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

Our Forefather Yitzchak Made a Mistake: I heard an explanation: Just like in the times of Yitzchak, he made a mistake by giving his blessing to Esav, the rabbis in our times, by forbidding going up to the Temple Mount, are also terribly mistaken. [What does the Rav think?]

Rav Aviner: You must go to the Cave of the Patriarchs (resting place of our forefather Yitzchak in the predominantly Muslim city of Hebron), and ask forgiveness from Yitzchak there. Thus, you should also seek forgiveness from all of the rabbis of Israel.

Damaged by Rain: The heavy rain has caused flooding and damage in our city. Can we attribute this to a particular sin of the people of the city?

Rav Aviner: 1. We can’t know the secrets of why God does certain things. 2. Rain is a tremendous blessing, even if it occasionally causes minor damage. You must see this in proportion (Rambam, Guide to the Perplexed 3:12).

Helping an Injured Terrorist: Why does it make sense to offer help to an injured terrorist?

Rav Aviner: International conventions, for three reasons. 1. Responsibility. 2. Reciprocity between us and other countries. 3. Morality. This is a topic too long for a message. (See Rav Kook’s “Michayil El Chayil” that was recently republished—MZ.)

Erev Rav: Is it possible that we have a modern-day Erev Rav (group of misguided Egyptians who left Egypt with the Jews and corrupted the people from within) among us? Someone told me the Zohar wrote this and says you have to denounce them.

Rav Aviner: Maybe this person who told you this is part of the Erev Rav, because it is written in “Even Shlomo” (sefer on self-improvement by the Vilna Ga’on) Chapter 11, that people who create disagreement are the Erev Rav. (See Ner Be’ishon Halayla 253-254—MZ.)

Returning Money: I found 50 shekel (around $13). Is there a certain minimum amount of money which would require seeking out the owner and returning it?

Rav Eliyahu: Fifty shekel is an amount which most people wouldn’t just let go. They would seek it out if they lost it. Therefore, if there’s any type of identifying mark, or it was found in a place where people often return to, you must publicize it and return it to the owner if he proves his ownership with identifying marks.

Printed in Olam Katan on December 4, 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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