Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #373

The Rebbe as Mashiach
Q: How is it possible to say that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is not the Mashiach if he himself said that he is?
A: I do not know if he said this.  In any event, it does not say in the Torah that the Halachah always follows the last Lubavitcher Rebbe.  Rather, as in the case of opinions of all Rabbis, there are general principles that determine how to decide if there is a dispute.

Rules for Soldier Shooting His Gun
Q: The rules for when a soldier may shoot his gun do not make sense.  He has to think 10 times before shooting!
A: This is how it is in all the Western World.  We are signatories on the Geneva Convention, and we are obligated to follow those rules (even if some of them are incorrect), since we need international agreement in these areas, and the gain is greater than the loss.

Theatrical Megilah Reading
Q: There is a new phenomenon of Megilah reading with different voices and sounds, including naying horses, in order to bring the Megilah "to life".  Is this a good idea?
A: It is not good.  The Megilah reading is a Mitzvah which is to be fulfilled with awe of holiness, "Blessed are You Hashem, our G-d, King of the World, who has sanctified us with His Mitzvot…".  It is not a theater or circus.  What makes the Megilah "alive" is the saving of the Nation of Israel from death.  

Bringing Book to Wedding
Q: I see that Yeshiva students bring books to wedding and learn there.  Is this proper?
A: On condition that it is not at the expense of the main reason one attends a wedding, which is bringing joy to the groom and bride.  It is obviously proper to bring a book to learn when traveling to and from the wedding, and also during breaks.  There are however Gedolei Yisrael who refrain from bring books out of a fear that they will be so involved in the learning that they will forget to bring joy to the groom and bride (Ha-Rav Shmuel David Ha-Cohain Friedman, Magid Shiur in Kehal Shomrei Emunah and Kol Ha-Lashon, related that he heard from his father-in-law, Ha-Rav Feivel Sofer, who merited serving as the Shamash of Ha-Admor Reb Hershele of Spinka for 10 years, that the Admor would say that he does not bring a Sefer to a wedding, since the whole reason he is attending is to participate in his friend's, student's or relative's Simchah.  And if he is absorbed in learning, his thoughts are far away from participating in the Simchah.  If he did have some free time during the wedding, it was impossible for him to sit by idly.  He therefore looked at the guests at the Simchah, and tried to find a G-d-fearing Jew and learn a proper character trait or behavior from him.  If he did not find such a person, he looked at someone and learned how not to act.  In the introduction to the book 'Sedei Tzofim' on Moad Katan-Chagigah).      

Prayer for the Peace of the State of Israel
Q: Who wrote the Prayer for the Peace of the State of Israel?
A: The Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav Yitzchak Isaac Herzog.  He sent it to Shai Agnon to be edited.

Lying in Survey
Q: Is it permissible for me to lie in a survey about the elections in order to strength a particular party?
A: No.

Wedding or House of Mourning
Q: If I am unable to go to both, which is preferable – to go to a wedding or to comfort a mourner?
A: If one of them is your family, then family takes precedence.  If not, then go to where you are most needed.  If you are needed equally in both places, then it is preferable to comfort a mourner.  Kohelet 7:2.

Missionary Literature
Q: I received a booklet from Missionaries with verses from the Tanach.  I heard that Ha-Rav said to throw such material in the garbage.  Should I throw it out immediately or can I bring it home and show my children that I am throwing it out?
A: Show your children (One time in the Yeshiva, Ha-Rav brought a booklet like this and threw it out in front of the students – M.T.).

Learning Torah with Screaming
Q: It is permissible to learn Torah with screaming?
A: If it does not bother others.

Criminal Donating Money to Shul
Q: In our Shul, a criminal made a large donation.  Is it permissible to benefit from the money which he received through committing a crime?
A: No.  But ask the Rabbi there.