Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #300

Sherayim of the Rebbe
Q: What is the source for eating Sherayim (leftover food) of a Rebbe?  Is there something to it?
A: It has no clear source in the Gemara or in the Poskim.  Some learn it from the Gemara Chagiga (13b) that it is forbidden to eat a loaf of bread from which a mouse nibbled since the impurity has spread throughout, and this is all the more so when a righteous person eats from it that the purity spreads throughout (Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira explained it in this manner.  When this explanation was related to Ha-Rav Moshe Halberstam, member of the Badatz of the Eidah Ha-Charedit, he said: "I am familiar with all the statements regarding Sherayim except this one."  Rosh Devarcha, p. 108).  Or the Yerushalami Moed Katan (2:3) which says that after the meal celebrating the New Month, Rebbe Yohanan would collect the crumbs and eat them, saying: "May I spend my life in the next world together with those who ate here last evening" (Brought in Shaarim Metzuyanim Be-Halachah 42:2.  Derech Sichah vol. 1, p. 220 in the name of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski.  And Chasidim ask: If one is strict not to sell actual Chametz for Pesach, is it permissible for him to sell a piece of Sherayim from his Rebbe?  The Poskim answer: yes.  Shut Nachat Pinchas 1:1 #65.  Brought in Ki Ba Moed – Pesach vol. 1, p. 8.  And Ha-Rav Aviner told me: "This is a big Chidush, since he is interested in saving it and perhaps there is no Bitul".  And the Gerrer Rebbe once said to Maran Ha-Rav Kook: "Chasidim eat Sherayim of their Rebbe, i.e. they nullify themselves to their Rebbe.  To whom do you nullify yourselves?"  Maran Ha-Rav Kook answered him: "We eat the Sherayim of Klal Yisrael."  And Maran Ha-Rav Kook already wrote that the greatest Tzadik does not reach the ankles of Klal Yisrael.  See Orot 76, 176).

Relation to Arabs
Q: I am volunteering at a center for mentally-challenged children, and there are also Arab children there.  How should I relate to them?  In the same pleasant manner as I would to the other children?
A: Certainly.  One has to be a human being.  It is not a battle field there.  See the introduction of the Netziv to Sefer Bereshit.

Suffering of Am Yisrael
Q: What kind of Chosen People are we when we suffer and are killed all the time?  This is how Hashem loves us?
A: This is complex for a text message.  Ask a Rabbi face-to-face.  Asking a question like this in a text message is a horrible belittling of the suffering of Am Yisrael and a belittling of Hashem.
Q: Thank you, it is truly a belittling.
A: May Hashem bless you. 

Film about Expulsion from Gush Katif on Tisha Be-Av
Q: Is it permissible to see a film about the expulsion from Gush Katif on Tisha Be-Av?
A: It is forbidden to read books that arouse all sorts of inclinations.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307:16.  And this is all the more so for movies.  Therefore, these films which usually arouse hatred towards the army, government, etc., are forbidden all year round, and all the more so on Tisha Be-Av.

Falun Gong
Q: Should we protest the horrible abuses which Falun Gong is undergoing in China?  After all, we are a small country and cannot solve all of the world's problems.
A: We cannot solve them, but we are obligated to protest as well as to act.  The fact is that their government fears this and denies it.
Q: Why do we care? They are idol worshippers!
A: It does not appear that Falun Gong or Falun Dafa is idol worship.  It is a technique of exercise with a little meditation and perfecting of one's character traits, such as truth and compassion.  And we should certainly save them from injustice.
Q: But there is a swaskita in their symbol, like the Nazis.
A: G-d forbid, they are not Nazis.  The swaskita is an ancient symbol from the Far East which the Nazis adopted.  They are good and ethical people.
Q: Is it true that in China they take organs for transplant from members of Falon Gong against their will and they die from this?  This is horrible!  This is like what the Nazis did!  Why are we silent?!

A: Some researchers make this claim but it has yet to be proven by international organizations.  What is certain is that they abuse them in an extremely cruel manner, make false arrests and torture them to death.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #299

Eating Lunch at a Yeshiva
Q: If I visit a Yeshiva to learn a little and hear a class, is it permissible for me to eat lunch there even though I am not a student there?
A: You have to ask one of the Rabbis there.  I do not have the authority to decide for them.

Lending an Electronic Object to Someone who does not Observe Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible for me to lend an electronic object to someone who does not observe Shabbat?
A: In general, yes.  But it is forbidden if it is on Shabbat itself or if on a weekday the person explicitly says that he will use it on Shabbat.  Mishnah Berurah 347:7.

Bli Neder
Q: If one promises something but says "Bli Neder" (without taking an oath), is he obligated to fulfill it?
A: One is certainly obligated to fulfill his promises even if he says "Bli Neder".  If one says "Bli Neder" and does not fulfill his promise he has not transgressed the prohibition of an unfulfilled oath, but he has still transgressed towards his friend (A groom once continuously bugged the Chazon Ish to attend his wedding, but the Chazon Ish refused.  The groom suggested: Ha-Rav can say he is coming "Bli Neder".  The Chazon Ish was shocked:"Bli Neder" is still a serious acceptance, it is not something meant lightly.  If I say it, I will be obligated to attend).

Tzedakah or Kaddish
Q: Is it preferable to pay people to come to my relative's grave on the Yahrzeit so that I can recite Kaddish or to donate the money to Tzedakah?
A: Tzedakah, since giving Tzedakah is a clear Mitzvah, and there is no Mitzvah to recite Kaddish by a relative's grave.

Druze Wedding
Q: Is it permissible for me to attend the wedding of a Druze friend with a Druze woman?  The wedding will not be Kosher but they will provide Kosher food for the Jewish guests?
A: Yes, since the wedding and meal is permissible for them.  And "Maarit Ayin" only applies to what our Sages decreed.

Talit for Single Man
Q: Should a single man wear a Talit?

A: There are various customs among Ashkenazi Jews.  Be'er Heitev 17:4.  Mishnah Berurah Ibid. #10.  But he should certainly wear Tzitzit.  The Sefardi custom is for single men to wear a Talit.  Kaf Ha-Chaim 8:12.

Segulot that Work

Since people today are searching day and night for Segulot, inventing new ones and paying a fortune for them, we decided to collect all of the proven Segulot which we have heard from our Rabbis:

Segulah for Shalom Bayit
A husband should help his wife or, more precisely, the two of them should take care of the family's needs together since theirs is a shared life.
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).

Segulah for the Education of One's Children
A good education, since for education, one has to work and invest.  
Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski related that someone once came to Ha-Griz Soloveitchik – the Brisker Rav – and asked for a blessing that his son should be a Torah scholar and G-d-fearing.  The Rav said that he will be a Torah scholar based on how much you learn with him, and he will be G-d-fearing based on how many tears his mother sheds during Davening for him (Minchat Todah p. 89).

Segulah for Learning Torah
Learn consistently and without interruption.
Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter relates that after he was married, he and his wife did not have children, and they therefore decided to visit Eretz Yisrael.  He was told that it is worthwhile to receive a blessing from the Steipler Gaon.  The way it worked was that one bought a book from him and at the same time asked for a blessing.  The Steipler was hard of hearing, and one would therefore communicate with him by writing on a notepad.  The Steipler yelled in Yiddish: What can I do for you? Rav Schachter wrote that he wants to buy Kehilat Yaakov on Kiddushin, the Massechet they were then learning in Yeshiva.  He bought it, received the change and said that the Steipler could keep the change as a donation.  The Steipler said that he did not need the money, business is business.  Then Rav Schachter asked for a blessing for children, and he blessed him.  The Steipler asked: What else can I do for you?  Rav Schachter said that he was learning in Kolel, and is it possible to receive a blessing for success in learning?  The Steipler said: All the blessings in the world will not help. Rather sit and learn and you will succeed.

Segulah for Debts
If someone has debts, he should spend less than he earns and not rely on the miracle of overcoming the rules of mathematics.
The Tur wrote that one should limit his expenses. And the Mishnah Berurah wrote that this is a harsh criticism against those who are enticed to spend money on luxuries without seeing the consequences, which in the end will lead to theft and disgrace (Biur Halachah chap. 529). One should plan well.

Segulah for a Long Life
“Who is the man that desires life and loves days of seeing good?  Let him guard his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking evil.”  Tehillim 34:13- 14.

Segulah against Traffic Accidents
Driving carefully and performing kindnesses 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).

All of these pieces of advice can be found in Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievsky's answer to the question: How do we know which Segulot are true? - "I only know that which is written in the Shulchan Aruch" (Segulot Raboteinu p. 321).  And the Belzer Rebbe said that there is no greater Segulah than "Yirat Hashem" (Fear of Hashem), as it says (Devarim 28:58): "If you do not observe all of the words of the law, which are written in this book, to fear this Glorious and Awesome Name of Hashem, your G-d" (Shut Az Nedbaru 1:79 #179. Beit Baruch 1, 405. Brought in Shalmei Yehudah chap. 10 note #41).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #298

Discount from the Department of Education
Q: My brother is a teacher and he receives a discount at stores from the Department of Education.  Is it permissible for me to use it?
A: Ask the Department of Education directly.
Q: I asked and they said it is forbidden since they subsidize it.
A: Yashar Koach.

Bus Reaches its Stop in Middle of Shemoneh Esrei
Q: If I am riding on a bus and Davening Shemoneh Esrei of Minchah, since it is getting late, and the bus arrives at my stop, what should I do?
A: It is permissible to get off the bus and continuing Davening there (This is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski.  Ishei Yisrael Chapter 83:43).        

Text Message Questions
Q: Why do sometimes I receive an answer to my text message questions and other times receive an answer that I should call?
A: Sometimes there are details missing which are essential in order to answer (A young girl once came on Yom Tov to the house of Ha-Rav Shmuel Salant - the Rav of Yerushalayim - to ask a question.  The Rav was learning in his room and one of his students opened the door and asked the girl: What is your question?  She said: I baked a cake today and mixed in two eggs.  Is it permissible to eat the cake?  The student didn't want to bother his Rav for such an insignificant question and he answered on his own accord that the cake was permissible.  When the Rav heard the question and answer, he came out of his room and asked the girl how she made the cake and where she got the eggs.  The girl related: My mother went to Shul and asked me to make the cake.  When I went to get the eggs from the cabinet, I only found one.  I went to the chicken coop hoping to find an egg.  I was happy that I found a fresh egg which had been laid today.  I took the egg and used it to bake the cake.  When my mother returned from Shul, I told her the whole story.  She said that there is a question regarding this cake and she sent me to ask you.  The Rav answer: The cake is permissible to eat but only after Yom Tov, since an egg laid on Yom Tov is forbidden to eat on Yom Tov.  The Rav then turned to his student and said to him: When a question comes to you which seems like a question of an ignoramus, don't be so quick to answer it.  Investigate the question and find the driving force for the question, as we learn in Pirkei Avot (1:1): Be deliberate in judgement.  Tiferet Banim of the Mattersdorfer Rebbe on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:9).

Netilat Yadayim with a Disposable Cup
Q: It is permissible to wash Netilat Yadayim with a disposable cup?
A: Yes.  Shut Tzitz Eliezer (12:23), unlike the ruling of the Shut Igrot Moshe (3:39).

Davening in Slippers
Q: If I am Davening at home, is it permissible to Daven in slippers?
A: No.  One must Daven wearing clothing in which one would stand before an important person (Ishei Israel 10:6.  And when Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein would Daven Maariv on his own in his house, if he was wearing a house robe and slippers, he would switch into his regular clothing from his shoes up to his hat.  He would even put on a tie.  When Ha-Rav Aharon Felder saw this the first few times he was confused and thought Reb Moshe was planning to go somewhere.  He asked: Where are we going?  Reb Moshe answered with surprise: I'm getting ready to Daven Maariv.  Reshumei Aharon Volume 1 p. 19).      

Yak Milk
Q: I am in Tibet.  Is it permissible for me to drink yak milk?

A: A yak has the signs of a Kosher animal but lacks a tradition that it is indeed Kosher.  Nonetheless, if an animal has Kosher signs but lacks a tradition that it is Kosher, we refrain from eating its meat, but its milk is permissible.  I heard this in the name of Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch regarding the yak.  The milk is therefore permissible.  

Dancing on Shabbat

Question: Is it permissible to dance on Shabbat?
Answer: The Mishnah and the Gemara in Beitzah (36b) say that it is forbidden to dance on Shabbat and holidays out of a concern that someone might play an instrument, something might happen to that instrument and the person might then repair it, which is a Torah prohibition. 
Today however, it is permissible to dance for three reasons:
1. The Rama in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 339:3) wrote that we do not protest dancing on Shabbat, since people are already accustomed to this activity, and it is better for them to perform it unwittingly than doing so knowing it is wrong.  He also wrote that some explain that nowadays it is completely permissible since we are not experts in repairing instruments and there is no concern of violating a Torah prohibition.  This helps Ashkenazic Jews, but not Sefardic Jews, as they do not rely on the Rama.  It is clear that based on the style of the Rama, the Rama was not enthralled with this leniency.  But many communities do dance on Shabbat, and not only Religious-Zionists.  In Shut Minchat Eleazar (1:29), Ha-Admor of Munkatch, who was definitely not a Religious-Zionist, wrote at length that it is certainly permissible to dance.  So does Shut Devar Yehoshua.    
2. In the book "Ha-Kuzari," Rabbi Yehudah Halevi, who was a Sefardic Jew, wrote that there is value in fasting and ascetic practices, but there is also value in rejoicing, and our dancing on Shabbat and holidays is no less of Divine worship than fasting and ascetic practices.  This means that there is a Sefardic Rishon (Rabbi of the Middle Ages) who permitted this activity. 
3. The Aruch Hashulchan (ibid. #9) wrote that the concern and the reason for the prohibition are only when people dance to a precise rhythm, but what people do today is not considered "dancing."  People go around in a circle and jump up and down.  People do not dance in a way that it must be accompanied by musical instruments and there is thus no fear that someone will repair a musical instrument.
There is a story about Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein that a student in his Yeshiva finally got married after many, many years.  At the Aufruf, they were so excited, including Reb Moshe, that they began to dance around the Bima.  A student asked him: Isn't it forbidden to dance on Shabbat?  Ha-Rav Feinstein responded: You call this dancing?!  And Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski related that he once asked the Chazon Ish about dancing on Shabbat for an Aufruf or Bar Mitzvah, and the Chazon Ish answered that the custom is to be lenient.  He said, however, that his father, the Steipler, would walk around and not dance (Ma'aseh Ish vol. 5 p. 17). 

The permission to dance therefore applies to both Ashkenazic and Sefardic Jews.  This is the reason that many communities, for many generations, have danced on Shabbat and holidays.