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Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #353


Sleeping with Closet Door Open
Q: I heard that one should not sleep with the closet door open.  Is this true?
A: Nonsense (Ha-Rav often says with distress: Who invents all of these types of nonsense?!).

First Mitzvah of Baal Teshuvah
Q: If a person is starting to become a Baal Teshuvah, which Mitzvah should he begin with?
A: Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah said: Emunah, since it is the basis for fulfilling the Mitzvot (Ha-Rav Meir Mazuz, Rosh Yeshiva of Kisei Rachamim, once mentioned that a Rav said that Yitzchak Avinu wanted to help Esav repent by teaching him Hilchot Shechitah based on Ba'al Ha-Turim on Berehit 27:3.  But why would he teach Esav, who was wicked, this of all things?  Rav Mazuz answers based on what is told about Ha-Rav Eleizer Man Shach, Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevitz.  He was once asked by a group helping Ba'alei Teshuvah: Which Mitzvah should we begin with – Shabbat, Tefillin, etc.?  Rav Shach said: Begin with Kashrut!  If someone eats non-Kosher food it causes him "dulling of the heart" ["Timtum Ha-Lev"], i.e. dulling of one's spiritual sense.  Vayikra 11:43.  Yoma 31a.  It is therefore clear why Yitzchak taught Esav the laws of Shechitah, so that he would eat Kosher, get back his proper spiritual sense, and repent.  In the Parashah Sheet "Beit Ne'eman" #42.  To the same question, Ha-Rav Yehudah Amital, Rosh Yeshiva of Har Etzion, said we should follow Hashem's actions!  After the Jews left Egypt and began to complain, Hashem gave them 3 Mitzvot at Marah: Shabbat, understandable laws [Dinim] and Parah Adumah.  Rashi on Shemot 15:25.  Ha-Rav Amital therefore said that a Baal Teshuvah should begin with observing Shabbat, one Mitzvah which is dear to him [Dinim] and a Mitzvah which he does not understand, similar to Parah Adumah!  Told to me by R' Dov Shachor from Yishuv Neriya).

Gemara or Halachah Books
Q: Is it preferable to buy a Gemara, which I will not learn from, or Halachah books which I will learn?
A: Books you will learn.  Just as the reason for the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah is in order to learn from it (See Sefer Ha-Chinch, Mitzvah #613 and Shut Sha'agat Aryeh).

Apartment where 3 Couples Got Divorced
Q: Is it a problem to rent an apartment where 3 couples who lived there got divorced?
A: There is absolutely no problem.  The apartment is not to blame.

Witness of Honor
Q: I was at a wedding and they honored a person to be a "witness of honor".  What is that?  I have never heard of it.
A: It is someone who is not suitable to be a witness but they want to honor him (When Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef performed the wedding for the son of the Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin, the latter wanted someone who was not Shomer Shabbat to serve as a witness.  Rav Ovadiah suggested that he (Rav Ovadiah) serve as a witness along with Ha-Rav Shalom Messas, Rav of Yerushalayim, and that the other person be honored as a "witness of honor".  Rav Ovadiah added in extremely large letters: Witness of honor.  And another time, when Shimon Peres was at a wedding, Rav Ovadiah had him serve as a "witness of honor".  Minhagei Harashal Volume 2, pp. 327-328 and in note #33).

Mourning for Yerushalaym
Q: Why are we still mourning over Yerushalayim?  We have a wonderful city full of life?
A: Baruch Hashem.  We thank Hashem for this on Yom Ha-Atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim.  But we need to add much holiness before we arrive at the Beit Ha-Mikdash.

Relating to Non-Jews
Q: Does our love of Am Yisrael mean that we do not need to relate to the other nations of the world?
A: We love all of humanity, and mention this in the prayer "Aleinu". But our love for Am Yisrael is deeper.

Kashrut of the Chief Rabbinate
Q: Can I rely on the Kashrut of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel?
A: 1. Yes.  2. I am moved that you respect me, the lowly, more than the Chief Rabbis.  3. You need to ask forgiveness from the Chief Rabbis for raising the possibly that they facilitate people eating Treif food.

Died in the Middle of His Life
Q: It bothers me that when a person dies relatively young, people say: He died in the middle of his life.  After all, it was not in the middle of his life but at the end of his life!  What is Ha-Rav's opinion?
A: Correct.  It is forbidden to say such a thing.  We are not abandoned.  If a person dies, it is not because someone threw a rock at him, shot him or he was sick with cancer, but rather because Hashem decreed that his time had ended.  The Gemara in Yevamot (50a) says that every person has a specific amount of time to live.  When Hashem decrees that a person's time has ended, he cannot live for even another moment.