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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.

A Lopsided Wedding Ceremony?

 

Question of the Week: 

 

I am getting married in two months from now, and last night we had a meeting with the rabbi who will be conducting the ceremony. Something came up which I am quite uncomfortable with: the issue of only the groom giving the bride a ring, and not vice versa. This essentially represents to me that I am being purchased. The idea that there is a problem with the bride also giving the groom a ring seems absurd to me. Surely I have as much say in the agreement to be married as my husband-to-be?

 

I know I am allowed to give the ring after the ceremony. However, I want to exchange rings… Read More »

Why Are Jews Always in the News?

 

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… Read More »

Do You EVER Get Angry?

 

Question of the Week:

I've had a question for a while now and no one has been able to give me a satisfying answer. I want to know why it sometimes seems that we depict G-d as a tantruming little child. For example, many times in the Torah it says that we should not say or do something that is forbidden since that will make G-d very angry. What am I supposed to make of that? How can I respect a G-d who is on the edge of blowing up if we don't follow what He says?

Answer:

Imagine being married to a man who never gets angry. Ever. About anything. You insult him and he shrugs. You are rude to him and he is nice back to you. You give… Read More »

Why Can't They Die With Dignity?

 

Question of the Week:

  

I visit my 92 year old mother every day in her old age home, and every day I look around at the seniors there and ask myself the same question, why does G-d leave these old people to die without dignity? Every one of them needs either a diaper change, someone to feed them, wash them, or do everything for them. I have faith, but this thing really makes me angry. Why can't they die with dignity?

 

Answer:

 

It is so hard to see a loved one fade after living a vibrant and active life. How we approach this painful stage will depend on our perspective. And the Jewish perspective on the end of life differs greatly to modern secular thinking. To approach life and death with faith, we need… Read More »

The Whole World is a Very Noisy Fridge

 

Question of the Week:

How can a rational thinking person believe in G-d, when there is absolutely no evidence for his existence? Today we have x-ray, radar, satellites, infrared photography, ultrasound imaging, gamma-ray telescopes and CCTV, and yet we still have found no trace of G-d. If he is supposed to be everywhere, why is he nowhere to be seen? My logic says, if you are nowhere, you don't exist...

 

Answer:

 

Being everywhere doesn't make you easy to find. On the contrary, logic says if you are everywhere, it's as if you're nowhere. A bit like our fridge.

As our family grew we needed more fridge space, so we bought an old fridge online. It was a bargain. We soon found out why. After we plugged it in it… Read More »

HE Can't Commit? YOU Can't Commit!

Question of the Week: 

You may find it strange that I am writing to you, rabbi. You know I am not very involved in Jewish life. I am very spiritual, just not religious. But I am turning to you because you know my boyfriend very well. We've been so long together and he still won't commit. He says we are fine as we are and don't need to be married. Maybe you can give him a little nudge and explain that a relationship needs commitment to be real?

Answer:

I would be glad to try and bring him around. You are a great couple and he would be a fool to lose you. But I must say, you can't blame him for not committing. You are doing the exact same thing as he is.

 

When he says, "I love you, but I don't want to marry you,"… Read More »

Bar Mitzvah Violence

 

Question of the Week:

 

Here's a question I struggle with: every year 13-year old bar mitzvah boys in synagogues around the world will intonate the Torah's commandment to stone people to death, including rebellious sons who fail to yield to their parents commands (however unreasonable they may be, Deut 22:18-21); and our "very own brother, son or daughter, or beloved wife" if they suggest worshipping alternate gods" (however that may be proven, Deut 13:6-11).

 

I struggle with these passages because they promote such incommensurate violence. If I am blessed with a son and he has to read one of these verses for his bar mitzvah, I will find myself seriously conflicted. Even if there is… Read More »

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 »

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