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Recent Questions

Adultery - Jewish Perspective

What is so bad about adultery that it is prohibited in the 10 commandments?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

To paraphrase Dennis Prager, Judaism has a sexual ideal: marital sex. Judaism placed controls on sexual activity, demanding that it be channeled into marriage. This quite simply changed the world and made the creation of Western civilization possible. Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can largely be attributed to the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism, and later carried forward by Christianity.

This revolution began the arduous task of elevating the status of women. It is probably impossible for us, who live thousands of years after Judaism began this process, to perceive the extent to which undisciplined sex can dominate society. (Although we are perhaps seeing the ill effects of unrestrained sexualization in some aspects of Western society today.)

The bedrock of Western civilization, and of Jewish life, has been the centrality and purity of family life. Children need the stability to grow and develop in a family unit with a mother and father, each giving their appropriate influences. Adultery attacks the family unit at its core. Once adultery enters into the marriage, the chances of divorce increase, and at the very least the closeness and unity of the couple - and subsequently the entire family - breaks down. At stake is our civilization.

On a deeper level, if one has formed a solid relationship with his spouse, this will help develop his fidelity to God as well. The converse is also true: One who is disloyal to his spouse will most likely be disloyal to God.

The Midrash says this idea is alluded to by the placement of different commandments on the two tablets. The seventh commandment, the prohibition against adultery, appears opposite the second commandment, "Do not have other gods before me." This positioning is not accidental, but rather hints that loyalty to spouse and loyalty to God go hand-in-hand.

Adultery is much worse than just cheating on one's partner. It corrupts the entire basis of how we act in this world - and that demands strong counter-measures.


Jewish Mission

I read on Aish.com that "Every Jew is equally important to our mission." Pardon my question, but exactly what is our mission?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

No need to apologize. The only bad question is one that remains unasked.

Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt”l wrote an article for Israel's 50th anniversary, which was published in Azure magazine (www.azure.org.il). There he writes:

"Tikkun Olam" is the basis of what drives the Jewish people to greatness. It all started back with Abraham. His business was to go out and teach what it means to be "created in the image of God." He demonstrated how a human being has to take responsibility for the world. Abraham's undertaking was the first progressive, liberal movement the world had ever seen. And look how it succeeded!

Tikkun Olam is the Jewish legacy. In looking back at the first 3,000 years of Jewish history, we don't recall the names of any great entertainers or athletes or corporate executives. We recall the great teachers of the Jewish message: Moses, King David, Maimonides, the Vilna Gaon. That is the essential Jewish legacy. The message was engrained in our souls at Mount Sinai and it is the single defining characteristic of our people.

Torah methodology is universal – for Jews and non-Jews, religious and secular, Israel and the diaspora, left and right. The Torah is alive and relevant for today. And for the Jewish people, the ability to effectively communicate this message is our single most important undertaking.

I hope this helps answer your question. Though this raises a whole new question: What are you going to do about it?!


Marijuana

I have always smoked marijuana. I find it to be less harmful then alcohol. I want to know if there is any Jewish law against doing this. I feel the civil laws against this are ridiculous. I know three cancer patients that would have died as much as ten years ago, but smoking pot allowed them to eat and stay strong all through their fight with the cancer.

Also my brother just walked in. He says there is a bracha for hemp. Is there?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Marijuana is forbidden for many reasons:

1) It harms the mind and body. This is a violation of "Ushmartem Et Nafshotaichem" – the Torah commandment to guard one's health (Deut. 4:15). There are medical studies relating to marijuana smoking to infertility and/or birth defects. Even if marijuana does not harm the bodies of certain individuals, it certainly impairs them mentally and leads to faulty understanding, and laziness in Torah and mitzvahs.

2) Smoking marijuana creates a great craving to eat food, even when one isn't hungry. This may lead one to gluttony, which the Torah warns against in the case of the rebellious child. (Deut. 21:18)

3) Smoking marijuana creates other cravings and relaxes one's moral guard, which breaks the commandment of "Don't go after your hearts and eyes," the injunction to keep our physical drives in check.

4) Depending on the situation, one who smokes marijuana may be breaking the commandment to honor your parents. (Exodus 20:12 and Deut. 5:16)

5) Smoking marijuana is in violation of the commandment "Be holy," according to the interpretation of Nachmanides. (Leviticus 19:1)

6) One final issue is that Jewish law enjoins us to obey the laws of the country in which we find ourselves. That is an additional reason why – at least in America – that smoking marijuana would go against the Torah.

(see Rabbi Moshe Feinstein – Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:35)


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!

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