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Recent Questions

Nine Days – Home Repairs

Is it permitted to have work done in the house by a contractor, such as a painter, if he's in the middle of a job in the 9 days?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

If it’s for urgent repairs, then it’s fine. If it’s for ordinary home improvements, then the work should not be started during the Nine Days. If the worker started beforehand, he may continue during the 9 Days, but it’s preferable to pay him a small amount to delay till after the fast (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 551:2, Mishna Berurah 12).


Gun Ownership

There’s a lot of talk about restricting gun ownership in the U.S. What does Judaism say about this?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Talmud speaks about owning a dangerous dog. It is generally discouraged due to the danger involved, both to the owner and to others. It is allowed, however, for protection if a person lived in a dangerous area.

Owning a gun is a comparable case, and would also be permitted for protection.

However, Jews have never been into violence, unless absolutely necessary. In his time, Moses had to cajole the people into fighting a war against their arch-enemy Amalek.


Golden Calf - Moses Stands Up

Why did the Jews worship the Golden Calf?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

After receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses ascends Mount Sinai and stays there for 40 days. Uncertain when Moses will return and fearful he has died, the Israelites feel lost and leaderless. They make an idol of a golden calf. Then they become drunk and have an orgy. (Exodus 24:15-18)

The music is just one part of a rock concert's appeal. The crowd is drunk or high; it's dark, and the noise is overwhelming. In that disorienting atmosphere of clamor and passion, we are briefly freed from our own fragile individuality and swept up in the power of the crowd. That sense of release is what the Israelites sought in their worship of the calf.

God tells Moses what the Israelites have done. Then God says, "Now don't try to stop Me, because I'm going to destroy the whole nation."

Moses responds, "Why should You be so angry at Your people, whom You took out of Egypt, with great power and a strong hand? Why should Egypt say, 'He took them out to kill them in the mountains and to annihilate them from the face of the earth?' Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel... to whom You swore, and You told them, 'I shall increase your offspring, like the stars of heaven, and this entire land of which I spoke, I shall give to your offspring and it shall be their heritage forever.'" God agrees not to destroy the people (Exodus 32:7-14).

Moses' argument has two parts:

1. If the Israelites don't reach the Promised Land, it will seem to demonstrate that God is weak or that His promises are unreliable. (Until the establishment of Israel in 1948, Christian theology viewed Jewish exile and suffering as evidence that God had repudiated the covenant with Abraham.)

2. Though the Israelites have made a serious mistake, it's an aberration and not reflective of who they truly are. Despite their lapse, they are still the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah. These are some of the greatest spiritual giants of world history. The good news is that you can cash in on that lineage.


Due to limited resources, the Ask the Rabbi service is intended for Jews of little background with nowhere else to turn. People with questions in Jewish law should consult their local rabbi. Note that this is not a homework service!

Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

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