Tag Archives: Ask the Rabbi

Oz Torah: A Jewish view of ball tampering – Ask the Rabbi

A JEWISH VIEW OF BALL TAMPERING. Q.  The ball tampering scandal has shaken the cricket world. Is there a Jewish perspective? A.  Cricket has become a religion for some people, but there are moral limits to what bowlers, batsmen and others should allow themselves or be allowed. Better not to …

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Oz Torah: Like the bread of affliction – Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi LIKE THE BREAD OF AFFLICTION. Q. Why do some Haggadot say “Ha Lachma Anya” – “This is the Bread of Affliction” while others say “K’ha Lachma Anya” – “This is *like* the Bread of Affliction”? A. They are indicating that the matzah we use is a replica …

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Oz Torah: Gambling – Ask the Rabbi

GAMBLING. Q.  Is there any religious problem with Jews gambling? A.  An occasional lottery ticket or card game is no problem, but the professional or compulsive gambler is severely frowned on in Jewish law. The Mishnah (Sanhedrin 3:3) disqualifies the dice-player – “m’sachek b’kuvya” – from being a witness in …

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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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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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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: 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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Oz Torah: Poetry in the prayers – Ask the Rabbi.

POETRY IN THE PRAYERS. Q. There are so many difficult poems in the High Holyday prayers. Must we say them all? A. The liturgical poems are “piyyutim”, from the same Greek origin as the English “poet”. Not every community adopted the same piyyutim. Some rabbis strongly opposed piyyutic interpolations as …

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Oz Torah: Alenu’s missing sentence – Ask the Rabbi

MEALS & MEMORIES. Q. On a spiritual day like Rosh HaShanah why do people focus on food? A. Some foods are symbolic such as apple and honey, which represent the hope of a sweet year. Many people have a whole array of “simanim”, symbolic foods. Apart from this, Nehemiah said, …

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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: What is a Din Torah? – Ask the Rabbi

WHAT IS A DIN TORAH? Religious questions come before Batei Din (religious courts) every week of the year. One of their lesser known areas of activity is that of “Dinei Torah” – helping to solve disputes by means of arbitration and adjustment. As well as calling upon Jewish law and …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Orthodoxy and Reform.

ORTHODOXY & REFORM. Q. Why doesn’t orthodoxy accept that the Reform movement is a valid option in Judaism? A. It never happened that every Jew thought like every other Jew. “Two Jews – three opinions” is an expression of reality that goes even further than Elijah, who said, “How long …

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Oz Torah: Does the patient know best? – Ask the Rabbi

FAST & SLOW. This coming week is the Fast of 17 Tammuz, marking the breach in the walls that led to the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem. It opens the Three Weeks of mourning during which we avoid weddings and other celebrations. Why lament for the destruction of the …

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Oz Torah: Excommunication – Ask the Rabbi

COMPULSORY EDUCATION. Q. When did compulsory education commence among Jews? A. There is a difference between knowledge and education. According to the Torah, everyone must have knowledge, but the Shema ordains that this is to be imparted by the father. If, however, a child had a father who was unable …

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