Short and Sweet - Text Message Q&A #402

Q: Given the fact that a person's soul was endowed over time in a number of bodies, to which one will it be returned?

A: The soul will be returned to the body that performed the most Mitzvot and good deeds. The Arizal teaches that the existence of the soul in a number of different bodies is a parable not to be understood literally.


Naming a Girl

Q: Should we refrain from giving a three-letter Hebrew name to a girl?

A: No. Note these three-letter Hebrew names from the Torah: Sarah, Rachel, Leah, Chanah, Yael and more.

Irreligious Upbringing

Q: My family isn't religious and I feel inferior to my friends who were raised in religious homes.

A: Throughout our history there are plenty of examples of great Torah scholars from irreligious backgrounds. We all have free choice.

Tikun Chatzot in the Morning

Q: Is there an alternative hour to recite Tikun Chatzot (the midnight prayers over the destruction of the Temple)?  I'm too tired to get up that early.

A: You may recite these prayers early in the morning.

Military Service and Yeshiva Study

Q: Is shortened military service morally acceptable even though I do not intend to return to Yeshiva after the army?

A: Definitely. Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda Ha-Cohain Kook explains that military service is compulsory and that each student may decide what suits him. Our Nation has a wide range of essential needs in the spiritual realm and in the work force. The calculations are personal.

Immodest Reading Material

Q: May I discard my friend's immodest book?

A: No. It belongs to him. Only a Beit Din may do so, as it says in the Gemara Berachot (20a) that Rav Ada bar Ahava, as an official member of the Beit Din, applied a measure to eradicate public immodesty.

Talmudic Volumes to Facilitate Study

Q: May we study from the Schottenstein volumes (named for the philanthropist who funded the publication) or the Rav Shteinsaltz volumes to facilitate our understanding of the complicated texts or are we expected to apply intense thought without taking shortcuts?
A: It's a personal decision. The preferred goal is to avoid dependence on them and to use them only occasionally to check the explanations. We need an honest assessment of our limitations. Ongoing study improves our abilities.  Ha-Rav Ephraim Fishel Hershkovitz, an illustrious Torah scholar and member of the Rabbinical Council of the Tzanz-Kloizenberg Chasidim in North America was asked a question similar to yours and responded as follows: ''Are you unable to understand without those explanations?'' (This is recorded in the book ''HaBen Yakir Li Ephraim", p. 127).  Generally our power of concentration and comprehension improves when we are determined to reach our goals.

Snakes as Pets

Q: Are we permitted to have a snake as a pet?

A: Yes, on condition that no harm is caused to others.


Investigating Religions

Q: Is it problematic to look into other religions in order to be convinced that the truth of Judaism prevails?

A: The thorough research of Rav Yehuda HaLevi in Sefer Ha-Kuzari, 1,000 years ago, negates the need for further investigation. See Rambam, Hilchot Avoda Zara Chapter 2:2-3.


Mashiach and Army

Q: When Mashiach comes will the Israel Defense Forces be in operation?  I'm a young boy who wants to serve in the army.

A: The Israel Defense Forces will be in full operation. Mashiach himself is a warrior. Rambam, Hilchot Melachim Chapter 11.