Ask the Rabbi: Questions and Answers about Jewish Nation
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Jewish Nation

Abraham – the First Jew - Why is Abraham considered the first Jew? More
All Jews Equal - I often get the feeling that Jewish groups are judgmental of one another, as if to say that one type of Jew is better than another. This causes division and dissension. How can we prevent this from snowballing any... More
Ashkenazi-Sefardi Pronunciation - I've noticed that Ashkenazi synagogues pronounce some words differently than Sefardi synagogues. What is the halachic status of these two variants? Do Ashkenazim who speak "Israeli" on a daily basis act consistently if... More
Basis of Jewish Belief - I am proud of my Jewish identity, but I don’t get this whole thing about Jewish tradition and observance. I enjoy Jewish music, and have a lot of Jewish friends. Isn’t that enough? More
Being Judgmental of Others - More than once I have come across Jews who I felt looked down upon me for not being as observant as they, and don’t respect me as a Jew. I got the impression I am not a good person in their eyes because I don’t keep... More
Centrality of the Land of Israel - What is so special about Israel? Why couldn't God make everything happen in America or some other country? If you say the answer is that "the history of the Jews happens there," then why couldn't it all have... More
Chosen People – Source of Anti-Semitism? - I’ve often heard the Jews referred to as the “Chosen People.” Isn’t that possibly the source of much of the anti-Semitism in the world? More
Chosen People Racist? - What’s behind the whole concept of the Jews as the Chosen People? Isn’t this idea racist? More
Definition of a Jew - I am Jewish, but the other day someone asked me: “What is a Jew?” I was a bit shocked that I could not articulate a proper answer. So... what is a Jew? More
Focus on Education - I keep reading statistics about Jewish achievement in business, science, etc. For such a small people, the percentage of Nobel Prize winners is staggering. The theory I’ve heard to explain this is the Jewish... More
Half-Shekel Equality - Before Purim, the rabbi put out a plate and told everyone to give a half-shekel (or its local equivalent). I understand this was done in the times of the Tempe to purchase public offerings. But what is its relevance... More
Human Greatness - I want to achieve greatness in my life, but it seems that I don’t have a lot of natural talent. I also don’t have much money and resources, and don’t come from a well-connected family. I wonder what... More
Inferior Class of Jews? - My wife and I were married by a rabbi who also performed our son's Bris. Our son is now six years old – and I believe he meets all the criteria for Pidyon Ha’Ben. When I contacted our rabbi regarding a... More
Jewish Census - "Members of the Tribe" - Immediately after giving the Ten Commandments, God tells the Jewish people to organize themselves by tribe and take a census. (That's why the fourth book of the Bible is called "Numbers.") Isn't living in tribes... More
Jewish Giving - I am doing some research on the giving habits of various religions and population groups. This information will be helpful in my giving the Kol Nidre Appeal for my synagogue this year. Unfortunately, the level of... More
Jewish Leadership - In biblical times, there always was a prophet of God who was guiding and advising Israel's kings. At the present time there is no such prophet. How does Israel's prime minister know he is doing the right thing,... More
Jewish Mission - I read on Aish.com that "Every Jew is equally important to our mission." Pardon my question, but exactly what is our mission? More
Jewish Power - I recently read The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by Walt and Mearsheimer, which makes the case that Israel and the Jews control the world – exerting a highly-disproportionate influence in the media,... More
Jewish Unity - In school I am delivering a speech and the topic I have chosen is "The importance of Israel to North American Jews today." I don't have any family in Israel and have no real connection to the country. As a result, when... More
One People - I live in Los Angeles and was horrified by the shootings a few years ago at our Jewish community center. I heard that after the shootings, law enforcement officials found a map in the shooter’s van. Apparently,... More
Opting Out of Judaism? - I have been told that somewhere in the Talmud it states that once you are Jewish you are always Jewish no matter what. I understand that God needed a special group of people to be His messengers, but why not have... More
People of The Book - I've always heard that the Jews are the "people of the book." Can you clarify for me exactly what that means? More
Pluralism - I get upset when I see different Jewish denominations at odds with each other. Why doesn’t everyone just accept everyone else? Or perhaps is there a way to know which of the denominations is the most correct? More
Race or Religion? - I will be giving a speech on the topic of "Jews: Race or Religion?" My mother always taught me that it is a race. I want to get expert advice, so would you consider Judaism as a race or a religion? And what... More
Religious Intolerance - I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that it is precisely because of the thinking expressed on Aish.com that we have terrorism in the world. The cause is religion. The cause is a belief in God. It is religious... More
Religious-Secular Strife - I am very disturbed at the growing divisions between the Orthodox and secular communities in Israel in particular, and in Judaism, in general. The Jewish people are so few in number that we cannot afford such sharp and... More
Responsible One for Another - I am involved in Jewish communal work and it really makes me crazy when I see one Jewish group disparaging another. Even worse, people will look at a situation of need and say, “Oh, that’s not my... More
Star of David - Why does the Jewish star have six points? The Encyclopedia of Judaica explained it is from King David's time, and that it was shaped like the hexagon. This answer did not sit well with me. Perhaps you have other... More
The Term "Jew" - Our nation was historically called Israelites or Hebrews. I am wondering why always you refer to the Israelite or the Hebrew Nation as "Jew" when only after the captivity of 722 BCE that the people of the... More
Three Pilgrimage Festivals - The Bible speaks about the entire Jewish nation going to Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals. Is that still practiced today? More
Why Convert? - I have a question about converts. After witnessing countless acts of anti-Semitism and persecution against the Jews, why would anybody want to be a part of that? While I can see where they'd be sympathetic toward Jews... More
Wonders of Jewish History - I am an avid student of history and it seems that the Jewish people have always held a special place in the world. They are always at the center of things – whether Israel or the media. I don’t mean just... More

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