At one of the gatherings organized by Lev L'Achim, an
opportunity was given for volunteers from all over Israel
who have a more local orientation, to ask questions from the
posek, HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein. Herewith are some
of the questions and the answers given to them, told in
HaRav Zilberstein's engaging style.
When we try to persuade parents to provide their sons with a
Torah chinuch and the question of secular studies
arises and their quality and level is the same as in
chareidi institutions, is it permitted to tell them only
part of the truth?
Answer: I will tell you three stories: Torah
activists persuaded parents to send their son to Yeshivas
Hebron. The father agreed only on the condition that during
his yeshiva studies his son would take the tests for a high
school diploma. They promised to arrange a high school
diploma for his son. The father agreed and the son began
studying in the yeshiva and was truly successful. When the
father insisted his son receive a diploma, the activists
arranged for a talmid in the yeshiva, who had studied
these subjects as a young boy, to begin studying with the
boy the material needed to pass the tests. A short time
afterwards the son told his father he was indeed studying on
his father's insistence but much against his own will. "I
want to study Kesuvos and do not have any time or
desire to study anything else." When the father criticized
the activists they rebutted: "We did as we promised, but
your son is the one who does not agree." Today the boy
serves as an av beis din in Eretz Yisroel.
Another story: When activists influenced a mother to
register her son in a yeshiva kedoshoh the father
indicated his concern for his son's future. How will he make
a living? The activists brought him to the rosh yeshiva who
signed a document in which he formally undertook
responsibility for the boy's livelihood. The rosh yeshiva
did this because he hoped the boy would succeed in his
studies and the Torah would be his livelihood in which case
his livelihood will surely be guaranteed.
HaRav Shimon Shkop zt'l explains in his introduction
to Sha'arei Yosher that Hashem said to Moshe
"Pesol lecho"--that the pesoles (the residue
from the Luchos) will be yours and from that
pesoles Moshe became rich. The Torah is telling us
that when a person sacrifices himself for Torah, the Torah
itself makes him rich. If, chas vesholom, the boy
would not succeed in his studies he would find another job
for him in the yeshiva. In fact, that was not necessary.
Today this talmid is a maggid shiur in that
A third story: This happened when I went to be
mevakeir choleh HaRav Eliyahu Broida, the rav of the
Ramat HaChayal neighborhood in Tel Aviv, when he was
hospitalized. Another visitor was there when I arrived,
about whom HaRav Broida remarked that he is one of the
biggest baalei teshuvah today. This interested me
immensely and I wanted to hear of the Hashgochoh that
prompted him to do teshuvah. He told me the
"I am a professional barber and my barber shop is located in
an area where many air force officers live. The only time
these officers have available to take haircuts is on leil
Shabbos. Since my main source of livelihood was from
them, I would open the barber shop on Friday nights. Once
HaRav Broida passed by the barber shop and walked over to
me. He asked: `My dear friend why are you being mechalel
Shabbos and incensing Hashem?' I answered: `Throughout
the week I have no work. I have many expenses and my only
income is from the haircuts of Friday night.' HaRav Broida
answered: `Please listen to me! You should close the barber
shop on leil Shabbos and I promise you that your
income will increase at least 30%.' His request, emanating
from a pure heart, persuaded me to make the change. The next
Shabbos I closed the barber shop and my income increased
50%! I became a full baal teshuvah."
I went to my brother-in-law, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, and told
him this story and asked him whether it was permitted for
HaRav Broida to promise the barber an increase in income. Is
that not testing Hashem?
He answered that when the chief officer told Doniel to eat
chazir since the king commanded him to be fed from
the king's food, did not Doniel answer the steward: "Please
test your servants for ten days and let them give us
vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our
appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the
king's food be observed by you, and act toward your servants
in accordance with what you see" (See Doniel 1). We
see that sometimes it is permitted to test Hashem. This is
true today too. A rav who is active in disseminating
emunah has such a power.
Such a power is present today too. HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky
zt'l told us: "Today you do not have to do much. It
is enough to do a little and this little generates siyata
deShmaya." HaRav Eliyahu Broida used this power.
You should not lie. There is no need to lie. You should tell
the truth, and the truth is that anyone embracing Torah will
become rich from the pesoles of the Luchos.
A girl studies in the second grade of a State-Religious
School that has separate classes for boys and girls. A new
chareidi school has now opened. At the beginning, the first
three grades study in mixed classes -- according to the
ruling of the gedolei Yisroel for such instances.
Since this is the case, the question is whether it is
advisable to transfer the girl to a chareidi school although
at this stage it would seem to be a religious decline to
study in mixed classes.
Answer: If the school is being run according to
daas Torah we do not have to be afraid of a decline
in spiritual values. The Torah teaches us: "According to the
Torah that they shall teach you, you shall do"
(Devorim 17:11). "Even if you are told that left is
right and right is left" (Rashi, ibid.). If the
chareidi school is run according to the directives of
eminent talmidei chachomim this is an increase and
not a decline in ruchniyus.
I remember we once heard a story about a school in a
development city in the time of the Chazon Ish. Neither the
founders of the new Chinuch Atzmai school nor the State-
Religious school had enough talmidim. They wanted to
combine the talmidim into one kindergarten class and
the question was, who would be the teacher--a woman from the
State-Religious system or from Chinuch Atzmai. The Chazon
Ish was asked and he answered that it makes no difference
whether or not the kindergarten teacher is from the State-
Religious system. What is important is that the pictures,
the decorations on the walls of the kindergarten, should be
from the Chinuch Atzmai. Many gufei Torah are
involved in this ruling.
I once heard a shiur from HaRav Leib Gurwicz who
explained the statement of Chazal that the Greeks said, "You
should write on the horn of the bull that you have no part
in the Elokim of Yisroel." At that time people did
not use pacifiers for children as we do now. Instead they
would take the horn of a bull and make a small hole in it
and put it in the child's mouth. This was their intention.
They wanted to write apikorsus on the bull's horn, on
We see from this the importance of what a child, an infant,
looks at. The pictures are what is important.
I want to tell you another fascinating story. I heard of a
person living in Hertzelia who does miraculous zikui
horabim. People asked him from where he takes such
powers. I was astounded to hear his answer.
He said he is the grandson of Zalman Oren who was a minister
in Ben Gurion's government. His grandfather was a big
"chossid" of Ben Gurion. When his grandmother would
light candles for Shabbos she would ask Hashem for her son
to be like Ben Gurion the "rebbe" who her husband respects
so much. This was her tefillah until Ben Gurion's
visit to Maran the Chazon Ish.
That visit made such a strong impression on Ben Gurion that
he was enchanted with the Chazon Ish. He told his friend
Zalman Oren about his visit and Oren in turn told it to his
wife. Since she heard how fascinated Ben Gurion was with the
Chazon Ish she decided that from now on when she lights
Shabbos candles she would beg Hashem for children like the
This is astounding. When I heard this I realized a woman's
power and the power of her tefillah. In short, we
must do as daas Torah rules us to do.
A couple are on the road to leading lives of Torah and
mitzvos. The wife is prepared to cover her head but only
with a wig. The husband does not agree. He demands that she
cover her hair with a kerchief according to the psak
of his rabbonim. Understandably, this caused severe problems
of sholom bayis. Should we tell the husband not to
make things difficult for his wife and accept the opinion of
those who are matir a wig, or should he continue to
pressure his wife and risk ruining his domestic
I once read the following story about Rabbenu the Baal
HaTanya, the author of the Shulchan Oruch HaRav: In
one of the cities that he visited, the Baal HaTanya heard of
an exceptionally affluent Jew who gives only a small amount
to anyone asking for tzedokoh. He decided to try to
persuade him to give a much more substantial
The Baal HaTanya succeeded in his aim. People asked him how
he managed to do it since so many others tried but failed.
He answered: "I acted differently than those before me. When
they came to him and he offered them one small coin they
became angry and refused to accept it. I reacted totally
differently. When he offered the coin I thanked him with
simchah and real warmth. I hugged him and said: `How
fortunate are you to be a person who gives tzedokoh.'
Since one mitzvah brings another in its wake he gave me an
additional coin. Again I hugged him and thanked him
cheerfully, and continued this strategy until I received the
entire considerable amount."
The Baal HaTanya wants to teach us that we can fare much
better with every Jew by befriending him and arousing the
power of the mitzvah--but patience is needed for this.
Now please listen to an anecdote about Maran HaRav Yosef
Chaim Zonnenfeld zt'l, the head of the Eida
HaChareidis after HaRav Shmuel Salant zt'l, that his
grandson relates in Ish Al HaChomah. "One day people
told my grandfather that in a talmud Torah in the
Diskin Orphanage [in Yerushalayim] educators found a child
in possession of improper books. The melamed
confiscated the books although the child screamed, cried,
and kicked when he took them away from him.
HaRav Zonnenfeld zt'l immediately got up, put on his
coat, and went to the orphanage. He walked over to the
melamed, took the books from him, and gave them back
to the child. (We learn from this halochos of correct
After he had returned the books he called the child over,
sat with him, and patiently and lovingly explained how much
spiritual stupor and danger these improper books can cause.
A few minutes later the child went to the yard of the
orphanage and burned those books.
The way HaRav Zonnenfeld acted is a great chidush. In
my opinion it can only be understood according to the
gemora that tells us that one person came to Shamai
and asked him to make him a ger on the condition that
he will fulfill only the Written Torah. Today we would say
such a person is a total apikores. Shamai rejected
Hillel, however, acted differently and made him a
ger. Afterwards with many tactics, he helped that
ger realize that the Written Torah is inseparable
from the Oral Torah. Rashi asks: How was it permitted to
make him a ger when he did not want to accept the
Oral Torah? Rashi answers that Hillel relied on his wisdom
to succeed in changing his mind.
Now concerning our matter, only with insight can you achieve
anything. Without it you will accomplish nothing, and with
it you will achieve your aim.
A family who returned to a life of Torah and mitzvos
requested of an avreich to affix the mezuzah
they had bought to the entrance of the house. Since the
source and kashrus of the mezuzah is uncertain the
avreich is doubtful whether or not to make a
brochoh on it. It is possible that his refusal might
damage the critical bond that he has with this family in
encouraging their progress in Torah observance.
If most mezuzas of this type are kosher, the
avreich can install the mezuzah with a
brochoh. When we checked one type of mezuzas
we did not find even one of them to be kosher, but most of a
different type were kosher.
R' Akiva Eiger proves from a gemora in Yevomos
that a person can make a shavu'ah when he relies on a
rove (a majority). If the mezuzah is not of
the type that are usually kosher he should tell the couple
to make a short brochoh (without mentioning Hashem's
name) and that the following day he will bring them another
mezuzah on which they can make a full