Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #400


Q: I purchased a $300 item and the overseas company notified me that the cost recorded was less than $100 (apparently to expedite delivery and avoid tax). How can I reimburse the parties involved?

A: Donate money to the Israel Defense Forces.


Q: Is Sefer Ha-Razim (a book containing cryptic mystical content) considered authentic Jewish literature?

A: No. It's nonsense and heresy.

Q: Is every tea essence Kosher, for example 'Combochia'?

A: If it's pure tea essence without additional ingredients it's Kosher.


Q: The Rambam states that the middle path in life is preferable. This being the case, are stringencies in lifestyle recommended?

A: Stringencies are recommended for very few individuals as we learn in the Guide for the Perplexed (Moreh Nevuchim, written by the Rambam). Everyone may carefully and gradually add stringencies to his lifestyle (see the first chapter of Hilchot Deot).

Netilat Yadayim Vessel

Q: Is Netilat Yadayim permitted with a vessel manufactured from non-Kosher materials?

A: Yes, but preferably not.


Different interpretations of Jewish Law

Q: How can I distinguish between authentic differences of opinion within Jewish Law and what is extraneous to Judaism?

A: Check the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Messilat Yesharim or any book of Halacha.

Eating Chumus

Q: Is dipping pita, crackers etc. into a plate of Chumus acceptable?

A: No. It's respectable to use cutlery.


Beit Knesset

Q: Is it permissible to pray in a Shul where the Mechitza not in accordance with Jewish Law?

A: No. The Shul is an official place of prayer, supplication and service of the Creator.

Q: When a grandson has been delegated the responsibility of reciting Kaddish (according to the Rama), should he, in addition to saying it during the first eleven months, also recite Kaddish on the Yahrtzeit?

A: Out of reverence he should recite Kaddish on the Yahrtzeit as well (based on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah and Sefer Mateh Ephraim)

Parents and Children

Q: What is the appropriate reaction of a parent whose devout and learned son apparently abandoned his religious lifestyle? In such a case would one say that the child's decision is Hashem's will?

A: Hashem wants us to perform the Mitzvot. Beseech Hashem with all your might and sincerely pray that your son will repent. 

Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A #399


Heavenly Mate

Q: Is it true that there are 7 soulmates for each and every individual and that based on

one's spiritual level the most appropriate is the designated spouse?

A: No.

Studying English

Q: Studying English in high school is a complete waste of my time. What should I do?

A: 1. Switch to a high school without English studies on the curriculum.
2. If that's not a viable option, change your attitude and invest serious effort. Life is full of challenges. By overcoming obstacles we reinforce positive character traits such as courage.

Q: How should I react after someone insulted me? Should I discuss the matter with him or should I forget about it completely?

A: Sincere forgiveness is best but only on condition that you won't hold a dormant grudge. If the matter lingers on in your heart, you should tactfully speak to him.

Medication Containing Non-Kosher Ingredient

Q: Is it permissible to administer a medication that contains enzymes derived from the pancreas of a pig to a patient whose life is not endangered?

A: Yes. The medication underwent a process that transformed its nature. It's not consumed as a food.

Disrespectful student

Q: How should an educator contend with an extremely audacious and disrespectful student?
A: Initiate a heart-to-heart discussion and encourage him to disclose his troubles and concerns.

Duplicating Discs

Q: Is it permissible to duplicate computer discs?

A: No. The artist or musician invests time and money, therefore only after permission is granted may one duplicate the disc. Otherwise it's theft.

Sleeping in Shelter

Q: We live in the South. Should the parents or the children sleep in the shelter?
A: The children, because they are more vulnerable.

Power of an Individual

Q: Given the fact that I am a single individual, how much influence can I possibly have on the world?

A: There's no limit to the tremendous influence on the world of the seemingly unimportant, single individual. The effort one invests counts far more than the outcome, as we learn in the book Nefesh Ha-Chaim, as well as in the Pirkei Avot chapter 5 at the end of the last Mishnah.

Jewelry during Pregnancy

Q: Is it true that during pregnancy a woman should refrain from wearing gold jewelry, for example, a gold ring?

A: No.

Difficult Challenges

Q: When I'm in Yeshiva everything runs smoothly but when I'm at home I can't deal with the difficult challenges!

A: You have the wherewithal to emulate the righteous Yosef Ha-Tzadik, who courageously overcame extremely difficult challenges during his entire time in Egypt, when he was surrounded by immorality!

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #398



Q: After a dialysis treatment is one required to say Asher Yatzar (the blessing recited after using the restroom)?

A:  No. May you have a speedy recovery.


Charedim and Religious Zionists in Corona Hotel

Q: There is a Corona hotel which houses students from Charedi Yeshivot and Religious Zionist Yeshivot.  A Charedi Yeshiva student wrote that he discovered a truth which was hidden from him, that the Religious-Zionist Yeshiva students are serious and dedicated Torah learners just like them.  Is there any joy greater than this?

A: It is certainly always good to meet, but we need humility and to be truthful.  We still have much that we need to improve and to learn from the Charedim.  Yeshiva students such as this are rare.  We believe that all Klal Yisrael will be uplifted.



Q: Does exposure to the sun's rays promote good health?

A: Definitely, because the sun is a Divine creation. Overexposure is detrimental just as an overdose of anything else that is good. A few minutes a day is enough to provide vitamin D, to strengthen brainpower, to uplift one's spirit and to improve sleep. Caution is required to avoid sunstroke, damage vision and skin cancer. The Divine creation is praiseworthy.


Military Stories

Q: I saw a response in the Mishnah Berurah stating that we should not read stories about wars. Does this include wars of the Israel Defense Forces?

A: No. The Mishnah Berurah refers to wars that are a waste of time, whereas the Israel Defense Forces fulfill a positive commandment.


Netilat Yadayim with Automatic Tap

Q: In the event that one doesn't have access to a vessel used for the specific purpose of Netilat Yadayim, is washing at an automatic tap permissible?

A: No. The tap is operated by an internal mechanism and this doesn't comply with the requirement.


Education for Modesty

Q: What is the most successful way to educate people to be modest?

A: 1. Teach them to be humble and not to strive to draw attention to themselves.  2. Teach by example: your own modest manner influences those around you.


Rubber Bracelets

Q: Are the colorful rubber bracelets considered feminine jewelry (and thus prohibited for males)?

A: This is not a female accessory. It is meant for males and females alike.


Donning a Kerchief as Opposed to a Wig

Q: I prefer that my wife cover her hair with a kerchief but she insists on covering her hair with a wig.  Which one of us is right?

A: Your wife has the right to dress in whichever manner suits her.  And you may choose whatever style of Kippa that suits you (Ha-Rav Meir Ha-Levi Soloveitchik, who served as the head of the Brisk Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, told the following interesting story related by his father, Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik: When Rav Itchele Peterburger came on Aliya, he lived in Yerushalayim. A while after his arrival, representatives of the local community approached him and requested that he switch his garb and dress in the same fashion as the residents among him.  In addition, they requested that his wife wear a kerchief instead of a wig.  To this he immediately replied that he's definitely prepared to oblige, but that he won't suggest that his wife change anything, albeit a serious matter. Rav Itchele added that had he known in advance, he wouldn't have come to join their community and that perhaps since he's already there maybe they could reconsider. Rav Itchele staunchly refused to raise the issue with his wife for the simple reason that he clearly understood that she alone has the right to dress however she pleases (In the book "De-Chazitei Le-Rebbe Meir" Volume 1, p. 196).


Mother's Role

Q: Where in the Torah and in the Oral Law is there a teaching that the education of the children is incumbent upon the mother?

A: 1. It's simply logical and there's no need to elaborate.  2. We are taught to heed and not forsake the Torah of our mothers.  3. The fathers are also bound to educate their children.


Kissing iPhone used for Davening

Q: After praying, people customarily kiss the Siddur.  Should one kiss an iPhone used in place of a Siddur?

A: No.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #397


Davening with Earplugs

Q: Is it permissible to Daven the Shemoneh Esrei with earplugs in order to block out people who are Davening Shemoneh Esrei loudly?

A: Yes.


Ahavat Yisrael

Q: I have a friend who is filled with hatred of Yisrael, and says all the time: Resha'im (evil ones) and Erev Rav.  What should I suggest for him to learn?

A: Mesilat Yesharim, especially Chapter 11 and the end of Chapter 19.


Yehoshua as Military Chief of Staff

Q: How was it that Yehoshua did not know what the noise was in the camp during the incident of the Golden Calf, and he thought it was the sound of war (Shemot 32:17-18)?  After all, he was the military Chief of Staff!

A: Quite simply, he was far away and it was hard to hear.  But the Meshech Chochma explains that it was Moshe Rabbenu's role to stop Am Yisrael from the sin of the Golden Calf and not Yehoshua's.  Yehoshua therefore heard incorrectly.  This is similar to the Gemara in Taanit (21a) about Rabbi Yochanan and Ilfa who left the Yeshiva to work because they had no money, and only Rabbi Yochanan heard a Divine voice to return to the Yeshiva.  Since it was only meant for Rabbi Yochanan, Ilfa did not hear it.


Deceitful Declaration at Hotel

Q: We are ordering a hotel room, and although we have 4 children, we only need 3 beds for them.  Is it permissible to say that we are only coming with 3 children?

A: Ask the hotel directly.


Paintball with the Rav

Q: May students play paintball with the Rav of their class?

A: No. It's disrespectful.


Prehistoric Man

Q: Is it true that prehistoric man existed before Adam?

A: Maran Ha-Rav Kook writes an affirmative response based on the Zohar.


Greeting a Non-Jew on Shabbat

Q: Is it permissible to greet a Non-Jew with Shabbat Shalom?

A: It's irrelevant. Shalom is sufficient.


Traveling Outside of Israel

Q: When my wife and I got married we were not religious and I promised to travel overseas with her. When we became religious we learned that leaving Israel is forbidden. Now I have work abroad but I don't agree to travel for leisure. My wife claims that my work takes priority and this causes a rift between us. Is there any loophole to permit sightseeing?

A: Your wife may accompany you to help you somewhat with your work. You won't be alone and you may also sightsee for a few days.


Neighbor's air-conditioner

Q: My neighbor regularly places the drainpipe of his air-conditioner in my garden. I approached him on a number of occasions, to no avail. What should I do?

A: Summon him to a Din Torah (Rabbinical court). If he refuses to appear, consult the municipal authorities.


Serving Non-Kosher Food

Q: May I serve non-Kosher food and beverages for people to taste at a supermarket?

A: Absolutely not.