Ask the Rabbi

9647972522_eb1f0c3ca7_zDo you have questions about Judaism? 

 

Here are three options for finding answers on this website:

1. USE THE SEARCH BOX at the right side of this screen. Fill in a keyword, and see if the search brings up an article I’ve already written.

2. CLICK ON A CATEGORY in the “cloud” just below the search box. That will bring up all the articles I’ve written on a given topic. In the case of “Especially for Beginners” it will bring up every article I’ve written with beginners in mind – no assumed background whatsoever.

3. ASK! If you don’t have any luck searching and clicking, ask your question in the “Comments” at the bottom of this page. I will use those questions for future articles, and will let you know as soon as an article is posted. All articles that result from reader questions will be tagged as “Ask the Rabbi” pieces.

I reserve my right to edit questions and to delete offensive or rude comments.

29 Responses to Ask the Rabbi

  1. Jacques Hennebert says:

    Hello from France!

    As a member of Keren-Or, the Reform synagogue in Lyon, France, I’ve heard about your blog, browsed it, and found a lot of fascinating stuff. Particularly the Nine tips for newcomers, and How to succeed in congressional life…
    I realized we don’t have that in French, though we need it!
    Would you mind my translating these into French and passing them on?
    Of course, quoting your references!
    So many people expect rabbis to look and act the same way morticians do, at least in Europe, that I was glad to discover that a lot don’t! Among them, ours, René Pfertzel.

    Yours,
    Jacques Hennebert

    Like

    • rabbiadar says:

      Jacques, I would be honored for you to translate anything here, as long as links and my name accompany them. If you put the translations online, I would like to link to them, if possible. Thank you so much for the offer and the kind words!

      Like

      • Jacques Hennebert says:

        Oh dear! Thank you so much! And… It was not an offer I proposed, but a favour I begged for!
        Anyway, you can be sure your name and links will accompany any material from your site; this, in respect of your work and vim!

        Yours,

        Jacques Hennebert

        Like

  2. Jen Abbott says:

    I converted to Conservative Judaism in 2000 (after starting out in Reform). About two years ago I left my shul and began a journey on the Karaite path. Although I love the Karaite path I miss a community and there are certain topics where I am more closely aligned with Reform than Karaite.

    Would I as someone who is not really rabbinic nor karaite be welcomed into the Reform world?

    Like

    • rabbiadar says:

      Jewish study is a lifelong journey. While Reform Judaism is definitely an expression of Rabbinic Judaism, you would certainly be welcome as a visitor in a Reform congregation. I suggest that you find a congregation that feels good to you, then meet with the rabbi to sort out the rest.

      Like

  3. Andrew Silver says:

    Quick question: During prayers when the reader says Baruch Atah A…, they pause and the congregation says what exactly? Baruch hu shemo, or something like that. Could you let me know, thanks.

    Like

  4. Richard says:

    Thank you for your blog. I follow you on twitter and always get your updates. I really enjoy your site. My question is this, and I hope I am asking in such a way as to really express my question, what is the Reform movement’s position on merkabah literature? Thank you

    Like

  5. Quincy Adams says:

    Do you believe African-Americans are the real Jews? Moses prophesied the curses that would befall Israel in the last days for breaking YHUH’s commandments. A detailed list of curses were given in Deuteronomy, specifically chapter 28, I have concluded through tireless research and through process of elimination of ALL peoples on this earth that these people (African-Americans) are in fact YHUH’s chosen people. Your thoughts?

    Like

    • rabbiadar says:

      No, Mr. Adams, I don’t agree with your analysis and I find it offensive to both African-Americans and to Jews. Neither group is “cursed” by God. Jews (who come from many nations and races) live in a covenant relationship with God to this very day. People of African descent, including those who are Americans, may find any of several paths to God: some are Christian, some are Jewish, some are Muslim, some are Bahai, some subscribe to other faiths.

      I believe that all of us are children of God.

      Like

  6. ywwp says:

    thank you for following my blog – http://YourWellWisherProgram.wordpress.com, it drives me ahead. regards

    Like

  7. Hi Rabbi Adar (how do you prefer to be addressed, btw?) I have some questions! I’m a UK Reform Jew, with massive holes in my Jewish education and a lack of understanding of the day to day traditions of Judaism. My first question I suppose, is about mitzvot – I know we’re supposed to ‘do mitzvot’, but what are they? Where is the list? I see this discussed everywhere, but always from the perspective that the reader will already know what they are and all about them… As I’ve said in my blog post, I often feel I don’t quite know the rules, that everyone else knows what they’re supposed to be doing but I missed it all somehow…

    Like

  8. Kaeli Ferguson says:

    Head coverings: I recently visited a synagogue where a few women along with the men wore a kippah for the service. Our local synagogue has a piece of lace in a bow that some women wear only on high holidays. My question is: what is the background for women covering their heads during services? Is it optional in most US conservative and reform synagogues now? And from a practical viewpoint, if it is really warm and a woman wishes to cover her head with a kippah instead of a scarf would that be acceptable in most US conservative or reform synagogues? (I know it’s individual but just looking for some idea). Anything that you could say about head coverings and tradition would be great to hear!

    Like

  9. VM says:

    Dear Rabbi, this is a loaded question (smile :)

    When it comes to.. personal issues .. whether:..Spiritual,.. Morals, .. Principles & Values … to governs one’s …numerous aspects of life, …would the Torah/Tanach/New Testament .. be considered as ..Thee ..Final Authority (the True .. End-all ..&.. Be-all, ..biblical word) …to structure one’s life around as their foundation of beliefs?

    Since the Bible does Not ..defy the laws of the land .. but the Tanach is superior …as guidance to adhere to… especially for the practicing Jew, .. would it be safe to say .. that if one chooses to firmly plant their beliefs within the principles of the Tanach, … can they truly count on God’s Written Word of instructions .. as TRUTH …and take those Words.. to Heart via ..digest & make it a part of their being .. in reality, ..both, physically, & spiritually?

    Is the Bible looked upon as .. Antiquated …even in the 21st Century?!?

    Or, do the Rabbis & leaders pick-n-choose ..what’s relevant for today .. and dismiss the rest?

    So, if a person sincerely .. trust & rely upon .. the Word of God .. & put their complete faith & total confidence … in the scriptural message of instructions, values, and way of living, .. will that individual .. reap the benefits of the Deuteronomy 28 – Blessings of Obedience .. & protection?

    Does the Rabbinical Courts based their decisions predominantly from the Torah/Tanach? Especially when it comes to Sin & Judgment?!

    Shalom, VM

    Like

    • VM says:

      Do rabbinical students study from the
      • “most original” written & oral Torah available
      • .. in order to compare the text
      • .. with more recent translations, commentaries
      • .. to ensure that (even) the great scholars have not substituted nor omitted ..anything?
      • Shouldn’t the students curriculum include .. a raw, independent research, investigation, & evaluation with the “same authentic – earliest documents” .. available .. to see if the students will come to the same conclusion .. BEFORE .. they declare its validity as an ordained Rabbi, leader?

      Like

  10. Jeffrey Lazar says:

    A question about synagogue decorum. In the Conservative shul I attend, people are milling about (and even talking) during the silent Amidah. It gets worse during the Cantor’s public recitation of the Amidah. Worse yet, some women are dancing in the aisles during the L’dor v’dor at the end of the Kadusha. There are no ushers, but several board members are always in attendance. Therefore, I have to assume that neither the Rabbi nor the board find this behavior bothersome. Is my assumption correct? What are my options besides finding a new synagogue. And yes, this has always been a not very well behaved congregation. Thanks.

    Like

  11. lokilasher says:

    In the MANY versions of the Christian Bible, in Genesis chapter 1 verse 28 it uses the word “replenish”, and I was wondering: What word is used in the Hebrew version?

    Like

    • rabbiadar says:

      The phrase is וּמִלְאוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ in Hebrew, the original text of Genesis. U-milu, the first word, is based on the root “fill.” With the vowels and prefix, I would translate the phrase “fill the earth.”

      Translators have to make choices. As soon as you move from one language to another, things shift. I can say “fill” instead of “replenish” but both are legitimate choices in English.

      Like

  12. VM says:

    Do rabbinical students study from the
    • “most original” written & oral Torah available
    • .. in order to compare the text
    • .. with more recent translations, commentaries
    • .. to ensure that (even) the great scholars have not substituted nor omitted ..anything?
    • Shouldn’t the students curriculum include .. a raw, independent research, investigation, & evaluation with the “same authentic – earliest documents” .. available .. to see if the students will come to the same conclusion .. BEFORE .. they declare its validity as an ordained Rabbi, leader?

    Like

    • rabbiadar says:

      I can only speak from my own experience at HUC-JIR between 2002-8. There I was expected to study the texts in the original and to familiarize myself with many different commentaries, ancient and modern.

      However, it would be impossible, even in that length of time, to study with equal depth all the texts comprised in Written and Oral Torah. They call it “The Sea of Talmud” for a reason!

      I’m very interested in where you are coming from, VM. I think I could answer your questions better if I knew a bit more about you. What’s your background, and what inspires your questions?

      Like

  13. vm says:

    Hello Rabbi!

    I am from the Midwest .. and the questions (along with my other new set of questions presented after the initial one)

    .. evolved from my own exegetical studies which has been conducted for over 5 years.

    During that time I have read & studied the entire Tanakh as well as the Christians New Testament

    .. in order to ascertain the “real” foundation of their beliefs & values, … both spiritual & practical.

    It has been an exhilarating experience to gain a deeper understanding of both points-of-view regarding G-d & His Ways.

    I’ve finally completed my research about a week ago .. & the questions I had presented to you .. as well as other Rabbis on the internet

    .. evolved as the culmination of my extensive studies. I have a Liberal Arts .. Masters Degree .. but not in any type of Religious Studies.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s response and am respectful to each one’s opinion.

    It’s All About Shalom!
    VM

    Like

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