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?
Blessing on Bananas-
I was taught that the blessing before eating a fruit is “borei p’ri ha’aitz.” Yet the blessing for bananas is what we say on vegetables, “borei p’ri ha’adamah” When I asked around, no one seemed clear on the reason....More
Blessing on Medicines-
I am currently taking a liquid medication which has a flavoring but does not exactly taste good. Do I recite a blessing over it?
Blessings on Thunder and Lightning-
Yesterday evening a powerful thunderstorm came out of nowhere. I found myself jolted to attention and literally cowering – covering my ears at every blast of thunder. I was curious if the Sages have anything to...More
Carrying: Using a Cane on Shabbat-
Unfortunately, my legs have been giving me a lot of trouble lately and I am unable to walk unaided. Is there any way I can walk out of doors using a walker or a cane, or is that an issue of carrying on Shabbat?
Completion of Kaddish-
My father passed away on June 14, which was 24 Sivan, but was not buried until the Sunday after, 27 Sivan. Until when should I recite the kaddish?
Covering the Stove (Blech)-
My brother observes Shabbat and he has a “blech” – a large flat plate used to cover the stovetop. All his hot Shabbat food is placed there, and sometimes returned there. Can you give me a quick rundown of why and how...More
Don’t Miss a Word-
I see many people in synagogue who bring their own Megillah scrolls for the reading. Is there any reason for that? I mean, shouldn’t they be quietly listening to the reader the entire time? Isn’t the reader’s scroll...More
Earliest Time for Morning Prayers (Shacharit)-
I’ve noticed that our synagogue has morning services (Shacharit) quite early during the workweek, after which most of the congregants hurry off to work. During the winter months it is still dark outside for most of the...More
I have been reading a lot lately about the possibility that the Jewish people as they have been known for the past 3,000 years will not be the same, because of so many Jews intermarrying and not identifying with...More
Exemptions from Fasting-
I tend to get bad headaches when I fast. Am I obligated to fast on the Fast of Esther? Likewise, I have a friend who is pregnant. What is her status?More
Food with Writing-
We recently bought cookies with writing etched into them. That got me thinking that perhaps one shouldn’t eat them on Shabbat, since writing and erasing are forbidden. I’m especially concerned because we were going to...More
I am proud of the fact that at my advanced age I am learning to recite the blessings over food for the first time. However, probably also due to my age, I occasionally forget to say the blessing until I am already in...More
Hinduism and Judaism-
My husband is Hindu and I am Jewish. I am trying to grow in my Judaism, but I need to be delicate so as not to do too much too fast or he may object. Do you know of any resource that identifies the things in common...More
Hungry During Seder-
I try my best to run a traditional and meaningful Seder every year, often with much of my extended family in attendance. One big difficulty I have is that most of the people (including myself) are too hungry to really...More
My wife is going to be away for Shabbat in a few weeks. Am I supposed to light in her absence? Is there any difference between a wife and husband lighting?
Kiddush Without Wine-
I am allergic to grapes. Is there an alternative way I can make Kiddush – perhaps on a different beverage?
Kiddush – Drinking the Wine-
I tend to get dizzy when I drink wine too quickly – though in general I tolerate wine very well. How much of the Kiddush cup do I need to drink? Is it sufficient to take just a few sips – or to drink it slowly...More
Kiddush – How Much Wine-
I own two very nice Kiddush cups – I believe both were wedding presents. One happens to be quite large and the other fairly small. Is there a minimum or maximum size a cup must be? Also, when I use the large one, I...More
I know that people exchange gifts and food baskets with each other on Purim. Are there specific requirements for this? Is this just a nice practice or does it have a basis in Jewish law?
Mitzvah to Live in Israel-
I'm trying to get clarity on whether it is considered a mitzvah to live in Israel. Should a believing Jew live in Israel, or are other countries equally compatible with a Jewish life?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?
Not Talking After Washing for Bread-
I know that after washing for bread one should not speak until after he has taken a bite of the bread. My difficulty is that on Shabbat when we’re waiting for everyone to wash, my ADHD kids (yes, they inherited it from...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, how do we...More
Rolling and Wrapping a Mezuzah-
What are the rules for rolling a Mezuzah parchment? Can the scroll be wrapped in Saran Wrap or plastic before putting it into a case? I'm especially concerned about protecting a Mezuzah which hangs outdoors.More
Searching for Chametz (Leaven) Early-
We will be leaving our home several days before Passover in order to spend the holiday with my in-laws. When should I check my home for chametz? Also, is there any checking I should do when I am at my in-laws the night...More
Second Class Converts?-
I am 28 years old, born in Italy to a Catholic family with Jewish origins on my father's side. I decided to become Jewish, and after a long process, I converted in Israel three years ago. To this day, those who know me...More
Separation between Fish and Meat-
I was recently invited for Shabbat dinner. It was a wonderful, uplifting experience. One thing I was unfamiliar with is that everyone was told to take a drink between the fish and the chicken. I am familiar with...More
Last week I had a business meeting with an Orthodox Jewish woman and she politely declined to shake my hand. What is the reason for this?
Son is Dating a Non-Jew-
We raised our children in a home that observed all the major Jewish holidays. I made our children aware of their culture and heritage. Our son was bar mitzvahed and attended Hebrew school for five years. His friends...More
Springtime Blessing – Flowering Fruit Trees-
I was recently at the springtime Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. I was astounded by the beauty of it all. It made me think I should praise God in some way for the beauty He has placed in the world. Is there...More
Staying up Shavuot Night-
I know that many people stay up the entire night of Shavuot, and my synagogue is arranging a schedule of classes throughout the night. To me it seems a bit crazy attempting to stay awake at so unproductive a time. Then...More
I often need to taste the food I’m preparing to see if it’s ready or seasoned properly. I’m usually not particularly hungry at the time, and I’m not eating to satisfy my hunger, just to see what the food tastes like....More
Tefillin on Top of Bandage-
I need to have a minor operation on my left arm next week. It will be bandaged for at least a week afterwards. This is the arm I place my Tefillin on. Am I allowed to place my Tefillin on top of the bandage?
My kids’ shoes are constantly getting untied or getting into knots. During the week I would just tie double knots (they actually wear sneakers with Velcro straps anyway during the week). Are there any issues with doing...More
What to Use for Besamim (Spices)?-
Whenever I go to a religious home for havdalah, I notice that they use whole cloves for the blessing on the spices (besamim). Is there some special significance to this, or can any spice be used?
Who is a Mamzer?-
My mother has, unfortunately, been through a number of marriages and other living-together arrangements. This has produced a hodge-podge of children from different fathers. I actually was conceived through an affair...More
Why Sell Chametz (Leaven)?-
I hear a lot of talk about selling one’s chametz to a non-Jew before Passover. Is this a necessary procedure? Aren’t we supposed to be searching for and disposing of our chametz before Passover? And if we do a proper...More
“Who Did Not Make Me a Woman”-
I was born the oldest daughter of a mostly secular Jewish family and became observant in my early adulthood. I love everything about Judaism and my new life. However, to this day I am bothered by the blessing men...More