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Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

Do You Really Want to Leave Lockdown?

 

Question of the Week

After my non-stop complaining about all the restrictions for the last three months, now weirdly a part of me feels like I don't want to go out and face the world again. Is it normal not to want to leave lockdown?

Answer

After the last eighteen months, I am not sure what normal is any more.  But what you are experiencing seems normal to me. It is a common case of Ark Attachment. 

It all started with Noah and the flood. Noah, his wife Naama, and their three sons and daughters-in-law spent over a year confined to the Ark, in the company of wild animals. Which already sounds like a typical lockdown home arrangement. 

You would expect that at the end of that year, they… Read More »

Who is Lilith?

 

Question of the Week

I have heard that Adam had a first wife before Eve called Lilith. She refused to subordinate herself to him, and so she was replaced with Eve. I see no mention of this whole idea in the Torah, so is it true?

Answer

Yes it's true, but not quite as you say.

Authentic Jewish sources speak of a demonic spirit who preceded Eve as Adam's female companion. She was not a physical person, and so she can't be called his wife. But she is still around to this day. 

You see, before Adam had an actual relationship, he had the desire for a relationship. This desire begins as a physical urge, a selfish need for gratification. 

This base desire is personified by Lilith, Adam's imaginary first… Read More »

Why Two Days Yomtov?

 

Question of the Week

Why on earth do we still keep two days of Yomtov outside of Israel? I know the history: in ancient times people didn't have calendars on their phones, because the calendar was not set in advance, but rather month by month. When witnesses saw the new moon they reported it to the rabbis in the Temple, and the rabbis would declare that a new month had begun. It would take a couple of weeks for the message to reach outlying communities, so they could never be sure of the correct date to celebrate the festivals. So the Diaspora communities kept two days to be on the safe side. 

That made sense back then, but for heavens sake, we have calendars today! Why do we still keep two days in… Read More »

Post Yom Kippur Blues?

 

Question of the Week

I think I have the post Yom Kippur blues. Every year I get all inspired by the fast, and am sure that I will be more committed to Judaism in the year ahead. But somehow it dissipates pretty quick (like around the third mouthful after breaking the fast). I don't want to lose it again this year. Any suggestions?

Answer

I know just what you need. You need to be swaddled.

A newborn baby, moments after birth, is taken by a midwife and wrapped up in a swaddling cloth. This serves to keep the  newborn protected and warm. Having just emerged from the security and nurture of the womb, the baby is particularly vulnerable and sensitive. A good swaddling cloth gives him a sense of protection from the cold and… Read More »

I'm Only Going to Say This Once

 

Question of the Week

Why is there so much repetition in the Yom Kippur prayers? We say the silent Amidah prayer and then the Cantor repeats it out loud, and we do this five times. We recite the exact same confession of our sins over and over again - I think it's ten times! My mother used to say: "Listen carefully, I'm only going to say this once!" Can't we say the same and avoid all the repetition?

Answer

Yankel bumps into his friend Berel on a street corner. "Yankel! I lent you ten thousand dollars over a year ago. I still haven't seen a cent. When do you plan to pay me back?"

"I'm sorry Berel, but times are tough," answers Yankel. "I can't pay you back. Maybe… Read More »

The Time and Place to Take a Knee

 

THE TIME AND PLACE TO TAKE A KNEE

One of the highlights of the High Holiday prayers is when we bow down to the floor. It's the only time in the year that we do this. While we often bow our heads in prayer, only on the High Holidays do we fall to our knees, face down. If you walked into shul just at that moment, you would think everyone had left. But really they are all flat on the ground, bowing to G-d.

This was done regularly in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Divine presence was so palpable there, the holiness so overwhelming, a visitor to the Temple found themselves bowing to the floor almost involuntarily, overcome by the awesomeness of G-d. 

But since the destruction of the Temple, such revelations… Read More »

Feeling Down About Rosh Hashana?

 

Question of the Week

I am feeling really down about Rosh Hashana this year. I can't believe we will be in lockdown and not allowed to go to shul. I have never missed a High Holidays in my life. I just won't be the same at home. How can I do this with joy?

Answer

It is indeed a huge challenge we face. Our hearts are heavy with the thought that shuls will lay empty, devoid of the usual crowds flocking to pray together, silent of the sounds of communal singing, shofar blowing and children playing.

But there is a message of hope in all of this. I came across an incredible teaching from three hundred years ago, that can be read as a direct message to us today. It comes from the great soul doctor and healer… Read More »

Vaxxers and Anti-Vaxxers

 

Question of the Week

I have an issue with praying. 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 disappeared.

What if, just at that moment, your wife asked you, "Do you love me?"

What should you answer?

Read More »

Mummy, Did I Punch G-d?

 

Here is a question a mother asked on behalf of her daughter, followed by the daughter's reaction:

Question of the Week

My daughter was asking me about G-d. She asked me if she is punching G-d when she punches the air. And then she went on to ask if G-d is a car, or a tree, and is G-d everything. How would you answer her?

Answer

Some profound questions there. Don't underestimate a child's ability to grasp deep ideas. Just say it as it is. 

G-d is everything and everything is G-d. 

But G-d is also more than everything. He is not limited. He is infinite. 

This means that He can be opposites. 

He is everywhere, but not limited to any place. 

You can't see Him. And yet everything you… Read More »

Do You Dare Answer This?

 

Question of the Week

I read your response to a question about what happens to souls after they die. I think it's ridiculous that you claim to be able to answer such a question. Why should I believe that Rabbi Aron Moss knows about the afterlife and the reincarnation of souls?

Answer

I would answer you by simply rearranging the words of your question.

You asked:

"Why should I believe that Rabbi Aron Moss knows about the afterlife and the reincarnation of souls?"

My answer:

"You should know that Rabbi Aron Moss believes in the afterlife and the reincarnation of souls."

It is unfortunate that many people don't know the difference between belief and knowledge. 

Knowledge is the… Read More »

Life is an Arcade Game

 

Question of the Week

From Dan, six years old:

When someone dies, can their soul come back down in another body? Or does the soul just die?

Answer

Great question Dan! You have a very deep mind. 

You like playing arcade games, don't you? I'm sure you've been to Timezone. 

Imagine you were spending a couple of hours playing games there with some friends. You run from one game to another, swiping your games card and using up your credit. As you play, you earn more and more points. You can cash them in for prizes, but that comes later. 

Eventually your session comes to an end, and you have to go home. You might want to stay longer, but your parents tell you that it's time to leave. It's been… Read More »

Are Your Parents on Another Planet?

Question of the Week

I feel uncomfortable with the idea that G-d is always watching me. It seems stifling to think that I am under constant surveillance. I had enough helicopter parenting when I was a kid. Do I really need someone breathing down my neck all day as an adult?

Answer

I agree, the last thing we need is for G-d to be a helicopter parent. But I don't think that is what He is. 

There are three models of parenting: the helicopter, the space ship and the sailing boat.

A helicopter parent hovers around their child, correcting every mistake, shielding every threat, catching every fall. They don't allow their child to speak for themselves, take risks or get hurt. Though it all comes from love, they are… Read More »

Jerusalem is Not Alone

 

Question of the Week

One question I had is about the traditional words of consolation said to mourners:
"May G-d comfort you together with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."
What exactly is the consolation in those words? How does comparing the loss of a loved one to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans two thousand years ago make me feel any better?
 
Answer
 
 
There are several parallels between the fall of Jerusalem and the passing of a soul. By contemplating these similarities, the mourners can find a profound message of hope in the midst of sorrow.
 
Although the destruction of Jerusalem primarily affected those who actually lived there, nevertheless it was a… Read More »

Which Political Party is Correct?

 

Question of the Week

I am a staunch libertarian, and my wife is a big time socialist. We are happily married because we don't talk politics. But I do wonder, what is the Torah's viewpoint on political issues? Which political ideology would Judaism espouse?

Answer

It's refreshing to hear that you and your wife can disagree on politics and stay together. If only more people could put their differences aside and celebrate what unites them, the world would be in a much better place. You are a model for that better place.

There is a story of a group of Jews in the 1920's who were debating this very topic: which political philosophy aligns with the Torah? Each was able to quote the Torah as support for their preferred ideology.

One… Read More »

A Kabbalistic Kiddush

 

Question of the Week

I make Kiddush over wine every Friday night, but I would like to know a deeper meaning behind it. Is there some mystical ideas you can share that I can meditate on when I say the Kiddush?

Answer

It all goes back to the very first Friday of history. Adam and Eve were created on Friday afternoon, the time when all last minute things get done, like making humanity.

On that first day, they were told not to eat from the fruit of one tree, the Tree of Knowledge. The mystics teach that this fruit was a grape vine, a fruit that contains the potential for great good and great evil. Over a glass of wine friendships are made and lost, lives are enhanced and destroyed, hopes are created and dashed. It is the Tree… Read More »

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