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Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #371


Which Transgression is Worse
Q: Which transgression is worse between these two…?
A: It is forbidden to ask such question.  "We will listen and we will perform everything G-d told us" (Shemot 24:7).

Shidduch with Someone Who Visits Har Ha-Bayit
Q: I went on a Shidduch with a wonderful guy and he just told me he visits the Temple Mount.  Should I break it off?
A: No.  One needs Ahavat Yisrael.

Short Cut through Kotel Plaza
Q: Is it permissible to take a short cut through the Kotel Plaza, or is it forbidden just as it is forbidden to take a short cut through a Shul?
A: It is permissible.  It does not have the holiness of a Shul.  Only the cordoned off area is considered a Shul.

Spitting During Aleinu
Q: Is there an obligation to spit during Aleinu when one says "To nonsense and emptiness"?
A: No.  There are some, such as Chabad Chasidim, to belittle idol worship (Taz, Yoreh Deah 179:5).  Others refrain from doing so because it is impolite and an infringement on the holiness of the Shul (It is related in the book "She'eilat Rav" [Volume 1 p. 232] that Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv would make a movement with his lips as if he was spitting, but would not actually spit.  And it says in the book "Sefer Ha-Gan" that spitting is defined as sticking one's tongue out a bit, and this was what Ha-Admor Imrei Sofer of Erlau would do and spit a little bit.  Halichot Ve-Hanhagot Imrei Sofer Volume 1, p. 86 and in note #3.  Me-Mechitzat Zekeini p. 234.  And a woman once called Ha-Rav Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenazi, Rav of Kefar Chabad, and said that she forgot to spit during Aleinu.  He responded: Spit now.  In the book "Ha-Rav Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenzai p. 686).

Women Asking for Tzedakah in Shul
Q: In our Shul, women enter the men's area during the Davening to collect Tzedakah.  All of our requests for them to stop have not helped, nor have our threats to call the police.  What should we do?
A: Either call the police or put a guard at the door.

Yawning
Q: Is it true that one must cover one's mouth when he yawns so that his soul doesn't come out of his body?
A: Nonsense.  It is a superstition with Muslim roots that a yawn comes from Satan.  One should cover his mouth, however, because it suggests boredom and is impolite.  In actuality, there is no scientific explanation why we yawn.  There is, however, an explanation of "Mirror neuron" (why others yawn when they see someone else yawn).  By the way, animals also yawn.

Atonement for Speaking Ill of Someone in Public
Q: I spoke ill of a Torah scholar in public.  I apologized to him and he accepted my apology.  Do I have to write an apology letter to all those who heard it?
A: Yes.  A transgression in public must be atoned for in public.

Hidden Recording
Q: Is it permissible for me to record a discussion I have with a Rabbi without his knowledge?
A: No.  It is deceitful.  And the same applies to any person, not only a Rabbi. 

Book of Yonah
Q: Did the story of Yonah actually happen or is it a parable, as someone told me?
A: It is real (See Ha-Rav's commentary of the Book of Yonah).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #370


Additional Citizenship
Q: Is it worthwhile to apply for an additional citizenship, beside Israeli citizenship, since in the past having citizenship in another country saved Jews' lives?
A: No.  Israel is the safest place in the world for Jews.  Baruch Hashem, we have Tzahal, the dedicated messenger of Hashem.  In the year 5773, an Avreich send a letter to Ha-Rav Chaim Kaniensky asking if he should apply for British passports for his family (his parents were British citizens), out of a fear for what the Iranians would do to Israel.  Rav Kanievsky responded with the words of the Pesach Hagadah: "This [promise] is what has stood by our forefathers and by us!   For not one alone has risen against us to destroy us but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us, and The Holy One, Blessed Be He, saves us from their hand"!

Walking Under Ladder
Q: Is it forbidden to walk under a ladder?
A: It is a Christian superstition, since the form of the ladder creates a triangle, and a trinity is holy to them.  It is therefore forbidden for them to impinge upon it.  One should certainly be careful when one walks under a ladder so that it, or an object resting it, does not fall on him (Ner Be-Ishon Laila p. 234).

Medical Experiment
Q: Is it permissible for me to participate in a medical experiment for money, in which they extract some of my blood and then put it back without the white blood cells, or is it forbidden on account of the prohibition of wounding oneself?
A: It is permissible.  1. It is a small hole and not a wound, and it will heal.  2. It is a medical need.

Swiping the Letters of a Sefer Torah
Q: I received an Aliyah to the Torah and the Baal Keriyah told me not to swipe my Talit on the letters of the Torah but rather on the white part of the parchment.  Is he correct?
A: Yes.  There is fear of erasing the letters and invalidating the Sefer Torah, erasing Hashem's Name which is a violation of "Do not do so to Hashem your God" (Devarim 12:4) and, on Shabbat, of desecrating Shabbat by erasing (Shut Tzvi Tiferet of the Darchei Teshuvah #99 in the name of the Ha-Admor Sar Shalom of Belz.  Shut Hitorerut Teshuvah #365.  And so too in Nimukei Orach Chaim #139 that there is no halachah or act of piety involving kissing the letters themselves.  And in Shaarei Chaim [Shaar 4 #20] it is brought that the Shineva Rebbe, son of the Divrei Chaim, was careful to kiss the parchment where there was no writing.  Shaarim Metzuyanim Be-Halachah #23 ot 2.  The Admor of Erlau was also very particular regarding this.  Halichot Ve-Hanhagot Imrei Sofer Volume 1, p. 79 and footnote #18.  And Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach said that there is no need to even kiss the Sefer Torah.  He would bend down and kiss the Torah mantle.  Ve-Alehu Lo Yibol Volume 1, pp. 99-100.  Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein, however, would swipe his Talit on the text itself.  Masoret Moshe Volume 3, p. 122).

Adding Name
Q: How does one add a name for an ill person?
A: 1. The prayer printed at the end of some editions of Tehilim.  2. Mi She-Beirach during an Aliyah, and mention the additional name.

Tachanun on the Day of Making Aliyah
Q: Should one recite Tachanun on the day he makes Aliyah,?
A: No.  And some say that the entire Minyan should not recite it.  The Rambam established a holiday on the day he made Aliyah (Ha-Rav Menashe Klein - the Ungavare Rav - also responded this way to the Admor of Slonim, since one who dwells in Eretz Israel does so without sin [Ketubot 111], and it is like a groom whose transgressions are forgiven, and therefore the Minyan does not recite Tanchanun.  Shut Mishneh Halachot 11:111.  This is unlike the opinion of Ha-Rav Chaim Kaniesky who holds that one should recite Tanchanun on the day of making Aliyah.  Le-Binyamin Amar p. 19).

Bald Woman
Q: Is a bald woman required to cover her head?
A: Yes.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #369


Traveling Outside of Israel
Q: Religious people are so strict about every facet of Kashrut but freely violate the prohibition of traveling outside of Israel.  How is this?  Why don't Rabbis raise their voices about this?  There are even advertisements for vacations outside of Israel in the weekly Parashah sheets distributed in Shuls!
A: Rabbis do raise their voices about it, but the Parashah sheets do not publish their admonishments (There was once a letter from a reader in one of the Parashah sheets which said: I don't understand – there was an article from Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu stating that it is forbidden to leave Israel for a vacation and below it there was an advertisement for trips outside of Israel. A contradiction on the same page!  They answered him: There is no contradiction. The article comes from the Halachaha department and the ad comes from the advertisement department…).

Beit Ha-Mikdash and Righteousness
Q: Will everyone be a Tzadik in the time of the Beit Ha-Mikdash?
A: Yes.
Q: Will we be Tzadikim in merit of the Beit Ha-Mikdash, or will the Beit Ha-Mikdash be built in merit of us being Tzadikim?
A: The Beit Ha-Mikdash was destroyed because of our transgressions and will be built because of our merits. 

Placing Objects on Sefarim
Q: I see G-d-fearing people place various objects such as pencils, glasses, etc. on Sefarim.  What is the rationale for doing so?
A: There is no rationale.  It is forbidden.

Avodat Hashem Versus Honoring Parents
Q: I have become close to Chasidut.  I grew long Peyot, do not shave, wear a long jacket, etc.  My parents are opposed because it is not our family's tradition.  What should I do?
A: 1. There is no obligation of honoring parents when it comes to Avodat Hashem.  Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Yoreh Deah 240:25.  Pitchei Teshuvah #22.  2. You should obviously not force anything on your parents.  3. You should pacify them (A Mitnaged father once came to complain about his son to Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.  His son had become Chasidic and wanted to marry into a Chasidic family.  He wanted Rav Shlomo Zalman to tell his son that he was violating Kibud Av Ve-Em.  Rav Shlomo Zalman said: I have an In-law whose name is Rav Nachum Yitzchak Frank [Posek for the Edah Ha-Charedit and a respected Breslover Chasid in Jerusalem], go and ask him what the Chazon Ish Paskened for him regarding this question.  The father stubbornly asked a second time: But what does Ha-Rav Pasken?  Rav Shlomo Zalman said: I already answered you.  Ask my in-law R' Nachum Yitzchak!  It was hard for the father to digest the answer and thought that perhaps Rav Shlomo Zalman did not want to give a strict ruling in front of his son, so he decided to call Rav Shlomo Zalman when he was alone.  When he began to ask his question, Rav Shlomo Zalman recognized his voice, and grudgingly said: I already Paskened for you!  And this was the end of the conversation.  The reason for this was that Rav Nachum Yitzchak's father was upset when his son became Chasidic, and he went to the Chazon Ish to ask about it.  The Chazon Ish said in brief: There is no Kibud Av in matters of Avodat Hashem.  In the book 'Ha-Chasidut Al Ha-Elyona' Volume 1, p. 44-45, 202).

Thank You for Text Message Answer
Q: When I receive an answer from Ha-Rav to a text message question, should I send a thank you, or on the contrary does it just add more text messages and is a burden?
A: Indeed, there is no need.

Umbilical Cord
Q: When the piece of the umbilical cord falls out of a baby, it is permissible to throw it out or does it need to be buried?
A: Throw it out.

Shema at Time of Death
Q: What is the source for what the Poskim say that one should recite Shema at the time of his soul departing?
A: It is brought in the Gesher Ha-Chaim (2:3) but I am unaware of an ancient source for it, since although Rabbi Akiva recited it while dying, he did on since it was the time to recite Keriat Shema (Berachot 61b).

Shehechiyanu on New Train Station
Q: There is a new train station near of house.  Is it permissible to recite Shehechiyanu?
A: Yes.  It is good news (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 222:1).