Tag Archives: Rabbi Apple

Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi on prostitution

PROSTITUTION Question. What is the Jewish view of prostitution? Answer. Based on the verses in the Bible, “There shall be no harlot of the daughters of Israel” (Deut. 23:18) and “Profane not your daughter to make her a harlot” (Lev. 19:29), Jewish teaching strongly disapproved of prostitution. It condemned as …

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Oz Torah: Torah Reading – parashat Ki Tissa

A LEADER’S RANSOM Counting heads is the subject of the opening section of this week’s portion. The Hebrew literally means “When you take the head of the Children of Israel” – an instruction about taking a census. Look at the word “rosh” (as head) in a different sense and it …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi on Two Adars

TWO ADARS. Q. Why do we have two months called Adar? A. An ordinary year has only one Adar. In a leap year there are two – Adar Rishon (Adar I) and Adar Sheni (Adar II). Leap years, seven times in every 19 years, ensure that the Jewish lunar calendar …

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Oz Torah. Torah reading: T’tzavveh

BELLS ON THE ROBE There were many little bells on the hem of the kohen gadol’s robe. The Talmud says (Z’vachim 88b) that there were 72 bells, 36 on each side; another view says 36, 18 on each side. The rabbis thought the bells were there so that everyone would …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi – Do the Lawyers care?

Question. Is there a Jewish perspective on criticising lawyers? Answer. What clients often say about legal practitioners is that they don’t seem to care. No longer do people have long-standing professional relationships with a benign, trusted doctor, lawyer, accountant or minister, often known and trusted by them and their family …

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Oz Torah: Insights on parashat T’rumah

BUILDING AN EDIFICE It is in this sidra that the creation of the sanctuary is instituted. “They shall make Me a Sanctuary that I may dwell among them”, is the crucial verse (Ex. 25:8). The commentators all seize on the word “b’tocham”, “among them”. It is not so much the …

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Oz Torah: Ask the rabbi. Criticising the government

Question.  What right do we have to criticize a democratically elected government? Surely Judaism believes in loyalty to duly appointed leaders. Answer.     Judaism does not support the early Christian doctrine, “Render unto God the things that are God’s and to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21). …

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Oz Torah. Torah reading: Mishpatim

SHIELDING THE STRANGER Ex. 22:20 is one of over thirty passages in the Torah which command us to look after the stranger because we were strangers in the land of Egypt (this happens to be one of the places where the Torah spells out the reason behind its laws). The …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi on “Who were the women?”

WHO WERE THE WOMEN? Question. Who was it that successfully agitated for women to be allowed to undertake extra mitzvot (good deeds)? Answer. The issue revolves around which category of commandments we are dealing with. There are actions which are commanded and actions which are prohibited. The second category is …

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Oz Torah:Ask the Rabbi -Personal choice & the Commandments

Question. Why should I obey the Jewish commandments if I don’t want to? Shouldn’t personal choice play a part in my religious observance? Answer.    “If I don’t want to” is highly subjective. Try a different context. Can I say, “Why should I obey the traffic laws if I don’t …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi “Do animals know about God?

Question. Do animals know there is a God? Answer.   According to the Midrash, God rebuked David for boasting that no-one could sing praises as well as he could. “Every creature,” God told him, “has its own way of praising its Maker.” The birds chirp. The horses neigh. The cows low. …

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Oz Torah. Torah reading: Bo

JUMPING THE GUN There is a rabbinic tradition that the tribe of Ephraim were in such a hurry to be free from slavery that they left Egypt thirty years before the appointed time (they had misunderstood a passage in Gen. 15:13 and miscalculated the date of the deliverance). They did …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi on “Criticising people harshly”

CRITICISING PEOPLE HARSHLY Question. Is it right to criticise people harshly? Answer.   There is a right way to criticise, and a wrong way. The curse of the Tochechah in the Torah are read in a soft, almost inaudible voice. The Reader does not enjoy pronouncing harsh words or rebuke. He …

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Oz Torah: Torah reading – Va’era

WHO WAS MOSES? There is a classical essay by Ahad HaAm which asks the question, “Who essentially was Moses?” Ahad HaAm examines a number of theories, e.g. Moses was a general, Moses was a legislator, Moses was a prophet. Another approach comes in the Torah itself. In Ex. 2:19 he …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi on L’chayyim

Question. Why do we say “L’Chayyim” when we have a drink? Answer.    Wine “gladdens the human heart” (Psalm 104:15). In moderation it is an aid to health; the sages used to say when they took a drink, “Wine and health to the rabbis and their students!” (Shabbat 67b). But wine …

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Oz Torah – Torah reading: Sh’mot

THE BURNING BUSH. By the time we reach the adulthood of Moses we see that this was no ordinary human being but a man with a flaring sense of the Divine Presence. Out in the wilderness the Voice spoke to him from a thorn-bush which burnt but was not consumed. …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi ‘Eating Pork’

Question.  Why is eating pork so repugnant to Jews? Answer.     Though the pig is not the only animal which the Torah forbids us to eat, it has come to be the ultimate symbol of what Jews don’t do. Historically, a Jew who threw off Jewish restraints would show his defiance …

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Oz Torah: Torah reading – Vayyechi

JACOB LIVED. The patriarch had two names – Jacob and Israel. After his all-night wrestle with the unnamed assailant, the name Jacob was replaced by Israel. Yet with this week’s portion we find “Jacob” back again: “Vay’chi Ya’akov”, “And Jacob lived”. Why does the text come back to the old …

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Oz Torah: Ask the Rabbi on “incense in the synagogue”

INCENSE IN THE SYNAGOGUE. Question.   In some religions they go in for “bells and smells”. Why does Judaism not burn incense in the synagogue, especially since it used to be the case in the Temple? Answer.     Probably the only context in which there was anything similar to incense in …

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OzTorah – Torah reading: Vayyiggash

HE SAID THE SHEMA. Rashi tells us, following the rabbinic sages, that when Joseph and his elderly father Jacob finally met again, the pious old man said the Shema (Gen. 46:29). Perhaps it was because his first thought was to thank God that the long-cherished dream of reunion with his …

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