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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
Adam’s Sin and the Decree of Death - The Torah states that on the day Adam would eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge he would surely die (Genesis 2:17). Yet although he was punished when he sinned, he didn’t die on that day, but lived hundreds of... More
Brushing Teeth on Minor Fast Day - Is one permitted to brush his teeth or use mouthwash on a minor fast day? More
Child Attending Parent’s Second Marriage - My parents are divorced and my father is remarrying in the near future. It will be a very small ceremony, and I was told that the children of the first marriage should not attend. Is that true? More
Covenant of Salt - I see the Torah occasionally refers to covenants of salt – such as the covenant of priesthood with Aaron’s descendants and of sovereignty with King David’s family. Why is salt mentioned? What is its significance? More
Cruelty of Capital Punishment - I have heard people claim that the death penalty of the Torah was barbaric, and man has progressed since that time, which is why it is no longer done. It doesn’t sound right to me that laws of the Torah should fall out... More
David and Bathsheba - I have been studying the Book of Samuel and I was really shocked when I read the story of David and Bathsheba (II Samuel 11). How could David, King of Israel, take another man's wife like that?! Wasn't he supposed to... More
Davidic Line Today - I’m wondering what happened to the House of David. After the end of the Kingdom of Judah was there any memory what happened to King David’s descendants? Is there any family today which can trace its lineage to David –... More
Early Bar Mitzvah - My son will be turning 13 God willing this winter in mid-December. Having spoken to several of our relatives, it will be much better for everyone if we would schedule his Bar Mitzvah for Thanksgiving weekend – about... More
Enosh, Calling God’s Name, and the Origins of Idolatry - I was studying the book of Genesis and came across the statement that in the time of Enosh, Adam’s grandson, mankind began calling in the name of God (4:26). Can you explain to me what that’s all about and if it has... More
Firstborn (Bechor) Privileges - I’ve been studying Deuteronomy with my children and was at a loss to explain why the firstborn receives a double portion of the inheritance (21:17). What is the basis for this? More
Hamentaschen and Haman’s Three-Cornered Hat - Is there a deeper meaning behind Haman’s 3-cornered hat? Why do we eat hamentaschen in memory of that of all things? 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
How to Pray Well - How does a person pray well? I understand the Hebrew of the prayers pretty well, but I can’t really get myself excited about saying them. Are there any good ideas for helping a person pray with emotion? I’m especially... More
Jacob’s Embalmment - How was Joseph allowed to embalm his father Jacob? Is that permitted according to Jewish law? More
Jephthah Sacrificing Daughter - My Bible class is studying the Book of Judges and we recently covered the story of Jephthah (Judges 11). Jephthah promises to God that if the Amonites would be delivered into his hands, then on his return home he would... More
Kohen Higher Status - My mother is Jewish and my father is not. I have been told that I am 100% Jewish, yet at the same time I may not marry a Kohen. It bothers me that I am penalized for something I have no control over. What is so special... More
Meat with Soy Milk and Non-Dairy Products - Now that I live on my own I have been using soy milk instead of dairy to avoid problems of milk and meat. Sometimes I deliberately mix them together. This got me thinking that perhaps there is something wrong with this... More
Missed Bar Mitzvah - I am an adult who unfortunately never had a Bar Mitzvah. I’ve been told that having one requires studying for a year and chanting in front of a congregation. But I’m embarrassed to say that this seems beyond me at the... 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
Mourning Adoptive Parent - How do the laws of kaddish and mourning apply to an adopted child? My father is unfortunately not doing well. To me he is a father in every way, but I do know that my sister and I are not their biological children.... More
Paying Babysitter for Shabbat Work - We’d like to hire a babysitter to watch our kids on a regular basis Shabbat morning, so we can go to synagogue. Is there a problem with arranging her to work on Shabbat and to pay her for it? More
Pedometer, Fitbit on Shabbat - My family has become very health-conscious lately and we all have our own Fitbits which we wear all the time. It has really helped us maintain our health. Is there any issue with wearing it on Shabbat? More
Pidyon HaBen – No Father, Non-Jewish Father - I have a firstborn four-year-old son who would seem to qualify for the mitzvah of pidyon haben. He unfortunately was not redeemed as a baby since neither I nor my non-Jewish ex-husband knew anything about the... More
Prayer at Graves of Righteous - I often receive emails from different organizations offering that a rabbi will pray for me at this or that great rabbi’s grave. Does it really make a difference where one prays? Isn't praying to a dead rabbi for... More
Rebellious Son (Ben Sorer U’Moreh) Punished for Future - In reading last week’s Torah portion, I was very disturbed by the section on the rebellious son (ben sorer u’moreh; Deuteronomy 21:8:21). The Torah basically says that a child is stoned to death for not listening to... More
Remarrying One’s Divorcee - I have been studying the Bible much more seriously in recent months to try to understand Moses’s words in their original context. Can you explain to me the basis for the law that one may not remarry his divorcee? More
Restrictions on Minor Fast Days - Besides eating and drinking, are there any additional restrictions on the minor holidays, such as bathing, shaving, or listening to music? More
Sacrifices versus Idolatry - I’ve never really been able to wrap my head around the concept of korbanot (sacrifices). To me it seems like such a primitive act, offering meat to God, a throwback to pagan practices. Where is the room for such a... More
Samson – Contact with Dead - I’m trying to understand something. Shimshon (Samson) was a nazir (Nazarite), which is why he didn’t cut his hair or drink wine. But isn’t one of the restrictions of a Nazarite not to come in contact with the dead... 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
Shoes of Deceased - We are in the process of disposing of the belonging of our late father, of blessed memory. I have heard that some people throw out the deceased’s shoes. Is there any basis for this? Is it a superstition? We were... More
Single Sink for Meat and Dairy Dishes - We have become more careful with kashrut in recent years and we now own two sets of dishes for meat and for dairy. However, our kitchen has only one sink (which our rabbi helped us make kosher). How can we go about... 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
Two Yuds for Name of God - I see that prayer books often show God’s name with two letter yud‘s together. Is that one of God’s names? And what is the basis for it? 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
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
Wearing Red Thread - On our recent trip to Israel we noticed at several sacred locations that there were ladies selling red threads, to be worn on one’s wrist. I believe it was claimed to ward off the “evil eye”. I tend to be skeptical of... More
Why is Sukkot Celebrated in the Fall? - I noticed that of all the major holidays, Sukkot does not really seem to correspond to the time of year we celebrate it. The Torah states that we should dwell in huts on Sukkot to commemorate the huts the Jewish people... More

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