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Cellular Responsa From Rav Aviner and Rav Eliyahu: Massacre in Paris and the Bedtime Shema

Rav Zvi Yehuda and Learning Talmud: 1. Why did Rav Zvi Yehuda (Kook) focus on emunah (faith) in his Talmud studies? 2. Did this mean he was less proficient in Talmud and Halacha (Jewish law)?

Rav Aviner: 1. Because the Jewish people had a more essential need for emunah in his time, so Rav Zvi Yehuda dedicated himself to it. 2. This couldn’t be further from the truth! You can see his abundant greatness in his commentary at the end of his father’s responsa.

The Massacre in France: I thought that the terrible massacre in Paris was a punishment because we stopped building in the settlements. Is it okay to think this?

Rav Aviner: No—there is no connection. We can’t know the secrets of our Creator.

Violent Protest: Is there a problem to take part in a protest against the evacuation of the shul (in Giv’at Zeev, built on land abandoned by Arabs 70 years ago and recently ordered to be destroyed by the High Court), if the heads of the protest have already supported violence against soldiers?

Rav Aviner: I’m not sure if this is the reality. If this is the case, though, then you definitely shouldn’t go. The destruction of a shul is a terrible sin, but violence against Jews is an even worse sin, and violence against Jewish soldiers is the absolutely worst.

Bedtime Kri’at Shema in the Morning: I don’t sleep very much at night; I get up in the morning, and come back and sleep until the afternoon. Do I have to say the bedtime Shema in the morning, assuming that this will be a continuous sleep of several hours?

Rav Eliyahu: You should say Shema only before going to sleep at night. If you’d like to say parts of Shema before going to sleep in the morning as well, tavo eilecha bracha (it certainly won’t hurt, lit. it should bring blessing onto you).

A Protest of Students: Are students who think their teacher is making an educational mistake allowed to protest against this, or is this against the honor of the teacher?

Rav Eliyahu: You must approach him in a polite and respectful way to tell him what you think.

I Ate Non-Kosher: On a trip to India, I unfortunately ate in vegetarian restaurants that aren’t kosher. I feel like this had an adverse effect on me in a spiritual way, “the stupidity of my heart.” Maybe the Rav has advice for me?

Rav Eliyahu: 1. To learn the laws of kashrut. 2. To fast three days (if you’re able to)—preferably Monday, Thursday, then the next Monday. If you can’t—one day is enough. 3. To be happy that you live in our holy land, and not to go back to India again. 4. To eat and drink from the holy produce of our land. 5. To learn Torah in holiness, and slowly but surely, the impurity will leave you forever.

Printed in Olam Katan on 27 November, 2015. Edited by Rav Mordechai Zion, reprinted and translated with permission.

Rav Shlomo Chaim Aviner is the French-born head of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim in the Old City of Jerusalem. Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, son of the famed Rishon Lezion (Israeli Sefardi Chief Rabbi) Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt”l, is the Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Tzefat. Together they answer about 400 questions every day about Judaism, Halacha and philosophy, as well as the occasional gem of advice, via SMS messages. They publish their best ones every week in the Olam Katan Shabbat newsletter. Shu”t SMS questions can be sent to Rav Aviner at +972 52-3653028.

Translated by Tzvi Silver/JLNJ Israel

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