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Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

Has Your Wife Got an Ego Problem?

 

Question of the Week:

 

My family very much enjoyed being at your Shabbos table, thanks again for the invite. I meant to ask you a question that has bothered me for years. It's about prayer. Looking through all the praises of G-d's greatness in the prayer book, it seems to be a big ego trip for G-d. Is G-d so insecure that he needs his creations to pray to him 3 times a day, telling him how great he is? 

 

Answer:

 

We loved having your wonderful family over. You should be very proud of them all. 

 

But one thing disturbed me. Your children behaved really well, but I am a little concerned about your wife.

 

Every time your wife gave your son anything, like a piece of chicken, a drink, or… Read More »

Do You Want to See a Miracle? Here's one...

 

Question of the Week:

 


I wish I could have met the Rebbe. I have heard so many miracle stories about him, I sometimes wonder, if I would have seen a miracle in front of my eyes would I still be such a skeptic? Or maybe the Rebbe would have made me believe....

 

Answer:

 

The Rebbe once addressed a similar question from a similar skeptic. When I read it my eyes popped out of my head. If you look at it with an open mind, it could change your perspective.



In a post-script to a letter from 1956, the Rebbe wrote the following:

 

In response to what you write regarding the Jew from Bulgaria, who says he is… Read More »

Are You Waiting for Your Next Life?

 

Question of the Week:

 

What is the difference between a rabbi and a Rebbe? I have been reading up on the Rebbe and he was obviously a great man. But what makes someone a Rebbe and not a regular rabbi?

 

Answer:

 

There are many differences, too many to list here, but one is this: A rabbi answers questions, a Rebbe answers people. A rabbi hears what you say with your mouth, a Rebbe hears what you are saying with your soul.

 

I'll explain what I mean.

 

A teenage boy once asked the Rebbe, "Do we believe in reincarnation?"

 

The Rebbe's answer was short and cryptic:

 

 "Yes we do believe in reincarnation. But don't wait until then."

 

This… Read More »

Should I Feel Guilty?

 

Question:

You know me, I always feel guilty about something. Since my mother died, I feel guilty every time I have fun or even go to the hairdresser, as if I have no right to enjoy my life now that her life has ended. I know this isn't healthy but I can't seem to let myself live. Are there any Jewish teachings on this that might help me?

 

Answer:

 

The only thing you should feel guilty about is feeling guilty. Not only is it holding you back, it's holding your mother's soul back too.

 

The connection we have with a loved one reaches beyond this lifetime. It is a soul connection, a bond deeper than the physical and temporary confines of the body. Just as souls never die, so too our relationship with a soul… Read More »

The Corner of the Table: Will I Stay Single Forever?

 

Question of the Week:

 

In my family, it is strictly forbidden for any unmarried person to sit at the corner of the table. We were told from a young age that if you do sit at a corner, you will never get married. To this day I can't bring myself to sit at a corner, or let anyone else do so. Is this a Jewish belief?

 

Answer:

 

This belief is widely held, and has been handed down for generations in a range of cultures. If your grandmother is Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Rumanian or Ukrainian then there is a good chance she grew up with this superstition. The fact that many Jewish families originate from those countries may explain why so many share this belief. But it doesn't come from a Jewish source.

 

Read More »

Who Wrote the End of the Torah?

 

Question of the Week:

 

If Moses received the entire Torah at Mt Sinai, how did it contain things that hadn't even happened yet, right up to Moses' death forty years later?!

 

Answer:

 

That's a great question! Moses didn't receive all five books of the Torah all at once. It was a process of unravelling. 

 

At Mt Sinai, G-d gave Moses the Ten Commandments along with all the Torah passages from creation up until that point. That included the book of Genesis, and part of the book of Exodus until the description of the revelation at Mt Sinai. Then in the following months G-d dictated to Moses the rest of Exodus, Leviticus and part of Numbers. The rest of Numbers and Deuteronomy were given to Moses in… Read More »

Does My Kippah Make Me a Target?

Question of the Week:

 

My work takes me to all kinds of places, and often I find myself in neighbourhoods that are pretty hostile to Jews. My friends are telling me that I should remove my kippah as I am endangering myself by being openly Jewish. I wear my kippah with pride, but am I making myself into a target? 

 

Answer:

 

There are two ways to wear a kippah. You can wear it on your head, or you can wear it in your head. 

 

Wearing a kippah on your head means it is an article of clothing, an accessory, an external addition to your self. 

 

Wearing it in your head means it is part of you, it is a fixture, a piece of your very self. It is not just what you wear, it is who you are. 

Read More »

Yours Insincerely

 

Question of the Week:

 

I understand the uplifting value of tzedakah, giving charity, and I try to donate often to honour the memory of those I've loved, who lived lives that have inspired me. Lately, however, I've given tzedakah donations to worthy causes in the hope of achieving something I yearn for and dream about - I want my daughter to get married. Is this still charity, or am I bribing G-d?

 

Answer:

 

There is a fascinating line in the Talmud:

 

'One who gives charity and says "on condition that my child is healed from sickness" or "that I earn a reward in the afterlife" - that person is completely righteous.'

 

This means that giving charity in the hope of selfish… Read More »

What's So Kabbalistic About Bonfires?

 

Question of the Week:

 

What's the idea of having big bonfires on Lag Baomer? I know it is the day of the passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the "father of Kabbalah." But even Moses doesn't get bonfires on the day of his passing...

 

Answer:

 

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai spent the last moments of his life doing what he always did: teaching. The mystical ideas that he shared with his devoted students that day were the deepest and most revolutionary teachings he had ever revealed.

 

But as he conveyed this parting message, there was tension in heaven. Rabbi Shimon's death was ordained to be that day before sundown. As the afternoon stretched on and evening approached, he had not yet… Read More »

How to Not Save a Sinking Ship

Question of the Week:

A recent study on Jewish continuity divided the community into three categories. The inner core are those who are fully Orthodox and observant of Torah. They are not at risk. The outer layer are the Jews who are not engaged at all in Judaism, on the edge and most at risk of assimilation. Then there is a large middle layer, comprising those who are somewhat traditional, have a Jewish identity but are not religious. The study went on to say that communal funds and effort should be focused solely on the middle group. The religious core are fine, they are mostly marrying within the community and having Jewish children. The outer layer are too far gone and too hard to bring back. It is the middle who are at risk of… Read More »

Why Can't I Find the Man of My Dreams?

 

Question of the Week:

 

I am forty now and still single. I have met dozens of guys, but none are right for me. I know what you are going to say: I am too fussy. But I can't just settle on something half good. Where is the man of my dreams?

 

Answer:

 

It doesn't make sense. You are a wonderful person with so much to offer. Why are you still alone?

 

There could be many reasons why someone may find it hard to find a partner. But I think in your case, the answer is simple. You are not available. You're already married. 

 

You are involved in a longstanding intimate relationship with an imaginary man, Mr Right. You have conjured an exact picture of the perfect husband, and… Read More »

It's Not Just Cricket

Question of the Week:

 

The one Jewish ideal that I can't get my head around is Moshiach - the belief in the coming of a messianic era. What good is achieved by awaiting some future time when there will be peace on earth? Shouldn't we focus on the present, rather than dreaming about the future? Why is the belief in the coming of the messiah so central to Judaism?

 

Answer:

 

Some of the deepest truths I learnt from my cricket coach. He was a sharp guy, with a keen eye for detail. He would observe my batting style and point out what I needed to work on. But I gained more than just cricket advice.

 

One consistent flaw in my batting was my follow through. The coach noticed that as soon as my bat hits… Read More »

Seder - When Chaos is Called Order

 

ARE YOU HOLY ENOUGH TO SIT AT THE SEDER TABLE?

 

The word "Seder" actually means "order." This is a little ironic. The average Seder in any Jewish home is one of the most chaotic events you could ever imagine. And that's called order. 



We start the Seder by listing the fifteen steps that we will follow. The first two words are "Kadesh Urchatz" which mean "Sanctify and wash." These refer to the first two steps of the Seder, making Kiddush and then washing hands. 

 

But the order is significant. After all, it is called the Seder. But here it seems to be in reverse order. Surely we need to wash first before sanctifying ourselves. You… Read More »

Should We Relish the Approval of Others?

Question of the Week:

 

I am confused about the maror, the bitter herbs eaten at the Seder. I always thought you are supposed to use horseradish. But then I heard that we should use cos (or romaine) lettuce leaves, with a spoonful of fresh horseradish. I eat lettuce with my salad all year round, and it is not bitter. If anything it is quite sweet tasting. So why eat lettuce to commemorate the bitterness of Egyptian slavery?

 

Answer:

 

Your sweet lettuce is a sneaky little vegetable. Its nature very closely parallels the Egyptian slavery experience.

 

Indeed, lettuce has a gentle and pleasant taste. That is because we pick… Read More »

Skeptics at the Seder?

 

Question of the Week:


Who Really Wrote the Haggadah?

With Pesach coming up, here's something I always wanted to know. Why do we place a chicken neck on the Seder Plate, and then leave it there and not eat it. I always look at the empty Seder plate with this lonely chicken neck left behind, and wonder, why is it there? 

 

Answer:

 

One of the most amazing characters in the story of the Exodus is Pharaoh. He witnessed with his own eyes the downfall of his country, he experienced first hand the miracles of the Ten Plagues one after the other, he saw how every prediction Moses made came true, and yet… Read More »

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