Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #340

Aristotle's Letter to Alexander the Great
Q: I saw a letter which Aristotle sent to Alexander the Great in which he regrets his learning and says that rather than learning philosophy, which is nonsense, it is preferable to learn Torah.  How do we relate to this letter?
A: There is no proof of authenticity. 

Picture of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah on the Cover of Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah
Q: Why was the picture of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah removed from the new edition of Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah?
A: Because the essence is the content.  For example, there is no picture of the Rambam on a Rambam… (In his eulogy for the Admor of Tosh, Ha-Rav Shlomo Yunger, Dayan of Chasidei Tosh in Kiryat Yoel, related that one of the Chasidim of Ha-Admor R' Yudale of Dizikov once brought him a picture of his grandfather, Ha-Admor Ahavat Yisrael of Viznitz, and wanted to give it to him since he knew how much he was connected to his grandfather.  When he showed him the picture, R' Yudale got upset and yelled that this was not a picture of his grandfather!  He went over to the bookshelf and took out the book Chovot Ha-Levavot and opened it up to the chapter on Perishut (abstention from improper practices), and said to him: This is a picture of my holy grandfather! (Zechor Na, p. 61).

Food Facing the Holy of Holies
Q: People place water and candies in the prayer area facing the Holy of Holies in the Kotel Tunnels and say that it is a Segulah for good health.  Is this true?
A: Certainly not.  One should repent, pray and give Tzedakah.

Braille in Geniza
Q: Do Sifrei Kodesh written in Braille require being placed in a Geniza?
A: No.  This is not the type of script the Torah was discussing.  There are Poskim, however, who do require them to be placed in a Geniza, since this is a type of lettering which many people consider to be a script (Ginzei Kodesh 10:3 #19 in the name of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv).  But the basis Halachah is that one can be lenient.

Putting on Talit and Tefillin at Home
Q: Is one obligated to put on Talit and Tefillin at home and go to Shul while wearing them?
A: It is a great practice.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 25:2.  But if it is major difficulty, one is not obligated to do so.  And some put them on in the courtyard or lobby of the Shul.  See Piskei Teshuvot 25:6 (The Mishnah Berurah [25:10] in the name of the Magen Avraham [#5], however, writes that in a place where there are non-Jews in the street one should put on the Talit and Tefillin in the Shul courtyard if possible.  In the book "Be-Mechitzat Rabbenu" p. 82, it is related that Ha-Rav Yaakov Kamentzky, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Ve-Da'at in Brooklyn, was unhappy about people in America walking to Shul in their Talit.  He said that we must remember that we are still in the Exile among the non-Jews and we should not walk in the street as if we own the place.  It seems that during the course of the Exile, we became accustomed not to follow this practice and continued in this way even on our return to Eretz Yisrael.  The book "Chiko Mamtakim" Volume 2 [p. 334] relates that in his later years, Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was on his way to the Shul "Kehal Chasidim" in the Sha'arei Chesed neighborhood in Jerusalem, where he lived, and saw a poster that advocated reinstituting the ancient custom of going to Shul wearing Talit and Tefillin.  Many people walked past the sign without any recognition that the announcement was intended for them.  The next day, the residents of the neighborhood were surprised to see Ha-Rav Auerbach walking through Sha'arei Chesed on his way to Shul wearing Talit and Tefillin.  He continued this practice until his passing).

Signaling to a Person Driving on Shabbat to Turn on His Lights
Q: Is it permissible to signal to a person driving on Shabbat that his lights are off?
A: Yes, since it is a potentially life-threatening situation.  And even if he is within a city, where there are lights, it is permissible since perhaps he will leave the city.

Ashkenazim Naming after Living Grandfather
Q: According to the custom of Ashekenzim, is it forbidden to name a child after a living grandfather or is it just customary to refrain from doing so?
A: It is customary to refrain from doing so.  There were Tzadikim, however, such as the Noam Elimelech, who asked their children to name their children after them while they were still living (In Shut Minchat Eleazar [4:27 at the end], the Admor of Munkatch relates that the Noam Elimelech asked his niece to name her son "Elimelech" after him [her son became the famous Bnei Yissaschar and the great-great grandfather of the Admor of Munkatch].  When the child was three years old, when the child came to visit the Noam Elimelech, he was told that the child's name was "Tzvi Elimelech", and he was displeased that they had added a name to his name).

Expelling Communities in Yesha
Q: How should we act during times when communities are being expelled?
A: This is not the question.  Rather we should ask how to influence the Nation's opinion so that there will not be an expulsion.  This is similar to discussing plans for a burial when a person is ill instead of discussing how to keep him alive.    

Q: How do we know if a Midrash is real or a parable?

A: According to the commentators.

Arthur Marcus ztz"l - The Man of Great Chesed

Appeared in the Jewish Press:


Arthur Marcus ztz"l - The Man of Great Chesed

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner,

Rosh Yeshivat Ateret Cohain in the Old City of Yerushalayim

Few people in Eretz Yisrael heard of Arthur Marcus, Avraham Zev ben Moshe Yitzchak ztz"l, despite his great merits.  The reason was not only the fact that he lived in America, but on account of his humility and modesty.
Forty years ago, this man established the Central Fund of Israel, which allowed transferring donations to Israel, and to receive a tax-exemption, which is essential for donors there.  Everything was obviously performed in full accordance with the law.  The donor transfers the donation to the fund, and the money is passed along to a non-profit organization in Israel.
In this way, he transferred close to 20 million dollars a year to 300 non-profit organizations.
He did all of this on his free time, together with his wife, who was with him in this holy work.  He worked tens of hours each week, without receiving a penny for himself, and even paid for the expenses from his own money.  At the beginning, he did not even have an office, but rather did everything from his home.  Much later, he did have an office, which was his private office at work.
He did not distinguish between people, but rather transferred donation to any cause which had an idealistic purpose: humanitarian aid, educational institutions, communal projects, Shuls, Yeshivot, projects to build Eretz Yisrael, medical and security projects.  And he did not distinguish between different parts of our Land.  In his eyes, the Shomron and Tel Aviv and the Negev were all the same.  
This reminds us of the three great wealthy men who displayed self-sacrifice for Israel during a time of distress: Nadimon Ben Gurion, Ben Kalba Savu'a and Ben Tzitzit Ha-Keshet.  Arthur Marcus ztz"l however was not wealthy himself, but nonetheless succeeded in transferring hundreds of millions of dollars.  Regarding such things we say: "The act is greater than the one who performs it".  And this was all done in simple and modest ways.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to this great man, and all of those who faithfully busy themselves with the needs of the community, may Hashem grant them a reward, both them and their families, and may they lay in their resting places in peace, with all of the Tzadikim. 


Forgiving Someone who was Disrespectful to a Rabbi

Question: In the community where I live, there is someone who was disrespectful to the Rabbi, and I can't even talk to him. He does not seem to regret what he did, and I don't think that he will accept my rebuke. Do I have to or am I permitted to forgive him?
Answer: This is not your honor, it is the Torah's honor. We are not obligated to forgive someone who has not requested forgiveness. You are allowed to forgive someone who has done something to you. If you have a good heart, you can forgive him. This is an act of piety. Here, he was not disrespectful to you, he was disrespectful to the Rabbi, and you therefore cannot forgive him in place of the Rabbi. If you are angry with him in your heart, you have to tell him that you are upset for this or that reason. This is like what Rashi says about Yosef's brothers. The Torah says that they could not speak to him peacefully, and Rashi explains that out of their shame, you learn their praise: They did not speak to him one way, but feel differently in their heart (Bereshit 37:4). It is even worse for someone who shames a Torah scholar. There is no cure for his ailment. In the Gemara in Baba Metzia (84b), Rabbi Elezar the son of the Rashbi

died, and they laid him on a slab in the attic for many years. One day, they saw a worm came out of his ear, and they were surprised. He came to them in a dream and said that it was because he once heard a Torah scholar shamed and did not protest. On such things, we need to protest. We need to protest everything which is against the Torah, but this in particular. Shaming a Torah scholar is not only his shame, but the shame of the Torah. Disputes and disagreements are acceptable, but not shaming. It is written in the books that Torah scholars do not want to discuss this subject, because then people will say that they are saying it for their own benefit. Torah scholars therefore do not talk about this, but it is very severe. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (99b) says that a heretic is one who shames a Torah scholar. The Talmud Yerushalmi (Sanhedrin 10:1) compares this to a structure of stones: If one stone is shaken, the entire structure is shaken (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 10:1). That is to say, one who scorns any Torah scholar, knocks over the entire building of the Oral Torah in Israel. The Radvaz (vol. 4 #187) writes that even a Torah scholar who errs should not be shamed. His proof is from the Gemara in Sanhedrin (99a) that a Torah scholar named Rabbi Hillel – not Hillel the Elder – said that the Messiah will not come. Rav Yosef said: May Hashem forgive his sin and he brought proofs. Rav Yosef spoke to him in the third person with honor, and said that he erred and should be forgiven, because the damage done by shaming him would be much worse than the damage done by him saying that the Messiah will not come!