Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple

Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Does God care how we worship Him?

DOES GOD CARE HOW WE WORSHIP HIM? Q. Whether in a synagogue, church or mosque, does God really care how people worship Him? A. Our prayer does more for the one who prays than for God. He is not improved by our praise. He is perfect already. Humans are susceptible …

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Oz Torah: Ethics in business – Ask the Rabbi.

ETHICS IN BUSINESS. Q.  How can some people be unethical in business even though they keep kosher homes? A.  I honestly don’t know. What you eat and how you live your life are part of one and the same Torah. There are no marks for picking and choosing the commandments …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Torah in space.

TORAH IN SPACE. Q.  Can the mitzvot be observed in space? A. The general principle is that the mitzvot are for “all the days which you are alive on this earth” (Deut. 12:1). The view of Rabbi Benzion Firrer is that the mitzvot only apply in our territorial habitat and …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Women in the military.

WOMEN IN THE MILITARY. Q.  Is there a Jewish view as to women in the military? A.  The Talmud (Kiddushin 2b) says, “It is the way of a man to make war and not the way of a woman”. On the whole this has been the fact of life, that …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Eastern Religions.

EASTERN RELIGIONS. Q.  I know why Judaism disagrees with Christianity and Islam, but what does it say about Buddhism and Hinduism? A.  It rejects the negativism of Buddhism, the idea that you and I and the entire universe are nothing: When something in life goes wrong we cannot handle it …

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Oz Torah: The real Moses – Torah reading Sh’mot.

THE REAL MOSES. Now that we have concluded the Book of B’reshit we have moved on from the patriarchs and meet up with Moses, who will be our companion to the very end of D’varim. Ahad HaAm asks the question, “What, essentially, was Moses?”  Note the question – not “What …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Being a mensch.

BEING A MENSCH. Q.  What does “being a Mensch” really mean? A.  When you learn the halachah, they tell you about the fifth volume of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law). Joseph Karo wrote four volumes, but there is a further, unwritten book which tells you how to live …

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Oz Torah: Ask the rabbi – Is a person who has left Judaism still Jewish?

JEWS WHO HAVE LEFT JUDAISM. Q.  Is a person who has left Judaism still Jewish? A.  The general principle is, “Even though one has sinned, he is a Jew” (Sanhedrin 44a).  The Talmud quotes a saying, “A myrtle, though it stands among reeds, is still a myrtle”.   Thus such a …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Chanukah in the age of electricity –

A SHAMMASH IN THE AGE OF ELECTRICITY. Q.  Why do we need a shammash these days when we have easy access to electricity? A.  The technical answer is that – regardless of using the shammash as a “servant” to kindle the lights – there must always be an extra light …

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Ask the Rabbi on Chanukah: What started the conflict?

DIDN’T THEY KNOW ABOUT CHANUKAH? Q. The Talmud asks “What is Chanukah?” Didn’t the rabbis know? A. The question is indeed asked in the Talmud in tractate Shabbat 21b (cf. Megillat Ta’anit 9). Strangely, no such question is asked about the other festivals (there is a great deal in the …

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Oz Torah: Choosing your own religious observances – Ask the Rabbi.

CHOOSING YOUR OWN RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES. Q. A friend told me that Jews can choose their own mixture of religious observances. Is this correct? A. In theory no, because every Jew should observe all the mitzvot. But in practice we all do tend to have our own emphases. Some people are …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi ‘Signs of the Zodiac’.

SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC Q. I am confused in regard to Judaism and the Zodiac signs. My understanding was that “diviners, necromancers and soothsayers” were forbidden. If this is the case, why and how have the Zodiac signs been incorporated into Judaism? A. The idea of the Zodiac, a notional …

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Oz Torah: Harry Potter – Ask the Rabbi

HARRY POTTER. Q. Is it wrong to read the Harry Potter books given that they are about witchcraft and wizardry? A. Most people would say they are harmless fun and I even hear of Jewish parodies about “Chayyim Po-tter” (“po-tter” could be taken as a Hebrew verb meaning to excuse …

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Oz Torah: Torah reading: No’ach.

RESTFUL NOAH. “No’ach” means “rest”, because he lightened the load of human beings by inventing the plough – the first machine that humanity ever had. In a second way he also eased the lot of his contemporaries by rebuilding civilisation after the great flood. However, the critics say that he …

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Oz Torah: To soul the world – B’reshit.

THE BEGINNINGS OF HUMANITY. The Book of B’reshit leads us through four stages – man (and woman), family, tribe and people. Each stage fascinated our ancient ancestors. The stage we will concern ourselves with here is the first, depicting not just how humanity began but what the rabbinic age of …

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Oz Torah: Sh’mini Atzeret & Simchat Torah.

THE JEWISH LITERACY DAY. Simchat Torah is probably the only religious festival anywhere that celebrates a book. Most religions – Judaism too – make grand occasions out of historical anniversaries. Many celebrate great thinkers, mentors, martyrs and spiritual leaders. Many have times of supreme joy interspersed with times of supreme …

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Oz Torah: Sukkot features – Housey Housey

HOUSEY HOUSEY. There once was a game called Housey Housey. Regardless of the way the game works, Sukkot is a “housey housey” occasion. It’s about the house we emerge from – and the house we enter. During the rest of the year we mostly reside in comfortable homes, secure from …

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Oz Torah: Are we all sinners? – Yom Kippur features 1.

THE TREASURE. Every culture has its story of the person who went searching for treasure and finally found it in his own garden. In Judaism its great expression is Yom Kippur. Jews who go wandering throughout the year come home to Judaism on Yom Kippur and suddenly find that the …

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Oz Torah: Torah reading- Nitzavim

  STAND BY FOR THE COVENANT. The final Shabbat of the Jewish year tells us that we are all standing before God, about to enter a covenant with Him. The Hebrew for covenant is “b’rit”. Members of the covenant are “b’nai b’rit”. It sounds like the name of the brotherhood …

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Oz Torah: The true hero of Rosh Hashanah.

THE TRUE HERO OF ROSH HASHANAH. Heroes and villains abound in the festival stories. Pesach pits Pharaoh and Moses against each other. On Purim it is Haman and Mordechai. On Chanukah it is Antiochus and Judah Maccabee. What about Rosh Hashanah? Since the festival is not based on narratives there …

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