Tag Archives: Rabbi Apple

OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyechi.

MOLDING YOUR OWN DESTINY. On his death bed Jacob wants to reveal the future to his children – “Gather and let me tell you what will befall you at the end of days” – but God prevents this from happening (Rashi on Gen. 49:1). We can understand that knowing the …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

HOW MUCH ARE YOU WORTH? In ancient Israel one could donate to the sanctuary the sum of money which represented the valuation a person placed upon himself or one of the family. It was a technical procedure. The amount of the valuation ranged from 5 to 50 shekels depending on …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyiggash

Apologies to Rabbi Apple and readers. This should have been posted a few days ago but wit all the holidays it got completely overlooked. LOUD & QUIET VOICE. After a lot of drama. Joseph and his brothers are finally reconciled. Years of estrangement fall away. All of Egypt soon hears …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

JEWS AS THE DEVIL. Question.  Why do medieval texts think the Jew is a devil? Answer.    Joshua Trachtenberg analyses the story in his book, “The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism”, 1943. He makes it clear that whoever did …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Mikketz.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH JOSEPH? Things did not prove easy for Joseph. The lad who embodied so much potential, who dreamt such visions of the future, was degraded and sold as a slave by his own brothers. Whether they were justified in taking offence at what he dreamt and said …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi – Chanukah Features.

NOT BECAUSE OF THE CHRISTIANS. Many people think that Chanukah has a “mazal” because of the Christians. If it didn’t fall in December around Christmas time, they argue, Chanukah would never have attained such popularity. According to this view, Jews – especially in America – needed their own celebration to …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyeshev.

TEMPTATION, PENN STATION. The plea that we should not be tempted into sin is not only found in the Jewish prayer book, but in other faiths too. Children of a certain different religion who were supposed to say, “Lead us not into temptation” are on record in New York as …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi – Chanukah Features

SEEING & BELIEVING. The Chanukah blessings are followed by “HaNerot Halalu”, a meditation about the lights we kindle. It is both a moment of spirituality and a halachic summary reminding us that the Chanukah lights are to be looked at and not to be used. There is quite a different …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyishlach

BOXING & WRESTLING. A television station once brought me from Sydney to Melbourne to take part in a programme about boxing. I told them of course that though there were famous Jewish boxers, the morality of boxing was highly suspect. They didn’t ask me about wrestling, but I would have …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

SHAKING HANDS WITH WOMEN. Question.  Is my rabbi right in not shaking hands with women? Answer.     Physical contact with women is a halachic problem, even with one’s own wife when she is “niddah”. Many authorities rule against shaking hands with women if there could be any sexual or erotic interest …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyetzei

COMINGS & GOINGS. The portion begins with the phrase, “And Jacob went out from Beer Sheva and went to Haran” (Gen. 28:11). According to Rashi, it would not have been enough to tell us where he went to, Haran, without also informing us where he came from, Beer Sheva. So …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Tol’dot

  THE CHILD A PARENT WOULD PREFER. Jacob and Esau each had his parental champion. Rebekah preferred Jacob; Isaac preferred Esau (Gen. 25:28). Jacob was quiet and studious, finding his pleasures in and around the home; Esau was macho and active, enjoying being out and about. The family dynamics were …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

ORTHODOXY TODAY. Question.   What is the state of Jewish Orthodoxy today? Answer.      British Jewry recently produced a report that confirms what many of its leaders have been feeling for years, that young people are more Orthodox than their elders. Once upon a time the growing movements were the Reform …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Chayyei Sarah.

THE POETIC DIMENSION. Romantic memory weaves a garland around the name Machpelah, though the area has more robust connotations in Israel’s current environment. Machpelah, established from early Biblical times, was an important place of pilgrimage for medieval travellers like Benjamin of Tudela, who described the two stages by which a …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

CAMERAS THAT LIE. Question.  Is there anything in Judaism that forbids touching up and distorting camera images in order to deceive the public? Answer.    It is one of the great tragedies of the contemporary world. Though the Ten Commandments forbid the bearing of false witness, here we have false …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyera

THREE GOOD MEN. The Zohar compares No’ach, Abraham and Moses. It asks which of the three was the greatest. Its answer: the one who was the best when others were in trouble. No’ach was warned by God that disaster was impending. He built an ark to save himself and his …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

ANIMALS AS PETS. Question.   Does Jewish law approve of having cats and dogs as pets? Answer.  Animals feature regularly in Biblical literature – the story of the animals on Noah’s Ark is an example – but they were regarded as mostly meant for utilitarian purposes, e.g. horses to ride on …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Lech L’cha

TWO LECH L’CHAS. There are actually two Biblical commands that say “Lech L’cha”, one here (Gen. 12:1) and one next week (Gen. 22:2) when the Akedah is prefaced by God telling Abraham to take his son and “lech l’cha” (“Go for yourself!”) to the land of Moriah. This Hebrew phrase, …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – No’ach

EVILS & INCLINATIONS. The first lessons that Man learned were how far he could go, both physically and metaphorically. Physically he felt safe as long as the Garden of Eden lasted – but then came the expulsion which propelled him into an often unfriendly world. Thereafter his physical adventures and …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi.

RETIREMENT. Question.     Is it a sin to give up work since the Torah says, “Six days shall you work”? Answer.       What is the status of the words, “Six days shall you work”? Is this a positive mitzvah in the sense that if you don’t work …

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