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.