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Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

Recent Questions:

Bicycles on Shabbat

I am in a new city and last Shabbat I decided to go to synagogue for services. After looking one up and calling to get the address, I found that it was far from where I was staying. I have no car and depend solely on walking or riding my bike.

Well, I decided to try my bike anyway because it was far, and I thought that a flat tire could never happen... Yeah, right! I got stuck half-way there with a flat tire that I had no idea what to do in the middle of a town I did not know. When finally some people helped me fix it, it was too late for services... Next week I will try to go to services again, but this time with no bike.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Actually, bicycles should not be ridden on Shabbat. There are three reasons why:

1) Perhaps one will repair the bicycle, such as a flat tire, or the chain might fall off. There is a concern that the chain might fall off, or the tire might get flat, and one would come to repair the bike on Shabbat. This is would be considered "making the bike anew" on Shabbat, which is one of the creative activities we refrain from on Shabbat. ("Tzitz Eliezer" 7:30)

2) Because of "Uvdin D'Chol," i.e - a weekday activity. (Code of Jewish Law - OC 327, with Mishnah Berurah 7)

3) On a bicycle, it is common to travel a distance further than the "Techum," 2000 cubits outside the city. This is forbidden on Shabbat.

In order to guard against these possibilities, we don't ride bikes on Shabbat.

A child's tricycle, which does not have a chain or air-filled tires, and which is not ridden great distances, is permitted on Shabbat.

Morris Curello's Movie

I watched a TV movie called "The Rabbi," which was filmed in Israel. It portrays an Israeli man who converts to Christianity and attempts to convince his family that Jesus is the Jewish messiah.

Does this movie portray normative Judaism?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

It seems that you and thousands of others are victim of the deception of Morris Cerullo, a San Diego evangelist who made it his life mission to convert Jews to Christianity. Cerullo hired an advertising agency to place ads in some 80 Jewish newspapers – omitting any information that would link the one-hour "family drama" to its Christian missionary source.

Cerullo has a long history of such activities. In 1994, he allegedly obtained Israeli voter registration lists and mailed Hebrew copies of his missionary book, "Two Men From Eden," to some 500,000 homes throughout Israel. Then in 1996, he sent a mass mailing of an evangelistic booklet called "The Peace" to one million Israeli households. Cerullo also claims to have mailed 3.2 million copies of his book “Two Men from Eden” to almost every Jewish home in the United States.

To view documentation of Cerullo's 40-year crusade to missionize Jews, go to www.jewsforjudaism.org.

Jewish Values vs. Other Faiths

I am struggling with the sense that on one hand I want to instill Jewish beliefs in my children, but on the other hand I feel this would be diminishing the value of other faiths. I feel that love, harmony and happiness are the most important values, and that we need to be accepting of everyone's beliefs. People are different, so isn't truth relative for each individual?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

This is an important question, one that I think goes to the heart of today's society.

If you think about it, you'll realize that "truth" cannot simply be everything that everyone wants.

Consider the father of Protestantism, Martin Luther, who said, "The Jews are our misfortune," and fomented a hatred that later helped the Nazis generate anti-Semitism among the masses. Are you unwilling to diminish the value of this "father of a major religion" in the eyes of your children?

What about the jihadists who blow up planes, trains and buildings - all in the name of religion?

Hitler wrote in "Mein Kampf:" "I believe today that my conduct is in accordance of the will of the Almighty creator. In standing guard against the Jew, I am defending the handiwork of the Lord."

Do you agree with Hitler or not? Cannot you say unequivocally that he was wrong?

Reality is what is. You have to decide if you want to teach your children truth, or if you want to immobilize them with cushy phrases of political correctness.

This does not condone any disrespect toward other people. We teach that all human beings are inestimably valuable and deserve to be loved and respected. But we do not teach that all beliefs have equal value. We are firm in the perception of reality as defined by the Torah. It has served our people well over the generations, all the way back to the momentous event at Mount Sinai which changed the face of human history forever.

For more on this, read: www.aish.com/sp/ph/48959701.html