metzia (62a) which discusses the case of two people travelling in the desert, and only one of them has a jug of water.  If both drink, both will die.  If one drinks, he will make it to civilization.  The Halachah is that one person should drink, i.e. a person need not save another person while endangering his own life.  This is all-the-more-so true when one has the water.  He is not obligated to give it to the other person.  The Radvaz therefore said that it is certainly a mitzvah to save another person but one does not have to endanger himself since the ways of the Torah are pleasant (Shut Ha-Radvaz 3:625 and brought in Pitchei Teshuvah, Yoreh Deah 157:15).   Other authorities disagree.  They say that while it is true that your life takes precedence over the life of your fellow, it is obligatory for one to place oneself in uncertain danger in order to save the victim from certain danger.  This is the opinion of Hagahot Maimoniyot (Hilchot Rotzeach 1:14 brought in Beit Yosef, Choshen Mishpat 426) and Kesef Mishnah (ibid.).  Their source is the Gemara in the Jerusalem Talmud about a Torah scholar who was once taken captive.  Many said: To our distress, prepare burial shrouds.  Reish Lakish said: I am going to kill or be killed.  Baruch Hashem, he was successful, but we see from here that Reish Lakish was ready to endanger himself to save another person.  There is therefore a dispute.     

In the article "Le-Mitzvah Ha-Aretz" (Le-Netivot Yisrael, p. 157), our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, agreed that a person should endanger himself to save another person.  He brought a proof from the Gemara in Sanhedrin (73a) that one who sees a person drowning in a river, or being dragged by an animal, or being pursued by bandits, must save him, as it says: "Do not stand idly by your fellow's blood."  In the majority of situations, a river, animal and bandit are dangerous.  Furthermore, the Rambam (Hilchot Rotzeach 1:14) changed the word from "a person drowning in a river" to "a person drowning in a sea" which is an even more dangerous situation.  And the Rambam wrote (ibid.): "One who can save and does not save transgresses: Do not stand idly by your fellow's blood."  So a person who can save someone and does not transgresses?!  The Rambam means that the only exemption for a person not to save another is when he is unable to save him.

For example, the Tzitz Eliezer holds that there is no permission to donate a kidney from a living individual, since it involves risk, both during and after the surgery.  Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef in Shut Yechaveh Daa't (3:84), however, holds like the Radvaz that a person does not have to endanger himself to save another person, but donating a kidney is a minor danger, and one does need to take such a risk.  Thus, even according to the Radvaz, one needs to take a low level risk.

But this whole discussion pertains to civilian life.  In civilian life, a life threatening situation is by chance.  In military life, however, risking one's life is an essential component.  In the army, therefore, there is an entirely different modus operandi: All for one and one for all.  While this saying is not found in the Gemara, but is the motto of the Three Musketeers, it is nonetheless true in Tzahal.   

In the army, soldiers endanger themselves for the national good.  The enemy is dangerous.  We therefore go to war - in order protect ourselves - to kill the enemy with the risk of being killed.  This risk is not by chance but part and parcel of army service.  The soldier who fights with self-sacrifice knows that he is not alone and his brothers-in-arms will not abandon him.  This knowledge gives him strength to fight.  We therefore endanger other soldiers to save a wounded soldier.  The basic philosophy of Tzahal has always been, and will always be, that we do not abandon a wounded soldier. 

Perhaps you will say: What logic is there in endangering many soldiers to save one?!  After all, the Torah says: "Be exceedingly careful to safeguard your life"!  The Netziv in Emek Ha-Davar (Bereshit 9:5) and Ha-Rav Shaul Yisraeli in his book "Amud Ha-Yemini" explain that while in the army we must be as careful as possible, there is also another principle: We endanger ourselves as much as necessary.

May Hashem send us peace and may our soldiers always return in peace.  

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #264


Q: Is it true that there were dinosaurs?  If so, how does this fit with the Torah?

A: Yes.  1. There are remains from hundreds of them which anyone can see in Museums.  2. There is absolutely no verse in the Torah that there were not dinosaurs (Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah, Igeret #91.  And see Derush Or Ha-Chaim by the author of Tiferet Yisrael, at the end of Massechet Sanhedrin.  Ner Be-Ishon Laila pp. 27-29).


Forced Marriage

Q: My parents put intense pressure on me to marry my wife.  She is truly a wonderful woman, but it bothers me to this day that she came to me through my parents' force, and it is affects how I relate to her.

A: Nonsense!  If she is a good woman, why do you care how she came to you?!  But ask a different Rabbi, since I am biased, since my great-great-great-great grandfather was also married without his agreement, and later found out that my great-great-great-great grandmother was a supremely holy woman.  I am a Cohain, a descendant of Levi, and this is how Yaakov Avinu was married to Leah Imenu.  You should therefore ask a Rabbi who is a descendant of Rachel, Bilhaah or Zilpah. 


Bar Mitzvah Party

Q: My parents do not have money for a fancy Bar Mitzvah party, but I am jealous of my wealthy friends who do have them and I am embarrassed.

A: Do according to your parents' ability and do not waste money of this.  There is nothing to be embarrassed about.  On the contrary, one who wastes money should be embarrassed.  I suggest that all the children who participate in youth movements revolt and decide together that their Bar Mitzvahs will not cost more than 300 Shekels.


Marriage and Stuttering

Q: I was married a few years ago, and I am very embarrassed because my wife stutters.  It weakens my connection to our marriage.

A: Nonsense!  Read a lot of Mesilat Yesharim and learn to value a person based on his/her proper character traits, and not things which lack importance.  Learn not to base your feelings of the surrounding society but rather on Divine truth.  But I have to admit that I am biased regarding this matter, since when I studied in university, there were two amazing professors, who I greatly respected, who stuttered.  One taught mechanics and strength of materials in the area of engineering, and the other taught Einstein's theory of Relativity.  I therefore know that this is nonsense.   


Hashem's Name on Skin

Q: My friend wrote Hashem's Name on my hand with a magic marker.  Is it permissible to take a shower even though it will be erased?

A: No.  Cover it with masking-tape.


Rabbi's Prayer

Q: If I need help, which is preferable - to Daven for myself, or to ask a great Rabbi to Daven for me?

A: You should Daven for yourself (see Rashi's on Bereshit 21:7 that the prayer of the sick is greater than the prayer of others for him, and takes precedence in being accepted.  And a Jew once approached the Kotzker Rebbe and requested that he Daven for him to have a livelihood.  The Rebbe responded: Daven for yourself.  He said: But I don't know how to Daven.  The Rebbe said: This is a much greater distress than the fact that you do not have a livelihood).


Chafetz Chaim's Library

Q: Is it true that the Chafetz Chaim had a small library?  How then did he write all of his books?

A: It is true.  He used borrowed books to save money, so that the time he would have to spend earning money could be spent learning Torah.


Obligatory War - Milchemet Mitzvah

Q: I heard from an Ultra-Orthodox man that we do not go out even for an obligatory war without the Urim and Tumim?

A: This is when we have the Urim and Tumim.  When we do not have them, we go to war even without them.  And if our enemies attack us, would that person tell to our soldiers not to protect him?!

The Chatam Sofer and the Admor of Munkatch Say Not to Daven for Peace!

The Admor of Munkatch wrote that Davening for peace lengthens the Exile.  One should Daven not for peace but for Geulah (Darchei Chaim Ve-Shalom p. 213).  He based this idea on the words of the Chatam Sofer that praying for peace delays the Geulah, as our Sages say: "War is also Atchalta De-Geulah (Beginning of the Redemption)" (Megillah 17b).  One should therefore Daven for the Geulah and not fear war at all (Sefer Ha-Zicharon, 5717 edition, p. 53).

Atchalta De-Geulah includes building Eretz Yisrael, the return to Eretz Yisrael, the establishment of the State of Israel, unity in the Nation - and also war.  To our great distress, in our day there is no free nation without war.  It is for this reason that the Rambam called one of his books Hilchot Melachim U-Milchamot - Laws of Kings and Wars (according to uncensored edition).  In it he describes the Mashiach as a man of war (Ibid. Chapter 11-12).

It is written at the end of the Book of Yeshayahu (63:6): "I stepped on nations in My anger and made them drunk with My wrath, and I brought down their power to the earth".  There is a ridiculous claim among university scholars that there were two Yeshayahus: One who pursued war and one who pursued peace, as it says at the beginning of Yeshayahu (2:4): "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation will not lift up sword against nation and they will not learn war anymore".  But if there were swords and spears, it is a sign that they did wage war.

We understand why people do not want wars: because our brothers/dear soldiers are killed.  People then say: "This is a time of distress for Yaakov"!  When we were in Exile and Jews were killed, that was a time of distress.  But now it is a time of war, and people are killed in war.  There is no Divine promise anywhere in the Torah that people will not fall in war.  On the contrary, in King David's army, the soldiers wrote Gittin - divorce documents - for their wives in case they were killed in action but their bodies were not found (Shabbat 56a. Ketubot 9a).  And when Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah was asked about fallen soldiers during the Yom Kippur War, when perhaps a hundred-fold more soldiers fell, he responded: Where is your contract?!  Where is the contract that Hashem signed for you that we would not be killed in war?!  This can be compared to one who purchases an apartment for half a million Shekels.  Do we say it is a time of distress?  He is out half a million Shekels!  When we wage war, when we destroy our enemy and when we build our Nation's security, the price we pay is the lives of some of our soldiers.  Everything in the world has a price.  This time is not defined as a "time of distress for Yaakov" but a "time of salvation for Yaakov"!  When our enemies attack, we hit back one-thousand-fold.

Then should we Daven for War?  No, we should Daven for Geulah.  We do not tell Hashem what to do.  We always pray in the general. When we recite the prayer "Refa’enu - Heal us" in the Shemoneh Esrei, we do not instruct Hashem how to heal us, which medicine or therapy to use.  We leave it up to Him.  We do not enter into details, but pray in general.  

There was once a man who had no livelihood.  He came to a Chasidic Rebbe and told him: I bought a lottery ticket.  The Rebbe said: I'll pray that you win the jackpot.  The man got cold feet, however, since the ticket was so expensive and he sold it.  The ticket won.  The Rebbe took this as a rebuke from Heaven for the way that he acted and he went to his Rebbe and told him that he was leaving the Rabbinate.  His Rebbe told him: No, no, but don't dictate to Hashem how to solve problems.  We pray in general. 

The Chatam Sofer and the Admor of Munkatch therefore said not to pray for Peace, since it delays the Geulah.  After all, "War is also Atchalta De-Geulah".

And may the verse be fulfilled: "No longer will violence ("Hamas" in Hebrew) be heard of in your Land, nor plunder and calamity in your borders, and you will call [Hashem's] salvation your protective walls, and [His] praise to be your gateways" (Yeshayahu 60:18).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #263 - Shut Operation Protective Edge #3

Protective Edge

Q: Is this war considered an obligatory war according to Halachah?

A: Certainly.  According to the Rambam, one type of obligatory war is to protect Israel from its enemies. Defensive War (Hilchot Melachim 5:1). According to the Ramban, it is to conquer the Land.  War of Independence (Sefer Ha-Mitzvot Le-Rambam, Additions to Positive Mitzvot #4).


Do We Need an Army?

Q: I heard a Rabbi say that we do not need an army and it is sufficient to rely on the spiritual strength of Rabbis.  Is this true?

A: Moshe Rabbenu waged war, as did Yehoshua Bin Nun and King David.  We need both of them: Human effort and Divine intervention.  See Niddah 70b.


Torah Reading on Tisha Be-Av for Soldiers who are Not Fasting

Q: It is permissible for ten soldiers, who are forbidden to fast on Tisha Be-Av, to read the Torah?

A: Yes.  According to the Chatam Sofer (Orach Chaim #157), the Torah reading is an obligation of the day itself and not dependent on whether or not the reader they are fasting (See Piskei Teshuvot 566:4.  Halachah-Medical Encyclopedia of Rabbi Prof. Steinberg Vol. 4 p. 383).


Protective Edge and Maaser

Q: Is it permissible to buy presents for wounded soldier in the hospital from Maaser?

A: Yes.  They are in the category of poor.


Protective Edge and Amalek

Q: Are the Arabs Amalek?  Is Hamas Amalek?

A: Hamas is similar to Amalek, but the defined is genetic but we do not presently know who they are (Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik related in the name of his father, Ha-Rav Moshe - that besides the actual nation of Amalek, any nation that conspires to destroy the Nation of Israel is considered by the Halachah to be Amalek.  Five Derashot. Kol Dodi Dofek note #23. Nefesh Ha-Rav p. 97.  But our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, was not pleased with what Ha-Rav Soloveitchik wrote in this matter, and he said that it was only a Derashah [a homily, or inspirational discourse], and one should refrain from saying things like this. Melumdei Milchamah p. 24).


The Funeral of a Lone Soldier

Q: Is attending the funeral of a lone soldier consider a "Met Mitzvah" (a corpse which does not have anyone to bury it)?

A: No.  Tzahal takes care of him.  But it is a Mitzvah to accompany the deceased and honor the soldiers.


Returning to Gush Katif

Q: Hasn't the time arrived to return to Gush Katif?

A: It has always been that time.  All that remains is to convince the Nation.  This is true for other Mitzvot as well.


Protective Edge and Davening in Tzahal Uniform

Q: I just returned from fighting in Gaza.  My uniform is dirty and I do not have time to change it.  Is it permissible for me to Daven Minchah?

A: From the outset, one should not wear dirty clothing when Davening because one does not stand in this manner before a king.  But in a pressing situation, it is permissible to act from the outset (Lehatchila) in an after the fact manner (Bediava'ad) (see Sha'arim Metzuyanim Be-Halachah 116 #2 in the name of Rav Shmuel Engel).  And this is true all the more so since a Tzahal uniform is like the clothing of the Kohanim (see Baal Ha-Turim on Vayikra 6:3.  Niddah 13b.  And Ha-Rav Eli Sedan - Head of Pre-Military Yeshiva Academy in Eli, in his talks before being drafted into Tzahal.  And Rabbi Aharon Ziegler related how Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik was very meticulous, among other things, in "Tikun Ha-Malbushim", proper and dignified attire, for the Davening.  He was once visited by a student who served in the Israel Defense Forces who asked him the following question: I work in the tank division, cleaning and maintaining the tanks. My uniform often gets covered in oil and grime.  Do I need to change clothing before Davening Mincha?  He emphasized that it would be possible but quite inconvenient and difficult to do so. The Rav looked at him in amazement and said out loud, "Why would you need to change? You are wearing 'Bigdei Kodesh', holy clothes"!  Published on www.torahmusings.com).


Protective Edge and Shaving

Q: I am a soldier in the tanks and in the field.  The stubble, sweat and sand really bother me.  Is it permissible to shave during the 3 Weeks?

A: Yes (While most Poskim forbid shaving, even for one who shaves daily, there are those who permit it.  Shut Igrot Moshe 4:102, 5:24 #9.  In a pressing situation, it is permissible to rely on this opinion).


Protective Edge and Bad Dream

Q: I am on the Gaza front and one soldier had a dream that another soldier was killed in action.  The second soldier now fears fulfilling his mission.

A: This dream has absolutely no meaning.  There is no need to worry about it.  If they are worried, they can perform a "Hatavat Chalom" as found in the Siddur (Piskei Teshuvot 220:1.  Shut She'eilat Shlomo 4:77-78).


Protective Edge and Killing Our Enemy

Q: I am a soldier and see hundreds of killed and wounded innocent people.  Isn't our attack on Gaza unethical?  Is it permissible for us to ensure our security with the blood of the Arabs of the Gaza Strip?

A: We are willing to make peace in a split second, but in that time they will murder us.  We are obligated to protect the innocent citizens of Israel against the guilty.  We try - far beyond any other army in the world - not to attack uninvolved civilians.  I did not write innocent people but rather uninvolved civilians, since this is a defensive war against an enemy who has risen up to drive us from our Land.  The "innocent" ones are our Nation and our soldiers.


Trip during Operation Protective Edge

Q: Is it permissible to take a trip while our soldiers are fighting a war?

A: Yes.  Because the goal of terror is to break life and routine.  On condition, of course, that it is Kosher and according to the directives of the Home Front Command (Although during the time of the Second Lebanon War, Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv said: I say to everyone that anyone who wants to go on a trip should first go to visit the wounded in the hospital and then go on the trip, i.e. afterwards we'll see if they are still able to go on a trip.  Mi-Pi Ha-Ish p. 247).


Protective Edge and Killing a Terrorist

Q: I killed a Hamas terrorist.  What will happen to me on Yom Kippur?  Do I have to repent?

A: You performed a very great Mitzvah of saving Jews and defending Eretz Yisrael!


Protective Edge and Tefillin

Q: I am a soldier in Gaza and do not have time to put on Tefillin.  What should I do?

A: It is sufficient to put them on for a few seconds.  If this is not possible, then one who is performing one Mitzvah is exempt from another Mitzvah (Sukkah 26a).