Tag Archives: Rabbi Apple

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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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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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: “I was there” – Features for the last days of Pesach.

I WAS THERE. “In every generation a person must see himself as if they had come out of Egypt”. That’s what the Haggadah says. The Pesach story isn’t merely an ancient event involving our ancestors, but a personal experience in which we ourselves took part. We were there. We were …

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Oz Torah: Pesach features.

Pesach features A TIMETABLE FOR THE SEDER? How long should the Seder take? Let me tell you what our family does. We have a timetable for Seder night. The first hour brings us to the meal, then we eat (for which we allocate another hour), then the second part of …

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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: Hunting – Ask the Rabbi

HUNTING. Q. Is it true that hunting is against Jewish law? A. Absolutely. We have a duty to emulate God who is tenderly concerned for animals as well as people (Psalm 145:9). The historian William Lecky wrote, “Tenderness to animals is one of the most beautiful features of the Old …

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Oz Torah: The genesis of Purim.

THE GENESIS OF PURIM. The popularity of Purim is taken for granted. As the Jewish carnival of fun and frolic it has a universal appeal. Purim spiels, Purim deals, Purim meals … all are part of the celebration. No-one can imagine the Jewish year without it. In fact it has …

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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: 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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