Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #336

Q: Is it permissible to work for a website which involves casino gambling?
A: No.  1. Gambling is forbidden.  2. It is taking advantage of poor people and people who are addicted to gambling.

Time of Zecher Le-Churban
Q: Baruch Hashem, we built in a house in the community of Neriya!  When does one have to make the Zecher Le-Churban (part of the wall left undone as a remembrance of the destruction of the Beit Ha-Mikdash) when moving into a new house?
A: One is certainly obligated to make a Zecher Le-Churban.  The Halachah however does not say that it is forbidden to live in a house which does not have a Zecher Le-Churban, although the person is lacking the fulfillment of a Positive Mitzvah.  Regarding a Mezuzah, there is an opinion in the Rishonim that it is permissible to live in a house without a Mezuzah, but the basic Halachah is that it is forbidden to do so.  This is not the case, however, for a Zecher Le-Churban.  But obviously, we have a general principle: "The diligent fulfill Mitzvot as early as possible" (Zerizim Makdimim Le-Mitzvot). 

Musical Instruments during Davening
Q: Is it permissible to play instruments during Hallel?
A: It is forbidden on account of "Chukat Ha-Goyim - following the non-Jewish practices" (Shut Chatam Yoreh Deah #84-96, Choshen Mishpat #192.  Kaf Ha-Chaim, Orach Chaim 151:19.  Shut Minchat Yitzchak 5:96).

Jewish Star
Q: We were told that one should place a Jewish star (Magen David) in his house as protection.  Is this true?
A: No.  There is no source in Judaism for the Jewish star, though it is obviously a beloved symbol.

Mashiach's Kippa
Q: What type of Kippa will the Mashiach wear: knit, black velvet, etc.?
A: We do not know what will happen in times of Mashiach until they happen.  Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 12:2.

Demographic Problem in Yesha
Q: What does one answer to those who claim that we should leave Yesha on account of the Arab population's higher birthrate than that of the Jewish population?
A: 1. It is a Mitzvah to settle of the entire Land of Israel and Hashem already thought of this issue when He commanded us to do so.  2. If we were originally concerned about this issue, we would not have established the State of Israel.  3. It is a lie.  The birthrate among Arabs in Yesha is 2.8 children per family and is decreasing, while the Jewish birthrate is 5.1 children per family and is increasing.  It is true that 20 years ago the birthrate in Yesha was 6.0 for Arabs and 2.5 for Jews.  Baruch Hashem, the Mitzvah of "Be fruitful and multiply" is being fulfilled by us.  

Hashem is the King
Q: There is a sticker which says "Hashem is the King".  Is this a proper way to publicize the Kingship of Hashem?
A: 1. Throughout the generations, our great Rabbis did not use this method.  2. Faith is deep and not a sticker.  By the way, one must cover such a sticker when one enters a bathroom.

Bringing the Torah to People to Kiss
Q: Is it permissible to bring the Sefer Torah in the Shul towards people who want to kiss it?
A: No.  This is a disgrace to the Sefer Torah.  They should approach the Sefer Torah.  Piskei Teshuvot 134:6.

Q: Will Anti-Semitism ever end?
A: The Rambam explains in Igeret Teiman that the reason for Anti-Semitism is opposition to the word of Hashem.  Therefore, when humanity is in love with Hashem, Anti-Semitism will cease.

Talit Switching
Q: I accidentally switched my Talit with my friend's, and have been unable to get in touch with him.  It is permissible for me to use his Talit?
A: Yes.  Since he will also use yours.  Piskei Teshuvot 14:11.

Questions in Emunah
Q: If someone has questions in Emunah, does this mean that his faith is somehow lacking?

A: No.  His faith is simple, which is a very high level of faith.  If he has questions, however, he should learn books having to do with Emunah.  See Midot Re'eiyah, Emunah #18.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #335

Mother's Milk
Q: How is mother's milk permissible when we have a general principle that anything which comes from a non-Kosher animal is non-Kosher?
A: Since the Torah mentions that people nursed, it is a sign that it is Kosher.  And if it were only permissible in a life-threatening situation, the Torah would mention that it is permissible only in such a case.  By the way, the Torah does not explicitly mention that it is forbidden to eat a human being.  While it is obviously forbidden to do so, there is a discussion among the Poskim as to the source of the prohibition (See Rambam, Hilchot Machalot Asurot 2:3, 3:4.  Ra'avad ibid.  Rosh, Ketuvot 5:19.  Rama, Yoreh Deah 79:1).

Free Choice for Animals
Q: Do animals have free choice?
A: Not to any significant degree.  Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah Volume 1, p. 104.

Q: I am very shy and cannot give a Torah class.  What should I do?
A: Prepare the class in written form and read it.

Immersing a Utensil to be Given as a Gift
Q: Is it true that one may not immerse a utensil which is to be given as a gift?
A: Correct.  The majority of Poskim rule this way, since the utensil is not yet designated for a meal but rather for another person, i.e. a gift (Tevilat Kelim pp. 87-88).  There are those, however, who rule that it is permissible to immerse it without a blessing when one is giving the utensil to someone who will not immerse it (Taharat Kelim p. 120).  And some recommend that one grants ownership of the utensil to the receiver before giving it to him and then immerses it.  Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, however, does not agree with this recommendation (Tevilat Kelim pp. 239-242).  And others recommend immersing the utensil and then using it for a short time before giving it as a gift.  This, however, is not always possible.

Shidduch with One who Visits the Temple Mount
Q: Should I cancel a Shidduch with someone who visits the Temple Mount?
A: No.  A person is judged by the majority of his actions.  Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:1).

Arabs from Jewish Descent
Q: How should we relate to a study that 65% of Arabs of the Galilee are from Jewish descent?
A: The study does not have a solid scientific basis.  Its purpose was political, in order to convince us to give up portions of Eretz Yisrael.  Scientific studies cannot, in any case, serve as halachic proofs. 

Gifts for a Teacher
Q: I am a teacher.  Parents sometimes bring me gifts.  Is it permissible to accept them?
A: It is not good.  The gift should be a joint one from all of the parents. 

Netilat Yadayim for First Responder
Q: If I am on call as a first responder, and receive a call in the middle of the night while I am sleeping, am I exempt from Netilat Yadayim, since every second is important?

A: It does not seem so, since you get dressed and do not go in your pajamas.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #334

Q: Is cremation permissible according to the Torah?
A: Certainly not.  There is a positive Torah Mitzvah to bury the deceased.  It is an honor for the deceased, an honor for the living and an honor for the soul (in the book Gesher Ha-Chaim [Volume 1 16:9], Ha-Rav Yechiel Michal Tukachinsky writes that it is a severe prohibition to cremate a body, since one nullifies a positive Torah Mitzvah with his hands, and causes a great calamity to the deceased.  Gedolei Yisrael therefore agree that the ashes of one who is cremated are not to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.  Other Rabbis explain, however, that while cremation is absolutely forbidden, it is nonetheless permissible to bury the ashes in a Jewish cemetery.  Shut Seredei Aish 2:123-124.  Shut Melamed Le-Hoil 2:113-114.  And in Shut Chelkat [2:4], Ha- Rav Mordechai Yaakov Bereish, Av Beit Din of Zurich, writes that it is preferable to be buried in a non-Jewish cemetery than to be cremated!).    

"Ve-Hu Rachum"
Q: Many times at the beginning of Maariv, people who are there to Daven say "Ve-Hu Rachum" to encourage the Shalaich Tzibur to begin.  Is there a problem with this?
A: Yes, since it is the Shaliach Tzibur's role to begin (And Ha-Rav Moshe Aryeh Freund, Av Beit Din of the Edah Ha-Charedit in Yerushalayim, once got up to serve as Shaliach Tzibur on Motzaei Shabbat, and one of the Daveners loudly began "Ve-Hu Rachum".  Ha-Rav Freund turned to him and said that the Shalaich Tzibur begins this line.  Mara De-Shematata p. 50).

Kidney Donation by a Cohain
Q: I am a Cohain and want to donate a kidney.  Is the lack of a kidney considered a blemish for which I would not be able to say Birkat Cohanim?
A: No, since it is hidden, i.e. internal.

Loving Your Fellow Jew as Yourself
Q: How can I reach the level of loving my fellow Jew as myself?
A: Through intellect, i.e. thinking about the positives of that person, despite his deficiencies.

Kashrut at a Wedding
Q: I am invited to a wedding under the Kashrut supervision of the Israeli Rabbinate.  The host told me that they could order us a Mehadrin meal, but the other guests sitting with us will see the difference in the meals.  What should we do?
A: Eat like everyone else, since the food is Kosher, and you should not separate yourself (And this how Ha-Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld and Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach acted.  They would eat foods at a Simcha that they were strict not to eat in their home, as it says in the Book of Tehillim [101:2], "I walk with wholeness of heart within the confines of my house" - in the confines of my house I am strict, with other people I am not.  Ve-Alehu Lo Yibol Volume 2, p. 66-67.  See Shut Pe'at Shadecha 1:66 which also mentions how Rav Zonnenfeld acted in this way).

Smoking Before Davening
Q: Is it forbidden to smoke before Davening just as it is forbidden to eat and drink?
A: Yes.  Piskei Teshuvot 89:17.  And, in any event, smoking is forbidden (See Piskei Shlomo Volume 4 on smoking). 

Gemera Fell on Floor
Q: While cleaning, my entire set of Gemara fell on the floor and my Kiddush cup broke.  What should I do?

A: Pick up the Gemara and kiss it.  If you are troubled about it, give Tzedakah.