Tag Archives: oz Torah

Oz Torah: Fur coats – Ask the Rabbi

FUR COATS. Q. What does Jewish law say about wearing fur coats? A. The late Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Chayyim David Halevi, deals with this issue in his volume of responsa (“Mayim Chayyim”, vol. 2, 1995). He reports that a member of the Israeli public approached him after …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Whisky on a Yahrzeit – Ask the Rabbi.

      WHISKY ON A YAHRZEIT. Q. Why do Chasidim drink whisky on a Yahrzeit? A. First it must be said that although a Yahrzeit is a German term adopted by Jews in the late middle ages, the notion of commemorating the anniversary of a parent or teacher’s death …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Religious revival – Ask the Rabbi

RELIGIOUS REVIVAL. The days have gone when Bible and religion dominated most people’s lives. Yet, for all the evidence of a weakening of religious commitment, there is at the same time talk of a religious revival. Religion has become almost respectable among intellectuals. Dozens of books, plays, films and radio …

Read More »

Oz Torah: : Fallen rabbis – Ask the Rabbi.

FALLEN RABBIS. Q. If a rabbi has lost his credibility do we still follow his rulings? A. Rabbi Hershel Schachter of Yeshiva University recently gave a serious analysis of the problem, concluding by basically saying “No”. He pointed out that Malachi 2:7 as expounded by the sages requires a rabbi …

Read More »

Oz Torah : The Rich List – Ask the Rabbi.

THE RICH LIST. With the end of a year, many people look back and sum up the events of the past 12 months. For some the major concern is how much money they made or failed to make, whether interest rates went up or did not go up, whether they …

Read More »

Oz Torah: The Arizal – Ask the Rabbi

THE ARIZAL. Q. Some Jews say they follow the customs of the Arizal. Who was this? A. Arizal is the name popularly given to Rabbi Isaac ben Shlomo Luria, 1534-1572. Because his ancestry was German, Ashkenazi is often added to his name. Hence “Ari” is the initials of “Ashkenazi Rabbi …

Read More »

Oz Torah: The 7 Chanukahs.

LIGHTS INSIDE & OUT. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that the Chanukah lights fulfil a double purpose. They are a source of light within the house, and they also symbolise the duty of bringing light to the world outside. This is suggested by midrashic sources which speak of the Jewish people …

Read More »

Oz Torah: A Chanukah Alphabet.

A CHANUKAH ALPHABET. AL HANISSIM – thanksgiving prayer for the Chanukah miracle; inserted in the Amidah and Grace After Meals. ANTIOCHUS – Syrian Greek ruler called Epiphanes (“glorious”) by his admirers and Epimanes (“madman“) by his detractors. BET HILLEL & BET SHAMMAI – rival schools of thought: Bet Shammai ruled …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Divinity & the dinosaurs – Ask the Rabbi.

DIVINITY & THE DINOSAURS. Q. How can Judaism say the universe is 5778 years old when science proves that dinosaurs lived long before this? A. There is a widespread view that science and religion are eternal enemies. However, the scientists themselves don’t think so. One scientist after another has pointed …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Who needs Mashi’ach? – Ask the Rabbi.

WHO NEEDS MASHI’ACH? Q. Who needs the Mashi’ach? Can’t we just get on with life on earth? A. The basic idea behind the messianic belief is that history has to be going somewhere. For Judaism, that “somewhere” is the age of perfection ushered in and presided over by a messianic …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Copyright – Ask the Rabbi.

JEWS & GENTILES. Q. What do Jewish teachings say about the way in which Jews should interact with non-Jews? A. The Talmudic attitude to gentiles was ambivalent. It is obvious from the Mishnah tractate Avodah Zarah that there was considerable contact with non-Jews, but at the same time Jews were …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Insights on Sh’mini Atzeret & Simchat Torah.

THE RABBI’S RETREAT. The Rabbi of Sassov, Rav Moshe Leib, used to ask why Sukkot, Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are so different from Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. He said he had found an answer when he saw that the Torah said that Sh’mini Atzeret was “a time of …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Insights on Succot.

THE TRUE JOY OF SUCCOT. Succot is called in Hebrew “z’man simchatenu”, “Our Time of Joy”. The Torah is the source of this description. Twice it uses the verb “samach”, to rejoice, in relation to Succot. It says “vesamachta b’chaggecha”, “You shall rejoice in your festival” (Deut. 16:14), and “vehayita …

Read More »

Oz Torah: – Insights on Yom Kippur .

WHERE’S THE MAGIC? The great failure of Yom Kippur is that it often doesn’t engage people with religion. Yes, the personnel of the synagogue do their best to convey the message that moves their lives. The words, the tunes, the ambiance all try to exert a magic. The seats are …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Insights on Rosh HaShanah.

BIG MAN, LITTLE GOD? The Book of Genesis has no doubt that man was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Not in the sense of a photograph, since by definition God has no shape or form. What He does have is will, wisdom, intellect, ethics, spirituality, speech and …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Poetry in the prayers – Ask the Rabbi.

POETRY IN THE PRAYERS. Q. There are so many difficult poems in the High Holyday prayers. Must we say them all? A. The liturgical poems are “piyyutim”, from the same Greek origin as the English “poet”. Not every community adopted the same piyyutim. Some rabbis strongly opposed piyyutic interpolations as …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Torah reading – Ki Tavo

TURNING DOWN THE INVITATION. A large part of the sidra is the “Tochechah”, the curses that come upon those who disobey God’s will. In many synagogues nobody wants to be called up for this portion, though they scramble for other sections of the Torah reading. Those who decline to be …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Alenu’s missing sentence – Ask the Rabbi

MEALS & MEMORIES. Q. On a spiritual day like Rosh HaShanah why do people focus on food? A. Some foods are symbolic such as apple and honey, which represent the hope of a sweet year. Many people have a whole array of “simanim”, symbolic foods. Apart from this, Nehemiah said, …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Killing idolaters – Ask the Rabbi.

KILLING IDOLATERS Q. Is it true that the Talmud says something about killing idolaters? A. In a number of versions there is a statement that reads in Hebrew “tov sheba’akum harog”, usually translated “Kill the best of the idolaters”. Instead of “idolaters” other versions say “mitzrim” (Egyptians), “k’na’anim” (Canaanites), and …

Read More »

Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Blessing on the MOON.

Q. Can you explain “Kiddush L’vanah” (saying a prayer when we see the new moon)? A. The Sanhedrin used to proclaim the commencement of a new month after hearing evidence from witnesses who had seen the new moon. These days we work out the date of Rosh Chodesh by means …

Read More »