Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #381

Shehechiyanu on Game
Q: I am a kid and received as a gift a game I really love.  Do I recite Shehechiyanu?
A: Yes (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 223:3).

Helping an Eldery Woman Stand Up
Q: [Question from a man]: Is it permissible to give an elderly woman a hand if she is unable to get up from a bench?
A: It is permissible under two conditions: 1. She asks for the help.  2. There is no woman anywhere around to help her (But see Shut Mishneh Halachot 5:142).

Gum in Restroom
Q: Is it permissible to chew gum in the restroom?
A: Yes.  The blessing should obviously be recited outside of the restroom.

Q: What should I do if I am depressed?
A: Involved yourself with things that bring you happiness, such as listening to classes, music, physical activity, etc.  But if the situation becomes more severe or there is no improvement, turn to a psychologist, and may Hashem help you.

Symbol of Bnei Akiva
Q: The symbol of Bnei Akiva has the Ten Commandments with rounded tops.  Shouldn't it be changed so that the tops are squared off?
A: The Ten Commandments were indeed square.  Baba Batra 14a.  See Yerushalami Shekalim.  It seems that rounding off the Ten Commandments on top was influenced by Christian artists.  But since we are simply discussing a symbol and not the exact tablets, there is no problem to leave it as most of Am Yisrael does (R' Osher Rata told me that Ha-Rav Chaim Druckman, Rav of Bnei Akiva, was once asked about this issue, and he answered that they indeed should be square but it is difficult to change it since this symbol was been accepted and known for many years.  The Lubavichter Rebbe was strongly opposed to using the round design.  Shaarei Halachah U-Minhag, vol. 1 p. 199.  And the same is true of the Steipler Gaon.  Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 2:535.  And when Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was asked about the shape of the Ten Commandments on a Torah Ark being built, he answered that one should not change the accepted custom and they should be rounded on top.  Ha-Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach similarly said that most Shuls he had seen have rounded Tablets, and even though he does not know the reason, since they are square in reality, but the custom is Israel is Halachah.  He added, however, that he rescinded his position after hearing in the name of the Steipler that they are to be square.  Miktavim U-Ma'arim Volume 1 #94.  Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievsky said, however, that one should not change the accepted custom and they should be round.  Yisa Yosef 4:36.   And Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch wrote that while it is preferable to use the square design, it is permissible to use the round design since it is not an exact depiction but rather merely a symbol.  Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot ibid.  And when Ha-Rav Yitzchak Yosef was appointed as Sefardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, he was given a gift by the Jewish community in Turkey: a gold breastplate in the shape of the Ten Commandments hanging from a chain.  Rav Yosef wore it around his neck when he met the Pope as the Jewish response to the gold cross worn by the Pope.  The Tablets were rounded on top).

Purim Greater than Shabbat
Q: Is it true that Purim is holier than Shabbat and all the other holidays?
A: No.  But obviously it has its uniqueness. 

Stance of Rabbi Which Others Reject
Q: Isn't there a problem when a Rabbi takes a stance on an issue which almost everyone else rejects?
A: This was indeed the problem of Avraham Ha-Ivri ("The Hebrew" which can also indicate being "on the other side"), who was on one side (of believing in one G-d) while the entire world was on the other side.  But in the end, it all worked out.  Don't just follow the herd.

Who's Right – Us or Satmar
Q: How can we know that we are right in our philosophy and not Satmar?
A:  There are things we are right about, as our eyes can see: Building Eretz Yisrael, the return of Am Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael, the establishment of the State of Israel, the wars of Israel.  And there are things which Satmar is right about, as our eyes can see: Fulfilling all of the Mitzvot, even the seemingly light ones, and dedicating every free moment to learning Torah.

Accident on Account of Cell Phone
Q: Someone was on his cell phone while driving and caused an accident, and was miraculously saved.  Does he recite Ha-Gomel?
A: It is a dispute, since he is guilty for the accident.  He should therefore recite the blessing without Shem U-Malchut (see Shut Avnei Derech of Ha-Rav Elchanan Printz Volume 8 #176).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #380

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a day.  Here's a sample:
Name of Eliezer
Q: Why isn't Eliezer's name mentioned in the entire story of him being sent by Avraham Avinu to find wife for Yitzchak Avinu?
A: Because he was not independent but rather an agent of Avraham Avinu (And Ha-Rav Yechezkel Levenstein once answered that it was not for a lack of honor.  On the contrary, he was given the most honorable of titles: "Servant of Avraham".  Peninim Mi-Shulchan Gavoha - Bereshit p. 121).

Forgotten Items in Shul
Q: What should we do with the piles of items which were forgotten in our Shul?
A: Hang a sign that they will be disposed of in two weeks (a person uses the Shul based on this understanding).

Hitler, may his name be blotted out
Q: Is it true that Hitler did not commit suicide in the year 5705 but rather fled and hid in various countries?
A: These rumors were spread by Stalin to confuse the West.  This issue was researched at length and it was clearly concluded in 5778 that he died in 5705, may his name be blotted out.

Flag on Shabbat
Q: Is a flag Muktzeh on Shabbat?
A: No.

Sitting in Bus Stop
Q: Is it permissible for me to sit on the bench in a bus stop if I do not intend to ride the bus?
A: Yes.  On condition that you are not taking the place of someone who is planning to ride the bus.

Satmar Rebbe and the World to Come
Q: Does the Satmar Rebbe have a place in the World to Come, or does he not, because he separated himself from the community?
A: He certainly does!  And you must perform Teshuvah for asking such a question! (see the introduction to our book "Alo Naale").

Q: Is it permissible to say aa-aa-men at the end of a blessing when it fits the tune?
A: No.  It distorts the word.

Cell Phone in Pocket During Davening
Q: Is it permissible to leave a cell phone in my pocket during Davening?
A: With two conditions: 1. You do not use it at all.  2. The ringer is off.

Arab Children during Military Activities
Q: I am a combat solider.  Sometimes during military activities in Arab homes, there are young children who are very scared.  I thought about giving them candy.  Is it a good idea?
A: Certainly.  Hashem is merciful to all of his creations.  Obviously, you should only do this with your officer's permission.

Books of Heresy
Q: Is it permissible to steal books of heresy from a book store and burn them at home?
A: No!  And you need to learn a lot of Mesilat Yesharim.