Abraham Bowing - When the three angels came to Abraham posing as guests, he bowed before them. He did the same before the Hittites when he purchased a burial site for Sarah. Isn’t bowing a form of idolatry? More »
Are Jews Against Whistling? - I see a lot of Orthodox Jews object to whistling. Do you know any reason why? More »
Ascent to Jerusalem for the Three Festivals (Aliyah L’Regel) - When the Temple stood, all males had to appear before the Lord for the three festivals (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:23-24, Deuteronomy 16:16). At what age did they have to come – at 13? 30? Also, did they have to come from the... More »
Awaiting the Messiah - Is there any obligation to await the Messiah’s arrival or to do anything to bring him? Or is the Messiah’s arrival just a general concept – something we know will one day occur but not really relevant to our everyday... More »
Blessing on Chewing Gum - Do we recite a bracha on chewing gum, being that we never actually eat it? More »
Blessing on Niagara Falls - We’re planning a trip to Canada soon and we’ll be stopping at Niagara Falls. Is there a blessing to say on such an awesome sight? More »
Children Punished for Sins of Parents - How do we understand verses such as Exodus 20:5 (in the Ten Commandments) that God punishes not only sinners, but their descendants till four generations? How is it possibly fair to punish children for that which they... More »
Concubinage; Abraham’s Marriage to Hagar - There is one detail of the story of Abraham and Sarah which was never clear to me. Sarah was unable to conceive, and so Abraham took her handmaid Hagar instead (Genesis 16). How was it permissible to introduce a second... More »
Convert Covering Hair - I converted to Judaism in my late 60’s. I was never married since I’ve become Jewish but many years back I was married to (and divorced from) a Gentile. Am I obligated to cover my hair today? More »
Cup Used for Washing, Disposable Cups - I live in a location where it is impossible to buy Judaica, so I do a lot of improvising. What do I need to know about the cup used for washing my hands (both in the morning and before eating bread)? I haven’t been... More »
Guilt Over Past Sins - I committed some sins when I was young and not yet religious which were very serious, and carry the punishment of karet (excision). Although I fully regret my past actions, I am still haunted by my past sins. I heard... More »
How Can There be a Mitzvah to Believe in Hashem? - We have been studying the Ten Commandments in school, and something really struck me. The first commandment is to believe in God. This got me thinking. How can we be commanded to believe in God? If a person does... More »
Is the Oral Torah a Later Development? - My parents were both of the belief that only the Torah itself is sacred, and that the Talmud and the Oral Torah were developed much later. They were the attempt of self-appointed rabbis to interpret the Scripture, but... More »
Jewish Overachievers and Why God Chose Abraham - Why is it that the Jews contribute so greatly to the world in so many areas? They are on the forefront of almost every intellectual and social area – in medicine, science, the arts, entertainment, finance, etc. People... More »
Judaism and Snakes - I have always had the impression that snakes are inherently evil. I’m sure it’s an idea I picked up from the Genesis account of the Serpent tempting Adam and Eve to sin. Is there any accuracy to this? In fact, when I... More »
Medicine From Oyster Shell - I bought a prostrate relief dietary supplement and I see it contains calcium derived from oyster shell powder. Am I allowed to take it? More »
Mikvah Before Wedding – Older Couple - I am over 70 and am engaged to God-willing marry a woman of similar age. This is a third marriage for both of us. Is there an obligation for her to go the mikvah before the wedding? More »
Mikvah When Husband Away - The date I’m scheduled to go the mikvah my husband will be out of town. Do I have to wait until he returns first? More »
Mincha and Ma’ariv Together; Earliest time for Ma’ariv - Our synagogue says Mincha shortly before sunset and Ma’ariv almost immediately after. I’m wondering if there is any issue doing so. It is only beginning to get dark when Ma’ariv is said. What is the earliest time for... More »
Mourner Wearing New Clothes - I am in mourning for my mother this year. Am I allowed to buy new clothes if I have a need for them? More »
Not Seeing Each Other Before Wedding - How significant is the custom that the bride and groom not see each other seven days before their wedding? Does it apply to a second marriage? More »
Orphan Visiting Cemetery Before Wedding - Should my fiancé visit her grandfather’s grave in the week before her wedding? I have heard there is such a custom. More »
Overcoming the Temptation to Steal - I work in a small clothing store. Recently, I’ve become very tempted to steal a little of the merchandise (small items, ones without anti-theft tags). I know I could get away with it because there is no security camera... More »
Pidyon HaBen After Miscarriage - I am a firstborn son, but my mother had a miscarriage before me. My family wasn’t aware of the mitzvah of redeeming the firstborn when I grew up. Should I have it done today? More »
Reciting Tehillim on Shabbat - I’ve heard that we should not say Tehillim (Psalms) on Shabbat. Is there any issue with this? More »
Redemption of Firstborn Donkey - Why was the donkey the only non-kosher animal whose firstborn required redemption? More »
Same Pot for Meat and Fish - Is there an issue with using a meaty pot to cook fish? I know meat and fish should not be cooked or eaten together. More »
Separate Tablecloths for Meat and Milk - Is there such a thing as meat and milk tablecloths? Or can we just wash them in between use and switch from one to the other? More »
Shemittah and Flowers - Is there an issue with buying or picking flowers on the Shemittah year here in Israel? More »
Single Person Forgetting to Light - I am a single girl living alone. I usually visit my parents for Shabbos but sometimes I stay in my apartment. This past week I was at home and forgot to light Shabbat candles – since I’m not that used to doing so. I... More »
Tefillin on Chol HaMo'ed - Do we wear Tefillin on Chol HaMo’ed (the intermediate days of the major festivals)? More »
The Ceremony of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal - Why were the tribes divided onto Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal? What was the purpose of this ceremony? More »
Three Weeks – Background Music - According to the custom not to listen to music in the Three Weeks, are you allowed to watch a documentary which has some music in the background? More »
Travel Agent – Booking Shabbat Travel for Jews - I work in the travel industry and regularly book flights and reservations for customers. Many of them I’m sure are Jewish but not religious. If a Jew wants to book a flight on Shabbat, am I allowed to do it for him?... More »
Walking a Dog on Shabbat - We have a neighbor who isn’t well, so lately we’ve been walking his dog for him. Are we allowed to take her out on Shabbat as well? There is no eiruv where we live. More »
Was Rahab a Prostitute? - Was Rahab, the woman in Jericho who hid the spies Joshua sent to the land, a prostitute or an innkeeper? More »
Was Shavuot Originally an Agricultural Holiday? - I am somewhat perplexed about the holiday of Shavuot. The Torah describes it as an agricultural holiday, celebrating the harvest. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the giving of the Torah. Did Shavuot become... More »
Were Adam and Eve Jewish? - Would we consider Adam and Eve to have been Jewish? More »
Wool and Linen (Shatnez) in Separate Garments - Are you allowed to wear two separate clothes, one wool and the other linen, such as a linen shirt with a woolen sweater or pants? More »
Working on Chol HaMoed - Am I allowed to work on Chol HaMo’ed? Because of the High Holidays and Sukkot, I am almost entirely out of vacation time. More »

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. For genealogy questions try JewishGen.org. Note also that this is not a homework service!

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