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Interesting Rulings of Rav Elyashiv Zatzal – By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

The term Naflah Ateres Rosheinu is an expression found in the fifth chapter of Eicha.  It means “the crown of our head has fallen.”  It certainly applies to our generation now.  The staggering loss that Klal Yisroel has suffered with the passing of Rav Elyashiv can be seen by the sheer volume of rulings that he had issued on a daily basis.

Below we find a brief glimpse of some of these halachic views and rulings.  These rulings deal with Orech Chaim and are based upon written responsa [See Kovetz Teshuvos Vol. I and Ashrei HaIsh].

Tzitzis Halachos
The status of nylon Tzitzis is such that while it may be worn, a blessing is not recited on it.  The issue has to do with whether the material is mekabel Tumah, susceptible to the laws of impurity, or not.   Nylon, being a new invention, may not be susceptible to these laws.

The newly found Tcheiles should not be worn.  The reason is that the sources indicate that it was put away (and lost to us) until Mashiach will come. One may clean glasses with a Tallis Kotton – it is not considered an unseemly activity.  [Presumably Rav Elyashiv would hold the same with a Tallis Gadol, according to the explanation that he provided in the responsa.]


Tefillin Halachos (and accompanying rulings)
An electric device that needs to be tovelled, immersed, in a Mikvah should ideally be taken apart by a skilled Jewish worker to the point where it would not be considered a vessel.  If it is reconstructed by a Jew it would no longer require immersion.

A left-handed person who can write with both hands but does so better with his right and does most of his activities with his left  should don Tefillin upon his right hand like Rav Moshe Feinstein has written.

Someone paralyzed in both hands but some feeling returned to his left hand should do his Tefillin on his left hand regardless of what he was initially.
In the case of a particular sofer who wrote the Tefillin parshios out of order, although it is pasul, the ones that are still returnable should be returned.  Regarding the monetary status of the other Tefillin that he may have written and are not known, what is done is done.  For the future, Rav Elyashiv left up to the judgement of the Rabbi who posed the question as to the extent of the Sofer’s reliability after he gave his explanation why he did it and what he was thinking.

Regarding the permissibility of using items that originally came from an impure animal for Tefillin (YH such as Tefillin paint), he ruled stringently.  The requirement is to only use items that are mutar b’picha – of a kind that are theoretically permitted to be eaten. These items may still not be eaten even though a dog would no longer eat them [and it would no longer be considered edible] because of the chemical changes.
Davening Halachos
He espoused his position that Birchas HaTorah is actually of biblical origin.  [YH This has been a debate among the latter day authorities.] He ruled that a deaf mute who learned to speak afterward is considered a talker regarding Halacha.

Regarding a particular person who had  had a nervous breakdown and now takes a long time to say each word.  The doctor advised him to think the Tefilah (prayers) rather than say it aloud in order that he could continue to daven with a minyan – Rav Elyashiv ruled permissively but also said that it is better to mispronounce – because one has still fulfilled the Mitzvah.

If a father tells his son to change the family custom, the children should stick with their family custom and someone should properly explain to the father that they must follow their family tradition.

In a respons to Rav Yitzchok Rosenbaum, Rav Elyashiv would not state categorically that the “shok” refers to the bone below the knee when referring to human beings for matters of tznius.  [There is huge debate as to which bone is considered the “shok” when the Talmud tells us that the shok must be covered] He understood the Pri Magadim the way the Chazon Ish and Mishna Brurah did that it refers to above the knee.The minimum that women should be davening?  Birchas HaTorah, morning brachos, Parshas HaTamid, Boruch Sh’amar, Ashrei, Yishtabach, Shma, Emes V’yatziv until Ga’al Yisroel and Shmoneh Esreh.  She should also daven Mincha. He concluded that it is preferable to daven with a minyan after sunrise than to daven with the sunrise but without a minyan.

Even when a shul was built with a tnai – a condition that one may eat there, one should not make  a wedding party there.

Can a shul be undone? Can its holy status be revoked? If so, who are the people empowered to do so?  The answer?  No to first question, second question is moot.  No need for a zavla Beis Din either, now.

Have a long life and have a Ksiva VaChasima Tova (signed the 8th of Elul 5757).

What to do in the merit of those murdered by the Nazis in the holocaust?  Rav Elyashiv wrote the Koliver Rebbe that it is inadvisable to say the psukim of Shma in their memory after Shacharis.

He quoted the Chazon Ish that immediately after the Shoah [Editor: By the way, we do see that Rav Elyashiv did use the term “Shoah” unlike what has become the practice in the United States] they wished to institute a communal fast.  The Chazon Ish was against it and said that silence is the preferable course for our generation.  Rav Elyashiv advised the Koliver Rebbe that the recitation of Mishnayos for the raising of their Neshamos is preferable – especially for those who had no children.  He also stated that “l’hisyached eem hakedoshim to unite with the holy martyrs” has no source in Chazal.

General Rulings
In a letter from Rav Elya Svei zatzal (one of the Rosh Yeshiva in the Philadelphia Yeshiva) and yblc”t Rav Malkiel Kotler, (one of the four Roshei yeshiva of Beis Midrash gavoha in Lakewood)  Rav Elyashiv was asked if it is proper to encourage everyone to purchase life insurance.  He responded that they should.

Is it Lifnei Iver to have a restaurant that serves coffee to people that will not recite Brachos?     There is room to be lenient when it is necessary and when he could get the item from elsewhere. What about long meals?  Is there a limit?  The four hour meals are wrong.  It shouldn’t be longer than 72 minutes – only if you are continuing eating and drinking should it go longer.

Is tea enough consumption to be able to answer to a Zimun?  The Shulchan Aruch (OC 197:2) rules that water is not enough, but the Gemorah in Eiruvin 27a indicates that salt water is enough because it can be a dip.  Rav Elyashiv is unsure whether plain tea  is considered like water or not.  Similarly he was unsure about artificial juices.

Rav Elyashiv also brings up an interesting Chumrah.  The Shulchan Aruch rules that biblical bentching is only when one has also drunk a liquid if he was thirsty too.  What would be the Halacha if one was not satisfied fully and bentched miderabanan and then subsequent to bentching satisfied his thirst?  According to Rav Elyashiv he may have to bentch again to fulfill his d’oraisah obligation.

Nine Days Rulings From Rav Elyashiv
One should avoid all places of danger during this time.  One should also avoid trips.  Travelling to relatives is not considered “trips.” If there is some need, one may leave Israel to travel to ChutzLaAretz, or for medical purposes, but just a trip to Chutz LaAretz isforbidden.

Making reservations for after the Nine days is permitted to do during the Nine Days.
It is preferable as much as possible not to schedule surgeries thatare not Pikuach Nefesh emergencies for these times.

He did not understand why they used the regular haftorah tune at theshul of the Chazon Ish instead of the mournful one for ChazonYishayahu.  The source for using the mournful tune is in Rishonim.

For eating meat at a Seudas Mitzvah only a bare minyan should beeating the meat – first degree relatives. For a Bris Milah celebrationonly the father, Sandek and Mohel should be wearing Shabbos clothing.

A bar Mitzvah celebration during this time should serve meat only tothe closest relatives, if they wish to honor the guests they shouldserve fish not meat.

If you do not have Tisha B’Av shoes you may purchase them during the Nine Days.

If a group of Yeshiva students is graduating during the Nine Days heruled that it was inappropriate to take pictures for a yearbook duringthis time.  And that the Nine Days are becoming a zilzul.

If children under Bar Mitzvah normally shower daily then one can be lenient for them during the Nine Days.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com

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Posted by on July 23, 2012. Filed under Jewish News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to Interesting Rulings of Rav Elyashiv Zatzal – By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

  1. Rashi

    July 23, 2012 at 8:48 am

    How lucky are we to have had a giant like this in out generation. The torah world will miss him dearly

  2. Wolfson

    July 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    In siman 32 of the same volume, Rav Elyashiv rules that any shaving machine that provides a clean shave has the halachic status of a razor and involve a definite Torah prohibition. He adds that today’s shavers are incomparably more severe than the hand clippers that the Chofetz Chaim prohibited.