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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 around 400 questions every day about Judaism, halacha, and philosophy, as well as the occasional gem of advice, via SMS messages, and publish their best ones every week in the Olam Katan Shabbat newsletter.

Gad HaChoze—A week ago, it was written in “Divrei Gad HaChoze” some things which were not true and against Torah. Was the research work in this name written about a manuscript, or was it the manuscript itself which relates to Gad the Prophet?

Rav Aviner: It was based on the manuscript itself, which was a forgery, and not the words of Gad the Prophet.

Mashiach on the year following Shemitta— It is said in the name of a great rabbi that Mashiach will come now because this is the year following a Shemitta year (Megillah 17, Sanhedrin 96). How should I relate to this?

Rav Aviner: (1) We believe in the coming of Mashiach every day, for one who says “I am a nazir on the day that the son of David (the Redeemer) will come” is a nazir immediately (Eruvin 43). (2) There have already been many years following Shemitta, and clearly Mashiach hasn’t come. (3) The Sages forbade trying to guess the End (of Days) (Sanhedrin 93, Rambam Hil. Melachim). (4) Therefore, there are two options: Either there is a spiritual feeling that these are times which are capable of being the days of Mashiach, which is certainly not for sure but is an important possibility, or that this a prayer to Hashem. There is no contradiction between these two answers.

The Wife of Mashiach—Will Mashiach have a wife?

Rav Aviner: Of course. He will fulfill all of the mitzvot of the Torah (Rambam Hil. Melachim 11:4).

The Get of a Refuser—What should be done with one who refuses to sign a get (divorce document)?

Rav Aviner: If the refuser isn’t correct, then the entire family and other people around him need to boycott/ignore him in the hope that he’ll reconsider his decision.

Mekubalim who Take Money—Based on the recommendations of friends, I went to a mekubal (spiritual kabbalist) to receive a bracha (blessing). He asked for 300 NIS (around $78). Without any choice, I agreed. Afterwards, he told me to sign on a hora’at keva (bank payment) for 400 NIS (around $103) per month for ten years, “if not, you’ll be sick with cancer, and you’ll never get married, but if you do sign, you’ll be healed and get married in a few months.” I’m very worried—what should I do?

Rav Aviner: These mekubalim are nonsense—a real mekubal doesn’t demand money. (There’s a joke about a “mekubal” who asked for 500 NIS to give a bracha. The one who sought the bracha responded: “But Kohanim (priests) give a bracha every day for free.” “That’s why they walk around barefoot,” responded the “mekubal”—MZ.)

The Engagement Period—We’re engaged! What kinds of expressions of affection can we give? On the one hand, it strengthens the connection, but on the other, we want to be careful not to go against halacha.

Rav Eliyahu: You should not say any explicit words of love, but sweet conversation is certainly allowed. When you’re writing a message or letter, you can write even more. But to say words of love in person—only after the wedding, and then, you can say them every day, even many times each day.

Thank You and a Complaint—Rav Arosh writes that a believer will thank Hashem for everything, even, for example, if someone almost drives into you on the street, whereas one who doesn’t believe will say “who taught you to drive?” Is there also room for one to contact the police, or is this considered a lacking of faith?

Rav Eliyahu: If this is a small incident, then let it go. But, if this is a crazy driver, you must contact the police, in order to save the lives of both the driver and other people.

Neder—If I do something, and I had in mind that I wouldn’t always do it but never said “bli neder” (without a promise), and I did it three or more times—is this considered a neder (vow) and do I need to renounce it?

Rav Eliyahu: There’s no need.

Neder 2— I took a vow not to go onto the Internet over the course of a year, and I didn’t succeed at it. Do I need to do hatarat nedarim (renouncing of the vows) before a wise one, three or ten?

Rav Eliyahu: (1) It’s urgent that you install Rimon Internet (filter). (2) You should only renounce this vow if you plan on continuing to use the Internet. (3) Hatarat Nedarim should be before three people, one of which should be able to find a solution.

Meditation—Is meditation good or bad? Can it be part of serving Hashem?

Rav Eliyahu: Meditation can be part of serving Hashem if it’s done in a proper and holy way.

Originally printed in Olam Katan on October 23, 2015, edited by Rav Mordechai Zion. Reprinted and translated with permission.

Translated by Tzvi Silver, JLNJ Israel

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