Desirable Death

From: Baruch Dear Rabbi, I have been thinking a lot about death lately. Thank G‑d, it’s not that I’m ill or anything. But one always hears about some tragedy or other and it’s hard not to take that to heart. And even more generally, I’m wondering if it’s correct to contemplate death, and maybe even[…]

Pertinent Payer

From: Rachel Dear Rabbi, My question regards mistakenly continuing to pray for someone when that prayer is no longer relevant for that person. And I have two specific cases in mind: One involves continuing to daven for sick people after they have already passed. This can happen when people don’t update a list of cholim[…]

Birthdays – Jewish Sources

From: Robert Dear Rabbi, Does Judaism place any importance on birthdays, and are any birthdays considered to be more important than others? Dear Robert, This is a commonly asked question which applies to everybody and is thus worth exploring in more than one installment. Thus, in this first installment I’ll discuss the Torah sources about[…]

Birthdays – Jewish Customs

From: Robert Dear Rabbi, Does Judaism place any importance on birthdays, and are any considered to be more important than others? Dear Robert, In the first installment, we saw that according to Torah sources, birthdays generally can, and perhaps should, be commemorated and celebrated. In this installment, I’ll explore whether certain birthdays are more important[…]

Fathers and Sons

From: Alex Dear Rabbi, Our son is past bar-mitzva age. Unfortunately, he is not very interested in keeping mitzvot. No matter how much I try to encourage, convince, or even pressure him, he does not respond, and even gets angry to the point where the household gets full of tension, until my wife comes to[…]

Birthday Maze

From: Anna Dear Rabbi, My friend and I have the same birthday. If our birthdays are the same, why are the Hebrew dates for our birthdays different? Her Hebrew birthday is after mine. Dear Anna, If you and your friend had literally been born on the same day, you would both celebrate your birthdays, secular[…]


From: Marshall Dear Rabbi, I found your recent article on the Brit Milah ceremony very informative and interesting. There you mention the role of the “sandek”. Could you please elaborate on the meaning of that word, the source for the honor, who the honor is given to, and what is its significance? Dear Marshall, As[…]

Brit Milah Ceremony

From: Patricia Dear Rabbi, My daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism and married a Jewish man. They are expecting to have a boy, which of course will mean circumcising the baby according to Jewish practice. As gentiles, we would like to know what to expect about the ceremony in order to 1. Avoid as much as[…]

Rest in Peace

From: Joseph Dear Rabbi, What is the source and significance of erecting a tombstone and what purpose does it fulfill for the deceased? Dear Joseph, One source in the Torah for erecting a tombstone over the grave is found regarding the death and burial of Rachel: “So Rachel died, and she was buried on the[…]

Life Before Death

From: Andrew Dear Rabbi, My uncle recently passed away after a prolonged illness and many of those who were close to him who accompanied him throughout his illness, hospice and death noticed an elevated, spiritual “feeling” that surrounded him which strangely seemed to increase as he got more and more sick. Another thing we noticed[…]