I Say the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel

The happiest moment of my week
is between Shacharit and Mussaf on Shabbat
when the Sheli'ach Tzibbur says
the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel.
When I hear
"Our Father in Heaven, the Rock of Israel and its Savior"
I jump up like a spring!
I do not change one word.
All the "contrary" evidence in the world does not change how I feel at all,
and the more it mocks the more I say this prayer.
I have a desire to jump up and tell the Sheli'ach Tzibbur
"Say it again and again!"
I have a desire to jump up and kiss him.
Even when the State and the Government
desecrate the holiness of Shabbat,
I continue to say the prayer for its welfare.
Even when they desecrate the holiness of the Land,
I continue to pray for its welfare,
and I will not stop.
Because this is my country, I have no other,
and I love it just as it is.
And this is my Government, yes, this is my Government.
I will repeat this a thousand times.
I have serious issues with it,
I have dreadful pain on account of it,
but this is my Government.
When it is replaced by a better Government
I will be extremely happy,
but in the meantime it is my Government
and I will continue to pray for it with all my heart.
And when it is replaced, I will pray for the next Government
and I will say: This is my Government.
And I will be proud before the entire world:
We are no longer a downtrodden people,
whose decisions are made by a foreign nation.
I have a Government of my own.
Are you listening, nations of the world?
I have my own Government, and I am proud of this.
Governments come, and governments go,
but my pride remains eternal.
And if someone were to print a sticker that says:
"I say the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel,"
I would stick it on my briefcase and on the lapel on my jacket.
I would stick it on with pride.
Pride is a repulsive quality
but this pride is pure
like a flower which sprouted yesterday.
And if, G-d forbid, this State and this Government
enacts laws contrary to our Torah,
I will, of course, weep greatly.
I will tell everyone that these laws are nullified like dust.
But I will continue to say
the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel
with joy.
There are those who see shadows
and there are those who see the light that goes before the shadows,
as we learn: "if there are shadows,
it is a sign that there is light."
And this light is so sweet.
Therefore, I say the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel.

[Sefer Rosh Ha-Memshalah #31]

And published at:

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A - #352

Birkat Cohanim Under Chupa
Q: Should we organize Birkat Cohanim under the Chupa for the bride and groom?
A: In general, we should not add things which our Sages did not establish.  They knew what Birkat Cohanim is and nonetheless did not establish it be recited under the Chupa.

Amount of Time in the Cheder Yichud
Q: How much time should a bride and groom remain in the Cheder Yichud after the Chupa?
A: The halachah states that it is the amount of time to roast a chicken's egg, i.e. a few minutes (Ha-Rav Yisrael Zev Gutsman, Rosh Yeshivat of Netzach Yisrael Rameillis Vilna-Yerushalayim and Dayan of the Beit Din of Ha-Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, said that the custom in Vilna was to wait 9 minutes in the Cheder Yichud, and this was also the custom of Rav Chaim Ozer.  Halichot Yisrael - Hilchot Nida Volume 1, p. 255.  And the Admor 'Imrei Sofer' of Erlau held 6-7 minutes.  Halichot Ve-Hanhagot Imrei Sofer, Volume 1, p. 255.  And Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter once related that at the wedding of Ha-Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, who would become Rosh Yeshivat Har Etzion, and the daughter of Ha-Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, when they entered the Cheder Yichud the lock broke and they were unable to get out.  Rav Soloveitchik told the witnesses that they could leave after 8 minutes.  They knocked on the door and left.  The photographer also knocked on the door and they did not come out.  They yelled that they were stuck inside but no one heard them.  In the end, Rav Soloveitchik came to tell them they were in there long enough and that they should come out.  He heard them calling out, and someone from the hotel was called to open the door).

Playing Guitar on the Street
Q: Is it permissible for me to play guitar on the street and put down a bowl for people to put money in?
A: If you do not have food to eat.  Otherwise, do not live on Tzedakah.

Davening in Winter Gear
Q: Is it permissible to Daven while wearing gloves?
A: It is permissible if one suffers from the cold and it helps him to Daven with proper intent (Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach - Halichot Shlomo 2:18).  And it is preferable to Daven in a Minyan while wearing gloves than to Daven on one's own at home without gloves (Shut Be'er Moshe 4:39).
Q: Is it permissible to Daven while wearing a winter coat?
A: Same as above (Aruch Ha-Shulchan, Orach Chaim 91:6).
Q: Scarf?
A: Same as above (Although the Admor Imrei Emet of Gur writes in the name of the Sefat Emet in the name of the Chidushei Ha-Rim that one should not Daven with a scarf wrapped around his neck in order not to separate between the brain and heart.  The opposite of a Gartel.  Imrei Emet Likutim p. 118).
Q: Boots and galoshes?
A: It is permissible on condition that they are not soiled with dirt, mud, etc., since one would not stand before an important person while wearing them (Shut Mishnat Yosef 4:4).
Q: With a plastic cover over one's hat to protect it from the rain?
A: Only if it is specially made for the hat and is the same size as the hat (Halichot Shlomo ibid.  Piskei Teshuvot 91:5).

Secular Subjects
Q: Is there a Mitzvah to learn secular subjects?
A: 1. For a livelihood.  2. In order to use the knowledge to perform kindness to Am Yisrael.  3. To aid in the understanding of Torah.

White Kipa on Shabbat
Q: Is one obligated to wear a white Kipa on Shabbat?
A: No.  But one must always wear a large Kipa.

Question of Another Rav
Q: I asked my Rabbi a question but his answer didn't sit well with me.  What should I do?
A: Ask him directly.  After all, what I know he also knows.  And additionally, he is your Rabbi.

Honor One's Parent in His Heart
Q: Am I also obligated to honor my parents in my heart if they act in a disrespectful and hurtful way to me?
A: No.  The honor of honoring and fearing parents is through actions and with words.  Obviously, even if they have deficiencies, one needs to have gratitude towards them for the good things they have done for you.

Necklace with Beit Ha-Mikdash
Q: I have a necklace with a charm of the Beit Ha-Mikdash.  Is it permissible to enter the bathroom with it?
A: Yes.  The charm is not holy.

New English book from HaRav Shlomo Aviner - 10th Book in Series - Commentary on Yonah

Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim
Torah from Zion Project
English Books of
Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner Shlit"a
Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. Rav of Beit El & one of the leading Rabbis of Religious-Zionism today.  One of the most prominent students of Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, who followed directly in the footsteps of his father, Rav Kook.  Author of more than 150 Hebrew books filled with love of Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael & Torat Yisrael, tolerance & love to all Jews, guidance for harmony within the Jewish family, dedication to the State of Israel & Tzahal, and facing the most pressing questions of the day.    

Our 10th Book in the Series
Commentary on Yonah
Our Sages teach: "Eliyahu demanded the honor of the father…Yonah demanded the honor of the son."  This is to say that the prophet Eliyahu demanded the honor of Hashem, and Yonah demanded the honor the Nation of Israel.  For her sake, he was willing to do anything, even to distance himself from the Master of the Universe.   

Other books in series currently available:
1. Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Volume 1 [Revised addition]
2. Prophecies for the Generations - Explorations into the Haftarot
3. Rabbenu - Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook
4. Heroes of the Tanach
5. On the Air with Rav Aviner
6. Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A - Volume 2
7. Dimensions of Love
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or call in Israel: 02-628-4101

Halachic Rulings of Ha-Rav Avi Ronski ztz"l: Holy & Heroic

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Ha-Rav Avichai Brigadier General Ronski ztz"l: graduate of our Yeshiva, Ra"m in our Yeshiva, Rosh Yeshiva in Itamar, Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, and served in many elite units in Tzahal including as a high-ranking officer. 
Rav Ronski's view of a military Rabbi was not to simply provide religious services and then return to an air-conditioned office, but to serve as a spiritual guide for the soldiers during training and battle.  Rav Ronski - based on the vision of Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren - said that a military Rabbi must also have been a combat soldier. 
Rav Ronski also authored 4 volumes of Teshuvot, "Ke-Chitzim Be-Yad Gibor", on military Halachot.
Here are a few Teshuvot of Rav Aviner which mention Rav Ronski's book:
Ambush on Shabbat
Q: If a soldier goes out of an ambush on Shabbat or returns from an ambush on Shabbat, is it permissible for him to take personal items with him?
A: It is permissible to take food which will contribute to his alertness.  There is a dispute regarding non-essential items.  The Chafetz Chaim is lenient in his book "Machane Yisrael" (see Ke-Chitzin Be-Yad of Ha-Rav Avichai Ronski, former Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, Volume 2 pp. 36-37, who permits it.  And Kishrei Milchama of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim, head of the Halachah Department of Tzahal, Volume 4 pp. 86-90).

Cohain in Maarat Ha-Machpelah
Q: Is it permissible for a Cohain to enter Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah?
A: There is a halachic dispute about whether or not the graves of the righteous are impure. If the graves of the righteous are not impure, then it would be permissible for Cohanim to enter Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah, Kever Rachel, the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, et al. While some do permit this, most authorities rule that the graves of the righteous are impure and it is therefore forbidden for Cohanim to enter. It is not permissible however, to give lashes to someone who does enter, since there are those who permit it. Some authorities also explain that Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah is built so that the lower structure, where the graves are located, is covered and detached from the building. Much has been written about this issue. I do not know much about this, though, since I am a Cohain and have never been inside Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah. Maran Ha-Rav Kook did not visit the graves of the righteous in general since he was a Cohain (Le-Shelosha Be-Elul vol. 1, p. 76) and accordingly did not enter Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah. I am not more righteous than Maran Ha-Rav Kook, so I also do not enter.
The same question applies to Kever Rachel. Even according to the opinion that the graves of the righteous are impure, some say that the building was made in a way to make it permissible for Cohanim to enter. Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu relates that he once told our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, that it is written in the book "Kuntres Yechi’eli" that it is permissible for Cohanim to enter Kever Rachel. Our Rabbi asked him: what do people say there? He answered: they read the verses about our mother Rachel. Our Rabbi travelled there, but only went as far as the door. When he returned, Ha-Rav Eliyahu asked him: why didn’t you enter? He answered: My father did not enter, therefore I did not enter" (Parashah Sheet "Kol Tzofa’ich #279. See also Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah - Eretz Yisrael p. 142 note 1 that after the Six-Day War, the students of our Rabbi organized a trip to the liberated areas in the Shomron. One of the places they visited was Kever Yosef. The students entered, but our Rabbi remained outside, because he was a Cohain). Again, Maran Ha-Rav Kook did not enter Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah, so I do not.
In the book "Ke-Chitzim Be-Yad Giborim" (vol. 3, p. 108), Ha-Rav Avichai Ronski, the former Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, was asked: is it permissible for a soldier who is a Cohain to enter Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah for a tour, in order to learn about the place in the event that there is a terrorist attack there and his unit needs to take action? Ha-Rav Ronski answers that it is permissible for three reasons: 1. It is obvious and clear that the security apparatus which would be sent on such a mission must train for it properly. 2. In general, it is not clear that the graves of our forefathers are directly located under the floor of the prayer halls, and even if they are located there, it is possible that the impurity does not break out and spread upward since it there may be hollow spaces larger than a "tefach" (handbreath – 7.6 cm-9.6 cm) which separate the floor from the graves. 3. There are Rishonim (Rabbis of the Middle Ages) who ruled that the graves of the righteous do not cause impurity, and Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu permits Cohanim to enter Ma'arat Ha-Machpelah and Kever Rachel. Even though the majority of authorities prohibit entering, it is possible to add this lenient opinion to the other reasons that permit it.
Ha-Rav Aviner writes in his comments to this book that it is important to know that the first reason is the main one, and the second and third reasons are only additional minority positions which can be added to permit it. And we must point this out so that people do not learn that there is an all-encompassing heter to enter.

Shehechiyanu on F-35 Stealth Fighter Jets
Q: With Hashem's kindnesses, the State of Israel received F-35 Stealth Fighter jets.  Should the blessing of Shehechiyanu be recited, or is it not recited because the fighter plane is a weapon of war?  If it should be recited, who recites the blessing?
A: War indeed causes distress, but for now we are obligated to wage war.  The Rambam calls one of the books in the Mishneh Torah Hilchot Melachim U-Milchamot - Laws of Kings and Wars.  The censored edition calls this book "Laws of Kings and Their Wars", as if the Nation of Israel only waged wars in the past but no longer does so.  This is not true.  There is no free nation without war.  To our great distress, we therefore must wage war, but we can take pride in the power of the deterrence of Tzahal.  How fortunate are we to have merited these planes!
Regarding which blessing to recite: the blessing of "Shehechiyanu" is recited over an object acquired by one person, while the blessing of "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv" is recited over an object acquired for the benefit of more than one person: Hashem is good to me and does good for others )Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 223:2).  In this case, the Stealth Fighter jets are obviously for the benefit of the entire Nation of Israel!
Many years ago, I wrote a long Teshuvah that one should recite such a blessing over the acquisition of a pistol (in this case "Shehechiyanu".  See Shut She'eilat Shlomo 3:87).  This is true all the more for the F-35 jets!
There were Gedolei Yisrael who disagreed with my Teshuvah on the pistol for various reasons, including that it is a weapon of destruction.  These included the former Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, Ha-Rav Brigadier General Avi Ronski, Ha-Rav Dov Lior, Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef and Ha-Rav David Cohen, Ra"m in our Yeshiva (brought in the book "Ke-Chitzim Be-Yad Gibor Vol. 1, pp. 131-133).  Perhaps the four Rabbis who disagreed with me regarding the blessing over a pistol would agree, however, regarding a fighter plane.  In any event, I discussed this issue with the current Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, Ha-Rav Brigadier General Ayal Krim, and he agrees that the blessing of "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv" should be recited over the fighter jets.  And as the Torah says: And come to the Chief Rabbi of Tzahal who will be in your days (play on the verse "Come to the judge who will be in your days" - Devarim 17:9), and the Chief Rabbi of Tzahal is the halachic authority of the army. 
The blessing should be recited by the head of the Israeli Air Force.
And we can add (somewhat in jest) that if the head of the Air Force wants to be strict, and follow all of the opinions, he can buy a new shirt to be worn by a few people and recite the blessing "Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv" over the $25 shirt while also having the 90 Million Dollar F-35 Stealth Fighter jet in mind…  This reminds us of the story that when Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren was Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, he recited Shehechiyanu on the night of Yom Ha-Atzmaut in Shul as was his opinion.  One of the people there questioned it, and Rav Goren waved his tie, as if to say that he was wearing a new tie, and so the blessing was on it.  After the davening, Rav Goren scolded the man: It is obvious to you that one says Shehechiyanu on a new tie, but not on a new State?! 

May the soul of Ha-Rav Avichai Brigadier General Ronski remain bound up with the souls of the all other holy and heroic souls!