The Mitzvah Of Living In Israel Today

We are all aware of the terrible sin of the Meraglim (spies) and the devastating affect it had on Klal Yisroel. If ever one questions the importance and beauty of Eretz Yisroel one need not look any further then the story of the Meraglim. It is therefore necessary to analyze whether there is a mitzvah to “make aliyah”, to move to Israel, and why many great gedolim lived all of their lives outside of the Land of our fathers.

The opinion of the Ramban

The Rambam omits the obligation to move to Eretz Yisroel in his list of the 613 mitzvos. The Ramban disagrees, however, and he feels that the obligation to live in Israel is biblical in nature and applies nowadays as well. A similar view can be found in the Shu’t Rashash (1-2) and he testifies that his father, the Tashbetz, concurs that there is a biblical mitzvah to make aliyah. The Sefer Charedim (Mitzvos Aseh chapter 57 note 15) writes the following: “There is positive commandment to live in Israel…Chazal tell us that this mitzvah is as great as all the other mitzvos combined.”

The opinion of the Rambam

As we previously explained, the Rambam omitted the mitzvah of making aliyah in his list of the 613 mitzvos. Rav Yitzchak Di Lion, in his pirush Megilas Esther, explains that the reason for the omission is that the Rambam feels that the obligation to live in Israel only applied during the times of Moshe, Yehoshua and Dovid Hamelech, when the Bais Hamikdash was built and the Jews had command of the land. Once the Jews were exiled from the land the mitzvah no longer applies. Since this mitzvah does not apply nowadays it does not belong in the Rambam’s list of the 613 mitzvos. As the Rambam in shoresh 3 writes, any mitzvah that applied at some point but does not apply anymore does not get counted. It would seem that according to the understanding of the Megilas Esther, the Rambam feels that there is no obligation to live in Israel nowadays, even on a rabbinic level. A similar understanding was expressed in the sefer Mili D’Avos (vol. 5 page 498).
The Avnei Nezer (Y.D. 454) disagrees with the Megilas Esther. He feels that according to the Rambam the biblical mitzvah is applicable even in current day Israel, and he offers a different explanation (for reasons beyond the scope of this article) as to why it was not counted by the Rambam amongst the other 248 positive commandments.

The seforim offer one final alternative explanation regarding the Rambam’s view of this mitzvah. The Rashbash writes that according to the Rambam, while there does not exists a biblical mitzvah nowadays, however, there does exist a rabbinic mitzvah. A similar view was expressed by the Sefer Nishmas Kol Chai (Y.D. 48) and the Sefer Paas Hashulchan (1:14).

The opinion of Rav Chaim Kohen

Tosafos (Kesubos 110b) writes the following: “Rav Chaim Kohen was want to say that the mitzvah to live in Israel does not apply nowadays, for there are many mitzvos and prohibitions that exist only in Eretz Yisroel and it is truly difficult to diligently fulfill all those obligations.” This opinion of Rav Chaim Kohen was codified by the Knesses Hagedola (Klallei Haposkim 16). The son of the Node Biyehuda (Y.D. M.T. 206) explains that the reason that all the Baalei Tosafos lived in the Diaspora was based upon the ruling of Rav Chaim Kohen.

The Mabit unequivocally disagrees with the permissive view of Rav Chaim Kohen, he explains that the reason to live in Israel has nothing to do with the mitzvos that apply only in Eretz Yisroel. The reason to make aliyah is due to the fact that the land is holy and therefore one is required to live there. In which case there is no reason to assume that the mitzvah does not apply nowadays. Indeed many achronim felt that the ruling of Rav Chaim Kohen should not be cited for hallachic purposes (see ruling of Shelah Hakadosh cited in sefer Paas Hashulchan and Yosef Ometz 52).

The opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe E.H. 102) discusses whether there is a mitzvah to make aliyah and why many rabbanim have lived in the Diaspora. He writes that even according to the opinion of the Ramban, that there exists a biblical obligation, the nature of this obligation is different than many other mitzvos. He feels that this mitzvah is “kiyumis” not “chiyuvis”.

To fully appreciate this distinction, it is necessary to offer an introduction regarding different types of mitzvos. There exist two types of mitzvos: 1) “kiyumis”- A mitzvah that is not obligatory, rather if one fulfills this mitzvah one receives reward (ex. Eating in the Succah following the first night. For the following meals one does not need to eat in the Succah, if one were to choose, one can refrain from eating bread and the like and would not be in violation of any prohibition. However, if one chooses to eat bread then one must eat it in the succah. Thus this mitzvah is “optional”.) 2) “Chiyuvis”- A mitzvah that one must fulfill and is obligatory in nature. (ex. Wearing Tefillin. One must wear tefillin every day and if one neglects this mitzvah and does not wear tefillin has done something wrong. Thus this mitzvah is “obligatory”.)

Now we can understand the ruling of Rav Moshe. He explains that although there is a mitzvah to live in Israel, however, this mitzvah is “optional”. Meaning that one is not obligated to move to Israel, rather, if one lives in Israel he fulfills a mitzvah. Rav Moshe continues, that because there is no prohibition of living outside of Israel it might be preferable to do so for the reasons given by Rav Chaim Kohen (namely that there are many mitzvos and prohibitions that apply specifically to the Land of Israel and it is difficult to fulfill all of those obligations.)

Rav Yosef Dov Soleveitchick zt”l agreed with the premise of Rav Moshe Feinstein. He also felt that the mitzvah to live in Israel is a mitzvah “kiyumis” and not “chiyuvis” (oral ruling cited by Rav Herschel Shachter shlit”a sefer Peninei Harav).

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Standing For Elders (Assorted Halachos)

  1. The Torah (Vayikra 19:32) says, “Mipnei Seiva Takum V’Hadarta Bifnei Zakein.” This verse teaches that one must stand before our elders and talmidei chachamim. The Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 244) rules that one must stand for elders once they have reached the age of seventy. (See Chida on Shulchan Aruch who cites the view of the Ari z”l that one must stand before elders once they reached the age of sixty)
  2. If one does not know the exact age of the elderly person he must stand in accordance with the rule of sfeika d’oraysa l’chumra, one must be strict when a doubt arises involving Biblical law. (See Yechava Daas 3:70)
  3. The poskim debate whether one must stand before an elderly woman. For practical halacha a rav should be consulted. (See Sefer Chassidim 578 and Shevet Halevi 2:114)
  4. One should stand for the elderly when they are within four amos away. And as soon as the elderly person passes by, one is permitted to sit down. (Shulchan Aruch 244:2)
  5. One must stand before the elderly even if one is in middle of learning. (Shulchan Aruch Yorah Deah 244:11)
  6. The Tzitz Eliezer (1:14) discusses whether one must stand up if a zaken (older person) passes before him while one is davening. He concludes that while he is reciting pesukei d’zimra, aleinu, karbanos etc. one must stand. However, while he is reciting Shema he should not stand up. However, many poskim, including the Chida, Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld zt”l, and the Chazon Ish, all maintain that one should stand before the elderly even while reciting Shema. (See Ishei Yisroel page 204 note 85 for a brief discussion)
  7. The Rama (Yoreh Deah 244:1) writes that one should stand for an elderly person even if he isn’t wise in Torah as long as he isn’t a wicked person (“rasha”).
  8. The poskim discuss whether one must stand before non-observant elders today, who desecrate Shabbos and do not adhere to halacha. On the one hand, since they are not observant of halacha, they might be hallachically classified as “rashaim”. On the other hand, since (in most situations) their lack of observance is due to a lack of knowledge and not in order to rebel against Hashem, they are not qualified as “rashaim” in halacha. They are rather classified as “tinokos shenishbu bein hanachrim”.
  9. According to Harav Wosner zt”l (Shevet Halevi 9:198) and ybc”l Harav Nissan Karelitz shlit”a (Kibud Vehidur page 447) one need not stand up before modern day non-observant Jews, who desecrate Shabbos and do not adhere to halacha. However, according to Harav Elyashiv zt”l one needs to stand before these elders as well.For practical halacha, a rav should be consulted. However, if not standing up will cause the elder embarrassment or a chillul Hashem one should absolutely stand up.

Melava Malka (Assorted Halachos)

  1. It is well known that there is a mitzvah to eat the post Shabbos meal, known as the Melava Malka. (Shulchan Aruch 300) Even though many aren’t careful to eat this meal, a Yireh Shamayim (a G-d fearing person) should make an extra effort to keep it. (Aruch Hashulchan 300:3) The midrash says that in the future, a person will be resurrected using a bone located in one’s spine. The meforshim saya that this bone called the luz is fed only with food eaten at a melave malka. (See Mishnah Berurah 300:2) The Mishnah Berurah adds that while this meal may not be obligatory (like the three meals of Shabbos), it is a great mitzvah to eat this meal.
  2. Women are also included in the mitvah of Melava Malka. (See Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso 63:3) Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk zy”a is cited as saying that (for a woman) eating the Melava Malka is a segulah for an easy childbirth. They should even say why they are eating this meal that they are doing so “lshem mitvas Melava Malka” (“for the sake of the Mitzvah of Melava Malka”) (Minchas Shabbos 96 Hasmatos 30)
  3. For this meal, one should eat bread and meat or some other cooked food. If it is difficult to eat bread, he should eat cake or some other mezonos food or at least some fruit. (Mishnah Berurah 300:1) Where this is impossible, one may fulfill his obligation by drinking a cup of coffee or tea. (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso 63:8)
  4. It is preferred to cook something specifically for Melava Malka and not merely eat leftovers. (Mishnah Berurah ibid. and Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso ibid.)
  5. The The Melava Malka should preferably be eaten soon after the conclusion of Shabbos. If one isn’t hungry one may have it later but shouldn’t do an established activity before having Melveh Malka. The Kaf Hachayim says it should lechatchila be eaten within four halachic hours of Shabbos. The Mishnah Berurah adds that certainly one shouldn’t delay it past midnight (chatzos).
  6. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Chazon Ovadia Shabbos vol. 2 page 446) adds that if one didn’t do it before chatzos one may still fulfill this mitzvah until Olot HaShachar (dawn). His proof is from a story about the Gra in Tosefet Maaseh Rav (39). One time the Gra was sick on Saturday night and didn’t eat Melava Malka, when he got somewhat better he asked if it was still before dawn since he would still like to eat the Melava Malka. Clearly the Gra held (in case of need) one may eat the Melava Malka until dawn.
  7. The Taamei Haminhagim (page 191, citing the Aishel Avraham of Botchetch) writes that perhaps if one did not eat Melava Malka on Motzei Shabbos, he may still eat it on Sunday as long as his intention is to escort the Shabbos queen. This is also the view of Harav Avigdor Neventzal shlit”a. (Biyitzchak Yikareh on Mishnah Berurah.
  8. There are those who make it a point not to remove their Shabbos clothes until after they have eaten the Melava Malka. (Kaf Hachaim 300:6) The Steipler zt”l, however, felt that one should remove his Shabbos clothes immediately following Havdala, even before Melava Malka. (Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 1 page 107)
  9. Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that if one’s challah is in the freezer he may remove it on Shabbos in order to thaw out and become edible for the Melava Malka and it is not a problem of Hachana. (Chazon Ovadia Shabbos vol. 2 page 447)
  10. Some have the custom to light candles (without any bracha) in honor of the Melava Malka. (Mishnah Berurah 300:3)

The Fast of Asara B’Teves

  1. The Fast of the Tenth of Teves marks the day that Nevuzadran, the Babylonian general, laid siege to Jerusalem prior to the destruction of the first Holy Temple. The siege lasted almost three years until the city walls were breached and the Temple was destroyed. This was the beginning of a long line of disasters on the Jewish people, including the first exile, and the destruction of the second Temple. This day is commemorated by refraining from eating and drinking from sunrise to nightfall.
  2. The purpose of the fast day is to stir our hearts in order that we utilize the paths of teshuva, repentance, and to serve as a reminder to us of our own actions and those of our forefathers. These iniquities are responsible for the terrible events which befell our people. Remembering these tragedies should lead us to examine our conduct and return to Hashem. One should not mistakenly, assume that abstinence from food and drink alone fulfills the requirement and purpose of the fast day. Rather, the true purpose of a fast day must be evidenced in one’s improved deeds. (Mishnah Berurah 549:1)
  3. This year the fast begins on Tuesday (Dec. 22) at 5:47 a.m. and ends at 5:17 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Even though the fast begins from dawn, sometimes the prohibition against eating begins from the previous evening. For example, if, before the arrival of dawn, a person decides not to eat any more until the fast begins, he is seen as having accepted the fast upon himself, and it is now forbidden for him to eat. Therefore, if a person goes to bed in anticipation of the fast and then rises before dawn, it is forbidden for him to eat, for he diverted his thoughts from eating. If one wishes to wake up before dawn (5:47) and eat or drink, he should stipulate before going to sleep that he intends to wake up early to eat or drink and that the fast should not begin until dawn. The Shulchan Aruch (564) rules that if one did not make this stipulation he may not eat or drink. However, according the Rama he may still drink, even without making a stipulation.
  4. Both men and women must fast on Asara B’Teves. (Shulchan Aruch 550:1)
  5. The Shulchan Aruch (554:5) writes that a pregnant woman need not fast on Asara B’Teves. The Rama (550:1), however, writes that if the pregnant or nursing woman is feeling good the custom is to fast. If she feels week she need not fast. Many poskim explain that the accepted practice today, even among Ashkenazic women, is for pregnant and nursing women to refrain from observing the minor fasts. And even a woman who wishes to be stringent and to observe the fast – if she experiences difficulty during her fast, or if the fast causes her to have less milk, thus causing discomfort to the baby, it is best that she refrain from fasting. (Orchos Chaim Spinka 550:4 and Siddur Yaavetz) For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.
  6. Nonetheless, if the woman isn’t fasting she shouldn’t eat lavish meals with meat and wine, but rather only what is necessary. (Shulchan Aruch ibid. and Mishnah Berurah 550:5)
  7. The pregnant or nursing woman who does not fast need not make up the fast on a different day. (Yechava Daas 1:35)
  8. One who is sick, even if there is no danger of dying is exempt from fasting and shouldn’t fast. Before one decides to break his fast he should first consult with a rav. If one is sick and does not fast he need not make up his fast on a different day. (Yechava Daas ibid. and Mishnah Berurah Biur Halacha 550)
  9. One need not train his children to fast, even at the age of twelve for boys or eleven for girls. Once they have reached the age of chinuch they shouldn’t eat lavish meals, but rather only what is necessary. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l and ybc”l Harav Neventzhal shlit”a write that although many boys have the custom to fast three fasts before they become bar-mitzvah, this custom has no source. (Mishnah Berurah 550:5, Halichos Shlomo vol. 3 page 398-399 and B’Yitzchak Yikare on Mishnah Berurah)
  10. The Mishnah Berurah (567:11) maintains that only if one is in pain may one rinse one’s mouth on Asara B’Teves and in such a case one should bend one’s head downward so one doesn’t swallow any water.
  11. If one has bad breath and it causes him discomfort or embarrassment, he may use mouthwash on Asara B’Teves. He may also brush his teeth with toothpaste but not with water. (Beer Moshe 8:94, Minchas Yitzchak 4:109)
  12. If one needs to take medicine on Asara B’Teves he may take them without water. If he can not swallow the pills without a little water, he may swallow a very small amount of water (just enough to get the pills down). (Opinion of Rav Debreczin zt”l cited in Nitev Gavriel Bein Hatzomos page 54)
  13. If one ate by mistake on a fast day he should nevertheless continue fasting afterwards. (Shulchan Aruch and Mishanh Berurah 568:1) The Mishna Brurah (568:3) says that even if one ate on a taanis, you can still say aneinu during the shemoneh esrei. Harav Wosner zt”l (Shevet Halevi 5:60) explains that this is only true for someone who began the fast and ate accidentally. However, one who is exempt from fasting altogether does not recite aneinu.
  14. Many have the custom to recite Avinu Malkeinu on public fast days. One can even say Avinu Malkeinu when davening without a minyan. (Ishei Yisroel 45:45)

Chanukah Candles And Shabbos

1: The time for lighting the Chanukah candles on Friday is after Plag Hamincha, before sunset, and should burn a half hour after Tzeis Hakochavim. Therefore, care should be taken to see that there should be enough oil in the Menorah at the time of the lighting, to burn for the required amount of time. One should preferably daven Mincha first and then kindle the Chanukah lights. However, if this is not possible, one may light first and then daven Mincha. One should rather daven Mincha with a minyan after lighting the Chanukah candles, then daven alone before lighting the candles. (See Shulchan Aruch 679 and Mishnah Berurah 2)
2. On Erev Shabbos, the Chanukah lights are kindled before the Shabbos candles even if a man is lighting the Shabbos candles. The reason is that there is a view which holds that men are mekabel Shabbos when he lights the Shabbos candles and melacha is prohibited. Although most poskim disagree with this view, and feel that men are not mekabel Shabbos when lighting the Shabbos candles, the custom is to preferably conduct himself accordingly.
3. However, if a man lit the Shabbos candles and did not intend to usher in Shabbos, he may kindle the Chanukah lights afterwards. This Halacha concerns a man, who does not accept Shabbos by lighting the Shabbos candles. However, when a woman lights the Shabbos candles, the custom that the she does accept Shabbos and is prohibited from doing any melacha. Therefore, if she should, accidentally, light the Shabbos candles, she is no longer permitted to kindle the Chanukah lights. She should, instead, instruct another person to light for her (as long as it is before sunset) and recite the blessing “Lehadlik Ner Shel Chanuka” on her behalf. She may, however, recite “Sheasa Nissim”. (Mishnah Berurah 679:1)
4. The poskim debate whether one should light the Chanukah lights before reciting Havdalah this Motzei Shabbos, or is Havdalah recited before kindling the Chanukah lights. (See Shulchan Aruch, Rama, Mishnah Berurah and Biur Halacha 681 for full discussion) In shul, the custom is to light Chanukah lights first. At home, however, since there is basis for both views, one should continue to conduct himself according to his own custom. If one has no specific custom he should perform Havdalah first and then kindle the Chanukah lights. (Opinion of Harav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin zt”l cited in Luach and of Harav Shimon Eider zt”l in Halachos of Chanukah page 44)

New Halacha Program

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Hebrew Sefer Update

Hi, I only have a few copies left of my most recent Hebrew sefer Umekareiv Biyamin volume 2, where I discuss some of the most commonly posed questions to those in kiruv and rabbanus. The cost of the sefer is $16 in the US. If you would like to order a copy please let me know so that I can reserve a copy for you, please email me at Below is the table of contents from the sefer. Thank you and samples of the sefer are available upon request.


תוכן הענינים

עניני תפלה
סימן א’ בענין בעל תשובה שלא אמר קדיש על אביו בשנה הראשונה אם יאמר אחר כך
ובו יבואר: שיטת האר”י ז”ל בסוד ענין אמירת קדיש – משפט רשעים בגיהנם י”ב חודש – דברי הרב אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק זצ”ל – דברי הרב יעקב הלל שליט”א

סימן ב’ בענין תפילה בשביל אחר שיחזור בתשובה
ובו יבואר: קושיות המהרש”א – שיטת החזון איש

סימן ג’ בענין בעל תשובה ספרדי שחזר בתשובה אצל חב”ד, איך עליו לנהוג לענין מנהגים ותפלה
ובו יבואר: שיטת הגאון רבי עובדיה יוסף זצ”ל – שיטת הגאון רבי שלמה זלמן אורבך זצ”ל – שיטת הגאון רבי חיים פינחס שיינברג זצ”ל – אין לשנות הנוסח שלו – נוסח עדות מזרח ודעת האר”י ז”ל – דעת המחמירים אף בזה – מתוך מה שלבו חפץ

סימן ד’ בדבר טלפון, רדיו ומיקרופון לכל דבר שבקדושה
חלק ראשון- השומע קדיש וברכות ע”י מכשירים כאלו אם יש לענות אמן אחריהם
ובו יבואר: חילוק בין נד”ד לברכה מעל טייפ – דיעות הפוסקים שיש לענות אמן בכל ענין
חלק שני- ואם יכול לצאת ידי חובתו (כמו למגילה והבדלה) ע”י מכשירים כאלו
ובו יבואר: הבנת פוסקי דורנו בפעולת מכשיר הטלפון וכדומה – צד להתיר בקריאת המגילה והבדלה לפי האגרות משה והציץ אליעזר – העומד סמוך לשליח צבור שקורא המגילה במיקרופון – מכונת שמיעה (Hearing Aid)

סימן ה’ ברכת שהחיינו על קיום מצוה בפעם הראשונה
ובו יבואר: שיטות הראשונים בזה – שיטות הסוברים לברך – שיטות הסוברים שלא לברך – דעת הפרי תואר

סימן ו’ בענין אם מותר לנגן קטעי תפלה ובקשות בניגוני נכרים
ובו יבואר: מקור הדברים – שלא בשעת תפלה – דעת המגן אברהם – ניגון נכרי – שירי גוים שנשתכחו

סימן ז’ תפילה במקום שתלו שם צורת שתי וערב
ובו יבואר: דברי התרומת הדשן

עניני תורה
סימן ח’ בענין אם מותר לכבד את מי שאינו דתי למלאות אות בהכנסת ספר תורה
ובו יבואר: אם יש לחילונים דזמננו חלות שם מחלל ש”ק בפרהסיא – תינוק שנשבה – אי מילוי אות נחשב ככתיבה

סימן ט’ בענין אם מותר להזכיר שמות השם הנזכרים בתלמוד ובמדרשים
ובו יבואר: דעת המתירים – חצי פסוק – סברא לחלק בין פסוקים וברכות – דעת האוסרים

סימן י’ בענין לימוד תורה לתלמיד שאינו הגון ואם יש לחוש לזה למעשה בזמננו
ובו יבואר: מקורות לדין זה – שיטת המאירי – דברי הערוך השלחן – שיטת השלחן ערוך הרב

סימן י”א בענין לימוד תורה שבעל פה ושבכתב לנשים
ובו יבואר: כאילו מלמדה תפלות – תורה שבכתב – פשטות תורה שבכתב – מפרשי תנ”ך – לא כדורות הראשונים דורות האחרונים – דינים השייכים לאשה – ביאור “חיוב” זה – תורה שבעל פה – אגדות חז”ל ומוסר – שיטת הגאון רבי יוסף דוב הלוי סולוביצי’יק זצ”ל

סימן י”ב בענין שותפות יששכר וזבולון
ובו יבואר: מקור הדברים – מחלוקת הראשונים בביאור השותפות של יששכר וזבולון – שיטת רבינו ירוחם (ע”פ האגרות משה) – שיטת רב האי גאון – שיטת רבינו ירוחם (ע”פ הגרש”ק זצ”ל) – אם חולקים השכר ממש

עניני פדיון הבן
סימן י”ג בענין פדיון הבן אצל איש שאינו יודע אם הוא כהן, לוי או ישראל
ובו יבואר: פדיון הבן נחשב דבר שבממון – סתירה מגמרא בכורות – שיטת הצמח צדק (הראשון) – דברי הקונטרס הספיקות – שיטת ההפלאה בדין אין הולכין בממון אחר הרוב – דעת החולקים על ההפלאה – אם האב יפדה את בנו הגדול או אם הבן יפדה את עצמו

סימן י”ד בתולה שזינתה וילדה בן זכר ומת ואח”כ נישאה וילדה בן זכר והבעל רוצה לפדותו והוא אינו פטר רחם אם מחוייבת להודיעו
ובו יבואר: אם ברכה שאינה צריכה הוי איסור דרבנן או דאורייתא – איסורים וכבוד הבריות – דין לובש שעטנז בשוגג

עניני שמות
סימן ט”ו האם מותר לקרות בנו ע”ש אביו הנפטר שלא שמר תורה ומצוות
ובו יבואר: חשיבות של שמות האדם – קריאת בנו אחר אביו הוי קיום כיבוד אב ואם – ושם רשעים ירקב – שמא עשה תשובה קודם מיתה – כשהנפטר היה בעל מדות טובות – צירוף עוד שם לברכה – בשעת קריאת השם יכוון על צדיק באותו שם

סימן ט”ז בענין נתינת שם נכרי לבן ישראל
ובו יבואר: דעת האוסרים – תרגום של לשון הקודש – מדינא מותר

ענין ארץ ישראל
סימן י”ז עליה לארץ ישראל בניגוד לרצון ההורים
ובו יבואר: מצוות יישוב ארץ ישראל – דעת הרמב”ן דמצותה מן התורה – דעת הרמב”ם – דעת רבינו חיים כהן – דעות הפוסקים בנדון דידן שיש לעשות עליה – דעות הפוסקים בנדון דידן שיש לשמוע להורים – מצוות יישוב ארץ ישראל הוי מצוה קיומית

עניני שבת ויו”ט
סימן י”ח בענין אם מותר לעשות ריקודים בשבת
ובו יבואר: שיטת התוספות – צד להחמיר אף להרמ”א – דעת הערוך השלחן – דעת המנחת אלעזר

סימן י”ט בענין הזמנת מחללי שבת לסעודת יום טוב
ובו יבואר: בישול לצורך עכו”ם – להזמינו לסעודת יום טוב – מחלל שבת בפרהסיא נידון כגוי מן התורה או מדרבנן – לבשל בשבילו בקדרה אחרת

סימן כ’ אם מותר לנסוע במוצאי שבת קודש עם נהג שברור שלא הבדיל כלל
ובו יבואר: לפני עור לא תתן מכשול – לומר “שבוע טוב” – שיטת הציץ אליעזר – דברי הגרי”ז על הרמב”ם

ענין צדקה
סימן כ”א בענין קבלת צדקה מעכו”ם וממומר לחלל שבת בפרהסיא
ובו יבואר: אין מקבלין צדקה מגוי – אם יש איסור בצינעה – חילוק בין קבלת צדקה משר ומלך ובין קבלה מעכו”ם יחידי – קבלת צדקה מנוצרים – קבלת צדקה מארגון או ממדינה – תמיכה מן השלטון (welfair) – קבלת מתנה מנכרי – קבלת מתנה וצדקה ממומר – רשימת שמות של מומרים

עניני נשואין
סימן כ”ב בענין נוסח הכתובה של אנשים ונשים עם בעיות מיוחדות
ובו יבואר: כתיבת הכתובה באופן שהכלה אינה בתולה – כתיבת שמות ההורים של חתן וכלה מאומצים – איש או אשה שאביהם גוי ואמם ישראלית – כתובת גרים וגיורות

סימן כ”ג השתתפות בחתונה באולם הנמצא ב”בית כנסת” רפורמי וקונסרבטיבי וכן לענין השתתפות בחתונה בין יהודי לעכו”ם
ובו יבואר: כניסה לבית כנסת רפורמי וקונסרבטיבי – חתונה בין ישראל לעכו”ם

סימן כ”ד בענין נישואין עם משפחות שלא שמרו טהרת משפחה
ובו יבואר: מקור הדברים – בעלי מדות טובות – האם הפגם הוא להמשך לדורות – דעת הגאון רבי משה פיינשטין זצ”ל

סימן כ”ה בענין אם מותר לכהן לישא אשה שאביה גוי ואמה ישראלית
ובו יבואר: מחלוקת הראשונים בבת נכרי לכהן – אם נשאת לא תצא – מה נחשב בדיעבד – קבלת זרע מבנק זרע

עניני עבודה זרה
סימן כ”ו בענין כניסה לכנסיה (Church) וכל המסתעף
ובו יבואר: להתרחק מדרך עבודת כוכבים ד’ אמות – איסור כניסה לבית עבודה זרה – כניסה במקום פקוח נפש – כניסה כדי למנוע הפסד ממון – כניסה במקום איבה – כניסה בשביל הבחירות (Voting) – משחקי ילדים באולם השייך לתיפלה דעכו”ם – הליכה בחצר עבודת כוכבים – דעת הסוברים שישמעאלים הם עובדי עבודה זרה – דעת הסוברים שישמעאלים אינם עובדי עבודה זרה

סימן כ”ז בענין האיסור של כישוף ומזלות
ובו יבואר: תמים תהיה עם ה’ אלקיך – הבטחה ולא ציווי – פעולות הכישוף וכדו’ אם יש להם מציאות אמיתית – קוסם קסמים – טעם האיסור – איזהו קוסם – גורל החול (Geomancy) – לשאול קוסמים במקום סכנה – לדעת העתידות עפ”י חכמת היד והפרצוף – מעונן – גדר האיסור – אחיזת עינים – אחיזת עינים לדעת הרמב”ם – אחיזת עינים לשיטת הרדב”ז – אם מותר להזמין “קוסם” (magician) למסיבת חתן וכלה או ביום הפורים – להזמין קוסם גוי – טעם להקל להזמין קוסם וביאור שיטת הרמב”ם – חכמת האיצטגנינות (Astrology) – לדעת הטבעים – מנחש – ניחוש וסימן – סימנא מילתא – ניחוש כאשר לא אומר במפורש שכוונתו לניחוש – גורל הגר”א – השימוש בגורל ע”י גדולי ליטא – פסוק לי פסוקך – בענין קמיעין

עניני הגר
סימן כ”ח דין הגר בברכת שלא עשני גוי
ובו יבואר: שעשני גר – לא יברך כלום – שלא עשני גוי

סימן כ”ט גר שנתגייר האם כליו טעונים טבילה
ובו יבואר: דעת הסוברים שיש חיוב טבילה – דעות הפוסקים שאין חיוב טבילה כלל

עניני אוכלים
סימן ל’ בענין ברכות על מאכלים שאינם כשרים
ובו יבואר: פסק השלחן ערוך

סימן ל”א בענין אם מותר לאכול אצל קרוב שאינו שומר דיני כשרות, ולהאמינו שהמאכלים כשרים
ובו יבואר: שיטת האגרות משה

סימן ל”ב אם מותר לבעל תשובה לאכול אצל הוריו בכלים שלהם
ובו יבואר: שיטת הרמ”א והש”ך – כלי חרס – כלי זכוכית – כלי זכוכית בשאר איסורים

ענין צניעות
סימן ל”ג כמה שאלות בעניני יחוד
ובו יבואר: מקור לאיסור יחוד ואי הוי איסור תורה – שיטת הרמב”ם – איש אחר עם שתי נשים – טעם איסור יחוד – שיעור יחוד – יחוד במעלית (elevator) – דעת המהרי”ל דיסקין וחצי שיעור ביחוד – יחוד אח ואחותו – שיעור קביעות – שיטת הגאון רבי משה פיינשטין זצ”ל – יחוד עם בן ובת מאומצים (Adopted) – האם לגר מותר להתייחד עם קרובותיו שמגיותו

Are Kohanim Allowed To Visit Kivrei Tzadikim (the graves of the Righteous)?

Jewish law prohibits a kohen from coming in close proximity to any dead body or to a cemetery.  In this article we will focus on the discussion amongst the poskim as to whether there is legitimate basis to allow kohanim to visit the graves of tzadikim or is this act unequivocally prohibited.

Sources which suggest a lenient ruling

1) The Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni 944) records an episode that occurred immediately following the brutal murder of Rav Akiva. Eliyahu Hanavi came to bury Rav Akiva. As Eliyahu carried Rav Akiva’s body on his shoulders, Rav Yehoshua, one of Rav Akiva’s main disciples, wondered how this is permitted if in fact Eliyahu was a kohen (as was indicated previously in the Midrash). Eliyahu responded: “Rav Yehoshua, my son, heaven forbid for tumah does not exist when it comes to talmidei chachamim or their sudents.” Some poskim feel that the statement of Eliyahu can serve as a source to allow kohanim to visit the graves of tzadikim.

Tosafos (Baba Metzia 114b), however, maintains that there exists a prohibition for kohanim to come in close proximity of the corpse or graves of the righteous. He addresses the Midrash and explains that Eliyahus response to Rav Yehoshua was aimed at preventing further questioning rather than expressing a true halacha. The real reason Eliyahu was permitted to bury Rav Akiva was due to the fact that Rav Akiva had the status of a “meis mitzvah” (a body without enough people for burial) which a kohen is allowed to contaminate himself for. He was considered a “meis mitzvah” because no one else would bury him out of fear of facing repercussions from the government. [The Ramban (Yevamos 61a) rejects this opinion of Tosafos on the grounds that it would seem unacceptable for  Eliyahu Hanavi to offer a false response in order to avoid further questions. One who hears that statement is likely to take him literally and may issue an erroneous hallachic ruling.] In addition the Sefer Haeshkol (vol. 2 page 174) cites the lenient ruling of the Midrash and comments that we should not base our hallachic rulings upon aggadic statements of the Midrashim unless the ruling was codified by the Gemara.

2) The second source that suggests a lenient ruling is a Gemara in Kesubos (103b). The Gemara tells us that when Rav Yehuda Hanasi died, “kedusha” (holiness) was removed from the world. Tosafos cites the opinion of Rav Chaim Kohen who explains that the “holiness” in this context is referencing the holiness of the kohanim. Meaning that kohanim took place in the burial of Harav Yehuda Hanasi. He adds that if he had been present for the funeral of Rabbeinu Tam he would have attended, even though he himself was a kohen. The Rashash feels that this too would suggest that there is no prohibition for a kohen to become tamei through touching a tzaddik’s grave.

However, it should be noted that most authorities feel that one cannot extend the comments of Tosafos to allow kohanim to visit kivrei tzadikim. It could be easily argued that there is a special leniency to allow a kohen to become tamei for a Nasi (such as Rav Yehuda Hanasi) who dies, and this dispensation does not apply to other tzadikim. In fact the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 374:10) rules that a kohen is permitted to become tamei by exposing himself to come in contact with the body of a Nasi. The logic for this ruling is that the position of the Nasi is considered to be so exalted that he is always considered to be a “meis mitzvah”, as there are never a sufficient amount if people to pay him the proper respect. [The Bais Yosef comments that Rav Chaim Kohen merely felt that this leniency may be applied to any leader of klal yisroel and therefore he would have allowed himself to attend the funeral of Rabbeinu Tam.]

What’s more, this leniency to contaminate for a Nasi is only extended to allow kohanim to attend the funeral; however, to subsequently visit the grave would be prohibited. In addition it is worthy to note that Rabbeinu Bachya (Kad Hakemach- Ahava) limits this leniency even more still. He explains that this leniency applies only to Rav Yehuda Hanasi who died with G-d’s kiss (“misas neshika”). Tumah stems from the angel of death and therefore tzadikim who were worthy of dying through G-d directly do not transmit any tumah. Other tzadikim who did not merit this form of death would indeed contaminate kohanim.

Sources which suggest a stringent ruling

1) The Gemara in Sukah (25b) states that (according to some) the people who initially approached Moshe Rabbeinu about the possibility of making up for the korban pesach that was missed due to tumah, were the men carrying the body of Yosef Hatzadik. Now it is obvious that Yosef was a tremendous tzadik, yet these men became contaminated from contacting his body. It is thus clear that the corpse of a tzadik can transmit tumah and kohanim should not be allowed to visit their gravesites. [It should be noted that the Avnei Nezer (Y.D. 166:17) wishes to reconcile the fact that Yosef Hatzadik seemingly transmitted tumah while Eliyahu buried Rav Akiva (as cited in the Midrash earlier). He explains that if the tzadik was murdered, his body will not contaminate others, however, if he died naturally then he will make others tamei. He based his opinion on the words of the Zohar Hakadosh. According to the Avnei Nezer, kohanim would be allowed to visit the grave of a tzadik who was murdered, such as Rav Akiva.]

2) The Gemara in Baba Basra (58a) tells us that Rav Binah marked off the graves of the Patriarchs in Maaras Hamachpela. The Rashbam, Tosafos and the Rif all explain that the reason that Rav Binah marked off the graves was to alert the kohanim of the presence of tumah so that they can avoid those areas entirely.

[However, Rav Yaakov Emden zt”l, in his Hagaos Yaavetz, offers an alternate explanation. He writes that the purpose of marking the locations of the graves in the Maaras Hamachpela could not have been for kohanim to avoid tumah because kivrei tzadikim do not transmit tumah. Rather, the graves were marked so that Jews in future generations would be able to daven at the graves of the Avos.

3) The Gemara in Sanhedrin (39a) records a conversation that took place between a heretic and Rav Avahu. The heretic asked how G-d purified himself after burying Moshe Rabbeinu, because the pasuk indicates that G-d is a kohen. Rav Avahu responded that instead of using water, G-d purified Himself by immersing in fire. Tosafos wonders why the heretic did not question how G-d was allowed to bury Moshe in the first place if He is in fact a kohen. Tosafos explains that because the Jews are considered children of G-d (“banim lamakom”) there is no problem with G-d contaminating Himself by coming in contact with a Jewish body, the same way a kohen is allowed to bury his own son. The Gemara seems to indicate that even though Moshe Rabbeinu was both a tzadik and a talmid chacham his body would transmit tumah.


The View Of The Raavad

The Raavad (Neziros 5:17) writes that since all kohanim are currently tamei, they may contaminate themselves further. The Mishnah Lemelech (Avel 3:1) understood that the Raavad was practically permitting current day kohanim to visit cemeteries since that are already impure. Therefore, one can argue that kohanim should be permitted to visit the graves of tzaddikim based upon a safek sefeka: Perhaps the ruling follows the Raavad, that kohanim may visit all graves, and even if the law does not follow the Raavad perhaps the law is that tzaddikim do not transmit tumah. However, this thought process is incorrect, as the Mishnah Lemelech explains, since the Raavad’s view is completely unaccepted one can not use his view as (even a partial) rational to permit kohanim to visit any graves, even that of the righteous. In addition the Noda Biyehuda (Dagul Mervava YD 372:2) argues that even the Raavad may agree that kohanim are still prohibited to visit graves today. The Raavad was merely arguing that kohanim will no longer receive lashes for contamination, however, he agrees that it is still forbidden. The Chasam Sofer (YD 338) also writes that the Raavad forbids kohanim from becoming contaminated..

The rulings of the poskim

While some poskim  permitted kohanim to visit the graves of tzadikim, however, the overwhelming majority of the poskim forbid any kohen to come in contact with the corpse or grave of a tzadik, I will list some of them here: Sefer Haeshkol, Maharil (150), Shu”t Batei Kehuna (1:23), Mishpitei Tzedek (76), Sdei Chemed (vol. 8 page 292), Hilchos Ketanos (177), Zais Ranan (Y.D. 2:27), Pe’as Hashulchan (2:16), Tuv Tam V’Daas (Rav Shlomo Kluger Y.D. 2:231), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (202:14), Divrei Yechezkel, Yaskil Avdi (vol. 8 page 192), Yechave Daas (Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l 4:48), Tzitz Eliezer (15:58), and Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l (Shaarei Halacha Uminhag YD 150)

[See Tzitz Eliezer 15:58, 16:18,3 for a discussion as to whether Kever Rachel was constructed in a way to permit kohanim entry according to all authorities. Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo Sefiras Haomer chapter eleven note 86) denies the claim that kohanim can enter the kever of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai. He writes that the construction does not permit entry under any circumstance.]

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