Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

What Does Pe-Pe-Pe Mean?

Question of the Week:


I am hoping you can explain something about my grandmother. Every time she would give me a compliment she would add "pe pe pe." (Nice haircut pe pe pe/I like your dress pe pe pe/Well done on your test pe pe pe)  I was too young to ask her what that meant and no one in my family has the faintest idea what she was doing. Do you?




Yes, I know exactly what she was doing. She was spitting in your face. In a nice way. She meant it with love. Her pe pe pe was saving you from the Evil Eye.

There is a belief that when someone's virtues are highlighted, there is a risk of harm from the forces of evil. Heaping praise or speaking too much good about you could invite the Evil Eye,… Read More »

This was the worst Rosh Hashana of my life

Question of the Week:


This was my worst Rosh Hashana ever. I come to shul to pray for a good year, and I take it very seriously. I truly believe that if Rosh Hashona goes well, the year will go well too. But someone ruined it for me this year.


Everything was going fine, the chazan was singing beautifully, your sermons were right on the mark, but the seat I was given spoiled everything. The person sitting next to me didn't give me a moment of peace. He couldn't sit still. He was fidgeting and moving around all the time. He had to go out every five minutes and each time I had to stand up to let him pass by. His kids kept coming up to him and asking for snacks and making a mess. He had the sniffles and was blowing his nose lo… Read More »

You Are Good. You Are Very Good.

Question of the Week:


We have this silly debate every year. Do we eat apples dipped in honey only on the first night of Rosh Hashana, or also on the second? I think it is just the first but I can't remember why...




You can eat apples and honey any time you like. But the custom is to eat them on the first night of Rosh Hashana only. Perhaps we can suggest a deep reason why.

Rosh Hashana is the day Adam and Eve, the first humans, were created. So what was G-d doing the night before? He was about to introduce into the world a dramatic and unprecedented phenomenon - free beings who will be able to determine their own destiny and impact the direction of the world. The long and turbulent relationship between … Read More »

Why Do We Wash Hands After a Funeral?




What is the reason for washing hands after leaving a cemetery? And is it correct that you are not supposed to dry the hands on a towel, but just let them dry on their own? If so, why?




Death is one of those topics we usually prefer to avoid. It is not pleasant to be reminded of our mortality and of those whom we have lost. And yet, it is a part of life that we cannot avoid. A healthy attitude towards death can in fact be life-enhancing. The washing and non-drying of the hands helps to illustrate this.

There are several reasons given for washing and not drying the hands after a funeral or visiting a cemetery.

1. A corpse is ritually impure, and anyone who's been close to a dead body … Read More »

Can a Departed Soul Live Again?


When I first saw the rolling hills and green pastures of Jamberoo, I felt an instant connection. My wife and I were looking for a venue for a weekend retreat, and we knew Jamberoo was it the minute we arrived. This Shabbos for the third year running we are holding our Shabbaton retreat in Jamberoo.

I decided to do a little bit of research on the history of the area. Something caught my eye in the Wikipedia entry on Jamberoo. It has a list of famous Jamberoo personalities. On the

Solomon Herbet Hyam

list was a… Read More »

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