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Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

Chicken Soup Jews

 

Question of the Week

I want to increase my Shabbos observance. I have resolved to light candles at the correct time, starting this week. One question I had. Why do we light specifically two candles?

Answer

A lot of people call themselves "culturally Jewish." They feel connected to the Jewish people, are active in the community, advocate for Israel, and may attend shul on major festivals. But they don't keep Jewish law.

For example, when it comes to Shabbos, they will argue that the laws are not important, it is all about family time. If you come to Shabbos dinner, whether you walk or drive doesn't make a difference. As long as you eat chicken soup, it doesn't matter if it was cooked before Shabbos came in or after.… Read More »

Is Euthanasia Dignified?

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 someone to feed them, wash them, even take them to the bathroom. 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 much of mainstream thinking today. To approach life and death the Jewish way, we need to make sure we have that perspective… Read More »

Is This Story About You?

Question of the Week

My non-Jewish friends and colleagues often ask me: What is Judaism?

They are not looking for a complicated thesis, just a simple response. How would you sum up a 4000 year old culture in a few words?

Answer

'Judaism' and 'simple' are not often found in the same sentence. But to attempt to answer this, we first need to define what Jews are, then we can define what Judaism is. 

The Jewish people can best be described as a spiritual family. We are connected by our souls, and every Jew is a part of this invisible web by virtue of our Jewishness. You can either be born into the family or join by choice. But once you are in, you are family, no matter what.

If Jews are a family, the Torah is the family rules. It… Read More »

You Don't Need a Health Crisis

Question of the Week

This is out of left field but maybe you can help. A religious Jewish guy works in the office next to me. I just bumped into him as he was walking out of the men's room, and I said hello. But he was talking to himself. He held up his finger to tell me to wait until he finished his "conversation" and then greeted me back. No one else was around, and he wasn't on the phone. At first I thought it was bizarre behavior but have come to learn that maybe there is something religious behind it. Is there?

Answer

You have just witnessed one of the most powerful religious moments in the universe. And it usually happens outside the men's room.

Your colleague was not talking to himself, he was talking to G-d. He… Read More »

Should We Say Thanks for Suffering?

 

Question of the Week

If you believe everything happens for a good reason, should you be thankful for any suffering or trauma you experience?

Answer

The Talmud has an interesting angle on that. 

The Mishna (Brachot 54a) teaches:

Just as we bless G-d for good things, so should we bless Him for bad things.

This seems to say that we should make no differentiation between good news and bad. Whether we just won the lottery or our house burnt down, we should bless G-d in exactly the same way. 

But the Gemara elaborates:

When we hear good news we say, "Blessed are You G-d, King of the Universe, Who is good and does good." 
When we hear bad news we say, "Blessed are You G-d, King of the… Read More »

Why Wave Hands at Candle Lighting?

 

Question of the Week  

When lighting Shabbos candles, why do we wave our hands three times inwards before making the blessing? I saw my mother and grandmother do it, but no one can explain it to me, other than saying we are bringing in the Shabbos energy???

Answer:

Resting takes a lot of work. Many people are great at achieving, but find it hard to stop achieving. They know how to do, but don't know how to just be. Shabbos is the day of rest, and to do it right you need to know what resting means.

Resting is not doing nothing. If it was, there would be no reason to feel rejuvenated after a rest. Not doing may not drain us, but why should it replenish us?

True rest is the ingathering of our soul energies. After… Read More »

Should Spouses Be Inseparable?

 

Question of the Week

Do a husband and wife need to be together 24/7? Is it ok to have a life outside of marriage? I sometimes feel guilty if I spend time alone or with friends, as if I should always include my spouse in everything I do. But then sometimes I feel smothered and need some space. That also makes me feel guilty. I am happily married but not sure what's right here. Any help you can offer?

Answer

Love is like a fire. It can generate a lot of light and a lot of warmth. But to keep any flame alive, it needs to be fed. If you don't keep throwing logs on the fire, it will fizzle out and there will be nothing left.

The logs that fuel love are time spent together, shared experiences, and emotional bonding.… Read More »

Can Israel Haters Celebrate Xmas?

 

Question of the Week

As a believing Christian, I made a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I was profoundly disturbed by the Jewish state and its criminal occupation of the West Bank. The international community has condemned this time and time again. How can you justify usurping land that belongs to others?

Answer

You are entitled to your opinion on the matter. But I hope you are consistent in your beliefs.

Being that you oppose a Jewish presence on the West Bank, I assume you will not be participating in any Xmas celebrations during the coming days. According to your view, there is no reason to be merry on December 25.

The Christian holidays celebrate an event that you have named a criminal act - the birth of a Jewish baby… Read More »

Should We Think About Death?

 

Question of the Week

The question I'd like to ask you has to do with preparing to die.  Many of my friends who are in their 70's are making arrangements for their Jewish burials so that the burden won't fall on their children.  Is this appropriate?  Or are we to simply leave our final requests in writing for our family when we are no longer in this world?  

Answer
 
You know the story of the charming husband who bought his wife a burial plot for her birthday. The next year he didn't buy her anything. When she asked why, he responded, "I bought you a gift last year and you didn't use it."
 
It's a horrible joke. But even bad jokes have some truth to them. The sages advised us to… Read More »

Is This Something to Worry About?

 

Question of the Week

I have been looking for work for the last six months. I got rejected from three positions that I really wanted, though I was certainly qualified and could have done well with any of them. The rejection is taking its toll, and the worry that I wont find a job is bringing me down, which makes it harder to find a job, which makes me more worried, and the cycle goes on. I know I need to stop worrying, but how do I do that?

Answer

I know a big worrier. Everyone told him that worrying doesn’t help anything. One day he realised that 90% of the things he worries about never even happen. His conclusion: Worrying does help.

And he is right. Worrying does help. But you don't have to be the one to do the… Read More »

Hey Siri, I'm Sorry!

 

Question of the Week

Should we say thank you to Siri? Same for Alexa, Google Assistant etc. After asking for directions, or the weather, or a conversion of pounds to kilos, should we say thank you for the answer we hear? What would the Torah say about showing gratitude to artificial intelligence?

Answer

Let’s first define the purpose of saying thank you. 

Some would suggest that it’s just good manners. We say thank you to be polite. Life is more civil when our interactions with others are sprinkled with expressions of etiquette and courteous pleasantries. It’s just nicer that way.

If this is the reason to say thank you, then we should thank our software too. By doing so, we create a sense of decorum and… Read More »

How to Fix Your Internet Addiction

 

Question of the Week

I need some help. I fell into some very bad habits on the internet. I knew it was wrong, but it became addictive. I am in therapy and doing much better now, but I wanted some spiritual guidance. I feel like I will always be contaminated by the inappropriate images that I subjected myself to. Can I ever get rid of the stain it has left on my soul?

Answer

I commend you for facing your problem, one more pervasive than most of us would care to admit. It sounds like you have made good progress with your therapy, and I hope you also avail yourself of the wonderful resources at www.GuardYourEyes.com

Alongside the work you are doing, there is an additional practice you can… Read More »

My Relationship Is Over

 

 

Question of the Week

My relationship is over. After three turbulent years, two canceled wedding dates, and at least five attempts to walk away from it, I knew I had to end it once and for all. But it’s eating me up. He is truly an amazing person, everything I ever wanted in a man. I left home and moved to the other side of the world for him, believing that we had a future together, dreaming of the family we would build together. But the bottom line is, he doesn’t know how to be in a relationship. It’s not his fault. He never had a family growing up. I finally had to say enough is enough, I can’t take the false promises and empty words any more. It’s been two weeks and I’m still… Read More »

Is Climate Activism a Jewish Issue?

Question of the Week


I am a climate activist trying to galvanise support for sustainable living from the Orthodox Jewish community. My question is, are there any no-go areas, red lines, or issues I should be careful to avoid when approaching religious Jews on the topic of sustainability? I want to be sensitive to people's beliefs while raising awareness about this vital cause.

Answer

The Torah observant community should be your easiest customers. Our tradition is clear about the responsibility we have to care for our world.

Every child attending a religious Jewish school knows that the Torah forbids us to waste any useful resources.

The kabbalists taught that every leaf on every tree has a soul, and must be treated with… Read More »

The Meanest Father in the World

Question of the Week

A question for you that I have been wrestling with. Much of the liturgy praises Hashem for kindness, compassion etc. In what way is Hashem kind? Looking around the world I can see a lot of evidence to the contrary.

Answer

It is a great question. How can we call Hashem kind when He seems so cruel?

My children say the same thing about me. My four-year-old calls me the meanest father in the world. He wants to exchange me for a new one. 

And he has several good reasons for disapproving of my fatherhood.

Often he asks me for lollies, and I say no. For every ten requests he makes for treats, maybe once do I let him have one. Yesterday he was begging and screaming and crying just for one… Read More »

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