Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple

OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi – Hypnosis

Question.   What is the Jewish opinion on hypnosis? Answer.      There are two issues – may a Jew practise or submit to hypnosis, and is an act performed under hypnosis deemed a conscious act by Jewish law? On the first issue, the answer depends on whether hypnosis is merely a …

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OzTorah: Torah reading: Vayyera.

                                     TWO LECH-L’CHAS. Last week’s sidra and this week’s both feature God calling to Abraham in the words, “Lech-l’cha!” The literal meaning is “Go for yourself”. In classical English, the message is “Betake yourself”. Rashi points out at the beginning of last week’s reading that the “l’cha” tells Abraham that …

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OzTorah: – Ask the Rabbi on “Kosher wine”

Question.     What can be non-kosher in ordinary wine? Answer.        Two considerations are relevant. The first is that wine was part of worship rites from ancient days. Judaism feared that ordinary wine could have been used or at least made for libations at heathen worship (“yayin nesech”). Hence, wine for Jewish …

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OzTorah: Sukkot articles.

THE GA’ON’S ETROG. The Vilna Ga’on said that he would forego his place in the World to Come for an etrog. Other historical figures have made sweeping statements. Recall, for example, the ruler who said, “My kingdom for a horse!” But giving away the afterlife for a citron? The Ga’on …

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OzTorah: Yom Kippur Features

THE WORDS OF OUR MOUTH & THE MEDITATION OF OUR HEARTS. Nothing rivals the awe and splendour of Kol Nidrei night. Nothing rivals the Kol Nidrei melody. But nothing explains the apparent banality of the Kol Nidrei words. The explanation needs us to acknowledge how often the prayer book appeals …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Ki Tavo

WHEN DO YOU ARRIVE? Many years ago I accepted a position in Australia and resigned from my then congregation at Hampstead in north-west London. Someone expressed surprise that I was going, and said, “Hampstead is a place of arrival, not departure!” He meant that when a rabbi got a job …

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OzTorah. Torah reading: Shoftim

WASHING OUR HANDS. “I’m fed up. I abdicate. I wash my hands of the matter. I’ve had enough. Don’t talk to me about it again.” A common reaction to a long-standing problem: “You sort it out: leave me alone”. The key phrase is “I wash my hands”.  Psalm 26:6 says, …

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OzTorah. Torah reading: Re’eh

WALKING AFTER GOD At the beginning of Parashat No’ach we are told that No’ach walked with God (Gen. 6:9). Rashi and others point out that where No’ach walked with God, Abraham walked before Him (Gen. 24:40). The sages compare these two early leaders to children who at first need to …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi – Vengeance In Israel.

Question.    On the wall of a house in Israel where an Arab baby and his father were killed and members of the family badly injured, someone scrawled “N’kamah” – “Vengeance!” What is the Jewish perspective on acts of vengeance? Answer.       The Jewish principle is “Li nakam v’shillem” – “‘Vengeance is …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi ‘Conversions in Israel’

Question.    Why is the Israeli rabbinate so strict in what it expects from converts? Answer.       The halachic answer ought, theoretically, to function regardless of political considerations. However, the pure ideal cannot be achieved while there is such controversy about the relationship between State and religion when the religious parties …

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