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Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #368


Leaning on Car
Q: Is it permissible to lean on a car of someone who you do not know?
A: You must ask permission.

Cremation
Q: Rona Ramon z"l wrote in her will that she wanted to be cremated in order to spare her children from attending yet another funeral of their family (Her husband astronaut Ilan Ramon was killed when the Columbia space shuttle exploded, and their oldest son Assaf, an Israeli fighter pilot, was killed when his place crashed).  Should they listen to her?
A: All of the Poskim write that it is forbidden to listen to the wishes of someone who asks to be cremated (Gesher Ha-Chaim Volume 1 16:9.  See Shut Seredei Aish 2:123-124.  Shut Melamed Le-Hoil 2:113-114), but we do not interfere with a family's matter unless they come and ask us.   

Where is Hashem
Q: Where is Hashem during all of the terrorist attacks?
A: This same question can obviously be asked regarding the Holocaust and Pogroms.  But where is your contract with Hashem that such things will not occur?!  Rather we must increase our faith in Hashem and our courage.

Security Situation
Q: As Yeshiva students, what can we do in light of the difficult security situation?
A: 1. Increase your Emunah and courage.  2. Thank Hashem that the security situation is 99.99% great.  3. Ask your Ra"m in your Yeshiva. 

Learning Torah and Terrorist Attacks
Q: It is difficult for me to learn Torah when I think about the terrorist attacks.
A: B"H you have a pure soul.  You should increase your Emunah in Hashem and add Torah learning and Mitzvot, which adds to our protection.  And thank Hashem that almost everything is good.

Second Day of Yom Tov
Q: If someone purchases an apartment in Israel but still lives outside of Israel, is he required to keep two days of Yom Tov?
A: Yes, in the meantime.  Be-Ezrat Hashem, he should make Aliyah soon (A student of Ha-Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik would often visit Eretz Yisrael and bought an apartment here.  He asked Rav Soloveitchik if he still had to keep two days of Yom Tov.  He responded: Yes, nothing has changed except that you now have to pay taxes to the Israeli Government for your apartment.  Divrei Ha-Rav, p. 173-174).

Emendations of the Vilna Shas
Q: Who emended the Vilna Shas?
A: Ha-Rav Shlomo Cohen, who was the Av Beit Din in Vilna.  His commentary "Cheshek Shlomo" which explains his emendations, is printed at the end of the Gemara.  He also wrote Shut Binyan Shlomo, and supported the Mizrachi.  When Herzl came to Vilna, he came out to greet him with a Sefer Torah like greeting a king.  And Ha-Rav Yechezkel Avramsky related that it is known that Reb Shlom'le's house was full of Zionism (Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah - Eretz Yisrael pp. 212-213.  And Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter once related that when he learned in Yeshiva University high school, he had a Ra"m named Ha-Rav Markelos, who was a grandson of Ha-Rav Shlomo Cohen.  Rav Markelos said that there was a tradition in his family that his grandfather emended the Gemara by heart, since he was a genius and knew the entire Gemara, Rashi and Tosafot by heart, and had no need to check other manuscripts.  Based on this, Rav Schachter explained why in the Vilna Shas, unlike other printings, every 50 pages or so there is mistakenly a letter Shin instead of a Samech, or visa-versa, since Lithuanian Jews switch the letters Shin and Sin, and this is the way Rav Shlomo Cohen spoke.  Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein also spoke this way and instead of saying "Beit Midrash", he would say "Beit Midras").

Tears During Davening
Q: Sometimes during the Davening of Shabbat night, I have tears in my eyes because of the enjoyment of the Davening and thirst for Hashem.  Is this permissible?
A: Yes.  The Shulchan Aruch (Rama, Orach Chaim 288:1) writes that this is what Rabbi Akiva did.

The Temple Mount is in Our Hands
Q: Is the Temple Mount still under Israeli control in our days?
A: Certainly.  Ask any soldier stationed there. 

Eating at Kiddush
Q: If I attend a Kiddush, am I obligated to eat if I am strict not to eat certain Kosher certifications?
A: A person is not obligated to eat everything, but he should not come to a place and act as if the food is not Kosher.  It is preferable not to attend (Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein would eat at every Kiddush he attend in order to be particular to honor the host.  In the book 'Darchei Moshe' Volume 1, p. 157).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #367


Collecting Brass Casings of Bullets in the Army
Q: Is it permissible for me to collect the brass casings of bullets which remain on the army's shooting range, after they have cleaned it?
A: Brass is very expensive.  The army recycles it.  It is possible that what was not collected in not considered abandoned (Hefker) since they will collect it the next time.  You should therefore refrain from taking any or ask permission from the army.

Dirt on Rav's Shirt
Q: Is it permissible to point out to one's Rav that he has dirt on his clothing?
A: Yes.  With humility.

Wiping Off Sweat with Tzitzit
Q: It is permissible to wipe off sweat with one's Tzitzit?
A: No.  It is forbidden to use them in a manner which disgraces them.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 21:1-2.  The same applies to drying one's hands or cleaning one's glasses with them.  See a long list of such forbidden uses in Piskei Teshuvot 21:1.

Water of Eretz Yisrael
Q: Is it preferable to drink water of Eretz Yisrael than water from outside of Israel, i.e. from Turkey?
A: Yes.  The holiness of the Land.  See Bach, Orach Chaim #208 (Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu was once giving a talk outside of Israel and they brought him a bottle of water and a plastic cup.  He spoke for 45 minutes and did not drink anything.  Someone came and poured him the cup of water but he still did not drink.  At the end of the talk, Rav Eliyahu asked his assistant for a cup of water.  Someone asked him why he didn't drink the water which was given to him.  He said: I only drink water from Eretz Yisrael.  After all, water is life and one only receives true life in Eretz Yisrael.  In the book "Avihem Shel Yisrael" Volume 2, pp. 95-96).

Blessing of Guest in Hotel or Restaurant
Q: Does a guest in a hotel or someone eating in a restaurant recite the Birkat Orach (Blessing of a Guest) in the Birkat Ha-Mazon?
A: No.  He is not a guest but rather a paying customer.

Torah Scholar Riding on Bike
Q: Is it permissible for a Torah scholar to ride on a bike or does it disrespect his position?
A: It depends on the custom in one's area.  There were Torah scholars who rode on horses, donkeys and camels (In the book "Penini Rabbenu Ha-Kehilot Yaakov" [p. 128], it is written in the name of the Steipler Gaon that a Torah scholar should not ride on a bike.  But in the book "Asaf Ha-Mazkir" [p. 10], Ha-Rav Meir Mazuz brings various Torah scholars who would ride on bikes.  Rav Aviner rides a bike in Beit El where he is the Rav.  Once someone came to see the community with the thought of moving there.  Rav Aviner rode by and someone pointed out that this was the Rav.  The person said: If so, this is where I want to live!).

Conversion of Pregnant Woman
Q: If a woman who is pregnant converts, what is the status of the baby when he/she is born?
A: He/she has the status of a convert (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 268:6).

Kissing Grave
Q: What is the source of kissing a grave?
A: There are those who do so in a respectful manner when they leave (Nitei Gavriel – Avelut 67:21).

Mitzvah of Tzitzit Every Moment
Q: Is the Mitzvah of wearing Tzitzit one continuous Mitzvah or a new Mitzvah every single moment?
A: One fulfills the Mitzvah each and every moment he is wearing them (Shut Maharach Or Zarua #1.  Shut Terumat Ha-Deshen #44).