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.
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.