Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Oz Torah: Bread & war – Ask the Rabbi.

BREAD & WAR. Q. How can the Hebrew for bread (“lechem”) be connected to the word for war (“milchamah”)? A. Wars are often fought over economic issues. Not just conventional wars, but political tussles and elections. It is also said that securing one’s bread, the staff of life, is the …

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Oz Torah: Shavu’ot features.

THE MITZVAH OF SHAVU’OT. The rabbi of my childhood synagogue called Shavu’ot the Cinderella festival, because in many circles it is rather unloved. The other festivals have colourful symbols to make them popular – the Seder on Pesach, the shofar on Rosh HaShanah, the lulav and sukkah on Sukkot, the …

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Oz Torah: Lag Ba’Omer features

UNRAVELLING THE LAG BA’OMER MYSTERY. 18 Iyyar this week is the minor festival of Lag Ba’Omer when the somber mood of the S’firat HaOmer is lifted to allow marriages and celebrations. Outside the Jewish people it was an important medieval period just after Easter when Christians embarked on Crusades to …

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