Weekly Email by Rabbi Moss

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

Is Volunteering Considered Charity?


Question of the Week: 


I know we are meant to give one tenth of our income (after tax) to charity. What if I volunteer my time for a charity? Can I deduct that from my ten percent?




There are two distinct types of kind acts - Tzedakah and Chessed. The first really means justice, doing that which is only just and fair. The second means kindness, doing more than is fair, acting out of the goodness of your heart.


One tenth of your income is not really yours. It was entrusted to you temporarily, so you can have the privilege of helping the needy. So it is only fair that you pass it on to its rightful owner. This is tzedakah.


But beyond the obligation to give tzedakah, we must do… Read More »

I Hate My Birthday


Question of the Week:


I know it's a good thing to celebrate your birthday according to the Hebrew calendar. But I don't. I was born on Tisha B'av. It's a bit hard to have a party on the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. And to be honest I have always felt strange about it. It's like, Tisha B'av is the day the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia, and my mother gave birth to me.... What does it say about me that I was born on a day of national mourning?




That's just about the best … Read More »

What Are Angels?


Question of the Week:


Why does G-d need angels? Can't He do things himself? And can we pray to them?




I'll answer you with a metaphor. The metaphor is a metaphor about a metaphor. 


A preschool teacher wants to teach her little students the shape of planet earth. So she tells them, "The earth is spherical." They don't know what she is talking about. So she says, "The earth is round." They return blank stares. So she takes out a bouncy ball from the toy box and says, "The earth is a big ball." Now they get it. 


You can't communicate an abstract concept to young students using abstract terms. You need to express the idea in terms that the… Read More »

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