Judaism/Spirituality

Oz Torah: The Fast of Esther – Ask the Rabbi.

TA’ANIT ESTHER. The day before Purim is called “Ta’anit Esther”, the Fast of Esther. Despite the popular view, it does not commemorate the three-day fast described in the Megillah (Esther 4:16). Three days cannot be telescoped into one day, and in any case our Fast of Esther is not mentioned …

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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 …

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Torah reading: Yitro. Humility while winning.

Humility while winning. Have you ever heard a recipient of an award or compliment say they feel “humbled” by the accolade?  Why is it that they associate humility with winning?  If anything, not winning would show humility.  When you win, you feel exalted, proud and excited.  You feel like you …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Townsville, Far North Queensland, celebrates its first ever Bar Mitzvah.

The Townsville Jewish community celebrated its first ever Bar Mitzvah last Saturday January 6th 2018 – 19 Tevet. The service was held in the Sasoon Chabad RARA House in Townsville and  Barnabas Sarnyai became a Bar Mitzvah – a full fledged Jewish adult. Family and friends came from as far …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Joseph teaches us how to muster strength.

This week we are reminded of a person in a power position trying to sexually harass and abuse a young innocent immigrant just trying to work an honest living. When the young hapless victim tries to defend their rights and honour by standing up to the perpetrator, they are suppressed …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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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I buried a bird.

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every moving thing that moves upon the earth.” Not …

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Stay with me, just one more day.

The feelings God has for His people are the same feelings we have for those we love who are ill, whose death is in sight, whose time is short and precious; a daughter for a mother, a husband for a wife, a parent for a child. “Please, just stay with …

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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 …

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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: – 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 …

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