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Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

Thousands of people enjoy the wisdom and inspiration of Rabbi Moss' weekly emails.

Do Your Kids Know Your Secrets?

Question of the Week:

My kids get very excited about the Seder, but I find that the thing they are most excited about is the Afikoman. As soon as I break the middle matzah they start begging me to hide the larger part so they can find it. I always do, but sometimes it seems to distract from the rest of the Seder. Is the Afikoman supposed to be such a focus? What are we teaching our kids?


The Seder night is not just a festive meal. It is the ultimate hands-on educational workshop. Every move we make at the Seder, every sentence and every tradition contains volumes of pedagogic wisdom and practical advice, as we pass over to our children the story of who we are and what we believe. The Afikoman is a prime example of this.

Read More »

Do You Comb the Credits for Jewish Names?

Question of the Week:

Why do the Jewish people seem to loom so large on the world stage? The numbers don't add up. Here's a nation less than 0.2% of the world's population, yet we command so much attention you'd think there were billions of us. That's like a room of two thousand people, with one puny guy sitting in the corner who everyone wants to talk to (or pick on).... Why do we always seem to be at the centre of history?
Jews do strange things sometimes. One example is the wide-spread practice of "credit combing."
Many Jews have a habit of combing through the credits at the end of a movie, searching for Jewish names. At each discovery they beam with pride:
Look! Assistant… Read More »

Unicorns Are Real. You're Looking at One

Question of the Week:

Do we believe in unicorns? I once heard the Torah says they really do exist....


Yes we do. I have seen one. And I bet you have too.

The Torah relates that the Israelites made a Mishkan, a portable Temple in the desert. G-d instructed them to make the outer walls out of the skin of a mysterious animal called a Tachash.

Our sages described the Tachash as a desert animal with a stunning multi-coloured hide and one horn in the middle of its head. The Tachash suddenly appeared when the Mishkan was being built, then disappeared without a trace, never to be seen again.

There is a powerful message behind this enchanting little episode. The building of the Temple is a symbol of our life mission, to… Read More »

A Precious Loneliness


Question of the Week:

I know everything happens for a reason, but I am struggling to understand this. For the last three weeks I have been very sick with the flu. It has kept me from my many activities, not the least being my weekly mitzvot that I do. I usually attend shul every Shabbat. Missed that. I visit the retirement home to bring some cheer to the residents. Missed that. An old acquaintance passed away, and I missed the funeral. And I can't look after my grandchild as I am contagious. Please understand I am not complaining (well, maybe a little) but I am trying to understand what G-d wants me to learn from this. Why would He stop me from… Read More »

Could Chocolate be the Secret of Faith?

Question of the Week:

I envy you. You have faith. I can see how people with faith have clarity and strength that others don't, especially in hard times. I don't have that strength and I want some of it. Is there a quick fix for faith?


There is a quick fix for faith. You should eat a piece of chocolate every day. Seriously.

This is an ancient Jewish remedy for strengthening faith. It is a pity so few people know about it, because if they did, their lives would be so much better. And it really isn't so hard. Just eat a piece of chocolate.

But before you eat the chocolate, you should say the blessing on chocolate. It goes like this:

"Blessed are you Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, for everything exists by… Read More »

Is She Worth a Second Date?

Question of the Week:

I met a lovely girl on a blind date last week. We went to the art gallery and had a wonderful conversation. She has everything I am looking for. But she is not for me. There is nothing wrong with her, but I am a very good judge of character and my intuition can quickly assess people. I know when it is right and this time it just isn't. I would meet her a second time just to be polite, but wouldn't that be leading her on?
There is a popular theory that we can know all we need to know about a person in the first few seconds of meeting them. It is a great theory. There is only one problem with it. It is rubbish.
A person is more than meets the eye. We are multi-layered. We have… Read More »

A Tough One from a 4 Year Old

Question of the Week:

My 4 year old asked me some hard questions that I wasn't sure how to answer, like, "Why did Hashem make people deaf? Did they do something bad?" I tried explaining that somehow everything Hashem does is for the best even if we don't understand why, but I felt it wasn't the best answer I could have given. Could you guide me how to answer her?
No human being is complete on their own. Each one of us has a lack in some areas, and extra powers in others. A blind person may have an extra keen intellect, and a deaf person profound emotional strength. No one has it all. This means we need each other.
If you can see, you can help someone who can't. If you are healthy, you can… Read More »

You've Been Caught in the Act


Question of the Week:

My acting career seems to be at a dead end. Every time I come close to a huge role something goes wrong and I miss out. I have tried every avenue I can think of, even changing agents, but it hasn't helped. I am professional, hard-working, dedicated and I believe I have talent (this has been confirmed to me by others too). But I am starting to think I simply wasn't meant to be an actor. Should I just come to terms with being a failure?


My friend, there is only one thing you need to come to terms with. You are not an actor. You may be good at acting, but that is not who you are, it is what you do. Stop identifying yourself by your career. You need to discover an identity that is beyond your work. That… Read More »

Is It Time to Move?


Question of the Week: 


It seems that my family are the modern day wandering Jews.  We have moved from city to city 5 times in the last 7 years. We like where we are now sort of, but we are always slightly on the edge (or not so slightly), making a living thank G-d, but unhappy with the schools, unhappy with the medical care, the weather, etc.  We have even gone back to the place we just came from, only to leave again when things don't work out. 


We need to be in one place for our 13 yr old daughter, but I don't know which place it should be. What should we do? 




It is very clear where you need to be. You need to be where you are right now. G-d has put you there for… Read More »

Is Equality a Myth?


Question of the Week: 


I have often heard it said that Judaism believes that women are more spiritual than men. This is supposed to explain why men have more religious obligations than women - men need these things to become closer to G-d, women are there already. But do we really believe that? Is it not just a patronising way to avoid the question of the different gender roles in Judaism?




I remember as a child being told that men and women are equal. I had a big problem with this. I asked, "If men and woman are equal, why do men and women never compete with each other in sports? You never see a man playing against a woman in tennis, or women's soccer teams facing men's, or a mixed… Read More »

Would You Turn Down a Billion Dollars?


Question of the Week:


Is our family rich?


(From my 7 year old daughter)



Our family is extremely rich. I'll tell you why.


If someone came to me and said, "I'll give you ten thousand dollars to buy your daughter," what do you think I would say?


Would I sell one of my children for ten thousand dollars? No way!


So what if they offered a hundred thousand?


I wouldn't do it, right?


And if they offered a million? Ten million? A billion dollars to buy my daughter?


I wouldn't even need to think it over. I would not sell you for all the money in the world.


A child is more precious than anything. And thank G-d, our family has a few.… Read More »

Do You Believe the Statistics?

Question of the Week:

I fear for the future of the Jewish people. When I look at my family and where they are headed it is not very promising. My grandfather was a rabbi, but I am not sure my grandchildren will even be Jewish. What is the secret to keeping Judaism alive?


I can't tell you how often I hear, "My grandfather was a rabbi." I once read that 87% of the Jewish population today have at least one rabbi in their family tree. I also read that 93% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

It's impossible that three generations ago everyone was a rabbi. What people probably mean is that their grandfather was an observant Jew. He may have had a beard, he prayed every day, and was knowledgeable in Torah. He could… Read More »

Should Doctors be Trusted?

Question of the Week:

My doctor has prescribed more medication for me, but I am not sure I need it. I sometimes suspect that these doctors give blanket diagnoses and dish out medicine rather than really trying to get to the core of the issue. Does Judaism teach us to trust whatever a doctor says, or should we exercise caution?


Your skepticism may be wise. Or it may be preventing you from getting better.


The Talmud teaches that G-d gave permission to doctors to heal. Having faith in G-d means having faith in doctors and their medicine.


This doesn't mean doctors are infallible. They can make mistakes, misdiagnose, and be lazy like the rest of us. And so while we can assume that most doctors are doing their… Read More »

Can You Make this Stuff Up?


Question of the Week:

At my University a group of students from all faiths and religions, including Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindus, Buddhists meet weekly to discuss many subjects. A recurring question often comes up: "Did man create G-d or did G-d create Man?" What would you have to say on that?


Imagine a new colour. Not a new combination of existing colours, or a shade of another colour, but an entirely original colour that does not resemble any other.

You can't. It has never been done. It is beyond the human capability to conceptualise anything that has no basis in reality. All human creativity is the result of taking existing ideas and rearranging them, using ingredients that are already present… Read More »

How Does Traditional Dating Work?


Question of the Week:


I have a question about Shidduch dating. How is it possible that within the space of a few weeks and only a few dates a couple can get engaged? In modern secular dating couples may live together for a year or two before deciding to marry, and yet in traditional Jewish dating they never even live together and get married within months of meeting! From personal experience and anecdotal evidence, it seems to work. But how? 



Boy meets girl at a party. They like each other. He makes her laugh. She makes him feel good about himself. They hit it off.


As the guy is about to get her a drink, she says, "Can I just ask you a question? Are you… Read More »

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