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120 Year Lifespan - I was curious about the blessing we give people to live till 120 years. What is the origin of the expression? Is that just a nice, very high number, or is that considered the upper limit? I wouldn’t think so since... More
Abraham: Discovering God at Three - I had always heard that Abraham recognized God when he was three years old. Was that really the case? How much could a three-year-old possibly understand about the world? More
Adam’s Children’s Marriages - I was wondering who the children of Adam and Eve married. If they were the world’s first people, who could they marry other than each other – meaning that brothers married sisters? Is that what happened? More
Angel injuring Jacob’s Thigh - When the angel fought against Jacob, why specifically did he injure him in his thigh? Is there a special significance to it? More
Are We Obligated to Forgive? - I was hurt very deeply by another person. She either isn’t aware how hurtful her actions were or just doesn’t care. I’m wondering what I should do now, especially with Yom Kippur approaching. I know I am supposed to... More
Attending Wedding on Yahrtzeit - I am invited to a wedding in a few weeks and I realized it falls out on my father’s yahrtzeit (the anniversary of his date of death). Am I allowed to attend? More
Balaam’s Lack of Surprise at Donkey’s Speech - In Torah study group last week, we were discussing Balaam and his attempt to curse Israel. One thing which really struck us is how Balaam doesn’t even seem surprised when his donkey started talking to him! He just... More
Ba’al Teshuva, Convert – Which Customs to Follow? - My parents are Jewish but I grew up with almost no observance in my home. In fact, I would have to go back several generations to find religious ancestors. I began becoming religious as an adult and I have generally... More
Blessing After Washing for Bread - I noticed that whenever we wash our hands – both in the morning and before eating bread – we make the blessing “al netilat yadayim” after washing. But don’t we always make blessings before doing a mitzvah rather than... More
Convert – Mourning & Kaddish for Non-Jewish Parent - I am a convert but I still have a good relationship with my parents, who are very decent people and who were very supportive of my religious transformation. Unfortunately, my father is not doing well. In the event that... More
Cooking and Using Fire on Yom Tov - I recently read that you are allowed to use fire on Yom Tov, unlike Shabbat. Can you explain if this is the case and what it means? More
Covering Mirrors in House of Mourning - I recently visited the shiva house (house of mourning) for a coworker. One of the more striking things I noticed was that all mirrors were covered. It felt a little spooky. What is the reason for this? Is it because we... More
Eating a Limb from a Live Animal - I was recently discussing the Noahide Laws with a non-Jewish coworker. She was quite receptive to the notion of universal commandments, that God has mitzvot for all humanity and rewards them in kind. One of them,... More
Eating Shabbat Morning Before Prayers - In our community Shabbat morning services only begin at 9:00 and the lunchtime meal does not begin till well after 12:00. Can I eat before morning prayers if I make kiddush first? More
Eating While Traveling - After the Little League baseball game, my father and I stop in a store to order an ice cream, then go to the car and return home. Can I make a blessing on the ice cream in the store? Or is leaving the store considered... More
End of Slavery in Egypt - I’m trying to figure out the timeline of the Exodus. I know that our ancestors left Egypt on the first day of Passover, but at what point did the slavery end? Did it last until the very last day, after the plagues had... More
Food Cooked in a Dairy/Meat Pot - If a non-dairy food, such as pasta, was cooked in a dairy pot, can it be eaten together with meat? More
Have Her Convert? - I’ve been dating a young woman for the past two years and we are starting to think about marriage. The problem is that she is not Jewish. I would want her to convert, but in a way where there would be no doubt about... More
Hotel Room Coffee Machine - I am staying in a hotel for a few days and it has a Keurig coffee machine. Can I use it (with a kosher K-Cup pod) or is there a concern of it not being kosher? More
How Miraculous was the Splitting of the Sea? - I was just reading a lecture about the Exodus. It described how Nachshon son of Aminadav was the first to jump into the sea. When he got to the point that the water reached his nostrils, it miraculously split into two.... More
How to Make a Microwave Kosher - Our nanny heated up non-kosher soup in our microwave. Can we make it kosher again? More
Jacob Steals the Blessings - I have a coworker who can’t accept how Jacob could have stolen Esau’s blessings from his father Isaac. How could he have been so dishonest as to trick his father? And further, since the blessings were given under false... More
Jeremiah 31 and the New Covenant - How do you understand the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31? Doesn’t that supersede God’s original covenant with the Jews? In fact, Jeremiah earlier speaks of Israel having broken its covenant with God (11:10). It seems... More
Lag B’Omer on Sunday - I notice that Lag B’Omer falls out on Sunday this year. Is anything different on account of this? More
Mice and Uncleanness - I’m very uncomfortable. Our house is infested with mice and I know the Torah says that mice are unclean. Does this mean I shouldn’t be living in my house? Am I not allowed to eat food they come in contact with? And why... More
Moses’s Cushite Wife - Who was the Ethiopian (Cushite) wife that Moses took (Numbers 12:1)? Is she the same wife as Jethro’s daughter Zipporah whom Moses earlier married (Exodus 2:21), and later came back to him in the desert (Exodus 18)?... More
Prayer: Why Not Leave it up to God? - I’ve been told that it’s a good idea to add our personal requests to our prayers and not just recite the text of the daily prayers. However, whenever I try to do this I feel at a loss. All I want to say to God is that... More
Praying in English – God’s Name - I say the prayers in English because I’m too unfamiliar with Hebrew. Can I use the terms “God” and “Lord” for God’s name – as my prayer-book shows? Or are they not accurate translations More
Shabbat Candles in a Hotel - We will be staying at a hotel for Shabbat in a few weeks. How can my wife best fulfill the mitzvah of lighting candles? I didn’t ask the hotel yet, but it’s very possible they will not allow us to light candles. Are... More
Shabbat Without Gluten - I am celiac and am allergic to all foods containing gluten. Thus, I never eat bread. What should I do on Shabbat? Do I wash without eating bread? Can I say the grace after meals (birkat hamazon)? More
Significance of Hebrew Year - I know the Hebrew calendar year is counted from Rosh Hashanah, and the current year is 5778. But what is that measuring – the years since the world’s creation? More
Single Oven – Meat, Milk and Pareve - I only have one oven in my kitchen. How can I use it for meat, milk and pareve (non-meat and non-dairy)? More
The Book of Job and Satan’s Power - I recently began studying the Book of Job and several things strike me as strange right from the start. God praises Job before Satan, and Satan is unimpressed, claiming that he is only righteous because his life is so... More
The Cruel Death of the Scapegoat - In the Yom Kippur service with the two goats, it bothers me that one of the goats – the se’ir la’azazel – is taken out to be pushed off a cliff. The Mishna (Yoma 6:6) teaches that it was dashed to pieces before it made... More
Tzitzit – Size of Garment - I was always told that the size of the tallit katan (the small four-cornered garment worn under the shirt all day) should be 18”x18” on both the front and back. But recently I was told that the proper size is really... More
Unleavened Dough of Exodus - I have what I believe is a very simple question on the Torah. Exodus 12:33-34 states that the Egyptians rushed the Children of Israel out of Egypt, and that as a result they carried their dough out unleavened, bundled... More
Urim and Thummim - What exactly are the “Urim and Thummim” of Aaron’s breastplate? The Torah mentions it without any further explanation. More
Washing Before Touching Bread - I understand that we must wash our hands before eating bread because our hands are ritually unclean. Let’s say a person touches bread without eating it. Wouldn’t the same concern apply? This happens to me many mornings... More
Why Do Mourners Recite Kaddish? - We are saying Kaddish for my father this year unfortunately. I would like to understand the purpose of this prayer and why it is said specifically by mourners. More
Why Do We Shake the Lulav? - Why do we shake the lulav in different directions? What is the significance of it? More

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