Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Adar 5761 - February 28, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Teshuvos About Kiruv Rechokim

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

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.

Part I

First Question:

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 yeshiva.

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 following:

"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.

Second Question:

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 the pacifier.

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 Chazon Ish!

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.

Third Question:

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 tranquility?


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 contribution.

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 chinuch.)

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 him.

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.

Fourth Question:

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 brochoh.

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