Scents and Sensibility

From: Maya Dear Rabbi, What is the Jewish perspective on perfume for women or cologne for men, and when, or when not, are they considered appropriate? Dear Maya, From the Jewish perspective, the use of “perfume” in its many forms is considered simultaneously feminine and sensual. That means that it is considered appropriate only when[…]

Smacks of Slander

From: Melanie Dear Rabbi, There are two people I know who are not on good terms. In my opinion, one is the antagonist who makes up false accusations about the other. The antagonist, let’s call her A, was part of a group conversation where the other, let’s call her B, was mentioned. I took the[…]

Born This Way

From: Megan Dear Rabbi, I don’t understand this concept of working on myself to make myself better, a different person than I am. I like who I am, what I am. As the song goes, “I was born this way!” Or in rabbi talk, “G‑d made me as I am”. If so, why should I[…]

Jewish Dress

Jewish Dress From: Nathan Dear Rabbi, It seems to me that if there is such a thing as Jewish appearance, it’s not about dress or style but about the visual appearance of specific mitzvot such as tefillin, or actions in general according to Torah commands. Even what many might consider to be “Jewish dress” is not really Jewish, such as black and white among Ashkenazim, or[…]

Theater in Judaism

From: Ian Dear Rabbi, It seems to me that in addition to literature in the form of instructive stories, there is a fair representation of music and other artistic forms mentioned in the Torah, and applied in the service of G‑d in the Temple, and on other occasions. But it strikes me that theater doesn’t[…]

Valuable Lesson

From: Ryan Dear Rabbi, How important is it to clean up after oneself, particularly when someone else is paid to clean up after others, like in a restaurant or park? Dear Ryan, The Torah places great emphasis on both spiritual and material cleanliness. Material cleanliness includes preserving the environment and ensuring it remains as clean[…]

What’s in a Beard?

From: John Dear Rabbi, Why do Jews, or at least religious Jews, have beards and not shave? Someone told me it was in order to get blessing. Is this the reason? Dear John, It is true that Jewish mystical sources discuss the beard in the context of blessing – either being a source of blessing[…]