Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #296

Segulah against Traffic Accidents
Q: Is there a Segulah against traffic accidents?
A: Driving carefully and performing kindness to those who need a ride (And the Belzer Rebbe – Ha-Rav Aharon Rokeach – also gave the Segulah that if one follows the traffic laws with the strictures of the 10 Commandments, and also gives rides to those who need them, in the merit of these kindnesses which he does on the road, he will be saved from any bad occurrence.  Shut Shevet Ha-Kehati 5:241).

Choosing a Teacher
Q: What is preferable – a Torah teacher with a beard, or a Torah teacher without a beard who can explain better?
A: The one who explains better, since learning Torah is a greater Mitzvah than having a beard (This is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Yosef Shlomo Elyashiv.  Kav Ve-Naki #306).

The Taste of Pork
Q: Is it permissible to eat a Kosher spice that has the taste of pork?
A: Yes.  Like the brain of a Shibuta fish which tastes like pork (As Yalta says: "For everything that the Torah forbids, something similar is permitted".  Chullin 109b).

Reb Avrum
Q: The Gemara in Berachot (13a) says that one who calls Avraham: "Avram" violates a positive and a negative Mitzvah (brought in Magen Avraham, Chapter 156).  If so, how is it that Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira ztz"l – Rosh Yeshivat Mercaz Ha-Rav" was called: "Reb Avrum"?
A: This prohibition only applies to Avraham Avinu himself.  Kaf Ha-Chaim 156:14.  And when done so in a shameful way.  Shut Minchat Yitzchak 4:30 (And see Tzalach on Berachot 13a.  Torah Temimah on Bereshit 17:5 #8).

Adding a Name
Q: Our son is extremely short.  We asked a Chasidic Rebbe what to do and he recommended adding a name.  Is it enough to add it during an Aliyah to the Torah or do we need to do something else?
A: Ask the Rebbe directly, or ask his student.

Helping My Wife
Q: My wife in pregnant, and she wants to sleep while I watch the kids. If I do this, I will not be able to Daven with a Minyan.
A: You are also obligated to take care of your children, and one who is involved in a Mitzvah is exempt from another Mitzvah – in this case, Davening with a Minyan (Sukkah 26a).

Role of a Rabbi
Q: What is the role of a Rabbi?
A: To learn, to give Halachic rulings and to perform acts of loving kindness (To this question, R' Refael – Reb Chaim Brisker's father-in-law - said: A Rabbi should only sit and learn Torah day and night.  The Aruch Ha-Shulchan said: To give Halachic rulings.  And Reb Chaim Brisker: There are judges and halachic authorities to give halachic rulings, rather he should perform acts of kindness for his community.  See the commentators on Parashat Yitro.  Meged Givot Olam, p. 57).

Ahavat Yisrael
Q: Is there a Mitzvah to love each and every Jew?

A: Certainly.  See Mesillat Yesharim, end of chapter 19 (and Tanya, Chapter 32).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #295

Stolen Lulav
Q: If someone picked a Lulav from a nature reserve, is it considered stolen?
A: Yes.

Birkat Ha-Gomel over the Wash?!
Q: There was a terrorist attack 5 minutes from where I was and I was saved by a miracle.  Am I required to recite Birkat Ha-Gomel?
A: No.  Just as one whose pants return from the wash and he was miraculously not in them does not recite Ha-Gomel (Ha-Rav's answer in this vein is also brought in the new book "Rav Siach" of Ha-Rav Rami Brachyahu, Rav of the the Yishuv Talmon, Volume 1 p. 62.  And Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik similarly related that someone once walked past a spot where a wall had fallen and killed some people.  He asked Ha-Rav Moshe Bick, who was a great Torah scholar in America: Am I required to recite Birkat Ha-Gomel?  Ha-Rav Bick answered: Do you put your pants in the washing machine?  He said: Of course.  Ha-Rav Bick said: Perhaps you should recite Birkat Ha-Gomel, since you were almost in your pants when they were thrown into the wash…  Ha-Rav Aharon Rakefet in the name of Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik.  And it is known that when Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was asked such a question by one who was almost in a tragedy, he would say: You are almost required to recite Ha-Gomel…).

Sleeve Gastrectomy
Q: Is it permissible to have a Sleeve Gastrectomy in which one's stomach is reduced in order to lose weight?
A: It is permissible and a Mitzvah of protecting one's health.

Is there a problem…
Q: Is there a problem to…
A: The question is not phrased correctly.  One should ask whether something is permissible or forbidden, since a person was created in order to serve Hashem.  The Mitzvot are not problems (Similarly, someone once came to Ha-Meir Bransdorfer, Posek of Toldot Avraham Yitzchak and a member of the Badatz of Ha-Eidah Ha-Charedit in Yerushalayim, to asked questions about Shabbat.  He asked: Is it a "problem" on Shabbat to do so-and-so?  Ha-Rav Brandsdorfer said: There are no problems.  And he repeated: There are no problems, Shabbat issues are not problems, things which are forbidden and permissible are equivalent, since they are both following Hashem's Will.  They are not problems which need to be solved.  Shut Keneh Bosem Volume 4, p. 16).

Cell Phone on Guard Duty
Q: I am an officer in Tzahal and I take the cell phones of the soldiers before they have guard duty so they don't play with them.  Is it permissible to take them on Shabbat?
A: Certainly.  But ask a military Rabbi or call the hotline for soldiers of the Military Rabbinate: 052-941-4414.

Tefillat Ha-Derech while Driving
Q: Is it permissible to recite Tefillat Ha-Derech while driving?
A: No.  One will not concentration properly on the prayer.  It is dangerous (Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.  Brought in Shut Avnei Yashpe 8:14 #8).

Rabbinate outside of Israel
Q: Is it permissible for me to become a Rabbi outside of Israel for two years in order to educate the Jews there and prevent assimilation, or is it forbidden since it helps the Jewish community remain there?
A: It is a Mitzvah to travel there and save them.

Tzitzit during Heat Wave
Q: Am I obligated to wear Tzitzit during a heat wave?  It is really difficult!

A: Yes.  Shut Tzitz Eliezer (8:4, 14:49).  Shut Az Nidbaru (2:55).  Unlike the ruling of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (Ashrei Ha-Ish Chapter 2 #23).

Why Eretz Yisrael?

Question: Why is Eretz Yisrael the only thing that interests you people (i.e. Religious-Zionists)?  You’re fixated on it! Certainly it’s important, but there are other important things too: Learning Torah and performing Mitzvot, education and our country’s social problems.

Answer: Indeed, the idea that we are "only interested in Eretz Yisrael" has long provided a ready excuse for complaining.  There are two answers to it:
First, why be inaccurate?  Why mislead and confuse people?  It simply isn’t true.  We certainly are involved in Eretz Yisrael, but we are also involved in Torah learning and Mitzvah observance and education and social issues.  “Everything G-d said, we will do and obey” (Shemot 24:27).  And precisely because the battlefront is so widespread, we have to work on ourselves in every one of these spheres, and G-d will come to our aid.
Second of all, are we properly devoted to Eretz Yisrael?  It should only be so!  Surely you can’t suspect Moshe of not being devoted to Torah and mitzvot, education and society, yet he still begged to enter Eretz Yisrael: “I beseeched G-d at that time saying, ‘Let me pass through and see the good land…’” (Devarim 3:23-25).  G-d finally said to him, “You’ve said enough!” (verse 26).  Don’t ask anymore. “Let people not say, ‘How unfair the Master!  How stubborn and incalcitrant the disciple!” (Rashi).  That shows how vociferously Moshe begged. “Here is one of three places where Moshe told G-d, ‘I won’t relent until You tell me if You’re going to fulfill my request or not” (Rashi, verse 23).  Yet surely Moshe had a reason for doing so.  Eretz Yisrael has profound importance, the very most profound importance of all.  It was only for a matter of such extreme significance that Moshe begged G-d in this manner.
And Eretz Yisrael involves not just one profound matter, but 252 profound matters.  Ha-Rav Natan Shapiro, the Chief Rabbi of Cracow, born in 1591, was one of the greatest Mekubalim of Poland in his day.  His entire book “Megaleh Amukot” is devoted to those same 252 arguments used by Moshe to explain why he craved to enter the Land.  Rav Shapiro did not invent them all.  Rather, they are taken from the works of Rabbi Menachem Racanati, the “Rokeach,” the Arizal,  Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Pano, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero and Rambam’s Guide to the Perplexed. (see the work, “Kol HaNevu’a” by Rabbi David HaKohen, “the Nazir”, page 269).  For example, Principle 4 is: “If someone possesses the merit from Eretz Yisrael, he can rid the world of its craving for idolatry.”  Also, Eretz Yisrael is a key to “attaining the secret of wisdom… because the air of Eretz Yisrael makes one wise.”  Certainly Moshe was full of divine wisdom, yet he still craved to enter Eretz Yisrael to add to what he already had.
Principle 170 is: Eretz Yisrael is the key to fulfilling “The humble shall inherit the Land” (Tehillim 37:11), for the culmination of all character traits is humility.  Certainly Moshe was the most humble man on earth. Even so, he longed to enter the Land to become more so.
Principle 187: “Eretz Yisrael is the key to bringing all the nations under the wings of the Divine Presence.  That’s why Moshe beseeched Hashem.  He was acting for the sake of Heaven, with the intent of helping all mankind to serve G-d.”

 Indeed, Eretz Yisrael is a very profound matter.  And may we merit to become more closely attached to Eretz Yisrael and to delve more deeply in the topic of Eretz Yisrael.