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Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

Recent Questions:

Aish's Educational Philosophy

I’ve been reading Aish.com for years. But the other day someone asked me to describe the principles behind Aish. I must confess that I didn’t know. So what’s the answer?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Aish HaTorah is guided by these core principles and values:

1) Judaism is not all or nothing; it is a journey where every step counts, to be pursued according to one's own pace and interest.

2) Aish HaTorah defines success as inspiring a commitment to grow Jewishly.

3) Every Jew is worthy of profound respect, no matter their level of observance, knowledge or affiliation. We never know who is a better Jew.

4) Every human being is created "In the image of God," and therefore has infinite potential.

5) Mitzvot (commandments) are not rituals, but opportunities for personal growth, to be studied and understood.

6) Torah is wisdom for living, teaching us how to maximize our potential and pleasure in life.

7) Our beliefs need to be built upon a rational foundation, not a leap of faith.

8) Each Jew is responsible one for another, and each is empowered to face the spiritual and physical challenges facing the Jewish people.

9) The Torah's ideas have civilized the world. The Jewish people's history and destiny is to serve as a light unto the nations.

10) The Jewish people are bound together. Our power lies within our unity. Unified, no goal is beyond our reach; splintered, almost no goal is attainable.

Aish HaTorah stands for Jewish education for all Jews everywhere. Our goal is to re-ignite Jewish pride by teaching Jews about their heritage and its contribution to humanity. We were founded to combat assimilation, alienation and indifference among Jews.

The Aish mission is to create a renaissance within the Jewish people, by tying every Jew to a pride in his heritage, to a confidence in our future, and to an appreciation of how precious his involvement with the Jewish people can be for himself, his children, grandchildren, and all humanity.

I would like to offer one example of how we are working to achieve our goal. The Discovery Seminar has to date been seen by 100,000 people on five continents – on college campuses, Reform synagogues, and JCC's. Follow-up surveys indicate that of Discovery attendees who previously would have considered intermarriage, 90% now say they will only date Jews. The implications of such numbers are exciting and give us hope for a Jewish renaissance.

Location of Prophecy

You wrote previously that Israel is the only land conducive to prophecy, the highest level of communion with God. All the prophets either received prophecies in Israel, or prophecies that related to the Land of Israel.

Yet the prophet Ezekiel lived in Babylon and prophesied there. Isn't that a contradiction?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Actually, before the Jewish people settled in Israel, prophecy existed everywhere if the person deserved it. Hence Abraham, Moses, Aaron, etc. all prophesied before ever having entered Israel.

Once the Jewish people officially entered Israel, prophecy could only be achieved in Israel. In the case of Ezekiel (Yechezkel), since he prophesied initially in Israel, he was able to continue to have prophecies outside as well. (source: Rashi – Ezekiel 1:3)

Gambling

Is gambling in a casino permitted?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Judaism generally looks disparagingly on gambling. The Talmud says that someone who earns their salary from gambling is invalid to serve as a witness in a Jewish court. Since the person who lost the bet doesn't really pay with a full heart, the winner's earning are considered a form of theft.

According to another opinion in the Talmud, only a professional gambler -- who has no other source of income -- is invalid as a witness. This is because he is not involved in productive activity and contributes nothing to the betterment of society.

Some rabbinical sources allow buying lottery tickets, if the money is for mitzvah purposes, and it is as such not a matter of "losing money" (as with gambling) when the winner is declared. Thus the meager amount given in the beginning to buy the ticket, is given with a full heart for the mitzvah.

(sources: Talmud - Rosh Hashana 22a; Code of Jewish Law - C.M. 92:3, 370:1)

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