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A Cappella - I know we don’t listen to music during the Three Weeks and Sefirah, as well as mourners. What about a cappella? Some groups even use their voices to mimic instrumentation, and I can hardly tell I’m not listening to the... More
Animals - Euthanasia - My cat is very sick with cancer, and our veterinarian asked me for permission to put him to sleep. Is it proper to do so to spare the animal pain? Isn’t it really up to God to decide when it is time for a creature to... More
Attending Child's Wedding - My mother passed away about two months ago while on a more positive note, my son recently became engaged. Unless we delay the wedding inordinately long, it will fall out while I am still in mourning. Are there any... More
Banging for Haman - I find going to the synagogue on Purim to hear the Megillah an unnerving experience to say the least. Why do the children have to set off explosives and make such a ruckus at various times during the reading? More
Blood Meal Fertilizer - Is it permissible to use blood meal fertilizer on crops? Does the prohibition against consuming blood include deriving benefit from it, or is it limited to consumption as food? More
Broken Fast - This morning I forgot that it was a fast day (17 Tammuz) and drank a glass of water. Is there any point continuing to fast, or can I just eat at this point? Also, is there any way to make up the fast now that I broke... More
Carobs on Tu B’Shvat - Why is it that many people eat carobs on Tu B'Shvat? Even though it’s a native fruit to Israel, it is not one of the seven species. (Note: the Holy Land is specially praised for its “seven species” – wheat, barley,... More
Changing One’s Name - We named our daughter (now four months) Linor. She is happy and healthy, but her name has always been a source of upset for me. I suffered from terrible post-partum depression, and her name always reminds me of that... More
Chanukah Gelt - Where does the custom of "Chanukah gelt" (of giving money to children) come from? My understanding is that the practice of giving presents is adapted from the non-Jewish holidays which occur in the same season. Is it... More
Cheating on Tests – Repentance - I cheated on a school test recently and I feel guilty about it. What should I do now? Should I confess to the teacher? More
China Dishes, Porcelain - We inherited a beautiful set of china from my in-laws, who did not keep kosher. They haven’t been used for at least 20 years. I would like to give them to my married daughter. Is there a way they can be made kosher? More
Cousin Marriages - Does the Torah permit cousin marriages? Is the topic discussed at all? I’m concerned in particular because the inbreeding is likely to cause genetic disorders, as historically happened to many royal families. I have... More
Do We Really Want the Messiah? - Many people are saying that with everything going on in the world, the Messiah’s arrival is imminent. Now I know this sounds strange, but I’m not really even sure I want the Messiah to come. I heard that once he... More
Early Seder - I want to have a shortened version of the Passover Seder for my elderly father who needs to eat earlier and go to sleep. Can I have a Seder for him before the holiday begins? Can he eat matzah at that time? More
Eishet Yefat To’ar – Woman Captured in War - I find Deuteronomy 21:10-14 to be quite shocking. How can the Torah permit soldiers raping and capturing women in battle and keeping them against their will? It seems so inconsistent with so much else the Torah teaches... 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 verse or heading... More
High-Risk Pregnancy - When Tisha B’Av comes, I will be in my eighth month of pregnancy. My pregnancy has been a bit risky, and my doctor is concerned that fasting will induce early labor for me. Should I still try to fast? More
Is the Torah Literal? - I am wondering how does one figure out what parts of the Bible are figurative, and what parts are actual events? From what I know, there are those who debate if such stories such as the world’s creation, Adam’s sin,... More
Israeli Fruit on Tu B’Shvat - I know on Tu B'Shvat we have the custom of eating various fruits, especially the seven species Israel is famous for. I specifically try to purchase fruit grown in Israel for the occasion. Is there any kashrut issue... More
Lechem Mishna - Double Loaves - Should one take two loaves (lechem mishna) before beginning a yom tov (festival) meal as is done on Shabbat? More
Marriage – Older Couple - I’m happy to write that I recently met the woman of my life. After the failed marriage of my younger years, I feel I have at last met my true soul mate! We look forward to marrying in due time. My question is that my... More
Meat After the Flood - Why was man permitted to eat meat after the Flood (Genesis 9:2-3)? Does the fact that at his creation man was not allowed to eat meat indicate that this is the ideal state of man? But if so, what changed after the... More
Men Pre-Wedding: Mikvah - I was told that a man must go to the mikvah before his wedding. What is the reason for this? More
Mezuzah – College Dorm - I’m moving into a college dorm very soon and would like to know if the room requires a mezuzah. I don’t know in advance who all my roommates will be, or if they will all be Jewish. More
Naming Baby After Relative Who Died Young - My uncle passed away from cancer at 59. A grandchild was just born in the family and the parents would very much like to name him after our dear uncle. He was a wonderful human being and we feel it is very appropriate... More
Passover – 14th or 15th? - Why is it that Passover is celebrated worldwide beginning on the night of the 15th of Nisan? The Torah states a number of times that the Passover celebration falls on the 14th day of the first month (e.g. Exodus 12:6,... More
Plague of Blood – Magician’s Imitation - The Torah states that after God turned the water to blood, the Egyptian magicians performed the same feat. But doesn’t the Torah state explicitly that all the water of the kingdom was turned to blood (Exodus 7:19)?... More
Prayer for Taking Medicine - I just began taking an antibiotic for a minor ailment. Is there anything religious I should be doing together with taking the medicine? It seems odd that we turn to doctors for our healing but not to God! More
Pregnant Woman Visiting Cemetery - I am currently 21 weeks pregnant (thank you Hashem!). My best friend's mother passed away recently, and the family will be having an unveiling sometime next month. I have heard there is a custom that pregnant women do... More
Purchasing Shoes, Inexpensive Clothes - My shoes are starting to fall apart. Is there any issue with buying them during the Three Weeks? More
Rating College Professors - For my college courses, we are asked to rate and comment on our professors at the end of each semester. Is it lashon hara (gossip) if I write truthful negative comments about my teachers (many of whom are Jewish)? More
Relighting Extinguished Candles - Last night, the first night of Chanukah, my Chanukah candle decided to go out pretty quickly, for no obvious reason. I relit it, but should I have recited the blessings again? More
Roasted Foods at Seder - I know we’re not supposed to eat roasted meat at the Seder. What about other foods such as chicken or potatoes? Also, is pot roast okay? More
Shehechiyanu Blessing on Major Purchase - I just bought a used car. Is there any sort of blessing or prayer I say for it? More
Shiva on Shabbat - We are unfortunately sitting shiva for our mother right now. I know that shiva is not observed on Shabbat, but I’m unclear precisely how one goes about observing Shabbat. Are there any differences from an ordinary... More
Significance of Dreams - I have recently been having a disturbing dream involving someone close to me. The dream has repeated at least once. What does Judaism say about this sort of thing? Is there anything I can or should about it? More
Swimming for Exercise, Swimming Lessons - I am recovering from a back injury I suffered last year. My physical therapist provided me with a swimming regimen to help strengthen the relevant muscles and increase my mobility. Can I keep up my exercises during the... More
The Plagues: Why the Staff? - Many times throughout the story of the Exodus God tells Moses to take along his staff and to use it to perform one of the miracles – such as to wave it at the water to make it part (Exodus 14:16) or to direct the... More
Washing Clothes – Exceptional Circumstances - My son just came on a one-day leave from the army with dirty laundry. He is basically out of clean clothes. Can I wash his clothes during the 9 Days? If so, can I hang them out as usual or should I dry them in the... More
“Let Us Make Man” - In the creation account in Genesis, God says, “Let us make man in our image” (1:26). Who is God speaking to? Doesn’t this verse imply that man had more than one Creator – that God created man with the help of someone... More

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