Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple

OzTorah: Torah reading – B’ha’alot’cha

  THEIR OWN FLAME Various places in rabbinic literature discuss the name of this week’s reading. The rabbis wondered why the “When you kindle (the lights)”. The explanation they arrived at was that Aaron had to start off the lighting and then allow the flame to rise up by itself. …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi – Shavuot

THE CINDERELLA OF THE FESTIVALS. It’s a shame for Shavu’ot. Rosh HaShanah has its shofar, Pesach its matzah, Purim its Megillah – but Shavu’ot has no special mitzvah to make it colourful and popular, and Jewish opinion seems to have decided that it is a non-event. Further, every yom tov …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Naso.

LONG HAIR. The Nazir has an important role in this week’s sidra. A person who opted to be a Nazir had to follow an ascetic lifestyle – no drinking wine, no contact with the dead, no cutting of his hair: “He shall let the hair of his head grow long” …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

    THE DYING PATIENT. Question.  As a doctor I face human crises at both ends of life. One of the hardest challenges is treating the dying patient. Does Judaism have any advice for me? Answer. Unlike some Christians, we do not regard death as greater than life nor feel that …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – B’midbar

10 COBBLERS MAKE A MINYAN The sidra deals with the census of the Children of Israel in the wilderness. From the human point of view the census has an obvious importance. We need to know how many people make up our population and whether our numbers are growing or declining. …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

VEGETARIAN & KOSHER Question.  Is all vegetarian food kosher? Answer.  Unfortunately, supposed vegetarian food is sometimes not even vegetarian. Restaurants, pizza shops and fast food outlets which focus on meat (obviously t’refah) often purport to offer vegetarian options but there is no guarantee that the ingredients really are vegetarian and …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – B’chukkotai

YOUR OWN BREAD What a wonderful promise: “You shall eat your bread to satiety and you shall dwell in safety on your land” (Lev. 26:5). Note that the verse does not say, “You shall eat bread – ‘lechem’” but “you shall eat *your* bread – ‘lachm’chem’”. What is it that …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

ANCIENT ARKS Question.  Ancient synagogues have been discovered and excavated in Israel. Why do there not seem to be the remains of any ancient Arks? Answer.  Like the Ark of the Ten Commandments that was carried through the wilderness, ancient Arks were portable. The usual term for the Ark was “tevah”, …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – B’har

PROCLAIMING FREEDOM The Torah tells us early in this week’s reading to proclaim liberty, “d’ror”, for everyone who inhabits the land (Lev. 25:10). “D’ror” is a very strange word to use for liberty. The Targum Onkelos renders it as “cherut”, a more usual word for freedom. The sages offer various …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi – Yom HaAtzma’ut.

    PRACTICAL ZIONISM This week we celebrate Yom HaAtzma’ut, Israel’s Independence Day. As always, the occasion will bring out its philosophers, analysing the meaning of Israel and assessing how far the Jewish State has fulfilled the Zionist ideal. There is something else they often forget to remember. The Torah …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Emor

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. SPEAKING OUT. The portion gets its name from a command to speak out (“Emor”) to the priests concerning their duties. By extension there is an issue concerning Emor which applies to every Jew. When, how and why should a Jew speak out …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple.   Rabbi Apple served for 32 years as the chief minister of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, and was Australia’s highest profile rabbi and the leading spokesperson for Jews and Judaism on the Australian continent. He is now retired and lives in Jerusalem. …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – K’doshim.

    THE COMMANDMENT OF SHA’ATNEZ The combination of wool and linen in a garment is called “Sha’atnez” and is prohibited by the Torah (Lev. 19:19, Deut. 22:11). Though tradition regards this as a statute, a Divine ordinance which is a test of human obedience, Nachmanides points out that it …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

  AIR TRAVEL & DIVINE PROTECTION Question.  Can Jews learn anything from the tragedy of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane? Answer.  The search for the missing aircraft raises countless problems including some halachic issues. The Hallel psalms tell us clearly, “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord: the earth …

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OzTorah: Chol HaMo’ed & 7th Day Pesach.

  HERALDING THE SPRING. In Israel and the northern hemisphere, Pesach is the festival of spring. It falls in that month of Nisan which the Torah calls “Chodesh HaAviv”, the Spring Month. The slumbers of Nature are over: “Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Acharei Mot

Written and submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. ALL ON YOUR OWN When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, no-one else could be there with him (Lev. 16:17). Human beings are a social race: they know how true are the words of the story of …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. PESUCH ARTICLES.     THE ROLE OF RITUAL. Many people try to squeeze all the rituals out of Judaism. By abandoning Shabbat candles, Yom Kippur fasting, tallit and tefillin, shofar, Megillah, Menorah, sukkah, the Seder and so much else, they proudly announce …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – M’tzora

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. THREE NAMES FOR ONE SIDRA Having the name “M’tzora” for this week’s portion might not bother us in our generation, probably because we are used to it. But as the Lubavitcher Rebbe points out, the name was once a subject of controversy, …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple.   INTERFAITH PRAYER Question.  Why can’t Jews and non-Jews pray together? Answer.  The prophet Isaiah foresees the day when “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isa. 56:7). If this means that all peoples will share a …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Tazria (HaChodesh)

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. THE MOTHER’S OFFERING When a woman bears a child the Torah says she has to bring an offering to the sanctuary (Lev. 12). So far so good, and we would probably interpret the offering as a mark of gratitude to God who …

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