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Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

Recent Questions:

Easy Fast

Every year as Yom Kippur approaches, I get into an anxiety mode. I have a really hard time fasting without food or water for an entire day. I try to eat a huge meal right before the fast, but it only seems to make me thirsty, and by the next morning I am starving. By the afternoon I am either wiped out in bed, or clawing at the refrigerator door!

Do you have any advice for me?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Fasting for 25 hours on Yom Kippur is undeniably difficult. But there is one thing that can make everything easier:

Hydration.

Most people think the challenge of fasting is feeling "hungry." In truth, avoiding thirst is much more important. The average person can survive for a month without food - but only three days without water.

With proper hydration, not only do you avoid the discomfort of thirst, but you also swallow more frequently, so your stomach does not feel as empty.

A large part of successful fasting is in the mind. Talking about your hunger will only focus your attention on food and make things more difficult. The key here is to distract your mind from food. The more you immerse yourself in prayer, the less you'll think about food.

Fasting is easier if you prepare your body in advance. See this article for "Seven Simple Steps" to maximize your hydration on Yom Kippur - leaving you with more strength and energy to do the truly important spiritual work of the day.

For more details, read Aish.com's “Seven Steps to an Easy Fast.”

http://www.aish.com/h/hh/yk/Seven_Steps_to_an_Easy_Fast.html

Wishing you an easy fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur!

Temple Mount

I am not loving the fact that the view today from the Western Wall Camera includes the Dome of the Rock. How can I overcome the heartbreak every time I see our holy Temple Mount being occupied by another religion?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

On the one hand, it is very difficult for Jews to accept that something is built on the spot of the Holy Temple.

On the other hand, we can thank God for the kindness He has shown – since I imagine He could have allowed a much less flattering structure built on it – like a parking lot, or a sanctuary to an idol. In this case, the Muslims believe in one God and treat the Temple Mount with sanctity.

In fact, Maimonides explains that other monotheistic religions have flourished in order to help spread essential Jewish ideals, to better prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah.

What is highly objectionable is when political and religious leaders try to deny the indisputable history that two Jewish Temples existed on this site for hundreds of years – long before the founding of Islam. For example, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was quoted in the newspaper Kul Al-Arab (August 25, 2000) that: the Jews "claim that 2,000 years ago they had a Temple. I challenge the claim that this is so."

May the Almighty bring the redemption speedily in our days.

Relighting Extinguished Candles

Last night, the first night of Chanukah, my Chanukah candle decided to go out pretty quickly, for no obvious reason. I relit it, but should I have recited the blessings again?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

In truth, according to the letter of the law, you didn’t have to relight the candle at all. Once you light the candle initially – and the wick, oil and environment were all suited for it to last 30 minutes after nightfall – you have fulfilled your obligation. It’s preferred to relight the candle anyway to publicize the miracle further, but a new blessing is not necessary.

On Friday evening when we light early (before lighting the Shabbat candles), there are opinions that if a candle went out (when it is not yet Shabbat for you) you are obligated to relight it – since the initial lighting was before the time of the obligation. Even in such a case we do not recite the blessings again (since it’s a matter of debate), but you should be even more careful to relight any extinguished candles. (Sources: Shulchan Aruch O.C. 673:2, Mishna Berurah 26-27.)