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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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 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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