Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #360

Thoughts about Someone's Death
Q: I thought about a particular person dying.  Can this person die because of my thoughts?
A: Certainly not.  Ignore all of these badgering thoughts.

Stone that Fell From the Kotel
Q: A stone fell from the Kotel, and it is really bothering me.  What does it mean?  What should we do?
A: Thank Hashem that no one was injured.

Netilat Yadayim by a guest
Q: Should a guest avoid using large quantities of water for Netilat Yadayim, since it is at the host's expense?
A: It is an insignificant amount of water and the host forgives the cost with all of his heart.

Taking a Shower
Q: Is there a Mitzvah to take a shower?
A: It is a positive character trait of cleanliness and health.  Rambam, Hilchot De'ot Chapter 4.

Davening by a Soldier
Q: I am a soldier and work as a driver for a high-ranking officer.  Sometimes we leave early and I do not have time to Daven.  Should I drive faster in order to make it to Davening?
A: No.  1. Pikuach Nefesh (life-threatening situation).  2. One who is engaged in one Mitzvah is exempt from another Mitzvah.  You can Daven before you leave, however, even if it is early (ShutYechaveh Daat 2:8).

Crib Death
Q: I just read that in order to avoid Crib Death, one should lay the baby on his back. My grandmother told me to lay a baby on his stomach.  What should I do?
A: This is a medical question.  You should therefore ask doctors.  If the doctors said one way and then changed their opinion, the latter opinion is followed, just as in all scientific research.  We still do not know what causes Crib Death, but the doctors do say that laying a baby on his back is beneficial in this case.

Dormitory or Home
Q: Which is better for Yeshiva high school by, a dormitory or home?
A: Each one has its advantages.  It depends on the child, and is therefore a personal decision.

Book in the Geniza
Q: Is it permissible to take a book from the Geniza, or is it stealing?
A: It is permissible.  It is Hefker (abandoned).

Woman Reciting Kaddish
Q: Is it permissible to help make a Minyan in a mourner's home where a woman is reciting Kaddish on her own?
A: No.

The Chinese are Human Too

The Chinese are human too.  We are talking about believers of Falun Gong who have been subjected to horrible persecution for nearly 20 years.
The State of Israel is still a small country, and we can’t fix the rest of the world, but we must protest and shout against injustice, suffering and evil.  One can say: "How is that useful?"  It is very useful!  The truth is that every time there is a protest in our country of any sort against these persecutions, the Chinese embassy responds aggressively demanding that we immediately cease our actions.  It’s a sign that this is helpful.  In general, one must know that if there is injustice in the world, and the intellectuals protest against it – then there is hope.  However, if the intellectuals put their heads down and remain silent – then everything is lost.
To those who don’t know, Falun Gong is a group, a movement, an ideology or a spiritual practice of body and mind that improves health through exercises. We are, of course, not Falun Gong, we are the Nation of Israel with our Jewish heritage, that is however not a reason to torture them.  The Chinese government demonizes them for their supposed irrationality, superstitious beliefs, being in conflict with Marxist ideology, bringing so called harm to the government, creating youth crisis and the government makes a variety of other misleading claims against them.   It is not our duty to check if these claims are true or not, or who is right or wrong.  Perhaps both sides are incorrect, but that is not our issue.  We are against torture.
The many tortures that Falun Gong practitioners undergo in detention at this moment are reminiscent of Mao’s style of repression and maybe even worse. Below is the list of tortures that are taking place in Chinese prisons right now:
- Beatings
- Electrical shocking of the sensitive parts of the body
- Being tied up in uncomfortable positions for weeks
- Inmates’ legs are burned with coals
- Being subjected to freezing temperature
- Being force-fed through a nose or a mouth
- Insertion of bamboo sticks under the fingertips
- Insufficient and poor nutrition
- Sleep deprivation
- Denial of bathroom use and other basic hygiene
- Rape and gang rape
- Choking
In addition, other forms of persecution are taking place: expulsion from academic institutions, expulsion from workplace, burning of spiritual books, forced labor camps, forced re-education camps, all of which results many times in death.
The horrible atrocities extend to organs being harvested from live Falun Gong practitioners and then sold for tens of thousands of dollars. 
Of course, China denies all the claims, but various committees from different countries, objective bodies, human rights councils and other organizations came to a conclusion that all of it is true and still occurring.  Due to this, the American Congress as well as European countries decided to act against this. The new “organs transplant law” was passed in our country to stop public funding for organ transplants in China.

There is time to be quiet and time to shout.  
In this case, it’s time to shout.

There was a recent protest in front of the Chinese embassy in Tel Aviv and other events are expected in the future.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #359

Prohibition of Hitting Soldiers (1)
Q: In a text message, Ha-Rav wrote that it is a severe transgression to hit a soldier.  What is the prohibition?
A: It is good that you ask questions, but have patience.  When you get to Kindergarten, you will learn about it.

Prohibition of Hitting Soldiers (2)
Q: Where is it written in the Torah that it is forbidden to hit a soldier?
A: In order to atone for this horrible question, find five sources by yourself.

Da'at Mikra
Q: What is Ha-Rav's opinion of the commentary Da'at Mikra on the Tanach, published by Mossad Ha-Rav Kook?
A: On the whole it is good, but it is not deep.

Air-Conditioner in Class
Q: What should we do if there is a disagreement in class whether or not to turn on the air-conditioner?
A: Decide together.
Q: And what if we unsuccessful?
A: Thank Hashem that such situations arise so we can learn how to decide together, which as an extremely important life skill.

Students of Rabbenu Ascending on the Temple Mount
Q: How is it possible that Rabbis who are students of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda ascend to the Temple Mount, despite the fact that it that he was completely opposed it?
A: It is not our role to judge Rabbis.

"Baruch Mechaye Ha-Meitim" For Someone whose Pulse Stopped
Q: If someone's pulse stopped for a few minutes because he had a heart attack, should we recite the blessing of "Baruch Mechaye Ha-Meitim" - Blessed is the One who Resurrects the Dead"?
A: In general, we only recite this blessing when one has not seen and heard from his friends over the course of twelve months (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 225:1), but I heard that one Gadol did recite this blessing over another Gadol whose pulse stopped (It once happened that Ha-Rav Baruch Dov Povrasky, Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovez in Bnei Brak, came to visit Ha-Rav Yaakov Edelstein, Rav of Ramat Ha-Sharon, after his pulse stopped working for 6 minutes.  Rav Povarsky recited the blessing of "Baruch Mechaye Ha-Meitim" in its entirety with Hashem's Name and Kingship, and Rav Edelstein answered Amen.  When Ha-Rav Nisan Karelitz later came to visit and heard about this, he said that one only recites this blessing when one has not seen and heard from his friend over the course of twelve months.  When Ha-Rav Chaim Kaniesky was asked about it, he was in doubt and said that the issue needs to be studied.  And in Shut Mishnat Yosef [10:52], he said that it seems that this issue seems to revolve around the doubt of the Chidah whether one who died and came back to life must remarry his wife.  See Beit Matityahu 2:14 #7.  Shut Ha-Shoel 2:91).     

Learning Torah for Bagrut (High School matriculation exams)
Q: Is it permissible to learn Gemara for the Bagrut?  It is not learning Torah for it's own sake.
A: 1. Learning Torah not for its own sake is also very important.  And so too learning Torah for an academic degree.  See Shut Yechaveh Da'at 3:74.  2. It is possible that learning Torah for the Bagrut can be for its own sake.

Resurrection of the Dead
Q: When the Mashiach arrives will there be no more death?
A: Resurrection of the dead occurs long after the coming of the Mashiach.  See Rambam, Hilchot Melachim Chapter 11-12.

Learning Gemara according to Maran Ha-Rav Kook
Q: What was Maran Ha-Rav's Kook method for learning Gemara?
A: Regular, as has been done throughout all the generations.

Military Medals and Pins
Q: Is there a problem of arrogance in wearing military medals and pins on one's Tzahal uniform?
A: It is national pride, which is positive.

Retirement for a Woman
Q: I am retiring.  What can I do in life to fill my days?
A: Acts of kindness - first for your family and then for all of Am Yisrael.

Shechina in Our Home
Q: What can my wife and I do in order to bring more of the Shechina into our home?
A: Davening, Torah learning and Cheshbon Ha-Nefesh (making an accounting of one's spiritual level).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #358

Killing a Snake on Shabbat
Q: If a snake which is known to bite is endangering people on Shabbat, is it permissible to kill him?
A: Yes.  Even if he is still far away and not chasing after a person, and even if the snake is fleeing.  Shemirat Shabbat Ke-Hilchata 25:1.  See details in Piskei Teshuvot 316:12.

Tzedakah Preference
Q: To which organization is it preferable to give Tzedakah: one in Israel where they try to stop women from having abortions, or a local organization that assists couples with fertility treatment? 
A: 1. Both are good.  2. Preventing a transgression comes before performing a Mitzvah.  3. Giving Tzedakah in Eretz Yisrael takes precedence.

Precedence to Cohain
Q: If someone borrowed money from both a Cohain and a Yisrael, should he first return the money to the Cohain?  Or, if he stole money from a Cohain and a Yisrael, should he first return the money to the Cohain?
A: We do not find that a Cohain takes precedence in these matters (see Shut Ha-Shoel 1:93-94).

Arabs – Philistines
Q: How should Tzahal react to the Arabs in Gaza who are sending kites to burn our fields and produce?
A: Just as King David did when the Philistines pillaged our threshing-floors: he smited them.  Shmuel 1 23:1.

Struggling with Soldiers
Q: Is it permissible to struggle with soldiers during an expulsion of a Yishuv or outpost?
A: G-d forbid.  It is a severe Torah prohibition.

Hating Police and Soldiers
Q: Our son was at an expulsion of Jews from their homes, and he called police, officers and soldiers "Haters of Hashem".  How do we help him to love them?
A: They have a Divine, Jewish soul.  Tanya, chapter 32.

Being Pushed by a Female Officer
Q: A female officer pushed me during an expulsion from Jewish homes.  Is it permissible for me to push her back, or it is forbidden on account of the prohibition of Negi'ah (touching the opposite sex)?
A: If you are asking this question you need to find a G-d-fearing psychologist.

Blocking Roads
Q: Is it proper to block roads as a protest against the destruction of Yishuvim?
A: Not if there is no permit from the police.  Are the drivers guilty?

Destroying Yishuvim
Q: It is horrible that the government is destroying Yishuvim and expelling tens of Jewish families from their homes.  How can we be comforted?
A: This is truly horrible.  But we should be comforted by the fact that they did not expelled 400,000 Jews from Judea and Samaria.

"Women of the Wall"
Q: When the "Women of the Wall" push and shove me, what should I do as a woman?
A: Nothing.  Do not stoop to their level.

The Holiness of the Kotel

1. When we speak of the “Kotel”, the Western Wall, we must speak with great reverence.  We must follow the example of Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, who never dared to approach it at all, or of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who prayed there only on special, sacred occasions, at which time he would tremble with reverence, and he would keep on trembling for about two hours after he returned home.

2. All the more so that we don't insult the Western Wall by saying that it is less holy than the Temple Mount. The Kotel, today, is like the Temple was in its time. Presently, the Western Wall is our Temple.

3. The Kotel, besides constituting the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, was also  sanctified through Israel's prayers, self-sacrifice and pristine longing, such that it constitutes the holiest synagogue of the Jewish people.

4. When our Sages said that "the Divine Presence has never left the Western Wall," they were not talking about the wall of the Temple, but about the Kotel, as the Sages of Israel have proven. A strident debate over historical/national issues need not spill over into matters of Jewish law and faith. Rather, it should remain humbly in its place. Otherwise, even the Kotel’s special value will be lost.

5. The Temple Mount was never a place of prayer or a place of various religious ceremonies, and it was forbidden to go there for any other purpose than the Temple worship or building the temple. Maran Ha-Rav Kook saw with his prophetic spirit, as is mentioned in Shut Malki Bakodesh, a great vision of a single synagogue shared by the entire Nation, near the Temple Mount at the Western Wall.

6. Laws regarding the Temple Mount are not within the domain of the rulings of Rabbi X or Rabbi Y, but rather, they belong to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, serving the entire Jewish People. Moreover, the decision that one should not enter the Temple Mount is not just anybody’s opinion, open to rejection. Rather, it is a final decision of whichever Judge “will be in those times” (Vayikra 17:9).

7. The site of the Temple Mount and of the Temple is not a matter of national conquest that we need to maintain a presence or a settlement there, the way all other parts of the Land of Israel are. Rather, as its name clearly states, it is the place and the mountain of the Temple. Its entire essence is the supreme holiness of G-d letting His Divine Presence rest upon us.

8. The Western Wall is the lobby and the Temple is the banquet hall, and there is no way to reach the banquet hall but through the lobby. Millions of lights from the banquet hall shed their light upon it.