Ask the Rabbi: Questions and Answers about The Soul
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Spiritual Growth

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
Foul Language - I am always bothered when I hear Jews using foul speech, or when they use such pejoratives as “nigger.” It led me to wonder: Does the Torah actually forbid such behavior? I can’t really think of what... More
Jacob, Esau & the Purpose of Life - I seem to have two voices pulling at me: One that says, “Be responsible; think long-term,” and the other that says, “Live it up now.” Each voice seems to have a good argument. What do you say? More
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Soul & Afterlife

Reincarnation - I was astonished by your explanation of suffering in little children as being due to their souls being "old" and having experienced past lives. I have always understood this notion as being a component of... More
Reincarnation and Dreams - I have been reading about the Jewish idea of reincarnation and this has raised a few questions: Does reincarnation explain why it is believed that we were all at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah? Secondly... More
Singularity Theory - Time Magazine recently ran an article on Singularity Theory, which was new to me and very fascinating, and scary at the same time, that human intelligence is about to be surpassed by machines. Are you... More
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Reward & Punishment

Egyptian Children Punished for Parents' Sins? - In the Book of Exodus, God indicates that He will slay all the Egyptian first-borns if Pharaoh will not allow the Israelites to leave. Why should the son suffer for the sins of the father? This... More
Life's Big Picture - My credo in life has always been: Work hard, plan, and struggle. Yet I find that things often just end up a big mess. The righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. How can the pieces of this puzzle... 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
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Suffering

Handicap: Why? - A woman in our neighborhood has spina bifada. It's so heart-breaking to see. And it has me wondering: Why do some people suffer and others seem to have it so easy? It is not evenly divided between "good"... More
Natural Disasters - I have watched the horror of hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes, plus hundreds of thousands of people wiped out in a tsunami. What is the spiritual reason behind all this? More
Suffering Through Others - You wrote that the hurt we suffer is atonement for the mistakes we make. This puzzles me. If someone hurt me, how can it be atonement for my mistakes? Not that I never make mistakes, but they are often... More
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Good & Evil

Absolute Truth - I'm struggling with the sense on one hand that I want to instill Jewish beliefs in my children, but on the other hand I feel that would be diminishing the value and equal importance of the beliefs of... More
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
Downfall of the Enemy - I married a negative person who has a very negative attitude. All these years whenever his meanness or negativity was pointed in my direction, I would scream and cry and pray to God to help me. Never in... More
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Free Will & Predestination

God's will - Why do many people say in response to certain situations, "It is God's will." How can any human say with certainty what is or isn't God's will? To know God's will, wouldn't one have to know God's mind? I... More
Hardening Pharaoh's Heart - After the sixth plague – boils – the Bible says that, "God hardened Pharaoh's heart" (Exodus 9:12). This seems grossly unfair! How can God warn Pharaoh to obey and then harden his heart so he can't... More
In the Image of God - Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith states: "I believe with perfect faith that God does not have a body. Physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing that resembles Him at all." What, then, is... More
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Teshuva (Repentance)

Court Punishments - I recently heard a rabbi speak about returning stolen funds. He said that rather than calling the police, the money could be returned anonymously. What is wrong with facing any criminal charges that you... More
Doing Teshuva - In my youth I did some horrible things - both unethical and illegal. Is it possible to make amends for having lived a sinful lifestyle? Sometimes I feel so low that I can't imagine how I'll ever get back... More
Getting Started - I am married to a non-Jew. I swing back and forth between "doing" the traditional things and then not doing anything at all. As a Jew, I have decided to focus on Judaism in my graduate program.... More
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