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 more of the
questions and the answers given to them, told in HaRav Zilberstein's engaging
A father became a baal teshuvah but the members of his household have not yet
made this change and he forces them not to profane Shabbos. According to the
avreich who is being mekarev them, the father's behavior is preventing
his daughter from becoming Torah observant. Is he allowed to tell the father to
change the way he is behaving and not to force Shabbos observance on his daughter?
Originally my inclination was that of the rav's, that the father should not force his
daughter to observe Shabbos. My father-in-law, HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv
shlita, totally disagreed with me. He told me that if the father can stop her
from profaning Shabbos even for one Shabbos he is obligated to do so. Naturally, he
should first try to do this in a pleasant, refined, and patient manner. If that fails
he must insist. If finally he is unsuccessful he cannot be blamed. You cannot act
with Torah as with a business. You cannot think about other Shabbosim since you do
not know what will be in the future. He must concern himself with the Shabbos at
An avreich formed a relationship with a couple who wanted to come nearer to
Torah and mitzvos. After he became acquainted with them he found out that they are
not married according to halocho. The question is whether or not he should tell
them that he will only agree to help them if they marry according to halocho?
Is it worthwhile teaching them hilchos tohoroh?
The couple should realize that the best brochoh in the world is the sheva
brochos. Rashi (Kesuvos 8b, s.v. mesameiach) writes that the sheva
brochos is the essence of all good in the world. "We make a brochoh that
they will cheerfully enjoy success their whole lives and say Boruch atoh Hashem
mesamei'ach chosson vekallah, that Hashem will make them both forever content with
ample sustenance and all the best."
We must tell them that the Zohar writes that both during the kiddushin of
the chosson and kallah and the brochos we must stand. The American
minhag has begun taking root in Eretz Yisroel that everyone sits and only the
rov, the witnesses, the mechutonim, and the couple stand. This perhaps appears
elegant but sitting shows ignorance. The Beer Heitev writes that we must stand
up when the brochoh of mekadesh amo Yisroel, a brochoh of
kiddush Hashem, is said.
I heard of an incident where people found out after the marriage that the wife
suffers from epilepsy and the husband was unaware of it. She cunningly managed to
take her pills daily without his knowledge and concealed her disorder from him. There
is apparently a grave question whether the kiddushin was valid. The Shulchan
Oruch writes the "sickness of falling" is a mekach to'us (as if they never
married). I wanted to say a chiddush that since HaKodosh Boruch Hu gave
her the talent to successfully hide this from her husband that shows her degree of
sickness is minimal, and gedolei Torah agreed with me. Nonetheless, the opinion
of Maran HaRav Y.S. Eliashiv shlita is that we must tell the husband. I heard,
however, that if the husband will learn that his wife deceived him he will act
improperly with her and so therefore I said it is preferable not to do anything.
In reference to the question: We must continue to teach them hilchos tohoras
hamishpocha and tell them they should marry according to das Moshe
An avreich who works with a family who is still mechalel Shabbos, heard
they are planning a trip on Shabbos to another city. Can he invite them to his home
on leil Shabbos although he knows that when they return to their house they
will be mechalel Shabbos, since at least he will prevent them from making an
even greater chilul Shabbos?
Maran HaRav Y.S. Eliashiv ruled that it is ossur. I questioned him on the
directive of Reb Yisroel Salanter to the merchants of the Memel port that when they
open their stores on Shabbos and have to write they should at least write with their
left hand, they should not ride but walk, and other halachic directions to decrease
Maran answered that R' Yisroel taught them this to make the sins of the merchants
less harsh, but when the avreich and his wife want to entertain them, and they
enjoy the evening together this is not allowed. It is also a chillul Hashem.
An avreich working with a family and who maintains a regular study session with
the father found out that they are Karaites. What should he do? Should he continue to
teach them? What is their status in halocho in general? I heard a similar
question from an avreich active in preventing assimilation who was asked to
take care of a young Karaite about to marry an Arab. Should they try to save her?
Furthermore, the time they spend with them will take away time from helping other
Since this question is weighty I will tell you word by word what my father-in-law,
Maran HaRav Y.S. Eliashiv shlita, told me: "[The Karaites] are undoubtedly Jews
and we need to study with them and separate them from non-Jews."
I was simply amazed and immediately told him: "In Chinuch Atzmai in Cholon we do not
accept them." He answered that R' Sa'adya Gaon made a gezeiroh on the Karaites,
the Ramo writes that the split they made with us will never be mended, and the Radbaz
in Egypt ruled they are Jews with regard to every matter but were fined to remain
isolated from the congregation of Hashem.
HaRav Eliashiv said we should distance them as long as they act like their fathers,
but the Karaites today are tinokos shenishbu and therefore should be taught
halochos, hilchos Chanukah, netilas yodayim, eruvin since after he learns
these rabbinical halochos he is no longer a Karaite. Their problem is marriage
and the doubt of their being mamzeirim but we are not talking about that
problem. We are speaking about the question asked by Lev L'Achim and this is also not
a ruling with regard to receiving them into Chinuch Atzmai, etc. We must realize that
except for marriage they are Jews in every way. They should be taught Torah and
mitzvos as long as they do not fight against us.
A woman teaching hilchos tohoroh understood from her talmidah that she is
not acting according to halocho. The attempt to persuade her to act properly
was ineffective. Is it proper to tell her husband? Is there any difference between a
de'oraissah and a derabonon?
My father-in-law, Maran HaRav Y.S. Eliashiv shlita, answered this sharply: "If
she made a hefseik tohoroh and a bedikah we should remain quiet. If she
did not make a hefseik tohoroh we should tell the husband." Even though a good
chance exists that their marital connection would break off, we should tell the
husband. We cannot act with Torah as with a business. If we remain quiet the husband
is oveir on koreis.
I want to say that this question of severing ties is a grave dilemma and is even
found in the world of medicine. Sometimes a psychologist treats a man and hears that
the patient commits grave sins. If he remains silent the man will continue in his
way, but if he protests it may break the connection between him and his patient.
Maran HaRav Eliashiv also ruled on this question that if we fear that he does grave
aveiros and damages others we must tell others and at least tell those in
danger of being hurt.
The avreichim working for Lev L'Achim have clear guidelines from maranan
verabonon shlita about how to act when making house calls, for instance, how to
act when the husband is not at home, and the like. The question is how should the
avreichim act when they are talking divrei Torah and emunah to the
couple but the woman's hair is uncovered?
The guidelines what to do when the husband is not at home must be carefully
fulfilled. With regard to the specific question: For Sephardim it is enough to close
the eyes. Ashkenazim must also turn away. The Chazon Ish was meikel in a time
of need to close the eyes or look in a book. According to the Chazon Ish if a person
rides in a bus and sitting opposite him is a woman with uncovered hair, looking into
a book is sufficient.
HaRav Moshe Mordechai Shulsinger shlita asks what heter is there for
avreichim to enter homes in which a problem of tznius exists. I asked
Maran HaRav Y.S. Eliashiv shlita this question and he answered: An
avreich who feels this will damage him should not go. But an avreich who
walks in the street, visits the kupat cholim (HMO), goes to the hospital,
enters the bank, even though we have not yet been zocheh that everyone there
dresses properly, and he objects only when kiruv is involved, is wrong and is
obligated to go.
Parents whose outlook is nationalistic want to register their son or daughter in
higher classes in a chareidi education system. Should we fear that because of their
outlook they might be harmful to others? In general, is it worthwhile to invest time
in them when it is doubtful whether they will remain in a chareidi education system?
I received a letter from Rome with a shocking question. The question was asked by a
talmid chochom who lives in Rome and is engaged in kiruv rechokim.
A Jew lives there who comes to beis knesses every Shabbos. He has a fourteen
year old son and wants that talmid chochom to study with him and is prepared to
pay him. He, however, wants him to study maseches Sanhedrin and Avodoh
Zorah. When the talmid chochom asked him why he wants precisely these two
masechtos he understood that he wants his son to enter a school of priests in
Rome and if he will be tested and knows these two masechtos he will immediately
receive an academic degree. This is very important to them. I was astounded by the
I remembered that I once saw a similar question in the Pe'as HaSodeh (2:8)
written some two hundred years ago. At first he is inclined to forbid this but at the
end of the teshuvah he allows it. His psak is based on the gemora
(Shavuos 46) that a person is accustomed to exaggerate. You do not have to take
into consideration that he wants to enter him in a school for priests. Meanwhile you
have a mitzvas aseih of talmud Torah. What do you care what will be
later? And even when he tells his plans people usually exaggerate.
One poritz wanted to expel all the Jews in his neighborhood. He told them that
if they do not want to be banished they must fulfill his request: "I have a donkey.
Teach it to speak." One person went to him and said: "I will teach your donkey to
speak but it will take me ten years." People asked him what he would do after ten
years. He answered: "What do you care? Either the poritz will die or the donkey
The Pe'as HaSodeh cites what Rabbenu Yonah writes in Brochos (the end of
Eilu Devorim) that if a poor person comes and asks for a slice of bread we
should give it to him even though we are not sure whether or not he will make a
brochoh since he intends to do a mitzvah by giving him the bread. Should he not
make a brochoh the person who gave him the bread will not be oveir on
lifnei iveir since he did not intend that the person receiving the bread would
not make a brochoh. His only intention was that the poor person should eat and
be satisfied. Even if the poor person sells the bread or gives it to someone else,
that has nothing to do with him.
Here too the Pe'as HaSodeh concludes that he should teach the child Torah since
the melameid's kavonoh is to do a mitzvah. In our case too he should be taught
Torah when there is not a chashash godol that he will become non-Jewish, and
the light of the Torah will help him return.