Judaism/Spirituality

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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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. A BLESSING ON AN ELEPHANT Question.  There is a b’rachah to say when I go to the zoo, isn’t there? Answer. I don’t know how many people do, but actually yes: “On seeing an elephant, an ape or a long-tailed monkey, one …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Sh’mini (Parah)

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. I NEED TO BE COAXED Moses must have had a reason for summoning Aaron and his sons and the elders of the people on the eighth day. What he had to say was probably not unexpected, that Aaron was entering the sanctuary …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Submitted and written by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple. THE TEMPLE MOUNT Question.  Is it permitted for a Jew to enter the Temple mount in Jerusalem? Answer.  The Temple mount is the hill on which the sanctuary stood. The Kotel is the surrounding wall on the western side. It extends far …

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Dodging the Draft Because of God?!

Written by Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel – Never in history have religious Jews hidden behind Torah study to evade defending Jewish lives.   I am a platoon sergeant in the IDF. I am a religious Jew. I am a platoon sergeant in the IDF because I am a religious Jew. Days …

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Chag Purim Sameach – The Story of Purim

Purim is a festive Jewish holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from their enemies in the biblical Book of Esther. Purim is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Adar. Purim is so-called because the villain of the story, Haman, cast the “pur” (the lot) …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Tzav

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple.  FACING AARON The sidra focuses on Aaron. Like his famous brother, Moses, he played a crucial role in shaping the Children of Israel. Each one had his special skills. In Aaron’s case it was the capacity to relate to human beings. With …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple.  HOW JEWISH  IS THE MEGILLAH? God is not mentioned anywhere in the M’gillah. Jerusalem is only mentioned once. There are hints of prayer and spirituality, but they are only hints. There is no direct reference to the Temple, Shabbat or the festivals. …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayikra

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. WAIT UNTIL THE TIME COMES. Though the siddur looks forward to the reinstitution of the sacrifices which are set out in such detail in Parashat Vayikra, Franz Rosenzweig and some other modern thinkers advise us to wait until the moment of redemption …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple.   BEING DEAF Question.  The Mishnah has a very negative attitude towards the “cheresh”, the deaf person. Does this apply in modern times when such good hearing aids are available? Answer.  The “cheresh” spoken about in rabbinic literature is a deaf-mute who …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – P’kudei

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple Torah reading:   P’kudei TABERNACLE OF THE TESTIMONY The Torah reading gives us a careful accounting of the income and expenditure involved in erecting the mishkan, which is given the unusual name of “mishkan ha-edut”, the Tabernacle of the Testimony. Rashi quotes …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. A “GOOD SAMARITAN” Question. Where do we get the phrase, “A Good Samaritan?” Answer. The original Samaritans were descendants of the northern tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh with an admixture of foreign colonists brought in by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, after the …

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OzTorah: Torah reading –Vayakhel

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple THREE HEARTS The word “heart” punctuates this sidra.  In building the Tabernacle, the people had to have their hearts in the right place. Three categories of heart are mentioned in Ex. 35 – generous, wise and uplifted. The ideal person combines all …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple BOILS & PROSELYTES Question.  Is it true that the Talmud says that converts are like boils? Isn’t that an insult? Answer.   The saying is in Yevamot 47b. Possibly it reflects the negative view in an ancient rabbinic cleavage of opinion about …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Ki Tissa

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. GOD IN THE LEAD In Chapter 33 of Sh’mot, God says to Moshe, “My Presence shall go with you” (verse 14). The Hebrew for “My Presence” is “panai”, which is literally “My face”. The Greek Septuagint says, “I Myself shall go”. The …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

Written and Submitted by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple. WEAPONS IN SHULE Question. Is there any religious problem with bringing a weapon into a synagogue? Answer. The stones of the Temple altar in Jerusalem were not hewn with metal implements: the sages say that the altar symbolised peace and metal symbolised …

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