Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

What Does 'Shkoyach' Mean?

Question of the Week: 

My conversion process has been a huge learning curve. One of the many challenges is getting my head around all the terminology. I can finally pronounce Chanukah correctly, and I now know the difference between Kiddush and Kaddish (was embarrassing when I didn't), but there is one word that still confuses me: Shkoyach (spelling?). I hear people shout "shkoyach" after the rabbi's sermon, after someone gets called to the Torah, and sometimes even when I pass the herring at the Shabbos table. What exactly does shkoyach mean and when is the right time to say it?


According to the Oxford Etymological Dictionary of Jewish Jargon[*], Shkoyach is a condensed version of the Hebrew phrase Yeyasher… Read More »

Will the Battle with Yishmael Ever End?

Question of the Week:

The terrorist massacre in Jerusalem has hit all of us hard. There are now 5 more widows, 24 more orphans. It just seems to reinforce the hopelessness of this conflict. Will it ever end? Is there any hope? How are we going to win this?


The Jewish nation stands together in mourning yet again. Those holy brothers, who returned to their souls to their Maker while in the midst of prayer, will join the long list of innocent martyrs throughout the ages whose lives were cruelly taken from them for no other reason than that they are Jews.

But there was another type of martyr in this attack, an Israeli policeman by the name of Zidan Saif. He heroically entered the synagogue after hearing that terrorist were on a… Read More »

Do Jews Say "Bless You"?

Question of the Week: 

I have a question for you ..... it's a little trivial but here goes anyway.... 

A non-Jewish colleague refuses to say 'Bless-you' after I sneeze. He says it's because I am Jewish. Where did the 'bless you' ritual originate from and is it purely a Christian thing?  What is the Jewish equivalent?


Your friend may have a point. The bless you response to a sneeze was enacted by one of the popes during the bubonic plague. So it definitely has non-Jewish undertones.

But long before that, Jews blessed each other upon sneezing. The Talmud records that in the earlier generations, people didn't get sick before they died. They simply sneezed and their souls left their bodies. So it was customary… Read More »

"Dad, Would You Sacrifice Me?"

Question of the Week:


I need some urgent help. My daughter asked me a question and I'm totally stumped. She learnt in school the biblical story of G-d asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar. Abraham was ready go through with it, but at the last minute G-d told him that it was just a test. So my daughter turns to me with her big blue eyes and asks, "Dad, if G-d told you to sacrifice me, would you do it?"



You are in a serious pickle. How you answer this could impact your daughter for the rest of her life.

If you say what you want to say, which is "Of course I would never sacrifice you!" then you will have undermined G-d's authority in your daughter's eyes. You are telling her… Read More »

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