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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Recent Questions

Evolution – Who Cares?

There’s so much talk about whether God created the world or whether it evolved by chance. But I’m wondering: What difference does it make how this all came about anyhow?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The difference is simple yet profound: If world is accident, then we are, too. And if we’re an accident, then there's no purpose to our creation. Life is random, not meaningful.

If we are just a random collection of molecules, should we have any more respect for a human being than we do for a dog? Should we save a drowning dog or a drowning stranger? Is it acceptable to label a race of people sub-human and to enslave or kill them all? And what difference does it ultimately make anyhow?!

The Torah says that God blew into Adam a spiritual soul (Genesis 2:7). Man is not just a smart monkey. Man is a qualitatively different creation. This "spiritual consciousness" separates man from all other creatures, enabling us to sanctify life and get close to God.

Maimonides writes: "As long as you are occupied with the mathematical sciences and the technique of logic, you belong to those who walk around the palace in search of the gate. When you complete your study of the natural sciences and then get a grasp of the metaphysics, you enter into the inner courtyard and are in the same house as [God the King]."

It matters because the essence of life is that we have a higher purpose, more than just consuming hamburgers and fashion and iPods. Those things can be useful tools to get us where we want to go, but we have to know where to go!


Apology Guidelines

If a person has done something to wrong another person, and wants to make amends, I know he is supposed to apologize. But in this case the person he wronged doesn't know he has been wronged – and if he were to learn about it, would be deeply hurt. What should be done?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

If it will embarrass the person, one should not mention the reason for the apology. He should just apologize generally for any wrong he may have done to him. (source: Mishnah Berurah 606:30)


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


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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