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Kosher Cheeseburger?!


Question: I heard that the OU gave Kosher certification to a "Cheeseburger", which contains no dairy and no meat, but rather is made from water, wheat protein, potato protein and coconut oil.  Isn't there a problem of "Ma'arit Ayin" (the appearance of violating the prohibition) of eating meat and dairy together?

Answer: It is permissible for two reasons:
1.    It is true that our Sages decreed that one may not eat almond milk with meat unless one leaves the almonds out for everyone to see (Rama, Yoreh Deah 87:3).  Today, in many health circles, almond milk is common. It's in most supermarkets these days (but one wouldn't notice if not looking for it).  Also, there are people who routinely use almond (or rice or soya) milk as a Parve milk substitute or because they are allergic or sensitive to milk. 
Similarly, today everyone has seen and knows about veggie burgers. There is therefore no problem of "Ma'arit Ayin" of eating a veggie burger with cheese.
2. We do not make new decrees. That which our Sages decreed is decreed, and that which our Sages did not decree is not decreed. They did not make a decree against eating Parve burgers with Parve cheese. Perhaps you will say that they did not make a decree because such a thing did not did not exist at their time, but it is included in the original decrees of "Ma'arit Ayin." The halachic authorities explain that we do not make such an argument and it is not included.
I remember when I was a little kid and they invented Parve margarine. People ate the margarine with meat and other people did not know what it was. Many people were strict and put the wrapper on the table. There is also non-dairy creamer which looks like milk. There is a responsum of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef in Shut Yechaveh Da'at (3:59) which permits these items because they are well publicized and everyone knows about them.
Perhaps because this Parve "cheeseburger" new, one such make a clear sign that it is completely Parve.

Short & Sweet- Text Message Q&A #355


Living in the Heart of the Old City of Yerushalayim
Q: Is it forbidden to live in the Old City of Yerushalayim on account of "You shall surely safeguard your soul" (Devarim 4:15, 23:11)?
A: No.  It is a Mitzvah.  1. Settling Eretz Yisrael requires Mesirut Nefesh.  2. It is not more dangerous than living elsewhere (I heard that when Ha-Rav Yitzchak Shlomo Zilberman decided to move to the Old City and live on Ma'alot David Street, his brothers-in-law, who were important Torah scholars, brought him to a Din Torah before Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, for endangering their sister and nieces and nephews.  Rav Zilberman said that he is not obligated to appear before Rav Elyashiv since he is not his Rav but rather his father is his Rav.  Nonetheless, he agreed to go.  During the Din Torah, the brothers-in-law talked at great length about the danger involved in moving there.  Rav Elyashiv stopped them in the middle and said: Until you bring a letter from the Police Chief on the Yerushalayim District saying that it is dangerous and forbidden to live there, what you are saying is Lashon Ha-Rav against Yerushalayim!
I also heard that in Shevet 5778, a couple wanted to move into a newly-redeemed house in the Old City next to the Lion's Gate, where no Jews lived, and when Jews move into a new area, Arabs often awaken and riot.  They asked Ha-Rav Amiel Sternberg, Rosh Yeshivat Har Ha-Mor, if it is permissible to move there.  He answered: It is a personal decision.  One who does not move there is not considered a coward, and one who does move there is not considered irrational.  It depends on 1. The feelings of the couple.  2. The future plans, i.e. for more families to move into the area when possible).

Olam Ha-Ba for Animals
Q: We had a dog who was loyal and dedicated, and he died.  Does he go to Olam Ha-Ba?
A: No.  He does not have a soul.
Q: He only existed in this world?
A: Correct.  By the way, on a completely different level, there are many Atheists who do not believe in Olam Ha-Ba, and nonetheless display great self-sacrifice to be good and upright in this world, and see it as a value in and of itself.

Religious Zionist Torah Scholars
Q: Why does the Religious Zionist community have fewer Torah scholars than the Charedi community?
A: The Charedi community has existed for 2000 years, while the Religious Zionist community was born, or more precisely, revived, together with the establishment of the State of Israel.

Postpartum Depression
Q: I am depressed after giving birth.  I have always been strong.
A: It is natural.  It occurs to one in six women.  But you should seek professional help.  There is a free support program at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

Ritalin on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to take Ritalin on Shabbat in order to Daven and learn properly, or is it forbidden based on the prohibition of taking medicine for an illness on Shabbat?
A: Yes. 1.  It is not certain that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is considered an illness.  2. One suffers greatly without Ritalin.  3. In our day, medicines are not made at home.  4. In our day, medicines are not made by a grinding process.  5. It is proper to be strict and to hide the Ritalin in food on Friday before Shabbat and then eat it on Shabbat.

Kashering and Immersing Utensils
Q: Which does one do first, Kasher a utensil or immerse it in the Mikveh?
A: Kasher it.  Otherwise, it is like a person immersing in a Mikveh holding an impure creature (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 121:2 in the name of the Rashbam).

Sleeping Guard
Q: The guard at the entrance to the school fell asleep.  Should I wake him up or is it Gezel Sheina (stealing one's sleep)?
A: You certainly wake him up.  He is stealing from those paying him and he is endangering people.  Waking him is also for his own good.

Cutting the Line in the Bank
Q: Can a person who is waiting in line at the bank have his friend join him when it is his turn, and let the friend also perform a transaction?
A: No.  He helps his friend but at the expense of others (Baba Metzia 8a). 

Finding Money on Shabbat
Q: I found money on Shabbat, gave into temptation and took it.  I deeply regret it.  What can I do?
A: Accept upon yourself not to do it again and give the money to Tzedakah.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #354


Denigrating Gedolei Yisrael
Q: My friend said disparaging things about the Lubavichter Rebbe.  I told him he was transgressing the prohibition against denigrating a Torah scholar.  He showed me quotes from Ha-Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach against the Lubavichter Rebbe.  Is he correct?
A: No.  He is not Rav Shach.

Charvona, Remembered for the Good
Q: Why do we say that Charvona should be remembered for the good?
A: Our Sages teach that Charvona was wicked, and part of Haman's plan against Mordechai.  When he saw that the plan was not going to work, he fled.  Megillah 16a.  In the song "Shoshanat Yaakov", we say "Charvona, remembered for the good", because he told King Achasverosh that Haman had arranged gallows for the hanging of Mordechai (In the book "Divrei Chana Ha-Shalem" [p. 282], it is related that Ha-Rav Chana Halberstam, Av Beit Din of Kalashitz, once related on Purim that he dreamt that Eliyahu Ha-Navi appeared to him as the Belzer Rebbe, R' Yehoshua, and that R' Chana asked the Belzer Rebbe: why is this non-Jewish servant of the king remembered for good?  After all, we only use this phrase for Eliyahu Ha-Navi who did good for the Jews.  The Belzer Rebbe answered: since Charvona merited Eliyahu Ha-Navi appearing in his likeness, this is enough to remember him for the good.  We find this idea among our Sages that Eliyahu Ha-Navi once appeared to Rebbe Yehudah Ha-Nasi in the guise of Rebbe Chiya and helped in healing a problem with his teeth.  From then on, Rebbe Yehudah Ha-Nasi gave great honor to Rebbe Chiya since Eliyahu Ha-Navi appeared in his likeness [Yerushalami, Kilayim 9:3.  Bereshit Rabba 33:3, and at the end of Parashat Tzav].  Rebbe Chana concluded that it was extremely dear to him that we merited to see Eliyahu Ha-Navi in his dream in the guise of the Belzer Rebbe).  

Davening in Front of a Picture of the Even Sheteiya
Q: Is it permissible to Daven in front of a picture of the Even Sheteiya (The Foundation Stone, which is on the Temple Mount and was in the Holy of Holies) on my cell phone, in order to help me imagine that I was in the Beit Ha-Mikdash, as mentioned in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 95:2?
A: No.  One should not Daven in front of a picture since it distracts one from having proper intention when saying the words.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 90:22.  See Piskei Teshuvah ibid.  By the way, it is not clear whether the rock in the Dome of the Rock is the Even Sheteiya or not.

Chevruta with Someone Who Goes onto the Temple Mount
Q: I have a friend who has Midot Tovot and is a Torah scholar, but goes onto the Temple Mount.  Is it permissible for me to learn in Chevruta with him?
A: No.  1. This is a very severe error.  To our great distress, we have become used to it and it does not shock us.  But all we need is two lines from Maran Ha-Rav Kook to know that one infringement on the holiness of the Temple Mount undoes all of the merit of building millions of Yishuvim in Eretz Yisrael (Igrot Ha-Re'eiyah Volume 2, p. 285).  2. You can certainly be his friend and fulfill Mitzvot with him, but one should not learn in Chevruta with him, since Torah learning is the foundation of having a proper Torah philosophy, and something clearly went wrong with his understanding.  Pri Tzadik (end of Vayikra, end of the article "Amala Shel Torah").
Q: But Ha-Rav was asked if one should cancel a Shiduch with someone who ascends on the Temple Mount, and he responded: No, since a person is judged according to the majority of his actions.  Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:1 (Piskei Shlomo Volume 6, p. 183)?
A: A person is human, and every person has virtues and deficiencies, and therefore he is judged by the majority of his actions.  This is true for friends, fellow soldiers in Tzahal, etc.  But the Torah is Divine.  It therefore must be exact and we cannot put blurred or confused ideas into it.
Q: We should therefore invalidate such a person?
A: G-d forbid!  Differences of agreement: Yes - division of hearts: No!  We have great love for all of Am Yisrael, but this does not mean we always agree with them.  We love and respect all Rabbanim in Am Yisrael, but this does not mean we always agree with them (See Eruvin 14a-b).  We follow our Rabbis.
Q: Is there a list of books and people from which\whom we should not learn?
A: G-d forbid!  This is what the Vatican has: Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of forbidden books, and there is also a list of excommunicated people.  1. We are not discussing specifics but rather the principle of the matter.  2. One needs to use his intellect.  3.  It all depends on whether an alternative exists.  If there is a better alternative, he should learn with someone else.  If a better alternative does not exist, he should be satisfied in the meantime with what he has, i.e. learning with him.

Many Massechtot or One Massechet
Q: What is preferable – learning many Massechtot of Gemara or learning one Massechet really well?
A: One Massechet.

Religious Yishuv
Q: I live in a small Yishuv where everyone is religious.  What is the advantage and what is the disadvantage?
A: The advantage is that together you exist with fear of Hashem (Yirat Shamayim) and radiate a pure life to the entire Nation which lives in Eretz Yisrael.  The disadvantage is that all of Klal Yisrael should live together.

Lost Kippah
Q: My Kippah blew away and I can't find it.  Can I walk with my head uncovered or should I cover my head with my hand?
A: You should cover your head with something.  Your hand does not help since you cannot cover your head with a part of your own body.

Yerushalayim - The Highest Place in the World!


The Gemara says that the Land of Israel is higher than any other place in the world (Zevachim 54b).  In Parashat Shoftim, the Torah says that if you have a difficult halachic question or court case and need to go to the Sanhedrin, which is located in the Temple in Jerusalem, "you should arise and ascend to the place" (Devarim 17:8).  Regardless of where one is located, he has to ascend to get there.  Based on this, the Gemara says that the Temple is higher than any place in the Land of Israel (ibid.). 
How can the Gemara make such a claim?  Mt. Everest and the Himalayas are higher than Mt. Chermon – the highest spot in Israel?!  Ironically, Israel has the lowest point on earth – the Dead Sea, not the highest!
The Radvaz, who lived about 500 years ago in Tzefat, explains how the Temple Mount lost its crown as the highest spot in Israel.  He writes that the non-Jews lowered its height as it says, "Raze it, raze it, to its foundation" (Tehillim 137:7).  The non-Jewish kings dug up the Temple Mount in order to build their houses, temples and churches higher than it.  Furthermore, the rains flowed down the incline of the Temple Mount and instead of preventing the razing, they encouraged it.  An earthquake also caused much destruction in Jerusalem and people built houses on the rubble.  There is one archeological layer on top of another in Jerusalem.  Archeological digs do not reveal virgin earth, but the remnants of earlier periods.  Thus, while Jerusalem became higher, the Temple Mount was lowered, but it once was the highest spot (Shut Ha-Radvaz vol. 2 #639)
The Chatam Sofer – Rav Moshe Sofer, who lived in Pressberg, Hungary about 200 years ago and was never in Israel, says that reality does not substantiate the Radvaz's claim that the Temple Mount was once the highest spot in Israel.  He provides an answer from a completely difference perspective by focusing on the statement that the Land of Israel is the highest spot in the world.  The Chatam Sofer explains that the earth is a sphere and it is therefore impossible to definitively say which is the highest point.  Everything is dependent on how one holds the sphere. If you hold the earth in a proper way than Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are the highest places.  If you hold the sphere in a different way, someplace else will be on top. 
The essential job of a Jew is to have a proper perspective in life to ensure that Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are always at the pinnacle (Chatam Sofer to Devarim 17:8).

Shu"t Ha-Shoel Volume 2


New HEBREW Book:
Shu"t Ha-Shoel Volume 2
By Mordechai Tzion
Q&A of Gedolei Yisrael including Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner, Ha-Rav Chaim Kanevski, Ha-Rav Avigdor Neventzal, Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Ha-Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and tens of others
Includes commentary of Rav Aviner on the Will of Ha-Rav Shteinman ztz"l