Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #332

Cell Phone on Shabbat
Q: I have a relative who is a Holocaust survivor and on Shabbat she was telling me what she went through.  Suddenly, she pulled out a cell phone and showed me a picture.  Did I commit a transgression?
A: No.  This is considered a benefit that comes to a person against his will.  Pesachim 25b.

Exercising on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible for me to exercise on Shabbat if it saves me from depression and lying in bed the entire day?
A: Certainly.

Aliyah or More Religious
Q: Which is preferable - to make Aliyah or to be more religious outside of Israel?
A: Good question, but in the long run, the Exile is spiritually dangerous.

Comparing Jews to Nazis
Q: A high-ranking Tzahal officer compared Jews to Nazis.  How should we relate to this?
A: This is what is called "Godwin's Law". If a discussion goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone else to Hitler.  This obviously causes the entire value of the discussion to be lost (see "Godwin's Law" in Wikipedia).

Protection for a Mourner
Q: If a mourner needs to walk in the street, does he require an escort?
A: If there are other Jews in the street, he does not require an escort.  A bride and groom require an escort since they are similar to a queen and king.  A mourner, however, requires an escort so he will not be alone, and if others are in the street, he will not be alone.  See Piskei Teshuvot 239:11 (When Rav Aviner was sitting Shiva for his mother z"l, he came to the Yeshiva one morning so that the students could pay a Shiva call without having to travel far and thus missing Torah learning.  He told me that when he walked through the Kotel Plaza, he did not require an escort, but when he walked through the so-called Muslim Quarter he would need one).

Error in Number of Loops on Tzitzit
Q: Does an error in the number of loops on Tzitzit make them invalid?
A: No.

Babylonian Talmud
Q: Why do we learn the Babylonian Talmud which is from the Exile and not the Jerusalem Talmud, which is a product of Eretz Yisrael?
A: 1. The Babylonian Talmud is written extensively and there are many commentaries on it, while the Jerusalem Talmud is written briefly and has merited few commentaries.  2. The Babylonian Talmud is not exilic.  It is an expansion of the Mishnah, which is a product of Eretz Yisrael.

Army in the Time of Mashiach
Q: Will there be an army during the time of the Mashiach?
A: Yes.  The Mashiach will wage great wars.  See Rambam, Hilchot Melachim Chapters 11-12.
Q: But it is written: "Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears" (Yoel 3:10)?
A: That will occur much later.  See Rambam, ibid.

Dulling of the Heart to Save One's Life
Q: If someone is obligated to eat non-Kosher food because he is in a life-threatening situation, does the food cause him "dulling of the heart" (dulling of one's spiritual sense, "Timtum Ha-Lev")?

A: No. Maran Ha-Rav Kook writes in his book "Musar Avicha" (p. 19) that the dulling of one's heart comes from violating a prohibition and not from the food itself (Yoma 39a.  And see Meharsha on Shabbat 33a).  Therefore, someone who eats non-Kosher food which is permitted to him, does not experience a "dulling of the heart" (Ha-Griz Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav, also holds this way.  Uvdot Ve-Hanhagot Mei-Beit Brisk Volume 2, p. 50.  As well as Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski in his book "Orchot Yosher" #13).