Judaism/Spirituality

Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Divorce

APPRECIATING THE TREES. Q. I was puzzled when I read in Pir’kei Avot that if a person is walking along rehearsing his studies and stops to look at a tree and remarks, “How beautiful that tree is!” deserves to lose his life. What has he or she done wrong? A. …

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#FAKEJEWS Dear Reform Rabbi…

I have hurt the feelings of a friend who shall remain anonymous. I got involved in a conversation I was just supposed to follow and not join. But I could not believe what I was reading. I have had it with Reform Jews. Please note I call myself a secular …

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Ask the Rabbi: Sanctions for adultery – Ask the Rabbi

SANCTIONS FOR ADULTERY Q. I am aware that adultery is forbidden in Judaism, but what are the sanctions against a person who cheats on their spouse? A. The Biblical law concerning adultery (Ex. 20:13, Deut. 5:17) clearly establishes the principle of marital faithfulness. Husband and wife must be able to …

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The Shabbat of Vision – ‘Shabbat Chazon’.

We live in a time when we can have virtually unlimited access to vast resources of information in devices as small as our watches. Astoundingly, we most often harness this capability to play games and look at “memes” and cartoons.  This point struck home when I went to a scheduled …

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Oz Torah: Why blame ourselves – Tishah B’Av features.

WHY BLAME OURSELVES? What strange people the sages were. Two Temples were laid waste, Jewish sovereignty was terminated, millennia of exile and persecution set in, and all that the sages could do was to blame the Jewish people for their own misfortunes. What did they say? “Umip’nei chatan’einu…” Jews fell …

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Oz Torah: Suicide or murder – Ask the Rabbi

LAW OF THE LAND. Q. Since there is a rule in the Talmud, “The law of the land is the law”, how come that rabbis sometimes criticise the government? A. The rule, “Dina D’Malchuta Dina” – “the Law of the Kingdom is the Law” is probably limited to matters such …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Cheating the government.

FASTING ON 17 TAMMUZ. Q. Now that we have a State of Israel do we still need to fast on 17 Tammuz? A. This is one of the four fasts commemorating the destruction of the Temple. 17 Tammuz marks the enemy’s breach in the walls of Jerusalem. Zechariah said (8:18-19) …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Blaming Religion.

BLAMING RELIGION. Q. Are people right to blame religion for the world’s problems? A. Religion is not blameless. Its proponents need to identify the constructive elements in religious tradition and make them the agenda. Not that governments will like it if religion says it has some solutions to offer: the …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – POVERTY

POVERTY. Q. Is there a Jewish view about poverty? A. Isn’t it Tevye who says in “Fiddler on the Roof” that poverty is no disgrace, but it’s no great honour either? This probably sums up the Jewish view of poverty. On the one hand, the Bible says that the poor …

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OzTorah: Ask the Rabbi – Is God real, or an idea?

IS GOD REAL OR AN IDEA? Q. Is God real or just an idea? A. Your actual question is longer than this. You say you are writing a book about how different religions envisage God. You say that some religions personalise or personify God whilst others regard Him as an …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Pouring out the water.

POURING OUT THE WATER. Q. Why is it customary to pour out the water from vessels in a house where a person has died? A. There are several theories. A prosaic explanation is that this is an indirect way of making it known that a person has passed away. This …

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Oz Torah: Torah reading- Naso

TWO EXTREMES There couldn’t be a greater contrast than that of the two extremes that are depicted in this week’s parashah. There is the “sotah”, the woman who allows herself the extreme of licence, and the “nazir”, the person who is so strict that no transgression could ever arise on …

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Oz Torah:The all-night tikkun – Shavu’ot

THE ALL-NIGHT TIKKUN. Staying up all night to study on Shavu’ot is back in fashion. Other religious all-nighters are also on the way back, such as long Sedarim on Pesach, when some people keep going until almost dawn, like the five rabbis in B’nei B’rak in Rabbi Akiva’s day. We …

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Oz Torah: The red-letter date – Shavu’ot

THE RED-LETTER DATE. As a child Moses found that Shavu’ot was already a red-letter date in his life. Not just because the Torah was due to be given to him that day, even though that is so highly important. But some of the sages link Shavu’ot with the birth of …

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Oz Torah: Insights on Torah reading Emor.

JEWISH ANTISEMITES. What people think of Jews is motivated partly by observation and partly by prejudice. Observation leads decent outsiders to praise our sense of community and how we keep our standards even in unfriendly times. Prejudice picks up anti-Jewish slogans and beats us around the head with them. Prejudice …

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Oz Torah: Lag Ba’Omer: The unusual yom-tov – Ask the Rabbi

THE UNUSUAL YOM-TOV. Many factors make Lag Ba’Omer a yom-tov like no other. We are not certain when it took hold of the Jewish spirit. We are unsure as to the real reason which brought it into being. It falls during a time of semi-mourning which is calculated in various …

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Oz Torah: Are miracles really so miraculous? – Ask the Rabbi

ARE MIRACLES REALLY SO MIRACULOUS? Q. Are miracles all that they are made out to be? If we can split the atom, double the performance of the PC every six months and concoct the Internet, does Moses’ parting of the Red Sea seem so miraculous after all? A. Belief that …

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Oz Torah: Yom Ha’atzmaut features

ISRAEL AT 70. The 70th anniversary of the State of Israel is celebrated this week. Israel is one of the great achievements of modern history. But of course the backers of BDS don’t agree. They can’t be too proud of themselves because they haven’t achieved a thing apart from slogans …

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Oz Torah: Insights on Sh’mini.

8 STRINGS ON THE HARP. The eighth day of the consecration ceremonies of the sanctuary was dedicated to the induction of the kohanim. Logic tells us that the number eight was chosen for this purpose because the previous seven formed the first week in the history of the tabernacle. Yet …

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Parshat Shemini.

Pleasure or Purpose? How many times have you been fed up with nuisances or hardships in your life?  Just as you think you have control of your life something else comes up and puts a cog in your wheel.  Imagine you could plug into a simulated reality of your choice …

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