Short & Sweet- Text Message Q&A #311

Tefillin Not Sitting on One's Forehead
Q: If I see that an adult's Tefillin is not sitting in the correct place on his head, but rather on his forehead, should I point it out?  Perhaps he will be embarrassed?
A: You can either ask an older person to point it out to him, or point it out yourself by asking him a question such as: "I should put on my Tefillin this way or the way that I see you have them?"  Or you can put them on the way he is wearing them and have a friend point out to you in front of him that they are sitting in the wrong spot.

First Shot
Q: I am in Tzahal.  I just shot my gun for the first time and am extremely happy.  Can I recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu?
A: Yes.  A good tiding.  Performing a Mitzvah for the first time (Shut Orach Mishpat #268-269).

Drafting Yeshiva Students
Q: Serving in the army is a Mitzvah, but because it is a Mitzvah that can be performed by others doesn't learning Torah supersede it (Moed Katan 9)?
A: Tzahal is currently in need of an additional 8000 soldiers to fill all of its positions.  For example, it is lacking 1000 Kashrut supervisors.  This is a very important and holy job, and is perfect for students from Charedi Yeshivot.

Text Message or Oral Question
Q: Is it better to ask a Rabbi a question orally than in a text message?
A: Certainly.  But sometimes the question is urgent, or a person does not have a Rabbi, or the questioner is embarrassed and wants to remain anonymous.

Note to Refrain from Speaking Lashon Ha-Ra  
Q: Is it a good idea for me to prepare littles notes which remind me not to speak Lashon Ha-Ra?
A: Yes.  It is a good idea which helps some people.  See Zachor Le-Miriam 21:1.

Bar Mitzvah Meal
Q:  Can a Bar Mitzvah meal be dairy?
A: Yes.  Other meals for a Mitzvah may also be.  The essence is that the meal is respectable (see Piskei Teshuvot #194 in the notes.  Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 2:485, 3:294).  

Q: Will I get the evil eye if I write a will?
A: Certainly not.  Some authorities even hold that it is a Segulah for a long life.

Travel Expenses
Q: I receive reimbursement for travel for my job, but sometimes I get a ride.  Can I still receive the payment?

A: Ask your work directly, since it depends on the conditions of the job.

Religious Jews in the Israeli Security Apparatus

Question: What is Ha-Rav's opinion about the fact that the heads of the Israeli Police, the Shabak (Israeli internal security service) and the Mossad (foreign intelligence service) are all religious?  It's like a dream come true!
Answer: The question itself shows that we are still suffering from the terrible disease caused by our exile: sectarianism.  And in the words of our Sages: Sinat Chinam – baseless hatred.
The very cause of our national destruction was baseless hatred, i.e. the claim that only one group contains all of the truth, all of the righteousness and all of the integrity, while all other groups are rotten, wanting and wrong.  Or in the words of the philosopher Kant: There is "us" and there is "them".    Or in words of the philosopher Sartre: "The other is Gehinom".  It is a national obligation to wage war with all of our means against sectarianism and the idea of raising our group's flag over another's. 
Maran Ha-Rav Kook described this phenomenon with great pain in his article "Masa Ha-Machanot" (The Journey of the Camps), in relation to the religious and secular, and called for all to remember that we are one Nation (Maamrei Ha-Re'eiyah), "Who is like you, Israel, one Nation in the Land".
We must cease this cursed behavior of relating to a person not according to who he truly is but rather according to the group with which he is affliated.
Regarding the statement: "It is like a dream come true", what dream?  The dream that only the religious are in charge of everything?  This is a horrible dream.  The Messiah has not yet come.
But if the dream is that the religious become involved in all parts of the State and take on responsibility – this is truly a great dream.
We will therefore end on an optimistic and joyous note.  We will point out that the choice of these three individuals proves that two ideas are lies.
1. The First Lie: The religious do not take upon themselves national responsibility.  This is not true.  Many important appointments have been made, not based on any political pressure, but rather on personal abilities and great self-sacrifice.  Ben Gurion once said: "Where are you, the religious, in the military cemeteries?"  When he said it, it was not correct. And all the more so today.
2. The Second Lie: The religious are blocked from being promoted in the security apparatus.  This is not true.  After all, since these three individuals were deemed fit for the position, what they wear on their head did not bother anyone.

The message of the story: We are one Nation.  What binds us together is greater than what separates us. 

Short & Sweet- Text Message Q&A #310

Gemara or Talmud
Q: Why do we use the Aramaic word "Gemara" instead of the Hebrew word "Talmud"?
A: Out of fear of the censor, since the Christians made a decree to burn all of the Talmuds, and they even hated the word "Talmud".

Carrying a Weapon
Q: I live in Yesha and want to carry a gun but my wife is scared to have a gun in the house.  What should I do?
A: Carry a gun.  But in your house, keep it in a safe as the law requires.

Folding One's Talit
Q: Is it true that folding one's Talit on Motzaei Shabbat is a Segulah for Shalom Bayit?
A: No.  And regarding this question, a Tzadik answered: He should fold up his sleeves and help his wife.  This is greatest Segulah for Shalom Bayit (And some relate this in the name of the Satmar Rebbe.  Satmar Chasidim end Shabbat very late due to a long Seudat Shelishit and the Rebbe's talk.  Once, on a Saturday night, the Satmar Rebbe saw that one of his Chasidim was the last one in the Beit Midrash and was folding his Talit with great precision.  The Rebbe asked him what he was doing. The Chasid said that he saw in various books that care in folding one's Talit is a Segulah for Shalom Bayit.  The Rebbe responded: A better Segulah is to go home and help your wife wash dishes.  And others say this incident in the name of Ha-Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, Rosh Yeshivat Mir.  The book "U-Piryo Matok - Bereshit" of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein, p. 140).

Children at a Funeral
Q: At what age is it appropriate to bring children to a funeral?
A: There are no set guidelines.  It depends on the child.  If one does bring a child, he should talk to the child about it both beforehand and afterwards.  Bringing a child is sometimes necessary as a part of final separation from a beloved person whose has passed away (see a discussion of this issue at the end of Ha-Rav's book for children "Abba Lo Yashuv – Abba Will Not Return" [Hebrew]).

Extra Soul on Shabbat
Q: Is it true that since one gains an additional soul on Shabbat, he does not gain any weight?
A: Nonsense.

Worms for Fish Bait
Q: Is it permissible to use worms for fish bait, or is it forbidden because of "Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim" (causing pain to animals)?
A: It is permissible.  1. It is a human need (Rama, Even Ha-Ezer 5:14).  2. Some Poskim hold that "Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim" does not apply to worms (Piskei Teshuvot 156:23 #6).    

Q: Why is it so difficult for me to find a Shiduch?
A: It is impossible to solve this issue in a text message.  You can call and we can think about this together.

"Nusach Achid"
Q: I am Sefardi but feel a closer connection to "Nusach Achid" (The "Unity" Nusach for davening) than the Nusach of Sefardim. Can I use it?
A: "Nusach Achid" is essentially "Nusach Sefard" of Ashkenazim (which was introduced by the Chasidim in Eastern Europe). One should, as much as possible, use the Nusach of one's father and ancestors (Shut Yechaveh Da'at 3:6. We have heard in the name of Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren, who established "Nusach Achid", that his intention was not to create a Nusach to unite Klal Yisrael, but to use in the army where it is difficult to distribute all types of different Siddurim. He therefore chose this Nusach, which contains aspects of the various traditions).

Payment for Damage
Q: Someone damaged my car and paid restitution. Is it permissible for me to use the money for a different purpose?
A: Yes. He is obligated to pay for the damage, but the money is yours.

Hilltop Youth
Q: What is Ha-Rav's view of the Hilltop Youth?

A: Idealistic and courageous youth. They need to learn patience.  The most important thing is that there not be a war between Jews.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A for Chanukah - #309

Working when Candles are Lit
Q: Should women refrain from working the entire time the Chanukah lights are lit?
A: It is enough to refrain for a half an hour (Mishnah Berurah 670:4).
Q: Is housework is permissible?
A: Yes.  Food prep, washing dishes and similar activities (Chazon Ovadiah – Chanukah, p. 12.  Shut Kinyan Torah 7:52 #3).
Q: Should men also refrain?
A: Some are strict, but housework is permissible according to the basic halachah (Magen Avraham 670:1.  Mishnah Berurah #3.  Chazon Ovadiah – Chanukah, p. 14).

Chanukah Lights in a Guard House
Q: Should someone on guard duty light in his guard house?
A: Yes. It is his temporary residence (Yalkut Yosef – Moadim p. 208). It is also a nice way of publicizing the miracle.

Waiting for One's Family to Light Chanukah Candles
Q: Should one light Chanukah candles right away at nightfall or wait for one's spouse?
A: If one lights inside the house, he should wait.  If one lights outside, he may wait as long as there are still passersby (The Chafetz Chaim’s rebbe, Rebbe Nachumke of Grodno, once waited several hours until his wife returned home before lighting the Chanukah lights.  The Chafetz Chaim asked him why he waited, and his teacher explained that if one can only buy either Chanukah candles or Shabbat candles, we rule that he should buy Shabbat candles, since Shabbat candles are for "Shalom Bayit" - peace and tranquility of the home [Shabbat 23b.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 678:1].  "If Shabbat candles take precedence over Chanukah candles because of Shalom Bayit, then all the more so I should wait for my wife, since if I don't wait for her, she may be distraught."  Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv explains, however, that this conduct of Rebbe Nachumke only applies outside of Israel where people light Chanukah candles inside: since the lighting is publicizing the miracle to his family, we therefore take "Shalom Bayit" into consideration.  But in Eretz Yisrael, where we light outside, we must light while there are passersby in order to publicize the miracle to them.  If it is too late, we do not fulfill the Mitzvah.  We therefore do not take "Shalom Bayit" into consideration.  Peninei Chanukah, pp. 172-173).    

Operation during Chanukah
Q: Is it permissible to undergo surgery during Chanukah even though the person will not be able to light Chanukah candles?
A: Yes.  It is permissible for a person to put himself in a situation where he will be unable to fulfill a Mitzvah on account of Pikuach Nefesh (preserving life).  See Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv brought in Ashrei Ish, p. 233.    

Segulah for Chanukah Wicks
Q: I heard that there is a Segulah to find a match by taking the leftover oil and wicks from the Chanukiyah, burning them, and then walking over them 7 times.  What is the source?
A: Nonsense (And Ha-Rav Ben Tzion Mutzafi wrote in Shut Doresh Tzion: I have not heard about this).
[By the way, regarding burning the wicks, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 677:4) writes that one should burn the leftover oil in the Chanukiyah at the conclusion of Chanukah.  The commentaries add that the same should be done with the wicks, which are saturated with the oil.  The reason one should burn them is because they were set aside for a Mitzvah and may not be used for another purpose (such as burning or eating).  If they are put aside for the next year, there is a fear that they will accidentally be used (see Tur ibid. and Mishnah Berurah #19).
If so, it would appear that there is no obligation to burn them according to the basic Halachah, since the only fear is that someone may use them.  It would also therefore be permissible to bury them or place them in a plastic bag and throw them away. 
In his commentary on Pirkei Avot, 'Az Yomru' (pp. 131-133), Ha-Rav Yitzchak Aharon Goldberger, Dayan and Rosh Yeshiva of Chasidei Pupa, writes that he discussed this question with the Admor of Pupa.  Rav Goldberger once saw the Admor in the middle of the night burning the wicks in the courtyard, moving them around with a stick in the fire until they were completely ash.  Rav Goldberger said that perhaps there is no obligation to burn the wicks, just as it is permissible to throw out detached Tzitzit as long as it is done in a non-disgraceful manner, or to place them in a Geniza according to the custom of those who are meticulous in Mitzvah observance (Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chaim 21:1).  Similarly, it is permissible to wrap separated Challah in paper and throw it in the garbage if it is difficult to burn it, so that no mishap occurs (Mahar"i Steif brought in Teshuvot Ha-Maor.  And also brought in Mo'adim Uzmanim 7:177.  See also Shut Minchat Yitzchak 4:13). 
The Admor of Pupa responded that perhaps his words are correct, but since our Sages used the term "to burn it", he prefers to perform the obligation according to what our Sages said.  He is therefore particular to completely burn the wicks.  And this is the Minhag among some Chasidim, and the meticulous burn them among a large group of people.
Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski, however, answered that the wicks may be buried (Shut Yadon Moshe 12:71).

This, however, has no connection to a Segulah – M.T.]

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #308

My Wife is Tired
Q: If my wife is tired, is it permissible for me to Daven on my owe at home and watch the kids so she can sleep?
A: Yes.

Divine Providence
Q: Why isn't Divine Providence mentioned in the Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith?
A: It is included in the first principle: "I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is the Creator and guide of everything that has been created, He alone has made, makes and will make all things".

Choosing a Spouse
Q: After we got engaged, my mother went to a Kabbalist who said that we should break it off since the Gematria of the man's name must be higher than that of the woman's in order for a Shidduch to work out (which is not the case with us).  Is this true?
A: No.  It is a new invention.  What one requires for a successful Shidduch is respect and love.  And by the way, it is good that our Avot and Imahot didn't listen to such advice since Avraham=248 and Sarah=505, Yitzchak=208 and Rivkah=307 and Yaakov=182 and Rachel=238.  If they had listened, none of them would have gotten married and there would not have been Am Yisrael!  Only Leah (=36) is less than Yaakov, but she was not originally supposed to marry him.  You should get married.  Mazal Tov!

Curses on the Sidewalk
Q: There are curses sprayed on our sidewalk.  Is it permissible to spray paint over them?
A: Turn to the local municipality or the local Rabbi.  If this is not possible, then it is a Mitzvah to scribble them out.  

Techelet on Tzitzit
Q: Should I put Techelet on my Talit?  Others who learn in my Yeshiva wear Techelet…
Q: Gedolei Yisrael do not wear Techelet and the Minhag of Gedolei Yisrael is more important than the Minhag of your Yeshiva (Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was once asked about a child who learned in a Yeshiva and asked if he should wear Techelet like all the other children there.  He answered: Tell him that I do not go with Techelet.  They asked further: Even though the Minhag there is to go with Techelet?  He answered: Even though.  From the book 'Mi-Pi Ha-Ish' p. 329).

Cohain's Wife who is Pregnant in Cemetery
Q: Is it permissible for the wife of a Cohain who is pregnant to enter a cemetery?

A: Yes.  Even if they know it is a boy, since he is not yet born.  Mishnah Berurah 343:3.  And see Kaf Ha-Chaim ibid. #74). 

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #307

Child in his Parents' Bed
Q: Our child wakes up in the middle of the night with bad dreams and comes into our bed.  Should we insist he goes back or let him stay?
A: In general, you should bring him back to his bed and sit next to him with your hand on him until he falls asleep.  However, in special cases, it is permissible to let him stay if it is difficult for him.

Calling Parents by Their First Names
Q: My parents want me to call them by their first names.  Is it permissible, or forbidden on account of honoring parents?
A: Their will is their honor.  Tosafot Kiddushin (31b d.h. Rebbe Tarfon) in the name of the Yerushalmi. 

Kippah Made from Hair
Q: Someone made Kippot out of hair.  Is it permissible to wear such a Kippah outside of Israel in a place which is dangerous for Jews?
A: Some forbid wearing a toupée without a Kippah on account of Maarit Ayin.  Mishnah Berurah 2:12.  This is the ruling of the halachic authorities, that one needs a recognizable Kippah (This is also the opinion of Ha-Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky.  Emet Le-Yaakov on the Shulchan Aruch ibid.).  Nonetheless, in a pressing circumstance, it is permissible to cover one's head with a toupee (see Mishnah Berurah ibid.).  This is on condition that the Rabbis of that place permit it.  It is preferable, however, to wear a hat that is not unique to Jews (Piskei Teshuvot 2 note #57).  It is true that if one is asked if he is a Jew, it is forbidden for him to say that he is a non-Jew.  But the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 157:2) already permits one to wear non-Jewish clothing so as to appear as a non-Jew, on condition that he not declare that he is a non-Jew (Regarding this question during the Holocuast, see Shut Mi-Maamakim of Ha-Rav Ephraim Oshry 1:15, 4:12, 5:3).  And there is obviously an even greater solution: Making Aliyah.  Here, in Eretz Yisrael, one can proudly wear a Kippah.

Guarding One's Tongue
Q: How can I refrain from speaking Lashon Ha-Ra?  It is impossible!
A: Incorrect.  The more one accustoms himself to refrain, the easier it gets.  Furthermore, even speaking less Lashon Ha-Ra has great value.  Introduction to Sefer Shemirat Ha-Lashon of the Chafetz Chaim.

Snacks in the Dorm
Q: Is it permissible to take snacks and cookies from friends in a dormitory without asking, or is this stealing?
A: It is permissible if one is 100% sure that the friend would agree with all of his heart, and not only because he doesn't feel right refusing.

Officer of Soldiers who are Torah Scholars
Q: I am an officer in Tzahal and I have soldiers who are Torah scholars.  How should I relate to them?  Is it permissible for me to put them on the duty roster?
A: Everything is permissible.  1. It is the same "Pikuach Nefesh" which permits doing so for every soldier.  2. A Rav may forgo the honor due to him.  Kiddushin 32a.  And when a person is drafted into the army, he forgoes his honor.  3. Although a Rav may not forgo a disgrace to him, here it is for the best of the soldier himself.  This is similar to the halachah which a son can make his father grind on a mill.  Kiddushin 31a-b.  And it is for the best of the soldier that he be part of the duty roster so that the other soliders do not complain, unless they themselves initiate exempting Torah scholars from the list.  See too the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 243:a) that a Torah scholar is exempt from all types of guarding, but he is obligated if it is Pikuach Nefesh.  Shut Ha-Radvaz brought in the Pitchei Teshuvot there.

Picture of the Temple Mount
Q: Is it permissible to use a picture taken by someone who entered the Temple Mount?
A: Certainly not.  It was taken by way of a transgression.

Stupid Questions
Q: Why does Ha-Rav answer stupid question?

A: The person who asked the question is also a person who deserves respect and an answer.  In general, it is not your role to give Mussar to others who ask questions.

Video Dvar Torah - Parashat Yayetze: Explanation and Not Coercion

Video Dvar Torah:

Parashat Yayetze: Explanation and Not Coercion
Hashem says to Yaakov Avinu: "Return to the Land of your forefathers" (Bereshit 31:3).  Yaakov speaks with his wives, Rachel and Leah, and says: Listen, I have worked for your father with all of my might but he took advantage of me and changed my wages ten times (ibid. verse 7).  And only then does he say: Hashem appeared to me in a dream and told me to return to Eretz Yisrael (ibid. verse 13).
Why didn't Yaakov Avinu just say that Hashem told him to return, and therefore they are returning?  Why the whole introduction?
The Mishnah and Gemara in Ketubot (110b) in fact says that if a husband wants to go to Eretz Yisrael and his wife does not, she must go, or else he may divorce her without paying her Ketubah.  If the wife wants to go to Eretz Yisrael and the husband does not, he must go, or else he must divorce her and pay her the Ketubah.  Why then doesn't Yaakov Avinu simply tell his wives they are making Aliyah?
The Shelah Ha-Kadosh (Shenei Luchot Ha-Brit on the Parashah) explains that Yaakov Avinu did not want to give his wives orders and commands, even if they were Divine orders.  After all, they were going to have to leave their father, their birthplace and their house.  This is not always easy.  He therefore did not want to coerce them.  He preferred to explain.

We learn from here that one spouse should not give orders to the other, not a husband to his wife and not a wife to her husband.  Everything should be done in humility, with explanation and discussion, and not through coercion.   

What Blessings Will We Recite Upon Pollard's Release?

Q: When Jonathan Pollard is finally released from an American prison after thirty years, should he recite Ha-Gomel?
A: Certainly, as the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 219:1) rules that one who is freed from jail recites this blessing.
Q: But the Mishnah Berurah writes in the Biur Halachah (d.h. Chavush) that in the case of one who is imprisoned but not in danger, the Sefardic custom is to recite Ha-Gomel but the Ashkenazi custom is not to do so, and Pollard is Ashkenazi.  Furthermore, there are rules in a American prison and people are not randomly killed there.
A: 1. He has been in danger on account of the harsh treatment he received there, including years of solitary confinement.  2. He has been with other prisoners who could have murdered him (Piskei Teshuvot 219:4).  3. He has been in a life-threatening situation various times on account of illnesses, and he continues to be very sick.
Q: If so, it is clear that he should recite Ha-Gomel…
A: Furthermore, the Kaf Ha-Chaim (219:1) brings that Sefardim should recite Ha-Gomel when being released from jail on account of the lack of personal freedom, even if there were wonderful conditions.  And Ashkenazi Poskim hold that one recites the blessing if one is bound in handcuffs and this is the case here (Piskei Teshuvot ibid. #1.  Although Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski said that Pollard should not recite Ha-Gomel based on the simple understanding of the words the Mishnah Berurah writes in the Biur Halachah brought above.  Parashah Sheet "Divrei Shi'ach" – Parashat Re'eh 5775 - #131).
Q: Should we recite Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv?
A: Yes, upon the good news of his release (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 222:1.  And this is also the opinion of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski.  Parashah Sheet "Divrei Shi'ach" – Parashat Re'eh 5775 - #131).
Q: When should we recite this blessing?
A: Upon his release.
Q: Why don't we recite the blessing now over the good news that he will be released?
A: We only recite it when he leaves the prison and is free, since there can always be complications.
Q: Should everyone recite this blessing?
A: Anyone who is truly joyous.  See Aruch Ha-Shulchan (ibid. #1).
Q: Should one recite Mechaye Ha-Meitim when meeting him after his release?
A: No, since we have known all along that he was alive.  We only recite this blessing if we have not heard from someone in over a year and there is a possibility that he is dead.
A: Should one recite Shehechiyanu when meeting him after his release as one does when not seeing his friend for 30 days?
A: Yes.  Although there are those who do not, for various reasons, customarily recite Shehechiyanu over seeing a friend (see Piskei Teshuvot 225:2.  And Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski said that one should not recite Shehechiyanu when seeing Pollard based on the Mishnah Berurah 225:2.  Parashah Sheet "Divrei Shi'ach" – Parashat Re'eh 5775 - #131).  But Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah quotes all of these blessings in Sidur Olat Re'eiyah (Vol. 1 pp. 380-382) as the basic Halachah lays out (and see Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:83-84, 86).  
Q: But Shehechiyanu is only recited when one is joyous to meet his friend, and not when one has never met the person (Shulchan Aruch ibid. #2)?  And is someone who visited Pollard in prison, as Ha-Rav did, in the category of a "friend"?!
A: This is a unique case (see Piskei Teshuvot ibid. #2).  Pollard is all of our friend since he saved our entire Nation from the non-conventional weapons of the enemy.  When the Netziv met the Aderet for the first time, he recited Shehechiyanu (see Ha-Rav's commentary on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59:21).
Q: This was special since the Aderet was a Torah giant!  And the Munkatcher Rebbe recited Shehechiyanu upon seeing the Saba Kadisha for the first time (Shut Yayin Ha-Tov #48-49), as did Ha-Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld over the Munkatcher (Masaot Yerushalayim p. 21).  And Ha-Rav Ephraim Greenblatt ruled that one should recite Shehechiyanu the first time he meets Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shut Revivot Ephraim 6:104).  It therefore seems that this is a special halachah for Torah giants!

A: One who saves his friend, and all the more so one who saves the entire community, has an aspect that is comparable to a Torah scholar.  See Pele Yoetz Erech "Hatzalah", who explains the saying of our Rabbis: "Even those of Israel who are empty are as full of Mitzvot as a pomegranate [is full of seeds]."  How so?  It is those who save lives.  And the Pele Yoetz emphasizes: One who saves lives is greater even than a Torah scholar.       

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #306

Q: I have OCD.  A Rabbi told me that Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv ruled that in such a case, one should be lenient whenever there is a doubt.  What does "whenever there is a doubt" mean?  That I don't need to ask a Rabbi every time?
A: No.  Whenever there is a doubt means exactly that: whenever there is a doubt (and see the book "Religious Compulsions and Fears" by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek).

Connections (Called "Protexia" in Israel)
Q: Is it ethical to use connections in order to receive a job or benefits?
A: On condition that you truly deserve them, but are unable to attain them in the usual way.

Guest Taking Food
Q: If I am at an affair, is it permissible to take a cookie in my pocket to eat later?
A: There is a dispute whether the host gives the food to the guest or whether he gives the guest permission to eat it.  In practice, if the food is on the communal plate, you cannot take it home, but if it is on your personal plate, you may.  Be'er Heitiv, Even Ha-Ezer 28:32.   

Placing Items in a Tefillin Bag
Q: Is it permissible to put items, such as a mirror and money for Tzedakah, in a Tefillin bag?
A: It is forbidden to place items in a Tefillin bag unless they are connected to performing the Mitzvah of Tefillin.  Therefore, it is permissible to put a mirror in a Tefillin bag but it is forbidden to put in money for Tzedkah.  Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Halichot Shlomo Chapter 4 #34 (A father who suspected that his son was not putting on Tefillin once asked Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein whether he could put a chocolate bar in his son's Tefillin bag in order to discover the truth.  Is it permissible to place something in the Tefillin bag for the great need of educating his son?  Rav Zilberstein answers that it is permissible to place a mirror in one's Tefillin bag since it serves to insure that the Tefillin are resting in their proper place and is therefore essential to the Mitzvah.  This is not the case however with a chocolate bar, since it is not part and parcel of the Mitzvah and it is therefore forbidden to place it in there.  In the book "Ve-Ha-Arev Na Volume 2 pp. 439-441.  And when Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef went to serve as a Rabbi in Egypt, there was a so-called "Chief Rabbi".  Rav Ovadiah complained to him regarding all sorts of halachic violations which needed to be fixed, such as serving Treif food in the Jewish hospital, to which he responded: "There is no problem".  There was a Torah scholar who served in the Rabbinate there, Chacham Yosef Chason, who told Rav Ovadiah that this "Chief Rabbi" doesn't even put on Tefillin!  And how did he know?  Every morning the "Chief Rabbi" would close himself in a room with his Talit and Tefillin bag, and come out after a half an hour.  Chacham Yosef claimed that all he does in that room is smoke cigarettes and nothing else!  Rav Ovadiah took out the Tefillin of the "Chief Rabbi" and replaced them with onions as a test.  If he actually put on Tefillin and found onions in his bag, he would scream: "Where are my Tefillin"?  No such scream ever occurred…  In the book "Sinai Ve-Oker Harim" pp. 97-99.  But how did Rav Ovadiah do such a thing, as it is forbidden to put onions in a Tefillin bag?  This was an extenuating circumstance of a spiritual life-threatening situation and a desecration of Hashem's Name).

Preparation for Tzahal
Q: What spiritual preparation should I do in anticipation of my army service?
A: Learn Mesilat Yesharim many times.  And do so as well when you are in the army.

Waking Up in the Morning
Q: I have a difficult time waking up in the morning.  What should I do?
A: Set a radio alarm at a high volume.

Rachel and Lavan's Idols
Q: Why did Rachel save the Terafim instead of destroying them or immediately burying them?

A: She feared that because of Lavan's deep connection to them, he would murder everyone because of them.  She therefore left open the opportunity to return them to him in the case of real danger.  Gur Aryeh of the Maharal.