Water Quality

From: Natan Dear Rabbi, I am a bit bewildered about the “quality” of water. Sometimes it’s associated with base passion or indulgence. Yet it is also very widely associated with the Torah. What is the resolution of this seeming contradiction? Dear Natan, You are right; water is described as having both qualities. Water is often[…]

Inclusive-Exclusive

From: Pablo Dear Rabbi, What is the Jewish approach to including non-observant Jewish people in the ritual or practice of the Jewish religion? Dear Pablo, This is a very intriguing and somewhat intricate question, which I’ll only be able to address in general terms within this venue. In a nutshell, the basic spirit of Judaism[…]

Torah Time-out

From: Anthony Dear Rabbi, We are taught how important it is to study Torah constantly. That the entire world rests upon those who learn Torah. So how is it possible to ever take time off from learning in order to do other important things in life like being with family, staying healthy, seeing G‑d’s world,[…]

Befit to Bless

From: Dennis Dear Rabbi, In our shul, there are kohanim who I am sure are not observant and who even transgress in public. I am wondering if they are allowed to perform the priestly blessing for the community, or if their blessing might be a curse, G‑d forbid. Dear Dennis, This question should rightly be[…]

Karet

From: Misha Dear Rabbi, Would you please explain the Torah punishment of “karet”? Dear Misha, The word karet means to be “cut off”. According to the classic Torah commentator Rabbeinu Bachya, Rabbi Bachya ben Asher ibn Halawa 1255-1340 (not to be confused with R’ Bachya ben Joseph ibn Paquda, author of Duties of the Heart,[…]

Blessing over Bad

From: Gil Dear Rabbi, I recently came across the concept of blessing G‑d over bad things that happen to a person just as one would do for good things that happen. What does this mean? Dear Gil, The concept you are referring to is based on a teaching of the Sages which states (Berachot 60a),[…]

Judaism or Judah-ism

From: Motti Dear Rabbi, Does the term “Judaism”, and hence the term “Jews”, come from the name of the Tribe of Judah? If so, why would the name be taken from that tribe as opposed to any of the other tribes? Or maybe the term “Judaism” does not come specifically from Judah? Dear Motti, It[…]

Matrilineal Descent

From: Nathan Dear Rabbi, What is the source of matrilineal descent in Judaism? Dear Nathan, The Mishna (Kidushin 66b) states that if a child’s mother is not Jewish, the child is not Jewish. The ensuing Gemora (Kidushin 68b) explains that this is derived from a verse within the Torah’s prohibition of intermarriage: “And you shall[…]