Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A for Yom Ha-Atzmaut


Standing for Siren

Q: Is it preferable to stand silently during the siren on Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers or to learn Torah?

A: One should be silent as a remembrance of the fallen.  If he is unable to think about the fallen, he should recite Tehillim (Psalms) quietly.

 

Non-Jewish Custom

Q: Is standing silently during the siren a non-Jewish custom?  What does it have to do with Remembrance Day?

A: It is not a non-Jewish custom, and hardly any countries have such a practice.  One should remember the deceased and cry for them.  One who is unable should recite Tehillim.

 

Establishing a Holiday

Q: Do our Sages have the authority today to establish new holidays?  What is the source?

A: Yes.  Shut Chatam Sofer, Yoreh Deah 333.  Orach Chaim 208.

 

Tachanun

Q: Who rules that we do not recite Tachanun on Yom Ha-Atzmaut – especially against the great Rabbis of the generation, including Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv?

A: The question is incomprehensible.  Ha-Rav David Cohen (Rav in our Yeshiva) told me that in his youth he davened at the Tiferet Bachurim shul and when they wanted to recite Tachanun on Yom Ha-Atzmaut, Ha-Rav Elyashiv did not allow it.

 

Charedi Yeshiva

Q: I learn in a Charedi yeshiva in which Tachanun is said on Yom Ha-Atzamaut. I disagree with this practice.  Should I leave when the others say it?

A: It is permissible to stay and not recite Tachanun yourself.  But not in a defiant way, since you are required to honor the Torah, and this is the place where you learn.

 

Shave and a Haircut

Q: Is it permissible to shave and get a haircut for Yom Ha-Atzmaut?  Are all of the laws of mourning of Sefirat Ha-Omer suspended on Yom Ha-Atzmaut?

A: Yes, it is a holiday.  Responsa of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Nissim (former Chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel).  One should shave before Maariv on Yom Ha-Atzmaut and wear holiday clothing. 

 

Wedding

Q: Is it permissible to get married on Yom Ha-Atzmaut?

A: Same answer as for getting a haircut and shaving.

 

Hallel

Q: Should we recite Hallel on Yom Ha-Atzmaut?  With a blessing?

A: Yes (Ruling of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel) with a blessing (Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren).

Q: Should we recite Hallel on the night of Yom Ha-Atzmaut?

A: This is the opinion of Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren, but the majority does not do so.  And this was the decision of our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook.

 

"Ya'aleh Ve-Yavo" and "Al Ha-Nisim"

Q: Why don't we recite "Ya'aleh Ve-Yavo", or "Al Ha-Nisim" on Yom Ha-Atzmaut?

A: Our Sages decreed in the Gemara that "Ya'aleh Ve-Yavo" is recited on Torah holidays, "Al Ha-Nisim" is recited on rabbinic holidays and Hallel is recited on future miraculous salvations.

 

Darkness

Q: Why should we celebrate Yom Ha-Atzmaut when there is so much darkness in our State?

A: We give thanks to Hashem for the light in the State.  We cry on Tisha Be-Av for the darkness which still remains from the Exile.

 

Sources

Q: Where is it possible to find halachic responsa regarding Yom Ha-Atzmaut?

A: The book "Hilchot Yom Ha-Atzmaut Ve-Yom Yerushalayim" of Ha-Rav Nachum Rakover.

Shaving for Yom Ha-Atzmaut


Question: Is one obligated to shave before Yom Ha-Atzmaut (since there is a custom not to shave during the period of Sefirat Ha-Omer)?

 

Answer: Yes, just as one shaves all year long to honor Shabbat, it is a mitzvah to shave in honor of Yom Ha-Atzmaut.  Obviously, if a person does not shave his beard at all, he does not do so, but if he generally does so for Shabbat, then he also shaves for Yom Ha-Atzmaut.  The same applies to getting a haircut.  Ha-Rav Yitzchak Nissim, former Chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel, rules in Shut Yayin Ha-Tov (vol.2, Orach Chaim #11) that it is it is permissible to get a haircut and shave in order to honor the day based on various authorities who allow haircuts and shaving during Sefirat Ha-Omer for similar reasons.  For example, Ha-Rav Chaim Palagi (Sefer Moed Le-kol Chai siman 6, pg. 36) wrote that in his city of Izmir there were families who experienced miracles during Sefirat Ha-Omer and established them as days of joy and thanksgiving like Purim and cut their hair and shaved on them.  Ha-Rav Nissim therefore concludes that on a day when a miracle occurred during Sefirat Ha-Omer - like Yom Ha-Atzamaut - when the State of Israel was declared after 2000 years it is certainly permissible, and even a Mitzvah, to have a haircut and shave on that day (see also Ha-Rav Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, in Siddur Ga’al Yisrael for Yom Ha-Atzmaut p. 32, #13.  And Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren ruled that it was permitted for soldiers to have haircuts and shave on Yom Ha-Atzmaut as indicated in a Command of the General Staff of the Chief Rabbinate of Tzahal #34.0207 brought in Hilkhot Tzava of Ha-Rav Zechariah Ben Shlomo, p. 861).  The Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, Ha-Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, also gave permission to trim one's beard on this day (See Luach "Shana be-Shana" published by Heichal Shlomo, 5752, p. 145.  For those who disagree, see Ha-Rav Ovadiah Hadaya in Shut Yaskil Avdi 6:10 #2 and Ha-Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in Nefesh Ha-Rav, p. 94).  I remember that some students once asked our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, before Yom Ha-Atzmaut if it is permissible to shave for this day.  Our Rabbi did not answer.  Later he responded: "Tomorrow there will be an exam on your faces."  On Yom Ha-Atzmaut he saw that some students had been strict with themselves and had not shaved.  He said of them: "Their faces show their character" (Yeshayahu 3:9, i.e. they had not absorbed the true joy of the day). He added: When there is faith, there is joy, and when there is joy there are no halachic doubts.  How long will we speak out of both sides of our mouths (see Melachim 1 18:21)?!  Do we believe in the Revealed Redemption or not?!"

Q: When should one get a haircut or shave, since Erev Yom Ha-Atzmaut is Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Tzahal?

A: One should do so a little bit before the holiday begins.  For example, if Ma'ariv is at 7:00 PM, he should shave at 6:00 PM.

Yom Ha-Atzmaut: Establishing a New Holiday


Question: How is it possible to establish a new holiday on Yom Ha-Atzmaut?

 

Answer: Rabbi Moshe Sofer of Pressburg ruled that there is a Torah obligation to establish a holiday for every deliverance of the Nation of Israel (Shut Chatam Sofer Orach Chaim #191). And yet perhaps there is a question of "Bal Tosif" (a prohibition against adding commandments), as the Ramban wrote that Yerovam ben Navat transgressed this prohibition by creating a holiday. The Chatam Sofer responds: a transgression only occurs when we create a holiday on the same level as a Torah holiday, i.e. with a prohibition against work and similar things.  Otherwise, there is no prohibition of "Bal Tosif."  The proof is Purim and Chanukah.

 

There are those who ask: Why wasn’t Yom Ha-Atzmaut established when Yehoshua conquered the Land of Israel or when Ezra and Nechemiah returned to the Land? The "Yom Ha-Atzamaut" after Yehoshua's conquest is Pesach.  This holiday does not only celebrate the Exodus from Egypt, but also our arrival in the Land, which is the whole point of the Exodus.  This is explained by the four phrases of the Redemption (Shemot 6:6-8): "And I will remove, and I will save, and I will redeem, and I will take," which is followed by the fifth phrase: "And I will bring you [to the Land of Israel]." Regarding the return to the Land by Ezra and Nechemiah, the answer is simple: They did not celebrate Yom Ha-Atzmaut because they did not have independence.  They only achieved independence on Chanukah. Their "Yom Ha-Atzmaut" is Chanukah.

 

An additional question arises: Isn't it stated in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (18b) that after "Megillat Ta’anit was abolished" one cannot add any holidays?  Megillat Ta’anit is a work of the Men of the Great Assembly that preceded the Mishnah (and it is mentioned in Mishnah Ta’anit 2:8). It enumerates approximately forty holidays which were established during the Second Temple Period, some for military victories and others for spiritual victories.  All of these holidays, except for Purim and Chanukah, were abolished after the destruction of the Second Temple, so who are we to add new ones (Rosh Hashanah ibid.)? Furthermore, since we are in a general spirit of sadness and mourning over the destruction of the Temple, and it is forbidden for us to fill our mouths with laughter (Berachot 31a), how then can we rejoice on new holidays? Purim and Chanukah were permitted only because they contained commandments, and it is impossible to abolish commandments (Rosh Hashanah ibid.).  There are Rabbis, however, who argue persuasively that holidays continued to be established even after the destruction of the Temple. Rabbi Moshe Sofer of Pressburg held a middle position: The prohibition applies only to establishing a holiday for the entire Jewish People, but an individual may establish a holiday for himself or an entire community. In fact, the Rambam established a holiday for himself on the day he arrived in the Land of Israel (brought at the end of Sefer Charedim of Rabbi Eleazar Azkari), and so too many communities established a holiday for themselves commemorating the day of their deliverance. There are approximately two hundred special "Purims," such as "Purim Borghel" celebrated by the Jews of Tripoli (29th of Tevet, for being saved in 5554 from destruction during occupation by Borghel Pasha of Turkey), "Frankfurt Purim" (20th of Adar, for the readmitting of expelled Jews being to the town in 5376, and the execution of the Chief Jew-baiter, Fettmilch), "Lepanto (Greece) Purim" (11th of Tevet, for Jews saved from destruction during the Turkish War in 5460), "Tiveria Purim" (7th of Elul, for Jews saved from danger of war in 5503), etc. etc.

 

The Chatam Sofer, on the other hand, permitted establishing a holiday for the entire Jewish People, with the condition that the deliverance was from death to life. His proof is from the words of our Sages: Purim should certainly be a holiday based on Pesach, since Pesach was a deliverance from slavery to freedom. Should we not celebrate a holiday all the more so for Purim which was a deliverance from death to life (Megillah 14a)? He claims that in exile there is no possibility of being delivered merely from slavery to freedom, since in exile we are slaves to the nations of the world.  Any deliverance, therefore, could only be from death to life.  We may thus establish a new holiday. In truth, on Yom Ha-Atzmaut in the Land of Israel there was a double-deliverance: from slavery to freedom, from the British authority to Jewish authority, and from death to life, from all of the Arab Nations who tried to destroy us at the time of the War of Independence.

 

There are those who claim that before the War of Independence we were not really slaves and there was therefore no deliverance to freedom. This is incorrect - we were slaves in the full meaning of the word, since the Talmud explains that we do not recite Hallel on Purim, since it is written in Hallel "Praise, servants of Hashem" and even after the miracle of Purim we were not servants of Hashem, but still servants of Achashverosh (Megillah ibid.).  Before the establishment of the State, we were slaves to the British authorities.  And now – through Hashem's kindness – we are a free Nation in our Land.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #252


Walking under a Ladder

Q: Is it forbidden to walk under a ladder which is leaning against the wall?

A: Not walking under a ladder is a Christian superstition.  The leaning-ladder makes a triangular shape that recalls the Trinity, and walking under it is considered a desecration of their faith.  One should, however, be careful when walking under a ladder that no object falls on him, and all-the-more-so that the ladder itself doesn't fall on him or anyone else (Ner Be-Ishon Laila p. 234).

 

Addition in Musaf of Rosh Chodesh

Q: During a leap-year, we add "U-le-Chaparat Pasha" into the Shemoneh Esrei of Musaf.  When do we stop saying it?

A: There are three opinions.  Mishnah Berurah (423:6).  The custom is to cease at the end of Adar Bet (This is also the custom mentioned in Luach Eretz Yisrael).

 

Father and Son - Yaakov and Yisrael

Q: For Ashkenazim, who are particular not to name a son after a living father, is it permissible for a father with the name Yaakov to name his son Yisrael, or visa-versa?

A: It is permissible.  It is not the same name.

 

Street Named after a Rabbi

Q: When a street is called after a Rabbi, does one have to call the street Rabbi X or Y, or is it permissible to just say the last name?

A: Rabbi (see Tuvcha Yabi'u Vol. 2, pp. 17-19).

 

Earth as the Center of the Solar System

Q: Rabbi Nachman of Breslov held firmly that the sun revolves around the earth.  How can we understand this?

A: It is indeed difficult to understand.

 

Informing a Family about the Death of a Tzahal Soldier on Shabbat

Q: Is it permissible to drive on Shabbat in order to inform a family of the death of a soldier in Tzahal?

A: Yes, out of a fear that the family will find out on their own, and this could be life-threathening to an elderly or ill person.  It is obviously preferable that the driver be a non-Jew.

 

Smoking on Yom Tov

Q: Is it permissible to smoke on Yom Tov?

A: It is forbidden to smoke even on a weekday (Shut Tzitz Eliezer 17:21.  Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievsky in She'eilat Rav 1:52.  Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 4:115.  Ha-Rav Nisim Karelitz in a letter at the beginning of the book "Chaim Le-lo Ishun".  Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef in Maran Pe'er Ha-Dor p. 31).      

 

Wrapping Tefillin Straps around One's Fingers

Q: Sefardim put on the hand Tefillin while seated.  Does the same apply for wrapping the straps around one's finger?

A: This is done standing.  The same is true for removing them (Mishnah Berurah 27:8.  Kaf Ha-Chaim 28:6).

 

Teachings of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah

Q: What are the central tenets of the teachings of Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah?

A: Love and faith.  Love of Hashem and Israel and faith in Hashem.  Orot p. 69.

Traveling to Poland


Question: Is it good, worthwhile and appropriate to go to see the extermination camps in Poland in order to remember what Amalek did to us, and to thereby become stronger in one’s fear of G-d? While one is there, one can also visit the graves of the great Rabbis.

 

Answer: No, for seven reasons, any one of which would suffice:

1. There is a halachic prohibition against leaving the Land of Israel. It is brought down in the Talmud, the Rambam (Hilchot Melachim Chapter 5) and the Shulchan Aruch. This is a prohibition like any other, and it cannot be overridden due to human emotions. Rambam takes the strict approach, and only permits leaving the Land temporarily for two great Mitzvot: learning Torah and marrying. The Tosafot permit leaving for any Mitzvah, but visiting extermination camps is not classified anywhere as a Mitzvah, just as there is no Mitzvah to visit Egypt to see where we were enslaved, or to visit Spain to see from whence we were exiled, or to visit any of the many other countries where we suffered. Were there such a Mitzvah, it would have to be defined in the Shulchan Aruch. Were there such a Mitzvah, we would expect to have seen our greatest Torah luminaries going there, and even taking the strict approach of going there many times.

2. People claim that such trips have educational value, hence the trips are integrated into the school curriculum. And yet it cannot be that there are activities for wealthy students capable of paying 6,000 Shekels ($1700) that are closed to poor students who will have to suffer financially to attain such a sum.  Is this educationally sound?

3. And all the more so, it’s not educationally sound that the Poles are going to benefit financially because of the extermination camps were located in their country. It was no accident that the Nazis chose this country, because the vast majority of Poles were anti-Semites.  The Poles were happy to see us in these camps.  They did not blow up the train tracks that led to them.  They did not provide shelter to those who fled from them. They even carried out a pogrom after the Holocaust. They stole our homes and refused to return them to the Jews who came back from the extermination camps.  Until today trials are going on over this.

4. Furthermore, fleeting emotions or transient shocks do not educate one to fear G-d or to adopt any other important characteristic. Emotions are easy come, easy go. Education involves a long-term yoke and constant hard work.

5. True, there are Rabbis who accompany their students and give them important Torah lectures along the way, yet for that there is no reason to leave Eretz Yisrael. We have Yad Vashem and similar sites here. We have got films and books, and camp survivors to whom we can listen directly, instead of seeing an artificial reconstruction of the shacks that housed them.

6. As for those survivors, we must realize that some of them are still living. Many are alone, poor, sick, suffering, and short of money to buy medicine, food or heat. It seems a lot more educational to give them the six thousand Shekels. In fact, it seems very uneducational to look for "thrills" far from here, instead of showing kindness to those who are suffering, which is a clear Mitzvah of the Torah. Locating the organizations that help the survivors takes five minutes on the Internet.

7. As for those holy Rabbis who are buried abroad, without a doubt, if anyone were to ask them, they would prefer that time and money be invested in learning their books rather than leaving Eretz Yisrael to visit their graves.

Here’s a general principle to remember: Devote yourself to the Mitzvot G-d commanded us, and don’t invent other Mitzvot.

How Many Fine Virtues the Army Has!


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

 

The ideal is, "They shall beat swords into ploughshares," but in the meantime, it is G-d's will that there should be wars, here in Israel and throughout the world. And if this be the will of G-d, Who “is master of wars and causes salvation to flourish” [Morning Prayers], then a blessing shall derive from this as well. True, that blessing derives through suffering, but it is a blessing for all – Charedim, religious and secular. “For G-d is good to all, and His mercy is over all his works” (Tehilim 145:9). And indeed, how many fine virtues our army has!

1. The Mitzvah of saving lives. It is a great mitzvah to save someone who is in danger. “Do not stand by when your friend’s life is in danger” (Vayikra 19:16, Sanhedrin 73a, Rambam, Hilchot Rotzeah U-Shemirat Nefesh Chapter 1).  It is also a great Mitzvah to endanger oneself to save someone who is in possible danger (Hagahot Maimoniyot and Kesef Mishneh), all the more so for the sake of the Jewish People as a whole.

2. Protecting the Land of Israel. The Mitzvah of settling the Land is equal in weight to all the other Mitzvot of the Torah combined. We were commanded to conquer the Land and not to leave it in the hands of any other nation (Ramban’s fourth footnote on Rambam’s Sefer Ha-Mitzvot).

3. Sanctifying G-d’s name. “I shall be sanctified amongst the People of Israel” (Vayikra 22:32). When the nations smite and wound us, pillage and rape us, exile and murder us, it is a profanation of G-d’s name, for we are G-d’s people. Yet when we defend ourselves, smiting our enemies fiercely, we sanctify G-d’s name (see Yechezel 28).

4. Holiness. Mitzvot hallow a person. As our sages said, “Blessed are You, O G-d… who has sanctified us through His Mitzvot.” Obviously, not everyone who does one Mitzvah thereby turns into a Kadosh, a saint as defined in Mesilat Yesharim, yet every Mitzvah increases holiness, all the more so such a great Mitzvah as saving the Jewish People and sanctifying G-d’s name. Many of the Charedi newsmen and politicians are intentional liars, unfortunately no better than those in other camps. They say that the secular want to draft the Charedim in order to make them secular. This is a bold lie that does not deserve to be dignified by a response.

Unfortunately, every Gadol, every Torah luminary, has his Gehazi, and even several Gehazis. Every Charedi camp claims that the Gedolim of the other Charedi camps have Gehazis who deceive them, and that they also deceive a large portion of the public, who are naïve. They lie to their Gedolim and they lie in the name of their Gedolim, they incite and corrupt and cause divisiveness, as do a great many of the newsmen and politicians in the rest of the Nation.

In the Nachal Charedi and in the Charedi Army unit “Shachar” there are no female soldiers, and the Kashrut there is on the highest level.  The standards here are even higher than inductees adhere to in their private lives. The Army meets the needs of the Charedim on every issue, and keeps its promises, even without an agreement in writing.

5. Becoming stronger in Torah. People become stronger in Torah in the army. True, there are some who deteriorate in the army, but that is due to their low level of commitment before they arrive there. The fact is, however, that most yeshiva dropouts become religiously stronger in the Nachal Charedi. Unfortunately, the “Yeshivot for strengthening people” have almost no success in strengthening anyone religiously. That is not the case with the Nachal Charedi. Thank G-d, the relationship between the Nachal Charedi and the Charedi public is improving.

6. Good character. Responsibility, seriousness, helpfulness, determination, steadfastness. In a word, army service turns you into a “Mentch”, a decent human being. And the more combat-oriented the unit is, the more it builds the soldier’s character. This is what I meant when I said that in any case, the army also infuses the soldier with blessing and holiness.  The army is not just a duty. It is a privilege. It is painful to see how much those Charedim who do not go to the army lose out. Certainly the Torah is our life, but good character is our life as well.

7. Torah for the sake of heaven. One has to learn Torah sincerely, and not just go through the motions to evade army service. Rambam said (Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:10): "It is forbidden to benefit from Torah learning in this world. Our Sages said, 'If someone benefits from Torah learning, it removes him from this world.' They further commanded us, ‘Make it not into a crown for self-aggrandizement, nor an ax with which to chop.'"  Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Yechezkel Abramsky said that if someone does not learn and does not enlist, the laws of the “Rodef” [assailant] apply to him. In other words, he is considered to be endangering all the others who learn Torah sincerely.

8. Learning a trade. In the Nachal Charedi, soldiers learn a trade during the third year, and the same is true with the Charedi “Shachar” program.

The army likewise saves people from poverty. Poverty is a terrible thing that causes religious and moral deterioration. It poses a grave danger which cannot be circumvented through spiritual shortcuts or superstitions. Poverty deprives a man of his senses and of a knowledge of his Creator. What man’s intellect does not do, not even the intellect of Torah, necessity will accomplish. Yet how much better is it for one to plan on his own to learn a profession in the army.

9. Gratitude. We must show our gratitude to the soldiers. Ingratitude is a terrible thing. See Chovot HaLevavot. We must say the “Mi Sheberach” blessing for soldiers presently serving, as well as the Yizkor for the soldiers who have fallen in battle. And one has to enlist himself. One should not say, “Anyway there are too many soldiers, so I’m superfluous.” That isn’t true. There’s no unemployment in the army aside from the “functional unemployment” of any gigantic system. There is a shortage of soldiers required to bear the security burden. It is therefore ethical for everyone to join up.

10. Loving One’s Fellow Jews. In the army, everyone gets to know one another and everyone admires one another. Otherwise, we are in danger of becoming two peoples who are entirely alienated from each other, each group viewing the other as having horns. In the army, they can get to know one another. The Charedim will see the good traits of the secular, their values and ideals, and they will cease their systematic defamation which desecrates G-d’s name and causes the secular to respond in kind. It is a mistake to think that the Torah will be strengthened by our blackening the name of the secular. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said, “If you want to grow taller, don’t dig a pit for your fellow man. Instead, build him a mountain.” Such an approach will lead the secular, as well, to see that the Charedim are very fine people, that they provide a healthy, natural foundation for the Jewish People, and that ultimately, everyone is going to have to be Charedi. This will end the false, mutual estrangement between the secular and Charedi worlds. If you repeat a falsehood enough times, it becomes the truth. It is true thst every group has people who are not normal. Yet they represent a minuscule minority.  The exception to the rule, not the rule itself.

A story is told of a Polish landowner who got drunk in a tavern and came to an agreement with another landowner that the following week each one would bring his bear and the bears would fight each other. When the first landowner returned to his estate and sobered up, he remembered that he did not own a bear, so he summoned a Jew to go to the marketplace, buy a bear skin, and disguise himself with it so that he could pretend to be the bear. The Jew begged him not to make him do this, arguing that it represented a death sentence for him, yet the landowner insisted, threatening the Jew that he would expel his family. On the appointed day, the Jew stood in the bear suit trembling with fear before a frightening bear, freezing in place. Yet the crowd of gamblers pushed him towards the awesome creature. Understanding that his last moments had come, he cried out, “Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G-d…”  Much to his amazement, the other bear completed the passage, “Hashem is One!” No one is really a bear. Everyone is amicable. “Who are like Your people Israel, one Nation in the Land!” (Shmuel 2 7:23).

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Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #251


Ashkenazi eating at Sefardi's House

Q: I am Ashkenazi.  Is it permissible for me to spend Seder night at the house of a Sefardi, who eats Kitniyot?

A: Yes, but don't eat Kitniyot.  It is permissible, however, to eat: food which touched Kitniyot, food which absorbed Kitniyot, food in which the Kitniyot are no longer recognizable and are nullified in a majority, and food cooked in Kitniyot pots and pans (Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:141).

 

Breaking a Glass under the Chuppah

Q: Why do we break a glass under the Chuppah?

A: A Remembrance of the destruction of the Temple in order to show that our joy is still incomplete.  Berachot 31a.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 560:2.

Q: Should the glass be expensive or perhaps inexpensive to avoid "Bal Tashchit" (wantonly destroying items)?

A: An argument can be made both ways: Expensive to bring a bit of sadness, or inexpensive to avoid "Bal Tashchit".  Sedei Chemed, Asifat Dinim Marechet Zayim #12.  One should therefore take a regular glass.  Shut Yabia Omer 4:19.

 

Selling Chametz over the Internet

Q: Is it possible to sell Chametz over the internet?

A: Yes.  It is a form of appointing an agent.

 

Precedence in Granting a Furlough

Q: I am an officer in Tzahal.  If I am able to grant some of the soldiers a furlough, should I give precedence to married soldiers?

A: Definitely.  A married soldier has a great need (see Shut Keshet Nechushah Vol. 1, p. 136).

 

Wrapping the Tefillin

Q: When one wraps the Tefillin around his arm 7 times, do 2 half loops combine and count as one of them?

A: It is a dispute (Petach Ha-Dvir 27:2.  Kaf Ha-Chaim 27:35).

 

Hand-Made or Machine-Made Matzah

Q: According to Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, which is preferable: hand-made or machine-made Matzah?

A: Our Rabbi was particular to use machine-made Matzah since it was decided by the halachic authorities that machine-made Matzah is Kosher, and there is, in fact, greater care regarding the concern of Chametz than with hand-made Matzah (and once when our Rabbi was asked this question, he answered: In the same amount of time that we exert ourselves to make one hand-made Matzah it is possible to make Reb Noson’s [our Rabbi’s brother-in-law], his own and many other people’s Matzah for the entire holiday).

 

Korban Pesach

Q: Should one sign up for the Korban Pesach in anticipation of the coming of the Mashiach?

A: No.  There is no need.  We anticipate the coming of the Mashiach every day, but the building of the Temple will not be today.  See Rambam, Melachim 1:2.   

 

Davening in the Wrong Direction

Q: If I began Davening in the wrong direction, i.e. not towards Yerushalayim.  May I turn around?

A: Yes, walking for the needs of Davening without speaking is not considered an interruption (Mishnah Berurah 104:2.  Piskei Teshuvot ibid.).

 

"The Time of our Freedom"


[Ha-Rav's commentary on the Haggadah]

 

Question: What is the connection between freedom and the prohibition of Chametz (leaven)?  The entire process of ridding ourselves of Chametz seems like a heavy burden which robs a person of his freedom.  And in general, all of the Mitzvot seem to deprive the natural movements of a person. 

Answer: Rav Kook explained that true freedom includes two aspects:

a. Freedom of the body: Physical freedom from any foreign subjugation: Anything which forces the image of G-d within a person to be subjugated to any other power lessens that person’s worth.

b. Freedom of the soul: Spiritual freedom from anything which turns it from the straightness which is its essential existence.  G-d created man upright, and He cleanses man from any inner refuse which sullies his inner holiness.

Regarding these two aspects, each morning we recite the blessing, "who has not made me a slave."  The Mitzvot are not foreign entities which are forced upon a person, rather they reveal his inner essence.  Before the Mitzvot were engraved on the tablets that were given at Mount Sinai, they were written on the “tablets” of every Jew's soul.  Our Sages therefore said: They were "Charut" (engraved) on the tablets – do not read the word as "Charut" (engraved) but as "Cherut" (freedom) (Pirkei Avot 6:2).  By slightly changing the vocalization of the word, we learn an incredible lesson: In order to truly be a free people, it is not enough to be liberated from physical slavery.  On the contrary, it is possible to have an enlightened slave whose spirit is full of freedom, and a free person whose spirit is enslaved.  We were transformed into free people on Pesach, but we do not become truly free until we rid ourselves of anything which robs us of our natural essence.  This is the reason for destroying the Chametz.  It symbolizes the evil inclination and called "the yeast in the dough," because it ferments in the heart of people and causes them to transgress (see Bereachot 17a).  The destruction of our internal Chametz is what allows us to raise the flag of freedom (Olat Re'eiyah vol. 2, pp. 244-245).

The Weekly “Mi-Sheberach” Prayer for Tzahal Soldiers


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

 

May He who blessed our ancestors, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov: They were our ancestors and we follow in their path. They were holy, and, simultaneously, they were fighters. Avraham fought against the four kings, and Yaakov fought “with his sword and bow” (Bereshit 48:22, regarding the battle for Shechem).

The same goes for Moshe and Yehoshua Bin Nun, Otniel ben Kenaz and King David. They were not just soldiers from the ranks, but army generals. When a war is imperative to our survival, it is a war of G-d (Orot 14).

 

Also bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces: For they are performing a great Mitzvah, a three-fold Mitzvah of the Torah incorporating: 1. Defense of the Nation.  2. Defense of the Land.  3. The sanctification of G-d's Name. When we are being beaten and murdered, robbed and raped, it is a desecration of G-d's name. And when we fiercely respond to our enemies it is a sanctification of G-d's name (Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Le-Nitivot Yisrael 1:118). Essentially, when a

person does a Mitzvah he declares G-d's oneness, and when he does so, G-d causes holiness and even blessing to envelop that person. When Yaakov was preparing for war with Esav, he traversed the “Yabok Crossing” (Bereshit 32:23). Yabok stands for Yichud [declaring oneness], Berachah [blessing] and Kedushah [holiness].

 

The Israel Defense Forces: The I.D.F. is not an occupation force. Our intent is not to plunder foreign lands, but to defend our own Nation and Land. We are an army of defense. That is our essence. Ours is a Milchemet Mitzvah according to all opinions, a moral, compulsory war.

 

Who stand guard over our land: How fortunate we are that through G-d's grace we received our Land, but we must protect it day and night, and not fall asleep while at watch. Rashi comments on the words, “May your doorbolts be iron and copper” (Devarim 33:25), “This refers to the entire Jewish People, whose warriors would sit in the border towns closing them off from enemy attack, as though those towns were locked with iron and brass locks and bolts.” Sure enough, we have 350 million enemies all around us, and they are assisted by some billion Moslems and some billion Christians, plus several more million Arabs helping them from within. The Guardian of Israel, and His faithful emissaries, will neither rest nor sleep.

 

And over the cities of our G-d: This Land is the Land of G-d. It is the holy Land. It is the Land of holiness. It is “the Land which G-d keeps His eyes on from the start of the year to the end of the year” (Devarim 11:12). It is the Land in which G-d is returning His Divine presence to Tzion. Every people sacrifices its life for its Land, all the more so we for our holy Land.

 

From Lebanon to the Egyptian Desert, and from the Great Sea to the wilderness: We are commanded regarding this entire Land not to abandon any part of it to any other nation (Ramban's Addendum 4 to Rambam's Sefer Ha-Mitzvot).

 

Wherever they are, on the land on the sea or in the air: This is a holy army. This is a beloved army.  This is an army full of love for Israel, one which sacrifices its life for the sake of Israel. This is an army full of friendship and camaraderie and unity. This is an army in which every soldier is infused with a new spirit, a spirit of self-abnegation for the sake of the Jewish People. This is an army in which it is both a supreme duty and a lofty privilege to participate.

 

G-d will leave our enemies who rise up against us smitten before them: Our enemies are the enemies of G-d. “When the ark was to set out, Moshs would say, ‘Advance, Hashem! May Your enemies be scattered, and may Your foes flee before You!” (Bamidbar 10:35).

 

Your enemies: “These are the enemies of Israel, for whoever hates Israel hates the One whose word brought the world into being” (Rashi).