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Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #389


Charedi Dress
Q: What is the reason that there are Rabbis in our [Religious-Zionist] community who dress like Charedim?
A: 1. It is the traditional dress.  2.  "Our community" is the Nation of Israel.

Mosquito on Shabbat
Q: A mosquito is a potentially lethal bug.  Is it permissible to kill one on Shabbat?
A: No.  1. Put on bug-repellant.  2. In Eretz Israel, it is not a lethal bug.

Rashi's Father
Q: It is true that Rashi began his commentary on the Torah "Rabbi Yitzchak said" in order to honor his father, Yitzchak?
A: Perhaps (The Taz in his commentary 'Divrei David' on Rashi points out in the name of an ancient book that Rashi's first question of why the Torah began with the Creation of the World and not the first Mitzvah is brought in the Midrash but not in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak.  Some explain that Rashi's father was not a great Torah scholar, and Rashi told him to ask a question which he would bring in his name at the beginning of his commentary.  But the Taz explains that this is not correct, since Rashi brings a few comments regarding complex issues in his father's name.  For example, in his commentary on the Gemara Avodah Zarah 75a.  Ha-Rav David Shevel in his edition of the Divrei David writes that he found a manuscript of the Midash which does bring the above-question in the name of a Rabbi Yitzchak, and he suggests that Rashi brought this question in the name of the questioner, which he seldom does, in order to begin the commentary with Rabbi Yitzchak, which is also his father's name, in order to honor him).      

Newspaper Subscription
Q: I have a newspaper subscription.  Can I give the newspaper to a friend after I read it?
A: Yes.  Just as in the case of a book you bought.

Strange Kosher Food
Q: Is it permissible to attend a Kosher meal at a Siyum which includes cow udders, grasshoppers, Buffalo and red deer?
A: It is permissible.  This is obviously on the condition that it is under reliable Kosher supervision.  Grasshoppers are only permissible for Yemenite Jews.

Blessing on Drugs
Q: What blessing does one recite for taking drugs?  After all, it is forbidden to benefit from anything in the world without a blessing?
A: One does not recite a blessing on a prohibition, such as eating pork, even if one enjoys eating it, or on murdering someone, even if one enjoys it, and certainly not on taking drugs (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 196:1).

Medicinal Marijuana on Shabbat
Q: What does a suffering person who was prescribed the use of medical marijuana do on Shabbat?
A: The Tzomet Institute of Halacha and technology has a machine which can be used on Shabbat.

Microphone at Wedding
Q: When Ha-Rav recites the blessings under a Chupa, why doesn’t he use a microphone?
A: Many Poskim rule that hearing something through a microphone is not considered hearing, and a Minyan must hear the blessings.

Daven for Ill in China
Q: Should we Daven for those who are sick with the Coronavirus in China?
A: Yes.  "Hashem has mercy on all His creatures" (Tehillim 145:9).  Obviously, there are worse things in the world, such as the fact that 30,000 children die each day in the world on account of hunger.

Reading about Holocaust
Q: Is reading about the Holocaust considered "Bitul Torah"?
A: It is not Torah, but it is a Mitzvah to read about it.  It is a personal decision how much time one devotes to this.

Rav Aviner to President Putin: Do Not be Insulted, You are Not a King


Question: The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin is arriving in Israel.  If someone sees him should he recite the blessing of "Baruch…She-Natan Michvodo Le-Vasar Ve-Dam - Blessed are You…who has given of His glory to flesh and blood"? (In the Gemara in Berachot 58a, our Rabbis teach that one who sees a non-Jewish king recites the blessing.  It is recorded in the Rambam, Hilchot Berachot 10:11 and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 224:8.   The Chatam Sofer, Orach Chaim #159, rules that even if one sees the king outside of his area of "rule," one must still recite the appropriate blessing).  

Answer: No, the President of the Russia is not a king. 
Halachic authorities mention four criteria in order to be considered a king for this purpose:
1. One must be the absolute ruler of his kingdom or country (Orchot Chaim in name of Sefer Ha-Eshkol, Hilchot Berachot #49, Shut Ha-Radvaz vol. 1 #296).  The President of the Russia, but he does not have absolute authority.  The Kremlin also has some power.
2.  The king must have the ability to administer capital punishment (Shut Chatam Sofer ibid.).  The President of Russia does not possess this power.  While he does have the power to grant life by issuing a pardon, he does not possess the power of death (Shut Be’er Moshe of Rav Moshe Stern vol. 2, # 9).  If he frees Na'ama Yissachar from a Russia prison, we can discuss this further… 
3.  The king must have royal clothing.  President Putin wears a suit like everyone else (Shut Yehaveh Da’at, vol. 2, #28 and Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot vol. 2, #139).  
4. The king must have an entourage (see Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot ibid.  Rav Sternbuch writes there that he heard that Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, the great Rav of Yerushalayim before the establishment of the State, once had a private meeting in a tent with the King of Jordan and he recited this blessing even though he was without his entourage).  While President Putin is traveling with 400 people, most of them are for his protection.

The President of Russia is one of the most powerful countries of the world is visiting the tiny State of Israel, as well as many world leaders, and some people say that this is not "Atchalta De-Geulah – the beginning of the Redemption." 
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Shut Minchat Shlomo (the last responsum in vol. 1) writes that one is obligated to recite four blessings when the Messiah arrives: 1. "Baruch…Chacham Ha-Razim – Blessed are You…Knowers of secrets" which is recited when seeing 600,000 Jews together and certainly at least this many Jews will go out to greet the Messiah.  2. "Baruch…She-Chalak Mechomato Lirei'av - Blessed are You…who has appointed of His knowledge to those who fear him" which is recited when seeing an outstanding Torah scholar and the Messiah will certainly fit this criteria.  3. "Baruch…She-Chalak Michvodo Lirei'av- Blessed are You…who has appointed of His glory to those who fear him" which is recited when seeing a Jewish king.  4. "Shechechiyanu" – Blessing Hashem for having arrived at this moment.  We still are waiting for this time to arrive, but we are continuing to advance.  After all, the President of Russia and many world leaders are visiting the State of Israel.

Therefore, instead of reciting a blessing over President Putin, I recommend reciting two prayers for the Nation of Israel which we recite every day before the Shema with extra proper intention: "Blessed are You, Hashem, who chooses His Nation Israel with Love" and "Blessed are You, Hashem, who loves His Nation Israel."

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #388


Etrog Jam
Q: What is the source that Etrog jam helps a woman to have an easy delivery?
A: There is no ancient source.

Minhag of Divorced Woman
Q: I am divorced.  Should I continue the customs of my former husband or return to the customs of my father?
A: If you do not have older children, return to your father's customs.  If you have older children and they are used to your former husband's customs, you should continue to perform them so there is uniformity in your house.

Dispute over Wig
Q: I cover my hair with a wig but my husband does not like it.  What should I do?
A: He should wear what he wants, and you should not give him orders about his dress, and you should dress the way you want, and he should not give you orders about your dress.
A: But he claims that I do not understand him?
A: Indeed, and he does not understand you.  Perhaps you two should go to marriage counseling, and we hope that he will be able to understand what every 10 year old child understands, i.e. to be objective.

Siyum Ha-Shas
Q: We are planning to attend the Siyum Ha-Shas at Binyanei Ha-Uma in Yerushalayim, and then go and eat in a restaurant.  Is that considered a Seudat Mitzvah?
A: Yes.  It is possible to have a Seudah for a Siyum in another place.  Shut Maharam Brisk 1:133.

Cohanim's Shoes
Q: When Cohanim take off their shoes for Birkat Cohanim, should they put them under their chairs or leave them outside the sanctuary?
A: Most important is that they are not seen.

Calling from Different Phone Number
Q: I keep calling someone but they do not pick up for me.  Can I call them from a different number?
A: Genivat Da'at (deception).

Praising Student in Front of the Class
Q: Is it permissible for me to praise a student in front of the class for learning well?
A: One needs to be very careful, since it can cause the weaker students to feel frustrated.

Non-Hebrew Words in Rashi
Q: Do the non-Hebrew words in Rashi have the same holiness as the Hebrew words?
A: They have similar holiness as the Aramaic translation of Onkelos but a little less since Onkelos was given at Mt. Sinai (Ha-Rav Chaneh Halberstan, Av Beit Din Kalashitz, said that his holy grandfather, the Shinova Rav, was very particular to pronounce the non-Hebrew words when learning Rashi, since they have the same level of holiness as the rest of Rashi.  And if he heard someone skip over those words, he would tell them to go back and pronounce them.  In the book "Divrei Chaneh Ha-Shalem" p. 453.  And see the book "Otzar Lazei Rashi" which explains all of the non-Hebrew words in Rashi).

Shul in Bomb Shelter
Q: If we have a Shul in the bomb shelter of our building, does it have the holiness of a Shul?
A: No.  It is still a bomb shelter.

Celebrating after Qasem Soleimani's Death


With America and the entire world riveted by the US Military's success in assassinating Qasem Soleimani, Iran's senior military officer, we felt it important to bring you Rav Aviner's response to the death of Yassir Arafat (in 5765).

When Your Enemy Falls, Do Not Rejoice?

It is true that it says in Mishlei (24:17): "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice," but there are enemies and there are Enemies.

The Talmud in Megillah (16a) relates that when Mordechai was led around on the horse by Haman, he did not treat him exceedingly mercifully. When Haman questioned him: Doesn’t the verse say, "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice"?  Mordechai responded: This does not refer to you.

Arafat was like Haman. He not only wanted to kill Jews, but actively did so, and left many widows, widowers, and orphans, as well as thousands of wounded and suffering.  We could say that every child in Israel has a wound on his soul for a person who was close to him who was murdered. 

It is also true that when the angels wanted to sing and join with the song of the Children of Israel after the Splitting of the Red Sea, the Master of the Universe prevented them, saying: "My handiwork has drowned in the sea and you are singing a song?" (see Sanhedrin 39b and Megillah 10b).  This is correct, and yet the Children of Israel did sing! How so? We are not angels. As the Admor of Pisetzna, Rav Kalman Kalonymus Shapira, wrote during the Holocaust (see "Aish Kodesh"): Was an angel ever hit? Was an angel ever murdered? Was an angel ever humiliated? We were! The angels did not suffer as we did in Egypt, so they could not sing. But we did suffer -- suffered immensely -- and therefore during the Exodus from Egypt "Moshe sang." And Miriam and the women also went out with singing and dancing after the Splitting of Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptians.  And so, for Arafat, as for the Egyptians, we say, "and joy went through the camp" (Melachim 1 22:26) and we say "when the wicked perish, there is joy" (Mishlei 11:10).

May we be comforted by the building of Jerusalem.