Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #366

Blessing after Netilat Yadayim
Q: In my community, the custom is to wash Netilat Yadayim, dry one's hands, sit down at the table and then recite the blessing on Netilat Yadayim.  Should I continue to do so?
A:  The blessing is to be recited before drying one's hands.  Piskei Teshuvot 158:25.  And in the daily Halachah of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef.

Reciting Blessings Quietly
Q: I apologize for asking a personal question and Ha-Rav obviously does not need answer.  Why, when Ha-Rav gives a class, does he speak loudly so everyone can hear, but when he receives an Aliyah to the Torah, he recites the blessings softly?
A: It is simple.  I cannot have fear of the audience in front of me, but I do have fear of Heaven, a little. 

Killing a Terrorist
Q: If a soldier kills a terrorist should he be happy that he eliminated a murderer or sad that he killed a human being?
A: He should be happy that he eliminated a murderer, but he would obviously have been happier if this person had repented.  For example, a surgeon who removes a limb which threatens a person life, is happy that he saved his patient, but he would prefer that the limb would heal and there would be no reason to remove it.

Text Message Answers
Q: I send text message questions to Ha-Rav but I don't always receive an answer.  Is there problem with Ha-Rav's cell phone?
A: No.  But I never promised anybody that I would answer all the questions, and I am unable to do so.  I receive 400 questions a day, and 700 a day around the holidays.  If each text message question takes me 2 minutes, this is 1400 minutes, i.e. 23 hours a day.  I therefore mainly answer emergency questions, and then other questions according to my ability.  I apologize.

Rav or Wife
Q: If my wife asks me to help her with the kids at home, and my Rav asks me to help him to set up for a Siyum, whom should I help?  My Rav brings me to the World to Come and my wife helps me in this world?
A: Ask your Rav directly.

Autist and Mitzvot
Q: Is a person with medium-functioning Autism obligated to fulfill the Mitzvot?
A: According to his ability, without pressure.

Q: I heard that it is forbidden to say O.K. because it has its source in idol worship?
A: Its source is unclear but it is not from idol worship.  It seems that it is an abbreviation of All Korrect, which was corrupted from All Correct.  In any event, it is a Mitzvah for us to speak Hebrew and not English.

Speaking in Hebrew
Q: Why does the Torah emphasize that Yaakov Avinu called the name of the place "Galed" (in Hebrew) and Lavan called it "Vagar Sahaduta" (in Aramaic)?
A: I heard an explanation from Ha-Rav Avigdor Nevenzal based on Sforno that this is in order to teach us that Yaakov Aviner continued to speak Hebrew even when he lived with Lavan (See Yerushalayim Be-Moadeha - Pesachim p. 52 where Rav Nevenzal noted various places in our prayers and blessings where we thank Hashem for our holy language).

Additional Guest in Hotel
Q: I am staying at a hotel and there are a few extra beds.  Is it permissible for me to invite a few friends to stay with me, or is it a problem of theft?
A: Ask directly in the hotel.

Q&A Attack on Israel from Gaza

Hamas as Agent of Hashem
Q: Is Hamas an agent of Hashem, causing us to atone for our transgressions?  And if not, why doesn't Hashem destroy them and make it easier for Am Yisrael?
A: For the same reason that since the time of Kayin there are evil people and murderers in the world (see Ha-Rav's book "Ve-Gavar Yisrael" which discusses the problem of evil in the world and why bad things happen to good people).

Missile Fire
Q: Does one who goes out of his house during missile fire, violate "Guard your soul very carefully" (Devarim 4:10).
A: One is always obligated to follow directives of the Home Front Command and not try to outsmart them.

Warning Siren in the Middle of Shemoneh Esrei
Q: What should a person do if he is in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei and hears a warning siren for an incoming missile?
A: He should run to the bomb shelter and continue to Daven the Shemoneh Esrei there.  This is based on two factors: 1. It is a case of a life-threatening situation.  2. Walking in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei without speaking is not considered an interruption.  For example, if I am Davening the Shemoneh Esrei and a child is bothering me to the point that I cannot concentrate, I can move to another place.  Or if I am Davening by heart and I cannot remember "Ya'ale Ve-Yavo," I can go and get a Siddur. Speaking is forbidden, but there is no problem of moving if there is a need (Mishnah Berurah 104:2).  Therefore, if I am in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei and I hear a warning siren for an incoming missile, I should go to the bomb shelter without talking and continue to Daven where I left off (Piskei Teshuvot, Orach Chaim 104.  Shut Be'er Moshe 3:13.  Nes Lehitnoses by Ha-Rav Yoel Schwartz at the end, in the Q&A of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein during the Gulf War #39). 

Missiles Will Not Fall on the City of…
Q: A Rabbi said that missiles will not fall in a particular city.  Is it permissible to rely on him and not enter the bomb shelter?
A: In general, one should obey the directives of the Home Front Command.  But you should ask the Rabbi directly (These were the words of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievsky regarding Bnei Brak, based on the promise of the Chazon Ish.  However, I heard that Rav Kanievsky said that one should go into the bomb shelter in order to feel distress with the rest of Am Yisrael.  See Rashi on Shemot 17:12).

Torah Learning for Protection
Q: If I learn Torah in order to protect myself from the missiles, is it considered a violation of "One who makes unworthy use of the crown [of Torah] shall pass away" (Pirkei Avot 1:13)?
A: No.  It is considered learning Torah not for its own sake (see Nefesh Ha-Chaim, Sha'ar #4.  Shut Yechaveh Daat 3:73).

Feelings during Times of Distress
Q:  During this time, should we be frightened, recite Tehillim and Daven, based on the idea that we should cry out to Hashem during a time of distress, or should we not get excited and continue in our routine in order to show that we will not bow to terror and will not be scare us?
A: Continue on with strength and courage during our state of war, which began with the establishment of the State of Israel.  But a courageous person also Davens to Hashem, as we see with Yaakov Avinu before his meeting with Esav: He sent gifts, Davened and prepared for war (Rashi on Bereshit 32:9).

Helping Tzahal
Q: What can I do in order to help Tzahal be victorious?
A: Repent, Daven and give Tzedakah.  It is already certain, however, that Tzahal will be victorious, but you can help make the process faster and less costly. 

Sleeping in a Bomb Shelter
Q: It is permissible for me to sleep in a bomb shelter with my husband if other men are also there?
A: Yes, in a corner.

 Adding to the Prayers
Q: In light of the situation, should we add prayers to the Davening?
A: There is no need.  This is the normal state of war with our enemies, which has been going on since the establishment of the State of Israel.

Wedding in Ashdod
Q: Is it permissible to travel to a wedding in Ashdod (in Southern Israel) which is in range of the Kassam and Grad rockets or is it forbidden based on the commandment of "You shall surely safeguard your soul" (Devarim 4:15, 23:11)?
A: It is permissible.  There is a clear distinction in Halachah between a high-probability danger and a low-probability danger.  If this were not the case, we would not be able to travel in a car since every year, to our great distress, six hundred people are killed in car accidents in Israel.  Many more people have been killed in car accidents since the establishment of the State of Israel than all of the Kassam rockets and all of the terrorist attacks and all of the wars, even when they are added together.  We nonetheless travel in cars, obviously with the required cautions, since this is called "a non-frequent damage" in Halachah (Pesachim 8b).  In our time there are statistical tools to verify the frequency of a danger.  There is a halachic responsum on this subject by Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rabbi of "Ramat Elchanan" (neighborhood in Bnei Brak).  A student was learning in a yeshiva in "Yesha" (Yehudah, Shomron or Gush Katif) and his parents were concerned about the danger.  Rav Zilberstein proves that "a frequent damage" is five percent.  This means that if – G-d forbid – five percent of the students of the yeshiva were murdered, it would be forbidden to learn in that yeshiva.  This is obviously far from reality - Baruch Hashem - since the Kassam and Grad rockets are not killing five percent of the population.  In fact, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Yitzchak Isaac Herzog in Shut Heichal Yitzchak proves based on Shut Rabbi Akiva Eiger (#60) that a frequent danger is not five percent, but one in a thousand, but - Baruch Hashem - Kassam and Grad rockets are not killing one in a thousand people either.   
Furthermore, it is permissible to take a "small risk" for the sake of a Mitzvah and bringing joy to a groom and bride is a Mitzvah.  The Tiferet Yisrael discusses this principle on the Mishnah in Massechet Berachot at the end of chapter one.  There is a story about Rabbi Tarfon who said the Shema at night while reclining according to the view of Beit Shammai.  He endangered himself while doing so and the Sages admonished him for following the view of Beit Shammai instead of Beit Hillel.  But the question remains: Why did Rabbi Tarfon endanger himself, since reciting the Shema is not in the category of "Be killed and do not transgress," i.e. requiring one to sacrifice his life for its fulfillment?  The Tiferet Yisrael explains that it was permissible since there was only a small risk of danger.  There is an additional proof from when Rabbi Akiva was in jail, and he used the water he received for "Netilat Yadayim" (ritually washing his hands) instead of for drinking.  The halachic authorities ask: How could Rabbi Akiva endanger his life for this practice?  The answer is that Rabbi Akiva understood that he would obtain more water, the danger he was taking was extremely minute and it is permissible to take a small risk for a Mitzvah.  This is also the ruling found in "Pitchei Teshuvah" (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 157).
In conclusion:
a.    A non-frequent danger is not considered a danger according to Halachah and the danger in Ashdod is a non-frequent one.
b.    It is permissible to take a minimal risk for a Mitzvah and bringing joy to a groom and bride is a Mitzvah.

The Jews Who Were Killed in Terrorist Attack in Pittsburgh are Supremely Holy

Q: Are the Jews who were killed in the terrorist attack in Pittsburgh considered holy?  Does it make a difference that they were in a non-Orthodox synagogue?
A: They are certainly holy and they died sanctifying Hashem's Name.  There are 4 levels of a Jew being called "Holy":
1. The Chatam Sofer #333, based on Sahedrin 47, says that if a Jew is killed by a non-Jew in a robbery he is called "Holy".  See Rashi on Tehillin 79:2. 
2. In Shut Maharil #99, based on Semachot 2:11, it says that if a Jew is killed because he is a Jew, all of his transgressions are forgiven, he died sanctifying Hashem's Name and he is supremely holy.  This is what those murdered in the Holocaust are called.  See also Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei Ha-Torah 5:4.  Rama, Yoreh Deah 340:5.  Taz, ibid. 
3. At a higher level is one who is killed because he refuses to worship idols, as explained in Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei Ha-Torah Chapter 5. 
4. And on the highest level is a soldier who risks his life to save Jews. No one can compare to him.  Pesachim 50a.  
The first two categories apply to one who is killed in a terrorist attack, and the fourth category perhaps applies to a terror victim who lives in Eretz Yisrael (as every Jew living in Eretz Yisrael is considered a "soldier").
In sum: May the souls of those killed in Pittsburgh be bound up in the bonds of the living with all of those who died sanctifying Hashem's Name.