Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim
Torah from Zion Project

English Books of
Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shlit"a

Our First Book in the Series
Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Volume 1
[Revised addition]

More than 200 on an average day, 500 per day before a holiday, and 800 per day during times of war…  This is the number of text message questions received by Rav Aviner.  A window into a new genre of Q&A, borne of modern technology but firmly rooted in traditional rabbinic response.

Price: $25 or 80 NIS (shipping included)
To order: 02-628-4101

Short &Sweet - Text Message Q&A #323

Illegal Building
Q: Is it permissible to build houses illegally in Israel?  What is of higher value: the settling of Eretz Yisrael or the law of the State of Israel?
A: We do not perform a Mitzvah through a transgression.

Israeli Embassy Outside of Israel
Q: What is the halachic status of an Israeli embassy in a foreign country?
A: According to international law, it is considered the territory of the State of Israel, but according to the Halachah, it is foreign soil.  And the opposite it also correct: a foreign embassy in Eretz Yisrael is Eretz Yisrael.

Blessings by Rabbis
Q: Which is preferable – going to Rabbis to receive blessings or going to Shul to receive Birkat Cohanim?
A: Birkat Cohanim, since it is not a blessing from Cohanim but a blessing from Hashem (And Ha-Rav Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman expressed surprise that people travel great distances to receive a blessing from a Rabbi instead of running to Shul to receive Birkat Cohanim.  Be-Orchotecha Lamdeni p. 38). 

Informing Others of the Police on Waze
Q: Is it permissible on Waze to inform others that there is a police trap?
A: It is certainly permissible since it immediately causes people to drive in a more cautious manner in that area, and this is what the police are interested in.

Electric Hand Dryer
Q: If one washes Netilat Yadayim before a meal, is it permissible to dry his hands with an electric hand dryer and then recite the blessing?
A: Yes, just as one may dry his hand in the sun.  Pri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav #13.  This ruling is also found in Shut Revivot Efraim 2:68 #4 and Sha'arim Metuyanim Ba-Halachah, Kuntres Acharon 40:5).

Sefer Torah which Fell
Q: When we opened the Aron Ha-Kodesh, the Sefer Torah fell out.  We then fasted.  How else do we do Teshuvah?
A: Maran Ha-Rav Kook said in Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah (Volume 1, Igeret #10) that you should make sure that the Torah is secure in the Aron Ha-Kodesh so the Sefer Torah does not fall (Similarly, a 4-year old child once fell out of a window and a miracle occurred and she only had minor injuries.  The parents asked Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach what they should do as a "Tikun" (spiritual repair) to repent for the occurrence.  He said: Put bars on your windows!  Another time, a father was drinking a hot drink while holding a child, and it slipped on the child and she was badly burnt.  The parents asked Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman what they should do as a "Tikun".  He answered: Do not drink hot drinks while holding a child!  In the book "Ve-Alehu Lo Yibol" Volume 3, pp. 163-164).    

Tzedakah of a Child
Q: If my parents give me spending money, do I need to give Maaser?
A: Only if they agree.

Eretz Yisrael Vomiting Out Sinners
Q: When the Torah writes that Eretz Yisrael vomits out sinners (Vayikra 18:25, 28), does it refer to individuals or only to Klal Yisrael?
A: It also refers to individuals.  And if they appear as sinners and are nonetheless not vomited out, it is a sign that inside they are good.  Chesed Le-Avraham (Ma'ayan Shelishi, Ein Ha-Aretz, Nahar 12).  And see Sefer Orot p. 84 (And see at length in Shut Eretz Yisrael pp. 270-277).

Switching the Parochet
Q: Someone donated a Parochet for the Aron Ha-Kodesh in Shul. Is it permissible to take down the old one and put up the new one?

A: Yes, since a donor knows that one day someone will donate a new Parochet.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #322

24 Spies
Q: Is there an opinion that there were 24 spies that went to Eretz Yisrael and not 12?
A: Yes.  Rabbi Akiva in the Talmud Yerushalmi, quoted in the Tosafot on Sotah 34b: each spy and his assistant.

Q: Is anger a transgression or a bad character trait?
A: A transgression, but one can do Teshuvah.  See Mesilat Yesharim, Chapter 11.

Learning Torah and Working
Q: Which is preferable – learning Torah all day or working and learning a little Torah every day?
A: We need both types of people in Am Yisrael.  Each person according to his soul.  The way of the majority is to work and set times to learn Torah each day.  The way of the minority is to learn all day.  Berachot 35b.

The Height of a Shul
Q: Why aren't we particular today to follow the Halachah that a Shul is supposed to be the tallest building in a city (Shulchan Aruch 150:2)?
A: The Magen Avraham (ibid.) already asks this question.  A few different answers are given.  For example, the tallest buildings today are not for beauty but for housing people, whereas Shuls are built in a beautiful fashion.  See Piskei Teshuvot 150:7 (It is told in the name of the Chazon Ish that the city of Bnei Brak is saved from attacks by the fact that the Ponevitch and Slabodka Yeshivot are the tallest buildings in the city.  In the book "Ratzon Tzadik" it is related in the name of the Satmar Rebbe that when they built the main Shul/Beit Midrash in Kiryas Yoel in New York, they asked him if the main Shul needs to be the tallest building in the city.  The elderly Chasidim told him that it was difficult for them to walk up the hill and would refrain from coming to the Shul/Beit Midrash.  The Satmar Rebbe sent the question to Ha-Rav Getzel Berkowitz, the Dayan of Kiryas Yoel and author of Shut Elgei Devash.  He answered that the Yavetz writes in his book "Mor U-Ketziah" that one should be lenient since it is impossible for everyone to ascend to the top of the mountain.  This is also the opinion of the Chida in Machazik Beracha.  Furthermore, the Meiri holds that if the city's tall houses and towers were not built to display authority there is no need to be particular that the Shul be on the top of the mountain.  Rather, the Shul should be the largest building in the city.  Based on these sources, the Satmar Rebbe ruled that the Shul/Beit Midrash be built elsewhere and that it be the largest building in the city.  Also brought in the book "Be-Didi Hevei Uvda" p. 546).        

Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim for Fish
Q: Does the prohibition of "Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim" (causing pain to animals) apply to fish?
A: Yes.  Shut Mishneh Halachot 6:216).

Rabin's Murder
Q: My friends were arguing whether it was permissible to murder Yitzchak Rabin.  What is Ha-Rav's opinion?
A: It says in the 10 Commandments: Do not murder!  Our Sages discuss whether it is proper to recite the 10 Commandments every day and they concluded that one should refrain from doing so (Berachot 12a).  But in your case, it is a good idea.

Tachanun on One's Birthday
Q: Should one refrain from reciting Tachanun on his birthday since it is a happy day?
A: It should be recited.  One's birthday should be a day of Teshuvah.

Volunteering in Tzahal
Q: I am exempt from having to serve in Tzahal and am learning in Yeshiva.  Should I volunteer to serve?

A: Certainly.  It is a Mitzvah which cannot be performed by other (Moed Katan 9a-b).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #321

Davening on an Airplane
Q:  Is it permissible to Daven with a Minyan on an airplane, or should each person Daven on their own in order not to disturb others?
A: It is permissible to Daven with a Minyan on condition that one coordinates it with the head of the airplane crew (Many Poskim write that it is forbidden to Daven with a Minyan if it disturbs others.  Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach [Halichot Shlomo p. 95.  Shut She'eirit Yosef of Ha-Rav Shlomo Wahrman 7:3], Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein [Shut Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:20] and Ha-Rav Ovadiah would Daven on his own and not together with a group so as not to disturb others, for fear of robbing another person's sleep. [Halachic Guide for the Passengers of El Al 9:1].  However, when Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg was asked about Davening with a Minyan on an airplane, he said one should, adding that he does it all the time.  While strictly speaking it might be permitted to pray at your seat, Rav Scheinberg prefers that one pray with a Minyan, but quietly in a way that doesn't disturb others).
Q: If I Daven in my seat, am I obligated to wear a Talit?  It is difficult to wrap it.
A: Yes, you are obligated to wear it.  Be careful, however, not to smack other passengers with your Tzitzit when putting it on.
Q: If I am Davening on my own, is it preferable to Daven Shemoneh Esrei while sitting or standing?
A: Standing, under three conditions: 1. It does not ruin your concentration.  2. Your eyes are not facing something which is immodest.  3. The "Fasten Your Seat Belt" sign is not on.
Q: If one is in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei and the "Fasten Your Seat Belt" sign lights up what should one do?

A: He should sit down and continue to Daven the Shemoneh Esrei in his seat. This is based on two reasons: 1. It is a case of a life-threatening situation. 2. Walking in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei without speaking is not considered an interruption. For example, if one is Davening the Shemoneh Esrei and a child is bothering him and he cannot concentrate, he can move to another place. Or if he is Davening by heart on Rosh Chodesh and cannot remember "Ya'ale Ve-Yavo," he can go and get a Siddur. Speaking is forbidden, but there is no problem of moving if there is a need (see Mishneh Berurah 104:2.  Piskei Teshuvot ibid. Shut Be'er Moshe 3:13.  Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein answers similarly since if one does not obey, there is a fear of perform a Mitzvah through a transgression and as a result, one does not fulfill his obligation.  Furthermore, it causes contempt for the Torah as well as a desecaration of Hashem's name.  The booklet of El Al regarding Halachot of air travel).