Ask the Rabbi: Questions and Answers about Five Books of Moses
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Creation

Creation & The Big Bang - I have trouble reconciling my reading of Genesis with current scientific theory. When I read the beginning of creation, is seems clear that God created the world complete, as well as the rest of the... More
Evolution and the Bible - Darwin seems to be well-accepted scientific fact. But given the Creation account in the Bible, is it reasonable to assume that Moses missed evolution? More
God's Time - The older I get, the more I realize the truth of the Jewish teaching that God is intimately involved in the world, moment by moment. That sounds like it keeps Him pretty busy. Yet what was God doing... More
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Adam & Eve

Choosing Good Over Evil - For a long time it has bothered me what the Torah means by: "God created man in His image" (Genesis 1:27). Given that human beings are finite and corporal, how are we created in God's image? More
Fingernails - I know that Judaism has something to say about every aspect of existence and our lives. But I never imagined there was something to know about fingernails, until my friend said there is a specific order... More
Intentional Mistakes - I've been enjoying the philosophy articles on Aish.com. The approach to life resonates with me much more than the Western style of consumerism and media hype. Regarding the obligatory nature of mitzvot,... More
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Noah & Flood

Noah's Ark - There are obviously many ways by which God could have saved Noah. Why did Noah have to bother building an ark? And why did it take him 120 years? More
Noah: Fixing Mistakes - If the generation of Noah was so corrupt, then why didn’t God just punish the people outright? Why the whole story of Noah building an ark? More

Abraham

Abraham & Independence - I notice that the first “command” given to the first Jew, Abraham, is to "Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you." (Genesis... More
Abraham – the First Jew - Why is Abraham considered the first Jew? More
Avraham Serving the Angels - In Genesis 18:8, three angels appear to Abraham. It says that Abraham served them milk and a calf. I realize that the laws of kashrut prohibiting mixtures of milk and meat were not given until 500 years... More
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Book of Genesis – Other

Cain and Abel: Anger At Others - The story of Cain and Abel always intrigued me. But I never understood what they were fighting about. The text doesn’t really say. Can you shed some light for me? More
Isaac & Finding the Perfect Partner - I’m 30 years old and finding that most of my friends who have gotten married are soon after divorced. I would like to get married but am afraid of marrying the wrong person. Any guidelines to suggest? More
Jacob - Disciplining With Love - I have three kids and when they misbehave I want to discipline them. But sometimes I feel like that would be harming their self-esteem. What does the Torah say about disciplining with love? More
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Moses

As Great as Moses - All my friends seem to be talented and smart. I'm just kind of average. I try really hard, but can't seem to ever reach a level of excellence. It's getting me worried about my future. What should I do? More
Great Teshuva - My friend and I are having a disagreement about degrees of righteousness in God's eyes. Who is greater: One who is virtuous by inclination, or one who is virtuous by choice - i.e. one who must struggle... More
Moses: No Entry into Israel - Deuteronomy 3:23 speaks about Moses imploring, begging and pleading with God to allow him to enter the Land of Israel. But God says “no.” Why can't Moses go with the people into the Land of Israel? More
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Ten Plagues & Exodus

Exodus - Blood on the Doorpost - The Torah describes (Exodus 12:6-7) how each Hebrew family designates a lamb, and sets it aside. On the evening of the Israelites' deliverance from slavery in Egypt, they slaughter the lamb, roast and eat... More
Four Cups: Verses - We are constantly made aware of the importance of the four cups of wine and the obligation to drink them at the Seder. Yet no mention is made in the Torah of the four cups, nor do we recite the verses... More
Go For It - I'm turning 40 this year. I feel like life is passing me by. When opportunities present themselves, I hesitate, and then it's too late. I don't want to be looking back 10 years from now and feeling regret... More
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Sinai

Down-to-Earth Spirituality - I am perplexed about a certain juxtaposition in the Torah. Parshas Yisro describes the dramatic revelation of God to the Jewish People at Mount Sinai. And then the next parsha, Mishpatim, lists mundane... More
Golden Calf - If the Jews had just witnessed God's awesome power in the 10 Plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, and the revelation at Mount Sinai, how could these same people turn around and worship a Golden Calf?! More
Moses' Horns - I am taking an art appreciation class and we recently studied Michelangelo's statue of Moses, which is adorned with horns. This has anti-Semitic overtones and I am wondering where this idea got started? More

Tabernacle

Half-Shekel Equality - Before Purim, the rabbi put out a plate and told everyone to give a half-shekel (or its local equivalent). I understand this was done in the times of the Tempe to purchase public offerings. But what is... More
Number of Branches on Menorah - I'm confused. My Chanukah menorah has 9 branches, but the Menorah in our synagogue has 7. Why the difference? More

Book of Exodus – Other

Golden Calf - Moses Stands Up - Why did the Jews worship the Golden Calf? More
Shofar Blasts in Month of Elul - I recently heard a lecture where the speaker, discussing recent events in Israel and the Middle East, mentioned in passing that these events are befitting the Jewish month of Elul. Although many listeners... More
The Complaint Syndrome - I have a problem with complaining. I always seem to be “looking sideways,” checking out what other people have and wondering why I can’t have it, too. This distracts me from moving ahead with my own... More
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Book of Leviticus

Slander & Skin Disease - The Bible (Leviticus ch. 13-14) speaks of a disease called tzara'as which is translated as "leprosy." What causes this exactly? More
Sons of Aaron - Do it "My Way" - Why are there so many rules in Judaism? Can’t I just “do it my way?” More

Offerings

Animal Offerings Today - I was reading the Book of Leviticus and this got me wondering: Why don't Jews bring animal offerings today? I know there is no Holy Temple in Jerusalem, but does that prevent any offerings from being... More
Atonement Today - I am a bit shocked by the Bible's emphasis on animal offerings. It seems quite violent and inhumane. Is that really what Judaism teaches? More
Temple Service - Two Little Goats - I’ve always been puzzled: What is the significance of the casting lots on two identical goats during the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple? More

Book of Numbers

Jewish Census - "Members of the Tribe" - Immediately after giving the Ten Commandments, God tells the Jewish people to organize themselves by tribe and take a census. (That's why the fourth book of the Bible is called "Numbers.") Isn't living... More
Red Heifer - I was reading the Book of Numbers, chapter 19, which describes the Red Heifer. The whole thing seems quite mysterious. Can you explain? More
The Nazirite Vow - The Torah (Numbers 6) talks about the nazir. A man who fears that his appetites dominate his judgment vows not to cut his hair and not to drink wine. Then at the end of thirty days, he shaves his hair off... More
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Book of Deuteronomy

Ruth's Conversion as Moabite? - I have a question about the Book of Ruth. As a Moabite, why was Ruth allowed to convert to Judaism, given the biblical injunction against accepting converts from the Moabite nation? More
Waging War Against Canaan - In 2009, when Israel went into Gaza and killed a lot of people, I was discussing religion with one of my friends, and he said that in the Torah, God told us to go out and murder people that we don't like.... More

Chumash - Misc.

Completing a Book of the Torah - I am a lay leader at my temple. Since our rabbi is away, I will be leading this week’s Shabbat service. I have beginner-intermediate skills for chanting Torah. Your pasha page was very helpful.... More
Double Torah Portion - I enjoy attending synagogue every Shabbat morning. When it comes to the weekly Torah reading, sometimes we read two parshas. Why is that? More
Mismatched Torah Portions - I flew to Israel last week and on Shabbat they read a different Torah portion than the one they were reading at my synagogue back home. What gives? More
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