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Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

Must I Convert to My Own Religion?

 

Question of the Week:

 

I have to admit, I am angry. I was brought up Jewish, attended a Jewish school, and have only known Judaism as my religion. Now I am told I have to convert, because my mother never formally became Jewish. Isn't it a little unfair that all my life I was more Jewish than my friends, was subjected to anti-Semitism, and then I am told I need to convert?

 

Answer:

 

I completely understand your frustration. It can't be easy to hear that you need to convert to your own religion. But please don't take it personally. This is not a reflection on you. The entire Jewish nation went through exactly what you are going through now.

 

After leaving Egypt, where they suffered as slaves and were… Read More »

Should Jews Be Invisible?

 

Question of the Week:

 

What is the Lag Baomer Parade about?

 

Answer:

 

The first Lag Baomer Parade was in New York in 1953. And it shook the Jewish world.

 

This was just a few short years after the war. In those times, many Jews lived by the saying, "incognito ergo sum" - we can only survive as Jews if we keep our Jewishness to ourselves. A public display of Judaism was asking for trouble. Lie low, don't make waves, keep your head down and try to blend in as best you can.

 

Jews went to great lengths to hide their Jewishness. A kippa would never be worn in public. Mezuzas had to be almost invisible if there at all. Jewish names were changed to sound less Jewish, and you wouldn't dare… Read More »

Why Do I Suffer from Mental Illness?

Question of the Week:

   
Can you tell me why G-d gave me a mental illness? Why has he made me suffer? I am not a bad person.
 
Answer:
 
Every soul journeys down into this world with two suitcases. One is full of the challenges the soul has to face during its lifetime. The other is full of the talents and strengths necessary to withstand those challenges. The first suitcase is opened for you; the second you have to open yourself. 
 
Your soul's challenge is mental illness. I don't know why. But I do know that your mission is to use your talents, to turn the pain and frustration into a positive force. 
 
Because of your openness and willingness to share your experiences, you are an… Read More »

Scientific Proof of the Torah

Question of the Week:

  
Do you still hold on to the belief that the Torah is divine? Literary experts and historians have compared the Bible to other writings of 3000 years ago (when the Torah was supposedly given by G-d) and said that its style doesn't fit in to the literature of that time frame, and must have been written much later. How can you ignore a fact that has been scientifically proven?
 
Answer:
 
Did you hear about the recent study on frogs? Scientists took a sample of over one hundred frogs of various species and did the following test:
 
They placed each frog on a table, crept up behind it and shouted, "Jump!" The frog jumped.
 
Then they cut off one leg, and again shouted… Read More »

Haunted by the Holocaust

Question of the Week:

I am a grandchild of Holocaust survivors but I feel haunted as if I went through it myself. I regularly see images of Auschwitz in dreams and flashes. I am sometimes even scared to tell people I am Jewish. It seems so ridiculous to be this way here in Australia in 2017. Am I crazy?

 Answer:

You are not crazy. You are a sensitive Jewish soul, and what you are experiencing is not uncommon. You are experiencing the vertical connection.

All Jewish souls are connected. We are more than one family, we are one soul continuum. No matter what affiliation a Jew has or hasn't, every Jewish soul is connected. This connection transcends both time and space. We are horizontally connected to every… Read More »

Does Hitting Your Computer Screen Help?

 

Question of the Week:

 

At my seder no one understands Hebrew, so we read the Haggadah in English. My cousin who is fluent in Hebrew says that we miss much of the richness and depth of the story by reading it in translation. Apparently there are deeper lessons that can only be found in the Hebrew. What does he mean?

 

Answer:

 

In every English version of the Haggadah that I have seen, there is one word that is always translated incorrectly.

 

When listing the Ten Plagues that smote the Egyptians, second one in Hebrew is called Tzefardeya. This is always translated as Frogs. But the original Hebrew is in the singular. The translation should be Frog.

 

Now indeed, it is a little awkward to… Read More »

Ma Nishtana - Questions or Answers?

 

Question of the Week:


My favourite part of the Seder is when the kids sing the famous Four Questions, Ma Nishtana. But I always wondered why we call it the Four Questions. Look at the text, they are actually four statements:


Why is this night different from all other nights?
On all other nights we eat chometz (leaven) or matzah. On this night we eat only matzah. 
On all other nights we eat any type of vegetables. On this night, we eat maror (bitter herbs).
On all other nights we are not required to dip even once. On this night we dip twice.
On all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining. On this night, we all recline.


So are they questions or answers?


Answer:


Sometimes, the question is the answer.… Read More »

Meditating on your Belly Button

Question of the Week:

 

Can you explain my children to me? I have dedicated my life to looking after their every need. But if I ask one of them to get me a glass of water they moan and groan as if I have asked them to run a marathon for me. Why is it that one parent can raise four kids, but four kids can't look after one parent?

 

Answer:

 

We are all descendants of Adam and Eve, the first human beings. We have inherited from them the basic ingredients of human nature.

 

One thing made Adam and Eve very different to the rest of us. They didn't have parents. They were created as adults by G-d, not born as babies to parents. They had no umbilical cords. They probably didn't even have belly… Read More »

Can Intermarriage be a Good Thing?

 

Question of the Week:

   

I have always felt an affinity to Queen Esther from the Purim story. Just like me, she married a non-Jew. And because of it she saved the Jewish people. Isn't the message that intermarriage can be good for the Jews?

 

Answer:

 

Esther is a tragic hero. Unlike the common misconception, she was not happy to be queen. She was dragged away from her family and people, against her will, and forced to marry a grotesque and uncouth tyrant, the king of Persia, Achashverosh.

 

This was no romantic courtship. Having executed his previous queen for not obeying his wishes, Achashverosh ordered that every woman in the kingdom present herself before him. Esther, a sweet Jewish girl… Read More »

Do You Love Me?

 

Question of the Week:

  

I have come to shul a few times now and quite enjoy it, but I have an issue with some of the prayers. I feel like a liar saying things when I don't know if I believe in them. How can I exclaim, "love G-d with all your heart" when I am not sure He even exists?

 

Answer:

 

You have been married a few years now, and I am sure that you love your wife dearly. But have you ever woken up one morning with a sense that you've lost that loving feeling?

 

Perhaps after a moment of tension between you, or maybe you have been feeling down for other reasons, or for no apparent reason at all, you just feel that your heart is cold and the love you once felt has… Read More »

Is Academic Antisemitism Surprising?

 

Question of the Week:

 

I am shocked by the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the world. When Jew-hatred comes from backward extremists and street mobs, it isn't so surprising. But when university educated, well-read westerners, who know history and have access to the facts, are able to demonize Israel and the Jewish people, something is wrong. Has the world gone mad?

 

Answer:

 

The academics who single out Israel for contempt are guilty of ignoring the facts. But those who are shocked by it are also guilty of ignoring the facts.

 

History has shown that being educated has nothing to do with being moral. Some of the most cultured people have also been the most evil.

 

The Holocaust was committed by… Read More »

Do Mermaids Really Exist?

 

Question of the Week:

Is it true that Jews believe in Mermaids?

Answer:

The Talmud has a passage that discusses the mating habits of various animals and fish. Why that is important to the Talmud, we can discuss another time.

 

One marine species is mentioned that reproduces the same way as humans, and the Talmud refers to this species by its Latin name. The rabbis of the Talmud described this species as "sea people."

 

This mysterious reference to sea people has sparked the imagination of many students of the Talmud. In fact, the great medieval scholar Rashi defined them as being half human, half fish, and translated them into his native French as sirene, meaning mermaids.

 

But perhaps we would… Read More »

The Disabled Parking Dilemma

 

Question of the Week:

 

My grandmother no longer drives, so I use her car. It has a disabled parking permit, which allows me to park without paying anywhere I want. I feel a little guilty about it and thought maybe I should give it up. On the other hand, am I doing anything wrong just leaving it there?

 

Answer:

 

Thinking this one through, I can come up with several arguments in favour of keeping the permit, but only one argument in favour of giving it up.

 

Let's look at the arguments in favour of keeping the permit:

- You already… Read More »

Who Created G-d?

 

Question of the Week:

 

My 6 year old daughter has asked me: If G-d created the world and everything in it, then who created G-d?

 

Would love your answer...

 

Answer:

 

Indeed, G-d created everything in the world. Not just tangible things, like trees and rocks and caterpillars, but abstract things too, ideas and concepts. time and space, G-d created them too.

 

Until G-d created these things, they did not exist. Before creation, there were no caterpillars, but there also was no time. Space did not exist before G-d… Read More »

Why We Say Shkoyach!

 

Question of the Week:

 

My conversion process has been a huge learning curve. One of the many challenges is getting my head around all the terminology. I can finally pronounce Chanukah correctly, and I now know the difference between Kiddush and Kaddish (was embarrassing when I didn't), but there is one word that still confuses me: Shkoyach (spelling?). I hear people shout "shkoyach" after the rabbi's sermon, after someone gets called to the Torah, and sometimes even when I pass the herring at the Shabbos table. What exactly does shkoyach mean and when is the right time to say it?

 

Answer:

 

According to the Oxford Etymological Dictionary of Jewish Jargon[*], Shkoyach is a condensed version of the… Read More »

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