Rav Shlomo Chaim Aviner is the French-born head of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim in the Old City of Jerusalem. With Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, son of the famed Rishon Lezion (Israeli Sefardi Chief Rabbi) Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt”l, the Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Tzefat, they answer about 400 questions every day about Judaism, halacha and philosophy, as well as the occasional gem of advice, via SMS messages. Shu”t SMS questions may be sent to Rav Aviner at +972 52-3653028.
Drinking on Purim: Must one drink alcohol on Purim even if this will result in foolishness?
Rav Aviner—No, the early prophets only specified being happy in gratitude to God, and not debauchery and foolishness. And, we certainly are not doing a mitzva by missing tefilah (as many do when they are inebriated -TS). According to most poskim, one only needs to drink more alcohol than usual.
Mourning on Purim: What is the halacha regarding a mourner on Purim?
Rav Aviner—He is not allowed to join a Purim party. He may only join a purim seudah as part of a family (not in a social framework -TS). Others may not send him mishloach manot, but he must send to others, at least enough to fulfill his requirement. However, Rav Ovadya Yosef held that mishloach manot may be sent to a mourner (Yalkut Yosef 43:7).
Megillat Esther: Why did Maimonides teach in the name of Chazal that if all of the books of the Prophets would be voided, Megillat Esther would not be? What’s so unique about Megillat Esther?
Rav Aviner—To teach us that in the story of Megillat Esther, which seemed to be unfolding without God’s intervention, He was really intervening in a hidden way (see Sefat Emet). This is also relevant to our redemption now.
Praying in Costume on Purim: May one pray in costume on Purim, because it’s the clothing of the day, or is it problematic because it isn’t appropriate to dress like this before the King of Kings?
Rav Aviner—Mainly, it is a problem to stand before God in prayer in costume like this, so one should not pray in costume on Purim, and should take it off before tefilah if possible. However, there are opinions on which one could rely if they remained in costume for tefilot (Shu”t Shevet Halevi 1:18).
Mishloach Manot through an envoy: Must one send mishloach manot via a shaliach (envoy)?
Rav Aviner—There are some who say that yes (Shu”t Binyan Zion 1:44, brough in Mishna Berura 495:18), but most poskim believe that there is no need.
Banging for Haman: Is the tradition to bang and make noise during megillah reading only when mentioning Haman or also his wife and children?
Rav Aviner—According to Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner (Ba’al Shevet Levi), also Haman’s wife and children. Either way, it is important to only bang and make noise briefly and not to disturb the reading of the megillah—this would be confusing the important and unimportant parts of megillah reading (ikar v’tafel).
Reading Megillah via a Loudspeaker: Can one fulfill his obligation of hearing megillah reading through a microphone or loudspeaker?
Rav Aviner—No, because he is not hearing the voice of the person, but rather the voice of the machine (Shu”t Yechave Da’at 3:54).
Collected from different Purim issues of Olam Katan, translated and reprinted with permission.
Translated by Tzvi Silver/JLNJ Israel