Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #292

Eliyahu Ha-Navi
Q: Does Eliyahu Ha-Navi appear in our times in the form of a regular person?
A: No.  Eliyahu Ha-Navi only reveals himself to the holiest of individuals (see the book Chayei Olam, chap. 30, where Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski records many places in the Gemara, Yerushalmi, Midrash, holy books and among great Rabbis where Eliyahu revealed himself).

King Shlomo and Chess
Q: Is it true that King Shlomo invented Chess?
A: This is only a story.  See the book "Otzar Yisrael" of Rav Eizenstein, entry on chess.

Prayer for Captured and Missing Soldiers
Q: Should we add Jonathan Pollard's name into the prayer for captured and missing soldiers?
A: Certainly.  He is a great hero who displayed self-sacrifice for the sake of the Nation of Israel.

Younger Child
Q: Why does the younger child favored a preference in the Tanach?  For example, Kayin and Hevel, Yishmael and Yitzchak, Esav and Yaakov, Leah and Rachel, Menashe and Ephraim, David and his brothers, etc.
A: One gains favor through his efforts, not through his relative age.

Q: How do we relate to the Gemara in Bechorot (8) which discusses a fish that is half human?
A: It does not say that such a creature exists, but only what would in theory be the law if it did (see Netivot Olam, Netiv Ha-Torah, Netiv 14.  And the book “Be’er Ha-Golah”).

Learning the Satmar Rebbe's Books
Q: Does one receive the reward for learning Torah when learning the Satmar Rebbe's books?
A: Certainly.

Picture without Permission
Q: Is it permissible to take someone's picture without his permission?
A: Certainly not.  You must be sure that he agrees (Shut Mishneh Halachot 4:114.  See, however, Shut Be-Tzel Ha-Chochmah 4:85.  There is a famous picture of Maran Ha-Rav Kook sitting in an arm chair, which was taken when he was in London during the First World War without his knowledge. At the moment it was taken he was waiting for a Brit Milah to take place.  The photographer later came to Maran Ha-Rav, brought him the picture and said: Although I brazenly took his Honor's picture without his permission, I now request a favor from Ha-Rav: please allow me to publish this picture as a source of livelihood.  Maran Ha-Rav responded with a smile on his face: Isn't it an explicit verse in the Torah [Shemot 21:16]: "One who steals a man and sells him"!  Maran Ha-Rav Kook ztz"l of Ha-Rav Z.A. Rabiner, pp. 110-111).

Merits and Demerits
Q: It is written that if a man speaks Lashon Ha-Ra his merits are transferred to the person he spoke Lashon Ha-Ra about and that person's demerits are transferred to him.  Is this correct?
A: Yes.  It is in the book "Chovot Ha-Levavot", brought in the Chafetz Chaim's "Shemirat Ha-Lashon," and is also found in the Zohar.

Pre-Natal Testing
Q: Should one have pre-natal testing or is it preferable to trust in Hashem?

A: Trusting in Hashem is only where Hashem explicitly informed you that He will take care of you without you having to exert any effort.  He did not say such a thing in this area, and He commanded that one should follow the instructions of doctors (see Rabbi Avraham ben Ha-Rambam, Ha-Maspik Le-Ovdei Hashem, Sha'ar Ha-Bitachon.  Kovetz Teshuvot of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv vol. 1).

Who won the Israeli Elections?

The answer is simple: The Nation, because all of the political parties are good.  They all love the Nation of Israel.  They all love the Land of Israel.  They all love the State of Israel.  And they all love the spirit of Israel.  But no one possesses all of the truth, all of the justice and all of the integrity.  Hashem, in His kindness for His Nation, spread the talents and good qualities among the entire Nation of Israel and among all of the political parties.  Everyone is required to find which party has the most positives and the least negatives.  No one can claim that his party has it all.  And if someone thinks that his party does have it all, he is dangerously close to "Sinat Chinam – baseless hatred."  "Sinat Chinam" is hating for no reason.  Then why does he hate?  He hates anything which is different.  It is forbidden to be different.  "Everyone is obligated to be exactly like me.  And anyone who is not exactly like me is an enemy of the Nation."  Not true!  We are all important.  And I will remind you who established the State of Israel – it was the Nation.  And who was victorious in the War of Independence – it was the Nation.  And who was victorious in all of the wars – it was the Nation.  And who built up the Land and transformed it from desolation into a garden of Hashem – it was the Nation.  And who absorbed all of the exiles – it was the Nation.  And who strengthened the economy- it was the Nation.  And who returned the Torah to the Land of Israel – it was the Nation.  Everything was done by the entire Nation.  Our party is the Nation.  If only we could establish one party of all of the Jews from one extreme to another!  In the meantime, it is not possible and there are different parties with different opinions.  But do not forget: we are one Nation and all of the parties must act with respect towards one another, with love towards one another and with the recognition that we need one another.  Then, we will have "Ahavat Chinam – baseless love."  "Fortunate is the Nation for whom this is so" (Tehillim 144:15).         

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Purim! - #291

Mishloach Manot in Army
Q: I will be in the army for Purim.  How can I perform the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot?
A: You can send it to another soldier, even from the Mishloch Manot you receive from Tzahal.

Tzedakah on Purim
Q: The Shulchan Aruch says that on Purim we should give Tzedakah to everyone who requests, but I have heard from Ha-Rav that Rabbis estimate that 90% of beggars are swindlers.  Should we still give to them?
A: We only give to beggars who are truly poor.  Therefore, do not give to them.  It is a shame to waste the money when it could help the truly poor.

Q: Is it permissible to shoot off fireworks on Purim?
A: It is certainly forbidden.  They cause all sorts of injuries, and very severe ones.  In addition they cause fear.  Purim is a day to express the love of Israel and not a day to cause pain her.

Making Noise at Mention of Haman
Q: Is the Minhag to make noise during the reading of the Megillah only when Haman's name is mentioned, or also when his wife and sons are mentioned?
A: According to the Shevet Musar, also for his wife and sons. Piskei Teshuvot 690:9.  But in general, one should only make noise for Haman for a short amount of time and one should not disrupt the reading of the Megillah.  Do not turn the essential into the unessential and the unessential into the essential (Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach did not make any noise at Haman's name, he did not even stamp his feet.  Ve-Alehu Lo Yibol, Vol. 1 p. 246.  See She'eilat Shlomo 1:276).

Honoring Torah Scholars on Purim
Q: Is it permissible to have a play on Purim in which are Torah scholars imitate?
A: One must be extremely cautious on Purim not to embarrass another person and all the more so not to embarrass Torah scholars (Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, scolded someone who dressed up on Purim as the Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren. Rabbenu p. 130.  And it is related that Maran Ha-Rav Kook said Divrei Torah on Purim in the same style and with the same emphasis as his Rav, the Netziv, but Rav Kook knew how to do so with respect and holiness, and did not imitate his voice.  See Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:285. 4:131).

Cross-Dressing for Purim
Q: Is it permissible for a man to dress as a woman for Purim?
A: Some authorities permit it, but most forbid it.  It is therefore proper to refrain.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim end of siman 696 and Mishnah Berurah ibid (Aruch Ha-Shulchan ibid. #12.  Shut Yechaveh Da'at 2:50.  Orchot Rabbenu 3:60.  A close associate of the Chazon Ish entered his house on Purim with his 4-5 year old daughter wearing pants.  The Chazon Ish said: This is education?  Dinim Ve-Hanhagot of the Chazon Ish 22:10).

Toy Gun for Children
Q: It is permissible to buy a toy gun for children for Purim?
A: It is okay.  During the course of the year, this is inappropriate, but it is not a problem on occasion.

Megillah Reading by Women
Q: Is it appropriate for women to organize a Megillah reading and read for themselves?
A: Certainly not.  There are many problems with doing so.  Some authorities rule that a woman should not read for herself but hear it from a man (Magen Avraham #689).  There is also a doubt as to whether she can fulfill the Mitzvah for other women (Sha'ar Ha-Tziyun ibid.).  There is also doubt as to the correct formula of the blessing (Shulchan Aruch ibid.).  Furthermore, we should not change the established order of the prayers as they have been over the generations (Shut Rashba 1:323).  Perhaps in doing so there is also an element of rebellion against the Halachah in doing so (see Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:49).  There is also a problem of immodesty even though they are alone (Shut Eretz Tzvi #12 of Ha-Rav Tzvi Schachter).
It is therefore preferable to act in the same manner as all of the wise and righteous women throughout the generations (Be-Ikvei Ha-Tzon, pp. 21-37 and Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik in "Mi-Penini Ha-Rav", p. 68).  There are many other blessings that women can recite throughout their lives without any problem, and may a blessing come upon them.

Drinking on Purim
Q: Is a person obligated to drink on Purim if it leads to stupidity?

A: No.  The earlier Prophets only commanded us to rejoice in a manner that will lead us to show gratitude to Hashem, and not to behave with licentiousness and stupidity.  Furthermore, we do not perform a Mitzvah through a transgression, such as missing Davening.  Biur Halachah 695 in the name of the Meiri and Chayei Adam.  Nimukei Yosef and Meharsha on Megillah 7b.  Piskei Teshuvot 695:4.  And therefore on Purim, one should merely drink a bit more than he is accustomed to (The Steipler related that one time he got drunk on Purim, and then decided to refrain from doing so again.  Ashkavtei De-Rebbe Vol. 1, p. 164.  See Shut She'eilat Shlomo 1:274, 286. 3:159. 4:130).