Monday, July 23, 2018

Does Halachah allow sitting next to a woman on an airplane fight or not?

Does Halachah allow sitting next to a woman on an airplane fight or not?
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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Prepare For The Best

The best time to mentally prepare yourself for times of adversity is when things are going well and you are in a resourceful state.

Adversity is a challenge that enables you to develop attributes that wouldn't be developed in easier times. Keep building up the inner resources that will enable you to cope well with difficulties. If you are in the middle of a difficulty right now, then right now is the best time to build up those resources. You won't have to wait and see if the inner resources you need are becoming a part of you, you will see results right away.

Develop courage and confidence. Develop persistence and resilience. Develop optimism and hope. How can you develop these qualities? Visualize yourself mastering them. See, hear, and feel yourself being confident and courageous. See, hear, and feel yourself persisting and bouncing back. Right now feel an inner sense of optimism that you will cope well with difficulties. And if a difficulty arises that you don't cope with as well as you wished, learn from the experience to cope better next time.

Love Yehuda Lave


Shimshon Nadel

From this week's "Medina & Halacha"


It was announced last week that El Al, Israel's national carrier, will remove any passenger who refuses to sit next to another passenger for any reason. The announcement comes following an incident just days prior, when a flight from New York to Israel was delayed by more than an hour after four religious men refused to sit in their assigned seats next to women. The story 'went viral,' and in response, a large tech company threatened to boycott the airline, prompting El Al's decision.

In June 2017, just one year ago, a Jerusalem court ruled that airline employees cannot ask women to change seats after Renee Rabinowitz, a woman in her 80's, sued El Al for making her change her seat on a 2015 flight from Newark to Tel Aviv.

Those of us who travel frequently are quite familiar with the following scene: Delayed departures as the cabin crew attempts to accommodate passengers who refuse to sit next to women, claiming Jewish Law does not allow for it.

But is it permissible for a man to sit next to a woman according to Jewish Law?

It is prohibited for a man to touch a woman who is forbidden to him. In the context of forbidden relationships, the Torah instructs: "…Do not come close to uncovering Ervah" (Vayikra 18:6). Acording to the Rambam, it is a Torah prohibition to "come close" through affectionate touching (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 21:1; Sefer Hamitzvot, Lo Ta'aseh no. 353). The Ramban disagrees, and concludes that this prohibition is Rabbinic; a "fence around the Torah" to prevent sin (Commentary to Sefer Hamitzvot, ad loc.).

However, the type of touching that is prohibited is limited to touching out of affection or desire, which provides gratification (Rambam, Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 21:1. See also Shach, Yoreh De'ah 157:10). Unintentional or incidental contact is not prohibited.

Asked if one may travel on a crowded subway or bus during rush hour, when men and women are pressed up against one another and physical contact is unavoidable, Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled it is indeed permissible as "this is not the way of desire and affection" (Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 2:14). Rav Moshe continues and advises those concerned that the unavoidable contact may lead them to impure thoughts to fill their minds with Torah thoughts instead.

Similar rulings are found in the responsa of Rav Ovadia Hedaya (Yaskil Avdi, Even Ha-Ezer 5:23) and Rav Menashe Klein (Mishneh Halachot 4:186). In a 2011 interview, when asked about Mehadrin bus lines, Rav Avraham Yosef, Chief Rabbi of Holon, called the separate-seating buses "unnecessary."

Accordingly, one may sit next to a member of the opposite sex on a flight. Any physical contact is unintentional and incidental and therefore not prohibited.

Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, however, is stringent. Concerned that contact - even unintentional - could lead to impure thoughts, he rules that is preferable to stand rather then sit next to a woman (Shevet Halevi 4:136).

Those who want to be stringent and avoid sitting next to a member of the opposite sex, can stand during the flight (excluding takeoff and landing, of course), or purchase a seat in Business or First Class, where they will have plenty of room for themselves.

Stringency and personal piety should never come at the expense of someone else, or create a 'Chilul Hashem,' a 'Desecration of God's Name.' As Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto writes: "One who seeks to be truly pious must weigh all his actions in relation to their outcome and in relation to all of the accompanying circumstance: the time, social environment, situation, and place. And if refraining [from an act] will produce a greater sanctification of the Name of Heaven, and greater satisfaction before Him than doing the act, he should refrain and not do it" (Mesilat Yesharim, Chap. 20).

Those causing flight delays and making passengers and crew members uncomfortable, should consider how their stringent behavior impacts others and be stringent in the mitzvah of loving their fellow as themselves.

A father transmits to his son beauty, strength, wealth, wisdom, and longevity (Eidiyos 2:9).

While some character traits, or at least tendencies to certain traits, appear to have a genetic factor, the lion's share of attitudes are learned. Undoubtedly the most significant influence on a child is his parents' attitudes, rather than their genetic composition.

One psychologist said, "If you have given your child self-confidence, you have given him everything. If you have not given your child self-confidence, then regardless of whatever else you have given, you have given nothing."

The crucial question is: What should parents do to help their child develop self-confidence? While many fine books suggest techniques to avoid common practices that depress a child's self-esteem, one factor overrides all else: self-esteem is contagious. Parents who feel secure about themselves will convey an attitude of security and self-confidence to their children. Parents who are insecure and anxiety-ridden are not likely to foster self-confidence in their children, regardless of how many books on parenting they may have absorbed.

As with so much else, the place to begin is with ourselves. By far the most effective way to instill a positive sense of self-awareness in our children is by developing our own self-awareness which will both lead to the discovery of our strengths and skills, and will reveal existing deficits that may then be corrected. Not only will the parents then transmit their self-esteem, the children may also benefit by observing the methods that their parents use to achieve positive feelings about themselves.

Today I shall ...

try to enhance my self-esteem and overcome my anxieties and insecurities.

Ben and Jerry's Ice cream in Israel comes in the following flavors

Wailing walnut

Moish mellow

Mazal toffee

Chazal nut


Mi Ka-mocha

Soda and Gamorra

Bernard Malamint

Berry Pri-Hagafen

Choc Eilat


Finally Simhas Torreo
It should be noted that all these flavors come with a Cohen.
Only in Israel

Game Changer
 By Shmuel Sackett

There's a well-known term that I would like to look at from a different perspective and it's called "Game Changer". Political analysts have written many articles trying to figure out exactly what the game changer was for Donald Trump, when he ran against Hillary Clinton. Sports columnists are always writing about the game changer in a championship season and business people are constantly talking about the game changer in the economy or stock market. Now it's my turn and I want to know about a completely different game changer. In the last 2,000 years, what was the game changer for the Jewish nation?

I would imagine that over these last 2,000 years there have been many game changers for our nation. The Mishna/Talmud was definitely a game changer and so was the printing press. Rashi was a game changer and so was the Rambam and many years later, the holy Baal Shem Tov added his name to that unique list as well. Sarah Schenirer was unquestionably a game changer with her founding of the Bais Yaakov network and – as unfortunate and tragic as it was – the Holocaust was a game changer as well. But what else? What event – in the last 100 years – changed the face of the Jewish world forever? Think about something so grand, so awesome and so incredible that was done to our nation that, simply put, changed life for every Jew on the planet… including those that hadn't even been born yet! Put on your "thinking cap". What was it?

The answer is simple; the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Until we build the Bet Ha'Mikdash and restore the Davidic dynasty with Moshiach ben David, nothing will ever come close to that nation-changing event. I believe that of all game changers listed above this was the greatest of all, for one reason; the State of Israel – and only the State of Israel - will ensure that Jewish life continues and will preserve all previous game changers. In 100 years from now, who in Europe will know how to read Rashi? How many Jews in South Africa, Mexico and Argentina will be connected to the Baal Shem Tov and, sadly, even in America, outside of a few pockets of Torah communities, who will send their daughters to Bais Yaakov? Let's face reality; the founding of Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) was the game-changing-game-changer of the last 2,000 years.

As I have written many times in the past, my love for the State of Israel does not blind me to the truth. Things here are not perfect but what is perfect in life? Is your job perfect? Are your kids perfect? Are you perfect? Be honest… The important point to stress is that despite the imperfections, the shortcomings and the high price of gasoline, this is the greatest gift our nation has received in the last 2,000 years! The Jewish Nation has returned home! Places mentioned in the Bible and studied in history classes have come to life with thousands of Jewish children running through the streets of Bet El, Shilo and Kiryat Arba. Mitzvot that were ignored for thousands of years such as Shmittah, Orlah and Ma'aser Sheni are being studied and practiced throughout the Land and most important of all; there's more Torah studied today in Eretz Yisrael than ever before!

Baruch Hashem, what a privilege it is to see a strong Jewish army, houses being built across the country in the tens of thousands and delicious, sweet fruit grown in the land by Jewish farmers who keep all agricultural halachot. Let me summarize and rephrase all this into one simple sentence: What our grandparents dreamed about… we live!

People living in Israel – with all the problems and imperfections - are living the dream… the dream of 2,000 years of coming back to our homeland. You cannot ignore that reality. You cannot sit during these "Three Weeks" and cry about Jerusalem when, instead, you should be dealing with the construction and not just the destruction.

This week, during the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute, said that there's no mitzvah in the Torah to cry but there is a mitzvah to build. How right he is! We need to build the Land, we need to build our Nation and we need to build the third and final Bet Ha'Mikdash. No longer are we a weak and broken people. Our King has given us strength, motivation, direction and all the tools necessary to repair 2,000 years of damage. Let's make it happen now because… the game has change

Beyond Words

Selected Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane,


Volume 7


Ashamed of G-d

"Our fathers trusted in You:  they trusted, and You did deliver them.  They cried to You, and were rescued; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed . . . "

(Psalms, 22:5-6) 


And the Rabbis comment: "They cried to You, and were rescued, as it says

(Exodus 14:30): 'On that day, G-d saved Israel . . .' And why? Because of the merit of trust in G-d." (Yalkut, Tehillim 22, 685)


At first glance – and, indeed, at second and third – the verse seems most inscrutable.  "They trusted in You, and were not ashamed."  Of what did they have to be ashamed?  What is this praise of our fathers who trusted in G-d and were not "ashamed"?  Why should they have been ashamed?  And similarly, the complete meaning of the rabbinical comment concerning the reason for G-d having saved the Children of Israel at the Red Sea is: "All because of the merit of trust and for not being ashamed" (Midrash Tehillim, 22).  In a word, what place does shame have in this picture of trust and faith in G-d?


For those who lived and walked the earth until perhaps a century ago, the question would have certainly been a difficult one; but in these days when, for the first time in the history of man's sojourn on earth, secularism rules the waves and land, heavens and the earth, the though is a very familiar one.


The truth is that, today, in the era of the dictatorship of the news media, the secular, liberal, arrogant, cynical, news media, it is embarrassing to bring G-d into anything that smacks of this world, of political events, of economic determinism, of social issues.  It is absolutely medieval and backward to speak of G-d as a meaningful factor, let along THE meaningful factor of life.  It is stark bumpkinism and Babbitism to mix G-d in the company of Gorbachev and Baker and Kohl; one simply does not invite Him to the same party.  And to state that our troubles stem from our sins and refusal to obey His law, to state a belief in the reality of Divine Providence and reward and punishment, is to bring down upon one the worst of epithets: Fanatic, Zealot, and the worst of the worst – Khomeini!


And that is enough to send people rushing into their shell of caution.  That is sufficient to shut mouths and minds.  For who wishes to be called Khomeini or fanatic or zealot?  Indeed, who wants to be called any kind of name, to be held up to the mocking and jeering of the intellectual and journalistic elite?  We are, quite frankly ashamed of being ridiculed, and so we do that which is best guaranteed to protect us from that shame:  We shut up and speak only those things that are acceptable in this bright, new secular-liberal-intellectual Kingdom of Man.


This fear of same and ridicule spreads throughout the land.  No longer does Gush Emunim or any of the "religious nationalists" base their claims to the Land of Israel, in public at least, on the reactionary, ridiculous, backward concepts of G-d and Divine law.  One can close his eyes and listen to them and then to the Gandhis and Sharons and Eytans and Geula Cohens and never know the difference.  The only ones who base their nationalism and their demands to annex the lands of Israel on G-d and Divine law are the last of the fanatics and zealots and Khomeinis – the followers of "Kahanism."  The last of the Middle Agers.  And one understands clearly what the verse means:  "They trusted in You, and were not ashamed."


And this did the Rama write (Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chaim 1:1) in the very first paragraph of the great Code:


"And he should not be ashamed of people who mock him in the service of G-d."  No shame. Trust in Him and be not ashamed.  Speak the truth and be not ashamed.  Fanatic? Khomeini? Kahanist?  If by that it is meant one who believes that only G-d and His Torah define and decree the path of Jews – then accept the "shame" with pride.  Does it mean that G-d is the One Who controls history and that that which will be, will be because of Divine reward and punishment?  Then, we accept the compliments with thanks.  Does it mean belief that G-d is stronger and more relevant than Bush and Gorbachev, and that He will save Jews and Israel with no allies if only Jews will obey Him?  If so, let us order another round of "humiliation"!


"And he should not be ashamed of people who mock him in the service of G-d."  And more.  The source of the Rama's words is the Tur who writes, in part: "For sometimes a person is ashamed before other people more than he is before G-d.  Therefore he is warned to harden his forehead against the mockers and not be ashamed."  And concerning this the Beit Yosef (brought down in the Mishna Brura) states that nevertheless one should not quarrel with the mockers, since the trait of hardness is to be denigrated even in the service of G-d.  Which brings the following comment from the Chofetz Chaim in the Biur Halachic (Orach Chaim 1), a comment that should be instructive to all the righteous deplores of lashon hara and invective against the wicked:


"Know that the Beit Yosef only speaks of one who does a personal mitzvah and is mocked . . . but if he is in a place of apikorsim (scoffers or unbelievers) who rise up against Torah and wish to make changes in the community and lead people from the will of G-d, and he began peacefully and they did not listen – concerning that the Beit Yosef never spoke a syllable, and it is a mitzvah to hate them and to quarrel with them and foil their designs as much as possible.  And King David said (Psalms 139:21-22):  "Do I not hate, O L-rd those who hate you?  And do I not quarrel with those who rise up against You?  With the utmost hatred, I hate them; I regard them as my own enemies."


Ashamed of those who mock the follower of G-d?  Quite the opposite.  Let them not arrogantly set the standards so that truth becomes a thing of mockery.  Rather stand up and decry them and call them the backward, fanatic zealots of empty secularism that they are.  Let them bear the shame of "values" that destroy the soul and the world itself.  Roll away shame and reply to those who mock and shame G-d and those who follow Him.  And in the words of King David (ibid., 119:22-42):


"Remove from upon me scorn and contempt, for I have kept Your testimonies . . . . And I will answer him who taunts me, for I trust in Your word . . . "


We shrink from being taunted and ridiculed.  We wish to be "accepted."  We are ashamed of criticism.  That is the tragedy and that is the power of the left-liberal fanatic know-nothings.  Let David, King of Israel, be our model.  David who said (ibid.; 46):


"And I will speak of Your testimonies before kings and I will not be ashamed."  And in the Talmud (Brachot 4):  "Thus did David say to the All Mighty:  Sovereign of the Universe! Am I not righteous?  All the kings of East and West sit in groups in honor and my hands are bloody as I rule on the laws that will permit a woman for her husband . . .  What is the verse concerning this?  And I will speak of Your testimonies before kings and I will not be ashamed . . . '"


Those who hate Torah mock those who practice it.  They know the truth and because, for some personal, psychological reason, they cannot or will not follow it – they hate those who do and attempt to destroy them and their way of life through ridicule.  As David said (Psalms 69:5,8)

"They who hate me without cause are more abundant than the hairs of my head.  Mighty are those who would cut me off, those who are unjustly my foes; what I never stole I must then restore.  Because for Your sake I have borne insult; humiliation covered my face.  They who sit in the gate talk about me, and I am the song of drunkards . . . "  And not for a moment did David retreat in shame.  For he was a "zealot" for G-d, a "Fanatic" for the creator, one who never cared what the loiterers and drinkers said.

Written May 25, 1990

Who Made God?

A basic principle of physics is the law of conservation of matter. That has me wondering: If God created the world, then where did God come from?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:


Maimonides deals with this question at length. He answers that God is beyond our comprehension, and it is absurd to apply our realm of experience to His. Therefore it is inappropriate to discuss God in terms of past, future or being created, etc.

To explain: Everything that is finite has to have been created, but God is infinite and therefore He did not have to be created.

Everything in the physical world had a beginning at some point in the past. If you cut down a tree we can see how old it is by counting rings. As a person ages, i.e. he is now 20 years old, that means he had to be one year old at some time.

Since everything in this world gets older, it means that everything was created at some point.

How was it created?

There are only two options: Either it made itself, or it was made by something else. Now, it couldn't make itself, because it did not yet exist. So it had to have been made by something else.

Eventually, one must arrive at the conclusion that the world and all it contains was started by something that was not time-bound and therefore did not have a beginning. Since it did not have a beginning, it was not "created."

A being that exists beyond time doesn't come from anywhere. He has always existed. If something created God, God would have a beginning and be finite, not infinite. Beyond time means having no beginning and no end, eternal. It means there is nothing that exists before God. "Before" is a time-bound quality that applies only to finite entities. Therefore God is called the "First Cause" - or the Prime Mover - the dimension that has no other dimension preceding it.

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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