Joy on Succot

From: Anna Dear Rabbi, Would you please elaborate on the mitzva of rejoicing on Succot? Dear Anna, When the Temple stood, there was a special ceremony of rejoicing called “simchat beit hashoeva” which was associated with the drawing of water for the purpose of the special Succot water-libation and involved dancing by firelight throughout the[…]

Repent While Alive

From: Mattis Dear Rabbi, Nobody’s perfect, but as people get older they get better. Why repent when we’re young and we’re still likely to do wrong? Wouldn’t it be better to wait till we’re older and naturally stop transgressing? Dear Mattis, This reasoning may seem sound, but it’s totally wrong. Firstly, nobody knows when they’ll[…]

U’netane Tokef

From: Phillip Dear Rabbi, There is clearly a lot of trepidation and enthusiasm surrounding the “U’netane Tokef” liturgy in the Rosh Hashana prayer service. I’m wondering what it means and why it seems to be treated with extra special reverence. Dear Phillip, Indeed the U’netane tokef prayer is considered to be one of the more[…]

Response to Ruin

From: Carrie Dear Rabbi, Thank G‑d we are witnessing in our days a great rebuilding of our People and Homeland. Yet, it seems that most of our Holy places are still in ruin or occupied by others. How are we to relate to this “ruin” and why is it continuing? Dear Carrie, Regarding one who[…]

Torah, Milk and Honey

From: Melissa Dear Rabbi, I am hosting my first Shavuot meal this year and I’d like to know what to prepare. I know each holiday has its own special cuisine and featured foods, but I thought the basis for Shabbat and Holiday meals was always meat or poultry. My sister said that Shavuot is different[…]

Temple Service

From: Harry Dear Rabbi, All the recent events regarding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem have peaked my interest as to what role the Temple played in our past. As the holiday of Passover approaches, could you perhaps describe what it was like in Temple times? Dear Harry, The number of people who went up to[…]

A Tale of Two Cities

From: Allen Dear Rabbi, It seems to me that the ancient Greeks promoted good things like Science, the Arts and Physical fitness. Why does Chanuka “celebrate” the opposition to, and victory against, ancient Greek culture? Dear Allen, The ancient Greeks are viewed as descending from Yafet, the son of Noach. The name Yafet is related[…]

Lighting Left

From: Chava Dear Rabbi, It seems to me that the right side is usually given precedence in performing mitzvot. Why is the Chanuka menora lit on the left side of the doorway? Dear Chava, Many people nowadays light inside the house either on a table or in the window. But it is correct that according[…]

Yom Kippur Bow

From: Allen Dear Rabbi, Why do we bow down on the floor during the Yom Kippur prayers, (I think we do it several times), which is something we never do during the rest of the year? Is there nothing idolatrous about this? Dear Allen, You are referring to a specific part of the chazan’s repetition[…]

Shade of Faith

From: Gary Dear Rabbi, Why is the holiday of Succot and the succah associated with happiness? Personally I view being exposed to the elements or other dangers to be unsettling, at the least. Dear Gary, The way of the nations is not the way of Israel. It is the way of most people to feel[…]