Tag Archives: Ask the Rabbi

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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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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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: 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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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: 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: 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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