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Shu”t SMS—Cellular Responsa From Rav Aviner and Rav Eliyahu

Rav Shlomo Aviner

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu

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 Tzfat. 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.

Venturing into Jerusalem: We’d like to go to Jerusalem to give out cookies and treats to the police and Maga”v (heavy border patrol soldiers) in Jerusalem to help strengthen their spirit and recognize their good. But maybe we’ll be going against “Venishmartem me’od l’nafshoteichem—And you should keep yourself safe,” (lit. “Guard yourself”) Devarim 4)?

Rav Aviner: No. This is a minimal venture. And God watches over those who do mitzvot.

Revenge: Is one allowed to take revenge?

Rav Aviner: It’s certainly permissible to take revenge on our enemies—this is even a mitzvah, but only for the IDF and police, not for civilians, and certainly not private grudges.

Protest: Is it okay to organize a protest against the prime minister?

Rav Aviner: You should make a demonstration for the prime minister, to strengthen him and support him.

Relating to the prime minister: How should we feel about the prime minister?

Rav Aviner: Only respect and appreciation. Even though he’s not perfect, neither are you, so it’s perfect.

Scared child: Is there a chapter of Tehilim (Psalms) that I can give to my 10-year-old son to assuage his fears of the current security situation?

Rav Aviner: Chapter 130. But don’t just give him this chapter—speak to him, too.

Schoolwork for a fee: I’m studying for a Bachelor’s degree, and I have a lot of schoolwork and exams. Is it okay to pay someone to do the work for me?

Rav Eliyahu: She can only help you (like a tutor), but she can’t do the work for you.

Drumming on Shabbat: Why is it prohibited to drum on the table on Shabbat?

Rav Eliyahu: Because it can be considered an instrument. However, it’s perfectly fine to drum lightly on the table on Shabbat.

Lashon Hara: Many people unload their troubles on me, including lots of lashon hara (evil speech about others, prohibited by the Torah). What should I be doing?

Rav Eliyahu: You should be listening and helping them. Just don’t completely believe the negative stories that they’re telling you, so you can avoid the prohibition of lashon hara.

Graves of righteous ones at night: Is there any problem with visiting the graves of tzadikim (righteous ones) at any point of night, or only after midnight?

Rav Eliyahu: I wouldn’t want to be in a graveyard at night even before midnight, but there’s no Torah prohibition to go to the grave of a tzadik (before midnight).

Printed in Olam Katan on November 13, 2015. Edited by Rav Mordechai Zion, reprinted and translated with permission.

Translated by Tzvi Silver, JLNJ Israel

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