Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #304

Adding to the Prayers during the Wave of Terror
Q: In light of the current situation, should we add prayers to the Davening?
A: There is no need.  This is the normal state of war with our enemies, which has been going on since the establishment of the State of Israel.

Q: Why are we revolted by terrorists?  Don't we believe that they are performing Hashem's will?
A: This is not Hashem's will but rather evil.  A wicked person absorbs Hashem's will in a false and evil manner.  See Shemoneh Kevatzim of Maran Ha-Rav Kook 3:42.

Type of War
Q: Is this war considered an obligatory war according to Halachah?
A: Certainly.  According to the Rambam, one type of obligatory war is to protect Israel from its enemies, i.e. Defensive War (Hilchot Melachim 5:1). According to the Ramban, it is to conquer the Land, cf. War of Independence (Sefer Ha-Mitzvot Le-Rambam, Additions to Positive Mitzvot #4).

Do We Need an Army?
Q: I heard a Rabbi say that we do not need an army and it is sufficient to rely on the spiritual strength of Rabbis.  Is this true?
A: Moshe Rabbenu waged war, as did Yehoshua Bin Nun and King David.  We need both: Human effort and Divine intervention.  See Niddah 70b.

Talit for Single Man
Q: Should an unmarried man wear a Talit?
A: According to Sefardim, an unmarried man wears a Talit (Kaf Ha-Chaim 8:12).  According to Ashkenazim, some wear a Talit (Be'er Heitiv 17:4) and some do not (Shut Levushei Mordechai Tanina #2).  But everyone must wear Tzitzit.

Standing During the Blessing for Thunder
Q: Is one obligated to stand while reciting the blessing for thunder?
A: One is not obligated to stand for the blessings of praise and thanksgiving, but it is proper to do so.  Piskei Teshuvot 218:1.

To Whom Does the Kotel Belong
Q: I heard that the Arabs claim that the Kotel belongs to them and the proof is that Mohamed tied his horse to it.
A: Nonsense and lies (In the year 5690, Ha-Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Ve-Da'at in Brooklyn, said: The leaders of the nations of the world are discussing to whom the Kotel belongs – to the Jews or to the Arabs.  This is shocking!  We have an entire tradition in the Torah, Gemara and Midrashim relating to the Temple Mount and the Kotel: The Akedah took place there, Yaakov Avinu slept and had his dream there, King David bought the land for full price, etc…, while  the Muslim have a "story" that Mohamed visited there and tied his horse to the Kotel.  How is it possible that all of our rights are denied based on a story?!  Rav Kamenetzky answered that it is measure-for-measure.  Since we ourselves are in doubt about the traditions of the Tanach and our Sages, Hashem shows us that even the nations of the world, the majority of whom believe in the Tanach, err in what even a nursery school child knows.  Divine Providence clearly shows us this fact.  Emet Le-Yaakov on Pirkei Avot p. 136 #131). 

Clapping During Davening
Q: What is the source for clapping during Davening?
A: There is no source, and if it disturbs other people it is forbidden (see Mishnah Berurah 101:6.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 582:9.  Mishnah Berurah #24).

Text Message Q&A
Q: From where did the innovation of the text message Q&A come?
A: There is no innovation.  People have always asked questions not only orally but also in letters.  The same concept applies to faxes, emails and text messages.

Murderous Driver
Q: What is the law regarding a driver who accidentally hit a pedestrian, fled without helping him and caused the pedestrian's death?

A: He is a double murderer.  

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #303

'Makom Kavua' (Fixed Place) at the Kotel
Q: If I Daven regularly in the same place at the Kotel, is it my 'Makom Kavua'?
A: Certainly not.  No one has ownership of the Kotel.  It belongs to Klal-Yisrael (Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv rules in the same way.  In the book "Mi-Pi Ish" p. 213).

Growing into a Torah Scholar
Q: How does one become a Torah scholar?  Is there a Bracha or Segula you can give me to ensure that this will happen?
A: Years of toiling in Torah learning (Ha-Rav Shmuel Ha-Levi Wozner, author of Shut Shevet Ha-Levi, was born into a modernish Orthodox family in Vienna and blossomed into one of the major Poskim of our time.  There is a famous story about his mother.  She had a beautiful voice and was invited by the famous national Opera of Vienna to perform.  This would have brought her fame and fortune, but one of the leading Rabbis told her it was forbidden to sing in front of men and/or a mixed audience.  He gave her a blessing that for overcoming this temptation she would merit a son who would illuminate the world.  Rav Wozner often spoke about growing in Torah learning but never mentioned this story.  He himself was not a gifted student at all, but by sheer desire, unending effort, and prayer he succeeded in becoming a great Posek.  Rav Wozner's son, Ha-Rav Avraham Eliyahu, Av Beit Din of the "Shevet Ha-Levi" community in the Brachfeld neighborhood of Modi'in Ilit, once said that his father never related this wondrous story.  When Rav Wozner was asked if it was true, he answered: "That's what they say".  Rav Wozner wanted to avoid the impression that simply by the merit of a Bracha one can blossom into a Torah giant.  This can only be accomplished through years of hard work and toil in Torah learning.  In the book "Ve-Lo Shevet Ha-Levi Bilvad" pp. 24-25).

Tefilat Ha-Derech in Airplane
Q: When should one recite Tefilat Ha-Derech when flying in an airplane?
A: After the ascent, since there is danger if – G-d-forbid – the airplane falls (Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.  Halichot Shlomo 21:4).

Ruling of Ha-Rav Against What is Written in His Book
Q: I asked a question and Ha-Rav answered differently than what is written in his book!
A: Rabbis sometimes do not want to include in their books rulings which could be relied on throughout the generations.  They therefore present the basic Halachah in their books, but might rule leniently when the Halachah allows, or strictly when need be when asked orally (For example, A. Regarding a Sefardi eating in a Kosher restaurant or catering hall where non-Jews cook the food.  While Ashkenazim rely on the Rama [Yoreh Deah 113:7] that as long as a Jew to lights the fire, gas or electricity, the non-Jew may place the pot or pan on it and it will not be considered "Bishul Akum" – food cooked by a non-Jew (which is forbidden), Sefardim follow the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch [ibid.] that it does not matter whether the fire is lit by a Jew or a non-Jew, the essence is that the Jew places the food on it.  In many Kosher restaurants or catering halls, the Mashgiach lights the fire and then the non-Jews cook.  Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef, however, finds a leniency and writes that a regular employee has the same leniency as a servant.  Today we do not have servants as laid out by the Torah, but when there were non-Jewish servants, it was permissible for them to cook.  Non-Jewish workers are not servants in the legal sense, but the Rama [ibid. 4] says that our permanent workers have the same ruling as servants.  Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef says that we have a case of a double-doubt.  Regarding each individual Halachah, Sefardim do not rule this way, but there are two doubts here: perhaps the Halachah follows the opinion that a Jew lighting the fire is enough, and perhaps the permanent, non-Jewish workers do have the status of servants.  It is thus possible for a Sefardi to be lenient.  Shut Yechaveh Da'at 5:54.    But when someone asked Rav Ovadiah this question orally, he would rule that preferably one should be strict and refrain from eating there.  Yalkut Yosef – Isur Ve-Heter Vol. 2 p. 158. 
B. The Chazon Ish rules in his book that it is forbidden to eat the bread of someone who violates Shabbat, but he would answer those who asked him orally that it is permissible to rely on the lenient opinion of the Tiferet Moshe.  Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 1:470.

C. In Shut Az Nidberu 2:69, Ha-Rav Binyamin Zilber writes that the Chazon Ish would answer orally that one should not eat sardines imported from outside of Israel because of Bishul Akum, but since the Chazon Ish did not forbid it in his book, it may be concluded that he did not hold that it was completely forbidden.  Brought in Shulchan Melachim Volume 2 p. 1083).   

Video Dvar Torah - Parashat Noach

Video Dvar Torah:

Parashat Noach: The Mitzvah of "Be Fruitful and Multiply"

In last week's Parashah – Parashat Bereshit – Hashem commands Adam: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Bereshit 1:28).  This Mitzvah appears again in our Parashah: "And G-d blessed Noach and his sons, and said to them: Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth" (Bereshit 9:1). Our Rabbis in Gemara Yevamot (65b) say that women are exempt from the Mitzvah of "Be Fruitful and Multiply".  Yet how can a man have children alone?  Nonetheless, this Mitzvah was given only to men and not to women.  Why?
Rabbi Meir Simchah of Dvinsk explains in the Mesech Chochma (Bereshit 9:7) that women are not obligated in this Mitzvah because pregnancy is sometimes quite difficult, childbirth is difficult, and taking care of a baby is difficult, and the Torah does not force someone to do something which may be beyond his ability. 
But if Hashem does not command women to have children, how will children come into the world?  Through the desire for children that Hashem planted within women, as we see with Rachel: "Give me children or I will die" (Bereshit 30a).  A woman has children because of her desire to do so.  There is a balance between the desire and the difficulties, and a woman navigates between them. 

Therefore, when people asked Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah the halachic question: "How many children is one obligated to have after the basic obligation of having a boy and a girl?", he provided the guiding principle: have the most children possible based on one's ability – one's physical ability, one's emotion ability, and one's financial ability.

Questions during the Wave of Terror

Time of Distress
Q: Should we add Avinu Malkeinu into our prayers since it is a time of distress?
A: It is not a time of distress but rather a time of war.  When we were in Exile and Jews were being killed, that was a time of distress.  But now is a time of war, and people are killed in war.  There is no Divine promise anywhere in the Torah that people will not fall in war.  On the contrary, in King David's army, the soldiers wrote Gittin - divorce documents - for their wives in case they were killed in action but their bodies were not found (Shabbat 56a. Ketubot 9a).   And when Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah was asked about fallen soldiers during the Yom Kippur War, when perhaps a hundred-fold more soldiers fell, he responded: Where is your contract?!  Where is the contract that Hashem signed for you that we would not be killed in war?!  This can be compared to one who purchases an apartment for half a million Shekels.  Do we say it is a time of distress?   He is out half a million Shekels!   When we wage war, when we destroy our enemy and when we build our Nation's security, the price we pay is the lives of some of our citizens and soldiers.  Everything in the world has a price.  This time is not defined as a "time of distress for Yaakov" but a "time of salvation for Yaakov"!  When our enemies attack, we hit back one-thousand-fold.

Terror Attacks
Q: What should we do on account of all the recent terror attacks?
A: It is a sign that we have yet to arrive at the Complete Redemption and we should continue to build our Land with courage and strengthen.

Q: How does one overcome his fear during this time?
A: Emunah in Hashem.

Terrorists – in the Image of G-d?
Q: How is it possible that terrorists are so evil and inhumane?  After all, they were created in the image of G-d.
A: Correct.  But they still have an evil inclination.  The animal within man, in the words of the Ba'al Ha-Tanya.  And already in the beginning, Kayin murdered Hevel.

Harm Will not Befall One on the Way to Perform a Mitzvah
Q: How could Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi, may Hashem avenge his blood, have been murdered in the Old City by a terrorist when the Gemara states, "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah"?  He went to save Jews.
A: See the Gemara in Pesachim 8b.  "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah" is said in regard to an infrequent danger.  The example given there is one who is checking for Chametz and perhaps should check under rocks.  But, he should not check because there might be snakes or scorpions under the rocks.  The Gemara asks – how so?  Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah!  Answer: This is a frequent occurrence (snakes and scorpions under rocks) and there is therefore a chance that he might be harmed.  Another example: A person has a joint wall with a non-Jewish neighbor.  Perhaps he should stick his fingers into the cracks in the wall to search for Chametz.  But, he should not check, because the neighbor may accuse him of witchcraft and cause him terrible problems.   The Gemara asks – how so?  Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah.  Answer: This is an evil neighbor and it is considered a frequent occurrence.  Thus, we do not apply this principle when there is a frequent occurrence.  The Gemara states that the proof for this idea is found in the Book of Shmuel (1 chap. 16) when Hashem tells the prophet Shmuel to anoint David as king.  "And Shmuel said: How can I go?  If Shaul hears he will kill me?"  (verse 2).  Hashem said: Tell him that you are going to offer a sacrifice in order that he will not be suspicious.  The Gemara asks: But he was going to perform a Mitzvah directly told to him by Hashem and "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah" (see Rashi)?  Answer: When there is a frequent danger, even those performing a mitzvah can be harmed.  This is discussed at length in the book "Mesillat Yesharim" at the end of chapter 9.  It is obvious that if one enters into the middle of a terrorist attack it is considered a frequent occurrence and even someone performing the holy Mitzvah of saving Jews, like Ha-rav Nechemia Lavi, can be harmed.  The same question can obviously be asked about Tzahal soldiers who are killed or wounded.

Traveling in Yehudah and Shomron
Q: I am 24 years old and my parents do not want me to travel to Yehudah and Shomron to spend Shabbat.  What should I do?
A: Travel, but calm their fears.

Cell Phone on Shabbat
Q: On account of the security situation, is it permissible to carry a cell phone on Shabbat?
A: No.  Only someone who has a job which requires it, such as an army officer, police officer, doctor, first responder, etc..  It is an exaggerated fear.  We should strengthen our Emunah in Hashem.  

When your Enemy Falls, Do Not Rejoice
Q: Does the verse "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice" (Mishlei 24:17) apply to evil terrorists who are killed?

A: No.  The verse "When the wicked perish, there is joy" (Mishlei 11:10) applies to them.  And the Talmud in Megillah (16a) relates that when Mordechai was led around on the horse by Haman, he did not treat him exceedingly mercifully. When Haman questioned him: Doesn’t the verse say, "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice"? Mordechai responded: This does not refer to you.

Video Dvar Torah - Parashat Bereshit: What is a Help-Mate?

Shabbat Shalom from the Heart of Yerushalayim
Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim

Rav Aviner's Eulogy at the Funeral of Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi ztz"l

Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi, May the Memory of the Holy be Blessed
On Motzaei Shabbat Chol Ha-Moed Sukkot, the children of Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi heard the screams of Jews and ran to their window on Ha-Gai Street in the Old City of Yerushalayim.  They saw an Arab attacking Jews.  They yelled to their father, Rav Nechemia, and he immediately ran down, armed with a pistol, in order to save them.  His wife also ran down.  Rav Nechemia was stabbed by the terrorist, who then grabbed his weapon and began shooting.  He shot toward the police who arrived on the scene, but was shot and killed by them.
Rav Nechemia was murdered, sanctifying Hashem's Name, a soldier without a uniform.  

Rav Aviner's Eulogy at the Funeral of
Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi ztz"l

 With the permission of the Chief Rabbi and other Rabbis, with the permission of the President of the State of Israel and other dignitaries of the Nation, with the permission of the beloved family and with the permission of the holy gathering.
Our Sages gave a parable of a father and son who were walking on an exhausting journey.  The son, who had no more energy, asked his father: When will we arrive to the country?  His father said to him: This will be the sign for you: when you see a cemetery, the country is close by.
In this world, we do not receive anything for free.  There is no clod of earth in Eretz Yisrael that is not saturated with blood.
Ha-Rav Nechemia is the fourth one from our Yeshiva who has fallen for the settlement of the heart of Yerushalayim.
Baruch Hashem, our country is here.  This State is the revival of the Nation in its Land according to its Torah.
Rav Nechemia was in love with Torah.  Day and night, he learned, taught, delved into and fulfilled the Torah.  It is possible to put a Sefer Torah next to him and say, as is written in the Gemara Baba Kama (17a): This one fulfilled what is written in this one.  In his actions, and in his exceptional character traits.
He was in love with Eretz Yisrael.  He was overjoyed to live in the heart of Yerushalayim, in a difficult area.
He was in love with Am Yisrael.
Our Rabbis teach (Yevamot 50a) that each person has a set amount of time to live.  The Master of the Universe decides how long this will be, and the person will live not one more day, not one more hour, not one more minute.  One who is a transgressor may be killed by a lack of caution.  One who is mediocre dies from an illness.  And one whom Hashem desires to honor dies sanctifying Hashem's Name, while protecting the Nation and the Land.
Rav Nechemia was in love with the army.  He fell as a soldier without a uniform.  We are all soldiers with uniforms.  He was certainly a soldier without a uniform.
You were exceedingly pleasing to me, my dear friend, Ha-Rav Nechemia.
We promise you, we will continue to learn Torah in the heart of Yerushalayim. Nothing will frighten us.  Nothing.  We are stronger than them, we are inestimably stronger.  We will continue to build our Land and be built within it, with the wonders of Hashem on His Nation and His Land.

And the Master of the Universe who brought this upon, He will also give strength to Ha-Rabbanit Neta, who is with him in this holy endeavor, and to the children, who are also part of this holy labor.  Hashem give them strength to be comforted, to strengthen themselves and to continue onward until the complete Redemption.  

In Our Name and n the Name of Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi: This Time We Will Also Overcome

with profound grief we mourn
Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi HY"D
Ra"m in our Yeshiva, Ateret Yerushalayim
who was murdered in the heart of the Old City of Yerushalayim
while attempting to stop a terrorist attack

In our Name and In the Name of Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi:
This Time We Will Also Overcome

During the joy of the holiday of Sukkot, tragedy has struck: Thursday night, young parents, Ha-Rav Eitam and Na'ama Henkin, were murdered before their children's eyes.  Good and righteous people.  And on Motzaei Shabbat, good people were again murdered as they walked innocently in the Old City.  One of them is Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi, Ra"m in our Yeshiva, Ateret Yerushalayim.  A man with a gentle soul, a sweet and good man, who never wronged another person – whether Jew or Arab.
The Midrash relates that before his death, King Darius requested: Do not mourn me until a person comes and speaks ill of me. And no one came.  Likewise, we can say with confidence, that although there will be much pain over his death, no one will come and speak ill of Rav Nechemia.
Rav Nechemia was an exalted person, girded with Midot Tovot (sterling character traits). He was completely kind. A person who never spoke ill of others.  He was a person who delved into the depths of Torah, who learned Torah day and night, out of a love of Hashem and a love of toiling in Torah learning.
To our great distress, we must acknowledge that these difficult events, these tragedies, are not surprising.  Since the appearance of Islam, Muslims have persecuted us, hated us, forced us to convert to Islam, expelled us and murdered us.  Although they have done so less than Christians, this is of no comfort.  We all remember how the Mufti of Yerushalayim, Haj Amin al-Husseini worked hand-in-hand with Hitler and cooperated with him, on condition that in the Arab countries, Arabs could freely murder Jews.
Nothing has changed, except for one thing: With the kindness of Hashem, we now have an army, a courageous army, a capable army, a devoted army.  An agent of Hashem.  Not a conquering army – but as its name indicates: The Israel Defense Force.
It is true that since the beginning of the return to Zion and the establishment of the State of Israel, we have endured many tragedies.  But we must view things in proportion: The light is inestimably greater than the darkness.  Obviously, the pain of every Jew who is murdered rends the heart, and all the more so if that person is your close friend, someone who has been close to your soul for so many years.   
At the same time, this does not erase our joy for all of the goodness we have received.  After all, terror does not have any actual power.  It cannot determine political events. It is purely psychological warfare whose goal is to break the spirit, and weaken the citizens' trust in the State, its leaders and its army.

We declare here in our name and in the name of Ha-Rav Nechemia Lavi, who has arisen on high, that we go hand-in-hand with our Nation, with our State and with our army.  We have experienced much greater hardships and we have overcome them, and with the help of Hashem, this time we will also overcome.