I know we don’t listen to music during the Three Weeks and Sefirah, as well as mourners. What about a cappella? Some groups even use their voices to mimic instrumentation, and I can hardly tell I’m not listening to the...More
Animals - Euthanasia-
My cat is very sick with cancer, and our veterinarian asked me for permission to put him to sleep. Is it proper to do so to spare the animal pain? Isn’t it really up to God to decide when it is time for a creature to...More
Announcing a Pregnancy-
I just found out recently that I am expecting. As an only child, I am anxious to tell my parents of the upcoming good news. However, I know people often wait a few months first. Is there any such requirement in Jewish...More
Attending Child's Wedding-
My mother passed away about two months ago while on a more positive note, my son recently became engaged. Unless we delay the wedding inordinately long, it will fall out while I am still in mourning. Are there any...More
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 Ice Cream Cone-
I know the basic rules for the blessings on food, but I’m often stumped when dealing with mixtures. One of my kids wanted to know the blessing (bracha) on an ice cream cone. Does one make a blessing on the ice cream...More
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 Keys on Shabbat-
I’d like to know if there is any way I can carry my house key to the synagogue and back on Shabbat. The typical trick of hiding it under the mat just doesn’t feel so secure to me (we actually don’t have a mat anyway!)....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 outdoors using a walker or a cane, or is that an issue of carrying on Shabbat?
Challah – Breaking Bread on Shabbat-
Whenever I attend a Shabbat meal, the process of making the blessing (bracha) on the challah and cutting it seems detailed. Can you give me the rundown of how it’s done?
Charity – Small versus Large Sums-
I find myself inundated with requests for charity, both at my door and in my mailbox. To me, this creates a dilemma. On the one hand, I feel I shouldn’t turn down worthy causes. On the other, if I spread out my limited...More
China Dishes, Porcelain-
We inherited a beautiful set of china from my in-laws, who did not keep kosher. They haven’t been used for at least 20 years. I would like to give them to my married daughter. Is there a way they can be made kosher?
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
Evil Eye – Ayin Hara-
Is there such a thing as “evil eye” in Judaism? My family is lately having a serious spate of bad luck, and I’m wondering if there is some kind of jinx on the family and anything I can do about it.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
I am always bothered when I hear Jews using foul speech, or when they use such pejoratives as “nigger.” It led me to wonder: Does the Torah actually forbid such behavior? I can’t really think of what verse or heading...More
When Tisha B’Av comes, I will be in my eighth month of pregnancy. My pregnancy has been a bit risky, and my doctor is concerned that fasting will induce early labor for me. Should I still try to fast?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?
Is Turkey Kosher?-
I have heard that there are some Jews who do not consider turkey kosher. Can you tell me the reason for this? As far as I know, turkey with kosher certification is widely available.
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
Largest Jewish Funeral?-
I saw on the news that the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was attended by 850,000 people. What amazed me even more is that funeral was held just 4 hours after he died!
I was wondering – when was the last time that a...More
Milk and Meat on Same Table-
My high school no longer has a lunch program, so we all brown-bag our lunches. It occurred to me that though most of us eat pareve or dairy, some kids come in with meat sandwiches. At home we have separate tablecloths...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?
Musical Toys on Shabbat-
My two-year-old often gets ahold of his favorite musical toy on Shabbat and starts banging away at the keys. It certainly disturbs the serenity of Shabbat. Am I obligated to take it away from him? Am I even allowed to...More
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
Prayer for Taking Medicine-
I just began taking an antibiotic for a minor ailment. Is there anything religious I should be doing together with taking the medicine? It seems odd that we turn to doctors for our healing but not to God!
Significance of Dreams-
I have recently been having a disturbing dream involving someone close to me. The dream has repeated at least once. What does Judaism say about this sort of thing? Is there anything I can or should about it?
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 created in this world. Is there an...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
Stealing the Afikomen-
It seems to me a very odd custom that children steal the afikomen at the Passover Seder. [Note: The afikomen is the portion of the middle matzah on the Seder plate which is saved to be eaten at the end of the meal....More
Swimming for Exercise, Swimming Lessons-
I am recovering from a back injury I suffered last year. My physical therapist provided me with a swimming regimen to help strengthen the relevant muscles and increase my mobility. Can I keep up my exercises during the...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?
Tzitzit Maintenance – Checking the Strings-
I was recently disappointed to notice that one of the strings on my tallit became torn. I subsequently found out that since it was only one string, my tallit was still kosher. However, it was unnerving to discover this...More
Washing Clothes – Exceptional Circumstances-
My son just came on a one-day leave from the army with dirty laundry. He is basically out of clean clothes. Can I wash his clothes during the 9 Days? If so, can I hang them out as usual or should I dry them in the...More
Withholding / Delaying Notification of Death-
My father passed away about 3 weeks ago. We decided at the time not to notify his brother whose health is precarious and whose mental abilities are not 100%. On the other hand, as a result, my uncle never sat shiva...More
Yahrtzeit Candle – First Wife-
My husband and I married 6 years ago. My husband's first wife passed away from an illness 2 years before we married. Should he continue to lighting a yahrtzeit candle for his first wife even though he is remarried?More
Yahrtzeit – 2 Adars-
My mother passed away on 10 Adar of a year with only a single Adar. I see this year is a leap year with two Adars. On which one do I observe the yahrtzeit?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