Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #345

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a day.  Here's a sample:
Removing Sefer Torah for Bar Mitzvah to Practice
Q: Is it permissible to take out a Sefer Torah for a Bar Mitzvah student to practice?
A: Yes, with awe of holiness.

Lashon Ha-Ra on a Yeshiva
Q: I said that a certain Yeshiva does not have a high level of learning.  Do I have to ask forgiveness from the entire Yeshiva?
A: No.  You only have to correct your statement among those who heard you say it.

"If I forget you, Yerushalayim" Under the Chuppah
Q: Why after breaking the glass and the groom saying "If I forget you, Yerushalayim", does everyone happily yell out "Mazal Tov"?  After all, it is a remembrance of the destruction of the Temple!
A: This is in fact a mistake.  And Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef writes against this practice (Shut Yabia Omer Volume 4 Even Ha-Ezer #9.  And Siddur Beit Oved 198a).  Many sing this verse (Tehilim 137:5) and break the glass in the middle of the ceremony.
Q: What about the singer singing the song in a beautiful manner with musical accompaniment?
A: This is also a mistake.  It once happened that a Chazan said "Tikkun Chazot" with beautiful melodies and the Chatam Sofer said that they should check if he is part the cult of Shabbatai Tzvi (Mi-Be'er Ha-Parashah, Pinchas 5775).

Additions in Tefilat Ha-Derech
Q: Is it permissible to make additions to Tefilat Ha-Derech, such as asking Hashem to save us from car accidents and terrorists?
A: Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach permits it but Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski says that one should not add to it since everything is included in the phrase "and from all kinds of punishments".  One should therefore not add to it (Ishei Yisrael, Chapter 50 note #4).

Leaked Test
Q: Is it permissible to study the questions from a leaked test?
A: Certainly not.  It is "Genevat Da'at" (Deception).

Spark of Rebbe Nachman
Q: Is it true that Maran Ha-Rav Kook said that he was a spark of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov?
A: Yes.  Ha-Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriya brings it in his books.  The meaning is that Rav Kook had a Klal-Yisrael soul, which therefore also included Rebbe Nachman.

Bothersome Music
Q: Sometimes in the army when I am Davening others are listening to music and it bothers me.  Can I ask them to turn it down?
A: No.  If they want to, they will turn it down on their own.

Blessing on Gum
Q: Does one recite a blessing on chewing gum?
A: Yes, since a blessing before eating does not require a minimal amount (Mishnah Berurah 210:1), one benefits from the sweetness, and it reaches one's stomach (Shut Yabia Omer 7:33 #2.  Although the book Bikdushato Shel Aharon [Volume 1 p. 162, 186] relates that when the Chafetz Chaim and the Belzer Rebbe - Ha-Rav Aharon Rokeach - met in a Rabbinical conference in Warsaw, the Belzer Rebbe poured the Chafetz Chaim a glass of wine and said: Here, we arrived at the minimal amount.  The Chafetz Chaim immediately understood that the Rebbe meant for the blessing preceding the drinking, and was surprised!  The Chafetz Chaim said that this is the position of the Kol Bo [brought in the Beit Yosef, Orach Chaim #210], and apologized, saying that if he had known that there are those who follow it, he would have included it in the Mishnah Berurah!  Only those who are the most particular, however, follow this ruling).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #344

Blessing from Groom and Bride
Q: Is there a custom for the groom and bride to bless everyone before or after the Chupah?
A: No.

Where was Hashem during the Holocaust
Q: If there is a G-d, how did He allow the Holocaust?
A: This is not a question for a text message.  It is disrespectful of Hashem and of the Holocaust.  In any case, there are questions which we are unable to answer (See at length Ha-Rav's book "Orot Mei-Ofel).

Borrowing Book from Shul
Q: Is it permissible to borrow a book from Shul when the Gabbai opposes it?
A: The answer is in the question.

Parental Presents for Wedding
Q: According to the Halachah, how much are parents obligated to give their children when they get married?
A: Nothing.
Q: And what is appropriate?
A: According to the couple's need and the parents' ability.

Preparing to Visit the Kotel
Q: How does one prepare to visit the Kotel?
A: By learning Mesilat Yesharim.

Middle of the Geula
Q: Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah said that during his time we were already in the middle of the Geula.  Why then does Ha-Rav say that we are at the beginning of the Geula?
A: There is no difference.  The expression "Atchalta De-Geula" (Beginning of the Geula) is used by our Sages in the Gemara Megilah (17b).  There is no expression "Emtza'ita De-Geula" (Middle of the Redemption) amongst our Sages, although it is obvious that between the beginning and end of the Redemption and there is a middle.  As long as the Redemption is not yet complete, it is referred to as "the beginning".  See also Gemara in Berachot 4b.  The "Middle of the Redemption" describes where we stand, i.e. Baruch Hashem, we are in the process.  Our Rabbis began using this expression 150 years ago with the establishment of the first communities of Petach Tikvah and Rishon Le-Tzion, and since then we have progressed greatly.  Some Rabbis say that the beginning of the Redemption was 500 years ago with the Aliyah of Rabbi Yosef Karo and many others to Tzefat.  How much we have progressed since then!  We just need to open our eyes to see how far we have come.

Mezuzah as a Segulah
Q: Should one walk around with a Mezuzah as a Segulah for protection?
A: He should walk around with Tzitzit as a Segulah for protection against transgressions (Rambam, Hilchot 6:13).

Informing Others on a Terrorist Attack on Shabbat
Q: I volunteer for MADA.  If, G-d forbid, there is a terrorist attack in a nearby Yishuv, and I travel there and know what occurred, is it permissible to me to tell others in my Yishuv if they ask me?
A: It is forbidden.  On Shabbat, one should not relate things which will cause distress (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-Hilchata, p. 340 #56.  And Ha-Rav Shlomo Perel, MADA volunteer in Yishuv Neriya, told me that many Rabbis have told him the same thing).

Terrorist Attack During Shabbat Dinner
Q: How is it possible that a terrorist attack occurred during Shabbat dinner, when the Gemara states, "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah" (Pesachim 8b)?
A: The Gemara explains that this is said in regard to an infrequent danger.  When there is a not wholly uncommon occurrence, like a terrorist attack, there is a chance that one may be harmed.  The same question also applies to soldiers of Tzahal who are killed or wounded despite the fact that they are a fulfilling the Mitzvah of protecting Am Yisrael, protecting Eretz Yisrael and sanctifying Hashem's Name.  May Hashem provide consolation. 

Adopting a Convert
Q: It was suggested to our family that we adopt a young woman who is in the process of converting.  It is worthwhile?
A: It is a great Mitzvah to love the convert, on condition that the conversion is a real acceptance of the Mitzvot.

Ha-Gomel for Underwater Tunnel
Q: If one travels on a train or in a car in an underwater tunnel, should he recite the blessing of Ha-Gomel, as one who travels by boat?

A: Some require it, but the basic halachah is that one does not recite it, since it is similar to driving on a regular, safe road (Sefer Meit Netivim - Kuntres Be'er Miriam #4).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #343

Birthday of Convert
Q: On which day should I celebrate my birthday: the day I was physically born on the day I converted?
A: It is preferable to celebrate it on the day you converted (As our Sages say: A person who converts is like a new-born child.  Yevamot 22a).

Mezuzah on Bus
Q: Why doesn't a bus require a Mezuzah?
A: It is not designed to be lived in.  Shut Minchat Yitzchak (2:82).

Music During Davening
Q: I am invited to a Bar Mitzvah which includes musical accompaniment.  Can I Daven there?
A: No.  Davening is Davening, and not a musical experience.

Mezuzah for a Lefty
Q: I am a lefty.  Should I place the Mezuzah on the left-hand side of the door?
A: No.  The Mezuzah is an obligation related to the house and not to the individual (Chovat Ha-Dar 8:1).

Netilat Yadayim for a Cohain When Leaving a Cemetery
Q: When a Cohain leaves a cemetery after the funeral of a close relative for whom he is permissible to become impure, does he wash Netilat Yadayim?  And what if he enters the cemetery on the special path designed for Cohanim?
A: If the Cohain enters the cemetery he washes Netilat Yadayim like all others.  But it is only permissible for him to become impure for his close relative and not for others.  Therefore, he may enter the area for eulogies where his relative is located, but not within the grave site where others are buried.  If he enters the cemetery on the special path designed for Cohanim, he has not truly entered the cemetery and thus does not need to wash Netilat Yadayim (I saw this myself with Rav Aviner.  I once accompanied him to visit his father's grave on his Yahrzeit.  Ha-Rav only walked on the Cohain's path [since he is a Cohain] and he did not wash Netilat Yadayim.  And at his mother's funeral, he did wash Netilat Yadayim since he was in the eulogy area with her, and helped carry her coffin.  He did not, however, approach her grave since there were other graves around her - M. T.).

Tefilat Ha-Derech for One who is Sleeping
Q: If I say Tefilat Ha-Derech and my friend is sleeping, should I wake him up?
A: It depends on what he would prefer.

Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel
Q: What is Ha-Rav's opinion about Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel?
A: It is complex.  On the one hand, he has writings which are full of fear of Hashem, such as his book on Shabbat.  On the other hand, he has writings which are problematic, such as those concerning the Oral Torah.  One must judge each thing on its own merit.

How did the Students of Rabbi Akiva Fall?
Q: How did the students of Rabbi Akiva not treat each other with respect when Rabbi Akiva himself taught that the great principle of the Torah is "Love your fellow as yourself"?
A: In Rabbi Akiva's merit, they only failed in not giving respect but he saved them from baseless hatred to the point of murder.

Mezuzah on Elevator Door
Q: Does an elevator door require a Mezuzah?
A: It is a dispute.  Shut Ha-Levi requires one, while Be-Tzel Ha-Chochma does not (And see Chovat Ha-Dar 5:11 who also requires one).

Q: Should I call the wife of my Rav "Rabanit"?
A: Yes.  The wife of a Torah scholar is like a Torah scholar.

Anniversary of Aliyah
Q: Is the anniversary of the day I made Aliyah considered a holiday for me?  What should I do on that day?
A: Yes.  Thanksgiving to Hashem, Tzedakah, Teshuvah.

Picture of Beit Ha-Mikdash
Q: Does a picture of the Beit Ha-Mikdash or the Temple Mount have to be placed in a Genizah?
A: No.

Learning Book of Eichah (Lamentations)
Q: Is it permissible to learn the book of Eichah on Shabbat?

A: Yes.  It is Torah.  It is also permissible to learn the laws of mourning.