Printed from Nefesh.org.au

Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

Live Stream Seder?

 

NOTE: The answers below reflect the current positions of halachic and medical authorities in Sydney, Australia. Opinions may vary from place to place. Refer to your local authority before making any conclusions. 

 

LIVE STREAMING THE SEDER?

 

Question: Is it true that rabbis have allowed Seders to be live streamed this year so elders can see their family?

 

Answer: In a word, NO. Live streaming is forbidden on Shabbos and Yomtov. There are certain specific circumstances when an exception is made, where life is in danger. If you think that applies to you or anyone you know, ask your rabbi.

 

CAN WE GO PESACH SHOPPING?

 

Question: We are a young couple and we need to do our Pesach… Read More »

The CoronaShabbos Message

 

WHO AM I?

 

I move fast, and news of me spreads even faster.

 

I grab the attention of the entire world like no one else can.

 

I affect you, even if you don't believe in me.

 

I come from one place in the world, but I reach every corner of the world. 

 

I started with one nation, but I take over all nations and all religions. 

 

Because of me, you will change everything you do. All of your habits and routines will be disrupted. You will have to rethink your entire day, and change all of your plans. 

 

Families will become closer because of me. Communities will become tighter because of me. 

 

I will make you less selfish and more sensitive. You will care… Read More »

What's More Contagious than COVID-19?

 

Question of the Week:

 

This coronavirus thing has really thrown me. I feel like I've lost all sense of certainty. No one knows what will happen next. How do we stay sane when we don't know what's lurking around the corner? 

 

Answer:

 

It is not that we have lost our sense of certainty. We have lost our illusion of certainty. We never had it to begin with. This could be majorly unsettling, or amazingly liberating. 

 

This tiny virus of 125 nanometres* has sent the entire world into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, markets are going crazy, entire countries shutting down, and we have no clue what the future holds. 

 

But that is always the case. We never know what the… Read More »

Are You Willing to Bow?

 

Question of the Week:

 

In the Purim story, Mordechai the Jew refuses to bow down to the wicked Haman. As a result, Haman enacts a decree to annihilate the entire Jewish nation. Did Mordechai do the right thing? Technically, bowing to a dignitary is not forbidden by Judaism. So even if Haman thought he was god, shouldn't Mordechai have bowed down to him rather than risk the lives of the entire Jewish people?

 

Answer:

 

In my youth I attended a non-Jewish school. Jews made up about ten percent of the student body, and we felt quite comfortable there. But sometimes we stood out.

 

It wasn't a particularly religious school, but on occasion they did hold prayer services, in a big hall with a huge cross… Read More »

Dreaming of an Ex-Girlfriend?

 

Question of the Week:

 

An ex girlfriend (who I believed was my soul mate) broke up with me almost 10 years ago. I treated her poorly so it's no wonder.  I am now married (to another girl) with kids but still dream of my ex every now and then. What's interesting is I rarely have dreams of my wife. Could this be Hashem's way of punishing me for treating my ex so badly?

 

Answer:

 

I don't know why Hashem does things. But seems to me your conscience is playing on you here. Your dreams might actually be expressions not of long lost love but rather long lost guilt. 

 

There is someone from your past whom you mistreated. You owe them an apology. But I'm not sure you… Read More »

What is the Secret of Keeping Faith?

 

Question of the Week:

 

I'm wondering if you have any teachings that might help me not lose faith as I watch so many people around me suffering. What spiritual sustenance did our forefathers tell themselves to manage through the immense tragedies they must have witnessed in their lives? I already know how to self-care, see a therapist, join a support group, talk to friends. I do all that. I'm looking now for the secret of faith.

 

Answer:

 

I recently read the biography of a man who kept faith during suffering. His name was Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam, known as the Klausenburger Rebbe. 

 

He lost his wife and 11 children in the Holocaust. His community was decimated. After surviving… Read More »

Is the World Getting Better or Worse?

 

Question of the Week:

 

How can we say that Moshiach is ready to come when the world is such a bad place? There has never been so much crime and war and violence and evil as we see today. Do we really believe that we are ready for messianic times?

 

Answer:

 

You must be reading the news too much. That's why you don't know what's going on in the world. 

 

In every key factor, the world is better today than it has ever been, and it's just getting better. We are healthier, safer, freer, smarter and richer than our forebears. And we don't even know it. 

 

Some examples:

 

- In 1950, 75% of the world population was living in extreme poverty. Today it is down to 10%. Food is more… Read More »

Should I Limit My Options?

Question of the Week:

 

My Jewishness is making it harder for me to find love. The more I get involved in Jewish life, the fewer options I have with girls to date. To be honest, it is making me hesitate before becoming more observant. What should I do, take on more Judaism and limit my options, or keep my options open and put the Jewish thing on hold?

 

Answer:

 

It depends what you are looking for. If you are just after a partner, any partner that suits, then it is a simple numbers game, and the more options in front of you the better chances you have. If you have a wider pool of potential partners, the odds are higher that you will be successful in your search. In this equation, the vaguer you are about… Read More »

Isn't This Disgusting?

 

Question of the Week:

 

I'm 11 years old and I'm studying about the specific laws of the Temple in Jerusalem. I learned that it was built in the most beautified way, with gold, silver and copper. Then I learned the laws of the sacrifices which were brought in the Temple, and that blood was sprinkled (and maybe splattered?) all over the place. I'm wondering how that makes the Temple beautiful to have animal's blood everywhere? It seems to be ugly and a bit disgusting. I understand that it was a mitzvah to bring sacrifices, but how is blood on the floor BEAUTIFUL?

 

Answer:

 

Sometimes, beauty appears in the most unexpected places. The blood in the Temple is one of them.

 

The Talmud… Read More »

Who Is Adina?

 

Question of the Week:

 

My name is Adina. I have always been proud of having a Hebrew name, and I love its meaning ("delicate"). But someone asked me who the original Adina was. And I had no idea what to answer. Is it a biblical name? I don't remember hearing of an Adina in the Torah. So where is my name actually from?

 

Answer:

 

You may be surprised to learn the origins of your name. The first Adina was none other than the wife of Lavan the Aramean. That is Lavan the famous fraudster, sorcerer and crafty crook, about whom we read in the Haggadah on Pesach: "Lavan wanted to destroy everything." 

 

Lavan was not known for his good moral values. And yet, this piece of work… Read More »

Who Invented Chess?

 

Question of the Week:

 

I once heard that the game of chess was invented by King Solomon. Does it say that somewhere?

 

Answer:

 

There is a legend that King Solomon came up with the game of chess to keep the minds of his military commanders sharp. And nobody could beat him at his own game.

 

He often played against Benayahu, his chief of staff. And the king always won. Always, that is, except once. 

 

Benayahu was once playing against the king, and things looked like he was about to be checkmated. Frustrated at always losing, Benayahu took advantage when King Solomon left the game for a moment to investigate a commotion happening out the window. Benayahu surreptitiously removed… Read More »

Deja Vu All Over Again?

 

Question of the Week:

 

I often get deja vu, the sensation that I have already lived this moment before. It has happened when I am travelling to new destinations with people I have never met, and I feel that I have been here in this place, with the same people, hearing this very conversation before. Is there a Jewish explanation for this?

 

Answer:

 

Some say that deja vu is a sign of reincarnation. You feel you were here before because you were, in a previous life. Others explain that you had a predictive dream of the scene before it happened, and now you are seeing your dream materialise.

 

Maybe. There is a more mundane explanation. In my personal experience, I only get deja vu when my brain is a… Read More »

Why Do We Cover Mirrors?

 

Question of the Week:

 

Can you shed some light on the custom to cover the mirrors in a house of mourning? I was told that after the funeral of an immediate relative we cover all mirrors in the home for the seven days of mourning. One explanation offered is that we are not supposed to adorn ourselves while mourning. But I am looking for any deeper explanation you may have...

 

Answer:

 

There is a more spooky reason for covering mirrors in a house of mourning. This may sound a bit way out, but on reflection it actually makes a lot of sense.

 

The Kabbalists write that all types of evil spirits and demons come to visit a family in mourning. When a soul leaves this world, they leave a void, an… Read More »

Do Your Candles Help the World?

 

Question of the Week:

 

I had this debate with my sister. We are both trying to raise proud Jewish families, so I was surprised to hear that in her home, they do not light Chanukah candles. She says rituals aren't necessary for Jewish identity. Her words: "It's very cute and quaint to light candles with the kids, but how does that help the world?" I feel she is wrong but couldn't explain why. It does seem a bit silly to say that lighting candles is such a big deal. So, how can I convey that rituals are important?

 

Answer:

 

Imagine you had never seen fire before in your life, and I showed you a flame on a candle. Then I asked you, do you think you can make a fire like this?

 

You would not… Read More »

Is G-d Out of the Miracle Business?

 

Question of the Week: 

  

You know why I don't pray? I don't see the point. G-d seems to be out of the miracle business for the last 2000 years. Like Chanukah is the Festival of Miracles, when G-d saved us from the ancient Greeks. But what have we seen since? Where are the miracles today? Why pray to a G-d who closed up shop 2000 years ago....

 

Answer:

You really need to spin a dreidel. 

 

The dreidel is a spinning top used for a game we traditionally play on Chanukah. There are intricate rules for this game, but for your purposes we can keep it very simple.

 

Look at a spinning dreidel. Can you see any letters… Read More »

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