Printed from Nefesh.org.au

Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

Was My Divorce a Big Mistake?

 

Question of the Week:

After my recent divorce I have done a lot of thinking. Does the failure of my marriage mean that I didn't marry my soulmate? Or does it mean I did marry the right person, and now I have lost my soulmate...? In other words, was it destined to be, or not?

 

Answer:

 

People have free choice. We can marry Mr Wrong, or divorce Mr Right. We have to take responsibility for choosing a partner, even if things didn't work out.

 

And yet, when a marriage ends in divorce, it's not to say that it was not meant to be in the first place. Alongside the belief… Read More »

A Cure for Your Screen Addiction

Question of the Week:

I am 16 years old and I am an atheist. I attend a Jewish High School, and we have compulsory prayers every morning for about twenty minutes. I have argued that there is no point in me taking part due to my lack of faith, so I should be allowed to read a book. My teacher said I should ask you this question - is there any benefit for me to say the prayers? If you can somehow convince me that I am not wasting my time, I will consider it...

Answer:

I challenge you to try this.

When it's time for prayers, sit with your prayer book open and start reading. For the next twenty minutes, try not to take your eyes off the book. See if you are able to maintain focus and concentration for the entire duration of the… Read More »

How Will I Get Out of This One?

Question of the Week: 

 
My spiritual life has come to a standstill. Every time I try to take a step up, I get a hit. I have committed to keeping Shabbos, and now I am having trouble at work. I have started keeping kosher but my family is resisting big time. It seems my path is always blocked. Will this ever end?

Answer:

You need a Red Sea moment. You are like the Israelites being chased by the Egyptians from behind, blocked by the sea in front. Their past is haunting them, and their future is eluding them. You know what happened next? Well it can happen to you too.

In what seems to be a strange addition to the story of the splitting of the sea, the Talmud states that not only did the water of the Red Sea split, but… Read More »

Why Is Seder Night Always a Full Moon?

Question of the Week: 

 
I am very connected to the zodiac and was wondering if there is a link between the stars and the timing of Pesach. I have also noticed that the Seder always coincides with the full moon. What is the significance of all this?
 
Answer:
 
There is deep astrological significance to the date of Pesach. We celebrate the festival of freedom on the night of the 15th of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar, the night the Israelites were freed from Egypt. This is the full moon of the month of Aries, the ram.
 
The Egyptians worshipped the ram as a god. Aries is the leader of the star signs, the first and most powerful, and the Egyptians saw themselves as the leaders of the world, receiving their… Read More »

A Seder Conspiracy Theory

 Question of the Week:

Whoever wrote the Haggadah seems to have made a major mistake. The name of Moses does not appear in the entire Haggadah! How could the main man of the Exodus who confronted Pharaoh, brought down the plagues, and led his people out of slavery be completely left out of the story? It would be like doing Macbeth without Macbeth, or Star Wars without Luke Skywalker. I have a conspiracy theory: This was no mistake. The Haggadah was written by an anti-Moses faction who tried to write him out of history. That way they would take over the priesthood and control the Temple. Like it?

Answer:

That's a fantastic conspiracy theory. Really fantastic.

But the question is a good one. Moses' absence from the Haggadah… Read More »

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?

Answer:

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?
 
Answer:
 
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....

Answer:

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?

Answer:

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?
 
Answer:
 
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?
 
Answer:
 
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?

Answer:

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? 

 

Answer:

 

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?

 

Answer:

 

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 »

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.