Untimely Death

From: Jennifer Dear Rabbi, Someone I know recently died in a way that some described as “before her time”. I’m puzzled by this. Since life and death are in G‑d’s hands, is there such a thing in Judaism as “dying before one’s time”? If so, how can this be? What would happen to the soul[…]

Step-Relations

Step-Relations From: Steven Dear Rabbi, I have several questions about step-relations. Is one halachically allowed to attend the marriage between a parent and step-parent to be? I’ve heard it’s forbidden for the children to attend the wedding. Is there any basis for this? May a bar mitzva be called to the Torah as the son[…]

Graveside

From: Gary Dear Rabbi, Is there any benefit to visiting deceased people at their grave? Since if anything is accomplished, it’s spiritual, does it matter that one is physically present at the place of burial. Anyway, after time there are no remains of the body in the ground. Why should we go there? Dear Gary,[…]

Shalom Zachor

From: Tobi Dear Rabbi, My sister has given birth to a boy, and we are wondering about the custom of what we’ve been told is called “Shalom Zachor”, which seems to be some type of home-welcoming for the baby held on Shabbat. What is the reason for this custom? Where is the ceremony held and[…]

What’s in a Name?

From: Moshe Dear Rabbi, Would you please explain the significance of names in Judaism? Does it matter what name a person was given, or gives to his children? Dear Moshe, Naming is taken very seriously in Judaism. We find that the names of all the important and central figures of the Torah were significant and[…]

Name Calling Customs

From: Stephanie Dear Rabbi, My husband and I are expecting a birth soon, and we were wondering, if it will be a girl whether there are any special considerations or customs regarding giving a name. We are familiar with the name giving for a boy at the brit, but is there anything like this for[…]

Rearing the Yetzer

From: Olivia Dear Rabbi, I want to educate my children properly, but I am having difficulty with the concept of the “yetzer hara” or evil inclination. On the one hand, attributing bad behavior to the “yetzer hara” avoids giving children the impression that they, in essence, are bad when they do something wrong. But on[…]

Clothes of the Deceased

From: Leah and Feigie Dear Rabbi, We heard there’s a concept not to wear clothing of someone who has passed away. Does this always apply, and to what types of clothing? Dear Leah and Feigi, Jews are allowed to wear the clothing of a deceased person, but there has arisen a widespread custom – based[…]

Nomenclature

From: Allison Dear Rabbi, I need to give my daughter a Hebrew name. Someone I know said not only must the name be Hebrew but it must be Jewish as well. So on all these baby name websites that show Hebrew names for girls, many of them I like, he said I cannot use because[…]